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Summary: Set between Seasons 1 and 2. Things went differently in Prague, and Spike shows up in Sunnydale a few months early.
Warnings: Brief description of a het sex act. Also, this story is odd.
Notes: The title is from Othello. Written for fall_for_s/x
For My Pains A World Of Sighs
The First One
Monica looks at him only for a moment before she turns away. Sees little more than a leaning line of leather and attitude. His eyes on her, and that's nothing new. She's the best looking girl in the place, and that's not new either. She knows she's beautiful -- not conceited, it's just a fact. Men want her -- it's been that way since she was twelve -- and she can have anyone she wants. Unfortunately, there isn't ever anyone she wants. Men are too easy. But the game is fun, diverting for a while. Seeing their desire, their hope, and finally, their disappointment.
She shifts sideways on the stool, legs crossed, foot pointed to show off the graceful curve of a calf. Tosses her shining hair, laughs a laugh like music. Sips her wine, licks her lips a little. Pretends interest in the chatter of the girls sitting with her. Waits.
And waits. And waits. And waits. But he doesn't come, and when she looks his way again, he's heading for the door. Glances briefly in her direction with a lewd, knowing smile that she feels like touch. Like a stroking hand right between her legs, and she has to catch her breath. And...he's laughing as he leaves. Leaves her, sitting there, open-mouthed. And that doesn't happen. Not to her.
It's irritating. Provoking. Insulting, actually. Who does he think he is, anyway, and suddenly she wants to know. Suddenly, she's the one doing the chasing. She excuses herself, steps outside. But she doesn't see him, until that flare of light, there, in the shadows, and he moves toward her, cigarette in hand.
"Looking for me, pet?" he asks, mildly.
That accent, and blue, blue eyes that see right through her, and she can feel her heart's quickening thump.
"I...I just came out to smoke." But he stares pointedly at her empty hands, and raises an eyebrow as if perplexed, only he's not.
"And then I realized, I left my purse inside." Lame excuse, and why is she nervous?
"Something distracting you, maybe," he says. "Something on your mind." His voice all around her, like a net, pulling her in.
He drags on the cigarette, flicks it away, comes closer. Flowing toward her, slow and and liquid. She steps back, but she's at the wall, and he lays a flat palm against the bricks by her head. Leans in, just slightly. Runs his eyes up and down her, like he hasn't decided yet if he's even interested, and it makes her go weak with want. Makes her want him, this stranger. Makes her hunger to know what that mouth tastes like, and for the feel of his hands. She's twitching down there, wet, from his insinuating gaze, the low purr of his voice.
She tips her head back, and her lips are parted. It's an invitation, but he doesn't move, not an inch. And so she does, touching her mouth to his, wrapping her arms around him, she can't help it, and finally he's kissing her, but in a way that makes her understand: this is what kissing's meant to be. Kissed like that tongue is fucking her, feels it inside her like fucking. Feels a thigh press between her legs, and she thinks, I don't even know his name; thinks, this isn't me, it isn't me; but still, she hitches up her skirt with one hand and rubs herself against him, greedily. And then his hand is there, tearing her soaking underwear away, fingers sliding in deep and a thumb stroking fast circles that make her want to beg. That make her beg. His mouth is at her neck, licking her, biting, and she's almost there, almost, when she feels the sharp, searing pain and her eyes flash open, wide and shocked. But it's too late, she's coming, she's coming, still holding on to him, couldn't pull away now if she wanted to; and it's glorious, it's rapture, it's like flying, right up until the moment she takes her very last breath.
The body goes straight into the dumpster. He's full, but that's all. Sated, but unsatisfied. He's come here looking for something, and this -- this isn't it.
