Title: Stitched Up
Era: BTVS s2
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.
Notes 11/26/15: It’s done! Chapter 10 has not yet been run by my lovely beta-reader’s eagle eye, so any mistakes, plot holes, or other weirdnesses are all mine. I will edit the post with the final form when it’s done. Enjoy!
Chapter 6: A Sock Changes Course
The next day, Spike helped himself to one of the many blank journals the watcher had stored under the circulation desk, nonchalantly retrieving the Fyarl book from the lower shelf where he had tucked it the night before.
He had spent a goodly portion of the past twenty-four hours rationalizing his decision not to tell Buffy about the lead he had found. His official reason, the one he told himself was the true reason, was that he didn’t trust Buffy not to double-cross him, and in fact wanted to keep his options open for double-crossing her, because he was evil and that’s what he did. Double-cross and backstab and throw a spanner in the works for the white hats’ plans.
He knew it was a lie, but lying was also what he did, because he was evil, so he figured that was all right.
He also told himself that it was because he didn’t want to risk Buffy pulling back from their delicious late-night affair on account of progress on the retrieving-Angel front, and that one was true in a way, because he hadn’t had his fill of Buffy yet, he wanted more – though he was beginning to think he was lying again when he reassured himself that he would be sated at some point, ready to cast her aside and go back to his dark princess. He was starting to suspect that he would never get enough of Buffy, that he would never be sated, but of course things would have to end at some point. When he had Dru back. He told himself that Dru would be enough.
There was another reason – he didn’t like it, because it hinted at softness – but he reluctantly had to admit to himself that he didn’t want get Buffy’s hopes up, just in case it didn’t pan out. As he knew well, disappointment was easier to bear if it was a steady slide downward, not a rollercoaster of possibilities and hopes. If it turned out to be a false lead, she would never have to know.
He told himself that this was the secret reason his self-deception was covering up, because he already knew there were bits of him that were soft, that he had a tender side, so it wasn’t especially shattering to his sense of self. He was a lover, at heart; he liked pampering his woman, and for the moment at least, Buffy was his woman, and thus a little tenderness was called for. He was man enough to admit it.
The other other reason, his first thought upon reading the passage in question, the thought he had only thought once before shoving it under the mish-mash of lies and rationalizations and half-truths… That one he wouldn’t even think about again, because it couldn’t really be true. It was sick and twisted and wrong, and a betrayal so deep he could never forgive himself.
He was worried that the vague clues in the Fyarl book wouldn’t deliver, yeah, that they would just lead him to another dead end. That, he could accept. He could accept failure. He could handle self-doubt.
But that thought. The one he couldn’t admit had even existed. Now, watching Buffy as she frowned at another page of cramped Latin, her face a mix of despair and determination, it floated up again, unbidden.
Spike wasn’t sure he wanted to succeed.
It was strange, not knowing what he wanted. Unexpected. He hadn’t been uncertain of his desires since the moment he had awakened with a lust for blood and adoration of Dru, and this idea that he might have to choose, to make any sort of decision… it didn’t feel right.
Of course he was going to choose to get Dru back. Of course he was. He knew what his decision would be, because it couldn’t be anything else.
But telling Buffy… that was actually deciding. And he wasn’t ready to decide.
And that, that was a truth he couldn’t face. No matter how true he feared it was.
He determinedly opened the notebook and started to write.
The sock curled atop the dryer in dejection. Things were not going well at all. Buffy and Spike were spending all their time reading books and making notes, which was boring; the sock had thus far failed to get any smoochies going, which was depressing; and worst of all, Joyce had gone off to visit her sister, and had not started the laundry before she left. The sock had grown accustomed to its nightly spa treatment, and so was settling in for a good sulk when Buffy and Spike came downstairs, all set to lock Spike up for the night.
Except she didn’t lock him up.
A second later, the sock wished it had eyes, so that they could bug out at what it was witnessing.
A few seconds after that, it wished it had eyes so that it could avert them.
