All About Spike

Centuries to Claim
By Brighid

He went more than just a little mad, he could remember that much. Pig's blood and whisky and vomiting in gutters. Lying in his own filth in someone else's grave, weeping like a baby for days, weeks, perhaps even months at a time. Lying in the muck with his eyes wide open, not daring to close them because he could remember each time, every time. He remembered the way their eyes would flare open, like guttering candles, then dim to nothing at all. He remembered the warm, yeasty, coppery smell of living flesh, and how the scent shifted as bodies cooled. He remembered the way their bodies felt, the feel of their bones snapping, the yield of skin, the texture of hair wrapped around his fist.

And sometimes, dear God, fucking goddamned bastard that He was ... sometimes he liked the memory. Sometimes, the memories got mixed up with her memory, her scorn and her ridicule and her derision and he had bloody well *loved* her. He poured everything he was into his words, had given them to her and she'd just ... she'd just ... and they called him the *monster* ... and then ... and then ...

Drusilla's kiss had been waiting in the darkness.

Fucking *cunt* and him in the darkness alone with all his anger and his pain and a human heart breaking all over again and it hurt, fucking *hell* but it hurt it hurt it hurt ...

He screamed himself hoarse in a churchyard, somewhere. Threw pig's blood and whisky, pounded the door even as his hands burned and smoked, wanting in, wanting absolution, wanting the priest to sain him and let all his sins just burn away to pretty, pretty ashes. Shit-kicked the door like a proper hooligan, but it didn't do any damn good.

Got his soul back, dark dirty penny that it was and not a single place to spend it.

So he went home, what home he had, and it was Sunnyhell, sweet Sunnyhell. Didn't even bother to go back to his crypt, knew Clem probably had the fucking thing wallpapered by now; it'd been awhile, he guessed that much. And he didn't want it, not really. Didn't want her memories all around him, bad enough they filled him up until he choked on them, gagged and retched on them, waste of blood even trying to feed, really.

So he found a hole, somewhere's, beat the shit out of it until he was too tired to move and then he laid himself down and thought he'd maybe just ... sleep away to nothing, go to ground and never get up again.

No noble mission for this boyo, no greater calling.

Love's bitch, destiny's whore, all around colossal fuck-up, that's our William and he wept in the darkness, wept until everything ached worse than anything Buffy'd ever done, anything Glory had ever done, or Dru or Cecily or anybody else who'd broken him to bits.

He'd just been too damned stupid to fall down, until now.

Now, though, was all about falling down. Didn't have the fucking *balls* to be a monster, didn't have the *balls* to be a man, just too fucking tired to be anything at all.

So he slept.

)0(

He woke up to the taste of blood, slick-sweet like shiny new pennies in his mouth. His tongue curled out of its own want, licked up along a pretty, wet trail; followed it to the pulse that fed it, wrapped his mouth around human heat and meat and sighed.

A strong hand pushed him back, and he opened his eyes, and she was beautiful. Long dark hair and a mouth like a plum and her eyes were both sad and angry. "You went away." Her voice, the memory of it and the reality, those pricked his conscience more than a century of wanton bloodletting had.

"I had to," he said, and winced at his voice. Like stone on stone, no velvet left, no whisky-burn. "Things to tend to, business."

"For seven years?" she said, pulling him up, cradling his head in her lap, grimacing only a little at the haggard filth of him. "God, you need a bath."

"Seven years, was it?" he mused, and it seemed odd, yet oddly good to settle against her, to tuck his cheek against the warm heat at the juncture of her thighs. "Hmmmm. Been busy."

"You've been nuts," she corrected him. "Giles has kept track. We've read about you, about what happened. Is it true..." her voice trailed off. "Is it true?"

"Is what true?" he closed his eyes, and he was not, he was fucking well *not* trembling; it was her, it had to be her. "Did the wizard give me a brain?"

Her fingers ghosted over his eyes, the paper fragility of their lids, slid down and touched his mouth. "That you have a soul?' she said at last.

"They're not all they're cracked up to be," he said, and her lap was damp beneath his face and this hurt, this hurt too goddamned much, so close to what he'd always wanted but could never have.

"I was so mad at you," she said, out of nowhere. "I wanted to kill you, I could have killed you. For leaving, like everyone else did. For hurting Anya and Xander and ... and Buffy. For leaving me. I trusted you, you know. I thought you ... cared." Her voice dropped to a whisper, soft and thready and with his eyes closed she was still just fifteen, coltish and a little wild.

He'd always loved the way she looked at him.

"I did. Just ... not enough. That's part of being part of the Big Bad; you can care, but never enough. Never in the way other people want." He shifted, turned his face to her belly, breathed her in. She smelled warm, like woman, like sunshine and soap. She smelled good enough to eat, so good he wanted to swallow her. He kept his eyes shut tightly and just kept breathing her in.

"I loved you," and her voice was a low, sweet echo in his ear. "I loved you so damned much. Made me hate you all the more, really, because I could love you like that, and you could just ... leave." Her words were bitter -- rue and pennyroyal on the tongue, sliding down to the belly.

He knew that taste all too well, woke up to it every morning, "Wasn't you," he whispered against her belly, but that could never be enough, so he pulled himself up, found her lips, tasted for himself her bitterness interlaced with the sweetness of her mouth. Kissed her until her lips bled, and his too, until he could feel the sunlight and she the shadow.

Moaned, surged, felt a different sort of hunger crawling, lower than his belly. Felt his fingers curl, slide up over sweet, apple-ripe tits. Felt her press back against him.

He pulled away, startled, a little afraid. "I didn't mean to do that," he said at last, lifting a trembling hand to wipe his mouth, only to have her grab it, lick the spit and blood off of his fingers.

"I wish you had," she whispered against the tips, and she had a woman's face, a woman's body. No more colt-girl or Little Bit. He watched her lashes flutter closed and then open again, and there was the anger, and there was the grief, and there was the love and maybe the pity but ...

that was all.

So he leaned in, and kissed her again, so gently, so very gently. Paused once, when she said, "I'm not Buffy," like an apology, like a warning.

"I know you're not her," and he did know, he was fucking well on the edge of understanding something *huge* here. Right on the bloody edge and he knew that the answer tasted bittersweet and smelled like sunshine and soap. "You're you." He kissed her again, just to be sure of the taste of her.

"You still need a bath," and her breath was warm and human on him. Something in him burned bright, like a light coming on, and her heartbeat echoed inside of him so strongly that it almost felt like his own. "I've got one of those. Some soap. A towel." Shifted so that her forehead butted up against his, her mouth was soft against his cheek.

"I'm still a monster," he said. "Soul doesn't change anything I did. Doesn't make me regret all of it, either." Because you had to start these things right; for once he was going to start his *right*, sorry sodding bastard that he was. "Can't promise to be any better than I was before."

"So don't promise," she said, shifting, pushing him to his feet, rising to her own. "I don't think this is about promises."

He leaned into her, weak-kneed. Tired. Too goddamned hopeful, probably more than just a little mad. "Then what is it about?" And when the hell had he begun *hoping* again, anyway?

She shrugged. "I'm not sure. But I'm willing to find out." She pulled away, frowned at him. Punched him, hard, out of nowhere, a smooth roundhouse to the jaw. "That's for running out on me," she explained, blowing on her knuckles. Then she leaned up, kissed him just as hard on the mouth. "That's for coming back." Then she was under his shoulder, helping him out of the crypt. Between the punch, the kiss and the laughing, he was bent almost double, and he felt ...

alive.

)0(

An End.

The title is taken from Rufus Wainwright's "Little Sister", an unreleased piece.

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