Title: Taking Initiative
Pairings: Buffy&Spike (friendship, not romance so far)
Timeline: BtVS season 4
Rating: PG-13 (in case I missed Spike mouthing off)
Warnings: Spike being evil and vampiric and foul mouthed, first person POV, un-betad, canon typical violence and gore
“What I know is I’ve seen guys dressed like commandos or something running around campus at night now. I’ve asked around the ROTC unit, and they don’t do training maneuvers at night and on campus. And their field gear is different when they do. And when they do night maneuvers, they’re at this base way north of here.”
Spike blinks at me.
“Really, that’s all I’ve found so far. It’s weird and weird often leads to badness, but I don’t do human problems much. So what do you know?”
“You know I went down to LA to try to get my gem back from Grandsire?”
“No, Angel and I broke up and he won’t talk to me.”
“Well he smashed my gem and I was mad so I came back to Sunnyhell to try to kill you. It’s your fault he had it to smash! I was scouting a bit, and I’d found you fighting. Dunno what happened or how I got knocked out really, but I did. Came to in some kind of white cage in with a lot of other white cages with demons in ’em. Mostly vampires.”
“I’m the Slayer. I slay vampires. I don’t stick them in cages. And I don’t have anywhere to put cages even if I wanted to, have you ever seen how tiny a college dorm room is?”
“Dunno, they’re private aren’t they? Could hide lots of things.” He smirks at me. “Anyway, that was about two weeks ago I think. They gave me disgusting bagged blood with drugs in it so I haven’t had a decent meal the whole time. They were careless opening my cage today and I got out. Managed to avoid the sun. Found you. Couldn’t kill you or even touch you and here we are. With a damn truce.”
“Well, you managed to throw me at the start. Let’s try something and make a stop at the butcher for blood.”
“I’m not drinking animal blood!”
“I’m not letting you murder people for blood! One free meal at the butcher, courtesy of me, and then we try a couple small, hopefully painless experiments.”
Spike growls at me, glares at me, tries to stare me down and finally agrees. So I drag him over to Groff’s butcher shop. Most stores in Sunnydale close pretty early. Not Groff’s, they’re open til midnight every night. And since they do their own slaughtering, they stock as many kinds of blood as they do animals. The bunnies are kind of gross. The smoked turkey is delicious. They have chicken with the feet on, and Willow says her Nana won’t buy anything else for her matzoh ball soup. Plus there’s lamb and pig and beef blood. I make sure to check on them most patrols in case a customer attacks. I could not face a world without Groff’s beef chorizo in it. But most of the vampires and demons who shop at Groff’s are fine.
Spike had never been there before. He gawked at the wall of freezers while I grabbed a gallon of blood in 4 frozen quarts (lamb, pork, beef and bison). Paying and getting the good gossip from Mr Cruz took a bit. Had to tell him hi from Willow and Xander, ask after the kids and Ms Groff and Mr Groff the rabbi. And he had to tell me about this thing at his wife’s hair salon. I didn’t bother to introduce Spike and Mr Cruz didn’t ask. And go me, I remembered to ask if our Thanksgiving turkey was done smoking. It wasn’t, but he said it’d be ready by the 20th, so I could tell Mom. Should buy at least a few good daughter brownie points.
Spike makes it take longer by glaring a lot and trying to whine about frozen blood being useless. I do my best to shut him up while we’re at Groff’s, including a very discreet kick in the shins. Once we’re out, I drag him at top speed to our destination. Home, and the microwave. He bitches the whole way there, until I point out that home is where the microwave is. And that he’s still got a perfectly good invitation to my house. That shuts him up for a good five minutes.
“I thought I’d be off the guest list.”
“But you were really pissed last time you found me there.”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like you. But you’ve never hurt Mom or Dawn, and you’ve never taken advantage of the invite to get at me. And it’s really convenient right now. Trying to get you an invite any place else would be a huge pain.”
Spike looks shocked but shuts up til we reach my house. No car out front, so Mom probably isn’t home. I head for the back door, bang the blood on the island, and fish out a quart to shove in the microwave. Ten minutes at 10% power and a lot of awkward staring on Spike’s part and the blood is thawed and close to body temperature. I pass it to Spike and make him watch as I set the next quart to thaw. He chugs the first quart.
“Can the next one be warmer?” He asks. He looks a lot less murderous, so I guess feeding starving vampires works as well as feeding starving baby sisters does for preventing tantrums. Good to know.
“It’ll take longer, but sure.”
“I don’t think I can drink a whole lot more just now anyway.”
“Ok, you know how to nuke your own at least. So you can chill here for at least until Mom gets home. Now spill. You crashed into me on campus. Is that where you got out?”
