The Blind Leading


by Saber ShadowKitten







Part One



"Oh, come on, you dumb twat!" Spike leaned forward on his chair, glaring angrily at the blond-haired woman. "It's not that bloody difficult! As You Like It. Say 'What is, As You Like It?'"

"What is The Twelfth Night?"

"I'm sorry, that is incorrect."

Spike slumped back in his chair in disgust, Alex Trebeck moving on to the next Jeopardy answer on his television screen. Why did he watch this show?, the vampire wondered as another wrong question was given. "Because you're a chipped nonce with no unlife," he muttered to himself in response.

After a week of laying low, avoiding Buffy and her post-breakup temper, Spike was itching to get out and create some old fashion chaos and mayhem. Of course, his destructive tendencies were now focused on his fellow non-humans due to the thrice-damned chip in his skull, but at least he could still cause trouble and get into beautiful fights. He didn't know what he'd do if those things were taken away from him, too.

Behind him, the crypt door creaked, and he sniffed the air. Perking up before reminding himself that she was most likely still in a snit, he stood to greet the blond Slayer that stomped into his crypt. "Slayer, how nice of you to drop baa--"

Buffy cut Spike off in her usual cliched manner -- by bodily ramming him against the support column in the center of the crypt. She slammed him against the sharp corner of the column, rather than the flat side, and his head snapped back under the stronger-than-normal shove. He felt his skull crack on the stone corner, like an egg on the side of a frying pan.

"What do you know about the Rite of Galabaresh?" Buffy growled.

Spike looked at her for a half-second, thinking about how sexy she was when she was pissed. Then his eyes rolled back, the whites completely exposed, and his body began to jerk in the Slayer's grasp: hard, uncontrolled spasms, as if he'd grabbed a live wire. Blood started to run from his nose, and he collapsed to the ground, twitching wildly, when Buffy quickly backed away.

"Oh no, I broke him," Buffy gasped. "Giles is going to kill me."

The blond Slayer turned and ran from the crypt, leaving Spike bleeding from his ear onto the dirty floor.

*****

Spike raised his head at the sound of voices and people entering the crypt. He was sitting on the floor, with his back against the stone support column, facing the crypt door. His head ached in a way that made Riley's staking him with a hunk of plastic feel like a tickle. But that wasn't the worst part...

"Spike, are you all right?"

Giles's voice, mostly annoyed with a hint of concern, came from in front of him, close by.

"That better not have been a trick, Spike."

Buffy, anger in her voice at the possibility of having been duped, coming from somewhere to his left.

"He's bleeding." Willow. Quick footsteps, and then her voice directly in front of him, her breath warm on his face. "Here, Spike. Use this."

Spike sat there, blinking rapidly, looking right where Willow should be.

He saw nothing.

When he'd first returned to consciousness, complete with the swimming feeling that always made him nauseous, he'd thought that he'd been taken prisoner by someone or something. The amount of pain he was in had told him that he wasn't dead, only that he wished he was. He'd immediately gone to remove the blindfold covering his eyes... to find that he hadn't been wearing one.

He'd been confused for a moment, but then had decided that he'd been locked in a windowless room, which was why everything was pitch black. He'd forced himself to sit up, despite the pain, and had moved around until he'd found something solid to lean against. Forcibly ignoring his aching head, he'd concentrated on the sounds and smells of his prison, trying to determine where he was or perhaps who or what had captured him.

It had taken him less than ten seconds to realize he was still in the crypt.

Ten minutes later, he was trying to stave off his panic when he came to the realization that he was blind.

Spike's hands shot out with the intent to violently shove Willow away. A familiar but no less excruciating pain lanced through his head, and he barely heard the redhead's squeak of distress and her bottom hitting the crypt floor as he cried out in agony. He grabbed his skull and pressed his forehead against his upraised knees, curling in on himself. His brain felt like it was going to explode.

"...Wounded animal," filtered through the rushing in Spike's ears. "...Should leave..."

"No!" Spike shouted with a sob. Tears streaming down his face, he raised his head and looked in what he hoped was Giles's direction. "Don't go. I need help, damn it!"

Buffy snorted. "Since you asked so very nicely..."

"Buffy," Giles chided. Footsteps, heavier tread, coming closer to Spike. "Spike, what seems to be the problem?"

"That bitch of yours slammed me against the bloody post, cracked my skull, and now I can't see!" the vampire exclaimed, pain and fear causing a slightly hysterical edge to his voice.

