Sunnydale perplexed him, to be honest. The longer Kurt stayed, the more astonished he became that the entire population had not been annihilated yet. They lived on the Hell Mouth. There was more unexplained phenomena going on every day than in the entire The X-files series (Artie had made him watch, way back; he’d enjoyed the sizzling chemistry between Fox Mulder and Alex Krycek). He shook his head to get it to clear slightly. Where was he? Oh yes, the oddity how this town survived. People milled around the graveyards during the night. They didn’t ask who it was before answering the door with a ‘come in’. And they didn’t seem to realise that dark alleys were dangerous.
He stared at the latest piece of stupidity and felt his eyebrows twitch in disbelief. A rug in front of the door that cheerily spelt out ‘WELCOME’. And this man was a Watcher? He gave Spike a disbelieving look; his sire just must be yanking his chain!
Spike just shrugged and offered him a bemused smile. It turned into a devious smirk. He raised his hand to knock and they waited. There was the sound of surprised voices. They had wary tilt to them, so at least somebody in this town wasn’t entirely brainless.
The door opened and Spike shouldered his way inside. He was cackling madly about the welcoming rug and Kurt followed him with an indulgent smile. For a moment, time seemed to have come to a stand-still. The Scooby Gang, as was Spike’s delightful moniker, turned as one to subject an older man with looks of shame.
“It was a gag gift,” he blustered. “From Olivia. I had no idea it was still up.”
Buffy shook her head and spots of red appeared on her Watcher’s cheeks. He started polishing his glasses furiously.
She seemed to suddenly summon her instincts. Seriously, they had been inside the door for one minute and she tried to slay them now? Kurt made sure he was between her and Spike. He caught Spike’s look of indignation, but he was slightly more concerned with keeping Spike alive than to spare his masculine ego.
Sure, he could have twisted to the side and grabbed the stake from her. But this was also a power demonstration. The Gem of Amara was a steady weight around his finger. It depressed him to ruin this outfit. Luckily it wasn’t his most expensive one.
It hurt, if he was allowed to use uncouth language, like a bitch. He made himself hold back the curses Spike and Noah had taught him. It made it almost worth it when the slayer let go off the stake and backed away. Her eyes almost bulged out in surprise and her mouth formed a surprised sound.
“That hurt,” Kurt told her mildly and pulled out the stake with the barest hint of a wince. “Never mind that, look at this. Do you have any idea what Prada costs? Haven’t your mother taught you not to play with pointy objects?”
He shifted his eyes upwards and looked through the window. Good, Noah and Finn were in position. Though Noah seemed to have a handful trying to contain an angry Finn. It was touching how the only thing that seemed to wake him from his catatonia was if Kurt was in danger.
“Well, you… you,” she spluttered, struggling to come up with a comeback.
In the stories, she was wittier than this. Had she been that thrown by his invincibility trick? Before she could hurt herself, trying to come up with one, the older gentleman stepped between them. He slid his glasses back on and met Kurt’s gaze coolly. He spoke in a clipped, British voice,
“Kurt Hummel, I presume? Is there anything we can help you with, or is this your idea of fun?”
“No, Rupes,” Spike chimed in. “Our idea of fun was your bloody rug!”
He had sprawled into a chair and sat with his limbs askew in nonchalant arrogance. Kurt loved him so much it hurt. Slowly he walked over there and very primly sat down next to him. They appeared unruffled, though both were slightly on edge. There was a tension in Spike’s thigh against his knee. He decided to ignore it. For now.
“A barter, Mr Giles,” he commented lightly. “A trade if you will.”
They were interrupted by a loud voice,
“Wait a minute, that’s Kurt Hummel?” a guy who made Artie look fashionable asked in disbelief. “Whoa, not what I expected! I expected Draco Malfoy. Pale. Pointy. Albino. Not this… just stepping off the runway-guy.”
Kurt didn’t know how to take that, so he raised a pointed eyebrow. That must be the slayer’s pet idiot, or something. Though he had to give it to him: he would have been sort of cute if his clothes weren’t such an eyesore. A nummy treat, as Spike would say.
“Xander, do be quiet,” Giles said in such a long-suffering way that Kurt could tell that interruptions like these weren’t uncommon.
