Fic: DUST (7/?)

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Dust
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As promised, I’m back with one more chapter to celebrate  seasonal_spuffy. If you want to continue following this fic, I’ll be updating it fairly regularly (couple of times a week at least) on my livejournal. Or you can find it at Elysian Fields or the Bloodshedverse).

Thanks so much to the mods for putting this together. It’s been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for the next go round. :)

First there was Chapter 1 , Chapter 2 , Chapter 3 , Chapter 4 , Chapter 5 & Chapter 6


Title: DUST
Author: knifeedgefic
Era/Season: Season 4 (post “Harsh Light of Day” and “Fear, Itself” but before “Beer Bad”)
Rating: Mature/NC-17 (strong language, sexual situations, adult content)
Genre: other?
Betaed by: goblin_dae, yakimama, and subtilior

Summary: She’d kicked his butt, taken the Gem and sent it off to Angel. Buffy thought she’d seen the last of Spike. Clearly, she’d been too optimistic. That he was in her house, in her room, waking her out of a sound sleep and asking for (okay, demanding) her help meant that something had to be majorly wrong. They weren’t due for another apocalypse, but… why else would a vampire make a truce with the Slayer?

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all recognizable characters, locations, and dialogue belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the various writers. This is written purely for fun.

7.

They made it three whole blocks before Spike’s silence made her snap.

It wasn’t like him to just shut up when she told him to, and even less like him not to rub salt in her obviously raw wounds. She glared at him every now and then, just so he wouldn’t think she was peeking at his expression. He ignored her, scowling and smoking and kicking at trash on the sidewalk.

“Okay,” she said when she’d had enough. “Go on, say it. I know you’re dying to.”

“Already dead here,” he said. “And I haven’t the faintest bloody clue what you’re on about.”

“Parker! I know you’re just waiting for the right moment to point out what an idiot I am to have thought… what I thought. So, go on and say it. Tell me I’m dumb to have fallen for his routine, and… and that only a total slut sleeps with a guy she’s barely known a week! Tell me that I’m just another stupid college girl who… who… what?”

Spike’s mouth twitched. “Didn’t say anything, Slayer,” he said, looking far too amused. “Apparently I don’t need to. You’ve buttoned it up neatly. Or maybe it was unbuttoned?”

“You’re a pig, Spike,” Buffy growled, trying not to rise to his bait. Unfortunately, she was dealing with Spike.

“And you’re an uptight bitch. Seems to me you needed a good seein’ to. Do you a world of good to get your rocks off every now and then. All the better if it brings you down amongst us swine. Tell me, what’s the air like up there on your bloody high pedestal, Miss Martyr? Getting enough oxygen for your brain?”

“Shut. Up.”

“Sod off, Slayer. You just commanded me to talk!” Spike whirled and stomped right into her personal space, his face so close to hers she could study that scar through his eyebrow in minute detail. The lamplight reflected in his dark eyes made him look feral and furious. “Since you’re just dyin’ to hear it, here’s my piece—not everything is about you, Slayer. Just because the whole sodding town is under a spell and now you’re not, it doesn’t necessarily follow that some nancy little fairy did it just so that you could find your thrice-damned soul-mate. Face it, sweetheart, you’re not the princess or the prince or even the enchanted fucking frog! This isn’t some bleedin’ fairytale! This… this is hell. And we’re both stuck in it. The faster you get that through your ridiculously self-centered skull, the faster we can break the bloody thing.”

He paused, seething. “The spell, I mean. Not your skull. Though I’d be insanely happy if I could break that, too.”

God, he always knew just how to do it, didn’t he? She could hide from everyone else, if she wanted, but Spike saw straight through her to the scared, selfish, desperate girl inside. It wasn’t true. She didn’t want to believe it was true. Only in a way it really was, and that’s what hurt most of all. She had assumed too much, too easily. She’d thought… well, it didn’t matter now, did it? Not when reality was the guy she thought she might be falling for bookended by the Doublemint Twins.

Still, that didn’t give Spike the right to mock her for it.

