Damn. Sam shook his head and then continued to stare at the floor. He really needed to calm down. Damn it, though. Damn Dean and his strange ideas. A shudder ran through him. But what if Dean was right? If he really was the Chosen One? He had to know the last part of the prophecy to be sure, but it was written in what he thought was ancient Sumerian, and so far he hadn’t managed to find someone capable of translating it. Even his father’s notebook had been of no help. At all.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, head jerking up. “You!”
“Uh, sorry, too, Mr Federal Agent,” the young man they had run into earlier said, taking a step away from Sam. “I so didn’t mean to run into you again, what with you only being a wanna-be fed and after vamps, um, and I was just sort of preoccupied and oh, did you notice that I tend to ramble when I don’t know what to say?” The stranger blinked a few times and smiled nervously at Sam.
Sam just blinked back. He was still trying to get that sentence disentangled. Perhaps it would make more sense once he did.
“Anyway,” the young man continued, smiling once more, “I think I’ll just shut up now.”
Well. Sam frowned. Shutting up sounded like a good idea. And why hadn’t he noticed that the guy was wearing an eye-patch when they had met at the cemetery? Come to think of it, Sam could almost swear that he had seen him at the harbour, too. Maybe. From the corner of his eye. Him and some blond guy.
“No, I’m sorry,” he said finally, forcing himself to smile warmly. “I wasn’t looking where I was going, either. Really should have. So, uh, are you from around here or…”
“Oh, no. No. Just visiting friends but they weren’t home, hence the motel instead of, yeah.”
“Ah,” Sam grinned, nodding. “I’m Sam, by the way.”
“Xander.” The one-eyed guy offered his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Likewise.” Sam was surprised at how firm the other man’s grip was. And how calloused his hands. Yet two more inconsistencies from the image he had first had of him. Xander was quickly turning into a rather interesting puzzle. “So where were you going before we ran into each other?”
“Um. Vending machine. Drink. Sorry,” Xander shook his head. “Two of my friends just sort of had a fight because of me and I’m still, well…” he trailed off, shrugging.
“I see.” Sam nodded. So he and Dean had not been the only ones fighting. Or sort of fighting. “I think my brother and I sort of did what your friends did. There’s a bar a few blocks away. How about a drink?”
“Sounds great,” Xander gave him a brilliant grin. “Let’s go.”~***~
It only took about ten metres for Xander to start panicking. What the fuck was he doing? The others were expecting him back. And soon at that. Willow was still kind of jittery whenever he disappeared without prior notice and Buffy would probably go out and kill something if she thought that he might be in danger. Fuck. And he had just agreed to go for a drink with a possible unfriendly. Without telling the others. Xander grimaced and quickly forced his face into a neutral expression. He really should know better.
A quick glance at Sam from under lowered lashes confirmed what he had already feared. Nope, no chance of slipping away quietly. Sam was watching him right back. And he knew where he was staying. Finding him again would be easy for the other man, even if the room had been rented in Giles’s name. Damn. What the hell was he thinking running off with someone who not only lied about what he was doing and his reasons for being in town, but also probably connected to the prophecy in some weird way or other.
He sighed, closing the distance between himself and Sam with a few quick steps. Better to keep the other man on his good side and to be ready for anything. No FBI agent was as young as Sam. At least not an agent who was part of a two-man team. And just happened to be partnered with his own brother. And haunted cemeteries around sunset. Not unless he was hunting something. Xander shuddered. Or someone.~***~
Just a few miles away, right in the middle of the cemetery a strange figure with a broad hat sat on the roof of a dilapidated crypt and stared down at a small, round object in his hands. Moonlight glinted on the beads and pearls in the man’s long hair as Captain Jack Sparrow did exactly what everyone, who had ever known him, would have believed to be absolutely impossible. He was sitting still. Not moving. At all. It was almost impossible to tell at first glance whether he was actually breathing or not.
