The Mission Mission
Can Leopards Change Their Spots?
Jan K., Kathy H., & Melanie
"Okay, follow me toward Gilroy," Xander called
out as he jumped down from the truckbed and into the driver's seat. "We'll
stop at the first decent looking diner or restaurant. Have fun, you two.
"Tutaonana baadaye, Xander," replied Mena as Xander started
the engine and headed the truck down the long mission driveway. She and
Spike continued walking toward the Viper.
"I s'pose that's Swahili that you and Harris are yammering at each
other?" Spike observed.
"That's right, Spike. Sorry if it seemed like we were excluding
you. Xander said goodbye to me, and I said see you later. That's all it
"Seem to recall you saying something else when we were still inside."
Spike opened the driver's door, and Mena reached for the passenger door
handle, then froze. Since she had stopped, Spike did the same.
"Oh. I wish you hadn't heard that. I called you and Xander idiots
-- magombe -- but only because you were arguing like bratty children.
Are you still going to give me a ride?"
Spike laughed. "Get in, Thumbelmena. I can take a joke if you can.
Just a warning, though. I already know a lot of languages; I'll probably
pick up Swahili right quick, so you'd better watch what you call me in
the future." They both hopped into the car.
"I'll keep that in mind. This is such a beautiful car. It's brilliant.
Really super. Why do you need two identical cell phones?" asked Mena,
picking them up off the car seat and moving them onto her lap as she settled
"Huh? Oh, forgot all about those. Took them off a couple of wankers
who were following me when I left L.A. You can just toss them on the floor."
"Oh, yeah. Mr. Giles told Xander that you were being followed. Did
you kill them?" Mena studied Spike closely as she secured her safety
"No, I didn't kill them," Spike sighed. "They were human.
Just knocked the tossers out. Couldn't let them call for help right away,
though, could I?" Spike sped out of the driveway in order to catch
up with Xander.
The ride to Gilroy started to drive Spike crazy almost immediately. Mena
seemed to have gotten over her initial aloofness and proceeded to ask
him a million questions with boundless energy. Within the space of ten
minutes, she had managed to push not only all of Spike's buttons, but
every whistle and bell on the Viper's dash as well.
Just what I needed, thought Spike, a bloody co-pilot. "If
you don't stop fussing with the sodding GPS system, you're going to break
the bleeding thing."
Mena regarded him for a moment and then proceeded to start playing with
the radio dials, switching quickly from one station to another for a few
Finally frustrated beyond endurance, Spike yelled, "For the love
of God, girl, keep your mitts off those buttons. In my car, we
listen to my music." He found his station again and settled
back with a sigh. "Keep it up and I won't tell you which button works
the ejector seat---let you find out yourself."
Mena's eyes opened wide as she retorted, "You wouldn't dare do that!
Besides, it's not like you're James Bond or anything. It's very unlikely
that this car even has an ejector seat."
"Oh really," Spike countered, "what makes you so sure?"
"You wouldn't do that because I could get hurt, and since you are
now The Sunnydale Champion Vampire With a Soul, it would go against all
your principles. Right?"
"All my principles?" Spike chuckled and replied, "There
aren't many people who would accuse me of having principles, squirt, but,
yeah, I guess you got me there. Wouldn't actually want to see you get
hurt. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing the look on your face when you pop
through the roof."
They both laughed. Spike began to speak, hesitated, then ventured again,
"By the way, how do you know about that so-called 'champion' stuff?"
Mena was quiet for a moment, but then answered, "You know how girls
like to gossip. Slayer training was a hotbed of information. And Xander
really did tell me a lot about you, you know. Besides all the warnings
that you could possibly become evil again, he told me about a lot of times
when you saved one or more of the Scoobies and that you fought to get
your soul back for Buffy. He also said, in the end, you stepped up to
the plate and did an amazing thing, sacrificing yourself to save the world.
I think he was surprised that you did it."
"Well," Spike grumbled, "most of them had a very low opinion
of me; and as for Harris, he's never been able to stand me, so this working
arrangement had better be as short as possible."
"I think you two could be friends if you'd both stop being so dufu,
and get to know each other better."
"Stop being what?" Spike asked. "Wait, taking that in
context, dufu is Swahili for stupid or maybe stubborn, yeah?"
"Right. Dufu means stupid, but stubborn is not far off the mark.
Maybe the reason you don't get along is because you're both stubborn as
mules. Neither one wants to give an inch. But Buffy must still care a
lot about you if she sent you back-up to keep you safe," she said
gently, "and she must trust Xander a lot since she chose to send
us. All the more reason for us all to work together and get back
to the Council safe and sound, don't you think?"
Spike sighed, "Yeah, you're right. Guess Harris and I will just
have to suck it up and get along for the greater good, right? That's what
"My nyanya would just say -- "
"Wait a minute, pet. Nyanya sounds like maybe grandmother or aunt.
I'm guessing grandmother?"
"Oops! My Swahili just keeps slipping in. Yes, Nyanya means grandmother.
She would say to take all things in stride, and do the best you can with
the hand you are dealt. So that's what I try to do. I'm a Slayer now,
so I'll aspire to be the best one I can be. Xander is a Watcher, and you're
a Hero. It's our karma, and whether we like it or not, we have to accept
Mena noticed that Spike seemed lost in thought, so she forced herself
to remain quiet for a few minutes. When she couldn't take it any longer,
she decided changing the subject might be the right thing to do. Her eyes
fell again on the two cell phones Spike had taken from his pursuers. Mena
jumped on the solution at hand by asking, "So what are you going
to do with these cell phones?"
Spike shook off his pensive mood and replied, "Well, I figured I'd
make a lot of long distance calls to faraway places just to aggravate
the bleeding hell out of their bosses. No calls to anyone I know, though,
since all the calls from those phones are likely being traced or maybe
recorded in some nasty villain's evil office."
"Racking up a lot of long distance charges is a rather amusing idea.
I can give you the numbers to some Nairobi take-out restaurants, the library,
the cinema, that kind of thing; I've got them listed in my phone and address
book in my backpack. It's in the truck, but I can grab it after we've
eaten. Oh, and my baba (sorry, my father) was a diplomat. I've got friends
in several countries. They could e-mail us the numbers to all sorts of
businesses in various cities."
"That'll confuse them as well as aggravate them; sounds great, kid.
But we'll have to ditch them right quick, soon as we've had our fun."
"Right. We don't want to be traced. I suppose you've already hit
the redial button to find out who answers, right?" Mena inquired.
"Not yet," Spike answered, mentally kicking himself for not
having thought of it. Of course, she didn't need to know that. Besides,
he was really tired that night and had a lot on his mind.
"How about checking the numbers on the speed dial and recent calls
listing?" she asked.
"Like I said, haven't really had time to do anything with them yet."
Spike's assessment of the Slayer rose another couple of points. Not only
could she fight passing well, she was also smart. Might come in handy,
especially since cleverness was never one of Xander's strong points. Well,
to be fair, Harris occasionally had a good idea. He was the one who figured
out The First's mind control method of using a trigger to manipulate Spike.
That deduction turned out to be helpful in releasing Spike from The First's
puppet strings. Had to give Harris credit for that one.
"What are you doing there, pet?"
"Logging the speed dial numbers for you," said Mena, using
a small notebook and pen she'd taken out of her pocket. "They might
come in handy later. Don't worry; I'll hang up before anyone answers.
I need only a couple of seconds to see the numbers. I already wrote down
the numbers from the recent calls list."
"You always carry pen and paper with you?" asked Spike.
"Be prepared is a Slayer motto, too, you know. It's not just important
for Boy Scouts." Mena continued punching the speed dial buttons and
recording the numbers as they talked.
"So there are a lot of Boy Scouts in Nairobi these days?"
"I went to school in Connecticut for three years. I know a lot about
American culture. And I attended an academy in London for two years before
that, so I know a good bit about your British culture, too. To be honest,
England often depressed me. It was damp and foggy and full of stuffy Brits."
"That a fact?" mused Spike. "Quite the world traveler
for one so young. And may I point out that not all Brits are stuffy!"
"True," Mena laughed, "you are far from stuffy! But I
haven't seen anywhere near as much of the world as you have, Spike. I
read Lydia Chalmers' thesis on you in the Watcher internet files during
our flight to San Francisco. Of course, that focused mainly on your years
as William The Bloody. The later chapters were rather skimpy, and she
died before the battle with The First, so there's nothing in there about
Spike snorted. "Oh, I'm sure that thesis is loaded with lies and
half-truths. Maybe you can show it to me sometime when I'm in the mood
for a good laugh. Did she include her interview with me from that one
time she came to Sunnydale?"
"Yes, she seemed a bit taken with you, if you ask me. That chapter
wasn't as scholarly as the earlier ones. And she said something about
wanting to clear up several questions she now had about some of the details
recorded about you in the past by other Watchers, if she ever had a chance
to confer with you again. She seemed to doubt that all of it was true."
"Good on her. Like I said, I'll wager a lot of that stuff they've
got on me is just plain wrong. Too bad she's gone. It'll never get corrected
now, and young Slayers like yourself will keep on reading a pack of lies."
"Oh, those files aren't actually available to Slayers. I think they
should be, though. The better informed we are, the better Slayers we can
be. That's what I think. I'm a bit of a hacker, see. I figure that anything
I can bring up on my screen I earned the right to read."
"You surprise me, little seeker of wisdom and truth. Just when I
was beginning to think that you were the type who followed rules, no matter
the circumstances, you reveal a touch of the rebel in you."
"I do believe in following procedure, Spike, but it's the right
of every good citizen to question authority when you firmly believe that
something is wrong. I learned that when studying both American history
and current political events."
Spike raised an eyebrow and smirked as he interrupted Mena to say, "You're
invoking national politics to validate your right to snoop in someone
else's computer files? Shirty chit! You may end up running the government
one day, pet. Or maybe the C.I.A." He laughed.
"I don't think this is a laughing matter. I really believe that
it's wrong to withhold information from Slayers that could make us better
at our jobs. So that's a rule that should be broken until it's no longer
a rule anymore. Change is inevitable, even when people resist it. You're
an excellent example, yourself, of changing despite everyone's expectations,
don't you think?"
"Maybe you should pick another topic, short stuff."
"Okay. Are you and Buffy still in love?"
"Hey, I said another topic. By that I meant something other
than me. And what makes you think Buffy and I were ever in love? No, don't
answer that. I can't talk about that; especially not with a very young
girl I just met. If you can't think of a topic that's not about me, then
no more talking!"
"After we eat, may I drive us to the hotel?"
"What? Don't even think about it. It's not going to happen!
The last response made her frown, so she pushed it. "Why not? I've
been driving jeeps and land rovers in Nairobi for the last couple of years.
Even in law-fanatic America, I'm old enough to drive with an adult in
the car. I'm fifteen, plus I'm very responsible."
"I'm sure you are, pet, but this is one time where I'm firmly behind
those fanatic Americans with all their bloody laws because 15 year-olds
here must have a special Learner's Permit in order to drive with an adult.
I know it's true because we went though this exact same trauma with Buffy's
sister Dawn. So, for the record, you are not old enough!"
Mena opened her mouth to protest, but to Spike's delight, he spotted
Xander's blinker turning on.
"Well, shorty, looks like we can keep that mouth of yours occupied
in another way. Harris apparently has plans to eat at this diner since
he's parking the truck. And do not bring up this topic of conversation
when we get inside the diner, nor ever again for that matter. End of discussion."
With that, Spike stopped the Viper and jumped out, leaving Mena to scramble
along behind him.
Mena raced up to Xander, telling him that the Viper is the coolest car,
just like something out of a James Bond movie.
"Not only that, Xander, but Spike is going to teach me how to drive
it," she added with contagious enthusiasm.
Spike shook his head vigorously in denial, as Xander glared at him in
"I said no such thing, you little minx. If anyone teaches you to
drive, it will have to be your Watcher. And with the truck,"
"That's right, Mena. And not till I think you're ready for American
traffic," added Xander. "So keep your eyes peeled whenever we're
on the roads. Learn the subtle ways of the American driver."
"Nooooo, Xander, you drive like an old lady. Please, I want Spike
to teach me," she protested.
"Better to learn from an old lady than a maniac. You'll survive
longer and put less wear and tear on the engine," Xander warned,
still burning Spike with his gaze.
"I do not drive like a maniac, and in case you haven't noticed,
I've survived a pretty long time---", Spike started to protest, but
Mena threw them 'the look'.
Both men shrugged and followed her into the diner without another word.
They knew there was no use in continuing an argument after receiving 'the
look' from a Slayer. Spike renewed his plan to start reining in the cheeky
girl before she became impossible to deal with. He admired both forthrightness
and moxie, but this Slayer needed a little Spike control. One Buffy in
the world was more than enough.
Taking a booth in the back of the diner, Mena, Spike and Xander checked
out the menu, passing the time until the waitress noticed them. She was
a plump, but pretty girl, and she had noticed them when they walked
in, or more specifically, noticed Spike. She quickly made a beeline to
Giving Spike an approving once-over, she flashed him a flirtatious smile
as she said, "Evening folks, what's your pleasure?"
Spike smiled back and started to answer, but Xander blurted out his order,
"Two double sirloin supremes, an order of chili fries and a root
The waitress cast Xander a quick glance, noting that he was also attractive,
but brunettes were just not her type. The blond, on the other hand, was
to die for.
"Okay, sir, what about your daughter here? What'll you have, hon?"
Xander began to sputter a protest. After all, there was no way
he looked old enough to have a teenage daughter. Or did he? Mena just
ignored him and calmly placed her order.
"I'd like a plain cheeseburger, cheese fries and a double chocolate
milkshake, please. Oh, and by the way, he's not my father. Xander isn't
married. I don't think he even has a girlfriend."
Xander was obviously embarrassed, and Spike tried in vain not to laugh
out loud as the waitress took this all in and then commented with a wry
smile, "Oh, gee---that's too bad." She then turned her attention
back to Spike, asking,
"What about you, handsome?"
Now it was Spike's turn to squirm. He wasn't exactly sure if she was
asking for his order or whether he had a girlfriend, so he wasn't sure
how to respond.
Mena, however, came to the rescue, stating matter of factly, "He's
not married either, but I think he is kinda spoken for."
"Okay, then," grinned the waitress. "Now that we've got
the relationship issues all straightened out, what would you like to eat,
"Oh, I uhh---I'll have a sirloin burger as rare as you can get it,
an order of suicide wings and one of those onion blossom things. And since
you don't serve alcohol in this cozy little establishment, would you please
bring me a cup of hot cocoa. Just give the check to Pops over there, okay?"
"Anything you say, darlin'", the waitress winked and walked
While Spike was placing his order, Mena had a bewildered look on her
face. She couldn't contain her curiosity and had to ask, "Spike,
you eat food--human food?"
"Sure, why not?" he answered, not at all bothered by her question.
"But, you don't need food, so why do you eat it?"
"Don't know, really. I've always enjoyed it, as long as it's spicy
or tastes good, so never thought of giving it up. Don't need to breathe,
either, but I find myself doing it sometimes. Probably snore like all
hell, too, though I never got any complaints. Guess some old habits just
"Hey, I complained plenty when you slept in my parents' basement,"
Xander grumbled. "You just didn't care. And speaking of your old
habits, Spike, thanks for encouraging Mena in her daily dose of Harris
Spike and Mena shared a mischievous look. "Glad I could be of service",
Xander shook his head at both of them. "Way to make me feel like
a jerk, guys---tons of laughs at good old Xander's expense. The waitress
must think I'm a total loser. Not only that---an old loser. Just
for that, you can buy your own dinner, Spike. And Mena, forget dessert!"
"Hey, no way, Pops," Spike laughed. "You're the keeper
of the company credit card. Since you keep reminding me that this is a
business trip, you can consider it a bloody write-off. Good, old-fashioned
suckling off the corporate teat."
