Spike got to his car, snorting in disgust when he spotted a vampire hiding in the back seat. He pulled open the door and yanked the surprised vamp out onto the pavement, his own eyes flashing yellow briefly.
“Are you as bloody stupid as you look?” Spike growled rhetorically, taking in the boy’s obvious youth.
“I didn’t know it belonged to one of us. I just figured it was somebody new in town who didn’t know to lock his doors.” The young vampire sounded more sulky than frightened, earning a growl from Spike.
“I don’t lock my doors because nobody in his right mind would steal from William the Bloody. And I don’t worry about vamps because….” Spike went into full game face…. “I’m the only master vamp here.”
The suddenly less cocky fledgling flinched, but shook his head. “That black guy that turned me… he’s old. Maybe older than you are.”
Spike laughed, dropping his vampire mien. “Not anymore he isn’t.”
He didn’t elaborate, but the response surprised him.
“Did Buffy kill him?”
Spike narrowed his eyes and took a stronger grip on the boy’s arm.
“No. The dark-haired slayer did it. How do you know Buffy’s name?”
“Oh, I go to school with her… at least I did until this happened.” He gestured at his wrinkled face and fangs. “I know what she is. Most of us do. She’s why our class hasn’t lost as many members as the ones that came before us.”
“Reckon that makes you the exception to the rule then,” Spike said, with a snort.
“Huh. I guess it does.” The kid frowned. “Kinda sucks that I’ll never be old enough to drink….”
Spike rolled his eyes. “You’re a vampire, you stupid git. You can do whatever you want. Nobody is going to care how old you are… or were. Long’s you stay away from human bars, you—” He shook his head. “Why don’t you come with me to Willy’s? Learn something about being a vampire.”
“That would be awesome! I’ll bet there’s a lot you could teach me.”
“Startin’ with respect for your elders,” Spike muttered as he pointed to the passenger side of the car. “Get in.”
“So, you’re William the Bloody? I think I heard about you. Did you really kill two slayers?”
“Spike, to you. And yes.”
“But not Buffy.” The boy sounded almost proud of the girl who should have been his sworn enemy.
“No. Not her. Not yet, anyway.”
“Are you going to? I mean are you going to try?”
Spike started to growl at the lack of confidence, then shrugged and peered sideways.
“If I try, I’ll do it.”
Spike almost swerved into a parked car. “What the bloody hell do you mean ‘why’? She’s a slayer. I’m a vampire. It’s what I do.”
“I don’t think you should kill Buffy. I like her. She was always nice to me.”
Spike exhaled loudly as he pulled into a parking place. “She won’t be nice to you now, you git. She’ll make you dust in a heartbeat.”
“You just don’t know her,” the boy said with complete confidence. “She’s a nice person.”
“I know her well enough,” Spike growled as they got out of the car. “She put me in a wheelchair with a broken back last year. I owe her.”
The young vampire stared at him. “Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. Let’s go—do you have a name?”
“Me? Uh, yeah, my name is—was—Joey. But maybe I should give myself a new vampire name?”
“You’re not likely to stay undusted long enough to need another name,” Spike said as they entered the bar. Willy nodded when Spike pointed to a booth and shoved Joey into the seat opposite. When the bottle and two glasses appeared on the table, Joey’s eyes got big.
“You didn’t even have to tell him what you wanted.”
“‘S not like I’ve never been here before,” Spike growled.
“But you must be pretty important if he remembers you like that.” Spike squirmed uncomfortably at the growing hero-worship in the young vampire’s expression.
An hour later, when Spike had made it known that Trick didn’t show up for a planned attack on Faith, and had successfully snarled Joey into not mentioning that Spike knew Faith killed the missing vampire, he decided he’d spent enough time laying the groundwork for his future offer to take Trick’s place in the Mayor’s employment.
“Why didn’t you tell anybody you saw him get… dusted? Is that what we call it?” Joey had been drinking his shots like a trooper, although not doing a very good job of hiding his distaste for it. His eyes were somewhat glazed from having tried to match Spike’s consumption.
Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. “Don’t want it to look like I’m after his job, do I? Can’t let anybody know I watched it and didn’t help him. Anybody asks, you can just say I overheard the real slayer’s do gooder friends talking about it.”
“Real Shlayer? If Buffy’s the real shlayer, what’s the other one? Isn’t she real?”
“Real enough, and getting better. But Goldilocks was here first, so she’s Slayer Number One. The new one is Slayer Number Two. Either one of them could make you disappear in a heartbeat, so you need to stay away.”
“Why would Buffy hurt me? She knows me.” Joey frowned unhappily.
“She knows human you. To the Slayer, this you is just another pile of dust waiting to happen.”
“Well that shucks.”
“Welcome to my world, mate.” Spike stood up and yanked Joey up by the arm. “Let’s get out of here. Think I’ve done what I can for one night.”
“Why do I have to go?” Joey said, his voice in between a snarl and a whine. “I wanna keep drinking.”
“You can come back and drink again when you’re buyin’. I just needed you to make me look sociable-like while I got my message out.” He dragged the unsteady boy toward the door. “Anyway, you’re about one shot away from unconscious. Be a waste of good booze.”
When they got to the parking lot, Spike eyed the swaying boy whose eyes were drifting shut and snarled at himself.
“What the bloody fuck am I goin’ to do with you? Can’t leave you here to run your mouth and ruin my story.” He glanced around the parking lot, deciding it wouldn’t be a good idea to dust Joey in a public place. “Get back in the car.”
“Where are we goin’?” Joey asked, slumping against the passenger side door. “Are we going home now….?” His voice trailed off as he passed out, head leaning against the window.
“Beats the bloody hell out of me,” Spike muttered as he pulled onto the street. He drove toward Crawford Street, still wondering what to do with the young vampire who seemed to think he’d been adopted. He paused at the entrance to Restfield Cemetery, catching sight of Buffy and Faith as they came through the gate, laughing about something.
Buffy’s laughter broke off when she recognized Spike’s car, and she glanced around for onlookers before walking over to it. She frowned when she leaned down to talk to him and noticed the unconscious boy in the passenger seat.
He sighed. “Get in the back, slayers, before somebody who shouldn’t sees you talking to me.”
Frowning, the two girls got into the back seat. Faith leaned forward and poked Joey.
“Are you seriously expecting to carry a corpse around in your car all night?” she asked, poking the boy again. She flinched back when he groaned and opened his eyes.
“Are we there yet?” Joey straightened up and seemed much recovered from his drinking after the little nap. He glared at Faith, who was poking him again, then noticed Buffy.
“Buffy! Hey! Remember me? Joey from American Lit class?”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. “I remember you. But it seems to me you were a lot more… alive… the last time I saw you.”
“Well… yeah. I was, I guess. But then this happened to me, and….” He sighed. “Life’s been kinda sucky this week.”
“In more ways than one, I’d guess,” Faith snorted. She glanced at Spike. “Did you make him or are you just adopting him?”
“Spike’s been helping me with vampire stuff. He showed me where I can go to drink and he taught me how to do shots, and now we’re going to go home.” He frowned when Spike snarled at him as the girls laughed. “Aren’t we?”
Ignoring Joey, Spike growled, “I didn’t ‘make’ him, and I sure as hell won’t be adopting his fledgling arse. He was hidin’ in my car and I just took him with me to Willy’s to make it look like I was mingling with other vamps.”
“Why was he in your car?”
Buffy looked at the confused fledgling. “Joey? Why were you in Spike’s car?”
“Why are you in Spike’s car?” Joey asked. “He told me he’s going to kill you. He kills slayers, you know.”
“I do know that,” Buffy said, glaring at Faith who was still snorting with laughter. “Answer my question.”
“I… I’m not doing a very good job with this vampire stuff. I was hungry and tired and I thought I’d either find somebody easy to eat, or at least a place to sleep.”
Faith couldn’t contain her laughter as she said to Spike, “So, youare adopting him then?”
“Maybe I’ll just give him to you,” Spike snarled at her. “Let him find out the hard way what a slayer is.”
