Hard To Get by Cryptwarmer [PG-13]
Summary: After a Slayer is killed under unusual circumstances the Watchers' Council sends Watcher in training Buffy Summers to investigate. When she learns the subject of her thesis is active in the area she stays on hoping to interview the infamous Slayer of Slayers. The Spike she meets is nothing like William the Bloody of book fame. Disgusted by the quality of her training, he takes it upon himself to introduce her to the real world of vampires and Slayers. 
 

Categories: Alternate Reality Characters: Buffy, Faith Lehane, Original Characters, Spike, Xander
Genres: Angst, Drama, Fighting
Warnings: Adult Language, Attempted Rape, Buffy/Other (Temp), Character Death, Sexual Situations, Spike/Other (Temp), Violence
Challenges: None
Series:
Chapters: 4 Completed: Yes Word count: 25,556 Hits: 2,795 Published: April 13, 2017 Updated: April 14, 2017
Story Notes:

This is part one of an intended three part series. There is a scene involving threat of sexual violence at the beginning of the story. No rape or non-consensual sex is carried out. 

The warnings, rating, character list, etc you see here apply to this part of the series only. 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

1. Prologue and Chapter one: What Comes of Dancing With Slayers. by Cryptwarmer

2. Lesson the Second: What the Watcher Knew by Cryptwarmer

3. Lesson the Third: Vampire Hunting by Cryptwarmer

4. Lesson the Fourth: View To A Kill by Cryptwarmer

Prologue and Chapter one: What Comes of Dancing With Slayers. by Cryptwarmer
Author's Notes:

This story has been waiting a long time to be edited, Thanks to Telsa for helping me finally get it off the ground, like me she is unable to resist bad Spike!

This chapter contains a threat of sexual violence. 

 

Hard To Get

 

Prologue

 

“Do you have any idea how wrong this is? I mean, you've done some stupid things in the past. In fact, why does this even surprise me?”

“She right pretty, and feisty, always liked that in a girl.” Spike shrugged. He took a long draw on his cigarette. “Sides, what's it to you? Keeping her busy, yeah? Out of the way, doing a service for our sort.”

“And I'm sure that's your primary motivation.” Angel gave a snort of laughter. “Slayer of Slayers.”

“Thought I'd mix it up a bit.” Spike had a gleam in his eye. “It's not like I've sodding fallen for her, just having a bit of fun.” He pushed off the wall he’d been leaning on. “Don't get your knickers in a twist, not like you haven't had your own unusual relationship with a Slayer.”

“That was different.” Angel straightened up, feeling defensive now.

“You’re the bigger traitor to our kind. You were HELPING a bloody Slayer.”

“I was helping her save the world. You know, the one you're so fond of with the whiskey, women, and warm pints of blood.”

“It's the principle of the thing mate. I'm just shagging a Slayer. I put a smile on her face. Not sucking up to her, waving a soul around like a sodding white flag.” Spike flicked his cigarette butt to the floor. “Things go off between us, I'll just snap her neck. She likes a little rough and tumble. Won't even see it coming

“Thing with you Angel, is you can't stand to see me win. You never slayed a Slayer, never laid a Slayer and you couldn't even SAVE a Slayer, she got picked off right under your nose.” Spike's words hit their mark.

Angel had assisted Kendra in fending off the evil that would have swallowed the world, but he hadn't been able to defend Kendra from the evil that swallowed her life. It happened so quickly, so mundanely that it was nearly an insult. Kendra hadn't gone down fighting, or as a result of a mastermind scheme; she had been killed right in front of his eyes, by his own turnling.

 Angel's assignment with the Slayer had been completed. His calling fulfilled. He hadn't been commissioned to protect the Slayer herself, he had only been called to assist in a single mission. Officially his business with her was over, but he’d hung around. He liked the idea of being useful.

Angel and Kendra had been conversing one evening when Drusilla arrived. Angel failed to immediately acknowledge her and Drusilla, outraged, snapped the Slayer's neck, no questions asked, no threats or drama, a woman's fit of pique and nothing more.

When he saw her fall, his jaw had dropped in astonishment.

“Now love, give dolly a kiss.” Dru had leaned towards him a satisfied smile on her face.” She hadn't seen Kendra as the Slayer, she'd seen her as nothing more than an annoyance.

Any other vampire would have been proud that his turnling had taken down a Slayer. Angel had gone into a rage. He’d looked into Dru’s satisfied face and seen red. He’d thrown her through a wall and would have beaten her to death had Darla not stopped him. He claimed it had nothing to do with the fact that Kendra was a Slayer, it was because she was HIS Slayer. Dru had had no right.

Spike could understand not wanting someone taking what was his. He wasn’t keen on sharing himself, but he was pretty sure he smelled a rat. Angel had felt something for the girl that went beyond doing his civic duty.

 “You've lost your edge, Angel. This do-gooder bit doesn't suit you. I can understand a bloke wanting a change of pace every now and then, and I'm grateful and all that you saved this world, but what good did it do you if all you're going to do is brood in it. Have some fun, enjoy the spoils”. Spike approached his grandsire, took his lapels in hand and said: “Get laid.” Then his face bloomed with an evil smile. “Oh, sorry mate, I forgot, Daddy can't do that anymore.”

Angel shoved Spike back.

“I'm only warning you because you're family,” Angel said through clenched teeth. “Don't really care what happens to you personally, as many times as I've been tempted to kill you myself.”

“Thanks for your concern and all, duly noted. But now, got a Slayer to see don't I.” Spike gave Angel a wave goodbye, and good riddance, over his shoulder as he traipsed away.

“Damned fool,” Angel said shaking his head in resignation. He wasn't envious of Spike's relationship with the Slayer, but he wouldn't mind having more of Spike's attitude. He’d found that both life and unlife were easier when you just didn’t care.

.................

 

Lesson the First: What Comes of Dancing with Slayers

 

“Where've you been cowboy? Not nice to keep a girl waiting,” the Slayer scolded Spike.

Spike enjoyed being her fuck buddy but he had no intention of becoming her boy toy. “Busy. What's got you all hot and bothered, Pet?” She didn't often let him get away with any terms of endearment that suggested she was anything less than in charge.

“Call me Kitten and I'll stake you right now,” she said in a breezy tone. She never wanted him to think he'd gotten under her skin.

“No worries.” Spike slid towards her. “Though it IS your pussy I'm interested in.”

“There's my boy.”

“Not boy, Luv. Many things you can call me, boy's not one of them.” He slid a hand over her ass and pulled her close so she could feel his erection against her abs.

“Vampire's got a hard-on.” Her eyes glinted with delight.

“I aim to please.” He pulled her into an open mouthed kiss, sucking her into him. It gave women quite a thrill he'd noticed, sucking during a kiss, the same way he would if his fangs were sunk into their neck. Lots of things women enjoyed defied propriety, and he wasn't above engaging in any of them. His Slayer could get right kinky.

She broke the kiss, her full burgundy lips curling into a lascivious smile. “Where should we go to scratch this itch?” Her eyes were glassy and heavy lidded with desire.

“Depends, you want it upright or horizontal?”

“You telling me I can only have one?” she teased.

“Fuck you upside down and sideways if that's what you want.” He rather hoped that was what she wanted.

“There's a limo parked out behind the swank hotel,” she said with a lilt. “Bet it's got a mini bar.”

“Bet it's got an alarm system too.”

“Thought vampires were all stealthy and what not, able to get into tight places without getting caught.” She ran a hand over his tight place.

“Thought Slayers were s'posed to be good girls. Least I thought that till I met you.”

“Don't fail me now Blondie.  I never did it in a big black limo before.”

“I'll see what I can do, Luv.”

“There you go!” She patted him on the chest. “Have a little Faith.”

…......................................

 

Spike had once thought that killing a Slayer was the greatest thrill he could wring from one; Faith taught him otherwise. The girl gave him a run for his money and then some. He figured he get just as bruised and battered fighting her, may as well take his licks shagging her.

Angel was a poncey fool. He had it all backwards. Angel wasn't above consorting with the enemy, he was just opposed to enjoying it.

Spike liked the way Faith's thick dark hair bounced when she was on top and flared out like an angry mane when she was below him. He liked to see her glistening with sweat, radiating heat and sizzling with desire.

Spike had been a right stupid git when he was a young man, trying to win favor with the girlies through nice manners and pretty words. He’d been all about the romance, and the mincing words and gentlemanly acts of chivalry. All rot. Women didn't want that, they wanted charm, dirty talk, and acts of lust, if not actual perversion, leastways any woman worth having wanted those things.

Spike was a seasoned and enthusiastic fighter but it wasn’t his speed and experience that had saved him from the current Slayer; it was his erection and foul mouth he had to thank for his continued existence. To be fair, it only worked because Faith had a deep admiration for his erection and a reciprocal appreciation for his dirty mind.

It had started as a straightforward fight, their usual exchange of blows, Faith peppering her punches with insults. She had an astonishing round house kick, worked her legs like a champ. That was more effective than punching given their height differential. In other words, Spike had to work hard to protect his nads.

Most Slayers didn't go for the nads. Spike had never understood that. He wondered if it was some nod towards propriety or if they just thought it below them to hit below the belt. Faith had no such qualms. It made dancing with her more interesting. Spike liked a change up now and then. Faith was tricky too; she knew that sometimes the best way to get her opponent in a vulnerable position was to let them think they had her. It only worked because she was strong, smart and lightning fast. Hesitation meant death, but Faith wasn't the type to hesitate, so the strategy worked in her favor.

He and Faith had exchanged blows several times before that night, and had traded insults more often than that. Their fight was going the usual way, punches, kicks, dodges and flips, plenty of grunting and groaning, with a threat or two thrown in. Spike got in a few good hits, though his speed and agility were his best defense. He tried to stay out of her way until he found a good opening- then hit hard.

Spike actually thought twice before taking one particular opening. It looked too easy; he figured it had to be a setup. Still, he was confident that even if it was, he knew what to watch out for. They had fought often enough that he could anticipate her moves. He wouldn't be going in blind and overconfident.

They ended up with her back to his front, his arm wound around her neck. He had one of her ankles hooked with his own. She couldn't easily throw him over her shoulder because he had them backed against a crypt, and had one of her legs captured. She could go for a head butt, but he was tall enough that if he kept his head up, she couldn't even get him in the jaw. The pain of an elbow in the ribs wouldn't be enough to cause him to loosen his grip. All he had to do was get her other arm behind her back, so she couldn't push them off of the crypt and he had her. He wasn't yet sure what he would do with her, and he had only a half-second to make that decision before she found some way to loosen his hold, but for one-half second he had her--longer if he could capture that free arm.

She was pulled tight against him, nearly in a stranglehold. He needed to separate them just far enough and long enough, to work her other arm behind her. Spike thrust against her, forcing her body forward, his erection pressed into the small of her back. The warm pressure felt rather good. “Don't know if I should fuck you or kill you,” he grunted. He was merely thinking aloud, not trying to woo her with his wit and charm.

“Your call Blondie, feels like you've got the equipment for both.” She was trying to disarm him; that was part of her game, go straight for the nads, if not with fists and feet, with words. Spike had her in a position where he could lift her up just high enough that his erection would press on something more interesting than her back. Granted, doing so would also put her in a position to give him a nasty head butt, not only would her skull smash into his face, but it would send his own head back into the concrete wall of the crypt. If she hit him hard enough his skull might actually crack.

Dangerous business, this brawling with Slayers.

There wasn't time to think, and he wasn't interested in his head splitting like a melon. Spike used his free leg to push off the crypt. He landed on top of her, her face in the turf, and his hard-on firmly planted in the crack of her ass. He still had his arm around her neck, his leg between hers and he'd managed to get hold of her free arm. His weight advantage had her pretty well pinned. He wasn’t sure if there was enough of her neck exposed to get a good bite in, but he could twist that pretty neck and snap it in a second...yet, there was his hard-on, pressed between those sweet round ass cheeks.

He wondered if any vampire had fucked a Slayer and lived to tell about it.

“Call is yours, Slayer. Happy to give you fangs or fuck, either way, you're staying face down.”

Her mouth was in the turf, so he couldn't hear her reply, but knowing her it involved cursing. Spike pulled her head back just enough to clear her nose and mouth but not enough to let her swing her head around. If she chose fangs--well, if she said anything other than fuck-he'd twist her neck around JUST enough to drink from her. He was confident now that he could drain her dry from this position before she could get free, he wouldn't need to snap her neck first. He liked the thought of that. He preferred it when they struggled.

“Do you fuck as good as you fight?” She managed to get the words out in spite of the fact that the fall had knocked the wind out of her and he had her in a choke hold.

“Just as hard, promise.” He pushed his cock against her ass. “Harder if that's the way you like it.”

“You sick fuck! You'd like that, sleeping with the enemy.”

“You're not the average enemy. And I want you awake and aware”

“Like to hear ‘em scream eh?” Even in their position, she managed to maintain a sneer in her tone.

“I'll make you scream my name and beg for more.” He tightened his choke hold. He didn't like her tone of voice.

“Never begged. Never had to, never will.” Her voice remained smooth as satin.

God, this bitch pissed him off, for all that she was round in all the right places, he was beginning to think he didn't care to have her acid mouth anywhere near his body after all.

“Taking your sweet time about it back there, aren't you?” Her voice was tight now, the choke hold finally taking effect. “What's wrong, can't make up your mind?”

He tightened his arm even further to finally shut her up. “No more talking. One nod for fangs, two nods for fuck,” He growled in her ear. “Fangs or f--” He didn't even get the word out before she bucked her firm little ass twice against his hard-on.

“That's my girl.” He loosened his hold just a little. He didn't want her passing out; that would take the fun out of it.

“Vampire, you better fuck as good as you throw down. Don't disappoint me. It’s not the first time I've thought about taking you for a ride.” She actually sounded seductive. How in the hell?

“Yeah?”

“Hell yeah. Why do you think I've kept you around? Never nashed your nads. Was hoping I'd get to check out the equipment.”

It was a trick, some Slayer trick. Get him hot and bothered and then dust him. Maybe many vampires had fucked Slayers, they just didn't get the chance to talk about it, being all dusty and whatnot.

“Don't know if I believe you.”

“What, you can't feel it? Thought vamp dicks were like some freaky heat sensors. I'm hot and ready baby. Why're you wasting my time?”

He pressed into her. She wasn't lying, he could feel heat and damp.

“Who's the sick fuck? This is what gets you randy? I could break your sodding neck.” His words held disgust, but his tone was one of delight.

“What can I say? I like some monster in my man.”

Spike let go of her neck and sat up. “Square with me Slayer, We gonna do this?”

If she threw him off and went back to fighting, it was no matter to him. She was still oxygen deprived, he'd have the advantage. They'd fought several times and she hadn't bested him yet.

“What's a girl gotta do to get laid around here? Yes isn't enough anymore? No means no, yes means yes, didn't you get the memo?”

“You don't think I'll kill you anyway?”

“Not before you fucked me. I've seen the way you look at me. Once you've had me, no way you'll kill me, you'll be coming back for more.”

“Don't reckon your Watcher'd be happy with that arrangement.” Spike gave a snort.

