full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
A Very Strange Vampire by slaymesoftly
<<     >>
Chapter Two  
“So, Giles, that’s what happened. Turned out great for me, but I’d sure like to know more about those ninja-soldier guys.  They were definitely after vamps, and they must have some experience because they all knew Spike shouldn’t have been able to shake off their tasers like he did.” She chewed her lip for a few seconds. “I guess that explains the lack of slayees lately. If these guys are out there collecting vamps and demons…”
“Did you say you know one of them?”
“Oh, yeah, Riley. He’s the TA in our Psych class. Except, I guess he’s not really….”
“How well do you know him?”
“Not as well as I thought I did,” she said with a grimace.  “Of course, I guess he could say that about me too.” She sighed. “I think we were sort of, kinda, beginning to date? Probably not an option, now that I’ve thrown one of his men at him….”
Giles nodded and sat back to ponder this new information. His relief at hearing that Buffy now had the Gem of Amara was obvious.
“What are your plans for that ring?” he asked, watching her twirl it around on her thumb.  “Does it have a similar affect on you? Or have you not had an opportunity to find out?”
“Oh, wouldn’t that be cool!” Her excitement faded. “But didn’t the books all say it was made just for vampires?  They don’t even say that it’s useful for other kinds of demons. Why would it work on the thing meant to kill them? It’s not like I’ve got a demon in me.”
“Quite true.  Ah well, it was just a thought. It would have been nice to be able to send you out knowing you could not be harmed in any way.”  He got up and went to his desk, rummaging around until he came up with a substantial-looking silver chain.  “I’d suggest, until you decide what to do with it or where to hide it, that you conceal it about your person.  It slides off your thumb too easily to suit me.”
Buffy took the chain and watched it sparkle in the light. “Oooh, shiny!” she said as she slid the ring onto it and dropped it over her head.  She tucked the chain and ring inside her shirt and brushed her hands together. “There we go. All safe and sound and touching Buffy.”
“May I try something?” Giles asked, holding out a slender knife. “Just so we know for sure?”
Buffy frowned from him to the knife and back again. “You’re going to stab me and see if I die?  Not seeing the benefits here, Giles.”
“Of course not! But if we make a small cut on your arm, we can see right away if it closes up more quickly than normal.”
“Yeah, okay…” She held out her left arm, watching closely and wincing as, with a mumbled apology, he sliced a shallow, two-inch gash down the inside of her forearm.  They both watched with mingled disbelief and joy as it began to close up almost immediately. They watched for several minutes until it had completely healed, leaving no trace of the cut, not even a scar. 
“Huh! That’s pretty awesome. I don’t think it took Spike that long to heal, though. He just pulled the stake out and presto, he was all better.”
“May I try it again?”
“Yeah, okay, I guess. But it’s not like it didn’t hurt, you know,” Buffy said dubiously. “It just got better faster than normal.”
“I’m sorry, but before I allow you to leave here thinking you’ve become as invulnerable as Spike was, we need to be sure that it’s working the same way on you.”
“Giles, the only way to know that for sure is to try to kill me. Not really interested in testing that part of it.”
“I just want to try a deeper wound – not a fatal one, but one that could be incapacitating perhaps...”
“No!” Buffy snatched her arm back. “Are you crazy?”  She glared at him, shaking him out of the research fog into which he’d been led. He looked horrified and began to stammer an apology.
“I am terribly sorry, Buffy. I... I’m afraid my curiosity about the qualities of the gem made me forget.... I am sorry. It was unforgiveable of me, but I beg your forgiveness in spite of that. Of course it is unacceptable that we test this any further. We know it seems to provide some assistance with healing. That will have to do.”
“Damn right it will,” she muttered. “Cheer up, Giles. My job being what it is, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a chance to test it again. Probably sooner rather than later if I run into Spike again.”
 There was a loud pounding on the door, followed by “Come out of there, Slayer. I know you’re in there!”
“Speak of the devil….”
Buffy walked to the door and threw it open. From the corner of her eye, she could see Giles loading his crossbow.
“Shut up, Spike! You’re going to bother the neighbors!”
