Look Who’s Stalking
As soon as Spike pulled the door open, he froze. He couldn’t say how, but something was off.
Of course, something was off with his whole unlife. He was recently resurrected. The one person who’d helped him and he’d actually liked had been burnt up by a smurf-colored ex-god. He was living in a moldy basement flat with orange carpeting and working at an evil law firm run by his arch-rival while his great love was snogging an age-old poser in a great city where they had good coffee.
Right. And I was thinkin’ something was off?
He stood still another moment—nothing moving or breathing that he could hear—and then closed the door behind him and turned on the light. No one there, but—he sniffed at the air. It smelled—citrusy. And tropical.
Flat smells like bleedin’ fruit salad.
This strange, unmistakable truth did little to improve Spike’s mood.Still, he could hardly call the mélange of fruit scents sinister. But if had someone been in his flat, that could be trouble—
Right. The much-feared Del Monte demon leaves a trail of terror and pear cubes in its wake, and few they are that live to tell the tale. . . .
Spike shook his head as if to clear it. He cast a glance around the apartment, then carefully examined every surface. Nothing seemed out of place, exactly, but it didn’t seem just how he’d left it either.
Right. Because I’d gone and forgotten to refresh the pot-pourri. He glared up at the vent in the corner. And now the neighbours have taken care of that. Thoughtful, really. Spike grabbed an empty beer bottle from the desk. Like fuck.
He flung the bottle at the vent but with less than impressive force, and instead of shattering into a satisfying explosion of shards it clunked dully and spewed a few brown chips across the floor before tumbling with a faint thud to the carpet.
Spike threw up his hands and then threw himself onto the bed, burying his head in his pillow. Of course if he just stopped breathing altogether the smell would be less of a problem. But it was his flat and what was the use of your own bloody flat if you couldn’t bloody well breathe in it if you felt like it?
To prove his point, Spike breathed deeply in preparation for a suitably dramatic sigh when his vampire senses were subject to yet another assault. Bloody—blueberry? But no, it wasn’t, it was sweeter, more sickly, like plastic would smell if it wanted to be blueberry. And to top it all off, it seemed to make him weep and get hard at the same time.
He sprung up like he’d been stung. It was just too much. It was one thing to ask a man—or a vampire—to fight evil fang and nail, day and night, to work alongside an old rival with a ridiculous hairstyle, to remain half a world away while the woman of his dreams was wined and dined in a very romantic language and remained unaware of his existence.
It was another thing entirely to infuse the one corner of space he could call his own with artificial fruit scents and then, on top of it, program artificial physiological responses to them. Artificial and—wrong responses. So wrong.
“I’ve got a lot of kinks, but none of them ever leaned toward fruit—well, not literally—”
Spike put his hands on his knees and his head in his hands and drove his palms upwards against his nose and sinuses. Ow. But it helped for a minute.
This isn’t about evil law firms. This is about a girl. Riley Finn has a hand in this or I’ll eat my hat—not that I’d wear one.
He looked around again, scrubbed his palms against his eye sockets let loose an aggravated growl.
“I need to get out more.” He threw a salute to the stains by the vent, “Ta, love. Sorry about the glass, then,” and he was out the door in search of something to fight. Something with a body. Preferably unscented.
* * * * * *
Buffy was just settling into her pizza when her eye the caught the movement of the door across the street.
“Oh, I’m good,” she said out loud. Maybe Spike was on his way to beat the truth about fruit smells from some unsuspecting lawyers. She hadn’t been concentrating on where he went as much as on getting a handle on his comings and goings. But now, it was time for Phase II.
She paused to swallow her mouthful—it was the most solid food she’d eaten in days—and she was on her feet, black bag in hand. “That’s right. Off you go, Spikey. And this time, I’ll be tagging along right there with you.”
Buffy slapped her hat on, spritzed herself with fake Obsession, and in no time at all, she was trailing her quarry down the darkened street. Late as it was, there was still enough activity on the street to mask her footsteps. My artificially altered and thus completely unfamiliar footsteps, that is. She smirked. Her black clothes blended with the shadows and she stayed close to the walls and doorways.
And I, in my fashion-forward Jack Nicholson hat, thought to cover my light-reflecting blond hair. Unlike some vampires I could mention.
Spike’s white-blond hair stood out like a beacon. Buffy didn’t even need the Special Ops infra-red field glasses she’d brought. “Stupid fashion-victim vampire,” she muttered. Of course, the thought of Spike in a hat made her giggle. She knew it wasn’t her best look either, and poly-cotton sweats had never been her patrolling outfit of choice, whatever their practical value. But sometimes the mission had to come first.
She tensed as she saw the white hair duck into an alley.
Buffy quickened her pace. A trap? Had he spotted her? She paused again, every nerve strained in anticipation. Then she heard it, the familiar rhythm. Thud. Swish. Thump. Growl. Spike had found a fight. Scanning the nearby buildings on the lookout for a safe vantage point, she settled on a nearby fire-escape, leapt to the ladder, and scaled to the roof. She hadn’t moved that fast in weeks and as she slowed to the edge of the building and looked down, her heart was racing.
