Author: Unsentimental Fool
Word Count: 3700
Summary: After Grave; where is there left for Spike to go? A chance encounter could change things again.
Notes/Warnings: Spoilers for BtvS S6, Angel S3
The whiskey that Spike had ordered came in a cut crystal whiskey tumbler, badly chipped. Spike pondered the irony of that for a moment, turning the glass in long fingers, then took a sip and replaced it on the lurid plastic table. It was early evening and his cash was exhausted; this had cost him the last of his funds after paying for the motel room for the day. He was even out of cigarettes. Tonight he would have to be on the move again.
This was a depressing place, even by his recent standards. The purple and yellow was he supposed someone's idea of cheerful but it clashed with the skin colour of several drinkers and the bartender. The usual musak was at least missing but worse was the annoying strumming of a guitar from a table on the other side of the bar. He wasn't sure why he was reluctant to leave the motel and bar, situated in the middle of the desert just off the road to LA, except that he was even less keen to get anywhere else.
After the disaster in Africa he'd gone to London, but it had changed. There was CCTV in the Underground and office blocks in the Docklands now. The parts that hadn't changed brought back memories of Drusilla. He'd left within a couple of weeks, flown back to the States, and had gradually meandered west. He knew he couldn't go back, not until something changed, but he couldn't stay away either, not completely, so he drifted. Now he supposed it was time to get back into a city; blood was harder to obtain out here, as was money. Vampire reflexes and speed were suited to snatching bags and hustling pool; undignified ways to survive but somewhere in the last few weeks he'd ceased to care. Dignity was one of those emotions he seemed to have lost along the way, along with all the others. There was an empty hole where pride had lived, the pride that had kept him going through his long vampiric existence. He thought maybe that existence wouldn't go on much longer, and he didn't much care about that either. But he was hungry, and he needed a cigarette, and more whiskey. It would be good if the nightmares would stop too.
He was fingering the chipped edge of the glass again. He took another sip, and another. The bartender had gone over to speak to the strummer; to Spike's disappointment the player didn't stop but instead moved to the front of the bar and started singing. Apparently the Kuovar demon running the bar liked blues.
Spike didn't; he glared at the singer in annoyance. He'd thought at first that this was a boy but he now saw that the man was in his twenties. He had a young face but old eyes, as though he'd lived through more than anyone his age should have done. Spike puzzled for a moment over where he'd seen that look before, then recognised it, from the rent boys who used to live on the back streets of London near the vampire haunts. The boys would age quickly on the streets once but there was a time when they were still young but no longer innocent, too old for the prime of the trade but not sure yet what if anything lay beyond.
Although Spike didn't like the music, he had to admit that the man had a surprisingly confident voice, in contrast to the vulnerability apparent in those eyes. Maybe the man would be able to move on, put the past behind him. As Spike articulated the thought about "moving on" a spark of real anger lit inside him, but then it was gone again.
Time to go; the singing was definitely not to Spike's taste. He drank the rest of the whiskey and started to get up. As he did so the singer looked straight at him for the first time. The start was well covered and the guitar barely missed a note but Spike could feel the pulse of something; recognition maybe, or something else. He looked again at the player, but the man still didn't look familiar. Those haunted eyes were still watching him.
Spike paused momentarily, wanting to be sure what was going on. He didn't like uncertainties. Then it came to him; the other place where he'd seen that look in someone's eyes. The Slayer's soldier boy, at the vampire whorehouse. This man had recognised Spike's nature, was a vampire addict.
Spike expected to feel revulsion. In the past he had been sickened by the vampires who turned their back on their predatory instincts to take blood from thrill seeking humans, and by their pathetic clients. But now he felt nothing. Except hunger. He was imagining what fresh blood, human blood, would taste like. So it was degrading, scavenging; had the chip, the demon really left him any choice? Did it matter any more what he thought of himself? It mattered to no-one else; Dru had left him, the Slayer despised him, the demon had promised him freedom and let him down.
He sat down again, looked directly at the singer and jerked his head slightly towards the seat next to him. The guitarist finished his song and carefully put his instrument away before walking over to stand in front of the vampire. Spike could smell his sweat from here; excitement and fear. The man seemed unusually alert, something about him gave Spike pause for a moment but he was committed now.
"Do you have a room booked? We can go there." He spoke softly, not wanting this man too intimidated at present.
