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If you can't tell from the nine month wait, I've got a bit lost with this fic. I've learnt lessons. I shall never again start posting a fic without a proper story plan. But I wouldn't put money on me finishing this fic in, say, the next few years, so if you hate abandoned WIPs look away now.

Beta'd by the very patient [livejournal.com profile] slackerace

Previous chapters here




Chapter Six


When Buffy got back from the hospital she was beyond tired. She'd learned nothing except what Giles had already told her from the mortuary attendant, only the file she'd managed to lift stopped it being a complete waste of a trip. The unknown girl had been brought in to the hospital barely conscious, most of her blood left behind on the coast road, insistently asking for Buffy Summers. In an effort to calm the girl and get her stable enough to operate, the hospital had looked Buffy up in the phonebook and, Buffy being absent at the time, Giles had sent Kennedy to play her part. The girl had told a confused tale of escaping from hooded figures only to run into a far more human looking menace, dressed as a priest, who'd ripped through her intestines with a knife and left a message for the original Slayer. Her medical records detailed the complications during surgery that were mostly so much medical jargon to Buffy and the end result she already knew; there was one potential less in the world. But there were two clear photos of the burn mark on her neck, which would do for Giles, and meant Buffy wouldn't have to break into another cold room to look at another cold body.

She hid the file in her clothing then it was on to the police station for a compulsory statement. No surprises there; Sunnydale's finest were only going through the motions, ticking boxes, woodenly accepted her statement that she knew nothing of the girl, filed it away.

Spike was waiting outside when she returned, but Buffy brushed past him with a muttered 'later', and went straight to the kitchen for a watcherly update

********


There was something insufferably smug about Giles tonight, at least it seemed so to Buffy. His whole being seemed to radiate 'I told you so's' in a way that prickled at Buffy's conscience and put her back up all at the same time. A part of the Slayer still wished she'd thrown Giles out of the house. She'd understood all too well his motives for wanting Spike out of the picture, both the ones he acknowledged and the ones he didn't, but forgiveness wasn't coming easy. Maybe because he showed not the slightest remorse. But throwing him out in Sunnydale equated to feeding him to the bringers, and that was harsher that Buffy was willing to go, even if she wasn't forced to admit they needed Giles on the team

She slapped the stolen file on the table.

"I got the photos. You were right about the mark, it doesn't look like any signet ring I've ever seen. So we figure this jerk's got another girl, right?"

It was all business Buffy and she hoped the watcher would pick up on her mood, but as he sighed and removed his glasses she could sense the lecture coming. Buffy wasn't sure she could listen without violence.

"So are you convinced yet of the seriousness of the impending apocalypse?"

Condescending, that was the word. As if he was still the only grown-up. The Slayer gritted her teeth, opened the file and took out the photos of the dead girl's neck. "I'm taking it seriously, Giles. See me planning?"

"After taking the night off to cavort with your tame vampire?"

And that was why Giles always won the arguments; he could hit her on so many levels at once she didn't even know where to start with the disagreeing. The description of Spike as her tame vampire rankled, and the way he managed to make 'taking the night off' sound like 'eating new born babies for fun.' As for cavorting... Well it was none of his damn business if there was cavorting or not.

"Half the night," she said mulishly. "I took half the night off, seeing as it's still dark and here I am working again. Some people, grown-ups even, have whole days. Weekends. I've heard rumours of these things called vacations where people do whatever they feel like for weeks at a time."

"Those people are not responsible for the safety of nearly twenty minors and the whole world."

"That's not fair, Giles." And could she sound any more like a twelve year old? But it really wasn't fair. It wasn't even her idea. "And I'm somehow forgetting the part where you said 'No, Buffy, you shouldn't take the night off.'"

"I thought a rest would help you think more clearly, that you might benefit from some reflection. I-"

"I reflected! I benefited! So I'm thinking the real problem here isn't that I took time off, it's with whom I chose to spend it."

"No! The problem here is while you were indulging that waste of space a girl was being butchered."

It was a low blow and part of Buffy knew it, but that didn't make it any less true. The butchered part. "So I'll kill the thing that killed her," she answered, with a monumental effort of sticking to the point. "Do you know what it is?"

