Wagering History


by Annie Sewell-Jennings




I've never been a religious girl. My father used to try to get me to go to
church with him before he decided to go all deadbeat dad, but we lived with
my mother, the recovering hippie, so my sister and I never got a real taste
of religion. I've never really missed it, but on this night, I did come to a
conclusion in matters of faith:

Every single god in the world was in on a massive spiritual conspiracy to
make me suffer.

Honestly, it was the only viable reason I could think of for my current
situation. I was stuck in a little backroom of the Bronze intended for rowdy
drunks and teenagers on bad trips in the middle of a vicious thunderstorm
with Spike, and we weren't going anywhere for a while.

The room smelled like dead fish. Dead fish, spilled booze, wasted cigarettes
and the lovely smell of vomit. The only attempt at decor in the room was a
bunch of old posters and advertisements plastered to the walls, and a
fluorescent light flickered wearily from above, shorting out every now and
then from the lightning storm raging outside.

Of course, due to the "God vs. Buffy" war that I explained earlier, there was
only one itty bitty cot pushed back in the corner of this dirty little room,
and that was what Spike and I had to share for the duration of the night.

Neither one of us wanted to look at the cot. Spike hovered in the corner,
adding another cigarette to the stench, and I crossed my arms over my chest
to hide the skimpiness of my silver tube top from him. I whistled, he smoked,
I hummed along to the songs, he glared at me to tell me that my singing was
not fit for sound in general.

"This sucks," I said aloud grouchily, pacing back and forth. "This really,
really sucks." To punctuate how much the situation sucked, I kicked a broken
bottle of beer across the floor, and its stale contents spilled over the
cement floor. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized what I had done -
now neither one of us could sleep on the beer-soaked floor. It was bed or
bust, and I had just fucked myself over royally.

"Could be worse," Spike said off-handedly. "Could be raining."

Great. I was locked into a dank little room containing one tiny cot and a
vampire obsessed with me and Mel Brooks movies.

Briefly, I thought about starting to keep score again:

God: 2
Buffy: 0
Spike: Probably a million points.

He was loving it. I could tell that this was exactly what he had always hoped
for - being locked in a little room with Buffy Summers and one stinky,
uncomfortable-looking cot to share for the duration of a night. Yup, Spike
was in a hovel twisted into some sort of sick heaven for him, and I was
beginning to feel a little panicky at the prospect of sharing a bed with him.

Sighing, I sat down on the dreaded bed and put my head in my hands. I wished
that I was anywhere in the world other than in this room. There was a broken
clock on the wall, teasing me with the possibility of even knowing what time
it was, and I shook my head. "I've got to get home soon," I muttered. "Dawn
needs me."

"Oh, I'm sure that the munchkin will be fine," Spike said. "She'll brush her
teeth and say her prayers and all that domestic bullshit, and she'll wake up
without even knowing that you were gone all night."

The thought distressed me suddenly. Would Dawn even miss me? Would she even
look for her sorry excuse for a mother, even try to find out where her sister
had gone?

I bit my lip and worried about her, and Spike suddenly frowned, wincing when
he realized that, as per usual, he had said the wrong thing. "Hey, I don't
mean that," he said quickly. "All I'm saying is that she'll be fine without
you for just one night. Giles will hold the old fort down."

Sharply, I looked up at him and gave a pointed look to his battered state.
"That would be a lot more reassuring without the bruises and the limp," I
said, and Spike had the decency to let that go. "Everything's dangerous right
now, Spike. I need to be home. What if Glory takes this opportunity..." I
couldn't even bear to finish. All I could do was think about how young Dawn
was, how much I loved her, and I couldn't speak.

He touched me then. Literally. His fingers ran through my hair, carefully
sweeping it away from my shoulders. "She won't," he murmured. "Took care of
that already, remember? Got the pain to prove it."

