It was late and they were curled up together in the guest bedroom at casa del Summers. No one else was in, so the sex had been pleasantly loud and enthusiastic. But now Xander was starting to think.
“Yes, Xander? Do you need something? Food? Water? Copious amounts of alcohol? We could have more sex, but even my female body needs a little rest after that many orgasms.”
Xander chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Anya was so blunt, and while it drove him crazy in public, it was also rather pleasant sometimes in private.
“No, I need rest more than sex, though that was lovely sex.”
“I agree. You are quite proficient, but usually much more restrained during our sexual encounters.”
“Probably something to do with my parents not being upstairs.”
“Excellent. Since that will no longer be a problem, our sexual relations will continue to improve.”
“I have upset you.” Anya sounded upset, and Xander couldn’t blame her. “Why have I upset you this time?”
“Don’t lie. I said —”
Xander sat up and clasped her hands. “No, you didn’t upset me. I just have something I need to say. And I need you not to interrupt me. Can you do that for me, An?”
“Of course.” She sat up as well, letting the sheet fall so her breasts, her lovely breasts, were bared to his sight.
Oh hell, that was going to make this easier. Not.
“Anya, I love you, in a lot of ways. I might even be falling in love with you—”
“Ah, I am familiar with this distinction. The magazines I have read say—
“What did I say about interrupting?”
“Sorry.” The word was clipped and she did not look sorry at all, but he ran with the ensuing silence.
“I love you. But I can’t help thinking this isn’t the best place for you. Sunnydale is dangerous, and you deserve a chance to have a life where encroaching apocalypses aren’t a yearly occurrence. At a minimum.” He took a deep breath and met her eyes with his own. “When my grandfather takes my mother back to Metropolis, I want you to consider going with them. Try starting a life away from here. He can help you get a good job, or go to college. The people he can introduce you to… you’d have a lot of options for the future.”
“You mean we’d have a lot of options. Don’t you?”
Xander shook his head. “I had a chance to leave, but I learned I can’t. Or maybe I don’t want to. This is my home, and I… I need to help, no matter how risky it is. But I can’t make that decision for you. I don’t have the right. It’s my fault you got turned human again, and since I have the means to offer you a life away from here….”
Anya pushed away, looking angry. She rolled from the bed and threw on her clothes, ranting. “I thought we were making progress. You say you love me, but you want to send me away. After everything and all my efforts to be a better human, a better girlfriend.”
“An, I don’t want to send you away. I just want you to have a chance to see the world, to learn what’s the right life for you.”
“I’m not listening right now. I am very angry and am going to go back to my apartment to eat ice cream and watch bad movies.” She stomped out of the room and down the stairs.
Into the silence left behind by the slammed door, Xander whispered, “You could always decide you want to come back.”
“William, thank you for coming by,” William Clark said when he opened the door to his hotel room and found Spike outside. “You’re a rather difficult man to get ahold of.”
“I’m in a bit of transition, living situation wise,” Spike prevaricated. Really, sending word with the slayer had worked out almost as fast as a phone call, though it did make the bint a bit cranky. Calling Xander would have been more effective, and more protective of Spike’s continued undeath.
“Yes, Mr. Giles said something to that effect, amongst other things.”
Spike swallowed a bit uneasily as he followed Mr. Clark’s gesture to enter.
“Can I get you something to drink, William? The mini bar is an embarrassment but I did find a decent scotch at the local liquor store.”
“No thank you, sir.” No, Spike wanted to know what Xander’s grandfather wanted with him, and while a drink might relax him, it also might leave him inclined to say something he shouldn’t. And as counter as it was to his usual state of mind, he didn’t want to mess up this time.
“Very well. Please, have a seat. I asked you here for several reasons. One, to thank you for your assistance to my daughter and grandson that horrible night.”
“No thanks needed, sir.”
“That’s good of you to say, son, but not true.” William settled into the other chair. “As for the other matter. Mr. Giles tells me you are a good fighter.”
“Xander doesn’t tell me much about his life here, but I’ve seen his medical records, noticed the way he flinches. His father did a lot of that, but not all of it. If he’s going to stay here—”
“I don’t honestly see him leaving.” Stubborn boy.
“I know. I offered. His uncle offered. He’s determined to stay. And I cannot protect him here, but I can try to help him protect himself. I’m offering to pay you to give Xander lessons in hand to hand, any weapons you know if he shows interest.”
Spike was shocked. What was Rupert telling the man about him? “Pay?” Probably the wrong thing to focus on. Better, with the grandfather here, than focusing on the idea of rolling around on the floor with Xander. So much delightful potential, but none of it appropriate in given company.
“One hundred a lesson, assuming at least two a week.”
“I don’t know how you’d sell Xander on that.”
“I don’t care how you convince him to take the lessons or if he ever knows I’m involved. I wouldn’t offer money on this, but Mr. Giles did mention you are in a tough position of late, especially with your medical condition limiting your daytime travel options.”
Spike didn’t know if he wanted to laugh at the idea that William Clark wouldn’t start with throwing money at a problem or leave and demand Rupert tell him what the blasted watcher what exactly he’d been saying about Spike.
