Wow, I never thought this day would come – posting fic to Seasonal Spuffy! But this plot bunny kept dancing on my chest in the middle of the night, so I decided to give it a whirl. Six of ten chapters today, and the rest on my lj when they’re ready.
Thanks to itmustbetuesday for keeping this community going season after season. I can’t even guess at how much excellent fic, artwork, etc. I’ve encountered here. :: blows kisses ::
Title: Fools Rush In
Summary: Buffy accidentally encounters deep transformative magic, with consequences no one could have imagined — except Spike.
Setting: Season 5, post-Intervention
Disclaimer: Per my therapist, “They’re not real, they don’t belong to me, and they never will.”
:: hides Spike in her pocket and makes a shifty-eyed dash for the door ::
Thanks to trepkos , slaymesoftly , alwaysjbj , and my li’l sis Whitney for all of their excellent edits and critique (which is not to say that I have successfully solved all the problems y’all pointed out, but I plan to!).
Chapter 1: A Game Among Friends
“Won’t do it.” Spike stood up so fast his chair hit the floor behind him with a resounding crack. “Don’t know what you’ve been smoking, Red, but you’ve clearly gone ‘round the twist.”
Willow gripped the sleeve of Spike’s duster as he turned to leave the Magic Box.
“Wait! Spike, please. We need you. Buffy needs you. If you would only listen to what Giles has to say—”
“Told you, Witch,” Spike shrugged off Willow’s hand as he headed for the door. “Won’t be dragged into this nonsense. Not for money, smokes, booze, or whatever else is on offer.”
“What about quite possibly saving Buffy’s life?” The Watcher’s matter-of-fact delivery arrested the vampire mid-stride. “And the slayer line in the bargain. Would that constitute sufficient incentive?”
Spike swung back around, his face grim.
“What’re you on about, Rupes?” He turned his gaze to Willow, who flinched at the heat of his glare. “Just a dark-magic parlor trick, Witch said. Limited shelf life. Over in a matter of hours, then right as rain. What you told me, innit, Witch?”
“Well, see, that’s how the spell is designed to work,” said Willow, going for chipper but not quite making it. “But there can be complications, and, um… stuff.” Willow’s hands gesticulated wildly in an attempt to illustrate just what this stuff might be.
“And, well, if certain things happen, or don’t happen, things could get difficult, or maybe unpredictable is a better word, but…” Willow paused, then delivered the rest of her sentence on one rushed breath, “…we really need you to baby-sit Buffy until she’s normal again, Spike, because you’re the only one strong enough to keep her from running off into the demon world and never coming back.”
Spike remained motionless for a moment, unwilling to abandon the dramatic flair of his exit. Then he strode back to the table, righted his chair, and sat down. Placing both palms with exaggerated care on the smooth wood, he looked up at Willow from under fierce brows, hints of gold flickering now behind the blue.
“All right, then. Let’s have it again, from the beginning. The whole story, this time.”
And Willow began to talk.
~ ~ ~ ~
The Magic Box, three hours earlier…
Buffy sighed deeply, restlessly flicking a none-too-clean dusting cloth at an array of crystal balls.
“You okay, Buffy?” Willow looked up from the cash register with a worried frown. “Anything I can do?”
“No, I’m good, Will.” Buffy embarked on her third jittery migration around the store, dusting half-heartedly as she went. “I mean, there’s a hellgod gunning for my sister, and the walls between dimensions might go kablooie and barf all kinds of nasties into our world, and everyone in Sunnydale could end up demon kibble pretty soon, but other than that….” She trailed off for a moment. “Ya know,” she demanded of no one in particular, “why can’t anything interesting ever happen to me?”
Willow paused mid-count, a fat stack of twenties in one hand, and stared at Buffy, who winced under her steady regard.
“Okay, even I know there was something really wrong with what I just said. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word. I meant different. As in different than the major suckage life has been dealing out lately. I need something light, Willow. Something fun.” She frowned. “Does that word even appear in the slayer handbook?”
“Buffy, maybe you should just try and enjoy a day where nothing terrible has happened…yet.” She continued with her counting. “I mean, last week you were all questy and ‘Ooooo, death is my gift.’ And then the Buffybot thing, and can I just say, ewww. And then everybody’s all, ‘gotta find Spike, ‘cause he might give Glory the goods on Dawn.’ Next thing you know there’s sticking of hands into bodies, and Spike all beat to crap. And you know, for most people that would be more than enough excitement, but” — she stole a quick glance at the clock — “fifteen minutes helping out at the Magic Box and you’re jumping out of your skin.”
Buffy flapped her cloth fretfully at a row of leather-bound books, then gave up all pretense of industry and flumped into her usual seat at the Scooby conference table.
“Sorry. I know I’m being kind of a pain. I said I’d help with the store while Anya and Xander are in Vegas, and I will. Be helpful, that is. Really soon.” Buffy exhaled sharply, blowing an errant strand of hair off her face. “Guess I was thinking it would involve a little more magic and a little less dusting of dusty things.”
“… sixty, eighty, three hundred.” Willow finished her count, stuffed the money into a deposit envelope, and sealed it with a lick. “I know you mean well, Buffy, but humdrum details of everyday life? So not your thing.”
“What? No way! I can humdrum with the best of the humdrummers! It’s just, the dustier moments in a slayer’s life are usually on the business end of stake. Not so much with the cleany-uppy part. Can’t I help with something else?”