"All my information is second hand, maybe we should get Kennedy in-"

"No!" As much as she liked to deal herself blame, even Buffy couldn't believe she deserved a dose of Kennedy after everything else tonight. "Just... tell me what you know."

"Very little, really. The dead girl described him as a human man, a priest or dressed as a priest, in his mid-thirties. She also said he was very strong, although it's possible that was nothing more than human strength overpowering a frightened girl. He called the harbingers 'his boys' and he seemed very keen to get your attention, the girl said he had something that belonged to you-"

"I got that bit. And he has my attention. So we hand over sharp pointy things to the potentials and go on a little field trip to kill a priest."

"Possibly doing exactly what he wants."

"He won't be expecting a full scale assault, not this quickly. It'll be our one chance to catch him by surprise."

"Possibly," Giles repeated. "But I hardly think we're ready for action. Some of the potentials have yet to stake a vamp, they're not ready to face an unknown threat. And do you have any idea of what's going on in LA at the moment?"

"No. I was taking the night off, remember? So do tell."

"I hardly have all the details myself, and I won't until Willow calls. I do know that while she's gone she can hardly assist in keeping these girls safe. This is a completely unknown threat, Buffy, and I can find no reference in these books-"

"Well you carry on looking then. I'll speak to the girls, see who wants to kick some preacher ass while you're researching his mother's maiden name."

"Buffy..."

But in a fit of childish temper the Slayer kicked the door shut behind her.

********


The Slayer was still fuming when Spike intercepted her in the hallway. He could hear it in the angry stomp of her black boots as she tried to walk straight past him.

"How you holding up, love?"

"I'll survive. But busy, okay?"

She made to brush past him into the living room, the vampire caught her arm. "Spare five minutes, surely?" he asked mildly.

"I can't. I don't have time for this."

Again she tried to pull away, Spike held firm. Buffy didn't even look at him, head down and shoulders set as if she could plough him out of her path, closed off in a way that was frighteningly familiar. "We really back to playing that game?" he asked incredulously.

"Games with you probably cost that girl her life," she spat icily. "Now let go of me."

"No," said Spike patiently. "I just want-"

Buffy twisted away with more violence, intent on her briefing with the potentials, but in the short scuffle that followed it was the Slayer that ended up pinned to the wall. She glared at Spike, more than a little pissed off but, he was relieved to note, unafraid.

"Don't," she said coldly. "Not now."

"Wasn't going to," he insisted. "Just talk to me, Buffy."

"No."

"You mean later?"

"You really have problems with that word, don't you? You think holding me down is a good way to open communication?"

Spike eyed her reprovingly. "One, that was beneath you. Two, sometimes holding you down is the only way to open communication with you. That's your damage, Summers, not mine. Just... trust me, love. Let me in, Buffy."

"This isn't about you. I need to be focused, you're a distraction."

"I can focus too! I'm not trying to cop a feel here, Buffy, I just don't want you shutting me out."

"Put. Me. Down."

"Fine." Getting angry in turn, Spike released her so suddenly she slid down the wall. "But you're going to hear me out, 'cause your furniture won't stand another fight. That girl didn't die because you were fucking against a tree, she died because the source of all evil is trying to take over the world. And being ashamed of me now won't bring her back. I don't want to be a distraction, I want to help, and if I'd known you were going to beat yourself up this way I never would have touched you."

Buffy stared for a second and then her mouth twitched up. "I forgot. You're now the sensible one in this relationship."

Spike smiled back, though he could see she was still far from happy. Maybe now wouldn't be a good time to point out her casual use of the R word. "Well, pay me more heed next time."

Instead of the punch he was still half expecting, Buffy took his hand. "I'm not ashamed of you," she said with a quick squeeze, but quickly as she pulled him close she was pulling away, running a distracted hand through already messy hair. "There just... there's stuff to be done. I should have been out there tonight, but I wanted... It's not your fault-"

"No," interrupted Spike solemnly, "it's yours. Powers that be spotted you were taking the night off so they decided to throw their lot in with ultimate evil and strike down a few innocent girls to teach you a lesson. It's all your fault. So quick, push Spike away and go haring off after something that might be nothing without so much as sharing the plan with the best fighter you've got. Maybe that'll earn you your karmic brownie points back."

