Title: And Round Again
Summary: Spike and Dawn manage to persuade Buffy that what she really needs is some time off, and what better than a night of roller coasters, cotton candy and all the fun of the local fair. She should have known that nothing is ever that simple in Sunnydale. Set in early season six.
And Round Again
“What the bloody hell is going on?” Spike’s eyes darted wildly around the empty field. He slipped into his vampire face, his enhanced senses allowing him to see that there was nothing of the fair left. He said as much to Buffy, who gripped the handrail of the car so hard she put a dent in it.
Moving quickly, she snapped the chain holding the door closed and pushed it open. “We have to find Dawn.”
Climbing down from the Ferris wheel was more difficult than she’d anticipated; the metal framework was greasy with engine oil and there wasn’t very much to hold on to.
The attendant’s booth lay empty, and the stuffed toy she’d won earlier that evening had disappeared. The field was silent, bare, not even a hint of the fairground that had been there just moments before.
“Dawn!” she yelled and ran out into the field. “Dawn!”
She spun around at the feel of Spike’s hand on her arm. “She’s not here. Can’t sense her—can’t sense anyone.”
“It doesn’t make sense!” Panic filled, she broke free from Spike’s grasp. “We need to find her!”
“And we will.” Spike’s voice was calm. “We’ll head back to the car park, see if the old girl’s still there. Then we’ll figure out what to do next, all right?”
Buffy nodded, knowing that there was nothing else she could do but agree.
“About what happened back there,” Spike said, matching his stride to hers and gazing at her in earnest. “On the Ferris wheel.”
“But—” He ran ahead a little and turned to face her, stopping directly in her path. “We kissed, Buffy.”
“I said, not now! We have to find Dawn and figure out what the heck is going on. How can a whole fairground just disappear?”
Spike shrugged and fell back into step. He put a cigarette between his lips and lit it, taking a long drag before speaking. “Transference to another dimension, time slip, magic spell, who knows? But we kissed, you and me. What was that?”
“Temporary insanity?” Buffy replied. “What we did is done. We—” She held up a hand when Spike opened his mouth. “We can discuss it later. After we find Dawn. That’s what’s important right now.”
He nodded and threw his cigarette to the ground, shoving both hands deep in his coat pockets. They rounded the corner and saw the parking lot looking exactly as it had earlier; full of the cars of the people at the fair.
Haphazardly parked in the corner was Spike’s DeSoto.
“So the fair moved, not us,” Spike said as they made their way towards the car. He fumbled for his keys and pulled them out of his pocket, a crumpled sheet of paper falling to the ground as he did so.
Buffy leaned down and picked it up; it was the flyer advertising the fair. “Del Goro’s Amazing Travelling Fairground,” she read aloud. “You’ll never want to leave.”
“Let’s see that.” Spike leaned over her shoulder and peered at the leaflet. “Look here. List of the places the fair’s going to stop at.” He tapped the second name on the list. “Seems like we’re going on a little road trip, Slayer.” Spike opened the car door and smirked across at her. “Hope you packed your toothbrush.”
Buffy let her head rest against the cool glass of the car window. She closed her eyes, wondering how things could have gone so wrong so fast.
Her mind was spinning, the events of the evening catching up with her: Dawn persuading her to go to the fair, hope shining on her face; winning the stuffed toy at the hook-a-duck stand and the jubilant smile she’d sent Spike when she’d won; sharing her cotton candy with the vampire and… and the kiss.
God, that kiss! She’d told Spike she didn’t want to talk about it, but it was almost all she could think about—other than her sister’s disappearance, that was. How was she going to deal with it, when they had found Dawn and returned to Sunnydale? She couldn’t date another vampire; it just wasn’t an option. And what would her friends think? There was no way it could work.
She opened her eyes and glanced at him. His gaze was slightly narrowed as he concentrated on the road ahead, one hand on the wheel and the other resting on his knee. Buffy bit her lip and looked away, frightened by how strong the urge to reach across and put her hand on his was.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to put it out of her mind. There would be time to think about her relationship issues when they’d found Dawn. Spike could wait.
