"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Xander grumbled. He tugged at the very, very tight black jeans he'd spent several minutes struggling into.
Spike smirked. He liked the jeans just fine. They were so snug that he could have counted the change in Xander's pocket if, in fact, Xander could have fit any change in his pocket. The equally snug black tank shirt showed off Xander's mark, not to mention his muscles, to fine effect. Xander's newly-pierced left ear, miraculously healed seconds after piercing, now sported a tiny ruby stud as brilliant as a single perfect drop of blood.
His Consort made a truly toothsome picture.
"So tell me again why I'm done up like a rent boy," Xander said uncomfortably, pulling at the jeans again. "Especially when you say we're going to see someone."
"Multipurpose," he said. "First off, I'm about to establish your reputation as my Consort; that'll help protect you once word gets around Sunnyhell. Second, I'm going to kill any rumors about me and that bloody chip and remind a few people who's the Big Bad around these parts. Third, I'm gonna maybe maybe take some of the heat off your friends tomorrow night when our witches do their spell. Fourth, I might be able to pick up a few tidbits of information about this Ravyadha git and where he might be. And fifth, I'm gonna fence some of our loot."
"Wow." Xander swallowed. "That's multipurpose, all right. And, um, still doesn't explain why the rent boy getup."
"'Cause I'm gonna show you off," he said simply. Then, more seriously, "Listen, Pet. Whatever happens, you just play along with me, all right? Things may get a bit, hmmmm, intense, but trust me, right?"
Xander shivered, but he nodded.
"You know I do," he said. "So . . . where are we going?"
"Told Weckman we'd meet 'em at that crypt," Spike said. "The one where I found you that first night. Would've been easier to have 'em here, looked better, too, but then I'd have had to have the witches do the uninvite thing after and I didn't like explaining why. Anyway, just as well not to let the likes of Weckman and his people have a look at our place. C'mon, we'll take the bike."
The heavy cases fit neatly into the saddlebags; hearing the growl of the motorcycle, Xander's firm heat pressed against Spike's back, oh, yeah, he was the Big Bad again, wasn't he? King of Sunnyhell, whatever the Slayer thought, and he was going to have a good time setting a few people straight on the issue, wasn't he? Cool wind in his hair, warm arms firmly around his waist, yes, life was mighty fine.
That was the great thing about the motorcycle he could just drive it on up to the crypt, have it close by in case there was any kind of set-to and he and his Consort had to make an undignifiedly hasty retreat. Besides, no point in carrying the goodies any further than they had to. Prolonged strolls through the cemetery were nice when Spike was hungry for mindless violence or fresh rations, but tonight he had other business.
He shut off the bike, sniffed the air and listened, grinning. Oh, yes, Weckman had been listening to the rumors, hadn't he? He'd surrounded himself with human toadies, hired muscle or renfields or both, figured he'd have Spike dead to rights.
This was going to be too much fun.
"Grab the bags, there's a good pet," Spike said offhandedly, sliding off the bike and striding purposefully to the crypt door. Xander hesitated for just a fraction of a second, then pulled the cases out of the saddlebags and followed.
Weckman wasn't inside; Spike had known the other vampire would want to make him wait, want to push the envelope. Weckman was nearby, watching to see what Spike would do. All part of the game. And Spike was going to enjoy showing Weckman who the top player really was. Still and all, gave Spike time to set up things how he liked them.
He checked his exits, checked the weapons he'd concealed at strategic locations. He pushed the two bags behind a stone bench and sat down; when Xander would have sat down beside him, however, Spike shook his head, pointing to the floor at his feet.
"You gotta be kidding!" Xander protested.
"Not a bit of it, Pet," Spike said. He pulled Xander in for a brief hot kiss, just hard enough and long enough to leave his Consort flushed and swollen-lipped. "Remember what I said. Trust me. Everything's for a reason."
Xander shivered and sat down on the floor.
"All right, but you so owe me," Xander grumbled.
Spike wound his fingers into Xander's hair, wrenched his head back and stole another hot kiss.
"Tonight," he promised. "See if I don't make it worth your while." He licked a wet trail up the side of Xander's throat, then whispered in his ear. "Think we'll trot out those leather cuffs and get up to no good with 'em." He released Xander abruptly, smiling at the glazed expression in his Consort's eyes.
