Not Quite the Fireworks I Was Expecting

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Medium: Fic
Title: Not Quite the Fireworks I Was Expecting
Timeline: Post-Chosen, loosely AtS Season 5
Rating: PG-13 for Spike-style swearing
Summary: That bad jazz is awfully familiar, and who could forget that ear-searing red silk suit? Of course, the consummate consumer of melodrama has just popped by Spike’s dingy room for a friendly chat….
A/N: I am so excited to be writing for Seasonal Spuffy, my first home in the Buffy fandom and always always an exciting challenge for me! I tried to stick with the theme this time through, just for a challenge. Thanks, mods, for sneaking me on to the calendar at the last minute and running such a tight ship!

Also, this is my first-ever adventure off of lj and onto Dreamwidth… If you catch me doing something idiotic, boy I’d appreciate the high sign!

Not much of a place, but it’s better than nothing, ‘specially now they got the telly working. Who knew Peaches-and-Co. would have a decent video library? With any luck at all, he’s pissed them all off just enough that nobody’ll catch him watching The Notebook.

Now, the dvd player? Still not quite up to scratch. Maybe a gentle thump’ll get it in gear. Well, something’s happening, but that fanfare never came from 20th-Century Fox. Can sense it, too, something at his back. Old. Strong. Smells… just a bit familiar. Oh, fucking hell. “Not you again.”

What’s-his-face – you think it would stick out in a fellow’s mind but hell if he can remember Lord of the Dance over there’s right name – grins. “Demons demons everywhere and still I’m memorable?” A mock-modest flourish of one claw. “How nice.”

“Yeah, well,” Spike mutters. Fine, so he’s not feeling too clever just at present. That’s what you get, pop into existence in a fellow’s Lay-z-boy without so much as a warning. Mr. Song-and-Dance is still grinning at him expectantly. “Fine. Don’t suppose you’d tell me who charmed you up this time. More than half a chance I’ll go fetch ‘em for you if it’ll get you the hell outta my house.”

“Tsk tsk. I have it on good authority that you’re one of the good guys.” He springs up from the recliner with a bunch of shucking and shuffling that is clearly intended to impress. Not a patch on what Spike’s seen at the Apollo. Must show on his face, because the demon’s smile grows teeth. “Still, I’m so glad you asked.”

If this conversation grows one more goddamn dramatic pause…. “Course you are,” Spike sighs. Just this once, maybe he wouldn’t mind Peaches checkin’ up on him. Must be some way to get rid of this thing.

“No one summoned me. Not this time.” Another damn pause. “Well? Aren’t you dying to know?”

“Oh, ha ha.” The Music Man’s still looking at him expectantly. “You’re the bloody storyteller.”

“No such thing as a good audience these days,” the demon sighs. “Fine, fine. The setting is the City of Angels, but definitely not Hollywood. In a dingy little room sits a dingy little vampire…”

“Hey!” Spike protests, but hell, he feels a bit dingy these days.

The demon gives him a pointed look. “You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but this sad sack…” Spike flips the bird, just on principle, “Well, he saved the world.”

“I remember that bit, funny enough. Still waiting for where you come in to all this.”

“Ah.” The demon snaps his fingers and a hat – Christ alive, a real zoot-suit fedora, complete with eye-searing red silk brim – pops into existence just so the sod can doff it. With a flip. Christ. “You’ve got style, friend. That was a spectacular show. Great exit line, by the way.”

And there it is. He’s been carefully Not Thinking About It for, oh, two weeks now – ever since he had fingers to phone with. Never could forget the Nibblet’s number, it seems, even from the great beyond and even if she won’t talk to him… She’d probably, nah, she’s got a good heart, even if she wouldn’t hand over the phone she’d at least tell Buffy… Something flickers at the corner of his vision. Right. Still got an audience. Spike still knows how to get a good glare together, even when he’s fighting against the sudden wrenching in his gut and something that feels suspiciously like his tear ducts.

“I didn’t mean to hit a nerve.” Goddamn thing’s damn near purring. “Fortunately for you, star-crossed lovers fall right in my bailiwick.”

“You leave her out of this.” It’s out before he can even think. Christ, he is a sad sack.

“Easy, mister. You’ll want to hear me out.” Spike snorts, that thing snaps and…. His voice is gone. “Don’t worry about that. You’ll get it back. Now, where was I.” A pause. “Ah. The star-crossed lovers. Now that you’ve come back, well, who knows? One last chance for a happy ending.” The demon laughs, low and mean. “I liked the last chapter, and I just can’t wait for the next. I’ve been watching you – don’t give me that look. It’s in the contract. You can thank your little friend for that. Shame about the missus.” Hell if he’s gonna talk about Anya like that. Ugh. That face… it’s hard, crunchy like an insect against his fist. The demon shakes its head, fast, rubbery like a cartoon, and there’s a new one. “And they say chivalry is dead.” A careless flip of one red claw checks his second swing mid-air. “Simmer down. Now, as I was saying, I’ve been watching and waiting and now I want to see. You’re not going to do it on you own.” Spike draws himself up; the demon waves a careless hand. “Not anytime soon.” A flash of teeth. “And mister, I’m tired of waiting. I’ll bring her here…. Ah, ah, ah. Don’t get too excited. Not for long. Just one song. Trust me, no one will come looking.” The demon’s grin spreads. “Still not convinced? I get it. You’re not ready. You’ve been… I don’t want to say hiding from her. I like your style, buddy. I’ll cut you a deal. Play nice for ten minutes, and you can decide whether she’ll remember it happened. Whaddaya say?”

