The Blind Leading


by Saber ShadowKitten







Part Four





"'The Bates Motel.' Now why does that sound so familiar?" Harmony tapped her fingernails against the car window. "Hmm. Maybe I dated a Bates." Tap, tap, tap. "Oh well, if I don't remember, he must not have been that great."

In the back seat of Dieter's car, Spike snickered softly. Trust Harm to choose such an appropriate motel and not know it.

The ride to Los Angeles had been a test in patience for Spike. The two hour trip had seemed like fifty, but Spike had taken it as a challenge. If he could survive listening to Harmony and her new boyfriend sing along to the same fucking N'Sync song the entire car ride, he could survive being blind.

"Pull up by the office, snugglemuffin," Harmony directed. The front seat squeaked as she turned. "Spike, are you sure that you want to stay at a motel? Wouldn't a nice abandoned warehouse be more vampirey?"

"And give up a soft mattress and the telly?" Spike snorted as the car came to a stop. "Not a chance." He felt for the doorhandle, wanting to escape before the singing started again.

"Maybe we should stay at a hotel, too," Harmony commented. "But not here. I wouldn't be caught dead here."

"You are dead, babe," Dieter pointed out.

"Well, duh," Harmony said. "Why do you think I said that?"

Spike rolled his eyes, but said, "Harm, walk with me to the office," before carefully climbing out of the car.

"Do you want me to kill the desk clerk and get you a room?" she asked, slamming her car door shut.

Spike had actually just wanted to use her as a guide dog, but... "Would you?"

"Sure," she replied. "I know if I were an invalid, you'd do the same for me."

For a moment, Spike had thought she'd figured out he was blind. Then he realized she was referring to his biteless state. "Gee, thanks," he said sardonically.

Harmony toddled off with a chirpy, "Be right back." Spike stood beside the car, his hand on the roof so he didn't feel lost in his black world. Damn, but he wished he had a pack of smokes left. Somehow he'd have to figure out a way to obtain some.

"You're in room 129," Harmony announced a few minutes later, her heels clicking on the pavement as she rejoined him. "I put your name into the computer so that if the police come, you won't be under suspicion."

Harm knew how to use a computer? Spike was surprised by that and her actions. "That was a good idea, pet."

"I know," she agreed. "I saw it on Nash Bridges, and it took Cheech and Don until the very end of the episode to figure out who the murderer was."

Cheech and Don. He should've known.

Now, to get to room 129...

Spike crooked his elbow. "Escort me to my room, luv, and I'll tell you what to watch out for here in LA. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you or your new beau," he lied sweetly. After one hundred miles of the Boyband from hell, she was lucky he hadn't killed them both and chanced driving himself.

As Spike subtly let Harmony, once again, lead him to his room, he warned her about his poncey sire. He realized, as he suggested running if she ever saw Angel, that his thoughts about not caring weren't completely true. He did care if Harm was staked or not. He had such a soft spot for women. He was soft, period.

When Harmony stopped walking and let go of his arm, Spike figured they were at the room. The sounds of the late night traffic had dimmed, which meant the room was either on the other side of the building from the road, or in a courtyard. Wonderful. Just how in buggery hell was he going to find his way to the street again?

Shoving his worrying aside, Spike held out his hand. Harmony slapped the oddly-shaped keychain into his palm. "I guess this is goodbye, Spikey," she said.

"Guess so," Spike echoed, feeling a bit 'out there' because he wasn't touching anything.

Harmony suddenly gave him a hug. "Take care of yourself, Spike. Out of all my old boyfriends, you were the best in bed."

"Bye, pet," he said. The best in bed, eh? He could live with that.

Spike listened to Harmony's as she walked away from him until he no longer could hear her clicking heels. Then, hoping that no one was watching, he tentatively felt to his left. Nothing but empty space. He tried to the right and, bingo, a door.

The numbers were the raised type, and Spike could easily feel out the one, two, and nine. The door was easy to unlock, considering he'd blindly unlocked motel room doors before while passionately snogging some lucky bint up against 'em.

Spike spent the next hour mapping out the room in his mind. The door opened to the left and clunked against the wall, which a long dresser was pushed up against. A television was bolted to the top of the dresser. A small bathroom was just beyond the dresser, with a sink, toilet, and curtained shower. Towels had been provided.

A double bed with a night-stand on either side of it took up the remainder of the room. There were matching lights attached to the wall above both night-stands, and a telephone sat on one night-stand while the television remote was bolted to the other. Vinyl-type curtains covered the window on the same wall as the door, and Spike spent another twenty minutes attempting to make certain they were completely shut.

