"Oh, God, no," Angel said, falling to his knees beside Xander. "Buffy, what have you done?"
"I heard Willow," Buffy said, still crying. "She said it was hydra venom – there’s no cure, I couldn’t let him suffer like that – "
"I’ll tell you what you’ve done, you bloody stupid bint," Spike roared, pushing Angel and Buffy out of the way. "You’ve just probably fucking turned him!"
"What?" Buffy shook her head uncomprehendingly, eyes wide.
"He’s Spike’s Consort," Willow babbled. "Spike just gave him a whole lot of his blood to cure the poison, oh, God, he’ll turn – Tara, get the orb, we’ve got to start the spell – "
"Orb? Spell?" Buffy demanded. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Spike ignored them all, bending down over Xander. He could still hear the faint thrum of Xander’s heart. He’d had a good quantity of vampire blood today, and his body was fighting valiantly to hang on.
Immediately Spike bit into his wrist again, pressing the wound to Xander’s mouth.
"Hang on, luv, please," he begged, not caring who heard him. "Drink up, luv, I need you to drink, need you to live . . . "
"Oh, God, no," Spike heard, and glanced up. Willow was staring into her bag.
"What?" Spike snapped impatiently. "Get your spell going, Red, stick his soul on tight, I could lose him here!"
Willow looked up, her eyes wide, her face gone dead white.
"It’s broken," she whispered. "The orb, it’s broken. It must have happened during one of the fights – I didn’t even know – "
Spike fought down terror, despair. He could lose his Xander, lose him forever.
"You’re not staking him," he said desperately. "I don’t care, you’re not – "
"There’s no need," Angel said quickly. "We’ve got another orb. Wesley brought it." He clasped Spike’s shoulder. "Just in case. And we’ll all pray it’s not needed."
Spike let out an unneeded breath of relief, closing his eyes. He was getting weak, dizzy – he’d already given Xander so much blood. Soon he’d have no more to give, and Xander’s heartbeat was still weak and thready.
Then he smelled blood and opened his eyes, gaping as Angel offered his bleeding wrist.
"Hang on, Will," Angel said softly. "We’ll save him."
Spike drank, gratefully, shuddering as the power of his Sire’s blood flowed through him and into Xander. But Angel was weak from poor feeding and from battle, and Spike could already feel the flow slowing, far too soon. Reluctantly, he released Angel’s wrist.
"Willow, what are you doing?" he heard Buffy gasp, and Spike stared at the wrist dripping hot mortal blood, thrust in his face.
"Save him," Willow begged, pushing her wrist against his mouth. "Please save him."
Spike fought for self-control – he knew Willow couldn’t spare much, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Tara picking up the knife Willow had dropped, cutting carefully into the fatty part of her forearm. On the other side of Xander, Giles was similarly using his pocketknife; after a brief glance at Angel, Wesley was unwinding the hasty bandage he’d applied to a slash on his hand.
"I can’t believe this!" Buffy shouted. "Are you all crazy? What the hell do you think you’re doing?"
Angel gave her an impatient glare.
"Hopefully we’re saving Xander’s life," he said icily. "What about you? Or is killing and hurting all you’re good for?"
Spike ignored them. One after another, fighting for control, he drank as deeply as he dared, then forced himself to stop, knowing that Xander would never forgive him if he saved Xander’s life at the cost of one of his friends. He could hear that Xander’s heartbeat was a little stronger now, a little more steady . . . but it was also slowing.
Fuck, no, he’s turning –
Then another bleeding arm was thrust in front of him, and Spike blinked disbelievingly up at Buffy.
"Slayer blood," Buffy said impatiently. "And you’d better hope that does the trick, because if I have to stake him, you’re next."
Spike had tasted Slayer blood before – of course, he’d killed two Slayers in his time – but never freely given, never offered by a Slayer who’d lived long enough to amass such power. It burned through Spike like sunlight, like holy water, and he bore that burning as long as he could before pulling away, reluctantly withdrawing his wrist from Xander’s mouth.
"If that don’t do it, nothing will," Spike murmured, all his senses trained on that still-slowing heartbeat. "Be ready, Red, I don’t know . . . "
Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.
Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub.
Lub. Dub. Lub. Dub.