"Your attitude precludes anyone from offering you assistance," Giles snapped. "If you wish my help, do not refer to Buffy, or any of my charges, in that manner again."

Spike was silent for a moment, before he mumbled, "Sorry."

"Wow, Spike must really need help," Willow said quietly to Buffy, although Spike, with his preternatural hearing, could hear her clearly in his right ear. "He actually apologized. And- and look, he's crying, although I've seen him do that before. You know, when he came back all drunk and heartbroken and kidnapped me and Xander. But he's still bleeding from his nose--"

"And his ear," Buffy added, her voice at normal level. "Giles, I didn't hit his nose or his ear."

"Yes, Buffy, you told me what happened," Giles said. Spike could feel the Watcher crouch in front of him, could smell the biscuits on his breath. Something soft was pressed into the vampire's hand. "For your nose," he was told.

Spike wiped under his nose with what he assumed was a handkerchief, then roughly brushed the wetness from his cheeks. Hell, he was crying in front of Buffy. How manly. So what if he was literally feeling the definition of the word agony? His Slayer didn't tolerate wimps.

"You said something about not being able to see?" Giles questioned him.

"Yeah," Spike replied, wadding the handkerchief in his hand. "I can't see a soddin' thing."

"Can you see me?"

Spike scowled in the direction where he assumed Giles was. "Which part of 'I can't see a soddin' thing' didn't you get, mate?"

"True, my apologies," Giles said. "What I should have asked is: what can you see?"

Spike growled in frustration, but before he could snap at the Watcher, Giles clarified, "Is everything blurry? White? Grey? Black?"

"Black," Spike answered. He felt the air move in front of his face and caught Giles's hand on a downswing. "Unless you're doing some hocus-pocus, waving your digits in my face isn't going to fix me."

"And how did you know he was doing that?" Buffy said. "See, Giles, I was right. Spike just wants to get out of telling us what he knows about the Rite of Galabaresh."

Why do I have the hots for her again?, Spike wondered. She was such a whiny little bint at times, uncaring of anyone but herself. Okay, yes, she was damn sexy, all that power squashed into the tiniest body. And her eyes, big expressive pools of warmth that he could drown in. And she always smelled good, even when she'd been fighting and worked up a sweat. In fact, she smelled even better then.

Swell, now both of his heads hurt.

"I knew, Slayer," Spike emphasized her title, "just like you know someone's about to take that airhead of yours off your shoulders." She hmphed, but did not comment further.

"Turn your head to the right," Giles instructed the vampire. "I'm going to touch you."

"Oh, baby, baby," Spike said tonelessly as he did as told. Giles's fingers were warm on his cool skin as the Watcher poked around his ear. He assumed the ear being scrutinized was the one that was bleeding, which would explain why he couldn't hear very well with that one.

"By the way," Giles said, prodding away with his fingers. "Do you know anything about the Rite of Galabaresh?"

"Are you going to stop helping me if I say I don't?"

"The thought had crossed my mind," Giles replied.

"You are a right bastard, Rupert," Spike stated. The fingers stopped and all was silent until he huffed, "You win. The Rite of Galabaresh can be stopped by nicking anything off the altar and holding onto it until after midnight the night of the ritual. S'all I know."

"When does the ritual take place?" Buffy asked. "And where?"

Spike shrugged. "Don't know, don't care. Haven't been out much since your ex decided to poke a hole in my heart before leaving you," he leered in what he thought was her direction, the double-meaning obvious, "high and dry."

"Giles, isn't it more humane to put down a wounded animal?" Buffy asked innocently.

"Normally, yes--"

"Hey!" Spike exclaimed.

"--but since Spike did provide us with information, I think assisting him would be a- a fair trade," Giles finished. Spike felt the Watcher take him under the arm. "Come along, Spike. We need to clean the blood from your ear before I can ascertain what is wrong."

Spike rose to his feet and would have fallen again if Giles hadn't have had a good grip on him, his balance off. His head throbbed mercilessly, and not being able to see had him wound up tighter than a string, which didn't help his headache any. He took a single step forward, with Giles guiding him, then froze as reality once again smacked him in the face.

He was blind.





Part Two





It hadn't gone away.

Spike had hoped that the old adage of 'walking it off' would hold true. Wrong. All walking had done was cause him to pass out again, shortly after he'd heard the Watcher say something about blood gushing from the back of his skull. He had reawakened in Giles's Mid-Life Crisis Mobile, with his face in Willow's lap and her pressing something against the back of his head. She'd smelled like the other Witch, and the images that had popped into his mind had aroused him enough that he'd made a mental note to spy on them some time.

