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Wicked Ways
By jodyorjen

PAIRING: Spike/Tara
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 jodyorjen@yahoo.com



Chapter 7

Tara was glowing. I had never seen her more radiant, more beautiful. Her face was pensive, though, her eyes shadowed. She picked up her wineglass and drank deeply, staring into the fire.

“You look like you have something on your mind, pet,” I told her. I poured myself another glass of wine.

She turned my way, her face serious. “I could say the same thing. You’ve been really quiet since we came home and you’re putting quite a dent in that bottle.”

I looked at her, this girl who loved me. She meant the world to me. If I said what was on my mind, it was over. I knew it. She’d never be the same again. “I’m fine, baby,” I said to her. “Everything’s right as rain.” I tossed back the glass.

She looked at me searchingly. “You’re lying to me,” she said. “Why are you lying to me?”

I stood up abruptly. “I’m sorry, pet. I have to go.” I stood up from the couch and walked to the front door.

Tara came up behind me and grabbed my wrist. “Spike, don’t go.” She ran in front of me and stood there. “Please don’t go.”

“Just let me go,” I said. “I can’t be here now.”

“What did I do?” she asked, her eyes filling with tears. “What did I do wrong?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong, love,” I said. “Honestly.”

“Then why are you acting this way?” she asked. “Why are you running away from me?” I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t break her heart; shatter her life, her sense of self. “Is it because I told you that I love you?” she said painfully. “I didn’t mean to pressure you, I didn’t mean to scare you away.” Her voice trailed off as tears ran down her cheeks.

I was hurting this gentle, kind girl. I was hurting her, because I was afraid of hurting her. “I don’t want to upset you, baby,” I said. “There’s something that I have to tell you, and I know you’ll hate me for it.”

“There’s nothing you could say that could make me hate you,” she said.

“Why did your father think that you’d become a demon when you turned twenty?” I asked.

“What does that have to do with anything?” she asked, genuinely perplexed. “It’s in the past, it doesn’t matter.”

“Please, Tara,” I said. “Please just tell me.”

“My m-mother was a succubus,” she said, upset. “That was the age my mother was when her demon came forth, when she mated with my father.” She looked at me searchingly. “I can’t tell you how afraid I was of becoming a demon. I was so relieved when you punched me, and it hurt you. My human blood had won out, and I was normal. My birthday came and went, and nothing happened. I wasn’t a demon. I was just a girl, just a regular person.”

“I’m sorry, Tara, but you’re not,” I told her quietly. “You’re a succubus.”

“What do you mean?” she asked me. “What are you talking about?”

“When you danced tonight, at the club,” I explained, “we could all feel your power. Hiram told me you were a succubus. And you just told me yourself that’s what your mother was.”

“But I don’t have a demon,” she said, bewildered. “I can’t feed off anyone. It’s not possible.”

“Your bloodline may be so watered down that you don’t have enough power to release your demon.” I paused. “Or, you do, and it’s there, just below the surface, waiting to be unleashed.”

“No,” she said, dismayed. “I don’t want to hear this.” She sank to the floor and rested her head on her knees. I sat down beside her and waited for her to regain her equilibrium. “I don’t want this to be part of me,” she said. “It can’t just be an illusion that there was nothing wrong with me, that I am just a regular person. I want so much for it to be the truth.”

“You don’t ever have to be ashamed. You need to accept what you are, embrace your demon.” I reached out to her but she shied away.

“I don’t want to,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” She looked at me. “I don’t want to kill people to survive.”

Suddenly I realized what had her so upset. “Succubi feed off sexual energy the way that vampires feed off blood.”

She nodded. “Tonight, when I danced at the club, I could feel the energy. It felt as if I just focused, I could draw it within myself.” She looked at me. “I can feed, and if I accept the demon, I’ll have to.”

“But you’re not fully demon,” I said. “You couldn’t kill a human or seriously impair another demon. I’m not just saying that, Tara, Hiram said as much. And you may not need to feed to survive. You just don’t know.”

“I don’t understand why this is happening,” she said. “There is so much that I don’t understand.” She looked at me. “And if I really am a succubus, than there is something you need to know.”

“What’s that, love?”

“I’ve made you feel this way,” she said. “I made you want me.” She turned and looked at me, her face the picture of misery. “I manipulated you. You never would have chosen me of your own free will.”

“That’s just not true. I wanted you before I ever felt the succubus,” I said. “That first night in the motel, I wanted you, as a man. Because of you, just the human part of you. The next morning, I even told you, Tara. I told you how you made me feel.”

