All About Spike - Plain Version

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Wagering History
By Annie Sewell-Jennings

SUMMARY: A game of spades provides high stakes and reveals everything. Buffy/Spike
SPOILERS: Post-"Intervention"
DISTRIBUTION: My site,, and wherever else it is wanted, provided that permission is requested prior to archival
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Spike are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. I don't own them; I just make them have lots of sex. But I haven't heard any complaints yet, so... ;-)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This piece is dedicated to the players of our own never-ending game of Spades: Barbara and Megan. I will always bring that bitch home. Also, thanks to my beta-reading pal, Heather. :)

Chapter One



Honestly, I hadn't played the game since I was sixteen and bored in study hall, twirling my hair around my finger and tiredly looking at my hand, snapping gum and wishing that I was someone else. But I had joined in, carelessly tossing cards into the pile, collecting books, doing an average job.

Maybe it seemed more glamorous and interesting to play cards underneath the neon lights and haze of smoke in the Bronze. Like I was someone elite, someone too good to dance. But when Xander pulled out the deck of cards and Willow said that she knew how to play Spades, the idea seemed so appealing that I was thrilled.

"We need a fourth, though," Willow said, momentarily downcast, and I shrugged, taking a sip of my room temperature beer. Ew. Totally gross. I hate how I can never down a whole drink while it's still cold, so that I'll always have to suffer through piss-warm beer. Or not get drunk. The latter's probably the better option.

"We could always play wild," I suggested. "Just deal the fourth hand but then not play the cards. Then you don't know what's highest." I flashed a winning grin, moved my hands around a little bit. Playing cute sometimes gets me my way, but not that night.

Xander made a disinterested face, shuffling the deck between his hands. "Nah," he said. "It's more fun if you have a fourth. Besides, we get to have teams then, and by default, spiffy team names. Like the Gladiators." He gave us his own version of a winning smile. So not as cute as mine.

I snorted. "Thanks, Russell," I said dryly, and I sighed, cradling my chin in my hands. Now, I have come to terms with the fact that there is nothing to do in this town, nothing to escape from trouble and boredom, but I thought that a game of cards might have done it. To be wrapped up in strategy and meaningless rectangles of tagboard. It didn't sound bad.

It was interesting to watch Xander shuffle a deck of cards, though. His adventure in the strip club two summers ago had apparently taught him some new tricks, and his fingers rapidly shuffled the deck, cutting it expertly and with an artistic flourish, like he was a blackjack dealer in Vegas putting on a show. "We could always play poker," he suggested, and Willow quickly protested.

"Oh, no," she said forcefully. "I had a very, very bad experience with poker when I was in sixth grade. Lunch money lost, dignity stolen..." The redhead shook her head emphatically. "It's a sordid tale of innocence lost through gambling and mild nudity."

Xander perked up at that. "Sordid nudity?" he asked eagerly, and I just rolled my eyes. Men are always oh-so capable of rearranging sentences to their benefit. But on Xander, it was kind of cute. The little guy's just so damn horny. Sometimes, I wonder how Anya satiates that appetite for sex, but then I remember that Anya's pretty much a nympho herself. Riding horse... Ew.

God, it was easy to retreat into this banter, this old rapport that we have together. It was reinvigorating to be there, observing as Willow talked with her hands and Xander was clever. I could ignore the last couple of months, the mistakes that I made, and lose myself in the stability of their conversation.

Maybe that was why I wanted to play cards so damn bad. I wanted a distraction, something to keep my mind off of everything that was different and strange at home. I could forget that the house was empty except for one resentful, sullen-faced sister and a frazzled Slayer. No worries, no cares. Just this banter, this healthy little chat between old friends. Just this wonderful conversation.

Which was now dead, because not a one of us could think of a single damned thing to say.

"I know how to play gin," I suggested eagerly. "Or hearts." Then I sighed, leaning down on my hand. "Dammit, I had my heart set on spades."

Slumping into her hands and giving a miffed little puff, Willow seemed to be an exasperated pixie. "Me too," she grumbled, and then Xander snorted, looking past us as he shuffled cards between his hands.

"Well, if we want a more visual and pathetic form of entertainment, we do have good old Spike drinking himself sick at the bar," Xander pointed out.

Spike. Oh, Lord.

See, this was the sort of thing that a game of spades was supposed to destroy. It was going to erase the memory of his sad attempt to have me through electronics. I would never have to remember the sight of his awful robot. Or his battered, bruised body draped across the lid of a sarcophogus... Or the memory of his swollen mouth brushing against mine...

Oh, Lord.

I was terrified to turn around and look at him, but being a glutton for punishment, I did take a glance. Upon first glance, I wished that I hadn't. The swelling had gone down a little bit, but his face was still purple and black, and his mouth was still puffy and tender-looking, and was currently nursing a cigarette. There were cuts all across his cheek, and I didn't want to know how they had gotten there. His hand shook as he drank his beer, and he looked stiff and sore. He must have been hurting - he didn't even do his hair. It just kind of tumbled. I felt bad for him.

Willow sucked in her breath when she saw him, and I had forgotten that she hadn't seen how badly he'd taken it from Glory. "Man, he looks awful," she whispered to me, and I nodded my head.

"Yeah, he took one for the team," I muttered. Did they know that I'd kissed him? Was it written across my face? I felt like I had a big scarlet "K" written across my chest. Well, maybe just across my cheeks. They felt pretty red.

Xander shook his head, shuffling the cards between his hands. "Yeah, it's hard not to feel kind of bad for him," he admitted. "And that's saying a lot, because I really, really hate Spike. But..."

His voice trailed, and we were all quiet for a minute, looking at him while he drank his beer with a shaking hand. We didn't quite know what to think of him after what he had done. He had been tortured, had been brutalized, and had kept the secret. In essence, Spike saved Dawn's life, and had done it selflessly and had suffered for it.

And I had kissed him.

Slowly, I looked at Willow. "You know, maybe we should do something for him," I suggested. "He looks kind of lonely..."

"Buff, you've got to be kidding me," he said. "Spike? Sitting in front of us? Existing near us? Touching my cards? Wrong. No."

"Oh, come on, Xander," Willow said. "Buffy's right. He's been through a lot lately."

I turned to my friends and arched my eyebrow at them. "Look, I want to play spades," I said simply. "It's a damn card game. He says one thing even remotely weird, and he'll go. And we all know how Spike is when it comes to saying weird shit, so maybe one hand at best. All right?"

Before Xander could object, I turned around and called out. "Hey, Spike!"

He turned around gingerly, wincing, and I kind of gave him a half-smile that said, "Hey, don't hate you so much anymore." He tugged his bruised mouth into a return smile, and I felt bad at the sight of him. He made me feel almost... Guilty. Which was, of course, completely ridiculous, since he'd done enough in this past week (Exhibit A: Sexbot) to make me want to stake him.

Of course, then he'd done enough to make me want to kiss him, so...

I got up from the table and walked to the bar, leaning on the tabletop and tilting my head at him. Even through the bruises and cuts, he smiled at me, an almost shy smile, like the kind that I used to get when talking to the quarterback of the football team in high school that I always had a secret crush on. "Hey, Buffy," he said, and I found myself a little short of breath when I looked at his mouth. I could still taste the kiss.

"How are you feeling?" I asked. Stupid me to be concerned. Stupid me to have kissed him.

"Like I got hit with a Mack truck," he said. "Well, suppose that's appropriate, since Glory's ass is the size of an eighteen-wheeler."

Was it wrong to snicker at that? No, it was funny, so I laughed a little. Spike smiled at me, tilting his head like we were enjoying some sort of warped camaraderie. I think that maybe we were. "First time you ever laughed at my jokes," he said.