When he could see again, that was.

Spike was currently sprawled face down on Giles's dining table, with his head hanging off the end. A towel had been rolled and placed under his chin to prop his head slightly and prevent him from cutting his Adam's apple on the edge of the table. There was probably a sheet on the floor to prevent his blood from staining the carpeting.

Giles was seated in front of him -- he could tell by how loud the man's heartbeat was -- and, Satan help him, Buffy was straddling his back, holding his head still as the Watcher poked around. Spike could feel her heat, through her pants and his tee-shirt, burning a hole in his skin. If it wasn't for the fact that his brains felt as though they were leaking out his ear, he'd be on the fifth stair to heaven and working his way up.

It turned out the reason his head felt like it was split open was because it was split open. The Slayer had done a right good number on him, if the chastising she'd gotten from Giles was any indication. Spike knew she'd hit him harder than usual -- he'd felt it first hand -- but he hadn't thought it she'd shoved him that hard.

"Is that the chip?" Buffy asked.

"You can see the chip?" Spike said quickly.

"It appears to be the chip, yes," Giles replied. "It also appears to be damaged. The outer casing has broken." He lightly touched the exposed wires with the tweezers in his hand.

White sparks shot from the chip, and Spike began jerking wildly beneath Buffy. Buffy clamped down with her thighs and gave Giles a panicked look. The acrid scent of smoke and burnt flesh rose from the vampire's split skull. Blood began to leak from Spike's nose and ear again, running down his face and dripping onto Giles's trousers and chair.

Giles cleared his throat when Spike's body when still. "Oops."

"Oops?" Willow called worriedly from over by the bookshelf.

"Big oops," Buffy said. She adjusted her position on Spike's back and leaned forward. "Spike, are you ali- er, undead?"

"No," Spike whispered roughly. It hurt. Bloody hell, did it hurt. He hadn't passed out this time, but he wished he had. Not even Buffy's squirming could distract him from the agonizing pain.

"Oh, hey, Giles," Buffy said. "See that glowing green thing in Spike's chip? It looks like the same stuff that had kept Adam running."

Which meant the batteries would never run out on the soddin' thing, Spike thought unhappily. Unless he managed to get the chip removed, he would never hunt humans again. "Take it out," he rasped.

"If he does, I'll stake you before you get off this table," Buffy warned, her fingers tightening on the sides of his head. Ow.

"I- I don't think that I could, anyway, in its damaged state," Giles said. He adjusted the light and the strong magnifying glass that was attached by a flexi-arm to it. "Not without destroying a good portion of Spike's brain."

"Wouldn't it just grow back?" Willow asked, joining them with an open Gray's Anatomy text in her hands. "You know, because vampires have super-amazing recuperative abilities."

"No," Giles replied, taking the text from her. He compared the illustration from the open book to Spike's open head. "The brain does not regenerate in any species. Once it is damaged, it stays that way."

Spike felt the sharp sting of tears behind his closed eyelids as the last thread of hope was sheared by reality. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell the Watcher to tear the thing out anyway, but did he want to chance losing an important brain function, like walking or talking, or even logical thinking? He was already blind -- an affliction that he was beginning to suspect was permanent. Did he want to chance becoming a vampire vegetable?

"Please," Spike said in a raw voice. "Just rip the bloody thing out."

A tense silence filled Giles's home. The blood stopped running from Spike's nose and began to dry on his face, making him itch. His one ear was clogged again and he briefly wondered if his brain really had leaked out of it.

"I'll...," Giles began, then paused for a long moment before continuing. "I'll try."

A tear escaped from behind Spike's tightly closed eyelids and ran down the side of his nose. "Thank you," he whispered, and meant it.

"I'll offer no guarantees, however," Giles said. "It looks as though the broken chip has already damaged a portion of your occipital lobe, which would explain why you are unable to see. There are shards from the broken casing imbedded in that area of your brain. I suspect that they acted as a conductor--"

"Giles," Willow interrupted softly. "I don't think he can hear you."

Giles blinked several times, then looked down at the completely lax vampire. "Hmm, you're right." He handed her the book. "I'd best get started, then."



*****



A bolt of panic hit Spike after he'd opened his eyes to find everything dark, before he remembered what had happened. Broken skull. Damaged ox-lobe. Blind as a bleedin' bat. Giles agreeing to take the chip out.

