27. Mr. Crankypire
betas: Mabel Marsters, Tanit, and Slaymesoftly
In Harm's Way
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Mr. Crankypire
When Spike caught her wrist, Xander thought he had to be seeing things, but it looked as if the vampire was trying to bring the stake towards him, and Buffy looked as if she was trying to pull it away. But that wouldn't make sense. The stake inched closer and closer to Spike's heart.
The only indication that there was a struggle going on was that both their hands trembled as they stood locked, seemingly frozen in place with the point of the stake just touching Spike’s shirt. Xander shivered at the anguished look that passed between the two super beings. Buffy released the stake; it clattered dully against the concrete and rolled off the curb.
“Oh God,” she whispered.
The vampire released her wrist, replaced the expression of pain and exertion with one of indifference, and ran off. Xander stared after him, stunned.
Buffy let out a sob and Xander snapped out of it, rushing to her side. He caught her in his arms and let her cry on his shoulder, feeling like he wanted to cry himself. Buffy tried to speak, but she couldn't get enough breath to do it.
He rubbed her back.
“It's OK,” he soothed.
Buffy stood back and with a shaky voice said, “No, it's not. I couldn't...couldn't do it. He's already killed one man and now, every person he kills will be my fault. I came so close, but I couldn't...” She shook her head.
“I'm glad you didn't, Buffy,” Xander said softly and then cocked his head, deep in thought. “Although, if you did, he probably would have just popped back on earth a few days later.”
Buffy frowned at him.
“No, seriously. I mean, Hell spit out Angel and he was guilty, but Spike isn’t. He didn't kill that guy, Buffy.”
Her eyes widened and she grabbed his sleeve. “What do you mean? Giles saw him.”
“I don't know what Giles thinks he saw, but Spike just brought a man into the E.R.. Spike told me that another vampire was feeding on him and that he dusted it. Then he carried the man to the hospital.”
“Yeah. I was in the waiting room, waiting to take my dad home when Spike came in. He told me what happened and really, why would he lie? Also, if he'd taken a bite out of the guy, do you think he would have brought him to the hospital afterwards?”
“Excuse me,” a uniformed cop said, “Are you Xander Harris?”
“Yes.” An icy cold dread came over Xander.
“Your father is going to be fine, but I'm afraid you won't be able to take him home. He's under arrest for DUI.”
“Oh, Xander,” Buffy said, putting her arm around him.
“It's OK, Buff. You've got more important things to deal with. I've got to go see my mom. You should go find Spike.”
Buffy ran in the direction that Spike had gone, but she couldn't find him. Her first thought was to go to his house, but remembering that Giles and Willow would be waiting for her back at the dorm, she reluctantly turned towards the University, her mind racing as fast as her legs were. Unchipped and without the ring to curb his hunger, Spike had saved a man and taken him to the hospital?
None of it made sense. He'd been cruel to her, treating her like a prostitute and running out on her, yet when they'd struggled over that stake a few minutes ago, he'd stared at her as if he was the wounded party. Like she had been the one to hurt him.
Feeling a little winded, she paused outside her door, leaning against it. She closed her eyes and pictured Spike's face right before he ran off. God, why couldn't she fall in love with a normal person and not a soulless vampire with a split personality? She needed to find him and figure out what was going on in that insane mind of his.
Buffy took a deep breath and opened the door, thinking about what she should say, but the room was empty. She grabbed a note off her neatly made bed.
We decided that it would be safer to wait at my place. Willow is going to do a disinvite spell to keep Spike from getting in. Meet us there,
She crumpled the paper and tossed it near her wastebasket. Giles' place was on the way to Spike's house, so she'd stop by quickly and let them know what was going on, but then she had to find Spike. She didn't have a clue what she was going to say to him. It wasn't like she could apologize for coming at him with a stake. She’d thought he'd killed someone, she had a job to do, and even so, she hadn’t been able to go through with it.
Willow and Giles both stood when she opened the door. With sympathetic eyes, Willow rushed to her. “Are you OK?”
Buffy was glad that she'd told Willow everything. It was nice to know someone understood what she was going through. “I'm OK, but I couldn't do it.”
“Buffy, you have a job to do. By letting him live, you are condemning people to die,” Giles said.
She shook her head. “You're wrong. He didn't kill that guy. Xander saw Spike carry him to the emergency room. He saved that man's life.”
Giles eased back into his chair and rubbed his chin. “Why would he do a thing like that?”
“Because he's in love with Buffy, that's why,” Willow said, rolling her eyes at Giles.
Buffy glared at her friend as she sat down on the couch, and then she watched Giles as he absorbed this information. He had the nerve to look offended. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, the smell of old books and scotch making her feel ill. Giles had been the one who first pointed out that Spike had feelings for her. She supposed that Giles didn't know Spike the way she had come to know him, but if he started going on about how vampires couldn't feel real love, she'd throw one of his books at him.