“I could have been manipulating you all along, without even trying,” she said.

It was too soon, too soon after Buffy, but there was no other way to make her understand. “I fell in love with you,” I said to her. “Not in lust. Love. The demon inside you, it can make me want you. But not love you. You did that all on your own.”

She closed her eyes and her face flooded with pain. “I don’t know what to believe. I have no idea what is real.” She wrapped her arms around herself and rested her head on her knees again. She rocked back and forth, and I let her alone. “I have to do some research and some meditation,” she said finally, looking up at me. “And I want to talk to Anya about all this.” She looked at me seriously. “I need to figure out what I am, and what it means.” She looked like she wanted to say something more, but she didn’t.

“Do you want me to go? Give you some space, let you have some peace to figure this out?” I offered.

“Just until I figure this out,” she said sadly. She gave me a weak smile. “If you stay, it will be too tempting to lean on you, to make you part of my decision. This needs to be something I do on my own.”

“I understand, really I do,” I said to her. She didn’t respond, just sat there on the floor. I went to my room and packed a few things into a bag. I slung it over my shoulder and grabbed my sleeping bag and an electric lantern from my closet.

When I came back out to the living room, she stood waiting for me. “I love you,” she said softly. “Please don’t doubt that.”

I cupped her face gently in my hands and kissed her. “I love you, Tara,” I told her. “You do what you need to do and I’ll be waiting for you, whatever happens.” She wrapped her arms around me tightly. “I’ll come back tomorrow night, and take you to the dinner party at Anya’s.” She looked up at me, and I saw flecks of purple in her eyes. The demon was breaking through, acknowledged at last. I could feel my own demon responding, and I knew that if I took her to bed now, it would be incredible, for both of us. It would make things so much easier. I knew she was thinking the same thing. She wanted me, just as much as I wanted her. “I’d better leave,” I said. I kissed her gently on the forehead and walked to the garage.

I drove through Sunnydale, thinking. I hated being noble. I hated leaving her. I wanted to be with her, in my nice comfortable bed, instead of prowling around in the dark. I parked the Desoto in the parking lot of the abandoned warehouse behind the cemetery and made my way along the familiar path I had trod for the last few years.

I stood in the doorway of my crypt and surveyed the wreck of my old home. It smelled burnt, even though the upper level looked the same way it always did. I looked at the sarcophagus where I had slept, where I’d made love with Buffy before Captain Cardboard fucked the whole thing up. I lit the candles that lined the walls of the crypt and made up my bed with the sleeping bag and my comforter. I’d forgotten a pillow, I realized. This was going to suck.

I uncorked a bottle of whiskey and settled into my makeshift bed. I rested the lantern between my knees and opened my Wicca book, taking an occasional swig from the bottle. I lost track of time as I read, intrigued by what I was learning.

The door to my crypt opened slowly. “Hello, Slayer,” I said, as I put down my book. “Come on in. Not like you’re waiting for an invite.”

She came in, beautiful as ever. She wore a jaunty little yellow beret and a bulky sweater. “I see Tara got sick of you and threw you out already,” she said. “Color me shocked.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I told her. “It’s not like that.”

“Why don’t you tell me what it is like then?” she said. She fidgeted with her stake, nervously tossing it back and forth between her hands.

“I was having a good time before you showed up,” I said impatiently. “Can’t you just toddle off and go kill something?”

She came over to me and sat down on the edge of my sarcophagus. “What are you reading?” she asked.

“Book about Wicca,” I said, holding it out to her.

She ignored it. “Trying to score brownie points with Tara?”

Time to change the subject. “Why are you here, exactly?” I asked her.

“I saw the lights on inside,” she said softly. “I thought you’d changed your mind, come home.” She looked down at her stake, tapping it into the stone.

“This isn’t my home any more,” I reminded her.

“You know this thing with Tara won’t last,” she said. She looked into my eyes. “You’ll only wind up hurting her.”

“I don’t want to discuss her with you,” I told her.

“The right thing for you to do would be to leave her alone,” she said. “She deserves better. You’ll only bring her pain.”

“She’s not you, Buffy.” This conversation was beginning to sound like a broken record. Evil thing, evil thing. It seemed to be her mantra.

“You’re pretending that she’s me, that isn’t fair to her,” she accused.

I sighed and put the book down. “I’m not using her because I can’t have you.”

“So if I told you we could have what we had that wouldn’t change anything?” She leaned towards me. She wanted me; I could see it, feel it. I felt the familiar pull, the old ache that never went away with her.

“And Richard? How would he fit into this little scenario?” I wondered out loud.