Xander swallowed heavily, shivered.
"Uh, okay, guess I can do the rent boy routine for a little while," he said hoarsely.
"Good, 'cause here come the other players," Spike murmured. He pulled Xander over slightly so the young man was leaning against his leg as the crypt door opened.
Weckman wasn't so much to look at as a vampire; he could have passed for a pale, long-haired Anthony Perkins. He'd been an accountant in life, and he looked it. His retinue was a mixed bag a couple of fledgling vampires, two Kayorn demons, a fellow who looked like he might be half ogre, and a handful of humans. Large retinue for a vampire who didn't even qualify as a master vampire yet. Of course, Weckman was making a statement. See all my followers. I command respect. What've you got to show for yourself?
"Master Spike," Weckman said smoothly. "It's good to see you again. You're looking well." That last was said with the faintest hint of surprise, which Spike readily understood. If Spike was living off animal blood and the like, he should look like shit.
"You're late," Spike said without preamble; he'd never been one for pleasantries. He pulled Xander's wrist up and consulted his watch. "Five minutes, actually."
"I beg your pardon," Weckman said calmly, although Spike saw a flash of irritation in his eyes. "The cemetery's not as safe as it once was. The Slayer has become a rather frequent and annoying presence . . . as I'm sure you know." He glanced at Xander and frowned. "Isn't that one of her hangers-on?"
Spike smiled politely.
"Is, ainnit?" he said. He ran his fingers through Xander's hair. "Pet, take the bags over, will you?"
He had to give Xander credit; the boy never hesitated, just stood, picked up the bags and walked over, setting them down at Weckman's feet. This time Weckman didn't conceal his surprise, followed rapidly by unease.
"You've marked him," Weckman muttered, apparently forgetting the bags at his feet. "And I can smell Angelus on him as well." There was a good deal less certainty in his expression as he looked back at Spike. "I'd had word that you'd taken a Consort, but then . . . "
As soon as Xander straightened, one of the human men snorted and smacked him on the bottom.
"Pretty little piece, isn't he?" he smirked.
Outraged, Xander glanced at Spike; ever so slightly Spike shook his head. Xander glowered for just an instant, pasted his calm face back on and walked back over to Spike.
"But then you can't put too much stock in rumors, can you?" Spike purred. When Xander was close enough, he grabbed the boy's hand, pulled him down to the bench beside Spike, but half across Spike's lap. Spike leaned down and licked a long trail up the side of Xander's throat, smiling as his Consort shivered.
"Nasty thing, rumors," Spike continued. "Why, if you listened to rumors, you might think Angelus and I were on the outs. You might think some military gits had stuck hardware in my head. You might even think " Spike nuzzled Xander's throat, then abruptly bit down, taking just a brief wonderful taste of Xander's blood before he withdrew. " that I couldn't hurt humans," he finished, licking his lips.
Weckman wore a rather sickly expression now; he glanced at his retinue uneasily. The humans in the group looked more nervous than the vampire, particularly the one who'd smacked Xander's ass.
"But rumor also has it that you've allied yourself with the Slayer," Weckman pointed out. "My own minions have seen you helping her. You've even killed a few of them," he added, rather sourly.
"So?" he said indifferently. "Weren't my minions, were they?" He smiled, his nastiest smile. "And you think I've been helping the Slayer?"
"You've been seen," Weckman repeated, less confidently now. "Seen working with the Slayer. You certainly haven't killed her."
"That's why you've got far to go before you become a master vampire," he said tolerantly. "Haven't learned to think around corners." He stroked Xander's chest, teasing his nipples erect through the tank shirt, then pinching one sharply. Xander gasped but held still. He was trembling, not to mention hard as a rock.
"I've done something no vampire ever has," Spike said. "I've got the Slayer herself working for me. Of course she thinks I'm helping her; that's the beauty of it. Oh, yeah, poor little helpless Spike, at least he's useful. He can point the Slayer to this nest of revenants, that pack of ghouls, this werewolf lair, that vampire safe house . . . and all the while, the Slayer is cleaning up this town for me, getting rid of the riffraff . . . or whoever else I like," Spike said, gazing pointedly at Weckman. "All I have to do is point the finger. Name me another vampire who's ever managed to keep a Slayer as his own pet enforcer, and get a Watcher and two powerful witches in the bargain, too. Why should I kill her or any of 'em? Arrangement suits me just fine. Slayer does the work of a whole pack of minions, and she don't need looking out for. When I don't have a use for her anymore, then we'll see. In the meantime, not only does the Slayer leave me alone, she's working for me, and she doesn't even know it. And she's done me the service of providing me the sweetest Consort any vampire's ever tasted."
