Title: In for a Penny [8a/?]
Authors: the_moonmoth & bewildered/bewilde
Length: ~8,400 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.
Notes: Since last we saw all you fine folks, we have both been horribly busy working/being ill/parenting/so on and so forth, but we were also really keen to contribute, so here is a new chapter to the story we started last round. Honestly, just posting feels like a minor victory! But we are also hoping to have chapter 9 finished by one of the later free for all days, so keep your fingers crossed for us ;) You can read previous chapters here on LJ, or AO3, or EF. Many thanks to for beta reading. Posted in two parts because LJ.
Chapter 8, part 1
The last thing Buffy wanted to deal with tonight was all her friends butting in on her info-gathering session — not a date! Strictly business! — and so instead of heading out to the Bronze, where she was fairly certain the Scoobies had gathered to watch some band Oz was into, they ended up at some kind of sports bar. Nobody Buffy knew was into sports, not even her (which she supposed was funny since she’d once been a cheerleader for some of the sports she wasn’t into) so she figured it would be a safe haven from curious eyes.
It was also, thankfully, a slow night on which there were no important games of any major sportsball, and so they had no trouble finding a booth that was somewhat private and quiet, just some low classic rock playing over the sound system. Apparently they catered more to couples on less-sportsy nights; there was a space set aside for dancing, and a couple of girls encouraging their guys to let loose.
“You’re treating, right? I don’t go Dutch with mortal enemies.”
Spike lolled back into his side of the booth, grinning wickedly. “I’m a vampire. Vampires don’t pay for a damn thing.” Buffy started to stand up, and he hastened to lean forward. “But in this case, yeah, I’m paying.” He sniffed defensively. “”S Junior’s money anyhow.”
“Probably. But then I stole it from him, and I’m using it for you, who battles the forces of evil. That’s like the police confiscating drug money, isn’t it?”
“It’s not, actually.” Buffy folded her arms. “I think I’ll have water.”
“Bloody… And here I thought we were meeting in the spirit of reconciliation, working together towards a common goal, for the greater good.”
She raised her eyebrows. “And here I thought you were already working on the side of good. The side of good doesn’t steal.”
Spike’s jaw worked, like he was holding back a torrent of examples of the side of good stealing, but at last he sighed. “Got some… resources besides. Not stolen from anyone. Just need a day or two to find a buyer. If I promise not to steal anything while I’m here, and live off funds that are not stolen, can I buy you a bloody drink tonight?”
She gave him a narrow-eyed look and made him wait, so he knew she was serious, but then she nodded. “All right.”
“What’s your poison, then, love?” He plucked the menu out from behind the condiments and started perusing it.
He looked at her wryly. “Now there’s an ice-breaker. Also, I didn’t mean literal poison.” He didn’t argue further, just twitched the menu in her direction. “Hors d’oeuvres?”
God, why did he make it sound like he was offering sexual favors? She glanced over the appetizers section, finally settling on some spinach dip. Spinach dip was, like, the anti-sexy; maybe Spike would steal a bite, end up with some spinach caught in his teeth. That would be helpful.
When Spike added a platter of hot wings to their order — “No need for the dressing, pet.” — Buffy glared at him.
“I thought vampires didn’t eat,” she said. He’d better not be expecting her to eat those. She spent enough time getting blood and grass stains out of her clothes without adding buffalo sauce to the mix.
“Don’t need to eat. Doesn’t stop me from eating.”
“I thought….” She trailed off at his darkly amused look.
“Angel doesn’t eat, so the rest of us don’t either?” Spike shrugged. “His choice. Sad sort of life, if you ask me, only doing what you need to do and never what you want to do.”
“It’s not sad,” Buffy said, irked. “It’s… noble.”
That earned her a snort. “Yeah. Noble. You just keep on thinking that.”
Ugh, it’s like he could read her mind, like he knew she’d rather Angel was a little less noble and a little more here, doing what he’d said he wanted to do. “Why do it, though? Angel said food doesn’t taste like anything at all. Does it, I dunno, keep your teeth healthy or something?”
Spike glanced up at the waitress briefly as she delivered their drinks, turning his attention quickly back to Buffy. “Have you ever had turtle soup, love?”
“I’ve had a turtle sundae. Pecans and caramel and chocolate?” She could go for that soup.
“No, made from real turtles.” Spike chuckled at the look on her face — it wasn’t her fault it sounded gross! — and continued. “Back in my day — before Dru made me who I am — people were mad for turtle soup. So mad for turtle soup that turtles were hunted to near extinction. Still had it at the posher celebrations — not that I went to those, of course, not for me.” He gave Buffy an earnest, I’m-not-lying look that instantly convinced Buffy that Spike had been the scion of an aristocratic house, eating twelve-course dinners every day. “But I did… taste it once. Was like nothing I’d ever eaten.”
