The CD store and the open-air espresso bar were the last places still open on Sunnydale's main street that late on a Friday night.
"Let's have a quick once-through, Slayer, then we'll go out the back and scope the alley."
Buffy shrugged and followed Spike into the store. It was almost midnight, and there was no one inside but the clerk and a couple of solitary browsers at the far reaches of the place. Some kind of techno-trance soundscape thingie was playing. She paused beside him at the new releases display and cast an apathetic glance at the discs.
"Being dead has caused me to lose track of what's hot and happening."
"Funny. It's not had the same effect on me." He picked up a couple of things, looked them over, put them back.
She drifted after him as he grazed. Nothing interested her. She wanted to get patrolling over with and go home. Dawn was farmed out on Xander and Anya this time. Spike had not come around all week, which wasn't so surprising, since she'd nearly dusted him early Saturday morning. But today, returning home from the supermarket, she'd found her bed neatly repaired. Which seemed as good an excuse as she could muster to go find him. She'd planned to say something about how it would serve her right if he didn't trust her any more. But when she got to his crypt, he was leaning on the door smoking a cigarette, as if they'd arranged to meet there, and he just fell into step with her without saying a word.
It was easy then just not to bring it up.
Now Spike thumbed through The Ramones discs. Of course there was nothing new there.
"Let's go," she said. "The fluorescents in here make you look even deader than usual."
They were almost to the back door when something caught Spike's eye and he stopped. "Can that be--no." He picked up a disc from the display, studied the picture on the front, and flipped it over. "Bloody hell, it is."
"What?" Buffy peered around his arm. Garnetta Deeds. Me An' the Devil Blues. A cheap-looking reissue of some moldy album from the sixties, she guessed. The black-and-white picture showed an ugly person who looked older than dirt; Buffy wasn't sure if it was a man or a woman. The twizzled grey corn rows and dark tunic didn't give much clue.
"I need this," Spike said, feeling through his pockets. "Damn it, I'm nearly skint. Lend us a tenner, Slayer."
"You're asking me for money? Miss Full Copper Repipe?"
"C'mon, let's get out of here."
When she turned to push open the store's back door, Spike palmed the disc up his coat sleeve, and followed her out. Hell, if they weren't going to install a detector at both exits, they had to expect the merchandise to walk out on its own. Stood to reason.
"I don't think I like this kind of music."
"You've never even heard it before."
"I thought you only liked head banger stuff."
"Sssh. Just listen."
Spike set the CD player going and pulled her down beside him on her bed. The scratchy piano refrain that started the disc, sounding brave and lost in its murk of tape hiss, yanked him right out of Sunnydale and back to that smoky room in Harlem where he'd first heard her, that freezing night in 1928. And--cripes, that was her voice. Through the surface noise, the bad remastering, the very same. From her lips into a primitive electric mic, and into his ears seventy-three years later. Spike closed his eyes. Garnetta, moaning her blues. She was eternal.
Buffy leaned against him, and he could feel her pretending to listen, and then, after a track and a half, really listening. He'd guessed the songs would get to her--right on the edge where she existed now. Everything Garnetta sang, her voice so stark against those simple piano riffs, sounded like she was coasting on an ether of desire, despair and terrible solitude. Nothing mattered, and everything did.
I ain't gon' to state no color, but his front teeth is crowned with gold
He got a mortgage on my body, now, and a lien on my soul
Shifting, Buffy's arm brushed his crotch.
"Wow. This stuff gets to you." She pressed her hand against the bulge.
"I knew her."
"Knew her." She stiffened. "Meaning what, Spike? You killed her?"
"Oh no. Not that." Mmm Hmmm. Never heard the devil was so damn pretty. "For one evening, I loved her as thoroughly as I ever could."
Buffy shifted around and looked at him. Then at the picture on the front of the CD. "Her?"
