|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Let’s Get Ready to Ruuuummmbbblllle!!!
In his effort to secretly help Bess, has Spike put the rest of his family at risk?
MacKenzie Verity Weckerly born October 9th, 2010
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble / Ya’ll Ready For This? http://youtu.be/uAIAET2e2y8
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
Thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter. Any mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling ...
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
(Thanksgiving) Thursday, November 25th, 2010, earlier that day.
Just after Hank arrived – Spike and Clem go to the grocery store to get *real* potatoes and stuffing:
“You sure you can remember everythin’?” Spike questioned as he pulled the DeSoto up in the nearly deserted parking lot of the Super Wal-Mart. Apparently the ‘shopping on Thanksgiving Day’ idea hadn’t quite caught on yet, thank goodness.
“No problem, pal. Mind like a steel trap,” Clem assured him, tapping a long, sharp fingernail against his temple as he got out of the car and headed into the store to get the required items.
“That’s what I’m afraid of … rusty and illegal in forty-seven states…” Spike moaned, wishing he’d thought to bring a blanket or something with him so he could go into the store with his friend.
Spike sighed and channel-surfed on the radio as he waited for Clem, finally joining in with The Sex Pistols singing ‘My Way’ as he watched for Clem to come out of the store.
Suddenly, all four doors on the Desoto swung open without warning, bathing Spike in sunlight. He screamed and lunged away from the deadly, burning rays towards the middle of the seat. Before he knew what was happening, someone, or something, had him in a chokehold from behind and there was a demon in the front seat on each side of him, holding his arms and legs still and pinning him to the seat.
“I’m sorry to have to interrupt your holiday, Mr. Spike,” a demon from the backseat began, his voice low and gravelly, his demeanor calm and polite. “But I don’t seem to be getting your attention…”
“Mr. Shark …” Spike choked out past the demon that had an arm across his throat. Judging by the strength it had, Spike guessed it was a Fyarl demon, just like the two that now flanked him in the front seat. “We had a bloody deal!” Spike reminded the demon.
“Operative word is ‘had’, Mr. Spike, past tense, but you haven’t been holding up your end of the bargain. Nothing personal, it’s just business,” Mr. Shark retorted.
“I’ll get you the bloody money, I just need a little more time,” Spike insisted, his voice low but adamant as he struggled against his captors.
“Time … yes, well, I’ve given you time, Mr. Spike … almost four months now. If we were dealing in kittens, I’d have nothing but a bunch of stray cats on my hands that the SPCA wouldn’t even take,” Mr. Shark informed him. “Now, I did you a favor when you needed it. Despite my better judgment, my brother vouched for you and I helped you out. I’ve been patient, but unlike you, I’m not immortal, so I can’t wait forever for my money.
“Mr. Spike … I’m not an unreasonable man, and I intend no harm to your lovely wife or children on this day of thanks,” the loan shark assured and threatened at the same time, using a friendly tone. “But I’ll be expecting you next week, fifteen thousand and we’ll call it even … otherwise, well … let’s just say that I won’t be so understanding next time we meet…”
“Touch ‘em and die,” Spike threatened, still struggling in vain against the three Fyarl demons that were holding him prisoner.
“Oh … no, that’s quite unlikely. You think these three are the only muscle I have?” Mr. Shark inquired pleasantly. “Getting to me would be like getting to Don Corleone – you aren't fool enough to try that, Mr. Spike.
“Now, I really hate these unpleasantries, but it’s you that’s made it necessary – you’ve brought this on yourself by welshing on our deal,” Mr. Shark explained.
Spike growled at the shark. “I told ya before, you’ll get your soddin’ money!”
“And I believe you, because now you know I’m serious … and I know where to find you, and your lovely family,” the shark cajoled with an easy smile. “I know a few Grox’lar Beasts who would pay a handsome price for a redheaded infant – redheads are in high demand, they say they are a powerful aphrodisiac. And then, there’s a clan of Howler demons that would be forever in my debt if I were to deliver a pre-pubescent female child for their upcoming ritual sacrifice.”
Spike growled dangerously and struggled harder to get free of his captors, but with three Fyarls holding him, he was just pissing in the wind.
“I’ll be expecting you, and my money, next week, Mr. Spike … don’t let me … or your family, down,” the loan shark advised congenially before he got out of the car. The large demon on Spike’s right hit him in the face with an iron fist, rocking Spike’s head back and blackening his eye, then the one to his left slammed his forearm against Spike’s mouth, bloodying his lip. To add insult to injury, the one on the right slammed a bony elbow into Spike’s ribs, doubling the vamp over.
