Spike stood in the shadows, watching as the witch and her friends left the factory with the aid of Angel and Buffy. He meant what he had said when he left the Magic Box earlier, he no longer had need for the little witch to do a love spell. Drusilla had left Spike because he had gone soft, had lost that edge that had made him a suitable companion for her. That same edge that had attracted her to Angelus, both one hundred years ago and recently while stripped of his soul. He vowed that telling Angel and his little girl friend where the witch and her friend were was his last soft deed.
On his walk from the shop to the factory his thoughts of Drusilla were replaced with ones of Buffy. Replaced was perhaps too strong of a word, superimposed might have been more accurate. The two were night and day difference, there was no comparing the two, and taking Buffy would be entirely different than taking Drusilla. Buffy could never replace Drusilla nor could Drusilla ever replace Buffy. Spike had seen that evidenced in Angel, even when he had lost his soul. He had toyed with Dru, had taken pleasure in her but it was more to antagonize Spike. Of course, Angelus got off on the pain of others so Spike had expected little else.
Spike had sensed soulless Angelus missed whatever it was Buffy gave him. It was not Buffy he missed, but love or a sense of what it was like to be human again after over two hundred forty years. Spike did not claim to understand it, he had tried as a human to understand love but other than his efforts at poetry about the elusive emotion he had failed at ever obtaining it for himself. So to have a human lover, have a human love him was something Spike could not fathom. But he realized he would be interested in fathoming it. Because being in love with Drusilla was just another version of torture and Spike was tired of torturing and being tortured. At least for now.
Spike's first thought had been revenge on Angelus for driving a wedge between Spike and Drusilla to begin with. He would take Buffy, convince her that Angel was unworthy of her. Hell, at least Spike could shag her, she obviously wasn't averse to doing it with the undead. He had heard once a human had a taste for it their interests rarely strayed from that path.
The fools wanted to deny they loved one another, which was fine with Spike particularly now. Perhaps Spike could benefit from their mutual denial of feelings stronger than friendship. If he were pressed about his sudden change of heart as to their being in love, Spike could claim a bout of drunken delusions.
There was of course the fact that Angelus was one of the biggest bastards when he was without a soul. If it were advantageous to him, Spike would not hesitate to remind Buffy of that. That and the fact she had not even received the full court press from Angelus. Yes, Spike imagined Angel's soul loomed large over the couple, waiting for the ball to drop. The first time it was sex that proved to be his true moment of happiness, who was to say that it had to be sex the next time.
As he thought of the Slayer, revenge no longer had the appeal it did earlier. Just as his desire to see her dead as he had planned when he had arrived in Sunnydale had dwindled the more he had seen her in action. Spike was not immune to her appeal. She was attractive, perky in a modern American girl way. She was not overly bright, but compared to Dru she was a Doctorate candidate. Not that that made Dru less appealing, but Spike did have to admit that caring for her and her childlike behaviors sometimes was tiresome. He was curious what it might be like to know a strong woman, one able to fend for herself, one who would not be dependent on him and therefore maybe he would not get so dependent on her like he had on Dru.
Two nights later Spike found himself standing across the street outside Buffy's house. The friend who had been hurt the other night at the factory, Cordelia, would be all right. He had actually gone to the hospital to inquire after the girl. He was not exactly sure why and refused to dwell on it. He had been invited into Buffy's home, both by Buffy and Joyce, but he stood on the street hesitant to go inside.
Buffy had not been pleased he had returned to Sunnydale, perhaps she had revoked the invitation as she had done to Angel when he had turned. There was only one way to find out. Her mother had gone out and Buffy had not yet left for patrolling. He could stand out here and moon over her like a child or get on with business.
He did not knock, he did not bother with the doorbell. He merely entered as if he had every right to be there. There was less chance of a neighbor noticing him lurking if he looked as though he belonged there. Spike was curious to know if any of Buffy's neighbors noticed that she left her house at all hours of the night and how well Joyce was thought of because of it.
He ascended the stairs quietly and found her room. His hand clutched the knob and he paused for a moment. "What in the hell are you doing," he said under his breath and let his hand drop from the knob. He could be a vindictive bastard as well as the rest of them, but suddenly he was not so sure of doing this. He did not particularly care about angering Angel, what thread of friendship they had shared once upon a time had long ago unraveled and snapped.
His eyes widened when Buffy opened the door not at all surprised to see him standing there. "Come in or stay out, just make up your mind, please."
"You knew I was here?"
"Well, no, I did not know it was you but I knew someone was. I heard the floorboard creek and Mom's gone."
