He opened the door and stepped in, dropping his suitcase on the floor with a thump. Prepared to trudge his way -- possibly with his eyes closed -- across and up to the bedroom, then fall face first into his pillow, to awaken sometime after the End of Days had been officially declared and he'd been informed in triplicate.
It was the music that made him look up. An old, hard-wired surge of panic, to come home and find music playing, echoing from the bedroom, but he shook it off. This was an utterly different sound -- White Room lazily making its way down from his own dark room, accompanied by the smell of vanilla, and other spices much less legal. Over it all, the overwhelming scent of flowers, as if he'd left the window open and the blooming bushes in the courtyard below were making their presence known. But he hadn't done. You didn't leave windows open in Sunnydale.
He knew who was here, and though he hadn't decided yet whether to kiss or kill, there was nothing to be frightened of. Not for him.
The voice rang out before he'd even made it halfway up the stairs. "Ah, the lost lamb returns. Welcome home, I suppose."
"You escaped, then."
"You doubted it? They're children, mate. They couldn't hold me for longer than it took to call in a few favors. A chant here, a mess hall food fight there..."
"No, I didn't doubt it. Just wondered how long it would take."
"Six months or so. But I've been traveling. Until now."
"Until you decided to stop in -- pardon me, break in -- and redecorate."
"Of course. You've gone so bourgeoisie- what's that on the sofa, Laura Ashley? It's my duty to bring back some sense of class to this place."
Lying back on his bed, rightful owner of every inch of coverlet by the nine points of the law that possession grants, and knowing it. Smirking. One hand gracefully holding a hand-rolled joint -- which hadn't come out of the little drawer under the Tiffany lamp, because he hadn't restocked it in years, no matter what Spike liked to tell people he could smell in it -- the other hand waving around at the room.
The candles, flickering from desk and windowsill and shelf, and anywhere with a flat sufrace. The Cream poster, tacked to the wall with three pushpins and a four hundred year old Talhazrian dagger. The bottle of champagne on the table next to the bed, ensconced in an overturned Spanish battle helmet because using the icebucket he kept in plain sight on a shelf downstairs would be too... mundane? Non-irritating? Two glasses ready and waiting.
And the flower petals, scattered across the floor.
Once upon a time, there'd been a night in Brighton. Hot, unseasonably so, and no air conditioning in the tiny rented room. Sweaty, grotty, claustrophobic. The weight of the room and the unmoving air pushing in at them until they'd had to break out somehow. Down to the street and tomorrow's breakfast money and half their trainfare home gone, spent on everything the street vendor had on his cart. Upstairs, locked in with the scent of other people's sex and cigs and sadness wafting up at them from the threadbare carpet, they'd scattered their purchases madly, all over the floor. Danced them into the rug. Rolled in petals until the only scents in the room were a chaos of jangling floral perfume, and the smell of themselves.
Here, on his own dingy carpet, the blossoms were a confetti-splash of colour. White, violet, yellow, pink. Daisies, irises, carnations. Black-eyed Susan. Anything you could buy from the Hallmark shop round the corner. Except roses.
A flicker in the smirk, like the jump in a television signal, to show a familiar, irritated frown, just for a second. "I'm not a monster, you know. Whatever you think I've become, I wouldn't scatter those, not here."
He narrowed his own eyes, for a moment, then shook his head. "Yes, you would. But you didn't." He looked back down at the floor. "Thank you for that."
When he looked up, after the silence had gone heavy as the air, the smirk was snug in place, no sign of it ever having faltered. One eyebrow lifted, waiting for him to say something, while Clapton noodled endlessly from the stereo.
"What do you think you're doing here?" He almost managed to sound stern. Almost managed to pretend he wasn't walking towards the bed, reaching down for a glass. Almost managed to believe he cared what the answer was.
"Well, now -- that rather depends on you, doesn't it?"