The Believer in the Skeptic
Temperance watched Spike and Angela stare at each other. Prolonged eye-contact, no movement, minimal blinking. Classic non-verbal power struggle. Spike's casual slouch was gone, replaced with a straight spine and a wary interest. Angela's lips were turned up. An indication of dominance.
Spike was the first to speak, surrendering the fight. “Got somethin' you wanna ask, love?”
“C'mon. No point in the act. Bren just confirmed it.”
Spike relaxed back into his alpha male sprawl. Temperance offered him the bottle. He shook his head.
“You're sharp, pet.”
“Didn't you hear? I help Mulder and Scully solve crimes.”
A pop culture reference. Angela wanted her to look blank, say I don't know what that means.
But she did know what that meant. Booth had explained it to her once: it was a television show following two FBI agents as they solved “supernatural” crime together. And refused to admit they were in love. That's what he'd said, that they were “in love,” as if it was an absolute fact. Why did everyone assume that just because two people were partners—
“What, exactly, do you do for the dream team?”
“Right. So, Angela the Artist, tell me how you sussed out my little secret. And...” His voice dropped, “...why you're not real
anxious to be somewhere else?” He tilted his head and flashed his entirely human teeth at Angela.
“Well, first of all, the outfit. It's pretty retro. You're too young—well, you look too young—to be reliving those particular glory days. Your fashion sense is stuck in the eighties for some reason, and I'm guessing it's because you died in them.”
Spike laughed. “Not quite.”
“The rest is simple. You said something about a slayer on the phone, then that you'd already died, and at the end there something about being 'a pile of ash.' You practically broadcast it.”
“S'pose I did. Thing is, not many people are tuned t'a that pa'ticular frequency.”
“And to answer your last question, I chose not to run screaming from the room because, whatever I may say, Bren isn't stupid, or suicidal, and she clearly isn't afraid of you. That, and, if you are
dangerous, the running would just make you chase me.”
Temperance couldn't help feeling that Angela wouldn't mind if Spike chased her.
Spike smirked at her friend. “That's not all, though. But I'll let it go. What I really want to know isn't how you know about vampires. I want to know why you believe
it. 'Cause the thing is, most people don't believe that sorta stuff. Most people won't
believe it, even if it's starin' them in the face.”
Angela smirked back at him. Temperance was starting to feel that she was intruding somehow.
“Let's just say I have reason to believe there's more to the world than meets the eye.”
The corner of his mouth turned up. One eyebrow rose. He waited.
Temperance poured another drink and stared at it. It was irresponsible to drink this much.
Angela shifted, breaking eye contact with Spike. So this time he'd won.
On the other hand, it was also irresponsible to meet a vampire in a bar, alone. Brennan reached for her drink, but Angela was there first, sliding it smoothly across the table.
“Angela?” she said, her voice a little rough. “What are you—”
Angela stared at the drink. Stared the way she stared at paintings. No, the way Temperance stared at a skeleton—like she expected it to tell her something.
She felt off balance. She wanted her drink. No, she didn't. She just wanted Angela to stop staring at it. Nothing was happening. Nothing should happen. Why did Angela look like she expected something to—
The whiskey started to ripple. Small ripples at first, as if tiny fish were moving below the surface. Then the ripples stopped, and the waves started. Small, round waves of golden liquid, up and down, up and down, but not a drop out of place, waves as smooth as molten glass that moved with the freedom of liquid. It was as if the molecules in her drink had fused into one connected mass, and it was breathing. Temperance wasn't.
Then the golden mass started to rise, out of the glass and into the air, still moving softly to its own internal tide, pulsing upwards until it reached the level of Brennan's nose. She could smell the alcohol wafting off it, and see right through it, through the golden waves and all the way to Angela's small, satisfied smile. Then Angela moved her head—the most delicate little drift, and the mass floated gently over to the open mouth of the bottle, stretched and molded itself into a perfect cylinder—and dropped down into its original home with a clean little “plop.”
Angela patted her shoulder. “I think maybe you've had enough.”
Spike snorted. “A witch, huh? Couldna just come out and said it?”
“That was more fun.”
Spike and Angela were smiling at each other. Brennan felt very cold, and very alone.
She glanced at the whiskey bottle. Something began to rise, up through her stomach and into her chest. Panic.
They both turned to her, confused. Temperance couldn't explain. She didn't understand.
She stood up, as best she could between the booth and the table.
“No,” she said again. “No.”
“Bren? What do you mean, 'No'?”