“This has nothing to do with Richard,” she snapped.

“So you’d be with him, still?” How generous of her.

“I like him,“ she said. “He makes me happy. I like spending time with him.”

“But you want to fuck me,” I said knowingly. She stood up, pissed. “Oh, just admit it. That’s what this is. Booty call. Nothing that hasn’t happened before.”

“You disgust me,” she said. “You’re a pervert.” I stood up and advanced on her, backing her against the wall.

“And you want to fuck me,” I said. “You know what I am, and you want me to fuck you until you scream, is that it, Buffy?”

She looked up at me. “Yes,” she said. I leaned in and trailed my finger across her collarbone, and she bit her lip.

“I’m the evil vampire, and you want me,” I said to her. “No one else can make you feel the way I do. Not Riley, not Richard. Just me.”

“Yes,” she said breathily.

“Too bad,” I said flatly. I pushed away from the wall. “I’m more than just a cock, and a mouth, and a pair of hands. You can’t have me piecemeal, sweetheart. If you don’t want all of me, then sod off.”

“I can’t love you,” she said. “I can’t do that to myself.”

“I’m not asking you to,” I told her. “Not anymore. So stop torturing yourself about it and leave me alone.”

“But I want you,” she said.

“I hate to rain on your parade, but this isn’t even about me. This is about you being scared, scared to try again.” I crossed my arms and glared at her. “You’re scared to open your heart, scared to love. You sabotage every chance of happiness you have, and damn you, Slayer, I’m not going to let you use me to do it.”

“That’s not true,” she said.

“Go to Richard, work through this with him,” I said in disgust. “This isn’t even about me. What we had, it was all about Angel and Riley. Riley was about Angel. Angel wasn’t even Angel, just some idealized creature that never even existed for anyone else. For Christ’s sake, try to have an authentic relationship with someone.”

“Like you’re having with Tara?” she said bitterly. “I’m sure you’re being open and honest with her about your hundred years as a homicidal maniac. She has no idea who you are, what you are without the chip in your head.”

“I’ve told her things about myself I’ve never shared with you,” I told her. “You never asked about my life before I came here, never asked about my life before I was turned. You never even saw me as a person. I was always just a thing.”

“You don’t have a soul,” she said. “You’re-“

“Get the fuck out,” I yelled. “I won’t take this shit any more. I’ve already lost you-- bloody hell, I never had you in the first place! You get the fuck out, and leave me alone. I’m tired of hearing what a monster I am. That’s all you’ll let me be. You don’t want me to be tender, or loving, or kind. You only want the monster.”

“What monster?” asked Willow brightly. She came into the crypt, bearing a plastic sack and a pillow.

“Big yucky demon that I’m tracking,” Buffy said hurriedly. The girl couldn’t open her mouth without lying. “Why are you here, Will?” she asked.

“Tara told me that Spike would probably be here,” said Red.

I smiled thinking of her. “The girl is a mind reader.”

“She asked me to bring you some blood and some soup,” she said. “She thought you’d like having something warm, and she said that you forgot your pillow. She was afraid that you wouldn’t be able to sleep without it.” She rummaged in the bag. “She gave me this, too.” She pulled out a long leather thong with a round sphere of rose quartz on it. She slipped it over my head, tucking it underneath my shirt so it rested against my skin. I felt the calm and peace that I felt with Tara, suffusing me.

“It’s like having a little piece of Tara with me,” I said in wonder. “I can feel her.” I smiled at Willow.

“If you don’t want to stay here,” she said. “You can come home with me. I made up the couch for you, with the Snoopy sheets you like.” She looked at me kindly. “It would be nice to have you with us for a couple of days. I promised Tara to take good care of you.”

“Isn’t anyone going to ask how I feel about this?” asked Buffy, visibly annoyed.

“Why would you mind?” said Willow, puzzled. “Spike’s slept over a million times. And we have people crash there all the time.”

“Whatever,” she said. She turned and left.

“She’s just being cranky,” Willow explained. “I think she and Richard had a fight. He seemed pretty upset when he left the house earlier.” She helped me gather up my stuff and we blew out the candles. We walked through the cemetery. “I hope they can work out whatever the problem is.”

“I do too,” I said. “I really hope they can.” We walked out of the trees into the lot where my car waited.

I opened the door for her and let her in. “Tara told me about her demon,” she said as I slid behind the wheel. She looked at me. “I’m really glad that she has you to support her in this. You understand what she is going through.” She fidgeted with the window knob. “I still can’t believe it’s true. But Tara told me about the things that her mother and father told her. It makes sense that they were telling the truth all along.”

