Title: Action Figures and Fashion Dolls
Rating: Probably NC-17 overall. Mild to start.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters not mine; no infringement intended, and no profit is being made here.
Summary: Oops, I did it again – it’s another WIP.
This one picks up directly after “The Center.” There’s a fair amount of backstory, but the vital points are that Spike and Buffy are now living in London, and they’re really going to try to make a go of their relationship this time… but can a retired Vampire Slayer and a Vampire with a Soul who’s a working Champion live together without driving each other crazy? And how will everyone else in their lives react–the Slayers, the vampires, the friends and enemies, and friends of enemies–to an alliance so forbidden? Oh, and did I mention there will eventually be TIME TRAVEL? Buffy/Spike, Buffy/William (sort of), adventures with Angel (oh, get your minds out of the gutter–this is a Spuffy story!) and just about everything else I can manage to cram in. Alternating Buffy and Spike POV.
No, I’m not at all ambitious, why do you ask? ; )
One chapter for now; I won’t be able to get back to it today, so I’ll be continuing the rest on my journal.
Action Figures and Fashion Dolls
“Horror is the future. And you cannot be afraid. You must push everything to the absolute limit or else life will be boring. People will be boring. Horror is like a serpent; always shedding its skin, always changing. And it will always come back. It can’t be hidden away like the guilty secrets we try to keep in our subconscious.”
“It is far from simple to show the truth, yet the truth is simple.”
“The labyrinth is not a maze.”
“That one.” Buffy pointed, and the exasperated Chinese man behind the counter mounted a tall stepstool.
“This one?” He hovered a hand over a row of programmable electric hot pots on a high shelf.
“That one, yeah. No, wait–is that a bigger one?” Ignoring the impatient line of customers gathering behind her, Buffy drew up on her tiptoes–her new almost-flat metallic leather sandals didn’t give her enough height–and pointed in a new direction.
“This one?” The hovering hand moved.
“Yes, that one! No, wait–is that the only color?”
Twenty minutes later, Buffy finally emerged from the cramped hardware store in London’s Chinatown with a bulky shopping bag wedged under her arm. Low heels teetering slightly on the pebbled cobblestones, she picked her away across the narrow streets toward Leicester Square, and the entrance to the Tube.
She’d been living in London for almost two weeks. Officially. Cohabiting. With Spike.
Not counting the days she’d spent camped in a warehouse, of course. With Spike under a hex and not knowing who he was–or rather, thinking he knew that he was William, the human he used to be–but from the moment when she’d decided to stay.
In London. With Spike.
Who she lived with.
Who the electric pot was a present for.
She hugged the bag tight to her chest and took a deep, shuddering breath.
Okay. Little bubble of panic there–nothing unusual. Just… a feeling she’d gotten used to recently. It kicked in at regular intervals, disrupting her euphoric bubble of do you hear me world, I’m happy and living with Spike like some cosmic balancing force.
Because she was happy, dammit. She was. It was just an insistent little voice inside her, one that didn’t seem to talk so much as sway and flicker like her vision of the First Slayer, a dark figure of muscle and paint whispering no friends just the kill we are alone.
And she could tell herself that she wasn’t alone, remind herself that there were hundreds of Slayers now, thanks to Willow’s spell, and that she had family and friends and Spike, her old enemy who was now a closer friend than she ever could’ve hoped for… and it still couldn’t stop the doubt from coming. Crippling seizures that nearly stopped her breath at times, woke her in the night with oh god oh god what am I doing here what am I doing?
Going home, she told herself, with another deep calming breath. Home.
She plunged into the busy anthill of the Tube station and took up a position on the escalators. Going down.
A draft of warm scents slid over Spike’s awareness, raising him bit by bit from the deep black pit of sleep, and he opened a single, wary eye.
“Rise and shine!” No monster leaning over him; no threat. Just Buffy, the scent of some highly flavored coffee beverage still on her breath.
“I do hope you realize that this would be early morning for most vampires.” His head buzzed with awareness of late afternoon. The sunshine peeping in around the edges of the window shades sizzled in his eyes.
“You’re not most vampires.” She planted a peck of a kiss on his forehead, leaving a sheen of cocoa flavor behind on his skin. “Up and at ’em, lazybones. Got your hot blood right here.”
She was holding a steaming coffee mug. Not filled with coffee.
He scrubbed a hand through his hair, took the mug from her hand. “Breakfast in bed? A fellow could really get used to that.”
“Well, you can start getting used to it.” She smiled, a supremely cheery flash of teeth. That was definitely a feature he was still getting used to, Buffy in high-energy peppy mode. It seemed to be her default setting when she was honestly happy.
He’d never really experienced that before. From her or anyone, really.
“I got you a programmable hot pot,” she explained, perching her slim hips on the edge of the bed. She sent her long hair swirling behind one shoulder with a flick of her head, a sassy little gesture that made his heart swell. That’s my girl. “I found it in this hardware store in Chinatown. I think it’s technically for tea, but you can set the temperature and there’s a timer. Hot running bloody goodness on demand.”
“Decorative too.” He’s spotted the gadget now, on the dresser top, shiny and new, with a trailing cord extending away from it like a tail. It was pearlescent pink. Festooned with painted flowers.
