Summary: "Ever since Tara could remember, she'd had the scar in the palm of her left hand, a tiny pale pinwheel of raised tissue that sat between her head and heart lines, right next to fate." A BtVS novel, set mid-season 6, featuring palm reading, timelines, mysterious Initiative files, vampires, Funny Fun balls, and cool special effects.
Disclaimer: All hail Joss from whom all these characters flow
There were three things Xander Harris had vowed never to do no matter how long he lived. Number one was never to invite a vampire into his home, and, much to his everlasting regret, he'd already done that. Number three he was doing right now.
He wouldn't be doing this at all if he didn't really need a copy of this week's People Magazine. Beep. Oh, and these Lifesavers. Beep. Pack of gum. Beep. This nifty pen flashlight. Beep. And ... condoms! Yeah. Condoms were manly as all hell. Beep. A couple of lighters. Beep Beep.
The girl at the counter waved the final items Ç box of tampons and a bottle of Midol Ç across the scanner. "That'll be twenty-two dollars and 86 cents, sir." She was way too perky for someone working the nightshift at a Sunnydale convenience store.
He opened his wallet. Damn. He only had a twenty. "Uh. OK. Lose the flashlight and um, the lighters."
She gave him a grin he was trying very hard not to see as smirky, and entered a code with her nimble fingers, scanned the items again in reverse beepology. "You're either the best boyfriend in the world or"
"Think the word you're looking for, luv, is whipped."
Xander shuddered. Oh god, no. "And my night is now complete."
Counter girl had a different sort of grin for bleachboy. "Hey Spike." Oh. Of course. She knows him by name.
"Angie." And he knows hers too. Well, hers is on her name tag, but still "My usual, if you please. After you've finished bagging the boy's unmentionables, that is. Woe is you, Harris. Sorry excuse for a man, you are. Wouldn't catch me making a late night run for some bird's monthly paraphernalia." He thrust a hand in his jeans pocket and spent an inordinate amount of time digging around in there. "I've still got my ... whatcha call it?" He pulled out a five and slapped it on the counter. "Oh yeah, balls."
"I think it's sweet." Angie offered. "You are a god among boyfriends." She handed Xander his purchases in bright blue plastic bag.
"Thank you," he said with great sincerity. But she was already turning towards the wall of cigarettes behind her.
As soon as he was outside, under the hiss and glow of the Sunnydale Save-Rite sign, he had his keys in hand, targeting the car door. He needed to be in the car and gone before Spike emerged. If the son of a bitch came out the door right now, Xander would have to slow down to a "you're not even on my radar" stroll. Under no circumstances could he appear to be scurrying or rushing to get away from Evil Dead. It was a guy thing. Genetically hardwired, like spitting. He was helpless against it. Spike would do exactly the same thing if their roles were reversed.
Car door open. Behind the wheel. Door closed. Locked. Key in ignition. OK.
Oh hell, he forgot the ice cream! Shit. No. No. No way in hell was he gonna let that fucker see him exchanging condoms for Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey. Just drive slowly around the block. Give Spike a chance to be good and gone.
Or ... he could just keep driving. He could head to the coast, take Highway 1, drive to San Diego, then on to Mexico. He could live on the beach. Learn to surf. He always wanted to learn to surf. Yeah. Drink tequila. Eat shrimp and coconuts. Or whatever kind of nuts they have in Mexico. No one to answer to. Be his own man. Be free. No responsibilities. No demons taking potshots at him. No 9 to 5 plus overtime. No An
"Oh god ... " God, god, god, god. What am I going to do? I don't think I can do this. I can't do this. I'm only twenty-one. I haven't learned to surf or sky-dive or gone rock climbing or been to Star Trek convention. Lord of the Rings just came out! There are two more movies to go! She doesn't even like Lord of the Rings. How can I marry a woman who doesn't like Lord of the Rings? How can I marry a woman who worked for the Dark Lord himself? Next year I could be buying disposable diapers instead of tampons. Oh god
He must have closed his eyes for a second, or banged his forehead on the steering wheel one too many times, because when he looked up, there was a guy Ç a thing Ç a guy thing in the path of his car. He stomped on the brakes, swerved, but too late.
Spike paused, as he always did when the alarm went off. He ventured a long-suffering look over his shoulder at Angie, who grinned and made a shooing gesture. She likely thought it was something about him that set the EAS devices shrieking every time he left Save-Rite. His natural electromagnetism perhaps. He always purchased something. One thing at least. He was practically an upstanding citizen these days.