“I wish it hadn’t been true,” I said. “It’s so hard on her, dealing with this.”

“She’s a really strong person,” Willow said. “If anyone can cope, it is Tara.” We pulled onto Revello Drive and stopped in front of Buffy’s house.

We walked inside and I put my things down next to the couch. “Do you feel like company, or do you want to be alone?”

“I think I’d like to be alone, if you don’t mind.” The phone rang and Willow ran to answer it.

“Spike, it’s for you,” she said.

Who would call me here? Probably the Slayer, wanting to continue her tirade. I walked to the phone. “Hello?” I said warily.

“Hey man,“ Xander said. “Tara told me you’d be over there.”

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Anya went over to your place. She and Tara are having a demon girl sleepover,” he said with a laugh. “So anyway, I heard about all this stuff going down and thought you might want to hang out, talk stuff over.”

“Actually, I was just going to settle in for the night, read a bit and go to bed. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.”

“Would you want to go bowling with me in the morning?” he asked. “I can pick you up and we can go down to Barney’s. Good way to relieve some frustration, tossing a heavy ball at some pins.”

I thought about it. “That actually sounds like a good way to work off a bit of steam.”

“I’ll pick you up at eleven,” he said. I hung up the phone and thought for a minute, then punched in a number.

The phone was picked up after a couple of rings. “Hello?”

“I love you,” I said in a husky voice.

There was a brief pause. “Gee, Spike, I didn’t know you cared,” said Anya cheerily.

“Oh, balls. Why are you answering my phone?” I demanded, embarrassed.

“Tara’s got her hands full at the moment,” she informed me. “Hold on a sec.”

I waited impatiently, wishing that I could smoke in Buffy’s house. “Hi, honey,” said Tara.

I smiled at the sound of her voice. “I miss you,” I told her.

“I miss you too,” she said. “We’re making Rice Krispy treats. Have you ever had those?”

“No.” Wasn’t that a breakfast cereal? “What are they?”

“You mix cereal with melted butter and marshmallows and form a big square,” she explained.

‘”That sounds rather disgusting,” I said.

“Trust me. You’ll adore this.” I wasn’t too sure about that, but if it made her happy…” I’m saving you half the pan. I’m putting it in wax paper and I’ll give it to you tomorrow.”

“I can’t wait to see you,” I told her. “I feel miserable. I want to come home.” I realized that sounded really pathetic and selfish. “Of course, you should take all the time you need,” I backtracked. “I’m not trying to pressure you.”

“I wish you were here too,” she said. “But Anya is an excellent distraction. I picked her brain for everything she knew about succubi. She talked me into taking some time just to relax and not think about this. She brought over chick movies and we’re going to do our nails.” She sounded upbeat, even happy. I owed Anya a huge debt of gratitude.

“I’ll let you get back to it, sweets,” I told her. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she said. “Don’t forget to eat your soup and drink your blood.”

“And I’ll put my Wellys on if it rains,” I teased. “Thanks for sending that stuff along, and for Willow. I hated being back in the crypt. It was horribly depressing.”

“You’re very welcome,” she said. “Goodnight.”

“Night,” I said, and hung up the phone. After I’d eaten my food, I tucked myself in on the couch and began reading my book. I felt warm and full, and I kept my hand on my pendant, feeling Tara’s energy. I drifted off to a peaceful sleep.

I had a strange dream. Something brushed my face, and I opened my eyes. Buffy leaned over me, dressed in a long white gown. She bent down and kissed my lips gently. It was so light, and sweet, and loving. “It’s just like after Glory,” I said. “Do you remember? Before you died?” She smiled and nodded, her eyes bright with tears. “You don’t have to stay in heaven anymore,” I told her. “They brought you back.” She kissed my forehead and brushed her hand along my jaw. I closed my eyes, and the dream ended.

****

“Hey, Evil Dead,” someone said loudly. “Wake up.” I opened my eyes, and Xander stood over me. “It’s eleven o clock, time to get going.”

I sat up and pulled on my boots. “Boy, I really nodded off,” I said. “I almost never sleep that well alone.” I tidied up the sofa and packed up my stuff. I pulled out my blanket and followed Xander out to his car, diving into his backseat as quickly as I could.

“I have to say, going somewhere with you is never dull,” he said dryly. It was a short drive and soon we pulled under the overhang for the bowling alley. I ran inside and he joined me a few minutes later. We went up to the counter to get our lane and pick up shoes.

We went to our lane. I took off my boots and laced up my ugly bowling shoes. “Why do they make you wear these things?” I asked. “The sport itself isn’t humiliating enough, without them?”

