Chapter Rating: NC17
Spike looked up from the sight before him, his eyes filled with seven kinds of betrayal. Voice trembling, he turned around and asked, "Blink 182? What happened to you?"
First shoving the album back into the wall-length shelf, Trip then poked him in the leg. "S'called living with the times. Look into it, or at least update the rebel yell look, Billy." The eye roll in response was thoroughly ignored. "Isn't that new girl of yours ready yet? What, does she shatter mirrors without makeup?"
"Hey," Spike growled. "Anya's a gorgeous girl, and no one's going to say otherwise. S'not something she needs to hear right now. Besides...." He looked down, searching for meaning in pressed and smoothed earth. "She's not my girl. She's..." A friend. A mirror he could make out a reflection in. Non-soulmates. "She's not my girl."
"Who's not your girl?"
Both men jumped at the voice that piped up behind them. Spike swallowed hard before he turned and said, "Dru. Just catching him up on what he missed since we last talked. Say, did you just pop in here, pet? Feeling better, then?"
"Much." She smiled. "I might need another wish from you in a couple of days, but that first one really helped." She fluffed up wavy blonde hair that looked sunny even in rain and exposed bulbs. "And he didn't know about Drusilla? Didn't she dump you years ago?"
"Wait, she dumped you?"
Spike's mouthed twitched, but he just nodded and said nothing. Why the hell was that old hurt coming back up?
Curiosity was plain on the dwarf's face. Anya turned to him and explained, "She knew that he loved Buffy. We talked about it on the drive, or I wouldn't have known, either. She's really an interesting girl. I would have lost a lot of work if women felt their men leaving them like that before anything actually happened, though."
Now he was looking back and forth between vampire and demon. "Buffy?"
"The Slayer. That's why he left, because of their bad breakup." Ignoring Trip's chortles about getting involved with a Slayer, Anya glanced over to Spike. He felt it more than saw it. All his attention was focused on the dirt under his boots.
The girl sounded soothing when she spoke again, or at least it'd sound that way to someone not lost in a world of dull aches that he thought he'd run away from just fast enough. "I was turned human and got engaged to someone who left me at the altar. Humans are prone to hurting the people they love. That's why we're here, and it's really helping." A sympathetic smile was flashed at him, but overlaid with pride and hope and all those good feelings for the future that had fallen out of Spike into the gnawing hole in his chest.
"Isn't that food here yet?" Anything to change the subject. Did his voice sound as odd to them?
"Should be any minute, now. Gonna go pick yourself dessert up afterwards?" Trip glanced up from shifting FedEx boxes around the table, arranging them in neat stacks. "Just go a few blocks away, don't want the cops coming by."
"Uh, yeah. But do you know where the nearest butcher shop is, mate? One open long hours?"
"Butcher shop? Don't think they've started up on cannibalism up here just yet, but you could always check." A heavy book was thrown at Spike, who barely caught it as it wobbled in his grasp. "Yellow pages. Hey, you guys planning to do anything downtown while you're here? I've got friends, I can get you free tickets."
"That would be wonderful," Anya said with a bright and easy smile. Her hair fell over her shoulder, then back again as she turned to face him. "Thank you. I'm looking forward to spending time in a real city."
Spike realized he was staring, so he quickly gathered the book up under his arm. "Gonna ring some people up, see if I can get blood tonight. Call me when the food comes."
He planted himself around the corner and rubbed at the bridge of his nose between finger and thumb. The association wasn't going away. Bloody perfect. And to top things off, he could hear the conversation that had started up between old club buddy and his one and only friend. The topic was unsurprising, but that didn't mean it didn't make his mood a fair sight worse.
"What was he like?"
"Oh, a total rebel. Real badass. I didn't want to get into the family ruby mining scene in the Catskills-"
"There are rubies in the Catskills?"
A laugh. "Not that humans know about. So I find my way to another part of the state just in time for this big music festival where we bumped into each other. Little thing called Woodstock, you might have heard about it."
"...oh. O...kay. So he's with this crazy chick in this dress straight out of a Lugosi flick, and she's just outta it. We tracked down the best supplies for me and the hippies who were the furthest gone for him, got into the music, and he basically brought me into the whole rock scene. Man, once you get into that human living, there's no going back to the mountains."
"It's nice that you had fun." Her voice brightened, into intentional humor rather than words so oddly chosen they only seemed funny. "Since that means you're around to give us a room."
Another laugh was her response. "Glad to help. Spike was my idol, even if we only crossed paths in clubs every now and then. Damn cool rebel, not a care in the world besides his girl."
A pause hung heavy in the air. "He was happy?"
"He was always in a great mood. Anything or anyone that tried to get him down, well, they could bugger right off." The dwarf never had been able to pull off the accent.
Screw it. Spike stormed out, yellow pages in hand. If they were going to talk about him and raise thoughts that should be left unsaid, he damned well sure wouldn't be around to hear it.
* * * * *
The moonlight was softer here than in Sunnydale. Rain had tapered to a soft mist a few hours earlier, when he'd come back in with pig's blood in styrofoam, and the clouds had broken up just enough to show slivers of black between the indigo. Even in the lights of a major city, more stars could be seen than in the haze of lights and smog that seemed to extend from Los Angeles to cover the entire southern half of the state.
Or maybe it was the quiet. Cars would drive by, but only the splash of their tires through standing puddles made it to his sensitive ears. There were no open windows blaring the latest pop hits, and the pedestrians had their conversations under umbrellas and in softer, more casual voices.
Without the rain, Seattle would seem just as frantic as anywhere else he'd been, he was sure of it. But with it, it was quiet. Peaceful. Too much like a home he'd left more than a century before.
