Chapters One and Two of thirty-five
#8 by Angelic Amy
Sunshine and Shadows (title thanks to Wonder and Ashes)
“He’s going to kill her.” As Spike hustled Dru out to the garage, he caught a glimpse of Angelus wresting Buffy’s sword away. Telling himself he’d only promised a distraction, he threw Dru into the car, jumped after her and barreled out through the doors.
“Bloody shame that is,” he muttered. “Best slayer I’ve ever met. No way should she go down to Angelus… Fuck!” He made a screeching u-turn and drove back through the broken doors in time to watch Buffy stop Angelus’s sword with both hands. He froze, admiration for the Slayer in his eyes and voice. “That stupid wanker gloated and played with her when he had the chance to kill her. Not this girl. He should have known better. I am deeply ashamed of my family.”
Leaving a still unconscious Dru in the car, he entered the house again to see Angelus and Buffy once again fighting as Acathla began to open. Just as Buffy ran her sword through Angelus’s chest and tried to shove him into the growing vortex behind him, her foot slipped on the tile floor, throwing her off balance. Angelus teetered and seemed to be about to fall forward away from the statue and its expanding portal. Without conscious thought, Spike dove for his grandsire, pushing him the rest of the way into the statue. Angelus gave a cry as he was sucked toward the opening, holding a hand out to Buffy, now back on her feet and poised to continue. With tears streaming down her face, she shook her head at him as he began to disappear. Frantically reaching out, he grabbed Spike’s arm and begin to pull him in also. Buffy snatched at Spike’s coat, praying that it wouldn’t rip or come off. She held on to it and pulled until Spike came loose from the vortex. The force of her pull and his sudden release sent them crashing to the floor together.
Buffy lay there, the wind knocked out of her and her tears for Angel/Angelus still making their way down her face. Spike sprawled on top of her, his face whiter than usual as he realized how close he’d come to being dragged to hell with Angelus. Breathing heavily, they stared into each other’s eyes until their intimate position sent color flooding Buffy’s face and guilt replacing the relief on Spike’s.
He rolled off and blew out a deep breath. “Thank you, luv,” he said. “Looks like you saved my life.”
“You’re already dead Spike. And you saved mine first.”
He turned his head and met her damp gaze. “So, we’re even then?”
“Guess so.” Buffy sat up, wiping her eyes and silently daring him to comment upon her tears. Which, being Spike, he did of course.
“He’s not worth it, Slayer. Not worth a single one of those tears. Know your little teen-age heart thinks it’s the end of the world now, but trust me. You can and will do much better than my grandsire.”
Buffy glanced at Acathla, once again a rather crudely-carved stone. Her lips twitched in spite of the tears. “Looks like it’s not the end of the world. So yay for us.”
He snorted. “Hip, hip, hoorah,” he said, also sitting up. “Bloody heroes we are.”
Buffy nudged him. “We are, you know. Even if nobody but us ever knows about it—”
“I hope nobody else ever knows about it!” He looked horrified. “I’ll never live that down—helping out the bloody Slayer.”
Buffy got to her feet and wiped her face again. “Well, I won’t tell if you don’t.” She looked around. “Where’s Dru?”
Just as she spoke, a groggy Drusilla stumbled in from the garage. She looked around the room and at the silent, inert statue and the very much alive Slayer. It was easy to tell just when she realized what had happened.
“Where’s my daddy?” she shrieked, heading for Buffy. “What have you—” She slowed and turned her attention on Spike. “Oh my sweet William, what have you done?” Her voice fell to a whisper, then rose again. “What have you done, Spike? Where is Angelus? Why can’t I feel him anymore?”
“Because the miserable bastard is in hell where he belongs,” Spike snarled as he stood up.
“You allowed the Slayer to kill Angelus? You helped her?” Dru began backing away from Spike, shaking her head. “My dark prince is lost. He’s lost.” She whirled and ran out into the night.
“Dru!” Spike yelled after her. “Come back here. It’s going to be dawn soon!” There was no reply, and he went to the garage but saw no sign of her. “She’ll be back,” he said. “She has to come back.”
Buffy joined him in the garage. “Should we go look for her?”
Spike stare at her with wide eyes that then narrowed to angry slits. “Why? So you can stake her? That wasn’t our deal, Slayer.”
