Beta'd by kitty_poker1.
“What’s going on, Spike?” Angel hurried to keep up. Maybe he was the one with the longer legs, but Spike was definitely the one with several bees in his bonnet. “Spike, slow down.”
“Bollocks, you walk faster,” Spike snapped back. “This isn’t a time for dawdling. Maybe that was the way of things back in LA, but this the Hellmouth, in case you’d forgotten. We walk faster here; dawdling equals dying, simple fact.”
Angel lengthened his stride until he was matching Spike’s pace. “Babbling, Spike? Xander really has been rubbing off on you. And there’s a mental image I’d rather not have.”
“Xander’s hot and you know it,” Spike said, adjusting his grip on the box of coins. “But you getting all jealous over my boyfriend isn’t the point right at this minute, is it? Jesus Angel, there’s a time and a place.”
Spike cut him off. “Did you see what they were wearing?”
“The vampires in the tunnels?”
“Yep.” Spike nodded and picked up his pace further. There was something creeping through his skin and snaking around his bones, a feeling so ominous that it made The Amityville Horror seem like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. “They were dressed in army gear.”
Angel frowned silently as they turned into Revello Drive. “Army gear?” Angel asked when Spike looked impatiently at him.
“You gone deaf in your old age? Yes, army gear.”
Angel seemed to ponder this as they walked. The vampires they’d just encountered were strong and as far as he could remember they were all dressed in similar dark clothes. “I would say more army-esque.”
“Bleedin’ hell, how gay are you?”
“Excuse me? I’m not the one dating Xander Harris.”
The Summers’ house was in sight now and Spike wondered if Angel felt the same stab of pain in his heart that he had felt the first few times he’d walked this route. Afterwards. “Hardly the point,” he argued, risking a quick glance at Angel’s stoic expression. His grandsire was giving nothing away, but Spike knew him better than that.
“You are sleeping with another man,” Angel pointed out. “You can’t get gayer than that.”
“Again, not the point. There is gay and then there is gay. You are definitely the latter.”
“You are such an ass, Spike. That must be why you and Xander fit so well; he’s such a-”
Spike shoved at Angel’s shoulder. “Will you just pay attention?! They were in army gear, all of them.”
Angel glanced down, shooting Spike an expression which wasn’t half as annoyed as it could have been. “I guess they were all dressed in a similar way.”
“Not similar,” Spike huffed. “The same. I’m telling you, they looked military.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because they were dressed that way, they were in the tunnel which connects somehow to the old Initiative base and because I saw a patch.” Spike tapped his arm. “Little embroidered, round thingummy right there. It had wings on it or something. I’m sure they all had it. Military.”
Angel was silent for moment while he thought it over. “Initiative?”
“Probably. Maybe. Could be some vamp reckons himself a Master and is trying to train himself a little army.”
“That would explain the increase in vampire attacks. But what about the fledges? That doesn’t really explain how they were so strong.”
“What am I? Answer man? I don’t fucking know, do I?” Spike jogged up to the house. It was dark inside, no lights on and no sounds of movement.
“Why wasn’t Xander at The Magic Box?”
“Dunno.” There was a note tacked to the door, the white of the paper bright against the darkness around it. Spike snatched it and squinted in the dim light, more out of a human habit that he’d never discarded than not actually being able to see it.
“Is it Xander?” Angel asked, moving to stand next to him.
Spike rolled his eyes. He was doing that so often now that Angel was here he couldn’t help but wonder if they’d get stuck, like, going around and around like two cookies on a turntable. “You’ve really got a hard on for my boy, haven’t you?” He was joking, of course. If he thought for one moment that Angel did have the hots for Xander, Cordelia would have to tumble him back to LA minus all his limbs.
“Spike. I don’t have a lot of patience at the best of times…”
Spike caught the name at the bottom of the page and he felt himself stiffen. “Riley fucking Finn.”
Spike raised an eyebrow at him. “Buffy’s Initiative piece.”
The eyebrow stayed up and was accompanied by a round of head-shaking. “You are so dense. Her bit on the side.”
It finally seemed to click. “The Marine.”
“That’s him.” There was growling, but Spike wasn’t sure it was all coming from him.
“That’s a coincidence,” Angel said. He folded his arms and adopted a look that was half put-out and half bored. Fake bored. “What does it say?”
Spike thrust out the note and as soon as Angel took it he turned away and began pacing the length of the front garden and back. “Says he’s in town on a hunt. Some of the Initiative jarheads got turned when everything went to shit and Riley Fuck Face Finn has been watching over them all this time.”
Angel read the rest of the note. “This is crazy. I can’t believe they kept them alive.” He looked incredulously at Spike. “And they escaped?”
Spike marched back and snatched the note, ignoring Angel’s complaint of a paper cut. He held out the note in an exaggerated motion and read aloud: “But don’t worry, Xand, I’ve rounded them all up and they won’t be causing any more problems. Sorry I missed you.”
Angel removed his thumb from his mouth with a wet pop. “Ha! Rounded them up?! So we just dusted five figments of our imaginations, did we?”
