Setting: Post-As You Were
Interlude - Catharsis
Most nights, the idea that a town located on a Hellmouth would actually support a thriving Goth club was a source of amusement; college students and young professionals playing at being Creatures of the Night, the very thing they denied existed during daylight hours. Spike had found the place on his first trip to Sunnydale but it was only after he'd settled into life as a chipped wonder that he'd begun to patronize it regularly. He would sit, drink and laugh at the Anne Rice wannabes, enjoying the peculiar feeling of superiority it provided him. He enjoyed being a regular, having casual acquaintances who stopped to say hello, the bartender who knew how he liked his drinks. There were a few ladies who asked him to join them on the floor on a regular basis, but nothing had ever progressed beyond that. For one thing, he was certain some had figured out he was a vampire. The club's owner certainly had.
The other reason he'd ignored veiled invitations was why he was grateful he was welcome to occupy a corner table as long as he wanted, drinking brandy and pouring his heart onto the page. Rupert, I'm about to make you very happy
He didn't even know if he'd mail the letter; the words were raw, intimate, with none of the caution or consideration he usually used when writing Giles. All he had was the hope that if he put his feelings into words, the ache might somehow be less.
Picking up his glass, Spike took another sip and closed his eyes as he felt the brandy burn a fiery trail down his throat. For an instant, his mind flung him back across the years and he could almost see himself in his rooms at Cambridge, feeling sophisticated as he drank brandy and wrote bad poems to the goddess of the moon instead of reading his Latin text.
That caused his eyes to open and the glass to return to the table with a sharp click. God, he'd been such a poncy git during his undergraduate days. Going on and on about beautiful things, refusing to acknowledge anything that might be unpleasant. "Do not have anything in your home which you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful," William Morris had said. William the Git had embraced only the first half of the statement, a desperate attempt to shut out the less pleasant aspects of his life.
William. She'd called him William and meant it. Was it because Buffy had wanted him to know how serious she was or because she finally saw the man behind the monster? The part of him that was William clung desperately to the hope that if she saw the man, he might one day have a chance.
The part of him that was Spike wanted to make Sunnydale burn and the Slayer pay for her rejection of him.
A third part knew he could never cause Buffy great pain; he wanted to make her sting, feel some of what he felt, but he loved her too much to truly hurt her. That part also knew that if she walked in at this moment and said she'd reconsidered, he'd gather her into his arms.
More words onto the page, telling of Riley Finn's return. Hurtful words, explosions. Spending the night outside wondering what had gone so terribly wrong. Creeping home at first light to survey the damage.
Spike sensed rather than saw the woman standing next to his table. Looking up, he found his waitress watching him. Like the others, she was dressed in something straight out of a Dracula movie, tight black velvet bodice over a black chiffon skirt, though the burgundy streaks in her shoulder-length hair didn't quite go with the outfit. "Another one?"
He considered the glass and the small amount in it. With one quick motion, he downed it and held it out to her. "Another two."
That earned him a raised eyebrow, but Tarantula took the glass and headed for the bar. So what if he'd had three already? There was money in his pocket for once and he wasn't so far drunk that he'd cause difficulty for Harry or any of his customers.
The pages he'd already written were spread out on the table before him. Picking up the pen, he continued, detailing his last conversation with Buffy. It was like a damn had broken, the words coming rapidly now. Thoughts spilled directly onto the paper with no pause for interpretation or consideration.
Even with everything, I still love her.
He was done. The words were all said and all that was left was to sign his name. He did so, and reached for the envelope he'd previously addressed. Before his courage left him, he folded the pages, shoved them inside and licked the flap before closing it.
"It's been a while since we've been graced with a truly broody vampire."
Spike looked up, not bothering to hide his annoyance. "Wrong vampire. You want broody, go to LA."
Harry chuckled as he took the chair on the opposite side of the table. "Considering you are the only one I've actually had a conversation with, I think that would be difficult."
Tarantula chose that moment to return and place the two brandy snifters on the table. Without asking, Harry reached out and took one. "I wanted to thank you for the idea of the squirt bottles for the holy water. Came in quite handy the other night."
"Seemed like a good idea," Spike said with a shrug. It'd been during the summer that he'd first approached Harry with some suggestions on handling some of Sunnydale's more unsavory and undead denizens after dusting three in one evening, the last in a dark corner of the club. The man had taken Spike's rantings about just wanting a quiet evening without having to play cleanup because he was busy doing that elsewhere surprisingly well. A week later, Spike found himself conducting Vampire 101 for the club employees and designing a basic protection supply list. The work earned him a few hundred a month and half-priced drinks at the bar.
"And your suggestion about negotiating a bulk rate at the Magic Box worked out quite well. I should tell Anya it was you who suggested I talk to her; she might give you a commission."
