Thanks to [info]theladymerlin for the great beta!





Lovable Losers


by
Lusciousxander



5 Boyfriend Vs Vampire


Dana didn't look surprised at all to see Xander sitting in front of his apartment door with a duck-shaped tin-foil doggie bag on his lap. The second Xander spotted Dana; he jumped to his feet, which was a bad move on his part. Not only did he have a head rush, but his right leg was completely asleep that he lost balance and watched as his face was about to meet the floor.

His face didn't meet the floor.

Dana's strong arm crossed over his chest and pushed him up. Xander looked up into the gray eyes that reflected sorrow and regret. His breath was caught as he was lost in their depth, cutting through him, unable to look away.

Xander blinked out of his stupor and pushed Dana's arm away gently. He limped back a step and smiled faintly. Dana returned his smile, and they both looked at the duck-shaped foils in their hands and chuckled.

Xander smiled up at Dana. "You wanna... uh, eat?"

Dana nodded. "Sure."

As Xander turned to the door, he felt Dana's hand grabbing his arm. "Xander?"

Xander looked at the floor. "Hmm?"

"I didn't mean to yell at you. I was out of line. I'm sorry."

Xander looked back at him, his heart raced at the honest regret that clouded Dana's expression. He took a step forward, standing face to face with Dana, and then leaned up to plant his lips on his. Dana held him close and kissed back, his arms tightening around him joyfully.

Xander smiled through the kiss. Everything was going to be all right.



~*~*~*~



Not so much.

"You didn't answer my question," Xander said with a hint of irritation, holding the covers so tight his knuckles began to ache. They hadn't eaten the leftovers. That kiss in the hallway turned into passionate love-making, one where Dana gave all the love. Now it was time for Xander to return the favor, if Dana wasn't such a bolshie pinhead.

Dana sighed in annoyance and pulled the covers over himself.

Xander yanked the covers away from his face and glared down at his tightly shut eyes. "Why don't you want me to do you?"

Dana's lips were a tense thin line and he scooted to the edge of the bed, giving him his back.

The air in the room seemed to grow measurably thicker, and a painful lump caught in Xander's throat. "Why is it so difficult? Do I disgust you?"

"I never said that," Dana's reply was muffled by the pillow.

"The last guy I've been with was," Xander said.

Dana suddenly jolted up on the bed and looked at him with heated eyes. "I'm not that guy. You know I'm not."

Xander stared back at Dana's eyes, a little surprised to see them flaring with hurt at the comparison. That hurt, though, didn't come close to how Xander felt at the moment. "To be honest," he said tightly. "I don't see much of a difference."

Xander jumped out of bed and didn't take much time finding his clothes in Dana's extremely clean apartment. He pulled on his boxers and then his pants in a hurry. He didn't bother buttoning his shirt as he walked to the door.

"Xander."

His hand froze on the doorknob and his heart started beating with hope. He turned around to look at Dana, who held up his leftover dinner.

"Your duck," the idiot said simply.

Xander shook angrily before exploding in rage and stormed out of the apartment.


~*~*~*~



Buffy and Willow weren't in their dorm room, and Xander had no patience to go around UC Sunnydale's enormous campus looking for them. They were probably still in the cemetery, getting their slay on. He climbed the stairs to Giles' place and hoped his friends weren't having a Scooby meeting without him or that would be the last straw.

Pushing Giles' door open, Xander stopped walking at once, his leg frozen in the air with his foot hanging a couple of inches above the floor.

Lilac scented candles filled the apartment immersing it with a golden glow. Rose petals were scattered on the floor, spread into a trail leading to the stairs. A familiar feminine laugh drifted from the bedroom sending shudders of dread down Xander's spine.

He shook his head slowly. "This can't be real," he whispered in a haunted voice.

The bedroom's door swung open, and Xander's heart dropped to his guts. Anya sauntered out of the bedroom in a maroon bathrobe with a fulfilled expression on her face, singing Let's Talk about Sex.

"Anya," Xander exclaimed.

Anya gasped, her hand smacking her chest. Giles's head popped out of the bedroom, looking at Xander with wide eyes.

The sight of Giles' messy hair made Xander whisper, "I thought you hated roses after Jenny's death."

Giles cleared his throat. "Uh, Anya insisted that the past should be, uh, put behind."

