Buffy lapped at her ice cream cone, peering at Spike out of the corner of her eye as he wrapped his tongue around the one he had bought for himself. What a strange vampire. He eats fries and ice cream cones...and...oh my god! People. He eats people! How could I forget what he is? Just because he isn’t killing me, doesn’t mean he....oh my god...
Spike heard her heart rate increase and the small gasp she gave as she remembered that the man walking at her side was a creature that lived on the blood of living humans. He cocked his head at her, then took a quick glance around to see if she had somehow sensed a danger that he hadn’t noticed. When he saw nothing to blame for her obvious distress, he sighed and stopped.
“What is it now, pet?”
“Wha-what do you mean?” Her voice was barely a squeak and her eyes flew open even wider.
“I mean, Slayer, what the bleedin’ hell has suddenly got your knickers in a twist? Your heart’s poundin’ like a trip hammer an’ you’re looking at me like I just grew curly horns out of the front of my head. What happened?”
Instead of answering his question, she responded with one of her own.
“Where did you get the money you spent tonight?” she asked tightly. “Where’d you get it, Spike?”
“From a poker game last night. What’s wrong with you? Got something against gamblin’? Cause if you do, we’re gonna have some prob—“
“You didn’t kill somebody for it?” The relief and desire to believe him quivered in her voice and he was once again reminded that this Buffy was, unlike the other, much younger than she appeared to the eye. He shook his head in sudden understanding.
“I haven’t killed anybody, luv,” he said softly. “Know better than that, don’t I? Not saying I wouldn’t if I had to, but got better sense than to start snackin’ on the neighbors while I’m livin’ in the Slayer’s cellar.”
“What are you eating, then?” Suspicion was still visible in her gaze. Even though she’d gotten past her initial shock at finding a vampire who wasn’t trying to kill her and who now claimed not to have killed anyone lately, her deeply engrained beliefs about vampires still colored her every reaction to his actions.
“Haven’t really addressed that issue yet,” he mumbled, quickly filling his mouth with ice cream.
“We’re addressing it NOW,” she said firmly, planting her feet and sticking her lip out stubbornly. “Before you go another step.”
He waved a hand at his full mouth and tried to look apologetic, but she just glared at him and tapped her foot impatiently. With a sigh, he swallowed the melted ice cream and tried to answer her truthfully.
“Last night wasn’t a problem – the bar where I found the poker game was havin’ a special on O neg....” His voice trailed off as he watched her eyes narrow. “More than you needed to know, I guess,” he admitted with a small smile.
“Like a dog with a bone,” he muttered under his breath, as he started walking again, leaving her to chase after him.
“What? What did you say?”
“I said, ‘I forgot what a stubborn bint you are’,” he growled, tossing the rest of his ice cream cone into the street and whirling to face her.
“Look, Slayer. I am what I am. I have to have blood to live, so unless you’re volunteering to be my midnight snack every night...” He tried hard not to look as if he were excited by that prospect, but the look on her face told him he was failing miserably. “I won’t kill, alright? I’ll look for some evil-doer of some sort and just put the fear of...fear of Spike into him, alright? And I’ll ask around. Place as open about vamps as this one is has to have places you can buy blood. I’ll find out where they are and you can stock the fridge, yeah?”
“Angel drinks pigs’ blood from the butcher,” she said more meekly than she’d intended, already flinching away when the anticipated snarl ripped through the air between them.
The vampire turned away and began walking in the opposite direction without a backward glance.
“Where are you going?”
“When will you...will you...should I Ieave the door unlocked?”
There was no response from the rapidly disappearing vampire, and she yelled after him, “If you don’t answer me, I’m locking you out!”
“Go ahead!” he yelled back.
“Fine! I will!”
She had only stomped a few more steps towards her home when she heard him call her name so softly she barely heard it. She stopped, but didn’t turn around to face him.
“Just go home, Slayer. Go to bed.” His voice sounded more tired than angry now, and she nodded in reply before beginning to walk again. When she got to her front walk, she finally turned and looked, but there was no sign of the blond head she’d half-expected to see.
Nor did she see the two humans hiding in the shadows of the alley next to the office building on one side of her house. Pulling out her key, she opened the door, automatically locking it behind her after she stepped into the house. She stood in the kitchen for a long minute, staring at the door to the basement and wondering if she should go down to check that door. Finally she gave a good imitation of a growl and yanked open the door at the top of the stairs, muttering about ‘stupid vampires’ as she stomped down the stairs and over to the outside door. She noticed that Spike had made himself a bed near one wall of the room and cringed when she thought about his trying to sleep on cold concrete while she had a perfectly good couch in the living room. Then she shrugged and reminded herself that he was a vampire.
He probably sleeps in a crypt or something. He doesn’t need a bed.
She saw that he had locked the outside door, and, after a moment’s hesitation, she quietly unlocked the door and went back upstairs. Within ten minutes she was in bed and well on her way to being asleep. Outside, two sets of eyes noted the location of the last light to go out, as well as the location of all the windows and doors.
Spike’s anger took him swiftly back to the area of town where he’d found the demon bar and he slammed his way in, snarling his order to the bartender and throwing himself into a booth that became empty as soon as it was clear that he was planning to sit there. When the waitress reluctantly approached with his O neg and a bottle of Jack Daniels, he forced himself to smile at her.
