Word count: 2000
Setting: During an alternate* S5, after the altercation with Glory in “Blood Ties”.
Summary: Property damage has consequences.
AN: The continuing saga of Buffy's adventures in community service. Follow this link to Chapter One or this one to Chapter Two. Now beta'd by the incomparable BarbC (rahirah)!
*Quickie overview of the Vamp-Next-Door-verse: Buffy did her first few slaying years in LA, with the full knowledge of her family, and moved to Sunnydale for college. Joyce and Dawn followed a year later. Riley left town at the end of S4. Spike's been living on the Hellmouth for a few years, for Reasons. You can read all about it: On LJ / On AO3 / On BSV / On TSR / On EF
“I have always wanted to sample the rich and nectarous caramel frappucino.” said Scurvy. “I never thought that I... It is a libation fit for a god! Or so I am told.”
“Fit for any fourteen-year-old with five bucks, too,” said Spike, handing a bill to the cashier.
When their drink order was announced, Scurvy reached a tentative hand out toward the plastic cup with “Furby” scrawled down the side, but snatched it back and looked at Spike from the corner of its eye, hunching its shoulder.
“Go on. Won't drink itself,” said Spike, picking up his black coffee and walking over to a table in the back. He sprawled in one chair and pushed another away from the table with his foot in nonchalant invitation. Scurvy took the frappucino with both hands, and hurried over. It hopped up into the empty chair. Its sandaled feet swung back and forth as it regarded its coffee concoction with awe.
Spike sighed. This could take all night.
“Not a fan of Dr. Ben, I take it?” he asked.
Scurvy nearly fumbled the frappucino. “I uttered no such thing!”
“Just said you didn't serve him,” agreed Spike. “But it was more the way you said it made me think there's no love lost.”
Scurvy mumbled into its frappucino. A few phrases stood out to Spike, such as “jumped up” and “not in the same league” and “no sense of fraternal loyalty”.
“Lost me,” said Spike, sniffing with apparent disinterest. “Don't see why you'd trouble yourself with a doctor, anyhow. Not like his sort would be bothered to help your sort out, would he? Probably just run screaming if you were to need patching up, let's say.”
“Patching?” squeaked Scurvy.
“Just speaking hypothetically, here.” Spike sipped his coffee. “He ever give you so much as a band-aid?”
“No. Brother Ben does not give aid of any kind to the faithful servants of the splendiferous Glorificus. He's ungrateful in the extreme.” Scurvy frowned and then finally sucked in a mouthful of his frappucino. Its eyes bulged out and it clapped a warty hand to its brow.
Dawn chose that moment to poke her head in. She trotted over and looked at the cringing Scurvy and his enormous frappucino.
Tears welling in its eyes, it nodded.
“Sorry. That sucks.” Turning to Spike, she said, “Buffy's about done. She says we should get dinner. Like she'll eat anything anyway. Are you coming?”
Spike didn't like mysteries unless he was causing them. Buffy knew that much. So, while Dawn and Scurvy played an enthusiastic game of Go Fish, she tried to help him puzzle it out.
“They don't like each other, so why would he be a 'brother'?” she asked quietly, dipping one of the last fries in the paper ketchup cup.
“Know he's not a fellow acolyte. Doesn't feel right. There's something queer about the fellow.”
Buffy raised a brow.
“Don't start. I know you know what I mean, Slayer. Just not sure what to do about it.”
“How about we get Willow to do her magical computer-fu and see where he lives?”
Spike smiled at her. “Not a bad start, Slayer.”
They quickly sketched out a plan, and headed back to the hospital. Spike made sure Dawn and Scurvy were occupied while Buffy charmed the doctor's last name out of the admitting desk and called Willow. She came back with a slip of paper, but held it out of his reach.
“Nuh uh. I don't think you should go alone,” she said. “This is the neighborhood where I killed that snake guy Glory sent.”
“Well, you can't come with me,” he said, gesturing at Dawn and the minion. “You've got to stay here. Keep watch.” She felt her brow creasing. “One poxy human shouldn't present a problem. Besides, I've got my insurance policy.” He held up his hand, displaying a formidable collection of rings. One, she knew, was the Gem of Amara, protector of vampires.
“Neither sun, nor stakes, nor blessed water shall stay the vampire who possesses it from his rounds,” she recited. “I still don't like it.”
“I'll be careful.”
“Hmmph. I've seen what you call careful,” she said.
“Okay, I'll be sneaky, then.”
“That's more believable.” She checked the clock on the wall of the waiting room. “Call me in two hours or I'm coming after you.”
She handed over the paper with the address. Then she leaned in and gave him a kiss. Just a short one. He smiled down at her and ran a thumb over her lips. He waved at Dawn and Scurvy and left the waiting room in a swirl of black leather.
“Show off,” murmured Buffy, loud enough that she knew he'd hear her.
Spike knew that physicians these days brought in the dosh, but this elegant apartment building didn't seem like a young intern's usual habitat. It was... Well, the word was tacky. Gilt mirrors and shining marble adorned every surface — everything was as costly and cold as possible. It figured that Dr. Ben's flat would be at the very top. Spike left the golden elevator untouched and took the stairs, two at a time. When he got to the top, he looked around for surveillance cameras, but didn't see any. Ben's door stood at the far end of the hall, with no place to loiter inconspicuously between it and the stairwell.
