Thursday, 25 February 2016

What you want (Chapter 2)

Spike remained in his crypt for weeks. At first when he wanted to leave, he wondered; “What if she comes by right now and I’m not here?” When he became annoyed at himself for mooning over her that way and tried to overcome it he never passed the door to the crypt. Whenever he tried his mind would throw up ways they might accidentally meet and while he was thoroughly excited by the prospect, he couldn’t risk her thinking he would give up his side of the bargain so easily.

He called upon Clem for support; begging him to do grocery shopping in exchange for TV time and practicing at kitten poker. It was Clem who kept him in touch with the demon world and gave him his first distraction in weeks when he mentioned the presence of a Suvolte demon locally. Bored, frustrated and in need of some cash to feed his various habits, Spike formulated a plan to entice the Suvolte to nest in his crypt.

It went perfectly – using the alias of “The Doctor” Clem purchased and delivered the required ingredients for a vile concoction which lured the demon with the scent of a potential mate. Upon arrival, it was trapped by a dangerously constructed electrocuted web, held there long enough to lay its eggs and then driven out by strategic use of the same web. During this phase, Spike was electrocuted almost incessantly. After some bartering and nudging there were a couple of potential buyers lining up and Spike was triumphant for several days until a very angry Riley burst open his front door while he and Clem watched TV. Clem stood and retreated rapidly, while Spike maintained his arrogant swagger.

“Soldier boy! I’d no idea you’d be…” his words trailed into silence as Buffy walked into the crypt behind Riley. He abruptly stood and walked towards her, raking his fingers through his hair.

“Buffy, you came!” His surge of relief and joy was tempered by Riley’s presence – there was no reason he could think why she would want to bring her ex along to get him back.

She put her hand out, rejecting him, and his movement slowed. In the background, Clem waved an excited greeting at her before realising he might as well be invisible in this drama.

“Not for….” Her words were tense. “We’re here for the Doctor.”

He was silenced. Although he’d been right, it wasn’t, unfortunately, in the way he had hoped. In the end he managed to mumble out a not-very-convincing “Don’t know what you mean.” Under Riley’s threatening gaze, Spike turned and frantically tried to distract them. “If you brought soldier boy here to experiment, you’re off the mark. I’m strictly a ladies man.”

Enjoying the light of confusion in Riley’s eyes, and finding a measure of relief in Buffy’s nervous tension, Spike pushed a little harder. “Ohhh…” He feigned surprise. “Didn’t you tell him? Was I supposed to be your dirty little secret?”

Riley’s expression changed from confusion to disgust and Buffy flinched. Spike turned a blind eye to her reaction, wanting to rub his triumph into the face of Buffy’s former boyfriend, all too conscious that he’d never had that kind of status himself. Ignoring her was a mistake; her fist came fast and hard, smashing up against his jawline. For a moment his eyes caught hers and in that moment he saw unshed tears. He suddenly felt a failure. He was supposed to make her happy; not do this. Whatever this was. Needling Riley suddenly brought no satisfaction. He wanted them out and was on the verge of telling them to clear off when rustling noises sounded from the entrance to his lower floor, where he stored the eggs and he whipped round to stare. An unknown, athletic female stepped out, dressed as Riley was and with the same nonchalant control over the gun she wielded. She nodded, “The eggs are there.”

“Hey!” Spike’s outrage, although genuine, was a bit flustered. “You can’t just wander around down there, that’s private property! Who the hell are you?”

“Sam Finn, meet Spike. AKA, the Doctor.” Buffy spoke bitterly, and Spike knew her resentment was aimed at him, not the mysterious Ms Finn.

“What is this?” he snarled. “Finn, huh? I don’t remember a sister ever being mentioned, so you must be the Mrs?” When there was no surprise or negative reaction from any of the three, he suddenly felt like a sideshow freak and wondered what kind of kick Buffy was getting out of this. Bitterly he turned to her: “And you! You just happen to lead them here to include me in your big adventure? Why?” Spike, never particularly emotionally stable, was giving full reign to his tendency to lash out irrationally when he was hurt. “Now you know you lost him, you decided to prove to him that he wasn’t missed? What am I in this?”

“You’re the Doctor.” Her words were flat and spoken with absolute conviction. “We wanted to find out who it was that threated Sunnydale with a brace of Suvolte demons. It left a nice clear trail when it escaped your trap and we just had to follow it back to the start. Imagine my surprise when we found it came out of your favourite sewer pipe.” She spoke coldly, staring him in the eyes as she did, barely blinking. “How could you, Spike?”

“What is this? You’re disappointed in me now?” He shrugged and gestured at her as dismissively as he could. “You know what I am. You’ve always known.”

She was silent for a few moments as she struggled for the words. “I should have known.” Her words were quiet. “But for some reason, you made me believe that you wanted to be better than that. I guess that was a lie.” Spike tried to counter her flat statement but she cut him off completely; turning to Riley as she did so. “Let’s grab the eggs.”

Sam opened the hatch to the crypt then hesitated before climbing down. Moving fast, she crouched and gazed into the space below before leaping back up, throwing her belt of explosives and an unclipped grenade down there and slamming down the hatch, holding it firmly down against the explosion.

Nonchalantly she smiled at her husband. “I guess they got too warm – they were already hatching.”

“Not much point staying here then. Buffy?”

She had returned her gaze to Spike and she practically radiated disappointment. “Yeah, I’m with you, Riley.”

As she followed Riley and Sam out, Spike took an impulsive step after her, but then deflated as he realised he’d completely lost. Clem crept forwards and looked enquiringly at Spike. “Now what?” he asked.

