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A Gem of A Soul

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"You wanna dance?" Parker shouted at Buffy.

It was loud. Way too loud to do anything else. "Let's have a meaningful talk instead," she shouted back at him with a wry grin, the thumping bass all but obliterating her words. Parker laughed. Points to me for being funny, Buffy thought to herself as her date led her past the rowdy partiers and toward the dance floor.

Just as they reached the other dancers, she felt a tingle run up her spine. Looking at the man that had suddenly stopped in front of her, she found herself staring into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Oooh, pretty, she thought.

But then she caught sight of the rest of Mr. Blue Eyes' face.


She froze, surprised, and he stared back, equally astonished. Her eyes darted over to the slumped body he was supporting. Ah, yes, there it was, a gaping neck wound.

"Spike," she uttered, curling her lip in disgust. And holding up the other side of the poor victim was… Harmony?

Spike is Harmony's boyfriend?

"And Harmony!" she added derisively.

Harmony, not to be outdone, countered with a scornful, "Buffy. Hi. What a cute outfit - last year!"

"Well, this is interesting. It's, uh, sort of double date," Spike leered.

Buffy longed to stake the bleached menace, but with Parker standing right there, watching curiously, there wasn't much she could do – yet. If only she could catch him outside… "I think you two should go".

"But the fun's just starting - old friends, lots to drink…" Spike jiggled the boy he was holding up.

Buffy was furious. He was openly taunting her in front of her date, who naturally had no clue what was going on. "Looks like your friend there started the party a little early, huh?" Parker asked.

The vampire trained his eyes on Parker. "Say, let's have a look at the new boy," he said to Buffy as he appraised the boy next to her.

"Hi, I'm Parker…" He stuck out his hand, trying to go along despite the uncomfortable situation. Spike ignored him. Parker pulled his hand back, nonplussed.

"Hmm, I like him. He's got, what's the word? Vulnerability," Spike purred. Buffy flinched slightly. Now he was threatening her date? Argh!

She kept her eyes locked on the peroxide pest. "And you, with Harmony. Lose a bet?" she taunted.

Harmony let out an insulted, "Hey!" Neither of them looked at her. Both the vampire and the Slayer knew who they had to keep their eyes on.

"Actually, how we met, funny story, really -" Spike began, seemingly about to tell a charming anecdote, then he tossed the boy he was holding up onto Parker, hopped over a nearby couch, and ran.

Buffy sped after him, calling "Stay here!" to Parker over her shoulder. She burst outside and paused warily amidst the revelers at the bottom of the porch steps. Looking around, she saw the side of the house was dark and deserted. God, she hoped Spike was over there, where she could easily dust him without causing a scene. Why on earth had the idiot come back this time? Obviously things hadn't worked out with Drusilla.

She pulled out a stake as she crept cautiously down the side of the house, then caught sight of the vampire pressed into the darkened hedge. She slugged him and Spike returned the blow as he stepped out into the light. "Dru dump you again?" she taunted, striking him.

"Maybe I dumped her," Spike said and retaliated.

Harmony stood there, watching them trade punches. "She left him for a Fungus Demon. It's all he talks about some days…" she informed Buffy with a roll of her eyes, obviously put out that Spike wasn't over Drusilla.

"Harm," he growled, trying to shut her up. "We're going". He turned back to Buffy. "It isn't time yet," he said ominously.

Harmony's eyes lit up with the joy of being in on a secret. "Yeah, but as soon as we have the Gem of Amarra you're gonna be sooo sorry – what? OW!" That last bit was said to Spike as he grabbed her and hauled her away, still trying desperately to get her to shut up.

Buffy watched them slip off. Sighing in exasperation, she headed to a phone to give Giles the 411.

Over the course of the next few days, Buffy wasn't sure which was bothering her more – the lack of progress in finding Spike and foiling his evil plans, or the lack of phone call from Parker.

She decided it had to be the lack of phone call. After all, she was used to dealing with evil disappointing her. She was beginning to suspect that Parker was going to disappoint her too, and that was not something she was ready to face yet. She desperately hoped that he hadn't turned evil, at least. She'd hate to have to kill another boyfriend… or, well…

Not a boyfriend, based on the way he was leaning over, talking to that girl.

