Word Count: 2800
Characters: Spike, Buffy, Joyce, Giles, with guest appearances by some other familiar faces
Summary: After escaping from the Initiative, Spike weighs his options and seeks help from the Slayer’s Watcher mother.
Warning: Compresses some events in the Season Four timeline. Contains non-canon character death.
A/N: Spike POV. Fill-in-the-blank, though somewhat AU. Contains bits of dialogue from the show, but I do not own any of these characters, alas. enigmaticblues rocks my world. Beta’d by MiAmor, who isn’t nearly tough enough.
It figured that the one time a woman had been completely his, had fully returned his affections, it would be a bloody spell. To have that woman be Buffy Anne Summers, the woman who should by all rights be the third notch on his Slayer of Slayers Champion belt, was the unkindest cut of all.
The hours after Willow returned everyone to normal were worse than finding Drusilla with a Fungus demon. Worse than the wheelchair. Nothing could compare to the pain of knowing, really knowing, what it would be like to have the kind of connection he’d yearned for his entire existence. Knowing what he was missing. Knowing it would never be real for him.
After her over-the-top display of disgust when the spell broke, he had dusted himself off and with a cutting remark about her scrawny ass, had headed for home. Since he hadn’t been provided with an escort, he made a detour through a liquor store window. Nice to know that property damage wasn’t on that scold of a chip’s list of no-noes. Stocked with smokes and a couple of fifths of bourbon, he made his way back to Joyce’s house. At least she hadn’t been around for the whole humiliating show.
Entering the house brought it all back in olfactory sensaround. He slid to the floor of the foyer, his back against the firmly shut door, and started in on the first bottle.
“I only want to make you happy, Buffy,” he’d said. “Never want to see you crying again. Tell me what I can do to bring out that beautiful smile.”
She’d snuggled onto his lap. “You’re doing it. Just being here. Letting me be myself. Just being you. It was an awful day, and now it seems so silly that I ever bothered. Angel will keep doing whatever he wants to do without cluing me in. He’s never going to change. As long as he does it away from us, I’m good.”
At the first mention of his grandsire’s name, he felt the jealousy squirming through him. What was it with these bints and that ox? He held his tongue though, and let her talk. At least she didn’t seem on the verge of tears anymore.
“Did you know he was skulking around town for days? He wanted to protect me from that vengeful spirit guy. Me! And to do it, he talked to everybody except me!”
“Well, he didn’t come around here. Guess he didn’t think to check if your mum needed any protecting.”
She thought about it. “You know, he never did seem to care about her. I’m so happy you get along with Mom.” She snuggled in closer.
“Well, I like her. She’s good people. And mothers like me.” He smirked. She slapped his chest.
“You’re so bad.”
“Better believe it, baby.” He gave her sweet little arse a firm squeeze, which earned a delighted squeak.
“I wonder if it’ll always be this much fun?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” he said, trying for another squeeze while she wriggled around in a most distracting manner.
“Well, we’re going to be together for, what, the rest of my life, right?” He started to pay attention.
“Even with a Slayer lifespan…” He growled. “…it’s still a pretty big step. But it doesn’t feel all heavy and super serious. It feels fun.”
“I’m very serious about fun,” he pointed out. She kissed the tip of his nose.
“I just never knew it could be anything but a heavy drama, I guess. With Angel it was all angst, all the time. He just kept going on about what we could never have. Did you know he had the nerve to tell me he couldn’t give me anything a ‘real girl’ would want. ‘Real girl.’ How insulting is that?”
“Gotta agree with him there. He couldn’t. But I’ve got a few ideas…”
He cradled her face in his hands, intending a playful kiss and getting instead her entire soul expressed through lips and tongue. This was the stuff. It was so much more than physical. He felt outside his body, as if he were floating. He was warm, inside and out, and — except for the weird glimpses of formal wear that flashed briefly through his mind — completely immersed in her. Once they were both breathless, he broke away to murmur into her hair.
“Doesn’t get any more real than you.”
She smiled softly. “Stop.” She bent down to kiss him again.
Then the phone rang. It was Giles. Xander was in trouble.
He still couldn’t believe all that passion and easy camaraderie sprang whole cloth from a witch’s imagination. It had seemed like coming home, like a key in the proper lock. It had seemed right. He knew in his head that it was several kinds of wrong, but he couldn’t seem to get his heart to believe it. He felt out of synch with reality, which made no sense, as it was the spell that was outside reality. Not that he had feelings for the Slayer, of course. He just seemed to have feelings for the feelings he’d felt. And now, he was officially a woman.
