Title: In for a Penny [3c/?]
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 3
Spike staggered out the door into the alley, reeling from more than just the alcohol currently coursing through him — god, he shouldn’t have switched back to liquor after the beer — and bubbling with incredulous laughter.
He’d done it. He’d separated the slayer from a tiny slice of pain, and he bloody well wasn’t even sorry.
You’d have done it too, he argued with the disapproving Willow in his head. If you could spare her even an ounce of misery, you’d bloody well murder your own parents and cease to be.
Except… god, did the slayer need that pain?
When he’d first come up against her he’d thought it was the support of her family and friends that made her so bloody hard to kill — and yeah, that was still a factor, but now that he’d had the chance to watch her in action over the long term, fight on her side, he knew there was more to it that that. Love supported her, but what brought out her deepest resolve was despair. Time and again she’d been broken and defeated and risen from the ashes like a bloody phoenix; he’d been half surprised she hadn’t stepped from her grave on the third day like the sodding Messiah.
Had he just killed her? Again, except maybe earlier?
The thought made him sag against the brick wall, suddenly wearied of all the what-ifs and caveats and bloody warnings. He had no sodding idea whether anything he did would make a difference, his only anchor a dimly-recalled past he’d barely even been present for, and his only hope the slim chance he would find someone to get a bloody piece of jewelry to exactly the right place at exactly the right time, so the one important change to the timeline would happen.
He just wanted her to live.
Fuck. He wiped a hand across his face, forcing himself back to the matter at hand. So, if he’d mucked up the timeline by cleaning up Buffy’s love life, what could he do to get it all back on track? He refused to patch things up with fucking Parker — not after having to listen to his mealy-mouthed vileness all night. (Spike appreciated a good bit of evil, but was it asking too much for a little style?)
He closed his eyes, the twists and turns of timelines and paradoxes and butterflies and two bloody months all roiling about in his head like wrestlers, and the thought that finally came out on top was…
If she needs a bad shagging decision… let it be me.
It was impossible of course, in the real world, but the logic of the wankered didn’t give a fuck for reality, and his sozzled brain traipsed merrily along that delicious path, imagining it all.
She couldn’t know it was him, because of course the slayer would never shag Spike if she knew he was Spike, but… he had the Gem of Amara. He could meet her out in the sunlight, perhaps dye his hair, stop taming the curls, dress like the clean-cut, floppy-haired prats she seemed to fancy, perhaps put on an accent — he did a fair American, in his considered opinion — and she’d never even suspect, even if she noticed the resemblance. They’d picnic in the sunlight and go to the bloody beach and god, maybe he’d even fuck her outside, the sun kissing her golden skin as he did, and he’d whisper her ridiculous, mellifluous name into her glorious hair and she’d look up at him with those glowing eyes, probably even greener in the light, and say “I love you, Sp–”
Oh, bugger. That was the problem, right there. She wouldn’t love Spike, she wouldn’t be shagging Spike, she wouldn’t even see Spike, she’d be shagging… Steve. Or Bruce. Whatever dickhead name he decided to give her that wasn’t his own, and whatever dickhead personality he put on to lure her in. She’d be fucking his disguise, and Spike would still be on the outside looking in, with nothing.
He’d had enough bloody nothing in his life, and besides, not like it was anything but pure fantasy to even begin to imagine….
The sound of the door being flung open behind him brought him up short. He froze, allowing himself a moment of denial, telling himself it was Monica come out to offer a thank-you shag, or He Without Gorm come to settle the score, but that was even more of a fantasy than a packet of sodding hair dye getting him into the slayer’s knickers; he knew who it was even before she spoke.
“Spike!” the slayer yelled. Resigned, he turned to face her as she stormed over, eyes flashing. “I should’ve known. What else could make my evening worse?”
He closed his eyes, suddenly overwhelmed by her nearness, her life. How was this fair? He’d been a good boy, looking and not touching for hours now, torturous hours, he’d tried so damn hard to keep away, followed Willow’s warnings to a T, and now the stupid, stubborn bint had come to him.
Of course, said stupid, stubborn bint was currently closing in on him in a towering fury, so shutting his eyes probably hadn’t been the best course of action. When he opened them again, he was lying on his back in a pile of stinking bin bags and wooden crates, probably lucky not to have been accidently staked by a splinter — not that it would’ve mattered with the Gem, but he wasn’t keen for a repeat performance just yet — with Retribution Incarnate standing over him. That cord around his throat that had been constricting him all evening tightened further. His vision wobbled. God, she was a sodding beautiful bitch.