Then Xander wheezed in a breath. Another. Another. Slowly, slowly, color washed back into his cheeks. Another breath. Another. Still so slow, his heartbeat was steadying, settling into a rhythm.
Xander moaned softly. It was the most wonderful sound Spike had ever heard in his life.
"He’s going to make it," Spike whispered, feeling cold tears tracking down his cheeks and not caring. "He’s changed some, all that blood, no wonder, but he’s going to make it. I can’t believe he’s going to make it."
Angel’s arm slid around his shoulder, and Spike turned, burying his face in Angel’s chest, permitting himself that one moment of weakness, letting Angel be his strength for just that instant before Spike must be strong again for Xander. Healing notwithstanding, Xander had a long recovery before him.
Spike straightened hastily, realizing Buffy must have seen his weakness, but the Slayer was still staring at Xander, worry and guilt warring in her expression.
"Will he be all right?" she asked, looking at Angel. "He’s different, I can feel it . . . I mean, I can feel him, like I’d feel a demon or a – " She glanced at Spike.
"He’ll be all right," Angel told her firmly. "He’s changed, yes. That quantity of blood from a Master vampire – of course it has to change him." He took Buffy’s hand and pressed it firmly to Xander’s chest. "Feel his heart beating. He’s still alive. He still has his soul. It’s still Xander, Buffy."
"But it’s so slow," Buffy said softly.
"It’s beating, that’s what matters," Giles said quietly. "Although I don’t know why. It shouldn’t have worked, you know. Even as Spike’s . . . Consort, even being accustomed to Spike’s blood . . . he should have turned. I don’t know why he didn’t."
"I may have some idea," Wesley said, just as quietly, lifting Xander’s left hand. "Can anyone tell me how in the world he came by a Frisian bonding ring?"
Spike glanced at the ring on Xander’s finger, had a brief mental debate with himself, then decided.
"It was in a bit of treasure we found," he said. "In Dorissant’s tomb, in fact."
He expected outrage, protests that he’d found treasure and kept it for himself, remonstrations for not telling the others. He didn’t expect Wesley Wyndham-Price, ex-Watcher, damn good demon fighter, to all but collapse in hysterical laughter.
"I don’t think this is very funny," Willow protested weakly. She was pale, and Spike suspected he’d drunk a bit too much from her.
"Sorry, sorry," Wesley gasped. "It’s just – " He hesitated. "I need to look up a few things, but we really should get out of here, you know. Something might come back, after all."
Well, that made sense. They rigged up a sort of stretcher for Xander, transferring him carefully after bracing his head and neck. Judging from the aromas Spike had smelled earlier, he knew they were somewhere under, or at least near, the Hong Kong Noodle House, so somewhere there must be a tunnel or stairway leading out.
Reluctantly he let the others carry Xander; he had one last errand to do himself. He wrapped Leng Chi’s body and head in a rug and slung it over his shoulder, following the others out one of the doors. They wound through corridors and up stairs, and suddenly Spike smelled the aroma of incense and recognized where he was.
"You take Xander on up," he told Angel. "Up two more flights of stairs, then a door on the right, that takes you out the back of the noodle shop. I’ll be along straight away."
He opened the door. The room was the same as the last time he’d seen it, with the translucent curtain still dividing the room. Incense burned in the corners.
"Have you brought him?" a voice asked quietly, and Spike nodded at Leng Mei’s silhouette behind the curtain. He saw the changes in her profile and understood.
"He’s here," Spike said briefly, dropping the body to the floor. "It was quick, if that matters."
A brief pause; then Leng Mei spoke very softly.
"He died well?"
Spike hesitated. He remembered the twinkle in Leng Chi’s eye, the smile. Well, he had a lot to smile about, the old lizard.
"Yeah," he said. "Very well."
"I thank you, Master Spike," Leng Mei said quietly. "There is a debt between us that I will repay in time. Now leave me with my father, please."
Well, Spike hadn’t exactly expected Leng Mei to overflow with gratitude for him killing her father, but neither had he expected quite such a quick brushoff. Then he glanced at Leng Mei’s silhouette again and grinned. He supposed it was only to be expected that she might be a bit . . . cranky.
Besides, it wasn’t as if he had time for chitchat. Xander needed him, and that thought was enough to make him exit the room with considerable haste.
After all, a group of seven bloody, battered and beslimed people carrying a teenager across town in a makeshift stretcher was going to be a bit much, even in Sunnydale.
