Another chapter – I wonder if I should try posting two chapters at a time in the interest of not taking up space on the comm? Or would that mess things up? Anyone?
Later that night, after a tense dinner with Riley in which she’d ordered him to leave Spike alone and he told her she didn’t own Sunnydale or the vampires that lived there, she went looking for something to take out her anger on. Two cemeteries and several dusted vampires later, she was feeling much better when she ran across a small squad of commandoes surrounding a wrinkled demon who looked much like Spike’s description of his friend.
“Clem?” she asked, shouldering her way through the surprised commandoes.
“Yes,” he said, nodding vigorously. “I’m Clem. Nice to meet you, Buffy.” He eyed the soldiers, now readying a big net and moving closer. “Are you with them?”
“No, I’m not.” She turned on the soldiers. “You guys don’t need this one. He’s harmless – and friendly.”
“What difference does that make?” The man holding the net looked at his men and laughed. “We don’t have one like this. Maggie likes getting new species to work on.”
“He’s not dangerous,” Buffy said, slowly and distinctly. “There’s no reason for you to take him anywhere.”
“Look, blondie,” the man said. “You might be able to tell Finn what to do, but this is my squad and we don’t take orders from college coeds, no matter how tough they think they are.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Clem, why don’t you check out Res—“ She stopped, realizing she would be giving away Spike’s location. “Why don’t you go find a friend to visit for a while? Just till it’s, you know, safe to be out and about.”
“But … you…” Clem looked from Buffy to the burly men glaring at her.
“You know who I am, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah. Everybody knows the Slayer, but Sp— my friend would never forgive me if I ran off and left you by yourself.”
“Trust me. If he was here, he’d be sitting on a tombstone, watching the show. Go. Now.”
While the commandoes’ attention was on Buffy and the way she was settling herself between them and the demon, Clem was able to step away and begin running with surprising speed for someone with his size and build. In no time, he had disappeared into the trees and they could no longer hear or see him. With a furious shout, the squad leader turned on Buffy.
“You stupid bitch! You let him get away!”
“Uh, yeah. Kinda the idea. You know – he’s not dangerous, you shouldn’t capture him? Wasn’t I clear about that?”
“I don’t care if you are Finn’s fuck-buddy, you ever get in my way again, you’re going to find yourself in a cage, lady.”
Buffy’s expression hardened and her voice was low and carried an authority that made all the men step back. “Before you go making threats like that, I think you should talk to Riley and his squad. It might be harder than you think.”
Buffy turned her back to leave, a sense of movement and a swishing noise her only warning that they had cast the net at her. Dropping to the ground, she rolled quickly enough that it hit her on the shoulder and slid off. She continued her roll, coming to her feet and facing them, her expression temporarily freezing them in their tracks.
“Get her!” The man in charge ran at her, forgetting about the net on the ground. His foot tangled in the mesh and he went down, cursing and reaching for his weapon. With one kick, Buffy knocked it out of his hand and into the bushes several feet away. Seeing their leader on the ground, the other three charged her, only to find themselves being flung almost as far away as the weapon. Using their own momentum, and her Slayer strength, Buffy was able to separate them so that she could punch each one quickly and efficiently. Very shortly, the only one left conscious was the one trying to get his foot out of the net.
He glared at her, but climbed to his feet well away from her powerful fists.
“This isn’t over,” he said.
Buffy just shook her head and began to walk off. “Tell that to the guy behind you,” she said, gesturing with her thumb at the newly-risen vampire approaching him. “Maybe he’ll listen to you.”
She left the area, but circled back to make sure the vamp didn’t get lucky and manage to kill one of the groggy commandoes, now all on their feet and reaching for their stakes. As soon as she saw that they were recovered enough to be capable of defending themselves, she began to jog towards Restfield Cemetery.
She got to Spike’s crypt just in time to see him come running out the door with Clem right behind him. The wrinkled demon was armed with a baseball bat, and Spike was carrying a sword. They stopped when they saw Buffy facing them, hands on her hips. “Just where do you think you’re going?”
Spike exchanged looks with Clem and shrugged, dropping the sword’s point to the ground. “So, you’re okay then?”
“Of course I’m okay. What are you – Angel? There were only four of them, and they’re just humans. Little stronger than most, but….”
“They’re a good bit stronger than most,” Spike said, “And you won’t kill humans, so there’s always the chance one of them could’ve got lucky while you were busy trying not to break him.”
Buffy looked back and forth between Clem with his baseball bat, and Spike with the sword he would have been lucky to get one swipe with before his chip incapacitated him. The warmth of gratitude fought with the irritation she felt that they’d thought she needed to be saved. She shook her head and sighed. “Let’s get back inside – just in case they aren’t the only squad out tonight.”
Spike held the door, waiting until she and Clem were both inside before pulling the outer door shut. He grabbed the only lit candle and gestured toward the back of the big room. “Found something,” he said. “Place we can be where the light won’t show outside.”
