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Sabre Shadowkitten

Part Four

"I'm bored. I'm going to go kill something," Angel stated, pulling a double-headed axe from a file cabinet drawer. He twirled it in his hand and looked over at the two men sitting side-by-side at one of the desks. "Anyone want to come with?"

Spike and Wesley had been working non-stop on the translation for three solid hours, and Angel had been a pest for two of them until he'd been banished from the lobby. Xander had been highly amused when Angel had disappeared upstairs like a dog with his tail between his legs.

Soon after Xander and Spike had talked, Angel had returned with a large mug of blood and practically forced it down Spike's throat, all the while glaring at Xander. Wesley had returned, too, book in hand and ready to work, ending any further conversation between Spike and Xander. Cordelia, though, had not come back, and neither had Dawn.

Xander sat cross-legged on the registration counter, as quiet as a mouse. He was fascinated, unable to take his eyes off of Spike. He'd never seen Spike work so studiously before, or look so comfortable in the role of researcher, or seem so comfortable with those around him. If Xander hadn't been with Spike in the same room the entire time, he'd wonder where the pod was hidden.

"I could use a break," Wesley said to Angel, rising from his seat.

"Spike?" Angel inquired.

"Nah, you go ahead," Spike said distractedly, scribbling something on a second legal pad. "I'm going... to... hmm.... that's not right..."

Xander's lips curled up at how Gilesean Spike sounded, the glasses perched on the end of his nose only adding to the resemblance.

Angel turned to Xander, frowned, and offered reluctantly, "Harris?"

"No," Xander waved Angel away. "I think I'll stay injury-free, thanks."

Angel's frown deepened. "Don't bother Spike," he warned, spinning the fighting axe in his hand. "Let's go, Wes."

After Angel and Wesley left, Xander continued to observe the new Spike. Well, new to Xander, at least. He had a feeling that this Spike was considered 'normal' by the L.A. residents and Dawn.

Spike tossed the pen on the desk, leaned back in his chair, popped up his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. It was such a benign action, one Xander saw Giles do when he was frustrated or tired, but seeing Spike do it caused a bubble of laughter to escape.

The blond vampire glanced at Xander over the rims of his glasses, scarred brow raised. "Want to share, mate?"

Xander shook his head and hopped off the counter. "It's nothing," he said, walking over to the desk. He motioned to the books and papers spread across the surface. "Are you guys making any progress?"

"Yes and no," Spike admitted, although warily. "I know what it says in general, but not exactly."

"If you know what it says, why are you still working on it?" Xander asked, confused. Research had never been his strong point. Actually, he had no strong points when it came to World Savage; he just had big balls.

"Because it reads like a prophecy, and not a simple 'help me, help me' message," Spike replied, complete with a falsetto distress cry. He sighed and leaned forward again, studying the coffee-stained legal pad. "The problem with prophecies is, one wrong gerundive can change the whole soddin' meaning of the text."

Xander slid onto the chair Wesley had vacated. "I was under the impression that you and Wesley spoke Ishtar."

"Irushk, Xander. Ishtar is a horrid B-movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty," Spike said, chuckling. "I speak the language fluently, and Wes has a passable knowledge of it, but neither of us reads it very well. And like I said, prophecies are very precise."

"I take it Angel doesn't know Irushk," Xander surmised, looking at the squiggles on the legal pad.

"He knows a handful of words, enough to get a drink and a whore," Spike said with an openly affectionate smile. "Which is why his 'translation' was such a bleedin' gas. Five'll get you ten, he was acting all serious-like when he read it."

"Because Angel's such the joker," Xander said dryly.

"There's a lot about Angel you don't know, pet." Spike's voice was soft, serious. "Just like there's a lot you don't know about me."

Xander turned to Spike and studied him briefly, before admitting, "I'm beginning to see that."

Spike looked away suddenly, and cleared his throat. He began to straighten the papers and books on the desk with intense concentration. Xander almost laughed again. He'd flustered Spike!

"If there's nothing else on that pea brain of yours, Harris, I do have to get back to work," Spike said, a bit growly.

"Let me help," Xander said, suddenly desiring to prove he had more in his head than a tiny vegetable. "I'm tired of sitting on my ass, doing nothing."

"But you do it so well." Spike smirked at him.

"C'mon, I'm serious," Xander said. "I want to help."

