Fic: Something Borrowed

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Hi, I’m Jen, and I’ll be bringing you today’s entertainment. Hope you enjoy!

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: jen_nsync_landl
Summary: This tale takes place a couple of days after the conclusion of “Something Blue.” Let’s pretend that, occasionally, the weird and the wacky happen in Sunnydale on Thursday nights. ;) Someone new comes to town, spells are performed, hijinks ensue. Oh, yeah, and there’s the small matter of a Spuffy re-engagement…
Disclaimer: I am Dorothy, the small and meek. All hail the great and powerful Joss from whom all inspiration flows.
A/N: Without amybnnyc  cheering me on, this fic would not have been nearly as fun to write as it was. Her comments and suggestions were invaluable, and all remaining mistakes are mine. Thanks for all of your help and encouragement, sweetheart! Big thanks as well to itmustbetuesday  for putting this community together and to the other participants for the daily dose of Spuffy goodness.


Phineas Ash stood in front of the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign, smoking a cigar. His right-hand muscle, a vampire named Nikolas, surveyed their surroundings with an experienced, calculating eye.

“So, this is Sunnydale, eh? It’s dishearteningly suburban for a hellmouth.” Ash cocked his head to the left and suddenly smiled. “Then again, looks can be deceiving.”

Suspicious, Nikolas tensed. “What is it?”

“There’s someone here of great magickal power who, unless I’m much mistaken, has recently worked a real humdinger of a spell.” Ash sniffed lightly. “Can you smell it? The air’s charred. Electric.” He inhaled and exhaled deeply. “It’s invigorating, really.”

Nikolas arched his eyebrows. “Think whoever it is might help us track down the bones?”

“I certainly think it would be worth it to inquire. And if our request is unpersuasive, we’ll just have to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Nikolas smirked. “That’s a fancy way of saying we’ll threaten to kill him, right?”

“Oh, we’ll do more than threaten, but we’ll wait to carry through until after he’s either helped us get the bones or take care of the Slayer.”

“Oh, good. The last part of this trip was disappointingly non-violent. I mean, aside from the normal bloodshed and mayhem.” Nikolas turned to two vampires loitering behind a nearby tree. “You two, to the sewers for a little recon work. Talk to the locals. See what you can find out about the Slayer and her people. Get some info on where the bones are likely to be hidden.” The minions nodded and slipped away.

Ash blew a steady stream of smoke into the night air and grinned at his companion. “You know what they say about the Hellmouth, don’t you, Nikolas? If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.” He looked thoughtful. “Or is that what they say about New York? I guess it’s applicable in both cases.” His smiled hardened. “Let’s get to work.”

*

“You rang?” Buffy stepped into Giles’s apartment and dumped her book bag on the floor as the late afternoon sun streamed in through the door behind her.

“Ah, yes, Buffy, I’m glad you’re here.” Giles straightened a pile of books and papers on his desk as Buffy sank into the sofa with a contented sigh.

“Will said at lunch you wanted me to head over after class. What’s up?”

“I’ve got a project on which I’d like Willow’s assistance, but I fear she’s still too unfocused to be researching and preparing spells on her own. I wanted to pay her a visit for supervisory purposes.”

Buffy nodded. “Sounds like a good idea. The supervision, I mean. I don’t think any of us are anxious for a repeat of her last spell.” She shuddered.

From his seat on the stairs, Spike snorted. “You’ve got that right, Slayer.”

Buffy turned to glare at him. “I don’t remember anyone asking for your input, Spike.”

“Oh, right, so everyone else can feel violated by the spell except for me?” Spike was indignant. “Ask me, I got the worst of the lot of you. In love with the Slayer – it was like being stuck in one of your more horrific hell dimensions!”

“Shut up, Spike.”

“Children, please,” Giles interrupted. “You’re going to have to learn to get along with one another, especially as I’ll need you to stay here, Buffy, while I go to see Willow.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Please, no. She’s the worst sitter ever. Even Harris and demon girl are less annoying than she is!”

“Gee, Giles, I’d love to stay, but I have a ton of homework to do.” Buffy indicated her bag of books.

“Surely you could do your work here. You appear to have all of your study materials with you.” His voice was hopeful.

Buffy wrinkled her nose in irritation and then relented. “Fine, I’ll stay. But don’t expect anything for Christmas this year.”

Giles slipped on his glasses. “How economical of you.”

“Oh, sure, financially it’ll be a bargain, but think of the emotional cost.” She brightened. “In fact, if we’re talking the whole gift reciprocity thing, I think you’re gonna owe me something huge for this, Giles. Oo, I’ve always wanted a pony.”

*

Buffy had given up on reading for class twenty minutes earlier, distracted first by Spike’s habit of talking back to the television and then by her own thoughts. A smile played over her lips as she doodled in her magazine, thinking of how sweet Riley had been about the whole engagement fiasco, the fictionalized version she’d told him, anyway.

The resounding crack of an onscreen slap and Spike’s enthusiastic roar of approval brought her out of her reverie.

“Does the TV have to be so loud?”

Spike lifted his voice. “‘Passions’ is meant to be a multi-sensory experience. An overwhelming visual and auditory extravaganza.”

“I’m certainly overwhelmed. I can’t figure out whether I’m going deaf or insane. Or both. Turn it down.”

“Make me.” Spike shot her a look of annoyance.

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “How about if I get Mr. Pointy, and we’ll let him do it?”

“Fine,” he grumbled. “I’ll turn it down.”

The change in volume was almost imperceptible. Irritated, Buffy snapped the pages of her magazine as loudly as she could until Spike reached a hand over the desktop and yanked it from her grasp.

Buffy stood at the end of the sofa and crossed her arms as he turned off the television. “Give that back,” she ordered.

“Not until you’ve learned how to read it quietly. The show’s over, and I’m knackered. It’s time for a nap.”

“I’ll read my magazine any way I want to – this is Giles’s apartment, Giles is my Watcher, ergo, I get to do what I want. You’re the one who doesn’t belong, so you don’t get to make any of the rules.”

Spike rose with exaggerated civility. “Oh, well, if you don’t mind me, I’ll just be going then.”

Buffy pushed him back down onto the couch. “You are such a pain.”

