“Been Slayers killed here before,” one grizzled veteran offered when the topic arose over a hand of poker, “just last summer in fact -- cute little blonde went down when the Master ascended. Look how long he lasted.”
“The Ripper.” A hush. The nightbreed looked about uncomfortably, as though the mage’s name might summon him. Just a human, a lone little juicebag, but somehow he’d known to be waiting, wielding fire and magic and white-phosphorus ammunition when the greatest of vampires arose. The Master’s first taste of freedom had been his last of life, and the Ripper had walked away without a scratch. The next year disproved all theories that his grand debut into Sunnydale’s nightlife might have been beginner’s luck. Some of the Hellmouth’s denizens fell under his heels, others became ensnared in his deals, and still others he just seemed willing to ignore -- no one could figure him out, but no one with any sense failed to fear him.
Only the talebearer retained his excitement. “That’s the best part though,” he leaned close over his cards and stroked the mewing stakes, “Last anyone heard, she was shaking down people in Willy’s, and guess who she was looking for.”
“No way,” cried a young vampire.
“Think she took the Rip out on the way?” Another mused.
“Not with Spike around, she didn’t,” said a vengeance demon, “He’s already got two Slayers under his belt. If Kendra’s cold, my money’s on Bloody Will.”
“Don’t mean nothing,” the veteran pinned them all with his one scarlet eye, “There’ll always be another Slayer. Not even the Ripper can stop that. Assuming he wants to.” He tossed a tabby kitten into the basket and bared his fangs at the rest. “Now quit gossiping and ante up, you goatsuckers.”
The question was not resolved by the time dawn swept the vampires from Sunnydale’s streets. No one could prove they’d seen Spike or the Ripper alive, but no one could point to Kendra the Vampire Slayer’s body either. Several well known bookies had begun offering odds however, and smart money favored William the Bloody with a third Slayer under his belt.
Imagine Mr. Trick’s surprise, therefore, to find the selfsame William of bloody repute huddling beneath a rhododendron bush. At first, he didn’t recognize the vampire -- smelling the reek of dog’s blood beside the highway, he thought of road kill, and turned his expensive shoes to veer wide of the mess. But then the wind, restless with the coming dawn, shifted to bring him a faint, hissing moan, a rasping click, and the sudden searing fume of tobacco.
He knelt, looking hard at the bloody mess beneath the branches.
“Well if it isn’t the hero of the hour,” he smiled, making out Spike’s chiseled features and golden hair beneath the gore, “and damned if you don’t look as if you’d gone three hard rounds with a Slayer after all! What’s the matter, Miss Montenegro take a little more killing than your first two?”
“Don’t know what you’re on about, mate,” the whisper rode back on pain and smoke, “I just came out to have a fag, since you bloody Californians won’t let me smoke in pubs like civilized folk do.”
Trick tsked, fanning away the cloud, “Filthy habit. Why do you smell like a dead dog?”
Silence, then a pain-filled wheeze as Spike drew himself farther into the bush’s shelter. “Midnight snack,” he gasped, clutching the rags of his leather trenchcoat about himself with hands so white they all but glowed, “fancied a bit of Thai.”
Trick knew better; no vampire but Angel ate animals unless he had no other choice. He grinned, keeping a weather eye on the silvering horizon as he sat on the grass and didn’t even care about the dew soaking into his Armani. “So it wasn’t the Slayer then. She’d have dusted you, not left you out here holding your guts in with your belt. What happened, Spike? You take her down without the Ripper’s permission?”
Only breathing for a moment, heavy with pain, then through clenched teeth; “You’re talking the piss.” Trick knew two things at once – he was closer to the truth than Spike wanted him, and it was a damn good thing he was out of Spike’s reach. Trusting the latter, he pushed his luck.
“Oh come on, Spike; everyone knew you were gunning for Montenegro, ever since she staked your little nutcase girlfriend.” He was truly enjoying this – it wasn’t every day one could get more than one good dig in at the Ripper’s watchdog, and from the smell of things, Trick rather thought this might be his last chance to do so. “Must’ve sucked, your boyfriend leashing you off her after that-”
A flicker of movement, and a throwing knife spun through the leaves at his face. Trick threw himself aside, and the blade slashed his shoulder instead. He swore, rolling out of the way and to his feet in one fluid move. “You asshole,” he yelled to cover his alarm, fingering his cut, bloodied sleeve, “This is Italian silk!”