Scott is scared shitless, but he's not chickening out. Takes a deep breath, locks the door to his dad's car, and he's going in, he's going in now. Told his mother he's hanging with Jared, and told Jared he's hooking up with some girl in Catonville, so his bases are covered. And he's petrified of running into someone he knows, but he tells himself that whoever he runs into has a secret, too, and so his is probably safe. But what's really got him wigged is that he's not simply thinking about his secret anymore. He's doing something about it, and maybe he'll finally know for certain: is he really gay? He's pretty sure the answer is yes, because it's gotten harder and harder to ignore the fact that it's guys he thinks about. Guys he thinks about when...well, most of the time, actually. When he's jerking off. When he's fooling around with girls.
But how do you know -- how do you really, really know -- unless you try? Like, what if it's just some kind of crazy phase? Some wanting-what-he-can't-have, forbidden fruit thing? And maybe if he has it, he won't like it. Won't want it, anymore. Or maybe he will, and at least he'll know. And maybe it'll be good. Maybe it'll be as good as in his dreams.
From the outside, it looks like any normal bar or club or whatever, though it's way on the outskirts of town, on a side road off Route 4. The bouncer barely glances at his fake ID, and he's in, and it looks pretty normal inside, too. Except it's filled with guys, and only guys, and they're dancing together, and talking close, and, yeah, kissing, some of them. Older than he is, of course, and more dressed up. Even the ones who aren't dressed up have a certain kind of look, which he doesn't, in his new jeans and polo shirt and clean white Nikes. He looks around, checking it out, and he realizes: these guys are much, much older. He'd expected -- he's not sure what -- maybe college guys or something. He feels self-conscious and stupid and shy, and he's staring, his mouth practically hanging open. He snaps it shut and takes a seat at the end of the bar.
Almost an hour later, he's still there, sipping his fourth club soda. Three guys have come over and tried to talk to him, but they're way old. Not guys, even, but men, the first two at least in their thirties, and the last probably his dad's age, which is just creepy. But even creepier is the proposition whispered in his ear, so obscene and lecherous and frank that he blanches and is reduced to wordless stammers.
The bartender is kind of grouchy with him, at first, like maybe he should be ordering pricier drinks. But when he comes over to clear away the litter of cardboard coasters and swizzle sticks and shriveled wedges of lime, he acts a little more friendly.
"Listen, kid," he says. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think this is the place for you. You wanna meet guys your own age, right?"
He blushes, nods.
"Here." The bartender scribbles something on a clean napkin and slides it his way. "It's out of town, but only like, thirty, forty minutes, and it's college kids, mostly."
"Thanks," he says, tucking it into his wallet. He places some bills on the bar, and stands, about to leave, when he feels a presence at his back. And when he turns his head to look, the presence is, without a doubt, the handsomest guy he's ever seen, outside of the movies or TV, anyway. Smiling at him.
"Shot of Jack, and one of whatever he's having," the guy says, still smiling, and the voice is like a movie star's, too. "My friends call me Spike," he says.
They end up talking until closing time. Spike says he doesn't come to places like this much, but he's new in town, and he's trying to meet people.
"Not the best spot for that," he says. "Folks here mostly looking for one thing, and that's fine, I reckon, but..." He trails off, shrugs. "I want something more than that, you know?"
"Me, too," he answers, adding in his head, "with you," because Spike is sexy and nice, and seems, miraculously, interested in him.
They go for a drive in Spike's crazy car -- old, with weird, blacked out windows, but it's kinda cool -- and wind up parked on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Just laughing and talking and being together. Spike asks him about his life, and he tells him: about school, and lacrosse, and taking the SATs. About his parents, and his sister, little Miss Perfect, and about his brother, Max, who died when he was ten, and how he misses him. Tells him about when he first thought he might be gay, and about hiding it, and about the discomfort of dating girls, and how he can never let his dad know, 'cause he'll lose his mind.
He's not sure how it happens, but they start kissing, and they keep kissing, and there are no more ifs about it, no more questions, no more maybes, because it feels exactly right. And it feels better than right when Spike's hand cups him lightly through his jeans.