“Well, I’m sorry to have distracted you from your important reading assignment.” He flipped through her magazine, hooting at the article titles until he came to a page with the corner folded down. “Well, well, well, what have we here?” Buffy’s eyes widened. He folded the magazine over and swatted at her hands when she made a grab at him. “‘How to tell if you’re sexually compatible.’ A sex quiz? Slayer, I’ve lost all respect for you.” He looked thoughtful. “Oh, wait, that implies I once had respect for you.”

“Spike, give it back to me right now,” Buffy demanded.

Spike cleared his throat and held the magazine away from her grasping hands. “‘Question 1: Size matters.’” Spike raised an eyebrow as Buffy fumed. “‘I like a man who is A. lean and mean B. big and powerful C. soft and cuddly D. any of the above – if he’s got a Y chromosome, I’m in!’ Slayer’s answer is B, big and powerful.” Spike rolled his eyes. “Tell me you’re not talking about Tall, Dark, and Forehead here.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I’m not filling this out for Angel.”

“Oh-ho. Slayer’s back on the horse with a college boy, eh? Good for you.”

“I’m not back on anybody’s horse, Spike.” Buffy watched helplessly as he scanned through the rest of her answers. “Seriously, you’ve got about three more seconds before I punch you.”

He threw the magazine down with a laugh, and it thudded on the floor in front of her. “Brilliant. I’ve got enough blackmail material to ensure that’s not gonna happen, pet.” He stretched out the length of the sofa and pushed a pillow under his head. “Forget the nap. Now I’m feeling a bit peckish. Could use a little blood while you’re in the kitchen.”

“I’m not going to the kitchen, Spike,” Buffy said through gritted teeth.

“Really? Well, then I guess you won’t mind if I tell the Scoobies your answer to #8.”

Buffy glanced down at the open magazine at her feet and gasped. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, I would dare.” He laughed. “Bring back a little Weetabix, too, will you?”

*

“Any thoughts on how we’re going to track down Sunnydale’s resident Mr. Wizard?” Nikolas peered over Ash’s shoulder as he pulled various ingredients out of a large trunk of supplies and mixed them together in a stone bowl.

“Every spell of this magnitude has a trace signal, if one knows how to find it,” Ash explained. “I’ll just track that down, get some info on the responsible party, and we’ll start our inquiries.”

“Thought you’d want to know, I might have a bead on our bones,” Nikolas reported. “Couple of vamps squatting at one of the cemeteries said there was some unusual activity last week. A big deal delivery, very hush hush. They did a little investigating, didn’t turn up much. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot – not exactly the sharpest fangs in the wound, these two.”

“Well, the timing’s right, although hiding bones in a cemetery is terribly unimaginative, if you ask me. Sounds like it’s a good place to start, at any rate.” Ash added the final ingredient to his mixture and picked up a pestle. “Watch this, boys. I think we’re in for a real treat.”

As Ash ground the spell’s items together, a silver mist rose from the mortar, and a series of images flitted across the fog. The first was Giles bumping into a student outside Willow’s dorm room and then falling over the coffee table in his apartment. Xander and Anya fought a series of demons in the next sequence, followed by highlights of Buffy’s engagement to Spike. The final pictures showed a contrite Willow performing the reversal spell just as the mist faded.

“I don’t get it,” said Nikolas, puzzled.

Ash was equally baffled. “I’m not sure I do, either. Well, that’s irritating.”

One of the minions who had been watching in silence stepped forward. “Me and Tony may be able to help, boss.”

“That would be a welcome change,” Ash commented, setting down his pestle.

“We ran into a couple of guys in the tunnels last night who described the Slayer and her people, and I think they were the ones involved in that spell.”

“Really? Do tell.”

“They described a redheaded witch, Anyanka and her human boyfriend, and a Watcher who looks like that guy from the old Taster’s Choice commercials.”

“Oo, I always loved those. I can never remember – did that couple wind up together at the end of the series?” At Nikolas’ raised eyebrow, Ash cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So where was the Slayer in our little montage?”

“She was the blond getting married to William the Bloody.”

Nikolas looked disgusted. “I thought I recognized that guy. That’s just sick.”

A slow smile spread over Ash’s face. “On the contrary, it’s absolutely genius. I think I’ve just figured out how to keep the Slayer out of our business while we secure the bones.” He turned back to his spell book. “A blind Watcher, demon-tormented friends, and an engagement to a vampire ought to keep her pretty busy. A spell that good deserves an encore.” He extended his hands, and a burst of energy flew from his fingers. “Resume!”

Ash turned to his companions and grinned. “And I thought Sunnydale wasn’t going to be any fun!”

*

Willow looked over Giles’s notes with a frown of concentration. “Huh. This is some pretty powerful mojo. Even reading about it makes me feel all tingly.”

“Yes, I thought I felt a little rush of something myself a moment ago.” He dismissed the sensation and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Do my calculations look correct to you?”

Willow checked the ingredient list again and nodded. “This is a modification of another spell, right?”

“Yes, to create an element-by-element destruction of an organic substance.”

“It reminds me of the Living Flame we used to destroy the Glove of Myhnegon.”

Giles gave her an approving nod. “Very good. That is, in fact, the inspiration for this spell.”

Willow raised her eyebrows. “What are you planning to get rid of, Giles? You’re not going to vaporize Spike, are you?” She smiled nervously when he said nothing in response. “I mean, I know he’s annoying, but don’t you think making him go über-poof is a little extreme?”

“Hmmm?” Giles squinted at his papers and looked up. “I’m sorry—did you say something, Willow?”

“I said, this spell isn’t for Spike, is it?”

Giles shook his head, distracted. “Spike is the least of my concerns, although if I find him rifling through my record collection one more time, I might strongly consider it.” Giles removed his glasses and widened his eyes, trying to focus. “Does this page look blurry?”

Willow glanced at it. “Not to me.” She switched on her desk lamp. “Here. Does this help?”

“Not particularly, no.” Giles set his glasses down and carefully considered his next words. “I have to say, Willow, I’m a bit disappointed in you. I thought you’d realized the danger of playing with spells of will.”

“What? But I didn’t!” Willow stammered.

Perplexed, Giles rubbed his eyes. “I’m afraid my eyesight is failing exactly as it did before, when you said I didn’t see anything. You’re sure you didn’t do anything to cause it, even by mistake?”

