Spike always knew he'd die one day; die for real, die forever. Like everyone else he did his best to put it off as long as possible. Unlike the humans he spent most of his time with he knew exactly where he was going - straight back to Hell where he belonged. It didn't matter how 'good' he was or how many people he saved or different he seemed from other vampires; he was damned, pure and simple. And nothing he did was ever going to change that fact. That wasn't what bothered him.

What bothered him was spending the last years of his life leashed in by a piece of fucking human technology. It kept him from really letting lose and performing his function to the fullest. After all every vampire knew you only had so long to kill and maim before your number was up. You had to make the most of it. And to do that you had to find that fine
line between all out slaughter and the more subtle forms of dealing death. That's what made a really successful vampire and up until the government had muzzled him Spike had been one successful vampire.

He licked his lips in fond remembrance of his first kill; that would be William. Angel had given the humans some song and dance about the demon not getting your soul just your memories. What a load of crap but then he'd been trying to get into the Slayer's bed and
using the old soft sell. It was true; Spike hadn't gotten William's soul. No, that had gone straight to Hell where poor William was even now writhing in eternal torment. Because like every other person who became a vampire, his last act had been committed willingly; William drank Drusilla's blood, swallowed it all down and didn't spit it out. The Powers That Be did not make allowances for digestive reflexes. Hell they didn't even make allowances for age; witness the Anointed One.

Spike took a long pull from his bottle of whiskey. He'd killed quite a few children in his time. He used to scare the Nibblet with stories about how he'd done it but he'd never damned a child's soul to Hell by making one a vampire. He sighed forlornly, another goal shot. Well 'no use crying over spilt milk'. He did his best.

He encouraged Dawn's more anti-social tendencies, but subtly. There wasn't much he could do about Dawn; like him she didn't have a soul. Unlike him when she died she wouldn't be going anywhere but 'poof'. Not much fun in that but she could still cause trouble. Truth be told, he really was fond of the girl. Well as fond as a soulless demon could be of anything. He thought of her as his little gadfly buzzing about and occasionally biting. She'd get better at that as she got older, her ability to cause trouble expanding exponentially. She'd probably break up a few marriages, stab a few backs, probably stop short of murder though. Oh well, he smiled, the little imp.

If he was a betting demon, and he was, he would place his money on Willow for the Big M. He was and always had been very careful of her. He patiently built the illusion that he found her use of magic worrisome and possibly dangerous. He would warn the others about her
use of spells, but always just a little too late for them to stop her. The day Tara showed up he'd torn his crypt apart. He was sure he'd lost her but then Glory came along and all was right with his world again. Of course everyone was worried about Willow and her magic but well, Dawn needed protecting and the 'ends justify the means.' He loved that phrase. It made a demon's job so much easier. He knew he had her the night she brought the Slayer back from the dead. It would take far better people than her friends to bring her back from the Darkness. And the truth be told, far more interested ones as well.

Rupert was a write off. Word on the street was that his soul was signed sealed and delivered. No point in going after a done deal. Besides, out of sight, out of mind. And while he enjoyed tormenting the Slayer, playing the tortured demon soul in love, she too was off limits. Once a soul made it to Heaven it was game, set and match. Add to that the fact that her dear, dear friends had dragged her kicking and screaming from her eternal reward, well, she would have to cause World War III before her final judgment could be reversed. He was only biding his time anyway.

Of course if he wanted a sure bet on homicide there was always Anya. Again, no chance of getting her soul damned, she'd done that herself when she accepted D'Hoffryn's offer. Still, as a human she was so bloody annoying that there was a good chance that some poor sod would kill her and buy himself a one way ticket to darkness. She wasn't much fun though. He couldn't really push her buttons. She knew exactly what he was doing. Hey, they were demons, causing strife and grief is what they did. She worked on breaking up Xander's life long friendship with Willow. He worked on everyone else. They all thought Anya didn't know she was annoying. She knew, she revelled in it, like him she was stuck and bored and knew it was only a matter of time until her number was up. He had a grudging respect for her. She didn't have a lot to work with and yet she managed to cause an almost constant level of discomfort.

They had a good cop, bad cop act going where the Scoobies were concerned. He played to the crowd while she moved behind the scenes. He shrugged. It wasn't the level of damage that either one of them was used to causing but, hey, you worked with the tools you had. The only thing that kept them from going right around the bend with sheer boredom was the whelp. When it came to Xander, they had a friendly little rivalry.

