SUMMARY: Spike drowns his sorrows at Caritas after losing the gem of Amara.
SPOILER WARNING: None set AtS Season 1, immediately after 'In The Dark'. (Does include references to 'The Gift')
RATING: PG 13
DISCLAIMER: "The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui, Sandollar, and David Greenwalt Productions, 20th Century Fox, and whoever else may have a hold upon them. The situation is wholly mine, and I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights."
NOTES: Big thanks to Kassie for Beta-ing the initial draft and to Herself and the Bitches for all their encouragement.
FEEDBACK: That would be a big fat 'yes'.
This whole martyrdom thing really, really got on his wick. Hanging there like bloody Saint Sebastian, or whoever that fella with all the arrows in his gut was, like a poncy great hedgehog. With hair gel. It just *killed* him, all this turn-the-other-cheek bullshit Angelus was pulling these day. Time was when Angelus would have flayed the cheeks right off a person and stood laughing in their blood. He realised as soon as he'd got Angel strung up that somehow the balance of power was still with the older vampire, and that just pissed him off no end. Thought: He's just *loving* this The Scourge of Europe doing penance, all "look-at-me, -I'm-so-sorry-for-all-the-maiming-and-butchery, -look-at-me-hanging-here-all-beautiful-and-guilt-ridden, -paying-for-my-sins."
Remembered strutting around while that treacherous fucking torture demon did his thing, taunting his Sire and waiting for the rush to come the anticipated exhilaration at having the poncy great lummox trussed up and at his mercy, being able to punish him at leisure for all this *shit.*
But the rush never came. Which really sucked, because it ought to mean something that he had Angelus in chains and screaming. (God knows he'd spent enough hours bleeding in manacles himself, suffering for his Sire's pleasure. Well, Grand-Sire if you wanted to be pedantic about it. But still.)
It shouldn't feel so - cheap. So futile.
That's for Dru, you bastard, he thought to himself as Marcus obligingly jammed a hot poker into Angel's smooth white flesh. (Creepy little bugger, that Marcus. *Treacherous*, creepy little bugger. Christ, you really couldn't trust anyone.) That's for taking her from me overnight, wiping out a century of her and me just by walking back in the bloody door. And that's for leaving us in the first place. That's for leaving me, you self-righteous sonofabitch. I'm going to have that gem and I'm going to walk in the sunshine and maim and slaughter and then go for a nice walk on the beach and eat ice-cream, while you're lurking in the shadows like the whiny little poof you are.
That's for leaving me.
It all tasted of ashes. And then Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber arrived and it all went to Hell in a hand-basket.
* * *
"O pos. Make it a double. No, bugger that for a game of soldiers I'll have a large Jack Daniels."
Spike had searched every inch of the damned warehouse, and there was no denying that Marcus had stolen the gem. Accordingly, he had spent the remaining hours of sunlight in a futile search for Marcus (because even though he knew perfectly well that the wretched vamp would be living it up in direct sunlight somewhere, he had to do *something* and prowling bad temperedly through shadowy alleyways and sewers was the best he could come up with) culminating in his arrival at the first demon bar he could find, gem-less, Marcus-less and thoroughly pissed off. It was early evening yet, but there were quite a few customers already mostly demons but with a sprinkling of thrill-seeking humans. Bar snacks. Nice.
Ramon, the bartender, looked at the vampire quizzically to see if he planned on changing his mind again in a hurry.
"You could go for a cocktail best of both worlds," he suggested helpfully. "Bloody Mary's popular, but some guys like rum or Jack Daniels with blood, something like that?"
Spike, rummaging bleakly through his pockets for a lighter, looked up at the bartender with a sudden smile.
"Hell yes. I'll have a large Bloody Mary. None of that Pig's blood crap, mind you, I want the good stuff. . . do you do buffalo wings?"
* * *
He'd heard about this karaoke lark, of course, but this was the first time Spike had found himself actually in a karaoke bar. Didn't realise that demons went in for that sort of thing, but then there were a helluva lot of demons in Japan, now he came to think about it, so it maybe figured. There were presently three Skilosh demons clustered round the microphone solemnly singing "I've got you under my skin" with a complete disregard for little things like notes, rhythm and melody. Spike was pissing himself laughing at them when a green demon in a shiny red suit sidled up to him.
