Title: In for a Penny [2b/?]
Authors: the_moonmoth & bewildered/bewilde
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Length: ~5,600 words this chapter
Warnings: Sexual situations, bad language, violence, smut. Suicidal ideation. Temporary Spike/Other and Buffy/Other.
Summary: Spike travels back in time to change the future. It goes poorly.
Chapter 2, part 2
The door slammed behind him as Spike stepped out into the alley. Buffy had jerked around at the sound, but on seeing who it was, merely rolled her eyes and continued her pacing.
“Go away, Spike.”
“Mind your manners,” he replied. “Came out for a smoke. It’s a free country.” He kept his tone mild as he lit up, though. Girl had just been told by her own watcher that she’d have to kill her sister to prevent the apocalypse. He could take the sharp side of her tongue while she worked off the hurt. It was why he’d come out, and he suspected they both knew it. Well, that and the suffocating silence of a bunch of white-hats trying to find a solution that didn’t involve killing anyone. It would’ve been funny, if it wasn’t the niblet’s fate dangling on the end of the line.
“It’s just too much!” Buffy suddenly exploded. “All of it! She’s too strong. We’re too few. I can’t do what they want. It’s just too… much.”
She looked up at him plaintively.
“Hey now,” Spike said, taking the fag out of his mouth in concern. “This is just a bump in the road. Your lot’ll figure it out and you’ll ride in to save the day just in the nick of time. Always do, don’t you?”
“Wow,” she said. “You’re unnerved. I unnerved you. Things have gotta be bad.”
“I am not unnerved,” Spike protested. “Nerves of bloody steel, here. I’m just saying, you need an edge. Could be something small, you know? Just one little thing that turns the tide when you most need it to.”
“Yeah, well, unless you know of a magical way to give someone…” she trailed off, staring into space for a moment before her eyes seemed to hone in on him. “You went through a lot of pain, when Glory was torturing you.”
It seemed like a complete non-sequitur. She’d been doing that quite a bit, lately.
“Yeah,” Spike said, nonplussed. “It’s why they call it torture, love.”
“Would you…” she cut herself off almost embarrassedly, very unlike her. Spike hesitated, watching her face as she tried to find a way to express herself. When she looked back up, she was more resolved. “Would you do it again? Let yourself be hurt for Dawn?”
“In an instant,” he said without thinking.
“Just like that?” She gave him a questioning look. “This… it would hurt a hell of a lot more.”
“Slayer,” he said, smirking at her fondly, “Don’t you know me by now? Don’t need to take a moment, or whatever it is you hero types do; not for something like this.”
A second passed where he tried to say without saying that he loved her, that he’d be there for her, right by her side or wherever she needed him. Buffy stood quietly, studying his face, before nodding.
“Okay,” she said, letting out a breath. “Okay, good. Great.”
“Great?” he repeated sardonically, but let it go. “You got a plan, Slayer?”
“Yeah, I do,” she said. “I need to make a phone call, and then I’ll fill you in.”
A plan was good, even if it involved using him as cannon fodder. He’d do anything for her, even that. Spike turned to go back in.
“I can trust you, right?” Buffy asked, stopping him short.
Spike looked at her over his shoulder. “I’ll do whatever you need,” he said softly. “You know that.”
They parted at the back room, and Spike returned to slouch against his ladder. Buffy hadn’t smiled, or said thank you (for a white hat, she hardly ever said thank you — he just figured it was because no one ever said it to her, either) but she seemed energised. Hopeful.
All of that was gone when she came back out to the front of the shop, a surprisingly short amount of time later.
“Buffy?” Willow asked with a concerned frown, looking up from a magic book the size of a tombstone.
“He destroyed it,” she said faintly.
“Who? What?” Willow asked.
“How?” Xander chimed in. “Huh?”
Buffy was staring sightlessly at the tabletop. “Angel. The Gem of Amara.”
“I could’ve told you that,” Spike scoffed. “Wanker.” He straightened up, realisation dawning. “That was your plan?”
He saw it unfold in his mind’s eye; it was a bloody brilliant plan. He’d never be as strong as Glory, but with the Gem he’d be indestructible. He could wear her down, or at least distract her. But of course it wasn’t to sodding be, because sodding Angel had a sodding pathological need to sodding suffer.
“Wait, there’s a plan?” Xander asked. “I am so very pro-plan.”
“Xander,” Willow said quietly, “Buffy was going to give Spike the Gem of Amara to help her fight Glory, but it’s gone.”
