Didn't think I'd be back eeeeeh? Well, what can I say? I disappear, and reappear, and etc. etc.

EDIT: - Redone...Re-edited... I should really say. Went through and fixed some shit I should've caught the first time through. Leave some love.


Drunk Vanilla Splendor

Endeavours to engage her in caresses

Which still are unreproved, if undesired.

Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;

Exploring hands encounter no defence

(T. S. Elliot "The Wasteland")

Two in the afternoon was way too damn early to be chasing her ass, he thought. Especially, if you had a hangover. The size of Venus. Shit.

Spike massaged his temples and downed a prairie oyster, which he promptly gagged, and wondered how the hell the concoction would make him feel better. Too much punishment for too small of a crime, he figured.

"Find her. She has our stash. And our food." Jet told him, and as the only sober adult on the ship, excluding Pint-Sized and Woofy obviously, Spike felt that he should probably listen. Jet had always had a soft spot for her, he thought.

When he found her, he would force her to drink prairie oysters until she was sick. The edge of his lips curled upwards, as he thought about her punishment. In his not-quite-sober-yet state, he almost let out a giggle. Starvation. Prohibition. Cigarette burns. Ahhh, revenge was such a succulent dish.

Too bad he'd have to find her first.

Spike growled as he picked up his jacket and sauntered to the hanger. His to-do list today was short: find the bitch, bring her back, then drink until he couldn't piss straight. He giggled, and then stopped.

Where the hell was the Swordfish?

"Oh yea, she took your ship."

Spike paused and tried to collect himself. It was on now. He was going to beat her the way her parents should've.

Bitch.

She wasn't hard to find the first time. Her ship was parked out in the middle of a dessert. She wasn't hard to spot, the first time. Tanning, she smelled of sunscreen and vodka when she looked up at him. A tiny bikini covered –well - was all she wore. She took one look at Spike, and gulped down the rest of her Bloody Mary, before she went back and packed her shit.

The second time, she had been in some cheap motel, chewing on some burgers. Her sunglasses were on, and when he opened the door, she just cocked a smile. Then she threw the burger at him - the wrapper to be exact. Faye Valentine would never waste food. She tried to pull out her gun, but a simple swipe of his hand disarmed the gun. It really was too easy.

Then the third, the fourth, the sixth, the god-knows-how-many-cause-I-sure-as-hell-fucking-don't. Eventually, he gave up trying to count the time she would get tired, leave, and come back. Sometimes, she kicked and screamed, but usually, she just sat there, looking very complacent, and very, very drunk.

Her hiding places were easy to find. She was rather easy to find, actually. For an ex-member of the Red Dragon – one who was used to tracking down men with nothing to but a name - finding Faye and the path of destruction she usually left was pretty easy. Go to the nearest bars, or find the store with the most recent million woolong shopping spree. Pull a 50 yard radius, and voila.

Which is why this time was strange. The Tomato turned up nothing. Even Ein couldn't pick up her scent. Completely ridiculous, he thought. This woman is not worth my time. Except Jet wouldn't let him back on the ship until he found her, which meant no food, which meant hungry, surly, hung-over, and very unhappy Spike.

"Fuck," he mumbled.

Sigh, good ol' Jet. Always the paternal figure, always willing to put up with his shit, always willing to cook the most delicious beef and peppers. Which was really just peppers, he told his grumbling stomach. But it was still substance, and he would eat whatever his pal dished out. It was an unwritten rule, and probably the only one that Faye followed.

There was no trace of her this time. No Poker Alice rumors, no motel accounts, nothing. Spike supposed she could have died or been in trouble but no, it was Faye Valentine. Ms. Unstoppable herself. He pitied the guy who would try anything on that wildcat. Besides, the universe hated him too much to grant him a wish.

Still, he wasn't worried or anything. She'd turn up. It had only been 2 weeks. His stomach grumbled again.

Shut up. I'll feed you soon." He told his internal organs. They begged, and whined, and eventually shut the hell up.

He asked around, wondered if anyone had seen a beautiful woman walk by. They would ask how they could know. Or how beautiful, depending on the crowd.