Help, I'm brooding and I can't get up.
He should want to kill something, that he knew. But there was just something about this rain that washed away all those easy, simple urges and just left the man, one who was hurting like no mere demon knew how.
Maybe he should look to update his wheels, after all this passed. The DeSoto had been faithful, but she just couldn't go fast enough and far enough to take him from what he'd wanted to leave behind. Besides, when he was in it, he felt like he should be stopping off at whatever sight caught his eye and finding himself a nice snack. Waitress getting off work here, runaway there.
That thing had a lot of bloodstains.
He stared out the window for another long moment, then snarled and punched the nearby overstuffed chair. Hard. He was looking towards the future. He wasn't suffering for the Initiative's handiwork. He was free of the town that had seen so very many kickings of his ass.
Then why the hell wasn't he happy?
He turned around. Slender legs disappeared into a shirt of his she'd claimed as her own, lacking a nightgown and not having thought to buy one. It'd come as a surprise that she didn't sleep naked; she certainly hadn't minded finding that out about him.
It was those little things. Wearing his clothes like they were her own. Sounding concerned, and not just because whatever was wrong might keep him from another round. Smiling. Smiling like she meant it.
Why couldn't he have seen that in the girl he loved?
And then there was that hair. All sleek and golden, soft under his hands as he worked shampoo through it. Blonde, beautiful, long. Goldilocks was right here, she just wasn't the right one.
Life's a bitch, then you die, then the bitch gets meaner.
How, he wondered, would he go about this. Women were touchy, moreso when what you said came because you were selfish about how they made themselves look. There was no easy way to bring it up, so he just sighed and asked, "Didn't your hair used to be brown?"
Her hand reached up to touch the blonde strands. That instinctual reaction was more from confusion than anything from what her eyes showed. What a nice psyche that would be to have, to just be curious instead of waiting for the insult that had to be on its way. "Yes, a long time ago. Why?"
"Well... not that I paid much attention to you then, but I remember that. Sorta. And was just thinking it was a good look for you."
"Really?" She frowned a bit. "They said I looked good as a blonde."
"Oh, you look beautiful, luv, no question of that. It's just that... that...." Spike sighed, looked down, and then met her confused face with an apology told through the eyes. "It reminds me of Buffy."
"Sorry, s'my problem to deal with. If it earned you compliments, then you should keep it, it is a good look for you...."
"It's not like Willow was giving me compliments," she said with a soft laugh. "Just Xander. He liked the long blonde hair." How could she mention his name with barely a flutter to her voice? The girl must have a backbone of solid titanium.
"Right, then. It's just me, I'll get over it, no need to even bring it up." He broke off whatever it was he was going to say to back out of this with minimal embarrassment when he saw her slowly walk to the nearby window. Her image reflected against the blackness of night.
She stared at her hair in the window for a few seconds, cocking her head back and forth. All expression began to leave her face as she did. "It does look like Buffy's."
"Well, s'not like you ever noticed it before I pointed it out-"
"Xander fawned over the blonde hair." She let out a laugh that fell somewhere between bitter and giddy. "Xander loved my Buffy hair. How stupid was I? 'No, we can't tell anyone that we're engaged! Buffy has only been dead for four months!'"
Spike felt the beginnings of another headache. If he wasn't able to move on, then he'd make damned sure no one else could, either. Wanker, pillock, complete and total arse. And he'd known the whelp was undeserving, but this took the cake and punch besides. Not that he could blame him, not to the extent he'd earned, but still. Bastard.
She was just standing there, staring at the window. Not angry, not sad, just... thinking. About things that had to be anything but pleasant. It was time for a distraction.
"Something I've been wondering... why didn't that wish work?" Anya just stared at him in brow-furrowed confusion, so Spike sighed and added, "The one about the poof. Why couldn't you mojo up my grandsire?"
"Uhh...." Now her nose was scrunched up. "What did you ask?"
"You don't remember the wishes people ask you?" Spike asked, stunned. That was a whole lot of vengeance that had fallen off the books.
Irritation was plain when she responded, if mild. "Well, I was sort of passing out into potential death at the time, you know. I wasn't really focused on the specifics of the moment."
He gave a half nod at that. "Fair enough. All right, then... it was a wish for him to get the same treatment as he gave me. Wanted to see the thing he cares about get taken from his life forever, too."
"Oh, that!" Anya looked at him for a second, closed her eyes, then finally shrugged. "Well, I can't grant a wish that's already happened. You get into this whole time flux thing and there's paradoxes and it's generally just a big mess." She waved her hands around in front of her chest in the universal sign language for chaos, but slowly let them drop to her sides. "...Spike? What's wrong?"
Could his face go any whiter than it was? It had to be, for she looked genuinely worried about him. Could blood pound in your ears without a pulse? If not, he was doing a good job of imagining it. "Call Sunnydale." It came out in a whisper. "Call anyone. Now."
"What?" Disbelief was dripping from the word in great, heavy drops.
"Call them!" he roared.
Anya backed up a step. "We left them behind. I don't want to call anyone and maybe have them figure out where we are-"
"Call them," Spike repeated. His voice was lower. Dangerous. Terrified beyond measure. "I don't care who. Call them."
Anya looked at him for another long moment, then turned on her heel and scurried away. Once her soft footfalls had rounded the corner of the hall, Spike sank down into the chair and let his face fall into his palms, trying to force back all the terror and anguish that was bubbling up.
Hadn't run nearly fast enough.
There's a traitor here, but far more than his chest was breaking. He hadn't run nearly fast enough to say this didn't matter.
The rain had started up again, and the sound of the drops hitting the roof in gentle syncopation was almost peaceful. It made him want to cry.
Continued in Chapter 10