He tapped a cigarette out, lit up. Never upstanding enough, though. Not for her. Little Miss "I'm Too Uptight for My Pants" Summers liked him right where he was. Kept well hidden at the back of the cupboard so she could play with her matches in secret, thinking she couldn't get burned if nobody knew.
Well, he had news for her. He was fire. And she was gonna get burned bad if she didn't treat him some better. He wasn't a toy she could trot out when the mood was on her. He had feelings. Opinions. And, and Ç insights!
Yeah. All right. Probably shouldn't have brought up Dawn's appeal so soon after the fucking. Timing was off on that. But she'd seemed so pliant and amenable, sitting on his lap with his prick still in her, spent, melted into him, her head in the crook of his neck. His timing was never on with the Slayer these days, unless it was about where to put his fingers, tongue, cock, and when. Well, this was it. He was through with the bitch. Made that pretty clear, he thought.
Bitch. Where'd she get off telling him he'd better unattach himself from her sister and right quick? Telling him he didn't have a place in the girl's life. Didn't he take care of the kid all summer when Buffy was worm food and the rest of 'em were sacrificing babies or what all to bring her back? If he was the sorta fella who unattached himself just like that, would he still be hanging about this bog? Hell no! He'd've left with Dru when she offered. He'd be in South America somewhere letting his mad princess feed him blood and honey from her own sweet tits
Or maybe not. Aw, fuck it. He reached in his pocket and pulled out the ball he'd nicked. Funny Fun Ball, the package said. Made in Taiwan. The shape and color had appealed to him. Neon green rubber, spiked all over like a mace, bright and bold, just daring him to find out what made it funny fun. Neither Harris nor the shop girl had noticed this extra ball of funny fun in his trousers. People were always careful not to notice that part of a gent's anatomy, even when they couldn't help but notice it didn't look altogether normal.
He tore off the crinkle-wrap, and gave the ball an experimental bounce. To his delight, flashing lights went off inside, popping like fireworks, green, blue, red. He caught it and bounced it again. Damn. It was funny and fun. It was bloody brilliant this ball!
"God bless the Chinese," he said to no one in particular. Somewhere close by came the screech and thud of a car impacting a body. The promise of blood and guts. Clearly this was a lucky ball.
Spike strolled off to investigate with naught but the glow of his cigarette and his Funny Fun ball to light the way.
"Oh shit! Oh my god. Oh god!" Xander flung open the door and practically fell out, scrambled to his feet, and stumbled over to thethe thing he'd hit. It was not a guy. Not a girl either. Definitely a thing. A thing with antennae. And scales. Sprawled face down in the middle of Crawford Street. Two limbs for walking (in front of a car) and two for waving (frantically for the car to stop). He couldn't see any blood. Or anything that passed for blood. It wasn't moving. He was torn between the urge to call an ambulance and the urge to flee the scene of the crime. Neither of which was an appropriate action under the circumstances.
He'd hit a demon with his car. And not even on purpose. Fuck! He turned to examine the damage to his car, but could only stare open mouthed at what he saw. The entire front end looked like it was halfway into Toontown. The bumper hung in a rubbery droop to the ground. Letters and numbers dripped like snot from the license plate. He expected it to cough melodramatically and say, "I'm done for. Go on without me. Save yourself."
One headlight was actually broken. Glass crunched beneath his shoes as he cautiously approached. The other headlight was bulging out like a molten bubble. He bent closer, resisting the urge to touch Ç which was exactly the kind of horror movie moment that any demon with half a brain would have used to leap up from seeming death and split him open with a razor-sharp claw.
"Well, well," said a demon with half a brain, "looks like Dan'l Boone kilt hisself a bar."
Xander straightened with a sigh, then wearily dug his fists into his eye sockets. "Spike. Shut the fuck up, OK?"
"Crikey, Harris. Look what it did to your car!"
"Yes. I see it. I'm looking at it right now." He took his fists away from his eyes so that his statement would be true, but instead he found himself ensnared by the vampire's unnerving appraisal, that particular look Spike had, eyes slightly squinty and his head cocked just so. Sizing him up. Always sizing him up and finding him lacking.
Aware of the nervous dart of his gaze and hating himself for it, Xander looked instead at the empty lot between Crawford and Alta Vista. Were there more of the creatures in that weed infested real estate investment opportunity? He hadn't been on Crawford Street in a while, and remembered in a sudden rush of inexplicable shame how he'd walked this very road with Buffy on their way to the mansion at the top of the hill. A tiny girl with a big sword, and him encouraging her to kick her true love's ass. He'd been right not to tell her about Willow's efforts to restore Angel's soul, he knew that then and he knew it now. She would have waited too long and ended up dead at Angel's hand. Maybe they all would have ended that way. Certainly his own life would be a very different thing now.
