TITLE: Please the Lions
RATING: R, for adult content
DISCLAIMER: *So* not mine. All Joss'. Except for the characters I've thrown into the 'verse.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to sadbhyl for the beta!
SUMMARY: Sometimes you have to go backward in order to go forward.
DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Spike showed up at the cemetery when he thought Buffy was dead, and ended up giving her a lift out of Los Angeles…
The place reeked of sex. It wasn’t just the airbrushed movie posters of mostly nude women plastered all around the office. It was the scent of dried come and sweat coating the air like stale smoke, the remnants of skin and blood clinging to the industrial carpet that rasped beneath Spike’s cheek. He’d known before opening his eyes where he was, but prolonging the inevitable had never been his preferred plan of attack.
Someone’s hair tickled his forehead, hair that wasn’t his own, and he batted the offending wisps away, blinking in time to see the owner step back, her body nearly bent in half as she looked into his face.
“He’s awake!” the woman called to someone he couldn’t see. She smiled widely at Spike, a smudge of her hot pink lipstick staining her incisors. “You were out for a long time. I didn’t think you were ever going to wake up.”
Her voice sounded like she’d been sucking on helium, and he gritted his teeth against the shivers it caused to run up and down his spine. “Guess you don’t know who I am then,” he managed to say past the thickness of his tongue. When he tried to push himself up, however, something heavy pressed into his shoulder to shove him back against the carpet. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the steel toe of a brown boot, cleats just barely visible along the sole but clearly indenting his coat.
“Oi!” he snarled. “Mind the leather!”
The woman giggled. “I love English accents,” she said. “He sounds so smart.”
“Yeah, he’s so smart, he thought he could fuck over Leandro and just walk away,” a man said. Spike grimaced as he was pushed harder into the floor. “He’s a regular Joe Einstein.”
“It’s too bad Leandro’s so pissed,” she said, straightening. Now all Spike could see were her pink stilettos and the bright blue nail polish on her abnormally long toes. “This one’s a hottie. He would’ve been fun to have around on the set, but not looking the way Leandro’s going to leave him.”
“Maybe not.” Spike hadn’t even heard Leandro come in, but he’d listened to the wanker talk about how great his shit was too much over the past three nights not to recognize the voice when he heard it. “Let him up.”
The boot disappeared from Spike’s shoulder, all too quickly replaced by two meaty paws beneath his arms, hauling him to his feet. Well, it was more to his tiptoes. Leandro’s muscle guy was a good foot taller than Spike.
Squinting against the sudden change in perspective, Spike watched as Leandro stepped in front of him. There had been a moment when he’d first met the other vampire that he’d been impressed. Tall, imposing, articulate, Leandro had a century and a half on Spike, wearing the years with a nonchalance of a demon who knew he was dangerous and didn’t need to advertise it. That is, until he opened his mouth. Spike hadn’t heard so much bragging and self-aggrandizing rubbish since the days he and Angelus had gone after The Immortal.
“You owe me a lot of money, Willie boy,” Leandro said.
Spike scowled at the nickname. It was yet another reason why he despised the man. “Told you, you’d get your dosh, Lenny,” he said. He struggled for a brief moment against the hold he was in, but his strength was nothing compared to the demon in Leandro’s employ. “But I can’t very well get it for you if I’m strung up like a piece of meat, now can I?”
“Funny you should mention stringing up…” Sitting on the edge of his desk, Leandro’s gaze flicked over Spike in disdain. “You know what really rubs, Willie? I’d heard such good things about you. The Slayer of Slayers. Part of the Scourge of Europe. You have no idea how disappointing it is that you turned out just to be a street punk with an inflated sense of self-worth.”
“It was good enough for Mimi.” Spike was rewarded for his sarcasm with his face getting slammed into the desk, his head ringing as the world tilted around him again.
“Mimi’s a whore.” Leandro seemed unruffled by the outburst. “You have any ideas how many guys she fucks on a daily basis? And she was pulling in twice as many tricks before she started doing any of my movies, even. You’re just another dick to her.”
