Red and blue lights strobed behind him, and for a brief, giddy moment, Spike considered jamming his foot on the accelerator. But there were no cliffs handy and he had no Thelma to his Louise, and that rational adult voice in his head—the one he’d finally begun listening to—told him to pull off to the side. So he did, cutting the engine. He didn’t reach for his license and registration, not yet. He knew some cops got edgy if you started fumbling in pockets and glove boxes.

The officer took his time approaching the driver’s side window, and Spike groaned aloud when he saw who it was. He rolled down his window.

“Afternoon, Mr. Pratt,” said the cop. He wasn’t smiling but his lips looked as if they might curve upward at any moment. “I’m not gonna ask you if you know how fast you were going because the last two times you didn’t and I’m betting you haven’t gotten any more observant since then. Does the speedometer even work in this old heap?” He patted the DeSoto’s door as if the car were a horse.

Spike squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them with what he hoped was an obsequious and innocent smile. “It couldn’t have been that bad. Loads of cars were passing me.”

“Fifty-one in a thirty-five zone, and I don’t care what the other cars were doing. The speed limit’s clearly posted. They have miles per hour where you come from, Mario Andretti? You do understand the signs, right?”

“I come from England and we invented miles,” Spike replied through gritted teeth.

“Well, see? And I thought maybe you were used to kilograms or something.” Now the officer grinned and pulled a pad of tickets from his pocket. “License and registration please, sir.”

Spike began to reach for his wallet and then stopped. The rational voice was telling him not to do anything stupid, not to fuck things up even worse; but one of the other voices—ah, that would be Gibbering Fear—told him to go for broke. He tried another smile on the officer. “Perhaps… perhaps I could persuade you to overlook my mistake. Just this once.”

The cop cocked his head. “That wouldn’t be an attempt at bribery, would it, Mr. Pratt? Because the members of the Sunnydale PD pride ourselves on our honesty.”

“Not bribery.” Which was true, strictly speaking. He didn’t have enough dosh to pay anyone off anyway. He took a breath and turned his smile into a leer. “But we could… reach an understanding.”

He wasn’t proud of himself. But it wouldn’t be the first time he’d fucked himself out of a tight spot, and the officer was young and handsome. Bending over for him wouldn’t be such a chore.

The cop gave him a long, expressionless look and then shook his head. “Also against the rules, Mr. Pratt.”

“But who would know? Just the two of us and I won’t say a word.”

“I’d know,” said the cop as if that settled everything, and he flipped open his citation book. “License and registration, please.”

Spike handed him the documents and leaned back in his seat, awash in despair that threatened to drown him. “Look mate,” he finally said. “I’m sorry I was speeding. But if I get another ticket I’ll be sacked and I really, truly need this job.” That was no lie. Night watchman at Restview Cemetery wasn’t exactly his dream position, but it paid well enough for him to afford his rathole flat and tuition at the community college, and he sometimes even managed to get a bit of studying done on the job. One more ticket meant he’d lose his license and wouldn’t be able to get to work. He’d be stuck slaving away at a Stop ’n’ Rob or flipping burgers at Doublemeat Palace, and his dreams of transferring to UC Sunnydale in the autumn would be neatly flushed away.

“Please. Let it go, just this once.” If Spike had been a praying man, he’d have indulged. But he figured that whatever god or gods existed had long since lost interest in him, and the best he could hope for was good luck and a bit of kindness. He didn’t often get either.

The officer stared at him a minute or two longer and then snapped the citation book shut.

Spike heaved a sigh of relief. “Cheers, mate. Really, I appreciate this.”

“If I catch you speeding again I’m gonna hit you with everything I got.”

“Yeah, yeah, all right. Fair enough. I’ll watch myself.”

The cop gave a short nod. “See that you do, Mr. Pratt.”

Spike smiled at him. “’S Spike, Officer Harris.”


Xander waited for the DeSoto to pull back into traffic—very carefully—before he returned to his patrol car and slid into the driver’s seat. His partner was filling out paperwork and barely glanced up. “That was Billy Idol again, wasn’t it?” she said.

“Yep.” He turned the key and shifted into gear.

“Wasn’t that, like, the fourth time we’ve pulled him over in the last couple months?”

“Only the third.”

She sighed. “More to write up. We’re never gonna get home tonight.”

“I didn’t give him a ticket,” Xander replied as he started to drive away.

“Xander! What’d he do, bat those baby blues at you?”