Buffy smacked him lightly on the arm. "I'm sorry, okay? You're gonna burst a blood vessel with all that irony."

"Was sarcasm. And it's not my fault you're stupid and need these things explaining to you. What about those two vamps you staked on the way to the club, eh? They'd've taken dinner home if you'd been off saving that potential. The potential you didn't even know existed. And if you're gonna tell me we're friends then brush me off when you've got other things on your mind I'm going to take issue. Sometimes I have whole thoughts that aren't about getting in your knickers, y'know."

"I do know," said Buffy with a sigh. Then she brightened. "Hey, you're being all Spikey again."

He stared back suspiciously. "I'm what now?"

"You know. All 'I'm a bad-ass, got my rocks back' kinda Spike. The annoying one."

"Sorry pet, guess it's not so easy to change-"

"No... No, it's good. I missed the annoying, in this weird way. You know I'm not going to change either, don't you?"

Spike looked up in surprise. "Bloody well hope not."

"That's not true though. This stuff... I'm sorry I shut you out, and I'll try not to be so... But in the end, this is how I deal. I shut myself off because sometimes it's the only way to deal, that's always going to be me."

"And it's always going to be me pushing, doesn't mean I'd wish you different. But I do hate the way you blame yourself. It wasn't your fault."

"But it was! Those girls are going to keep on dying and it's always going to be my fault because it's my job to keep everyone safe."

"That's an impossible job, love."

"Do you think I don't know that?"

For possibly the first time, Spike realised that no amount of loving in the world could lighten that load. That, help as much as he might, he could never lift even an iota of the responsibility from her shoulders. It was a sobering thought for a vampire whose one goal was to make his girl happy. Not that sheer impossibility had ever daunted Spike before.

"Come on," said the Slayer, jolting Spike out of his musings. "I want to talk to the potentials while Giles is still hiding in the kitchen."

"Talk to them about a plan?"

"Kind of. Not so much. I was going to take some of them with me, to kill this preacher-man. Just the volunteers."

"You know Willow's already gone, don't you?"

Her mouth hardened into a thin, unhappy line and she nodded.

"And if it's the old bait and switch?"

She sighed again, still holding herself aloof. "That's pretty much what Giles said."

"Well he might not be wrong. No point getting whatever this new guy has if you come back to a house full of dead potentials."

"Then I leave you here. I think I can manage an itsy bitsy priest and a hologram all on my own."

"I couldn't manage a Turok-han."

She looked dismayed and Spike hated to be the one to put the brakes on her obvious need for action, but he had to go on. Couldn't bear the thought of letting her down and he knew his own limits. "Maybe one, if the rabble weighed in in a useful way. But you just know there's more of those buggers waiting to crawl out of the woodwork. We get two of them calling while you're gone, you're going to come home to a massacre."

"There's a whole army of them coming."

"I get that, love. And if you want to take the risk you know I'll follow your lead. I ain't afraid, and I ain't complaining. I'd die for you, and do it happily, but no amount of willing is going to make me stronger."

There was a definite crack in that hard shell now and Spike didn't know whether to be glad or sorry. "But I need to kill something!" Buffy whined. Tentatively Spike held his arms out and Buffy leaned gratefully into his embrace. "So what do you propose I do, oh wise and mighty man-type person?"

Spike smiled into her hair. "Sit tight, love. Wait for the witch to come back."

"You think we should do nothing?"

"That's what I said. Get your strongest fighters around you, let the old man do the research bit, then worry about this little upstart. Have a night playing scrabble, let Rupert do the worrying for a change."

"You realise his first act as leader would be to stake you?"

"And I'm just trembling in fear."

Buffy breathed deep into his collar, as if she could soak up enough support to see her through before she inevitably disentangled herself. "And you're sure this plan has nothing to do with staying home and getting some?"

