orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,
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orchidluv
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NTS Book 2, Ch. 16/?

Nothing the Same, Book 2
Chapter: 16/?
Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on. 
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same. 
WARNING:  This Chapter Contains Explicit Sex
Previous parts
here

Chapter 16

“It’s not enough that I already have one job. No, not for old Snide-man. I have to do a second job - the band’s job. They’re too good to raise their own money.”

Spike had woken to the sound of Xander’s voice, muttering complaints quietly to himself in the living room. Listening for a moment, Spike grinned as Xander expressed his remarkably colorful opinion of the school principal. Stretching, Spike rolled to his feet and padded barefoot across to the couch where Xander was sitting, moodily eating candy bars. Judging by the wrappers scattered around him, a lot of candy bars. Dropping a kiss on Xander’s forehead, Spike swung himself over the back of the couch and sat down beside him. “Didn’t really follow that, luv.”

“Principal Snyder is making everyone sell band candy. Personally, I think the band should have to sell their own candy but Snyder just gives you that ‘I can wipe out your GPA with one computer keystroke’ look and somehow resistance seems very futile.” Xander took another bite. “Fortunately, it’s really good chocolate. Much better than the stuff Cordy passed out when she was bribing people to vote for her for prom queen.”

Spike cocked his head curiously. “Thought you said you were selling it?”

“Hey, working guy here. I can buy a few bars from myself if I want to. Like I said, it’s really good.”

Spike reached for a piece and was astonished when Xander slapped his hand away.

“Bad vampire. My chocolate.”

“Not a dog,” he snapped, annoyed.

Xander laughed. “Of course not. You’re a vampire. My vampire.” He put the chocolate down on the table beside the couch, out of Spike’s reach, and turned to Spike. “My vampire,” he repeated, a hungry look in his eye.

Spike’s irritation faded. “Got somethin’ in mind, luv?”

“Yep. Sex, lots and lots of sex.”

Spike’s eyebrows rose in amusement. “Interesting plan, that,” he purred. “Anythin’ I can do to help?”

“Now that you mention it…” Xander launched himself at Spike, pushing him back down into the cushions and kissing him hungrily. Spike returned the kiss with enthusiasm, opening his mouth under Xander’s, as Xander’s tongue darted in aggressively, tasting, exploring, plundering. Xander moved on quickly, nibbling his way down Spike’s neck and Spike threw his head back, shivers going through him at the erotic feeling of Xander’s teeth at his throat. He sometimes wished that Xander had proper fangs, so that Spike could experience again the ecstatic pain/pleasure of needle sharp fangs sinking into his flesh. After sex with Drusilla, Spike had often been covered with bite marks and it was a purely demonic pleasure he sometimes missed.

He actually jumped when Xander bit him, hard, on the shoulder, hard enough to draw blood, he realized in astonishment as Xander’s tongue darted out to lap at the droplets with little cat licks. “Pay attention,” Xander scolded.

“I’m payin’ attention, luv,” Spike assured him, thrusting his hips up against Xander’s weight in case his boy had any doubts.

“Good.” Xander sat up slightly and yanked at Spike’s shirt, trying to tear it off and failing. He growled. “Off, get this off.”

“Right, luv. Off it is.” Spike obligingly reached up with both hands and tore his black t-shirt off in one quick jerk, baring his chest to Xander’s avid gaze.

Xander ran his hands over the smooth, pale flesh. “Mine,” he crooned, “all mine.” Bending down, he slid his hands under Spike’s back and began licking and nipping at his nipples, quickly bringing them to hard peaks, as his nails scratched down Spike’s back.

Arching his back to give Xander more room to work, Spike lost himself in Xander’s unusually aggressive love-making. Xander was moving against him, rubbing his erection against Spike’s thigh and Spike could feel how close he was to orgasm already. Spike wasn’t far behind his eager partner, the biting and scraping nails having brought him to a quick, hard arousal. Neither even had their jeans off yet, he realized and was reaching down to remedy the situation when Xander gave a sharp cry and stiffened, jerking a last few times against Spike’s thigh as he came hard.