As Spike was trying to get the little cartoon birds to stop circling his head, the demons exited the vehicle as quickly as they entered, slamming the doors closed and leaving him alone as Sid Vicious crooned, “♫ There were times, I’m sure you knew, when there was fuck, fuck, fuck-all else to do …”
Spike wiped the blood from his mouth, closing his eyes and banging his fists on the dash of the car in anger and frustration. “FUCK!” he screamed, barely able to keep himself from kicking the windshield out as he raged against the only thing available, his beloved DeSoto. Spike let out a litany of curses as he pounded down on the seat and up on the roof and kicked the floorboards until he had no seething energy left and, despite not actually having to breathe, his breath came as ragged gasps of anger and frustration.
Spike had borrowed money from the loan shark as a last resort to help Bess, without telling Buffy. He knew Buffy wouldn’t object to helping their daughter, but she’d want to take it further, she’d want to go to her, especially after he found out Bess was in jail, and Spike didn’t think that would be a good idea. They’d been fighting so much at that time, mostly over money, and he just didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire, so he simply didn’t tell her any of it.
He’d first borrowed just enough money for the repairs to the Harley, but when Bess didn’t come back to get it, he started checking around and found out she’d been arrested. So, he went back to the well and borrowed more to hire a decent attorney for her, one that he was sure wouldn’t give up, even if his daughter did. He thought something would break ‘soon’ and he’d be able to pay the loan back. He’d gotten nearly half of what he owed when he went to Las Vegas, but Buffy discovered the cash in his jeans the morning after he got home and she was so ecstatic about being able to make payments on all their bills for once, that he just couldn’t find a way to tell her he needed it for something else. Unfortunately, going back to Vegas was impossible … they accused him, unjustly in Spike’s opinion, of counting cards and banned him from the casinos there.
The interest on the loan had been compounding quickly and the total owed was, according to Mr. Shark, up to fifteen thousand now … it’d take Spike half a year working at The Fish Bowl to earn that much, even with overtime.
Spike jumped when the rear passenger door opened and Clem set the grocery bags in the backseat. When Spike realized it was just Clem, he took a deep breath to try and calm down and slid back over under the steering wheel.
“What happened?” Clem asked when he got in the front seat, looking between Spike and the dented and cracked dash.
“Angry puppy,” Spike growled as he started the car.
“Oh … Mr. Shark, huh?” Clem assumed. “I told you…”
“Yeah, yeah … don’t need no bloody sermon from you t’day,” Spike hissed as he maneuvered the car out of the parking lot.
“You’re gonna have to tell the Slayer…” Clem advised.
“No, I’m not and neither are you. Keep your bloody mouth shut – I’ll handle it,” Spike instructed his friend.
Clem sighed and shrugged. “How much is it up to?”
“Hooo boy … where are you gonna get …” Clem began.
“Don’t worry about it …”
“Ok, buddy … I hope you know what you’re doing. Mr. Shark is bad news if he thinks you’re jerking him around. I heard he killed a whole family of Tranjck demons … and they only owed him five…” Clem warned.
Spike drew in a ragged breath and blew it out loudly. “I’ll take care o’ it.”
“You’re gonna have to tell Buffy something … your face isn’t as ugly as it was when we left,” Clem informed him.
Spike rolled his eyes and snorted a soft laugh. “No worries … not the first time I got beat up at the soddin’ grocer’s.”
That evening, after telling Buffy he was going to work and admonishing her to stay home:
Spike headed down towards the docks, towards The Fish Bowl, but turned onto Waterview Avenue and followed it along the crowded waterfront, past the wharf, past docks and piers and the large cargo and fishing ships moored there, into the heart of the seaside industrial district. The old section of town near the docks was littered with long defunct canneries, fishmongers, and import/export businesses that folded when the ‘Made in China’ label graduated from gaudy trinkets and transistor radios to wide-screen tellys and pirated DVDs. The DeSoto looked decidedly out of place parked alongside limousines and Lexus’ and the occasional Lamborghini and Ferrari that lined the dark, narrow streets … or perhaps it was the other cars that were out of place. Spike briefly wondered if he should lock the DeSoto, then snorted sarcastically as he looked at the new red Thunderbird hardtop convertible parked in front of him and the classic, 1956 Corvette behind … he decided Vader would be safe.