He raised his eyes to the sky.
“Fuck,” he said, with the overly careful pronunciation of the completely rat-arsed, “you.”
Her look of wrath turned outraged. Muzzily, he allowed that that was fair – he’d kind of partially meant it for her, too. For the punch and for fancying Parker and for up and dying on him just as she’d started to see him. God, sometimes he thought he hated her almost as much as he loved her.
The world swam as he was hauled upright, and one hard little slayer fist bunched in his duster’s lapel while the other punched him a couple of times. It actually helped to clear his head.
“What are you doing here? Huh?” Out of nowhere, she suddenly had a stake to his chest. “Dru dump you again? Come to share the misery that is your existence?”
“Oh here we go,” Spike snarled, knocking the stake aside and pushing her away with belated twin shots of indignation and self-preservation . “Another round of Kick the Spike! How bloody brilliant is this? Come back all this way and it’s the same old sodding story. Blame everything on me, just like bloody always!”
He backhanded her across the face, satisfied when she staggered – less satisfied when he staggered too.
She glared at him, aghast. “Are you drunk?”
“Are you a vicious harpy who projects her oh-so-predictable feelings of heartbreak over her soulful-eyed, cardboard cut-out, maggot-dicked, mediocre lays on to poor, defenceless vamps?” he yelled, well aware he might not be making any sense, and caring not one bit. “Yes? Well then, I guess I am! In fact, I am absolutely, positively, one-hundred percent FUCKING GAZEBOED!”
She punched him square in the nose for that and he saw stars and laughed out loud, the fleeting joy he’d felt on first leaving the club fizzing violently back to life..
“Parker was not,” she punched him again, “A mediocre lay.”
“No,” Spike said gleefully, dancing lopsidedly away from her next attack before sweeping her feet out from under her. “He was a non-existent one. I s’pose,” it occurred to him as she rolled back to her feet, “that is actually my fault.” He glowered at her, pointing viciously. “But in a do-gooding way! I just saved you from a truly regrettable shag with Limpdick McGee, not to mention a humiliating little tete-a-tete in front of all your new college mates, so why’re you being such an ungrateful. Bloody. Cow!”
The goddess before him blinked. “Huh? Saved me?” Then her eyes narrowed. “Wait, did you say something to that girl to get her to… Oh my god! You paid her! You paid her to say those things to Parker.”
She barrelled at him, but the sharp edge of her anger was dulled by humiliation, and it was easy to use her own momentum to swing her into the wall.
“Christ on a cross!” he roared. “It’s always, always the same with you, isn’t it? Throwing your trust around where it hasn’t been earned, and meanwhile, the one vamp who’s actually trying to help you out gets stomped into the ground. No, I didn’t pay that girl. Didn’t do anything to her except encourage her to get a little catharsis. I saved you from making a big bloody mistake, and all you can do is–” She punched him. “ARGH!”
“Are you seriously trying to tell me,” she asked, interspersing her words with punches to his jaw, his abdomen, his solar plexus, “that you,” thwack, “William the Bloody,” smash, “were just,” crack, “TRYING TO BE NICE?”
She paused to let him respond and Spike wiped his bloody lip and stared at her. “Well, yeah.”
They stood a couple of feet apart, panting at each other. As she studied his face, her glower faded into confusion.
Somewhere inside of Spike, the dam burst.
“Because I couldn’t bear it,” he whispered harshly, as though she’d put a hook down his throat and dragged his guts out along with the words. “Couldn’t bloody bear it to see you brought so low again. Not after… Your eyes, god, your beautiful eyes, and you were so broken. Don’t ever… Want them alive, love, alive and hale and hearty. Want you proud and golden again. Want you happy. Want you alive. Want you…”
He realised he was weeping, but he was too drunk to stop it. She was staring at him with a mix of horror, loathing, and unwilling fascination.
“Spike,” she yelped. “Pull yourself together! I can’t stake you when you’re all…” She gestured at his pathetic self, and he tried his best to shove it all back in again. Was hard, though, now that it had started gushing out, but there’d been a reason he’d had to keep a cork in it, hadn’t there? Something important… “And what the hell do you mean, again?”
Spike stared at her dumbly for several seconds before the boozy clouds parted and he realised what he’d let slip.
“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit, shit, shit.”
His head cracked against the alley wall as she shoved him backwards into it. No stake in her hand this time, but her gaze was just as deadly.
“Something’s going on here,” she said darkly, “and I’m going to give you one chance to explain before I unscrew your head like a soda bottle.”
