Kill the slayer.
That was what was in Spike’s head, all the time, every day, every goddamn second. Kill. The. Slayer.
The Welcome to Sunnydale sign splintered under the wheels of Spike’s DeSoto as he swerved specifically to hit it. It was tradition by this time. Come back to Sunnydale, kill the sign, kill the slayer. Well, okay, he hadn’t succeeded in the last part yet, but he was going to do it this time. This time, it was gonna work. He’d made plans. There’d be no collapsing into drunken misery. No getting thwarted by impatience at the last second. No getting his arse handed to him by little blond chits with big egos.
You’re all covered with her, Drusilla’s voice echoed in his head. I can still see her, floating all around you, laughing. Why can’t you let her go? Well, hell, yeah, he was gonna let her go. Let her go to the great beyond he was, and bring back her sodding head to Drusilla to prove it! He was going to kill the slayer, sod it all, and the Gem of Amara was going to help him do it.
But first he needed muscle.
Spike squealed up to Willy’s and stepped out of his DeSoto, a little nervous, but ready to get to it. The Welcome to Sunnydale sign had left a long splinter of painted wood on the windshield. He plucked it off and lit a cigarette, taking a few determined puffs before he flicked it away. He straightened his coat, slicked back his hair, and put on his best Big Bad face. When recruiting minions, was best to look incredibly dangerous.
‘Course, he could always make his own. He had in the past occasionally, but usually he’d left the minion making to Drusilla. Always felt kinda cheap and uncomfortable handing out his own blood to just any dumb punk he wanted to say Yes, boss. It didn’t bug Dru, but him? Given a choice, he’d rather find someone else’s fledge and play Big Bad at him till he accepted Spike’s dominance and learned his place.
Willy’s wasn’t the best place for this, since the slayer knew of it, so the darkest demons tended not to frequent it. But Spike wasn’t looking for dangerous muscle. Just a couple of determined bodies to haul rubble. All the rough and tumble was going to be his once he found the Gem of Amara.
Drusilla had insisted that it was here, in Sunnydale. She even had sketched out a strange map in one of her more lucid moments. If the whole thing with Acathla hadn’t played out, she had planned on setting Spike and Angelus to find the gem. Her and her visions: The Judge. Acathla. The Gem. Sometimes they were just fairy tales, and sometimes... sometimes they turned out to be real.
Spike was betting on the Gem of Amara being real. And he was betting Drusilla had told him true about the crypt, and where it would be. And he was betting he could find the muscle he needed to get it here, at Willy’s. A couple dumb minions, maybe even some of the pissants who used to work for him before, if the slayer hadn’t dusted them already.
He strode into Willy’s with a brash swagger, announced that the Big Bad was back in town, and waited for the resultant recognition.
He wasn’t disappointed. “Spike! Buddy!” Willy said with his usual obsequious terror. The man had no magical powers, no demonic strength, nothing to protect himself from the demons and death-dealers who frequented his pub. Naught but a glib tongue and the willingness to cater to anyone. There was a bit of a Hey, everyone, cool it, spell that he’d paid for, which permeated the walls and tended to keep most arguments low key, and most active fights out in the alley, but it wasn’t a true pacifist you-can’t-hurt-anyone-here sort of deal, as those were way too expensive for Willy’s budget. Spike felt the muffling blanket of the spell as he came in, but it was no more oppressive than a hot day, easily fought through. “Long time no see.”
“Hallo, mate,” Spike said. He ordered two fingers of Jack, and Willy asked if he wanted him to spike that for him. “Yeah, sure. But the good stuff, right?”
“Sure thing, Spike.” Willy pulled a donor bag out of the mini fridge under the bar and added another finger of human blood to the glass before handing the resultant mixture to Spike. “So what you doing back in town?”
“Got a bit of an evil plan in the works. Like always.”
“Well. Luck to you,” Willy said. “Welcome back. Anything you need–”
“I know you’re just a bribe away,” Spike said. He plunked down the bill and leaned back against the bar, surveying the room. Slim pickings. A fyarl by the door... nope. Too dumb for delicate work, he didn’t want the gem crushed before he could find it. One vamp thug in the corner who might do for muscle work, a couple of fledgling mini-bits in the booth sipping, god, was that pigs blood? Smelled like it from here. And one scantily clad bint who was watching him with appraising eyes under a thick mane of blond hair.
He eyed her. She was no Drusilla, but something about her appealed. She was no more than a fledge, he could tell that by her bearing, but decent lineage. She didn’t look like she was struggling to hold camo-face anyway, which was usually an indication of reasonable age, a good bloodline, or at least a decently made fledge. You turn a fledge on a drop you got the stupidest bumpy-faced minions, no matter your lineage, and a good-made fledge from an unknown line could surprise you with personality.
