*Disclaimers, disclaimers. Yes, I know. Spike and Anya were
created by Joss Whedon and maybe some other people. But I only wish
to bring joy. I'm not making a profit.
He was surprised to see Demon-girl at the bar. At Dave's bar in particular. Yeah, sure it was Happy Hour. Two for one. But here, twofers could easily mean two vampires feeding off the one fool human who'd ventured in. In fact, the two in question had their eyes on Anya's delectable McNuggets and were even now happily lining up the drinks before her. The sheer number of empty shot glasses already in evidence was cause for concern, though Spike couldn't help but admire the elegant way she tilted her head back as the tequila slid down her lovely throat. Of course he wasn't the only one looking at her lovely throat. He just happened to be the only one who couldn't appreciate it properly.
Anya knew the score. She was an ex-demon after all. A thousand years of palling around with the denizens of the underworld should have meant she'd show more sense. Or some sense. Or any sense for Christ's sake. What the hell was she doing drinking tequila in a demon bar anyway? And wasn't she getting hitched in a few days?
The two vamps in Miami Vice Armani and neon t-shirts were chatting her up earnestly now, trying to get her to go upstairs or out to the alley. She ignored them, fiddling instead with a narrow rectangular box that she'd removed from her ridiculous little handbag. The box's contents were laid out neatly amidst the ravaged lime wedges and sprinklings of salt, like a puzzle she was going to put together. She was reading the instructions even now.
One of the vamps leaned in close, sliding his arm around her waist and murmuring something in her ear. She squirmed and her face got that only-Anya kind of expression. "Can't you see I'm trying to concentrate? Go away."
"Don't be such a fang-tease, Anyanka."
"Just because you bought me a couple of drinks doesn't mean I'm going to be your dinner. Leave me alone. I'm reading and I have a headache."
That's when the fellow got perturbed. Both he and his associate went into vamp faces and one of them made a grab for her, trying to pull her off the stool. Spike sighed, slid his drink down the bar and stepped between them.
"Well, well, if it isn't Spike. Misplace your testicles again?"
"Yeah. Where's Slutty the Vampire Layer tonight, boytoy?"
"Couldn't be a boytoy without the cajones. You two need to work on your act. Get the insults to jibe a bit better."
"You need to mind your own business."
"The lady is a friend, therefore my business. And I believe she asked to be left alone."
"What the lady needs is to loosen up. Don't get your panties in a bunch, fruitcake. We aren't out for a kill. Just figured she could use a little suck and fuck."
Demon-girl gave a snort of annoyance. Spike gave the fellow a knuckle sandwich.
"Ow! Fuhg! Oo boke by dose, oo fuhger!"
"'Bout to do more than that," Spike said, opening his coat like a flasher in the park. Their eyes took in the assortment of weapons including pointy wooden ones. The vamp with the working nose started squealing through it.
"Hey! You're not supposed to have those in here! Dave, this asshole has stakes!"
Spike kicked out, steal-toed boot right in the tattletale's crotch as he called over his shoulder, "Hey Dave. Have you seen my stakes?"
The bartender was drying glasses with a grimy looking towel. "Nope."
A lot of macho posturing followed, all puffed out chests and who had the bigger set of fangs etcetera, before Dave laconically pulled out a cross bow from behind the bar and aimed it at the Armani twins. They swaggered, half stumbled out the door talking about getting a gang together and taking Spike down. He perched himself on the barstool next to Demon-girl and commented, "They're going to need to update their wardrobes if they hope to attract decent minions nowadays."
"I have to pee on this one too!" Anya exclaimed, proving she was still Queen of the non sequitur.
She shook a plastic wand or tongue depressor at him as if they'd been carrying on a conversation about it for hours. "Look at this. Just look at how narrow this is."
Spike peered more closely at the words on the box. He could only assume his sudden panic and urge to flee was some vestigial fear deeply rooted in his male psyche, or else he was somehow channelling Harris, horrifying in and of itself without the implications of the box and items on the bar. "Crikey," he whispered.
"Why do all these home pregnancy tests require urine? You'd think they'd have devised something I could spit on or lick or something. They could offer flavours like Cherry or Mocha Crème..."
He downed a couple of her tequila shots. She probably ought not to have them what with the possible bun in the oven. He shuddered as the liquor hit his gut. "Mocha Crème," he echoed.
She cocked an eye at him. "I would have thought you'd show a preference for cherry."
"The flavour wouldn't matter much in my case. Male. And vampire."