“A trade?” Buffy scoffed. “What could you possibly have that we want?”
“I don’t know,” Kurt said idly and traced Spike’s arm with his finger tips. “Information. I heard information is of good value today. Isn’t that right, Spike?”
“I’d say so, princess, I’d say so,” his sire agreed with a shark’s grin. “And ‘specially when it’s pertaining to a certain group of commandoes running around.”
“If you’re talking about the Initiative,” a new voice chimed in, “I’m sure we’ve got it covered.”
Kurt decided to pay attention to the other three people he’d deemed unimportant previously; solely focusing on the Slayer and her Watcher. Next to the guy with the lousy fashion sense and puppy eyes, Xander as Giles had called him, sat Willow. Kurt was dismayed to find that she hadn’t followed his fashion advice. She was still wearing pink together with red and it clashed horribly with the hair. But this time she had these horrible stonewashed overalls over it.
He shook his head slightly as he gave her a look. She flushed and squirmed in embarrassment; enough of a good girl to want to please everybody. Even including the vampire that had used her as a shield. It was dangerous, that kind of willingness to please anybody. That willingness to please anybody had been the reason why it was so easy to use Finn.
To the other side of Xander, a brunette girl was sitting. Her chin was very pointed and her eyes glowered in his direction. It was clear that she didn’t like him. Though he couldn’t really get why. He almost convinced most people that he was human. He turned away from her visible hostility and looked to the person who had spoken.
He felt a stir of interest. The guy’s hair was horrible; it had that floppy kind of bangs you saw in the lead singer of the boy band. But he had pretty eyes. For some reason, he reminded Kurt of Finn. There was something open and innocent about his face. It made Kurt want to hurt him. He hoped he masked his interest well.
“It’s rude to interrupt like that,” Kurt said softly, “and I don’t even know your name.”
“Finn, Riley Finn,” he said with military precision and continued aggressively. “And as far as the Initiative goes, we’ve got it covered.”
“Finn,” Spike suddenly said. “Yeah, I remember you. Captain Cardboard.” The boy flinched slightly. “And I have me doubts about you knowing things from my perspective. I doubt you know half of the things going in that lab, I do.”
Kurt felt him twitch against him; realised that there was a homicidal impulse in his brain, which activated the chip. Spike didn’t give away his pain. Kurt didn’t want to give it away himself, but he felt anxious and wanted to relieve his lover’s pain. The hatred for the Initiative, as Riley Finn called it, welled up like an ugly monster.
The humans were arguing about how trustworthy the two of them were. Kurt wished they would be quieter – their voices and heartbeats drove him on edge. They didn’t pay them much attention. He could have slaughtered them all before they had time to react. But their inattention meant that they missed Spike sag in relief once the fit was over. Kurt held himself stiffly. Spike’s hand came up and trailed down his neck. He leant into the touch and felt himself relax.
“Wha?” somebody, Xander his brain supplied, exclaimed and startled the vampires. “Spike… and a guy? A guy and Spike? Weren’t you straight?”
Riley shook his head in exasperation at the same time as Kurt’s eyes narrowed. Xander’s eyes widened. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and Spike made an amused sound in the back of his throat. Kurt didn’t pay him any attention. He softened his voice into a menacing purr,
“Any problem with that?”
Xander flushed. He babbled about it not being a problem. No problem at all. Suddenly Kurt caught a whiff of arousal and slight panic. Did Kurt turn him on? He tilted his head to the side and exchanged looks with Spike. The older vampire was smirking widely. Xander seemed to be focusing on something frightening and Kurt smelled the arousal abruptly dying.
“If that intermezzo all, shall we continue with our discussion?” Kurt asked. “That is, if you’ve decided what to do about us.”
“Fine,” the slayer with a prominent pout. “Fine. Talk.”
It was obvious that this was far from what she wanted to do. But Kurt couldn’t care less. If they were to oblige her, she would probably happily accept the gem of Amara as a token for Angel before staking Kurt through the heart. He poked angrily at the hole in his shirt. Bitch.
Spike’s hand came to cover his slowly and pulled it away from the hole. “Stop that, princess, you’ll make it worse.”
