Word Count: 4000
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, but who also rocks my world.
ANGST ALERT FOR THIS CHAPTER!
Spike was sitting on the back porch early one evening, having a smoke, when the Fyarl blundered into Joyce’s yard.
Things were really looking up. He felt he was earning his keep in an honorable fashion. This would make the second demon he had saved Joyce from. Whatever would she do without him? He stubbed out his cigarette on the bottom of his boot and placed it in the covered can she had provided. He stood, cracking his neck in preparation for battle.
“Well, what do I spy with my little eye? A demon. That would be…oh right… one of the things I can kill.”
“Spike. Wonderful. The perfect end to a perfect day,” said the Fyarl.
“Yes?” answered the Fyarl.
“Oh, this is bloody brilliant. Stay right there.” Spike opened the kitchen door, and hollered into the house. “Joyce, you gotta see this!”
Joyce appeared at the door a moment later. She startled at the sight of the enormous demon standing in her yard. “Oh my god. What is that thing?”
“That is your lovely daughter’s Watcher, pet,” said Spike.
The Fyarl, who was indeed Rupert Giles, slumped against the oak tree, making it sway alarmingly.
“Hey! Watch the shrubberies, mate,” called Spike, grinning madly.
“I’m calling Buffy,” said Joyce, disappearing back into the house.
“I do wish she wouldn’t,” sighed Giles.
“You know the Summers’ gals, Rupes. They’ll have you fixed up in no time.”
“I rather think I should be capable of fixing myself ,” grumped Giles. “I’m a grown man, after all.”
“Just keep telling yourself that.” He lit another fag. “So, how did you come to this pretty pass, anyway? Don’t leave anything out. I could use a good laugh.”
“Why is it that the only person who has been able to understand a word I say today is the second most likely to torment me?”
Spike was affronted. “Only second? Knew I was slipping. Anyway, you’re speaking Fyarl. Don’t think the kiddies get it in school around here.”
They had a talk about demon linguistics, which sounded funny as hell in Fyarl. Buffy showed up in a towering whirlwind of worry, relief, anger, and Slayerly impulse to action. Spike was thankful that his translation services were needed, which kept Buffy from popping him in the nose as he knew she wanted, just on general principles. God, he wished he could get this chip out and really give her what she needed. Which was a good arse-kicking, of course. From him. He would do it properly this time, without getting distracted.
What she thought she needed was a shot at some fellow named Ethan Rayne, who Spike had to admit had a great sense of humor. It seemed he’d been behind that Halloween excitement a few years back, during which Spike had nearly bagged Buffy. He’d hesitated at the crucial moment, which still bothered him. It had probably been out of some misplaced sense of sportsmanship, he told himself. While Buffy and Giles hatched their plan to save the day, Joyce told Spike about Rayne’s involvement in an incident with enchanted chocolates that had led to the whole town reverting to age sixteen. From her chagrin and the glances she threw toward Giles, he finally had the missing pieces to the puzzle of why she and the Watcher were so skittish around each other.
Buffy pressed Spike into service driving her to the bar where Rayne had mojo’d Giles. She commiserated with the cocktail waitress until she got the name of the fleabag motel where Rayne (a.k.a. Roger Moore) was holed up. Buffy hustled Rayne out of his room and into the Jeep, and they headed back to Joyce’s. Spike admitted that he enjoyed hearing Buffy threaten the rascal. She was cute when she was directing her ire elsewhere.
Presto, chango. Rayne worked the reversal spell in the backyard, and Giles was back in his own body in no time. Buffy started up again on Rayne as soon as it was done. Joyce was charmingly flustered by Rupert’s lack of a shirt. Spike couldn’t see the appeal himself, but long unlife had taught him that there was no explaining the mysteries of attraction.