Chuckling, Spike rolled them over so he was on top. “In a bit of a hurry tonight, luv. See if I can catch up.” Straddling Xander’s leg, Spike humped himself against Xander’s thigh, nuzzling into the crook of Xnader’s neck and inhaling deeply, loving the mingled odors of sweat, semen and Xander. Feeling his own orgasm approaching rapidly, he shifted to game face and yanked Xander’s collar down, exposing his mark. He slid his fangs in, renewing the mark and tasting Xander’s pheromone-spiked blood even as he exploded into orgasm, his hips jerking along Xander’s thigh as he came.

Relaxing back onto Xander’s body, Spike licked the last few drops of blood off the fresh bite mark. He’d been renewing his mark more frequently since Angelus’ return. Despite all indications that Angel was in the driver’s seat and had no interest in Xander, Spike couldn’t help himself. He needed to know that Xander was clearly marked as off limits to anyone else. Fortunately, Xander didn’t mind, loving the eroticism of Spike drinking from him. Spike smirked down at his boy, still panting and dazed from the short, frantic bout of sex. Laying his head down on Xander’s chest, arms wrapped tightly around the loving heat, Spike listened contentedly as Xander’s heartbeat gradually slowed to a normal rhythm. Nothing was pressing and he could enjoy the interlude with his Claimed.

Something was slightly off, though, and Spike’s brow furrowed as he tried to pin it down. Running his tongue over his lips, he lifted his head and looked thoughtfully at Xander. His boy was sprawled beneath him, looking thoroughly shagged and incapable of moving and Spike smiled in satisfaction at the sight, but his smiled faded rapidly as that sense of something not quite right lingered.

Bending over, he ran his tongue over his mark, probing, tasting the blood. Xander’s blood tasted subtly wrong. He probed again, rasping his tongue over the still open marks, ignoring Xander’s mutter of protest. Closing his eyes, Spike concentrated hard on the taste, extending his senses to their fullest. Rich and hot, flavored with Xander’s unique scent, spiked with pheromones from sex, there was a slightly bitter after-taste, like wine turning to vinegar, a minute prickle of sickly orange beneath the warm greens and browns that were Xander’s natural flavors.

Magic.

Spike swore and sat up, pulling Xander up to a sitting position, despite Xander’s drowsy: “le’me go.”

“Xander!” Spike said sharply. “Need you to talk to me.”

“Wanna sleep.”

Ordinarily, Spike found it endearing that Xander was usually so sated after sex that he just wanted to fall asleep immediately afterwards, cradled in Spike’s arms. Right now, it was just an obstacle.

“Sorry, luv. Need you to stay awake.” He shook Xander gently until Xander opened his eyes and fixed him with a bleary, annoyed look.

“This is so not the way to get more sex,” he muttered. “What?”

“Xander, someone’s done a spell on you. What’s going on?”

“No one’s done any magic,” Xander protested, but his bleary look sharpened and he began to look worried.

“Can taste it in your blood, luv,” Spike told him. “Might not be a spell directly on you, but you’ve been exposed to magic, enough that it’s lingering in your blood.”

The last of the sleepiness vanished from Xander’s eyes. “No one’s done any magic around me, except that spell Willow did.” Xander looked completely panicked now. “You mean, what she did was permanent? Giles was sure they’re weren’t going to be any side effects. I’m not cut out to be a mindless robot. Oh, god, what if I become just like the Cordettes? They don’t have a single original thought between them, they just do whatever Cordelia says. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to have to do everything Willow says.”

“What the bloody hell are you talking about?”

“Willow, she did that spell, and Giles said there could be permanent damage but then he said that I was so pissed off about it that there probably wasn’t. And I was sure there wasn’t, because man did I let Willow have it, well, actually Giles did, I was too freaked out to say much of anything, but I felt like telling her off and I didn’t forgive her when she asked me to, so we were sure there weren’t any permanent effects, like being a mindless robot or never being able to lie to anyone again, and sometimes you just gotta lie because otherwise people might get torn to pieces and I don’t want that even if I’m still mad at her, but now you say you can taste magic in me and…

“Xander, stop!” Really worried now, Spike put his hand over Xander’s mouth, cutting him off in mid-stream. He could feel Xander squirming, trying to say something but he needed to think. “One minute, luv. Can’t think when you’re babbling like that.”

