Title: Stitched Up
Era: BTVS s2
Rating: NC-17 eventually
Summary: Something goes horribly, horribly awry with Willow’s ensoulment spell, and Angel’s soul finds an unexpected home – in his dirty laundry. Read now the tale of a Sock with a Soul; it’s on a mission to help the helpless, and it’s starting with Spike and Buffy.
Departs canon forever during Becoming Part Two. Has about the nuanced characterization one should expect from an Ensouled Sock AU. As seems to be my preferred genre now, this is a shameless smutty Spuffy farce, once I get that pesky canon drama out of the way.
Warnings: By the laws of California, Buffy is still under the age of consent (18) at the beginning of this fic, and will be for many more months. Spike doesn’t care (he’s evil) and Buffy doesn’t care (she’s a teenager who wants to be treated like an adult) and since Spike has the emotional development of a teen (or even tween) himself, we’ll call it good. She’ll be 18 before they get TOO far, anyhow. There will be sexual situations, bad language, character death (or characters-sucked-into-a-demon-dimension, which is close enough), and plain old explicit sex. Also an ensouled sock. If you keep reading, don’t blame me.
Chapter 3: A Sock with a Mission
The sock thought it deserved a medal for its patience.
First off, it had watched and waited as Buffy and Spike debated what movie they wanted to watch, when anybody with a brain could see they wanted to tumble onto the tiny cot and get busy right then and there. Seriously, what was wrong with them?
Then, when the sun finally went down and Buffy deemed the windowed living room vampire-safe, they had sat at opposite ends of the couch, not even touching as they watched some stupid movie with no romantic ambiance whatsoever, barely even speaking.
And now Buffy was taking Spike back downstairs to chain him up again, and she hadn’t even held his hand once!
The sock was willing to do its share of the work for the relationship, it supposed, if it had to, but was it too much to expect them to meet it halfway? Didn’t Buffy want true love with an evil vampire?
With all of that in mind, the sock decided that its first move was to get the clueless couple in physical contact with each other. That was always a good start for the snugglies. The girl would fall into her future-lover’s strong arms; he would catch her, and they would both blush with unexpected lust, before the man dove in confidently for a first, passionate kiss…
Well, other than the fact that Buffy was demonstrably stronger than Spike – she had restrained him with one hand when he had tried to escape before the movie – it was the perfect plan. So the sock followed them as they walked down the stairs, waiting for a moment when Buffy looked shove-able.
When she was about halfway down, prodding Spike ahead of her, the sock made its move, launching itself at Buffy’s back, hoping to knock her off balance and into the vampire’s waiting arms so they could make with the happily-ever-after smoochies.
Alas, the laws of physics cared not for the sock’s noble mission, and Buffy barely even felt a tap on her back. The sock stuck there – having at least worked up a good charge of static electricity while scooting across the carpet – and desperately plotted its next move. Maybe it could lure Spike into Buffy’s bed? Or set Spike up outside Buffy’s window with a boom box? That sort of thing worked really well in movies… The sock was so lost in thought that it didn’t notice that Buffy had noticed it.
She frowned, craning her neck to look over her shoulder. “Oh, ew!” She reached back and plucked the sock off her back. “Spike, how did your grody sock end up stuck to my shirt?” She held it gingerly between her thumb and forefinger, nose wrinkling in revulsion.
The sock felt its fragile heart crumble at its true love’s disdain. It was true, it was dirty and disgusting and unworthy. It would never be worthy. It dangled limply, discouraged.
Spike glared up at Buffy. “Not my sock.” He grinned ferally. “My socks are black and sexy, like my unbeating heart.” He eyed the sock again. “Get all of mine from Marks and Spencer, can’t beat the quality. That looks like sodding Hanes.” His voice dripped with snobbery.
Buffy gave him a withering look. “Well, it’s not mine, and it’s not Mom’s. You’re the only guy around. Ergo, you’re the obvious culprit.”