He began pacing around the room, his tone thoughtful. “I have to say that you surprised me, though. I give you the choice of the litter, and you turn around and pick a California golden girl. What happened, Willie? Afraid picking a brunette would remind you too much of Drusilla or those Slayers you’re always bragging about?”
Spike pressed his lips together, unwilling to give voice to the answers Leandro sought. He wasn’t so blinkered not to realize why he’d chosen Mimi. She was tanned, petite, and had blonde hair that hung halfway down her back. If he fucked her from behind, it was all too easy for Spike to pretend.
But. In all the towns he’d passed through since parting ways with Buffy in Nevada, not once had he even said her name out loud. That didn’t mean a day went by when he didn’t think of her, but she’d made it more than clear when she’d walked away that they were just too different to have any kind of future together.
“You might’ve forgotten about the Slayer part of my job description,” she said, staring at the endless desert sky, “but I haven’t. I live with it every single day, Spike. It’s what I am.”
“We’re both killers, pet.”
“Except you kill for fun and I kill because I have to.”
Spike snorted. “Yeah, right. Try tellin’ that to someone who can’t smell how wet you get when you’re stalking one of your baddies. Or who hasn’t fucked you six ways to Sunday after you’ve caught him.”
She sighed. “You’re never going to get it, Spike.”
Her hair fell over her face as she rose from her dusty seat, and she wiped the dirt from the seat of her pants as she walked back to the car. Spike had just thrown his cigarette to the ground, ready to hop off the bonnet and get back on the road, when he saw her reach through her open window and grab her duffel from inside.
She never even looked back as she walked away in the direction from which they’d come. By the time he got behind the wheel of the car, Spike was so furious with her self-righteous bullshit that he decided to let her go, teach her a lesson about just how much she really needed him.
Half an hour later, she was nowhere to be found when he changed his mind and went back after her.
“Here in Chicago,” Leandro was saying, “we do things a little differently than what you’re probably used to. You show up to a poker game, you have the money to back up your wagers. If you’re going to cheat, you don’t get caught. And most important…” He smiled, a cold, mirthless rictus. “…you don’t piss off the vamp most likely to rip off your balls and feed them to his pet lion.”
“What can I say,” Spike commented, in spite of the fact that he could barely move with his face still shoved into the desk. “Life’s been a tad boring lately. Thought you might liven things up for me a bit.”
The woman who’d been watching Spike when he’d come to stepped behind Leandro and draped herself over his shoulders. “You sure you can’t use him in any of the movies?” she asked, running a finger down the vampire’s chest. “Maybe he can work off what he owes you. How much is it, anyway?”
“More than what his dick is worth. However, I have something else in mind for Willie boy.”
At a nod from Leandro, the muscle holding Spike down eased his hold, letting him straighten and stand, roll his shoulders to work out the kinks. He had no idea how long he’d been unconscious before the bird had showed up. It had been after midnight when he’d tried sneaking out of the poker game, knowing there was no way he could cover his bets when the night was over, and Leandro’s goons had jumped him before he’d even left the building. It could be daylight outside for as much as he knew.
“I’m having a problem with a young man in my employ,” Leandro said. “You take care of him for me, and I’ll wipe your debt clean.”
Spike’s eyes narrowed. “Too easy,” he said. “What’s the catch?”
“No catch. A simple trade. Unless you’d rather have your head ripped off and we call it quits right here. That can be arranged also.”
A quick look at Leandro’s goon was all Spike needed to know that that was a promise easily kept. “Why is it you’re not taking care of him on your own?” he asked. “Not like you to pass on something that’ll pad that resume of yours.”
“I have…other responsibilities to keep me busy today,” Leandro said. “So. Do we have a deal?”
Somehow, he knew there was a trap in this, just begging to be triggered, but damned if Spike could see it. Given the circumstances, however, he didn’t really have much of a choice, and they both knew it.
