AUTHOR: Supergirl
TITLE: Taste of Death
SUMMARY: Spike finally gets what he wants from Buffy.
SPOILERS: up to the season 5 episode "Fool for Love"
DEDICATION: To Annalore (Leila), my unofficial editor and one of my best friends. This is for you, because I know you love Spike just as much I do (maybe even more, frightening as that might be). And you've pulled me out of like a thousand dead ends on this story, for which I thank you.
DISCLAIMER: If you recognize it, it was written by Doug Petrie, the author of the "Fool for Love" script. The rest is purely mine. I also tweaked some of the original dialogue to improve the flow. The inside of Spike's brain, of coarse, belongs to Joss and the Buffy writers. But it was certainly a fun place to visit.
FEEDBACK: Do I want feedback? Is Spike the hottest man (not)alive? Duh. Supergirl-55@bolt.com

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story has not been fully beta read. I apologize for any typos, spelling mistakes, and other possible imperfections.



'Cause I am whatever you say I am,
If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
...I don't know, it's just the way I am"

        ---
Marshall 'Eminem' Mathers, "The Way I Am"


The alleyway is dark. The moonlight creeping in from somewhere above those rooftops only barely illuminates her form. Yet in the darkness she is still beautiful, like a goddess. Cor, she doesn't even know. I'd bet Captain Cardboard's never once told her just how gorgeous she is. Don't know how to treat 'er, he don't. He can't make her happy. Maybe I bloody well can't either, but a bloke deserves one soddin' try, don' 'e?

We could have something, she an' I. If she'd give me a chance we could. I know she's not at that point yet, but she's getting there. She's starting to respect me, trust me almost. Even let me watch over the nibblet and their mum once. Buffy's letting me get closer to her, as if she actually wants to let me in. Wouldn't admit it in a million years... She gives me proof though. Especially tonight. Before the chip, I remember I used to always go to her. Tonight, she came to me.


Had herself a right scare, she did. Seems some vamp nearly got a taste of 'er last night. Stabbed the girl with her own stake, she told me. Could've killed her; certainly spooked 'er half to death. Kill Buffy? Sounds strange when I say it, almost like an oxymoron. I myself have never known anyone to even come close... yours truly excluded, of course. Oh, and Peaches maybe, but that one's a special circumstance. Blondie always did have a soft spot for Angel, prob'ly always will. Can't say I blame her — she couldn't help loving him like I can't 'elp loving her. She loved him even when he was her enemy. 's why she let her guard down, let the poof get much closer to her than he ever should have been. No ordinary vampire could ever have gotten as near to besting her as he did. Mighty strong she is. Even hurting this bird is quite a feat, let alone killing her. That vampire that stabbed her — I tell you, I'd like to shake that bloke's hand.

I'd also like to bash his face in for touchin' 'er.

Anyway, after this fright she had, the girl starts getting all scared. Thinking of her own death and such, looking for ways to escape it... or postpone it, at least. Wants to know what did the others in, thinks it'll help her somehow. So naturally, she turns to the Big Bad. What can I say, I've taken two. I guess I'm something of an authority.

So that's what she came to ask me tonight. Of course I'm ready to tell 'er everything, lay it all out. She's surprised, didn't expect it to be this easy. I'm not Soul Boy. I know he's never told her anything she didn't have to drag out of him. Expects us to be the same, she does. Doesn't realize just how different we are. We're day and night, me an' him. Angel's always been afraid of intimacy, or ever since he turned all "tortured hero" anyway. Probably thinks it'll ruin his big brooding image. Me, I've never have had a problem bearing my soul. Though funny I should use that phrase.

***


"Were you born this big a pain in the ass?" she asks when we're sitting at a table at the Bronze. I smile as I catch the slight twinkle in her eye. Could she actually be flirting?

"What can I tell ya, baby? I've always been bad..." Well, not always.

I cringe remembering the sad, pathetic sod I once was. William. As I tell her about him, I notice she's holding back a laugh. Amused, is she? A bloke ought to find that insulting! Instead, I can't seem to help feeling flattered. The simple fact that she sees what I used to be as so unbelievable, when I think about it, 's like a compliment really. Yes, I sure 'ave made an image for myself, haven't I? Spike, the man I am now, he's miles away from what I was then. I know what you're thinking, but this isn't just a mask like those so many humans wear. This is who I truly am. It's who I've made myself to be. That's what we vampires do — we change, we adapt. We're creatures of instinct, nothing but a more advanced type of animal. We adjust to our surroundings, become what we need to be to survive. As a vampire, you can't go around sipping tea and writing love poems unless you want to get dusted on your first day. And so I changed. I molded myself from the man I was into the man I wanted to be, the man I had to be. I turned myself into the complete opposite of that tutty-fruity wanker image that upper-class British society tried to impose on everyone, the same image I'd come to loath. I looked at culture and refinery, and I spat it in the face. And damn if it didn't feel good! Today, some might call me a thug. I don't mind, I'm rather proud of all the rotten things people think of me. That's how I've made myself. Bloody hell, I'm a vampire. All the more reason to use finesse? Bugger that! Sorry, prancing around like some great ponce ain't my style. Don't fancy living a lie. Certainly not when the filthy truth is so much more fun. And that is exactly why I strive to embody every bad thing people perceive me to be. To put it simply: I am everything you say I am.


So, piece by piece I tell her the whole story, straight from the beginning. Even I can't believe some of the things I'm saying to this girl. I mean, here I am, poring my whole life out in front of someone I'm not even supposed to bloody like; telling her intimate bits I've never revealed to anyone. Just the effect this chit has on me, I guess. Try to fight it, I can't 'elp being this way with her. She makes me want to be more honest than I've ever been with anyone. Even Drusilla 'erself never knew what "William the Bloody" really stood for. I remember. Bloody awful they said I was; rather have railroad spikes through their brains then listen to my poetry, would they? Well that was easily arranged.