Click on image to view a larger version
"Yeah, yeah, I hear you," Xander retorted, "but speaking
of business, maybe we better get down to it. There are a few things Giles
wanted me to discuss with you, Spike, and then I'll fill you in on our
first mission, which just happens to be in Gilroy."
A few minutes later, their food came, and they all ate hungrily as Xander
elaborated on the information Giles had given to him.
"First of all, Dead Boy, Giles wants to establish some kind of identification
papers for you, but he needs someplace to start as far as your background
goes. He asked for your real name and birthplace, so he can alter some
documents and create a passport, credit card and bank account for you
to use. You'll also need a birth certificate with a believable year of
birth and a valid driver's license. He said ASAP, so what's your real
"Bugger that!" Spike sneered. "No way I'm having snoopy
Rupert sniffing around in my previous life. Why can't he just use Spike
on the documents? Don't know why he's making such a fuss; this is a temporary
"He says he needs to have a full and legitimate name, Spike, or
at least a believable one. Regardless of how temporary this arrangement
is, you'll still need funds to feed that shiny blue monster out there.
You still need weapons and resources, and maybe a better wardrobe."
Mena seconded that opinion! "If the Council is willing to provide
all that," she said, "why not go for it? And with airport security
the way it is now, you'll need solid documents to be able to travel anywhere
Xander could see that Spike was still reluctant, so before he could put
on the Spike equivalent of the patented Willow 'resolve face', Xander
jumped in again.
"Look, just make something up if you won't give him your real birth
name. Mena and I can help you come up with something that suits you, can't
"Sure, it will be fun!" she replied with enthusiasm and a bit
of mischief as well.
"Okay, Mena, you're good at this sort of thing," Xander said
with a twinkle in his eye, "so why don't you start us off? Look at
Spike and tell us a good name for our 'favorite vamp'."
"No, you go first, Xan. Give me something to work off of",
Spike was getting frustrated with this nonsense. "I couldn't care
less what name is on the bloody documents, as long as it's not Randy Giles.
Nothing could be as revolting as that."
Xander stared at Spike, deep in thought. "Let's see--- he looks
like a---I've got it. How about William Hatesun? Or maybe Joe Stakeheart?"
Spike just snorted, shaking his head in disgust at Xander's suggestions.
"Those are bloody awful, mate. No one's gonna fall for names like
that. Totally pitiful excuse for what you think is humor, that's what
Xander feigned disappointment and chimed in with even more candidates.
"All right, then, how about, Shorty Paleman, or uhh---Lefty Vampson--yeah,
that's good, or oooh, oooh, Randolf Longtooth or Helmut Head?"
"Very funny, Harris!" Spike growled. "I thought this was
supposed to be serious. Clearly, you're cracking yourself up here. A bleeding
comedian, that's you."
"I've got some, Xan," Mena chirped. "I think you'll like
these, Spike, they're kinda sexy. How about William Bloodlove,
or Rock Starr, or my personal favorite, Blondie St. James? Do you like
any of those?"
Spike frowned at Xander and Mena, trying to come up with some scathing
remark to make about their total lack of respect for him. Watching them,
though, laughing so easily with each other, he found himself getting caught
up in their amusement and started chuckling, himself. It was just good-natured
ribbing, at his expense of course, but no harm was intended. The past
few days had been such a nightmare that he had forgotten how good it was
to laugh and to have comrades again.
Maybe this temporary team thing wouldn't be so bad after all. If nothing
else, it'd be good to have someone other than himself to talk to. Of course,
Harris will say something stupid to screw it all up eventually, but until
that happens, why not enjoy it?
"Oh, yeah, you two are just slaying me with your wit,"
he laughed. "Guess this is payback. To tell you the truth, I've always
been partial to Eddie Munster. Or maybe William McFang or Blade Nightstalker."
Their surprised guffaws and delight at his playing along made Spike pleased
that he had chosen that reaction over anger. There was something to be
said for camaraderie.
"Much as I appreciate all your 'helpful' suggestions," Spike
continued, "think I'll go with something that sounds a bit less like
it came from Andrew. Gotta satisfy the Head Watcher, right?"
Xander and Mena regained their composure and agreed that Giles would
probably appreciate a more sensible selection. Spike then decided on the
name William S. Goodman, and after a de rigueur snicker from Xander, they
all agreed it was a workable choice. They were well on their way through
dessert when Spike prompted Xander for information on their assignment.
"So, what's this top secret priority business your fearless leader
wants you to investigate, while you're not babysitting me, that is?"
"I was just about to get into that, but since you asked, here goes,"
Xander started. "Before you closed the Hellmouth, a lot of demons
and vampires left Sunnydale for parts unknown. For the most part, this
whole area of California has been relatively quiet for a good year now.
Lately, though, Giles said the Council has heard rumblings about 'wonky'
things going on in these parts again, specifically in Gilroy."
"Things certainly weren't quiet in the L.A. area; I can tell you
that," Spike interjected. "As for 'wonky', one bloke's 'wonky'
is another bloke's 'business as usual'."
"Are you gonna keep interrupting me, Spike? If so, maybe I'll need
to order some coffee." Spike shrugged, leading Xander to continue.
"Since we were sent here to meet you, Giles thought we could check
things out here, as well as two other places, on the way to our eventual
checkpoint in Cleveland. Apparently, Giles will have some really important
info for us once we get there, but anyway, back to my story."
Xander continued, "The Council has some sketchy intel implying that
Gilroy has become some sort of a haven for ---get this---'peaceful' vampire
and demon types. Seems that these 'peacenik' vamps have been coexisting
with the human population of the town for some time now."
"So---that's a bad thing?" Spike asked in confusion.
Xander and Mena both rolled their eyes and shared a skeptical chuckle.
"Well, no, it's not a bad thing, if it was the truth. But anyone
with half a brain can see that this has gotta be a major masquerade. Giles
suspects that the vamps have the humans under some type of thrall, and
the whole town is being held hostage. Probably being forced to keep the
Spike decided he didn't like the direction this conversation was going
and blurted out, "Figures Rupert would assume the worst possible
scenario, and you'd follow blindly right along with him. Hello! Peaceful
vampire sitting right here! As far as I can tell, I am coexisting, or
trying to tolerate, most of you humans. Have been for years."
"That's different, Spike," Xander started to argue, but Spike
cut him off.
"There are plenty of non-violent demons in this world, Harris. You
met my buddy, Clem, back in Sunnydale, and he was certainly non-violent.
Well, uhh, maybe not so much toward kittens, but---"
That statement bothered Mena a bit. "What do you mean about the
kittens?" she asked tentatively.
"Nothing!" Spike and Xander cried in unison.
Spike then continued telling them, "There was this demon, Lorne
from Pylea, that I met when I was working with Angel's team in L.A. Was
a bit more on the 'nancy boy' side than demon side, I'd wager, but still,
you couldn't get any more non-violent than that guy was. And it's not
just individual demons, either. There are whole demon clans that are non-violent,
although those clans are certainly in the minority."
"The Slayer Handbook makes no mention of non-violent demon species,"
"No, it wouldn't, would it? Written by reactionary old tossers on
The Watchers' Council. They can't conceive of the idea that any demon
could be non-violent. Goes against their world view. Appears Rupert isn't
making any progress in widening that narrow perspective despite his experiences
"Okay, okay, Clem was a good guy," said Xander, "but I'm
not willing to concede that entire demon species are non-violent. Not
without any evidence at least. Regardless, as far as vampires are concerned,
you're--- well---unique. I mean, you have a soul, and as far as the Council
knows, you're the only vamp in the world with a soul, so---"
"I lived in peace with you before I got my soul back, you
git!" Spike pointed out.
"You had the chip in your head; you couldn't hurt us anyway!"
Xander argued back.
"Oh, bollocks!" Spike scoffed. "Maybe I couldn't directly
hurt you, but if I had really wanted to do some damage, I could have found
some other way to go about it, or had someone else do it for me. Point
Xander looked away for a moment, not wanting to meet Spike's gaze. Damn
it, why did he have to bring that up, he thought to himself.
Spike just sighed and continued, "See, a lot of what a vampire is
like after he's turned depends upon the strength of the demon 'parasite'
and that of the human 'host'. The demon varies somewhat from vamp to vamp.
Some demons are willing to blend, to varying degrees, with the host's
humanity; others take it over and destroy it completely."
"Well, every vampire I've met in Sunnydale and elsewhere has been
a bloodthirsty monster intent on killing and nothing else," Xander
firmly stated. "Including Jesse, who was Willow's and my best friend
in high school. He didn't care about us at all once he was turned."
"Fledglings have next to no control over their demons. That takes
time. And granted, the vast majority of vampires have very strong demons
within them and retain very little of their humanity. They would never
choose to live peaceably among humans. But like some vampires, including
Drusilla, I was lucky enough to retain a good deal of my humanity. Unfortunately
for Dru, Angelus drove her completely bonkers before he turned her, so
she had no real control over her demon. And her remaining humanity was
"You don't have to tell me that," said Xander. "I've
met her, remember, and sincerely hope I never meet her again."
Mena glanced at Xander with hopes of someday hearing that particular
story and kept her gaze intently on the two of them, clearly fascinated
by all that she was learning tonight. This went way beyond anything she'd
ever read during her Slayer training.
"Just saying that her insanity and lack of control weren't her fault,"
said Spike. "Anyway, in time, I learned to control my demon, to integrate
both parts of myself, even without a soul. I admit I had special reasons
for wanting my soul back, but I had started to change long before that.
Just needed the soul to kinda anchor my resolve, I guess. While there
may not be any other souled vampires in this world, it may still be possible
there are those who want a better life for themselves. Who choose not
to kill humans for their sustenance. Why is that so hard for you to believe?"
"Well, for one thing," grumbled Xander, "why is this the
first time I've heard any of this stuff? We've known each other for years,
Spike. Why didn't you ever explain any of this before now?"
"No one ever asked. And we never were all that chatty, were we?
Saw no reason to be forthcoming with information about vampires when everything
I said was always considered bollocks anyway, yeah?"
Xander didn't want to admit that was true, so he just glared and kept
his mouth shut. Mena, however, had been contemplating Spike's revelations
about vampires and thought that he might have a valid argument. She nodded
her head slowly and said, "Maybe Spike has a point here, Xan. Maybe
the Gilroy vamps have chosen to live peaceably with humans because they
want to live in a town where humans aren't always trying to kill them."
"Thank you, voice of reason!" Spike cried. "There were
a handful of vampires working at Wolfram and Hart who had to swear off
drinking human blood, even from blood banks, in order to keep their jobs.
Of course, those were Angel's orders. He even had random testing to be
sure they weren't cheating. They may still have been craving human blood,
but they resisted because it suited their purpose to have a good-paying
job and live safely among humans. Even Harm was working there."
"Harmony?" gasped Xander. "You have got to be kidding!"
Mena made mental note of another vampire to ask about later.
"I know," nodded Spike. "As unbelievable as it sounds,
she was actually a pretty good secretary. Anyway, same thing could be
going on here in Gilroy. Although, if they haven't thought of this themselves,
we should probably point out that if they've become used to living in
peace with their town demons, they still need to keep in mind that the
majority of vampires in the rest of the world would drink them dry in
"If they become complacent about their lack of danger within the
city limits, they could be sitting ducks and easy pickings for any big
bads coming into the area. And you, Missy, should consider all vampires
deadly unless they prove themselves different. When in doubt, take them
out. 99.9% of the time, we're ruthless killers. Got it?"
Mena nodded her head, her mind full of all the things Spike had said.
There was certainly a lot more to being a Slayer than she had known before
"And even if I think they're non-violent, I'll always keep a stake
"Right," confirmed Spike. "They've always got their weapons
with them, yeah? So better safe than sorry."
"You just used a proverb, Spike. My nyanya is known for her wise
sayings and sometimes for her own personal twists on them. She once told
me her slant on an old adage that may suit our Gilroy situation very well.
A leopard may never change its spots, but people can change themselves
whenever they put their minds to it. That's what separates man from beast.
We just have to want it enough."
"Your nyanya is wise indeed," said Spike as he remembered particular
moments when he had wanted it enough.
Xander pondered Spike's reasoning for a while, and reluctantly had to
admit it made sense, even if he wasn't totally convinced.
"All right then, how do we find out if these supposedly 'peaceful'
vamps are the real deal? And not leopards?"
"Well," Spike said matter of factly, "that shouldn't be
too hard to determine. If they're not killing the people and not drinking
human blood, they've still got to eat something, so I wager they keep
the local butcher shop in right good business. Just need to stop by the
meat market and get a list of their best customers. Tell them I'm looking
to relocate to Gilroy and want to meet like-minded vampires. As I'm feeling
a bit low on platelets, anyway, I'll volunteer for that duty while you
two settle into our digs."
Spike looked from the Watcher to his Slayer, and knew his words had them
wondering, even if they still weren't entirely buying the idea of peaceful
vampires and demons yet. Hell, he had his own doubts, at least until he
could suss out the situation for himself.
"It's worth a try, I guess", admitted Xander, and Mena agreed.
"Good," said Spike. "Looks like shopping for pigs' blood
is high on my agenda then. For now, though, let's get checked into that
hotel you mentioned. Reckon the Watchers' Council allows for quite posh
Getting their rooms didn't go as smoothly as they might have wished.
Spike griped about staying in the rather old-fashioned and slightly dilapidated
Gilroy Inn when even a town the size of Gilroy must certainly have a better
hotel. Xander impatiently explained that even though the Council would
indeed be covering their expenses, they should still be 'reasonably frugal'.
That set Spike off on a rant about how Xander was channeling Rupert, which
even he would have to admit didn't suit him. Eventually, Mena found herself
intervening in hope of ending the somewhat embarrassing disagreement in
the hotel parking garage. Finally, they began hauling their bags out of
"Where's your bag, Spike?" asked Mena, as Spike grabbed the
larger of her two bags, and they walked in tandem behind Xander into the
"Don't have one. Left L.A. in a bit of a hurry, yeah? Figured the
Senior Partners might have some goons staking out my apartment and didn't
really have much of anything there anyway. So I just took off. Can easily
pick up a change of clothes here in Gilroy."
"Oh, I love shopping," enthused Mena. "I'll go with you
and help you pick out some new clothes. I might even find a couple of
things for myself."
As they reached the elevator, Xander punched the 'up' button and responded
to Mena's suggestion.
"Your bags are already so full that you couldn't close them
without my help. We're here on an assignment, Mena, and that's what we
should focus on for now. Maybe we can get in a little shopping just before
we head home to Nairobi, not that I'm in any hurry to get back to all
that heat. Kenya is way too hot for my tastes. I'm always sweaty, and
my hair gets frizzy."
"Always figured that sweat-soaked was just your natural state, Harris.
All I really need, Mena, is another pair of jeans, some socks and a tee
shirt or two," said Spike, as they entered the elevator. "That
kind of shopping wouldn't be all that much fun, anyway, pet."
"What happened to your 'trademark' black leather duster, Spike?"
asked Xander. "Wasn't it flame retardant enough to make it back into
the world with you?"
"Actually, it did come back with me, perfectly intact, too. Then
it got destroyed during one of my many misadventures with Angel. Someone
gave me a replacement---fine Italian leather; looked just like the original.
But I left it with a friend in L.A. Getting right used to this bomber
jacket now; maybe it'll be my new 'trademark' jacket. What do you think,
Mena? Does it suit me?"
"Looks like it was made for you, Spike. Suits you perfectly,"
said Mena as they exited the elevator and followed Xander down the hall.
"Here we are," said Xander. "I got us two adjoining rooms,
so that we can talk easily if needed." He opened the door and handed
Mena the room keycard.
"Only two rooms?" asked Spike. "Really don't think Rupert
would approve of you sharing a room with such a young girl, Harris."