The blond tilted his head to one side and he assessed Xander's sincerity, the he nodded decisively. "All right," he said. "I assume you don't know any Irushk."

"Not a peep."

"Then we'll look at this like a pictogram," Spike said. He tapped the page of squiggles. "Each of these symbols is a letter, the letters are grouped together to form words, and the spaces in between separate those words."

"So this one, this one, and this one are all the same word?" Xander asked, pointing to three places on the page.

Spike looked at Xander, impressed. "Maybe I was mistaken about your brain size. Good going."

Spike was complimenting Xander. Normally, the idea that the vampire would pay Xander a compliment was not only laughable, but Xander wouldn't have believed that what came out of Spike's mouth was sincere. Now, though, after getting to see what Xander suspected was the "real" Spike, the brunette had no doubt that Spike's compliment was just that: a compliment.

Xander flushed, pleased and slightly embarrassed that something so simple could make him feel so happy. "Um, so what do you want me to do?" he asked.

"The same thing you'd do with a pictogram." Spike handed him a pen and a fresh pad of paper. "Make words out of the symbols."

"This translates directly into English?"

Spike laughed lightly. "Not sensible words, no. Phonetically, however..."

"Got it." Xander pointed to one of the three matching words on the page. "Tell me what this says in Irushk."

"Wingilong," Spike read.

Xander wrote what he heard on his scratch paper, then pointed to another group of symbols that were repeated multiple times on the page. "And this?"


"And this?"

"Ohfong." "T'hingee." "Ay'."

Armed with a lot of nothing, Xander got busy. He scratched and scribbled, erased and nibbled on the eraser, and asked Spike to translate other symbols at times. Every so often, the brunette felt Spike's eyes on him, but when he looked up the vampire was hard at work.

At some point, Spike left and returned with coffee, which Xander drank without tasting as he continued to make nonsense words from symbols.

Xander reached for the cup without looking, and his hand closed over rough, cool skin instead of Styrofoam. He raised his eyes and saw that he and Spike had reached for the same cup of coffee simultaneously.

Turning his head, he met Spike's gaze, and the comment on his lips died at what he saw reflected in the vampire's sky blue eyes. Hope. Hunger. Longing. The impressions were fleeting, then a mask abruptly descended and all Xander could see reflected was himself.

"Hands off my coffee, kid," Spike said.

Xander quickly pulled his hand back. "I've had too much anyway." Way too much, to be seeing what he had in the blond's eyes.

Spike sipped the coffee, made a face, and set it aside. He gestured towards the pad in front of Xander. "How goes it?"

"I have almost all of them, I think." Xander passed the pad with a half-shrug. "I don't know how accurate it is, considering it's jibberish."

"If it was Jibberish, there'd be more rishini," Spike said solemnly.

"Hold on, hold on," Xander said. "There's a language called 'Jibberish?'"

"Of course."

Xander gaped at the vampire. "No way. You're lying."

Spike winked over the rims of his glasses. "Maybe."

Xander scowled, and Spike laughed before turning his attention to the brunette's work. He grew very still as he read, and Xander shifted uncomfortably. It was useless crap, Xander knew it, and Spike just didn't want to hurt his feelings.

Wait a minute, Spike not wanting to hurt Xander's feelings? In what reality was Xander living?

"Bugger all, Xander." Spike straightened and darted glances between the original and Xander's 'translation.' The vampire added a few words to Xander's page, then slumped in his chair. "Un-fucking-believable. If we would've asked for your help to begin with, I would've had a new coat of polish on my nails by now."

"Er... is that good?" Xander asked tentatively.

"Is what good?"

Xander jumped, startled, and spun on his seat. Angel and Wesley had sneaked in without him hearing, both covered in brown slime but looking quite cheerful. Kind of like Buffy after a good slay, Xander noted.

"Harris here translated the bloody prophecy," Spike answered.

"Really?" Wesley hurried over to the desk. "What does it say?"

Spike lifted the legal pad and read, "In English, it says:

When ice falls from a cloudless sky
and an Angel's eye forms in the heavens
The one which is three:
the hunter, the predatory, the prey,
will come forth.
He will join with a demon of hell
but a heart of light.
He will have the power of the gods
and so beings the first days of the Apocalypse."

When Spike was done, Angel gave Xander a suspicious look. "I didn't know you knew Irushk."

