And it continues….
Act II, Scene One – Restfield Cemetery
Robin Goodfellow was posing against a tombstone, picking his long needle-like teeth with his equally long nails. This place was definitely more fun than Tir-Na-Nog, he reflected; the inhabitants were so susceptible to his glamour that it was like having his own little mummery, hapless puppets dancing while he conducted the music. The centuries of captivity chafed still, time spent locked away in the faerie realm with no real meat, no real emotion to sate his appetite. But oh, what fun these mortals be! How could he ever have thought to give this up? The puck ran his spindly hands through the shock of green hair he was currently sporting, then smoothed the lines of his deep red tunic. It was time to meet his protagonists, and what a pair they were – blonde, noble, comely and stubborn. Robin suppressed a chuckle. These two were more Oberon and Titania than his king and queen had been for decades.
Buffy moved at a brisk pace through the graveyard, senses alert for the slightest sign of demonic high jinks. She was hoping to make this quick, ever since Willow had called her inviting her to the handfasting the two witches had planned. It was so romantic, she thought, the star-cross’d lovers pledging themselves to one another. She hoped she’d dressed well enough for the occasion, deciding upon a flowing white chiffon shirt and an ankle-length deep blue suede skirt. She wondered idly what her friends would be wearing for their ceremony, only to be jerked from her imagination by the sense of being watched.
He’d waited for her to come to him, determined not to show his weakness for her, and as she approached he stepped from the shadows, long black leather duster flaring like a cloak about his legs. The moonlight slashed across his face, accentuating the sharp angles and curving hollows of his cheek and jaw, yet concealing his hooded eyes, allowing only the tiniest glitter of sapphire to escape their depths.
“Evening, pet,” Spike greeted her, his low voice as rich as chocolate and infinitely more sinful. Buffy’s guard dropped when she saw the vampire emerge, tiny little hands going to her hips in the defiantly bored stance which had become a habit around this particular thorn in her side.
“Spike,” she acknowledged. “So not in the mood to do this. I’ll just be going.”
In a second, he’d stalked swiftly to her side, his hand catching her round the waist and pulling her close, preventing her from disappearing.
“Not so fast, love. We’ve unfinished business,” he murmured through her blonde hair. Buffy twisted like quicksilver in his grip, slithering from his arms before her body betrayed her.
“Oh, you think? The only business we have is my kicking your ass for taking up with that bimbo Harmony as soon as Willow’s spell broke. Oh, and yeah, for everything you did to me while we were under the same spell. I mean…Harmony? But I hear she’s ditched you to set up shop on her own. Wow, you must be a real loser for Harmony to dump you,” the Slayer ranted, cursing herself for her slip. She hadn’t intended to let Spike know that dumping her for Harmony had stung.
Spike’s temper, never far from the surface, roared into being. The bint was having a go at him? When she’d spat in revulsion at the thought of his lips on hers? She had some bloody nerve.
“Oh, like you didn’t run off to play with the soldier boy without a backward glance? That poor lad must wonder whether he’s coming or going, with you playing him so hot and cold. Has he had his chance to get between those taut, limber thighs yet?” He lashed out.
Buffy burned with embarrassment, her face flushing crimson. It wasn’t just the shame she felt at Spike’s suggestion she was a slut and a tease, it was shame at herself as she heard the truth and hurt in his voice. She had been the first of them to scream in denial and outrage when the illusion of their “engagement” had vanished, and she’d seen the tenderness and care of which the vampire was capable. And oh god, it had felt so right to be with him…. She took a deep breath.
“This fighting isn’t getting us anywhere, Spike. We… we just rip and hack and tear at each other over and over again. We’re crippling each other with this; I know I’m not doing my job as well as I should – not when I spend most nights fighting with you instead of slaying. And you – how can you be happy with this? You’re not that masochistic. Why can’t we stop torturing ourselves?” She passionately threw herself into the argument, committed to all or nothing after the confusion of the last weeks. Spike cupped his hands around her face, drawing her eyes upwards.
“It’s easy, pet. All you have to do is tell me you want me, and I’m yours. Three words, and it’s done,” he bared his heart to her, willing the girl to surrender to her feelings. A crumb, that was all he needed, for now. Buffy’s lower lip trembled enticingly, fear filling her hazel eyes, and he moved closer, all but brushing her mouth with his.
“C’mon, Buffy. It’s not that hard to say,” Spike whispered in the ghost of a kiss. Oh, how she desperately wanted to say what he needed to hear, but memories of Angel cascaded through her mind’s eye, compelling her to judge this vampire by the conduct of the one before. She took one step backwards, and another.
