Sequel to Voices in the Dark; part of The Voicesverse
Summary: Months after his return from Africa, Spike begins to take back his unlife on his own terms. During patrol, he finds a stray...
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!
Oh, man. Ain't we got fun? Thank you, Chris, for sandwiching me in while you were trying to write! And thank you, Colleen, for the early morning beta...!
"Where's Daniel?" Spike's eyes were hooded.
Clem nodded toward the downstairs.
Spike sat down in the smaller chair and stared at the TV, but Clem could tell he wasn't watching. "Like your hair," he said conversationally. "Kinda, you know, snazzy. The Slayer do it for you this time?"
The rude noise was answer enough.
"Guess not," said Clem, shrugging to himself. Gee, vampires were so moody! "Hey, I rented 'Legally Blonde!' You wanna watch it again?"
"No," Spike said tightly. "No blondes, no bouncin' shampoo commercial hair. Period."
Clem nodded in understanding. "You and the Slayer had a fight. Gee, Spike, do you have to be so touchy? The girl's just trying to..."
"She's not a girl. And. We. Did. Not. Fight." Spike clipped out the words in 1920's typewriter staccato.
Drawing back a little, Clem considered the direction the conversation was going. He decided to drop it and remind himself to stop saying the word 'Slayer,' unless she was in the room.
"You know, when I came back, I realized that this wasn't going to work," Spike's voice gathered momentum. "Should have left then. Gone back to New York." He smiled briefly at Clem. "Vampire can move around all day long there. Whole city underground."
Clem settled back, keeping his expression blank. It seemed to be the beginning of a rant to him. Clem was Spike's best friend and the vampire really didn't have anyone else to talk to about the Slayer. Of course, some of their conversations had gotten a little graphic in the past, but...he liked Spike - admired him even - so he was going to be a friend and not interrupt. Let him vent.
"But no. She was here. Smellin' up the place with that lotion she uses. Paddin' around the crypt like some hausfrau, heatin' blood, watchin' me like I was gonna break, bullyin' me into straightenin' up. Survived over a hundred years without her. Reckon I can make it a few hundred more."
Spike paused. Clem felt the empty hole and responded carefully. "But things have been okay lately..."
"Oh, right. Bloody oh-kay! Well, let me tell you somethin', Clem. She still doesn't get it. Right in front of her bleedin' nose and she's clueless!"
Clem leaned down to pick up the canvas tote bag he'd brought. "Got that, too, Spike. On video. And that Alicia Silverstone..."
"Then, tonight, I'm mindin' my own business. Nibblet's doin' a touch-up, which is fine. I don't care. Bit can do anythin' she likes. And *she* comes in - all full o' piss and vinegar."
"Oh, not good."
"Oh, no, not bloody good at all, 'cause that's the way I love her best. All tossin' hair and flashin' eyes. 'Course I know she's just playin' at it. She's not sorry I'm there. Then, she puts her hands in my hair, and..."
"Whoa! TMI, Spike. You sayin' things got outta hand?"
Spike nodded decisively, mouth tight. "And then, the Little Bit comes in and catches us."
The demon slapped his hand to his head. "She'll be scarred for life. One time, when my mom..."
"We weren't doin' *that*!" Spike said in exasperation. "Well, we were, but not really, y'know. So I go outside, give 'em some space, have a fag or two. And she comes out..."
"Dawn? Whoo, boy!"
"No. Buffy. So I take my leave, right? With as much grace as I can, considerin' what I want to do to her on her own back porch. Make sure she's all right, set up the thing with Harris tomorrow, and I go.
"And do you know what she says to me? To me - the stupid bloke that went all the way to Africa to get a soddin' soul so that she could love me? That she doesn't understand how she forgot Dawn was in the house! That's all. That's it."
"Yeah...?" Clem was attempting to follow, but the confusion factor was getting higher. He guessed you had to be there, but...no thanks! The idea of all that tight skin - whew!
Spike continued, getting angrier and louder. "Bloody fireworks go off - hell, nuclear bomb goes off, just from one kiss, and *that's* all she says!" He turned and looked at Clem in frustration. "I'm a stupid pillock, and if I wasn't such a git, I'd stake myself. Or let the whelp do the honors!"
"So...you didn't want to kiss her?"
"No." Spike looked at Clem in confusion. "Yes. Well, yes, I did. But not if it's just gonna be like last time. All skin and nothin' else."