He pushed back the rising fury and forced himself to think. He’d bitten Xander last four days ago and his blood had not tasted of magic then. “When did Willow do a spell on you?” he asked, lifting his hand off Xander’s mouth.

“Um, about a week ago…” Xander’s voice trailed off and he looked wide-eyed at Spike. “Oops, I didn’t mean to tell you about that. Pretend I didn’t say anything.” Xander looked sly, like he was pulling something over on Spike and he opened his mouth to continue but Spike held one hand up sharply for him to be quiet. Xander looked mutinous at being cut off again but closed his mouth obediently.

Spike looked at him sternly. “You’re going to tell me exactly what you’re talking about, but not right now. Whatever is going on is more recent than last week. Has anything different happened in the last day or so?”

Xander shook his head emphatically. “Nope. Nothing new. Just the same old boring class stuff. Nothing Hellmouthy going on at all: no spells, no demons, no research, no…”

Spike’s hand cut him off again. “Got it, pet,” he said dryly. “You’re not aware of anything unusual.”

Coming to a decision, he stood, pulling Xander up behind him. “Let’s go see the Watcher, luv. See if he knows what’s happened to you. Get changed.”

“Who died and made you god?” Xander complained even as Spike hustled him into the bathroom for a quick shower. He couldn’t drag Xander through town smelling of sex, boy was enough of a target already without adding that temptation. Xander seemed to find his own remark very funny and started giggling. “Oh, that’s right, you’re a vampire. You died.”

Spike rolled his eyes as he quickly stripped first Xander’s, then his own clothes off, and started the shower, wondering what kind of magic would cause someone to act like an drunk 15-year old. What would be the point of something like that?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By the time they arrived at the Watcher’s, Spike was ready to gag Xander. The boy hadn’t stopped talking once as they went first to the school, then to the Watcher’s apartment: streams of inane blather and lame jokes just poured out of him and Spike had found himself thinking that, if Xander was normally like this, he’d never have been interested in the boy, much less fallen in love with him. As it was, he just kept reminding himself that it wasn’t Xander’s fault and promising himself he would make whoever did this pay.

Even if it wasn’t dangerous, it was incredibly annoying.

As they approached the Watcher’s apartment, a black SUV screeched noisily around the corner, swinging wide and nearly clipping a parked car.

“Hey, isn’t that Buffy?” Xander twisted around to watch the car careen down the street, his pace slackening as he did. “How come her mom lets her drive? Spike, would you loan me the money to buy me a car? If Buffy can drive, I should be able to, too.” He giggled. “To, too. That came out weird. Seriously, you know I’m a better driver than you, so what d’ya say?”

“Not right now,” Spike clung to the remnants of his never-abundant patience, reminding himself that he’d really regret it if he killed the boy. On the other hand, gagging was looking better all the time.

“But Buffy’s driving.”

“If that’s an example of her driving, Slayer shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel. Probably stole the car from her mum.” Spike tugged Xander after him down the steps to the Watcher’s apartment, The Watcher better have an answer, and fast. “You’ll have to fetch him outside, luv,” he reminded Xander. “I’ve never been invited in.”

“Really? That’s rude of Giles,” Xander looked upset.

“Not really, never been here before.”

“Oh, that’s right. Well, that’s ok then, he can invite you in and we can all sit around and talk. You and Giles still don’t really know each other.”

“Right.” Spike had taken to mechanically agreeing to most of Xander’s suggestions. He was fairly sure that at one point he’d even agreed to take Xander to Disneyland. If Xander remembered any of this, Spike was going to deny that one ‘til he was dust.

“Hey, G-Man!” Xander rat-a-tatted on the door, then quickly pushed it open. “We need to… Oh, my God!”

Looking over his shoulder, Spike was astonished to see the Watcher in mid-snog with Joyce Summers. The two jumped apart and the Watcher looked furious.

“What the bloody hell are you two doing? Shift’s over and I’m off the clock. Sod off, the both of you.”

