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Summary: Spike is in DC to get a little revenge. Xander drops in to change his plans. Gibbs and DiNozzo learn something they never wanted to know. (Spike/Xander, Gibbs/DiNozzo pre-slash)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Xander-Centered > Pairing: OtherMuffieFR18735,25472314,45626 Dec 1126 Dec 11Yes

Chapter Seven

Spike was napping when he returned. He glared at the vamp blinking sleepily at him---a total fake, Spike was loaded for bear---and put the charm above the lintel, well, the top of the door, and spoke the magic words.

"Perfect, thanks, pet."

"Yeah, yeah. Wanna donut?"

Spike accepted the raspberry jelly that Xander had gotten specifically for him, and settled in to watch Xander mow through the rest of the box.

"What's the plan, pet?" Spike asked when Xander's last donut crumb was gone.

Xander blinked. "Huh?"

"Military gits will be here soon. What's the plan?"

"Um. Talk, I guess. Not give them what they want unless it suits us most. I dunno, think we can use military backup in LA?"

Spike instantly shook his head, then stopped, tilted it, and looked thoughtful.

Xander could totally sympathize what with watching the chip go off in Spike's head and seeing the inside of the Initiative---this way led to dissection types of torture---and being a generally sympathetic guy. Okay, so Spike had once explained that it felt like getting kicked in the nuts by a jackhammer. Any guy could sympathize. Military was, well, hard to tell. "Hard question. Yeah, the numbers and firepower could be handy, but they wouldn't be really effective against anyone. We could maybe get Riley's people there. They at least know how to deal with demons and won't have to waste time getting over the fact that demons exist before being of any real use."

"Toy soldier might not be of much use, but he'd make good cannon fodder. Yeah, if these gits behave, might ask Captain Cardboard's people off 'em."

"Other than that, stonewall them?"

"Sounds good, pet."

"And no show and tell unless you want to. You're not a toy."

Spike half-smirked. "Well, should be here soon. Be a luv and pick up a bit, yeah? Don't need 'em to see our unmentionables."

"So not a pet. Pick your own stuff up, fang face."

Spike huffed, complained, and made leering remarks about Xander's backside, but didn’t actually have much to pick up. Just his duster and Docs, actually. Xander, though. It took him about twenty minutes to get all of his scattered stuff back into the duffle bag.

Spike was gnawing on a blood bag when a knock came on the door. Spike arched his eye brows, but made no move to put the blood down, let alone get up from his throne chair to get the door. Xander heaved a put upon sigh and went to let his visitors in. Gibbs came in first, followed by some guy Xander didn't know, and then DiNozzo. A couple of people in black suits wandered the hallway, trying to look inconspicuous. Impossible. Xander rolled his eye and shut the door.

"Harris, this is Secretary Davenport. Secretary, this is Alexander Harris and," Gibbs pause to grimace at Spike, "Spike."

"Mr. Harris, Mr. Spike," Davenport said. He stared with an interesting combination of look at the cool new thing and grossed out. A wiggins without the wigging.

Spike sneered. Which was really kind of yuck considering the blood he let drip from a fang. Okay, yuck if you weren't a Scooby, who were all pretty much used to these kinds of things. They faked the grossed out for Spike at the end of Sunnydale. Probably nerve wracking if you were a civilian who wasn't. Davenport looked a bit of scared and a bit of creeped out and totally did not look at Spike again. As if Spike was ignorable or something, even when he wanted to be ignored. Gibbs was working the poker face and DiNozzo just looked fascinated, okay fascinated and yucked.

Xander flopped into the chair across the table from Spike and waved at the beds. DiNozzo took up a position near the little hallway thing. Davenport sat on the bed near them and Gibbs stood beside him, arms crossed. "So," Xander said, "talk."

Davenport stared at Xander for a few minutes, kind of like Mrs. French of the low cut blouse and the praying mantis insides from high school had once stared at him. Only without the let's get it on, you hot hunk of virgin sacrifice vibeage.

Spike had his bored face on. Xander decided he couldn't pull that off, so he kind of half smirked and stared right back at Davenport with more of a yeah, I didn't do my homework and you can't make me feel guilty about it face than the whole I can so kick your ass attitude face. Someday, he'd so have a kick your ass attitude face, once he worked on it a lot more, but for now, insolence had to do.

