He hadn't seen her in a week.

Maybe she was feeling guilty over how badly she had beaten the shit out of him? She was always feeling guilty about things she didn't have any business feeling guilty over. Hell, he had told her to put it all on him. Get it out. He could take it. If it kept her from ruining her life because of guilt, fuck, he'd take it.

Or maybe she was finally working through the implications of their conversation that one morning? Small talk, trust, all that. Maybe she was finally realizing he had been right: he was in her system now. He knew what she needed. He saw how she came alive when he was inside her. Sure, it was a slightly different kind of 'alive' than he remembered her being when he'd stalked her as prey, but coming back from the dead has a way of changing your perspective a bit. So, yeah. There was a spark in her eyes when she straddled him. He definitely saw it. And that spark turned into a full blaze when they sparred-til-they-bled all over each other. Dru's eyes would go all fiery too when that perfect level of pain had been reached, so he recognized the look when he saw it.

Still, it had been a week.

She was always coming back to him. So why was she taking so long this time?

He had been following her around lately just like he tended to do and had overheard Willow talking about her upcoming birthday party. The Slayer hadn't responded all that excitedly to the event, so maybe there was something connected to it that was weighing on her too?

All this worrying was causing him to go through whiskey and cigarettes faster than usual. He paced and paced and drank and smoked until he came up with a plan. There had to be a way to fix whatever was wrong.

Maybe if he showed up at the party?

Yes, that was it! He'd be a surprise gift for her. He was sure she'd need it, and he knew she'd want it. For a moment he really savored his last cigarette, watched the smoke curl in the air when he forced breath out.

There was a bit of a scuffling sound then outside his crypt, which shook him from his daydream. But once he could tell it wasn't her, he went back to his plan; it was too early yet for any real nasties, and random teenagers looking for a thrill wouldn't be able to budge his crypt doors.

He started pacing again. The one major snag he seemed to keep coming across was that she'd probably feel obligated to make sure all of her friends had fun and got enough attention. God, there was more guilt for her! How could she enjoy herself at her own party with that? He had to figure out a way to keep them occupied so that he could keep her occupied.

That noise outside got a bit louder, but it didn't stop his back-and-forth path. Rather, it just made him move it closer the crypt door.

They were a clever bunch, though. It pained him to admit that. He'd have to figure out a way to keep them occupied while also not painting himself as a target for abuse; he was still healing from his physical wounds and didn't have patience right now to deal with much else. If they noticed that she was paying him extra attention, they'd try to intervene. He had to play it cool. Act all unaffected and casual, like, yeah, just in the neighborhood, thought I'd drop by. It would really help if he had some back-up for this. Why couldn't someone be on his side for once? He stubbed his nearly-spent cigarette out irritably.

"Spike?" Clem's voice peeked through from behind the rock walls of his crypt, followed by the crinkling of a grocery bag. "Hey, umm… are you home?"

His feet shuffled to a stop at the greeting outside. And a smile slowly cracked across his lips at the thought he just had. He was about to kill two birds with one stone.