Fic: ‘By the click of someone else’s slippers’ [4/7] [NC-17ish]

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series By the click of someone else's slippers
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By the click of someone else’s slippers

Quinara

S6 | NC-17(ish) | ~33,500 words total

Spike has spent the last few months in an AU LA with no memory of Buffy or even Sunnydale. Buffy comes to rescue him, but Spike’s not sure why she bothers. At the end of the day, though, it’s really just a rewrite of Smashed

[Chapter One]
[Chapter Three]

Chapter Four

So, Cordelia and the other Buffy had come along on this excursion because, the way that Cordelia remembered it, any time she’d been left at base she’d been kidnapped. Spike didn’t give much of a toss, but he’d insisted the pair of them stayed in the car, leaving him and the Buffy who was bait to deal with the rest of it on their own. The other Buffy had agreed pretty readily, only asking that they brought back Ketchup the cat. Because apparently she had no fucking clue about the real issues of this situation.

Spike, on the other hand, approached the warehouse filled with nothing but doubt. As it was, there was still the possibility – if not risk – that they were dealing with absolute amateurs and they’d have the cat back quicker than someone could say ‘classic Spike cock-up’; he’d have the kittens; they’d do whatever they did under this curse – which he’d never known anyone pathetic enough to suffer. And then he’d be faced with a weird, human vampire slayer demanding his services in another world and he’d either have to go for it or doom himself to this existence until the end of time.

It was enough to make anyone piss off and dunk their head in a vat of Christmas brandy.

“Spike!” the Buffy from the other world was suddenly demanding of him. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

He realised that he’d stopped, not so far from the car; not so far from the entrance. The image of his future was standing there, dressed to the nines and glaring at him. Damn him if she wasn’t hot, her hair curling across a sharp, black motorcycle jacket, her jeans as tight as bloody stockings.

Looking at her, Spike wondered what things were like in her world. He wondered if he had her or if he didn’t, if the feeling he thought he felt was ever enough to sustain him. He tried to figure out what he did all day, if he’d given up on the side of evil and yet wasn’t trusted by the side of good. Part of him yearned for it, to give into the brewing cocktail of lust and curiosity she elicited from him – but the other part of him, the part that had survived Dru’s abandonment, it resisted. There were enough warning signs here. And romantic as he was, a slave to love as he was, Spike did try to avoid situations which meant for absolutely certain death.

“I don’t think you get it,” Spike told the girl eventually, still caught up in the vision of her. It was as if they’d had far more conversations than, so he realised, they actually had, but they were too many. Here and now, walking with her into the lion’s cage, he could see how his future looked and he wanted nothing more than to be back in his office, counting the seconds it took for Cordelia’s coffee to percolate. “I’m certain you don’t get it,” he repeated. “I can’t do this.”

Buffy looked back at him, speechless. Five minutes to midnight and she was speechless, her mouth nothing but a seductive O.

“I don’t think you understand,” Spike tried to explain. “And I know you don’t want to.” He could see it all so clearly now – at least, he thought he could. “But I figured it out.” He had it all in his mind’s eye, from the way she’d been laughing with her double and from the way she’d been affecting him. “I know what’s waiting for me back in your world and I’m telling you, I can’t do it.” Even now his mind was skittering away from the thought. He didn’t want to acknowledge it, even as the phantom guilt stabbed into him: the loneliness and the fear of her; the worry for her safety and the wish that she was dead. He couldn’t do it, not again – not when in all likelihood it had killed him here the first time round.

Buffy started towards him, but Spike shook his head, stepping backwards. “Either you don’t understand what this means for me,” he continued, backing away, “or you don’t bloody care.” From the look of her, it didn’t seem like she cared: there was anger in her eyes and a firmness to the way that she stood. He wasn’t even sure himself where he had this coming from, but it was there – holding him at bay. “This was only meant to be some spell that made me look for lost puppies, right? So why are you here? Haunting me?”