He decided not to dignify that with an answer. Some of the other guys were reluctant to partner up with Buffy Summers. She was tiny and had pert good looks, and they assumed she was useless in the field. But Xander knew she had a black belt in at least two martial arts and a better average on the shooting range than anyone on the force. There was nobody he’d rather have at his back. Although he wasn’t exactly in the closet, she was the only one he felt comfortable discussing his sex life with, and she was just happy she didn’t have to worry about him making passes at her when they were supposed to be working. It was a good partnership overall and she was a good friend, but she could sometimes be a little unyielding about the rules, a little too unsympathetic to guys who were maybe just down on their luck.

“I cut him a break,” Xander said. “He promised he won’t speed anymore.”

She snorted. “Yeah, right. And for my birthday I’m getting a sparkly unicorn that craps rainbows. Join the real world, Xan.”

“Sometimes the real world sucks.”

That made her sigh. “Yeah. It totally does. C’mon. Let’s make sure things are quiet downtown and then we can head in.”

So Xander made a left at the next light and they spent the next fifteen minutes or so cruising the center of the city. College students were hanging out at the Espresso Pump and kids from Sunnydale High were clustered outside the Bronze, but they weren’t doing anything more dangerous than smoking illicit cigarettes and Xander decided to let that go too. He wasn’t about to fill out more paperwork over a pack or two of Marlboros. Xander had grown up in Sunnydale and once upon a time he’d been one of those kids too, trying to look cool in his cheap clothes, finding places to go where nobody yelled at him in a drunken rage. He’d passed his thirtieth birthday a few months ago and there were days he felt ancient.

“I hate this shift,” Buffy announced petulantly. “Nothing going on. I’m gonna ask to switch.”

“Sorry there’s nobody to beat up, Buff.”

“It’s all right. I have a date tonight anyway.” As Xander stopped for a red light, she poked him in the bicep. “Wanna join us? It’s just dinner and a movie.”

“Third wheel much? No thanks.”

“Angel won’t mind. He thinks you’re cool.”

“Angel thinks you’re cool and he’s willing to put up with me for your sake. It’s fine, Buff. I have a thrilling evening planned. I just bought season one of Game of Thrones on Blu-ray.” He didn’t add that he thought Angel was kind of a dick. The guy treated Buffy well enough, but in Xander’s opinion he had some serious control issues around other men.

The station wasn’t far from downtown. He and Buffy sat together for a full hour, drinking bad coffee and filling out forms, and then he changed out of uniform and into jeans and a tee. Buffy was always going on about how she wanted to make detective, and no doubt she eventually would, but Xander liked wearing the blues and working the streets. He liked being the first on the scene and giving speeches about stranger danger to wide-eyed grade-schoolers. He liked listening to little old ladies complain about their neighbors’ messy yards and giving the stink-eye to teenagers and talking to neighborhood watches. He liked driving around in his cruiser and seeing what was what.

While Xander was still tying his sneakers, Buffy had transformed herself from no-nonsense cop to an attractive young woman in a short skirt, clingy top, and expensive boots. She’d taken her hair out of the ponytail and put on lipstick. If Xander had swung that way she would have floated his boat for sure. As it was, they wished each other a good night and headed for their vehicles: Buffy to her Jeep and Xander to his Focus. Not for the first time, he yearned for something sportier. Would he look stupid in a Corvette?

Dusk was just falling and Xander was hungry. He abandoned his pizza plans and detoured by In-N-Out instead. He sat in the parking lot with his burger and fries, vowing that he’d eat less fast food and spend more time at the gym. Definitely. Starting tomorrow. When his food was gone he licked the salt and grease from his fingers and tossed the trash away before heading towards home.

By then it was fully dark out. But Sunnydale’s streets were well lit and as he waited for a stoplight on Fifth, there was no mistaking the identity of the battered black car that went flying by on Laguna.

Xander was off duty. He didn’t have his radar gun or patrol car; he’d even left his citation book in his locker at the station. He should have just gone home to his beloved TV. But he was pissed off. He’d fallen for William Pratt’s feigned distress and empty promises, and the bleached-blond fucker hadn’t even kept to the speed limit for the rest of the day. Without really deciding to do so, Xander turned right onto Laguna and followed the DeSoto.

