What's every vampire's favorite holiday? Why, the Night of St. Vigeous, of course! This Spuffy-centric remix of "Real Me" clocks in at 3400 words and a PG-13 rating. Much love to my beta, angearia, who went above and beyond to make this story more awesome!
Nota bene: For the purposes of continuity which I totally ignored while I was writing this, Giles acquired the Magic Box during the interval between "Buffy vs. Dracula" and the events of this story.
Giles peered down his nose at me and sighed.
"Is it Dracula again?" I asked, plunking down on the stairs to the Magic Box loft.
He began to polish his glasses. Guess I'm not Bronzing it tonight. "No, Buffy" — that sigh again — "I'm afraid it's much worse. You see, this Friday... is the Night of St. Vigeous."
I relaxed. This was high school stuff. Easy as cake. "Is there something else going on?"
"No, I do believe that is all. However, the Night of St. Vigeous is taken very seriously by some v—"
Thankfully, Giles was interrupted by the clanging bell of the Magic Box door. Great. My sister. This was totally going to improve my day.
Dawn sat down on the floor next to me and flopped disconsolately against my leg. "Ms. Arnold assigned us five pages of math homework, and I hate math, and Mom won't let me watch Gilmore Girls until I get my homework done." She leaned back and stared up at me mournfully. "My life is over."
"Welcome to adulthood, kiddo," sayeth I.
Of course, to put the maraschino cherry atop the banana split of my day, Spike was lurking in the shade of my front porch when I got home. (By the way, I don't like maraschino cherries. I usually give them to Dawn.) I shooed Dawn in the house and shouted something encouraging after her. Then I turned my attention to Spike, who was grinding out his cigarette beneath his boot. "Please explain, why, exactly, you and your cigarette are on my highly flammable porch?"
He just rolled his eyes. "Come this Friday, you're goin' to have bigger problems than me—"
"Yeah, yeah, Night of St. Vigeous, know all about that." I crossed my arms. "Any other reason I shouldn't be putting you out to pasture about now?"
"Slayer, I think you've got your metaphors crossed there." Whatever. "Word's out that there's a new gang in town with some plans for you and yours, and they're a little, uh, unusual."
"Is it Dracula again?"
Spike made a choking sound and coughed loudly. At least, I think he was coughing. "No, actually—"
"I don't need your help." I tried to look Giles-y. "I am perfectly capable of handling a little vampire problem on my own, thank you very much."
He cocked an eyebrow. One thing about Spike, that eyebrow thing he does is pretty—"Believe that your mum was the one who had to crash the party last time, pet." —evil. Evil. Not sexy at all—
God. I need to wash my brain out with soap. Sexy, soldier soap. Yeah. "That's not going to happen this time," I informed him. "Anyway, I got Mom her own axe."
Before he could reply, I marched inside the house, slammed the door, and threw myself down on the couch. (Mom really needs to get us a chaise longue for these moments.) Stupid vampires. At least Principal Snyder wasn't breathing down my back.
"Buffy, do you remember anything about algebra?"
Oh, no. I had someone far worse to contend with. "That's the one with all the letters, right?" I shouted back. I'm not dumb, ok. I just, you know, had better things to do in math class. Like battle plans. (I wonder if UC Sunnydale still has a course on military strategy? Gotta ask Riley about that one.)
"You bet," I mumbled, and sighed loud enough that Dawn probably heard it in her bedroom. Maybe I could take a nap before Mom got home and got mad at me for not taking off my shoes before my dramatic collapse on the couch.
Predictably, a sharp rap on the door pulled me back to the world of the living just as I was dozing off. "Slayer! You in there? Some blighters made off with my blanket—"
I was already at two maraschino cherries, and it wasn't even four o'clock.
"It wasn't so bad last time," I said, letting my head dangle off the edge of the bed. "I don't know why everyone is making such a big deal out of this."
Willow wrinkled her nose. It was weird how her face looked like another face except with a weird frowny line for her mouth when I was upside down. "You didn’t have to spend all night in a utility closet with Cordelia. Praying."
"There's nothing wrong with praying," I offered neutrally. I generally put more stock in a nice trunk of weapons, myself, but I realize that's not appropriate for all situations. "Totally normal utility closet behavior."