Spike raised his hands and tentatively touched his head. A thick, somewhat coarse bandage was wrapped around it, and the back of his head was extremely tender to the touch. He still had the headache to end all headaches. In fact, it seemed to hurt even more than earlier, which could mean...

"We couldn't get it out."

The blond vampire jumped, startled by Buffy's voice. He turned towards it, swinging his legs off what he presumed was Giles's bed. "What do you mean you couldn't get it out?" he asked, anger raising in his tone. He'd told them to rip the effin' thing out of his head. How could they botch that?

"It's really anchored in your brain, Spike," Buffy said. "Giles would've had to cut out most of your parietal lobe to remove it."

"Well, why the bloody hell didn't he?" Spike snapped.

"Because then you would've become a vegetable," she told him. "You'd be more useless than you are now."

Spike flinched. The girl never pulled any of her punches. "I bet you didn't even try taking it out," he muttered, dropping his chin.

"Giles tried, all right. He has numb fingers from being continuously shocked," Buffy said. "Willow finally made us stop, because all we were doing was frying your brain, rather than helping you."

Bitterness welled up inside Spike, and he felt a stabbing pain in his chest. "What about my being blind?" he asked.

The silence was telling. The pain in his chest became all encompassing, overwhelming the pain in his head. He clasped his thighs tightly, his fingers biting through his jeans and bruising his skin.

"Giles isn't positive that you won't simply heal," Buffy said quietly. "We removed the fragments of the casing. The area looked like it had electrical burns, but--"

"What time is it?" Spike interrupted, his voice hoarse.

"Around one in the morning," she replied.

He stood, keeping his head bowed. "Take me back to the crypt, will you?"

Buffy was quiet for a moment before she gently agreed. "Sure."

Spike heard her footsteps across the floor, then felt her take his arm. Trusting her not to steer him into anything, he let her guide him one cautious step at a time.

The darkness that surrounded him let out a whoop of mocking laughter.



Part Three





"We're here," Buffy said, the first words she'd spoken since they'd left the Watcher's. Spike felt the door brush against his arm as the Slayer led him through it. Home never looked better, he thought mordantly.

"Do you want to sit down?" Buffy asked him, guiding him further into the crypt.

"No," he told her, coming to a halt. "This is fine. Thanks." He could be polite, when he wanted to be.

"Do you want me to light some candles?" the Mother Hen said, releasing his arm and moving away from him. "It's kind of dark in here."

Spike barked out a harsh laugh. "Yeah, it is a bit bloody dark, innit?" he said sarcastically.

"Sorry."

And she was, Spike could tell, but not about the candles. She was sorry about cracking his head open. She was sorry about blinding him. She was sorry about not being able to remove the chip. She was sorry she turned him into a more pathetic creature than he was before. She was sorry that she was uncomfortable and wanted to leave. She was sorry that there was no chance in hell now that she'd ever fancy an invalid like him.

"Just go, Slayer," Spike said. Just go before I beg you to stay, he added silently.

"Okay." She walked up to him and put her hand on his arm. She smelled like his blood and apricots. He could hear her open her mouth to say something more, but changed her mind and released his arm. "G'night."

"Yeah." Spike listened to her footsteps as she left the crypt, the heavy door clanging shut behind her.

The first sob was ripped from him without warning. A black, hateful ache clawed at his chest. The taste of unfairness in the back of his throat was thick and acidic. The darkness closed around him, caging him. Trapping him. Laughing at him.

Spike wanted to lash out and destroy things, but after two steps forward he was sprawled on the ground, having tripped over something he couldn't see. His face was pressed against the dirty cement, and the scent of blood was strong. His blood.

Another sob and he pushed himself to his knees, looking around as if he could still see. But all that was there was an impenetrable blackness.

He stood, almost falling again because of his seeming lack of balance. Arms outstretched, hiccoughing back another sob, he started walking forward, in search of his chair or his bed. His steps were slow, unsteady, tentative... fearful. The darkness taunted him with every one.

He bumped into a solid object. Stone. Sharp corner. Heavy scent of his blood. The buzzing of hungry flies. The scene of the crime. He balled up his fist and hit the support column with a cry of rage. Then again and again. His knuckles scraped against the rough stone, and the smell of his blood grew stronger with each hit. But the pain in his fists didn't eclipse the pain he felt inside.

As suddenly as it came on, the fight and anger left him. Misery and despair took their places, and yet another sob was dragged from deep within him. He turned around, slumped back against the column, and slid down to the ground. He pulled his legs to his chest, clasping his arms around them, and laid his forehead against his upraised knees.

