Title: they’re telling our story on the radio
Word count: 10,520(!!!)
Warning: Crack, silliness, and (fond) mocking of real people
Setting: post-“Not Fade Away,” can possibly be set in my “Variations on Eternity”-verse if you like
Explanation: Um. So. My head’s been totally in kdrama land lately, but it’s my seasonal_spuffy day. So I decided to combine the two things. Because that is who I am now apparently. There are a couple of not-so-veiled references to various kdramas floating around in here as well as appearances by actual people, but no real knowledge of Korean pop culture are necessary to understanding the story. I’ll be honest with y’all: this is really just an excuse to cast Yoon Eun Hye as a Slayer and to make fun of Kim Myung Soo. I have no excuse for my ridiculousness. Just love me anyway.
A/N: The only thing you need to know to understand this story is that fangirls for the band Infinite call themselves “Inspirits.” There are links to songs and videos that might help you enjoy the fic more, but they’re absolutely not necessary to understanding it (and I make no promises as to the quality of the music). Korean culture is not my own, so I apologize for any mistakes I may have made. The title comes from the song “Cuckoo” by Lissie. Thanks to angearia for absolutely invaluable feedback and to snickfic for saving me from ruining Spike’s voice completely. This hasn’t been fully betaed, though, so any and all mistakes and rough patches are my own.
Summary: “We have to save them. They have a comeback scheduled next week. And if it’s too hot where the demon is keeping them, Myung Soo might go crazy.” Wherein Buffy and Spike have to team up with Korean Slayers to save a kpop boy band from a demon. And there is crack and dancing demons and a discussion about how great Black Books is and torture-by-pop-music and unrequited love and harnessing the power of fangirls to take over the world. Of course.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Im Yoona as Lee Jin Ae
Yoon Eun Hye as Kwon Sun Hee
Hwang Sun Hee as Shin Eun Mi
The members of Infinite as themselves
“So I think you’ve seen enough cultural stuff now. Want to go shopping tomorrow?” Sun Hee asked as she wiped the dust of the final vampire off of her hands—not onto the sides of her skirt like a lot of Slayers would, but on a colorful but clearly easily washable scarf she pulled out of her pocket.
Buffy tried not to play favorites with the younger Slayers, but it was hard sometimes when she met girls (well, women, in this case: Sun Hee was only a few years younger than Buffy, the oldest generation of the newly called Slayers) like Sun Hee, who knew not to wipe vampire dust onto gorgeous suede miniskirts and when too much culture was too much. Buffy had been reluctant to come to Seoul when Giles had offered her the chance to check out the outpost there; she and Spike had just gotten back from an exhausting apocalypse-stop in Costa Rica and Buffy hadn’t been too excited about hopping on another plane and dealing with jet lag again, but Spike had convinced her (it turned out that he has always harbored a previously-unknown-to-Buffy obsession with kimchi, which made his breath rank but was, she had to admit, pretty delicious). And she was glad now, if for no other reason than the opportunity to meet Sun Hee. Not only did she know now that the Slayers in Korea were in good hands, but she also had a new friend. She hadn’t made very many since Sunnydale fell, but she and Sun Hee had bonded instantly.
Shin Sun Hee and her Watcher ran the training school for the younger Slayers in a fashionable part of Seoul, masquerading as a hagwon (apparently Korean high schoolers were so dedicated to their studies that they had special schools for more schooling after school itself was over. Buffy had made sure not to mention what her own high school attendance record was, but the way Spike smirked made it clear he was thinking about it). Sun Hee and her husband Dae Hyun lived in the apartment above and had offered to let Buffy and Spike crash on their floor instead of renting a hotel room. Literally on the floor—they didn’t have beds in their apartment, but the layers of blankets that they pulled out were pretty comfortable, Buffy had to admit. And the location was great—just run downstairs and there was all the room a Slayer could possibly want for training. Sun Hee had been very proud as she showed off the big well-equipped space and the enthusiastic girls. Buffy was totally impressed with what Sun Hee and her Watcher had managed to build here. The girls were dedicated to slaying without having sacrificed the things they really cared about, and it was heartening to see, especially since not all of the girls Buffy had met since Sunnydale had adjusted so well (like Dana, who still haunted Spike’s nightmares even if he wouldn’t admit it).
And Buffy’s fallen for Seoul, too; it had great shopping and pretty old buildings and an acceptable amount of demons that made sure patrolling was neither too overwhelming nor too boring. Since they’ve been here, she’s seen gumiho (some kind of weird fox-ladies with nine tails, which seemed a bit much for one person no matter how much she loved accessories, and a tendency to eat human flesh, which: gross—levels of danger varied; she met one who’s very content to eat lots of rare beef and live with her boyfriend), a ghost or two (and one almost-a-ghost girl in a coma on a weird mission to gather tear drops—yeah, Buffy wasn’t real clear on that one either), and of course regular old vampires (or not so regular: one was working as an actual prosecutor and it wasn’t a cover for an evil law firm, apparently—trust her, she checked. And who knew that vamps could survive drinking only the blood of dead people? She sure didn’t).
All in all, the trip had been a good one, low-key and pleasant. It had felt like a real vacation, which, apparently, she needed after that mess in Costa Rica (she hadn’t even had very many nightmares almost at all). And now a whole day of shopping? It just kept getting better. Throw in a foot rub and an all-day supply of skinny mocha frappaccinos and it’d be heaven-on-earth. And she would know.
“Yes,” Buffy agreed, tucking her stake away. There weren’t quite as many vampires here in Seoul as there were in the cities she was used to, not with so many cremations. But there were enough to keep patrol interesting. “Take me to the shoes.”
“You’ve created a monster,” Spike said dryly to Sun Hee as he shook his shoulders to settle his duster into place before he turned back to Buffy. “Remember, Slayer, you’ll have to get it all back to Merry Olde somehow. Don’t buy so much that the plane can’t take off.”
Sun Hee grinned; she and Spike had taken to each other immediately. “We can always just ship the excess back by barge.”
Spike jabbed a finger at her. “I’m holding you personally responsible if we have to find a bigger apartment when we get back.”