Collapsing onto the bed with a loud squeak of protest from the box springs, Spike wished for the thousandth time that he had a pack of cigarettes. Even one -- even half of one -- and he'd be a happy vampire. He craved the calmness that smoking gave him -- a psychosomatic effect, considering the nicotine had no real effect on his dead body, but still... Only those who smoked knew how difficult functioning was without their cigarettes.

"Bugger," Spike grumbled, pressing the heels of his hands over his eyes. He had a sharp headache behind his left one. It felt as if a needle was stuck into it. Probably caused by Harm and Dieter's singing, he thought in annoyance. It was too much to wish for that the headache be a sign that his vision was returning. Thinking like that only led to hope, and hope led to suicide.

With a few choice obscenities, Spike sat up, shrugged out of his duster, and removed the sock full of money from the inside pocket. There was a large wad, all twenties Spike knew, and he slowly counted how much he had saved from his scare-muggings and providing information to the Slayer. Over the past year, since his chip had been implanted, he'd gotten used to paying for everything. It was a right pain in the arse.

Money counted -- over five grand, not bad -- and stuffed back into the sock, Spike propped the two thin pillows against the headboard, turned on the television, and settled himself on the bed to listen. "All right, Conan," he said, folding his hands over his tee-shirt clad stomach. At least talk shows were mostly auditory, and listening to them reminded him of when radio was the only form of non-bloodshedding entertainment.

For the first time since he'd been turned, Spike felt really old.



*****



Helen Keller. Ray Charles. Stevie Wonder. Neushchwna. The Januvi. Deep sea creatures. Bats. Angel and his sense of style.

Spike rattled off in his mind everyone or thing that he could think of that was blind.

Buffy.

Nope, not gonna go there, Spike told himself. First off, he didn't want the Slayer to know that he fancied himself in love with her. Second, the only place he could toss off without worry was in the shower and he'd already taken one. He didn't want cum stains on his clothes because he couldn't see to wipe himself clean. It was bad enough that he looked like a slob from the blood stains. If he ever braved the grocers, he'd buy straws.

Speaking of grocers and things available there, Spike was hungry. In his abrupt decision to leave Sunnydale, he'd forgotten the cooler that contained his blood supply. It had been full, too. Bugger.

According to the show currently on the television, it was around ten in the morning. Spike had slept fitfully, dreams of being adrift in outer space plaguing his rest. Then, like every time he woke, he'd prayed that this time he would open his eyes and be able to see again.

And, like every time he woke, he saw nothing but darkness.

"What city and state?" the operator intoned in Spike's ear.

"Los Angeles, California," Spike said into the phone.

"Thank you. Go ahead."

"I need the number for some sort of blind services place."

"One moment, please."

Spike hated asking for help -- was there anything less manly than admitting you couldn't do something by yourself? -- but it was either that or sunbathing. Besides, the last time he'd sought assistance, he'd gotten to kiss Buffy. Many times. Felt her up a bit, too. His disgust after the fact had all been for show -- who wouldn't want to snog with that ripe chit? It was only too bad Willow's cocked-up spell hadn't lasted longer, because he might've gotten into the Slayer's knickers.

Spike hardened beneath his jeans, and frowned. No, no, no, he thought. Didn't he already have the 'no Buffy' conversation with his dick?

"Here is the number for National Blind Services," the operator said. There was a pause and then the automated system voice came over the phone line. "The number is 290-555-1234. If you would like to be connected automatically for an additional twenty-five cents, press zero."

Spike pressed zero, glad that he didn't need to remember the phone number in order to redial. The line rang, and the vampire turned off the television so he wasn't distracted.

"National Blind Services, Vicki speaking, how may I help you?" a chipper female answered the call.

"Er, yeah, um..." Very intelligent, mate. "I need to talk to someone about, er, learnin' how to do things blind."

"For yourself or for a family member?" Vicki asked.

"Myself," Spike replied.

"And how soon would you like to come in for an initial appointment?"

"How late are you open?"

"Until six."

"The closer to six, the better." Or else a dustbunny would be attending the initial appointment.

"Is 5:30 okay?"

"Wonderful."

"Do you have the address?" Vicki asked.

"No, give it to me." Spike repeated the address in his mind as he rang off until he was sure he had it memorized, then he dialed information again to get a number for a local cab company.

A few minutes later, he was good to go. The cab driver would meet him in the parking lot of the motel at five to take him to the National Blind Services office. Luckily for the vampire, the sun set early in the winter -- 4:28 p.m. according to the National Weather Service on the radio he'd found on the second night-stand.