I arched my eyebrow at him. "There's a first time for everything, Spike," I said. "Like this is the first time I've invited you to come sit with us. Wanna play spades?"

Now it was his turn for his eyebrow to arch, and I was pained by how bruised and swollen his left eye still was. He really got the brunt of it on the left side of his face - she must be right-handed. "You sure you want your ass whipped that badly?" he said, and I rolled my eyes, grabbing his hand and ignoring how well our fingers fit together as I dragged him back to the table.

God bless Willow for being so damn cheerful and eager-to-please. Sometimes, it's a grating quality, but on that night, I was grateful for it. She gave Spike a bright smile and waved a little at him. "Hey, Spike!" she said. "You look... Um..."

"Pathetic?" Xander supplied, and Spike rolled his eyes, taking his seat across from me. Great. Now I would have to stare at his bruised face all night long, thinking about what he'd done for us and how I couldn't be a bitch to him anymore. And I'd have to look at his mouth and remember what it was like to touch it with my own. Maybe I could put a paper bag over his face...

"So, how are you playing this?" Spike asked, and Xander sighed, rolling his eyes a little as he dealt out the cards.

"We don't bid on the first round so that we can work up some books to bid," he said. "Bags are counted, and ten bags costs you a hundred points. No blind bidding unless you're behind a hundred points, no nil, two of clubs is high joker, two of hearts is low joker, then two of diamonds, spades, and then down from ace. First team to five hundred points or Spike's really offensive comment ends the game." Damn. That was pretty impressive.

I tilted my head at Spike, wrinkling my nose at him in a cute little fashion. "Yeah," I said. "One nasty word or rude little remark and you're out of the game and back to the fun of solo drinking. So keep up this fabulous new trend and behave yourself."

Spike just tightened his smile and picked up his cards. "So who's on my team?" he asked.

"Oh, Xander and I are always a team," Willow quickly said, and I rolled my eyes.

"Fine," I sighed. "Spike, it's me and you. And if you make me lose, then your ass is grass, buddy." I picked up a paper napkin and a pen, preparing to take score.

Willow smiled broadly all of a sudden with that infectious little grin that could light up a room. I've seen her give that smile to Tara, and I've seen Tara turn about fifty shades of red from bad lusty feelings. I have to admit - it's a pretty cute smile. "Ooo, we need team names!" she said excitedly. "Xander and I are the Sharks. We've always been the Sharks."

Cigarette once again clinging to his lower lip, Spike leaned across the table and tapped the paper napkin. "Yeah, and our team name is going to be 'People That Realize Team Names are Annoying'," he drawled, and Xander sighed.

"Again, irritating comment that everyone else seems to be ignoring," he said, and I rolled my eyes.

"We'll keep a separate score for every nasty remark that Spike makes," I said. "When it gets to five, we'll just stake him." Cheerfully, I smiled across the table at him, and he gave me his own fake smile back.

Xander perked at that. "Ooo, good call, Buff," he said. "Upping the ante a little."

Spike shifted a little in his seat, exhaling smoke right in my face. He's so damned charming. "Speaking of upping the ante, are we betting money on this?" he asked. "Cause you know, I could use the cash and all."

Xander gave him a look like he had just grown antennae and sprouted a tail. The mental picture made me stifle a giggle. "Uh, that would be a hell no," he said.

Disappointed, Spike sat back in his chair. Willow then smiled. "Well, here's an idea," she said. "How about whoever loses the round has to reveal some deep dark secret? Something really good. And whoever wins the game gets to tell someone outside of the game someone else's secret."

Xander threw back his head and closed his eyes. "Oh, please, God, tell me that there's something that involves Spike, liquor, and a karaoke bar," he said aloud, and Spike smiled tightly at him.

"Yes, very funny," he said. "Actually, I like Bewitched's idea. Makes things a little more... Interesting."

"Fine by me," I said. "The skeletons in my closet could deal with being aired out." With that, Willow gave me a worried expression. "Oh, I don't mean that literally."

Relieved, Willow sat back. "Sorry, but in Sunnydale, you have to wonder."

Rearranging his cards in some weird-ass order, Spike took another drag from his cigarette and shrugged. "Actually, I have a skeleton in my crypt," he said casually. "Of course, it's all gnarled up and not so attractive, but it gives it that kind of historic air." God, he has the weirdest conception of conversation. Only Spike would discuss the rotted corpse in his house like it was a new lamp that he picked up at Pier One. Like it was a Martha Stewart cadaver or something.

Clearing his throat to change the subject, Xander looked at Spike. "Okay, so you're right of the dealer, so throw down your lowest club."

Spike arched his eyebrow at Xander. "Hey, I said that I knew how to play the damn game," he said a little haughtily before tossing out a three of clubs. Willow furrowed her brow at her hand, frowning at the cards between her fingers before putting down a six of clubs. I had a shitty hand. A terrible hand, actually. It sucked.

"My hand sucks ass," I complained as I carelessly threw a king of clubs onto the table. Spike smirked at me, like that meant he won something, collecting the book and arching his eyebrow at me.

"Well, at least you brought us a book, luv," he said, stacking the cards in his hand and accidentally ashing onto the tip of a card. Great, now I was going to get cigarette ash on my fingertips when I picked up the cards. And I had just had them manicured. Really cute, too. Who says that white girls can't wear nail tips?

Sighing in exasperation, I threw a three of hearts onto the table and waited to lose.

It was going to be the longest fucking game of spades in history.


(end part one)

Chapter Two


You know that old expression, "I would love to be a fly on *that* wall?" It took me the longest time to figure it out. I've never been good with old wives' sayings and metaphors. Believe me, interpreting poetry in my English 101 class was absolute hell. I think it was my mother who told me what it meant eventually, and I've never forgotten it. There must be, like, ten thousand flies out there trading stories about what they've heard on my walls. But this had to be one of the best walls of all.

Spike was a damn good spades player. He had the strategy all worked out, never overbidding, instinctively putting down the right cards. And I have to admit, I was pretty good at it, too. Together, we were completely kicking ass, and Willow and Xander didn't look too happy about it. Too bad for them, because I was thrilled about it. How could I not be?

The score thus far:

"The Sharks": 210 points, 6 bags"The Mean People Who Do Not Get the Fun of Team Names": 450 points, 3 bags"Rude Remarks Made By Spike": 19

I was starting to keep my own score. Spike had smoked thirteen cigarettes and drunk two beers. I had downed three beers and had considered bumming two cigarettes. Willow had told two stories that involved her sixth grade sense of style (involving, oh yes, a mullet). Xander had shared one embarrassing sexual escapade with Anya, and Spike had been loudly revolted.

Actually, Spike had been pretty tolerable the whole evening, and we'd gotten some pretty juicy stuff out of him. My personal favorite had to be the time when he wrecked Giles's car. He had never told us why the Gilesmobile was trashed, but hearing that Spike didn't know how to drive stick really amused me. And it was really strange to hear everyone joshing around and forgetting history while we sort of, well, got along.

A high-pitched giggle dragged me back into reality, and Willow covered her mouth with her hand as she tipped back her head and laughed. "Oh my God, you *so* didn't have sex with Anya in Giles's bathroom," she howled, and Xander turned thirty shades of red, running his hand through his hair.

"Well, he was all out of town and it was my parents' anniversary, which meant a marathon of fighting," he muttered, and Spike was snickering while lighting what had to be his fourteenth cigarette. "What else were we supposed to do?"