The replying laugh was shallow, and ended in a rattling, dry cough. In any mortal creature, it would have been the death rattle, but this was Spike, and you never knew with him... Then Trick found himself smiling. Spike had missed – missed badly. Spike never missed. He really wasn’t going to make it to shelter before dawn.
Trick laughed, brushed grass from his trousers and turned to go. “Guess I’ll send the bill to your boyfriend. The Mayor’s probably going to have me pay a visit in a couple of nights anyway, and the Ripper’s bound to be a bit more reasonable with you and the Slayer both out of the picture, right Spike?”
No answer. Not so much as a whisper of movement. Could he have dusted already? Trick crouched down to peer again, and had to throw himself backward as Spike surged out of the bush with a roar, bloody face twisted with rage and hunger. Trick tore himself free of Spike’s claws and ran, leaving his sleeve a good bit of skin, and most of his dignity behind.
He pressed his face to the earth, stealing the air in shallow, panting breaths and staring at the patch of sunlight that was stalking his left hand through the leaves. He thought vaguely that he ought to move the hand soon, but didn’t think he could. Just crawling back into the shade of the bush had drained his strength and resolve. Now even blinking seemed out of the question.
Wonder if it hurts. Seen it before. Always seems to go so fast; just a flash, and then dust... but they always scream. Probably hurts. A lot. Bloody hell, never thought I’d go this way. Two hundred years. Not long enough.
He stared at his hand, willed it to move, to twitch, to close. Nothing. Frustration couldn’t even bring a sting to his eye. The werewolf’s attack had opened him wide and wet – if it hadn’t been for that scavenging dog, he’d never have made it out of the woods.
Took care of it though, Rupert – I fixed it proper. Werewolf’s good for that much, anyway... Fucking full moon. Didn’t see it till... Darkness, a body in manageable pieces, rolling down the hill through the trees, thudding and crashing like a dozen bowling balls. Then breath on the back of his neck just before the teeth. Always thought it’d be a Slayer taking me down, not a mutt and a sunburn.
A fly buzzed into the sheltering cave he’d made of his trench, landed ticklingly on his lips, then crawled inside. Cheeky bastard. I’m no place to start a family. Best clear off before I work out how to move my jaw again... He lost the thought to darkness, and the memory of Rupert’s furious face as the Slayer collapsed over him. “You bloody fool!” The pistol cracking his cheek as Rupert hit him and stormed out of the warehouse. “She was going to bloody kill you!” His own voice, cracking uselessly after the receding footfalls.
The fly was gone when the roar of a truck startled him awake again, and the patch of sunlight was closer. Maybe an inch. Close enough that the passing traffic made it feint at him, spiking the heavy, woolen numbness with searing pinpricks. He could hear movement nearby. Some kind of animal. For a moment, that gave him hope – another dog might just see him through till nightfall. But no, it was too late for that, wasn’t it? Couldn’t stop a rat chewing my nose off right now. He laughed in his head, and returned his attention to the sunlight that was even now beginning to make his fingers smoke.
“Phew. God, that stinks!” The sunlight winked out, blocked by a looming head, and a familiar scent. Harris! Get away from me, you fucking idiot, get away, oh God, don’t leave me here! But the words went no farther than his mind.
“Spike? Holy – Here! He’s here!” The boy flinched back, ripping off his own jacket to throw it over Spike’s exposed arm, but that let the sun in for an agonizing second, streaking flame across his hand. He found breath enough to whimper at the acid-drip burn, then the darkness whelmed him again.
Impressions scattershot through the pall in frozen instants. Wool and dust in his nose, Little Red’s concerned face looming close to his, dripping blood – pig’s blood – into his open mouth as they bounced over the roads in the old mustang’s back seat. He couldn’t swallow. Sorry, don’t touch me, oh god I’m sorry.
Rupert’s voice beside him, low and fierce in his ear, “Don’t you dare, William. Don’t you fucking dare!” Hands on his coat, pulling the waist cinch open. Oh god no, I’ll fall out! Don’t touch me! I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
“Get his feet. Carefully. Willow, get the door please.”
Darkness at last – proper darkness with air and incense and no killing light. Fingers knotted hard with his as the swaying stopped.
Little Red’s voice choking back a cry as his coat fell open. Harris, poor puppy, stumbling off to vomit in the corner. Don’t run, kid. This is what I’m trying to teach you. Look at it hard, remember... Rupert above him, hands cupped full of scarlet. “Pour it right in – it’s the only way.” Then it hurt worse than claws and teeth, worse than cold and fear and dying alone. Life seared through his belly like lightning, arching him off the floor, blasting him to bits.