“I can’t, Spike. I can’t let myself do this again. Not after what…” ‘Angel’, the unspoken name hung between them like the abyss itself. “…What happened before with him. I don’t have it in me to survive that again, I’m sorry.”
The blond vampire let his hands drop and closed his eyes, cursing his grandsire for what was neither the first time nor the last. A moment passed, and another.
“So, what’s going on tonight then? You’re all dressed up,” he noted, changing the topic.
“Just going to finish patrol, then I’m off to the woods to meet with Willow and Tara. They’re handfasting tonight,” Buffy informed him, happy to move on. “Want to come with me?” The words slipped out before she had a chance to censor them. ‘Now where did that come from? Asking Spike to be my date?’
“You know what to say if you want the company, kitten,” Spike sighed. Buffy stiffened.
“I don’t deal very well with ultimatums, Spike. Guess I’m going alone,” and with that, she was gone, leaving the vampire wondering if he would ever break free from Willow’s spell and its repercussions.
“Yeah, you run away, little girl. Every time it gets too much, you just run. I’m gonna make you see you won’t be happy until you’re with me,” he vowed.
And lo, it was time for the puck’s entrance. Robin sidled forward and trailed his sharp nails over the marble face of an angel.
“Need a little help, m’lord?” He enquired solicitously. Spike whirled.
“Bloody hell! Where did you come from?” He stomped towards the pixie, who promptly vanished, to reappear on top of a mausoleum.
“Thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander everywhere, swifter than the moon’s sphere,” Robin quoted, congratulating himself on his memory.
“Right. Of course,” Spike smirked. “I’ll give it to you mate, I’ve not seen fey in a long time. What type are you?”
“It matters not, m’lord, suffice to say I have a charm or two that will suit your plans most admirably,” Robin smiled, tapping one finger to his head knowingly. “Shall we adjourn? The players converge upon the stage,” he smirked. Spike sighed, realizing that this was likely another quirk of the Hellmouth. What the hell. He was fresh out of ideas, so he might as well go with it.
In the blink of an eye, he and the ugly little sprite were standing in the undergrowth by a path through the wooded hills surrounding Sunnydale. He was about to reprimand the creature when his ears registered the sound of humans approaching, and with a quick glance at his companion, he hunkered down to watch.
“Listen, Anya, it’s over. We broke up. The only reason I’m here is because you told me Tara and Willow were out here somewhere. Now we can’t find them, so would you just get lost? Go back to Sunnydale or something,” Xander’s exasperated voice carried through the trees.
“Xander, I can’t stop thinking about you. I feel empty when I’m not with you. Please, let me stay? God knows why I feel this way – it’s not like you’re the world’s greatest catch or anything,” the ex-demon groused as they made their way up the path, torches flashing.
“Anya, there is not, nor is there ever going to be, any “us”. Just go away and stop following me.” Inspiration struck, and the young man paused, looking directly at the girl.
“It’s late, it might be dangerous out here. The commando guys could be out here looking for demons, or demons could be out here looking for snacks. Anya, please – go home,” he begged.
“But see, that’s why I’m here,” she said brightly. “We can look after each other. There’s nothing for me back in town, because you’re here, you see.”
Xander’s fists clenched as his patience snapped.
“Listen, either you leave me alone and go back to your place, or I’m just gonna leave you here, have you got that? God help me, I’m getting to the stage where I’m thinking of doing a Blair Witch on you myself!”
Anya grasped at his shirt as he turned to leave, and he shook her off with sufficient force for her to tumble into a bush. Without waiting to see if she was alright, he plunged ahead, deeper into the woods, determined to find Tara. The girl he left behind struggled to her feet, desperation and anger warring for dominance. After a moment’s indecision, she checked her torch and pursued the object of her affections, while the two lurking in the undergrowth observed.
“You say you have a few charms up your sleeve?” Spike asked the puck, who nodded enthusiastically.
“Indeed, m’lord. Particularly a rare, potent love juice, known to affect even the strongest and most unwilling subject,” he grinned. Spike recoiled at the mouth full of jagged fangs, thanking his stars that the little monster was on his side.
“Right, let’s split up then,” he instructed, an idea taking root. “I’ll go after the Slayer, and use this potion to show her that soldier boy’s not the one for her. When she wakes up, she’ll give in to what she wants – yours truly! You go after her little gang of Scoobies, get to Xander and give him some of this – make sure he hooks up with demon girl. Got that?”
Robin gave a flourishing bow, along with another of those disconcerting grins.
“As m’lord commands,” he agreed, starting after the couple and leaving Spike to track down the Slayer.
