Title: What semi-retired champions do on their nights off
Genre: Crossover with Dancing with the Stars
A/N: Follows angearia ’s utterly hilarious His Majesty, the Bug Queen – which I highly recommend if you haven’t read it yet. The relevant bit is that Spike is living with Dawn, Xander and Buffy because he got kicked out of the Bug Ship and is too comfortable to find a place of his own. The mooch.
Beta/Hand-holding: Humongous thank yous to angearia , snickfic and ladyofthelog for cheering me through the writing process, coaching me through my blocks, and offering advice throughout. Emmie, especially, gave me a crash course in writing action sequences and laughed at me while I watched Dancing with the Stars for “research”. She is also half-responsible for this cracktastic verse and some of the funnier lines here.
They tried to call it The Timeshare Couch, but the name was too long and there was only one couch in Dawn and Xander’s living room anyway. Buffy was keeping diurnal hours because of her barista job, so Spike snoozed when she was out in the morning and Buffy slept when Spike was out doing whatever unemployed souled vampires do. In the afternoons and evenings, the couch was perfectly situated for sitting on and watching TV.
Traditionally, if “three weeks in a row” can be called tradition, Buffy and Spike watched Dancing with the Stars on Mondays and Tuesdays while eating popcorn. Ostensibly, their reason was to rag on Harmony’s performances, but Buffy kept a close eye on the outfits and Spike offered way too much commentary on how far the choreography deviated from the classic dance steps.
This week Dawn had a study date and Xander rolled his eyes at the theme music and fled to a bar with his construction buddies, leaving Buffy and Spike to share a big bowl of Orville Redenbacher’s Ultimate Butter Flavor between them.
On the screen, soap star Krystie Marcell and her dance partner Trey executed a perfect East Coast Swing.
“They’re good,” commented Buffy.
“She’s playing Timmy’s transgendered reincarnation on Passions,” Spike told her.
“Oh yes,” smirked Spike. “The show’s gone even more batshit since it moved to DirectTV.”
Trey and Krystie finished off with a dip, to thunderous applause.
“Definitely better than Harmony,” nodded Buffy.
“Travis Barker was better than Harmony,” Spike pointed out.
“Yeah,” Buffy mused. “‘Though Barker wasn’t wearing four inch heels while dancing backwards…”
“I’m sure if he were, he still wouldn’t have fallen on his arse like she did. And you’re taking Harmony’s side. That’s against the rules.”
“Fine,” Buffy groused. “You get custody of the popcorn.”
Spike grinned and dumped more hot sauce into the bowl.
His good mood ended when Johnny Weir and his partner began a slightly unorthodox routine.
“You call that a cha-cha-cha?” Spike almost jumped off the couch, “What’s he doing with his hands – are those jazz hands?!”
Buffy grinned at his outrage. “I suppose you think you can do better.”
“I could dance circles around that marionette.”
He looked at Buffy out of the corner of his eye.
“I’d look a bit daft shimmying by myself on the rug.”
“When’s that ever stopped you from doing anything?”
Spike snorted. “I’m stealing Xander’s beer,” he said while getting up. “You want one?”
“Get me a cider.” She stretched her arms over her head and watched Spike’s ass as he walked to the refrigerator.
He did a shimmy-shake on his way back from the kitchen. Buffy threw her head back and laughed.
After the credits started rolling, Spike got up.
“I should head out,” he said. “The vamps have started to figure out the Slayer watches Dancing with the Stars on Mondays and Tuesdays, so there may be some cleaning up to do.”
“Oh suck,” muttered Buffy. “I should come with you…”
“I’ve got it, pet,” said Spike. “You’re opening shop tomorrow.”
“I guess the sleep is importanto,” Buffy said. “Thank you. For taking care of it.”
Their eyes met for a long moment. Then Spike smiled and nodded.
“As long as you don’t make a habit of skiving off the sacred duty,” he said on his way out. “I’m just doing this as a hobby.”
Buffy’s pillow hit the door as it closed.
On Tuesday they went out hunting. Spike’s contacts directed them to a small community theater that had gone out of business when the economy tanked. The doors and windows on the ground floor were all barred so they entered by a garret on the roof.
The top floor of the building was full of props and scenery backdrops. Spike swore as he tripped over a rolled up canvas. Buffy hissed at him to be quiet.
Spike came close to her and whispered, “Larry said the lair is in the basement. Access is from backstage and a trapdoor on the stage.”
“What’s the number?”
“About twelve vamps. Mostly fledges, but three between five and fifteen years old, and one who’s older.”