Spike followed the others, women in their furs and diamonds, men in tuxes or three piece suits, as they made their way past one abandoned, anonymous, red brick building after another. They looked as if they were headed for a big Hollywood movie premiere, or perhaps going to the Oscars or a high society ball; Spike felt like there should be red carpet lining the sidewalks; the truth of it, however was much different. As they walked past the old cannery, glass from the broken windows crunched under their feet; Spike could still smell the odor of stale, rotted fish wafting out from the once thriving business. He looked up at the haphazardly broken windows, which seemed to look down on them with contempt – its life apparently over while theirs continued on. After walking some blocks on the otherwise deserted streets, the small league of prosperity finally ducked down an even more narrow and dark alley that led to their destination. Spike followed, hugging the wall, as he watched the wealthy patrons hand their ‘by invitation only’ tickets to one of two heavily armed, mountainous men that guarded an unimpressive and unmarked entrance into one of the nondescript warehouses. Behind the men, two Fyarl demons stood on either side of the door as backup; getting in that entrance without an invite and a $1,000 ticket would be suicide.
Spike continued walking, out of the alley and around the block to the back of the building. The security here wasn’t nearly as tight. Most of the gladiators were already inside, but a late arrival gave Spike the opportunity he needed. Spike inched forward as the Brachen demon slid his key-card in the electronic lock and pulled the door open quickly before sprinting inside. Spike caught the door just before it closed again and crept in unseen.
Once inside, he looked just like any of the other competitors gathered for the special holiday event. Spike straightened up and put on his best ‘Big Bad’ demeanor and acted like he belonged there as he meandered through the hallways, past the locker room and towards the office.
Spike didn’t bother knocking, but rather just opened the promoter’s door and stepped inside, closing and locking it behind him quickly. You’d think the promoter of a ‘No Holds Barred’, extreme demon mixed martial arts fighting championship would be an impressive specimen of power and strength, but, no. In fact, the human behind the desk looked like he would be more apt to be an IRS auditor than a promoter of perhaps the most brutal and physically demanding sport known to man or demon. The man was in his mid-fifties and stood, at best, five-foot six, had thinning mousy brown hair with evidence of failed hair plugs on the top, his small frame and gaunt cheeks reminded Spike more of a concentration camp survivor than one of the wealthiest and powerful men in perhaps all of Southern California.
The man looked up from his computer when Spike stepped in and casually leaned back in his chair, pulling his wire-rim glasses off and dropping them on the desk before folding his hands behind his head. The old brass name plate on the desk read Mr. Andreev … mostly everyone just called him ‘Boss’.
“Spike,” the man greeted the intruder amiably. “I told you I’d call you…”
“Somethin’s come up … can’t wait any longer,” Spike explained to the promoter, moving further into the office and up to his desk.
The smaller man shook his head. “I have all the lightweights and welterweights I can use … more than I can use,” the man explained, waving a hand at his computer screen.
“Then put me in middleweight or heavyweight…” Spike suggested. “I don’ care … I’ll fight a bloody mountain if I have to.”
Mr. Andreev shook his head sympathetically. “Spike … you don’t understand. My customers demand more than just a fight, they expect an exhibition in brutality – they want competitive bouts … not two hits, him hitting you and you hitting the ground.”
Spike shook his head. “Won’t be like that … I’m tougher than I look, taken on plenty of bigger blokes and won – I’m just asking for one chance. If I can’t cut it, then … fine, you won’t see me ‘ere again.”
The promoter sighed and crossed his arms over his chest as he rocked back and forth in his chair. “You’re persistent SOB, I’ll give you that …” he admitted, fingering his chin as he thought.
“Tell you what,” Mr. Andreev began after a few moments of contemplation. “I’ve got one middleweight guy that’s under the weather … I’ll pull him and put you in in his place.” The promoter shrugged. “You can’t be any worse than a vomiting Regurgitating demon with a fever and a stuffy head.
“You’ll be fighting Salvatore, a Grox’lar Beast …”
Spike brightened and stood up taller, a triumphant smile gracing his features. “Brilliant! When do ya’ need me?”
The man looked at his watch. “Put you up first … half an hour,” he informed Spike and Spike’s face fell.
“What’s the matter – you said you wanted a chance … didn’t want to wait,” Mr. Andreev pointed out.