"Is Commander Wilder is the only business that brings you to DC?" Davenport took the I'm in charge of this here cattle drive tone.

Spike sneered for a moment, then went back to bored now face. Apparently, it was up to Xander to the actual driving of this here cattle drive. "Visiting friends and all that stuff. You know how it is. You blow into town and everyone wants you over for meatloaf." Xander scratched his chin. "Gotta be careful. Never know when you're the meatloaf."

"Anything we should be worried about?"

"Not unless you like to wander around cemeteries in the middle of the night."

DiNozzo looked amused now. He'd turned away from Spike to watch the show, apparently. Gibbs kept his poker face firmly plastered on. But it was cracking a little around the edges.

Davenport smiled faintly. "Can't say as I've ever had the urge. So, in your expert opinion, no sub-terrestrial threats are brewing?"

"Had some coffee in a bar last night." Xander shuddered theatrically. "If that wasn't a threat brewed by a demon, I have no idea what could be."

Davenport quirked half of his smile up a bit further. "I see, Mr. Harris. We've been keeping an eye on the local sub-terrestrial population for any incursions into human areas." So, straight to business with no polite messing around. Davenport cleared his throat noisily. "Of course, one has apparently slipped in, under the radar. A homunculus, correct?"

The empty blood bag flopped onto the table, bits of left over breakfast oozing from two neat fang-holes and coagulating on the really expensive oak top. Spike's eyes narrowed. Xander didn't have to be looking at him to know that Spike had switched into Danger-Vamp mode. He could totally feel the waves of Danger-Vamp radiating like nuclear something or other. Xander tilted his head, enough of a movement to distract any sharp-eyed federales from looking too closely at Spike. "Yup."

Davenport smiled. It wasn't a nice, let's be friends smile. More of a you're a kid and in my way but I'll put up with you because you're the means I'm using to get to the end I want smile. "And you want this homunculus."

It took Xander a moment to realize that Davenport wasn't actually talking to Spike about the homunculus, but to Xander, which made absolutely no real sense because Xander didn't care about the fake thing in the jail cell. It could be dealt with later, after a few more apocalypses had been dealt with. Xander didn't have to wonder why. Giles had once told him that people, especially the decision makers with power, liked to think of demons as animals, and therefore would not speak to them. Nothing like getting a demon's considered opinion to shatter the dumb-animal-daydream they had going on. There was a whole bunch about power structures and shifting power something or others that Xander had tuned out. It kind of came down to the fact that simply by being something that preyed exclusively on people, vampires had more power than even the most powerful dude on the planet. Though Xander did think that Clint Eastwood could take the average vamp out without even having to unsquint. But Davenport here, he obviously thought he was some kind of big boss, so therefore, pretend the guy with the most power in the room was some kind of attack dog, and therefore not worth the time. Therefore.

Spike kicked him under the table. Davenport was no longer smiling.

Xander smirked because he didn't want to give up the cool guy image for the goof guy image. "So, your leading question would be?"

Gibbs frowned.

Davenport looked all hardcore, hoorah, Clint Eastwood as a marine for a moment. "I can make the thing's trial go away."

Xander ended up raising both eyebrows, despite the lack of panache that had, whatever panache was, that raising one eyebrow had. "Really? So have at it."

"It's not that simple, Mr. Harris." Davenport said. Xander didn't like the tone of the Mr. Harris. it was like when Captain Picard was giving orders to Wesley Crusher when Wesley was in trouble. Davenport settled a bit in his seat on the bed. "The wheels of justice are in motion. Altering a trial on a criminal matter, or any matter, is difficult because due process is important. It would compromise not only my ethics, but the ethics of the entire navy. We take ethics seriously."

Spike snorted.

"I call bullshit on that one," Xander muttered.

Davenport lifted his eyebrows---ha! a fellow non-one-eyebrow lifter!---but apparently decided to pretend he hadn't heard that. DiNozzo was trying not to grin and Gibbs looked like he was going to choke.

"So. I think he's up to something," Xander said conversationally, looking at Davenport. "Whattya think?"

