Title: In for a Penny [3b/?]
Authors: the_moonmoth & bewildered/bewilde
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Length: ~9,200 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 3, part 2
Neither of them had been able to sleep, that day.
Spike had done his bloody duty, helping with the bearing, but it had been day, and none of them had felt the digging part belonged in the sunshine, even if he’d been able to survive it, and so they’d separated, like unraveling yarn, and he had ended up at her house, standing sentry over her sister, just like he’d promised. Except there hadn’t been anything to protect against, not anymore.
He remembered standing in her foyer, the siren call of the sun just a few stumbling steps away, except he’d made a fucking promise to a fucking lady, and even though his world had ended, Dawn’s hadn’t, not yet, and he was going to bloody well keep his promise.
“Spike,” Dawn had said softly, like she was breaking. “I can’t go to sleep. I’m… I’m not…”
He’d inhaled the air of their home — god, it still smelled like her — and turned to Dawn as if he were strong.
“What d’you want to do, then?”
She’d tugged at the ceremonial dress she was still wearing, though she’d been bandaged up through the rents, no blood flowing, not anymore. “I need to change.”
He’d shrugged in acquiescence, but when he’d followed her up the stairs and she’d gone into the wrong room, he’d balked.
She’d made a face at him, stuck as he was on the threshold. “This is what younger sisters do. We borrow our big sisters’ clothes.”
‘Til the end of the world.
He’d gone in, slouching on the very edge of the vanity chair while Dawn was in the bathroom changing; not the pyjamas he’d expected, but a bright flowered dress.
“You should sleep, Niblet,” he’d said, choking on the air he needed to speak.
“I won’t be able to,” she said, voice firm. “I want to look nice for… for her. For tonight.”
“Bloody hell,” he’d muttered, stalking over to the window, right up to the edge of the sunlight. “You shouldn’t bloody be there when–”
“I’m going!” Dawn shouted, and they glared at each other for a long moment, before she turned back to regard her reflection in the mirror. “I’m going,” she repeated, her voice almost a whisper, and he’d sighed and stepped back from that entrancing patch of doom, finding a wall to lean up against.
When Dawn started on the makeup, he managed to remain silent until she started with the eyeliner, which was just too much; he swore under his breath.
Amazing how she could roll her eyes while applying eye makeup, but she did it. “What are you, stuck in the last century?”
“You’re doing it wrong,” he’d said gruffly, stomping over and taking up the applicator. “Can’t go looking like a sodding raccoon.”
When her eyes met with his approval, she’d dabbed on a little lip gloss and a little powder, and then rummaged in the jewelry box on the vanity; she’d made it as far as putting in the first of a pair of rhinestone studs, making strange, strangled sounds that he realised were held-back sobs, before she broke, sweeping everything off the vanity, earrings and makeup and some kind of cologne that spilled into the carpet like a taunt. Don’t smell the same, do I? it mocked. Not the same without her skin and her heat and….
He’d fallen to his knees beside Dawn and let her weep into his shoulder and stroked her hair, and wished he were dead.
“Why?” Dawn had wailed. “Why did it have to be her? I said I would do it. I said.”
Because she wouldn’t let it be you, he didn’t say, waiting for the torrents to subside.
And when they did, he’d given her his handkerchief — he had one, of course — and set her down at the vanity and cleaned off the tear-streaked makeup and brushed her hair until it shone like the sun, and she’d finally smiled wanly at him and gone off to bed after all, still in her sister’s clothes. When one of the other bloody Scoobies had come by to take the next watch, he’d taken the scent of the cologne back with him to his crypt, where he’d opened the first of many bottles and drunk the first of many toasts to the only woman who’d ever treated him like a man.
A pathetic man. But a man nonetheless.
“You look like a girl who could use some company,” Spike purred, sliding onto the stool beside Monica.
She rolled her eyes, shifting away. “Not really.”
Spike shrugged in unconcern, signalling the bartender for something a bit stronger than beer. “‘S all right. Not looking for companionship. Just wondering if maybe you had some information. Got a friend, worried she’s fallen in with a dodgy fellow. Kind who takes his leave after he’s got what he wants.” He pitched his voice a bit posher than usual, a shade closer to Englishman-who-wears-tweed-and-says-oh-my than Englishman-who-wears-leather-and-says-oh-fuck. He needed her to trust him.
Of course, it probably came out as Englishman-too-trollied-to-walk-straight, but only so much he could do in his current state.
Whatever voice came out, it seemed to be a good acting choice; Monica relaxed incrementally. “That kind of guy is the worst.”