“Yeah … no, right – I just don’t have any gear …” Spike explained.
“There’s no gear. Use what the good Lord … or whoever gave you – no shoes, no gloves … fists, fangs, feet …” the promoter explained. “There’s no referee, there’s no rest – no time-outs or standing eight-counts. There’s you and him and a pit. When one of you is unconscious or dead, the bout is over. There are no rules, there are no fouls, there is no mercy.
“You sure you still want to do this?” the smaller man questioned, looking at Spike expectantly.
“And how much do I get if I win?” Spike asked.
“First fight you win, you get a thousand dollars; after the first, you get two thousand per bout you win. If you win three in a row, you’re eligible for the Championship Tournament. The winner of that gets half a million, but there are no weight classes in that at all – it’s usually won by a heavyweight – in fact, it’s never been won by a welterweight,” the promoter explained. “Of course, you can make more by betting, but you can only bet on yourself, not your opponent. If I catch you placing bets and throwing bouts, you’re out … and I will catch you, have no doubt about that. I have eyes and ears everywhere.”
“Half a million … dollars?” Spike questioned, his voice cracking several octaves higher than normal. He knew the demon version of the UFC paid well, but he had no idea how well.
“Yeah … kittens are just too much trouble – they turn into cats that the SPCA won’t even take…” Mr. Andreev explained dismissively, repeating Mr. Shark’s problem with using kittens as currency.
“I’m in,” Spike assured the man. “You won’t regret giving me a chance!” he assured the promoter.
“I’m sure you’re right … but chances are, you will. I’ll get a clean-up boy to find you a locker and get you de-coned … you got twenty-five minutes now,” the man informed him, standing up and heading out into the hall to find said boy.
“‘De-coned’?” Spike questioned following behind him.
“Oh … sorry, decontaminated…” Mr. Andreev explained. At Spike’s confused look, the man explained, “Magical decontamination. If you have any talismans or amulets on you anywhere … and I mean anywhere, you need to leave them in your locker. Some guys think they can come in here with protection spells or strength spells, even had one try an invisibility spell … I can tell you right now, that’s not gonna happen – the de-con chamber will cleanse them and any talismans on you anywhere, even hidden inside, will explode. It’s not a pretty picture when some smart-ass thinks they can hide it by swallowing it … ever seen Alien?”
“Yeah, well … it kinda looks like that when it explodes inside your stomach…”
The clean-up boy turned out to be a thin lad of about thirteen or fourteen years old and, if Spike had to guess, was Vietnamese and most likely illegal; he introduced himself as Raj. After getting Spike a locker, and running him through the decontamination chamber, he offered Spike a tour of the facility. Spike declined the tour and instead sent the boy to find out what the line was on him at the betting windows.
“Fifty to one,” Raj reported with a thick Asian accent, out of breath from running … there was only ten minutes left before Spike’s fight was set to begin. Spike pulled out all the cash he had in his wallet and pockets, $104.79, and gave it to the boy to place the bet for him.
“Run!” Spike instructed him as Raj clasped both hands tightly around the bills and change and lit out for the bookmakers upstairs. If Spike could win, he’d not only get the $1,000 from the promoter, but over $5,000 in winnings … that would go a long way to paying off his debt to Mr. Shark and should get the ‘banker’ off his back until he could come up with the rest of the money. He wished to God he had more money to bet, he knew if he won this fight, the odds would come down in the future, but he didn’t have any time to rustle up any more funds or even call Clem … and calling Buffy was out of the question, even if he’d had time.
“You’re up,” another clean-up boy informed Spike and Salvatore, the Grox’lar Beast, who had a locker on the next row.
Spike stood up and rolled his head around, cracking his neck, then popped all his knuckles loudly – showtime. Grox’lars weren’t known for their stamina in a fight, but Spike didn’t want to underestimate him; Mr. Andreev wouldn’t have him here if he couldn’t compete. Grox’lars were strong and had long claws and horns that could do some damage and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth and extremely strong jaws, which they typically used for devouring their favorite food – the heads of babies – apparently redheads were a prized delicacy, at least according to Mr. Shark.
Spike and Salvatore danced around the ring, loosening up … well, it was more of a pit than a typical boxing ring, with rough stone walls about twelve feet high. The top of the pit was surrounded by a clear, three foot tall, Plexiglas safety railing and behind the glass were the by-invitation-only, $1,000 per head ticket holders. The floor of the pit was well worn, blood-stained granite … there was no cushioning mat or canvas to break a fall – if you went down here, chances were you’d stay down.
