Title: Fools Rush In
Chapter 2: The Gentle Art of Persuasion
“So then, Buffy got into the Drith Nac crackers and popped one open. One minute she’s all, ‘oh, sad slayer, poor me.’ Next thing you know she’s singing disco tunes and juggling the shrunken heads.”
“I wasn’t aware Buffy knew how to juggle.” His voice coming from somewhere in the back of the store, Giles sounded aggrieved, as if this bit of Buffy trivia might somehow be critical to her duties as a slayer.
“And I didn’t know she was a closet Bee Gees fan,” said Willow, sounding almost as put out.
Spike looked heavenward, as if asking for strength.
“Long story short, chit stuck her nose in where she ought not have done,” he said. “What a surprise.”
“Well, it wasn’t completely her fault. I mean, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let her start the inventory while I went to the bank. But I specifically told her not to mess with anything! Just check the labels, I said, don’t open the boxes.”
“Half a mo, Red,” Spike halted the Witch’s narrative with an upraised hand. “Left that part out just now, didn’t you? Mean to say you left a fidgety slayer on her own to inventory a box of party magicks, while you skipped out on an errand?”
“No!” Willow interjected. “I mean, not alone. Not exactly.”
“Here now, what’s that supposed to mean?” Spike replied.
“Yes, how exactly ‘not alone’ was she, Willow, if you don’t mind my asking?” Giles emerged from between two bookshelves, carrying a thick volume in one hand.
“Well, Dawnie was just coming in as I was going out, so—”
“Oh, good call, that!” Spike broke in derisively. “Dumb and dumber. Bloody fantastic, Witch.”
“I was gone less than five minutes!” Willow was indignant. “Most people can’t even go to the bathroom in that amount of time, much less get themselves infected by a demon-incubating party trick!”
“Over my years as her Watcher,” Giles remarked mildly, gravitating back to the bookshelves in search of another Latin grammar, “I’ve found it’s impossible to overestimate the degree of trouble Buffy can inspire in a relatively miniscule amount of time.”
“What he said,” Spike chimed in. “Common knowledge, Red. Ought to have known better.”
“Woulda, shoulda, coulda. It happened, okay guys? And now we have to deal. Buffy’s going to turn into whatever kind of demon she’s closest to when the spell hits critical mass. And once she does, it’s really important to keep her under lock and key. ‘Cause if a player leaves the party before they change back, they could get stuck in their new form. Forever! The directions are very clear about that. So we have to control the outcome of the spell, and we have to keep Buffy safe until it wears off. And to do that we need your help, Spike. Tell him, Giles.”
“I’d really rather not. You’ve managed to convince me that Spike is our only reasonable option at such short notice, but only by a hairsbreadth.”
“It’s the only way, Giles, and I’ve already explained why I think it’s safe for Spike to babysit Buffy.” Willow waggled her eyebrows suggestively.
“Still don’t see how all this adds up, Red,” said Spike, closely inspecting his nails. “Why drag me into it? Why a bleedin’ vampire, for fuck’s sake? Why not someone like… Clem, f’rinstance.” He brightened at this idea. “Nice enough blokes, Valla demons. Lot less risk the Slayer will do something she regrets, if she does manage to slip the traces.”
“Clem is very sweet, Spike, but he has the attention span of a marmot.” Willow frowned her cute little frown. “It could start with an innocent game of kitten poker and end up with Buffy married off to one of his cousins.”
“Slayer might fancy that,” Spike mused. “‘Bout as domestic as they come, Vallas. Could have that normal life she’s always nattering on about.”
“Be serious, Spike.”
“Am serious. Last thing she’d want is a stint as a vampire, even a brief one. And chaperoned by yours truly? Please. Go right off her nut, she would. Gratitude at the end of a stake, that’s what I’d get for my trouble.”
“You’re wrong, Spike.” Willow spoke with authority. “Buffy knows you wouldn’t do anything to hurt her now. You totally proved it when you let Glory play Go-Fish in your tummy last week. I mean, that had to hurt. But you didn’t cave! You really came through for Buffy. And for Dawn. Buffy trusts you.”
“Does she, now,” said Spike quietly, as if to himself. Something soft yet fierce glinted in his eyes and was gone. “Look here, though,” bravado returning, he tilted back in his chair and swung his boots up to rest on the tabletop. “What’s to stop me makin’ off with her the second she vamps out? Could keep her well under wraps, ‘til it’s too late for you lot to change her back.”
