All About Spike
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Things Present Things Past
By Estepheia and Marcee

Part 31 - Old Habits Die Hard

*Stay cool. Just. Stay. Cool.* Xander repeated over and over again. The sounds of howling and shrieking seemed to be getting closer. Xander stood still, waiting. Listening. His eyes were trained on the dark wooden door. He stared past the broken side tables and the makeshift barricade of beds to the grimy silver knob of the entrance to Ward 5. He could hear his heart drumming in his ears even louder than the moans and cries of the terrified women behind him. His right arm still hurt like hell, but thanks to the medical treatment he'd received, he could use it again. Besides, what was it his swim coach used to say? `There's pain and there's injury, boys.' The man had been stark raving mad and ruthless to boot but not stupid. *Pain or no, any vampire who walks through that door has to go through me first.*

Helen was beside him with a small cross in one hand that she'd pried from the bathroom wall just moments ago. Her watchful eyes flicked back and forth between the strange man and the door.

"If any of them get in, you hold that cross in front of you. Don't let go, okay? It will protect you," Xander explained rapidly.

Helen nodded curtly.

Xander took a moment to glance back at the women huddled in the back of the room. He had armed several of the more lucid women with crude stakes and told them to stab "Don't hit" with them. He knew that these women were too weak and afraid to do more than faint or wail if a vampire actually made it through the door, but maybe - just maybe, they could do a bit of damage if it actually came to that.

"Mr. Harris?"

"Call me Xander," he said as he turned to the brave woman beside him. "Yea, Helen?"

"God Bless You," she said. And then there was a loud bang on the door to Ward 5, and Xander almost passed out.

Luckily, the women screamed loud enough to keep Xander alert. Another loud bang; the wooden door splintered into a web of sharp timbers. Xander stood wide-eyed and rigid. There was another loud crash and the door finally exploded inward. There was a mangled body behind the force of the shattered door, and it thudded into the debris in front of him. A mass of bloody limbs twisted between metal bed frames. The poor chap was only recognizable as a fellow patient by the blood soaked tatters of what was left of his straitjacket.

Xander took an involuntary step back, nearly tripped over remaining wreckage, and accidentally dropped his stake. Through the warped iron bars of the bed frames, he could see a slender figure approaching. His eyes widened in recognition and he fought hard to retain a shred of bravery.

Darla stepped through the doorway into the wreckage and grinned wickedly at her terrified prey. "Oh look," she said. "The lunatic's got a cross. Scaaary." She snickered. "You think God will protect you?"

"Stay back," Xander warned. His voice was louder and clearer than he imagined it could be in this situation. *Am I imagining things - scary thought, seeing that I'm stuck in a loony bin - or does she look less gross than before?*

"Or what?" Darla asked. "You'll pray at me?" She took a step toward the frightened human.

"What happened to your face?" Xander asked, surprised at his own directness.

Darla hesitated for a moment. She touched the tips of her fingers to her mangled cheek and seemed temporarily unsure of herself. Xander noted her insecurity and felt a sliver of pride. Helen shifted nervously to his right.

"Will that ever heal? I mean, it would suck to have to live forever with that face."

Darla was getting angry. What looked to Xander like a good way to get this vamp off her guard was now looking like the perfect plan to make himself dead. *But Buffy's always flinging insults when she's fighting.* He shook his head. *Okay, but she can actually fight and has Slayer strength to back her up, and you have a cross and an army of weak, pregnant, lady looney toons,* he told himself. *Great odds.*

"Don't worry, sweetheart. A tasty treat like yourself will help heal me quick." She licked a pointed tooth. "Blood will make me whole."

She came toward him at what seemed like light speed. He raised his cross and held it steady at arm's length. She stopped just far enough away to avoid any cross-related skin tingles, but just close enough for Xander to connect a quick and powerful right hook to her jaw. Darla, surprised at the human's audacity and strength, wasn't prepared for the blow and lost her balance. As she stumbled away, holding her face, Helen lunged forward and pressed the cross onto the vampire's arm. Darla's skin crackled and sizzled. Helen pulled away quickly, retaining a strong hold on her religious trinket.

