...God, I need a drink.
A long one.
One good, long, /drink.../
...Nibblet'd kill me if she found out.
Yeah. Way to go.
Get killed by /two/ Summerses...
'Course, she's not gonna. Not /really/.
She ain't the Slayer.
An' if there's /any/ sodding justice in the universe, she never will be, either.
I told Blondie, didn't I? I /told/ her Slayers have a deathwish...
No /way/ is that happenin' to the Nibblet. No. Sodding. Way.
If it /does/, I'm gonna find those bloody Powers That Be, an' I'm gonna tear 'em a new one.
Right where it hurts.
One Hell of a way to go, hey?
Damn. New ciggy time.
...Yeah, so where was I?
The Nibblet, yeah.
...Heh. A vampire watching the vampire Slayer's little sis.
How's that for dramatic irony?
And I promised her. I /promised/ the Slayer.
Shouldn't mean anythin', should it?
No, not for ol' William the Bloody.
Not for a /vampire/.
But it /does/.
I gave her my *word*.
And it's all I have /left/.
All I had when I was human. When I was William.
Now, they're all /I/ have. Now I'm /Spike/.
Can't even bloody /fight/...
I lost. I /lost/.
I. Lost. /Her/.
Two of them.
I lost two of them.
The only damn people who /didn't/ treat me like... like a neutered freak, like a bastard monster.
And I /lost/ them.
Not this one. Not Dawn.
No one touches her.
No way in freaking hell.
Humans, demons, gods...
If anyone, /anyone/, out there, thinks they're the new Big Bad, thinks they can lay their hands on the Key...
...Let's just say I've got a /lot/ of catching up to do.
/'Specially/ since that chip don't work. Not Outside.
Don' ask me why.
Mos' /other/ changes - vamping, wolfing, witching - they stay, Outside.
Not the chip.
And that means if a human tries to hurt her...
One other change that don' stay, though...
We come back.
Dust us, stake us, take us for the long sunbath...
We come back.
So... why not...
'Cause she'll come back.
We know that. We know she'll come back.
And she /trusted/ me to look after the Nibblet.
What am I gonna say when she comes back, if I don't?
"Sorry, luv. Knew you'd be coming back, thought "hey, she can handle Dawnie", and buggered off to get a poolside seat for the Apocalypse".
Or how about "Whoops, sorry 'bout that. Bad Boy must've slipped in just past me. Nice to see you're together again"?
I am /not/ gonna fail her. Not now.
Who else has the Nibblet got?
Not the Ripper. No matter how hard he tried, he'd /still/ bloody kill her, if he thought it'd save the world.
Red? Red'd /freak/ if anything happened. Like what happened to Tara - full-bore, flat-out /freak/. She'd kill herself trying to save her.
Harris? Listen, do you want a vengeance demon on /your/ tail? If something happens to /him/...
That's why it's gotta be me.
William the Bloody Expendable.
And I'm the only one who can fight worth a damn.
Not William. Spike.
And who've /I/ got?
No-one. Just the other trash at the support group.
Yeah, like they'd blink an eyelid if I died tomorrow.
Which's why I'm here.
Words are all I have... and I need that blasted Lennon wannabe to do this.
Oh yeah, I'm a poet.
But I need a /musician/.
And Fitz bloody Kreiner's the only one who's gonna talk.
Oz? Fat freaking chance.
I want Kreiner.
For that... *and* to tell the rest of the rejects at the support group.
I _told_ Buffy.
She knows - knew. She /didn't/ hate me.
I'm looking after her freakin' sister cause she _asked_ me to! You call that hate?!
So it's "Hop in the car, platelet, we're gonna see a friend", and we're off to the island.
Hell, the kid needs it.
/Yeah/, she needs some time around the Scoobs, but...
...God, she needs time away.
/I/ need time away.
Just a day. Just one freakin' day, that's all I want.
With her sister.
Okay. So tall, thin and stuffy knows we went - and where we went - and he's gonna /keep/ Thelma and Shaggy outta it.
