Three ficlets for Bear
For some reason, I ran with this prompt, Bear. Damn that Michael Stipe!
Disclaimer: Em Ee? Eff U!
Concrit/Feedback: Would be scrum-diddly-umptious!
Notes/Spoilers/Warnings: AU, set post-“Harsh Light of Day”(S4) and Ats “In The Dark”(S1); muy oblique spoilers for BtVS “Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest.
Summary: For mirasol, who wanted “any combination of your choice between Spike/Jesse/Xander and the prompt is’ Everybody Hurts, by REM. Three ficlets, 1500 words. Whether the protag is Xander or Jesse is entirely up to the reader *bows*
It's Indian-summer in L.A. and he's so damn cold his teeth are chattering.
Around him, the night, the cement, the world sizzles and bakes with heat. But all he wants is a sweater, or some whiskey--anything to make the coldness stop.
Not that either of those things ever works.
A car idles behind him in the alley; he hugs a wall so it can drive by, but it keeps pace with him.
"Hullo, lovely,” a deep, English voice purrs and, for the first time in three years, his shivers have nothing to do with the cold. "What's a pretty, dead thing like you doin' out on a night like this?"
Frozen, now, in more ways than one, he turns to see a battered DeSoto with painted over windows. The passenger-side window is rolled down and from this angle, he can see a neat, white hand splayed on midnight denim like a dead starfish.
"What?" His voice is rusty and strange from weeks of disuse.
"Hallow's Eve ain’t a night for the likes of us to be braving dark alleys and such, pet."
"How'd you know that I’m a--" even after all this time, he still can't say it, still can't admit it.
"A vampire, love? Well, your distinct lack of heartbeat was m' first clue. . . ." an amused, sharp-featured face, topped by moon-white hair fills the window. "Need a ride, then?"
Ignoring the innuendo--and the blatant once-over--he starts walking. "No thanks."
The DeSoto's engine rumbles and the car is once again keeping pace.
"Notice you walking alone, and I says: `welladay, William! Breakfast a la carte!' Turns out you're a fellow leech . . . toolin' about in rags, looking like you haven't seen a decent meal in weeks. Maybe months."
Maybe never. . . .
"I see all this and think, ‘that looks like a lad at loose ends. No place, no purpose, no master’ . . . bleedin’ shame, that last bit.” This . . . William leers. "I can be your purpose . . . be your master, if you're in the market for one."
"Had enough of those, thanks." Confused flashes of Darla's cruel, beautiful face make him shudder.
He’s unprepared when William’s steady, gaze turns sharp and curious . . . unprepared to be seen right into.
Before the other vampire sees the tears in his eyes he looks away.
“Suppose you have,” William says softly. Then: “I was wrong, mate . . . you look like someone who needs a friend. Badly.”
He’s startled into meeting William’s gaze again and sees--
--Willow so afraid he can smell her fear makes him hungry makes him hard and oh god no don’t run I’m still the same still me don’t leave me alone please--
--his own loneliness reflected back to him in eyes like a crystalline mirror.
“No,” he says, shaking his head. William blinks.
“What--are you deaf as well as deficient? I said no!”
Then he’s outta there--up a fire-escape.
“Don’t run off, mate--”
Pelting across rooftops.
“--don’t have to be alone anymore!”
“They won’t take you back, you know?”
He looks up, startled by a voice he’d hoped--and feared--he’d never hear again; William sits across from him.
That smirking leer. “Not the most effervescent greeting, but a bloke takes what he can get, these days.”
“I wasn’t expecting company.” It’s apropos of nothing, and he realizes how thoroughly he lacks even basic conversational skills.
“So . . . gonna do another runner, or can I order a cuppa without having to chase you halfway across Los Angeles?”
“I haven’t finished my coffee.” Again, apropos of nothing, but the words are doing something they haven’t done in years: holding back the urge to run. “W-who won’t take me back?
William’s scarred right eyebrow quirks.
“Your friends, or family, or girlfriend--whoever you think not eating people will impress, love.”
“You’ve been spying on me.”
William shrugs unapologetically. “Intrigued me, didn’t you? Not used to pretty young vamps runnin' from me like I’ve got the plague.”
At the golden flicker in William’s eyes, he squirms . . . glances around the empty diner. “Still not looking for a master.”
“And I still think that’s a bleedin’ shame, pet.” That voice, whiskey-warm and husky with want curls around him, from cock to cerebral cortex.