"I don’t think Cordelia's normal utility closet behavior is intended to bring her closer to God." Willow wrinkled her nose again. "Anyway, Buff, I don't understand why you're not taking this more seriously. I know that this isn't on the same level as Dracula, but—"
"I'm just fine!" She looked hurt. I relented. Yeah, I've been on edge since my little tango with Mr. Batty, which was about an 8.5 on my wig-o-meter. Not so much with the bitey, you know? But let's look on the bright side. "That was pretty freaky," I admitted in what I hoped was a Willow-reassuring tone. "But these are just garden variety vamps. As long as nothing b—"
Willow clamped a hand over my mouth, and I stared into her upside-down eyes. "I think all the blood rushing to your head is getting to you," she said charitably.
I sat up and put my head between my knees. "What's up, ladies?" Xander had apparently returned from his emergency donut run.
"We're screwed," I moaned into my new capris.
Xander patted my back with his free hand.
I patrolled with the rest of the Scoobies for a few hours, but I sent them home around eleven when it was clear that this would just be another boring Tuesday night. Riley protested, but finally left after another half hour of Grouchy Buffy. It wasn’t all Drac-jitters, either — the Mesopotamian lunar cycle apparently had a nasty habit of syncing up with mine. Like I needed some other reason for vampires to come at me like heat-seeking missiles.
So, by the time I smelled the tell-tale smoke just inside the gates of Restfield, my bad mood had increased exponentially. (Take that, Dawn. I'll show you variables!) Maybe even logarithmically.
"Slayer," he growled. Dammit, sexy growl. I added butterscotch sauce to the evil calorie tally board. (I loathe butterscotch even more than I loathe Spike, which, I gotta say, is pretty impressive.) "Slayer. You've got to listen to me—"
"Broken record much?" I averted my eyes and started to march off to the back of the cemetery. In the process, I almost tripped over Alma Tisdale, laid to rest October 13, 1909, but thankfully my Slayer reflexes kicked in and I made it look like an almost-on-purpose leap.
Spike caught up to me quickly. "It's not what you think. Harmony—"
"Harmony? Harmony?!" I had to laugh. So much for the undead vampire biker gangs that had been threatening to haunt my dreams. Undead Barbie was the least of my worries. "What is she going to do, come after me with a legion of vampire chihuahuas?"
"'s not you I'd be worryin' about, love. She's got a bunch of minions to join her little fashion club, an' she knows where you and mum and sis live." Spike shot me a very convincing look of concern. Then he cleared his throat. "I'm... I'm the master vampire of Sunnydale, all right? This is my territory. And— and I'm supposed to have the minions!"
Like I cared. "Mom has an axe," I reminded him, as I turned around and started walking slowly but purposefully in the opposite direction. "They'll be fine." Except that Mom wasn't going to be home until really late. Tara was babysitting, and both of them knew better to invite anyone into the house, and Dawn knew we kept the axe in the umbrella stand, but....
"Couldn't hurt to be cautious," he said.
Normally, Spike vamping out would not have intimidated me at all. Of course, I'd never tried to steal his car before.
"My precious," he said, leaning in the doorway (and over Tara's prone body), and moaning in distress. "What have you done to her?"
"I don't think I broke anything," I said weakly, trying to shift the weight off my left ankle. Note to self: Slayer coordination does not extend to manual transmissions.
"Like hell." Spike spun around and clutched my shoulders with an iron grip. (Chip? Where are you when I need you?) "You are never going to so much as touch my car again, Slayer. You will not breathe within 50 yards of h—"
"I have to get Tara to the hospital!"
He looked at Tara, and his face lost its bumpies. "Glinda's got more sense than the lot of you put together. Can't have her dyin' on us now." He climbed into the driver's seat, and gently set her laid her across his lap.
"What did I say about breathing, Slayer?"
He peeled out of the driveway before I could come up with an adequate retort.
Well, I guess that if there was ever a time for Spike to go Lifetime movie on us, this was it. I almost didn't hate him for about half an hour. (Should not-hate go on my sundae? Ugh.) I spent most of that half hour staring at the note, which was written in glow-in-the-dark pink gel pen on a black sticky note with metallic gold underlining for emphasis. Harmony dotted her i's with little hearts. I wanted to stake her with one of Dawn's Lisa Frank pencils, but I couldn't make myself go into her room to look for one.