This part I figure I can leave out. No need reminding her of what a monster I was then. Not that I've ever tried to hide it, mind you. Buffy already knows everything I was, everything I am. I'm not the type to cover it up. Not the type to sit around whining about it either, never fancied that guilt-and-misery lifestyle her precious Angel seems to like so much. Poofter must think if he moans and groans about it long enough, it'll bring his victims back to life or some rot. Fat bleedin' chance! Big waist of time that guilt business is, if you ask me. Peaches can have 'is misery all he wants it, I for one have no regrets. I remember a time when a good massacre would make my day: blood, violence, destruction — like 'appy childhood memories, those are. I may not be quite the same man I was then, but looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

No wait, strike that. There is one thing I would change. Dru — she's my one regret, the one thing I would've done differently. I shouldn't have let her go. I should have loved 'er better, I should've given 'er more. Maybe if I'd killed Buffy for her, maybe we'd still be together. Still don't quite know why I couldn't. Could it be I was in love with the Slayer even then?

There's no doubt in my mind that I love Buffy now. Nor that I'll love her for the rest of my life, even if I happen to live forever.

And I know I may not be right for her, but I'm more right then the commando nit, and I'm more bloody right then that poof Angel ever was. He never even loved her enough to let her in, let her truly see him. Always hidin' behind that tortured, nancy-boy facade of his. Oh yeah, and then there's that whole Angelus business. Soon as the bloke lost it, his soul that is, 'long went all the feelings he supposedly 'ad for the girl. Sort of puts things in perspective, now don' it? Seems all that "love of his life" bullocks was nothing but another cheep soul-side-effect. As for me, if I can love her without a soul, well then I figure I'm a better man then he is.


So, on goes my story. Now I tell her the whole Cecily bit, first time I got my heart broken. Wouldn't be the last. Funny, I met my second heartbreak that very same night. It was an eternity ago, it seems, but I still remember it clear as ever. Cold London streets, dark alleyway, frosty night air; a lovely raven-haired stranger emerging from the shadows, calling out to me. Drusilla. She was magnificent, the first time I saw her. See, I've always figured there were two kinds of people in this world: those who try to please others, selfless hero-types like Blondie here, and those who try to please themselves. I s'pose I'm the second. Dru, she's a whole other creature entirely. A real work of art, that one is. Beautiful, sadistic, smarter than any bint I've ever met... and utterly insane, driven to madness by what she is. She never got a choice, like me. Angelus, before he sired her, 'e never asked whether she wanted to be turned. He could easily have killed her. Instead he condemned her to an eternity of torment, never able to be happy unless someone else is suffering. And even then, it's all empty for her. She'll never find true peace within herself. Well, like I said, he never gave 'er a choice. She gave me one. When Drusilla asked me that night, whispering in my ear, "Do you want it?" ...I knew I wanted it.

***


That night was the first night of my life. Buffy, of coarse, doesn't understand.

"So you traded up on the food chain. Then what?"

Traded up on the bloody food chain? Please, as if it were that simple! Becoming a vampire changes everything, kiddies. The reason I wanted it so badly, I'll tell you, was because I was desperate to get away from my own life. Couldn't make it work for me, so I had to find a new life that would. They refused to accept me because I couldn't keep up with their rules, so I built myself a world where I could make my own rules and sod all else. And then there was of course my new family. Suited me much finer then my first one. It had just been me an' Mum after my father had gone. Damned bastard left us out in the cold with nothing but 'is fancy upper-class name for compensation. Tracked the bugger down a year or so after getting turned, I did, along his newest blond and bouncy bit-of-stuff. Guess Mummy wasn't good enough for 'im, found himself a tastier dish. Dru certainly did agree, she said that chippy 'ad been mighty tasty indeed. The old man I drained myself. Figure I owed him that much, if nothing else.


Never did fancy authority figures much. Still somehow I wound up with a second set of parents. Drusilla, she was my sire, but I never saw her as any kind of a mother, as some fledglings might. Me and Dru, in our so-called "family" we were the children. It was me an' her, and then our precious mummy an' daddy. Or daddy and "Grandmother", as Dru liked to call her. Darla, that silly cow was just dumb enough to think that she was the one in charge merely because she was the oldest — first in our line, after the Master. I myself was smart enough to know different. Angelus was always the true leader of our gang, that much was clear from day one. Had a major superiority complex, the bloke did. Can't for the life of me figure out why. So he killed a couple a' thousand. I have to tell you, I for one am not impressed. I'm sure it's a real bloody feat to kill a cowering villager. Me, I took on two slayers. Had those been the only lives I'd ever taken, they'd still be worth a billion of his helpless victims if you ask me. He used to think he was all big and bad back then. Sorry kids, I beg to differ. For somebody who knew him in the old days, I have to say, soul or no soul, 'e's still a damn poofter and he always will be.

Nevertheless, he ended up in charge. And Dru an' Darla, they just followed him around mindlessly like a couple of groupies follow a sodding rock-star. Makes me sick to my stomach, is what it does. Darla, like I said, was in denial over the whole bloody thing. While my Dru, she never really did care, because to her it was all just a pretty little game. Careless child that she was, Drusilla was always much too willing to take orders from anyone who would care to give them.

