Dreidel 10

Feb. 10th, 2007 06:14 pm
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A short chapter, but I promise a longer one very soon. Previous chapters are here.

(And yes, I do know there's already been a chapter ten, but I made chapter one a prologue because it wasn't long enough to post as a part on its own on TSR and it made all my chapter numbers out of sinc and it's been annoying me for ages and... I'm just anal. This is a brand new chapter, not the last one reposted.)

Chapter Ten


But I know if the silence of night could be here
It would drift through my soul and calm all my fear
~ Falling Through Time, Don McLean


"So you like the fresh air, huh?"

"Yeah." And he really did. Taking huge lungfuls of scents that weren't cleaned or fetid or artificial, that was pretty good. Strolling, striding, with no chains to fetter his movements. Rediscovering the sights and smells and sounds and feelings of nighttime in the great outdoors.

Speaking his mind had felt pretty good too. At least, speaking his mind as much as it was possible to articulate the joys of not being thoroughly miserable. He'd made the Slayer... Buffy... uncomfortable, he could tell, it was the only thing that kept him from saying more, but that overwhelming gratitude had to come spilling out. He thought maybe she understood. Anyone who could spare compassion for an enemy must have seen their fair share of misery.

"It's been a while, you know. A long while."

"I get that. Well I don't, but I get antsy if I don't patrol every night."

They walked on in a silence that was mostly companionable. It was properly dark now but still no vampires were afoot as they slowly circled the town centre.

"I'm surprised you didn't sneak off last night for your 'fresh air,'" said Buffy, as they completed the last cemetery in the inner circle and moved on to hard pavement. There was something of a question in her voice but she looked normal enough at a glance.

"I did," he admitted. "Sat in your garden a while, looked at the stars, but it's not the same when you can't go anywhere."

"No, I meant, why didn't you take off? I... Hang on, why couldn't you go anywhere?"

"You have my charm."

"Are they bottling that stuff now?"

Spike registered her quip with a part of his mind but the rest was belatedly realising the import of the question. She asked because she didn't know.

"My charm. Badge of ownership." He pointed to the much hated green stone, nestling prettily in the dip of Buffy's neckline. "I get too far away from it, my chip goes off."

"This thing?" She yanked on the gem, thong digging into her neck as she pulled it out to a viewable distance. Spike was doing the maths even as he buried a smile at her puzzled squint. If she didn't even know about the necklace and she'd not chained him up, whatever she might have threatened then... Well he'd been wasting his time hoping she'd let him go; she hadn't even known she was keeping him prisoner.

"That nasty little demon in LA gave it to me. I didn't think... I meant to ask Giles what it was, I just forgot about it." She eyed him sharply, still toying with the necklace. "This sets off you chip?"

"Yes. Just insurance, mostly. I was always locked up."

"Well that's... weird. How could a stone possibly affect your chip?"

She frowned again, Spike could almost see her thought processes right there on her face. Knew he wasn't expected to answer and didn't have one to give. Unsurprisingly, no-one had ever explained it to him, he just remembered the debilitating pain every time he'd tried to run.

"You should have told me," Buffy said eventually.

"I assumed you knew." The fresh air must be going to his head, or the dizzying implications of this conversation, because Spike added cheekily. "I was right there when he explained it to you."

She grinned slightly. "There's your mistake. Always assume I know nothing, even the stuff you've already-" Her head shot up a split second before Spike registered the presence of his own kind. "About time!"

It was a wonderful thing, watching her fight. Spike ached to join in but watching was second best, restirring a hunger that she'd thoroughly doused this morning. She danced between the three hungry fledglings, predicting every move, more than a match for a dozen more. It was really no wonder he'd never managed to beat her; in all too short a time her opponents were dust and not one of them had landed a blow.

The Slayer... Buffy... brushed the dust from her clothing and stretched lazily. The turned back towards Spike, hands going up to the back of her neck. Spike found himself admiring her side-on silhouette and for a moment didn't notice what she was actually doing. She took a step towards him, the stone dangling from its untied leather ribbon.

"Spike," she asked carefully. "What happens when you bite people?"

Not sure what she was driving at and wary of her sudden seriousness, Spike went with the safe answer. "My chip goes off. It's like an electric shock I suppose only-"

"Okay. Just checking. That deal with the stone just seems strange, I was thinking it might be a different chip. Here."

She held out the stone. Spike stared at it. There was real freedom, sitting on her open palm and he was afraid to reach out and take it. Afraid the price was his marching orders. His hand must have moved of its own accord because there was the stone between his fingers.

"I didn't realise I was keeping you prisoner," said the Slayer quietly. After a second's pause she turned, started walking slowly down the verge to the gate. "Bound to be some more action at the Bronze," she called over her shoulder. "Are you coming?"

********


It was never going to be a challenging evening, fight-wise, but there were enough fledges scattered around Sunnydale's more popular haunts to make the time go quickly enough. Spike watched every fight, an oddity Buffy wasn't sure she should comment on. There hadn't been any epic battles, she'd certainly needed no assistance and he was not dressed for giving anything a good kicking but still her Spike would have leapt in regardless. Just for the joy of hitting things.

The vampire seemed to be improving, enough to make casual chit-chat at least, remark on the changes Sunnydale had undergone and even her fighting skill. She probably shouldn't push.