“Watcher can't watch what he can't see. Or is tall, boring and tweedy hiding behind that crypt over there?”

Spike got off of Faith's back. She rolled over and tried to wipe the dirt and grass from her nose and mouth.

“Sorry about that,” Spike said.

“Don't go soft on me now vamp. It was a good fight. You could have killed me if you wanted to.” She grinned, “But your hard-on wanted something else”

He offered her a hand up. “Your place or mine? Or do I have to get you in a choke hold again.” He wasn't sure about the rules of this new game.

“Well, this girl could use a shower.” She surprised him by accepting his outstretched hand. “You could help, if you're into that kind of thing.”

“Sounds tame for you. Expected more with the whips and chains.”

“Gotta save something for next time, right?” She ran her hand over his erection and gave it a squeeze. “Good, not going soft on me after all.”

“My place, now.” He grabbed both her wrists in one hand and started backing up to the crypt.

“This is your place?” Her brow crooked in doubt.

“The entire cemetery is my place. I don't really share well with others.”

Spike took a second to appraise the door of that particular crypt, one solid kick with the flat of his foot sent the door crashing open.

He stuck his head in. “It'll do.” He pulled her in behind him. “Fuck now, shower later.”

…................................

 

That had been the start of an energetic relationship. They still fought, but it was essentially foreplay.

“We really need to stop this, you know?” Faith said after tossing Spike over her head into a gravestone. “I mean, sure we fight but we know how it's going to end. We need to mix it up and actually try to kill each other at least some of the time.”

Spike shrugged. “One of these days one of us is bound to get it, by default, you know, throw too hard, stake slips.” He kicked her legs out from under her.

“Yeah, but that's like cheating. For real Spike, you want to tell people you killed a Slayer, on ACCIDENT?”

“So you think it would be me taking you out?” He was surprised she'd even entertain the idea.

“You throw down pretty good. I give cred where it's due. If it's an accident, no one takes the win, right? The way that last Slayer bit it--Damn, where's the win in that? Not even so much as a hello. You can kill me, Spike, just don't fucking embarrass me.”

“Same for me Slayer; I wanna feel it when I go. See it coming and go out cursing.”

“Won't disappoint you baby, haven't yet,” she promised him. For all her words, a few minutes later she let him catch her. She didn't want to use up all of his energy fighting. “Maybe you should try to bite me, you know, while we're doing it? You know your vamp face gets me going.”

“If I bite you, it won't be on your neck,” he warned.

“Damn Spike! That one will give me nightmares.” She actually pressed her thighs together and shuddered.

“Not so boring after all.” He smirked. “One point for Spike.”

………………

 

It was all fun and games until her Watcher got all Watchery.

“El Watchero is not exactly down with this,” Faith told a very unimpressed and completely unsurprised Spike.

“Maybe if we let him in on a threesome,” Spike suggested.

“Nah, he's seeing someone.” Faith sighed and gave a lazy wave of her hand.

“Foursome?” Spike said unenthusiastically. In his experience, those never went well. Four was a crowd.”

“He has all the usual complaints: dangerous, sets a bad example, unseemly, but the one that's got him by the short hairs is he's afraid the Watcher's Council will find out  when they do their yearly audit and they'll have his balls in a vice.”

“Haven't tried that one yet have we?” Spike rolladexed through their sexual history. “Can't say I'd fancy it. Anyway, Watcher's balls in a vice, quite like that idea.”

“I’m sure it’s not unprecedented. That's the word I want, right? It has to have happened before and if he's worried about unseemly, some Watcher just got busted for boning his potential Slayer. POTENTIAL. The girl's like fourteen years old. Least I'm legal.”

“How old ARE you?” Spike peered at her tilting his head.

“You're not going to start worrying about that now are you?” She raised an eyebrow at him.

“Course not, wouldn't matter anyway, half of what we do is illegal, at least in the places we do it.” He shrugged.

“That's my boy, always making with the priorities.” Faith ran her hand over his head, down the back of his neck then around to his chest.

“Not BOY. NEVER boy. You keep that up and I'll start calling you kitten and sweetheart.”

“Ok, not boy. Big Bad.” She ran her hand down to his crotch. “Spike!”

“So what's Watcher boy planning on doing about it? You're already scheduled to die young, they expect you to die a virgin too?”

“Yeah, pretty much that's the gig.” She put her hands in her back pockets and sighed. “You know, Stu's an OK guy. I don't want to get him in hot water, but as long as I'm slaying why do they care who I'm laying?”

“It's because I'm a vampire yeah?”

“Course, you don't think Stu would care if I was doing Boy Wonder do you?” She gave a snort of laughter.

“Sometimes I think you should, you know, give him a shag. The way he pants after you, I feel sorry for him.”

“What, you wouldn't mind?” Faith tilted her head at him. “Thought you didn't share with others.”

“My territory yeah, but I don’t care who you fuck long as you've got some leftover for me.”

There was a tremor in his tone that Faith didn't miss, nor did she miss the tightening of his jaw. She knew he wasn't really down with her getting with another man, even someone as insipid and inconsequential as Xander, aka, Boy Wonder. Xander made himself useful, sharpening tools and picking up coffee and donuts.

“Think you've ruined me for most men.” Faith forced herself onto Spike's lap. “You're a hard act to follow.”

“You're not really in trouble?” he checked. “I mean, they don't like it but they won't try to stop it?”

“Slap my hand maybe but hey, I'm the Slayer. Into every generation, ONE is chosen. They need me.”

“'Not so much worried about them slapping your hand as them staking me,” he pointed out, in case that hadn't crossed her mind.

 “I don’t usually stay in one place this long.” He had never shared much of his history with her. “When I started slaying Slayers, there was no technology. It was harder for a council full of nancy pants to track me down and gang up on me. It’s easy enough to keep myself fed, long as I keep moving. Police don't have a clue when it came to vamps. The Watcher's Council knows a thing or two.” His brow was creased.

“Yeah, and they know a thing or three about YOU. You're in all the books, William the Bloody.” Faith poked him in the chest. “Lame name if you ask me, bloody?shrug. “What else would a vampire be? Now Spike actually suits you.”

“Does old Stuart know it's me you’re boning?”

“Hey, I have a reputation to protect. He knows I wouldn't get with the regular vampire scum around here. If I'm doing a vampire it's going to be one worth doing.”

“So he just figured it out?” Spike was skeptical.

“He found some bleach blonde hairs in his shower drain.” She shrugged. “He’s heard about clean kills over the police wire, kind of your calling card these days. Plus, you know…Xander.”

“Guess your Watcher doesn't appreciate us doing it at his place, sort of a slap in the face for him.”

“Lil bit.”

“So what happens next? Council shows up and gives you a talking to, or they come after me with pitchforks, torches and automatic stake throwers?”

“I won't let them hurt you,” Faith said, suddenly serious.

“LET them hurt me? What do you mean YOU won't let them? I can take care of myself. I'm not your bleedin' pet that needs to be kept safe from the dog catcher. They won't hurt me Luv, but not because of you.” He shoved her off his lap.

“Don't get defensive. Geez, all I'm saying is if they think they're going to get to me by doing you in, I'll teach them otherwise.” There was a hint of fear in her eyes. Not fear of Spike, but fear for Spike. She didn't want to lose him. Sure, he might just be a fuck buddy, convenient for a good time, but she'd be hard pressed to find a comparable replacement.

“It's what comes of staying in one place too long and shagging women without ripping their throats out after,” he grumbled.

Faith twisted her mouth and sighed, “We're a pair, huh?”

“Got that right.” Spike ran a hand through his hair. He enjoyed a fight, a fair scrape, all boots and knuckles.  The Watcher's Council, should they really decide to come after him, wouldn't bother with a fight; they'd take him out in an ambush. Spray holy water, come after him crossbows waving. It'd be worse than going out by accident, cornered like an animal in front of a line of wankers in tweed.

“Maybe it's time to hit the road. Kiss Sunnyhell goodbye. Maybe go to Rio.” Faith suggested. If he wasn't interested in her protecting him, she'd give him an easy out by telling him to leave town.

“Not Rio, might run into my ex there.” He shuddered. “I don't fancy running away.”

“Come on Spike, it's what vampires do when the heat is on. You've done it before, nothing different about it this time.” Faith spoke the truth. Vampires kept moving to stay safe. It's what brought him to Sunnydale, there was no shame in it being the reason he left.

Still....

“Never really met your Stu,” Spike noted. “Sounds like a decent bloke. Maybe we should talk.”

“You're kidding, right? You're going to have tea and crumpets with my Watcher? Think he'll change his mind and decide you're an upstanding citizen?”

“No, just--you know--shagged his slayer on his bed, kitchen counter, rug, car. Seems like I ought to at least tip my hat.”

“Maybe scare him a little?” Faith suggested.

“Learned one thing, most Watchers don't scare easy. They look like a bunch of ponces, but when it comes to it, they're not afraid to fight. Wouldn't say I respect them exactly but I don't discount them,” he admitted.

Faith was actually shocked. Spike had only ever spoken of the Watcher's Council and Stuart in disparaging tones, making fun of the lot of wankers, as he called them. He talked about them as if they were just mosquitoes to be swatted away, minor annoyances.

Spike gave a heavy sigh, a shrug and said, “Whatever those wankers do, reckon you can handle yourself. I'm off to Willy's there's a poker kitty with my name on it.” He needed time to think. Sunnydale had been good to him. Easy kills, nice climate, thriving demon population to both feed on and do business with and Faith was a right good time. Sex was more fun with a warm body, feeling her pulse all around him when he came, the smell of sweat and the taste of live blood when things got rough.

He’d rather not leave all that. He’d not been to a Hell Mouth before, had never appreciated their myriad benefits, but it was a fact of life that every watering hole, sooner or later dried up. Maybe Sunnydale had played itself out. But that was a decision for another day, tonight he wanted a drink and some distraction, and not to see the look of concern in his Slayer’s eyes.

Faith watched him stroll off with a spring in his step taking out his ciggies and lighter as he went.

Faith wasn't afraid. Not of Stu. Not of the Watcher's council, yet she didn't like to see that back of Spike's head, cocky and confident. She frowned at the set of his shoulders, the way one dipped as he leaned in to light his cigarette. The other jutted forward, he didn't look back. He never looked back.

She needed to go kill something, work the kinks out in a somewhat less pleasurable, and far more dusty, manner than the kinks she worked out with Spike.

She went patrolling, and as he so often did, Xander showed up. “Thought you might want some company,” he said with a big open smile. He knew better than to suggest she either wanted or needed help.

Xander was one of the good guys. Solid. Spike had a point, Faith could give Xander one good day, one heck of a very good day, but that would be all. Faith didn't do relationships; she did men, wherever and whenever she wanted to. Xander wouldn't be a relationship, he'd be a snack in the big buffet of life. That was enough for her, but she guessed it wouldn't be enough for him.

Xander was in an awkward role, a double wannabe. He wanted to be Watcher and Slayer both. He crushed on Stu nearly as badly as he did on Faith. He wanted to do it all, be it all, hence Spike referring to him as the Boy Wonder.

Xander served his purpose, as Faith supposed, they all did. She was the Slayer but everyone was chosen for something. Some people got the memo early in life while others floundered around hoping to bump into their destiny. Xander tried to bump into Faith as often as he could.

As far as men went, he was too tame for her tastes, but he was loyal and had a decent sense of humor. “I can use some company, maybe when we're done here we can go over to the Bronze, drink a little, dance a little--you know--kick back.” She gave Xander a playful shove. She may as well make plans with him, she knew from the way Spike had walked away she wouldn't be spending any time with him that night.

Xander had never said anything to Faith about her relationship with Spike. He didn't like to talk about any of Faith's dealings with other men. Xander knew that Faith and Spike were physical with each other. He knew far more than he wanted to. He didn't worry that Spike would hurt Faith, he believed that Faith was stronger.

For a long time Spike hardly even seemed like a vampire to Xander, he was more like a minor celebrity. They'd read all about him in the Watcher's books. In Sunnydale, vamps were a dime a dozen, not very clean dead bodies with bad tempers and sharp teeth. They were nothing Faith would even look at twice. Spike was different. He was smart and experienced. His kills were clean, done with a sort of brutal finesse. He didn't leave mangled battered corpses. His kills were neat, dry, and often as not wore a disturbing smile on their faces.

“Nice night,” Faith said, swinging her arms as they walked along.

Xander nodded, “Yeah, nice night. Nice moon.” He jerked his chin up towards the sky.

“Is that a fuckin' full moon? Because it looks fucking full,” Faith noticed.

“Pretty near,” Xander agreed.

“Dammit. I usually pay better attention to these things,” Faith cursed. “Damn, Stu is so busy preparing for the big parent teacher conference he didn't even remind me. Too busy watching his ass when he should be watching my back.”

“Hey, I'm here,” Xander reminded her.

“That you are." She threw him a killer smile and draped an arm around his shoulder. The moonlight was bright enough that she could see him blush.

................

 

It's cliché to say they came out of nowhere, but they did.

Faith and company knew there was a werewolf active in the area. Faith even wore a silver dagger in a scabbard belted to her leg. It was a good look and it made her feel way more bad ass than a stake did. She was good with a stake, but they didn't have much cachet as far as weapons went.

Xander decided to tag along, hoping for a repeat of their previous night, dancing with the Slayer at the Bronze. Besides, if she was going to be dealing with vamps AND a werewolf, someone had to have her back.

Spike wasn't sure if he heard it or smelled it first--trouble. Not the kind of trouble you can suss out and form a strategy to address, the kind of trouble that comes out of nowhere and is immediate and primal.

There was growling, screams, and the scents of dog, saliva, blood, and Slayer.

The demon side of Spike went into action addressing the immediate danger. There was no time to come up with a plan, logical thought dissolved from his mind. He was streaking towards the fight, towards the kill.

There were too many. Those were Spike's words when he laid what remained of Faith's broken body on Stuart's couch.

Xander, battered and limping, followed him in. He simply nodded to the Watcher. “What he said.”

It hadn’t been one werewolf but a pack. They didn't expect them. They certainly weren't prepared for them, but no one ever could be. Not a pack. Not really.

“Wolves.” Stuart knew immediately. Nothing else could have done what had been done to her. No vampire or demon left marks like that. She was gutted and mangled; meat had been torn from her thighs.

“She got two, I took out three,” Spike said

“There were too many,” Stuart repeated, he looked at Xander, clothing torn. He was definitely nursing some damage, but not wolf damage.

“Spike threw me into a tree,” he explained.

Spike had done it without thinking. He saw Faith and, knew she was trying to protect the boy. Xander had to be put out of harm's way. Without missing a beat Spike had scooped the young man up and thrown him into a tree. Self-preservation and the density of branches helped Xander stay in that tree until...until there was nothing left to hide from.

The wolves were on Faith before Spike got to her. It was already too late. He saw her put one out as he approached, but there were three more moving in quickly. Spike made his kills as he ripped the animals off of her body, twisting their necks and tossing them aside. The few remaining members of the pack slunk away into the night.

Now there were five human bodies with heads and limbs splayed at impossible angles lying in the woods. There were blood, gore, and guts. Faith's guts. Her silver dagger was embedded in one of the snapped necks.