The two of them started off on a nice round of witty bickering, and Buffy decided they’d have to visit Seoul at least once a year. It wasn’t home, but it was lots of fun. Buffy didn’t speak any Korean (Dawn had tried to give her a crash course before she left, but Buffy barely managed to speak English coherently, so it didn’t really take), and though Sun Hee’s English was great, the other slayers had varying levels of mastery of it (Jin Ae, for instance, peppered her Korean with various English phrases but wasn’t very good at actual conversation, which Buffy totally couldn’t blame her for—English was hard). So Eun Mi, the witch who acted as the liaison between the Slayers and the local coven, had whipped up a translation spell. Buffy wasn’t clear on the details, but she was mostly sure that the Slayers heard Buffy and Spike’s words as Korean while the head Slayer and her vampire heard everything in English (Willow, over Skype, her face lit with interest like it used to while talking about computer programming in the Sunnydale High School library, had demanded details of how the spell managed the delicacies of jondaemal versus banmal—Buffy had been surprised to learn that the Korean language had special ways of talking to people formally and informally; Buffy had never been so glad she spoke English, since she can’t manage to be formal even in her own language—and so Buffy had turned her computer over to Eun Mi to explain).
Buffy turned back to Jin Ae, the other Slayer along for the night’s patrol. She was young and upbeat and a little bit of a tomboy, and since she was introduced to her, Buffy had been planning for her to visit London so she could meet Dawn. “What about you?” she asked the younger Slayer. “Don’t you still live at home? And have university classes tomorrow? How do you manage to stay out so late?”
Jin Ae waved a hand airily, the motion made somewhat ridiculous by the stake she still held. “My mom thinks I have a secret boyfriend I’m sneaking out to see.”
“Oh, are you going to get in trouble?” Buffy asked. Since the Empowering Spell, she had gotten used to looking at things from the parents’ perspective, something she didn’t bother to do much while her own mother was alive. She had even set up a special branch of the Watcher’s Council to deal directly with parental concerns. Sometimes she thought of the way she could have made her own mother’s life easier, and she didn’t want the girls’ parents and guardians to go through the same things her mom did.
“Are you kidding?” Jin Ae’s eyebrows leapt up almost to her hairline. “She’s thrilled! She always thought the boys would never look at me. But since I started training with the Slayers, she’s stopped trying to set me up for blind dates. It’s great!”
Sun Hee and Spike had apparently stopped snarking long enough to enter the conversation again, because Sun Hee snorted at the younger girl’s words. “Before Dae Hyun, my mom freaked out if she thought I was even talking to a boy. You’re lucky.”
Before Jin Ae could reply, Sun Hee’s phone started ringing—or, more accurately, started a shouty little cheer encouraging her to answer her phone. Sun Hee pulled it out, the little string of beads dangling from the top clacking against the shiny metal, and had a very quick conversation. When she hung up and slid it back into her pocket, the look on her face told Buffy that they wouldn’t be heading out to get a drink yet. Which might be a good thing—their second night here, Spike had decided to see how quickly he could get drunk on soju as compared to whiskey (faster, as it turns out, whether because of the alcohol level or the novelty, she wasn’t quite sure), and Buffy ended up carrying him back home on her back.
“That was Eun Mi. She just got news that a boy band is being held hostage by some sort of demon sorcerer.”
Buffy wasn’t quite sure how to react to that; it sounded too much like a joke. Spike was, unsurprisingly, deeply unimpressed. “This is what evil is reduced to these days? Kidnapping teenyboppers? Shouldn’t we send this bloke a fruit basket to thank him for putting us out of our misery?”
But Jin Ae let out a little yelp. “Which group, unni? Did she say who it was?” Her hands were practically clasped under her chin as she waited for the answer.
Sun Hee grimaced, an expression that looked both reluctant and amused at the same time. “She said it was Infinite.”
Jin Ae gasped like it was the most serious news she’d ever heard, and she grabbed Sun Hee’s arm so hard that the older Slayer winced. “Unni.” Jin Ae’s voice was deadly solemn, her little face scrunched up in determination. “We have to save them. They have a comeback scheduled next week. And if it’s too hot where the demon is keeping them, Myung Soo might go crazy.”
Sun Hee clearly did think this was serious, but her face still twisted up in a way that let Buffy know she was fighting off her amusement as she answered the younger girl. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
Spike, on the other hand, turned to arc an eyebrow at Buffy as though to ask, “You want me to take this seriously, Slayer?” She understood—he’d help anyone in danger, but she knew him well enough to know that there was no way he would be able to keep from providing them with commentary the entire time. Buffy imagined, though, how she would have reacted if a demon sorcerer had kidnapped New Kids on the Block back in their heyday; no wonder Jin Ae was so upset. So she just patted Spike’s arm.
“Pretend it’s the Ramones, okay?”
He opened his mouth to reply, but Sun Hee gestured them all in the direction of her home. “Let’s go grab the car. Eun Mi will meet us there.”
“Don’t worry, oppas,” Buffy heared Jin Ae whisper fiercely under her breath as they all broke into a jog. “We’re coming.”
Buffy managed to elbow Spike—hard—in the ribs before he could even open his mouth and he gasped for breath (big faker) and glared at her in response. She shrugged; sometimes it was nice having Slayer strength.
Fifteen minutes later, Buffy and Spike had piled into the back seat of Sun Hee’s car and Jin Ae had pulled out her cell phone and handed it back to Buffy to show her a music video of seven extremely pretty boys dancing in the middle of a wet soccer field.
“Awww!” Buffy couldn’t help it. “They’re so adorable!”
Spike slouched down low in the seat beside her. “That’s the music that plays in hell, I’m bloody well sure. Captain Forehead would love it. It’s like an entire band of that kid who sings that ‘Baby’ song.” Then he added, “Damn Andrew playing it every five minutes. Why haven’t I killed him again?”
Buffy dismissed this entirely. “Oh, they’re way cuter than Justin Bieber. And look at them dance!”
“That’s Hoya,” Jin Ae said, pointing to one of the boys. “He’s the main dancer and my bias.”
Maybe the translation spell was wearing off. Buffy knew that word, but not used in that way. That kept happening, actually. “Your what now?”
Jin Ae flapped a hand. “It means he’s my favorite.” And then she launched into detailed descriptions of each of the boys. Buffy knew that she wouldn’t remember any of it later, but she was kind of impressed by the amount of detail Jin Ae knew about these complete strangers. Buffy was pretty sure she couldn’t even name her own blood type, much less anyone else’s. Though, come to think of it, Spike certainly could (gross).
