I spent four hours figuring out you can't skip stones across quicksand. Not that it was quicksand. It was a swamp hole, whatever that's supposed to be. Looked like a big bunch of mud, not that different from other spots in the moor that were presumably safe.
Safe. I closed my eyes and let the last stone fall. I tried to listen, to see if I could still hear him but the moor was silent. After a while I opened my eyes back up and distracted myself by looking down at my feet for the stone. It had gotten lost in the roots of the tree. Finally, inevitably, my gaze swept up the trunk, along the tangled branches, and followed one thick vine down into the mud, where he'd disappeared so completely. I tried to imagine what he'd say if he were there besides me. Something sarcastic certainly. "It took you four bloody hours? Any idiot knows you can't skip stones across mud."
"Hey! I was bored. I've got all day to kill here and it's not like I can go anywhere, not being able to spot the mudholes or quicksand or whatever," I shouted back. Mind is the first to go, so they say. Don't know who says that but seemed to be true.
"Too right you're not going anywhere. Not like I can save you from the bottom of this swamp hole."
Nothing I could say to that so I climbed up into the tree, onto the side that wasn't leaning over the mud, hoping to find somebody who could lead me off the moor. Nobody as far as my eye could see. There were a bunch of plants, growing all over the place, grasses and flowers, some with purple petals and others with white. Couple of dead trees next to the mud. They had glowed, ghostly pale, in the darkness just before the dawn, leading us here, where I was stuck, waiting to be led out before I got myself killed.
I'd never known a day could drag out so slowly.
I glanced up at the sun; enough light to kill vampires but not enough to keep me warm. I couldn't think of anything else to do so I started singing. "That lucky ole sun's got nothing better to do but roll around Heaven all day." Then, since I hadn't felt so lonely since Spike had come to Scotland, "I'm so lonesome I could cry," followed by "You'll never leave Harlan alive". I sang, "It was raining the day mama picked me up from prison," just to keep the bad weather at bay and "Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys," just because. Willie Nelson took me to "Heartbreak Hotel" because he'd done a kick-ass cover of it. Since I could never get Willow to listen to the really good country music, I switched to something a bit more contemporary with "Whose bed have your boots been under," but, when I got to the line "Whose lips have you been kissing," I thought of Cordelia and how finding us together had almost killed her, literally.
"Cordy?" I called out, not knowing whether she could hear me or not. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean, well, no, that's not true. I did mean to kiss Willow but I don't know why and I really, really didn't mean to hurt you. I guess you were too good for me." I stopped. He never liked it when I said things like that. If he'd heard, I'd get a long lecture on how I was better than I thought I was and why, if I could see every-bloody-body else, couldn't I see myself.
Sighing I looked up but the sun was nowhere near the horizon. Great. He'd have hours to brood over my insecurities. Maybe I should wander off and get stuck in the quicksand I thought but than I realized he'd kill me if I did something so stupid. I climbed back out of the tree, figuring there'd be hell to pay because I'd gotten up there in the first place but I'd checked that it was sturdy before putting my full weight on it. I cupped my hands and shouted down towards the mud, "I'm not stupid." No response. Not like I'd been expecting one.
I leaned against the rough bark of the tree and closed my eyes, trying for a nap. Something rustled nearby. Leaping up, I scanned the tall grass but saw nothing. Shit. I finally figured out why people mowed their lawns. Who knew what could be out there, sneaking up on me. Did they have tigers in Scotland? Probably not but they could have some type of big cats. Or wolves. But wolves would howl, wouldn't they? To let me know they were coming? No, wait, hunters were silent. Well, except for some demons that liked to taunt their prey, sort of like cats playing with a mouse but I was pretty sure wolves weren't like that. If it was wolves.
I climbed back up into the tree, figuring it was safer than the ground. I couldn't see anything in the grass and the rustling had stopped. Maybe it had just been the wind.