I leaned in, arching my eyebrows at him, trying to hold back my own laughter. "Dude, you're supposed to, like, go in the car or something," I said, feeling a little lightheaded. Oops, my beer buzz must have wandered into drunk and was quickly approaching wasted. "Xand, honestly - Giles's bathroom? The hell?"

Spike took another swig of his Sam Addams and snorted. "I have to hand that one to you, boy," he said, a wicked grin on his face. That same wicked grin he liked to flash at me. It's the one where he looks like a contented feline, with the sly arrogance and the blatant sexuality. That stupid smile always makes me shift in my seat. "The place looks like a bleeding bordello. London-style though, so it's stodgy."

I narrowed my eyes at him, watching him smoke his cigarette. "I thought that you were *from* London," I said. Spike was anything *but* stodgy. Raunchy, brash, crude, loud - these were much better adjectives for a creature like Spike.

Spike nodded and picked up the deck of cards, the cigarette now hanging yet again from his lower lip. There is no way to express how much I hate when he does that. It makes his mouth look too nice, too pretty, and those are *so* not good when associated with Spike. He doesn't need to be vulnerable or appealing. He needs to be disgusting. Maybe he could belch. Maybe that would help. Maybe that would help me forget what his too nice, too pretty, too swollen mouth tasted like.

"I am from London," he said. "But I haven't lost in a while, so I'm not going any further." WIth that, he started to shuffle the deck.


His hands were... So fast. There was nothing but a flurry of white skin and black nail polish as Spike shuffled the cards, flying back and forth, never missing a step. How did his hands get so fast? I had never seen anything like it before. The speed, the precision, the careless grace. It was almost beautiful to watch, and I was mesmerized, eyes glazed over and watching only his fingers.

Nimbly, he cut the cards and dealt them, and I realized that Spike actually had very nice hands for a guy. Riley had very large hands to go along with his very large body, and they sometimes suffocated me. I used to lay awake in bed after we made love, thinking of how he buried me when he made love to me. Spike couldn't do that to me. He was too slender, and his fingers were very long and elegant. Nail polish was a good look for him. Most guys couldn't pull it off, but on him, it just made... Sense.

Okay, so maybe I was more drunk than I thought I was.

A little dry-mouthed and a lot flustered, I picked up my cards and lit up like a Christmas tree. Both jokers, three aces, one of which being the ace of spades, two kings, and the face cards in spades. "Ooo, I have a *great* hand," I said, and Spike raised his eyebrows over his cards.

"Do you really?" he asked, a sour twist to his mouth. "Because mine is a steaming pile of shit."

Dainty little Willow wrinkled her nose in distaste and amusement, and Xander quirked his mouth. "Always so colorful," he said wryly. "Unlike my hand. It's boring. No personality to it whatsoever."

"Like Riley?" Spike asked snidely, and I glowered at him with a cold look on my face. That was uncalled for, and I could feel Willow and Xander tense beside me.

"Not kosher, Spike," I said forcefully, and Spike actually looked guilty and a little shame-faced. Like he'd lost points or something. But I wasn't keeping score. Really, I wasn't. So I didn't know that Spike had smoked thirteen cigarettes and was working on his fourteenth, had now made twenty nasty remarks, and had ten really extraordinary fingers.

Nope. I wasn't keeping score at all.

We ended up betting six books, since Spike was absolutely pessimistic about his hand. Willow and Xander threw in seven, and I really got worried. I had shared only three secrets so far, all of them fairly pedestrian, but there was something really strange starting. For starters, I was pretty sure that I was drunk bordering on plastered, and when I'm drunk, pretty much everything comes out. It's why I rarely drink. As if that wasn't bad enough, I was also starting to think that Spike was somewhat interesting. Again, bad. Very bad.

The hand played itself out badly. I did a good job, don't get me wrong, but Spike's hand was... Well, it was awful. Like, it sucked big time. He had almost all the hearts in the deck, and so it was pretty much up to me to win. But I could only do so much when Willow was kicking ass left and right, and when it was all over, we had five books and they had eight.

I never knew that Willow could be such a bitchy winner. I guess it's the educational competitive drive in her, but she was bobbing her head left and right as she ticked off the score. "Uh-oh, looks like we get more Spike and Buffy theatre," she sang in a cheery little tone.

Spike leaned in close, so close that I could smell the cigarettes on his breath. "If I strangle her, will I get kicked out of the game?" he asked, and I saw a smile blossoming on his mouth. The spark in his eye. Wow, I never realized that Spike had blue eyes before. Blue like rivers. And the smile...

I couldn't help it; his grin was infectious. I leaned in and smiled back at him, shaking my head and never letting my eyes leave his. I don't think I could have looked away if I tried, and so I didn't even bother. "After that display, strangling her would be welcomed," I said, and there was a moment of silence there, with the two of us smiling at each other like big dumb idiots. I think I might have glowed at him.

Uncomfortably, Willow cleared her throat and looked pointedly at me, and for some strange reason, that irritated me. She's not my mother. She doesn't have any control over me, and sometimes, she thinks that she is the high moral authority on everything. When she looks at me with that highbrow attitude and that little disapproving look on her face, it makes me feel about ten inches tall and brings out the rebel in me.

It brought out the rebel in me until I realized that she was right. I *was* smiling a little too brightly. What if the smile said too much? What if it let them know what I had been enjoying Spike's company a little too much lately, that I had let my mouth slide across his and that I wanted to do it again?

For the benefit of Willow and Xander, I let the smile fade a little bit, but if Spike looked hard enough, he could have found it still lingering on my lips. I didn't erase it completely, and that was probably not a smart thing to do. I would probably regret that later. But not at the moment. In that instant, all that I wanted to do was smile at him and feel a little hot under the collar.

"So, Buff, reveal a deep, dark secret to us," Xander said, and I swallowed a little. Oh, God. A secret to tell. I had so many of them, ranging from the ridiculous to the heartbreaking. But there was a look on Spike's face, a sort of invitation to be completely open, and for some reason, I trusted him. What a stupid thing to do, I know, but I just did. I just wanted to confess.

"I never loved Riley," I said in a hushed voice, and everyone stared. It was late; there were not many people in the Bronze and an old Grant Lee Buffalo album was playing throughout the club. I could be quiet and still be honest. Nervously, I shrugged my shoulder a little and gave a soft half-smile. "No, I did love him, but I wasn't in love with him. I cared about him. Part of me still does, but there was no... Passion. No spark, you know?"

Xander had turned away from me, and I knew that it hurt to hear that. He had liked Riley, had suffered from his absence, and I think it was the testosterone factor. Riley was someone that he admired, that he looked up to as a role model, and I think that a part of him still blames me for his addiction to vampires and for driving him away from Sunnydale. Like I broke his sacred idol and never bothered to fix it.

But Riley never gave me a chance.

Uncomfortably, I continued. "He's a good man, don't get me wrong. And he was good to me, but he wasn't what I needed. Wasn't what I wanted. I don't know what I want, really. And when we were in bed together..." Spike blanched a little at that, and it made me feel even more weird. It was strange to see Spike so openly jealous over me. We hated each other. Now... I don't know. I just don't. I swallowed again and went on. "When we were in bed together, I felt like he was trying to suffocate me. Like he wanted to drown out what I was so that I could be his. It made me afraid. And, well, that's it. That's my secret."

I wanted a cigarette. One of his cigarettes. The kind that was hanging from his lower lip. Instead, I just took a long gulp of my beer, and it was gone. I didn't need anymore anyway. The others just looked away, except for Spike, who was staring right at me, like I said something that made him think.

"My turn," he said in a quiet, honeyed voice. He really did have a nice voice when he wasn't using it to be a jackass. "To backtrack for those who weren't there for our lovely night of buffalo wings and storytelling, before I was a vampire, I was a poet."

