All About Spike - Plain Version
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Chapter: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Sequel to Dangerous
Sequel to "Dangerous", post-Season 7. Set 30 years after the events of the previous story. Rated NC-17
Thanks to my beautiful beta, Julia, and to the LiveJournal Community for their encouragement and support.
He couldn't help the laughter. It shook him, heedless of the scraping of his not-quite-healed-yet ribs, and the darkening expression on Buffy's face.
She sat back on her heels, arms crossed in that oh-so-familiar gesture, puzzled annoyance on her face. It made him laugh even harder.
"It's not funny."
"Funny? It's bloody hilarious. My soul?" he laughed darkly. "You are the eternal fucking drama queen, aren't you?" He levered himself to his feet, groping in the pocket of his discarded coat for a smoke. "Anyway, you destroyed that in me a long time ago, pet."
She snorted. "I'm the drama queen? Get a grip. I mean, anybody can see you still have--"
"It's a metaphor, you git."
She sighed impatiently. "I know it's a metaphor, dumbass. Point, meet Spike."
The lighter flared as he lit his cigarette, then closed with a satisfying snick. Rested his back against the wall as he took a drag. There. Better. Tilted his head, looking at her was a bit easier to do, now. "So now we've had a bit of a laugh, why don't you really tell me what you're after."
"You are such an idiot. Soul. Out of your body. I want. I want you soul-less, soul-lite, soul-free, with 80% less guilt. Get it?"
She wasn't joking. That did not bode well, he was fairly sure. "Bored, are you? Need it for your next apocalypse? I knew it'd been too long since the last one. So now you've come up here with some half-assed plan to get your adrenalin fix? What you need, Slayer, is a hobby. I hear knitting is supposed to be good for the nerves."
He was surprised that the force of her eyeroll didn't knock him to the ground.
"I haven't tried to start an apocalypse in two years, and – hey! That's not the point. The point is that I want you back again, not this pathetic, wimpy has-been you've been impersonating." Standing, she made her way over to him, trailing her fingers along his bare chest. "Don't tell me you don't want it taken away, that you're not dying to get rid of all that guilt and pain...'cause I know you are."
God help him, he did want it gone. Wanted to wake up without it pressing down on him, eat without wanting to heave. Wanted to not have to struggle anymore, even though he deserved every second of pain. Quietly, he said, "Never happen, sweet. No shoddy gypsy work holding this one on by a string – mine's hooked up proper. If it was that easy to get rid of, don't you think I'd have done it years ago?" He reached for her, pulling her against his chest, burying his face against her hair. Soon she'd be gone, and this is what he'd have for memory. Better than the last time, at least. "Can't be undone, pet, I tried. Might as well just go, and let me and Dawn get on with it."
She scowled. "God, you are such a lightweight. Why are you being so stupid about this? Look, I know you still want me." Her words tickled over his chest, her hands following their movement across his scarred flesh. "And I never stopped wanting you - well, not this way, anyway." Her tongue traced the edges of a cut on his shoulder, sparking shivers across his chest. "Mmm. It's just that...well, there's this huge thing that keeps me from coming back to you. If you didn't have it, everything would be perfect." She pulled back to grace him with a self-satisfied smile. "So what would you say if I told you that I could have it out in less than an hour? That I know somebody who can take care of it just like that?"
The sudden flash of understanding was like icewater in the face. "That shaman you kidnapped."
She nodded happily. "He did it for Angel, you know, back before you turned me. Says yours would be no sweat."
He stared over her shoulder, eyes unfocused, afraid to buy it, afraid she was still playing him for a fool. Cautiously, he said, "And Angel? He's all right with this whole plan? You coming back to me and all? Somehow, I don't think us getting back together is on Angel's short list."
"Oh, who cares what MrAllAboutMe thinks? He's either showing off and expecting me to swoon like I'm still a know-nothing 16 year old, or he's lecturing me like I just started killing last week. And don't even get me started on the hair. I just want it to be like it was in the beginning - just you and me."
"You and me?"
"Yep." She reached up to nip at his earlobe. "Just you," she whispered, "and me."
"For how long? How long before he comes looking for you? How long before you run back to him and leave me and Dawn in the lurch?"
"You and Dawn?" She laughed. "Does forever work for you, Spike?" she asked, with a grin.
He stiffened against her mockery. "Until he wonders where you've gone, you mean."
"Please. The only thing Angel gives a shit about is Angel. Anyway, how do you think I found the shaman? It was his idea. He said I was too," she mimed air quotes with a dissatisfied expression, "high maintenance. Prick. Just because I expected, oh, I don't know, a tiny bit of attention every now and then. Well, and some fun. Jeez, it was like living with Grandpa Summers. Don't cause a scene, Buffy. Show a little discretion, Buffy. Big baby. He's such a tightass, even without the soul."
