The Way of It

by Jenna



Note 1: This happens in place of 'The Wish' Note 2: The song is called 'What a feeling' and is written and performed by Heather Nova



Cordy walked slowly through the cemetery, careful to keep her face down as she shuffled through the grass.

"Hello cutie."

Startled, she looked up, feeling for the stake in her pocket. She relaxed when she saw the lanky blond vampire sitting on a wide marble tombstone. "Hi Spike."

This was met with silence, so she moved closer and leaned against a tree. It was a suitably twisted and gnarled tree, perfect for a cemetery at night. But as she rested her cheek against the bark, she inhaled the sweet scent of eucalyptus. When she spoke again, her voice was more subdued. "Did you go to her? In Brazil, I mean?"

"Drusilla? No."

"Oh."

"I guess you talked to the Slayer, is that how you found out I was going, luv?"

"Sort of, we really don't talk that much any more."

"I wasn't going to go back, at all, you know? I just realized she was right, Buffy. I was moping, and crying all over the place. I had to keep some shred of pride."

"I think I know what you mean. Like everyone knew what you really were, and you had to keep her from figuring it out too. To protect yourself, so that in her eyes at least, you weren't as pathetic as everyone thought you were."

He looked up at her, and knowing the demon inside of him made her curse herself for being... her. But something in his eyes, even in the dim moonlight made her keep from apologizing. Because, somehow, he understood. "Yes."

They shared the silence for a moment, each savoring memories that seemed to be from a long time ago. "I never really liked torture in the bedroom. I guess I'm a sentimental. I like sweet... But he weaned her on pain, and it... changed her."

Slowly she came out from the trees, and walked over to his gravestone. Carefully she reached out until her fingers brushed the soft leather of his duster. Even though he had to have heard her, he almost started. Cordy smiled reassuringly. "Can I sit here?"

They stared into each others eyes, before a half smile danced over his face and he scooted over enough for her to sit next to him. "Xander and Willow were kissing." Spike looked at her. "In the factory. When Oz and I got there, they were in full smoochie mode."

"Is that when you got hurt?" She looked at him, surprised. "Oh. Yeah. I fell through the stairs and got impaled on an iron spike."

"That's hard thing to say, because it's such a simple sentence, isn't it? It's so succinct, but it doesn't even begin to cover it. You got hurt worst than that. A thousand times worse. Like you've lived forever with a huge weight on your chest."

Unwanted tears sprung to her eyes, but she didn't wipe them away. "Yes."

"It sucks, doesn't it?"

She looked at him. He was looking across the graveyard, through the trees. Or maybe he was looking at the trees. Cordy put her hand on his knee, drawing his attention to back her. "I'm sorry Spike. I know it's not enough, but I am sorry." She didn't know why she wanted to make him feel better so badly. Maybe if he get better, she would realize it could be done.

"Thanks, pet." Suddenly he began to chuckle.

"What? What happened?"

Spike grinned weakly at her. "I wasn't laughing at you, pet. I was just thinking of the picture we must make sitting here."

Cordy realized he looked pale, even for a vampire and remembered how he had looked when she first saw him. Desolate, and alone on the marble marker. "How long have you been out here, Spike?" He leaned against her, and she found herself trying to support his weight as they swayed on the smooth gravestone. "Or maybe, I should ask, how long you were expecting to be out here."

She slid one arm under his leather duster to get a grip under his arm and drew the other one ever her shoulders. The hand she grabbed for leverage was limp and unresponsive. "How long ago did you eat?"

He leered towards her then, and she shifted her weight to allow for the vampire that was practically draped over her. "Well, pet. Are you volunteering?"

"No!" She thought about dropping him, but she couldn't. He was just as lost as she was, maybe more. And she wanted nothing more to be babied and comforted. That's what he needed. Some comfort.

"Yeah, I thought you'd say that. The little witch said so, too."

"But we can take you to Willie's." He groaned. "Yeah, well-" Cordy panted as she hefted his arm over her shoulder again. "I'm sure he's not going to be thrilled either, but we do what we have to." She ended up nearly carrying him to her car, trying to remember if she had ever read anything about vampires starving themselves to death.

If she had, she couldn't remember. She didn't even know if it was possible or not. But he was sleeping when they got to Willie's so she covered him with a blanket and left him in her car while she went in to Willie's alone. It wasn't her best idea, but she'd been full of them since the night began. Cordy realized her bad luck was getting worse when she spotted Buffy and Xander interrogating the small bartender.

Quietly, she pointed to her small cross around her neck, to assure him she was human. He visibly relaxed and went back to denying he knew anything. Idly, Cordy picked up a salt shaker and wondered about the purpose. Blood shots? Blood reminded her of her errand as Buffy and Xander turned to the door, apparently having had extorted enough from Willie to satisfy them.

