Joined at the Hip
Challenge response: Estepheia’s challenge on nummytreats. Spike and Xander are handcuffed (or chained) together for three days. Set during S7.
Rating: NC-17. Bad language is a definite. Oh yeah, plus the smuttiest smut I’ve ever written - *shrugs* - it had to happen sometime.
Spoilers: nothing too major, set after Lies My Parents Told Me, mini spoilers for that episode. ( “ ” = quotes used)
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Joss. No money is being made, yadda yadda.
Author’s notes: a little humour, a smidge of angst, a little smut. And a whole lot of this fic came from me thinking - “How do I get them naked?” and “I can’t possibly cut up the coat.” Also - I mention today how much I miss snarky Spike??
Also: BIG, big thanks to Becky, Edibbea, Emmy and Karen. I couldn't have done it without you guys :D
Xander: I mention today how much I don’t like you?
Spike: You mighta let it slip in... once or twice.
‘You gotta be kidding me. Handcuffs?’
Xander held up his right hand, letting the solid looking silver chain rattle a little, its links glinting ominously under the harsh overhead lighting.
‘Is this guy for real?’ he asked, in what would appear to any casual, outside observer to be an amused tone.
‘Looks like,’ replied Spike in much the same tone, staring into the barrel of a choppy, dangerous looking little handgun at such close range that his eyes crossed. He was crouched on the balls of his feet, unresisting, as the handcuffs were passed behind an ancient, rusted pipe set into the bare brick wall beside where they sat, before he, too, was shackled at the wrist into the self-same pair of handcuffs.
‘Uh, excuse me?’ said the large figure on the other end of the handgun. ‘Man with the gun talking here?’
They looked up at him. Rather calmly.
‘Thank you for your attention. Now I told you already - if you two fucks know what’s good for you, then shut. The hell. Up!’
Xander relaxed back into the corner provided by the brick wall and a softly humming drinks machine, watching calmly as he was handcuffed to the recently re-souled vampire. When the metal bracelet had been snapped into place, he shot Spike a look that read: “So -- I’m thinkin’ we count to three, you break us out of these babies and we go kick a little convenience store robbing ass. Whadda ya say?”
Spike nodded once, shifted his weight almost imperceptibly at the prospect of a fight, and shot back a look that read: “‘xactly what I was thinkin’, mate.”
As the aforementioned convenience store robber walked away from them up the short but sweet cereal, cookies and other miscellaneous baked goods aisle, Xander held out his arm to give Spike as much slack as he could, and began to silently count.
From the front of the store loud yelling directed at the cowering cashier could be heard, only slightly muffled through the thick, black ski mask that the robber wore. Apparently he needed the register opened - ‘LIKE NOW, MOTHERFUCKER!’ - or else there would be trouble. Xander couldn’t help but wonder if a simple, polite and to the point ‘please’ wouldn’t have gone much further in helping with moving things along.
The terrified cashier had managed to stop his whimpering long enough to open the register with shaking hands, and was obediently stuffing handfuls of cash into a small, green bag.
Spike wrapped his hand around Xander’s wrist and lifted his chin to indicate that he was going to pull. Xander bent his knees, pressing his heels into the cracked linoleum and wrapped his free hand under the raised bottom of the drinks machine to anchor himself.
‘You done? ‘bout fuckin’ time. Gimme the bag, motherfucker. Give!’
Jerkily, the cashier tossed the bag at the robber, clearly not wanting to come into physical contact with him. The robber deftly caught the bag without taking his eyes from the cashier, but growled audibly when a few loose bills fluttered merrily from the bag to land at his feet.
And Spike pulled.
The ancient pipe on the wall shuddered and complained as the chain was pulled taut behind it, but the cuffs remained stubbornly in one piece. Xander’s wince at impending pain and possible flying shards of metal turned into a questioning little frown as nothing happened. Nothing at all. So Spike joined in with the frowning, and pulled a little bit harder. Still, nothing happened. He gritted his teeth and pulled with all of his not inconsiderable might, but still there was nothing. No bending of metal, no twisting of strained links in the chain that joined them, not even the tiniest bit of give. Nothing.