“Uh-uh, I learned my lesson last time. And even if the idea did cross my mind, the thought of having to detail your car again would remind me of the badness of the idea. I swear, Giles, it wasn’t me.”

Giles looked disturbed. “Why do I not find that very comforting?”

*

Buffy towered over Spike. “Here’s your blood, which just couldn’t be any grosser, by the way. And Giles doesn’t have any wheat bricks or whatever else it was you wanted.”

Spike sat up and peered into the mug in disgust. “You’ve microwaved it into oblivion! It’s ruined!”

Buffy shrugged, feigning innocence. “Huh, I thought something looked off. Guess you’ll just have to go make your own hemoglobin cocktail.”

He jumped to his feet, inches away from her. “You are a real bitch, Slayer, you know that?”

“Yeah? Well, you’re a pig, Spike.”

“Oink, oink, sweetheart.”

“Don’t call me sweetheart.” A wave of magickal energy swept through the room, and Buffy’s eyes glazed over with tears. “You don’t get to call me sweetheart ever again, not after the way you treated me.”

Spike looked hurt. “The way I’ve treated you? And what about the way you’ve treated me? What, my feelings don’t count?”

“Oh, yes, your feelings count! You made it very clear how you felt about being with me. The last time you kissed me, you practically dry-heaved!”

“Oh, right, and I suppose that you spitting and shrieking ‘Spike lips! Lips of Spike!’ was supposed to be some kind of compliment.”

Two spots of color appeared in Buffy’s cheeks. “You pushed me away first!”

“I bloody well did not! You pushed me away.”

“You’d been pushing me away from the start, and you know it. You knew how insecure I was about Drusilla. It’s obvious you aren’t over her or ready to be in a real, mature relationship!”

“Oh, that’s rich coming from you,” Spike thundered. “I’m not the one who’s already moved on to someone else!”

“Moved on? What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the fact that you’re cheating on me with Mr. ‘Big and Powerful’ here!” He pushed the toe of his boot into the open magazine, shredding the page beneath his foot.

“I am not cheating on you, you big idiot,” Buffy huffed. “You are Mr. Big and Powerful.”

Spike snorted derisively. “You expect to me to believe that? Not exactly Shaq over here.”

“Hello, it’s a sexual compatibility quiz. I wasn’t thinking about your height. I was thinking about, umm, something else of yours that’s big and powerful.” Buffy looked away, flushed.

Spike’s eyes widened in disbelief. “What?”

She met his eyes, defiant. “Well, I have spent some time in your lap, Spike, remember? It was kind of obvious.”

A grin pulled at the corners of Spike’s mouth. “What was kind of obvious, Buffy?”

She stepped closer to him with the beginnings of a smile of her own. “That maybe you like me just a little bit.”

He closed the rest of the distance between them and touched her cheek. “Oh, yeah, baby, I think it’s safe to say I like you – and a whole lot more than just a little bit.”

“Oh, Spike, I’m so sorry for all of those horrible things I said to you. I don’t know why I said them. It was almost like I was someone else. Someone who hated you.” She shivered as he pulled her in. “It was awful.”

“I know, sweetheart, and I’m sorry, too.” He rested his cheek against her hair. “I can’t believe I ever thought about letting you go.” He rubbed soothing circles on her back as she sniffled on his shoulder. “I just wish I knew what happened to my ring so we could make up nice and proper.”

She pulled away from him shyly, reached into her bag, and produced the ring. “I kept it. Just in case.”

Spike knelt in front of her and slipped the skull over her knuckle, kissing her hand. “What do you say, Buffy? Will you? Still?”

“You know I will.” She traced a finger over his lips. “So is it official? Are we made up?”

“Well, now, I don’t know. I think a little of old #8 there would really go a long way toward making me feel like we were back together for good.”

Buffy laughed, and he pulled her down to him. As he leaned in for a kiss, she murmured, “Mmmm, Spike lips. Lips of Spike.”

*

“Please be home, Willow, please be home,” Xander chanted, running up the stairs of Stevenson Hall.

“Hey, dude, watch it!”

Xander mumbled an apology to the guy he’d slammed into and kept on. “He thinks running into me is tough – trying running into that freaky bird-demon thingy on the way out of your own bathroom!”

“We should have just gone to Giles’s,” Anya said, trailing behind him and nervously glancing over her shoulder.

“No, Will said that she and Giles were going to be working on some project here this afternoon.” Xander stopped in front of 214 and rapped heavily on the door. “Willow?”

The door swung open. “Um, hi, Xander.”

“All right missy, don’t ‘um, hi’ me.” Xander pushed past her into the room. “We all get that you’re upset about Oz, but seriously, this spell stuff has to stop. Every demon in the world wants to be my new best friend. I can’t take it! I feel like I’ve been smeared with peanut butter and dropped into a pit of peanut butter loving… things!”

“It wasn’t me this time!” Willow was indignant. “Totally keeping my will to myself these days. Remember the whole ‘baking out my inner turmoil’ business? You ate, like, three dozen cookies!”

He wagged a finger in her direction. “That is a gross exaggeration – it was no more than two and a half dozen, and you know it! And, anyway, so not the point. You expect me to believe you didn’t wish me to be a demon magnet again?” Xander glanced out the window and began pacing. “Tell it to the demon hordes undoubtedly making their way here this very minute.” He stopped abruptly. “Would you say ‘demon hordes’? Or maybe it’s ‘pack.’ A pack of demons?”

“‘Swarm’ might work, too,” Willow mused.

“We vengeance demons always preferred ‘pride,’ actually.”

Giles snapped his fingers impatiently. “Can we try to stay on task here? You can see the demons now, Xander?”

“Well, no, not this second. Take a look for yourself.” Xander gestured at the window.

“I’m afraid I can’t. My blindness has returned.”

“Geez, really? You, too, huh?” Xander waved a hand in front of Giles’s face.

“Xander, your hands still smell like Fruit Roll-Ups. Do you ever wash them, or do you just consume mass quantities of strawberry-flavored plastic?”

“Sorry, Giles.” Xander resumed his pacing. “So we’re thinking everything is exactly the same as before?”

