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Other Talents by Lilachigh
Chapter 1






Other Talents  by  Lilachigh


“I don’t understand how kicking the tyres helps.”  Buffy was perched on the still warm hood of the car,  hugging her knees to her chest. It was a chilly desert night, black sky, a spattering stars, no moon. She shivered, knowing that it was going to get much colder very quickly.  "We're lost. We haven't broken down. There's nothing wrong with the tyres."

They'd pulled to the side of a track that had now vanished in the dark when Spike had finally given up and admitted he had no idea where they were.  Thud! The vampire walked to the rear of the car and viciously kicked another tyre.

“I mean, doesn’t it do them some sort of damage?”

A pale, furious face loomed up out of the dark, glaring at her. “Listen, pet, don’t talk to me about doing damage. I’m not the one who said she was good at poxy map-reading!”

Buffy felt a frizzon of guilt – then pushed it away.  Men were supposed to know where they were going when they offered to take you to meet up with your best friends who were camping out deep in the desert so that they could witness some marvellous moon - the biggest and brightest in aeons. Which, she had to admit, hadn't appealed to her until the last minute when Dawn had decided to sleep over at Janice's and now she'd missed it anyway.

“How was I to know the map was upside down? You gave it to me folded like that. So it’s your fault, if we’re being picky. Anyway – ”

“How the sodding hell is it my fault, Slayer?” Spike roared. “I turned left when you told me to. I turned right at that cactus thing – and, if you remember, I did query, very patiently, that we appeared to be driving north instead of east and was that OK.”

Buffy jumped off the hood and stood, glaring at him, hands on hips. “Listen, mister, you were the one who refused to stop and ask the way at that last gas station just before we came off the highway.  Oh no, you said, I know exactly where Xander, Willow and Anya have gone. I don’t need to ask anyone.”

“Well – ”

“It’s just more male crap about not looking incompetent and stupid!”

“Me look stupid?”  Blue eyes blazed in the starlight. “You had the friggin’ map THE WRONG WAY UP.”

Buffy clenched her fist, punched him on the nose and slammed back into the car, enjoying the yells of pain.

Ten minutes later the silence could have been cut with a very blunt stake. They both knew it would be far too dangerous to continue driving across the desert. Too many hidden gullies and rocks lay lurking out there.

“Why is your car so full of trash?”  Buffy said suddenly, pulling her jacket tighter around her.  The temperature was dropping steadily and she could see her breath forming little white clouds when she spoke.

Spike shrugged, defensively.  “It’s stuff I might need one day. Important stuff. Vampire stuff.”

Buffy picked up two sticky candy wrappers and a pizza box and just looked at him.  Then, before she could speak, she shivered violently.

“You’re cold.” Spike’s voice cut through the brittle air, a hint of concern warming it.

“No. Yes. Doesn’t matter. Not something you need to worry about, of course, being dead and all.”

“God, Slayer, you can be such a bitch.  Here.”  He shrugged out of his duster and pushed it towards her. “Put this on. I’m not going to be the idiot who has to tell Dawnie you froze to death out in the middle of the desert.”

Buffy hesitated, then her common-sense overcame her reluctance to do anything he asked.  Falling ill wasn’t going to help the situation at home. But then, to be honest, nothing would ever make their lives comfortable and happy again. The last time she was ill, Mom had made her chicken soup and she’d lain on the sofa watching TV with a comforter round her shoulders. Well, the next time she was ill, she would have to get out of bed to go to work!  Sighing, she pulled the coat around her body, the smell of leather, whisky and cigarettes flowed around her and she felt her tense muscles begin to warm and slowly relax.

“How’s your nose?” she asked at last.

Spike’s lips quirked. It was typical Buffy. Hit first then worry about it afterwards.  “I’ll survive, pet. When you’ve lived with  Liam, Dru and Darla for years, a broken nose is hardly worth bothering about.  There was a game Darla played with hot fish hooks that – ”

“OK! OK!  I so believe you,” Buffy said hastily, then, “Why do you call him Liam so often?”

“Do I?”

“Yes.  Not in front of the others, but  when we’re alone you call him Liam.”

“That’s his name, pet.”

“But Angel – ”

“He called himself Angel, I called myself Spike.   But at home, between the four of us, we were Liam and William.  Same name from different countries, England and Ireland. Odd that.”

Buffy fell silent.  The same name. She hadn’t thought of that before.  And yet they couldn’t have been more different.  One so tall and dark and handsome, one – well, the blond was fake, but even so, smaller and thinner and she’d never considered him good-looking.  Of course, looks weren’t everything.  He had other talents.

“It’s odd to think of the four of you together. I mean, not the killing bit, because, gross and evil, but sharing the same house, travelling, talking about ordinary things. I mean, I don’t suppose even Darla and Dru were killing all the time.  Did they ever do laundry and cleaning?”

Spike laughed softly. “Oh yes. Darla with her scrubbing brush was a common sight in our house. Would you like me to tell you what she did to your ex-lover with all those stiff bristles?  Perhaps if you’d done the same to him, he would have stayed with you.”

“Shut up, Spike!  Can we just - not talk?”

The minutes ticked away,  the air was icy now and even wearing his duster she was aching with cold.  But strangely she felt drowsy now, and was suddenly aware of Spike reaching across to pull her onto his lap.  She curled up tight, wrapping her arms round his waist and burrowing her face against the smooth material of his T-shirt.

“You shouldn’t go to sleep, Slayer,” he muttered anxiously. “It’s dangerous when you’re so cold.”

“Can’t stay awake,” she murmured, then cast a glance upwards under her lashes.  “Make me!”

“Thought we weren’t talking, pet.”

She sighed.  Sometimes guys could be so stupid.  “Who said anything about talking?”