“Bowling is very cool,” he said. “And this is right up your alley.” I shot him a look. He grinned at me and I laughed despite myself.

“Yeah, we’re going to have a ball,” I shot back. I went over to the rack and picked up balls, trying to find the right size. I finally found one that felt right on my hand.

Xander pulled his ball from his bag. It was a marbleized orange and shone brightly. “That’s really cool,” I commented. I walked over to him. “Can I take a look at it?” He handed it to me and I tested the weight of it. “That’s a nice ball,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said, pleased. “An bought it for me for Christmas. It even has my initials engraved on it.” He showed it to me.

“I’d like something like that myself,“ I said. “Maybe blue, though, instead of the orange.” I walked up to the line and rolled my ball down the alley. It hit the pins with a satisfying thud, knocking most of them down. It felt good, I realized, not as good as a fight, not as good as the kill. But satisfying nonetheless.

****

Xander dropped me back off at Buffy’s house. Willow and Anya were on the couch, watching television. “Hey, beautiful ladies,” I said with a smile.

“You’re in a good mood,” Willow commented.

“I beat the whelp,” I said happily. “I kept knocking all the pins down. He turned four shades of red. It was bloody fantastic.” The girls exchanged glances. “What?”

“We need to talk to you about something.” Anya said.

I felt panicked. “Is it Tara? Did something happen to her?”

“No, no,” said Red. “It’s nothing like that.” She smiled. “We want to make you over.”

”Make me over into what?” I asked.

“You’ve never gone on a date with Tara,” Anya pointed out. “You guys have skipped several steps in the courtship process. You need to do them.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“You’re taking her to the dinner at my house tonight,” Anya explained. “You need to get dressed up, smell good, bring her flowers and candy. You have to court her.”

“Do you think she’ll like that?” I asked. “Do you think that’s what she wants? Will it make her happy?”

“It certainly couldn’t hurt,” said Willow. “And Tara deserves to be romanced a little. Every woman deserves to feel special.”

“She is special,” I said. “No one else in the world is like her.”

“So you’ll let us do it?” Anya asked.

“If Tara will like it, I’ll do it,” I answered. “Just don’t do anything drastic.”

****

I sat in the empty bathtub, a towel around my waist. Anya wore a towel pinned around her neck, and she massaged shampoo in my hair. “That stuff smells bad,” I told her. “And I can wash my own hair, really.”

“Trust me on this,” she said. “Just close your eyes.” She picked up the spray head and rinsed my hair. I closed my eyes and relaxed while she massaged my scalp. It felt good, her hands and the warm water. She finished up and toweled off my head. “Okay, go over there,” she instructed. I sat down on the commode as she plugged in a blow dryer and brushed out my hair. Soon it was dry. “Wow,” she said. “You look totally different.”

“You have to smooth it down with gel,” I offered. “Otherwise it’s all wavy and puffs up.”

“Will,” said Anya excitedly. “Get Dawn and come here.” The two girls came and stood in the doorway.

“Spike?” said Dawn. “Oh my God.” She covered her mouth with her hand.

That wasn’t good. “What did you do, Anya?”

“I put temporary dye in your hair,” she said. “It will wash out in a few days.”

“What do I look like?” I asked, worried.

“Your hair is brown,” explained Willow. “Your eyes are so blue, and you have color in your face. It makes you look…” she paused.

“Alive,” said Anya cheerily. “You look much less dead now.”

I touched my hair cautiously. “Do you think Tara will like it?”

“Oh, yeah,” said Dawn. “Any woman with a pulse will.”

“And those that don’t, too,” quipped Willow.

****

I stood in the living room as Willow tied my tie. “Don’t forget the corsage,” she said, handing me the plastic box. “And don’t try to feel her up when you pin it on,” she teased.

“I came of age during the Victorian Era in England. We practically invented restraint.”

“Is that why you’re such a wild man?” she asked. “Still making up for lost time?”

“Probably has a bit to do with it,” I admitted.

She finished her work and stepped back. “You look wonderful, Spike. Really. Tara is going to faint.” She smiled at me affectionately.

“Thanks, Willow,” I said. “You’re such a good friend.”

She brushed lint off my shoulders. “I love you both,” she said softly. She looked up. “Be good to each other.”

The front door closed with a bang. I turned around to see Buffy shrugging off her coat. “I’m running horribly late,” she said. “Richard is going to be here any minute.” She stood in the foyer in her Doublemeat Palace uniform. She turned and looked at me, and then did a double take. “Spike?” she said, her eyes widening. I could see her taking it all in: the blue suit, the silk tie, and the shiny black shoes.

