Summary: Set between S4 & S4 of Buffy.
Spike licked his lips. "And then what?"
Ethan tapped his glass suggestively, and Spike gestured impatiently for another round.
"Put it on my tab," he told Willy.
"But you don't have a tab!" the little weasel protested.
"You have a throat," Ethan observed. "Do you want to keep it?"
"Awh, Spike can't do nothin'. He's chipped. Everybody knows--" The sudden squeak that ended the sentence was probably attributable to the knifepoint twisting against Willy's windpipe.
"He is. I'm not." Ethan said in a bored tone.
"On your tab. Right you are, Spike my old buddy!" Willie said. The knife was gone as suddenly as it appeared. Spike smiled.
Ethan took a draught of the newly arrived Guiness.
"Get on with it, mate, there's only 8 hours till dawn," Spike urged impatiently.
Ethan arched an eyebrow. "Where was I?"
"Taking the piss," Spike supplied obligingly.
"Oh, yes." Ethan dragged the silence out a moment longer before he let his grin widen into something distinctly predatory.
"The containment field came down when their budget ran out. They'd planned for that, had a whole scheme set up for putting the demons down. They told me of course because I was human, up for a mere transfer to a more standard military prison. They got to like me. Played poker with me on the night shift. I can be very charming, you know."
Spike growled. "I remember."
"Unfortunately they found they'd been off by a day. Dreadfully careless, that. After that they found their personal shields' battery packs had been left unchanged. Shortly after that they found their vehicles had developed an absolute rash of flat tires and dead batteries. After that they found out how fast a rachtethar demon can run."
Spike could practically taste the blood in the air. "How fast, mate?"
Ethan's matching smile was sharp enough to cut. "Fast enough. They shouldn't have been stupid enough to play games of chance with a Chaos mage. All it takes is a small sacrifice, and you've got yourself a ritual." For a second his face went tight with remembered pain.
"What did you sacrifice?"
"None of your bloody business," Ethan said, his tone even. He leaned in. "So... want to play poker?"
"That depends," said Spike, "on what you're prepared to bet."
The knife appeared again from Ethan's sleeve, and the heady scent of fresh blood mixed with hops and sulfur. There was a thin red line across the sorceror's palm.
"If you win, dinner's on me."
"And if you win?"
"You give a present to an old friend."