“Must have,” Spike agreed sarcastically. “And I suppose the bird we’ve just dropped off at the hospital was attacked by blood-sucking squirrels, eh?”
Angel huffed. “I hate squirrels.”
“You and me both, mate. Evil little fuckers.”
“Everyone thinks they’re all furry and cute.”
Spike nodded. “If only they knew, mate. If only they knew.”
They both nodded at each, bonding slightly over their shared hatred. Angel finally cleared his throat and jolted Spike from his thoughts.
“Useless bastard,” Spike said. “Just like normal. I hate that bloke. I know we’ve got to clear up the rest of his mess, but thank fuck we missed him.”
“I only met him once,” Angel admitted. “But there was something about that guy I hated. If you looked closely enough, he had this crazy look in his eyes.” His voice dropped to a mutter. “Don’t know what Buffy saw in him.”
Spike patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry, mate, he actually was a bit crazy. Paid these vamps to suck on him.”
Angel winced. “Ouch.”
“Not like that! He paid them to feed from him. He liked the buzz.”
“See? Crazy. I knew it all along. I’m just glad he left before he got Buffy killed. I take it she found out?”
“Thanks to yours truly. Anyway, it would never have worked. Buffy’s heart belonged to you. No one else could ever have had it.” Spike suddenly realised he was being far too nice. Xander was going to kill him if he ever found out. “Must be ‘cause you’re such a ponce.”
Angel blinked at him, clearly lost for what to say. He was saved from having to choose a response by Fred and Dawn. “Hey, guys!”
“Wow,” said Fred. “Glum faces.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that?” Dawn asked Spike. “Have you been fighting again? Xander encouraged you, didn’t he?”
Spike put his hands on Dawn’s shoulders. “Where is Xander? Have you seen him?”
Dawn shook her head “We went for a walk around and then went to the Espresso Pump. The Magic Box lights were already out; I just thought he’d already gone home.”
Spike mulled that over for a moment. “What time was that? When were the lights out?”
“About an hour ago,” Dawn answered. “Why, isn’t he here? Spike, why isn’t Xander here?”
Spike gripped Dawn’s shoulders tightly and the two of them stared at each other, thoughts and imaginations racing.
“Okay, let’s not panic,” Angel said. “He’s probably on his way now. Maybe he…went for groceries. Cordelia does that a lot. Scared the hell out of me for the first few months. Are you low on milk? Bagels? Diet Coke?”
Spike gave him a dirty look. “I think we were good,” he said slowly and with a hint of menace.
“Seriously, Spike, I’m sure he’s fine, but we can take a look around if you’re worried.”
“Where the bleeding hell have you been?”
Xander rolled his eyes and ignored his boyfriend's snarling. He knew it was mainly the fact that Spike was worried about him that made him so grouchy. Either that or some weird form of vampire PMS. “Looking for you guys. I swear to god, the first thing we're investing in is a calling plan. And everyone, including those of us who was born before good ol' Alex Bell, will learn to use it.”
“Fucking hell, it's not a joke, Xander!”
“I know, but I figure if I came in here all serious like you'd worry even more. Where is everyone?”
Spike sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Getting ready to go out on patrol on the off chance we had to save your bloody arse. Well, the chits are... Mister Personality is downstairs making up a cot. Bastard would rather sleep down there instead of the couch.”
Xander grinned. “That probably has something to do with me threatening to open the blinds on him the other day.” His smile faded and he got serious. “Listen, before Dawn comes down I need to tell you...Riley Finn called the Magic Box looking for Buffy or Giles.”
Spike turned away from him with a growl and for a moment Xander thought that his lover was going to put his fist through the wall. He hurried to tell him all of it so Spike could go ahead and explode all at once. “I told him, you know...that Buffy and Anya and Joyce were dead and Giles was gone. I don't think I mentioned the witches but I did let him know that you were still in town and that he should just leave. He wanted to come here and visit Dawn but I pretty much told him no and hung up on him.”
Spike growled even more loudly and stalked over to the dining room table, picking up a piece of paper and shoving it in Xander's hands as he slammed out the front door. The sound of Doc Martens going back and forth reassured him that his lover hadn't left; he was just outside, pacing and smoking. He'd never gotten in the habit of smoking inside the house, saying that Joyce would come back and haunt them if he gave her daughter lung cancer.
Xander sighed and looked down the note and swore. Just what they needed, highly trained Marines and Army officers, turned into vampires and snacking on the populace.
“He didn't get them all. We killed a few in the tunnels when we were there.”
Xander yelped and spun around to see Angel leaning on the doorway to the kitchen. “Stop that! With the sneaking and the leaning and silent menacing!” He stopped to catch his breath for a moment, noticing that Angel was caught between amusement and guilt.
He so was going to find a bell and shove it up the brooding vampire's ass.
“So...Riley didn't get them all. I'm surprised. Last time he went vampire hunting around here, the grenades at least stunned them enough for him to stake them.”