She stared at me for a long moment. “I have to go,” I said. I kissed Willow on the cheek. “I’ll see you after the party.” I turned to leave, and walked past Buffy. She still stood there, her hat in hand.

****

I’d never seen anything so beautiful. Tara stood in the living room, dressed in blue silk. Her dress was tight in the bodice and became long and full in the skirt. Her hair fell over her shoulders, pinned back at the temples with small clips decorated with blue stones. She wore tall heels on her feet, and held a small clutch purse in her hand. “You’re gorgeous,” I blurted out. I stared at her for a moment. “They told me to give you candy,” I said, as I handed her a box of chocolates.

“Is that for me, too?” she said with a smile, gesturing to the corsage.

“Yes,” I replied. She was wearing some subtle perfume that accentuated her own natural scent into something even more appealing and erotic.

“Can I have it?” she asked patiently.

I opened the box and pulled out the corsage. I tried to pin it to the strap on her shoulder, but my hands were shaking and I jabbed her with the pin. “Ouch,” she said. A drop of blood welled up on her shoulder.

“Sorry,” I said. I brushed the blood off her skin and sucked it into my mouth. Bad move. My blood heated instantly and my demon flared up within. The blood of a succubus was a powerful call that could not be denied. I vamped, and Tara’s eyes widened. She stared at me, and I could feel her need. I watched small bubbles of purple float to the surface of her eyes, and the bloodlust grew higher within me, flamed by a force beyond my control. She kissed me vigorously, her tongue sliding over my fangs. I’d missed her so much. My demon was clamoring for more blood, telling me to take her, take her now.

I pulled away with a tremendous effort. Tara and I were both panting, staring at each other. Her eyes were flaring with violet. “Rein it in, Tara,” I said breathlessly. “Your demon is more powerful than mine. I can’t hold back much longer.” She closed her eyes and I turned my back. I could hear the hammering of her heart, the surge of her blood. I wrestled with my demon, and was able to turn it back and make it recede. The taste of her blood was still strong in my mouth, burning me like strong whiskey.

“I found out why this is happening,” she said breathlessly. “Why my demon awakened. It felt your demon, and it chose it as its mate. You’re my locar.”

“What’s a locar?” I asked her.

“The first lover,” she said, embarrassed. “The one who sets free the demon.” She looked at me. “The unleashing of a succubus is enough to kill most men. It’s a sacrificial role, but there is always a demon who is the fated one, who appears when the time is right.”

Things became a lot clearer. “I’m the demon. Your demon. I unlock your demon when we have sex?”

Her eyes filled with tears. “Yes.”

“So that’s why you’re going through this now? This attraction between us awakened your demon?”

She nodded. “If I don’t unleash it, I might be able to control it. But it is so strong now.” she said. “I have to find a way to hold it in, even though I don’t know how. I love you. I don’t want you to die.”

“Sweetheart, I’m dead. You can’t kill me,” I reminded her.

“But my demon would drain all your energy,” she said doubtfully.

“It can drain all my energy, but that won’t affect me permanently. I’m immortal, unless you stake me or throw me in daylight. Sex with a succubus isn’t on the list.”

Her whole face lit up. “I can’t hurt you?”

“Oh, you can hurt me pet, however you like.” I ran my hand along her cheek. “But you can’t do me any real harm.”

She took a deep breath. “But how do you feel about my demon, knowing that I will need to feed off of sex to survive?” She took her hand in mine. Sparks flared out all around where her skin touched mine.

“Being forced to have lots of sex with the woman I love,” I said with a grin. “That’s the kind of burden I can deal with.”

“I’m serious, Spike,” she said, her brow furrowed. “Once I come into my powers, I can’t take it back.”

“Then think about it,” I said. “Don’t make any decision until you know for sure.” She looked at me, obviously torn. I bent and kissed her, and she began to glow, bathing us in a lilac light.

She pulled away. “I can’t touch you,” she said. “Not at all. Every time I do, the demon gets stronger and stronger and I can’t control it.”

She walked through the living room and opened the garage door, letting herself into the car. I got into the driver’s seat and put the key in the ignition, carefully avoiding touching her. We drove in silence to Xander’s apartment. We knocked on the door and Anya answered. Her hair was pinned up elegantly and she wore a long green dress. The low neckline and slit up the side accentuated her figure. “You put the duster on,” she said in disappointment. “I told you no duster.”

“I can’t totally submerge my identity, love,” I told her. She took my coat and hung it on a coat rack.

