And my Spuffy fairy tale concludes..
What’s in a Name?
In this world there are two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst.
– Oscar Wilde
An hour later, Spike was sitting on a chair in the middle of Giles’ living room, reluctantly allowing the Watcher to give him a medical exam of sorts.
“Interesting. I’ve heard of mute swans, but never a mute Spike. Stick your tongue out,” ordered Giles. He used a tongue depressor and peered down Spike’s throat.
Buffy and Dawn peered anxiously over Giles’ shoulder, while Willow and Tara lurked near the door. Xander had been helping Giles repair some demon damage to a window when the womenfolk had arrived, escorting an angry, unusually silent, blanket-covered vampire. Xander had just made popcorn in the microwave and was now sitting on a stool by the kitchen, watching the show.
After saying, “Hmmm,” several times, Giles remarked, “At least we know The Gentleman aren’t back in town, Since Spike is the only one afflicted.”
“Unless it’s only affecting demons!” Everyone watched as Dawn ran to the phone and dialed. There was a long pause before she said, “Hi, Clem. Uh, it’s you. You’re talking…Um, yes, I know you can talk…Yes, I know you like to sleep in on Saturdays…Sorry! Bye!”
As she hung up, Buffy said, “You have a demon’s phone number?”
Dawn shrugged. “He likes me to call and remind him when there’s a new Daria on. Sometimes he forgets to switch over from TVLand.”
Giles turned back to his patient. “All right, open again, but this time change.” Fangs appeared, splintering the tongue depressor.
Xander swallowed a mouthful of popcorn. “Too bad Anya has to watch the shop. She’d love this.”
To his surprise, Buffy turned on him. “Xander, if you can’t be helpful, you can just go keep Anya company!”
Surprised by the genuine distress in her face, Xander tried to come up with a suggestion. “Maybe it’s laryngitis.”
Spike gave him a foul look, spat out bits of tongue depressor, and tried to snarl.
“I don’t believe there are any known cases of vampires contracting laryngitis.” Giles closed up his first aid kit. “Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
“You don’t go from annoying babble to total laryngitis in less than a minute,” objected Buffy. “Not even if you’re a vampire. This is hobbit-related, I’m sure.”
Dawn nodded firmly. “Totally.”
“Hardly.” Giles gave a small laugh. “Hobbits aren’t real.”
Dawn was not to be contradicted. “Well, this little guy ran down the stairs screaming just around the time Spike stopped being able to talk.”
Giles scratched the back of his head. “I have to admit, that doesn’t sound very coincidental. Can you describe this creature?”
Dawn frowned. “He was a lot more Bilbo than Frodo or Pippin. And he had a long beard and his clothes were all different colors.”
“Hmm.” Giles was already reaching for a book. “Sounds like a gnome, or—”
“Kobold.” Willow blurted out. Everyone stared at her, and she blushed. Tara gave her a nudge from behind, and she added, “Definitely a kobold.”
Giles put down his book and crossed his arms. Buffy moved to stand next to Spike and crossed her arms. Dawn moved to Spike’s other side and did the same. Spike added his arms to the crossing brigade.
Xander looked confused. “What, do you guys think Willow messed up again and cast some crazy spell on Spike? Come on, you know she learned her lesson after the last—” He looked from Willow’s embarrassed expression to Tara’s downcast face. Then he sighed and crossed his arms.
“The whole story now, Willow.” Giles’ voice was more resigned than angry. “If you please.”
A half-hour later, there was an enormous babble coming from everyone but Spike, who could only stalk around the room and gesture dramatically while slipping in and out of vamp face. Even Giles had to admit that this behavior was at least as annoying as listening to him talk and that a cure was in order.
“I can just move the curse to another demon,” Willow offered eagerly.
“No!” cried Giles and Tara in unison. Giles continued more mildly, “Willow, it’s very dangerous to shift a curse instead of lifting it. With your first try, you muzzled Spike. The consequences could be serious next time.”
This resulted in more squawking and arm-waving from Spike.
“Well, more serious, then,” temporized Giles, shoving the vampire aside and starting to pace himself.
