And Then There Were Three
Chapter One: Unexpected Visitor

Author's Note: Set post Wrecked but Hell's Bells does happen towards the beginning.

Don't ask me why I did it, I don't even know myself. I think maybe I was lonely – not that I'd ever admit it to them. And there was only a slim chance that she'd call me disgusting. I'd always quite liked her. Not straight away, didn't like any of 'em straight away, but she treated me all right. Not that she opened her mouth that much, but despite hanging with that lot she called friends, she was polite, which was a pleasant surprise.

So here I am, in a funk after yet another run in with the Slayer. Stalked off and was so bloody angry with her that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I finally stop to look for my lighter, which isn't in my pocket where it always is; when I glance up and realise I'm quite near her place. Like I said; don't ask me why, but I shrug and saunter over to the tiny apartment block where I know she now lives. As I knock on her door, I ask myself what the bloody hell I'm doing, but, as I'm here, seems a shame to leave. When she answers the door, I wait for the look of annoyance and disgust that always greets me, but she doesn't look like that. Figure I must be spending too much time with the Slayer. I get a small frown and a light smile.

"Spike," she says, obviously wondering what the hell I'm doing here.

"Tara," I answer pleasantly – no need to be rude, not when she was being polite. Didn't want to get her back up, not this girl who could terrify Anyanka with her shy, rabbit like ways.

"Is there something wrong?" she asks, but before I can answer, her eyes widen in horror. "Is it D-Dawn?" she stutters, grabbing her keys and her bag.

"No," I say. "Nothing's wrong."

"Oh," she puts her bag down and studies me for a second. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"No. Just a visit from your friendly neighbourhood vamp," I lower my eyes. Stupid really, to think she wouldn't be busy and she'd actually appreciate the company as much as I would. "But of course, you're busy. I'll go." "No," I feel her warm hand wrap gently around my wrist as I turn to leave.

"Please, I-I wasn't doing anything. I'd like the c-company."

"Ok," I try my best to look casual and cool, but I can't help grinning.

"Come in," she says and I step into her place, having never been the sort of chap to pass up kind hospitality. "How come you were a-able to get into the b-building? Not that you don't have a right or anything, or that I'm not glad that you - "

"Public place," I interrupt. "Only place I need an invite is the actual apartment. Don't worry, love, I didn't take it the wrong way."

"Oh," she nods. "Good."

I sit down and take in the tiny apartment. It isn't anything to write home about. A fold out bed in one corner and a tiny kitchen with another door to the side which, I assume, is her bathroom.

"H-how did you know where I live?" she asks tentatively.

"Heard Red mention it to the Slayer," I see that she looks uncomfortable. "Look, Glinda, if me being here isn't your idea of a fun filled evening, just say so, it's not like I've got feelings to hurt."

Ouch, that sounded bitter. But that's what happens, isn't it? When you get told so often that you're evil, that you have no soul so you can't love, that's what happens. You start to believe it and you get bitter.

"You've got feelings," she says without a trace of a stutter, says it almost indignantly. "I just wondered how you knew was all."

"Oh," I nod. There's a slightly awkward silence, what on earth do we have to say to each other? "So, what're you doing here? Thought you were moving back into the dorm?"

"There wasn't any room," she blushes. "And I couldn't stay at Buffy's with… Anyway, a friend told me that there was a place here. The rent is quite low and I don't need a lot."

"Not a bad place," I say, casting my eye around. Girl's really made it her own, her things here and there. But she's not settled in too much, I notice. Maybe she's half hoping her and the witch'll get back together.

"No, it isn't," she agrees. "And I pay the rent by working at the E-Espresso Pump. That's how Willow found out." she blushes again, "Xander came in and saw me. We talked and I think he mentioned it to Willow."

"Nosy old git," I mutter.

She laughs and taps me lightly on the arm, but looks instantly embarrassed.

"I'm sure he meant well," she stands and wanders into the kitchen. "Would you like a d-drink?"

"O-Neg. if you've got it," she opens her mouth to say she hasn't but I just smile. "A hot chocolate'll be fine, pet."

She smiles then, warm and bright. We spend the rest of the evening talking about this film she saw about the Second World War. She wanted my opinion; she explained the story and wanted me to tell her how it really was. Been a long time since people have been interested in my stories. I made her laugh a lot, and I was sure to leave the gory bits out. She walks me to the door when I say I have to go.

"Spike?" she says quietly.

"Yeah, love?"

"Would you come again tomorrow?" I'm shocked when she looks at me and I see an echo of myself. She's lonely too. "I – I don't see many people out of class and I l-liked your company."

I shrug, "If you want."

She smiles then, and I find it hard not to return it.