Anya nodded. "All that matters is the future." She smiled at Giles lovingly. "And he's my future."

Giles smiled back awkwardly.

Xander shook angrily before exploding in rage and stormed out of the apartment.




~*~*~*~




The Bronze was too crowded tonight. Must be Friday. Not being a student anymore made him unaware of the days. Not to mention, he usually got fired before Sunday, so he'd rarely got to feel the thrill of a day off. Would that be why he didn't find his friends in their dorm room? They'd probably headed to a frat party after a hard night of slaying and didn't mention it to him so that Dana wouldn't crush their self-esteem with his indecorous comments.

A man finally left a chair at the bar and Xander leapt to it like Giles on a jelly. He slammed against the counter, his forehead thumbing on the surface. He smacked his forehead again for thinking about Giles after the incident in his apartment that shall remain nameless.

He waited for the waiter to pay him some attention, though he could sympathize with all these crudely demanding people. He'd been a bartender once after all. Besides, he couldn't stop thinking about what happened with Dana. He shouldn't be surprised, Dana had always acted like the alpha male, and then there was the whole bragging about tearing his exes' holes and the fact that no one ever screwed him. Dana had admitted from the beginning that he always dominated, so Xander had no right to be upset now. Still, he couldn't be in an unequal relationship, he just couldn't. But... but Dana really liked him. He'd showed that on multiple occasions. They'd been dating for almost a week, and Xander hadn't felt this happy for a long time. Why couldn't it be perfect? Why must there be a catch in everything?

Fingers snapped in front of him, and Xander's startled eyes met the waiter's. Blinking his thoughts away, Xander tried to pull a confident face. "Can I have a beer?"

"Can I have an ID?" the man said, straight-faced.

Xander knew better than to argue. He sighed. "Gimme a soda."

The waiter's satisfied nod irritated him. How come eighteen wasn't the legal age to drink beer when it was the legal age to vote? He didn't care about who ruled the United States, all he cared about was losing himself in the comfort of an alcoholic beverage.

"I can get you that beer if you want," a husky voice whispered in his ear.

Xander gritted his teeth. "What the hell are you doing here?"

Spike leaned against the bar, resting on it with his elbow. He was a mess: his clothes all wet and his face bruised. And he looked like he wanted to gnash Xander's teeth. Xander squirmed under Spike's hard gaze, recalling the state he left him in the basement.

"Well, let's see," Spike began. "First, you caused a flood and I had to keep my fine bum from getting wet. And then I had to endure twenty minutes of your father slagging me off – he's not exactly pleased with finding a nude man handcuffed to your bed..."

Xander whimpered and thumbed his head against the counter again. This time his forehead hit an abandoned slice of lemon.

"Then he flogged me and kicked my bum across the yard. Unfortunately, a couple of regulars at Willy's Place happened to pass by and witness my humiliation. As if I wasn't already the laughing stock of the demon community."

Xander's nose rubbed against the counter as he half-listened to Spike and half –mostly- listened to his panicking mind. His father saw Spike naked on his bed. Xander caused a flood. His father SAW Spike naked on his bed. Naked man-flesh handcuffed to Xander's bed.

Xander abruptly sat up, the slice of lemon sticking on his forehead slipped to the floor. "I can't go home now," he said, realization hitting him hard. His father would kill him especially since he was late on the rent.

"Serves you right," Spike spit out. "Shouldn't have rejected my offer. Not sure how you possibly resisted the nudity perfection."

"God, that image." Xander grimaced in disgust. "Makes me wanna wash my eyes out with borax."

Spike's jaw muscles tightened. "Didn't complain much last time," he mumbled defensively.

Xander stared at Spike, trying to figure out what the hell he was playing at. Last time, Spike made it absolutely clear that Xander was the last person he wanted to screw, and he wouldn't have thought about it if he had other options. Why was Spike so fixated on sleeping with him again? And he didn't mind Xander topping this time. What was going on inside that bleached head?

Xander blinked out of his thoughts when Spike handed him a glass of beer. He looked at Spike suspiciously, and Spike nodded at the beer in his hand. Xander pushed the glass away. "I'm not sleeping with you, Spike," he said.

Spike frowned in confusion.

"That was the mistake of my life," Xander declared, taken aback by the flash of hurt that passed Spike's face. "And that's not all. I can't cheat on my significant other. Did it twice. Never again."