Buffy flinched. “I… no. I meant, did you want me to help you find her before she turns to toast?”
His face softened. “I’m sorry, pet. Should have known you wouldn’t go back on your word.” He smiled at her, his nervousness just barely noticeable. “She’ll come back when she’s over being brassed off at me. I’m sure of it. And she’ll be all right. She is a bit barmy, but she hasn’t lived this long by being stupid—well, except for that thing in Prague. The less said about that, the better.”
He paused and shook himself. “She’s afraid of the sun. She’ll either come back here or hole up someplace safe until tomorrow night. It’ll be all right. By this time tomorrow we’ll be long gone and out of your hair.”
“Oh, okay. I’ve got school later this morning, so I guess I should go home. Assuming I still have a home….” she muttered to herself, forgetting about his keen hearing.
Buffy looked up. “Mom was pretty mad when I left to come here. She told me if I walked out of the house, not to come back.”
“I’m sure she didn’t mean it, Slayer. Got to be a shock, yeah? Finding out your daughter is out killing things every night. She’ll get over it and be all proud of you for savin’ the world.”
“I hope you’re right….” She gave him a sad smile. “If you aren’t, you might have a house guest for a while.”
“Plenty of room here, luv. But like I said, Dru’ll be back and we’ll be out of here by this time tomorrow.”
Buffy nodded. “Take care of yourself, Spike. And thanks for the help.”
“You’re welcome, luv. Next time we meet we’ll be….” He stopped. “What will we be? Truce is over, isn’t it? Or will be as soon as I get Dru safely out of here.”
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t know what we’ll be. Probably you just shouldn’t come back. If we never meet again, we won’t have to wonder what we are.”
“Good point. I just have this feeling…. You’re right. I’m gonna take Dru and leave, probably head for South America, and you’ll stay here and that’ll be it. No one will ever know we were allies one time.”
“Exactly.” Buffy walked out the broken doors, not looking back at the vampire watching her go.
In spite of Spike’s insistence that Joyce hadn’t meant what she said, Buffy took her time returning to Revello drive to find her mother in the kitchen. She entered quietly, resting her sword near the door. She stood, dirty, bloody, and calm as Joyce stared at her.
“You didn’t listen to me.”
“I listened, Mom. It’s just that saving the world is kinda my reason for existence and I had to go do it.”
“And did you?” Joyce’s voice was cold and she showed no interest in Buffy’s obviously the-worse-for-wear appearance.
“I did. Well, Spike helped me, but we got it done. Angelus is… gone…” If Joyce noticed Buffy’s eyes suddenly squeezed shut in pain, she didn’t comment. “And Acathla is just a big lump of stone again.” As Buffy spoke, she realized Joyce had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t seem to care. “If you need to know what it was all about, call Giles—he’s my watcher, not just the school librarian—you know, like Merrick was? Anyway, he can fill you in, I’m tired and I need a hot shower before I go to school and try to stay awake all day.”
“Buffy….” Joyce took a deep breath before speaking. “I can’t keep living like this. A teen-aged daughter who is always in trouble for skipping school, who defies me all the time, who stays out all night and consorts with older men and thugs—” Buffy started to speak, but her mother kept going. “Your behavior is beyond the pale. I can’t argue that there are no such things as vampires, only because I have no other explanation for that creature you stabbed with a piece of wood and the way he disappeared. But I did insist that you give up this ‘slaying’ thing and you have defied me again.”
As Buffy stared at her with eyes that were glistening with unshed tears, Joyce continued. “I told you not to come back, and I meant it. Perhaps your father would be willing to let you live with him, though I doubt it. He’s the one who thought you needed to see a psychiatrist when you tried to tell us about this… hobby? Career? Life style? Whatever it is that you’ve chosen to pursue—”
“Mom! I didn’t choose it. It chose me. Or something chose me. I am the Chosen One. And I will be until another one gets chosen. Why can’t you understand that?”
Joyce chose to ignore that question in favor of following up on the comment before it.
“Well, when will another one be chosen? Do you know when this ends?”
Buffy looked at her mother and said softly, “When I'm dead, Mom. It ends when I’ve been killed and someone else gets Chosen.” She gave that a few seconds to sink in, then sighed. “Maybe the next Slayer will have been raised by her Watcher like Kendra was, andher parents will be proud of her.”
