All About Spike

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Count to Ten
By HarmonyFB

Ten vignettes about Spike, from cradle to grave. Rated PG-13

Thanks to Carolyn-Claire for her mad, on-the-fly beta readings, and the Livejournal community for their support.




Dividing Line

It took a minute for him to register what she’d done, too late for him to protest, push her away, even if he’d had the strength to do it. The soft, sweet sensation of her lips and the curve of her breast under his trembling hand, that had given rise to the flutter of his desire suddenly turned to slicing pain. It radiated in waves with each pull of her mouth, greedy as any newborn babe. His fingers scrabbled fruitlessly at the damask dress she wore; the lace gave way, but she did not. His cries and pleas and whispered promises of gold were all for nothing, her suckling never ceased, and no one ever came. He grew cold, his legs gave way beneath him, and they tumbled to the colder stones of the street below. Her body pressed ever tighter against his, bruising fingertips marking his arms in a monster’s caress. Her lips and tongue probed in rhythm against the painful center of his wound, and he couldn’t see beyond the black curls that spilled from below her cap, and all was in unnatural stillness, no sound of bird or carriage or murmur of the crowds beyond the alley, and he thought,

Is this what it’s like….to die?


Then there was sharp, cold air against his throat, and warm, sweet-scented softness pressed against his face, and an angel’s whispered words, urging him to – he wasn’t sure what. His mouth opened, helplessly, as if to ask what he should do. He barely registered the taste that followed after.

He did have wit left to wonder in his private, gathering dark, if when he woke, his father would be waiting for him in heaven.

***

One Sin Worth Sinning


He used to keep a book of Swinburne's poems in his room. Cautious gentleman that he was, he made sure to rub the gilding from the spine, so that it wouldn't stand out, wouldn't be picked up by the girl who cleaned, or selected for his aging mother's pleasure by the evening fire. Mother wouldn't have been pleased, you see. All that poetry of pagan gods, and virgin flesh and plucking 'red pleasure from the teeth of pain' would have been too much for genteel nerves already frayed through illness and pain. But after he retired for the night, he'd open the leather binding to scan verses that fairly hummed with joy, with vigor, with the wanton desires of a fellow who lived as though he never had to die.

Kinky fellow, too, or so he'd later heard. Once upon a different life, it was simply thrilling whispers about dissolution and perversity. Later, once scholarship and experience had opened avenues of knowledge more dissolute than any flirtation of Swinburne's would ever hope to be, he read the poems of death and love with a very different eye. In some of them he could almost see the image of his love, this terrible, beautiful princess to whom he was gleefully enslaved. When he read them, it was almost as though he saw what his former self might have been - should have wanted to be, a dimly-lit, long-dead mirror for his banked desires.

He thought sometimes that it was too bad he'd never run across the man, but it was just as well. Was poetry a product of the soul? When it was gone, was the fire of creation gone as well? He drank his scotch, let it roll like fire down his throat while his fingers traced over the beautiful, beautiful words. Just as well they hadn't met. One failed poet was already one too many.

***

A Bargain at Any Cost

She'd only stopped screaming the day before. He wasn't even sure the pain had stopped; it might have been because she'd finally just run out of steam - out of energy - out of blood. The mattress was soaked through where she lay, the sheets forever ruined, but he didn't dare move her. The merest feather's-touch could start the desperate cries again, and he needed a few moments’ sleep, after his vigil. Earlier he'd run out - two, three steps from the hotel - and found a willing prostitute who didn't mind his haggard look or clammy skin. He'd dragged her into the alley, drank as much as he could stomach, and went back as fast as he could to see to Dru. She wasn't well enough to raise her head or even swallow. He’d cut his arm, and held it to her mouth, stroking her throat just like a kitten till the blood trickled down. The first day, it had run out as fast as he could get it in her, leaking from a thousand wounds, seeping through the lacerated flesh of her belly, chest, and hands.

Now the ragged skin was beginning to close, but she was still pale as death itself, and might yet go - what if the stake had left a splinter, worming its way towards her heart? A hundred thousand might-yet-be's plagued him whenever he closed his eyes.

He'd thought he loved her before. He was a fool. Didn't realize how much he truly cared for her till he fought off the angry crowd that beat and scratched and stabbed at her; till he saw her stretched unmoving on a blood-soaked bed, till he felt the stark, unfamiliar sense of fear. Till he might not have her anymore.