“I know that he's in love with her. It's...it's certainly obvious.” Buffy's eyes snapped to Giles who glanced away and continued, “That doesn't explain why he would go against his true nature and forgo the very necessary act of feeding.”
Willow touched her arm. “You need to find him, Buffy. He has to know how you feel and you need to tell him about...”
Buffy stood up. Willow was right. If he could stop himself from killing and he could save the life of some stranger, how much more could he change if he knew that she was in love with him and that she was carrying his child? If she could just figure out what had made him so angry, then she could fix it.
“Wait, Buffy,” Giles called out before she could get the door open. “You can't possibly have feelings for him.”
With one hand on the door, she glared at him. “You are my watcher, but you can't tell me how I feel.”
Off went the glasses. “The other night, when you both were here, I thought you had changed your mind about getting close to Spike. You have the Gem. I had no idea that you--”
“I don't have time to discuss this. I have to find him,” Buffy said.
“But how did you get the Gem of Amara, then, if you weren't leading him on?”
She shrugged, trying not to think about what they'd done before he threw the ring at her. “He just gave it to me.”
The door opened, hitting Buffy. She rubbed her shoulder as Xander glanced around widely and gestured when he saw her. “Oh, good. I'm glad I caught you.”
“I thought you were going to your mom's,” Buffy said.
“I did. She's at the police station right now.”
Willow leapt to her feet. “Is everything OK?”
He waved her off, “Yeah. She had to bail my dad out of jail, but, Buffy, there's something that I think you should know.”
“Something that Spike said. I think he thought that you were pretending to be in love with him to get the Gem.” He paused, leaned in and whispered, “You didn't sleep with him, did you?”
Coughing, she tried to cover her reaction, but Xander's big eyes told her that she wasn't successful. She didn't need this right now. She had to find Spike,. When caught her arm as she brushed past him she shrugged out of his grip, and he followed her outside.
“Listen, Buffy. I'm not judging you. But, you have to know, he thinks it was all just to get the Gem back.”
Buffy stopped. “What did he say?”
Xander shook his head. “I don't want to repeat it, but I'm just telling you, if you really feel something for him—and I think you do—you need to find him and tell him. Because right now, he thinks it was all a lie just to get the Gem. He thinks we all planned this. I thought that's what was going on, too, until tonight.”
“Oh, God.” It was starting to make sense now. His anger, his hateful words when she woke up and the cold, pain-filled eyes when she tried to stake him. “I've got to go.”
“Wait. I'll go with you,” Xander said. When she shook her head, he added, “I have my car and we can get around a lot faster with it.”
“Come on, then. I want to try his house first.”
Xander rolled up to the curb and put the car in park. “There's a light on.”
Buffy didn't respond as she got out, not waiting for Xander, who ran to catch up. She knocked and they looked at each other as they heard noise coming from inside. Suddenly the door flew open.
“Come inside quick,” Clem said, hiding from street view. “The lady across the street is what Spike calls a nosy bint. I don't want to be seen.”
Xander was the last one in and Buffy's lip curved at Xander's confused expression. “Xander, this is Clem, Spike's roommate. Clem, this my friend Xander.”
Clem gave Xander a short and friendly wave and went back to his seat. “Help yourself to what's in the kitchen. Spike's friends are my friends. Especially slayers who let me live.”
“Is Spike here?” Buffy asked, glancing around nervously.
“You mean Mr. Crankypire?” Clem asked, putting his bowl of popcorn back in his lap.
Xander snorted. “I'm going to have to file that nickname away.”
Buffy slapped him on the shoulder. “Yes, I mean him. Did he come home yet?”
“Yep. He came in all growly and tense, grabbed a few things from the basement, told me he'd be gone for a while and then took off in that old jalopy of his.”
The two friends shared a look of alarm, but it was Xander who asked, “Did he say were he was going?”
“Nope, Spike is a vamp of few words. Great roommate though. He's rarely ever home.”
She smiled at Clem. Spike was right; he was easy to like. “If he comes back, can you tell him that I need to talk to him, right away?”
“Sure thing, Slayer.”
Xander pointed at the TV. “Is that Have Gun - Will Travel?”
“Yep. It's the baseball episode.”
“Oh, I love this one.” Xander grabbed a handful of popcorn and sat down next to Clem. “We don't have cable in my new apartment yet.”
“Xander,” Buffy said, crossing her arms.
“What—oh yeah!” He got up and opened the door for her. “Sorry.”
“Hey. Stop by any time, if you want to watch cable. Spike's paying for it,” Clem said with a twinkle in his eye.”
When they were back in the car, Xander said, “That Clem is a pretty good guy.”
Three hours later, Xander pulled up to the university and let out a dejected slayer. “I'm sorry we couldn't find him. We'll try again tomorrow.”