"This all right, pet?" Spike whispers. That tongue, flicking at his ear, making him shiver, and he nods.
Spike eases him onto his back. Kisses him again, and then moves lower, mouthing his way down. Gets his pants below his hips, and then Spike's hand is on him, tight around his dick, pumping, and it feels so good he has to shout. Not worried about what he sounds like; only worried about coming too fast, especially when -- he can't believe it, but it's really happening -- Spike's tongue is on him, licking him, and then Spike's lips, sucking the head of his dick, and then Spike's whole, wet mouth. And his hips are flexing and thrusting, like he's fucking that mouth, and Spike is moaning around his dick, and it's so good that he's shaking. And he's right on the verge, he can feel it, when Spike abruptly pulls away. He's thinking, wait, and, what, and, why; but then Spike's hand is there, jerking him slickly, and his mouth is somewhere else, kissing the soft skin of his inner thigh, biting a little, and his body bucks wildly. He feels something, like pinpricks, at first, but sharper, harder, and he's shooting and crying out, and it's all a blurry, gray haze, and then gray goes to black.
Spike wades in a little, and lets the ocean take the body. Sits on the sand for a bit, watching the limp, human shape as it floats and bobs and disappears into the black sea. Staring out at the place where black waves spill from a black sky and start the long, dark roll into shore. Thinking of blackness. Of black eyes and black hair, but not for too long, because those thoughts lead where he doesn't want to follow: to the end of everything. To the moment when the mob dragged her from the safety of shadow and out into the sun. One pale, slim arm outstretched, reaching toward him. Wild-eyed and laughing, even as she turned to ash.
People talk about grief; write about it; or sing, or sculpt, or paint it. Liken it to other things -- a pain that grows inside you, an ache that doesn't leave you, an unending, echoing emptiness. These things are part of it, but only a part, because grief is like nothing else. Grief is its own world, and it's a killing place, and you have to live in it, alone, because there's nowhere else to go. Only one way out, and they call it the coward's way, but Spike knows that isn't true. He yearns to find that way, for the bravery it takes to get there. It's what he wants most. No, it's the only thing he wants -- for all of it to stop, finally and forever -- but he can't bring himself to do the job. Obliged to face his own sorry weakness, his dismal failure of courage. Another punishment meted out to him in this hard, new world without her.
After -- because, there is an after. After she's gone, he tries to stay drunk most of the time. Six months, seven, he isn't sure. Doesn't remember much, except putting himself square in harm's way, again and again and again. Waiting for something or someone to finish him off. To do the job for him. Begging for it, but it never happens; and when he sobers up, he's still right here, alone, and in the world.
He's in Trieste, finishing a bottle of Prosecco at a demon bar near the Porto Vecchio, when he first hears about the newest Slayer. The talk is that this one is special, even for a Chosen One. Living on a Hellmouth, for starters; taking on and taking out all manner of nasties. Strong and skilled and fast -- the word invincible is used, and not lightly. And something stirs in him, for the first time since...because, it's perfect, isn't it. It's kill or be killed -- a fitting end for William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers -- if she's really as good as they say. And if, instead, this one's the hat trick, well then, perhaps killing a third will be his salvation. He's fine with either ending.
The One After That
Erin's not staying another minute. She can't believe that Britney's done this to her, again. After she promised, swore up and down, that this time, she wouldn't leave her alone.
She hates these parties, with kids she hardly knows, and no one wanting to talk to her. The girls assess and dismiss her with swift, sneering glances. The boys don't look at her at all.
She's fat, is the problem, or chubby, anyway. Curvaceous, her mother says. Voluptuous. But her mother's fat, too; it's probably why her father left before she even got to know him. Everyone talks about how she'd be so attractive if she just, blah blah blah, and she guesses her face isn't, like, hideous, since she stopped having to wear braces. But no one cares about an okay face when it's attached to all that flesh, even though Britney says she only needs to lose ten pounds, and why doesn't she just starve it off? She totally tries, but after a day she's so hungry that she scarfs down a bag of Cheetos and two bowls of mint-chip ice cream. It looks really ugly floating in the toilet after she brings it up, gagging on two fingers crammed down her throat.
