Sequel to Voices in the Dark; part of The Voicesverse
Summary: After Spike's return from Africa, he and Buffy begin to deal with the past...and there's a lot to deal with!
Spoilers: Season 7-ish, takes place after the fic, Voices in the Dark
Distribution: Just talk to me, I'm easy. Fanfiction.net and at Chris' site "Amare, Dare, Pardonare"
Disclaimers: All Joss, all ME, all the time...
Feedback: You betta, you betta, you bet!
For Chris, who is the best writing partner in the 'verse. For Colleen, who makes something good even better. Every time.
The one and only (well, okay, one and only un-incarcerated) Vampire Slayer pulled on the shirttail of her bright orange uniform (eww, polyester twill!) and looked at the clock. Running right on time for a change, she wouldn't get the usual five-minutes-late, disapproving look. She'd actually made assistant manager - had it on her nametag and everything - despite her squalid time-clock history. Buffy was very aware that this was only because she just called out for apocalypse-type reasons and souled vampire crises. Even more attractive to upper management was the fact that she was still stupid enough to have not found another job yet, like so many of her peers had.
Startled, she realized that unconsciously she'd cultivated and actually succeeded in the fine art of 'tuning-out' her little sister - just like a real mom! She felt a surge of pride. She dampened it just a little.
"Sorry, just thinking about work."
"Why?" Dawn asked perceptively.
"Good question," Buffy sighed, sitting down across from Dawn. "What?"
Dawn's eyes brightened in anticipation. "I found some stuff. For Spike. For downstairs."
Buffy's eyes bored into Dawn's. "Are we using it?"
"Noooo." Dawn thought a little harder. "No," she said decisively.
"Does any of it belong to Willow?" Just because Willow was momentarily not living in the Summers home didn't mean she'd want her things given away.
The little Summers bit rolled her eyes. "Buffy...no."
Final question and most important of all: "Is any of it stolen goods?" This last was asked with the modicum of suspicion born of deep embarrassment.
Dawn squeaked in wounded pride and tossed her hair, effectively destroying or knocking over anything within three feet of her.
"No! I told you I took all that stuff back!"
Buffy grinned as she realized that Dawn's hair was wrapped around the back of the chair. Ooh, that was gonna hurt! She looked at the clock and sighed. "You need help?"
Dawn nodded her head. Buffy absently noticed that the hank of hair tightened a bit.
"Well, finish up your homework and call Clem. He'll help you get it on the truck. I'll be off in a few hours, and we'll take it over there."
"And the mattresses, too, right?"
"They were up on a table top. Old table, much space, leaned against wall. No wetness."
Buffy nodded once. "You and Clem leave space on the truck if you can't manage it. I'll do it when I get home. Load the big stuff, I mean."
"Can we surprise him? Spike?"
"Surprising someone means that it's necessary that they not be around when you do something for them," Buffy explained with a touch of exasperation. "Successful surprise parties rest solely on that premise. To my knowledge, he's left the crypt *once* in the last four months or so. And that was the night the three of us went patrolling. I don't know if we can pull off a surprise."
"Oh, c'mon, Buffy! We can try. Bully him out of there or somethin'."
"Cause that always works so well! Fine, I'll try. You call Clem. I'll be home later. Make sure you have everything you need for this little escapade, 'kay? I'll be back in no time. And see if Xander's done with the bed."
As Buffy got to the front door, she heard Dawn's muted cry of pain and the slam of a chair against the floor. A huge grin stretched across Buffy's face. She skipped down the stairs, giggling, at the thought of Dawn kneeling down, untying her hair.
Evil, Buffy, evil!
Buffy poked her head in the door of the crypt. "You decent?"
Involuntarily, Spike looked down. Chuckling dryly, he got up and walked to the door, where the Slayer had plastered herself between cracked door and sill.
"If you mean decent 'dressed,' yeah. If havin' a soul makes me decent-like, then, well - "
Sighing in mock-frustration, she grabbed his t-shirt and pulled him close enough that he could feel her breath on his face.
His eyes widened in surprise. "What?"