She must have drifted off because the next thing she knew, Spike was shaking her shoulder. She sat up quickly, rubbing the crick in her neck and turning to look at the vampire.
“Are we there?”
“No,” Spike said as he opened the car door and climbed out. “Car’s almost out of petrol.”
“Oh.” Buffy followed him out, the bright fluorescent lights of the gas station making her blink. She glanced at her watch. Two in the morning. “How much longer until we are there?”
“Hour or so, I reckon,” Spike replied. His eyes never left the dial on the pump, the numbers rolling past too fast for Buffy to follow. “Should give us enough time to find Dawn before the sun comes up.”
“I hope so.” She stretched, her arms going up over her head and her back popping with a satisfying click. “I’m gonna go use the bathroom.”
Spike nodded but didn’t reply, and she walked through the forecourt towards the toilets, wondering what his problem was.
The bathroom wasn’t particularly clean and there was an odd smell in the air. Buffy wrinkled her nose and stepped in, avoiding the cracks in the tiled floor. She used the toilet and the flush sounded overly loud in the otherwise quiet bathroom. The flickering light cast an eerie glow across her face when she looked in the mirror. She grimaced at her appearance; her hair was a tangled mess and she had creases on her face from where she’d been sleeping in the car.
She fixed herself up as best she could without a hairbrush or make-up handy, but she wouldn’t be winning any beauty pageants in the near future. The girl staring at her from the mirror looked tired, drawn and worried. Nothing like the girl who’d shrieked in faux-fright on the roller coaster earlier, who’d kissed Spike with wild abandon on the Ferris wheel.
Sighing, she gave herself one last look over and left the bathroom, hoping that Spike would keep up the avoidy act for the rest of the journey.
When they arrived at Meadow Court Recreation Ground, Spike pulled up to the kerb and cut the engine. They could see the fair from the road. It was quiet, the rides not fully constructed and the booths shuttered. There were several travel-trailers towards the back of the field and a few of them were lit up.
Buffy glanced at Spike and pointed to the trailers. He nodded and, in silence, they made their way towards them. When they were close, Buffy raised a questioning eyebrow and put her finger to her nose. Spike shook his head. No Dawn-scent nearby, then.
One of the trailers was different to the rest, cleaner, less rundown. Its windows were lit up, but not with the white glow of artificial light—instead, there was a strange green haze emanating from it.
They crept towards it, coming up to the back window. Buffy peered in, her eyes widening when she saw a circle of very small, very purple creatures sitting around a large green crystal. Behind them stood a man, also purple-skinned and with a strange mottled texture to his scalp. He looked familiar, so it was no surprise when Spike whispered in her ear. “The ferris wheel attendant.”
She nodded and beckoned him away from the window. “On my count,” she mouthed and held up three fingers. “One. Two. Three.”
Together, they rushed the door of the trailer, pulling it from its hinges. The tiny demons stopped chanting, springing to their feet and attacking without warning, the attendant standing back and watching from the side.
They were small but numerous, and their teeth were sharp as they swarmed over Buffy and Spike. Buffy leapt from the trailer, dropping to the ground outside and rolling over, dislodging several of the creatures. She brought her foot down on the ones she’d managed to throw off and snapped their necks.
Spike was still inside, pulling the demons from his body one-by-one and squeezing their throats until they died.
After several long minutes of fighting the little snappers, silence fell, and Buffy realised that all the mini-demons around her were dead. She shook herself and tried to ignore the stinging their bites and scratches had left behind. Going back inside, she saw that Spike had dealt with his share and now had the attendant held up against the wall. To her surprise, the attendant wasn’t struggling, he hung limp and defeated in Spike’s arms, whimpering and moaning every so often.
“What’s up with him?” she asked, moving closer and peering at the demon. It was definitely the man who had encouraged them onto the Ferris wheel, just a little more demony.
Spike shrugged and tightened his hold on the demon’s neck. “Dunno. He just started blubbering.”
“Set him down,” Buffy said, and Spike did so, but kept one hand tightened on the demon’s shoulder, just in case.
She leaned over him, her hands on her hips. “Talk.”
“You killed my children,” he said, tears gone and malice in his eyes.