The humans watched their interaction with barely veiled impatience. Kurt understood them. He felt impatient himself. Too much time had been wasted on inconsequential things, like establishing that Spike and he in fact were a couple. He just hoped that miss Willow’s abysmal fashion sense wasn’t contagious. Or Xander’s, as well, for the matter.
“Spike,” he said softly and with a hint of twisted humour, “please share with the rest of the class.”
The way Spike grinned worried him a little bit. He half-expected him to launch into a story about their sexual escapades. But Spike begun an exaggerated version of events; leaving out the part where the Initiative had caught him the back while he was ranting and raving over the slayer. Instead he’d heroically thought off the soldiers; killing and wounding a few. Seeing the way that version made the delectable Riley Finn splutter was almost up to par with how much the slayer’s face after his invincibility trick had amused him.
Spike removed all emotions through his story-telling. He sounded cocky and sure as he retold the horrors of his captivity. He described the vivisection with all its gore. Despite the lack of emotion, the sheer horror of somebody being cut open made Willow green. She looked severely nauseated when he described the look of his heart after a hundreds years of no use; how dark and shrivelled it had been.
“Suiting, ‘course,” Spike said with an evil grin. “The heart in the Big Bad that’s all shrivelled up, it was. Pure malevolent looking, too.”
He told them about the starvation, about the strange awareness while looking like a mummy, and the holy water in the blood. Xander actually clutched at his throat while Spike seemingly relished in re-telling how it had burnt through his oesophagus. Strangely enough his girlfriend Anya (the way she possessively clung to his hand was telling) seemed thoroughly unaffected. She didn’t smell right. She smelled human, yet not. Kurt made a note to investigate into it.
He told them about the cross and how they’d measure the time it took for it to damage him. How long it took to heal. But he wisely left out the part about the other religious symbols. No use giving the slayer more ammunition, after all.
The Scoobies were a bit shaken up. They were too much of white hats, if he was allowed to use Spike’s expression, to not be. Buffy shook her head and tried to appear unaffected.
“You’re a vampire,” she sneered, but lacked the heart behind it. “You’ve done worse things.”
“Yes,” Spike agreed and continued. “But I’ve never done it on this scale. And you ought to now by now, pet, that not all demons are evil. These guys… this Initiative captain Cardboard is a member of, make no distinction. Soul or no soul, harmless or dangerous; it makes no difference to them. They take demons off the streets, they do, and keep them alive to torture. For experiments.”
Spike leant forward and glared into her eyes.
“And I’d let them die,” he said. “It might take a while. But once they’re broken… I drain them dry.”
It seemed to have an impact on the group, which quickly looked off to the side. Giles, whom Kurt had taken a bit of a liking to, removed his glasses once again. He started polishing them; unnecessarily, in Kurt’s opinion. Looking off in the distance slightly, the Brit asked,
“Did they ever mention a place called the 314, Spike?”
Spike shrugged. “Might have. How much is it worth?”
Giles seemed completely unruffled by Spike’s question. “What do you want?”
“Princess’s clothes costs a pretty little sum,” Spike hinted. “Or maybe something else entirely, I might want.”
Their main goal was to get the chip out of Spike’s head. They just needed to convince them to agree. Kurt would gladly promise to leave Sunnydale and never look back, if that was what it took. He just wanted his old Spike back.
“Tell us about the 314 and we’ll negotiate,” Buffy chimed in.
Spike shrugged and slung an arm over Kurt’s shoulder. He could sense his anxiousness for this to work. He kept their bodies in constant touch. The subtle hints of emotion; fear and comfort flowed between them. They needed very little words.
Spike didn’t betray his inner turmoil, “They might have mentioned it once or twice. Mostly when they jotted down something they thought might be useful for it.”
“Why?” Kurt interjected.
The slayer exchanged her look with her Watcher, before turning back to them. She seemed hesitant and reluctant to share this with them. But her watcher nodded insistently. She sighed in protest.
“The Initiative,” she said, “might not have been built entirely to contain demons. At least, not only to do that. It would seem….”
“… like professor Walsh was trying the construct some sort of super soldier,” Riley continued. “They started a secret drug regime for us recruits as well as building… Adam.”
The disgust of which he spoke of this Adam, made Kurt interested.
“He’s part human, part demon and part machine,” the soldier boy explained. “He’s extremely resistant to all of our attacks. We’ve yet to find any weaknesses in his defences.”