Buffy watched with curiosity as Clem sat down and slid, disappearing into the floor with a muffled thud. She followed Spike, peering over to stare into the darkness below. “Wha—”
“Trust me, Slayer. Just let me go first, yeah?” Spike turned and dropped into the hole, the candle almost winking out as he did so. Within a few seconds, the light steadied and increased as he obviously lit more candles. “Okay, Slayer. It’s not that far,” Spike said, his voice floating up to meet her. “Come on down. I’ll catch you.”
“Right. You’ll catch me. With broken ribs.”
“The ribs are much better, luv. Just let yourself drop down here.”
She looked over the side and saw it really was only ten feet or so to the floor below, and that Clem and Spike were standing just beneath her.
“Okay. Get out of the way.” Without waiting to see if they’d obeyed, she jumped forward in a small arc and let herself drop through space, bending her knees and landing easily. She straightened up and looked at Spike who had grabbed her arm to steady her. “I’m okay,” she said, smiling to show him she didn’t really mind the hand she had no need of.
“Nice jump, Slayer,” he said, dropping his hand and moving away. “Sorry it’s so primitive down here, but I’ve got plans for it.” He gestured around the large, cave-like room. “Some carpets on the floor, a bed, some other furniture, maybe some drapery on the walls… Could make a right comfy bedroom for a vampire.”
“Where does this go?” Buffy was peering into a dark area that seemed to have no end.
“Don’t know for sure, yet, but I know it goes into the sewers and other tunnels. It should mean I can get around town in the daytime without actually going outside until I get where I’m going. Thought I’d check it out tomorrow. See how far I can go and still find my way home.”
“Couldn’t something nasty find its way right to your bedroom?”
“That’s what I keep telling him,” Clem said. “It’s handy, but not very safe.”
He shrugged. “Can right now, but that’s the first thing I’m going to fix. Here, look.” He tugged her hand and pulled her farther into the dark tunnel. “I don’t think I’m the first one to live here. At one time, there was a gate across here. See where the fencing goes into the walls?”
“Spike, it’s dark in here. I can’t see anything.” He turned golden eyes on her, managing to look contrite in spite of his vampire features.
“Sorry, pet. Forgot you couldn’t see me as well as I can see you. I’ll show you later when I have light down here.”
All three of them turned around and walked back to the candlelit main room. Spike gestured at the hole in the ceiling. “First thing to do is make a ladder or some stairs. Clem’s brother is a carpenter, he’s going to help me build it.”
“Maybe Xander could help… never mind. I guess that’s a stupid idea.”
“Don’t think Harris is quite as accepting of my hanging out with you white hats as Red and the Watcher seem to be,” Spike agreed. “Really can’t imagine his reaction to being asked to help my with my new home.” His eyes grew thoughtful. “Although, if I threatened to move back in with him if he didn’t help me….”
Buffy giggled in spite of herself. “That might do it,” she agreed. “I can’t believe Giles sent you to stay with Xander when Olivia was here. Talk about your Odd Couple.”
“I was a perfect house guest. I don’t know what his problem was,” Spike said, his attempt to look genuinely confused and hurt causing Buffy and Clem to both laugh out loud. When the laughter, which Spike reluctantly joined, had died down, Buffy brought them back to the night’s events.
“Okay, so here’s the deal. Some of these guys aren’t as nice as Riley is. And they don’t seem to care who or what they get in their nets, so until I can get this straightened out—”
“Did they try to capture you?” Every trace of laughter was gone from Spike’s voice.
Buffy shrugged. “I guess so. He said he’d put me in cage if I interfered again, then I told him that might be harder than he thinks and they tried to net me when I was walking away… I guess they almost did, actually.” She smiled at Clem. “I might have been pretty happy to see you guys if they had.” She glanced at Spike, from whose throat a steady snarl was coming. “Although I don’t know what you thought you were going to do with that sword. You know your chip probably would have fired as soon as you even thought about whacking somebody with it.”
“Coulda taken at least one of them down with me,” Spike said, hanging his head at the truth in her words. Buffy looked at his dejected posture and without thinking moved close enough to touch his arm.
“Hey, how about you watch my back against vamps and demons, and let me take care of any bad guys that might give you a headache. Is that a deal?”
“Not if they’re trying to hurt you, it isn’t,” he mumbled, realizing what he’d said when she dropped her hand and stared at him. “I mean, I owe those wankers,” he said quickly. “Don’t care if you think they’re good or bad, I’ll tear their entrails out and feed….” His voice trailed off as Clem shook his head and Buffy sighed.
“Quit while you’re ahead, Spike,” she said, giving him the same sort of light cuff that she’d used at Thanksgiving. He tried to hide a smile as he cleared his throat.
“Right, quitting now… “ He stared at Buffy. “Are you admitting they aren’t quite the white hats you think they are?”
She sighed again. “I don’t know what to think, but if I get a chance to get in there and see what’s going on, I’m going to bring it up. There’s no good reason for them to be capturing or killing anything that isn’t dangerous or evil. I just need to make Professor Walsh understand that and I’m sure it’ll be okay.”
Spike snorted and leaned against the wall to light a cigarette. Clem shrugged and said, “I guess in the meantime I can use the tunnels to get home. Can I borrow a candle, just till I get to the sewers? My eyesight’s good, but it’s not as good in the dark as yours.”