Davenport frowned. "The homunculus would be, by its very nature, wouldn't it?"

"Think you're right, pet," Spike said. Xander could hear the smirky, sexy Spike face in the smooth, growly, I can kick your ass and we all know it tone. "Question is, does the berk have the knackers?"

"Eww! Old guy! No mentioning of old guy knackers!"

Spike chuckled. Again with the smirky, sexy, smoothy, growly Spikeness.

Davenport was no longer frowning. His face smoothed into a mask of, um, maskiness.

Xander put on his straight face. "We're pretty much familiar with the carroting and the sticking strategy. It never really worked on Spike anyway. Try to tell him that you'll untie him from the barcalounger if he promises not to eat you and he says you'd taste like kippers and bits anyway." Xander glowered at Spike. "Totally a nummy treat here, fang face." He turned back to Davenport. "So, you can quit with the dangling of the homunculus and get on with the general threats and or blackmail."

"I have no intention of threatening or blackmailing you." Davenport did a pretty good job of working the offended and incensed face. Though why anyone would have an incense face, Xander didn't know.

He smiled brightly with lots of teeth, which Davenport didn't seem to see as anything but some kid goofing around. "Well great! We've got a Sex Pistols tribute band to hunt down, so we'll drop by in say, a month? Yeah, a month, for some quality time with the homunculus. Nice meeting ya, and all of that, but we've got to go buy fanpunk gear. So, don't let the door hit ya on the way out."

Davenport cleared his throat. "Not so fast, young man."

Xander crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. "Oh, you did not just go there."

Davenport shifted from sincere if offended to the disappointed in young people in general and you in particular face. "I, er, apologize, Mr. Harris. I didn't mean to be insulting."

Xander waved a get-on-with-it hand.

"The Department of the Navy takes ethics very seriously. We also take the security of our nation very seriously; not just from foreign, human enemies, but also from the threats our people face from the sub-terrestrial population." Davenport's eyes flicked toward Spike and his skin got all corpse pale for a moment. Spike must have flashed some fang. Davenport went back to looking at Xander earnestly, like the Richard Wilkins the Third during campaign season. "We recognize the terrible mistake that the Initiative was and we won't repeat it. We've learned and moved on. However, that doesn't change the facts. There are sub-terrestrial dangers and we have to do something about it."

"Well, that's simple enough. Leave it to the professionals and stick to navy-ing."

"We can't do that. As you know from your recent conversation with Major Finn, we've been dealing with the non-human threat ourselves for years. We aren't recreating the Initiative, but we do have teams tasked with hunting down hostile sub-terrestrials. Of course, we lack the training and resources you have, thanks to your position with the Watcher's Council, so we've had issues with the mission. Aside from vampires, which we can detect with specialized equipment, we have trouble differentiating between humans and human-looking sub-terrestrials."

This guy was making Xander's teeth ache and he didn't eat people. Spike was ready for sainthood for just sitting there and looking all Spikey and bored to tears. Xander forced himself not to do something stupid. At least not yet. "First of all, that whole Nazi phraseology you have going on here, that sub-terrestrials," complete with air quotes, "is just stupid. Kind of like calling all demons, demons. Some are just your average Joe Tentacle trying to keep the hatchlings fed and ready for college. Some are all horns and fangs and let's snack on human lunchables. Calling them demons makes people afraid of them because everyone knows demons are evil when really, a lot of them aren't. Calling them sub-terrestrials makes people think they're nothing but animals, and therefore humans can do whatever they want to them and it'll be okay. Dumb idea. Second of all, you can't manage demons the way you do stray dogs. I know you're all military power guy, but that doesn’t make you the boss of everyone. A lot of demons are taxpayers and don't break any laws, human or their own."

Spike kept the bored face on, but Xander could see the grin in the set of the eyebrows.

"I see." Geez, was that all this guy could say? "You should understand our concerns about these, er, non-human citizens of our fair nation, Mr. Harris. Some of them are evil. Some aren't evil, but they are prone to violence, destruction, and disruption. Washington is the seat of power in the US. Having demons causing problems beyond the scope of breaking a human law or two is something we must stop. Nip trouble in the bud."

