No Vacancy by Kindred

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Alternative S3 'Anne'. After sending Angel to hell, Buffy disappears into anonymity in a dusty Californian town until a little piece of Sunnydale finds her...

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Chapters 1-3

A familiar piercing pain shot through her big toe. It was almost as exacting as her alarm clock. Big toe pain meant two hours to go in her shift.

She had switched over to nights and weekends at the restaurant but also accepted double shifts regularly. The mindless routine was helpful and there was no problem staying late.

She'd rather work weekends anyway as sleep was minimal these days and her social life was non-existent. Work was what she clung to. Work made sense and avoiding the pinches and accidental touches of the local male population was mildly diverting. Besides, she'd already counted the tiny violets on the faded wallpaper in her room.

Anything was better than that.

The polyester uniform with apron was not a problem. It was easier if people saw her as a role. She began to believe her name was 'Honey', 'Waitress', or 'Blondie'. They sounded just as plausible as 'Anne' did.

"Anne, table seven needs a menu."

"On it Millie," Buffy nodded to the older woman standing at the kitchen pass through and closed the cash drawer. Millie picked up her four heavily laden plates and turned toward her customers. She winked at Buffy with a wrinkled eyelid varnished blue.

Buffy began her familiar ritual: pencil in hand and over the page on the order pad. She grabbed a menu from the counter rack. Her feet took her to table seven without even looking up.

"There you go, sir--" She stilled as her hand held out a laminated menu card. Black lacquered fingertips took the menu.

"Evening Miss...Anne, is it?" Spike stared at the happy face name tag on her left breast.

Buffy's throat dried completely. The small restaurant was packed. It was game night for the local football team and the restaurant would be humming until closing. The team won this evening and everyone was in a celebratory mood. Buffy blinked with exhaustion and a general annoyance that Spike was here, in the restaurant and at her table.

She hadn't done any slaying related activities for months. All that mess was left behind. Duty and obligation were packed away with the pain of what she had done.

This sleepy little California town was football, Millie's pies and the ancient drive-in everyone fought to keep open for one more season. It was a haven from just the sort of riffraff sitting across from her looking intently at the nutritional selections.

Buffy exhaled heavily. Unsure of how to proceed she retreated to her routine. "We're out of the corn chowder and the cherry pie but all the rest is available." Spike's mouth quirked to a tight grin as he scrutinized the lengthy list of home made pies available.

"You bake these pies, love?" he asked teasingly.

Just give me a stake. " That would be Millie. This is her place. Did you miss the neon sign out front?" Buffy's face was implacable. Spike shifted in his seat.

"I'll take the raspberry-blueberry with whipped cream," he stated evenly.

"You're gonna need to pay for it," she said, knowing full well that vampires had no use for money.

Spike flashed a thick money clip from his pocket at her. Another heavy sigh accompanied her curt pivot. She walked to the counter and took the raspberry-blueberry pie from the lower display shelves. It was a wonderland of pastry behind slanted glass that was dotted with the nose prints of local children.

A large piece of pie found its way onto a small white dessert plate. Buffy shook the whipping cream can with venom. Her eyes trailed over the crowd and landed on Spike.

A few of the regular patrons were staring at his obvious fish-out-of-water-ness. A long leather coat, black fingernails, platinum hair and an indecipherable facial expression were a novelty next to the sweat stained farmer's caps, cotton dresses, and the impossibly blue denims of the local teens.

He couldn't have looked more dead among those sun kissed folks had he been lying in a coffin at table seven. It was a surreal and ethereal scene. Perhaps something Goya or Brueghel might have painted if they had come to the fertile fields of California.

Millie sidled up to Buffy as she picked up the dessert plate. "That one will be a big tipper," Millie pronounced into Buffy's ear. "I know people, Anne. Look at that baby face. Probably a movie person up from Los Angeles."

"Baby face? Millie, that could be a serial killer," Buffy spoke in a flat tone.

"Shoulders back Anne and put on your pretty smile, I bet he tips you a tenner for the pie." Buffy groaned silently. That's all she needed to do, flex her chest at Spike. Ugh.

The girls in the restaurant had given her plenty of advice on how best to encourage big tips from the customers without appearing to be the skank of the month. It was a wholesome dance of smiling, juggling plates and genuine friendliness.

Millie winked at her again and waved her ferociously plucked eyebrows high and wide. She turned to a regular at the counter. "Hey Duane, what's shakin'?" Millie oozed the liquid smile of seduction known to waitresses nationwide.

Buffy walked back to Spike's table with the pie. She deposited it in front of him and then caught Millie looking at her from the counter.

"Coffee... Sir?" Her voice strained.

