As William, life hadn’t been entirely satisfactory, and unlife as Spike was often just the same.
Vampires don’t wash kitchen floors.
Spike stared suspiciously at the mop in his hands, and gave the floor an experimental tickle with it.
Nope. Definitely. Vampires don’t wash kitchen floors.
Spike upended the shaggy-haired mop and thought of Xander. They could be buggering right now, and would be if Spike had gotten his way earlier. It was prime time. Dawn was out with Angel, Tara and Gunn, patrolling the cemeteries on the west side of town and, up until half an hour ago, Cordelia was helping Wesley with some ‘organisational issues’ which apparently required a brightly coloured diagram and a lecture on ‘knowing your customer/freak’.
Unfortunately for Spike and Xander, who had been busy not needing a diagram for what they were doing, Cordelia had been ejected from the Magic Box when Wesley mysteriously developed a throbbing headache, diarrhoea, menstrual cramps and anything else he could think of at short notice.
Cordelia was far too bossy, Spike decided as he turned the mop back up the right way and gave it another wiggle. Next thing, she’d be making him wear a bloody pinny. Christ, Spike was happy being a domesticated kitty, but there were limits. He was still a bad arse. He still had the grr and all the feral instincts that went with it. He was still a killer, a bad, rude man, and if Cordelia thought she could make him mop floors like some sort of ponce, she was very much mistaken. In fact, he was going to take that mop and shove it right up her-
“Spike, have you finished the floor yet?” Cordelia called.
“Nearly!” he called back.
Spike wilted and looked down at the floor. It wasn’t even dirty! What was the point?! He might as well just slop a load of water over the floor and leave it at that. Oh, there was a thought.
So, with a smirk, a silent chuckle and a little bit of vampiric speed, Spike dunked the mop head in the sink and simply wet the entire floor.
“Finished! I’ll just go help Xander with the bathroom.”
Spike left stunned silence in his wake. He took the stairs two at a time and found Xander sitting on the closed toilet lid, sponge in hand and looking thoughtful.
“Thinking about sex?” Spike asked.
“Um, actually I was thinking about how many months of life, in total, are lost due to pointlessly cleaning bathrooms which are already mostly clean. I’m thinking it’s probably close to about 5 months.”
“Oh. Wanna have sex instead?”
Xander looked positively depressed. “Cordelia won’t let us.”
“Shh! She’ll hear you! Do you not value your life?!”
“'Course. But I value my balls more and they’re ready to explode.” Spike snatched Xander’s completely dry sponge and tossed it into the bath. He grabbed his hand and pulled. “Sex now. Come on, luv, just a quickie, eh?”
“Oh, alright.” Really, Xander didn’t sound too put out by the suggestion. “I guess we could go for a record time.”
The bedroom door slammed behind them, and if Cordelia shrieked up at them from the floor below, it was unheard or ignored.
Spike stripped completely even before Xander had pulled off his t-shirt. Xander grinned back him.
“You really are keen.”
Spike waited for Xander to toss the shirt, then he pounced, pushing Xander against the wall and devouring his mouth in a rough kiss. His hands touched bare flesh wherever they could reach.
Xander scrabbled to unzip his jeans, hindered by Spike’s constant movements, roaming hands and eager lips.
“Fuck,” Spike panted between kisses to Xander’s neck. “You’re so hot. So beautiful.” He stopped and surveyed his lover, finally stepping away and just looking while Xander rid himself of the remainder of his clothes.
“I’m not,” Xander said. He looked embarrassed, his cheeks flushing pink.
“You are. Perfect.”
Xander looked away and flushed a deeper shade of red. “I'm not like you. I'm not strong or fast. I'm just normal. Human." Xander laughed and it had an edge of bitterness. "A geek."
Spike stepped back into Xander’s personal space. His hands went to Xander’s chest and his lips to Xander’s cheek. “You’re perfectly mine. So strong, so beautiful. Besides, I happen to have a taste for geeks.” He began to move his hips, his voice dropping to a whisper as both men moved together. It was slow at first, careful and loving as Spike poured what he felt for Xander into gentle thrusts of his hips and slow, deep kisses.
There really wasn’t time for much more. Cordelia would be pounding up the stairs any second and Dawn and Tara were due back anytime soon.
Spike found himself being pulled to the bed and roughly thrown down onto it. He made sure to pull Xander down with him and then they were a tangle of arms legs, tongues and cocks. They both fought each other, a domination struggle they both liked to indulge in when the mood struck. But when Xander groaned, his voice thick with need, Spike ended the little battle and pounced again, pinning Xander solidly to the bed. His hand slipped between them, gripping Xander firmly and stroking infuriatingly slowly until Xander got the message and reach down to reciprocate.
