By Girl With Journal
Like a sunset going down
Have you seen the lady fairer
She comes in colors everywhere;
She combs her hair
Sheís like a rainbow
--"Sheís Like a Rainbow," The Rolling Stones
This year, Tara thinks, she has so much to be thankful for.
Because sheís free, isnít she? Finally free. And while her life is mundane, itís hers for the first time. Hers.
So she shouldnít be sitting here, nursing her fourth cup of tea, and wishing she had someone to share it with.
No. She should be concentrating on her little Thanksgiving Day project. Waking up this morning, in her own bed, in the dorm room she herself is paying for with the scholarship money she herself has earned, Tara had known that she needed to share her good luck. Pass it on. Give someone who had nothing cause to give thanks.
Itís the kind of thing her mother used to do.
Thus resolved, Tara found herself on the streets of Sunnydale, looking for someone to help. This proved to be harder than she had thought. Sunnydale has a surprisingly low population of homeless people (Tara has an inkling as to why, but sheís not going to dwell on that, not now) and as she stood in the middle of Main St., watching people hurry by, Tara realized that she had no idea where to start.
She still doesnít. Itís getting dark now, her tea is cooling in her hands. Sheís wasted the day. Only...
She has an idea. Watching people with just her own two eyes, itís impossible to see who most needs help, and the kind of help that she can give. But Tara has other tools at her disposal. Sheís been wary to use them, alone in this new place, but causes donít get much better than this, and itís not even really magic. Just a natural talent, her mother had said, and kissed her daughterís closed eyelids in thanks for what they could be made to See.
Tara closes her eyes now and pushes her tea away, folding her hands in her lap. Mumbles a few words - not a spell, no - just something to help her concentrate. Concentrating, she lets her eyelids flutter back open. Opens her eyes and Sees...
Everyone, deep into them. The brightly colored rainbow of auras. Calm, pastoral greens, brilliant blues, jealous yellows, and...
The most amazing, passionate red she has ever seen.
Tara stares; or rather, she Stares. Itís a man, leaning against an alley wall across the street from the Espresso Pump. His head is pressed up against the brick; a scuzzy old blanket is wrapped around his shoulders. His clothes are too clean (and heís too not dead) for him to be a homeless person, but his entire demeanor speaks of someone with nowhere to go, no home to return to. Heís hurt, Tara realizes, watching the bolts of black that stab through his aura. Heís in pain.
And she can help.
And not a moment too soon, it seems, as just as Tara gets to her feet, the man in the alleyway collapses, crumples to the ground. Tara picks up her skirt and rushes across the street, shocked to see that everyone around her, the Good People of Sunnydale, are walking by as if nothing has happened. She kneels by the fallen manís side. "Sir," she whispers, shaking him lightly. "Sir..."
His skin is as cold as ice.
Quickly, Tara presses her finger to the pulse point at his wrist; she feels nothing. Heís not breathing, either, and sheís just about to cry for help when she notices something rather important: his aura, though laced with black, is still as red and crackling with life as ever.
Not dead, then. That other thing, the thing she didnít want to think about.
Her mother had warned her. Hell, common sense was warning enough. But there is something about this man - and she finally allows herself to think the word - this vampire that stops her from doing the smart, safe thing and running away. Something...
His skin might be cold as a corpse, but his aura...it sings.
Besides, itís Thanksgiving. A day of brotherhood.
Mumbling under her breath - an actual spell this time, to lighten the load - Tara wraps the vampireís arm around her shoulder and pulls them both to their feet. Itís going to be a long walk home.
For the first time in a long time, Spike is warm and comfortable. This, of course, makes him deeply suspicious.
Cautiously, he opens one eye.
Heís lying on the floor, a floor covered in ugly, brown, industrial carpeting. Someone has obviously tried to make up for this by scattering rugs and throw pillows everywhere - one of the latter seems to have even landed under his head. There are twinkling white Christmas lights strung above him, and what looks to be a poster depicting The Lady of Shalott.