I'd never seen a spit-take done live and in person, but that's just what Xander did. He sprayed his beer all over Willow's pretty little pink Abercrombie & Fitch top, and she was too shocked to notice. Her jaw was practically on the floor.

"What?" Xander asked incredulously. "I repeat, what? You were a poet?"

Spike glared at Xander. "Yes, and I was also a prissy little wanker who lived with his mum," he said. "Even got the photographic evidence to prove it." With that, he pulled out a stained and beaten leather wallet from his stained and beaten leather coat, and procured a small yellow tintype from it. Eagerly, I snatched it from his fingers. I had been dying to see a picture of pre-vamp Spike ever since the night he told me about it.

And he was wrong. Well, not about the prissiness. But he wasn't nothing. The picture showed a young man with a mop of floppy, unmanageable blonde hair and even a little pair of glasses perched on his nose. He had a dumb smile on his face, like he hated being photographed and was nervous about it. But he looked... Well, he looked kind of like Giles. Spike was once Giles and Giles was once Spike. That's so damn weird.

Xander took the picture from me and just started laughing hysterically. Willow took it and smiled. I could tell that she saw what I saw in it. She saw that Spike had once been shy, had been doubtful and insecure, and that he was sort of cute. "I think you were cute," she said in a timid little voice and passed it back to Spike, who seemed oddly reassured by her. Good for Willow.

"Thanks," he said, pocketing the wallet and the tintype, and then he glared at Xander, who was still laughing like a heyena in the corner. "You know, not as funny as you think it is. I don't laugh at you and you look as stupid as I did. So shut your gob and quit your bloody laughing."

Wheezing through the last fit of laughter, Xander started to calm himself down, red in the face. "Oh, God, I hope that we win this game," he sighed, "because that would be the best story in the world to tell Giles." I had to snicker a little at that, because he was right. Giles would howl if he heard that the big bad had once been a namby-pampy little poet. With glasses.

Spike flipped Xander the British version of the bird, and Xander didn't get it. I didn't bother to explain. "Anyway, that's not the rest of the story," he said, and I was intrigued. Another hole in Spike's history to fill in. "I was in love with a woman back then. Cecily. She was a high-society bird, drop-dead beautiful and I was a loser. She told me that I was nothing to her, and that night, Dru made me." He was succinct with this, like he didn't care if Willow and Xander heard the same version that he told me. "But after I was turned, I came back to London to have my revenge."

A light sparked in his eye, and I was glad that it did, because it reminded of me of what Spike was. He was a killer, and he loved being a killer. "Cor, those were some good times," he reminisced. "Angel and I were just ruthless, and Dru was so thrilled. Darla was mostly bored, but the stupid bint mostly wanted to go shopping and be pretentious." I bit down on a chuckle at that. "Anyway, I saw her. I saw Cecily, and I wanted to kill her. Wanted to shag her. I didn't know what I wanted. She had fucked me up good."

He looked only at me. The rest of the world faded away. It was just Spike and me, surrounding each other, as he held my eyes and looked at me. "I didn't kill her," he murmured. "Couldn't. I let her go, and three days later, Angel beheaded her and left her head on my doorstep."

I did not know. I never knew. But it left me breathless, left me hurt and confused, like the rug had been taken from under my feet. I felt like I was falling and would never surface. I didn't know what to say to him. He had never killed Cecily, and it had been my lover, my sweet Angel, who had done such a cruel thing. What did this mean? I didn't know what to think.

And I was lost in his eyes. Hopelessly lost. All I could do was swim in the blue around his pupils, drown in them. All that I could see was Spike, the vampire who had once hurt me and now made me somehow... Sad. It was sad what had happened to him.

"It's three a.m.," Willow said in a hushed voice. "I hate to forfeit and all, but it's late and Tara will worry." Quietly, she looked at the score sheet. "You guys won, so, um, congratulations." She fidgeted with her fingers for a minute, and then she did something that really shocked the hell out of me. She stood up and ruffled Spike's hair. Like, she actually touched him. "See you around, Spike."

Xander yawned and stretched, and then looked at Spike and me awkwardly. "So, um, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't tell Giles that I had sex with Anya in his bathroom," he said, and I just smiled broadly while Spike crossed his fingers over his heart.

"Oh, your secret's safe with me," he said with a sneer. Man, Giles was going to be super-pissed.

The losing team walked out of the Bronze, and I looked across from me at Spike. "So, um, I should get going, too," I said, my fingers fidgeting with each other in my lap. "Dawn's at home with Giles, and I know that he probably wants to get home, and I have to take her to school in the morning and..."

"Do you want to play gin?" he asked, and I sighed.


I was doomed.


(end part two)

Chapter Three


I think that I'm beginning to like the way that he smokes cigarettes.

There's something very sensual about watching Spike smoke. Maybe it's the contrast of his fingernails against the white paper of the cigarette. Or is it the way that the filter looks between his lips? Part of it is the casual way that he does it, because he knows that he's addicted and does not care and because these will not kill him. And the smoke itself halos his face, softens his sharp features a bit, and makes him look a little mysterious.

And a lot sexy.

There wasn't anyone in the club at this point. Closing time had come and gone a *long* time ago, and we were pretty much the only ones in the club. After closing time, they played whatever they wanted to play, and Nelly Furtado's album made for good background music as we sat around and played cards. My slutty silver tube top was an excellent argument for us to stay there and chill, let me tell you. The guy just stared down my top and told me that we could stay as long as we wanted. We even got free beer and a free pack of cigarettes for Spike.

Which he was smoking and subsequently turning me on.

Oh, don't think of me like that. It's not my fault. I couldn't help it. What else was I supposed to do when he was sitting there being so damned charming? Shuffling cards with those *really* fast hands, making idle conversation and making me laugh. It was the strangest feeling that I had ever felt in my life - the feeling of the line being blurred. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but it was so easy to talk to him. So easy to sit there and play gin until 4am.

And we kept on sharing secrets.

"So you think that the reason all of the music on the radio sucks now is because of Bill Clinton?" I asked, feeling a little loopy and Spike-drunk.

He nodded, taking a swig of the free Heineken that Lusty Bouncer Guy gave us (tm Spike). "Absolutely," Spike said, his cigarette burning between his fingers. "Your dumb American president gave all the money to these idiot teenaged girls and they ran right out and bought as much plastic pop music they could find. Now that's what we have to listen to. No more Foghat, no more Clash, no more Ramones. Just shiny happy people." A little snarl appeared on his mouth. "Makes me right sick to my stomach."

I arched my eyebrow and made my move, placing a ten on the table and picking up an ace. "Either that or you had too much Heineken tonight," I said, and he gave me a wry smile, saying that he probably had. He smelled like alcohol. That added to his unique Spike-smell was sensory overkill. Booze, cigarettes, and sex. Spike smelled so awfully good.

I think I started giving him the dopey smile then. The smile where I'm resting my hand in my chin and kind of mooning at him. It was a very bad thing, especially because he caught it. Naturally. I can't get away with anything when it comes to Spike. He saw the starry-eyed look, the little happy glow, and he just smiled right back. Oh, he knew that he had me.

Then he played the two of hearts, and I picked it up, placing down a jack of spades. "Gin," I said softly, displaying my hand to him. He didn't bother to look at it, and I frowned. "Why don't you look at my cards? See for yourself?"

Spike shook his head, taking my cards from me and stacking the deck. "Don't have you pegged for a cheater," he said, and I swallowed. Of course not. To him, I would never lie or cheat. I was a goddamned saint, and it offended me.