Spike stared at him for a moment and then nodded, leaning back against the counter again and dirking his beer. Xander looked away, noticing his soda which sat there untouched. He looked between it and the glass of beer Spike had bought for him. His hand slipped up on the counter and reached for the beer, Xander kept his gaze on it, not daring to glance at Spike.

This wasn't the first time he drank beer. He'd always been curious, watching his parents devour every alcoholic beverage they could afford. The taste was too awful when he was ten, all right when he was fourteen, and not so bad when he was sixteen. Right now, it was just what he needed.

"You're going back to his flat?" Spike asked all of a sudden, nodding to the waiter for a refill.

Xander glanced at him and then shook his head. "No."

Spike crossed his arms, leaning his back against the counter. "Where will you spend the night?"

Xander sighed. "I don't know." He took another swallow from his beer, watching out of the corner of his eye the waiter who demanded his ID, glaring at him. Xander wanted to stick out his tongue but feared the man would make a scene or worse ban him from the Bronze.

"You know, my crypt is open," Spike suggested, drinking a second glass of beer.

Xander threw him a look. "No way."

"Don't be such a ninny. You've nowhere else to go."

"Spike, I'm not sleeping anywhere where you can weasel your way into my pants."

"Hey, I can't force you to do anything you don't want. Chip, remember?" Spike placed his glass on the counter and then smirked at Xander. "Unless you do fancy another shag."

Xander narrowed his eyes. "No."

"Then what's your problem?"

Xander narrowed his eyes more, having a staring match with Spike, which he lost. He released a defeated sigh. He had nowhere else to go and couldn't afford the smallest room in the smallest inn in Sunnydale. Guess he had to suck it up and accept Spike's offer, and keep his guard up all night. Spike might act civil, but he was a mischievous, manipulative evil vampire. Xander was obviously in for a night of unpleasant surprises.

He groaned.



~*~*~*~



Spike shot Xander a scornful stare as the idiot scurried behind him to the cemetery, trying to keep a distance between them. He'd hold in a snicker at the way Xander would jump whenever he stopped to light a cigarette or put it out. There was also the silence. From the few weeks he'd known him, Xander struck him as someone who waffled on about anything –even when he was nervous- so the lack of yakking was something to be measured. Unless the twit thought that Spike would jump him in the sidewalk, which was extreme and damaging to Spike's already ruined reputation, what the hell was he afraid of? Spike couldn't hurt him, and Xander had rubbed that fact in Spike's face any chance he got.

So, what was it? Did he fear his rotten boyfriend would catch him strolling in the moonlit night with a handsome vampire? The wanker was more of a "fist first, ask questions later" kind of git. Still, Spike doubted that Bland Chef would even consider looking for Xander in the cemeteries.

And how appalling it was that Xander's anxiety got on his nerves instead of filling him with pride. Since when did he care about Xander's sodding feelings and worries? He should be pleased he still evoked negative emotions in someone. Especially someone who knew he was unable to hurt him.

Spike grunted and pushed the metal door creaking it open. He sniffed the air, making sure Harmony wasn't around. She'd dust herself dead if she saw him back home with the dweeb – on second thoughts. He waited for Xander to walk in before closing the door, rolling his eyes when Xander flinched as their shoulders rubbed against each other.

Xander couldn't wait for Spike to open the other door for him, so he did it himself, almost knocking down the wooden door. He stopped at the door, not daring take a step inside. Spike arched an eyebrow at Xander's narrowed eyes that examined every inch of the crypt.

Noticing Spike's look, Xander explained, "Just checking if I'd recognize anything that belongs to my basement."

Spike scoffed. "Hardly." He walked toward the table next to the TV and picked up a bottle of whiskey and as he was about to drink straight from the bottle he paused a second, thinking about asking Xander if he wanted some. He mentally sneered at the idea and rubbed his tonsils with real alcohol. That weeble bollocks he drank at the Bronze was more suitable for a ponce like Xander.

"Nice place, Spike," the ponce commented as he finally mustered the courage to walk further into the crypt. "I especially like the odd and unmatching furniture. Gives the place a touch of dump."

Spike stopped drinking and wiped his lips with the back of his hand, frowning at Xander. "You're the one to talk. That blinding red chair clashing with your blinding colored shirts scattered everywhere." He took a long swallow before he tossed the empty bottle to the floor joining its friends.

