Title: The Trouble with Harriet
Disclaimer: All series characters and good stuff belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. I am responsible for some original characters (although I stole names from Hitchcock) as well as the lame dialogue and most of the plot. The idea, of course, is stolen from the classic movie, The Trouble with Harry.
Summary: Buffy really needs a vacation, so when the chance arrives, she takes it, even though with a wandering corpse on the loose it’s almost, but not quite, a busman’s holiday. This is set in my cheerful, AU version of Season 6 where everyone sort of gets along and Spike and Buffy are a couple.
Buffy was so intrigued by the contents of Harriet’s computer that she forgot to check on her companions. She was reminded just after sunset by a powerful roar outside followed by the crunch of gravel. She ran to a front window in time to see two vehicles disappearing in a cloud of dust and gravel. One was a glamorous streak of red; the other was small and dark.
“I’m going to kill him.”
Buffy ran outside, calling for Xander. There was no answer, and she remembered that second cloud of dust heading for the main road. Xander must have realized that Spike was stealing the Ferrari and taken Spike’s bike to give chase. For a half-second, she wondered why he hadn’t taken his own car, which sat purple and motionless by the kitchen door. Maybe the bike was faster.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m going to kill him too, for not waiting for me.”
Buffy spent a few minutes searching frantically for the keys to Harriet’s pickup and finally finding a set under a comic book in the living room. But the pickup refused to accept any of the keys on the ring. Buffy glared at them and noticed they were hanging from a Spiderman keychain that looked vaguely familiar.
A minute later, she was backing Xander’s car down the driveway, only squashing a few flower beds on the way. The gravel drive seemed endless, but at last she emerged onto the paved road, narrowly avoided decapitating the mailbox, and headed for Craftsbury.
The road was dark and Buffy thought it was narrow, but that might just be because she’d always had a certain amount of trouble staying in a lane. Still, she only had to point the car in the right direction and aim it, right? She pushed down on the gas pedal, and the car vibrated under the strain before reluctantly moving faster. The speedometer moved to eighty, then ninety, and she was thinking she was finally getting the hang of things when some kind of warning sign whizzed past and then she was in Craftsbury, trying to follow the gentle curve of the town’s main street while stomping roughly on the brake. The car responded to this treatment by skidding almost sideways.
Buffy had heard people who were in accidents describe the experience as a blur. She wished the same had happened to her, but instead time slowed as it did during a battle, but the car didn’t obey her commands the way weapons did. It just made a screeching noise when she nearly stood on the brake, and the steering wheel began to wobble. She eased her grip when she realized it was about to come off in her hands, and was surprised to find this actually gave her a bit more control.
But not enough. She was still moving down the street at an odd angle, which gave an oncoming car the choice of hitting her or dodging.
It dodged, and as it flew into a large green and white sign, she recognized the Ferrari. And its driver. The roar of the engine merged into the sound of the crash as white, green and red shrapnel flew through the air.
Two seconds later she was out of Xander’s car, which had finally come almost to a stop and rushing for the red car. She couldn’t see Spike, but she could see the remains of the sign he’d hit. The idiot would run into something made of wood. There was a big metal light pole right there, but no. He had to hit the wooden sign next to it..
At first she could find no sign of him in the crumpled mass of aluminum and fiberglass. Why was a car so expensive made of such flimsy material? Had the dashboard been made of wood, or something sensible like plastic? A puff of dust terrified her, but when she yanked what had once been the hood off the passenger compartment, she saw a blond head underneath the remains of the dashboard.
“Spike!” She found an arm and tugged. “Are you all right?”
“Won’t be if you pull me apart. I’m stuck.”
His voice was muffled, so she lost no time removing both steering wheel and dashboard off the wreck and tossing them aside. As he uncurled from the floor, she realized he must have ducked just before impact. Not waiting for him to pull himself out, she removed him from the car with a bit more care than she’d used with the dashboard and tugged him into her arms.
After a frantic kiss, she checked him over and found no serious damage. So she yelled at him. After a minute or so she realized he was yelling back.
“I wasn’t stealing it, Slayer! Ask Portia over there.”
Buffy had no idea who Portia was, but she looked around and saw Charlotte Wiggs stepping around a small crowd of gawkers. “He wasn’t. At least, he was stealing it back for me. Or for Harry.”
“Stealing it back?” Buffy’s eyes found Xander’s. He was standing next to Spike’s motorcycle and staring at the wreck. “You didn’t…”
“Did not!” Xander was indignant. “I was helping too.”
An elderly woman in overalls with short gray hair and a slightly leathery face stepped next to Buffy and nudged her. “Sounds like you and your boyfriends need to work on your communication skills.”
Buffy looked from the woman to the several bits of the sign the Ferrari had demolished. “This wouldn’t be the garden center, would it?”
“And you wouldn’t be Shelly?”
“I would.” Shelly looked from Buffy to the sign. “I’d appreciate being reimbursed for that, but it’s almost worth it.”
Buffy realized the anger in Shelly’s face wasn’t directed at her, but at the remains of the sports car. She pulled Shelly aside to ask a few questions while the crowd pressed forward to admire the wreck with cheerful expressions of distress.
“My car!” The crowd parted eagerly as a vaguely familiar figure ran up to the ditch. “My car is ruined.”
“It wasn’t your car, Jim.” Ms. Wiggs glared at him. “You took it without my permission and these young men were, uh…repossessing it for the estate when Ms. Summers, who was planning to do the same thing, pulled around the curve…um… a little too enthusiastically.”
Jim Rogers turned on Ms. Wiggs. “You stupid bitch! You’re supposed to take care of the estate, not let these losers crash my car.” Tears coursed down his cheeks and his voice became even higher pitched than usual. “Do you know how long I’ve wanted a car like that? Do you have any idea…”
Buffy’s patience left her. “Oh, shut up!”
Jim turned and lunged at her, but suddenly Spike was in the way. Jim gasped and shut up more from lack of air than any effort to obey Buffy. His eyes were huge as he tried to pull away from Spike’s grip on his arm and realized he couldn’t.
My hero. I just hope he doesn’t squeeze hard enough to hurt that idiot and set off his chip.
But either Jim wasn’t human or Spike had gauged the pressure nicely. He leaned forward and sniffed his captive. He grinned, and his canine teeth lengthened slightly. “Look at the little fancy man with fancy suit and his broken fancy car. And what’s that scent? That flowery aftershave didn’t suit, but the new manly stuff is no better.” He let Jim go. “You stink of fear and guilt.”
Jim fell to the ground, scrambled to his feet, and took off in an awkward run, stumbling as he rounded the corner. Someone in the crowd clapped and someone else cheered. Most of the rest shook their heads sadly as they hid smiles.
“Not a popular bloke, our Jim,” commented Spike.
Ms. Wiggs walked up to Buffy. “I was told things got exciting with you around.”
Buffy winced. “Uh, about the car.”
“Insured.” Ms. Wiggs looked thoughtful. “I’ll call a wrecker. I’m more interested in what you’ve found out about Harriet’s death.”
“Oh.” Relief made Buffy’s reply sound too casual. “Well, I think I’ve figured it out, actually.”
Buffy squirmed. “It’s kind of hard to explain. Actually, I was wondering if we could get Arnie and Jim to come to the house tomorrow. And that Sally person. Like in the movies, you know, Murder on the Oreo Express style?”
“There’s cookies?” asked Xander, who had pressed close to listen.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/409520.html