“Spike…” she began – and she was different again. No longer the mad harpy she’d been when she’d arrived; no longer the extra from Clueless like she’d been just now in his car. Suddenly she was old and tired and serious, like he was supposed to believe that this was her. She was close to him, just a few feet away, and it was really much too close for a slayer to stand near a vampire without there a fight going on. She smelt like something burning, but he couldn’t tell if that wasn’t just the unresolved attraction inside of him, sick like poison and spoiling everything he was.

“Just tell me,” he insisted, barely able to control himself, not here when they were alone. “Tell me you feel this how I do.” Spike didn’t know what had happened between them in that other world, and frankly he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. All the same, needed the assurance that it wasn’t just him on his own, trailing around like some cuckolded, desperate wanker, clinging to the dream of one last decent shag.

The girl shook her head and he knew it then: she would never acknowledge it, what was there, in his head and in the heart of him. He felt sick; he felt overwhelmed. The wild urge ran through him that he had to get away, to find himself somewhere else that he could gather his thoughts and feelings back together.

Before he could set to flight, however, the strange girl who apparently knew him better than he thought had set one hard, firm hand around his wrist. “Oh no,” she informed him through gritted teeth. “You’re not going anywhere.” He began to protest, but the bones on her just held him faster. “Oh, boo hoo,” she mocked him as a breath came out of his throat. “I’m Spike, the lost little vampire. I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing.” He shook his head – confused but also a little too aware of what she was saying. She kept on, “I’m here one week to help out and then the next I need to be saved from somewhere else.” Even as he stilled, her voice turned harsh. “It’s not about you,” she said. “Learn to deal with it.”

In certain ways, the last few months had made Spike a lot tamer than he had ever been. For a start, he’d been dealing with humans the whole way through, had Cordelia yammering in his ear at every second interval. That was probably what kept him attentive through her speech.

Nonetheless, he was still a soulless, evil vampire and, really, you could only push him so far. As she finished and the words sank in, he found himself forgetting entirely about the chip and about every single ridiculous circumstance that had brought this Buffy to his door. With a reaction that was born out of nothing but instinct, Spike wrenched his arm from the Slayer’s grasp and socked her, on the backswing, right in the face.

It didn’t hurt him, which was a revelation. The chip never fired. And yet Spike was so caught up in the moment, for the moment, that he didn’t quite acknowledge it. He reacted instead, because she reeled back, this slayer, initially, before she recovered, spun, and threw a heavy, hard fist into his stomach, following it up with a knee that quite possibly broke his nose.

Spike yowled – but had enough muscle memory that he was able to grab the foot that was coming for his chin, lifted and threw his opponent into what became an elegant backwards somersault. Still, he pushed his advantage, barrelling the girl back against a cold, dark wall where no one would see him force his fangs into her throat, drink her deep and make the decision for him, lay her dead at the feet of fate so no one could tell him when or what he was meant to do.

And yet, that wasn’t quite what happened. He went for her throat – of course he did – but when Buffy’s fingers forced their way through the hair at the back of his scalp, his face dropped of its own accord. Before even her head could slam into brick, she was kissing him and he was kissing her back, desperately, like he actually loved her after all.

There was nothing inside of him that remembered this. Whatever spell it was that he was under, it didn’t break the moment that she touched him. Quite the opposite, it seemed all too apparent who he was: a lonely, wasted ex-creature of the night, washed up on the shores of mediocrity. There wasn’t enough passion left in him for this particular experience; he felt inadequate, longed quite suddenly to be the sort of man who lived like this, every sense humming with the nearness of his predator.

Spike knew he was done for, but for some reason it seemed like Buffy had it worse. He came up for air not long in, his insides liquid and bright and broken as the vision of the girl filled him; she had tears in her eyes and something like a sob in her throat as she begged him, “Please. Please don’t make me bring you home.” She shook her head, choking on something he could only hope was emotion. “Just say you want to come; don’t give in. Don’t make me…”

“What?” Spike insisted of her, because he was seriously bloody confused. He could barely see her face in the shadow of his; one hand was pressed around the curve of her bum as the other clenched around her shoulder, bra strap like some sort of maddening tripwire beneath his nails. “Don’t make you fucking what?

