By Mint Witch
RATING: PG-13, this chapter. Okay, maybe a tiny bit of smut.
DISTRIBUTION: http://www.geocities.com/cxyzjacobs/btvsfic/chrisindex.html and ff.net, eventually.
DISCLAIMER: Joss is my type-monkey; I keep him chained under my desk. Naughty, Joss, no touching!
NOTE: This chapter is definitely all about Canada, who has coaxed me through endless rewrites, tipsy self-pity, and the injustice that is American Idol. Thank you Chris, you are a treasure beyond price.
FEEDBACK: If I didn't want it, would we even be here?
PREVIOUSLY: Spike gets collared (Yum). Buffy invites Spike to live out a Ramones song. Xander remains unhappy with Buffy's life choices. Fun with cutlery. Dawn runs away to dance with suspicious hippies. Golf balls from Heeeeeaven.
8. Little Earthquakes
"Dude, the bus is shaking." He didn't appear to notice anything off about the weather, despite the growing litter of sports equipment, or the storm outside. Instead, the vamp turned to Buffy and reiterated, "Shaking!" He rocked back and forth to demonstrate, but lost either his interest or his train of thought, and wandered over to sprawl in front of the television.
Gil had Buffy seriously confused. Confused and jumpy. She should have staked him on sight, but he hadn't actually done anything to warrant Slayage. Yet. Other than exist, which was usually reason enough for her. But it would be rude to stake Spike's houseguest, right? Maybe he had a soul, too. Oh yeah, because there are so many of those around.
On second thought, there really were. The population of soulful vampire boyfriends, present and former, had certainly doubled recently. Possibly the worldwide population was exploding, and there would soon be a plague of moody, guilt-stricken ex-fiends to deal with, and Buffy would be out of a job. With her luck, they would all move to Sunnydale and try to date her. Xander would combust, he really would.
Dammit, the hippie was messing with her categories, distracting her, and she didn't like it one bit. Buffy refused to acknowledge that her distraction might have more to do with the blond vamp than Gil-ly with the Long Black Hair.
A golf ball rolled toward her and thumped against her boot, drawing her attention back to the rain of non-toad-like-objects. Buffy looked down and then stared out at the hailstorm.
"I should do something." Something more productive than saying that, for instance.
Spike stuck his head out to look and leapt back inside with a yelp.
"You don't want to go outside in that, pet. You'd be knocked flat in two ticks." Stepping gingerly through the mass of balls rolling in the entryway, he forced the crypt door shut against the flow. The noise was scarcely less with it closed, pounding through the small space and rattling the windows in their aging frames.
Buffy tossed the ball she'd picked up from hand to hand, a thoughtful frown creasing her brow. This was too pat: everything was happening too fast, and it was somehow wrong. Not wrong in a big evil kind of way, either, but wrong as in slightly off-kilter. One minute she was mashing with Spike, and the next there were nudists. They'd gone from deep and meaningful to silly and kind of lame in 24 hours. What was that about?
Focusing, Buffy examined the variables and came up with two biggies. Two plus two equaling. She spun around and looked, really looked, at Spike's new friends. No Slayer senses, just good long stare.
Gil was still stretched out in front of the television, Clem slumped at his side. Hattie had wrapped a scarf or something around her to form an intricate halter, and was squatting on the floor, contemplating one golf ball after another with a doubtful look on her face. Switching her gaze up to Buffy, she informed the Slayer, "They're not pearls."
Buffy rolled her eyes, but the non sequitur sharpened her attention on the other woman and her eyes narrowed.
"No, they're not. Should they be?" She felt Spike coming up behind her, drawn by the warning in her voice. He could recognize her tone, even if these strangers didn't.
Hattie continued, heedless, "it's always pearls. 'A gift of the waters for the Queen of Heaven.'"
The Slayer stalked towards the hippie chick and lowered herself to the floor, raising her voice to be heard over the cacophony.
"What. Are. You. Talking. About." When the woman didn't reply, she turned to Spike. "What does she mean?"
"Search me, Slayer." The vampire shrugged. "I haven't got the foggiest: her and her vamp are following some sort of prophecy.
"Think it's a load of crap myself, but she's convinced that you can interpret 5000 year old prophecy with musical theatre." He shoved his hands in his pockets and shifted uncomfortably at Buffy's blank stare. "Fuck if I know."
She rose to her feet and dusted her hands off decisively, "Well, then, Magic Box it is. Tally-ho."
Buffy was slightly surprised to learn that not only did Spike have another pair of boots, he had dozens: a whole coffin of them doubled as table and storage chest. Creepy, but practical. Her fingers itched to get in there and see if they were all alike. Or she could just ask him, like a normal person. Ooh, Dawn moment.
The five of them strode through the tunnels, an even more motley crew than the Scoobies. They could call them the Scooby Auxiliaries. Oh, or the Spikettes! Buffy laughed aloud at the thought, and the Spike in question shot her a worried look.
"Something funny, Slayer?" He'd retrieved the sword and was carrying it as if he expected to be attacked any second, stalking beside her with Feral Grace [TM]. Strangely, Buffy wasn't worried; maybe it was the Feral Grace [TM].
Buffy chuckled again and flipped her hand at the three behind them. "Just thinking about how weird we look, traipsing through the sewers." She trailed off, and then continued in a firmer voice. "Have you seen Anya, yet? Since you've been back, I mean."
Spike's head whipped toward her, his face outraged for a second, before his features settled into frozen blandness. His "no" was crisp and clipped.
"Oh. Okay. I was just wondering. No bitchy-Buffy hidden agendas, here." Well, maybe a few. "So she doesn't know you're back, then?"
