All right… second try… can’t get the $#$#% cut-tag to work for me…
The Taste Of Truth
Season 5–Post OOMM
PG-13, so far
The Taste Of Truth
Buffy ran faster than she thought she could, chasing the malignant looking demon through the cemetery and trying to catch it before it got out into the general population of Sunnydale. Until it appeared, patrol had been quiet, almost boring. Not even an unwelcome interruption from Spike had broken the usual monotony.
With a corner of her mind, she wondered about that. Spike had been acting strange for the last few days—well, stranger than usual. He had caught her out on patrol at least twice and strode alongside her making small talk, and then there was that one encounter in her front yard…. Her musings on the bleach blond menace came skidding to a halt when the demon in front of her did the same thing, turning to face her with long tusks bared.
She barely stopped, sliding on the dew-slick grass, and managed to keep herself from falling flat on her butt. She stared up at the tallness of this new demon, almost in awe of its size compared to hers. His tusks were as long as she was tall and nearly dragged the ground, and she thought quickly about making a pun about dental care. Puns aside, though, he was an impressive sight, all shaggy and black and tusked like that, and she could feel her heart flop over in her chest.
This could be it. This could be the one. The thought pounded through her mind and ignited her reactions. Her feet flew out in a circle kick that would have taken any other demon to the ground, but this one skipped over her foot like it was a child’s jump rope and stood there, mocking her with its size.
She jabbed at it with a flurry of right and left handed punches, not even bothering to make a witty comment when none of them landed. Instead she stepped back and looked up into its face with the massive amount of toothage and fur and tried to gauge how to take it down.
She never had a chance to try. It drew a deep breath in, then exhaled mightily, blowing her onto her padded derriere with a pink mist that fogged around her head, making her feel lightheaded and dizzy. She fanned at her face and looked up to assess its next move, only then noticing the strange stare that it gave her. It almost looked like it was…smiling.
Its smile was the last thing in her vision as the world went dark.
Spike toted his sack of blood and smokes across the cemetery with one hand while he smoked with the other. He was preoccupied by his recent dreams and fantasies of the Slayer and how they were changing his perception of things around him. Silly bint and her stupid hair, anyway. Never in his unlife had he ever seen a more annoying girl, especially a Slayer, until now.
Any other girl, he would have been on her, bleeding her dry. Why did his traitorous heart have to fall in love with this one?
His boot caught on something lying in the grass and he dropped his sack and cigarette, flinging his hands outward to regain his balance. Looking down, he noticed first one booted foot then the other, and up on top of them the body of his Slayer. In shock, he fell to the ground next to her.
Spike was horrified when he saw the Slayer’s limp form lying there in the grass. He wanted to grab her and shake her back to consciousness, slap her into submission, and drain her dry all at once. Instead, he picked her head up off the wet ground and pillowed it with his hastily shed duster, then quickly felt for her pulse and sized up her possible injuries.
To his eyes, she looked perfect. He couldn’t smell her blood anywhere, nor did he find her battered and bruised where he touched. She had grass stains on the seat of her pants, but little else to clue him in to the nature of her mishap.
He looked to his right and saw the door to his crypt waiting there. Grabbing the split sack off the ground, he ran and jammed it inside the door, then ran back to gather the Slayer into his arms. As he lifted her, he decided that perhaps his crypt was not quite the place for her to wake up, so he turned instead toward her home on Revello Drive. Joyce should still be awake, as far as he knew—hoped, actually, because there was no way that he could make it up the tree outside her window with her unconscious in his arms.
As he approached the house, he noticed the lights and the television still on and sent a prayer of thanks winging to heaven. His boots clumped heavily on the porch and the light came on as he approached the door that swung open before he could even knock. Joyce stuck her head out apprehensively, then opened the door wide for him to enter and place Buffy on the couch.
“Spike, what–?” she started, and he interrupted her before she could finish her question.
“Don’t know what she ran into, ma’am, just that this was the way that I found her. Don’t smell any blood on her or anything and didn’t look too hard for any bruises.”
Joyce’s lips tightened and she nodded imperceptibly, then stepped out of the room. Spike sat down on the coffee table next to the Slayer’s head, then picked up one limp hand and chafed it between his until he heard the footsteps of her mother’s return. He dropped it seconds before Joyce entered the room with a basin of water and soft cloths. She handed them to him wordlessly and watched as he bathed her daughter’s face gently, his movements betraying more emotion than he would have believed possible. Joyce drew some very interesting conclusions and a small smile crossed her face, along with a slight frown of worry. That was something to deal with in the future, she thought. Now is not the time.
Spike spoke softly as he worked. “Let’s get you washed up, Slayer. Maybe that will help you come out of whatever you’re under. First the face, then the hands. Come on, Buffy, wake up and show me those beautiful green eyes. Come on, pet.”
He was ready to give up hope and call the Watcher when he heard a soft groan from the rose-tinted lips and her eyes fluttered open to see him hovering over her. She gasped and drew back and he mirrored her actions, then leaned down to look into the eyes he’d begged to open.
“Pupils are responding all right to the light. Don’t think you hit your head too hard. Should be okay in the morning.” He sat back and willed his hands to remain still on his knees instead of smoothing the blond strands from her forehead. “I think that she’ll be all right after some kip, Joyce. Let’s get her upstairs.”
Joyce couldn’t leave at that, however. “Buffy, what happened? Did something attack you while you were on patrol?”
