Disclaimer and Author's Notes: All things "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and (unfortunately) 20th Century Fox. "Power Rangers Lost Galaxy" belongs to Saban Inc. No profit, no permission, no lawyers. This is Bloodlines #3, following "New Blood" in the series. It's very short, and rather pointless.
I did mention I had a "Christmas fic" in this series that dug in its heels and refused to cooperate for years. What I forgot about was this little interlude written in 2001, a largely plotless little bit that fills in a hole and gives me another opportunity to torture Mike.
This particular short occurs during the BtVS episode "Lover's Walk" and was spawned from my intense desire to have Spike appear somehow. Rated PG for a bit of language.
by Amanda Ohlin
At least the band wasn't half bad.
Mike Corbett stifled a yawn as he counted out the change and shut the cash register, passing over a beer and a glass to a patron who'd actually produced a valid I.D. He blinked and forced himself to maintain the illusion of staying awake. As tired as he was, sleep was not an option. Not with the nightmares that had been driving him up the wall. It made him wonder just what, if anything, the Defender had managed to transfer before Giles had banished the spirit from Sunnydale.
But now wasn't the time to dwell on that. Right now, he was simply focusing on the fact that the night was almost over, and the majority of the patrons were gone. It was relatively quiet now, but it hadn't been an hour ago. The night from hell was winding down, and he just wished it would end.
That blonde friend of Cordelia's - Harmony, that was her name - had spent half the night trying to hit on him. A couple of underage kids went and complained to the manager when Mike didn't serve them alcohol. Nick had been jostled by a couple of drunks and dropped an entire tub of dirty glasses. And Tina, much to the frustration of patrons, had been consistently messing up drink orders all night. It had reached the point where Harry, the manager, had stepped out for a moment, ostensibly to run a last-minute errand. He'd been gone for two hours now.
Consequently, everyone was complaining to him. A couple of jocks had actually gone and threatened to hurt him; Tina had managed to distract them with shameless flirting, something she excelled at. If she hadn't intervened, Mike probably would have thrown the first punch himself.
Turning away for a moment, Mike poured himself a mug of coffee and took a long drink, not even bothering with the creamer. He had faced lousy days on duty in the GSA, and they had never made him this frustrated. And those were days he'd been shot at, nearly blown up, and fallen to his apparent death. The sad thing was that for the Bronze, this was actually a slow night. Harry had to hire some more help.
"Could I get some service sometime tonight?" a voice with a British accent slurred.
Mike set the mug down before he could break it and turned to face the newest assailant. The man slumped on the bar stool looked like a Billy Idol wanna-be, with bleached blond hair and a black leather jacket. He was also obviously smashed. "What can I do for you, pal?"
"The name's Spike. Forget the 'pal' bullshit."
"All right," Mike muttered. No point in arguing with an angry drunk. "What do you want?"
"Shot of whiskey," Spike murmured, putting his head down on the bar. "Forget the shot, just give me the whole bottle while you're at it."
So much for getting a break. "I.D."
The Brit looked up, glaring straight at Mike - and his face shifted, revealing yellow eyes and fangs. "Here's my I.D."
Mike's hand flew to the stake in his back pocket, but the vampire moved faster, lunging forward and grabbing him by the collar. No one noticed the attack. "Look, you little pissant," Spike hissed, "either I drink whiskey, or I drink you."
Normally, having a vampire's fangs inches from his neck would have terrified Mike. But this was just another chapter of the night from hell, and fatigue and frustration overrided natural instincts and common sense. "You couldn't just have gone to Willy's."
Spike shrugged. "He's out of whiskey."
"Hey!" Both human and vampire - who abruptly shifted back to his human face - turned to see Harmony standing there, holding a mug. "Could you tell the idiot who waits tables that I wanted a cappucino? Not a hot chocolate. Is that so hard?"
After a moment of consideration, Spike released his intended victim and sat back on the stool, ostensibly to watch the fun. "Well, yeah, it is," Mike replied, "considering the cappucino maker's broken."
"And just how was I supposed to know that?"
For answer, Mike pointed to the clearly visible sign that Nick had taped up over the bar. In big red letters that could be seen from ten miles away were the words:
CAPPUCINO MAKER IS BROKEN. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
"Yeah, whatever." She turned her attention to the vampire, who was looking her up and down appraisingly. "What are you looking at?"
"Nothing," Spike answered, continuing to fix Harmony with his stare. After a second, she shuddered, turned and stalked off. Spike turned back to the bar. "Now where was I?"
Mike sighed as the source of the insult stormed up to the bar and crashed down on a stool. "You always talk to yourself, Nate?"
The jock blinked and took a second to figure that out, then gave up. "Why don't you do your damn job and give us what we ordered?" The table full of Sunnydale football players had ordered Molson's all around, and since Harry had been watching him like a hawk, Mike had refused. Why they were pushing the issue a third time was beyond him.
"We've been over this. Twice. I'd like to keep this job."
"God only knows why," Spike muttered, rolling his eyes.
Nate leaned forward. "Look, I don't see the manager anywhere. So I don't see what's stopping you from passing out the beers and keeping me from kicking your ass."
"Alcohol kills brain cells," Mike told him. "And seeing how few you have left, I don't think you could finish off one beer."
Even that didn't seem to get through to him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Spike had just about had it. He lashed out with one foot, kicking the bar stool out from under Nate and backhanding the jock to the floor without even getting up from his seat. "It means bugger off!"
Terrified, Nate backed away on his hands and knees before scrambling to his feet and retreating back to his table. A general murmur passed through the crowd before everyone went back to what they were doing. No one made a move to approach the bar.