You'd know, he told them. Faye Valentine was one of those women who you knew had walked into a room. Partially because of her god-given "attributes," and partially because she would never let you forget it. With that body and that attitude, Faye was the femme fatale that would induce tented pants and little boys beating off.

Strange. No one had seen her. She became a ghost, and Spike had to call in the real muscle.

"I need you to check all gate records for a ship resembling the swordfish." He ordered his com in a quiet, composed manner. After all, it was too much effort to be worried. Or nervous. Or even care. It was all about the ship. Fuck her.

Ed has already checked, and nothing. Faye-person is gooooooone!" Chirpy little kid. A little angry, Spike didn't dignify her information with a response. He hung up without any parting words. Still hungry, still tired, and now really exasperated, Spike supposed he would have to go through the old fashioned way.

And when he found her, he would lock her in a room forever. Or cigarette burns. Heh. Yea. Definitely.

He called some earlier contacts, and eventually even resorted to low-life crimes and thuggery. His knuckles were sore, and he really wanted, no scratch that, needed a drink. It had been what? Three weeks? God. Booze, at this rate, his liver might actually function again.

Spike pulled out a cigarette and lit it with a quick round from his gun. The bullet was flying above him in the red golden haze of sunset that was Andromeda-6.

Staring into the sky, he tried to picture heaven. A place with free booze, loose women, and no mother fucking on-the-loose-Faye. Who, it turned out, was a lot more troublesome than normal on-the-ship-Faye.

The sun set behind him, and he closed his eyes taking a swig of the cheap smelling alcohol he had "found." If he concentrated, he could almost smell her scent of smoke, vanilla, and something distinctly purple. She was nothing like Julia, he decided. Julia, who was smart, cunning, blond, and always smelled of some designer perfume. Modern, edgy, and oh so fatal. He smiled grimly. What a woman.

Sometimes when Faye smiled, a real smile, and not the shark finned flash of teeth she would hand off, but the real genuine thank-you-for-caring ones that she almost never gave, he saw a similar face behind hers. She sorta, kinda, in a way, resembled the Julia he once knew. Or didn't know, he ruefully glugged down more cheap vodka.

Tch. Women.

He had to hand it to her though. Faye was more passionate. Loud. Bossy. Crazy son of a bitch that one was. She didn't care what others thought, and he compared that image to the one of quiet, soft-spoken but deadly Julia. The girl with sun bleached hair, who would keep things like cases, boyfriends, and affairs under tight wraps. For pretense. Faye would have run off in a giant explosion of cherry colored lipstick.

Spike was sure.

The sun went down slowly, and Spike smelled the machines that pumped out liquid night. It was fake, he knew. The gasses on the planet were 60 feet deep, and the surface of the planet would never see the night sky, but let's give them some hope.

Alcohol did hazy things to his mind, making him appreciate, muse, and hope. His usual hopes were more mundane. Tiny things like Faye to get out of the shower so he could piss. Faye to not eat his damn food. Or that Faye didn't steal all of his cigarettes. Good god, did this woman ever stop?

What, Faye, where you beaten as a child? He chuckled and promises to ask that question when he sees her. She would flip and yell at him. Which was better than being hit. Which was better than crying. She did that too, whenever she was sure that no one else was looking. He heard her muffled sobs as she tried to pretend that having no memories, and being hated didn't matter to her. Then she would light another cigarette. Or leave.

Bitch, Bitch. Doom Gloom. Why did she have to make life so damn difficult?

He knew then, that he thought too much about that damn girl. The one who was currently MIA and still tangled in his hair. He ran a hand through it, and decided to go and pick her up. One last time, he lied. But every time was his last, until the next time.

He flicked his cigarette away, and placed the empty bottle on the floor. Then he slowly lowered himself into the window of the apartment with the pale white orchids.

He wasn't worried.

There was one time that had been very different, he remembered as he pushed a long leg inside the window, careful to mind plants and making unnecessary sound. He had shown up, and she had been ready to fight. Of course, it had taken all but four moves to subdue her, but her shots were serious, and Spike couldn't help feeling as though she had been protecting something. Faye had looked up with glossy lips and new hoop earrings only to shoot and run.

