By Mint Witch
PG-13, this chapter. Hey, nobody is forcing you to read this.
DISTRIBUTION: Did you ever in your life know an ill painter Desire to have his
dwelling next door to the shop Of an excellent picture-maker.
6. Illegal Smile
Buffy Anne Summers had never been the type of girl who was prone to self-
analysis. She neither looked before she leapt, nor thought before she spoke.
She had taken on every demon the Hellmouth had thrown her way and beaten each
and every one into bloody submission. Buffy lived a life in which it was a
given that a closed door signified spooky music and something ugly on the other
side waiting to leap out at her. Her only questions when faced with the
inevitable realities of her existence were 'Why Me?' and 'Do you know how much
French Tips cost?' Such metaphysical ramblings out of the way, she would
proceed to rip the spine out of her latest adversary and let others worry about
the big picture. It simply never occurred to her that there was anything left to
horrify Buffy Summers, Slayer at Large. That said, there was also nothing in
her experience to prepare her for what lurked behind Spike's crypt door.
There was singing. There was swaying. There was music playing. There was
dancing in Spike's crypt. How wrong was that?
Flanked by the crypt owner, Buffy surveyed her field, considering and rejecting
multiple scenarios. She was forced to concede that no matter how personally
offensive, the tableau before her was not sufficiently dangerous to warrant
Slayage. Even Spike, after a brief-but-frantic look around the crypt, had
settled into his usual hip-shot slouch, sword casually resting against a
shoulder. One of her swords, Buffy noted absently, it's gleam painting Spike a
barefoot knight, a tattered one-man army rushing to his Lady's banner. When had
she begun to take for granted that his efforts would be on her behalf? She had
felt his loss keenly over the summer, a cavalier ghost at her side mocking
Buffy put the thought away for later examination and contemplated her options.
Surprisingly, what at first glance had resembled a TV miniseries about
Woodstock resolved into a mere four people and many, many candles.
The crypt itself seemed to be bearing the intruders with genteel sufferance. It
had been transformed into something reluctantly batik. The stone and marble
seemed to tremble with outraged dignity, promising bloody retribution against
the onslaught of embroidered pillows, even as the sarcophagi shrank back into
the shadows, creeping impossibly into corners for fear of being noticed and
draped in tie-dye.
Buffy's eyes picked out the dancers in the flickering light: Clem, Dawn, an
unknown male and-- oh dear God-- it was Woodstock. As the last person in the
room spun to face the newcomers, gender became mortifyingly at issue. Buffy
crossed her arms over her chest, determined not to look down; didn't Mom always
say comparisons were spurious? Or something.
Spike's hippies fit the description, that was for sure. Both the man and the
woman wore long, colorful, patch-worked skirts, some beads, and cheerful grins.
End of description. And what was that smell?
The red-haired woman swirled and shimmied toward Spike, her salient
characteristics undulating in a fashion that was both unnatural and unfair. Her
smile teased and taunted, causing Buffy's blood pressure to shoot into the
danger zone. Buffy might very well be forced to kill her first human if the
bitch didn't back off.
The bitch in question turned her smile on Buffy, then spun away to link arms
with Dawn. The two danced a complex series of spirals that ended with them
kneeling, arms stretched along the floor toward Buffy and Spike in a
disturbingly worshipful pose.
The bizarre beauty of the dance distracted Buffy from the eccentric circumstances.
With a flash of unwelcome insight, Buffy wondered if this sort of thing lay at
the core of Xander's anger. Surrounded by people who glowed and sparkled with
an otherworldly brilliance, constantly reminded in such moments that his very
mundane-ness made them shine the brighter by comparison, he could only choke on
his own bile, nurturing worms of envy in the dark earth of his heart. Trust
Spike to bring along two more stunningly exotic reasons for Xander to rage
against the vampire.
Buffy's voice plunked into the silence following her sister's strange
obeisance. "You are so busted."
The unfamiliar man--scratch that, the unfamiliar male vampire-- nodded happily
at Spike. "Dude." Throwing a curious look toward Buffy, he swayed
back on his heels and shook his tambourine gently at her, before addressing
Spike again. "This your old lady?"
"Excuse me?" Old?!
The blond vampire apparently realized that cutting Buffy at the pass was the
better part of valor, and stepped forward, gesturing towards the topless duo.
"Slayer, this is Gil and Hattie. They. well, they kind of gave me a ride.
