Title: Making it Work (early season four)
Word count: 20,000 ++
Rating: Strong R or NC17?
Disclaimer: Joss’s characters, I just tweaked the season a little. (Okay, I tweaked it a lot. Don’t sue me!)
Summary: Continues from two Schmoop Bingo ficlets (I'll provide links as soon as I have time) in which a drunk Spike comes to Buffy after Dru has kicked him out again. He thinks he wants to fight her, but ends up realizing that’s not what he wants at all… In this fic, they find that their situation may not be all that unique. The question is, can an unchipped, unsouled formerly evil vampire contain his demon well enough to suit the Chosen One? Can they make it work?
Making it Work
When Buffy opened the door to Giles’ apartment a few evenings later, trailed by the vampire who’d kidnapped Willow and Xander the last time he was in Sunnydale, there was a sudden scramble to get behind furniture. Giles snatched a large cross off his desk, saying, “Buffy! Behind you!” She stopped, barely inside the door, and rolled her eyes.
“It’s just Spike,” she said. “I know he’s there. You need to invite him in. Please,” she added when Giles continued to stare in horror and disbelief.
“Have you gone mad? Does he have you in thrall?”
She sighed and glanced over her shoulder to the vampire leaning against the invisible barrier. “I told you he’d freak.” Spike shrugged and turned his attention to Giles.
“She’s just as sane as she’s ever been,” he said, snorting at Buffy’s muttered, “What’s that supposed to mean?” “And I don’t know if I even have a thrall. Let me in, you bloody wanker.”
“Oh that’ll do the trick, for sure.” Buffy glared at an unrepentant Spike. “Thanks a lot.”
“Didn’t threaten to eat him, did I?” he retaliated. “Doesn’t seem very smart to be leaving the door wide open when anything except a friendly vampire could get in.”
“A friendly vampire? Since when is there such a thing as a friendly vampire? And if there was, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be it.” Xander spoke from the relative safety of the other side of the room. Spike didn’t even deign to look at him, but smiled when he saw Willow staring at him with her mouth open.
“Hello there, Red. You’re looking good tonight.” Oz silently slipped in front of Willow, clearly placing himself between her and the vampire. Spike blinked, sniffed, and smiled. “Guess the Slayer’s not the only one likes to walk on the wild—”
Buffy whirled and shoved him away from the still impenetrable doorway and following him outside. “I don’t walk—you… you…” Ignoring the gasps from within the apartment, she shook her head and sighed. “This is never going to work, Spike. I’m the Slayer; Giles is my watcher. And these are my friends.”
“Know all that, pet,” he said, frowning. “What’s your point?”
“And you’re… you’re you.” She gazed at him, not trying to hide her sadness, but with firm determination in her eyes. “I can’t do this. I can’t bring you into my watcher’s apartment, where my friends feel safe and….”
“Then I’ll jus’ wait out here for you.” He pulled out his cigarettes and stuck one in his mouth, fumbling around for his lighter.
“No,” Buffy said, lowering her voice so they couldn’t hear her inside. “I meant, I can’t… you can’t be… be… in my life. It isn’t going to work.”
“That’s it? One little unfriendly greeting from your Scooby pals, and you suddenly don’t even want to try?”
“It wasn’t unfriendly, Spike. They’re terrified of you. How the hell do I explain to them that it’s okay to let you in because when you kiss me I forget what you are?”
“Really? You do?” He straightened up and moved closer. “Then just let me—”
“No! Stay away from me!” Buffy’s raised voice carried into the apartment and Giles appeared behind her holding out a stake.
“Are you not armed?” he said with a touch of dismay. “Here, take this, quickly.”
Buffy sighed and turned her back on Spike, causing Giles to go very pale. He blinked hard when Spike made no move to attack her, only resting a hand on her shoulder. A hand that she seemed unfazed to find only inches from her throat.
“I’m fine, Giles. I don’t need that stake, I have my own.”
“Then may I ask why you haven’t used it on Spike yet?”
“Because he… I… we…” She sighed again. “We aren’t going to kill each other, Giles. Just… either let him in so we can explain, or close the door and let me finish this conversation.”
In front of Giles’ horrified gaze, she leaned back slightly, showing no fear or uncertainty when Spike brought up his other hand, holding both hands on her shoulders as they waited for Giles to answer.
“Per… perhaps it would be best if you came in and explained why he isn’t trying to kill you, and why you…. Oh, dear Lord,” he gasped when Spike’s arms dropped and slid around her in what was clearly a loose, but not unwelcome, embrace.