"Why?" Spike cried into the dirty denim covering his legs. "What did I ever do?"

He could've sworn he'd been a good vampire and, before that, a good human. He'd always listened to his mother. He'd been faithful to Drusilla for over a century, catering to her every whim, loving her with his entire self. He'd caused chaos and death after he was turned, doing exactly what a vampire was supposed to do. He'd even killed two Slayers... although he'd gone and fallen for a third.

Was that it? Was the evil branch of the Powers That Be castigating him for being in love with the mortal enemy of his kind? Was his sudden blindness -- caused by the very girl he loved -- a punishment?

But what about the chip? What about the irremovable object lodged in his brain that would never run down and prevented him from being a true vampire? He hadn't fallen for Buffy -- at least, consciously fallen -- until long after the chip had been in place, almost a full year. In fact, he could say that the chip was what made him fall in love with her, since his obsession with killing her had been quashed by the thing, but not his obsession with her.

"Why?" Spike repeated in a raw tone. "Just someone, please tell me why?"

The only answer he received was the buzzing of the flies.

*****



Spike couldn't tell the difference between the nighttime and the day.

Oh, the television had helped. Talk shows in the morning. Reruns of 80's mystery shows until one. Soap operas, cartoons, game shows. Prime time at eight. News, more talk shows, and then infomercials until the talk shows started again in the morning.

But the sounds without the pictures had been confusing, and Spike had broken the television during an episode of Magnum P.I..

Harmony had disappeared, and although Spike really didn't care a whit for her, it would've been nice to have someone there with him. Her incessant chatter would've make the crypt seem not so empty. The silence mixed with the constant darkness was horrid.

It wasn't always silent, though. Buffy came by every-so-often with fresh blood and news of the weird. He should have been ecstatic: the girl of his dreams was purposely seeking him out and spending time with him. He should have been, but he wasn't.

He could hear the guilt and pity in her soft voice.

He could stand the guilt. The Slayer was one of the good guys, and she wasn't supposed to permanently injure defenseless creatures like his chipped self. He could delude himself into thinking that she could only feel guilt if she cared, which meant she had to care for him. Even if it was just a little.

The pity, though, was killing him, both hers and his own self-pity. He was ready to walk into the sunlight... only he couldn't figure out whether it was nighttime or day. He supposed he could simply run outside, and if he burst into flames, he'd know it was daytime. But if he went outside and it was night, he'd have time to think about what he was doing, to panic, and there was a high possibility of him not being able to find his way back into the crypt.

Days -- weeks? Who knew how long it'd been -- had passed with still no change in his vision. Spike could get around in his crypt without tripping every few steps. He knew how to get from his bed to his chair without running into the stone coffin in the center of the room. He could pace without crashing into the walls. He could undress to sleep without fear of being unable to find his clothing again, leaving him chipped, blind, and naked.

But the quiet was driving him round the bend, and the constant darkness rode in the passenger seat. Soon, Dru would be sane compared to him. He needed to decide, one way or the other, if he was going to kill himself, before he completely lost it.

Spike stood at the closed crypt door, his hand flat on the thick wood as if he could feel if there was sunlight outside. Depression hovered like a black cloud above his head.

Once upon a time, he had a chip put into his head that prevented him from harming any living creature. He'd raged and cried, attempted suicide, and finally adjusted to having it. He'd made a deal to get it removed, failed that, but still had hope that it would eventually wear down or he'd find another way to get rid of it. A second failed attempt at getting it removed had angered him, but, again, he was used to having it and he still had hope.

Then, one day, Buffy tossed him through the entrance to Dante's Hell without reading the warning sign above the gate. "'I am the way into the city of woe,'" Spike quoted softly, his finger tracing the wood grain on the door in front of him. "'I am the way to a forsaken people. I am the way into eternal sorrow.'"

Hope had abandoned him the moment he'd learned the chip was forever, and so it had been fitting that he'd been surrounded by a black haze. "'They have no hope of death,'" Spike continued quoting the words he'd learned when he'd still had a heartbeat, "'and in their blind and unattaining state their miserable lives have sunk so low that they must envy every other fate.'"

Spike dropped his hand and groaned. "Sod all, I've turned into a smeggin' poof!"

Turning on his heel, he counted his steps as he stalked back into the crypt. Six from the door, three to the left, and he threw himself into the ratty old chair, which squeaked in protest. Bloody, bollocking, buggery hell, he thought irritably. His unlife fucking sucked.