After Jin Ae’s debriefing on the band members was over, Buffy leaned forward to address Sun Hee. “Will we be enough to handle it? Should we call for backup?” Despite the fun of this trip so far, and despite how silly this entire demon-kidnaps-boy-band thing sounded, she couldn’t quite shake Costa Rica from her mind. If she had only listened to Spike when he suggested calling in more backup….She shoved the thought aside. It would only get in the way here.
“This is the kind of thing we have to handle very quietly,” Sun Hee explained. “The entertainment industry executives know all about demons and magic—many of them are demons themselves.”
“I hear the local branch of Wolfram and Hart is an entertainment company here, not a law firm,” Spike added, finally straightening from his petulant sprawl.
“Yes,” Sun Hee confirmed. “But they are very careful about keeping all of it out of the public eye. Almost as careful as they are of handling the idols’ scandals. If news of this gets out, it’ll be double the trouble for them—not only are some of their most valuable commodities in danger, but magic is involved. We have to handle this as quietly as possible. I think the four of us should be fine on this one with Eun Mi to help.”
“But what does this sorcerer want them for?” Buffy asked. The question had been bothering her since she heard the news.
“Yeah, what’s he want with those offenders of ears everywhere? And what kind of a demon is he?” He shot Buffy a conspiratorial look. “The only demon I know who’d have any interest in them is green and wears loud suits and is currently in Las Vegas.” Despite her lingering unease, Buffy couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of Lorne kidnapping a bunch of pop singers; he’d probably be delighted by them.
“We don’t know anything yet,” Sun Hee replied, swinging the car in a turn that would have made Buffy sick if she weren’t used to Spike’s driving by now. “The boys’ manager just said that a demon burst into the dorm and then he and the boys disappeared in a poof.”
“So where are we going?” Jin Ae demanded. “How do we know where the band is?”
“Eun Mi’s done a locator spell. It led to a warehouse down by the river. We’ll be there in just a few minutes.”
“So,” Buffy said as she and the others climbed out of the car into the muggy night air and slammed the doors behind them. “Does anybody else feel like this is a little too easy?”
Spike made a noise of agreement, but Jin Ae propped her fists on her hips. “What do you mean?”
Buffy scanned the surrounding area. Seoul’s lights looked beautiful reflected in the river, but this area was rundown and felt empty. That church in Costa Rica had felt empty, too. “If this demon is powerful enough to pop himself into the band’s dorm—and I’m assuming that their company keeps some kind of magical protection for them?” She addressed the question to Sun Hee, who nodded, and with her suspicion confirmed, Buffy continued. “—and then pop himself and the band back out again, wouldn’t he be strong enough to do a basic hiding spell that cloaks his location from locator spells?”
Spike and the three Slayers swung around to see Eun Mi walking around the corner of a warehouse behind them. She greeted them with a nod. “This is why I called you instead of just coming myself. The only reason he wouldn’t bother with the locator spell is that he knew that even if someone found him, they wouldn’t be able to reach him.”
“Sounds about right,” Spike confirmed. Sometimes, Buffy reflected, it was useful having a former Big Bad on the team to help with predicting evi lines of thinking.
“Weapon up, then?” Buffy said, turning to Sun Hee. The other Slayer nodded, then popped open the trunk of her car.
Spike let out a low whistle at the arsenal there. “My kind of woman,” he said, reaching over to pull out a beautifully-crafted sword.
“Mine, too,” Buffy confirmed, grabbing an ax for herself and stowing a couple of daggers in her boots and belt.
Sun Hee shrugged. “You never know when you might need a little firepower.”
“Shiny,” Buffy said admiringly as she watched the light from a nearby lamppost glint along the edge of her ax. Very shiny. Just the way she liked them. She ran her thumb along the edge—sharp as a razor.
“Dae Hyun likes to watch me sharpen them,” Sun Hee said with a waggle of her eyebrows that reminded Buffy of Faith. Spike guffawed appreciatively and Buffy rolled her eyes. “I know what you mean,” she said.
“Excuse me?” Jin Ae’s voice was steely, and her tone and the large sword she held in her hand would have looked absurd when paired with her pixie-like appearance if it weren’t for the seriousness in her eyes. “This demon still has Infinite. Can we focus, please?”
“We sure she isn’t the one behind the kidnapping? Maybe she’s got them tucked away in her bedroom.” Spike managed to exercise enough restraint to whisper the words under his breath, so Buffy didn’t have to hurt him again since Jin Ae hadn’t heard.
“Right,” Buffy said, hefting her ax. “Let’s do this, then.”
The inside of the warehouse looked like any other abandoned warehouse Buffy had seen—and, since younger vampires and demons tended to hole up in such places (which she’d never understood: if she was evil, she’d have lived it up in a penthouse or something. Glory had made sense to her) she’d seen a lot. Broken windows let in light from the streetlamps outside, a thick layer of grime covered everything, and there were signs that someone had been living there at some point, if the mess of old clothes and cigarette butts in the corner was any indication. She heard some pigeons cooing and wings flapping above them as she pulled open the creaking door and eased inside, but the birds clearly weren’t easily spooked, because they didn’t take off.
“Smell anything?” Buffy asked Spike. Eun Mi had brought a couple of the boys’ t-shirts the manager had provide, and Spike had taken a whiff of them outside.
He snorted. “Besides bird shit and hobo stench? They came through here earlier, but they aren’t here now.”
“Huh.” Buffy turned to Eun Mi, who was just behind them, with Sun Hee and Jin Ae taking up the rear. “Could we run the spell again?” she asked the witch.
“I did just before you arrived,” Eun Mi said. “The spell indicates they are here.” She said it perfectly calmly, though Buffy realized that it was probably annoying to be asked if you were doing your job right. All the witches she’d ever met, Willow aside, projected that unruffled centeredness. Sometimes Buffy envied them that; it would have come in handy in the aftermath of Costa Rica.
“But they’re not,” Jin Ae pointed out. “There’s no place for them to be hidden in here.” She was right—there were some shredded cardboard boxes, and a pile of tangled metal bits of what Buffy assumed at one point had been machinery. But that was it; the rest of the warehouse was empty, and there certainly wasn’t anything large enough to hide seven young men.
“You’re right,” Spike said. “Let’s just mark this one up as a victory in the war on shit music and hit up a pojangmacha for some ttekbokki.”
