All About Spike

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Affinity
By Ginmar

Chapter 26

Every now and then something would happen which made Buffy realize just how odd her life was. Saving the world from the Master in her coolest dress? That was weird. Seeing the Mayor turn into a giant snake? Again -- fairly high place on the Weird-O-Meter. Having a commando boyfriend? Positively tame. After all, he had a pulse.

Watching Spike look at the toppings list for pizza thoughtfully, as if he were just any other guy on a humor-the-girlfriend-type-of-a-date? That had to be in the Odd Top Ten. Of course, the whole Spike thing was Oddness personified; and the oddest thing about it, was how unweird it felt. Which brought the whole weirdness thing up again, because she suddenly wondered what would happen if Giles found out. This produced a slight wince-- half cringe, and half irritation-- because he was gone, and why should she care?

"You sick of pepperoni, yet?" Spike asked. Buffy thought about it; what, really, was there to life except pepperoni? Leave it to a guy, living or undead, not to figure that one out.

"What are my options?"

"Bacon, sausage...?"

"I'm looking for cholesterol." Buffy pointed out.

"So...you want the maximum in artery-clogging, is it?"

Buffy deflated abruptly at mention of ‘artery.' Damn, hit by reality yet again. Why did he have to use that word? It just made her think of...reality...yet again.

"Yeah," she said dispiritedly. She suddenly remembered Tara's words, and knew she'd be nibbling on the toppings anyway. She could practically denude a pizza while remaining morally sure that she hadn't eaten more than a few little snippets off the top. "I want dietary badness. Why can't we just skip the pizza, and just order the toppings?"

"Well, we could," Spike said thoughtfully. "But you're the one who's going to explain to this poor bloke what it is you want."

"What?" Buffy shook her head, seemingly disappointed. "You mean you're not going to tell him what I want?"

Spike eyed her. "Well.... It's just that it does seem to change every day."

His eyes were on her, considering, wondering if his name would come up, and the joke fell flat. "Pepperoni's good." Buffy said quietly.



Lorne wondered if there was some sort of bylaw about vengeance demons being insecure. He could practically smell it on her; that, and the smell of sulfur.

He slowly drew Hallie away from the girls, out onto the deck, while Willow and Tara performed hopelessly lame magic tricks in the living room. He wondered if it was just the gig that did it to them, or maybe it was just her, but looking at the former Anyanka, he doubted that. Or maybe it was just having heard the conversation between the two of them.

"You don't much care for Anyanka's hubbie to be, do you?"

"Oh!" Hallie waved the remark away, then glanced around. "I never said that."

"I'm good with instincts."

"What do you do, by the way?"

"I, ah, I sing." Lorne said modestly, brushing away a speck of pollen from his linen lapel. Really, why had he chosen linen? He'd never get the wrinkles out. It was possible the suit could survive another trip to LA in the Spikemobile, but he doubted it would survive Greyhound. And there was as much chance of Angel giving him enough money for plane fare as there was of Spike getting a suntan. "And, well, I try to ah, help, as it were, other people to express themselves in song."

"Really? Is that your job... or your, ah, talent?"

"I'm lucky." Lorne said quietly. "It's both."

"Oh, I know what you mean." Hallie giggled. "I'm the same way with dismemberment." She giggled even harder. "And I do mean... dis mem--""

"Ah, yes, thank you, I've got that particular mental image burned in already."

"Oh," Hallie giggled again. "You men... No matter what kind of demon you are, that's the topic that really gets you touchy."

"Well, it's just that castration isn't exactly something one could do over, could one? It's not like liposuction, is it? Don't fat cells always grow back? At least mine do," he added thoughtfully. He sighed. "My clan has the biggest hips in the region, it's a curse. Terrible inconvenience; that' s how our enemies always caught us during clan wars." He sighed again, both relieved to be somewhere where hippiness was only an inconvenience rather than a death warrant, and also where convenient payment plans meant that he would never have that ghastly nightmare again, about being criticized for his figure, and then executed for it.