"No! Buffy, I wouldn't-"

But the Slayer was smiling. Watery, but definitely a smile, she interrupted him with a wave of her hand. "Joke, Spike. And it's an upside, right? So you go and play scrabble, and I'll tell Giles the new non-plan."

********


It was only as he wandered back into the living room, noticed the scattered sleeping bags, that Spike realised the night was almost over. Not that four a.m. was taking a toll on the assorted teenagers, they were clustered around Anya partaking in that age old and terrifying ritual - girl talk. And boy did Spike not want to stay and hear it, but neither did he want to go elsewhere and hear Buffy and her watcher. It was a mere two minutes since she'd disappeared into the kitchen and the raised voices told Spike he didn't want to know the details.

And it seemed he was to be included in the girl talk, he caught the word vampire from Anya's monologue and several curious pairs of eyes swivelled in his direction.

"...prefer conventional pairings, really quite unadventurous compared to vengeance demons-"

"Hey!" Spike may have been sharing lodgings with an all-girl pyjama party but he had enough male pride left to put his foot down there. "I'm adventurous - you take that back. Done things I'll bet you can't bloody well spell."

"I was referring to the vampiric preference for humanoid partners," answered Anya haughtily. "And I've always considered that a strange boast. Spelling is hardly a required skill for sex. Can you spell fellatio, for instance? That's a fairly socially acceptable form of intercourse but quite an unusual word to see in print."

Spike caught sight of Buffy in the doorway, flushed and angry. He virtually cringed as Dawn picked that moment to join in the conversation, oblivious to her sister's presence.

"I can't even spell blow-job," said the teen. "I mean, is it all one word, or does it have one of those apostrophe thingies?"

"Hyphen," put in another potential. "I think it has a hyphen."

"And a big who cares from the lesbian contingent," put in Kennedy, flashing her tongue piercing in a pointed way. "Those are all fancy ways of saying 'female emancipation'."

"Now there's something I can't spell," put in Spike, hoping to steer things back onto safer ground for their unnoticed audience. It didn't work.

"Anya's right, nobody cares about spelling," said another potential, one of the later arrivals that Spike had yet to put a name to. "If you look on the web, it's like, anything goes. No punctuation or nothing."

All too soon the pyjama clad underage girls were discussing the standards of modern pornography. Distinctly paler, Buffy disappeared from the doorway and into the basement. Spike stood through a few more minutes of risqué chatter before quietly following. When he slid through the basement door Buffy was leaning against the banister at the top of the stairs. She turned when he came in, gave Spike a slight smile that left him relieved.

"Hiding out?"

Buffy nodded. "Anya's like soy sauce, y'know?"

"That's putting it kindly. I'm sorry if-"

"No." Buffy spoke quietly but her voice was firm. "Don't do that. There's no reason they shouldn't. No reason you shouldn't. I was just pissed at Giles, he... he..."

"Pissed you off?"

"That's pretty much it. You were right, we could all use the time off. Besides, it was kinda funny."

Spike didn't want to ask what Giles had said. He'd already caught the loud highlights of the first go round and he could imagine the rematch. Sacred duty, blah blah, stake Spike, blah blah, fun is evil, polish glasses. Sometimes it got very hard living in a house where everybody hated you. And in the main part Spike couldn't give a fig for the opinions of others; he could only imagine what all this conflict must mean to Buffy. Even before their personal relationship had become fresh gossip again, she'd been coming in for more than her fair share of hatred really meant for him. And they were her friends, her confidants, he knew she couldn't dismiss their disapproval as easily as he did.

He wasn't sure if now was the time to be the stoical second in command or comforting lover. The thing between them was too new for him to feel comfortable.

"It's a nice word, don't you think?"

For once not following the train of her thoughts, the question caught Spike by surprise. "What word are we talking about here?"

"Fellatio. It's all... Italian and... rolling"

The vampire raised a slightly sceptical eyebrow, but as ever he was happy to follow her lead. "Sure, love, very... Italian. Not so good as a verb, though. 'Will you felate me?' ain't never going to be the sexy chat-up line of 'get on your knees, gorgeous.'"