It was tempting to close his eyes and drift away with the sensations as Xander sped up his movements, but Spike wanted to see, wanted to watch. So they locked eyes and just came together.
The emotions came flooding at Spike at once. The pain of his past, the grief of losing everyone he’d ever loved -- Cecily, his mother, Dru, Buffy -- the fear of his new life with the chip and then without it. It was all still inside him, twirling and winding around his heart, and Spike suspected it would always remain. He was absolutely certain of one thing only: without Xander and Dawn, his family now, his grief would have already consumed him.
He wrapped his arms around Xander, breathing heavily and hiding his face against Xander’s neck.
The days ahead were dangerous, as they probably always would be, and Spike was prepared to face them head-on. As a group, they were as prepared as they could be, but the simple fact was, they were out numbered. It was likely they wouldn’t all make it.
Spike wasn’t sure how he would cope with the loss of his friends.
But if he lost Xander and Dawn? Then there would be nothing left. Spike would stay long enough to ensure Angel was staying put, and then he would say goodbye and join his family.
“I love you, Xander.” Because maybe he wouldn’t get another chance to say it.
Spike stalked around the room and watched Dawn kick and punch the life out of a hapless wooden dummy. She had a lot of power in her but, as usual, she wasn’t tapping into it.
Her strikes were enough to knock a normal man into next week and back, but against a souped-up vamp like Riley? It wasn’t going to happen. Her style was too haphazard, too…busy.
“Stop, stop, stop,” Spike said, walking onto the training mat. "You’re wasting too much energy."
“Says who?” Dawn said, wiping sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She looked annoyed.
“Says the expert.”
Dawn looked at him blankly.
“Me, you cheeky little…”
“Just teasing.” She smiled suddenly, poked him, and bounced out of reach. “So show me how it’s done.”
“Right. I’m gonna come at you with everything I’ve got. I’m the Big Bad,” Spike explained in a bored tone, “and I’m going to vamp you. Grr.”
“Sure I’m sure. Hit me, Spikey.”
Spike shrugged and pulled back his fist. Dawn blocked him easily, so Spike spun and kicked, aiming for her face. She ducked backwards out of the way and then ducked to the floor as Spike’s other leg hurtled around, whooshing over her head, just brushing her hair. Spike punched again and when Dawn caught his fist in her hand, he turned and aimed his elbow at her face.
“Too easy, Spike!” she said, blocking it.
“Yeah? How about this then?”
Spike punched and kicked harder and faster, making Dawn work until they were both sweating buckets and panting with the sheer exertion of it all.
“Stop!” Spike called.
“Ha! You didn’t get me.”
“Nope,” Spike agreed. He grinned at her and turned to pick up a towel from the floor. He wiped his face. “So did you see the problem?”
“No. There was no problem.”
“Yeah, there was. There is. Look at us! We’re bloody exhausted! It’s all well and good when you’re fighting a single vamp, but if you fight like I just did when we face Riley, you’re dead.”
Spike ignored the twitch in his gut and continued. “Think you can fight twenty or more vamps at that pace?”
Dawn looked unsure, her confidence sliding away. “Maybe,” she said.
Spike shook his head. “No.”
“So what am I supposed to do?”
“Oh, that’s easy, Little Bit.” Spike turned to throw down his towel. When turned back, he struck Dawn in the face with a backhand that knocked her across the room.
“Ow, fuck, Spike!”
“What you do is, you take them by surprise. Don’t advertise your move. Wait for your opening. Fight dirty and fight quickly. Fancy fighting styles are all well and good and there’s a place for them, definitely, but if you can drop a vamp by shattering its kneecap with a single kick or smash its jaw with a good old fashioned sucker punch, then for fuck’s sake do it, luv. Don’t waste time.”
Dawn rubbed dejectedly at her rapidly bruising jaw. “I see your point – actually, I feel your point.” Then she added in a quiet voice: “You could have just said.”
Spike shook his head. “You might have forgotten. Won’t forget that though, will you?”
“Unlikely,” Dawn said with a roll of her eyes.
“Hey, guys,” Xander called from the doorway. “Can I interrupt?”
“Please do,” Dawn muttered.
“Great. I was just thinking it was time you two had a break. There’s coffee out here, and cookies and, uh, other stuff.”
“You want us to shift shelves again, don’t you?” Dawn asked.