Buffy tried to answer and couldn’t at first. It seemed strange, Spike here taking care of her, helping her mother as they assisted her to her feet and got her up the stairs with her sandwiched between them. “There—there was a big demon—“ she started, and Spike looked down at her expectantly, waiting for her to continue. “It was tall and black and shaggy. It blew some pink stuff in my face,” she finished breathlessly. By the time she was done, they had made it up all the stairs and into her room.
Spike looked around the room, then back at the Slayer sitting on the side of the bed. “Pink stuff?” He watched as Joyce sat down next to her daughter and wrapped shaky arms around her. “What kind of pink stuff? Goo? Bloody?”
Buffy made a face. “Not bloody or gooey. More…misty. Yeah, like mist.”
Spike shook his head. He knew a lot of demons, but not this one by Buffy’s description. “I’ll run by the Watcher’s place and give him an update, Slayer. You get some rest and we’ll hunt this thing up tomorrow night.”
She watched him leave, then turned to her mother. “Mom, what was Spike doing here?”
Joyce looked closely at her daughter’s confused face, then had to suppress a giggle. “He showed up carrying you in his arms. Oh, Buffy, you should have seen him. He was very concerned about you, dear.”
Again, she made a face. “Well, he’s been acting really weird for the last few days. Actually, the last couple of weeks.” She yawned, and toed her boots off. “I think he is right about the good night’s sleep though. I feel like I’ve been beat.”
Joyce climbed to her feet and went to the door. She paused and turned back to where Buffy had flopped back on the bed, her legs still hanging off the side. “William isn’t the bad person that you think he is, Buffy. He really does have some good qualities.”
She smiled when her statement was greeted by a snore. Closing the door quietly, she made her way back downstairs and opened the front door. With a quick sniff of the air, she made her decision, calling, “William. I know you’re out here. Come in and have some cocoa?”
Spike stepped out from behind the tree in the front yard outside Buffy’s window. “Joyce—“ he started, but she held her hand up and prevented him from continuing.
“While we have cocoa, all right?”
Spike watched Joyce make cocoa while sitting at the kitchen island, cup in front of him and memorized her deliberate movements for times to come. He could smell the difference in her blood, although he would never tell her or the Slayer. There was something physically wrong with her, something that smelled deadly, and he couldn’t put that burden on either one of them right now. It was almost too much for him to bear, but bear it he would, to keep the Slayer on track and prevent further pain to her.
As Joyce filled the mug in front of him, she gave him a tight smile. “So how long have you been in love with my daughter, William?”
Her question stunned him and his hand jerked, spilling the cocoa all over the counter top. “I…Joyce…what….”
His stuttered reply revealed more than what he thought. Joyce smiled as she filled her own cup. “Spike, I’m not a stupid woman. I see how you look at her. I watched you in there with her just now. So, are you going to level with me, William?”
Spike took a sip of his cocoa and tried to mentally phrase his answer. “Well, mum, I guess since that spell of Willow’s last year, although I only just realized it myself.”
Joyce sipped her own cocoa and watched his face closely. “Well, William—what are you going to do about it?”
Spike shrugged. “Don’t know, Joyce. Slayer doesn’t love me, she loves Captain Cardboard.”
“Captain—Cardboard?” Joyce’s brow furrowed Spike hurried to clarify.
“That Finn bloke. You know, the overmuscled Boy Scout? Him. She says that she loves him, but Mum, you should see the way that he treats her. Like being the Slayer is a disease, not the gift that it is.” He stood and lifted his empty mug. “I need to get going, Joyce. Thanks for the cocoa and the talk.”
She put her mug down and walked around the counter, holding her arms open wide. “Come here.”
Spike accepted the embrace with only a little discomfort. She patted his shoulder and looked at him from her arms’ length. “I’ll see what I can do about Buffy, William. I may not have much influence, but there may be some way to let her know that you really aren’t a bad man. Just a misunderstood one.”
Spike looked at her gratefully. “I’d appreciate all the help that I can get, Joyce. Thanks.”
She listened to him leave via the front door, a secretive smile on her face. She really didn’t care for Riley, a fact that she’d never made secret. She would just have to let Buffy know her feelings a little more freely and play up Spike’s good points a little more. Mothers have their ways, she thought as she locked the house down for the night.
Spike made his way to the Watcher’s apartment. Giles answered his knock with a sigh. “What do you want, Spike?”
Spike smirked at the Watcher, masking his annoyance. “I just took your Slayer home. Found her in the boneyard knocked out. Thought you might like to know.”
Giles stood back and let Spike enter the apartment. “What happened? Did you see anything?”
“Actually, no. Fell over her on my way to my crypt. Carried her to her house, made sure she was all right, helped her mum get her upstairs. She said something about a big hairy demon, don’t know what she was yammering about. Guess this means there’ll be research tomorrow, huh?” Spike stood uncomfortably by the door as Giles looked at him, suspicion and astonishment warring on his face.
“Why does it matter to you, Spike? Your assistance won’t be necessary, I assure you.”
Spike popped his neck while he thought about his response to the Watcher’s rudeness. “Well, if this thing was powerful enough to take your Slayer down, then it’ll be something that your Scoobies can’t very well handle now, won’t it?”
Giles removed his glasses and cleaned them carefully. “I suppose you may be right about that, Spike. Very well then—you can join us at the Magic Box.”
Spike left the apartment, satisfied by his invitation to research with the gang. It was another chance for him to be close to Buffy. He found himself itchy with anticipation as he headed back to his crypt.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/78932.html