Spike would never forget the first car he ever saw. It was at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, and he and Dru were checking out the dinner menu as it walked around the fairgrounds and marveled at the sights. A pagoda! Fancy that. Buffalo Bill charging around shooting off caps at bored Indians never failed to get the blood going. Gave it a nice tang. Angelus and Darla were content to wait at their posh hotel for nightfall, which was fine for the old folks, but he and Dru were young; they hadn't give up on their unlife yet, not like their older-but-not-betters. They stuck to the shadows and enjoyed the fair, examining unlikely new inventions in the huge whitewashed halls and laughing as the yokels gawked at things they'd never seen before, like front teeth and shoes.
Then there it was, shaking and heaving, stuttering from end to end of one of the smaller squares as rubes gaped at the boxy machine. It belched smoke as it rattled around, scaring horses and making bystanders shriek. Drusilla disliked it, and said it smelled like a toadstool that hadn't taken its headache powder.
But by then it was too late.
Spike was in love.
She was sleek and slim—slimmer than any he'd had before. A tight fit, but a thrilling ride.
She couldn't corner for shit, though.
"You almost hit that old lady stepping into the street," Drusilla accused, daintily tucking her hair behind her ears. Since the car was open-air it whipped right out again, but she didn't seem to notice. "Go back and try again!"
"Can't, baby, or we'll miss our boat," Spike said, wrapping his arm around Dru and crooning as she began to rock back and forth and whine. Loved a good smash-up, she did. He couldn't blame her, really; he loved them himself.
"We shan't make the boat. The moon has shadowed its face, and our path is all mud."
Irritation speared through Spike. "You always say that whenever we—"
"There! There, in the red!" Dru cried, pointing at a fashionably garbed woman crossing the street.
"You want me to hit her?"
"Spike! It's Grandmummy!"
Ah, crud. "Is that a yes?
"Stop the automobile!"
"Fine," Spike mumbled resentfully. God, he thought he was rid of the bat years ago. Bad enough they'd had to be under her thumb for so long, hers and Angelus's. And now that overgrown potato of an Irishman was stuck with a soul and probably out begging for blood on a street corner, and Spike still had to mind his manners for his tartar of a great-grandmother. Wonderful.
Darla drew aside in disdain as the car pulled alongside her. She stuck her nose in the air and cast a sidelong glance at the simpletons who insisted on disordering the road with their clattering machine. She stopped cold when she recognized her two most unfortunate progeny.
"William, I can't believe you've been foolish enough to fall for the human fad of motorized cars!" she scolded. "I mean, I completely believe it, because you're … you, but the noise! The stench! It's repellent!"
"We don't all have a broomstick to ride about on," he muttered under his breath as Drusilla chattered away.
"It's embarrassing for members of the Master's line to be seen in such an undignified conveyance," Darla added, making Spike grit his teeth. "The carriage has been the transportation of the aristocracy for centuries. This is an abomination of the industrial age."
"This doesn't drop shit every two blocks."
Now Darla gritted her teeth. Without Angelus as a buffer she'd been unable to stand him for very long, for which he'd always been profoundly grateful. "Fine. I take it all back. It suits you perfectly—just don't mistake that as a compliment."
Spike scowled. "We'll see which is around longer, you or the auto car."
Darla's face darkened. "You're so human in your tastes, William—it's as if you were never even turned."
Drusilla piped up. "He was turned! He glowed as Jupiter before the trees fell. It drew me to him. Now he glows still, but quietly, so I can see it only sometimes."
Darla pursed her mouth. "Congratulations on your phosphorescence. Now if you don't mind, I have an appointment with a very rich man who's going to die unexpectedly. I really do have to be there to see that his affairs are in order."
"Naughty Grandma!" exclaimed Drusilla, clapping her hands.
Darla drew back from the curb, lifting her skirts a little. "Try not to crash," she tossed out behind her.
Spike started up the car and was happy to leave his great-grandwitch behind him. He hoped the next car down the road hit her but good.
"You better believe she is," Spike agreed. Didn't matter what Dru was referring to; whatever the subject, Darla was wrong. Or should be wrong. Or staked. Something to that effect.
"Horses aren't going to pull carriages much longer."
Spike chuckled and squeezed her shoulder. "Automobiles are the way of the future, love?"
"No, silly. Cats. In the future, all transportation will be done by cat."
Repressing a sigh, he patted her as if in agreement. It didn't do to point out how unlikely some of the things she predicted were; it only made her melancholy.
"But you know what, sweet William?"
"What's that, my love?"
"Cat crashes won't be nearly as much fun."