“Yeah.” Buffy nodded listlessly.
“If only I were still a vengeance demon,” Anya said wistfully. “You could just wish to go back in time and get it, before Angel did… whatever he did. I’m sure Buffy has enough grievances against him to square it with my old charter.”
There was an awkward silence. “That’s very thoughtful, sweetie,” Xander said noncommittally, but it was the witch Spike found himself looking at, her eyes suddenly glowing with a strange, inward-facing light, before he dismissed them all and took a step towards Buffy.
“Can still do it,” he said to her quietly. “Fight Glory. Don’t need the Gem to–”
“No,” she cut him off. “You’re not strong enough.”
He recoiled, stung. “Says who?”
Buffy just rolled her eyes. “You wouldn’t last ten minutes. She’d squish you into crunchy vampire butter on the pavement and leave you there for the sun. I’m not going to send you in just to die.”
“Hey!” he started indignantly, then registered the last thing she’d said. “Oh.”
“Maybe…” Giles sighed. “Maybe there’s something more in this text we’ve overlooked…”
They were disturbed a moment later by noise coming from the alley, and the slayer being the slayer, she went back out to check. The rest of them sat around in yet more silence, this time flavoured with a sense of failure and mounting despair, but Spike couldn’t help nursing the warm glow in his chest for hours yet to come.
Until the dawn came, and quenched it for good.
Spike raced through the twilight, half-sloshed mind working as furiously as his feet. He should have known the bloody plan was going too smoothly. Bang-up job, Spike, he railed inwardly. Piss off the one man you need to help you out, so the bloody sanctimonious bastard won’t even read the bloody note. Bloody good shot with a crossbow, though. He’d forgotten how it felt to be staked while wearing the ring — just as painful as a real staking (and he was the only bloody vamp in the world who could attest to that, thanks to G.I. Joe and his plastic torture implement) but somehow distant, like it was happening to someone else. He’d be dust if he hadn’t been prepared. Except he wasn’t prepared, not at all, for the crumbling of Willow’s precise strategy.
What the fuck could he do with the ring?
Doing nothing was out of the question; Willow had been adamant that nothing would be able to travel back to the future with him — and if it did it would be bloody well too late in any case, the slayer already dead and the world already grey and who would bloody well care how many hits he could take? No, he had to do something now, find a way to get the Gem of Amara to the slayer at the right moment, just like they’d planned. Otherwise the bloody thing would just fall wherever he happened to be standing at launch, where anybody might pick it up.
But he was out of time.
He mentally reviewed all of the possible people he could give it to. Willow herself. Xander. Anya. (Was she around at this point?) Bloody hell, was Tara even in town yet?
Not one of them would trust him. Not one would do anything but pass the ring to the slayer, who would then pass it on to Angel, thus buggering the plan before it began.
For a moment, Spike considered seeking out Dawn, but nixed that plan almost immediately. For all her rebelliousness, Dawn looked up to her big sis. And when it came down to the End of Days, she wouldn’t be in a position to pass over the Gem, too busy being a damsel in distress.
Spike felt a sudden sharp pang — like being whacked on an old bruise — thinking of the slayer’s mum. She was still alive, he suddenly realised, blissfully pottering along without any sense of how brief a time she had left on this earth. He could give the ring to her. She had a soft spot in her heart for old Spike. She’d probably even fix him a cup of cocoa for the road, send him back to the future with a warm belly.
Except… she would probably still die, no matter how many butterflies he stomped on with his Doc Martens. She would die, and the slayer would get the Gem, and bloody buggering Angel would show up after the funeral and she would just give it to him, wouldn’t she? She’d give it to him, and he’d go back to Los Bloody Angeles and smash the bloody thing, and the end result would be exactly the same, except Spike wouldn’t even have the fun of vicariously torturing the git.
Bloody Slayer. So bloody trustworthy and clever and good that everyone expected she’d always do the right thing. Which, all right, she usually did — maybe not always the smart thing, but the goody-two-shoes, white-hat thing, and it usually turned out for the best, world saved, apocalypse averted, good work, team. Just not in this case, with that bloody Angel-shaped blind spot like a bloody black hole, sucking all her grey matter and good intentions into oblivion. He faltered for a moment, black yearning rising up in him — had anyone ever loved and trusted him like that? So much they’d abandon all good sense? — before stumbling on.