“Giles?” Xander looked pole-axed, whether from the sharp reprimand or, more likely, from the unbelievable sight of the Watcher snogging with his Slayer’s mum.

“Yeah, well you’re back on the clock now, mate. Something’s going on.” Deciding there was nothing he could say to Joyce that she wouldn’t take the wrong way, Spike settled for nodding at her to acknowledge her presence. Any other time and he would have given her a thumbs up. Joyce could undoubtedly do better but the lady deserved to cut loose. The fact that the Slayer was not going to like this little development was just a bonus. Spike couldn’t wait to describe it to her in excruciating detail as soon as whatever was going on was over.

“Take care of it yourself,” Giles snapped and Spike glared at him, his eyes narrowing in yellow-eyed anger.

“Someone’s done a spell on Xander. Bit more important than you gettin’ some. Sorry, Joyce,” he added.

“Someone’s done a spell on Xander? Ripper, we have to help. I’m sure it won’t take long. You’re so smart, you’ll figure it out immediately.”

Giles just looked sulky. “Oh, very well.” He reached for a pack of cigarettes off the mantle and lit up, eyes sparkling with malicious enjoyment. “Can’t invite you in, of course,” he said provokingly. “Just because Xander and Buffy are bloody stupid enough to get involved with vampires, doesn’t mean I trust you.”

“Giles! What’s wrong with you?” Xander looked bewildered and hurt and like he was sobering up a bit.

Spike tightened his grip on Xander’s wrist slightly, preventing Xander from entering the apartment. He wasn’t going to let Xander go somewhere he couldn’t follow, not when whatever was going on seemed to be affecting the Watcher as well. Joyce too, probably, given the way she was talking to the Watcher like a teenager with a crush rather than the smart, feisty woman that Spike knew. He took a deep breath, scenting the air, but couldn’t smell anything other than cigarette smoke, alcohol, chocolate and pheromones. Two had been getting ready to make a right bloody orgy of it from the smell of the apartment.

“Gettin’ bloody tired of you children expecting me to fix things for you,” he heard Giles say spitefully to Xander.

Watcher!” Spike roared as Xander took a step backwards, looking devastated. “Shut your gob!” Spell or not, he was furious that the Watcher would lose control enough to hurt Xander. His boy thought of the twit as a surrogate father. After his own father’s neglect and indifference, hearing similar sentiments from his chosen father figure would crush Xander. Watcher better hope Xander didn’t remember what he’d just said when this was all over, Spike thought wrathfully.

Probably due to the fact that Joyce gasped and stepped closer to him, clinging to his arm as Spike shifted to game face to emphasize his fury, the Watcher did shut up. “Stop acting like a prat and focus,” Spike told him angrily. “Xander’s under a spell and, from the looks of things, so are you and Joyce.”

“Oh, I don’t think we’re under any kind of spell, Spike,” Joyce said. “We’ve just been talking about Buffy and, well, one thing lead to another. Ripper’s quite exciting when you get to know him.”

Xander looked appalled and Spike couldn’t help agreeing with him. He was worriedly aware that the Watcher was almost no use to him under these circumstances.

“Anythin’ unusual happen today?”

“Just me realizing what a waste my life’s been recently.”

Spike held back a snarl with an effort. “I meant magical or havin’ to do with the Hellmouth, not you realizing what a pathetic git you are,” he snapped.

Giles glared at him. “Don’t have to take that from you.”

“You’ll take anything I tell you to.” Spike shook his head, this was a waste of time. “Come on, Xander. We need to find someone useful.” He stalked off, tugging Xander after him. No way would he trust the Watcher in this state to look after his boy. Xander was better off staying with him.

At the top of the stairs, Spike paused, having no real idea of what to do. Magic was not something he generally involved himself with. Killing the witch who cast the spell sometimes broke the enchantment, but not always. His eyes narrowed thoughtfully on Xander. He’d said something about Willow doing a spell on him. If the witch was working mojo again, maybe she was responsible for what was happening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike cursed. The redhead wasn’t home. They’d already been to the school and the Watcher’s and she wasn’t at either place, they’d seen the Slayer driving in her mum’s car, so it wasn’t likely she would be at home. Fortunately, Sunnydale didn’t offer many options for teenagers on a school night. “Let’s check out the Bronze, luv.”

