Redeeming Spike's Ass
by Valerie X
Part Fourteen
"Ever got your heart broken?"

Clem smiled over top of the two decorative umbrellas in the large, pink drinks that he was carrying to their table. "You mean recently, or in the past three hundred years?"

Anya accepted the odd-looking drink from him. "You were at my wedding, right?"

He nodded a little too enthusiastically. "Yeah. That was a beautiful ceremony. Very nice. You know, until the big fight." He took a sip of his drink. "And the groom leaving."

Anya took the paper umbrella out of her glass and spun it between her thumb and forefinger absently. "So tell me about your miserable breakups. It'll make me feel better to know that other people are suffering too."

Clem shrugged. "There were a lot when I was younger. But I guess the worst was my last girlfriend. She was a vampire. Beautiful girl, and she was so sweet. You know, for someone who's evil."

Anya took a large gulp of the frozen concoction.

"So things went well for a while," Clem continued. "We'd go out to the movies a lot, or sometimes just sit in my apartment, watch TV, and share a cat. I guess the problem was she didn't tell me when things were bothering her. She was quiet a lot, so I figured everything was fine. But she was unhappy, and I had no idea." He shook his head disapprovingly. "I hate that, when women don't honestly tell you what's on their mind."

"Me too," Anya said.

Clem took a long sip of his drink and then stared down into it sadly. "She was cheating. She said it wasn't cheating, it was just feeding, just what vampires do. But..." He lowered his voice, as if ashamed. "But they were paying her. Humans were paying her to bite them. She didn't even kill them. It was like she was a...working girl. You know?"

"I think I've heard of those places," Anya said, though she couldn't remember when.

"Now, personally, I like humans," Clem said. "And if they're your source of food, hey, I'm not one to judge. But that's all it's supposed to be - food. Taking money from them just seemed so dirty. I asked her to stop, but she said she liked it, liked the power and the darkness of it all." He shrugged. "I guess I just wasn't evil enough for her."

"I get that," Anya said. "I mean, I was trying to talk to this Anomovic demon at the Bronze one day and he was all, 'Oh, I've heard of you, Anyanka. You used to be the baddest vengeance demon ever, and now you barely murder anyone.' Like I was a loser or something. I still hurt people, you know." She raised her voice defensively. "Like last month, this woman wished her boyfriend would buy the farm, and I made him actually buy a farm. Now he has to clean up pig crap every day, and wear overalls." She nodded proudly. "Not *that's* vengeance."

"Overalls," Clem said with a shudder.

"I'm just so sick of dating on the Hellmouth," Anya continued. "All the hot vampires I meet think I don't kill people enough, and all the humans are afraid of me. You're either too evil for them or not evil enough."

"I know," Clem agreed. "So I don't want to destroy the entire world. That doesn't make me any less of a demon."

"It's prejudice," Anya said, pointing her umbrella at him to emphasize her point. "Like you said before." She dropped the umbrella to the table and drained the rest of her frozen drink in one gulp. "We should have a protest."

Clem nodded as he used his umbrella to slowly stir his rapidly melting drink.

"What happened to her?" Anya asked softly.

Clem looked up, surprised at the question. "What?"

"Your girlfriend," she said. "The vampire who paid humans. You broke up with her? You...left her?"

"She left me," Clem said. "Completely left me. We argued, and then she walked out of my apartment, and..." He shrugged sadly. "I never saw her again." He leaned forward to look into his drink, and frowned at how much of it remained. "I thought about her for a long time. Even tried to find some of her friends, but it was like they all disappeared. So I figured she didn't want to be found. I guess I just...I just hope she's okay."

Anya lowered her head slightly, uncomfortable with his sudden show of emotion. "We should go," she told him. "It's getting late, time when the seriously evil things come out and play."

Clem tore his gaze from his unfinished drink and stood up quickly. "Want me to walk you home?"

"Nah," Anya said as she gathered her things. "I'll be fine."

Anya put on her jacket and slung her purse over her shoulder, but Clem made no more to exit the bar. She raised an eyebrow at him questioningly, and he smiled shyly.

"Will you walk me home?"


It's cold in the graveyard, in a bed with a dead body. Without opening her eyes, she knows it's very late, one of those hours where even the monsters are asleep, where the darkness is so thick that the world seems silent, dead. She hears that word echo in her mind: dead, dead, I want to be dead. I want to lie here, buried in a crypt, cold and dead.

But the corpse next to her stirs, and she almost sobs at the realization that she's still alive, and the dead person beside her is moving.