A blond head lifted and looked to where Xander was pointing with his free hand.
The robber was bent over; scrabbling on the floor to pick up the few errant bills that had escaped from the bag. Seeing their chance, the handcuffed pair jumped to their feet, yanking the pipe from the wall in the process, dashed up the aisle and, as one, hit the robber on the back with their fists. When he straightened against the pain with a roar, they quickly looped the handcuffs over his head and pulled him backwards by the throat, holding his surprisingly strong, struggling body between them. Through the jagged holes cut in the mask, Xander saw a pair of very furious, very yellow, very non-human eyes glaring out at him.
‘Demon!’ he gasped to Spike in warning, gritting his teeth against the struggles of the body they held between them.
‘Yeah?’ Spike asked, almost hopefully, and yanked the ski mask off the robber’s head.
They were greeted with the sight of greenish yellow skin, a distinct lack of any nose, and some very sharp teeth.
‘Lepgnam demon,’ said Spike with disgust, awkwardly manhandling the demon into his grasp without breaking Xander’s arm off at the elbow in the process, and set about swiftly snapping the creature’s neck.
‘Those blokes are worse than magpies,’ Spike said as the lifeless body slid to their feet. ‘Worse than bloody Ferengi. Always on the look-out for new treasures or the next big haul. Using whatever means they have at their disposal to get the job done, too - violence, magic, guns, strong language. Would’ve thought knocking over a corner shop was a little beneath them, though.’
Xander looked sideways at him. ‘Did you just make a Star Trek analogy?’
Spike’s left eye twitched slightly. ‘Did you just use a word with more than three syllables?’
Xander waited patiently, and was rewarded when Spike caved.
‘I worked my way through your box-set collection for nerds, didn’t I?’ he finally admitted, briefly closing his eyes at the admission. ‘Wasn’t much else to do around your place while you were at work.’
‘I see,’ said Xander simply, and turned his attention back to their present demon situation, filing away this new knowledge for future reference. ‘Well, I guess at least this makes things a little simpler.’
‘How exactly do you figure that one?’
‘Well, y’know, no cops, no trial, just an evil demon and, hey presto, the robbery is foiled.’
‘Yeah?’ asked Spike, his voice dripping with contempt. ‘And what about these?
Xander felt his arm yanked into the air. ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot. We’ll just have to go get bolt cutters or a saw or something.’
‘Bolt cutters, or a saw or something?’ repeated Spike slowly.
‘After I couldn’t break them?’
‘So maybe it’s just really strong metal.’
Spike raised a haughty eyebrow. ‘Don’t give me that. I’ve broken out of a set or two of manacles in my time, and these,’ he rattled the cuffs, ‘are nothing special.’
‘You didn’t manage to break out of the ones in Buffy’s basement,’ Xander reminded him.
‘Well, no,’ Spike said, a little uncomfortably. ‘I made sure of that. They were picked special, to hold a vampire in place. But like I said, these,’ another rattle, ‘are nothing special. I should be able to break out of these no problem.’
‘When did you break--’ Xander raised his free hand as though to halt his errant thoughts. ‘Never mind, I don’t even want to know. You think that they’re demony handcuffs?’
Spike shrugged. ‘Dunno, I’m not exactly chief metallurgist to the demon community, but maybe we should get ‘em checked out.’
Xander nodded. ‘The sooner the better. This isn’t exactly how I planned to spend my weekend.’
‘No,’ Spike countered smugly, glancing in the general direction of Xander’s abandoned shopping basket, sitting patiently two aisles away, full to overflowing with beer and other, much more intoxicating types of alcoholic beverages. ‘You were just going to hide away in your flat, get good and sozzled, and not come out ‘til Monday.’
‘So what? Like you’ve never got drunk when the going gets tough,’ Xander snorted.
‘Don’t look at me, mate. I only came in for a pack of smokes.’