Spike snagged the sock, looking it over judiciously. “Looks like one of Angel’s.” Buffy’s face crumpled; Spike didn’t even notice, face growing blacker. “He liked to steal the white ones, then wear ‘em around out in the garden, get the soles all black. Was sort of his thing.” Spike’s hand clenched into a fist around the sock; it was suddenly very glad it had no bones, because they would surely have broken. “Taking something pure and corrupting it.” His eyes were suddenly bleak. “Like my precious… darling…”
His cavernous eyes met Buffy’s, tears welling up, and they collapsed weeping into each other’s arms, sinking to the floor as they bawled.
Forgotten in their orgy of misery, the sock cautiously inched away and into the basket of dirty laundry waiting by the washing machine, where it curled and observed the couple as their wracking sobs gradually dissolved into awkwardness, and finally sullen, snarky insults that ended with Buffy clapping Spike’s manacles back on and stomping up the stairs while he flung himself on his hard cot, muttering curses. Hmmm. There had been physical contact all right, but even that bit at the end, where it had sworn they were going to kiss each other from the way their cheeks brushed together, had fizzled away without any progress whatsoever.
The sock hoped its interference hadn’t been the reason nothing happened, ruining the almost-romantic mood with its dirty self. It was a tragic thing, being sock-blocked.
Anyhow, it looked like they had a long way to go to their happy ending, the sock sighed to itself. But that was all right. The Sock with a Soul was burdened with glorious purpose, and it would carry out its mission, no matter how long it took. Buffy and Spike would be together, someday. The sock vowed it.
In the meantime, the sock had an important date with a bottle of bleach.
Buffy stood on the triangular patch of grass in front of the school, squinting into the afternoon sun as she waited for Willow, Xander and Cordelia. Finals were over, and she should by rights be happy, looking forward to a summer of frolic and fun, but mostly she just felt tired.
She had finally resumed patrolling, though her heart wasn’t exactly in it, and things were really slow. She supposed the whole thing with Acathla had sent a lot of the locals running to slayer-free towns, though she knew eventually the pull of the Hellmouth would summon them all back again. Lucky her. So she wandered the empty cemeteries and sometimes sparred with the air and missed Angel. Some nights she even missed having evil Angel around, because protecting her loved ones at least gave her something to do, so she didn’t feel so empty.
And then every night after patrol, she came home to Spike.
He hadn’t kissed her again since the night he had moved into the basement, which was of course right and proper and exactly what she wanted, but over the past couple of weeks their pattern of fighting-then-crying had gotten, not just familiar, but… well, she had caught herself walking faster on her way home from patrol, heart beating fast in anticipation, and it was just weird. But it was true that arguing with Spike helped her get to where she could let go of her constant emotional control, let down the walls for a little while, and then the crying part felt like it was slowly leaching poison out of her soul, and then the hugging part just felt nice, so she guessed their nightly catharsis was doing her good. She thought maybe it was doing him good as well; he hardly ever tried to goad her into killing him anymore, and Mom said he was having a good time with his evening TV shows, even yelling at the screen when Dawson or Pacey did something he disapproved of, so she guessed they were both healing together. Or simultaneously. Or whatever.
She wondered why he had kissed her. And then she wondered why he hadn’t since.
Stupid confusing vampire.
At least with school out, she and Spike could really dive into the research. Giles didn’t know they were still working on how to get Angel and Drusilla back; he thought she was just suddenly really dedicated to the cause and trying to build up general demon knowledge – projecting his own interests onto Buffy, of course, but she didn’t bother to correct his misconception. Especially once she found out that “studious” slayers got all sorts of perks, like first pick of the donuts. (She always left Giles a jelly, in subtle thanks. Of course, sometimes Spike then mooched Giles’s jelly donut, but he had so few outlets for his evil nowadays that she let it slide. Though she did suggest to Xander, staunch procurer of the donuts, that the jelly-to-non-jelly donut ratio be increased. It’s not like there was a national jelly shortage or anything. It was a free country. They could all have jellies.)
Willow was finally making her way across the lawn, Oz in tow; she had that cautious-but-brilliant grin on her face that meant she had totally aced all her exams but wasn’t going to say anything until she found out how everyone else had done, because she didn’t like to rub it in.