In the end, he decided the only person he could trust was himself — except not himself himself, not the himself that was actually around during this time; that himself hadn’t come to terms with his obsession with the slayer yet, and would likely take the Gem and just go off and kill her now. Or, just as he had in the past, try to kill her and get his ass soundly kicked and the Gem stolen and nothing at all would change. But after a bit of thought — very rushed thought — he managed to come up with a hidey-hole in the tunnels beneath the crypt he would eventually settle in, a cubby that in his own timeline he hadn’t explored until long after he’d come to grips with his love for the slayer. That would have to do.
He made his way through the sewers as fast as his fumbling feet could take him, wrote himself a note, and wrapped it around the ring, stuffing it deep enough into his future candle-niche that he could at least pretend it would make it to the appointed time.
And then there was nothing left to do but wait.
Waiting, he decided after about ten minutes, was bloody boring, even with the scintillating company of Mr. Jack Daniels. Spike grumbled, and sighed, and finally made his way through the dark streets to the mansion on Crawford.
His own eyes greeted him with a poisonous glare when he entered.
“Sod off,” he growled preemptively at the silent accusation.
“Fuck you,” his past-self retorted. “Undo these chains so I can kill you properly.”
Spike rolled his eyes and then rolled the bottle of Jack across the floor. “Don’t you worry, mate. Few minutes, I’ll be out of your hair and your world.”
“Leaving me chained up to starve?”
“Cool box has got blood.” He nodded at the bright red-and-white plastic container that he’d set out for himself.
“Pig’s blood. What do you think I am, a bloody lap-vamp?”
“Better get used to it,” Spike muttered, quaffing from his flask. “Plenty more of that in your future.” He pulled the key to the manacles out of his pocket, regarding it solemnly before setting it on the ground and planting his boot firmly atop it. “But never you mind. Any minute now I’ll be gone, and this key will be yours. You can get back to shagging bloody Harmony and otherwise wasting your unlife.”
Other-Spike uncorked the bottle of bourbon, taking a sulky swig. “Don’t see how it’s a waste. Have you seen her knockers?”
“That I have,” Spike admitted. “Pity they’re attached to the rest of her.”
“So, you’re me.” His voice was conversational, like he was asking if Spike were bloody Father Christmas, and yet somehow deeply mocking.
“Got it in one.”
“Well then how are you such a pathetic twat?”
Spike glared at himself. “Says the man who got thrown over for a fungus demon.”
“She’ll be back!” chained-up Spike muttered stubbornly. “Drusilla and me, we’re eternal.”
“Eternal. Right.” Talking about Drusilla called for more booze; Spike cracked a second bottle. “Got news for you, mate. She’s not coming back. Not until you’ve fallen in love with…” The spasm of grief took him by surprise, wringing him out from toes to fingertips.
“Harmony? You are off your…”
“Not Harmony. Do you think I’m completely mental?”
Other-Spike raised his eyebrows in a clear yes.
What a dick his past-self was. “God, no wonder she hates me.”
“Everyone hates you, mate. Even I hate you, and I am you. Supposedly.” He drank again from the bottle, then cast Spike a suspicious glance. “Slayer didn’t give you a lobotomy, did she?”
That was a little too close to the truth for Spike’s comfort; he rolled to his feet and started to pace, scooping up the key and twiddling it in his fingers as he drank. Surely it was time by now? He’d checked a clock first thing after he’d arrived, and he would have sworn it had been exactly forty-eight hours as of about ten minutes ago. Two days. The witch had told him two days, he was sure of it, and then he’d heard it again in the spell when she was chanting, Latin words thick on her tongue. Duobus, she’d said. Duobus mensibus, two bloody days; his Latin might be rusty as fuck after a century of avoiding it, but he still remembered how to say two. She’d given him two days to seize, carpe-ing that diem, and he’d done his part, so where the fuck was his bloody transport?
Oh balls. Carpe diem. Seize the day.
Willow hadn’t said duobus diebus, or diemus, or whatever the bloody buggering fuck the plural of diem was. She’d said mensibus.
Mensibus. Menses. Months.
He threw the nearly-full bourbon bottle against the wall, a stream of curses spilling from his lips like the bloody Nile in flood, because what the bleeding hell was he supposed to do in the past for two bloody months? Work on his knitting?
When his rage was spent, he turned, heaving. His prisoner was regarding him, eyes alight with unholy glee.
“Something wrong?” he purred evilly.
Spike had no answer for himself.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/589828.html