Wondering if he should do something to make himself known to the Mayor, or just wait until he was sure the man knew there was now a vacancy in Trick’s position, Spike headed for Willy’s to see what the rumor mill was saying. He was stopped in the parking lot by three vampires he didn’t recognize.
“Something I can do for you gentlemen?” he said, his tone and manner making it very clear the words weren’t sincere.
“You can come with us quietly. Our boss wants to talk to you.” The apparent leader of the trio folded his arms and waited.
“If I don’t?”
“We’ll take you there anyway… you just won’t like it.”
Rather than exchange any more words with the, no doubt more than beatable but still larger vamps, Spike took out the leader’s knees and while he was screaming and falling, punched him in the temple, leaving him on the ground unconscious. The other two didn’t hesitate, but Spike was already spinning away, pulling a stake from his pocket and running it through the chest of another would-be assailant. When the remaining lackey hesitated, Spike bent down to stake the one just beginning to regain consciousness. He stood up and gave a fangy grin.
“Looks like it’s just you and me, mate,” he said, falling into a fighting stance. “I’ll even give you the first punch.”
“Look, man, I don’t want any trouble. The boss just wants to talk to you. That’s all.” He glanced at the piles of dust beside them. “I don’t think he’s gonna be happy about Mike and Jake, though.”
Spike shrugged. “Guess he’ll need to find himself a better class of minions. So, where is this boss of yours?”
“I can take you there. He’s in his office.”
“Right. Let’s go then. I still have things to do tonight.”
Spike wasn’t surprised to find himself being led to the office building behind City Hall. He was surprised to find himself alone with the seemingly human mayor. He reminded himself that this prissy old man was planning an ascension and trying to cut short those plans by an attempt to kill him probably wasn’t a good idea. Not in terms of Spike’s long-term survival and future with Buffy.
Putting on his most innocently evil face, Spike nodded his head at the mayor.
“If you wanted to see me, all you had to do was ask,” he said with a growl. “Was plannin’ to introduce myself sooner or later.”
“William the Bloody, childe of Drusilla, grandchilde of Angelus,” Mayor Wilkins replied. “Former temporary Master of Sunnydale.”
Spike snarled and stood up straighter. “Nothin’ temporary about it. I just took some time away to handle some business elsewhere.”
“And now you’re back.”
“And now I’m back. Had to sort out a few of your boys tonight. Reckon I would have had to sort out your man, Trick, at some point, but one of the slayers took care of that.”
The mayor frowned, his human façade momentarily taking on a demonic cast. “Indeed,” he said. “One of those annoying little girls was bad enough, two of them in my city is making my life unnecessarily difficult.”
“Killing slayers is a bit of a hobby of mine,” Spike said. “Maybe we can work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.”
“I suppose I do have an opening now that Mr. Trick has come to an untimely end. Are you looking for employment?”
Spike shook his head. “Probably more of a partnership arrangement. I don’t follow orders from anybody.” He shrugged. “But I owe the blond bitch for dropping that bloody organ on me last year, so she’s probably not gonna live much longer anyway. We might be able to work something out about the other one. What did you have in mind?”
“Just keep them out of my hair until a certain date. I don’t care how you do it—you can kill them or just keep them busy. We’ve been trying that ourselves, but it hasn’t gone well for my people. The young ladies insist on killing the demons and vampires, and now they are intimidating the humans. Very frustrating.” The mayor frowned. “I’d had some hopes for recruiting the younger girl. You might try to approach her. I sense a lot of unhappiness and perhaps less of a commitment to all that’s good. See what you can do there. It could be quite useful to have a slayer on my team.”
“Given that she took out your number two man, seems only fair she be given a chance to take his place,” Spike said with a thoughtful nod. “I’ll see if I can get her alone and explain her options.” He gave the mayor an amber-eyed stare. “Can’t promise anything if the chit turns out to be unreasonable, though.”
The mayor shrugged and sat down to indicate the interview was over. “You’ll use your best judgement,” he said. “If you do well, there will be no question who is the Master of Sunnydale.”
“Wasn’t aware there was a question about that,” Spike growled.
“There’s always been a question,” the mayor said, fixing Spike with an old demon’s flat stare. “I just haven’t felt the need to enforce my authority until now. This is my town,” he said. “You'd be wise to remember that once I’ve ascended.”
Spike narrowed his eyes, his innate objection to taking orders from anyone fighting with his need to help Buffy. His own demon was screaming to challenge the harmless-appearing old man, but he successfully fought it down. His fangs had dropped, but the struggle must have been apparent on his face, as Mayor Wilkins gave a satisfied smile when they disappeared.