Buffy saved her the trouble of asking. “I think the best study-buddy ever has earned her stripes,” she grinned. “Pretty sure I passed everything. Not bad for a gal who was a wanted fugitive not so long ago.”
“I knew you’d be okay, Buffy. You’ve been hitting the books really hard lately.” Willow smiled modestly. “I think I did all right too.” She leaned into Oz a little and he gave her a little half-hug.
Buffy looked away quickly. “Have you seen Xander?”
Willow gave Oz a speaking look and his hand dropped away. “I think he went somewhere with Cordelia.” Willow flushed slightly. “Um, on a date.”
“So!” Willow’s voice was extra-cheery. “Did you want to go get some ice cream? Celebrate our freedom from the books?”
Buffy laughed. “What is this ‘freedom’ of which you speak? The books still own me every night. It’s just… different books. More ancient and demon-y.”
Willow frowned. “Is there another apocalypse? I thought things were slow. Didn’t you say things were slow?”
“No, no apocalypse. Just… working on a thing,” Buffy said lamely.
“Can I help?” Willow’s voice was eager, like she was already suffering from study-withdrawal and needed a quick fix.
“I guess,” Buffy said reluctantly. “Um, Spike’s been helping me out a lot.”
Willow’s face fell into lines of incredulity. “Buffy, you do realize you just used the words ‘Spike’ and ‘helping’ in the same sentence, right? A sentence without any negatives or noticeable irony?”
“I know.” Buffy sighed. “He knows a lot of demon languages, okay? And we’ve got a deal.”
“And you trust him?” Willow was clearly horrified.
“No! No, not at all.” Buffy hastened to say, waving her hands in front of her. “God, no! It’s just that in this particular case, we’ve got a… a mutual goal, that he wants as much as I do. I don’t trust him, not one bit, but he’s smart enough to do what’s in his own best interest. Right now, that’s helping me research.”
Willow narrowed her eyes shrewdly. “And what happens when you achieve your ‘mutual goal?’”
He has lots of sex while I never have sex again, was Buffy’s first thought, which she immediately stuffed to the back of her brain, because it was disloyal to Angel and gross besides; out loud she said, “Life is going to be good again. You’ll see.”
Unlife was never going to be good again. He was sure of it.
Spike glowered at the book in front of him, as if by force of will alone he could convince the tiny, handwritten script to rearrange itself into an answer he liked better, but the gothic lettering stood firm in its resolve to thwart Spike, like a flourished, illuminated “FUCK YOU!” right in the middle of the vellum page, accents laboriously picked out in gold leaf.
He slammed the book shut. Another dead end. Weeks, weeks they had spent sitting in the depressing library, every single night, reading and taking notes and conferring in whispers while the bloody watcher hovered around looking smug. And they still had chuff-all to show for it. Not even a bloody hint of a clue.
Leaving aside the antique relics, it was bloody infuriating that the modern publishing industry, which constantly churned out useless shite like self-help books and political memoirs and fucking Garfield compilations, couldn’t see its way clear to meeting Spike’s very real, very pressing need. Why the fuck had nobody put out a bloody “Dimensional Travel for Dummies” book? That book would sell a million fucking copies in its first week. Spike would write a fucking blurb for the back cover, if it helped him get Dru back, and then the infamous name “William the Bloody” would sell another million fucking copies. This was a real failing of the modern world, and if he weren’t so determined to walk into the sun, he would do something about it.
The slayer was sitting across from him, eyebrows knit as she pretended to be able to understand Latin, and he turned his glare to her, jaw set. God, he hated her. All that fucking compassion and full-of-herself goodness and the way she fawned over fucking undeserving Angel and her hair and her eyes and her soft, soft lips and that incredible noise she had made in the back of her throat when… Well, he couldn’t wait until he had Dru back and could get the fuck out of this bloody miserable sunny town and get back to fighting and fucking and savoring the blood of the innocent.
Buffy bit her plush lip in concentration, and he barely managed not to groan as his cock twitched in response.
God, he hated her.