"I, uh, don't." Xander glanced at Spike. "Cricket here told me to treat the squiggles like a pictogram puzzle, so I did."


Xander grinned, glad to have the attention directed away from himself. He'd wanted to be seen as worthy, but now that it happened it was downright embarrassing. "Cricket," he repeated, pointing at Spike.

Angel turned to the other vampire with an upraised brow. "Cricket?"

"Grr," Spike said to Xander, with vast humiliation and little threat.

Xander batted his lashes and blew a kiss. Spike suddenly froze, staring at Xander over the rims of his glasses. Then he dropped his chin and smiled somewhat bashfully.

Angel looked at Spike, looked at Xander, then looked back at Spike. He groaned audibly and covered his face with his slimy hands. "I was not evil enough to deserve this."

Part Five

"Cordelia." Spike tossed his duster onto a chair in his room, which was on the second floor of the Hyperion. He closed the suite door behind him. "What're you doing in here? I was going to change, then join you and Dawn."

"Dawn crashed," Cordelia replied. She was leaning against the headboard of the bed, paging through a magazine, her nail kit on the night-stand beside her. "We're going shopping tomorrow."

The blond vampire shucked his boots, socks, and jeans, and crawled onto the bed with her. He pillowed his head on his arms and shot her a dopey, sideways grin. "Xander called me 'Cricket.' It's his new pet name for me."

"He should've called you 'Pathetic,'" Cordelia told him with an amused smile.

"Yeah," Spike sighed happily.

"How that boy can't see that you're head over heels for him is beyond me," Cordelia said. "Even if you hadn't told me, it's so obvious."

"That's easy, luv." Spike turned on his side and propped his head on his hand. "One, Harris is oblivious to the idea that another bloke would fancy him, especially if that bloke is me."

"And two?" she prompted.

"And two," Spike continued, "this is really the first time he and I have been in the same place since I realized I loved the tosser." He dropped his gaze and plucked at the comforter. "I've followed him around some after dark, but the need for my help has been very little, of late."

"No brooding," Cordelia scolded, exchanging her magazine for the nail kit. "Tell me instead your plan for winning his heart."

"Ignore him, mainly." Spike squirmed at the look she gave him. "What do you expect me to do? I'm done with the translation, which means we're probably leaving tomorrow... er," he glanced at the clock on the night-stand behind Cordelia, "...later tonight. Once we get back to Sunnydale, Dawn will want to see her other friends and I won't have an excuse to hang around."

"Dawn not being there is the perfect excuse for hanging around," Cordelia said. She wet a pad with nail-polish remover, took his hand, and started on his nails. "Ask Xander if he wants to catch a movie or something."

Spike stared at her in horror. "You mean, ask him on a date?"

"Saturday night is prime date night," Cordelia said pointedly.

The blond swallowed the knot of fear in his throat, and whispered nervously, "I don't think I could do that."

"The worst Xander could do is say no," she told him gently.

"No, the worst he could do is laugh in my face, or perhaps give me a right good kicking," Spike corrected. He shook his head. "I'd rather have a love that's unrequited than rejected."

"'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'"

"'Once a fool, always a fool,'" Spike quoted back. He made a disgusted noise. "Enough talk about my being chicken shit. Dish me on Dad's love life."

Cordelia snorted. "What love life? You two are probably the sexiest guys on the planet, and you're in love with another male, and Angel doesn't think he deserves to have a relationship so he avoids women like the plague." Cordelia glanced up from painting Berry Blue polish on his nails. "Can vampires get the plague?"

A knock on the door underlined Spike's answer in the negative.

"It's open!"

Xander wiped his surprisingly damp palms on his Dockers before grabbing the doorknob to Spike's room and giving it a twist. The vampire had disappeared soon after he'd given Xander that strangely bashful grin, and Xander had been shown to a room by Angel shortly thereafter. It was extremely late. Or early, depending on point of view. It didn't really matter, he still shouldn't be visiting Spike at this hour, especially since it was very possible that the vampire desired Xander for more than just a friendly game of checkers.

But that was the question motivating Xander to knock at the vampire's door at an odd hour of the morning. He wanted to know if Spike was into him, or hungered to be in him. Xander clenched his buttocks at the thought and suppressed the urge to run away. No one but doctors were allowed in there, and that was only if the brunette couldn't get out of the exam.