Angela stood up too, reaching for her arm, but Temperance pushed past her, knocking Angela back down in the process.
“I—I apologize. I need to go.”
And then she was out the door and heading for her car. I don't understand,
she thought. I don't understand.
Angela stood, frozen, watching Brennan disappear through the door of the bar. She should follow her. She should really follow her. She looked back at Spike, who was shaking his head in exaggerated confusion, blue eyes bright with amusement.
She wasn't going to follow her.
“Off the scale. I've never seen her act like that before.”
“Not to pry, but shouldn't you be going after her?”
Angela shook her head and slid back into the booth, a little farther than before. A little closer to Spike. “No. She's gone by now, and anyway it was me
that freaked her out.”
“Yeah, you probably shouldna done magic 'round the Doc.”
“Why not? She—she knew about vampires already, didn't she?”
“Vampires are...” The corner of his mouth twisted up, “...safer. She can analyze vampires, come up with medical explanations, behavior patterns, stuff like that. Study us like any other species. Pretend. She's a scientist, luv—”
“And you, you just broke the laws of physics right under her nose.”Oh. Oh God.
She hadn't thought how...scary her world might be to Brennan. She hadn't thought at all. Terrible friend. Horrible.
It took Angela a moment to pull herself away from that thought and focus on the flirting at hand. And another moment to feel guilty for putting flirting above best friend...ing. So yeah, terrible friend.
“Hold on, you said you'd only known her for a day. You're pretty insightful, for a vampire.”
“Doc's not exactly inscrutable.”
“No, guess not.”
“And who says vamps aren't insightful? We'd be right terrible predators if we didn't understand our prey.” Spike looked at her on the word 'predator.' Angela felt a thrill of fear. She leaned closer. No one ever said she was prudent.
“Should I be nervous?”
“Are you?” Yes. No. Did turned-on count?
“Well, my best friend did seem remarkably comfortable with you, right up until I
sent her fleeing from the room.”
“Trust her judgement?” Wow, those were cheekbones. Yes, those were really, really cheekbones.
“Yes. Well, sometimes?”
Spike's eyebrows did a thing. An indecently attractive thing. Was she supposed to say something now?
“I thought all that vampire and, um, slayer stuff was made up.”
“Says the witch.”
“Yeah. Teach me to assume anything. But all the stuff I read claimed vampires were totally—”
“Little raping, little pillaging, and then suddenly you humans pull out the pitchforks, and the crosses, and the holy water—”
“Um...” Angela didn't know what to make of that. It seemed like he was joking and it seemed like he wasn't. “Have you—”
“You don't know what I was gonna ask.”
“Doesn't matter. I've done it.”
Okay, now she really should be afraid. Like, actually afraid. Except she wasn't. She'd like to pretend it was because she'd recently mastered the art of conjuring fire. She'd like to pretend.
But there was something she wanted to know, in light of all the (mutual) (she hoped) flirting. “How old are you?”
Spike sat back. Away from her. “Look, Doc already played twenty questions with me. Older than you, f'that's the question. Older than your grandfather, truth be told.”
That should be weirder than it was. Thing was, the cheekbones were overriding the weird. And the eyes were helping. And the body. And the voice. And the smile.
Angela pretended to think about it. “I just broke up with a younger guy, so a grandfather could make a nice change.”
“Oi! Didn't say I was
a grandfather, just said I was old enough
“But it's possible, right? Before you became a vampire—”
“How can you be—”
“Like I said, I thought this would be a lark, but I've been playing trained monkey for a bit too long, and m'not anxious to go over it all again with you.”
Angela's heart sank. She'd gone too far, and now he was angry. “I didn't mean to—”
“But,” he held up a hand, “because I'm feeling a bit magnanimous today, and because,” searing blue eyes, “I like you, you get one more question.”
Angela didn't even have to think about it. “Are you seeing anyone?”
Spike made a short sound of amusement deep in his throat. “No. I am not seeing anyone.” And he stood up.
Angela struggled awkwardly out of the booth and to her feet. “Wait, you're leaving?”
“Got someone I need to check on.” He turned away, stopped, turned back, and swiftly closed the gap between them. He leaned in. His face was barely two inches away. Angela didn't breath.
“It was nice meeting you, Angela Montenegro.” He leaned in just the smallest bit more...
and was gone in a swirl of worn leather.
Angela blinked, then swore.
Why wasn't there a female variant for 'cock tease'? She could do with a phrase like that.