Disclaimer: I don't own any 'Buffy' characters, totally the other way
Spoilers: up to 'Entropy' - it branches off after that.
Summary: The beginning of a Spike story that picks up after he and Anya you
know what. Might turn out S/A.
Feedback: Please! Any feedback! negative, positive, violently abusive,
transparently insincere, totally irrelevant etc. - I'm easy and
His mind kept going back to what had happened between him and Anya in the
How she had touched him, his hand.
What had come afterwards had been hungry and passionate, but desperate,
with a taste of cold comfort about it, so that its memory was warm and
chilling at the same time.
But how she had laid her hand on his as he held the glass to her lips,
curled her fingers over his - when had he been touched like that?
With softness, with deliberation, with a look that was pleading and
grateful and confiding. He had never felt so human, or so greedy.
His mind kept going back to Buffy, as well. Walking away. Looking knives
and stakes and disgust at him for two beats - her usual measure for a dirty
look -and turning on her heel.
Then he'd known that he'd lost her, thrown away the last stake he'd had in
her: all his power had been in her guilty compromise in keeping him there,
closeted - her secret addiction, filthy treasure - and in her jealousy.
Had he thought he'd won something at the wedding, making her jealous of his
attention, of his body? She had been jealous - and she had been caught by
surprise, knocked for points by the bitter ambush.
Yes. He had thought so - so why was he compelled to prove himself wrong,to
give up those precious footholds?
Knowing that he - at least for an hour - had wanted Anya more than anything
in the world, seen nothing but her, held her as though she were precious,
magnetic - hadn't drawn Buffy back to him. It had shocked and hurt and
freed her. It had shown her that what she thought she held captive in him
(someone to love her insanely, exclusively, and forever; someone for whose
pain she could not be held to account; someone invisible in the economics
of love - something for nothing, in fact) - didn't exist. That Spike was,
if not 100% human, at least alive enough for another human to do just what
she'd done: take refuge, help herself to what was there. He wasn't her own
delicious narcotic, her private nightmare and dream. He was real.
Had she seen his hand trace Anya's cheek as he had traced hers, the exact
same softness melting the lines of his hard face? She hadn't - the camera
signal for the shop had not been picked up by Willow's computer until
later. But he didn't know that.
He was realizing how much Buffy liked being loved - realizing how much it
had meant to her to have so much urgent and enduring, greedy and selfless
love poured out before her. Not used, but saved, banked, to be drawn in
She had asked him to die for her, the night of the nearly-apocalypse. To
save Dawn's life, but for her, because he loved her.
In these hard times - back from the dead, but not entirely, sense of self
running low - she'd been forced to make withdrawals, damaging inroads on
her hoard of banked up love. Her rainy day had come, and she'd put her
frozen self in real danger - he had to believe this -of being dragged into
loving him in exchange.
Tonight that was all over. What he'd held, stored up in Buffy, what she'd
held stored up in him - he'd blown it all. She was free to hate him now.
Bet it feels sweet, he thought.
He knew - he felt free to hate her too, a bit. The only times he'd felt
respite this crushingly painful and stupid year had been a few randomly
scattered moments when she'd thoughtfully behaved like such an abusive cow
that rage had flooded back.
Just convenient. He'd been angry enough, for a second, to drink her blood
so fast he'd give himself hiccups.
Never lasted long. Even her arrogance was dazzling to him - pure and
perfect and complete. He could never compete. He was hopeless, he was
lost. Abusive was how he loved her.
Just before the house had come down she'd said, teeth clenched, 'You like
me because you enjoy getting beat down.' He had forced it out of her, out
of the huge store of undeniable things she refused to know that she knew.
But he had hardly noticed its truth himself: it was too near the bone -
loving and being beaten down weren't even separate ideas in his mind. He
thought of Anya. Thankyou, she'd said. He thought of her gentleness and
her gratefulness as a present. Something he'd never been given. Something
he could take away with him.
He lay in his crypt, the sober two-fifths of him confusedly expecting an
outraged caveman to burst through the door, intent on giving him a belting.
It had happened before.
No-one came, though. After a while there was no more scotch, and memories
of the last few days began to seep through the mist. He didn't fancy that,
really didn't. He'd go get something from Willy's. Some bourbon to keep
the edges off. Some overpriced juiced-up pig to remind him he's a has-been
and a doormat and a misfit.
He felt better though, after a meal. Still back-to-the-wall suicidal, still
abased and powerless and bereaved, but less shaky. Didn't care to be seen
around the Hellmouth trembling like a blossom in the breeze, sniffling like
a girl because the Slayer didn't want a little bit of pet fang any more...
he frowned and kicked a squashed pepsi max can. Big Bad.
