At first he planned to ignore the invitation.
But Jean-Paul was a particular favorite of the L.A. Master; and Spike had no wish to antagonize him. So midnight found him gaining admittance to Jean-Paul's elegant mansion in the Hollywood Hills, waving away the minion who tried to relieve him of his leather coat.
"Spike!" Jean-Paul greeted him as warmly as if he'd been a long-time friend rather than a virtual stranger. "I was just telling Hugh that I have a special treat for everyone tonight! Do you know Hugh Campion?"
"Only by reputation," Spike replied, studying the tall, broad figure of the older vampire.
The Master of Los Angeles nodded graciously. "I must say the same. And yet, you have quite a formidable reputation, Spike! Are you enjoying your stay in the City of Angels?"
Spike's imperturbable mask never slipped; although he recognized deliberate baiting in the wording of the question. "Yeah, always liked sunny California."
Jean-Paul smirked. "But isn't there plenty of sunshine in Brazil, Spike?"
Spike reminded himself that Jean-Paul was surrounded by plenty of minions; and contented himself with a cool stare. "I find I prefer it stateside, mate. Offers more...scope."
*Let them make what they wished of that, the sodding wankers.*
A minion approached with a tray of wineglasses, and Jean-Paul handed one to Spike and one to the Master.
"The freshest blood," he said apologetically. "It's at body temperature. Usually I provide humans on which to feed, but in light of my little surprise..."
The blood was fresh, Spike noticed; but for once he would prefer real wine.
"Well, don't keep us in suspense, Jean-Paul," the Master chided. "What exactly is this surprise of yours?"
"What else, in L.A.? A videotape," Jean-Paul said smugly.
Spike nearly snorted. All that build-up...just for a videotape?
Some other vampires surrounded them. "Did you say a videotape, Jean-Paul? Is it pornographic?"
Their host laughed scornfully. "THAT would scarcely be special enough to require a premiere party, would it?"
"A snuff film, perhaps?" another vampire suggested eagerly.
Bored, Spike began to calculate how soon he could slip away. He wasn't in the mood to watch a video...in fact, ever since the final split with Drusilla, he'd been feeling strangely enervated. He no longer missed Dru; but he didn't seem to know how to live without her, either. It was like he wanted something else... but he didn't know what.
"No, no! This...this is really something unique, Werner." Jean-Paul glanced around the ring of excited faces. "I guarantee it's something no one here has ever seen before!"
Spike felt a faint stirring of curiousity. Several vampires present were approaching their tricenntennials; there wasn't much they hadn't seen.
"At least tell us what the tape's about," begged Werner.
Jean-Paul snickered. "It MIGHT...I'm not saying it is, you understand, but it MIGHT...be about...a Slayer!"
This caused a frenzied buzz of specualtion that would have made Spike think of a beehive...except, he felt like he'd been sucker-punched. A tape...of a SLAYER?
It had been months since he'd seen her...still small and blonde and sparkling, somehow..undefeated. He felt a sudden throb of emotion that might have been- probably was- fear.
But...when had he ever been afraid of her?
Suddenly he couldn't wait until it was time to view the tape.
Jean-Paul was serving liquor as well as blood; and Spike indulged himself freely. Yet he was among the first when Jean-Paul finally led them into the screening room.
Jean-Paul stood in front of the screen, holding a videotape. "When I said this tape MIGHT be about a Slayer, I lied!"
Spike held onto control; but a few of the younger ones vamped and growled.
But Jean-Paul merely chuckled. "It's about TWO Slayers!"
The room erupted into wild applause, which he acknowledged with a self-satisfied bow. "This tape," he intoned solemnly, "is the only one of its kind. It shows a fight between two Slayers...to the death!"
More applause, reaching frenzied levels. Spike found that his hands were clenched into fists, and thrust them into his pockets.
"TWO Slayers? How is that possible?" Werner demanded.
Several vampires present knew the story; and shouted it out.
"The Slayer was dead..."
Killed by the Master..."
"Revived by a friend..."
"But dead long enough to call another..."
Spike had vague memories of fighting that other Slayer, and he was certain he'd have killed her, if Buffy hadn't stepped in. Now this one...Faith...had turned traitor; and the two of them would face off in a fight to end all fights.
"Where did you find such a thing, Jean-Paul?" Hugh Campion asked curiously.
"The Mayor had a security camera installed in the turncoat Slayer's apartment. After the big showdown, a vampire who now works for me retrieved it and fled the Hellmouth. Unfortunately there's no sound, but we do have full, glorious color!"
He touched a button, and there they were...two Slayers, facing each other across the length of a room. Spike was conscious of the greatest urge to breathe deep...but forced himself to act normal.
The Slayer- HIS Slayer, Buffy- wore his colors, red and black; and the sight gave him a momentary thrill as she walked forward.
"Ahh!" It was the talkative Werner again. "Beautiful...why are all Slayers so beautiful?"