Cordy had planned on waiting for them to get all the way out of the door before buying the blood, but she realized they might see Spike in her car and get the wrong idea. "And what would that be, Chase? They might think you were trying to help him? And why?" She sighed. Plenty of time for that later. She put down the shaker and hurried to the bar. "I need four bags of blood to go please." She had no idea how this was done, and rather felt like she was ordering a happy meal.

Willie blinked in surprise. Her eyes narrowed. "Now." He scurried off, and she could feel Buffy and Xander staring at her. Slowly she flexed her shoulder muscles and turned to face them. Buffy held a stake loosely in her hand as a precaution and Xander looked confused and a bit worried. "How unusual." Cordy muttered under her breath before posting a half way friendly smile on her face. "Easy there girl. Just getting some blood for a friend."

Buffy eyed the cross around her neck and stepped back. As did Xander. "Ever the faithful puppy." She thought to herself, and hearing Willie's footsteps behind her, she turned back to see him set a grocery bag on the bar. "That'll be... ah- fifty." Sighing, she forked over the money.

"This is fresh, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Better be, for that kind of money." Willie was still looking at her curiously "And it isn't diseased or anything?"

"No, I try to keep my supply fresh. But I still wouldn't use it for a blood transplant, or anything."

Cordy raised her eyebrow. "No, I wouldn't either. But thanks." She was about to leave when she saw Buffy and Xander still gaping at her. An evil grin flitted across her face, and she turned back to the bartender, who obliviously wanted them to leave. Soon. "If I find out that there's anything wrong with this blood, anything at all, I will bring the rest of it back and make you drink it."

Willie looked considerably more jumpy with this latest threat. "Gotcha. Look, I hate to be rude, but my regulars are due pretty soon, and I don't think you want to be here the same time as them."

Cordy smiled at him, turned and walked out without saying another word. She made sure Buffy and the ex were a few feet ahead. Casually, she unlocked her door and tossed the bag inside. "Well, you'd better get out of this part of town. Even with a Slayer it's probably pretty hairy."

"Yeah, thanks for the tip." Xander said sarcastically.

Buffy walked over to the brunette, a concerned look on her face. "Just tell me, is it Angel? That you're getting blood for? Is he okay?"

Cordy looked at the Slayer, and saw that she did worry, and she did care for the vamp. "No, Buffy. Angel is fine. He's not the only vamp in town with a load on his shoulders."

Buffy stepped back and the duo watched silently as Cordy climbed inside and gave a perky wave before peeling away from the curb.

"Was that fun pet?" She jumped about a foot and hit her head on the car ceiling. "Ow." After she made sure she didn't have a concussion, she began smacking Spike. The latter just laughed, infuriating her more. Trying to compose herself, she pulled over and took the keys out before resuming her attack. Spike didn't try fight back, though he did block a few blows. Finally, she had to sit back and catch her breath.

"Was *that* fun pet?"

She looked at him, noting that he resembled a big cat, curled up on the seat and looking very satisfied with himself. "Don't scare me like that again. Please."

"Sorry." Cordy looked at him doubtfully. "I am. It was just too tempting. I know I shouldn't have done it. Dru used to put her hands over my eyes all the time while I was driving. Almost got into some nasty crack ups that way too."

"I bet." She muttered as she smoothly made a turn.

For the first time, Spike got a bearing on his surroundings. "Um. Where are we going ducks?"

Cordy looked over at him "To my house."

"What!!"

"Calm down, nobody's there now, and it's closest to Willie's. Or at least I think so, seeing as how I don't know where you live." She continued- effectively cutting off his protest. "Besides, I want to get this blood in the fridge before it gets too warm."

"Pet?"

"Yes?"

"I've heard that usually you heat up the blood before you drink it."

"Really?"

"Not to sound like a know it all, but yes. Soul boy told me once. When he wasn't Soul Boy."

"Oh. Well, will you be having one bag or two?"

"I'll likely have two, as I haven't fed for a while."

"I got four bags, so the extras can be put in the fridge: one fore breakfast, one for a late lunch and then we can go back to Willie's and you can beat him up."

"Sounds good to me pet, but why are we beating Willie up? I have no complaints, it used to be a favorite pastime, but I can yell threats if I know the reason."

"Oh, he sold me the blood for fifty."

"Fifty dollars!"

"Yep."

"I hate to say it, but you were robbed."

"Yeah, I figured that out. That's why you get to beat him up."

"It'll be a pleasure."

Cordy then realized how bizarre the conversation was. "But- don't kill him, okay?"