We walked into the dining room. Xander wore a navy suit with a striped tie and he was filling glasses with champagne all around the table. “This is really lovely,” I told Anya.

“I even made little place cards,” she said excitedly. “You’re sitting here,” she gestured, “And Tara is down here,” she said, indicating the other side of the table.

“Good,” we said simultaneously. Tara and I looked at each other and smiled.

“Do you need any help in the kitchen?” Tara offered. Anya accepted and the two of them walked into the kitchen, chattering.

“I like your hair, Spike,” Xander said, lighting the candles in the centerpiece. “You look like less of an albino.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “That suit makes you look less portly than usual.” He turned and looked at me angrily. “You started it,” I pointed out.

He paused, considering. “Habit.” A knock at the door sounded and Xander answered. It was Clem and Sophie. She wore a shiny pink dress with a huge bow at the waist and he was wearing a powder blue tux.

Clem looked at Xander and I. “Anya said to dress formally,” he said with dismay.

“You look great, man,” I assured him. “That’s a good color for you.”

He smiled widely. “Really?”

“Where is the powder room?” Sophie asked timidly. Xander showed her the way while Clem and I chatted and ate some cheese and crackers. Tara came out bearing a tray of cheese puffs.

“You look so handsome, Clem,” she said with a smile. He blushed and straightened his bowtie. She turned to me. “You do too,” she said. “I was so flustered I forgot to say anything.”

“I’m glad you like it,” I told her. “It was for your benefit.” She ran her hand along the lapel of my collar and I shivered. Being near her was torture, delicious but agonizing. A knock came at the door and Tara pulled away to answer it.

She let in Richard and Buffy. The Slayer wore a strapless dress, a rich red that was echoed in the choker that she wore around her neck. He wore a tuxedo also, with a collarless shirt. I walked over and shook hands. “Nice tuxedo,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said with a smile. “I bought it for my brother’s wedding and I haven’t worn it since. Nice to get some use out of it.” He put his hand on Buffy’s waist. “Of course, no one is looking at me when I’m with such a pretty lady.”

“True enough,” I said. “You look beautiful, Buffy.”

“Thank you,” she said warmly, and smiled at me. An actual smile, a Buffy Summers megawatt special. I couldn’t even remember the last time she smiled that way. It reminded me uncomfortably of the Bot.

“Dinner is prepared,” Anya announced as she carried out a silver platter. We all sat down around the table. Richard was to my left and Anya at the foot of the table on my right. We passed around the food, making idle chatter as we served ourselves.

“So how is that computer working out?” Richard asked.

“I haven’t used it yet,” I said. “I’m not sure if Tara has. It was nice of you to help me with it.”

“I hear that you don’t have a desk,” he said. “I just bought a new one for myself. I’d be happy to give you the old one. It’s nothing fancy, but it will be better than the floor.”

“That would be very kind of you,” I said.

“I could bring it over tomorrow night,” he offered. “I know that days aren’t good for you.”

I looked at him. “I know about the vampire thing,” he told me. “Buffy told me.”

“What did she tell you?” I asked him.

“Everything, I think,” he said. “About the Slayer thing, monster fighting.” He smiled. “After meeting Clem, nothing had really surprised me. And I went to UC Sunnydale for five years. You can’t live in this town for long without realizing that there is something off here.”

“What made you stay here after you finished school?” I asked. I took a sip of champagne and ate some rare roast beef.

“Got a good offer from the construction company,” he said. “I’d worked my way though college doing it. And I was offered more money than I would make teaching. A hell of a lot more.”

“What did you want to teach?” I asked him.

“English,” he replied. “I’m working on my PHD now.”

“What’s your dissertation about?” I asked, interested.

“The classical background of Tennyson and its influence on his work,” he replied.

”Led upward by the God of ghosts and dreams, Who laid thee at Eleusis, dazed and dumb, With passing thro' at once from state to state, Until I brought thee hither, that the day, When here thy hands let fall the gather'd flower, Might break thro' clouded memories once again On thy lost self,” I quoted.

“Demeter and Persephone,” he said. “You know it by heart.”

“I’m a man of many talents,” I said, as I sipped my wine.

“The impression I got initially was that you were kind of a thug,” he said apologetically.

“I am a thug,” I replied, as I drained my glass. “But that’s not all that I am.”

“You’re a good boyfriend,” he commented. “You’re really devoted to Tara.” I looked over at her. She was talking to Xander, laughing.

“I am a lucky son of a bitch, no doubt about it,” I said.