“Give my ring back, Slayer. I need it.” He glanced over his shoulder nervously. “And let me in. I think they’re chasing me.”
“Who’s chasing you? And fat chance. Finders keepers.”
“You didn’t find it, you miserable bint. You stole it off my hand.”
“And I should give it back to you… why? So you can beat me to a pulp again? I don’t think so, Spike. Just be grateful I didn’t leave you to those vamp-hunting soldiers.”
He appeared nonplussed, but quickly recovered. “Okay, you let me go. So we’re even, right? You can give my ring back and I’ll go away. You have my word.”
“Um…. I can’t do that.”  When he blanched and clutched the doorjamb, saying, “You haven’t….?” She quickly shook her head.  “No, I didn’t destroy it. I probably should, but…” She glanced at Giles, still holding the crossbow pointed at Spike’s chest.  Her watcher shook his head and she nodded. “But I haven’t… yet. But I’m not giving it back to you. You’re dangerous enough without it.”
He seemed momentarily pleased and began, “You think I’m—“ The smile left his face and he threw up his head to listen.  “Let me in, Slayer,” he begged. “They’re getting closer.”
“Who’s getting closer? You mean the—come in Spike,” she said, ignoring Giles’ gasp. She grabbed the lapels of Spike’s coat and yanked him into the room. She slammed the door behind him, but not so quickly that she didn’t see black-clothed men moving into the parking lot and spreading out.
There was tense silence as Spike stood just inside the door facing Giles who was still pointing the crossbow at him. Buffy looked back and forth between them and sighed.
“Okay, you,” she pointed at Spike, “stay over here so you don’t make Giles nervous. And you,” she pointed at Giles, “put that thing down, or at least stop pointing it at Spike.”
Glaring at each other with suspicion, the vampire and the watcher slowly obeyed, Spike sinking into a big chair near the door, and Giles lowering the crossbow, but keeping it loaded and cocked.  He stood behind his desk and stared at Spike. Buffy put her hands on her hips and stood in front of the nervous vampire.
“All right, Spike, what’s going on? What are you doing here?”
“Know somethin’ about those ninja wannbes,” he said, casting a glance at the curtained windows.  “They tried to get me again and I only got away because they didn’t know about the gem and some of ‘em were still afraid to get near me.”
He ignored Giles to speak directly to Buffy. “And I learned a bit more from the demon grapevine today.”
“What do you know about them?” Giles demanded.
“Know the Slayer needs to stay as far away as I do,” he muttered. “Heard them talking. They think she’s some kind of vamp or demon.”
“What? That’s crazy! Riley knows me. He… he grades my papers! He buys me lunch…”
“I’m telling you what I heard, Slayer. Whoever it is they report to, they think you’ll make a nice prezzie for her.  Yours truly, too, I guess. They’ve got no idea why I was able to shake them off the first time, so they want to find out what makes me different from the other vamps they’ve captured.”
“Captured?” Giles looked up sharply. “Not staked?”
Spike shook his head. “If they’d been trying to dust me, they would’ve just shot me with one of their stake-shooting penis substitutes.” He paused to snort at Buffy’s disgusted face. “Come on, Slayer. Tell me you weren’t thinking the same thing when you saw those big guns.”  He grinned when she blushed and looked away, sobering when he turned his gaze back to Giles.  “There’s been rumors in the demon community – family members disappearing, sometimes they find a body with parts missing….” He glanced at Buffy, then back at Giles. “Harmless demons, most of ‘em. Know that’s not the Slayer’s doing.”
He glanced at Buffy, almost apologetically. “And a lot of vamps went missing just after the Slayer and I had our little… dust up. I know for a fact she wasn’t up to going out slaying after that.  Slayer healing, or no slayer healing. So if it wasn’t her doing….”
Buffy’s groaned. “I don’t know why I think I’m ever going to have a normal boyfriend….”
“Buffy, is there an chance this man has been dating you as a way of learning more about you?”