Still can’t talk, not that it matters. Got nothing to say to this guy that his middle finger can’t say for him.

The damn thing has the guts to chuckle, snaps his fingers. Could’ve lived forever without the sensation of his vocal chords wiggling back to life, thanks all the same. “Not the little mermaid,” Spike snaps, earns another grating chuckle.

“Oh, I don’t know. You certainly do want to be a part of her world.”

“Wouldn’t’ve pegged you for a Disney fan.”

The demon gives a philosophical shrug. “Gotta keep up with the industry.”

That doesn’t bear thinking on. “Get out.”

“You’re a tough customer. What’s it gonna take? You worried, loverboy? I won’t put a single scratch on her.”

“Not exactly helping.”

“Come on. You’ve been around long enough to know the rules.” Another snap, and there’s a big shining contract floating between them. “I won’t touch a hair on her dear little head.”

Goddammit. He’s not considering this. He isn’t. Well… The odds that this idiot will bring his roadshow to Buffy, maybe in a less friendly form… Last thing he needs, really. Last thing she needs. “I need a pen,” Spike sighs. The dancing demon lets out a drawn-out, joyous-sounding, and if he’s to be honest, fairly impressive jazz-baby scat, smoothly sliding over with the pen.

Damn if he’s gonna put his reading glasses on in front of the Music Man. Still, worth reading this over careful and slow. He does know the rules. “Just one little amendment, mate….”

“Hmmmmmm,” the demon mutters, peering at the paper. “‘The Slayer is never to be harmed or influenced, directly or indirectly.’ You do know….”

“That you’ll have to stay the hell away from her and probably everyone else, too, long as she lives? Yeah. Only question is, how curious are you?”

Finally, finally, Arthur Murray there looks pissed, but takes the pen. “Just about that curious.”

He signs and… It’ll do her good, do ‘em all good in the long run. Nobody needs this particular brand of trouble again. Plus, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Might hurt him, yeah, but what else is new.

It’s over now, anyhow. The contact winks back wherever to whatever hell it came from before he can lift the damn pen up off the paper, and just like that, the dancing demon’s melted back into the shadows. Gotta admit he’s impressed. Hard to find much to melt into. This place isn’t what you’d call spacious.

And…. There she is. He kind of thought he’d have a moment to… Steel himself? Prepare? Something like that. Maybe this is that moment. The silence is too heavy – a rest, maybe, a pause. You can smell the beginning of an overture.

She turns, and his shriveled old heart tries to follow suit. Looking skinny still, but not as bone-tired as she had last time he saw her. Best not to think about that. Focus on the here and now, the breathing, moving reality of her.

And there’s that damn music. He signed up for this, yeah, din of horns and drums and of course she’s hauling back to punch him…

It never lands. He lets his muscles uncoil because she’s… She’s reaching out like she’s gonna caress him and since when has that ever been in her playbook…

It isn’t now, either. The music’s a bloody din, and she’s struggling with it, shifting between violence and pleading, fists stretching out to reach and implore. It’s a tango for one and he’s just standing there at the center of it. Course even now, spell and all, he can’t get words out of her. Oh no. Just this, same as always. Leashed violence, repressed longing…. That’s his girl. Well. That’s the girl. If this isn’t proof that she’s not so much his…

Except the music’s slowing, quieting…. Lots of strings now, but still strong. Damn near sounds like an opera, one of those Germanic ones with all of the blood. She drifting closer, closer, and suddenly he’s afraid to move, afraid to breathe and then she’s up against him, face tucked right into his shoulder, favoring him with a one-armed hug and what the hell’s he thinking, of course she’s gonna startle back the moment he puts an arm around to but he wanted… He wants…

“I miss you, Spike,” she whispers, two steps back now, a graceful half-turn and her back’s to him even as her hand reaches out behind her, fingers trailing through thin air. And then just like that, she’s gone.

The lights in his apartment go up and there’s Ol’ Soft Shoe, clapping sarcastically. “Not quite the fireworks I was expecting…”

“Is that your only line?” He’s too tired for this.

“It always seems to apply, with her. That little lady’s quite the showman. She knows a little something about leaving them wanting more.”

He’s too tired to get riled over that one. “Get out.”

One last grating chuckle, and the demon’s dissipating on a wave of hackneyed jazz. Spike’s alone in an empty room, just one-hundred-percent precisely like he was before.


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