He knew he was getting near the Magic Box, but he carried on anyway. As he
got closer, he could see lights in the window. It was late - he hadn't
really expected anyone to be there, thought this was just another piece of
pointless pilgrimage to a Buffy place. Could it be Anya in there, he
wondered? She was the most likely, it was her place now. She'd be working
late, naturally, taking her mind off the wreck, off the feeling of having
no sensitive manly beefcake to go home to.
Would she still have soft glances for him, now?
No, he thought, casting around for the facts, weighing them up. Not a
chance. He wanted to see her, though. See if she's all right, he thought.
Kind of owed her, seeing as...
He lit a cigarette, leaned against the doorframe of the shop. Watch me,
Buffy, he thought, I'm moving on. Stalking a totally different girl -uses
me for a different kind of sex to blot out the totally different ways she's
screwed up her life.
There's a noise from inside the shop; a female voice, plaintive:'damn!'
The voice decides him - it reminds him that she used it, days ago, to
confide in him, thank him, to say drunk, sugary, strangely-skewed things
softly in his ear. He's already done clinging to the fringes of a girl's
life - repeatedly, he's taken it to the limits. He'd still do it if Buffy
gave him one more fraction of a chance, one more crumb. Give him an inch
and he'll camp out in it. But he's not going to start another round. If
Anya's got no time, fair enough, he thinks. I'll get gone. Stubs out his
cigarette. Knocks and enters.
She's sitting at the table, with books and charms stacked around her -but
she's leaning on one arm, too depressed to be stock-taking. He clears his
throat, not knowing what to expect, and she looks up. He moves closer, not
sure what to say. She stares at him like he's the Russian Revolution and
slaps her book shut.
'You idiot' she says, clipped and accusing.
Her hardness doesn't crush him. He sits down, for a moment almost happy,
feeling like he's found himself another unpredictable heroine.
'Hi,' he says. Instead of 'huh?' But for some reason she's furious.
'What kind of stupid are you?' she demands.
'What's my choice?' he asks cautiously. Dru used to have these sudden mood
'You actually thought she was going to fall in love with you?' she asks
scathingly, 'I wasted all that sympathy on you! You gave me all that 'this
girl' crap, and I thought you were having a real relationship with someone,
and then it turns out it's just you, being too stubborn and too dumb to
know when you can't win.'
Her voice is cracking with bitterness and he doesn't know why. He looks
down at his hands on the table. He was unprepared for this, unarmed. No
'She could,' he says in a low voice. 'She just won't.'
Anya leans forward, holding his eyes. Hers are bright and seem further
apart than usual.
'She. Can't.' He can feel her breath.
Words pour out of her, harsh but still deliberate, still precise: 'Who do
you think you are, Spike? You're not human. You're nothing. You're a lame
demon walking around in a stolen body. You're not worth her love.'
He's speechless at these sudden, unbearable stabs. She's animated, her
gaze distracted, her voice rising.
'You think you're cool? You're just embarrassing. All your little
comments? They're not clever, they're inappropriate and rude. They're
meant to show that you're too smart to care about stuff, but they don't.
All they show is that you don't belong. You're trash. You're just a cute
piece of demon ass, good enough to screw but not to marry-'
She stops. She's been yelling. Spike's looking at her, and she sees only
concern in his face, his hurt look wiped away by alarm.
His shock brings her back to herself and she begins to cry, which relieves
Spike, who knows what to do with crying girls. He slides off his chair,
puts both arms round her, kisses her, wipes her face with his sleeve, calls
her darling and pet until she's quiet.
He sits back down and she sniffs. There's a pause and then Anya gives a
weak smile. 'Aside from that,' she says, 'Glad you stopped by.'
He smiles sideways up at her, awkward after the sudden explosion of
tension. It's exactly like that other aftermath in the showroom of the
Magic Box, only all the merchandise is intact. He sees her noting that
'Thank heaven for small mercies, right?' she offers him ruefully, wiping
her nose. He's about to offer her his flask when they hear a voice:
'Hey, come on, the light's on - we'll get you some water.'
It's Xander, from just outside.
She freezes; he stands up, makes for the back room, but she stops him.
'No time,' she breathes sharply, and pushes him behind the counter and
Great. He'd been romanticizing, thinking they'd been villains in exile
together, demons in love. He's just a skeleton in another Scooby closet.
The pulse at Anya's throat is fluttering like a canary in distress while
she watches the door open. He'd been fooled by her anger -he'd thought it
was resentment: it wasn't; it was fear that she wouldn't get him back.