“It would appear that way, yes.”

“Anya, D’Hoffryn wouldn’t have anything to do with this, would he?” Willow asked, troubled.

Anya considered and discarded the possibility. “Not his style. Too unoriginal, recycling someone else’s vengeance. Especially after you turned him down. He’s really sensitive that way.”

“I think we should head to my flat for supplies and strategizing.” Giles cleared his throat. “And we need to check on Spike and Buffy – they are there alone at present.”

Xander halted. “Oh, dear Lord!”

Giles pocketed his glasses. “I believe that’s my line, Xander.”

*

“Oh, yeah, baby, right there.” Spike’s head lolled back as Buffy trailed kisses along his neck and nipped gently at his former pulse point. “I’ve wanted to be with you since the beginning. That very first night. You were so beautiful, dancing. Shaking that cute little ass of yours.”

“And yet you had to be all coy with the ‘I’m gonna kill you on Saturday’ talk. How’s a girl to know?”

“So what did you think of me, pet? First impressions.”

“Hmmm.” Buffy settled in the curve of his shoulder. “First impressions? Arrogant. Rude.” He growled in her ear. “Forceful. Sexy.”

“Really?”

“Ummm, yeah. Have you seen you?”

“Been a while, love.”

“I wish you could see you the way I do.” She ran her hand down his chest. “But I guess I’ll have to find some other way to show you how I feel.”

“I can’t wait to be inside you, Buffy,” Spike murmured, slipping an arm beneath her and rolling her over.

“Hey, whoa, there, mister.” Buffy’s hand pressed him away from her. “What do you think you’re doing?”

His brow wrinkled. “Were both of those wankers you’ve been with totally inept? I’m about to be making love to you.”

“No, I got that part. But we’re waiting, remember?”

Spike felt as though he had just stepped into an icy shower. “We’re what?”

“We agreed to wait until the wedding night for the, you know, main event.”

“And just when exactly did we decide that?”

“When we were talking about the ceremony. Last time? I said that if you agreed to wait until we were married, I would pick another song for the first dance besides—”

“‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’” Spike finished with her. “Oh, hell.” She was too close and too warm and too beautiful to resist. “Forget it. I’ve changed my mind. Bette it is. ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ is a longtime personal favorite, actually.”

“Come on, Spike. It’s a good idea to wait. Don’t you want the first time to be extra special?”

“I can make it extra special right now.”

She frowned at him. “Spike.”

He rolled away with a grunt of frustration. “Fine. No, you’re right. If you want to wait, we’ll wait.”

Before he knew it, she was on top of him, pinning him down, her breath tickling his ear as she sucked on the lobe. “You know, #8 doesn’t actually require us to break our little promise.”

“All right,” he said, easing a hand up her thigh. “Now you’re talking.”

There was a sudden pounding at the door.

“We know you’re in there, Fang Boy! Cease and desist whatever it is you’re doing!” Xander’s yell was followed by the groan of hinges giving way and the crash of the door banging against the wall.

“Oh, bloody hell!” Spike muttered, rising up on one elbow. “A little privacy here, eh, Harris?”

The cross Xander was carrying clattered to the floor as he staggered backward. “My eyes! My eyes!”

“Please, Xander, do we really need the hysterics?” Giles picked his way past the furniture with Willow’s help.

“Seriously, Xander.” Anya crossed her arms over her chest. “What’s the big deal if Spike and Buffy are fornicating? I’m making sure you’re satisfied orgasmically, aren’t I?”

Giles cleared his throat. “So I take it, then, that the two of you are, how shall I put this, reconciled?”

“Actually, Rupes, you’ve committed reunion interruptus, but yes, the wedding’s back on. You’re still planning on picking up the tab, right, Dad?”

Buffy squealed in delight as she caught sight of Willow. “Oh, my God, you have to be my maid of honor! I never got the chance to ask you before.”

“Umm, sure, Buffy.” She maneuvered Giles to the couch and helped him sit.

“What’s wrong with Giles?” Buffy asked, concerned.

“A little trouble with my eyesight. Again.”

“Yeah, just like I’m having a little demon magnet problem.”

Buffy snapped her fingers. “Everything’s just like before! Who keeps doing this? What are they after?” She linked her arm through Spike’s and rested her head on his shoulder. “Thank goodness the two of us are fine. We’ll fix everything.”

Willow came back from the kitchen with a wet cloth for Giles’s eyes. “Uh-huh,” she said, distracted. “You guys look peachy with a side of keen.”

“What?! They look peachy with a side dish of insanity!” Xander snatched the cold compress from Willow and held it to his forehead. He yelped when Willow slapped his hand, reclaimed the compress, and handed it to Giles.

Giles took the cloth gratefully. “Willow, you’ll have to do a protection spell on the flat to keep Xander’s demon problem at bay.”

“Okay, yes. Yes!” Xander said, rubbing his hands as Willow gathered supplies. “This is good. Plans are being made. We’ll be fixing this in no time at all.”

“What’s the next step, do you think?”

“Assuming that you didn’t accidentally do this, Willow, and that it’s not a bit of vengeance courtesy of D’Hoffryn, I think we can only surmise that someone else has targeted us for mischief. Or worse.”

“So, our next move would be locking Spike and Buffy in separate rooms without conjugal visit privileges until this all blows over?”

“Xander!”

“I think keeping those two apart should be a high priority. If I’m gonna be research guy, I need to be able to think straight. The sight of them with their hands all over each other is making me nauseous.”

“Xander, it’s fine,” Buffy interrupted primly. “We’ve already decided to wait.”

“Wait?” Xander echoed.

“For after the wedding, silly.”

“Huh?”

“Xander, they won’t be having intercourse until after the religious ritual.”

“Oh. Well, good. Do that then. No orgasms until after you say ‘I do!’” Xander’s smile was a combination of glee and relief.

“Well, technically, there are infinite ways to achieve orgasm without intercourse.”

“Not helping, Anya.”

“What’s say you and I go upstairs and think long and hard about our next move?” Spike tugged at Buffy’s hand.

“Not so fast, Bleach Boy. I see your clever plan here. Lull us into a false sense of security and then, BOOM! Orgasm!”

“Dream on, Harris,” Spike smirked. “You’ll get no boom-orgasm from me.”