His face was slammed into the desk again.
He found out half the reason why Leandro didn’t go after the problem himself; the boy was human with an unhealthy need to spend as much time in the sun as possible. The only thing that helped Spike was that the late winter day turned into a miserable one, overcast by mid-afternoon and allowing him to venture from his car to follow the lad on foot. It wasn’t a long trek. They ended up in one of those chain restaurants where the waitstaff disappeared beneath all the badges they were forced to wear. Only the heavy scent of spices in the air made up for Spike’s growing disgust with the whole assignment.
His name was Kevin, and he was part of Leandro’s stable of directors for the skin flicks that financed the vamp’s more gluttonous habits. There was an Opie look to the boy---freckles on sun-blistered skin, a baseball cap perched atop muddy blond hair---but it was the wheelchair that caught Spike’s attention. No wonder Leandro didn’t want to go after this one. There was no honor in offing a crip.
Ignoring the barely legal hostess, he sauntered over to where Kevin was sitting and slid into the chair opposite him. “Don’t go for the wings,” he said. “They’re a bloody crime against nature.” When Kevin’s watery blue eyes darted to meet those of the hostess who had half-followed Spike to the table, Spike clicked his tongue in reproof.
“Leandro told me you were a chickenshit,” he said. “You really want to look even more pathetic by havin’ a waitress be the one to get rid of me?”
It wasn’t the threat that made Kevin pause. It was Leandro’s name. With a barely discernible shake of his head to the hostess, he shifted his attention to Spike, his heart suddenly thudding inside his chest. Spike could hear it even over the inane bubble gum music that was being piped through the restaurant’s speakers.
“I’d kind of hoped Leandro had finally given up on me,” Kevin said.
“Yeah, that’s why you’re lurking about where he can’t get you in the sun,” Spike replied. “Guess it’s good for me Mother Nature decided to take a little break today, then.”
He sagged within his wheelchair. “Great,” he muttered. “Another vampire.”
Spike clutched at his chest. “You wound me.”
Curiosity made him cock his head, his eyes narrowing in speculation. “Have to say you’re not what I expected to find,” Spike said.
“You mean the chair?”
“Well, that and…” His gesture toward Kevin was one of dismissal. “Leandro could blow on you and take care of whatever problem he has with you. Wanna spill on why he hired me to take care of it for him?”
No reason for the lad to know the truth of why Spike was doing this. He sounded more dangerous this way, which was always a good thing.
“He didn’t tell what I did? Of course, he didn’t,” Kevin said, answering the question himself. “He doesn’t want anybody to know.”
The waitress chose that moment to show up, rattling off the specials as she crouched down to meet them at their level. Spike rolled his eyes. As if that would forge some newfound friendship between the three of them. Some days, he really missed British service. It might not be the fastest in the world, but at least the staff didn’t bother to pretend to be his lifelong mate. This faux hospitality Americans were so in love with made him want to pluck out her eyeballs and serve them to her for tea.
As soon as it was just the two of them again, Kevin began playing with his knife, rolling it between his fingers with a practiced ease. “What’s your name?” he asked.
“You in the movies?”
“Your skin flicks? Hardly.”
“You could be. You’ve got the look of it.”
Spike leaned back, propping his feet up in the chair between them. “Flattery’s not goin’ to save your ass,” he said.
“Actually, I was being serious. And the name was a sure giveaway, I thought. You’d be surprised how many porn actors call themselves Spike. Sorry I jumped to the wrong conclusion.”
“Not like I’m not doin’ my fair of jumpin’ here. You don’t look the type to be peddling anything remotely blue.”
“The chair, right?” For the first time, Kevin smiled, almost chuckling under his breath. “Who else would Leandro trust around a bunch of gorgeous, naked women? He can count on me to get the job done because he doesn’t have to worry about me trying to fuck any of the actresses. Who better than a eunuch to guard the harem?”
