Author: kallie_kat (a.k.a. KallieRose, or just plain Kat)
Rating: R/FRAO, for some violence towards the end
Summary: Takes place in the summer between season 6 and 7, but goes AU from there. Willow is in England, recovering from the dark evil, and Spike is on his way back to Sunnydale. Only instead of getting a soul, he got what he *really* wanted (his chip out).
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters and claim no responsibility for anything other than this story, from which no profit is made.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Lisa, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle for the betas. But, of course, all mistakes are mine.
Willow stretched and yawned, letting her eyes wander around the room that she was trying hard to get used to. They had been here four full days now, but most of the time everything still felt unfamiliar.
Spike had done his best to create a confusing trail for anyone who might be following them. For almost a week they had driven from country to country, leading any potential pursuers on an insane wild goose chase. She caught roadside glimpses of Luxembourg, Dusseldorf, Geneva and Frankfurt, and stayed in a couple of really neat towns that she hoped someday to visit again. Preferably when she could actually venture outside the hotel room.
Eventually, they had ended up in a small house not far from Busca, Italy. From what she remembered of her admittedly limited Junior High Spanish, she thought Busca meant looking for. She figured it probably meant the same thing in Italian. It seemed rather cheeky to be hiding in a place named Busca when everyone was looking for her, but then again, it was a very ‘Spike’ thing to do.
The house they were staying in belonged to an old friend of his. It was cute, in a rundown sort of way; although the chains-and-handcuffs decorating motif in the basement left her more than a little uncomfortable. The rest of the place wasn’t bad, though. And the satellite TV was more than worth its weight in gold. Considering the weight of the TV, that was a lot of gold.
The walls of her room were painted a pale yellow; when the curtains were open and the early morning sun hit them just right, the room seemed to glow. The bookcase just below the window was short, but it was also almost empty, so that didn’t seem to matter. Giles had packed a couple of books for her, and they sat forlornly in that bookcase, as if they were squatters in an abandoned house.
An antique armoire made of oak was directly across from the foot of her bed, and even with the doors closed she knew that it was almost empty. Again, Giles had done his best, but most of her clothes had been left in England. She missed her green terrycloth robe, and her matching fuzzy slippers, but at least she was alive, she reminded herself. And if she didn’t remind herself, Spike would be more than happy to push that particular button for her. As he had commented on more than one occasion, he *liked* pushing her buttons. Willow, herself, was less keen on it.
They were weaning her off the drugs slowly, and her thoughts were finally becoming her own again, but she still didn’t know what to think of her unusual roommate. His moods fluctuated erratically, and his personality didn’t seem to be much improved by the vast amounts of alcohol he drank.
And speaking of drinking, she knew that his blood supply was getting low. He’d been rationing it out, trying to get by on less, but soon it would be gone. She tried not to think about what would happen after that, even though she knew that sticking her head in the sand was not a wise thing to do.
It was early evening, and she could hear Spike moving around in the living room. They were both living on what she thought of as ‘vampire time.’ Sleeping days, staying awake during the night. It was yet another part of her new life that was taking a little getting used to.
“You awake yet?”
The question was mostly a courtesy. Or at least as much of a courtesy as Spike would ever grant her. The sound of her heartbeat told him whether she was awake or asleep at all times, which stripped away her privacy in a way that really annoyed her.
“Yeah,” she muttered, getting out of bed and slipping into a pair of sweat pants and a top. She had three sets, in green, blue and red, and they were pretty much all she wore most days.
When she got to the living room, he was already halfway to the front door. And judging from the look he gave her, his mood was far from pleasant.
“I’m going into town. Back before sunup.”
‘Why yes, I’d love to take a trip into town. Thanks so much for offering,’ she thought bitterly. Although calling the place a town was really giving it more importance than it was worth. There was a post office, a small store, and, much to Spike’s delight, a bar. Unfortunately, there was no butcher. Or anyone who would sell blood to a vampire.
And the worst part was that she suspected he was going through Giles’ money like crazy. Most nights he’d come home pretty drunk, and judging from past experience, she knew it took an awful lot of liquor to get Spike drunk.
“Maybe you could stay in tonight? We could watch some TV? Maybe—I know, we could watch soccer!” She tried to inject some enthusiasm into her voice, but Spike wasn’t buying it. The look he gave her was one part annoyance, one part pity.
“It’s called football, not bloody soccer,” he muttered, hating all Americans in that moment, because they couldn’t give in when the rest of the world had it right and they didn’t. Take the metric system, for example. “I’ll be back before sunup,” he repeated, before walking out the door and leaving her alone.
God, he was hungry. The blood in their refrigerator was going bad—turning his insides to fire when he drank it—so he was trying not to drink it if he could help it. Which left him fucking hungry *all* the time. And bored. But hungry was the one that was really getting him down. And the thing that pissed him off the most, the thing that drove him to that crap-ass bar in ‘town’ every night, was that he could smell her blood and hear her heartbeat, and it was all there for the taking. So why the fuck didn’t he take it?
