One for Sorrow
Spike’s voice broke the silence. “Bloody shame, is what it is.”
He lit a cigarette, and then raised an eyebrow and offered her one. Buffy just rolled her eyes and didn’t bother answering.
Then they sat some more.
It was nice, in a way. Not that she’d ever want to start smoking, but Spike was, after all, an evil bloodsucking vampire, and chocolate and spiffy shoes were probably low on his list of comforting gift ideas.
A cat suddenly leapt over the fence, and ran across the lawn. They watched it go. Maybe it was trying to catch a mouse or something. Maybe it wouldn’t.
Good for the mouse.
Actually, given the evil bloodsucking, it was good that Spike hadn’t given her a comforting gift of dead puppies. Cigarettes and… now whiskey… were comparatively nice.
She shook her head, and Spike put the whiskey back in his pocket.
(Very nice, really.)
He sighed, and said, “She’s a great lady.”
Softly: “She’ll be okay, Slayer.”
And Buffy forgot that he was evil, forgot that his smoking smelled gross, and for a few long minutes she leaned her head on his shoulder, and let him be nice.
Two for Mirth
There were plenty of great getaway vehicles in the world. Jaguars, Porsches, Ferraris, Millennium Falcons… But when it came right down to it, Winnebagos weren’t one of them.
Too big, for one thing. And then there was the rocking, and the swaying, and with the car sickness…
Plus, it smelled like something had died and then been covered in car freshener.
Buffy was sitting across from him, staring at the floor.
“Cheer up, Buff,” Xander tried. “You’ve got the Winnebago, the Travel Scrabble – all you need now is a tie-dye shirt, and you’re living the dream.”
Almost got a smile, but not quite.
“Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”
“Dawn could die,” she said flatly.
Damn. Wrong move.
“Well, yeah, but worst, I mean, there’s death, and more death, and then taxes, but the worst…”
Running out of ideas, here…
Spike raised an eyebrow and leaned over. “Well, let’s see,” he said. “First, Glory could capture us, and then torture us until we scream, kill us horribly, or maybe kill us first and then torture our dead corpses, or maybe she’ll bring us all back from sweet oblivion, send us to Vegas or somewhere equally tacky, peel our skin from our bones, take our most valuable possessions – like our classy cigarette lighters – then tie us down and force us to listen to endless loops of Barry Manilow until we’re ready to lie through our teeth and tell her she doesn’t look stupid with that haircut – and possibly kill us again.”
Buffy made a sound that was almost a sob, then bit her lip – and collapsed in a fit of giggles.
Spike reached over and patted her hand awkwardly.
The evil dead was trying to steal Xander’s way-with-words thing. This wasn’t going to end well.
Three for Death
Spike woke up one evening to see Buffy sitting by his bed. She said nothing, but watched, emotionless, until the aching grief overwhelmed him and he pulled his sheets over his head and wept.
Who knew memories could seem so real?
And then, only a few short days, months, eternities later, she was back – and the silent emotionless woman next to his bed was flesh and blood. If barely.
She would come into his crypt, and simply sit, watching the walls.
Sometimes he would sit down beside her; sometimes he would offer vodka; sometimes she would accept.
Sometimes she would turn away whenever he came close and end up huddled in the corner, wrapping her arms around her knees as if clinging to a life-raft of the only Real she knew.
Once she cried.
Every time, he would eventually make his way over, rest his hand lightly on her shoulder, and say, “Come on, Slayer. No rest for the wicked.” And he would see her back home in the breaking blue of night’s end.
Then one day, she stopped coming.
Four for Birth
Her skin was tense, tingling, streaming with sensation, and they’d barely started yet.
“…and that, pet, is how you use candles in foreplay.”
She smiled up at him. “And you were saying I shouldn’t bother celebrating my birthday.”
“Short-sighted of me.”
Spike looked at her thoughtfully. “How is the Niblet, anyway? Recovered?”
Responsibilities. Those were for reality – not for here.