"Good job," Xander mumbled, startled and pleased by Helen's daring.

But their mutual satisfaction was short lived. Darla was enraged and quickly recovered from her shock. She sprung at Xander, vampire visage to the fore, growling furiously. She scratched at him, drawing blood from his arm, face and chest. She held his arm away from her body to avoid the cross he still held. He pushed her away with all the force he could muster, but it wasn't enough. She tore at his hand, and bit his shoulder, taking a small chunk of his flesh with her. He punched her with his free hand. Then he searched frantically for another stake.

Many of the women behind him had already fainted; the rest were standing as close the far wall as they could retreat. But one woman stepped forward timidly and flung her stake in Xander's general direction. He dove for it. All the while his mind was racing: *What would happen if I stake Darla. Will I feel different? Will my memories change?* As his fingers closed round the coarse piece of wood he remembered his childhood friend Jesse. * What about him? If I kill her now, does that mean Jesse never gets turned? All those Technicolor nightmares - poof and gone?*

Darla recovered from her momentary state of disbelief, and was even angrier than before. "I was just going to kill you," she said. "But now, I think I will keep you around. Gnaw on you for a while. Share you." She smiled cruelly. She was pacing a line, back and forth in front of Xander, like a hungry wolf. "I wonder what would happen if I turned a pregnant woman. I suppose I can keep you alive long enough to witness that crime against nature. Would you like that?"

She lunged at Xander but then side-stepped and grabbed an unsuspecting Helen. The vampire grabbed the terrified woman by the throat with one hand, and caught her wrist with the other. She held Helen's hand away from her body because, unlike Xander, Helen held her weapon with an iron grip.

"What're you going to do now, prayer-boy?" She bared her fangs and leaned toward Helen.

Suddenly, Molly wailed and careened toward the vampire, flailing her arms. The unexpected commotion caused Darla to loosen her hold momentarily. The moment was enough for Helen to swing her arm down and press the cross into Darla's thigh. The vampire screeched in pain and let go of her captive. Molly was still howling and was almost on top of Darla. Xander took advantage and rushed Darla as well. He kicked her in the stomach. While she was doubled over, he pressed his cross onto her back. It sizzled and smoked while she screamed. She tried to stand, and slashed at her attacker. But in moments, Molly was on her back. Darla, turned and wriggled, but couldn't escape the madwoman's grasp. Xander sent a hard uppercut into the vampire's chin, throwing her head back.

Helen ran toward her friend, as did several other women. They shrieked and mewled as they approached the skirmish.

"Molly!" Helen yelled over the commotion. "Molly, let go!"

Molly dropped away from Darla as three other women began pulling at the demon's hair and tearing at her clothes viciously. One was even biting the vampire's arm. *How's that for irony,* Xander thought. Darla's face and arm were bleeding profusely, her dress was melted into her back and one could see the mutilated flesh on her thigh through the hole in her skirts. The women were howling like banshees. Helen pulled Molly away from the brawl just as the vampire tossed one of the women across the room like a rag doll. Then she punched the second. The last one was latched onto her arm by her teeth; Darla grabbed her by the hair and yanked her off. She growled into the woman's face, which was now covered in Darla's blood. But if she was hoping to instill any fear, she failed. There wasn't a scrap sanity left behind the patient's eyes. Darla used her grip on the woman's hair to slam her head into the wall. The poor lady fell to the floor, head bloodied.

Xander approached Darla from behind, holding the leg of a broken table as if it were a bat. The moment he was close enough to swing, Darla turned her head and hissed at him. He swung. Hard. The vampire was thrown back into the clutter of bed frames. She took a moment to glare at her attackers before she steadied herself and backed out of Ward 5 to find easier pickings.

