I’m sneaking in the final part of “Welcome to the Middle Ages.” I apologize to anyone whose day this is.
-Titles: Welcome to the Middle Ages
-Setting: S6 after “Once More with Feeling” (I have taken a brief liberty with the timeline relating to certain relationships)
-Summary: Buffy goes to a local SCA* event to stop a demon plot to turn Sunnydale into an actual kingdom and runs into Spike instead.
-Disclaimer: Neither the SCA nor the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are mine. I take no credit for any of that – just inspiration. ::grin::
-Author’s Note: The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachrnism. It’s a world wide group that recreates the Middle Ages in modern times. There is a definite hierarchy within the group and, lately, a greater degree of authenticity from when it started in the 60s. For more information go to www.sca.org. As far as I know, there are no actual demons in the SCA. ;)
Part 1 and Part 2 here
Striding into the hall, Spike scanned the gathering crowd dressed in their finest medieval garb for Buffy. The sight of rich fabrics and luxurious furs registered dimly in the back of his brain. Every so often, a jewel that sparkled a bit too brightly to be paste would catch his eye. It was common for the demon members to wear their more authentic pieces to dress events like this. Demons liked to show off and on the rare occasion, a profit could be turned here or there. You never knew when a rare item of power would make an appearance casually disguised as a gaudy brooch or an extravagant necklace. But nothing distracted him from his hunt for the Slayer. Soon, over the din of the musicians tuning up for the dancing, he heard the not so dulcet tones of his quarry arguing with a very gallant Frouyarla demon. He turned in their direction and took in the scene. Chuckling, he realized that the Slayer was being presented with a cloven fruit and dealing with the quaint custom none too delicately. Silently, he moved through the crowd to make his way over to the couple standing in the arched doorway of a decorated alcove.
Dressed in what could only be described as “high fop,” the Frouyarla demon proffered the orange studded with cloves with a hand covered in scales. The scales were repeated on his exposed skin and green antlers protruded from his head. His eyes glowed red, sharpened teeth filled his mouth, yet his voice was soft and gentle as he repeated his explanation to the shocked human before him.
“I will not kiss you!” Buffy exclaimed, just as Spike strolled up to her side. “Spike! Tell him. I don’t go around kissing strange… ers… strangers!”
“But, m’lady,” the demon protested, beside himself with disappointment.
Ignoring Buffy’s demand for the moment, Spike addressed the demon. “What seems to be the problem, Gareth?”
“Ah, good day to you, Sir William. I was just trying to introduce my new friend here to the most pleasant custom of the cloven fruit. Yet she refuses! Perhaps you could explain the custom a little more clearly? I fear in my… eagerness… I wasn’t too clear,” Gareth replied. He returned his attention to Buffy with an alarming leer. “She is most beauteous.”
Buffy bristled visibly and started to draw back her fist. Spike caught the movement and hurried to restrain her. He laughed, nervously. “Ah, no, pet, not a good idea. Forgive her, Gareth. She’s new to the SCA and doesn’t know our little traditions.”
“Tradition? To force a kiss from a total strange…”
“Force? Oh, no, m’lady! Not force… it’s just… the tradition…” Gareth started to explain again.
“Is harmless, pet. Call it an … ice breaker,” Spike jumped in. “Simply a civilized way for interested parties to introduce themselves to the … objects of their affections… or to renew a … deeper… relationship.”
“With fruit?” Buffy questioned, her eyebrow lifting skeptically.
Gareth jumped in, “Exactly! I hand you the fruit, thusly.” And he once again extended the cloven orange. “You accept it and take one of the cloves – with teeth or fingers. And then you…”
Spike hurried to finish the explanation, “… either offer your hand, cheek, or … lips… for the appropriate salutation.”
“You mean a kiss…”
Gareth breathed a sigh of relief as Buffy appeared not to be ready to raise the hue and cry again. “Exactly. A kiss…”
“But you don’t even know my name!”
Spike stepped in, “Since when did you come over all missish?” At her annoyed look he gave in, “Right… Lord Gareth of the Marshes, please meet … Anne of the Summer, new to our society and its ways. There. You’re properly introduced. Satisfied?”
Buffy rolled her eyes at him and accepted the fruit from Gareth’s outstretched hand. She delicately plucked a clove from the orange and extended her hand to Gareth. “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” she muttered.
Gareth’s shoulders slumped a little at the site of her hand extended towards him, he had hoped for her cheek at least, but the hand was better than nothing. With a fantastic flourish of his cape, he gently took his hand in hers, bowed and offered a dry kiss to her knuckles, marveling at the thrill of power he sensed just from that faint touch. When he straightened, he touched his fingers to his brow and looked into the human’s upturned face. Whatever gallantry he had planned to spout off, died on his lips at the look of utter boredom and contempt in her eyes. Instead, he muttered a hurried goodbye and scurried off to a friendlier corner.