Anxiety washed over him again. A wave of helplessness, as if his destiny had been poured into rapidly hardening plaster, and all he could do was watch it set up.
Spike prodded the body with the toe of a boot. An oddly graceful maneuver with self-same boot rolled the hefty creature over onto its back. "Hey," Spike said, "this is one of those things me and Buffy killed the other night in her backyard. Said she'd done for one of 'em over on Alta Vista too." He looked at the empty lot as well, and the street on the far side of it.
Xander resisted the urge to ask why Spike had been in Buffy's backyard. "You think there might be more of them hiding in there?"
"Could be. Don't know about these sort, what their habits are."
"Should we go check it out?"
Spike seemed surprised at the offer. Then he grinned. "I'll have a look. No need for you to come along. 'Spect your honey's getting a bit frantic over the whereabouts of her tampons."
Xander sucked in air through his teeth. "Yeah. Right." He turned back to the car and did a double take. Except for the broken headlight, the front end was back to normal. A little dented, but otherwise solid.
"Well, that's just fucking weird," Spike said.
"No shit." The driver's side door was still open, and he touched it gingerly. It seemed to be holding on well enough. "I'll call Buffy when I get home. Let her know what's going on."
"Don't. No need. She's Ç she needs her beauty rest. Looking like a right hag of late. I'll take care of it."
"Really? All by your lonesome?"
Spike shrugged. "Nothing else to do."
"Yeah," Spike said, and reached in his coat pocket. If the cigarettes were coming out, Xander figured the conversation was over. As he got in behind the wheel something hit the side of his car. He jumped, bumped his knee on the steering column. Another impact against the fender, softer this time. Spike was bouncing a ball off his car. A quirky little rubber ball that flashed bright colors as it angled off in unexpected directions, deftly caught by Spike every single time It was hard to be pissed off when you were suddenly smiling for no good reason. "Cool," he said.
Spike threw it again. "Innit?"
"Where'd you get it?"
"I'm gonna go back and get one."
"Don't get green," Spike said.
"Like I'd want the same color you have." A glance in the rearview mirror as he drove away, showed a lump in the road, and a sphere of flashing lights spinning in the air. He totally had to get one of those.
As soon as Harris's car rounded the corner, Spike bounced the ball one last time and then into his pocket. Time to set aside childish things. He crouched next to the demon for a quick once over. It wasn't dead. He was pretty sure of that. Else it wouldn't still be lying on the tarmac. The bubble gut had collapsed, and looked more like a flaccid kangaroo's pouch. Up close and personal it in no way resembled one of those dreadful cheery teletubbies Buffy'd blithely compared it to. It looked wizened, sorrowful. He didn't know what it was, and he didn't like not knowing. He gave it a poke. "Oi. You. Wakey, wakey. Come on." A harder thrust with his hand. "Got questions if you've got speech."
Quick as blink, no Ç quicker, as if no time had passed between the then and the now, the demon had its claw clenched about his poking hand. "Tie me," it croaked.
Spike thought this an unusual request. Especially from a demon who was currently crushing the bones in his wrist. "Well, happy to oblige, mate, but I'm fresh out of rope you see"
"That your name?" he asked. He couldn't seem to move any part of his body but his mouth and tried to keep the panic out of his voice. "Name o' your kind?"
"Timing," it burbled softly. The membranes over its eyes squished together, and parted again.
"Timing? As in the timing's all wrong or ... timing's a bit off. Know all about that mate. Just broke off with my girl see and I'm gonna need that wrist to operate my hand, much wanking to be done, oh god"
He gasped, hard clenching spasms of his lungs, like he needed to breathe and couldn't. Drowning. The eyes were black mirrors and he could see himself inside them. "Oh god ... "
"Moon. Tree. Lines."
He could see himself. Not as a reflection, but his true, fundamental self Ç Spike, William, whatever name, didn't matter Ç everything he'd been, was now, or would be, was looking out of its eyes. He was looking out at himself and felt the nauseous pull of vertigo. Felt himself falling. Falling into himself.
"Let go," he whispered. Then, "Please."
"Go. Set. Time."
There was a sound then. Like a heavy exhalation. The loudest, longest sigh ever. An odor, sweet and sharp at once, assailed his senses before the demon dissipated utterly, leaving only a bracelet of silvery gel around his wrist. It burned like dry ice. After a moment even that evidence of the demon was gone. A delicate tracery of something not quite memory and not quite scent lingered.