“My point exactly, much as it pains me to find us in agreement,” said Giles.
“Make a hell of a vampire,” Spike said with a far-off look in his eyes, as if contemplating some darker, better world. “Master of Sunnydale in no time.”
Giles opened his mouth to reply, but Willow forestalled him with a hand on his arm.
“You wouldn’t do that, Spike,” she said.
“Try me, Witch.”
“God! Would you stop with the Big Bad and just listen to me for a minute? You won’t do it because you know Buffy would hate it. And it would kill Dawn. And you say you love them both, whatever that means for you, so — ”
“Same as for you and that pretty Tara of yours, that’s what. Love’s love.”
“Well, okay then, mister! Love is love! And you love Buffy! So why can’t you do this for her? Just stay close for a little while to force the transformation, then keep her safe until it wears off. Is that really so hard?”
“Talkin’ about the Slayer here. Much as I love her, when is anything to do with that wench ever easy?”
Willow seemed about to protest, then shook her head.
“Point taken. But it’s just for a few hours. And it’s the only way to guarantee Buffy’s safety.”
“Willow, may we speak in private?” Looking pained, Giles took Willow’s arm and led her to a corner of the store as far away from Spike as possible.
“What, Giles. I know you’re not happy about this, but we’ve been over it and over it, and we really don’t have a choice.”
“Are you sure we can’t wait until Angel—”
“He’s not even returning my calls, Giles.” Willow’s voice was an urgent whisper. “We have to do something now, while we can still control things. And I told you, I’ve got Spike covered. Between the chip in his head and the ward around the house, he can’t do anything to hurt Buffy.”
“I must tell you, Willow, this goes against every instinct I have as Buffy’s Watcher. To place her in the hands of William the Bloody, notorious even among vampires, the Scourge—”
“—of Europe, eats babies for breakfast, already killed two slayers, yada yada yada. I know all that, Giles. But third time’s the charm, and this time he’s in love with one. I had Tara peak at his aura after that whole Glory thing last week, and she says whenever Buffy’s around he might as well be wrapped in cotton candy, he’s so pink. And vampires aren’t even supposed to have color in their auras.”
“Pink, you say? Perhaps I might mention that to Spike.”
“Very professional, Giles. No. Now come on, the Drith Nac clock is ticking.” Willow pulled him back to the table, where Spike was still as they’d left him, tilted back in his chair, contemplating his boot tops.
“Here’s a thought,” said Spike. “Why can’t you or the Watcher babysit? No demon, no change, right?” He looked hopeful.
“We can’t be sure of that,” said Willow. “She might just stay all giddy and suggestible until a demon does come along. Or, it could be some kind of wild card thingie, and then who knows what kind of demon she might turn into.”
“I’m working on a full translation of the original — that is, the Latin — instructions that came with the box of Drith Nacs.” Giles was heading back to the table now. “But it’s going to take some time. The English directions don’t appear to cover this kind of situation.”
“Because it’s completely barmy, that’s why!” Spike blustered, then continued in calmer tone. “Where’s the Slayer at the moment, Red? On board with all this, is she? Like to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
“Oh, well. Buffy? She’s… she’s at home.” Willow cleared her throat. “Sleeping.”
Spike just looked at her, waiting to hear where this was going.
“Thing is, she was really giddy from the effects of the Drith Nac, ‘cause, you know, a little like having too much champagne? Way too much champagne. And she wasn’t exactly being cooperative. So I had to do a napping spell to get her home safely. But she should be waking up soon, and when she reads my note, I’m sure she’ll agree that you—”
“Bloody hell! You left the Slayer alone at the house? What about this proximity thingie you were on about? Always a nasty or two hanging about the Slayer’s neighborhood on a dare. She could be a Fyarl demon by now.”
“No, no worries! See, I set up a ward. A very strong, very specific kind of ward. To keep Buffy in, and everyone else out.”
Spike stared at Willow incredulously.
“You telling me you grounded the Slayer?”
A snort of amusement from Giles, deep in his Latin grammar.
“Um, I guess I kind of did.” Willow let out a nervous laugh. “Do you think she’ll be mad at me?”
No, you she’ll forgive. Me, she’ll find a way to blame, and then it’s goodbye Spike, hello big pile of dust.”
