Took Hold 8
“Hey, buddy! Wake up!” A friendly, familiar voice and a gentle shake roused Spike and he was not happy about it. He felt like a Fyarl Demon was squeezing his head, and all of his limbs were dead weights. He opened his eyes and turned his head, //Bloody Hell!! that hurts!//, to see Clem peering over the top of the crypt at him.
“Sun’s coming up soon, we better get you inside!” His jowls shook as he dragged the vampire off of the crypt. Spike put minimal effort into helping him in this endeavor, but eventually they ambled into the crypt and Spike sprawled across a sarcophagus. Clem was stronger than anyone gave him credit for and had no trouble bearing the weight.
“What time issit, mate?” Spike painfully mumbled. //How can my eyelashes be sore?//
“It’s 4am--I dropped by on the way from the poker game to drop off what I owed you. Thanks for bailing me out last week; I thought I was a goner!” The grateful gleam in his eyes was visible even through the surrounding wrinkles and sagging skin. Spike had waltzed into the bar and saved him from a painful beating at the hands of some Aknar demons. He’d lost one too many hands of poker and the vampire had given him the kittens from his own bag to pay the debt instead of playing a hand. Clem had told him that he thought he was the only one to see how friendly the traumatized vamp could be.
“Mmm, figure we’re even--now that you’ve saved me from bein’ all crispy-like.” Spike was waking up, rubbing his temples, and cursing consciousness.
“Oh, no! I couldn’t do that! But there *is* one thing I was going to ask. You know that demon that attacked us the other day? See, my wife’s expecting another hatchling and I was wondering if you’d part with the pelt we got off of it...it’d make a real great rug for the baby room I’m working on, and see--“
“It’s yours, mate. Go down and grab it from the trunk downstairs.” Spike closed his eyes and tried to block out the depression that was creeping in. The pain from hunger and his headache were nothing compared to the heartache from being stood up. //Did the whelp change his mind?// Anyway, what were a few trophies if he had no one to share them with? “And if you see anything else you want, just take it,” he called hoarsely to the demon.
He lit a cigarette, taking long drags to finish it fast. After some rustling downstairs, Clem emerged with the demon-fur and a small turquoise necklace Spike had swiped off a corpse the month before. “Is this ok? Ingrid’s gonna go ballistic for this!”
Spike regarded the demon blearily. He wearily nodded--almost comforted by the happiness on the wrinkled face. With a flourish, Clem stopped by the door and pulled the ratty blanket off of a basket he’d brought in with him. The fuzzy head of a huge tabby popped up.
“Hate to ruin your gusto, Vanna, but that’s a cat, not a litter of kits--” the vampire started, but Clem picked up her front legs, revealing her swollen, obviously pregnant belly, “--oh. So, how am I supposed to sodding feed it when I can’t even feed myself?”
In all the world, the only creature who knew of Spike’s state was Clem. Since betraying the Scoobies to Adam that spring, the blonde had been slowly starving. He was lucky to get a few shots a week at Willie’s before getting kicked out, and that was hardly the 12 pints a day that vampires need to survive. The trick to not looking completely famished was the occasional *gulp* rat and a three pints a week of pig’s blood from the butcher -- if he was lucky. The forlorn vampire had confided in Clem and they went out together scrounging for things to pawn. It helped, but Spike’s raging hunger and deteriorating health (or un-health) were proof that it was not enough.
“Well, there was a Manta brawl down by Willie’s, and I got there while the bodies were fresh. You know those Mantas taste like beef if you salt them enough? Anyway, I grabbed two corpses, prepared them, saved some for the family and you get the rest!” He produced a big plastic container with raw meat in it. “So you can just ration this ‘til she has the litter, then let her go!” The triumphant look transforming the mess of flaps of his face was contagious.
Spike had to give credit to his resourcefulness. “Clever bloke. Be a luv, and put it in the mini-fridge.” So far, the cemetery office hadn’t noticed the extension cords that Clem and Spike had rigged to run along the gates.
The tabby struggled out of the basket and waddled over in a bid for attention. She was easily thirty pounds--the biggest non-demon stray he’d ever seen. She got a raised eyebrow for her trouble, but kept peering at Spike with rapt attention. He put out his cig and tossed it across the crypt.
“You’re welcome, Spike. Well, I’ve gotta head out, but I’ll be back later to see how she’s working out. And no sunbathing, ok?” Clem grinned as he left and the vamp was left alone with his thoughts and the damned cat.
Spike rolled off the sarcophagus and lay on the floor, marinating in self-pity over Xander’s rejection. The boy had probably decided that Scooby wrath wasn’t worth dealing with, that Spike wasn’t worth the trouble. A fuzzy caress on his temple alerted him to the feline’s presence.
“Sod off. I’ve got enough problems.” His only answer was a purr as he put out a hand to scratch her behind the ears. A sting coursed through the back of his throat and he felt the tears track down to his ears. His unbeating heart twisted and ached as he recalled the glee and passion of the night spent with the human in his arms.
“It’s not like I didn’t give him chances to back out--he could have just said he didn’t want to,” the blonde explained to her. She looked at him with wise eyes and he continued, “Instead of...instead of addicting me to that scent, that burning. What it’s like not to be so...utterly...alone...” He choked on the last words and sobbed silently. One hand snaked out and wrenched a half full bottle of Jack from under some rubbish. With the same hand, he fumbled it open and gulped. The affectionate rumble in the cat’s throat increased, and he picked her up and placed her on his chest.
“Why are you so content? It’s not like I’m gonna name you or anything. Bloody fleabag.” //Warm.// Spike proceeded to get drunk again with the heat and weight radiating into his belly and thoughts of the warm human who couldn’t be bothered with his love.
“No wonder everyone kept giving me looks!” he groaned. The whole side of his neck was an angry reddish-purple! It looked like he’d been mauled or made out with all night. Talk about telltale marks. As he watched, a blush blazed through his features. Turning angrily from the mirror, he hurried to the shower and quickly stripped Evil-Dead’s clothes from his body. The two halves of himself, having been identified, were now at war with each other.
The one he overheard
As tactful as Riley had been about ‘special properties’ with the other Xander, Xander knew that everyone had considered him the inferior double. But this was the real Alexander Lavelle Harris--the boy who saw everything about everyone, even if he couldn’t put it into words. This ‘Real Xander’ could never justify being with the girls he’d been with but had let the logic of the other override his decision. Truth be told, all of the strength and courage of the human was held in the less rational one. It was he that had the gumption to wield a gun in an effort to take back his life when all the other had wielded were words. Here was where his heart lay and the black and white categories of his world turned grey. The ‘Real Xander’ had been dead set against rejoining with Anya, who abhorred the other half of him. He figured that if she couldn’t accept both parts of him, she would get neither.
Standing naked, he wrenched the shower knobs and stepped in. Quickly scrubbing himself down, he thought about the decisions he’d made since integrating the doubles. He had made very big sacrifices this day. Upon integration, he’d rejected Anya and stood Spike up, and he felt like a heel for doing both. He rinsed, turned off the water, and marched to his bed, where he fell in without bothering to dry. Despite the heated argument taking place in his head, he was out like a light.
BLISS TOOK HOLD 9