Oh, we all had the pain to prove it. Like now, the pain of not knowing
whether to push Spike away or pull him close. My brain told me a thousand
reasons why I should stake him now like I had never been able to before, but
my skin was coming up with some excellent opposing arguments. Like how nice
his cool fingers felt in the humidity. Or how beautiful his eyes could be
when he was like this, like the blue became more noticeable. And damn, that
mouth, so ripe and swollen, so deliciously enticing...

Shit.

Quickly, I jerked away from him, standing up and crossing the other side of
the room, never glancing back at him. "Stupid broken clock," I spat at the
useless clock on the wall.

I heard him throw his cigarette to the ground, and I refused to look at him.
I knew that he was sulking around, pissed off that I had rejected him, and I
could hear him limp back and forth across the jail cell. Seething, I set my
jaw and turned around, back against the wall, arms crossed, in complete bitch
mode.

"You know, pacing in small quarters is not exactly charming," I said snidely,
and Spike glared at me with a malice that I recognized. Oh, good. It was time
to fight. The only part of my twisted relationship with Spike that was *any*
fun whatsoever. The man really does have a talent for verbal warfare.

Thunder clapped outside; the storm was really beginning to rage. I didn't
appreciate Mother Nature's hand in this catastrophe. "Oh, but everything I
does pisses you off, now doesn't it?" Spike shot back at me, and it was not
very convincing or threatening with him dragging his wounded leg behind him.

I glared back at him, giving him the patented "whatever" eye roll that only a
true California girl can do properly, and it just pissed him off even more.
"You're just torturing me for fun, Summers," he said. "Making me think that
everything's all right with a game of cards, making me throw out everything I
have to offer but offering nothing back but a little sympathy and a right to
the chin."

"What have you thrown out on the table tonight, Spike?" I challenged, and
Spike laughed tiredly, in exasperation.

"Oh, I threw it all out," Spike sighed. "History, passion, and a couple of
aces. But really, what have you given me? I just want answers. I just want
you to answer a question that I can't figure out."

There was lightning; I could see it through the frosted glass of the window
in the small chamber. Rain pelted against the glass, and I wished for a
tornado, just like I always did, but this was for a good purpose - to kill me
and get me out of this situation. But I knew that the storm wouldn't be so
kind, so I had to answer his damned question. The question that I didn't even
know how to answer.

"Fine," I said lowly, and then I started to sweat. Damned humidity. Damned
vampire. "I never killed you because... I don't really know, sometimes. Maybe
the world was more interesting with you in it. Maybe all the fights, all the
arguments, all the nose-thumbing is kind of fun. Maybe I like it sometimes."

My mouth was running away with itself again, and I felt like a cartoon when I
clapped my hand over my mouth at the end. Nice save there, chosen one.

Now Spike was staring at me, like he honestly hadn't expected me to give a
really, brutally honest answer to his question. "You get it too, don't you,"
he said, his voice low, seductive and almost lilting. Like hypnosis through
honey. "The fights are the best part. The banter, the threats, the fire...
You aggravate me more than any other person on the planet."

He aggravated me, too. No one could crawl under my skin and rattle my nerves
like Spike. It was beyond reason to get so pissed off at him sometimes, but I
couldn't help it. He pressed my buttons in all the wrong places, and somehow,
I ended up pressing all of his in all the right.

Suddenly, an idea occurred to me, and I tilted my head towards the side. Not
challenging anymore, merely... Curious. "You said that was a question that
you never figured out," I said quietly. Everything had grown softer suddenly,
like the electricity had settled into nothing more than a burning ember
between us. "Well, I have one too. Why do you love me?"

Spike was taken aback by the question briefly, and then he stepped forward,
his bruises dark shadows underneath his eyes. "You know, took me a long time
to know why myself," he said, running his hand through his tousled hair.
"Couldn't figure it out for the life of me. All I knew was that I woke up in
the middle of the night and suddenly..." He didn't say it; he just let his
voice trail off, and then he stepped even closer, so close that I was trapped
between him and the dirty wall.