Furious, blinded by hot tears, she swung. He caught her easily by the wrist, twisted her arm behind her back and yanked her hard against him, then pushed her up against the lamppost. “Well, now,” he rumbled, his voice low and threatening right beside her ear. “Just like old times, yeah?”

“Let go of me,” she ordered, struggling. But he’d clearly learned since the last time they’d played this scenario, and managed to hold her still. When she tried to head butt him, he just leaned back out of her reach and used his hips and arms to pin her against the post. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and Buffy felt herself freeze as she realized just how precarious her position actually was.

“Not yet,” he said, leering, his tongue pressed against his upper teeth. “Don’t particularly fancy getting dusted because Slayerella got what she wished for. Now, I was gonna keep my big mouth shut, but you asked me to say what I was thinking, so I did. Not nice to punch a bloke for following your orders.”

His body was like steel against hers, his grip unrelenting. If he wanted to kill her, he could do it now, easily. All it would take would be for him to shift into game face. Instead, he kept his human disguise, though his mouth was twisted with derision. He wouldn’t kill her, she assured herself, trying to calm the frantic gallop of her heartbeat. Not now, not when he still needed her. Buffy was certain of that.

She forced herself to relax in his grip. After a prolonged moment just to prove his point, he released her and stepped back.

Of course, just because he proved a point didn’t mean he was right. So, as soon as she was free, she punched him. He swore and staggered, his expression murderous.

“You totally deserved that,” she said, planting her feet and balling her fists, ready for him to come at her again. Instead, Spike drifted back another foot, until he was just on the edge of the light. He glared at her.

“Why couldn’t I have gotten stuck with the little witch? At least she’d be useful. You’re nothing but a pain in my arse, Slayer.”

“Yeah, well, I’m all you’ve got. You woke me up, you asked for my help—so deal with it, Spike. And if you ever try that crap on me again, you can forget your free pass out of town when this is over.”

He snarled and swore and called her a few nasty names, but in the end he stood his ground and didn’t retaliate. Buffy took a calming breath, counted to ten like Giles had taught her and tried to focus on the real problem, instead of the pissed off vampire with the grabby hands. “Okay, so… We’re still at square one, right? Big stupid spell or curse or whatever, and no idea who cast it or why or how to break it. Which means we have to hit the books. I guess we head over to Giles’ and start looking for… something.”

She sighed, remembering again how much she so didn’t enjoy research. For a minute she kinda wished Spike had gotten stuck with Willow. Only… the last time that happened he’d kidnapped Willow, bashed in Xander’s head, and then run around town eating perfectly innocent shopkeepers and conning her mother… No. It was probably better that she was the one here, since she was the only person capable of physically stopping him if he decided to go on another Sunnydale fun-spree. Besides that, Willow claimed she still had nightmares about Spike and broken bottles. She’d have been terrified if she’d been put in this situation.

“Whatever you say, Slayer,” Spike said with enough mockery lacing his tone to make her hackles go straight back up. “But we need to make a stop first.”

“Where?” she asked, knowing she wasn’t going to like the answer.

“Willy’s.” He shoved his fists in his pockets and started walking. “There is no way in hell I’m doing this sober.”

***

Buffy knew she probably ought to have objected to Spike pilfering whiskey, but she figured a well lubricated Spike would be a whole lot easier to handle.

Then she realized that it was a very, very good thing she hadn’t said that out loud.

She ignored his raised eyebrow—there was no way he’d missed the furious blush—and headed for Giles’ door, all thoughts of Spike and lubrication chained up and shoved into a dark and dusty corner of her brain.

Spike was just as eager as she was to put an end to this whole situation. There really wasn’t any reason for him not to cooperate, but letting him have a bottle or two of whiskey couldn’t hurt. With his vampire constitution, it’d take him a good long while to get blitzed anyway. She’d just keep an eye on him, and stop him if he looked like he was going to turn fangy. Of course, there was always the happy possibility that he’d pass out and leave her in peace for a few hours.

Then again, she thought, stopping in the middle of Giles’ living room and feeling that teeny thread of panic worming its way into her gut, that would stick her with most of the research.

“Okay, so … you take the shelves over there and I’ll … start on these, I guess. Any idea what we should be looking for?” she asked, eyeing the massive bookcases with more than a little trepidation. Why, oh why couldn’t this be a simple demon problem? Hacking heads off a hydra would be easier than this.