Xander winced guiltily. “Just two.”
“Fine,” Dawn breathed, and then she stalked out of the room.
“Tension?” Xander asked Spike when Dawn had disappeared into the shop.
“Just teaching her a few things to keep her alive.” Spike couldn’t say he was completely happy with his own teaching methods, but these were desperate times. He was prepared to argue his point if he had to.
“Actually…” Xander started, “I saw.”
“Right. I didn’t break anything,” Spike replied awkwardly. "She’ll be healed before the night’s out.”
Xander nodded. “Okay. I guess she just learned the hard way.”
“There’s no time for her to grasp her powers any other way.”
Xander nodded again and grinned that lopsided smile that once made Spike want to vomit but now made him want to melt into a little puddle. “Sure. I get it. But for your future reference, I always learn the easy way; I’m convenient like that. Now quit your stalling and come help me move these shelves.”
The two shelves turned out to be the two floor-to-ceiling cabinets Xander had finished making the previous week. They were similar to the ones he’d made for Giles the year before, but these were fitted with glass doors covering each shelf and a sliding wooden cupboard along the bottom. Spike had helped with fitting the doors and the varnishing and he was quietly very proud. The only downside to the cabinets was that they were immensely heavy, and now they were dry and ready to be touched, they needed to be moved into position.
Dawn and Spike worked together, Dawn silent and a little sullen.
“This alright?” Spike called over his shoulder as he eased his side of the cabinet against the wall.
Cordelia opened her mouth, but Wesley held up his hand and quickly spoke before she could make any reference to her colour-coded diagram. “Perfect. Thank you both.”
“Welcome,” Spike said. “Ready for another round?” he asked Dawn as he turned around. He hoped she wouldn’t sulk all evening; he was due to patrol with her in an hour and he didn’t want to do it in silence.
“Are you kidding? I’m so beyond ready. I am going to kick your butt, Spike, like it’s never been kicked before.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Spike laughed. “You can…try.” He finished his sentence from the floor.
“Like that?” Dawn asked. “Is that what you meant earlier? Did I get it right?” She blinked innocently down at him and flexed her fingers.
Around the room, everyone was in varying degrees of shock.
For a few moments, Spike was also in shock, but then he grinned. She was a fast learner, and that punch was hard enough that Spike was keen to avoid it next time. “Good girl. Fancy trying it on Angel when he gets back?”
“What are you setting me up for?” Angel asked, holding the door to the Magic Box open for Tara, Gunn and Fred. “Why are you on the floor?”
Spike accepted a hand-up from Dawn. He dusted himself down and tried to look casual. “I was teaching her.”
“Power Napping 101?”
Angel ignored him and turned to Xander. “We’ve spotted some vamps hanging around Sunset Hills Mortuary.”
“We figure they’re waiting for their next platoon to wake up,” Fred added.
Xander sucked in a large breath. “Is the tracking spell ready?” he asked Tara. She nodded. “How many of them?”
“I counted eleven,” Angel said.
The Magic Box was silent. Spike looked up just as Xander glanced over. Spike gave a minute nod.
“Oh god,” Xander said, running his hand though his already messy hair. “So this is it. This is phase one.”
“Yep,” Gunn said. “Time to bag us a homing beacon.”
“Are we ready for this?” Angel asked.
Xander seemed to consider this, and for a second Spike worried that Xander was going to freak out, but then he pulled himself up and looked over at Fred. “Are all the weapons ready? The stunners?”
Fred smiled reassuringly. “Go-Go-Gadget Stun Gun!”
“The truck?” Xander asked Gunn. “Although I’m hoping we won’t need it just yet.”
“She’s ready to roll. And skewer.”
“I have a few spells up my sleeve,” Wesley said proudly.
Dawn raised her hand. “And I have to prove to Spike that I can dust more vamps than him.”
“You’re on, Bit.”
Xander shrugged, raising his arms and dropping them to his sides. He turned to Angel. “Then I guess we’re ready.”
Stealth and surprise were the name of the game. The vampires spotted by Angel’s patrol party were still outside the mortuary, some of them stationed by the front and back doors and some of them standing guard out in the cemetery itself.
“I reckon it’s safe to assume anyone inside is dead,” Spike said.
Angel shook his head and peered around the tree he and Spike were hiding behind. “I don’t think anyone was there. The lights were off earlier when they first arrived.”
“I think we’re clear,” Wesley whispered from his bush a few feet away.
Angel checked again and then waved the others forward.