Then why was he standing outside of Spike's room?, an evil little voice chirped in the back of Xander's mind. "Because I need to tell Spike there's no way in hell I'd bend over for him," the brunette replied aloud.

Nodding in decisiveness, he threw open the hotel suite door, walked purposefully inside, and pulled up short. "Oh, uh... s-sorry," he stammered. Cordelia was in Spike's bed and, while she was fully dressed, Spike was only wearing a tee-shirt and underwear. "I didn't mean to interrupt..."

Wait, Spike was wearing underwear?

Xander checked again. Yep. Underwear. White Fruit-of-the-Looms, if his identification skills were accurate. He snickered. "I never pegged you for the tighty-whitey type, Cricket."

"What?" Spike said, confused.

Cordelia, however, tittered. "He's referring to your choice of underwear, Spike."

Xander hadn't known vampires could turn that color. He laughed as Spike scrambled to cover himself, earning squawks of protest from Cordelia. "Spike, your nails!"

The brunette was practically on the floor, he was laughing so hard. "Looks like... I interrupted... another... Girls Night In...," he gasped between riotous chuckles.

"Sod off." Spike was pouting, and blushing furiously, and had twin streaks of bright blue slashing his jaw.

Xander felt something tighten in his chest... which he quickly blamed on lack of oxygen. His laughter trickled off, and he smiled teasingly. "I can't wait to tell Buffy and the others about this."

Horrified, wide blue eyes turned on Xander. "You wouldn't."

Xander chuckled evilly. "Wanna bet?"

Spike pulled the comforter over his head, and a muffled choking sound could be heard. Cordelia winked at Xander, then patted the bed. "Come join us. I'll do your nails, too." She swatted the lump beside her. "After I fix Spike's."

A smudged-nail-polished hand emerged from under the covers and pointed in Xander's direction. "His fault! Hit him, not me!"

Xander took Cordelia's invitation only because he had the sudden need to sit down. Spike was acting... cute. Silly. And he was wearing white Fruit-of-the-Looms.

Cordelia grabbed Spike's hand and examined the fingernails. She sighed disgustedly. "Great. We have to start over from scratch.

More of Spike emerged from under the covers as he sat up, and the ruffled, still pink-cheeked blond stared balefully at Xander. "You're mean," he stated childishly and stuck out his tongue.

"Don't stick out your tongue if you don't plan on using it," Xander said automatically. Then he turned a pretty shade of pink.

"Do you two want me to leave?" Cordelia asked with a smirk.

"NO!" Spike and Xander exclaimed simultaneously and with equal alarm. Then they looked at each other and, again simultaneously, called, "Jinx!"

Both grown men snapped their mouths shut and looked hopefully at Cordelia. Neither was allowed to speak until someone said their name, according to the Jinx-game rules. Cordelia chuckled. "Not a chance. You'll both just have to stay silent until I'm done with your nails." She raised her Berry Blue nailbrush. "Who's first?"

Part Six

Spike sighed softly, causing Angel to look down at him. It was Saturday afternoon, and the two vampires were in the courtyard, the hotel's shadow allowing them to enjoy the clear day without fear. Spike was stretched out on a stone bench, his blond head resting on Angel's thigh. The older man was taking a break from researching the prophecy's meaning, and Spike had joined him. It had been many moons since the blond had visited L.A., and Angel was happy for the company. He had missed Spike greatly.

"What's that sigh for?" Angel asked. Spike's eyes reflected the cloudless sky, making his irises ten times more blue than usual. The brunette carded his fingers through Spike's partially gelled hair, waiting patiently for an answer.

Spike somewhat shrugged. "Just enjoying the day, s'all."

"You're not thinking about Xander?" Angel smirked at Spike's startled expression. "I know you're in love with him, Spike. Heck, a blind man could see that."

The younger vampire shifted slightly. "You don't think Xander knows, do you?"

"I said a blind man could see it, not a dumb one."

"Xander's not dumb," Spike scowled. "Take it back."

Angel's smile grew more amused. "Very well. Xander's not dumb, he's just an idiot."

Spike rolled his eyes. "I'll let that one slide, seeing as it's true."

The older vampire twined a white-blond lock of hair around his finger. "Will you ever tell him?"

