By Rachel A.
Part of The Geek Series
Spoilers: Through "Wrecked"
Summary: Two power junkies share a Christmas miracle. Actually, there is no miracle, but there's a creepy story.
Distribution: Sure. Just let me know where it's going.
Disclaimer: Don't own them, not making any money from this.
Feedback: Would be lovely!
Notes: This is my first Buffy fic ever. Scary. Thanks to Cynthia Liskow for her writing and gentle nudging which caused me to watch Buffy in the first place, and then for helping me through my very first story. Bet she's sorry she ever sent that Fool For Love tape. Thanks to Laura for putting up with my many and varied neurosis. And thanks to Lisa Germano for the title and a great writing soundtrack.
Yeah, sure, he's got nothing but time, and he's not averse to spending hour after endless hour dithering about, accomplishing less than nothing, but when there's something he wants, he wants it straight away, thank you very much. He's never had the willpower or the stealth to follow a plan through to its completion, never been able to keep a secret for longer than fifteen minutes, and never had the desire to torture a victim to death because it just takes too bloody long. If the water takes too long to boil, he throws the entire pot out the window.
He thinks she's worth waiting for, but God, it's getting tiresome.
He doesn't come to her house much anymore. It was easy for awhile. After a year and a half of stalking, begging, and finally making himself available as a one stop shop for all the slayer's physical and emotional punching bag needs, he was quite ready to sit back and let someone else do the work for a change. He'd been relatively confident that the memory of their fabulous shag-fest would haunt her mercilessly, that she'd recognize it for the thing of beauty that it was and come running back for more. He's still pretty sure that she will do just that, eventually, but fuck, it's Christmas.
He thinks it's probably a sort of sickness bringing him back here tonight, to the site of his past disgrace. The good old days of gazing through Buffy's window like an ineffectual sod should be long gone, but here he is again, sucking up the smidgen of pride he'd gained when he finally managed to stumble his way into her knickers.
It's easy to lose track of time here. Her bedroom light had been on when he first arrived, but about ten cigarettes ago she'd given her customary last glance out the window, allowing him a glimpse of her frustratingly modest pajamas, then switched off the lamp. He hopes he hasn't been staring into the darkness for more than a couple of hours. Either way, it's pretty obvious she isn't coming out to play tonight. He should really just leave.
He lights cigarette number fifteen and takes a deep breath, trying to taste the cold. He misses cold. Christmas doesn't seem very Christmassy without it. He misses winters in Paris, with Dru and Darla, after Daddy ran away from home. Or in New York, him and Dru skating in Rockefeller Center and snacking on Japanese tourists, the intoxicating aroma of the fear, frustration, excitement, and holiday depression of a million city dwellers mingling with the scent of roasting chestnuts on the street. He misses snow and dead trees and weather that was cold enough for the dead to feel. It never gets that cold in Sunnyhell, but sometimes he can taste it.
For a minute he lets himself get lost in the stupid nostalgia for holidays past, with the only thing resembling a family he's had since his turning, and he almost doesn't notice it when the front door of the house swings quietly open. Almost.
He peers, ever hopeful, but the small, huddled figure emerging from within isn't Buffy sneaking out for an illicit rendezvous, and it isn't Dawn just plain sneaking out. It's the other lady of the house, wrapped in a woven blanket, sitting on the front stoop, frail and nervous as a sickly bird.
He watches her from his pitifully visible "hideout", wondering if she knows or cares that he's there. Probably neither, judging by the look of her. She's shaking hard, possibly crying.
Withdrawal, he figures. She's trying to quit the magic, like it was nicotine or white powder, but he knows it's far worse than that. Physical addictions are easy. It's turning your back on a lifestyle to which you've grown accustomed, relinquishing your only power and your greatest success, that's the kicker.
It brings to mind his own experiences in the world of withdrawal, when the will to kill hadn't been moderately conditioned out of him, and the hunger pangs and the bloodlust were all he could feel. A time when love for the Slayer hadn't yet clouded his every word and deed. A time when the little witch showed him a strange sort of kindness. Kindness that no one else had to spare.
It had been, perhaps, the worst day of his life. The hour of his greatest humiliation. Chained up in the Watcher's bathtub, like a pig ready for roasting, he'd been trembling even worse than detox-Willow. The stupid git had wandered off somewhere and left Spike alone with no food for hours. It makes his insides curl to think of those first few days of confusion, fear, embarrassment, starvation, but she took a bad situation and made it...well, not good, but something less than abysmal.