She shook her head. “Shhh. No talk. More sex.”
Five for Silver
“Silver lining? Maybe the excessively hormonal teenagers will get so overwrought over Backstreet Boys re-releases that they’ll kill each other in their sleep, and then I can have my house back.”
Lou-Anna watched, curiously. The Slayer was sitting cross-legged on the couch, making quiet, sarcastic remarks as yet more newbies tried to fit their sleeping bags into the bits of floor-space. She was probably kidding.
The vampire guy raised an eyebrow. “Nice idea, love, but wouldn’t that be playing into the First’s hands just a tad? He does have a happy on for the whole mass slaughter bit.”
She shrugged. “Yeah, but omelette, eggs…”
(The platinum-blond guy’s name was Spike, that’s what Molly had said last night. And he had been the most evil vampire in the whole of history – he started one of the world wars, even, or pretty close – but he was friends with the Slayer, so he was on their side. For the moment. Just don’t get him alone.
“Yeah, but the Slayer trusts him, right?”
“Yeah. They go everywhere together.”
Kris lowered her voice. “I hear… she gave him half her soul.”
“Well, when you put it like that…” He quirked a smile. “I could take out a few of them – give the house a fighting chance.”
“Could you? That’d be great.” The Slayer leaned over and put her head on his shoulder. “I am just so sick of sharing a bathroom with thirty people,” she groaned.
“Cheer up, love.” He patted her shoulder. “Look on the bright side – maybe the world will end.”
Six for Gold
Buffy turned away from him, and crossed to the box under the stairs. She took out the bottles, handed him one with a secretive smile, and sat gingerly on the edge of the cot.
“Cider.” She opened hers. “I’ve been saving it.”
“For a special occasion?” Spike walked over, and sat down – on the other end of the cot, two arm-lengths away. Out of reach, although she could get to him in one second flat if she had to.
“Hey, saving the world is a pretty special occasion, wouldn’t you think?”
A flying tackle, maybe.
“It probably qualifies.”
Or just go and straddle him. A year ago she would have done that already – it would have been easier. No, harder; no, easier; no, she couldn’t just…
Dammit. This whole non-relationship was way too complicated.
“So – have you decided which shirt you’re going to wear for the fight tomorrow?”
That’s right. Discuss men’s fashion. That won’t make him think you’re crazy…
Spike looked at her sexily (no, not sexily, dryly humourously, that was it), and didn’t reply.
“Or… how about them Yankees?”
They flashed a smile between them. And sipped cider.
Spike paused for a moment, just a long moment, before saying, “I’m bloody scared about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Dying… or watching you die… or watching you watch those girls die… I’m going to wear a black t-shirt, if I can find one, my victory drink will be lager, my battle cry will be ‘get knotted you bastards’, my favourite colour is periwinkle blue, my favourite singer is Florence Foster Jenkins, and the day I care about American football is the day I lose my mind – again.” He looked over to her. “Does that answer your next five questions satisfactorily?”
Dumb guy. Dumb, annoying, sexy, wonderful, ridiculous… guy.
Sometime this evening Buffy was going to kiss him at least once. She just needed a way to work it into the conversation.
“…do you like the cider?”
Seven for a Secret, ne’er to be told
Spike was gone. Gone. Completely gone. Never coming back – that kind of gone. Gone.
Say it enough times, maybe she’d even start believing it.
“The thing is…” She paused.
Not present. Vanished. Absent.
Kennedy watched her, waiting.
“The thing is, I never got to tell him. Ever.”
“I mean, yes, the whole love thing, but that wasn’t it. I had way too much more to say, and now I don’t get to. And I’d only just started.”
Disappeared. Left. Missing.
“I had so much left to tell him.”
Another nod. “My girlfriend is in love with a dead person,” Kennedy offered.
“Me too,” Buffy sniffled. “But a different dead person. The best dead person. And he was so lovely…”
“I mean, how do you compete with that? She’s dead, and all perfect…”
“And he’s the person I tell things to, and now he’s not here for me to tell him about the not being able to tell him things, and who am I supposed to be grumpy and worried at…”
Unavailable. Gone. Vamoosed.
“Her hair was even nice. Willow is always going to look at my hair and think it’s not as nice as hers was…”
“I’m stuck being drunk and… drunk, with the wrong person, completely wrong…”
“Maybe if I died, then we could both be in heaven and have a fight or something…”
“…which, no offence, but you’re not the person I get drunk with – except that’s him, and now he’s not my person…”
“…silly perfect dead girlfriends…”
“…he wasn’t supposed to do this to me, not the evil nemesis vampire I hated…”
Eight for a Wish
They were arguing again. Dawn rolled her eyes, and tried to concentrate on homework.
“…so bloody violent! You could at least–”
“No way! You do not get to barge back into my life and boss me into politeness!”
“Politeness? Not breaking someone’s nose is common bloody decency!”
“You know what else is common decency? Letting your girlfriend know when you fail to burn up in a Hellmouth!”
“What, so now you’re my girlfriend? Since when do you–”
Dawn stuffed her fingers in her ears.
Geometry, she was thinking about geometry…
Sooner or later they were going to get past all the yelling and start jumping each other. Hopefully. They had to.
Damn. End of the page. She moved one hand quickly from ears to textbook, and–
“–do not need anger-management classes!”
“I’ll bloody pay for your anger-management classes! Just say the word!”
“And get a new swear word! What’s wrong with ‘fucking’, for god’s sake?!”
Dawn had been wondering the same thing. After all, everyone knew they’d end up there eventually. Why not skip the argument and get straight to the good stuff?
Their voices stepped the volume up a notch.
“…even one call! But no, you had to go off and–”
“Ghost! Incorporeal! Any of this ringing a–”
“Yes, that’s right, because you only got your voice back this week, right?”
“You are so–”
They’d better start screwing soon, or Dawn was totally going to fail midterms.
Nine for a Kiss
A final flying kick to the head, and then it was lying dead, along with the other two.
All things considered, the Slayer was pretty bloody good at her job.
“Come on out, Spike.”
Very good, in fact. Especially when it came to detecting menacing former big-bads lurking in the shadows.
He sighed, and stepped out of the alleyway.
“Miss me, Slayer?”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Not so much. After all, after a year of thinking you’re dead, what’s a week of thinking you’ve left the country?”
“It wasn’t about–” He stopped. No point in starting the whole thing over again.
Buffy was still tense, arms crossed, waiting for the attack. Spike stepped past her, and surveyed the carnage.
“I think so.”
“Check their teeth, then. They’re silver – worth a bit.”
“Yep. Whole black market in them.”
“I did miss you.” The words came quietly, but firmly.
He turned. She was looking at him, carefully.
And somehow, that was all that had to be said.
Ten for a Bird you must not miss
Buffy stood stock still, eyes trained on the birds circling overhead.
“Great,” she said. “Just what I needed. Two nests of vampires in one night, and now we’re being followed by demonic birds.”
“Pretty sure those aren’t demonic birds, pet.”
“They’re crows. They can end up enormous. Not demonic, though.”
Spike was smart. And pretty good with recognising this sort of stuff. If he said something wasn’t a demon – well, normally she’d believe him, but in this case…
“As a rule, honey,” she said, “normal non-demonic birds don’t have glowing eyes.”
“It’s just reflected light from the streetlamps.”
There was a -whoosh- overhead. Buffy blinked.
“Also, non-demonic birds don’t generally breathe fire.”
“Err… good point.”
“Although, to be fair, without the fire-breathing they really would be just regular crows. So I wasn’t wrong, precisely – just lacking necessary information.”
“…pass you a sword and save the argument for later.”
“That’s the one, yes.” She glanced at him. “You got my back?”
“Always will, Slayer.”
“Right. Let’s go kill some birds.”