"Yes. Of course. Well, I suppose I should get this over with." She picked up the last of the tequila shots and chucked it back before he could stop her. He didn't even know why he thought he should stop her. Wasn't his business, right? She probably remembered the days when no sane person would consider drinking water. Hell, fifty years ago the silly cows had a smoke right there in the hospital after squirting out a pup. Nevertheless, he had to draw the line at her trying to use the facilities at Dave's.
"Not here, love. Let me take you home."
"No! No, I can't do this at home."
Ah, so the whelp was still clueless.
"There's a coffee shop round the corner. Caters to actual human beings. Wouldn't want your delicate bits near the toilets in this dive. Trust me."
She nodded and shoved the items into her purse. "You're being nice." It came out like an accusation.
He shrugged. "I'm not incapable of it."
"I keep reminding Xander of that, but he still doesn't want to invite you to the wedding."
"S'awright. Not too keen on going," he said. He opened the door like a real gentleman, and gestured her out into the night.
Anya returned from the loo carrying the little plastic wand clenched in a bit of toilet paper. She sat it on the table between their cups. The waitress eyed it as she topped off his coffee and he wanted to explain, "Nothing to do with me, honest." But then realised her look of discomfort probably had more to do with the hygiene issue. Still, she didn't comment on it, only asked if they'd be wanting anything else.
"Yes," Anya said. "I'd like a piece of banana cream pie."
"Great." The waitress looked at Spike and he shook his head.
"I'll buy," Anya offered.
"In that case. Cherry pie for me." That got him a grin from Demon-girl. It was an adorable melt in the mouth kind of smile and one he hadn't seen since that night long ago when they'd chatted in the Bronze, discussing their glory days and the lost joys of killing. Silly plans were made to do in their exes, and she'd smiled that very smile. Mouth watering smile. Of course she was marrying her ex in a few days and he felt only the occasional nostalgic twinge for mad Dru.
"So," he said casting an eye on the item between them. "How long does this take?"
"This one says ten minutes."
"I've done three other tests. Different brands."
Apparently she was hoping for a different answer from this one.
"What's the consensus so far?"
She sighed. "Positive."
"Ah...so that would mean...?"
"Xander getting all red in the face. He'll panic. Hyperventilate most likely. The usual male response."
"I'm sure that's not always the response. Lot's of fellows are happy to find out they're going to be dads."
"Well, you looked like you were going to faint and you're not even capable of this sort of reproduction. Although..." She looked at him, big brown eyes under a flutter of lashes.
"Never mind. Probably doesn't affect you."
The part of his mind in charge of maintaining blissful ignorance and blithe denial leapt into action and did a little dance around possible things that probably wouldn't affect him. He decided there was no need to delve further because really, it wouldn't affect him. Whatever it was.
She checked her watch, made a little growly sound. "Ten minutes can feel like eternity when you're a human waiting for something. Oh thank god. Pie."
They dug into the sweets.
"You enjoy food," she said. "I don't think I've ever met another vampire who liked anything that wasn't blood."
"Have you known a lot of vampires?"
"Dracula. I dated him."
"You and a couple thousand other birds. He gets around, pet."
"Really?" She seemed miffed and it gave him a deliciously petty satisfaction. He hated Dracula almost as much as he hated - Christ, if the bint dated Angelus his head would pop. "Well," she sniffed, "there were others. And none of them ate human food."
"Well, I'm me and they aren't."
"Garlic doesn't bother you?"
"No garlic in cherry pie, love."
"But, I mean, I've seen you eat those buffalo wings at the Bronze, and pizza."
"Built up an immunity. I started doing it a long time ago. An experiment. Trying to make myself a bit less vulnerable to the traditional vulnerabilities. Haven't overcome the holy water problem. But I'm getting really good with indirect sunlight."
"I've noticed that. Why do you want to?"
He wasn't about to tell her why. It didn't even make sense to him half the time. Vague images of Buffy - her face in shadow, her hair haloed by sunlight as she stood in the door of his crypt. Standing between worlds. Romantic bullshit. But private bullshit. "Don't like having limitations," he said.
Again with the cocked head, that direct and pointed gaze looking inside him to where a soul might be. He took a sip of coffee and circumnavigated. "So. You think Harris will come around to the idea? Being a daddy at his young age?"
"I knew men who'd fathered five or six children by the time they were his age."