He seems to have died and gone to a very girly dorm room.
Before he can process this, the owner of said room comes into view, her blond hair falling in front of her face and dangling just above a white mug, which she holds out to him. "Youíre awake," she says. "H-here, drink this."
Spike sits up a little bit, and the mug is pushed into his hands. He looks down at its contents, expecting them to be coffee or tea or possibly some horrid health drink. Instead, he finds blood.
Blood. He wants to ask how, why - but the days of deprivation, of starvation, are too much for him, and heís gulping down the blood without even registering the movement of hand to lips. He licks every last drop from the cup before looking up. He expects to see a look of shock or revulsion on the girlís face, but instead, she only looks curious. Curious and...concerned?
"Was that okay?" she asks. "Itís pig. I-I canít give you human."
Spike clears his throat; it feels strange to be talking to someone who isnít looking at him with disgust. "You know what I am, and yet you brought me into your...home. Why?"
She shrugs. "Itís Thanksgiving."
"And this is your charity? Helping a starving vampire?"
She shrugs again.
Itís so absurd; he canít help but laugh. "Too bad you wasted it on a Brit. We donít do Thanksgiving."
Ignoring this, the girl says, "I have more blood if you want."
Spike gets to his feet, and takes the opportunity to look her over properly. Sheíd be a pretty girl if she came out from behind that curtain of hair. She reminds him a little of the girls of his youth: sheís lush. And yet, sheís behaving in stark contrast to those other girls: sheís being nice to him.
He feels strangely dizzy. Must be the malnourishment.
Silently, he nods, and holds out the empty mug.
Once heís thrown back two more cupfuls, he feels a bit firmer on his feet. The girl takes the mug from him and puts it in a bucket of soapy water she has set neatly on top of the minifridge. "Iím sorry, thatís the last of it," she says, making another sojourn into the icebox. She comes out bearing a can of cranberry sauce and a package of sliced turkey. "Do you eat regular food?"
He does, but Spike wants no part of this girlís pathetic little hotplate Thanksgiving. But as she sets about warming the cranberry sauce, which sits trembling in a bowl, still holding the shape of the can, he canít help but feel a bit sorry for her. He imagines a scenario in which he still had his bite: turning her and taking her far away from this. Glamming her up a bit, getting her to stop hiding behind her hair. Finding Dru and showing her that he can find happiness elsewhere just as well...
"Do you want some tea?" the girl asks. And Spike mumbles a yes and even smiles when she fixes it right, putting the milk in first, without even being prompted.
So thatís how he ends up sitting on the floor under the Lady of Shalott, drinking tea and eating processed turkey slices when he could be out doing...what? So this is what his unlife is to be now. Awkward silences and canned cranberries thanks to the kindness of very strange strangers. Some existence, he thinks, taking an angry stab at his food. It jiggles.
With a poorly hidden sigh, he glances up. The girl is still looking at him, watching him with an intensity thatís a tad bit creepy. Itís like sheís not even looking at him, but through him. No. Into him.
"You all right there, luv?" he asks, and her head snaps up, her eyes refocus.
"S-sorry!" she says.
"What are you staring at, then?" he asks. She doesnít answer. "Iím your first vampire, is that it? Is this what you wanted to see?"
He vamps out. She starts a little, but shakes her head. Sheís not afraid, he realizes. Sheís not afraid of him. Heíd think that she must be the stupidest girl in the world...except, well sheís right, isnít she? He canít hurt her.
"You never really answered my question before," he says, letting the demon fall away. "Whyíd you let me in here if you know what I am? I could kill you. Why did you help me?"
The girl blushes. "I...I read your aura," she says, as if that explains everything.
Spike raises one eyebrow, the very picture of skepticism. "My aura?" he says, the way one might question, "your UFO?" "And that told you, what? The color of crystals I should buy?"
She shakes her head. "It told me that you wouldnít hurt me. That you were in pain. That you...that youíre special."