Xander’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly.

Giles looked pained. “While this sex talk is fascinating—and by fascinating I mean terribly disturbing—I think there are perhaps other, more productive tasks on which we could be working.”

“Spike and I could go to Willy’s, lean on the clientele for info on who might be behind your spells,” Buffy suggested.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Giles mused. “Might give us some clearer indication of how to proceed.”

“Willy’s it is, then.” Spike pulled Buffy’s jacket from the arm of the couch. “Don’t wait up.”

“Oh, no, no, no.” Xander shook his head. “You know what they’re going to do out there. With the kissing and the… hands.” He grimaced.

“Xander, Spike and I are two adults, perfectly in control of our—oh, my God, this will be like our first official date! Giles, where is your camera?” Buffy elbowed Spike when he rolled his eyes. “Hello, we have to have relationship pictures for the photo montage during the wedding reception dinner.”

“I believe I’m out of film at present.”

“Oh, shoot. Pictures will have to wait, I guess.”

Spike clapped Giles on the shoulder. “Appreciate that, Dad. You keep that camera empty of film, and I promise I won’t let Buffy put you in a home when you’re old and senile.”

“Yes, well, I can’t tell you how it cheers me to think of you in charge of my fate during my dotage.”

“So we’re just letting them go? Alone?” Xander started for the door. “I should go with them.” Everyone stared at him. “Oh, right, the demon thing. Dammit.” He sat down at Giles’s desk with heavy sigh. “I know, I know – I’m research guy.”

*

When they reached the bar, Spike paused. “You just let me handle this. These are my people. I’ll have it out of ‘em in no time flat.”

“They may be your people, but it’s my job, Spike. I think I’ve got it. Besides, you can’t hit anything, remember?”

He scoffed. “With this lot, I won’t need to. Watch a master intimidator at work, love.”

Spike flung open the door and strode inside, pounding twice on the wall. All conversation stopped as every eye swung toward him. Even the record on the juke box scratched to a halt.

“It’s like you’re the Fonz,” Buffy breathed. “It’s so hot.”

Spike gave her a quick smirk and then turned toward the crowd. “Good. Glad to see everyone’s listening up. Me and the Slayer got a few questions, and we’re not above inflicting a little violence to get some answers. Someone, possibly new in town, heavy into the mojo, targeting the Slayer’s crew. Anybody know anything?” When the question returned only silence, he demolished an empty table with one heavy-fisted blow. “Am I going to have to start destroying the place, or might we get a little useful information out of you lot?”

“Come on, Spike, not the furniture!” Willy called, sounding anguished. “Pound on one of these guys, sure. But the overhead on this place is killing me. I can’t constantly be replacing the tables and chairs.”

Buffy grimaced. “Sorry about that. We’ll pay for it.”

Spike rolled his eyes, and the patrons returned to their drinks and conversations. “You just killed my Fonz-factor, Buffy.”

A large demon emerged from the restrooms in the back, still drying his hands on a paper towel. “Spike! Long time, no see.”

“Dave.”

“Dave?” Buffy’s eyebrows shot up. “You know a Frovalox demon named Dave?”

Dave sized Buffy up and stepped forward menacingly. “What’s the Slayer doing here?”

“She’s with me.”

Dave’s face split into a grin. “Hey, guys, check it out. Is this guy a legend or what? He brings the Slayer to a bar to kick her ass so we all can watch!”

“The only ass around here that’s gonna get kicked is yours, mate, and I’ll thank you to have a little more respect when speaking about my future wife.”

Dave looked puzzled. “Your what?”

“My wife. You know, spouse? Fixer of my meals, doer of my laundry?” Buffy shot Spike a look of annoyance. “Uh, I mean, life partner. Or in this case, unlife partner. Got it?”

“Yes, honey, thank you. That was both clear and informative. And alarmingly chauvinistic. We’ll have to have a little talk about that later.”

The demon laughed. “Right. The two of you are a couple. What’s the gag?”

Spike’s eyes narrowed. “Think there’s something funny about her wanting to be with me?”

“Spike,” Buffy admonished, “we’re going to have to face this kind of prejudice for the rest of our lives. It’s best to just ignore it.”

Dave shook his head in disbelief. “A half-breed and a Slayer. Never thought I’d see the day. Again.”

Spike stalked forward. “Oi, that’s it. You will not throw her ex in my face, you miserable bastard.”

Buffy laid a restraining hand on his arm. “Spike, you know you can’t.”

The demon snorted. “She won’t even let you fight, Spike? Wow, got you on a pretty short leash, doesn’t she?”

“I’ll have you know she has nothing to do with it. Was the government that put me on the short leash.”

“Well, then, I guess you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it if I just stepped up and did this.” His fist exploded into Spike’s nose.

“No, he can’t do anything, but I sure the hell can. Nobody puts their hands on my fiancé except me!” Buffy kicked the demon with such force that he left his feet and fell backward onto a table. She cringed as the table legs buckled and gave way. “Sorry!”

Buffy hurried over to Spike and helped him to his feet. “Are you okay?”

“Everything’s intact except my dignity.” He scowled and then raised his voice. “Unless the rest of you want a little dose of that, I suggest somebody start talking. Now.”

Two hands shot up at the bar. “We saw a couple of new vamps in the tunnels this afternoon. Might be hooked up with the guy you’re looking for.”

“Is that so?” Spike sauntered over.

“Yeah, said their boss was in town looking for something for a big spell. Mentioned needing to keep the Slayer preoccupied while they searched for it. Wanted to know who the Slayer hangs with, that kind of stuff.”

Spike leaned forward. “And you told them what, exactly?”

“Described her crew. The redhead, Anyanka’s boyfriend, the Watcher.”

“You’re lucky I don’t just kill you right now,” Spike said, disgusted.

“What? The guys said they just wanted to know who to steer clear of!” The demon shot a look of terror at Buffy. “We didn’t mean anything by it. Honest.”

Buffy frowned. “Did they say what they were looking for?”

“Uh, bones of some sort, right?” The demon looked to his companion for confirmation.

“Right. Real cryptic sounding name. The Bones of the Damned. Something like that.”

“Uh-huh, that was it. Said their boss had just learned the bones were here in Sunnydale.”