Don’t let go! Don’t let go! Don’t-
“I won’t,” Rupert whispered in his ear.
Only then did he surrender to the darkness with a whimper of utmost gratitude.
“Good. Give him the tickets and the money. Tell him he’s off the hook for last week’s tribute, but he’s going to find someone in Boston for me.”
“Boston? Okay, admittedly the Angels suck, but let them make their own trades. Or let me go.”
“That’s where Willow found the next Slayer. Her locator spells are getting better every day. Tell Rack not to approach either of them, just to follow, and keep us informed.”
“I can’t believe you trust that slimeball, Ripper.”
“I don’t Xander. I fully well expect him to disobey me, at which point she will most likely kill him, or at very least make him think twice about trying to cut round me when I let him off the leash in the future.”
“Ah, then, never mind on the whole letting me go thing, then.”
Spike swallowed, feeling drugged and leaden. He could taste pig again, and could feel thick blankets, smooth sheets, tight-wound bandages, and chains on both wrists. He made a weak noise, rattling the metal. Rupert was there instantly.
“Chains?” Spike managed.
“To keep you from injuring yourself any farther. You’re not yet fully healed.” Warm fingers smoothed his temple, brushed lightly over his cracked lips as he breathed a laugh.
“And here... thought you... just kinky.”
A smile. “Are you thirsty?”
Just the thought was enough to bring his fangs bursting through. Through a mighty effort of will, he managed not to snap after the hand. “Please,” he whispered, shivering. Ripper’s eyes glinted, and he stroked his thumb over Spike’s lip for a daring second. Then a bag was bursting between his teeth, blood flowing warm and heavy in his mouth. Pig again, but he couldn’t bring himself to care as it slid thickly down his gulping throat.
He didn’t remember finishing the bag.
When he woke again at nightfall, his wounds were closed.
When the moon rose an hour later, he learned why they had left him chained to the stillroom wall.
“It won’t hold him, Rip!” Harris’ voice, high with nerves. Spike snarled, lunging at the sound.
“Just keep the gun on him. The chain will hold.”
It will not hold me! He wanted to scream, but his mouth was full of too many teeth, and the words wouldn’t come.
“But what’s making him like this?”
“He said something about a werewolf while he was delirious,” Little Red whispered from the hall, smelling like blood and strawberries and delicious fear.
What big eyes you have, my sweet! The chain rattled, she flinched, and suddenly Rupert was there – alpha male, and crackling with threat. Spike whimpered, showed his teeth and his belly. Why are you looking at me that way? What’s wrong with me?
“The two curses at war,” Rupert said, “Lycanthrus and Vampirus cannot co-exist peacefully, and both are nearly balanced in strength right now.”
“Geez -- the moon’s still full.”
“For one more night.” Little Red agreed, wiping a tear, “Mr Giles, can’t we do something for him?”
Can’t you? Can’t you curse me or kick me, touch me, forgive me? Can’t you stop ignoring me, pretending like I’m not fucking here? She would have killed you! I had to do it! Who the hell do you think you are? I hate you, goddammit, talk to me!
Rupert sat on the bed, just beyond the reach of Spike’s chains. He did not flinch when Spike lunged at him, only looked sad and a little old. “Yes, we can make him sleep the night. Shoot him, Xander.”
Spike could hear daylight outside when he woke again. His throat was raw, and tasted as though he’d tried to swallow a Fylaarl demon whole. He turned as far as his pinioned arms would let him and spat, just missing an inverted bunch of weeds hanging from the rafters. It didn’t help.
He heard footsteps moving across the floor above him – two men, medium height, unfamiliar treads in creaking boots. He sniffed, sneered. Cordite, Kevlar, gun grease and shoe polish over human nerves. Peelers. Mayor Wilkins must be fucking insane if he thinks he can send Sunnydale’s Finest to deal with the Ripper!
Which, of course, he was was.
“Sorry to make you wait, gentlemen.” Spike could tell from Rupert’s voice what he came downstairs wearing; tailored slacks that clung more indecently than any leather, a flowing, elegant shirt with French cuffs and collar hanging open just enough to show he didn’t care, one of his brocade waistcoats. Spike imagined the black and silver one with the Arabic curses embroidered on. His shoes would have a more perfect shine than either of the cops, who would suddenly find their uniforms faintly shabby in the Ripper’s presence. Spike almost wished he could see it.
