Helping Lame Dogs

"So, take a look at yourself. What do you think? Convincing?"

"Hey, that's great! I even scare myself!"

"Sure you know how to put it on and everything?"

"No problem. I'll make the phone call first though. I can't talk properly with all this junk in my mouth."

"Remember to keep the recorder running; you need proof before we pay up. Sure, you're a frat house brother but that doesn't mean we trust you."

"No worries. I'll have that silly bitch thinking she's doomed to an unlife as Drac's girlfriend in less than five minutes. Heh. As we've shaken on it and all, I should just let you in on a secret."

"What's that?"

"This isn't going to be as hard as you guys all thought it would be. She's actually from here in Sunnydale. According to her, she's a third generation 'Daler and it's a well-known 'fact' that vampires and other nasties outnumber most of the population here. They just don't talk about it much."

"You're kidding, right? You're even sicker than I thought then, pulling this on a believer. Man, you crack me up..."


Spike walked through the cemetery, crypt ward bound and happy. A smile persisted in tugging at his lips and if he'd had a tail, he would have wagged it. Being a vampire, he was spared a caudal appendage but he threw in a bit of an extra swagger to his step to make up for that.

"Never thought it'd happen," he mused. "Kissing me, well, practically throwing herself at me really."

He and Buffy had been teamed up against a matched set of demons and during the fight they had achieved a smooth flowing rhythm that was almost transcendental. Spike had often felt joy in killing and relished the fight itself as much as the coup de grace but this was something new to him.

Buffy had felt it too and though she would have been shocked, repelled and angry if someone had told her that she was enjoying killing, the fact remained that the swirling patterns of the combat had left her energised and euphoric. As the demons died she had turned to Spike, eyes sparkling, face sheened with sweat and exuberantly hugged him, kissing him full on the mouth and remaining within his embrace as he responded eagerly.

It hadn't lasted of course. Scant seconds later, when his cool lips had begun to warm against her mouth, she had pulled away with a startled yelp, given him a look of mingled desire and despair and left without a word.

"Didn't punch me though," Spike thought, trying to look on the bright side.

Emerging from his reverie as he reached his home, his good mood evaporated as he saw two figures, one male, one female, struggling violently.

"Right outside my front door!" he thought indignantly.

Striding forward, he spotted the ridges of a vampire on the face of the larger figure and guessed that this was a chance to play the white knight by rescuing the woman who had been chosen as a snack. Except he wasn't that much of a hypocrite. Without the chip, he'd have been doing much the same after all. He did have to check who the human was though; this close to his crypt it could well be someone he knew. He didn't fancy explaining to Buffy how Anya or Tara had become vampire munchies right in front of his door while he stood and watched.

Moving closer he stared in astonishment. The woman was a stranger so no worries there, but she was attacking the vampire not the other way around. She was armed with a stake that looked pointy enough to do the job, and for some reason the vamp wasn't swatting her aside like a fly but was cowering away, yelping out protests.

As Spike moved closer he became aware of something else. Because of that, when the woman kicked the vampire's feet from under him, landed on his chest and raised her stake high, Spike risked a chip induced headache to spring forward and tear the stake from her hand. Turning she glared furiously at him. The chip hadn't triggered which made Spike happy but given the look on her face he felt even happier that he was the one with the stake. Not that she knew what he was of course and he planned to keep it that way.

"What are you doing?" she screamed. "Give me that stake, now, while I've got him helpless!"

"I'm not a vampire, Julia! It was a frat house joke, that's all, you've got to believe me!" begged the man on the floor.

"I can see that," said Spike scornfully. "Your fangs are slipping."

"What?" The girl turned back and looked closely at the figure beneath her. "You low life!"

Using her fists, she began to punch him with little technique and less accuracy, made up for by her ferocity. Spike had had enough. He didn't dare pull her off her victim but he took a chance and grabbed the man by his collar and hauled him out from under her in one swift movement, setting him on his feet.

"What the hell is going on?" he demanded.

"He told me he was a vampire and I was going to be one too because he bit me when we were, were..."

"I get it, love. But why did you believe him? That makeup job's OK but it's not that convincing."

"I've lived here all my life," she said simply. "I wasn't taking chances."

That was enough for Spike who could only imagine how many of her family and friends had mysteriously died during her life. He nodded and turned to her boyfriend who was leaning against the side of the crypt, panting and fingering a swollen lip.

"So, mate. What's the idea then? When did November 4 become April Fool's Day?"