Reaching an impasse, they stood, glaring at one another.
‘Bolt cutters,’ Xander said with a firm nod, ‘then if that doesn’t work, we pay a visit to Willow.’
They stood there, the chain joining them momentarily forgotten, as the cashier appeared, sidling up to stand beside them, looking more than just a little wobbly. His arrival brought them back to the present, and they looked down once again at the dead body at their feet. Noting that their attacker was, in fact, a demon, the cashier swayed alarmingly, grabbing on to Xander’s sleeve to keep himself upright. Then, seeing that the demon was also a very, very dead demon, the cashier bravely spat on him in disgust and snatched back the green bag full of money.
‘I no motherfucker,’ he said bitterly. ‘No sir. Not motherfucker, sir.’
Spike and Xander glanced at the metal connecting them, then at each other, and decided that they shared his sentiment completely.
‘A hold up? Xander, somebody had a gun pointed at your head?’
Willow’s face was a picture of sympathetic, open-mouthed horror.
‘Well, yeah,’ Xander said, scratching his head a little uncomfortably, fitting in a little mutual glare and a shoulder jostle with Spike when the vampire got too close to his personal space for his liking.
‘Oh my god! You must have been so scared.’
‘Not really. It, uh, didn’t really occur to me to be scared. It was just a gun, not a huge slavering beast, or someone trying to bleed me to death to open the mouth of hell, or-or someone wanting to split me in two for their amusement. Just a gun. I sorta figured we could take him.’
He shrugged, evoking another scowl from Spike when the movement tugged at the vampire’s arm.
‘Besides,’ Xander said between gritted teeth, glaring at his unwelcome, vampire-sized bracelet attachment, ‘bullets don’t kill vampires, so I just thought I’d hide behind Fangless here.’
‘Not so fangless anymore, boy,’ Spike said, showing a hint of sharp, white teeth. ‘And that’s something you’d best keep in mind.’
‘Guys?’ said Willow, but they both steadfastly ignored her.
‘I’m shaking in my boots, Soulboy,’ Xander spat back, giving an impressive snarly display of his own teeth.
‘I could murder someone with a soul,’ Spike said defiantly, squaring off. ‘Just ‘cause I haven’t up ‘til now doesn’t mean I can’t try it on for size. All I need is the right victim.’
They both jumped, and looked to where Willow stood behind the table, her hands slapped out on its surface.
‘When you’ve quite finished.’
Mumbles of ‘Sorry, Wills,’ and ‘Yeah, sorry Red,’ could be heard, as, properly reprimanded, they both stared at the floor.
‘That’s better,’ she said, sitting down again. ‘Now, as I was saying, there’s a spell on the cuffs all right. Lepgnam demons can sense other demon types, and Spike being a vampire, it fits that he would have used a restraining spell on you.’
‘Okay, so that explains using the super-cuffs on Spike. But why me?’ asked Xander.
‘I don’t know,’ Willow shrugged. ‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time?’
‘Story of my life,’ grumbled Xander.
‘Yeah, so, magic handcuffs,’ Willow continued. ‘They were probably used as the catalyst for the demon’s magic. It’s a little complicated, but basically Lepgnams can use the power inherent in metal and precious stones. They’re connected with it. Maybe that’s why they’re always on the look out for jewels and stuff to steal.’
‘That, or they’re just greedy bastards,’ interjected Spike.
‘Could be,’ agreed Willow with a peaceable little nod, ‘but in the meantime, like I said, I can’t do anything about it. You’re just going to have to suffer for a few days.’
‘How many days?’ asked Xander, glancing up with a worried expression. This was starting to get serious. As planned, they had stopped off at Xander’s apartment on the way there to raid his toolbox, and tried both bolt cutters and a saw on the cuffs, but to no avail. The metal remained unmarked, unbent, and in one irritatingly solid piece. Spike had then suggested using a sledgehammer, but Xander had vetoed this, and so they had swallowed their pride, and gone to Willow for help.