They kept low to the ground and moved silently across the grass. The plan was to surprise the unit, attack and eliminate all but one of Riley’s men, and leave the remaining one to escape by the skin of its teeth with a tracker spell attached to its arse.
“There’s got to be at least another four inside,” Angel said.
“Plus anymore that happened along,” Dawn added.
“No. There would be no need.”
“But when they attacked you-” Dawn started to argue.
“That was different. It was a co-ordinated attack. This is collection.”
Dawn opened her mouth again, agitated, but Spike shushed her with a hand on her arm. “Don’t bother, pet. You can’t win an argument with an inanimate object.”
Xander snickered, Cordelia huffed and Spike grinned unrepentantly. Angel didn’t bother with a retort.
They crept closer to the mortuary, until they were just a few feet away. There was no door at the side, but there was a nice convenient window.
“Spike, keep everyone down and quiet until you see my signal. Dawn, you’re with me.”
Spike got himself comfortable on the ground while Angel led his group through the window and out of sight. He wasn’t happy letting Dawn fight without him.
“She’ll be fine with Angel,” Xander whispered next him.
“Yeah.” But Spike didn’t sound convinced.
“Angel would give his life for her.”
Spike studied his lover, a puzzled frown on his face. “I never thought you’d ever trust him.”
“I don’t,” Xander said quickly. “At least not with everything. But I trust him with Dawn. He’ll protect her with everything he’s got – for Buffy.”
“Just like me, I suppose.”
Xander shook his head. “No, you protect her for her.”
They stared at each other and Spike remembered his declaration from a few days ago, the look of surprise and relief on Xander’s face and the goofy way he smiled when he said the words back. Spike would do anything for Xander and anything for Dawn. He’d give his life for them.
“That was quick,” Wesley said in a low voice behind them. He pointed to the side of the building and Spike saw Dawn and Angel emerge. Angel was wearing a tragic expression and Dawn was wearing one of utter glee.
“I’m gonna go with the look on Dawn’s face,” Cordelia said. Everyone nodded.
Angel waved his hand again and Gunn carefully made his way around the side of the building and back again. He nodded and held up two fingers and then three. That meant the two guards by the front door were still there and there were three more further down in the cemetery. Dawn also held up two fingers and pointed to the back. Those were good odds which meant a happy Spike.
When Angel and Dawn had rejoined them after taking out the two at the back, Spike led them around the side and down into the cemetery. The other three vamps weren’t far from the building, maybe 30 feet away, guarding the entrance to the cemetery from the mortuary.
Guns aimed and ready, Xander and Gunn waited.
“Which one do we let go?” Cordelia asked.
“The tall, blond one,” Xander said. “His hair shows up most in the dark. We’re less likely to accidentally kill him.”
“Good point,” Spike said. “Tara, you happy with that?”
She nodded and consulted her spell book for the fiftieth time that hour.
“Right, you stay here, then. Queen C, Fredilicous, stay with her.”
“Got it,” Fred said, waving her stunner to show she was ready.
“Xan, Gunn, fire at the two guards on my say-so. Aim for the chest, see if you can knock them down and keep them down long enough to run and get ‘em with the stakes. Wes, get ready to back them up, but don’t step in front of the bullets. Dawn, Angel, you’re with me – we’re going for the short fella and the one with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Everyone clear?”
They all nodded.
“Tara? Do your thing.”
Tara closed her eyes and immediately Spike felt the air shift. A cool breeze caressed his face and, not for the first time, Spike wondered just how powerful Tara had become. She held a large cloth on her lap which was large enough to fall over her knees. With her eyes still closed, Tara moved her lips in a silent chant, blessing or possibly prayer.
Spike flinched back when Tara’s eyes popped open. She stared into the darkness, directly at the tall, blond vampire, her target, and continued to mutter. It was unnerving. Her eyes didn’t seem to be her own, maybe even a different colour. Then she blinked and looked down at the cloth on her lap. Where it had previously been blank, it now showed a map of Sunnydale and a still, glowing dot.
“Bloody hell. You didn’t even say anything out loud. Or sprinkle anything!”
Tara smiled broadly. “That stuff is for amateurs.”
“How long will the spell last?” Dawn asked.
“Indefinitely. Or until I undo it. Or until he dies.”
“We ready then?” Spike asked. “Let’s do this.”
The guns cracked like thunder in the surrounding silence and the two vampires at the front door crumpled immediately. Xander had hit his in the chest twice, while Gunn had gone the cocky route and planted a bullet between his vamp’s eyes, blowing out the back of his head. Xander and Gunn ran to finish them off, Wesley tailing them.