“Sounds like it could be handy to have a few vamps around,” Spike said in an off-handed manner.
“How much?” Buffy asked cynically.
Spike looked wounded, “Slayer, how can you think that? Can’t I do something out the goodness of me heart?”
“Spike, no games,” Kurt interrupted as it seemed like he would continue and met Buffy’s eyes steely. “We want the chip out.”
The caused a flurry of protests and had Mercedes been there, she’d probably have said ‘hell to the naw’. It all came down to the spluttered response of Giles,
“Why would we do that?” He continued, “Spike’s been a thorn in our side for years and now that he’s essentially harmless, why would we want to turn him back into a menace?”
“I’ll show you harmless, you bloody old…”
“Spike, not now.”
Kurt sent him a warning glance. He didn’t need them to see how easily the chip was set off. Spike grumbled but settled down.
“Yeah, listen to your boyfriend, fangless!”
“Zip it,” Kurt told the gloating Xander. “I will and can bite you. As for your question, Mr Giles,” he turned towards the Brit, “I can’t really see how you have a choice. Reading through the lines of what Riley here said, you haven’t really got anything to put against Adam.
“If it will make you breathe easier,” he said with a long-suffering sigh, “we’ll leave Sunnydale and never come back. Scout’s honour. We won’t make trouble for you.”
Giles and the slayer went off to have a brief discussion. The slayer looked like she was adamantly against it, but then reluctantly all the anger went out of her. She nodded and they came back to tell them that they had a deal.
“Can we look at your head, S-spike?” Willow asked and stuttered slightly. “It’d really help. And I know this nifty little spell.”
Spike consented and they walked off to the corner with the books. Kurt didn’t follow. He tensed briefly, but tried to appear nonchalant. There was no need for them to know how worried he was about Spike. Instead he tried to appear like he wasn’t paying attention to them. Listening in on the conversation; which was mainly mumbles of Latin and questions directed at Spike.
Riley Finn moved and sat down in front of him. He looked like he had a few questions and Kurt snapped,
“You love him?” Riley nodded towards Spike and tilted his head to the side. “I didn’t know vampires could love.”
“You can’t compare human and vampire emotions,” Kurt said, “but yes, I love him. I love him the way vampires do: dark and hurtful. I’ll do anything for him and I mean anything.”
The answer seemed to satisfy Riley. He leant back slightly.
“You know, I never really reflected over vampires. I saw one of my men torn apart by a fledgling, so I drew the conclusion that, souls or not, you all are monsters. I didn’t care if I caused you pain or if you felt anything.”
Kurt smiled politely. He had no idea where this boy was going with this.
“But this,” he made a gesture between Spike and Kurt, “I don’t understand. Vampires don’t do anything that doesn’t gain them. And you can’t gain anything of keeping Spike around. It’d make more sense to leave him.”
“Love doesn’t make sense. Nor is it sane.”
“We took him from the hill,” Riley said. “That story wasn’t true, you’re aware?”
“He told me the truth: that you took him from behind.” Kurt sounded venomous and then continued with another shot at Riley. “Like cowards.”
“He was ranting and raving. We didn’t really listen. One zap and he went down. Piece of cake.”
Kurt didn’t really want to hear this. But at the same time he wanted to. He wanted to gain insight in the workings of this soldier boy’s brain. How they’d justified this to themselves.
“Things changed from routine when he came to much faster than the others,” Riley said. “He’s old, right?” He didn’t wait for Kurt to answer. “He came up and snarling about us getting him ‘in the sodding back, you bloody wankers!’. It was hard to contain him, but we outnumbered him. He quieted down and seemed to give in.
“Seem, is the right word. Your boyfriend started struggling once we started to strip him. He threw a fit. The accent made me think he was a foreign exchange student that had got unlucky and been turned. I had half a mind to look through the records and see if I could find his family. Give them some closure. But I forgot.”
It seemed to trouble him, that he’d forgotten. His brow crinkled in a frown and he looked away. Willow and Giles were discussing something with way too many medical terms Kurt didn’t understand. Mixed in with occult references he really didn’t get.