Clem looked nauseous. He shook his head to try and get rid of the image Spike had conjured up. As his words echoed through the room, Spike heard them from Clem's perspective.
"Sorry, mate," he said apologetically. "Got carried away."
Clem stumbled up out of the chair. "You know," he said with a sour look on his face, "I really need to go. Gonna work through the tunnels, make sure the babies are okay in the sewers."
Spike looked at him in concern. "Christ, Clem, s'not that bad. Is it?"
Wiping his forehead, Clem headed downstairs to take the shortcut through the tunnels. "Just lots of mental pictures. I hope I've got a copy of 'Harold and Maude' at home..."
Feinting with his left, Spike snapped a right at Xander. The Scooby dodged the feint and put his nose directly into the path of the vampire's right fist. Both man and vampire yowled in pain.
Buffy tapped her foot, watching a huffing Xander grab his nose, as a wincing Spike grabbed his head. This had been going on for a week, and was going nowhere. But the Slayer had sunk her teeth into the exercises like a vampire with a new victim, and she wasn't letting go of it, til she'd drained it dry.
"Jesus, Harris," Spike breathed out between clenched teeth. "Got to defend yourself better. Like fightin' with a girl." As he felt the Slayer bristle behind him, he corrected himself quickly. "Uh, with a wanker, I mean," he said lamely.
Just as Xander was drawing himself up for another go, Spike had a better idea. He shot the man a conspiratorial look and hoped the whelp picked up on it. After all, they'd spent one entire summer telegraphing moves to each other out on patrol while Buffy was gone - surely Harris wasn't completely brain dead. And he had to be as sick of this as Spike was.
"Wait a minute, monkey boy," he said.
"What?" panted Xander, nearly ready to pass out from the weight and heat of his padded suit. Spike couldn't tell if he'd gotten the silent message or not.
"You're supposed to be attackin' me this time." Spike looked to Buffy for approval. "That right, pet?" he said innocently, eyes wide and very blue.
As he'd hoped, the Slayer raised a slow eyebrow and impaled both of them on gray-green eyes. "This is the saddest excuse for a training exercise I've ever seen. Pathetic."
Spike dropped his hands to his sides as he rolled his eyes. Xander had the grace to look embarrassed.
"This is so not. gonna. work. Not until you two stop playing around and concentrate."
Xander and Spike glanced at each other.
"You know what? I'm bored. Work it out and call me. Take a break. I don't care. I'll be upstairs - doing my nails, washing my hair, or something." She yawned. "Or a nap. Bad fight scenes make me sleepy. Nap is good..." Her voice faded as she shut the door to the basement.
Xander wiped his forehead with a dramatic swipe. "Whew! Thought she'd never leave. We've been doin' this for days!"
Reaching for the fastenings in the back, Spike helped the man remove the training gear. "Yeah. Bloody hell, whelp, how many times before she gets it?"
Xander huffed as he climbed out of the hot suit. "Sure could use a..." He looked at Spike guiltily. "Bottled water. I'm all Willow for the bottled water."
"Yeah. Right," the vampire said sarcastically.
"Well, still. It's okay, I guess."
Spike walked over and sat down on the basement step. "This is a bloody waste of time. There's no loophole. The second I want to wipe up the floor with you, the chip goes off."
Xander came over as he cracked open a bottle of water and sat down, too. "Yeah. And I don't know how you can use the old 'for your own good' thing on any Initiative guys. Or anybody else. Good thing you missed old Warren at his worst. You'd be toast."
"Yeah, but Willow stripped his bark," Spike said wickedly.
"Hey! I was there. It was...horrible."
"Any bastard comes after my friends with a gun is fair game, Harris - even if the bloody chip fries my brain. What pisses me off is that RoboBoy Warren could 'a told us everything we needed to know about this," Spike tapped the side of his head. "No guess work. All he needed to know was what it was and he'd 'a figured it out. Had reports, readouts, tech stuff. *I* couldn't read 'em, but..."
Xander stared at Spike in astonishment. "What?"
The vampire looked down at his feet, and tried to explain. "When I found out the chip didn't work - on Buffy, I mean - I went to Warren. Had him take a gander at the chip. See what was bolluxed up. Wanted a closer look, but I had a bad feelin'. Got out o' there. Should 'a torn Mr. Fett's head clean off," he muttered, remembering.
