Wagering History


by Annie Sewell-Jennings




I think that I'm beginning to like the way that he smokes cigarettes.

There's something very sensual about watching Spike smoke. Maybe it's the
contrast of his fingernails against the white paper of the cigarette. Or is
it the way that the filter looks between his lips? Part of it is the casual
way that he does it, because he knows that he's addicted and does not care
and because these will not kill him. And the smoke itself halos his face,
softens his sharp features a bit, and makes him look a little mysterious.

And a lot sexy.

There wasn't anyone in the club at this point. Closing time had come and gone
a *long* time ago, and we were pretty much the only ones in the club. After
closing time, they played whatever they wanted to play, and Nelly Furtado's
album made for good background music as we sat around and played cards. My
slutty silver tube top was an excellent argument for us to stay there and
chill, let me tell you. The guy just stared down my top and told me that we
could stay as long as we wanted. We even got free beer and a free pack of
cigarettes for Spike.

Which he was smoking and subsequently turning me on.

Oh, don't think of me like that. It's not my fault. I couldn't help it. What
else was I supposed to do when he was sitting there being so damned charming?
Shuffling cards with those *really* fast hands, making idle conversation and
making me laugh. It was the strangest feeling that I had ever felt in my life
- the feeling of the line being blurred.. I didn't know what the hell I was
doing, but it was so easy to talk to him. So easy to sit there and play gin
until 4am.

And we kept on sharing secrets.

"So you think that the reason all of the music on the radio sucks now is
because of Bill Clinton?" I asked, feeling a little loopy and Spike-drunk.

He nodded, taking a swig of the free Heineken that Lusty Bouncer Guy gave us
(tm Spike). "Absolutely," Spike said, his cigarette burning between his
fingers. "Your dumb American president gave all the money to these idiot
teenaged girls and they ran right out and bought as much plastic pop music
they could find. Now that's what we have to listen to. No more Foghat, no
more Clash, no more Ramones. Just shiny happy people." A little snarl
appeared on his mouth. "Makes me right sick to my stomach."

I arched my eyebrow and made my move, placing a ten on the table and picking
up an ace. "Either that or you had too much Heineken tonight," I said, and he
gave me a wry smile, saying that he probably had. He smelled like alcohol.
That added to his unique Spike-smell was sensory overkill. Booze, cigarettes,
and sex. Spike smelled so awfully good.

I think I started giving him the dopey smile then. The smile where I'm
resting my hand in my chin and kind of mooning at him. It was a very bad
thing, especially because he caught it. Naturally. I can't get away with
anything when it comes to Spike. He saw the starry-eyed look, the little
happy glow, and he just smiled right back. Oh, he knew that he had me.

Then he played the two of hearts, and I picked it up, placing down a jack of
spades. "Gin," I said softly, displaying my hand to him. He didn't bother to
look at it, and I frowned. "Why don't you look at my cards? See for yourself?"

Spike shook his head, taking my cards from me and stacking the deck. "Don't
have you pegged for a cheater," he said, and I swallowed. Of course not. To
him, I would never lie or cheat. I was a goddamned saint, and it offended me.

"I could cheat," I said, pissed for being put on a pedestal. "I could lie.
You think that you have me pegged, Spike, but you don't. You don't know all
of me."

I didn't mean it as a challenge. Honest. But I should have known that that
was how Spike would take it. The same competitive drive that Willow has?
Well, Spike has that *plus* a good dose of starry-eyed love.

He looked down, his face crowned in cigarette smoke, the cards between his
fingers as he shuffled them absently. "You wish that you could play the
guitar," he murmured. "You try every now and then, but it frustrates you and
you give up. You have a secret love for classical music. Your favorite season
is summertime because of the thunderstorms. Late at night, when the bit's
asleep, you pace around your mother's bedroom like a lost little lamb, and
look out the window with the saddest damn look on your face. Like you're
expecting someone to come and see you for what you are." A sad little smile
touched his mouth. "And even though you'll never admit it, you like the smell
of cigarettes."

I did. I liked the smell of the burning tobacco clinging to his collar,
though I tried to tell myself that it was gross and sleazy. It was warm and
almost old, distinctive and heavy. It made me feel warm inside. I hated that
he knew that about me, that he knew my secrets, that he knew the things that
made me who I was. That he loved me for me was a crime, absolutely
unforgiveable. Why should Spike be able to love me like this when Angel and
Riley had failed?

Why should my mortal enemy be the only one to ever love me for who I am?

I gritted my teeth, stubbornly setting my jaw. I was ready to unleash
absolute hell on him for daring to tell me these things. "Did the game
change, Spike?" I asked softly. "I must have missed when we decided to tell
each other secrets that weren't ours."

God, Spike sucks for having such a great smile. I hated him for flashing
those pearly whites at me like it was so damn cute that I decided to play
rough with him. "Oh, go on ahead," he dared. "This should be entertaining."

I leaned in close to him, so close that if he could breathe, I could have
felt it. "You hate your crypt because it's empty," I murmured. "You still
write poetry, and it still sucks. Your favorite season is summer because of
the thunderstorms, and that's one of the reasons why you love me - because I
get that. Sometimes, late at night, you sit underneath the oak tree in my
front yard and smoke cigarette after cigarette, just to watch me, because
you're lonely." My voice got suddenly cold. "And you never wanted to kill me."