He had carried her kicking and screaming back to the ship. Then he tied her up and applied duct tape liberally, and there had been no more kicking and screaming after that.

But she had smelled differently. Altered in some form and way. On the ship, had had tucked her into the bed, and he remembered now, how she had looked up at him with pensive eyes.

I'm not removing the duct tape. Deal with it." And with that, he had left. She was a tough girl, that Faye.

Sure enough, within three days, she had emerged from her room to hog up the bathroom, and do all the other dumb shit she was prone to do.

But it had been different.

He thought of that as he perused the apartment. Spacious, and well furnished, it was everything she was not. Edgy, modern, elegant and oh so chic. He actually felt rather disgusting for leaving dark print marks on the carpet, but he was there for Faye, not home décor.

The whole place was bathed in the last few drops of sunlight, and it painted the room in that warm rusty orange color. Eventually, it would disappear, and be replaced by an endless void of dark. There were no stars in the man-made heavens, and Spike couldn't help feel sorry for the residents. Oh booze and the wonderful pathos it provided.

Footsteps were coming, and Spike quickly hid himself behind the drapes. Beside him, the curtains billowed in the night sky, and he heard the telltale honks and whistles of city life slowly winding down.

Looking calm, she came out in a silk robe. Her face was make-up free, and her hair was up in a ponytail.

Her modest robe was slightly wet from the shower she had obviously taken, and her outfit was even complete with fuzzy pink slippers.

To add to the absurdity, she filled the room with her scent. Vanilla and sadness.

Spike almost gagged. This was not the woman on Jet's ship. This was some alien, foreign woman with no red lipstick and no haughty walk.

This woman crossed the room, opened the fridge, and pulled out ice cream. She poked around the cabinets for a few seconds, until she found a spoon. Then she closed her eyes and seemed to enjoy her luxury.

If Spike had been sober, he would have been baffled. How had she gotten this apartment? There was no way they had enough to buy all of that. Instead, in his inebriated state, he could only think: what the hell?

Growling, he stepped out of the drapes. She was so intent on her damned ice cream that she didn't even notice.

He coughed, letting her know he was there. She swore, and almost dropped her ice cream. After a few moments of fumbling, she had placed both down, and was nervously backing up against the countertop.

"Spike. You're here." She deadpanned, and looked at the window. It was completely dark now, and the only light in the room came from the neon golden ones that illuminated the apartment in a now yellow haze.

He crossed the room, and she turned around. Slowly, he made his way towards her. Just incase she was going to throw the ice cream or the damned spoon at him, he wanted enough room to dodge.

Four feet away, he saw her shoulders tremble. Her breathing was irregular, and he heard her. Trying to hold back her sobs.

Spike paused.

"Faye…" He tentatively reached out for her shoulder.

"Don't fucking touch me." She barked out. Her voice, even breaking and cracking, was ominous and dark.

Don't you dare touch me." Softer now. Her hands went to her face, and Spike felt a moment of guilt.

"This isn't mine. It's all his." She whispered. "I walk into the bar, get drunk off my ass, puke over his shoes, and he proposes right there. He isn't old. He isn't a moron. He just picks me up and lets me stay." She straightened her back, and wiped her eyes, before she turned around and looked at him.

"Don't touch me," she whispers. He knows what she is thinking. Or else this will all go away.

Her eyes were red, and for a moment, Spike wondered how life would have been like for this woman had she not been frozen. She would have had kids, and a husband to love her. She wouldn't have been stuck on some ship with a genius dog, a dumb kid, a rotting geezer, and himself. The king of past mistakes.

He couldn't say anything, but he couldn't move either. To back off would allow her to live in this happy little world. To speak would break her. Even tipsy, he could tell this was not something to fuck with.

"I could've had this life. But no. I had to go and put myself on some god damned ship, and worse of all, I had to …fall… god. You, Spike, are the worst man I know. You smoke. You drink. You gamble. You fuck around."

