Chapter 10: Hands Clean

This could get messy
But you don't seem to mind
Just don't go telling anybod
And overlook this supposed crime

"Now what?"

Spike groaned as he flipped over and put a pillow over his head. "Can we talk about that later? I would like to spend a few more hours in blissful denial."

I grabbed a pack of cigarettes off the nightstand and held one in front of the pillow where his nose would ordinarily be. There was a moment of soft sniffing sounds, until his hand came around and groped until he fixed in on his target. He whipped the pillow of his face and immediately lit it up. "In about 15 minutes, the sun is going to peak over the horizon," I said as I lit up my own butt. "Then it will be The Morning After. I think we should try to get a jump on it. The only thing we have going for us is the element of surprise."

Spike laughed slightly as he sat up right, back against the wall. "Listen to you, getting all tactical. You sound like Vicious."

Awkward pause.

"And there's a good place to start," I sighed.

"Well, to be perfectly honest I don't think we should be advertising anything to anybody. We still don't know what the hell is going on and if they knew we were...whatever, then they would try to play us off each other."

"They're gonna do that anyway."

"Yeah, well. Let's not make it any easier for ‘em," Spike grumbled.

"So what about Vicious?"

"I don't know! I have no clue. You would know that better than I would," he practically pouted.

"Bullshit. You've known him since...forever."

"Yeah, but not the Biblical sense."

"Well, regardless I'm going to break it off with him," I decided in that second.

"You think that's a good idea?"

"So, obviously you're for the secrecy thing."

"Well, if you just suddenly break it off out of nowhere it might look suspicious."

"Oh, Ok. Then I guess I'll be off now to give him a ritual shagging. Don't want to rouse suspicion. I'll see you later, Spike," I chirped, though I made no move to get up. His face in that moment said everything that needed to be said. His face said, "I don't think I would like that."

"I don't think I would like that," his mouth caught up.

"Me neither, particularly," I grumbled, leaning my head on his shoulder. It was a simple gesture, but one that never once occurred to me to make in the several years I had known Vicious. He seemed to find simple things a distraction. Maybe he had a point. "We're not going to survive this," I said softly, the realization just popping into my head.

Spike sighed and pressed his forehead on mine. "I know."


Forget my own ridiculous drama for a moment, things in the Red Dragons in general were equally insane. Though we kept a low a profile as possible, I honestly think Spike and I could have made all the kissy goo goo faces we wanted and Vicious wouldn't have even noticed. We were the only two people he was pretty sure he didn't have to fear and so he focused his attention on the thousand and one other people he did.

As for who I feared? Well, that line was becoming more blurred and I could tell I wasn't the only one who was getting uneasy. The meetings that Vicious held were becoming more frequent and us Usual Suspects were always on hand in case things got rough. The odd thing was, they never did. Vicious would just strut back into the car, sadistic grin on his face and order me to drive. One of us, we unofficially took turns, would ask him how it went. And he always would say, "According to plan."

And Spike, the boys and I would all simultaneously shift our attention away from him. Because in a grand testament to how backwards my life had become, no news was the worse news there was. I would have preferred for the meetings to end in horrible massacres. I would have taken comfort in a good old-fashioned disaster. Because Vicious was supposedly meeting with our enemies and there was no reason for enemies to get on so well unless they weren't exactly enemies. And if his enemies were allies, then what the hell did that make his friends?

All of us were getting frustrated. Spike took most of his aggressions out during training, which was basically our most full-proof way of spending time together. I had explained to Vicious that he was going to teach me some of his tae-shin...whatever the hell it was that he did. Vicious seemed to think this was a great idea. In fact, he wondered aloud why he had never thought of it. Maybe in less morally ambiguous times I would have felt guilty about that, but for the time being the less I was around that man the better. He had a plan, and when Vicious set his mind to something, he was scary as hell.

"I don't know anything!" Spike growled as he kicked his training bag. I happened to be "spotting" it at the time, but when I spotted Spike it usually just meant I tried my best not to fall on my ass. He didn't know that though, simply because that stupid pride thing kept me from telling him, so he wailed away. "This is the first time ever that I have been so in the dark." Pow! "And Mao hasn't even so much as given me a passing glance in weeks." Bam!

"So talk to him," I suggested the obvious, clinging to the sandbag as it momentarily lifted me off the ground.

"How can I? I've been plotting against him for the past two months." Biff!

"No," I said, gritting my teeth. "You've been smiling and nodding while someone else plots against him."

Spike seemed to consider this for a moment, and then it was back to Wham!

"You know..." I started tentatively. "Vicious broke it off with me."

Spike froze mid-kick which caused him to whip around once awkwardly before crashing to the floor. "What?"

"You heard me," I sighed.

"You said you were gonna end it," he said in a strange tone of voice somewhere between a whine and a growl.

"And we did end it. Right after I said I would. But he broke it off with me first. I never told you because it was freaky and I didn't want to add to the mounting sense of paranoia around here."

"He broke up with you?" he rose weakly to his feet. "What did he say?"

"He said big things were happening and he couldn't afford distractions," I said the word "distractions" with a heavy dose of cynicism. If I was ever a distraction to him he certainly never let on. "He told me it wasn't permanent but he needed a break. He's doing everything he can to distance himself from us, but he keeps insisting he trusts us..."

"He doesn't trust us," Spike grumbled. "He just thinks we're pushovers." He gave the bag a quick little shove and let it swing back into his outstretched fist. "Our human emotions make us vulnerable," he breathed out in his best Vicious imitation.

I smiled slightly and wrapped my arms around him reassuringly. "Emotions aren't a distraction," I whispered to him. "They are the only things that matter."

He took my face in his hands and kissed me softly, and we allowed ourselves to be momentarily lost in the blissful void we always created when we were together. It was unfortunate that we did, because otherwise he might have noticed the thin little face watching us from the shadows.



Back to The Agent Orange Collection

Back to Main