It's cloudy 'round the island - weather forecast. /Always/ keep your eye on the weather.
And Kreiner's here.
Out-Of-Character? I'm allowed to be.
It's called /grief/. Learn to live with it.
Keep an eye open. Always keep an eye.
Well, it /had/ to be.
Just 'cause I watch the Weather Channel an' trashy Yank soap, it doesn't mean I throw my brains outta the window.
O' course, no need to let /him/ know I'm coming...
Surprise is the best form of attack.
An' so here we are, standing outside the hotel.
'I do /not/ brood. The Poof broods. I... stalk.'
'Uh-huh,' the Nibblet says. 'In full view on a porch. Yeah. Real great stalking you got going there...'
'Never pass up a chance, that's my motto.'
'I thought your motto was "We're all buggered"?'
'A bloke's allowed to have more than one, ain't he? 'Sides, I got 130 years on you. That gives me more time to make 'em up.'
'And make up a lotta other things, too...' the Nibblet says.
Nearly choke on the ciggy.
The kidlet's /good/ at this.
Mus' be that "younger sister" crap.
'7:30. They're all gonna be asleep.' she says.
'When's /that/ ever stopped us?'
She smiles. 'Precisely never.'
'You're gettin' the hang of this...'
Keep the ciggy in as we go in.
Thing with Thank You For Not Smoking signs... how'd they know?
No-one up, which is fine with me.
And the Nibblet, natch, wants a sneak inside.
'Now, now... not nice, is it? Sneaking 'round, pokin' in other people's things.'
'I was /not/. Just wanted a look inside, that's all.' /Still/ stickin' her nose into things. Guess that's one thing that's never gonna change.
Not this time, tho'.
'Cause I've got somethin' better in mind.
Nice big bag o' stuff today, huh?
Well, we'll see about that.
Lift it up, sling it over my shoulder.
Real Vampire Santa, that's me.
And the Nibblet's getting the idea now, here we go...
'HEY! SLEEPYHEADS!! MAILCALL!!'
Houston to Spike, we have broken the sound barrier.
Spike to Houston - yeah you, you bunch of deaf wankers - I /had/ noticed...
Oh dear God, Suzi Quatro lives.
Not human, that's an easy one. Or demon. Run with "alien from planet of the 80s throwbacks"... not sure what that smell is, ain't blood, whatever it is...
'You asked for it,'
And I chuck the bag - the whole bag - at her.
She catches it. No fumbling.
Strong. Tough to take down, 'specially with that vanishing act.
Haven't seen anything like /that/ since the last time Niblet went for the chocolate.
And Miss 80s Throwback hasn't even /blinked/ at the sight of the Big Blond Bad, duster an' all, at 7 in the mornin'.
Definitely Outside - like I needed any proof.
The Nibblet's blinking in shock.
'80s weren't /all/ leather pants an' black fingernails, y'know...'
The Nibblet gives me one of her /looks/. 'Please. Mom /did/ show me her photo albums, you know... Hi, Ryoko.'
'Mmmph.' Eighties throwback for 'Yeah, pleased ta meetcha.'
Miss so far...
...but not here.
Kid the Nibblet's age - /physically/, 'kay? - black hair, dressing gown, looking like she'd /just/ dozed off 'fore *someone* woke her up.
And then the Spikey-Sense whacks me upside the head.
Not a skanky, bitch-goddess of bad perms and Slayer killing, not a Hellgod.
This is the real deal.
'Spike?! Spike, say something! Are you okay?'
Yeah, Nibblet, just got a full force blast upside the head by a God...
An' the Nibblet's /wailing/-
-an' I said /I'd/ protect her-
-and she's hurt-
-and I will not lose-
'Hey, are you all right?'
Don't. Look. At. Me.
An' I'm clawing, fightin'... 'cause that's what I /do/...
'Christ. Christ. Christ on a /stick/.'
An' she's helpless, and alone, and there's someone I said I'd /save/...
'Allergies. P-plays hell w-with the sinuses.'