Getting food, though, was going to be a problem. In the past, when he was too lazy to go out, he'd dial up a pizza delivery place and eat the delivery boy. Post-chip, however, that option was out, and Spike doubted butcher shops delivered. Real life didn't have Brady Bunch's Sam, the Butcher, and Spike made a pretty ugly Alice anyway.

Spike decided he would have to go hungry until he was able to get a cab ride to a grocers later that night. And forced himself to ask for help.

It looked as though he'd be having czarnina for dinner.



*****



It had taken from the time the sun set until the cab honked its horn for Spike to find the parking lot. His room had ended up being located in a courtyard and it had taken him forever to find the walkway out. It hadn't been too embarrassing to ask the cab driver for assistance getting into the cab.

"We're here," the driver said, pulling the four-door car to a halt. "That'll be $16.87."

Surprised that the driver wasn't trying to gip him, Spike took out two twenties -- he'd taken the time earlier to count out $300.00 from his stash and put the money into his jeans pocket -- and held them up for the other man to see. "I'll give you a $20.00 tip if you help me inside to the information desk," the blond vampire said.

"No problems there," the driver responded. Spike heard the car door open and close, then his door opened a moment later. "Curb's right here, so be careful getting out."

Spike clenched the twenties in his fist as he climbed out of the car, the driver's hand firmly gripping the vampire's upper arm. The whiz of cars behind him was loud, indicating they were on a busy street. He could hear a steady hum of voices and a multitude of clacking of shoes on the sidewalk in front of him. A frisson of fear skittered down his spine. There were more people passing him right then than he'd probably seen all year back in Sunnydale -- when he could still see.

It was his not being able to see the undulating throng passing within a few feet of him that was causing his fear. He couldn't tell how many people there were, where they were coming from, or how close they were. He was awash in a sea of noise that had no real meaning, lost in a darkness that choked him. He had an almost uncontrollable urge to jump back in the cab, slam the door shut, and curl up on the floor with his arms covering his head. In the silence, he might think depressing thoughts and brood like Angel-poof, but at least he didn't feel like he was standing at a precipice, blindfolded and one false step would send him hurtling over the edge to his death on the sharp rocks below.

Spike hated the feeling of fear. He was a Master Vampire, capitalized as deserved. He was supposed to cause fear, not feel it himself. Especially not the paralyzing terror that gripped him at that very moment.

The darkness's mocking laughter returned.

"Hey, man, do you want to go inside or what? I can't stay parked here forever, you know?" The cab driver's voice cut into the laughter, and Spike shook off his terror. Spike wasn't alone, adrift; the driver had a strong hold on his arm. For twenty bucks, the other man would ensure safe passage across the River Styx... or was Spike supposed to pay a silver coin?

Stifling back a semi-hysterical laugh, Spike took a step forward. The driver closed the cab door behind Spike, then practically dragged the vampire through the crowd of people leaving work for the day.

The building in which the National Blind Services was housed had automatic doors, and the noise from outside was cut to nothing the instant he and the driver went through them. Spike's boots clunked on the uncarpeted floor as he was led further into the building. Soft voices grew louder, and he could hear the repeated dings of the elevators as well as the trilling of telephones.

"Here we are, guy," the driver said, coming to a halt. He put Spike's hand on a cold countertop. "The Information desk."

"Thanks," Spike said, shoving his other hand in the driver's direction. He opened his fist, felt the two twenties disappear, then heard the man walk away.

"Can I help you?" a gruff male asked from behind the counter.

The fear had gone, to be replaced by humiliation. Yet another favorite feeling of Spike's. "Yeah, I have an appointment at National Blind Services." The words were hard to get out, the acid of disgrace burning a hole in his tongue.

"Do you need a guide?"

What he needed was for Riley to have used a real stake instead of plastic. "Yes... er, please."

A few minutes later, Spike was being whisked up in the elevator to the fourteenth floor, with a bubbly girl lightly touching his elbow. Her voice reminded him of a barking Chihuahua. He wanted to drop kick her off a very tall building.

"National Blind Services offers so much to the visually impaired...," yap, yap, yap, "...instruction, rehabilitation, transportation services, job placement, educational assistance...," yap, yap...

...yip! Aip! Aip! Aip!

Spike's imagination ran away with him, and a smirk curved his lips as the Chihuahua did a double gainer. The ding of the elevator and the light prompting of his guide brought him back to reality.