Take Buffy, for example. There was no one less suitable in all the wide world for him. She was the Slayer, first of all. They were predisposed to kill one another, which was only sexy in an extremely abstract way. She was full of moral certitude, while he scoffed at absolutism. She was a fiery blonde, when everybody knew he preferred cool brunettes, Harmony notwithstanding. She was an irritating, ignorant California girl, willfully so, while he was a well-read, well-traveled man of the world — though he wasn’t in the habit of advertising it. He could go on, but the bald truth was that she fascinated him, however wrong for him she might be. Being near her brought everything into sharp focus, made him think faster, made him feel…alive. None of that mattered, of course, since they would never be anything but enemies, but it was best to recognize the attraction, so as to not give in to it.
Buffy and Giles settled on having Rayne bound by a shaman the next county over until the Council could come retrieve him. Buffy ordered Spike to drive. It was heaven fighting with her over the radio all the way there, and glancing over to see her drowsing all the way back. She really was his favorite enemy.
Spike’s night was going great. He’d won a little at poker down at Willie’s, and had been given reason to snap the earstalks off a Gravlach, which would fetch a pretty penny on the occult black market. He was going to check on Joyce before heading out for a late night sweep. With any luck, he’d run into Buffy in one of the bone yards and get in a little verbal sparring before bed.
He walked in to find Joyce sitting in the middle of a scene of chaos and destruction. The French doors to the living room were hanging by their hinges and the glass was scattered everywhere. The coffee table was in splinters. His wicker chair was flattened. A quick look showed similar signs of violence in the dining room. There was an unfamiliar scent in the room. An earthy girl sweat, not Buffy’s usual bright, fruity potions or Joyce’s spicy perfume.
She looked around at him. He saw the side of her face was bruised. “Faith happened.”
“I’m going to need a little more,” he prompted.
“Faith. She’s the other Slayer.” Ah, the bird called after Kendra had kicked it. That…still didn’t make a lick of sense.
“Why would one of the White Hats do this? Joyce?” She seemed a little shocky. “C’mon, love. Let’s have a cup of tea and you can tell me what’s going on.”
He pulled her to her feet. She let the pieces of coffee table she’d been holding drop. He led her to the kitchen and got her settled on a stool, then busied himself with getting the kettle on. He thought he remembered that sugar was good for people in this condition, so he pulled out a packet of biscuits and put them in front of her. She reached for one and automatically ate it. Things must be serious if she was going to eat sweets without talking herself into it first.
“She came to the door and knocked me out. She tied me up and said all these awful things about Buffy. I think she was going to kill me. Buffy came in and they fought. I called 9-1-1. She’s wanted by the police. Buffy finally knocked her out. They took her away. Buffy’s upstairs. She wanted a bath.”
Except for the part about Buffy knocking out the chit, he didn’t really understand any of her explanation. The idea that Buffy would leave Joyce to face the mess alone was perhaps the unlikeliest bit of all.
The kettle whistled, so he made them both a mug of tea. When he put her mug down in front of her, he saw her staring at the countertop, tears running down her face. Oh hell. He stepped in to wrap an arm around her shoulders and wiped the tears away with his thumb. She leaned into him, shuddering.
“Way to go, Joyce,” came Buffy’s voice from the door to the hall. “Looks like you’re getting more action than I am, these days… Mom.”
Spike turned to stare in astonishment at Buffy. She looked gorgeous. Wanton. She gave him a long up and down and a knowing smile. Something was very wrong.
“So, I’ll just leave you to it, then. I’m going to stop by Giles’ and then, um, patrol. See you around.”
“Okay, honey,” said Joyce. “Please be careful.”
“’Cause if I can’t be good…” said Buffy, waving casually as she left.
“That isn’t Buffy,” said Spike as soon as the door shut.
“What?” asked Joyce, more confused than ever.
“Never mind, love. Just dial Rupert’s number for me, will you?”
Giles picked up on the first ring, and he took the cordless into the next room.
“Giles, you’ve got whatever you call a Slayer May Day.”
“Yes, I am aware that Faith is a serious threat.”
“No, you berk! Something’s wrong with Buffy. She’s not herself.”
“Who do you imagine her to be, if not herself? Don’t flatter yourself that you know her at all, Spike.”
Spike dropped into an unbroken dining room chair and leaned on the table, one hand massaging his forehead.