“No.”

“Xander?” Spike was surprised by Xander’s sudden intransigence. His boy had trotted along after him docilely, complaining about Giles’ attitude and vocalizing every other thought that went through his mind, no matter how ridiculous. Now, suddenly, he was digging in his heels and struggling against Spike’s hold.

“I don’t go to the Bronze.”

“Looking for the Slayer and Red, luv. Not many other places they’re likely to be. Not plannin’ on spendin’ any more time there than necessary.”

“No.”

“Xander, we need to find out what’s wrong.”

“You go without me.”

“Not leavin’ you alone, luv. Not ‘til I know what’s happened to you.”

“Don’t want to.” Xander looked away and Spike smelled the salt of tears.

“Xander?” When he didn’t respond, Spike put a gentle hand to his cheek, turning Xander’s face back towards himself. “What’s wrong, luv?”

“Jesse died there.” The whisper was so quiet that Spike could barely hear it.

“Oh, luv.” He folded Xander into his arms and held him as Xander clung to him, shaking.

“I’ve only been inside once since the night he died,” Xander admitted. “It used to make me sick to even think about going inside.” He sniffed loudly and pushed back. “Dumb, I know,” he said, shamefaced, wiping the tears away angrily.

“Not wrong to mourn for your friend.” Spike gave him a crooked smile. “Drank myself into a stupor every night for a month after Drusilla died. We all grieve in our own ways.”

He gave Xander a moment to pull himself together. “We need to do this, luv. Are you up for it?”

“Yeah.” Spike thought Xander was going to say more, but apparently the mood swing had dried up his streams of prattle for the moment. He gave Xander a quick hug.

“Let’s see what we can find out.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ok, I’m officially sorry we came.”

Spike agreed. He didn’t have much use for the Bronze even under normal circumstances, but tonight’s crowd was exceptionally useless. The dance floor was filled with a crowd of people much older than the teens who usually frequented the place and all of them were behaving like public school kids on holiday - drinking, screaming, snogging and whatnot. A group of middle-aged men were on stage, tunelessly belting out ‘Louie, Louie’. Spike was fairly sure even Xander would agree that was grounds for torturing and killing them.

There were a couple of vampires in the crowd, but neither was a member of his Court, Spike was pleased to see. He’d expressed his contempt for vampires who went after easy prey often enough, and the people inside the club wouldn’t pose a challenge to a day-old fledge. It was good to know the members of the Court were following his lead in choosing their prey.

Xander was looking around, appalled. “A lot of these people are my teachers. Oh my God, Mrs. Whitcomb… Gross, that’s Mr. Talbert she’s making out with. I’m never going to be able to concentrate in math class again.”

Spike was glad to see Xander’s fascinated horror had overcome his reluctance to enter the club. He’d felt Xander’s tension and seen the way his eyes avoided one particular spot, until the middle-aged orgy had caught his attention and made him forget the past. It was worryingly obvious that the spell had affected half the town. He caught a glimpse of a familiar blond. “There’s the Slayer,” he pointed out to Xander.

Forcing their way through the crowd, Spike was seriously tempted to start feeding. A nice stampede would be useful to clear these ridiculous prats out of the club.

“Buffy, what’s going on?”

“Xander?” Buffy turned to face them, and Spike was amused to see the same look of horrified disgust on her face that was still on Xander’s. “I don’t know what’s happening. Oz and Willow just left. They’re going to contact Giles and start researching, try to figure out what’s causing everyone to behave like this.” She looked around again, like someone who couldn’t tear their eyes away from a traffic accident. “This is just not normal,” she complained, watching a short, balding guy with big ears chasing a 40-ish brunette who looked like she was wearing her daughter’s clothes.

“’course it’s not normal, it’s a spell.”

Buffy’s eyes swung towards him. “How do you know that?” she asked suspiciously.

“What else would cause something this widespread?” Spike asked, exasperated. “Xander’s infected as well, can feel the magic in him.”