The other three vamps were moving to intercept, but Dawn, Angel and Spike cut them off. Spike tackled the blond once first to get him out of the picture, breaking his arm and throwing him out of the fight. Angel took his sweet time with his opponent, but Dawn dropped hers with one well timed feint and a good solid kick. She smiled smugly at Spike.
“Like that?” she said, turning around. “OUCH!” And then she fell forward, clutching the back of her head. Her vampire wasn’t quite as stunned as she'd thought, and he sprang forward, throwing himself at Dawn and at the stake Spike had inserted between them.
Spike glimpsed the vampire’s mouth form a surprised ‘o’ before it exploded into dust.
“Angel, wait!” Spike shouted before Angel could finish off his opponent. “How about some live training?” He glanced over his shoulder and was pleased to note the blond tracker had already fled.
Angel stepped back and waved his consent. Xander, Gunn and Wesley joined him. “What’s going on?” Xander asked. “Why isn’t this one polluting the air already?”
Spike circled the vampire and Angel did the same. “Dawn needs to get her teeth into something that wiggles. Up for it, Dawnifer?”
Dawn shook her hair back. “Of course,” she said, her head held high.
The vampire, looking understandably worried and uncertain, edged away, and then edged the other way when Wesley and Xander sidestepped him. He got only so far before Fred, Cordelia and Tara blocked him, and Spike was almost afraid at the look of maniacal menace on Fred’s face as she squeezed at the little black stunner in her hands; the stunner crackled and fizzed in warning.
The Scoobies spread out, forming a large circle with Dawn and the vampire in the middle.
“Show us what you can do, Bit. Maximum damage, minimum effort. You can’t use your stake.”
Dawn swept the vampire’s legs from under him, caught his arm as he fell, and cracked it over her knee. The bone snapped and the vampire shrieked in agony and thrashed. Dawn bounced out of the way and waited for him to get to his feet. She stood stock still, staring down her opponent, concentrating on his every move, and when the vampire was done desperately searching for a way out of the circle, he charged at her. Dawn caught him easily, moving at precisely the right moment to catch his injured arm and snap it back the other way. When he fell to his knees, she grasped his head firmly with both hands and twisted. As she let him fall backwards, Dawn spun, snatched the stake grasped loosely in Spike’s hand, and plunged it into the vampire’s heart.
“How was that?” she asked, dusting herself down.
Spike’s face was expressionless. “I said not to use a stake.”
“No, you said not to use my stake. You said nothing about using your stake.”
Spike’s face remained blank for a few moments before his lips curved into a slow, luxurious smile. “That’s my girl. Slayer’s got to know how to listen to the little details, isn’t that right, Wes?”
“Yes, absolutely. That was a good lesson. Well done everyone. And I also believe our clueless friend is right now on his way back to his boss. Might I suggest we return to the Magic Box to make our observations?”
The circle broke up and they started walking back towards the road. Spike and Xander drifted off to the side, walking together, apart from the others. Xander took Spike’s hand and smiled almost shyly at him.
“Uh, you actually didn’t think she’d use your stake, did you?”
“Nope. Don’t you dare tell her.”
“Would I do such a treacherous thing to my beloved?”
“Oh. But chocolate will keep me quiet.”
Spike snorted. “Yeah? But I’ve got something in my trousers that’ll keep you quieter still.”
“True. But that wouldn’t be very good blackmail on my behalf, would it? Unless you covered it in chocolate first. Huh.”
Xander looked as though he was seriously considering it, and Spike was seriously thanking whichever god made him buy chocolate frosting on their last shopping trip.
“I can’t believe this is nearly over,” Xander said out of the blue.
“Thank fuck,” Spike added.
“Do you think we’ll attack tomorrow night?”
Spike shook his head. “Reconnaissance tomorrow. Me, Dawn and Angel will check the place out, see what cover we’ve got, how much space. Maybe we can find a way to lure them out of their lair.”
“Then we strike.”
“Then we strike,” Spike repeated.
Xander stopped them. He cupped Spike’s face in his hands and kissed him tenderly. “I’m not very good at the fluffy stuff, you know, being such a manly man and all, but I just wanted to say… I want to make sure… Just… This is big, really big, and I’m not stupid, I know what the stakes are here… Just don’t leave me, okay?”
“I won’t, luv. I promise. We’re gonna do this right. No fuck ups, yeah?”
Xander nodded, “No fuck ups,” and kissed him.
Beta'd by kitty_poker1