"Sorry, Cheekbones, but I'm going to have to have you thrown out if you don't play nice with the other kids," said the demon good-naturedly. "I mean, you're right, you're right they've got all the musical sophistication of a moose in heat. A tone-deaf moose in heat. But if you don't keep it down I'll be forced to have you kicked out on your cute little ass. And I'd much rather be able to admire it from across the room, so *please* try to restrain yourself a little, precious."
Spike considered taking offence, but realised on balance that he really couldn't be arsed to. It was so much easier to stay here than to get into a big row and then slouch off in search of another boozer. He looked the green bloke up and down thoughtfully.
"This your place then, Horny?" he inquired.
The green demon positively pouted. "You'd better not start using soubriquets like *that* unless you expect me to get all Mae West," he said, batting his eyelashes. "Just call me The Host. You're new in town, I take it?"
Spike nodded. "Just passing through." He nodded over at the Skilosh demons, who were nearing the end of their song. "Mate, I gotta tell you - I've seen and heard a lot of horrifying things in my time been responsible for most of them, actually - but this really takes the biscuit. Don't it drive you up the wall?" The Host gave a little grimace.
"Well, I'm not exactly expecting any of them to be discovered by A & R men for a major label anytime soon although Koth over there has a gorgeous voice, sounds more like Aretha than Aretha does." Spike followed the green demon's gaze to stare incredulously at something with pincers like a crab and entirely too many legs. "But music's music. And besides, they need to sing for me if I'm going to read them properly." Spike took another sip of his drink while he processed this statement.
"So what are you meant to be then, pet, some kind of demon fortune teller? You got yourself a set of crystal balls hidden in that red suit?"
"Give the boy a gold star," replied the green demon, accepting a glass from the bartender. "Ramon, you are a *treasure*. Mmm·just the way I like it. Yes, my pointy-toothed friend, I do tell fortunes, but as for the contents of my Calvins, crystal or otherwise, that's for me to know and you to wonder about. We're quite the fresh prince of no air, aren't we? But yes, I do have a modest little gift from the Powers That Be. I try to set people on their paths but they have to sing first for me to be able to read them properly, so if you'll excuse me, I have to go and have a word with the three stooges over there now that they've finished delighting us with their musical stylings." He raised his voice as he headed towards the stage. "Wasn't that marvellous, boys and girls? Let's hear it for Zan, Gath and Hayzar! And now I think that Liz is going to give us 'I need a Hero'."
Spike watched The Host depart and thought about Paths and about The Powers that Be. While he thought, he ordered another drink from the obliging bartender. Liz, who turned out to be far less feminine and far more scaly than one might have hoped, mounted the stage and segued valiantly into the song. The very best that could be said for Liz's performance was that it was enthusiastic, but Spike contented himself with an expression of incredulity broken by the occasional contemptuous snort rather than actually laughing out loud this time. He was thinking.
The Bloody Mary was bloody good, no question about it. He had another. And then another.
* * *
Actually, Spike really couldn't understand why he hadn't tried karaoke before now. The spotlight, the attention, the opportunity to posture and strut with a microphone·it could have been designed expressly for him. His rendition of "My Way" would've done Sid proud. He'd moved onto beers and was holding a bottle of Czech Pilsner (hated the goddamned Czechs, but they did know a lot about beer) in one hand and a cigarette pinched between two fingers of the other, which was wrapped round the microphone. He punctuated his song with alternating slugs of beer and smoke. He felt *terrific* - talk about catharsis, all those whinging sods on the talk shows who thought *they* had dysfunctional families just wanted to get a microphone and yell at the top of their lungs. God, he was buzzed!
The audience - who may have made the mistake of expecting an homage to Mr Sinatra rather than to Mr Vicious - seemed slightly shell shocked when Spike finished. Or it could be that he'd rendered them temporarily deaf. After a slight pause they began to applaud hesitantly, possibly in the hopes it would appease him and get him off the stage. It worked. In a much more ebullient frame of mind, Spike bounced over to the green demon and flung himself into the chair next to The Host to get his fortune told.