Bugger that, I say! I was never one to be told what to do. I w's still part of the family, don't get me wrong, just that I refused to take any of our precious "daddy's" bollocks that the two lovely ladies had gotten so accustomed to. I wasn't afraid of him, and that straight drove the bloke insane. Self-esteem issues, I suppose. With one smug glance, I could make 'im furious; and making him furious, well that just got me kinda' giddy. Oh, who am I kidding, I lived for it. Brassing off Angelus was almost as much fun as sex and violence — my two other favorite things. When I'd really get him angry, ready-to-kill angry, that was the sweetest. Of course I knew the pillock would never actually have the balls to go ahead and finish me. Though I've got to admit, he did come bloody close a couple a' dozen times or so. Like that night he first told me about the Slayer. I remember the whole thing. I was being an ass as usual, and as usual it was all too easy to get him fuming. When I had finally pushed him to his boiling point — boy, I'll tell ya, it was bloody beautiful, — that's when 'e grabbed me and threw me down to the floor.

So the wanker's got me pinned, ready to do it. Sweet Marry, he must have actually thought I was scared of 'im then. I just look up and laugh in his face. "Now you're gettin' it," I say. He was so furious at that moment, I swear, I half expected him to do it. But then — what a surprise — 'e wusses out gets up. "You can't keep this up forever," Angelus says as he looks down at me, "If I can't teach you, maybe someday an angry crowd will..." And then come the words that would change everything. "That or the Slayer."


You never forget your first time. I know I'll never forget the first time I heard that word, the one little word that would become my legacy, my obsession... and later my downfall. Slayer. Arrogant as I was then, I never could've dreamt that I would actually kill two in less then a century. Nor in my worst nightmares could I have imagined that I would fall in love with my third. I hate myself for it, but there's nothing I can do (and believe me, I've tried). There's something about this one; chit's different from the others. Stronger, tougher. She was my third, and the first one I couldn't kill. I was obsessed to begin with, but that made me fixate on her even more. I let it get personal. Sometimes I think that's what made me fall.

***


We're at the pool table and I look up at her from my game. Buffy's standing still, frozen, mesmerized by my story. I've got 'er in a trance, holding her breath as she waits for me to continue. She notices me looking and, of course, immediately shakes it off. Kid's got a lot to learn.

'specially 'bout fighting, she does. She thinks she's got all the tricks down. Blondie doesn't know the half of it. Guess I'm one to teach her. "Lesson The First: a slayer must always reach for her weapon."

Before she knows it I've got her by the throat, and I vamp out and smile, "I've already got mine." She stands motionless, staring into my eyes. I can tell she's scared. I know she realizes I could kill her if I really wanted to. I've already come closer then anyone else. Frightens 'er, it does. Even with the chip, I still frighten her. I'd be lying if to say I'm not pleased.


China, that's the next part of my tale. The Boxer Rebellion. I go through it quickly, skipping the insignificant details of how we'd gotten there or how I found the girl. She was my destiny then — sometimes I think she found me.

And so I skip the details, I start off right from the fight. It's what I aimed to concentrate on. Describing it as vividly as I can, the precise workings of every single move, I make sure she can literally feel it. I want her to feel it, feel it as if she were there. I want her to lose herself in my words. I want her to sense every movement. I want it to be as if it's her I'm fighting in that Buddhist temple almost a century ago, as if it's her blood I taste as I tear viciously into that girl's throat and drain her life, drinking in for the first time the sweet nectar that is the blood of the Slayer. I want Buffy to feel as if she had been my first.


My first slayer. My first real kill. Everything before that was just child's play. Not that it wasn't fun, mind you, but that's all it was. That kill made me a real vampire. It was the first thing I could ever be proud of. It was the first thing I'd ever done that I could rub in 'is face. Over two hundred years, how many slayers has Angelus killed? "Don't be so glum, mate," I remember telling him with a smirk, as I lick the fresh blood off my lips. "I figure there's a new Chosen One getting all chosen as we speak. I tell you what, when and if this new bird does show up, I'll give you first crack at 'er."


I can tell she's unnerved by how casually I describe all this. The death of a slayer — it could've been her. She tries to look calm, expressionless, but the eyes give it all away. I could always read her by her eyes. This bird thinks she's impenetrable. Not to me. I'm the only one who can always see right through her, always have been. And like I said, I'm also the only thing that still frightens 'er. I'm the only one who can really get under her skin... make her shiver... make her heart stop.

And that's no small feat, let me tell ya. Nothing fazes this one anymore. Over these last few years, tough as nails she's gotten. 's what I love about her. The first time I met her she was still a weak little girl, and she was scared of me then. You bet she was scared of me then. Now she's not scared of anything. Except yours truly. Still. Even now, even after three years, and even with this chip, I know I still give her the chills. It's that sinking feeling deep in the pit of her stomach, that feeling she can't escape. Every now and then it'll creep up on 'er, the thought of 'what if?' What if I got that chip out? What if we had one more fight? Could I kill 'er? She's afraid, she's afraid I might just be able to. More than that, she's afraid she just might let me.

Of course, you know, I don't like to brag... Oh hell, I love it, but this isn't just me bragging. I know it's true, I can tell. I can tell I still frighten her. I can see it all in those eyes.


"That was the best night of my life." She stares at me. "And I've had some sweet ones."

I'm making her uneasy, and she tries to cover it up with a look of disgust. "You got off on it."

"Well, yeah," of coarse I did, what else did she expect? A good fight, a good kill, always gets the blood pumpin', if you know what I mean. Oh, she knows. She feels it too, every single time she dusts one of us. Of course part of her just wants 'em all to die, but another part is really in it for the fight. I've seen that look in her eyes when me an' her go at it, she knows it gives her that little extra thrill she can't get in her training room, kickin' the old watcher around. She knows it turns her on. She just can't admit to it like I can. "I suppose you're telling me you don't?" I ask in a cocky tone. If she is, we both know it's a lie.

Oh yeah, she knows it alright, it's admitting it that's the hard part. It would make her imperfect, pop that little protective bubble she's got built up for herself. Long as I've known 'er, Buffy's always fancied her world in black-and-white — good and evil. Us vampires, the evil ones, we kill for pleasure. She's good, she kills because she has to. Yeah, that's a bloody crock if ever I've heard one. She loves it just as much as I do, I know she does. Sometimes I think she loves it more.