“Well there’s no more bloody eggs, that’s for sure.” Spike wrenched the top off the whiskey and swigged from the bottle neck. Abruptly, he turned to Clem, “And what the hell did she mean, being all disappointed at me like that?”

“Well, you know.” Clem’s soul gave him insights Spike lacked. He forgot that sometimes, as now, when Spike had to gesture him to continue because he definitely did not know. “She’s the Slayer. The embodiment of the powers of good. You’re in love with her and want her to love you back. For that to ever happen, she needs you to be good too.”

“I am good,” railed Spike. “With this bloody chip in my head I don’t have any other choice!”

“No.” Clem shook his head and his ears flapped sadly. “No, no. You were trading on the black market, putting a town full of people at the mercy of a family of Suvolte demons, just to make money. That’s not good.”

Spike took another hefty swig of the whiskey and sat morosely on his sofa. The explosion had cut the electricity and the TV now stared blankly back at him.

“Was your bloody idea.” He muttered, offering Clem the whiskey bottle. He declined and sat down too.

Back home, Buffy had seen off Sam and Riley, leaving the Scoobies to revel in how awesome they were while she retreated to her room. She curled up on her bed in silence and hugged a pillow. A part of her was weeping inside, even as her face remained emotionless. Eventually she stood and opened the window. She stared outside for long minutes, wistfully. She’d done this every night for the past week, always looking towards the tree Spike had hidden behind while watching the house. She smiled as she thought how he always believed his actions were completely secret, not realising that every morning she cleared away his cigarette butts. She told herself it was so no-one else realised he was doing it, but couldn’t think of a good reason why that could possibly matter.

The first morning she’d gone out and there were none there, she was shocked. It didn’t seem possible. On a daily basis she expected him to crack and each morning she checked. As time passed, she became confused, almost concerned, and on occasion she even brought him up in Scooby conversations to see if anyone else had seen or heard from him. They hadn’t, but assumed he’d got the message and left town, so his name always sank and disappeared from conversation almost immediately after she raised it.

Before discovering he was the Doctor, she had been on the verge of going to him and inviting him back into her life as a trusted friend. Now she knew that wasn’t possible; no one who could do that could be trusted.

On the other hand, she couldn’t kill him. Yet. If he came for her, she could. If he broke their pact and sought her out, she felt she could consider him fair game. In her mind she listed the reasons that would make it OK to kill him, counting them out, over and over, wondering which would most likely come to pass. Wondering if she could do it.

She’d killed Angel and she’d loved him. Killing Spike would be a piece of nothing. He could fight back, he could hurt her, and it would be justified. And yet a part of her did not want to cross that line.

She lay down in her bed and rolled onto her side, staring out the window. The moon hung heavily in the black sky and she felt isolated. She reached her hands above her head, gripping the bed head, and cast her mind back to the feeling of being in his arms that night. Being cherished. Being loved, even by a demon. She and Spike had crossed a line that night and since then she hadn’t been able to forget.

Back in the crypt, Spike lay on the sofa before the defunct TV, trying to sleep and failing utterly as his mind replayed every particular of the day’s events. He kept fixating in particular on the look in her eyes, the disappointment, as she had given up on him. The loss of his stuff in the basement had barely registered, even when Clem had commented on it and even his discomfort now wasn’t enough to help him forget that moment where he felt her sever the fragile bond they had been building.

Outside, the sounds of demon revelry beckoned but he had no heart for the party and merely wished the upper levels of the crypt were as well soundproofed as the basement. He moved to turn on the TV and growled in frustration as he recalled the damage. Suddenly realising he’d have nothing to keep himself occupied with if he spent a whole day awake, he leaped up and threw his energies into re-establishing comfort in his home.

It took a couple of hours to clean out the basement, but he was left with a nice pile of kindling from the furniture he’d been accumulating, and the ironwork was still mostly intact. The most heavy duty rubbish cleared away, Spike headed to the dump to start collecting replacements, detouring only to pick up some new fuses from a hardware store. From the dump he was able to liberate a few items – a new TV was first on the list, a few old power leads and a blanket were enough to get him through the next day, but as he was walking out he passed a book bin. Unable to resist, he punched a hole in the side of the bin and began sorting through the books left there. They were mostly cheap tatty romance and thrillers that were wildly popular for long enough to have a film made and then everyone started throwing them out. There were a few hard-backed coverless ones as well which he held onto without knowing what they were and a few volumes of poetry. He marched back home and began to set up his meagre new belongings.

In the gloom of the crypt they looked small and insignificant, but he cherished them believing his need for these things brought him closer to humanity and to Buffy.

He settled into one of his books half an hour before Dawn arrived. He greeted her carelessly and she wandered idly round the room, commenting that it had really been hit hard.

“Yeah, soldier boy’s new hook-up redecorated it with a grenade for me.”

“Sam is so cool!” Dawn spoke with fervour and Spike, while understanding such appreciation for wanton destruction felt compelled to remind her that it was his stuff she’d destroyed.

“I’m not, at this moment,” he concluded, “her biggest fan. Speaking of,” he put his book down and unfurled from the sofa to pace towards Dawn, “your sister is particularly unfond of me right now and would definitely not want you here. Why are you?”

Dawn, perfectly relaxed as only a teenager could be, had become restless as he challenged her and now refused to meet his eyes, instead turning and playing with one of the books he’d left in a pile to be read later. When she finally spoke, the words tumbled out as though she couldn’t control them:

“I need your help.”