A bit of seasonal Season 7 from me this time. Unbeta’d, so let me know if you spot any errors. (I’m open to suggestions for the title.)
Genre: Basement!Spike, so I guess… discombobulation?
Word Count: 1914
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine, just the story.
Summary: Basement!Spike emerges to a night all out of order.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Spike exited the basement the school basement with trepidation. He hadn’t been summoned this time, but some part of his muddled brain recalled that when night fell, he’d be wanted upstairs. He’d leave his hole and do… something. Something in the outside world.
He couldn’t remember what he did, exactly. He did know that while he was out there, he was confident and strong. The gibbering shadows and angry phantoms of the basement stayed in their place. Nobody screamed at him. Nothing hurt him.
Spike didn’t like the outside world.
Nonetheless, She would be disappointed in him if he did not keep to the schedule. It was all neatly written down. There were charts. She only wanted to help him.
He’d spent a good twenty minutes arguing with himself — for once no one else joined in — about what to do, once it became clear She wouldn’t appear this night. In the end, fear of Her tongue drove him out of his hole, following a ducked head and hunched shoulder sideways up the steps, still muttering.
Only to stop short once he got into the hallway.
The lights were on.
Spike’s eyes darted this way and that. This wasn’t right. It was out of order.
The school didn’t entirely empty by the evening. There were custodians pushing bins. Teachers grading late. Some brave or ignorant administrators and parents with the few students they could persuade to “get involved”, paradoxically kept alive due to the fastidious nature of the malevolence roiling below them.
Evil didn’t eat where it slept.
And it didn’t light up like a ruddy Doublemeat Palace of a nights.
There were voices down the corridor. High-pitched chirrups and shrieks. Had his ghosts followed him up here? They weren’t supposed to be up here. This was out of order.
But then, so was he. He had arrived uninvited. Naughty boys mustn’t go where they’re not wanted. Miserably, Spike made his way towards the noise. And rounded the corner into a hellscape.
Atop a high dais, a cauldron seethed, belching smoke and spitting foam. A witch chased a princess, threatening to put her into it. An imp cavorted past him, rollicking side-to-side and cackling. Spike shrank back against the wall.
Demons and bogeys of every description milled about, the larger ones calling orders to the smaller. A giant rabbit with a face like a death maw turned its malevolent gaze on him. He had trespassed. He would be punished. Spike sank to a crouch and cowered.
Buffy surveyed the scene calculatingly. So far, everything looked to be in order. Principal Wood seemed to have recruited actual volunteers to take the little kids trick-or-treating, which meant they were sending them off with honor roll students and drama club members, rather than vandals and stoners — although, of course, there was some overlap.
It was hard to believe she was now the supervising adult. It was even harder to believe it had only been five years since she’d been the troublemaking student. Either way, she supposed she’d been involuntarily volunteered.
She didn’t expect anyone to turn into their costumes again — when did she ever face the same crisis twice? — but still, she would never understand why the most popular Hallowe’en costumes in Sunnydale were always monsters. Didn’t people get enough of that every other night of the year?
Maybe that was just her. Maybe for ordinary residents, for whom the creatures that went thump in the night mostly stayed outside their peripheral vision, it was a way putting on a bit of bluster, of telling themselves they weren’t afraid. Humming near the graveyard, her mom used to say. Or something like that.
Being the sort to stride boldly into the graveyard, she’d always preferred costumes that did nothing to remind her of her work.
Her other work.
Right now, despite the hour, she was still on her purported day job, checking off names and directing diminutive traffic. She’d wanted to demur when asked, since it was her night off. (Well, in theory it was night off, but that had only been 50-50 so far.) But, as the newest hire, and one without any actual qualifications for the job, she’d given her best fake cheerleader smile and asked what time she should be there.
She’d shied away from showing up in an actual costume, wanting to avoid the humiliation of possibly being mistaken for one of the teenaged guides. She’d tried to get away without donning any holiday flair either. But Mrs. Maplethorp, the ebullient home economics teacher, (currently wearing a holiday sweater, a pumpkin pin made out of Fimo dough, and giant novelty glasses), wouldn’t hear of her going without, and had promised to bring her something from home.
Novelty glasses considered, it could be worse. Buffy had managed to turn down the fairy wings, pointing out that they might be cumbersome while wrangling youngsters, but had agreed to wear the tiara without more than token protest. It was, after all, the one day a year she could get away with wearing one, and it was cute.
She heard a “Lady Buffy,” and felt a tugging at her arm. Her first instinct was to check that she wasn’t wearing Ethan’s gown. Her second was to reach for a weapon, as she looked into the face of what she was sure was Vnarazin demon. It took her a moment to register the pigtails of the doubtless adorable tot she’d been introduced to earlier.