In the end, Willow, Tara, Buffy, and Spike had to carry Xander into an alley and wait there while Giles, Angel and Wesley took a cab back to the cemetery to pick up Xander’s Expedition, the only vehicle that would possibly accommodate Xander’s stretcher, and Wesley’s car to hold those who wouldn’t fit in the SUV with the stretcher. Angel took his own car, and would stop by Willy’s to pick up some blood for the two very depleted vampires. Spike expected a fuss from Buffy at the latter, but the Slayer looked pretty, ahem, drained herself and only nodded dully, hunkering down in the alley beside the stretcher.
Spike insisted on him and Xander being returned to their house, despite Giles’ strenuous objections – he wanted Xander at his house, or failing that, the Magic Box, where he could look up some things in his books. Spike prevailed, however, with the provision that Giles and Wesley would take Wesley’s car to the Magic Box and pick up Dawn plus whatever books they wanted, then join the others at Spike and Xander’s house.
By the time Spike, Willow, Tara and Buffy had Xander settled, not in the waterbed but on Spike’s nice firm mattress – Spike could feel that the whelp’s neck had healed, but no sense in taking any chances – Xander was starting to wake, his eyelids fluttering. Spike pushed the others aside and carefully sat down beside Xander, remembering what Leng Chi had said: "When your Consort sleeps a sleep from which you fear his waking, let him wake to the sight of your face, and you will know that all is well." Spike had never really dared allow himself to doubt, but even so, when Xander’s eyes opened and Spike saw the confusion in those beautiful chocolate eyes fade into relief and love, Spike’s own relief was so great that he thought he might make a total ponce of himself and break down crying again.
"Hey, luv," he whispered, stroking Xander’s cheek. "Good to see you."
Xander swallowed, licking his dry lips.
"You too, Bleachboy," he joked. "So . . . did we get the bad guy?"
"You did," Spike corrected. "Nailed him hard and dead center with the Tooth. As pretty a throw as ever I’ve seen, I admit, even though I’m more’n half tempted to kick your arse for doing it."
Xander’s eyes clouded.
"I remember – God, when I picked it up, it hurt so bad – " His eyes went wide. "Spike, did I – did you – I mean, am I – my arms and legs are all tingling, did you have to – "
Spike shook his head.
"You’re still alive, luv," he said. "Although how is gonna make one hell of a story." He took Xander’s hand. "Squeeze my fingers, can you?"
A brief hesitation; then Xander’s fingers closed weakly around his.
"God, I can hardly move," Xander said worriedly.
"’S all right, luv, you’re gonna be fine," Spike soothed. "All just aftereffects, some rest and a bit more blood when you need it, you’ll be right as rain."
"Blood – " Xander’s eyes jumped to Buffy, then back to Spike. Spike chuckled.
"’Fraid we’re ‘out’ now, luv," he said. "I’ll tell you the whole story in a bit."
"And Buffy hasn’t dusted you?" Xander chuckled weakly. "This I’ve got to hear."
But by the time Giles, Wesley and Angel returned, Xander was already asleep again. It was almost dawn, and despite the Giles and Wesley’s best intentions, everyone was simply too exhausted for research or conversation. They took turns at the shower, and between the waterbed, the recliners, the couch, and Xander’s patched air bed, there were enough horizontal surfaces for everyone to get a little rest. Spike and Angel wearily guzzled down several bottles of blood without bothering to heat it, and when Spike carefully curled up beside Xander, Angel dragged the airbed in, closed the door, and collapsed without a word.
Fourteen hours, a call to Xander’s job to report his severe bout of the "flu", eight more pints of bottled blood, four extra-large pizzas (And every single slightly-anemic human voted for Meat Lover’s this time, extra ground beef, hold the garlic), a reassuring call to Cordelia, and a bed bath and another hefty dose for Xander of Eau de Spike later, Xander was able to sit propped up on a mound of pillows, surrounded by Scoobies, ancient books and pizza crust crumbs while everyone filled in the blanks for everyone else. Buffy was far less than pleased to learn just what a Consort was and how long Xander had been one.
"I can’t believe you’d do – " She blushed. "Things like that with a vampire."
"Uh, Buff? Not the first person in this room to do ‘things’ with a vampire."