Her shoulders slumping, Buffy turned away. “I’m just gonna take a shower and collect some stuff to take with me, Okay?”
There was no response from the devastated woman sitting at the counter, which Buffy took as permission to prepare herself to leave home.
When Buffy had showered and collected some clothing and toiletries into her largest suitcase, she stopped and stared around her bedroom. She sighed and grabbed Mr. Gordo, tucking him under her arm as she walked out of the room.
When she got downstairs, she saw that Joyce had left for work, so she paused long enough to eat some cereal. She toyed with the idea of going directly to Giles, but knew that in modern California middle-aged men who were unrelated to a teenage girl could not provide one with a home. Particularly teen-aged girls whose mother had pretty much accused them of running around with older men.
Shaking her head, she picked up the handle of her bag and began to walk, not consciously heading for the mansion on Crawford street, but even so, finding herself only a block away. With a shrug, she picked up her pace until she was standing in front of the closed door and staring at it. Biting her lip and blinking back tears, she pushed on it until it gave and opened in front of her. She entered and stared around the room, noting the few pieces of furniture and other things she’d not had time to notice before.
She wandered around, leaving her suitcase in the middle of the floor, until she came to the room next to the atrium. Where the statue once had stood she could see nothing but a very large pile of dust and gravel… and a sledge hammer. She extended her slayer senses but only picked up the faintest trace of vampires. Since the sun was still up and shining, Buffy decided the only vampire likely to be around was Spike, who she assumed was sleeping.
She went back to the main room to find him leaning against a wall away from the windows and staring at her suitcase and the stuffed pig sitting on top. He looked up as she entered the room.
“Mum wasn’t glad to see you then?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, but the sympathy in his voice seemed real, and she shrugged in response. She walked to her suitcase and picked up Mr. Gordo, unconsciously clutching him to her chest. Spike’s expression changed from sympathy to something she couldn’t read.
“What?” Buffy realized what she was doing, and dropped her hand to her side putting Mr. Gordo partially behind her back.
He shook his head. “Nothing, luv. Just…. Sometimes I forget how very young you dangerous little girls are.”
“I’m seventeen!” she said, drawing herself up to her full height.
“Yes, you are,” he said. “And several hours ago I would have told you that was as old as you were likely to get… but you fooled me. Thought I was coming back to rescue you from certain death – only to find you kickin’ my grandsire’s arse up one side and down the other.”
“Well, you did rescue me… sort of. I mean, when my foot slipped, I couldn’t keep pushing him back and Acathla was getting bigger and—”
“And then you pulled me out when Angelus tried to drag me to hell with him.”
They stared at each other. After a long silence, Buffy said, “You came back to rescue me?”
He shuffled his feet and ran his eyes around the room. “Well… yeah. I mean it’s not like I wanted that bloody statue to open and suck us all into hell. It just looked for a couple a seconds like maybe… and you’re too good a slayer to go down like that… and… and I want to fight you again myself. So I couldn’t very well let the great poof be the one to kill you, could I? I mean that would have just been embarrassing and—”
“Quit while you’re ahead, Spike,” Buffy said with a sigh, bending down to pick up her suitcase handle. “Is there someplace here I can hide out for a few days while I figure out what to do?”
He turned and gestured down the hall. “Bedrooms and all are this way. Don’t all have furniture, but some do.”
She followed him down the hall, flinching when he pointed out Angelus’s room. “Reckon neither one of us wants to be spending time in that one,” he snarled as they went by. “Smells too much like the poof and Dru and shaggin’…”
Buffy shut her eyes and tried to be disgusted at his comment, rather than heartbroken about what it referred to. Almost as if he read her mind, he shocked her by adding, “’M sorry, Slayer. Forgot for a second you might not be as aware of what they spent their time doin’ as the cripple in the next room was.” He met her gaze, then shifted his to look at Mr. Gordo again. “And I forgot for a second how young you still are. Didn’t mean to be that crude.”
Buffy snorted. “Who are you and what have you done with Spike? Blond guy, about your size, enjoys making me blush when he says something gross?”
He huffed a laugh along with her. “He’s not far away, luv. You can count on it. Makin’ you blush is half the fun of fighting you.” He sobered. “But wouldn’t do it to throw you off your game or to remind you of something you lost. Head games were your ex’s thing, not mine. I just enjoy watching you try to pretend you don’t know what I mean, when the whole time the blush in your cheeks is tellin’ me you do.”