He took another slug from the bottle and thumbed the lighter in the pocket of the coat wrapped tightly around him. He didn’t feel the cold, at least not physically, but he needed protection from…something.
He managed to make it downstairs before the dawn crept through the living room windows. He tumbled onto the cot, fully anaesthetized.
He was still there, face down, when Joyce found him the next afternoon. She shook his shoulder and he turned his head to give her a bleary look. She seemed worried. He opened his mouth to tell her he was okay, when she pushed a pad of paper into his hand.
IT’S HAPPENING ALL OVER TOWN.
He asked what she was talking about, but no sound came out of his mouth. She smiled ruefully and pointed again to the pad of paper.
Awake now, he tried again. Nothing. Joyce shook her head and leaned over to write on the pad.
IT’S NOT JUST US. COME SEE THE NEWS.
He nodded and followed her upstairs to see the story on mass laryngitis, Sunnyhell-style.
SHOULD WE FIND BUFFY? Joyce wrote.
SHE’LL BE AT THE WATCHER’S IF SHE’S NOT IN HER DORM. YOU CAN GO WHILE IT’S LIGHT OUT. I CAN FOLLOW ALONG AFTER DARK.
ARE YOU SURE?
He thought about it.
PROBABLY CAN’T GET IN: NO INVITE.
I’LL GO CHECK IN AND COME RIGHT BACK.
He felt a little relief at not facing another whole day alone. Even if the conversation was bound to be sparse.
BE CAREFUL, he wrote. WELCOME HOME.
She laughed silently and headed out the door, pulling on her coat.
He took a shower and went down to the kitchen for breakfast. He was surveying the dishwasher full of clean dishes when Joyce bustled back into the house.
IT’S MONSTERS, she wrote.
THE KIND THAT CUT THE HEARTS OUT OF LIVING PEOPLE.
She shrugged. THEY’RE DOING RESEARCH.
SURE YOU WOULDN’T FEEL SAFER WITH THEM?
MR. GILES HAS A ‘GUEST’, SO IT’S CROWDED. BETTER TO BE HOME.
A WOMAN FROM ENGLAND. NOT A WATCHER.
She shrugged, but he wasn’t fooled. He raised a brow. She waved her hand dismissively.
WE’LL BE FINE. STAY INSIDE. CLOSE ALL THE DOORS AND WINDOWS. THOSE ARE THE ORDERS FROM ON HIGH. POPCORN?
As the early evening slid into night, they had a companionable evening with the telly. When Joyce went to bed, Spike took up a vigil at the living room windows.
A little after 3 a.m., he saw them. Horrible, scampering little creeps, looking like escapees from a lunatic asylum. They ambled down the street from side to side, dragging their long straitjacket sleeves on the ground. If they had been capable of uttering a sound, Spike knew they would be jibbering.
Then, more horrible still, two floating monstrosities came after them. Wearing high-collared, pinstriped suits and smiling like undertakers, they resembled the directors of the workhouses Spike remembered from the bad old days. It had been a singular pleasure back then to bring those self-satisfied pillocks to a doom they thought themselves above.
The floating demons paused at the foot of the walk, and seemed to confer. One gestured toward the house, while the other placed a finger to his temple. The little lunatics hurried back to circle them, waiting. Unable to watch any longer, Spike stormed out onto the porch and glared at them in full game face. Both of the undertakers raised their hands in genteel surprise. The one who had been pointing up the walk now shook his head and made a sweeping gesture down the street. The other nodded and they floated away, though not quite swiftly enough to satisfy Spike.
When he was sure they were gone, he went to the kitchen to heat the last of his blood. His hands shook as he poured it into the mug. What would he have done if they had called his bluff? He had no illusions that they were after his dried up old heart. Joyce’s, however, was just the sort of tender treat demons went for in a big way.
Why should he care? She’d been good and generous with him, true. But he was a vampire, however hobbled, and vampires did not offer themselves up to protect the indigenous population. They did not form alliances with the food. Even as he thought it, he knew it was a lie, at least for him. He’d allied with this woman’s daughter, and now he found himself offering what little help he could to her mother. There was something seriously wrong with him.
Dru had known. She’d seen the weak spot, clear as day, and banished him for it. He drank down the blood, not even bothering to add paprika, and headed downstairs to the remaining bottle of bourbon.
After it all returned to normal — or what passed for it in this shite town — things got even worse. At least, worse by vampire standards. Joyce asked for his help down at the gallery for some heavy lifting one evening, and paid him for his time. She insisted that she was relieved not to have an entirely empty nest, and urged him to stay awhile longer. She offered to do his laundry and picked up blood from the butcher for him. He had to admit that the butcher’s blood, while still disgusting, at least didn’t have the chemicals of the hospital blood. Still, all this domesticity was making him fall deeper into a funk. He kept thinking about how he’d taunted Angel by calling him housebroken.