“I’ll be happy to show him,” Faith said, fingering her stake.
Showing he wasn’t really very sober yet, Joey said, “Buffy is the Slayer. You’re just Slayer Number Two.” He sniffed in Faith’s direction, causing her to stop laughing.
“Are you really that stupid, or just drunk?” she asked, waving the stake in his face.
He flinched back from her. “You killed the other old guy, didn’t you?”
Faith shifted her gaze to Spike. “You told him?”
“I might have mentioned thinking you did it,” he mumbled, trying to pretend he couldn’t see Buffy’s glare.
“So now he can tell everybody that you know us and you didn’t stop Faith from slaying Trick. Wonderful!” She turned her glare on Joey. “You should have left town when you got turned, Joey. You know what I am… what I do to vamps.”
Joey gave Spike a frightened look. “I wouldn’t tell anybody. Tell her she can’t dust me!”
“Slayer can do whatever she bloody well pleases, mate. Either one of them can. You probably should leave town. Go somewhere there aren’t slayers.”
“But… but I live here. In Sunnydale. It’s all I know. I can’t live anywhere else.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “You are the dumbest—” He sighed. “One last time, let me remind you that you’re a soddin’ vampire. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want—long as it’s dark, anyway. You’re faster and stronger than most people you’ll run across. Just take what you want.”
“I’m stronger and faster?” He eyed Buffy and Faith dubiously.
“Not than they are, you blithering idiot! They’re slayers. And not me,” Spike added when Joey turned his golden eyes on him. “I’ll tear your head from your shoulders and stuff it down the hole.” Spike looked at Buffy and Faith. “Reckon that’s what I ought to do any rate. There’s no way to be sure he won’t blab to the wrong person.”
“Not to mention, he’s a freakin’ vampire,” Faith said dryly. “In case either of you two have forgotten that.”
“I haven’t forgotten it,” Buffy sighed. “But he’s so….”
“Stupid? Ignorant? Bloody pathetic?”
Joey looked hurt. “Why are you being so mean? I thought we were friends.” He turned to Buffy and Faith. “And I thought we were friends?” At Faith’s snort, he amended, “Well not you, I guess. But you’re very pretty. I’d like to be friends.” He gave her a tentative smile as his eyes lost their amber glow.
Faith just rolled her eyes and opened the car door. “Let’s go, B. Your honey here can do what needs to be done. The less we’re around him, the more likely he can get away with his evil plan for a while.”
Buffy opened her own door and stepped out, saying to Spike, “If you can’t get him to leave, you’ll have to dust him. He was a nice kid, but he could put you in danger and—”
“I’ll handle it, love. You get yourself and Two out of here before somebody sees us talking instead of fighting.”
With a last lingering look, Buffy took off running after Faith and they were soon out of sight. Spike turned to look at Joey.
“If I take you to the bus station, will you get out of Sunnydale and stay out for a couple of months?”
“What if I say no?” the young vampire replied with a pout.
“Then you’re dust.” Spike shrugged. “Your choice. One chance. Take it or leave it.”
“Can I come back?”
“If you want to. You might find you like the big city. But yeah. Few months from now we’ll either be okay, or dead. Either way, it won’t matter who you say what to.”
“I’ll go… but I don’t know why you don’t trust me not to tell anybody you’re friends with the slayers.”
“I don’t trust you not to dust yourself falling over your own feet,” Spike growled as he put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb. He didn’t speak again until they got to the bus station. He handed Joey some money and waited for him to get out.
“Where am I going?”
“Where ever there’s a bus leaving to tonight,” Spike said. “That pass you got from the slayers tonight is gonna have an expiration date on it. You want to be long gone before it occurs to them they should have dusted you.”
Joey clutched the money without counting it, saying, “I’ll pay you back when I come home. I promise.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just get your arse out of Sunnyhell while you’ve still got one.”
Shaking his head, Spike waited outside the bus station until he saw Joey get on one of the waiting buses. As soon as it pulled out, he drove away, wondering what was wrong with him that he hadn’t just broken the fledge’s neck when he didn’t need him anymore.
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