I had to congratulate myself for not turning back around the hundred or so times I thought of it between Restfield and the edge of town. I slowed down by the Welcome to Sunnydale sign and stopped. I was actually leaving my Slayer.

Damn bloody right, I am!

I'd forgotten for a few minutes what she'd tried to get me to do, but now the rage is back. I stomp on the gas pedal and don't look back.

Get almost halfway to L.A., when I'm reminded why I parked the Desoto by the hot engine smell flowing through the vents. That mom-and-pop auto store in Sunnyhell had wanted too much to order me a new thermostat, so I'd never fixed the problem. It's not like the town was so big that I couldn't walk everywhere I wanted to go. Well, it's a bitch, but I can limp my baby into L.A. far enough to find a shop. Delays my plans a bit, but it's worth it. This car's the only thing that's been loyal to me since my mother.

I stop at the bank holding my funds from the liquidated Amara stash, then find a motel with nearby sewer access. Look up a couple addresses in the book, then take to the streets. Sun sets early in November, so the stores are still open. Lucky me, the first store I try say they have one in stock that'll work. I pay for the part and some antifreeze, and wish the kid behind the counter a good night.

See, Slayer – I do actually have manners, when I feel like using them.

Even as I walk out of the store and back to the motel, I'm thinking how shocked she would be to see me just walk into a store and pay like any other bloke. Never gave me any credit for surviving this long in a world of humans. I learned to pick my battles, you know. Had to, once it was just Dru and I.

Fix the Desoto, stop for fuel, and head up into the hills of Beverly. Normally, I avoid this town, but I needed to make two stops – the bank, and an old friend.

------------

Spike pulled up to the gated house and punched in the code on the security panel, hoping she hadn't changed it. The gates parted, he smiled, and drove up to the house. Place still looked immaculate as ever. Being in no rush, he rang the bell like a good boy instead of barging right in. She sort of hated that, anyway.

The butler opened the door and looked Spike over, quirking a brow. "May I help you?" he asked snobbishly.

"No, but she can," Spike answered cheekily, pointing to the lady coming up behind the servant. She was tall, with long white hair and a shapely figure.

"William! It's been ages. What brings you to my home," she cheerfully greeted, pushing past the butler to take Spike's hands and draw him inward. She sobered upon contact. "Oh…goodness, William, what have you gotten yourself into this time?" she gently chastised him.

------------

Yavanna's eyes widened at the spell enclosed, as well as the details surrounding the event. "William…I…this is a very big favor."

"I know, and I wouldn't ask if I didn't think she needed it. You don't understand, Yavanna…she's not the same. There are parts I recognize still, of the woman I fell in love with, but it's like there's something…"

"Missing. Yes, I saw. Very well, I will check the status of your Slayer, but on one condition."

"You're the one who owes the favor, pet, not me," he teased.

"Ah, but this is a heavy favor. More than what you did for me, so many years ago. What I ask for is not a great price – just let me paint you."

Spike grimaced, rolling his eyes. "You're not asking for that again? I've told you before…"

"Yes, yes, 'It's bad for your reputation'. I promise, it will stay in the house. I won't sell it. Please, William? Your features are an artist's dream," she flattered.

He sighed, knowing she wouldn't let up on it. He was asking her for a lot, after all. "Fine. But after you check the spell. It's bad enough I'll have to sit in one place for hours," he grumbled.

"I know, William. She's very lucky, that you love her so."

He shrugged in a self-deprecating fashion. "If only she agreed with you. It's good seeing you again." Spike kissed her cheek as he stood to leave. "Thanks, luv."

------------

Well, since I have to stay in L.A. at least another day, I figure I should send my grandsire a gesture of good will so he won't hunt me down. I can feel that he's in town, so I know he can feel me. I pick up a good, but not too expensive bottle of Irish whisky and pay a boy to deliver it to the hotel. Too risky to bring it by myself – his crew will be in 'stake first, ask questions later' mode. That errand accomplished, I head for a demon bar I know to have good gossip, and start digging around. I want to know if any lowlife has been spoutin' off about heading to the Hellmouth to challenge the Slayer. She's too vulnerable right now to face a big bad.

Oh, good, it's early enough I haven't missed the floor show. I take the empty stool at the corner of the bar and watch the chanteuse on stage give her best sultry rendition of some jazz number. Reminds me of New Orleans in the '30s – smoky, dark gin joints under stores, full of humans and demons just trying to express themselves in an age of repression and decline. Without jazz, we wouldn't have gotten rock and roll, and without rock, no punk…and that would have been a cryin' shame.