Buffy didn’t even bother to glare at him; even Jin Ae could tell he was protesting more on principle than out of seriousness. “Let’s take a look around and see what we can find,” she said instead. She knew from personal experience that just because someone didn’t appear to be there didn’t mean they weren’t.
The Slayers spread out to comb the room, while Eun Mi stood in the center of the room, stretching out her fingertips and letting her eyes sink shut in a way that was familiar to Buffy. Buffy started in a corner of the room, kicking aside some old plastic bags with the toe of her shoe. The place smelled so much like bird poop that she really was surprised Spike could smell anything over the scent.
“There’s definitely a strong magical presence here,” Eun Mi said after a moment, opening her eyes. “It’s slippery, though—I can’t get a handle on just what it is.”
“Enough to make the little boys invisible?” Spike asked. He met Buffy’s eyes and she knew he was thinking of that time with Willow back when he was crazy. It was weird thinking of him that way now; it hurt her heart to remember how broken he’d been, even more so now after that close call just a few weeks ago. Her thoughts must have shown on her face, because he winked at her, and she couldn’t help but grin back—he had that affect on her.
“Enough, yes, but I don’t believe that’s what it’s for,” Eun Mi confirmed.
Still, it was better to check. But soon enough the group had walked across every inch of the floor that they possibly could, and no one had run into any invisible pop idols.
“Where are they?” Jin Ae swept her sword around in frustration, her brow knit.
Buffy was stumped. There weren’t any clues that she could see. She hated to ask, but…. “Eun Mi? Do you think we could try the locator spell again?”
Eun Mi’s face clearly said she didn’t think it was worth it, but she shrugged. “One more time couldn’t hurt, I suppose.”
“Ugh!” Jin Ae made a frustrated sound in her throat, then jabbed the tip of her sword at a circular grate on the floor. Buffy was about to say something to her about the proper way to take care of her weapons, but before she could, a panel in the floor slid open. Jin Ae stood there gaping, looking from her sword to the grate and then to the hole in the floor. “I guess that explains it?”
“Lucky you, hitting the button that opened it,” Sun Hee said, stepping forward to peer down into the hole. “There’s stairs. I’ll go first?”
No one had any objections, so she headed down the stairs, Jin Ae behind her and Eun Mi between the two lead Slayers and the rear guard of Buffy and Spike. “Be careful,” Eun Mi instructed as they made their way down the stairs. “I’m sure the magic is very strong.”
The passage they found themselves in couldn’t have been more different than the warehouse above. The walls were sleek and white, and the place was dimly lit by a line of lights running down each side of the floor.
“Reminds me of the soldier boys’ playhouse back in Sunnyhell,” Spike said quietly.
“It’s not that creepy,” Buffy protested, but she sidled up closer to him. He didn’t talk much about his time with the Initiative, but she knew it hadn’t been pleasant, even aside from the way it stung his pride. “It’s the quiet, I guess. And the lack of windows.”
They’d only made it a few feet down the passage when suddenly the stillness exploded. Brightly colored beams of light started whipping around the room, flashing so bright and close Buffy had to squeeze her eyes closed.
“What the bloody fu—“
But Spike’s question was cut off, because immediately the air burst with the sound of music. Very, very loud music. Very, very loud pop music. And then the lights made sense—concert lights, to match the song. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this must be one of Infinite’s songs. Buffy liked pop music generally—much to Spike’s continued chagrin—but this was so loud. She could feel the bass pounding in her chest, and she was pretty sure that her hair was vibrating with the force. She was half-convinced that her feet were coming off the floor with each pound. She’d been to more than one loud concert in her time, but this was too much even for her.
The lights were flashing enough that she could only catch glimpses of the other women paused in front of her, but she could see that Sun Hee was trying to say something to the other two. Her fingers stuck into her ears—not that it helped much—she turned to ask Spike if he could make out what the other Slayer was saying. But he wasn’t behind her.
She located him by the time her heart started beating again, but she still felt shaken, especially when she saw that he was curled up on the floor, his head tucked between his knees and his hands clamped over his ears. She rushed to his side, falling onto her knees beside him. He craned his neck up to give her one agonized look, and she knew that he really was in pain. Of course he was—his hearing was so much more sensitive than hers, and Buffy was pretty sure she’d never heard anything so loud in his life. She pressed her smaller hands over his, knowing that it wouldn’t help much in dimming the sound but determined to try. This reminded her far too much of when his chip had malfunctioned, and she never wanted to see him like that again. She knew, theoretically, that as long as he wasn’t dust, there was nothing he couldn’t recover from, but that didn’t stop her from worrying whenever he was in pain. Especially after Costa Rica. She pressed herself closer to him. He didn’t give off warmth, of course, but he could reflect hers back to her, and the solidness of him was reassuring.
And then, abruptly, the sound disappeared, cut off in the middle of a note. The silence was so sudden and so absolute after the sound of the music that it almost seemed to have a physical presence, broken by nothing except the echoes in her ears and the last whining note of Spike’s whimper. The lights were still flashing around them, but the silence was blissful after the noise. Buffy glanced quickly over her shoulder. Eun Mi was bringing her hands slowly down.
“We should hurry,” she said. “I can only keep this bubble around us for so long. I wouldn’t bother, except that your husband appears to be in great pain.”
“Pain? I know a thing or two about pain, love, and let me tell you: that was torture.” Spike’s voice was thick, but he’d dropped his hands and was brushing her hands aside to stand now, thankfully. Still, the look on his face worried Buffy, and that was before she noticed the blood trickling out of his ears.
“Spike!” She pressed back against him, pushing his hands out of the way to dab at the blood with the hem of her shirt.
“Are you okay?” Jin Ae asked, her voice shaking.
“Yes, vampire hearing is quite sensitive, isn’t it?” Eun Mi said. “We don’t interact with them much except to assist in slaying them. I hadn’t realized.”
“Vampire hearing my arse,” Spike grumbled as Buffy wiped the last of the blood away. At least they’d stopped bleeding immediately. But Buffy’s heart still ached. “That was the worst shite I’ve ever heard. People call that music?”
Relief hit her like a wave. If he was well enough to complain about the quality of the music instead of the decibels, then he was fine. He pushed her hands aside again and shook his head like a dog, or like he was trying to get water out of his ears. Buffy imagined that if her ears were still ringing—and they were—his must be much worse.
