By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 10 - Teacher's Pet
"What do you think you're doing?" Anya squawked.
"We're closed for the day, An," he answered.
"Oh no we're not. Think of all the money we stand to lose!"
She stomped back to the front door and unlocked the dead bolt.
Xander twisted it back.
Anya grabbed for it again and a small scuffle developed.
"Stop it, you two," Giles said. "Anya, we have work to do. We should close the store for the day."
"Giles, you put me in charge and I say...We. Stay. Open!" She enunciated loudly and unlocked the door with a flourish.
"Who cares about the soddin' money, Buffy's life is at stake," Spike growled, "Sit your ass down and grab a book."
Anya was startled by his commanding tone, and for once, had nothing to say. She just quietly turned the dead bolt back into place and made her way behind the counter.
"Xander, why don't you go ahead and show Maeve the training area - get her started," Giles suggested.
Xander nodded. He motioned to Maeve with his left hand, his right arm was still sore. Anya had created a makeshift sling for him before they left the house this morning to keep it stable. She was nervous he might be out of work for a while and even mentioned to Willow that she might consider researching a healing spell for him...of course, only after this Buffy/Maeve puzzle was solved.
After they were out of sight, Giles motioned for the group to gather around the table.
"I have a few theories," he said, "but I didn't want Maeve to overhear."
"D-do you think this has to do with the resurrection?" Tara asked nervously.
Giles removed his glasses and began to wipe the lenses "Possibly," he answered.
Willow looked irritated, "The spell worked. Buffy came back just fine. You all saw her - she was Buffy. She's been Buffy. Maeve's appearance has nothing to do with the resurrection." She crossed her arms across her chest as if inviting someone to defy her.
"I don't know why this has occurred. There are several possibilities," Giles answered.
"Well, what others?" Tara asked, hoping to ease the tension in the room a bit.
"It's entirely possible that Maeve has already died and her spirit has been summoned by someone, and has taken up residence in the body closest to her own."
"Buffy. Because she's a Slayer too," Anya figured aloud.
"Precisely," Giles agreed.
"But then, where is Buffy's spirit?" Anya asked. "Is it trapped in there with Maeve?"
"Maybe she's back in hell!" Willow exclaimed. "Poor Buffy." She took a deep breath, "We have to get her back. I did it before and I can do it again." Tara shook her head sadly, but tried to calm her lover by caressing her back in slow circles. "I'll just find another spell..."
"You'll do nothing of the sort!" Giles snapped at her. "We don't know anything for certain yet," he explained rationally, "and until we do, there's no use panicking or jumping to conclusions. The Council should be faxing over the journal shortly. Maybe that will give us a clue. Until then, try to find a previous case of something similar transpiring. Before we can proceed with any kind of plan," he looked at Willow sternly, "we need to know exactly what caused this."
"Maybe Buffy and Maeve simply switched bodies," Anya guessed. "Like in that movie `Trading Places'."
"At this point, anything is possible," Giles conceded. But he didn't look convinced.
There was a moment of terrified silence while the gang imagined the horrible places Buffy's spirit might be trapped. They exchanged worried glances.
"We will find Buffy," Giles said. "We will get her back."
He looked at his family of misfits fondly, "Now get to work." He walked to the office in the back of the shop.
The moment he disappeared, Willow quickly snuck upstairs, pulling Tara behind her, to investigate locator spells and specialized time travel wormholes. Anya remained near the counter, where she felt most comfortable, flipping through the inventory list, hoping to happen upon an item that might help in determining the cause of this mix-up.
I'm dying for a smoke, Spike thought. He was pacing the length of the shop trying to ascertain what his part in all this was. He felt powerless. I really need to hit something! He considered putting his fist through the wall, but he knew that Anya would have his head if he damaged anything in the store. He contented himself with pacing, rubbing the back of his neck and occasionally growling. The vampire was drowning in worry and a daub of self-pity - but was shaken from his preoccupation by Xander's beckoning.
"Spike, a little help!"
Xander was standing at the door of the training room. "I can't spar with her," he raised his sling, "like this."
"You couldn't spar with her completely healthy, loaded with steroids and hopped up on coke," Spike answered wryly.
"Whatever," Xander replied. "Think you might want to make yourself useful? You know, more useful than, say, standing around like a corpse?" Xander sneered, "Oh wait, that's right," he smacked his forehead, "you are a corpse."