"No thanks love, keeps me up nights." Spike wrinkled his nose at her.

Slowly Buffy became aware that she held her pencil like a stake. Her feet separated automatically readying for battle. Adrenalin coursed through her body, throbbing noticeably in her big toe and temples. Spike acknowledged her readiness.

"You gonna let me have my pie, pet? Or do we throw down right here and give the locals a real show." Spike's tight eyes met Buffy's; he could go either way. It was up to her.

"Just eat, pay up and leave. Preferably the state." She turned and left him to his pie.

Millie was wrong. Spike left her a fifty.

Chapter 2

At 11:13 p.m. Buffy waved to Millie and exited by the front door. The air was crisp and Buffy could see her breath. The main strip was peppered with a few pick-up trucks at the far end. They hovered around the 24-hour truck stop. That was Millie's only competition in the town.

It was always a brisk walk down the road to her room at the local motel. Her legs were bare but she couldn't stand nylons working next to that kitchen. It was as hot as a forge.

Spike stepped lazily out from the alley beyond the small tailor's shop and dry cleaners. She stopped abruptly and looked at him. Stakes were no longer part of her wardrobe accessories. She wondered whether or not she could decapitate him with just her elbow.

"What now? You want your tip back?" She spoke with contempt.

"No pet, that's yours. You getting stock options to put up with those yokels?" His voice was neutral. A snort escaped Buffy's nostrils. She sighed deeply wondering how long she'd have to soak in her tub after beating his ass into pulp.

"That was one terrific piece of pie, Anne," he said with satisfaction and a step toward her.

"Shut up," Buffy twisted her lips sourly.

"I know the world didn't end and all Slayer but there's still lots more evil doers out there. I don't think sleepy little Mayberry here quite reaches the heights of Angelus." Buffy shot her fist at him and he dodged it easily. "Ooh, reflexes are a bit rusty. What do you know? How convenient for me." Spike bounced on the balls of his feet, lithe and loose, dancing like a prizefighter.

Buffy swung again and clocked him. He fell back and giggled, shaking his head.

"I stand corrected, apparently thick polyester and slinging lard doesn't quite dim the Slayer's fists."

"Shut your stupid mouth!"

"Ooh Slayer, please, such rough talk. I 'd almost think you weren't happy to see me." Buffy remembered that sneer. She wanted to peel it from his lips and grind it under her waitress footwear.

"Aaagghh!" It wasn't the most coherent response but it was the quickest off her tongue. He countered with a giddy giggle.

They began to fight in earnest. Spike blocked her first few jabs. Her hand found a loose metal garbage can lid and smashed it into his face. Blood trickled down his nose and over a boyish grin.

He licked the blood slowly from his lips. "And here I thought we had a truce, Slayer. Didn't we do a pinky shake and everything?" Buffy kicked him in the head, pivoted and smashed his cheek with her elbow. "Oooh, yeah, kitty wants to play, that's my kitty." Spike kicked her solidly in the ribs.

"I'm not your kitty. I'm not your friggin' anything. Just crawl back to wherever you and Drusilla slithered off to and STAY DEAD!"

Something volatile flared behind Spike's eyes. He grabbed her lapels and head butted her. Roaring with rage he threw her to the end of the alley. She got to her feet dazed and slipped over the low fence and down into a rear parking lot. Spike flew after her in pursuit.

"Oh, is that it Spike?" Buffy taunted with an expression of faux sincerity on her face. "Drusilla pick some other shmuck to go to the formal with?" A quick left jab followed by a solid right hook collided with his head.

"Shut up, bitch." He countered with a furious arching left hook, which she dodged.

"Hit a nerve huh? Dumped by Drusilla? I never figured she'd have taste after all."

Spike's eyes flashed yellow. He flew at her snarling, feet flying into her chest and fists clawing at her torso.

"If you tear my uniform I'll never get my deposit back." Buffy's face seethed in a molten undulation.

"And it would be such a shame to deny the world the pleasure of seeing you wearing that fetching potato sack." The demon's face smirked at her as his fists found her chin and cheek in rapid succession.

"SHUT UP!" Buffy stood toe to toe with him trading hateful crushing blows.

"Nice to see some things never change, your verbal jousting is just as dismal as I recall." Buffy kicked at him but Spike grabbed her foot and twisted it, spinning her sideways. She rolled on the pavement and scrambled to her feet, quickly checking her skirt.

"That's motor oil, you used bag of blood. I'll NEVER get that stain out!" Her upper lip quivered vigorously. Spike could barely contain his amusement. He was practically at gleeful.