Because Xander wasn’t a detective, he had no experience at tailing people nonchalantly. Fortunately, traffic was light and Pratt was seemingly unaware of the Focus chugging along at his tail. The DeSoto continued to race down Laguna and then turned right on Twentieth. After another half dozen blocks it turned left, this time onto Monte Vista, before screeching into the parking lot of the Olive Apartments and coming to a shuddering halt in an empty spot. Xander was familiar with this particular apartment complex—they got a lot of calls there for domestic disputes, noise problems, and public drunkenness. He’d served more than a few drug warrants there as well. The place was a shithole, although he had to admit it beat his first place in his parents’ dank basement.

Xander parked his Ford a few spots down and climbed out of the car. He had to hurry to catch up with Pratt, who was heading toward the building, a battered navy backpack over one shoulder.

“You’ll watch yourself, huh?” Xander said loudly when he was a few steps behind.

Pratt jumped and whirled around. The look of alarm on his face didn’t fade much when he realized who had accosted him. “Bloody hell! Did I make it onto Sunnyhell’s Ten Most Wanted or summat?”

“Not yet.”

“What do you want then?”

“You were speeding again.”

Pratt sighed wearily. “Look, mate. Haven’t you anything better to do than—”

“I’m not your mate.”

“Right then. Look, Mr. Officer sir.” He held out his wrists in front of him. “If you’re going to drag me off to prison, get on with it. Otherwise, bugger off. I’ve fifteen minutes to grab the right books and get to my poli sci class and take a midterm.”

Xander crossed his arms on his chest. “That’s no excuse to speed. You could cause an accident. You could run over a pedestrian.”

“It’s California. There are no pedestrians.”

The guy had a point, but Xander was still pissed off. But what could he do? Arrest the jerk and drag him to jail? Pratt would just be out again within hours—probably at top speed—and Xander would have a mountain of paperwork and a lot of embarrassing explanations to make. Plus, Game of Thrones was waiting. “I meant what I said about throwing the book at you. Somebody needs to teach you a lesson.”

Pratt’s answering laughter was sharp and bitter. “I’ve learnt plenty of lessons, officer.”

Xander frowned, spun around, and marched back to his little car.


Spike was meant to be explaining the nature of the electoral college system, which wasn’t really fair. If the bloody colonists couldn’t understand their own stupidly complicated system, why should he? Give him a lovely little constitutional monarchy any day. But the exam was on the electoral college, and he was having trouble concentrating. Instead, his thoughts kept drifting to Officer Harris, who’d managed to look rather delicious clothed in righteous indignation instead of his smart uniform, and who had apparently decided that harassing Spike's driving habits would be his new hobby.

Spike hadn’t meant to speed again, he really hadn’t. But his psychology class had almost ended and he’d been mulling over the upcoming poli sci exam when he realized he’d left his book and notes at home. It was to be an open book exam, and without them he’d never pass. So he’d zoomed home as soon as psych was dismissed, and of course it was his own usual rotten luck that he’d crossed paths once again with Officer Harris.

Christ, what if Harris intended to truly focus on him now? After years of messing about and fucking up, Spike was truly attempting to get his life together and make something of himself. But sometimes there were so bloody many obstacles—such as forgotten books—and he was bound to make mistakes now and then. All it would take was a single traffic citation to bring his carefully built little life tumbling down, and he knew he’d never have the strength to pick up the pieces again.

The worst of it was that, in addition to being handsome, Harris seemed like a good enough sort. In an alternate universe the two of them might even be friends—or more. Spike didn’t know whether the cop fancied blokes, but he thought maybe he’d seen at least a flicker of interest in those brown eyes. Just a flicker. Spike could well imagine the response he’d get if he propositioned the officer. Spike was beneath him and they both knew it.

With a groan loud enough to earn him a glare from the perky ginger girl in the seat next to his, Spike tried to concentrate on his exam.

His wandering mind meant he was one of the last students to complete the exam. His professor took the papers from him with an impatient little huff, then Spike shouldered his backpack and went outside. The campus was nearly deserted this late at night, but that didn’t alarm him. After all, he spent five nights a week in the cemetery. In fact, a part of him enjoyed the quiet, the chirp of crickets, the slight rustling of the leaves in the trees. It was so different to the gritty, grimy streets where he’d grown up and the sordid slums where he’d spent his youth.  The campus felt clean and innocent. It was too good for him too.

Only a few cars were left in the car park and his own was at the far end where the shadows were deep. He didn’t see the man leaning against the nearby tree until Spike was a few feet from the DeSoto, then he very nearly let out an unmanly squeal of surprise. “You!” he snarled when he saw who it was. “Was I walking too fast as well, officer?”