"And yet you answered your door unarmed. I could have been anybody."
"If you were here to kill me, Spike, or if you were someone who was I don't think you'd have taken this long to decide whether or not you were going to knock or burst right in."
They stared at one another, neither saying anything and Spike wondered if neither knew what to say. He was unsure of just why he was here and he was quite sure she had no clue. If she did she would be holding a stake up to his chest about now.
She stepped away from the door and sat on the edge of her bed, her hands at either side clutching the mattress beneath her. She was a fairly small girl with little about her to suggest she was as strong as she was. Spike knew how strong she was and how deceptive her appearance was. Despite the apparent invitation, Spike remained standing in the doorway. He was unsure if her retreat was an invitation for him to enter her bedroom or not, and was trying to be polite. There was some semblance of the gentleman he once was left in him.
"What do you want," she asked, her head cocked slightly to the side. A gesture she used a lot, but Spike was not familiar enough with her to know what it meant.
"Your friend, she will be all right?"
"The one that fell at your dilapidated factory you mean?"
"Yes, that one."
"Well, I don't know that I would place her in the friend category, but she's fine. I have a feeling she will recover from her physical injuries faster than she will the emotional ones."
He must have reacted, must have physically given way to the fact that he had no idea what she was talking about because she continued. "Well, she found Xander kissing Willow."
"It hasn't been pretty. Xander and Cordelia broke up, I don't know about Willow and Oz. I would like to think they're strong enough but ya never know."
"I never intended for anyone to get hurt."
"You know, Spike, funny thing that I believe you. I'm glad to see though that you are not still moping around about Drusilla. You are too good for that."
"You think so?"
"Sure. If she bailed on you then it is not love, at least not the two-way street type of love, and no one deserves to be on the giving end of love and not the receiving end."
"Bet it hurt like a son of a bitch when Angel lost his soul."
She winced, averting her gaze and Spike briefly felt bad that he had to bring this point up. She had to be reminded what Angel would become should he lose his soul once more. Chances were good after spending the equivalent to hundreds of years in Hell, the Angelus that came to be this time would be hundreds time worse. The funny thing about Hell, it was similar to America's prison system, it reformed few.
He took a step, crossing the threshold from hallway to bedroom. "And to think that was before he'd spent some time in Hell."
"Is there a reason you came here tonight?"
"I struck a nerve with that one, did I? You didn't care for your beloved Angel without his soul, but you could not stop loving him, stop hoping that he would come to his senses, that a part of him would remember you, remember the love you shared, remember the moment of happiness you experienced together that caused him to change. Funny thing is, he did remember those things but Angelus hated you for them, hated that you made him feel human again even if it was only for a little while."
"You know, I wonder if he even remembers."
"Remembers the events that led up to his losing his soul once again, you know attaining that one moment of true happiness. I'm sure you remember like it was yesterday, but for him it was generations ago as far as humans go."
"Cutting a little too close to home, am I?"
"Just tell me what you are doing here. I doubt this has anything to do with Drusilla or Angel."
He laughed, his head resting against the doorframe before he pushed himself off of it in a fluid movement. Just as quickly he stood before her. His eyes met hers as she turned her face up to look at him.
"Spike, I," Spike stopped her from saying anything further by placing a fingertip over her lips.
"I am not here about Dru, Buffy. I am here about you."
She lowered her eyes and drew away, breaking the contact between his finger and her lips. "What about me?"
"I think we both deserve love, don't you?"
"I," she paused and Spike smiled at her uncertainty.
"It is not a trick question."
"Okay, yeah I suppose so. Sure who doesn't? I don't give much thought to things like love, Spike. My life is a little too complicated for such things."
"On the contrary, it's because your life is complicated that you deserve such base things," he said softly, his voice a whisper-like caress. He knew the power he could wield with his voice. He could frighten, awe, seduce, or drive a person crazy with it if he wanted to. "You definitely deserve comfort, someone to make you feel safe and be strong for you when you are unable to be strong."
"What makes you think I don't feel safe on my own?"
"You should not have to do it all on your own, Buffy, that is the point. You should have someone that can console you when you lose a battle and who can help you fight the next battle."
"I already have that."
"But do you really, Buffy? Angel cannot give you the one thing that I expect sometimes you need most, the best way to get rid of stress or the adrenaline rush I know you get while slaying. How long is kissing going to last you? You had one taste of what it could be like and that's it? You don't crave it? Tell me you don't."
"I don't think about it really."
"You should think about it. He's your friend, right, so that means that there is no reason someone else can't pursue you." She smiled, that cute little half smile Spike had seen her bestow upon Angel and others she cared about when they said or did something she found amusing. "I amuse you?"
