Even so, he looks like sin.
I can’t believe he tried to get into my pants. In the middle of a church. And now he knows that Anya’s ‘Viking in the sack’ is a fraud. I’m thinking, the hard-on kinda stuck out a little. Well, hopefully more than just a little.
I’m also thinking that we (meaning Buffy, Willow and I) already had our share of spectacular coming outs, painful confessions and relationship meltdowns to keep a daily soap running for years. We don’t need any more of that. So, I ask myself, what if he spills the beans? How do you explain to your best friends that you’ve been lying to them for years?
Things would be just so much easier if he were dead.
I should kill him. I doubt he could stop me now. I look around until I spot my stake, it’s lying underneath a bench. I should just pick it up and put the crazy bloodsucker out of his misery. I’d be doing everyone a favor.
I crouch beside him. He lolls his head to look at me.
“Does it hurt?” The inane question tumbles out of my mouth before I can stop myself.
“All the time,” he answers, after a moment.
“Good.” It should, because it was a dumb thing to do. Crazy or no.
His gaze wavers and he turns away.
“You should’ve killed me.” His voice is toneless, his stare vacant. “Chopped my head off. Made the feeling stop. Made. Everything. Stop. No apologies, no screaming, no fire, no beetles crawlin’ around inside of me, no spark drivin’ nails through my eyes…”
Man, he really has lost his mind.
“Yeah, we should have dusted you a long time ago.” I tell him, matter-of-factly. “What else is new?”
He sits up. “You could still do it,” he says. He tilts his head and gives me a knowing glance that carries more than a hint of the old Spike. “It’s what you’re here for, right?”
I stand up, pick up the stake and tuck it into the pocket of my jacket. Then I bend down and, after a moment’s hesitation, I grab his wrist and pull, so his arm comes to rest on my shoulder, then sling one arm around his naked waist. I ignore his hiss of pain and lift him to his feet. He’s lighter than I thought. And has he always been this thin?
“Maybe later. Come on, Spike, I’ll take you to your place. You can’t stay here.”
The Chrysler is where I left it, near the Bronze.
“Look who’s got a shiny new toy. Nothing screams ‘I’m a boring poof’ like wheels built for people twice your age.”
“Shut up, Spike.” I’m so not in the mood for one of our usual arguments.
He shrugs and falls silent.
I lean him against the car, glad to let go of him. I always have a blanket in the trunk. He watches quietly, while I get it out and spread it over the seat. Then I dump the crazy vampire inside.
“No smoking,” I tell him, and point at the sticker on the dashboard. I’m not sure he heard me.
The acrid stench of burnt flesh mingles with the typical plastic and leather smell of a brand-spanking new car. I think I’d prefer cigarette smoke after all. But, uncharacteristically, Spike makes no move to spite me. I’m not sure I like him better this way. Chipped and obnoxious but sane Spike I can deal with, but crazy, possibly de-chipped Spike? Excuse me? Can I have a new vampire? This one’s acting all funny.
It’s only a ten minute drive, but it seems to take forever. Maybe it’s because Spike is so quiet. I’m relieved when we reach the Sunnydale High construction site. I pull into my usual parking space and kill the engine. I get out to help him, but he manages to get out all by himself.
“Feelin’ better now,” he says with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Why don’t you go back to that Anya clone of yours. I can find my way from here.”
“Who Nancy? Hey! What do you mean--” Spike arches one eyebrow mockingly. Realization hits. I hate him when he’s right. Okay I hate him, period. “Oh,” I drawl. “Look who’s got his marbles back.”
“Told you. Feeling better already.”
Oh yeah? Nice try. I grab my flashlight, then I lock the car with a beep. “Yeah, I can see that. And all that swaying is just a cunning plan to make me dizzy.”
There must be a million things I’d rather be doing, than sneak through the Sunnydale High School basement in the middle of the night, dragging an annoying, half naked vampire back to his lair. At least, I have keys for most of the doors, so it’s easy to get inside the building.
It’s kinda creepy in here at night. Not just because I know the hellmouth is directly beneath us. I mean, we spent how many hours in the old library? And that was right on top of this mystic con-something. No, the creepy thing is, this looks almost like the old school, it even smells the same. Gives me a flashback that smacks of claustrophobia, humiliation, fear and teenager hormones. Can’t wait to get out of here again.
Spike manages on his own for most of the way, but halfway down the stairs to the basement he suddenly recoils and buries his head in his arms, hiding his face. “No, I’m… I’m sorry. I’m here now, aren’t I?”
Uh-oh. Here we go again.
I actually have to grab him, to keep him from tumbling down the stairs. I sling my arm around his waist again, not happy about another round of skin contact. I can feel he’s trembling.
“I’m trying!” he yells, when we reach the bottom of the stairs. “I’ll tell him. Just go!”
I give him a firm shake. “Where to?”
He squirms. “One at a time… don’t all talk at the same time…to be direct and honest is not safe, I tell you…” But he tries to stagger to the right, so that’s where we go.
It’s like a maze down here, full of junk and old furniture. We walk past desks and file cabinets, old chairs, shelves, crates and boxes, blackboards and even piles of books. It’s like someone took a big broom and swept all the leftovers from the last High School under the carpet, or as it happens into the basement, nailed a new lid on it, and built the new School on top. Which is exactly what my company did.
The muttering is getting worse. He sounds increasingly agitated, but I can’t make out what he’s saying.
We finally end up in front of a metal door.
He nods. Behind the door is a small room. This can’t be right.
“This is where you live? Man, I thought the crypt was bad, but this? At least the crypt had furniture, a b--…” -
Bed. I have a flashback of naked Spike doing push-ups in his large four-poster bed. Okay, so he was boinking invisible Buffy at the time – and boy, did that take me ages to work out - but the image of his lean pale back, thrusting into thin air still lingers. Gah! I let go of him and stifle the urge to wipe my hand on my pants. - “…b-bar, carpets, a TV,” I continue, waving my flashlight around and letting the light dance over the bare walls. “This isn’t what I’d call homey.”
I’ve seen prison cells that look more appealing – in movies, anyway. And what’s with the locks and bolts?
“Don’t need a home. Homes are for people.” He says it like he means it.
“Okay, I’ll fix you something to drink, and then I’m off. Where’s your fridge?”
Spike just shakes his head.
“Where do you keep your blood?”
And then I can literally see him pull himself together. He raises his head and looks me squarely in the eye. “You better go now. It’s not safe here. It… that thing, from beneath… it doesn’t like you. It doesn’t want you here. It says you destroyed the talisman.”
“It. Wants. You. Dead.” Spike says very carefully, each word marking a menacing step towards me.
That’s my cue. I match his advance with a corresponding back-pedal until I’m outside his little cell. He stands in the doorway. “Cheers for droppin’ me off, mate. Don’t be a stranger.” Then the door slams into my face and I can hear the bolt sliding into place and the click-clack of the lock.
I wait for a few more heartbeats. What for? You tell me. In the end I turn around and walk away. Words can’t describe how good it feels to get out of that basement. With each step a weight seems to be lifted off my chest. I hurry back to the car and get inside.
I take a deep breath and gag. The air still smells of burnt flesh. Okay, nothing the air-conditioning can’t handle. I turn the ignition key and the Chrysler obediently sparks to life.
Five minutes later I’m still here, staring at the darkened High School.
Continued in Part Three