Took Hold 10
Spike searched the boy’s face for an explanation, and found only hardness in the cold, brown eyes. The sweet vulnerability was gone and the human’s stance was tense. He’d been a fool to hope that nothing had changed since their passionate night together. When Xander looked away, Spike finally noticed that they weren’t alone. Struggling to keep his composure, he dropped his hands and rifled in his pockets for a cigarette.
“I’m fine, Fangless. Sorry to disappoint you--with my not being dead and all.” The words were flat and emotionless.
Spike closed his eyes and tried to think of an excuse to be here. Stalling as he lit up, he took a drag and numbly brought his hands down. He had successfully severed his ties with this lot when he made the deal with Adam, and there was no guarantee of him getting out of this room unhurt.
“Thought I’d see if there was a reward for your worthless life--” he began his tissue-thin explanation but was jerked around as Riley grabbed his shoulder and pushed him against the wall.
“You got a lotta nerve showing up here, Hostile...” the ex soldier grated out menacingly, dragging out the last word.
“Well if it isn’t Gomer-Bloody-Pyle! Glad to see you’re still your same uptight self--” Spike retorted. The punch rocked his head to the side, bloodying his lip, and the vampire chuckled bitterly and took a drag. The fury on Riley’s countenance turned volcanic as the blonde blew smoke in his face. This was just what he needed. He noted that the soldier had a fading black eye, looking a little worse for wear.
“I don’t give a *damn* that you can’t physically hurt us.” The fist went back again as Riley prepared to strike again. A hand caught his arm, and the astonished human turned his head.
“But that shiner says that I still can.” The hand tightened, and the sound of creaking bones could be heard.
//Maybe I’m hallucinating. Is this what DTs feel like?// Spike thought. It had to be if Angel was standing there, defending him.
Spike was evidently forgotten as the two went nose-to-nose and Buffy rushed to get between them.
“You would be on his side, *Angelus*...” Riley dodged around a distracted Slayer and shoved Angel roughly. The dark-haired Master barely moved. He wasn’t acting like the soul-whipped puppy Spike remembered.
“For the thousandth time, it’s Angel, but there’s really no difference between the two when it comes to you, *boy*.”
As Riley moved to attack again, Angel sucker punched him in the gut and the human hit the floor. Buffy glared at Angel, but it was without fire, as she eased her boyfriend to the couch. Angel shrugged innocently like “what’d I do?”
didn’t look mad to Spike, just troubled. //Somebody’s conflicted.//
“What are you doing here, Spike?” The Slayer stood a few feet away, utterly exasperated.
Spike straightened up and casually walked to the kitchen, opening the freezer. He was relieved to find blood and he grabbed two bags as he answered.
“Came by to pick up my payment for saving...the whelp.” He damned the crack in his voice on the last two words, but showed his true face as he coolly tore open the bags with his fangs.
//They’re fighting again, at a time like this?// Xander’s irritation knew no bounds. He knew when Angel showed up a month ago with no explanation that there’d be trouble. But Riley and the dark vampire brought the concept from the sublime to the ridiculous. Buffy had been no help at all, insisting that they handle their problems themselves, since neither was going anywhere.
The tension was ratcheting-up in his muscles, but he stayed in place when Riley went after Spike. He kept an eye on the blonde vampire and let the words play over and over in his head. //worthless life, whelp--was he just saving me for a reward?// Heaping denial aside, Xander still thought the heated kisses and fervent touches had meant more than a few bags of blood. The insecurities about being worthless crept back up, and he let them, because it was easier than letting his feelings about Spike surface again.
He watched as Spike tore the bags open, and memories of soap bags and bubbles made his heart hurt. //This is an evil, vicious killer. You’re in mourning for stolen smoochies with Fangless--get a grip!//
“You’re such a creep! We’re supposed to reward you for doing the right thing? I can’t believe you!” Buffy screeched and stomped over to the blonde as he poured blood into four mugs and popped them into the microwave.
Xander’s feet were moving before he could think of why, but her stance said she was ready to slay. He maneuvered between them and did his best traumatized-and-scared boy face for her. Truthfully, he didn’t know how much of it was real and how much was faked.
“Buffy, we were surrounded by vamps. There were seven of them--if it wasn’t for Spike, you’d be dusting me right about now.” It was a mean card to play and he knew it. During the joining ritual they performed to defeat Adam, he’d seen her worst fear: staking a Scooby.
Buffy went glassy-eyed and captured one of his hands. “I’m so sorry, Xander. You wouldn’t have had to go through that if he hadn’t been aiming for me.”
He led her out of the kitchen and they muttered comforting words to each other. Willow and Tara joined them and they shared a moment of comfort and hugs. The microwave beeped and Spike could be heard tending to his meal.
Giles, who had been silent all this time, cleared his throat and joined them. The fluffy bunny moment was getting to everyone except for the two vampires and Riley. //It was a long time coming// Xander thought. Their little group hadn’t been right for a long time, but they were finally healing and bonding like they should. The five shared a minute of Scooby-solidarity, chatting quietly and effectively ignoring everyone else.
Spike, having downed two mugs already, came around the bar and handed Angel a cup of blood. Angel glanced at him, surprised and confused as they tuned in to the conversation.
“Yes, Xander. We’re all very relieved that you escaped unscathed, other than the rather mutilated skin on your neck.”
A gurgling coughing sound as Spike choked on blood just then. Xander glared at him and turned back to Giles with a red face.
Spike sidled closer to Angel, still trying to figure him out. The fresh blood was doing wonders for his disposition, but he still didn’t trust his sire.
“You smell like rat.”
Spike flinched. “Prick.”
“Missed you too, Spike,” Angel delivered in a voice that had no inflection.
“You care all of a sudden?”
“Priorities changed--you’re not feeding properly.”
“Bloody fantastic! I’ll just wait for them to change back. Seems to be happening a lot lately. So how long you been back, Peaches?”
“Few months.” The older vampire’s eyes drifted to the floor.
“And you didn’t march into my crypt to make threats? I’m shocked!”
“I kinda thought you’d end up back in contact with the group, so I waited. You’d think he’d loosen up just once...” Angel gestured to Riley, who paced around the room.
“Yeah, Soldier Boy’s wound pretty tight. Why’d you really go after him?”
The older vampire threw a puzzled glance his way. “Don’t like him.”
“So it’s a matter of ‘the enemy of your enemy is--”
“--a tiresome moron,” Angel finished. The two shared a look, their own family bond mending a bit.
Riley approached, still simmering.
“They may be cutting you slack, but I’ll be watching you, Bleach Boy.” The human jabbed a finger in Spike’s face as he postured.
“Is that so, Pyle? Should I start dressing with the door open then? Give you a show--that how you get your rocks off?” He knew these military types were homophobic to a fault and loved exploiting it. He slammed his empty mug on the bar and started heading toward the former soldier.
“Spike! You’re disgusting!” The very pissed Slayer pushed him backwards.
“Really, Slayer. Between the Poof, Parker, and Pyle, you could write a bloody movie!” The blonde was working himself into a lather, all the misfortunes of his unlife adding up to a delicious rage. He didn’t have to take this abuse! But he did have to get out before he did something he regretted. Again. He continued in a falsetto voice, “This one has no soul, this one has no heart, this one has no brain!”
He kept talking as he stormed to the door. He grabbed the knob, turned around and regarded all of them, his tone bitter and hateful. “I’ll leave you Nancies to skip down the yellow brick road. Dorothy.” He nodded at Buffy before exiting in a swirl of leather. The silence dragged out until Angel grabbed his coat off the chair and hurried out of the apartment.
BLISS TOOK HOLD 11