by Saber ShadowKitten
And Now For Something Completely Different 6

Monday late afternoon, August 28, 2000

Spike pulled the motorcycle to a stop at the edge of deserted lot. The rain had stopped roughly half-an-hour before, and despite how much he hadn't wanted to, he'd gotten on the Hawk and returned to where he'd left Xander.

Spike turned off the motor, hit the kick-stand and climbed off the bike. He glanced warily up at the cloud-filled sky as he headed across the hard-packed lot. It looked like the sky would clear as rapidly as it had clouded up.

Spike dropped his gaze to the human lying on the ground a short distance away. As he got closer to the brunet, the scent of wet, burnt flesh graced his senses, and he wrinkled his nose in disgust. No matter how many times he'd done this, he'd had yet to get used to the smell.

Spike crouched down beside Xander's prone body. He checked Xander's pulse and made a soft, relieved sound when it beat slowly and steadily under his fingertips. Neither of them knew why Xander didn't die like a normal human did when struck repeatedly by lightning. Spike knew for a fact that Xander had been struck at least fifty times -- and that was just today.

Spike opened the saddle bag that was strapped cross-wise over his chest and took out a tangle of black straps with thick plastic hooks. As he untangled the dual jumper's harness, he absently noted that Xander's thundercloud tattoo was darker than it had been that morning. Spike hooked Xander into the harness, then picked him up and carried him to the bike.

Spike deposited Xander on the seat so the boy was straddling the bike properly. With practiced expertise, Spike climbed onto the bike in front of Xander, slid the second harness over his shoulders and hooked it. He secured Xander's legs, then started up the Hawk, all without letting the unconscious Xander fall.

Sometimes, it'd be much easier if I could just kill Xander and be done with him, Spike thought, as he headed for where he'd set up camp. But, of course, Spike had no real desire to actually do the deed. Xander had scrambled his brain quite effectively, in more ways than one.

Spike could remember the smug smirk on Xander's face when he'd told Spike he'd rewired the vampire's brain. Xander had said he'd cut the electrical impulses to the portion of Spike's mind that controlled his urge to kill. Xander had also "snipped" the impulses that controlled Spike's hunger and bloodlust -- all without laying a finger on him.

Spike had disbelieved Xander at first. It hadn't been until Xander had left Spike alone, locked in a secure room for three weeks, that he'd learned Xander hadn't been lying.

Despite there being a fully stocked cooler of blood bags in the room, Spike had totally forgotten to eat -- for the entire three weeks. He'd been angry with himself and with Xander for locking him up, and after he'd cooled off he hadn't thought about eating because he hadn't felt hungry. By the time Xander had returned, Spike's body had started to deteriorate from not feeding and Spike hadn't even realized it had been happening.

Then, when he should have attacked and killed Xander the second he'd unlocked the door, the desire to do so had been missing. Spike had thought about it, in an "Aren't I supposed to kill you?" kind of way, but he had felt like it would have been too much effort to go through with it. He'd later learned that he could still act in self-defense, but it took an extreme amount of will-power to go on the offensive and most of the time it simply wasn't worth it.

Spike wheeled the Hawk off the street and into Estel Woods. He'd set up camp near a natural stream that ran through the forest preserve. Xander had indicated he wanted to stay in Sunnydale for a longer-than-usual layover, which meant camping out. Spike hated camping out. He always got bugs in his bedroll.

Spike parked the bike and maneuvered Xander to the dark lean-to tent, where their gear was stashed. Spike unhooked Xander from the harness, set it aside, and retrieved some water. He grumbled as he worked. "One day, I'm going to tell you to fuck off and leave."

It wasn't true, but it made Spike feel better to voice it. Aside from other reasons, they had a deal. If Spike acted like a manservant to Xander, Xander would make sure Spike regularly fed and would pay for the blood. Plus, Xander had bestowed upon Spike a few extra physical bonuses, which he would have liked much more if he still had the craving to hunt and kill. If that were the case, he'd be a vampire god.

At first, it had been a pretty shitty deal, in Spike's opinion, but he hadn't really had any other choice. There was no way in hell that he'd reveal to another vampire that he didn't have a desire to kill anything, or that he had to be reminded to eat. He'd been an invalid before and he'd yet to get over that little adventure.

As time went along, for choices of companions, Xander wasn't that bad. It could have been worse; it could have been Xander's chum, the Slayer, or Spike's soul-plagued sire (before they'd snogged and made up). At least Xander had a dark sense of humor Spike could appreciate. And Xander didn't force him to be goody-goody and help little old ladies cross the street, or rubbish like that. The only actual "requirement" Xander had was that Spike was to take care of him in the period surrounding a storm. The rest of the time was Spike's own.

Spike returned to the lean-to, put the plastic cup of water on the ground beside Xander, and dug out a washrag from one of their packs. He dipped the rag in the cold water and gently began to wash off Xander's chest. Flecks of charred, dead skin came off Xander's body with each swipe of the rag. Spike peered closer, checking for deeper damage or infection, though in the time they'd been together he'd never found anything other than char.

"Mmmph," Xander moaned as he returned to consciousness. "Unnngh."

Spike let the washrag lay on Xander's chest and pulled the wraparound sunglasses from his inner pocket. He unfolded them and slid them onto Xander's nose. Then he returned to wiping the remaining traces of the recent storm away.

"I hate this," Xander sighed in a rough voice. He opened his eyes and looked through his sunglasses at the bright, solid bluish-white form of Spike kneeling at his side. "How long was the storm?"

"Two hours, forty-three minutes," Spike answered. "Will there be another one soon?"

Xander pushed himself into a sitting position and looked out of the dark lean-to. The sun was pushing through the clouds and the trees cast long shadows on the ground in the late afternoon brightness. The electricity in the air was back to normal levels. "No," he told Spike. "Not today."

Spike nodded, picked up the plastic cup, and with the dirty rag in his hand he left the lean-to. He looked up at the sunny sky, squinted, pulled his sunglasses out of his pocket and slipped them on his nose. Then, he continued on to the stream.