"Out. Sewers. Now." Her voice with delicious and the grin on her face doubly so. Spike's heartbeat would have sped up if he'd had one. He made do with a sudden surge of adrenaline - and something else - instead. Then he realized what she was saying. To punctuate her words, she dropped his shirt, reached out and pinched him.
"Ow," Spike exclaimed, pulling away and rubbing his nose. "Playing a little rough, are we?"
"'Rough' is punching you there, not pinching. Would you leave?" she demanded in mock-frustration.
"Any suggestions as to where I go?"
"None. Just want you out. Byeee..." She waved four little fingers at him.
Her color was high and her eyes were sparkling. Spike made a last bid for sticking around.
"Bloody hell, Slayer. There's UFO's on Discovery..."
"Which will repeat again sometime after 11. I know the drill." She grinned again and pulled a 'Dawn,' almost giggling as she did it. "Get out, get out, get out."
"Oooh. If the Nibblet heard you...," he teased.
"Sewers. Now. Don't be back before ten. Play poker. Go to Willie's. Go to the Bronze. Just leave."
Spike had a momentary fit of anxiety at the idea of leaving the crypt. Squelching it, he looked at her appraisingly, still pressed between the door and the sill.
"Fine. I'll go." He looked at her suspiciously. "Can't come out this way?"
"Nope," she said firmly. "Go."
Spike shrugged, headed downstairs and out, before he had time to think too much about it.
Willie's hadn't seemed quite the place for him that evening. And poker at the demon bar wasn't very appealing either. He shuddered a bit at the thought of the kittens.
Oh, God, what a poof!
He slipped through the Saturday night crowd at the Bronze like a shark through open waters. On automatic pilot, he headed to the bar. A loud voice stopped him in his tracks.
"And so you're just - back! Like nothin' ever happened. Welcomed home by the Summers women, one and both!"
Spike slowly turned away from the bar and toward the sarcasm that was dripping from the small table to the left.
"Nice trick, turnin' yourself into a new man - uh, thing - like that. Pickin' up a soul cuts you a lot of slack around here. Ask Angel. He'll tell you."
Expressionless, Spike walked over to the table where Xander Harris sat alone except for twelve empty and two full bottles of beer and an empty shot glass.
"Course there's no cutting of the slack from this guy. Seen the all soul-having slink in and out of this town before, usually endin' up in a Buffy meltdown - Big Bad Bang right in the face of the Big Bad Buff."
For the first time in months, Spike was absolutely certain of something. "I'm not Angel, whelp."
Xander didn't blink. Just nodded. "True," he agreed slowly. "Except for the re-souled 'helpless now' part. And even when you were all, and I mean all, Evel Knievel, you were *never* in his class."
Spike winced at the 'helpless' line, but didn't let up on the man. "Went through something of an Angelus phase myself."
Waving a drunken hand in dismissal, Xander laughed ruefully. "Oh, not so much, I bet. Always had Dru's back to watch, didn't you? Then, Dawn's. Now it's the Slayer. Nope, not so much, Spike. Not so much. Hard to make plans to end the world if you're all swoony and lovesick. You know? Whipped?"
Buffy stared at the bed. "Oh," she said in a small voice. "I remember this." She walked over and ran her hand along the comforter. "Mom got this in L.A. for her and Dad's room. I haven't seen it since we moved."
"Well, it was all packed up, pillows and all. Boy, Mom really went all out, didn't she?"
The slayer picked up a throw pillow. It was a steely blue gray, with a bold tone-on-tone stripe. "Don't remember it looking this good in L.A. though."
"It's the walls," Clem said quickly.
The two sisters turned and looked at him expectantly.
"See? Everything just kinda blends together. But the rough texture of the walls with the shiny fabric kinda - well, it's pretty." He looked at his feet. "Or I like it, anyway."
Buffy rushed in to counter Clem's embarrassment. "It does look pretty. But not girl pretty. Guy pretty. I like. Lots."
Clem's face lit up. "I'll go see what else is on the truck. Your friend did a good job on the headboard. Nice guy." The demon walked upstairs with his usual heavy steps.
Stepping back to get the full effect of the cavern walls with the bedspread, she chuckled. "Clem's right. Death becomes it,"
Rolling her eyes, Dawn looked at Buffy. "Xander was an ass."
