Disclaimer: I'm not Joss
Warnings: angst, slash
Summary: Post-AtF and ignoring the comics. Spike has a quiet, lonely existence until someone begins to leave him notes. Should he take a chance at meeting his stalker?
AN: This fic was inspired by sentine 's lovely, lovely art.
“I SEE YOU.”
Spike frowned and turned the card over. It was blank, just plain cream-colored paper. The envelope had nothing on it but his name, “SPIKE”, also in careful block letters in black. He sniffed at the papers, but could scent nothing but paper and ink. He peered out his door again, down the empty corridor, but of course nobody was there. The card had probably been slipped under his door hours ago, while he was still asleep.
He wondered whether it had been meant as a threat. He’d been keeping a low profile since he’d arrived a five years earlier, but it was always possible that he had an enemy nearby, either an old one or a new one. It was an odd way for an adversary to make himself known, though. Most of them usually preferred to just attack. Shrugging, he dropped the card and envelope on a small round table and shut the door.
He walked to the big windows and drew open the heavy maroon curtains. It was a clear night, and the lights of Staré Mesto sparkled merrily on the other side of the Vltava. Perhaps he’d go for a walk after he’d fed. He was feeling a trifle restless.
The stone floor was cool under his bare feet as he padded to the small room he used as a loo. He washed himself from the bucket of water he’d carried up the night before—lack of plumbing was one of the few drawbacks of this flat, and one that made it habitable only by his kind—and dried off and dressed, then arranged his hair. Satisfied that he was presentable, he grabbed a packet of fags and shrugged on his duster, then made his way downstairs.
He hadn’t initially wanted to actually live in the same building where he worked. But Jiri had offered him the flat for dirt cheap, and Spike had fallen in love with it as soon as he’d seen it. He liked the slightly decayed elegance of the place, the high ceilings, the balcony that looked down the hill. He liked the solitude as well. He had the entire top floor to himself, and the three storeys beneath were used mostly as storage for Jiri’s brother’s antiques business. Besides, the flat was bloody convenient, and it meant that during the summer he didn’t have to wait until dark to go to work.
When Spike arrived on the ground floor, Jiri waved cheerily at him from behind the bar. “Dobry vecer, Spike,” he called. “Already she waits.” He pointed towards a pretty blonde who was sitting at a table in the corner. She looked anxious and jumpy.
Spike nodded. “Right, mate. Just a drink first, yeah?”
Jiri pulled the tap and filled a glass with Staropramen. Spike emptied the glass in a few long swallows and set the glass back onto the polished wood. “Did you see someone going up toward my flat this afternoon?” he asked.
Jiri shook his head. “Ne. Someone has disturbed you?”
“Nah. Just…nothing.” He sauntered over to the bird, who looked both apprehensive about and entranced by his approach. “Ryba?” he said when he got there.
She nodded and said something he didn’t understand.
“Sorry, love. My Czech’s rusty. You speak English?”
She nodded again. “Yes, quite well. You’re Spike?”
“The very same. So, shall we?” He held out his hand. With a slight blush he found quite fetching, she took it. Her hand was bony and hot. None of the other customers paid them any mind as they walked across the floor, toward the small door near the bar. Behind the door was a short hallway, and he could hear her heart beating like the wings of a trapped bird as they entered the little room Jiri kept for him. That sound, and the scent of her in the enclosed space, made him uncomfortably hard. But he ignored his erection and settled her on one of the two wooden chairs. There was a narrow bed as well, but he was willing to wager she wasn’t the type for that.
Ryba smoothed her yellow skirt over her knees and looked down at the floor.
“How’d you like me, love?” Spike asked gently.
She pushed one of the sleeves of her jumper up to her forearm and pointed at the inside of her elbow. “Right here, please.”
He was a bit disappointed—he would have preferred her creamy neck—but he didn’t let it show. After all, the customer was always right. He smiled and knelt beside her, then vamped out. She stared at him wide-eyed. “You’re ready?” he asked.
She nodded and stuck her arm towards him. He took it gently, feeling her pulse tapping at her wrist beneath his fingertips, and pressed his lips to the delicate crook of her arm. She smelled slightly of vanilla. With one last glance at her flushed face, he bit.