“I love that song.” Jin Ae’s voice still trembled a little, but she was recovering her spirit, as was evidenced by the tilt of her head as she defended her band.
“Hangwa,” Spike said, using the nickname in what was, to Buffy, a clear attempt to reassure her, “it sounds like the love child of a Tasmanian devil and a dentist’s drill stuck in a blender and run through autotune.”
“This from the man whose taste in music could best be described as ‘angry guys who need a shower shouting’?” Buffy asked with a forced smirk. Her hands were still shaking a little bit, but she felt better now that she was teasing her vampire again.
Sun Hee grinned, but she turned to Eun Mi to ask a serious question. “So that was part of the defense system?”
“It appears to be,” the witch agreed. “I expect it’s to keep out other demon competitors with highly developed hearing. That would keep out any vampire, wouldn’t it, Spike?”
Spike nodded. “I can’t imagine one getting past that. Hurts too much.”
“But the demon would have to know that that wouldn’t keep out humans,” Sun Hee pointed out.
“Right,” Buffy agreed. “So be careful. I’m sure there’ll be something else soon.”
With the lights still flashing enough to give Buffy the beginnings of a headache, they started forward again. They were approaching a bend in the passage, and as they did, a portion of the white wall in front of them slid aside and out streamed a line of very ugly demons. They were a little shorter than Buffy, though broader, and had faces like pigs, complete with tusks. They were all holding weapons—spears, swords, axes, the usual. They actually looked like slightly skinnier versions of those aliens that guarded Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars and oh my god, she was spending way too much time with Andrew.
The weirdest thing about them, though, was the way they were dressed. All of them were wearing variations on the hyper-fashionable clothes that Buffy recognized from music videos. Blazers and boots and bright colors, a bow-tie here and there—one or two even wore fedoras. Each outfit was different enough from the other that they didn’t look like uniforms, but similar enough that they clearly went together. They were dressed, in essence, like a boy band.
“Okay, whoever this demon guy is, he is way too obsessed with pop music,” she said. “Though,” she conceded, “it is nice to have a nemesis with a taste for fashion. Branching out beyond black-on-black look is always a good idea.”
“Hey, now, Slayer,” Spike said. “It’s a classic for a reason.”
While they were talking, they’d fallen into battle-ready stances, and Sun Hee and Jin Ae had done the same as Eun Mi moved behind the fighters and out of their way. The demons, meanwhile, walked briskly in step and formed a line straight across the passage in front of the Slayers’ group. And then they stopped.
“So, um, are we going to do this?” Buffy asked after a silent moment.
“Yeah, you twits, want to dance?” Spike added.
The last word was barely out of his mouth before the demons started to move. Buffy tensed, ready to throw herself into the fray, except…
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me.” The look on Spike’s face was one of abject horror mixed with contempt, and Buffy couldn’t blame him. Because the demons had raised their weapons to the ready position, sure. But music had started again—Eun Mi had let down her shield, apparently—though it was at an acceptable level of loud this time, and the demons were dancing. Or trying to, anyway: their short, pudgy bodies clearly weren’t built to move like that.
“That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen,” Sun Hee said, aghast.
“Hey!” Jin Ae shouted suddenly. “Those are Infinite’s moves! You can’t steal their choreography!” And then she was rushing forward and the demons made a loud noise and then they moved forward—still in perfectly choreographed moves—and started to fight.
Buffy did a double-take, then she was running at the demons, too, ax at the ready, Spike a half step behind her. She could hear Sun Hee shouting some sort of insult at the demons, but Buffy was a little too busy with fighting to concentrate on what the other Slayer was saying. Because it was actually kind of hard to fight choreographed fighting. She would have thought that the planned nature would make it easier, but actually, the fact that their movements were more focused on rhythm than on destruction meant that they were really hard to predict.
“It’s easy!” Jin Ae shouted above the sound of battle and the boy band tune. Apparently she was having an easier time than Buffy was. “Buffy-unni, I showed you that video earlier! They’re doing those moves! Try to remember it and you can predict what they’re doing next.”
“Some of us haven’t watched that thing six thousand times!” Spike shouted back, but Buffy was trying to remember what she’d seen. She concentrated for a moment, trying to fall into the rhythm, and then…
“Yes!” She’d sliced right through two of them and hacked the arm off a third.
“Really, Slayer?” She didn’t have time to pause to look at Spike’s face, but she could tell by his tone that he was half-impressed, half-disgusted.
She shrugged even as she sliced the legs off a demon wearing a blue bowtie. “I was a cheerleader. If you want to be good, you have to pick up the choreography fast.”
The thing about fighting choreographed fighting was that it kind of forced you into a choreography of your own. Buffy found that she was moving in time to the music, and even though she wasn’t very fond of this particular song, she kind of liked it. It was like zoomba. Except with more demon guts, obviously.
The fight was furious but didn’t last too long with three Slayers and a vampire against the decidedly smaller demons, even if there were several dozen of them. Some time later, there were only a few demons still standing—dancing—ewwww—but they were becoming harder to fight now that there were bodies laying everywhere. She hacked off a demon head—the fedora went flying—and paused to scan the situation. Eun Mi was still waiting patiently, and Sun Hee was finishing up with a pair of shorts-clad demons in the corner. Jin Ae was attacking her last foe furiously, apparently pouring all of her anger over her beloved band being kidnapped into decapitating this last demon. And Spike—
She hurled herself forward and swung up her ax to catch the descending swing of a demon’s sword. But Spike had caught a glimpse of it himself, and swung around at the same time, nearly decapitating her with a swing of his sword meant for the demon. She gasped. He barely managed to change the trajectory of his swing in time to keep from slicing right through her; she actually felt the air displaced by the blade as it moved by her cheek. He dropped the sword immediately, and Buffy, trying frantically to recover, did away with the final demon with one motion. But then her ax fell from her numb hand, and she found that she was pressing her free hand against her pounding heart.
Spike caught her by the shoulders, leaning forward to meet her eyes when she tried to drop them. “Buffy.” She looked up reluctantly. His expression was confused and a touch concerned. “I had it.”
He could have said more, of course, and she knew that if he weren’t so concerned, he probably would: rail against her impulsiveness, blame her for putting herself in danger, explode that he could handle it. But the fear that had propelled her into motion must still have showed on her face, because he brought up a hand and brushed her cheek. “I had it,” he repeated.