Xander thought about that. He shrugged because yeah, the guy had a point; but, no, that way lead to things like the Initiative and stupid soldiers getting killed.

"I'm personally concerned. You are currently the only expert we have on American soil. I assume you'll be leaving soon, either back to Africa or to join your friends in London." Pulling the old see what kind of info I have on you trick was so two decades ago Jason Bourne. Maybe. Xander had never seen the movie.

"I'm not the only expert. There are a bunch running around. You people just call them crazy and stick them in institutions around here."

Davenport smiled, then. "Demon hunters and witches with the odd mythology professor. While these are resources we could tap in an emergency, they aren't quite like a Council trained resource. You and your people have a depth of knowledge unavailable anywhere else in the world. You not only research and understand demons, but you know how to deal with them, both to stop them from causing trouble and to negotiate to keep them peaceful and quiet."

Spike eyed Davenport like Spike was a cat and Davenport was a particularly smelly piece of spoiled tuna. "What's your point, tosser?"

"Frankly, we'd like to discuss moving the Watcher's Council here, to Washington, or some other location on American soil, if you prefer. We can offer many resources that your organization may have problems securing, such as a variety of weapons, transportation, a base of operations without fees, training grounds, access to military instruction for individual and group tactics. If moving the full Council isn't possible, then opening a branch locally to liaise with our people. We have large grounds at Quantico and we can construct whatever you need."

Xander tried not to frown. "Well, yeah, thanks but no thanks. You people created the Initiative."

"We've learned from that mistake and we don't intend to repeat it. We'd rather join forces with the Council to control the bad elements in the demon population."

"Still, no."

Davenport said nothing for a moment. Then he smiled in one of those fakish sympathy let's be buddies ways. "One of the resources we have that you can't get from London is our international assets. We have embassies and diplomats in nearly every nation on the planet. You've been bringing young women to London from all over the world. We can facilitate your efforts. Rather than fight local and British bureaucracy to move these young ladies from their home nation, you would simply bring them to a US embassy where we would arrange for all of the documents and for transportation. In hostile nations, this would be ideal for you group because we would offer not only refuge, but an easy way to leave areas with active hostile forces or hostile ideologies."

Now that was tempting. Getting girls barely starting puberty out of some countries was harder than getting Buffy to quit shopping. But, no. The government having any kind of control over slayers, even if it's just opening up an embassy to them for a few hours, was a Very Bad Idea. Maybe it was paranoid much, but paranoid paid off.

"I'll talk to the Bossman," Xander said with a shrug. "But I can tell you that the answer will be no."

Davenport settled back a bit and looked perfectly comfortable. "We'd like to send a liaison to negotiate for us. While you can present our offer plainly, a liaison would be in a position to negotiate the offer to make it mutually beneficial."

"Yeah, that's not going to happen. No military wankers allowed."

Davenport apparently didn't get it. "I thought we'd send Major Riley Finn. You are familiar with him and his work. He understands demons and your group. We'd be willing to send him to London with you when you leave."

Xander blinked for a moment. That could work. "Well. We can do an apocalypse test."

Gibbs frowned. DiNozzo looked confused and unhappy. Davenport frowned. "A what?"

Xander shrugged an it's no big shrug. "It's apocalypse season and we've got a pretty big one coming up. Send Riley and his entire unit in as backup and we'll see how well we all work together. Uh, no green troops at all. If they haven't faced a demon and gotten over the whole eek! demons don't exist! I'm having an existential breakdown---"

"Do you even know what existential means, luv?" Spike interjected.

"No comments from the peanut gallery. Anyway, we'll do a test thing. See if they help or get in the way. See how the government deals with an apocalypse they didn't actually start."

Davenport frowned more. "We don't start apocalypses."

"Adam," Xander said, getting his smug on.

"That hardly qualifies as an apocalypse, Mr. Harris."

Spike barked out a laugh. "'Course not. My boy and his gang stopped it before it could properly get started. Adam was building his own clockworks. He would have had quite the zombie army if my boy and his friends hadn't stopped him. Walsh's dolly would likely would be in possession of most of the US by now."

Davenport frowned even more, if that were possible. "I read the reports."

