By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 4 - Get Ready to Rumble
"How the hell should I know?" he said defensively. "One moment she's fine, the next she just falls over."
Willow took her hand. "Buffy? Buffy? Are you okay?"
There was movement behind the closed, lightly powdered lids. Spike was still supporting her weight from behind when her eyes fluttered opened. Startled eyes. Frightened eyes.
Suddenly, the girl broke from Spike's grasp, stood and turned back to face her small audience. She narrowed her eyes and raised her fists. She caught a glimpse of her delicate hands and tilted her head in confusion. She took a step back and turned her balled fists inward to glance at her sparkling nails. A few more steps backward and she bumped into a table. She looked up at the spectators with a mixture of fear, shock and a twinge of desperation. But only for a moment. Then, her face cleared and her eyes filled with determination.
She lunged forward with two graceful steps, planted her left foot and drove her right foot square into Spike's chest launching the surprised vampire halfway across the dance floor.
"Buffy!" Willow shouted.
"Looks like Spike tried to cop a feel," Anya commented.
The remainder of the patrons fled the dance floor as the small blond rushed toward the fallen vampire.
"God Buffy," Spike said as he scrambled to his feet, "What'd I do?"
If he was expecting an answer, his disappointment was washed away by severe pain when the Slayer landed a swift left hook followed by a strong uppercut that threw him up and back into the drum set on the stage. The clatter was deafening. Spike struggled in the tangle of wires and desperately tried to dislodge his foot from the large center drum. He attempted to stand several times, without success.
"Bloody hell," he swore to no one in particular. He had finally removed his foot from the broken instrument and set about extricating himself from the web of electrical and microphone cables.
Tara nudged her girlfriend. "Willow, do something!"
Xander was already rushing the stage. He grabbed the Slayer's arm and tried to turn her toward him. She turned...and shoved Xander with such force that he was thrown to the edge of the dance floor, just missing a concrete column.
"Hey!" Anya shouted and hurried to help him, their former argument instantly forgotten. "Oh Xander, are you alright?"
He nodded, but was cradling his right arm as Anya helped him to his feet.
"How dare Buffy treat you that way," Anya pouted, "After all the times you got beat up for her."
Meanwhile, Buffy jumped up onto the stage and quickly grabbed the drumstick by her foot. She paused a moment to inspect the heeled leather boot, but then returned to the task at hand.
When Spike looked up at her from amidst the percussion-debris and saw the drumstick she expertly held, his eyes widened in panic. "Buffy?"
She charged toward him. Spike quickly stumbled out of the path of the attacking Slayer. He jumped off the stage and turned to face his assailant. Buffy didn't even pause to make a smart remark. Instead, she vaulted herself off the stage and landed in front of Spike.
"Willow!" Tara prodded.
"I'm thinking!" Willow snapped.
Buffy swung at Spike, but he ducked, narrowly escaping the calculated blow. He moved fast, behind Buffy, and tried to grab her in a bear hug. She elbowed him in the gut, reached over her shoulder, grabbed his collar, bent forward and yanked him up and over her head. He landed on his back, but was up and moving before Buffy could put her heel down on his face.
"Okay, Slayer," he said as circled her like a predator. "I know we've had our differences, what - with me trying to kill you and all. But that's behind us."
Buffy also circled slowly, ready to counter his attack.
"It looks like they're dancing," Anya whispered to Xander.
"I know you like the rough and tumble," Spike continued. "You could have just asked."
*Why isn't she saying anything?* He wondered.
"No fair taking me by surprise, Slayer, just when we were getting along so well."
Buffy was still holding the drumstick. Her eyes were narrow, dark with concentration.
"I mean, if you didn't want to dance with me, you could have just said no."
*It's no fun teasing her if she won't bite.*
Without warning, Buffy took two quick steps forward and threw herself into an expert round-off back handspring. She flew at Spike with inhuman speed. But he moved with his own inhuman speed and without a target to halt her momentum, the Slayer found herself crashing into a table.