The younger sister stuck her lower lip out. "Well, he was! He's not very nice lately. *And* he'd already been drinking."
"Xander is going through a bad time. And it's not just Anya either. I tried to talk to him about it, but he just went to the refrigerator and got me a beer."
"He barely talks to me," Dawn said softly. "It's like he's mad or somethin'."
"He's pretty angry about Spike. He's pretty angry about everything."
"Hey, Soul Man, want one of these? Here. Take it. You took Buffy. Took Anya. Take a beer. They bring 'em out in pairs anyway - so I don't have to wait." Xander's eyes narrowed. "If I wasn't so drunk, I'd stake your ass." He raised his beer high, nodded once. "Maybe tomorrow," he said in way of a toast and slugged down half the bottle. "Yeah, maybe." Xander pushed a full beer over toward Spike.
The vampire tried to figure out how he was going to get Xander out of the Bronze and home. The whelp was in a dangerous mood, and he'd be picking a fight sooner or later. "No thanks, mate. On the wagon these days. Spike, alcohol, Sunnydale - bad mix."
Xander laughed loudly. Spike underlined his resolve to get the little wanker home and in bed.
"Harris, s'gettin' a wee bit late. Take you til past Monday to sleep this one off... Workin' man and all that."
"Work? Hey, man of leisure here. Just kickin' back drawin' the checks." At Spike's puzzled look, Xander chuckled good-naturedly. "Laid off, buddy. On the dole. And not the Kenny Rogers pineapple kind either. Seems they didn't need me anymore." He took another big swig. "Mighty polite about it, too. Pays the rent, buys the snacks..."
"The booze," Spike finished for him. He was beginning to have a strange feeling in his chest, a kind of sadness, as he looked at the bloated man across from him.
"The Xanman dooze the booze, cause he got the blues," Xander sang off key. "Aw, c'mon, big, bad and souley. Tie one on. If we're both drunk, maybe I can stake ya. Never said you were sorry about Anya..."
"If I have any apologies to make, they go to the lady, Harris, not you. You left her high and dry. Didn't even have the balls to make it right, after."
"Oh, and you've made it right with Buffy now? Sure you did. She's a sucker for a soul. You're prob'ly boffin' the Buff again and everything. Probably no clauses on your end, you sneaky bastard. You sure got one up on the old L.A. soul-boy."
Spike sighed in frustration. If only Xander knew how wrong he was. After that first night when Buffy had told him she loved him, he'd backed off. Hadn't wanted to fall right back into the same game of slap and tickle that had doomed them the last time.
And it hadn't been that difficult, what with Clem showing up at all hours and the Bit coming by. Buffy had been giving him some odd looks but she hadn't said anything. Maybe she was thinking the same way.
He shook his head, got up from the table and walked around, easily lifting Xander out of the chair and onto unsteady feet. "You're goin' home now, if I have to carry you every bleedin' step of the way."
Xander tried to pull away. "I don't need your help!"
"Not doin' this for you, whelp," he growled. "Doin' it for Buffy and Nibblet. You're bait for any fledgling on the prowl tonight."
Xander swung at Spike over his shoulder and hit him with a glancing blow to the eye.
"Ow," Spike blinked and squinted. "That hurt!"
"Okay, that's enough. You two wanna spend the night in jail?"
Spike let out a disgusted breath. A bouncer. And a human one at that. "We were just leavin'."
"Speak for yourself! And hey! Drinking here. Workin' on the drownin' of the many sorrows. This sonovabitch slept with my girl. Well, they didn't sleep.... And now, he's sleepin' with my best friend. And I doubt they're sleepin' either. I'm gonna stake 'im, soon as I'm sober."
"That's it. I'm callin' the cops. This guy ain't goin' nowhere."
Xander threw a wild punch at the bouncer. Spike caught his fist and pushed him back. "Harris, that's enough."
The young man charged again at the bouncer. Spike tried to figure out how he could stop him - get him home. For his own good.
Spike's fist shot out and caught Xander in the jaw; he sunk and Spike caught him.
Looking up at the bouncer, Spike smiled. "No need to call anyone, mate. I'll get him home. In his cups, he is."
As he hustled Xander out, he marveled at the wonder of it.
The chip hadn't fired.
Continued in Part 3