There was so much bitterness beneath the laughing façade that it made Spike pause. Maybe he was wrong to be making so many assumptions about the bloke. Anger had a way of lurking in the brightest of corners, and it was that kind that usually proved the most lethal.
“So if you’re not messin’ with the goods,” Spike said, “what could you possibly have done to piss Leandro off so much? Not a witch or anything like that, are you?”
Kevin shook his head. “Magic’s not my thing,” he confessed. “I’m more of a…demon magnet.”
“Somehow, I always seem to find myself surrounded by them. Have my entire life. It used to freak me out, but once I just accepted that it was going to happen, everything got easier. When life serves you lemons, why not make lemonade?”
“None of this is tellin’ me why Leandro wants your head hangin’ over his fireplace. You don’t seem his usual type.”
Setting down the knife he’d been playing with, Kevin sighed as he reached for his water. “Leandro’s problem is that he doesn’t have a type,” he said. “He gets bored at the drop of a hat, and he expects everybody else to make it better for him. That’s how I got stuck with Jocelyn.”
Spike didn’t know the name. There had been a lot of women hanging out during the past few days, and truth be told, he only knew Mimi’s because she had the unfortunate habit of referring to herself in the third person while he was fucking her. Since that had been most of the time when he wasn’t at the poker table, it was inevitable that her name would stick.
“Thought you said you couldn’t get it up,” Spike said.
“I can’t,” came the bitter reply. “But Leandro doesn’t break things off with his girlfriends. He just starts ignoring them and…you don’t ignore Jocelyn. She rips your ears off and shoves them up your ass if you do.”
Spike’s mouth twitched. He was starting to like the sound of this girl.
“When Leandro took off for awhile,” Kevin was saying, “she didn’t have any way of taking out her frustrations so she asked for my help. All I did was introduce her to an old friend of mine, but the next thing I know, she’s wishing Leandro couldn’t ever hurt anybody again, and presto bango! Anyanka defangs him with a single word. He was pretty pissed when he found out I was the one who hooked the pair of them up.”
Now it all made sense. Spike hadn’t seen Leandro without his muscle hanging about since he’d shown up in town. It also explained why Leandro didn’t take care of this himself. He couldn’t. He was as neutered as a vampire could get. Of course, this would’ve been nice information to have before he got cornered by Leandro’s goon. He could’ve settled his bet with the other vamp by dusting him, and none would’ve been the wiser.
“Too bad this Jocelyn didn’t finish the job,” Spike commented. “It would’ve saved the both of us a world of trouble.”
Kevin shrugged. “She got tired of waiting for him to come back,” he said. “She disappeared some time before Christmas.” He paused when the waitress showed up with their food, his eyes riveted to Spike while she set the steaming plate of pasta in front of him. Only when she was gone did he speak up again.
“So what’s your story?” Kevin asked, picking up his fork to twirl the fettuccine around its tines.
“Who says I have one?”
“Nobody looks like you do without having a story.”
For a split second, Spike debated telling him the truth. In spite of his better judgment, he was starting to like the bloke. Anybody with the balls to introduce his boss’ angry ex-girlfriend to a vengeance demon was someone worthy of respect.
But what would he say? Helped a Slayer get out of the town she faked her death in, let her get away, and now I miss her? That would make him sound more pathetic than the crippled porn director. And nothing else of import had happened to him in the few months since he and Buffy had separated. In fact, the only thing of any value to happen to him in the years since Dru’s death was the Slayer coming into his life. That had been new, exciting, every morning a fresh question of just how she would surprise him that day. The sex had been amazing, and if it wasn’t for the fact that Buffy had this ridiculous need to prove herself better than Ethan by going do-gooder half the time, what they’d had would’ve been bloody close to perfect.
Something must’ve shown in his face because there was no mistaking the growing sympathy in Kevin’s eyes.
“You should tell her how you feel,” he said around a mouth full of pasta.
Spike stuffed his hands in his pockets, slouching down in his chair. “Don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ about,” he grumbled.