She came looking for Buffy. She was annoyed to find no one but a neutered vampire in a tub. A neutered vampire who'd tried to kill her just a couple of days earlier. Given that, she was surprisingly sympathetic. He begged, and she brought him a nicely warmed cup of pig's blood and held it up for him to drink.
"Not exactly the good stuff, is it?" she asked when he was through. He shrugged. Beggars can't be choosers.
"It'll do, for now."
There was a thank you, lingering there on the back of his tongue, and she seemed to be waiting for it, just hovering on the edge of the tub with the empty mug in her hands. He didn't say it, and she didn't move. After a few minutes of stark silence broken only by the incessant drip drip of Giles' leaky faucet, he could tell she was getting uncomfortable. She'd always seemed uncomfortable though, back then. Fidgety and skittish.
Finally she sighed and looked him in the eye. "So, if it wasn't for Mister Chip, you would've killed me, right? I mean, that was the plan, wasn't it?"
"Uh, yeah, that's generally the plan in those sort of situations. Hungry vampire. Helpless human..."
"I'm not helpless!" she insisted, and he didn't really know what to say to that. She'd seemed pretty damned helpless when he'd had her pinned to her mattress, shrieking and writhing delightfully, but he wasn't about to throw stones. She wasn't the one presently hog-tied in a bathtub. "It's just...well, you're like this...animal, like a-a bear or a lion or something, and you have to eat people to live, but they made it so you can't, and it should be kind of...sad, but..."
He rolled his eyes. Like he needed her bloody pity. What was she babbling on about anyway? Was he supposed to care? And what did she mean, he was like an animal? He was prone to take that as an offensive comparison when it wasn't coming from someone he'd shagged.
"Not getting your point, Red. You feeling sorry for not feeling sorry for me?"
"I dunno. It's just...I-I had a...a friend, who was sort of in a similar situation. But not really, cause he didn't want to be the way he was, but he couldn't control it, and..."
"You talking about that wolf boy you're always hanging around with?" During his many hours of staking out the Slayer and all her little friends he'd seen Willow and her wolf doing much more than hanging around, but he restrained himself from mentioning the particulars. Didn't seem appropriate somehow.
She nodded quickly and then her frown became even more pronounced. Before he knew what in God's name he'd said wrong, she was crying. Hot little tears running down her pretty round face. Suddenly her despair was all around him. He could smell it, taste it. He wanted to taste her.
"He...he's gone," she panted out, and reached clumsily for the roll of toilet paper. She seemed to forget she was holding the mug, and it ended up clattering out of her hand and onto the floor. It cracked down the middle, and she sobbed into her tissues. "Oh, I broke iiit," she moaned, and blew her nose. It was one of the more pathetic displays he'd been witness to. But he knew she'd seen worse. She'd seen him, after Dru left.
"It's okay. I'm sure he's got a hundred more just like it," he offered lamely.
"Oh God, he's really gone," she whimpered. "He left me. Just like that. Just because..." she broke off into another sob, and something inside of him felt like it was ripping, listening to her. Yeah, it made him hungry, but it was also starting to make him terribly sad. What kind of a daft fucker would leave such a choice little bird? Sure, she had a tendency to babble incoherently, and sometimes she wore really embarrassing outfits, but she was cute as hell, and sweeter than candy. And the stupid bugger was a werewolf. Spike was pretty sure the ladies weren't exactly beating down his door. Who else would put up with that kind of nonsense?
"He's a fool, then."
She wiped at her eyes, shook her head. "No, he-he just...has...issues, like, the wolf thing, that I can't understand. That, um, other, you know, wolfie, skank-bucket creatures of the night can relate to. I guess."
She shrugged and sniffled. Didn't argue. Slowly, her tears began to subside, and eventually she smiled at him with sheepish embarrassment.
"Sorry," she said, tossing her soggy tissues into the toilet and flushing away the evidence. "Didn't mean to get all...depresso-girl on you."
"It'll be our secret," he promised, and, true to his word, he's never mentioned the incident to her or anyone else. At least, not directly. He may not have been particularly secretive about the fact that she was in desperate emotional pain, but bleeding hell, it should've been obvious.
She nodded solemnly, and whispered, "Thanks." Then she started for the door. Hand on the knob, she turned back to face him again. "Spike, what if...what if you had been able to bite me? Would you have really made me, um...fangy?"