The Host looked at the blond vampire narrowly over the rim of his glass.
"My eardrums are going to take weeks to recover from that," he said in an even voice. "And as for your *aura* move over Northern Lights, that's all I can say. Aren't we the pretty little poster child for Oedipal complexes? Although there's definitely a splash of Electra in there too·either way, I certainly wouldn't want to be there for Christmas get-togethers at *your* place, honey."
Spike shrugged cheerfully and swigged his beer. "We're vampires, mate. It's not exactly 'The Waltons', you know. But sod the lot of 'em I'm not a pack animal, I'm a man-eating demon, for Christ's sake - a solitary predator, a lone wolf. . . I'm a goddamned tiger. So tell me my fortune, Kermit but it'd better not involve meeting a tall dark stranger and taking a long journey overseas, 'cause I've been there, done that and splattered blood all over the sodding T-shirt. OK?"
"Methinks the lady doth protest too much. . . newsflash, sugar, you aren't over them. You're never going to be completely over them. But I'm not seeing any tall, dark strangers in your immediate future." The Host smiled. "Quite the opposite, in fact. Anyway, you're about to, ahem, come into money from an unexpected source and I'm also getting some powerful unfinished business vibes, and I do mean *powerful*. I'm seeing heartbreak round the corner - there's a pretty little blonde thing you've left in Sunnydale, isn't there? She's really gotten under your skin, that one." Spike looked bemused.
"Harm? Silly little cow. I mean, she goes like a bunny but I've never met a more irritating female in my entire unlife. And if you'd met my immediate family you would realise that really is saying something. I haven't broken her heart. Tried to stake it, mind you, but I haven't broken it. I don't think. Actually, I really don't give a toss whether I've broken her stupid bleeding heart. And as for her breaking mine you have got to be having a laugh, pal. The hell with Sunnydale I'm not going back there anytime in the next hundred years." He scowled petulantly. "Flaming Slayer's in Sunnydale, isn't she? Why would I go back there?"
The Host directed a very knowing look in Spike's direction.
"Whatever you say, Cheekbones. I just say what I see. And I'm seeing some interesting times ahead and some pretty big changes. Quite the makeover, power-wise. As for the Slayer well, the good news is that a whole lot of misery is heading her way and I promise that you are going to be right there when it happens. And what's more, you're going to be there when she dies."
Spike nearly dropped his beer.
"Dies?" he exclaimed, astounded. "Muffy the Vampire Layer is going to die? Soon?"
The Host's expression was difficult to read, but he nodded. Spike felt a surge of exhilaration laced with·something else that he couldn't just put his finger on at the minute.
"Ha!" he said, because it seemed appropriate. "And I'm going to be there? Am I going kill her?"
"More or less," said the green demon carefully. Spike was stunned. For some reason he didn't feel as delighted as he'd expected to in this situation, but he thought that was probably just because it hadn't sunk in yet.
"Ha! That'll bloody well teach him to pinch my bird, the mopey great pansy! Nice one, Kermit! Anything else I should know?" The Host looked thoughtful for a moment and then smiled.
"I know you've got your black leather panties in a bunch about losing that gem and missing out on all those sunrises - but I can tell you that once The Slayer is dead you will have nothing to fear from Dawn. You need. To get back. To Sunnydale. Am I making myself clear yet?"
The vampire was speechless. His forgotten cigarette had burned down to nothing while the green demon revealed Spike's glittering future. An awed expression on his face, Spike downed the last of his beer, stubbed out the smouldering fag butt and then rose a little unsteadily to his feet.
"Yeah, clear as crystal, pet. Right," he said purposefully. "I'll be off then. Places to go, people to kill."
The Host watched Spike stalk off through the bar, black duster flapping importantly, and grinned to himself.
"I should write fortune cookies," he said smugly. "You're certainly going to be one surprised bunny·but it's what you want, really. You just don't know it yet." He glanced down at his empty glass disapprovingly and waved at the approaching bartender. "Oh, Ramon? Another·oh, you read my mind. If I'm not careful you're going to be doing the fortune telling around here."
Sipping his fresh Seabreeze appreciatively, The Host turned his attention back to the stage.