Spike watched him go with a bit of sympathy, “Poor bugger. Still. It’s Gareth. He’ll find some new filly to play with.”
Staring at the studded fruit in the palm of her hand, Buffy grimaced at it. “Now what do I do with it?”
Spike leered and touched the tip of his tongue to his teeth, “I could think of a few things, Slayer.”
Buffy shot a quick glance at him. Flushing, she returned to her contemplation of the cloven fruit. “I suppose I could just conveniently leave it on a table…”
“Sorry, love. Not done. You have to keep it or pass it on.”
“And to pass it on I have to have some total stranger kiss me? Again?” She wrinkled her nose at the fruit.
“Doesn’t have to be a total stranger, pet.” Spike moved in to close the distance between them, gently walking her backwards into the alcove until her back bumped gently against the wall.
Buffy looked up at him, her eyes wide as she read the intent in his eyes. He slowly lowered his head to catch her lips with his. She panicked and brought the fruit up between them.
“Fruit?” she stammered.
Spike grinned. “Fruit indeed.” So saying, he straightened and took the offered fruit from her palm.
He examined the orange a bit, turning it slowly, this way and that. He was amazed that she was so skittish, but he watched her carefully under his eyelashes. Buffy watched his hands in return as he played idly with the orange. She was mesmerized.
“Such a small thing,” he said softly, addressing the orange. “Yet it holds such … promise… such… power. And there are so many ways to interpret it. I could simply accept the fruit and kiss your hand.”
He matched his actions to his words, gently raising her hand to his lips. He raised his gaze to hers. Blue eyes pierced hazel as he brushed her knuckles with the lightest of touches.
“So many ways to kiss a hand… the chivalrous brush of the back of the hand.” He kissed her knuckles lightly again, his thumb lightly stroking the top of her fingers.
“A more reverent kiss to the palm…” Buffy drew in a sharp breath as he turned her hand over and touched his lips to her palm. He smiled at her reaction. She felt his lips turning up against her skin.
“Daring…” he breathed as he delicately licked the sensitive center of her palm.
“Sensuous…” Buffy’s gasp became audible as he lightly nibbled his way to the racing pulse in her wrist. She nearly drew away, but he read the thought in her eyes and straightened after a last lingering kiss.
Buffy’s breath came fast as he leaned in. Her mind was jumbled and she couldn’t find words to protest.
“On more intimate acquaintance, the cloven fruit can be an invitation to greater liberties…” he breathed, continuing his instruction.
“A lingering kiss on the cheek…” Buffy jumped slightly when his lips met her cheek. She held her breath as he moved from her right cheek to her left, his breath soft against her mouth.
“And we mustn’t forget the brow… this lovely brow, so smooth, but lately furrowed with worry. No worries for you today, my pet,” he soothed, kissing his way from her cheek to her forehead.
“The ears…” he murmured, tucking her hair away from her face, revealing the pink shell of her ear.
“Ears?” she squeaked.
“Oh yes, the ears… specifically, this soft, tender spot right behind…” He nuzzled that spot as he spoke. Goose-flesh rose on Buffy’s arms at the soft vibrations of his voice, his mouth on her flesh.
“And my favorite place… the crook of your neck… here…” Spike drew a finger along the side of her neck to where her throat met her collarbone. Buffy shivered and then sighed as his mouth followed that finger. She knew she was playing with fire, but the sensations he was raising in her were more than anything she had felt since… since… She lost her train of thought completely as he sucked gently. Her eyes fluttered closed. Her head tipped back to give him greater access. She moaned at the pleasure. He growled softly in response. His demon roared, demanded to be set free, to drink deeply of the Slayer at its mercy.
Shakily, Spike stepped back and put a few inches of distance between them. He drank in the sight of her, willing, aroused, slightly tousled. It took all of his control not to unleash his demon.
She opened her eyes slowly and searched his face. As though it were his cue, Spike raised the fruit to his mouth and slowly pulled a clove from the orange. He took his time, slowly nibbling the stem of the clove, releasing the cleansing oils into his mouth. His eyes bore into hers, his intent clear. Buffy gulped audibly.
Spike removed the clove from between his teeth, casually tossed the fruit over his shoulder and dragged her into his embrace. This time, he was successful in his quest to claim her lips. Cool lips met warm lips and captured her gasp released in surprise and surrender. He reveled in the sound.