“Uhh…” Spike said, wracking his sodden brains. “Drusilla had a vision?”
“And you just had to come here to save me from a fate worse than Parker? Bull,” she sputtered, raising — fuck him — a fresh stake. “Explanation, Spike. Now.”
Emotion surged again, nostalgia and grief, the pure, potent joy of being in her presence. It was more than he could take, the bitter bliss of once again being at her mercy. “God, I love you.” The slayer’s stake hand fell limply to her side in shock, and Spike couldn’t help it, he reached out to her, and touched her hair. “Buffy,” he whispered. Her name tasted foreign and green on his tongue, fresh from lack of use, like spring or the air just after sunrise, and jagged as a thorn.
She stared back at him with vibrant, churning eyes; he couldn’t look away; her grip on his wrist made his bones creak ominously.
He was hammered, though, not stupid, and he already had his own grip on her other wrist, squeezing hard enough that she dropped the stake. She didn’t move away, however, or try to break the impasse, merely studying him with disbelief and more than a little disgust, but curiosity, too; she clearly knew he wasn’t going to try to bite her.
His mind was a complete blank, the combination of booze, and the fight, and Buffy Buffy Buffy…
“I’m from the future,” he said. It just came out. “Your future, if you want to be exact. Your little witchy friend sent me back on a mission, all world-saving like.” He paused, wondering… “You and me, we’re—”
Her eyes widened. “Don’t even—!” she breathed. Strangely it sounded more of a plea than a warning.
“Friends,” he lied. “We’re friends, Slayer. Fight the good fight together, hang out all the bloody time.”
“I don’t,” she bit out, “believe you.”
“Can prove it,” he told her. “You let me go…”
“You let me go.”
He grinned wryly, if a little wetly. “Together, then.” He didn’t even need to count. Watching each other intently, they let go at the same moment and Buffy stepped back enough to put fresh air between them. Spike wiped his face and took a lungful, trying to steady himself. Okay, okay, it was going to be…
“See this here?” He waggled the fingers of his left hand at her. “This is the Gem of Amara. I’m not supposed to get it until, well, later on. Lets me walk around in sunlight.”
Buffy looked at it, then back to him, mightily unimpressed. “A, it’s dark. B, so what? C, that is the ugliest ring I’ve ever seen.”
Spike was taken aback by her flat-out disinterest, but he supposed she had a point. Or points. Not about it being ugly, though — it reminded him of the ring he’d proposed to her with, during Red’s magical misfire. Red’s other magical misfire, he corrected himself. Good god, the girl either needed a teacher or an ASBO, and Spike wasn’t fussy about which.
“Right. Well, how about this? In approximately twelve months’ time, you’re going to meet a real slapper who thinks red is the only colour of the rainbow and can kick your arse from here to Sunday.”
“Seriously, Spike?” She rolled her eyes. “How is that meant to prove anything now?”
“Oh, right. Yeah. Good point, Slayer. Again.” For the first time that night, he was starting to feel as though letting himself get so shit-faced might not have been a good idea. “Wait, how about this? Dawn’s favourite breakfast cereal is Cocoa Pops, but your mum only ever let — sss — lets her have Wheaties.”
Buffy looked like she was three seconds away from belting him one again. “Who the hell is Dawn?” she growled.
“What?” he stood rooted to the spot, genuinely shocked. “Bite-sized one, brown hair, about yea-tall?” He considered a moment, then lowered his hand a couple of inches. “Kicked me in the nadgers as a thank you gift. When I set her free to piss off Angelus? Ringing any bells?”
“She sounds like a swell girl,” Buffy said with a nasty little smile. “Introduce me next time you’re not dusty.”
And as she raised her hand to swing at him again, it suddenly hit him with the same force as her blow that the girl he’d promised to protect, the girl he had lived for, whom Buffy had died for, didn’t even exist yet, and that on top of everything else was too damn much. Reeling from this realisation more than from the hard little slayer fist to his temple, Spike legged it.
Translation Notes for the Americans:
Note 1: the origin of the term “gazeboed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xewe4mlX2tc. In fact, we cordially invite you play “how many euphemisms for ‘drunk’ can Moony and Be fit into one fic?” :D
Note 2: ASBO stands for “Anti Social Behaviour Order”. It was a thing Tony Blair brought in to tackle troublesome yoof, antagonistic neighbours, and the like, supposedly to curtail their undesirable behaviour, but which inevitably became a badge of honour. If you’re not British it’s kind of hard to explain just how hilarious the idea of Willow being slapped with an ASBO is, but trust me, it’s hilarious ;)
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/590711.html