"Corpses, as a general rule, don't stand around," Spike explained, "I'm a special case."
"Well," Xander prompted, "Help?"
Spike shrugged. Not like I have anything better to do, he thought. "Just tell the little lass to keep her stake in check. Wouldn't want her getting carried away."
Spike and Xander walked into the training room. Maeve was sitting on the couch with her (Buffy's) ankles crossed waiting for instruction.
"Maeve, this is Spike. Spike, Maeve," Xander stated.
Spike rolled his eyes. "We've met."
"But you weren't formally introduced," he answered. "Maeve, we know Spike is a vampire, but we'd prefer it if you didn't kill him." He leaned in and feigned a whisper, "I'd have to sweep up his remains and I REALLY hate sweeping."
He didn't earn a laugh. Not even a smirk. "That was a joke, Maeve."
"Oh," she said and smiled sweetly at him.
"Anyway, just don't kill each other." Xander headed for the door, "Have fun!"
Maeve didn't make a move to get up.
"Well? Shall we get on with it, then?" Spike asked.
It's so strange to look at this girl and see Buffy. Oh God, I miss her.
She stood. "This is a bit uncomfortable for me," she said. "I've never had to fight a vampire I did not intend to kill."
"Strange for me, too, Sweetness," he said. Although I've had plenty of experience fighting a Slayer I didn't want to kill, he thought. Unfortunately, you're not her.
Maeve began to circle Spike. He smirked and watched her lithe form glide across the floor. Got to give it to the girl, she already knows how to use her body. She raised her fists, her eyes trained on her target.
"So? 1880, huh? Boy that was a good year," he commented.
"Why do you insist on conversing while we fight?" she asked as she wound her circle tighter around her quarry.
"Makes it more interesting."
"You were around in the 1800's?" she asked.
She launched a fist at the vampire's face. He dodged it easily by leaning back and to his right, but remained standing in the same place. She kicked at his chest; he grabbed her foot and yanked her forward slightly. She lost her balance and landed on her back.
"Where did you live?" she asked as she gracefully got to her feet, "Your accent? Is it English?"
"It's bad manners to ask a vampire where he LIVED," Spike grinned. "And if you ask one of us when he was turned, he'll tell you he shagged one of Solomon's wives before turning her, which would be a pack of lies, of course."
Spike watched in fascination as a crimson blush spread across her - no! - Buffy's face.
"And did you?" she blurted out, before covering her mouth with her hand, horrified at her own forwardness.
Spike laughed. "What do you think?" he asked with a leer, gesturing for her to attack him.
Maeve overcame her embarrassment rather quickly and dove into a front handspring, taking the vampire by surprise. She twisted in the air and smashed both feet into the vampire's gut. Maeve fell to the floor, but immediately rolled to the left and stood. Spike was doubled over, clutching his stomach. The Slayer took advantage of her opening and landed a swift kick to his head. He shuffled backward. Maeve leapt toward him again and tried to backhand him as he rose, but Spike grabbed her arm before she could do any damage. He held her there for a moment and searched her familiar face for any sign of the woman he loved. She swung her free hand at his chin, but he caught that one, too, and held her tight. The Slayer cocked her head confused and a little unnerved by his intense gaze.
She not in there , he thought. Then shook his head to rid himself of that thought. Back to the game. He released his grip on her and moved sideways quickly, out of her reach.
Maeve countered his sideways move and began her flurry of attacks again. Spike easily dodged punches and defended against kicks. It was the gymnastics that generally took him off guard.
Her brows began to furrow as she fought.
"I think." Punch. "You." Kick. "Are a." Punch, punch. "Contradiction." She halted her attack and looked at him thoughtfully. "And you are not really trying to defeat me. You are merely defending yourself. Why aren't you attacking me?"
Spike's grin faltered.
"It's a long story," he sighed.
"I would not have asked if I wasn't willing to listen," Maeve said and changed her stance. She was obviously no longer in `fighting mode'.
"Well, have a seat then," he gestured to the mat on the floor. Maeve obliged. He sat down across from her.
"I'll try to make a long story short," he began. "About a year and a half ago this secret military group took up residence in Sunnydale and was hunting vamps and demons and yanking them off the streets, out of their homes... out of the bloody bushes." He paused, expecting an interruption or witticism, but then remembered he wasn't talking to Buffy.
