Title: In for a Penny [5b/?]
Authors: the_moonmoth & bewildered/bewilde
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Length: ~11,000 words this chapter (yes, yes we do have a problem)
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 5, part 2
Spike wasn’t sure what was responsible for the heady bliss that suffused him. Maybe it was the feel of the sun on his skin, warm and tender instead of a deadly inferno. Maybe it was the knowledge that yes, he had succeeded in averting a regrettable interlude in the slayer’s past. Or perhaps it was the anticipation of a glorious battle against her.
Or maybe he was just mullered. Hard to tell; it had been a while since his last drink — had to prepare, after all — but the better Scotches tended to linger.
Watching Buffy kick what’s-his-face to the curb had been delightful, his old memories of her humiliation written over with this new memory of her strength, and when she’d finally turned in his direction, face alight with wicked trickster glee, he’d been dazzled. It had been a revelation, and he’d suddenly reconsidered his conviction that pain was the wellspring of the slayer’s strength. Perhaps… perhaps her incredible resilience and fortitude in the face of despair was only a shadow of what she was capable of.
What might she achieve buoyed up by joy?
But she was almost on him, and he mustn’t miss his grand entrance. He’d rehearsed it the whole time he’d been watching her, feeling the truth of it — like a bloody method actor — and precisely on cue he stepped into her path, hands shoved deep in his pockets to hide their trembling, and said his line like he was bloody Laurence Olivier. She looked up at him, eyes already stormy with promised retribution, and he looked down at her, his smile feeling fit to crack his cheeks, and oh, how he loved her.
He couldn’t remember what else he was supposed to say.
Well, all right, that was a lie. He remembered every barb he’d hurled at the slayer, like they were last week’s leftovers, but he couldn’t bring himself to say them. Wallowing merrily in the slayer’s humiliation had been all well and good last time around — was how they bloody well fought, the both of them, verbal darts and jabs just part of their vast arsenal, it wasn’t like he’d really meant any of it (even if he hadn’t known that at the time) — but now she wasn’t humiliated, she was powerful and strong, kicking sand in her former-user’s face, and all Spike could do was… bask in her aliveness.
He remembered the fight, though, and that he could not resist; he grinned at the Slayer, who was glaring at him in resigned annoyance, and punched her in the nose, sending her crashing to the ground, and — yes, that line was absolutely still true.
“Isn’t it a fantastic day?” he exulted. “Birds singing. Squirrels making lots of rotten little squirrels. Sun beaming down in a nice, non-fatal way.” He ran a hand down his stomach, reveling in the warmth. “It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to see if I freckle.”
She had a stake in her hands in seconds, and oh, this he remembered too, how he’d dropped his guard on purpose, inviting her stake just so he could laugh in her face after; he fell into the rhythm like it was a dance, one of the measured, precise minuets he’d learned in his human days, and when her stake landed in his heart — god, it hurt worse than the last time! — he caught her wrist and pulled her close, holding the stake in place. She stared up at him, face inches away from his, panting.
“Do it again,” he murmured, low and rough. He was giddy from the feel of her hot breath, the scent of her hair, her strong body so close to his, his heart run through, pain and joy and bitter grief all muddled up in his head. “It tickles. You know, in a good way.”
She shoved him away, eyes wide, and he staggered at the loss, the loss of her and the loss of the pain, but as the hole in his heart healed up as if it had never been, the other hole in his heart — the Buffy-shaped one, the one he’d been filling desperately with liquor and guilt — somehow it seemed to be healing too, perhaps not without a scar, but… god. She was alive, she was alive, here and now, and the fear that he would still fail in his mission couldn’t possibly dim his glee in this moment, or in her.
“So,” she said, circling slowly. “I guess you were right about one thing. You can walk around in the sunlight.”
“Two things,” he pointed out, matching her steps. “Not that I’ve heard a word of gratitude.”
She made a sour face, but instead of answering, she changed the subject. “Funny how you didn’t bother telling me about the no-staking thing.”
“More fun to show you, love. But then again, perhaps it was a fluke.” He raised his eyebrows mockingly. “Perhaps you should try it again, see if it takes this time.”
“Next question.” She punched him in the jaw. “Does this hurt?”
He rubbed the bruise, feeling the tingle as it started to fade. “Had worse.”