"I could cheat," I said, pissed for being put on a pedestal. "I could lie. You think that you have me pegged, Spike, but you don't. You don't know all of me."

I didn't mean it as a challenge. Honest. But I should have known that that was how Spike would take it. The same competitive drive that Willow has? Well, Spike has that *plus* a good dose of starry-eyed love.

He looked down, his face crowned in cigarette smoke, the cards between his fingers as he shuffled them absently. "You wish that you could play the guitar," he murmured. "You try every now and then, but it frustrates you and you give up. You have a secret love for classical music. Your favorite season is summertime because of the thunderstorms. Late at night, when the bit's asleep, you pace around your mother's bedroom like a lost little lamb, and look out the window with the saddest damn look on your face. Like you're expecting someone to come and see you for what you are." A sad little smile touched his mouth. "And even though you'll never admit it, you like the smell of cigarettes."

I did. I liked the smell of the burning tobacco clinging to his collar, though I tried to tell myself that it was gross and sleazy. It was warm and almost old, distinctive and heavy. It made me feel warm inside. I hated that he knew that about me, that he knew my secrets, that he knew the things that made me who I was. That he loved me for me was a crime, absolutely unforgiveable. Why should Spike be able to love me like this when Angel and Riley had failed?

Why should my mortal enemy be the only one to ever love me for who I am?

I gritted my teeth, stubbornly setting my jaw. I was ready to unleash absolute hell on him for daring to tell me these things. "Did the game change, Spike?" I asked softly. "I must have missed when we decided to tell each other secrets that weren't ours."

God, Spike sucks for having such a great smile. I hated him for flashing those pearly whites at me like it was so damn cute that I decided to play rough with him. "Oh, go on ahead," he dared. "This should be entertaining."

I leaned in close to him, so close that if he could breathe, I could have felt it. "You hate your crypt because it's empty," I murmured. "You still write poetry, and it still sucks. Your favorite season is summer because of the thunderstorms, and that's one of the reasons why you love me - because I get that. Sometimes, late at night, you sit underneath the oak tree in my front yard and smoke cigarette after cigarette, just to watch me, because you're lonely." My voice got suddenly cold. "And you never wanted to kill me."

Oh, I knew Spike. I knew him so well that I could have written a best-selling novel revealing all of his secrets and gotten a butt-load of money from the Watcher's Council for writing it.

And it made him smile. It made him light up like fireworks. It bothered me that he could think that it was so good that I knew who he was. "Oh, my," Spike sighed. "Knowing you... That's expected of me. I'm in love with you. But you know me... Know every little detail, every little nook and cranny..." He arched his eyebrow at me. "Now then, duchess, what's that say about you?"

I think my jaw might have dropped, but I can't say. He pissed me off more than he's ever managed to piss me off with that one arrogant little statement. Maybe it was because he might have been right. What did it say about me that I knew him so well? So what if I did? I gritted my teeth and stiffened my body, glaring at him. "Did we just abandon the card game?" I asked him. "I mean, what is this? Grill Buffy for intimate details night?"

"No," Spike said shortly, and I could tell that he was chomping at the bit to get to me. If I was pissed, then he had just gone nuclear. "This is 'Make Buffy Admit the Truth' night." His smile turned cruel. "And you know, you're just *so* damned good at lying."

Okay. So maybe running to the bathroom wasn't the snappiest comeback, but I sort-of-really panicked. Running away is my answer to most uncomfortable situations anyway. Slayer survival skills and social graces don't always go hand-in-hand. But I just couldn't take it anymore, and dammit if Spike didn't hurt my feelings. I ran into the bathroom and threw cold water on my face, and tried to stop myself from feeling bad.

"Just bad Spike words," I muttered to myself as I wiped my face off with a paper towel. "Bad, meaningless Spike words."

But that was what made me run in the first place. Maybe there was a little truth in there. I threw the paper towel in the trashcan angrily, running my hands through my hair and trying to calm myself down. I was fine. Spike was wrong. I hadn't been lying all night, and I had never lied to him. I hated him. I wanted to kill him. These are normal thoughts to have when dealing with an aggravating little monster like Spike.

Calm. Collected. Cool. And with great hair. Yes, I was back to normal Buffy status, ready to go back and make Spike weep with frustration that he couldn't ever have someone as to-die-for as me. Then I turned around in the mirror and froze.

It was me. A skinny chick in a silver tube top and flushed skin, hair wet around the face, makeup nearly gone, and a little hurt expression on her mouth. It was me, naked and exposed, on the glass. And I was upset by it, because I saw what Spike saw. I saw the girl who couldn't lie.

I did love thunderstorms in the summertime, especially right before they come, when you don't know how bad the storm will be and it feels like it might be a tornado. And I couldn't help but wander through my mother's bedroom at night, missing how good she smelled, and wish that someone would understand how I felt without her.

And I remembered the taste of cigarettes on his mouth, underneath the blood and the bruises. I remembered how strangely hot his mouth was, and how badly my heart hurt when I kissed him. It pained me to kiss him so gingerly.

I didn't know what to do, so I just closed the door on the bathroom and walked back out in the club.

He was still sitting there at the table, the cards still between his hands, and I saw that he didn't expect me to come back. He looked relieved and surprised when I walked back to the table. "Thought I ditched you?" I said, and Spike shrugged.

"Wouldn't be the first time," he said, and I knew that he was right. I'd walked out on him so many times. That should be a good sign, that I had managed to leave him before, but I thought about how many times I should have killed him but ran away instead. Not a good thing. Not a very good thing at all.

I sighed, and tilted my head at him. "There's a first time for everything," I said softly, reminding him of what I said earlier, when we first started this whole mess. "I won, but we're playing things a little differently. I'm asking you a question, and you have to answer it with complete honesty. No bullshit."

"No bullshit," Spike repeated, his eyes deadly serious and his voice rough.

"What did Glory do to you?"

I had seen the damage, but I didn't know its source. I needed to know what she had done to him, not only for my own use against her, but to know what he had been through for us. How much he had suffered.

I think I offended him. His jaw clenched, and his eyes turned harsh, like I doubted his pain's authenticity. "Well, this black eye was from her slamming her right into me," he said, pointing to his purple eye with a chipped fingernail. "And all these little tiny cuts around the mouth? A glass. Right in my face. Hurt like a bitch. Almost made me cry."

There was rage in his voice suddenly, and I wished that I could revoke the question. "Spike," I started, feeling terrible and mean, "just..."

"No," Spike said coldly, his jaw resolute, and I could see that the memory of his ordeal was making his hands shake. He shrugged off his coat until he was in nothing but his black tee shirt, and I could see his arms. There were burns in his forearms, on the palm of his hand. "She found my cigarettes in my pocket, and decided to have herself a smoke break before chaining me from the ceiling. And I could go further and show you how she poked holes in my chest with her fingers and cut me open like a rotten apple, but I think that Lusty Bouncer Guy would get upset if I was sitting here without a stitch on, don't you?"

I had nothing to say. I couldn't look away from his hands, with those dark red burnmarks, the kind that would probably scar. He had been scarred for me. I didn't know what to tell him, how to apologize for making him answer such a bad question. "I'm sorry, Spike," I muttered, feeling ashamed. "That was wrong of me to ask."

But once Spike's temper is out of the bullpen, it doesn't stop until someone's lying in the ground, bleeding. "Oh, we're not quite done yet, duchess. We've still got the mouth. She dragged me by my lip, you know, and then slammed that glass in my mouth, along with a couple of really good punches. Let me tell you, she's got one hell of a right hook."

It made me feel terrible. I was a beast. "Spike..."

"Is that what you wanted to hear?" he asked, his voice suddenly quiet. "Wanted to see if I suffered enough to be good enough for you?"