Spike sighed and put his hand to his head with a melancholy expression that made her laugh. "Very well, ducks. Because you are so special to me I will try to overcome my animalistic nature and not kill the guy that ripped you off."

"Thank you. I appreciate it. But we're her, so you get to carry your blood into the kitchen while I see if I can find anything to eat. For me."

"Gotcha, pet."


***


Spike didn't say anything as she fumbled for her keys and let them both in. Briefly, very briefly Cordy wondered if when she turned around he'd be grinning at her with a mouthful of fangs. She wondered if vampires, like dogs could smell fear. Deciding they probably could, she turned slowly around and faced him completely.

He was staring at her with a puzzled expression, a small smile quirking the side of his mouth. But there were no fangs, and no growly face. Cordy relaxed, but kept facing him.

"What's wrong pet?"

She tried to smile. "I was just wondering if I was as big an idiot as ever seems to think I am."

Spike stepped closer, and she was acutely aware of a rather becoming dimple on his right cheek. "You mean, calm you down, relax you, earn your trust, lure you back to your house and drain you?"

She swallowed. "Something like that, yeah."

The intense look in his eyes faded, replaced by grin that seemed both charming and reassuring at the same time. "Don't worry luv, I'm not the time to take advantage of a broken heart for a meal."

Feeling considerably braver by his assurances, she twinkled. "Never, ever? You never seduced a woman with the intent to take her blood?"

"Well, maybe once." He amended "But I would have had to have been very hungry."

She laughed then, and the tension was broken as they put away the blood, and remembered they needed some of it. With two chefs in the kitchen, they quickly ran into some obstacles. Especially when trying to figure out the proper way to heat blood.

"I'm telling you, we need to put the bag in a pot with some hot water, and let it heat up gradually."

"And I don't see why I can't just pour the bloody thing in a cup and nuke it."

"Because, Spike it'll cook that way. It'll be all brown and stringy."

He looked faintly disgusted. "Brown and stringy?"

"Yeah, it's pretty gross."

Sighing, Spike backed away from the counter and gestured for Cordy to take over. As she reached for a pot from the overhead rack, he had a thought and grabbed it away from her.

"How do you know that's what'll happen, pet?"

Cordy stopped reaching vainly for the pot and gave him an exasperated look. "Because when we have steak, Maria puts the extra blood in a bowl and fries it up for the dogs after dinner."

"Ew."

"Yeah, that's what I said. They seem to love it, though I think vampires probably have more sensitive tastebuds. Can I have my pot now?" He handed it back to her, and decided to stay out of her way for a while.


****
"Spike?"

Reluctantly, he left the t.v. and went back into the kitchen. It had been over half an hour since he was forced to retire from the kitchen, so he decided that the food was probably ready. His years of experience kept him from charging in and drinking from the source, but it didn't keep his stomach from growling. "You rang?"

Cordy looked up at him as she leaned over the stove. Idly he noticed that tendrils of her hair had fallen from its sloppy bun, and she had to keeping tucking them behind her ears.

"Oh, hi. The water is ready, but I haven't set the table yet. I figured you'd want to cook the blood yourself, so it wasn't too cold or too hot. It sucks to burn your tongue."

"Thanks, pet. Find something suitable to eat?"

She blushed slightly. "Yeah, after turning the kitchen upside down, I decided to go with my first decision." He raised his eyebrow. She handed him a pair of tongs. "New England Clam Chowder. The white kind."

"That was always my favorite too." Cordy smiled before making a graceful exit.

Spike turned to the stove, wary of the gas burners. Carefully brandishing the tongs, he picked up one of the bags and tossed it in the water. The yelp he made was, of course, more out of surprise than pain. He eyed the pot suspiciously before poking the blood bag with the tongs. It had, he conceded been quite a while since he'd been in the kitchen. Realizing that extra precautions were needed, he rummaged through one of the nearest drawers, and triumphantly found and pulled out just the article he was looking for.


***


Cordy had tried to stay out of the kitchen, but it was hard to convincingly set a table without the silverware. Truthfully, she had called Spike back into the kitchen in an attempt to smooth things over. She suspected that he had been offended during their argument about the way the blood should be heated. Quietly, she tiptoed into the kitchen with the intention of heading straight for the eating utensils. However, she felt obligated to ask the question that had been nagging her since she had left him alone. "Um, Spike?"

"Yeah?"

"I was wondering if you wanted some clam chowder too. I can open another can, if you want."