"That was a long time ago, demon-girl. You and me, we can remember when life was short and death wasn't such a terrifying stranger to the average human being. But hell, I've been around for a hundred and fifty years and I don't think I'd be ready for children even if such a thing were-" he broke off noticing the look again. That look. "What?"
"You really don't keep up on the latest gossip in the underworld do you?"
"Is there an Underworld newsletter now?"
"You and Buffy might want to consider using condoms just to be safe."
He sputtered incoherently for a moment. Admit or deny? Condoms? What. The. Fuck?
"I know the two of you have been fornicating. Just because all her friends pretend it's not going on doesn't mean I've been struck blind too. I love cold bananas. Don't you?"
Her tendency to speak at a tangent was starting to seem less and less adorable. "Hate bananas," he said. "Imagine I'd hate condoms even more."
"Everyone hates them," she said, masticating a slice of cold banana. "I'm just saying you might want to consider some sort of protection."
"Against what? I'm a card-carrying member of the undead. Can't catch anything or pass anything along. Can't plant a dead seed and expect it to sprout no matter how fertile the ground. And whatever's going on between me and the Slayer is our business, right?"
"Well, yes, until people take off the blinders, and then they're bound to make it their business whether you want them to or not. Rupert will probably come back here to kill you. Oh. You might have to leave town before the wedding. Because he'll be here for that."
"Yeah. Avoid Rupert and the business end of a stake. Grand idea. But-"
"I'll warn you if you like. Do you have a cell phone? You should get a cell phone. I wouldn't want you to get dusted. We have so much in common being ex-demons."
"I'm not an ex demon! I'm as much a demon as I ever was!"
She smiled at him indulgently. "Well you're very strong anyway. Buffy needs that. She's bossy and also very strong. She needs a man who won't let her push him around and at the same time can keep up with her. I think you've been very good for her."
"Yeah?" He could feel himself puffing up a bit and thought maybe he shouldn't get too cocky just yet. "She say anything to you along those lines?"
"No. I can tell though. She smiles when she sees you and her cheeks get flushed. Then she tries to cover it up. The sex must be much much better than she's accustomed to."
Turning into a full-blown cock o' the walk now. He strutted around his most recent, most delicious memories for a moment and then came to a sudden screeching halt. "Wait. Go back. Explain to me why you think I should start carrying a French letter in my wallet."
"Oh. I always loved that particular euphemism. French letter. It's so much more romantic than- you have a wallet?"
He let out an exasperated sigh, and thankfully she caught on.
"Right. You don't like Angel do you?"
"Hate the bastard. And..."
"So does Xander. Much more than he hates you."
"Uh huh, and..."
"Well, apparently Angel and oh, what was her name? The one that sired him?"
"That's the one. Well, they made a baby. A real live human baby - ew, that's practically incest isn't it? Makes me feel strangely uncomfortable. Anyway, Darla's dead. Really, really dead. The process of birthing required that she die. I'm not sure of the particulars, but I understand the infant is quite healthy and attractive. A boy. I hope he wasn't circumcised. Xander is, but if we have a son-"
Spike made a gack sound. Thinking he was choking on his pie Anya reached across the table to pound him on the back, her mouth continuing to run on. "Goodness! You weren't circumcised were you? They don't do that in England. Of course they never did it in your day unless you were a Jew. You're not Jewish are you?" Still pound, pound, pounding on his back. "No. This must be a Powers That Be prophecies reaction. How annoying to live with those over your head all the time. I almost feel sorry for Angel."
Bloody Hell! Did her jaw never stop flapping?
"The prophecies tend to run in the old families though, and since you're all part of the Master's line, well, I was thinking you might want to be more careful. Unless you think Buffy would like-"
"Aahhh. Stop now! Stop talking!"
She ceased both the chatter and the not so tender pounding between his shoulder blades. Her bottom fell back onto the booth's seat with a hard thump and she blinked at him, mouth open, thankfully no words coming out. Which was good, because in his head a little man was running around in circles screaming omigod omigod omigod.
Demon-girl chose that moment to look at the plastic wand with its one end swathed in toilet paper and burst into tears. "I'm really pregnant," she wailed. Suddenly it was like a big neon arrow had appeared next to his head, blinking and pointing. Every eye in the restaurant turned accusingly towards him.
