Well, it looks like today is my day for posting fic. I’d like to thank our gracious moderator, itmustbetuesday, for all the hard work she puts into making seasonal_spuffy such a success. I also thank my betas, spiralleds and married_n_mich for their support and dedication (particularly when I send them twenty page stories the same day I need to post)! There are no words for the depth of my gratitude.
Just one short author’s note: this is set in early BtVS Season 5, right after “Real Me” and “The Replacement.” I wanted to play with Buffy and Spike in that particular time frame.
So, in four parts (and an itty-bitty epilogue), I bring you…
“Trust me, little one. It’s a steal.”
Dawn directed her best I’m-way-cooler-than-you-think-I-am expression at the high school kid who was trying to sell her stuff from his bag. “No way am I going to pay that kind of money for that… that thing you have there.”
“It’s an exact jade replica of a priceless ancient Chinese dragon god.”
“It looks like an ugly green Chihuahua with really short legs.”
“Did you hear the part where I said priceless?”
“Whatever.” She did her hair tossing thing. She saw the older girls do it all the time and knew it gave her just a hint more maturity than the other seventh grade girls. “What did you say your name was again?”
The weird guy sighed. “Andrew. My brother went to school with your sister. Hello! Tucker, remember?”
“Oh, that’s right. The jerk with the teen-eating dogs.”
“That was way over-exaggerated.”
This guy obviously thought she just crawled out of the playpen or something, and didn’t realize that she knew all about the Hellmouthy stuff going on all over the place. He probably had no clue that her sister was a superhero. Dawn arched her eyebrow superiorly. “Why do you think a junior high kid is going to pay you forty dollars. Do you have any idea how many weeks I’d have to save my allowance for that much? Besides, Buffy doesn’t like dogs. Especially ugly green ones.”
“I told you before. It’s a dragon.”
“I’m not buying it.”
“Fine then. I’ll see what else I might have to pique your interest.” He dropped the thing into his bag and dug around deeper. He rejected an old, curved pipe and a set of brass knuckles, finally finding what he seemed to be searching for.
“Aha, here it is! The perfect gift for an older sister, and priced affordably at twenty-five dollars and fifty cents.” He held his hand out, gold glinting in the sunlight.
“A charm bracelet?” Dawn asked. She had to admit, it was a nice idea. She’d never really gotten Buffy anything nice for her birthday. This year she’d decided to start looking and saving early. The fact that this guy had shown up to try and sell his junk here was just a bonus. She could buy it now and forget about it until February. Everyone would be so surprised. She picked it up and studied the little gold pieces hanging from it.”
“Lovely, is it not?”
“Do you always talk like that?” she asked absently, her mind still engaged by the odd piece of jewelry.
“Is this a crossbow?” Dawn asked, lifting one charm with her fingertip.
“Bow and arrow. It’s symbolic of…”
“This one is linked hands. And what is this one, some kind of fish?” She’d never seen a charm bracelet quite like this. It was cool.
Now he took on the superior role. “Oh yes, that. That would be a dolphin. They’re actually considered to be mammals and of very high intelligence. Some noted writers have even documented that they are far superior to man.”
Dawn looked up from the bracelet to study him. “Do you actually believe all this stuff you talk about?”
“Oh, young child. You have much to learn.”
He actually patted her on the head. What a dork.
“How much did you want for this, again?” She was totally not going to let him annoy her. She was far to mature for that.
“Twenty-five fifty? You’ve gotta be kidding with the fifty cent thing.”
“Okay, you’re driving a hard bargain. Make it an even twenty-five and we have a deal.”
Dawn dropped the bracelet into her pocket and shook his hand. “Deal.”
Buffy stood up on her toes to kiss Riley goodbye one more time. She returned his grin and closed the door.
“Good date?” her mother asked from the living room couch.
“Yeah. The usual. Fighting and blood. And later on we’re going to go after some demons and vampires.”
Joyce held out her arm, inviting Buffy to have a seat beside her. “I don’t know how that boy keeps up with you and deals with the things you have to do.”
“This? Slaying?” Buffy shook her head. “Mom, this is nothing compared to the stuff the government was up to. He’s actually seen…”
“I don’t want to know. Really.”
“No, I guess not.” It finally occurred to Buffy that she and her mother were alone in the house. “Where’s Dawn?”
“She had some kind of meeting after school. She was being mysterious about it.”
“Was I ever that dramatic?” Buffy asked. “Don’t answer that.”
The front door opened and Dawn sauntered in, dropping her book bag and her jacket on the floor. On the floor! Buffy would never have gotten away with that, but Mom never seemed to notice any of the stuff Dawn pulled. On that note, her mother got up from the couch and greeted her little sister with a hug. There were comments to “Little Muffin” and talk about snacks in the kitchen, and then they were off. When she was that age, her after school life seemed to always be about the quickest way to get to her room and turn on the radio so that she didn’t have to listen to her parents fighting. She’d never wish that repeated on Dawn, but still – she couldn’t help but to feel a little left out.
“Hey, Buffy?” Oh, so Mom did remember she was still there, even if she was calling out from the kitchen. “Would you mind hanging up Dawn’s coat on your way out? She forgot to.”
She bent over and picked up the Sunnydale Junior High jacket and decided to leave the sleeves inside out. Except it made it hard to figure out which side was up. She found the collar and reached to hang it on the peg by the door when something shiny fell out of the pocket. She absently finished hanging the coat and kicked the book bag over against the wall, all the time while looking at the object glittering up from the floor.