“I bet.” Yuck. She imagined a bowl of soup with turtle shells floating in it. That adorable turtle from Mario Brothers. Poor little guy.
“Thing was,” Spike continued, “everyone still wanted to serve it at their dinners, and so some housewife or cook came up with a recipe for mock-turtle soup, and that was what everyone ate instead. Some concoction of calf’s head and cow heels, all prepared very precisely, and it came out tasting almost like a hint of the real thing.” Spike took a quick sip of his drink, looking away. “If you’d ever had the real thing, or even… smelled it, been in the same room, you knew it wasn’t quite right, knew it was all a fraud, but you still… could pretend. Pretend you had something real. Pretend you were good enough for real… turtle soup.” He scowled at his glass of whiskey, swirling it.
The air suddenly seemed heavy, like they were actually talking about the Turtle Soup of Doom or something, and Buffy hastily interjected, “So there really isn’t a mock-turtle? Like in Alice in Wonderland?”
“Never was,” Spike sighed, then visibly collected himself. “Turtle’s not the point. Point is, food don’t taste the same now. As a vampire. You can taste everything, but the flavor’s a bit muted, a bit off. And of course, nothing tastes near as good as blood.” He grinned. “Blood tastes better than turtle soup ever could.”
“Ew, Spike. Off-topic.”
“Right.” He finished off his glass, gesturing for a refill. “In any case, you know Angel. He’s the type, if he can’t have everything just right, he’d rather not have it at all. Calls it artistry, or some bollocks. He’d turn up his nose at mock-turtle soup, holding out for the real thing. So of course the wanker won’t eat beef that doesn’t taste like beef. Whatever food tastes like now, he knows it’s not going to be how it really tastes, to a human, and so he doesn’t even want to try.”
Buffy shied away from that thought, taking a sip of her Diet Coke. Spike’s refill was delivered, and he matched her movements.
“Me, I don’t bloody care if it tastes the same or not. Your mum’s cocoa tastes good. Spicy buffalo wings taste good. And I imagine there’s other things that taste good, things I’ve never tasted.” He was suddenly watching her intently. “Things I’d do anything to taste.”
Oh god. Did he mean her blood? She hoped he meant her blood. Because if he didn’t mean her blood… She squeezed her legs together tightly and took a huge gulp of her Diet Coke, letting the aspartame taste wash away her sudden vision of Spike back in her shower again, except this time on his knees. Not that she had any idea what that would be like, but she’d bet her whole semester’s allowance that he’d know what to do, and that he’d put her loofah to shame.
Spike shook himself slightly and took another drink, humming with satisfaction.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Let me guess, that tastes good, too. Way to belabor the point.”
“Doesn’t taste good, precisely,” he mused. “Has a bite to it. The way I like it.”
“What does that even mean?” Buffy sniffed.
“Ever tried it?” Spike said with a slow smile.
“Of course not. Like I had time to be a juvenile delinquent.” She thought about Snyder’s opinion of her for a moment. And her police record. “Or, well, more of one.”
He raised a curious eyebrow, but thankfully left it alone and held out the glass instead. “Have a taste?”
Spike smirked. “Knew you wouldn’t.” He took another smug sip.
That sounded like a dare. “Give me that!” She snatched the heavy glass tumbler out of his hand, taking a mouthful of whiskey and swallowing it right down.
“Euuughh!” Holy crap, was she dying? Again? She was pretty sure this was what dying had felt like.
Spike took the glass back from her limp hand; when she was able to see again through the tears in her eyes, he was gazing at her as if she were a poodle who’d just done a particularly spectacular trick. “Not supposed to drink it like water, pet,” he said softly.
“Does all alcohol taste like napalm?” she finally managed. “Or does it just taste like apple juice to you?”
He tilted his head, regarding her steadily. “Do you want to try something tastier? Less like a weapon of mass destruction?”
Buffy looked at him, the faint amusement on his face, the challenge in the tilt of his eyebrows, the curve of his lower lip. “All right,” she said recklessly. “Surprise me.”
When the waitress returned with their munchies, Spike smiled up at her winningly. “Cuba libre for the lady. Make it with Captain Morgan’s, there’s a love.”
The waitress glanced at Buffy briefly, and she braced herself to be carded — not that she didn’t have a fake ID, everyone did, but hers was for a Mildred Hofstetter, and she didn’t want Spike to be calling her that all night, which of course he would, just to be a jerk — but then the waitress shrugged, apparently concluding that Buffy was close enough, and saved her from an evening of hearing Spike’s voice saying “Mildred.”