Spike felt very much like he had in the white room in the dungeon, the warriors on the field of battle splayed at the feet of the rich and powerful. He studied the faces looking down on them as the announcer introduced the two contenders and he saw unabashed desire in the human’s eyes… a desire for blood, for brutality and violence. They lived monotonous, white-bread lives, the only chances they took were in the stock market or in their fast cars, the closest they got to a bloody nose was if the air got too cold and dry at the ski resort or if they walked headlong into a sliding glass door in the dark. So, once a week, they dressed up in their pearls and diamonds and bow ties and came to see how the savages lived – they came to get the rush of the violence without actually having to dirty their hands or bloody their noses with it.
Spike snorted derisively and turned his attention to his opponent. The Grox’lar had at least five inches on him and probably thirty or forty pounds – his biggest advantage was his reach, which, including his claws, was probably six inches further than Spike’s. But he was slower than Spike, not nearly as agile or light on his feet, and his eyes were more to the side of his head, he couldn’t see straight on very well – those would be the weaknesses Spike would have to take advantage of.
The announcer motioned for the two fighters to come to the center of the ring and bang fists to begin the bout. As the two demons approached the center of the ‘ring’, Spike extended his closed fits towards the beast, just as the announcer backed away and headed for the only exit. But, instead of touching fists with him, the Grox’lar swung a clawed hand at Spike’s chest. Spike leaned back, going for a gravity-defying Matrix move, but instead fell backwards, landing on the hard floor with a thud; the beast’s claws only grazed his shirt, leaving four long tears in the fabric. Spike’s demon surfaced, more in anger at the cheap shot than anything else, and Spike let out a deep growl – the fight was on.
The larger demon stepped forward, lunging at Spike’s prone body, but Spike scissored his legs and tripped the Grox’lar before springing back to his feet. The beast fell to his hands and knees and before he could get back up to his feet, Spike twirled and kicked him in the face with a brutal round-house kick. Several of the sharp teeth flew out of the demon’s mouth and bounced off the wall of the pit and the Plexiglas, leaving purple blood stains dripping down the clear railing.
The audience inhaled sharply, then cheered as the first blood was drawn and the beast’s teeth clattered against the glass. Despite the Grox’lar making the first move, Spike had now become the aggressor, pounding down on the injured beast with his fists, trying to avoid the hard, sharp horns on his opponent’s head. Salvatore roared in anger and again swung a clawed hand at Spike’s midsection, but Spike jumped back, reflexively sucking in his stomach, and again the claws only caught fabric, not flesh.
As Spike caught his balance, the beast clambered back to his feet and turned in a slow circle as Spike danced around him, hands in guard position, all senses on alert, looking for another opportunity to strike.
“C’mon then,” Spike taunted. “Show the good folks what ya’ got…”
The beast growled and lunged at Spike again, swinging his sharp claws at Spike’s face. Spike ducked under his opponent’s arm and drove forward with his legs, catching Salvatore around the waist and driving him backwards all the way across the ring and slamming him against the stone on the opposite side. The beast screamed out in pain as all the air was knocked from his lung and he dug his claws into Spike’s back in an effort to dislodge the smaller man.
Spike’s roar of pain joined Salvatore’s, echoing off the walls of the pit and spiraling up to the crowd above, who continued to cheer the warriors on. Spike instinctively pulled back from the stabbing pain, but that tore eight long, deep gouges of bloody tissue out of his back as the beast’s claws raked savagely over the vamp’s flesh. Spike shook his head to clear the cobwebs that the painful slashes had flooded his brain with as he backed away from the larger demon. But Salvatore could smell blood … literally, and rushed at Spike and drove him backwards against the opposite wall, just as Spike had done him a moment ago.
Spike growled in anger and agony when his ravaged back hit the wall, he felt and heard his spine release several small pops under the pressure, but he’d had worse done to him; it wasn’t debilitating, only irritating at this point. Spike brought a knee up hard into the Grox’lar’s groin, but it had no effect at all … apparently their naughty bits were elsewhere … Bugger.
The beast opened his purple, bloody mouth, unhinging his jaws like a snake ready to devour a much larger prey, and bit down on Spike’s right shoulder, embedding what was left of his razor sharp teeth into Spike’s upper arm, back and upper chest. Spike punched at the demon’s head and neck with this left arm to try and dislodge him, but that only seemed to anger the beast and he started shaking his head, tearing at Spike’s flesh like a shark devouring a seal.
