He watched her silhouette against the window shade. Even in low light and at a distance he could make out the curve of her breast as she lifted her arms to change her blouse. The pile of butts beneath the tree was growing--he'd been there three hours, waiting for her return. She'd been with the schoolboy again; he could smell him on the air as she made her way up the walk.
His frustration was like a corked volcano. How Harmony had laughed when, during their last encounter, he'd murmured the Slayer's name at a crucial moment. Since then he'd avoided Harmony, and even that release was lost to him.
If he'd known
to whom he might pray for deliverance, he would have pleaded for the release
of his demon, that he might battle the Slayer and kill or be killed.
But the bit of technology buried in his brain removed any hope of such
a simple catharsis. He closed his eyes and recalled his favorite
fantasy--the one where she chose him over the schoolboy, her little soldier-man,
guileless hunk of muscle and sincerity that regularly partook of the only thing he burned for these long nights. He'd lost his appetite and grown thinner--even the freshest butcher's blood had lost its savor.
It wasn't like him to miss her approach. Leaning against the tree, his eyes closed in reverie, he hadn't noticed the front door open. In the last second, when it was too late, he'd caught her scent. The Slayer greeted him with a sharp cuff to the jaw that sent his head back into the tree's trunk.
"What's up, Spike? Dawn says you've been out here for hours. Something I can do for you, besides end your miserable excuse for an un-life?"
He rubbed the back of his head ruefully. "Certainly can't say you haven't had your chance. When'll you finally get on with it, Slayer? Your threats are old and I'm beginnin' to think you've not got the wrinklies for the job."
The Slayer took two steps forward and in an instant had a handful of that very part of Spike. His eyes widened and he swallowed a groan, afraid it would sound more like pleasure than pain.
"My wrinklies are in fine working order tonight, Cadaver Boy. Now, let's start again. WHY have you been hanging around my house? And don't play games, I'm not in the mood." She punctuated this statement with a less than gentle squeeze.
Spike gasped and grimaced, fighting for control.
"Let go, Slayer. I won't say it again."
"Is that so? I rather think you're not in a position to be making threats." Her grip tightened once and then released, but she did not step away. At that moment, the clouds shifted, and a nearly-full moon revealed the expression on Spike's face. He struggled to hide the burning in him, the desperate ache that threatened to bring him to his knees.
The Slayer saw it there, only for an instant. She was confused and suddenly frightened. Something vibrated within her. She recognized it and it angered her.
She lifted her fist to strike again, but she was off balance. Spike ducked and pivoted, and the Slayer found herself flattened face-first against the tree.
Spike leaned forward, tentatively at first, then pressing himself full-length against her. She did not struggle, but was strangely still. The tension was exquisite in that moment. She felt the bark of the tree against her cheek, the solidity of its trunk against her body, and her mind went to ancient things that had always been and would always be.
He pressed closer and she awoke to other sensations. His lips, his teeth, so close to her skin, yet she felt no alarm. His arms about her, nearly protective in their grasp. And something elsea rising hardness against her lower back. She smiled shamelessly and arched herself against him. Her power over him at that moment was great, and she reveled in it.
Spike's body tensed in agony. The very real danger of his position was clear to him, and his instinct for survival begged him to flee. But other instincts were stronger, and when she moved against him, he could not control his response. A low growl rumbled in his chest.
He pressed ever closer, knowing that in a moment it would end. She would knock him back, throw him into the bushes, and--if he were very lucky--dust him dead.
"Bitch." His voice was hoarse with desperation. "Stake me. Finish it. I can't bear it any longer."
"Well, Spike, you never cease to amaze me." He loosened his grip and she turned to face him. There was a flush on her cheeks and triumph in her eyes.
Her words were taunting. His desire was clouded by anger and he grabbed her and forced her back against the tree. He dropped his lips to her ear and whispered.
"So sure of yourself, sweet Slayer. But why don't you kill me, then?"
Her breath was soft, but her answer stung. "I'm not into to slaying cripples."
He gasped and his fingers bit into her arms. The chip gave a warning spark, which he ignored. Still, she did not fight.
"A cripple, am I? Careful, pet. Provoke me one too may times and we'll see how crippled I am. I expect you'd be surprised."
The Slayer knew that it was time to end the dance. And yet she persisted, failing to recognize the peril in her tacticsand refusing to acknowledge the heat that she felt between them.
"Go ahead, Spike. Surprise me. I'm game."
His lips on her flesh were, at the same time, icy and melting, as they searched for and found the sensitive spot at the base of her throat. She felt his teeth graze her neck but registered no fear, realizing that her blood was not what he sought. He pressed her back against the tree, grinding himself into her with an intensity that stopped her breath, and when he touched her mouth with his, she knew she was lost. The very hard, very cold tip of his tongue made feather-like circles on her own, and she felt her entire body clench.
Finally, he pulled away, and the cool air on her face was a shock. He looked at her closely. His body was taut with the need to continue, but he had no desire to take her by forceeven if the chip in his head would allow it.
She dropped her eyes to hide, and he leaned in one final time.
"Oh, Slayer, what we couldn't do together. I've lived a long time and I know what makes a man a good lover."
"You're not a man--you're a monster."
He chuckled softly. "You have me there, pet. But I could make you cry for me like a child--and forget that smug schoolboy forever. I could make you lose yourself in pleasure--drown in it, 'til you didn't know your own name."
His words were taunting, but his tone was oddly tender. Still, she was humiliated by her own weakness, and rage coursed through her, obliterating desire. Her head made solid contact with his chest, and he went reeling, back into the bushes. She was on him in an instant, stake drawn, ready to end it.
Spike sprawled in the bushes as she straddled him. He lifted his head to meet her eyes, and in his face she saw his hunger, coupled with a longing for death. She could not do it, but neither could she admit to herself why she could not finish him.
"I could kill you now and no one would care, Spike. Not anyone, alive or dead, would mourn you. How does that feel, knowing that you are so utterly alone in the universe?"
"Yes, go on, be a bitch, make me feel bloody awful, but please do get on with it, won't you?"
"You'd like me to make it quick, Spike? Just when I'm enjoying your misery so much?" The Slayer leaned over him, grasping him tightly with her legs, noting with satisfaction that he remained hard within his jeans. He groaned in defeat.
"You want me to beg, is that it? Is that how you get your jollies, you silly bint? All right, so be it. Please kill me. Please."
The intensity of his plea stopped her cold. She leaned in closer, until she was nearly lying on top of him. Her breath came fast on his face, and he shuddered in an exquisite agony.
"No, Spike, I don't believe I'll kill you tonight." Her whisper was barely audible. "I like this new side of you I'm seeing, all vulnerable and humble. And I like to see you suffer." She leaned in and bit his lower lip hard, tasting it with the tip of her tongue. Spike jerked and bucked forward, throwing her off and jumping to his feet.
"I'm no cripple, Slayer. I don't need your pity. And someday very soon you'll know it. When I finally take you, you'll know very, very well."
"Oh, Spike, you're pathetic." But she couldn't meet his eyes as she tucked her stake away into her jacket and readjusted her clothes.
He straightened with wounded dignity. He had lost this round, as he had so many before, but he sensed a change between them.
She lifted her face into the dim light for one moment, and what he saw surprised him. There was no pity there, only confusion, and for a moment he felt sorry for disrupting her grip on reality. But he knew that this burning between them was not to be denied for much longer, and even as he turned to leave, her words echoed in his mind: "Go ahead, Spike. Surprise me. I'm game."
And indeed, the
battle was joined.
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