I wasn’t able to get this up on my assigned day yesterday, so I’m taking advantage of the 24-hour grace period to post it. My apologies to useyourlove for horning in on your day.
I hope you enjoy this bit of early S6 silliness. :)
What You’ve Got
By: caia (thisficklemob on LJ)
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine, just the story.
Summary: Buffy needs a reason to like the world. Spike shows her one of his.
Feedback: *puppy dog eyes*
“What are we doing here?”
She had let Spike drive them to the racetrack outside Sunnydale. She’d waited while he placed his bets. She’d followed him to what he insisted were prime seats in the front row, although it seemed to her you’d rather sit by the finish line than the start. It had actually been rather soothing to let someone else take the lead without wanting anything from her.
But by now she’d sat through two horse races that even Spike didn’t seem to care about, registering mostly speed, smell, and dust. Now nothing at all seemed to be happening. She’d finally had to ask.
“Do you remember I told you I liked this world?”
She said nothing. Lately, she found herself hoping questions were rhetorical.
But unlike the rest of her friends, it seemed that Spike was willing to wait for her answer.
“You said something about… picking deli squares.”
“Picadilly. Leicester Square.”
“They’re places. In England.”
“Oh.” That made a lot more sense. She’d always thought it rather odd that a vampire’s appetite would run to processed luncheon meats. Especially when he was rhapsodizing about human happy meals with his next breath.
She should get mad. She was pretty sure ‘ninny’ wasn’t a good thing. But like so much else, it seemed to fly by her without making an impact.
Plus, it was hard to work up a proper mad, when he got all crinkly around the eyes like that. As if he’d been waiting all year for her to hand him a Buffified phrase.
Knowing Mr. Obsesso-Vamp, it wasn’t out of the question.
“Told you I liked dog racing. Brought you here to see why.”
The recollection of a long-forgotten conversation with a long-lost Willow surfaced. Her tenderhearted friend had mournfully described animals caged their entire lives, let out to run the races for which they’d been exquisitely bred, only to be alone again after the race, win or lose.
Buffy felt a quiver run through her; an echo of Slayer righteousness. “I don’t want to watch that.”
Spike turned to her with furrowed brow. It was the most forceful declaration he’d heard her make for awhile. Probably the most forceful declaration she’d made since her friends brought her back. He studied her face for a moment before his own cleared and he turned back to the empty dirt track. “Don’t worry, Slayer. It’s not that kind of dog racing. These lot aren’t professional. They’ll be going home with their doting families at the end of the night.”
For a being without a conscience, Spike could be remarkably quick to understand her moral qualms.
Either that, or they shared the same instinctive loathing of a cage.
“Ok, I guess that’s good but…”
She’d always thought that the gap in social understanding between her and Spike — as for example, what constituted a date, or a reasonable conversation — was because he was a vampire. It occurred to her now that some of it might be because he was a) British, and b) a total boy. A very, very old boy, but still. If this was another ‘cheer Buffy up’ scheme, she supposed it beat most things her friends had tried, if only because she hadn’t been required to eat anything. But…
“I don’t really think — ”
“Shh, it’s starting.”
The unintelligible race announcer had been garbling over the P.A. system while they spoke, and Spike’s full attention was on the gates a few feet from them. Reluctantly, Buffy turned to face the track as well.
The nice thing about races, she supposed, was that they were over quickly by definition. She could watch the amateur dogs run, and then insist that they leave. She had patrolling to do; it was what she’d told her friends she was doing when she left the house. A good Slayer didn’t play hooky from her duties to go indulge a vampire’s whim to gamble. As soon as the race was over and Spike stopped ignoring her, she’d put her foot down.
Bang! went the starting gun. The gates opened, and out they charged.
Buffy blinked, taking a moment to make sense of what she was seeing.
These animals had certainly not been bred for speed. Nor, it seemed, for competition. Despite their colorful numbered vests, they seemed entirely disinterested in progressing towards the finish line. After a momentary cavort on encountering one another, they noticed the crowd.
Then the entire school of hotdogs zoomed towards the stands, rollicking out joyful yips and barks, running up and down to greet the assembled humanity.
Buffy felt a smile begin to form. Instantly it fell as she flicked self-conscious eyes towards Spike. But her suspicion of being surveilled in her amusement was unfounded.
The vampire was leaning over the rail and shouting, as animated now as he had been laconic during the horse races.
“Go, Killer! Run, Killer! Run, you rotter! No, not here!”
A caramel-colored dachshund with an extravagantly flowing coat was achieving remarkable vertical lift as it leapt repeatedly to meet Spike’s hand.
“Go on, get! Move your arse!” Spike was hanging most of the way over the railing now, attempting to push the dog bodily in the direction of the finish. Its only response was to happily push its butt back against Spike’s hand.
Buffy let the smile blossom. She dangled her fingers towards the merry beast, and was met with cold wet nose and warm wet tongue.
When she looked up, Spike had produced dog treats from his coat’s capacious pockets and started flinging them down the track.
“Spike! That’s cheating!”
Not that it mattered. One of the other dogs, a dappled short-haired dachshund wearing a green vest and a number 9, had finally noticed its owner calling from the finish line, and taken off down the track for the win. Their dog returned briefly to beg for more treats and was told to “sod off,” by Spike, before being collected by a woman in an Adidas track suit and a hat better befitting the Kentucky Derby than a backwater all-night racetrack.
It was all over then but Spike’s grumbling about his lost wager. Though Buffy could have sworn she caught him humming something about ‘I’m two doggies long and a half doggy high’ when she came up behind him on her return from the ladies room.
They were back in Sunnydale when she asked. “Killer? Our dachshund’s name was Killer?”
“Seemed appropriate.” Spike seemed to visibly reconsider. “I mean, it’s what we are, isn’t it?”
“You’re right. We are.”
Spike looked chagrined, but she could feel a bit more purpose in her step than she’d felt since her return.
Maybe Spike could tell, because he said, “Let’s go kill things. For puppies and Christmas, right?”
Buffy quirked him the tiniest hint of a smile. “For weiner dogs and cheese slices.”
She’d confused him again; he probably thought that was sarcasm. But it was the closest thing she’d found to a reason since she came back.
“Good a reason as any.”
Note: Weiner dog racing is a real thing. I’m told it occurs between races at some California race tracks.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/321704.html