“Look. Joyce is injured. The police just carted that Faith creature out of here. But Buffy is all wrong. I don’t know how else to put it.”
“Alright, Spike, I’ll bite. What exactly is it that you think is wrong with Buffy?”
He went with his first thought.
“Well, she left the house in a great mess for her mum to clean up, for one thing.”
“I see. You do realize she is a teenaged girl, Spike.”
Spike sighed. Did the Watcher know the first thing about his charge? He had more, though.
“She gave me the eye.”
There was a pause. “What sort of ‘eye’ do you mean, exactly?”
“Even you’re not that old, Rupert. It was the ‘hello, sailor’ eye. Does that sound like Buffy to you?”
“It does seem odd…”
“And she implied there was some hanky panky going on between me and Joyce.”
“What! That doesn’t sound like Buffy at all.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” said Spike. “She’s headed for your place. What’re you going to do about it?”
“I don’t…there’s a Council wet works team in town to deal with Faith. Maybe we can…coordinate with them.”
“Have you lost your mind? Those heartless bastards would rather take out a Slayer than figure out how to cross the street. Look, I’ll tail her over there. You can check it out and hit the books. Don’t take anything at face value, yeah?”
“I’ll do what I can. Thank you for coming to me with your concerns, Spike.”
“Not doing it for you.” He rang off and checked on Joyce, who was still staring into space. He helped her upstairs, saw the state of her room with its broken window and made her promise to go to straight to bed in Buffy’s room, without picking up so much as a shard.
He made it to Giles’ place just as Buffy was leaving. He let her get down the block before knocking.
Giles opened the door. Spike took a deep sniff.
“Those Council wankers have been here?” he demanded. Giles nodded.
“Three that I saw,” said Giles. “I’m still not certain you’re right about Buffy, but she did seem a little…flip. More so than usual.”
“Might be nothing,” Spike agreed, not really believing it. He shrugged and got the scent as well as he could from outside the apartment before setting off.
I occurred to him as he checked the police station, the hospital, and the docks, that he was putting an awful lot of effort into finding out about something that shouldn’t really matter to him. It was the memory of Joyce, looking so tired, hurt, and confused that kept him on the move.
Finally, near the old factory, he picked up the scent. Using all his stealth, he slipped into an abandoned warehouse through one of the clerestory windows. There was a large van inside, matching the description of the one that had collided with the squad car that had been carrying the girl they called Faith. The stop at the police station hadn’t been a complete waste of time, after all. The Council men were grouped on one side, near a portable communications center and the lone hot plate. They were hard men, just the type he would have expected.
He sidled up to the van just as a something inside began pounding away. He used the cover of the noise to creep into the cab. He slid the connecting window open and looked through at the dark-haired girl chained below him.
“Who’s this then?” he asked quietly. She stopped the pounding.
“Spike!” she hissed. “How did you find me?”
He tapped his nose and put a finger to his lips. She nodded.
“The question is, darling, who is it that I’ve found?” he breathed.
“It’s me!” she mouthed. “Buffy! Faith had some gizmo and switched bodies with me! Is Mom okay?”
Her concern for Joyce clinched it. It all started to make sense for the first time in hours.
“She’s in no danger at the moment, Slayer. You, on the other hand…” He looked toward the Council men, who were doing a weapons check in that way that military men always seemed to. “We’ve got to get you out of here. Let me see what I can do.”
He slipped back down onto the van’s seat and thought about their options. He could try to break her out of the van, but it would likely be noisy and take a little time. Their guns weren’t much of a deterrent to him, but they could hurt the girl, and — being from the Council — there was every reason to believe that they had crossbows and what all in their arsenal. The easiest thing would be to just drive right through the roll up doors, but then he’d have to hotwire the thing, which might be tricky. Unless… He checked under the floormat. The keys were lying there, just by the driver’s side door. Pikers.
He stuck his head through the sliding window once more.
“Hang on, Slayer. It could get rough,” he whispered with a wink. She rolled her eyes. He grinned.