"I don't think so." To his surprise the young man was smiling slightly. "You have rather too much of a reputation for me to want to be alone with you. Here will do fine."
Fine for what? Spike was beginning to wonder if he'd misjudged the situation. This didn't seem like an offer of either sex or blood.
"What do you want?" he asked directly. The singer paused.
"I'd like to know what a member of Darla's clan is doing in a bar like this. And why he looks like he hasn't fed for weeks."
Spike kept his face expressionless but this was not what he'd expected to hear. He didn't remember ever being described in those terms before, and he wasn't sure he liked it.
"What makes it your business?"
"None. I'm just curious. I've heard a lot about you, recognised you. All your family have been rather," he paused, then "significant, for me. My name's Lindsey Mcdonald. I'm pleased to meet you." He held out his hand. Spike gazed at it in disbelief.
"So now we have formal introductions, do we? I don't give a rat's arse what your name is." He felt he was being mocked, didn't like it. "If you know who I am you ought to have listened to some of the stories more carefully." He moved to go past the young man.
Lindsey held out a tentative hand to stop him. "Wait. What did you want from me, in my room? Maybe we could come to some sort of arrangement. Your story for... whatever." Suddenly it felt like Spike had been doing the importuning. He was glad vampires didn't flush; this encounter with the young man was turning out rather awkwardly. He braved it out.
"Blood. Pint of the fresh stuff and you can have the whole of the Gone with the effing Wind saga." Half to himself, he added " She never did give a damn, after all." Then, remembering his empty pockets and the lack of cigarettes, "and cash" he amended hastily.
Lindsey looked directly at him, thinking, then nodded. "Come to my room then. In ten minutes. Number 15, ground floor." He walked past Spike to the bar. "Another drink for my friend here." And he had left, guitarcase in hand.
Spike gazed at his refilled glass. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he had another drink and the possibility of a much needed feed. If he had to go along with this high handed young man for the moment, so be it. Things could always change. Or so he'd believed, once, not so long and an eternity ago.
It was five, not ten minutes when Spike knocked at the door of the motel room. Lindsey opened it awkwardly, due, Spike noted, to the one handed crossbow in his right hand. The vampire raised an eyebrow and waited.
Lindsey spoke firmly, although Spike could smell fear. "This is the closest thing I have to a home right now, and you are not yet invited in. Wait there." Spike wasn't sure whether this would be sufficient to keep him out of a transient room but he wasn't interested in pressing the issue, not with the crossbow aimed at his heart. Clearly Lindsey hadn't heard, or didn't believe, about the chip.
Lindsey returned to the motel table, leaving the door ajar. He had a medical kit laid out; Spike had interrupted him in the process of methodically arranging a bandage on the table. He put the crossbow down, took a travel mug and penknife from his suitcase and sat down on the bed, turning towards the doorway.
"One glass now, one after. Agreed?" Spike jerked his head in agreement. Lindsey took a deep breath and drew the knife blade across his forearm, deftly catching the dark welling drops as they ran down his bare forearm into the plastic mug.
Spike could smell the blood from the doorway; hunger surged through him. It had been longer than he cared to remember since he'd had fresh human blood. He sought distraction.
"What do you do, Lindsey? When you're not feeding vampires?"
" I'm a singer." Lindsey was intent on the cup. "I used to be a lawyer." A wry tone.
Spike snorted. "A lawyer. Bloody hell, I could do with one of those. How are you on breach of contract; there's this demon in Africa owes me big time..." Guy didn't look like a lawyer. Or a singer, come to think of it. The image of a rent boy stayed with Spike.
There was a silence, while the blood ran slowly down into the mug. Spike shifted to the other foot. "Got a cigarette?" Lindsey shook his head. Awkwardly he reached into his back pocket and extracted his wallet. He flipped it open, pulled out a note with his teeth and tossed the remainder out to Spike, who caught it without shifting stance again. "Get a pack from the bar. This may take a while."
Spike loped back to the bar, leafing through the wallet. Not much there; drivers ID confirmed the name, about fifty bucks and a single credit card. Nothing else, no photos, membership cards, phone numbers. The man was as alone as he was. Spike got a glimpse of the urgency behind their bargain; this guy had been through something, needed more. Though if Darla had been involved he was lucky to have got away at all; she had always been fond of playing with her food but seldom let a morsel slip away.
