Part eleven in the Candy Perfume Boys series.
Candy Perfume Boy
Spike sighed and paused to rest in the shade against the corner of a building. He ran a shaking hand through his thinning hair and pushed up his sunglasses to rub at increasingly tired eyes. If he had remembered the annual street fair was this weekend, he would have never left his apartment.
“Hey, Pops!” the vendor whose cart he was near called. “Quit blocking the product, people want to shop.”
Spike turned on the man with a spark of his former fire. “Maybe I want to shop too, you wanker! Give an old man a break.”
“Okay! Okay! Sorry,” the young man waved him off.
Spike looked down to find himself confronted by a table of clutter. It was all “antiques,” he realized, which meant fifty year old things no one else remembered or even knew what they were most of the times. He was used to that. Reflecting the rays of the summer sun he spotted some square plastic cases. He pushed aside some t-shirts bearing slogans and logos of music groups he no longer bothered to keep up with. A stack of CD’s fanned across the table. Most were music he did not like or had not heard of. The last case held a familiar image. A pretty blonde woman with her hair streaming in the wind stood against a blue-green background. “Ray of Light,” he whispered and picked it up. With some difficulty, he opened the jewel case to find the disc intact and surprisingly unscratched. He held it up. “How much for this?”
The man barked a laugh. “Figures an old guy like you would still want to buy a CD. You got something that will play that?”
“Yes, as if it’s any of your business,” Spike snapped. “How bloody much?”
“Aw. Take it. No one wants plastic now that it’s all virtual.”
“Thanks, mate.” Spike stuffed the case in the pocket of the sweater he wore despite the sunny day. He headed back to his cozy apartment with a purpose; his mind was filled with thoughts of a young man he had once cared for.
With a sigh, he collapsed in his leather chair and closed his eyes. A tiny, chocolate brown cat leaped up on his lap with a chirp. He petted her without looking. “Hello, Fred. How was your day?” The cat circled and snuggled on his lap. “I found a treasure today. A CD. Actual plastic. Not scratched.” Fred purred and enjoyed her ear-scratch. “Madonna’s Ray of Light. I’ve not listened to that in… God. Sixty years. I’ve told you about Xander, haven’t I? Yeah. Know I have.”
Spike managed to work the CD out of his pocket with a minimal disturbance of Fred and her comfort. He looked at the picture, thinking how often both he and Xander had played it, long ago. With unsteady hands, he reached the often-repaired boom box on the table beside his chair, knocking off an empty pill bottle in the process. Fred jumped down to investigate the new toy. Spike removed the still-loved Sex Pistols (although now played at a much lower volume than in his extended youth,) hit play, and leaned back to listen.
As the songs cycled through, he allowed himself to remember Xander. From long ago he summoned how the boy had felt, tasted, and sounded. And his scent. Spike could suddenly remember the unique scent of musk, wintergreen, and chocolate that was Xander. They had not fooled around many times, maybe a dozen, but each time was special and new. Somewhere and something different. They had grown together, connected, and bonded. If only the world had been different, Xander would never have gone to Africa, and they may have…
As the last song played, Spike wept, his heart fluttering, as he thought of the fine strong man he’d loved and lost. The song ended and he moved to play the CD again, when more music started. Spike’s hand froze in mid air. Fred jumped up on his lap and snuggled in again. “I don’t remember this one, Fred. Maybe? No. I’ve never heard this in all my long days.” He let his hand drop. “Must be some a special edition. Maybe an import.”
Tears ran silently down his face. “Fuckin’ Madonna. How could she have known? Gods above? Powers that Be? I saved the world again. Stupidly jumped back in the game, and my reward is this. Shanshu. Huh. Shanshit. Old, alone. No one to talk to but a cat.” Fred looked up at him, slowly blinked her big ice blue eyes, and butted her hand into his arm. “Not that you’re not fine company, just…” He looked blankly again at the CD cover. “The old gang called and I went. Honestly old by then, you know. Needed a vamp in the mix to save the bloody world. Went there, did that, woke up human again.
“Not that it wasn’t fine at first. The sun, the food… I had it all. Got to grow up, I guess. Had life. True Love. Then I lost it. Bit by bit, it all went away. She went away. They all went away.” He fumbled a tissue and blew his nose. “The irony of me outliving them all is not lost, my girl.
“Oh, Xander. Sometimes I wish you’d let me turn you. Then maybe… shit. Then you’d still be young and I’d be this husk.” He coughed a laugh. “You’d poke fun at me now, Wanker. I don’t have to dye my hair any more. It’s all white as snow.” With a thoughtful sigh, he picked up the case and found the magnifying glass he kept for reading labels.
“’Ray of Light,’ ‘Candy Perfume Girl,’ ‘Ashtangi,’ that was a fun song, Fred. Bonus track. ‘Has To Be.’ Fourteen tracks, not thirteen. Huh. Damn…”
Spike pressed play again and faded off to sleep with fond memories of Xander Harris and a little cat for company.
From the files of the L.A. Times:
Sunnydale Crater, California. April 9, 2097. The body of William Blooden, noted horror writer, was found on the beach early yesterday morning. His novels set in and around the vanished town of Sunnydale and include the Edgar Award-winning “The Soulfire Gem” a fantastic tale of the town’s collapse. They still enjoy steady sales and a fanatic following. Vampires, girls with super powers, demons, and magic are all skillfully woven together in his plots of undying love, loyalty, and sacrifice. His lesser-known histories of the twentieth century are still thought of as valuable references.
Believed to be approximately 88 years old at his passing, Blooden’s early life is shrouded in mystery. He was apparently in his late 20’s when his first novel was released. His bizarre claims to be two hundred years old rested on well-researched details, which are readily available in public records. However, his claims of date and place of birth London are mysteriously less well documented.
Blooden kept his privacy carefully guarded throughout his career. Often seen in the company of beautiful men and women while in the early fever of his success, he settled down and married Cameron Summers, granddaughter of Buffy Summers. When his wife passed away twenty years ago, Blooden retreated from the public eye completely.
Mr. Blooden was found dressed in a trademark leather trench coat. His body was neatly laid out and surrounded by what appeared to be offerings of whiskey, chicken wings, chocolate, and small dishes of blood.
The autopsy revealed heart failure as the cause of death, and no foul play is suspected. Police believe he was discovered and recognized by fans who often linger around the crater.
As per William Blooden’s request, donations are to be sent to the Giles-Summers Academy for Gifted Girls in London, England instead of flowers.
Lyrics to "Has To Be" copyright Madonna 1998.
Much thanks to Velvet_virago who sent me the track I did not know existed. I had thought this world closed, but you never know...
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