He silently slipped the key into the ignition and checked all the possible brake levers and gear shifters. He watched the Council men to make sure they were where they were supposed to be. When they all seemed engrossed in something, he turned the key, put the van in gear and gunned it right through the doors. There was something ridiculously satisfying about property damage.
He wasn’t sure where to go. If the van had some sort of tracking device, he’d best ditch it sharpish. He headed for the edge of town, where he’d been storing the DeSoto. He bumped to a halt, jumped down, and ran to get his lock picks out of the glove box.
Rather than try to get in the back door, he slithered in through the sliding window and rolled out his tools. The girl — he still wasn’t sure what to call her — held out the shackles on her feet and hands. He went to work and had the chains off in a few minutes. She rubbed the raw places once they were off, and stretched her muscles. If he’d made a mistake, now was when he’d find out.
She looked at him with her big brown eyes and the determination in them could only belong to one Slayer.
“Thanks, Spike. Is there a plan?”
That was more like it.
“Well, I figure once you’re all done showering me with gratitude, we could call Giles and see if he and Red have come up with anything.”
“Sounds exactly like a plan to me. But…you’re sure that Mom’s alright?”
“I tucked her in myself,” he said with a leer.
“Oh, gross, Spike!” She slipped through the window into the cab. He gathered up his stuff and followed.
She hopped down to the ground.
“Just for the record, you’re not fooling anybody with that act. Everybody knows how you feel about Mom.”
He landed beside her. He put his hand on his heart and looked stricken.
“My dark secret is out? However will I go on if everyone knows?”
“You’re kind of a goofball, aren’t you?”
He looked sharply at this strange, beautiful girl who was smiling at him almost…fondly. He felt the ground shift beneath his feet, but noticed that she didn’t twitch even an eyelash.
“Get in the car,” he huffed.
“Ja wohl,” she shot back.
They headed to the quickie mart near the freeway entrance, and she dialed Giles. As it started to ring, she handed it to Spike. Giles answered, clearly still awake.
“Hey, Rupert. Got your girl. Things are a bit wonky, though. She’s in the other one’s skin.” He waited for the initial outburst to subside. “Yes, I’m positive. I’ll put her on and you can get the details from her.”
He handed her the phone.
“Giles! Faith had this metal thingie and she…well, okay. Sure. Ask me anything. Oh come on, anybody would know that! How about, um, that time that I brought you the still-growing toenails of my demon roommate and you tried to tie me up? That was funny. Or, or the time you rescued us from the haunted house with a chain saw? That was really cool, by the way. I don’t think I mentioned it at the time. Uh huh. Are we good? Alright, so Faith had this thingie…”
He didn’t pay attention while they hammered out the details. The way she talked about all the Slayer hijinks, it almost sounded like fun. A life filled with all that purpose must feel, well, purposeful.
She hung up.
“Willow thinks she might have a lead on the magic used in the switch. They’re going to work on conjuring another gizmo. Once they’ve got it, I’ll need to find Faith to switch back. In the meantime, I’ve got to lay low.”
They discussed all the places and people she would need to avoid: Giles’ place, her mom’s, her dorm room and classes, the police, and the Council. Spike still needed to avoid the commandos. He remembered his poker winnings and suggested a motel that he happened to know had phone service. It just meant a quick stop by the house to get his money out from under the mattress.
They parked down the street. Spike instructed Buffy to stay low in her seat and pay attention to any movement. He got out of the car, lit a cigarette and strolled down the sidewalk to the darkened house. He let himself in and hurried down to the basement to grab his bankroll. While he was there, he pocketed a few more packs of smokes and tucked the Gravlach stalks into his coat for good measure. He headed back up the stairs.
When he was just at the top, he heard the front door open. Why hadn’t she waited in the car? He closed the basement door behind him and turned to see Buffy — the original model Buffy — heading up the stairs.
They were royally buggered now. A moment later, the new-improved Buffy barreled through the door in hot pursuit. Blonde-Buffy turned with a snarl and Brunette-Buffy charged.