Her eyes still hadn't opened, still hadn't moved; just lay there, almost-gone, waiting. Hope shattered, he grasped at straws; what might save her? Lips moved in useless prayer; but it was all that he could do. Wait, and pray.

"I'll do anything, just bring her back."

The gratitude had lasted all of a week, before the miracle of her slow recovery faded in his mind. Now, coincidence was all it had ever been. But years later, lying naked in the dark beside the Slayer, bruised and desperate, watching the rise and fall of her silky breast, he wondered what it was, exactly, that he'd promised.

Should have known God would be an expert at the devil's bargain.

***

Rock Star


The glam-rock phase was mercifully short. He never did get the appeal of blokes tarting themselves up like girls, but Drusilla was fascinated by it. Always surprised him, she did. Carelessly took him to depths of depravity he'd never thought existed, but got a mad, illicit thrill from crossing gender lines.

The night she brought it home, she wore her wicked face, the one that said she'd been a mad, bad girl. She'd snuck out to the shops; worrisome because she was still so fragile, still so tired. Easy prey for other vamps, or not-so-picky demons, or whatever asshole fancied themselves a slayer. He never let her go anywhere alone, not these days.

That night, though, she'd slipped out while he showered, came back smeared with blood and carrying an armload full of bags. He picked through the pretty dresses she had gotten, wondered if she'd really dare to wear the one that was open to the waist.

Turned out she wanted him to wear it, pink-fucking- crushed-velvet, and feathers, and shoes that looked like an orthopedist's nightmare. He discovered that there were, after all, limits to his love.

"I'm not wearing this out in public, Dru. I look like an idiot."

"But the feathers tickle my nose, Spike. I like it. Rrrowf." She buried her face against it, growling so the glitter-tipped feathers tickled at his throat.

"Then why don't you wear it, love?"

Her fingers trailed down the boa, her face far away. "It reminds me of the hats my auntie used to wear, whenever she walked out with her gentleman caller."

"Then I'm definitely not wearing it." He paused, and smiled slyly. "Why don't you come help me out of it, pet?

***

You Can’t Always Get What You Want


The problem with Slayers was that they didn’t live very long. After that first brilliant scrap, he spent years chasing down another one. By the time he’d heard of one, in some remote city somewhere, odds were that she was already dead, and a new one sprung up hell and gone from there. But god, how he craved it. Funny how he found the second one when he’d stopped looking. Hadn’t even inquired; just happened on her one night as he was going out.

She was tough, and round, and sexy as hell. No little girl, this one. She was hard as nails, and it wasn’t duty that made her grin while she worked, kneeling atop the soon-to-be-dusted, wielding that stake like the hammer of the righteous. She damn near disappeared into the shadows, black leather and coffee-colored skin, except where her smile shone white in the darkness. He could have watched her fight for hours – tight moves and quick thinking, supple limbs, no bra – he lingered till she’d killed them all, five or six at one go, and he smiled.

He played their fight over and over in his mind for weeks, just like foreplay. Yeah, he played her. A fight here, a tussle there. Hard to catch her without the brat, though, and she was never gonna give it to him when she was worried about the kid.

So he watched, and waited, harried and taunted her. Saw the defiant gleam in her eyes get worn down, hour after hour. When he saw her getting on that subway alone, riding home after a hard night’s work, it couldn’t have been any more perfect; like the universe had arranged that battle just for them. Seemed like it lasted hours long – his body bore the bruises for a week, and picked glass fragments from his hair for a month or more – and yet, no time at all.

When he was atop her, when he’d won, it was almost as if he hadn’t wanted her to die. Almost let her up to have another go. Even took something to remember her by, though he hadn’t with the first. But then, the Chinese bird he hadn’t followed ‘round for weeks, learned her habits, her scent, spent hours watching her with murder on his mind.

He killed her, stripped the coat from her body, and left the train, oddly still unsatisfied. He’d thought she was everything he wanted, dangerous and fast, and ultimately his, but it wasn’t enough this time.

He wanted something more.

***

Give Me Something Good to Eat


He never much cared for Halloween, especially when they were with Angel and the Bitch-queen. Slaves to bloody tradition, they insisted that everyone had to stay home, eat in. Weren't even interested in going out for a little vandalism, you know, to join in the fun.