***

Drusilla regarded him intently. Spike was used to her stares. He was also used to her bouts of uncanny perception, so he wasn't surprised when she seemed to recognize him: "There you are. I`ve been looking for you," she said, with absolute certainty.

"Oh? Well, looks like you found me," Spike said She swept towards him as if suddenly reunited with a long lost lover. She placed her hand over his heart and touched her cool forehead against his, almost soothingly. And he let her, because it felt like coming home.

"My black knight," she cooed.

"My black sprite," he murmured, losing himself in her fathomless eyes. He dropped his bag and placed his hands on her waist.

They stood for what seemed like forever: his hands around her slender waist, her right hand resting over his heart, the other clasping his arm. They were gazing into each other's eyes, oblivious to the rest of the world, their lips mere inches apart.

Enveloped by her familiar scent, Spike remembered with absolute clarity how pain had turned into pleasure when she'd drained him and how the sweet taste of her blood had worked its changes on him. This was his dark muse, his ripe wicked plum, the woman who'd made him what he was, who had saved him from a boring and empty life as a third-rate librarian, the woman he'd loved for more than a century.

"Walk with me," she interrupted his reverie. He turned sideways and offered her his arm, while picking up his bag of loot with the other. They looked like a lady and her gentleman as they strolled through dark alleys, away from the asylum. Very romantic. Except for the blood stains on their clothes.

"Tell me, why are you here? Your path, where does it lead you?" she asked conversationally.

"To tell the truth, I don't really know myself," he admitted. This felt more and more like a strangely alluring dream.

She stopped and turned to face him. Her hand shot out to catch something insubstantial out of the air just inches away from his scarred brow. She pulled back her fist and opened it in front of her eyes. There was nothing to see, at least Spike couldn't make anything out. Drusilla, however, studied her empty palm curiously. He wondered what she saw.

Maybe she saw some of the things that went through his head when he looked at her familiar face. So many treasured memories: roaring through the streets of Chicago in a brand new Bugatti Type 35B; celebrating Carnival in Rio; scratching their names into the Berlin Wall; drifting through Jazz clubs in Prague; cheating Dracula at cards in Bucharest; listening to "The Shadow" on the radio in New Orleans; making love in the Gigantic Wheel of the Vienna Prater; hearing Jimi play at Woodstock; riots, wars, catastrophes. Swing. Jazz. Punk. Good times. Easier times. Wicked fun times. *Oh yes. Those were the days...*

Drusilla took a deep breath and puffed at her empty palm as if blowing out a candle or a dandelion. "So lovely," she cooed.

Spike had no idea what she was talking about, but he liked being the cause of her enthusiasm. He caught her hand and pulled it to his lips. When he pressed a kiss into her palm it triggered more memories: The taste of her lips and the silken feel of her skin...

Their lips met in a passionate kiss. Hungry, almost desperate. He pressed his body against her and felt her responding just as wantonly. In her arms everything was just so much easier.

"Dance with me," Drusilla giggled, as he nuzzled her throat. She began to sway in his arms.

"There's no music," he murmured indulgently.

"But there is. Can't you hear it? Are screams not the sweetest music? I find it so," Drusilla said wistfully. "My mother used to sing for me, but Angelus silenced her with a mouthful of earth. I wept when they lay her in the cold ground. I would bring her rosemary and pansies but they always wither."

Spike listened. Indeed. Screams. In the distance. Where the asylum was. *Bugger! Or maybe not. What do I care if the stupid sod gets eaten?* The things Xander had said the night Buffy came back? The secrecy about the resurrection spell? Well, these things still rankled in Spike's mind. *Why bother? He's probably dead already. I could just stay here. Be with Drusilla.* he thought and looked again into the eyes of the woman he loved for so long. *With my knowledge of things to come...* That knowledge meant power and money. Lots of money.