The sock – now sparkling clean, thanks to multiple enjoyable trips through the Summers washing machine – watched from the shadows of Buffy’s backpack as yet again Buffy and Spike failed to take advantage of the privacy of the book stacks, or even to play footsie under the huge oak table. Did it have to do everything itself?
Stealthily it wriggled under the table, keeping an eye out for the old guy who was puttering around being an implicit obstacle to the hot monkey-loving. There they were, four legs, close enough to touch and yet, inexplicably, not touching.
That situation just couldn’t go on, not if the sock had anything to say about it.
Well, not that it could say anything, but it was getting pretty good at actions, which of course spoke louder than words, so in a metaphorical sense it was totally saying all sorts of profound things, and… The sock shook itself. No time to get distracted here. It was time for action.
It crept silently up the outside of Spike’s heavy boot, then carefully stretched itself out so that it could stroke the outsides of Buffy and Spike’s legs at the same moment.
Both legs jerked gratifyingly, then relaxed again, slightly closer to each other. The sock stretched out again, trying for a more leisurely, deliberate-seeming contact.
Whoops! This time when they jerked, Spike’s booted foot landed on top of Buffy’s.
“Ow! Spike, did you kick me?” Buffy’s boot landed squarely on Spike’s shin in retaliation; the sock ducked hastily out of the way, wriggling back towards Buffy’s backpack, where it could hide safely under Buffy’s History book. Oh, darnit. The old guy was standing right in his path. The sock huddled nervously by the table leg.
“Fuck! I didn’t do a bloody thing, Slayer!”
There was the sound of a book slapping shut above the table; Buffy stood up, legs stiff with outrage. “That’s it, Spike. Why are you being such an asshole tonight?”
The old guy spoke up, voice resigned. “If you’re going to argue, do it elsewhere, please. Some of us have actual meaningful research to do.”
“Fine!” The sock peered around the edge of the table as Buffy stomped around its perimeter, pulling Spike to his feet.
“Oi!” Spike protested as she dragged him off into the stacks. The sock followed cautiously.
By the time it caught up to them, Buffy had Spike pinned up against one of the shelves, in a little dim alcove. “Spike, your attitude is not helping!” Buffy was railing, shaking him a little.
“Fuck you,” Spike growled back. “At least I can read more than one language. Have you even made it through one sentence of that book you’re working on?” Oddly, he didn’t try to break free. The sock looked at him more closely. Oh HO. Someone liked being shoved around. The sock rubbed its ribbing together in anticipation.
“I’m doing just fine!” Buffy sniffed. “I can recognize the word ‘Acathla’ and that’s all that matters at this point. Finding places where he’s mentioned.” She kept her voice low, glancing off to the side, as if to make sure nobody was listening. Of course, she totally missed the sock, down at floor level, watching with bated breath. Not that it breathed.
Spike grinned. “Miffed that I’ve got a better education than you, eh, Slayer?”
Buffy shook him again, pressing her body right up against his. “I’m not miffed,” she said angrily. “Whatever that is.”
Spike puffed out his chest, trying to seem casual about it, though the sock didn’t miss the way his eyes flared when he came into contact with Buffy’s breasts, or the way she leaned into that contact. This was very promising! “Miffed. Pissed off. Irate. Infuriated. Enraged. In…”
Buffy interrupted him. “Oh, I’m that, all right. I’m really, really all of that.” She slid her body against his again, gasping.
Spike’s nostrils flared and his eyes fell to her lips, and her eyes started to flutter closed, and the sock watched intensely, wishing it had some popcorn and also that it was able to eat popcorn because this was it, this was the moment, they were going to kiss and fall in love right here in the book stacks, and they were so, so close…
And a book that had been teetering on the shelf above them fell and hit Spike on the head, and then bounced onto Buffy’s head, and they both fell back in pain, glaring at each other as if the book had been a deliberate assault.
As they rubbed their heads and glared at each other and muttered uncomfortably, the sock sighed and started to make its way back to Buffy’s backpack. It should have known things wouldn’t work out so easily.
Making Buffy happy was hard.