He thought about it for a moment. Human food didn't do anything for the bl

oodlust, but if he had both, that could work. "Sounds good pet. Thanks." Cordy relaxed and allowed herself a small smile. She had been facing the counter so she hadn't seen his appearance. When she turned around, she could barely keep from laughing. Spike was carefully putting a drop of blood on his wrist to test its temperature. But the kicker was the frilly lavender apron with the pink lambs prancing around it's border.


***


The table was simply set, but it was nice enough to add a little atmosphere. Cordy had found a large beer glass for Spike's 'drink', while she sipped coke from an etched glass decanter. They both had bowls of chowder and a plate of parmesan cheese toast rested between them. And if one of them drained half their glass before starting on the food, neither one commented on it.

It seemed that silence would reign supreme until Cordy, unable to take it any more put down her spoon. "How do you like the chowder?"

Spike gave her an easy grin. "I like it a lot pet. It's been a while since I've had it, and I mean to thank you for suggesting it."

She smiled back at him, and they both ate for while, the clinking of spoons and the occasional slurp the only conversation. It was Spike who breached the silence next. "So, what's your opinion on those happenings over in Kosovo? The topic was so random it took her a moment to catch up.

"I think the air raids should continue. It is true that it is only a step away from ethnic cleansing. I think that NATO should lay down firm terms, and stick to them. If we bend too much, they will consider us weak and reluctant to act."

Spike looked at her in amusement. This one wasn't as oblivious as she liked to let people think. "But don't you think that firm terms was what made Germany and Japan resist so long in World War 2?"

"Perhaps. The strength to keep fighting though, was ingrained in the soldiers to begin with. This is an entirely different situation."

"It is?"

"Well, yes."

"How is that, pet?"

"We are not asking for unconditional surrender. But, as much as I don't want to see ground troops in Yugoslavia, it is nearly impossible to win an air war with no military reinforcement." Suddenly she realized that she was dominating the conversation again. "Sorry. I get carried away sometimes."

"Don't apologize ducks. Do you have any idea how refreshing it is to have someone who knows and understands about what's going on in the world to talk to?"

She blushed prettily. "Most guys don't like it when it turns out girls know about things."

"That's because those boys are idiots, and don't like being reminded of it."

"That's the truth. I love history though."

"I can tell."

"I have three Global Affairs/ History classes." she admitted "Well, it's good to be educated in the ways of the world."


***


Two hours went by quickly, and the new friends had gotten half way through the third and been through all the recent wars they could think of. They were analyzing their own and each others personal lives when the clock struck three- thirty. "I'm sorry, Spike. I didn't even think to ask if I was keeping you from anything. If I am, you must be very late."

Spike raised an eyebrow at the sudden awkward flow of speech. "Don't worry about me, pet. I don't have anywhere to go." He had meant to say, 'don't have anywhere to be.' but it had just come out that way. And why not, he argued- it's just as truthful to say that as any other way.

Cordy felt a little pang in her heart as she heard him say the words. It wasn't pity, but it was sympathy, and she saw again a bit of herself in the vampire before. "You can stay here." Her voice went down with the last words, but he could still hear them.

Slowly, not to frighten her, he reached out and grasped one of her slim hands. "Do you mean that luv?"

With renewed determination, she nodded at the same time she said "Yes."

His eyes captured hers but she didn't waver, because- she had seen some small flicker of hope in those blue eyes, and in her heart she knew that it was right. "I have the feeling you don't really know what you've gotten yourself into."

Cordy smiled- a faint wistful smile, and said quietly "Yes, you're probably right. But I have the feeling *you* don't really know what you've gotten yourself into."

He smiled back at her, a smile that matched hers completely. "Y

ou'd better believe it."

"But, at least I know that we're even." "That we are pet." She rose gracefully and stretched before tugging on his hand. "I'd forgotten how late it was. Help me carry the dishes into the kitchen, they can wait until after breakfast tomorrow."

They made quick work of the remaining plates and bowls, and soon Cordy was showing Spike up the stairs. "I hope you don't mind sleeping in my room. I'm too tired to make up a bed tonight, but I will tomorrow."

"Fine by me."

She smiled at him. "I hope you know that's a cover for me not wanting to be by myself."

"I understand completely, pet."

Now's the time when this will come to fruit
All the poppies gonna push up through
And I can see the ground below
The places that I know, disappearing
And I can see the winter fade
I don't feel so afraid it's clearing

Life is only half way in our hands
Years that have passed while I was making plans
And I could never find the words
I always felt absurd, and always outside
But now I know I shouldn't care
There's a song already there
Waiting inside

And I can feel the clock unwind
The parts of me I tied are running
And all the birds are running
And all the birds are in my hand
The laughter that was dead is coming

What a feeling, what a feeling
The laughter that was dead is coming
What a feeling, what a feeling
The laughter that was dead is coming
|

End

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