When he came back with the cigarettes, having pocketed the rest of the cash, the mug was nearly full. Lindsey was paler, lying back with his eyes half shut.
"If you pass out I can't get in to rescue you." Spike observed. Lindsey opened his eyes. "I'll take my chances, thanks."
The second whiskey and the lack of nourishment had taken its effect on the vampire. He felt detached from the scene, the dark haired young man bleeding on the bed, himself leaning against the doorpost as much for support as appearance. It reminded him of a tableau he'd seen once, when he was still human, at one of those London social parties his former self had set so much store by. The tableaux had been a popular entertainment, supposed to convey some moral to the politely applauding audience. Spike wondered what moral could be drawn from this scene, and who would profit by it.
Finally Lindsay wrapped the bandage around his arm and stood up unsteadily. He placed the mug on the table next to the single chair then propped himself back up on the bed. The crossbow was back in his hand and although he looked groggy the aim at Spike's heart was steady enough.
"Come in, Spike." The Southern voice was neutral. Spike's pride flared up again; that was more of a command than an invitation. But there was fresh blood waiting for him and half an hour ago he'd decided that pride was no longer important to him. Perhaps there would be a way to wrestle initiative back later. The young man had been so clearly vulnerable, it was a matter of finding out where, and no one, he told himself, could do that better than he could.
He moved to the table, draining the mug in one long, exquisite swallow. It burned through him, giving him new energy and he wanted more. Lindsey however was watching him intently, anticipating his move,
"Stay away, vampire. There'll be more afterwards."
Spike shrugged. "So, what do you want to know."
"Everything" Lindsey leaned forward slightly, eagerly. " How you, Darla, Angelus came to be together. What you did. How you lived. What it was like. And why you're here, alone, like this."
Spike wiped his lips. "The Master bit Darla, Darla bit Angelus, Angelus bit Drusilla, Dru bit me. We were one big happy family, kind of like the Waltons except with more eating people. Then Angelus got a soul, me and Dru split up, government bastards put a chip in my head which stops me eating people. Pretty much covers everything. Dinner now?" He raised an eyebrow. Lindsey shook his head.
OK, didn't think that would work. What the hell, Spike thought, might as well tell him the lot. Nothing better to do for a while. The blood had woken him up and he paced as he started again.
"I was coming home from this party, right. Bloody awful do as I recall; wasn't a decent party in London that year. Music was crap back then. Bumped into this really unusual woman...."
As he spoke he remembered the last time he'd told this tale. That had been one hell of a night; he'd had the Slayer hanging on his words, had showed her what he'd used to be, what he'd be again without the bloody chip in his head. He'd been on top of the world that night. Then she'd turned on her heel and gone, lied to him about despising him, because she couldn't handle what he was. He should have known then that she'd turn out too weak, that she'd never accept him. If he'd turned away then, gone back to Dru, the last year could have been so different.
It was a long story and as the hours passed he watched Lindsey carefully. From the way the guy reacted he clearly felt pretty strongly about both Darla and Angelus. Spike wondered what his story was.
When he reached the Boxer Rebellion and the death of the Slayer he paused. "Dru and I didn't hang round after Darla and Angelus split; believe me you didn't want to be round Darla when she was mad. Didn't see her again; I don't know if the old bitch is dead or alive."
Lindsey looked up but didn't speak.
"Do you want me to go on?"
Lindsey nodded. "Tell me what you and Dru did next." He was breathing heavily.
"With pleasure." Spike lit another cigarette. "We knew how to have a good time; we went on a European tour. Nothing but the best for me and my girl; top hotels, cruises, nobility for lunch." He elaborated on their activities through the period up till they reached Sunnydale. Lindsey looked more and more fascinated; Spike was interested to note he didn't appear to have a weak stomach. By now Spike was thoroughly enjoying himself, drunk on spirits and blood, expansive.
When he got to his return to Sunnydale and the chip however he found himself reluctant to talk much. He didn't want to be reminded of the pain he'd been through in the last year. Briefly and unemotionally he started to outline the events; how he'd found he'd been altered, Buffy's death and resurrection, their affair and its end; how she couldn't cope with what he was, couldn't accept his feelings for her, thoguht herself too good for a soulless vampire. How he'd gone to the demon in Africa to get the chip removed, to return to his old self, but had been betrayed. His temper rose in the telling.