As it wriggled beneath Buffy’s History textbook – as safe a place as any, since in weeks she had never removed it from her bag once – it promised itself another ride through the whites cycle, as reward for all its hard work today. The washing machine had turned out to be a lovely experience, glorious hot soapy water and then the soothing warm tumble of the dryer, accompanied by the delightful aromatherapy of the fabric softener sheet, and then afterwards it was so fluffy and white and warm, it could just drift off to sleep until the next day, ready to take up its noble mission again.
It dozed off, secure in the knowledge that it was on the right track.
Buffy couldn’t focus on the stupid books after all of that, whatever it had been, so she called it a night before ten, dragging a sullen Spike home and wheedling her mom into making more hot chocolate. Spike was morose again, poking disconsolately at his mini-marshmallows as they dissolved, and she was too shaken to try to snap him out of it tonight. Especially since he kept giving her dirty looks out of the corner of his eye, like something was her fault, and that was totally unfair, because she was totally not responsible for whatever that was that had happened.
What the hell had happened?
But anyhow, after her mom had finished up the laundry and drunk a glass of wine and headed up to bed, Buffy nudged Spike with her elbow and jerked her head towards the basement, and he sighed and rinsed his mug out in the sink – Joyce had made it a condition of her continued provision of hot chocolate – and trudged towards the stairs.
When they got downstairs, though, Buffy felt uncertain again. Like she didn’t want to leave him alone in the darkness, but at the same time, she didn’t want to stay. She busied herself pulling the dry laundry out of the dryer and piling it loosely in a basket to fold later, while Spike wandered the perimeter of the room, lip curling as he looked at her old box of cheerleading trophies, the dusty toolbox, the plastic bins of blankets.
After a bit, Buffy turned and realized he was standing just a few feet away, eyes shadowed, watching her.
“What?” she said defensively.
“What are we going to do?’ Spike’s voice was low, uncertain.
“I don’t know. Maybe get in a good cry before bed?” Buffy’s voice was light, but she did kind of want to cry, though she wasn’t even thinking about Angel right now, and she really wanted Spike to cry with her. She needed him to…
“No, not tonight, I mean…What if we can’t do it? Get them back.”
“I haven’t really thought about it.” She had, but she didn’t like the thoughts that came up, so she preferred to pretend she hadn’t thought them.
“Stake me.” His voice was urgent, eyes wild.
“No! I’m not going to…”
“Look, I’ve been playing along with your little save-Spike project, haven’t I? Because you promised I’d have Dru back. If we can’t get her back… I’m done.”
“I won’t stake you. God, Spike, how can you even ask me…”
“It has to be you.”
He punched her in the jaw then; she was so surprised that she didn’t even try to block it, slamming into the shelves behind her. A box of Christmas decorations fell to the ground with a tinkle of broken glass. “Promise me,” he muttered through gritted teeth. “Promise me you’ll stake me.”
She punched him right back. “I am not going to stake you, Spike.”
He growled in response, leaping at her, and they fought bitterly on the concrete floor, leaving a good dent in the front of the dryer and knocking some old paint cans down. Finally Buffy had the upper hand, pinning Spike down to the floor, and they glared at each other for a long moment, eyes hot. She waited for the inevitable dissolve into tears, like always, wanted it, because she needed… she needed…
Spike’s hand crashed into her hair at the nape of her neck, pulling her down, and then he was kissing her angrily, and she melted right into him, sliding her body all over his on the floor, and it felt right, better than the crying, better than anything ever, his cool, insistent tongue and his hard, angry lips and his fingers, gentle and encouraging… She rolled onto her back, pulling him on top of her, loving his weight…
…Which was suddenly gone, as he pushed away from her. “No,” he said brokenly. “This is wrong. It’s wrong.”
He turned his back on her, stalking over to his cot and clapping his manacles on himself. “If we don’t get Dru back, you’re going to stake me,” he said harshly. He flung himself down on the cot, facing the wall, back rigid and uncompromising.
Buffy stood up shakily, nodding. “Okay,” she said softly, then turned and ran up the stairs.
The sock, sleeping happily at the back of the basket of clean whites, didn’t see a thing.
End Chapter 3
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/521968.html