Spike snorted. "Could have told you that myself, love." He pulled away from her as he raised the cigarette to his lips. "So what you're saying is that our boy Angel isn't paying enough attention to you, and you thought I'd be a good replacement. That it?"
"Well, duh. 'Willing slave', yadda, yadda. But that's not the only reason." She walked around him and hauled herself up on the counter, her heels clacking against the cupboards below.
The action was so familiar it started a Sunnydale tape-loop all over in his head. He'd give anything to go back and start again. He pushed the thought away from him, just smoked and concentrated on her ankles looped together, and hoped the pain hadn't reached his eyes. 'Course it wasn't really to do with him, not who he really was. He stole a glance at her, glowing golden under the kitchen light. "So what's the rest?"
"You remember the first time we fought together?"
"At your school? Not likely to forget that." Damn near killed her then, if it hadn't been for Joyce.
"No, not the first time you fought me. The first time we fought together."
He frowned. "At the Magic shop, you mean?" He barely remembered it; he'd been drunk most of the time he was there, and what little he did remember had to do with how much he'd wanted to shag Willow. Why was she bringing that up?
"No, that wasn't the first time. Remember? When you came and told me you wanted to 'save the world.' We wound up fighting some minion on my porch, and it was…" She grinned. "It was like we were the freaking Olympic pairs Slayage team, or something - you just knew exactly where to step, and when to punch, and god, Spike, I miss it. I'm tired of fighting all by myself. I want somebody who knows what they're doing, somebody who likes it. And let's face it, not too many people can fight like me." At his eyeroll, she replied tightly, "It's not conceited; it's the truth. But you fight like me. I miss it. I miss you."
He stared at her openly, his cigarette forgotten. She was serious. She really was coming back to him. Not because she loved him, not because - well, not why he wanted her to come back. But back all the same. He decided it didn't matter why, not really. "You mean it," he said, wonderingly.
She smiled up at him. "Does that mean we're going to go see the shaman?"
Freedom. Damnation. Buffy. "Yeah, let's go see him."
She leapt down from the counter, bending over the sofa to hit the remote and grab her purse. "Come on then."
Spike stared down at his bare and bloodied feet and naked torso. "Love, I really think I should put some clothes on, don't you?"
She loosed an explosive, impatient sigh. "Fine. Just - hurry."
"What's the rush, love? Shaman got an appointment elsewhere?"
"No. Well, maybe, I don't know, but he's not going anywhere. That's not the point. Go get dressed." She tapped her foot up and down on the blood-stained floor as he began to root through drawers in the kitchen.
"Spike, what are you doing?"
"Got to leave a note for Dawn; she'll want to know where we've gone."
She leveled a disbelieving look in his direction. "Leave a note? God, you are pussy-whipped, aren't you? Oh, mustn't upset poor Dawnie. Geez, Spike. I can't wait to get that thing out of you. Screw Dawn and come on."
"What do you care, Slayer? Won't take a minute." And it would save him hours of pain and suffering, save her from thinking he'd abandoned her like Buffy had done. He disappeared into the bedroom, hastily pulled on a clean shirt, retrieved his boots from the living room, and paused to compose a note. His hand hovered over the paper. What should he say? What could he? Should he tell her about the shaman? The chance to lose his soul a second time? In the end, with Buffy glaring daggers at him from the door, he settled for short and sweet.
Dawn, I'll be back soon.
The double meaning wasn't lost on him.
She wouldn't wait for him to shower. Covered in a film of blood and booze, hair sticking crazily up, and she still wouldn't wait. That was just like her, of course - everything had to run on her timetable. If it'd been her covered in grime, they'd still be at the apartment. He ran his hand through his hair, slouched down in the passenger seat of her sports car.
She didn't talk much during the ride. He suspected she was having second thoughts, but it was hard to tell with Buffy. He didn't talk much, either. He couldn't get past the knowing - when Drusilla'd found him in that alleyway, he was too bloody fucking stupid to understand what it was she was asking for. He didn't know, and the not-knowing somehow made it better. Now? Now he knew exactly what he was doing. There'd be no saving grace for him, not ever again, because he'd tasted damnation, found redemption, and chose the pit once more. For love of a woman who'd never love him back. He rested his head against the window, and wondered what Dawn was doing.