Spike laughs so hard that tears spring from his eyes. "Special?" he practically chokes. "Yeah, Iím special, all right. Special edís more like. Plastic bag vampire."
"You...you are special!" the girl insists, her voice rising, for the first time, above a whisper. "I can see it! I can show you!"
Spike is surprised. "Show me?" he says.
She nods, eager now, earnest. "Some people are better at it than others, but everyone can see them, at least a little, with practice."
"Learned about this on the internet, did you?" he asks.
She shakes her head. "No. My mother."
Thereís something in her tone, in the look on her face as she says those words, that makes him relent. After all, sheís taken him in and fed him, which is more than anyone else has done in a long, long time. He can humor her. See her prove just how special he is.
"Fine," he says. "Mojo away."
She sits down on the floor, cross-legged, and motions for him to do the same. He settles himself across from her, and takes her hands when she holds them out, feeling ridiculous. Although not as ridiculous as he felt when he was wandering around Sunnydale in that cast-off blanket, so...
"Close your eyes," she says. Spike gives her one last skeptical look, but he complies. "Okay, now concentrate. Imagine that youíre looking in a mirror--"
He snorts. "Vampire, pet. Thatís a pretty dull fantasy."
"You were..." He hears her swallow. "You were human once. Try to remember what looking in a mirror was like."
Unpleasant, he thinks, but he tries. "Imagine youíre looking in a mirror," the girl continues, "but donít look at yourself, try to see beyond yourself. Think of it as unfocusing your eyes, like, um, staring at one of those Magic Eye drawings..."
This is idiotic, Spike thinks. Yet he does what she says. A strange, buzzing warmth starts to burn behind his eyelids.
"Now imagine looking at everything that way," the girl says. "Youíre not seeing people, youíre seeing the energy around them, the energy in them...can you see it?"
He canít see anything, but heís beginning to feel uncomfortable. Itís like an itch within his skull - he knew that cranberry sauce was evil. So he nods; itíll shut her up sooner.
"Okay," she says. "Hold onto that - hold onto that feeling. And donít feel bad if it doesnít work the first time; it doesnít always. But, um, hold onto that and open your eyes."
He hesitates a moment; his eyelids feel glued together.
"Go on," she says. "Open your eyes."
He does. And itís like being hit in the head with a van full of tie-dyed hippies. Color erupts from everything, from all the objects in the room. His own hands shoot off red sparks, and for a moment this is like that time he got stoned: he canít not stare, canít not follow his handís every movement with his eyes. And then he turns and looks at her, and heís never seen such brightness.
Itís beautiful, but itís frightening, too, and right now the latter feeling is the more powerful. "Agh!" he says. "Turn it off!"
She looks at him blankly. "Iím not doing anything," she says. "Just...just stop thinking about it and it should go away."
But how can he stop thinking about it? Sheís a glistening green meadow, sun-dappled, like his auntís house in the country, long ago. Sheís a glade, sheís a clearing in the woods, dotted with brilliant purple flowers. He can feel her burning when he closes his eyes.
"It wonít go away," he grinds out. Heís going to go blind.
Now she looks worried; the color of her darkens. "What do you mean? You should have to concentrate to maintain it. Just think about something else."
"There is nothing else." He says it aloud without realizing it. Watches as the worry rolls off her in waves of grey-green and doesnít care. Youíve bewitched me, he thinks. It suddenly doesnít seem like such a bad thing.
Taraís getting scared now. Sheís never heard of this happening, but then, sheís never heard of anyone trying to make a vampire See, either. Maybe theyíre not meant to. Maybe sheís hurting him.
She reaches forward to try to shake him out of it.
Their skin never even meets. The edges of her green touch his red, and suddenly, itís exploding Christmas. To Tara, it feels like every nerve in her body is on fire. Itís not painful, but it is intense, perhaps the most intense sensation sheís ever experienced. Tara gasps and tries to pull away, but like quicksand she instead finds herself pulled farther in.