Britney says how much she wants her to come, but it's only because Britney doesn't like walking into parties by herself. Eventually, she always fastens herself to some boy, and flits away with him. Has a story to giggle over the next day, about what he said, and what she said, and who touched who first, and when, and where, and how. Sometimes, it becomes more than a hook-up, and Britney has a boyfriend for a while, but it doesn't last, and then they're friends again. Going to parties together, like this one.
Britney has sex with these boys. All her friends do: Shannon, and Lisa, and Bethany, and Kim. She's the only virgin, and worse, she hasn't done anything, sex-wise. Not since eighth grade, when she got felt up by Ryan Glasser, finding out later that he'd only done it on a dare. And it's practically all they talk about now, boys and sex, sex and boys, and she has nothing to say, nothing to contribute. She can feel it, how she's falling farther and farther behind. So she shows up when she's asked, even though it means being left alone, dumped, feeling like a freak and a loser. Slipping away to the bathroom and staying there until insistent knocking drives her back out. Walking with pretended purpose through the crowd, avoiding eye contact, fake-focused, as if she's looking for her friends. And tonight, she's so distracted by the pretense, that she winds up bumping smack into someone. A boy she recognizes, a senior, and she makes him spill his beer all over his letterman's jacket.
He grimaces at her, annoyed, and keeps moving. "Watch it, lard ass," he says as he passes.
She's out the door, and she's not going to cry, not in front of them, but the tears start squeezing out anyway. So she runs and runs, weeping and red-faced, not slowing down until she's blocks away. Wiping her eyes and breathing choky breaths as she leans for a minute on the iron fence that borders the cemetery.
"You all right?" asks a voice, spooking her into an awkward jump. A boy, an older boy, a boy she doesn't know, and where did he come from?
He moves toward her, but when she backs away, he stops, holding up his hands, like, I surrender.
"Didn't mean to give you a fright," he says, soothingly. "Just wanted to make sure...lots of nasty sorts lurking about this time of night. Not safe, for a pretty girl like you."
A pretty girl like...He's making fun of her. He has to be, because, look at him. He's super hot, hotter than any of the boys Britney's been with. Hotter than any of the boys at school. But he doesn't sound like he's making fun of her, and she wishes more than anything that he means it, and suddenly, mortifyingly, she blurts out, "Pretty?"
He smiles at her, a nice smile, not snotty or sarcastic. "'Course you're pretty. Don't you know?"
She can only stare stupidly, and he comes closer.
"Beautiful green eyes, like a cat. Like there's secrets in them. That mouth, that sexy pout. All those auburn curls. Pretty. More than pretty."
She's always thought her eyes were sort of slitty, and her mouth kind of big for her face, and she hates her hair, too red and flyaway and frizzy. But she thinks now that he really does mean it. That he sees something about her that other people don't. She can tell, from the way he's staring at her face, like she's special. Like the way she's seen boys look at other girls, but never at her. Never at her, until tonight.
"Sorry," he says, embarrassed. "I don't usually talk like that. Not much of a talker at all, truth be told. Not usually comfortable with people." He pauses, and he's still staring at her, and his expression is so earnest and open. "Comfortable with you, though. Easy, talking to you."
She feels warm all over, and happy. It was, like, the worst night of her life, and now, it's becoming the best. She'll be the one with a story to tell tomorrow, an awesome story. And she nods gladly when he asks if she wants to take a walk, or maybe a drive. His car's just down the block.
They're crossing the street when he stops, like, right where a car could hit him if one came, only there aren't any. "Bugger this," he says, and she doesn't know what that means. She looks at him, confused, and his face is somehow different. Harder. Not mean, exactly, but not nice. Bored, like he can't be bothered with her. Like she isn't worth his time. Like she's a piece of garbage blocking his path, and he needs to kick it aside.