If possible, Angel looked even more confused than normal. “Grenades?”
“Yeah, grenades. I mean, I'm all for blowing up things. I brought marshmallows to Graduation with me, for god's sake. But using grenades on a nest of fledges is just plain overkill, especially when we had plans to make it a group slay. Team bonding, you know? Slay, make fun of the fledges, go out to the Bronze afterwards or something. But no...Riley had to go all Mr. Lone Wolf and do it himself.”
Xander shook his head. “I sometimes think whatever the Initiative did to him really messed with his mind. I mean, he even doubted that Buffy loved him. Okay, she didn't love him like she was hung up on you, but I count that as a good thing.” He glanced over at Angel. “No offence, but even without the whole vampire thing you and Buffy would have been too wrapped up in each other. I mean, I love Spike but we do realize that there are other people besides the two of us.”
Angel sighed and walked over to take a seat on the couch. It was odd, seeing the vampire sitting where Joyce usually did. “It's true, we did tend to get wrapped up in each other.”
“Yeah, well, I always thought that Riley was good for Buffy. I mean, he was normal and that's what she wanted. Well, we thought he was normal and, really, compared to you he was. Riley could at least take her out on a picnic on the beach during the day, you know? I think that when Buffy's Mom got sick she just had so much going on with her and with Dawn she started to pull away. And instead of being supporto-boy Riley got knotted that he couldn't do more for Buffy, never mind that she wasn't letting him do anything. That was Buffy's fault and I told her. Still, that's no reason to sell yourself out as a snack cake for vamps.”
“And yet you let Spike almost bite you.”
Xander sighed and sat down in the recliner. He was very aware of the fact that Spike had suddenly stopped pacing on the porch and was listening in. “It's different...with me and Spike. We're in a relationship. I'm not walking up to every Tom, Dick and Vlad asking them to suck my blood, you know? It's like...the difference between having kinky sex with your spouse or going out every night with a different hooker and getting freaky. We have a commitment to each other, so if Spike wants to bite me and we talk about it beforehand and agree about it and set up boundaries, it's okay. Besides, I would do it to be closer to Spike, and I know he wouldn't hurt me unless I wanted to be hurt. Riley didn't know that about those vampires.”
The door opened and closed as Spike came in and leaned over the back of his chair. Cool hands that smelled of tobacco ran through his hair. “Besides, Xander knows where I've been. Never do know what some fledge has had his mouth on at those fucking blood bars.”
Xander decided a change of subject was needed. “Well, we'll just keep an eye out on the tunnels and campus in case there are more and hope Riley left. It's what he's good at. Did you guys get the treasure?”
“Not all of it, but we got enough.”
Spike snorted. “Enough. Hell, there's enough to keep all three girls in fripperies and you in Twinkies for the rest of your life.”
Xander twisted in his chair to look at Spike. “But there's more there?”
Spike gave him a look. “Yeah, but it's not like we need all of it... Xander, what the fuck is rolling around that empty head of yours?”
“Well, we might not use it but I bet that other people could. I mean, Gunn talks about his gang; I bet they could use better weapons and, well, stuff. And we could support that runaway shelter that Cordy was telling us about that helped Wes when he was shot. And Fred used to go to college before she was sucked into wherever the hell that Hell was...I bet we could use the rest of that treasure and do a lot of good with it. That way Brood Boy over there will stop angsting about robbing graves and all that crap.”
Spike growled and pulled at his hair. “Fucking hell, 'm not doing it! Bad enough that I'm doing the do-gooder routine to keep you and the Bit alive and out of a Hell dimension, I am not turning myself into some Secret Fucking Santa handing out bank notes and candy canes to every other White Hat in California!”
Xander grinned. “No, I fully expect you to invest in a case of Jack Daniels. We’ll leave that up to Angel.”
Instead of totally dismissing the idea, Angel actually looked thoughtful. Or constipated. Xander was never really sure. His attention was drawn to the stairs as both Dawn and Fred came bounding down them. He could never figure out if Fred hadn't aged while in Pylea, or if she'd been Dawn's age when she was in college. Either way, it was hard to think that she was actually older than him when she acted as if she was still a teenager.
“Now that we have money and all, can I go shopping again? Because really, I know Buffy could go slaying in dress shoes but I am so not taking the chance.”
Xander looked at Spike and they did one of those silent discussion things before turning to Dawn and grinning. “I think we can swing it once Spike has hocked it or whatever he's going to do. Cell phones come first, though, so we don't go running around town like I did today.”
“OOH! Cell phones! Cool! I want one that'll take pictures!”
Fred raised her hand. “Really, something like that would be helpful for research. I mean, I can't tell you how many times it would have helped having a picture instead of Gunn telling us to look up a demon that was really big and smelly and had a horn. Do y'all know how many big, smelly, horny demons there are?”
Xander couldn't help it; he snickered and Fred gave him a look. “All right, cell phones with cameras to identify the horny demons it is.” He then made the mistake of looking at Spike and they both fell about laughing.