"So this red eyed bastard tells me he's returning my soul. What the bloody hell am I meant to do with that?"
"Did he?" Lindsey's voice was urgent.
"Not as far as I can tell. Made bugger all difference so far anyway. Do I look like I've got a soul to you?"
Lindsey shrugged. "Only vamp I know with a soul is the most heartless bastard I've met. " Spike snorted. "If I ever get to resemble that ponce I'll stake myself, you can be sure of that.
"Anyway, that's it. Your turn now. You can tell me what you've been doing with Angel and Darla; or what they've been doing with you."
Lindsey shook his head. "That wasn't part of the deal. Have your blood and go." He was avoiding Spike's eyes now, unwrapping the bandage. The crossbow had been put aside. Spike could smell the blood seeping out of the cloth and Lindsey's sweat. Spike grinned; now he knew where the weak spot lay. He moved, vampire fast, around the bed to Lindsey's back, wrapped an arm around Lindsey's chest, bringing his mouth to the man's ear.
"That's not the way you want to pay, is it. How did Darla take hers?" His voice was deliberately quiet, caressing. He forced himself to stay in human form.
Lindsey was shaking but didn't pull away. He lifted his injured arm to push away the dark hair from the side of his neck. The scars were clearly visible. Spike could hear the blood rushing below the skin. He shifted features and his mouth closed around the two neat marks. Lindsey was now still as stone. Spike's teeth broke the skin and the sweet liquid filled his mouth. As the rush of sensation hit him, the deep hole inside him seemed to break and the rage came rushing through; at the demon, at Buffy, at the chip, at everything that had happened to him. He wanted to drain the human dry, then kill everyone in the place, go on killing. His mouth closed harder around the neck, pulling in the warm blood.
But Lindsey finally moved, pushing at Spike's face weakly, and as he did so the chip reactivated, sending a shooting pain through his head. "Ouch! Bloody hell!" Spike pulled back a little. The blood was so close, the pain so intense.
Lindsay had turned, awkwardly, to look at Spike. The shadow in his eyes was darker than ever. Spike's rage had gone again, dropping back to leave the emptiness inside. He wanted the closeness back, to feel human warmth against his flesh, a heartbeat under the skin. He could see his own need reflected in thiose dark eyes and with a flash of intuition, Spike said " You don't want me to stop. Not now. Not ever."
Lindsay shook his head , wincing. His hand covered the bite marks, blood seeping through the fingers. His voice was intense, uncompromising. "Take me with you, or get out."
Spike froze at Lindsey's words. He could take this one with him; human to feed on, or as a fledgling. He'd never made a vampire before with the intention of keeping one as family; never needed to with Drusilla all the companionship he'd ever want. God knows he'd thought about it doing it to the Slayer; sometimes only the knowledge that, souled or not, she'd kill him straightaway had stopped him. Now with the prospect of company he was suddenly aware of how alone he'd been, for the first time in centuries.
Something about Lindsey had appealed from the start as well; intelligent and not uncourageous in his way. To have someone else there, to teach to kill, to use as necessary, even just to be an audience; Spike was stunned at how much this chance encounter could improve his existence. And the blood, sticky, dark, sweet, was so alluring.
This one could be his, thralled to him for centuries to come. He looked at Lindsay again in the light of that revelation, and for a moment he saw the need and the pain that had led to the ultimatum. Some of that pain would go with the departing soul, most would stay forever with the immortal demon. If there was one thing Spike had learned it was that vampires never really got over anything.
He wanted this boy, with all the need and pain, with all his untold history. Wanted him with a craving as deep as that for the blood whose odour hung thick in the air between them.
He pulled away, walked to the door. Spoke.
" Stay away from the undead, Lindsay. Particularly our branch of it. We really aren't healthy people to be around."
Behind him Lindsay started to say something inaudible, stopped and started again. Spike was not going to turn round, not for the plea he expected. Didn't the boy have any sense of self preservation at all?
" Caritas." Pause. "Go to Caritas. In LA. The host can help. With your soul."
Spike didn't respond. But as he walked through the dark there was a purpose to his step for the first time in a while. Somewhere to go. A name. Caritas.
Somehow inside him the empty hole seemed a little less gaping.