"Wait. Does Buffy know this?"
"Nah. Not important, then - no good in it now."
"But Spike, we've got papers," Xander said, excited in spite of himself. "Technical stuff. Will slipped some of it out of the old lair. Buffy got some other stuff from the new one before it went all self-destructo. If we knew what we were lookin' for, we might..."
"RoboBoy is one with the earth, monkey boy. And he built the Bot. Smarter than any of us."
Xander looked at Spike. "Except Will, Spike. Willow could figure it out."
"But Red's not here. She's with that witchy bunch in Devon."
"We could send it to Giles," he said, wheels turning in his head. "Get him to get it to her. Then, she could help," Xander's excitement was palatable.
Spike looked at him with half-lidded eyes. "And why would she do that, whelp?"
"Well, she actually *liked* you. I think." Xander got to his feet, heading up the stairs. He looked back at Spike, who hadn't moved. "You comin'?"
Spike slowly looked behind him and up, eyebrow raised. He blew out a breath and got up. "Why are you doin' this? I'm thinkin' you might not like this chip out 'o my head."
Xander stared at him. He grinned recklessly. "Crazy maybe? Suicidal?"
Nodding, Spike slowly got up and followed him. "Right then. Lead on."
"No." Spike sighed and looked at another piece of paper. "Not it." Buffy handed him a piece of paper that was approximately eight inches by one and a half inches long. Spike squinted at it and made a disgusted noise. He held the sliver up. "Don't hand me any more of these, Slayer. I mean it."
Xander started giggling. Both Buffy and Spike shot him a look.
There were several shallow piles of paper of various sizes scattered in the floor of Buffy's living room. She was leaning against the sofa with her knees up, bare feet pointing toward Spike, while he sat in the floor nearby, legs crossed. Xander had become uncomfortable just watching them, seeing how at ease they seemed, how intimate. Once, she had even lazily handed Spike a sheet of paper with her toes. He'd taken it without commenting.
Xander let out a bored breath. It was hopeless. He was sorry he had ever suggested it. Spike kept on it long after the point Xander would have fled screaming from the house. Finally, the vampire laid the last sheet down and looked around, face falling when he realized he was done.
"Okay, so bad idea, guys," Xander said, spreading his hands. "There really wasn't a lot left, was there? Looked like more before. Hey, Spike? How's the kid?"
Spike absently picked up one of the larger sheets of paper and turned it upside down, looking at it one more time. "Kid?" He glanced at the man. "Is that new slang for the fledgeling vampire I have staying at the crypt?"
"The kid. Yeah. Daniel."
Spike laid the paper down, looking at Xander cautiously. "He's pickin' up," he said slowly. "Face finally healin'. Bruises disappearin'."
"And you did that, right?" the man asked nonchalantly.
Spike was outraged. "No. College boy vampires did it. With one of those bloody paddles all the best fraternities are so fond of. Hit him in the face, ribs..."
Wincing, Xander put a hand up. "Okay, okay. Holy cow, Spike. Don't get your soul in a tangle. Ever figure out what the deal is?"
"What deal?" Buffy broke in, trading a glance with Spike.
"His thing. The why and the who and the rats. Thought I'd come by and see him."
Both Buffy and Spike spoke at once. "Why?"
Xander's eyes widened. They were spending way too much time together. "Why not?" he said reasonably. "Just curious. Okay? No motives here, ulterior or anterior. Promise I'm not gonna stake your new pet."
Spike gritted his teeth. "Harris, you're a wanker and an idiot."
Smiling, Xander got up and headed for the front door. "Betcha say that to all the guys." He waggled his fingers. "Nighty night." The door closed firmly behind him.
Stretching his neck to relieve the tension, Spike slowly turned toward Buffy. "I hate your friends," he said calmly. "You know that, right?"
"Obviously, the feeling is mutual. He hates you, too."
Spike jumped up and paced to the other side of the living room. "No. He hates me *with* you. Or hates whatever he *thinks* I'm doin' with you. Jealous little twit!" He stopped pacing and looked at Buffy apologetically. "Need to get back to Clem."
"Yes, you do. We're notoriously short on babysitters," she said dryly. "Lucky for me, Dawn's with Janice tonight. Or not." She sighed and got up. "I'm going with you."
"I really ought to have my head examined," she complained.
