RATING: NC-17 overall
SPOILERS: Season 6 through "As You Were".
DISCLAIMER: All hail Joss Whedon, UPN, the WB, FOX, Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. GO team! Theirs, not mine.
DISTRIBUTION: Please ask my permission first, just so I know where it's headed.
FEEDBACK: Sure, fire away to firstname.lastname@example.org
I walked into the diner on the outskirts of Sunnydale and bought a pack of cigarettes. I opened my lighter and lit one, inhaling deeply.
"You can't smoke in here," said an amused voice. I looked up into Tara's face. She wore a light blue waitress' outfit, a little white cap on her head. She looked exhausted, with circles under her eyes and limp hair.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her.
"I work here," she said, indicating her outfit. She gestured at an empty booth. "Want some coffee?" I nodded. She put a coffee cup down and filled it, then sat down across from me.
I took a sip of coffee. "This stuff tastes like dirt," I said. I pulled a road map out of my pocket and opened it out between us.
"That's because it's fresh," she replied. "Otherwise it would just taste like mud." She grinned at me and I couldn't help but smile back. She looked down at the map on the table. "Are you going somewhere?"
"Sunnydale has seen the last kicking of my ass," I replied. "I'm done."
"What happened?" she said.
"Don't want to go into it." Talking wouldn't help this particular problem.
"Was it something with Buffy?" She looked at me intently, like she was trying to peer inside my head.
"What does Buffy have to do with me?" I said dryly, as I finished my coffee.
"You two aren't seeing each other?"
I looked up, surprised. "No, safe to say I'm done seeing any part of the Slayer now."
"So you're running away?" She looked dismayed.
"I'm not running away, I'm deciding to leave." That's a whole different vibe.
She looked at me disapprovingly. "Where are you planning on going?"
"Don't know yet," I said truthfully.
"Tara!" called a fat woman from behind the counter.
"I get off in fifteen minutes," she said. "Wait for me outside."
I sat on the roof of my car and smoked a cigarette. The lights blinked off in the restaurant and Tara walked out behind the other woman. "Goodnight, Marge," Tara called as the other woman got into her car and drove off.
"That one's a real charmer," I commented.
"She's just had a hard life, that's all." Tara rolled her shoulders and rubbed her eyes.
"Can I give you a lift somewhere?" I could at least offer her that.
She gave me a grateful smile. "That would be great. It's a long walk and it's not a great area."
We drove back into Sunnydale. The area we were heading for was the bad part of town; down by the docks. Tara directed me into the parking lot of a rundown motel. "This is where you're living?" I asked her.
"It's the best I can do," she explained. "I help clean the rooms and I can stay for free."
"I thought you lived at the college," I replied.
She shook her head. "There were no rooms available. I didn't apply at the beginning of the semester, since I was with Willow." She looked uncomfortable.
I stopped the car and got out. I opened her car door for her and followed her to her door. "Come inside," she said before I could remind her that I needed to be invited.
She turned on the lights and we heard bugs skittering for cover. A roach ran across my foot and I stomped it dead. "Lovely place you've got here," I observed.
"It's the best I can do," she said simply. She had made an effort to liven up the dreary room. An orange scarf was draped over the lamp and she had hung prints on the walls. A large afghan covered the bed with a riot of colors.
She slipped off her coat and hung it on a peg on the wall on her way into the bathroom. Shutting the door, she called, "So why don't you tell me what's going on?"
I sat down on the bed. "Nothing to tell, really."
"Why are you leaving town?" she asked over the sound of splashing water.
I shrugged. "There's nothing here for me now."
"What about Dawn?" That hurt.
"She doesn't need me anymore. She has the Slayer." I tried to keep my voice noncommittal.
Tara came out smelling fresh and clean, wearing a terry robe. She put her hand on my shoulder. "She does need you. She loves you, and she misses you." She looked into my eyes. "She'll be heartbroken if you leave her."
Someone tapped at the door. "Damn," whispered Tara. "I forgot to put the chair up." She crept across the room and grabbed a chair from under the desk.
"Open up sweetheart," said a drunken voice. "I know you're in there." She braced the chair under the doorknob.
"Go away, Mr. Nesbit," she said. "Go sleep it off." A key slid into the lock and the door opened. The chain on the door rattled and the chair banged.
"Let me in, sweetheart," the man wheedled. I looked over at Tara. She was biting her lip, her eyes full of misery and defeat.
"Let me get rid of him," I whispered.
She shook her head at me. "He'll leave in a minute." The door banged a few more times and then was silent.
"I'll be back," promised the voice. We heard footsteps walking away.
"You go through this every night?" I asked her.
"I'm trying to find another place to live," she explained. "It's not easy to find someplace to stay for nothing." She folded her arms around herself. She seemed so uncertain, so lost.