“What if I put it back on the kobold?” asked Willow. “I guess I could stand the typing some more.”
“Oh no!” Tara shook her head. “The poor little thing looked so happy to have it lifted.”
Giles shook his head and said more practically, “That would be equally dangerous. Tell me more about this kobold. What was his name?”
“He wouldn’t tell me.” Willow’s voice was sulky. “He called himself The-Kobold-Who-Makes-Things-For-Pretty-Girls-Who-Do-Magic.”
“He wouldn’t tell me his name either,” offered Tara. “He said I’d have to guess.”
Giles removed his glasses to clean them and, apparently, to give Willow and Tara a better view of his impressive eye-roll. “Your parents really did neglect the classics in your education, didn’t they? Willow, first you missed the Hansel and Gretel implications when that demon took the form of those children, and now this.” He put the glasses back on, strode over to a bookshelf, and pulled down a tome.
“Not those Grimm people again,” muttered Buffy.
“Yes, again.” Giles set the book down on the coffee table with a thump, found the story he was looking for, and pointed to the page. Everyone gathered round to read, except Spike, who had become uncharacteristically calm as soon as fairy tales had been mentioned. Giles left the Scoobies to their literary studies and approached the vampire. “You know the story, don’t you—” He paused dramatically. “William?”
Spike opened his mouth, looking confident of being able to reply, but only a growl emerged. Angrily, he tried again, and managed a howl.
Giles grimaced in disappointment and went back to eyeglass cleaning. “Well, that was a bit anti-climactic. And do have a consideration for my neighbors, Spike. I don’t want them to call Animal Control.”
Dawn looked up from the book. “Okay, I get it now. Willow moved the hobbit’s curse to the nearest demon, forgetting that would be Spike. Somehow or another Buffy and Spike made a deal that involved him not talking, and her—” She looked at her sister and a moment later she was blushing as red as Buffy, whose complexion was pretty close to the maroon range.
“Part of the deal was that I didn’t have to do it in public,” said the Slayer. “Which is of the good, because otherwise I’d be compelled right now to—” She stopped.
Dawn hurried back into speech. “That doesn’t matter. We so don’t need to know.”
All the Scoobies except Xander vigorously agreed.
Willow approached Buffy, a gleam of hope in her eyes. “Did you put a deadline on it? Like, he would only have to be silent until you did whatever it is that we don’t want to know about?”
Buffy and Spike both shook their heads.
“Oh.” Willow looked downcast again. “That’s really too bad.” She saw Buffy’s expression, and added, “Of course, I get that coming from me that’s like the pot calling the kettle black.”
“No, Willow.” Buffy’s voice was firm. “See, Spike and I didn’t know he was under some crazy curse when we made our deal. We had no idea magic was involved at all. So you blaming me is like the pot calling the–the microwave black.” Her tone grew doubtful. “At least, I know there are black microwaves, so it was like, like– Spike, what’s a kitchen thing that’s never, ever black?”
Dawn changed the subject before Spike exploded. “The only thing to to is to break the spell. And the spell is really about his name. But calling him William didn’t break it.”
Giles regarded Spike, who was slipping in and out of game face, experimenting with the noises he could produce. “No, but it loosened it, didn’t it—” Another dramatic pause. “William the Bloody?”
Spike tried to croak out a word, but failed, shaking his head and punching the air with his fists. Buffy came up beside him and tried to grab his hand, but he brushed her aside and went back to pacing.
“Hmm.” Giles’ quiet contemplation was in contrast to Spike’s angry intensity. “Clearly we need to say his full real name.”
Everyone stared at Giles for a long moment. “Well, I don’t know it,” he said at last. “All my research into Spike’s background has merely proven that most of what we know about his origins is so contradictory it must be wrong.”
“Didn’t you ever ask him?” called Dawn, who had had greater success than her sister in getting Spike to settle down by leading him to the kitchen and starting to prepare a pot of tea.
“I did indeed. As I recall, he told me to bugger off.” Giles sat down in his armchair and picked up a novel.
Spike glared at him and smashed his fist on the kitchen counter.
Dawn turned to Buffy, who shrugged.