Caught in momentum, he could only ever drag her closer, but she came with him – a whole elbow around his neck as her mouth seized on his once more. She tasted like quicksilver, some sort of heavy alkaline scourging away every burr and bristle inside of him.

The weight around his neck led to fingers, maddening as they scratched through his shirt, but it was her other hand that was dangerous. Within seconds it had found its way past the buckle of his belt; a few more and it was popping past the buttons on his jeans. His mind almost blank, Spike whimpered, lips slipping out of rhythm to be caught once again; a steady steer showed his balls where to sit and how his cock was meant to slide between knuckles that weren’t his.

A better vampire – and, indeed, a better man – would have figured out this was the moment to find some reciprocal dishabille. As it was, Spike had enough problems riding with the flow as this vampire slayer resolutely gave up on the job. “Fuck me,” he whispered, half to himself and half to the air. He wasn’t entirely certain whether it was a curse or a command.

Of course it couldn’t just be answered by a whimper and a giggle, just as the consequence wasn’t only for him to figure out where his hand was meant to go, even on borrowed denim and a body he wasn’t quite so familiar with.

Because, no, this was his unlife. Which meant the shag of an albeit very short century was interrupted by the scathing, cock-shrivelling put-down of, “Yes, Spike. Let’s all fuck you.”

Oh right. The mission. He’d forgotten about that.

Returned to his senses, Spike immediately tore himself away from strong arms. Unashamed by the rapidly drooping appendage between his thighs, he was slightly worried about its vulnerability – and so tucked the thing away as he took in their new opponents. Buffy wiped at her mouth, proving her true colours once and for all.

It was every ounce of shame and disappointment that he called on as he swore, “Darla.” Then as he looked to the traitor by her side. “Dru.”

The bitch had the temerity to blow him a kiss, even as Darla spoke. “It seems like you’re already ahead of the game, William,” she charged him, dressed like a secretary but tilting her head like she still had ringlets and a corset. With a look of dismissal she turned to address Drusilla, “I’m happy to believe you, she’s the one; but you forgot to remind me how dismal I find the sight of him.”

“But he’s so pretty, grandma,” Dru replied, eyes trained on his ever-shrinking parts. “Like a tortoise without its shell.”

Darla rolled her eyes. Buffy snorted. Spike felt, not for the last time in his existence, as though the fates had a bet on how shit they could make things for him.

The thought passed his mind that they at least probably thought this Buffy was the other one. “Well, come on then,” he said, feeling like a memory had come from somewhere. “Let’s get on with the fighting.”

And so it went, his feelings locked back deep into the heart of him.


Obviously, Dru and Darla didn’t come at them on their own. With one click of someone’s fingers, scads of hulking minions appeared from the shadows, rushing in for the fight.

Spike risked a glance at Buffy, hoping that if she was the Slayer she had at least half the experience she claimed to have with fighting. Apparently he was in luck and she even had a plan, because in the seconds before the mob hit she caught his eyes and commanded, “Get your ex and the Super Slut. These guys’ll keep coming, but they’ll run out of ideas without those two.”

There was no time to do anything but agree, as a microsecond later Spike was hurling his first punch and pushing away from hands trying to grab on hold of him. He didn’t generally carry a stake, because that seemed too much like carrying a death wish, so while he had absolutely no qualms about breaking bones, he was at something of a disadvantage as he muscled his way through the crowd. From the sound of those familiar feral gasps behind him, Buffy at least was weaponed up and putting on a show.

The thought distracted him, momentarily, and a lucky punch found its way into his already bruised stomach. Spike found himself doubled over, supernaturally strong hands gripping him as the fist came again. He snarled, looking up to his assailant through yellow eyes. It was the usual characterless lunkhead who looked back at him, some git who’d been turned probably less than a month ago, had a face like a barn door and was all the uglier for the teeth.