“You’ll have to ask him in,” she said. “If you’re still worried after you’ve heard us out—”
“If you’re worried about me sneaking in and eating you while you sleep, you can just do a disinvite spell. You know how to do that, don’t you, Watcher?”
“I do,” he said coldly, stepping back and gesturing them in. “Come in, Spike.”
Spike swaggered into the room, baring his teeth at Xander in a grin that contained no humor. More gasps and one muffled “huh” from Oz accompanied Buffy’s elbow to his ribs. Instead of retaliating, Spike just laughed and rubbed his side. “Come on, Slayer. I’m just being me.”
“I thought we’d agreed that you being you probably isn’t in the best interest of a relationship?” she muttered, trying to ignore Giles’ strangled, “relationship?”
With a sudden change in demeanor that left the humans in the room blinking, Spike’s whole expression softened as he gazed at Buffy. He raised one hand to her face, touching her cheek and whispering, “Is that what we have? A relationship?”
“Well… not… I mean… no! But if we did decide that we had one, you’d have to be nicer to my friends. And stop scaring them!”
His hand dropped, but the soft expression didn’t leave his face. “Alright, luv. I’m sorry.” He turned to the shocked people staring at them and said, “Want you to know that I would never touch a one of you. Or anyone else the Slayer cares about.”
“And we’re supposed to trust you? Just like that?”
“Slayer does,” Spike replied, staring into Giles’s cold, disbelieving eyes and ignoring the younger people.
“Buffy is an excellent slayer,” Giles said. “However, she is also a very young woman, and her hormones have been known to affect her judgment—”
Spike’s snarl interrupted Giles before he could finish his thought, but not before everyone saw the pain and anger flash across Buffy’s face.
“You owe her an apology,” Spike said, his voice low and menacing. “There’s nothing wrong with her judgment. You could question her taste in men when she was younger—” He paused when Buffy gasped indignantly, saying an apologetic shrug, “Sorry, pet, but I think we all know what he’s talking about.” Spike stared around the room, meeting the eyes of each person before moving on to the next. “I’m not Angelus. Never have been anything like that pillock—in spite of his best attempts to make me so. Got no soul to lose; not trying to pretend I’d be any different if I had one. I am who and what I am. William the Bloody.”
“And we’re supposed to find that reassuring?” Giles’ expression hadn’t softened, but he allowed the arm holding the stake to drop to his side. Buffy’s face was a study in confusion as she wondered where Spike was going with this.
“When the vamp who made his rep hunting down and fighting slayers tells you he’s going to do his best to see that this one lives long enough to watch her grandchildren grow up…” He took Buffy’s hand and raised it to his lips. He kept his eyes locked on hers, but addressed his words to Giles. “Yeah, you should find that reassuring. Not going to kill her; gonna do my best not to let anything else kill her. And I’m not plannin’ to do anything that might make her try to kill me.”
Buffy’s glare and accompanying “try?” had him fumbling to repair the damage. “ ‘Cept maybe imply she couldn’t do it. Didn’t mean that, luv. Just meant I’d not give you any reason to want to.”
“You give me reasons to want to every time you open your mouth,” she muttered, her pride still not soothed.
Giles and the Scoobies watched in disbelief as Spike whispered in her ear and brought a reluctant smile to her face. She shook her head and gave a soft laugh, saying quietly, “You’re so full of it,” as she leaned into him for a second. Before anyone could say anything else, she straightened up and turned to face her friends.
“Okay, guys, here’s the sitch. It looks like maybe there’s some reason that Spike and I haven’t killed each other yet – other than we’re pretty evenly matched and something always seems to get in the way before one of us can—” She gave herself a little shake. “Anyway, I’ve agreed that he can stay here in Sunnydale and try to prove to me that he doesn’t want to kill me anymore. And he isn’t going to be biting anyone else, either,” she added, as Giles started to speak. “He’s going to bag it until we see… until we see what we see.”
Willow’s eyes went wide. “Maybe that’s what those old books were talking about!”
“Old books?” Giles frowned in her direction, causing her to blush and stammer.
“Uh… yeah? I was sitting here one day, all bored and stuff, so I started reading some of those old Council records. You know, the really old ones that—”
“The ones clearly marked ‘For active Watchers only’?”
“Er… yes, those.” Willow’s chin rose and her voice became firmer. “The point is, one of those books talked about how Slayers sometimes have a… a…” She looked at Buffy and Spike helplessly.
“An unnatural attraction to the very creatures they are destined to kill?” Giles said, his voice dripping sarcasm.