His hand touches her thigh, and her muscles jerk reflexively. She has bruises there - bruises everywhere, actually. They'll fade throughout the next day, be gone this time tomorrow, and this thought makes her angry. Furious. Who made this rule that she would always be healed, be restored, be resurrected? What makes her so disgustingly immortal? She wants her bruises, and her pain. She wants to suffer. She wants to die.

A whisper. "Did I hurt you?"

She almost laughs at this. How he says it, as if she hadn't, at some point during their night together, raked her teeth over his ear and growled, "Hurt me." But her humor turns to guilt quickly as she realizes that, whatever sexual pleasure he got from inflicting pain, he probably would've preferred not to.

I made him hurt me. I make monsters even more evil. This horrible power that curses me to live forever, and fight forever, comes from something so dark that I can force a vampire to be more evil than he wants to be. I must be something so terrible, so depraved...

When he kisses her, soft cool lips barely brushing against her cheek, her body tenses with rage.

You love me because I'm dark, and wicked; because I'm more evil than you can ever be, with your too-human movements and breathing and lame drama-queen passions. You who would call a truce with the enemy because someone touched your girlfriend. You, the only vampire who ever came to Sunnydale and then decided *not* to destroy the world. You, who lived a hundred years brutally killing, thinking you were such a bad-ass. And then you find me, and I shock you with the depths I'm capable of. I show you darkness you never knew, and this is why you love me.

A cold dead hand is still on her leg, cold dead lips still on her face, inert and lifeless with apprehension.

But if you loved me, really loved me, you wouldn't do this. You wouldn't fuck me as cruelly as I need you to, and then kiss me with inhuman gentleness. You'd tell me to go. Turn me down. You wouldn't let me beg for pain, and wouldn't tolerate it when I hurt you back. You'd make me leave, make me face my suffering and overcome it.

Or, if you love me as much as you claim to, love me beyond what I could imagine, you'd give me what I want. You know - hell, you were the one who figured it out - that I'm wrong, and you can hurt me. So hurt me. Kill me. You fucking idiot, I'm lying right here, bruised and half-asleep, night after night, and when we met you said, you *promised* that you'd kill me. So do it. It's what I need, what I deserve. Just tear open my throat and suck this horrible life out of me. It's what you do, isn't it? What the hell is wrong with you?

And that's why I can never love you. You're pathetic, because I beg for pain and you can't turn me down. You're stupid, because you can't see a victim lying right in front of you. You're worthless, because I came to you for death and you won't let me die. And you're disgusting, because I'm disgusting, and you love me.
"I don't."

Buffy heard a weak groan and the dull thump of a body falling into a chair.

"I don't, I'm telling you. Don't know anything about any Eniwder demon. Loopy bint's probably making it up."

Buffy opened her eyes slowly, and saw a blurred and obviously aggravated Spike sitting at the nearby table, holding the telephone to his ear.

"Really?" he said with mock interest. "Derived from the Latin, eh? Fascinating. Let me just take out my day planner and write that down so I can reference it later when I'm *pretending to give a bloody damn about the history of demon names!*" He banged his fist on the table. "Just tell me what it is, where it is, and how to kill it. Then, you can go prance away and bugger yourself until we call you again." After listening a moment, he grunted a goodbye and hung up the phone.

Buffy rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed, drawing Spike's attention. "Sorry, luv, guess the bellowing ain't much conducive to sleeping."

Buffy shook her head. "Time to get up anyway, right?" She gathered a sheet around her naked body and began to make her way to the bathroom.

"Before I forget," Spike said, standing. "Eniwder demon, uses electrical energy for mind control, big with the cults, and destroying the world at the Flint Campground around eight tonight."

Buffy turned around slightly and nodded.

"And also -" He stopped short, his mouth opening and closing over an apology that refused to take shape.

"Don't," Buffy said. "I mean, not now. I had some bad dreams....bad *memories* actually, and I just need..."

His expression stopped her - a mixture of guilt and rejection. For a moment the room fell into silence as they both searched for words.

"Coffee," she finished. "We could have some coffee, in the Starbucks. Sit together and...have coffee."

"Sure," Spike said, still looking confused. "I'll just uh...go rouse the other one."

"The other one?"

Spike turned as the door opened and Dawn entered their room, carrying her backpack. Buffy only rolled her eyes and went into the bathroom, leaving Spike to defend himself.

"I'm referred to as 'the other one'?" She asked, raising her eyebrows threateningly.

Spike threw his hands up in a gesture of defeat. "Can't call you nibblet, can't call you tiny girl, can't call you mouthy little bitch -"

Dawn folded her arms across her chest. "How about 'Dawn'? Or even better, you could call me 'Brilliant and Courageous Dawn, Mastermind of the Battle Ahead'. You know, since you two are so incredibly retarded."