“The subject never came up,” said the Slayer.
Willow winced and cringed into Tara’s arms, but Buffy marched to Giles’ desk and then strode into the kitchen, holding a sheet of paper and a pencil. “Write it down.”
Spike cast her a grateful look and reached out for the paper.
Two minutes later, Spike was still leaning over the counter, his left hand clutching the pencil and making convulsive movements over the paper, his right tightly clenched on the counter.
Tara had come over to watch. “That must be why the poor little Kobold told me I’d have to guess his name,” she said. “If he could, he would have typed it for me, I’m sure.”
“Or maybe Spike is just illiterate,” suggested Xander.
Spike threw the pencil at Xander’s head and went to sulk on the couch.
“Did you tell anyone else?” Dawn asked. “Anyone around here? What about Harmony?”
Spike’s response was an incredulous look.
“How about Angel?” asked Willow. “Does he know? Buffy could call him, and—”
She stopped because the reaction to this was an eruption of fangs and lumpies, accompanied by some very angry snarling.
“Then what do we do?” asked Buffy.
Giles looked up for a moment. “Well, assuming you really do want him to talk again, you can try to guess his name. Uttering any nicknames you might have for him could help as well, since the use of ‘William’ led to a minimal improvement.”
Spike had run through his repertoire of evil looks at least once, but he mustered a particularly nasty one for Giles at that. Seemingly oblivious, Giles turned a page and continued reading. Shamefaced, Buffy crept over to sit next to Spike and whisper something in his ear. He grinned and gave a small, lascivious grunt, but was unable to produce any intelligible words.
There was a brief, intense, frustrating rush of wild guesses, mostly from Willow. “Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Jonson, Pope, Austen, Dickens, Tennyson…” She craned her neck to read the cover of Giles’ book. “Trollope…”
Buffy contributed Billy Idol and Sid Vicious. Dawn offered Bloom, Timberlake, and Mortensen.
“Nureyev!” chimed in Tara. When everyone looked at her, she said, “Well, I thought maybe Eastern European because of the cheekbones…”
Spike shook his head emphatically.
Buffy took his hand. “I’m really sorry I asked you to shut up,” she said.
Slayer and vampire stared deeply into each other’s eyes for a long minute before she added, “If I’d known you were going to be stuck doing it forever, I would have asked for something much better.”
This brought on more growling and pacing.
The day crept on. Dawn brought Spike offerings of cups of tea and an ouija board. He drank the former gratefully, but the when he tried to use the latter, the planchette jumped out from under his fingers. Dawn picked up the planchette and board and stowed them away, as silent as Spike.
Willow, consumed by guilt, made Xander drive her back home so she could collect her laptop and search the internet for the most common English surnames. In the meantime, the ever-helpful Tara found the phone book, opened it up, and began to read.
“Aab, Aahomana, Aahus, Aakre, Aalbers…”
She had gotten as far as Arbogast when Willow and Xander returned with the laptop, two pizzas, some garlic bread, and Anya.
Anya had no names to offer, but she did suggest Spike might try learning sign language.
Spike responded with a gesture that showed he knew at least one easily comprehensible sign, and an insulted Anya returned to the Magic Box.
Shortly thereafter, the room was filed with two voices reciting in strange counterpoint.
“Williams. Heh, do you think they named him William Williams?”
Buffy and Dawn sat on either side of Spike for a time, until Dawn got bored and crept over to the TV set, turning it on at a low volume. Giles was still reading. Spike was sitting with his legs sprawled out in front of him, his head thrown back on the couch, in apparent psychic pain. Buffy alternated between sitting next to him with an intense expression and pacing the room even more intensely. She looked as if she really, really wanted to kill something but had no idea what.
Giles looked up. “Willow, I really don’t think he’s Vietnamese.”
Spike jumped up and was about to make a break for the door, but Buffy strong-armed him back to the middle of the room. “Daylight, remember?”
He reached for a blanket, but she pulled that away and tossed it on the floor. “Listen to me! We’ll figure it out eventually. All you have to do is be patient.”
Everyone in the living room stared at her incredulously.