Buffy was assailed by the taste of him. Tobacco, scotch, and clove – they overwhelmed all other thought. Vaguely, she registered the sound of the crowd just beyond the archway. Dimly, she remembered she was supposed to be searching out the truth of a rumor that threatened the existence of Sunnydale. But it all paled to nothing beside the memory of scorching passion from the first kiss, triggered and all but overwhelmed by this embrace. Just for a few moments, once more the world she was ripped back into melted away and she was just a girl, free from responsibility, duty, and care. He gave her this and she welcomed it whole heartedly. She gave herself up to the sensation.
Spike hardly dared to believe his good fortune. It seemed the Powers That Be were finally smiling on him again. That could be the only explanation available for finding a warm and willing Slayer in his arms. Her kitten-like mewlings rang in his ears like laudatory hymns. She returned his tentative caresses with urgent thrusts and caresses of her own. Her hands were everywhere, learning his shape. And he gloried in it.
Willow picked up the discarded orange laying forlornly on the floor. She eyed the item curiously.
“What’s that, Willow?” Tara asked coming up behind her and wrapping her arms around her lover’s waist.
“I don’t know. I found it on the floor, just outside this alcove.”
A low moan issued from beyond the archway.
“What was that?” Willow asked. She started to approach the arch. Lettice stepped in front of her, blocking her passage.
“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing to be concerned about,” she said. “What do you have … Oh!” She gave a delighted little laugh. “Definitely nothing to be worried about. Just a harmless little tradition we have involving cloven fruit and … kissing.”
“Kissing?” Tara eyed the fruit a little closer, frowning slightly. “It’s not a spell is it? I mean, you don’t eat the fruit and then go around randomly kissing people? Do you?”
“Oh! Oh! Is this like a take on the poisoned apple thing in Snow White, only… without the poison and lots of good…” She broke off as a distinctly feminine gasp was followed by a gruff, male growl. “Oh… maybe we should…”
“Yes,” Tara stuttered, “Let’s go look for Buffy. We still don’t have any information about that…” She glanced at Lettice, who returned the look with an amused expression. Tara continued,
“That … thing… you know, Willow. The thing?”
Lettice’s expression never wavered. “You might want to take the orange with you. Oh, don’t worry, it’s nothing magical. Just a quaint little tradition. You see, you trade the cloves studded in the orange for kisses. It’s a way to break the ice…” Another muffled cry of pleasure sounded behind her. “Or instigate other … pleasures,” she finished.
Willow and Tara exchanged a look. They looked at the orange and then at Lettice.
“Run along, my dears,” she chuckled. “You don’t have much time. Go. Have fun.”
Giggling, they ran off with their new treasure, their friend and mission forgotten for a brief while.
Lettice smiled indulgently. The witches were sufficiently occupied. The Slayer… she grinned at the sound of another moan from the alcove… the Slayer was out of commission for a little while. Time enough at least for her to set the rest of the pieces in place and see to the fruition of her plan. It was all coming together so nicely. Plus, she had been able to fulfill a vengeance wish in the bargain. Oh, yes. It was shaping up to be a good…
“Mistress of the Grape, gloating so soon. You shine with your darkness.”
Lettice suppressed a shiver that ran down her spine as Drusilla came into view. “Drusilla.”
The lithe vampire offered her a graceful curtsey. If there was an edge of mockery to it, Lettice ignored it.
“Your wish has been granted, Drusilla. We have no more dealings today,” she pronounced.
“My wish? My wish,” Drusilla mused. “My wish is the moon’s wish. She wants them to dance and twine. The Dark Prince and the Shining One. But their dance will cause him pain. Cause them both pain. Pain will be their music. Oh, yes. My wish.”
Lettice eyed the vampire askance as she tripped away. “As you say.”
“Mistress Lettice, you owe me an explanation.” A male voice rumbled in her ear.
Lettice turned and looked up. “Oh! Your Majesty!” She bobbed a quick curtsey. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I am displeased, Lettice. I have heard some disturbing rumors.”
“Rumors, your Majesty?” Lettice fluttered. “Whatever do you mean?”
“I mean the old rumors that surface now and again about turning Sunnydale into a true feudal state.”
“Oh… those rumors… um… there’s nothing…”
“I know there’s nothing to them. Do you know how I know?”
“I couldn’t say,” Lettice responded faintly. She had a very good idea though that she knew what he meant. Why had she allowed herself to be drawn into this crack-brained scheme anyway?
“Let’s just say, I squashed them. The rumors that is. The parties spreading them have decided to leave Sunnydale. Suddenly. For a long time.”
“Yes. I would suggest that you consider an extended vacation yourself. Starting now.”
Lettice paled. “Yes, your Majesty,” she stuttered. “Of course, I’ll just…”
Lettice glanced at the archway and the rise of voices from the shadows. “But…”
The king followed her gaze. He grinned. “I’ll take care of this little situation as well. Never fear. Now off you go. You have a portal to catch.”
