- Keystone – Chapter 1/21
- Keystone – 2/21
- Keystone – 3/21
- Keystone – 4/21
- Keystone – 5/21
- Keystone – 6/21
- Keystone – 7/21
- Keystone – 8/21
- Keystone – 9/21
- Keystone – 10/21
- Keystone – 11/21
- Keystone – 12/21
- Keystone – 13/21
- Keystone – 14/21
- Keystone – 15/21
- Keystone – 16/21
- Keystone – 17/21
- Keystone – 18/21
- Keystone – 19/21
- Keystone – 20/21
- Keystone chapter 21/21 and epilogue
Word Count: 46,252 Complete-21 chapters and epilogue
Warning: explicit exsanguination scene
Summary: Sent to retrieve artifacts from another dimension the Slayer and her team become deeply embroiled in a twisted plot that places them in dangerous opposition to the Watcher’s Council.
A/N: AU Adventure. Set within the Grundyverse this story stands alone, a separate endeavor for this community, and although there is humor and romance, the plot is darker than what I usually write to suit our community theme of obstacles. Our poor beloved characters- they’ve certainly got ‘em in spades.
Disclosure: These characters belong to Joss, ME, Fox and anyone affiliated with same. Only Empress and the plot are mine.
The couple walked in companionable silence past the edge of the village, turning by silent consent toward the open desert. The terrain soon flattened and Spike could see the hilly shapes of the sand dunes off in the distance. “We haven’t found anythin’ out here. Do you really feel like patrollin’ anymore, Slayer?”
“I’m exhausted, but I needed to get away from there. That hut and even the village was getting way too rush hour for me. I’m tired of crowds.”
She touched his arm. He promptly stopped, turning to her.
Buffy wished the stars at home were this bright. She could see every detail and sharp plane of Spike’s face. She touched his cheek gently and his expression softened. Always for her.
“I’m sorry about what happened back there Spike, but I’m sure Ian will come around. Willow thinks he’s okay. In fact I bet she’s reading him the riot act right now.”
“Not your fault, pet.” Kissing her palm, he let it drop and shrugged out of his coat. He spread the duster across the soft sand so they could sit down.
Dropping next to her, he said, “You know we have a big problem.”
Her brows knit together. There were so many problems. She was beginning to feel like that guy Sissyfoot. One more and she’d definitely be rolling back down the hill. But if she rolled, everyone else would roll, too, so she kept trying to find footholds to anchor herself. Like being here now with Spike.
She sighed. “Which big problem would that be? I mean next to all these other smaller, more insignificant problems we already have, it couldn’t be that terrible.”
“Harker’s a Council git, Buffy. That means they know about us now.”
She bit her lip. “He won’t tell anyone.” Would he?
“We don’t know that, Sweetling.”
“True. But I refuse to dwell on it now Spike. There’s not much we can do to prevent him from ratting us out if he decides to. That is, if we leave here in one piece. Besides it’s a beautiful night and we’re all alone for the first time since we left Sunnydale. I don’t want to talk about the Council, or this place, or icons or anything else problem-y. Can’t we just be Buffy and Spike for a little while?”
If he had to, he’d run through the desert in daylight to give her a brief respite. “Buffy, I’m sorry for even bringin’ it up. Of course we deserve a break. It’s been a bitch of a trip so far.” He tried for a smile. “Remind me to tell Rupert he needs to rip up the travel brochures. I don’t think they’re ready for the tourist trade.”
She responded by casting a wicked smile toward him and running her finger lightly down his bare arm. “I missed you so much.”
He hesitated for less than a heartbeat before pulling her around to face him. “I missed you too, but I thought you were exhausted,” he murmured, his lips a fraction above hers.
“Suddenly not so much,” she whispered.
That was all he’d been waiting for. Fitting his lips to hers, he wrapped his arms around her, turning and rolling her to the sand before settling his lean body above hers. Shivering slightly, she acquiesced easily, reaching up to cup his pale face with her hands. Gazing into his eyes she could see her own love reflected back as he leaned down to press his lips hard against hers. Moaning lightly, she clutched his back. Her mouth opened to his and everything tilted.
Lydia down shifted and wrenched the steering wheel to the left, forcing her little Sierra into a quiet side street parking spot. She cut the engine, leaving the summer rain drumming softly against the roof as the only sound.
“Rupert, we need to talk.”