“Sorry, luv, didn’t mean to frighten you. You know I’d never hurt anything as pretty as you are.” He gave her a wink and watched as she relaxed and smiled back at him
“You didn’t scare me,” she said quickly. “I like forceful men.”
“You don’t say,” he drawled, looking her up and down again. He toyed briefly with allowing the obviously willing vampire to provide him with an evening’s entertainment, as well as a place to sleep away the next day, then sighed in disgust.
Didn’t take much to turn me into a nancy-boy again, did it? Couple of shags with the Slayer’s warm body and suddenly another vamp just doesn’t do it for me. No sense not keepin’ my options open, though.
“I’ll keep that in mind, pet,” he responded with a leer. “Maybe one of these evenin’s we’ll see just how forceful you like it...”
Hope and disappointment flitted across her face as she gave him his drink, leaning forward to be sure that he got a good look at her cleavage and he licked his lips appreciatively before tucking a bill between her ample breasts. He allowed his finger to trail up to her neck, smiling when she shivered.
Oh yeah. Got a place to stay now, if I need one. The Big Bad is still in the house.
That thought reminded him that he’d left Buffy unsure if she should expect him or not, and instead of following up on the open invitation in the vampire’s eyes, he turned her around and smacked her on her ass as he said, not unkindly, “I believe you’ve got some other customers over there, luv. Best see to them, yeah?”
He quickly mixed the blood with a substantial amount of the whiskey and gulped it down. The immediate improvement in the way he felt made it clear that he was going to have to find a good meal soon or risk becoming weak. He had no idea what Buffy thought he was doing while he was out, but no matter how angry it made her, he knew that he was going to need a steady source of blood – and it wasn’t going to be from a pig. ‘Not if I have anything to say about it,’ he grumbled to himself, ignoring the little voice that was telling him that he’d probably do whatever Buffy wanted.
After checking his wallet, he decided it wasn’t going to be necessary to find another poker game just yet, and he relaxed back into his seat to survey the room. He got a quick smile and a nod from a demon that he remembered from the card game the night before. One that he knew was from a peaceful and friendly species. So peaceful and friendly that he recalled Buffy had known and liked one of them back in Sunnydale. He nodded back, reluctant to give up his image by smiling, even though it would be very useful to have an acquaintance who could fill him in on this world.
The decision was taken out of his hands as the friendly, loose-skinned demon took his nod as permission to join him. Carrying his drink with him, he walked over to Spike’s booth and sat down with a cheerful, “Nice to see you again. Did you come back to give us a chance to win back our money?”
Spike gave a lazy smile and replied, “You sure you’re ready for another round of ‘let’s make Spike rich?’” He studied the demon’s friendly face and tried to remember his name.
“I’m Clem.” The other demon took care of the problem, extending his large, scaly hand and waiting expectantly for Spike to respond.
“Yeah, Clem. I remembered,” he muttered, giving the proffered hand a quick shake before anyone could catch him being civil.
“No, you didn’t,” Clem responded cheerfully. “But that’s okay. I’m used to it. It’s just as well, sometimes. Keeps me off the radar.” At Spike’s inquisitive look, he added, “You do know we have a slayer here now, don’t you? Do you know what a slayer is?”
“Do I--?” Spike sputtered and growled, before subsiding into a, “Yeah, ‘course I know what a slayer is. Killed two of ‘em, haven’t I?”
The demon just blinked at him, subtle disappointment flickering across his features as he thought about what Spike had said.
“You must be older than you look,” Clem said carefully. “What with there not having been any slayers around for hundreds of years...”
Bollocks! How do I get out of this one? Spike looked back, having no trouble meeting Clem’s eyes firmly.
“I’m not from around here,” he admitted honestly. “Things are a bit different where I come from.”
“There are slayers? I thought they were extinct! No one that I know of has seen or heard of one.”
“Well, there’s not but one at a time,” Spike explained quickly. “But as soon as you off one of the little bints, another pops up somewhere else in the world to take her place.”
“Oh.” Clem’s expression said that he was giving Spike the benefit of the doubt, but still had his suspicions. “I guess that explains why we have one now, then, huh?”
“Probably.” Spike shrugged nonchalantly. “Guess the Powers That Be felt there was need here.” He paused to take another drink, then, just as casually he asked, “What can you tell me about this one? Is she anything special?”
“Oh my, yes!” Clem’s face lit up before he remembered that he was speaking about the sworn enemy of all vampires and demons. “I mean, she’s really made a difference in this town. Nobody’s been able to defeat her yet.”
“That good, huh?” Spike tried to look mildly interested. “Maybe I’ll have to look the bint up – see if she’s up to a bit of a scrap with me.”
“She’s very, very good,” Clem said, quickly adding, as Spike’s face darkened, “Not that I’m saying you couldn’t kill her, mind you. Just that she...”
The demon shrugged uncomfortably. “It’s actually a lot nicer here than it used to be. With the Slayer living here. Things are quieter, you know? A guy doesn’t have to worry about being robbed if he has a good night at poker, or that a bunch of stupid vampires – no offense! – will kick him out of his rightfully owned cave...”
Spike cocked his head at the embarrassed demon. “So, you like the chit, then?”
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like her,” Clem said quickly. “But she seems...nice. In a ‘she hasn’t tried to kill me’, kinda way. And, she got me my cave back,” he mumbled into his glass.
Signaling for another round of drinks for them both, Spike leaned back in his seat and said, with his first genuine smile, “So, what else can you tell me about this place, Clem?”
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