Spike left all the bodies except Faith's. He lifted it, frowning, and headed towards Stuart's, Xander staggering along behind.

The men had nothing to say to each other. Xander made an awkward attempt at a thank you, but Spike stopped him. “Was only doing what she didn't get a chance to.” Meaning he'd not saved Xander out of kindness or caring. He saved Xander hoping it would help Faith.

Stuart didn't thank Spike either. This was how it was with Slayers. They fought until something took them down. Some lost their lives nobly saving the world, others were taken out by a pack of mutant dogs.

This wasn't how Faith would have wanted to go. She deserved a fair fight and a worthy opponent, a fight that would mean something, not like this. torn apart and broken. She'd probably died scared.

That's the thing about an ignoble death, at the end all there is, is fear. Bravery meant nothing to wolves. They didn't give a rat's ass about valor. No one dies fearless when they’re being torn to pieces. Spike hated that for her, that she'd gone down that way: ugly, stupid, pointless.

Slayers didn't kill people so Slayers weren't supposed to kill werewolves, them technically being human most of the time. They were commissioned to capture them, tranquilize them, even knock them senseless if need be, but not kill them.

But when it came to self-defense even her Watcher couldn't fault Faith for having killed two of them. There never was any expectation that Spike wouldn't kill wolves, some vampires hunted them for sheer sport. Spike himself never cared to. Werewolves weren't his thing but he did what he needed to if they got in his way. These had gotten in the way; they paid with their lives.

“The boy can tell you anything you need to know,” Spike said to Stuart. The vampire squatted beside Faith's body, frowning into what was left of her face. One side was nearly completely torn off. “Just meat. Nothing but another kill to them. If I'd known it would come to this I'd have offed you myself.”

He wasn't teary eyed. He didn't feel angry. What had happened to Faith wasn't the result of anyone's choice. There was nothing personal in it. He couldn't feel anger towards stupid animals merely following their instinct. He couldn't be angry at a Slayer who was doing her duty--protecting lives--in this case the life of the near useless Boy Wonder, but even that didn't matter. It was nothing to do with Xander. It was Faith being Faith.

“Thank you for bringing her...the body,” Stuart said hollowly to Spike.

“Yeah, well, figured she belongs to your lot. That's what got her into this. Chosen one and what not. Here you go then.” He couldn’t entirely hide the disdain he felt. A waste of warm flesh. He doubted the wolves had the presence of mind to enjoy the kill or the fact that they’d taken down a Slayer.

Without a wave or goodbye, he took his leave, another short, odd chapter of his life complete.

End Notes:

Part one is written and nearly completely edited, so I will be able to post the entirety of it over the course of a few days. Hope you enjoy it.

Lesson the Second: What the Watcher Knew by Cryptwarmer
Author's Notes:

Thanks to Telsa for crash editing!

Lesson the Second: What the Watcher Knew

 

“You said a vampire brought you her body.” Stuart was being interviewed, for the second time now, by members of the Watcher's Council.

“He didn't kill her. He just brought her.” Stuart wondered why he was under investigation because it certainly felt like he was under investigation. It was a cut and dried case. There was a human witness, a RELIABLE human witness to boot. The Slayer had been torn apart by werewolves. They'd taken photos, measured the bite marks, visited the scene. There was nothing else to say.

“Why would a vampire bring the body of the Slayer to YOU? Was it trying to send some sort of message?”

“It?” Stuart was slightly confused.

“Yes, you said a vampire carried the body--”

“Him, he brought it, he brought HER. He brought her body, here.” Stuart found himself stumbling over pronouns. He'd forgotten that people still referred to vampires as it, no acknowledgment that they had ever been human, only referencing the monster.

“He?”

“Yes, Spike.”

The two Watchers who were conducting the interview both said, “Oh.”

“Well, you don't think a random vampire found the mangled body of the Slayer and carried her here to pay their respects.” Stuart had grown impatient.

“So you would say he was sending a message.”

“If he had a bloody message he could have simply told me what it was,” Stuart said tiredly. “Spike is perfectly capable of communicating. He brought Faith's body because he said she belonged to us.”

“So you're acquainted with this vampire, Spike?”

“No, not really. I knew of him. I'd seen him, but we never spoke—until that night.”

“He was familiar with the Slayer?”

“Yes, he and Faith knew each other rather well.”

The Watcher's exchanged glances.

“Doesn't really matter now? Does it? She's gone.”

If it didn't matter now had it ever REALLY mattered? The horrendous manner of her death certainly outweighed her choice of bed partner. When a young woman, not much more than a girl, is given that sort of responsibility and put in that sort of danger how could it matter who, or what she took to bed or what she took her comfort in?

Stuart believed that for all her strut and swagger, that Faith had found some comfort with her vampire. He didn't discount the satisfaction he knew Faith got from thumbing her nose at him and the Council or the thrill of consorting with someone who was forbidden. Yet still, beyond that, he believed she had found something there with him she couldn't find anywhere else--her match.

“It's an unusual situation, Stu.” The Watchers weren't being unkind. This was what they did: investigated, recorded, collected information and archived it in the endless mazes of files in the Council headquarters. They knew Stuart was hurting, but the mission went on. The questions needed to be answered now, when the story was fresh and memories intact.

“There hasn't been a Slayer killed by werewolves in over 100 years.”

Funny thing that, the manner of Faith's death exonerated Stuart in many ways. Her death wasn't the result of his mistake just bad intel; they had no way of knowing there was an active pack. Her death wasn't anyone's fault. They would still go over all the details of her training and slaying, but they weren't combing through them looking for an excuse to pin her death on him.

Stuart had not gotten his Slayer killed.

“Spike? You mean William the Bloody?” One of the interviewers put the facts together.

“Yes,” Stuart confirmed.

“William the Bloody carried the dead body of the Slayer here.”

“Yes.”

“ The Slayer of Slayers.”

“He didn't slay this one.”

Once it had been determined that Spike was in fact, William the Bloody, the Watchers became uncharacteristically animated.

“We didn't realize he was active in Sunnydale.”

“We didn't think there were any vampires of consequence in the area.”

“Have you been recording his kills?”

“I think we should hand this investigation over to Ms. Summers.”

…................................

 

“So, you can put us in touch with the vampire?” Stuart received a call three weeks later. Stuart had just laid it to rest. The Council, as they always did, spirited off the Slayer's body. They'd asked, and he answered, all their questions. All the proper forelocks had been tugged and tears had been wept and now he just wanted quiet.

Quiet was something he had not had in over two years, not since he had come to Sunnydale and been charged with Faith as his Slayer. Never a dull moment, never a quiet moment. He hadn't realized how much he cared about her until she was gone.

Of course, he cared when he'd seen the body, torn and mangled, stinking of its own filth because it's bowels were ripped out. It was easy and expected then, for waves of horrific grief and regret to wash over and through him. That poor girl, it was unthinkable but that hadn't been grief over Faith herself. It had been horror and tremendous sorrow for the wasted life of a young woman.

Now, alone, the horror laid to rest, he missed her. He didn't miss the knots in his stomach, or his worry that the Council would investigate her extracurricular activities, but he did miss HER. He could sense now the difference between the situation and the person. He could see more clearly who and what Faith was, and what had been window dressing.

Slayer, sacred duty. Kill the vampires. Was that so complicated?

“You can put us in touch with the vampire.” It was an assumption.

“It's not like I have his phone number,” Stuart said. He immediately knew that had come out sounding the wrong way.

“A location?”

“I believe he keeps a crypt in Restfield cemetery.”

“You mean he has a nest?”

“Not that I'm aware of, no.” As far as Stuart knew, Spike was a loner, much like Faith herself. Probably one of the reasons they got on as well as they had.

“How long have you known the location of William the Bloody?”

Spike. He goes by Spike now.”

Stuart's words were digging his own grave. The council could not forgive this, his knowing the whereabouts of one of the world's most notorious vampires and keeping mum about it.

“Could you set up a meeting?”

“No, I'm afraid I can't. We're not on a first name basis.”

After several weeks a new voice entered the discussion. “I'm writing my thesis on William the Bloody, and I would really like to meet him. My name is Buffy Summers.”

…...........................

Xander Harris, aka Boy Wonder, was a complete and utter failure. When Faith needed him, he'd become a liability. He'd watched, terrified from a tree while his friend was torn apart. He watched, while a vampire tried to save her.

Xander didn't feel guilt for not being able to save Faith. He had no powers. He was no contest for a werewolf. He wasn't expected to be. He couldn't help her then, but he could help the Council now. He could help Ms. Summers with her research, and further the Watcher's knowledge on the ins and outs of an infamous vampire.

Xander knew where Spike lived and seeing as when Xander's life had been in danger, Spike had chosen to toss him into a tree rather than used him to play fetch with the werewolves, he felt fairly confident that he could get Ms. Summers within shouting distance without them getting killed.

They went well armed, but Xander didn't kid himself. He was no match for Spike. Spike would be able to divest him of weapons in seconds. Ms. Summers was a trained member of the council, but she wasn't very large, and Xander doubted she'd be any match either.

“We used to run into him around here a lot,” Xander explained.

“You mean he has a routine?” The woman asked.

“No, just coincidence. Fancy meeting you here, stuff like that.”

Xander tried not to get defensive. He knew that Ms. Summers was asking these questions to get intel on Spike, she was not seeking blame for Faith’s death.

“Well then,” Ms. Summers said, settling down on a tombstone. “I guess we wait.”

“Um, Ms. Summers, I know vampires are your area of expertise, but this isn’t your average town, this is the Hell Mouth. Night time is not the safest place here in Sunnydale.”

“Place?” she wondered if his choice of word was intentional or a mistake.

Xander scratched the back of his neck. “Yeah, place. It's different at night. Different inhabitants, different dangers. So yeah, it’s a different place.”

“I'm a trained Watcher, well, almost, and hey.” She smiled up at him. “I've got you here for muscle.”

Xander's eyes grew wide. He wasn’t sure if she was flirting with him or teasing him. She couldn’t actually believe that he was muscle enough to go up against Spike, or whatever other nasty might be out at night.

“So, you're not a Watcher yet?”

“In training. I'm writing my dissertation on William the Bloody.”

“He goes by Spike now.”

“Yeah, what's up with that? William the Bloody has a nicer ring to it. Guess they're all doing it though. Dracula, down to one name. No more Count van. Must be a thing, vamps redoing their images.”

She was easy to talk to. Xander had assumed all Watchers were bookish, and also that all Watchers were men.

“Aren't you afraid of him?” Xander was flabbergasted that this little woman thought she could just stroll up to a to a vampire and say 'Hey, mind if I ask you a few questions?'

“I would be if I hadn't read so much about him, or if he was just a regular vamp on the street. William isn't...he's not the kind who would just grab me for a snack that way. No hunt, no challenge, what's the fun in that? From what I've read, he doesn't take the easy way out.”

“You overestimate him. He's a killer. I've seen him. Seen what he's done. Seen him fight with Faith. She was a great Slayer, but she never took him down.” Xander's tone was grim. “You think he's just going to hand over answers and ammunition to the Watcher's Council?”

“I actually don't know what I think but I feel like I know him.  I also feel a little bit like he's a celebrity and I'm the president of his fan club. Maybe when I meet him that will all fall apart.” She seemed more concerned that her fantasy might be shattered than that her neck might get broken.

“If he doesn't show up here we could, ya know, just follow the trail of bodies.” Xander couldn't believe that HE had to convince a Watcher wannabe that vampires were dangerous killers. Lives, real human lives were at stake with blood and death--and not pretty death, or easy painless death--terror and the ripping out of throats, and who knows what else. Hadn't Ms. Summers ever SEEN a vampire kill?

“I shouldn't have asked you to show me,” she apologized. “This goes against all your principles. Generally, I agree that the only good vampire is a dusty vampire, but William is different. He’s been around a long time. He’s bested more than one Slayer. We can learn from his experience. This research matters.”

“When people interview serial killers, it's usually after they're behind bars,” Xander said, disgust in his tone. “You know, save the chit chat until after people's lives aren't in danger.” He could hear the snotty edge in his tone, like a jealous little boy, and he sort of hated himself for it, but this woman hadn’t seen…

“I hear I have a fan.” Spike appeared, simply appeared, his tone even, his stance loose. He didn't expect a fight and certainly didn't appear to be looking for a kill.

Both humans tensed and startled.

“Go ahead Luv, say it. I'm smaller than you expected.” His mouth curled into a thin smile. “Blokes were shorter back in my day. We don't grow once we turn.” He pointed. “Put that in your notebook.”

“William.” She stood up, eyes drinking him in. Yes, he was shorter and smaller than she had anticipated also much less imposing and frightening and he didn't stink. She had expected the odor of death to hang around him. She had expected everything about him to be menacing. It's what she had prepared for, this actually threw her off guard.

From Xander's reaction, this clearly WAS William the Bloody and he clearly was something to fear. “Spike!” Xander said the vampires name with a choking sound.

“What have you brought me, Boy Wonder? Could have warned a fella, I'd have worn a nicer shirt.”

“Ms. Summer's, Watcher's Council. I'm writing my thesis on--”

“Yeah, heard that actually. Makes a bloke go all hot inside.” His eyes swept over her, up, down, then up again. He needed to keep her in her place. He was curious what she wanted to know. He wanted HER to know that the boy was right. She shouldn't let her guard down. He was a killer. No, he wouldn't reach over and make a snack out of her, she been correct in that, too easy; oh but the things he could do to ensure she never forgot him...

“Want to have a little chat?” He raised an eyebrow. “Twenty questions?” Spike began to circle them. “Or want to take me to a lab? Test my blood, see how fast my heart isn't beating?”

“I don't have much of an agenda. I’m kind of willing to take whatever you'll give me. There’ s lots of things I want to ask if you’ll cooperate.” Gooseflesh rose on her arms involuntarily. He was scary now, the way he held his body, the tone of voice, the sharpness of his look. There was no doubt he could kill them both, probably in under 30 seconds. He knew it, they knew it. It was the only thing that kept them safe.

“I don't cooperate,” he said that with absolutely no menace in his tone. No challenge. Just a fact.

“Ok, then, you call the shots.” Ms. Summers nodded her head slowly, sorting information and expectations in her mind, reframing, making mental notes, hoping she could remember exactly how he looked and sounded, the way he held his body. She wanted to hang onto every detail.

Spike shrugged. “I don't call anything either. Are you always this formal? Is there a script?”

“I just want to respect your boundaries.” Yes, there was a script. She'd been writing it for the past 4 years. Every time she'd imagined what it would be like to meet him, she'd been formulating a script.

“Vampire Luv, don't really do boundaries.” He was studying her too, sizing her up. She had a thing for who she thought he was, that was clear. She’d called him a celebrity. He could probably get her to fuck him.

“OK, no boundaries.” File that fact away. Take a breath, what comes next? “Are you willing to talk to me or not?” she blurted out. No boundaries meant she didn't have to worry about manners or being polite. No point in wasting both their times. They could run around this pole forever.

“Yeah, but Boy Wonder goes home.” Spike jerked his head towards Xander. “Or did your Watcher give orders, don't leave the lady's side?”