Maybe these Sunnydale parents had seen more than they let on. Some of them had gone to Sunnydale High during the high-death rate, pre-Buffy days. They were certainly getting too good at costume makeup.
“Lady Buffy,” the child repeated.
“What is it, sweetie?” She bent over to hear better.
“I think that man is scared.” Buffy followed the child’s pointing finger to a huddled figure across the atrium.
For weeks now, she’d been unable to get him to drag his bony carcass out of the school basement, and now here he was crashing another of her school functions. Metaphorically messing up her doilies. Again.
Really, it had been easier when he was 100% evil. She could have just kicked his ass out the door. And if he’d gone fangy, all the nice people would have pretended that PCP caused its users severe temporary facial disfigurement.
Their relationship had become a lot more complicated since then. He no longer wanted to kill her. She no longer wanted to kill him — she only sort of wished she did, sometimes. So now she had to try to inconspicuously herd him back into the school basement. And quickly, before the principal, who happened to be her boss, or any of the other adults started to wonder why a mentally disturbed homeless man/vampire was squatting in the town’s new flagship school.
She set aside her clipboard and absently thanked the little girl.
“Spike.” A female voice cut through the haze of fear.
That was his name. Sometimes. Was it his name today?
That was also his name. He must be one or the other; if not, who would he be? He didn’t dare contemplate that, lest the nothingness swallow him. He looked up. It was Her, wearing a stern face. He quickly averted his eyes to the minions behind Her.
“They’re trick-or-treaters. You don’t belong here, William.”
Stern face, stern voice. He shivered. He had been bad.
“It’s time to go now, William. Back downstairs.”
He saw the stars above Her head, signifying her dominion over earthly beings. By name She commanded him. She didn’t touch him — of course She did not touch him — but pointed him where She wanted him to go. He was perplexed, but he let Her usher him back into the hallway.
She left him after only a handful of paces, indicating by gesture and clearly enunciated words that he should, “go back to the basement. Ok? Basement. And stay there. Don’t come back up tonight. Got it?” Dimly stung by the condescension, he wavered back the way he came.
He was halfway to the staircase door when he heard rapid footsteps in the hall behind him. He spun round to see two creatures coming towards him, one big and one little. The big one didn’t have a heartbeat.
‘He’s not real,’ Spike thought.
The smaller one did have a rapid, frightened patter of a heartbeat. But that was probably an illusion.
This was a festival of tricks. She’d said so.
He stood perfectly still as the duo walked towards him. The larger empty one gave him a nasty grin. He looked away.
The were nearly level with him now. He’d thought he’d gotten away clean when the big one jostled his shoulder as they passed, knocking him back. The act of a swaggering bully, daring the little geek to make something of it.
Spike blinked. It was real. It was there. And it was making off with a little one a third its size. Hardly sporting.
Spike squared his shoulders and turned after them. “I don’t think the elf wants to go with you, mate.”
“Get your own dinner,” the big one snarled, and reached out to grab the small one.
With a roar, Spike seized the big one and flung him away. The empty one who was really there went flying back.
It scrambled to its feet to stare at Spike. Then down the hall it fled, back towards the other goblins. It fled right into the bright shining Her, who with one stroke of judgment, made it fizzle and scatter to the wind.
She’d been bringing a teenage guide’s confiscated katana to the teacher’s lounge to lock it up — QVC or not, it was far too sharp to be part of a samurai costume at a school-sponsored event — when she’d spotted them. And felt the dawning horror as she registered the scene.
A vampire walking away with a child. Spike letting him.
The vampire grabbed for the little boy, and her heart leapt into her throat. She was too far away. If she ran as fast as she could, she’d only be in time to pick up the body when it fell.
And then Spike sprang to life and threw the vampire towards her. When it ran her way, she stepped forward in a fury, and with a single stroke drew the confiscated katana and severed the vampire’s head from its neck.
Quickly sheathing her weapon, she hurried forward to kneel in front of the little boy.
“Are you ok?” She took his hands and rapidly surveyed his arms and neck.
He nodded. “The good monster saved me from the bad monster.”
Buffy had glanced worriedly over at Spike, who was looking even more than usually boggled at the moment, but looked back at this. “There are good and bad monsters?”
“Of course,” the child pronounced with the disdainful certainty of the very young who’d watched years of Sesame Street. “Everybody knows that.”
“Everybody knows that.” Buffy released one of his hands and stood.
The remaining vampire was staring at her in awe.
“Spike?” she asked hesitantly. “Do you know who I am?”
“The Warrior Queen,” Spike breathed in awe.
“Um. Right.” Close enough. “Well, goodnight.”
The Warrior Queen led her elfling away. Spike returned to his basement. As he made his way back through the darkness to his corner, She appeared to him again and honeyed, “Nothing happens on Hallowe’en…,” and vanished.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/422936.html