Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: Little Bits/The Main Bit
Author: Vashti
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Post New Moon Rising
Summary: Spike spots Oz in a diner. Stuff ensues
Disclaimer: I am not, and never have been, a white male making millions of dollars off people that do not exist.

If I'd only loved you better I'd see your smile again, but what's done is done. Beth Hart

Had a bad day again. She said I would not understand. She left a note and said I'm sorry I had a bad day again. She spilt her coffee, broke a shoe lace. She smeared the lipstick on her face. She left a not and said I'm sorry I had a bad day again. Carl Bell

"Wait up, Pet." Spike stubbed out is cigarette -- only a third of it gone -- and slipped it into his pants pocket, sprinting after him. "Where are you going?"

"Not your pet, Spike."

He snorted. "Y'don't seem to be much of anyone's pet these days, Peaches."

"Not Angel, either."

"Nummy Treat?"

"Xander's taller."

"Lil Bit."

"Right height. Wrong gender."

Spike swore, grabbing the man's shoulder and spinning him around, suddenly angry. "Then what the Hellmouth do you want me to call you?"

He shrugged off Spike's hand -- "On occasion people have been known to use my name" -- turned and walked away.

Spike stopped and stared after him, surprised by the muted anger transmitted through the thin shoulder to his hand. "Oz," he called, starting after him. "Oz, wait up. Where are you going?"

"Not here."

"Obviously," Spike huffed. Catching up with the little man, he drew out the stubbed cigarette and lit it.

"Those things will kill you."

Spike snorted. "Not bloody likely."

Oz drew it from Spike's lips and pressed the glowing end into Spike's pale hand. Spike could hardly draw breath fast enough to accommodate the string of curses, threats, and denigrations of parentage he threw Oz's way. It took Spike twice as long to catch up to him a second time -- this time to exact revenge. Somehow.

"When I get my hands-- hand on you, you white-haired puppy, you're going to wish you were in a bloody kennel!"

The first time Spike saw Oz that night, sitting alone in a starkly lit diner somewhere between LA, Sunnydale and forever, he hadn't quite believed his eyes. The boy had had blue hair, orange hair, a ghastly shade of pink, red, green, streaks and maybe a spot or two, but it had never been white. Spike ran a self-conscious hand through his own blond curls. He knew it wasn't the ghost-white behind the glass -- has last dye-job hadn't hurt that much. But somehow Wolf Boy, and he was sure it was Oz by then, had pulled it off. Although Spike hadn't known that natural redheads could that kind of tan.

Upon closer inspection his roots were blue. It gave Oz's hair a vaguely disquieting similarity to a gas flame. But it was a fairly negligible effect when not being inspected closely -- like when one's hand is being burned by one's own cigarette -- so Spike ignored it.

"Having fun by yourself?"

Oz looked up from the remains of dinner and a cup of fresh coffee. "I've had worse."

With a smile that wandered somewhere between Smirk and Caring, Spike slid into the booth. "Thanks."

"I don't remember inviting you to sit down, Spike."

"You did. Not in so many words of course. Lucky for both of us, all my years among the undead have taught me the finer points of body language."



"What's my body saying now?"

Spike feigned shock. "Oz, not in front of--" He looked over the back of the booth, "Well maybe the truckers wouldn't mind. But what if someone's grandmother were to walk in here lookin' for a midnight cuppa? To think of what she'd see."

Despite himself the corners of Oz's lips lifted in the faint beginnings of a smile.

"That's better." Spike's smile curled around a cigarette.

It was then that Oz had abruptly slid out of the booth and strode out the diner.

"Bloody hell," Spike swore. Pushing past the glass door hard enough to wonder if he'd shattered the thing, Spike called out, "You haven't even paid for your dinner. Never fancied you a thief."

"It's paid for," Oz called over his shoulder, his pace creating more and more distance between them.

Arm singed and still burning with the kind of unique cruelty only burn wounds have, Spike was doubly intent on catching him than before. "Do you have some kind of death-wish?" Spike snarled, yanking Oz around to face him.

He staggered from an unexpected uppercut. "Bollucks! That's it, chip or no chip you are going to--" Spike ducked Oz's next attack and kicked his knees out. "Ah- Hey, no pain. Wait, that's right. You're a bloody werewolf. Even if you aren't half-demon, you're not all human and that's good enough for me." Thumbing his nose he egged Oz on. "C'mon then, let's have a go. Show old Spike here what can of man or beast you are." But he didn't give Oz a chance -- had never had any intention of doing so.