"What? Are you volunteering for the job?"
"I was thinking about it. You seem to like vampires, why not a real vampire, without a soul who is capable of caring anyway."
"I didn't choose," she averted her gaze, leaving the sentence unfinished and Spike smiled knowing full well what she was going to say.
"You did not choose to love Angel? Well, which is it, is he your friend or your lover?"
"We're friends," she said adamantly with too much conviction.
"So then why are you surprised I'm volunteering for the job as you said a moment ago?"
"Just a couple of days ago in a drunken stupor you kidnapped two of my friends so that one of them could perform a love spell to aid you in getting Drusilla back. You went all poetic on Angel and me at the magic shop about love and what it means. And now you stand here telling me you want to be my boyfriend instead of Drusilla's?"
"I'm tired of Drusilla. The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me she done me a favor, the bitch has."
"She is a bitch, even you cannot deny that is what she is."
"No, but she wasn't my girlfriend."
"And your boyfriend is Satan's right hand man. So what is your point, little girl?"
"There is a good way to win me over, insult me and call me a little girl. I did not think you were a pervert, Spike."
"It was an expression. You are still so young."
"You and Angel love pointing that out to me when it suits you. I am old enough for you both to fuck but nothing else, is that it?"
"I never said anything about fucking, Buffy, and if that is the taste Angel left you with then it seems I need to teach my boy a thing or two about pleasing his woman."
"I never said anything about Angel. Don't read more into my statement than what it was. I am sick of the two of you, and others, telling me how young I am. Obviously, the Council sees sixteen as being old enough or I would not have been chosen when I was."
"So let's stop talking about Angel then, Buffy."
"You are the one who brought him up. For someone wanting me to forget about him you are not going about it real well."
"What is there to forget? Do you always need to forget about your friends?"
"No, I don't."
"All right then, come out with me tonight."
"You heard me. Get dressed and I will take you to the Bronze."
"You can't be serious."
"I am quite serious, Buffy. Or is it that I am not good enough for you? Having a soul is not everything you know. People with and without souls can perform evil acts just as easily as they can perform good acts. At least with me, you know what you are getting, I am not going to go shag you one minute and go postal on you the next."
The look on her face told Spike he had struck a chord with her. He had not meant to hurt her and for once believed silence was perhaps his best bet. He sensed somehow that going to the Bronze with him was not out of the question so he remained quiet. Whatever his words had meant to her could be forgotten.
But then he got a flash of something in his mind, a memory but it was not his memory. It was the connection he had with Angelus, Angelus's blood coursing through his veins. He did not see them having sex, but he could feel Angel's complete happiness and knew that this was the memory he was connecting to at that moment for some reason. And then his mind flashed to afterward, the things Angel had said, the way he had treated her with Buffy not knowing what had happened or why. No wonder she had that look on her face.
"Christ," he whispered. And she still loved him despite that. Angel had taken her innocence out of love and thrown it back in her face afterward. Angelus had to have known and could have at least for a few minutes not been his usual cruel self.
"I didn't realize vampires talked to God."
"Hmm," Spike asked clearing his mind, the memory fading. "I was not talking, I was swearing. One of the great things about being eternally damned, I can take the lord's name in vain all I want."
"I will go sign right up after that ringing endorsement."
"Sarcasm does not suit you," he said with a slight lift of his lips into a smile. Either she was not dwelling on the bitter memory his remark had brought up or she was better at hiding her pain than Spike gave her credit for.
"Yeah well, it helps sometimes."
"So will you come with me?"
"To the Bronze?"
"I believe that was my offer, yes."
"And you have no ulterior motive here? You have no plans on attacking my friends or anything?"
He laughed deeply with a shake of his head, stepping to the window which he leaned against. He crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head to the side. "Now do you really think I would invite you to come with me if that was my plan?"
She seemed to think on this a moment before saying, "no, no I suppose you wouldn't. It doesn't make much sense to invite the slayer along to your party if your game plan is destruction."
"Exactly. So this invitation is merely that, an invitation. It was the tamest of my ideas and the one you were most likely to say yes to."
"Ideas for what?"
"To get to know me, of course."
"Get to know you? Why would I want to do that?"
"Because you deserve better than a friend and I deserve better than Drusilla. You said it yourself."
"I don't know that I was exactly volunteering for the job, Spike."
"I realize that, but I am going to start my interviews with you. You got a problem with that?"
"No, I suppose not," she said, tousling her hair which Spike wished to hell she'd stop doing. She was nervous, he could smell it on her and imagined the hair thing was because of that nervousness. But still it was sexy in an innocent sort of way, particularly because he was quite certain she did not know it was sexy.