Mom took one look at me, the axe, and the table, and the first words out of her mouth were "Buffy Anne Summers!"
There was no good way to explain this. "Mom," I said, "Dawn invited a vampire into the house."
"Always," Mom said, "Always blaming your sister." She took a deep breath. "Now, Buffy. Start at the beginning."
Mom sent me to my room. Sometimes being the Slayer with family and friends really has its un-benefits.
I had changed into appropriate recon clothes (perfectly broken-in jeans, cute halter top, ass-kicking ankle boots) and was checking the under-bed weapons stash when someone tapped on my window. (Yeah, "someone," like I didn't know exactly who it was.) I swore under my breath. "Go away!"
So much for that famed vampire hearing. After a few minutes, I gave up and let Spike into my room. "You've got Red to revoke her invitation, right?" he said, as if that were an adequate explanation.
"Not yet." I kicked a stray bra under the bed. "And I should revoke your invitation," I grumbled, but half-heartedly. It was hard to get up adequate rage when Spike was currently greeting Mr. Gordo with the sort of raised eyebrow that meant I needed to start ushering him out of my bedroom five minutes ago.
(A girl can have fantasies, ok? Sick, naughty fantasies, admittedly, but it's all Willow's fault, and I am totally blaming her for this forever, and well, I'm pretty sure Riley's never even heard the word "roleplay," at least, I hope—)
"Stop raising your eyebrow." He didn't, of course. "Anyway, your girlfriend—" "'s not my girlfriend!" "—is having an evil slumber party with my sister right now," I finished. "Kindly divulge the location of her lair."
"She's not my girlfriend," he muttered sullenly, sticking his hands in his pockets.
I am totally invulnerable to those tight pants, even though they could have shared equal billing with David Bowie's in Labyrinth. "Yeah, whatever. Just because she's decided to take a leaf out of Codependent No More doesn't mean you don't know where she's hiding my sister."
"You like the show, huh, Slayer?" His cool blue eyes met my guilty ones. Shit.
I shoved him against my closet in hopes of distracting him. "Are you deaf? Because according to this bottle of holy water, you might be needing to learn sign language sometime soon."
"Going to pour it in my ears, are you?" Well, I hadn't actually thought that far. "Never mind, never mind," he sighed. "I'll show you."
In carefully heart-be-dotted printing, the note read, Your sister will be returned unharmed if you challenge us on the Night of St. Vigeous! If not, we'll eat her! Don't bother looking — she's not in Sunnydale. Meet us at Sunnydale High right before midnight, and I'll show you who's boss.
I looked at it one more time before crumpling it and tossing it in the trash can. Somehow, I had a feeling that Harmony was biting off a little more than she could chew.
"Here's the plan," I said to Spike while I rummaged through the weapons trunk downstairs. "We get Dawn now. Then we call an emergency Scooby meeting and come back for the rest of them before sunset."
"You keep bandying this 'we' word about, Slayer. Wasn't aware that I had signed up for anything." He looked out toward the window. "Sun's rising, anyhow."
"Oh no." I stood up, crossbow in hand. "You don’t get to back out of this, Mr. Master Vampire of Sunnydale. This is your ex-girlfriend and your ex-girlfriend's minions, I'm not restoring your manhood for you. And before you say something gross about your manhood, I'm pretty sure vampires don't grow those back," I added, detecting an impending smirk.
"Just how do you propose getting the two of us out in the north woods in direct sunlight?" he asked, leaning back against the wall. I waited for the realization to hit him. "Oi! Slayer! You are not taking my bloody car again—"
Spike sulked the whole way to Harmony's lair, which distinctly improved my mood. I did keep my eyes trained on the six square inches of exposed window just in case the sulking threatened to turn Byronic.
"It's about forty paces off," he said when he finally pulled the car to a stop. "Get a blanket out of the back, all right?"
"Don't you start, pet," he growled. "You want me stakin' by your side, you're going to get me a blanket."
"Fine." Stupid sexy growl.
We began the trek into the woods, which were still sparse this close to town. Harmony's lair was underground; this was fortunate, considering that the combination of Spike and daylight was not exactly inconspicuous.