"Very funny, Spike. Much to my own enormous displeasure, you and
I will once more be sharing a room." He opened the door to the next
room and set his suitcase on the end of the nearest bed.
"Not bloody likely," said Spike as he took a flying leap onto
the bed and nudged off Xander's suitcase with his boot. "Get your
"I promised Buffy I'd keep an eye on you, and anyway, we're not
wasting money on a third room," replied Xander with a big sigh as
he hoisted his suitcase and set it on the next bed. "And look, they've
got nice, thick curtains on the window. If you want to be sure they remain
tightly closed, stop your bitching and moaning."
"But I ---"
"I've seen some of the places you've lived, Spike. You've got to
admit that even if we're sharing, this is more than one step above your
"At least it's not a narrow cot in another bloody basement,"
Spike grudgingly agreed. When he heard Mena knocking on the connecting
door, he got up to let her in.
"I feel desperately in need of a shower and some sleep," said
Mena. "I know it's only a little after 8:00 PM here, but I'm right
"Knackered, eh?" laughed Spike. "Guess you really have
spent some time time in England. Don't think I've ever heard an American
girl use that word. Both of you are probably jet-lagged, so I might as
well head on over to the butcher's to see what I can suss out about the
vampire situation here while you get some sleep. Haven't had any blood
since yesterday; feeling a mite peckish. I'll probably stop off at a bar
and chat up a few of the locals, too. That's always a good way to get
the lay of the land."
Mena and Xander both began arguing about it being their duty to protect
him, and that he shouldn't go anywhere by himself and kept it up until
Spike couldn't stand to hear another word.
"Enough!" he shouted. "Bloody hell! I may have given in
to Buffy and accepted the two of you as temporary back-up, but
I'm going to go bloody sack of hammers if I have the two of you on my
bloody heels every sodding minute of every sodding day. I'm not in any
immediate danger, am I? I can bloody well take care of myself long enough
to buy some blood at the butcher's and get a bloody drink at a bloody
bar. If I see another bloody demon horde coming at me, I'll come running
back for the two of you. But until then, leave my bloody arse alone!"
Mena was shocked into silence at Spike's outburst, but Xander took it
all in stride. He handed his cell phone and a room keycard to Spike, quietly
saying, "If you need help, hit number one on the speed dial. That'll
ring Mena's cell phone, and we'll come running. If not, we'll probably
sleep through till morning."
Spike tucked the items into his jacket pocket and looked over at Mena.
"I get loud and angry sometimes, Mena. Probably should have waited
till at least the second day I knew you before revealing my nasty temper.
Better get used to it. I'm a rude vampire."
"Truer words were never spoken," agreed Xander.
Mena looked into Spike's apologetic eyes and decided to give him a break.
"I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "bloody" that
many times in so few sentences," she laughed. "You may have
beaten the bloody record."
Spike laughed at her little joke and appreciated her easy-going forgiveness.
"Hope you both get a good night's rest. Since you usually sleep more
like the dead than I do, Harris, I probably won't wake you when I come
back, but I'll make a token effort to be quiet just the same. Haya, Mena,"
he said as he headed for the door.
"You have a good memory, Spike. I'll have you speaking Swahili in
no time," said Mena. "Haya does mean goodbye, but twesha means
goodnight. So twesha, Spike."
"Twesha, Mena". With that, Spike shut the hotel door quietly
behind him and breathed a sigh of freedom. After a few hours of non-stop
companionship, a little alone time was definitely needed.
He hurried out to the Viper and pulled out of the parking garage, heading
toward the business area of town. After so many years with Drusilla, Spike
had come to enjoy spending some time alone. Whenever he wanted a little
bit of companionship in Sunnydale, he just headed for Willy's bar or went
looking for Buffy. She, Dawn and Joyce had been the only humans who ever
welcomed his company.
No, that wasn't exactly fair. Demon girl and Glinda would usually chat
amiably enough with him, for at least short lengths of time. Of course,
Anya and Tara were now among the dead. Just like sweet Fred and the rest
of his L.A. friends. Friends? Yes, to be truthful, that is how he had
begun to think of them. But the former Sunnydale Scoobies couldn't exactly
be called friends, could they?
Well, Andrew probably considered himself to be a friend, and he had gotten
to the point where he wasn't constantly aggravating. And Willow
would sometimes share a laugh and exchange ideas. Even Rupert and Harris
would occasionally treat him with respect and share some conversation,
despite their oft-spoken desire for his demise. Maybe now that they knew
he'd sacrificed himself in the Hellmouth to save them, they'd be willing
to let bygones be bygones. Maybe they could finally trust him.
He supposed that if that were to be the case, he could probably do the
same. It might be nice to have some more friends in the world. He'd recently
added Connor, Colin and Anne into that category, hadn't he? But still,
no matter how many friends you have, it's necessary to spend a little
time by yourself with your thoughts now and then.
Spike had been driving around town for quite some time now, searching
for a butcher shop that was open in the evening. When he found one, it
was a very tiny shop, but the light was on, and the sign on the door said
'Come In'. There was another, much larger sign (well, actually a poster)
in the shop window promoting the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
"Well, here I go," he said quietly as he got out of the car.
As Spike walked inside the shop, he saw a woman with a small child standing
at the counter, ordering several slabs of meat. In the corner of the shop
stood a girl with long, brown braids who appeared to be in her early twenties.
To the casual observer, she would seem to be just a local coed from a
nearby university; however, Spike could tell right away that she was a
Spike wondered if she might be one of the vampires that Xander had talked
about in the diner. Although he was quite sure that some vampires could
manage to co-exist with humans if it benefitted them in some way, he really
wondered how many, if any, would ever really choose such a lifestyle on
their own. The craving of human blood, the thirst, the desire to kill,
to destroy---that is what a vampire lives and breathes, or well, not lives
and breathes so much as thrives on.
The girl seemed harmless enough. She didn't appear to be planning to
attack anyone in the shop, but the strange look she kept giving him made
him a bit nervous and slightly wary.
"So, you're a vampire, and you have a soul. That's interesting,"
the girl said in a curious voice from across the room.
The humans in the shop turned toward Spike, looked at him, smiled, but
didn't say anything. The woman gathered her order, took her son by the
hand and headed toward the door. She didn't seem at all threatened or
surprised by the casual use of the term vampire. No one seemed afraid
"Three gallons of pigs' blood," the girl told the butcher as
she crossed the shop and moved near Spike.
"And you?" the butcher asked, his eyes focused on Spike. Spike
paid no attention to the butcher's question; he was still floored that
the girl talked about vampires so openly in public.
"You know, it's generally considered polite to answer questions,"
the girl said over her shoulder to Spike as she moved up closer to the
"Oh, right. Sorry. I just...need a couple of quarts of pigs' blood,"
he said quickly to the butcher, who smiled, nodded and went to the back
to get their orders.
"I'm Tori," the other vampire said, extending her hand to Spike.
"Spike," he said, politely shaking her hand. "So, Tori,
tell me, do you generally talk about vampires in front of humans?"
Tori looked at Spike seriously, "You mean that isn't normal?
I thought all humans knew about vampires." She managed to
keep a straight face for a few seconds before breaking into laughter.
"Don't worry. It's normal for Gilroy. I guess you could say that
we live in a rather unique community, where non-violent vampires and demons
live in peace with humans. Some people might consider us a throwback to
the hippie culture---you know, peaceniks and such---but all I know is,
the arrangement works well for us."
Spike nodded and smiled, "I see...so you're a vampire who doesn't
kill? I mean, I assume you don't kill. This town has plenty of people,
so if you preferred warm, human blood fresh from the source, you wouldn't
be here buying pigs' blood from a butcher, yeah?" Spike tried to
hide his doubt and the hesitation in his voice, but it was clear that
he was still not sure of this girl.
"Nope. No drinking of human blood and definitely no killing."
"You trying to tell me you have no bloodlust at all?" Spike
"The bloodlust is still there, but it's very faint in the vampires
here in Gilroy," she explained. "More like an occasional, mild
craving. None of us have any desire to kill."
"Why's that, then? Most vampires I've known get off on the rush."
Tori smiled, "Not exactly sure what makes us different, but I'm
glad I'm not like the typical vampire. Maybe it's partly due to my nature
when I was human. That and my environment when I was growing up. My dad
was a minister, and my mom was a peace activist. They met in Nicaraugua
where he was volunteering with the Red Cross, and she was working with
Amnesty International. So, as you might imagine, I was raised in an environment
where peace, love and brotherhood were a bit more than just words. While
my brother and I were growing up, our whole family spent summers building
homes with Habitat for Humanity. I was always very much into that mindset,
that way of living my life."
"And then you met a vampire," nodded Spike.
"Right. Outside a bar where I was celebrating my upcoming college
graduation. It really kind of threw me, getting turned at 22, but I guess
the whole non-violence thing somehow stayed with me. I mean, my sire killed
people and then fed me, thinking that I'd eventually realize what my vampiric
life was supposed to be about.
"I'd thirst for blood, of course; no way to get around that. But
I didn't like to see him kill and never could bring myself to do it. I
could tell that he was getting really angry with me, so I took off. I
stole blood from blood banks and hospitals to survive, and then luckily
for me, I ran into Elias and Ruth. They took me under their wing, showed
me I could buy blood from butchers and brought me to Gilroy with them."
The butcher came back with their orders, and the two vampires paid him.
He smiled at Tori as he said, "Be sure to tell Elias to come over
sometime soon for another game of chess. Tell him I'm ready for him this
time; I've been practicing."
Tori smiled back at the butcher. "He'll be glad for the chance to
play with you again, Mr. Braun. He's getting fed up with my lack of skill,
and Ruth refuses to play with him anymore because he gloats for days whenever
"He does like to win, all right. Night, Tori. It's about time I
close up for the night."
"Night, Mr. Braun. See you at the Festival if not before."
Tori and Spike headed out the door, and the butcher locked it behind them.
"How did you know that I have a soul, Tori? You figured it out as
soon as I came inside. Most vampires never even imagine that having a
soul is possible, so it usually takes quite a while for them to figure
out that's what's different about me."
"Even as a human, I was usually able to see the auras around people.
Once I became a vampire, I found that aspect of myself was enhanced. It
can be very useful to be able to recognize someone's character, to size
them up rather quickly, although people can still surprise me now and
then. Now you, you have a very shiny soul, Spike. Almost blinding if I
look straight at you for very long."
Tori led Spike down the street to a bus stop, sat down on the bench and
patted the spot next to her.
Spike joined her on the bench. "I had a demon friend in L.A. who
could read people if they sang for him," he said. "You two would
probably hit it off really well."
"You're from L.A.? We've heard that there was a vampire with a soul
there, helping people. Was that you?"
"Well, only for this past year, pet. The only other vampire with
a soul that I've ever known, Angel, was the one you've probably heard
about. He helped the helpless in L.A. for the last five years. I was in
Sunnydale till last year."
Tori gasped. "Now I know why your soul is so bright. You're
the vampire who closed the Hellmouth, aren't you? But word on the demon
grapevine is that you were dusted when the town collapsed. They say there's
nothing there now but a giant crater."
Spike hesitated, then looked questioningly at Tori. "Don't usually
talk so freely with someone I've just met. Something about you makes me
feel abnormally willing to share. Doesn't feel like thrall."
Tori laughed. "No thrall, Spike. I swear."
"What is it then? You a witch?"
"Not a witch, either, I assure you. People have always told me they
feel comfortable talking with me, though."
"You remind me of Glinda, I mean, Tara, a witch I used to know.
It was always easy to talk with her, too."
"Glinda, the good witch of the North?"
"Yeah, I tend to give people nicknames. Tara was a sweet girl. She
used to live in Sunnydale, too."
"Which brings us back to the giant crater."
"Right," Spike sighed. "Okay, I'll share, seeing as how
you shared a bit about your life with me. I closed the Hellmouth, all
right. Not exactly sure what magic was used to bring me back into this
world, but the next thing I knew, I was in L.A. with Angel and his crew.
There was a huge battle there a few nights ago; I'm the only one left
"Oh, my God. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm very happy you're
here in Gilroy. You've earned some peace, and this is definitely the place
where you can have it. I'm sure the others will welcome you into our community."
"That's the thing, Tori. I'm here with a Slayer and her Watcher
to check out this peaceful co-existence thing you've got going on here.
You've heard of them, haven't you? The Watchers' Council and their Slayers?"
When she nodded, Spike continued. "Well, the Council heard some
rumors about Gilroy and wanted to be sure there wasn't a Master Vampire
here who somehow put the entire population under a thrall in order to
feed off them."
Tori burst into raucous laughter. "That couldn't be farther from
"Well, pet, I'm inclined to believe you, but we have to convince
the Slayer and Watcher, too. If we can send back a positive report, the
Council won't determine that this town needs to be 'de-vampired', if you
catch my meaning."
"Tell you what, Spike. I'll explain to Elias and Ruth. They can
probably get a meeting set up with a few of our leading vampires, demons
and townspeople---the mayor, the Police Chief, maybe a town council member
or two. Will that suffice, do you think?"
"Sounds good to me, pet. Could this be set up by tomorrow night?"
"Sure. Everyone will be in town, anyway, for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
It opens tomorrow night and then runs for the whole weekend. Speaking
of garlic, how come you're not affected by all the garlic aroma in the
air? We have to make an effort to keep our tolerance level up in order
to live here."
"It's impossible to not be aware of the garlic, but I've eaten pizza,
spicy wings and other garlic-laden food for years. Guess I've built up
my own tolerance for it," replied Spike. "So even the heavy
aroma here in Gilroy isn't affecting me."
"Maybe not yet, but wait till tomorrow night. They've already started
putting up the booths and will finish by late afternoon tomorrow because
the festivities begin at 6:00 PM. We usually use two tons of very fresh
garlic in all the foods sold at the booths. You won't believe how heavy
the fragrance will be. Doc Morton can fix you up at the meeting tomorrow,
so I'll make sure that he's included."
"Don't know that I'll let any doctor near enough to 'fix me up'
as you say, but I'll hear him out. Just tell me where and when."
"You don't have to worry about Doc Morton; he's a great guy. I'll
come, too, so you'll know he can be trusted. How about 4:00 PM at City
Hall? There's an undergound parking garage, so you won't have to worry
about the sun there, as long as you can get to City Hall. I assume you
have a vehicle that offers you protection from the sun?"
"Don't worry about me, pet. I can get there. See you tomorrow at
4:00 PM. I'll make sure the Slayer knows we're under a flag of truce.
As long as everything is on the up and up, no vampires or demons need
fear for their lives from us."
"See you tomorrow, Spike. Elias and Ruth will be very happy to meet
you. I'm sure the others will as well."
"Bye, pet." Spike watched Tori load her gallons of blood into
a car and drive off. He removed the lid from one of his quart containers
and drank it down, despite it being much too cool for his tastes. He tossed
the empty container into a nearby trashcan and carried the other one to
the Viper. Now to find a likely looking bar.
As they waited at City Hall for the representatives from the vampire,
demon and human populations to arrive, Spike found himself wondering just
what might come of this exercise. Despite some earlier misgivings, he
felt that this meeting indicated a sincere willingness on the part of
the townspeople and their demon residents to share their grand experiment
After all, it was in their best interest to cooperate with the COW and
answer whatever questions they might have. With reports of 'rumblings'
concerning a resurgence of demonic activity since the closing of the Hellmouth,
staying on the good side of the Council and their Slayers was probably
a wise tactic for Gilroy.
Earlier that day, Spike had related to Xander and Mena his experience
at the butcher shop and then explained how later that night, he witnessed
the same behavior at one of the local bars. Humans, vampires and demons
were all playing pool, drinking beer and hanging out together with no
apprehension or animosity whatsoever. They had even invited him to join
in a few rounds of billiards, which he readily accepted.