The sock suddenly realized that it was a goshdarn matchmaking genius, because this was a whole lot more advanced than it had even been trying for, and from the sound of things, Buffy was really, really, really happy. Obviously one of the sock’s clever schemes had planted a seed that just now was bearing fruit. It twitched its cuff around to pat itself on the back. Go sock!
It wondered what it should do now that Buffy and Spike had achieved official happily-ever-after coupledom. It rather thought tai chi might be interesting. It should head upstairs, see if Joyce had a videotape….
Oh, who was it kidding? It stayed right there and settled in to watch.
After a while – a long while, as apparently both Spike and Buffy had been eating their Wheaties – they finally subsided onto Spike’s cot in a sweaty, disheveled mess of mostly-nakedness. The sock frowned a bit. It didn’t have any actual human experience to go by, but it was fairly certain that there was supposed to be more to the process. Shouldn’t the mostly-nakedness be all-nakedness? Suddenly concerned, it slithered down the side of the dryer and crept closer, to hear what they were saying.
Buffy was tracing shapes on Spike’s bare chest. “I didn’t find anything today.”
Spike shrugged. “Can look again tomorrow.”
Buffy was silent for a while, curled in to Spike’s side. “I’m sorry,” she whispered finally.
The sock crept closer. This was not good. Buffy sounded sad.
“What’s to be sorry for, love?” Spike laughed softly.
“I just… I thought we’d have them back by now.”
Them? Who were they?
The sock was quivering with curiosity, but it had to wait because Spike had tugged Buffy up for some more kisses. Which was kind of infuriating. Here they had been not kissing the whole time that the sock had been working its heel off trying to get them to kiss, and now that it wanted them to stop kissing so it could find out what was going on, they were all with the tongues and stuff. It just wasn’t fair.
“Not to worry, love,” Spike finally said, shifting around so he was spooned up to Buffy’s back, hands idly stroking down her body. “We’ll find a way, any day now.”
The sock fumed. That was not informative.
Buffy wriggled closer to Spike. “Do you think they’re all right? I mean, it’s a hell dimension. There’s got to be all sorts of… hell stuff.”
Spike laughed bitterly, pressing a line of kisses along Buffy’s shoulder. “I’m sure they’re fine, pet. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re running the place by now. Dru’s got a way about her, tends to attract fanatical minions. And Angel…” He trailed off, his expression hardening. “I’m sure he’s getting by. Might be a tad irate they don’t have his brand of hair gel.” He ran a tickling hand along Buffy’s bare stomach, making her giggle against her will.
She gave him a wry glance over her shoulder. “You know, you use more hair gel than he does.”
Spike pressed his forehead against the back of her neck, silent for a moment. “Dru liked it,” he said finally, a hint of bitter laughter behind it. “She liked me to use the same brand, even. The scent… reminded her of him.”
Buffy turned in his arms, placing a tender kiss on his forehead. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, tousling his gelled hair so it fell in curls over his forehead.
“You’re sorry a lot tonight, pet,” Spike said gruffly, hiking her leg up over his hip. “Don’t have to apologize to me for a sodding thing.” He ground against her significantly.
“I’m not apologizing for me,” Buffy said with a sad smile. “I’m apologizing for her. Because she can’t.”
Spike stared at her for a moment, frozen, and then groaned, rolling her on top of him. The sock quickly realized they didn’t intend to talk again any time soon.
Well. The sock still didn’t completely understand what was going on, but it seemed to recall this Angel and Drew coming up in conversation back when most of the conversation between Buffy and Spike consisted of crying, so it was pretty clear that they were exes that the couple were still inexplicably hung up on – despite all the interesting things they were doing right at this very moment – and all the boring research was trying to get them to come back. How annoying.
The sock especially didn’t like the sound of this Angel fellow. He seemed like a cad. Even the name was the sleazy sort of thing a gigolo might adopt to seem mysterious, right up there with Fabio and Misha. And apparently Angel had been two-timing Buffy with this Drew person! (The sock had thought “Drew” was usually short for “Andrew” but Spike had been talking about “her” so things were a little ambiguous there. Then again, the sock was hardly one to talk about ambiguous sexuality.) In any case, Buffy deserved better.