“Yeah, something like that,” Xander admitted.

“S’up to you then,” Spike said to the woman. “Who's it going to be, him or me?” They all knew the answer, but it needed to be said out loud so when something went wrong, they could point to this very moment as the place where it had begun to unravel.

Ms. Summers let out a little sigh. She didn't like to put Xander in this position, but of course, she was choosing her interview.

“If it'll help, I can threaten you.” Spike smirked. “Grab the lady and run, Give you a bite mark for good measure, so they know it wasn't your fault,” he teased.

“Run twice and leave a woman to die?” Xander said, meeting Spike's eye.

“Last time wasn't your fault, and to be fair, I did throw you into that tree. No one could have saved her.” Not even him. Let the Watcherette put that into her notebook. Werewolves--even worse than vampires.

“Xander, go,” Ms. Summers said.

“Want us to walk you home?” Spike had to get his jab in. “Though if you've got a stake in your pocket and walk fast, you should make it home in one piece all on your own.”

“Can you at least give me a time and place to pick you up?” Xander ignored the mocking of Spike’s words. “I'm not going to walk away from here, leaving you with him, open-ended.”

“What's the problem then? You know I'll have her home by Sunrise.” Spike chuckled.

“Sunrise, gotcha. In one piece and with all her blood or should I be waiting with an ambulance...or a priest?” Xander tried to make it sound lighthearted, but he wasn't joking.

“She has to find her own way home; I won't do anything to keep her from getting there safely. Can't vouch for my brethren though.” That was as far as Spike was willing to go. He didn't know this woman, or what she was up to. He was curious to find out but doubted he'd have much tolerance for her.

She was afraid to be left alone with William, though she wasn't sure what she was afraid of. She believed he wouldn't kill her. Of course, she had a stake on her, but she was just as sure she wouldn't have been successful if she tried to use it. Her fear was well grounded, he was a large, predatory, intelligent animal. He was everything people feared, and with good reason.

“Xander, go,” she said again, trying to keep the tremor out of her tone.

Both she and Spike watched him walk away. “How many paces back do you think he'll follow us?” Spike said to her.

“You don't think he'll leave?”

Spike shook his head, “It's not in his nature. He has something of a noble streak.”

“I really do want him to go.”

You could go. Tell him you've changed your mind,” Spike suggested. “Meet me later when he's safe tucked into bed.” Now he sounded like the forbidden boyfriend suggesting a girl sneak out her window and meet him after her parents were asleep.

Ms. Summers had to smile. “I could do that.”

“Make up your mind, put him out of his misery. I've got things to do.”

“Like what?” That was part of the script. Ask big bad vampire how he spends his free time.

Spike ignored her question and waved her away condescendingly.“Toddle home with the boy,” he said turning away, bored.

“Where should I meet you?”

“Do you want to meet for coffee?” He sounded like a hopeful suitor.

“Really?”

“Course not. Don't you have a hotel room?”

Her eyes went wide.

“Not that sort of girl? Don't want people to see men trotting in and out of your room in the night?”

“You can come in. I guess I just never connected vampires with hotel rooms.” She sheepishly realized that she connected them with haunted houses, cemeteries, and belfries.

“I've stayed at some of the best.” He threw her a tidbit of information to get her brain percolating.

“Where do you live now?”

“Wherever I fucking please.” He gave her a smug smile.

“I'm at the Quality Inn, 217.”

“Thought the Council would put you in a nicer place than that.” He was genuinely surprised.

“I'm a student, not exactly rolling in dough. I could have stayed at Stuart's.” She shrugged.

“Say no more. Girl needs a bit of privacy and his couch is damned lumpy.”

“You've been to Stuart's?” Her voice grew tight and squeaky.

“Not when he's been around, but I'm fairly well acquainted.”

“And you've slept on his couch?” She found that hard to believe.

“I've fucked on his couch, does that count? You humans refer to that as sleeping together.”

She noted that he said you humans; he didn't see himself as one of them.

“Who did you have sex with on his couch?”

He looked at her in disappointment. “You haven't done your homework.”

He noted that she avoided the word fuck. If she was a dainty girl why was she studying vampires? Seems she would know better what she was getting herself into. She couldn't seriously be expecting propriety from him.

“Right then, off you go,” Spike shooed her away.

“You’re done with me? Didn't do my homework so I've lost the chance?” She clearly didn't think that was fair, or a very mature way to act.

“I'll come by later, but don't wait up. Like I said, things to do.”

“Ok, knock three times so I know it's you.”

“You haven't done your homework,” he repeated in exasperation. “I'm a bloody vampire, I don't knock.”

Ah, but she had done her homework. “You can't come in until you've been invited.”

“You already have.”

“Fuck.”

“So, not too dainty to use that word after all.” He laughed. “Best be careful, Luv, of using it round me. I might take it as an invitation and I wouldn't knock three times.”

…..............................

Spike didn't have much to do, but he was going to keep her waiting, of course. Poor girl would know it but she would stay up hoping just the same. Maybe he'd meet her tomorrow night. He could leave a calling card. Make a kill and leave the drained body on her doorstep. She might like that, a nice dramatic touch. More information for her thesis--note: vampire is a sick fuck...and dashingly handsome.

He let himself into her room before dawn. She was asleep, dressed, her notebook beside her. She was sunken half over from a seated position, TV on mute.

Spike turned off the light and television, took her notebook and pen and set it on the table. He slipped out of his shoes and coat and crawled onto the bed, got up right close beside her. Wouldn't she get a thrill when she woke up!

She was deep enough in sleep that his arrival didn't wake her. When she turned and felt a solid body her brain registered it as that of her boyfriend. It didn't put her on alert. She slept another two hours before waking, stretching, wondering why she was still clothed, slowly remembering where she was then realizing there was a vampire in her bed.

Her heart stopped. Literally, she was certain it stopped dead in her chest. She nearly peed herself.

His arm snaked around her with lightning speed, holding her fast. “There, there Luv, don't go killing the mood.”

“I'm going to wet myself,” she warned. “

He could feel the tension in her body and smell her shock.

“Fine, go.” He released her and all the silky menace went out of his tone. He sounded exactly like her boyfriend when she told him she had to visit the bathroom just as they were about to walk out the door.

When she came out, Spike was sitting up against the headboard flicking through TV stations. “Don't suppose this is the sort of place with room service,” he grumbled.

“What, you eat breakfast?”

“Technically would be more of a midnight snack for me,” he corrected her.

“I can go pick up coffee, but you don't drink coffee,” she guessed

 Spike shook his head. “Looks like you could use some though,” he noticed.

“They have a free breakfast thingie downstairs. I can grab coffee there.”

“Bring me juice, cranberry if they have it,” he requested.

“You like it because it's red like blood, right?” she gathered half joking.

“I like it because it's tasty.”

“Anything else?” She was looking around for her room key.

“Knock three times, I'll let you in.” He grinned at her.

She wondered if all vampires were like this. No, she knew they weren't, or their names would be in the books. She wasn't sure yet if William was charming or just a pain in the ass. Was he toying with her like a cat with a mouse, or like a boy on a playground?

Crawling into bed with her had been an interesting touch. She wished she hadn't been so terrified; she never thought she'd get a chance to touch him. Based on her experience with him so far, she guessed it wasn't going to be her last chance.

He had suggested he'd have sex with her. She shivered with a mixture of lust and terror. That was probably taking research a bit too far. Her boyfriend, Riley surely wouldn't be on board with it. He wouldn't be on board with any of this if he knew the truth. All she had revealed was that she was going to investigate and interview the Watcher whose Slayer’s body had been returned to him by William the Bloody, and hopefully, gather some intel on him that hadn't yet made it into books.

Riley wouldn't have let her get on that plane if he had any inkling she was going to try to meet William herself.

She didn't want to have sex with a vampire, not really. Of course, it had figured into her fantasies over the years, a byproduct of her fascination with them. She knew it was sick, like those pathetic women who fall in love with killers on death row and meet them for conjugal visits. Maybe she was just an attention-hungry pathetic freak with a secret death wish who got turned on by fantasies of rape and murder. She felt rather ordinary as she entered the hotel lobby to find there was no cranberry juice at the particularly awful excuse for breakfast.

There was a convenience store across the road. She got coffee, cranberry juice, and a banana.

When she returned, Spike opened the door before she knocked.

She looked at him, surprised. “Could hear you. Could smell you coming,” he told her. “Want your notebook so you can hurry and write that down?”

“Don't be an ass, at least not till I've had my coffee,” she said tiredly. She handed him the juice.

“Do I owe you for this?”

“No, my treat.”

Spike went back to the bed and the TV and let her drink her coffee.

"Where's my notebook?” She suddenly noticed it was missing.

“What's that?”

“My NOTEBOOK.”

“This one?” He pulled it out from under the pillow beside him. “I was right curious what you wrote down about me, and what you want to know.”

“Do you approve?”

“Actually some good questions in there. Your handwriting is abominable.”

“Since we'll be in here, I'll just use my laptop today. You can keep the notebook.” She wasn't about to play wrestle the vampire for the notebook, that was way too "playground" for her, and the coffee had not yet kicked in.

“Still, it seems so formal.” He clicked off the television. “Us sitting across from each other, me answering questions.”

“You have a better idea?”

“Quit referring to me as bloody Wiliam,” was his first suggestion.

“It's William the Bloody,” she corrected.

“It's redundant. I'm a vampire, course I'm bloody. I go by Spike.”

“Yeah, what's with that?”

“Was sure you heard that story. Tortured victims and all.”

“That was a century ago, and you were still going by William then.”

“So you did some of your homework.”

“Why Spike?”

“Could tell you it's because I'm well hung.”

“I don't believe that's the reason.”

“Do you doubt me? Not going to get much out of a bloke after you suggest he's not got it all going on downstairs.”

“Geez, are you always this much of a pain in the ass? Just tell me why they call you Spike. If I have to fight this hard to get any information out of you I may as well leave now.”

“I hung one summer with some biker types. They all had names, ridiculous mostly. Rip, Blackout, Mad Mike. Stupid wankers, fancied themselves tough. I picked Spike.” He shrugged.

“That's it. That's the reason?”

He stood up, hooked his thumbs in his waistband and said in an exaggerated tough guy voice “Hey, I'm Spike.”

“I'm not feeling it,” she admitted, drinking her coffee.

“I did spend the Summer with that bunch of wankers, girlfriend actually gave me the name.”

“Because you're so well endowed.” She roller her...and they were back to square one.

“No, because we ran into another bunch of wankers who said some unpleasant things to my lady, so I taught them some manners with a wrought iron fence post.”

“What happened to the bikers?”

“I killed them.”

Ms. Summers got quiet and sipped her coffee. Her fingers hovered over her keyboard but she didn't type.

“That's spelled k.i.l.l.e.d,” he said helpfully.

“Did you spike THEM?”

He nodded. “I right like the fence post method. Skewered them right in the gut, they lay there all screaming and squirming. Spike suits me. Remind folks what I am. Not William, bloody or otherwise. Don't call me that, and when you write your sodding paper, you better not refer to me as William, I WILL find you.”

Killed, no pizazz. I like skewered better.” Her fingers began to fly.

“The power of colorful language.” He gave her a nod of respect.

“So why did you bring the Slayer's body back to her Watcher?” The question seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Why wouldn't I?” He meant that. He didn't understand why this was such a point with all of them.

“Why would you?”

“She belongs to you all,  and Boy Wonder was hurt, he couldn't carry the body. I wasn't going to leave her there for the wolves to finish.” Spike was affronted that they considered what he did in discord with what he was.

“She was a Slayer, an enemy.”

“Rival.” His face was creased in consideration. “More a rival than an enemy.”

“The whole mission of a Slayer is to kill your kind.” Dear god, he was going to make this difficult, make her wrestle and argue for every tid-bit of information.

“An enemy is someone you hate. I didn't hate the Slayer.”

“Did you care about the Slayer?” She really had no idea which direction this was going in or if he was just going to lead her in circles.

“I didn't not care.”

“What does that even mean?”

“People, I don't care about them. I kill them, nothing personal, but I'd never go out of my way for one. That's me, not caring.”

“And the Slayer?”

“Wasn't like the rest. Rival, worthy opponent. Not something to ignore.”

“So you did care.”

“She was on my radar. Didn't wish her well, didn't wish her evil.”

“You wished her dead?”

“That would be me caring.”

“But you tried to kill her?”

“It's what I do. Kill Slayers. You CAN use that term. Slayer of Slayers. I quite like that.”

“You don't care about anyone.”

“You're getting it.”

“So you're a sociopath,” she concluded.

“Give the girl a kewpie!” He raised a hand in salute to her. Then he added in a thoughtful tone. “You don't leave your rival to get ravished by animals. It's one thing to take them out in a fair fight. There’s something right about that. If I wasn't the animal taking her out...The wolves didn't deserve her but you all did. Stuart took care of her and what not. If I'd have left her there, what would that make me?”

“So you did it for yourself? It was making at least a little sense.

“Well, yeah. She was dead, didn't much matter to her did it?” He was back to his dismissive tone.

“And that's all there was to it?”

“And I didn't want credit where credit wasn't due,” Spike went on. “I'm Slayer of Slayers, but I didn't kill her. Don't want it on my record if I didn't earn it. Didn't want you all thinking I did her that way when you found the remains....think I did that.”

“You're not an animal,” she summarized.

“Right,” he agreed, but clearly he thought that was only a partial answer. “What do they call you?” he asked.

“Grad student, Watcher wannabe, vampficianado,” Ms. Summers offered with a chuckle.

“No. I mean your NAME.” Was this woman really this much of an idiot?

“Oh, sorry, guess I didn't introduce myself. Buffy Summers.”

“Buffy? Better be a decent story behind THAT one.” He rolled his eyes.

“My parents were yuppies?” she shrugged.

“Don't look like you come from yuppie stock,” he said.

“No, really, I kinda did. My dad was a real estate banker.”

“Still, Buffy? Is that even a real name?”

“Feel free to call me Ms. Summers.” She didn't like the way he said Buffy. It sounded too much like an insult.

“No, just give me a minute. Let me work with it. Buffy!” he said in a mock authoritative voice. Then shook his head. “Buffy.” He tried a drawling lilt. “Won't do. Buffy!” It came out sharp, like a dog's bark.

“It's just Buffy.” She said it in a plain old, normal, boring tone.

“A name like that isn't just anything,” he disagreed. “I'll figure it, just need to talk some more.”

He was SOOOO not what she'd expected.

“So.” Back to the interview. “You didn't NOT care about Faith. Blah blah blah. Sociopath...yet still not an animal.”

“You know, you really can't care about humans, not in my line of work. I have to kill them. Caring would only muck that up. It's how your sort is with vampires. You kill us. You don't care about us. Can't. Wouldn't work.”

“I care,” Buffy said, in the same dull tone she'd used when she pronounced her name. She wasn't correcting him, she was making the realization for herself. She wasn't only interested in William the Bloody as a historical figure, as just another vampire. She should be, but she wasn't, and never really had been.

“More's the pity for you then.” He sighed. “Have you ever dusted a vampire?”