‘Far as I can tell?’ Willow drew her finger down the centre of the page in front of her until she found the information she was looking for. ‘Three days.’ She tapped her finger on the text thoughtfully. ‘Give or take. That’s usually how long a Lepgnam demon’s spell lasts for in the event of their death. If you hadn’t killed him, he probably would have released you when he was done with robbing the store.’
She looked up and her eyes widened at the sight of two angry faces staring fiercely at her.
‘Or not!’ she added quickly. ‘He could just as easily have killed you. I mean we’ll just never know now.’ She attempted a cheery smile, but it was precarious at best. ‘Don’t sweat it, guys. This’ll be over before you know it.’
‘Like hell it will,’ said Spike. ‘Can’t you just do some counter-mojo? You’re back to being the Good Witch of the West Coast these days, right? So just call up a favour or something and get us out of this.’
‘Why not?’ Spike growled.
‘Well, it’s-it’s not exactly an emergency, and I don’t really have any more favours to call in. In fact, I’m owing, not owed. Osiris for one will probably never forgive me.’ She shrugged lightly, as though it was no big deal, but her eyes told a different story. ‘No more magic for non-essential things, you know that. I really can’t fix it, I’m sorry.’
‘What the bloody hell do you mean you can’t fix it?’
Willow took a calming little breath and tried to explain herself for the third time.
‘Guys, I told you. I don’t know what kind of spell the demon used. I wouldn’t even know where to start. On top of that, it’s temporary magic, and because it’s temporary, it’s very powerful. If the cuffs were supposed to bind you together, like, forever,’ Xander and Spike shuddered collectively at the very thought, ‘then it would a much simpler deal for me to break the spell, but as it is...’
Xander’s shoulders slumped as her words finally sank in. ‘We’re stuck together.’
‘Oh, bloody hell,’ said Spike, and attempted to run his hand over his face in disgust. Of course, he only managed to almost dislocate Xander’s shoulder and hit himself in the face with the human’s dangling hand.
‘Hey!’ cried Xander in pain as he tried to snatch his arm back. ‘Hey, vampire with the super-strength! Watch who you’re yanking around. I’m delicate goods over here.’
‘Delicate, schmelicate,’ snapped Spike. ‘You’re nothing but a thorn in my side.’
‘I could be the stake in your chest, if you’d like. I could deal with being handcuffed to a pile of dust for the next three days and not have to look at your face.’
‘Feeling’s mutual. How about if I just drain you dry? Huh? I could cart a dead body around for three days.’ Spike narrowed his eyes menacingly. ‘Wouldn’t be the first time.’
‘I’d like to see you try.’
‘It can be arranged,’ Spike said, nose to nose with Xander at this point. ‘We could always just rip your arm out of the socket. That would solve our little handcuff problem for a start.’
They stood, chests puffed out, fists clenched, glaring at one another, until Willow marched around to the other side of the table, laid a hand on each of their chests and tried to physically push them apart.
They refused to budge.
‘Cut it out,’ she said, and pushed again. ‘Or do I need to use the separate spell on you again?’
Hoping that they wouldn’t call her on her threat to use a “non-essential” spell on them, she was relieved when they relented and backed up a little.
‘Guys, I don’t want to rain on your pity parade, but we do have much bigger fish to fry. Like The First? You both remember The First? How about the impending doom of this whole “end of the world” deal?’
The two men shifted their gaze, starting to look a little like scolded school children, which Willow thought was pretty marvellous, because that was the exactly the effect she was going for.
‘Yeah. That deal. The one that makes you two nothing more than a pair of very little fish. Plus the fact that we have a house full of very scared, very tired potentials who will be exceedingly pissed at you if you wake them up by arguing, not to mention what Buffy would have to say.’
‘Whatever it was, it’d probably sound very much like a long, and rather dull speech,’ muttered Spike.
Willow chose to ignore this.
‘Now Xander,’ she said, turning her full attention to her friend, ‘you should just be happy that you didn’t get chained to Spike while he was still under The First’s control, and Spike?’