“That’s alright, Mr Giles,” one did a passable Colombo imitation; “we just need to ask you a few questions about a missing girl. Kendra Montenegro. Hasn’t been seen in a week. We were told you knew her?”
Fuck. Spike felt his sore guts clench in helpless rage.
“Have you a photo? Thank you.” Pause. Spike imagined Rupert examining the image with his best slightly-confused-foreigner face on – the one that made him look harmless as a librarian. “Well, now that I see her, I suppose I do recognize her. She’s one of the vagrant children, isn’t she? Lives out by the youth hostel on Candace and Vintners, near the truck stop?”
“We’ve been told she was asking for you before she disappeared.”
“Were you now?” Rupert’s voice grew a thin edge, “And I wonder who might have told you a silly thing like that.”
Who indeed? Spike bit his lip and listened to his lover lie, threaten and smokescreen most convincingly for the next half hour. No, he didn’t know why she would ask for him. No, he didn’t meet her anywhere. No, he didn’t know where she was now. No, they couldn’t look around his home without a warrant. And since he was a very busy man, if they had any further questions perhaps they ought to telephone his lawyers. Here was the card. Yes, out of Los Angeles. Permanent retainer. Good morning then, officers.
“Oh, and just one more thing,” said the detective, turning on the doorstep. Spike rolled his eyes and wished he were close enough to throw something, “We were wondering if you could tell us the last time you saw your associate, Mr... uh... Spike?”
Trick, you wanker!
“Spike? Not this several days, I shouldn’t think.” A note of discomfort entered Rupert’s voice. Spike blinked to hear it. No way that had slipped by accident. “Bit worried about him, actually, Sunnydale can be a rough town in the summer.”
Rupert’s eyes were hard and angry when he came down. Spike didn’t hide from them. “They won’t find her. I took care of it, I swe-”
“I know.” Rupert sat on the mattress, cupped a hand behind Spike’s head, and brought a warmed cup to his lips. “You oughtn’t to have gone alone, but thanks to you, they’ve nothing but guesses to go on.”
Spike swallowed, pulled away from the cup gasping. “But if they get a warrant-”
“Shh. What Judge in this County will sign a warrant against me?” Rupert pressed him to drink again, “You took care of the Slayer-”
“She was going to-”
“Hush.” No gentleness in the word, “I meant her body. The Watcher’s as well, I presume, since if they had Merrick’s corpse they wouldn’t bother with a missing girl. I have put things in motion to deal with the rest of the aftermath.” He lowered the empty cup and gently let Spike’s head fall back to the pillow.
“I shouldn’t have left without-”
Spike sighed, swallowing back the words that pressed at his lips; You didn’t think I’d really leave, did you – not really? I couldn’t, could I? Instead he rattled the manacle on his bruised wrist. “Can I get these off if I promise to be good?”
Rupert’s lips twisted into a fleeting smile. “No. You’re still too weak, and I don’t want you trying to help.”
Spike’s brow knit, “Don’t want me seen?”
“Exactly.” Rupert leaned over him, swept a palm over his eyes, and pressed warm lips to Spike’s forehead. “Sleep. You’ll need your strength for tonight.”
That afternoon several City Hall databases were hacked. Quite a few incriminating files about Mayor Wilkins, Chief of Police DeFalco, and District Attorney Chisholm were downloaded to an unsecured website. Within twenty minutes the information had been cross-posted to fifty other sites. Within an hour, that number was in the thousands.
That evening a gang of six vampires broke into a top secret construction site underneath Sunnydale University’s Psych building. The facility’s experimental security cameras were online however, and taped the undead vandals setting back the construction schedule for the Initiative’s headquarters by several months at least. One of the vampires looked startlingly similar to the Mayor’s aide du hench, Mr. Trick.
That night no less than six vampires were staked in Sunnydale’s back alleys. No one saw who was responsible, and while no one said the word ‘Slayer’, quite a few thought it.
That night three men in military combat gear broke into the home of a Sunnydale High School official. In plain view of his neighbors they threw the man into an unmarked black panel van and drove away. They left the front door open, and the television tuned to the all-night Happy Days marathon.
