Spike sauntered into Sunnydale Public Library with a smile for the elderly receptionist, a wink at two teenagers giggling together over a computer screen - probably on a chat room, talking to a pimply no one pretending he was an over age Porsche driver - and a glare at the middle aged man sitting in his seat. When the glare had no effect (though the receptionist was left with a pleasant glow and the girls had transferred their attention from the screen to him for a full five seconds) he sighed theatrically. After choosing a book, he went to sit down near to the children's room.
It was noisier over there, which was why he tended to avoid it, but the rain outside meant that the library was full and seats weren't easy to come by. A casual glance at a brightly coloured poster on the wall told him that he was too old to join the kiddies as this was, 'Story time for under 7's'. Whatever.
Spike liked the library. It stayed open till nine o’clock most nights and though it clashed with the Big Bad image, it was a fact that most vampires who made it past their first decade generally had to do something with their time or else go mad with boredom. He drew the line at knitting, mind you, but books had always been solace and company when he was alive. After the novelty of being turned had worn off, he had taken to stealing them quite often. He never stole from the library; he had some standards, but he did occasionally borrow a book without the technicality of actually checking it out. The lack of an address made getting a ticket tricky. He always returned them too, unlike the selfish bugger who was hanging on to the second book in the trilogy that Spike had been after for ages. Some people had no consideration.
Settling back comfortably, he became absorbed in reading, ‘The Princess Bride’ for at least the twentieth time. "As you wish," he mimicked under his breath. "Huh. That Buttercup and Buffy have a lot in common..."
A particularly loud wave of laughter made him twist his head in irritation towards the open door beside him. Glancing in as he rose to close it, he saw a group of about ten children. They were all sitting on the floor, in front of a young woman in a rocking chair, holding a large illustrated book. The woman looked up with an apologetic smile that froze as she locked eyes with Spike.
Spike shut the door and sat back down but he didn't start to read again. Indecision wasn't an emotion he was familiar with. He acted on instinct and dealt with the consequences as they came, but this was different. The chip was a brake but his engine was still running - technically. Lately he'd begun to feel as if his evil nature was starting to rust through inactivity.
Anyway, evil though he'd been, he'd never killed children. Much. It was different in the early days of course. When kids of five worked in mines and factories, the sentimentality of today was missing. No one gave a toss if there were a few less mouths to feed, no matter how young they were. But vampires could evolve, as did the people around them, or Spike would still be wearing a frock coat. As children had become protected, treasures, his attitude towards them had changed. They became off limits. It was a matter of pride and common sense. The mob in Prague had been all down to Drusilla's desire for children to join her tea parties with Miss Edith. Spike shuddered at the dark memories of that time.
Dragging his thoughts back to the present, he gave the closed door a hard stare. Had it gone quiet in there? He got to his feet, but as he reached for the handle it turned. The children, chattering to each other, filed out and went over to their waiting parents. The door closed behind the last of them and he heard a quiet click as it locked. Spike stood for a moment then shrugged and turned back to his seat. He didn't sit down though - something was still wrong. Nine children had come out, but that one with the bright red hair, where was he? Spike took one last look at the bunch of kids to make sure, then broke into the room with a vampire strength twist of the doorknob.
The little boy was helping to tidy up the books and toys that were scattered around the floor. The woman was close to him on the floor - very close. As Spike entered, her hand was starting to snake around his neck and her features were sliding into game face.
"Think your mum's waiting for you, kid." said Spike coolly.
The woman hissed, making the child look round at her in surprise but by the time he did, she was smiling down at him."Yes, run off now, Tom. Thanks for your help," she said smoothly.
The child stood up, his face showing no awareness of the tension in the room - but he left quickly.
When they were alone the two vampires eyed each other warily. "So, what's the idea then?" asked Spike. "Got a taste for the young uns have you? That's bad."
"I don't understand," she replied. "What do you care? Did you want to share him or something?"
"How old are you?" Spike asked in disgust. "You don't kill like this, a kid, someone who'll be missed in about five minutes; it's too risky. When were you turned?"
"Last week," she admitted, going over to the chair and sitting in it wearily. "I've been doing this volunteer story telling for two years now. Somehow it seemed as if I should do it one last time. They hadn't heard that I was dead, so no one noticed me, and then, I got so hungry, I couldn't help it." Her eyes brimmed with tears but Spike was unmoved.
Striding over to her he planted his knee in her stomach, yanking out a stake from his duster pocket. "Sorry love," he said. "But you're just not safe to keep around. Sunnydale people might be blind but there's limits, lines you just don't cross."
She began to struggle wildly, morphing back into game face, but he had no trouble in holding her down with one hand as he readied the stake.
He'd never really approved of Buffy's habit of punning as she slayed - did she think it was kinder if they died laughing? - but in this case, well, it was irresistible.
Smiling down wolfishly as he plunged the stake into her heart, Spike quoted from the book she'd been reading, ”’My, Grandmother! What big teeth you have!’”
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