“Gee, thanks, Giles. Just what I needed to boost my self-esteem.” She glared at him, then sighed.  “I don’t think so. They asked me what I was, and when I told them, they all just stared at me like I was speaking Swahili. I told them to go look it up, but it doesn’t sound like they did.”
“Perhaps they will when they’ve reported back to wherever they report.” He glared across the room. “Although, we have only William the Bloody’s word that they are also after you. I’m not sure why you are so quick to trust the demon that was trying to kill you only a few weeks ago.”
Spike snorted and shook his head. “Slayer and I have a history, Watcher. I don’t lie to her, and I keep my word.”
“Well, when they find out who—what I am, then they’ll stop wanting to catch me, won’t they?”
Giles and Spike made identical scoffing sounds.
“What?” Buffy glared her indignation. “They might. And then they’ll know that I’m on their side—” A snarl interrupted her. “Okay, maybe not totally on their side, exactly… but that I’m not a demon, I just slay them.”
Spike rolled his eyes, and even Giles looked at her with disbelief. 
“I want you to stay away from anyone connected to this quasi-military group until we can learn more about them,” he said. 
“So, I can’t go to class tomorrow?  ‘Cause Riley will be there.”
Giles sighed. “I presume that will be safe enough. But you should probably try to stay in crowds as much as possible until we know more about this group.”
“Well, I don’t see how we’re going to learn about them if I don’t get to go where Riley is and talk to him about it.” 
“I’m simply asking you not to be alone with him until we know if he and his fellow commandoes pose a threat to you.”
“Yeah, Slayer. No shaggin’ the big lump.”
“Shut up, Spike.”
The vampire shrugged. “Listen to the Watcher-wanker, Slayer. Those freaks were packing some heavy-duty weapons.”
Spike looked embarrassed before saying, “Didn’t get to study them, exactly, but between hitting those two last time, and fighting my way out tonight, I can tell you that they aren’t normal humans any more than you are.  Don’t have your strength or speed, but they aren’t normal.  You be careful, Slayer.”
“Okay, thanks,” Buffy mumbled. “You too, Spike.”
Giles rubbed his forehead.  “Have I missed something?  Are you two sworn enemies or not?”
Buffy and Spike exchanged looks.
“Well, we….”
“Wouldn’t’ be the first time the Slayer and I have called a truce,” Spiked said.
“Is that what we’re doing? Calling another truce?”
“I’m willin’ if you are.  Seems like if they want both of us, we might have common cause again, yeah?”
“Is anyone interested in my opinion?” Giles said, giving Buffy a pointed look.
“No.” Spike returned Giles’s glare with a hard stare of his own. “It’s the Slayer’s decision.”
“It’s okay, Giles. Spike keeps his word. If he says we have a truce, we have a truce.”
He frowned at the two natural enemies in front of him.  “Why do I have the feeling there is more going on here than I am aware of?”
“’Cause there is.” Spike stood up and looked around.  “Do you have a basement? Or a guest room?”
“I beg your pardon?” 
Buffy flinched, both at the similarity between Giles’ speech and Spike’s use of the same phrase, and at the shock in her Watcher’s voice.
“I think what Spike means is, we’re both stuck here until we know the commandoes are gone.  I’d like to get a couple of hours sleep before I have to go to class and pretend I don’t know my boyfriend is planning to capture me and… do whatever it is they do.”
“And I can’t go back out until it’s dark again,” Spike said cheerfully. “Unless you keep a lot of sunblock in your medicine cabinet.”
“I can lend you a brolly,” Giles said. “There is no way you are remaining here if Buffy isn’t present.”
“You don’t trust me. I’m hurt, Watcher.” Spike grinned as he clutched his chest.
“Don’t bait the nice man who’s letting you stay in his house, Spike,” Buffy said, cuffing the vampire on the side of his head with no real intent to harm.
“Spoil sport,” he muttered. “If I can’t eat him, at least I can annoy him. It’s only fair, Slayer.”
“Act your age,” she said, laughing when he began to crouch over and pretend to be using a walker.  Giles just stared at them, too bewildered to speak.  His slayer and the vampire that had sworn to kill her, and had almost succeeded, were laughing at each other like old friends.