His fingertips skimmed over my forearm, and I couldn't help it. I shivered,
feeling like his touch was lightning, and I was shocked through and through.
I simmered underneath Spike's touch, and I looked up at him, captured in his
gaze. "Fucked me up good, you did," he murmured. "Not your fault though. Not
mine, either. It's just the way that it is, duchess. I loved you from the
beginning, from the first time I saw you and Xander dancing right in this
very place. The curve of your shoulder..."

His hand reached up to touch it, and his rough fingertips caressed my skin in
a way that made my heartbeat race and my breath quicken. "The fall of your
hair..." Now his fingers stroked my temple, running through my hair and
making my mouth dry and my body feel swollen and sore with arousal. "It all
did something to me. But it's not just lust; I could have dealt with lust.
It's something more. Something about you..."

"What?" I whispered hoarsely, my voice caught by the storm inside of me.

The back of his hand whispered down my cheek, and I turned my face to it,
wanting his touch, wanting him to continue with these feather-light caresses.
Gently, I reached up to cup his forearm, to keep him positioned there, to
fasten him to me. "Everything about you," he sighed, and I could feel the
tension from him, knowing that he wanted this as badly as I did. Just to
touch for a while. Just to explore and feel this light. This... Free. "It's
everything about you, Buffy. You're everything that I lost when I was made,
everything that I thought I didn't want, but..."

Suddenly, I understood. We had never wanted each other, but in this room,
without our careful guards and the rules we were supposed to live by, we had
found each other. He had broken everything he lived by, and had been bruised
and beaten by it. I didn't know that vampires could be noble. Didn't know
that he could be heroic. And I wanted that piece of him, that new, strange
glimmer in him that was so alluring and... Good.

Slowly, almost shyly, I reached my other hand up to touch him, and I wrapped
my hand around his neck, cupping his head in my hands. His hair was soft
under my touch. I didn't know that he could be soft like this. Didn't know
that he could be this lush. I was swimming, almost drowning, and buried
underneath the stench of the room was *his* smell. The smell of cigarettes
and sex.

The smell that I loved.

So close together, so entwined that we were nearly inseparable, Spike leaned
forward, his voice hushed and rough. "Answer me one more question," he
murmured into the curve of my ear, his lips caressing my earlobe in a manner
that made me hiss out a moan. "Tell me why you kissed me yesterday."

Cheek to cheek now, I pressed my face against the side of his, never wanting
to let go of his skin, and I brushed my own lips against his ear when I
responded, without the lies, without the falsehoods. "Because of the
bruises," I whispered, terrified of my honesty and spellbound by his.
"Because of the split lip, and the glass in your cheek, and the cuts on your
chest." The chest that my hand was now touching, never hearing the beat of
his heart, and never really needing to, either. I knew it was there. I knew
it was mine. "Because of them, you were beautiful."

Now I touched him, touched his bruises. I felt the swollen heat of fever
underneath his cheek, and even as he winced, he wanted me to touch him. Spike
pressed his cheek against my hand, and then I touched his mouth, feeling the
silk of his lips underneath my hand, remembering how he felt underneath my
kiss...

And then I was feeling it, as I leaned my head up to his and kissed him again.

Power, this time. No fleeting little breath, no soft slide. This was all
passion, all teeth and tongue, as we met frantically at the mouth and kissed
until I was breathless. Hunger and greed seized me, and I dug my hands into
his shoulders, pulling him close to me while we kissed feverishily. His mouth
tasted like everything good and everything bad, confusing and nice all at
once.

Losing it. I was completely losing it. This would be the definition of losing
it, kissing Spike like this, but I decided right then and there that I didn't
care. So what if I was losing it? I must have been losing it for years, since
I knew in that moment, lost in his kiss, that I had wanted this from the
beginning. I had wanted him in a primal sense, and after tonight, after
yesterday, I was beginning to want him in other senses, too.