"Why are you lurking around doors anyway?" Spike countered.

"Intelligence gathering," Dawn replied proudly. "Commonly known as snooping, very helpful in determining exactly how retarded you and my sister are."

Spike smiled and sat down on the bed, shaking his head at her logic. "And exactly how retarded are we?"

"Very." Dawn tossed her bag onto one of the chairs and leaned against it. "We need to check in with Sunnydale."

"The pansy-ass just called," Spike told her. "Eniwder demon, mind control, gets people to join cults and kills them. So it looks like we're on the right track with this Team of Destiny thing."

Dawn nodded. "So we go in undercover, see what's the what, find this demon, and take him out."

"Not so fast, Brilliant and Courageous Dawn," Spike said sarcastically. "Won't be easy killing this one."

"Sure it will," she said confidently. "You and Buffy attack him at once, and I can get it a few good shots with the crossbow."

"No crossbow," Buffy said as she walked out of the bathroom, fully dressed and combing her hair. "You can help with the infiltrating stuff, but I don't want you fighting."

"Oh, come on!" Dawn whined. "I've been patrolling with you all summer, and now I can't shoot some dumb arrows at a dumb demon?"

"Arrows won't kill it," Spike told her. "Made up of energy."

"And this isn't just some stupid vampire, no offense," Buffy said with a nod to Spike. "This is big time end of the world stuff."

"So?" Dawn replied. "You remember that one really tough vampire a few weeks ago? I dusted him with the crossbow from like, a yard away."

"You were not a yard away from him," Buffy argued. "Maybe like, three feet."

"No, it was a *yard*!" Dawn yelled, her voice reaching an ear-shattering pitch.

Buffy slammed her hairbrush down on the dresser with a bang. "It was *three feet*!"

"A yard *is* three feet!" Spike roared as he stood up. "There are three feet in one yard. Were you both dropped on your heads as children?" He grabbed his meager pile of clothes from the table and shoved past both women, muttering under his breath as he exited into the hallway.

Dawn frowned at Spike's retreating form. "Did he just call me a duck?"


It's loud in the graveyard, in a bed with a living body. The world outside the crypt is silent, the demons having ended whatever nightly destruction they'd chosen, and the time for new vampires to emerge from the earth has passed. It's so late that even the dead have stopped rising. After a night desperately clinging to whatever would satiate their hunger, the dead, including him, are finally still.

But in the silence her life is deafening. The air traveling into her body and out again is as loud as a scream, the expansion of her chest rustling the bed sheets just enough for the movement to be audible, and he imagines he can even hear her blood moving. He's frozen, silent, just listening to the rhythm of how she lives. She breaths in, and he can hear the air move through her nose and then her lungs. She breaths out immediately, a hard sigh, her lips parting only slightly. The there's a moment when she doesn't breathe at all - just one brief moment when they are equally still, and then - the air rushes in abruptly, urgently. He could drive himself crazy this way, just laying here listening to this all night, anticipating each breath, obsessing over it, until his entire existence is nothing but the sound.

But instinct takes over, and he shifts his body to keep from drowning in the resonance of breath. Her exhale falters; he's woken her, and for what seems like an eternity the only thought he has is a frantic 'don't leave!' The subsequent inhale is softer, uneasy, like consciousness.

He reaches for her apprehensively, wishing he could fill his fingers with begging, so that when they brush her skin only lightly she hears his plea as loud as it echoes in his own mind. And he wonders if maybe she can feel this, because her thigh tenses the moment he touches it. Then he remembers - there must be bruises.

"Did I hurt you?"

She doesn't respond, but he knows she hears, because her breathing becomes just a bit faster. When he puts his lips to his face the breath hesitates again, as if threatening to stop.

Her breathing makes him angry. Furious. Because he's dead, and he should want only to make her dead as well. He should delight in hurting her. Pin her down and lick her bruises afterwards, taste every wound he's inflicted and get drunk off the scent of her blood as it rises to the surface of her skin. He should laugh at her, this miserable little Slayer who sleeps with death.

And sometimes he does. Sometimes, when their bodies are pressed together with brutal energy, he growls dirty little things into her pink little ears, chuckles at her desires, and bears down hard onto her precious living flesh. She shocks him with what she can take, what she can want. And she hurts him back, slams him hard into walls, and insults him with a viciousness that makes his body tingle. He should hate her, and sometimes he does.

