The two men sat alone together in the cave, the sounds of battle too close to the entrance. “You're looking a little green, mate,” one said.
“Really? I feel fine. More a hearty crimson.” He slumped against the back wall, grimacing as the uneven rock pressed into his flesh.
“Com'ere.” Spike supported his wounded friend, helping Xander lay down and rest his head on Spike's lap. “More comfortable?”
Xander coughed in reply. He started to shiver as the venom worked its way through his circulatory system. Spike checked the wound on Xander's leg, as it visibly turned from purple to black, oozing yellow mixed with blood. “I could use a beer,” he choked out, trying to smile.
“Yeah,” Spike said. “I remember.”
The Summers' house was floor to ceiling with young women, potential slayers who had gathered to face the coming apocalypse. Not even women yet – most were teens, with teenage appetites. Like locusts, they left little food in their path.
The town of Sunnydale was almost abandoned. The stores had closed, some emptied out by the owners, but a few just left with whatever stock remained on the shelves, no one to man the cash registers. Buffy had less and less guilt about sending her people in to raid for provisions. But with a house full of adolescent locusts the un-restocked grocery store shelves were starting to look a little bare. Not that it would matter much longer, for the First Evil and its ubervamps would soon rise to face the would be warriors.
The Scoobies sat around Buffy's dining room table, planning their strategy for the upcoming war. Rona called out from the kitchen. “I'm hungry!”
“We're busy here!” Buffy called back.
“Can't fight on an empty stomach!”
“I need a beer,” Xander moaned, head in hands.
“God, yes.” Spike looked across the table at Xander, suddenly smiling. “We'll take your car.”
“You honestly think I trust you to get a decent ale?”
“Beer,” Buffy interjected. “Ick. However, that's a great idea. You can hit the Megafoodmart at the edge of town and pick up some groceries. You can take a few of the girls to help you carry stuff.”
“No, no,” Xander got up from the table. “Spike and I can handle it.”
“Yeah,” Spike added. “The girls need to train and what not. The boy and I will be back in two shakes.”
The cupboard, even in Megafoodmart, was reasonably bare. The chocolate was gone. “The girls will be crushed,” said Xander, looking at the few marshmallow based junk food products. There were no sugary cereals either. Just big bags of puffed wheat. The electricity was off and the milk and meat had spoiled. The biggest indignity came in the beer aisle.
“Schlitz?” Spike spat out. “All they have is bloody Schlitz?”
Xander stared at the three lone cases. “I feel your pain.” Making the best of a bad situation, the two men threw what they could into a shopping cart and headed for the parking lot. They put the groceries in the trunk and opened the drivers' side back door to load the beer into the back seat.
“Did you drop this case in the store?” Xander asked.
“No, I did not.”
“Did you puncture it?” Xander held up the cardboard carton as beer seeped out the bottom. “It's leaking.”
“Obviously an inferior product.” Spike took the case from Xander's hands and tossed it on the asphalt. It split and cans fell to the ground, releasing foamy suds. “We still have two more. That's one each.”
“True,” Xander replied, watching with regret as the beer seeped away. “And really, how much are we going to drink in the what, day, two days we have left?” They climbed back in the car and headed in the direction of the Summers' house.
“Didn't we come up Palm Street before?” Xander asked.
“What? I don't know. Wasn't paying attention. Why?”
“Because,” Xander replied, “I'm reasonably sure there wasn't a tree lying across the road on the way.” He climbed out of the car. “Going to give me some help, supervamp?”
“Well, you're stronger than I am. Come here and give me a hand.”
They were bent over trying to lift the trunk when two men jumped from the bushes and attacked them. Xander struggled, trying to pull the arm from around his throat while Spike easily flipped the other man over his shoulder. He grabbed him by the head and was about to twist when Xander croaked “Don't kill. Human.” Spike shrugged and smacked the head into the tree instead knocking his assailant out. He then pulled off Xander's attacker and punched him in the chin dropping him to the road.
While they were thus engaged, a third looter pulled a case from the car and ran off down the road. “Hey,” Xander yelled, “That's our beer,” as the man hopped into a car and drove away. “And get out of town!” He looked down at the two men lying by the tree. “Idiots. Don't they know there's a big bad apocalypse on the way?”
“He took our beer.”
“Well, at least we still have one case.” They got back into the car, backed up to the next intersection, and headed for Revello Drive.
“You know,” Xander said, “We make a pretty good team.”
“He took our beer.”
Two blocks from Buffy's house the car jerked a few times, sputtered and died. “Forgot to gas 'er up.” Spike exclaimed. “Typical.”
“Nope, half full.” Xander stepped out and opened the hood. “I have no idea. Alternator? Radiator?”
Spike leaned over his shoulder. “Procrastinator? When's the last time you had her in for a tune up?” He shoved Xander out of the way. “Let me take a look.”
A loud roaring noise came from the back of the car. “What did you do to it?” Xander asked.
The roaring started again. The both looked up over the hood and saw a large purple demon with far too large teeth.
“Damn. Markesh demon.”
“So, run then?” Xander asked.
“He'll catch us both. Fond of the taste of humans, they are, but they're not too discriminating.”
“So why isn't he, you know, killing us?”
The demon was reaching into the car.
“He's even fonder of beer.” Spike started backing up, pulling Xander with him. “Walk slowly and wait.”
A block away, Spike turned back towards the car. “Hey,” Xander said, “what are you...?”
“They may be fond of beer,” Spike said. The demon was lying across the car, not moving. “But they're also allergic.” Carefully, Spike opened the trunk and pulled out the grocery bags.
“Great,” Xander said. “At least we still have the puffed wheat.” He sighed. “I could really use a beer.”
While Spike thought about simpler times, some soldier boys found them in the cave. One had a very familiar face, but for once, Spike wasn't annoyed to see him.
Riley Finn handed a beer to Spike. “These are pretty damned rare now. But I figure you earned it.”
“Amstel. Good stuff.”
Spike stood over the hastily dug earth. “This one's for you, mate.” He opened the can and poured the golden liquid over Xander's grave.