"Count your steps," the girl said with pert authoritativeness. "Your counselor is Carmen, and you will always go to her office first upon arriving at NBS."

The offices of National Blind Services, or NBS, were set up specifically for the visually impaired. Double-wide hallways and a simple straightforward layout with a minimum of furnishings made it easier for those who had a hard time or were unable to see.

Spike counted his steps like a good little sprog, and wondered if he'd get a lolly if he remembered the number. The yapper-doggie escorted him to Carmen's office and put his hand on the back of a chair as she spoke to his counselor.

He had a counselor. That sounded wrong.

"Hello, Spike," Carmen greeted from somewhere in front of him. She had a Hispanic accent, Spike noted, and her voice was matronly rather than young and perky. "Please, sit down, and we'll get started."

Spike slid his hand along the edge of the chair, finding the seat-bottom before he attempted sitting. Falling on his arse in front of a stranger wasn't something he wanted to do. He was embarrassed enough as it was for having to seek help.

"First, let me introduce myself," Carmen began. "My name is Carmen Vensuela. I am a Certified Visual Rehabilitation Specialist and a RN. I've worked with National Blind Services for over fifteen years, and, before that, I've worked in the optometry field as a nurse for six years."

Nice credentials, Spike thought. If he had to suffer the humiliation of having a counselor, at least it was someone with a solid background.

"And now, for you," Carmen continued. He heard the shuffle of papers. "I am filling out an information sheet for your file, and anything you divulge will not go beyond the doors of this office."

He had a counselor and a file. How bloody special.

"Your name is Spike Smith, correct?" Carmen asked.

"Yes," Spike replied. And that was his name, according to the fake Driver's License he'd acquired years ago. The requirement to present ID to be able to fly had forced him into obtaining one for him and for Dru.

"What is your current address?"

"I'm staying at The Bates Motel." He managed to say it with a straight face. "Don't know the physical address, though."

"Is that a temporary residence?"

Spike shrugged. "I guess. Right now, it's fine for what I need."

Carmen went on with her questions. Age, social security number, education? Lie, don't have, lie. How visually impaired was he, how did it happen, and how long had he been that way? Blind as a ruddy football ref, lie, and roughly a week after December 19 -- Spike would never forget the date he'd been staked.

Medical history, allergies? Healthy as a dead horse that couldn't eat, couldn't see, and couldn't go out in the sunlight. Spike quashed the urge to say those things, and simply told her he had a form of xeroderma pigmentosum and therefore couldn't go out in the sun. He'd learned about the skin disease from watching ER, and it was the perfect cover for his vampirism.

And people said watching television rotted the brain.

She made sympathetic clucking noises and moved on to the next question.

"Who is your insurance carrier?"

"Don't have insurance," Spike replied.

"Not even Medicaid?" Carmen asked.

Spike shook his head. "I'm not an American citizen, ducks."

"I hate to have to ask this," Carmen said, "but how will you pay for NBS's services? We offer some free programs--"

"I'll pay in cash," Spike interrupted. "You do still take that as a form of currency, don't you?"

"Of course," Carmen said. "However, it is rather expensive--"

Spike interrupted again. "Then I'll learn as much as I can 'til I run out of dosh, and go from there."

"I see that you're quite serious about obtaining NBS's services."

"Of course I'm bloody serious!" Spike exclaimed in annoyance. "I've spent the past however many weeks sitting in the dark, contemplating offing myself, until I decided to give unlife one last go before saying adieu. Now, are you going to help me, or should I sod off back to Sunnydale and give away all my worldly possessions?"

Carmen was silent for a moment, and Spike could feel her gaze on him, studying him. He shifted in his seat, feeling like a schoolboy under the teacher's disapproving eye. When she finally spoke, what she said wasn't at all what he expected.

"Good for you," Carmen sounded proud of him. "Your anger will help keep you from getting discouraged. I won't lie to you. Learning how to function without sight is hard, frustrating, and, at times, depressing. Since you've been visually impaired for only a short period of time, it will be doubly hard to let go of the habits and reliance on other visual cues you've built up over the past twenty-eight years.

"Now, with your medical condition, we're going to have a time limit on our sessions, so I'm going to rely on you to practice, practice, practice on your own during the day. You have obviously managed to get along and around for the past month, so I don't anticipate you'll have too much trouble mastering the cane. If you have problems, though, feel free to call me."

Spike heard the wheelcasters on Carmen's chair as she pushed it back. "We have a few minutes left. Why don't I walk with you to one of the practice rooms so you can get an image of where we'll be spending most of our time."