Buffy shook her head. “Probably shouldn't admit that,” she realized.

He gave a snort of laughter. “Oh right, because that might scare me off, if I knew you were here with a stake under your pillow, another in your purse and a third in a holster on your right leg.”

“They make me carry them. I never thought I could take you out.” It was the honest truth.

“Even if you were strong enough, you wouldn't. You care.”

“I'm pretty sure I could dust a vamp if it came to that.” She believed she could.

A vampire, but not this vampire. You're a very foolish girl to come out here all starry eyed. I could take you hunting,” he offered.

“Humans?”

“No, vampires. Let you dust a few. You should, you know. What do they teach Watchers these days anyway? How could you not have dusted vampires?” He was disappointed in the dumbing down that was clearly taking place.

“I'm still at the books only level.”

“Cept you're alone in an hotel room with me.”

“That's me, little go-getter.” She was making a lot of realizations about herself this morning.

“So it's a date then? You, me, stakes, cemetery,vampires. Don't wear your best clothes.”

“Why would you kill a vampire?” she was confused.

“Why wouldn't I?” The bitch was beyond stupid. “Competition. Same as any predator. Think I want to share the local blood supply? Have someone crowding my space? What, do you all think we're just one big happy bloodthirsty family?”

“No, I never actually thought about it,” she admitted.

“And I say again, what ARE they teaching you?”

“Apparently nothing useful,” she surmised.

“Stuart's not as stupid as you, but he's done his field work,” Spike allowed.

“You think Stuart is a good Watcher?” Something in her tone gave Spike the idea that Stuart was still under suspicion and that all the questions Ms. Summers was sending his way were not strictly for her own thesis.

“Yeah.” He meant it. “Had his hands full with her, didn't he?” Spike laughed at the thought of it. He knew Faith drove Stuart bonkers a lot of the time, but when it came to Slayer business she respected him and rightly so.

“She lasted 2 and ½ years.” Buffy allowed that it was something of an achievement. “And she did that, in spite of the fact that you were in town.” That was indeed a sticking point. That was the question to be answered.

Spike was rubbing his chin, looking off into nowhere. Buffy could see there was more to the story. Much more.

“You knew Faith.” She figured that was a good place to start.

Spike nodded, still gazing at nothing.

“Were you friends?”

Spike slowly shook his head, a hint of a smile on his lips and in his eyes. “Benemies, she called it one time.” He glanced over at Buffy. “You know the term?”

“Not really. I've heard frenemies, but I really don't get that either.”

“Benemies, enemies with benefits.” He chuckled “Daft term.”

“You were sleeping with the Slayer?”

“There you go with that term again. What's with you humans? Sleeping isn't really the point is it? I was fucking her.”

Buffy stopped typing. She was nearly certain he was telling the truth. She was fairly certain the truth would get Stuart in hot water. She was wildly curious to know more.

“Don't give me that look!” he told her.

Buffy didn't realize she had a look, at least not one other than confusion.

“Why?”

“Clearly you never saw the girl, she was nice looking, sexy as hell really, and strong--wild.” His admiration of her finer qualities was clear.

“But why was she f--...sleeping with you?”

“I would think that was obvious.” He gave Buffy a knowing wink.

“Did you two? I mean were there feelings?” She had no idea how much incredulity she wore on her face.

“No, wasn't like that. We shagged is all.”

“Sounds dangerous.” That had to be dangerous.

“Sort of had a truce,” he explained.

“I won't kill you as long as you fuck me?” she guessed. “I can imagine who made that proposition.”

“Wasn't like that! She gave as good as she got. Your girl was something of a nympho. I wasn't threatening her for sex if that's what you're thinking. Well, maybe that first time a little...but only a little. She didn't take much persuading.”

William the Bloody, Spike, Vampire. Sociopath and here she was alone in a hotel room with him. Now she'd just found out he'd been using the previous Slayer as a sex toy. Her thesis, should she live long enough to write and publish it, was going to make her famous—at least among Watchers.

“Hence, you being familiar with Stuart's lumpy couch.”

“And car, and kitchen table.”

“But you're telling me Stuart didn't know.”

“I did wonder, I mean he had to have noticed the sex stains in his bed.” Spike assumed Stuart suspected but was aiming for plausible deniability. Hey, if shagging the alpha vamp in the area was keeping her alive long enough to do her job and she wasn't complaining about it...

“Stains. So vampires DO ejaculate.” Buffy had wondered.

“Course we do.”

“Well, I didn't know, you guys are sterile. Do female vampires have periods?” This was a whole line of thinking she hadn't expected to get into with him.

“No they don't, and that's what you're taking out of this?” Honestly, he'd expected more of a reaction to the shagging the Slayer bit.”

“You said you weren't enemies, you were rivals, so wouldn't the term be benivals?” Buffy said.

“It's a stupid sodding term anyway, we were fuck buddies, write that down. I can spell it for you.”

“No, I got that. You had sex on Stuart's bed?”

“Told you the couch was lumpy and gravestones are fine for once in a while, but for a real proper shag--”

“How did Faith die?” Buffy asked, as if she believed the circumstances were related.

“Ask her Boy Wonder. I showed up late. The wolves were all around her.” His face changed, he was picturing it. Buffy watched emotions play over his face, or maybe not emotions, but the expressions he would have made during the fight. Did he feel things as he fought? Or was it beyond feeling, had he been merely reacting on instinct. He shagged Faith but hadn't cared about her. Had he thrown Xander into a tree to get him out of the way, to save him so Faith wouldn't worry about protecting him or simply, as he had said before, because no one should be torn apart by dogs?

“Why did you save Xander? Why not throw him to the dogs, maybe distract them from Faith.” Buffy had stopped typing, she was trying to figure this out, figure him out.

“Just what I did. Didn't think on it.” But something in Spike's face said otherwise, as if he wasn't sure why he'd done it either.

“You don't like Xander. You make fun of him. Call him Boy Wonder,” Buffy pointed out.

“I don't give a rats arse. Don't care or not care. He's part of the scenery, yeah? There, like a street lamp, or a tree. The name doesn't mean anything. I name things. I'll have a few good ones for you before this is over.”

“Stuart?”

“Just Watcher, Watcher man, your old man? Nothing brilliant.” Spike shrugged.

“Is Stuart just there as well?”

“More there than the boy. Stuart could have been an enemy if he'd bothered to take me on. He never bothered.”

“I wonder why that is,” Buffy said. She hadn't expected this to turn into a mystery.

“He has a lady friend, he's distracted. Why take a chance with me when things are just getting sweet for him? I didn't pick a fight, neither did he.”

“You don't think he ever planned for Faith to go after you specifically?”

“Oh she did, for a while. Watcher may have been behind it, or maybe she just wanted the glory. She paid me plenty of attention, even before we slept with each other,” he teased.

“But you're the Slayer of Slayers. He had to know you were gunning for her, that he had to protect her.”

“Maybe it was a brilliant scheme. Keep the Slayer alive by having her shag the enemy. If you can't beat em, fuck em.”

“Were you gunning for Faith?”

“Specifically? No.”

“She was a Slayer, that's what you do.”

“Yeah, but wasn't gunning for her. Wanted to feel her out a bit and figured that when I cared to, I could take her out.”

“You didn't care to?”

“I'm moody. Some days I did, some days I just didn't care. We had our battles. Several of them, close. It could have gone either way.”

“But you called a truce.”

“Wasn't like that. Never sat down at the bargaining table if that's what you're thinking. We liked fighting.” He shrugged. “Turns out we had other things in common as well.”

“But why didn't you just kill her? You say you didn't care; she could have been your #3.”

“We don't know that. Can't know that until it's happened. You ever been in a fight? I mean for real?”

Buffy shook her head.

“Then you can't know. It's a live thing. Twisting and turning. It's not over until it's over, no matter how it looks from the cheap seats. We didn't kill each other so there's no way of saying who would have won if we kept at it.”

“You never had her in a position she couldn't have escaped from?”

“If I did, we wouldn't be here talking. There were times if I'd made a different decision, we wouldn't be here talking, either I'd be dust, or I'd have gone on my merry way.”

“But you did let her live. You could have killed her.”

“Point for point? Yeah, I'd say I had more near wins on my side but we always called the game.”

“Why?”

“Why's a man not twist a pretty girl's neck? Maybe he has something else on his mind.”

“Buy you're not a man.”

“Guess I suffer from more than bloodlust.”

“Why didn’t she call the game?”

“Pity she's not here to answer.”

“But you are, and I think you know.”

“She was lonely.”

Buffy had expected more dodging and sidestepping from him, she hadn't expected him to blurt out the answer. An answer that she doubted she would have gotten if Faith was here to ask. An answer no Slayer would ever give as a reason not to kill a vampire.

“She had Stuart.”

“She was an assignment to him. She knew that.”

“Stuart cared about her.” That had been obvious to Buffy.

“Doesn't matter. When you know that's why they're with you that it's their job to protect you the same time they're putting your life in danger. It's hard to cozy up to that.”

“Didn’t she have friends.”

“You met Boy Wonder. That's the caliber of the people she had around her. Well meaning and all...”

“I know she didn't have family.”

“No? I wondered,” Spike said with little concern or interest, just letting the piece fall easily into place.

“But she had to have people, friends, other than Xander.”

“Who was more puppy than friend. The sort of puppy that tries to hump your leg,” Spike added.

“So you and Faith were friends.”

“I already told you, we were fuck buddies. She wanted cock, not a confidant. You ever been really fucked? Hard I mean, like there's no tomorrow, and all that matters is getting it harder and faster than you've already gotten it. Have you ever done it with someone you can sink your teeth into deep as you want? No consequences?”

Buffy looked at him, not disgusted, but not knowing how to wrap her mind around what he was saying. Yes, she'd had sex, sex that felt pretty hard and mind blowing to her. 

“I think so.”

“I doubt it.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, please, did he really think he could gauge that? Like he could just look at her and know.

“You hesitated. If you'd had it, you would know,” he explained himself.

“I just wasn't sure what you meant at first.”

“It’s what I mean. You would have known. Just would have. Maybe it takes being that lonely to seek that kind of connection. Connection that's the opposite of connection.”

“Like you not caring about people?” She didn't understand yet, but she knew that somehow these things fit together.

“You have to not care, not want it, to get it. Need it, but not want it.”

“Like medicine? she offered, knowing that was the farthest thing that it was like.

“Vampires don't matter. Being with me didn't matter. Not to a Slayer. She couldn't hurt me. Literally. And if she did, it didn't matter.”

“That sounds like the loneliest thing of all. How could that help; being connected to nothing?.”

He shrugged. “Don't ask me. Vampire here. I don't care. She shagged me because I didn't matter, couldn't matter. I shagged her because--”

“You could?” Buffy assumed.

“Yeah, and she was right hot. She wanted it. That's a turn on but it wasn't a win. I didn't like it better because she was the Slayer. That bit was inconvenient.”

“So it wasn't some macho thing? Look at me, I shagged a Slayer!”

“No.”

“I don't believe you.” This vampire had boasted and bragged about killing Slayers, had made a name for himself doing it. How could this not be something to crow about?

“I’m supposed to kill Slayers. Fucking them's a bit of a cop out. It’s a way of admitting you couldn't kill them. If you could you'd have done it. I should have done it, snapped her neck. I decided to do something else. Not something a vampire brags about.”

“Why are you telling me? I'm writing this down, I'm going to publish it. You want the world to know that William, Spike, the Slayer of Slayers failed? Went soft? Decided to be benemies?”

“Don't suppose I could ask you to leave out that bit?”

“No.”

“I could kill you or your boyfriend. You have a boyfriend? Because if you do I'll kill him if you don't write what I like.” Spike sounded as if he was pondering it lightly in his head.

“No, no boyfriend,” she lied, just in case he did decide to target people she loved.

“Liar, who you been having all that rough sex with?” he countered. “Either you have a boyfriend or a kinky sex robot.”

“Or a vampire.”

“Or...a vampire.” He gave her a smile and nod of respect. She was good, quick--fiesty. In a different manner than Faith but then Faith wasn't allowed to question herself. It came with the job. Get it done.

Faith hadn't even questioned her arrangement with Spike. She felt she had it coming to her. She didn't ask why or how. Fangs or fuck? Was that even a question? Not really.

“I'm tired,” Spike announced.

“Vampires need sleep?” Buffy asked.

“Not really, doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. Nice way to pass time till Sundown. Shut the brain down, forget I'm hungry.” He looked her up and down. “I don't believe you got much sleep last night; care to join me?” He patted the bed beside him.

Buffy was tired, but she just had coffee and had so many thoughts swirling through her mind that napping wasn't an option.

“Don't be afraid, I said sleep. If I meant something else I'd have bloody well said so.”

“That's not it. I’m just keyed up and I need to meet with Stuart. He has some books I want to go through.” She ran a hand through her hair. Yesterday she'd been enthusiastic about talking with Stu, asking about Faith and Spike, and looking at documents she'd only heard tell of. Now she doubted the documents were going to tell her anything that remotely resembled this vampire she'd been talking with, the way a book on cat anatomy can't convey what it's like to have a purring cat sitting on your chest.

She did wonder about Stuart. What did he know? What his impressions of Faith were. Spike was no doubt telling the truth, but it was his truth, and he couldn't really speak about human emotions. He might be completely mistaken about Faith's feelings and motivations. He might have assumed she didn't care, simply because he was incapable of caring himself.

...................................

 

“I'm not here to spy on you.” Buffy realized that opening a discussion that way was as likely to lead to Stuart to conclude that she was there to spy as that she wasn't.

The official investigation was over. Buffy was here to collect information for her research. That was the story, but the council had vetted Buffy to collect information on Stuart and Faith and to pass on any information that might be of interest. It wasn't the main reason she was there, but it had been pressed upon her how grateful the Council would be should she bring any information to them, and that her cooperation would reflect just how much she cared for and was committed to the mission of the Council itself.

Buffy had made a taciturn agreement to cooperate, and she assumed that Stuart assumed that such an agreement had been made. Stuart was more familiar with the Council and its ways than Buffy, so he had to expect as much. Buffy wanted it cleared up. Yes, she had been asked to keep her eyes open, but getting Stuart into trouble was not why she was here, and the questions she was coming to him with were related solely to her project.

“They want me to collect information, just in case something was overlooked but that's not why I'm interested. I don't think you did anything wrong. I don't know all the details but it looks cut and dried. My interest is in William, and anything you know about him might help.”

Stuart looked her over. “You've met him?” Stu knew that Xander had taken Buffy out the night before.

Buffy nodded.

“Might help if you don't refer to him as William,” was Stuart's first suggestion.

“What did you call him? And Faith?”

“I never actually met Spike. You can hardly call it an introduction, standing over a body.” Stuart stopped to take a long breath. “Have you seen the photos?”

“I don't need to. I'm not here for that.”

“Just thought you might have. After all, he was there.”

Buffy couldn't see any benefit from it, and she knew the photos must be beyond horrible.

“I'm afraid I won't be able to help you much Ms. Summers. What I actually know of Spike is little more than what is in the books. I submitted my latest update 4 months ago. It's not been officially published, but you can read it in the Council files.”