The deal with the chip was puzzling too. The necklace was helping explain some things, complicating others. It explained, for instance, how he was managing to stay so scared of her - from his point of view she'd been keeping him prisoner. But still it was one more detail that nagged at Buffy and made the whole thing a little surreal. Buffy was hardly an expert in magic or technology but she did know the Initiative hadn't used the former, and the latter didn't usually involve stones. Another thing to worry about when they established which Spike he was.

The phone was ringing when they got back to the house, rang persistently as she unlocked the door and was still ringing as she finally got close enough to pick it up. The message light was also flashing impatiently.

"Willow! Any luck with the spell?"

"All done and dusted. I left a message with the herbs you need and the chant a couple of hours ago. Have you been patrolling?"

"Yu-huh. Not much stirring though. So what's up?"

"Well I've been looking at other spells, actually. It looks like most incantations can be converted to work on a vampire, if you make sure to balance out their lack of lifeforce. There's one like... like a magic tracker, it would show if there was anything... like if someone had put a hex on him, this spell would reveal it."

"Like the spell you showed me when mom got sick?"

"Umm... not really. Spike would set that off anyway, being a magical creature. It's similar in principle I suppose, but this one is a lot more specific, it would show what spell, maybe even where it came from."

Buffy wound the telephone cord around her fingers as she digested that. "Sounds a little advanced for me. Can we wait and see if I mess up the locator spell first?"

"No. I mean, yes it can wait, but it is advanced, I think it would have to be me. And that's why I was calling. Giles is pretty sure that something is attacking the Watchers Council and Slayers particularly; he phoned and said he'd be staying in London tonight. And he thinks I should come home... to Sunnydale."

Oh. Buffy glanced around at Spike but he was out of sight in the kitchen, giving the illusion of privacy though Buffy was fairly sure he could still hear at least her side of the conversation. The Slayer had assumed Willow would be coming home but she'd not expected it to be so immediate and though she wanted to be welcoming she didn't quite know how.

"I won't come if you don't want me to," Willow continued hastily. "Xander's job finishes in a week or so, I could wait and then stay with him. Giles said... well I think he doesn't really want you there on your own with Spike. Emotional support, he called it, but I think he meant-"

"Come," Buffy interrupted. Emotional support sounded good, even if her watcher had probably wanted to say chaperone. She missed her best friend, had been a year without really, they'd not been close since Buffy came back from the dead. But the grudge Buffy had held over her resurrection had disappeared when she'd finally started to enjoy life again and it would be nice to spend time with someone both originally and currently human. "This is still your home, Willow; of course you should come here. Your room is still there, I didn't know if... you can swap with me if you like."

"Thanks," said Willow, sounding awkward. "I don't think I... whichever you like, I don't mind. I'll get online and book a flight. Are you sure, Buffy?"

"Yes! We miss you, Will."

"I miss you guys too. I'll call tomorrow with my flight details, okay?"

"Night Will."

Buffy dug out a notebook and pen, pressed play on the machine. Transcribing the spell was awkward, trying to jot down unfamiliar words to the speed of the tape, on the third time hitting rewind Spike came up behind her and took the pen from her hand, silently taking over. Buffy happily left him to it, fixing herself a snack before bed. "You want more blood?" she called from the kitchen, as the machine signals end of message.

Spike followed her into the kitchen as the machine bleeped again. Buffy ignored it, taking her second instant meal of the day from the microwave and replacing it with a mug of blood.

"Second. New. Message." Intoned the machine as Buffy sat down to eat; it was the long awaited lecture from Giles. He detailed the recent attacks on the Watchers Council, though they knew little more than a list of casualties and uncontactable watchers outposts. He segued straight into the dangers of aiding chipped vampires, with several pointed 'as you should know' comments, covering the deceitfulness of the species in general and the faults of Spike in particular. Reminded Buffy that her best use of time and resources would be to 'stake the cocky little bastard and try and forget he ever existed.'

With an apologetic glance at the vampire Buffy pushed back her chair, intending to cut the machine off but she was held still by Giles' voice, almost as if she could sense what was coming next.

"And I don't think I need to say that you won't be receiving my blessing should you resume physical relations with that unscrupulous shame to his gender. Stay away from that pillock, Buffy. You're worth so much better."

"End. Of. Messages."

There was a short embarrassed silence that Buffy didn't know how to break. She turned to take Spike's blood from the microwave to avoid his eyes.

"That the stuff you didn't want to talk about?" asked Spike quietly.

"Pretty much."

He reached over and snagged the mug from her hand. "I'm going to turn in, then, Slayer. If that's okay?"

Buffy nodded, relieved. "Goodnight Spike."

The vampire stopped in the basement doorway, but didn't turn around. "Did you want me to take off yesterday?"

She looked over at him in surprise. "I don't think it occurred to me that you might, sneaking off in the night isn't really Spike-like behaviour."

Spike ran harassed fingers through his hair, tried again. "I mean... You gave me the necklace. Would you rather I not be here in the morning?"

"No. Well yes." Buffy tried to smile, take the sting out of her words, but Spike wasn't quite looking at her. "You can leave if you want to, you don't have to sneak off in the night. But wait until Willow's had a poke around in your brain, yeah? Always fun, plus, it might be useful to know who you are, save you just getting kidnapped again. Besides, I've just brought all this blood. It would be rude, don't you think, to leave without drinking it?"

He nodded, half smiled. "Goodnight, Buffy."
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