“Yeah. That. Except the book didn’t call it ‘unnatural’, it kind of indicated it was pretty… common.”
“What????” Buffy whirled to glare at her watcher. “Is this one of those side-effecty things about being a slayer that you didn’t bother to share with me?”
“I really… there was no… Willow really should not have been going through my private collection.”
“Hey, hey!” Willow glared at him. “Don’t blame the messenger.”
Giles wiped his glasses and looked at the two very strong people staring at him with their mouths open and their eyes narrowing dangerously.
“All right. In hindsight, I may have been a bit… but, with Angel having a soul, and then leaving you, it seemed best not to mention that your… affair… was not as unique as you wanted to think it was.”
“So, what are you saying, Watcher? That the slayer only wants me because I’m a vampire? Any undead suiter would do her?” Spike seemed to working on a serious pout, and Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Nobody said I wanted you… yet,” she pointed out. “I said you could hang around and we could… could see if it’s even possible for us to—”
Giles sighed and glared at Spike. He interrupted Buffy without apology.
“No, you git, it couldn’t be any vampire. Typically – and everyone please bear in mind that, contrary to what Willow seems to believe, it is by no means a common occurrence. In the past several hundred years there have been perhaps three or four cases where a slayer has entered into a relationship with a vampire. In all cases, it was an older vampire, often a master, and the slayer had—” He paused and now did give Buffy an apologetic glance. “—had passed her Cruciamentum and was therefore of age. Buffy did not meet those criteria when she was… involved… with Angel. I tend to view their relationship as an aberration that would never have happened had he not had the soul, and had she not been so young.”
“Cruciamentum?” Spike stared at Buffy, his face darkening. “He did that to you?” He turned his head, his eyes flashing yellow and his fangs just showing behind his lips. “You let those wankers try to kill her?”
Giles flinched and brought the cross up in front of his face. Spike stepped forward and batted it away. “Something you ought to know, Watcher.” He sneered the title as if it was an obscenity. “Those religious symbols don’t intimidate older vampires. We’ve seen too much, survived too much, to be held off by a couple of crossed sticks.”
“Buffy!” To his credit, Giles did not exactly scream her name, and he did snatch a stake off the table, but he was retreating behind his desk as he did so.
Buffy stepped in front of Spike and put her hands up. “Down, boy,” she said with a pat on his chest. “Trust me, he’s sorry. I made him grovel for weeks.” She reached up and stroked his brow ridges until they smoothed out and his normal blue eyes were looking back at her. “Did you think I got to be this old without having to do it?” Her expression changed and she dropped her hand. “Or that I must not have done it because you don’t think I could possibly have lived through it?”
“Got all the faith in the world in you, luv.” He paused to kiss her hand and give Giles, still standing behind his desk and clutching the stake, a glare. “But I really thought your watcher had enough balls to stand up to the Council of Wankers and tell ‘em what they could do with their ‘test’.”
“Well, he did quit when he found out they’d set me up. Technically, he’s not a Watcher anymore.”
“Set you up?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, I’ll tell you about it later. The point is – it’s ancient history. I survived, Kralik didn’t, and you don’t get to be all indignant about something that happened while you were running around South America eating tourists.”
The look Spike sent Giles said very clearly that he wasn’t accepting Buffy’s blithe dismissal of what Giles had done to her.
Ignoring the glaring vampire, Buffy turned back to Giles. “So, this… thing… whatever it is, between Spike and me, it’s not all weird and stuff?”
“Apparently not,” he said stiffly. “Although, please bear in mind, the fact that it has happened before does not mean you are obligated to develop a relationship that you would rather not have.” He finished his little speech with a hopeful question in his voice, then groaned when Buffy blushed and Spike put his arms around her again, leaning down to whisper in her ear, increasing her blush.
The Scoobies, silent until now, stared at Buffy and Spike for a few seconds, then broke into a babble of questions and arguments against what they were seeing. Buffy just waited, still wrapped loosely in Spike’s arms, her hands gently stroking his wrists where they crossed in front of her. When the babble had died down and it was possible to pick out specific questions, she chose to answer Xander’s first.
“I do trust him, Xan. Spike has never lied to me – not about anything important, anyway. He’s already been here for a week, and he hasn’t hurt anybody. And you don’t need to worry about me giving him access to my mom’s house – I never took it away. He’s had the freedom to walk in there anytime. Ever since—“ She stopped, memories of using Spike’s help to defeat Acathla, and incidentally send Angel to hell, overwhelming her momentarily. Spike tightened his arms, offering silent support as if he understood exactly what she was thinking.