"This snap's from 1968, it says here. Forty years after our night together. She lived hard, I guess. Was barely your age when I met her." He thought of the needle tracks he'd kissed on Garnetta's arm. Surprising really, that she'd hung on long enough to be rediscovered, reissued while she could still enjoy the accolades. He slipped the insert out of the case and opened it. Hardly any info, just a track listing with recording dates, and one other photograph, taken in '29, when she'd made these sides. There was the girl who'd so ripped him up that he'd wanted to turn and keep her for all time! Her eyes and teeth in the underexposed picture made her look like a caricature of herself, but she grinned out her power, and wore a fine satin evening dress all covered in bugle beads. Buffy took in the picture, captioned with Garnetta's dates. 1909-1969.
At the same time, their words exactly crossing, Spike said, "She died so young," and Buffy said, "She lived so long."
In the silence that caught them, one hissing track ended, and another started up. "Buffy--"
She jerked from beneath his hand, but stayed stretched where she was, her back to him, and reached out to thumb up the volume on the CD player.
He's a kindhearted man, he studies evil all the time
You well's to kill me, as to have it on your mind
"Buffy, I'll look out for you. Keep the nasties off. Just because all the other slayers went so young, doesn't mean-- After all, the other slayers didn't . . . have . . . me. Fuck." Where was that stake now he'd just bloody well earned it?
But she didn't react. Head resting on her doubled-up arm, she listened to Garnetta. Spike couldn't see her face when she said, "I remember when I was so unwilling to die. But I don't really remember how it felt, to so passionately want not to. I really can't remember." She paused, listened some more. "She knows. Under all that woe. But she's not quite telling, either, is she?"
Buffy rolled over to face him. "I think you wanted to take her too. And you didn't."
"She was a little like you, pet." He reached across the space between them and smoothed the hair back from her forehead. She stared into his eyes and didn't resist. "Powerful, she was, and mysterious, and full of sadness and secrets. She had nothing when I came across her. Nothing but that artist in her, the way I've got the demon in me. I wanted to protect her, the only way I knew how in those days . . . but somehow I sussed out that if I turned her, she'd never sing again. I couldn't bear the thought, even though I guessed she'd not last long, and knew I'd never hear her again either way."
Staring into his face, Buffy opened Spike's jeans. Even half-erect, his cock still filled her small hands to overflowing. He gasped as she played with the foreskin, skinning it back, letting it go. "You and Angel both have this," she mused, her hands wandering up and down the length of him until it stayed back on its own. "Parker and Riley didn't." She traced the shape of the head with her thumb, catching a drop of precum and bringing it up to her mouth. She tasted it with a pensive look, as if she didn't know what to expect.
"Well, they're good clean American lads, aren't they? Not bloody Euro-trash like me and soul-boy." Spike gasped as she slipped one hand into his fly to grasp the balls. Not timid anymore.
"Did you ever have sex with Angel?"
"No, love." Christ, what got her onto that tangent? Near the top of the list of Truths She Couldn't Handle. Technically, it wasn't a lie: Sure, he'd been raped repeatedly by Angelus at the beginning; for twenty years he'd sucked his cock and done his bidding and hated him even as he begged for another fucking, yes please Sire. But he'd never what he'd call had sex with Angel.
Buffy tugged hard on his cock, watching his face as she jacked it, and with the other hand pushed up his teeshirt and twisted one of his nipples until he winced. "Is this what you used to fantasize I'd do to you? What that `bot was programmed to do?"
"No, love." He drew her hands off his flesh, brought them together up to his mouth and kissed them.
She shuddered. "What then?"
"I pretended," he said, kissing first her thumb, then the pointer, the middle, the index, the pinkie, "that you wanted me, man and monster both, that you saw the truth of me, and minded it, but wanted me still, and no one else could ever please you the way I could, and my looking out for you made you happy." He kissed the fingers of her other hand, one at a time. "Aren't I besotted? You ought to laugh at me, Slayer."
Love can make you drink and gamble, baby, make you stay out all night long
Love can make you do things that you know is wrong
She pulled her hands back. He thought she was going to get up, walk away altogether. For a moment she just lay there and looked at him with an impassiveness that made him shudder.