“You kidnapped my sister,” Buffy replied, no sympathy in her voice. “And half the town with her. Now, are you going to tell me where they are, or am I going to let Spike torture you a little?”
“They’re gone. All gone. My children were feasting.” His eyes darted nervously, and he glanced across to the crystal, half of which had now turned grey. “You are too late.”
“He’s lying,” Spike said and slipped into his vampire visage. “If you don’t start telling the truth…” He bared his teeth and grinned nastily. “Start at the beginning.”
“All right, all right!” The attendant slid down until he was on the floor, propped up by the wall of the caravan. “My kind—we feed on fear… a thrillsome rush of adrenaline. It’s like nectar to us. And what better place to harness that kind of fear than the fairground?”
“So, what?” Buffy interjected. “You put people on roller coasters and feed on them? That doesn’t explain where my sister is.”
“In a way,” the demon replied. “The fair on this mortal plane is just a way to attract the crowds. When you try to leave, your admission wristband is activated and you are transported to another dimension. There, you will ride our roller coasters for days, weeks, months on end, compelled to enjoy, compelled to feel that rush of adrenaline until our hunger is sated. When I sensed that you were the Slayer, I knew I had to get you out of the way. I didn’t count on you following.”
“Yeah, well, you shouldn’t have taken my sister.” She glared at him. “Bring her back. Now.”
The demon waved his hand towards the crystal. When he spoke, his voice was despondent, tone weary. “Smash it. They will all come back. Your sister will be by the Flying Dutchman.”
As soon as he’d spoken, Spike had moved towards the crystal. He picked it up, lifted it high and threw it down to the floor, where it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. There was a strange suctioning sound in the air, and the fair outside came to life.
Buffy shared a quick, meaningful glance with Spike before rushing out of the caravan. The fair looked just as it had before: booths open, though without attendants, and rides coming to a squealing halt.
She arrived at the foot of the biggest roller coaster, the Flying Dutchman, just as its riders were dismounting. They all looked disorientated and dizzy, some hunching over and vomiting into the grass as soon as they were away from the ride.
Buffy scanned the crowd, looking for her sister’s long hair. “Dawn!”
“Here.” Dawn was sitting on the edge of the platform, her head in her hands. When Buffy approached, Dawn looked up and her face was startlingly pale. “What happened?”
“Demon fairground,” Buffy said; no other explanation was needed. “Are you all right?”
“Dizzy. So, so dizzy.” She stood on wobbly legs. “I am never going on a roller coaster ever again. Ever.”
“Noted.” Buffy put her arm around Dawn and they started to walk towards the exit. Spike was waiting for them, his hands in his pockets.
“Yeah. The bugger won’t be harnessing any more fear now I’ve snapped his neck.”
“Good.” Buffy said and sent him a small smile.
He smiled back before clearing his throat and speaking again. “You all right, Niblet?”
Dawn nodded and shrugged Buffy’s arm from her shoulder. “Janice is over there, I should go check how she is.”
“See if she needs a ride home,” Buffy said. “We’ll be by the car.” She turned to Spike, the atmosphere suddenly awkward now that they had pulled off the rescue. “Um, thanks. For helping.”
“Any time, Slayer.” He smirked, and Buffy knew that quiet, helpful Spike had left the building and annoying, flirty Spike was back. “So… we slayed the bad guy, rescued the girl. Think it’s time you and me had a little chat.”
“Spike…” Buffy shivered when he ran his hand down her arm and linked his fingers around her wrist. She closed her hand around his and gently but firmly moved his hand away. She looked up and saw that the cocky grin was gone and his face had fallen. Something in her shifted and she knew that she couldn’t reply with her planned scathing answer. Didn’t want to. “Spike,” she repeated, and he looked up, full of hope. “I’m not promising anything. But you’ve been… you’ve been really great since I came back. I like spending time with you. So for now, can we say… friends?”
“Friends,” Spike echoed. “I like the sound of that.”
“Me too.” She frowned. “Except… maybe sometimes there could be kissing. Friends with kissing?”
They shared a smile and walked back to the car in companionable silence, the tips of their fingers lightly brushing together.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/388971.html