Even after winning several games in a row, Spike witnessed no angry reactions,
just a little good-natured grumbling about his apparent expertise. Nothing
in their conversations or actions had made him feel the least bit uneasy.
Truth be told, he'd felt right welcome! And no one seemed to be under
the control of anyone else.
But as he'd expected, Xander and Mena remained harder to convince. Xander
had worn his perpetual skeptic's face, insisting that it could still be
some kind of thrall. Though he was too proud to bring it up, he had never
forgotten how completely Dracula had mesmerized him, making him say and
do such uncharacteristic things. Oh, yes, Xander had personal knowledge
that thralls were tricky business.
Mena had insisted on sharpening a few extra stakes and packing Holy Water,
just in case things got 'interesting'. She had, however, agreed to approach
everything with an open mind and planned on taking thorough notes on the
proceedings for future reference. Xander had then demanded videotaping
and sworn affidavits from all the attendees to be submitted to the COW
for their review.
Spike had argued that this was a bit of overkill. Yet, considering the
Council's pessimistic and suspicious attitude toward anything their esteemed
resources could not rationally explain, it hadn't really surprised him.
Giles already found it hard to acknowledge Spike's 'good vamp' status,
let alone to believe that other vamps and demons might actually seek out
a peaceful existence.
Unfortunately, even the 'new and improved' Watchers' Council still preferred
to view life in black and white. Shades of gray simply didn't sit well
with them. It was just too difficult a color to see clearly and certainly
made their jobs more difficult and their decisions harder to make. Spike
found himself wishing more humans could be as open-minded and tolerant
as these 'Gilroids', as Xander liked to call them.
Looking around the hall, Spike counted about twenty vampires present,
including Tori and her guardians, Ruth and Elias, whom he had met earlier.
Tori had eagerly introduced them to Spike as soon as they had arrived.
The kindly couple had seemed very pleased to meet him.
Since this meeting was supposed to concentrate on the Gilroy vampires,
Spike was surprised that so many demons chose to attend as well. He recognized
the clans as those that were peaceful by nature, but what impressed him
was the easy way they all got along together, as well as with the vampires,
despite historical blood feuds between the clans.
Several of the vampires and demons had heard of Spike and wanted to meet
him. They knew he had teamed with the Slayer and had been involved in
closing the Hellmouth. Since everyone believed he died in that effort,
they were astonished by his resurrection. Those, like Tori, who could
sense his soul, seemed in genuine awe of him.
Spike pondered how strange it was that so many demons sensed his soul
and were impressed by it. Most humans never even noticed it let alone
gave a bloody damn as to why he bothered to get it back. That could be
because humans take their own souls for granted. If they knew how easy
it was to lose one's soul, they might not be so cavalier about it.
Spike was flattered that the 'Gilroids' regarded him so highly, but in
truth, he was pretty impressed with them. His love for Buffy had
helped motivate him to change his life and become a better man, and then
to regain his soul to anchor his new perspective, but these demons and
vampires had no Slayer or souls or even computer chips to influence them.
They simply chose to live a better life and then did it. Spike
found that very remarkable.
What Spike didn't understand was that the 'Gilroids' considered him to
be the more remarkable vampire because he had to struggle to overcome
an inner demon that enjoyed the rush of killing and blood drinking. The
'Gilroid' vampires' demons simply weren't that much into the whole vampire
"thing", so they were easier to subdue. Spike, on the other
hand, loved being a vampire, yet somehow managed to rise above it. That's
why the 'Gilroids' thought Spike was admirable.
Antonio Mendez, the mayor of Gilroy, stood up and addressed the crowd.
"I want to thank all my good friends and neighbors for attending
this meeting and taking time off from busy preparations for the Garlic
Festival. On behalf of the town of Gilroy, I wish to welcome our distinguished
guests from the Council of Watchers and their heroic vampire teammate."
There was a hearty round of applause from the crowd, which threw Spike,
Xander and Mena off for a moment. Spike was a bit embarrassed by so much
attention, but summoned his age-old Master Vampire bravado, smiled at
the crowd and nodded his thanks. Xander rolled his eyes at that, but Mena
beamed at Spike proudly.
"I want to assure you," Mayor Mendez continued, "that
we are open to any questions the Council may have, and we hope we can
provide you with all the answers you seek. We respect the Watchers, the
diligence of the Slayers and all who stand with them. We work very hard
to make this town a haven for peaceful coexistence between humans and
demons and have adopted a basic code of non-violence.
"Of course, sometimes force is needed in the interest of our own
self-preservation, but we always endeavor to keep it non-lethal. I admit
we have been somewhat secretive but only out of necessity. Maintaining
the safety of all our residents and respecting their privacy is of great
importance. So, what is it about us that troubles the Watchers' Council?"
Xander wasn't a public speaker, and he really hadn't anticipated attending
a meeting chock too full of demons and vampires for his personal taste,
but he maintained his composure and cut right to the chase.
"Actually, Mr. Mayor, the Council isn't convinced that a true 'peaceful
co-existence' between humans and demons is going on here. There is no
historical evidence that this type of arrangement has ever existed at
any time anywhere else. Some Council members suspect that the Gilroy vampire
community is using some type of mind control or thrall, keeping the townspeople
hostage as a constant blood supply---you know, a kind of vampire version
of The Stepford Wives."
Xander's speech was met with mild jeers from some of the crowd and disappointed
murmuring from others. All in all, it made him a little nervous. Mena
and Spike didn't feel too comfortable either.
"Way to go, Harris!" Spike snorted. "Tons of tact there.
Very effective for getting the natives even more restless. Maybe you could
say something now that will get us ridden out of town on a rail? That's
"Thanks so much for all your help and encouragement. I know I'm
no motivational speaker. Think you could do any better, Mr. silver-tongued
smooth-talker?" Xander whispered quietly.
"Bloody right, I could! But I don't do 'Council-speak', remember?"
Spike just sat there with his arms crossed, staring up at Xander. "Besides,
Rupert would never sanction a word I'd say."
Realizing he would be receiving no assistance from Spike, Xander started
to back pedal, but then the mayor bailed him out---kind of.
"Mr. Harris, I can understand why the Council might be suspicious
of our arrangement here, but I assure you, everyone in this town lives
in harmony by his or her own choice. No one is lured here or forced to
remain against their will. What surprises me, though, is your own attitude.
You have a vampire on your team, sitting right beside you. He fought with
The Slayer against the forces of evil. He coexists peacefully with you,
so why do you doubt that it is possible for other vampires and demons
to behave as he does?"
"Uh---Okay, I admit you've got me there, but Spike is, well, unique
in the vampire world. He wasn't always Saint Spike, though. In fact, he
used to be William the Bloody, the Big Bad, the Scourge of Europe. But
then with the chip, falling for Buffy and the whole soul thing, I guess
you could say, he changed. Right? Spike, just jump in anytime here---Spike?"
Click on image to view a larger version
Spike continued to just sit there, shaking his head at Xander's
"Come on, Spike," whispered Mena urgently. "Xander clearly
needs your help. We're supposed to be a team, right? Say something."
Reluctantly, Spike stood up to address the crowd, and a relieved Xander
gratefully sat down.
"First off, let me make it perfectly clear that I do not necessarily
share the opinions of my um---colleague here, and I apologize if he seems
to be reading directly from the Watchers' Handbook. In all honesty, a
situation like you have in this town is so rare as to never have been
heard of before. Watchers are, regrettably, more familiar with violent,
rather than non-violent demons or vampires, making their opinions right
prejudiced in that direction. Trust me, this I know from experience.
"I also admit that outside forces influenced me to change my ways
and seek a better life. As he said, I did, indeed, begin as a vicious
killer, a typical vampire. And since Harris was so bloody open about my
past, I reckon I may as well come clean with you. That's what this meeting
is all about, right? If we expect you to be completely honest and forthcoming
about your lives, seems only fair that at least one of us does the same.
May as well be me. His life is right boring, and the Slayer here hasn't
been alive long enough to have much to tell.
"Harris mentioned a chip. Although it has since been removed, a
government agency did implant a computer chip in my brain. Prevented me
from hurting humans. But that chip also inspired me to find a way to exist
in their world." Spike looked down for a moment and shook his head.
"Listening to myself right now---sounds like I'm at a bloody Vampires
Anonymous meeting. Or like some poncey character on a crappy soap opera,
spilling my guts to the audience in a badly-written monologue."
At the friendly, light laughter from the crowd, Spike smiled, lifted
his head and continued.
"So anyway, Buffy, the Slayer who guarded the Sunnydale Hellmouth
for seven years, motivated me to become a better man and ultimately, to
fight to regain my soul. The soul, well, aside from burdening me with
much-deserved guilt, the soul gave me the determination I needed to stick
to my guns and control my demon. I started longing for something better
in my life, some purpose to make my existence worthwhile. Working with
the Slayers seems right for me.
"Now let's turn our attention to Gilroy. You must agree it's fair
to say that non-violent demons are not the norm, but I have met some,
and I know it's possible to live peacefully if you really want it badly
enough. Do I believe that there are non-violent demons who can simply
make this choice on their own? Yeah, I do, despite what members of the
Council may think; but they are the ones who need convincing, and
hopefully, that's what we can accomplish here today."
With that, Spike nodded his head to indicate that he was done and sat
"Yeah, that was helpful, pal," Xander glared at Spike. "Would
it've killed you to have actually backed me up a bit? Without so clearly
proclaiming yourself as Mr. Sensitive right-thinking guy, like...like
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington or...or Atticus Finch and us Watchers as
the bull-headed reactionaries?"
"Hey, if the bull-head fits! What do you want? The natives put their
spears down for the time being, didn't they?" Spike growled back.
"And I would back you up if I thought you were right."
"Knock it off, you guys," Mena quietly implored.
Mayor Mendez broke the tension. "I admit I, too, was skeptical at
first. However, I can assure you that I now consider all the citizens
in this town, human and demon, as friends. In fact, I owe my life to one
of the vampire leaders here tonight. Perhaps the best way to convince
you is for you to hear it from them. Hopefully, their words will set your
mind at ease, and you'll see their behavior is sincere."
Xander looked at Spike, who nodded, and then back to the mayor. "Fair
enough," he said, "I admit I'm no expert in this department.
The only real, on-going, 'up close and personal' experience I've had with
any vamps or demons have either been with Spike here or my ex-Vengeance
Spike raised his eyebrow and gave Xander a quizzical look but remained
silent. He didn't even want to guess what Harris hoped to gain by that
Someone in the crowd started to laugh and asked Xander if he really had
dated a Vengeance Demon.
"Yes, sir, I did," Xander replied. "And I learned a lot
The man related that he, too, had dated one but feared for his life every
time he made her angry. He also concluded that Xander must be a very brave
man, indeed. This brought easy laughter back to the crowd, even though
the memory was tinged with sadness for Xander. Spike noticed this and
tried to cheer him up.
"Looks like you've got them eating out of your hand now, Harris.
Keep it up."
"Yeah," Xander smiled, "maybe they'll want me to do an
"Good," said Mendez, "let's get down to business then
and let you meet some of our finest citizens, starting with our vampire
leader and one of my best friends, Jackson Garret."
With occasional comments thrown in by both the mayor and the police chief,
the Gilroy vampire shared his tale. Jackson Garret was a big, burly vampire
in his early forties. Born into a typical Mid-western family, Garret had
been a good athlete and a hard working young man. When drafted, he was
proud to serve his country in Viet Nam, but never believed in the war.
He felt it was poorly planned and ended up being a tragic waste of life
on all sides. And he saw more evidence of man's inhumanity to man than
he could handle.
After the war ended, he returned home to a country that seemed to have
forgotten its veterans and their sacrifices. He drifted aimlessly from
job to job, searching for new meaning in his life, but he was haunted
by the horrors of war and all the senseless death. His personal relationships
with family and friends suffered, and he became more and more depressed
and withdrawn. Turning to the bottle and gambling for solace, he soon
lost everything he owned. Homeless and destitute, he even contemplated
"Then one night," Garret explained, "my life changed forever.
In an alley behind a bar, I was attacked by a gang of vampires and inducted
into the ranks of the undead. At first, I did as my sire instructed, in
order to survive, but I couldn't bring himself to actually kill my victims.
Killing brought back nightmares of the war and amplified the horror and
guilt I already felt, so I left my early victims bleeding and unconscious
rather than dead. Ultimately, this vampiric war on humans was one I just
could not bring himself to wage.
"Ashamed of what I'd become, I struck out on my own, living off
the blood of animals, keeping myself in isolation and vowing never to
feed on humans again. After many years of wandering, I thought I could
more easily live in the remote parts of the Northwest and headed across
In northern California, while passing through a quiet town called Gilroy,
I witnessed a brutal car-jacking and beating in progress on a deserted
stretch of highway. Without thinking, I rushed to aid the victim. That
man was Antonio Mendez, our mayor."
Mendez chimed in. "As Garret fought my attackers, he morphed into
his vampire face. The thugs stopped in their tracks and ran off in fear.
And although I was shaking in my boots, I was, of course, very grateful
that he had saved my life."
Garret took up the tale again. "After a lengthy discussion, during
which I spilled my entire life story, the mayor offered me refuge in Gilroy,
giving me a job, safe shelter, and an ample supply of animal blood to
keep me fed. As time went on, we grew to trust one another and became
Brian Davidson, the police chief, stood up. "I just want to say
that Jackson Garret's work for the Gilroy police force has been exemplary
and very impressive. He certainly keeps the criminals at bay, and there
have been no fatalities among the police force nor our prisoners since
he's been on the job."
"Thank you, Chief Davidson," said Garret. "Eventually,
Mayor Mendez and I told the townspeople the truth about me. I guess since
I'd been living among them for so long, even the most dubious residents
were won over after their initial fears were allayed. They accepted me
and made me feel welcome and useful again.
"A few years later, I proposed an idea about making Gilroy a haven
for any vampire or demon who would swear to live in peace with the human
population. There was some understandable trepidation among the populace,
but I promised that potential demon residents would be thoroughly screened.
"I explained there were some demon clans that were peaceful by their
very nature, and due to that, they often lived in fear of other demons.
Gilroy could become a true sanctuary for those who were persecuted and
mistreated as well as for those who truly desired to live in peace. That
concept appealed to many of Gilroy's citizens.
"For those residents who were still on the fence, I emphasized how
useful the demons could be since many actually enjoy jobs that humans
find boring or distasteful. Some could safely and easily handle jobs that
are precarious for humans. It really could be a win-win situation, as
long as the humans could promise to not treat the demons as some sort
of second-class citizens. A vote was taken which easily passed; only a
few families chose to move away.
"Then I started an 'underground railroad' of sorts to recruit or
rescue this minority faction of the demon world, and over the years, Gilroy's
small non-human population grew. The town welcomed peaceful vampires and
demons as long as they swore an oath of non-violence and became productive
members of society. Most of the demons could hold any type of job, but
Graganta demons proved fantastic as firefighters. Their breathing is not
at all affected by smoke or fumes, they have excellent vision even in
the dark or smoke-filled air, and their skin resists burning. The human
firefighters heartily welcomed them into their midst.
"The vampires were hired almost exclusively as security guards,
night watchmen, or elite teams for the Police Force. With their sheer
strength and ability to intimidate would-be offenders, the crime rate
in Gilroy plummeted. The humans soon came to respect the demon residents
and made sure they had everything they needed to survive. They even went
so far as to hold blood drives to insure that an emergency supply of human
blood would be always available for any injured vampires to speed their
"All in all, this symbiotic relationship has worked very well for
all the citizens of Gilroy." Jackson Garret paused his narrative
for a moment, and Spike took an opportunity to look at his partners. Both
seemed to be listening intently to the vampire's story, and Mena's notes
were filling page after page in her notebook.
Garret then continued, saying, "But there was a bit of trouble in
"Aha, I knew it," Xander whispered to Spike and Mena. "The
truth always comes out!"
