A jewel case cracked under Buffy's shoe.
She picked it up, and the first thing that caught her eye was the song title EVER FALLEN IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE (YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH)?
"Uh, yeah?" she answered in her empty room.
She found the insert of the tape Spike was making. Sure enough, one of the songs he'd written in his crazy punkrock vampire handwriting was EvEr faLLen?? BUzzCocKS. It was the second to last song, right before something indecipherable by the Ramones. Curious about the lyrics, she popped the CD in and listened closely.
You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel like dirt... and I'm hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you... and that's worse
The singer repeated:
Ever fallen in love with someone, ever fallen in love
In love with someone, ever fallen in love
In love with someone you shouldn't've fallen in love with
"So what are you trying to say?" she asked with a smirk.
I can't see much of a future
Unless we find out what's to blame... what a shame
And we won't be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same
"Yeah," she said glumly to the stereo. "I know." She hurried downstairs and out of her house, headed for her last hope.
* * *
"Buffy." Riley cut her off at the front gate.
Perfect. Just what I don't need right now. "Riley, I so don't--"
"Buffy, look. I'm, I'm sorry." He held his hands out in surrender. "Can we just talk for a minute?"
She sighed. "Sure." They started to walk.
"I acted crazy today."
Buffy agreed silently.
"I plead temporary insanity. I just didn't know how to react after..." he couldn't continue.
"Look." She exhaled heavily. "I know this thing with Spike seems--"
"You don't have to explain."
"There was a part of me that knew you'd be with him," he admitted. "The same part of me that always suspected I never had a chance as long as he was gunning for you."
"'Gunning' for me? Riley, I didn't always feel this way about him--"
"You told me yourself once. When you met him, you met your match."
"I was talking about fighting skill!"
"But it's not just fighting skill, is it? It's everything. I mean, the sparks that've always flown between you two? It's all, 'stand back!'" He stood back to illustrate. "No," he continued, "I can't compete with fate."
"But that's not what I came here to say."
He inhaled and exhaled. "I'm so sorry about everything you've been through. Your Mom... I can't imagine how awful that must've been for you."
"Yeah," she said, eyes downcast.
"But down in the Amazon, I went through a lot too. A hundred men, some of them close friends of mine," he swallowed before he continued, "were ripped to shreds. Eaten alive. I was the last man standing -- and not standing very well."
Buffy noticed his limp for the first time. "Oh. God, I'm so sorry."
"I don't want you to be sorry. I just want you to know that I understand. And I can take it. I've been through my own kind of hell and I can accept the fact that you've moved on." He reconsidered. "Well, now that I've gotten the wanting to kill him part out of the way."
She chuckled. "Right."
"I'm going back to Iowa tomorrow. I had to make things right before I left."
Buffy smiled at him. "I'm glad."
"I just hope that he makes you happy."
"He does," she answered honestly, then muttered, "Moreso when I know where he is."
"You're not planning on using that on him, are you?" He pointed to the axe in her hand.
"Oh. No. This is for any Meshuggenah that dares cross my path."
"Yeah. Long story."
* * *
The smell of decaying fish was particularly strong down this dock.
The harbor was always one of Buffy's least favorite patrol spots. Smell not withstanding, there was always the unsavory possibility of being thrown headlong into the ocean. Not fun.
But she wasn't patrolling. She was looking for Spike, and no stone would be unturned.
The one bar she hadn't tried was down here. A converted warehouse chock full of drunk fishermen and topless dancers. She'd never had the pleasure of entering, and she wasn't too excited about the prospect tonight.
She didn't expect him to have come all the way down here in daylight, but it was worth a try.
The first thing she saw was the painted sign scrawled with THE FISH TANK illuminated by a single halogen lamp. Guess you don't need much curb appeal if you're offering up naked chicks, Buffy reasoned.
The second thing she saw was her quilt.
Pink and blue embroidery on a white background, haphazardly piled on the concrete right near the entrance.
"Motherfucker," she said in disbelief.