Before he quite knew what had happened, Spike was standing over Oz alternately kicking his kidneys and ribs. And he was panting. Terribly hard. As if any of this had caused him any distress or any more exertion than any other late night activity he might have participated in had he not run into Oz.

And he seemed perfectly okay. Spike. Between kicks -- because he could not quite convince himself to stop -- Spike took stock of his own injuries. (One burn. One bruised chin.) Then he thought about Oz's. At least one bruised kidney. One torn shirt. At least one bruised rib, possibly at least one broken. Assorted greens and oranges that would eventually become blacks and blues. Two bruised knees. One swollen eye. One busted lip. Two loose teeth. Assorted wounds dripping assorted quantities of blood. Unconsciousness. By then Spike was kneeling with Oz in his lap, running narrow fingers over his handiwork.

It was lovely.

Spike picked him up and started the long walk to his car. Oz moaned once then was silent. They were almost home -- Spike's home anyway -- when Oz regained full consciousness. "Where are we?"

"Somewhere between Sunnydale, LA and forever. What's it to you?"

"Why didn't you finish?"

Spike twisted in his seat to look at Oz, slumped in his seat. "Finish what?"

"Me. Why didn't you finish me? Why not . . ." Oz's breath wheezed in his chest, pained and labored.

"You shouldn't talk: you've got a couple of bruised ribs," Spike said quietly.

"I could have been your first fresh meal in a long time."

"That's not funny."

"Wasn't joking."

Spike took a deep breath and let the stagnant smell of liquor, cigarettes and Oz's blood fill him. "You ought to be, mate." He rolled down the windows.

Silence filled the car. Spike parked the DeSoto then helped Oz out of the car. He added sprained ankle to the list and wondered if he had a spare Ace bandage lying around and what exactly Buffy was going to do to him when she found out.

"It's all my fault."

"Now what?" Spike growled, still distracted.

"I should have been there."

Spike ignored him as he helped Oz into his crypt. Suddenly he was a dead weight in Spike's arms as he collapsed.

"It's all my fault."

"Wha--" But finally the words registered. "Ye gods," he said through gritted teeth unsure who, exactly he was more ticked off with: the girl, the boy, or the universe. "It wasn't your bloody fault mate, anymore than it was mine or Buffy's or anyone else's."

"I should have been there."

They were inside when Spike spoke again. "You couldn't have been. We couldn't have been there every minute of every bleeding day. 'Sides, we all thought the chit was better," he added softly, turning away from Oz. His own hurt rose up from the abyss that used to house his soul.

"But I started the ball rolling," Oz said with a certainty that belied his riverbed face. "I left."

"And you came back."

"But I didn't stay. I should have stayed."

The last bit was so nearly incomprehensible that Spike turned to the boy. His face was hidden in his hands. Spike took a moment to silently curse his government chip, to curse Angelus and Drusilla and Darla -- in that order -- to curse SoCal and Sunnyhell and little blondes with little friends. He felt the sick, twisting grief that he had experience so few times in his long life. Thrice exactly. He could count it on one hand. Women. " 'Frailty, thy name is woman,'" he murmured hand to his forehead, wondering if he should call Buffy.


He turned at Oz's horrific keening. "Stop that!"


It was then that Spike noticed the scars on Oz's arms. He hadn't seen them at the funeral, but it had been unseasonably cool and they had all dressed appropriately. He strode over to the boy. "What's this?" he demanded, yanking on Oz's forearm.

Oz stared at it blindly.

"Answer me!"

"The wolf. It's inside me all the time."

"What does that have to do with anything? See this?" He let go his humanity. "If I weren't so vain I'd look like this. The bloody demon isn't in me, it is me. All the time. And I can't even harm a little hair on a bloody bunny rabbit's head. Think about it too hard and this stupid chip goes off. Do you see me mutilating myself because of it?" Spike hadn't meant to go on, but he felt better.

"I left because it's in me. I killed her."

"No," Spike drew the word out with a sadistic twist. "The little twit killed herself and saved you the trouble."

Oz snarled and pushed Spike away violently.

"It's the truth, mate. You're going to have to learn to live with it," he said from the floor. "We all are," he added. "And those," he said, indicating Oz's scars, "aren't the answer. Because I need another one of you on what's left of my conscious." Spike rose gingerly.