Buffy led them out of the storage space and peered over the rafters. Beneath the criss-crossing catwalks and light rigs, the rows of seats stretched across the hall. Spike bit through a rope that reached orchestra-level as it unfurled, and one by one they slid down silently.
With a nod of agreement they took their places. Spike stood on stage near the trap door. Buffy slipped into the wings to find the basement stairs.
They weren’t hard to find, what with the big sign saying “BASEMENT” on the entry. If she concentrated, Buffy could feel the buzz from a dozen vamps somewhere beneath her. She slipped down the stairs softly. Then with a stake in each hand, she burst through the door.
She had about five seconds after the vamps said, “Huh?” before they got their act together and started attacking her. That took care of the four minions playing poker.
The one guy fiddling with a pile of rags growled and rushed her menacingly. Buffy knocked him down with a spinning kick and staked him.
“Why do vamp lairs all smell alike?” Buffy pondered aloud. “Do you, like, use the same air defreshener?”
“Slayer!” cried a startled vampire, “You’re supposed to be home watching your show!”
“Don’t worry,” Buffy reassured him while twirling her stake, “I have a DVR.”
There was a rush as half a dozen minions rushed for the trapdoor. She rolled her eyes as Spike picked them off one by one.
“You know, the vamps back in Sunnydale at least considered there might be a trap, even if they walked right into it.”
“Fledges are a dime a dozen,” said a raspy voiced woman who came to flank the guy who disapproved of Buffy’s viewing habits.
“Even adjusting for inflation,” added a bulky vampire who joined them. Raspy glared at him.
Spike jumped down lightly through the trap. “Someone turned an accountant? Now that’s just sad.”
Raspy growled and faced Spike, while Startled and Bulky went into a fighting stance in front of Buffy.
Buffy lunged toward Bulky, then changed direction midstride and tried to knock Startled off his feet. Startled jumped nimbly as Bulky seized Buffy by the shoulders from behind. Buffy did a split, trying to kick both vamps in the crotch in one go. She hit Bulky and he let her go, but Startled was there to knock her off balance.
Meanwhile, Spike was holding his own with Raspy, dodging the props she threw at him and trying to get close enough to strike a blow. Eventually he lost patience and charged her. Their combined momentum hit a jukebox that started to play A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.
Spike quickly joined Buffy, back-to-back. That let them cover for each other but put them both in a defensive position, fending off the vamps until they got tired enough to slip. Buffy did not approve.
“Toss me!” she told Spike between two wallops at her attackers. They jumped out of her range with almost balletic grace and then darted back in to hit her.
“What?” cried Spike as he warded off Raspy’s jabs.
“Think Jive,” she told him.
Spike shrugged, turned and lifted Buffy by the waist, and threw her at Bulky. She drew up her knees in mid-air and kicked at the vamp’s chest before he had a chance to jump out of range. With a swift plunge of her stake, he was dust.
She hit Startled with a passing blow before going back to help Spike.
“Drop kick!” he shouted at her.
“Got your back!” she shouted back.
Spike immediately fell backward. Buffy caught his falling body and propelled it forward while Spike threw all his strength into a kick that knocked Raspy’s head off her shoulders.
Behind them, Startled growled and leapt toward them with a length of sharpened bamboo.
Spike bent his knee and Buffy used it as a perch to catapult herself over the attacker’s head. She kicked the bamboo free from his grip, grabbed it in mid-air, and spun around to stake him with it.
Instead of dusting like a good little vamp, Startled blinked at the stick protruding from his chest.
“Bamboo isn’t wood, dummy,” said Spike and wrenched the vampire’s head off.
As Buffy waved her hand to clear the dust from the air, she heard a low chuckle.
“Most entertaining, children. I believe this is the moment I declare that I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids,” the speaker stepped out from the shadows. He was out of fang-face, but his brow was ridged and there was a sunken appearance to his jowls that made Spike look like Dudley Dursley.
He continued, “But I shan’t!” Then he stepped into a dumb-waiter shaft and leapt. Moments later they heard his footsteps on the rafters two floors above their heads.
“Fuck! We got us a jumper!” Spike shouted. They turned to go up the trapdoor when they heard a whimper. They exchanged a look, and ran toward the bundle of rags on the ground that was twitching feebly.
It was a girl, early twenties, bound up in a Technicolor Dreamcoat. Her neck wound was fresh.
“Patch her up,” Buffy ordered. “I’m going after him.”
But by the time she got to the roof, the master vampire was bounding across rooftops in the distance. Buffy swore as he disappeared from view.
When she returned to the basement, Spike had helped the young woman to her feet.