Spike screamed out in pain and redoubled his efforts, punching blindly at his opponent’s head and body. When he hit the demon on the side of his hip, the beast released its hold on Spike, roaring in pain. Spike smirked through his own agony, he’d found the Grox’lar’s naughty bits…
When his opponent released him and took a step back, Spike swung with his left arm, landing a clean blow on the beast’s jaw and rocking his head to the side. Spike’s right arm was hanging uselessly at his side, the torn muscles and tendons unable to function. The Grox’lar recovered quickly from the blow and retaliated with a devastating punch of his own, right on Spike’s wounded right shoulder, which sent red blood splattering over the walls of the pit and all the way up to the glass railing, drawing more cheers from the crowd.
Spike nearly doubled over from the pain and the beast took full advantage, coming down hard on the back of Spike’s neck and dropping the vamp to his knees. The Grox’lar could smell victory now and he punched Spike in the right shoulder again and then followed it up with a quick jab to the vamp’s jaw. Spike screamed in agony and fell the rest of the way down to the hard granite floor and the beast began kicking him in the ribs and back relentlessly. Spike tried to roll away from the blows, but the demon followed him easily, continuing to deliver painful kicks all along Spike’s torso.
Spike felt himself losing focus … the pain was overwhelming him and the desire to simply give up was growing stronger. He tired to remember why he was here … for the money? No – it wasn’t for the money, it was for his family. ‘I know a few Grox’lar Beasts who would pay a handsome price for a redheaded infant – redheads are in high demand, they say they are a powerful aphrodisiac.’ Mr. Shark’s words echoed in his mind. He wasn’t just fighting for the pretty green paper – he was fighting for the people that he loved, he was fighting to be the man that Buffy deserved, to be the provider for his family that he’d promised her mum and her Watcher that he’d be.
He knew Buffy would love him even if he didn’t do this; that she would fight by his side to protect their family from the loan shark and his goons; that she’d probably even insist that they borrow money from Red to bail Spike out of this mess that he’d made. But now it was more about self-respect and dignity than it was about money … he wanted to show her that he could be what she, and their family, deserved.
The next time the demon kicked at Spike’s ribs, he reached out and grabbed the beast’s ankle with his good arm and yanked on it with all this strength, sending the larger opponent down onto his ass with a thud. Spike growled in pain and frustration as he pushed up with his one arm and smothered the Grox’lar’s body with his own. The beast tried to kick Spike off, push him off, but the vamp was more determined than ever and he smashed his fist into the hip of the beast, into his sensitive naughty bits.
The crowd booed Spike and tried to cheer the Grox’lar back to his feet – their bets, their hard-earned dollars were in peril now, but Spike was used to being the villain and their boos only fueled his ire. The beast writhed in pain, redoubling his effort to get Spike off him and was finally able to dislodge the smaller man, knocking Spike down onto the hard floor with a painful blow to the vamp’s ravaged shoulder. Spike clenched his jaw, fighting through the pain and struggled up to his feet, regaining his balance before the Grox’lar could fully recover from the agony still radiating from his hip.
The beast had made it only to his hands and knees when Spike took the offensive away from him again. With one arm hanging limp at his side, the vamp took hold of one of the beast’s horns with the other and, with strength fueled by his desire to be his family’s hero, he twisted the Grox’lar’s head violently. Turning his whole body to put enough power behind the move, Spike broke the beast’s neck with a loud, satisfying crunch and the demon went completely limp. That was one demon who wouldn’t be eating any more babies.
The defeated beast’s body slumped to the granite and Spike raised his good arm in victory as he stumbled back away from the downed warrior. Blood ran in rivers down his ravaged back and from his devastated shoulder and he thought there might be a crack or two in the lumbar area of his spine … but he had won.
His first fight was over … two more and he’d qualify for the Championship tournament, five more victories after that and he’d have half a million dollars for his family and his dignity back. Despite most of them losing their bets, the crowd roared and whistled as Spike turned in a slow circle, looking up at the suburbanites and beachcombers and millionaires who were, ultimately, the ones who would be paying him that half million. Ripped, worthless betting tickets rained down on him like a ticker-tape parade as their monetary losses were outweighed by the brutality of the fight, which is what they really came here for. The bookmakers had won against fifty to one odds, the underdog had been victorious – well, the bookies won most of the bets, Spike’s betting ticket was gold – $5,000 plus of gold on this night.