"So.." Hallie eyed his sleeve. Interesting. A demon who chose linen for spring. "Where are you from?"

"LA."

"Originally?"

"Is anyone in LA really from there?"

"But, originally?"

"Oh, honey, if I told you that, you could dig up my old yearbook, and find out how old I really am. And no one is pretty enough for that." He batted his eyelashes at her. "But why are we talking about me? What about you? Where are you from?"

"Oh, England, originally."

"And you and Anya met...How?"

"Oh, it was just terrible. There was this terrible person chasing me around, just completely beneath me, and you know..." She leaned forward. "And that's how I met Hallie. I just wanted to get rid of him. He kept distracting me. He kept distracting this...man." She giggled. "It's too funny, all of us meeting up this way."

"All of us?"

"Oh, Anya and I, even him -- that vampire..."

The light dawned. "That vampire." She preened a bit, as if primping herself in the mirror.

He drew away a little, wanting to see her clearly. There were some things that he didn't need singing for. "What about him?"

"Who knew it would turn out like this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when I wished he was dead, I never thought...."



"Why five?"

"Because we got one free that way." Spike said, injured. Much as he liked having all that money in his pocket, he was suddenly, acutely, aware of prices. Certainly, it was Buffy's money, but that didn't stop him from feeling very protective of it. And here she was, dissing his financial acumen.

"But why do we want one free?" Buffy wrinkled her nose at him. "They're hyooooooge."

Spike had to bit his lip to keep from commenting on the two-syllable pronunciation, knowing that it would sink any and all hopes for nudity any time in the extremely near future. "Something wrong with leftovers?"

"Fine." Buffy shook her head. "You get to convince Dawn to eat leftover pizza for the next week."

"She's a teenager, don't they inhale food?"

"Not if anyone's looking."

"Well, maybe we should make it forbidden or something, then she'll be mad for it."

"How do you know so much...?" Buffy shut up abruptly and looked out the window again. The pizzas, steaming, and sweating oil through the cardboard, were heaped between them, and he suspected that tossing them in the back seat and grabbing her would not be well-received.

"How do I know so much about women?"

"I didn't say that."

"Which means I'm right." He glanced over at her shrewdly. "You always have lots to say when I'm wrong." Of course, sometimes she also had lots to say -- torrents to say -- when he was right, too, so it wasn't an absolutely airtight theory.

"Well, maybe that's because I get lots of practice."

"Oh? Name one example."

Oh, hell. Buffy thought. Perfect opportunity, but worse circumstances could hardly be imagined. The weirdfest that is my life. Trying to have a conversation with Spike. Trying to have a normal conversation with the person I'm sleeping with.... The vampire I'm sleeping with. It somehow seemed below the belt to bring up anything pre-chip, and post-chip was like an open wound. Whoops. I guess he's not like a normal boyfriend after all, she thought. The silence had gotten to the point where it hung in the car, as much a third entity as Spike's eternal cigarette smoke, making known with its presence her inability to come up with a light answer.

But then... Inspiration struck. "Harmony!"

"Bloody hell."

"What was that, Spike? C'mon, I'm sure she was sensitive, intelligent, witty -- "

"And not prone to gloating." He pointed out.

"Yeah." She rolled her eyes, mimicking. "My boyfriend's going to..." She hummed a few bars of "My boyfriend's back... Hey la, hey la..."

"Bloody hell." Yet another twinge; Harmony calling him her boyfriend at the slightest provocation; Buffy, steadfastly refusing to. How could he get any more lucky?



"So, sweetness..." Lorne settled himself on the deck, knowing what it was going to do the linen, but well, some things had to be done. "I'm not completely clear on the whole wishing thing..."

"Well, this is how it happens." Hallie said cozily, settling in beside him. "You make a wish, and the wish is done. But I had such potential that D'Hoffryn -- he's the head of the division -- offered me a job. I have a real talent for it."

"For death and pain and torture?" Lorne enquired softly.

