Chapter 9: Pandora's Box
Spike ran his fingers through his hair. When he'd asked the Slayer for clothes he should have asked for some hair gel too. Right now not having a reflection seemed like a blessing. He knew he must look awful. His hair was bound to have curled up, not to mention that his roots were probably showing.
At least the clothes she'd gotten him, although not great, weren't too bad. A plain white t-shirt and an ordinary pair of jeans. He wondered if he could get away with ripping them a bit, something to give himself a bit of style, but he didn't want her to change her mind about their evening out. It wasn't just that he wanted to go out, but this was the first part of his new plan to seduce and then kill her.
The Slayer's transformation was somewhat incredible. She looked like an ordinary–if a bit preppy–girl. She was wearing a brown turtle neck sweater and a pair of nice jeans. It was simple and yet she looked pretty and sweet. If he hadn't known she was the Slayer, he would have thought she was some daddy's girl who he could lead into a bit of temptation.
On the other hand, the basket on her arm made her look sort of like Little Red Riding Hood, except that every now and then one of the three kittens inside tried to poke its head out.
"This is the place," Spike told her as they came to the door of what looked like a shop that had been closed for years.
"This is the big kitten exchange?" she asked skeptically.
"No, this is the kitten exchange in L.A," he explained. "At least the one I know about, I hear there's a bigger one in Orange County, but who wants to go there?"
She eyed the door a bit nervously and he realized she thought he was leading her into a trap. That he had ten of his best vampire pals on the other side of the door.
If only he did, but the truth was no one was coming for Spike. He didn't know what had happened to his sire, Dru. Either she was still in trouble herself, or she'd simply forgotten about him. And as much as he wanted to believe it was the former, he feared it was the latter.
And besides Dru, who else was there that cared what happened to him? Certainly not his grandsire Angelus, who seemed to have disappeared; and the last time Spike had seen him, the bastard had forced Spike to jump ship–well, submarine–and swim for shore. Somehow Spike didn't see Angelus being very understanding about his current predicament.
And Darla? Well, Angelus' sire might help him if she knew about what had happened, but only so that she could chain him up out in the sun. Darla had always thought of the Order of Aurelius as the equivalent of vampire royalty, and she wouldn't tolerate anyone bringing shame to the order. Besides, it had been eighty years or so since he'd seen her. She'd run off to somewhere in California because the Master had gotten himself buried in an earthquake or something. Although Spike didn't see what the big deal was. The way he heard it, the Master pretty much liked living underground anyway.
No, the sad thing was the Slayer's fears were ungrounded. There was no one out there looking for him; no one was going to help him but himself. It was the loneliest Spike had ever felt.
"No worries, Slayer," he told her. "As much as I wish otherwise, it's not a trap. It's just what I said it was."
She nodded, opened the door, and went inside. Not that the inside was any more appealing than the outside. The walls were lined with unfriendly looking cages filled with mewling kittens.
A green, wart-covered demon looked up from the magazine he was reading as they entered. "This isn't a pet shop; you've got the wrong place lady."
Before the Slayer could respond Spike spoke up. "No, this is the right place. And you better speak with more respect if you don't want my boss to curse you with skin as smooth as mine."
The demon nervously put down his magazine. "Sorry, didn't realize you were a witch."
"Well, that's why I'm here. To smooth things out." He leaned in close to the demon to whisper conspiratorially in his ear, "You know how humans are, give them a little power. . ."
The demon nodded, and Spike set about haggling a fair exchange rate for the kittens the Slayer had brought with her. He was careful not to let the Slayer get a word in edge wise, and after a minute or two she seemed content to let him handle the transaction. Finally, they left with almost two hundred dollars.
"I can't believe he bought that witch thing, and why did you lie about who I am, anyway?" she asked once they were away from the place.
Spike snorted. "Yeah, 'cause he'd be real eager to help the Slayer. He probably would have called in whatever security that place had to throw us out."
"Why? What did I ever do to him?"
"You're the Slayer, it's what you're supposed to do that he's worried about," Spike explained.
"What am I supposed to do?" she asked. She tried to sound like she wasn't that interested, but Spike could tell that it was a facade.