No, the sock was having none of this Angel business. It had put a huge amount of work into getting this kissing going between Buffy and Spike – it was trying very hard to ignore all the other stuff going on right now, though it was difficult when they were both being so loud – and it was darn well not going to let some interloper ex-boyfriend come back and screw things up now.
The sock would just have to nip this research thing in the bud.
School was starting up again. It wasn’t fair.
Buffy was supposed to have Angel back by now, everything was supposed to be back to normal, but nothing at all was normal, and being back in the crowded halls lined with lockers while everyone around her lived out their normal high-school-student lives… It was surreal, that was the word, how she looked and walked and even talked just like one of them, but she wasn’t really, not anymore.
Dating Angel – if you could call it that – had seemed like just an extension of her high school life, like he was just one of the jocks walking down the hall. The sort of relationship you giggled about in the girls’ room, where you wrote your names together in a heart on the cover of your notebooks, gazed out the window imagining his eyes and wondering if he would take you to Prom.
Now when she pictured Angel’s eyes they were full of hatred and malice, and when she gazed out the window she wasn’t thinking about him anyhow. Well, sometimes, in an abstract way, but mostly she was just thinking about Spike.
He was kind of memorable.
It was weird, though. She had loved Angel so much. She still did. But now, it didn’t even seem completely real. Like it had happened in a fairy tale, to someone else. Everything about Angel had been dreamy and idealized, like she was floating up in clouds. Whereas Spike felt real. Solid. Earthy.
It didn’t feel right to compare them somehow, because Angel was her boyfriend and Spike was… not her boyfriend. She told herself it wasn’t fair to Spike.
She secretly felt it wasn’t fair to Angel.
It wasn’t Angel’s fault – or maybe it was his fault, but she wasn’t holding it against him – that they had only had one night of love before he had gone evil, that they hadn’t ever made it past the awkward bits. Which had been nice, even with the awkwardness. Maybe even because of the awkwardness. Sweet and tender and passionate, and not at all like she had heard first times were supposed to be. People made it sound like it was some huge painful ordeal, but really, it had been good, almost the entire time, and she was pretty sure she had had an orgasm there at the end, her first, and she was sure if they had ever had a second time, it would have been even better. He had treated her like she was made of glass, like a precious work of art, like a delicate flower.
Spike treated her like a woman. She liked it.
The first time she had joined him in his basement after the freaky porn incident – they still didn’t know how any of it had happened, and the videotape had vanished into thin air – she had been prepared to sniffle a bit, to give them an excuse to cuddle, but as soon as she had looked at him and he had looked at her, they had tossed the pretense aside.
“Need something, pet?” he had said offhandedly, hands trembling as he pulled her down beside him.
“Yes,” was all she had said back before kissing him.
And that had been that. They had fallen into kissing as inevitably as they had previously fallen into tears, and – maybe because they had already exposed so much of themselves in their nights of shared grief –they didn’t hide behind anything in bed either. They were both broken, shattered, but somehow when they came together they managed to fit their broken pieces into a beautiful mosaic, and it was right.
Not right in a lot of ways, she knew. Not right forever. But right for right now.
And being back in school just felt wrong.
It was good to hang out with the Scoobies, though – they had almost all their classes together again – and that kind of made up for the wrongness.
At least until they talked at lunch.
“So, how’s your evil boyfriend?” Xander opened with, and Buffy’s mouth fell open, because even though she knew Xander hated Angel, that was a pretty cruel way to start the conversation.
“Still in a hell dimension, last I checked,” Buffy snapped back. “God, what is wrong with you?”
Xander looked confused. “You mean he’s not in the library taking evil notes on evil books?”
“Wait, what?” Now Buffy was confused. “Why would Angel be in the library?”