They both instantly went tense—she from the pain and he from the ecstasy of sinking fangs into living flesh—and then they both relaxed as he began to carefully suck, drawing the rich, coppery goodness into his mouth. She tasted young and fresh, a bit sparkly against his palate like champagne. Very nice, he thought. No nasty drugs, no hints of illness or aging. Lovely.
He stopped before he was full, and Ryba moaned a bit in protest as he took his mouth away. He stood and she looked up at him with dazed, sleepy eyes. She was pliant as he helped her to her feet and then led her back into the bar. “Do you have a safe way to get home?” he asked. It wouldn’t do to have his customers dying as they left, and besides, he’d rather fancy her as a repeat client.
She blinked at him. “My sister is waiting outside in her car. She does not approve, you see.”
He walked her outside and watched as she got into the passenger side of a green Fiat. She gave him a last dazzling smile before she left, and then he went back inside.
Jiri was waiting for him with a grin. “You like this one, yes? Krásná.”
“Yeah, she was quite a treat. You reckon she’ll be a regular?”
Jiri shrugged. “Perhaps. Now I think she is just try you out. But maybe she will come back. You want your pay now?”
“Nah. Hold onto it a bit. There’s another tonight, right?”
“Yes. Mr. Kysely will be here at nine.”
Spike couldn’t help but frown. The bloke tasted sour and had a squashed-looking face. He paid well, though, and he came nearly every week. He sighed. “Then how about another pivo while I wait?”
Spike took his glass to a table near the window, and sat back to watch the activity inside the bar. His arrangement with Jiri included him acting as security on the rare occasion things got a bit out of hand. Tonight was quiet, though, and Spike relaxed. He likely would take that walk after Kysely was done.
One of the things Spike liked best about his flat was that it had a small stairway that led to roof. Part of the rooftop was covered by a wooden awning of sorts, so on a cloudy day like today he could stand there without being in danger of igniting. There were marble pillars up there and a view of baroque buildings with green copper or red tile on top. He liked to peer down at the daytime activity. He could even watch the boats pass through the locks. Today, though, he sat on the low plaster railing and looked at the card that he’d found under his door that afternoon. It had been a week since the first one and he’d nearly forgotten about it, but now here was another.
“I’M HERE,” this one announced.
Well, that was bloody informative, he thought. What was he meant to do about it? He thought for a while, and then, with the pen he’d brought with, he wrote a short message on the back of the card. “Who are you? What do you want?”
Spike remained on the roof, smoking through a packet of cigarettes, until the sun set. He only had one appointment that night, and that not for a few hours. He left the card hanging on the wall outside his door, in case his mystery caller returned, and then trotted downstairs.
Nobody spared him more than a passing glance as he strolled down the hill toward the river. He wound his way through Malá Strana until he was at the Charles Bridge. It was too early in the season for there to be many tourists, and Spike leaned over the railing, staring down at the passing water. The water was dark, opaque. If he leapt in, he could follow the flow all the way to the Elbe, and then to the North Sea. Not that he fancied a swim. But it was somehow comforting to think of the way he was connected to his birthplace. London hadn’t been home for over a century, but it still felt familiar.
He’d come to Prague on a whim, perhaps because it was so very different from Los Angeles. Perhaps he wanted to confirm for himself that there were no more ravening mobs, or prove that after the victory in LA he could face the scene of one of his greater defeats. Or maybe he came because he was so very unlikely to run into Dru there, or any reminders of his past. Angel had tried to stop him from going to Europe, probably because he thought Spike would seek out Buffy when he was there. He’d yelled and stomped, and Spike had looked coldly at his grandsire’s big body—his big, weaker, human body—and pushed past him without a word. He’d had no intention of finding the Slayer. After all, Spike had had recent confirmation that he was unworthy of her. Not a Champion like Angel, only a sidekick. He’d had his fill of the colonies, was all. It was time to return to the Old World.
A small crowd of young people passed him, giggling and chatting. They were all in pairs, holding hands tightly and breathing out the scents of alcohol and lust. One of them would have made a nice meal, back in his soulless days. But tonight he wasn’t even hungry.
“AN OLD FRIEND. TO MAKE UP FOR LOST CHANCES.”