"It's not what you think, Harris," Spike warned.
Garret finished his sentence, "It had to do with garlic."
"Garlic? That's the trouble? Damn, I thought it was something exciting.
Something worthy of The X-Files, maybe," Xander mumbled with disappointment
as Spike glared at him.
Garret explained, "Gilroy's claim to fame is its extraordinarily
potent garlic crop. That, in itself, poses a very irritating problem for
vampires, especially fledglings. Over time, it's possible for vampires
to develop immunity to garlic, but it requires regular ingestion of garlic-laden
foods for many years. Most vampires, however, prefer to consume only blood
and can't handle more than a minute amount of garlic added to their blood
supply. Living in a town full of garlic is, to say the least, an allergic
nightmare for them.
"On the other hand, the garlic also serves to discourage any 'bad
elements' from taking up residence in Gilroy, thus helping to keep our
refuge so unexpected as to be relatively unknown. There had to be a solution
that'd make life in Gilroy more comfortable for vampires, especially at
harvest time and during the Garlic Festival, when the town is overwhelmed
by the garlic aroma."
Garret turned the floor over to Dr. Tom Morton, who had devised the way
to help the Gilroy vamps. He was very enthusiastic about his remedy and
was excited to be given an opportunity to give the details to the three
visitors from the Watchers' Council.
"Although it's true that some degree of immunity can be achieved
by eating garlic, it varies with the individual and takes many years to
develop," the doctor explained. "With fields full of garlic
plants and the pungent aroma in the air, the vampires' allergies can become
overwhelming. Though the reaction is not life threatening, it's definitely
annoying, ranging from watery eyes and a sore throat to severe itching
and painful headaches.
"I decided to immunize the vampires with a series of garlic vaccines,"
Doc Morton enthused. "I varied the strength of the doses to help
boost the immunity process. Garlic in the bloodstream, even if it's filled
with borrowed blood, causes vamps to develop their own antibodies. The
shots, combined with regular, voluntary ingestion of garlic, make life
far more bearable for them.
"I was also able to devise a 'fail safe' type weapon that can be
used in the rare event that any vampires, whether they are residents or
outsiders, should become violent. With a super concentration of the extract,
the serum strength actually causes temporary paralysis. This 'super concentrate'
can be administered by tranquilizer darts and has become standard issue
for our Police force. The 'super concentrate' can also be dispensed as
a repellant, similar to mace or pepper spray, which provides a handy defensive
weapon that all of Gilroy's citizens can easily employ.
"In a gesture of good faith and trust, the vampires and humans agreed
that the garlic serum would be used to help the vamps live comfortably
in Gilroy, but it would also be used to subdue them if needed."
Doc Morton was surprised but also very pleased to see Mena extend her
hand in the air in hopes of asking a question. When he acknowledged her,
she stood up to make her inquiry.
"Do you think you might be able to reproduce the paralysis-invoking
serum in large enough quantities to arm all of our Slayers and Watchers?
Or, if not, would you be willing to share the process so that we might
produce our own? I think the Council would be very happy to pay a reasonable
fee for something that could prove to be so useful to us." With that,
Mena took her seat once more.
Doc Morton beamed at her as he assured them that he would be happy to
assist the Council. He pulled out business cards and handed them to Spike,
Xander and Mena, saying, "the production could become a new, albeit
small, industry which would create more jobs for Gilroy's citizens."
That statement elicited a smattering of applause among those in the room.
As the doctor took his seat, he extended an open invitation to Spike
to receive the immunity vaccine. Spike thanked him but politely declined.
"Been eating garlic for more years than all the vampires in Gilroy
combined," Spike assured him. "I wager I can handle it, at least
for the few days we'll be in town."
Mayor Mendez then invited other attendees to give their testimony. Many
of their stories were remarkable, like that of Tori's 'adoptive parents'.
Elias and Ruth Stoltzfus were a middle-aged Amish couple from central
Pennsylvania. On a trip to Ohio to visit Elias's brother, weather delays
had left them stranded at the train station in Cincinnati, far from their
destination. Later that night, in the nearly deserted depot, they fell
victim to three vampires who decided it would be great fun to turn the
sincerely pious couple into cold-blooded killers. They had no idea that
the depth of Elias and Ruth's commitment to live a good and simple life
would be strong enough, even as vampires, to overcome their newly-acquired
"Despite our sires' threats of abuse and abandonment," Elias
said, "Ruth and I refused to kill to survive. Horrified by the abomination
we had become, we planned to greet the next sunrise. Disgusted by our
'weakness' and eager to be rid of us, one of the vampires explained how
to survive on the blood of animals. She also said she had heard rumors
of a place where we might find refuge, if we could manage to survive long
enough to get there. All she knew was that it was somewhere in California."
Calling upon their strong moral and religious convictions, Elias and
Ruth decided to try and find this 'sanctuary' rather than commit the sin
of suicide. Cast out and ridiculed by their sires and other vampires they
met on their journey, they struggled to survive.
"Along the way, we vainly sought out other like-minded demons and
vampires," Ruth continued their tale. "Despairing that we may
be two of only a very few such demons in existence, we finally met Tori.
She, too, had refused to live a life of wanton killing and had fled the
wrath of her sire. We were so happy to take this sweet, lonely girl under
our wing. And together, we continued our journey to find Gilroy."
"We've been residents for almost three years, and have all found
a new lease on life," said Elias. "I'm a carpenter, so among
other things, I make the giant wooden vats for the garlic presses. Ruth's
a fine seamstress and indulges her love of children by tutoring many of
the town's young ones. Tori works part-time on the night shift in the
local hospital and often helps out Doc Morton in his clinic."
"And we're very grateful for the town of Gilroy," added Ruth.
"We're as happy here as peas in a pod or pigs in a wallow."
Smiling, they took their seats once more.
Another young vampire, Trevor Langford, stood up to speak. The son of
a wealthy oilman, Trevor had not shared his father's aspirations for a
future in the oil business. Instead, he majored in botany at the University
of Oregon and became a staunch environmentalist. Considering himself a
throwback to the 'hippies' of the 1960's, he gave up his life of privilege
and moved into a remote commune with some of his friends from college.
There he felt he could live his life in harmony with nature and at peace
with his fellow man.
"But our commune and its peaceful residents made a perfect target
for a pair of ruthless vampires," sighed Trevor. "Most of my
friends were brutally killed, but two young girls and I were turned. The
girls had been very sweet, caring friends, but they changed dramatically.
Thrilled with their newfound power, they became nearly as violent as our
sires. But I absolutely hated what I'd become and refused to cooperate
with their demands for me to kill. Frustrated and bored with me, the others
simply moved on to more interesting playgrounds.
"For several years, I lived like a hermit," Trevor said, "honing
my survival skills and venturing into towns only for meager supplies.
Eventually, I met a friendly demon clan who were surprised that I was,
in their words, 'such a congenial vampire'. They told me about a town
they'd heard of from 'underground intelligence' sources and invited me
to accompany them on their way there. I didn't put much faith in these
rumors but decided to find out for myself. When we arrived in Gilroy,
we were amazed to find ourselves welcomed and not treated at all like
Trevor had been in Gilroy for two years now. He used his skills as a
botanist and environmentalist to help perfect the garlic crop and increase
the town's revenues. In his spare time, he pursued his passion for roses
and exotic lilies. Trevor grew them in a special greenhouse with 'vampire'
friendly light, and sold them to the local florist.
Most of the other vampires' stories were somewhat similar, but it soon
became clear that there was a prevailing theme common to all of them.
Nearly every vampire in Gilroy had been raised as a human with high moral
and ethical convictions or had developed them on their own before they
were turned. They all had high regard for mankind and deplored senseless
suffering and death. A high level of their humanity lingered in them even
after the demon parasite took up residence in their bodies, and their
demons proved willing to integrate rather than dominate. Lastly, their
sires had abandoned them or they had run off, escaping the subjugation
of a powerful sire who might have forced them to kill or be killed.
They were trapped between two worlds, unable to live again as true humans
but unwilling to live as wanton killers. Their humanity became strong
enough to control the vampiric nature and bloodlust, enabling them to
find a way to live a peaceful existence without taking human life. Each
vampire at the meeting took pains to make it very clear to the COW team
that they were definitely a minority within the entire vampire population
and that almost every vampire they'd ever met was a ruthless killer. They
considered themselves lucky to have avoided becoming something they found
Spike, Xander and Mena had listened intently to all the testimonies.
Spike could certainly relate to the 'Gilroid' vamps and their dilemmas.
After all, he knew firsthand how difficult it was to live when you 'couldn't
be a monster and couldn't be a man.'
By the end of the meeting, Xander and Mena had to admit they were impressed
by the courage these vampires and demons had shown in order to choose
this way of life. Xander even found himself wondering why it had always
been so hard for him to appreciate Spike's courage for doing the same
thing. He promised the citizens of Gilroy that he would make a thorough
report to the Watchers' Council.
"I can't predict with absolute certainty how the Council will react,"
Xander said, "but I assure you that I, personally, take your testimony
in good faith. And I will make that perfectly clear to the head honcho,
er, the Head Watcher, himself."
As the meeting adjourned, the mayor and many of the other attendees urged
them to attend the Garlic Festival that would officially begin in less
than an hour. Garret explained that some of the Festival events and booths
were under tents or large awnings, making it possible for vampires to
attend even before sunset. It would be a night of good food, good friends,
great entertainment and fun. They could witness for themselves all the
residents of Gilroy existing in perfect harmony with one another.
Mena was excited about attending. "Please, let's go! The posters
are advertising local California rock bands. It'd be so cool to check
them out, at least for a couple hours. Please?"
"Sounds good to me," responded Spike. "Especially if I
can eat some even spicier 'suicide' wings and cold beer, of course. You
bloody well better serve some kind of alcohol, or it doesn't deserve to
be called a Festival!"
"No hard liquor, but plenty of beer and wine," laughed Tori
as she left with Elias and Ruth.
Xander agreed that since there wasn't much else to do, they might as
well go. Besides, he was interested in talking some more with Tori, who
was a very pretty vamp.
"You don't think I'm too old for her, do you?" he asked Spike
as they left the hall.
"Eventually, you will be," Spike teased, "but for now---no."
"Hey, talk about old, pal," Xander retorted, "aren't
you pushing past 125 by now?"
"Yeah," Spike snorted, "but I age gracefully and always
will. I can attract more women in an hour than you can all night long."
Xander continued to bait Spike. "Is that so, Pretty Boy? Care to
place a bet?"
"You're on!" Spike accepted. "And who are you calling
Pretty Boy, you git? I'm no boy. Been a man a hell of a lot longer
than you have."
"That was my original point, you geezer."
"Guys, guys, guys," Mena yelled at them. "The way you
two are acting, any woman who meets you will think you both have the emotional
maturity of twelve year-olds, if that. My nyanya always says that you
should keep your words both soft and tender because tomorrow, you may
have to eat them. Now come on, let's get back to the hotel and freshen
Less than an hour later, as they were leaving the hotel, Mena had one
last thing to say. "There will be no foolish games, trying
to attract unwitting women just to prove how vain you both are. That ridiculous
bet is off!"
Acknowledging Mena's serious resolve face, Spike and Xander agreed to
her demand for their compliance. It wasn't worth the hassle, and truth
be told, neither was really into the idea of the bet, anyway. Agreeing
with Mena was a convenient way to get out of it.
"Let's go get us some spicy food and tasty beverages, preferably
of the frothy kind," suggested Xander. "Well, except for you,
Mena. No frothy beverages for you, unless they've got root beer."
With that, they joined the crowds heading for the Festival grounds.
They'd been wandering around the Festival for an hour or so, nibbling
some of the garlicky delights at various food booths, and then decided
to go their own ways for a while.
Xander was interested in checking out the information booths that extolled
all the health and anti-aging virtues of garlic. He'd already been handed
a flyer that explained that the selenium from garlic bulbs, or rather
from garlic's botanical name, Allium sativum, had been proven as
a remedy to help make you more clear-headed.
That sounded good and made him wonder what other benefits might be derived
from garlic---not that Xander was all that thrilled about garlic shampoo,
aftershave or body wash, but hey, if it can make him look a few years
younger, it might be worth a look-see. He didn't want any more waitresses
taking him for Mena's father.
Mena was more absorbed with checking out the music at the three entertainment
stages set up within the Festival grounds, especially a specific California
rock band, playing later that night. She'd seen a poster and insisted
the lead singer bore a shocking resemblance to Spike. Spike grumbled if
this was another Billy Idol crack, he wasn't amused, but she swore it
was a real band. She couldn't remember their exact name---it was similar
to Guns and Roses, except not. Then she saw another poster of the band
and dragged Spike over to inspect it.
Looking at the poster, Spike conceded that the lead singer did have bleached
blond hair with dark roots like his. He also had a similar facial structure
and build, but that was where the resemblance ended as far as he was concerned.
Mena begged him to come and listen to them play. Spike promised he'd catch
up with her later.
He was in search of some liquid refreshment because for some reason,
his throat had gotten dry and scratchy. He thought a tall, cold one would
soothe it. Not only was his throat bothering him, but his eyes and nose
were giving him fits, too.
"Damn," he cursed as he rubbed his neck and arms, "don't
tell me I'm coming down with hives---that's a human complaint, not a vampire's."
At the town meeting that afternoon, he'd paid scant attention to the
'Gilroid' vamps claiming their biggest problem living in the Garlic Capital
of the World was getting over their garlic allergies. Spike never had
a problem with it; he'd eaten spicy, garlic-laden food all his life. Loved
it, in fact. He'd bloody well eaten the Bit's Kiss-Killing Garlic Pizza
for years and survived to talk about it.
That's why he hadn't anticipated having a problem here in Gilroy; but
then, eating garlic was one thing, and living with acres of it
all around you was another. One thing was sure, the garlic in Gilroy was
the most potent he'd ever come across, and here at the Festival, there
was no escaping it---period. Maybe he should have taken that doctor up
on his offer for the immunity injections.
"Oh, suck it up, you ponce," he muttered, rubbing at his watering
eyes. "It's just one night. You'll survive. How bad can it get?"
He headed off in the direction of the closest refreshment stand, hoping
for a cold Corona. Passing by one of the many activity booths, he noticed
a huge gathering around one featuring face-painting for kids and adults.
It wasn't your standard make-up fare, either, he noted. The emphasis was
more on demon or vampire faces, space aliens and Star Trek characters.
Looks like a bleeding Vulcan convention, he thought, laughing.
Any chance on beaming Harris up, Scotty?
At least it was an easy way for the 'Gilroid' demons to mingle among
the crowd without raising any concern from the tourists. Walking away,
Spike thought he heard someone shouting his name.
"Spike! Wait, Spike!" the voice yelled.
Spike turned back to the crowd, looking in the direction the voice had
come from. Suddenly, he was swept up in one of the most enthusiastic and
bone-crushing bear hugs he had ever gotten.
"Spike! My God, Spike, is it you? I can't believe it's really you!
I thought you were---I heard you were gone! Went out in a blaze of glory
in the Hellmouth. But you didn't---I mean, I guess you couldn't have,
because you're here! Oh, Spike, it's so good to see you!"
When Spike finally recovered from the shock of having the wind knocked
out of him and nearly every rib in his chest cracked, he found himself
looking up into the face of his old friend from Sunnydale, Clem. Now it
was his turn to yell, and he did so, returning a hug of his own and enthusiastically
slapping Clem's back.
"Clem, old buddy! What the bloody hell are you doing here?"
"Spike, I think I should ask you the same thing first. What are
you doing here, and how is it even possible? Never did get a chance
to see you before I left Sunnydale, right before you and The Slayer made
your stand against The First. And then---well, after the town became a
crater, word was that you died. Gave your life to save the world. But
here you are back again. So is it true? What happened to you, Spike?"
