Spike had to look up as an unusual pair made its way into the bar. With a scowl he recognized the former Watcher and the still-Green Demon from his frustrating observations at Chez Angel. Of all the demon bars in all the cities in all the world, these two nitwits had to stumble into the one he was drinking dry. Plus, he wondered if his cover had been blown. Then he wondered if he even had a cover. That was all he had time for before they noticed him.
"Ah." Wesley said. Some vestige of laboriously-learned English manners re-asserted itself, and Spike nodded politely in acknowledgement. Unfortunately, Lorne beamed at the exchange, and poked Wesley in the ribs so that he winced. Without further ado, the demon shoved his companion at Spike's table. Which, he realized, just a tad too late, was the only one in the joint without at least two occupants. Bugger all.
Lorne artfully paused to assess the room, then strolled over and offered him an enormous green paw to shake, which Spike did, rather sullenly, before sliding further down on the bench. Wes was not as confident as his green companion. "Uh, yes, uh, you have friends with you, we'll only stay a minute." As he said this, he eyed the beer bottles on the table with apprehension.
"Relax." Spike said. "Just me."
"Well." Lorne said primly, eyeing the bottles. "What was it, honey? A big bad break up?"
Spike glared at him, but Lorne just waited. "My oh my, what a big pair of bright blue eyes. Who could resist those?"
"Someone can." Spike said sourly.
"Oh, really?" Lorne leaned forward eagerly, putting his chin in his hands, all ears. "Who is she? Was she?"
"Lorne," Wes said uncomfortably. "Perhaps--"
"Ever loved somebody who didn't love you back?" Spike said tightly.
Lorne smiled, his expression shifting subtly from gleeful chattiness to contemplation. "Who hasn't?"
"That doesn't exactly answer my question, does it, mate?"
Lorne nodded at the vampire while looking at Wes. "He's got a better accent than you do."
"That doesn't cut it, either."
"You two, huh? Both broken-hearted, and neither one of you wants to admit it. Huh. I know the perfect medication for that kind of stubbornness." He gestured to the waitress, a rather hard-looking young woman with surprisingly soft eyes, and when she'd reached their table, asked her, "What's good for a broken heart?" She gave it some thought, resting her hip against the edge of the table, and eyeing the beer bottles.
"Well, that does depend on what type of person you are." She nodded at Spike. "Beer is not the right thing for you."
"And that would be why?"
"You're into punk and all that, right? You should really do something dramatic and serious and rebellious. Not beer. Besides, you're broken-hearted, you want something that's going to fit your character and let it loose. For a punker, I'd suggest tequila, because you can do shots, and there's the worm thing. For you-- " Now it was Lorne's turn, "Martinis, definitely. And for you," she gave Wes a glance through her eyelashes, "it would have to be whiskey, because you look like you'd hold it all in."
"Sounds good." Lorne said. "Then let's get started."
Wes shrugged apologetically at Spike, and Spike just shrugged. He swigged the last of his beer, then asked, "Hard day at the office?"
Buffy, all soft and warm against him, the covers around them like a nest.
"Moderately so," Wes said.
"Gah! No shop talk!" Lorne exclaimed. "Am I right in assuming there's someone on your mind, Mr. Big Bad Vampire?"
"Huh?" Spike leaned back against the leather seat, somewhat discomfited by the full blast of the personality. He glanced at Wes, as if he were about to disclose something professional. "Yes. There is."
"Well, good. Then you two can talk about it. Nothing worse than being miserable separately."
Wes now looked as if he wished he were anywhere else. He nodded at Lorne while keeping eye contact with Spike and mouthed, 'sorry' but Spike found he was rather amused by now. When was the last time he'd had a social visit -- with humans, no less! -- that had to do with something other than losing kittens? They'd drink, they'd bitch about women, and then he'd somehow figure out what in hell he was doing. "I'm still waiting to find out your story, there—" He nodded at Lorne.
"Oh, Lorne," said the demon, blithely waving away the introduction. "But I haven't heard about your tale of woe."
"What's to tell? Vampire in love with the S-- a human," he added quickly. "Oldest story in the book." He thought perhaps Wes had raised one eyebrow at that, but he wasn't sure.
In fact, Wes hadn't. He looked up, considering first the demon, then the vampire, and wondered when things had gotten so weird. After all, once he'd wanted to be an accountant. Safe things, numbers. Quantifiable. So refreshing. "Were there vampires before there were humans?"
"Some people think so," Spike shrugged. "There's some that say that the world was originally populated by demons and vampires, and human came later."
"What do you think?" Wes asked.
"Beats me," Spike said. "I never really cared to find out. Besides, as long as there's lawyers, the demons haven't truly left." He could just see the conversation descending into a long, boring, Giles-type lecture. "And you, sir, what about you? Ever been disappointed in love?"