Giles would probably figure it out eventually, when the weeks ticked by and Willow never got in touch with him, but there was sod-all he’d be able to do about it by then. And it wasn’t like Spike was afraid of some bloody Watcher anyway. What would the man do, watch him to death?
Willow, herself, wasn’t doing much to keep him entertained. Most nights she meditated, or read, or watched TV. If she wasn’t going to offer up any of that succulent blood, the least she could do was give him a shag. But that seemed to be off the menu as well.
He’d made veiled references to fun things they could do: terrorizing the local populace, creating crop circles, things of that sort. But she had made it abundantly clear that in the war of good vs. evil, she came out staunchly on the side of good.
Which made her pretty much useless as far as he was concerned.
The man behind the bar gave him a friendly nod as he entered. Mario didn’t speak any English, but he spoke Jack Daniels just fine, and that was good enough for Spike. Mostly people kept to themselves here, but he no longer got the suspicious glances they used to give him. He was becoming a regular, for what it was worth.
Cradling the bottle in his hand, he made his way back to a small table in the corner. With a wink at Mario’s wife Gina, he hefted his bottle and took his first swig of the evening.
And so began another exciting night in Busca, Italy.
“Concentrate,” Willow told herself, as she centered her energy on the pencil on the table in front of her. Her eyes began to squint as her attention focused on her goal. “You can do this. You know you can. It’s just like riding a bicycle.” Self-confidence was a very important part of the re-learning process, and this time she was going to do it right. So, little pep talks were definitely a go.
The magic was coming back to her, albeit slowly. She could feel it thrumming through her veins, much in the same way that Spike could probably sense her blood as it rushed beneath her skin. But something that used to be so simple that it didn’t even require conscious thought now seemed almost impossible. Willow reminded herself that with practice, patience, and time, what had once been a natural part of her would be so again.
When the pencil floated off the table and hung in the air for fifteen seconds, Willow felt as if she had just teleported several hundred miles. Excitement, exhilaration, and a sense of accomplishment battled with weariness, and as she closed her eyes she gave thanks to the Goddess for allowing her the small bit of progress she had made tonight.
Spike was drunk. Wonderfully, gloriously drunk. And hungry. But it was easier to forget the hungry part when he was drunk.
And while he was in this state of perfect drunkenness, he made himself a decision.
He was going to eat the witch.
Oh, he wouldn’t kill her, or even take enough blood to harm her permanently, but he also wasn’t going to spend one more night starving to death when there was a bloody snack just feet from his fangs. So what if she was shy about sharing? That wasn’t his problem. Not anymore. After all, if it weren’t for her, he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
It was an epiphany of sorts, and with that decision made, a certain sort of lassitude came over him. Suddenly it felt like way too much effort to keep his head upright, so he slumped down and rested his head on the table for a moment, imagining how things would go when he informed Willow of his decision.
Maybe she’d be understanding. ‘Oh, Spike, I’m so sorry,’ she’d say, with that same guilty look on her face that she’d had after she’d made him snog the rancid Slayer. ‘I didn’t realize that things were so bad.’
Or maybe she’d fight him, and he’d get to chase her around for a bit before he caught her. That might be fun. Blood always tasted better when it was spiced with a little fear.
But the main thing was, in the end, he’d eat. Better than he’d eaten in at least a week.
That was the last conscious thought he had, until suddenly Mario was shaking him, and using a ‘shooing’ motion to inform him that he had to leave. The bar was empty, the chairs stacked upside-down on the tables, and he could hear the sound of dishes clanking together in the back room.
Time to go home.
Spike was still at that point of perfect intoxication where anything seemed possible. So he picked up his bottle, set more than enough money down on the table to cover his evening, and made his way out of the bar.
And promptly got lost.
It wasn’t as if he hadn’t traveled this road before. But for some reason, this time everything looked different. He was *pretty* sure that the house should have been right over there to the left, but when he got there, all he found was an old tree that was so crooked that it looked like it ought to have fallen over years ago.
He retraced his steps, swearing all the while, and becoming more and more aware of how morning was creeping up on him. But for some reason, he decided that a swig from his magic bottle every couple of feet would protect him from the sun. So as he stumbled in circles, he continued to drink. And morning got closer and closer with each swallow.
Willow knew exactly what time the sun came up each morning. She had taken to noting it when she watched the morning news reports, in the same way that someone who lived near the ocean kept track of high and low tides. And on this particular morning, the sun would rise at precisely 6:14 a.m.
It was now 5:59 a.m. And Spike was nowhere to be seen.
Willow was more than a little concerned. Downright panicked was actually much closer to the mark.
