Author: Troll Princess

Title: The Better Deal

Category: Romance/Supernatural

Rating: Let's figure R for now. (And NC-17 if I ever get a hold of a certain inspirational DVD ... ;))

Archive: Feel free. Just make sure it's got my name on it and I know 'bout it, 'cause I'm braggy about stuff like that.

Spoilers: If you've been watching season 6 at least sporadically (like me), you should be fine.

Summary: Spike only wants what's best for the woman he loves. But when he wishes for just that, the world he finds afterwards makes him wonder if he's made the right decision regarding Buffy.

Author's Note: Once upon a time, there was a lonely thought. And the other thoughts made fun of it because its ears stuck out and it was named Virgil and it was a fanfic-related thought and therefore not the least bit profitable. So, because it was a BTVS-fanfic-related-thought, it headed off to join all the other BTVS-fanfic-related thoughts in Joss Whedon's head. But because he'd spread himself rather thin of late, the thought found it was sort of like trying to skydive into a puddle. So he came to live in my head, which is good because I have cable and Cheetos-related thoughts in there. (And don't worry ... the entire story's not in present tense. Troll's honor. ;))


The Better Deal

by Troll Princess



Pennies in Fountains

So he's been rambling for about an hour, something about cracked Slayers and mentally scarred carpeting and bad break-ups, and it's all in this harsh, lower-class voice she never would have expected out of the simpering fool she'd known. And it's all a little new for her, watching the mark get sloshed before getting on with the wishing while they sit in some overly trendy nightclub overrun with her usual clientele.

But he keeps going, words pregnant with puppy-dog love and big-bad lust flowing past his lips as he nurses his newest drink.

"She's haunted, you know? Bloody spooky lookin' in those eyes of hers. She just . . . she keeps lookin' around and takin' in the soddin' abnormality that is her life. Sleepin' with a thing. Workin' retail. Havin' to be a mini-Joyce." He slams down the shot glass, startling a bit at the sound even though it's his fault, and stares his current drinking buddy in the eye. "And she's still . . . effulgent. That's why I love her."

"Effulgent," she mutters almost affectionately as she swipes the shot glass away from him. She shakes her head as she says, "Now I know you're drunk."

"Yeah, what of it?"

Deftly, she deposits the shot glass on the tray of a passing waitress before tucking a lock of hair behind her ear and studying him carefully over the top of her own glass. He looks .... tired. Weary. As if all of the boisterous energy she's seen in him in the past has been drained from him in one intense, emotional feeding.

As if someone has been preying on his affections like a less physically dangerous vampire.

Her voice carries soft and comforting in the hazy sound of the mulling crowd in the Bronze, her fingertips drifting lightly over the cool dew dampening her glass. "William, why did you bring me here? And please don't tell me it was for the spicy buffalo wings." She barely cracks a smile as she lifts up one small, bare bone and adds, "Even if they are rather tasty."

For a second, he looks as if he's about to back down, about to give up on whatever he has planned and stalk out of the joint with his righteous indignation making his coat flow behind him in the coolest of gestures. Then, there's this flicker of a muscle in his neck, a tightening of his jaw, and he leans forward with the greatest of secrets. "Look, I know you only do children --"

As soon as those words are out of his mouth, she groans and rolls her eyes. "William --"

"You owe me, Halfrek."

She freezes at that, glances over at him with a curious yet cautious gaze. His lips curl in mischievous delight as he cocks his head in a tilt that makes her knees melt away.

"Don't you think? I figure I'm up one notch in the wish column. One piddlin' spell's about even for bein' the reason I'm out an immortal soul. Wouldn't you say so ..." His smile widens as he says deliberately, "Cecily?"

Ouch. She winces before she can stop herself, giving the crowd around them the once-over before whispering, "That is a horrible name."

"And Halfrek's better?"

She ignores that little snap, and frowns as she leans forward. She lets a tense moment pass before saying, "Look, let's say I do this for you." He perks up like a happy puppy, and she quickly latches onto his wrist as she adds, "You tell no one, understand?"

He cocks a scarred eyebrow at that, and snorts out a derisive laugh as he shakes off her grasp. "And tell them what? I had to go to a child's vengeance demon for my revenge? I thought there wasn't a more pathetic that I could get."

"So what are we wishing for?" she asks, truly curious.


Then, more quiet.

His gaze drifts away from her and attaches itself to the small scented candle burning in the center of the table. He leans back in his chair casually, and stretches out his arm, hand spread flat, palm downward. She watches in genuine concern as he lets his hand pass over the dancing flame ... once, twice, the slight scent of burning flesh teasing her senses.

Then it's gone, and the gentle, cultured accent she knew long ago sounds from across the table.

"Know why she doesn't like me, pet?" She shakes her head before she can stop herself. The steady throb of the background rock music fades as she focuses on his softly spoken words. "Because I'm not normal. Liked that Riley bloke well enough to chase him down even after he'd cheated on her, and all that because he was normal. She wants normal because she can't be normal."

He studies the lip of his glass, fingertip running over it in a smooth, contemplative circle, the cogs squeaking in his head as he makes his decision. Then he lifts his head, and for a split second, she wonders why those chill-blue eyes hadn't weakened her resolve when they'd both still been human.

"I wish that she had what would make her happy."

There's a tense moment where everything goes silent, and her hand immediately snakes up to her necklace as she cocks her head. He can't have possibly said ... nah.

But then his eyes narrow, his lips curl, and she believes.

"That's your idea of revenge?" She can't resist a laugh at that, biting her bottom lip as soon as he glares in her direction. "William, you really have been out of the torture business too long, huh?"

"Just do it, Cecily," he snaps, taking another swig of alcohol from the nearest glass with some still in it -- hers.

A muscle flickers in her jaw, and finally, she sits up poker- straight, angles her shoulders just so, and says, "Fine."

Then in a flash, that gentle, lovely face he'd drowned in love for in another lifetime vanishes from existence, replaced by the veiny visage of a vengeance demon. "Done," she says.

And before he can even thank her, the world drops out from under him.