Buffy scowled. "That’s different."
"It is?" Angel raised his eyebrows. "Trust me, Buffy, the parts work about the same way for vampires, with or without souls."
"Ooooh, so did not need to hear that," Willow said, blushing.
"Well, I didn’t let Angel bite me," Buffy said hotly.
"You didn’t?" Angel said. "Faith, poisoned arrow? Does that bring back any memories?"
"Well, that was different," Buffy repeated. "That was to save your life."
"Yeah, and tonight the fact that I’m Spike’s Consort saved mine," Xander said. "Your point being?"
Apparently stymied by that logic, Buffy turned to Giles for support.
"Surely you’re not going along with this," she said.
"I can’t say I’m delighted by this development," he admitted. "But, Buffy, there’s very little to be done about it now."
"I could still stake Spike," Buffy muttered darkly.
"You mean you could be kicked out of our house," Xander said coldly. "Last warning, Buffy. No more of this crap."
"And you will leave Spike be," Angel said flatly, meeting Buffy’s eyes squarely. "I’m serious, Buffy. No harm, no threats."
"He’s right," Tara said, startling everyone. "We’re all tired of it. Spike is one of us. He really helped us tonight, and he saved Xander’s life. He deserves some respect."
Buffy looked wonderfully gobsmacked by, of all people, timid Tara and Angel standing up for Spike against her, and Spike fought down a chuckle. This was better than an episode of Passions.
"In any event, Buffy," Giles said practically, "the damage, as it were, is done. Besides, Xander is well over the age of consent, and however unwise we may deem it, he’s capable of making his own choice in this matter and apparently has done so. It’s obviously done him no harm, and whatever we think of it, as his friends, it’s our place to accept and respect that choice."
"Hey, I gave blood with everyone else," Buffy protested. She scowled. "It doesn’t mean I have to like it, though."
"Nope, sure doesn’t," Xander agreed. "And Spike and I don’t have to like you, so we’re even. You deal, we’ll deal."
Buffy opened her mouth, probably to launch into another attack, but Willow interrupted her, turning to Wesley.
"You said you’d tell us about the ring," she said. "What did it have to do with Xander not turning? I don’t see how it could do anything, I checked the treasure from Dorissant’s tomb for magic, and that ring wasn’t one of the pieces – " Her eyes widened and she clapped her hand over her mouth, glancing at Spike apologetically.
"Don’t fret it, Red," Spike said resignedly. They already knew about the treasure, and he wasn’t under any obligation to tell them how much there had been. "Think you missed the ring, though. I found it under the sofa later. I left it sitting out. Xander found it – " Spike glanced at Xander, grinning apologetically. "He thought I’d left it for him, as a gift, and he put it on."
"He put it on himself?" Wesley asked, chuckling and shaking his head. "Well, I suppose that explains it."
"Not to us, it doesn’t," Xander said, giving Spike a forgiving smile. "Want to give us the cliffnotes version?"
Wesley was still laughing quietly; at last he got himself settled down.
"There are very few Frisian females born," he said. "So Frisian males have something of a custom of taking mates of other species, sometimes human. The bonding rings were one of their inventions. When a Frisian gave the ring to a mortal lover, he bound his own life energies to the mortal’s, thus conferring his own immortality on the mortal – immortality, you understand, in the sense that the mortal would stop aging and would never die of natural causes. The price of that bond, however, was that the Frisian’s life was also bound to the mortal’s, so if the mortal would ever be killed, the Frisian would die as well. When I first saw the ring on Xander’s hand, I assumed that that was what had happened – that Spike had placed the ring on him to grant Xander vampiric immortality."
Spike froze, staring at Xander. Xander stared back, a flush rising to his cheeks.
Immortality. Right there on Xander’s hand. And he’s had it all this time –
"But that wouldn’t have kept Xander from turning if he was killed," Wesley continued. "So I didn’t understand, nor did the books I consulted shed any light on it. But then you told me that Xander had put the ring on himself, so instead of binding Xander to Spike – "
Willow gasped, her eyes going wide.
"He bound Xander to Xander," she said softly.
"Indeed," Wesley agreed. "Basically, he bound his soul into his body and – "
Everyone froze. Almost as one, they turned to stare at Angel.
"He bound his soul into his body," Wesley repeated, almost in a whisper.
