Patrol was business as usual. Same shit, different day. See vamp? Slay it. Go to bed at four AM and try to be up in time to make sure the little sister doesn’t play hooky from her first class. Again.
The life of a Slayer wasn’t easy.
Buffy leaned against of the sturdier graves, twisting a stake between her fingers. ‘I’m bored…come out, little vampies. It’s time for a good ol’ stakin’.’
‘Somebody call me?’
That voice was all too familiar. ‘Spike, don’t you get bored of bugging me? No other vampires or vengeance demons around to play poker for kittens with?’
The bleach-blond leaned next to her on the grave, whipping a cigarette and a lighter out of his pocket and lighting up. He inhaled deeply before speaking. ‘Been there, done that already tonight, love. Got cleaned out by a new vamp in town. Bloody bastard didn’t even have to cheat.’
As he vocalised the last word, his coat pocket moved.
She frowned at his profile, eyeing between his face and the pocket on the other side of his jacket as it shifted of its own accord. A tiny black-and-white head popped out of the leather flap, whiskers twitching and mewing.
Raising an eyebrow, the nodded towards the small creature. ’Stole one back for breakfast?’
Spike shook his head and shrugged, pulling the tiny tom from his pocket and cradling it in one hand. ‘Told me to take the little bugger with me. Said it would taste awful anyway because it’s a Manx, then fled the scene with the rest of the bloody basket. I had two tabbies in there too. And the little ginger one would have been a treat with a vodka chaser.’
Buffy watched the two creatures interact, vague fascination surfacing. For all of Spike’s appetite for them, he did seem rather fond of his food. He let the kitten sniff at his face, nose twitching when it licked at his cheekbone affectionately, before holding it close to his chest once more with one pale, black-nailed hand and taking another deep drag from his cigarette.
He flicked the ash away before speaking. ‘If you slay a vampire called Harvey, make sure you use an extra-pointy stake.’
‘You think I ask their names before I slay them? “Hey, your name is Derek? Nice to meet you. Now die”?’
‘Thought you would have the courtesy to.’
‘Slay first, ask questions later.’
‘Forgot you like to leap before you look.’
‘Giles never did get that one out of me before he left.’
‘Bet he gave a bloody good try, though.’
They fell into companionable silence. Buffy’s watch ticked through the hour. Three-AM; another hour until nap-time.
The young woman’s face lit up gratefully as he handed her the tiny cat, eyes instantly falling half-lidded when she looked up at him through her lashes. ‘I’ve been so worried about him. Thank you, Mr…?’
‘Specter. Harvey Specter. And no need to thank me.’ The vampire shot her a grin, dripping charm from every pore. He already smelled faint traces of lust in her breath; she was definitely a possibility. He could sleep with her, get a decent meal, and leave her sleeping off the generous ‘donation’ all before sunrise. Besides the ‘love-bite’ she’d have for a few days, and the leftover groggy sensation from giving a him a pint of juice, no harm would be done; he always did like to leave his meals alive. It left much less room for Slayers to get stake-happy if nobody died.
The young woman in the doorway smiled flirtatiously, catching her lip between her teeth as she eyed him up and down. ’I’m so glad to have my baby back…is there any way I can repay you? Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee or something?’
‘Hm. That Something does sound kind of tempting.’
Her smile grew into a playful smirk. She leaned against the doorway. ‘You a liquor man?’
As she held the door open for him, the barrier of the threshold melted away; when he stepped up to it, nothing pushed him back. Silent consent; he was welcome in here for at least the next hour. Not that it would take that long; he’d never had any complaints about his prowess before.
He made to leave through the same doorway at three-forty-three, pausing to scratch behind the ears of the little rescued tabby. For all of the moaning Spike had done around the poker table about being a delicious treat, they just really weren’t his thing. Puppies tended to have a more classic taste; less like a Michelin-star experimental gastronomy dessert, more like the fine wine that would be paired with the cheeseboard in the evening.
Boy did he miss the taste of cheese.
Still, despite his distaste for sweet things, the kitten’s fur was luxurious. Maybe he should get one to keep around just for stroking.
The kitten turned up his nose at further attention, curling into a fuzzy puddle on the scatter pillow adorning the couch, and Harvey took that as his cue to leave.
Only when he went to open the door, it was already open, and he was face-to-face with a young man with staring bloodshot eyes.
The other couldn’t have been much older than mid-twenties, and from the smell, he imagined that was about right; the kid smelled like he’d had more than a few joints, and radiated alcoholic fumes that could have curdled fresh milk without even opening the carton.
His visual appearance, however—dark blond hair, bright blue eyes, slightly boyish soft features—was incredibly pleasing. Suddenly he wished he wasn’t quite so full; he could have really gone for drinking a little of this guy’s life liquor right about then.
The other swallowed thickly, blush rising up his face as he chuckled nervously. ‘Heh…uh, Lily didn’t tell me she was having anyone over.’
He nodded. ‘It wasn’t exactly a planned visit. I found her kitten—‘
‘Oh, okay…yeah, she loves Coco-Puff more than life itself. She’s missed him like crazy, and she’s been driving me crazy with her worrying about him. How did you find him?’
His mind presented him with the image of the basement room; three demons and two vampires sat around a table with a basket of pilfered infant felines mewing in the centre of the table for attention.
Elaboration was probably not the best of plans. ‘He was wandering around in the graveyard. Found him curled up by the door of one of the crypts,’ he lied smoothly.
The other frowned. ’He went that far? …Whatever. Thank you for bringing him back safe.’
It only occurred to him as he stepped through the threshold again, lock clicking closed behind him and invitation to the inside now expired, that he hadn’t asked for the man’s name. Goddamn it.