“Forgetting something, Slayer?” Spike asked. When she turned to look at him, he was doing that freaky thing where he leaned against the invisible barrier. He took a long swig from the bottle of whiskey and raised his eyebrows.

“Oh,” she said, frowning. “Come in, Spike.”

The barrier stayed firmly in place.

“Doesn’t work like that,” he reminded her, then nodded at the couch and the blissfully snoring Watcher. “I’d need him to do it. You don’t live here.”

“But…” She glanced around at the bookcases lining the walls of Giles’ apartment, at the books piled in the corners that he hadn’t had room to shelve yet, and then remembered the stacks of boxes she’d helped move upstairs into the loft and the downstairs spare bedroom. She groaned. The entire contents of the old Sunnydale High School Library were in here, and her research assistant couldn’t get past the threshold. For the first time in months she really regretted blowing up the school. “Great,” she muttered. “So… what do we do?”

“Should probably look for a book with reversal spells first,” Spike said.

“Okay,” Buffy said, glad to have a direction. Then she paused. “Uh… I don’t suppose it would say Book of Reversal Spells right on the cover, would it?”

“No wonder Slayers need Watchers,” Spike muttered. “Just drag that pile over here.”

So Buffy picked up the nearest pile of books and handed it over the threshold. Spike dragged the little iron table and patio chair over by the door, under the outside light, and started flipping through the stack. Which left her with… well, everything else.

Finally she shrugged and started with the first book on the first set of bookshelves. Well, the first one she could reach, at any rate. She would figure out what to do about the taller shelves later. The book was old, and the spine crackled when she opened it, releasing enough dust to make her sneeze. She stared at it for a few minutes, then flipped a few pages. Then she flipped a few more. She tried turning the book upside down. That didn’t help.

“Problems, Slayer?” Spike asked. He was leaning back in his chair, an open book in his hand and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

“It’s… I think this one is in Latin. Or… Russian. Maybe Greek? The letters aren’t… letters,” she said. Then she sank down on the floor, blinking back tears again. “This is impossible. We need Giles. Or Willow. Or… a translator program or something. This is like looking for a needle in a… a… Latin haystack! Why can’t they publish translations, huh? I mean, who even reads Latin anymore? Besides Watchers, I mean. It’s a totally dead language.”

“Guess it’s a good thing I’m dead then, yeah?”

“Huh?”

“I read Latin,” Spike said, looking smug and almost embarrassed at the same time.

You read Latin?” Buffy stared at him, incredulous. She had the feeling that if Spike could blush, he would be right now.

“Learned it when I was human,” Spike said, defensively. “Read French, Spanish, and a few other languages besides. Can get by in a few demon languages, too.”

“Demons have languages?”

“Well, what do you think all that snarling and growling is about? Look, if you can’t read it add it to my pile.”

It sounded fair enough, and considering Giles’ love for all things old and boring it meant that Spike would probably be taking the biggest—and hardest—chunk of the research. Buffy got up and added the book to Spike’s stack, then went back to the bookshelf. She ended up depositing half the shelf on Spike’s table before she found one she could read. Unfortunately it seemed to be a history of some creepy vampire back in the Middle Ages. The next one, though, looked like it might have something to do with magic. She took it over to the couch and started reading.

***

Spike leaned back in his chair and took a long drag on his cigarette. Through the veil of smoke the light from the flat took on a soft, dreamy quality. Framed by the doorway, the Slayer sat with her head bent over a book, one leg tucked up beneath her. Golden hair spilled over one shoulder, curling slightly at the ends. The light gilded the side of her face, tipping her nose with a rosy hue and glowing through the shell of one ear. He could almost pick out all the capillaries in the delicate flesh.

Her lips moved as she read, which amused him. He found himself fascinated by their shape as he watched her silently mouth the words, lips pursing and stretching, her little pink tongue darting out to wet her lower lip when she reached a particularly difficult word. It was so very nearly erotic that he had to adjust his cock when it started to harden against the seam of his trousers. Then he snorted with disgust. I need out of this fucking town.