“Why would anyone want to do this? This is just… gross.” Xander was still staring at the people in the club, wincing at some of the overt sexual activity. “Grown-ups aren’t supposed to behave this way.”

“Don’t generally mind orgies myself, but I tend to agree with you about this one, pet.”

Spike looked around dismissively, his eyes falling on two grey-haired men pushing each other in what looked like the start of a uniquely pathetic fight. Something was odd about the way they were pushing each other and Spike realized they were each clutching a candy bar in one hand, and only using their free hands to push at each other.

Candy.

Spike scanned the club again, and opened up his sense of smell at the same time. He was immediately assaulted by the odors of sweaty bodies, too much perfume, alcohol, pheromones… and chocolate. Half the people in the club seemed to be holding candy bars even as they drank, danced, played pool, and groped each other.

“The candy bars.”

“What?” Buffy looked at him like he was losing it.

“Where did the candy come from?”

“The school,” Xander said helpfully. “I told you, Snyder is making everyone sell Band Candy this year.”

“You ate a bunch of it, luv. Watcher’s apartment smelled of chocolate and this place reeks of it.”

“You think something’s wrong with the candy?”

“Xander’s been acting off since he ate half a box of it.”

“I have not! And it wasn’t half a box…”

“Hush, luv. Not your fault.” Xander subsided unwillingly and Spike hid a grin. Seeing the evidence of the spell’s effects all around him had done wonders for snapping Xander out of it. He seemed to be trying to behave normally as if to prove he wasn’t as bad as the adults who were currently displaying whole new levels of meaning for the word immature. “Makes sense, don’t it? Look around - half the wankers in here have a candy bar in their hand.”

“Oh, no. I sold half of mine to my mother and half to Giles,” Buffy groaned.

“Yeah, we saw how that turned out.”

“What do you mean?” The Slayer asked sharply and Spike didn’t even try not to say it.

“Nothing to worry about, just caught the two of them snogging.” Despite the circumstances, Spike couldn’t help smirking at the look of absolute horror on Buffy’s face.

“You mean…? My mother and Giles were kissing? Oh, god, I’m so going to need years of therapy. Where are they?”

“Safe enough. They’re at the Watcher’s.” He couldn’t resist. “Don’t fret. Chances of them producing a kid from tonight’s little love-in are low, they’re still physically the same age.”

What? And you left them there? I’ve got to stop them.” Buffy turned to leave and Spike shot out a hand to stop her.

“Got more important things to take care of, Slayer. We need to find out who’s doin’ the mojo and stop them.”

To his surprise, the Slayer actually listened. She gave herself a quick shake, like she was clearing her head, and settled down to business. She glanced at Xander, who was still having difficulty focusing and was looking around the club again, and seemed to accept he wasn’t going to be of much use tonight. “I didn’t eat any of the candy and neither did Willow. Oz, I’m not sure about but he seemed normal. We could…”

“Not having the witch anywhere near my boy.” Spike interrupted with a growl. Until he knew what Xander had been talking about, he wasn’t taking any chances.

Buffy shot Xander a quick, somewhat guilty look. “She didn’t mean any harm, Spike. She was just trying to help.”

It infuriated Spike to have the Slayer confirm that she knew about whatever had happened between Willow and Xander. He couldn’t even call her on it without revealing his own lack of knowledge. “Don’t need her kind of help,” he snarled. He hadn’t missed the fact that the Watcher knew about it as well, and he was both furious and hurt that Xander hadn’t told him about something like that. As soon as Xander was back to normal, they were going to have a talk, but it had to wait, for now.

Buffy buried her face in her hands for a second, before looking up again, her eyes sharp with clear purpose and Spike found himself adjusting his opinion of her intelligence. Slightly.

“Where is the candy coming from?” she asked. “We need to find the source. That will probably give us the person doing the spell and why.

“Don’t really care why,” Spike said, all he cared about was getting his hands on the person responsible.

“There has to be some reason, this is too much for someone’s idea of a joke,” she responded, gesturing around at the crowded club. “And I doubt that the reason is something good.” She looked hard at Spike: “This is about stopping them, not killing them.”