Before Spike knew it, Carmen's hand was lightly cupping his elbow and she was leading him out of the room.





Part Five





Shopping at the grocers had been a treat. Spike never wanted to do it again.

The blond vampire lit up his fifth cigarette that hour and let the noxious smoke curl in his dead lungs. The television blared the groovy tunes of a Scooby Doo chase scene in the other room. Behind him, the shower was on and hot steam filled the small bathroom.

Spike exchanged the cigarette for room temperature duck's blood and grimaced as he drank the remainder of the quart. It hadn't been good cold and two days later it still sucked. But since he was planning on staying far away from any grocers, he'd made the blood stretch into three meals. Disgusting and unfulfilling. Man, he was living the good unlife now.

He moved his foot until it hit the plastic rubbish bin, and dropped the empty blood container into it. The Bates Motel had a housekeeping service, although both days Spike had told the seņora to bugger off. He couldn't leave the room and he wasn't comfortable standing around like a ninny while the woman did her work. He could survive with dirty sheets and reused towels.

Another pull on his fag, then he climbed into the shower. Scalding hot water trickled from the pitiful showerhead, but the stream was strong enough to peel the layer of self-loathing from his body.

Spike shoved his head under the hot stream, melting his scalp and probably stripping the bleach from his hair. He closed his eyes and let the stinging water hide the tears of frustration, anger, and hopelessness that refused to be squelched. He only allowed himself to cry in the shower, where it couldn't be seen or heard because of the running water. Back in Sunnydale, he'd had to bury his head under a pillow when the unfairness of his unlife overwhelmed him.

The feeling of unfairness swamped him today, and his tears tasted bitter on his tongue. The night before, he'd returned to NBS for his second appointment with Carmen, and he'd been fitted with a cane. He should have been fitted for a straightjacket.

At first, having Carmen show him how to use the cane and then attempting to use it in the practice room at NBS had been fun. It was a new toy to play with. He'd learned how to fold and unfold it, and he'd found that it fit perfectly in his duster pocket. He could also tuck it in the back pocket of his denims and sit without it being uncomfortable.

After he'd given Shelley, the NBS Billing Service Director, more than half his sock of money, he'd let the Chihuaha, who's name was really Lisa, escort him to a waiting cab. Having her guide him to and from his cab and NBS was a money-saving break that he was thankful for, considering the amount of cash he'd dished out to Shelley. If he kept having to tip the cab drivers huge sums of money for extra escort service, he'd be broke way too soon for his liking.

Spike could get from his motel room to the parking lot and back without trouble. His head was so full of numbers from counting steps he was surprised his brain hadn't exploded. But counting steps was better than having to ask others for help, or tripping and falling on his face.

Spike had walked by himself from the lot to his room the night before, after his NBS session. He'd immediately flipped on the television -- Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was on from 6:30 to 7:00 and again from 7:30 to 8:00, weeknights -- lit up a cigarette, took out his cane -- which bore his name and NBS's phone number courtesy of Carmen and her clear printer labels -- and played with it.

Using the cane had been amusing. It'd made a great sound when he whapped it on the bed. He'd been pretty sure he could do some damage with it in a fight. The cane was made of wood coated in waterproof plastic. It was strong and unbendable, with a metal tip at the end and a thick strand of elastic that ran through the segmented parts. He'd suspected it was white, a brilliant white that shone like a beacon, proclaiming: "Look at me, I'm blind, now get the bloody hell out of the way!"

Spike had used the cane in his room, holding it slightly off the ground and gently swinging it in a smooth arc as Carmen had demonstrated. It'd been difficult to get the repetitive motion started, but once he'd gotten underway, a natural rhythm had formed.

He'd traversed the room several times before making things more interesting by tossing stuff onto the floor. It'd become much harder to judge when to step over an object after the cane hit it, rather than stepping on it. Or tripping and falling, which he'd done numerous times. It'd been a good thing he'd been smart enough not to use his carton of smokes as an obstacle, or else he'd have been one very ticked off vampire come the following afternoon.

Spike had stopped playing when Prime Time started on the television, and he'd sat and listened for three hours. The network hadn't been lying when they'd called it "Must See" tv. ER had been impossible to understand.

When the news had come on, Spike had fed, counted the amount of money he had left, then played with the cane again. Spinning in a few fast circles before starting had just made him dizzy and feel like a complete wanker, so he'd kiboshed that idea quickly. Instead, he'd gathered up his 'obstacles' and re-scattered them, then stepped on and tripped over them until he'd gotten angry and quit.