She smiled shakily and knew that the expression wasn’t very convincing. “I know.”
He held her gaze for a moment more, then dropped his arms and turned back to the others. Eun Mi was watching them calmly, but Sun Hee was studying her sword and Jin Ae was glaring at the piles of demon corpses littering the floor.
“You birds ready to move on?”
At Spike’s words, Sun Hee’s commander expression slid back onto her face. She was really good at the I’m-the-leader face, but Buffy was still too shaken to be proud of the younger Slayer. “There’s a door just ahead.” She pointed around the corner. “Eun Mi and I will check it out so we can come up with a plan.” She gestured to the witch. “There might be more magic.”
Buffy opened her mouth to argue, but Sun Hee was already marching down the hall. Feeling suddenly exhausted, Buffy leaned back against the nearest wall and slid down it until she was sitting on the ground—thankfully on a spot that wasn’t smeared with demon blood and guts. Spike was about to take a seat next to her when little Jin Ae stomped over and plopped down beside her.
“I bet the oppas are scared,” she said, wiped her sword on the blazer of a nearby demon corpse. “I bet they didn’t know about demons at all.”
“Probably not,” Spike agreed, sitting down beside Buffy. Buffy could feel him looking at her, and knew that that concern would still be in his eyes, but she didn’t meet his gaze. Instead, she turned her attention to the young Slayer beside her.
“Hey,” she said, trying to muster up some lightheartedness. “If they can deal with thousands of screaming fangirls, surely they can deal with one idol-obsessed demon.” Well, she hoped it was just one.
The joke was pretty weak, as was the mirth behind it, but Jin Ae still giggled. “Yeah. I’m still worried about them, though.”
“Of course you are. And one of them gets wonky if he gets too hot?” Buffy asked. She was pretty sure she remembered Jin Ae saying something like that.
Jin Ae nodded. “His name is Myung Soo, but he goes by L. He’s the visual.” Before Buffy could even ask, she clarified. “The pretty one.”
“That’s a real title?” Buffy wasn’t sure whether she was appalled or impressed. American bands included boys just for their looks, too, but they weren’t usually so upfront about it. She settled on being impressed at their honesty.
“Yes. Myung Soo’s supposed to be the cool one, but he’s really a big dork. He falls over all the time when they perform. And when the weather gets too hot, he gets really weird.”
“There’s an episode of Black Books like that,” Spike said. “Bloody brilliant show. Cancelled too soon.”
“Is that the one with the angry guy who made the wine popsicle?”
“You would remember that, Slayer.”
She finally looked at him, and he smiled at her, a hopeful light in his eyes. She smiled back, even if it wasn’t very bright. He was fine: he was right here beside her and talking about British sitcoms. He was fine.
She was about to open her mouth and reply when Sun Hee and Eun Mi rounded the corner. Buffy, Spike, and Jin Ae all climbed to their feet.
“The door just past this one is locked,” Sun Hee explained. “But Eun Mi could tell that the band is just behind it and that the source of the magic is, too.”
“Can we get through?” Buffy asked. She felt a little steadier now that there was something to focus on.
“We’ll try to break down the door, and if that doesn’t work, I’m sure Eun Mi can get it open,” Sun Hee replied. She turned to look at Jin Ae. “And be on the alert when we get through. No rushing into things again, all right?”
Jin Ae’s mouth set in a stubborn pout, but she nodded. “All right, unni.”
“Good. Let’s get through this door.”
There were very few doors in the world that could withstand the combined strength of four people with superpowers, and soon enough, the metal crumpled beneath their force. Then Sun Hee tossed the mangled remains out of the way, and the rescue team made their way into the room beyond.
First thing was first: Buffy scanned the room for any signs of danger, noting distantly that the boys were there and looked fine. The room was large, with a stage at one end, but other than that it was empty except for a large armchair in which rested what had to be the sorcerer demon. He reminded her of Clem, a little, except that his skin didn’t hang loosely on his body and he was the color of a ripe banana. And he was wearing an outfit that definitely seemed coordinated with the ones the dancing demon guards had worn earlier. He didn’t seem at all surprised to see the rescue team, but he also didn’t seem about to shoot magic at them, either, so Buffy turned her attention away.
The band members were sitting in a row against the wall, most of them wearing hoodies and sweat pants, except for one who was wearing plaid and clutching something that looked like an extraordinarily long, skinny round basket with no bottom. Which was weird, but not something she had time to think about at the moment.
Because Jin Ae had run over to the boys, and just as she nearly reached them, she flew backwards as though she’d run into a force field and been repelled. Ugh. Buffy was definitely spending too much time with Andrew.
“Jin Ae!” Sun Hee sounded frustrated but also amused, which Buffy had discovered was Sun Hee’s usual attitude toward the younger Slayer. “What did I say about not rushing into anything?”
Jin Ae winced as she stood up, but she looked fine. “I wanted to see if they were all right!”
“Of course they’re all right!”
Buffy turned to see that the demon had risen from his chair. His skin seemed to ripple, and Buffy caught a whiff of a decidedly unpleasant smell. Like… too much cologne?
“Why wouldn’t they be all right?” the demon demanded. “I take very good care of my guests.” He sounded truly offended.
The rescue team all exchanged looks, except for Jin Ae, who propped her fists on her hips and glared at the demon. “You kidnapped them!”
“Of course I did! But that doesn’t mean they aren’t my honored guests!” He bowed to the boys, who looked like they were struggling to stand but couldn’t.
“So you intend to let them go whenever they wish to leave?” Sun Hee asked skeptically.
The demon laid a hand over his heart like a rich society lady hearing about a scandal. “Of course not. They couldn’t possibly leave now, not when our work has just begun!”
“And what is your work, exactly?” Buffy asked. “What is it that you want with the band?”
“What everyone wants.” He spread his hands—or, er, flippers, maybe, now that Buffy got a good look at them—wide, as though it were self-evident. “I want them to dance and sing.”
“You kidnapped them because you wanted free entertainment?” Spike sounded disgusted.
“Not at all!”
“Well, what then?” Jin Ae was practically vibrating in fury.
“It’s very simple.” The demon started sauntering toward them, which, with his rippling banana skin, wasn’t a pretty picture. “What’s the most powerful force in the universe?”
“Black holes,” Jin Ae said through her teeth—still angry.