"It was a joke," the man muttered. "Well, a bet really. I had to get her to believe she was going to turn into a vampire. I'm an actor -"

"A student in the drama club!" interrupted his girlfriend, with a hate filled glare.

"And this was like, the ultimate test, you know? Could I really be a vampire, could I immerse myself in the role and -"

"Oh, make like a tree," said Spike, bored and disliking the little runt intensely.

"Huh? How old is that? OK, I'll 'leaf', if that's what you mean."

"Actually," said Spike, looming over him, "I meant, 'stay there while I get an axe and chop off your legs', but whatever."

"I'm going, don't worry. God, I can't wait to get out of this dump and tell 'em how gullible you hicks are. Wait till they hear the - "

"The what?" said Julia. "Were you actually taping this, Simon, you scum?"

"Heh, certainly was, sweetie and you're going to be the star attraction at the next frat party."

Spike tensed, ready to attack then relaxed as he remembered that he was chipped, the Big Bad and therefore immune to feelings of sympathy towards betrayed lovers and oh, the hell with it, he was going to take one good swing at the plonker and -

"Well, well, what's this, Spike? You making a collection of nibbles for any vampires who can still bite?"

Spike groaned inwardly. He still ached from fighting the demons and the last thing he wanted was another scrap. This was definitely an unneeded complication.

"Just piss off, Gray, OK. These people are friends of mine."

"I'm not your friend!" yelped Simon. "And this guy's makeup is pathetic. What's going on here anyway? Are you people all nuts? Inbreeding maybe?"

As Gray's attention focused on the twittering human, Spike took hold of the girl's hand and pulled her gently behind him. He didn't bother to whisper; vampire hearing was acute enough that it was pointless, he simply said softly, "Run, love. Run as fast as you can to that crypt over there and stay in there till I say it's safe."

As she hesitated he turned and showed her his game face. "I'm safe, trust me. Gray isn't. Make a choice."

She stared at him and said unexpectedly, "Do you know Buffy?"

"Not in the Biblical sense but I'm getting there."

"I fought with her on Graduation Day. I saw her with you once at the Magic Box. If she trusts you, that's good enough for me."

"Wonderful. Now get the hell out of my way."

Charging forward, Spike slammed into Gray who had his fangs deep in Simon’s neck and buried his borrowed stake in the appropriate spot.
An easy end to the fight. Except Gray was wearing body armour in the shape of a thick leather jacket and several rolls of blubber. The stake was poor quality too and snapped off, leaving Spike weaponless and up against someone who outweighed him and had arms like a gorilla.

Stepping back swiftly, Spike attempted to reason with 300 pounds of enraged vampire. That didn't work. Maybe if he'd had chance to say more than, "Now let's not take that out of context, shall we?" before getting punched he'd have been more successful.

Probably not.

The fight raged on for approximately two minutes by which time Spike was bruised, battered and bloody. It had been such a nice night, too....
His suffering ended, not with a dusty oblivion but a shower of blood as Gray's head was separated from his body. Rolling over, Spike looked up to see the girl holding his axe.

"You mentioned it earlier," she said defensively. "And, no offence, but you looked a bit close to losing and if that happened  - "

"You'd have been dessert. No problem. Nice swing. How's lover boy doing?"

She gave Simon a cursory glance. "Bleeding seems to have stopped but he's going to have lots of scarring."

She didn't sound sorry.

"Do me another favour, pet? Get him out of here before you call an ambulance. I really don't need any attention drawn to me."

Julia spared another glance at Simon who was now sobbing hysterically and said grimly, "He won't say a word. I've got the tape; it fell out during all the excitement. If he dares to try anything on, I'll make him regret it."

As she half led, half dragged her former boyfriend away, Spike sighed. Sometimes Sunnydale just got a bit much, even for him. On the bright side though, Gray was no loss, hmm, come to think of it, hadn't he owed him some money?

With good humour restored, Spike lit a cigarette, smoked it with the feeling that he'd earned it, and then sauntered over to his crypt. His hand was on the door when he heard a scream from the general direction Julia and Simon had taken.

"Oh, bugger, not again!" Spike stood on the doorway, trapped by indecision. To fly to the rescue or to ignore the pitiful cries for help? Frankly he couldn't give a toss about Simon's fate, although if he turned up as a vampire it would be a major annoyance, but if Julia was a friend of Buffy's….

Sighing, he turned and began to run towards the screams. Slowly.

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