“Buffy, I really don’t think....”
“It’s okay, Giles. Go to bed. I’ll watch Spike for a while and I’ll tie him up before I go to sleep.”  She ignored Spike’s sputtered snarls, waving Giles toward the stairs.
“You’re not tying me to anything,” Spike said when Giles had reluctantly left the room. “Unless it’s to your bed?” His expression brightened considerably. “Was that what you were thinking?”
“Ewwww, Spike!  And no.”  Her blush spread from her hairline down into as far as he could see of her chest.
“Was just a thought,” he said with a shrug. “Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.”
Buffy shook her head and walked over to the couch, sitting down and patting the cushions.  “Let’s compare notes on these guys and see what we know, ‘k?”
He sprawled out at the other end, putting his feet up on the coffee table and leaning back. “Tell me what you’ve got, luv.”
“You first!”
“Bloody hell, Slayer. Can’t you let me win anything, even a ‘who goes first’ conversation?”
“If I remember right – which it’s possible I don’t on account of getting whacked in the head so many times – you did win the last time we had a serious.... argument.”
“I’m sorr—Fuck!”  He glared at her. “We weren’t arguin’ then, I was flat out trying to kill you.  And now you’ve got me almost apologizing for any damage I did.”  He fixed his eyes on her, and she watched with mild trepidation as they flashed between a pretty blue and a fiery amber.  He was taking quick, unnecessary breaths as he visibly tried to control himself.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she snapped back. “I didn’t mean to remind you that you used an unfair advantage to beat me to a pulp.  Think nothing of it.” She waved her hand in the air and met his eyes glare for glare.  “Occupational hazard.”
“It isa soddin’ occupational hazard, you stupid bint! You’re a slayer! I’m a vampire. We’re supposed to try to kill each other.”
“In a fair fight! You cheated!”
They had moved closer together as their tempers escalated and finished only inches apart, both breathing hard and eyes locked in glares that would have sent anyone else into a quick retreat.  Buffy was just wondering if she should reach for her stake when Spike’s expression softened and he said, “By God you’re beautiful when you’re brassed off.  Already knew that, of course, but I’d forgotten what it’s like to see it up close like this.”
Speechless, Buffy could only stutter “wha? huh?” as she drew back from him.  She suddenly remembered what he’d felt like when he had her pinned down, and what he’d said she did to him.  She shoved herself farther away and blushed furiously. Trying to pretend she hadn’t heard him or seen the way his face had softened, she coughed and said, “Okay. I don’t know much of anything, except that the guy who was in charge last night is the TA in my psych class.”
“And that he’s dating you.” Spike’s voice was oddly harsh as he repeated what Giles had said.
“Well... yeah, kinda. I mean we’re not... but I thought we might be....” She sighed. “Pretty sure he’s not dating me now that I’ve tossed one of his big buddies at him. Guys tend not to take that kind of thing well.”
“Some blokes wouldn’t mind. Must be an insecure git if he’d let that keep him from—” Spike stopped himself, his expression more frightened than Buffy had ever seen it.  His eyes darted around the room, seeking something else to talk about, while Buffy stared at him and tried to tell herself she was misunderstanding his last few remarks. When Spike remained tongue-tied, she tried to summon up her own change of subject.
“You know, now that I think about it, everybody in Riley’s frat house is big, strong, and has a military haircut.  I can’t believe I never noticed that before.  These guys have been right under my nose all the time!”
“Have you been in that house?” Spike was more than happy to talk about something else besides how pretty Buffy was and how grateful Riley should be for her company.  “Is there anyplace they could be keeping demons or vamps?”
Buffy shook her head. “I don’t think so. Of course, I’ve only been in there for parties and stuff. It’s a big place... but I would’ve felt it if they had vampires. My slayer senses would have gone crazy.” She slumped back against the couch back. “So much for that idea.”
Spike shrugged. “Still, you’re probably right about where they live. Makes sense they’d all be in the same building.... I wonder what’s underneath it?”
“Underneath it?”