She wanted him to say her name again, at least once tonight. Buffy.
But what had he ordered her? “I am not so sure I want to drink a chupacabra.”
“Cuba libre,” he said slowly, lifting his glass to his lips again. “It’s a rum and coke with a twist of lime.” He closed his eyes as he sipped, as if… as if he were savoring the fact that Buffy had just drunk from the glass. She scoffed inwardly. How middle school was that?
Buffy watched his lips on the glass as he drank, imagining, because apparently she was right back in sixth grade too, all hormoned up and nowhere to go.
Spinach! Spinach dip was safe and non-sexy and would give her something to do with her mouth besides drool.
“So there was a point to the turtle soup thing?” Buffy said after she’d had a few pita chips. “Besides making me feel sorry for Yoshi.”
Spike shrugged again — did he know the sexyness that that did to his shoulders, the rat, or was he just a shruggy guy? “Point was, I’m not Angel. Not going to fuss over whether my turtle soup is more mock than real, just enjoying what’s set at the table before me. Life is meant to be lived, you know? Not wasted whingeing.”
“Oh, really?” Buffy leaned forward challengingly, arms folded on the table. “Who was it that kidnapped Willow and Xander and then dragged me into a pointless fight with generic vampire bad guys just because he was all shredded over his girlfriend dumping him?”
Spike’s eyes flared with something unreadable. “Got over it, didn’t I? You work through your bloody… twelve stages of grief, and you move on.” He looked away. “Or you bloody well do something about it.”
That had obviously struck a nerve. “There’s only five stages of grief,” she said, a little more gently.
He toyed with the straw in his drink. “Not if you include the Laggered, Blotto, and Absolutely Pyjama’ed stages.”
“Which one are you in now?”
He was silent for a long moment, chest tense, as if he were about to lunge out of his seat and storm out of the pub, but then he met her eyes with a fierce grin. “The doing something about it one.”
He glared at her then as if he hated her. “You’re like a bloody dog with a bone, aren’t you? Can’t tell you what went wrong. Ask me something else. Bloody anything else.”
She rolled her eyes. “Did you really once eat actual-turtle soup?”
He laughed then, and she smiled with him, because even with how weirdly tense the last few minutes had been, it had also been… compelling. Interesting, even, getting to know who Spike was, now that they weren’t fighting. Each other or together. And she suddenly remembered that look on his face when they’d been patrolling earlier, the way he’d turned to her in a cloud of vampire dust like a puppy expecting a Milk-Bone, and then a laugh did escape, imagining holding up one of Spike’s hot wings and asking him to beg. Though that image had her squeezing her thighs together under the table again a moment later, wondering just how he’d beg for things he’d do anything to taste. After the laughter dissolved — Spike’s face oddly confused, as if actual laughter was an alien concept to him (they weren’t the laughing-buddy type of friends in the future?) — she sighed and finished off her soda, pushing aside thoughts of dogs and bones and all the associated innuendos yapping for her attention. “I guess I just never thought about it.”
“Turtles?” He lifted his eyebrows mockingly.
“What you were like when you were human.”
Spike’s face froze in that way that was becoming all too familiar — that whoops, said something I shouldn’t, now the future is going to explode expression. It was kind of… no. No, it was absolutely not cute. Not at all.
“You should ask me about it sometime,” he said, face closing down. “Sometime when you really need the information. Life or death, you understand?”
“Sometime when it’s the other you?”
He gave her a sardonic glare. “Kewpie doll for the lady.”
Buffy’s drink arrived then, looking just like an ordinary soda except for the lime wedge on the edge of the glass. Spike reached out and nipped up the lime wedge between his fingertips, deftly wringing juice into her glass before dropping the bit of rind into the drink. He matter-of-factly licked the lime juice off his fingers, nodding towards the drink.
“Try it,” he said shortly.
Rolling her eyes, she took a sip, humming in surprise when it didn’t burn her tongue out. It had a bit of a bite, yeah, but… not bad.
She set her glass down and looked at him, the weirdly expectant expression on his face, and asked the one thing that had been eating at her since she’d first started believing he really was from the future.
“Why are you the one who got sent back? Why not me?”
Spike went still and silent, not even fiddling with his drink any more. Which was, okay, an accomplishment, getting him to shut up, but also majorly weird.
“Why not me?” she repeated. “I mean, it’s right there in the job description, one girl in all the world, yadda yadda, save the world. If anyone had to travel back in time to save the world, you’d think you’d send a professional world-saver, not an… an amateur maybe-former bad guy.”