Xander took a deep breath and pulled the ring off his finger, holding it out to Angel.
"I think you need this more than I do," he said.
"No!" Spike and Angel said at the same time.
Angel reached out and gently closed Xander’s fingers around the ring.
"Xander, think for a moment," he said gently. "That ring came from Dorissant’s tomb. Spike, you had Willow check the treasure for magic? But that one ring wasn’t detected."
"It rolled under the couch, like I said," Spike said, although he began to see what Angel was getting at.
"So this one piece of magic just happened to get passed over," Angel said quietly. "Spike found the ring later. He could have put it away, he could have had Willow come back to check it, but he happened to leave it where you found it, Xander. Or he could have chosen to give the ring to you and put it on you himself. But he didn’t. You put it on yourself. You, the one person in this group who could be cured of the hydra venom on the trap that none of us knew about -- the one person who was able to throw the Tooth when the time came. The one person who needed that ring in exactly the way you’d put it on."
Giles shook his head wonderingly.
"The chain of coincidence is – well, astounding," he said slowly. "It would seem – "
" – that the Powers want that ring right where it is," Angel said firmly. "And since the only thing that saved you, Xander, is your relationship with Spike, I’d go so far as to say that maybe the Powers had some hand in that too. You played a role in this that no one else could – who’s to say that there’s not some other purpose in this, someday in the future." He glanced at Spike, acknowledging the secret between them.
Wesley looked bereft, but he quickly smoothed his expression.
"Yes, well, I’d never heard of a Frisian bonding ring being used in that application," he said hurriedly. "But now that we know, perhaps one day we’ll find another."
"Maybe someday," Angel said, and the look in his eyes was all for Wesley.
"Well, there’s still one thing I want to know," Spike said levelly. "You brought that orb, ‘just in case’ you said. For you or for Xander? What was it that Cordelia saw, Angel?"
Angel met his eyes squarely.
"She saw Xander lying on the ground, us gathered around, you giving him your blood," he said quietly. "She also saw the case for the Tooth lying empty." Angel held up a hand to stop Spike’s protest. "She also saw the case for the Tooth lying empty. That meant the battle was over, Spike, and everyone was alive. There was no way to tell whether you were turning Xander, or giving him blood to heal him, but since Cordelia saw the others there, not interfering, I thought it must be the latter. Still, even if you had to turn Xander, he could be saved, his soul anchored. Which is why Wesley brought the orb.
"If I’d told you everything Cordelia saw," Angel continued gently, "you would have somehow kept Xander out of it, and things would have gone very differently. In retrospect, I believe we’d have lost the battle. At the very least, some of us would have died."
Spike was shaking, he was so furious.
"I trusted you," he growled.
"And I trusted you," Angel said, his eyes never leaving Spike’s. "I trusted the strength of your love for Xander, and the strength of his love for you, to save him."
"His love is stronger than any evil." God, the fucking old lizard. He knew it all along, didn’t he? Wish his head had lived long enough for me to shove it up his arse, him and his games. Spike had to chuckle a little in admiration. Well, can’t say he didn’t warn me. I just didn’t know how to listen. But that’s always the way of it, I guess.
"So you say Leng Chi was kind of a backup battery for Ravyadha?" Xander said, as if he’d followed Spike’s thoughts, and possibly he had – Spike imagined Xander had probably picked up a brief image of the Risza from him, their bond was that strong now. "But he gave us all that information, pointed us in the right direction – "
"So I’d do exactly what he wanted," Spike agreed.
"What, kill him?" Xander said, frowning. "That doesn’t make any sense."
"It would if you’d seen Leng Mei when I brought Leng Chi’s body to her," he said.
Angel raised his eyebrows.
"You mean she’s – "
"Yup," Spike said. He made an illustrative gesture in front of his belly. "Out to there. Any day, I’d say."
"She’s pregnant?" Xander said blankly. "But she wasn’t just a little while back when – "
"He probably done her around then," Spike agreed. "Don’t take long for Risza."
"’He’ who?" Xander said, then looked queasy. "You don’t mean – "
"Yup, Leng Chi," Spike said, nodding.
"But he’s her father," Xander said, grimacing.