In the near-darkness of the house, Spike watched one of the most spectacular battles he’d ever seen. Blonde-Buffy was fighting for her life, which you would think would give her the edge. But Brunette-Buffy was fighting for something more.
“I won’t let you hurt my mother!” she said, with the even tone of stating an established fact.
“How about we call her down here right now, and we can all rap about our feelings, eh, Faith!”
Brunette-Buffy threw Blonde-Buffy into the living room and stalked after her. Spike darted up the stairs. He met Joyce as she was coming out of Buffy’s room.
“You’d better stay put, love. It’s too dangerous down there.”
“What’s going on? Spike?” He didn’t answer, too busy working out a contingency plan. What if the Slayer in Buffy’s body bested the real Buffy? He didn’t completely grasp the complexity of the situation, but the bitch had already hurt Joyce, maybe tried to kill her. He had to get Joyce to safety if the unthinkable happened.
“Sorry, Joyce. Listen, Faith’s back. Buffy will do what she can, but maybe you should grab your purse, yeah?”
“Faith? She’s back?” Joyce looked alarmed.
“It’s a bit complicated, pet. Just grab your stuff and be ready to come with me.”
She blinked at him but went to gather her things. He walked down a few steps, listening to the furious sounds of the fight.
“You can’t win this!”
“You’re nothing! You’re disgusting! Murderous bitch!”
Finally, there was a sickening crunch. Then silence. He waited, hearing only heavy breathing. He took another few steps, bending forward to see what he could see.
What he saw was Buffy, Brunette-Buffy, staring horrified at the crumpled body of the false Buffy. Her eyes were impossibly huge and her hand covered her mouth, no doubt to hold in the scream that threatened to come out. She dropped to her knees beside the body, hand still over her mouth. She reached out with the other hand to touch the girl lying there. She touched the golden hair, and started to stroke it.
“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.” She began to rock, forward and back.
Spike felt a touch on his shoulder and jumped. Joyce stood behind him, dressed and carrying her purse.
“Is it safe?” she asked. Wasn’t that a fantastic question?
“There was mojo, Joyce. Bad stuff. You hear what I’m saying?”
“It made Buffy and Faith switch bodies. Are you with me?”
She frowned, but nodded again.
“It was Buffy that the police took away, alright?”
She shook her head. “That’s not right. Buffy was right here…” As the pieces fell into place, she nodded again. “Go on.”
“Buffy is still in Faith’s body, Joyce. Can you handle that?”
She stared at him, mouth open. She looked down the stairs and back at him. He nodded. They started down the steps. He heard her gasp as she took in the scene before her.
“Mommy. I killed her. She was going to hurt you and I killed her. Oh my god.”
Joyce moved across the room to kneel next to Buffy. She took her in her arms and stroked her hair.
Buffy’s tears began to fall, and then she was retching.
Giles and Joyce circled the wagons. They decided to put it out that Buffy had gone to Europe after being repeatedly attacked by a deranged — and now escaped — criminal. Spike bundled the body into the trunk of the DeSoto just before dawn. He packed it with ice from the quickie mart and parked it in the shadiest spot he could find in February. Once he’d got a few states over he’d bury her in some out of the way place. A beautiful place, requested Joyce.
The real Buffy was going to be much harder to hide. Wearing the face of a wanted felon cut down on her options. Again, out of state would be ideal. Giles offered to take her on a grand tour of the lower 48, but Buffy pointed out that the two of them together were much more likely to attract Council attention than almost anything else.
Joyce thought of sending Buffy to one of the geographically distant relatives. Perhaps one of the ones in the mid-West who had the only house for miles around. Buffy smiled weakly at that, but agreed that it was…an idea.
In the near term, they decided she should go with Spike, just to get out of range of the authorities after Faith.
Which is why, three weeks later, she has rallied a little. She’s seeing a bit of the world for the first time. Her absolute certainty was shaken, though she’s still determined to do the right thing. She’s a beautiful, fiery brunette: just his type. He’s getting close to telling her so. But for now, they are driving toward Wyoming and fighting over the radio as they go.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/397649.html