“No!” the demon said.
“Gamma ray bursts?” Spike suggested. Off Buffy’s incredulous look, he glared at her. “You’re the one who won’t station Andrew somewhere far, far away from us.”
“Wrong!” the demon said.
“Love?” This was Sun Hee, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Are you stupid, all of you?” Now the demon was truly insulted. “The answer should be clear to anyone with half a brain. Fangirls’ feelings, of course!”
“What,” Spike said flatly. It didn’t sound like a question. Buffy herself couldn’t think of anything to say in response to something that ridiculous.
“It’s inexhaustible! It’s eternal! And it’s environmentally-friendly!” The demon tucked his hands behind his back and started pacing like a professor lecturing to a class. “The object of their obsession may shift from time to time, depending on the fangirls and the object’s novelty and other variables. But the intensity remains.”
Buffy had recovered her power of speech. “So you’re thinking that, what, by having control over the band, you can harness that energy to take over the world or something?”
“Exactly!” The demon clapped his flippers together and beamed at her. “All I have to do is cast a spell, and then whenever a fangirl is focused on them, energy will accumulate. It won’t be long before I have enough to wrap the entire world in a web of my own power! Think of what a wonderful world I’ll create! A world of dance music and love and peace. And those little pigs-in-a-blanket that they serve at parties!” He paused, then looked at the rescue party sorrowfully. “Such a waste for you to come barging in like this, and so impolite. I was going to return them by morning, and no one would have known the difference until my new world came into being. If only their manage hadn’t walked in just as I arrived.”
“If that’s really what you were after, then why did you pick Infinite? Why not the most popular band, like Super Junior?” Sun Hee asked.
“Or Girls’ Generation?” Jin Ae suggested.
The demon shrugged. “They are my favorite, and I wanted to honor them by allowing them to be the catalyst in my plan. Who can say why one band speaks to my soul and another doesn’t? Love has its reasons, of course, of which reason knows not.”
“Well you aren’t going to cast any spell on them!” Jin Ae stamped her foot, looking even younger than she really was. “We won’t let you!”
She shifted her sword to position and ran straight at the demon. But she hadn’t taken but a few steps before she dropped her sword and started…dancing.
“Of course,” Buffy groaned, smacking a hand against her forehead. “Of course that would happen.”
Music had started up again, a new song now, and though Jin Ae’s face was scrunched up in confusion, she was dancing along to it.
“I’d bet Angel’s soul she does know every move to every dance this calls-itself-a-band has ever done, but I’m thinking that she’s not the one who decided she should dance right now,” Spike said.
“I’m thinking not,” Buffy agreed.
The next moment they were proved right when Sun Hee, who had started forward to help Jin Ae, dropped her sword with a clang and fell into step beside the younger Slayer, dancing in perfect synchronicity.
Buffy and Spike exchanged glances, silently debating whether or not to try it themselves. After all, it wouldn’t do anyone any good if they both ended up dancing, too. Though on the other hand, they couldn’t just stand here doing nothing.
Buffy glanced over her shoulder and saw that Eun Mi, who had hung back through the entire conversation, had her eyes focused very intently on the demon, no doubt working hard to break the spell that held the other Slayers. Spike caught Buffy’s eye, but before he could signal for them to attack or not, she broke out into a run—and seconds later was weaponless, her body moving in the complex motions of a well-choreographed dance.
“If you’re all going to insist on being foolish, I’ll just have to make sure you’re not,” the demon said mournfully, snapping his fingers. She heard a clatter of steel hitting the ground, and suddenly Spike was beside her, dancing too. Under any other circumstances, it would have been hilarious—and Buffy was sure she’d laugh about it a lot later—Spike with his slightly punk look and his absolutely horrified face dancing like a pop idol. But right now she was trying frantically to fight the spell, to regain control over her own body. It just wasn’t working.
“At least Eun Mi’s still free?” she whispered to Spike. But of course that was the wrong thing to say, because seconds later Eun Mi was beside them, too, dancing and with what looked like duct tape over her mouth. The look she threw Buffy made it very clear that she couldn’t do anything magically to help them, either.
It should have been funny: three Slayers, a vampire, and a witch dancing so perfectly in front of a ridiculous demon audience. It should been, but instead it was kind of terrifying. Buffy suddenly had an absolutely horrifying thought: what if they stayed dancing like this forever? She knew they probably wouldn’t—probably he would let them go after he finished his spell and returned the boys to their dorm. But at this moment, with absolutely no control over her own body and its motions, it was all she could think about.
“Now,” the demon said, clapping his hands and turning towards the band against the wall. “Time for our spell. It will take a while, but it won’t hurt a bit. Well, you might die young, aged prematurely by the force of all the emotions focused on you, but won’t it be worth it to live in my world for a while? And yours will be the glory of bringing it all about!” He raised his hands and started chanting and it occurred to Buffy that they wouldn’t be able to stop this from happening. That there was nothing they could do.
“NO!” Jin Ae’s voice was sharp and defiant and cut through the room like one of Sun Hee’s very shiny knives. Fury shone from her face, and though she was still dancing, Buffy could almost see her muscles straining to regain control. “You won’t do this! I won’t let you!”
The demon looked surprised. “Dear girl,” he said. “What could you possibly do to stop me?”
“This!” And with a mighty effort, sweat pouring down her forehead, Jin Ae wrenched herself out of the dance and ran toward him. “The most powerful force in the universe is a fangirl’s emotion! And I’m an Inspirit!”
And the next second she had swept her sword off the floor and in one clean motion, lopped the head right off of the demon.
Before his head had even hit the floor, the music stopped and the rest of the rescue team all collapsed to the floor. Buffy gasped as she righted herself, dizzy with freedom.
“Okay, that was the weirdest victory I’ve ever seen,” she managed to say between sucking in big breaths.
“I can’t argue,” Spike agreed, straightening.
Jin Ae had already hurried over to where the boys were rising, now released from their bondage, and bowed quickly, asking in a frantic voice, “Oppas, are you all right? Is everyone okay?”
The boys all seemed to have perked up when Jin Ae expressed concern for them.
“We’re fine,” one of them said.
“Though it’s a little hot in here, so I think that Myung Soo might have gone a little crazy,” another added, indicating the boy holding the basket-thingie. Sure enough, his eyes were very unfocused and he had a very silly look on his face.