Buffy took a step towards him, something predatory about the slow move. "Say that again."

The eyebrow climbed a good half inch higher. "Get on your knees, gorgeous."

She grabbed his hips, slamming him back against the basement door as she dropped before him. Despite the suggestion lacing her voice Spike was taken by surprise.

"Buffy, love..."

"Don't, okay? This is going to be the last calm before the storm, isn't it? A day or two of battening down the hatches before Willow comes home and Giles does the research and we have to make with the do or die action." Her hands were running over the crotch of his jeans, eyes level with the growing bulge under the thick material.

"So you're going to spend that time sucking my cock?"

"Maybe not all of it. My knees would get achy."

He laughed, a sound she interrupted with the shift of his zipper. Sometimes Spike didn't think he'd ever truly understand this girl. He wasn't complaining.

"It's coming soon, I can feel it. And one of us is bound to die because I'd just be way too happy otherwise and the Powers That Be can't be having that. I don't want regrets. And I've never... not really. Not for you."

She ran her tongue over the head of his freed erection and Spike gasped, eyes fluttering closed. "That is," Buffy added, "If it's okay with you?" His eyes opened again to see that little girl pout, eyes glittering wickedly behind.

"No," he deadpanned. "You've found the one male in every known universe that doesn't like getting h- Oh yeah... that. Don't like that..."

But Buffy was beyond the talking stage, her lips firmly wrapped around his throbbing cock.

"Lucky the Powers That Be don't give a piss about me being happy. You'd be getting struck by lightning right about now."

********


When he spent himself in her mouth, Spike felt spent entirely. Buffy tucked him back in and he sank to the floor beside her, pulling her into his lap for a cuddle while he recovered. She burrowed against his chest like a cat.

"Your turn now. Cheer me up."

His hand slipped under her T-shirt but she caught it without even lifting her head. "I didn't mean... That part comes when I'm cheerful already, y'know? Just... tell me a joke or something. An amusing anecdote."

"A joke?"

"Yeah."

Spike thought a while, stroking her hair absently.

"Until last night, I was a virgin."

"Huh?"

"First shag for my soul."

"But... You mean since you died?"

"Nope."

"You died a virgin?"

"Yup."

"You didn't have sex your whole life?"

"That's what the word generally means, yes Slayer."

"My God." She craned her neck to examine his face more closely. "You weren't exactly under 21 when you died, were you?"

"Wasn't exactly under 31."

"My god," she repeated with a giggle. "Doesn't sound like it was much fun being Victorian."

"I may have been more backward than most," Spike admitted.

Buffy curled her fingers round the nape of his neck and pulled him down for a gentle kiss. "So I'm your first? That's so sweet."

It wasn't a word Spike thought might ever be applied to himself, except perhaps by Harmony, but he decided he could live with it.

"Okay, I'm all cheered up now, you can start with the touching." In one smooth movement Spike was on his feet and carrying her down the stairs, intent on the cot bed against the wall. Buffy gave him another kiss and an impish grin. "Guess you've got a lot of catching up to do, huh?"

TBC..... (probably, one day)



(PS Dreidel has a proper story plan, I swear. It's almost an outline. I've even made notes.)

Date: 2007-05-01 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crackers4jenn.livejournal.com
Man, this fic is so wonderful--and so wonderfully written. From the straight-out dialogue, to the internal monologues, to the sexy scenes... everything just works.

Why weren't you the one to have written season 7?! Because this is exactly how it should've gone.

Hope the ol' Muse starts cooperating for the rest of the fic, because it's too brilliant to retire to the Abandoned WIPs part of the fic 'verse.

Date: 2007-05-06 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] constance-b.livejournal.com
because it's too brilliant to retire to the Abandoned WIPs part of the fic 'verse
Is this irony? Because I do believe you've cornered the market on brilliant yet abandoned Spuffy fic...
But serious, I'm dead chuffed you're enjoying it, you're one of my very favourite writers.

Date: 2007-05-01 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zanthinegirl.livejournal.com
Heh-- I'd wondered where this story went!

Really enjoyed this chapter. Anya's fellatio discussion had me snickering!