"Yeah, probably," he told her. The truth was somewhat closer to "definitely", or maybe "hell yeah!" but she didn't have to know that. God knows she didn't have to know how significant her turning would've been.
He's only been a true sire to one vampire- a silly little boy he and Dru found one night, just weeks after his own transformation. He brought the boy back because he could, because it was new and thrilling and a spectacular power. He took him home, fully intent on raising and teaching him, because the thought of being so worshipped, so thoroughly relied upon, gave him an unbelievable rush. He didn't mind being Dru's slave, but he had a hankering for a slave of his own.
Darla staked the boy on sight. Apparently the family was big enough. At the time, she could hardly tolerate Spike himself, let alone his bastard child. She put up with him because he kept Dru away from Angelus for a few hours a night, but that's where her generosity ended.
It was the first staking Spike had ever seen, and watching his little son turn to dust sort of lessened the appeal of the whole siring bit. Also confused the hell out of him since neither Dru nor Angelus had bothered to tell him that the end of his existence was even a remote possibility. Eternal life indeed.
After that whole fiasco, he realized it was all for the better. He didn't need the responsibility of a hungry mouth to feed, other than his own, and besides, Dru was his mate. There was no point in making any other companions for himself. He turned a few here and there, just for kicks, but he never kept them around.
It wasn't until Dru left that his siring fantasy came back in full force. The loneliness kicked in, and he started looking again, scanning his kills, trying to intuit the best choice. Eternity's a damn long time, though, and most of the women he encountered were too irritating to contemplate sharing an evening with, let alone hundreds of years.
He hadn't been searching for a mate that dreadful night- just a meal, and a spot of revenge- but something happened when he saw Willow. William the Bloody cried out from where he lay, buried deep inside of Spike's mind and heart, and said "Take her, for God's sake! She's the one!" And Spike knew that he was right. William and Willow were soulmates, of a sort. Geeky compatriots. He sensed that her vampish persona would get along equally well with his, and he had a peculiar feeling of certitude that turning her would be making things right for the both of them.
Plus, you know, bagging the Slayer's best friend. Separate, but equally compelling appeal.
"What would that've been like?" she asked, finally.
"Fun," he answered with an intentionally malevolent grin.
"No, I mean... for me."
"Yeah, I know."
"No, I mean..." she sighed and gestured meaninglessly with her hands. He was pretty sure she had no idea what she meant, but he thought he might.
"You wanna know what it's like to be a vampire? What it would be like for you? How you'd change? Think being a fellow creature of the night might bring Wolf Boy back to you?"
"Um, sort of. And yes. And, also yes, and then...probably not, but it's maybe worth a shot?"
"You'd be you, only evil," he told her. It was, perhaps, an overly simplistic explanation. But it was almost certainly accurate. Spike knew that he was actually further from his human self than most vampires, but that was only because he'd spent the better part of a century crafting a new identity, beating his old one into submission. He'd taken his vampirism as a prime opportunity for self-transformation, but most of his kind just continued on as they had in life. Well, with the whole killing and blood-sucking thing tacked on.
"I saw myself as a vampire once," she said, strangely chipper all of a sudden. "I was evil. Really really. And I dressed all goth and death-like, and I think I liked girls."
Great, there was another bit of fun he was missing out on because of the stupid, sodding chip. Trampy Willow playing with girl-toys. Oh well, at least he had another image to save for his mental jack-off file. He wondered if he'd ever get the chance to bite her again.
"I didn't seem to care about anything, either," she continued wistfully. "I mean, I just didn't care. It was like I had no feelings other than 'Grr, I'm evil! Obey me!' Is that what it's like? Do you still have feelings? Cause right about now, not having feelings? It's starting to seem like a really good plan."
"You'd have feelings. Lots of them. They'd probably be even more vivid than what you're feeling now."
"But, would they be bad, depressed feelings? Do vampires get depressed?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "Suicidally. Ferociously. Becoming a vampire's not a cure for the blues, love. Try Xanax."
"Oh, well, that's...kind of a let down," she said, deflating again, sagging against the door with a sigh.
"Wouldn't bring him back, either. If anything, it'd drive him further away. Wolves and vamps don't get along."
"Right. Well...yeah. Guess it's a good thing you didn't have your, um....way. With me. I mean, it's good to be...human. Right?"
"Wasn't for me, but to each his own."
She just kind of stood there, hovering awkwardly for a minute or two. Wringing her hands. Chewing her lips. She seemed to be out of questions.
"Well, I...I guess I should...leave," she stammered. "So you can...do your whole, um, tub thing."