"It's true, Clem, but it's complicated," Spike answered. "Tell
you what, though, let me buy you a cold brew, and I'll try to make some
sense of it, okay?"
"Sounds great to me!" Clem beamed as he followed Spike to the
refreshment stand. "I'm all ears; and with ears like mine, you know
I can't help but make a great listener."
Sipping on a Corona, Spike explained just how they had managed to turn
all the Potentials into Slayers, then about their battle with the Ubervamps,
his fiery demise in the Hellmouth and his ghostly re-emergence from the
amulet in Angel's office at Wolfram & Hart. Clem listened in wonder
to Spike's story. If he ever had been in awe of this vampire, he most
certainly was now. He was thrilled to hear of Spike's exploits fighting
evil as part of Angel's team at Wolfram and Hart, but he was saddened
to learn that Spike had lost his new friends so tragically. It worried
him that these Senior Partners might still be after Spike, but he was
sure the vampire was far too clever to get caught.
One thing, though, did puzzle Clem. Spike had hardly mentioned Buffy
at all. He appeared to have survived, relatively unscathed from his physical
ordeals, but there was something definitely troubling him. Clem had a
pretty good idea that The Slayer was a big part of it. He decided he'd
do some probing.
"Wow, Spike!" he said. "That's an incredible story. They
really ought to make a movie about your life someday. I know I'd watch
Then he ventured on cautiously, "So what did Buffy think about all
this? I'll bet she was pretty surprised to see you alive again, huh?"
Spike looked away for a moment, then answered quietly, "I um---I
haven't really kept up with Buffy since I've been back. Point of fact,
just spoke with her for the first time a couple days ago. And, yeah, she
was a bit---surprised. Maybe a little upset, too, that I'd kept her in
the dark about my return and such. Sent a team to give me back-up, though.
Xander Harris and a new Slayer. You remember Xander, right?"
Clem nodded that he did remember, but continued to study Spike's face,
noting the guarded sorrow there. He decided to press on.
"Spike, I'm a little confused here. Why didn't you tell Buffy you
were back? I mean, you two were, well---inseparable. After all you went
through, don't you think she would have wanted to know you were okay?
And Dawn, too."
Spike had been rubbing his eyes but waved his hand to cut Clem off. "Told
you it was complicated, Clem. Everything had changed. All those new Slayers.
She had a chance for a better life. New friends, new---a chance to start
over! Just wasn't sure I'd fit into her life anymore. Wasn't sure I ever
Spike hesitated, then added, "Find out soon enough, I expect. Can't
put it off forever."
Turning quiet again, it was obvious he didn't want to continue this conversation.
He smiled at Clem, though, and said, "Hey, look at me, acting the
big girl's blouse and all. So what about you, mate, what's new in your
Clem understood Spike well enough to know he'd better not press his luck.
They were friends, but Spike had a temper, and he seemed preoccupied.
The vamp's eyes were glassy, his voice was breaking up a bit, and he seemed
unusually agitated. Clem decided to relate his most recent history rather
than push Spike for any more information.
"Well, let's see---actually, I've been in Gilroy for almost a year.
I heard about it from a few friends, and I gotta admit, I was a bit skeptical
but decided to give it try. I always liked living around humans, love
eating their food---well, okay, their junk food, and I really enjoy their
company. Some humans have been a lot kinder to me than a lot of other
demons ever were, so I thought maybe I'd enjoy life here. So far, it's
been even more that I could have hoped for."
"Glad to hear that, Clem. You bloody deserve to live in a place
where you can count on being treated well."
"Yeah, America---land of freedom and equality. I'm actually living
the American dream now. I've got the perfect job. I work the night shift
at the video store, so that's great for my movie fetish. And I know you'll
never believe this, but I met someone, Spike. I've got a girl! She's a
Clemonton demon, too, but get this---she's a vegetarian and an animal
lover to boot."
Spike looked a bit surprised at that one and had to ask, "An animal
lover, huh? Um---how's that working out for you, with that whole kitten
thing and all?"
Clem laughed heartily and told Spike, "Oh, I gave up eating kittens
months ago. I did it for her, mostly, but also because the policy here
is one of non-violence. Actually, I was going to give them up anyway.
You know, cholesterol issues being what they are."
Spike laughed, too, and told Clem he was proud of him and glad he and
his lady had worked that issue out.
"I was proud of myself," Clem admitted, "and it's funny,
the things you'll do for love. That old saying about a leopard not being
able to change his spots just isn't true. I found that if I want it bad
enough, I can do almost anything."
Oh, not again, thought Spike. I swear if I had a dollar for
every time I've heard or thought about that sodding leopard these past
Clem had a wistful look on his face as he continued. "You know,
Spike, this town has been a real haven for those of us who are willing
to make a change for a better life. We have jobs, we're useful members
of society, and we're all treated like equals. In short, we 'belong'.
We help protect the humans, and they look out for us. Humans here don't
judge us for what we are, but for what we do, or in some cases, for what
we stop doing." They both smirked at that.
"You ought to think about settling down here someday, Spike. With
all the good you've done for the world, they'd probably give you the key
to the city. Make you some kind of legend. Really, you should seriously
"Maybe someday, mate," Spike answered. "Right now, though,
got a lot to straighten out in my life. Need to find out exactly why I'm
here. What my bloody purpose is."
"Yeah, I understand how you feel, and I can see it's important to
you." Clem looked at his friend and sighed. "I hope you find
your answers, Spike. I really do."
Clem hesitated for a moment, but then decided to go for broke. "Spike,
I know this is none of my business, and I'm not the best one to be giving
advice on matters of the heart, but I hope you work things out with The
Spike started to protest, but Clem forged on.
"It's like you two are in each other's blood, if you'll pardon the
reference. Sure, you fought a lot, but you always seemed to make up. And
that's the best part, right---the making up? Looks to me like one way
or another, you're always going to be part of each other's lives. No matter
how you try to hide it, Spike, anyone can tell you're still crazy about
"Clem, I appreciate your concern, but so much time has passed now,
I'm not even sure I want to jump back in that fire."
Clem shook his head sadly. He was surprised the vamp seemed so defeated.
It was certainly not Spike's way to give up on a challenge.
"But you've always played with fire, Spike. You still should tell
her how you feel, man. Come on, you were a pretty good poker player. Lay
your cards on the table, pal, and play your hand. Then all you can do
is let the chips fall where they may. You'll find a way to work it out;
you always do. Besides, you owe it to each other to try, right?"
Spike regarded his friend for a moment. "I'll do my bloody best.
Truth is, though, the ball's in her court now. One thing this past year
has taught me is that I'm my own man. It hurt like hell, but I managed
to get by without her in my life. God knows that's not how I hope it turns
out, but if it does, at least I know I can survive on my own."
"Good, that's more like it!" Clem encouraged. He noticed that
Spike's eyes seemed to be tearing, and he kept clearing his throat and
rubbing his neck.
Concerned that he had distressed the vampire, Clem asked, "Spike,
are you okay? I didn't mean to upset you. You're not getting all weepy
on me, are you? Hey---not that there's anything wrong with that these
days. I mean---guys are allowed to be more sensitive and all, but---"
"What are you babblin' on about---weepy? Me? No bleeding way, mate.
It's this damn garlic, I think. Giving me a bit of a fit, it is. My eyes
are watering; throat's scratchy. Feel like I could sneeze my fool head
off, that is, if I breathed regularly. It's bloody annoying."
Clem laughed, slapped Spike on the back and told him to go see Doc Morton
about an immunity shot. It was a suggestion Spike reluctantly agreed he
might have to look into after all.
By this time, Xander and Mena had managed to track Spike down. As he
saw them approaching, he seriously hoped they were ready to call it a
night, but he figured Xander would have to make another round of the food
booths, and Mena would probably start bugging him about the band again.
Whatever they did, though, he hoped it would take his mind off this darn
itching. Much as he hated to admit it, the garlic overload was starting
to get the best of him.
Barreling down the highway toward Gilroy was a very large gang of bikers.
Astride the motorcycles were not the standard issue Hell's Angels, but
they were definitely issues from Hell. They were the largest gang of vampire
bikers ever assembled, but as remarkable as that fact was, the most noteworthy
thing about them was that none of them had been vampires for longer than
Vinnie, their leader, and his buddy, Jake, had gone to a bar on the west
side of Topeka, Kansas one Friday night less than a month ago. They were
treating themselves to some booze and recreation after a long week of
working together at a local accounting office.
After several drinks and several brush-offs from women who were also
enjoying the chance to wind down from a week of work, Vinnie and Jake
were shocked when two very attractive---no, make that very hot and sexy
women seated themselves at their table. Hot babes don't usually hit on
paunchy, slightly balding CPAs. Vinnie and Jake knew that, but the alcohol
in their veins threw any suspicion to the winds.
When the women invited them outside for a breath of fresh air, Vinnie
and Jake followed most willingly. The women led them to a dark shed behind
the bar, clearly used as a storeroom; stacked inside were empty beer barrels
and large boxes of napkins and other sundries. Vinnie and Jake couldn't
believe their stroke of luck as the women leaned up against them, flattening
their backs to the shed walls.
The women began nuzzling the necks of the horny, hapless accountants,
but suddenly, the nuzzles turned vicious. The last two sounds the guys
heard were the strains of a Bruce Springsteen song blaring out of the
bar's windows and each other's screams. They were barely aware when the
vampires sliced their own wrists and offered their blood, but they drank
by instinct rather than with any perception. Their last thoughts were,
this can't be happening. Vampires aren't real.
When Vinnie and Jake woke the next day, the last rays of a beautiful
sunset were filtering through the one window in the shed. Before they
could begin a conversation, a beam of sunlight reached Jake's arm which
immediately began to smoke. They realized very quickly that not only were
vampires real, but that they were vampires themselves.
Without a sire to teach them the ropes, Vinnie and Jake muddled through
their first night, again just on instinct. They chose the two hottest
women in the bar who appeared to be dateless for the evening. With newfound
strength to give them courage, they eventually managed to entice Kayla
and Jessica to their car with the promise of smoking some primo weed.
Mission accomplished. Vinnie and Jake now had two hot, vampire girlfriends
to accompany them.
They traveled to St. Louis the next night, where the foursome ditched
their car in exchange for the Harleys they stole from their next victims,
who soon became their first minions and members of their new gang.
They continued the pattern every night, driving to a new town, choosing
and turning new gang members until they decided forty vampire bikers with
forty vampire biker chicks was a sizeable enough gang to handle any threat
that might appear in their path. Of course, they'd never heard of Slayers.
And they'd never met a vampire like Spike.
They ambled their merry way toward Las Vegas, but Vinnie was amused by
an article in AAA magazine that he happened to read at a diner, promoting
the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and noted that it was slated to begin soon.
His gang had continued to enjoy some of the pleasures they'd liked most
as humans, including spicy Italian food and especially pizza, all heavily
laced with garlic.
So they surmised that the idea of vampires having an aversion to garlic
must be pure bunk. What fun it would be to attend this Festival, partake
in some of the garlic-laden food, and then shock the hell out of the townspeople
when they discovered vampires in their midst, who were not the least bit
repelled by the town's signature crop. It would be a real hoot. Vegas
could wait another few days.
Vinnie and Jake outlined their plan for the rest of the gang. The townspeople
might be a little nervous about a motorcycle gang arriving in town, so
the plan was to be very pleasant and respectful. They weren't scary troublemakers;
just hard-working Americans who rode together on weekends to enjoy the
fun of the open road. They'd make nice with the humans, have some easy-going,
middle class fun, but they'd keep an eye on Vinnie & Kayla and Jake
The gang was instructed to follow their lead for a massacre they were
certain California would never forget. That was what brought them to this
point as they neared the city limits of Gilroy.
A gang of fledglings, who actually knew very little about being vampires
beyond keeping out of the sun, avoiding stakes to the heart, drinking
blood, and enjoying their ability to easily overpower humans with their
preternatural strength, were about to learn some cold, hard truths.
After Xander and Clem exchanged a greeting and Mena was introduced, Clem
excused himself. He had been on a dinner break from his job at the Video
Store, which was staying open till 1:00 AM tonight due to the Festival
running till midnight, and he needed to get back. He gave Spike his phone
number, address and e-mail addy which Spike secured in his wallet while
assuring Clem he would see him at least once more before leaving Gilroy.
"Wow! He's a very friendly and enthusiastic demon," remarked
Mena. "I think his ears are rather cute. Once you get used to the
red eyes and all that loose skin, he's sort of adorable."
"Wait till you get a load of his 'scary face'," warned Xander.
"It puts Beetlejuice to shame. You saw that Michael Keaton movie,
didn't you? Well, that's nothing compared to seeing it live and mere inches
from your own face."
"I remember that pack of soon-to-be Slayers, living with us in Sunnydale,
talked about it for days after they met Clem," said Spike. "Buffy
and I took them to a demon bar to acclimate them a bit since most of them
had seen few to nada in terms of demons, and Clem scared the bloody crap
out of them when he showed his true face, but he really is as friendly
as they come."
"Yeah, he's kind of like a giant puppy," agreed Mena. "But
I'm sure those talons of his could be painful; I've had a few regrettable
experiences with lion and leopard cubs."
Spike sighed at yet another mention of leopards. It seemed there was
"All right, pet. Since the sun has finally set, we can all go check
out some of that music you've been clamoring for."
"I promised Tori I'd let her know which stage we're going to be
at so she can join us," said Xander. "I just ran into her at
a booth over that way."
"Sounds great! The band I most want to hear is playing at the stage
at the other end of the grounds. Spike and I will walk leisurely in that
direction while you go get Tori, okay?" suggested Mena.
Xander agreed and headed back for Tori. He reached her just as she was
saying goodbye to a group of friends. He waited for her to turn around
and was very pleased when she broke into a big smile as she spotted him.
"Hi, Xander. Is it time for some music?"
"Spike and Mena are boogeying as we speak toward the stage at the
far end; they were jazzed to hear you'd be joining us. So, let's rock
on down to funky town, and oh, my God, can I sound any less cool? My mouth
sometimes talks before even a fragment of thought formulates in my brain.
I blame sleeping in a damp basement during my formative years. And yet
I just keep on yammering. Please, put me out of my misery."
Tori laughed and said, "I like guys who can make me giggle."
"Thank you, Tori. And I like girls who find me amusing rather than
As they started walking, Tori said, "I'm very glad that your opinion
of us changed, Xander. You had me a bit worried at the beginning of the
meeting this afternoon."
"Sorry about that, Tori. It's just that my personal encounters with
vampires have never been with any who wanted friendship. There was never
anything but fangy bloodlust or my personal favorite---killing the innocent
just for the hell of it. It's kinda like the evil undead consider themselves
on a higher rung of the food chain. Buffy said that first year we met
Spike, he called us 'happy meals with legs'."
Tori chuckled. "Come on, a funny guy like you has to admit that
line was clever, Xander."
"Yeah, well, maybe if it was in a movie, but not real life. Other
than the vamps in this town, all the ones I've met have had no regard
for human life. We humans didn't seem to matter at all to them."
"Sounds like you're talking about someone in particular, Xander."
Xander thought briefly of Angel becoming Angelus, but then settled on
the one betrayal that had cut him the most deeply.
"The night I first discovered what Buffy and vampire slaying was
all about, I was with a friend I'd known since grade school. Jesse and
I had been best buds forever. I thought I knew him inside and out."
"I take it he became a vampire."
"Yeah, it wasn't his fault, of course. It could just as easily have
been me that was taken and turned, but Buffy saved me. When we went back
to try to save Jesse, he had already been turned. He led us into a trap
that we barely escaped from, and the next time I saw him---"
"You can tell me, Xander."
"He was with a gang of vampires who planned to eat everyone in a
local club that was filled with kids from our high school. I tried to
reason with him, but---I mean, I know he wasn't really Jesse anymore.
