Fic: Riddled (4/4)
Thanks and hugs to slackerace. Thank you everyone for reading and commenting, and thanks to effulgent_girl for sharing the day with me.
WARNING: torture and disturbing imagery
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, just the story.
Feedback: Your last chance!
Blurb: "How is a vampire who won't talk like an apple?"
It wasn't over.
Buffy should have known. Within days, she had to start carrying a short and long sword on patrol to fend off the Knights of Byzantium. They were only humans, but because of that, they were at an advantage, since she refused to kill them. After several nights of fights to a draw with small bands, she'd found herself having to sprint all over town to lose the scattered pockets of lurkers trying to follow her home.
Two nights later, Spike said he had something to show her, and led her to the woods behind Shady Rest Cemetery, where they had apparently been making their camp.
The Knights would not be bothering her anymore.
Wheeling away, she strode back toward the cemetery, feeling bile rise in her throat for the second time in weeks.
Back on familiar ground she wheeled around and accused, "You did this!"
"Not myself," Spike said, gesturing at his head. "I let it be known that those Ren-Fair rejects were enemies of the Slayer, and she wouldn't object to their being killed.
"Good eating, once you got past the sharp and pointy bits. Which they neatly avoided by attacking just before dawn. Hit the sentries all at once before they could raise the alarm..."
Buffy felt cold. "You... you planned it for them?"
Spike shrugged. "They were fledglings. Minions. They couldn't plan their way out of a wet paper sack."
She seized him by the lapels of his coat. "Where. are. they."
"Hey now." He shook himself free. "I promised them immunity from the Slayer on this one. Kill 'em on patrol if you want, but you can't hunt 'em. You can't be seen going back on your word. Bad for your reputation."
"My reputation!" Buffy spat. "What does it do to my reputation if I'm seen to let demons kill human beings who are inconvenient to me?"
"Improves it, actually."
"Demons respect ruthlessness."
Buffy made a high pitched huff.
"Half your power is in your rep. You run this town because you're seen to be an implacable foe and bloody menace to our kind."
"You let them think I condoned murder!" Buffy seethed at him.
"But you didn't. You're still pure and good. Which is more important to you, what you've done, or what people -- demons -- think you've done?"
Buffy shook her head. She was not ready to deal with Spike's convoluted take on morality.
"You listen to me pet." Spike grasped her upper arms until her furious gaze met his. "Those knight buggers were more than sodding inconvenient to you and yours. They were on a bloody mission from God. They were after the bit, and they weren't going to stop until every one one of them was dead, or she was. Your delicate sensibilities wouldn't let you give them the trip to meet their maker they so richly deserved, so I sorted it."
Sorted it. Right. Because that's all they were to a soulless vampire. Little cogs to be sorted into the box marked 'Dead'. "How many?"
"How many knights were there? How many men did you have killed in my name?"
"Dunno. Couple dozen. What does it matter?"
She shook her head, a denial of more than his question. "I thought... I was starting to think..."
His eyes softened. His face was still shiny around the edges. He was regarding her so tenderly, she had to look away.
"I was starting to think we might find some common ground, that we might..." She shook her head again. "Turns out this," her eyes flitted around the graveyard around them, "is all the ground we have."
She left him standing there.
"I heard about what you did."
He looked up to see Rupert Giles standing just inside his door. Spike made a quick flick of his eyes to check for weapons, then replied, "Yeah? Bet Buffy was still right hacked off."
Spike hitched a hip up onto his sarcophagus. "So, you here for the next round of berating, or to permanently correct my evil ways." He didn't seem overly concerned either way, merely curling over slightly to light a cigarette.
"I'm here to thank you."
Spike's lighter clicked shut.
"I was considering taking steps myself. The Council has ways of dealing with the humans that periodically threaten the Slayer."
Spike gave a pointed puff on his smoke. "You were taking your sweet time about it."
"For reasons that should be obvious, I was hesitant to call upon them. But they would have handled it, had I asked. Slayers cannot be allowed to countenance the killing of human beings. It leads to them taking on human battles, and that can have grave consequences. For themselves and for their countrymen."
"Joan," Spike breathed in realization.
"And Boadicea. Among others. In any case, you saved me from having to do it."
Spike's eyes narrowed. "And from the Slayer's wrath."
"Yes. You have cost yourself quite a bit of her goodwill."
Spike folded his arms. "I'm always going to put keeping Buffy and her sis alive ahead of staying in her good graces." He gave Giles a defiant glare. "Or yours."
"And that may be why you're the closest you've ever been to being in them."
"Good night, Spike." Rupert shut the door behind him as he left.