Those in the know had gathered in Inez’s saloon. It hadn’t been planned, but their shared knowledge meant they tended to gravitate together a bit more frequently than before. This time Spike had joined them, as well as Xander. They’d all settled into a horseshoe booth -- Vin on one end next to Spike, then Xander, Josiah, JD, with Ezra seated on the other end.
Xander sighed as he caught JD staring at the blonde again. Spike had been pretty well-behaved, but Xander could feel the tension rising in the vampire beside him.
“Right, that’s it. Vin, move.” Xander shoved the glowering vampire out ahead of him. “JD, let’s go. Come on, Spike.”
“I’m not some bloody show poodle,” Xander cut the vamp off with a glare as Spike realised the one-eyed man was ushering them out to the alley at the back of the bar.
As the door closed behind the three of them Xander spoke to Spike. “Just do it. Hopefully, once it’s out of his system, we can all just lighten up and have a nice relaxing night out.” Xander faced the young agent.
“JD, yes, Spike is a vampire. No he’s not going to bite, turn or enthrall you. Yes, he looks normal right now, but this...,” Xander turned to Spike with an expectant look. Sighing, the vampire transformed into his ‘game face’. “Thank you, Spike. JD, this is what a vampire who’s about to feed looks like. Okay, are we done?”
JD spluttered for a moment, while Spike snarled at Xander. “Are we done? Bloody hell, mate, what’s the matter with you? You PMS’ing or something?”
JD’s snicker interrupted the glaring match the pair was having. “Thanks, Spike. Sorry I was staring.”
“No problems, kid. Let’s go get a drink before the Big White Chief here starts blubbering and demanding chocolate.” Spike grinned at the irate muttering coming from Xander.
Their return to the booth was met with knowing smiles. “Feeling better, Mr. Dunne?” Ezra asked with a smile as the young man slipped in opposite him this time.
“Have you seen it? It’s amazing! It’s like magic; Spike’s normal and then -- pow! -- he’s all ‘grrr’.” JD’s voice had dropped at the end as he realised the risk of being overheard.
“Sodding hell! Not you, too,” Spike groaned as he sat next to Ezra. Xander sat next to JD, and Vin resumed his seat at the end.
“What? What did I say?” JD looked to Xander.
“Spike prefers ‘game face’ to ‘grrr face’.” Xander chuckled. “Will coined the phrase for us Scoobies. You’ve just proved her point.”
“Ha ha. Yeah, let’s mock the person who can drain you dry in under a minute,” Spike growled.
“Is that a sign of prowess among your kind?” Ezra asked, ignoring the grimace Vin shot him. “Or is it more to do with the size of your overbite?”
Spike glowered at the obvious mocking, his expression darkening even further as he watched Vin slide $10 across the table.
“When will you learn, Mr. Tanner, there is little I won’t do for a profit?” Ezra said with a smile, as he neatly folded the bill before putting it in his wallet. Unfortunately, he missed the flare of challenge in the vampire’s eyes.
“JD!” Xander snapped. JD had switched his attention away from Spike and had now been staring at Xander for the last half hour -- and not subtly, either. Xander bit back a sigh. “What is it?”
“Xander…” JD hesitated, but the curiosity was burning him up. “Xander, did you blow up your High School?”
“Yes! Alright, yes. I built the explosives that destroyed Sunnydale High. It was that or a 100ft snake demon taking over the world. Happy now?” Xander was breathing a little heavily after his outburst but broke into laughter at the expression on JD’s face.
“That. Is. So. COOL!”
Spike smothered a grin as he felt the tension notch up another level in the man beside him as he launched into humming ‘The Gambler’ again for the sixth time in the last half hour.
“Will you stop that!” Ezra snapped, causing the others at the table to stare at his rare loss of composure. Vin shook his head in disappointment at the undercover agent.
Spike smirked before holding his hand out to Xander, encouraging him with a quick curl of his fingers. The one-eyed man hesitated before giving in. “Fine, but you know it’s unfair. You’re way ahead on the irritation front; most people only have to look at you…”
“Quit moaning and pay up.” Xander tossed $10 to the still grinning vampire. He turned to Vin with a raised eyebrow. Vin sighed.
“Ezra, you let me down.” Vin withdrew a $20 and passed it over to Xander.
“You bet against me!” Ezra huffed indignantly.
“I knew he’d crack you -- just thought you’d hold out a bit longer,” Xander said to his father apologetically. “I’ve known him a lot longer than you, Ezra. Spike would drive a monk to murder.” Xander paused. “Actually, didn’t you do that once?”
“Technically, the Scourge did that, but yeah, I helped.” Spike smiled at the memories. “Good times.”
There was some uncomfortable shifting at the table, while JD just stared with a look of dismay. Josiah broke the moment. “The Scourge?”
“Spike’s twisted family. His Grandsire’s a dick.” Spike snorted the whisky he was drinking. “What? It’s true,” Xander defended.
“You should know; he gave you your name, after all.” Spike talked over Xander’s attempted protest: “He stood up to ‘Daddy’ dearest at his murderous worst to protect the slayer. You know, if he ever gets out again, I don’t know if he’s going to fuck you, kill you, or turn you.”
Xander choked, before his face coloured. “Oh god, I knew introducing my past was a bad idea. I’m never gonna live this down.”
Buck growled as the sound of someone thumping his door continued. “Damn it, JD, don’t tell me you forgot your keys again.”
As he yanked the door open he was faced with a sheepish looking Xander with JD’s arm draped over his shoulder.
“Well, he might have his keys, but it seemed a little too personal digging for them.” Xander had contemplated trying to find the keys to let them in, but Spike had taken off with a smirk, pointing out he couldn’t help carry the boy across the threshold anyway.
“What the hell happened to him?” Buck frowned as he helped move JD to the couch. It was rare that JD got this drunk.
“Tried to keep up with Spike, I think. Or it might have been the ‘Fyarl Surprise’ cocktail Vin recommended. I lost track.” Xander rolled his shoulders now his burden had been released.
“What’s going on? The four of you have been thick as thieves, recently. Are you still mad at Chris?” Buck wanted answers. JD had been jittery lately, jumping at shadows.
Xander backed off, his hands up in supplication. “Whoa, I’m just the delivery boy. JD’s home safe and sound and my ride’s waiting, so I’m just gonna, you know, go.”
Xander had almost made it to the door before Buck had a chance to try and stop him leaving and at the last minute he was saved by Buck being distracted by a groan from JD. By the time Buck turned back around Xander was gone and the loft door clicked shut.
Giving it up as a lost cause for the night, Buck found the waste paper bin and placed it closer to JD. That necessity seen to, Buck couldn’t help throwing a last annoyed glare at the door. He was going to get to the bottom of this, and he knew Xander was the key.
And where the hell had the damned doormat gone!