This time the note had been left in the hall outside his door, and it had been attached to a small package wrapped in plain brown paper. It didn’t enlighten him very much, though. After all, he had no friends, old or otherwise. True, there had been a few people in LA who could stand his company, but they were all long dead, casualties of Angel’s war with the lawyers. And what was this rot about lost chances? Spike huffed with irritation and ripped open the parcel.
It was a book, and he had to laugh when he saw it, because it was older than he was. It was, in fact, the original, 1820 edition of Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. It must have cost his stalker a pretty penny. Spike leafed carefully through the brittle paper until he came to the end of the play, and the lines he could have recited from memory:
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.
Spike wondered if the pressie was supposed to mean something specific, or if the mysterious benefactor had simply thought Spike might appreciate old poetry. In any case, he quite fancied it, and he ran his palm over the smooth leather cover. He placed the book gently on the ornate shelf on which he’d accumulated a few other old favorites.
Someone was likely taking the piss out of him, at the very least. Still, Spike found himself smiling at the pressie. He hadn’t had one in so very long.
On the back of the plain, white paper he wrote, “Ta. What do you want from me?” and he taped the note to the outside of his door.
It had been spitting rain on and off all day, and by evening the cobblestone streets were glistening and wet, the ornate sidewalks spotted with puddles. Spike splashed through the mud and wet as he walked. His shoulders were hunched, but rain still made its way down the collar of his duster and shirts and he felt damp and cold and out of sorts.
Perhaps a meal would help. One of regulars would be waiting for him within the hour. But deep inside, he knew he was hungering for something other than blood. He’d gone shopping, buying more cigarettes and some curry crisps from a shop that sold British imports. On his way back he’d passed a toyshop and spied a doll in the window that reminded him so exactly of Miss Edith that his stomach clenched and he’d had to squeeze his eyes shut against tears. He still missed Dru. Couldn’t have her. Would have to dust her if he ever saw her again, or allow her to dust him. But he still missed her nonetheless.
His footsteps echoed loudly as he tromped up the stairs to his flat. But when he got to the top, he saw another package near his door, and he could have sworn his dead heart lurched. Swearing under his breath at his own idiocy, he scooped the heavy box up and entered his flat.
“AN OPEN MIND. JUST ONE SHOT AT IT, SPIKE.”
“One shot at what? My head?” Spike tried not to talk to himself—it made him feel as barmy as Dru—but sometimes the silence was just too much. And an open mind? Spike wasn’t exactly the close-minded type anyhow. A century and half of existence would do that to you.
The package contained a case of Jack Daniels bottles. Spike lifted one and gazed admiringly at the amber contents. The stuff was bloody expensive here and he’d had very little of it the past few years. Whoever was leaving him these things seemed to know him well.
Spike twisted the lid open and took a big swallow. Slightly smoky fire down his throat. Brilliant.
“Why?” he wrote on the paper, and he hung it on the door before he headed down to the bar.
Spike was not the only vampire whore in town. Over in Nové Mesto a German vamp named Hans-Jürgen ran a suckhouse that employed five or six vamps. It wasn’t a bad place, really, not nearly as sordid as most of the suckhouses Spike had seen over the years. Hans-Jürgen was an old demon and a practical one, and he’d long since realized that his unlife was more comfortable this way than snacking on the unwilling. He owned the entire building and drove a big Mercedes, and he made sure that his employees paid him a good percentage and behaved themselves.
When Spike had first arrived in Prague, he’d worked for Hans-Jürgen for a few weeks. He’d got a few crowns in his pocket and a full belly that way, but he hadn’t been happy. He didn’t much fancy having someone telling him what to do, and even before he’d earned his soul, he’d rarely enjoyed the company of other vampires—Dru being the exception, of course. So when he’d heard rumors that a bloke named Jiri took on freelancers once in a while, he’d made his way across town. Jiri was even more particular about bloodsuckers and their behavior towards customers than was Hans-Jürgen, but he didn’t treat Spike like a minion and his cut was smaller. The arrangement had worked out well for both of them, and Spike was content.
He ran into Hans-Jürgen’s lot now and then, though. They’d eye him resentfully, muttering about the stink of his soul, but he ignored them. He didn’t have the inclination to brawl nowadays.