“Poor Spike. Guess your little ring isn’t all it’s cracked up to…” Her eyes suddenly focused on his hand. “You’re not wearing it.”
“I’m not?” Spike splayed his bare hands out in front of him, studying them ostentatiously. “Fancy that.”
“Then how…” Buffy glanced up at the sun, still bright overhead.
He grinned, rubbing his hands sensually over his chest and down his body. “Other places one can wear a ring, you know,” he purred, voice deep with insinuation.
Buffy’s eyes followed his hands all the way down to his crotch — and clearly her mind did too, possibly via a naughty path, because her cheeks turned instantly pink and her eyes went ever-so-slightly unfocused; he hooked his thumbs in his pockets, arranging his fingers like a frame around a certain Other Place.
“Gross, Spike,” Buffy muttered, raising her fists again, though her voice was lacking in conviction.
“My, my,” he tutted, giving his fingers a helpfully eye-catching wriggle. “What are you thinking, Slayer?” When she didn’t immediately punch him in the nose, he went on, dizzy under her gaze. “Not to brag, but it clearly wouldn’t fit.”
Buffy’s mouth fell open as if to argue, then closed with a snap, obviously unable to lie that egregiously, because it didn’t take a magnifying glass to see what he had to offer. Not with him half-aroused from fighting her, and growing more so with every moment her eyes were on him.
“Go on,” he growled. “You want to find where I’ve hidden the Gem of Amara? Why don’t you search me?”
She swallowed, then lifted her eyes to his, proud. “It’s probably just on your toe.”
“What? No!” he scoffed, trying very hard not to wriggle the toe in question. Bloody ring chafed. “Perhaps I swallowed it, did you think of that?”
She rolled her eyes, obviously not buying it.
He’d known if he was going to change the end-game of this fight, he couldn’t possibly wear the ring on his finger — especially not since he’d already so-cleverly displayed it to Buffy, who would never forget anything that might give her a tactical advantage — and he’d toyed with several possible scenarios to handle it, but decoy jewelry might not fool her and would look tacky as fuck, and he wasn’t going to wear fucking gloves when fighting the slayer, not with the possibility of touching her skin, so finally he’d just worked the ring onto one of his toes, counting on his socks and Docs to keep it in place. Seemed to be doing the job so far, though he was making sure to keep tabs on the nearest sewer entrance, just in case it worked itself loose.
He tempted fate anyhow, bowing slightly and presenting his foot — the one without the ring. “Have at it, pet. Been a long day, could do with a foot massage. Perhaps you could bring me the evening paper as well.” His brain immediately launched into a complex fantasy involving the slayer, the Times, and his tongue inspiring her to solve the crossword in record time.
“You are such a pig,” Buffy growled, lunging for his laces — he should have known she wasn’t a crossword woman; he lashed out, boot slicing the air just above her head, reeling back as she launched up into a gut punch that would have ruptured intestines, if he’d had a functioning digestive system. He could practically feel his dead cells knitting together; it itched. Interesting how she hadn’t gone for his crotch, though…. He laughed and leapt into the fray.
They fought along the path for a bit, exchanging blow after blow that would have killed a human; Spike was surprised when he whirled into a roundhouse kick that was supposed to connect with her head, and instead connected his chest with her stake.
“You got me,” he hissed through the pain. “What are you going to do with me?” Her lips were trembling, close, too close to his.
Her fingers wriggled on the stake, still embedded in his chest, but she didn’t have an answer; she flung him away like a cockroach in her chardonnay.
“That’s twice,” he grinned, clutching at the former hole in his chest. Fuck, it hurt. A bloody glorious pain. “Third time’s the charm.”
She stalked around him, eyes bleakly riveted to his face. “I should have killed you years ago.”
“Yeah, you should have,” he agreed. He lunged in, weaving under her fists, until they were face to face. Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated by the sun, a dozen shades of green and brown mapped out in her irises; he drank them in. “Do it,” he murmured, lost in the green. “Kill me.”
She inhaled, eyes dilating even more, and he just looked at her, the light in her eyes and the mist of her breath and the beat of her heart, like a drumbeat sending him to war.
“Kill me,” he snarled again, meaning it.
It didn’t take, of course; he slid off of her stake like an afterthought, her eyes regretful on his for that bare moment before they shifted to indignation. He could almost read her mind: How dare he be undusty when she had decided it was time for him to dust?