"No!" The word came out a little more forcefully than Spike had intended. "I mean, I'm not really looking for a commission or anything like that -- I'd just rather Anya didn't know I was involved."
Anya would wonder how Spike was familiar with Harry. Then she would tell Xander, because it was obvious Anya told Whelp everything, although Spike had to wonder how much Xander bothered to hear. The way Spike's luck went, though, Xander would hear that bit of news and spread the word to Willow and Buffy, all of whom would come tromping in to see what big bad evil he could possibly be up to in this place. Not only would Spike lose a retreat that was his and his alone, but given the way the Scoobies dressed, Harry wouldn't thank him for their presence. Harris in particular would bring the tone way down.
He reached for the brandy, still chasing the warmth to numb the pain. Writing had helped, but there was still a big hole inside his chest. "I saw you writing," Harry noted. "Finally writing your memoirs? Still say you'd be as big as Anne Rice, possibly bigger."
"Don't get me going on Anne Rice. You know my opinion there." Spike took another swallow. Most of the regulars knew as well, thanks to Spike getting rather drunk at one point and holding forth extensively as to why she was just wrong. That had been at one hundred and twenty-three days after Glory.
"The best revenge is living well. Write your own book and outsell her." Harry chuckled. "That's why I started this place. Someone else had one, but it was filled with idiots who went on and on about the 'Lonely Ones.' All soppy and high school gothic romance ignoring the unpleasant parts. We live in a place where there's a tremendous amount of supernatural activity and most of it's not friendly. I give people somewhere where they can play at the darker, more dangerous sides of their nature before they go back to their humdrum lives and pretend none of this exists."
Spike winced and swallowed the rest of his drink in one gulp, desperately wanting the burn of alcohol down his throat. You just love to play the thought that you might misbehave
When he put the glass down, Harry was looking at him, all humor gone from his face. "Okay, I think I just overstepped a line there. I haven't seen you like this since "
"Since the summer, which I do not want to talk about." He didn't care that his voice was snappish; he hurt and there was a great temptation to lash out at something. The chip would go off, but then he could concentrate on the pain in his head instead of the pain in his chest.
"Fair enough. I'll have Tarantula get you another snifter since I stole one of yours." Harry stood, started to turn away, but turned back. "I meant what I said. The best revenge is living well. Come on in Saturday. I've got a new band in you might enjoy. You can charm the ladies and that might make you feel better. Your recent absence has been noted."
Spike shook his head. "Can't. Believe it or not, I have a wedding to go to on Saturday."
"Ah. I think I understand." His eyes flicked down to the table. "Want me to mail that for you?"
"Haven't stamped it yet "
"No problem. I'll just add it to your bar tab." Harry scooped the letter up and walked away.
Spike stare at his empty glass, Harry's words setting themselves up on a nice replay loop in his head. Living well he certainly wasn't doing that at the moment, what with a destroyed crypt, broken relationship and mangled heart. Funny thing was that he now felt like tucking his tail between his legs and running out of town seemed like giving up, like he'd been beaten down and proved to be everything that had been said about him.
So what to do? Clean out the mess downstairs first, decide what he needed to keep and what needed to go. Stop flopping at the Crawford Street place because it didn't smell of Buffy, didn't remind him of her everywhere he looked. Crawford Street belonged to Angel; the crypt was Spike's home. It would take time, but he could rebuild; maybe not in the same way, but for his own comfort. Maybe he'd get a nicer TV.
Yeah, that's what he'd do. Live well and show that his world hadn't ended just because Buffy left him. He'd survived when Dru had left and he could do it again. In fact, he wanted Buffy to see he could do just fine without her. He'd show up at the wedding on Saturday with a smile on his face, all right with the world. Maybe he'd even bring a date like Harris had suggested.
He knew exactly what type of date he'd like to show up with: tall, leggy, with a body that wouldn't quit. Someone who would cause every male head to turn and envy him. That would show her. Not hurt her, but give Buffy a little twinge that it could have been her on his arm.
He was starting to feel just the tiniest bit of warmth inside and knew the brandy had begun to work its way into his system. It was a great plan, but his problem was to find the right girl. For a moment, he thought about asking one of the ladies he knew at Armand's, but quickly nixed the thought. This wasn't the time to be giving mixed signals, and he didn't actually want to go with someone who thought this might be a signal they were seeing each other. For one thing, he couldn't quite rid himself of the image of Buffy throwing herself at him, insanely jealous, telling him and everyone else that she'd been wrong and she did love him. It was a lovely thought, even if it would never happen.
The other thing was that he didn't really want to lead anyone on, set them up to be hurt like he'd been. Which left out just about every girl he knew.
Tarantula appeared with the promised drink. As she put it down, Spike looked up with a grin. "Doing anything Saturday afternoon, pet? I've got a proposition for you "
Continued in Entry 8 - Pain