Jan K.


Graphics and Web Design
  by Alllie

  by KathyH &

Click here to send
Click here to
read Feedback
from other readers

We'd like to extend an invitation to all of our readers to check out the site we have created at It houses a huge gallery of photos of James Marsters plus screencaps of Spike from the TV series. It also has a posting board where fans of Joss Whedon's TV series, as well as fans of the characters, actors and writers from the series, may post and read messages about a variety of topics, including our Spike: Soul Survivor series. In fact, we'd like it very much if anyone would care to discuss our series on this board. Feel free to either register and become an actual member of the board or just read and post messages there as a "guest". We have plans to add other special "extras" to this site in the future. Hope you enjoy the new site, again at:



Recommened by Alllie

I did 95% of the graphics on this page using CorelDraw Graphics Suite, mostly Corel PhotoPaint.

The Corel Graphics Suite includes a vector drawing program, a paint program as well as other goodies.

It is da bomb.


The Mission Mission
Can Leopards Change Their Spots?
Part II


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. Haya, Mena."

"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 was."

"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 in.

"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 belt.

"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 minutes.

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 Buffy wants."

"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 it."

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 that."

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! Never!"

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 disapproval.

"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," Spike emphasized.

"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 their table.

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 beer float."

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, good lookin'?"

"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 away.

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 die hard."

"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 abuse."

Spike and Mena shared a mischievous look. "Glad I could be of service", Spike smirked.

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 name?"

"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 deal, right?"

"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 overseas."

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 we, Mena?"

"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", she replied.

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 they are."

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 vamps fed."

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," Mena countered.

"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 in Sunnydale."

"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 is---I didn't."

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 mostly twisted."

"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 seconds.

"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 today.

"And even if I think they're non-violent, I'll always keep a stake handy."

"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 digs, yeah?"


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 the truck.

"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 hotel.

"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 own room."

"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 usual."

"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."

"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 vampire.

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 either.

"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 cash register.

"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 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 scoffed.

"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 wins."

"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 now."

"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 the truth."

"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 with others.

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 always fun."

"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 ineptitude.

"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 back down.

"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, 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 Demon girlfriend."

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 admission.

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 from her."

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 encore."

"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 suicide.

"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 country.

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 friends.

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 healing process.

"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 Paradise---"

"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 demons.

"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 outcasts."

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 abhorrent.

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 up."

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 it."

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 had."

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 life?"

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 few days---

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 consider it."

"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 Slayer."

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 that girl."

"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 a month.

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 & Jessica.

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 no escape.

"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 lame."

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, he was."

"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."

"No way!"

"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 monster."

"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 him."

"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 more safe."

"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 resemblance."

"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 to Buffy.

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 at midnight."

"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 Jessica.

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 vampires?"

"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 Garret.

"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 hurt."

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 for another.

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 necessary.

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 garlic darts.

"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 none.

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 few items."

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 course."

"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 about that."

"Insistent," said Clem. "Sounds like Buffy all right."

"That it does," nodded Spike. "Guess I can handle e-mails, though."

"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, Harris."

"Do not."

"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 drinks.


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?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"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.

Never Give Up - Pt 1
Never Give Up - Pt 2
The Mission Mission
   Part 1

   Part 2

Against Your Will
Just Like Old Times

The Big Ten
You Can't Always Get What You Want
The Meanness of the World -
Rated R for language and violence
Split Decision

 Gypsies, Vamps & Thieves
   Part 1
Part 2
Hearts of Darkness
   Part 1
   Part 2
Holiday images

Hoodoo You Love?
The Offering
To Dream Again - An Epilogue






Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling

Pre-order Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book 6) and receive your copy as soon as it is available. $17.99 - 40% off.

Spark and Burn
by Diana G. Gallagher

The Annotated Dracula
by Bram Stoker, Leonard Wolf

SPIKE: Dracula? Poncy bugger owes me eleven pounds

Please visit
Spike's Store
for more merchandise about Spike, by James Marsters or that we think Spike would like.



And a dark green, nondescript sedan, with a surprisingly powerful engine under its hood, followed a discreet distance behind the Land Cruiser.


End of The
Mission Mission or Can Leopards Change Their Spots? Part II



James Marsters
Nicholas Brendon
Jennifer Freeman


James C. Leary
Michael Halsey


Promo by nmcil

What ghostly adventure awaits Spike's team in Colorado?
Hopefully, nothing with a Grudge.
Will they argue over what music to play during the entire road trip?
Do the Vapor Caves have something (or someone?) in store for Spike that he may not be able to handle?
And will The Rockies rock Spike's newly-formed team off their feet?

To find out, come back
Tuesday, February 8 for our next episode,


And as always,

will be greatly appreciated.
Although we absolutely love hearing praise,
we'd also be interested in hearing any constructive
criticism you might have for our website and our episodes.
Thanks again for reading our series
and taking the time to share your thoughts.



Webdesign: Alllie

[an error occurred while processing this directive]