“That's records of his whereabouts, stats on his kill, those kinds of things.” Buffy wasn't looking for that information. She wanted to know about him.

“I don't have anything else to offer you.” Or he wasn't willing to offer her any more.

“Did you know about their relationship?” He would either have to deny it or talk. She didn't like putting him in this position, he was already hurting from grief, and the possible loss of his position. If he denied it, she would tell him Spike had already confirmed it. If he denied knowing about it, that wouldn't reflect well on him as a Watcher.

“Know of it? Yes. Details? No,” Stuart said, answering in a tone that he likely had used when being investigated by the Council itself. Facts, just facts, words spoken without emotion.

Buffy needed Stuart to understand she was not trying to corner him, not blaming him for the relationship or for not stopping it.

“This is off the books, I promise.”

“Off the books until you publish your thesis,” Stuart barked. “Then what? You publish your tell-all interview with a vampire and you think there won't be blowback on the rest of us? You'll get your accolades at our expense. Why should I be party to that? Do you think someone put their neck out for me when I was in your place?”

“How long did you know?” Buffy couldn't answer his concerns. Not yet. He had a point.

“A few days. I was looking into it, and then it didn't matter. Maybe the Council thinks it does.”

“It might,” Buffy allowed, now speaking as a novitiate to the Council. “Any information adds to the body of knowledge. What we can't see the importance of today may save lives tomorrow, or explain things from the past. That's how it works. Stuart. Information you had, helped you as a Watcher, helped Faith. I'm sure that information was gathered at a terrible cost. It always will be in our field but we have to collect it. We don't know if it's important until someone needs it and it isn't there.” She felt like a voicebox for the Council right now, but she believed in what she said and in the work they did. She had to remind herself of this, more now that she'd actually met William than before. Her thesis was not an excuse to indulge her fangirl interest in William the Bloody. It was to add to the body of knowledge.

Stuart nodded. “Yes. It's why we Watch and report. It's why we're held accountable. There are some stories whose time hasn't arrived. Do you understand what I'm saying? I want you to understand because in a few years you will be in a position very different than the one you are in now. What we're speaking of will no longer be hypothetical.”

“I'm not sure I follow.”

“You've heard that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? That can be very true. Information, out of context can be misinterpreted. Telling a story before you know the ending, sometimes before you have read the sequel, can do more damage than waiting for the right moment.”

Buffy was trying to follow.

“Ms. Summers. Yes, obviously, I am concerned for my job and my reputation. We both know that. But I'm concerned as well, that the information you are seeking isn't ready to be shared. What you see today will only be the negative; the picture hasn't had time to develop. Telling the story as it sits today, or as you think it sits, won't be telling the true story.

"It's not only myself I'm protecting. There are other Watchers, other Slayers that will be affected. You may be one of those Watchers. One day it could be your Slayer.”

“I know that. It's part of why I want to know, to understand. I'm not here as judge and jury--”

“It's the only way you CAN be here. You've never been a Watcher, or a Slayer or a Watcher of Watchers.”

“I've never killed a vampire,” she said. That pretty much summed it up.

“No, you haven't. So you have no idea. What do you want me to say? That I looked forward to one day being the Father in Law of one of history's most colorful demons?” He laughed. “The world we live in. What we deal with every day. Every minute of every day, defies explanation.

“Everyone's been asking the same question, why would a Slayer involve herself with a vampire?”

“Why wouldn't she.” Buffy finished for him.

“Come again?” Stuart asked.

“It's what William said when I asked him why. His answers were always, “Why not?”

Stuart’s tone was angry.“A Slayer is at war. She has one job. One terrible, awful job and only a few fast years to do it. At some point, finesse goes out the window. If you'd seen her body, you would know why--and why not.”

“How long did you know?” Buffy backtracked and started again.

“Know for certain? 4 or 5 months. Suspect? 9 months...a year. She had fewer battle scars, more confidence. She glowed.”

“You mean she was in love?”

Stuart burst into laughter. “In love? You didn't know our Faith. Not sure she understood love. She glowed when she won. When she trained hard and mastered a skill that made her better at her mission. She glowed whenever she found something that helped all of this make sense. For many people, that something IS love. For her it was power. Not power to control others, but power to hold herself. Power to stay accountable to herself. She didn't want to answer to anyone, ever. She wanted not to have to.”

“So you think it helped her, to be involved with William?”

Stuart sighed, frustrated with having to find the words to explain to Buffy, what he expected she simply couldn't understand. “Ms. Summers, you can take a length of wood and you can burn it for heat or use it to build something, or to break someone's head open. Same piece of wood. It is what you make of it. You can even decide to build a house, then later choose to burn it down.”

Buffy didn't really understand, but she knew she needed to. Spike said it was important that nothing mattered. Stuart was dancing to a similar tune. The relationship could have meant anything, or nothing, or its impact could have varied from day to day.

The story wasn't finished, the photo not developed. It was unclear if the house was going to burn down.

“You didn't see it as a threat, their relationship?” She was still working from her script. Eager cub reporter, forming an image from loosely related facts.

“Of course I worried. I worried about everything. I couldn't have stopped her. Couldn't have stopped him, not even if I'd tried. A Watcher learns to pick their battles. Sometimes it's not clear who or what the enemy is. I think Faith was safer with Spike than she ever could have been with anyone. She wasn't afraid to take him on. Never had to hold punches or ignore her instincts the way people do in relationships. She never needed to protect him. It's loving someone and trying to protect them that makes us vulnerable.

Had Xander not been with her that night. If she had been with Spike, Faith would likely still be alive, but no one will ever say she shouldn't have been with Xander, or shouldn't have been patrolling.”

“But they wouldn't hesitate to say she shouldn't have been with Spike,” Buffy supplied.

“Because that's easy,” Stuart said. “And people like easy. They like reasons and alibis and promises that if they do things a certain way nothing bad will ever happen to them.” He crooked an eyebrow and said to her. “For someone who's not investigating me you ask a lot of pointed questions.”

“I do. But I really am asking them because I want to understand him. I won't go running to the council with anything you said. I don't even understand what most of it means.”

“You should just ask him. I've been led to believe he's rather eloquent,” Stuart said gently.

“That's not a word I would have chosen, but yes, he does like to talk,” Buffy reported.

“Do you want facts Ms. Summers, a list of dates and times? I have them. I have my own journals, the one's I don't turn into Council. I can give you the exact date I had my first suspicion. You can see if they coincide with Spike's.” He wasn't making fun of her as much as he was trying to drive home that the things she was asking wouldn't get her the answers she wanted.

“You've spoken with him, yet you continue to refer to him as William,” Stuart pointed out. “Part of your problem is right there. You have your own notion of who he is. I expect you have the majority of your dissertation written, if only in your head.

"You're researching William the Bloody and ignoring that he doesn't exist anymore. Vampires may not die, Ms. Summers but they change. If you want to do your studies on William the Bloody you didn't need to come out here. That information is already in the books. That character is dead and gone. Your refusing to use the name Spike won't change that.

"Everything you learn in Watcher training is of vital importance and it's just as important to be willing to forget it all when you get your first assignment,” Stuart advised.

“I want to work with you,” Buffy heard herself saying. “I want to stay here and work with you and learn from you.”

“It's not time for your apprenticeship.”

“Everything you say is right. I want to be able to see that. How can I ever be a Watcher if I never learn to see?” Buffy didn't mistake her confusion for profundity.

“You will in time. The training schedule is a process. There are no shortcuts. You learn, then you unlearn, then you put it back together into something that makes sense. You will do it the same as everyone else. It does you no harm to realize that there are things you can't see. But that doesn't mean you're ready to see them,” Stuart told her.

“Spike said you were good,” Buffy remembered out loud. “He respects you.”

It did bring a hint of a smile to Stuart's face.

“He calls the Council a lot of bloody wankers, but he thought you were a good Watcher.”

“I regret that even with my eyes wide open, I cannot bring myself to declare any vampire good.” Stuart acknowledged his limitations.

“I guess I thought a good Watcher was one who goes by the books,” Buffy admitted her own short sightedness.

“Ms. Summers, a good Watcher is one who realizes that the books have not all been written, and that the one they are writing now is the very one they need.”

“Please, call me Buffy.”

“Your questions are good ones, Buffy. But the best questions are the ones with no easy answers.”

“Spike offered to take me vampire hunting,” she told Stuart. “Do you think I should go?”

“I have no earthly idea, but I know what I would do,” Stuart said.

“Go?”

“Good god no, he'd likely feed me to the first demon that came along, but then I'm not a comely young woman.”

….................................

End Notes:

And so the plot thickens...Question. is the single spacing format in this working out, or do you prefer to read it double spaced? 

Lesson the Third: Vampire Hunting by Cryptwarmer
Author's Notes:

Thanks to Telsa who's faster than the Easter Bunny!

  

Lesson the third: Vampire Hunting

 

Buffy decided she would go. She returned to her hotel room at dinner time, and in spite of it being daylight, Spike was gone. She checked under the bed and in the shower and closet, no sign of him, no note.

She wondered if he would return for her, or if she should meet him in the cemetery where she and Xander had encountered him the night before. She decided to stay and wait for him. He knew where she was; he was a moving target on a field she was not familiar with.

By 11 PM, he had not arrived. Exhausted from lack of sleep the night before, Buffy put on her pajamas and went to bed.

She awoke some few hours later when she heard knocking right beside her head. Her arm shot out to feel if he was beside her in the bed. He was not, he was looming over her, a dark shadow.

“Am I too late?” he asked, a chuckle in his tone.

“I expected you at Sundown,” she admitted.

“Thought you could use a little shut-eye, and besides, the most interesting nasties don't show up until true dark.”

She scanned vocabulary in her head...true dark...true dark, was that a thing? A certain time?

“Buffy,” he called her out of her head.

She closed her eyes, took a breath and got her bearings. She was in a hotel bed, wearing her sushi pajamas, 900 miles from home, with a vampire hovering over her.

Spike had expected her to be dressed and ready, asleep, yes, but still dressed and ready. It seemed now like she hadn’t expected him to return. She’d been solidly out, deep in sleep.

“Maybe another night yeah?” he was close enough that she could feel the breath of his words on her face.

“No, I don't want to miss it and I can't stay much longer. Even a cheap motel isn't cheap on my budget.” She needed to get out of bed and dress. Would she need a flashlight? She needed coffee and recalled there was a convenience store across the street.

“Up it is then. The night air will bring you round.”He sounded almost chipper.

“Have you been drinking?” she guessed.

“In a manner of speaking.”

Oh god. Oh god. She really didn't want to know. What was she doing? Why wasn’t she studying accounting like her father had suggested? Why wasn't she in bed with her boyfriend who drank beer and not people?

William the Bloody’s world wasn't supposed to be real. It was something she studied. It was what she read about in books before she went to sleep at night, not what she got out of bed to interact with. He was essentially waking her up so she could enter a nightmare.

She still wasn't moving.

“We can stay in if you prefer.” Spike's voice was farther away now. So he probably wasn't making a lewd suggestion. Surely if he was he'd be beside her on the bed. 

“No, let's go.” Buffy began to push up to a sitting position.

“Don't think you should. You're not up to it.”

“I'll be fine. I pull all-nighters all the time. I stay up studying for hours. I just need coffee,” she assured him.

Suddenly his hand was on her shoulder, pushing her down. “Not tonight.” It didn't feel like a hand and arm with human muscles; it felt like a hydraulic press with untold power behind it. Like there was no point in pushing back.

She hadn't  even realized he was close enough to touch her.

“You can't sense me within 12 inches of you. I’m not taking you out there to get yourself killed.”

“I thought you were going to protect me.”

“That's what I'm doing.”

“Oh.”

In an instant, he was beside her on the bed. “What's say I get to ask you some questions?”

“I thought the point was to let me sleep.”

“Just a little bedtime game to put your mind at ease.”

“Because my mind will feel so at ease laying in the dark with a vampire.”

“I've already eaten; you've got nothing to worry about.”

She was overcome by a wave of feelings. Buffy felt trapped in her head. There was a reaction in there, possibly several, all banging around unable to find their way out. Her brain could process vampire, they were the subject of her studies. She could list facts and figures. Her brain could not process that a few inches away from her was a creature whom had killed and drank the blood of another human being within the last few hours.

She knew it as a fact, but she didn’t feel it as a reality, yet it was real. He was real. If it was real why was she just laying here? Why was she doing nothing to address this killer that was in her room? She should pull out a stake, or call the police, or call Stuart.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Spike asked.

“What?” Did he really expect her to lay here and answer questions?

“You said your father was a banker.  You never mentioned your mother. Do you have siblings?”

Buffy’s brain tried to knit together all she knew of him, from books and from what she’d learned in their short time together. The day before he’d asked about her boyfriend, now siblings; he was making a list of people in her family to go after.

“No, no siblings, no family at all really. My father is dead too,” she said hurriedly.

“What made you want to be a Watcher?” Spike ignored her babbling.

“The medieval history program was full.” She would answer his questions as simply as she could and try to figure out where he was going with this.

“So this is the next best thing?” From his tone, it was clear that he found that absurd.

“I went to a lecture given by a professor in the program I wanted to get into. I'd read some of his books.  I loved his books, but his lecture was horrible. every other word was um. Anyway, during his program, he mentioned vampires, not as mythology but as if they were real. He even mentioned the Watcher's Council.”

“So you looked us up?”

“It wasn't exactly that easy. I talked to one of his grad students and I asked for the list of books that he referenced during the lecture. I looked up all of them but there was one I couldn't find. Not anywhere. Somehow, that's when I knew it was all real. I knew the book was out there and that I had to find it.”

“How did you find it?”

“It finally occurred to me that to reference the book, the professor probably had a copy of it so I made an appointment to see him. While I was waiting, I browsed around his office.”

“And there it was.”

“There it was. He let me see it. Just like that, no secret or anything.”

“There IS a secret handshake,” Spike said.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Maybe he let you pass because you were pretty.”

“I'm pretty?” she squeaked, wondering if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Stuart had suggested that it might keep her safe but it seemed just as likely that it might make her appear more appetizing.

Spike could feel her temperature rise. “So, he let you see the book...”

“He did, and I told him I was interested in vampire mythology and he said, why bother with the mythology when I could just study vampires themselves.”

“Smart sort of fellow.”

“I spent a couple of afternoons looking over his books then I transferred schools and went into a history program with Beverly Leeds.”

“Name means nothing to me.”

“She translated texts on vampires from the Old French,” Buffy told him.

“Sounds bloody boring. I’ve always hated translating. I prefer reading texts in their original language. Translations  are nearly always god awful.”

“How many languages do you know?”

“Seven more or less. Five down pat. Can't speak a lick of Greek but I can read it.”

“I know English, and very shaky French.”

“So you're stuck with translations.”

“Pretty much.”

“Except now.”

“Huh?”

“Now. Here. With me. You're not reading history, you’re writing it.”

“In a cheap motel wearing my sushi pajamas.”

 Buffy could hear the leather of his coat creak as he shrugged.

“Life is where you find it.”

“So I've been told several times in the past 24 hours.” That seemed to be the gist of what Stuart had been telling her.