Spike’s eyes hardened, his jaw twitching, and then he looked away. “You were unavailable.”
“What, I had a hot date Friday night?”
“Doesn’t bloody matter why,” Spike muttered, refusing to look at her. “Point is, I’m the one who came. And I told you, I’m doing my sodding best.”
“Why?” On an impulse, she reached out and grabbed his hand, tugging it until he looked at her. “Why do you care?”
He bared his teeth in what was probably intended to be a smile. “Promise to a lady, remember?”
And looking at his eyes, intense and angry and somehow vulnerable, Buffy couldn’t deny it any longer… Me. He means me. I’m the one he made the promise to. Because he thinks he’s in love with me.
This time she was the one to turn away.
“I wonder what Buffy’s up to,” Xander muttered, turning to glance at the entrance to the Bronze for the dozenth time. “You’d think she’d at least put in an appearance after we invited her and everything. We did invite her, didn’t we?”
“She said she had to patrol,” Willow replied, fiddling with the cuff of her sweater anxiously. Was it too close to hot pink? She hoped Xander didn’t notice, or if he did, that he’d already forgotten about the stationery thing.
“Right. Patrol.” Xander sighed. “Curse that sacred duty of hers, cutting into our very important Weekly Scooby Time.”
“We have Weekly Scooby Time?” Oz asked absently, watching the roadies setting up amps onstage.
Xander’s eyes bugged out just a little. “Of course we have Weekly Scooby Time! Just the guys and the girls, Scoobies all, getting together for a little quality time with our most important friends. The four amigos…” He paused for a moment, making that Math Face Willow had once found so adorable. “…There are four of us, right? We don’t count Giles.”
“Not unless he shows up at the Bronze,” Willow reassured him. “And really, like that’s ever going to happen!”
“I’m just saying it’s not technically weekly if we haven’t been doing it every week,” Oz pointed out, eyebrows twitching into the slightest of frowns.
Willow followed his gaze to the stage, where they had just started to set out instruments. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said quickly. “I just thought Shy was playing tonight.”
Willow bit back the first words that came to her lips, because she didn’t like to be the kind of girlfriend who was super-jealous for no reason, but she just… didn’t see what Oz saw in that stupid band with its stupid skanky lead singer with her stupid leather pants and the stupid way she practically ate the microphone when she was singing and the even stupider way she always seemed to be singing directly to Oz, even though hello! girlfriend right next to him! And okay, so maybe she did kind of know what he saw in… but it still kind of hurt. Even though she was the one he always went home with.
Still, it wasn’t fair to get all green-eyed and meany-faced over Oz liking music. She’d always known that Oz loved music almost as much as he loved her, and the Oz-who-loved-music was exactly the Oz she’d fallen in love with, and so of course she wouldn’t want to take that away from him, not ever.
Even if she did sometimes wish Shy would leave Sunnydale on an extended tour of Siberia, taking its lead singer along with. Possibly forgetting to bring her winter coat.
But anyhow, Willow didn’t want to spend their Scooby Time — weekly or not — thinking about Veruca, and she really didn’t want Oz to keep on thinking about Veruca, and so she hurried to change the subject.
“Buffy seems wigged about Spike being in love with her.”
That did distract Oz from his scrutiny of the Shy-less stage. “Well, it must be weird when your enemy suddenly has feelings for you.”
“Right, like Catwoman falling for Batman,” Xander interjected. “Oh wait, bad example.”
Willow rolled her eyes at that, but with a smile, because it made her remember how they used to hang out at her place to watch Adam West and Burt Ward punch things with Kapows! and Bams! and how Xander had once confessed his secret love for Catwoman and so she had dressed up as Catwoman the following Halloween but by then he had transferred his affections to Poison Ivy, and she’d had problems figuring out how to attach leaves to herself for that costume and had regretfully given up on her next-best-thing-to-a-sexy-supervillain romantic strategy. (She had been nine.)
“No,” she said patiently. “I mean, yeah, it’s definitely weird for her, but I actually meant the demon thing.” She looked around the table, taking in the guys’ blank looks. “Demons aren’t supposed to feel, right? Isn’t that what Giles always said? Or Angel? Someone with the knowhow, anyways.”
Xander opened his mouth, then closed it, looking thoughtful. Or maybe confused. Or maybe both; they really were almost the same expression on him.
“Huh,” Oz replied sagely, then looked at her, eyes piercing in that way he had of making it seem like Willow was the only thing he could ever possibly look at. “I love you.”
That melted her right down to her toes, like she was a Willow-sicle and he was the sun. The whole incomprehensible Shy-liking thing was completely forgiven. “I know, but you’re not… a demon demon,” she reassured him.