"That’s how Risza demons manage it," Wesley said, shrugging sympathetically. "They breed only in family lines, and for a specific reason. They mate only when the male is near death, because when the male dies, the female consumes the body. They believe – and as far as I know, it may be true – that when the female bears her child, which will be male, that the baby will be the old mate, reborn in the new body."
I may get my chance to kick your arse for that game yet someday, you crazy old lizard, Spike thought fondly, grinning.
"What happens when the female dies?" Willow asked curiously.
"When her time is near, the female will mate again, this time with her son," Giles said. "She will bear a female offspring, but when the baby is ready to be born, it will kill the mother, eating its way out, and again, the new infant will be the mother reborn in the younger body."
"Ick," Buffy said, grimacing. "More than I ever wanted to know about demon mating habits. All I want to know is, is this Tiger guy really, really dead, and what about all those portals?"
"Ravyadha’s dead," Spike said shortly. "Tooth hit him dead center. Saw him melting down as he fell into the portal. And you saw yourself that the portal he cast collapsed, so likely the others will too, now that he’s dead. We can check a few, make sure they’re gone, since the witches have that detection thingy anyway, but my guess is they’re closed, or fading out." He brightened. "Bit of fighting, probably, cleaning up whatever’s left that came through ‘em, though."
Tara, Willow and Xander groaned. Even Buffy didn’t look enthusiastic.
"Yes, well, I believe a little recovery time is in order first," Giles said drily. "Some of us can’t replenish our blood supply from bottles, and Xander is not the only one of us with injuries. So I propose that we adjourn to our respective homes to recuperate, and unless some emergency appears, meet in perhaps two days – "
"Three," Spike said firmly. It would take him that long to get Xander up and walking, and even though there wasn’t a chance in hell that Xander would be up for patrolling sooner than a week or so, Spike knew he’d insist on attending the meeting anyway.
" – three, then," Giles said after a brief hesitation, "and we’ll discuss the matter then."
"Works for me," Buffy said tiredly. "Much sleeping to do. And more bathing." She wrinkled her nose. "I don’t think I’ll ever get this smell off me."
"Shoulda worn the poncho, eh?" Spike snickered despite Buffy’s glare. Well, hell, he was evil, he wasn’t going to miss his chance to say ‘I told you so’.
"Spike, I swear, I’m gonna – " Buffy began.
" – walk with us out to the car and go home," Dawn said, steering Buffy firmly out of the room. "Call us, okay, Spike? Let us all know how Xander’s doing?"
"Hey, nothing stopping the Xan-man from dialing the phone myself," Xander protested.
"Nothing except Spike keeping you chained to the bed," Willow said, then blushed. "Ooooh, so did not need that image. Never mind, not speculating on gay vampire bondage, shutting up now, bye, Xander, Spike!"
Giles gave Xander a last resigned look, then followed the girls from the room. Angel stood, but Spike interrupted before he could speak.
"Long drive back to LA when you’re this knackered," Spike said. "Stay the night and the day, there’s room enough. ‘Sides, I need to run some errands, pick up more blood and suchlike, and I’ll feel better with someone here with the whelp, in case he needs a bedpan or the like."
"Spike!" Xander protested, his face flaming. "I can go to the toilet!"
"Yeah, if you could levitate," Spike teased. "Sorry, Pet, it’s the bedpan or somebody carrying you to the loo and holding you up on it. Just consider yourself chained to the bed like Red said."
"Yeah, without the fun part," Xander chuckled, then blushed, horrified, covering his face with his hands. "Oh, God, tell me that wasn’t my out loud voice with Angel and Wesley in the room."
"Sorry, Pet," he said. "Want to go for the lot, trot out the photo album and show off the family pictures?"
"Spiiiiiiiiike – "
"And on that note," Wesley chuckled, "I believe I’ll look through the cupboards, see what I can muster up for dinner for mortals."
"And I’ll watch Xander, including bedpan duty if necessary," Angel said, following Spike from the room, "if you’ll pick me up some more blood, and some real shampoo, thank you very much, while you’re out."
"Done," he said. "Shouldn’t be more than a couple hours, not long after midnight, I’d guess." He hesitated. "You can have the air mattress in there with us, unless you and Wyndham-Price – "
"I’ll take the air mattress," Angel said quietly.
"Right, then." Spike shrugged, grabbed his keys and opened the door.
Spike turned back.
"Where did you say you kept this album?"