It was an hour outside the city when they pulled up outside a meeting-hall, its sign obscured with tape, lights shining blindly on the red brick of its walls. Dust swirled up from the gravel lot as they came to a stop between two equally badly-parked trucks. He followed her to the door in a bit of a daze. Didn't quite know what to expect, but it wasn't what he saw when they opened the door.
Not some smoke-filled demon haunt, this. Well, not entirely accurate. The place was full of demons. But it bore little resemblance to any other demon bar he'd ever been in. Trendy colors, no-smoking signs, bright, cheerful lighting. Just like every other yuppie bar in town. Except for the cages. Six or eight, with gleaming steel doors, suspended behind the bar. Every single one of them full of people. Every single one dripping to the collection trough below.
Buffy headed for the back of the bar, Spike in tow. Near the rear of the building was a small door, with a tough-skinned demon standing guard. It smiled as they approached - well, he assumed it was a smile. It pulled back the flaps of skin over its needle-sharp teeth - hell, maybe it was a threat display. Friendly or threatening, all the same, wasn't it? It towered over them, its bulk mostly obscuring the door, but its voice was surprisingly thin, as it hissed, "Business?"
Buffy leaned close to exchange a whispered word, and it nodded, then disappeared through the door and up the stairs beyond.
"It'll be a minute; we should probably go sit down. Why don't you get us a drink?"
Obediently, he headed for the bar, trying to look anywhere but at the people penned in preparation for their slaughter. The scent of blood was thick in the air, and it set his belly to growling. 'Til he saw the boy. Laid out on a slab behind the bar, tied down, with a great tube stuck in his neck that led directly to the tap beneath the bartender's hand. Awake and alive and aware that he was slowly being bled to death. Somehow, Spike wasn't hungry anymore.
Instead, he ordered himself a whiskey, and Buffy one of those girly drinks she used to like so much. He thought she probably meant for him to order blood, but he didn't care. Alcohol was what he needed right now. He was fishing the cash out of his pocket, when he heard his name. Soft, almost a sigh, or moan, coming from the cages overhead.
"You're Spike, aren't you? You were there last night."
Unwilling, he raised his eyes to where she crouched, raw and oozing where strips of her skin had been peeled away, her hair matted down with blood. It took him a minute to recognize her - the girl Buffy picked up at the club. The one who looked like Dawn.
"Please," she begged, "please, you've got to help me get out of here. They're - they're hurting me. Please don't leave me here."
He stared down at the bar, its mirrored surface reflecting the drinks, the money…but not him. He clenched a shaking hand around the glass and rasped out past the lump in his throat, "Sorry, can't help you."
"Please! You tried to help me the other night, didn't you? I know you did! You tried to keep her from - I know you don't want to do this." Her voice shook, fear or hope, who could tell? "You have to help me. You're a good man. I know you are. I can see it. "
That was the trouble, wasn't it? They could all see it, all the others, the vamps and demons who edged away from where he stood at the bar, sour, condescending looks on their faces as he stupidly talked to the food. He let his demon face emerge, lifting it defiantly towards her. "I'm not a man at all," he said.
Her sobs followed him back to the table, and when the din of the crowd overwhelmed them, he'd have sworn he could hear them still.
Sitting beside Buffy was a smallish man, swathed in red. Dark magic swirled around him like a malignant shroud; you'd have to be head-blind to miss it. It made his hair stand on end. Small or not, that man was very, very dangerous. He wondered what Buffy'd had to promise in exchange for this little job.
He turned the chair around, straddled it. "So you're the shaman-y type that's supposed to fix me up?" Blue whorls of tatooing peeked out from beneath the man's garment; lying on the tabletop, his hands were small as any girl's. "Don't look like much," he lied. "Sure you can do the job? Don't want to get stuck with some half-assed de-souling here."
"I'm reasonably certain," the man replied. "But just to set your mind at rest - look at me." Spike met his eyes and watched the crawling blackness cover them.
"So that old saw about the eyes being the windows of the soul is true?" he joked nervously.
The shaman smiled. "More than you know." He gazed thoughtfully at Spike for a full minute, then said, "No problem. Give me an hour or two to prepare, and it will be done, providing my fee is in place."
"I already took care of it," Buffy replied off-handedly. "Anything you need us to do?"
"Wait here." He moved his chair back and began to stand, when a burst of noise came from the direction of the bar. All heads swiveled towards it, where a waitress was leading a small procession to a table of rowdy demons in the corner. They could hear her from where they sat. "Tiouvu?" she inquired. "Your friends wanted me to say 'Happy Pupation!' They ordered you xoxia!"
