"Oh fuck."

I raised an eyebrow and hiccupped, "Wassamatta, Spike?"

Yeah; I was plastered.

His eyes not tearing from the doorway, he whispered, "You'll never guess who just sauntered on into the bar."

"Uh…." My eyes glazed over. "Bela Lugosi?"

Spike rolled his eyes, and I giggled spastically.

"No, smartass. Your boss."

"Not funny, Spike," I growled.

"You think I'm joshing?"

Reluctantly, I turned to face the doorway.

My heart stopped.

There stood a man: mid-forties, dark complexion, short, brown eyes, bulbous nose, no neck to speak of, and poor taste in clothing. The dude was wearing a neon purple button-up shirt in a vampire bar.

"Yep," I muttered, turning my attention back to my scotch, "that's my boss."

Astounded, Spike said, "And you don't care?"


"Who are you and what've you done with Genna?"

In a low, gravelly voice, I responded, "There is no Genna; only Zuul!"

"Rathbone?" my boss probed, staring at Spike and I.

"Shit," I whispered.

Leaning casually on the counter, Fang asked, "Someone you know?"

I looked up into his eyes, which were of a dark gold color, and sighed, "Unfortunately."

"Her boss," Spike clarified quietly. Turning back to me, he added, "You never did tell me how he upset you so."

"Rathbone!" My boss called again, this time much louder.

"Don't make eye contact!" I snapped at Fang, who had begun to acknowledge my boss. Redirecting my attention to Spike, I answered, "You don't want to know."

"Want me to drain the fucker?" Fang offered, a hopeful tone in his voice.

Touched, I smiled and pulled my pack of cigarettes out of my pocket. As I lit one, I hastily said, "Relax Spike; I'll drop it again once I kill this pack."

"Good," he spat. "Anyway, Fang, I wouldn't advise it. Look at the greasy git. God only knows how many STDs the bugger has. Besides, if anyone fucks with Genevieve, I'm gonna take 'em out personally." Meeting my weary gaze, he added, "You mean too much to me, love. No one who screws with you is gonna live, nor will they have an easy death. I promise you that."

I shrieked as I felt a heavy, meaty hand violently grasp my shoulder.

"Rathbone, why the hell didn't you answer me?"

Possibly involuntarily, Spike gave out a low, menacing growl and snatched his hand off my shoulder.

"Who the hell is he?"

I inhaled slowly, hoping it would calm my nerves even a miniscule amount. "He's Spike; a very close, very protective friend of mine. Spike, Fang; this is Russell Roberts, my boss."

In contemptuous silence, Spike and Fang both nodded slightly to Roberts.

Ignoring them blatantly, he began to ramble to me. "Listen, don't take what happened earlier the wrong way; I was only foolin' around."

"No, you weren't," I scowled.

Spike clenched his fists. "What happened earlier, exactly?"

"Nothin' Blondie," Roberts snapped. "Genni, you know I didn't mean nothin' by it."

"His name is Spike," I grimaced, "and my name is Genevieve."

"Didn't mean nothin' by what?" Spike persisted, leaning forward on his stool. His expression was dark, bordering between pissed and homicidal.

"Didn't mean nothin'!" I shouted in disbelief, gawking at Roberts in complete disdain. "You were all over me! Sleeze!"

"What!" Spike roared, trying like hell to not lunge at him.

Leering at him, Roberts said, "You gotta get outta here, Rathbone. No employee of mine is gonna hang with his kind."

"His kind?" Spike, Fang, and I repeated in unison, through gritted teeth.

"You forget," Fang threatened, his eyes flickering like flame, "you're in a bar full of us, of which I happen to be the owner. One word from me; you're history."

Blatantly ignoring him, Roberts grabbed at my arm maliciously and stated, "You're coming with me, Rathbone. Now."

"The hell I am!" I exclaimed, digging the lit end of my cigarette into his arm, causing him to let go of me and yelp in pain. Satisfied, I jumped off the barstool and took refuge behind the counter.

Spike, however, was not satisfied.

With a horrifically malevolent snarl, deep creases set in on his forehead. His eyes flickered from their usual topaz blue to a jaundice yellow. Finally, his canine teeth elongated into a pair of menacingly sharp fangs. He had officially "vamped-up", and he wanted blood.

Roberts' blood, to be precise.

Now, under Fang's advisement, I didn't watch what happened next. I just prayed Spike would let Roberts live…just so I could remain employed. All I can tell you is: once Spike and Fang gave me the "okay" to come out, Roberts was battered and bloody on the floor.

