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ardent for some desperate glory

Chapter Text

Denver, Colorado
September 1914

“What do you mean, there isn’t another train for three hours? I’m not going to wait three hours for a bloody train!”
“I’m very sorry, sir,” the clerk said nervously, “but Sunnydale isn’t a very popular destination with most people.”
“Well, yeah,” Spike muttered under his breath, “but I’m not most people.” He allowed himself a small grin, and briefly entertained the thought of biting the clerk out of spite. But Anyanka was waiting behind him, tapping her foot, and Spike contented himself with snarling. “Very well then,” he said, “we’ll take two tickets for the twelve-bloody-thirty.”
“Yes, sir.”
Spike took the tickets and turned back to his companion. “I can’t believe this,” he said, following her over to the benches. “I’m not made to stew and wait! Bad enough that I’ve been sitting inside trains all week. Now, for an extra-enjoyable change of pace, I get to sit outside a train. So very fucking thrilling.”
“It’s not that bad,” Anyanka said evenly. “At least there’s a chance to eat something. I’m starving.”
“Yeah, me too,” Spike admitted. “Truth be told, that clod of a clerk looked rather tasty.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” Anyanka chided him. “You can do much better than some mousy, rail-thin pencil-pusher. What about her?” She gestured to a buxom, ruddy middle-aged woman.
Spike made a face. “I appreciate the thought, but she’s too old for me. I hate drinking from wrinkly necks. The skin folds get all stuck in your fangs and it takes hours to get it all out with a toothpick later.”
“That was more information than I needed to know.”
“I’m going to go get some less disturbing food. I’ll meet you back here in time for the train.”
“Fine by me.”
Spike looked around the station again, trying to spot someone appealing. He wasn’t particularly inclined towards any sort of artistry today--not like Angelus would have been--so he ruled out anyone who looked like they might put up a decent fight. “Just a quick snack, then,” he whispered to himself, “something to tide me over till the Hellmouth.”
He flicked his eyes over a mother with her young child (call him soft-hearted, but he couldn’t separate that, bitter though he might be about that particular filial bond), a bearded man in working clothes (he probably smelled of sweat, and anyway could very possibly be strong enough to cause Spike a bit of trouble), and several more nondescript travellers before lighting upon the perfect target. A young man, smiling with all the brash confidence of youth, was walking arm in arm with a blushing girl of eighteen or twenty. They were clearly sweethearts: whispering in each other’s ears, looking in each other’s eyes, smiling in lovestruck symbiosis.
Spike hated it. Fucking hell, why should they get happiness, why should these petty little beings be so joyfully in love when he was in such pain? Their every move was salt in his freshly wounded heart. It wasn’t like he had forgotten Drusilla, but with the goal of the Hellmouth he at least had found something to distract him, to occupy his thoughts. Seeing these two forced him to remember the ugly scene in New York, dragged his grief to the front of his mind.
So it was settled, then; he would kill them. Or… He pondered his options for a moment before striking. Kill the girl, but let the boy live? Or the other way around? Or ought he to sire one of them? (He couldn’t do them both, obviously. Then they’d only earn eternal happiness, which was the exact opposite of what he was aiming for.) But, as a matter of fact, who even cared? He’d decide what to do in the heat of the moment. Fuck careful planning. This was how he worked best: improvisation.
He sidled over to the couple, barely managing to keep the anticipatory glee off his face. “Erm, hello?” he asked, in his poshest accent. “I’m dreadfully lost, and I was wondering if you could just point me in the right direction. I’m looking for…” He scanned the station for a sign. “Charles Street.”
“Oh yes, of course,” the young man said. “It’s right this way. Here, I’ll show you.”
Spike followed them out of the main vestibule and into a darkened hallway.
“We’re almost there,” the girl said, after they had walked a few paces.
“Oh, it’s quite all right,” Spike purred. “I think you’ve taken me far enough.” As the couple turned around, he smiled widely, revealing his true face, and grabbed hold of the girl in order to take a bite. He’d kill her first and then decide what to do with the boy. It wasn’t like he was in any particular hurry--but just as he swept the hair off the tender neck and prepared to feed, he was hit on his side by some enormous force and thrown harshly to the ground.
“What the bloody hell?..” he murmured, and, pulling himself quickly onto his feet again, looked into the eyes of the bearded laborer from the vestibule.
Spike snarled and turned to attack the newcomer, but was jolted back into a cower at the cross he was brandishing.
“Back off, vampire,” Whiskers (it had become a habit of Spike’s, in the face of a threat, to assign it some properly unintimidating name) said in a growl almost as venom-filled as Spike’s own. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
“Well,” drawled Spike in as calm a tone as he could manage, keeping one eye on the cross and another on Whiskers’ pocket, from which a suspiciously stake-shaped bulge was protruding, “certainly not anyone of breeding. If you’d had a proper education, you’d know both that it’s dreadfully impolite to point one of those”--he indicated the cross--”at one of me, and that the correct pronoun in that sentence would have been ‘whom.’”
“Wonderful,” Whiskers said, shaking the cross haphazardly. “A Limey bloodsucker.”
“I prefer ‘creature of the night,’ myself,” Spike replied, edging carefully along the wall. “And don’t hold my motherland against me.”
“Listen, scum, you came to the wrong town. I’ve made huntin’ your kind my life’s work, and damned if I’ll let you go around terrorizin’ good people.”
“Oh, really?” Spike asked skeptically. “Your life’s work? Because I’ve dealt with some top-notch demon-slayers in my time--even a Slayer, capital-S--and not one of them held a cross at an angle that made it so easy for me to do--” He moved quickly, whipping a knee up towards Whiskers’ groin, then snapping his other leg up and around in a kick that knocked the cross to the far side of the hallway--”that.”
Whiskers was doubled over, clutching his middle, and Spike marched over and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. “Now listen,” he spat, “you happen to be in luck, because I don’t happen to like hair in my food. And don’t go telling me I picked the wrong town, because I didn’t pick this bloody town. I’m only passing through, all right? And you can forget about following me, because next time I see you, I might just be hungry enough to forego the niceties of my palate. Or maybe I’ll give you a little pre-dinner shave. So don’t you go forgetting who I am, all right? I’m William the Fucking Bloody, and if you think you’ve got the balls to tangle with me, I suggest doing a little research before you come knocking. Now get out of here and leave me to my meal in peace!” He released Whiskers with a contemptuous shove, turning his back on the skittering of his nails on the floor as he dragged himself up and ran away.
The boy and girl were still huddled in a corner of the hallway, staring up at him with pure fright in their eyes. Spike grinned.
“Now that’s what I like to see,” he said cheerfully. “That’s the proper spirit of respect. Bloody Americans. You haven’t got any idea of class.”
He bent over and bodily hauled them to their feet, one in each hand. “Oh, and you’re incredibly fucking stupid, you know that? You had all that time to run, or have one last grand shag. And what did you do? Sat and watched like you were at the bloody theater. Oh well, Darwin and all that, you’re just too stupid to live.”
It was a deeply satisfying meal.