‘You should be happy that Xander doesn’t still want to stake you on sight.’
They both looked at the ceiling. Then the floor. And shuffled their feet a little.
‘All right. Now are we done here? Because to say that I’m pooped would be a major understatement, and unless there’s anything else, I thought I might go to bed now.’
The angle of Willow’s chin indicated very clearly to both of them that she didn’t expect anything less than an answer in the affirmative.
‘Great!’ she said cheerily. ‘Don’t forget to lock the door when you leave.’ And with that, she closed the reference book she had been using, tucked it securely under her arm and disappeared out of the room, the fading sound of her footsteps leading up and away from them as she headed towards her bedroom, the soft sound of Kennedy’s welcoming voice audible only to Spike’s discerning ear.
‘Well, that’s that then. We’re completely buggered. Again.’
‘I guess,’ said Xander dejectedly.
‘Now?’ Xander sighed heavily. ‘Come on, Spike, we need to go.’
‘I don’t need to go anywhere.’ Spike dug his heels in, reminding Xander very much of a stubborn, if rather blond, mule.
‘Yes we really do,’ Xander said, changing tack and moving around behind the vampire to try pushing him.
‘No we don’t.’
‘Yes we do.’
Xander put his shoulder against Spike’s back and pushed, to no avail, his feet skidding uselessly over the linoleum tiles of the kitchen floor.
‘No we don’t.’
He gave up trying to push the immovable vampire statue across the floor. ‘Yes we do, because I--’ Xander gritted his teeth and scowled.
‘Because why?’ asked Spike, quirking an eyebrow.
Spike folded his arms across his chest.
‘Why?’ he asked, very slowly, eking the word out so he could inject the maximum dose of condescending smugness into it.
Xander closed his eyes momentarily and took a deep, cleansing breath, then leant in and whispered in the vampire’s ear.
Spike’s eyes widened in alarm.
‘Yes I do.’
‘No you bloody well don’t!’
‘Yes I bloody well do.’
Spike’s mouth was an open ‘O’ of horror. ‘But-but-but you can’t!’
‘I can and I will.’
‘But I haven’t had to do... to see that in over a century.’ He refolded his arms firmly across his chest. ‘You’ll just have to hold it.’
‘For three days?’ Xander spluttered. ‘I don’t think so.’
Xander set off again, letting them out the back door and dutifully locking it behind them, and this time a shell-shocked Spike let himself be led along behind.
‘What are you doing?’
‘I thought I might find a nice secluded bush that I could hide behind, unless, of course, you’d like to accompany me into a nice, brightly lit bathroom and watch me relieving myself?
‘Right then,’ Spike said purposefully, taking the initiative and striding across the Summers’ lawn and around to the side of the house. ‘There’s a nice bush just around the corner that’s good and leafy. Great for hiding beh-- I mean, no one should see you there. Least of all me.’
Just under two minutes later, Spike strode back across the lawn, dragging an irate, dark-haired figure behind him. The figure was obviously preoccupied with hastily trying to refasten his pants.
‘Stop pulling, moron!’
Spike came to an exasperated halt, and spun around to face Xander with a growl.
‘Sod this. Let’s just go home.’
‘I couldn’t agree more,’ Xander snapped, angrily fastening the last button of his fly with a flourish.
They each set off for home, only to find they were headed in different directions, their arms stretched out between them and then being yanked back into each other’s personal space.
‘Where the hell are you going?’ they cried simultaneously.
‘Home!’ came the indignant answer.
‘But home’s that--’ Xander pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. He trailed off as Spike’s expression shifted and he looked away, pretending to squint at something in the distance. Xander realised that the vampire had been heading back towards Buffy’s house.
‘Yeah,’ Spike sniffed nonchalantly. ‘Right. ‘course. Habit. I’m just everyone’s favourite basement mascot.’
‘Aw, poor baby,’ Xander said sarcastically, but felt his anger towards the vampire slip just a little. With a reluctant raise of his chin in the general direction of his apartment, they set off towards it, walking side by side, each step leading them further away from Buffy’s basement and closer towards his apartment.