"I know the feeling," I said. "My crypt's gone. I've got no place to stay. That's part of the reason I'm leaving."
"It's a bad feeling," she said. "Having no real place to call your own." Her voice was throaty, as if she was holding back tears.
"You deserve better than this," I told her. "The Scoobies must not know. They'd never let you stay in a dump like this place."
Her chin rose. "I'm not going to ask my friends for charity. My family is out of the picture. I'm doing the best I can." She looked determined.
"I'm sorry, pet. I'm not trying to make you feel worse." The situation was bad enough without me rubbing it in.
"So about leaving town." She got up and grabbed a bag of Oreos. "I really think that you should reconsider." She handed me a handful and ate some herself.
"There's nothing here for me to stay for," I explained. "And I don't want to be near Buffy."
"She's not the only person in Sunnydale," she pointed out.
"I need a fresh start. I need to move on." I smirked. "Giles told me that a long time ago. It would have been better for me if I'd taken his advice."
"It's not easy for me either, having to see Willow. She's in a few of my classes; there's no getting around it. And I'm not running away."
"I'm not running away," I said defensively. "I just know when to pack it in is all."
"Where are you going to go?" she asked, the argument coming around full circle.
"Can I smoke in here?" She handed me an ashtray. "I don't know where I'm going to go. I just need to get away."
"I wish I could get away," she said. She flopped backwards on the bed. "Just for a little while." I stretched out next to her and we stared at the ceiling.
A rhythmic thumping smashed into the wall behind us. "Oh, yeah," crowed a woman enthusiastically. I looked over at Tara and she grinned. We both cracked up.
"Oh baby," growled a man.
"That's Beth," said Tara between giggles. " I have to listen to this every night. She works out of that room all the time. She does the worst fake orgasm you've ever heard."
"Excuse me, missy," I said indignantly. "I don't believe I ever have heard a fake orgasm." She cocked her eyebrow at me and we both laughed again.
"Harder, baby, harder," the man yelled. "Fuck me real hard." Tara bit her knuckles, her face growing red from laughter. I rolled onto my knees and grabbed the headboard in both hands, banging it into the wall hard. The vibrating action inside the bed kicked in, and it jiggled. Tara's giggling turned to hiccups.
"Oh, yeah!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. "Who's your daddy?" Tara rolled from side to side, her body shaking with laughter. I crashed the headboard into the wall rhythmically as I jumped on the bed. "Ride me like a bull!" The whole bed shook violently. "I'm coming! I'm coming! Oh yeah!" I let out my best growl, letting it go on long and loud. I stopped shaking the bed.
It was so quiet; you could hear the crickets chirping outside. Tara wiped tears from her cheeks. "That was really evil," she said. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes bright as she smiled at me. She looked like herself again, the sweet girl that I knew.
"Well, I'm an evil kind of guy," I smiled at her.
"I haven't laughed like that in a long time," she said. "My life's been kind of short on fun lately."
"Me too," I replied. "We could both use a little fun." She yawned. "I should get going."
Her face fell. "I wish that you would stay," she said.
"I really think it's time for me to move on." I stood up and went to the door.
"I'll miss you," she said. "I feel like I never really got a chance to know you and now you're leaving." I looked at her, and she seemed so sincere. Like it really hurt her that she and I weren't friends.
"Tell the Niblet that I said goodbye." She and I looked at each other awkwardly, and I patted her shoulder.
"Fuck you, motherfucker," said an angry voice.
"Fuck you, man," said another voice. A shot rang out.
All the blood drained from Tara's face. "Oh, that's it, love," I announced as I took off my duster. "You're not staying in this cesspool by yourself."
"I'll be fine," she said uncertainly. The sound of shattering glass rang out from the parking lot along with the squeal of tires.
"Tomorrow we'll find you something better than this," I told her firmly, "and tonight I am staying here to make sure you're alright."
"You want to leave," she said. "Don't let me hold you back."
"I'll leave tomorrow. Right now, you need me." The sound of sirens on the way emphasized my words.
I shoved the dresser in front of the door and took off my boots. I pillowed my duster on the floor and lay down. "What are you doing?" she asked.
"I'm going to sleep on the floor?" Where else would I sleep?
"Why don't you sleep in the bed?" she asked me. "It's a king size; there's plenty of room." I tilted my head curiously at her. "I won't molest you," she said seriously. "I only molest girls." Her eyes twinkled with merriment.
"Oh, well, that's alright then. I was concerned you were going to take advantage of me." She took off her robe. Underneath it she wore a thin slip of a nightgown. Her breasts were amazing, full, and ripe. I tried not to stare as she slipped under the covers. Who knew the shy Wicca had a gorgeous set of tits?