Willow sat with Spike that night, covering him with a trank gun through his worst convulsions, and showing him webcomics on her laptop computer between seizures. She tried not to let on how the vampire’s affliction frightened her – tried to harden herself to the crunching sounds and screams as Spike’s handsome face folded on itself over and over, as his hands became claws, paws, and everything in between.
But she didn’t think she was doing such a good job of it.
She’d known, she told herself, the stakes of what they were doing. Buffy’s death had proven to her that it was no game. If Mr Giles hadn’t found that prophecy about the Slayer releasing the Master, she dreaded to think of the hell Sunnydale might have become. She knew that horrible things happened to good people, and you didn’t even have to live over the Hellmouth to see that in action – turning on CNN was all it took to prove that. But there was still something inside her that couldn’t help wishing it could be easier just to be a girl and seventeen.
Around three in the morning, as the moon was setting, Spike pulled one of the ten inch ring-bolts from the wall, and Willow had to shoot him. Twice.
When Xander and Mr. Giles returned, they found her cradling Spike’s sweat-drenched head in her lap and crying. She could not explain why.
Spike woke to the giddy feeling of a fever or a curse broken. No gradual waking, this – he came alert as though dropped into his body at a full run; senses on high, heart thrumming along just as if it had never heard of death. His wrists were unchained, and the manacles gone. Flexing his arms turned into a luxurious, joint-popping, teeth-clenching, groaning-in-the-throat stretch which left him panting and pleasantly winded in its wake.
A faint whimper drew his attention to the bundle by the door – a man in a yellow jogging suit with a black pillowcase tied over his head. “Well now,” Spike grinned, rolling out of the tangled nest and prowling close, “Don’t you look just like a peace offering?” The smell of the little man’s blood filled Spike’s nose with delight -- he was all over gooseflesh as he snatched the makeshift hood off. The fear scent spiked sharply, but the ratty little man didn’t open his eyes, just huddled there rocking and whispering to himself.
Playing with his food was his normal habit, but two days of hard healing on nothing but animal blood hadn’t left Spike much patience for the game. He rather regretted his haste as he let the man’s empty body drop, but consoled himself readily – any grown man who faced death calling for his mommy wasn’t likely to be much sport.
After he staked the body, Spike tried the door and found it unlocked.
“Guess I really am out of the doghouse then.” But standing into the draught as the door swung back, he had to wrinkle his nose in horror. “Oh, bloody hell do I ever stink!” He peered down at his own nakedness, noticed the streaks, encrusted grime and dried gore that covered him from stem to stern. “Disgusting... How did they keep from burying me in the garden?” He shook his head, climbing unashamedly into the twilight-filled house and heading straight up to the Master Suite.
He stayed under the spray until it began to cool, by which time his nose informed him that he was no longer alone in the Ripper’s sprawling old mansion. He intentionally dawdled over the business of drying off and combing his hair, considered using Rupert’s shaving soap just to be annoying. He thought better of it when he heard the soft footfalls and muted rattle outside the door. Metal rings chimed, and something supple but weighty made soft thud as it hooked over the doorknob.
Just that sound made Spike’s cock jump to half-mast. He looked out long enough to pluck the studded posture collar up, turning it in his hands with a grin. ’For my own protection’, my undead arse! He thought, You just dig this, you Kinky bastard!
Which was fine with Spike, of course; he was achingly hard before he’d even finished buckling the snug blue leather around his throat. The chain slid icily over his bath-warmed skin, catching on his nipples as he closed the door behind him and dropped to his knees. He couldn’t suppress a shudder as the movement sent the chain slithering over his erect cock.
Spike didn’t stifle his gasp – that was part of the game, though it sent a frisson of chill through him that he actually hadn’t consciously realized Rupert was in the room until the man had spoken from behind him.
He dropped into a prowl and followed the long chain across the thick carpet of furs, slinking and slithering and stalking all at once. Desire filled his throat as he pressed up against Rupert’s knee and slicked a hand up toward the tented silk robe. He stopped when Rupert seized his chin, angled his face up into the light and stared. There was a faint bruise along the man’s left cheek, and the sight made Spike’s cock throb painfully. He dropped his hands to his sides, and preened under Rupert’s intense examination.
“I got your present,” Spike breathed at last, when he either had to say something, or risk trying to kiss the man, “who was he?”
Rupert smiled that flashlight flicker and thumbed Spike’s lip softly. “A pawn. You deserve better.”
Spike smiled as the hand slid against his jaw, fingers curling gently over his ear, stroking the fragile skin there and sending thrills skittering down his spine. “Do I?”