He would've killed me if someone else hadn't bumped him from behind, jostling
him right into the stake I was holding."
"Oh, Xander. I'm so sorry. But you've got to let go of that kernel
of guilt you're still feeling. Most people aren't as lucky as I was. Most
who are turned get saddled with very powerful demons who take almost complete
dominance over any scrap of humanity that may have been left behind. Especially
while they're still fledglings, they have very little and sometimes no
control at all of their demons."
"But why couldn't Jesse have been like you? He was a good guy. Really,
"I don't know, Xander. You heard Trevor talk about the peace-loving
girls he'd known at the commune, and how vicious they became once they
were turned. The same thing happened to my college roommate. We were together
when we were attacked."
"Way! I woke up with a lot of my humanity still inside, but she
was no longer the kind-hearted girl I'd known for years. It was hard to
comprehend that my best friend wasn't really there, but now I realize
that her demon was not the least bit submissive and absolutely refused
to integrate with any speck of the sweet girl she'd been. She became a
"At least you weren't the one to kill her."
"Actually, Xander, I was. She was berating me for being such a loser
as a vampire when we rounded a street corner and ran into another college
friend. She was going to kill him if I didn't do something. I yanked her
off of him and threw her into a brick wall. The guy took off running,
so I was going to let it go, but she was furious with me." Tori sighed.
"In our ensuing fight, I knocked her into a stack of wooden crates.
She grabbed a piece of wood, intending to stake me, but I managed to use
an aikido move that I'd barely learned from a former boyfriend, which
resulted in her dust instead of mine. It may not have been my actual intent
to stake her, but it still felt like my fault."
"That's almost exactly what happened with me and Jesse---except
there was no actual fighting involved. Definitely no cool aikido move.
I didn't really know much about fighting at that point."
"Neither did I. It was a very lucky move that saved my own life
at the expense of hers. I felt guilty for a long time, but Elias and Ruth
helped me get over it. I hope you can get over it, too."
"I thought I had gotten over it, until I started hearing
about other soulless vampires here in Gilroy who chose to live peacefully.
It made me wonder if Jesse could have done the same, if I hadn't dusted
"No, Xander. Jesse was like the vast majority of vampires. He would
have gone on to kill thousands of people, probably even you."
"I guess so. I mean, rationally, I know you're right. It's just
hard to accept."
"Do you think your difficulty with Jesse's death has anything to
do with your inability to accept Spike for who he is?"
"Huh? No. No way!" Xander sighed. "Well, now that you've
brought it up, it's just going to hunker down in my gray matter until
I think it all through, isn't it? Just what I need. Spike thoughts. Thoughts
of Spike. Speak of the devil, there are Spike and Mena now. Let's change
the subject, okay? Please don't tell him I have Spike thoughts running
loose in my mind."
"Okay, Xander," Tori chuckled again. "There's something
else I want to tell all three of you, anyway. Hi, Spike. Hi, Mena. We
forgot to tell you something during the meeting."
"What's that, love?" asked Spike.
"Two of the vampires on the police force teach self defense classes
at the Y, not only for us vampires, but also for the human population
and the demons. So everyone in Gilroy has some degree of self defense
training. It was one of Jackson Garret's ideas to help make everyone feel
"Sounds smart," said Mena. "How's it been working out?"
"We start out in beginners' classes with those of our own kind.
Then when we reach a more advanced level, we take classes together so
that we can learn how to defend ourselves from different kinds of opponents.
It's pretty cool, but some of us are more into it than others."
"Maybe we could watch one of the classes?" asked Mena.
"Well, there won't be any over the weekend due to the Festival,
but if you stick around for a while, you could come to my class on Monday.
How does that sound?" asked Tori.
"Sounds good, but not as good as that band. Come on, you guys. This
is that band with a lead singer that looks just like Spike."
"Does not," Spike countered. "There's only a very slight
"We've got to check this out, Tori," laughed Xander. "It
might provide me with humiliating razzing fodder for weeks to come."
By the time the band finished its set, all but Spike were in agreement
that the singer looked a lot like him, even though the singer no longer
had the blond hair that he'd had in the poster photo. Mena and Tori loved
the band and purchased copies of their CD that were sold at a small table
near the stage.
Xander thought they were pretty good, but Spike wasn't all that impressed.
Since his preferences were still for punk music, he didn't think the band
rocked hard enough. But he liked a few of the ballads; they all made Spike's
thoughts turn to Buffy. Of course, most things in life turned his thoughts
As the band cleared themselves from the stage and another took its place,
Spike noted that the crowd had begun to thin out.
"Yeah, it's 10:00 PM already," said Xander. "Guess all
the families with young children have taken them home to put them to bed,
with visions of garlic bulbs dancing in their heads."
"There are still a lot of teenagers around, though," Mena hurried
to inject, hoping they weren't about to suggest that she should head back
to the hotel.
"This crowd tonight was nothing compared to what will be here tomorrow
and Sunday," said Tori. "Tonight was mostly just people from
Gilroy and nearby towns. Tomorrow the tourists will show up in droves.
Most of the booths will probably start shutting down now for the night."
"Yikes!" exclaimed Xander. "Even the snacks?"
"No, the refreshment stands will stay open till the bands stop playing
"Okay, I guess we could listen to at least one more band,"
said Xander. "Are the rest of you up for it?"
"As long as we can get another round of beer," said Spike.
"This one's on you, Xander."
Xander purchased beverages for all of them just as the bikers pulled
inside the city limits and began making their way to the Festival grounds.
More of the Festival crowd departed as the next band began playing, but
there were still a lot of people there when Spike first heard the sound
of way too many motorcycles. Tori soon picked up on the sound, too, as
did the other 'Gilroid' vampires within the Festival grounds. Luckily,
several of them were members of the police force; they immediately radioed
in to the police department that back-up might be necessary. Then the
humans at the Festival noticed the roar, and heads began turning to locate
the source of the noise.
As Vinnie, Jake and their gang parked their bikes, murmurs spread like
wildfire amidst the crowd. Some of the people immediately left the area,
heading for their cars in an attempt to leave before there was trouble---because
forty bikers and their forty female companions, many of whom rode their
own bikes, definitely looked like trouble.
Like trouble times eighty, in fact.
The band onstage continued to play as the bikers began mingling among
the crowd, smiling, nodding and acting as if they were there only to enjoy
the music and look at the various booths. Most of them purchased beer,
and a few bought slices of pizza and some of the other consumables. Sniffs
began to be heard coming from some of the bikers as they wiped or rubbed
at their eyes, unwittingly beginning to feel the effects of the overwhelming
aroma of garlic in the air.
Spike's practiced eye searched the bikers for their leader and noticed
that many of the bikers kept glancing over at two of the couples--- Vinnie
& Kayla and Jake & Jessica. Spike then caught the eye of Jackson
Garret and nodded to indicate where the apparent seat of power lay within
the biker gang.
Garret joined Spike, Xander, Mena and Tori. Together, they made their
way over to the biker leaders. Garret spoke first.
"Evening, folks. You may not realize it, but we know you're all
vampires. We don't want any trouble in Gilroy and would appreciate it
if you'd all just mount up and move on."
Both Xander and Mena began to protest, but Spike cut them off by grabbing
their arms, glaring at them and whispering, "There are too many of
them spread out among the crowd. Avoiding a fight is best."
Vinnie smirked at Garret and replied, "Why, whatever do you mean,
'Ossifer'? Vampires? Vampires aren't real. Do you think there are werewolves
and ghosts here, too?"
Jake, the girls and several nearby bikers all laughed uproariously at
Vinnie's gibe, as many of them unconsciously swiped at their noses, still
not aware that they were succumbing to the effects of the garlic.
"Oh, please, Mr. Policeman, save us from all the monsters!"
implored a laughing Kayla.
"Again, I ask that you please not make this difficult," said
Garret. "We are prepared to deal with you if we must, but we would
prefer that you just vacate the premises."
"We go where we please," countered Jake. "It's a free
country." He wiggled his nose and sniffed.
"Just want to hear some music and party for a while," said
Spike had heard enough. "These wankers are all fledglings, Garret.
I can tell. They don't have enough bloody sense among them to understand
what they're up against."
"Who are you calling a fledgling?" blustered Vinnie, after
he cleared his suddenly raspy throat. He had no idea what a wanker was,
but a fledgling sounded like a weak little chicken or some kind of bird,
and they were tough, badass vampires!
"What's a fledgling?" asked Kayla, unsure, but assuming it
was some kind of an insult.
"Geez!" exclaimed Xander. "Didn't any of you guys have
a sire to give you even a clue about vampire lore and terminology?"
"What do you know about it?" retorted Jake.
"Plenty," said Xander. "But I'll let a Master Vampire
explain." He nodded toward Spike.
"Master? There are Master Vampires? What's that all about?"
asked Jessica as she rubbed her left eye.
"Usually, any vamp that survives a hundred years or so can be considered
a true Master, though I elevated myself in the ranks long before I reached
my century mark," said Spike, stepping closer to them, hoping
they'd pick up on the strength and menace within him and back down.
He was also mentally thanking Doc Morton for stopping by a few minutes
ago to give him a quick garlic immunity injection. His own allergic reactions
were subsiding, though he was still aware of them.
"Wow, man. You're a Master Vampire? And over a hundred years old?
That's way cool!" enthused Kayla. "I hope I keep my looks that
long, too. You look great!"
Vinnie didn't appreciate Kayla expressing her enthusiasm over Spike,
but decided to make an overture. "That's okay, man. We can share.
There are lots of 'munchables' here to go around."
The Gilroy cops had been quietly moving around the edges of the crowd,
telling Gilroy humans to go home or into nearby businesses and to take
tourists with them, so the crowd was slowly thinning, but many potential
victims still remained within arm's reach of the bikers spread out over
the grounds. At Garret's command into his shoulder radio, another police
officer told the band to stop playing and took over the microphone.
"May I have your attention, please. We're closing the Festival early
tonight, folks, and would appreciate your cooperation in leaving the grounds
immediately." His announcement blared over the loud speakers, and
similar announcements could be heard being made at the other two musical
stages on the grounds.
"Now, see, that's no fun at all," complained Jake. "We
said we'd share."
"That's the bloody point, you stupid gits. There will be no
blood-drinking here tonight," sneered Spike.
"Not in our town," said Garret, as he revealed his game face.
"You gotta be kidding me," snorted Vinnie. "The cops are
"Most of them," said Tori, sliding into her game face as well.
"But some of us aren't on the force."
"It might not be wise for you to stick around, Tori," said
"Not leaving, Jackson," replied Tori grimly.
"Figured as much," Garret sighed.
"Now, I know the entire town can't be vampires because I
can hear hearts beating and smell fresh blood," reasoned Jake. "Like
you, for instance, sweet thing." He leered into Mena's face, then
coughed a bit to clear his throat.
"No, I'm not a vampire," agreed Mena. "I'm a Vampire Slayer!"
She adjusted her body into a fighting stance.
"Vampire Slayer?" grinned Kayla. "Why, you're just a little
bitty baby. You shouldn't try to slay any vampires, honey. You might get
Mena gritted her teeth but didn't make a move, waiting for Spike or Garret
to give the word.
"You really shouldn't have said that," Xander smilingly
warned Kayla. "You're so going to regret it."
As the other bikers became aware that more and more of their intended
victims were departing, many of them grabbed hold of the nearest warm
vessels of blood that they considered their inferiors. As yelps and screams
from those humans rang out, that was all it took to set off a free-for-all.
Shocking their attackers, the 'Gilroid' humans employed self defense
moves to escape the grasps of the vamps, then pulled out receptacles of
Doc Morton's garlic 'super concentrate' and sprayed it into their eyes.
The humans made a quick escape as the vampires yelled and began fiercely
rubbing their eyes.
All of their movements gradually slowed down, and the few who had received
the largest doses of the spray actually fell to the ground, unable to
move. Officers moved among them, staking them one by one.
While this was going on, Mena attacked Kayla, just as Xander had predicted,
yelling, "Who's an itty bitty baby now, you bozi kifu!" Kayla
was dust in mere seconds.
Xander fought Jessica and managed to stake her fairly quickly, as Mena
moved on to a large biker with brawny arms and a beer belly. His brute
strength helped him for a while, but Mena's training was more than a match
for him. He, too, was dust within a few minutes.
Tori made good use of the self defense classes she had taken, kicking
and flipping and punching very effectively. She ripped a leg off a wooden
chair she found behind one of the booths, slammed it against the head
of the biker she was fighting, then broke it into a semi-sharp point,
making it useful as a stake. She dusted her opponent and looked around
Spike made swift work of an enraged Vinnie as Garret took out Jake; then
both of them looked for the next closest opponents. Spike, of course,
enjoyed the rush of the ensuing fight, however, Garret went about his
work with grim yet resolute determination.
Although the bikers were violent demons who would have gone on to kill
many people if they were not dusted, Garret couldn't help but wish he
wasn't one of the ones who had to do the killing. However, he and the
other peace-loving 'Gilroids' understood that dusting these vampires was
Taking a moment to survey the grounds and the ongoing fighting, Spike
and Garret noticed a group of vampires making a run for their bikes at
the exits. To make matters worse, they had taken Mayor Mendez and a girl
from a concession stand hostage.
In a flash, Spike gave pursuit with Garett close behind him. Leaping
onto the backs of the Mayor's captors, Spike knocked all of them to the
ground. Roaring in thwarted anger, the bikers scrambled to their feet
and surrounded Spike, who roared right back at them and laughed. As Garret
began punching one of them, the rest rushed Spike.
He threw one of them several feet to the right, then grabbed the next
one and used him as a battering ram against the others. Their rage energized
them, and they tackled Spike to the ground, furiously pummeling him.
Suddenly, Mena and Xander were there, each of them peeling off a vamp
and engaging them in battle. With the load lightened, Spike sprang up,
fists flying and fangs snarling. Before long, the bikers who had attempted
to abduct the mayor and the girl had all been dusted.
Looking over at Xander and Mena, Spike gasped, "Nice work, you two.
Thanks for watching my back."
Mena smiled graciously, "That's what partners do, Spike, they watch
out for each other."
Xander added, "Besides, Buffy would have had my head if we'd let
anything happen to you."
Mena ran off to begin a new fight with a female biker she spotted, causing
Xander to exclaim, "Teenagers! They've just got so much energy!"
As 'the good guys' cut a swath among the bikers, many of the police officers
employed the garlic darts that Doc Morton had supplied them. The eighty
bikers soon became forty. Doc Morton rushed up with a fresh supply of
"Here, Xander," he said. "Since you haven't got a dart
gun, you can just stab it into your opponent with as much force as you
can, so that the point inserts deeply into the skin tissue, like this."
Doc swung his arm back, inadvertently catching Spike's arm as he did
so. The dart's point imbedded itself in Spike's bomber jacket and, unfortunately,
dipped into his skin. It wasn't quite enough to paralyze Spike, but it
definitely slowed him down. Soon, he could barely defend himself against
the huge, beefy biker he'd been fighting.
"Oh, my God," yelled Doc Morton. "I'm so sorry. The ordinary
immunity shot I gave you earlier isn't powerful enough to counteract the
'super concentrate' on the dart. I'll go get the antidote. Wait here."
Spike just barely managed to raise an eyebrow at Doc as Xander grabbed
another dart from Doc's supply and surged forward to assist Spike. Just
as the biker began to grab Spike's head with the intent to break his neck,
Xander slammed the dart into the biker's jugular, saying, "Maybe
now you'll get the point! You're not welcome here."
The biker fell to the ground, completely immobilized. Xander staked him
and then moved over to help Spike.
Xander slung his arm around Spike's back and lifted Spike's lethargic
arm over his own shoulder to make it easier for him to move Spike to a
chair. Spike's legs could barely move under his own power, but Xander
was able to support him until they reached the chair.