"You're a bit of all right, honey. Don't let anyone tell you different."
She smiled softly, but her eyes were still full of torment.
"Thanks, Spike. I'm not really sure what 'bit of all right' means, but it sounds pretty okay. And, um, thanks for listening and being....well, kind of nice. Not like you had much of a choice about the listening thing, being all restrained like you are, but..."
"It was fine. Thanks for the blood."
"Yeah, no problem. I guess I'll um, see you again at snacktime."
He nodded, and almost let her go, but it seemed like a bit of a waste to end it there. She was still so vulnerable and soft and, dammit, he was supposed to be evil! Why wasn't he taking more advantage?
"All right, then," he said. "Just give us a kiss and be on your way."
He watched with a sort of boyish glee as her spine stiffened. She twisted her head around quickly to look at him and he moistened his lips suggestively.
"A...a kiss. Right."
She was so obedient back then, so used to following orders and being a little trooper. It was so fucking easy it actually scared him a little. She didn't belong in this world.
She approached the tub slowly, like a trapper moving towards a tranquilized mountain lion. When she reached the tub she dropped to her knees, then planted a tiny kiss on the corner of his mouth.
She lingered there for a few lovely seconds and he took advantage of her generosity by turning towards her and capturing her mouth with his own. He lunged for her, as much as anybody in his state could lunge for anyone, and pressed his tongue forcefully against her lips.
To this day he doesn't know exactly what came over him in that moment. It was a kind of dementia, really. He knows he wanted it, wanted her, and that he certainly got his share of prurient jollies out of it, but there was more to it than that. More that he's not been sufficiently motivated to consider, until tonight.
He wanted her to reject him, he realizes. To slap him, and wipe her mouth and act the part of the offended, violated princess.
He wanted it for her sake, to give her the chance to be the object of unwanted desire, be the big woman and turn him down, feel better about herself and whatnot. He wanted it for his sake, because it was what he was used to, what he'd grown to expect from women. It was an endless scene that had been played out so many times he knew it by heart. It was simple. It wasn't complicated or confusing, like all the other things that happened when she talked to him that day. It would have been a right quick way to stifle the tenderness for her, which he felt growing in the black chambers of his heart like a sickly weed.
He wanted her to be afraid of him. He was supposed to be big and scary and aggressive and she was supposed to be afraid.
She didn't reject him. She didn't slap him. She didn't cry or scream or take out a pointy piece of wood. She just crouched next to the tub, making little squeaky sounds and letting him kiss her. Silly girl even parted her lips for him. She tasted like salty loneliness and candy.
He could only take it for a minute or so. It was just too much.
As soon as he pulled back she seemed to get her senses back a bit. She stood up slowly, and he wasn't in the least gratified to see that her knees were trembling. She backed towards the door. He had to look away from her bright red face.
"I...uh... I think my...whatever I had in the oven is, uh, burning...so...BYE!"
And with that, she was gone, never to return without the rest of the gang as backup. And he thought, why didn't I ask her to unchain me?
He can't remember being alone with her ever again, after that day.
At the time, he didn't think it was possible for things to get more cocked up than they already were. Didn't think he could be more confused and angry and frustrated. How bloody wrong he'd been.
She's not crying anymore, and he knows he should really be going now, but the thought of returning to the dank, dark, well-decorated hole he calls a home is even less appealing than usual. Maybe it's not too late to save this Christmas from utter, pathetic dreariness.
He walks up to the house and sits down on the stoop, at her side.
"Smoke?" he offers, holding out the pack and lighting one of his own.
"No, thanks. Um, Buffy's asleep. And I'm not supposed to let you in."
She shivers and hugs the blanket closer to her body. He doesn't think to offer her his jacket.
"So, did you have a good Christmas?" he asks. "Do Jewish Wiccans celebrate Christmas?"
"Sort of. Yeah, we do. It was okay. Do vampires celebrate Christmas?"
He takes a long drag and considers the question. Some vampires do, some don't. He's always acknowledged it as a holiday, but he'd hardly call today's alternate pacing, moping and hitting inanimate objects a celebration.
"We do. Mostly. S'not exactly my favorite holiday, though. Prefer the Fourth of July, myself. You know, the noise and explosions and what all."
She's not listening. Just as well. He's not saying anything. He tries to think of something to say that she will listen to, some pearl of wisdom that will help her somehow, some reason for him to be sitting up here on the stoop with her other than abject loneliness, but there's really nothing.