Buffy hurried up to him, trying to appear casual despite her rapid approach, but when she heard the brown-haired boy telling this girl the same confidences that he'd told her, about his father's death and his newfound desire to live life to the fullest, she couldn't keep the neediness out of her voice. "Parker?"

He turned to her, completely unfazed. After a quick introduction, he sent what was obviously meant to be his newest conquest off to her classes, and proceeded to give Buffy the monumental brush-off.

On the one hand Buffy wasn't completely surprised, considering that pesky lack of promised phone call, but on the other… Yeah, she was surprised. Seeing Parker face to face reminded her of the connection she had felt with him the other night. The connection she had thought he'd felt too.

The things he was saying to her, the way he made it clear that she was only a one-night stand to him (Didn't you have fun? Well what else was it supposed to be?), made her feel silly, naïve, young, used. It hurt, and Buffy was almost forced to accept that she had been played. Especially when he tried to ask her if she really wanted a commitment. Well, yeah, duh – but obviously not the answer she was supposed to give.

"Look, I really have to go now." He walked away, and she shriveled up inside, unwanted once again.

But maybe she was reading him wrong. Or maybe she'd done something dumb, something silly to upset him, which would be easy to fix. She tried one more time, calling out as she chased him, "Parker, wait! I did this all wrong!"

"No, it's cool, we'll hook up later," he dismissed her, continuing on his way. Buffy stared after him, shoulders slumped.

Spike had been watching the scene between the Slayer and the boy with mild interest. She was different, this one, with her friends and her family and her snappy little comebacks, and it had proven to be his downfall, time and again. To see her rejected by that git, with her sodding little-girly pain, made her seem oh so-much-less than he'd built her up to be in his mind.

Defeating her wouldn't be so bloody hard after all. Especially with this lovely, lovely ring on his finger. And he could torture her a bit while he did it, twist the knife that young puppy had plunged into her for him. It wouldn't make up for all the suffering she'd caused him, but… It would certainly feel good.

Spike was standing practically right behind her, and she hadn't even noticed. He could feel the emotions rolling off of her; smell the churning blood bubbling through her. He grinned evilly, and spoke into her ear. "Well, that was pathetic". When she turned, shocked, he punched her square in the face and sent her sprawling.


He watched as she squirmed on the ground, trying to regain her sense of balance. Like a bug he could crush under his boots right now, if he so chose. Spike wanted to make it last a tick though, enjoy the feeling of being the bloody victor this time around.

It was a good feeling, one she'd denied him for too long. Her and her stupid little pals. He could well afford to gloat; with the gem, he was all but invincible. He would play with her and then finally, finally suck her dry. He spoke, loosely, confidently, as she lay there, dumbstruck.

"Innit a fantastic day? Birds singing, squirrels making lots of rotten squirrels, sun beaming down in a nice, non-fatal way. It's very exciting, I can't wait to find out if I freckle".

The little chit pulled a plant stake away from a newly planted tree and came at him, punching and kicking like a right firecracker, but Spike noticed she was off. That tiny piece of information thrilled him. Truth be told, even with the gem, he wasn't completely sure she couldn't defeat him. The luck had always been on her side.

But now it was on his. He'd caught her as she was hurt, as she was vulnerable, and it was going to make his victory not only tastier, but a little bit easier too. She knocked him down and he leapt back up and let her stake him.

It hurt like a right bugger, but hey, here he was, not dust. His glee ratcheted up another notch at the look on her face.

"Ooh. Do it again," he said, making it sound dirty as he wiggled the stake then let her pull it out. "It tickles. You know, in the good way".

"The gem".

"Oh yeah. The Gem of Amarra," he gloated, holding up his hand to show her, then striking her to the ground with it. "Official sponsor of my killing you," he added as he went into game face.

Buffy came at him again, but he was ready. They traded blows, over and over. He'd knock her down, then she'd spring back up and kick him away. He rammed her into a pole several times, and dropped her onto a glass table. Now, this is glorious, he thought, fists and fangs and all out brawling, and me coming out on top. "Getting tired Slayer?" It was a rhetorical question. She was just laying there while he paced over her, gloating.