"No," Spike replied firmly. "At least right now I can keep an eye on him at night. It would be impossible to protect him if I was laughed out of Sunnydale, or worse: staked."

"You don't think Buffy would come after you simply because you're in love with Xander?" Angel said.

"She might if she thought I had some sort of nefarious scheme going," he replied.

"Do you?"

"Of course I do." Spike grinned cheekily. "Only it involves auctioning off the Slayer's knickers to the highest demon bidder."

Angel tugged hard on the lock of hair between his fingers. Spike laughed. "Seriously," the younger vampire said. "I don't have any evil plans going. I just love the moron."

"Well, if things don't work out, remember you can always come home," Angel said.

"Home, huh?" Spike studied the other vampire a moment. "Is that what this place is?"

"For you, hopefully home is wherever I am," Angel replied tenderly. He watched as those sky blue eyes filled with tears, and clucked his tongue when they began to fall. "Hey, now. Living with me can't be all that bad."

"No," Spike smiled through his tears. "It's not all that bad."

Angel caught a teardrop with his finger. "Icy tears, warm heart," he whispered.

"Argh, bastard." Spike pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes. "You're not allowed to make me cry."

"Says who?"

"Says me." Spike lowered his hands, opened his eyes, and blinked rapidly. "Wild. I have colorful circles dancing in my vision." His gaze slid past Angel to the sky and after a moment he quoted softly, "'The soul would have no rainbow, had the eyes no tears.'"

Abruptly, he stood and kissed Angel on the forehead. "Love you, Pops," he said quickly, then disappeared into the hotel.

Angel smiled after him, watching through the window as he went to help Wesley. "Love you, too, sweet boy," the brunette murmured. "Love you, too."

The vampire raised his gaze to the clear blue heavens and inhaled the fragrant early summer air. It was a beautiful day. He hoped the prophesied apocalypse wouldn't ruin it.

Xander sat on the grand staircase, leaning against the brass railing, still half-asleep. His nails were bright blue, courtesy of Cordelia the Insane, with Spike sporting a matching set. Cordelia had not said either of the boys' names until after she had finished her nail torture. During their silent time, Xander had surreptitiously studied the blond conundrum while pretending to read his ex-girlfriend's Glamour magazine.

Spike had these cheekbones that became more defined when he pouted, which was every time Cordelia looked up from her manicure as he tried to get her to say his name. His sparkling blue eyes had matched his nail polish in the hotel suite's lamplight. He had a scar on his leg, a fairly nasty one that Xander had asked about once they could talk again. Spike had regaled them with a wild tale about a possessed lawnmower that had them both in stitches, until Xander had pointed out that it couldn't be true since there weren't lawnmowers back in the day, and vampires didn't scar. Then the blond had sheepishly told them he'd fallen off a bookshelf he'd climbed to reach a book when he was ten.

Xander had gone to bed shortly after that. Sheepish Spike was just too much to handle, on top of everything the brunette had witnessed earlier. A vampire wasn't supposed to have facets, and the fact that Spike did had greatly fried Xander's brain.

Sitting on the steps, Xander felt more or less confident that Pod Spike wouldn't freak him any longer. The blond vampire looked like he usually did, dressed in black jeans and tee -- no white jockeys in sight. He was bitching to Wesley while he helped the other man, a normality Xander was also glad to see.

"What's this? Angel's boy comes for a visit and no one bothers to call me?" a new voice boomed in the Hyperion lobby.

Xander stood as Spike smiled widely and quickly crossed the lobby. "Gunn!"

The blond was met by a large black man, who grabbed him in a tight hug before twisting an arm around his neck and giving him a noogie. Just when Xander thought he was fine with the strangeness, here was another person who immediately welcomed Spike.

"So, what brings you to L.A.?" Gunn asked, affectionately ruffling Spike's hair.

"Helping the souled demon with the poofy hair," Spike replied. He hitched up his jeans and rocked on his heels. "Yep. The old man couldn't do it on his own, 'cause as you know he's got a brain the size of a peanut, so he called in the big guns."

"Spike, you're so full of it," Angel said, smacking the younger vampire upside the head as he walked by.

"Did you bring the little ray of sunshine with you?" Gunn said.

"She's shopping with Cordelia," Spike said. Xander came down the stairs, anticipating an introduction to yet another person who thought Spike was the shit.