“Yeh. I came out of some air grate sort of thing. Not sure which building was nearest, there were about 5 and I ran for the nearest shade since it was broad daylight. Managed to get to a building with a shaded entry, and the doors were unlocked. And I didn’t need an invite to get in. Found a bathroom, hid in there til sundown.”
“You didn’t eat any students?”
“Tried. But you saw how I collapsed when I tried to touch you. With the students I tried it was worse, most of the time I couldn’t get close enough to touch them.”
“Ok. So since you got captured, you haven’t murdered anyone?”
“I can’t swear no one was hurt when I escaped, but I didn’t really stick around for dinner either. I’d had an opening when I first got captured, and sticking around for dinner was what let them catch me again. Wasn’t going to make that mistake twice. And they’d been a lot more careful with me after that, so mostly I ran like hell.”
“Alright. I can’t make any promises right now beyond just me. You know that right?”
“Yeh. But your word tends to be good.”
“I try.” I said. “When you finish with a blood container, rinse it out in the sink, and then put it in the dishwasher. It’s right here. Top rack. Mom will kick both our asses if you don’t.” I show him how to work the dishwasher. Then the microwave dings, so I have him check the blood temperature and I show him where to find the spoons so he can stir to prevent hot spots. This time I make him work the microwave, for a minute on high.
“Now, I need to call Giles and Mom. You can hang out down here, maybe turn on the TV if you want. And you can heat up more blood if you’re still hungry.”
He agrees easily. Yup, hunger induced tantrums are not good for vampire-human relations. I guess the undead aren’t all that different from a bratty sister in some ways.
I could use the phone downstairs, but I’d like to at least slow down vampire eavesdropping. And I want to figure out if Dawn’s home. If she was awake, usually she would have been down at the noise right off. So Mom’s phone it is.
When I check her room, no baby sister. So I flop on Mom’s bed and dial Gile’s apartment. I’d usually drop by after patrol to report, unless it’s late enough that he’s sure to be asleep. And it’s only 12.30 am. Early still. And he answers on the second ring.
“Hi Giles!” I chirped.
“What’s the problem Buffy?” He said.
“It’s just a little problem really, but I kinda had to run home halfway through patrol to deal with it.”
“Buffy…” I can hear him being British at me over the phone.
“Spike. He tried to jump me during patrol, and trying left him collapsed on the ground, screaming in pain.”
Giles yells for a bit about vampires and evil and untrustworthy and how dangerous Spike is.
“No, you don’t get it Giles. It’s not that I’d usually let this slide. But Spike barely managed to attack me once. And that ‘attack’ was more of a bad tackle attempt than a real attack.”
Giles sputters some more. I manage to work out that he’s concerned that Spike is in my house, but he’s pretty incoherent. There’s a reason I do most patrol reports in person.
“He’s had an invite ever since the Acathla thing.”
“WHAT?” Giles yells.
“He came to me then. He wasn’t thrilled with a plan that involved killing off all the ‘Happy Meals on legs’. So he offered me a truce.”
“And he kept it.”
“Yup. Kept Angel from killing you. Kept Dru off me and out of the fight.”
“Doesn’t explain why he has an invitation to your house.”
“We had to negotiate somewhere.”
“All right. So why is he in your house now?”
“It’s not like I have a lot of places to stash him. I’m not sure how invites work on dorm rooms, and if he needs one there he’s not getting it from me without good reason. But he’s got an invite here, and I’m pretty sure he knows stuff. And he’s never hurt Mom or Dawn.”
“Well, I suppose better in your house than here or on campus.”
“Yeah, and I can’t think of any public place on campus with a microwave. Turns out hungry vampires have temper tantrums that make hungry two year olds look nice. Feeding him calmed him down a lot.” I can hear him breathe in so I go on before he can interrupt. “Groff’s Giles. I spent $20 of my allowance on feeding the mean vampire animal blood so I could interrogate him.”
“I suppose that’s fair.”
“And Mom still isn’t home yet. No Dawn either. So I really should call her because surprise vampires are not the way to earn good daughter brownie points.”
“All right. Don’t hesitate to stake him if he misbehaves.”
“I won’t. But as long as toddler tricks keep working, I’d like to get more information out of him. I’ll bug you before patrol tomorrow so you know what’s up.”
I dial the gallery next. Ten rings, no answer. Weird. Mom doesn’t usually go out of town on a school night. I guess I should try Janice’s house, see if Dawn is there? Two rings this time.
“Hi?” Janice said.
“It’s Buffy. Can I talk to your mom?”
“She’s asleep. Dawn and I are working on a school project, so you can’t yell at her. But you can talk to her if you promise to be nice.”
She puts Dawn on and I get a long string of babble about how they’re working on their short stories for English class. Hers is apparently about an Aurora and her battles with terrible monsters. Sounds too much like real life to me. I like fiction for an escape. But Dawn is mid writing so I try to cheer her on.
