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"You know, if you keep drinking like that, you'll be no good to anyone."

Xander rolled his eyes as Spike's words drifted into one ear and out of the other. Who was some undead, souled and supposedly-reformed vampire to tell Alexander Harris how to live his life?
He knocked back another shot at the bar and signalled again to Mark for a refill.

"Seriously, Xan. I don't think..."

"What?" Xander slammed a balled-up fist against the hardwood surface of the bar. "Seriously. What, Spike?"

Spike clamped his mouth shut, not wanting to draw any more attention to themselves than Xander's outburst already had.

Mark reappeared with two more shots, and Spike have him a raised eyebrow in return.

"I think it's time you boys left."

Xander downed the refill and leant across the bar towards Mark.

"Dn tell me watta do." His hand waved erratically at the bartender, who in turn looked questioningly to Spike.

"Will?"

Spike sighed. Seemed like their evening was over then. He didn't want to make a scene that would raise too much suspicion amongst the locals. Maybe he should have known better than to bring somebody with an alcohol problem to a bar.

"I'll take him back to the motel." Spike nodded, batting Xander's hand away from his own refill and downing it quickly. "Might see you folks tomorrow, yeah? Now that we are here, I'd kinda like to check out this whole convention scene."

Spike hoped that his quickly thought-out excuse for staying on would wash with Mark. His 'just passing through' comment had come back to haunt him now that he became apparent that Melandra would be more difficult to find than they had first thought.

"Sure thing, Will." Mark winked at the vampire, and Spike ignored it in favour of grabbing his inebriated friend's arm.

"C'mon, Xan." he said calmly, "Let's get back and sober you up a bit before bed."

Xander stood slowly. His head spun as the altitude at nearly 6 feet felt more like 6000. He followed Spike's lead, barely even noticing the vampire's hand on his arm.

"Bed good." Xander could barely string together a sentence, and Spike decided it would be better to keep a hold of his friend's arm, despite the odd looks from a couple who came into the bar as the pair exited.

"Gnna tuck me in, Spikey?"

Spike cast his eyes around, seeing if anybody had heard before ushering Xander outside and into the soberingly cooler night air.

"You trying to get us busted, mate?"

As soon as they were out of view, Spike dropped Xander's arm, grabbing a smoke from his duster pocket and lighting it up as if he'd gone days without one.

"Keep drinking and mouthing off like that, and we'll never find the bitch."

Much as Spike had been enjoying the boy's company, Xander's current state was less than conducive to finding Melandra and that realisation bothered him greatly.

Xander swayed and fell against the wall, not quite giggling but emitting a noise that sounded something like it.

"Wassup, Spikey?" he asked, letting his head rest against cold bricks for a moment as the blackness of the darkened streets spun around him and the neon sign flickered and laughed at him. "Can't handle your liquor?"

"Ain't me, buddy." Spike sounded pissed, and Xander wondered what he'd done to annoy the vampire. "You're the one whose mouth is gonna get us into trouble."

"Mmmmm... mouth..."

Xander became vaguely aware of somebody - Spike, he presumed - taking hold of his arm again and leading him a short distance until they entered a dull-looking motel reception area.

"OK if we take the indoor route again?" He heard Spike ask the clerk. The guy replied with a silent wave of the hand, barely looking up from his laptop as the two passed by.

The internal door swung closed behind them and a lightbulb flickered into life as it registered their movement.

"Reckon he was looking at porn."

Spike's steps faltered momentarily at Xander's statement before he pulled him into their room.

"He was, y'know."

Spike nipped to the bathroom, filling a large glass with water and handing it to Xander who was bouncing his backside on the bed like a child.

"Sure he was, Xan." he said, passing across the glass and watching patiently as Xander necked the whole thing and held it back out to Spike when empty. The boy would have one hell of a headache in the morning if he didn't drink more, so Spike obligingly refilled and handed it back again.

"Better?"

Xander placed the empty beaker onto the side table, taking several attempts to get it fully seated before he himself flopped backwards on the bed with a long groan.

Spike stood, heading towards the door and flicking the light off.

"Spike?"

Xander suddenly sounded more in control; more sober; more... normal

"Mmmm?" Spike's response was non-committal. Not wanting to appear too interested but keeping Xander's attention lest he suddenly fall into some alcohol-induced sleep.

"Spike?" Xander repeated, turning his head to the direction in which he thought the vampire was heading.

"Xander."

"Spikey." The pet name returned, eliciting an unseen wince from the vampire, "Lie with me?"

Spike stopped mid-stride. He'd been heading back to his own bed when Xander's plea had come, and now he stood faltering between beds, unsure what to do,

"Xander?"

Spike wanted the boy to repeat the request. He wanted to hear it again. In truth, he wanted to hear it from a more sober Xander but, if drunk Xander asked again...

"Lie with me?" There was more hesitance in Xander's voice. As if he realised he as crossing some sort of unspoken boundary.

Spike chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, wrestling with his own conscience. Could he? SHOULD he? Xander was undeniably drunk. Wouldn't it be taking advantage?

"Spike, please?"

Maybe. Just maybe.

Maybe just this once it would be OK.