I push away the reminiscing for another time and tune my ears into the conversations around the room. Vampire hearing makes spying almost too easy. I catch talk of demon hunters, lawyers, and my grandsire, but nothing about the Hellmouth after an hour of listening, so I order one more blood and vodka, then shove off. The book store I need doesn't open until midnight, so I head back to my room to enjoy a bottle of Jack and some television.

Since when did I shy away from company so often?

Ah, that's right – since I stopped feeling like I belonged anywhere. Since that bloody chip made me consider my food as friends. Since falling for a Slayer made me more man than demon, but not man enough to fit in with humans, either. Since the only people I could trust became a floppy-eared wrinkly-skinned demon, and a teenage girl.

I laugh as more of the whisky burns down my throat. Shouldn't surprise me, right? I never fit. From the time I entered school as a boy smaller than the others, I hadn't fit in. Too soft, too much of a dreamer, too naïve, too trusting…and then, too human still to ever claim the full devotion of my sire. No, that's not right. My only fault there was not being Angelus, which had nothing to do with me. Know it in my head, always did. Doesn't mean it didn't sting. Always wanted what was never really his – that's William. That's Spike.

Better put the bottle down, mate. You're getting too maudlin for it being this early, and there's still research to do.

Sling my coat across my shoulders and out the door at 11:30. I walk up just as the shopkeeper is unlocking the store and request the section I'm looking for. I inhale the scent of old books as I cross the threshold and smile. That smell will always carry fond memories. I sought out this shop because it's part store, part library, so the old bird at the counter won't mind me reading in the back for hours. She comes around after about a half hour to ask if I need assistance and offer me some tea.

"That would be lovely, pet. Thank you," I say. She blushes a bit at the endearment and rushes off. Surprises me a few minutes later by remembering how I like it from the last time I was here. That was two years ago, when I was searching for the Gem! She just winks at me, and I wonder whether she might not be human, after all.

I make my notes and tuck them away, then purchase the book I found for Rupert. My Slayer had wanted to explore her origins after Drac's visit, but never got much of a chance once Glory arrived. I think this should answer some questions for the both of them. The old bird kindly wraps it in brown paper for me so I can post it back home. Gotta love full service shops. She magic mails the book to The Magic Shop easy as pie, so I can call it a night. The sun's coming up, and my room has eastern exposure.

-------------

Spike rang the bell at Yavanna's promptly at 7pm. He wasn't surprised to see her answer it, instead of the butler.

"Well?" he asked impatiently.

"Hello to you, too, William. Such impatience in youth," she replied, shaking her head. Yavanna turned and walked towards the living room, leaving Spike to follow eagerly on her hells.

"Youth?! I'm well over a hundred."

"And I'm over 5000, last I remember. So, to me, you're still a boy," she teased.

He was about to make some crude comment about not being built like a boy, then thought better of it since she still hadn't told him what he came for. "So? What did you find out?"

"Your assumption about your Slayer is correct. When the resurrection spell was interrupted, part of her soul, her essence, was left behind. It's why she seems…lacking, and why your chip doesn't register her as completely human anymore."

"Because she's more Slayer demon now than before…"

She nodded, impressed. "I see you have done your homework. The Slayer feels your kind because she is sensing kindred, but since she only has the essence of a predator, her human soul guides which side she fights for. You're not the first vampire to love a Slayer, nor is she the first Slayer to be drawn to vampires. It's not common, but it happens between two strong members of each side."

"I read all about that," he said dismissively. "Tell me how to fix her."

-------------

As I prepare for the next leg of my journey, I contemplate how I am truly Love's Bitch. This is probably going to take a few weeks, so I send a letter to my Niblet so she won't worry, and call Clem to give him an update. I'm going to need someone to watch the crypt longer than I anticipated. Being the good friend he is, though, he doesn't mind. I want to ask if the Slayer's dropped by, but decide not to torture myself. There's no reason for her to miss me – we've never been more than almost friends, after all.

Things go to plan, and she's not even going to notice anything's different – just feel better. Whatever it takes for her recovery, right? It's what anyone would do. That's what I keep telling myself as I take my first flight on my way to Africa.

I'm going to seek a legend, even if it kills me.

The End