"You can take your clothes off," she said. "You don't have anything I haven't seen before. I draw nudes all the time for class." She leaned over and turned off the light.
I took off my clothes and piled them next to the bed. I slid under the sheets and rested my head on the pillow. I turned my head and looked at her. She was staring at me thoughtfully. "What?"
"It's kind of nice not to be alone in the bed," she replied. "Although it's not like being with Willow."
"No, I don't fancy you'll be confusing me with Red," I joked to hide my surprise.
She reached over and patted my chest. "You're not nearly squishy enough up here."
I flexed my muscles. "I sure hope not. I work hard to have a nice chest."
Tara rolled over and pulled the sheet down. She looked at my bare chest for a moment. "You have a really defined chest. Good muscles."
"Thanks," I replied. "You have really nice tits." She looked down at herself then looked at me oddly. "Well, I thought we were being all honest and sharing."
"No, it's okay," she said. "Thanks for the compliment. I just thought it was funny. I've never had a man notice my breasts before."
"I'm not surprised with the way you hide them under the granny sacks you wear," I told her. "They're really pretty. You should show them off a bit."
"Well, you hide your chest too," she pointed out.
"I'm a man, it's kind of hard to show it off. Can't walk around bare-chested all the time." I gave her a wicked grin. "I'm not Iggy Pop, love."
"I kind of figured you were just all scrawny and sticklike," she said. "You're really skinny."
"Hard to stay beefed up on pigs blood," I explained.
She yawned. "This is a weird conversation. And it's late. We should sleep." She patted my cheek. "Goodnight, Spike." She rolled over onto her side.
"Night." I watched the moonlight make her hair glow. It reminded me of the way Buffy's hair looked in the night. I had loved her hair, before she chopped it all off. I wished that we'd had one night like this, where we slept in bed together. I wished things had been different.
When I woke up in the morning, the room was filled with sunlight. Tara still slept, but she faced me now. She was so pretty, her lips so full and plump. Her eyes opened, and they were so huge, so blue. I'd never noticed them before, and I didn't see how. They were so fine.
"Morning, Spike," she said.
"Sleep well, pet?" I rolled over and propped myself on my elbow.
She stretched and let out a moan. "I had the weirdest dream," she said. "Elvis and James Dean were trying to sell me a Cadillac, and I was trying to explain that I don't need one, because I don't drive."
I laughed. "That's a pretty bizarre dream, pet."
"Did you have any dreams?" she asked.
"I don't remember any," I said. She arched her back as she stretched again. Her tits swelled and pressed against the satin of her gown. I felt a stirring of desire. "I have an idea," I ventured. "And we're getting along really well and all, so I hope you don't haul off and punch me."
"I promise not to punch you," she said with a smile. "Fire away."
"Have you ever thought about dancing for a living?"
She gave me a quizzical look. "I took ballet when I was a kid, but I don't think that I really counts as a viable career choice."
"I mean exotic dancing, pet." I hesitated for a moment. "Topless."
She blushed and crossed her arms over her chest. "I could never do that."
"Why not?" Shyness perhaps?
"Those women are gorgeous. They have perfect bodies. I couldn't compare," she said dismissively.
"Can I be really, really honest with you, pet?"
She seemed startled. "You can always be honest with me."
We'd see about that. "I'm desperately in love with another woman, and I know for a fact that you don't swing my way anyway, but just looking at your tits has me hard as a rock."
She peeked down at my crotch. "Really?"
"Really." She looked straight into my eyes, and there was no anger there. Only surprise and pleasure. "You're beautiful, Tara."
She looked thoughtful. "I don't think so, Spike. I'm really not."
"From what I can see, you really are." It wasn't idle flattery.
"But I could never take my clothes off in front of a bunch of people," she said doubtfully.
"Why not?" I asked again.
"I just couldn't." She blushed, thinking about it. "I would be too embarrassed."
"You're strong willed," I said to her. "If you put your mind to it, you could do it."
"I'm not that strong."
"You're strong enough to live here, strong enough to work at that diner," I reminded her. "And you could make in a night stripping what it takes two weeks to earn at the diner."
Her eyes widened. "Are you serious?"
"Dead serious." I nodded for emphasis. "I know this guy who owns a club downtown and some of the birds that work there. They make a really nice living. Couple of them are working their way through college doing it, and I guarantee they're living a lot better than you are now."
Hope flared in her eyes, then quickly died. "Even if I could take off my clothes, I can't dance."
"That's just not true, ducks. We danced at the party, and you have some damn fine moves." She gave me a lopsided smile. "Just think about it. It could solve some of your problems."
"This guy? The guy that owns the club? He wouldn't expect me to..." her voice trailed off.