Spike responded with a feral grin. “Depends on who they are, don’t it?”

Slayer didn’t argue the point., her eyes fastening on someone in the crowd. She exclaimed suddenly in satisfaction and pounced on the balding man Spike had noticed earlier, yanking him free of the melee around the shoving match and dragging him back towards Spike and Xander.

“We need to talk, Snyder.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It had only taken one flash of Spike’s demonic features to get the principal to tell them everything he knew. Spike actually shifted back to human almost immediately when it looked like the man was going to piss himself in fear, he didn’t need that smell adding to the odors already filling the club. Everything wasn’t much in this case, just that the school board had provided the chocolate and Snyder knew which warehouse it was stored in.

The Slayer had wanted him to leave Xander behind as they went to the warehouse but Spike adamantly refused. Xander would be safe with Spike and he wasn’t leaving him at the mercy of a bunch of bespelled morons, not when Xander was in the same condition.

They’d run into the Watcher and Joyce near the warehouse and the Slayer had gotten distracted, arguing and attempting to reason with two people under a spell. Xander had watched wide-eyed as Joyce and Giles played the part of teenage rebels but Spike rapidly lost patience with the show.

“ENOUGH! All of you!” he roared. Three heads snapped around to face him. “Watcher, either sober up or clear off. Slayer, we don’t have time for this. Joyce, well actually, you keep doin’ what you’re doin’, like you like this,” he finished with a grin. Hearing Joyce say ‘screw you’ to her daughter and seeing the look on Buffy’s face had been priceless.

“Now, if we’re all back on track, let’s do something about the candy give-away program going on, shall we?”

Buffy seemed to give up on persuading Giles to take her mother home. “Fine, you guys can come. Mom, stay close to me.” Still flushed with anger from arguing with teen-rebel Giles, she stomped towards the warehouse, towing her mother behind her in a flurry of long skirts and ridiculous feathered coat.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Getting inside had proved easy. The crowd jostling for candy outside weren’t interested in anything beside getting more chocolate. Spike and Buffy had taken out the two men distributing the chocolate with a pair of well-placed punches, then simply kicked in the door and hauled their protesting charges into the relative calm of the interior.

“You guys stay here and try to stay out of trouble.”

Hearing a voice, near the back, Spike told Xander, “wait here, pet. Stay out of trouble.”

“Of course, I will. Not a five-year old.”

“I know, luv. Just a little off your game today.”

The Slayer clearly recognized the slender man talking on the phone in the back of the warehouse. “Ethan Rayne.”

The man spun around to face them, then broke and ran. Spike was on him before he’d gotten five feet, grabbing him and slamming him down against the table, pinning him easily. The man reeked of chaos magic, overpowering even the smell of the thousands of chocolate bars in the warehouse.

“Ethan.”

Great. The Watcher had followed them into the back.

“Hello, Ripper.”

The two might as well be carrying signs saying they used to be lovers; the emotional history between them so obvious it was practically visible. Spike tightened his grip, bringing the man’s attention back towards him.

“So, Ethan, what are we playing here? We're pretty much in a talk-or-bleed situation. Your call.”

As an intimidation attempt, it wasn’t too bad but the Slayer really needed to work on her technique, she sounded more perky than menacing. The Watcher wasn’t helping, hopping around in the background encouraging his Slayer to just hit the man. Spike shifted to his true face and glared down at the slender man, who was clearly not a fighter. He grinned as the fear scent sharply increased.

“Not a patient man,” he said. “Not a man at all. Your spell affected my Claimed.” He wrapped a hand around the man’s upper arm. “Answer the question or this is the first body part to go. What did you do to the candy?”

Satisfyingly, his captive went white with fear, his heartbeat speeding up to panic levels and he said quickly: “Just a spell, it won’t have any permanent effects. It’s a combination that lowers inhibitions and decreases the subject’s sense of responsibility. It’ll wear off in a few hours with no permanent effects. Your Claimed will be fine.”