‘Listen,’ Xander said after a few moments of grudging silence, ‘if it makes you feel any better, I can tie you up and you can sleep in the chair again. It’ll be like old times.’
‘Yeah?’ said Spike, his face a harsh, pale glare in the overhead buzz of street lighting. ‘And how’re you planning on doing that exactly?’
‘What do you--?’
A now familiar, dully glinting, solid looking chain rattled slightly between them.
‘Proverbial penny dropped, has it?’ Spike smirked, striding more purposefully towards Xander’s home. ‘I get the right side of the bed, mate, and unless you’ve got any p.j.s that don’t have cartoon characters on ‘em, I’m sleeping in the buff.’
Xander was too horrified to speak.
‘Here. Black shorts. Black t-shirt. Ooh, look, more black t-shirts. And here’s some sweatpants if you want them. Good, big, sturdy sweatpants that’ll keep you all nice and covered up. And here - ‘ Xander finally straightened up from the drawer he was going through and held up yet another garment in triumph, ‘ - here is another t-shirt for you, just in case you feel like wearing more than one. Y’know, just in case.’
The first thing he saw was the huge pile of black clothing that had collided with Spike, bounced off him, and was now sitting in disarray in a heap beside a pair of ancient, battered boots, worn proudly on ancient vampire feet; and the second thing he noticed was that the ancient vampire attached to the feet in question, was chuckling at him.
Spike only laughed harder.
‘Think about it, Brainiac. How’re you planning to get changed?’
‘Well I... same way I always do. I put my pants on one leg at a time, same as the next guy.’
‘Trousers, yeah, no problem, but how’re you planning to get me to wear a t-shirt?’
‘You’re not sleeping naked!’
‘Okay,’ Spike repeated slowly, ‘I’m not sleeping naked. But how are we supposed to put on t-shirts? Think about it.’
‘Oh.’ Xander felt a little deflated. ‘Right. Of course. Looks like we’re sleeping in our clothes for three days then.’
‘And the whelp finally catches on.’ Spike rolled his eyes. ‘S’alright for you. You don’t have a vampire’s sense of smell,’ he grumbled, then made a show of sniffing the air. ‘In fact, you don’t exactly smell fresh as a daisy now. I’ll be choking for air by day three.’
‘I am so fresh as a daisy!’ Xander retorted before he could stop himself. Realising what he’d just said, he clenched his teeth and counted to ten before speaking again. ‘What I meant was: I don’t smell, and you don’t have to breathe, so I don’t foresee a problem.’
Spike rolled his eyes again.
‘Now if you’re quite finished, I’d like to get some shut-eye.’
‘Rightio.’ Spike walked to the window, dragging Xander with him, and made sure that the curtains were securely drawn, insuring that no stray ribbons of sunlight would be able to reach him come daybreak. When he was happy with the alignment of the curtains, he toed off his boots and made a beeline for the bed, kicking the pile of black clothes out of his way in the process. ‘I get the right side.’
‘Sure. Of course. Whatever you say.’
Xander was dragged up onto the bed, and watched with jealous annoyance, as Spike seemed to simply melt into the pillows, looking instantly asleep. Actually, he looked instantly dead, but Xander had seen the vampire sleeping before and somehow the effect wasn’t as unnerving as it once had been. Now he just looked quite peaceful, in an irritatingly disagreeable, annoyingly blond sort of a way.
‘Hit the light, mate,’ Spike said without opening his eyes.
‘Yes, master,’ said Xander, reaching across the vampire’s motionless body to turn off the bedside lamp. As the room was suddenly plunged into darkness, Xander flinched away at the sound of Spike inhaling deeply.
‘Not bad so far,’ a deep voice rumbled through the darkness as Xander lay back on the bed, stretching the chain of the handcuffs as far as it would go. ‘Not a daisy by any means, but not too bad at all.’
‘Shut up, Spike’
‘Haven’t we played this record before? Isn’t this the part where I ask you if you care about me?’