But he reluctantly broke the embrace, annoyed with that tiny voice in the back of his head that seemed to care whether Harris lived or died.

The thing was... Dawn and the others wanted Xander back. And Buffy, well, she shouldn't have to mourn another dead, not with the memory of her Mum's death still fresh. *'Sides, I promised Little Bit... and Giles... hell, I even promised Angel I'd get the brick-layer out. I may be many things, but I'm not one to break my promises.*

Drusilla looked at her prince. "Have you forgotten the steps?" she asked him.

"No! No, it's not that, I haven't forgotten. How could I?"

"Or is it not me you wish to dance with?" she asked, appearing quite lucid as she tried to read in his face.

He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Dru. Our time has come and gone."

He'd expected fury, high-pitched shrieking and perfectly manicured nails clawing at his face, but she merely nodded. With her mind unfettered by common sense and linear thinking, it didn't confuse or anger her how things present and things past were intricately intertwined with things yet unknown.

"I know," she sighed and moved even closer to him. She put her lips to his ear and whispered, "Or it is still to come?"

***

Xander sighed, his relief evident. "Let's get out of here," he said to Helen.

Helen nodded and ushered some of the more coherent women out of the door. She shushed them and directed half of them down one corridor and the other half, down another.

"They have a better chance to escape if they split up," she whispered to Xander.

She took Molly's hand and the three of them hurried down the hallway toward the front of the asylum. The carnage they passed along the way made the women gag. Xander felt nauseated, too, but as he'd been cast to play the hero in this nightmare he squeezed Helen's arm reassuringly. *Escape now, vomit later.* Occasionally, the three would stop to hide in a closet or storeroom when they thought they heard sounds nearby. But after only four false alarms, they made it to the front door of the asylum.

"I suppose it is time we went our separate ways," Helen suggested.

"No, I won't just leave you," Xander answered.

"Yes, you will," she answered. "I will look after Molly. There is no need for you to burden yourself with us."

"No, we'll hide out together. At least until it's daylight, until I know you're safe." He said it with authority.

"You are a kind man, Mr. Harris."

The three unlikely heroes scurried down dark alleys, peering into filthy windows as they went. They avoided the busier streets where whores and thieves preyed on sailors' purses. Finally, several streets from the hospital, they came upon what looked like an abandoned warehouse. Xander used the tatters of his shirt to wrap around his fist so he could punch through the grime-stained window. He cleared a large enough section for the three of them to wriggle through safely. Xander made his way to the far wall and fell back against it. He slid slowly to the floor and rested his face in his bloody hands.

"You are badly hurt," Helen remarked.

"I'll live." *I hope.*

Helen made sure that Molly was sitting comfortably before she approached Xander.

"Let me help you."

She took the piece of scrap fabric from Xander's hand and told him to unbutton his shirt. Xander obliged. Helen dabbed at the bite wound with the fabric, and cleaned the blood from the scratches Darla had inflicted.

***

Spike looked at the drained corpse at his feet. Several items of clothing and the shoes were missing. He picked up the discarded straitjacket that was lying in the corner. *This is Xander sized alright. So, where is he?*

Breaking into the records office had been a piece of cake. Chasing the paper trail had been easy as pie. There was no `Harris, Alexander' listed, but a `Kent, Clarke', provisionally diagnosed as delusional and possibly homicidal. *Delusional! You bet!* Then Spike had made his way to the cell in question only to find it deserted.