"How many of my kind you reckon you've done?"

She scowls. "Not enough."

See that? That's proof! The sting she puts into those words as she grinds them out through clenched teeth, the poison in her voice — she wants it to hurt. She loves the pain she can inflict, reveling in it, her excuse that a soulless vampire isn't really a person. And she can hurt it, and she can kill it for her pleasure, and never feel a twinge of guilt. Just as long as she never admits the truth. As long as she never admits how much she loves it.

I've seen the way her eyes glisten every time one of them explodes into dust. And I know many a time she's wished it were my chest at the end of that stake. I guess she won't let herself go there because I'm defenseless or what not. Should bloody well take that as an insult! Perhaps she'd like to add that I'm cute for good measure! Sodding bint and all her sodding friends, they think poor Spike's some harmless little puppy here for their amusement. Oh how I hate the whole lot! But not her. I can never truly hate her, and that makes me hate her most of all. I hate Buffy for making me fall in love with her; and I hate how she won't let herself kill me, even though she so badly wants to. And oh how she'd love it if she could.


It's ok really, I'm not upset that she wants me dead. If anything, it's bloody well justified. And hey, much as I love the girl, I'd drain 'er myself in a second if ever I got the chance...

Ok, that's a lie. I'll admit it. I could never hurt Buffy. I could once, but not now, not ever again. Even if my whole sodding life depended on it, I would never hurt her. But she still thinks I can. And that's what keeps it interesting.

I throw her a smirk and nod. She's right. She may have meant it only as another snippy comment, but nevertheless she's right. She really hasn't killed enough of us. She never will. She can never kill enough, we'll always keep on coming. The forces of darkness will always keep coming, coming like tidal waves, crashing against her resistance until she finally gives up and drowns.

"We just keep coming," I repeat out loud. "But you can kill a hundred, a thousand, a thousand thousand, and the armies of hell besides, and all we need is for one of us — just one — sooner or later to have the thing we're all hoping for."

"And that would be what?"

Buffy's standing perfectly still, awaiting my response. She plays like it doesn't scare her, like she's not impressed, but as I lean in I can smell her fear. I can see the tiny hairs standing on the back of her neck. And I can feel her shudder as I slowly whisper in her ear those three little words, the one thing that's every demon's dream and every slayer's nightmare: "One... Good... Day."

She stills, as icy fear grips her by the throat. I can sense it. For one moment, only a millisecond but one that to both of us feels like an eternity, all her defenses are suddenly knocked down. I've caught her off guard with the intense meaning of my words, and right now I hold her powerless in my grasp. I may not have the capacity to 'urt her physically, courtesy of that bleedin' chip, but emotionally she's completely defenseless against me. For this one moment I 'ave her entirely at my mercy, I can do with her as I please. Almost makes a bloke giddy, it does. It's just so bloody fun to fuck with the Slayer's mind.

But in a split second that moment of weakness is past and she pushes me away, angry at how easily I can get to her, unwilling to admit the fear she felt. I simply laugh.

"Hey, you asked and I'm tellin'." It's not my fault if she can't handle it. If she couldn't take the heat, shouldn've signed up for the program. "The problem with you, Summers, is you've gotten so good you're starting to think you're immortal." She hates me right now, I can tell. She hates me because I've made her realize she's not. And that's the one thing that scares her most of all, her own vulnerability. She may be strong, but she's not invincible. Some day some thing will still get the upper hand on her. Some day she's still going to die. That day may be sooner then she thinks. She doesn't want to admit it but I'm forcing her to. That's exactly why she despises me so much.

"Not really," she says, denying that I'm right, "I just know I can handle myself."

"Oh?" I step closer, "Then how do you explain this?"

She catches my intent, but before she can withdraw I throw my fist out and punch her hard, straight in the gut. I've only an instant to catch her doubling over in pain before I'm forced to do the same, as that sodding chip's mechanism activates, the electricity filling my eyes with sparks. After a minute I look up at her weakly, still reeling from the shock. I have to admit, with Buffy, the torture of that bloody thing is almost worth it.

She gasps for breath, still clutching her wound. Her eyes, as they finally meet mine, are filled with piercing hate. "So that's it? Lesson over?"

Over? If she thinks I'm gong to stop now she couldn't be more wrong. "Not even close," I inform her, picking up a pool cue. I'm not about to stop, not now, not when I've got 'er right where I want her. We've talked for hours now, and throughout this night I've guided her through all the steps, leading up to my final destination. I've seen her need, I've brought out her fear, now I've finally managed to induce her anger, that magnificent fiery rage that fills me to the core with lust. Makes me so hot knowing that I can get 'er like this, brass her off so easily, with just one word, one glance. I love 'er when she's mad, completely enveloped in that gorgeously dark, passionate anger that lights her emerald eyes with a raging fire. It's a fire almost too great for her small frame, so great it could nearly swallow her whole. I love how I can make her burn for me. It's not quite the type of burning a bloke would aim for, granted, but for me it's well bloody close. You know what they say: enemies make the best lovers. When we finally come together — and it's just a matter of time, once Soldier-boy is out of the picture — I know it will be stronger and fiercer than anything else either one of us has ever known.

But she's not prepared for it yet, couldn't handle it, not now. So for now we have to settle for playing this game. It's almost like foreplay, this deadly mating dance. Always teetering on the edge, always walking that fine line between life and death, between hatred and desire, between her perfect light and my utter darkness. It's a game that could kill us both, but I couldn't stop if I wanted to. Especially not now. This is the best part. I've taken her through all the stages, and now it's time for the final level. Now the Slayer's finally ready for the one thing that this whole night has been leading up to. "Come on," I say, waving her to follow as I head outside.