Buffy had gone downstairs and spent some one-on-one 'quality' time with Daniel, while Spike had played catch-up with his demon 'sitter. When Buffy had come back upstairs, her eyes were shining and her face was smooth. No frown marred the sparkle that lit her face.
Spike loved her like this. He chuckled as she fussed around with the heated pig's blood. He reached over quickly, picked up the mug, and spun away with a flourish, raising the mug to his mouth for a taste. She grabbed, but missed.
"Smooth move, Spikey," she said sarcastically, as he wiped his upper lip and the thin line of blood on his chin. "That's right. Waste your food. Oh, and by the way," she said, pointing to a spot he'd missed, "Eewww!" She realized what he'd done. "Hey! That was for Daniel!"
"Oh, of course," he said mockingly. "Daniel..." he teased in a falsetto voice.
"Well, he cleans up nice!" She grinned unselfconsciously. "Clem did good! And he *is* closer to my age than you are," she teased.
"Oh, it's 'boys' now, is it?" he said with an arching brow.
"You know, I feel really sorry for him. Did you know his girlfriend is still going to school here?"
"At Sunny U?" Spike looked at Buffy in surprise.
"Before those vamps got him, he used to go watch her when she'd go out at night. Watch over her, I mean," she said, lowering her voice confidentially.
"Oh, and suddenly, that's all romantic?"
Buffy stared at Spike. Then, her eyes narrowed with comprehension. "There's a difference between 'watching' and 'stalking,'" she retorted.
"Really?" Spike leaned against the table with mischievous eyes. "Enlighten me."
The Slayer opened her mouth to explain the difference. Confused, she quickly closed it. Spike thought she looked especially adorable when that sharp, biting wit escaped her.
"I thought so," he laughed. "Slayer, you just didn't know how good you had it!"
In answer, she grabbed the mug out of his hand and looked inside, effectively changing the subject. Wrinking her nose, she slammed the mug back down. "You drank it!"
"Yes, I did. Fruits of my labor. And Clem's. Percentage of the net, paid over the term of the contract."
"Oh, yeah. Mr. Sunnydale Business Guy," she said loftily. "I can just quit my job and sit back, right?"
"Got other mouths to feed here, pet. Get your own contract. They ought to be paying you well for risking life and limb," he said pointedly.
She laughed. "*Lives* and limb. Plural on the life part. And at least Daniel doesn't smoke. That saves a bundle!"
"Oh, no. Daniel would *never* do anything so crass."
Buffy pushed a fresh mug into his hands. "You're right. Daniel seems perfect. Well, except for that one little thing." She had a sudden thought. "Oh, God."
Spike looked at her questioningly, putting the mug down. Frowning dramatically, she stalked around the table and grabbed his arms, digging her fingers in to punctuate her words. "Never, never, never let Dawn meet him!"
"Ow. What does...?" He remembered Dawn's first Halloween date - a vampire in a high school letter jacket. That had ended badly. "Oh."
"And," she said, letting go of his arms and pressing a finger into his chest, "I blame *you* for that," she said, only half-joking.
"Me? I didn't tell her to toddle off and get her own vampire boyfriend. One in the family is enough."
She ignored his words. "Oh, it's your fault, all right. You, with all your stories. And your cool hair," she said, mimicking Dawn. "And your smooth moves. And your..." She looked down quickly as she felt herself redden at the glint in his eye. "...coat."
"Oh, it was the coat, was it? And I thought it was my sparkling wit and the grace I exhibit under pressure," he teased.
"Miss the coat."
The humor drained out of Spike's eyes. "Buffy, believe me, you don't miss the coat. I don't miss the coat. The coat is a...trophy," he said with distaste. Reaching up to his brow, he tapped the scar there. "Just like this."
She looked at him questioningly.
"The first slayer I killed gave me this. The second slayer? Well, she didn't *give* me the coat. I took it."
Buffy's eyes went wide. "The coat? Was her coat?" she whispered.
He nodded. And waited for the inevitable repercussions.
She tore her eyes away from his, and handed him the now-cool mug. "Um, here. Rewarm this, okay? I...I've got to go." She grabbed her jacket and headed for the door, almost in a run.
Spike watched the door close. Then, he walked to the microwave.
"She's your girl, isn't she? The Slayer?" Daniel said quietly as he appeared at the head of the stairs.
Spike closed his eyes and let out a breath. "She's a lot more than that."
Continued in Part 8