He finishes his cigarette and she pulls her knees up to her chest.
"You know how many people I killed, the first night I went hunting?" he asks.
"Um, no. Is this a Christmas story?"
"Twenty-three. To make up for the twenty-three miserable years I'd lived as a human."
He doesn't know why he's talking about this. He's got her attention though, and it seems like it could be relevant in a completely tangential sort of way.
"That wasn't the first time I'd eaten, mind you. Dru and Angelus had been feeding me for a couple weeks before that, bringing scabby vagabonds to the house and teaching me how to kill and feed. But it was the first time I'd been out, choosing my own prey and pursuing it."
"Spike, no offense but, this is creepy. I mean...you know?"
"Yeah, well, it's either listen to me or go back inside and try to fend off the shakey wakeys by your lonesome."
She sighed audibly and blew some snot into a tissue she'd pulled out of her sweater sleeve. "All right, go on with the Christmas death."
"Twenty-three's a pretty high number, generally speaking. And I wasn't even very good at it at first. Angelus had to hold the first few down, and I even let one get away half-bit. But once I got the hang of it, it was like I couldn't stop. Angelus had to knock me out and drag me back home before I ate the entire city and got us all burned at the stake. Which, I sort of ended up doing anyway at a later date, but that's not important right now."
"Do you know what it was? Why I couldn't stop?"
"I dunno. Sometimes I eat a potato chip and it tastes so good that I end up scarfing down the whole bag. Was it like that?"
"Well, sort of, but mostly it was the power. See, until that night, I didn't have any. Killing was the first taste of power I'd ever gotten. It made me feel alive for the first time, which was sort of ironic since I was dead, but nevertheless it was very compelling. I felt like...somebody special, you know?"
"Um, sort of."
"I think you do. I think you know exactly what I mean, and that's really your problem. It's not as easy as swearing off some random act like magic or killing- it's a whole identity issue, a whole loss of power thing. That's what you've gotta start thinking about. Not, 'I'm not gonna do magic anymore' but, 'what am I without magic'? You've gotta think about what's valuable in you, what people love aside from the magic. And you've gotta figure out why you're such a bloody control freak, and why you feel so powerless without the magic. Why you rely on it to solve all of your emotional problems when you're perfectly capable of dealing with them on your own. Why you can't just grow up already. Right?"
Well, that got her attention. She's staring at him like he's been speaking in tongues and frothing at the mouth.
"Spike...that's...what are you, the door to door Vampire Psychiatrist? You don't know anything about my problems."
"Sure I do. Your problem is that you've built this whole comfortable super-hero identity around being the all-powerful witch, and it's really important for you to keep that because dealing with things as a witch is so much easier than dealing with things as a person. But it's also really important for you to be loved, and the person who loves you doesn't care too much for the all-powerful witch thing so now you've gotta chose."
"Spike, you're still talking about yourself. My problem is that..."
"What? What's your problem, Willow? What is it really?"
There's a desperate edge to his voice. A plea. He's so close to having it all sorted out in his head. If she could just give him the missing link, it would all click into place and he'd be free.
"It's that...what if-what if, when you take away the witch *and* you take away the person who loves me, what if I'm just...just a big old loser? What if my 'true identity' is just... Geek the Girl?"
Nope. No freedom. No clicking into place. Just a sad sense of recognition and the knowledge that she's still lying to herself about a lot of things. And, on top of that, the feeling that, in another place and another time, he could've been happy with Geek the Girl. He could've been gentle with her, and loving, and they could've both become something more. Something great.
But that isn't for him now. It isn't in him. And she wouldn't want it.
"Who cares if you're a geek? Geek the Girl is a better identity than, say, JoJo the Dog-faced Boy or Willow the Psychopathic, Power-crazed Witch From Hell. There's nothing wrong with being a geek."
She doesn't believe him. Or maybe she just doesn't care what he thinks. Whatever small bit of influence he might've held over her at one point has vanished completely. He's not capable of cheering her up anymore, not even for a minute.
He wants to teach her to love her inner geek, to remind her that he'd wanted that loser of a girl, once upon a time, and to tell her that his inner geek and hers could've been soul mates, if things were different. But that would mean admitting he has an inner geek, which he's not up for right now.
She's still shivering and he's still wearing his coat and it's probably not even Christmas anymore, but he can't go home and neither can she.
She's not easy tonight, or obedient, or soft. But she still smells the same, and he's sure she still tastes the same too.