"So anyway, they grabbed me and stuck me in a cell."
"Like a prison?" Maeve asked.
"Yeah. And they experimented on us."
"Well, different for everyone, I suppose. But for most of us, they stuck this thing in our brains..."
Maeve winced. "While you were awake?" She looked somewhat faint.
"No, no. It was a surgical procedure. In fact, I didn't even know I had it at first."
"Why did they do that?"
"Well, it prevents me from hurting things."
There was a moment of stunned silence, then, "How?"
"It causes severe pain in my head every time I try to hurt a human. Can kill demons, though. It has something to do with nerves, impulses, brain stuff. I don't know how it works, it just does," he said sharply.
"That's horrible," Maeve exclaimed.
"Oh yeah?" Spike answered warily. "I'd have thought you'd be all for it, being a Slayer - killing my kind, and all..."
"Still, for them to experiment on you - without your knowledge... it's a violation! I believe in what I do, I believe that your kind cannot be allowed to walk the earth, that it is my duty to rid the world of vampires. But I do it quick. I have no desire to see them hurt, humiliated or caged. Only dead."
Spike nodded. "I s'pose that's one way of looking at it."
"What other way is there?" Maeve asked. "I never asked to become a Slayer. Did you ask to become a vampire?" She never waited for his answer but continued. "You follow your calling and I follow mine. At least, that's what I thought until I met you."
Spike snickered cheerlessly. "Right."
"So, tell me more," she said. "How did you feed?"
The vampire answered, "Stole blood from the hospital sometimes."
"There's a butcher down the block from here who will occasionally sell pig's blood to the suntan-challenged." He looked somewhat embarrassed.
"What happened to the people who did this to you?"
"They were destroyed. Long story. It wasn't pretty." There was a predatory smile on his lips.
Maeve considered everything she had just learned about the vampire sitting before her.
"So you cannot harm me because of something they put in your brain," she restated. "But if you did not have this thing, you would return to killing?"
Spike considered the question. He had considered it many times before...many, many times before. Probably more than he wished to count. He already knew the answer, but still wasn't sure how to respond. If anyone else had asked, anyone else but Buffy, he'd have said `Of course. That's what I do. That's who I am. I'm a soddin' vampire... I eat people!'...but what did he have to gain by lying to this girl? He leaned back, resting his weight on his hands.
"No," he said simply.
Maeve tilted her head. "Why not?"
He's considered this question, too. It was a bit tougher. He decided to be as honest as he possibly could with his answer.
"I'm not entirely sure," he knitted his brows in deliberation. "At first, I thought it was because I was in love with Buffy." Maeve's eyes widened in surprise, but she remained quiet. "I figured, if I killed someone, she'd be upset - and I didn't want to make her upset. I thought that she was my conscience...my soul. But now, I'm not so sure. After she died..." Maeve's eyes widened further. "I kept fighting the good fight. I worked side-by-side with her little group of scamps. You know, part of a pack again." Spike was lost in his reverie. "After all those years of mayhem, I'd forgotten what it's like to be human. Felt things I hadn't felt in long a time. I had friends - what I'd like to think of as real friends," he paused, "and a little girl that actually likes and trusts me. And I love her too." He shook his head...was it with regret or was it simply dismissive? Maeve couldn't be sure. "I just don't think I could go back now, even if I wanted to." God Buffy, how could I let you do this to me!
Maeve was astounded. Spike was astounded. He'd never told anyone about these feelings before...he was barely able to tell himself. He got up, suddenly peeved about going all sentimental and pathetic. When did I turn into such a poncey git? He began to walk the length of the room. Man, I need a drag.
The Slayer sat patiently watching the vampire stroll gracefully across the room. No wonder Buffy didn't stake him, she thought, he is so very handsome. Her face was beginning to get hot. Her thoughts might have progressed further as her gaze traveled the length of his body had Spike not turned his attention back to her at that moment.
"But back in the day," he said to the girl, "they called me the Big Bad."
He morphed into vamp face and smirked. "And I was." He didn't notice her embarrassment or anxiety; he was too busy trying to mend his broken image.
"The Big Bad?" Maeve asked precariously, rather unnerved by the wicked display.