Guys, this is Buffy. I, er, may have mentioned her?" Spike's usual aplomb
was seriously undermined by the fact that he was twitching. Clem caught his
eye, and nodded towards the downstairs with a nearly invisible wink. The sudden
tension leaving Spike's shoulders would have arrested Buffy's attention even if
she hadn't already been watching the interchange. They were hiding something.
Something related to, but presenting a separate danger than the nudie hippies
teaching her sister lewd dance moves. Something that made Spike twitchy. He was
so going down. Later.
Turning her attention back to the immediate danger, Buffy focused on Dawn, now
standing, her arms crossed defensively. "Home. Now."
Gil shook his tambourine again. "Bummer," he muttered in quiet
harmony. Buffy's Slayer senses shrilled a warning at the subtle strands of
beguilement woven in that voice. Her hand itched for a stake, and she stepped
"Dawn, we're leaving." Discounting the amiable smiles, completely
non- threatening body language, and partial nudity, there were several elements
of this whole scene freaking her out, and she couldn't identify them. Add to
list of things to torture out of Spike later as well as to list of things for
which Dawn would be grounded. A two-for, score.
Dawn whipped her hair around in the patented Dawn hair-whip of "you are
such a bitch", and addressed herself sweetly to Hattie and Gil. "Nice
to meet you guys. It was fun, but now I have to go be tortured by Sister
Hattie descended on the girl, all red corkscrew curls, cooing, and secondary
sexual characteristics - obviously some sort of evil Earth Mother hugging
demon- and whispered in her ear. Dawn giggled, Hattie giggled back, and Buffy
She cleared her throat. Not over-reacting, nope, not at all.
Another hair-whip, simple irritation this time, and a "whatever"
later, the Summers girls finally exited crypt-party central. Buffy called over
her shoulder, "We'll talk later, Spike. And we will talk." The door
thumped shut behind them.
Looking sympathetically at his counterpart, Gil ventured a comment. "Wanna
"God, yes." At this, Clem smiled happily and skipped downstairs. The
tension level in the room had dropped to its usual low demon buzz with Buffy's
departure. Spike shook his shoulders, loosening the muscles. He'd forgotten the
electric strain of being in the Slayer's presence. Just a few hours, and all
the calm he'd hoarded was washed away by wild, deadly, seductive thoughts. How
ironic that when the chips were out, the man was more dangerous than the
Walking beside her sister, Dawn nodded periodically, doing her best 'I'm
listening to your rant with due consideration to the fact that you have my best
interests in mind' impression, while actually ignoring Buffy entirely and
mentally estimating potential developments of the mammary variety. If she ended
up like Buffy, implants were definitely going to be a consideration. Either
that, or do as Buffy did and contribute significant future income to the
inventive people at Wonder-bra, Inc. On the other hand, she was already taller
than the Slayer, so maybe she'd also end up more endowed in other areas. Not
significant architecture, just something a little more Hattie-esque. That would
be fine: not too much, but enough to make certain types of guys notice. Or at
least hold up a tube top.
The Gil-friendly cars on this particular train did not indicate another Vamp
Crush, though. Of that Dawn was certain. She was so over that. But still, as a
point of comparison, Gil-friendly hooters were harmless, right?
"Are you even listening to me?" Uh oh, Slayer Dearest must have asked
a direct question. Dawn shuffled through her mental card catalog of Buffy-
rants, as her mouth laid down staccato cover fire.
Apparently the question was rhetorical: Buffy steamrollered on, the rhythm of
brow beating providing a kicky counterpoint to their footsteps. Dawn's thoughts
marched in time, coming to a halt just as they reached the house.
She turned to Buffy, voice dripping sincerity, "I'm so sorry that I
worried you, Buffy. I wasn't thinking, and next time I'll totally stay in my
room and hate my life, okay? Good night!" Giving a chipper wave to her
sister, Dawn ran up the porch stairs, Buffy staring after her, mouth open. Hah!
That'll keep her for an hour or two.
Buffy stared after Dawn in furious silence. There simply weren't words.
Wheeling around, she allowed herself to be diverted by the other object of her
anger. She would find out what the hell was going on at Spike's and return home
full of righteous fury. She threw a final sortie at the house, yelling as loud
as she could, "You are still grounded!" Now, look who's gotten the last
Dawn's bellow floated out the window, just as Buffy stepped off of the curb.
"And I still hate you!" Brat.
Buffy huffed out her breath, squared her shoulders, and sallied forth to brace
the vampire in his lair. What did he have down there that was worse than demon
Continued in 7. A Very Brady Apocalypse