Spike wheezed, "Thanks, mate, but please assure me that I won't
have to listen to any more of your bloody lame attempts to duplicate Buffy's
pitiful use of puns whenever you slay a vampire. 'Maybe now you'll get
the point'? That was bloody awful."
"Yup. Truly groan-worthy," grinned Xander. "As are all
of the best puns. I hope you realize I've saved you twice tonight. Are
you just a bit more willing now to have some back-up? And more importantly,
does this rescue balance us out for your saving me from Caleb?"
"Sure," agreed Spike. "Now you have only a hundred or
more such rescues to make to balance out your entire account, seeing as
how I've saved your sodding arse at least that many times."
Doc Morton quickly gave Spike the antidote to counteract the dart's effectiveness
as the fight continued around them. The forty bikers who had been left
fighting just moments ago soon dwindled to twenty, and then there were
The battle was over much too soon for Mena's preference because she felt
like she'd just gotten her Slayer powers entirely revved up, but all of
the 'Gilroid' vampires and the rest of the police force were very happy
that it ended so quickly.
Amazingly, only a handful of humans were injured, and just a few had
been bitten. Doc Morton and Tori immediately began tending the wounded,
and the police officers helped.
Garret, Chief Davidson and Mayor Mendez approached Mena, Xander and a
swiftly recovering Spike, to offer thanks for their assistance. They assured
them that no thank yous were needed; they were just doing their jobs.
"Well," said Xander. "A couple of good things came out
of this. We got to see Doc Morton's weaponry in action, and now, the town
of Gilroy can auction off what appears to be almost eighty motorcycles
in peak condition. Should raise a tidy sum for one of your favorite charities."
"But isn't there anything at all we can do to show you our appreciation?"
asked Mayor Mendez. "Is there anything you need for your next endeavor?"
"Can't think of a thing," said Spike. "Really, we're just
fine. Besides, we'll probably be taking off tomorrow morning. The Watchers'
Council likes to keep things moving."
"But, Spike," said Mena. "You still haven't bought yourself
a change of clothes. You can't keep wearing the same ones everyday. We've
got to stay at least long enough to buy you some clothes, and that means
sticking around till sunset tomorrow so you can check out the stores."
"I think we can assist you with your shopping needs," said
the mayor. "That's the least we can do for all your help. Just let
me know your sizes, Spike, and I'll ask a few of our men's wear retailers
to bring over a selection to your hotel room tomorrow morning. And I insist
that you accept the clothing as a gift."
"We're at the Gilroy Inn, Room 212," said Xander quickly, knowing
that Spike was about to say that the mayor shouldn't bother. Xander was
always eager to keep his Watcher budget in line and liked the idea of
not spending money on clothes for Spike if he didn't have to do so.
"And, Spike, you promised to spend a little more time with Clem,
didn't you?" prodded Mena.
"I need to contact Giles, but I'm sure he'll have no problem with
us hanging around for at least part of the day tomorrow," agreed
Xander. "We wrapped things up here quicker than we expected."
"All right, already," said Spike. "I give in. The offer
of clothes is very nice of you, Mayor Mendez, but I really need only a
The mayor handed Spike a pad of paper that he pulled out of his breast
suit pocket. Spike began writing down his sizes and a very specific request
for just some socks, a pair of black jeans and a few tee shirts.
While Spike was distracted, Mena smiled at the mayor and waved for his
attention. She pulled him away and whispered that Spike would never request
much, but he could really do with a few nice clothes in addition to jeans
and tee shirts, and a new pair of boots, too. The mayor smiled back at
her and nodded his willingness to go along with the ruse.
"Okay, Spike," said Mena after he handed his brief list to
the mayor. "Let's go to the video store and ask Clem to come over
to our hotel tomorrow to join us for breakfast."
The mayor gave them directions to the video store, and off they went
in search of the friendly demon.
"So, Mena. What the bloody hell's a 'bozi kifu'?" asked Spike.
"Oh, you heard that, huh? Bozi is another Swahili word for stupid
or idiotic, and kifu means dead thing. We don't actually have a word for
vampire, so I usually refer to them that way. Actually, kifu is the singular
for dead thing, so if I were to mention vampires, I would use the plural
form of the word which is vifu."
As Spike, Mena and Xander continued chatting on their way to see Clem,
the police officers and other 'Gilroids' began cleaning up the area, righting
booths that had been knocked over and preparing the grounds so that the
Festival could continue as planned the next day.
They had such a great time during their late and leisurely breakfast
that they convinced Clem to come up to their rooms, so they could continue
talking. Clem just so happened to have a deck of cards in his pocket,
and when they agreed to play poker, he ran back to his car to bring up
the container of poker chips he'd also brought with him---just in case.
Since he no longer played for kittens, he'd purchased a lovely set of
chips for himself.
They'd been playing for over an hour when there was a knock at the door.
Mena jumped up to let in Mayor Mendez and Tori, both of whose arms were
laden with bags and boxes.
"Ooh! Come right on in," said Mena. "I can't wait to see
what you've brought."
"Hi, Tori," said Xander, smiling broadly as he stood to greet
them. "And Mayor Mendez, nice to see you again, sir."
"What's all this, then?" Spike asked, his eyes narrowed in
suspicion that the mayor had not stuck to the meager list Spike had written.
"Now, son, I know you didn't want much of anything, but I couldn't
refuse our grateful retailers," responded Mendez. "They all
absolutely insisted on being given the opportunity to contribute something
from each of their stores."
"Come on, Spike," said Clem. "The people in Gilroy are
very gracious folks. It would be rude to deny their gifts." He winked
at Mena who had made a point of bringing him into the conspiracy, so that
he could help convince Spike to accept the clothing.
"Yeah," agreed Xander. "Wouldn't want to be rude. It would
just be so unlike you, Spike."
"But I---" Spike looked around the room and saw that he really
had no choice but to comply. "Thanks. And please extend my appreciation
to all of the people who contributed, but, you know, I really don't have
any means to store so many clothes." Suddenly, there was another
knock at the door.
Tori went to open the door, saying, "Oh, I really don't think that's
going to be a problem, Spike."
Jackson Garret entered the room with a big smile and some luggage. He
looked around the room for Spike, then said, "The Gilroy police force
all chipped in to give you this luggage, Spike, but the store owner wouldn't
accept our money, so we're donating it in your name to the start-up fund
for the new Gilroy lab to produce Doc Morton's garlic darts and garlic
spray to sell to the Watchers' Council---at very reasonable prices, of
"Of course!" chuckled Xander.
The high quality leather luggage included a large suitcase on wheels,
with a retractable handle, plus an attachment for hanging a suit and a
small, matching case for toiletries.
"Really don't quite know what to say," said a touched and secretly
rather pleased Spike.
"I do," said Mena excitedly. "Let's see what's inside
all the bags and boxes."
The next half hour was spent examining and praising the clothes that
the retailers had selected for Spike. There were several pairs of jeans,
both black and also blue denim, as well as a dozen tee shirts in various
colors, but none that might offend Spike's sensibilities. There were three
black, two navy blue, two deep royal blue, two deep ruby red, and one
each of dark forest green, dark grey and deep burgundy.
There were a few long-sleeved, all-cotton shirts, too, and button-down
shirts in red, black, navy, light blue, white and light gray. There were
three pairs of dress slacks---two in black and one in dark charcoal gray.
A dozen pairs of socks and black boxer briefs were also revealed. The
retailers were, of course, unaware of Spike's preference for 'going comando'.
Another box contained two pairs of soft, lightweight flannel lounge pants
and a beautiful sapphire blue silk bathrobe.
Xander was happy that Spike would no longer be able to claim he had nothing
to wear in bed, and the silk robe definitely got enthusiastic approval
from the two young women. Mena described it as dead brilliant, and Tori
proclaimed it absolutely gorgeous, causing Xander to make a mental note
to get a similar robe for himself pronto.
"Now, I know you don't seem like a suit-wearing kind of guy,"
said the mayor, "but you never know when you might be in a situation
where one might come in handy."
"And women love men in suits," added Tori.
"Oh, yeah, baby," echoed Mena in agreement as she opened a
garment bag that enclosed a beautiful suit in deep charcoal gray with
tiny pin-stripes. "I'll make sure he finds an opportunity to wear
this lovely thing!" She then discovered three very fashionable silk
ties, declaring them brilliant as well.
The shoeboxes turned out to contain new pairs of Doc Marten boots, Nike
running shoes, and soft, Italian leather black dress shoes.
Spike sat on the opposite bed from where all the new clothes and footwear
were arrayed, with the most gobsmacked expression on his face. He was
really very moved. Finally, he stood up and looked everyone individually
in the eyes.
"Feels like Christmas," he said. "Haven't owned this many
clothes, especially such lovely ones, in more years than I can remember.
Thank you very much."
"Well, I'd say this calls for a celebration of the alcohol kind,"
said Xander, noticing that Spike was truly at a loss for any more words.
"Since Giles wants us to head on out for Colorado, maybe you could
help pack Spike's new wardrobe into the suitcases. Then we'll carry all
of this downstairs and get us checked out of the hotel, so that we can
stop off at the bar for a farewell drink...or two."
As Tori and Mena started packing Spike's things, Clem approached Xander
to say, "The next time you speak with Mr. Giles or Buffy or Dawn
or well, any of the Scoobies, please tell them I said 'Hey', will you?
I miss them."
"Speaking of Rupert," said Spike, "since I was in the
shower when you were talking with him, what else did he have to say?"
"Well, he did say that he'll be sending your identification papers,
so they'll more than likely be waiting for us when we arrive in Colorado."
"And what else is waiting for us in Colorado? You haven't said one
bloody word about whatever it is we're supposed to do there."
"Let's just say it involves a haunted Bed & Breakfast that is
getting dangerously out of control. It's run by a woman who Giles knows
well enough from some past encounter to believe that she really is in
trouble. I'll tell you some more details later."
"Hmm. Ghosts, is it? Had a bloody difficult time with some ghosts,
and one evil wanker in particular, when I first arrived at Wolfram &
Hart, before I got all corporeal again. Hope she isn't dealing with someone
like Pavayne, but I'll tell you more about him later, too."
"All right, we'll swap details on the way to Colorado. Oh, Giles
also suggested that we create an e-mail account for you, so that you can
use our laptop to keep in touch with Buffy. I take it she was very insistent
"Insistent," said Clem. "Sounds like Buffy all right."
"That it does," nodded Spike. "Guess I can handle e-mails,
"All done," proclaimed Mena. She handed Spike a change of clothes,
adamant that he change out of the ones he'd been wearing since she first
met him. As he ducked into the bathroom to change, she scooted through
the connecting door to her room for her luggage, after whispering to Xander,
"Make sure he throws out the clothes he was wearing."
"I also have a small token for both Xander and Mena," said
Tori, as soon as Mena returned. "Since I can no longer wear this,
I thought you might enjoy my antique silver cross necklace, Mena, and
hope you will think of Gilroy and me sometimes." She handed a small
box to Mena.
"And, Xander, Elias hand-crafted this redwood memory box; he hopes
you will keep it with his good wishes and that you will fill it with whatever
small tokens that might bring you good memories of your travels."
Mena and Xander thanked Tori for the thoughtful gifts and gave her warm
hugs. Then they each grabbed a suitcase and headed for the elevator. Once
they all crammed inside, Xander remembered one more thing.
"I can't believe I forgot to tell you. Giles said he bought a new,
specially-equipped SUV for us, complete with vampire-friendly glass, just
like your Viper. It was supposed to be delivered by 10:00 AM, so it should
already be in the parking garage, and they'll have the keys waiting for
us at the check-out desk."
"That's a bloody huge something to forget, Harris. And I'm telling
you right now that I refuse to give up my Viper."
"Hakuna matata, Spike," Xander giggled. "I just love saying
that and was waiting for the right opportunity to use it. It's my favorite
Swahili phrase. And I know you know what it means, too, 'cause I remember
Dawn making you watch The Lion King with her over and over again that
summer when---well, you know which summer."
"Yeah, I know what it means," Spike answered as they got out
of the elevator and headed for the hotel desk. "But what do you mean
by 'no worries' when we're talking about my Viper?"
"Giles said the new SUV will be able to tow the Viper whenever we
need to, which will be quite often, Spike. At least while we're traveling
across the country because there's no sense in buying gas for two vehicles
all the time. You can drive the Viper whenever we get situated in each
town where our mission takes us."
"That's cool," enthused Mena. "Then we can ride together
most of the time, Spike, and talk and strategize and everything."
"We'll see," grumbled Spike. "I guess we can tow the Viper
during part of the drive, but I'll need some time to myself, too. Can't
handle being around you guys 24/7. And I'm driving this specially-equipped
SUV whenever we're riding together. You really do drive like an old man,
"Yes, you do, Xan." Mena smiled and winked at Spike.
"Well," sighed Xander, becoming resigned to the fact that he'd
never win with both Mena and Spike arguing against him. "The only
thing left to do is to figure out how to return the rental truck."
Both Clem and Garret jumped to offer their services to return the truck,
so that problem was solved very quickly. The group waited while Xander
checked out of the hotel and picked up the car keys, then went out to
the underground parking garage together to find the SUV, itself.
It turned out to be a shiny, silver Toyota Land Cruiser with not only
a hitch on the back for towing, but also a luggage rack on top, a CD player,
GPS system, air conditioning, and a very roomy, soft gray leather interior.
As they were loading it up, Doc Morton arrived with a large supply of
garlic spray, darts and dart guns, and just to be safe---some of the antidote,
too. As they were about to go back inside the hotel for a farewell drink,
Elias drove up with a surprise.
"I was beginning to think you wouldn't make it," said Tori.
Elias handed over a box full of hand-crafted stakes. Some were of the
purely functional variety, but others were beautifully ornate and varnished
to a shiny gloss. Even the box, itself, was worthy of praise, and carpentry-loving
Xander was most effusive. He also raved to Elias about the beautifully
carved redwood memory box. After they added the box of stakes into the
Land Cruiser, they all headed back inside for those celebratory farewell
In a Best Western motel room just outside of Sacramento, a phone rang.
Mike reached over and picked it up, tersely stating, "Yes?"
A cultured, condescending British voice barked an order, "There's
a helicopter waiting at the airport to take you immediately to Gilroy.
A source informed us that the Watchers' Council just had a silver Toyota
Land Cruiser with vampire-friendly windows delivered to the Gilroy Inn.
There's no time to waste. Go now."
"Yes, sir," Mike replied. "Steve just stepped out to buy
us some burgers from the motel diner. I'll intercept him in the parking
lot, and we'll head for the airport ASAP."
"Mr. Sheldon is no longer with us," Sirk replied. "Your
new partner will meet you at the helicopter. I'm sure you'll see to it
that no further personnel changes will be necessary."
"Of course, sir," Mike's eyes revealed the anger seething within
him, but his voice remained cold and professional.
"Your new partner will also provide you with another cell phone.
I'm confident that this one will not log in calls to a Video & DVD
Rental in Singapore nor the Buenos Aires Perfecto Tanning Salon."
"No, sir. Will that be all, sir?"
"Do not lose sight of him again. Have I made myself perfectly clear?"
"I knew I could count on you. Off with you now."
Sirk hung up the phone before Mike could respond again, which was just
as well. Mike's teeth were so tightly clenched, he would have found it
almost impossible to speak another word. He let out a deep sigh and walked
out of the motel room, slamming the door behind him.
A litle more than an hour later, Spike drove the Land Cruiser out of
the Gilroy Inn parking garage, towing the Viper, and headed toward the
freeway to begin their journey to the western slopes of the Rockies. Although
he didn't say anything about it to Xander or Mena, Spike was beginning
to think that working together with them, at least for a while, might
be more than tolerable. It might actually be fun.