“Ok, easy one.”

She felt Spike roll to face her on the bed.

“What's your favorite--”

She waited, he was hesitating.

“My favorite what?”

“Can't decide if I want to ask you what your favorite book is, or…” He ran a finger down over her belly.

Even with the fabric of her pajamas and the blanket between them, she shuddered at his touch.

“Randall's Compendium of Vampires and the Undead,” she answered swallowing down a lump of fear. “Why can't you just ask what my favorite pizza topping is?”

“I don't care about pizza.” Why was this woman so daft?

“I don't think this is helping me fall back to sleep.” He was no longer touching her, but she wasn’t sure where his hand was. It could be hovering right over her.

“You want to sleep?”

“That was the idea.”

“I can put you to sleep.”

“Do I want to know?”

She felt a cool pressure on her neck, then blackness.

…...............................

 

Spike was gone when she woke up. It was after 10 AM and Buffy felt well rested. After a minute or two, she remembered the last things they said and that'd he'd done something to her to make her sleep. She didn't know what and she wasn't sure if she wanted to, but she felt fine, not drugged or damaged.

There was an indentation in the pillow beside her where he had lain while they were talking. There were a few tiny flecks of dry blood on the pillowcase, a few more on the sheet below. Buffy felt her face and neck. She wasn’t injured. The blood wasn't hers.

..........................

 

“How'd you explain this trip to your boyfriend?” Spike asked her that evening when he came to pick her up.

“I don't have a boyfriend.”

“He must know you study vampires. Does he know why you're out here?”

“There is no boyfriend.”

“If you were my bint, I wouldn't have it, chasing after things that go bump in the night.”

“I definitely would NOT have a boyfriend who tells me what I can and can’t study and who I can bump in the night with,” Buffy said in a huff.

“You're not a very good liar. Does he study vampires too?”

“There IS NO HE.”

“Wouldn't keep a bint around who lied about being with me either,” Spike muttered.

“I’d prefer to keep my private life private,” Buffy explained.

“While you're poking about into my history.” He gave her a pointed look.

“What did you do to me last night?”

“Besides making you uncomfortable by asking you certain questions?”

“How did you put me to sleep?”

“I can do it again.” He grinned.

“No, just tell me.” Buffy stepped away.

“It's just a thing. I pressed on a nerve.”

“It's a vampire thing?” she guessed.

“Anyone can do it if they know where and are strong. I could teach you but your hands are--” He reached for one.

Buffy snatched her hand back before he took it.

“Sorry love. Forgot you're still new at this. Not like in the books, eh?”

“Sorry, I don't...” Buffy was embarrassed. She did want to touch him, or at least a vampire, but she was still too skittish. She needed to pull herself together. How was she going to do meaningful research? How was she going to do any of this if everything scared her out of her wits? It’s just that he was so not like vampires on the pages of a book.

Spike frowned at her. “Not sure if this is going to work.”

“What?”

“You can't kill a vampire if you can't touch one.” He pointed out the obvious.

“Couldn't I just watch you?” she said, only half-jokingly.

“Thought the point was you learn to do it yourself.”

“I can learn by watching you first.” She thought that was a very sound plan.

Spike put out his hands, palms up and tipped his head towards her. Buffy reached out slowly. She swallowed down a lump of consternation and touched her fingertips to his. His skin was cool and firm. She could feel the ridges of his fingerprints. She slid her hands up and felt the creases in his palms.

He grasped her hand. He was gentle, but she could sense the strength just under the surface, muscles that could crush, a grip that could close with the power and persistence of a vise.

“I wouldn't want to fight you,” she said shakily.

“You couldn't,” he stated the obvious. He turned her hands over and looked at them.

“I like lacquer on a woman's nails,” he said.

Buffy wasn't wearing any, but Spike was.

“Why?”

Spike shrugged. “Damned if know.” He gave a little chuckle. “Gonna put that in your paper? Manicure preferences among vampires.”

Buffy smiled. She was still in question mode, using her script, still filing away information. They stood there; Spike looking into her eyes. Buffy's smile grew a bit less genuine. His grip on her hands was still firm, the pressure precisely the amount needing to hold her fast without crushing or hurting her fingers. Buffy tried to move her hand away, almost the moment she thought of it the tiny muscles in his hand came alive, increasing pressure in exactly the increment needed to prevent her pulling away. As soon as her hand relaxed so did his.

His eyes, the uncanny coordination of his muscles, and slow, even breathing were hypnotic. He was a predator. She was prey, an easy kill.

“It's been awhile since I held hands with a pretty girl.” He wore a cat that ate the canary smile on his face.

“We should go,” Buffy suggested, trying to look away but finding herself unable to, afraid of what he’d do if she wasn’t watching. That was laughable; he could do what he pleased whether she was watching or not.

“No harm in us taking our time. The vampires will still be there.”

Look away Buffy, look away. He's doing that thing: the thrall. She shifted her eyes and the pressure of his hands increased, holding her there, drawing her eyes back to his, maintaining command.

Spike's eyes flickered to the bed then back.

Buffy's heart raced. Proper shag, boyfriend, hand holding, pretty girl, he wasn't letting go.

Was she going to be adding a chapter to her paper: Raping practices of Vampires?

He could put her to sleep, hold her fast, be in her bed without her even knowing it. He could even capture her eyes so she couldn't look away.

Was he waiting to cut a deal with her the way he had with Faith? He'd tell her what she wanted to know as long as she slept with him?

What happened to the not caring? Why was he doing this? She wasn't a Slayer, she was barely a snack. The Council sent 15-year-old girls to fight things just like him. It was unthinkable. It was insanity.

She wondered if he was getting off on this or was it just something he did, part of his script.

“I can only afford to stay a few more nights. I need to make the most of my time. Can we go?” She may as well cut to the chase. So far he’d proved that he was reasonable. If he was going to do something to her, then he should just do it.

“Yeah, was just having a bit of fun with you. You ask a lot of questions but some things you'll never know until you feel them.” He released her hands.

“There are some things I don't want to know.” She rubbed her palms on the thighs of her jeans as if she could scrub away the sensation of being trapped and helpless.

What Buffy wanted was to write her paper about him. She didn't want to be toyed with or raped or eaten. How could the Council send girls out to fight these monsters? It was one thing to slaughter demons; super strength made that doable, but what powers did Slayers have to address this? Their only hope had to be to kill vampires fast before they had a hold on you before they'd wormed their way into your mind before they looked into your eyes and took delight in your ignorance.

Spike was talking about the hunt as easy as you please. “Could do it one of a few ways, could set you out as bait, attract a bugger or two then I jump in and save you. Or we could jump a nest. Probably the safest is to look for rising fledglings, easy pickings unless their sire is waiting for them.”

Buffy understood most of he was saying, even though he was speaking quickly. Some of the terminology was different than that used in Council publications, but she knew the gist of it.

“I'd rather fledglings since I really don't know what I'm dealing with.” She freely admitted that now. None of this was anything like her book learning.

“It’s like clubbing baby seals.”

Did she detect scorn in his voice? Was it aimed at her? Vamps were strong, even new ones. Baby seals didn't go around ripping throats out.

“That's me, Slayer of the cute and helpless.” Somehow she doubted a joke was going to lighten the mood.

Spike gave her a look.

“What was that for?”

No comment. “You've got your stakes?”

“Should I be carrying a cross and holy water?” She wasn't sure if she was joking or not. Was that just mythology too, or were vampires really harmed by crosses and holy water?

“Let's keep it simple.”

She was certain she detected scorn in his tone now.

“I AM here to learn,” she grumbled. She was doing her best, asking questions, willing to be corrected. “ So, sorry Mr. Vampire if--”

“Will you please shut up? You’ll learn more when you're quiet. Even hungry vampires are turned off by a bint bitching. Sends them running in the opposite direction. If you need to make noise pant or scream or something.”

Don't take it personally, she reminded herself, tucking away the hint about vampires avoiding bitchy women. Who knew, it might save her life one day. She shouldn’t expect manners, Spike wasn’t a man; he was a vampire, not big with the manners. He's your study subject, not prospective date. Just file away information. This is field work.

She decided to look at it like deer hunting. People didn't talk while they were deer hunting. She didn’t know if people kept quiet when they were clubbing baby seals.

“Wait, do I have my room key?” She felt in her pockets. She was wearing a LOT of pockets. She'd gone out and purchased cargo pants for tonight. Vampire hunting was definitely not a purse carrying event. Spike told her wearing a backpack would get her killed, so she opted for pockets, lots of pockets, so many she had no idea where anything was.

“Don't worry love, I'll get you back in. Can we go?”

She reminded herself to act casual, as if they were just two people, out for a stroll, not a vampire and grad student.

“Do you ever have trouble passing as a human.” She returned to the comforting structure of her script.

“What do you think?”

She had eyes. Was she incapable of coming to her own conclusion? “Does anything about this scream creature of the night to you?” He held his arms out and invited her to look him over.

“Pretty much everything,” she noticed: black coat, pants, T-shirt, boots, and the hair. Peroxide blonde wasn't a strong enough term for the shocking whiteness of his hair.

“Yeah, well, I only go out at night,” he allowed. “So that bit's not really a factor.”

“And so I ask again, do you ever have trouble passing?”

“I was human once,” he reminded her.

“That was a long time ago,” she reminded him.

“I keep in practice, so I don't forget.”

The walked a few more paces and he stopped and looked at her. “Key to being a successful vampire is to not too get cocky, I mean at first. Fledglings tend to get juiced up when they first turn. You rise with all this strength and hunger. Feels so good you just want to explode with it.” He began walking again. “That's what gives you away: not controlling it.”

“You are good at controlling it.” No doubt there; he was the pro of control.

“Wasn't always. I was lucky to make it past my first few decades really. No one had more lust for the kill than me I'll wager. Damn lucky my family, vampire family, kept me alive. But I learned. Just like you, gotta be willing to learn. Thinking you know too much is what gets you killed. Well, that and pointy bits of wood.” He winked.

“And Slayers,” Buffy added.

“Not yet,” he gave a self-satisfied shrug.

“Why did you go after them, other than the obvious, they kill your kind.”

“Challenge, glory. Why hunt tigers? Bigger trophy. Bragging rights. I enjoy a good scrape.”

“So it’s not like you have a death wish?” she said suggestively. It was a pet theory of hers. William the Bloody got bored with his unlife, things had become too easy and predictable. He’d gotten too good at it. Maybe immortality wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and he subconsciously wanted a way out.

“What I have is a life wish; a good fight makes me feel alive.” It was one of the few things that did. Just about any intense experience helped him forget his undead state, but experiences with unpredictability built in did it best. Fighting a Slayer was about the most unpredictable thing he’d experienced in his decades as a vampire. When he was a living man, his most unpredictable experience had been falling in love. Now his heart didn’t beat and his mind was far too sharp to allow itself to be made a fool of that particular way.

............................

Lesson the Fourth: View To A Kill by Cryptwarmer
Author's Notes:

Thanks, Miss T for making this happen so fast.

Lesson the fourth: View to a Kill

 

Buffy felt part James Bond, part Nancy Drew, and a whole lot of clueless. Sitting in the cemetery with Xander had had a completely different vibe to it. That had been like waiting at the rear stage door for a glimpse of a rock star, this was like knowing she was going to completely humiliate herself in front of said rock star.

"Should I be carrying my stake?" she checked.

"Have one handy."

"You don't," she noticed.

"I prefer to use my hands."

"But you can't beat a vampire to death--"

"You can take their heads off, works rather nicely."

She wasn't sure if he was bragging or not. Vamps were strong but even for another vamp, taking their heads off couldn't be easy. Then she realized that she was contemplating the likelihood that the man standing next to her could actually rip something's head off. Maybe that was why his nail polish was chipped. Decapitation must be murder on a manicure.

She decided he was bragging, keeping the little lady in her place.

"Slayers can sense vampires," Spike said.

"Yeah, I can't do that, but I hear the Council is working on a thingie, an electric sensor of some kind, you know, since heat sensors don't pick you guys up. Can you sense other vampires?" That would be good information for her research.

"I can smell them."

"You mean they smell dead?"

"I mean they smell like vampires. You know every species has its own smell. Dogs. Fish. Horses. Vampires." He looked her up and down, "Women."

"So the vampires will all know I'm coming?" Buffy gathered.

"Didn't think a girl like you would do that on a first date." Spike didn't look at her, nor did his walk miss a beat, "but once we're done here..."

She knew better than to respond. She had to save her resources for more important things than getting indignant or letting him get under her skin. She shoved a stake into her front thigh pocket. She had to do a double step occasionally to keep up with him, even though he wasn't walking quickly.

He slowed, turned his head and frowned. His jaw twisted in consideration, then he began walking again.

"Care to clue me in?" she said in a stage whisper.

"No."

She hadn't expected that. It unnerved her. He tended to be candid or at least gave that impression. Him choosing to keep something to himself worried her. "Was it vamps?"

"No." There was no expression in his tone and little more on his face.

"Do you know where we're going?"

He cut her a glare.

"What? I'm just--"

"Don't suppose your banker daddy ever took you hunting."

"No, but once my cousin and I made a trap for a squirrel with a shoe box, a stick, and some string. We used peanut butter for bait."

"I once caught a bird that way when I was a boy."

His admission surprised her. She had expected him to say something cutting to her. In fact, that was why she said it, to lighten the mood. The last thing she expected was for him to act all human on her.

"I didn't think that would work," she admitted.

"Neither did I. It didn't work the first 30 times or so." He shrugged and gave a boyish grin at the memory.

"So, what did you do?"

"That's the thing innit? You never really think you're going to catch one, and when you do..."

She waited for him to say something horrible, about how he squeezed the bird till its eyes popped or twisted its little neck.

"I didn't use a shoe box then. I had a little cage of twigs and such, so I could see it there, caught." He'd stopped walking and was peering into the past. "We just looked at each other for a spell. The bird didn't seem a bit afraid. Maybe it knew there wasn't a point to it." Spike frowned.

"So what did you do?"

"I let it go. I could have kept it…or killed it. I realized I could make a choice, the bird couldn’t; it was trapped. Being able to choose that‘s where the real power is. I lifted the cage, It took off and never looked back. I felt strong then. Stronger than if I'd kept it. Stronger than if I'd killed it."

Buffy was trapped again, not by his strong hands or hypnotic gaze, but by his person. His words and story were as precise and powerful as his hands had been earlier. He knew just what to say to keep her there, right with him and when she tried to lighten the mood or pull away, he immediately pulled her back.

"We never caught a squirrel."

"Just as well."

"Yeah." She truly didn’t know what they would have done with a frantic squirrel in a box. Likely they would have been too scared to even turn the box over to let it go.

Buffy had always thought power was in strength, but Spike had found his strength when he chose to let the bird go. It wasn't about mercy. He didn't feel strong because he'd made a humane decision. He felt strong when he recognized that he had a choice. Power was knowing you could choose--and then choosing.

Buffy's brows bunched together. Spike's hands on her earlier felt so powerful not because they crushed hers or held her fast, but because at any given moment he could have kept her or let her go. He didn't have to grip hard to keep her there. He hadn't learned that as a thug vampire with 100+ years of bad behavior behind him; he'd learned that as a boy.