‘Damn stupid vampire,’ Buffy thought to herself, ducking a long-armed blow from yet another slimy demon. ‘Never around when you need him!’
The pack of unpleasantly slippery beings jumped her at the boundary of the woods and the town, catching her by surprise as she hurried towards the grove Willow had described. The blonde ducked, dodged and kicked, aware that she was rapidly tiring and that if she took many more hits she wasn’t going to make it, but what could she do? She was too far from town to find backup, and she couldn’t very well lead them straight to Willow and Tara. Another kick to the small of her back floored her, and she felt darkness encroach on her vision. She protected herself as best she could, but inevitably the things overwhelmed her, knocking her out and closing in to feed.
“Oi! Get away from her!” Spike was at once terrified and furious. Stupid chit, thinking she could take on that many Kol-raig demons by herself! Drawing on his own monstrous nature, his face rippled as he transformed and he tore into the pack surrounding his helpless girl. He dealt damage and mayhem with his fists, feet and fangs, viciously maiming and mutilating three before they ran off into the night. The blond bent, checking for a steady rhythm in the Slayer’s pulse, and smiling with relief when he heard it. He moved her into a more comfortable position before taking a little vial and moistening her lips. Buffy’s tongue snaked out, licking the concoction.
‘Now, just need to find soldier boy and the fairy,’ he smirked in satisfaction.
“We’ve still got a little time before we can start the ceremony,” Willow said to her lover. “Want to just, I dunno, look at the stars or something?” She smiled shyly.
“Sure,” Tara shrugged gracefully. Looking at Willow in the moonlight made her realise how lucky she was. This beautiful, sweet, powerful witch wanted to bind herself to her! She hugged her knees as shivers stole down her spine. She just hoped that this would be enough to keep them together as she lay back on the blanket, snuggling closer to the woman of her dreams as they both drifted into a light slumber.
Robin snuck into the clearing, cloaking himself with a whispered word from prying eyes in both first and second sight, stealing ever closer to the two young women prone before him. Invisible and noiseless, he used his legerdemain to allow but one drop of his magick-laden liquid to fall into the redhead’s mouth, retiring to a nearby tree to watch the plot unravel. Sure enough, mere minutes passed before the young man and his besotted pursuer happened upon the grove, bickering.
“Why are you still here?” Xander asked Anya irritably.
“I’m scared. This place is dark, and creepy, and I don’t like being alone!” Anya cried piteously. The glare Xander turned upon her was cold.
“I fail to see how that’s my problem, and I’m beginning to think this is all some little prank to get me out here alone. For the last time, Anya, get gone. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if you don’t stop this insanity!” With that last parting threat, Xander stormed off.
Tears rolled down Anya’s face and her sobs echoed through the grove, disturbing Willow, who looked up to see the ex-demon. Scrambling to her feet, the witch ran to Anya’s side and wrapped her arms around her thin frame.
“Oh, don’t cry, don’t cry, sweetie,” she soothed, suddenly swamped with the need to cure the girl’s anguish. Seeing such a beautiful girl in inconsolable anguish was threatening to make her shed her own tears. Willow’s hands were stroking Anya’s back, then turned unbidden into caresses and Anya froze.
“Willow? What are you doing?”
“I’m comforting you,” the redhead explained, pulling back to see Anya’s pretty face, and brushing the girl’s hair behind her ears. How could she have been so blind? Anya was gorgeous, exquisite, unique. What on earth had she seen in Tara that could even begin to compare to the woman she now held in her arms? The handfasting was so very definitely off.
“What about Tara?” Anya hiccupped, her eyes still red.
“What about Tara?” Willow answered, smiling sweetly. “How could I ever want her when you’re around? You’re amazing. You’re so pretty, and funny, and with the whole former-demon thing! Who wouldn’t want you?”
“Are you making fun of me? You are, aren’t you! What have I ever done to you to deserve this? I know Xander won’t even look at me, but this is just… it’s just cruel! If I was still a vengeance demon I’d flay you where you stand for this,” Anya hissed. Bad enough that Xander didn’t want her, but now he, Willow and Tara were ganging up to make her life a misery when she’d worked so hard to fit in. Damn them all! She wasn’t going to stay to be their laughing stock. Taking off at a sprint, Anya ran into the woods with Willow soon chasing behind her, leaving Tara forgotten.
Some time later, the blonde awoke in the grove with a sure sense that something was very wrong, her intuition proving correct when she found herself alone.
“Willow? Willow?” She called. “Willow, where are you?” The comforting quiet of nature began to seem rather menacing now that it was just her. Grabbing a candle, Tara set off in search of her girlfriend, leaving Robin clapping his hands in glee.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/31697.html