He wanted to be somewhere warm, humid, with lots of young, dark and exotic female flesh. Soon as he got out of here, he could head back to Mexico, maybe. Tijuana. Little too dry there, but they more than made up for it with alcohol and pretty little señoritas willing to do just about anything for a handsome gringo. Pasos de baile, señor? Mas Tequila, por favor? The blood in Tiajuana was hot and spicy, and they squealed so bloody lovely when he sank in his fangs.

Or there was Cancun. Nothing quite like sucking lime and salt and blood off the tits of some bleary little coed, down from the States on holiday and barely legal. Plenty of lost little lambs without any mum or dad—or Slayer—to keep an eye out.

Then there was Brazil. Rio de Janeiro with its dark-eyed girls and night air so thick and humid and salty with sweat it was like bathing in blood. Dru might still be in Brazil. Or she might’ve gone further south, down to the tip of the continent where there were no lights to block her view of the stars.

What could she see there, with her view so clear?

Him, maybe? Stuck in Sunnyhell and playing at study buddies with the Slayer?

Would she cry? Rage and weep and slaughter until the seas around the Cape ran red with blood? He’d like that—proof that she was jealous. That’s all it was, after all, misplaced jealousy. Dru had always been the jealous sort and he shouldn’t have been so surprised when she’d focused her envy on the Slayer. The Slayer who had turned even Angelus’ ponderous head…

What the hell was it about this girl? She wasn’t anything special—Calling aside. Self-righteous and self-involved, with so many insecurities hidden beneath that polished facade; if she was a diamond, he could grind her to dust for all her flaws. She had wit, though, and guts; he’d grant her that. But she wasn’t particularly intelligent, or sweet natured, or rich—the sorts of things he’d valued back when he’d been a nancy little prat of a human.

Oh, sure, she was pretty enough for a valley girl. But she was hardly stunning, no matter how much he squinted. She was … tiny, with twiggy little limbs, a snub nose, and those big empty eyes. Her hair, however … fuck. He wished she’d hack if off again. It’d been much shorter the first time he’d met her, and not nearly as gold.  When she walked now it swung back and forth, calling to every immature impulse in Spike’s impressive repertoire. He wanted to pull it, stick gum in it, maybe dip the end in ink. Better yet, that long, sleek ponytail made him itch to wrap it around his fist and yank her head back, giving him access to the smooth column of her throat. Spike couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen such a swan-like neck. It never failed to make his mouth water.

Altogether she was the kind of baggage that vamps like him picked up for a quick snack between more substantial meals. The sort that you just knew would scream prettily and put up a token fight before you tore out their sweet throats.

Only in her case, once you’d cornered her in an alley she’d toss off some smart-mouthed little quip and then commence kicking your arse. It was as if she’d been specifically designed to lure a vamp; she was the perfect, deadly bait.

She blinked and stretched, then set aside the book she’d been flipping through and reached for another. There were bruises starting to shadow the fragile skin below her eyes. She was getting sleepy, he thought…

Then he straightened, and if his heart worked, it would have thumped hard.

“Slayer!” he barked.

“Huh?” She glanced up at him, and the slightly glazed look in her eyes confirmed his suspicions.

“Snag a few books and let’s head back to your place,” he said, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.

“Why?” she asked, confused. “We just got started.”

“And you’ve been up now for almost twenty-four hours. You look like you’re about to collapse right there beside the Watcher.”

“What do you care?” she asked, her tone heavy with suspicion.

“Don’t,” he assured her, gritting his teeth. “But if you nod off in there and the spell kicks in, I can’t wake you up again. Well, I could lob books at you, I suppose. Fair’s fair, right?”

For a moment he thought he saw a flash of fear in her face.

Then she shrugged and gathered up the stack of books at her side. “Fine,” she said. “We’ll take whatever we’ve got that we haven’t read back to the house. I guess I can always come back and get more tomorrow if we don’t find anything useful tonight.”