Xander comes in, one arm around Dawn, who looks pale and boneless. When he
sees Anya he looks down.
'Hey,' he says - she doesn't look like she can speak. 'We - uh - we were
just walking, and Dawn isn't feeling too good, so - I thought, maybe, some
Nothing clever. Barely even anything coherent.
Anya looks at Dawn, half-leaning on Xander's arm. 'Are you ok?' she asks,
distracted by how young and ill she looks. 'Are you going to vomit?'
'I don't think so,' Dawn says, sounding frail and unsure. Xander sits her
down at the table and Anya passes her a bottle of water from her bag,
unscrewing the lid for her first. It's disconcerting to have them show up
together like this. Two smart talkers denuded of their armour.
Silence falls as Dawn sips. Spike, watching in the shadow of the counter,
sees Anya twitching around the table, closing the books, shifting jars and
candles and some things that look like horns.
'I'm ok,' Dawn reassures her, still in a small voice. 'I'm not going to
barf on your stuff.'
Anya starts. 'Right. Great. So - how come you got sick? Where have you
been? Did you have drugs?'
Xander's been staring at the floor. 'I was just picking her up from a
party,' he says. 'No drugs.' He looks at Dawn suddenly. 'Right?'
'No!' says Dawn. 'No drugs, no alcohol, no magic, nothing bad. I forgot
to have dinner, I guess. I'll have something when I get home.'
Anya looks at Xander. 'Should we call Buffy?' she asks.
He takes a long time to answer.
This situation is making Spike feel ghostly - silent and invisible, but
palpable in the room, in Anya's tense awareness of his gunpowder presence,
in Xander's inability to look at or speak to her.
The things the three of them said, the last time they were all within
earshot of each other, hang in the air. Xander can't manoeuvre round them
easily. In the end he says, 'She's at work. I haven't really seen her. I
mean - she's been really tired.'
'How are you?' Anya asks him.
'Fine. Great.' He's not ready to talk properly. He wants to take Dawn and
go, but she still looks too shivery.
'Yeah, you look great,' says Anya, more sharply than she means, but it's
disturbing her how awful he looks. His colour is dirty margarine; his face
has sagged and bagged away from the bone; his dark eyes are murky, and the
straight lines of back and shoulders he's been growing into are broken.
Gravity's winning, pulling him down.
Spike, looking at him, feels a shock of pain that is almost entirely
physical. He may be soulless, but of all undead men walking, Spike must be
the one most drawn to life, and this rapid leaking of vitality jars him.
Never mind that he'd rather sit through a beating than a conversation with
Xander. It's just - last week he looked strong and beautiful and in
control, and now he looks like scrap. That bites. Especially as he's
partly Spike's own wreck. Guy needs a good bout of violence, he thinks.
Too bad I can't help him out.
Anya, having reached deadlock with Xander's bleak and evasive gaze, turns
to Dawn. 'You want some cookies?' she says kindly. 'They'll raise your
Dawn smiles, 'No thanks. Don't really feel up to all that chewing.'
'Well - I've got some milk in the back. Or you could have juice.' Dawn
accepts juice, and Xander and Spike both wonder how much time Anya's been
'Feel ready to try heading yet, Dawnster?' Xander asks, aiming half-
heartedly at his usual bantering style.
'Where's your car?' Anya asks.
'Uh - Willow's got it. Late night grocery shopping. She said she'd pick
up some stuff for me too. And then Buffy called, said she had to work
late, and Dawn and I got stuck riding Shank's pony.'
Once he's able to form the words, he keeps them coming. He just wants to
keep communicating with her, keep them linked by a neutral buzz of unloaded
But all she hears is how quickly she's become dispensable, how effortlessly
the Scoobies have closed ranks, filling the gap where she'd been.
'That's just swell,' she says, and Xander nearly topples over to hear hate
in her voice and see tears in her eyes. 'But who gets to stay home and sit
at the window with the boiling oil?'
'Anya? I- I'm sorry-'
'Sorry for what? Sorry you settled? Sorry you wasted time making do, when
you could've gotten in a few extra years of drooling over Buffy?'
Spike steals a look at Dawn. She's got a bit more colour now, but she's
very still, leaning her cheek on her hand, staring down at the table. She
shouldn't hear this, he thinks.
'Don't talk about Buffy,' Xander says, jaggedly. It's not what he means,
not in a you're-not-fit-to-mention-her-name way, but he'd felt like he was
reaching dry land, and now he's as much adrift as ever.
Anya looks like she's been hit, like she's damn well going to hit back.