He dared. He would dare anything, as long as it led to something other than her dead body under a tower.
He kicked; she parried. She punched; he ducked. Finally he managed to get a thumb into the tendons of her wrist; she dropped her stake with a cry, and he twisted her arm behind her back.
Pushing her hard up against a lamp post, he murmured roughly in her ear, “Do you believe me now?”
She hooked his ankle, sending them both tumbling to the ground, wrestling for dominance; she ended up on top, her knee jammed into his solar plexus.
“What, that you’re my boyfriend from the future, here to save the world?” She took his throat in her hand, batting her eyes in mock flirtation. “What do we do on dates, neck?”
Spike wondered briefly how the Gem of Amara would handle his head being ripped from his body — slayer was strong enough for it, no doubt — but it was hard to care with her all hot and vicious and on top of him; he didn’t try to force an answer past her constricting fingers, just stretched sensually beneath her with a knowing grin.
Her face shifted oddly, but before he could interpret her expression she launched off of him, somersaulting over to where her stake lay in the grass; he flipped up to his feet, sauntering towards her.
“Looks like I’m about to break the world record for most guys kicked to the curb in a single day,” Buffy breezed, stake securely in her hand again. “Oh, but don’t feel bad, honey. It’s not me, it’s you.”
“So you do believe me?”
“Of course I don’t believe you,” Buffy said. “I just thought I’d indulge your little fantasy world while I’m beating the crap out of you.”
“Indulging my fantasies, are we?” Spike let his eyes roam longingly over her body. “Now there’s a thought. Perhaps you should ask me what my fantasies are?”
She flushed again. “I think it’s pretty obvious what you want. Lucky for you I am totally on board with kicking your ass from here to Sunday.” With that, she hurtled forward, and their fight began anew.
Something was different, though; she seemed more reckless, like the wry composure that usually inspired her fighting had been shaken, and Spike found himself growing hotter in response, matching her gasps of exertion with his own, until Spike could almost believe the violence was as erotic for her as it was for him.
After a particularly heated flurry of blows, he fell back so he could see her, flushed and disheveled as if they’d been shagging after all.
“Got some frustrations to work out, do we?” he taunted.
She tossed her head, hair flying. “Frustrated you’re alive.”
He clucked his tongue pityingly. “That’s all right, Slayer. If you have any… urges that need satisfying, you can take them all out on me.” He spread his arms wide in invitation. “Give it to me good.”
And ah, it was better than good. It was perfect.
They ranged all over the grassy quad — oddly empty for the middle of a college campus on a sunny day — punching and kicking and tumbling, until Buffy went in for another staking and left herself wide open; Spike ripped the stake out of his own chest, sending it flying, and pinned her against a bulletin board, her arms and legs immobilised by the press of his body, and his world narrowed down to nothing but this, him and the slayer, frozen in time, and the sun setting them ablaze.
His lips hovered a breath above her neck, so close he could feel the heat of her skin, taste the salt of her sweat. Her body was quivering against his; his fangs itched with the desire for her blood. He’d rehearsed this moment a hundred times, perhaps a thousand, ever since he’d first been thwarted by a mama bear with a fire axe; he’d had a thousand witty lines just waiting in the wings for their chance to be a star. And he could do it. No chip, no leash, nothing to stop him. He could have her.
“I win,” he whispered instead, letting his lips brush her in the barest caress, and then it was all too much for him and he released her, staggering back under the shade of a tree, the sun suddenly too bright to be borne.
She turned to him, wide-eyed, gasping. “What the hell is your game, Spike?”
“No game,” he managed, looking away. “Not a bloody game.”
She rubbed at her neck, just where his lips had been. “You always have a game. I bet Dru really did have a vision before she dumped your pathetic ass.”
He thought of the fungus demon — god, how he’d hated that smarmy bugger, with his fancy airs! Acting like he was a sodding truffle when he was just a bleeding mushroom! — and started to laugh. “I told you the truth,” he said at last.
She’d regained a bit of her composure, enough to roll her eyes. “Right. And I’m going to be crowned Queen of England tomorrow.”
Spike regretfully banished the image of Buffy wearing the Crown Jewels — and nothing else — from his mind. “Not lying. I came from the future, and I’m here to save the sodding world.”
“Yeah, you keep saying that, but just like you told me before, vamps love to talk big. And you’re nothing but talk, Spike.” Buffy lifted an eyebrow. “I’m still waiting for you to prove it.”