"If I hadn't gone, if I had learned to control the wolf better--"

"If, bloody if. You want to 'If' yourself to the grave be my guest. There a nice set of caskets down below that might be your size. Fancy fitting out for one?" Spike sneered. "It bloody well wasn't your fault, now get over it!"

"Then whose was it?" Oz demanded, rising to his feet. "It has to be someone's." His quiet intensity filled the crypt.

They stood, more than an arm's length apart, staring at each other, both convinced that he was right. He had to make the other see that his was the right ans--

"You want to know whose fault it is?" Spike asked.


"It is hers," he carefully enunciated.

"No it's mine," Oz roared. "It's mine, it's mine, it's mine. . ." He collapsed in on himself. His anger had left as suddenly as it had come, and Oz felt loose and empty without it.

Spike stared at the boy at his feet -- An adult A boy -- not quite knowing what to do with him. He pulled out the half-smoked cigarette and lit it. Good work Red, he thought. The flare of his match made him realize how dark it was in the crypt. Somehow he didn't think Oz minded. Spike crouched, resting on the balls of his feet, slowly inhaling hot-sweet smoke. He let it ruminate in his lungs, fill them, kill anything that might still be alive.

And he watched Oz.

One part of Spike's brain registered Oz's pain. It understood that he was an emotional wreck. The pillars had been torn down and the coliseum was still falling around his head; marble goddesses were falling from their pedestals. And Oz just lay in the midst of it all, letting it fall. Spike understood that. Another part of Spike's brain also understood that Oz was easy pickings, an ideal meal, a sacrifice ready for slaughter. Spike watched Oz with cold predator eyes noting the shivering, the wracking shoulders and the incomprehensible mumblings. He could even make out the words imissyouilovesorrysosorryimso when he bothered to try.

He took another pull of his cigarette. He waited. He felt the smoke bleed through his lungs into what passed for his bloodstream. Anything taking a bit of him now would taste cold red ashes. He waited.

Oz's shuddering subsided. His weeping became dry sobs, became heavy sniffles, became an emptiness that comes when neither the mind nor the body can find energy to cry for anything. Spike watched Oz slowly pull whatever pieces of himself were handy back together. It was an imperfect job.

"She was selfish."

Oz looked up, took a good sniff and came up only with himself. "What?" He was still disoriented.

"She was selfish," Spike repeated just as carefully, with the same stillness as he had sized up and discarded drinking Oz dry. "Willow wasn't good enough for your love. Not for Buffy's or Xander's or Dawn's or Giles' even mine." The smoke he had held within curled out his nose and mouth as he spoke.

Oz was fascinated. "What are saying Spike?" The words, the smoke curling from the vampires orifices . . .fascinating. A fascinating dream.

Spike studied the glowing butt of his cigarette before reiterating. "If she loved us-- Or let's not include me. If she loved you, all of you, she wouldn't have done this. She wouldn't have killed herself. But a moment of stark depression comes and what does she do? Does she go to Buffy? No. Does she go to Xander? No. Does she even go to her bloody counselor? Not at all. Instead she plans, and she thinks. She figures, well if I kill myself here, in the foyer, there'll be less of a cleanup because it won't get on the carpeting. What a solution, I get to be free and I do it as cleanly as possibly. Surely the gang will love me for that.

"Me, me, me. Never once did any of you figure into her plans. She hurt too much so better for her to escape and leave you all with the mess than for her to be an adult and fix her own life. Or even let you lot help her fix it. Isn't that what friends are for?" Spike took another drag of his cigarette. "At least it was Xander that found her. Don't think Buffy or Dawn could have handled it. Course the whelp's not been the same since. And you call me evil," he murmured.

Oz had slowly crept up on Spike during his quiet tirade. A piece of twisted in hand, he was ready to bludgeon Spike for his blasphemy. Willow had suffered. She had suffered so much that she couldn't believe that death wouldn't be better. And Spike, Spike of all creatures, dared to judge her.

But Spike wasn't seeing the crypt anymore. He didn't appear to see much of anything in the real world. His face glistened with tear-tracks and he was pulling on a cigarette long burned down to the filter.

Oz put down the bar and sat beside Spike, brushing against him gently. The vampire turned with a start. "When did you get here?" he asked the boy.

"Coupl'a days ago."

"You hear about Willow?"

"Yeah. I was at the funeral."

"Don't remember you there."

"I remember it very well."

"You don't look very good."

"I don't eat much anymore. Not hungry."

"Funny. Me too. Do you sleep nights?"

"Not really. Sleep days?"

"Almost never."

"Do you have a cigarette?"

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