"Hold the blanket higher," I hissed. "Your forehead is smoking."
"That what you look for in a man, Slayer?"
I let the flames do the talking for me.
As it turned out, Harmony was not too hard to find, with all of the balloons she'd tied next to the entrance of the cave. She must have heard us outside, because just as we approached the threshold, she came running up to the front of the cave. "Spikey! I mean, Spike! I thought I told you never to come here ag— Oh!" She saw me. "You cheater! You— you jerk!"
He held up his hands. "Harm, it's not what it looks like—"
I kicked him into the cave before he caught on fire.
As it turned out, Harm's minions could probably have been killed by the lemonade I served at that Parent Teacher Night. I got two of them before I'd even set foot in the main chamber and seen Dawn tied up against the wall of the cave. As for Spike, I had no idea that you could do so much with a wooden unicorn. (And if I had, well, never mind. That's totally not going into my imaginary sexytime bank at all.) Within a few minutes, the fight was down to me, Spike, Harmony, and some guy I could swear was in my old gym class. Dawn was watching us eagerly and cheering Spike on. Not like I was doing anything to save her ungrateful little butt, oh no. Brat.
Gym boy and I squared off, and I didn't pay too much attention to Spike and Harmony for a while. When I had moved into post-workout dustoff mode, I went to untie Dawn and noticed that Spike had Harmony pinned up against the wall. Her own unicorn. What a way to go, huh?
"Don't want to stake you, Harm," he was saying. "I told you to keep your hands off the Slayer and her fam, yeah? The Slayer is mine, you forget that?"
She was all apologies, "Sorry, Spikey!" and "I didn't mean to," looking from his face to the unicorn and back again. I felt kind of bad for her, and worse for Spike. (Full-fat whip cream, if you please.) Even if they murdered your friends and tormented your family, it was never easy to kill an ex.
Dawn's scream kind of ruined the pathos.
The minion who'd been hiding underneath Harmony's bed met a pearly unicorn end as I dived in front of my sister. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harmony and a unicorn-themed Lisa Frank TrapperKeeper moving toward the exit, but I let her go. It wasn't like she was going to get too far under the morning sun, after all.
I finished untying Dawn while Spike checked the rest of the cave for stragglers. Once she was down, I hugged her so hard that she started poking me to remind me that she needed to breathe. I eased up, and found that I was sniffling. "Don't ever invite a vampire in the house again, you idiot," I mumbled into her ear.
"Not even Spike?" she asked.
"No one has uninvited me yet," Spike said, sounding amused.
"Don't push your luck." (I couldn't hate him at all right now. That jerk.)
On our way out, I torched the army of My Little Ponies and unicorn figurines with the warm, fuzzy feeling of a job well done. And who could blame me for feeling a little satisfaction when we arrived at the entrance to the cave?
"The bitch stole my blanket!"
That evening, pizza, emergency Scooby snacks, and the return of Dawn turned into quite a party. Spike somehow managed to eat all of the Hawaiian pizza by himself, and, rather generously, I resisted the urge to tattle on him to Xander.
As the party began to wind down, I took the veggie tray out onto the back porch and started in on the celery, which had been sorely neglected by some people who apparently didn't care about their daily recommended fiber intake. It took two whole celery sticks before I heard the unmistakable flicking of his lighter.
"It's our anniversary, Slayer," Spike murmured. Dark porch, sexy saving-the-day Spike — this was doing evil things to my panties. Not just bad, evil. And why was I wearing cute panties today, exactly?
I managed to dredge up a grumble. "Still crashing my parties and failing to kill my family members, I see. Also? Not so much with the, uh, schedule..." I couldn't quite finish. That evil feeling had slowly diffused all over my body, hot and heady, and I could feel him standing behind me, almost touching, but not quite. He took a drag on his cigarette and exhaled, the smoke tickling my ear. The space between us seemed way too big, and way too small, all at the same time.
"Fee, fi, fo, fum," he whispered into my ear. "I smell the blood of a nice, ripe..."
"Oh?" When I turned around, my face was so close to his, and I closed my eyes, and—
"When it's worth it, Slayer," he said, "I do know how to wait."
He was halfway across the lawn by the time I came to my senses.
I'm going to kill him on Friday. I'm going to do it right, once and for all.
I'm going to do...