Spike cracked his knuckles. “Don’t suppose you heard where these guys are hanging out or where these bones are?”

“No. No, sir,” the smaller demon stammered, glancing at Buffy over Spike’s shoulder. “And ma’am.”

“Since you’ve been so forthcoming, I guess me and the Slayer will let you live after all.” Spike turned to Buffy. “Think that’s enough for the gang to work with?”

“Bones of the Damned – sounds like something Giles would know. Let’s go get everybody researching.”

“Right.”

Buffy turned away from the door suddenly. “Oo, but before we go, we should to talk to Willy about the bar. For the reception.”

“Good idea.” Spike walked up to the bartender. “Slayer and me are getting hitched soon and we’re gonna need some liquor. Top of the line champagne, of course. I don’t know—maybe ten magnums ought to do it. And plenty of beer, too. Mind you, not the domestic piss you serve here. Something of quality. European.”

Willy did some quick calculations in his head. “Gee, Spike, sounds like this could be a little pricey.”

“Funny, I was thinking it sounded like it was going to be free. Or else. Get my meaning?”

Buffy leaned in. “Honey, what are you doing?”

“Talking to Willy about the booze, like you said.”

“I didn’t tell you to extort it out of him!” Buffy smiled apologetically at Willy. “If you could just give me the names of some of your distributors, that would be great. And send us a bill for the damages tonight, okay?”

“Sure thing, Slayer. Whatever you think is best.”

As soon as Buffy turned toward the door, Spike mouthed the word “Free” at Willy and gave him a meaningful look.

*

“Any luck?” Willow asked.

Buffy sat on the edge of Giles’s desk. “Couple of demons down at Willy’s said they ran into the minions of a guy looking for something called the Bones of the Damned. Does that mean anything to you, Giles?”

Startled, Giles sat up straighter. “The Bones of the Damned? Are you sure?”

“That’s what they said. Why? What’s up?”

“The Bones of the Damned possess great power, so great that their location has been a carefully guarded secret for generations.”

Buffy’s brow furrowed. “And hiding them on the Hellmouth is a good plan for keeping them safe from evil how?”

“They haven’t always been here. In fact, until very recently, they were actually hidden in the Caucasus Mountains.”

“So why the move?” Buffy asked. “And how come you’re Mr. In-the-Know Guy?”

“The information concerning their whereabouts had been compromised, apparently by the same individual your informants told you about. He’s also doubtless the one responsible for the revival of Willow’s spell. The guardian of the bones contacted me when he realized he could no longer keep them safe, and we determined that placing them here, under your protection, would be the best solution.” Giles looked guilty. “They arrived last week.”

“Were you planning on letting me know about it?” Buffy asked, exasperated.

“I was going to tell you, but you’ve had so much on your mind lately. I wasn’t doing anything terribly pressing and thought I could take care of things myself. There seems to be so little these days I can do to help.”

“What? You’re always helping!” Buffy objected.

Giles sighed. “We both know that isn’t exactly true, Buffy. I’m not your official Watcher anymore, and I feel a bit at loose ends. I’m not sure how to be of any service to you.”

Buffy’s expression softened. “How can you say that? You’re absolutely crucial!” She leaned in and hugged him.

Giles smiled. “Thank you, Buffy.”

“I mean, hello, you’re letting my fiancé stay here with you until the wedding! That means the world to me.” Buffy beamed at Spike over Giles’s shoulder.

Giles sat back. “Yes, well, ah, not exactly what I had in mind as a meaningful contribution.”

Buffy ignored him. “Between school, the commandos, patrolling, and making the arrangements for the wedding, yes, I have been pretty busy lately, but I am still the Slayer. I need to know about this kind of stuff, okay?” She pursed her lips. “But hey, what’s done is done. We’ll deal. Why don’t we start with where the bones are now?”

“I worked with the caretaker at Restfield Cemetery to place them in a vault there until I could gather the ingredients required to destroy them properly. They’ve long been too dangerous to continue to exist.”

Willow’s eyes widened. “Is that what we were working on this afternoon, a ritual destruction incantation for the Bones of the Damned?”

“Yes,” Giles answered. “I gathered all of the ingredients but wanted to check things over with you first. You did bring our notes?”

Willow patted her bag. “Got everything right here. We just need the bones.”

Buffy stood. “Okay, so I go take out the bad guys, grab up the bones, and then we make with the presto destructo.”

Spike linked his fingers with Buffy’s and pulled her to her feet. “What are we waiting for?”

Buffy frowned. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not sure you should come along.”

Spike shook his head. “First, nobody knows Restfield as well as I do. If the baddies are there snooping around, I’ll make sure they don’t get the drop on you, pop out from some little bend in a tunnel. Second, you’re the woman I love. There is no way I’m gonna sit here with the in-laws while you go face evil alone.” His voice grew husky with emotion. “You mean everything to me. Everything. We do this together, Buffy.”

Willow sighed wistfully, and Anya turned to Xander, her hands on her hips. “How come you never talk to me like that?”

“I, umm, er, I—” Xander looked uncomfortable as Anya sat down with an injured sniff. He turned toward Spike and Buffy with false brightness, trying to change the subject. “So, the two of you are going? Will you be bringing the bones back here? Or is Willow going along for a little magickal support?”

“I think Will should stay here, work on breaking the mojo that’s targeting you and Giles. I don’t want these spells of yours turning permanent.”

“I’m not sure that’s the best solution,” Giles objected. “The bones should be destroyed as soon as you find them. Eliminate the possibility of further trouble.”

“Give me the incantation and whatever else I need, and I’ll do it.”

“You, Spike?” Giles asked in surprise. “Are you quite sure you’re capable?”

“Speaking a little magickal mumbo-jumbo and dumping out a packet of dust on some old bones?” Spike scoffed. “I think I’ll manage.”

Willow looked thoughtful. “I’m sure he can handle it. Angel didn’t have any trouble with the spell to destroy the Glove of Myhnegon, and this one is really similar.”

“Well, there you go. If the Great Poof can manage it, I certainly can.”

“Very well. Willow, gather the necessary materials and get Spike the incantation.” Giles stopped short. “You do read Latin?”