Shit. Goddammit. He needed to process, logic the thing out, make it go away, and get on about his business. No. He needed to call LA and find out what the fuck was going on. No. He needed to pretend like she'd never told him this. No. He needed to tell Buffy. No, because what if she thought he knew about it and was keeping it from her - or what if she already knew and never told him and was trying to trap him into-
Okay. All right. Now he was just losing his mind. He needed a drink. He needed to scream. He needed to run away. Bugger all goddamned bloody fucking women and their goddamned tears!
He tore several napkins from the dispenser and shoved them at Anya's face.
"What am I going to do?" she sobbed into the fistful of napkins. "Xander's going to be so unhappy I deceived him."
No, demon-girl, he's going to be right pissed off. "Let me guess," Spike said. "You decided to stop taking the pill thinking it would be several months before you caught."
She blinked soggy lashes at him and blew her nose. "How did you know?"
"Classic soap opera manoeuvre. Come on," he said digging through her purse for money. He knew she was in terrible distress because she made no move to stop him. "We need to pay up and get out of here."
He threw a twenty down as concession to the waitress. Right next to the damning evidence on the table.
Anya complained about having to hitch her skirt up to her hips to ride behind him on the bike. She complained about the noise it made. She complained about his driving yet fought against the need to lean into the curves with him, all the while clutching his waist like a vice and sobbing into his leather. He decided he deserved a medal. Some sort of commendation. Certainly an invitation to the wedding. He'd tape to his wall and then not show up.
She didn't want to go home and he couldn't think where else to take her so...to his place it was. Now she was sitting in his telly-watching chair, blotchy faced and drained, staring at the flickering images on the screen and hiccupping occasionally as she twisted the wad of napkins from the coffee shop like a winding sheet.
Yes. A medal. Or possibly money. Or several bags of human blood.
She took the bottle of water he offered and whispered, "What am I going to do?"
He drank cold blood out of the fridge. Don't give a bloody damn. Got my own concerns here. But he said, "Well I'm no expert, but I think there's just the two options. Having it or not having it. Either way the whelp's gonna notice something different about you."
"You think I'm horrible."
"Yeah, I do. I'm pretty firmly in the Harris camp on this one."
She shot him a look, surprised he'd admitted it so readily, then looked away again and took a sip from her beverage. "I used to do abortions back when I was a witch. Seaweed plugs. Also, I seem to recall an herbal tea that was quite effective. If I could remember..."
"They do it different now. Suck the little bugger out with a vacuum. Hurts like the worst kind of hell." Actually he had no idea what the current procedure was, but his version sounded wonderfully unpleasant. The fat tears that welled up fresh in her eyes and her shudder of fear ruined any pleasure he got out of it though.
"I-I think the recipe called for juniper berries," she went on, desperate to pretend she hadn't heard him. "Juniper berries and lobelia. And- and celery seed? No. That's a diuretic."
"It's not fair to keep him in the dark, petal. Doesn't seem like a good way to start a marriage."
She looked over at him then, suddenly so keen-eyed and deadly sober that he was the one doing the shuddering. "Or any kind of relationship," she said.
He didn't pretend not to know what she was getting at. "What's to tell? Peaches is the darling of the family. I'm pretty sure Powers and prophecies have nothing to do with me." Brown eyes still on him. "Look, if the son of a bitch didn't see fit to tell the supposed love of his entire existence that he screwed a woman he despised and is now a proud papa, then why should I- goddamn it!" He threw the empty container against the wall. Being plastic it failed to make a satisfying noise. "He's such a coward. Why doesn't she see he's such a cowardly bastard? It'll just cause her pain to know. It'll give her an excuse..." He let the thought trail off hoping it would lose cohesion, dissipate, become impossible.
"Not to see you anymore?"
"Or it could give her a reason to stay. You know. Hope. Promise. Possibilities."
And a thought he didn't know was inside of him came choking out. "But I don't - I don't know if I..." then whispered, "want...that."
"Oh," she said softly, twisting and twisting the rope she'd made of her damp napkins. "I suspected as much."
"What? What did you suspect? Fundamental male problem? Typical fear of responsibility and commitment? Well bollocks to that! That's just eons of bitter female propaganda isn't it? Bloody easy that way, neatly justifies spending the last thousand years punishing men for being flawed and human and petty and- and human! This, whatever this is, it's not because I'm a man!"
"No. It's because you're not and never will be. Which is what you fear and what I suspected. But you could still be afraid of responsibility and commitment just the same."
"I'm not! That's not what this is about. And how is it we're suddenly talking about my problems when I- I'm not the one with the problem here!"