***


We step out into the cool night air, and here we are in that dark back alley where I stand looking in wonder upon her beautiful silhouette, bathed in shadow. I watch the stars glisten and see their reflections in her eyes. Magnificent. Every tiny sparkle in those eyes is like an explosion that leaves me reeling with the overwhelming sense of her. Dangerous, dark, exiting. But also full of that pure, simple love for the world that she holds in her heart. She's a fierce warier, she's a noble hero, sometimes she's just a little girl; and I can see it all in her eyes. A bloke could lose himself in them. I think I already 'ave.

She expects a fight. I give 'er what she wants, to a point, but I let her take the upper hand and in seconds she has me pinned to the wall, thinking she's won. It's cute, kinda funny even.

"What?" she asks, annoyed that I'm laughing at a time like this. Don't I realize she could kill me right this second?

She really doesn't get it, does she? "Lesson the Second: ask the right questions." She wouldn't kill me, not now, I know that. I've got something she wants. "You want to know how I beat 'em?" She lets go and steps back, cocking her head with a skeptical look of impatience. Don't know why she's in such a hurry, you ask me we've got all the time in the world. "The question isn't 'How'd I win?' The question is 'Why'd they lose?'"

She looks at me for a moment, considering. Maybe she does get it. The chit's smart, she is, just fast to jump to conclusions is all. What she really needs is to take a moment to dig a little deeper, see the truth she already knows.

"What's the difference?"

What's the bloody difference? Come on, she's gotta be smarter then that! I go for her throat with the pool cue, stopping just millimeters away from it. She doesn't even flinch. Wants to know what the difference is, does she? "There's a big difference, luv."

Impatience again. She doesn't want to listen, she wants to fight. Well what ever the lady wants, the lady gets.

Right! Left! I'm letting her duck my punches and she can tell. "That didn't hurt."

"I knew I couldn't touch you. If there's no intent to hurt you, then that chip they shoved up my brain never activates." If I deny my urges, if I suppress who I am, if I turn into a bleedin' pillock! That's what that cursed device has done to me. I can't even fight her, can't even hit 'er, all I can do is throw fake punches and watch her duck. Bloody degrading to a demon like me!... Still it's her, and when it's her I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even if we're only pretending, just as long as we still get to play this deadly game of ours. It is but a game, she knows it as well as I do. Yet it's killing me as we speak, killing both of us. I must be too entranced in her to even care. "If, on the other hand..." I lunge at her in full game-face and immediately get thrown back by the splitting pain. I shake it off. "See, now that hurt."

"Yeah? This hurt too?"

Girl's got some punch in 'er, I'll tell you that. She's got me on the ground in almost one swing, curling in pain, but I love it. Sweet-bitter ecstasy. Always did have a thing for pain. Buffy knows it too, she knows it turns me on. Likes that, the little vixen.

"How'd you kill 'em, Spike?"

I jump up at her but she flips me over and in the blink of an eye she's got me on the ground again, straddling my chest with a stake to my heart. Yeah, baby, that's it. Those hot, tight thighs of hers wrapped around my body so hard if I were alive I wouldn't be able to breath. Her eyes glisten deadly. Oh yeah, you bet she likes that.

"You're not ready to know." I'm lying, she's ready. Just doesn't know what she's ready for.

"I'm ready."


So was the other slayer. As the memories rush back I can feel the fresh human blood coursing through my body from twenty-three years ago. I'd just fed that night, right before the bird got to me. Killed me a subway conductor, I did, left his mangled corpse hanging out the train window. Some bloody beautiful sight that was. A masterpiece, really. Did a few passengers in, too, before she caught up to me, nothing fancy like that conductor bloke though — just snapped a couple'a necks, drank from one or two. Don't right recall if I left any alive though, as there weren't too many on the train to begin with. Either way, I was looking for her to find me. Knew it wouldn't take long after the invitation I left. Before I knew it the sexy little thing had me cornered against the wall of that empty subway car, her hot body pressed up against mine, stake up to the same part of my chest where Blondie's had hers aimed so many times.

I can feel the fight flowing through my body as clear as if I'm actually there facing off with that girl at the same time I'm here with Buffy, running over that same routine. The moves are all so synchronized. I know them by heart. They're burned into my brain, imprinted on my nonexistent soul. That girl is a part of my legacy. She's a part of me.

I throw Buffy off of me at the same time that I throw that girl off, just milliseconds before I would've been dust. The one from the seventies, got the 'xact same moves as my Slayer, she does. Even now, through the flashes of memory in my mind, I can see Buffy in her. It's the same, it's all real. I'm there. For this brief moment in time, I feel like I've got my demon back.

"The first was all business," I tell Buffy, "but the second, she 'ad a touch of your style."

I was a real killer then and loved it. Across continents, across the world, William the Bloody — I was a sodding legend. I took what I wanted and I made the night mine. And a fine time I did have. Blood, destruction, death by the thousands... Oh, and of course slayers. They were the ultimate challenge, the ultimate rush. The Black girl slams my head through the train window, shards of glass in my face, and I let go a fierce roar of pure, glorious pleasure. Damn, I love this fight!

It's the same fight I've always fought, the same game I've always played. It's the same dance I've danced throughout my entire unlife. The same way I danced with that first Chinese slayer in that abandoned temple so many years ago, the same rhythm I'm in with that Black one in New York as we face off in that empty subway car. It's the same dance me and Blondie 'ave been dancing for years. The steps are different but the music never changes. Slayers are always teetering on the edge of death. And I just love being there at the right moment to push them off.

The seventies bird though, she 'ad moves like something else. Almost as good as Buffy. And a right sexy thing she was too, maybe even hotter than this one here. And hell, did she know how to dance! I smile at the memory. "I could've danced all night with that one."

"You think we're dancing?"

"That's all we've ever done."