“Thought perhaps you might know if this was a bloke who could be trusted. Would set my mind at ease, knowing she was in good hands.”
Monica shrugged, definitely warming to him. “I’m only a freshman so I don’t know a lot of people yet, but I’ll help if I can. What’s his name?”
“‘S that fellow over there, in the teal. Parker,” Spike said, as offhand as he could manage when he wanted to rip the wanker’s lungs out.
Monica downed the rest of her froufy drink, the little umbrella bouncing off her cheek and skittering to the floor. “He’s bad news.”
“He is?” Spike widened his eyes in disbelief. “But he seems like such a fine, upstanding fellow.”
“Oh no. No. Let me tell you a few things about Parker Abrams….”
Spike settled in to listen, trying hard not to smirk.
“…And you know what else? His father’s not even dead! Him and his all my scars are psychological and I don’t put anything off any more and all he was trying to do was make me think he was all wounded and needed me to heal him, when his daddy is totally still working at a big LA law firm and sending him money every month!”
Spike nodded, glancing up at the slayer in the mirror, as he’d done every twelve seconds or so for the past ten minutes. She had the look of a girl who was done with clubbing for the night. Ready for someone to walk her home. Bloody slayer, Spike thought viciously. If she’s going to shag some evil bloke who doesn’t deserve it, she’d be better off shagging one she bloody well knew was evil from the start, who’d at least make it worth her bloody while.
Someone who could appreciate the gift.
He finished his drink rather than finish that thought.
“Thank you for being so honest, love,” he said solicitously when Monica paused for breath. “I am convinced that he is a miserable cad, not worthy of a fine woman such as yourself.” He gestured for another bottle, fishing out some of the cash he’d liberated from his past self’s stash, and sighed sorrowfully. “Shame my friend most likely won’t listen to me. She’ll most likely believe it’s just rumours, hearing about it all second-hand like. And from a man, to boot. No, she’ll just chalk it up to jealousy and dig in her heels. She’s not the giving-up type, you see.”
Monica flushed. “I didn’t listen to my friends, either.”
“Breaks my heart to watch her sitting there, knowing she’s about to fall prey to such a bounder.” Spike looked pointedly up at the mirror.
Monica followed his gaze. “That’s her? With the ruffles?”
Spike shook his head sadly, averting his eyes as if it were too painful to watch her any more. Which it was. Bloody foolish, radiant slayer. “She’ll never listen to me.”
“Huh.” Monica stood up, jaw set. “Maybe she’ll listen to me.”
“Oh no,” Spike demurred. “You mustn’t go to any trouble….”
“No trouble at all,” she said stoutly. “In fact, it will be my pleasure.”
As his emissary of chaos strode forth across the room on her mission, Spike melted back towards the exit, finding a good vantage point from which to watch the rumpus.
God, it felt good to start a brawl.
Buffy felt good. All tingly and warm, like there were little feathers teasing at the tips of all her nerves, a vague sense of anticipation bubbling up inside her. It was just… really nice to have someone attracted to you, and to get to be attracted right back without feeling guilty or annoyed.
She knew she was pretty, and she thought she was funny, and she was darn sure that she was a person worth getting to know, but… somehow that knowledge never seemed to feel as true as having all those things acknowledged by someone else. Because when it came right down to it, she’d never had a successful relationship; everyone she’d tried with had either backed out, or been evil, or just not been able to deal with the reality of Buffy’s life.
Hell, Angel had done all three, at various points in time….
Buffy whacked that thought with a battleaxe of nope. She was not, not, not going to think about Angel, or any of the other miserable romantic false starts of her past.
She was going to think about Parker. Parker, who had a pulse and a reflection and all the things that most girls took for granted. She was just… so ready for someone normal and nice and human.
It wasn’t such an impossible list, not really. And Parker really fit the bill. Plus, eyes. He had nice eyes, and a nice smile, and he was just… nice. Just look at him, laughing with his friends as they played pool, so clean-cut and wholesome and…
Startled, Buffy tore her eyes from Parker-in-the-mirror. It was a girl about her age, dark hair, the kind who looked like she’d mastered the smokey eye before she’d learned long division. Buffy glanced around quickly, to make sure there wasn’t anybody else the girl could be looking at so seriously, but… nope. It was her.
“Have we met?” Maybe it was some girl she’d saved in an alley, she really didn’t spend a lot of time memorizing their faces.
“No, I’m new in town. Monica.” Her hand lifted off her purse as if she was about to offer it to shake, then thought better of it and clutched the strap even tighter. She seemed kinda weavy, like maybe she’d been drinking and had overdone it just a little.