“I’m done with mine,” he said. He’d been done for the better part of the last half hour, in fact—giving him ample time to study his enemy. Hell, he should have sussed out that she was sleepy when she’d failed to notice. He hadn’t exactly been subtle about staring, after all. Not that he gave a monkey’s arse whether she noticed or not, but she was the Slayer-she should notice when a vamp had her in his sights and was practically measuring the length of her throat. More importantly, she should notice that he had been studying her. He was her fucking arch-nemesis, after all; not some namby-pamby vamp to be dismissed like he was nothing but stake fodder.

She looked up at him sharply and he realized he’d growled.

“What?” she demanded, glancing behind her as if something other than her could possibly be irritating the hell out of him at that moment. Oh, that absolutely tore it.

“I’m hungry,” he snarled. “Skipped breakfast because I had to chase your arse all the way cross town again.”

“You just… fed a few hours ago,” she said, gathering her books and a few more—probably more useless shit she’d expect him to read. Which he would, in his own sweet time. On his own terms. When he wasn’t getting mad enough to spit.

“Eight hours ago, and I didn’t eat for days before that.” He watched as she put his finished stack of books inside and then closed the door.

“Oh,” she said, with a little frown. “I didn’t realize … how, uh, how often do you have to … you know?”

“Drink blood” He ran his tongue over his canines, just to fuck with her.

She frowned harder. With any luck her face would stick like that, he thought. “How often?”

Shouldn’t she know this? “Need about eight pints a day,” he lied. “Prefer ten.”

That startled her. Good, he thought. Then she scowled. “You do not,” she said. “You’d have to kill—”

“Average adult human has ten pints of blood,” he said, lighting a cigarette and listening to her heartbeat accelerate. Just because her Watcher was asleep didn’t mean she ought to shirk her education—and who was he to stand in the way of total Slayer enlightenment? “But I only need to drink about a third of that to kill one, usually. I like to space out my meals, you know? Eat too much in one sitting and you get indigestion. I ate this really fat bloke once, when I was still young and let me tell you, Slayer, that was—”

“Shut up,” Buffy growled. Her cheeks were flushed and she was clutching her books so hard her knuckles had gone white. “Just… shut up, Spike.”

“Just figured, since we’re roomies and all now, you’d want to know,” he said, feeling much more cheerful than he had a moment ago.

“We’re not roomies,” Buffy said. “We’re not roommates or friends. We’re…” Her voice trailed off as she visibly struggled to find a term for their relationship. “I sent my last roomie to hell, by the way.”

“What?” He frowned at her in turn. And suddenly she was grinning, and his good mood was evaporating with every step.

“Yep. My first roommate at college. Kathy,” she said. “Nice girl. Perky. Listened to a lot of Céline Dion.”

“No wonder you killed her.”

Buffy looked startled. “Oh! I didn’t kill her. Not exactly. She was really a demon. Her dad or something showed up and sucked her into another dimension because she didn’t have a soul. She was trying to steal mine by sucking it out of me. It was a whole big sucking thing.”

“Why?” Spike felt his confusion deepening. Why would any self-respecting demon want a soul? Souls were just a lot of trouble. After all, he was supposedly soulless, had been for more than a century, and he was doing just fine. And look at Angel, all souled up and ridiculous, playing at being a hero and stuck tossing off for eternity just in case he got a bloody happy and accidentally lost the fucking thing.

“So she wouldn’t have to go home, I think,” Buffy said.

“Should have killed her,” Spike started to flick his cigarette into a pile of trash left by the curb, then thought better of it. With his luck it’d start a bloody fire and burn the town down and him with it.

“Well…” Buffy said. “I kinda tried. I mean, she clipped her toenails really loudly. And she labeled her eggs! Who does that? And then there was the phone thing, and ironing her jeans. And my sweater! She totally stole my sweater and dripped ketchup on it deliberately…”

Amused, Spike listened to the Slayer get into her rant, mentally cataloging the clearly evil Kathy’s crimes and misdemeanors. Who knew you could royally piss off the Slayer with nothing more than anal retentiveness? It was almost ironic, considering how anal she was herself. He wondered if she might have accidentally sat on a stake at some point and just never noticed.

“What are you looking at?” Buffy said, startling him back to attention again. They were at her house, and she’d already gone up the two steps to the porch. Spike lingered on the walk.