“Oh yes.” Silver flickered in the corner of his eye, and Spike just barely stopped himself from flinching as the scalpel came into his view. Rupert’s hand withdrew, fished into his pocket and came out clenched around a beaded chain.
Spike stared at the fist, swallowing as his balls tightened, and fear chased a pearl of precome to the tip of his straining cock. Rupert smiled – Heirophant reversed, with rosary concealed in one hand, and gleaming steel cradled openly in the other. “Frightened, William?” The man murmured.
“Horny,” he bluffed, but couldn’t make himself look away from the clenched fist as Rupert made a deep, delicate cut in his wrist and held it out, offering. He moaned as the smell filled his head with magic and longing. “Hungry.”
He fought to keep his face from shifting, struggled to keep his human visage for as long as he possibly could, but the mage’s blood sang as it slid over his tongue, seducing the demon out into the open long before he was ready. As soon as Spike’s fangs burst free, Rupert opened his fist and the cross, less than an inch away, battered at his face with searing pain.
He shivered, pressing close against his tormentor’s leg, sucking, thrusting desperately as the agony and elation braided down along his spine. Tears stung his eyes, stroked cold down his cheeks and steamed away before they fell.
God you bastard, cover it, cover it, so good, it hurts, fuck want to scream, want to come, take it away, touch me please-
He whimpered, breath knotting in his throat as Rupert let the rosary slip through his fingers, skitter and singe like a drip of acid along his collarbone and down over his chest. Rupert pressed back as Spike ground himself fiercely against his leg, giving him the rough contact he craved. A twitch of the wrist sent a fresh surge of blood across Spike’s tongue even as it dragged the crucifix across his nipple.
The pain was like a white hot needle stabbing straight from his chest to his balls. Spike threw his head back, gasped two shallow breaths, and realized he could smell himself burning. That was enough to tear the pooling orgasm out of his belly with a howl.
The punishing crucifix was gone when the room stopped spinning. Spike stared at the ceiling, reveling in pure post-ecstatic sensation. The lingering sting of his chest and shoulder sang a counterpoint to the pulsing echoes of his fading orgasm, and the cool wetness across his thighs and belly contrast with the velvety softness of the furs beneath his back. He rolled his head weakly, and purred up at his lover, who was binding his wrist with a strip of linen. “No more then?”
Rupert raised an eyebrow. “Think you can handle more?”
Spike ran a fingertip over his burns, shuddered into the furs and reconsidered. “More of you,” he made a point of staring at Rupert’s neglected erection and licking his lips, which won him another flashlight smile.
“Perhaps once our visitors have left us.”
“What?” Then Spike realized he smelled them too – strangers, armed ones, very close. “Oh bollocks!” He started to surge to his feet, but Rupert snatched the chain on his collar and jerked him back down savagely.
“No. Do not move from my side, do you understand?”
Spike stared, heart fluttering as the hazel eyes pinned him to a crouch beside the throne-like chair. “But they’ve got guns, I can’t protect-” another jerk on the chain stilled him, and Rupert leaned close, whispered the words against his lips.
He swallowed, closed his eyes and pressed into the warm human lips. I trust you. Must be fucking mental, but I do.
“Well ain’t this sweet?” Came the snide observation, followed by the ratcheting cycle of a shotgun, “What, is it conjugal hour here at the freakshow?”
Spike put on a smile and slid down the side of the chair, stretching like a cat as he counted the intruders, catalogued their armaments. Six of them, masked and costumed up like common gangbangers. Mortals, one and all, and not a single man without the smell of leather polish and gun oil on him.
“You boys did all pay your nickel to the man at the tentflap, didn’t you?” Spike smirked, rolling up onto his side and propping his head on one hand while the other toyed with the chain suggestively. “Cause I’d hate to think you just belly-crawled under the canvas.”
“Shut it, Perv,” a short one aimed his trenchbroom at Spike.
Hmph. Would have been more intimidating before that werewolf showed me the color of my guts. He mused. Then he yawned and indulged in a slow, sexy stretch, not missing how their eyes tracked him, drank in the contours of his muscle and bone, traced the smeared seed drying on his skin and the blush of his lips where Rupert’s blood still clung. Gay or straight, it didn’t matter – the monkeys smelled sex all over him, and it drew them like moths to a flame. And as long as those moths keep circling me, they won’t see whatever it is that Rupert’s-
Suddenly the mage’s voice filled the room with ringing command. A matrix of light exploded from the floor, snaring the six men and their guns in a blinding, strangling web. Spike rolled, pressed his dazzled eyes to the fur with a hiss. When he looked up again, the lightweb was gone, as were the men trapped inside it.