Spike watched as the Slayer regained her composure. *Her stance is different. These aren't her moves.* The girl had lost her drumstick in flight, but there was plenty of splintered wood now available. Without taking her eyes off her quarry, she leaned down to pick up a broken table leg. *She's good enough, but she's no Buffy.* Spike risked a glance at the others to see what they were up to. Xander and Anya were just observers. Looked like Harris might have sustained an injury. The witches might be concocting something. *Better make it quick, Red. He thought, don't know how much longer I can avoid a dusting. Damn this bloody chip!*
The Slayer came at him again. Spike ducked two punches and blocked another before one finally connected. He stumbled backward. She charged again. This time, Spike dropped to the ground and extended his leg, effectively tripping her. He was getting increasingly tired of this game. *This would be much more fun if it were really Buffy.*
"Will?" he called over his shoulder.
"Working on it," she replied.
The Slayer held the table leg skillfully and swung it a few times to gauge its weight. She spun it with her two hands as she stalked her prey.
Spike ran and hopped back up onto the stage. He grabbed the microphone pole and ripped out the cable. *If she gets a weapon, I'd bloody well have one as well.* He, too, spun the pole proficiently as he stood in the spotlight on the cluttered stage.
The Slayer dashed to the stage and swung at the vampire's feet. He easily jumped over the wooden club and smirked at the increasingly frustrated blond girl.
"Getting a bit tired, Slayer?" he asked. "My crypt's just around the corner. I got a bed, you know." He winked at her. "Maybe it's not sleep you're after."
*Still nothing. Jesus, what does it take?*
Spike waited for the girl to make her next move. When she leaned forward to strike, he used the pole to vault himself over her head and landed behind her, chrome staff in hand.
"I could just have a smoke? Give you a breather?" he teased. "Will?" he called over his shoulder, "Any time now."
"Okay, Spike, we got it. Just, uh... Keep her busy."
"Will do," he rolled his eyes. *Isn't that I've been bloody doing?*
He could hear the witches chanting something incoherent but he had other things to focus on right now. The Slayer was spinning the wooden leg in her hands quickly and was walking toward him. It was hard for Spike to keep track of the spinning table leg. *Hmm...that's pretty good.* Suddenly, the spinning stopped and wood was almost upon him. Spike used his microphone pole to block the jab. For a minute or so, they were dueling...chrome against wood, vampire versus Slayer.
"Okay, Spike, you gotta hold her down," he heard Willow yell.
"Oh sure, yeah, no problem," he mumbled.
Spike mentally prepared himself for the oncoming anguish, and before he could change his mind, he twisted the pole, caught the Slayer's elbow with it and disarmed her. As she turned her head to watch the wooden leg fly across the dance floor, Spike kicked her feet out from under her and before the pain could even register, he threw himself on top of the girl and pinned her arms under his knees.
"OOOOOOOWWWWWW, BLOOOODDDYYYY HEELLLLLLL!!!" echoed through the now quiet club.
Willow and Tara were glowing slightly orange and with a flick of the redhead's wrist, an orange net fell right through Spike and formed around the grounded Slayer. In moments, the girl was fully enshrouded in a translucent orange bubble-like substance. Spike, still clutching his head, simply fell over sideways onto the floor.
"We need to get her back to the house," Willow said, as she approached the struggling Slayer.
"What's wrong with her?" Anya asked as she and Xander made their way over to the group.
"D-do you think it could be a spell?" Tara asked the group.
"What? A `let's-kick-Spike's-ass' spell? Why didn't we think of that?" Xander asked.
"Funny Harris," Spike mumbled hoarsely from his bed on the floor.
"Maybe Buffy just snapped," Anya offered. "I mean, she's been under a lot of pressure lately, what with no money and all. If I had no money, I would snap."
"She has a point," Tara agreed.
The hoarse voice interrupted. "Buffy didn't snap."
"What did you say, Spike?" Xander asked as he reached out his uninjured hand to help the vampire up.
As Spike stood, still clutching his head, he repeated, "Buffy didn't snap." He glanced down at the terrified girl thrashing about in her prison. "That," he nodded toward the girl, "isn't Buffy."
Continued in Part 5 - Tea for Two