All About Spike

Jerusalem Street
By Dana Woods

Disclaimer: People who are not me own/have a stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I steal their toys while they're asleep, but I return them in the morning. Without having made any money from them. Promise.

Summary: Willow asks Spike to meet her.

Author's Note: Season 7 anytime between "Help" and "Never Leave Me". Wrote this for an Improv, but I was too busy to get around to posting it.

He was waiting for her on Jerusalem Street, standing under a street light and cast in pewter: gray sweater and faded black jeans that were now a murky gray/black color. The world shifted until there was a brief flash of another man, from another time, strung high on a cross. She shook her head at herself.

He was further from that image than was actually possible, this human who was possessed by a demon, which she imagined as a chunk of smoking brimstone inside of him. Strange why he didn't smell of it, why the odors that clung to him instead were cigarettes and booze, and a copper scent that instinctively made one take a step back. But in all honesty, that was before.

Before her own inner beast had risen to the surface along with her veins. Before his inner beast had been caged as much as possible by a bright and blinding light.

Now there was still the copper, but little else remained the same. She closed her eyes and sniffed. Nowadays he smelled manufactured, a combination of marketed this-is-what-a-man-should-smell-like masculine scents from shampoo and soap, and a smell that was humid and could be found on the side of Buffy's house, where the dryer vented steam and the fragrance of dryer sheets.

Somewhere in the back of her mind she thought that it should strike her as strange that this demon smelled of anything so mundane. But that would mean that it was strange that she herself smelled of…well, of a home. Of pizza that had been delivered, cookies that had been baked on a whim, and casual, laughing hugs. And hugs did smell. They were the scent of all parties involved, all tangled up into a swirling mass that could not be broken down to the individuals. At least, that's what she thought, anyway.

And when she opened her eyes, he was staring at her, his hands twitching absently, as though they didn't know what to do with themselves anymore.

She had started out the day smelling of clean rinsing bubbles and one-minute conditioner. As with everything, the scent had changed subtly with each leg of the day. Morning breakfast with her "family". Afternoon classes and studying. Late afternoon helping the oh-so-heartbreakingly-young one with her homework. Interlude of dinner and dessert, with a surprise visit from the man who had once been the be all and end all of her life when he was a joking boy and she was a shy girl. Early evening conversation with the oh-so-heartbreakingly-ancient-seeming one.

And now late evening. A street whose name had brought silly and fleeting images to her mind. A demon who had sought out a soul in hopes of becoming a man, but had instead become some wretched being. She knew that his scent did not change throughout the day, that he did not let the world touch him lest he taint it, lest it heal him. She knew that he did not, could not, smell of hugs.

And though he was as far from normal as anything else that passed for it on the Hellmouth, she could no longer keep from thinking of him as a man. Just a man. Though there was another face, fanged and ridged and yellow-eyed, under his human visage. As she was just a woman. Though there was another face, veined and black-eyed, under her human visage.

And despite his soul and her training, both faces were only a hair's breath beneath their current ones.

He didn't ask why she wanted him to meet her. Just stood there with his eyes turned inwards, listening to some voice she couldn't hear. Unless she let her own eyes shift their focus from the world, that is. Then she could hear them. All too clearly. And many less than he heard, no doubt, given the century or so he had on her.

Why had she asked him here?

Not for a pep talk, with words of encouragement and cheer, because she didn't have that in her anymore. Well, not as much. What she had was second-hand, passed to her from Giles, a realistic concoction of three parts fear and one part belief in herself.

Not for a shoulder, because hers was burdened of its own accord, weighted down and bowed to the point of near-to-breaking and promising to go either way.

She'd asked him to meet her that night for the same reason she'd asked him to meet her a half-dozen other nights. For something simple, easy, and which was really all she had to spare anymore.

He remained distractedly silent as she approached him, but she didn't try to garner his attention. It wasn't needed. A hair's breath away from him she stopped, and he suddenly looked outwards, staring down at her with bright unblinking eyes.

She leaned her forehead against his chest and wrapped her arms around his torso, holding tightly. He didn't respond in any way. She wondered what the point of this was, couldn't have explained it if she'd tried without sounding completely ridiculous, naive and frighteningly like a greeting card.

Eventually she stepped back, looking up. He was less confused than he should have been, but insanity will do that, strip your questions until you're naked but uncaring, back in the garden before you even knew about the tree, much less the fruit.

She admonished herself for the absurd metaphor, decided that next time she'd ask him to meet her on Rogers Street, then turned and walked away.

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