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Untitled Ficlet
Author: Stakebait
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Salt. Lime. Tequila. Olé.

Salt. Lime. Tequila. Spike lined them all up in front of him on the least wobbly table in the joint -- in back corner where nothing could sneak up on him, with a decent view of the room and a better of the door. Doesn't pay not to take precautions, not in a dive like this. Fresh bottle, for the same reason. He didn't drink, though. Not yet, not alone.

It's a teenager's party game, pathetic, the cheapest of excuses to touch and taste in front of a bar full of strangers. But lately Spike had relearned the disregard for privacy that comes, quite simply, from not having any.

Last time he went home to Blighty he'd laughed himself sick over tourists gaping slackjawed at the primitive castles, whole households huddled round the hearth in a single room and only the squire had a bed. Every last one of 'em was wondering "how did they fuck?" though they were too priggish to ask the tour guide. Should ask their own brats, shouldn't they, sullen-faced children, blind with desire, humping on sodden sprung sofas in basements while bad beer and laughter eddied around them?

It had been way too fucking long since Spike had been out without a minder, in without a minder, or bloody well any place with a helping hand, his own or someone else's. Chains were a pleasant addition to a night's entertainment, but a sodding poor substitute.

Spike looked around the bar again. Nothing. He had half a mind to shag the bleedin' Garkon demon just to get his rocks off -- and lord knew they were enthusiastic buggers. Still, he had his pride. Nothin' else left, but he did have that. And likely as he was to be stuck in this pathetic berg for a while, the last impression he wanted to make on the regulars was as a bloke willing to go home with a pile of boulders and a good personality.

Ah, now that was more like it. Tall, thin, all cheekbones and degenerate swagger. Human in a demon bar, which took stones. Crinkles about the eyes, infectious wicked smile, and oh yeah, so pissed it was a miracle he could still stand, let alone find this hole in the wall. When Willy won't serve you, you know you're in trouble.

"Oh yeah? See how you like being a bullfrog, ya tosser," the newcomer slurred, purple sparks crackling across his fingers. He was English, then. Things really were lookin' up.

"Oi! Mate! Free booze over here!" Spike spoke up. The man swivelled more or less towards him -- Spike spared the hips an admiring glance -- and the bolt of energy sprang from his erraticly waving hand. A neon sign from the wall behind him hopped down onto Spike's napkin. "Ribbit," it said.

"You can just piss off then," he informed it.

"Okay," it said morosely and ducked under the bench.

Meanwhile, Spike's newfound friend with the dangerous aim was weaving over to his table. The crowd had cleared a respectful gap around the ozone-scented path the bolt had travelled, but he was weaving all by himself, a sort of continuous fall and over-correction that was strangely sinuous, like a snake being charmed. Spike decided he was charmed too.

"I'm Spike," he said, holding out his hand. The grim was firm, the fingers were slender.

"Ethan Rayne," the man announced, "mage and sorceror, high priest of Chaos." He hiccuped. "And low priest of Chaos too. Chaos isn't particular."

Spike kept his voice soft and intimate. "Neither am I."

Rayne's laugh was low and throaty. It was a long minute before Spike remembered to take back his hand.

Rayne reached for the bottle and Spike slapped his hand away. "Not yet, mate. Gotta do the proper ritual. Like a bloody tea ceremony."

Rayne nodded solemnly. "Oh yesh. Ritual very important. Ritual and tea."

He really was, Spike reflected, well and truly smashed. A decent bloke would take him home and let him sleep it off, not take advantage.

Luckily, being indecent was likely to prove far more entertaining. He showed Rayne the basic body shot procedure, and the man took a shot from Spike's collarbone with all the concentration of someone planning a major offensive. His tongue flickered like a snake, and Spike shivered.

By the time Spike had drunk tequila warmed by the pulses of Ethan's throat, and sucked hard enough to bruise without earning any response but that husky laughter, Spike had no more doubts. "C'mon, mate. I've got a new home to celebrate. We can take the bottle."

Rayne blinked up at him owlishly. "Don't mind snogging a vampire in public, mate, but I don't fancy going off to get killed in an alley. No offense."

Spike chuckled. "None taken. C'mon. I promise you'll survive this. Or at least..." Spike tried to guess how old this geezer was. "How's your ticker, mate?"

Ethan drew himself up, offended. "A fiver says I can outlast you!"

"Done." He could always lift one from Rupert, not that he had any intention of letting the human win.

Spike collected his wobbling trick in one arm and the rest of the tequila in the other. Moving out of Xander's basement had been a brilliant idea, Spike decided. Already he felt like a new man.