All right then. He drew himself up, tugging his clothes into order. Bitch wanted proof? He was bloody well going to deliver this time.
He held his hand out to her. “Come with me if you want to….” He stopped himself before he said it. “Bugger. Just come with me.”
She looked at his hand dubiously. “Not exactly inspiring of the trust here.”
He rolled his eyes. Bloody stubborn bint. “I was telling the truth about Parker Arsemonger, wasn’t I?”
She made a face and nodded grudgingly.
“Could have killed you just now, but I didn’t, did I?”
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s tried to lure me off to be a sacrifice, or spell component, or zombie piece, or some other really lame thing I was needed alive for.”
His outstretched hand clenched into a fist. God, she was the most maddening, infuriating, intoxicating, stubborn, beautiful, deadly woman on the planet. No wonder he loved her. “You want answers,” he grit out. “Come with me and you’ll get them.”
She pointedly did not take his hand, picking up her fallen stake and folding her arms forbiddingly. But when he turned to go, she fell into step beside him. Precisely staking distance, in fact.
It was all he could do not to weep.
Buffy wasn’t a complete idiot. She knew there was a better-than-even chance that whatever was going on with Spike, it was likely to end up with her life in peril. Because Spike. At the same time, their fight just now had felt… off.
He hadn’t been trying to kill her. Again. She’d bet her life on it.
She was, in fact, betting her life on it.
And she was trying very hard not to think about what he had been trying to do, with his innuendoes and his tight jeans and that look on his face every time she staked him, that look that made her feel hot and melty, like a grilled cheese, if grilled cheese sandwiches were prone to making extremely bad life choices.
Of course, not thinking about it made her think about it even more, and it was horribly clear that some part of her was ready to board the flight to Bad Life Choiceland; thank god for her brain, which was fortunately holding onto some sense.
And yet… there was a tiny bit of her brain that thought… no! God. The fight had been, maybe, kinda hot, but that was just how she was. Faith had nailed it way more than Buffy had ever let on. And it was wrong, oh so wrong, but it had always been fine as long as they hated each other. But Spike… didn’t seem to hate her anymore. And that, well, that was tricky. That removed her safety net. She was not enjoying the feeling of freefall.
Maybe it was the Gem. Maybe he’d just slipped it on and it had fried his brains, like Willow had suggested. What other possible explanation was there? Sure, there was the time travel thing, but even if he was telling the truth about coming from the future — and that was a big damn if — it surely would’ve had to have been years, decades, for him to overcome their mutual hatred and fall in love with her. Of course, he was a vamp, it wasn’t like he was ever going to get older, so maybe…
She glanced at him as they walked, trying for a moment to imagine him as something more than an enemy. Anything more than an enemy. But in the end the thing she was most struck by was how strange it was to see his face by daylight. She would never admit it out loud, but she was more familiar with the feel of his body under her hands than the fine lines around his eyes that the sun brought out.
Fighting was intimate, that’s all it was. Bodies in close quarters, all that panting, and rubbing, and… nnnnnnno, no, bad Buffy brain. With an effort, she forced her thoughts back on track. Spike was smirking at her, though she didn’t want to even approach why, so she just scowled at him before fixing her eyes dead ahead…
… and stopped in her tracks at the walkway that led up to the mansion. Willy’s info had been good, then. Something bitter twisted in her gut. She hadn’t been inside since Angel had…
Spike stopped halfway up the walk, looking back at her, smirk gone, eyes unreadable. “I know,” he said finally. “I hate it, too.”
She gave him a poisonous look — because really, what the hell was up with him sounding sympathetic? Totally suspicious — and stomped up the walk, eyes skittering over the mansion’s fancy concrete facade to land on the heavy door. Spike reached out ahead of her, hand pausing just short of the knob, before he decisively grasped it and pulled the door open, glaring at her as if she’d raised a fuss.
She lifted her chin a notch higher and sailed right on through, stopping just inside the doorway.
Oh. Oh god. She’d heard, but of course she hadn’t actually believed. How was that even possible?
“Well, well, well,” the chained-up Spike on the other side of the room said, eyes speculatively roaming up and down her body. “I see you brought me some takeout after all. Thanks, ever so.”
The door shut behind her with a thud.
Chapter 6 (coming in a month or so…)
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/593353.html