‘Shut up, Spike.’
‘How about if you just call me “master” again?’
Unseen in the inky blackness, Spike grinned, and drifted off to sleep.
How had he ended up here? This place was all the way over on the other side of town, and how had he managed to break out of the handcuffs? Unless it was another spell. Unless something else had happened that he couldn’t remember. What if he had hurt someone else?
Oh god. What if he’d killed someone else?
Xander. What if he had done something to Xander? He couldn’t remember hurting him. Couldn’t remember getting free, but his memory was a sketchy, unreliable thing at best, full of Swiss cheese holes these days. What if they’d all been fooled? It wouldn’t be the first time. What if he wasn’t free of The First like they thought? He’d trusted them. Trusted their knowledge. Trusted Buffy’s judgement, trusted the Watcher’s stupid little stone that had burrowed right into his brain, and yet now he was here, and he didn’t know why.
Oh God. What if he’d killed someone else?
Someone like the man he held in his fists right now. The man who’s face was puffy and broken and bleeding because Spike had made it so. It had only taken a touch, really, only the lightest of caresses. It was almost certain that he didn’t deserve this treatment. He was just a child. Just a child like they all were - lost in the rain, scared and alone. Spike was the only adult here. The only one with the experience to know better. The only one who had seen the other side and lived to tell the tale.
Well, perhaps not the only one, but he was one of the few.
One of the chosen few.
And he was so sorry. It wasn’t his fault, but damn it all, he was sorry anyway.
#Early one morning, just as the sun was rising,
I heard a young maid sing in the valley below.
“That’s a nice little song you got there.”
The song stopped as he turned to face the music.
“Thanks, doc. You cured me after all. I got my own free will, now. I’m not under The First’s or anyone else’s influences now. I just wanted you to know that...”
The vampire. The demon. The monster. It was here. It was him.
“... before I kill you.”
‘Spike! No, don’t do it!’
With the beaten, defeated man hanging from his fists, he paused, looking around at the intruding voice, his eyes watering at the sight of the hundreds of crosses on the walls.
Strange how her name sounded different through an altered mouth, elongated and warped and slightly gassy as it travelled through his fangs. It had been a while since he had shown his true face. The demon still buzzed and strained inside his head, but it was William who was in control here. It was William who set the rules. William, dear, sweet, pathetic William, who had fallen into the trap of familiarity and complacency, and was it really his fault that he had grown used to this over the years?
‘Spike. Let him go. It’s over now.’
‘It’s not over,’ he insisted. ‘I was only trying to teach him a lesson.’
‘It’s over,’ she repeated, and the finality in her words was like a heartbreak to him.
From nowhere, a stake appeared in her hand, shimmering and golden and just and righteous and -- nothing but a shard of wood -- with tears in her eyes, Buffy walked slowly towards him.
‘I knew it. You are nothing. You’re disgusting. You’re a thing. A monster.’ The tears were running freely down her cheeks now as she advanced on him. ‘I hate you. I can’t believe I ever let you anywhere near me. Can’t believe I trusted you.’
‘Where’s all this coming from, luv? I thought we were long past the “Spike, you’re a pig” stage.’
‘Let him go, Spike. Just let him go.’ Her voice was hard, but full of sorrow. That much was fitting. After all she was the Slayer, and this her lot in life.
‘Fine,’ he answered churlishly, letting go of Principal Wood, not even bothering to watch as the man crumpled to the floor. Instead he watched Buffy’s eyes track her boss’ path as he dropped, hit the floor, and then there was a loud silence.
‘How could you?’ she whispered, her knuckles clenched white on the stake she was holding.
And how long had it been since she held a stake and it had actually frightened him? Since it had been any more than a weapon they shared in battle, fighting side by side, or worse... as foreplay? Now there was nothing. Just a little girl with a pointy stick, crying empty tears for the demon who had dared to love her. Just the same game that they’d been playing for months, years, lifetimes, dancing around each other.
Except it wasn’t.