She doesnít remember turning her own Sight back on. She most certainly doesnít remember lowering herself into the vampireís lap. But now that both of these things have occurred, she doesnít find herself working to undo them, either.
He has his hands out, is holding them on either side of her face, still not actually touching her. Blue eyes shine out from deep within the red glow of him; wide eyes, wondering. "This always happen?" he asks.
She shakes her head. "No. Never." A giggle erupts from her throat and she meets his electric gaze dead on. "See? Special."
He laughs, and color pours off him in swirls, dancing before her. "I bet you say that to all the boys."
Sitting like this, touching and not touching, is making her ache. Her own hands reach out, mirroring his position. "I like girls," she says.
More swirls of red, accompanied by an arched eyebrow. "They do say college is a time for experimentation," he says, and then heís kissing her, or sheís kissing him. Which of them moved first is something sheíll never know.
But itís more than just kissing. Now that this final bridge has been crossed, thereís nowhere she doesnít want, doesnít need to be touched. Sitting in his lap with her hands in his hair is not enough, so they stretch out together on the floor, allowing toes and ankles and knees and thighs to become aquatinted as well. Her hands roam over his back, exploring the sinewy muscles through the fabric of his shirt, and suddenly, the horrible wrongness of this piece of cloth acting as barrier between them hits her, and she claws at it, desperate for its removal.
She realizes that her blouse is giving him the same frustrations, so horribly, painfully, they break apart and divest themselves of their clothing. Once shirts come off, it seems only natural that pants and skirt be done away with as well. This leaves Tara at a disadvantage, so he takes care of her panties while she removes her bra. And then thereís nothing left but skin.
Itís enough. More than enough. And there is so much of him for her to come to know. He is acres of alabaster skin stretched tightly across coiled muscle. His chest is unfamiliar in its flatness, but his nipples still love her tongue, and even the hard, insistent weight on her thigh doesnít frighten her, not when itís part of his electric self, his shining red energy, which she feeds on like a drug.
Besides, he doesnít seem interested in using it, at least not yet. His everything is concentrated in his lips, surprisingly soft, surprisingly warm, as he trails kisses down her body. And it hurts her to lose the feel of his back, his shoulders, his arms as he travels south, but it seems he has just the remedy. Clever fingers and cleverer tongue and itís impossible for her to stay still, impossible for her to move. Looking down, watching him glow like a red firecracker between her legs, she realizes that its more than just tongue and fingers entering her, itís him, itís his very essence, washing her in crimson, and him in emerald.
Itís this thought that sends her over the edge.
He doesnít leave her until her shuddering ceases. Then his sits up, licking his lips. "She comes in colors," he says, grinning. "Everywhere."
He swoops down to kiss her again, and when it breaks, she wraps a hand around his neck and pulls him close. Whispers, "Look."
He looks. First at himself, following her gaze. Heís streaked with her, a spiderweb of green lines. It should look hideous - after all, donít red and green together make brown? - but instead, thereís something almost pure in the places where the colors meet, an immaculate glow. And she has it, too, perhaps even more strongly. Her skin hums with it.
The vampire runs a hand over one multi-colored breast. "Think we can make more of it?" he asks.
And she nods. And they do.
Well, Spike thinks, waking a second time, this turned out to be a much better day than he expected.
He opens his eyes. The rainbow of colors is gone, and itís both a loss and a relief. He looks down at the girl lying next to him - he still doesnít know her name. My glowing green goddess, he thinks, and quickly pushes the thought away. None of that, now.
Still, he reaches down and draws her shining curtain of hair away behind her ear. And thereís her face, relaxed in sleep. Sheís beautiful: milky skin and full, red lips. He remembers kissing them, how right it felt. How she gleamed...
He mentally shakes himself. He should go; itíll be daylight soon, and as nice as this has been, itís unlikely that her hospitality will last. Besides, he has to plan, has to plot: he has an army to take down, after all. But right now...
Right now, heíll rest in her arms, and allow himself a little more time to be thankful.