"So you know that you built him, then you gave him the parts he needed to create an army, and there was no way you could stop him." Xander grinned. "Knowing is half the battle sometimes."

"That was not what we intended with the Initiative."

Xander shrugged. "Road to one of the hell dimensions is paved with good intentions."

"One of the hell dimensions?" DiNozzo said, but not very loud so everyone ignored him.

Davenport nodded gravely. But not like the Peter Graves in Airplane! gravely. More like librarian Giles being told that Buffy needed to go on a date once in a while rather than patrol all of the time because, frankly, it was bad for her development as a teenager as well as her self-esteem gravely. "I can understand your concerns."

"So do we get Riley and his group or not?"

Davenport relaxed his frown. "Very well. When and where?"

Xander suddenly felt a bit more relief. "Soon as possible in LA. Tell him to go see Angel. Riley knows where."

"Angel? The stripper guy with the law firm?" This time, DiNozzo wasn't ignored.

"Stripper?" Spike sounded offended, then smirked. "Pouf'll love that."

Xander ignored them both. "Yeah, yeah. Um, will Riley have access to an armory for some shopping? We don't know what kind of weapons we could use until we've been there to assess the situation."

Davenport nodded decisively. "I'll see to it personally."

"Well good. If we survive the apocalypse, then Riley can come visit London and talk to the Council about doing something here. No promises, but you know how it goes. All it takes is one corrupt politician and suddenly you've got a 60 foot Olkivan snake demon roaming around eating principals and planning on noshing on the student body."

Davenport's eyebrows went up. "Another apocalypse?"

"Yup."

"What happens if you don't stop an apocalypse in time?" Gibbs suddenly asked.

Xander tilted his head. "Well, sometimes, like with the politician turned snake demon, the fallout would be kind of small. He'd probably have just taken over a sizeable chunk of North America and made that hell on earth while everyone else got to go about their business. With the one involving a certain nutjob vampire with a hair care product fetish and his boulder with a mouth, the whole world would have been sucked into a hell dimension, so that would have sucked for everyone."

The three navy guys did not look pleased to hear that.

Xander did his best class clown grin. "But we tend to stop them so no big."

"What about this one, in LA?" Davenport asked.

Xander shrugged. "Haven't assessed it, but we're taking on group of demons that have ruled hell dimensions for a while, so it's gonna be a pain to stop, but we'll stop it."

"And if you don't?"

"To paraphrase a wise philosopher, do, there is no do not."

Davenport was back to frowning again. "What are your contingency plans, in case you fail?"

Xander shrugged again. "Hope we all die because it will suck otherwise."

"I can authorize an air strike, if it becomes necessary."

Spike scoffed. "Idiot. Sometimes bombs will work on demons. Most times, it'll just make them stronger."

Davenport's frown got worse. "I can authorize a nuclear strike."

Xander rolled his eye. "And what part of most times they just get stronger did you not understand? I'm thinking that you can keep Riley and his people. We'll be better off without you."

"Major Finn and his teams have been successfully hunting demons for several years."

"Riley and his doofus squad have been taking out fyarl and vampire. It's like beating up fifth graders for their lunch money."

Spike poked him in the ribs. "Oi!"

Xander rolled his eye. "Baby vampires. Legendary master vampires, like Spike here, would obviously put an apocalypse of even the epicest of epic proportions to shame."

Spike poked him again. "Don't take the piss, pet. You lot never beat me."

"Parent teacher night. Joyce. Axe." Xander smirked at Spike. "Ring any bells, ADHD vamp? How about the gem, Buffy, middle of the day, Sunnydale U?"

"You never beat me, boy."

Xander grinned. "No, but I did get to tie you to my barcalounger."

"Nit."

"Git."

"Enough!" Gibbs bellowed. "You're worse than children!"

"Righty-o, old man. Only as old as you act." Spike smirked his most irritating smirk.

Davenport stood up. "I'll have Major Finn and his teams heading directly for L.A. within the hour. He will make his reports directly to me. Once this…incident is dealt with, he'll return to D.C. to debrief, and then to Council headquarters in London where he will present our proposal. If you would be so kind as to give Major Finn the help he needs to be successful, your nation would appreciate it."