She picked it up. It was a charm bracelet with three large charms and lots of little ones. Stars. It was pretty. Buffy walked toward the kitchen. “Hey, Dawn, what’s this?”
Her sister’s mouth fell open and her eyes widened. “You weren’t supposed to find that!”
“What, did you steal it or something?”
Dawn tried to snatch it away from Buffy. Good thing for slayer reflexes.
“I bought it. Give it to me!”
Oh, now this was going to be fun. Buffy moved it behind her back. “You bought it? Right. Come on and tell us; you have a boyfriend, don’t you?”
“No!” Dawn tried to reach around her, but Buffy was too good at dodging tactics. “Come on, Buffy. Please?”
“Nuh-uh. Not until you fess up about your pretty little bauble.”
“You have a boyfriend, Dawn. What’s his name?”
“He’s not my boyfriend!”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “There really is a guy?”
“Ughhh!” Dawn actually stomped her feet. This was way too funny.
“Look, Mom.” Buffy held the bracelet out for her mother to see. “It’s got a little hand-holdy charm on it. Isn’t that sweet?”
“Give it back!”
“Dawn, don’t yell at your sister.” Mom was really good with the bossy tone. She took it from Buffy. “This looks expensive.”
“It wasn’t,” Dawn protested.
“Are you sure? I think it’s real gold.”
“Just give it back to me, Mom. Please?”
“If you tell me the truth.”
“That’s not fair!” Dawn was in full-tilt whiny tween mode.
“Until you’re about eighteen, I get to decide what’s fair. Where did you get this?”
Dawn glowered at Buffy. She had that evil eye thing down. “I bought it from a guy at school. For her.”
Okay, now that was the last thing Buffy expected to hear. “For me? Why?”
“Since you have to ruin everything, you might as well ruin your birthday present too.”
“Dawn, it’s not my birthday.”
“Not yet, but it will be, and I wanted to get you something nice. For once. I even saved and everything and now you’ve gone and messed it up. I hate you!” Dawn ran out of the room, her feet thudding overhead as she ran up the stairs. Her door slammed.
“See?” Buffy said. “Way dramatic.”
It really was pretty. She almost felt bad about ruining the surprise. Buffy sat back on her bed and touched the bright charms suspended from the gold chain. She would have to make it up to her sister some way. The last thing she expected was a gift from Dawn, especially a nice one that she actually liked. She slid the clasp open and laid it across her wrist. Holding it against her body, she found the loop and closed it, and then held out her arm to admire how it looked against her tan. Nice, very nice.
A tone sounded from the clock downstairs, signaling that it was ten. Time to go. She was supposed to meet Riley at the cemetery. She checked to make sure she had enough stakes. Satisfied, she headed down the stairs and out the door.
The short jog was invigorating and served and a nice warm up for her. Riley was late and it didn’t feel right. He was usually Mr. Dependable, but he’d been acting increasingly erratic lately. She supposed he was pushing to keep up with her, but he really didn’t have to. Whenever she tried to show him that the superpowers didn’t matter to her, he went all closed-faced and started flexing his jaw. As nice as that jaw was, it irritated her. Why couldn’t they just be a nice, normal couple who liked to battle the undead together? Besides, if Riley couldn’t help her fight for some reason, she could always turn to Giles or Willow. And if she needed extra muscle, there was always…
“Slayer. Waiting for me again, were you?”
She wouldn’t turn around. She’d just ignore him and he’d finish with his lame taunts and slink away like the vermin he was.
Except that he seemed to be content with lurking there behind her. Not talking or anything. Not even breathing, because that really wasn’t a vamp thing to do. But he still did it sometimes, and the fact that he wasn’t doing it now was just so he could bother her.
“Did you want something, Spike?”
“So you did hear me! I thought you were standing there, lost in your dream of the castrated farm boy.”
She whirled around. “He’s not,” she hissed, “castrated.”
“Did I hit a sore spot?”
“Hmm,” she mused. “I wonder how castration would work on a vampire. Do severed body parts ever grow back? And what in the world would you ever do with all your spare time?”
Not only didn’t her remarks seem to bother him, he actually smirked and moved closer. “Been thinking about my dangly bits a lot, Slayer?”
“Too bad,” he said. “We could have some fun, you know.”
“Never gonna happen, Spike. Now why don’t you go home.”
He grinned again, and finally backed off. Buffy felt like she could breathe again. Why had she even been holding her breath? “Look around, blondie. I am home. You’re on my turf.”
“All cemeteries are your turf,” she said.
“‘s my crypt.” He motioned to the stone structure next to her.
“No it’s not. I was supposed to meet Riley at…” Her words broke off as she realized he was right. She was at the wrong place, at the wrong crypt. Why in the world had she come here? “Oh, god. He’s probably waiting for me.”
She spun around to run, but was stopped by his hand on her shoulder.
“Where are you going?” he asked. “I could help.”
She drew up her stake, aiming it at his chest. “I’ll tell you when I want your help, and if you touch me again I’ll put us both out of our misery.”
In a flash, his hand had moved to her arm, pushing it out from between them and effectively removing the stake from any place that might cause permanent harm. “Who’s miserable?” he asked.
“Let go, Spike.”
“I’ll let go when you drop the weapon.”
“I’ll drop the stake when you let go.”
“Not ready to die yet.”
“I’m stronger than you.”
“Which is why I’d like to see you drop this bloody thing,” he said. His grip slid closer to her hand and the stake.
She tightened her hold. His hand moved down farther, encircling her wrist, grinding the gold bracelet there into her skin. “Spike,” was all she said before the world faded and everything went black.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/145995.html