“They didn’t exactly have your favorite color.”
“They didn’t have blue?”
Her eyes widened. “Your favorite color is blue?”
“Probably. Can’t say I’ve thought of it much.” He took a sip. It was good; the temperature was right.
“I thought it was black.”
“I wear black. Black goes with everything. You learn to appreciate that after a hundred years without a mirror–makes it a hell of a lot easier to get dressed in the morning. Plus, you know–vampire thing.”
“Your favorite color is blue,” she repeated again, thoughtful. The idea seemed to distress her. “I… didn’t know that.”
“Hey now,” he slid forward, slung his free arm around her. Being able to do that, to simply touch her when he wanted, was another thing he was still getting used to. Pliable Buffy. “There’s a lot we don’t know about each other, yeah? But we know what’s important.”
“It’s all important.” She shrugged off his arm, her expression intense. Now that girl he recognized immediately–the Buffy who was all business, who needed to be separate and strong in order to tackle something serious. “Look–I’ve spent my whole life, at least since being the Slayer, just living for what’s important. I want more than that now. I want to fight evil and know my boyfriend’s favorite movies and color and–” Her face took on a look of growing horror. “Spike. When’s your birthday?”
“I don’t remember,” he admitted. “Pet, don’t worry yourself about it.”
She looked gloomy anyway. “It’s not fair, though. You know mine.”
“I, uh, yeah.” He searched his memory. Tried not to panic when no date surfaced. “It’s, uh….” In the winter sometime, after Christmas and New Year’s?
It must’ve showed in his face, because the sober and serious look left her big eyes and she let out a burst of laughter. Leaned into his shoulder, not flinching at all from the scent of hot blood on his breath or in the mug at his chin.
Well, not right away, anyway. She lasted maybe ten whole seconds before her nose wrinkled and she burrowed her face into his shoulder.
He set the mug down on the beside table and hooked an arm under her knees. Scooped her into his lap with the sound of her delighted squeal chasing in chorus.
“No worries,” he murmured into the soft skin of her neck. “There’s plenty of time.”
Maybe not true, but he was on borrowed time anyway, wasn’t he? All of it with her was more time than he expected.
One Week Earlier
“What’s wrong?” Buffy dipped her head, tried to see Spike’s eyes. He was doing it again, that thing where he closed himself off, wrapped up tight in his new-model black leather coat, drawing it around him like a shroud.
It disturbed the hell out of her, especially when he avoided her eyes. “Talk to me.”
“Nothing. Just… a few memories.”
She glanced around. The cafe didn’t look particularly old. “Here?”
“Not here. Exactly.”
“This street corner? This city block? This longitude and latitude?”
“London.” Now he had the Thousand-Mile Stare working for him, his gaze fixed off somewhere in the distance. “Was a vampire here. Was a vampire everywhere,” he said darkly, and then dropped his gaze, fiddled with the napkin that came with his coffee. Syrupy-sweet carmel-topped mocha–she’d just about dropped her jaw to the sidewalk the first time she’d seen him order one. The Big Bad had a definite sweet tooth.
“Okay,” she said, and waited for him to explain. Well, she couldn’t say she hadn’t been getting that vibe from him earlier. When she’d asked him to play tour guide, to show her around, he’d only been slightly more conversational than the Beefeaters or whatever that stood in front of Buckingham Palace. The ones that were supposed to ignore you. “You’re not happy here?”
He let out a short bark like a laugh, and skinned his hands over his head. “Of course I am. With you, I mean. I just don’t…. I dunno.” He slumped, hands dangling between his knees, like an ungainly pile of black laundry in the prim curved metal cafe chair, then jogged his knee with anxious energy. “Feel like I’m in heaven, half the time. The other half, feel like I’m halfway to losing my mind. You really never read any of those books of your Watcher’s, did you? Never looked up Angel’s history, or mine?”
“Um, non-sequitor much?”
He glowered at her, but it was a surprisingly helpless expression. Like a plea. “I’ll grant you, a lot if it’s wrong, what those Council nitwits have to say, but maybe you’d remember one title that pops up in both his account and mine. Scourge of Europe. Only they forgot to mention also Scourge of Asia, Scourge of Russia, and wherever else the Trans-Siberian Railroad happened to go, Scourge of the Americas, North and South, and, let’s not forget, Scourge of England.” He grimaced. “Oh, and by the way, scratch darkest Africa off that list too. Not a lot of great associations there.”
“So… what are you saying?”
He snatched the napkin from the table and began to shred it, as intent on the task as if he were cutting a diamond.
“Look, Buffy… you know I love you, right? Love being with you. But I can’t be… settling down in a rose-covered cottage.”
“There’s no cottage.” Buffy said as evenly as she could manage. “I never asked for–why does everyone think I’m holding out for a cottage?”
“Think I need to get back to work,” he muttered.
They’d had a week. A week in the fresh flush of love love love I’m in love I’m happy. A week to–almost, just for a few days–forget.
Now the honeymoon was, apparently, over.
“I knew what I was getting into,” she said. “I knew it when I said I’d stay.”
He looked up, into her face. Searching.
She lifted her chin. “We’re in this together. Whatever comes next.”
To Be Continued…
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/204326.html