“What’s your name, sweetie?” Buffy asked as she drew near them. The woman shook her head.
“She’s more dazed than hurt,” Spike told her. “But she needs patching up. I don’t know of any Urgent Care places around that won’t ask questions.”
“Xander knows enough field medicine,” Buffy replied. “Let’s just take her home.”
With all the fuss over Caitlin, which the woman finally told them was her name, they didn’t get a chance to catch up with the results show until Thursday. Defying all logic, Harmony was voted safe.
“Were you worried about being eliminated?” asked Brooke Burke.
“I was terrified!” Harmony said. “Especially when I got my heel caught in my dress. But Brock saved me with his amazing reflexes and that was soooo impressive that the viewers decided to give us another chance!”
“God knows where he found the reflexes,” Spike muttered. “Boy is probably tranq-ed up to his gills, having to put up with her natter.”
“I can’t believe she’s still in the running after she fell on her ass like that!” said Buffy. “Stupid vamp-groupies calling in to save her.”
“Got to be voter fraud,” Spike insisted. He grabbed a handful of popcorn as Tom Bergeron called for a commercial break.
“Or people really are crazy,” Buffy pouted. “She was just like this at school, you know. Her hair-dresser messed up this one time, and gave her really bad highlights. A week later the school was full of streaky-haired wannabes.”
“While some people were out risking their lives against the likes of, well, me,” Spike tsk-ed. “No accounting for taste.”
“Says the only person in this room who actually dated her,” Buffy pointed out.
“It was a low point in my life, pet. Newly bereft of love and power, taunted by my enemies….”
“Keep that up and people will be calling you more pathetic than me.”
“Whoever called you pathetic?”
“Look at me! It’s a Thursday night and I’m at home watching DVRed reality shows with my creature-of-the-night best friend.”
“Oh, I’ve been upgraded to best friend status?”
“There was a vacancy.” Buffy tried to be glib but her voice caught on the last syllable.
Spike put the TV on mute and turned toward her. Then he waited silently.
Buffy looked up from picking at her finger nails.
“D’you wanna talk about it?”
Buffy sighed. “What’s there to say? Willow’s defriended me.”
“She actually did that? Went on Facebook and defriended you?”
Buffy’s mouth quirked slightly. “Nah, just your regular old-fashioned not-returning-phone-calls. She’s off in Eastern Europe somewhere, researching or hunting artifacts or whatever the pissed-off-Wiccan circuit is doing these days.”
“You think she’s in trouble?” Spike asked.
“No! No. She’s in touch with Xander. And she’s fine talking to Dawn. But when they pass the phone to me, the line mysteriously drops.”
Spike nodded carefully. “Must be the Soviet-era telephone system,” he suggested. “Falling apart without proper maintenance.”
She smiled sadly. “That’s got to be it.”
She gently took the remote from Spike’s hand and turned the sound back on as Tom Bergeron announced the next filler number.
The following Monday, they were back on the couch watching Krystie and Trey doing a waltz.
The judges raved about their performance. “I’m thinking,” said Len Goodman, “that if you maintain that level of technique, you have a strong chance of winning the trophy.”
“It’ll be a cinch,” simpered Krystie. “It’s not like Harmony and Brock are any kind of competition.”
The audience went “Ooooh” and Carrie Ann Inaba added a “Meow”.
“Oh. My. God,” said Buffy.
“Hah!” cried Spike, “I knew the claws would come out soon!”
Tom Bergeron’s smile didn’t falter. “Krystie, no one could ever accuse you of playing your cards too close to your chest.”
Krystie countered, “That’s because I don’t have to worry about falling out of my dress!”
“And it’s time for a commercial break!”
Spike and Buffy stared at the screen in silence.
“That was…” Buffy spluttered, “That’s totally uncalled for!”
“I know,” said Spike, dazed. “I can’t believe they cut to a commercial.”
“She said that about Harmony,” Buffy reminded herself. “Scheming, shallow, back-stabbing Harmony who made my life twenty times more complicated than a ditz like her should be able to! We’re okay with that. Right?”
“Right…,” Spike said, carefully.
“On the other hand,” said Buffy, “that preening soap-starlet needs a major smackdown.”
Spike asked, “You want to call in your vote?”
“Gimme the phone!” demanded Buffy. “That bitch is going down.”
When Buffy came home from her shift the next day, she had to knock on the door with her foot because her arms were full of entertainment magazines.
“There is,” she announced to Dawn when she answered the door, “a History between Harmony and Krystie.”
“I know,” said Dawn with an eye-roll. “Spike’s been reading out loud from TMZ all afternoon.”