It hadn't hit him until the following late morning, when he'd woken up to the darkness once again, that he'd been given and was using a cane. Big Bad Spike had been reduced to a blind, biteless fool. "Ladies and gentlemen, see how the vampire uses money to pay for things he should steal or kill for. Watch in amazement as he tries to feed from humans and screams in pain. Laugh as he uses a blindman's cane, he adores the humiliation."

Spike knocked his head several times on the shower wall, repeating: "Why? Why? Why?" with each solid hit. He was probably going to get a goose-egg and pretty bruise on his forehead. But, like everything, except for his fucking vision, it would heal.

He slammed the single-faucet shower control to off, and dashed the hateful tears from his face. He felt around for the towel he'd thrown over the curtain rod, but couldn't find it. Cursing, he shoved back the mildew-smelling shower curtain, stepped over the lip of the tub, put his foot down in a puddle of water, and promptly slipped.

"Yeow! DAMNIT!" Spike pulled his leg out of the tub and laid still for a few moments on the bathroom floor. His thigh throbbed where he hit it on the edge of the tub, and he pulled his groin muscle. It hurt. A lot.

Sitting up, he ran his hand through his wet hair, felt for the sink, and used it to pull himself to his feet. The cigarette was right where he'd left it, and he took a slow pull.

He ignored the laughing darkness.

Cigarette dangling from his lips, Spike carefully tugged his jeans over his wet body and buttoned them. His stomach let him know that one-third of a quart of duck's blood wasn't enough. He told his stomach to fuck off.

He padded out of the bedroom, counting his goddamned steps, turned off the television, and turned on the radio. "...Listening to National Public Radio. The time is 3:43 on this sunny January afternoon..."

Spike had another session with Carmen at 5:15 and one on Saturday at the same time. He was scheduled to meet with her every day, except Sundays, for Intensive Visual Rehabilitation. How politically correct. He would've called it Classes for Blind Wankers or Circus Freak Training.

There was a firm rap on his motel room door. The housekeeper had already been and gone, so Spike knew it couldn't be her. He felt for the ashtray on the night-stand and stabbed out his cigarette, then stood and went to answer the knock.

Keeping himself partially behind the door to protect himself from any sunlight, Spike stared blindly in the direction of outside, and said, "Yeah?"

"I'm Detective Lockley with the LAPD, and I'd like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind."

"What about?" Spike said, even though he already knew. Harm certainly did have her moments.

Detective Lockley sounded tough, weary, and not happy. Spike immediately wondered what she looked like. Female cops, in his experience, were either dog-ugly or tomboy sexy. Which was she?

"When was the last time you saw the manager, Mr. Chavez?" she asked.

A dry-as-dust smirk curled his lips. "I've never seen, Mr. Chavez, Detective."

"What about when you checked in?" Detective Lockley prompted.

"Can't say I saw him then, either."

The unseen Detective blew out an annoyed breath of air. "Sir, you can either answer my questions here, or I can take you down to the station and ask you."

"Then you need to ask the right questions, ducks," Spike said. Antagonizing her was sort of fun. He hadn't toyed with anyone since Buffy bashed his skull. "By the way, you don't happen to resemble Yancy Butler, do you?"

"What?" She sounded flabbergasted. "You think I look like Yancy Butler?"

"Sweetheart, you could look like Bill Murray and I wouldn't be able to tell," Spike said sardonically. "But, to answer your first question...," so he didn't get arrested and yanked out into the sun, "...I don't know who Mr. Chavez is. I spoke with someone in the office when I checked in, but I never got his name."

Half lie, half truth. He didn't know if Mr. Chavez was the bloke Harmony munched, but he strongly suspected it was. Spike also hadn't checked himself in, but the Detective needn't know that.

"It says in the computer that you checked in on December 30th, is that true?"

"If that's what the computer says," Spike hedged. He really didn't need to be linked to Harmony's kill. It wasn't as if he could do anything against the all-too-human police if they decided he was a suspect. "I haven't really gotten the hang of telling the days apart yet."

"Telling the days...," Detective Lockley trailed off. There was a brief moment of silence, then, "Sir, excuse my bluntness, but are you blind?"

"Complete with cane," Spike replied derisively.

"Oh. Okay, then," she said. "I have no further questions. Thank you for your time."

"You never did tell me...," he paused.

"Tell you what?"

Spike grinned. "Whether you look like Yancy Butler or not."

A snort was his answer, followed by her footsteps walking away.

Continued