“Maybe not,” Kevin agreed. “But one thing I’ve learned from working with Leandro. Getting vamped doesn’t stop a girl from still wanting all the touchy-feely Lifetime moments. Just means you have them over entrails instead of antipasto.”
“Buffy’s not a vamp,” Spike said. When there was no response to that, he added, “She’s a Slayer.”
Kevin stopped in mid-chew, his eyebrows shooting so high up they disappeared beneath the brim of his cap. “Whoa,” he said, his voice thick from the alfredo sauce still in his mouth. “That’s just…you and…whoa.”
“Yeah. Pretty much sums it up.”
This was more than he’d counted on when he’d signed up for this job. He didn’t want to think about what had been; it was time to start thinking about what could be.
When Spike stood up abruptly, his chair squeaking over the dark tile, Kevin quickly swallowed to ask, “Where are you going?”
“Anywhere but here,” Spike said. He nodded toward the darkening sky outside the window. “I leave now, I can get out of Chicago before Leandro’s any the wiser. And you get to breathe until he finds another sap to try and cap you.”
“Where are you going to go? Leandro’s got a reach on him, you know.”
“Dunno. West, maybe.” Images of the desert glowing in the moonlight warmed his veins. “Maybe Nevada.”
Spike stopped walking away at the single word, glancing over his shoulder to see Kevin tossing his napkin onto the table.
“How would you feel about a hitchhiker?” Kevin asked.
It was Spike’s turn to be surprised. “You want to come with?”
“You think I want to stick around waiting for Leandro to either get tired of trying to kill me or actually succeeding?” He shook his head. “I’m only going to be so lucky for so long. I need to get out of here while I still can.”
He contemplated the possibility of having company along for the ride back west. It wouldn’t be so bad with this one, and if he ever got annoyed by the bloke, Spike knew he could just kill him and toss him to the side of the road. He didn’t have anything to lose, especially if Kevin’s disappearance bought him a little extra time because Leandro thought he was dead.
“Have a destination in mind?” he asked.
“Vegas,” Kevin said. “I know some people there, and they’re always looking for fresh meat for their flicks. I can be working the day after I show up.”
Without saying yes or no, Spike slid back into his chair, reaching for the menu. “What do they have to drink here that doesn’t taste like bloody piss water?”
Leandro’s gaze flickered over the tall man on the monitor. “Who is he?” he asked the security guard.
“He said his name is Ethan Rayne. He’s looking for that vamp who was here last week. The one you sent after Kevin.”
As soon as he heard, Leandro lost interest. “Get rid of him,” he ordered, turning on his heel to head back up to his penthouse. “Better yet, kill him. I’m a little hungry.”
He would’ve liked to go down and drain the man himself for having the balls to think he could just stop by for a casual visit, but even with Kevin dead, Leandro still had Anyanka’s little curse to deal with on a daily basis. He’d hoped having the bastard gone would appease some of his daily frustrations, but they were omnipresent as always. If he ever found Jocelyn, he was going to make sure he watched while she was split open and then torn apart, piece by miniscule piece. She was going to pay for what she’d done.
He never saw the security guard go out and speak to the stranger at the door. And he never heard the spell that fell from Ethan’s lips as soon as the guard pulled his weapon. When the guard’s body was found in the charred remains of the building the next day, Leandro was too busy lying in the sewers beneath the city, trying to ignore the agonizing pain in his back and legs. The jump he’d been forced to make from the penthouse in order to escape the fire had done more damage than he’d anticipated, but he hadn’t had any choice if he didn’t want to go up in flames with the rest of it. At least he had survived.
More than ever, one phrase pounded throughout his being.
Jocelyn was going to pay.
The next story is already planned out, though I haven't started writing it yet. Silly other stuff getting in the way of that right now. :) It's called "Diamond Studded Flunkies" and is back to being Buffy-centric, with Spike thrown into the mix as well. That one's going back to the darkness/length of the original World story, so I want to make sure I get it right. :)