“She probably won’t even remember any of this tomorrow, Spike. The Drith Nac is pretty powerful stuff. Buffy was high as a kite when I put the whammy on her.”
“High as a kite and homicidal, not mutually exclusive states of mind, love. Been there, done that.”
“Spike does have a point, Willow,” said Giles, looking up from his research. “It won’t help Buffy’s situation if she simply stakes Spike on the spot. Although that would certainly qualify as the silver lining in this whole wretched business,” he muttered as an afterthought.
“Oi! Sitting right here!” Spike scowled at the Watcher. “But yeah, she could very well just stake me. Not like I can fight back with this chip in my head.”
“Not to worry! Once you’ve got her chained up, all you have to do is—”
Willow stopped short at the look on Spike’s face.
“Oh,” she said, “did I forget to mention that part?” She squared her shoulders. “It’s no big. I used a spell to sink some eyebolts into the concrete next to the back steps, and I left the chains right there. You can’t miss ‘em.”
Spike continued to stare at Willow in frank disbelief.
“What?! Why are you looking at me like that? It’s just to keep her under control. Until the spell wears off. I mean, what were you planning to do with Vamp Buffy? Sit on her?”
Spike tapped a forefinger thoughtfully against his lips.
“Now let’s just see if I’m understanding this correctly, Witch,” he said. “Wouldn’t want to muck up anything important.”
Spike sat straight in his chair, his boots hitting the floor with a thump He held up a fist, thumb extended.
“Part the first. I’m to mosey on over to Revello Drive, where a very pissed off slayer is being kept against her will, having been informed, via a note, that William the Bloody will be her babysitter for the evening.”
“Um, yeah,” Willow responded hesitantly.
“Brilliant.” Spike extended his index finger.
“Part the second. Providing I survive this opening gambit, I’m to hang about said cranky slayer for an indeterminate period of time, until she shows signs — also indeterminate — of impending demonhood.” Spike looked at Willow expectantly. She gave a tiny nod.
“Right, then.” Spike raised his middle finger to join the other two.
“Part the third. When she looks to be comin’ over all demony, I’m to chain her out back — will she, nil she, mind, big leap of faith, that — and wait for the main event.”
“Uh-huh!” Willow looked relieved now that the basics had been covered.
“Not done yet, Witch.” Spike’s ring finger came to attention.
“Part the fourth. And follow closely on this one, pet, because it’s my favorite part of the plan.” Spike’s smile was so patently fake it was scary. Willow looked jumpy again.
“Part the fourth,” Spike repeated, “Slayer vamps out and, providing chains can hold against the combined strengths of slayer and vampire—” Spike’s withering tone made clear just how much confidence he felt on this score “—providing that, mind, I twelve-step her through a slayer-sized bout of fledgling bloodlust, and we have ourselves a little tea party ‘til the spell runs its course.”
Spike was glowering now.
“There’s one more part, isn’t there,” Willow said miserably, eyeing Spike’s hand as his pinkie rose to join the rest of his fingers.
“Part the last. You. Loony.Bint!” Spike’s hand came crashing down on the table with a crack like a pistol shot. Willow jumped in her seat. Then she raised her chin and glared back at Spike, on her dignity now.
“Don’t you yell at me, mister Britishy part-the-part guy! I’m doing the best I can. So you either help us, or…or take your fingers and go play somewhere else!” Spike raised an eyebrow. Willow blushed, but didn’t back down. “And when the next demon you kill turns out to be Buffy, don’t come crying to me!”
Spike seemed taken aback by this notion. Pensive in earnest now, he sat quietly for a long moment. Then he gave a decisive nod.
“All right. I’ll do it. Expect you both to go to bat for me, though, when this is over, and the Slayer can’t hold with the memory of being a vamp.”
“I’ll do my best, I promise!” Willow was practically twinkling with relief. “And Giles will too, right Giles?”
“Quite. And let us hope my powers of persuasion will be every bit as effective as they generally are where Buffy is concerned.”
Rolling his eyes at this, Spike stood up and turned for the door.
“Wait!” Willow rose, stepped around to Spike’s side of the table. “You’ll need the password for getting through the ward.” She leaned in close, whispering in his ear. Spike let out a bark of laughter.
“You’re the end, Witch, you know that?” he said, shrugging his duster into place and striding towards the door. “The ruddy end.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/154953.html