~ by Mad Poetess [website] (with evil encouragement from James)

He wasn't lost. He kept telling himself that. Like Daniel Boone said, he was just bewildered. The problem was, he'd been bewildered for four days now, and he hadn't come across anything to eat this deep in the forest except squirrels. Spike hated squirrels.

Oh, sure. Just wander off into the forest, away from the campsite. I'm a big bad vampire, I don't have to listen to the Slayer whine about her absent boytoy just to stay in these plush accomodations. (Three pup tents and the entire Scooby Gang, in the middle of Ender's Woods, and he had to share with -- eew --Xander Harris.)

He'd fend for himself. He'd track his way by smell, find some water, hunt down some animals too small and squeaky to set off his chip, and be outta there in no time. Except it hadn't happened like that. No, instead, he'd wandered off in a random direction, crossed the river twice, fell in once, been chased by what he was pretty sure was a grizzly bear, or at least a really pissed-off raccoon, and gotten completely... bewildered.

So here he was, sitting on a stump in the middle of a forest clearing. Only sound was the cheeping of bugs that had been biting him for the last four days, little shits, and the non-beating of his heart. Only light was what he could pick up from the occasional breaks in the cloud cover, and those were too occasional for comfort. He wasn't entirely happy with the dark, not in the middle of the woods, anyhow.

Bugger all. His stomach growled, or maybe that was the bear/raccoon, come back to get him, after all. Spike buried his head in his hands. Of all the ways to go, it had to be starving to death on an unrealistic grassy knoll?

A rustle, and then another, and suddenly the moonlight was shining down on him like some big 'Here, find your hopeless, pathetic vampire here' spotlight. Since when did clouds rustle when they moved apart? Then nothing, just the light shining on him.

Moments, moments, and the sad silence was broken by the sound of Xander Harris' voice. "Um, Spike? Are you in here?"

Spike groaned. Of all the people to find him... "Yeah, I'm bloody in here. Hold on."

But the closet door opened all the way, and Xander stood there, holding an electric torch. "What the hell are you doing?"

Spike ducked his head. "I don't like the dark. So I was pretending."

Xander shook his own head. "C'mon, Spike. Angel should have the power on in a few minutes." Xander looked at him strangely. "What were you pretending?"

"I was lost in the woods. You found me."

Xander took a peek around inside. "Well, it is *Cordelia's* closet." Then he leaned over and gave Spike a kiss. "Next time, just find *me*, dummy. I won't let the monsters getcha." Then Xander frowned, which looked a bit spooky in the light from the torch. "Waitaminute. You used to live in a crypt. And you're dead! You're not afraid of the dark!"

Spike looked down at the grassy knoll, which was really a lovely green shag carpet, because of course even Cordelia's walk-in closets were carpeted. "Well... I might've been hiding. Maybe."

Xander gave him a stern look, which was even scarier. "Because?"

"There might've been a little water fight with Dennis." He shook his head at Xander, and sprayed droplets all over his lover's face.


"And it might've been near the fusebox..."

Xander sighed. "Come on, Spike. I'll protect you from Angel."

Spike sniffed, not getting off the large shoe-storage box he was sitting on. "And Princess?"

Xander nodded. "And Cordelia."

Spike got up, and took his outstretched hand. Looking beseechingly at Xander, he added, "And chiggers?"

"Yes, and chiggers." Xander pulled him out of the closet. "Wait, chiggers?"

"They bite." Spike leaned over and bit Xander on the ear. Xander looked utterly bewildered, but not remotely unhappy about it.