Tonight he’d intended only to linger over an espresso outside the Hotel Europa, watching as pedestrians enjoyed the late-spring heatwave, but then Ladislav had parked himself at the other side of Spike’s table. Spike glanced around quickly, but it appeared that Ladislav was alone.
“What?” Spike demanded impatiently.
Ladislav just smiled. He was hardly more than a fledge, really. His hair was straight and sand-colored and tended to fall in his face, he had a thin face and a wide mouth, and his eyes were a pretty chocolate brown. “You looked lonely,” he said.
“I wasn’t. Just relaxing.”
Ladislav made a face like he didn’t believe Spike, and then watched the people stroll by. “Do you ever miss hunting them?” he asked. “I eat well at Hans-Jürgen’s, but it’s not much of a challenge.”
“This lot wouldn’t be a challenge anyhow. Tourists never are.”
“Oh.” Ladislav looked slightly disappointed. Then he brightened a bit. “You must have had so many adventures in the past! I hear you killed a Slayer.”
“Killed two, and shagged a third.” Spike couldn’t help but brag a bit. He didn’t get to be admired over his old reputation very often.
The younger vampire’s eyes went wide. “Really?” He leaned in close, and in a low voice added, “Is it true what they say about Slayer blood?”
Ladislav licked his lips and then leaned back in his chair. “Maybe…maybe we could go somewhere a little more private and you could tell me all about it.”
Spike considered the offer for a few moments. It had been some time since he’d had a leg over, and Ladislav was a nice enough treat. Then a thought struck him. “Have you been by my flat?” he demanded.
The other vampire’s pale eyebrows flew up. “No! I don’t even know where you live, Spike. Why?”
Spike squinted at him, trying to determine whether the bloke was telling the truth. “You want one shot at it?” he finally asked.
Now Ladislav just looked confused. “One shot at what? I don’t understand.”
Spike sighed, mostly with relief. This one didn’t have it in him to be secretive. Besides, Spike suddenly remembered, some of the notes had appeared during the day. His stalker was not a vampire.
Spike stood. “Nothing, whelp. Doesn’t matter. Just recalled I’ve an appointment to get to.”
“Did I say something wrong?” He looked slightly stricken. “I didn’t mean—I just thought maybe we could…. Never mind.” He’d have blushed if vampires could.
Spike patted his shoulder. “Look, mate. Nothing against you. Perhaps some other time, yeah? I can tell you about how I beat my grandsire, Angelus.”
Ladislav perked up a bit. “The Scourge of Europe?”
“You do know your history, and yeah, that’s him. Beat him more than once, you know.”
“Okay.” Back with the sunny smile. “I’ll see you later.”
The next afternoon when Spike woke up there was another note under the door. No package this time. In the same careful block letters, the note read, “BECAUSE OF LOST OPPORTUNITIES. BECAUSE I’M CURIOUS. BECAUSE WE’RE ALONE.”
At first, Spike was offended that the person had assumed he was alone, had pointed it out. But it was true, after all, and the stalker wouldn’t need to be particularly observant to discern it. More with the lost opportunities. So this was someone whom he’d known, and who might have wanted to get closer? Who the bloody hell would that be?
That morning when he went to bed, Spike wanked slowly, visions running before him of all the possibilities. Was it a male or female? Someone from LA? Sunnydale? Perhaps someone from earlier than that? He imagined faces before him, hair short and long, dark and light, and bodies hard or curvy. Voices with many accents. Tones harsh and angry, or soft and seductive. When he came, it was to some amalgam of them all. And to nothing, because he was still alone.
“All right,” he wrote. “But no more mystery. I want to meet in person.” Once again, he hung the note on his door.
He received the response the very next evening, as if the stalker were excited at his reply. The writing looked a bit hurried as well, he thought. Or perhaps he was imagining it. It said, “MEET ME TOMORROW AT SUNDOWN ON YOUR ROOF. YOU CHOOSE THE AGENDA.”
This note had arrived with four packages. The largest was a plain white box of thin cardboard. Inside it, neatly folded, was a dark suit. Spike fingered the cloth. Expensive. It came with a royal blue shirt and a dark red tie. There was even a pair of shiny dress shoes. Tucked into the breast pocket was a crisp white handkerchief and a pair of tickets to the National Theater. The Magic Flute.