Oh, I knew Spike. I knew him so well that I could have written a best-selling
novel revealing all of his secrets and gotten a butt-load of money from the
Watcher's Council for writing it.

And it made him smile. It made him light up like fireworks. It bothered me
that he could think that it was so good that I knew who he was. "Oh, my,"
Spike sighed. "Knowing you... That's expected of me. I'm in love with you.
But you know me... Know every little detail, every little nook and cranny..."
He arched his eyebrow at me. "Now then, duchess, what's that say about you?"

I think my jaw might have dropped, but I can't say. He pissed me off more
than he's ever managed to piss me off with that one arrogant little
statement. Maybe it was because he might have been right. What did it say
about me that I knew him so well? So what if I did? I gritted my teeth and
stiffened my body, glaring at him. "Did we just abandon the card game?" I
asked him. "I mean, what is this? Grill Buffy for intimate details night?"

"No," Spike said shortly, and I could tell that he was chomping at the bit to
get to me. If I was pissed, then he had just gone nuclear. "This is 'Make
Buffy Admit the Truth' night." His smile turned cruel. "And you know, you're
just *so* damned good at lying."

Okay. So maybe running to the bathroom wasn't the snappiest comeback, but I
sort-of-really panicked. Running away is my answer to most uncomfortable
situations anyway. Slayer survival skills and social graces don't always go
hand-in-hand. But I just couldn't take it anymore, and dammit if Spike didn't
hurt my feelings. I ran into the bathroom and threw cold water on my face,
and tried to stop myself from feeling bad.

"Just bad Spike words," I muttered to myself as I wiped my face off with a
paper towel. "Bad, meaningless Spike words."

But that was what made me run in the first place. Maybe there was a little
truth in there. I threw the paper towel in the trashcan angrily, running my
hands through my hair and trying to calm myself down. I was fine. Spike was
wrong. I hadn't been lying all night, and I had never lied to him. I hated
him. I wanted to kill him. These are normal thoughts to have when dealing
with an aggravating little monster like Spike.

Calm. Collected. Cool. And with great hair. Yes, I was back to normal Buffy
status, ready to go back and make Spike weep with frustration that he
couldn't ever have someone as to-die-for as me. Then I turned around in the
mirror and froze.

It was me. A skinny chick in a silver tube top and flushed skin, hair wet
around the face, makeup nearly gone, and a little hurt expression on her
mouth. It was me, naked and exposed, on the glass. And I was upset by it,
because I saw what Spike saw. I saw the girl who couldn't lie.

I did love thunderstorms in the summertime, especially right before they
come, when you don't know how bad the storm will be and it feels like it
might be a tornado. And I couldn't help but wander through my mother's
bedroom at night, missing how good she smelled, and wish that someone would
understand how I felt without her.

And I remembered the taste of cigarettes on his mouth, underneath the blood
and the bruises. I remembered how strangely hot his mouth was, and how badly
my heart hurt when I kissed him. It pained me to kiss him so gingerly.

I didn't know what to do, so I just closed the door on the bathroom and
walked back out in the club.

He was still sitting there at the table, the cards still between his hands,
and I saw that he didn't expect me to come back. He looked relieved and
surprised when I walked back to the table. "Thought I ditched you?" I said,
and Spike shrugged.

"Wouldn't be the first time," he said, and I knew that he was right. I'd
walked out on him so many times. That should be a good sign, that I had
managed to leave him before, but I thought about how many times I should have
killed him but ran away instead. Not a good thing. Not a very good thing at
all.

I sighed, and tilted my head at him. "There's a first time for everything," I
said softly, reminding him of what I said earlier, when we first started this
whole mess. "I won, but we're playing things a little differently. I'm asking
you a question, and you have to answer it with complete honesty. No bullshit."

"No bullshit," Spike repeated, his eyes deadly serious and his voice rough.

"What did Glory do to you?"

I had seen the damage, but I didn't know its source. I needed to know what
she had done to him, not only for my own use against her, but to know what he
had been through for us. How much he had suffered.

I think I offended him. His jaw clenched, and his eyes turned harsh, like I
doubted his pain's authenticity. "Well, this black eye was from her slamming
her right into me," he said, pointing to his purple eye with a chipped
fingernail. "And all these little tiny cuts around the mouth? A glass. Right
in my face. Hurt like a bitch. Almost made me cry."

There was rage in his voice suddenly, and I wished that I could revoke the
question. "Spike," I started, feeling terrible and mean, "just..."

"No," Spike said coldly, his jaw resolute, and I could see that the memory of
his ordeal was making his hands shake. He shrugged off his coat until he was
in nothing but his black tee shirt, and I could see his arms. There were
burns in his forearms, on the palm of his hand. "She found my cigarettes in
my pocket, and decided to have herself a smoke break before chaining me from
the ceiling. And I could go further and show you how she poked holes in my
chest with her fingers and cut me open like a rotten apple, but I think that
Lusty Bouncer Guy would get upset if I was sitting here without a stitch on,
don't you?"