Spike shuts his eyes and leans his head back against the counter. If she's
going to take it out of Buffy, using swear words and in front of Dawn,
they'll just have to deal with the scarring later.
'Don't talk about her? In case I verbally transmit some vampire-screwing
cooties she doesn't already have? I probably caught it from her, Xander! If
anyone - '
'Don't! Stop it!' Dawn stands up, knocking a jar of marbles off the table.
It smashes and they bounce. Three visible and one hidden pair of eyes
watch them. Dawn, still weak from her giddy fit, begins to cry.
'Please. Don't yell anymore. He said he was sorry. He's not even talking
to Buffy, not properly. I just wish everything would get back to normal.
Can't you just make it up?' crying quietly, harder and harder, 'I wish you
could just make it up.'
Xander looks ashamed. 'Hey, Dawn. Come on, we'll get you home. We're ok.
We can finish this another time, right?'
But Anya is turning away. How can she resist this? It's what she wishes
too. Sighing, she lets her ugly face push past her beautiful one. The
pendant, hidden, begins to glow through her sweater. But although her face
is shielded, Dawn sitting at the table can see the glow, and she guesses
what it means - she's been up close and personal with one before. Quick as
a flash she's across the room, grasping Anya's arm, somehow ripping the
chain and snatching the necklace. Anya screams and clutches at it, but
Dawn holds it behind her and screams back.
Xander crosses the room in one step, shooting an arm out in front of Dawn,
pushing her backwards. It's faster than he's moved in days. He stands with
his arm around Dawn, staring.
The veins sink and fade. Anya turns her human face into her hand and cries,
half-turned away from him. They're both thinking the same thing: she's let
herself be turned into something he has to protect children from.
Without a word he turns towards the door, guiding Dawn, his haggard face
blank. But as they reach the threshold he turns again, takes the jewel
from where it lies in Dawn's hand, and hurls it violently and wordlessly
across the room, where it smacks a carving and falls. Then they really go.
Anya stands where he left her, still wracked with low, rapid sobs. She
doesn't move when Spike stands up creakily from behind the counter, but
when he crosses the room to pick up the pendant she turns. She looks at
him like she's forgotten where she is, like something's wrong but she can't
remember what. Buffy looked at him like that once, after whisking him like
white of egg to the soft peak stage. Drowned, guilty, lost eyes.
He steps towards her. 'Yeah,' he says in a voice that bites, banging the
pendant down on the table. 'I'm the idiot round here.'
Anya lies in bed, thinking of Spike. Thinking about him in much the same
way as she'd slept with him - for his anaesthetic properties. Last night,
after the argument, he'd been kind to her. Well - he'd called her a life-
wrecking insane bloody cow, and he hadn't done it in a nice voice. But
he'd waited while she'd swept and closed up the Magic Box, walked her home,
and given her all of what was left in his flask before he'd left. And,
half-out the door he'd stopped, given her a look and said firmly, 'Don't
OK, she'd had prettier compliments in her life, even without the advantage
of a human body. But just now she feels immeasurably glad of some proof
that someone knows she's desperate; knows she's a life-wrecking insane
bloody cow, and still wants her not to hang herself.
The thoughts that are beating at the edge of her consciousness are of
Xander. What she's trying not to hear is her own voice saying 'It's over.
You screwed up.'
He's everything to her. All her reasons for being human.
He'd said, 'I plan to live a long and silly life, and I'm not interested in
doing that without you around.'
Hadn't he meant it? Had he changed his mind?
She thinks of all the times he's reminded her, about taking things too
literally. Maybe he never knew how literally she'd agreed with him, won't
know how much more literally she agrees with him now. Life's never seemed
so long, or so silly, or so wholly uninteresting as it does today.
Tears run sideways out of the corners of her eyes. They've been doing that
all night, off and on. Interspersed with the kind of dreams you get when
you eat a cold pizza, eleven fruit roll-ups and peanut butter out the jar,
right before you go to bed. And she hasn't done that since the day before
So she thinks of Spike, floats Spike thoughts through her mind and
concentrates on them, like you concentrate on the tune you hum with your
fingers in your ears to drown out gross stories or the sound of Harrison
Ford trying to drown Michelle Pfeiffer. Or the bit with Thumper in 'The
Jungle Book'. Things you really don't want to hear.
I'll be late, she thinks. The shop. The dollar signs don't spring up in
her eyes at the thought: they haven't been there for a while. Neither have
the little love hearts; only the spinning circles of stars and tweeting
She gets up to dress, leaving symmetrical tear stains on her pillow.
Continued in Part 2