It was an uncomfortable trip.
The DeSoto wasn't made for long hauls. It was a classic, muscular and masculine, the kind of car that made women lose their skirts and made men think they were tough enough to drive it. They weren't.
But it was perfect for him and Dru. Usually.
But with Drusilla screaming at him every inch of the trip, pounding her surprisingly strong fists against his shoulders and attempting to grab the wheel—something that would be foolhardy even if she weren't enraged, as she had the attention span of a gnat—he'd been forced to restrain her, which he hated. He tried to explain that it was for her own good, that it was because he loved her, that she'd realize that when she calmed down. Finally her thrashing eased and he pulled over and loosened the ropes binding her. As soon as her hands were free he took them in his and rubbed them tenderly, telling her without words how sorry he was, how much he hated to have done this to her. She was his moon, his stars. His dark princess. She'd made him what he was. She was his everything.
She let him soothe her, comfort her, and then she cradled his face in her hands, as tenderly as she had when he'd first awoken as a vampire, and sunk her teeth into his ear. He screamed and jerked back. She still had a chunk of his flesh between her teeth when he grabbed her hands and wrapped the rope around them again. When they went through towns, he had her safely in the trunk. As soon as he'd take her out he'd spend all of his time apologizing, but she wouldn't listen. After all their years together, after all he'd done for her, she still didn't understand. It was all for her.
It was only ever for her.
She nudged against him in the DeSoto, barely awake, her eyes peering at the black paint that protected them.
Chicks always loved the DeSoto.
But now …now he was starting to wonder if he hadn't made a mistake. The whole thing, one giant mistake that was going to bite him on his tight little ass. She'd seemed fine a couple nights ago—half a bottle of Jack could do that to you—but now she mostly seemed annoying. Maybe he'd drop her off at some farm town, or just open the door on a sharp turn. That ought to do it.
But the alternative was … what? Skulk around alone? Spend some quality time with his hand? No one to talk to, no one to shag, no one to curl around while he was sleeping? Sulking around acting the brooding loner was fine for Angel, no thanks, as far as Spike was concerned.
"I don't know why we're going to Sunnydale," the girl groused, pushing closer until her slid his arm around her shoulder. "L.A. has way better nightlife, and the stores are—"
"I told you why I'm going to Sunnydale. It was your idea to tag along."
"Well, that's nice!"
"Never said I was nice," he reminded her, lighting up. Maybe if he smoked enough she'd flee the car in disgust. Hmm. He wondered how many cigarettes he could stuff in his mouth at once.
"Have you ever been to Sunnydale? It's the middle of East Nowhere. There's nothing there, and it's full of losers and loser wannabes. We should go somewhere more exciting. You know where we should go? France."
Spike ran his hand over the DeSoto's dashboard. It was pockmarked in places, the legacy of cigarette burns and Drusilla's heels and the occasional weapons mishap.
"So … how do you like it?" he asked, careful to stay in the shade.
The man peered at the car dubiously. "What's with the paint on the windows? That's a hazard."
"It's for privacy. And, uh … naps."
"Sleeping off hangovers, entertaining the ladies, that sort of thing. Look, do you want it or not?"
The man edged away discreetly. "You know, pal, I really don't think that would fit in on my lot. Sorry."
Spike's mouth thinned. "Fine," he bit out. He'd tried it the Slayer's way. As if any of the local pissants would appreciate true quality when it came to cars.
The salesman didn't notice when Spike slunk along the side of the lot, darting from shadow to shadow. He didn't notice when Spike slipped open the door to the RV and slapped aluminum foil against the windshield, or when he hotwired the behemoth.
He sure as hell noticed when Spike steered the monster out of the lot, and ran behind, screaming like a banshee. Spike let his laughter ring out then, risking a burn to unroll the window and shout obscenities back at him, insulting his taste, his clothing, his parentage, his hairline.
The RV wasn't to his taste. There was a speedy little coupe he'd liked, but the Slayer wanted something big enough for all the Scoobies, and this was pretty much it.
She'd asked him do it. She hated him, at least that's what she said. Wouldn't touch him, could never care for him. But when her back was up against the wall, she came to him. Not her friends. Not her big-browed former true loves. Him.
He cast a wistful glance in the side mirror, catching a last glimpse of the DeSoto as he took a right. Maybe it would be there when he got back, assuming he actually survived. Which was highly optimistic, considering they were taking on a hellgod and a legion of warrior monks.
He floored the gas, and headed straight to Buffy. There'd always be other cars.
Maybe he wouldn't be coming back, but at least for now he had wheels.