“’Course I do. I’m not an idiot.” He looked at the paper Willow handed him. “I’m gonna translate this hortatory subjunctive with ‘let us,’ yeah?” Giles nodded in surprise, and Spike continued, “‘Arise, Flame of Life. Let us devour flesh. Let us consume bone. Come forth!’” He snorted. “Real sexy.”

“You can say that again,” Buffy breathed.

*

“Which vault did Giles say the bones were in?” Buffy’s flashlight sliced through the darkness. She glanced at Spike in the reflective light. “You know, you look really good in this light. Maybe we should do night photos of the wedding party.”

Spike sighed, exasperated. “Again with the pictures! You are absolutely fixated on this frilly wedding stuff.”

“‘Frilly wedding stuff’! That’s how you think of the biggest day of our lives?”

He softened. “Does it make me a horrible person if I’m spending most of my time thinking about what comes afterward?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Sex, sex, sex! You’ve got a one-track mind of your own, mister.”

“Not the sex, Buffy.” Spike pulled on her hand, forcing her to stop. “What I’m thinking about is our life together and how amazing it’s going to be. But the day itself obviously means a lot to you. Probably been thinking about it since you were just a little thing, prancing around your bedroom with a pillowcase over your hair.” He laughed at her guilty smile. “I want you to have the wedding of your dreams, Buffy, and I’ll try to be more sensitive. If it’s night pictures you want, then night pictures you shall have.”

“I have the bestest boyfriend ever!” Buffy exclaimed happily. She threw her arms around his neck for a kiss, and her flashlight illuminated the family name on the pediment of a nearby crypt. “Oo, Andreas – this is the one.”

They entered the vault cautiously, but it appeared undisturbed.

“Looks like we got here first,” Buffy commented. “Yay us.”

“Shine the torch over here. Giles said they were under a stone in the back marked with a cross.” Spike ran his fingers over the rough slabs and then drew back with a hiss. “Well, that’s one way to find a cross.”

“I’ll do it.” Buffy lifted the heavy marble stone out of the floor. “What do we have here?” She shone the flashlight into the depression in the ground while Spike pulled out a small, ornate box.

They were interrupted by a voice from the doorway. “Thanks so much for doing the legwork. We’ll just go ahead and take those off your hands.” Ash moved into the crypt followed by Nikolas and the two minions.

Spike held out a hand in warning. “Hold it right there. Anybody moves, and the bones are gonna get it.”

The minions halted and looked uncertainly at Ash, who motioned them to be still.

Spike glanced at Buffy and smiled at her curt nod. “Oh, right. I was going to destroy them anyway.” Spike opened the reliquary. “Exorere, Flamma Vitae. Devoremus carnem. Absumamus os. Prodi!” He sprinkled the contents of the spell sachet on the bones, and an incandescent glow enveloped and then consumed them.

“Nice work, honey. If only we’d thought to bring marshmallows…”

“My beautiful bones – gone! Damn you!” Ash howled in anguish.

Spike smirked. “Bit late for that. A gorgeous, wicked slip of a girl beat you to it about 120 years ago.” As Buffy’s jaw clenched, he continued, “Of course, she was totally mad and not at all the love of my life. Whatever I felt for her pales in comparison to how I feel about my beloved wife-to-be.”

Ash turned to the vampires. “What are you waiting for? Destroy them!” Ash bowed theatrically at Buffy. “I’m sure we’ll meet again someday, Slayer.” He threw a bag of sparkling powder at his feet and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Buffy pursed her lips in annoyance. “And here I was, so hoping I could introduce my foot to his ass this time around.” She turned to Nikolas. “Your boss is a real model of courage and fortitude.”

Nikolas shrugged. “Not terribly big on getting his hands dirty. Leaves the violence to the professionals.”

Buffy threw a stake in the direction of one of the minions, and he exploded in a cloud of dust. “Yeah,” she snorted, “you guys are real professionals. Highly skilled.”

“Ah, but now you’ve lost your stake.”

“Who needs a stake?” She turned to Spike. “Honey, your lighter.”

Spike flipped his Zippo to her in a clean arc, and Buffy caught it deftly with one hand. She whirled and punched the second minion into a corner, setting him ablaze with a quick flick of her wrist.

“Looks like the professionals are down to one.”

Nikolas smiled. “One’s all that was ever really needed.” In a single motion, he grabbed a statue mounted on a nearby sarcophagus and struck Spike on the temple. “Just to make this fair, there’ll be no more help from the peanut gallery.”

Buffy’s lip trembled as she glanced at Spike’s inert form on the ground, but she jerked her chin up defiantly. “It’s very lucky for you that my fiancé’s got a remarkably hard head. If you’d caused him any permanent damage…” She trailed off, and her eyes went cold and flat. “Oh, that’s right, I’m still gonna kick your ass.”

Nikolas lunged at her, swinging the statue in front of him. It whistled through the air as Buffy sidestepped the blow and spun to deliver a quick kick to the vampire’s midsection. Nikolas gave a loud grunt of anger when she struck and grabbed her ankle. Buffy hopped unsteadily on one foot, and Spike’s lighter slipped from her fingers. Nikolas kicked the Zippo across the crypt and slammed his full weight into her, knocking her to the ground and then straddling her abdomen to prevent any movement.

“Who’s gonna kick whose ass?” he taunted her, bringing the statue across her throat and cutting off her oxygen.

Buffy struggled against him, trying to shift her head slightly to the side to clear her airway, but his grip was too strong. As she felt herself beginning to teeter on the edge of consciousness, she saw Spike open his eyes, just a fraction at first and then wider, in horror, as he took in the scene that greeted him. Meeting his eyes gave her a burst of energy, and her fingers began scrabbling at the dirt, searching for the lost stake she knew had to be close by.

The tips of a few fingers brushed the curve of the weapon, and for a long moment, she thought she’d send it spinning even further out of her grasp. She stretched out her hand in frenzied desperation and finally managed to pull the stake into her palm.

In the next moment, Nikolas was collapsing into a column of dust, a shocked expression frozen on his face until it, too, was erased. Buffy closed her eyes and tilted her head back, sucking in deep breaths. She heard Spike moving in the darkness and reached out for him.

“Buffy, where are you hurt?” Spike bent over her in concern.