Officer Harris was still not in uniform. He wore a pair of jeans, a slightly faded red t-shirt, and a tan jacket. His hair needed cutting; it was hanging in his face a bit. He wasn’t smiling. “I was thinking about you and your speeding,” he said.

Spike made a face, unlocked the car, and threw his bag onto the passenger side of the bench seat. “’M glad to know Sunnydale’s finest are so diligent.”

“To protect and to serve. So, I was thinking about how I could write you up again, but if you weren’t lying then you’d lose your job.”

“Wasn’t lying.”

“Yeah. And based on the apartment and the car and the wardrobe, I’m guessing you’re not some rich guy working just for kicks.”

Spike looked down at his black tee and jeans. “Oi. Nothing wrong with the kit.”

“What happens if you get fired?”

With a heavy sigh, Spike leaned up against his car. “I’ve enough saved to get me through the month and that’s all. After that I’m homeless. Could probably cobble together enough minimum wage positions to pay for rent and food, but then I’d have to drop out of school.”

“What are you studying?”

“English literature,” Spike replied, daring him with narrowed eyes to take the piss.

But the officer only frowned slightly. “What do you do with a degree in that?”

“Teach.” Which he’d been told was a foolish goal, and poncy as hell, but he was alive because a teacher had once taken an interest in him; and it was words that had helped him temporarily escape the various hells in which he’d lived.

“So what you’re saying is... if you lose your license, instead of Professor Pratt you’re a greeter at Walmart.”

Spike nodded curtly.

“Okay. So ticketing you is not gonna do much to advance society. But I can’t just let you go scot-free, can I? You need to be punished so that next time you’ll think twice before you redline it.”

Punished? Spike raised an eyebrow. “What did you have in mind, Officer Harris?”

The cop didn’t smile. “Follow me and you’ll see.”


As Xander led Spike across campus, it occurred to him that he might be doing something slightly insane. But he’d spent a half hour sitting in his car at Spike’s crappy apartment complex, thinking about the irritatingly attractive blond, vacillating about what to do; then he’d driven over to the community college. It hadn’t been that hard to find Spike’s car—not as though there were many DeSotos on campus. Xander had stewed some more, watching all the students walk to their cars and drive away, thinking about how young most of them seemed.

By the time Spike appeared, Xander had reached a decision. Probably a stupid one. But he had never claimed to be smart.

“Where are we going?” Spike asked as they passed through a small courtyard.

“You’ll see.”

“You know your way around this place pretty well.”

“Got my AA here a couple years ago. Majored in criminal justice.”

“Oh.” Spike swore under his breath as he almost tripped over a bit of uneven pavement. “Did you go on to university after?”

“Nope. That’s for smarter guys than me, professor.”

Spike gave him a strange look and then was silent for a few minutes. They walked behind a low building, past some dumpsters, and across a lawn, heading toward an athletic field. “You don’t mean to take me somewhere and shoot me, do you, Officer Harris?”

Xander shot Spike a grin. “Nope. If that was my plan I’d have driven you out into the country instead. Easier to dump the body that way. We’re just going somewhere… private.” He left that for the man to chew on. Possibly Spike thought Xander intended to fuck him, but Xander didn’t. Not that he wasn’t tempted. God, the man was beautiful! But Xander had never used his influence to extort sex out of anyone and he wasn’t about to start now. He wasn’t that hard up, and that kind of power game turned him off. He did find it curious, however, that Spike was willing to follow him, even suspecting that he’d get—quite literally—fucked. Had Spike really been serious about that hint of an offer he’d made when Xander had pulled him over, and had he done that kind of thing before?

The dugout was dusty and empty of everything except the benches and a few snack food wrappers. Xander sat on the nearest bench and looked up at Spike’s wary face. “Come here.”

With obvious trepidation, Spike did. He stopped just out of reach. A streetlight nearby cast just enough illumination to throw his features into stark relief and make his hair glow eerily, as if he was some sort of creature of the night. “Yeah?”

“Unbutton your jeans.”

Spike’s jaw worked. “So you mean to bugger me. That’s the price for maintaining my life, yeah? Is this a one-off or will you be using me regular like?”

“I’m not gonna have sex with you.”

“Then what?”

“Told you. Punishment.”

After Spike frowned for a moment, comprehension began to dawn on his face. “You’re barmy, mate. ’M not an infant to be turned over his daddy’s knee.”

