D’Hoffryn ruled over Arashmahar and he loved his job. He loved his stable of talented Vengeance demons. He loved the lamentations of the justly chastised. It was his favorite time of the rotation, when those lamentations rose into pleas for Gurnenthar's Ascendance. He usually found the added futility highly entertaining. He wasn’t enjoying it as much as usual, though.
It was a terrible season to be without your dear one.
And that’s why he didn’t love going home. Not anymore. It was empty and cold, more house than home. It was, in a word, Skipless. His lover, his sweet sexy boo, would never again greet D’Hoffryn with a steaming cocktail, never sand his back just so, never leave his chin rings lying on the sink.
Skip was banished in disgrace for allowing a prisoner to escape his endless torment. Defeated by a vampire, of all things. D’Hoffryn couldn’t allow his personal feelings to interfere with the swift administration of justice, and so he had authorized Skip's permanent banishment, and thereafter avoided going home as much as possible. No doubt the imps were tired of his constant and demanding presence, but the backlog of vengeance cases had never been so low.
He was working late, casting about for some diversion to keep him from wallowing. Rifling through his Special Projects file, an item caught his eye.
The resurrection of the Slayer.
The Hellmouth might be ripe for his personal attention. Miss Rosenberg was a promising new recruit and growing ever more powerful. The forces she had initiated must be bearing tainted fruit by now. It might also be pleasant to look in on Anyanka during this holiday season.
Spike hit the Alibi Room early these days. He might hear something that would help the Slayer on patrol and besides, he needed to be back at the crypt in case she stopped by after the Summers’ evening repast. He apparently wasn’t allowed to pick her up at the house for patrol. “Someone” might get the idea that she didn’t hate him anymore or something. Might figure out that the Slayer was fraternizing with the enemy again. And again. And yet again. Every chance she got.
If he’d known he would be even more shut out of her life once she’d dropped her knickers for him, he might not have been so quick to scratch her itch. Well, that was a lie. He could no more have refused her advances than he could give up blood at Christmas. It was fine. He didn’t mind being available to her. If she could just manage not to be such a bitch about it, that would be a nice change.
“Women,” he grumbled at his drink.
The blue guy next to him swung his big horned head in his direction and lifted his glass.
“Amen to that,” he said, and tipped his drink in Spike’s direction.
They drank. The blue guy motioned to the bartender for refills.
Spike nodded his thanks. “Much obliged.”
“It’s the least I can do for a fellow sufferer. Troubles at home during the holidays are miserable, are they not?”
Spike snorted. “Like I’d know. Won’t even let me anywhere near the house. Suppose she thinks I’m a corrupting influence. Like I didn’t watch over her family like a bleeding Queen’s Guardsman for nearly half a year. Nary a mark on ‘em while I was around. Soon as I’m on the outside, there’s broken bones and what all. And who’s the one being punished? Me, that’s who. It’s not bloody right.”
He looked at his once again empty glass and wondered when he’d become so hard up for a sympathetic ear that he’d start spilling to any bloke in a bar. Well, he never had been the silent type, truth to tell.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” said the blue guy.
“Unfair as the sunrise,” said Spike. “And just as inevitable. She’ll never see me as anything but a convenience. ‘M just her dirty little secret.” He mulled this over, but then burst out with what was especially bothering him tonight. “We could be so good together. If she’d let me, I’d take good care of her and her little sis. Make sure they were happy, eating proper, and well-defended. Be a man for them, you know? It’s what she needs, maybe even what she wants. She’s just too stubborn to let it happen.”
The blue guy nodded. He was remarkably understanding.
“You can’t force happiness, more’s the pity,” he said. “How would you begin?”
“If it was up to me, I’d begin right now. Just wish she’d let me in, so I could do right by them this Christmas, for starters.”
“Done,” intoned the suddenly much more imposing blue demon.
“Oh, bollocks,” said Spike just as everything whited out around them.