Look Who’s Stalking
Buffy had been watching for hours, elbows buried into knees, hands clenched around the binoculars, shoulders hunched into the triangle of night she’d opened up behind the curtains. It couldn’t be long now. LA pre-dawn was hovering above the buildings, brown fading to pink. This color scheme? With the orange curtain and the beige walls and the brownish stains splattered across them? My corner of LA could use a major makeover.
But just as she was wondering who would be getting the letter about that civic improvement project, a pale light caught the corner of her eye and she froze. She almost missed it, going on 48 hours without sleep and she almost missed the one thing she’d come so far to see. Spike. Across the street, his cigarette winked as he fumbled for his keys.
He was here. Did he look different? His duster. His hair’s the same. Blond. Duh. It was true. Here, not burned in a fiery sacrificial flame. Not Mr. Big Pile of Dust. Not a memory to inspire strength or regret or longing. Here and not with her. Here, after she’d forgiven him, trusted him, risked her friendships—hell, risked her friends—by putting him first, above everyone. He was here having found that ultimately, she wasn’t worth the transatlantic dime.
It wasn’t that she hadn’t believed it before but seeing it was different. This believing took hold of her blood with ice. Her pulse froze, then stabbed, first with a knife-like happiness and then, just with a knife.
Why? It was a bad, bad word. Her hands went numb. She felt sick in her throat like when she found her mother’s body and realized it wasn’t alive. She couldn’t breathe from asking why.
Because we didn’t—because I couldn’t—?
The tears did rise, she could hear a strange sobbing coming from somewhere connected with her body.
Why did I have to be right about his only wanting the unattainable? I was wrong about a billion other things about Spike—and Angel—and Riley . . . . Couldn’t I just be consistent and be wrong about that too?
Buffy felt like she was being strangled. This wasn’t what she came here for. She’d do anything not to feel this. Anything was better.
Was it better thinking he was dead? asked the little under-voice.
This thought seemed to cause a short-circuit. A little pop went off in her brain and she seemed to see a little flash. It helped her find some breathing room. She looked across the street to see the door close and the light come on around the edges of curtains. She relaxed then. In a perfect slow-motion, Buffy leaned back in the chair and looked around at the walls of her room.
The stains on the walls suddenly looked digitally clear and formed just the right patterns. Her breathing came easy now, and the pink brown stains of the sky out the window echoed the patterns on the walls in the room. All these patterns seemed to spell out one thing: she was right where she was supposed to be, cool and alone and in total control.
So it was true: Spike was back, and he hadn’t called her, and even though he probably had some kind of fancy justification for it to make himself look good, she could see the writing on the wall. Even in the weird stain font.
The writing said: So. Betrayed by a demon lover? Shock much? not really. The writing said: Spike was all resurrected and maybe even a little choseny himself, but the fact remained. He’d tossed her away like every single other stupid man or vampire that had ever got within two feet of her pants, let alone her heart. And this time, undead again or not, there was going to be hell to pay.
Not lame-ass hell-dimension-spit-you-back-in-a-hundred-years hell. Buffy hell.
—What about the beat-you-to-a-bloody-pulp-in-an-alley-an- leave-you-for-dead hell? That worked, said the under voice.
Buffy snorted. Please. That was Hell for Buffy, and that’s not what I mean. I did that out of weakness. It was about me, not him, and he knew that. Spike saw all that as foreplay anyway. And I was out of my mind, out of control—not like now.
I didn’t even love him then.
And no matter what he said then, he knew I didn’t, because he kept coming back for more, kept coming back until—
Until I did.
Love, forgiveness, vulnerability, sacrifice in a burning flame, loss, nobly carrying on and then—and then Andrew lets it slip some drunken night in a bar.
“Joke’s on you, Slayer,” she said out loud.
But now things have changed, and everyone, especially stupid surprisealiveagain!vampires, should be more careful. No one should be counting on some sacred calling to keep her from having her way with her personal life. Not now. She may be a Slayer but the change meant she had time on her hands. She could take things slow with Spike. She was going to make him squirm like the roach she slowly squished into the carpet under her stiletto.