“Most are humiliated when they’re naked in front of a group, but he wasn’t. The only time he reacted was when one of the recruits made a rude comment and attempted to touch him. He was sent from the room and hostile Seventeen… Spike, I mean, was processed. I never saw him after that.”
Kurt listened with deepening disgust. When Riley reached the part about the rude comment, he read between the lines. His hands clenched in his lap. If that person hade touched Spike… if he’d been contact with him afterwards… It was enough to make Kurt shake in rage.
“I don’t know why you are telling me this,” he said stiffly, “whether you’re trying to lessen your guilt, but I think you should leave before I do something I regret.”
The child, which was how Kurt viewed him, frowned. But he didn’t protest. Instead he simply got up and went after Buffy. The way he touched her and how she smiled at him; suddenly it made sense why he was there. Kurt had wondered. He snorted; the slayer sure knew how to pick them. A vampire with a soul, a boy playing at being a solider… what next? A vampire without a soul? There’d been a slight instability in Riley; the way he wanted to understand. It wouldn’t be good.
“I don’t like you.”
He startled slightly at the unexpected voice. He turned back and realised that the girl, Anya, still was sitting in the sofa across from him. He raised an eyebrow at her and politely inquired,
It only served to make her glower even more.
“I know your kind: pretty, vindictive, slightly deranged. In fact hadn’t the vengeance demon gig been mainly a female profession, you’d probably been approached. You probably would have been after your first heart break, if Spike hadn’t turned you before that happened of course. What’s up with that? Spike’s old enough to know better.”
Kurt was intrigued against his better knowing (and wondering over the fondness they all seemed to have for long-winded monologues).
“You don’t like me because you think I should have been a vengeance demon?”
She didn’t seem to hear him.
“Of course, I’ve heard he’s always been reckless like this. And this… this is really reckless. I mean,” she said, turning to Kurt and engaging him this time, “for the moment you seem perfectly normal and sane. But you can snap this right instance. And it won’t be pretty.
“You sound so reasonable. But I can hear the lies coming out of your mouth.” She made an angry gesture towards him. “Do you know how I can tell? Your mouth is moving! So I don’t like you. I definitely don’t trust you.”
“That’s probably wise,” he nodded.
She was by far the most sensible of them so far. Somehow he felt like that thought should be frightening.
She looked him straight into the eye.
“If you hurt Xander, I will get my powers back,” she said harshly. “And trust me, there will be plenty of voices cursing your name then.”
“Anya,” he said and knew her true form, “demon to demon, all we want is Spike back to normal. We couldn’t care less about your Xander or anybody else in this gang.”
She didn’t believe him. Of course not; she said that she could know he was lying by the fact that his mouth was moving. She leaned back in the sofa and ignored him from that moment on. Kurt didn’t have to linger that long, however, as their was a sudden upset voice exclaiming,
“Bugger it all!”
Spike seemed agitated and Kurt felt a slight spike of fear, unfortunate pun not intended. Immediately he got to his feet. But there was no immediate threat that he could see. And Noah was up in the window, making ready to interfere. He shook his head in warning.
“Princess, they say they need the Initiative research,” Spike said harshly. “Meaning that we’ll have to help them without any pre-payment, which sounds like bollocks in me ears.”
He cursed again and violently overturned the coffee table. Kurt had to stifle an inappropriate burst of giggles; that would have been such a typical Finn thing to do. He was out the door before they could react and Kurt was left standing in the living room.
“The deal is still on, I trust?” he said and Giles nodded. “Thank you then. We’ll see what we can find out.”
He hurried out into the night. Spike hadn’t gone far. In fact, he still was in the yard and lighting up a cigarette. Even from a distance Kurt could tell that he was severely agitated. He puffed on the cigarette as if he needed the buzz as quickly as possible. Remembering how Spike broke his arm, he carefully approached.
“We knew it wouldn’t be a quick fix,” he reminded him.
“I know, princess,” he said hoarsely. “It just pissed me off, that’s all. The witch was poking around inside my brain and it was real nasty. And they… they told me some more about this Adam bloke. I keep thinking – maybe we should turn to ‘im?”
Kurt touched his arm.
“We made a deal,” he softly said. “If we break it, the slayer will dust us for sure.”
Spike started to walk. Kurt admired how the coat billowed around him. It really showed how upset Spike was. He looked after Finn and Noah, but surmised that Spike must have sent them away. He hurried to keep up with Spike.