DiNozzo shifted his weight. "Least that way, you can keep an eye on things."

Davenport frowned at DiNozzo, then turned back to Xander. "However this works out, Major Finn will bring the homunculus to London to present to the Council. I trust that you will take care of it in the most appropriate and most humane manner possible."

"Appropriate, yeah. We'll probably stick it in a room with Spike and some rail road spikes. He's got some issues to work out. Psychotherapy doesn't always take with vampires." Xander nodded to himself decisively. "So yeah, humane, too."

"Humane for the homunculus," Davenport said. "It may not be human, but it certainly behaves that way."

Xander felt suddenly sad. "Yeah, unfortunately it does. Just goes to show how crappy human beings with the souls and the consciences and the milk of human kindness can get about the way they treat others."

Davenport apparently didn't like that. "Yes, well. It's been an honor meeting you, Mr. Harris."

Xander wanted to call bullshit again, but went for diplomatic, instead. "I'd say the same, but well, military wanker and all that."

"I understand." His eyes flicked toward Spike for a moment. "It may not seem that way, Mr. Harris, but I do understand." Davenport squared his shoulders and faced Spike. "Mr. Spike, I know that it'll never be enough, but my sincerest apologies for what the Initiative did to you. I will see to it that it doesn't happen again."

Spike sneered and stood up. Davenport and Gibbs tensed. DiNozzo leaned back, looking unhappy. Spike stared Davenport down. "You're used to playing politics, crying a pretty mea culpa for the cameras whenever you lot are caught with your pants around your ankles. Me. My boy. We see right through you." Spike moved like only a really old and really smart vamp can, suddenly in Davenport's personal space. Davenport sucked in a breath so hard, he choked. Gibbs' gun was out and, just as fast, ripped from his hands and tossed to Xander, who totally only manage to catch the thing with a few yelps and some serious fumbling. He gritted his teeth and fought the compulsion to drop it only by gently placing it on the table, pointing away. How in the hell had Gibbs managed to pull it with the no violence charm in place?

Spike flicked the US flag pin on Davenport's lapel. Davenport grunted and the pin went flying into the wall. Vamp strength and power was too sexy when Spike was using it. Spike smirked. "You trot out your words of patriotism and draw your border lines in the sand with your toy soldiers. My boy and his lot may be human. May have nationalities, visas, and passports. My boy and his lot, though, they know of no nation. The only nation they know is the world. Your petty bickering with Mossulmans and the Chinese don't matter. You'll try to wield my boy and his lot like weapons for your power games. Call it things like national security and wrap it in pretty bows of heroism." Spike gestured toward Xander. "My boy don't see nationality and never will. Never think twice about who is the enemy and who is not. You do. You think you can control the Council, can make decisions about which nations gain protection from demons." Spike scoffed and dropped into his throne-chair with all of the grace of a master vampire with more attitude than caring. "My boy sees you. Never think he won't."

Xander was busting his buttons, whatever that meant, and trying really hard not to let the inner Snoopy dance show. He smiled as benignly as possible at Davenport, who was looking pretty danged shell-shocked and not doing so good of a job at hiding it. Spike was very good at doing that to the non-Scoobies of the world.

Davenport opened his mouth.

"It's time for you to leave," Xander said. "Now."

Davenport's mouth slapped shut and he looked pissy. American pissy, not British pissy, which would be kind of funny right now, to have him look British pissy because he had that too important for you kind of attitude that a good round at the local pub while Man U was kicking ass and taking names would so fix.

Davenport took a deep breath. "Consider what's on offer, Mr. Harris." He nodded at Gibbs and DiNozzo, then left.

Gibbs glared at Xander. "Apocalypse?"

"Hell dimensions?" DiNozzo chimed in.

Xander shrugged. "You say insurgency, we say apocalypse. You have more bullets, we have more horns and slime."

Spike stood up and poked Xander. "Time to go, luv."

Xander did his best to stare piercingly into Gibbs' eyes. "Keep an eye on that guy. The Initiative starts back up again, we'll have an apocalypse on our hands that we can't stop." Xander shrugged. "Maybe won't stop."

