"Didn't figure you for a junkie, love."
He settled his weight on one hip, stuck his hands in his belt and leered at her.
She gave him back look for look.
"Didn't figure you for a whore, Spike."
He laughed, but his eyes flashed yellow.
"Think I shouldn't be followin' your shining example, then, Grandma?"
She glanced around the little cubicle. The door curtain was torn, and trash was piled up in the corners. Even the battered leather armchair, ready for the next customer, was ripped open, stuffing spilled from its innards like someone had gutted it.
She flared her nostrils in disgust. "Not my example, William, dear. I wouldn't have set foot in a dump like this even back in the seventeenth century."
Her gaze swept the rest of the room, finally lighting on the tawdry attempts at Halloween decorations, which were in danger of bringing down the crumbling plaster on the ceiling.
"Flashing pumpkins and skulls?" she sneered. "Tacky, William, tacky."
He fished his smokes out of his duster pocket and lit up. "It's for the punters. They expect a bit of Halloween tat this time of year. S' meant to be ironic." He eyed her through the smoke. "Like you're meant to be dead."
She smiled, without mirth. "I got better."
"That right?" He smoked in silence, regarding her from stormy blue eyes. Then he took a last drag on the cigarette, dropped the butt on the floor, and trod it out in a shower of sparks.
Eyes still on her face, step by step, he sauntered closer. "Funny how you look so fucking miserable then. What's the matter, love? Heartbeat keepin' you awake? Listen how it's pounding away. You're not...scared, are you?"
She laughed a strangled laugh. "You'll have to try harder than that."
Even so, as he drew nearer, her body began to tremble. Then he was right in front of her, eyes blazing yellow in the dim light. He grinned, showing his fangs, then bent to inhale deeply at the juncture of her neck and shoulder.
His hand grazed her hip. "Never thought you'd be afraid of me, Darla."
"I am not afraid," she gritted, between teeth that wouldn't stop chattering.
His hand continued its leisurely exploration - the curve of her lower back, her waist, her upper arm. Never quite going where she might not want it to go.
"What's the matter? Afraid I'm gonna bite you?" His palm was resting on her crotch, fingers pointing downwards.
"Or maybe," he breathed. "Maybe you want me to? Feel that heat. Like a furnace."
He squeezed suddenly.
"Get off me!" She pushed him away with all her feeble human strength, then put the chair between them. "Stay away."
He held up his hands. "All right, all right. No need to get testy." His eyes raked her up and down. "If you're not here for the... services -" he shook away his vampire face and leered at her again - "what are you here for?"
It took her a moment to collect herself. A moment where, even to her, the sound of her heartbeat was deafening. At last, she had enough self-control to gasp out,
"I do want your services. I want you to sire me."
His jaw dropped.
"You want me to what?"
"You heard me." She drew a ragged breath, stepped around the chair and approached him again.
This time, he was the one in retreat, across the room, until he was jammed against the wall under the boarded up window.
"Dunno about that, love."
Her hand slid down his chest and inside his t-shirt, hot palm pressed to the place where his heart didn't beat.
"You were right, Spike. That infernal drumming does keep me awake. I want it to stop. You can do that for me."
The sneer was gone from his face. Bending down, he scented her again, inhaling her deep into his lungs.
"Angel said no, did he?"
Her eyes widened, and a frown creased her brow, but she moved closer, warm body molded to cold.
"He did. More fool him. But I'd rather you sired me anyway."
"Oh, you would, would you?" His eyebrow quirked in amusement. "Why's that, then?"
She gazed up at him, green eyes smouldering. "Because Angel'll hate it so damn much, of course. Why do you think?"
They stared at each other. He pursed his lips, as if considering the matter, while his hand sidled down her spine to cup and squeeze her asscheek. Then he pushed her away.
"Sorry, love. No can do."
She gaped at him. "But why not?" When he didn't answer, but only lit another cigarette, she said,
"What's the matter, William? Afraid you can't handle it?"
He shook his head. "It's not that."
"What, then?" She flung her arms wide. "Okay, I get it. You hate me. Sire me, then. Take out all your frustrations on me and discard me afterwards, if you want. But just...just do it. Please? I've no one left to ask."
He took another long drag on his cigarette, shook his head again.
"Please!" Her voice shook with suppressed fury.
He shrugged. "S'not that I don't want to. S' that I can't, see?" He tapped his head."The US government stuffed a microchip in my head. If I try to hurt a human, it causes me blinding pain. If I did what you wanted, I'd prob'ly black out before I managed to kill you."
"Oh." She looked deflated. "Why are you bite whoring in a crack house, then?"
He put his hand on his chest. "Me? I don't work here, love. What d'you take me for? Was lookin' for someone, actually - tall bloke, very boring-looking. You seen him?"
She stared at him, mute with fury.
"Better keep lookin', then, I s'pose." He walked past her. "Sorry you got the wrong end of the stick, love. Was fun leadin' you on, though."
As the ratty curtain swung to behind him, she found her voice again.