Buffy stopped by every few days to check on him, which usually meant strong-arming him into doing some sort of housework. The resulting arguments were the high points of his miserable existence. The Watcher started coming around in the afternoons to question him about the para-military men who’d imprisoned him. Baiting the old guy only held so much allure. Besides, he didn’t really have all that much information to share. He’d love to be able to find a way to make every person involved in the whole bleeding enterprise die swimming in their own entrails, but he was — as the Slayer loved to point out at every opportunity — impotent. He got the tiniest satisfaction out of reminding her that she had reason to know otherwise — having spent so much time in his lap — but his nose could only take so much abuse. Not to mention, he didn’t really like to think about what happened during Willow’s spell, either. Though when drifting off in the morning or swimming up toward consciousness in the afternoon, his mind was often full of little details of their encounter. His subconscious was clearly a masochist, insisting as it did on prodding the sore spot. Maybe Buffy had the right idea when she mumbled about investing in a forgetting spell.
Joyce called him down to the gallery one Tuesday night, needing help with a new shipment. He trudged downtown and caught wind of something very specific. Vahrall demons, unless he was very much mistaken. They were true believers, which made them even more dangerous than their already considerable size, weight, and reach would indicate. He took off at a dead run for the gallery.
Turning a corner, he nearly ran into a cluster of enormous college boys, but used his momentum to leap to a second story window ledge before they noticed him. Which was good, because even in America they didn’t make college boys quite that uniformly huge. He watched and listened as they conferred over their walkies and their tricorders and what all, thinking they were so subtle. They seemed to be after the Vahrall, as well. Good luck to them.
He headed for the rooftops, hoping to get a bead on the demon, without alerting the soldier boys to his presence. He had to get to Joyce and warn her. He leapt from rooftop to rooftop, heading west while the soldiers headed south. He saw Buffy leaving the magic store, and dropped down in front of her. If the situation weren’t so serious, he’d have been thrilled with the start he gave her.
“We’ve got to get to Joyce. There are Vahrall roaming about and it’s no good tempting the fates with those blighters. We need to get her to safety.”
She took only a moment to turn and run for the gallery. She called over her shoulder, “Giles’ is closest. We’ll take her there.”
When faced with their unified front, Joyce decided to let the new shipment wait until tomorrow. They piled into the Jeep and drove for Giles’, Spike’s nose sticking out the window to try to pinpoint the location of the demon. When they pulled up in front of the apartment complex he took a good whiff.
“It’s everywhere in this burg. The scent is just as strong here as it was downtown.”
They cautiously climbed out of the car and Buffy led the way through the courtyard, Spike bringing up the rear.
The Vahrall burst from Giles’ front door and found itself faced with the Slayer. It swept her aside with its long arm. Joyce was frozen in its path.
Spike knew he couldn’t fight the thing, but he could at least provide a sorry shield for the woman who had tried to be one for him. He couldn’t see much point to prolonging his pathetic existence, in any case. He might as well go out with purpose, his last sight that of his mortal enemy, the only girl to ever fully love him, even if it had been nothing but an illusion.
He bounded in front of Joyce before the demon had even had time to fully turn back from knocking over Buffy. While it was the slightest bit off balance, he kicked toward its knee while grabbing its long arm and yanking it down into a tremendous head butt. He figured he’d only get in one blow before his head exploded anyway, so he might as well inflict maximum damage. Maybe Buffy would get back in the fight before it recovered.
Ow. Christ, his head hurt. It hurt exactly as much as could be expected from head butting a Vahrall, which he belatedly remembered had extremely thick skulls. He was dazed, but it started to sink in that the electric shock he’d expected to fry his brain had not materialized.
The Vahrall tottered with its knee blown out. Joyce had unfrozen and backed toward the Jeep. Buffy rounded on the demon with righteous Slayer fury. Spike straightened up and threw an experimental punch. No pain. His head was fine. He followed with a fast combo to the demon’s torso, and a spinning kick to its head. Right as rain. Buffy joined in and together they took the demon down. He didn’t stop until he felt the satisfying snap of the demon’s neck beneath his boot.
He roared his joy to the sky.
Windows slammed shut all around them. Buffy put a hand on his arm. He threw it off and grabbed her around the waist and pulled her in for a fangy kiss. She pushed him away, spluttering and pulling a face while he spun and laughed. Catching sight of Joyce’s shocked expression, he melted back into his human guise. He threw his arms wide and announced:
“I can kill demons!”
End Act Two. Continued in Act Three.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/397492.html