Gibbs's lips scrunched into a white line. "Politicians." He said that in the same way Cordy used to say Wal-mart. Gibbs lifted his chin. "If one of your apocalypses comes my way, look me up."

Xander grinned. "Might do that."

"That was an order."

Spike tossed a duffel at Xander and scoffed yet again. "Boy wouldn't know how to follow an order if you turned it into a comic." He bared his teeth at Gibbs and then DiNozzo. "Wanker. Minion."

"Leave him at home," Gibbs added with a chin point in Spike's direction. "DiNozzo!"

With that, Gibbs marched out of the room. DiNozzo pulled a hey we're cool, and jeez you're weird half-apology, half-smirky face, then followed.

"Well, Spike?"

"Well what?"

Xander grinned. "I did good and you know it."

Spike whacked him in the back of the head. "You had no idea what you were doing, lackbrain."

"Of course I did! I'm the One Who Sees!"

Spike shouldered his bag and paused on his way out of the door long enough to glare at Xander. "You see the truth of people, pet, not the future."

Xander shrugged. "Well, it did all work out in the end."

Spike smiled, a bit. "Yeah, pet, it did."

Xander smiled, too, feeling pleasure from the compliment, yeah, but mostly from the Spike smile. Hot, sexy, and sweet!

"Now, if we survive L.A. as you've planned, I'll let you touch me bits."

Xander rolled his eye and followed Spike down the hallway. "Gee thanks. Whatever would I do for such a reward?"

Spike laughed, grabbed Xander by the hand and took him down to the waiting limo. Not quite riding off into the sunset, even if they were heading west, because it was all early morning and stuff. But riding off into the apocalypse with a sexy, snarky demon? That was totally Xander's style.

***

Spike grinned, running his tongue over his blunted, human teeth. He scraped his nails gently along the inside of his boy's wrist, raising a path of goosebumps and the musky-sweet scent of an interested Xander. His boy shivered.

Oh, the irony. The chip Angelman had stuck in his head all those years ago had been one of the best things that had ever happened to him, though he'd never admit that to anyone. It had been bloody awful at the time, but the rewards. He'd found something to unlive for beyond himself. He found the fight. He found the Slayer. Loved her for a while, he did. Still loved her, if the truth were to be told to its fullest. Found his soul and saved the world.

He, Spike, had beaten the First Evil. He had defeated the most powerful force of darkness in existence. He'd become a force that other demons cowered before simply because he'd loved a girl and cared for her friends and family. Ironic, that. Love's Bitch, perhaps, but also Love's Vengeance? No, that was the wrong word. Sword? He fancied himself as a nice katana for a mo', like the one that Blade bloke carried in the films. Whatever he was to Love, taking out the First was a brilliant piece of work. One that would never be replicated.

And Love had come through for him. He'd been adrift for a while, unsure if he should abandon Angelus to his idiocy in L.A., but equally unsure if he should venture back into the Scooby fold. In the end, he stayed in L.A. because Angelus did need him, far more than the Slayer and her family did. This thing with the lawyers was but more proof. And yet here he was, settling into a limo to whisk him back toward the fight with the most unlikeliest of lovers at his side. While he'd admired the boy's loyalty, determination, and his lovely, laborer's form back in Sunnyhell, he hadn't cared much for the boy's dogged persistence in playing the idiot nor the boy's persistence in irritating him. Yet, here he was. The boy's loyalty was his now. The form was as lovely, that laborer's strength honed by years of seeking slayers at the odds and ends of the earth.

Spike had beaten the First Evil because of the love he felt for a girl that hadn't, and never would, love him back. What could he do now that he had the love of a boy who loved so powerfully it would bring the angels down from heaven to weep at a demon's feet?

He settled into his seat, the warmth of his boy pressed against his side and seeping into his bones, and laced their fingers together.

He would fall in love with his boy, quickly, deeply, and powerfully. And together, they would shape the world in poetry with the strength of that love. He closed his eyes and smiled. With his boy at his side, the Senior Partners had less a chance than a kitten on a poker table. And if Spike could beat the Senior Partners for his boy instead of the pouf doing it with his mucking about, well that would just be a bit of all right.

The End

The End

You have reached the end of "Courtship Rituals". This story is complete.

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