Guy Fawkes - now that was a holiday. Great heaping bonfires, and explosions; folks running about heedless in the dark. Easy to eat, but even easier to nudge over into the flames as you passed, so you could listen to the shrieks and smell the burning skin. Sometimes you even got lucky, and somebody's eye got taken out by a rocket. Cold November air smelled crisp and promising, and he liked the black-on-orange of the merrymakers and the pyres.

Halloween, though – that was time for sitting 'round the drawing room, bored to tears, listening to Angelus playing paterfamilias.

And then after Angel buggered off, there was Dru - who first wanted to do things the way he would have wanted, and who later just needed looking after, so it'd become a habit to stay in, look for mischief on other evenings. He'd almost forgotten what night it was that night, when he was running from Brazil. He'd checked into some roadside motel that evening - well, not 'checked in', precisely. More like, ate a businessman on the way to the ice machine and stole his key, but still. There was a six-pack sitting on the battered dresser, and the porn channel'd been unlocked. He lay sprawled across the bed, drinking and letting the glory of hardcore wash over him.

The first knock on the door was tentative - he could see eyes peeping through the edges of the curtains. Threw the door open to a girl - no more than 15, if she was that - all dolled up with a pillowcase in hand. The growl climbing out his throat was swallowed; his lips curved upwards in a smile. His eyes flicked casually down the walkway; clear of people, the early-rising moon shining orange across the asphalt lot. In a husky voice he asked, "What can I do for you, pet?"

She blushed, color standing out through whatever ridiculous makeup she wore, but she gamely held her bag out towards him, and croaked out, "Trick or Treat".

His arm moved faster than she could see, her eyes never registered his reach as he snatched her off her feet and to his waiting mouth. She was struggling, trying to scream, arching desperately away as he bent his head to her throat, kissed the pulse pounding wildly there. He hadn't had a kill this exciting in months. His mouth was silk against her ear as he whispered, "Fresh out of treats, love. Let's see if I can do you a trick, instead."

Forgotten candies skittered across the sidewalk as he slammed the door.

***

Counterfeit


He likes to be near it, at least. It's lucky Sunnydale is behind the times; most other places have given way to fern bars and pseudo-hippy coffee shops. But here, here he can still find the perfect gritty bar, waiting just for him. The place is a Fire Marshall's nightmare – nothing but a grey cinderblock box coated with flaking, lead-filled paint. Floor's concrete, with a drain in the middle, so it can simply be hosed out, come morning. Perfect for feeding, cause there’s only one way out. Some off-key screaming metal band tonight, but the mosh pit's the nearest thing to violence he's had in a while. He thought it might quiet that screaming voice, the one that howls for blood and death and pain. The one that he can't make quiet anymore, because he’s wired for sound. It tears at him, day in, day out, till he’s got to find some way to release it before he goes completely insane. Drinking in a place where dancing’s second cousin to a brawl, that’ll have to do.

The band's in mid-set when he arrives; under the stink of sweat and week-old beer he can smell the tang of fresh blood, shed in a hundred tiny scratches on the dance floor . Makes his mouth water, his fists clench helplessly. Can't even have a taste, though the temptation to try is nearly overpowering. Not that he's hungry, not really - his belly's full of pig's blood and beer - but he craves the power, the destruction, the chance to see fear in some tough guy's eyes.

Bodies thrash against each other, a giant surging wave only vaguely allied to the rhythm of the music. All of them pimple-faced college joes, playing at anarchy. The fact that now any of them could kick his skinny ass twists anger up in his belly; too close to memories he'd rather were forgotten.

It's finally too much; he has to do something. Knocks back a couple of shots to dull the inevitable pain, and leaps unsteadily into the crowd, arms flailing. Lets himself get knocked about; pushed up to the stage, where the music fills his ears so he can't hear anything else. Then he gets shoved, and stumbles back, his fist connecting hard with the face of the man behind. Blood showers from the boy's nose, drenches his hand and spatters across his shoes. Spike pushes out of the pit, cringing, waiting for the pain.

It doesn't come. It doesn't hurt. A slow grin spreads across his face, and he licks the blood - warm, human blood - from his fist. Laughs at the revulsion on the faces of those standing near. It's not real violence, not real fear. But close enough.

The crowd parts to let him in.