"Speaking of scattered, all these empty liquor bottles on the floor, it's like I haven't left home."

Spike looked around at the mess of broken bottles all over his crypt and turned his attention to one smug looking Xander. "Wanna go back?" he asked, petulant.

Xander's body stiffened and his eyes widened in horror. He shook his head so fast his mess of a hair bounced everywhere. "I'll behave." He flashed Spike one of his daft grins that made Spike wonder when the sod started loosening up. He acted more at ease now than he did outside, which was odd considering that he was alone with Spike inside a burial chamber where no one could see them.

Perhaps the key word was see, Xander didn't want to be seen with Spike. It wasn't just the chef, but also Xander's chums. He didn't want his mates witnessing him tagging along with a former mass-murdering currently pathetic excuse of a vampire? How shameful and humiliating it was.

Spike's jaw set in a firm line at that thought. He turned away so that he wouldn't vomit the Whiskey looking at Xander's revolting smile. He stared at the ladder leading to his bedroom, knowing that a few seconds from now Xander's smile would vanish completely. "So, I've only got one bed downstairs."

"Not gonna happen."

Spike smiled briefly despite himself and then turned to find Xander's horrified yet determined expression intact. "Did I say anything?"

Xander shook his head. "Doesn't need to be said, Spike." He lifted a finger. "One bed. Will not sleep on it."

Spike shrugged. "Got a better idea?"

Xander looked around the crypt, searching for a couch or something he could sleep on. A small smile of triumph rose to his lips. "I'll sleep on a coffin."

Spike snorted derisively. "You sure about that, mate? It'll be all hard and uncomfortable." He leered, his tongue lolling out of his mouth and his eyebrows arched suggestively.

Xander's nose scrunched up. "Only you, Spike, can make a coffin sound dirty."

"It is dirty."

"Not what I meant."

"What did you mean?"

"Spike," Xander said tiredly.

Spike nodded with a lopsided smile. "Fine, I'll get you a blanket." He took off his duster and walked to the ladder.

"And a pillow. And a bed sheet."

Spike threw a look at Xander over his shoulder.

Xander grinned sheepishly. "No bed sheet."

Spike cursed and climbed down the ladder, jumping half way to the floor. He'd gone insane obviously, because there was no plausible explanation to having that lousy excuse for humanity ordering him around in his own home. His thrice-damned brain saw nothing wrong with obeying either. The fact that he was fancying that spotty youth - though Xander wasn't really spotty, and he was a year short to becoming twenty – oh, bugger!

Spike grabbed a pillow and a blanket flinging them on his shoulder. He eyed the bed sheet for a moment and with an eye roll he snatched it off his bed, leaving the mattress uncovered. He couldn't deny it anymore, not even to himself. He could think of as many insulting nicknames for Xander, but the matter of fact was he wanted him so bad he couldn't help it. He wanted to rip the chef's heart out of his body and break it in half and squeeze both halves hard and toss them to the floor and stomp them to nothingness.

A hiss broke him out of his murdering thoughts, and a snicker was about to burst out of his lips at the sight of Xander trying to get comfortable on the coffin. The silly sod was turning and tossing, ramming his elbow on the rough surface which forced an unmanly whimper out of his mouth.

Spike smirked. "If you stop being stubborn there's a comfortable bed down that ladder."

Xander froze, looking at Spike. He patted the coffin with a grin. "I'm okay. I'm comfy."

Spike dumped the pillow and sheets on his head. "Suit yourself."

Turning around, he headed to the ladder and grabbed another bottle of whiskey on the way. He glanced at Xander and watched him arrange the pillow and blanket on top of the bed sheet. He kicked off his shoes and climbed on the coffin, giving Spike his back and trying to get comfortable.

A soft smile made its way to Spike's lips before he forced his features to harden. He was unquestionably out of his wit.






~*~*~*~





Xander dragged his feet down the sidewalk, his hands stuffed in his pockets seeking warmth as the cold breeze blew strongly this morning. Winter in Sunnydale was mostly in the early morning and late at night, and right now it was 8:30. He'd woken up about half an hour ago, feeling sore all over his body, so sore he had to do a full stretch to crack a lot of bones. He didn't waste his time trying to click his neck and ran out of the crypt before Spike woke up.