*What a bleedin' mess! `S mighty inconsiderate of the soddin' Supernerd to skedaddle off like that!* He growled in growing frustration and unacknowledged anxiety. *How in God's name am I supposed to find him, now? What if he's worm food already?*

"Damn!" Spike let out a roar and picked up the cot and smashed it repeatedly against the wall, causing splinters and sharp pieces of wood to fly through the cell. One such wooden ricochet nicked the back of his hand, snapping him out of it. He brought his hand to his mouth and licked the bleeding cut. Slightly mollified by the sweet sounds of destruction, he absentmindedly patted his pockets for his pack cigarettes, before he remembered that his Marlboros were on the other side of the planet, not to mention 121 years in the future. *Great!*

"Now what?" Spike asked himself. *God, I need a drink. And a smoke. And a plan. Not necessarily in that order.*

He left the cell and headed for the way out, first at a walk, then falling into a trot. The smell of freshly spilled blood seemed to permeate the whole building. He hardly noticed it when his fangs emerged and his eyes turned yellow. He checked behind each and every door he passed, causing patients to scream in abject terror. Whenever he came across a dead body he checked its identity. In each case he felt an irritating stab of relief when it wasn't Xander.

At last Spike stood outside the asylum again. He thought for a minute or two then his further course of action was clear. *Drink. Now!*

***

The first thing Spike did when walking into the taproom was check the time. It was already half past ten on the big grandfather clock. At the counter, he made sure the fat innkeeper got a good look at one of his gold sovereigns. The man took in Spike's filthy and blood-stained clothes. His eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he listened to Spike's requests, nodded, took the coin and put a bottle and a glass in front of him. Spike picked them up and found himself a table. After scaring off a couple of prostitutes he settled down to wait. Meanwhile, he innkeeper talked to a bunch of nasty looking fellows who were sitting round a round table, ale tankards in front of them.

Spike poured himself a drink and eyed the glass wistfully. Funny how it had taken him less than three hours to completely and utterly screw up: No Xander, no chip in his head and a dead human in his wake. And no way of knowing if he'd already tied a few knots into the timeline he knew. For all he knew the `Welcome to Sunnydale' road sign he'd knocked over a few times might well read `Welcome to the Hellmouth' now.*Bloody hell!*

Just two days ago he'd talked to Maeve about this. About losing the chip. *Said I wouldn't go back to killing, didn't I?* He chuckled without mirth. *See how long that noble resolve lasted. What was it Cordelia called me? Jinxed? That's it. Spike's jinxed. Always one foot on a banana peel.* He knocked back his drink, cheap gin that tasted like paint-stripper. Drumming his fingers impatiently on the table, he watched the nasty looking men get up and approach his table. They exuded an air of menace but they were businesslike enough when Spike repeated his requests.

When the little posse had left the pub, the innkeeper gave him a nod and went to serve other customers.

*Clutching at straws, this is,* Spike told himself, *total waste of time.* But he made no move to leave.

His thoughts wandered back to the last time he'd seen Buffy - the real Buffy. He'd been about to ask her to dance. Really dance. Not that adrenaline charged Slayer-vampire thing. Nothing of that. Only with the music and the holding hands, maybe. It had felt like she might say `yes' - not without a jibe or warning, but still... Now it looked like he'd never get to dance with her. Not like that. Even if he helped Buffy get back into her own time. Without the chip there was no way she'd ever let him near Dawn or her friends again. And if she knew about the cracksman he'd done in, she'd probably see it as her sacred duty to stake him once and for all.

Bungling up Harris's rescue didn't exactly help. *What do I tell her... them? 'Sorry, but he went missing `cause I was busy walking down Memory Lane with Dru?' Yeah, that'll go down well with everybody.*

Spike downed a second drink and poured himself another. *Doesn't really matter what I do,* he thought morosely. *I'm screwed.*

With or without Xander - he'd help her. Of course. He loved her. He'd failed her once, he wasn't going to fail her again. To get her home he'd cheat, lie and even kill, if he had to. *Sod the consequences!*

He eyed the clock nervously, *What's takin' them so long?*

Ten minutes later, the innkeeper led Spike into a dimly lit backroom. A weasel-y looking man passed Spike a large bundle. The vampire checked the contents, chose a few items, discarded others and nodded. He paid the duffer four sovereigns, which was a lot more than the stuff was worth but he was too impatient to haggle. He slipped into the worn but respectable black overcoat, put on the hat and returned to the taproom. He opened the lid of the silver watch and checked that it was both ticking and showing the correct time. Then he settled down to do what he hated most: wait.