All right, so Spike was pretty certain that in this dimension he was already dead. But it was one thing to go out because he was depressed and paralytically drunk, and quite another to go out to one of Darla’s Angelus-lookalike goons. With a roar that seemed to surprise this guy, Spike surged forwards, ripping his arms from the bastards who were holding him to headbutt his opponent in the face. The prat reeled backwards, and as Spike stumbled after him he could feel his feet tripping on something – a pipe or, as luck would have it, the missing slat off a wooden pallet. It barely broke his stride to snap something useful off of it, and then that make-do stake was plunging into the idiot’s heart.

That victory geared Spike up from some more and he worked his way through minions, trying to catch a glimpse of blonde hair and stuck-up attitude. Hell, he was ready to go for Dru at this point, considering that as far as he could tell she was most likely the reason why he had died here, the fickle bitch.

Nonetheless, it was Darla that he found first, watching the proceedings with a smug smile on her face. When she recognised him emerging from the rapidly thinning crowd, she looked surprised. Spike played that to his advantage, rushing her and her ridiculous teal cardigan back against this new brick wall.

Darla giggled as his body slammed against hers, as she ricocheted backwards and wool crunched on the rough. “Oh,” she exclaimed, suddenly in control as her four-hundred year old hands grabbed his shoulder and his wrist, squeezing not quite hard enough to make Spike drop his stake, but with more than enough strength that he couldn’t move. “Is this what you do on every first date? Because when you’ve seen the same moves used on another girl they just don’t feel special.”

Spike wasn’t stupid enough to fall for this bollocks of hers. Naturally, it was weird to be looking down into yet another tiny face so soon, rippling blonde hair contrasted with dark brickwork. It made his heart clench a bit. But it didn’t keep him from pulling backwards, adjusting so he could come again with an arm across her throat. Now Darla gurgled.

Of course, Spike had no leverage to jam a stake into her heart, but at least he had an advantage. He demanded of her, “What’s your role in all this, Darla?” Another shove, just to show her her place. “What’re you playing at?”

She gurgled again, but Spike knew full well she could still talk if she wanted to, so he didn’t slacken off. A couple of seconds and Great-Grandma seemed to give in to that point. “Take a guess,” she told him, with difficulty but not without spite. “Your little girlfriend.” For some reason Darla kept talking like the joke was on him. “Guess you figured out she’s a potential slayer, but did you know she’s in love with Angelus?”

That deserved another shove, and Spike gave it, every bone in him feeling hard and serious. His boots fought for purchase on gravel and he couldn’t even hear what was going on behind him anymore. “You’re talking rot,” he insisted, because this at least he knew was true. “Girl doesn’t even know Angelus. He’s down fighting ghoulies at the Hellmouth.”

Of course, that was the moment Spike remembered that this Buffy with him, the one he feared he was interested in, she lived on the Hellmouth too. Whether she spotted his hesitation or not, Darla smirked, wincing only a little as he pushed on her harder. “That’s not what Dru saw,” she said.

It was not a moment to get distracted. But, of course, Spike was never one to play by the rules. It only took a moment to realise, after all, that Dru had got her wires crossed – again. Somehow she must have seen the Slayer Buffy coming, and that meant…

Before he could complete that thought, however, he was being stabbed, right in the goddamn kidney. Because he’d failed to remember that Darla didn’t go anywhere without a knife.

“Fuck!” he screamed, reeling backwards as the pain kicked in. He pulled the stiletto out of him and threw it to the ground, unable to believe quite how long the damn thing was. The silver blade glinted in the light.

Darla tried to duck around him, but this wasn’t Spike’s first time on the stabbing train and he’d had quite enough of her, really, for one existence. As she moved to run he leapt on the back of her, forcing every inch of her daft seminary outfit into the dirt. The image flickered through his mind of snapping her neck and leaving her, letting the forty-odd years of memories stay his hand.