Of course it was. Days of espresso beans. Super-human jump. Spike—no more dead than he ever used to be, and decidedly undusty—pummeling vamps in an alley.
The sight did nothing to ease her heart rate. He was right there. She could jump down into the fight with him. Stake a vamp or two. Exchange insults and then maybe blows, then tongues, grinding up against the wall in a frenzy of blood and sweat.
Buffy was itching to do just that when it hit her. Again. He hadn’t called. He didn’t want her there. He didn’t want her to be seeing this, seeing him, touching him, ever. It hit her so hard her head was reeling and she had to step back from the building’s edge. She stumbled backwards, blinded by tears.
Buffy sat for a moment, completely senseless. Is this even happening? She shook herself. She could still hear the sounds of fighting—some new vamps had shown up, sounded like. She didn’t look back. There’s work to be done, Summers. He’s busy for a while now. Get off your ass.
Right. Action. Buffy flew down the fire escape and sprinted down the street, thick boots clumping loudly. She didn’t care. She ran as if she could outpace the pain and unlike most plans of that kind, it worked. By the time she reached Spike’s door, her tears had dried and she felt much cooler.
Jaunty. I feel jaunty. As she picked the lock, she whistled the theme song to The Sting.
Time for phase three. Just a little page from the Angelus songbook.
And then, quite possibly, a nap.
* * * * * *
The fight in the alley had done Spike some good. Blood, dust, garbage, urine, the heady odor of drugstore perfume heightened by fear—the particular aroma of a cheap hooker with a vampire at her throat. Smelled like home to Spike.
More than his home currently did, at any rate.
A couple of times he could have sworn he smelt something like lemon, even flowers. Shuddering, he staked another vamp. He inhaled deeply, filling his nostrils with demon dust. “Ah. That’s the stuff. ‘A little hint of death. That’s the awakener.’”
When he’d gone through all the vamps the alley had to offer, Spike walked up to the woman trembling in the corner behind the dumpster. “I don’t want trade, but you could buy me a drink,” he offered. Anything to keep from going home.
“Not from here, are you? I don’t do the buying, hotstuff.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a mirror. “Jesus fuck. I look like hell warmed over.” She looked up. “You’re looking a little pale yourself. But thanks for thinkin’ my life’s worth the price of a cocktail. Tell you what. Just for that, I’ll spot you a forty.”
Spike spent the next hour with Fantazia chugging malt liquor in the same alley. “Hell we know it’s safe, right? And if we go to a bar I’ll feel like I’m working.” She laughed into a cough and lit a menthol. “Smoke?”
“No. Thanks. Fresh and minty. No can do. Might have one of my own, though.” He reached into a pocket and brought out a crumpled pack of Camel Straights. “No added chemicals or—odors.”
“So. You’re a real he-man, huh. ‘Cept for the hairgel. And dye. And is that eyeliner?”
“Look. I’ll do you one for free. You look clean.”
“Thanks. No. I’m saving myself.”
“Right. Homo. Figures.”
“No. Really. I have a—I’m . . . with someone.”
“She know about this?”
“Uh. No. I’m waiting ‘til I deserve her.”
“Right. Just tell her you’ve been out slamming forties in the alley with a working girl. She’ll come in her pants. So really. What are you doing out here? You’re hot. You know it. You don’t need to pay for it. So what is it? Dope? Meth? That crack?”
“Nah. I just get high on life. And, um, helping the helpless—no. The innocent. No. Helping the guilty. Plenty of help for the innocent. I like to help the ones who’ve been around once or twice.”
“Oh.” She took another look at the dust settling in the alley. “They were vamps. I kept my eyes shut. But I get it. Demon fighter.”
“Well, yeah. How’d you know about uh, demons? Most, uh, people in your line of—“
“Girls on the street? As if demons were the worst of it. Anyway. They’re regulars. Have you seen most demons, honey? They do have to pay for it.”
“Right. Dumb question. Cheers.”
When Fantazia went back to work, Spike paid a visit to the demon bar the surfer vamp had mentioned. He thought he might threaten or charm his way into some more information about the mysterious crack-whore-rogue-slayer-potential Drusilla who’d been asking about him the other night. Or at least avoid fresh scents.
Not much doing info-wise, but a slime demon did start emitting a horrific stench at the mention of a friendly brunette who’d been asking about him.
“EPEIOR GHUUUU PHLATTT GBAH!” The demon roared in Spike’s ear.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, mate. That’s right. You wait here. She’s all yours.” Thrilled about it, as well, no doubt. At least after the slime demon’s jealousy-spores, the prospect of pot-pourri didn’t sound as gruesome as it might. Good thing. Not like he had much choice.
The sun would be up soon.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/69834.html