Your life is this excruciating, ever-present din, and yet you crave me; you crave death. You catch your breath in your throat like you're daring it to stop, and you expect me to listen for it, obsess over it, wrap my dead soul around your agonizing reflex. You want me to adore your living body while bringing it pain, because you know that's my nature, that's what I'm made for. I worship blood, life, because I crave it blindly, and I hate life at the same time, because I need to destroy it to sustain my own shadow of a life. And this, to you, is the only love I can produce, and the only love you can tolerate.

Because if I loved you, really loved you, I wouldn't do this. I wouldn't take the life you give to me in frenzied panting and sleepy sighs. If I really loved you my body wouldn't swell at the thought of making you moan with pleasure while you cry out in pain. I hurt you, and I like it. I want you, and I take you, though you never really give yourself to me. I know you come to me for death, but I take your despair as affection, because it's all I have.

And that's why you'll never love me. I'm evil, because you want to be hurt and I can't turn you down. I'm worthless, because I want to make you feel better but all I know how to do is fuck you. And I'm stupid, because I cling to you, and you don't love me.
"But I do."

Spike heard an angry sigh and the sound of a turn signal clicking on.

"I do, really. I trust you with weapons, Dawn," Buffy said. "I'd just rather not have you in the middle of an apocalypse."

Spike opened his eyes and saw a sign that read "Flint Campgrounds" through the side window, as they sped along in the direction of the sign's white arrow.

"Oh, but I can be *adjacent* to an apocalypse?"

"Exactly," Buffy said. "Besides, you're way better at lying than I am. I need you to be undercover girl while I look around and figure out what to kill."

After a glance out the window to make sure the sun was almost completely set, Spike tossed the blanket off of him and sat up in the backseat, his head spinning.

"Fine," Dawn groaned. "But can I at least have a weapon in my backpack? Just in case?"

"Fine," Buffy said. She paused at a stop sign and turned to look at Spike. "You awake?"

"Uh...yeah," he replied, running a hand back through his hair.

Buffy noticed his tired eyes and frowned. "Dreams?"

"Something like that," he muttered. He blinked and met her eyes, forcing a determined look. "I'm good."

"We're nearly there," she said, turning back and continuing down the road. "

He reached underneath the seat to remove the remains of the previous day's dinner: a slightly dented box with a few remaining Krispy Kremes in them. At the sound of the rustling of cardboard, Dawn turned in her seat, her eyes widening at the sight.

"Spike has donuts!" she gasped.

"That's right," Spike said as he set the box down in his lap. "Key word there being *Spike*. *Spike* has donuts, therefore, the donuts belong to Spike."

Dawn's eyes narrowed into a viscous glower. "You have to share. Buffy, doesn't he have to share?"

The car turned off the road and into a dusty parking lot. "We're here," Buffy said, ignoring her sister. She put the car in park, reached down for the trunk release, and got out, slamming the driver's side door behind her.

Just beyond the parking lot there was a tent set up, and they could see at least a hundred people moving among rows of folding chairs underneath it. It looked like a normal gathering of friends, except for the makeshift stage: a crude plywood landing rising four feet off the ground and stretching the length of the tent at one end. It was partially covered with red fabric, and at the back of the stage a ten-foot wooden cross loomed.

As Spike was distracted by the potential dangers of the set-up, Dawn reached into the backseat and grabbed onto one corner of the box.

"Let go of my donuts," he warned her in a low, hostile voice.

"Give me one, and I'll let go," Dawn said with a smirk.

Spike sneered right back at her. "Let go, or I'll rip your arms off."

Buffy looked thoughtfully into the trunk, trying to choose a weapon. A demon made of energy with a horde of human minions would take a lot, but her weapons had to go undetected until the demon revealed himself, so axes were out. She decided on a stake and a few knives, which she was able to easily carry in her pockets. She emptied Dawn's backpack out and shoved a crossbow inside, and then chose a sword for Spike, since he could probably conceal that in his jacket.

After shutting the trunk, Buffy turned and took in the scene. This demon used his powers for mind control, so all those people in the tent - people she'd be fighting soon - were innocents. If Wesley's prophecies were right, and if they didn't annihilate this creature, it meant the not only their deaths, but also the first stage in the destruction of the entire world.

Buffy smiled. It had been a crappy year, and there were a lot of things she was unsure of right now: the future of her best friend, the well-being of her sister, the relationship she'd entered into, and even her own emotional state. But there was one thing she was completely confident about - that she could face evil, and kick its ass.

"Okay, everyone," she announced proudly. "Let's go save the world."

Hoisting the sword high, she turned back to the car, where she saw Dawn and Spike sitting there with powdered sugar on their shirts, each with a ripped half of a Krispy Kreme box in their hands.