Closing the cash register, Willow walked over to join Buffy at the table and sat down next to her with a resigned sigh.
“Buffy, it’s okay, really. I know it’s been awful lately. And I only asked you to come down because I thought it might get your mind off things. And Anya was expecting a shipment today, so I was hoping you could help me with the inventory, maybe play around with the cool new magic stuff. But it’s five thirty already, and UPS is a no-show, so…” Willow waved one arm with a flourish, “I officially release you. Am-scray, missy! Go kill something already.”
Buffy brightened at this prospect, then groaned, dropping her head into her hands.
“Damn. I forgot. Dawn’s meeting me here at six. We’re supposed to do pizza and homework, make with the sister bonding. So I’ll just have to keep putting on the happy.”
“Well, pizza can be perky. And, oh! not dusty. Unless it’s from that place on Detmer Street, ‘cause, I went in there once, and let’s just say, they’re not passing the white glove test any time soon.”
“Whatever.” Buffy stood up, dust cloth drooping listlessly from one hand. “Guess I’ll spruce up the shrunken heads before Dawnie gets here.”
The bell on the shop door tinkled and a stout man in a brown uniform elbowed his way inside, shouldering a large package.
“Special delivery,” he announced, pushing his sunglasses up on his head. Then he took a step back as both girls rushed him.
“Ooooo, fun stuff!” crowed Buffy, attempting to wrestle the package out of his grip.
“Whoa, wait a minute, Miss! This sucker’s heavy!”
“Sexist, much?” Rolling her eyes, Buffy secured the prize with a quick twist of her shoulders and carried it triumphantly back to the table.
“She must work out.” The man’s eyes followed Buffy with admiration. “A lot.” He held out a clipboard for Willow’s signature.
“Something like that.” Willow smiled, signed her name, and then shooed the man back out the door.
Buffy had the box open already and was pulling out bags and packages as fast as she could, glancing briefly at each one before tossing it on the table, obviously looking for something.
“Last week I heard Anya telling Xander she ordered a new line of magic party tricks. She said they were really fun. Quirky. Are these them? I don’t see anything that looks like it would be for a party.”
Willow grinned at Buffy’s childlike enthusiasm, and then glanced at the clock.
“Crap! I have to go make the deposit. Buffy, will you be all right here on your own for five, maybe ten minutes, tops?”
Buffy stopped digging momentarily and shot her friend a pointed look.
“Slayer here, Willow. Think I can manage.”
“Oh! Right! ‘Course you can.” Willow grabbed the deposit envelope from behind the counter and hurried to the door. Before she could reach it, it was flung wide, and Dawn effervesced into the room like human soda pop. Pink soda pop. With matching headband and nails.
“Hey guys! How’s it going? Anything new on the agenda? ‘Cause, school was so not with the interesting today.”
“No, nothing new, thank the goddess.” Willow grinned at the bright-eyed teenager. “But listen, Dawnie, I’m just running up to the bank. Can you help Buffy inventory a delivery of magic stuff?”
“No problem! Just call me inventory girl.” Dawn bounced on her feet.
“Um, sure Dawnie.” Then turning back to Buffy, “Back in a flash, Buff. Try to have fun. But don’t open anything until I get back, ‘kay? Just look at the labels and check stuff off the list.”
“Got it, Willow. Hi Dawn.” Buffy’s voice was muffled as she continued to rummage deep in the box.
Willow left, shop door tinkling in her wake. Dawn headed for the table, sitting down just as Buffy emerged from the box with a crow of triumph.
Oh! Oh! I know what this is!” She held up a brightly wrapped tube about four inches long, purple and green paper twisted tightly at each end. “Giles was telling us about these last year, ‘member Dawnie? Christmas cookies or something? No, crackers. ‘Cause they go bang when you pull them. And the best part? Tiny little presents inside! Presents!” Buffy bounced in her chair. “Let’s do one!”
“Buffy, I’m not so sure we should mess around with this stuff. Didn’t Willow tell us not to open anything until she got back?”
“Come on, Dawnie! What could happen? I mean, party tricks, right? And party equals fun. And fun is just what the Slayer ordered. Or the doctor ordered. For the Slayer. Or whatever.”
“But what if—”
Buffy flapped a hand dismissively in Dawn’s direction and gave each end of the small package a firm tug. True to form, it cracked in two with a loud bang, releasing a shower of brilliant green sparks and a sweet, flowery scent.
Buffy energetically shook each end of the tube. Nothing fell out. She looked inside.
“Empty?! No fair! Buffy want present!” She held half of the offending tube to one eye. “Maybe it’s stuck.”
“Buffy?” Dawn’s voice was nervous.
“What a rip off. Let’s try another one.”
“Buffy!” Dawn shouted. The Slayer looked up to see her sister pointing at the ceiling, where a tiny green pellet of light swooped and dipped like an enraged bee. Suddenly it shot down towards the table and began circling the two women.
“What is that?” Dawn sounded panicky now.
“Um, Tinkerbelle?” Buffy suggested.
The pellet’s trajectory grew tighter and tighter, closing in around them until suddenly, with no warning, it flew straight at Buffy, striking her between the eyes and disappearing under her skin with a quiet “pop”. Buffy went rigid, then fell backwards with a crash. Dawn was still screaming as Willow came rushing through the shop door.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/154825.html