Bloody Hell. He'd only walked into the store for cigarettes. He was only gone for ten minutes; the time it took to buy a pack and steal some chocolate. The boy was left in the car, like a hundred times before. Spike wasn't worried about him moving or running off; he knew what the punishment was for disobedience. Hell, he ought to, he'd been punished enough at the beginning, every time he tried to run away, Spike caught him, usually in an embarrassingly short amount of time. He'd then torture him very carefully and creatively, wouldn't do to mark his pet up and ruin all that golden skin. And when his pet finally broke
down in tears and begged him to stop? Well then, Spike would laugh and leave him tied to the bed for a day or two to ram the lesson home. His pet learned eventually.

Just like he'd learned not to go to others for help; he'd only done that once and after Spike had snapped the man's neck in front of him; his pet had never done it again.

Jesus, where was he, dammit! Spike knew he wasn't dead. He'd claimed the boy; he'd know the moment that heart stopped beating, wouldn't he? He was planning on being the one to make it happen.

He carefully lit his cigarette, proud that his hands weren't shaking. He leaned against the Desoto and watched the drama across the street unfold. Funny thing, he'd always loved a good burning building, there was something about the drama generated by a really big fire that warmed his cold heart; grand guignol on a real life stage with all the screaming, tears and dying.

He was going to beat the living blood out of his boy when he reappeared. If the whelp thought he suffered before he didn't know anything about demons, despite his years on the Hellmouth. Spike'd been easy on him, soft even with just enough of the whip hand to ensure
obedience, or so he thought. Yeah, he'd been too gentle, didn't want another Dru on his hands after all. Still wanted a pet that he could hold a conversation with, hoist a beer or two on occasion.

He barely jumped as part of the porch collapsed in a fiery geyser of molten material. There was still the back door, wasn't there? The firemen hadn't given up, no need to move. He took a deep drag, holding the smoke in his lungs, trying to remember back when he was human how long he'd been able to hold his breath; a minute, longer?

Stupid whelp, didn't appreciate how rare it was for a master to keep a human pet and treat him so well. Boy didn't know how lucky he was; well he would when he came out, Spike would make sure of that. Bloody Hell! Where was he?

You'd think his pet would have learned after all this time, don't stick your neck out, you'll just get it bitten. It wasn't like the boy knew anyone in this town, in that building and hadn't Spike taught him, trained him? You don't care about others and no one cares about you; the boy knew that, he knew it! At least, Spike always thought he did, thought his pet had learned his lesson when his so called friends couldn't be bothered to find him, rescue him from Spike's evil clutches.

Spike lit his next cigarette from the stub of his old one. The roof was going to go any minute, he could tell, seen enough burning buildings; the low groaning that proceeded the main structure's final destruction. He glanced at the crowd, the policemen herding them back from the eminent collapse. They all heard it than, it wasn't just an old memory surfacing with a vengeance. Well, fine than, good, the boy would have heard it too. He'd been coming out anytime now, any minute.

The building gave a final shudder before crumbling inward in slow motion. Spike stared at the pile of burning rubble, his cigarette forgotten in his hand. Stupid pet: stupid, stupid pet. Well, you could take the White Knight out of Sunnydale, you could screw him 'til he screamed, but apparently you couldn't take the hero out of the boy.

He waited for one minute, five, ten, then twenty before dropping his burned out cigarette to the ground and carefully rubbing it out with the toe of his boot. He slid into the driver's seat, every movement methodical and deliberate. He reached into his pocket for the keys and encountered the chocolate he'd nicked earlier. He stared at the bars for a moment, his vision blurry from all the smoke, than rolled the window down to hurl them into the street. He froze when he heard the passenger door click open and the strong scent of smoke assailed his senses. There was a rough cough and Spike turned to confront a singed and familiar face. He stared at the boy in silence. The boy stared back calmly before coughing again and
rubbing at his soot blackened face.

Spike pulled a bandana out of his duster and handed it to his pet. He than dropped the candy bars in his lap and started the car.

"You do that again and I'll tan your hide," he said.

He missed the small smile that crossed the young man's face. "Yes Spike."

The End