In the shadows of the alcove, Buffy tore her mouth away from Spike’s. “Did you hear that?’ she asked.
Searching her face with kisses, he denied hearing anything. He wanted to recapture the magic of their embrace. He was sure with a little more … coaxing… his Goldilocks would be quite content to find a more secluded spot for their explorations. He nuzzled at her neck.
“Buffy,” he breathed into her ear.
Her knees buckled slightly, but she was distracted enough to resist. She pulled away from him and stepped towards the arch.
“No, Spike. I think I heard… there were two women talking… just outside.” She stepped closer. She gasped. “Drusilla! What’s she doing here?”
The name was like a bucket of ice water to Spike. “Dru?” he exclaimed in hushed tones. “Here? Now? But…”
Buffy turned to look at him. He looked like a guilty schoolboy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The thought chilled her. A little longer and he would have had his hand in her cookie jar. And then a word from outside caught her ear.
“A wish?” she hissed. “This was all because of some stupid vengeance wish? What did you do, Spike? What did you say?”
“Me?” he hissed back, offended. “I didn’t wish anything. I know better than that around Lettice… or any vengeance demon for that matter. Too much can go wrong with wishes.”
“Wait… Lettice is a … a… vengeance demon?” Buffy was flabbergasted. “And what we just did … just here was just part of some… wish? But… why? And how is Drusilla involved? What have you two been cooking up?”
“Cooking up? Me? With Dru? You’ve got it all wrong, pet,” Spike started. He drew up beside her and laid a calming hand on her arm. “I haven’t seen Dru in … well… for almost a year now. Cut her out of m’life. Remember? You were there.”
“Right… you had me chained up,” Buffy replied. Her head tilted to the side. “So not helping your case.” She shrugged his hand from her arm.
“But I had to show you… I … Buffy… I love you. I did then. I do now. More than ever. You’re in my blood.”
“Truth, Slayer,” he responded, letting his annoyance show. “But right, you can’t handle truth.”
“You wouldn’t know truth if it kicked you in your overly peroxided butt!” Buffy retorted.
“Me thinks the lady doth have it right there, Sir William,” a rich male voice interjected from behind her.
Buffy spun and crouched in a fighting stance.
“Give over, Darius. Can’t a man quarrel in peace?” Spike quipped. “You might want to stand down, Buffy. You might not come out on the winning end of fight with this one.”
Buffy got a closer look at the figure in front of her. He was of average height, dressed richly, and looked human enough; still one couldn’t be so sure in Sunnydale. “Who are you?” she demanded, noting irritably that her interlude with Spike – magic caused or not – had definitely thrown her off her normal witty, banterful self.
The man in front of her swept her a majestic bow. Buffy wondered idly if no-one in this group did anything normally.
“Darius, currently of the kingdom of Caid, at your service, m’lady.”
Buffy cocked a skeptical eyebrow. Spike snorted.
“Currently of Caid, indeed. Buffy, this is Darius, his Majesty of Caid, and a right pain in my arse for the last 30 years or so.”
“King? Of… what now?”
“Caid. Or this part of California. I had heard we had some newbies at the event, but just now became free form my duties,” Darius replied. “I trust Sir William has been keeping you … entertained.”
Buffy flushed as he took in her appearance with a knowing glance. “I… he… that is… there’s a rumor.”
Darius chuckled, “There are always rumors. Let me guess. This one involved someone wanting to take over the barony and bring true feudalism to Sunnydale?”
“Yes,” Buffy replied uncertainly. “That’s what I was told.”
“Dealt with,” the king replied. “I’d be a lax monarch if I let these rumors become reality. Wouldn’t I?”
“I suppose so,” she replied. Buffy felt a little let down. She was ready for a fight, but now, it seemed, there was no fight.
“So you can continue with whatever you were doing… and no worry… your secret is safe with me.” Darius laughed a little again. His laugh rolled over the couple like warm brandy – exhilarating and mildly intoxicating. Buffy took a hesitant step towards Spike.
Spike visibly shook himself. “Oy! Darius! Control that power of yours, will you?”
Buffy snapped out of her sudden trance. “What? Wait… he…” She glared at Spike. “Enough with the magic and the wishes, Spike. Get over it. That kiss was a one time thing. You… me… we’re never… Argh! Why do I even bother!”
On that incoherent note, Buffy stormed out of the alcove.
Spike watched her go, bereft. “But… Buffy… it was going so well…”
Darius took pity on the distraught vampire. Throwing his arm around his shoulders, he led him out of the alcove. “Come, my friend, we have mead to drink and cares to drown.”
Bewildered, Spike let Darius lead him away. Behind him, he left the memory of a Slayer – Buffy – ignited with passion in his embrace for another day.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/253891.html