“Good, ’cause I’m not your daddy. And mine used a belt. This is just… a lesson. For a couple days at least, you’re gonna remember it every time you sit down in your car. Maybe by the time the bruises fade you’ll have lost the leadfoot habit.”

“You’re getting off on this.”

“Not especially.” Xander grinned and decided to tell the truth. “When it comes to spankings of the sexy kind, I’d much rather be on the receiving end.”

Spike’s eyes widened. Then he looked from side to side. “You can’t mean to do this here. In public.”

“Makes it a little more humiliating, doesn’t it? The possibility of getting caught?” In truth, Xander was pretty well aware of the activities of campus security, having worked there himself before he got hired as a real cop. He knew that the guards were probably rolling slowly through the parking lots in their white cars, listening to the radio or bullshitting each other about their sexual exploits.

Spike squeezed his eyes tightly shut, and then very quickly, as if he didn’t want to risk changing his mind, unbuttoned and unzipped. He shoved his jeans and underwear down to his thighs and sort of waddled the few feet that separated them. Xander tried not to notice his soft cock, uncut and hanging from a neat little thatch of dark blond curls. And then Spike was draping himself carefully across Xander’s spread legs and Xander was distracted instead by the man’s firm, round ass.

“Get it over with,” Spike said. His voice sounded muffled and strange, maybe because his head was upside down.

Xander admired all that smooth, pale skin a moment more as he flexed his hand. “You have to count. If you lose count I’m starting over.” Words that had been spoken to him more than once when he was a boy, and he well remembered the extra little torment they caused as he was forced to cooperate in his own pain and debasement.

Spike grunted a reply. Xander hit him.

The noise of skin against skin was very loud in the dugout, and Spike jerked almost violently enough to fall off Xander’s lap. “One,” he said after a moment.

Xander quickly followed up with five more swats. He didn’t hold back much on the force of them and his palm stung. In the cool night air, Spike’s ass was already nice and warm, and Xander was a little disappointed that it was too dark for him to properly evaluate the redness he knew was there. But he could hear the slight hitch in Spike’s rough breathing, the way the man was prefacing each count with a swallowed moan.

“Seven,” Spike grunted as Xander hit him again. “Hard hand, innit?”

“Used to work construction.” He still swung a hammer on his days off, actually. He’d bought a wreck of a house about a year earlier and was gradually making it livable. He hit Spike again, the blow smacking against the meatiest portions of both cheeks.

“Ugh! Eight.”

Spike didn’t attempt more conversation after that, just shouted numbers and increasingly loud groans. Xander’s hand began to truly hurt, but still he enjoyed the feeling of the firm flesh, not to mention the way Spike felt when he tried desperately not to wiggle. Xander decided he’d still prefer to be on the receiving end, but giving was a lot more fun than he’d anticipated.

Spike’s “Twenty!” sounded suspiciously like a sob, and Xander knew he’d better stop before he really injured the guy. So he glided his palm over that smooth, hot skin before jiggling his knees a little.

“Okay,” Xander said. “We’re through.”

After a long, noisy sigh, Spike climbed gingerly off Xander’s lap. For a moment, Xander had a front-row seat to a damp and pretty impressive hard-on, and he ducked his head to hide a grin as Spike very carefully pulled up his pants and refastened them. Spike backed up a couple of feet and Xander stood and shook the ache out of his hand. “So you’re gonna be feeling that for a couple of days, I bet. Is it gonna help remind you to slow down?”

“Might do.” Spike was looking down at his booted feet. But then he lifted his head and tilted it a little, and there was a definite sparkle in his eyes. “Been thinking, though.”


“I might need a bit of a reminder, every now and then.”

Xander’s heart began to race, but he tried to play it cool. “Yeah? I could maybe arrange that.”

“I’m taking a psychology class, you know.”

“Good for you.”

“Learned that positive reinforcement’s as effective as punishment.”

“Yeah. I remember that from my psych class too.”

Spike smiled, and damn if Xander didn’t see a hint of shyness there, just a brief flash of insecurity and uncertainty. “So if I’m very good,” Spike said slowly, “perhaps I should earn some sort of reward.”

For no good reason, Xander was suddenly awash in optimism and happiness. He closed the space between them and whispered into Spike’s ear. “What kind of reward did you have in mind?”

Spike grinned wickedly and smacked him hard on the ass. Then leaned in gently—his breath warm on Xander's ear—and whispered back.

The End