Spike ground out his cigarette beneath the heel of his beat-up black Doc. Amazing that his boots and duster had survived both the cave and the re-corporealization, a fact for which he was grateful. While he wore both boots and coat for reasons of style and class, they were also extremely practical, and had weathered many a storm with him. And they were up to three days and nights of demon hunting, while the clothing Angel normally wore would have been beat all to hell about now. Spike was more than a little proud of that fact.
More than a little proud that he’d shown he could beat Angel all to hell.
He’d been a bit shell-shocked after that whole cup-thing, with going back to solid state and being told he was somehow responsible, in a peripheral way, for having the world go bonkers, all pretty much in a manner of minutes. And then, defeating Angel. Spike had gone out and gotten himself good and drunk, then had spent the next week trying to figure out what he was going to do next, while enjoying Harmony’s talent with blood.
(He hadn’t had a chance to enjoy Harmony’s other talents. When a person starts streaming blood from their eyes, screaming about your love for another women, right in the middle of a good shag—well, that was enough to put you off for a while. More than enough to make you consider moving on to greener pastures.)
So having partaken in most of the delights of being corporeal, Spike had found himself at loose ends, especially since they were no closer to figuring out who the Real Champion was. And it hurt that everyone was voting for Angel, because in Spike’s personal opinion, there was very little the great poof had that he did not, and mostly what he did have consisted of a decent place to live and some very nice, very fast cars. None of which Angel had come by honestly, as far as Spike could see.
The only thing he could think of to take his mind off present worries, and a bleak future at Wolfram & Hart, was a nice bout of hunting. And without a word to anyone, he’d purloined a rather nice ax and a fat wallet from some evil client. Spike figured he was doing the world a favor; killing demons and stealing from the evil rich. And it all made him feel marginally better.
He’d found the sewers easily enough, and he’d started hunting, the way he’d not hunted since the summer Buffy was—Well, he hadn’t hunted like that for a long time. Three days and three nights spent pursuing nasty, baby-killing demons, large demons that feasted on full-grown adults, and the occasional ankle-biter that was more nuisance than danger, but wound up pissing him off. And when it was all said and done, he was filthy and a great deal happier. He bought himself a pack of smokes with the stolen money, and wandered back to W&H, with the hope of a nice hot shower down in the lab, and curling up where no one would bother him for a day or two.
“Spike.” He looked up to see Angel bearing down on him, an annoyed expression on his face. “Where have you been?”
“None o’ your business, Peaches,” the younger vampire replied easily, secure in the knowledge of his own superiority.
“If you think you’re going to be sleeping in that empty office, you can just forget about it,” Angel ground out, surprising Spike. He hadn’t thought Angel knew anything about that, or cared for that matter, as long as he wasn’t bothering anybody.
Spike frowned, angry. “No one’s usin’ it,” he objected. “So why can’t I?”
Angel didn’t bother replying, instead grabbing Spike by the shoulder and directing him towards the elevators. “Come on.” Spike resisted, pulling free of his grip, and Angel sighed, finishing off the command with a half-hearted, “Please.”
Spike followed, but only because he was curious, and not because he cared to do anything Angel asked of him. If Angel seriously thought he was going to stick around and just let himself be picked on constantly—as in the old days—he had another thing coming. Instead, Spike found himself on a floor he didn’t remember visiting before, and frowned as Angel pushed him towards one door in particular.
In spite of himself, Spike held out a hand and watched as Angel dropped a key card of some kind into it. “What’s this?” he asked, with a commendable lack of animosity.
“Merry Christmas, Spike,” Angel mumbled, and left.
What Spike found behind door number one was an apartment. Not as large or fancy as Angel’s of course, and decorated in the modern contemporary style he’d never much cared for, but it had more than one room and actual furniture. After a moment it dawned on him that it was his, and he smiled.