“It sounds like you can fix that. Axes fix lots of things. Speaking of, I kind of ran into a Mom sort of problem on patrol. Do you know where she is?”
“She left you like six messages. Don’t you ever check your answering machine?”
“It’s voice mail now, and I have to call this weird number to use it. So no.”
“Argh! Learn! Mom had to run down to LA. Short notice on an auction. She’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Ok, I’ll see her then. And you know numbers and I are unmixy things, but I’ll try on the stupid voice mail. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
I hang up the phone and listen. The house is quiet. The dead quiet joke is too obvious, I’ll have to think about a better one. And I know what too quiet means usually and at lunch time for vampires, I’m not betting on a napping Spike. Time to find out what terrible idea he’s come up with.
So I sneak down the stairs, carefully. I don’t know for sure that a bored Spike is worse than a bored Dawn, but I’ve babysat enough to know which way I’m betting. Thirteen vs a hundred thirty? No contest.
No booby traps on the stairs. Haven’t had a vampire try that ever but Dawn did lots. Legos are evil and I’m sure they’re a plot by demons. Living room is empty. TV is off. Dining room is dark.
I find Spike still in the kitchen. The island is covered in stuff from the fridge. Both quarts of blood are out, one is half finished, the other is just sitting there thawing. Pickles, the cucumber kind, 4 different jars of fancy Chinese pickles, Mom’s pickled beets and pickled eggs. No sauerkraut and I guess he didn’t find the kimchee. Yet. Hot sauce. American kind, not the Sriracha. Three kinds of cheese, a custard dish of roasted garlic. A stack of scary looking tupperware. Well, I needed to make sure there was fridge space for the blood supply anyway… But first I need to dig the vampire out of the fridge. Because he’s still in there.
“I’m done on the phone. Are you gonna clean this up?”
“Heard. Was trying out stuff to make the blood less boring.”
“But you don’t need people food. You’re not a people.” Freedom to taunt my worst enemy without risk is awesome, and I can’t resist.
He growls and stays deliberately turned towards the fridge. “I just like it. So I raided the fridge.”
Next thing I know, I’m flat on my back with a vampire howling in pain on top of me. After a minute I try to shove him off, but he’s not moving. “Yes Spike, I see you thought you’d beaten whatever is wrong. But your plan didn’t work so can you please stop screaming in my ear?”
He gradually shuts up and sniffs at my hair.
“Really Spike, this is not comfy.” I shove at his shoulders and try to work at least a leg free. Stupid vampire keeps sniffing my hair.
“I’m comfy, this is a much nicer way to recover.”
“I’m not a mattress. Or your girlfriend. Now off. Or I won’t show you where the good tapes are stashed.”
“Yeah. I have some good martial arts movies. Original Chinese with fan subs.” I’ve gotten a leg free so I try a shove with some more leverage. No dice. “If you help me clean up I’ll get a couple out for you.” I make a mental note to talk to Giles about training for this.
Spike sniffs at my hair a few more times and rolls off me. Then he offers me a hand up.
“You deal with the pickles and hot sauce and blood, I’ll handle the tupperware of grossness.” I head over to the sink with the stack of tupperware and start scraping all the gross down the disposal. “Try not to breathe too much, if it smells this bad to me, your nose will probably hate it.”
From the clinks and soft thuds, it sounds like Spike is actually putting things away. When I turn around, the counter is clear again. I check the fridge and it’s not bad. Definitely space for another blood run.
“Good job.” I eye the microwave clock. I definitely should get to bed soon. “The tapes are in here.” I lead him into the living room and show him my drawer of tapes. “Top is Mom’s, Dawn’s is the bottom. Um, this one and this one I’ve watched a lot. The fight scenes are good.” I hand him two tapes labeled in characters and pinyin. “There’s more in there, but most of them don’t have the English titles written on them. And what’s in there is only about half. Most of them are at school with me.”
Spike looks a bit poleaxed. I make sure to grab the foil before I head up to bed. He settles in on the couch.
I pause before I run upstairs. “I’m gonna sleep in Mom’s room. I’m foiling my windows so my room is safe for you to crash in. No sun accidents. Rewind the tapes when you’re done. You know the drill. And set it back to TV mode when you’re done. Mom gets really mad if she misses taping an episode of Passions or General Hospital.”
He asks where the switch is and where the blank tapes are, so I show him. I guess even vampires have favorite TV shows?
My/Mom’s door wasn’t booby trapped when I got up. My bedroom door was shut tight. No sign of vamp dust on couch. Minimal kitchen mess. Then I saw a clock. Damnit. I ran for class without checking for any more havoc.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/577469.html