"That is," Buffy added, "If it's okay with you?" His eyes opened again to see that little girl pout, eyes glittering wickedly behind.

"No," he deadpanned. "You've found the one male in every known universe that doesn't like getting h- Oh yeah... that. Don't like that...


I can easily see this scene happening; very in keeping with where they are emotionally in this story, and consistent w/ canon. And you write their "voices" beautifully!

I like what you're doing with Giles. Well, I actually hate what you're doing with Giles, but it's very canon, so yeah. Well done, and believable. And Yikes!

Date: 2007-05-06 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] constance-b.livejournal.com
Thank you. I hated Giles in Season 7, didn't really understand him at all. Didn't understand how Buffy got through the whole season without punching the git. If I ever finish this fic, he's definitely going to get punched at some point.

Date: 2007-05-01 04:09 pm (UTC)
ext_7351: (αΩ | † | § | every night)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_jems_/
It seems a shame that something as wonderful as this should just fade away due to something as silly as plot. Maybe you can just update periodically with The Spike and Buffy Relationship Show, guest starring Anya's Inappropriate Slayerette Gab Sessions? Because I love those parts, and the plot? Well, it seems to be coming together about as well as the season 7 arc did the first time.

I'm hoping you don't give up on it because the character interaction is great and well worth it all on its own.

Date: 2007-05-06 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] constance-b.livejournal.com
Thank you. And good idea, I'll only bother with the scenes that are fun to write.

Date: 2007-05-01 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petzipellepingo.livejournal.com
Such wonderful dialogue here, I can totally picture the characters on the screen saying these lines. And, I might add, this is a much better version of Season Seven because your Spike and Buffy actually talk to each other.
And then there's Anya, who is like soy sauce.... "snorfle"

Date: 2007-05-01 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brunettepet.livejournal.com
I haven't read this before, so it was lovely to have all six chapters to read in one go. Your dialogue is stellar. You've really captured each of the characters' voices and their dynamic with the other characters. I'm really enjoying this take on Season 7, with Spike and Buffy having actual conversations about the attempted rape, their past relationship, and everything else under the sun. It's refreshing.

This new talking relationship is sexy and relaxed and a joy to read. Buffy standing up for herself with Giles is a definite bonus, and having Spike in the mix as back up and sounding board is delightful.

I laughed out loud at this: "Lucky the Powers That Be don't give a piss about me being happy. You'd be getting struck by lightning right about now." Even though Buffy's more fatalistic reasons for going down on him were a damper, you left this chapter on a very light note with the talk of Spike's Victorian virginity. This is wonderfully entertaining stuff.

Date: 2007-05-01 09:45 pm (UTC)
ext_7375: Tsuzuki, OMG yaaaay. (knight)
From: [identity profile] japanimecrazed.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this chapter. Of course, that means I have to go back and read the first six instead of doing homework, but it's worth it.

Favorite part: But in a fit of childish temper the Slayer kicked the door shut behind her.

Date: 2007-05-02 01:20 am (UTC)
rahirah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rahirah
Oooh, nifty! I need to read the rest of this.

Date: 2007-05-04 04:41 am (UTC)
molly_may: (Spuffy is this love - kathy h)
From: [personal profile] molly_may
I do love this story, even if it's never finished!:) Wonderful Buffy and Spike dialogue.

Date: 2007-05-05 06:14 pm (UTC)
fishsanwitt: (Spuffy (TR) randyjoan)
From: [personal profile] fishsanwitt
This is wonderful :)

Date: 2007-05-06 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 2maggie2.livejournal.com
I can only chime in with the comments already given. I like the picture of Buffy and Spike trying to snatch some moments of real connection amidst the demands of an impending apocalypse. You catch canon Giles well, though I'm still not sure I understand canon Giles. Really liked the scene where Spike insists on being treated like a partner in the relationship... both that he could insist and that Buffy could hear it. Would love to see your version of season 7 on DVD.

Date: 2007-05-06 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evilawyer.livejournal.com
I hope for more, but at least you've left it at a good spot if it must end. Looking forward to more on Dreidel and this one (hey, hope springs eternal).
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