The door to one of the adjoining apartments opened and Spike ducked back. He peered around the opening to see a brown-robed, sandaled minion balancing a stack of shoe boxes while discreetly knocking on Ben's door. The door opened, revealing another minion.
“What took you so long? She's been waiting five minutes! Woe betide you!” it hissed.
The shoe box minion scurried inside, the door closing behind it.
Spike sniffed the air and had his confirmation. There was no doubt who “she” was. Glory's expensive perfume filled his nose. He'd scented it a few times, after her attacks, but never this strong. Had he really tracked Glory to her lair? Just like that? Well, Willow had done the tracking, but the point was that Ben led straight to Glory, it seemed. He hadn't thought to get so lucky on just a hunch that something was hinky.
It didn't seem like the demon-god — or whatever she was — was likely to flee anytime soon. She had cushy digs, minions on tap, all that a brassy demon-god could need. If he didn't disturb the status quo, he and Buffy could work out a plan of attack at their leisure. They'd do it smart, this time. Not be surprised like back at the hospital on her birthday.
He turned to leave, but found a brace of minions blocking his retreat. The cosh hit his temple before he could ...
He came to hanging from the ceiling of a posh, over-upholstered lounge. He shook his head, and was immediately sorry. Seemed the Gem protected against all sorts of vampire-specific dangers, but being knocked over the head was apparently not in the brochure. He ought to ask for a refund. He felt a giggle coming on at the thought.
Spike surmised that his brains must still be scrambled. He became aware of voices behind him.
“Your lithe and loveliness, this is the vampire that assists the Slayer. Perhaps he has some knowledge of the Key?”
“Do you really think so? Vampires aren't usually so useful, Murk. Even their brains are useless. What's so special about this one?”
“I could not say, terrific and toned one. I only know that the Slayer has not dusted him, though she has had ample opportunity.”
“Let's take a look at you, Mr. Special.”
Glory stepped in front of him, her usual deranged smile firmly in place. She twirled a stake, which he was sure was from a pocket of his duster. She surveyed him like the side of beef he currently resembled.
“You don't look all that special. Except...ew!” She stepped back in disgust. “Is that a soul in there? Really? How can you stand it? It must be horrible.”
She stepped up again and patted his cheek sympathetically. He flinched.
“There, there. I can help you. I can take the pain away.”
She reared back and stabbed his heart with the stake with a quick motion, in and out. He would have screamed from the pain, but it hurt so much he couldn't make a sound, though his mouth was stretched wide open. A moment later, it didn't hurt at all.
He glanced down at his chest just as Glory tore the fabric of his punctured tee shirt aside. It was unmarked.
“Huh. You don't see that every day. Maybe you are special, after all. Let's see.”
Glory held the point of the stake to his chest and pushed it in, slower this time. He once again felt the razor's edge of indescribable torment, felt like he was dying over and over, until she withdrew the stake again and examined his unblemished pectoral. She looked at the stake, gave it a little shake and thrust it into his chest once more. She rammed it home with an extra thump on the end from the heel of her hand, then held it there. The agony of his heart unraveling and then knitting back together thousands of times in a second was beyond excruciating. She finally withdrew the stake and patted his chest as if she couldn't believe her eyes.
“How're you doing that?” she demanded. He shrugged, as best he could while dangling from the ceiling. The awful pain was gone, but the echo of it zinged around his body and his sore head. He didn't trust himself to speak.
She tossed the stake away. “I think I'll take a look inside and see what's so special about you.”
She poked a finger into his skull, and this time he had no trouble giving voice to his pain.
Buffy was pacing. It wasn't helping, but she couldn't seem to stop. It had been hours since her mom had gone in for surgery, and an hour since Spike had gone to check up on their flimsy lead. Scurvy had fallen asleep in one of the waiting room chairs and Dawn was listlessly petting her new stuffed animal, eyelids at half mast.
Something was wrong.
She couldn't shake it. When the surgeon came out, Buffy felt her dread deepen, and cold sweat tricked down her back.
“How is she?” she burst out, before the woman was even halfway across the room.
The surgeon smiled and looked Buffy in the eye. “She's fine. She made it through with flying colors, and she's already come out of anesthesia. It looks like she'll make a full recovery. We're transferring her to a room, but you won't be able to visit until morning. I recommend you get some rest yourself.”
“That's great, doctor. Thank you.”
As the surgeon walked away, Buffy sagged with relief and found Dawn was already by her side. She flung an arm around her.
“Didja hear that, Dawnie? Can't keep a good mom down for long.” Dawn smiled weakly. “Let's go home. We'll come back in the morning, okay?”
While Dawn gathered up her things, Buffy realized that the feeling of impending doom had not gone away. She checked the clock. One hour and fifteen minutes since Spike had left. By the time they got home, it would be two hours. She decided to take pre-emptive action. She pulled out her phone.
“Hey Will? Mom's fine, but they're kicking us out until tomorrow. I know it's late, but do you think you could stay with Dawn tonight? There's a slaying thing... Okay, great! We'll pick you up in twenty-five minutes.”
She turned to see Dawn gently shaking Scurvy's shoulder. It started and then beamed up at her. Buffy shook her head. This hostage business was not going how she'd expected.