***

Practice


He still chats them up in bars. Got to keep his skills sharp, can't afford to let himself get soft. Keeps an eye out for the little signs – the weary eyes, the unsteady gait as they head for the back, the way they lean into strangers, as if they're desperate for touch. Some of them he even pulls toward the shadows for a bit of clutch and grope, fingering them through their clothes, coaxing the offer out of them. Snuffling their throats, mouth and teeth and tongue right there, his favorite spot, while they moan and melt and the rest of the sheep turn away their collective gaze.

Does it 'til it's less like an exercise and more like torment, till his chip threatens to fire just because of the yearning to let it go, bite through the skin, tear flesh and drink down their life while their hands pull ineffectually at the slick leather of his sleeve. Instead, he pushes them away, phantom warmth still on his lips and hard with a lust that's not getting quenched anytime soon.

Sometimes they follow him, pluck gently at his arm, talkingtalkingtalking when they should be nice and still. Pays them no mind, they're not really there, because they're dead. He left them in the darkness with a vacant stare and it's their money he's using to buy beer. That's how it used to be. How it should be now. He's not yet willing to admit it might not be that way again.

He worries that his life has taken on some kind of fractured pattern. Worries that the bartender knows his name, knows his brand. Worries that maybe, just maybe, the power he's lost won't be regained by hanging out at the Bronze.

He orders another drink.

***

La Belle Dame Sans Merci


Never thought he'd see her again. Knew she disappeared from London, after, but never discovered where she'd gone. Angelus was big on follow-through, so they went by the house two or three times a week after his first big kill. Let her get a good look at him, smirking in the shadows, get her ready for the finishing blow. Then, one night, she was gone. He assumed she'd killed herself or been sent away; looked for her among the common whores, but she was never there. Lucky for her.

Or maybe not, considering.

The funny thing was, she looked exactly the same. Different hairstyle, maybe, but she moved the same, had the same deceptive sweetness in her voice. And even though he was as far from that timid poet as the butterfly is from the worm, she knew him. Called him by his given name, and for a heart-stopping moment, he was that man again, transfixed by beauty, hoping for merci, expecting disappointment, and terrified of the public humiliation that was sure to follow. And then someone spoke, and the memory was once more left behind.

In hindsight, he wasn't sure why he'd ever loved her; in the days after their meeting, he couldn't even muster the curiosity to find out if he had a hand in driving her to vengeance, and that was oddly reassuring. Proved he was different now, better, special.

He rubbed his eye, wincing where the bones weren't quite knit back together. Humiliated he might be, but not by her.

***

Flashpoint


He didn’t realize there’d be this much pain. It’s like getting hollowed out from the inside, scraping across ribs and heart and lungs and it burns. Past tortures have nothing on this all-consuming agony. He’s dying. Figures that the cave-dweller was just another lying demon, no legendary miracle worker. Old Spike gets screwed yet again, nailed to the proverbial wall. Soon he’ll be nothing but dust, dead and buried and nobody to mourn this time. And maybe that is what Buffy deserves. Undoubtedly, it’s what he deserves. Must be why his life/unlife is passing so fast in front of his eyes, memories shaken loose, falling like leaves from dying branches.

There’s nothing but the blinding, burning light, inside and out, and he falls into it, empty, except where the brilliance slowly fills him, and every acid drop sparking a new, forgotten gem of remembrance, each memory peeling off fresh ribbons of his flesh.

There’s Prague, and Rome, and Russia, California, Brazil. And he feels them all, every throat he slit (teeth scissoring through heated flesh), every blow he struck (fists breaking bone and stealing breath), can taste every drop of blood he ever drank, drowns in the smell of the blood he spilled but didn’t drink. It pours from his mind, faster and faster now, the squalling infants stolen for his lover, the first woman that died screaming underneath him, the glorious fights with men and women and the dark shadow of his demon turning everything unclean. Hears the sobs of that 12 year old he’d had in Paris, the curses of that mob he fought in Cork, feels the clinging bedclothes, wet and red, of lovers he took and killed, all the rapes and brawls and he’d forgotten….

He’d forgotten. But he remembered now.


All the way back, back to the beginning, where there’s mutilated partygoers whose dying eyes see Cecily’s ruined gown pushed above her thighs, and there’s his mother, and he’s home at last, this unfamiliar knife of feeling driven home, twisting his guts inside him. He drops to the ground, retching helplessly.

Only wonders, as the light drives the last thoughts from his head, if his mother waits for him in hell.

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