She doesn't see it, but she feels the shattering burn of an impact; hears the snap of breaking bone; tastes the mineral tang of blood filling her mouth. It sends her flying backward, and she lands on her side, scraping across the gritty pavement, and she can tell that her arm is broken, too. There's a boot in her ribs, rolling her over, and when she blinks up at him, his face is like a monster's, but maybe that's just terror, or the blood in her eyes. He's crouching over her, and right before it ends, she thinks, there's lots of nasty sorts lurking about. She thinks, he said I was pretty. She thinks, mommy, mommy, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
He drags the body into a crypt, where he finds four fairly fresh corpses heaped in a corner. The leavings and leftovers of others, and he adds his to the pile. He's not surprised, frankly. The demons are running rampant, here in Sunnyhell. What's the world coming to, when a Slayer takes herself off on a summer holiday?
No one can say where she's gone. No one he's talked to, at least, but no one doubts that she'll be back, either. Definitely before school starts, according to that weaseling barkeep, but he's told that could mean another month, and he's not waiting that long. Nothing to do in this pitiful burg. So bored he's been reduced to playing with his food, which has never been his thing. Even preying on virgins, for god's sake. That's a big kink for some silly tossers, who shall remain nameless. Pure blood, and all that rubbish, but it doesn't taste much different to him, and they're hardly a challenge; not in this day and age.
Such high hopes he'd had, when he arrived. Positively cheerful for the first time in months. There's an energy in the air here, which he supposes is the Hellmouth, or a shadow of the Slayer, and he feels it all the time. A faint, staticky current, sputtering inside him and prickling at his skin. An itch waiting to be scratched, only he can't quite reach it. A teasing promise of destiny fulfilled. But now, he's simply killing time killing things, and he's growing weary again, and impatient. Wants what he came for, and he bloody well means to get it. Another day or two, and then he's off. Then he's going hunting for her.
The Last One
Spike's being followed, but not by anyone adept at the art. Graceless, clumsy, heavy of foot. Dropping back too far, then hurrying noisily to catch up. Heart pounding loud as warning drumbeat. There's fear in it, but there's focus, too, and both are fixed on Spike. His interest is moderately piqued. Maybe some amusement here, not merely food to push about on his plate.
He draws things out for a bit, acting the mouse in the little cat-and-mouse charade, letting the prey think itself a predator; until he reaches the isolation of a dim gray alley, where he spins sharply to face his stalker.
"Well, then," Spike says, a mere suggestion of menace coiling around the words. "Want something, do you?"
A slow shuffle forward, and it's a boy. A human boy, tall, but not fully grown. All knees and elbows and too-long limbs. And he's looking straight at Spike, walking toward him, serious, and nodding.
"Yeah," he answers quietly, but with absolute purpose. "I want something."
The boy's eyes are dark and unblinking, and he steps nearer.
"Gonna have to elaborate, mate. Not a sodding soothsayer."
Another few steps, and only an arm's length between them, and then only inches.
"Please," the boy whispers. And he closes his eyes, tilting his head back, and at an angle. Pulls at the collar of his shirt. Neck, throat, shoulder exposed, and he's trembling in the sultry summer air. He knows what Spike is.
It's a peculiar perversion, but one Spike's seen before. These humans who crave the bite. Addicts for it, some of them, and this boy must've hit rock bottom, to take a chance on an unknown. To come to him, to Spike, as if he's some sort of cheap, suck-house whore. It's galling, really. A bad miscalculation on the boy's part, and it'll be his last.
Spike leans in, ready to take what's on offer, and then some. But before he changes, before he strikes, he breathes in, slowly, and oh, it's dizzying, it's devastating, the scent of him, the essence of this boy. There's loss in him, of someone loved, but there's something more. More than an ache, or pain, or emptiness; more, even, than despair. It goes beyond that. Deeper, or bigger, or stronger, Spike doesn't know, but he wants to wrap himself in it, to bathe in it, to drown in it.
