SUMMARY: Third part of the Some Years Later series: four short pieces about Buffy's exes. Written in May, 2002 while I was watching the end of Season Five, knowing a single spoiler from "Smashed". Rated R.
Spike: What's My Line?
It's conditioning, he knows, like those animal experiments, and he's pissed to think that he's not so much love's bitch anymore as Pavlov's dog. But you can break conditioning, if you're smart and you're willing to make the effort. So he will.
Later, he sits in the mall, slurping down strawberry milkshakes and eating fat wontons out of a cardboard box. The food court is thronged with humans on a Friday night: shitty parents slapping their bouncing ADD kids, bored teens bitching about one another as part of their storm-in-a-teacup home dramas. Tired, puffy mallworkers clearing vacant tables of coleslaw and baby spit.
He thinks about how he'd do it. Start with the ADD kids first, just hoist them out of the way when their parents' backs were turned. Quick snap of the neck to shut them up, drain them and dump them. They're small enough to fit in the ThankYou! bins without any trouble. Then the parents---''Kid, 'bout so high? Headed down there.'' Grab them in the corridor leading to the loos. You can stack four or five corpses in one cubicle, if you know what you're doing. The teens? Too easy. They'll go to the carpark later, for some stolen hooch or a bit of a grope. The number he's done in the back of a car---all unappealing, goose-bumped teenflesh, though. And the mallworkers, coming out all alone at the 3am exit outdoors, they don't even struggle.
Yeah, he could still do it. Take them all out in one go.
He finds a liquor store that's shut early, row upon row of coloured bottles visible through the glass. He thrusts a boot through the window, steps in, braces himself for the alarm. The noise is shattering, but he won't stay long. He grabs a single bottle and stashes it in the pocket of his coat before settling in for some serious property damage. He just walks along the aisles, his arms outstretched, toppling every last bottle off the shelf so that the floor is covered with shards of broken glass and the fumes are making him drunk.
Dru found him one time, because she's bloody psychic. She'd turned up late one evening at his motel room door, just as this game show was ending. He'd blocked the doorway with his body and asked her what she was after. "My Spike,'' she said, cooing and purring, leaning over to kiss him just above his belt. She'd licked her way up over the fabric from his nipple to his neck, digging her fingers into his sides in a kind of embrace. And he'd thought, why the hell not?, and had started kissing her mouth.
She'd known that he'd finally left Buffy for good. "She was bad for you,'' she scolded as Spike closed the door and started stripping her. But she was feeling a bit playful and wouldn't let him take her frock off straight away. Instead she'd sat back on a chair and pushed his head down under her long skirts, wrapping her legs around him. "You shouldn't have gone away,'' she'd admonished as if it were all his fault that she had left.
Then for a while, when he was fucking her on the floor, everything had seemed almost alright. She'd felt cool and familiar and if he closed his eyes he could pretend they were in that little room in New York, the only space they'd had out of the view of the minions. It had been just a five-foot concrete cell, and they'd had to do it standing up or lying diagonally. Good times and occasional concussion.
After they'd finished (all too quick) Dru had hauled him up onto the bed. She'd held him there with his arms outstretched and started biting him: pleasant, shallow cuts on his belly and inner thigh. Then she gave his cheek an affectionate peck with her demon-face and started to tell him what it was that she wanted him to arrange. He was too out of it to take it in---something about New Zealand---and he got to thinking about those giant birds they used to have there, all eight foot tall and killer beak, like evil Big Birds, and he wondered how you'd go about killing one of those. They were probably too tall for a good kick to the neck, but maybe if you took out a kneecap first you could wrench off its head. The thought interested him so much that he almost said to her, "Yes, we'll go to New Zealand.'' But those birds had been extinct for a few hundred years---amazing the crap he knew---so it just wasn't going to be worth it.
He turned to look at her as she prattled on: her pale skin, her dark hair, the curiously old-fashioned contours of her face and her long body. He tried to remember why he'd loved her. Because he'd thought that she needed him, because she'd picked him out when no-one had ever picked him out before. Because he'd been pathetic. Still, he couldn't really hold that against her. She had loved him just as much as she could---only it had turned out that that hadn't been very much at all.
Eventually she had stopped talking and sat up a little to rub her hand down his chest. He'd smiled then with his eyes closed, breathing in her scent, as if she smelt of old and happy holidays, like brandy and plum pudding. But then she had hopped out of the bed to rummage in her little bag and sure enough, when she came back it was with her box of knives. She laid three out, in ceremonial fashion, in a row across Spike's chest. Then she settled back against the bedhead, with her hands in her lap and with an expectant air. And Spike could only hate this, because this part was always really about Angelus, and it wasn't something he'd ever actually enjoyed for its own sake, even when he'd been really really angry with her about the chaos demon and he was trying to win her back.