“I was sure you would be reasonable about the situation,” he said smugly. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have some paperwork to catch up on.”
Without another word, Spike whirled and left the office, ignoring the curious vampires waiting outside. Knowing they would have heard every word, Spike snarled his lack of respect for them as he pushed his way through the small group.
It was still early, and Spike headed for Giles’s, hoping to catch the two slayers before they went out for the evening. He veered away from that direction when he sensed he was being followed, grateful for that decision when he found himself surrounded by some of the mayor’s remaining minions.
“This is getting bloody old,” he snarled. “What the fuck do you want now?”
A frightened-looking human was pushed forward. “Tell him,” the one seemingly in charge said.
“I… I mean, I work at… I was….”
“Spit it out,” Spike said with exaggerated patience.
“I saw you. Last year. I saw you with the slayer. You… you saved my family from a demon.”
“I saved your family?”
“Well, the slayer killed the demon. But you were just watching her. You didn’t try to kill her when you could have.”
“And then what did I do, after I watched the slayer take out a demon?”
“Uh… I don’t know. She walked us to a safe place and I didn’t see you again.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “So, you watched me study the Slayer’s fighting style, didn’t see me take advantage of the way she was already busy fighting something, and have no idea what I did next. Is that about right?”
“Well…. But you didn’t kill her!”
“Do you know who I am?” Spike spoke to the quivering human, but his message was meant for the watching vampires. Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “I’m William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers. I don’t help demons kill them, I do it myself. One on one. Me against the deadliest thing I’ll ever face. Where’s the glory in taking out one that’s already fighting for her life? I watch, I learn, and when I’m ready, I make my move.”
Spike transferred his gaze to the vampires frowning in confusion. “The blond slayer is mine.” He snarled for emphasis. “I’m going to take it very personally if some wannabe tries to kill her.” He snorted. “Not that it’s likely to be one of you sorry excuses for vampires, but just in case you’re thinkin’ about it. I won’t be happy, and I’ll be looking for something to take it out on.”
While the watching vamps muttered among themselves about whether or not to believe Spike, the human man began to sidle away. Spike’s hand on his arm made him squeal in pain and fear.
“Not so fast, there, you walking snack. We’re going to have a talk about why you would think ratting out someone you thought saved your life—confused as you may be about that—was the right thing to do.” Without looking at the minions again, Spike walked off, dragging the tearfully protesting man with him. He forced the man into an alley and waited to see if they’d been followed. He could sense at least one vampire nearby, and caught a glimpse of one hanging on a fire escape where he could see what Spike was doing.
With a muttered “You’ve got this comin’, wanker”, Spike pulled the man to him and bit his neck. He took just enough blood to cause weakness and near unconsciousness, then threw what he hoped looked like a dead body against an ajar door. Voices from inside told him the noise had attracted attention, and he swaggered out of the alley, confident he’d done what he could to seem to have killed the man without actually doing so.
Spike allowed the watching vampires to get away without knowing they’d been spotted, and hoped they would carry word of Spike’s vengeance back to the major’s minions. And that they believed his story of having been watching Buffy’s fighting style and wanting to face her one on one.
His hopes were dashed when he realized he was still being followed, albeit still less than expertly, and he resigned himself to not seeing Buffy for a while. While pondering how to get word to her, he almost missed the sound of a crossbow being cocked. Almost, but not quite. He dropped to ground and rolled just as the bolt flew past where his back had been only a split second ago.
Spike’s snarling leap carried him from the ground to the vamp holding the weapon in less time than it took for her to realize she’d missed. He didn’t even slow down to ask who sent her, just snapped her neck and left her for the sun to handle. He picked up the crossbow and took it and the quiver of bolts with him as he continued on his way. He used the next alley and fire escape to make his way to the roof tops and use them to get around the downtown area, picking off minions as and when he could. When he was confident he’d dusted every vamp except the two he could see running for City Hall, he called it a night and headed for the mansion, wondering how to let Buffy know he was all right.
Which turned out not to be a problem when she showed up at the mansion on her way to school. As deeply asleep as he was, he heard her come in, relaxing back onto the bed when he caught her scent. He was pretending to be asleep as she crept into the bedroom and only sat up when it seemed she was going to leave without waking him.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he said, laughing when she yelped in surprise.
“I was going to let you sleep,” she said, glaring at him. “You big faker!”
“Wouldn’t be much of a vampire if I couldn’t sense a ripe little human girl in my bedroom, would I?” he said, still laughing as he started to get up. Buffy’s face turned bright red when the sheet dropped away from his naked body.
“Not like you didn’t already know that’s how I sleep, love. What’s wrong?”