Spike sat up, blinking. “You vaporized them? Bloody brilliant!”
Rupert snorted, slumping in his chair. “Really, Spike. There are some depths to which even I will not stoop, and vaporizing police officers is one of them – even if they are breaking into my home.”
Spike leaned against his lover’s knee, still grinning as he butted Rupert’s hand in a blatant bid for strokes. “Then if you didn’t smoke them, what did you do?”
“I sent them somewhere else.”
“Abyssal plane?” Spike pressed against the stroking fingers shamelessly, still giddy with excitement and sex, and greedily hoping the night would hold more.
“Even better!” but then he peered up into Rupert’s face, noted the greyness that hadn’t been there before, the thinness to the lips that spoke of pain or perhaps exhaustion. “It cost you though.” He couldn’t keep the disappointment from his voice.
Rupert raised an eyebrow at him and dredged up a sparkle. “Not as much as it will cost Mayor Wilkins when the Law Enforcement Union gets wind of his orders. And anyway, I rather suspected someone might try something like this, so I took the opportunity to lay a few traps while you were indisposed.” He ran two fingers down the knobs of Spike’s backbone, musing. “In fact, do remind me to remove the rest of the curses before the children come tomorrow, won’t you?”
Spike grinned and leaned in close, nuzzling the warm jaw. “That’s what I love about you, Ripper,” he purred into his lover’s ear, hearing the man’s breath go thready inside the pulsing throat, “No one ever really gets the drop on you, do they?”
Rupert sighed, placed a hand over Spike’s where it lay on his thigh, and guided it higher. “No one but you, William my Bloody Fool.”
Spike slipped the robe open, curled his fingers around the velvety flesh revealed beneath. The heat against his cool palm made him shiver as he stroked. “Be nice now, or I won’t ask your permission before I go introduce myself to the next Slayer.” Rupert gave his chain a severe yank, and Spike had to smile.
“Don’t you think,” Rupert growled, tugging him lower, “that mouth has better uses than reminding me of just why I ought to be kicking your undead arse?”
Come to that, the vampire thought, settling to his knees before the altar of his adoration, it rather does.
This is an alternate universe splitting off at Rupert Giles’s eighteenth birthday when his lover, Ethan Rayne is killed. Considering the Watcher’s Council, and perhaps the Slayer to blame, Giles never reconciles with his father, and never comes to toe the Council line. But he is still a man against the darkness when all’s said and sifted.
Merrick, Buffy’s original Watcher, survived the Los Angeles event and came with her to Sunnydale. He proved better at concealing Buffy’s Slayerness from the locals, so while she still made friends with Willow and Xander, they were much less involved in her actual exploits until the end of the ‘first season’. As such, when the Master killed Buffy, Xander was not there to revive her. She stayed dead.
Angel, having no reason to stay once Buffy was dead, drifted on.
Spike, once he’d killed the Anointed One and taken over the Vamp operation, set about restoring Drusilla as planned. Ripper had heard about her apocalyptic tendencies, however, and thought her too dangerous. He arranged for Drusilla to run afoul of the Slayer and lose. He was there to console Spike after her death, sinking a hook into the vampire’s little known romantic side.
Without Buffy as his obsession, Ripper quickly spotted Willow’s magical potential, and took her under his wing as an apprentice. Xander, being still her best friend, and still hopelessly un-talented in magic, began hanging around with Spike. (Again, the lack of Buffy removed the antagonism from the relationship,) Spike thought it amusing to have a protégé, and set about teaching Xander the finer points of hustling darts, drinking, fighting, weapons, and general thuggery. Our man Xander has considerably more self-esteem in this world, and somewhat fewer morals. But still a weak stomach, I’m afraid.
Principle Snyder, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is dead.
Spike is his old loyal self, happy as Larry, so long as he’s got a strong lead to dance with, and a purpose on the horizon. Ripper’s blend of sex, sadism, romanticism and trust is a more addicting trap than anything he’s ever encountered before. He rather suspects he would do anything for the man. Codependency, that’s what it’s called, and he loves it.
And as for Ripper, well he said it best himself in the seventh season: Taking a life changes a person.