While he might hate to have to be grateful to Angel for anything, it had been a long time since he’d had his own space. Before the soul, certainly, and it felt good. He let out a sigh of what might have been relief, tossed the key card on the small table by the entrance, threw his duster on the couch, and proceeded to explore his new place, noting both the large shower and the queen-size bed, luxuries he had done without for a very long time. And of which he was going to enjoy taking part.
When Spike woke, it was to the sound of insistent knocking. He sighed and sat up in bed, glancing over at his discarded clothing and making a sound of disgust. His boots and coat would survive, of course, but the pants and shirt were pretty much a lost cause. Well, the jeans were possibly salvagable, if he could manage to find a place to do laundry.
But the knocking continued, and he rolled out of bed, picking the towel he’d tossed on the floor and wrapping it around him. He didn’t have much of a choice at this point. And then he opened the door to find Fred staring at him. “Spike.”
“Can I help you?” he asked, slightly amused at the girl’s rising blush.
She stared at him. “No. I mean, yes. I mean—Did I get you out of the shower?”
He smirked. “No, got me out of bed. Clothes are a bit the worse for wear today, luv.”
“Oh, right.” She laughed a little then, and rolled her eyes. “Silly me. Angel said you’d gone demon hunting or something and came in all dirty. So I thought I’d bring your Christmas present early.”
Spike frowned. “Christmas present?” Mentally, he tried to count up the days in his head, and realized that it was actually the 22nd of December. And he was still standing in his doorway with a towel on, while Fred looked at him hopefully. “Come in, pet. Sorry.” He stepped aside and let her enter, realizing for the first time that she was holding a rather large gift bag.
“Oh, that’s all right. You should have seen me the first time Angel came to visit my room, when we were still all staying at the hotel. I didn’t know I had to invite him in and I just left him standing there.” She gave a slight giggle. “How do you like your new place?”
“‘s nice,” he admitted. “You have somethin’ to do with it?”
Fred shrugged slightly and plopped herself down on the couch, amazingly at ease with him, in spite of his undressed state. She really was a bit of a strange bird. “Well, I talked to Angel about it, but it was really his idea. I didn’t think it was fair that everybody else had a place to stay and all you got was an empty office. Anyway,” she said, brightening, “that’s what this is for. Here, open it.”
Spike took the bag she held out, almost warily. It had been a long time since anyone had gotten him a Christmas present. A very long time indeed. And when he opened it, he was stunned. “It’s just, I figured since you’d just come back, and didn’t have any stuff or anything, you might need some extra clothes. Especially if you’re like the rest of the guys, because they’re really hard on clothing. You should see all the shirts they’ve had to throw away. And then I heard you’d gotten back, and I figured you could use it early. Besides, when I came back from Pylea, I didn’t have anything at all, and everybody was really nice to me, so I thought I could return the favor?”
The last bit was said so hopefully that Spike forced himself to meet her eyes. The mask that he’d kept so firmly in place (with everyone but her) slipped, and he gave her a genuine smile. “It’s about the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me, Fred.” And it was. There was a pair of black jeans and a pair of black chinos, along with few t-shirts and a couple button down shirts too, all in the dark colors he typically favored. He had no idea how she’d known what size, but they were about right, and he was really and truly touched.
Fred smiled at him. “I’m glad you like them, but if anything’s not okay, I’ve got the receipts.” Her smile faltered just a little bit, and she said quietly. “Cordelia took me out shopping. After I came out of my room, that is. Before that she just picked stuff up for me.”
Spike wasn’t sure how to reply to that, and so simply excused himself and went to put on the new, clean, clothing. When he came out, Fred was back to her cheerful self, and she told him she was glad they fit and that she hoped he could make it to the Wolfram & Hart Christmas party, and then she took herself out.
As for Spike, he checked out the fridge, grateful to find it well-stocked with blood already, and fixed himself a meal, all the while wondering at the irony of it. Who would have thought an evil law firm dedicated to spreading chaos and horror would host a party celebrating a holiday meant to promote peace and love?