An hour later, the first gin bottle was empty and Spike was working on his second. The liquor hadn't improved the vampire's bleak mood in the slightest. He only perked up when one of the earlier ruffians came back in and approached his table.

"Twenty quid?" The man asked gruffly.

Spike slipped his hand into his trouser pocket and brought out a handful of gold coins and set them on the table in a gleaming stack. The man's hand darted out but Spike caught it.

"Where?"

The man rubbed his wrist. "Come, I'll show yer."

Spike nodded and picked up his acquisitions. He followed the seedy looking fellow to the door, his new cane tucked under his arm, wondering if he was walking into an ambush.

"This one's on me, ladies," he said as he passed a handful of streetwalkers, and set the almost full gin bottle down on their table. He was gone before they had time to thank him.

***

"God, I hate vampires!" Xander complained, wishing he could pop a few Tylenol to erase the pain from the injuries Darla had inflicted on him.

"Is that so?" a familiar voice said.

Xander and the two women flinched at the sudden sound. Molly wailed in fear and clutched Helen's arm painfully.

"Spike? Spike! What are you doing here? You nearly gave me a heart attack," Xander exclaimed, *I never thought this could happen, but, jeez, I'm glad to see him!* Then he squinted suspiciously. "This is the 2001 model, right?"

To Xander, Spike looked odd in a coat that wasn't a leather duster. Not to mention the hat and cane. He stored the image away for later ridicule. There was another man with Spike, a burly fellow of the don't-wanna-meet-him-in-a-dark-alley persuasion. It seemed Spike was paying him. The man tipped his finger against his cap and left.

"How does galloping to the rescue sound to you?" The vampire sauntered towards him. He got out a tobacco pouch and started rolling himself a cigarette.

"Coming out of your mouth? Terribly strange. And highly unlikely. Where's Willow? Where are the others? Is Buffy here, too?" Xander looked around, expecting his friends to step out of the darkness.

"Just me." Spike lit his smoke and inhaled deeply, with obvious relish.

"Merciful Zeus! You're the entire away team?" Xander asked incredulously. "They sent YOU to save me? And again weirdness abounds."

"Thanks for the warm welcome, Captain Clumsy," Spike spat.

"Let me guess," Xander said, his eyes narrowing. "You volunteered for the mission cause we're best friends." His voice was dripping with sarcasm. "How much is Giles paying you? Or is this another one of your schemes to get into Buffy's pants?"

Spike looked absolutely livid, on the verge of hitting him and Xander was suddenly glad that there was a tiny piece of government hardware stuck in Spike's cerebral something. They glared at each other in mutual dislike.

Molly and Helen listened to the exchange but found it hard to grasp what the two men were talking about. They did pick up on the vibes of hostility eddying between them. Molly huddled closer to Helen. The man with the short blonde hair scared her.

It was Spike who broke off the staring contest with what seemed like great effort. "What's with the scarecrows?" he asked, indicating the frightened women.

"I'm protecting them," Xander said pompously. "Helen, Molly, this is Spike. Spike, meet Helen and Molly."

The vampire snickered. "What? Damsels in distress?" He eyed them more closely then mentally dismissed them as unimportant. "Yeah, they're real appetizers."

Xander turned towards the women. "Don't worry, as much as he'd like to, he won't hurt you. He's all bark, no bite."

Spike didn't rise to the bait. He shrugged and tossed the bundle he was carrying in Xander's direction.

Xander tried to catch it but his injuries made him clumsy and it fell to the ground. "What is it?" He eyed the bundle suspiciously as if he expected it to grow fangs.

"What's it look like, you ninny? Clothes. Wouldn't wanna get stopped by the peelers cause your bloody hospital gear screams `hassle me'. Put `em on."

