Fic: In For A Penny – Chapter 9a

This entry is part 12 of 14 of the story In for a Penny

Title: In for a Penny [9a/?]
Authors: the_moonmoth & bewildered/bewilde
Rating: NC-17
Length: ~7,100 words this chapter
Timeline: s4-5
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: Embarking on the first of our episodes re-writes in this timeline o/ Some dialogue taken from Fear Itself, for which we cannot take credit. Currently unbeta’d, but we will re-post when our poor beta has actually had a chance to look at it! Posted in twoTHREE parts (again) because LJ (again) — apologies for the teeny tiny posts *soft weeping* 

Chapter 9

“I don’t know.” Xander stepped back from the pumpkin, knife held loosely in hand, with a look of disappointment. “I was going for ferocious, scary, but it’s coming out more dryly sardonic.”

“It does appear to be mocking you with its eye holes,” Willow agreed with Xander.

Oz nodded. “Yet its nose hole seems sad and full of self-loathing.”

Lying on the bed, Buffy made a half-hearted attempt to hide her amusement, but it was kinda hard, as good-moody as she was. She knew the others kept slanting her funny looks and raised eyebrows at the way she sometimes couldn’t help from breaking into smiles, but it was just that life was kinda good right now, and how often had she been able to say that since she’d been called? In fact, the last few nights had been some of the most fun of her slaying career. Not that, you know, she was taking her sacred duty lightly or anything — she really wasn’t — but having Spike tag along was… Okay, it was a crazy idea, but also somehow kind of wonderful. Anyway, it wasn’t like she’d invited him, or, well, Spike could take a punch to the nose as an invite, but she hadn’t asked him to come. She just… hadn’t really been trying all that hard to make him leave, either. Stupid vamp, smiling at her like that whenever she insulted him, he clearly didn’t know what was good for him. But what he did know was how to fight, and more specifically, how to fight alongside Buffy. She hadn’t had an ally like that since before Faith went bad, and it was — god — it was so nice. She supposed she just had to hope it wasn’t prophetic. Weirdly, though, she was feeling optimistic.

“What do you think, Buff?” Xander asked, turning the attempted jack-o-lantern around to show her.

She bit her lip, forcing her thoughts back into the room. “You know I like to be support-o girl…”

“But?”

Buffy grinned, and turned her own pumpkin around for the appraisal of the room. “Mine’s better.”

“Now, see, that,” Xander flapped a hand at Buffy’s creation. “That’s ferocious and scary. No fair.”

“What can I say?” she said smugly, twirling her knife casually in her palm. “I’m good with edged weapons.” Spike had certainly thought so, after they’d taken out that Hanakuso demon together. Now that had been fun. Someone else copping the demon goo for once was always a good time, but when that someone else was Spike? Buffy could feel the corners of her mouth curling up treacherously again at the memory. The look on his face had been priceless — she’d been all set to enjoy the tirade she’d been certain was coming. Only, she hadn’t been able to keep her laughter in, and then he’d been laughing too, reluctantly at first, and then with a kind of self-deprecation she’d found almost shocking. He’d been pissed about his precious duster, of course, but mostly he’d seemed like he was enjoying a joke with her. Enjoying her. It was… she didn’t know. The word confusing had kinda lost all meaning by this point. But since that first not-a-date at the sports bar when she’d had to admit to herself that Spike had feelings and they were just as real as hers, everything he did had suddenly taken on this… depth that she wasn’t accustomed to applying to vampires. Soulless vampires. Not that she was absolutely a hundred percent sure that made a difference anymore, not with the depth and the feelings and the confusingness and…

He was just so unexpected. Like, not Spanish Inquisition unexpected; more like, huh, surf and turf really is a good combo unexpected. All sizzly and yummy and, uh, wait a sec, that hadn’t been what she’d meant at all…

“That’s a nose hole with evil intent,” Oz confirmed, dragging her attention back to the present yet again. “Nice detail on the fangs.”

Willow gave an exaggerated coo. “Aww, is it a little jack-o-lantern vampire? Oh, oh, it’s a vamp-o-lantern! Look at its little grr face.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows, swivelling it back to consider its leering expression. “So it’s a scary, evil, but weirdly adorable vamp-o-lantern. I think I did something wrong, because that’s not a combination that exists in nature.”

Although, future-Spike came disturbingly close. Completely deniable sizzly yumminess aside, the thing she found most weirdly intriguing was the warm, squishy center he would sometimes leave alarmingly on display. Like he didn’t know wearing that kind of thing on his black leather sleeve would get him destroyed.

They hadn’t revisited the things they’d talked about in the sports bar. Honestly, Buffy hadn’t felt the need, and Spike too had seemed like he’d said his piece and was perfectly content to move on. He hadn’t even mentioned the dance, which was… no, it was definitely of the good, even if she had been a little disappointed not to be cajoled into a repeat performance when they’d wound up there again a couple of nights later. She just… there was something about him that was so… god, she had not just been thinking the word attractive. Yeah, okay, his face and his body — he was yummy surf and turf goodness — but there was a whole underworld of difference between genetically gifted and I like spending time with you. Except, the thing was, she kinda did like spending time with him. He made her laugh and he was interesting. Well, not him per se, more like the things he wouldn’t tell her about his mission but would sometimes let slip, yup, that was what was really interesting. Way more interesting than, for example, his stupid stories about turtle soup, or the way his carelessly fond looks would slide in under her guard and warm her through.

She absolutely did not feel protective of that vulnerable, gooey middle.