“Pop!” she said aloud. Her lips curved into a lazy half-smile as she settled back into the orange chair, night vision binoculars poised and ready.
* * * * * *
Spike fumbled the keys of his door, almost dropping his cigarette in the process, brain fogged from Jack Daniels and the effort not to think too hard. He opened the door and glanced with evident distaste at the orange indoor-outdoor carpeting, dampening to brown around the edges, almost bleeding into the brownish-grey stains on the brownish-pink walls.
Bloody hell, he thought, time to eat another decorator. “Not that I would, mind you,” he said out loud, to no one in particular. Certainly not to the powers-that-be, because he wasn’t speaking to them. Not until they got their story straight. Ghost or chosen or evil law firm or go it alone or becoming human or souled vampire or just sold out . . . and all of it trying so hard to matter. And failing, at least tonight.
“But then,” he sighed, sinking into the torn chair in front of the tv, “What could compete with all this?” He poured cold pig’s blood into a chipped mug and used it as chaser to another swig of bourbon from the open bottle on the floor.
Word had it some strung-out-looking dark-haired bird was asking all kinds of questions about him earlier that night. “Human or vamp?” he’d asked, tensing. Dru?
“Human, dude, best I could figure, but real comfy with any low-life demon who was claimin’ to know thing one about you, dude.”
Spike tightened his grip on the throat of the strangely bronzed vamp. “Don’t ever call me that again.”
“Sorry, dude—I mean, guy, but that girl was some kinda crazy. I mean, there was something off about her, like I could feel it. She was like, tingling. Or maybe just on meth. . .Seriously wacked on something. Coulda been a vamp. I was just hangin’ in the back, like, cuz’ I don’t, you know, know you, except when you like, beat me up to tell you stuff. ”
“Right. And if you want me to be able to continue doing that, which can only happen if you’re not dust,” Spike spoke slowly and quietly as he cocked his head to one side and looked at the vamp boy’s limbs appraisingly, “you’ll stick to that policy of not sayin’ squat about me to anyone.”
“Right on, du—oom. I love Doom. Great game, you play?”
“Yeah, when I get the—I mean, of course not. And where’s a vamp get a bleedin’ tan?”
“Spray-on, dude, it’s the wave of the future, you want me to hook you up?”
Spike had dropped him on the floor in disgust without trying to get any more information. He had to get away before he dusted one of his best sources. If he ever got his hands on the genius who sired a surfer, though, that vamp would not be so lucky.
Great. Strung-out meth-head, maybe human, maybe vamp. Looking for me. One more thing to look forward to. Maybe, if his luck really held, it might be another psychotic rogue slayer.
He looked around at the walls of his room, his single bed, his tiny fridge, his particle board desk. “If these walls could talk,” he sighed, “what stories they could tell… sat and drank, sat and drank, swore at the telly, sat and drank. Watcher’s life’s a bleedin’ action flick compared to mine these days.”
He looked at the walls again, allowing his gaze to linger on the upper left-hand corner near the air vent where there was a water stain that enough alcohol could convince him looked a little like Buffy. “Hello, pet, nothing like comin’ home to the little woman, all wet and waitin’ for me like that.” He raised his glass to the dirty patch of wall. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
Bloody wanker, that one, by the way. Lets the girl go off with the wrong guy even after he knows she loves him, and to top it off, he lies, says when she said it, she was lyin’—he throws it all away to save the soddin’ world, gives up the one girl he ever really loved, and to top it all off he teams up with some other formerly cynical bloke who had been working for an evil law firm… er… collaborating with the Vichy government…
“Which means I end up with Angel? Bugger this.”
He scowled at the wall. “I take it back. Not lookin’ at you at all. And sorry, pet, you’re a looker, but you’re no Ingrid Bergman.” Spike took another deep pull on the bottle at his side. “’Specially not when you’re all grey and runny like that. Not to mention flat.”
Spike ran his fingers through his hair and looked around his room once more. “What am I soddin’ on about? If these walls could talk, they’d only say one thing: ‘Whatever it is, if it’s coming for you, mate, it can’t be good.’”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/68899.html