"So do you." He wished he could tell her that it wasn't like that, but lying never got him quite where he needed to be. Images of a silver-haired friend came to mind.

"Shut up." Her eyes glowed, and her words picked up momentum. "You run around, pretending you don't care, and wait around for the perfect girl. Whose name I don't know, but I'm willing to bet is pretty. And you waste your life, and all your fucking potential waiting if not for her, than something else. You sit there. Waiting. Not doing a damn thing."

Then she pauses, and breathes. When she begins again, her voice quivers, and "I don't understand why… God. Fuck." she trailed off.

Spike stood there. Quiet, reserved, and waiting. She was right in some senses, but wrong in others. Oh so wrong.

"Faye. Jet wants his stuff." He did too, but now wasn't the time to mention his cigarette addiction.

"It's on the table. Along with your keys. Take it and go." She pushed past him, trying so damn hard to look so damn cool.

He grabbed her arm, and she stiffened. Whoever this asshole was, he would have been good for her, Spike knew. This man could stand Faye drunk - he had to be some sort of deity. That was what logic dictated, but instead, he held on. Sobered up like that.

He stared into her eyes, feeling selfish, but not without purpose.

She blinked first.

Her bag of stuff was still sitting on his ship. It was the same ugly duffel bag that she carried from place to place in the same ugly color her cardigan was in. The bright red bag bothered Spike, often staring him down in the middle of repairs and making him pause.

It growled sometimes. He swore it.

Today, he felt rather tired of the bag's beady little nonexistent eyes, its unsaid curses, and most of all, its accusing glare.

"Fuck you. No. Fuck. You. He could have been a murderer." He refused to look up, turning another screw in the belly of his favorite flying mistress. He had been selfish, but it hadn't been pointless. And, technically it was not a lie. He could have been.

"Death trap of an apartment." Okay, that one definitely was. He gave up.

"Just shut up." He needed a drink.

Jet stood in the doorway, and Spike gave no indication that he saw his fellow shipmate, and instead, returned his attention to the paint job of his beloved.

"You could be a gentlemen you know." And then Jet whistled and disappeared from the frame. Or so Spike assumed, as he of course had not been looking or - more importantly - listening.

Fuck.

He picked up the red bag, a few days later, and slowly made his way to her room. The door was locked, and Ed was outside, hacking away at her tomato.

"Faye-Faye's gonna be real mad if you go in." She said, in that annoyingly high-pitched singsong voice.

He didn't even spare her a glance, as he kicked the lock and opened the door. The air inside was heavy with cigarette fumes, booze, and regret. The one scent Spike could pick up anywhere. Anytime.

He threw the bag on the bed unceremoniously, and the figure on the bed didn't move. She had her back to him, and without turning around, a manicured hand reached over, gently probing the newly acquired bag for another pack of cigarettes. So he assumed.

Spike gently wrenched the cancer sticks from her hand, which promptly lay limp against her form.

"You'll die from these." Fuck.

What he really meant to say was a lot different. I'm sorry Faye. For everything. Because even if I hate my past, I know it at least. That's what counts, the memories. Well that and my giant fucking red eye that allows me to record and replay. And replay. And replay. Shit. I'm sorry that you don't have the same thing. And I'm really sorry that all you have is a broken down ship, whistling Iron Chef Jet, some rabid dog, and the kid. I'm sorry that I can't be undamaged or unhurt. Really.

"You should quit." He said instead, and put a cigarette in his mouth, and lit it. Faye's limp hands rose and she gave him the one finger salute. Spike smiled, and closed the broken door.

Later. As he laid beneath his ship, looking at the dark red steel, he picked up the package of pilfered carcinogenic goodness. He runs his finger down the side reading "Warning: Will Cause Complication in Pregnancy" in bright capitol letters. Heh. He didn't have to worry about that.

Turning it over, he brought it close to his face. Sniff. The red sand white box exuded her. He could smell her unwashed hair, and cheap cosmetics. Along with a hint of Jet's detergent and Ein's dog food, but there was an unmistakable smell beneath all of it.

Vanilla.