She marched up to the door, intent on pulling Spike out of there by his ear.
"Can I help you?" the large bouncer asked, intercepting her.
"I'm looking for someone," Buffy said. She noticed a very tan girl in a tiny yellow latex dress sitting beside the bouncer, cigarette in hand.
"Sorry. You can't go in there," the bouncer said.
"You don't understand. I'm not asking," she said, ready to push past him.
"This has got to be Buffy," the girl in latex announced with a husky laugh.
Buffy raised an eyebrow.
"You're looking for the hot Billy Idol-type with the English accent, right? The one who thinks he's a 'vampire'?" she asked, adding air quotes and a guffaw.
"Unfortunately," the Slayer grumbled.
"He left about an hour ago. Said something about catching the sunrise at the beach. I tried to tell him it rises in the East, but--"
Buffy was already sprinting toward the beach.
"Hope you find him before the sun comes up," the girl called after her. She laughed and looked at the bouncer. "Vampire -- get it?"
* * *
A hearty Tarzan yell came blaring from the beach.
Spike. Buffy's search was over. But her night, apparently, was not.
She made out the silhouette of a tall lifeguard chair and a man hanging from the side of it, beating his chest ape-style while holding a bottle of what had to be whiskey or some equally potent drink.
"Pshew! Pshew! Pshew!" Spike was making shooting sound effects and swatting at imaginary flying objects. "Stay away! She's mine!"
Buffy approached slowly, amused by the display.
Another round of noisy shots were fired. "AAH!"
Spike began his death dance, and then slipped in earnest, plummeting to the sand below with a hard pop.
"It wasn't aeroplanes," he pronounced like a drunken newsreel announcer. "It was beauty killed the beast!" He held up his bottle in emphasis, then dropped it beside his discarded leather coat.
"Okay, King Spike--"
"Thass right!" he announced to no one, not realizing she was there. "Buffy killed the Spike!"
"No," she corrected. "You never gave me the chance."
He stopped. "Whassat?"
"It's your girlfriend. Buffy. The one who should kill you after all you put me through today."
He was still on his back on the sand. "I don't have a girlfriend."
"Well, what the heck am I then?" She began to pick him up. He resisted.
"Buffy. Slayer. Spicy Buffalo wings. Chili sauce. Onion dip..."
She ignored his prattling. "Translation," she said. "Tasty American girlfriend."
"Tasty... yeah..." Then he blinked at her. "How'd you find me?"
"A little birdie with enormous tits told me you might be here."
He laughed. "Thas funny. Never saw a little birdie wif..." He realized what she meant. "Right."
"And later I'll be kicking your ass for that," she said, then tried pulling him up again.
"What're you -- leave me 'lone." He flattened himself in the sand.
"Spike, this is no time to revisit your terrible twos."
"Well, preferably never. But mostly when the sun's not gonna come up and burn you to death!"
"Fuck the bloody sun!"
"Spike, get the hell up!"
"Why do you care what happens to me?"
"Because I'm in love with you, you dumbass!"
He stopped, lifted his head, and squinted at her. "You're not real." His head flopped down again.
"Spike." She straddled him. "I'm real. I'm the tasty girlfriend who loves you."
"If this is another bloody dream--" He reached out and pinched her.
"Ow! You're not supposed to pinch me, you idiot!" She pinched his nipple.
"See? Not a dream," she said.
He eyed her suspiciously. "Did the sajuggernauts get you?"
"Wha happened to soldierblob?"
"He's going back to Iowa tomorrow."
Spike stopped to reflect. "He said you don't love me."
"He was wrong."
"How can you love me? I'm evil."
Buffy sighed. "Ever fall in love with someone you shouldn't've fallen in love with?"
He smiled. "Think I know that one."
"It's not a bad song. As far as lame punk music goes."
"C'mere," he said, and pulled her down for a kiss. Just as she got close enough to his mouth, she whimpered and fainted on top of him.
Something gurgled behind them.
Spike looked over Buffy's head. One Zuxugna demon stood there. Behind him, an army of hundreds.