* * * * * * * *

The first time Spike saw the boy he damn near came on the spot. With Angel holding the twisting little morsel's neck Spike had all the time in the world to breathe in the heady aroma of fear, anger, betrayal and just a hint of arousal; and underneath all that was something else, something old and strong, primal and predatory. It was glorious, almost sublime. All that emotion and from someone fresh out of childhood too, Spike knew what that meant, a nasty home life, maybe even abuse. This boy would make a wonderful vampire, the wounded ones always did. Still, Spike was intrigued by that Other that he smelled. He decided to be patient. It was the right decision.

The years wandered on and Spike played his subtle games with the Scoobies but he devoted the lion's share of his attention to Xander. Anya twisted his thoughts and Spike played decoy for the demoness. Of course, being a demon, he betrayed her in the end, ruining her wedding day by calling in a favor from a friend. She'd been spitting mad but played the tragic bride to the hilt. She gave in with ill grace but knew that she'd lost, as had every demon present that day. Spike made sure that Xander would never marry her now. She hadn't liked that at all but she painted a smile on her face and hissed a polite congratulation to the vampire and bided her time.

* * * * * * * * * *

Spike flung his bottle against the stone angel guarding the graves. He was waiting for his Nummy to come to him. They were going hunting again tonight. Over the years, it had taken a great deal of work on the vampire's part to find out about the Hyena, even more to slowly coax it forth but his patience was marvellously rewarded. What started in the basement with whispered inducements in the boy's ear while he slept now ended with howls of mutual delight as they fucked.

* * * * * * * * *

The first thing he did after the wedding was to grudgingly console the bewildered young man. It took months of playing the Slayer obsessed vampire to plant the seed that 'yes, perhaps vampires can love'. He timed Buffy's dismissal of him almost perfectly. She 'dumped' him right before the wedding putting him in the perfect position to commiserate with the now single young man. From consolation had come tolerance and then friendship and then 'love'. And all the while Spike carefully called to the ancient spirit within the boy. Since the hyena floated closer to the surface when Xander was drinking, that was the route the vampire took. They would go out, play some pool, have a few beers and the blonde would spend the evening 'accidentally' brushing up against the boy.

The first time the boy actually snarled at him to 'knock it off' he was thrilled. It wasn't just anger he smelled, he saw the flash of green in the boy's eyes. Spike acted offended. They argued, Xander took a swing at him and knocked him to the ground. Spike bit him on the shoulder revelling in the pain. The bouncer threw them both out on their arses but it was worth it. Xander hauled him up by his duster and outlined in great detail what he would do to the blonde if anything like that ever happened again. Spike dropped his head in apparent submission. That was the first time they kissed.

Hyena Xander threw him up against the wall of the alley and attacked his mouth, biting and licking at the resulting blood. Spike nearly howled in frustration when the boy came to his senses in shock. Xander stammered an apology reaching his hand out for understanding. Spike timed his flinch with precision. After all he was a chipped vampire incapable of
defending himself against rapacious humans. Xander was horrified.

Now it was Spike who needed consoling and Xander who comforted him. More apparent submission on Spike's part and a few well-placed catches in his voice, as he explained about Angelus and the horror of his turning. Soon Xander was taking a blushing virgin vampire to
his bed. From that point on, it was only a matter of time until the Hyena was making an almost nightly appearance.

It lay just below the surface now colouring every thing, every thought and action. Buffy made a harsh comment to the vampire and his pet's eyes flashed. Xander ventured an opinion that Willow dismissed and there was the hint of fang in his smile. And they never noticed, not the Slayer nor the Witch. Giles might have noticed but he'd abandoned his flock to the wolves' months ago. Only Anya knew what he was doing. He smirked at her while the others were busy dealing with the latest emergency and ignoring the crisis in their midst. She smiled with frozen politeness. Demons were such sore losers.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

He sniffed the air scenting the approach of his pet. He really was fond of the boy almost doting on him like a Childe. If all went well, tonight Xander would make his first human kill and they would enjoy a meal together. The Hyena was much stronger then it had been all those months ago, gaining in power all the time. Soon it would be strong enough to hold sway permanently unless it was exorcised. There was no one left among the Scoobies strong enough to do the deed. And even if there were, well, Spike smiled to himself, the chances of it being successful were very slim. No, it was much more likely that the exorcism would kill
the boy.

No, Spike had it all worked out. The Hyena would get stronger and stronger until the rest of the gang could not help but notice. They would try an exorcism and fail. The boy would die or they would be forced to kill him. Perhaps, he would manage to kill a few of them first. Either way the result would be a dead and damned Xander baring a miracle, and there were bloody few of those.

Spike smiled dotingly. A prudent demon plans for his future. After all, eventually Spike's number would be up. It happened even to the best of them and then it was back to the Pit. And he really was fond of that boy.

The End