The key is not to let the other person lead. That was her slip-up. She let me lead — I break off the railing bar of the train and whirl it around as my weapon — she let me take the upper hand. For a moment she let go, that's when I knew I had 'er. You see, the thing about dancing...

"The thing about the dance is, you never get to stop.

"Every day you wake up, it's the same bloody question that haunts you: 'Is today the day I die?'" I pound the other slayer down with the metal rail, feeling the sheer rush of brutal dominance. The death of a Slayer, quite a spectacular thing that is. One crafts it like a work of art. The real beauty is all in the challenge — she's almost a mach for me. Almost.

"Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later it's going to catch you. And part of you wants it. Not only to stop the fear of uncertainty..." she catches the bar in her hands, and uses her position on the floor to kick me in the groin. Blinding sparks of pain fill my eyes. I love it, I love it all! "...but because you're just a little bit in love with it."

She knocks me off my feet and I fall back in the dark alley as I fall in the brightly lit subway car, loudly hitting the metal floor. The Slayer straddles me, ready for the kill. Her eyes, full of fury, burn through me like holy water as she pounds down mercilessly, never stopping for breath, never wavering, as if her whole life depends on it. Oh wait, I suppose it bloody well does, doesn' it? Or maybe not. Foolish thing thinks she's won. Doesn't realize she's already lost.

"Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day." Buffy stares at me blankly, as if frozen. She could almost have fooled me, only that her eyes once again betray her — they're filled with emotion, filled with fear, hatred, lust, anticipation. She's just as caught up in it as I am, on the edge of her seat as she waits for me to continue.

The lights in the subway train flash, the Slayer's angry face appearing and disappearing before my eyes. She looks deadly, enough to make a living man's heart stop in his chest. Lucky for me I'm not living.

In the blink of an eye I'm suddenly the one on top, pinning her down, hand to her throat. I know she wanted this all along. That's when you get them, you see, when they want it. "That final gasp. That look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know: what's it like? Where does it lead you?" I stop to look up at Buffy's eyes. They're locked on mine. "And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punches you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land... She really wanted it." I can see Buffy's finally starting to get it. It's not what makes you mess up from the start, it's what gets you in the end. The best slayers, they're the ones that lose. They're the ones that want it most of all. They become addicted, they hunger for it desperately. And in the end they are their own killers. Every slayer lives and fights always hanging over the edge of the cliff, holding on by a thread. All that's needed is for them to let go.

I just happen to be there at the perfect time to watch them fall.

"Every Slayer," I pause and take an unnecessary breath, "has a death wish." And as I hold the Black girl's head between my hands, ready to close the deal, I look up and I stare straight through time, from my past into my future, and I look straight into Buffy's eyes. "Even you."


She knows it's true. It scares her but she knows that I'm right, she does want it. Blondie wants it worse than anyone. Even when I used to dream of her death, she always wanted it more. She's always had an intense hunger for it. That's how I know she wants me. It's what pulls her to me, it's what pulls me to her. She's the killer of my kind, I'm a killer of hers. But that is exactly why we're so drawn to each other, pulled like moths to a flame, like taking slow sips of poison that you can't ever get enough of, and you drink and drink until it penetrates you to your core and brings you to your sweet, delicious death. I could die from too much of her. And I think I almost want to.

"The only reason you've lasted as long as you have," I continue, "is you've got ties to the world: your mum, your brat kid sister, the Scoobies," those are the only things that still keep her from the flame. But they can't keep her from it forever. "They all tie you here, but you're just putting off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you're going to want it." Sooner or later she'll give in. She'll let go. She doesn't even imagine how close she is now. Just another willing sip of that poison. "And the second — the second — you do..." Part of me longs for the day that bitch is dead and gone. I long to be free of her, free from the spell she's put on me. Free from her curse. Cost me everything, she has. She took my reputation when I couldn't kill her, took my pride and my self-respect. She took my Dru away from me — if not for the Slayer, my princess never would've left. And if not for the Slayer I would never have come back here. I never would've had that bleedin' chip shoved up my brain so that I can't kill, can't even touch a sodding human. Can't even be who I am. She's cost me my dignity, cost me my very life.
 
But another part of me fears her death worse then my own. All I want is to hold her, to touch her. Not even, just to be near her. Even to be able to watch her from afar. It's what sustains me. She's the last piece of me that's alive. But Slayer or not, Buffy's human. Even if she lives through a million battles, some day she will still die. Some day she will be taken from me. And when that day comes I know I'll die along with her, even if I live for a thousand years after that.

And yet another part of me, a part that despises her and is desperately in love with her all at once, that part more then anything just wants to be the one, when she gets to the edge, to push her off. If anyone gets to kill this bird, it ought to be me. I deserve it. I've got first claim. Buffy would want it to be me, too, I know she would. I've seen the way she looks at me when we fight. I've always been the only opponent she respects, the only one she sees as truly worthy of her. She knows and I know that it's meant to be this way. Our fates are interlinked. She's destined to be mine, either to 'ave her or to kill her.

"You know I'll be there," I whisper slowly, knowing I'm right, knowing she realizes it too. "I'll slip in. Have myself a Real. Good. Day.


"Here end of the lesson."

I've told her all I have to tell, shown her all I have to show. And some night this has been. Bet it seems like all we've done is talked, doesn't it? Wrong kiddies, the truth of it is we've done much, much more than that. I've relived every bit of my dark history in this one night, and this time I've brought her along for the ride. She's felt it as much as I have, she's lived through it all with me. We've been enemies, lovers, and everything in between. I've killed her in a thousand deaths and I've brought her back to relive with me every second more. She's felt my pain, my ecstasy, my heartache and my hunger. We're more alike then she thinks, the Slayer an' I. Through showing her me, I've shown her 'er own self. That dark, filthy part of her that she's so afraid to admit to, I've forced her to see it. I've forced her to look straight into the eyes of death. Finally, I've forced to admit, not to me but silently to herself, that she craves it just as much as I do. But now that the lesson's over it's time for me to leave. "I just wonder if you'll like it as much as she did."