“Okay, and on that disturbing note.” Xander interrupted her thoughts with… her thoughts? She eyed him suspiciously, wondering if she’d somehow voiced any of her Spike-related musings aloud. “I’ve got a treat for tomorrow night’s second annual Halloween screening. People, prepare to have your spines tingled and your gooses bumped by the terrifying–” he brandished the cassette dramatically. “Fantasia. Fantasia?”

A mild kerfuffle ensued. Oz bemoaned that he just didn’t find hippos in tutus unnerving anymore, and they all awkwardly realized that no one had actually done the inviting part of inviting Xander to the Alpha Delta party. Buffy eyed the clock while the others did the requisite stumbling around in apology-land, and the follow up trip to plan-making world, wondering the whole time if she could get away with heading out early. Not… not to see Spike. Well, she almost certainly would see Spike, but that wasn’t the reason she wanted to bail on her friends. No siree. She just needed to get some exercise after all this good, relaxing Scooby-time. She’d sleep better for it. That was absolutely the main and most important reason she had to go — quality rest was important for the world saveage, any hero would say as much. And hopefully her friends would say as much, too.

Well, only one way to find out.

“I’m gonna get going,” she said when it seemed like they were winding down, rolling to her feet as nonchalantly as she could manage.

Xander started. “Now? The night’s still…” he checked his watch. “Okay, it’s a little mature, but still.”

“Patrol,” she said with a shrug. “You know me, no rest for the… slayer of wicked things. Except, you know, when I go to sleep. Which will happen straight after patrol. In my own bed,” she added for good measure.

“You want me to come with?” Willow asked.

“No!” she almost yelped, surprising even herself. She looked around the room, feeling suddenly flustered. “I mean, no, I’m fine. Thanks, Will, but I got this.” And before any of them could question her, she made quickly for the door.

***

“Did you think Buffy seemed weird tonight?” Willow wondered out loud as she and Oz were walking back towards campus, hand in hand.

Oz shrugged. “She seemed happy.”

“That’s what I mean,” Willow said. “Weird!”

“Buffy can’t be happy?” he asked, raising his eyebrow in that adorable, ironically-befuddled way.

“No, that’s not what I meant. It’s just, you know…” she stumbled, unable to figure out how to word it.

“The last time she seemed happy, she’d lost most of her soul, and before that no one can really remember,” Oz offered.

“Right!” she said, relieved that he got it. Oz always got it — got her. That was one of the things she loved most about him, and no leather-pants-clad harpy was going to make her forget it. She just hoped said harpy wouldn’t make him forget it, either. “And she just ditched Parker, so it’s like, you go, girlfriend, being all unbroken-up about it, but also, why isn’t she more broken up about it? It’s great and all, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it a little peculiar.”

Oz shrugged philosophically. “Parker’s a sleazebag.”

“The sleaziest,” Willow agreed. That was definitely not in dispute.

“Maybe Buffy just figured out how much better off she is without him.”

“I guess,” Willow said, though that didn’t really sound like Buffy in her very educated and Buffy-knowing opinion.

Oz put his arm around her and she sensed a note of caution before he said, “You sound… disappointed. Did you want her to be sad?”

“No! Of course not! I…” But Willow’s burgeoning outrage flopped quickly into vaguely shamefaced acceptance. Oz really did get her. “It’s just, I kinda expected some girlfriend time, you know? Ice cream and chick flicks and a shoulder to cry on. But instead she’s brushing Parker off like one of Cordelia’s boy-toys, and staying out late every night on ‘patrol’, and I think I see less of her now than when she was actually dating Parker. Or, you know, not-dating him…”

Oz gave her a sly little sideways look as she trailed off. “Feel better now?”

Willow smiled sheepishly. “Yeah.”

“Good.” He squeezed her against him, and she felt warm inside, and happy again. “So now can we address the quotation marks around patrol?”

“You noticed that, huh?”

“Not much slips by me, it’s true.”

Willow rolled her eyes smilingly. “It’s nothing, just a suspicion.”

“A Spike-shaped suspicion?”

“Have you been reading my Ars Notoria? Because that mind-reading spell was a flop when I tried it,” she joked. Immediately, the lighthearted mood fizzled, Oz’s arm dropping back to his side.

“You know I don’t like you using that book,” he said. Oz was the most non-confrontational guy she’d ever met, so his tone was more worried and disappointed than angry or accusing, but still, she felt accused.

“I need to learn,” she told him. “You might have noticed, but UC Sunnydale isn’t exactly Hogwarts. Some of the spells in that book could be really useful one day.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “I just worry.”

Willow felt mildly annoyed, as she always did whenever this came up. It was sweet that he cared, of course it was, but his concern always seemed out of proportion to the risk, and smacked of a lack of confidence in her abilities. First Giles, with his not believing she could be the witch who sent Spike back in time, and now Oz too! She could handle the magic. She could so totally handle the magic. And if Oz could get everything else about her, why couldn’t he get that, too?

“Hey,” Oz said, touching her arm so that she stopped walking and turned to face him. “Why the frowny face?”

“I don’t want you to worry,” she said, almost truthfully, and more than a little petulantly.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, with another little shrug, “but that’s just part of the Daniel Osbourne boyfriend package. Think you can handle it?”

Willow pouted, but decided she could probably put it behind her for now. It was only a mild annoyance, after all, and she knew he’d come around to her way of thinking once he got to see what she could do. “I guess.”

He smiled, a small flick of the mouth and a blazing warmth in the eyes. “Come here,” he said, reaching for her.

His hands smelled of pumpkin as he wound them through her hair. She had never really been into the whole Halloween thing, but what with the Oz-attention-grabbing costume of junior year, and now the pleasant holiday-scented kisses, Willow was definitely starting to see the attraction.

Part b

Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/609252.html

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