“I can’t say the money wouldn’t be welcome,” Spike said. Two hundred a week would keep him in blood and smokes, maybe even net him some human on a semi-regular basis. “And Xander does have a knack for getting into trouble he needs help with.” The watcher should have trained the kids better. Or maybe the council didn’t train their own all that well. That’d make sense. They don’t tend to want to keep slayers around for long on average. Buffy was something of an exception to the norm, and the council had nothing to do with that. “I’m not sure why you’d trust me with this, however.”
William studied Spike carefully. “Call it a gut feeling.”
A shiver ran down the vampire’s spine.
“Thank you,” Spike said to Joyce as she politely left him alone in the kitchen with the phone and a mug of hot chocolate, spiked with rum. Smart woman.
Shit, it was going to take a lot more than a bit of rum to make this conversation palatable.
“Angel investigations. We help the hopeless.”
Ah, Cordelia. “Cheerleader, put the poof on.”
“Who is this?”
“Spike. Look I need to —”
She hung up. On him. Spike took the phone away from his ear for a moment and stared at it. Well, last time she saw him he had been over that gem of Amarra issue.
He sipped his hot chocolate (and rum) and tried to remember on what terms she’d parted with Xander.
Bad at first. I remember him saying that. Loudly. But didn’t something about a prom dress help sort things out? Not that much, but some/?
“Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless.”
“Did anyone in Sunnydale call and let you know Xander’s father tried to beat his mother to death?” He spat the words out quickly, hoping he’d catch her interest. Seemed likely none of the bints in town would have kept in touch, and Xander was busy between the hospital, hotel, and apartment hunting.
“Oh my god. Is Jessica okay?”
Gotcha. “Recovering. The doctors are really hopeful.”
“How do you know?” Cordelia asked suspiciously. “You’re not exactly one of the gang.”
“We were watching movies when it happened, Xan and me. Things change. She’s recovering, but I bet Xander would love to hear from you. You do have his cell number, don’t you?”
Ah, that triggered a frantic shuffling for paper and pen. And she was Angel’s secretary?
After rattling off the number, and adding more about Jessica’s prognosis, Spike pleaded before she could hang up, “Really, I do need to talk to me sire.”
“Planning to apply hot pokers again?”
“Things have changed. I don’t know what you know about things around here the last year—”
“Please. It’s partly for Xander.”
“And why would you do anything for Xander?” The phone clicked again before he could reply, but this time instead of a dial tone he heard a ring.
“This is Angel.”
“Oh thank Hades. I thought I’d never make it past your watch dog.”
Damn, Spike almost wished he were there to see Angel’s reaction in person. The look on his face… “Need a favor.”
Angel sucked in an unneeded breath. “And just why should I do a favor for you? Last time we saw each other you tortured me. Threatened my friends the time before that.”
“And you tried to destroy the world the time before that.” Oh, Spike hadn’t meant to say that. Or any such thing.
Angel sighed. “What do you want, William?”
“Things have changed,” Spike said, feeling a bit like a broken record. “I need an identity.”
“What?” Utter disbelief filled Angel’s voice.
“Damn it, Angel. I know you know what those government goons did to me.”
Angel snickered. Bastard.
Spike growled. “I’m more neutered than you. Damn it, I need a life.”
“And what will you do with it?”
“Live,” Spike snapped. “Help the slayer since I seem throughly sucked in. Train the boy, because his grandfather asked me to.”
“Last I heard you’d thrown in with Adam.”
“Yes, and that turned out so well.” Spike couldn’t resist the sarcasm. “Look… Sire, your childe begs a boon. I… I have been given a chance… I need a legal presence in this modern world.”
Well, that wasn’t a threat. “Xander’s father put his mother in the hospital. I was a witness.’
Angel growled, but didn’t interrupt.
“I need an identity if I’m called to testify. And for the life I want to build.”
“Xander seems to be coming up a lot.”
It was Spike’s turn to sigh. “I could say you gave him to me.”
“You could,” Angel growled.
“But that won’t get me anywhere with the soul.”
“No, it won’t.”
“I….” Spike considered his options, the lines, the lies. “For the first time in a long time… I feel like William.
William leaned back in his seat, studying Xander, studying the hotel room, studying Spike. “That’s quite a story,” he said at last.
Xander laughed. “I know. I was fifteen and face to face with one,a nd I didn’t want to believe.”
“I’m not sure why you’ve told me this tale.”
“Because I want you to understand me. And anything Mom comes up with. I think she knows more than she’s said. And I want you to understand Anya… if she stays.”
William shook his head, looking worried. “I’m not so easily convinced. Yes, your medical records are worrying, and yes, this town has some issues. However—
“I know,” Xander cut in. “I could take you into the cemetery and let you see what happens, but I’d rather not.”
“I should thing so,” William said, quite haughtily. “Xander, I know you wanted to come back here, but—”
“That’s why I brought Spike with me.”
They both looked over at Spike. “Pardon?” William asked.
“All those odd things Rupert’s been saying about me? Easy to explain.” Spike smiled, and shifted to demon face. “I’m a vampire.”