She coughed shallowly and pushed herself up into sitting position. “I’m okay. Just lost my breath there for a second.” She brought a hand up to his temple, caressed the skin next to the gash there. “What about you? Are you okay?”

He dismissed her concerns with a shake of his head and wiped a smudge of dirt from her cheek. “It was driving me crazy, watching that idiot put his hands on you, and me, helpless, not being able to do anything. If something had happened to you…”

“Hey.” She put a finger under his chin and forced his eyes level to hers. “I’m okay. I’m the Slayer, remember?”

“Yeah, about that: I’ve gotta do more to help. I don’t know exactly, but I’ll find some way to be one of the good guys. You’ll see. I’ll make you proud of me.” He pressed a gentle kiss into her lips. “Look what you’ve done to me. God, Buffy, with you in my arms, I feel like I can do anything. Like maybe this is my destiny. You and me, standing against the forces of darkness. You and me against the world.”

She kissed him back, softly at first and then with deepening intensity. “Spike, I think it’s time.”

“Time for what, sweetheart?” he asked, distracted.

“Time to, you know, share our love.”

Spike drew back and frowned slightly. “Meaning what, exactly?”

“Where is Anya with a quick sex euphemism translation when you need her?” Buffy bit her lip. “I mean, oops.”

Spikes eyes widened. “You want to? Here? Now?”

“You were right earlier when you said you could make it special before the wedding. I want you inside me right here, right now.” Her eyes were shining. “Well, not right now. Because there must first be an insane amount of schmoop and foreplay. But you get the general drift.”

“Mother said I was always prodigious at drift, even as a boy,” Spike murmured as he took off his coat and spread it on the floor.

*

“I’m drawing a big old blank here on vengeance spells revived by evil, bone-collecting wizards,” Xander said, slamming the book in front of him shut. “There’s a real shocker.”

“Perhaps we’re making this situation far more complicated than it really is,” Giles mused.

Willow looked up from the papers she was examining. “Meaning?”

“This spell was originally generated by your will. Even if you did not issue this current set of commands, you are still the source, meaning…”

“Oh, oh! If I perform the incantation to make my will safe again, that would wrest control away from the secondary spell caster!” Willow’s voice bubbled with excitement.

Xander slapped his palm into his forehead dramatically. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” Anya and Willow looked at him. “No, wait, don’t answer that.”

Giles ignored him, directing his comments to Willow instead. “You might want to make an adjustment to the incantation, make your will not only safe with respect to this current spell but also impervious to any additional manipulation.”

“That’s just what I was going to suggest.”

Anya patted Xander’s shoulder. “That’s very good, sweetie.”

Willow grabbed a notebook. “All right, let me work this out, and then we’ll all be back to good in a flash.”

*

Spike stretched out next to Buffy on the floor, dropping lazy kisses along her neck. He reached out and pressed the flat of his palm into her belly, feeling the taut flesh shrink back involuntarily from his hand as she shivered with anticipation.

He lifted his lips to hers as he covered her with his body, and Buffy gasped into his mouth at the feel of his weight.

“My beautiful, beautiful girl,” he whispered against her lips, and Buffy felt a tingle of energy shoot through her, flattening her body into the ground.

Spike jerked away from her in shock and confusion, swallowing hard as he brought a hand to his mouth.

Buffy eyes snapped open. “Oh. My. God! What the hell are you doing?” She pushed him off as she sat up. “I should stake you right now, you sick pervert! You are so lucky the spell ended before anything happened, or you’d already be dust.”

“Me?” Spike pulled his coat around him protectively, looking wounded. “You’re the one who’s assaulted my virtue, Slayer. ‘I want you inside me, Spike,’” he mimicked. “I think I’m going to heave. In fact, internally, I’m actually heaving right now!”

“You may remember that you said plenty of gag-worthy things yourself,” she shot back. “‘You’re my destiny, Buffy.’” The memory of the sincerity in his voice gave her a moment’s pause. It had sounded so right when he said it. It had to be a trick of the spell, she decided, nothing more. “You didn’t really expect me to believe you meant any of that crap, did you?”

“Yeah, right,” he scoffed, shrugging away the uncomfortable sense that he had tasted his destiny on her lips. The idea was too ludicrous to consider. “The whole ‘giving up the darkness for a girl’ schtick is the oldest trick in the book.”

“You disgust me.” Buffy stood and brushed the dust from her clothes. “Let’s get one thing straight before we get the hell out of here. When we get back to Giles’s, and they want to know what happened, you’re saying nothing about any of this. Nothing happened.”

Spike nodded. “That’s the story I’ll be telling. Don’t want your throwing yourself at me to get out. I’ve still got a reputation, you know?”

“I loathe you,” she seethed, stomping past him toward the door.

“Yeah? Well, I loathe you, too, baby.” He hurried after her. “I get the first shower when we get back to Giles’s.”

Their voices faded as they traded barbs and walked out together into the night.

*

Ash waited until the sound of Spike and Buffy’s sniping was replaced with silence and then stepped out from behind a tree next to the crypt. In other circumstances the fact that passion practically roiled off the pair even after he’d felt his spell snap would have prompted curiosity and further investigation, but now he was too annoyed to pursue it. Let the two of them keep believing they hated each other. Ash predicted the vampire would come to his senses first—he seemed much more self-aware than the Slayer—but even she would face up to the inevitable someday.

“Great,” Ash fumed, stalking to the edge of the cemetery. “Now I have to find three replacement minions and a new set of bones to track down. Hmmm, I wonder if the Bones of the Mostly Cursed are still supposed to be in Cleveland.”

When he reached the roadside, he glared at the “Now Leaving Sunnydale – Please Come Again!” sign until a faint jingling sound drew his attention further down the road. He watched as the feet of straitjacketed minions thumped softly on the pavement and stared in awe as platinum-toothed demons in evening attire floated along effortlessly behind them.

A smile lit up Ash’s face, and he tilted his head in recognition. “Good luck to you! Take out the Slayer for me, eh, guys?” The closest demon swiveled his head in Ash’s direction and stared at him, his wide eyes disdainful. “Uh, I mean, Gentlemen,” Ash corrected. The demon nodded once slowly, his lips twisting into a wide grin, and then faced forward, gliding off with his companions into the night.

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/37566.html

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