"Spike, you're disgusting."
Spike gazed at Xander over the top of his mug and contemplated whether the very real and excruciating -- but relatively short-lived -- pain of the chip firing in is brain might indeed be worth the long-lingering satisfaction he would get from snapping Xander's neck. He thought about that a lot lately.
"I mean, the least you could do when you're heating up your blood," Xander continued, "is put a cover on it. Look at this!" Xander opened the microwave with a flourish like he was one of those spokesbints on the sodding Price is Right. The microwave was indeed splattered in deep, red droplets of something disgusting - not blood, though. But sure, blame the vampire.
"Oh! That's not blood, it's ketchup! Sorry." Dawn jumped out of her chair and grabbed a sponge from the sink. "I made a...a thing."
"A thing with ketchup," Tara added helpfully.
"And marshmallow fluff. And orange marmalade. It's all on top of a frozen waffle! It's got this whole sweet/savory thing going on..." She gestured toward said thing, which seemed to be oozing off her plate and creeping towards Spike under its own power.
Xander took the sponge from Dawn and wiped out the back of the microwave. "Yum."
"You want some?" She asked, sliding back into her seat.
"Uh, no." From his vantage point, Spike could see him grimace, but Xander managed to force a smile before he turned back to Dawn. "I'm sure it's great, but you're a growing girl. You should eat it. Maybe next time, add some protein. Or, you know, any kind of actual food."
Sure, it wasn't exactly a proper meal, but Spike was just glad she was finally eating something. The Bit had been getting bittier by the day.
"Have you checked the fridge lately?" Dawn poked the ketchup thing with her fork. "Pretty much all we have is condiments."
"Mother Hubbard's cupboards are pretty bare," Tara said quietly, catching Spike's eye. "And I don't get paid for another week."
He gave her a nod, and she looked down into her teacup. He wasn't completely useless, was he? And if he came over with pizza for dinner, nobody would have to know that he nicked it off some pimply-faced delivery boy a few blocks over.
Spike got up and dumped his half-finished mug out in the sink. "Dinner's on me tonight."
It had been a shite day. He'd lost big to some Bohg'dar demon that afternoon at kitten poker, then flashed a bit too much fang at the first pizza delivery boy he'd followed, who'd thrown the boxes at him and ran. Upside down pizza in the dirt, bloody fantastic. He'd had to go back to the pizza place and wait another half an hour before someone came out with an order large enough to feed the lot of them. Maybe he should have gone for Chinese.
Pizza safely stowed on the seat of his car, he drove the familiar route back to Buffy's house, wondering why the hell he was still doing this. William the fucking Bloody, and he'd been reduced to stealing pizza from teenage boys so a bunch of people he could hardly stand the sight of - excepting Dawn, of course - could have a decent meal. He should leave town. He should go to fucking Brazil. He didn't think Dru would be too hard to find, if he was looking. But who was he kidding? It wasn't Drusilla's face he saw in his dreams every night. Spike sat in front of the house for a moment, motor running, before he sighed and turned off the ignition, grabbing the pizzas off the front seat.
"Spike! You're home! I've missed you!" The Buffybot pounced before he'd even shut the door.
"And I thought this day couldn't get any worse."
"Did you have a hard day? Do you need to relax? Would you like a backrub?" She started to come at him, and he couldn't even defend himself because his hands were full of pizza.
His bellow brought Willow skittering in from the kitchen. "Sorry, sorry. I'm trying to fix it! There's this certain algorithm that's really tricky..."
"Don't wanna hear it. Just get it out of here."
"Okay, okay, time for bed, you," Willow said, ushering the Bot toward the stairs.
"Bed? Can Spike come with me?"
"NO!" Willow said, mouthing a 'sorry' to Spike over her shoulder.
Spike sighed heavily and set the pizza boxes down on the dining room table. Dawn sat there with her chin propped on her hand, pretending to read a book.
"What's with all the noise?" he asked, nodding his head toward the kitchen, where some rather heated discussion had been taking place when he'd walked in.
"Oh, the usual. Money, and the fact that we don't have any. Giles thinks we should sell the house and get an apartment, but Willow doesn't want to."
"And what do you want, Half-Pint?"