This little bit clearly had personality. She cocked her blonde head, tilted her shoulder, opened her lips and let her tongue slide suggestively between her teeth as her eyes flickered coquettishly. She knew the rules of cheap seduction, that was clear enough. He smirked. “Hey there, all,” he announced, making sure just enough of his Big Bad was directed at the bint that she felt the power of it. “Just got back in town. Looking for a few good blokes to work a job for me.”
“Might have some trouble with that, Spike,” Willy said quietly. “There’s, uh... well, a new feeling going on through town. If you’re looking to start a new turf war, well....”
“Nah, I’m done playing the Master game,” Spike said. “I’m not trying to go all Order of Aurelius again. Just looking for a few good hands to move some earth.”
“I can move the earth,” the bint said, sidling up to him at the bar. “Or at least, people say I make the earth move.”
The architecture of that statement was abysmal, but the intent was clear enough. “Oh, can you now, pet?” He glanced at her table. “What you drinking?”
“Bloody Mary, of course,” she said. “I am an evil vampire, don’t you know.”
Spike found himself grinning. “Are you now.”
She winked, and he chuckled. “Willy. Another Bloody Mary for the lady,” he said. He had finally realized what it was about the bint that he liked. Her age. She was eighteen, blond, a recently turned fledge, and, “Let me guess,” Spike said. “I’ll bet you went to school here.”
“Well, duh!” The girl turned to him. “I’ve lived here all my life.” Spike tuned her out almost immediately as she chattered on. He kept eyeing the marks. Really slim pickings, minion-wise. Maybe he should just go to the cemeteries and see if he could pick up a few newborns? There were always newborns rising in Sunnydale. The girl kept on and on, demanding his attention. “My daddy was going to send me to Paris this summer,” she prattled. “But then he decided not to.”
“And why was that?” Spike asked absently.
“Well, I killed him and stole his credit card,” she said. “I didn’t know his death was gonna mean it got cancelled. I mean, could you die? Well, I mean, I did, but....” She shrugged. “That was before I got hired by this really great start up firm? We’re gonna change the face of Sunnydale, it’s gonna be a real show stopper. I’m the receptionist,” she added, as if that was a really, really great job. She tossed her hair back.
Spike had been wanting to grab a lock of blonde hair and yank someone’s head back for months. Bint was clearly casting her cards for him. He thought he’d bite. “So what’s your name, pet?”
“Um, hello! Harmony! I just said!”
Spike let himself smile, envisioning slamming the girl into a wall before he took her. Yeah. That’d be good. Eighteen, blonde, Sunnydale alum... yeah. He could take her hard. “Well. Harm. That’s a good name, innit?” He slid his hand along her hip and looked her over with his patented smolder. “What do you say I take you out to my car for a good hard shag?”
“Carpeting in your car?” she said. “Is that some kinky seventies thing?”
Spike almost threw her away entirely. The disgust probably passed over his face before he was able to shake it off, but no, he hadn’t had his cock drained properly in months (don’t admit it’s been over a year, Spike m’lad) and he wanted to take the bint hard, here and now already, ‘cause even though she was clearly insipid and banal and almost immediately annoying, she was hot, and young, and blonde, and he was sure he could stuff her mouth with something that would keep her from talking.
“No, pet, I just meant you and I could go somewhere more... alluring.”
“My daddy used to want to take me fishing when I was, like, ten,” Harmony said. “But I never could handle the lures.”
Bloody hell. “Did you want to go somewhere and have cheap, meaningless sex?” Spike finally said.
Harmony looked affronted. “Well. Of all the things!” Then she stopped. “Um. Well, yeah, actually,” she said. “If you’re offering.” She shifted in her barstool and looked up at him. “Are you, like, older? ‘Cause you seem different from the boys in this town.”
A bloody century older, and a powerhouse to boot, but he didn’t want to brag. Why waste a good brag on this brainless chippy? “Yeah, pet, I’m a bit older than they are,” Spike said.
“Oh, good. I like older men.”
All right. That was out of the way, then. Spike turned his head so she couldn’t see him roll his eyes. He was definitely going to have to find ways to keep her mouth full if he was going to keep her as a mattress for a few weeks. “Just sit tight,” Spike said. He took a good hard look at the boys sipping the pigs blood. “I need to pick me up a few minions.”
Harmony giggled over her Bloody Mary, which seemed to be made with lambs blood along with the tomato juice. “Do people actually use that word? Minion?”
“It’s as good as any,” Spike said. “Has tradition behind it.”
“What do you need minions for?”
“I need to do a bit of excavation,” Spike announced, loud enough to carry. “Got a bit of a lead on a treasure trove. Anyone care to join me, they’ll get a share of the spoils.”