So he lay there (like someone dead, hah hah) until he heard her snort with frustration, and then he turned away from her, tipping the scalpels carefully onto the bed and then onto the floor, because Dru wasn't above stabbing him with them when she got pissed, which was going to be about---now. She started pounding his back with her fists as he leant over to pull on his trousers. Because they really were through. Because after a hundred years together they'd found out that Dru preferred Angelus and Spike preferred dog-racing.
By 2am Spike is in the graveyard, killing his own kind. It's the only bad habit he still has, now that he's stopped sending postcards to Dawn. Demons fight back, and that, for Spike, is the point. He feels a need to reach limits, test skills, risk himself. Humans are too feeble, piss-weak, no challenge there. He figures that's why, hours earlier, when he slapped that woman about, he didn't enjoy it at all. No glory, no thrill. But that's the conditioning again, just something he's got to work at until it breaks.
He'd felt nauseous when he'd finally left Sunnydale. For three days he'd knelt in front of a motel toilet, wanting to vomit but not sure if he could. He'd wanted to upchuck Buffy, puke her and her friends all the way out of him, round the U-bend, away to those sewers. He'd violently wished that he'd never met any of them.
And he wished that he couldn't remember what she'd felt like, her slick skin, her warmth, how her breasts had been just the right size to hold onto when he'd taken her from behind. Muscle against muscle, push against shove, and no fucking around with little knives and petty rituals. Just violence and desire.
He can't imagine how he could ever get there again, so he's not going to try. He's on his own now. No more laughingstock attempts at relationships, no more humiliating himself for no reason. It isn't worth it. You just never get out as much as you put in.
It's late, late at night now and the city streets are dark and empty. The only sounds are of his boots on the pavement and apartment airconditioners. This used to be his favourite time, when he would know, with a fair amount of certainty, that there was nothing faster, or stronger, or more skilled in the whole bloody town. He could go anywhere, break in anywhere, take what he wanted. The place was his.
The place is his.
He's in an older part of the city now, narrow apartment blocks with not enough parking space. The streets are lined end-to-end with cars and SUVs. He leaps up onto the boot of one of them, feels his foot sink just a little into the metal, steps up onto the top then back down onto the hood. He walks from car to car, just because he can, because the damage feels good beneath the soles of his feet.
If only he'd worked out before what his problem was, why his unlife had been so fucked-up for so long. But it had always been a bit of a blind spot for Spike---bit of a blind spot even for his human actually---no matter how many times people had tried to beat it into him.
It was all about knowing your place.
And Spike, well, he'd never much cared for rules and strictures, never really bothered with what he was supposed to do, only with what looked fun at the time, even if he knew (and he almost always knew) that what he wanted was not what was good for him. So he hadn't paid attention and it had all gone wrong.
Somewhere, Spike believes, the Powers That Be have a filing cabinet, probably (because he remembers what offices are like) somewhere in hell. And inside there is a list with his name on it which specifies his place in the universe. And it says "Evil.''
Which is fair enough, because he's a vampire, yeah?, and he's not sodding-sainted-he-always-gets-to-be-the-exception-bloody-Angel, is he? But it's meant that every time he's stepped out of line, even a little bit---WHAM---he gets hit. And what had he been doing? Hanging out with humans, getting to know them. He'd taken to beating up demons, even helped to save the world a couple of times. So no wonder he'd been crippled, dumped, sneered at, experimented on, tortured and abused ever since. He hadn't been doing what he was supposed to do.
And Spike hates that, he hates that he can't just do as he likes. But never let it be said (by anyone except Angelus) that Spike can't learn something when it's beaten into him, repeatedly, with a large stick. He's got the message now, thank you very much, he gets it. No-one wants a vampire that thinks for itself, that doesn't so much reject the script as doesn't bother to read it. Demons don't want it. The Powers don't want it. And Buffy and her crew sure as hell don't.
So he'll make it simple for them, then, if that's how it is, even if the coat doesn't feel as if it fits anymore.
'Cause it's not a bad gig, all in all. He knows he'll never make it to the realm of Mr Really-World-Destroying Evil, but if that means he's neither Angelus Mark II nor the God of Bad Home Dye-jobs, then that's fine. He'll stick with what he's good at, what he knows.
He'll be the everyday death of the unwary, the one who kills you for those little mistakes that don't seem much of a risk: the alley short-cut, the ride you accept when the last bus has gone, the man who picks a fight with you in the bar. He'll be at the funfairs and the truckstops and the late night stores, waiting for people to slip up. And then he'll punish their tiny misdemeanors even harder than his have been.
So he walks smoothly from car to car, looking out for someone to practice on, because he's knows he's not back at full strength yet, (but please know that he's trying and that they can stop kicking him in the teeth). Wondering why this doesn't feel fun any more.
Spike wants his unlife back.
Continued in Parker: Living Conditions