He had been forced to depend on his compass ever since he had lost the map he had borrowed from Barbossa. To a storm of all things. For months the compass had led him on a merry chase, changing the direction it was pointing into every few hours. And that was part of the reason why Jack was sitting still. The compass had not even wavered the least bit for almost three hours. Someone had spent the last few weeks moving his fountain all over the continent. And for some reason the same someone had now stopped. He was sure that the fountain of youth was somewhere in town, all he had to do now was wait. He needed to know who he was going to steal from. And a plan. Jack’s eyes narrowed as the compass needle seemed to shudder. Interesting. It had to be extremely close.~***~
“Cheers,” Sam grinned at Xander, raising his glass. “To a better evening.”
Xander nodded, returning the salute. He needed to get out. Fast. Or maybe he needed to stay. To keep the supposed feds from actually meeting Buffy and Willow. Maybe that was really the best thing he could do right now.
“Ugh!” He sputtered, shakily putting down his glass. “What the hell is this?”
“What ever passes as vodka around here, I guess.” Sam shrugged, taking a cautious sip from his own glass before grinning broadly at Xander. “At least mine’s got coke in it. I think.” He eyed the contents of the glass critically. “Or maybe they just put some food colouring into what ever this is.”
“So,” Xander straightened his shoulders and looked directly into Sam’s eyes, “mind telling me why you and your brother – assuming that he actually is your brother, of course – and you are pretending to be feds?”
“What,” Sam coughed and wiped furiously at the vodka he had just spit onto the table. “What makes you think we aren’t FBI agents?”
“Duh.” Xander shook his head. “Obvious, much? You sneak around cemeteries at sunset, which is like spending rush hour in vampire central. Well, usually,” he amended, thinking back to Spike’s tirade about there being almost no fledges to beat up. “And then you stumble through a fog, which was so not caused by anything from this world – and sprinkle ghostly pirates with Holy Water and salt. So not your run-of-the-mill FBI agents.”
He eyed Sam, whose face was alternating between white and a rather interesting shade of pink, critically. “Unless you and your brother are Mulder and Scully incarnate, which I really hope you’re not, because that would sort of be incest and you two don’t look anything like Mulder and Scully, what with Scully being incredibly hot and you two, well,” he cleared his throat, heat suffusing his face. “So. Been in the slaying business long?”
“Yeah, slaying.” Xander nodded empathically. “You know, the hunting down and disposing of of evil things that go bump in the night? The staking of vampires? Slaying of demons? Stopping of apocalypses, that sort of thing? Which, I’m guessing, is what you and your brother really do. I hope. Because the last time the government got involved really did end in an apocalypse or two.”
“Apocalypses?” Sam’s eyes widened. “There’s actually a plural of that?”
“Needs to be, what with one of them always happening on some hellmouth or other.”
“Hellmouth?” Xander frowned. Sam had definitely been squeaking this time. Just how much information had he just unnecessarily given the other man?
“Yeah, hellmouth. As in mouth of hell. Mystical energy convergence, where hell is just a stone throw away. Boca del inferno.” He cocked his head at the other man. “You two are in the slaying business, right?”
“Well.” Sam finally stopped blinking and gaping. “We do hunt vampires and werewolves and the like.”
“So how can you not know what a hellmouth is?”~***~
Spike growled, sniffing loudly as he finally noticed just what had been bothering ever since he had managed to pick up the whelp’s track. He stared balefully at the door in front of him. What the hell was Xander doing in a bar? He sniffed again. And what the hell had possessed the little blighter to go to a bar with one of the feds of all people? The whelp really had all the rationality and self-preservation instinct of a depressed lemming. Time to rescue the whelp. Again.~***~
“Um, Xander?” Sam asked, pointing at the platinum blond man who was looming behind him. “Is that a friend of yours?”
“Who?” Xander turned. “Spike! How did you find me?”
“Simple.” Spike gave Sam a cold nod and pulled up a chair. “I just asked if someone had seen the colour-blind guy.”
“Colour…” Xander looked down at his shirt, up at Sam and finally settled for glaring at Spike. “Are you insulting my fashion sense again?”
Spike snorted. “You’d need to have one first for me to insult it. Who’s your friend?”
“Um. Spike, Sam. Sam, Spike.” Xander waved a hand back and forth between the two. “Sam and his brother are hunters.”
Sam shuddered as Spike’s full attention landed on him like the sound of a judge’s hammer on the ears of a convict. The other man was creeping him out, there was no other way of saying it. At first he had almost liked the guy since his attitude resembled Dean’s a lot, but something about Spike rubbed Sam the wrong way. He just couldn’t say what exactly that something was. Xander’s explanation, however, didn’t make any more sense than the thinly-veiled hostility and disgusted interest he saw in Spike’s eyes.