Several scathing comebacks popped into his head but Xander wisely decided not to look the gift horse - or vampire - in the mouth. With Helen's wordless help, he changed into the clothes Spike had brought: a dark gray suit that was a size too small and a brown overcoat.

"Jeez, Spike, you reek. What is that?" Xander finally asked as he clumsily tried to button his coat. Helen squeezed his hand warmly and did it for him.

"You don't smell so good yourself, mate," Spike replied, hostility evident.

"Yeah, but I just spent endless hours in a place that would make the Sunnydale penitentiary look like the Hilton. What is that stink?"

"Gin. You want some?"

"You got drunk before coming to get me out?"

"D'you think I'd save you if I were sober? Think again, twerp." Spike picked up his bag, turned on his heel and started to leave.

"Spike wait, we're not leaving." Xander said, stepping in his path. "Not yet."

"What?"

"I'm not leaving Helen and Molly behind. They can't stay here all alone."

"You've got to be kidding! What's it with you? You don't really believe you're Clark Kent, do you? Want me to get you a pair of tights?"

"Shut up, Spike. It's not like that!"

"They're nutcases, for god's sake. Not playing with a full deck. Away with the birds. What do you want with such a sorry pair?"

"Yeah, you would know," Xander said scathingly. "What - with a century's worth of nutty Drusilla on your rap sheet. Tell me, does it rub off eventually?"

"Fine," Spike said coldly. "Have it your way." And with a two fingered salute he brushed past the surprised Scooby and headed outside.

Xander stared open mouthed at Spike's retreating back. "Wait!" he called. "Spike!" *Please!* The vampire didn't stop or turn. Xander looked at the two frightened women, then at his disappearing rescuer, then at his charges again. He sighed but stood by his decision. "Don't worry," he told them. "Tomorrow morning, when it's light I'll try to get some clothes for you. Maybe I can steal something, or sell this coat." He shrugged out of it and hung it around Molly's shoulders. "Here, that should keep you warm."

In fact, the coat was large enough to warm both women as they huddled in a corner, sitting on the bare ground. "Try to get some sleep," Xander told them. "I'll stay awake." Not ten minutes later exhaustion claimed them and they were both fast asleep.

Xander walked back and forth for what seemed like ages, running his argument with Spike through his head again. If he was honest, he was forced to admit that he hadn't exactly been on his best behavior. Even so, Spike's attitude surprised him. *How come he's all Mr. Sensitive? What did he expect? A gold medal? He's an evil, soulless thing. Who normally eats people like me. Who doesn't care about any of us, except Buffy,* he argued, as if trying to justify his behavior to an unseen audience. *Just because he saved us a few times, doesn't mean he won't try to kill us all later.* Okay, there were times when it was hard to remember that. Times, when Spike seemed almost human, when he himself seemed to forget what he was. But someone had to always remember. Someone had to be prepared for the worst. It was as simple as that.

Depression settled in and Xander found himself fervently wishing for some comfort food, a few candy bars or donuts. A drink would have been nice, too. Not Gin, but he wouldn't say no to a Budweiser or two right now. His body was aching all over. It couldn't hurt to sit down a little, could it? *Not sleepy,* he told himself, *very wakey, just need to rest my legs.* He sat beside the two women, and within minutes the sounds of their regular breathing lulled him to sleep.

When the vampire crept into the warehouse, Xander was snoring softly.


Continued in Part 32 - Pigeon on the fence

Some notes:

A duffer is someone who sells stolen goods.

A cracksman is a burglar.

Peelers are of course the police.

A sovereign is a gold coin worth one pound sterling (the price of a new silver pocket watch or a hundred mugs of ale). It is also called a quid. A steerage passage from England to the U.S. cost 5-7 pounds.

Many thanks to Kimi for helping me pick out the right old-timer for Spike and Dru.

http://www.toyota.co.jp/Museum/Tam/Car/Bugatti/index.html

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