Anya stood up. “Are you all ready for dessert?” We all gave her our assent. I stood up and helped her clear the dinner plates. I carried them into the kitchen and placed them in the sink. Anya followed me. “Would you mind carrying in the cake?” she asked.

I picked up a cake stand topped with an elegantly frosted cake. Ribbons of frosting were crisscrossed over the top of the cake, creating a basketweave affect. “This is a beautiful cake,” I said. “You did a wonderful job.”

“Tara made that,” she told me. “She brought it by earlier.“

I carried the cake to Tara and handed her the server. “Would you like to do the honors?” Her hand brushed mine as I handed her the silver utensil. She leaped back as if burned, and covered her eyes. “Are you alright?” I asked her. She moved aside her hands, and her eyes glowed brightly purple. My demon rose up in response and I struggled not to vamp. She was barely in control this time. I knew it from her eyes, from the way her scent was so strong in my nostrils, the way her hands had begun to tremble.

“You have to take me home right now,” she whispered. “Or we are going to put on quite a show.”

Anya hurried over and pulled Tara away from me. “Come with me,” she said firmly.

“I want Spike,” Tara said vehemently.

Anya turned to Xander. “Please, take Tara back to the bedroom to lie down.”

“What’s going on?” asked Buffy, perplexed. All of the other guests looked on, concerned.

“I don’t have time to explain,” said Anya. “Just have some dessert.” Xander gave me a sympathetic look and picked up a struggling Tara and took her down the hall.

She turned to me. “You’d better go. If she can smell you, sense you, nothing will be able to stop her.”

“I want to be with her,” I pleaded. “She needs me.”

“She’s not thinking right now, she’s overcome by her demon,” Anya said worriedly. “She shouldn’t be this affected by it when she hasn’t even unleashed it yet. We have to find out what’s going on.”

“I want to help,” I told her. “I want to be there for her.”

“Spike, I know that you mean well,” Anya said gently, ”but the only way you can help right now is to stay away from her until she can think clearly and understand what is happening to her.”

“Just tell her that I love her, and I‘ll be waiting for her.” I grabbed my duster and left. I drove back to Buffy’s and parked the car. I rested my head against the steering wheel. I wanted her, I’d missed her so much and I needed to be with her. I didn’t want to give her space, I didn’t care about her demon. I just wanted to go home, to be with her again.

A tap on the glass startled me. I looked up and saw Willow standing there. I got out of the car and shut the door. “Anya told me what happened,” she said. “I’m sure you’re very upset right now. They’re going to do some more research, try to understand what is happening to her.” She was so sweet and kind that I couldn’t help it. I started to cry. I turned around so that she wouldn’t see. “It’s okay,” she said soothingly, stroking my back. “I understand, I do. You’re trying to do the right thing. I know it’s hard.”

“I love her so much,” I said. “I want to be with her.”

She took my hand and turned me around. “I know how you feel,” she said quietly. “I know exactly how you feel.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said, wiping my eyes. “I shouldn’t say these things to you.”

“I think I’m the perfect person, “ she said. “I love her just as much as you.”

“I’m so glad that you’re my friend, Willow,” I told her. “It’s so nice to have someone to talk to.”

She tightened her grasp on my hand and led me inside the house. “I have bubble bath,” she told me as we went up the stairs. “Tara told me how much you love a hot bath.” I stood in the doorway and watched her as she ran a bath, dumping in a whole bottle of bubbles. She went to her room and came back with a paper bag. “Anya picked out some pajamas for you,” she said. “You can get all clean and comfy, and then we can make s’mores.”

“That sounds nice,” I told her. Mindless, aimless, filling time until I could be with Tara again.

She put her hand to my cheek. “Just have faith, Spike,” she said. “Everything will work out.” She left me alone in the bathroom. I unknotted my tie and took off my clothes, carefully hanging the suit on the back of the door. I sank into the tub and let the water overtake me, washing away all my fears, my loneliness, my pain. I lay there with my eyes closed until the water cooled. I stepped out and dried off, putting on the black silk pajamas. They felt soothing against my skin, soft and smooth.

I walked into Willow’s room. She was lying in bed reading a textbook. She closed it and smiled when she saw me. “You look so cute in your jammies,” she said. She patted the bed next to her. “Come and watch this with me.”

I lay down next to her and looked at the television that was sitting upon her dresser. Gene Kelly was dancing in the rain, his arms outstretched and his face happy. “That’s how Tara makes me feel,” I told her. “Like I could sing and dance, and not even feel the rain.” Willow rested her head in my shoulder as we watched the movie flickering on the screen.


Continued in Chapter 8


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