Willow put a hand on Buffy’s arm. “He doesn’t mean Angel, Buffy. He means Spike.”
“Spike?” Buffy took a quick drink of her Diet Coke. “He’s not my boyfriend.”
“Oh, so he’s just a former enemy that you research with and patrol with and spend every waking hour with and keep locked away in your basement.” Willow had a teasing smile on her face, which was really wiggy.
“Yeah, that’s basically it,” Buffy said cheerily, not seeing any need to bring up the kissing and nakedness and everything-sexual-except-sex parts.
“Aw, man, Buffy, you thought I meant Angel? I’m a jerk, but I’m not that much of a jerk.” Xander had finally caught on to the first part of their conversation and had a look of panic on his face.
“It’s okay, I got it now,” Buffy reassured him.
“But Spike is in the library?” Cordelia had an impatient look on her face.
“He should be. Giles was going to tell Snyder that Spike was his research assistant, so he could keep working on my project.” Upon learning that Spike was reasonably conversant in several demon languages – “enough to give orders and order takeout,” Spike had scoffed – Giles had in fact commandeered the vampire to help with a project or two of his own. Spike had looked supremely pissed at the request, but after a glance at Buffy had sullenly agreed. Giles had confessed to Buffy later that he occasionally slipped Spike a passage that he had a good translation of already, as a test, and he was fairly confident the vampire was both translating to the best of his abilities and possessed of abilities beyond what he claimed. Which was unexpected, but Buffy had asked him about it later that night, in bed, and Spike had shrugged and pointed out that the watcher was paying him by the word, and since Buffy wouldn’t let him steal things it was the only way to stay in cigarettes and booze, and then he’d looked at her in a way that said he was really indulging the watcher for her, and she had left it at that.
“So, do we ever get to find out what this ‘project’ is? Maybe when you glue some charts to a posterboard and put it out with the model volcanoes and plants-listening-to-Mozart?”
“Yeah, of course. If it ever goes anywhere. Right now it’s mostly just dead ends and depression.” Buffy sighed. “Good thing school is back in session, so I can also have six fun classes to feel useless and maudlin about.” She looked at her tray of cafeteria food, which suddenly looked about as appetizing as, well, cafeteria food. “I should go see how things are going.”
“I’ll come along,” Willow piped up, sliding her uneaten pudding onto Oz’s tray. “Maybe I can find something to help with.”
“Sure,” Buffy shrugged, though she was inwardly disappointed, because she couldn’t smooch Spike with Willow watching. She had missed him during her morning classes.
They had almost made it to the library talking about inconsequential things, when Willow grinned at her again, voice teasing. “So, I promise not to notice if you decide to sneak into the stacks with your latest vamp boyfriend.”
Buffy turned bright red, because that was exactly what she had been planning on doing. “Oh my god. How many times do I have to say it? Spike is not my boyfriend!”
And then they went through the swinging library doors and Spike was there, sitting at a shadowed table, glaring at her under dark eyebrows, and she realized that of course he had heard her, because that was how these things worked, especially with a sharp-eared vampire involved, but then she didn’t care, because she had missed him all day, and there he was at last, and she could feel her face breaking out in a goofy grin.
After a second more of glaring, and a brief flash of surprise, he grinned back.
After the final bell, Spike tucked his private notebook and the books he had been working with back on their bottom shelf and replaced them with one of the useless things Giles was having him translate, because after that crack at lunch, he was fairly certain that the slayer didn’t deserve to get her “real,” soul-having boyfriend back, and was considering the possibilities of just snagging Dru and heading for the hills. Not seriously, of course, but he was still a little pissed.
It all fell away when she ran in the door, greeting him with a brilliant smile.
Giles had stepped out for a faculty conference of some sort, and Spike was the only one in the library, so he stood to greet her. “About time, Slayer. Was beginning to think you’d run home without me.”
“Would I do that?” Buffy said, batting her eyelashes, and he laughed, because of course she would, except at the same time he knew she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t leave him behind.