Then he remembered he was evil, merciless and impulsive, and it had been too long since he’d had a kill that meant anything. She had a schoolmistress-like scream on her when she was panicked, Darla, but as his own blood sloshed down his leg Spike was deaf to the “William!” she commanded him with. He brought down his makeshift stake, made one solid jab, and the body beneath him crumbled. It was an odd feeling that passed through him then, as he paused and took a breath. He watched his blood dribble into dust and figured there wasn’t really much chance to come back from this.

It was all falling to shit, like it always did. This Buffy – maybe she wanted him, maybe she didn’t – but inevitably it would never be something about him and him alone. It couldn’t just be the story of the Slayer and that vampire with a chip in his head, who despite the odds got caught up in their fatal attraction and shared ill-advised manual sex every second Saturday. No. His wanker of a grandsire had to get a look in, overshadowing every bloody move.

It was enough to make Spike snarl in frustration and run his head into the wall. In fact, that was very tempting as reactions went. But the fight wasn’t over yet, and with Darla’s dust on his knees he really did feel like they were winning.

As the pounding rage left his ears, Spike could hear things were dying down over with the rest of them. He looked up, but was a little surprised to see that Buffy didn’t seem to have won. The Angelus-loving bitch was held in the hands of four minions, and from the other side of the loading bay, wherever it was they now were, she was being approached by his dear old ex, seduction and deception in every swing of her hips.

Spike could still remember what that meant – and was surprised how much the sight panicked him. Miffed though he was, he wasn’t quite ready to see this girl go out to one of Dru’s mind-games, obviously. More than that, however, he realised then quite how much unfinished business it seemed to him there was. It couldn’t all be over now, could it? They’d only just met; he was only just figuring it all out. He’d bloody killed Darla: they were supposed to win.

Unsteady in his limbs, Spike struggled to his feet, struck quite suddenly by his blood loss now the adrenaline was waning. His legs felt weak, too heavy for him – and a laugh bubbled out of his throat as it struck him that this would be the perfect moment for the geas to kick in.

Stumbling the first five yards of fifty he needed to cross, it became clear that Spike wasn’t going to make it. Dru was standing just across from Buffy, her hand raised like Mystic Meg. She had to know, Spike thought, that Darla was gone – and if he knew his Dru that meant she was in it for the vengeance now. That feeling was back with him, the one he got around this slayer: fear and panic, roiling strains of regret digging around the base of his stomach. The docks’ floodlights were bright like a football stadium; the black sky above seemed to mock him, too wide and big and plain for the small group of stick figures he was trying to get towards.

And then, just as Spike figured it was all about to be over, as the pang of loss and regret hit him for real – a pair of headlights flashed on from his right hand side.

The lights were on full-beam; Spike couldn’t look at them – and they distracted Dru as his car then came running straight towards her, the bumper like a battering ram. There wasn’t all that much acceleration left in the DeSoto, but whoever was behind the wheel went gunning for it, not braking as the love of his unlife crumpled onto the bonnet and up over the roof of the car.

It was all a bit much for Spike, in the end. He didn’t know what to feel and he found himself stumbling to the ground, black spots of sleep descending around his eyes. He wondered if he couldn’t wake up to find himself playing chartered accountant in some other godforsaken dimension, because he’d near had enough of this one.

Just before he went, Spike caught sight of some movement in the shadow of one of the buildings. With a flicker of light, the scamper of paws and a meow, one scrawny-looking cat came out of the darkness to inspect the scene, lowering itself on its front legs to get the same view, almost, as he had. It was black, mostly, but with white splotches. In the gloom, its green eyes glinted like knowing, nasty emeralds.

If this was Ketchup the cat, was Spike’s last thought as he faded out – if she’d escaped – then she was smarter than all the other pets he’d given Dru over the years. Most never realised how little interest she had in feeding them. He must’ve made a good choice this time.


Spike woke up on the ride back to the office, in the backseat of his car.