He couldn't help the pang of guilt that was surging through him. Spike had been good to him yesterday, too good for a vampire, and running out on him like that didn't feel right. But he needed to get out of there. Somehow the crypt was airless, and Xander felt so scared and discomfited he couldn't breathe. He wanted to believe that it was the air of death that surrounded the place or the fact that Spike might do something crazy again, but Xander wasn't sure that was it. All he knew was that he was too terrified to stay there any longer.

He kicked an empty soda can on the sidewalk and watched it roll to the middle of the street. He couldn't go home. His parents would be asleep by now, but his basement would be a huge wetty mess. The thought of his father sleeping in front of the door like a police dog waiting for him to show up made his skin run prickly up the back of his neck.

He sure as hell couldn't go to Giles' place knowing that he was playing porno star with Anya. He tried to block all the disturbing images that started popping in his head, covering his ears with his hands, squeezing his eyes shut and shaking his head hard. He had to sing for Anya's contented face to disappear, and scream for Giles' orgasm face to be erased out of existence in his mind.

"Xander!"

Xander stopped screaming when he heard someone shouting his name. His eyes were still closed, and for a second he thought he was imagining things until the voice yelled his name again.

Xander panicked, recognizing that voice and was on the verge of running away when he opened his eyes and saw Dana right in front of him.

Dana was out of breath for a moment, looking like he hadn't slept all night. "I've been looking for you everywhere," he said that through pants.

Xander felt a tug of annoyance deep within him, desperately wishing he was anywhere else. "Why aren't you at work?"

"It's Sunday."

"Oh." So, yesterday wasn't Friday. Not that it mattered, though it was good to know that he didn't need to go to work tonight.

"I went to your house..."

Xander blinked out of his thoughts, looking at Dana with wide eyes. "What?"

"Your house..." Dana repeated unsurely. "Your basement is a pool now."

Xander felt his heart dropping out of his pants and rolling to the street where some car could run over it and squash it into an undiscriminating squish of mass. "You saw the basement?"

"Yeah, I was able to save some of your stuff, but a lot of your comic books are ruined because of the water."

He saw his comic books! "Who the hell let you into my house?" Xander found himself yelling in an accusing tone, his body shaking with irrepressible fury.

Dana frowned. "Your mom. What..."

"You shouldn't have gone into my place without asking my permission!"

Dana's face twitched with anger. "Your what? Didn't you say we're a couple in an equal relationship?

"For a week, Dana," Xander yelled, feeling too angry he wanted to hit something. How convenient for Dana to bring up their equal relationship when it suited him and put a blind eye whenever he treated Xander like a second rate person. "We've been dating for a week. I don't have the keys to your apartment and I certainly don't remember inviting you to my house."

Dana's mouth hung in disbelief. "I was looking for you. I wanted to make things right. I wanted to apologize."

Xander stared at Dana's sincere gray eyes in stunned silence. He never doubted that Dana cared about him a great deal, yet Dana always managed to knock him for six with how much he really cared about him.

"And why haven't you invited me to your house?" Dana asked, his brows furrowed in irritation. "I should be the angry one here."

"Why do you think?" Xander muttered, feeling his cheeks flush with embarrassment. "You have the cleanest apartment, not to mention large on the size, and I live in my parents' dank-n-dark basement." He hugged himself, looking down at his feet. A wave of anger ran though him when he caught Dana's shiny black boots opposite to his washed out sneakers.

"I used to live in a basement, too, Xander." He heard Dana's gentle voice drifting to his ears and then felt his warm hand holding his trembling chin and lifting his face up to look into the clearest gray eyes he'd ever seen. "We all start from the bottom and work our way up. You haven't completed a year yet since graduating high school. You still got a long way to go."

Xander's face might be directed at Dana but his eyes were looking at anything but. He still felt humiliated that Dana had witnessed how much of a loser he was, still felt violated that his private life had been intruded into like that. He couldn't find it in his heart to forgive Dana for depriving him of his privacy.

Dana sighed and released Xander's chin. "I'm the one who should be upset here. You practically compared me to your abusive ex."

"Spike," Xander corrected. "And he wasn't exactly abusive."

"You said he made you feel inferior. I don't intend to make you feel this way."