I had nothing to say. I couldn't look away from his hands, with those dark
red burnmarks, the kind that would probably scar. He had been scarred for me.
I didn't know what to tell him, how to apologize for making him answer such a
bad question. "I'm sorry, Spike," I muttered, feeling ashamed. "That was
wrong of me to ask."

But once Spike's temper is out of the bullpen, it doesn't stop until
someone's lying in the ground, bleeding. "Oh, we're not quite done yet,
duchess. We've still got the mouth. She dragged me by my lip, you know, and
then slammed that glass in my mouth, along with a couple of really good
punches. Let me tell you, she's got one hell of a right hook."

It made me feel terrible. I was a beast. "Spike..."

"Is that what you wanted to hear?" he asked, his voice suddenly quiet.
"Wanted to see if I suffered enough to be good enough for you?"

I was torn between two halves, one wanting to snipe back at him that he would
never suffer enough for me, and the other wanting to tell him that he should
not have had to suffer in the first place. The sight of his bruised and
purple eye, then the sight of his mouth swollen, made me waver to the latter.

Waveringly, I brought my hand over and cupped it over his, absolutely
incapable of looking him straight in the eye. I didn't have anything to say
that would make for a good apology, so I just held his hand briefly, and I
felt him relax under my touch. His skin was cold, but not unappealingly so.
It wasn't hard; it was soft, and slightly moist. He was nervous around me,
and the thought surprised me. I didn't think that Spike could ever be nervous
- he was too goddamn snide and arrogant to give a shit.

But I could see the sudden insecurity, the chink in the bleach and leather
armor. It was how his hand would occasionally jump under mine, like he wanted
to touch me so badly but couldn't bring himself to actually do it. It was
nice to see him vulnerable, considering that he's usually a jackass.

"Forget it," Spike sighed, and I had to bite down a smile. Men can be so easy
sometimes. They're all whores for love. "Doesn't matter. What's done is done
and so on."

I didn't move my hand. My fingers didn't want to move, even when my brain
told me that it was probably an opportune time to move them. Actually, my
brain was telling me that it was a bad idea for me to have put my hand there
in the first place, but as Spike said, "what's done is done." I just wanted
to let my hand linger there, wanted to feel my hot palms against his cool
ones, like they somehow balanced each other out.

That was when he decided that it was a good idea for him to move his other
hand, and reached around to cup my wrist, surrounding my skin with his cool
sweat. It made me shudder, made me think about my hot mouth against his
bruised lips. I wanted to taste him again. I wanted to drown in his nicotine
and blood.

Blood...

"Shit," I muttered as I pulled away from him, jerky with my actions, too
afraid to be graceful. I had the shit scared out of me, terrified of myself
and what I was doing. I stood up quickly, trying to gather the deck of cards
in my hand and failing miserably. Cards scattered on the table, and I
muttered an apology, abandoning the deck on the table. Mental note: buy
Xander a new deck of cards. Or, considering what this game had led to, never
buy Xander cards again.

"Don't," Spike said hoarsely, and I looked down at him with horror, realizing
that he wanted me. It was sexy. It was awful.

"I have to go home," I said, my voice sharp and alarmed. "I have to get Dawn
to school in the morning, and I have to go talk to some of my professors, and
I have things to do..." I suddenly felt bad for ditching him, but what else
could I do? This wasn't his fault, but being around him wasn't a good idea on
my part.

Before he could say anything else, I spun around and walked towards the door,
my cheeks flaming and my vision a little blurred from panic and alcohol. Oh,
Lord, it was a terrible, terrible idea to get plastered and hang around with
Spike.

"Definitely not a bright night for you, Buff," I muttered, walking out the
exit door and into the back alley where I'd learned a good history lesson
from my favorite mortal enemy not too long ago. The first night where he
tried to kiss me. The first time I should have figured out that something was
wrong.

"Buffy!"

Goddammit, couldn't I escape him for once? Here he was, already limping his
way out the door, looking as pathetic and heartbroken as a Sid Vicious
wannabe could look. "I never got to ask you a question," Spike demanded, and
I clenched my jaw at him, tipping my chin and glaring at him.

"Did you forget the rules, Spike?" I asked harshly. "You didn't win the hand.
I did."

Spike narrowed his eyes at me, getting so close so that if he breathed, I
would be able to feel it. "I thought we threw out the cards a long time ago,"
he said lowly. "I'm asking my goddamn question."

Glaring at him coldly, I dared him to ask it. Come on, Spike. Ask your stupid
little question. "Oh, please," I sneered. "I'm really, really in need of a
good laugh."

Tightly, like it was killing him to even speak to me, Spike smiled. "All
right then," he said. "Why didn't you ever kill me?"

It floored me, and I didn't know what to say. I wanted to run. Wanted to flee
as far away from Spike and his nasty, complicated question. I wanted to stake
him. I still wanted to kiss him. But all that I could do was look at him,
mouth flapping like a dying fish, without anything to say.

Then we both looked up, startled by what we saw above us.

Great.

A thunderstorm.

*****

Continued