This was the first sentence Lydia had directed toward him since they’d locked eyes in the doorway.
Since she overheard the professor say Buffy and Spike were lovers.
He watched pedestrians dodging raindrops for a moment, struggling to find words that would repair the breach. “I’m so very sorry Lydia—”.
She whirled around to face him and he saw the hurt behind her glasses. “How could you keep something like that a secret from me? I’ve let you be privy to everything. I’m trying to help you save the Slayer and yet you don’t even have the decency to tell me something that would compromise my already precarious position even further.”
He winced at her angry tone and tried again. “I –”
Shooting him a dark look, she held up a hand. “I’m not finished yet.” Dropping the hand back to her lap, she shook her head, still trying to wrap it around the concept. “Buffy Summers is sleeping with William the Bloody.”
Her voice rose. “We are So. Very. Very. Screwed. You know how this is going to look if Quentin finds out. We’re working behind his back to save a Slayer who’s screwing around with one of the most notorious vampires in history.”
She struck her palm against the steering wheel. “Damn, it would have to be Spike. I did my Masters thesis on him. Do you know how bad that little tidbit would look to the rest of the Council? I still have some loyal people on my side. If this gets leaked, no one will trust me any longer. You and I will both be pariahs.”
Giles sighed. “Lydia, it isn’t my place to tell anyone. I promised Buffy before we left Sunnydale that no one here would ever learn of her and Spike’s relationship. She’s frantic with worry for Spike.”
“Then how the bloody hell does Simms know?” She narrowed her eyes. “Rupert, you do realize he’ll spill everything and it will get back to the Council. That man jabbers to anyone and everyone within vocal range.” She slapped her forehead. “Dear Lord, I’m the one that hired him. Mark my words, he’ll be our ruination.”
Giles laid a placating hand on top of Lydia’s. “Simms has known since that very first meeting. He was in our hotel room afterwards and accidentally saw Spike and Buffy being amorous in the kitchen.”
“Oh? And whatever were they doing? Going at it on the table? You know I’ve heard olive oil can be a good lubricant.”
Straightening, Giles gazed squarely at her. “I understand all of your concerns Lydia, and I am sorry about the deception, but we’re talking about my Slayer and her personal life. Buffy is an adult and that comment was over the line.”
At her incredulous stare, he lifted his chin. “As much as it pains me to say this, Spike and Buffy love each other deeply. Anyone around them for any length of time can see it. And he’s absolutely devoted to her. You of all people know how solicitous and loyal Spike is toward any woman in his life. As you’re also aware, he’s an incredibly skilled fighter. He’s saved her life countless times. Not just her, but everyone that works with us. I trust him with her and I trust her to make her own decisions.”
He stared out the windshield at the falling rain. “You know what the Council will do to her if they discover any of this.”
“Of course I know what they’ll do.” Grimacing at the picture he’d painted, she added bitterly, “It’s so damn easy for them too. Everyone in service is so very expendable and Slayers most of all.” How many people had she known through the years that weren’t alive any longer? It had to number in the hundreds.
Tiredly, she slumped against the seat and rubbed her eyes. “Rupert, you know I like Buffy, I really do. She’s the only one who has ever had the bollocks to stand up to Quentin and his cronies. Other than you and me that is.”
She watched Giles stare at the rain. It was pouring now and the windows were beginning to fog. He looked so much older than the last time she’d seen him in London. How long had it been? It was a well known fact Watchers aged quickly in the field, and Rupert had been with Buffy for several years. She blew out a breath. “Alright. Fine.”
“All of your arguments in favor of them aside, I can well imagine how the conversation went when she told you,” she said wryly.
He smiled thinly and her lips twitched. “But after all, it’s not like she’s the first Slayer to ever have the predilection. I think they all do it at least once if they live long enough. We’ll continue to play this close to the vest and as far as I know Buffy is not screwing around with the undead. But Rupert, Professor Simms…”
“—Has not spoken a word to anyone and won’t,” he replied firmly. “He’s a romantic, believes Buffy and Spike to be the modern day Romeo and Juliet.”
“God save us from romance,” she muttered.
Giles’ eyes twinkled. “I think you mean ‘thank God for romance’, you’re just having a tough time with the concept at the moment.”
“As are you.” She started the car. “We need to get back on point. What can we do to keep Quentin from discovering we’ve sent that box to Buffy?”
next chapter here
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/304065.html