"Now, you want to keep on with the history lesson, or you want to do the business we both come here for?"
Weckman looked truly sick now.
"Ah yes, of course, Master Spike." He glanced at one of his human retinue impatiently. The fellow hurriedly opened the bags, exposing the contents. There were several loud gasps, mostly from the humans nightsiders were rarely impressed by money but even Weckman looked startled.
"Plenty more where that come from," Spike said negligently. "Here's how it goes. Want all this crap liquidated there's no rush, so get the best rate you can and after your commission, the rest goes between three accounts." He held out a slip of paper; when a human lackey started to come forward, Spike bared his teeth. Reluctantly, Weckman took the paper himself.
"Ten percent each to the Sunnydale and London accounts," Spike said. "The rest to a Swiss account you'll set up for me, held jointly by William Barstow and Xander Harris. Once I've seen what a job you do with this lot, I'll bring more."
Weckman tucked the paper into a pocket inside of his vest.
"That will pose no difficulty, Master Spike," he said smoothly. "My commission, of course, is twenty-five percent, so after "
"Fifteen," Spike said coldly.
Weckman blinked. Swallowed.
"Well, Master Spike, for you of course, I think twenty "
"Twelve," Spike said.
"Or perhaps even eighteen "
"Ten." In a lightninglike move, Spike threw the stake he'd concealed beneath the edge of his duster, striking the Kayorn demon standing next to Weckman in its only vulnerable spot the small breathing hole between its eyes. The Kayorn dropped without so much as a twitch.
"Ten," Weckman agreed.
"And as long as you do good work for me, the Slayer won't hear about that cushy little lair you've got under the courthouse," Spike said smoothly. "Or your emergency bolt-hole down by the docks. And I'll throw in a bonus might want to pull your people out of the cemetery tomorrow night, the Slayer and her lot will be patrolling there, and Summers is in a dusting mood. Must be that PMS thing."
Weckman looked slightly taken aback, but slightly less flustered.
"Thank you, Master Spike. I'll put the word out."
"I'd keep it to your own people," Spike shrugged. "Slayer doesn't find anything to kill in the cemetery, she's likely to change plans and go looking elsewhere. And you can expect lots more patrols, more raids for a while. Slayer's got the blood hunger for some rakshasa git named Ravyadha, so till she gets 'im, it's hard fucking times for all the nightsiders in Sunnydale."
Weckman briefly flashed his game face.
"I've heard some mention of such an entity," he said. "The portals he's opening and what comes through them are ruining the hunting in Sunnydale. Chasing off the food, or eating it themselves. Not to mention, of course, drawing Slayer attention."
"Inconvenient, ainnit?" Spike commiserated.
"Indeed." Weckman snapped his fingers, and one of his fledglings picked up the bags. "I'll get to work on this immediately, Master Spike."
"Not just yet," Spike said. "Bit more accounting to do."
Instantly he was beside Weckman, a stake pressed against the younger vampire's heart. Weckman froze.
"Just hold this for me, will you, Pet?" he said casually.
Xander swallowed hard, moving around behind Weckman and getting the vampire in a sturdy headlock so that if he tried to get loose, he'd most likely impale himself on the stake pressed tight in Xander's other hand.
"Uh . . . got him," Xander said.
"Master Spike, this is an outrage . . . " Weckman croaked. His retinue stood similarly frozen, glancing confusedly from Weckman to Spike.
Spike grabbed Weckman's right hand and nonchalantly broke his pinkie finger, then his ring finger, smiling as the vampire screamed. Weckman's fledglings stood poised . . . but the stake . . .
"Five minutes late," he said, breaking Weckman's middle finger. "Not very professional, is it?" Two more snaps and he broke the last two fingers on the younger vampire's right hand. "Might try to be a bit more punctual in the future."
"Yes, Master Spike," Weckman croaked.