She stepped aside to reveal the struggling form of the woman from the cage. Lesley, his mind supplied. Her name is Lesley. There was scattered applause from the demons at the table, and Buffy edged forward in her chair, a hungry expression on her face.
"What's xoxia?" He was pretty sure he didn't want to know.
"Eyeballs," she replied without looking at him. "We ran into some of these out in LA - they like to eat people's eyeballs right out of the head. Pretty expensive here because they have to kill her tonight instead of keeping her for a couple months."
Spike watched in horrified fascination as the girl was forced down to where the table waited hungrily.
"Enjoy! And please, help yourself to the brains afterward - compliments of the house!" said the waitress brightly.
"This should be good," said Buffy.
The girl tried to fight, jerking helplessly against her captors, feet desperately seeking purchase to push her body away. A white, fleshy protuberance shot from between the lips of the demon, rippling like a sheet in a coming storm, covering her face. She began to scream, high-pitched shrieks that hurt more than his ears. Beside him, Buffy was nearly vibrating with excitement, grinning wide.
He tried to shut out the pain-filled cries, turn off the part of himself that was drowning in remorse. It didn't matter, it didn't. He wasn't a man, never had been, not for a long time, now, and soon he could be a monster again. Just like them. Just like Buffy. Then he wouldn't care that Buffy was licking her lips, excited by the torment of others, wouldn't care that he'd let that girl be tortured, when she begged him for help. Wouldn't care that at this moment, awash in regret, he couldn't imagine that he'd ever wanted to be that monster again.
Buffy cut her eyes toward him, blew him a kiss, the gesture so sweet and happy that he thought his heart would give way. He didn't see the waitress bring the chisel to the next table so they could crack the girl's skull.
The sound, the hopeless primal howl of pain made his guts twist with sickness; he couldn't keep from looking to where the floor around was spattered red with blood, her hands clawing at the air, unable to move, her ruined, empty sockets staring through him where he sat, ready to be damned for love. With a sickening crack, the demons pulled away a section of her skull. And Buffy laughed.
He didn't remember pushing from the table, running for the door. Chairs were knocked over, glasses fell to shatter on the floor; he could think of nothing save getting out. He hit the exit at a dead run, frantically gulping lungs full of the evening air, fighting to keep the whiskey he'd swallowed in his belly. He could still smell the stink of her fear, he was covered in it, and he barely made it to the ditch at the end of the road before the liquor forced its way out of him, before he collapsed into the mud. His body shook with sobs, and something else - not fear, not exactly, but something next to it.
What had he become?
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
Buffy stood over him, hands on her hips, the streetlight making a halo of her hair. He laughed bitterly. "You know, they always said the devil was beautiful. Guess they were right."
"What? Damn it, Spike, he said to wait there. So what the hell do you think you're doing out here?"
He turned his head, so she could see the moisture shining on his face, the damning tears that she'd always despised in him. "I'm baking a sodding cake. What's it look like I'm doing?"
The impatient sigh wasn't unexpected. "Oh, for god's sake, Spike, what is it now?"
"Sorry, love. Benefit of being all soulful is that you just don't get much of a kick out of vivisection. Torture just doesn't sit well these days, you know?"
She rolled her eyes but came to crouch beside him, brushing a hand softly over his hair. "Oh, is that all? Poor Spikey." She kissed him, not unkindly, and smiled. "Look, he already left, ok? Hour, hour and a half, tops, and you'll be all normal again. Well, normal as you get, anyway. And then, we can--"
"No." It surprised him, honestly, to hear the low determined tone.
"Don't worry, he won't screw it up. He's done it before, remember? No sweat."
"That's not what I meant, Buffy." He kissed her again, one more time, sugar sweetness still on her tongue. He struggled to his feet, wiping his arm around his face. He could feel the trails of filth streaked across his cheeks; only mirrored what he was inside. Dragged his thumb across her soft skin once more. "I'm not - not having it done. Call it off."
"WHAT?" Her puzzled frown gave way to blazing fury, and she shoved him backward, slipping in the muddy weeds. "You fucking asshole! Do you know what I had to go through to get him? Do you know how much it fucking cost me to even have him find out if he could do it? And now you're gonna play all noble? I don't think so. I didn't debone half of Los Angeles to have you chicken out. Tough shit!" She stalked back onto the gravel, scraping the mud from her shoes. "You're getting rid of that fucking thing if I have to cut it out of you myself. Now you get back in there, and you wash up and go sit the fuck down till I tell you it's time to go." She turned on her heel and headed back to the bar, confident that he'd do what he was told, like the good little bitch he was.
He watched her sling the door open and disappear inside.
It was a long way back to town. He started walking.
Continued in Chapter 8
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