"Yep, bagged myself a couple of Slayers, I did." He smiled proudly, then reverted to his human guise.
Maeve looked at him in shock, which turned into wariness. Which was good. He was, after all, a vampire.
There was an awkward silence.
Then: "So you and Buffy are in love?" she asked uncertainly.
"I didn't say that."
"Are you married?" she asked.
"No. We're not married. Not even together." His tone made it clear that he did not want to elaborate.
Another awkward silence.
Maeve decided to change the subject. "Buffy died? This body?" she sounded slightly nauseated.
"The first time she drowned. She was fighting the Master," Spike explained. "Xander," he motioned with his head toward the door, "the poof with his arm in a sling... he was able to revive her."
"Oh!" Maeve was shocked. "Is he a warlock?"
Spike laughed. "Harris? That pillock? Not a chance." He shook his head, smiling.
"Was another Slayer called?"
"Funny story, actually," Spike said, remembering. I was so proud of Dru. "She was killed, too. So another Slayer was called..."
"I see," she said. Although I do not see how that was even remotely funny. "And where is this other Slayer now? Does she fight along side Buffy?"
"She's in jail."
Another look of astonishment. If she weren't taught better, her mouth might have dropped open.
"So Buffy fights alone, then?"
"Actually, no. We all help her. Me, Xander, Willow, Tara, Giles...we all watch her back," Spike clarified. "In fact, when she died the second time, we all continued fighting together, even without her." Spike continued before Maeve could ask the question, "She dove into a portal to save the world and her sister's life."
Maeve could only nod slightly in her stunned silence.
"Willow was able to resurrect her from the grave."
"She must be very powerful," Maeve whispered nervously. "The Council allowed this?"
"Oh God no," Spike said, "The Council doesn't even know."
"How can they not know?"
"What do you mean `how can they not know' - we didn't tell them, that's how, Luv."
"But, do you not all work for the Council?"
"Those jerks? Hell no. Buffy put those gits in their place."
Manners or no, Maeve's jaw dropped.
"We work for ourselves. For each other. For the world. For fun." He smirked. "And for Buffy. We're her...friends."
Maeve didn't understand. Friends? Slayers weren't supposed to have friends.
"B-but the Council," she stuttered.
"Sod the Council," Spike said. "You think they give a rot about you? That's not why you Slayers fight, anyway. Buffy knew the drill. She fights cause that's what she was made to do. That's what gets her going, what gives her a happy feeling." Spike grinned. "Am I right, Maeve?"
Maeve didn't know how to answer. "I-I fight because it is my duty. It is what I have been told to do. I-I fight for the Council," she stammered.
"Right," Spike answered sarcastically. "Not because it's fun, huh?" He bent close to her ear and whispered, "Not because of that rush you get when you're pummeling your enemy?"
His cool breath sent shivers down the girl's spine. She shook her head, `no'. But her heart was racing and her face was turning pink.
"Maybe you were fighting for the wrong reason then," he suggested as he stood. He looked down at Buffy's small frame, smirking at the flush on her face. "Maybe that's why you ended up here." He thought about that for a moment.
"Buffy once asked me how I bested those two Slayers," he began pacing again, " I told her about the death wish."
Maeve listened (and watched) attentively.
"I told her that every Slayer has one. What made Buffy different was...is her ties to the world: her friends, her family," Spike described. "I warned her, though, that one day she was going to give in to it...and that would be the day that it would all be over."
Maeve dropped her gaze to the clasped hands that were resting on her lap. It was the only outward sign of what was going on within her. Otherwise, she remained controlled and calm.
But the predator within Spike sensed her vulnerability and her sense of defeat. Yeah, I could take her. She's just going through the motions. He thought with absolute certainty, and surprisingly, little smugness.
He approached her and, after a moments hesitation, put a tentative hand on her shoulder. "Gave up, did you, pet?"
She didn't answer.
"Slayer?" It took a moment, but then she looked up at. Her eyes were full of shame and sadness. "We'll get you back to your life," he said. "And when we do, you'll live better than you've ever known." He took her hand and lifted her gently to her feet. "I'll teach you to love the fight." He licked his lips and smiled at her. She was mesmerized by his eyes. He stepped back and his visage shifted. He touched the tip of his tongue to his fangs and motioned for Maeve to begin. "Let's dance."
Continued in Part 11 - Party on, Buffy!