"And as for your choice of retinue." Lightning fast, Spike seized one of the humans, the one who had smacked Xander, and wrenched his arm around violently, breaking wrist and elbow and dislocating the shoulder. The man shrieked, then passed out.
"Really got to watch who you hire," Spike said conversationally, dropping the unconscious man. "Too much riffraff still hereabouts. Oh, and one more thing."
He grabbed another of the humans, squeezing the man's right hand in his own until the bones mashed to a pulp. He reached inside the screaming man's jacket, withdrawing a ruby bracelet.
"I don't tolerate being cheated," Spike said. He casually pushed the human into the wall hard enough to knock him unconscious, then tucked the bracelet into Weckman's vest pocket. "See to that, won't you?"
"Yes, Master Spike," Weckman rasped.
Spike pulled one of the mini-crossbows from its hiding place by the fireplace and sat back down on the bench, training the crossbow on Weckman.
"Let him go, Pet," he said.
This was the dangerous moment. If the fledglings had been any older or cannier, or if Weckman didn't have five broken fingers to contend with, Spike wouldn't have taken the chance of one of them grabbing Xander to use as a shield. Xander knew, too the instant he took the stake away from Weckman's heart, he dropped and rolled out of the field of fire, coming up well away from the others. He walked more casually to Spike and resumed his place at Spike's feet, but Spike could feel him trembling.
"Now get out of here," Spike said.
Weckman and his retinue . . . got.
When Weckman was gone, Spike sighed and pulled Xander back up to the bench beside him.
"What's the matter?" Xander asked. He absently wiped away a trace of blood that had dribbled down his throat; then, without thinking, he licked his fingers. "I thought that went pretty well, didn't it? I mean, I suppose, in relative vampire terms, although you kind of took me by surprise with the finger-breaking stuff, and, yeah, it got kind of tense, but, I mean, goals were pretty much accomplished, right? Consort- establishing, reputation-restoring, gold-fencing, cemetery-clearing . . . pretty much all boxes checked, right?"
"Yeah, but I hoped for more about this Tiger in Red," Spike admitted.
"Weckman seemed pretty put out about him," Xander said puzzledly. "So what's bad?"
"He's put out, all right," Spike said wryly. "But just the fact that he's that hot about it and didn't give me anything not a hint, even a rumor either means he doesn't know nothing to tell, or that he's more scared of this Ravyadha than he is desperate to have 'im gone."
"Oh." Xander sighed. "So . . . what happens now? With Weckman, I mean."
"Oh, he sets up the account the way I like it," Spike shrugged. "He sells off the goods, then fudges the books a bit to see if he can get away with skimming a little more for himself. I call him on it and dust a couple of his more prized fledglings, and after that, why, we're home free."
Xander wrinkled his nose.
"What about all those humans he had working for him?"
"I'll wager most of 'em are dead within the hour, or turned," he said. "Now that Weckman knows humans aren't any special protection for 'im, he's got no use for 'em, apart from a renfield or two even as brand- new minions, they'll be stronger and faster and more useful. It's those demons, though, that worry me."
"Why?" Xander frowned. "You killed the one easily enough."
Spike rolled his eyes.
"'Cause I got the drop on it," he said. "Nothing easy about killing a Kayorn. Not the point, though. A vampire working with Kayorn demons? That's new, and new's not good. Alliances like that come along when there's a threat big enough to necessitate 'em. In the years since Buffy came to Sunnydale, there's only been a couple real temporary alliances like that. So what's that tell you, eh?"
"That vampires and demons think this Ravyadha is a whole lot more dangerous than the Slayer," he said.
"Got it in one," Spike said. He shrugged, patting Xander's knee. "Don't take on, though. The vampires hereabouts thought the same of their whelp of an Anointed One, and Dru and I got him out of the way quick and easy enough. Everybody thought that Mayor of yours was gonna end up on top of the world, too. Hell, most of 'em run just as scared when Angelus was around, and you lot handled him. At least we already know how to kill this Ravyadha git, which is more'n you know most times about some new demon or such that shows up. Right?"
"Uh, right." Xander looked marginally less worried. "So . . . why didn't you want Weckman to warn everybody away from the cemetery, not just his own vampires?"