“Is that all there is, princess?” the older vampire asked softly.
“What are you talking about?”
Kurt was honestly confused. It didn’t help matters when Spike threw away his cigarette and violently ripped out another one. If one could open a lighter aggressively, that was what Spike did. It surprised him to see Spike act like this. Though it really shouldn’t. Ever since the chip Spike had been brimming with rage, before sinking into a deep depression.
“I saw you getting cosy with captain Cardboard.”
“Captain… you mean Riley Finn?” Kurt asked in disbelief. “Are you dumb? Spike, the boy told me about how they’d captured you. I really don’t like him.”
“Don’t need me anymore,” Spike said as a response. “You don’t. And he’s more your type than I am. You prefer the all-American, football loving type.”
Kurt spluttered, because the situation was just so absurd. It both saddened and angered him that he suddenly seemed to doubt him. If this was how it was, then why the hell was Kurt staying? Prada knows why he would put up with this, if Spike didn’t believe in them. Why even bother to stay then?
“What good is a vampire that can’t bite?” Spike continued bitterely and barely noticed that Kurt had stopped. “Fangless, that’s right. Impotent. Harmless!” The word was spit out like a curse. “Can’t even share a bit of a blood bath between us, can we? Can’t harm. Can’t torture. Can’t kill. The three things that make life enjoyable for a vamp and I’m about as useful as a kitten!”
Kurt felt like lashing out. The anger coiled in his stomach, but he choked it back down. He glared into the display window. Not really seeing anything. He just knew that, after the night they’d had, if he was to say anything, it would mean that they were over. Spike was making him doubt that he could do this anymore.
Suddenly he saw a ring in the window. It was a wide silver band. Simple, masculine. It looked to be about Spike’s size. Before he reflected on it, he’d smashed the window. He brushed the glass off his coat and pricked his fingers on the glass. Small drops of blood appeared. He didn’t care. The ring glinted in the darkness. He reached for it enthralled and hid it in his palm.
“Uhm, princess? Hardly the time to get kleptomanic,” Spike said as if he’d gone insane. “In the middle of fighting, we were.”
Kurt strode to him with a decided air and grabbed his hand. In a melodramatic gesture that was so typical him, he put the ring on Spike’s ring finger. Spike’s eyes were light, wide, startled in the dark when Kurt met them.
“This,” he said roughly (or as rough as his voice would get), “is a symbol. Wear it for as long as you love me, because as long as you love me I’ll love you, Spike. And that’s an unchanging fact.”
Spike looked at him beseechingly. “No Chaos demons?”
“No Chaos demons,” Kurt agreed.
Then he was pushed up against the store window, next to the hole. Spike’s hands slid into his hair and gripped it harshly. Kurt wanted to protest, but the mouth covering his was almost ravenous. Their lips moved against each other and bruised. Spike’s tongue invaded, owned, dominated until Kurt just had to link his arms around his neck to stay upright.
“Then it’s forever,” Spike said when they broke apart. “Or until we’re dust, whichever comes first.”
Kurt had enough brain cells left to agree.
They were like giddy teenagers on their way back. Spike wouldn’t stop touching him; sliding his hands all over his body. Kurt would slap his hands away. He didn’t really mean it. But even in Sunnydale, having sex in public would probably lead to jail time. And there would probably be a window. Kurt wouldn’t be bothered by this. Spike, however, would.
Sadly enough, the giddiness disappeared as the evening took a turn for the worse. Finn was lying on the rug, bleeding on Kurt’s rug, and whimpering in pain. This creature, a thing, was sitting in Spike’s leather arm chair and holding Noah into the air by his throat. Noah clawed at the muscular arm. When the creature noticed them, he dropped Noah to the floor.
“Good,” he said congeniality, but with a slightly mechanic hint. “You’re back.”
Kurt stared at him. He barely resisted the urge to take a step back. He stared at how the machine, demon and human blended together. It looked grotesquely natural, yet as unnatural as something could be. He swallowed against the rising nausea. He wanted to make Spike rush him out of their crypt, their home, but Spike looked intrigued. His blue eyes had lit up like a little boy’s on Christmas.
“I’d like to propose a deal.”