"You think loving me is ever going to make either of us happy? It only makes things worse. It makes people frightened and selfish and mean. And then they get stupid. You're stupid, Spike." She sprang up and sat on his chest, pinning his arms with her knees. "You should stay away from me. I'm not safe to be around. I'm the Slayer. That's all I am. I'm here to kill vampires. Which is all you are. Don't kid yourself." She reached back and grabbed his cock, pulling until he gasped in pain. "You should be afraid of me, Spike. I'm not your friend. I'm a killer." She leaned closer to him, her hand all the time working behind her back, wringing his cock in her impossibly tight grip, digging at it with her nails, "I can torment you more because you're so stupid as to love me. I'm merciless, Spike. I'll humiliate you, and hurt you, and make you wish you'd never seen me." Her other hand gripped his face, so he feared his jaw might snap under the bright pressure of her fingers. She tipped it back, so he could look at nothing but her looming above him. "You dumb monster. What makes you think anything's different now? I let you fuck me a couple of times, you think I care for you? I never did, I used you before, for my purposes, because you let me, you idiot. And now I'm back, raised from the dead, you think you're gonna get your big reward?" Her hand on him, working working, terrible, inexorable, hateful. He loved it, loved her, even hurting him, even punishing him. "Are you scared, Spike? Are you excited? That's what you really like, isn't it? You want to be my whipping boy! Are you going to come, in fear and trembling? Come for the Slayer!"
Oh, how she could turn his words against him! But even now, he couldn't resist her. "You can use me this way, Buffy, if you like. If you need to. I said I'll never leave you, and I never will."
She let go of his face, let go of his prick, left it to vibrate in empty air. Seared him with her glowing painstruck eyes.
"Oh God--don't look at me that way, you filthy beast! You don't even have a soul! How can you look at me like that! Stop it!" She dealt him a two-handed blow so hot it felt like his cheekbone drove right through into his brain. He yowled, and threw her off.
In the seconds it took Buffy to pick herself up, Spike rose and yanked his clothes together. His cock, the blind faithful thing, was hard as ever, and throbbed from the mauling she'd given it. When he glanced up, Buffy stood on the other side of the bed. Stunned? Angry? He wasn't sure. Maybe this was the time to leave, while he still could under his own power. He wasn't sure of that either. She was looking at the CD player, hearing it.
Love is like a faucet, it turns off and on
Love is like a faucet, honey, it turns off and on
Just when you think it's on, baby, it has turned off and gone
She laughed, and punched the stop button. "Hear that, Spike? That's the truth. That's the only truth. Just when you think it's on--pow!" She slammed her fist against the other hand. "Everything's like that . . . for a limited time only . . . then it expires. Never to return. Everything. Except . . . me." She didn't cry. Her grief at this moment seemed beyond the capacity of mere tears. "Death is my art. Death is my gift. But how am I supposed to live with that?"
Spike stretched across the bed again, pulled her down beside him.
"The other night you almost made my death."
She shivered and looked away.
"But you didn't." He turned her face back towards him. "I could kill you too. Any time. But I don't. And that's how we live with it. We accept the potential that we're both vicious beasts, we decide not to be, and we go on."
She closed her eyes. A kind of dry sob came over her. "We're freaks. Two dead freaks."
"Not true." He took her hand and brought it to his groin. Whispered in her ear, "You are so full of life, pet, you make a dead man hard. Make him live." He turned her face towards him, kissed her. Felt her start, her pulse fluttering in her lips.
"You're the Slayer. And you came back different. But you're still Buffy. Shining, brave, adorable Buffy. Just . . . be Buffy." He put his hands in her hair, stroked it back, kissed her closed eyelids and flaming cheeks. "You asked what I'd wanted from the robot. It was that. I just wanted Buffy, as she was."