“Yeah. When I was looking for my Gem...” he glared at her briefly... “I had plans showing all the tunnels and whatnot under Sunnydale.  There’s practically a whole other city down there. Plenty of room to store vampires and demons where nobody’d find them.”
“Do you still have all that stuff?”
“Should have. Would be back in my hide-out.  We can go look tomorrow – tonight.”
“Sounds like a plan...” Buffy yawned several times in succession.  “Please tell me it isn’t already tomorrow.”
“Fraid so, luv. You need to get to bed if you’re going to get any sleep at all.”
“I told Giles I’d watch you.” She glared at him as if he was directly responsible for her lack of sleep.
“You know you can trust me, Slayer. Go to sleep. You’ve got my word I won’t go anywhere.  Came here for help, didn’t I?  Be bloody stupid of me to go back out there until I think it’s safe.”
“I’m not worried about where you go – I’m thinking more about waking up and finding Giles growing fangs or something.”
“Not worried about yourself? Is there a reason for that?” he asked, giving her a shrewd once-over.
Buffy met his suspicious eyes, then looked away. “No, of course not. Except that you don’t have the gem anymore and I can kick your ass.”  She could feel his intent gaze on her, as she squirmed around and pretended to be making herself more comfortable.  “I’ll just catch a nap here, where I can keep an eye on you, and—”
“You wouldn’t lie to me, would you, Slayer?  You wouldn’t be planning to keep that gem for yourself, would you? Thinking maybe it would work on something supernaturally good just as well as it does on supernaturally evil creatures?”
Buffy tried to meet his eyes without flinching, but couldn’t. With a sigh, she sat up again and glared at him. “Fine. It kinda works for me too,” she said. “Is that what you wanted to hear? I don’t know if I can’t be killed, but you can’t hurt me like you did then.”
“Bloody, buggering fuck!”  His eyes were flashing amber and Buffy forced her tired body to sit up straighter.  “You lying bitch....” He went off onto a lengthy vulgar and profane bout of cursing, most of which Buffy didn’t even understand.
When he finally ran down, and stopped, glowering at her and panting, she said, “Look, Spike, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t give it back to you anyway. I’m the Slayer, for cripe’s sake. I’m supposed to be making you dusty, not providing you with a way to be unslayable.”
“Then why don’t you just do it now?” he said, holding open his coat and exposing his tee-shirt covered chest. “Put me out of our misery.”  He waited, posing dramatically until he realized she wasn’t going to move.  Instead of staking him, she yawned again.  “Didn’t really mean that,” he mumbled, closing his coat with an embarrassed sigh.
“I knew you didn’t.” Her lips twitched. “You are such a drama queen.”
“Hey!”  He gave her an abashed smile. “Was a bit over the top, wasn’t it?”
“Ya think?” She sighed. “Seriously, Spike. I really need to get some sleep. What am I going to do with you?”
“Forget about me, luv. I won’t try to kill you, or your wanker of a watcher. You’ve got my word.  Just get your beauty sleep. I’ll wake you if I think there’s a need.”
“You’re going to keep watch?”
He looked embarrassed. “Well, seems like somebody should – just in case those soldier boys decide to bust in here or something.”
Buffy studied him, her head tilted to one side.  “You are one very strange vampire, Spike.”
He gave what could only have been called a shy smile, which quickly morphed into his usual cocky smirk. “Not like anyone else you’ve ever met, Slayer. I can guarantee you that.”
She nodded, slipping down into her corner of the couch. “You can say that again. Good night, Spike.”  As her eyes drifted shut, she said, “And don’t think you can find the gem without waking me up.”
“Thought never crossed my mind, luv,” he said, his disappointed tone putting the lie to his words.  He studied her for a few seconds, trying to see if she was wearing the ring or if it was in a pocket, but he saw no sign of it. He sighed as she squirmed around, trying to get comfortable without touching him. He reached for her feet and pulled them onto the cushion he was sitting on, standing up and saying, “Stretch out, pet.  I can sit in the chair.”
“Very strange vampire,” she sighed gratefully. She rolled onto her side and slid one hand under her shirt to stick her thumb though the ring. Just in case...
<<     >>