“Your bum,” Spike said, eyeing it a moment longer than was strictly necessary and giving her his best smirk.

Why?” Buffy demanded, glancing behind her as if she could look at it herself. “Do I have something on it?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Wanna strip off your trousers so I can get a better look?”

“Ew! No! Gross!” Buffy said, her eyes wide with horror. Then she blushed clear to the tip of her ridiculous little nose. “Why would you even be checking out my butt anyway?”

“I’m male. You were walking in front of me. It’s what I do.” Spike savored the uptick in her heartbeat and the embarrassed flush creeping up her neck.

“Well… don’t,” Buffy said. “Just… don’t. That’s gross, Spike.”

“It’s perfectly normal. All men do it. Built in instinct. You gonna make a new house rule, Slayer? No staring at your arse?” He raised an eyebrow as he passed her and held the door open for her.

“You’re not a man,” Buffy retorted, and swept past him into the foyer.

***

Buffy ignored Spike as she put her stack of reading materials on the dining room table. And of course he wasn’t carrying anything at all; he hadn’t even asked if he could carry hers. Which just went to prove that vampires were never gentlemen.

She ignored Spike as she went to the kitchen and rummaged in the fridge for something to eat, doing her best to block out any and all memory of his eating habits. In the end she unearthed a plastic container of leftover spaghetti and popped it in the microwave to heat before he could put his nasty blood in there.

She ignored him as she sniffed at what was left in the carton of milk, though she was tempted to ask him if it smelled sour. It seemed okay to her, but with his nose… and that was an icky enough thought for her to decide to be safe rather than sorry and dump the remainder down the drain. She’d just have to go get new milk tomorrow or something.

She ignored him while she ate her nutritious and delicious leftover spaghetti, and instead pictured her mom sitting at the island beside her. Which worked right up until she smiled and half turned, and realized that her mother looked nothing like the pale and cranky vampire who was smirking at her over the rim of a coffee mug filled with blood.

“You look tired, Slayer,” he said with mock concern. “Careful you don’t nod off in your plate there. Be funny if you fell back under the spell that way.”

“I’m not going to…” Buffy trailed off as she realized that she had no way of knowing if she would fall back under the spell or not. Just because Spike had been fine didn’t mean she would be—she’d already succumbed to it once, after all. “You’ll wake me up again, right?” she asked.

“Sure,” Spike said, too easily for her comfort. Then he pointed a finger at her. “Not letting you off the hook that easily, Slayer. You promised to fix this. We’re in this together. If I have to hit you with every soddin’ shoe in town, I will.”

He would, too, she thought.

On the heels of that came another thought. “It’s dark out.”

“Well, would you look at that. So it is. Wonder who turned off the bloody sun?”

“You’re not funny.”

“Did you have a point, there, Slayer, or were you on your way to inventing fire?”

Maybe she was just tired, or maybe practice was paying off because it was easier to ignore him this time. “What are you going to do while I’m sleeping?” she asked suspiciously.

“Slaughter everything in sight, set Main Street on fire, and dance naked on your Watcher’s lawn, that all right by you?” Spike raised his eyebrows and batted his eyelashes innocently at her. When she glared at him, he set his mug down on the countertop and leaned toward her. “I’m gonna read through those bloody books you brought back, make notes, have a smoke or ten on the porch, and if I’m really bored I’ll watch the telly. Won’t exactly fill my evil quota for the night, but it’s all I’m gonna do. I trusted you not to stake me while I slept, think I deserve the same consideration.”

“Trust is something you earn, Spike,” Buffy said, only slightly mollified. “You’re a mass murderer—”

“That stayed in your house for three days without harming so much as a hair on you or your mum’s head. I’ve got just as much reason as you to want to lift this spell. I’m hardly going to do anything that might jeopardize that.”

Buffy frowned. “You talk like Giles sometimes, you know that?”

“Sod off,” Spike growled. He snatched up his mug, drained the rest of the contents in one gulp, and headed for the sink. “Go to bed, Slayer. I’ll wake you around sunrise. Would you prefer your wake-up call from Converse or Doc Marten?”

____________

Chapter 8

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/470754.html

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