“Love, you have to see this clip!” Spike called out from the couch. “Someone took a cell phone video of them having a catfight in a club last week.”
Buffy rushed to stand behind the couch and watch over his shoulder.
“Krystie picked a fight with a vampire?” Buffy asked. “Is she crazy?”
“That’s how this whole kerfluffle began,” Spike told her. “Krystie claims Harmony isn’t actually a vampire, and the fangs and wrinklies are all special effects.”
“I’m thinking that’s something Harmony can easily disprove,” Buffy muttered. Except the tiny pixilated Harmony was sticking to nervous defensive moves and calling out to her bodyguards.
“Harmony’s media contracts have a non-violence clause.” That provoked a snort from Buffy. “The only biting she’s allowed to do is under controlled conditions for her show. Same goes for excessive force.”
“So Harmony’s practicing restraint? Wow, they must really be paying her the big bucks.”
“Guess working under Angel’s no-human-blood policy taught her some self-control.” Spike immediately winced and checked Buffy’s reaction to his mention of He Who Must Not Be Named, but her face was carefully blank.
“So,” he cleared his throat, “those magazines?”
“Oh, yeah!” Buffy said and jumped into the seat next to him. “Rita from the morning shift told me the Harmony-Krystie thing had been going on for a while, so I picked up some back issues for, um, research. I forgot about the internet.”
“Easy to forget, since you don’t have a computer,” Spike said.
“Neither do you,” Dawn pointed out, “and I’ll be taking that laptop back after dinner.”
Later that evening, Xander watched Buffy and Spike watch the show.
“It’s not that I don’t think you’re being ridiculous,” said Xander to the two blond Champions glued to the TV screen, “but it’s good that you guys have found a hobby.”
“Healthy, even,” he added and was immediately shushed.
Dawn looked up from the paper she was typing up at the dining table. “They’re convinced Krystie’s getting eliminated after her cattiness last night. I think they’re delusional.”
“Did you hear about what she said this morning?” said Spike. “She’s accused Harmony of turning Brock to improve his reflexes and wants them disqualified.”
“Wasn’t she accusing Harm of not being a vampire last week?” Xander asked.
“You expect any kind of sense from a C-list floozy like that?” retorted Spike.
“Quiet!” hissed Buffy. “They’re about to announce who’s eliminated!”
Upon a darkened stage, spotlights fell upon Krystie and Trey, and Lisa Kudrow and her partner.
“Lisa and Peter,” Bergeron intoned, “you have been fan favorites for weeks. Will your enthusiastic supporters save you from the chopping block?”
The couple did the standard Nervous Smile routine of the elimination round.
“Krystie and Trey,” Bergeron continued, “your technique and showmanship receive high points, but will the viewers respond negatively to your recent commentary?”
“Just look at her little ‘Who, Me?’ act,” Spike sneered. “If her eyes get any rounder, she’ll look like a concussed sheep.”
The drum roll continued as long as it could without losing viewers.
“Krystie and Trey…Lisa and Peter…the couple who will move on to the final round next week is…”
“Jeez, will you tell us already?” Xander yelled at the screen. Buffy snorted.
“Krystie and Trey!”
“She’s safe!?” Spike shouted. “I’m telling you, it’s voter fraud!”
“No,” said Buffy, “I think people are just plain crazy. And just when I was starting to regain my faith in humanity…”
“We can’t sit around waiting for people to do the right thing,” said Spike.
Dawn suggested to Buffy, “You could ask your coworkers to vote for her.”
“I was thinking more along the lines of threatening every demon with a phone line to call in or die,” said Spike.
“I second that,” said Buffy, “though asking nicely could work too.”
“What we need is a battle plan to help Harmony win.”
“Count me in,” said Xander grimly. “Team Sunnydale is going to war.”
Their campaign to drum up support for Harmony met some unforeseen challenges.
“I can’t threaten to break people’s arms if they don’t vote,” Xander told Spike. “For one, that’s illegal! For two, way to guarantee that people will vote for the wrong team!”
“So what, we’re supposed to beg?” Spike asked. “Wait, yeah. You beg.”
“I keep wanting to make them do drills until they listen,” Buffy admitted. “Then I remember I work for them.”
Dawn asked, “Am I, like, the only person here with any people skills?”
The three people with military tactical experience looked at her sheepishly.
“There are three cornerstones,” Dawn explained, “of a successful public opinion campaign: Sympathy, Solidarity, and Bribery.”
“That what they teach you in Berkeley?”
Dawn ignored Spike. “We need to get people to care about our cause. We need to remind them that our hometown is at the bottom of a sinkhole, all our baby pictures – sniff – are buried under rubble and what not…”
“Dawnie, that’s kind of creepy.”