It was on the tip of Wes' tongue to blurt out, 'All the time,' but he stopped himself just in time. His dignified avoidance of the topic was, however, completely spoiled by Lorne, who clapped him on the back, and said, "Oh, come on, Wesley, share. It'll make you feel better."
"No, it won't."
"Yes, it will."
"No, it won't."
"Well, how about if it makes us feel better?"
"Trust me, it won't." Wes insisted, glancing with pleading eyes at the approaching waitress. If she'd only get here faster, she could save him from revealing his secrets. "Ah, look who's back. Here we are." Tremendously relieved at the sight of an interruption, he grabbed his drink and slammed it back rather impressively. Even Spike goggled a bit at the sight of the bespectacled accountant-wannabe knocking down something decidedly stronger than sherry. Rather defensively, he then tossed back his own, and then they both expectantly looked at Lorne. His head swiveled from one to the other, and then he carefully pulled the olive out of his martini and gulped it down. Spike and Wes exchanged glances. Lorne sighed, then lifted the martini to his lips and methodically gulped it down. It was very measured. He sighed, wiped his lips delicately with his napkin, and signaled the waitress again. "Another, but a cosmopolitan for me this time."
"And, uh, for me, some Scotch." Spike put in. "You're paying, right?"
Lorne rolled his eyes and gave an explosive sigh. "This round, I suppose."
Wes shook his head at the offer of another drink, but it was too late; the girl, sensing drunken tipping, was already gone. He decided it was his jacket bothering him, not the alcohol, and shrugged it off, but he still felt hot. He looked around the bar. Pool table, dartboard, video games in an alcove. All of a sudden he felt rather mellow. Fred's face swam before him, all luminous skin and huge eyes, and he swallowed at the way he'd rejected her attempt to set him up earlier that day. Why did this one hurt so bad, so sharply, when none of the others had caused this much pain this fast?
They'd gotten along, she and him. She wasn't a glamour girl, like Cordelia, or some research wonk, like Petunia. Only Virginia had made him feel like that. He'd felt as comfortable with her as it was possible for him to feel, which wasn't, truthfully, much, but there it was. Maybe he should get used to it. Where had his successes been?
He looked up at the vampire, who was slouched in the corner of the booth, staring at his refilled glass without seeing it. Supernatural being, centuries dead, and still a victim to the whims of women. In an odd way, it was almost comforting.
He lifted his glass and eyed his companions. "Shall we?"
"Whaaaaa?!" Lorne said.
"To women." Wes said solemnly. All three looked around somberly, unwilling to meet anyone else's eyes. Lorne was the one to break the silence with a sigh.
"What?" Wes demanded.
"Oh, my dear, if you only knew.'
"Well, if I didn't want to know, I wouldn't have asked, would I? What's wrong?"
"Well, look at us, guys." He pointed out. "All of us miserable, but what are we doing? A toast! Really, we should do a curse or something."
Both Spike and Wes raised their eyebrows at that. They looked at each other, then shrugged, then looked at Lorne, who had the grace to look sheepish. "Just trying to help." He said. Wes brightened at that. "William... You never did get around to describing much about your case. Perhaps now's a good time."
"Uh...." Quite frankly, he hadn't thought much beyond: Get inside. Angel. Money. Leave. Okay, some gloating as well, perhaps some taunting, but not so much he wouldn't be back in Buffy's bed by dawn tomorrow.
"Talking always helps." Lorne said helpfully.
"You did come to us for help," Wes pointed out.
"So I did." Spike looked at the table. Maybe he could dance around it a bit. Maybe get them drunk, then lift the keys, look around. What a plan, he thought proudly, ignoring the fact that plans generally were formed more than two seconds before their execution.
But where to start?
"Well," He said quietly. "She's human."
"How did you two meet?" Wes asked.
"Was it love at first sight?" Lorne perched his chin in his hand and waited expectantly, causing Spike to eye him.
"No." He thought about it for a minute. "It was hate at first sight. Well, okay, I was trying to kill her..." He swallowed. How on earth could he explain this? Where to begin? And where to end? "You know the drill, vampire, blah blah blah, but there was a sort of affinity there, even when I hated her guts. And vice versa, no matter what she says. Horrible taste in men, she had, till she met me."
"You mean vampires?" Wes asked. "Were you the first vampire she...?"
"No. I wasn't. First true love, blah blah blah. Then a couple humans for her. Me, always dated other vamps. Just a matter of who you're around. Wasn't around a lot of humans."
"And?" Wes looked very serious now, very interested. Spike was vaguely flattered and wondered what the Watcher would think once he'd found out his little tête a tête had been with William the Bloody.
"Well..." Here was the tricky part. Certainly everyone must know about William the Bloody's mishap with the chip, right? God knows, all the demons he'd killed, that had to be common knowledge. Certainly old Ripper must've written it up, which meant that Wesley must have stumbled over the account somewhere. "Injuries, mate." He said mournfully. "Really can't hurt humans now. Must be getting old. Happens to the best of us. Terrible shame, it is. Such an adjustment. So... I started hanging around humans more often. Shoulda remembered, never play with your food. Mum always was right about that."
