I decided to break this down into three parts because this bit was longer than I’d remembered. Last part up soon!
There was good news: Willow was on her way.
There was even better news: whatever weirdness was going on, it was confined to their television. After much pleading, Giles had reluctantly turned on Dancing With the Stars and informed them that, although the dancing in question offended his sensibilities, there was nothing otherwise unusual about it. It seemed like they were the only ones with direct hookup to the Premium Flashback Channel.
And then there was bad, bad news: they couldn’t turn the damn thing off.
They tried throwing switches. They tried pressing buttons. The tried unplugging it. They even tried turning off the circuit breakers for the entire house. No dice. Giles said it was probably a spell, and that he’d send Willow out, but that she wouldn’t get there until tomorrow.
In the meantime, the TV blared nonstop, switching channels seemingly at will. And on every single channel, they saw something strangely familiar.
On Top Chef, the winning contestant created a recipe for peanut butter and banana quesadillas. ESPN2 showed a poker championship… a kitten poker championship. And the local news had a breaking report on the destruction of Sunnydale High.
At least they were able to turn the volume down, which was a small blessing.
“Wow,” Dawn droned, eyes fixed to the TV. A midnight showing of Mommie Dearest was on, but Faye Dunaway was now playing a character named “Maggie Walsh”. “This is just way too weird.”
“You’re telling me,” Buffy muttered. They should have been in bed hours ago, but she couldn’t stop watching as little pieces of their lives flashed across the screen. It was fascinating and creepy all at the same time, and she resisted the urge to start talking to the TV just to see if it answered back. Angel and Spike were out doing… whatever it was they did when they tried to track down information from the demon underworld. She didn’t know, and she didn’t want to know.
“It’s like… This Is Your Life,” Dawn said. “Only put into a blender.”
The channel flipped, and suddenly they were watching a horror movie where a ventriloquist dummy came to life and started stalking the halls of a high school. Buffy shuddered.
“And on that note, I’m going to bed,” she said. “You should too.”
“Uh huh,” Dawn said, still staring vacantly at the TV. “Any minute now.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Seriously, don’t stay up all night watching that. It’ll probably be all better in the morning anyway.”
Except that it wasn’t better in the morning. Dawn had hit an eleven on the one-to-ten Crankiness Scale due to severe lack of sleep – and Buffy thought she was damn near worthy of canonization for not breaking out the big “I told you so,” – and Spike and Angel hadn’t been able to find out anything about their little problem. If it was a spell, whoever was responsible was keeping a pretty low profile.
The TV buzzed and burbled away at a low hum, and the four of them huddled in the kitchen to conference. Dawn clutched a coffee mug in her hands and fixed them all with a baleful glare.
“That’s it,” she ground out. “The TV must die. It’s the only way I’ll get any sleep.”
“And this is the only one in the house acting up?” Buffy asked for the third time. “You’re sure the downstairs set is normal?”
“Sure,” Angel said with a shrug.
“I guess you’d know,” Dawn said from the depth of her mug. “What with all the important stuff you’ve been watching.”
Angel coughed. “Well, I never turn down a good medical drama. Isn’t that right, Spike?” Angel gave him a grin that was more of a grimace and made a sudden jerking motion that obviously meant that he was kicking someone under the table.
“Huh?” Spike roused himself from whatever fugue he’d fallen into. “Yeah, right. Blood, and lots of it. That’s what we like.”
“Hmm,” Buffy hummed, tapping her fingers innocently against the table. “Then I guess you guys won’t mind if I borrow this?” She whipped the Moonlight DVD out from beneath her chair, to the vampires’ sudden horror. “I’ve always wanted to watch this!” she said, then lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone this, but I’ve always had a thing for vampires.”
Spike sputtered in outrage for a moment before slumping in his chair, clearly giving up in the face of such irrefutable and incontrovertible evidence. “That’s his, I’ll have you know,” was his only defense.
“Look,” Angel said, sighing heavily. “It’s not what you think. It’s research.”
“Let me guess,” Dawn snickered. “You want to see what the hot new fashions are for the modern urban vampire about town?”
Spike exchanged a fist bump with her, and Buffy smothered a smile.
“They’re copying me!” Angel blurted out. “They’re copying my life, okay? I mean, hello? Vampire detective? Ring any bells? I know one of the writers. I know he’s behind this!”
Buffy burst out laughing, then stopped when Angel’s face didn’t crack. “You’re serious?” she sputtered. “So… what? Are you going to sue them?”
“Don’t you have to be a real person for that?” Dawn asked reasonably. “I mean, unless you can get them to settle out of court.”
“No,” Angel growled. “I was thinking of slicing him open and playing jump rope with his entrails.”
“A little extreme, don’t you think?” Buffy asked. “I mean… so what if they did copy from you? It’s like you’re on TV! How cool is that?”
Angel waved his hand. “Oh, please. They’re getting everything wrong. It’s so insulting. And anyway, the guy’s actually a Puglitz demon. It’ll take more than that to kill him. I just want to scare him a bit.”
Dawn stared at him. “There are demons working as television writers?”
Spike snorted. “And this surprises you? Did you see what happened to the last seasons of Cheers?”
“And speaking of TV,” Buffy reminded them, “we still haven’t solved our little problem.” She checked her watch. “Willow should be here soon. We should probably just lay low and hope she can exorcise our television set.”
When they wandered back into the living room, the TV was just flipping to a new channel. Buffy’s eyes widened when she saw what was on the screen, and Spike’s face lit up.
“I didn’t know we got the Playboy Channel!”
“Dawn! Don’t look!” Buffy tried to push Dawn out of the room, but she just rolled her eyes and held her ground.
“Oh, please. You think I haven’t seen anything like that before? I mean, I have had…”
“Gah!” Buffy clamped her hand over Dawn’s mouth. “Can you please indulge my fantasy that you’re still an innocent twelve year old?”
“Hey,” Spike said, way more interested in the screen than he had any right to be. Buffy glared at him, surreptitiously checking the endowments of the actress on the screen. Oh, whatever. She was totally hotter than Ms. Fakey Balloon-Chest there. “I know this,” Spike continued absently.
Buffy snorted. “The amount of porn you’ve watched in your day, it wouldn’t surprise me,” she muttered.
Spike shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. I mean, I know this because I did it. We did it.”
“Huh?” Buffy took a closer look at the screen for the first time. Just some blonde actress lying on her back as the guy knelt between her legs, one knee hooked over his shoulder and her ass off the mattress. And, okay, that took some good muscle control, which she could attest to. But surely other people did that position, right? But then Random Porn Guy began to run his hand up and down his partner’s leg in the exact same way Spike did. She knew his moves like the back of her hand, and without a doubt this was the exact same thing. Then the guy gave a hip swirl, and it was Spike’s hip swirl, totally and without a doubt, and oh my God she was so weirded out right now.
“Come on,” Angel scoffed. “You’re saying you’ve trademarked your own moves now?”
“And I’ve got the tapes to prove it,” Spike leered.
Dawn turned red. “Okay, and now I’m grossed out. Call me when Willow gets here.” She skirted the television set gingerly, wincing at the fake moaning, and disappeared up the stairs.
“He tapes you?” Angel whispered to Buffy, clearly appalled – mostly by the fact that Spike was involved, she could tell. She shrugged.
“What can I say? I ended up with a perv and a horndog,” she said cheerfully.
“And a total narcissist,” Angel muttered.
“Totally,” Buffy said fondly, dropping a kiss on the top of Spike’s head while Angel rolled his eyes. Luckily, at that moment the doorbell rang.
“Thank God,” Angel muttered, going to answer the door.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/257032.html