"So you will come with me then? I can't guarantee I will be much of a dance partner, but I will try."
"You are planning on dancing with me?"
"Why not? That is what you do when you go to that place, is it not?"
"Yeah, it is just," she shrugged and looked away. "Angel would never dance with me."
She looked at him again and he offered her what he hoped was a charming smile. Her eyes scanned the length of his body and he let her peruse. He had dressed casually in a pair of jeans, a white T-shirt and a black leather jacket and boots. He probably wasn't dressed for the type of dancing she was used to doing but if it was something Angel didn't do then Spike would go out of his way to try. "You are not exactly dressed for dancing."
"I was under the impression no one ever much noticed what the men were wearing, only the ladies."
"I suppose that is right. All right. You have to get out of my room so I can change, and I need to patrol for a while, too."
"I can go with you."
"You are going to help me patrol?"
He shrugged, a hand in the front pocket of his jeans. "And why not? I have helped you in the past a time or two."
"Only to save your own neck."
"Well, now I have an interest in your neck and not seeing that it is broken. Or bitten."
"Me or my little joke?"
"Your joke." She walked to her closet, Spike watched as she looked through her wardrobe for something to dress in for the evening. It was different knowing she was dressing with him in mind.
"Wear the black."
"I have a lot of black things, Spike. If you see something in particular that you want me to wear you will have to do better than that. I cannot promise I will wear it, but I will weigh your choice with my choice."
He pushed himself off the window frame and moved to stand next to her. "This one," he said, pointing to a black tank mini-dress.
Both were quiet for a moment as he ran a pale hand along the length of the dress. Spike could picture it on her and wanted to see her in it. The need was something base and primal, the dress itself bordered on inappropriate but it was nothing any less appropriate than he had seen other girls wearing.
"Listen, Spike, if you are looking for more than just dancing and some company I hate to tell you this, but I am not your girl."
He spun her around to face him, a hand on either shoulder. His body pressed against hers, forcing her against the closet door. "I am looking for you to be my date, to take you dancing dressed nicely for me, and maybe if I am lucky I will have proven myself to you enough to get a kiss good night."
"Don't count on it."
"Which part? The kissing," he said, pressing his body into hers further. His hands moved from her shoulders to either side of her head against the closet door.
"Yeah, the kissing part."
She was not nearly as cold hearted or averse to kissing him as she pretended to be, Spike could sense it. And with that knowledge came power. She had been so busy brooding over Angel that she had probably not paid Spike much attention, but he was here now and Angel was not. Spike, if nothing else, was a man who took advantage of opportunities.
They were alone in her house, her mother was out and she was currently looking up at him with eyes that betrayed her confusion. He took advantage of that confusion and dipped his head so his mouth slanted over hers. This was different than kissing Dru so he had to make a conscious effort to withhold some of his ardor. Dru did not mind a little fang against her mouth when they kissed, Spike sensed somehow that Buffy was not the same way.
It had been decades since he had kissed someone with so much gentleness, so much uncertainty. He was not uncertain of his abilities, but merely her willingness to reciprocate. His hands slid from the closet door on either side of her head down until he felt the curve her hips. He caressed her there, his hands against her hips and thighs, deepening the kiss slightly when she did not stop it. He encircled her waist with his arms and drew her against him.
"Spike," he heard her say though it didn't register right away the kiss had been stopped. He could understand why Angelus would be so bitter about her making him feel. Spike himself felt things he was unfamiliar with. Unlike Angelus, however, Spike did not believe those feelings made him less of a man - or a vampire. He drew away, his hands remaining where they rested at her hips, feeling the warmth of her body against his. He said nothing, though.
"We can't do this."
"Why? Kissing never hurt anyone."
She sighed softly, Spike felt the warmth of her breath against his chin. "You asked me to go to the Bronze with you."
"And so I did," he said softly, his chin rubbing across her forehead.
"This isn't going to the Bronze, Spike. My mom likes you, not that I know why, but I don't know that she would like you anymore if she caught us together in my room."
"Well now, we would not want to go and upset your mom, would we," he said, drawing back but not before placing a relatively chaste kiss against her forehead. "Wear that dress and I promise to behave myself for the rest of the night."
"You don't keep your promises so well, Spike."
He winked with a wide smile. "Well now, you never know this is one promise you might not want me to keep. I'll wait downstairs."
He left the room, laughing as he closed the door behind him. The look on her face told him his remark was not too far off, perhaps it was more herself she did not trust than him.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com