“Ready to get down to business?” Spike said, letting his voice ring with a bit of innuendo, because really, he wouldn’t mind getting busy.
Buffy glanced over her shoulder. “Nobody’s here. Kiss me.” Spike not only kissed her, he slid his hands under the hem of her skirt. She was wearing panties today, but that was all right; he rubbed them against her, sliding her into the corner of the book cage as he did so, where nobody could see if they came in to the library, not before Spike could hear them. Fuck, she was already wet, like she’d been thinking about him all afternoon. Buffy tilted her hips to give him better access, pressing her forehead to his shoulder. “God,” she whispered, as his fingers stroked her knowingly. “God.”
“So I’m not your boyfriend?” Spike said conversationally as she gasped into his shirt.
“No,” Buffy whispered between gasps. “You’re not my boyfriend.”
Spike stroked harder, twisting his fingers in the fabric of her panties. “What am I?” he insisted, suddenly terrified that he was nothing. He was used to being nothing to Dru, but he felt sick at the thought that he was nothing to Buffy, too.
Buffy tilted her head up then, kissed him, tongue sliding lazily against his. He stroked her deeper, just the way he knew she liked it, and she threw her head back as she came, barely managing to stifle her cry. That’s all right, Spike thought tenderly. I’ll make you scream again tonight, when nobody can hear. You can scream as much as you want. Tell me. “What am I?” he asked again.
She returned to herself slowly, eyes focusing on his chin as she blushed. “What do you want to be?” she asked in a low voice, sliding a hand up the front of his jeans, eyes hot.
Boyfriend. Lover. Everything. “What am I to you?” he whispered into her ear, sliding his cheek against hers, cajoling. She kept stroking him through his jeans, and he leaned in to it, though it was right up to the edge of the limits he had drawn, the point at which Buffy had to give way to Dru. She could touch and caress and bring him off, through the stiff denim, he just couldn’t have her skin against his and still convince himself that he was staying true. It was awful, this self-restraint business, not at all in his nature, but he owed it to Drusilla, owed her that much at least.
He suspected that the moment he felt Buffy’s warmth on his cock, no barriers in between, he would never be able to give it up.
“Tell me what I am to you,” he repeated, putting his hand over hers, encouraging her.
She quivered. “There isn’t a word,” she whispered into his neck. “I don’t know a word for what you are.”
“But not a boyfriend.”
“Not a boyfriend,” she confirmed, voice thready with desire. “You’re… more.”
That wasn’t an answer, not really, but it felt all right, comforting, and he pressed her close for another kiss, slow and sweet, as he came with a jerk under her clever hand. He tenderly lifted her hand off the denim and pressed his lips to each knuckle, raising an eyebrow at her smile of smug satisfaction. God, she was beautiful. Beautiful and saucy and sweet. He kissed her smile away.
“We should research,” she said after a bit, though she pressed a kiss to his neck after, like she wasn’t quite done yet.
“Yeah, we should.” Spike grinned at her. “Do I look like a man who does what I should do?” He kissed her again, hard this time, just to show her.
She shoved him away and grinned right back. “Never. But it’s time to go research.”
“All right,” Spike said indulgently, like he was doing her a favor, though he did actually want to get back to work. He had made progress on his translation, wanted to double-check something in the watcher’s notes while he was gone. He kissed her one last time and went to the door of the book cage.
It was locked.
From the outside.
With a padlock.
“What the bleeding hell…?”
Outside the book cage, watching from the safety of Buffy’s backpack, the sock congratulated itself on a job well done. They wouldn’t be able to do any research at all until someone came along with a key. Which might be hours.
As it watched, Buffy came over to the door, frowning, then gave it a swift punch near the lock. The hasp of the lock snapped. “That’s weird,” she said, looking at the broken padlock. She tossed it aside with a shrug. “So, research?” They headed towards the tables.
Curses, foiled again, the sock muttered to itself.
It was going to need a bigger lock.
End Chapter 6
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/534647.html