And she /knows/ what that means - hell, she's been around Blondie and bookboy long enough to know what that means, what we're allergic to - and she gasps.
'Oh God Spike I didn't think I should have told you, should have realised sorry sorry...'
'...What've I told you? /Never/. Apologise.'
She cuts herself off, mid-word.
And don't look, don't look, don't look-
'Cause you know what's standing in front of you, you know what this is, and Spike is /not/ going down...
And it - she's - standing there, open-mouthed.
'D-did I... H-How... Not good luck charms?...'
'Holy. Symbol. Holy bloody symbol...' Muttering, most definitely /not/ style, but /someone's/ gonna pay for that, 'cause I have had *enough* of being the Powers' punching bag...
Jam another cig in mouth. Nicotine badly needed.
'I don't see a warning from you on the pack, sister.'
'Like you /need/ one?' this kid says.
' 'Course not. So I know you, and you know me, la-di-dah, so what's it gonna be?'
'Actually...' she begins. 'Actually... what are you? You don't have an emblem - I didn't think /demons/ got their licences revoked...'
What the freakin' hell's she talkin' about?
What is it with me an' the PTB? Not only am I their punchin' bag, I also get to meet the most /clueless/, *braindead* of 'em you'll ever find.
The Universe is in the /shit/.
'I'm a /vamp/, Clueless Wonder. A _vampire_. Me, creature of the night, blood-drinking, allergic to sunlight, holy symbols - filling in the blanks enough, or should I wait for you to catch up?'
'I /am/ a demon. In a mortal body. Comprende? Ex-owner - vanished, poof. *I'm* in charge 'round here.'
She blinks. 'Really? I thought you needed a contract.... Hmm. So what type of demon are you? Class? Licence? How much of the old person's still in there? What abilities do you have access to? What abilities /will/ you have access to? Is it just human blood, or will animal blood do too? What other vulnerabilities do you have?'
This is beginnin' to sound entirely too much like those James Bond wannabes down the Initiative...
'Back off, okay? Just... Just keep back. He's trying to help me.'
Way to go, Nibblet.
'/Yeah./' I tell Clueless. 'Set in stone, law laid down, we have a /contract/. And *that* means I'm gonna protect her 'till the end of the world...'
She twitches. 'We have /really/ got to do something about those time clauses...'
And just when things can't get any better...
'Can I help?'
No. If you wanna help, go slaughter Jerry Springer or somethin'.
'Oh, hi, Sam.'
Blonde bint, short blonde hair. Looks to be...
Just 'cause we come /back/, it don't mean we don't feel the pain.
We feel it again and again and again.
We /die/ again, and again, and again.
An' we cry, cause we know it's gonna happen again, that we'll go through it, feel the loss, the pain...
..an' for those of us left behind...
...the grief wears out, an' that's the worst of all.
The absolute worst.
To not even /care/ when someone - /anyone/ - dies.
Hold it together, my son. Hold it together.
Not here, not now.
And I am going to hurt someone.
There are /worse/ things than death...
...an' I invented some of them.
'...getting... No, things still suck.'
'They usually do...' Sam agrees. 'Are you here to see Fitz?' She grins wickedly. 'I think he's still in bed... I could wake him up for you...'
The Nibblet shakes her head. '/Spike's/ here to see him. I'm jus' along for the ride...'
Sam raises an eyebrow. 'Support group lose the hut again?'
'What support group?' Clueless wants to know.
'One of those things. "I'm in love with someone who hates me" - and believe me, the number of relationships Fitz's been in, it was bound to happen...' Sam frowns. 'I used to be a member, too...'
...the Nibblet doesn't blink an eyelid.
But hell, she knew that anyway.
What's weird is /Clueless/ doesn't blink an eyelid.
Vamps - demons - don't fall in love. Aren't supposed to fall in love.
Not round my way...
Bookboy'd be freakin' 'bout now.
Clueless? Not a thing.
Hmm. May upgrade on the Clue thing...
...I /know/ that sound.
I /know/ it.