“Learn how to drive, you idiot!”

Cordelia was in the front, honking the horn as she pulled on the brakes. Blearily, he could see the back of a 4×4 through the windscreen – it must have cut in front of them for the intersection.

“Come on!” Honk.

One of the Buffies was in the front with her, laughing. He could see the side of her face, the smile on it. There was a box in her arms that had holes jabbed in it. The whole sight was oddly affecting.

It was only then, a few seconds later, that Spike realised there was someone else in the car. There were fingers in his hair, not really moving; his head was lying on someone’s lap.

Shifting slowly, and quite painfully, Spike looked up. He figured this had to be Vampire Slayer Buffy, smiling at him. Her hair was all askew and a bruise was forming across one cheekbone. “Hey,” she said as their eyes met. A crinkle of humour framed her eyes. “We saved the kittens…”

He ignored her, continuing his inspection. He could feel the bones of her fingers, spread against his cranium. She was breathing in and out, heartbeat a little accelerated – the whole of her a little turned on, it seemed, to have him in her arms. She smelled like sweat and vampire dust, but there was a touch of arousal left over from his earlier attention. What she didn’t smell like was his grandsire, but he knew on that front that you couldn’t always tell.

“You’re in love with Angelus,” he accused her, as firmly as he was able with most of his blood missing and his body nonetheless slumped sideways.

She said nothing as Cordelia shunted them forwards, presumably on the green light. The thought passed through Spike’s brain that they needed a discussion on how to treat a classic, but he didn’t let it distract him from his other current point of focus.

Buffy’s face was unreadable, so he pressured her further. “That’s what you haven’t been telling me, isn’t it?” he demanded, though it came out more like a stuttered whisper. He should have known it was too good to be true, really, in the end – that anyone would travel through dimensions to try and find him. Barely tolerated fuckbuddy, whatever his role was, he couldn’t even play that without being overshadowed by that brooding, hulking git. “I’m your bit on the side, is that it? Bit of rough for when you’re tired of playing his princess?”

As interested as he wasn’t in the goings on at the Hellmouth, Spike hadn’t kept up with what Angelus was doing down there. All right, this dimension was different, but in a lot of respects it seemed to be the same – and Cordelia had told him Angelus still spent most of his time giving pointers from the shadows, acting like he knew it all. He and the Slayer, Faith, they’d had some sort of double act going by the time Cordelia had left. If Spike had to lay a bet, he reckoned they were probably fucking each other and all.

“In my dimension,” Buffy began, glancing at him once before she turned her gaze out of the window. “Angel’s in LA.” Apparently she wasn’t going to answer any of his questions directly, but Spike listened anyway, because that took less effort than complaining. She hadn’t moved her hand from his head. “He’s here. He’s a…” She smiled, remembering a joke. “He’s a private detective,” she said, catching his eye again to make sure he got it. “Not for pets or anything… Just for people. Usually with demony problems.” She shrugged, and Spike was surprised by how little malice there seemed to be in what she was saying. “He has this gang who work with him in this big-ass hotel, and the one who’s been with him the longest is actually this girl called Cordelia.”

At that, Spike did let out a sound of protest. He takes everything, that bastard. Even the image of this particular existence, it seemed, couldn’t be just his alone…

Buffy shushed him, shaking her head. He was watching the lights of the city run in sweeps across the window behind her, her face not quite in focus as she told him, “So, you see, the thing is… If I’m in love with him, then I might as well be in love with you.”

All Spike could think was that this girl was a massive bitch. He’d suffered enough jeopardy for one unlife already; he didn’t need her casting him in this ridiculous double-bind. “What a pile of rubbish,” he said to her, even as he could feel himself fading again. Cordelia’s driving was getting to him, clearly.

“Well,” Buffy replied, apparently willing to talk to herself. “What were you expecting me to say?”

For once in his existence, Spike just wished people would be straight with him.

Of course, it seemed like a losing dream.

.

[Chapter Five]

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/497506.html

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