Spike fell back on his arse in the middle of the street, and sat there for a while of time staring at the empty lot across from him. He wouldn't be investigating that any time soon.
Look. Another journal! A nice one too, with really nice paper, and inspirational quotes at the top of each page. This page has, "To thine own self be true." Which I know is from Hamlet, so there. (I probably shouldn't mention that every time I read this quote I hear the Skipper from Gilligan's Island singing it. I mean, we studied the play in school, but that song just sticks in your head forever, you know?)
I think this journal was a present from Dawn one X-mas. Mom probably suggested it, "get her a new diary," she probably said. So Dawn got one without a lock. Clever girl. I found it this morning cleaning out my closet. I'm going to take a bunch of shoes and clothes to this shop Anya told me about. Twice Upon a Time, or something like that. But I'm just going to sell stuff. No trades. No shopping. This vow I solemnly make to the Goddess of Jasmine Foaming Body Wash.
Yes, I'm tempting fate. I'm writing this in the bathtub.
Last night was not my best slaying night. Or any kind of night. I'm PMS-ing bad. And hey, it's something you Watchers should know about. It's scientific. Like sometimes I really kick ass when I'm PMS-ing, because hey, the inner bitch is an outie those times. But then other times I mostly drop things and fall down a lot. Also burst into tears for no reason. Slayers probably should get written excuses from their Watcher's to skip slaying those nights. We should probably be at home watching Pretty Woman.
Only one vampire last night. One that I actually dusted that is. Visited DD after. Had a meltdown. Then we did some stuff. Did not end well. Whenever we have nice normal
sexstuff, he starts thinking we're like b/f and g/f. Wants to talk. But I'm not gonna talk. Especially about my family! Like he's part of that. He's not any part of that. He can't ever be any part of that. He's not supposed to be I have to keep some things very, very separate. In different boxes. I have my own labeling system so I know what's in them but no body else needs to know what's in my personal private boxes, and the things from one box should never go in with the stuff from another box because
It's more like there's this line down the middle of me, and he's on one side and everyone else is on the other side. He has to stay on his side of the line, see? And they have to stay on theirs. Because if one side starts crossing the line then lines will be crossed that can never get uncrossed and there will be blurring and fuzziness and yelling
God. I sound completely psychotic when I try to metaphor things. Even to myself.
What I can't figure out is Ç the things he does to me, the things he let's me do Ç I think I shouldn't like them. I mean, okay, I had sex with Riley a lot. And I really liked it. It was great sex. I mean, if a girl has orgasms pretty much every time, that's good sex right? But this, with DD, is very different. Beyond anything so simple as good sex or bad sex. It's like I forget everything for hours and hours. I'm just this body that feels pleasure or pain (sometimes at the same time, sometimes I can't tell the difference, one turns into the other and) and I'm afraid it's because of what he is. And what I am. That I'm really screwed up. And that somehow, in my mind, he doesn't really matter, he isn't a person, so I can do anything with him. To him. That's horrible, isn't it? It makes me feel dirty and bad. Because even though he's not human, strictly, per se, he still is kind of like a person. Or at least he has a personality. And he thinks he loves me and maybe he does. What do I know about love? I suck at love.
I think maybe it's possible I hurt his feelings. He got really mad anyway. Threw me out. Literally. Picked me up and threw me out the door then slammed it in my face! Which pissed me off. A lot. I got up and went to push the door open again, so I could say fuck off and then slam it in his face. But he was pushing on it from the other side. And there we were, pushing and pushing, and the door wasn't moving, and I'm calling him names and he's calling me names. We must have looked like complete idiots. I'm already the laughing stock of the vampire community. I just hope none of them saw me.
I think it's really over. I think he broke up with me this time. I think I should be relieved. But I'm not. I just feel
Buffy growled, ripped the pages from the journal and proceeded to tear them into tiny bubble covered slivers. She flung them in vicinity of the waste basket, then flung the journal in the vicinity of the sink. She slid down into the water until she was completely submerged, and stayed that way for a good almost-minute before Dawn's persistent knocking and screechy voice penetrated the deep like really annoying whale song.
It was time to get out of the tub anyway. The sun was shining, and half her only day off was gone. She had clothes to sell, and a date to keep with sweet elderly Watcher who would tell her tales of the olden days when Slayers were Slayers and Vampires were Vampires and never the twain would meet in any sexy groping fashion. As it should be. As nature intended.
Chapter Six coming soon.
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