...'kay, adjust for sense of reality.
Girl - I /know/ whereof I speak on these things - with whacking great spatula strapped across her back, staring at letter.
While we were talking.
'Ranma,' Sam murmurs. 'That... or something she hasn't mentioned...'
'ranma and akane getting married
'they're getting married
'why did he tell me?'
Clueless blinks. 'They're /what?!/'
'he told me. i didn't tell him'
'Ukyou...?' Sam's waving her hand in front of spatula girl's face. Isn't working.
'getting... i thought it was going to stop i thought the pain was going to stop but i lost him i know i lost him...'
'Bollocks. You love him. Big whoop. We knew. He loves /this/ girl more than he loves you. Also big whoop. He made his bloody choice. He's told you. So what you gonna do about it?'
'He's told you. Didn't have to, could be happily eloping far, far away from /your/ angstfest, but *no*, he has to go and tell you. So what are you gonna do? Wail in the corner? "oh no, i lost him" So? No apologies. No sodding apologies. /He/ got on with it. And you're just gonna sit there, wailing your heart out. Call me when you change the record. Ponce's just the same. "Waaaah, she's making a new life without me". Yeah. It's called "getting a life". An' from the looks of things, /you've/ got /less/ of one than /nancy-boy/. And he's *dead*.'
Only vampire speed stops me getting decapitated by a spatula.
And it's then I realise which ponce was talking.
/Me/. /This/ ponce.
'Nice try, luv. Ain't gonna work.'
'No-one - no-one - makes fun of my grief!'
Clueless winces. 'Channel Ryouga much?'
Dodge. Duck. Grab.
'Listen. I'm only gonna say this once, then I'm gonna tear the spatula outta your hands, an' I'm gonna punt you so far you won't be able to see Mars. You fought for him. You fought with him. He didn't love you back, and he moved on. *So what you gonna do now?!*'
'I...' She falters. 'I...'
'You made him a promise. You gonna keep that promise, or not?'
'Sorry, did a bat just fly through here? I can't hear you...'
'Can't hear you...'
'YES, YOU BAKA!! YES, I'M GOING TO KEEP THAT PROMISE! I'M GOING TO TAKE CARE OF HIM, EVEN IF HE /DOES/ LOVE THAT UNCUTE TOMBOY MORE!!'
'And how you gonna do that?'
'I'M GOING TO HIS WEDDING, AND I AM GOING TO TELL HIM RIGHT IN HIS ARROGANT, RUDE, THOUGHTLESS FACE!!'
'Good.' I grin. 'Mind if I come and watch?'
'No.' She's breathing heavily now. 'No, I don't mind. In fact... in fact, I don't mind if /everyone/ comes. I am going to tell him I'll take care of him, and I don't care who listens.
'And I invite all of you.'
80s Throwback turns her head. 'Wedding? Did someone say wedding?
'HEY GUYS, WE'RE GOING TO A WEDDING! WANNA COME?'
An' suddenly, reception turns into rush hour down Oxford Street, as shitloads of people pop up outta nowhere.
Where the hell were you lot during all the shouting?!
Geez. Fight, an' no-one wants to know.
Mention the word "wedding", and the world an' it's sister wanna come.
'WAAAAHHHH!!! I love weddings!!!'
'Ryoko... /what/ are you planning now?'
'Tenchi... you haven't made the decision yet, have you?'
'Wedding? One Goddess of Love there already.'
'Oooh, human exchanging of vows. Fun.'
'We're going to a wedding?'
'I _think_ we are...'
'I come! To make sure that Saotome sets his feet upon the path of righteousness, yea, I come. And the pig-tailed girl shall be mine!'
'...All'ays nice to hear 'bout a pupil gettin' on in the world...'
'...Just stop smiling. Please?'
'Oh Darling... so romantic, t'cha?'
'Babes, babes, babes in bridesmaid dresses...'
'Be nice to go to /one/ wedding that went according to plan...'
'Wedding? Did I miss the proposal?'