"Get out of my sight, Spike," she says coldly. "Now."

I'm just about to go, but her words pull me back. How can I just walk away from that, when it's practically an invitation? "Ooh... What, did I scare ya?" I take a step closer. "You're the Slayer, do something about it — hit me. Come on. One good swing, you know you want to." Does she ever. It's burning inside her, I can see the flame in her eyes, rage begging to be let out. I know what she really wants. She wants to put her hot little hands on my hard body and make me hurt, make me whimper, make me scream. She wants to see me bleed. It's enough to get a bloke all hot and bothered just thinkin' about it.

"I mean it." Her eyes gleam with danger.

"So do I." Been a bad boy, I have. I deserve a good beating. If only I could get those hands on me. "Give it me good, Buffy. Do it."

She tenses. I can feel her want as strong as I feel my own. "Spike..." I hear her whisper my name in a way I've dreamt to hear it from her lips. I look down into her eyes and I see them big, deep, wild-forest green, looking back at me so full of hidden longing. I don't have a reflection, but I can see myself in them. I can see myself inside her. I know this is a mistake, but I can't stop myself. Without thinking, I lean in.

***


I mean for the kiss to be light and gentle, but before my lips can touch hers she realizes what I'm about to do and jumps back like a frightened child. My first reaction is to grab her and roughly crash my mouth to hers, not giving her a choice this time.

Her lips are closed tight, but I force them open with my tongue as I wrap my arms in a vise around her. She tries to fight against me, tries to push me away, but I won't let 'er. I hold her tightly, and I know I'm hurting her a little, because I feel a slight shock to my brain. But it's small enough to ignore, and it disappears as soon as she goes from pummeling my shoulders with her fists to wrapping her arms around my body as she slowly begins to kiss back.

Finally, she rolls her head back and lets me taste her neck. Her skin is so intoxicatingly delicious. I can smell the slight scent of her body-lotion tickling my nostrils. It smells like jasmine — wild and beautiful just as she is. I can feel her tremble slightly under my touch, as she closes her eyes and moans out something barely resembling my name.

After a few minutes, I lift my head up from her throat to look into her eyes. That's when she suddenly pulls away and steps back. She stares at me with a look of... not anger, believe it or not, but more like frightened surprise.

Her voice is weak and shaky with uncertainty. "What... what the hell was that?"

I smile. "That was your first taste of death, luv. Care for another?" I move forward and pull her to me before she can object, bringing my mouth down on hers again.


This time she doesn't fight me. She stays motionless for a moment, letting me kiss her but not kissing back, as if considering whether or not she should. Finally she's made up her mind. She responds and leans into me, kissing me harder then before, letting me know she wants this as much as I do. Her arms snake their way up my shoulders and around my neck, her fingers tangling in my hair.

She parts her lips slightly, letting my tongue slip in. It finds hers and they dance inside our mouths, mimicking the movements of our earlier fight. I push my tongue deeper inside her mouth, wanting to explore every taste of her. Clutching the material of her shirt, I press her body hard against mine, so hard I could crush her if she wasn't as strong; so hard that I can feel her heartbeat through her chest as if it were my own, as if through her I were alive again.

My head is spinning. I don't even know what I'm doing, how I got here. I never planned to kiss her — we were just fighting and now all of a sudden her tongue is in my mouth. It feels incredible. Sweet hell, she's so bloody hot, like kissing the surface of the sun. It's like I'm on fire when I'm touching 'er, it's so brutally intense that I think I could die from it if we don't stop. Or maybe I'll die if we do stop.

This is better than anything I've experienced. I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but it's even better then it was with Dru. Buffy's so alive, so human, not like the cold caress of a vampress. But she's not even like any human female I've ever had. Buffy's above them, above them all. She's above any other woman on this planet, living or not. She's better than anything imaginable. She's haven.

At least she's as close to it as I'll ever get.

As my own hands trace the delicate curve of her body, I notice that hers have already made their way under my coat. I can feel the sweet sting of her burning fingers through my shirt as they run patterns over the muscles of my back, sending shocks of mind-blowing pleasure with every touch. Her mouth tastes like strawberries. Funny thing that — over a hundred years of being dead, some things you just always remember. I still remember what strawberries taste like. That's how she tastes: sweet... tangy... and so incredibly addictive.


I think we've been snogging for what must be ten minutes at the least. It feels like hours. It feels like an eternity, yet still not enough. I can never have enough of her.

She breaks the kiss, finally, gasping for air. I'd near forgotten that she needs oxygen, unlike myself.

When I look down at her, Buffy's all flustered and out of sorts. "Spike... I..."

She still needs to catch her breath before she can speak, and I take the opportunity to flash her a smug, self-satisfied grin. "Better than you expected, eh pet?"

She's not sure what to say.

"I can tell you it's surpassed all of my greatest fantasies."

"You, you've had fantasies?" she mumbles nervously.

I lean forward and run the tip of my tongue agonizingly slow up the side of her neck, feeling her shudder, her breath catching suddenly; I stop at her ear to softly whisper my response: "I dream about you every night, Buffy. How could any man not?"

I know my voice sends shivers up her spine. I can feel how hot she is for me. "I, I'm sure not every guy I come into contact with ends up having dirty little fantasies about me," she protests weekly, unable to think of anything better.

My mouth is right up to her ear. "A bloke wound have to be crazy not want you."

I know what I'm doing to her, she can't fight it. As I lower my head to taste her neck again, her sharp little fingernails bite into my skin through my shirt, driving me insane with sweet, painful pleasure. "Tell me that you want it," I whisper feverishly against her skin. I need to hear her say the words. I can feel her desire, but I want to hear her admit it.