"Hiram?" I laughed. "Hiram doesn't even like girls. He's a dirty old poofter is what he is. He's been trying to get me to switch teams since I met him. There's nothing to fear there."
"And the men? The customers?"
"Any of them try to touch you, they'd lose an arm. Literally. It's a nice class of demons that comes to the joint, but the bouncers are real bad-asses." I rummaged for my lighter and a cigarette. I lit up and leaned back against the headboard. "He's been after me to come and work for him as a bouncer. But I wouldn't do it. Buffy needs me to help her." The words hung in the air as I realized what I'd said. I took a deep drag. "Well, not anymore."
"So you could be there," she said. "You could look out for me while I was working, make sure nothing happened to me." She looked so pleased.
"Well, I could," I said. "I was planning on leaving town, but I could stay a while." Working in a bar, looking after Tara, it wasn't much of a life, but it beat what I had now. I looked around the room. I could at least get her out of this mess, into something better. She deserved so much more than this.
She lay back on the pillows, her face thoughtful. "I'm not sure that I could do it." She turned to look at me. "But I'm willing to try."
"If you give it a go, pet, I will too," I promised.
She patted my cheek affectionately. "You go to this bar a lot?"
"Yeah, a good bit," I admitted.
"So you know the kind of things the girls wear, the kind of music they dance to?" She really was thinking about it.
"Yeah. Every girl has her own style," I told her.
"I could get an outfit, practice a dance. If I could do it in front of you, I might be able to do it in front of other people." She got up and went into the bathroom. I rolled of bed and pulled on my clothes. I heard the water running, and her voice humming. I turned on the telly and watched cartoons until she came out, toweling her hair. "I need a favor," she said simply.
"Anything, ducks." Well, just about anything.
"Before I get my hopes up, before I think any more about this..." Her hands gripped the belt of her robe.
"Yeah?" I was a little puzzled now.
"Would you look at me naked?" She looked at me nervously.
I smothered a laugh. "It would be a real sacrifice to look at you naked, but I'm willing to give it a shot in the name of friendship."
"Thank you," she said sweetly, and pulled off her robe.
If I had thought her tits were heavenly all on their own, I was standing on a cloud right now. She was perfect. Her breasts were large, high and firm, the nipples a dusky pink. Her skin was pale and white, utterly flawless. A tuft of golden hair highlighted the cleft between her legs, and her legs were long and beautifully sculpted. My mouth dry, I signaled for her to turn around. She complied, and I looked at the gentle sweep of her shoulders, the long curve of her spine, and the lush curves of her ass. A dimple adorned each cheek. She turned back around and looked at me uncertainly. "You'll do, " I said hoarsely.
"Really? You're not just saying that?" She smiled, delighted.
"You're good. Put your robe back on." I stumbled to the bathroom and slammed the door. I gripped the sink hard, and grappled with my raging libido. Christ, she was exquisite. My erection taunted me as I struggled to purge images from my mind. I wanted to suck on those pert nipples, slip my tongue between those legs. I wanted to watch that perfect face flush with orgasm. I pounded my head into the sink. Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. Think about Buffy. Don't think about the gay girl with the body of a goddess. But the filmstrip in my head betrayed me. I thought about fastening handcuffs around Tara's small wrists, biting her neck, about pumping between her legs until I made her scream. My cock throbbed, and I desperately wanted to have a wank, to lose myself, to pretend it was real.
"Spike? Are you alright?" Tara tapped at the door, her voice filled with concern.
Guilt washed over me in a flood. Such a sweet, nice girl, and all I could do was think about fucking her, like she was just a toy, just some trollop. My disgust with myself did the trick. I opened the door. She was wearing one of her usual floaty things, the same old Tara. This girl I knew. This girl didn't make me feel like an animal. "Why don't we get you a bite to eat, and we'll figure out the next thing to do. I think we should try to find you a new place to live, first off. You shouldn't spend another night in this dump."
She sat down on the bed and looked defeated. "I have about twenty dollars, Spike." She looked at me sadly. "I don't have a deposit, or the first month's rent, or anything."
"I have plenty of money," I told her. "I just made some serious cash off a scheme of mine. I'll lend you whatever you need. You can pay me back when you're back on your feet."
"I couldn't just take money from you for nothing," she said.
"Then let me stay with you until I figure out what's what," I replied. "If the club thing works out, you can make the rent all on your own. And if you don't, I'll cover you until we get something else figured out."
"So it wouldn't be charity," she said. "I'd be helping you too." She shook my hand. "It's a deal."
"Making deals with demons, pet," I chided. "I'm surely leading you down the path of wickedness."
"If it'll put some money in the bank and get me a nice place to live, I'm willing to walk on the wild side," she teased.
Continued in Chapter 2