Mike stood there for a moment, watching Nate's retreat. After a second's hesitation, he pulled the bottle of whiskey from the shelf and set it in front of the vampire without a word.
"Finally." Spike uncorked the bottle and took a swig, looking at the bartender with curiosity. "Don't remember seeing you around here. Last guy get knocked off?"
"Probably," Mike replied, picking up his coffee mug again. He took a step to the side, making sure there was plenty of distance between them, and surreptitiously pulled the stake out of his back pocket.
Spike noticed his behavior and snorted. "Please. If I was going to bite you I'd have done it already." He got to his feet and snatched up the whiskey bottle, glancing around at the small crowd in the Bronze. "Besides, I'd just be putting you out of your misery."
He cast a scornful look around at the patrons, smirked and strode towards the back, bottle in hand. Mike remained locked in place, gripping the stake tightly. Spike paused at the back door to take a swig of whiskey before shoving someone aside and stumbling out into the alley. The door slammed shut behind him.
Mike sagged against the bar in relief, letting the stake slide from nerveless fingers. He was unbelievably grateful to have survived that encounter. Harry wouldn't be happy when the bottle didn't turn up on inventory, but that didn't seem so daunting at the moment.
But he couldn't shake the feeling that he hadn't exactly done the best possible thing. Not that he could think of any options, but the doubt still nagged at him.
* * *
The sound nibbled at the edges of Mike's consciouness, slowly but deliberately eroding the heavy blanket of sleep. Mike stirred, vainly trying to burrow deeper into slumber, trying to bring back the now-hazy dream image of a certain brown-haired girl. He only succeeded in burying his face deeper in the pillow and getting himself tangled up in the sheets. The incoherent babble of voices continued to penetrate, despite his attempts to ignore it. Generally, he was a light sleeper, and if something roused him slightly, he had to wake up completely in order to go back to sleep.
He finally gave up the battle and stuck his head up from the couch, blinking sleepily as the unintelligible noise sharpened into the sound of conversation. Giles' door was wide open, but that was only because Giles was half in and half out of the apartment, lugging heavy packs of equipment and trying to listen to Buffy and Xander at the same time.
He somehow managed to stumble inside, equally helped and hindered by the two teenagers. It belatedly occurred to Mike that lending a hand might be appropriate, but he was still too dazed to do much more than sit there and stare incomprehensibly at the sight that greeted him.
Giles, at least, had the presence of mind to look up and notice his half-conscious tenant as he finally dropped the heavy bundle he was carrying to the floor. "Good morning."
Mike made a noncommittal noise before his face plowed into the pillow again.
"Wow," Xander muttered. "Guess he had a lousy night too."
"...and now Oz isn't talking to Will, the Buffster's in a funk and Cordelia's in the hospital," Xander finished. "So ends the story of why Xander Harris is currently the lowest form of life on this planet."
"Even in your case, I wouldn't go quite that far," Giles told him. The Watcher was more than a little frazzled; the retreat had been anything but relaxing, and to discover the chaos that had erupted during his absence was not helping his mood one bit. "But Cordelia will be all right, I hope?"
Xander nodded. "Yeah. The doctors say she'll heal up, at which point she'll probably find a sharp object and come after me with it. Can't really blame her."
Mike was sitting there in silence, staring blankly at a point on the wall beside the clock as he absorbed the information. "So what happened to this Spike?" he finally managed.
"He's headed for Brazil, or someplace out of the country," Buffy muttered bitterly. "Decided after all that to just go get her back without a spell."
"I do hope so," Giles commented. "We have enough problems to deal with without Spike - an inebriated Spike, no less - adding to the complications."
"Just goes to show you why vampires shouldn't drink," Xander replied.
Buffy scowled. "Makes me want to go beat some sense into Willy. Spike is enough trouble sober; what moron would give him alcohol on top of that?" Mike leaned back, trying to burrow deeper into the chair.
Giles smiled slightly at that. "It's tempting, I'll admit." He turned back to Mike. "So what was that incident you were telling me about?"
Mike very nearly dropped the mug of coffee he was holding. "What incident?"
"The - the one at the Bronze. You did mention something about an incident at the Bronze the other night?"
"I, uh--" Mike hesitated. "Drunk attacked me. Harry was out, they still don't have a bouncer, and I kind of had to bribe him with a free bottle to get him to leave without hurting anyone." Well, it wasn't a complete lie. But it still left a bad taste in his mouth.
Here he had been, thinking that things couldn't get any worse. He'd even considered telling Giles about the nightmares, but there wasn't much chance of that happening now. Not with the rest of the Scooby Gang in need of therapy. And he suspected that a large part of it had to do with a bleached-blond vampire getting a hold of a fresh supply of whiskey.
Giles decided to get started unpacking, and Buffy went to help, leaving Xander and Mike sitting in the living room. "I wouldn't sweat it," Xander told Mike, perplexed at the stricken expression on the other's face.
"You weren't there." Mike set down the coffee cup and went over to the desk where Giles had dumped his satchel of reading material. "Harry would have seriously kicked my ass if he knew."
"Sounds like the booze hound might have kicked your ass anyway. One bottle, no big deal."
Mike sighed, his attention focused on clearing off the books and putting them away. "Yeah, I guess."
"Besides," Xander continued, "it's not like you went and got your friends to endanger their lives."
The only reply he got was a series of thuds as Mike slowly pounded his head on the desk. Xander stared at him, confused.
"What? What'd I say?"