"I didn't say you were. You are afraid though. I understand, really. Once I made other people quake in terror. It took me a long time to grow accustomed to being afraid after never having anything to fear. I find it helps to talk about it."
"Not in the mood for Oprah sharing moment right now. Truth is no one's going to cut me any slack no matter what I do. Or what I fail to do. And you've got the same problem, right, only you've got perky little breasts and a womb and a soul so apparently all's forgiven. But not forgotten. Never forgotten, is it? 'Cos the first time you slip up - like now for instance, they're gonna throw it back in your face. They won't see it as a perfectly normal biological urge that got the best of your good sense. They'll see it as a sign of your fall from grace. All our mistakes, yours and mine, well they look bigger because of what we were or are or could be again. Even the small ones. Huge bloody fucking mistakes aren't they? We can't win."
"Clearly we're not talking about me anymore. Is there some error in judgement you've left lying around that's waiting to pounce on you when you least expect it?"
"Who knows? Probably. And this is about you as much as me, and you know it. We don't fit. We're never gonna fit in anywhere. We're standing outside both worlds now. Outside looking in."
"I'm not." The utter certainty in her voice caused his to falter. "I have the shop and I'm very good at running it. I provide a service that only I can provide due to my unique perspective. So in my case, it's more like I'm living in both worlds and the shop is a bridge. Oh! Oh! That's what you need!" She was bouncing in the chair now. "You need a bridge of some kind. Buffy could be your bridge or... not. Perhaps a person isn't really the ideal bridge. Perhaps you need a hobby."
"A hobby. Yes. I could knit myself a bridge. Or take up playing bridge. Or no, bugger that. I'll move to LA and start my own rescue service. I'll call it the 'I'm No Bloody Angel So Sod Off Hopeless Wankers Superhero Rescue Service.'"
"That's sarcasm. You don't have to be sarcastic."
Again with the waterworks. Cripes. Grr. Argh. This had to be hormonal.
"Don't you think it's time for you to be heading home?" he suggested. "You wouldn't want to get the whelp all frantic. He's probably called the cavalry out by now." As in Buffy. Who would likely come here. "Come on. Up you go. We need to get you home to your comfy bed and your comfy Xander-"
"I'm frightened about how he's going to react and I really need to talk about my fears."
"We can talk on the bike," he said, dragging her by the elbow towards the door.
"But I can't hear myself talking on your bike. How will that help- oh damn. Damn it! I forgot. I left my car parked on Second Street near the bar."
He sat on the bike revving it occasionally just for the hell of it while she fumbled for her keys and generally wasted time. Clearly not looking forward to going home.
Play nice Spike. She's a mess as it is.
"Anya, quit dawdling. It's close to three in the morning. Xander'll be beside himself with worry, pet."
She nodded with her back to him, shoulders hunched, still sniffling as she keyed the lock. After she got in the car she sat there with the door open. He was forced to scoot the bike up along side, peering in to see what the trouble was now.
"Spike. You will take my advice about the protection, right?"
Protection? Oh. That. "I think I'd rather not have sex with her ever again actually."
She scrunched up her nose and looked at him like he was full of shit. Which, he was. Mostly. "You'd rather never have sex than use condoms?"
"If I show up with a handful of rubbers I'd have to explain why maybe possibly we need them and that will lead to all sorts of unpleasantness so, yeah, think I'll be picking out my sackcloth robe and lovely matching flail."
"In other words a big yellow streak of cowardice also runs in the Master's line."
"Ouch. Low blow, that." He leaned down so they were nearly eye to eye. "I'll bet if the Powers That Be can make a living child out of two of the wickedest undead critters ever walked the earth, then latex wouldn't be much of a barrier."
She frowned. "Huh. Good point. Normally that's something I would have thought of right away."
"Well, you have other things on your mind, precious."
"I like you. I want you to come to my wedding. I don't care what Xander says."
Hell's bells. Rewarded for a good deed. "Er...all right."
"Please drive carefully on your motorcycle."
He gave her his best bad boy grin and rolled the bike back so she could close the door.
After waiting to make sure she was safely off he decided maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to take precautions. Condoms were like weapons, right? Weapons he'd never used before, true, but he was a quick study.
He aimed his bike for the 24 hour drugstore on Lovejoy. After all, if he had to discuss the matter with the Slayer there was no point in going about it half-arsed.
"I'll only nick the ones named for powerful warriors and gods though,"
he thought. He shifted and the bike lurched forward like a stallion.
West. Technically the direction of the sunset.
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