Title: "AoT: Sanguine Memory"
Author: Mala
Rating/Classification: SAC, angst, violence, sap.
Disclaimer: Grrr aaargh.
Summary: Set four years before Liam's return, Spike watches his daughter sleep and wonders how he can be a killer and a parent at the same time.

sanguine-- (adj.) 1: blood red.
2: a)consisting of or relating to blood.
b) bloodthirsty, sanguinary, c) of the complexion ruddy.
3: having blood as the predominating bodily humor; also: having the bodily conformation and temperament held characteristic of such predominance and marked by sturdiness, high color, and cheerfulness.
4: confident, optimistic.
--from _Merriam-Webster's Dictionary_.

"Hey, Daddy," she whispered, half in dreams, as he sat down on the edge of her bed and caressed her face with the backs of his bloodstained fingers.

She didn't flinch away. She snuggled closer, against his knuckles.

Even in sleep, she knew him. His touch. His presence. His reality.

Blood didn't scare Petra Summers.

Blood *couldn't* scare future Slayers.

He wondered, sometimes, why he hadn't left the raising of her to Wesley and Cordelia. They had been perfectly willing to adopt her. He shuddered, thinking of how Cordy was back then...with her mini-skirts and perfect coif and three inch acrylic nails. He just hadn't thought of her as mother material. Of course, Allen and Angie proved *that* theory wrong...but he held to his original judgment in terms of Pet. Even then, as a tiny baby with a head full of wispy blond curls, she was no Petra Wyndham-Price. She couldn't be.

Willow and Tara had offered, too, to take over the majority of Pet's upbringing. No, he'd thought immediately. A girl needed a father. He was old-fashioned, he supposed. He loved Willow and Witch as much as any man or beast *could*, but he hadn't been ready to see them raise a child. The child Buffy had birthed into his hands. Born in blood and tears and the dying light of her eyes.

Nearly eleven years later, the stains on his skin remained. Dark red streaks on his fingertips...dried remnants encrusted under his fingernails. Sanguine memories. He was drenched in them...soaked down to the bone in crimson. No matter how hard he scrubbed, it never seemed to go away.

Just like the urge to kill.

The primal call to arms that had easily outlasted a behavior modification chip.

Night. Stars. Moon. Hearts beating fast, under the rhythm of the chase.

"You kill things, don't you, Dad?" Pet had asked him the other evening.

In the middle of the mall.

He'd dropped the simple, white, training bra he'd been staring at with something akin to horror and known, then, what *real* horror was.

She'd asked the question without rancor, without accusations. Just wide, blue-green eyes and the faint hint of Britain in her voice.

"Erhm...bloody Hades, Girl, the middle of Macy's is NOT the place to talk about this. We'll have none of that now."

Yeah, he killed things.

Things.

Vamps. Monsters. Demons.

She understood that. Being raised with vampires, witches and Watchers and having werewolves come visit on the hols made slaying something easy to accept.

But he killed humans, too.

And he knew that's what she had really been asking.

"You *feed*, don't you, Dad?"

"You stalk and hunt and pounce, don't you, Dad?"

"You rip open the throats of unsuspecting muggers and rapists and jaywalkers and gorge on their rich, red, fluids, don't you, Dad?"

*You're a killer, aren't you, Dad?*

Not just an agent of the good...who killed beasties and bogeymen and things that went bump in the night. He was Spike. William the Bloody. Former poet. Killer of two slayers. Vampire. Monster. Demon.

Even if she hadn't been told, one of Giles' books would've provided her a family history. Patches of information. Skewed details. Fudged dates. But still enough to paint her a picture. The Master. Darla. Angelus. Dru. And Dad.

A thing.

A thing to be slayed.

Sometimes he wondered why he hadn't taken her to Huxley. To Iowa. A nice farm with nice human grandparents who were probably as down-home and noble as their son had been. A long, proud, line of hardworking Irish and Swedish ancestors...without a vampire among them, he reckoned.

It would've been safe. She could've grown up never knowing about the Hellmouth. About things that weren't just nightmares and stories.

Until, of course, she was called. Because they'd all known she would be. Something in the air had told them. No, it had been better to raise her with her mother's legacy in her hands from the very beginning. Better to raise her with the people her mother had loved and known. Or so he'd thought.

*"You kill things, don't you, Dad?"*

He swallowed, pulling his fingers back from her cheek. Still rounded with baby fat. Christ, he couldn't believe she was all ready making him shop for bras. That he'd had to panic and call Willow just two months ago when she'd asked him to buy her tampons. "I'm a VAMPIRE. I'm NOT buying tampons!"

"Spike, you're such a *man*," Willow had laughed when she'd come by to pick Pet up for a trip to the drugstore.

But he wasn't a man.

He was a thing. A vampire. A monster. A demon.

Predatory. Territorial. Selfish to the core.

Petra stretched, suddenly, under the thick coverlet. And her eyelashes fluttered as she mumbled. And the words made him cold inside. Colder than he all ready was. "Y'smell like smoke. Go 'way an' wash."

Like smoke.

Not like blood.

He wanted to laugh, but to laugh would be to pull her fully from the depths of sleep.

She objected to cigarettes, but not to murder.

There was something very, very wrong with that.

There was something very, very wrong with all of this.

But there was one thing that was very, very right.

This little girl. This child. The child Buffy had birthed into his hands. Born in blood and tears and the dying light of her eyes.

Nearly eleven years later, the stains on his skin remained. Dark red streaks on his fingertips...dried remnants encrusted under his fingernails. Sanguine memories. He was drenched in them...soaked down to the bone in crimson. No matter how hard he scrubbed, it never seemed to go away.

Just like his love for his daughter.

--end--

March 30, 2001.



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