Raj and a couple of other ‘clean-up boys’, came in to remove the defeated demon and the announcer followed them, proclaiming the newcomer, Spike, as the victor. After one last fist pump, Spike followed Raj and the others out of the pit, went back to the locker room and dropped down heavily onto one of the benches. His whole body was already starting to stiffen up and he wondered if he’d even be able to walk in the morning … but no matter, he had a week to get ready for the next fight; he could manage that.
“Congratulations, Spike, you survived your first challenge,” Mr. Andreev commented amiably as he walked into the locker room.
“Reckon I did,” Spike agreed.
The promoter began counting out Spike’s thousand dollars; laying ten, crisp hundred dollar bills down on the bench next to the vamp. “Next fight is Saturday night. Be here by 7:30 at the latest to get on the roster.”
“Saturday?” Spike questioned as he gathered the money up, folded it and stuck it down in the front pocket of his blood-stained jeans. “Thought the fights were once a bloody week.”
“Yeah … on Saturdays. This was a special night – just for the holiday,” the small man explained. “You can skip a night, but you have to have three wins in a row to get into the tournament – skipping a bout means you start over.”
“Brilliant,” Spike moaned slightly, trying to stretch his lower back to keep it from seizing up completely. “No worries, I’ll be ‘ere.”
“Here’s a keycard for the lock – don’t lose it,” the promoter advised, handing Spike a non-descript, red plastic card the size of a credit card.
“No worries.” Spike stuck that in his back pocket before retrieving his boots out of the locker and pulling them on with one hand then standing up and trying to get his duster on. Mr. Andreev helped him get his useless right arm into the sleeve and then held it for Spike to thread his other arm though. The promoter gingerly slid the duster up over Spike’s ravaged back until it was settled in place on his shoulders.
“I’ve heard that eucalyptus oil helps,” the promoter offered, cocking a brow towards Spike’s wounds.
“Jus’ need some rest … be good as new by Saturday,” Spike assured him as he pulled his betting ticket out of his duster pocket and headed for the door.
“Oi!” Spike called to Raj when he saw him in the hallway. “Where do ya cash this in?” he asked, holding up the ticket.
“Raj show you!” the boy offered with grin, waving an arm, indicating that Spike should follow him.
Raj showed Spike the stairs that led up to the rear of the betting windows. For obvious reasons, they didn’t want the fighters to mingle with the patrons, so they had their own betting window completely separate from the public windows which faced the pit.
Spike handed his ticket to the woman inside the heavily fortified booth and was shortly rewarded with $5,239.50 in cash. Spike breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the clerk inside the armored betting cage count the money out and slide it through the small slot to him. He picked it up and dropped the change in his pocket before fanning the bills under his nose … nothing smelled like money and it had been a while since he’d had this much cash in his hand at one time.
“’ere,” Spike offered, opening his eyes and looking at Raj. Spike pulled a $50 out and handed it to the boy and Raj’s eyes lit up like Christmas had come early. If not for him, Spike may not have even gotten the bet placed … that garnered a decent reward in Spike’s book.
The boy looked at the bill like he’d never seen anything so beautiful, turning it over and over in his hands before looking back up at Spike. “Thanks, Kiwi!” Raj exclaimed gleefully. “You tour now?”
“No … save the tour for next time … and I’m not a bloody ‘Kiwi’,” Spike insisted.
“Raj know! You Kiwi,” Raj insisted with a happy nod, his white teeth gleaming in a wide smile. “Kiwi Spike.”
“It’s your accent – boy’s never met a Fenian before, thinks you’re from Oz. We had a few Tasm’ni Demons from down under a couple of years ago, they taught it to him,” the woman behind the betting window informed Spike. Spike placed her accent as Brooklyn, he'd bet the Bay Ridge neighborhood, if he was a betting man. “Just go with it, honey, you’ll never win once he labels you.”
Spike glared at the woman, his jaw ticcing in barely repressed anger and agitation. Fenian? How could anyone think he was a bloody Irish Catholic ponce like Angel? If looks could kill, there would be one less employee in the betting office just about now.
Spike finally took a deep breath, shook his head, and rolled his eyes before looking back at Raj’s elated face. He reckoned he’d been mistaken for and called worse than a Kiwi … Fenian, for instance.
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble / Ya’ll Ready For This?
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