Xander came out of the kitchen with a beer and more popcorn. “Maybe he’s Rumplespikeskin.”
Spike demonstrated his capacity for patience by lunging for Xander and setting off his chip. He dropped to the ground, grunting and howling. Giles watched this display impassively. “Prat,” he commented.
“I swear one of these days I’m going to manage to swat that wanker in spite of this bloody chip,” Spike raged as he clutched his head. “It’s more than a demon can stand to listen—” He stopped, sitting up. “Did I say that?”
Popcorn was scattered all over the floor. Willow and Dawn squealed, Tara dropped the phone book, and Spike let loose an experimental torrent of curses to confirm the good news. Buffy grabbed Spike, hugged him, smacked him for trying to hit Xander, hugged him again, and finally stopped the blasphemous flood of words by kissing him.
“Hey!” yelled Xander. “He really is William Rumplespikeskin.”
As Buffy finally released him, Spike cast Xander an ungrateful look. “Don’t be daft. The spell must have been wearing off on its own.”
“Yes,” said Giles slowly. “That must have been it.” He smiled. “And now you may all leave.”
While Buffy helped Spike to his feet, Dawn peered out the window. “It’s getting dark already. We can go home, guys.”
“Should, my dear.” Giles’ tone was ironic. “‘Should,’ not just ‘could.’ Always strive for accuracy in speech.”
Dawn grinned and hugged him, taking the broad hint and opening the door. She was followed outside by Xander and Tara.
Willow hesitated on the threshold, looking as eager and unable to speak as Spike had recently been.
“Just learn something this time,” said Giles.
Willow nodded and ran after Tara.
Buffy hugged Giles. “Thank you. You were very patient.”
“Don’t mention it.” To Spike, Giles added, “You, on the other hand, not only can but may mention it, since all this was for your benefit.” As Spike went past him without acknowledging this, Giles added softly, “Mr. Pratt.”
Spike whirled angrily. Giles smiled at him and shut the door in his face.
Tara shook Willow’s shoulder. Willow muttered, “Later, mommy,” and rolled over.
Tara looked at her watch. Willow had been sleeping for over 18 hours now. At first Tara hadn’t worried, since Willow had tossed in her sleep for days after freeing the Kobold and muting Spike. Willow was clearly in need of a good rest. But this was too much.
Tara cast a waking spell, feeling magical resistance as she did so. Willow’s eyes opened to slits and she yawned feebly.
“Willow, what did you do?”
Willow stared up at Tara, bleary-eyed. “I just wanted a good night’s sleep. I felt so guilty after that Kobold thing—” Her head lolled to one side.
Tara stared down at her sleeping lover. It was true that some people just never learned. She looked at the piles of books lying on every flat surface in the room and yawned. She was tired herself, and it would take a long time to sort out this mess. Tomorrow, she would go looking for whatever spell Willow had used to put herself to sleep. Then she’d reverse it and insist her girlfriend get a prescription for Ambien next time she suffered from insomnia. And maybe Tara would lock up all the herbs for good measure. She slipped under the covers.
An hour later, Willow managed to force herself awake. Her brain was all woozy, but she could see Tara’s quiet form next to her on the bed, and she could just make out some herbs lying on the desk the kobold had used. Her legs weren’t working very well, so she had to crawl across the room to get them. She couldn’t remember exactly how she’d used Black Catechu and mistletoe last, but she was sure she knew what they were for. And she had to get rid of this sleeping spell somehow.
Next door, another couple was engaged in what Spike called a bickering break between shagging sessions.
“Spike, it’s late. Just go to sleep already.”
“Not until you admit that I saved your lovely arse tonight.”
Buffy gave what she hoped would be a derisive laugh, but she was afraid came out as a giggle. “You saved me? How do you draw that conclusion from my cornering three zombies while you fell off the roof of that funeral home?”
“I didn’t fall! I made a heroic leap to save you.”
“You landed on your butt.”
“But I then leapt to my feet and speared that zombie that was trying to take a bite out of your sweet flesh.” He ran a finger over some of the flesh in question as he spoke.
“It was still a Pratt fall,” she murmured mischievously.
He raised himself on one elbow. “What was that?”