“Oooh, a treasure?” Harmony said. “What is it? Gold? Jewels?”
“Probably,” Spike said. “But I’m just after one gem.” He couldn’t keep the words from leaving his mouth. They’d been rattling around in his head for months, ever since Drusilla had accused him of still being fixated on the slayer. Well, if he hadn’t been before, he sure as hell was now, the bloody bitch! “And after I find it, I’m gonna kill me the Slayer.”
There was a strange silence in the pub after Spike said that. Everyone turned to look at him, not impressed, but in sheer disbelief. And then, very suddenly, the biggest thug across the way burst into laughter.
“Oh, don’t think I could do it, eh?” Spike said. “I’ll have you know, I’ve come close a few times. I did a couple slayers in my day. You might have heard of me. Name of Spike.”
His braggadocio was not having the desired effect. The laughter had started echoing around the pub, as vampire after vampire, and several of the demons, started to chuckle. Anger flashed through Spike, and his temper, which he did not have a good rein on in the best of times, ran off without him. “Oi! Shut it!” he snarled at the nearest chortling figure. “I’ll have you know, that slayer’s not gonna get the best of me this time!”
“No.” Even Harmony was chuckling. “That’s not why they’re laughing, blondie. You have really great hair, did you know that?” She reached up to pet it, like he was a sodding kitten, and there were times when he would have liked such a thing, but not while he was being laughed at by a pub full of pissant fledges. Spike slapped her hand away, and she looked slightly hurt. “It’s just that you’re not gonna kill the slayer, Spikey, that’s all.”
“And why the bloody hell not?” he demanded.
“Well... it’s just gonna be really hard. Buffy’s not – well. I guess technically she is, sort of, but–”
“Would you get to the point you stupid bint?” Spike snapped.
“Hey, ease up, Spike,” Willy said quiet behind the bar. “None of the boys mean anything by it, it’s just that Slayer’s been a bit of a regular lately. They’re all getting to know her pretty well.”
“A regular?” Spike snapped. “What the hell would the slayer be doing patronizing a crap demon joint like this?”
“Getting a decent Bloody Mary,” said Buffy’s voice behind him. “Regular, Willy, and make it snappy. If he’s in town, I need to get drunk even faster.”
Spike turned and stared at the slayer, telling himself he wasn’t frightened. She looked just like he remembered her, blonde, beautiful, petite, those supple wrists, that long neck, that golden skin, that scent....
Except that wasn’t the right scent. And that golden skin was pale. And those green eyes were no longer vibrant and alive, they were dead and cold in Buffy’s hard, humorless face. No heartbeat, no warmth, no whiff of fresh blood. A dead-eyed fresh-faced fledge stared at Spike from out of Buffy’s face.
“Oh, bloody hell!” Spike snapped. “Some berk got here before me?”
Buffy grinned, but there was no joy in it. “Looks like,” she said. “Now clear out of town, Spike, or at least shut the fuck up. I don’t have time for your crap these days. Willy? I think I’ll skip the cocktail. Just give me my special?”
“On it, Slayer.” Willy reached back down the mini-fridge and handed Buffy a donor bag.
“What do I owe you?”
“On the house,” Willy said.
Buffy grinned. “One of these days you’re going to have to start charging me, or the boys will think you’re soft on me.” She glanced over at Spike, who was staring in stunned, horrified disbelief. “Don’t make trouble, Spike. I don’t have any patience for it, these days.” She shoved the bag into her coat pocket. “Clear out of here by tomorrow, and there’d better not be any sudden deaths, or I’ll know why. You all hear that, guys?” Buffy announced to the room.
The general consensus humming around the pub told Spike that Buffy was more than just a vampire. She was a bit of a Big Bad herself these days. “See ya,” Buffy said, and she left the pub.
“Don’t worry about Buffy,” Harmony said. “She’s been all up in everyone’s face ever since she turned. She and I were turned about the same time. Graduation! It’s really cool. We’re like best friends these days, sisters even! She hired me to work for her! First pay check I ever got, it’s really neat, and I get all the free blood I want, so long as it’s not human.” She slid her arm around Spike’s back and pressed her breasts up against him, nearly in his face. “So. You said something about a car, and cheap sex? ‘Cause I have expensive tastes, and I think you’ll find I’m worth more than that.”
“Shut up,” Spike said, shoving her listlessly away. The pretty blonde fledge didn’t seem anywhere near as appealing as she had a few minutes ago. Neither did the prospect of the Gem of Amara. Or the taste of Jack and blood. Or the scent of the night or the beauty of the moonlight or the thrill of the chase. Someone else had already killed the slayer.
There was nothing left worth living for.