"Pet, it'll get 'round to everybody. Weckman'll tell everybody except a few he'd like to see get the stake. That other Kayorn demon'll tell a bunch of others just to spite me for offing his buddy. That half-ogre'll probably spill it to anybody the others forgot. But it would've made 'em suspicious if it looked like I gave a damn about any of 'em and I don't, truth is, but it's handier to have 'em out of the way, and this was the easy way to do it."
Xander grinned slowly.
"Man, that's sharp," he said. "So, then, there won't be anybody in the cemetery "
"'Cept whatever comes out of one of those portals," Spike agreed. "And seeing as we want to catch one of those anyway, that works out just fine. See, Pet, might as well get some use out of those wankers like Weckman. Only good thing about 'em is most of Sunnydale's residents have more or less worked out their territories, they don't like newcomers busting in on their turf and their prey. So whether or not they'll give us anything on this Ravyadha, they got no loyalty to anything that comes portal-hopping through from one of the nether planes." He shrugged. "Better'n nothing."
"A lot better." Xander frowned darkly. "Buffy doesn't know just how much she owes you."
"I'm not doing it for Buffy," Spike said, rather more sharply than he'd intended.
Xander laid his hand on Spike's arm, and the warm brown eyes gazed at Spike apologetically.
"I know," Xander said softly. "I know why you're doing it, okay? And I do appreciate it. And when we get back home, I'm going to do my best to show you just how much."
"Oh, yeah?" Spike grabbed Xander and pulled him down again, across Spike's lap. "What if I don't feel like waiting?"
"Then . . . could you at least close the door?" he whispered. "And if we're going to do anything that needs lube, I sure hope you brought some, 'cause I couldn't have fit a postage stamp in these pockets. These jeans are about to do me, like, permanent injury."
Spike considered. He had lube, in fact, in his duster pocket; having a Consort like his Xander made spontaneity its own reward. And there was a lot to be said for immediate gratification. On the other hand, stone floors and musty crypts were no novelty for him; he'd more or less had his fill of them over the decades, in fact. Hell, fucking on a soft bed with clean sheets, a nice warm bath after, and a comfy snuggle with a sated, sweaty Xander were the real novelties to Spike.
Turning into a fucking romantic nancy boy, Spike thought, but not without a hint of amusement. Next you know, I'll be poncing around like Angel, getting all moral and broody.
He shivered. That thought demanded immediate preventative measures.
"C'mon, Pet," he said, bending his head down to lick delicately at the puncture wounds on Xander's neck. "I think we'll take this home. Think I'll have out the camera, seeing as you look so juicy like that."
Xander swallowed, shivering again.
"Oh, yeah?" he said weakly.
"Oh, yeah," Spike purred. "Think I'm gonna cuff you to the bed and cut those clothes off you, bit by bit. With that special knife you bought."
Xander swallowed again. The smell of his arousal filled the crypt.
"And get lots of pictures while I'm doing it," Spike chuckled. "Ought to get one of those movie machines, camcorders, and make our very own porn, eh?"
"Ug," Xander whimpered.
"And then guess what I'm going to do, when I've got you all naked?" Spike purred. "Going to take that knife and cut you, Pet, just a little, here and there. Tiny little cuts, little tastes of your blood. Then you know what I'm gonna do?"
Xander shook his head, apparently beyond vocalization at all now.
"Then I'm gonna lick you," Spike whispered in Xander's ear. "Lick you alllllllllll over."
Xander shivered violently, and for a moment Spike thought he'd come in his jeans which would've been a pity; Spike had a fancy for making the whelp ride home behind him, hot hard cock trapped in those tight jeans and rubbing against Spike all the way home. But Xander didn't come, just buried his face in Spike's chest, breathing in little aroused gasps.
"Think you'd fancy that?" Spike said casually, grinning widely.
Xander raised his head, his eyes dilated almost completely with arousal.
"Is that, like, a trick question?" he croaked.
Then he damn near wrenched Spike's arm out of its socket dragging him back to the motorcycle at nearly vampiric speed.
Yeah, who's the Big Bad? Spike thought, the motorcycle growling between his legs, night wind in his hair, his Consort's hot body pressed against his back, warm hands dipping teasingly low as Spike navigated the streets of Sunnydale. One of Weckman's fledglings, probably left to keep an eye on Spike, scuttled hurriedly out of the way, fear in his eyes. King of Sunnydale, hell!
King of the world, more like.