Spike appreciated the fact that the man obviously recognized how serious a mistake it was to harm a Master Vampire’s Claimed human. He was clearly telling the truth. Seeing Spike relax slightly, Rayne continued, still nervously: “I-I'd just like to point out that this wasn't my idea. I'm subcontracting. It's Trick you want. I'm just helping him collect a tribute.”

“Trick?” Rage flooded him. This was Trick’s idea of low profile? He’d warned Trick not to pull stunts that got the attention of the authorities. SlayerFest had been bad enough but this stunt had effected half the town. Trick was dust. What on earth had made him think Spike would permit this kind of thing? Or that he wouldn’t find out who was responsible?

Spike focused on his surroundings again. The Slayer was asking questions and the chaos mage was doing his best to answer around Spike’s constricting hold on his throat. He hadn’t even realized he’d nearly shut off the man’s air. He eased up slightly and listened as the man described the reason behind tonight’s fun and games: a demon that needed tribute.

Spike snorted in disgust. You didn’t pay demons tribute, you killed them. Much easier. The mage didn’t know anything more and Spike shook him. “You endangered my Claimed,” he said, his voice low and deadly. “That’s not something you walk away from.”

“Spike! Let him go!” The Slayer was pushing between them, trying to get between him and his lawful prey. Spike snarled.

“Stay out of this, Slayer. I protect what’s mine.”

“Stop, right now, or I’m getting Xander. You going to kill him in front of Xander?”

Spike glared at her. Killing a chaos mage who’d put a spell on his Claimed was clearly within his rights, but Xander probably wouldn’t see it that way. Reluctantly, he gave in to her tugging.

“You get to live, because that’s what my boy would want,” he told the white-faced man. Still gripping the man’s jaw, he squeezed hard, relishing the feeling of the man’s struggles to breathe. “This is a one-time deal. If you’re still in town tomorrow, I’ll eviscerate you and my boy will never know.”

He released his hold and let the man slip to the floor as his knees buckled. He stayed there, gasping for breath, thoroughly cowed, looking up at Spike with frightened eyes. Still unable to speak, he just nodded.

Yanking him up by his shirt front, Spike threw one punch that sent the mage crumpling unconscious to the floor. “Right. That takes care of that.”

“Not exactly. There’s still the demon to be taken care of.”

Spike looked at her in exasperation. “That’s your territory, not mine. Demon that wants tribute probably isn’t worth fighting.” He strode back towards the front of the warehouse where he’d left Xander without waiting for a response.

Xander and Joyce were talking and staying out of trouble, as promised. Xander’s eyes lit up at the sight of him. “Everything ok?”

“Yeah, all taken care of, luv. Let’s head home.”

“Not so fast. We still have to take care of Lurconis.”

“Lurconis?” Xander’s brow furrowed. “Why does that sound so familiar?”

“You’ve heard of it?” Buffy asked sharply.

“Not sure, but it sounds familiar.”

“It’s a demon, it needs a big tribute, that’s all I know.”

“Lurconis…” Everyone waited while Xander searched his memory. “Lurconis!” he said again, triumphantly this time. “It’s a ssrushnar demon.” He beamed, proud of himself.

“Good work, luv. Ssrushnar, huh. That means big snake to you,” Spike told the Slayer. “Tribute will be humans of some kind, probably kiddies.”

“Xander, do you know where it can be found?” Buffy pressed urgently.

“‘Lurconis dwells beneath the city,’” Giles muttered.

“What?”

“I know this one. ‘Lurconis dwells beneath the city, filth to filth,’” he repeated, obviously quoting something. “Lurconis means ‘glutton’ and we’ll find him…”

“…in the sewers!” Xander finished excitedly. Then he made a face. “Great, more disgusting stuff in a night that’s already had more than its share.” He shot a meaningful look at Giles, who didn’t notice.

“Well, good luck with that, all of you. C’mon, Xander, let’s get you home until the spell wears off.”

Xander just gave him that look. The one that said without a word that he understood Spike’s position but that this was non-negotiable. Spike sighed. The candy was obviously wearing off if Xander was back to getting Spike to behave completely against his grain with barely more than a token protest. “Right, the sewers it is.”

Xander’s brilliant, loving smile was back as well.

*A/N - Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episode 'Band Candy'.

TBC

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