"I think she probably has a clue, pet, but we haven't really spoken, per se." At her exasperated pout, he sighed. "Left her a note and a few quid for Burba weed." He raised his voice pointedly, so that it would carry back to their companions. "Since *someone* used the last of my stash for nachos!"
Clem cleared his throat nervously. "I'll pay you back, Spike, I told you I would. I'm just a little short right now." He continued more confidently. "I'm sure we'll get that contract from the city: then I'll be able to pay off that mess last spring."
Spike acknowledged this with a curt nod, a smirk belying to his rigid body language. The vampire only held the pose of offended homeowner for another minute, before relaxing once again into Feral Grace [TM]. Strange that that was how he looked relaxed. Although, upon reflection, she'd never seen him happier and more content than when he was fighting or.
Buffy coughed, blushing, and sought for something, anything, to distract her from naughty Naked!Spike thoughts. "You paid for your Burba? Where'd you get money?"
"I do have skills, you know, Buffy!" he huffed. "I paid for a lot of stuff, getting back here, and I did it honestly -for the most part- with the labor of my own two hands, thank you very much!"
"No, I didn't mean- " she tried to interject, but the vampire was busy defending his honor.
"But no, old Spike is evil, doncha know, snapping necks and robbing corpses while whistling a merry little tune. Not like your precious Angel, never mind I got the bloody stupid soul! And who'd I do it for? He didn't do it for you, did he? No, it was a sodding curse!" Spike was working himself up into a tantrum, roaring and stabbing at the air, words tumbling out as if a dam had burst.
"But I put my immortal unlife on the line, and what do I get? Kicked in the bloody balls, every fucking time! See if I ever do that again! As a matter of fact, I'll give the damned soul back, you ungrateful, self-righteous, b- "
Buffy did the only thing she could think of. Stepping in front of him, she grabbed Spike's head and yanked his mouth down to hers. Hmmm, lips of Spike.
Vaguely, she heard the ring of metal hitting stone, but Spike's arms were slithering around her waist, pulling her closer. Buffy forgot their audience entirely and crawled up his body, wrapping her legs around the vampire's narrow hips. Her head swam: it was like the first time and the last time and every time they had ever kissed. While their lips melded the world vanished. Tasting Spike was like walking through fire: he thawed the frozen black heart of her.
Had she ever thanked him for that, for the fire that burned in her again?
Buffy struggled for air, dragging oxygen in through her nose when Spike failed to release her mouth. His hands were confident on her body, certain of her response: one hand holding her ass, molding her against him, the other skimming up under her blouse, and there was a reason they shouldn't be macking right here, right now, but she couldn't seem to recall it at the moment. Not when his touch was setting her ablaze.
A loud cough interrupted Buffy's reverie, and she jerked her mouth away from Spike's with a gasp. Her eyes fluttered open to find Hattie and Gil holding hands and smiling indulgently behind a mortified Clem.
"Uh. Buffy? Spike? Shouldn't we be." The demon's voice trailed away miserably.
Spike had burrowed his face in her neck when she pulled away. Now he looked up and glowered at poor Clem, before loosening his grip. She slid languidly down his front, still a little woozy, and they exchanged a heated stare, while each struggled to regain composure.
"Right then." Spike's voice came out a little hoarse, and he turned away to pick up the fallen sword. When he continued, he sounded almost normal.
"Slayer, it might be best if I take point. You can bring up the rear." His voice descended briefly into a hot growl that made Buffy's nipples stand up and say 'I want that one'. "Yeah, uh, to protect the non-combatants from any beasties sneaking up behind us."
Rationally, it was a good plan, and what they should have done in the first place. Buffy sighed.
"Aye, aye, Cap'n!" She tossed Spike a mock salute, then turned and marched several paces back the way they'd come. Spike hid his smile, pretending to check his blade for dings, as she settled herself into a ridiculous parody of parade rest. He wasn't usually so careless with the sharp pointies.
As they set out again, Spike seemed to have forgotten his earlier fit of pique. He had regained his 'all is well with any world that had him in it' swagger; Buffy was torn between watching their rear or his rear. His jaunty stride did amazing things to her boyfriend's ass.
Boyfriend. She'd said it to Spike the once, but she hadn't really admitted to herself that this was what she wanted. What she'd wanted and needed all along. Her boyfriend disasters were legendary, or at least they should be.
Maybe in a hundred years Giles' journals would make her love life a warning to future Slayers: whatever you do, don't do this or this, and definitely do not do that. Although, Giles himself had seemed to find this latest example of Buffy-decision-making a source of endless amusement: it was almost worth being the butt of the joke just to hear him laugh like that again.
Which was oh-so-very strange. Xander had never managed to lose his look of pinch-lipped horror every time the 'S' word came up, but Giles barely contained his mirth. He couldn't or wouldn't explain why it was so funny, either, yet she'd frequently found herself laughing along with him.
Oh how she missed Giles. He had. perspective, that was it. Giles had swooped into Sunnydale, saved them all, and done it with style and humor. Then he'd flown away again with Willow tucked under his wing, a string of promises left behind to hold his place in their lives.
Thus far, his record of promises kept was unbroken, a Summers' family record. When Buffy was honest with herself, she could admit that his absence -and his constancy in spite of it- played a big part in the peace she'd managed to achieve over the summer. Giles didn't promise what he couldn't deliver, so he always delivered on what he did promise. There was probably a lesson in that somewhere. She should tell Spike; he could add it to his list. Maybe it was already on his list.
Or perhaps Buffy would make her own list. #1: Do not beat the crap out your boyfriend and leave him for dead. #2: Lying about boyfriends never turns out well. #3: All guys are complete dicks at one time or another.
Maybe Xander should start keeping a list, as well. Anya might appreciate the irony.
Continued in 9. Of Locks and Keys