"He'll live," Spike scowled, returning to his usual physical appearance, "but only because I didn't want you to lose your job."

"If you really wanna finish him off," Fang offered, "I can give her a job here."

"That's alright, Fang," I cut in hastily. "Too many of my friends' jobs depend on this bastard, too."

Grinning, he responded, "Very well. But if you ever change your mind, the offer still stands." Turning to Spike, who was currently wiping droplets of Roberts' blood off his face, he warned, "You might wanna take her and get outta here before the cops come, bro. Normally, I'd say we'd get ridda the body and no one'd ever be the wiser, but we kinda need this douche around."

"Thanks; much appreciated," Spike said, nodding gratefully to Fang. Firmly grasping my hand and leading me toward the door, he urged, "Come on, love; let's get you home."

"Well, tonight was…interesting," I observed, stumbling out of the bathroom and into my bedroom, after changing into my pajamas. Carelessly, I tossed my clothes into a corner. Tiredly, I threw myself onto my bed. After flattening my face against the mattress (word to the wise: BAD IDEA), I rolled onto my side.

Spike was standing over by my large oaken desk, shirtless (if only he knew just how crazy about him I was). The soft glow of candlelight shimmered on his skin; he had lit the tealight candle in my oil burner and filled it with Dragon's Blood oil. At that moment, he was idly stirring the deep red oil with his finger. He had also hooked my iPod up to a small set of speakers, evidently; I could hear "Drowning Lessons" by My Chemical Romance playing quietly with Spike singing along, barely audible.


He jumped, nearly knocking the oil burner over. Apparently, he hadn't heard me come in. Regaining composure, he exclaimed, "Don't bloody do that ever again!"

I burst into a fit of giggles, rolling onto my back. Next thing I knew, there was a small droplet of oil on the tip of my nose.

Spike sat on the edge of my bed, grinning. I sat up, wiped the droplet with my finger, and smeared it down his arm.

"Bugger," he muttered, staring at it. Then he looked at me, inquiring, "You didn't hear me…you know…singing, did you?"

Smiling, I stated, "Yes."

"Shit," he whispered, turning away.

I scooted closer to him and placed my hand in the center of his back. "Why 'shit'? You have a beautiful voice."

He scoffed. "You're also intoxicated, remember?"

I shrugged. "Not so much anymore. Seeing my boss fuck-faced on the floor of the bar is a sobering enough experience for me…did I just say 'fuck-faced'?"

Chuckling, Spike replied, "Yes, you did. Let's pretend that didn't just happen."

I nodded. "Anyway…you do have a beautiful voice. You sound kind of like…what a punk rock Justin Hayward would sound like."

He looked at me, with his eyebrows raised and his mouth twisted in a confused smirk. "A punk rock Justin Hayward? As in the bloke from The Moody Blues?"

"Well…" I added hesitantly, "…with a little Sid Vicious and Billy Idol flavor added…a punk rock Justin Hayward would actually be a strange sight…DUDE! Could you picture him with a neon purple mohawk! I would sell my soul to see that!"

"Why don't you just take Justin Hayward out of the mix completely? My voice isn't that elegant."

"The hell it's not!" I retorted. "You have an elegant flair, whether you like it or not. Besides, when he was much younger, he was frickin' gorgeous! I'd'a fucked him back then, even if it was only for his voice. Hell, I'd fuck his voice. Period."

"…I think you need some sleep, love," he said, standing up and beginning to unmake my bed.

"Fine," I groaned, also getting up and closing my blinds tight, to ensure no sunlight would enter come dawn. "But you'll have to play something more mellow," I added, nodding toward my iPod. "My Chem isn't exactly something that'll lull me to sleep."

"Understandably so," he conceded, blowing out the oil burner and beginning to fidget with my iPod. "Shall I sing it to you?" he chuckled, smiling wryly.

I sighed, rolling my eyes as I crawled under the covers. "If you wish, but I'm too tired to fuck your voice tonight; sorry."

He laughed quietly. "Expected as much." As he got in bed next to me, "Silent Lucidity" by Queensryche began to play.

My heart skipped a beat as he wrapped his strong, smooth arms around me and kissed my cheek.

"Good night, Spike," I whispered, trying to mask the tremors in my voice.

"Good night, Genevieve," he whispered in reply. Then, gently, he sang:

I will be watching over you
I am gonna help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
I'm smiling next to you
In silent lucidity….