'...wha's goin' on? Some of us are trying to sleep...'
The crowd suddenly turns and stares at _me_.
This is /exactly/ the kind of attention I can do without.
'You arrogant, moronic, small-minded, foul-mouthed, blinkered idiot. *You!*'
Spatula girl's pointing the finger at me.
I give her the eyebrow.
'I'm /bad/, whaddya expect?'
'You are coming. You will see this. Understand?'
I've faced three Slayers in my time. Killed 'em all, eventually.
This girl's generating enough power to put her right up there with them.
'How can I say no to a lady's request...?'
Give her the ol' Spike sneer.
'We are...?' the Nibblet says.
Bookboy's gonna kill me. If Red doesn't first.
Going to a /wedding?/
She gives me that look.
Like her sister.
An' I open my mouth, wanna say 'no', 'cause it's not right, not now, not here...
...Spike, big wuss.
'I want you to go on, and live for me...'
An' I can't read the Nibblet's face, don' know what she wants me to do, what she'd ask, whether I'm protecting her, or hurtin' her...
I open my mouth-
'We're going. Please?'
Not her sister's face...
'I... I /need/ some time... please, Spike? Buffy would want us to go...'
Well, she would if she weren't /dead/, I start to say...
...and she's wrapping me around her little finger. And all I have to do is say, look, we don' know what she'd want, not now...
...and we'll go back.
To moping, misery and angst. To gettin' on with our lives, rather than celebratin' hers...
...what was that word of the Poof's? A wake.
Celebrating their life, rather than wailin' 'bout their death.
Letting them - letting you - know just how much they changed your life.
How much they /meant/, by /celebrating/ it.
An' I begin to get a clue what the Nibblet's sayin', what she's asking me...
I turn to spatula girl.
We shake hands on it.
Of course, I usually spit on my deals...
'Wait... all of us?'
'We have TARDIS.'
'/NO./ No Hibiki.'
'We still have TARDIS...'
'We band of buggered...'
/Shit./ Forgot to catch Kreiner.
No prob. I'll crash breakfast.
Should be fun.
'Cause as per usual, Spikey, you've gone an' got yourself in over your head, an' the Scoobies are gonna /have/ that handsome head on a pike.
But who gives a shit?
As they bugger off to breakfast, in their weird little groups... as they leave, /then/ I realise...
Time Lord. Time Lords ordered to slay vampires.
Even Outside, we still set them off.
Only vampire around...
I very, very, carefully turn around.
'If you are coming - and general horrified fascinated acclaim is that you are - you know what that will mean.'
Oh yeah. I know. I know all right.
Kill one person, make one wrong move...
...and he's gonna strike.
An' /he/ knows there're worse things than death.
I flick the cigarette at his feet.
'Wouldn't miss it for the world, Doc...
'Not for the end of the world...'
'What, it situated over a Hellmouth or something?'
'Something...' *he* says.
Then he buggers off - probably wants to starch his shirts a bit more...
The Nibblet blinks. 'Spike... if you /don't/ know where we're going, how'd you know what to say to Ukyou?'
I give her a wink.
'Always had a way with words, kidlet. Always have...'
Her face twitches.
Then she starts smiling.
I give her a grin back.
Hell, I know what /I'm/ doing, why, and who for.
An' Harris, Bookboy, Red, the Powers... they can go to hell.
'Cause between Dawn, and the end of the world?
I'll take Dawn, any day.
...I gave her my word.
A Spike-English lexicon:
Nibblet, kidlet, platelet, the Key - Dawn Summers. Ponce, Poof, nancy-boy - Angel, Spike's grand-sire. Blondie, the Slayer - Buffy Summers, Dawn's big sister. Clueless - Skuld. Miss 80s Throwback - Ryoko. Spatula girl - Ukyou. Red, Thelma - Willow, Buffy's best friend and witch. Harris, Shaggy - Xander, Buffy's other friend and Zeppo. Ripper, bookboy - Rupert Giles, Buffy's Watcher. Outside - Outside continuity.
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat.