It’s a week after the fang disfunction that Willow sees Spike again, lurking behind a tree just five steps off the library-Stevenson shortcut. It's really a pretty stupid place for her to be walking after dark but no, It’s on campus, she told herself and now oh crap there’s a vampire.
He’s staring at the sorority girls giggling off in the distance, but at Willow’s totally-almost-in-control squeak, he turns, his pale face and paler hair littered with leaf-shadow. It takes a moment for his expression to change. The corner of his mouth lifts and he steps into the path, shoulders swinging with swagger.
Can’t bite. Can’t bite.
“If it isn’t the Slayer’s playmate,” he says.
“Can’t bite!” She takes a step back anyway.
“You gonna call for your Buffy?” His voice lifts to falsetto. “‘Buffy, help, I need rescuing again.’” He takes one big stride forward. “But she’s not around here, is she?” There’s a stutter in his smile. “Is she?”
“You can’t bite,” Willow says, scanning the ground for a handy sharp stick because, duh, her stake is buried under the psych test. A pepper-spray key chain would do her more good.
“Can so,” he says.
It isn’t a very scary retort. In fact, he matches Xander’s “Not scared!” clown-fear speech tone for tone. That’s when Willow realizes that all the shadows on his face aren’t from leaves. Some of them are the color of bruises, bunched around his eyes.
“Can’t,” she says, more certain now. She matches him, stare for stare, until his gaze drops.
“Can’t,” he admits, his shoulders drooping, too.
Slowly, eyes still on him, she digs a hand in her messenger bag. Psych text, notebook, Hi-Lighters. Ouch, splinter. Stake. She pulls it out and brandishes it, pulling her mouth into Resolve Face. She steps forward. Time to dust this vamp, cowgirl.
He looks up and sees the stake, and she figures he’ll run for it. “You really gonna stake me?”
Oh, right. Talky vamp. Why run when you could run your mouth instead.
He continues, “Could make a girl feel better, I suppose, a bit of violence. Better than nunning it up in your room listening to some bint kill a mic.” He steps in, and now they’re close enough to touch, which is exactly what she’s going to do. With her stake. “Some twit hurt you?” he asks, all low and husky, which should totally not be allowed in guys who try to kill you.
Then the words filter through, and there’s Oz, all solid and certain, saying goodbye while her whole chest closes up in a single spasm of tears.
“Back!” she yells, stake high. Spike startles back so fast he nearly falls on his ass. That almost makes her feel better. “He’s coming back!”
“Is he?” Spike asks from a safe distance away. He doesn’t look like he believes her, which just shows what he knows. “Well, right, then. You don’t need a man at all. I’ll just be going.”
“I don’t need a man,” Willow says, loudly enough that she thinks it might be true.
“Right. Like I said.” He starts to turn.
“And you’re not a man anyway.”
Now he smiles, and oh, that smile is evil in so many different ways she’d need irrational numbers just to count them. “Not so bad at pretending, though,” he says, catching his bottom lip in his teeth. “Could show you.”
She notices she’s lowered the stake. “Show me what?”
He takes the last few steps between them, slides his hand up her jawbone, and leans in. His eyes close. This would be the perfect time for staking, she thinks. She doesn’t. She lets him reach her, lips to lips, and his are cold and kind of chapped, but the muscles in them still work, uh, really well, which is what she’s thinking about instead of the fact that his tongue’s sliding between her teeth. Oz’s tongue felt totally different, she thinks.
She shoves Spike away and he stumbles backwards. This time he does fall on his ass. “Hey!” he yelps. “I was helping!”
“He’s coming back,” she says again, daring him to disagree.
Spike sighs. “Right.” Now would be when he’s supposed to spring up and start taunting, or threatening, or smirking, or something. But he just sits there, hands planted behind him in the gravel. He’s not even looking at her.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asks.
Now he looks up, and if looks could wither she’d be a very dead plant. “Same thing’d be wrong with you if you couldn’t hunt the great American cheeseburger without a zap to the noggin.”
“Oh. Oh! You!” She thrust her stake at him. “You were going to seduce me, weren’t you? And then I’d let you bite me and then you’d have a great time and I’d be all ‘La la, I’m a corpse.’ Weren’t you!”
“Would have made a brilliant vamp,” he said. “I’m telling you, your boy’s a twat, leaving a bird like you hanging.”
“Uh. Thanks?” That’s the dangerous thing about Spike, she thinks. Like he said - he’s good at pretending to be human. It makes her want to treat him like one.
“Can’t blame a bloke for trying,” he said, sighing again.
It takes her a moment to realize what he means. “I can so! Do I look like I want to be dead?”
“It doesn’t have to be all your blood,” he says, and now he sounds like he’s pleading. “Just, you know, a snack. Enough to keep a fellow going.”
“I think the hunger damaged your brain,” she says.
“Probably.” He pushes himself to his feet. “Well, tell the Slayer ‘Piss off,’ will you? Unless you’re still meaning to stake me.” He stands there, boots planted like gravity is a matter of debate. And like it might win any minute now. Like the world already ended and Spike is just waiting for word.
She knows how that feels.
Clearly, something damaged her brain, too. “Don’t you dare tell Buffy,” Willow says, pushing her sleeve up her arm.
It takes him a moment to catch up. He stares at her, gap-mouthed, and then he slides right into her space, sighting her wrist like a hawk after a rabbit. “S’easier from the neck,” he said, gaze fixed.
“This or nothing,” she says, blocking the memory of his hands heavy on her shoulders and his fangs nipping at the air behind her ear. From her bag she pulls her trusty stake-carving knife – freshly sharpened, thanks to Giles-nagging – and slices into her wrist, crosswise. “Just...” She swallows. She can wrestle away from him if she needs to, on account of that head-zappiness. She’s almost certain. “Just take what you need. Make sure and leave me some.”
“Okay,” he says, husky again but for different reasons now. She lifts her palm.
It feels really weird, his hands wrapped around her arm and his mouth on her wrist, tonguing the cut. It was like getting your dog to lick your wound. Which, great, now she’s thinking about germs and infection and vampire plaque.
Finally, just on the near edge of woozy, she yanks her arm away. “That’s enough. The Willow blood bank is closed.”
He meets her eyes, and she realizes that somewhere in there while hers were screwed shut and she wasn’t thinking about the vampire sucking on her, he vamped out. But then he shakes the brow ridges and fangs away, and it’s just the human face of the monster looking speculatively at her.
“Don’t tell Buffy,” Willow says.
He licks a smear of blood off his lip. “Suppose she might give me a turn?”
“Spike...” She grabs up the stake again, although she’s pretty sure they both know she’s not going to stake him now.
“Well, it’s been fun,” Spike says. “Gotta tell you something, though.” He steps closer and drops his mouth to her ear. “Boy’s a twat,” he whispers.
Before she can say a thing he kisses her again, still with the lip-muscles and the tongue-muscle, and he tastes so different from Oz...
...because he tastes like her blood.
She struggles backwards, sputtering.
Spike’s grinning at her. “Ta,” he says, lifting an arm as he walks off. There’s a new spring in his step, she thinks. An evil spring. Definitely evil.