A chuckle that’s just as warm and rich as the words that precede it and William is stroking his fingers fleetingly. “From the smell of you, you think that’s a bleedin’ shame, too. . . .”
“Don’t!” He jerks away from William’s touch and voice and super-sniffer. “I’m not yours, you don’t get to--” sniff me?
“Calm down pet,” William says in a strangely soothing voice. “Didn’t mean any harm by it--kinda instinctual, you know?”
“No, I don’t know, I’m not anything like you, I’m not--”
“A dead, soulless fiend?” William snorts. “Hate to disillusion you, love.”
He stands up, ready to run because the words aren’t working anymore and he’s not a people person anymore and dawn’s only two hours away.
William grabs his hand, gently but firmly.
“Look at me, love.”
“No,” he says, even as he turns to face those bright, laser-beam eyes.
William reaches up slowly, oh-so-slowly . . . the urge to run throbs like a pulse, so loud it’s nearly audible. Then those fingers are touching his face, brushing lank hair off his forehead.
His eyes slip shut and he whimpers.
“You’re so w-warm.”
“Tell me, pet . . . when was the last time you ate?”
“Few days ago. . . .”
He squinches his eyes shut and holds very still.
“I’ll take that as a no.” William sighs. “Poor, lost boy.”
Then the warm, gentle fingers are gone and he opens his eyes. William’s are less than three inches away and that’s not right at all.
“If I’m good . . . if I’m good, someday I get to go home, William,” he whispers; another non-sequitor that really isn’t.
One last caress and golden flicker, then William strides off without looking back. . . .
Left alone, he sits down.
Finishes his coffee.
Home . . . Family
“You never did tell me your name, pet.”
William’s been following him around all night.
“Doesn’t matter. You can’t be here.”
“The fact that I am here would suggest otherwise. . . .”
“No--I mean you have to go away. You eat people.”
“Twice nightly, even.”
“I don’t eat people.”
“So I’ve noticed.”
Empty factories loom above them, watch them with sightless eyes.
“Been keeping tabs on you for weeks, and you haven’t so much as taken a sip. I’m curious . . . have you ever eaten anyone.”
He shakes his head no, proud and ashamed at the same time.
“That’s some will-power you’ve got, mate. I couldn’t do it,” William admits with a sideways glance. “What does your sire think of your . . . diet?”
He stiffens. “My Sire doesn’t--” care whether I'm dust or not? Want me around enough to keep me?
“Darla always was a heartless cow,” William says dismissively, but that name--the one he reveres and misses and hates and needs--is like being doused in holy water.
“How did you know?”
“You smell of her . . . of copper and roses and . . . something dark and sweet that I imagine is all you, since there was nothin' sweet whatsoever about the horrid bitch.”
“You know her?”
“Could say that.” William sketches a sardonic, perfectly courtly bow. “Allow me to properly introduce m’self. William the Bloody, also known as Spike. Sired by Drusilla, who was sired by Angelus, who was sired by none other than Herself, of the line of Aurelius.”
“That makes us family, in case you weren’t keeping track,” William adds when no response is forthcoming.
“I have a family. A human family.”
“Had, love. Not yours, anymore.”
He moans, wanting nothing more than the condemned building he’s been squatting in, the stained, scroffy mattress he’s been sleeping on. “Why won’t you leave me alone? You want me to leave L.A.? I’m gone, just--go away, please.”
William shakes his head. “Can’t do that, lovely. Not lettin’ you leave, either.”
And here come the eyes and the hands, followed by the lips--all far warmer than they should be.
But he’s allowing William’s touch, William’s kiss, William’s body. He doesn’t know what to do with any part of himself, so he stands there, frozen, frightened, shaking.
“What? Never been kissed?” There’s laughter in William’s voice and his laser-beam eyes.
When he doesn’t answer, William’s arms tighten around him. “Didn’t Darla take you after she turned you, pet?”
“No! I--I woke up and I had to be bait and the Slayer came and Luke got dusted and they didn’t want me around and I ran away and--” the words are spilling out like tears, but tears are strangely absent.
“Hush . . . sweet boy,” William murmurs, kissing him again. It feels right, but it’s so wrong.
“Please don’t--” make me kill people. Don’t make me be bad. . . . “If I’m good, someday I get to go home,” he pleads.
William’s arms and smile are gentle, and possessive.
“You are home, pet.”
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