“Aren’t I?” he said softly, eyes flickering towards the stage for the briefest moment. But not brief enough. Maybe not so forgiven after all.
That did it. Willow was buying herself a pair of leather pants.
“I could turn you, you know,” Harmony said idly as she ran the brush through Monica’s hair. They’d decided to stay in, even though they were totally college girls now. Or, Mon was a college girl; Harmony was just there for the lifestyle, because her parents had never used to let her stay out late on weeknights. Just knowing they could’ve gone out was enough to satisfy her rebellious undead urges. Besides, bonding was totally important! Plus: movie night. And her bestie had such nice hair, all thick and dark and glossy, it was totally relaxing brushing it out, she felt all zen and shit. Harmony’s hair was long and thick, too, but it had a tendency to get bushy if she didn’t blow dry, and blow drying was so hard without a reflection. Monica’s hair stayed naturally sleek. Harmony was officially jealous.
“Was that a threat?” Monica laughed, but didn’t even look away from the Sandra Bullock epic of love left unacknowledged that they were watching on her roommate’s TV (Harmony could relate so hard, yearning for a guy who barely even noticed her, only to find out he was an asshole with a much nicer brother. She wondered if Spike had a brother.) Monica’s roommate had disappeared a couple of weeks into the semester, apparently, but left all her stuff. Harmony figured she’d probably just been eaten by somebody. She didn’t think it’d been her doing the eating, but, whatever — the girl had had nice stuff.
“No,” Harmony said, after a moment’s judicious consideration. She’d had to, like, decide if it was a threat or not — hello, she was totally still evil here, even if she was vegan now — but she shouldn’t lie to her best girlfriend. Okay, so she’d lied all the time to Cordelia when they were best girlfriends, but Monica was way nicer, and besides, Harmony was totally growing as a person, turning over so many new leaves she was practically a tree! But anyway, the point was, honesty was her new policy. “I just meant, if you wanted me to. Then you could be young and pretty forever, too, and we could, like, travel the world and stuff.”
Monica was quiet for a few moments, and Harmony waited, watching as Sandra and Bill Pullman (who was kinda geeky, but in a hot way — wow, was she, like, expanding her horizons? She was so proud of herself) slipped around on some ice and groped each other.
“Do you like being a vampire?” Mon asked eventually.
“Of course I do!” Harmony felt almost offended by the question. “I mean, I’m super strong, and fast, and I’ll never get old or gray or, ew, saggy.” Though, she hadn’t really ever thought about it before. “I guess not having a reflection kinda sucks,” she allowed. “And I miss hanging out at the beach. And my mom and dad won’t let me in the house anymore. And, well…” she realized she was welling up, and flapped her hands frantically, trying to hold it back. “I guess I’m not sure I see the point of being so strong when I’m not really any good at f-fighting.”
“Hey,” Monica said, turning away from Bill and Sandra’s killer sexual tension and taking her hand comfortingly. “At least you don’t have to worry about how much ice cream you can eat anymore.”
“That’s true,” Harmony sniffled. “But it’s not like it even tastes any good. I went and tried some, you know? After Spike… and he… so I treated myself to a chocolate fudge sundae and–” She couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, the tragedy was too great. “And it just– tasted like– nothing! Just a cold– lump of– no-o-o-othing. Just like me!”
“Oh, sweetie,” Mon soothed, and patted her back some. This close she smelled delicious, all fresh and warm and pulsating, better than all the chocolate fudge sundaes in the world. But Harmony decided the hug was nicer.
“You should totally come to karate class with me,” Monica said after a few moments.
“Yeah, I mean, there’s nothing I can do about the reflection and the ice cream and stuff, but I can teach you how to fight.”
Harmony wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Fighting was okay when it was really important and all, like giving the womanizing asshats of the world a piece of her mind, but it was total hell on the nails, and these days she had to do touch ups herself, because she was all empowered and stuff… and also because she was broke.
Then she suddenly pictured Spike’s face next time he tried to get all rough with her. Oh boy, would he get a surprise if she could give him a taste of his own medicine. In fact, if they were going to keep on with this help-I’m-a-hostage game, it’d totally be in character for her to be able to subdue him and stuff. She’d be, like, a Spike-subduing grand-master! Or, wait, grand-mistress, because duh. That would be worth a couple of chipped nails. Way, way worth it.
She took a deep breath (still weird, what with the not actually having to anymore) and found her inner courage, just like it’d described in that Cosmo article. She even let her eyes glow a little, all Eye of the Tiger and dramatic.
“Sign me up,” she said decisively. It was time to, like, take back control of her unlife and stuff.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/602917.html