I was torn between two halves, one wanting to snipe back at him that he would never suffer enough for me, and the other wanting to tell him that he should not have had to suffer in the first place. The sight of his bruised and purple eye, then the sight of his mouth swollen, made me waver to the latter.

Waveringly, I brought my hand over and cupped it over his, absolutely incapable of looking him straight in the eye. I didn't have anything to say that would make for a good apology, so I just held his hand briefly, and I felt him relax under my touch. His skin was cold, but not unappealingly so. It wasn't hard; it was soft, and slightly moist. He was nervous around me, and the thought surprised me. I didn't think that Spike could ever be nervous - he was too goddamn snide and arrogant to give a shit.

But I could see the sudden insecurity, the chink in the bleach and leather armor. It was how his hand would occasionally jump under mine, like he wanted to touch me so badly but couldn't bring himself to actually do it. It was nice to see him vulnerable, considering that he's usually a jackass.

"Forget it," Spike sighed, and I had to bite down a smile. Men can be so easy sometimes. They're all whores for love. "Doesn't matter. What's done is done and so on."

I didn't move my hand. My fingers didn't want to move, even when my brain told me that it was probably an opportune time to move them. Actually, my brain was telling me that it was a bad idea for me to have put my hand there in the first place, but as Spike said, "what's done is done." I just wanted to let my hand linger there, wanted to feel my hot palms against his cool ones, like they somehow balanced each other out.

That was when he decided that it was a good idea for him to move his other hand, and reached around to cup my wrist, surrounding my skin with his cool sweat. It made me shudder, made me think about my hot mouth against his bruised lips. I wanted to taste him again. I wanted to drown in his nicotine and blood.


"Shit," I muttered as I pulled away from him, jerky with my actions, too afraid to be graceful. I had the shit scared out of me, terrified of myself and what I was doing. I stood up quickly, trying to gather the deck of cards in my hand and failing miserably. Cards scattered on the table, and I muttered an apology, abandoning the deck on the table. Mental note: buy Xander a new deck of cards. Or, considering what this game had led to, never buy Xander cards again.

"Don't," Spike said hoarsely, and I looked down at him with horror, realizing that he wanted me. It was sexy. It was awful.

"I have to go home," I said, my voice sharp and alarmed. "I have to get Dawn to school in the morning, and I have to go talk to some of my professors, and I have things to do..." I suddenly felt bad for ditching him, but what else could I do? This wasn't his fault, but being around him wasn't a good idea on my part.

Before he could say anything else, I spun around and walked towards the door, my cheeks flaming and my vision a little blurred from panic and alcohol. Oh, Lord, it was a terrible, terrible idea to get plastered and hang around with Spike.

"Definitely not a bright night for you, Buff," I muttered, walking out the exit door and into the back alley where I'd learned a good history lesson from my favorite mortal enemy not too long ago. The first night where he tried to kiss me. The first time I should have figured out that something was wrong.


Goddammit, couldn't I escape him for once? Here he was, already limping his way out the door, looking as pathetic and heartbroken as a Sid Vicious wannabe could look. "I never got to ask you a question," Spike demanded, and I clenched my jaw at him, tipping my chin and glaring at him.

"Did you forget the rules, Spike?" I asked harshly. "You didn't win the hand. I did."

Spike narrowed his eyes at me, getting so close so that if he breathed, I would be able to feel it. "I thought we threw out the cards a long time ago," he said lowly. "I'm asking my goddamn question."

Glaring at him coldly, I dared him to ask it. Come on, Spike. Ask your stupid little question. "Oh, please," I sneered. "I'm really, really in need of a good laugh."

Tightly, like it was killing him to even speak to me, Spike smiled. "All right then," he said. "Why didn't you ever kill me?"

It floored me, and I didn't know what to say. I wanted to run. Wanted to flee as far away from Spike and his nasty, complicated question. I wanted to stake him. I still wanted to kiss him. But all that I could do was look at him, mouth flapping like a dying fish, without anything to say.

Then we both looked up, startled by what we saw above us.


A thunderstorm.


(end part three)

Chapter Four


I've never been a religious girl. My father used to try to get me to go to church with him before he decided to go all deadbeat dad, but we lived with my mother, the recovering hippie, so my sister and I never got a real taste of religion. I've never really missed it, but on this night, I did come to a conclusion in matters of faith:

Every single god in the world was in on a massive spiritual conspiracy to make me suffer.

Honestly, it was the only viable reason I could think of for my current situation. I was stuck in a little backroom of the Bronze intended for rowdy drunks and teenagers on bad trips in the middle of a vicious thunderstorm with Spike, and we weren't going anywhere for a while.

The room smelled like dead fish. Dead fish, spilled booze, wasted cigarettes and the lovely smell of vomit. The only attempt at decor in the room was a bunch of old posters and advertisements plastered to the walls, and a fluorescent light flickered wearily from above, shorting out every now and then from the lightning storm raging outside.

Of course, due to the "God vs. Buffy" war that I explained earlier, there was only one itty bitty cot pushed back in the corner of this dirty little room, and that was what Spike and I had to share for the duration of the night.

Neither one of us wanted to look at the cot. Spike hovered in the corner, adding another cigarette to the stench, and I crossed my arms over my chest to hide the skimpiness of my silver tube top from him. I whistled, he smoked, I hummed along to the songs, he glared at me to tell me that my singing was not fit for sound in general.

"This sucks," I said aloud grouchily, pacing back and forth. "This really, really sucks." To punctuate how much the situation sucked, I kicked a broken bottle of beer across the floor, and its stale contents spilled over the cement floor. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized what I had done - now neither one of us could sleep on the beer-soaked floor. It was bed or bust, and I had just fucked myself over royally.

"Could be worse," Spike said off-handedly. "Could be raining."

Great. I was locked into a dank little room containing one tiny cot and a vampire obsessed with me and Mel Brooks movies.

Briefly, I thought about starting to keep score again:

God: 2
Buffy: 0
Spike: Probably a million points.

He was loving it. I could tell that this was exactly what he had always hoped for - being locked in a little room with Buffy Summers and one stinky, uncomfortable-looking cot to share for the duration of a night. Yup, Spike was in a hovel twisted into some sort of sick heaven for him, and I was beginning to feel a little panicky at the prospect of sharing a bed with him.

Sighing, I sat down on the dreaded bed and put my head in my hands. I wished that I was anywhere in the world other than in this room. There was a broken clock on the wall, teasing me with the possibility of even knowing what time it was, and I shook my head. "I've got to get home soon," I muttered. "Dawn needs me."

"Oh, I'm sure that the munchkin will be fine," Spike said. "She'll brush her teeth and say her prayers and all that domestic bullshit, and she'll wake up without even knowing that you were gone all night."

The thought distressed me suddenly. Would Dawn even miss me? Would she even look for her sorry excuse for a mother, even try to find out where her sister had gone?

I bit my lip and worried about her, and Spike suddenly frowned, wincing when he realized that, as per usual, he had said the wrong thing. "Hey, I don't mean that," he said quickly. "All I'm saying is that she'll be fine without you for just one night. Giles will hold the old fort down."

Sharply, I looked up at him and gave a pointed look to his battered state. "That would be a lot more reassuring without the bruises and the limp," I said, and Spike had the decency to let that go. "Everything's dangerous right now, Spike. I need to be home. What if Glory takes this opportunity..." I couldn't even bear to finish. All I could do was think about how young Dawn was, how much I loved her, and I couldn't speak.

He touched me then. Literally. His fingers ran through my hair, carefully sweeping it away from my shoulders. "She won't," he murmured. "Took care of that already, remember? Got the pain to prove it."