After a while, my heart stopped pounding and I got bored of waiting for a wolf to devour me so I started reviewing the card tricks Spike had shown me. I'd never been good enough to fool him but it was fun to try and he always made a game out of catching me at it. Of course after he chained my cheating hand to whatever was convenient, it was a lot harder to cheat. Made for other interesting games though.
As the sun got lower in the sky, it got colder. I thought about getting his jacket but it was hanging on one of the other trees and I didn't want to expose myself to whatever was out there in the grass. If it had been earlier in the day I might have, just to alleviate the boredom, but it didn't seem worth dying now, when sunset was so close. Then I wondered, why not get myself killed? Not like it was ever going to work out between us, not permanently. Demons and humans just didn't make good couples. Look at Buffy and Angel or Buffy and Spike for that matter. Me and Anya, even though she'd been an ex-demon back then. I started cataloging, and wasn't that a Willow word, all our differences starting with he's ultra cool and I'm not. By the time the sun was settling into the horizon, I was debating whether I should count him as a smoker or not since he didn't, not around me anyway, because he was worried about my fragile human lungs.
The tree started shaking. Ah, sunset. Wonderful. Holding tightly onto the trunk, I looked down at the swamp hole. The vine was taut, as if something was pulling it into the mud. Wait for it... There. A hand reached out and grabbed onto the vine, then the other, and then, finally, Spike covered in muck and cursing up a storm.
As he leaped off the vine, I saw he was barefoot. "Why'd you leave the boots behind? Thought you loved those things."
He stopped wiping muck off his face and looked at me like I was the insane one. "Not like I had a choice. The mud sucked them off of me, now didn't it? What are you doing up in the tree anyway? Thought I told you to keep out of trouble."
"I head something in the grass," I admitted, waiting for the mockery to start.
"Yeah, cause those deer are killers." Ah, right on schedule. I glared back.
"It was probably just a grouse," he offered before shaking the muck off his head, sending it flying everywhere.
"Eww. Don't do that. And what's a gross anyway? Some kind of demon I don't know because, while demons are gross, calling one a gross makes it sound..." He'd stopped wiping himself off and had hung his head. "What?" I asked.
"You think demons are gross."
"Oh, for the love of... I do not think you're gross, Spike."
"No, you said it. Just slipped right out of your mouth. Demons are gross. If you don't want..."
"Of course I want," I interrupted. "I don't think you're gross." I knew better, by then, than to get off on a some demons are and some aren't tangent. "I think you're sexy and seductive and all kinds of other nice things brought to you by the letter S."
He lit up but there was a malicious glint in his eye. I was in trouble but didn't know exactly what kind until he started walking towards me, arms out, and said, "So you'd have no trouble kissing me then."
"Wait, no way muck boy," I shouted as I held out a hand to keep him at bay. He pouted. Shit. "You're covered in," I gestured towards him, "that slimy stuff."
"So?" he asked as if he couldn't see the problem and maybe he couldn't. Vampire perspective, so not normal. "Oh, I get it. You do think I'm gross. You were just saying that other stuff to be kind." He hung his head.
To be kind? By then I knew he was messing with me. "Spike, you're my boyfriend. I don't have to be kind to you," I said while looking around for a big stick to beat some sense into him with.
"Now I see why you were dropping rocks on me for half the day. Probably hoping one would knock me out so I'd never come out of that," he trailed off as he gestured towards the swamp hole.
"Spike, I don't know how to get off this moor. If you hadn't come out, I'd have been stuck here forever."
"So it's like that then," he replied. Damn, he'd always been better at this than I had. I started to apologize but he cut me off, "No, if you're not interested, I'll just escort you back to the castle and then..."
I grabbed him and pulled him in for a kiss to shut him up. Once he got going like that, he could keep it up for hours. He smiled back against my lips. Bastard. He'd probably been planning it all day. I made a vow to myself that the next time I had hours to waste I'd spend them on something productive like manipulating my boyfriend. The taste of mud gave way as his tongue rolled into my mouth but the sandy grit remained. I'd figure out a way to pay him back but later, much later.