"Can't imagine," Jean-Paul said lightly. "Seems an incredible waste, my friends!"
And then- the fight exploded.
Spike watched spellbound as blow and counter-blow landed. When Buffy was slammed into the mirror, he winced reflexively; he smiled when she kicked the brunette a hard one. *God, Slayer,* he thought, as she blocked a punch, *I never knew what you had in you! Watch luv...move, NOW! Good...good one! Again...stay on her! Stay...*
He realized what he was doing, and it gave him pause. When did the fight become partisan? What did he care which Slayer won?
But it was; and he did.
In his head, he fought every move of that battle with her, blind and deaf to his surroundings...until that moment when the two Slayers crashed out the window in a waterfall of splintering glass...
The lights came up; and Spike blinked his way back to reality. Every vampire present was clamoring to view the tape again. Looking around, Spike wondered if any one of them was as aroused as he was.
Probably... that tape would turn a vampire on better than any skin-flick possibly could.
"Enough!" Jean-Paul, laughing and besieged, held up his hand to still the clamor. "No, we won't rewind the tape...not tonight! Be content, my friends, tonight you've seen something other vampires have only dreamed about."
His smile took on a cruel tinge of sadistic enjoyment. "And now, I will wish you all a good night."
*He's excited,* Spike thought. *He's so bloody excited he can't wait to get rid of us; so he can pleasure himself. Probably with that tape running. . .*
Her image filled his mind. He'd never seen her dressed in leather before. And in his colors...he found his excitement becoming painful...
Spike lingered while most of the others took leave, listening while they tried to bargain with an adamant Jean-Paul for a copy of the tape. Spike didn't bother; he knew there was no possibility Jean-Paul would be willing to share his treasure. No...that wasn't the way....
"Spike? You wish to join us?" Jean-Paul glanced at Hugh Campion uncertainly.
"We must not be inhospitable, Jean-Paul." The Master was amenable. "Spike is evidently enjoying your party, so far." His pale eyes roamed aver the blond's lean body.
Spike grinned and draped his arm over Jean-Paul's shoulder. "Right, mates...nothing like a good video to get in the mood, hmm?"
Jean-Paul shrugged; and exchanged an amused glance with Hugh Campion. He led the way to his enormous bedroom, a vampiric haven of crimson brocade.
"Just let me lock up our little beauties," he opened the wall safe concealed behind an original Rembrandt, while Spike watched with a bored look of indifference.
"How many copies do you have to make for that lot out there?"
"There'll only be one copy made," Hugh Campion drawled. "Mine."
"Of course," Jean-Paul fawned on the older vampire. "We share everything, don't we, Master?"
The Master nodded slowly, then turned to look at Spike. Their eyes met. "And tonight, we'll share Spike."
Spike tightened his grip on Jean-Paul's throat; and the Frenchman gibbered in terror.
"Open the safe." The words were cold, emotionless; yet something in the blue eyes flickered when they rested on the videotape.
"You...you want a copy made, Spike?" Jean-Paul stammered, trying not to look at the bed behind them- the bed where the naked body of what had been the Master of Los Angeles sprawled in mutilated obscenity.
Spike's lips curled. "No copies, remember, Jean-Paul?"
Then the blond vampire snapped his neck.
Deliberately, unhurriedly, Spike got dressed.
He dropped the videotape into the pocket of his leather coat. Then, hand on the doorknob, he surveyed his work with satisfaction, and permitted himself a small smile.
How this outing had revived his memories of the London streets...and of a small urchin, living by picking and stealing, who was easy prey for the men and older boys who used him for their own ends! One of them, he recalled, had been very like Hugh Campion...which was why he'd made the Master's death as brutal as possible. Spike scowled, studying the body. "Now, what did I do with the head? Oh, right."
It had rolled into a dark corner; one of Spike's boots connected and kicked it under the bed.
He let himself out of the mansion, strolling unconcernedly past the minions.
"Leaving?" It was the young vampire, Werner.
Spike nodded. "Must get my beauty rest, mate. But it was a real interesting party..."
"Wasn't it?" Werner agreed enthiusiastically as they headed down the driveway together. "I never thought I'd see something like that! That videotape must be worth a fortune. If it was mine, I'd sell copies...it'd outsell Titanic and Star Wars combined! What would you do, if you had it?"
Spike lit a cigarette. "Keep it to look at. Just me."
Werner chuckled. "Well, Jean-Paul has a party piece that'll last him years!"
They reached the main road, and paused.
Werner said suddenly, "What do you think happened, in that Slayer fight? Which of them won?"
Spike grinned at him. "I don't think.... I know!"
"Oh?" Werner watched the blond turn away. "Off to hunt or something?"
Spike glanced back. "No...thought I'd have a bit of a lie-in tomorrow, mate. Just kick back, relax.... watch a video..."