Pining

"So... what do you think it's like?" Vi asked the others after the conversation limped to a halt. She leaned forward and fished a slice out of the can on the table. Over the last week, the potentials had shown an uncanny ability to eat anything and everything in the Summers kitchen, and right now this was all that was left in the entire house: one large tin of canned pineapple, and the four girls around the dinner table were intent on eating it before the others got back. After all, Slayers, even potential ones, aren't much for sharing. "I mean, when it first... when you become the Slayer."

Kennedy thought about it. "It's gotta be powerful. Like a real whopper of an orgasm or something, you know?" Vi giggled, Chloe looked down and blushed as she reached for the can. She was only 13, after all. But Kennedy kept going. "I mean, we're talking about getting superpowers. One of us is going to be the next Slayer, that's... what?"

Molly was obviously uncomfortable with that idea. "Guys... should we really be talkin' about this? I mean, for one of us to be the Slayer, that would mean that Buffy would have to..."

Vi shrugged. "Could be that other girl in LA... what's her name, Faith?"

"I know..." Molly picked up a slice and pulled it apart before putting it in her mouth. "I just don't like talkin' about it, 'sall. It's morbid."

Still, Kennedy couldn't help herself. "But just imagine it. Super strength... super reflexes... super healing..."

"Certain death," Chloe pointed out.

"Hey, kiddo, we're already in this. Way I see it, either way our chances don't look too good. At least with Slayer powers, we stand a chance to walk out of here alive or at least get to kick some vampire ass before... " Kennedy noticed the others staring at her... or rather at something behind her. She spun around.

The vampire held up his hands like claws. "Boo."

"Dammit, Spike, stop sneaking up on people." Kennedy glared at him, then turned back and got herself some pineapple from the can. The three other girls weren't sure whether to avoid staring at Kennedy or avoid staring at Spike; they knew that he was on the team, but knowing and feeling are two different things and most of their instincts told them to run like hell every time they saw him. Andrew's stories about William The Bloody hadn't helped much. But for some reason, Kennedy didn't seem half as scared of him. Or anything.

Spike smirked and sat down at the table. "Where are the others at, then?"

"Out training with Giles and Buffy. Dawn and Andrew went shopping. There's no food left in the entire house... well, except for this. You want one?" Kennedy shoved the can over the table towards Spike, who caught it and gazed down into it.

Molly dared to ask the obvious. "I thought vampires didn't... eat?"

"Oh, we can. We just don't need to." Spike fished out a slice and twirled it around his finger thoughtfully. "God, I used to love these before..." He fell silent, regarding the yellow ring on his finger.

"What?"

"Hmmm?"

"Before what?"

"This." Spike went into vamp face, grinning as the girls gasped and shrank back from him. He quickly morphed back again and chuckled. "Sorry 'bout that. But once you've tasted blood, ordinary food just..." He popped the slice into his mouth and chewed cautiously, frowning. "I mean, your priorities change, right? Some things aren't as important anymore. I used to eat these by the cartload back when tin cans were considered the bloody apex of technology. Me... uh, me housekeeper would always make sure to have some pineapple in the cupboard. Hell, I even wrote a poem about'em once. You wanna hear it?"

The girls glanced at each other. No one really dared to say no.
"Uh-huh."
"Sure."

Spike leaned back and closed his eyes, searching his memory. Then he recited, in a much more sophisticated accent than he usually spoke in:

"Thou friend of Chinese chicken!
Thou hand-grenade of sweetness!
Mine fingers I'll be licken'
All for to taste your neatness!
Thou growest in a silly way,
'Tis true, I must admit;
For tree or bush too much you weigh
So on the ground you sit.
But matter not, no matter not
That thou appearest weird
And worry not, no not one jot
When from your stalk you're sheared.
Thy blades may jab and prick my skin
Thy shell it may be rough;
But I'll ignore the pain you bring
Thy taste makes up for't 'nough!
If thou be fresh or tinnéd
Thou art fit for all suggestions!
Thou makes me not break winnéd
Thou givest not indigestion!
O Pineapple, O Pineapple,
For all that thou wouldst grant us
We thank thee, and unto our death
Prefer thee to bananas!"

Nodding to himself, quite pleased, he opened his eyes and looked at the potentials. "What'd'ya think?"

"Um..." Molly certainly didn't want to go first.

"It rhymed." Chloe seemed almost impressed by that. "I like things that rhyme."

Kennedy grinned innocently. "I'm not much into bananas either."

"I-I like peaches," Vi offered, but quickly looked down when she saw Spike's disgusted sneer.

"I hate soddin' peaches. Always did." He still held the can, and now he carefully got out the last slice of pineapple and ate it. Then he sighed. "Just not the same."

For a second, Chloe forgot that he was a vampire; something about him just looked... old. As people do before they learn otherwise, she found herself speaking before thinking. "Do you miss it?"

Almost – almost – immediately Spike scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Please. Miss it? Miss what, the weakness, the sickness, dying of old age before The Dead Kennedys got together?" (The girls looked confused; that last sentence made no sense to them.) "I just wish I'd gotten this soul sooner, is all. Apart from the evil, being a vampire is fantastic. You're strong, you're fast, you can take a beating and love it. It's just... you move on, you give some things up, right?" He looked out the window, put the empty tin back on the table and stood up. "It's getting dark. Better go find Dawn. You behave now, OK girls? Stay inside 'till the rest of us are back. Not safe for you out there." As he walked towards the door, Chloe watched him go.

"TTFN, Spike."

He looked back at her. "Yeah. You too, pet."

END