She looked up at him, surprised. "I...I guess I want to stay here. I mean, this is where Mom and Buffy lived, and..." Spike got it. He'd found her curled up asleep in her Mum's bed, or in Buffy's, more than once. "But I feel bad, because it's just stuff, you know? And it costs a lot of money to keep the house. Tara says we're going to have to choose between buying food and paying the mortgage, soon. I wish I could get a job."
"If you were old enough, I'd hire you," Anya said. She'd wandered in from the kitchen while they were talking, and was now lifting up the lids of the pizza boxes. "You'd have to be better than the Buffybot. Can you believe they want me to give her a raise? I mean, seriously, I can't even let her run the cash register. She keeps hitting the keys too hard and breaking it. If Giles would let me fire her, I would. Certainly, I have grounds. Eww, anchovies."
"Anchovies!" Dawn perked up and gave him a rare smile. "Thank you, Spike!"
"Welcome." He gave that box to Dawn and shoved a veggie supreme in Anya's direction.
The rest of them descended like a swarm of bloody locusts about then. He didn't even get a piece. "What, no pepperoni?" was the only comment directed Spike's way. But what did he expect? For them all to bow down in thanks? It was just a few pizzas. Wasn't like it made a difference.
"I'll give you five," the man said. He was tall and slender, with steel grey hair, a deep tan and a too-white smile that reminded Spike a bit of George Hamilton.
"Your suit cost more 'an that. And this beauty's worth twice that if she's worth a dime." Spike pretended to polish a non-existent spot on the DeSoto's hood. He'd washed and waxed, spit and polished, and vacuumed and shampooed, and now she gleamed in the moonlight like the grand old lady that she was.
"She's not exactly in mint condition," the man said, opening the back door. "There's a stain on the rug." Spike was immediately sent back in time. New Orleans. 1963. He and Dru had quite a night, he recalled fondly.
"And there's a dent on the fender," he said, walking around the front of the car.
California, 1980. Had to make a quick get away.
"This car has history," Spike said, running his hand lovingly over her fins. "A lifetime of experiences. Several lifetimes, matter of fact."
In the end, he got seven grand out of the bloke. Less than he wanted, but he'd agreed to pay in cash, and that was worth something, Spike not having a bank account and all. And there were those blood stains. He had to walk over to Buffy's house, jogging the last couple of miles as he was late to sit for Dawn. Willow scolded him when he got there, because apparently he was holding up one of their top-secret, all-important Scooby meetings that he was never allowed in on. Not that he cared, as boring as they were.
"Here," he said, counting out half the money into Tara's hand after Willow had gone outside. "That'll pay the mortgage for a couple of months, yeah? Buy some decent food?"
"Y...Yeah! Yes! Um, wow. Thank you." Tara gazed back down at the bills in her hand, lowering her voice. "But, where did you get this, Spike?"
"No worries. Sold my car. Should have more for you, soon." He was going to use the other half to play the ponies, but he wasn't telling them, that. He was good at playing the ponies - much better than poker. Dogs, too. Angelus used to get so pissed at him, as he was rubbish at it and he hated it whenever Spike was better than him at anything. Was always a grand time.
Tara stowed the cash in the desk drawer and hurried off after Red. He turned around to find Dawn staring at him sadly with her big, doe eyes.
"Spike. You love that car."
Spike took off his coat and threw it over the back of a chair. "Just stuff." He shrugged.
"Promised to take care of you, didn't I?" he said, perhaps a bit harsher than he meant to. He took a moment and softened his tone. "I promised Buffy I'd take care of you, and I mean to do so. And the car was just a car. Could never be as important as you." She beamed at him. "Now, what's the plan for tonight? Round of gin rummy, maybe?"
"I thought maybe we could watch a movie? There's a monster movie marathon on TNT."
"I'll handle the remote," he said, grabbing it out of her hand. "You make the popcorn. Deal?"
She gave him a quick hug before scampering off to the kitchen. "Deal."
Spike settled himself on the sofa and turned on the telly, propping his boots up on the coffee table. The DeSoto wasn't just a car, though. It represented madness and mayhem and freedom - everything he used to be and wasn't anymore. And now it was gone.
He could hear popcorn popping in the microwave, and Dawn humming to herself in the kitchen.
Funny, he thought he'd miss that car more than he did.