Oh, we all had the pain to prove it. Like now, the pain of not knowing whether to push Spike away or pull him close. My brain told me a thousand reasons why I should stake him now like I had never been able to before, but my skin was coming up with some excellent opposing arguments. Like how nice his cool fingers felt in the humidity. Or how beautiful his eyes could be when he was like this, like the blue became more noticeable. And damn, that mouth, so ripe and swollen, so deliciously enticing...


Quickly, I jerked away from him, standing up and crossing the other side of the room, never glancing back at him. "Stupid broken clock," I spat at the useless clock on the wall.

I heard him throw his cigarette to the ground, and I refused to look at him. I knew that he was sulking around, pissed off that I had rejected him, and I could hear him limp back and forth across the jail cell. Seething, I set my jaw and turned around, back against the wall, arms crossed, in complete bitch mode.

"You know, pacing in small quarters is not exactly charming," I said snidely, and Spike glared at me with a malice that I recognized. Oh, good. It was time to fight. The only part of my twisted relationship with Spike that was *any* fun whatsoever. The man really does have a talent for verbal warfare.

Thunder clapped outside; the storm was really beginning to rage. I didn't appreciate Mother Nature's hand in this catastrophe. "Oh, but everything I does pisses you off, now doesn't it?" Spike shot back at me, and it was not very convincing or threatening with him dragging his wounded leg behind him.

I glared back at him, giving him the patented "whatever" eye roll that only a true California girl can do properly, and it just pissed him off even more. "You're just torturing me for fun, Summers," he said. "Making me think that everything's all right with a game of cards, making me throw out everything I have to offer but offering nothing back but a little sympathy and a right to the chin."

"What have you thrown out on the table tonight, Spike?" I challenged, and Spike laughed tiredly, in exasperation.

"Oh, I threw it all out," Spike sighed. "History, passion, and a couple of aces. But really, what have you given me? I just want answers. I just want you to answer a question that I can't figure out."

There was lightning; I could see it through the frosted glass of the window in the small chamber. Rain pelted against the glass, and I wished for a tornado, just like I always did, but this was for a good purpose - to kill me and get me out of this situation. But I knew that the storm wouldn't be so kind, so I had to answer his damned question. The question that I didn't even know how to answer.

"Fine," I said lowly, and then I started to sweat. Damned humidity. Damned vampire. "I never killed you because... I don't really know, sometimes. Maybe the world was more interesting with you in it. Maybe all the fights, all the arguments, all the nose-thumbing is kind of fun. Maybe I like it sometimes."

My mouth was running away with itself again, and I felt like a cartoon when I clapped my hand over my mouth at the end. Nice save there, chosen one.

Now Spike was staring at me, like he honestly hadn't expected me to give a really, brutally honest answer to his question. "You get it too, don't you," he said, his voice low, seductive and almost lilting. Like hypnosis through honey. "The fights are the best part. The banter, the threats, the fire... You aggravate me more than any other person on the planet."

He aggravated me, too. No one could crawl under my skin and rattle my nerves like Spike. It was beyond reason to get so pissed off at him sometimes, but I couldn't help it. He pressed my buttons in all the wrong places, and somehow, I ended up pressing all of his in all the right.

Suddenly, an idea occurred to me, and I tilted my head towards the side. Not challenging anymore, merely... Curious. "You said that was a question that you never figured out," I said quietly. Everything had grown softer suddenly, like the electricity had settled into nothing more than a burning ember between us. "Well, I have one too. Why do you love me?"

Spike was taken aback by the question briefly, and then he stepped forward, his bruises dark shadows underneath his eyes. "You know, took me a long time to know why myself," he said, running his hand through his tousled hair. "Couldn't figure it out for the life of me. All I knew was that I woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly..." He didn't say it; he just let his voice trail off, and then he stepped even closer, so close that I was trapped between him and the dirty wall.

His fingertips skimmed over my forearm, and I couldn't help it. I shivered, feeling like his touch was lightning, and I was shocked through and through. I simmered underneath Spike's touch, and I looked up at him, captured in his gaze. "Fucked me up good, you did," he murmured. "Not your fault though. Not mine, either. It's just the way that it is, duchess. I loved you from the beginning, from the first time I saw you and Xander dancing right in this very place. The curve of your shoulder..."

His hand reached up to touch it, and his rough fingertips caressed my skin in a way that made my heartbeat race and my breath quicken. "The fall of your hair..." Now his fingers stroked my temple, running through my hair and making my mouth dry and my body feel swollen and sore with arousal. "It all did something to me. But it's not just lust; I could have dealt with lust. It's something more. Something about you..."

"What?" I whispered hoarsely, my voice caught by the storm inside of me.

The back of his hand whispered down my cheek, and I turned my face to it, wanting his touch, wanting him to continue with these feather-light caresses. Gently, I reached up to cup his forearm, to keep him positioned there, to fasten him to me. "Everything about you," he sighed, and I could feel the tension from him, knowing that he wanted this as badly as I did. Just to touch for a while. Just to explore and feel this light. This... Free. "It's everything about you, Buffy. You're everything that I lost when I was made, everything that I thought I didn't want, but..."

Suddenly, I understood. We had never wanted each other, but in this room, without our careful guards and the rules we were supposed to live by, we had found each other. He had broken everything he lived by, and had been bruised and beaten by it. I didn't know that vampires could be noble. Didn't know that he could be heroic. And I wanted that piece of him, that new, strange glimmer in him that was so alluring and... Good.

Slowly, almost shyly, I reached my other hand up to touch him, and I wrapped my hand around his neck, cupping his head in my hands. His hair was soft under my touch. I didn't know that he could be soft like this. Didn't know that he could be this lush. I was swimming, almost drowning, and buried underneath the stench of the room was *his* smell. The smell of cigarettes and sex.

The smell that I loved.

So close together, so entwined that we were nearly inseparable, Spike leaned forward, his voice hushed and rough. "Answer me one more question," he murmured into the curve of my ear, his lips caressing my earlobe in a manner that made me hiss out a moan. "Tell me why you kissed me yesterday."

Cheek to cheek now, I pressed my face against the side of his, never wanting to let go of his skin, and I brushed my own lips against his ear when I responded, without the lies, without the falsehoods. "Because of the bruises," I whispered, terrified of my honesty and spellbound by his. "Because of the split lip, and the glass in your cheek, and the cuts on your chest." The chest that my hand was now touching, never hearing the beat of his heart, and never really needing to, either. I knew it was there. I knew it was mine. "Because of them, you were beautiful."

Now I touched him, touched his bruises. I felt the swollen heat of fever underneath his cheek, and even as he winced, he wanted me to touch him. Spike pressed his cheek against my hand, and then I touched his mouth, feeling the silk of his lips underneath my hand, remembering how he felt underneath my kiss...

And then I was feeling it, as I leaned my head up to his and kissed him again.

Power, this time. No fleeting little breath, no soft slide. This was all passion, all teeth and tongue, as we met frantically at the mouth and kissed until I was breathless. Hunger and greed seized me, and I dug my hands into his shoulders, pulling him close to me while we kissed feverishily. His mouth tasted like everything good and everything bad, confusing and nice all at once.

Losing it. I was completely losing it. This would be the definition of losing it, kissing Spike like this, but I decided right then and there that I didn't care. So what if I was losing it? I must have been losing it for years, since I knew in that moment, lost in his kiss, that I had wanted this from the beginning. I had wanted him in a primal sense, and after tonight, after yesterday, I was beginning to want him in other senses, too.

I wanted his heart.