Buffy recalled the mixture of anticipation and fear she had felt holding the string, watching for a squirrel to approach, hoping they caught one, hoping they wouldn't. A choice only equated power if you actually MADE a decision. Having options and refusing to, or being unable to, choose wasn't power.

Had she and her cousin caught a squirrel they wouldn't have wanted to let it go, because so much effort had gone into catching it, but neither did they actually want a wild squirrel. So much of her life felt like that, trying hard to catch something she didn't actually want, just so she could say she caught it.

Buffy stopped walking and watched Spike moving fluidly away from her. This was real. She was here as the result of a long list of choices. She was here with William the--No. She was here with this vampire and she could choose to let go of her idea of William the Bloody and be here, with Spike or cling tight to her previous beliefs, but that would be about as useless as a squirrel in a box.

She could almost understand it, watching him move, hearing him talk and learning how he thought, why Faith had hesitated to kill him. She knew she could at any time, which meant she didn't have to.

No, that was wrong. Spike killed people. Vampires were bad and had to be dusted. There had been flecks of blood on her pillowcase.

"Was it something I said?" he asked, not looking back.

Buffy hurried to catch up. "We're not going to let a vampire go are we?" She wanted to be sure.

"Why? You want to bring one back to the lab? Give it some IQ tests or what not?"

"No. I ...your story."

"Just a memory, Luv."

But it had been a human memory, a very human memory.

"We're almost there," he said it in the same dull tone, but this time he looked over at her. "You ready?"

She wanted to say yes, she forced her lips and tongue into the position to say yes, but it came out a gnarled grimaced no just the same.

Rather than seeming amused, Spike looked impressed. Strange man...er vampire.

Almost referred to a fresh grave about 30 yards away. There was no stone, just freshly filled earth.

"Won't be long," Spike told her, sitting on a nearby grave marker and lighting a cigarette.

"How do you know?" Buffy asked.

"Intel, poked around until I got a bead on a recent turn."

"So, it's going to rise." Buffy gave a nod. She could do this. This was how it went: someone got killed, their body got buried in a grave and then a young teenaged girl came along and killed whatever the thing was that crawled out.

Spike blew smoke rings and poked his finger through the middle of them. Buffy stood awkwardly, her eyes moving between the mound of soil, Spike, and her own hands which kept twitching around, unsure what to do with themselves.

"I'll tell you when. He's just waking up, it'll be a bit. You can take a seat," he suggested.

"I don't think I should just sit on a grave. Isn't that disrespectful?" It just seemed wrong, yet watching him do it seemed like the most normal thing of all. But he was a corpse; he belonged in a cemetery. It was less unseemly for a dead guy to perch on a grave than a very alive graduate student.

"Suit yourself, but they don't mind." He motioned around. "You don't hear them complaining." Then he cocked his head at the grave in front of them. "Cept maybe this one, sounds like he's waking up on the wrong side of the grave."

Buffy pulled out a stake, then looked nervously to Spike. "So what do I do? I mean, when he comes out do I just jump him? Will he be strong like you?"

Spike smiled at the unintended compliment. "Don't do jumping of any kind. I'll grab him and see what sort we're dealing with." He sounded like a big brother or protective boyfriend. She knew all about how protective boyfriends sounded.

Now even Buffy could hear the sounds of muffled words and scratching and scraping.

Soon. It was going to happen very soon. Spike tossed away his cigarette butt and jerked his head, motioning Buffy to step aside.

Her hand was working nervously around the shaft of a stake. It seemed to take forever, then all of a sudden it was happening. Arms, a head, and body were clawing out of the ground with astounding speed. The vampire shook dirt from its hair and looked around confused. No choice. It had no choice; it was hungry and disoriented and needed to feed. It was a person who wasn't human but it looked human, like a sad, confused, dirty human.

Spike frowned at the creature as if he didn't relish what was about to happen, but he'd made an agreement and was going to keep to it.

"Get ready," he told Buffy.

She already had her stake in hand, was there something else she should be doing? What was she getting ready for? Did he actually expect her to stick a piece of wood through that dirty confused human?

A very inhuman groan of pain and fury burst from the creature’s lungs.

Not human, demon, she reminded herself. Spike unceremoniously grabbed it by the arms and quickly wrestled them behind its back.

"Hey!" the vampire protested, sounding just as human now as he had sounded feral only seconds before.

"This one is all yours Ms. Summers." Spike held the confused creature fast, its chest out and arched, an easy target.

"I just have to stab it," she reminded herself.

"Yeah, NOW," Spike suggested.

"Stab who now?" the vampire looked at the small woman with the pointed stick who was approaching him slowly.

"Nothing personal mate, the lady has a job to do," Spike said in a matter of fact manner.

Buffy doubted the man even knew he WAS a vampire. He just seemed disoriented and angry.

"In the heart, Luv," Spike encouraged her. The vampire in his arms was struggling harder.

"Where exactly is that?"

"Center of the chest, just to the left. HIS left, your right. Do I need to draw a bleeding diagram? Don't they teach you anything?"

Buffy closed her eyes, rushed forward opening them and thrust the stake at the creature. Her blow grazed it, tearing the shirt.

"Geez, you're crazy lady. What is this? Some gang initiation? Hazing?" the vampire asked.

Buffy looked at Spike helplessly.

"Just do it," he growled, giving the vampire a jerk to disorient him and give Buffy another clear shot at its chest.

Buffy arched the stake over her head and drove it at the trapped vamp. She could feel and hear the flesh tearing, but the stake didn't penetrate. The vampire roared and kicked at her, it bucked back against Spike and flailed trying to free itself. Spike looked hard at Buffy with a hint of "I told you so." mixed with "Do I have to do every bloody thing myself?" and a dollop of "Not as easy as you thought eh?"

"What should I do?" she squeaked frantically.

Spike's arms shifted and Buffy paled, she realized that Spike was preparing to rip the vampire's head off, right in front of her, now, even as it was speaking. "Hey, I don't know if I have any money on me but if you just let me go--"

"Spike, don't," she implored. She pulled out another stake.

"You going to have another go?" he asked doubtfully.

"No. Yes. Should I?"

"No, stand back." Spike shook the vamp violently, then pushed him to the ground, "Stake!" he put his hand up, Buffy shoved one into his hand and Spike plowed it into the vampire's back in a hard smooth arc.

The vampire made a horrid noise, of pain, anger, tearing flesh and breaking bone then grew suddenly still before disintegrating into dust. Spike stayed there on his knees for a few seconds, looking down at the dust, at the stake in his hand, as if trying to make sense of it. Then he looked up at Buffy, who was frozen in place in horror.

"He's gone now, nothing to be scared of," Spike pointed out.

But there was, of course there was; there was Spike who not only was strong enough and smart enough to kill such a thing, but he could do it without hesitation or a second thought. The creature's lingering humanity was no deterrent, nor were its cries of pain or confusion, or it's human like pleas for release. The truly dangerous vampire was still right there with her. Spike was powerful. He was a vampire who knew he could make a choice, and he just had.

"What you expected?" he asked, though clearly he already knew the answer. He’d known it before they'd even left the hotel. He’d known it the first time he saw her. She had expected a mythological creature that rose off the pages of some centuries-old book, something that looked and behaved like a monster, something that was easy to kill because killing was the only sensible reaction to it. She hadn't expected this.

He rose and handed her stake back. "It's why there're Slayers. Not easy to shove a stick through a grown man's chest." So true, in so many different ways.

"He was so human."

"Bit like me?"

"No, nothing like you." Buffy was quite sure Spike would never offer anyone money for his life. "I couldn't do it," she said helplessly, the stake in her hand, that should have been dripping with blood and gore, was now splintered and dusty on the end, but it bore no sign of having just been inside a dead wet body.

"You've never seen a vampire before," Spike said as if it explained everything. "S'more important is you've never seen a kill."

Well, she just had, now, here.

"It'll be easier to stake one after you've seen what we're capable of." His voice sounded a bit hollow and old. Jaded, even tired.

Suddenly none of this made sense. Why would a vampire be teaching her anything? Why did she think it was good or safe or sensible to be out here with him? This wasn't some noble pursuit for knowledge, this was real and dirty and people died. That man/vampire Spike had just ended, had himself lost his life horribly just days ago, a violent bloody death. He was a murder victim and the first thing they did to him after he dug out of his own grave was to plunge a stake into his chest.

Buffy was interested in history and colorful characters and some sort of metaphorical struggle between good and evil. She liked books and charts and to be a little afraid before she went to bed because of all the terrible stories she'd read. Until now, that is what they had always been, stories, once, twice, thrice removed from reality.

No one told her there would be talking and tearing flesh. That wasn't mentioned in the books. William the Bloody had torn out throats and tortured his victims with railroad spikes but it had been written as a story, a fairy tale.

"So I guess you'll be leaving in the morning." He felt in his pocket for his lighter. "S'not as much fun in person, yeah?"

"Faith could do that? Stick a stake into a guy’s chest."

"Like a knife in butter, she was strong." He nodded.

"She wasn't just physically strong," Buffy realized.

"No." Spike shook his head. "And she enjoyed it. What you saw here--she liked fighting and scrapping, and the noise, all of it. That's what Slayers are Luv; they're killing machines, same as me."

"You like killing," Buffy acknowledged. Again, not just a story here, a real life monster that drank people's blood straight from the source. Not a rock star. Not a rock star.

"You can run. I'll give you a ten-second head start."

She was fairly certain he was teasing.

"You'd feel different if you saw a kill, or WERE a kill. Maybe you'd even hate us enough to have driven that stake in."

Her mind was racing. "So, is that what we do next? You bite me, so I understand why Faith--" She didn't finish the thought out loud. So she would understand why Faith had to stop caring enough about life and right and wrong and love and hate and the possibility of a future. Why she had pushed that all away and fucked a vampire instead of killing him, because what difference would it make? In the end, she could, and would kill him. She’d made that choice, perhaps only to prove that she HAD power.

Spike began to walk away without a word. Buffy followed him. She didn't know what else to do. He smoked as they walked. Buffy felt like she should be crying, but no tears came. Her face felt hard and cold. She knew she must be wearing an expression, but she didn't recognize the position of her facial muscles so she couldn't discern it.

They were walking in the direction of her motel. She guessed he was taking her home.

He turned down a street opposite from her motel and tossed his cigarette butt then stopped and waited for her to come up beside him.

He frowned down at her. "Can't release every bird I catch. You know that?"

No, she didn't know that. She didn't. She wanted to scream that there was always another way. He had a choice. He had power. But she nodded because she needed to know what came next.

Spike began walking again. He led her to a spot behind a parking garage. There was a line of short bushes, in the mulch beneath them lay two bodies. The male body appeared dead, but not mangled. The neck was wounded and judging from the angle, broken. The body had been roughed up, but it wasn't terrible.

The woman looked much worse, bruised, clothing ripped. One breast was half chewed off and her neck had been torn open.

Buffy's eyes met his questioning; had he done THIS?

"Get your stake," he told her.

She pulled one out, he motioned for her to hand him one.

He knew she wouldn't be able to further savage the girl. Spike took the stake and plunged it into her chest. There was still the tearing sound of flesh and breaking bone, but no cries of pain or fury.

"You have a go," he told her, jerking his head towards the man.

"No, it's enough. I won't, not to the body."

"Do it."

She just shook her head. Spike reached for her arm, took her hand, pulled her down. She was shaking and stiff as he forced her fingers around the stake, pulled her hand up then held her body steady as together they drove the stake into the man's chest.

Buffy cried in horror, then grew silent as the man's body turned to dust before her eyes. That man would have risen. Spike had known. She had dusted her first vampire. It would be her last. She was done. This..this was...

"The girl was just a victim," Spike said getting up, pulling Buffy with him. "but the man--"

"Did you do this?" She had to ask, but somehow she knew he hadn't.

"I don't turn people, not anymore." He was looking down at the woman's body without comment. He didn't disavow doing things just like that. He didn't claim it was not his work.

"You want to go back to your motel?" he assumed.

Buffy looked at him, puzzled. There was a mangled, defiled, mutilated body of a dead woman, that they had made worse by plunging a stake through her breastbone and she was just supposed to walk away? Go to her motel, have a snack and go to bed?

This was a crime scene. She needed to call the police and answer questions and give descriptions and then have months of therapy for having been part of this macabre scene. She couldn't just go back to her motel.

But Faith had, night after night after night. She just had to live with it. How many times had she had to stake a mangled body on the off chance that it would have risen? How many young women had Faith not been able to save and yet she had to live with herself every day just the same? And it went on and one.

Spike said he neither cared nor didn’t care. It had to have been the same for Faith. Caring was a liability. You couldn't do what needed to be done and still care but you couldn't do what needed to be done if you didn't care at all.

Buffy felt like she understood it now; for one millisecond she was in Faith's body, and she knew what it was like to be caught in impossibly strong arms, and being rocked from the inside by the very thing that you were sworn to kill. She understood the insane need of it. The way that sex could make you forget everything else, and make you present only in that moment, where nothing else mattered.

You just couldn't kill things all the time. At some point, you had to stop and forget.

There was nothing Buffy could do for that dead mangled girl now. It was too late. She imagined doing this night after night and then coming home to a Watcher who wanted a report and a tally of how many things you plunged a stake into and watched turn to dust and how many corpses you defiled, just in case.

It was unimaginable. No wonder Faith went to Spike--to help her forget for a few precious minutes--to be with someone who understood it all--and be able to help them forget too. No one else could have done it. Buffy understood that now, as she walked beside him, only someone who lived that life, who knew what it was like to kill and to be that close to being killed. There would be no way to forget with a mortal man. They would need to be lied to and protected. Vampires didn't need to be coddled or saved. No amount of blood or death or destruction would so much as cause them to flinch. With a vampire Faith never had to entertain the doubt that if her partner REALLY knew her he wouldn't want to be with her.

"The rest of it, you can read in books," he said simply.

Buffy nodded. She supposed he was right. The lore and the stats and the terrible tales were all in books. It was this she had needed to see for herself.

She knew now what Xander had meant, why he feared Spike.

They were at her door. Spike pulled the keycard out of his pocket and let her in. "You'll be alright?" he asked, not entering the room.

Buffy gave a bark of hysterical laughter, then broke into sobs.

He shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

"I could stay."

She looked at him as if he'd lost his mind.

"Or you could call Stuart or the boy," he suggested.

So many things she could do, but she could not erase what she'd seen and felt from her mind. She could never ever erase it.

Was this Spike caring or was this him NOT caring, Buffy wondered. Was this how he’d looked when he carried Faith's body to Stuart?

"Call your boyfriend. Tell him to be waiting for you at the airport tomorrow."

Buffy nodded. She looked around her room at her notebooks and her laptop and all the other symbols of her ignorance.

When she turned back, Spike was gone. Her keycard was on the table by the door. In the distance, she could hear a siren, too little, too late.


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End of Part One

End Notes:

This ends part one. I am planning a part two and three for this one. Thanks for reading!

This story archived at https://dark-solace.org/elysian/viewstory.php?sid=5375