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Courtesy Call

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"What the bloody hell are you doing here?"

Spike waved aside the clouds of grey, choking smoke, wreathing the figure on the other side of his rickety junk store coffee table.

Dracula stopped brushing dust off his velvet collar and tossed his long black hair off his shoulders, raising Spike's hackles even further.

"And a good evening to you too, William."

Spike fished a cigarette out of the pack on the table and lit up. Ignore the poncy git's melodramatics. That'll teach him.

"Wasn't bad - till you turned up."

Of course, that wasn't quite true. Captain Whitebread had given him a bit of a fright earlier. Spike's cigarette hand was still shaky.

"Is that any way to greet an old acquaintance?" Dracula protested, with an irritating hand-flourish.

Lace cuffs, Spike noted, sourly.

"Depends on the acquaintance," he snarled, around his cigarette.

Dracula's slow, dark-eyed blink reminded Spike to avoid looking into his eyes at all costs. For a cheap gypsy trick, that thrall thing was very effective.

"Sad to find you in such surroundings, young William." Dracula gazed around the crypt. "Where is the fair Drusilla? Surely you don't expect her to live in this mouldering tomb? To what depths have the Aurelians fallen?"

Spike smoked furiously. Don't look at him! Don't look at him!

"Don't know where Dru is. Don't care either. Hope she rots in hell."

"No!" Dracula sounded aghast, and when Spike risked a peek at him, his pale face registered genuine shock. "I'm sorry to hear that, William. Truly. Yours was a beautiful love."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Yeah? That why the last time we met, you put the whammy on her? Took me weeks to calm her down. She was all "Vlad this, " "Vlad that," until I was ready to bloody stake her myself."

Dracula smiled indulgently. "Drusilla was an apt pupil. One of my best. Had she not been spoken for, I would have made her my bride for certain."

"Oh, for..." Spike was half on his feet, fists clenched, before he remembered how pointless it was trying to engage the bastard in a decent bout of fisticuffs. Dracula didn't fight fair.

Well, Spike didn't either. But that wasn't the point.

Dracula had his back to Spike now. He was making a slow tour of inspection of the crypt, aristocratic nose wrinkled in distaste as he examined the dusty surfaces of broken sarcophagi and peered into spider infested corners.

Spike caught himself thinking that he must make an effort to tidy the place up and frowned in annoyance.

"When you're quite finished," he said, loudly, "I'll have my eleven quid back, thanks. Then you can piss off home to Transylvania."

Dracula looked back at Spike over his shoulder, expression mournful.

"Alas, I cannot go home. My heart yearns for the Carpathian mountains - for moonlit nights running with my beloved wolves - but my homeland is barred to me forever."

"Yeah?" Spike smirked at him. "Not that I care or anything, but how come?"

Dracula's mouth turned down at the corners. "They disinvited me - from the whole country. Said I was bad for business. My home - my beloved Castle Dracula - has become a...a theme park." He put a hand over his face, looking pained.

"Oh dear. How sad," Spike lied. Then his eyes narrowed. "Well, you can't stay here. This is my town."

Dracula's hand dropped back to his side. "Because of the Slayer? I well remember your obsession with her."

Spike blinked, feeling caught out for some reason. "Bollocks. S' nothing to do with the sodding Slayer. I could never be obsessed with someone called Buffy." He floundered. "I mean, have you seen her? She's a midget. And her hair. Not even a natural blonde."

"I was speaking in more general terms." Dracula's mouth quirked in amusement. "You have, after all, killed two Slayers in your time. But in answer to your question, yes, I have seen Buffy Summers. A magnificent creature indeed." His dark eyes glowed. "I understand now why you cast Drusilla aside."

Spike's jaw dropped. "I did no such thing. She left me, the bitch. Blamed it on the Slayer. Was all nonsense, of course. An excuse so she didn't have to feel guilty for foolin' around behind my back."

"Of course it was," Dracula agreed, in a knowing tone, which Spike didn't like one bit. "And you stay here because the population is so docile and easily culled, and the Slayer no threat to you at all."

"No, I don't..." Spike began indignantly, but caught himself just in time. No way in hell was he telling Dracula about the chip. Instead, he smirked. "Yeah, that's right. Got the silly bint eatin' out of my hand."

Dracula smirked back. "I don't doubt you, William."

Abruptly, he gathered his cloak around himself. "Well, I must be going."

"Must you?" Oh, thank fuck! "What a pity," Spike said, with the same insincerity as before.

"Yes, indeed," Dracula sighed. "While it's true that I can never return to my beloved Transylvania, fortunately, I have other options."

"Yeah?" Spike lit another cigarette. "What're those, then?"

Dracula flung his arms wide, sending his cape whirling. "Hollywood awaits," he declaimed. "My agent has negotiated me a starring role in a film of my life. Also, a six figure deal to write my autobiography."

Spike's jaw dropped. "You jammy bastard."

Dracula smirked again.

"Don't worry, William. Your secret is safe with me."

"What secret?" Too late, Spike realised he'd forgotten his own warnings, and was gazing deep into Dracula's liquid eyes. What's more, he couldn't look away. Bugger.

"You love the Slayer," Dracula hissed. "Soon, you will realise this for yourself. I pity you. In the meantime, continue in blessed ignorance a little longer."

His eyes glowed again. "Farewell. Not that you will." Smoke billowed, and Dracula was gone.

Spike blinked his eyes clear. He'd been talking to...someone about...something, hadn't he?

Bloody hell! Not again.

"Hey!" he shouted. "What about my money?"