I wanted his heart.

Our hands were everywhere, scouring across each other's bodies, looking for
the places that we wanted to nuzzle and caress, the places we wanted to bite
and lick. I found my first spot in the hollow of his jaw, nipping at where
his heart should beat with my blunt teeth. His tongue looped through the
silver hoop in my earlobe, licking at metal and skin. Fingernails scratched
against the skin of my back, and I hissed, arching my hips against him and
throwing my head against the wall. I was burning from the inside out, on fire
with want, and the thunderstorm raged outside.

I stepped away from him then, just one foot back, and looked at him. I could
see the arousal in him, from the way his erection pressed against his black
jeans, to the way that his eyes burned like immolation. He wanted it, and I
wanted to give it to him. Let him know that no fake girl would ever provide
him with as much pleasure as I possibly could. Tell him that programming and
wires were nothing compared to me.

Programming. Wires. It was just... Too weird. I couldn't help but think of
what he might have done with it, the things he could have programmed, and it,
well, freaked me out. I was *not* going to have sex with someone who had made
a robot me and had sex with it only forty-eight hours ago. It was just not
the brightest of ideas... At least not now.

I sighed, looking away from him briefly. "Look, I hope you don't think I'm
that easy," I said, turning my face back to him and arching my eyebrow. "I've
had bad experiences with first-night relationships. They always end up
leaving in the morning."

Spike flashed me an ironic smile. "Well, pet, leaving at sunrise wasn't
exactly my plan," he said glibly, and I rolled my eyes, leaving a smile on my
face when I did it.

"Smartass," I said, and it was hard not to smile at him. "But you did get the
picture, right? This is all still very weird and very, very wrong, especially
after the most recent wacky robot hyjinx." It was a pointed remark, and
believe me, he got it. He even had the decency to look a little shame-faced,
conceding that yes, building a fake Buffy and having some sort of warped sex
with it was not going to get me into bed.

At least not tonight.

"Right," Spike said, grimacing when he shifted his weight onto his wounded
leg. "Probably not a good idea anyway, what with all the bruises and the
pain."

"Yeah," I said, feigning innocence. "Probably not a good idea at all."

"Well, we still have that one bed and a couple of hours before sunrise,"
Spike said, gesturing to the cot underneath the frosted window. "How 'bout I
promise you that I won't get fresh if you don't?"

I barked out a laugh at that one and then ran my hands through my hair, still
trying to overcome the buzz from beer and Spike. "I can't make any promises,"
I said a little shakily. I got hot all over again every time I glanced in his
direction. Oh, those hands and how they flipped so gracefully through the
deck when he shuffled... Or that mouth, tasting like cigarettes...

Nope. No promises whatsoever.

Awkwardly, Spike looked away when he shed his coat, and gingerly took off his
shirt, wincing at his sore body. I was almost floored by how badly he had
been tortured. There were all sorts of circular wounds on his chest, scabbed
over and still tender-looking, and long slashes that only could have come
from a skilled hand wielding a sharp blade.

"Jesus," I muttered, walking over to him when he stumbled briefly and nearly
fell over. Quickly, I put my arm around him and helped him to the bed,
cradling his head in my hand before laying him down. "Oh, man, Spike, I'm
sorry..."

"Not your fault," he said tiredly. "She just got a little carried away, I
suppose."

Worrying at my lip with my teeth, I sat down next to him on the bed and felt
a little bad that I hadn't been there the night before. "How badly does it
hurt?" I asked, and Spike shrugged his shoulders, looking down at the scrawls
across his chest.

"Bad," he admitted. "Could be worse, though."

I smiled. "Could be raining," I finished softly, and reached down to touch
one of the stray locks of white-blond hair falling over his brow. "You know,
I think I like your hair better this way. Say good-bye to the hair gel - it's
now officially gone."

"Bye," Spike sighed wearily, and I could tell that he was exhausted. It was
nearly sunrise, and he was fading out, beaten and ready to go to sleep.
Frankly, after a night like tonight, I was worn out, too.