“I’m on my way to school,” she said, as if that explained everything. Which, given the way she was staring at his body probably did.
He licked his lips and reached for her hand. “You could spare a poor old vamp a few minutes of your time, couldn't you?” He tugged her toward the bed. “Just a little something to start the day off right and make up for disturbing my sleep?”
“I was just checking on you because I didn’t see you last night,” she murmured as she allowed him to pull her down on his lap.
“As you can see, I’m just fine. Had a meeting with his honor, dusted a bunch of his minions, almost got ratted out by a piece of human shite that was ungrateful for you saving his life last year, taught him a lesson, and came home to my lonely bed.”
He began to nibble on her neck as his hands began loosening her clothing. “That was my evening. How about you?”
“Faith and I found the guys who were following us,” Buffy gasped as his hand slid up her leg under her skirt. “I think we made them pretty sorry, but we let them go.”
He nodded. “Reckoned you did. The mayor already knew about Two taking out his main minion. Offered me the job.”
Buffy stopped squirming to sit up straighter. “He did? What did you say?”
“Told him I didn’t take orders, but might consider a partnership where I keep you and Two out of his hair and he ‘let’s me’ be the Master of Sunnydale. Like I need permission from a too-full-of-himself half-human demon.” Spike snorted, then went back to removing Buffy’s clothes. “So, my job is to keep you too busy to bother him. Think I’ll start now…”
“Too busy to bother who?” Buffy said, pushing him down and covering his body with her own.
“Exactly,” Spike agreed, putting his hands on her bare rear and pulling their hips together. He rolled them over, slipping inside her as soon as she opened her legs in welcome.
There was no more conversation about the mayor or anyone else as they fell into a familiar rhythm that culminated more quickly than usual in a mutually satisfactory fashion.
Buffy opened her eyes and stared up at him. “Did we just have a quickie?”
“We did. Not that I wouldn’t be willing to spend the entire morning at this, but I’m guessing ‘I’m late because I was shagging my undead lover’ wouldn’t fly as an excuse for school.”
Buffy giggled, pushed him off and sat up. “I think you could safely say that. Where are my clothes?”
“On the floor. Even your panties. Can’t have you going off to classes in a skirt and no knickers.”
While Buffy dressed under his admiring gaze, she said, “So what’s the deal for tonight? Do you think you talked your way out of being accused of helping me last year?”
Spike shrugged. “Dunno. Depends on how smart the minions are or how paranoid their boss is. Either way, I don’t have to see him again unless he sends for me. I’m just supposed to keep you and Two from interfering. Oh, and he thinks Two can be turned to the Dark Side. I’m supposed to recruit her.”
“Recruit her? Faith? He wants you to recruit Faith?”
“Not all slayers are as good and pure as you are, love. And Two’s led a rougher life. I’m guessing a little affection and respect from the right person, and she’d be easy to turn.”
“You mean make her a vampire?” Buffy looked like she was seriously regretting not having a stake handy.
“Easy, Slayer. No. I just meant her commitment to being on the side of good might not be as strong as yours is. Given the right inducements, she might be open to changing sides.”
“Oh my God.” Buffy sat down abruptly. “She almost did that before. She was willing to kill us on her fake watcher’s say so.”
“But she didn’t. Did she? We just need to make sure she feels appreciated and respected enough that she has no reason to seek out an old demon for validation or affection.”
“Oh my God,” Buffy repeated.
“It’ll be all right, Slayer. We’ll talk to her later today, if you think the two of you can get here without being seen. If not, we’ll talk tonight. I’m thinking his honor is running too low on vamps to keep sending them to see what I’m up to. I should be able to get to the watcher’s place tonight. Last night I just had too many nosy minions trying to catch me doing something they could tattle about.”
Buffy finished putting on her shoes and stood up. “Okay. We’ll try to come by this afternoon. If we can’t for some reason, we’ll see you tonight. If you aren’t there by eight, I’m going to come looking for you. And Mayor Wilkins better hope I don’t have to go through him to find you.”
Spike pulled her in for a hard kiss, then pushed her away from his eager body. “I appreciate the thought, Buffy, but I don’t want you taking on that old demon until we know more about him, how strong he is, and what he plans to ascend to.”
Buffy’s expression and tone were pure slayer as she said, “Then it would be in his best interest to leave you alone.” She shook herself and gave him a quick kiss, once again looking like a young girl taking leave of her lover. “See you later.”
“That you will, love. I promise.” Spike’s smile was a mixture of gratitude and affection as he watched her walk out, book bag over her shoulder. “That you will,” he whispered again as he fell back onto the bed to sleep the rest of the day.
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