It had been a while since he had such an enjoyable encounter. Toe to toe with the Slayer, dancing and dodging with feints and fists and feet. Yeah, this is what he yearned for, what he got up off the sarcophagus for, what he was bloody well made for. Smashing and bashing and relishing that delightful look of repulsed exasperation on her teeny tiny face.

Oh yeah, this was living.

Charging with histrionic possession like some demented banshee, Buffy tackled him and began pummeling him from a position perched on his chest. "You stupid, stalking vampire! Take your stupid face and go be dead somewhere ELSE." Spike reared up and threw her off of him with a tidy snicker. That only increased her rage. She flew back at him with a vengeance. The heel of her palm smashed his chin. He countered with a solid punch to her ribs and then another to her cheek.

"I'm flattered Goldilocks, didn't know you missed me so much." Buffy's head snapped sideways, she shook herself to maintain focus. She gritted her teeth in mindless fury and punched him. Hard concussive blows hit their target periodically. Spike dodged several blows with a self satisfied grin on his lips.

Buffy kept her facial expression clenched with rage in order not to betray her own emotions. She was enjoying herself as well. It had been a long time since she'd had a good fight and pummeling Spike was always enjoyable.

Spike watched her closely. Her movement fascinated him. Spike noticed before Buffy was aware. Her swings slowed slightly and her angles of trajectory were haphazard at best. She was out of shape. Her shoulders and hip ached and her big toes were pounding a percussive rhythm that would rival any marching band.

No training made the Slayer a tasty target. She was fighting on the fumes of pure adrenalin: fast and hard and petering down to honest non supernatural exhaustion. Spike figured he was probably the first demon ever to pass through this dusty town. That meant the Slayer hadn't met a combatant since Angelus.

A moment's miscalculation caused Buffy to slip on a lump of something gooey. For the first time since she began slaying her storied reflexes faltered almost imperceptibly. Spike caught her fiercely and held her up off the ground. He didn't anticipate this result so soon but he wasn't going to squander it either. This one was a competent adversary, and well worthy of the death he would give her.

He wanted to enjoy his victory and he thought briefly about crowing into the wind. This was an achievement. This was a pinnacle most demons never even imagined, another slayer was his. His pompous self congratulatory celebration stopped when he looked into her eyes.

They were clouded and far away, her breaths heavy and slowing. There was no surrender in her countenance, just exhaustion. Spike had tasted acquiescence from two slayers. He remembered that look, the yen for death, the deep and intimate yearning to discover the answers to their questions. There had been an acceptance, an embrace even, of what he could offer them shining in their defeated eyes. They were the two most intimate experiences of his life. He wanted to feel that again.

Buffy gave him nothing but the sigh of a tired waitress, the silent cliched mantra of 'I'll be right with you'. She wouldn't even let him kill her properly. There were rules to this game, even Spike knew that. She raised her heavy hands and merely touched him above his waist, her breath the only sound between them in the night air.

She waited for the final strike but it did not come. What could he possibly be waiting for? Unbeknownst to Spike at that moment Buffy was truly ready to close her eyes and rest. The darkness wasn't calling to her so much as the quietness. The feeling didn't last long but it happened and she tasted it. It had the flavor of refuge, of home and her mother's forgiving arms. Just then she would have welcomed his embrace and his fangs and the blessed silence with gratitude.

For his part Spike was thrown off by her utter lack of enthusiasm for her own death. He was stunned by the dreary state of her defenses. This was the slayer he'd fantasized killing over and over again? It did not reflect well on Spike that his nemesis was in less than top form. In this, as in most matters, ego considerations were paramount. This bitch was the most diabolical creature ever devised.

"What the fuck is this?" Spike spat with disgust. "You need to fight me Slayer so I can conquer you, not wipe you away like soddin' pie crumbs." He dropped her to her feet like she was so much garbage. The demon visage faded to a fašade of bitter dregs.

See Spike? You'll never kill her. She's nothing, helpless in your grasp, and still you can't do it. Drusilla's torturous voice grated through his mind.

"Can too, you fucking bitch. I'll drain her. I'll--" Spike saw an absent tear drop from Buffy's dulled right eye. He morphed and realigned his human face almost in one stroke. "FUCK!" His roar echoed off the surrounding buildings. He couldn't do it. His mind raced. A near catatonic slayer really disrupted Spike's world view.

He knew the way of the world, how things worked and revisions were especially unwelcome. The slayer was a summit to be conquered, end of story. His fingers began to twitch. He needed to snap her out of whatever uninteresting crap had possessed her. She wasn't going to weasel out of her own death, not if he had anything to say about it.

Chapter 3

Nicotine scented fingers snapped in front of her face.