"Don't forget maiming," Hallie pointed out. "Or dismemberment. I'm sort of known for my dismemberments."

"I'm not clear, either, on how you got invited here..."

"Oh, I'm not allowed to divulge that information." Hallie said primly. "But I only go where I'm needed. Or my presence is requested. Now, Dawn, for example. Everyone was leaving her behind, so I fixed that." And myself, a voice said, but never mind. Let's forget that embarrassing little episode.

"You... fixed that?" Lorned shifted uncomfortably around on the step, wishing she hadn't used the word, ‘fixed.' "How did you do..." He gulped... "that?"

"Well, I can't really divulge that, can I? But someone has to look out for these girls."

"Girls? What about boys?"

Hallie brushed that off. "Why would they even need demons? You should just hear what my coworkers tell me about other places, the things they have to do just to keep up." She sighed for a moment, and her shoulders slumped. "You know, as much as we do do, we're still terribly short-staffed. And that's despite the fact that a lot of people never even wish because they don't even have hope enough for revenge."

"Revenge?"

"Justice," she amended. "These politically correct times, you know. But really, if you cut off a woman's -- well -- you know, what do you think she's going to want in return?"

"Now there's a job description I'd like to see."

"Well, really, what was I supposed to do when I was human? All I did was go to parties, look pretty, and pretend I was flattered by men. And so many of them were so... so... beneath me. And gossip; I did lots of that. I perfected that, but it was so"so -- circumscribed."

"So you became a vengeance demon because you had a talent for it, huh?"

"Oh, yes. It's very subtle, sometimes. I mean, when I was still human I did a few things, but it was so difficult. I just didn't have the opportunities as a human that I had when I became a demon."

"Why were they beneath you?" Lorne asked curiously.

"What? Well," Hallie shrugged, dismissing the question. "They just were. That vampire, for example. Nothing like the other men, always writing poetry."

"What were the other men like?"

She sighed, as if it was a pleasant memory. "Oh, very masculine. In control. But he was... Well, he was so sensitive! He was always thinking about things that spoiled the fun."

"Such as...?"

"Oh, I remember this one! There was this terrible woman who was always at parties; terrible bluestocking. And William was so nice to her, even though she was really worthless."

"Worthless?"

"Shopkeeper's daughter or something." Hallie explained. "And William was nice to her. Asked after her mother, actually had conversations with her. Some of the women did like him. All the tacky ones, that is."

"Tacky?"

"Low-class, you know. The spinsterish ones. Probably grateful for any man, even him."

"And, sweetheart, I hate to interrupt, but was he poor? Tacky? Low class?"

"Well, there was that poetry...." Hallie said thoughtfully. "But no, he was respectable enough, except he always wanted to think differently than the rest of us. He kept spoiling it for the rest of us. We stopped going to little get-togethers at his mother's house, because he caught one of our boys with one of the maids, and booted him out of the house. Can you imagine?"

"Can I...?" Lorne looked at her. "What?"

"One of the maids." Hallie said significantly.

"One of the... maids?" Lorne asked. "What was he doing?"

"Well... Anyway, who cares?"

"Aren't you a justice demon, you said?"

"Yes, but... that was different."

"How so?"

"Well..." Hallie shrugged, trying to put into words something she'd always felt but tried to articulate. "It just didn't matter to men then. She was just a little Irish shanty girl. She should have been grateful she had a job."

"And if the job included being...?"

"Oh, that? Well, I knew the man!" She exclaimed. "And he was perfectly nice to me!"

"Like you knew that vampire?"

"I didn't want to know him, that was my point! And he kept insisting on bothering me!" She frowned at him, a face that hinted at what she looked like at work. "I didn't want to be bothered."

"Like what vampire?" Buffy asked curiously. She was followed by someone who appeared to be Spike, but who was obscured by a pile of pizza boxes. From behind it emerged a thin trail of smoke. Hallie peered around to get a side glimpse at him, and smirked with satisfaction at Lorne.

"Like that one."



Continued in Chapter 27

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