“Buffy.” God, this was awkward.
“You’re here with Parker.”
Buffy glanced up at the mirror automatically. Parker was looking at her, a funny expression on his face. “Well, I’m not exactly here with him. I mean, we came separately, but we are kind of together, I think, and…”
“He’s not what you think he is.” Monica looked up at the mirror too, eyes narrowed.
“Excuse me?” Oh god, was Parker a demon after all? Dammit! Strike twenty-seven for Buffy. She braced herself for the bad news.
“He’s… not a nice guy.”
Buffy blinked. That was significantly less dramatic than she’d expected. “He’s… not a guy?” she ventured cautiously.
Monica got that are-you-nuts? look Buffy was all too used to. “He’s not nice.”
“Oh. But he’s… a guy.” Never hurt to confirm these things.
“Look, your friend asked me about him, and… we used to go together, Parker and me, so I thought…”
“My friend?” Buffy frowned, glancing around surreptitiously. What friend could that possibly be? Xander was off working at his job-of-the-week, and Giles had thankfully stopped trying to recapture his rocker youth, and Willow had headed off to canoodle with Oz during the band’s break… wasn’t that all her friends?
Monica’s hand finally leapt free of her purse, landing on Buffy’s wrist. “Listen, please. The thing about his father? It’s not true. And he isn’t a history major either, he’s pre-law. He’s just trying to get into your…”
And suddenly Parker was there, hands shoved in his pockets as his eyes shifted between Buffy and Monica.
“Hey, Buffy,” he said casually. “What’s up?”
But before Buffy could even open her mouth, Monica was talking again. “That’s it, Parker? Huh? I don’t even get a greeting?”
Parker’s eyes flicked almost nervously to the other girl. “Uh, hi… Mandy, is it?”
Monica’s face screwed up in a look of pure rage. Buffy winced, but the slap she’d been expecting never materialized. Instead, Monica punched him — hard — right across the jaw, and he went down like a sack of cement.
“Whoa, there, Rocky,” Buffy said, jumping to her feet, but by then Monica seemed to have snapped, and was straddling Parker, laying into him like she had a sacred duty. Buffy took a moment to admire her form while she tried to figure out who, exactly, she should be helping here. “Okay, okay,” she said, finally wading in, “I think he’s had enough.” Mindful of flailing limbs, she hoisted Monica off of him and passed her to some onlookers while she cussed and yelled insults. Then, crouching down beside Parker, she touched his face carefully.
“Nothing broken,” she said wryly. “Are you okay?”
“Oh man,” Parker said sheepishly. “I’m sorry about that, Buffy. I guess she just had too much to drink.” He smiled wanly up at her. “I’m glad you’re not that kind of girl.”
Buffy pursed her lips, unsure how to respond to that. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of blond hair — not just any blond, but a particular radioactive color she’d recognize anywhere — just disappearing out the back door.
“Hold that thought,” she told him with a brilliant smile. “I just need to go use the little girls’ room.”
She didn’t wait for his reply.
“Hey!” Harmony said indignantly as a drunk girl was flung at her from out of the crowd. “This isn’t high school! No throwing your food.”
Something was totally going down at the center of all those people, though, and it was vitally important that Harmony know all about it. She’d been hiding out in the lair for so long, just because Spike was afraid of the stupid slayer, and she missed the days when she and Cordelia and all their little hangers-on had known everything that was worth knowing, because only the stuff that happened to them was worth knowing. And sure, this wasn’t her stuff, but it was good enough for now.
“What’s going on?” she asked her potential dinner.
“I punched my ex,” the food said with a slightly dazed grin. “Really punched him, like in Karate class. I punched him a lot, that lecherous, slimy, lying bastard.”
“Men!” Harmony agreed, instantly on the same page. “They only want you for one thing, and once they’ve gotten it…”
“Let me at him, that little worm.” The girl was practically growling, shoving back towards the ring of bodies. “I wasn’t done!”
Harmony restrained her, patting her head comfortingly.
“I know, right? They’re all the same,” she soothed. “First they want you to hold them and stroke their hair while they cry over their stupid ex, then they do nothing but yell at you, and you can never do anything right. They just come and they take without giving! I am so sick of–” Suddenly furious, she pushed the wobbling girl onto a nearby stool. “Hold my purse,” she said decisively, “I’m going in.”
She’d never really been into the whole violence thing as a vampire, but for a guy like this, she could totally make an exception. And then she and her new bestie could drink Cosmopolitans and Harmony would finally have someone sympathetic to talk to about Spike.
She might not even eat her after.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/590509.html