"Hey-- You in there? Slayer?" He peered into her impenetrable human mask. "This is pathetic. You're a fucking basket case. Have some pride for fuck's sakes," his voice grated, bitter with disgust. "Yep, that's bloody well perfect that is, just the kind of fucked up bitch I'd be saddled with..." His voice trailed off into grumbling indecipherable speech.

Unable to think of a quick solution, he pulled a flask of whiskey from beneath his coat lining. He unscrewed the lid and took a long needed draw. The liquid sliced down his throat on a familiar serpentine pathway. Yes, okay, that was something that made sense. Alcohol was not the best solution, but it could help pass the awkward and lengthening lull in the would be slaughter.

His irritability found a balm in agitated pacing and intermittent muttering. The click of his boots on the pavement was little help to his current problem. He stopped, twisted his mouth and offered Buffy the alcohol. She regarded him warily.

"Twelve year old whiskey pet, not cyanide," he held the bottle out and waited for a decision. Buffy stood there staring. She finally blinked and accepted his offering. A mouthful of burning liquid bled slowly down her throat. She convulsed, opened her mouth and took in a huge gasp of air.

"Okay. That's better, into the land of the living, good." Spike took the flask and another drink. What the fuck was wrong with her? This was not working out at all the way he had thought. He stepped back and leaned casually against a low stone wall that bounded one side of the small parking lot. His jaw flexed as the perfect opportunity passed. Maybe he could get drunk with her and bitch about all their bad old times together. Spike did not have clue one of how to spend an evening in a town that tucked into bed at eleven o'clock. There wasn't even the hope of a midnight snack. The streets were deserted in a way that disturbed even Spike. He held out the flask. Buffy stood dumbly and took the silver bottle and another swig.

"You want to continue, pet? Because I can put this off for a while until you're you again, unless you particularly want to die in this fabulous fuel and piss soaked parking lot." He looked to her for any reaction at all. "It's up to you, Slayer. As for myself, I'm not really that interested in drowning a kitten in a puddle, to tell the plain truth of it. Couldn't really brag about that now, could I?" He offered a tight sour smile that looked more like a fist.

He could kill her so easily. She was pitiable and out of condition. All he need do was edit out a few details and become an even greater legend than he already was and no one would be the wiser. But that was the sticking point. He would always know the truth.

He wanted her blood, he wanted her death, but he had standards. A clean kill was what he wanted. There would be no asterisk beside Buffy Summers' name on his dance card. She was his and he would have her right and proper.

Spike wasn't Angelus, he with the narcissistic masturbatory world domination fixation. Spike was a sportsman: clean kills were the object and not slayers in a barrel. His first two slayers were worthy opponents. They knew how to die. This sorry excuse in front of him? He'd teach her himself if he had to, make her worthy of her own death. This one needed proper training from a master who could keep her corralled and not some Watcher windbag who misplaced her so easily.

Buffy's head began to swim. She came in early that day to cover Jolene's shift and then did her own. She had an egg salad sandwich on her break but that was hours ago. It was almost eleven thirty. She felt the alcohol flush her cheeks in the cool air.

She saw his lips moving. He was still talking. God, does he ever shut up? Pure demon, through and through, that's what he was. Talking her to death would be the messier, pain filled option. At last she heard her own empty voice.

"I need to sleep," she said absently and stood up, seemingly oblivious to the vampire who had offered her death. Mentally assessing the correct direction she started walking out of the parking lot. Spike stood to accompany her.

"Where are we hanging our polyester these days, Slayer?" His tone shifted to conversational.

"Go away. Come back tomorrow. I'll stake you then," she tried to achieve her old sassy slayer vocal arrogance. Nothing registered on his face so she had no reflection of how she actually came across. Her balance wavered and she put her hands out to steady herself. Alcohol never had been much of a factor in her life and Spike's whiskey churned wickedly in her empty stomach.

His strong hand found her shoulder in an attempt to steady her. "Get off, you idiot!" Buffy jerked herself away from him with considerable force and fell back hard on the pavement. "Ow." There was some pain in her voice but mostly the sudden shock of a loss of balance.

"Fuck, this is a public place," Spike complained. "I can't be seen with a half-assed slayer. What the bloody hell is wrong with you, Summers? Suck it up already." He yanked her to her feet and clamped an arm securely around her waist. They began walking. "One foot in front of the other," he said with icy condescension. "That's right, pet, your Mom would be so proud." They wound themselves back onto the street.

"Where?" Spike asked. Buffy started walking. She had little choice but to accept the muscular form next to her as he held her with an iron grip. She concentrated on getting back to her room. It was the only solution that entered her mind. All would be well if she could only get to her room. Then she would figure out what to do with this growth on the side of her body.

"You got any booze, Slayer? 'Cause I figure we're gonna need some more alcohol right quick."


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