"In or out, mate," Spike muttered. "In or out. Just make a bleedin' decision."

The last time he'd tried to off himself, Glinda and the Flying Monkey had bolloxed it up, and he'd learned that he could give non-humans a kickin' any time he bloody well wanted. He'd also proved could still bite using his words as his fangs.

But where had those two consolation prizes gotten him? He fancied himself in love with the Slayer, he was an outcast to other demons, the chip turned out to be permanent, and he was, perhaps, irreversibly blind.

Oi.

Out was looking good. Of course, it would look even better if he could actually see.

Being continuously in the dark absolutely bit. He had trouble lacing up his Docs, he pigged on himself every time he fed, and he couldn't find his fags. He was actually afraid to leave the crypt. Him! Cor! What the fuck was the world coming to?!

"Yer loosin' it, Spike," the blond vampire dropped his head back and stared sightlessly at the ceiling, "You've gone completely barmy. Next time you get in a soddin' snit, don't take it out on the telly."

There was actually good reason why he didn't want to venture from the crypt -- he was blind! He'd look like a wanker trying to navigate the cemetery, tripping over headstones that he couldn't see. He could get lost and would not be able to find shelter easily when the sun popped up. Worse, if he ran into other demons...

Spike didn't bother to finish that thought. He was depressed enough as it was. "'...And made their faces stream with bloody gouts of pus and tears that dribbled to their feet to be swallowed there by loathsome worms and maggots.'" He half-smiled. "I guess Dante was a bit of all right, for an Eye-Tralian."

The vampire heard the crypt door open and he quickly straightened. Tensed, he waited for the intruder to identify him- or herself. And what're you going to do if it's a bad guy, eh?, Spike asked himself. Ask 'em to stomp so you can hear where he's at?

"Spike, are you home?" Harmony breezed into the crypt, her heels clicking on the cement floor. "Spikey?"

Spike stood with a grin on his face. For once, he was glad to hear her voice. "I'm here, Harm."

"Oh good, because I wanted to say goodbye," Harmony said brightly.

Spike turned in the direction of her voice, a frown replacing the grin. "Goin' somewhere, pet?"

"L.A.," Harmony told him, moving about. Spike heard his trunk opening and vampiress rooting around inside. "Dieter and I are moving there."

"Dieter?"

"Oh! Silly me." Heels clicking on the floor, Harmony crossed back towards the door. "Dieter, this is Spike. Spike, this is my new boyfriend, Dieter. Isn't he the honey-bunniest?"

"Er, yeah," Spike said, hoping that he was looking in the correct direction. "Hey."

"Back at ya."

"Well, we're going to be going now," Harmony said. "I just stopped by to pick up my Prada bag and, you know, say toodlies. So, bye-ee."

"Wait, Harm," Spike said quickly, taking a short step forward. "Can I talk to you a sec?"

"Sure," Harmony agreed. "Dieter, sweety, why don't you wait for me in the car? I'll be right out."

"You got it, babe."

Babe?, Spike thought. Maybe he was glad he couldn't see the bloke.

"Okay, Spike," Harmony said, walking towards him. "One kiss, but that's all."

Spike held up his hands. "Not interested in a kiss, ducks. I need a favor."

"Spike! I am in a committed relationship!"

His brow furrowed in confusion before he rolled his eyes, an action he was happy he could still perform. "No, Harm, all I want is a ride to L.A."

"Oh. Okay," she said. "Do you need time to pack or are you ready to go?"

"Just let me grab my duster and some dosh," Spike replied. He took a step forward and bumped right into Harmony. "Er, 'scuse me, pet."

Once Harmony moved, it was five steps across the crypt, sharp left, and six more steps to the trunk. Spike nudged the trunk with his toe before crouching in front of it. Harmony had left it open, and it was simply a matter of feeling around inside until he found his cache of money.

Straightening, Spike faced left, took three steps to the bed, and ran his hand down the mattress until he found his duster. "Harm, close the trunk for me, will you?" he said as he slid his coat on. The money disappeared into his inner pocket as he listened to the vampiress. When the trunk lid slammed closed, he sent a quirky smile in that direction and held out his arms. "Give us a hug for old time's sake, luv?"

"Aw," Harmony said, moving into his arms. "It's nice to see you're taking our breakup so well."

"What can I say, I'm a modern guy," Spike said. He embraced her briefly, then slid his arm around her shoulder and subtly let her lead him towards the door. "So, pet, tell me all about Dieter."



Continued