Spike had a flair for the dramatic; that much she would acknowledge readily. But he also had a very strong sense of self-preservation. Cutting things this close just didn’t feel right to her. What could have happened to him?
The silence in the small house was complete; no appliances whined, no TV chattered in the background. Only the sound of her own thoughts kept her company. And in this unnatural quiet she heard, as if from a great distance, the sound of cursing.
Relief flooded her body as she listened to the slurred, highly offensive words. Nobody could swear like Spike. And with his accent, even the most disgusting words sounded almost…exotic.
Or maybe that was just the huge rush of relief talking.
Opening the door, she leaned out and yelled for all she was worth. “Spike!”
His answering curse was distant, but clear. Subsequent curses became louder as he approached the house, stumbling and weaving, his progress halted every dozen steps or so as he up-ended his bottle, which was long empty, in search of another mouthful.
As the first light of morning made its way above the horizon, Willow grabbed Spike by his jacket and pulled him bodily into the house. She stumbled over the threshold and fell to the floor, the inert vampire landing heavily on top of her.
“Jeez, Spike. Get off of me so I can close the door,” she said. They were in no danger from the sunlight, thanks to the way the roof hung over the porch, but she would still feel better if the door was closed—and locked—behind her.
He rolled off of her, landing on his back with his hands thrown out to the sides, eyes closed, appearing to be fast asleep. Willow got to her feet, slammed the door shut, and then glared down at the vampire.
Anger burned inside her, building from a mild thing to an all-consuming rage as she stared down at him. “I can’t believe you,” she ranted. “You storm out of here, spend the entire night—somewhere, and then scare me half to death because apparently you can no longer tell time! You do still remember that sunlight will kill you, right?”
Spike opened an eye, peered up at her, and then closed it. “Lemme sleep.”
“Aargh!” Willow cried, stamping her foot on the ground for emphasis. “Why do you do it? I mean, what’s so great about getting so drunk that you can’t even find your way home?”
Silence greeted her question, although she hadn’t really expected an answer. Then, just as she was about to turn around and stomp out of the room, she heard him speak.
“Only way to stop the pain,” he muttered, eyes still closed.
The words were said quietly, and not terribly clearly. Willow wasn’t even sure if Spike knew he’d said them.
The idea that Spike might be in some sort of pain seemed unlikely. But it appealed to the nurturer in her, the part of her that wanted to help everyone, even him. So she set about trying to figure out why he might be hurting.
The moments ticked by as she waited for his reply; when he didn’t say anything for over thirty seconds, she wondered if he had been playing with her. Trying to engage her sympathy in order to cool her anger.
“Bad blood,” he muttered, rolling over onto his stomach and resting his head on his arms.
Bad blood. Willow wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly. Had he been snacking on someone, someone whose blood was bad? Or was it the blood in the refrigerator that was bad? Or was she taking his words far too literally? Was ‘bad blood’ a comment on the relationship between Spike and someone?
“Spike?” she asked, hoping for more clues. But he had gone silent again, and she suspected that he would not provide her with any answers for now.
She went to the tiny kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and took out the remaining thermos of blood. It felt weird to have it in her hands; thermoses were supposed to hold things like coffee or juice or…non-blood-type things. Knowing what was inside the thermos made her want to put it back in the refrigerator and wash her hands. Repeatedly.
It seemed silly to have such a negative reaction to the very essence that kept her alive. Maybe it was just that she was comfortable with having it inside her, but not so comfortable holding it in her hands.
She had a sudden flash of memory—Warren, right before she had killed him, bleeding. Then another vision—this one of Tara, staring at the blood on Willow’s sweater, the night that she died.
So much blood.
Shaking her head, she put those thoughts aside. Concentrate on the here and now. She could almost hear Giles saying those words to her, reminding her to focus on the future, on the things that she could still make right. The past was unchangeable, and trying to fix it now was like trying to fix a broken heart with crazy-glue.
Bad blood. She looked at the thermos again and twisted off the cap. The smell hit her immediately. It was…wrong. Rotten?
She had smelled Spike’s blood before. When he lived with Giles she had microwaved it for him and fed it to him, back in the days before they trusted him, and had kept him tied to a chair. It had smelled icky then, but this was so much worse.
Was that the problem? Was rotten blood causing Spike pain? Such a thing had never occurred to her, but it did make a certain amount of sense, she supposed. And it wasn’t like Spike could go down to the corner store and buy more.
She put the thermos back in the refrigerator and returned to the living room, uncertain what to do next.
Her gaze returned to his form, lying on the floor as if dead. Guilt began to build. This was her fault, after all. He was here because she needed rescuing, and for some strange reason he had decided to be her white knight.
Which meant that his current predicament was her responsibility.