A muffled moan is all she can do to respond. I pull back slightly. "Say it," I repeat, almost a growl. No further until she tells me what I want to hear.

"What?"

"Tell me you want this. Do you wan' it, Slayer?"

"Yes," she replies breathlessly.

"Say it."

"Spike, I—" Then her face changes and she steps back, looking horrified at what nearly came out of her mouth. "I mean no!"

I stare at her blankly, confused to say the least. "Wha—" I start, but she cuts me off.

"I can't... we can't do this, alright? This is wrong."

The chit damn near says it as if it's news. "Well of coarse it's bloody wrong, luv, what else would you think?"

"No, Spike, listen to me! This... this was a mistake. I don't know what I was thinking, but we need to stop immediately and just forget it ever happened. I need to go home and take a cold shower, and you're going to go back to your crypt and, and... I don't wanna know what you do," she finishes with a shudder, "just... We both just have to forget about this, alright? It didn't happen."

"But it did happen, Buffy," I groan in frustration. It did, it finally happened, she can't bloody take that away from me! Not now. "You can't tell me you don't want me, you just admitted it yourself." I make a move towards her, but she holds her arm out to keep me from getting any closer.

"I didn't know what I was saying. Or, or maybe I did, but... Look, I just can't do this. I can't do this with you."

"Well why the bloody hell not?!" I demand. This is insane. I want her, she wants me, forgive me if I fail to see the bleedin' problem!

"Because." Because? What the hell kind of excuse is that? "Because I have a boyfriend."

"A boyfriend?" That pathetic whelp? I almost laugh.

She's instantly on the defensive. "That's right, a boyfriend. A boyfriend who's nice, and who's normal, and who's exactly what I need. Who isn't dead. Or evil. And who hasn't tried to kill me. And who's the same age as I am instead of being, like, over a hundred years older — which, for your information, is just beyond creepy," she adds. "One who doesn't have some stupid curse on him, or a truck-lode of guilt he can't seem to let go of. A regular guy, who loves me and who doesn't deserve this. Riley does not deserve this!"

"Neither do you, luv," I say quietly, pain evident in my voice, "You don't deserve to have to stay in a relationship with someone that you don't love, simply because you're afraid to 'urt his bloody feelings."

I must have hit a sore spot, because it makes her instantly angry. "And what makes you suddenly so sure I don't love him, Spike?"

"Oh please," I sneer, "Come on, Slayer, Riley Finn? You're tellin' me he's the grand love of your life?"

She's a bit thrown by the directness of my question. She didn't expect me to just ask her straight out like that. "Well," she stammers, "well maybe he's not. But what, you think you are?"

Now it's my turn to be taken by surprise. I stop dead in my tracks. I never expected 'er to ask me that, of all things. But after a moment of consideration, I know I have to tell her. I have to be straight with her — there's no turning back now, I've gone too far already. "I think I could be," I say, the words more serious then anything I've said before. "If you tried, Buffy, I know you could love me."

"You're crazy." She stumbles backwards, until she's up against the wall.

"Wrong. I've never been more sane in my life. I love you," I continue, moving closer. "I've always loved you, Summers, don't you see? What ever it is between us, it's real. I know you feel it too. Maybe not as strong as I do, but you feel it." I reach to pull her into my arms again, but this time when she doesn't stop me I stop myself. Something just dawned on me. This isn't about me, or us, it's about her. It's about her and Capitan Cardboard. I know any smidgen of what she feels for me has to be a hundred times grater than anything she could ever feel for him, but you see, that's not the point. Too bloody noble she is, could never cheat on him. This is wrong to her because they're still together. She needs to make a clean break.

Has a choice to make, she does, and I can't make it for her. Buffy has to do this on her own. I've done my part, I've told her how I feel. Seems this is my cue to leave.

"I'm 'onna go now, pet. You think this over." I give her one last quick peck on the lips, then turn around and walk, not waiting for her reply. I've got to be strong, I tell myself. It hurts, but I know I have to walk away. And so I do — I look straight ahead and I walk. I want to turn back, desperately, but I can't. I have to keep walking. I have to walk away and leave her to make her own decision. 's not time for us, not yet. When she's ready, she'll come to me on her own.

It's painful (who am I kidding, it's straight bloody agony), but still, I can wait. I would wait an eternity for her. Funny thing, love is. Never been a patient man before. Any other bint, I wouldn't waist an extra second on. But this one's different. She's worth it. Because it's her. She's my Buffy.

I will love her forever, and even if I never have her she will always be mine.


But I will 'ave 'er. There's no guarantee, mind you, but there's hope. After tonight, there's a right lot of it.

I know I'm long out of her sight now, so I slow down. And as I turn a corner, I begin to smile when it all finally dawns on me. I walked away because I knew she wasn't ready (and she's not, said it myself this very night, I did), but what happened tonight, it's only the beginning. Buffy will come to me soon enough. Just a matter of time is all.

The streets I walk along are bathed in darkness. Long shadows whisper by me as I pass, soft midnight breeze making my coat flair out behind me. The moon still shines over those rooftops, and I realize I'm happy. I'm happier then I've been in weeks, months. Maybe years. Bloody hell, look at me, the Big Bad turning into mush over some little chippy. And the Slayer 'erself, no less. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. You know, Angelus would have called me a fool. Well bugger him. Bugger all that lot! Maybe I am a fool, maybe I am nothing more then love's bitch. 't least I know what I want, unlike that bloody wanker ever did. And at least I'm finally 'appy.


Almost home, I pass through the gates of the cemetery, and as I head for my crypt I suddenly remember something. I never did get that payment she promised me in exchange for telling her about the two slayers. No matter though, I don't really need her money. I've already gotten from her all I really want.

~END~