Our hands were everywhere, scouring across each other's bodies, looking for the places that we wanted to nuzzle and caress, the places we wanted to bite and lick. I found my first spot in the hollow of his jaw, nipping at where his heart should beat with my blunt teeth. His tongue looped through the silver hoop in my earlobe, licking at metal and skin. Fingernails scratched against the skin of my back, and I hissed, arching my hips against him and throwing my head against the wall. I was burning from the inside out, on fire with want, and the thunderstorm raged outside.

I stepped away from him then, just one foot back, and looked at him. I could see the arousal in him, from the way his erection pressed against his black jeans, to the way that his eyes burned like immolation. He wanted it, and I wanted to give it to him. Let him know that no fake girl would ever provide him with as much pleasure as I possibly could. Tell him that programming and wires were nothing compared to me.

Programming. Wires. It was just... Too weird. I couldn't help but think of what he might have done with it, the things he could have programmed, and it, well, freaked me out. I was *not* going to have sex with someone who had made a robot me and had sex with it only forty-eight hours ago. It was just not the brightest of ideas... At least not now.

I sighed, looking away from him briefly. "Look, I hope you don't think I'm that easy," I said, turning my face back to him and arching my eyebrow. "I've had bad experiences with first-night relationships. They always end up leaving in the morning."

Spike flashed me an ironic smile. "Well, pet, leaving at sunrise wasn't exactly my plan," he said glibly, and I rolled my eyes, leaving a smile on my face when I did it.

"Smartass," I said, and it was hard not to smile at him. "But you did get the picture, right? This is all still very weird and very, very wrong, especially after the most recent wacky robot hyjinx." It was a pointed remark, and believe me, he got it. He even had the decency to look a little shame-faced, conceding that yes, building a fake Buffy and having some sort of warped sex with it was not going to get me into bed.

At least not tonight.

"Right," Spike said, grimacing when he shifted his weight onto his wounded leg. "Probably not a good idea anyway, what with all the bruises and the pain."

"Yeah," I said, feigning innocence. "Probably not a good idea at all."

"Well, we still have that one bed and a couple of hours before sunrise," Spike said, gesturing to the cot underneath the frosted window. "How 'bout I promise you that I won't get fresh if you don't?"

I barked out a laugh at that one and then ran my hands through my hair, still trying to overcome the buzz from beer and Spike. "I can't make any promises," I said a little shakily. I got hot all over again every time I glanced in his direction. Oh, those hands and how they flipped so gracefully through the deck when he shuffled... Or that mouth, tasting like cigarettes...

Nope. No promises whatsoever.

Awkwardly, Spike looked away when he shed his coat, and gingerly took off his shirt, wincing at his sore body. I was almost floored by how badly he had been tortured. There were all sorts of circular wounds on his chest, scabbed over and still tender- looking, and long slashes that only could have come from a skilled hand wielding a sharp blade.

"Jesus," I muttered, walking over to him when he stumbled briefly and nearly fell over. Quickly, I put my arm around him and helped him to the bed, cradling his head in my hand before laying him down. "Oh, man, Spike, I'm sorry..."

"Not your fault," he said tiredly. "She just got a little carried away, I suppose."

Worrying at my lip with my teeth, I sat down next to him on the bed and felt a little bad that I hadn't been there the night before. "How badly does it hurt?" I asked, and Spike shrugged his shoulders, looking down at the scrawls across his chest.

"Bad," he admitted. "Could be worse, though."

I smiled. "Could be raining," I finished softly, and reached down to touch one of the stray locks of white-blond hair falling over his brow. "You know, I think I like your hair better this way. Say good-bye to the hair gel - it's now officially gone."

"Bye," Spike sighed wearily, and I could tell that he was exhausted. It was nearly sunrise, and he was fading out, beaten and ready to go to sleep. Frankly, after a night like tonight, I was worn out, too.

Gently, I laid myself down next to him, pulling the scratchy- looking blanket over our bodies and turning myself towards him. Nothing wrong with a little spooning, right? Nothing strange or weird there, snuggling up with the guy I've been halfheartedly trying to kill for the past three years, right? I sighed to myself. Oh, it was wrong, all right. It was wrong and right all at the same time.

I tucked my head underneath his chin, resting my cheek on his shoulder, pressing my palm against his cool, bruised chest. "I don't really know what to think of you right now, Spike," I murmured. "I really don't."

Strange to feel him chuckle underneath my cheek. Strange but good. "Neither do I, duchess," he said, and I smiled.

"Duchess," I said. "I could get used to that term of endearment. Much better than 'Slayer'. How weird would that sound if--" Better not to finish that sentence. I've said too much for one night, anyway.

Again, that nice little chuckle. He had a nice laugh, and I'd never noticed it before now. He sounded happy when he laughed, and I'd never heard that from one of my lovers. Not even Riley, and never Angel. Only Spike could ever be happy with me - sad but exhilarating all at once.

Outside, the rain was beginning to slow, and the thunder was nothing more than an occasional rumble or tired growl. No more lightning, just the steady white noise of rain. It was soothing, nice, lying on a cot underneath a scratchy blanket with my cheek against Spike's chest and his hand on my back.

"And the award for strangest night in history goes to," I murmured against his skin, and I felt him laugh again while touching my hair.

"So, pet, where do we go from here?" he asked, and I shrugged my shoulders.

"I don't know," I said. "I think I need some time to figure all of this out. And some time to get over the freak-out factor. But until then, who knows? Maybe another game of spades next week." I grinned broadly. "After all, we did beat the shit out of Willow and Xander."

Now it was Spike's turn to gloat, and he was, naturally, an expert. "Yeah," he said slowly, with great satisfaction. "We certainly did. They'll think twice before they play with us again."

"Oh, definitely," I agreed, and then I lifted my head up so that I could see his face. It was beautiful, even under the bruises, or maybe it was because of the bruises. His good deeds written across the structure of his face, like an addition to his angular architecture, made my heart hurt in a way that I had never experienced before. Confusing, painful, but undoubtedly good all at once.

"Spike," I murmured, looking at his heavy-lidded eyes. He had such long eyelashes. "Do you want to know what secret I'm going to tell?" He nodded, and I smiled. "I'm telling it to you, and the secret is that I could fall in love with you."

It was the truth. The way that he sacrificed himself, the painful way that he was changing, the brilliant flash of his eyes and the tilt of his chin... I could fall in love with him if I knew him better. If I gave myself time and allowed myself to do so.

And I could definitely fall in love with the way that he kissed me just then, with that silky pout of a mouth that should never have been given to any human being. "Want to know what I'm going to tell?" he murmured back, and I nodded. "I'm going to tell Giles that Xander shagged Anya in his bathroom."

I threw my head back and laughed, flicking his forehead with my finger. "Punk," I snorted, and Spike grinned, fingering a lock of my hair.


So what if I didn't know what was going to happen tomorrow? So what if I had absolutely no way to predict how fate or destiny or even the weather was going to unfold? Strangely, none of these things mattered in this dank and extremely disgusting little room, curled up in a creaky cot with a vampire that I was maybe falling in love with. All that mattered was that I was a duchess and he was a punk, and there was still a good hour before sunrise that I could spend in his arms. And maybe a lifetime after that. Or at least until he started acting like a jackass again.

Just as I was about to drift off into never-never land, Spike touched my temple with his fingertip and spoke. "So, tomorrow night, hearts?"

And all I could do was groan and say, "Deal me in."




Well, that's the end of my strange little spades-oriented fic. I hope that everyone got a little levity and fun from it, and I had a blast writing it. Thanks again to Heather for beta-reading, to Barbara and Megan for playing in real-life, and to the readers who will hopefully send me a little feedback at


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