Xander looked closely at Dana, who sounded genuinely earnest. He had no idea how controlling he would act sometimes. He hadn't the slightest idea.

Dana brushed Xander's bangs back tenderly and something inside Xander responded. He felt his head leaning to the touch in spite of himself. His heart thumped when Dana smiled down at him, and a small smile crept to his lips.

"Where did you spend the night?" Dana asked affectionately.

"Spike's," Xander answered without thinking, too caught up in the gentle caress. The second the word came out, he bit his lower lip and widened his eyes.

Dana looked unpleased, and his hand stopped stroking his hair. "Your ex?"

Xander swallowed. "You keep saying that, but he never was. He was just a onetime thing that I'll never repeat again."

"Why him? You have a lot of friends."

A bitter laugh escaped Xander's mouth. "A lot of friends? My only friends are just two college girls busy with their spectacular college life, and a middle aged man who's shaking up with my real ex." He felt his jaw muscles tense and the back of his eyes sting with unwanted tears. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from embarrassing himself. Something inside snapped, and now he understood why he couldn't stay comfortable in Spike's crypt. He was afraid of Dana knowing he was there.

Because he'd known Dana wouldn't take it well. For some strange reason, Dana thought that Spike was competition, which he wasn't. The mere idea of that was too laughable to be taken seriously.

"Dana, there's no need to be upset over this. He means nothing to me." Xander tried to touch Dana's arm, but his hand was jerked away.

Dana's lips were a tight thin line, his face etched with lines of exhaustion. "If that's true, then you wouldn't have spent the night at his place."

"Dana," Xander said faintly, watching his boyfriend walk away stiffly. He wanted to run after him and stop him, tell him that no one mattered but him. That Spike was nothing but a waste of space. But his feet were glued to the ground, and his tongue was tied inside of his mouth. He couldn't say those words, because he couldn't feel them. At least the Spike part.



~*~*~*~




Spike accepted the second shot of Jack Daniels and drank it all in one swallow. He ignored Willy's raised eyebrows and gazed around the bar resentfully. Humans and demons mingling together in one bar without an air of hostility or fear was nothing but a travesty. There could never be a truce between them. They were never meant to live together in peace. They were meant to kill and feed on each other, eliminate one and other out of existence. There should be nothing between them but hate.

Spike's eyes gleamed when he noticed a dark-haired human walking around the demons with a hint of dread twirling inside him. His thoughts took him back to this morning when he found out that Xander fled without bothering to say a thank you. That was the last time Spike even considered dealing with him. Why was he even upset that wanker took off without a trail? Good riddance. Maybe Spike could actually start acting like a vampire again, now that Xander made it clear how he thought of him.

"You seem depressed." Spike turned around to find a female shaba smiling softly at him, her slender fingers rubbing Spike's hand tenderly. There was something about shabas that attracted Spike, and it wasn't because they looked like humans. This one had a purple glow surrounding her body with a faint pink in the end of her scales that covered her chest and waist.

"Unlikely," Spike replied gruffly. Being a shaba, she could feel all kinds of emotions in others. He just hoped she wouldn't offer to heal him, though it might rid him from the degrading Xander feelings that sickened him to no end.

"You can't fool me," she said. "Someone hurt you. I can feel it."

Spike nodded to Willy and smacked the bill on the counter, slipping off of the stool chair and heading to the exit. He wasn't in the mood for a shrink; all he wanted was a good strong drink and lose himself in his thoughts. That shaba wouldn't have left him alone.

Spike pushed the door closed behind him and his hand instinctively went to his pocket, searching for his pack and lighter. His hand froze in place. Slipping out of the shadows, Chit-name stood before him with his beefy arms crossing his chest.

"What brings you here?" Spike asked, panicking a little and trying not to glance at the bar.

"Knew your type hangs in sleazy places like this."

Spike wasn't sure how much Xander told his beau about creatures of the night, but he had a hunch that chef boyfriend was utterly clueless. "That doesn't answer my question."

Dana took a step forward and literally spit the question, "What's your game, dickhead?"

Spike wiped his face with disgust. "I don't do games, mate."

"Right. You're obviously a saint. You'd never use other people for your own games."

"What are you on about?"

"Xander," Dana gritted out. "Stay away from him."

Spike's nostrils flared. "I think that's for Xander to decide. You're not his keeper."