There weren’t all that many options open to Spike right now. He could go out and hunt, like he would usually do under these circumstances, but if the Council knew that they were traveling together, they’d be on the lookout for any suspicious deaths or neck-related incidents. Even if he just snacked on people, or on the local livestock, word was bound to get out that there was something odd going on in Busca, and all it took was a whisper in the Council’s metaphorical ear, and they would be down here in force.
A raid on a hospital was likely to be slightly less suspicious, but also more difficult to pull off. She put that idea aside; it was strictly a last resort.
As far as she could see, there was only one other way for Spike to get the blood he needed. And that was for him to feed from her.
The thought of him biting her sent a chill through her body. She had been bitten once before, and the experience hadn’t been pleasant. Memories of Harmony’s teeth tearing into her flesh set off a dull ache in her neck, and her fingers reached for the scar that was still slightly visible after all these years.
Angel had once said that there were ways to make a bite pleasurable. At the time the very thought had been disturbing. But now, she had to wonder whether that was true. A part of her was already accepting the fact that she would be finding out for herself soon enough.
She watched Spike sleep, still sprawled out on the floor. Nothing about him in this moment screamed ‘evil’ or ‘vampire.’ He was just a guy, asleep. Probably dreaming. The instinct to take care of him kicked in again, and she grabbed one of the throw pillows from the couch and lifted his head just enough to slide the pillow underneath. He probably couldn’t get cold, but she threw a blanket on him as well, just in case.
Then she lay down on the couch and tried to think of a way out of her predicament. But instead of finding answers, all she found was sleep.
Spike awoke with one hell of a hangover. The kind of hangover that made a bloke reach for the nearest bottle in hopes of dulling the pain. But, sadly, the only bottle he could see was lying by the door, completely empty.
He tried to figure out what had happened to him. Last thing he remembered, he had been wandering in the dark, trying to find the damn house. Apparently he had managed to find the house okay, but not his bedroom. Or even the couch. Someone had thrown a blanket over him—Red, of course. And given him a pillow.
And there she was, sound asleep on the couch, as if she had dropped off while watching over him. She certainly did take her responsibilities seriously. Always had.
As he watched the steady rise and fall of her chest, he remembered the realization he had come to the previous evening. That she was filled with lovely, hot, tasty blood.
And he was starving.
Licking his lips, he got up and walked over to the couch. Her scent was so sweet and clean; he could almost taste her. And he was going to, soon.
She would probably squawk and complain about it for a couple of days, but he was reasonably sure he could charm her out of whatever kind of mood she decided to indulge in after the fact. After all, he was a very charming guy. Several people had told him so.
He went down to his knees, leaned over her, and carefully swept the hair back from her neck. He needn’t have bothered being careful; she was still out like a light. The sound of her heartbeat enchanted him, and he listened to it for a couple of minutes, letting it lull him into a state of perfect relaxation.
Harmony’s old bite mark was like a neon sign, telling him ‘insert fangs here.’ And who was he to refuse such an appealing offer?
He savored that perfect moment, when the pressure of his fangs against her neck was just enough to convince her skin to part and let him slide inside. His reward, a mouthful of pure, delicious blood, was enough to make him groan with satisfaction.
This was how it should feel to be a vampire.
Biting, feeding, dominating; that was the life he was supposed to have.
He could feel her blood as it zinged its way through his body, washing away the pain and discomfort, leaving him feeling new and—dare he say it—alive again.
He let his mind wander through daydreams of bloodbaths and mayhem, and almost didn’t notice when Willow started to stir. Her groan of pain was quickly followed by words, but he was no longer listening. Hands reached out to push him away, but they were ineffectual and pitifully weak.
Rising off of his knees, he moved himself onto the couch and straddled her body, sitting on her hips. His upper body was flush against her, his chest pressed into hers, and the soft stimuli of her breasts against him made him think of other things he might like to do to her. Her hands continued to flail wildly, as if somewhere in her optimistic little brain she thought that she could do him harm, so he grabbed them with his own hands and held them out of his way. He lost himself again in the taste of her blood, his fingers caressing her wrists lightly.
Fear and confusion were finding their way into her blood now. Her emotions were strong and feral, and they flooded her blood with their flavors.
One of his hands found its way into her hair, trailing through the locks in an effort to…what? Soothe? Control? He wasn’t sure, and didn’t think to examine his motives too closely.
With that innate knowledge possessed by his kind, he knew that he would have to stop soon. She would be weak for a few days, but there would be no permanent damage. Although he wasn’t sure if she would see things that way.
But if he kept going, if he fed for another minute or more, then he would surely kill her. While the idea did hold some appeal, he decided against it, for now. He was comfortably sated, still slightly drunk, and enjoying the feel of her warm body pressed against his. If he ended her life now, all of that would disappear.
So, with a sigh of regret, he pulled his fangs from her neck, his tongue stealing out to lave his mark, catching the last lingering traces of her blood.
He couldn’t wait to taste her again.
End of Crooked House