“What is that thing?” Buffy whispered to Spike, pointing at the strange object.
“Bamboo pillow,” he answered. “Haven’t seen once since Thailand.”
“Weird,” Buffy said.
One of the boys—the leader, Jin Ae would explain later—bowed deeply to the rescue team. “Thank you so much for coming to our rescue. We are very grateful.” The rest of the band members echoed his thanks, and Jin Ae beamed widely.
The weird one—Myung Soo—shook his head as though clearing it and turned to Jin Ae. “You were very brave,” he said, and something about his tone and the way that he was looking at Jin Ae made Buffy think she’d left a deep impression on him.
“Well, he’s gone,” Spike muttered to Buffy. “Too bad she doesn’t look interested.”
Sure enough, Jin Ae didn’t seem to have even heard him, too busy flirting with the one Buffy recognized from the car as her ‘bias,’ no matter how longingly Myung Soo stared at her. Sun Hee had joined them now and was talking to the leader, and Eun Mi was looking over the rest of them to make sure that they weren’t hurt.
The others occupied, Spike grabbed Buffy by the elbow and tugged her a distance away.
“What was that, Slayer?”
“What was what?” She’d known this was coming, but she wasn’t going to make it easy for him. She could play obtuse with the best of them.
“You rushing in before we could come up with a plan earlier?” Spike said. “And nearly getting yourself killed—on my sword–out in the hall?”
She looked away from him. “Nothing.”
“Slayer,” he said warningly. “You know you’re not acting like yourself. Getting all skittish like that every time it looks like I might take a hit.”
“I can’t help it!” The words burst out of her before she could stop them, fueled by her fear. “I nearly lost you in Costa Rica! There were so many of them, and we got separated, and that thing skewered you right through the middle, and then they surrounded you and I couldn’t see you to see if you were okay, and if I’d only agreed to call for more backup then—“
“Hey, hey, hey.” His voice was gentle but serious as he cut her off, and he brought his hands up to cup her face in them. His eyes when she finally met them were so full of love that she couldn’t stop a few tears from slipping down her cheeks. They felt strange; she hadn’t cried in a long time. She hadn’t cried even when the other Slayers arrived at the church in Costa Rica and she finally broke through the ring of demons that had separated her from Spike to see him lying on the ground, his eyes closed and his face knotted up in pain. She’d even managed to keep her tears from falling when she’d had to pull that wooden pole (as long as he was tall and as big around as her thigh) out of his torso and he was so brave and didn’t scream even though he must have wanted to. She didn’t cry during the next few weeks when he was healing in a tiny hospital in a village outside of San Jose. She hadn’t cried, but she cried now.
“Buffy. What happened in Central America shook you up, I know that. But, love, I was okay.”
“But you almost weren’t.” The words came out so tiny and sad that she felt even more tears slipping down her cheeks. “That pole was wood, and if it had been just a little bit higher—“
“But it wasn’t.” Now he took her in his arms, pulling her tight against him and pressing his cheek against her hair. This wasn’t like them, showing this kind of tenderness where people could see, but she was so glad he was doing it. She needed him right next to her. “I’ve been torn up a lot in my unlife. All kinds of wounds and pain. Not likely to stop now, am I, fighting on the side of kittens and sunshine? Even you can’t keep the beasties away from me all the time.”
“I can try.”
He laughed softly at her stubbornness, and she felt him kiss the side of her head. “If anyone can do it, it’s you, Slayer. But you know the very worst thing you could do to me? Go haring off and get yourself…” He didn’t say the next word, but Buffy knew what it was anyway: Killed. “Go and get yourself hurt on my account.”
She knew that. She did. Just like she knew that he was fine and here with her and that he was strong and could handle almost anything. But it was the almost that she kept getting snagged on, and it seemed like every time she closed her eyes she was back in Costa Rica and she couldn’t see him or, worse still, she saw too clearly the pole sticking out of his chest. She hated that feeling, that feeling of being so close to losing him and not being able to do anything about it.
“I can’t lose you,” she whispered.
“You’re not going to.” He squeezed her once, then released her. “And if, on the off-chance that you do, you’ll bear it, like you deal with everything. But acting impulsive isn’t going to help.”
“Hey.” He nudged her chin with his fingers. “I’m not telling you, Buffy, I’m asking you. Begging you, all right? Already lost you once, and…” He trailed off, and the look in his eyes was the opposite of the one she’d seen when she walked down the stairs of her house in Sunnydale and he saw her alive again. “And I’m begging you not to make me go through it all again. Unless you have to. Please.”
He was right. She knew that he was right. Most of the time, her emotions made her powerful, but there were times when they ran away with her, and this was one of them. She couldn’t keep acting on her fear for him. She had to trust him, and herself, and their ability to take care of each other. She couldn’t promise him that she wouldn’t put her own life in danger to save his—she did that all the time. But she could promise not to let her fear get the better of her. It might take some time to get those emotions under control, but she had to do it—if she’d learned anything today it was the power of emotions.
“I won’t,” she said.
“That’s my girl. And Slayer?”
“If you tell anyone about the dancing, I’ll off you myself.”
She laughed, the last of her tears dry. “All right, dear.”
They walked over to the rest of the room’s occupants, where they were greeted with more thanks. Spike endured it manfully, though Buffy tossed teasing glances at him. She knew those glances were half-hearted, especially with her cheeks all tear-streaked (first thing she was doing when they got in the car: reapplying her makeup), but his grins told her he appreciated the effort.
“We should get you home now,” Sun Hee was saying to the guys. “Now that we know you’re all right. We’ll call your manager to bring the van for you, but let’s go wait outside.”
The band agreed, and everyone started heading towards the door. Before they reached it, though, the youngest band member burst out, “You must all come to our performance next week! You’ll be our honored guests!”
Buffy looked over at Jin Ae, who was jumping up and down in excitement, totally oblivious to the love-struck looks that Myung Soo was giving her. And then she looked at Spike and the horrified look on his face, as though the suggestion were the worst idea he’d ever heard, and she thought she’d never loved him so much.
“We’d love to,” Buffy laughed.
“And that,” Buffy said, leaning back in her chair to smirk at a scowling Spike before turning her attention back to Dawn and Andrew, who were giggling so hard they were slumped against each other, “is how William the Bloody ended up at a kpop concert. Don’t worry—I took tons of pictures.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/801652.html