He raises his head, and the boy stands before him, posed like an ecstatic saint, like a martyr, arms at his sides, palms forward, face upturned to heaven. Such suffering there, and he wears its wounds, like stigmata. Spike sees everything: the fading, yellowy stain of a once-blackened eye; finger bruises, scattered like broken blossoms, up and down his arms; and a circle of them, like a collar, at his neck. This is the handiwork of some long-endured tormentor, honed on him, over time. But four razor-thin, vertical lines etched recently along his wrist -- these are self-inflicted. Battle scars of a failed campaign, directed inward.
The boy isn't here to feed a habit. Not here to find a few, fleeting moments of oblivion. Like Spike, he's come to seek deliverance. To seek the mercy of release, at someone else's hand.
An impulse, some might call what happens next, but impulse is the god that rules him. He hears its command, plain as if it's been spoken aloud: tell him no. And like a faithful follower, Spike heeds its warning.
"Don't think so, mate," Spike says, gently. Relieved, as if he's stumbled into shelter in a desperate race from dawn. A kind of grace, and it's unearned, but Spike's grateful for it.
The boy's eyes flutter open. Looks around like he can't understand what he's still doing there. Runs his fingers absently along the side of his throat, and turns his head again.
"No," Spike says.
The boy startles, and a hard shudder goes through him. He gazes at Spike, bewildered, angry, and his hands twitch into nervous fists.
"What?" he asks, thickly. Tears in his voice, and in those hurt black eyes. "You...you're a vampire! You need blood! Oh, god, just do it, please."
"I won't," Spike says.
"But why?" the boy cries, his words torn and ragged-edged.
Spike can't explain it. He barely understands himself. But it's as if he's finally met a fellow traveller. As if his world isn't empty any longer, because this boy walks in it, too. Because this boy lives in it. There's a curious comfort in the thought, and Spike wants keep the feeling with him. Wants to hold it and protect it, though he's about to walk away, and never see that dire, stricken face again.
"I expect you're meant for better things," Spike tells him. He reaches out to touch the bruised neck, tenderly, like it's a holy thing. "Stay alive," Spike says, and kisses him.
The boy stiffens in surprise, but he doesn't pull away, and after a moment, he's kissing back. A good kiss, soft and sweet and wet; and then harder, more urgent. The boy tastes new, and clean. Spike loses himself in the kiss; in the boy's muffled sighs; in the latched-together closeness of their bodies. Adrift in the boy's need, and his own, when all at once, the vague energy that's been flickering about him surges, as if a circuit's been completed. It throbs with the strength of a heartbeat and it pulses in his blood. It shines inside him, a pure, white light, illuminating someplace bleak and forgotten; and buried there, like a lost and precious relic, is hope.
Spike feels a certainty he's known only once before; long ago, in an alleyway like this one, when her voice rang out to him, true and clear as a church bell. On a night like this one, when he answered her call.
It isn't the Hellmouth, and it isn't the Slayer. It's been the boy, all along, and it's what's brought him to this place.
The boy breaks away, breathless and astounded. Studying Spike's face, like there's something to be learned in it.
"Is it a spell?" he asks.
Spike thinks, not a spell. An answer to a sinner's prayer.
He shakes his head, takes the boy's hand in his, and it's warm.
"What's your name, love?"
The boy tells him, and Spike repeats it. "Xander," he says. The name feels like it belongs in his mouth.
Spike begins walking, but Xander stays rooted in place, letting go of Spike's hand. Spike stops, and stills, and wills himself to wait. He could simply take the boy -- Xander -- just snatch him, and go. But that isn't what he wants. He wants this to be right. He wants this to be perfect.
"Where are you going?" Xander asks.
Spike holds out his arm. "Somewhere else," he says. And Xander comes to him, smiling, like a man who's been saved.