"Was your mother a vampire?" Wesley inquired curiously.
"Hm? Oh, no." Spike waved the idea away. "No, but there are certain things that are timeless. Aside from myself, you know. Never play with your food. Always wear clean underwear in case of an accident. Never run with a stake in your hand. You know? That sort of thing."
"So, this woman, this girl. Does she even know how you feel?"
"Yeah. Long story, blurted it out one day, okay, after I kidnapped her and knocked her unconscious." Two startled faces stared back at him. "Uh, waitress? Another round, please...?" He stared at the table, tracing a finger along the rim of his glass, over and over. Stick as much to the truth as you can, he thought. Stick to the truth. "And, well, my ex did show up and threaten to eat her, but that's hardly worth having a grudge, is it?"
"Of course not," Wes said with a tiny smile. "But, you know, William... if you just keep hanging around this girl and she never so much as..."
"Oh, but she does." Spike said. He looked down at his glass again, surprised to find it empty. "She and I, well, she and I--" He looked up from one to the other. "She can sleep with me." He said. "But she won't tell her friends about us, and she won't say she loves me."
"What makes you think...?"
"Well, what, exactly, makes you think that she feels something for you?"
Spike shook his head at that. "We're sleeping together." He said flatly. "And she's not that sort of girl at all." And it's not just sleeping together.
Don't leave me.
I'll never leave you.
Her body, descending on his, enclosing him, the one thing he never dreamed of, her eyes huge with shock...
"Um, what?" He looked up suddenly.
Wes and Lorne were both staring at him, and there was more than a little pity on both their faces. "A vampire in love." Wes said softly.
"Not that unusual, mate." Spike said defensively.
"Well, it's unusual in the Chronicles..." Wes said in his patented Pedantic Voice. Spike eyed him with amazement.
"D'ya really think they'd report it?" He shook his head in disbelief. "Do you really think so? I can just see it now: 'Council of Watchers discovers vampires capable of love, what else can they feel that we prefer they not?' Because if you can love, what aren't you capable of then?"
"But vampires kill people...?"
"Do I have a choice?" Spike snapped. "Didn't ask to get turned, did I? Lovely for you, though; never once to think about what you're killing."
"Do you?" Wes asked.
"What?" Spike's indignation sputtered to a halt.
"How long since you were turned?"
"One hundred twenty two years. Why?"
"How many people have you killed, William? Do they bother you?"
He cocked his head in bewilderment, genuinely puzzled. Did he regret being what he was? He tried not to think about it at all. Did he regret surviving? No. Did he regret surviving at others' expense? He'd have to drink a lot more before he'd tackle that particular question. "No." He said quietly. "They don't bother me. Because otherwise, I'd be dead. "
"You already are dead." Wes pointed out.
"You know what I mean!"
"Uh, waitress, could we have another round?" Lorne asked nervously. The girl promptly appeared, and eyed the man and the vampire curiously. They were both leaning forward, elbows on the table, just one statement away from jumping to their feet and finger-pointing to the chest. She looked from one to the other.
"Got any more suggestions?" Lorne asked, just as Wes opened his mouth to speak.
"Uh, how about Shirley Temples?" The two opponents, still glaring at one another, slowly sank to their seats.
"Seriously, what else have you got in the way of inspiration?"
"Uh--" She looked at Wesley. "How about a nice port?"
"Oh, uh, lovely." Wesley said.
"Yeah?" Spike looked up at her.
"Bourbon?" She suggested.
"That'll work." Spike said sullenly. Across from him, and facing the door, Lorne stiffened suddenly, causing the other two to slowly turn around.
"And what about him?" Lorne inquired dryly, as the light from the door way was blotted out by a large shadow. Angel's shadow.
"Definitely cognac." The waitress said. "Definitely something with a high alcohol content."
Angel stood on the top step forever, first blinking while his eyes adjusted to the darkness, and then slowly stiffening as he recognized Spike. He lowered his head, just like a bull, Spike thought, and carefully, ominously stared in disbelief for several minutes. Quite the effect, he noted. Pity he didn't have a pad and paper, he could take notes on Making An Entrance101. Finally, he shook his head disgustedly, and stalked across the floor to the table, never once taking his eyes off Spike. "Why are you here?"
Spike gestured at the bottles. "Drowning my sorrows, what does it look like?"
"When are you leaving?"
"Soon's I get what I want."
"Who's the torturer this time? Found another Gem of Amarra? What is it?"
Spike didn't allow himself the indulgence of anger. He wanted Angel off balance, knowing full well if he told him the truth, he'd never be believed, and probably get staked anyway. "It's a long story, Grandpa." Struck by inspiration, he beamed up at his grandsire's bulk. "But if you give me an advance on my allowance, I'll leave right now."
Continued in Chapter 18