Buffy took her time going up the sidewalk. They'd tried every place that they could think of. They knew that he'd been to Willy's earlier in the night, but no one had seen him since. The cemeteries yielded a few vampires that she dutifully staked, but none were platinum blond. Xander had to do the quick sewer search while she stood at the entrance, because she was afraid she might throw up if she did it.
Xander had been good the whole time. He didn't ask her too many questions and didn't argue or try to tell her that she was insane for falling in love with Spike. Now, he watched her as she went to her building, the car idling, waiting for her to get safely inside. She smiled when she thought about it. If anyone needed protection, it was him.
She was brought out of her musing when Willow came racing down the path towards her. “Buffy! Xander! Wait!”
Xander turned the car off and got out, running to meet them.
“What is it?” Buffy asked, hopefully. “Have you heard from Spike?”
Willow took a deep breath and said, “No, but I just got a call from Giles. He hasn't contacted us, but we know where he is and we need to get there quick.”
“What--” Xander began to ask.
“No time for talking. How much gas do you have?” Willow said as she opened the passenger door and ushered Buffy in.
Xander stared at her in confusion, but answered, “About a fourth of a tank.”
“That's not good enough. Swing by the gas station.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“It's a great evening at Angel Investigations, Cordelia Chase speaking. How can we help you?”
Cordelia leaned over the desk and wrote that down. That was it. The perfect phone greeting. Angel Investigations being a new business, she'd had a lot of time on her hands and she'd spent the last hour working on an official greeting. Now that she had it, she wanted to get it down on paper. It was almost midnight so she'd have to wait until tomorrow to type out a memo for Angel and Wesley.
She didn't mind the late hours; they made perfect sense with the business that they were in and the boss that they had. Plus, it gave her plenty of time during the day to schedule auditions. Cordy was certain that she'd make it big some day. Until then, it was kind of nice to work with Angel. At least it was a steady income and she could actually eat three meals a day again.
She leaned down to pick up her purse, but sat back up when she heard the outside door open. Gripping the desk, she stifled a screech when she saw who it was. Spike, the evil, scary vampire stood just inside the doors, swaying a little.
“Well, if it isn't the perky cheerleader,” he slurred.
Keeping her eyes on him, Cordy fumbled with one hand to open the desk drawer and get one of the stakes hidden there, but then she stood and backed up. A stake was useless, she remembered. Giles had called the other day to warn Angel that Spike had the Gem of Amara. According to Giles and Angel, the ring made the wearer invincible.
If he was wearing it, that is. Hopeful, she scanned his hands. Sure enough, the one he had splayed over his chest now had a big, ugly grey ring on its pinkie.
Jeez, if they were going to make a magical ring, you'd think they'd make it a little more attractive.
Spike stumbled to the desk and leaning down, he slapped both hands on it. Cordy jumped and let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Spike covered his ears and said, “Oh, shut your bloody gob, you stupid bint. I'm here to see the great big poof.”
Cordy's scream died out just as the elevator hummed to life behind her. She tried not to hyperventilate. Help was on the way.
“Is that him now?” Spike asked, his attention on something at the desk. He smirked, and then giggled as he picked up a business card. “Angel Investigations?” He brought the card a little closer to his face. “What the hell is this supposed to be?”
Cordy frowned and said through her teeth, “It's an angel.”
He tossed the card over his shoulder. “Speaking of Angel, if that elevator doesn't bring him up soon, he might end up missing a receptionist. I'm feeling quite peckish at the moment.”
“Stay away from me!”
The doors opened and Wesley came to stand beside her, then stepped in front of her. She pushed him to the side so she could see, but clung to his shoulder. She was so glad to see Angel, too. He'd know what to do.
“What are you doing here, Spike?”
“Be careful, Angel,” Wesley said. “He's wearing the ring.”
“I've come here to see you, you stupid git.” Spike stumbled back and put his hand on the wall to steady himself.
“Wes, get her out of here,” Angel ordered, never taking his eyes off Spike.
He didn't have to say it twice. Wesley tripped over himself and her to get out of there, dragging Cordelia with him. But she wanted to see what would happen, and they couldn't just leave Angel alone to fight with Spike while the crazy vampire was wearing the Gem of Amara. Her boss would be dusted for sure and then who'd give her a paycheck? Wesley certainly couldn't do the demon hunting by himself.
She yanked her arm from Wesley and motioned for him to stay behind the wall. Cordy was disappointed that she couldn't see them from her hiding place, but she could hear them.
“Are you drunk, Spike?”
“I'm very, very drunk, but I think I need more. Got anything strong in that dungeon of yours?”
“Why are you here, Spike?”
“I want to--”
Something crashed to the floor.
“Oops,” Spike said with an amused and slurred tone. “Sorry 'bout that. I'm here to talk about the Shlayer. I figure you're the only one who would understand my pain.”
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