“And then talk about how someone we went to school with is on Dancing with the Stars, and what a morale boost it would be if she wins the Mirrorball trophy.”
“When did you become an evil mastermind,” Xander asked. Buffy gave him a Duh look.
“Since forever. Oh, and then we give them free t-shirts.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Free t-shirts?” Spike clarified.
“I have a screen design right here!” Dawn held up an ink drawing of a beaming Harmony and a tiny Brock in Promenade Position.
“Uh huh,” said Xander. “And who’s going to pay for a gazillion free t-shirts?”
“Oh we could just make fifteen and hand them out as door prizes.”
Dawn nodded. “For the party we’re going to throw. For the Final results night.”
The others considered this.
“Do we even know enough people to invite to a party?” Buffy asked.
As the last drunken college student lurched out the door, she deemed the party an unmitigated success.
When Spike came back from taking out the pizza cartons, Xander and Dawn had already gone to bed and Buffy was snuggling into her nest on the couch.
“Wash your hands before you open the fridge,” Buffy warned.
“Nag, nag, nag,” he called back. Buffy smirked as she heard the faucet running and the refrigerator door opening.
He brought his warmed blood into the living room and sat on the floor by the couch. He tilted his head back against the cushions.
“Hell of a night.”
“No kidding,” smiled Buffy. “All that crazy maneuvering, and then Johnny Weir wins.”
“I meant the five-ring circus we had running in this room,” said Spike. “What was the final head count?”
“Uh, one Caitlin, three baristas, two linguistic majors – one of them was also a barista, a Brachen demon who does tattoos, four don’t-call-us-Slayers, an electrician and a tower-crane operator. Not to mention the pizza guy who decided to stick around.”
Spike muttered, “Herding a pack of San Francisco’s Diversest to sit still in front of a 21 inch telly in a tiny apartment is harder than it looks.”
“And so you thought to bring out the grrr-kitties and growl them into discipline,” Buffy smiled mischievously. “How did that go, Big Bad?”
Spike buried his face in his hands, “Oh god, vamp groupies! Who made them – and why?”
“Your face,” Buffy grinned at the memory “when Dawn’s friend flashed her boob and asked you to sign it?”
“And her face when I asked if I should sign in pig’s blood. “
Buffy dissolved into peals of giggles. Spike decided to not call attention to the adorable snorting noises she made.
“Anyhoo,” Buffy said once she calmed down, “I heard Xander’s crew mention they were getting nervous about after-dark construction. They suspect there’s lurkies and things about, but don’t know what to do about it.”
“They want us to patrol their construction site?”
“Yeah, and some of the men were asking about basic defensive tips. Like how to use a stake and where a Barth demon’s testicles are.”
“You thinking of doing a demo?” Spike asked.
“I’m thinking we could teach a class. Maybe.”
Spike pondered that. “A “self-defense against demons” class. You think people will come?”
Buffy shrugged. “Caitlin will. And people are starting to notice demons. I think someone needs to show them how to protect themselves from the nasty ones – and to not hurt the not-nasty ones.” she added.
Spike nodded slowly. “We could put up fliers in the coffee shop.”
“And call everyone who came to the party,” Buffy suggested. “I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.”
“Not a bad lot,” Spike agreed. He studied Buffy’s face. “You ready to take up the training gauntlet again?”
Buffy sighed. “I think… I think right now I can deal with small things. A place to live, family nearby, patrolling most nights, maybe looking into part-time school. But not the Big Thing. Big Thing needs to stay away.”
“The castles and submarines and jumping out of planes at midnight?”
Buffy shivered, “It doesn’t feel real anymore. It’s like I had a big epic
nightmare and I’m awake now and just want my hot chocolate. But then I feel guilty that I’ve given up on saving the world!”
Spike squeezed her knee through the blankets. “The Big Thing didn’t work. That’s why there’s no more Big Thing. It’s okay to scale back if that’s what’s right for you.”
“But the world save-age…”
“You save the world every day, one stake at a time. That’s all you need to do. There’s others who need to take their turn with averting the apocalypse. And if they need us, they’ll ask.”
“So we can rest?” Buffy asked softly.
“You can rest,” Spike retorted. “Night’s still young for me!”
Buffy smiled at Spike. He bent close and kissed her forehead. Just a peck. Then he got up to make the world safe for feral cats, liquor store fronts and disoriented frat pledges.
“Hey Spike,” Buffy called out as he closed the door, “I heard the BBC has this thing called Dancing On Ice…”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/450038.html