Spike laid her back, opened one by one the buttons of her blouse, smiling at her as she blushed, not permitting her to look away. "They all love you, Buffy. The Niblet, the Scoobies, Rupert, bloody Angel in Los Angeles, your poor mum, everybody you've ever rescued, helped." Opened her jeans, pulled them down, panties, boots, socks, off. All the time his eyes on hers, watching as her pupils dilated, as she breathed harder and harder through parted lips. "Everybody who's ever seen you must've loved you at least a bit, unless they were insane." Leaned over her to kiss her mouth, her neck, her breasts, that gave off waves of heat as he touched them. "Don't be afraid. Of yourself. Or me. Or any of them. You are so loved." Slipped two fingers into her slick pussy, spreading the pearly wet over the lips, the clit, into the curls. Felt her panting as he caressed her. "Do you know you have the most exquisite cunny I've ever tasted? Do you know you are the sweetest woman who ever breathed? That everything about you excites me?" He murmured, hooking one of her legs over each arm, as she began to stir and gasp. Entered her, poised over her body so that she would feel filled up, not crushed. "And you love them all, all that lot who love you," taking short, grinding thrusts, his pubic bone tight against her clit, so that she sighed and wriggled beneath him, "that's what you're about, pretty Buffy, sweet good darling Buffy," dipping his head to kiss her, but not too much, because it was important to hold her gaze, and say what she had to hear. "I will never leave you, I'm yours, no matter what you do. I love you," pressing her legs up just a little more, getting as close as possible, "And when I'm inside you, feel you breathing all around me, your sweet body quivering because you like me fucking you . . . I can imagine you love me too. You never have to tell me any other way." He kept up the grinding rhythm that was making her cry out now, short high mews that made his balls crawl, made him shudder. Oh, she was ecstasy. He watched her as his words and his gaze opened her like a flower. He coaxed, "Come for me, sweetness, show yourself to me, show me how pretty you are when you come, lovely Buffy, precious Buffy . . . ." The cloud lifted from her face as he poured forth all his endearments. He even thought he saw it, the particular unabashed smile he'd craved and most missed, just a flash of it before her head snapped back and all was subsumed to the crowning moment.
"Take this away, I never want to see it again." Buffy stuck the Garnetta Deeds CD into the pocket of Spike's leather duster where it was draped over a chair. "I ought to make you bring it back to the store and pay for it."
Spike sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. "You'll never reform me entirely, Slayer. Don't try." For a moment he stared approvingly at her as she moved, naked and wild-haired, to the closet; then he frowned when she shrugged into a robe. "It's barely sunrise. Come back to bed."
"I'm ravenous. Aren't you ravenous? Don't move, it's my turn to bring."
"Don't want to let you out of my sight long enough for the kettle to boil," he grumbled, throwing the covers off. He followed her out into the dim hall. "We're alone still, yeah? No witches, no sisters snuck in while we were otherwise occupied?"
They paused and listened, but the house was still. Buffy started down the stairs. He followed. Halfway down she made an abrupt stop. He bumped her, and she put one hand behind her back and grabbed his cock. "Ooooh, Spike. I might fall. Need something big and sturdy to steady myself on."
Incredulous, Spike caught her shoulders in his hands, leaned over her and tried to see her face. "Slayer. Are you teasing me?"
"Teasing you? A big strong vampire who could devour me at any moment? I wouldn't dare."
She gave him a tug, and they finished the trip to the kitchen.
He filled the kettle.
Buffy opened the refrigerator and peered in. "Who told you to say all that to me, last night?"
"What do you mean, who told me? I don't consult oracles, pet. Or shrinks on the telly, either."
She was leaning against the open fridge door, her back to him, letting all the cold air out.
"Some of it . . . assumed a lot."
"Poetic license. Still got mine, never expires. You want to dispute any of the points with me, you go ahead. I won't tell you black's black if you say it's white."
She looked into the fridge for another long moment, then reached for the milk and shut the door.
"There was one thing . . . very presumptuous." When she turned, her eyes caught his, then dropped, and her face was hidden in her overflowing hair.
"Which was that, pet?"
"Well . . . no, I guess it's not worth arguing about. We can take it all as given." She shook her hair back then, shrugged, and opened the freezer.
He caught the red packet she lobbed at him, and put it in the microwave. Buffy switched on the radio to hear the news.
Return to Herself's Fic.