Buffy decided that Spike’s true name was just too good a subject for teasing to use up just yet. “I’m just saying that you’re lying here, telling me how lucky I am to have you guarding my back, but for weeks and weeks there was a demon in the next room and you never even noticed.”
“He was a bloody kobold. They smell like earth, and you do have dirt here in California. How was I to tell the difference?” He bent over her and nuzzled her neck. “Besides, when you’re about, love, you fill up my senses.”
It was impossible to stay properly angry when someone said things like that to you, and since he’d annoyed her back to wakefulness, Buffy decided to put him to good use.
Five minutes later, Buffy’s body was slick with sweat as she rode Spike’s cock while stroking herself almost to orgasm. His hands were tight on her hips, guiding her and pulling her closer. She slapped his butt with her free hand and yelled, “Giddy-up,” at which order he made a passable neighing sound, pulled up his knees and started giving her a nice, bouncy ride. Mmmmmmm.
Then everything went limp. Spike’s arms flopped at his side, his legs fell to the mattress, his head lolled to one side, and—everything was limp. Sure this was another one of his bad jokes, Buffy slapped Spike on the ass again. “What, did the time run out on the mechanical bull?” There was no reaction, and, now worried, she dove forward and reached for a pulse in his neck. A moment later, she was swearing at her own stupidity and wondering how to tell if someone who was already dead had suddenly gotten deader.
A moment later, Spike proved that he wasn’t all that dead by starting to snore. He shifted underneath her, rolling on his side and tucking his hands under his cheek.
“Come on, come on, wake up, Spike, wake up, Mr. William the Bloody Pratt. Oh, yeah, I figured that one out, you crazy vampire!” She shook him hard. Then harder. Then hardest, with a slap for good measure. Each time, he flopped back on the bed. “This isn’t funny. Stop playing Spike van Winkle. I want to date Wakeful Beauty, not Sleeping—” Buffy’s eyes grew wide. She stared at the dormant form of her boyfriend. He curled up into a ball.
“Okay, Buffy. No panic yet. First, try the obvious.” She rolled Spike on his back, bent over him, and gave him a kiss. There was no reaction from his cool lips. “Come on, come on, this should work. I have swords and I’ve killed dragons and we’ve had all the thorny patches those Grimy Brothers could want. I’ve even said that thing that you know I have such a hard time saying.”
She used her teeth and tongue to open his mouth slightly. Her next attempt at osculation was more erotic but just as one-sided as the first. She put her mouth to his ear, took a deep breath, whispered that most difficult of phrases to utter, “I love you,” and tried kissing him again. The only reaction this time was that when she pulled away his lips twisted in a sweet smile.
She bounced up and down on the bed, physically overcome with frustration that was not entirely due to concern for Spike. “This is so not right. I may not be the best-read Slayer in history, but I have enough practical experience to know that vampires do not hibernate, especially not in the middle of—” Her third effort involved an attempt to arouse another part of his anatomy, a strategy that had never failed before. If anything more had been needed to convince her he wasn’t playing a trick on her, it was his complete lack of response.
For tonight at least, her life was no fairy tale.
“It’s not like I ever get the good ones anyway, like Cinderella or Snow White. Oh, no, for Buffy the dwarfs are all cursed and the cute little kids turn out to be monsters and the witches–” Her eyes widened. “The witches–”
Suddenly certain of the source of this latest disaster, she jumped out of bed, pulled her dressing gown around her, jerked open her door, and bellowed, “Willow! ”
Across town at Willie’s bar, two small figures staggered outside and held on to each other as the shock of cold air made their beer-sodden brains whirl.
A moment later, the little man in the motley clothes said to the tiny, plump woman he was feeling up, “Will you show me where you live, Adorably-Buxom-Little-Gnome-With-Dancing-Eyes?”
She simpered at the compliments. “My name’s Clarice, but sure.”
“And tell me, do you by any chance have a room devoted to plumbing?”
“A bathroom? Yeah, of course.”
As they made their way down the alley, the little man laughed with joy and then burst into song.
And ne’er a reward I did take;
But now to me there is no shame
For Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/105290.html