"Hail, hail, the gang's all here." Gunn turned to Angel. "I think this calls for a family dinner, don't you?"

"At Roosters?" Spike said eagerly.

"Where else?" Gunn answered with a grin at Spike. The black man caught sight of Xander. "Hello. I don't know you."

Spike gestured for Xander to come over. "Xander, meet Gunn, my badass brother-in-arms and Angel's lackey," he introduced. "Gunn, this is Xander, my... uh...," he paused a significant moment, his sky blue eyes searching Xander's face, " friend."

Gunn looked between Spike and Xander, then grinned again and punched the vampire on the arm. "I see how it is, you dog." He held out his hand. "Good to meet you, Xander."

"Same here," Xander responded, shaking the other man's hand.

Gunn nodded politely, released Xander's hand, and walked over to where Angel stood near the registration counter. "Family dinner, what do you say?" he prompted. "Spike's boyfriend can come, too."

Angel and Wesley both snickered. Xander stared at Spike, waiting for him to correct Gunn's erroneous assumption. Spike was looking intently at the lobby floor as if he wished it would open up and swallow him.

"I don't know," Angel drawled. "Spike's boyfriend might not want to join us for a family dinner."

"Shut up, Angel," Xander said, not looking away from Spike.

Spike lifted his chin and briefly met Xander's gaze. That was all it took for Xander to see that the vampire wasn't upset by the mistaken label. More like pleased, with a dash of bashful embarrassment thrown in. Internally, Xander freaked.

Externally, Xander barely caught Spike before his head smacked on the tile floor.

"What the hell?" Xander cradled the peroxide blond's head in his hands, watching wide-eyed as Spike began convulsing wildly. The vampire's pupils were tiny black pinpoints in a sea of blue, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. White spittle gathered at the corners of his slack mouth.

"Spike!" Angel exclaimed, dropping to his knees beside the prone, spasming blond. He reached for Spike and quickly drew his hands back when Spike levitated off the floor.

"This can't be good," Gunn said, gaping in shock as Spike's jerking body rose rapidly towards the ceiling.

"If he says he's an emissary for Gozer the Gozarian, I've truly seen it all," Wesley murmured.

Slack-jawed, Xander stared as Spike rose higher and higher, past the gold-plated hanging chandelier and into the painted dome ceiling. Just as he thought the vampire was going to pass right through the ceiling, Spike's body burst like a firework into glowing gold particles that slowly drifted towards the floor.

In the stunned silence of the lobby, the clink of a metal object hitting the tile was like a gunshot. Xander jerked and dropped his gaze, his eyes immediately finding a quarter-sized object on the floor in front of him. He picked it up, noting the wire prongs lining the sides and the glowing green window in the center. "Spike's chip," he whispered in disbelief.

Suddenly, Xander was on his back, being shaken roughly by an enraged brunette vampire. "What did you do to him?!" Angel snarled through his fangs. Wild gold eyes pinned Xander as effectively as Angel's bulk. "What did you do?!!"

"Nothing," Xander yelped, his head hitting the Parque tile with each violent shake by Angel.

"Angel, stop!" Gunn ordered. He and Wesley grabbed the vampire under the arms and dragged him off of Xander.

Xander blinked the stars out of his vision, stifling a groan of pain. He heard Angel, Wesley, and Gunn yelling at each other, but they sounded like they were in a tunnel. Concussion, possibly, Xander mentally diagnosed himself. He touched the back of his head and his fingers came away bloody. A contusion, too, he thought.

"You're bleeding all over the floor." Xander felt something press against the back of his head, and he hissed in pain. "Bloody pillock. I think we need to get you to a hospital, Xander."

"Good idea," Xander said between clenched teeth. At the hospital, maybe they could explain why he'd just seen Spike explode and was now hearing his voice.

Xander raised his eyes without moving too much and saw Spike kneeling behind his head, looking down at him with worry. "You're glowing," Xander said. "And you're naked."

Spike glanced at his lap, pressed his thighs tighter together, and blushed. "I see that. You, uh, see that, too."

"You're pretty good looking," Xander slurred as the world lost focus, "for a dead guy."

"Xander, don't conk out on me," Spike said, his voice growing fainter with each word. "Xander, come on, luv..."

"Sorry, Cricket. Gonna take a nap now. 'Night," Xander said, allowing the darkness to pull him under.



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