“Sure. Here.” Spike lit an extra candle and handed it to his friend. “Just watch yourself out there for awhile, mate.”
“Likewise,” Clem said, waving as he started into the darkness. “Nice to meet you, Buffy. And thanks for the rescue.”
“You’re welcome, Clem. It was nice to meet you too.” Buffy waved back and watched as he disappeared down the tunnel. She turned back to Spike who was smoking his cigarette and staring at her. “What?”
“Nothing, luv.” He tossed the cigarette to the floor and stepped on it. “Shouldn’t you be heading home to rest up for that test tomorrow?”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” she teased, mentally chastising herself for being flirty with the vampire.
“No,” he said. “Just don’t want to see all my hard work go to waste because you were too sleepy to do a good job tomorrow.”
“Uh huh…” She gave him a doubting look, then frowned. “You are going to stay here after I leave, aren’t you? I don’t want all that blood to go to waste, and you still look like crap – no offense.”
“None taken, luv. Yeah, I’m plannin’ on staying here. Gonna start bringing my stuff down here and work on making it comfy. I won’t need the light after you leave, so I won’t attract any attention. Gonna be out of blood by tomorrow, though, so I’ll have to go out tomorrow night.” He paused, then put on his most casual air as he said, “Might be a good chance to catch you up on some more demon types. If you don’t already have plans….”
Buffy nodded. “’K. I’ll come by on my way to Giles’s and let you know how you did as a tutor.” If either one of them found it strange to be making plans to go out again the next evening, they didn’t mention it. Spike just nodded and offered to toss her up to the floor of the crypt. Buffy eyed the distance and shook her head. “I think I can make it. I might not be able to jump like a vamp, but I can make that one.”
Spike shrugged. “Alright, Slayer. Let me go first then, just in case you need catching.” He flexed his knees and left the ground as if he weighed nothing. He landed lightly on the floor above and turned to grin down at her. “Let’s see you do that, Slayer.”
With a glare, Buffy bent her knees and leapt up, landing on her knees at the edge of the hole. Strong hands had her shoulders and strong arms lifted her away from the opening. When they were safely turned away from the entrance to the lower floor, Spike let her down, holding her in place for a few seconds before dropping his hands to his sides.
“Not too bad for a human,” he said.
“Yeah, well, thanks for the catch. I don’t think I would have fallen back in, but it was nice not to have to worry about it.” She gave him an embarrassed smile, surprised when he seemed as embarrassed as she was. He quickly recovered his usual snark.
“No problem, luv. Couldn’t have you splattering yourself all over my new bedroom, could I?”
Buffy made a face. “On that disgusting note, I think I’ll head back to the dorm and see if I can sleep without dreaming about castles and moats and ghosts and… “ She shook her head. “Good night, Spike.” Buffy moved toward the door, her steps becoming slow and tentative as she turned away from the glow of the lower level and her eyes tried to adjust to the darkness between her and the door. She cursed when she ran into one of the few pieces of furniture Spike had scattered around the big room.
“Here – hold my arm.” Spike was suddenly beside her, taking her hand and laying it atop his forearm. “I can see better than you can.”
They made their way across the open space, pausing when they reached the inner door, by which time Buffy’s eyes had adjusted to the gloom, and she took her hand off his arm.
“Moon’s coming out now. Shouldn’t be hard to see once you get outside.”
Buffy nodded then cocked her head at him. “It’s not like I don’t appreciate this weird new behavior of yours, but this isn’t my first time walking through a cemetery in the dark you know.” She smiled to let him know she wasn’t making fun of him, but he stiffened and drew away. She sighed.I’ve done it again.
“Look, Spike. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it… or… or like it, but it’s just weird, okay? We hate each other. Remember? You’re the evil and annoying vampire and I’m the self-righteous bitch who hits you a lot.”
“Is that who we still are? Cause I’m looking at the girl who took care of an evil and annoying vampire when he needed it. The same girl who backed down armed men to let a demon she’d just met escape from her boyfriend’s mates.” He reached a hand toward her, brushing her cheek and pulling it back before she could object. “I’d like to think we’ve moved beyond hating’ each other. Might not be friends, but….”
“Is that why you were on your way to fry your brain by helping Clem rescue me?”
“Maybe. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to kill one of those wankers.”
“So you weren’t trying to save me?” He growled when he heard the barely contained amusement in her voice.
“You know I was, Slayer.” He growled again. “But if you tell anyone about it, I’ll have to kill you.”
She laughed softly and patted his cheek. “Okay, Big Bad. I won’t tell. I don’t want to ruin your reputation.”
“See that you don’t,” he said, resisting a frightening urge to hold her hand against his face while he kissed her palm. Horrified at himself, he stepped away and opened the door for her. “Out you go, Slayer.”
“Good night, Spike.”
“Good night, luv. Stay safe.” His voice was so low she wasn’t sure she actually heard him, but common sense told her she’d already spent more time with him than she should have in one twenty-four hour period, so she didn’t turn around.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/326540.html