He was getting careless. Sloppy. And he knew it, too. But, it didn't matter. Not if he could just see her – even from afar. He just had to know she was okay. He had to see her and watch her and know she was still alive.

And tonight would be the perfect night for watching. Uninterrupted, and not nagged for it either. Buffy and the whole sodding Scooby gang were taking the night off to have some bonding movie night or some other bollocks like that. This, he knew because he'd gotten a phone call from Rupert not two hours before telling him so – and requesting he take a night off himself.

"Yes, I think it would be for the best for us all to take a break. You too, Spike. You've been out every night…longer even then Buffy."

Sighing on the other end of the line, Spike could hear all the concealed subtext to this little chat. They were worried about him. He wasn't coping properly. Well blah bloody blah, he didn't give a shit. It was his life; let him muck it up however he wanted to.

"It's not healthy, really, you need to take the proper time to g-"

Spike had hung up the phone before he could get to the 'g' word. He didn't use that word. Or participate in it. He had better things to do – like kill every demon and vampire he could get his hands on. Killing helped, it was a good outlet. But one he would be deprived of tonight.

To watch her.

Given the night off, he knew exactly where she would go. Certainly not be a part of the cuddly movie fest the rest of them were having – not her style. Really, the bird was so bloody predictable. He used to joke that a smart vampire might figure out her pension for only carrying one stake a night and take advantage of her cockiness. He wasn't laughing about it anymore. Now, he was afraid this sort of thing would get her killed – especially without him watching her back. Because he knew bloody well that the others only barely just tolerated her on their team…they certainly weren't going out of their way to make sure she lived. So the job fell to him, still. Even if she didn't know about it.

The Bronze. Okay, yeah, it was, like, cheese central. But c'mon, it was Sunnydale. Where else was she supposed to go to get drunk and dance on her night off? Besides, compared to some of the other places around town, this place was like some club straight out of Hollywood. So, a night free of patrol duty meant she would be shaking her ass right here, thanks very much.

Sitting at the bar, Faith was nursing a glass of whiskey and reflecting on life and shit in general. Not really what she'd set out to do tonight…maybe she was getting mellow with age, who knew? Ever since the big showdown with The Beast – well, what she could remember of it anyway, her memory got real dicey in some places. But the doctors told her that was normal, so hey – she felt…different. Like, you know when you lose something wicked important, but you can't even remember what it is you lost? But you just know something is missing? Yeah, that feeling had been nagging at her for months now.

Giles had practically abducted her into Slayer rehab - or whatever he was calling it - as soon as she'd gotten the okay to leave the hospital. Which, you know, was fine by her since she didn't have anywhere to go anyway and maybe she was really friggin' tired of fighting the good fight without anybody recognizing her for it. Well, okay 'fighting the good fight' was a little bit of stretch – but she had definitely stopped fighting the good guys and being alone got…lonely. And now she really did fight the good fight. Patrol schedules, and lessons and training and the whole nine fucking yards.

It was a lot harder to go out and get a good, senseless lay when you were busy saving the world and shit.

Which was why tonight was supposed to about exactly the opposite of sitting by herself and brooding like she was Angel or some crap like that.

"C'mon, Lehane, get in the game." She mumbled to herself, knocking back the rest of her drink before moving out into the middle of the dance floor. It took her a few minutes to get into it, to lose herself in the beat and just roll with it. But once she fell into that familiar groove, it was like she was gone. Her body moved, swayed and rolled of its own accord and she just closed her eyes and held on.

By the time he got to the club, things seemed to be in full swing. Alright, as full swing as it got at the Bronze on a Thursday night. But it was crowded enough that he couldn't find her right off, and his throat was thick with nerves as he retreated into his familiar space beneath the stairs.

After a few tension filled moments where he thought maybe he was wrong, and she didn't actually show tonight, there was a part in the crowd, and he could see her. His Faith. He let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding; just to see her so vibrant and full of life like that. Especially when just months ago she was pale and haggard, weighed down with loss and frequenting the cem – no. Spike slammed that train of thought to a halt, taking an angry swallow of the beer in his hand.

Instead of tearing a bloody hole in his chest by thinking so bloody much, he watched her dance; mesmerized just as much as the first time he'd seen her. She was the very definition of man's downfall, and she knew it. She used it to her advantage, throwing around those sultry looks with pouty lips and bedroom eyes to get what she wanted. Spike used to be the sole target of those lips…those eyes…those hands that were now running up the chest of the closest male body to her.

A low growl left his scowling mouth, the sole thought in his mind screaming 'mine!' But, of course, she wasn't his anymore. He'd made sure of that. For her to be happy, she couldn't remember him – or anything that went with him. And that was what he wanted, he reminded himself forcefully, clutching the bottle in his hand so tightly it was threatening to shatter. He wanted her happy. She deserved it…so much more than he did.

Not one for such dramatics as throwing his bottle at that thick blockhead trying to move in on his woman anymore, Spike just heaved a sigh and slammed it down on a nearby table instead. Christ, wouldn't he love to just throttle that random bloke…but the burden of laying low and that pesky soul and all that forced him to control himself. It was why he took out all his rage and hurt and pain in killing demons – because at least he could kill something. Kept the bright and shiny's off his back, too, which didn't hurt.

Besides, if he snapped that idiot's neck, Faith was sure to notice him. And that was the last thing he needed. Clearly, he could hardly handle just watching her…actually seeing those bedroom eyes pointing in his direction had to be out of the question.

Admitting defeat to himself – this had been a bloody stupid idea, he should have known better – he stalked out of the club, thinking a big, slimy demon sounded like just the thing to keep his mind otherwise occupied.

Faith looked up, the dazed, unaware state she slid into while dancing falling away as the back of her neck prickled and she felt a slight shudder run through her.


Extracting herself from the meaty hands currently pawing at her breasts, she made it to the fringes of the crowd in time enough to see a flash of blonde and leather swoop angrily through the door. Blonde and leather? She knew blonde and leather. That vampire, Spike, that had terrorized Sunnydale a while ago.

She'd never met him, she didn't even know much about him, really. Except for what B and Giles told her when he came up in Vamp History 101. Crazy evil, tendency to kill Slayers – and, above all – stay away. They must have drilled that into her head about a hundred times. If you see him, do not engage, go call for backup – or better yet just leave.

Right, well, screw that.

So, Faith had some options now. She could reach into her pocket, and ring up G-man to let him know big, bad and blonde was back in town and wait for orders or she could pick up that pool cue and take out a master vampire. Major karma points, right?

She voted for taking out the vampire. Who needed nights off, anyway?

Snapping the cue in half over her knee, she strode purposefully out into the alley behind the Bronze, glancing either way to figure out where he'd gone. It wasn't hard to track him at all…for a 'Big Bad' he was pretty damn careless. From her vantage point in the shadows behind him, she could tell he was drunk. Sloppy drunk, even. He stumbled along, and she had to bite back a few snickers at his ridiculous mutterings.

Faith easily followed him to a graveyard she frequented during patrol, and as they began to near what looked like a deserted crypt, Faith paused, confused. It was like she was having the weirdest sense of deja vu. True, she came this way on patrol all the time, which explained why it looked familiar. But it didn't explain the sense of familiarity she was associating with it now. Huh. Wiggy.

Shrugging it off as those two glasses of Jack she'd had back at the Bronze talking, Faith came into the open, several yards behind him. "Hey, Blondie. You come here often?"