"You don't know, do you? Who you're supposed to be?" He could see her trying to come up with an answer, which only confirmed what he was now figuring out. "Right, I know I'm going to regret this, but. . . You're The Slayer. You're supposed to be a big hero type. Kill demons and vampires, save puppies and kittens, things like that."
She laughed. "That's ridiculous. What makes you think I'm supposed to be some sort of hero?"
Spike took a deep breath to give himself patience. For a moment he wondered why he cared if she knew what she was, but then he figured it out. He was going to kill her, and it just didn't seem right that she didn't understand all the reasons why. After all, he'd want to kill her even if she didn't own him.
"Because you're The Slayer. Look, it's like this: there's one girl in the whole world who's supposed to protect it. That's The Slayer, that's what The Slayer–what you–are. Why do you think you're so strong?"
"I don't know. But that doesn't make sense. One girl is supposed to protect the world? Who thought that up? Stan Lee? And how did I become a slayer? Why me?"
"I didn't make the rules, pet. And I don't know why you, but I do know how. When one slayer dies, another one is chosen. Some sort of mystic lottery or something."
She didn't say anything after that. It was obvious she was thinking over what he'd said, so he let the time pass in silence as they walked to the restaurant.
It wasn't until they were seated and she had a soda in front of her, and he had a beer in front of him that she spoke. "It doesn't make any sense. How am I supposed to save the world or whatever, if I don't know I'm supposed to save the world?"
"I've heard there's some sort of Council that's supposed to train slayers; guess they dropped the ball in your case." He paused for a moment to see if she was going to ask anything else. When she didn't speak, he took the opportunity to ask a question of his own. "So how did you end up in The Center anyway?"
Her eyes snapped up to meet his and he could see the pain in them. "It's none of your business. And I'm not a super hero, I'm just me."
Spike had royally bollixed up the evening. Ever since he'd told the Slayer just who she was supposed to be, she'd fallen into a sullen silence. He'd tried to draw her out several times but she refused to talk. In fact the most she'd said once they'd gotten to the restaurant was when she'd ordered her cheeseburger. She barely touched it though. She spent most of the time drawing arcane patters in the ketchup with her fries.
Spike was almost relieved when they returned to The Center. Her quiet was wearing on him. And yet he wasn't quite ready to give up.
"I'm sorry," he said. She looked at him questioningly, obviously unsure what he was apologizing for. The truth was he didn't know either, but experience had taught him that when dealing with women one couldn't apologize too little. "For telling you about being the Slayer. I just thought. . . look I don't want you to start slaying. I just thought you should know."
"I'm not mad at you. I'm just. . . What am I supposed to do? You say I have this big destiny, except somehow I missed it. And it's not like I want it anyway."
"So what do you want?" he asked, genuinely curious about what it was that kept this derailed slayer going.
"I want to be a girl again. I want to not know how to fight and kill. I just want to go to movies and eat popcorn and have a boyfriend and go-"
He kissed her. It wasn't much of an opening, but if his time in The Circle had taught him anything it was to exploit any opportunity no matter how risky it might be.
For a moment she tensed up, but then she began to respond slowly, as if she was trying to remember how this was done. He was patient with her. Gently putting his arms around her until she relaxed into him. Slowly he begged her lips to open with his tongue, and then, when she let him in, delicately probed the inside of her mouth. When he felt her hands begin to move up and down his chest, he knew he had her, and he let her mouth go for a moment so that she could catch her breath.
But before he could reclaim her mouth, she was kissing him, pushing him backwards until his back hit the wall. He was fine giving her control if she wanted it. In fact it was better this way. The more she thought she was in control, the more her guard would be down.
He pulled her tighter against his body, no longer worried what she might think if she felt his growing erection pressed against her.
It was a mistake. She pushed back suddenly, eyes wide with fear.
"I-I-I'm sorry," she said with horror, and next thing Spike knew she was all but throwing him back into the small closet that was considered his room. The heavy door slammed shut in front of him, and in the silence of the house he could hear her running up to her room sobbing.
"Bollocks," Spike whispered to the darkness.
He'd thought he'd had her. But it wasn't a total loss. The kiss told him that there was all sorts of desire lurking in her. He just needed to figure out why she was so scared of letting it out.
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