"Quit the bullshit. I saw you hiding last night, spying on us." He took an angry step forward. "You're after Xander and I won't allow it."

Spike pursed his lips, glancing briefly at the ground, and then stood face to face with Dana, feeling his hot breath hitting his cold cheeks. "Suppose I'm after Xander, what are you gonna do about it?"

Dana tilted his head ominously. "I can smash your face."

"Be my guest," Spike challenged.

Dana's brawny hands grabbed Spike's collar in tight fists and pulled him up to his eye level. His eyes were bloodshot with rage and his teeth gritted together as he glared at Spike.

Spike smirked. "You can't do it, can you?"

"I can and I'll show you."

"You know what your problem is? You're unconfident."

Dana released an amused laugh. "Unconfident? Me?"

"About your thing with the boy. If what you have is real then you wouldn't be here threatening me, 'cause all we ever had was a fling." Spike felt Dana's hands loosening around him. "But you know there's more to it. You know you stand no chance against me."

"No!" The angry fists were back, but this time shaking uncontrollably. "You're the one who doesn't get it. Next time you ask Xander to sleep in your rat hole, I'll give your pasty face a bunch of colors, you hear me?"

Spike couldn't shake the smug smile off his face even though there was a good chance he was going to get his nuts kicked. "Not scaring me, mate."

Captain Bland-face was glaring so hard Spike thought the vein in his forehead would blow up. Spike didn't deny that he enjoyed setting the bloke's blood straight to boil. His hands were shaking and his fists clenched on Spike's collar. This was probably the most satisfying sight he'd seen in months.

The door behind him swung open suddenly. "Hey, you haven't left," the shaba asked with delight.

Dana let go of him at once, his eyes growing so wide with shock and horror. "What... who... what the hell..."

Spike cursed and glared at her. "Get inside."

Dana looked between them, aghast. "You... you know that thing?"

Spike narrowed his eyes at him, feeling a little ticked off. "Not really. But I'm a thing, too." He felt his face slipping into his vampire planes.

Dana jumped back, horrified. "Jesus Christ." His whole body shook with fear and he started waving Spike off with his hand. "Get off of me."

Spike stepped in front of him with a smirk. "I'm nowhere near you."

Dana was too scared to comprehend and he started defending himself by throwing one blow after another. Spike found himself smacked against the wall, his face stinging everywhere, and then Dana wrestled him up against the wall. Punches and kicks landed on him continually and showed no sign of stopping. Spike didn't even have the time to cover his face.

"Stop it! Stop!" He heard the shaba chit snap at Dana.

"What's going on in there?" Willy's voice came next, sounding stronger and thicker than usual.

The abuse stopped at once and Spike felt himself sliding to the floor. He opened one eye with difficulty, seeing Dana facing Willy and pointing at Spike with a shaking finger.

"Freaks. They're freaks."

"What did you do?" Willy sounded appalled, looking at Spike with wide eyes. He glared up at Dana. "I hope you're not planning on coming in and beating up my costumers."

"You mean there are more of them in there?" Spike's vision was going blurry, but he could see spots of blood on Dana's fist.

"Willy's Place welcomes all kinds of creatures."

There was a moment of silence. "I'm calling the police."

"They know about us. All they ask us is to keep the growls on mute."

A warm hand touched Spike's sore cheek, and he felt a tender thumb drawing small soothing circles on his cheekbone. Spike couldn't turn his head to see the shaba, so he relaxed to her touched, and felt himself slipping to oblivion. That was until a rough boot kicked his thigh.

"That's... that's unbelievable," Dana said in disbelief mingled with disgust. "That thing... that thing touched Xander." The fists were back to his collar, pulling him up to his feet. "Son of bitch!"

Dana punched him in the jaw this time, and Spike grunted in pain.

"Stop it now," Willy demanded.

Dropping to the floor, Spike saw faintly the shaba demon standing between him and Dana, holding up a hand in front of him. A purple glow shined brightly and Dana's rigid expression melted away.

"What? What..." he gasped in confusion.

"Go home," she ordered thickly.

Dana turned around like an empty shell and walked away. Spike would have felt relief if it wasn't for the pain throbbing all over his body.

As his vision started to fade to black, he made out blonde hair appearing. He heard the Slayer's voice asking, "Willy, have you seen... Spike? What happened?"




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