Gently, I laid myself down next to him, pulling the scratchy-looking blanket
over our bodies and turning myself towards him. Nothing wrong with a little
spooning, right? Nothing strange or weird there, snuggling up with the guy
I've been halfheartedly trying to kill for the past three years, right? I
sighed to myself. Oh, it was wrong, all right. It was wrong and right all at
the same time.

I tucked my head underneath his chin, resting my cheek on his shoulder,
pressing my palm against his cool, bruised chest. "I don't really know what
to think of you right now, Spike," I murmured. "I really don't."

Strange to feel him chuckle underneath my cheek. Strange but good. "Neither
do I, duchess," he said, and I smiled.

"Duchess," I said. "I could get used to that term of endearment. Much better
than 'Slayer'. How weird would that sound if--" Better not to finish that
sentence. I've said too much for one night, anyway.

Again, that nice little chuckle. He had a nice laugh, and I'd never noticed
it before now. He sounded happy when he laughed, and I'd never heard that
from one of my lovers. Not even Riley, and never Angel. Only Spike could ever
be happy with me - sad but exhilarating all at once.

Outside, the rain was beginning to slow, and the thunder was nothing more
than an occasional rumble or tired growl. No more lightning, just the steady
white noise of rain. It was soothing, nice, lying on a cot underneath a
scratchy blanket with my cheek against Spike's chest and his hand on my back.

"And the award for strangest night in history goes to," I murmured against
his skin, and I felt him laugh again while touching my hair.

"So, pet, where do we go from here?" he asked, and I shrugged my shoulders.

"I don't know," I said. "I think I need some time to figure all of this out.
And some time to get over the freak-out factor. But until then, who knows?
Maybe another game of spades next week." I grinned broadly. "After all, we
did beat the shit out of Willow and Xander."

Now it was Spike's turn to gloat, and he was, naturally, an expert. "Yeah,"
he said slowly, with great satisfaction. "We certainly did. They'll think
twice before they play with us again."

"Oh, definitely," I agreed, and then I lifted my head up so that I could see
his face. It was beautiful, even under the bruises, or maybe it was because
of the bruises. His good deeds written across the structure of his face, like
an addition to his angular architecture, made my heart hurt in a way that I
had never experienced before. Confusing, painful, but undoubtedly good all at
once.

"Spike," I murmured, looking at his heavy-lidded eyes. He had such long
eyelashes. "Do you want to know what secret I'm going to tell?" He nodded,
and I smiled. "I'm telling it to you, and the secret is that I could fall in
love with you."

It was the truth. The way that he sacrificed himself, the painful way that he
was changing, the brilliant flash of his eyes and the tilt of his chin... I
could fall in love with him if I knew him better. If I gave myself time and
allowed myself to do so.

And I could definitely fall in love with the way that he kissed me just then,
with that silky pout of a mouth that should never have been given to any
human being. "Want to know what I'm going to tell?" he murmured back, and I
nodded. "I'm going to tell Giles that Xander shagged Anya in his bathroom."

I threw my head back and laughed, flicking his forehead with my finger.
"Punk," I snorted, and Spike grinned, fingering a lock of my hair.

"Duchess."

So what if I didn't know what was going to happen tomorrow? So what if I had
absolutely no way to predict how fate or destiny or even the weather was
going to unfold? Strangely, none of these things mattered in this dank and
extremely disgusting little room, curled up in a creaky cot with a vampire
that I was maybe falling in love with. All that mattered was that I was a
duchess and he was a punk, and there was still a good hour before sunrise
that I could spend in his arms. And maybe a lifetime after that. Or at least
until he started acting like a jackass again.

Just as I was about to drift off into never-never land, Spike touched my
temple with his fingertip and spoke. "So, tomorrow night, hearts?"

And all I could do was groan and say, "Deal me in."

*****

end