But the little girl wouldn't admit it. She dragged herself back up. "I'm okay. How about you?"

He had to confess, he liked her style. Quipping in the face of death. She was so feisty, and though he hated her for ruining things with his dark princess, he was glad for the dance the girl had given him. It made it so much more momentous to know that he'd be the one to kill this seemingly un-killable Slayer. His reputation would be untouchable, and Drusilla would come back to him, giggling madly over his accomplishment.

He salivated slightly, cock hardening, imagining the wicked things they'd get up to when he caught up to his princess and gave her the news. They'd quarreled in the past, but the making up had always made the quarrel worthwhile. Spike suspected this would be a reunion to top them all. They'd paint the whole bloody world red, they would.

Buffy was panting hard, waiting for an opening. "Sun in your eyes?" she asked.

He squinted at the sun. "A little. Awfully bright, disorienting… Oh, no, I lied. I'm fine".

He threw a hard punch at her, and she staggered, slow to come back. He could hear a heartbeat moving in being him, thumping like a frightened rabbit. Without breaking stride, he whirled and saw the whelp that followed the Slayer around, panting at her heels. He should have killed the boy last year, but he'd been too deep in a bender to think properly. He'd rectify it now. Convenient, it was, the boy coming right to him. He wouldn't have to hunt him later.

The lad ran at him. Spike grabbed him and sent him flying into a lamp post, then spun back to the Slayer.

She wasn't moving much. He could see in her eyes that she was about set to give up. Well, that was no fun. He wasn't ready to finish dancing with her just yet. He cocked his head, gave her a leer, and rubbed his hand down his belly in a lascivious manner. Maybe he could rile her into playing some more.

Buffy watched Spike's hand with disgust. Was that a bulge in his pants? Ewww. She remembered how Faith had talked about getting off on the fighting. It was true that she did too, sometimes, but not this time. Spike was too ewww. And she was too owww.

Things were not going well, and Buffy couldn't help wondering if this was finally going to be it. If the Gem of Amarra wouldn't let her kill the bastard, how on earth was she going to stop him?

Spike stalked toward her, hand almost to his crotch. "So you let Parker take a poke, eh? Didn't seem like you knew each other that well. What exactly did it take to pry apart the Slayer's dimpled knees?"

That was low. And gross. Trust Spike to prey upon her vulnerability, make her feel even worse. She wrapped her arms more tightly around herself, did her best to keep the ache hidden. "You're a pig, Spike". He gave her a roundhouse kick that sent her back to the ground.

"Did he play the sensitive lad and get you to seduce him? Good trick if the girl's thick enough to buy it".

Well, yes, apparently she was. And how did he do that? You'd think he was the psychic one, not Drusilla. She rose up and tried to kick him, but he blocked it and knocked her down again. Ow.

"Wonder what you did wrong. Too strong? Did you bruise the boy?" he said knowingly. "Whatever, guess you're not worth a second go. Come to think of it, seems like someone told me as much".

Buffy reeled in pain, both physical and mental. He was taking everything she feared and holding it up in the harsh light of day for her viewing displeasure.

"Who was that?" he pretended to wonder.

Please don't say it, please don't remind me.

Too late. "Oh, yeah. Angel". He pinned her with his cold yellow eyes.

Bastard. Rage coursed through her, giving her a second wind.

This time, when she raced at him she got in a hard blow, throwing him off balance. His face registered shock, but then she didn't see anything else, only felt her fists and feet connecting, brutalizing, trying to return the pain he'd given her.

Suddenly she had him trapped, arm wrenched behind him, hand with the ring clenched between hers. If she could get it off, this would be over. Bye-bye Spikey.

He tried to buck her off. "Take it off me this way and we both burn!"

"Really?" she said. She doubted it. Spike was a terrible liar, odd though the trait was for a creature of evil. "Let's see".

She made to wrench the ring off his finger, but suddenly her grip on him was loose, the back of his head flying at her face.

Then it was dark.