Willow quickly picked up on where Buffy’s mind had gone. “What about Angel?” she asked, frowning – whether in concern for Buffy’s feelings or for Angel’s, Buffy wasn’t sure. “Isn’t he going to—”
Spike growled softly as Buffy removed his hands and slid out of his embrace. She didn’t step away, though, holding his hands down at her sides.
“I don’t see any reason why Angel needs to know anything about this right now,” she said clearly. “Spike and me… we… we’re just going to see where this goes. Maybe… maybe it won’t go anywhere…” She squeezed his hands gently when she felt another rumble in his chest. “Maybe it’ll turn out that we don’t really like each other very much, and this is all just… physical stuff.” Buffy’s face was suffused with color as she stumbled over how to describe her newly-discovered craving for Spike’s kisses. “I mean, up until just a couple of days ago, I thought I hated him and he hated me. All we’re doing is giving it some time.”
“And what are we supposed to do in the meantime? While he’s out munching on the population?”
“Xander, I already told you, he’s bagging it while he’s here. You don’t have to do anything except promise not to try to stake him.”
She gave her best male friend a hard stare, a silent reminder that she knew of his betrayal when she’d gone to face Angelus. She’d forgiven him, knowing that she probably would have hesitated to kill Angelus when given the chance if she’d known that Willow was working on restoring his soul. However, the opportunity to kill him hadn’t presented itself until it was too late to stop; and knowing that she’d actually sent Angel to hell in order to save the world should have put to rest any doubts anyone had over her willingness to do her job.
Ignoring the various unsupportive faces in the room, Buffy continued with as much confidence as she should muster, “So, if we’re all good here, Spike and I are going out to find that blonde bitch and her gang of drop-outs and get my stuff back.”
The reminder of how Sunday had sent Buffy running and then emptied out her dorm room caused Giles to stand up straighter. “And where was William the Bloody when you got hurt?” he asked. “For all you know, he was charged with keeping you busy while they looted your room.”
Buffy started to speak, but Spike stopped her with a hand on her arm. The expression on his face was a mixture of shame and fury. “Had every intention of spending the next few days teaching that bint what it means to brass off a master vampire,” he growled. “But the Slayer wants to do it herself, so I’m respecting her wishes. I’m going to be there for the show, this time. She’s not getting’ over being sick now, and it’ll be a fair fight if I have to dust every minion myself.”
“Buffy, you do realize he is speaking of torture, do you not?”
She sighed and nodded. “Yes, Giles. In case you forgot, that skanky bitch almost broke my arm and then stole my stuff. And she’s a vamp. Pardon me if I don’t look too shocked or worried about what Spike wants to do to her.” She poked the vampire as she turned back toward the door. “But, just so you know, she is mine. You got that?”
She waved at Giles and her gaping friends, then grabbed the door and pushed Spike out in front of her. As soon as it had shut behind them, she whirled on Spike.
“If you were smart, you’d kiss me right now before I decide this is going to be more trouble than it’s worth!”
“Could never refuse a sweet invitation like that,” he said, pulling her against his body and biting her lower lip. He fastened his mouth on hers, caressing her with his lips until hers parted to let his tongue in. When Buffy had been thoroughly reminded that the former irritating bane of her existence could kiss her into a whimpering ball of hormones, they separated enough for Buffy to rest her head on his chest and gasp for air.
When he went to pull her in again, she put her hands on his chest and pushed gently. “Let’s not rush this, huh? I want to be sure before I… we…. Patience, okay?”
He snorted. “You do remember who you’re talking to, don’t you, Slayer?”
“Oh yeah. The vamp that was going to kill me on Saturday, but showed up on Wednesday. I forgot. Patience – not your thing.”
“Not even close to being my thing,” he growled, reaching for her again. He snarled when she danced away from him, shaking her finger in his face.
“Uh, uh. Behave yourself. I have skanky vampire ass to kick. You can come along and help me find her, or you can go do… “ She waved her hand around vaguely. “… whatever it is you’re going to do while you’re here and not with me.”
“The whole point of being here in this hell-hole, is to be with you.” He adjusted himself with more action than necessary, laughing when she blushed. “So, let’s go find this gang of vamps that’s interfering with my love life.”
TBC as soon as I can get the other chapters up!!!!
ETA: I was whining on DW/LJ about how when I made my permanent webpage I also spiffied up the story even more - fixing a few typos, swapping a word for something better there, changing the structure of an awkward sentence. Little things that probably (except for the typos) won't be visible to anyone but me. But I did it, and that's the version I like best. So, if anyone wants to read the final, final version, you can find it here