“Sort of like slayers only without the supernatural powers and the girly bits.”
Sam winced. Not so much without supernatural powers in his case.
“I see.” The hostility radiated off Spike in palpable waves now. “And what are he and his brother doing here?”
“Um.” Xander turned and blinked at Sam. “Actually, I didn’t get around to asking him that yet.” ~***~
“So.” Sam stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, squinting at Spike from the corner of his eye before looking back at Xander. “It was, well, interesting to meet you.”
“Absolutely.” Sam grinned as Xander’s gaze wandered off into the same direction his own had. Spike. Who had propped himself up against a wall nearby and somehow managed to loom in spite of his slouched posture. And somehow it was reassuring that he seemed to be unsettling Xander as well. “I’m sorry that we couldn’t help you but my friends and I haven’t had any experience with ghost ships so far.”
“We have.” Sam said grimly. “And you shouldn’t worry about not having any. You’re not missing anything.” He shifted his feet uneasily as he heard Spike snicker. He wasn’t too sure, but he suspected that the other man, who should be too far away to hear anything that was being said, was listening to every word he said. And laughing at him for some reason.
“So… after you,” they both said at the same time, grimacing awkwardly. Sam winced as Spike snickered again. The guy seemed to have bat hearing. And was smirking at him, he noticed with another quick glance. He had all of Sam’s nerve endings tingling. In a very bad way. It was as though there was something else where Spike was and sometimes Sam could almost have sworn that he had seen something different, something strange where Spike was supposed to be. It had only been from the corner of his eye and it had always been gone whenever he looked at the blond man, but it left a knot of tension in his stomach that he really could have done without. The sooner they got the ghost ship taken care of the better. And he wouldn’t exactly mind getting further away from Spike. Sam couldn’t help wincing as the blond suddenly looked up and gave him a feral grin. What the hell?
“Just ignore him.”
“Spike,” Xander clarified. “Ignore him. He sort of sees it as his calling to be as annoying as possible in any given situation.”
“So, do you have a mobile?”
“What?” Sam shook his head. “Sorry, I was lost in thought.”
“Bloody hell,” Spike suddenly interrupted. “I don’t know how you managed it, whelp, but you actually found someone to hit on, who is just as oblivious and brain dead as you are.”
“Spike! Pointy! Threatening you here!”
“Pointy?” Sam repeated, raising an eyebrow at Xander. “Do I want to know why you are threatening Spike with ‘pointy’?”
“Um, no, you probably don’t. And,” Xander took a step backwards, holding up his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “As for the rest of what he said, just forget it. I wasn’t hitting on you or anything, that’d be kind of like…I dunno, Luke hitting on Han Solo or something, I was just thinking that exchanging mobile numbers might kinda be a good idea in case we ever need help with something supernatural or something. Like Clark and Lex in Smallville before they had that big fight and…” Xander trailed off, shrugging.
“Oh for fuck’s sake.”
“What?” Sam repeated again, glaring at Spike as the other man left his post at the wall and prowled over to them.
“Just give the whelp your bloody number, it’s not as if he’s going to call on you for help with every bloody fledge he meets. He’s actually rather good at falling while trying to stake them and accidentally making them fall on his stake.”
“Hey!” Xander protested. “Was there a compliment in there? Because that’d be like, the world ending. And no making fun of my cemetery patrols. It’s very grave business.”
This time both Spike and Sam snickered.
“So. You gonna give the boy your number?”
“Yeah, I will.” Sam nodded, already hunting through his pockets for a pen and some piece of paper. “Just give me a call if you ever run into a ghost ship.”
“Right.” Xander gave him a broad grin, pocketing the slip of paper and handing Sam another one in its stead. “And here’s mine. Call us if you need a hellgod killed or something; we’ve got experience with those.”
“Right.” Sam nodded, shaking his head as Spike practically dragged Xander away. Strange. He had absolutely no idea what to make of the two.
“Wait a minute,” he said after a second, cursing as he noticed that the other two men were already out of sight. “Hellgod?!?”