The second package was just slightly smaller. It was of thicker, brownish cardboard, and it contained a pair of black leather trousers, a red silk tee that would clearly be very tight if Spike put it on, and a set of jewelry—a necklace and two bracelets—with flashing colored LED lights. There was also a flier for Club Valentino, a gay club he’d been to a few times. All right, then, his admirer was a bloke. Except sometimes the birds liked to go to those places as well. Dru, for example, had fancied being surrounded by men, and had rather enjoyed watching men together. Sometimes she’d get Spike and Angelus to—Well, that was a memory for another time.
The third parcel had a bottle of Becherovka, two small glasses, and another pair of tickets, this time for an evening boat ride on the Vltava.
And finally, there was a squarish, heavy box. Inside was a pair of combat boots that would be higher than his usual Docs, reaching past his calves. There was a black leather collar with a lock and two large metal rings, and a matching wrist cuff, also with a padlock. Both locks were open, and there was no key in the box. And there was a cock ring, a plain metal one.
Right then. The stalker was a being of varied interests. Surprisingly, the particular array of selections didn’t especially narrow down the field of potential suitors. Almost everyone Spike had known would have been willing to make use of these things. Well, Angel wouldn’t go dancing. Spike snorted in amusement at the thought of the pouf shaking his wide arse at a gay club.
Spike arranged the parcels on his rarely used dining table. He wouldn’t make a decision tonight.
He finished getting dressed and then ran downstairs to tell Jiri to cancel his appointments the next day.
Spike got up earlier than usual, his stomach all bunched in nervous knots. “Berk,” he said to himself. “Acting like a teenage girl. Likely just someone’s elaborate joke. Or something nasty is going to show up and try to dust me.”
Still, he wandered restlessly around the flat, picking things up and putting them down, too often glancing outside to judge the time. He smoked two and a half packets of cigarettes. He put Never Mind the Bollocks on his CD player and sang along at the top of his lungs. He watched forty-five minutes of a telenovela dubbed into Czech. He sharpened the knife he usually kept in his boot. He systematically picked apart an antique needlepoint chair cushion, which was going to make Jiri angry.
Finally, an hour or so before sunset, he went downstairs. There was a bathroom in the warren of rooms behind the bar, and it had a shower. He used it now and then when his bucket of water upstairs wasn’t enough. He peeked into the bar first—nobody he knew there aside from Jiri and a couple of the place’s regular customers—and then took a long, hot shower.
Back up in his flat again, he stared at the table, considering his options. At last, he sighed. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” he muttered. He stripped off the jeans and tee he’d worn back from the shower, and he reached for the square box.
He took nothing up to the roof except cigarettes and his lighter. The sun had just set as he sat on the low wall and lit a cigarette. There was a bit of a breeze, warm against his bare skin like a caress. He propped one heel up on a chunk of rubble and leaned back a bit. His cock twitched and half-filled, as much from the rare sensation of being naked out of doors as from anticipation of what might happen next. The ring was starting to feel a bit snug around the base of his cock, and that was pleasant. He’d always fancied toys like that, and some of his partners had enjoyed them as well. Some hadn’t. Harmony said they were “icky” and Buffy claimed to be shocked.
The last of the oranges and reds were bleeding from the sky when he heard footsteps coming up the narrow stairway. Heavy footsteps, neither too fast nor too slow. It was a bloke, then.
Spike exhaled slowly and spread his legs a bit, displaying himself. Ready to give himself to whoever it was.
The door to the stairway swung open, sending a shaft of light directly onto Spike and the marble behind him. He knew both the stone and the skin would glow like the moon.
The bloke was tall. Broad shoulders. Spike tilted his head just a bit, squinting to make out the face that was shrouded in shadow. The man took one step closer. He wore brown boots, blue jeans, a greenish jumper.
Spike saw his teeth first, slightly bared in a small, tentative smile. And then the rest of his face. It was open, honest, the eyes slightly wide with shock or awe.
Spike relaxed and discovered he was pleasantly surprised. He thought of a man, alone like he was, a man who perhaps didn’t fit in anywhere very well. A man who knew him well enough to buy him pressies he’d like and clothes that would fit just right.
Spike smiled back and blew out more smoke. “Riley Finn,” he said.
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