He was different now, couldn’t she see that? All the father’s sins were forgiven in a microsecond whenever the angel, whenever the soul, came back, but William? Spike? Oh no, not Spike. Different vampire, different hair colour, different set of rules applied. He loved her as a demon, willingly changed his unlife for her in ways she would never be able to comprehend, and yet this was all he got - tears and empty threats, and somehow, somewhere along the line, this had stopped being enough.
Was that such a surprise?
‘How could I what?’ He took an exasperated step towards her, pausing when she drew herself up to her full height and glared sharply at him, stake held high, ready to strike.
‘Look, Buffy, he brought me here. That little scheme he must have cooked up with Giles to get me out of the picture once and for all? Look at this place - the crosses? He-he even played my song, brought out the demon so he could feel all manly and justified when he beat on me.’
Her gaze darted around the room, taking in the crosses on the walls, the computer set up in the corner and the bruises adorning his face. Then she looked back to the mangled body on the floor and the bloodstains around Spike’s mouth.
‘Not good enough.’
‘Not good enough!’ He threw his hands into the air. ‘Well what exactly would you have me do? Just let him stake me so that he’d feel better about his mum? Can I just say how much I don’t like that plan?’
‘You didn’t have to kill him.’
It left his body in a cold rush -- the anger, the indignity at how unfair this all was, abandoned him, until all that was left was an ancient man, standing in a garage in the suburbs, being watched by a sad, young girl with a heavy burden.
And a dead body in the corner.
‘Kill...? I didn’t kill him. Just taught him a lesson. He’s still...’
He spun around to look at Principal Wood - Wood. The man’s name is Robin Wood. You killed his mother. You ruined his life before it had even truly begun, and now you’ve gone and taken care of the rest of the family line. Well done, mate, you’ve outdone yourself - his body lying at an unnatural angle on the floor. Head tilted back, eyes open and unseeing.
Spike fell to his knees, heedless of the pain that lanced up through his thighs when he hit the naked concrete floor.
‘But-but I didn’t mean to.’
‘But you did,’ her voice spoke from behind him.
‘No,’ he whispered.
‘I thought they were wrong, Spike. I thought you were a warrior for good now. Looks like they were right. I should have killed you myself. A long time ago.’
Behind him, unseen, a stake was raised and he felt it in the air above him. Strong, righteous, deserved, and just full to bursting with untapped potential energy. Clasping his hands together in his lap, he lowered his head in a parody of prayer.
‘It’s all I deserve,’ he agreed with a miserable nod.
‘Sorry, William,’ her voice whispered.
‘S’alright, pet. Just doing your job, I know.’
There was a hand on his shoulder, shaking him.
Spike, you need to wake up.
‘Goodbye,’ said Buffy.
‘Bye,’ he said simply, sadly. Squeezing his eyes shut against the tears that threatened to fall. This wasn’t how the Big Bad was supposed to go out, there was no honour here, no redemption, no fortune and glory - but it would do.
Spike, you moron! Wake up!
Spike! Damn it. Wake UP!
Spike sat bolt upright in bed, dragging a disgruntled Xander with him.
‘Jesus, Spike, do you always make that much noise when you have a nightmare?’
‘I was dreaming?’
‘Yeah.’ Some of the anger seemed to bleed out of Xander’s voice. ‘Sounded like a doozy.’
‘I was dreaming.’ Spike swallowed a gasp, blinking rapidly as he looked around the room.
Xander’s room. I was here the whole time. With Xander. Handcuffed. Safe. Everyone’s safe.
Slowly, he lay back down and forced himself not to shuffle closer to the patch of warmth that he lay just on the edge of. Beside him, Xander tried not to frown, tried not to care, fidgeting slightly as he tried to find the optimum position on the bed - comfortable, but as far from Spike as he could possibly get without either falling off the bed, or cutting off circulation to his hand.
‘What does a bloodsucker dream about, anyway? Electric vampire sheep?’
‘Lots of things,’ Spike said cryptically, closing his eyes and turning his face toward the wall.
Continued in Day Two.