“Note to self, pay no attention to Spike when he says… things. He’s just trying to make you blush.”
“It’s all academic now, innit? Dru will be back as soon as it’s dark and we’ll be on our way out of here. No more fighting for us.”
“Right. No more fighting… no more truce.” Buffy peered into a rather dusty room with a double bed and windows that allowed in the late morning sun. “How about this one?”
“It’s all yours, pet. I’ve got no rights to the house. No idea who really owns it. Whoever did took all their clothes and whatnot with them, but left the furniture and some pots and pans. Make yourself at home for as long as you like.” He walked across the hall and pointed into the room there. “I’ll just be catchin’ some kip here while I wait for the sun to go down.”
“Okay. Th… thanks, Spike. I think I’ll catch some sleep too.”
Without responding, he entered his room and closed the door behind him. Buffy went into the room she’d chosen and opened a window to let in some fresh air. She pulled the top coverlet off the bed and shook the dust out the window, then took her shoes off and, after shutting the door and placing a dresser in front of it, she got into the relatively clean if musty-smelling bed and shut her eyes.
Which might have worked better if she could have shut off her brain, which insisted on replaying her mother’s words, the way Angelus stretched out his hand to her as he was sucked away, her mother’s words again that morning, and the way she was currently skipping school… again. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she was soon muffling sobs into the dusty pillow on the bed, her shoulders, and finally her whole body shaking as she cried her reaction to the events of the last few days.
At first she didn’t notice the knocking on the door, but she heard the screech as it opened far enough for Spike to say, “Slayer?” He pushed a little more until he could get his head in to look at her. She gazed back, eyes swollen and red, face tear-stained.
“What?” she snapped, horrified that her mortal enemy had caught her in such a moment of weakness.
“Just askin’ if you were alright, Slayer. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” He looked down at the heavy dresser blocking the door. “Didn’t you trust me?”
Buffy sat up and rubbed her face.
“You, yes, for now. Dusilla? That would be a no.”
To her surprise, he nodded. “Good point. Not plannin’ to let her near you, but it was smart of you to take precautions. Probably ought to shut that window before dark,” he added gesturing with his chin past her to the wide open window.
She sighed and nodded. “I’ll get it now. That way, if I do manage to fall asleep, it won’t matter if I don’t wake up early enough.”
She got up and closed the window, glancing back at Spike as she did so to see him still staring at her and frowning. “I’m fine, Spike. I was just having a little pity-party. I’m over it now. Time to move on and be a slayer.”
He nodded. “That’s not something you need to worry about, luv. You’re a slayer to your core.” He wasn’t trying to hide the admiration in his gaze, and Buffy flushed under his approving smile. “Get some sleep luv. Sorry I bothered you.” He pulled his head out and closed the door.
Buffy stared at it for a moment, then decided the dresser would still prevent anyone from entering, so she got back on the bed and tried to relax. In spite of her whirling thoughts, her body took over and she was soon asleep.
She awoke slowly, confused about where she was and the odd smell of the sheets. Mom must be trying out a new fabric softener… it smells like…dust and mildew? She sat up abruptly and stared around, then fell backward when she remembered where she was… and why.
She let her eyes wander around the room, barely noticing that it was getting hard to see until a sound outside her door made her sit up. One look at the window told her it was getting dark outside and she scrambled from the bed, trying to shake herself awake.
There was a soft knock on the door and then Spike’s voice. “Slayer? Know you’re awake, I can hear you moving around.”
Buffy grabbed a corner of the big dresser and dragged it away from the door so she could open it. The expression on Spike’s face made her run a hand through her hair.
“Do I look like I cried like a baby and then slept like the… the dead?”
She watched him hesitate, then take a deep breath before answering her.
“I’ve see you look better,” he admitted. He stepped back so she could come out of the room and pointed down the hall. “The electricity here is a little iffy sometimes, but the plumbing works. Why don’t you wash your face?”
“That bad, huh,” she muttered as she edged past him toward the bathroom.
“Don't go fishin’ for compliments, Slayer. You’re still a beautiful girl, just one that looks a little rough around the edges just now. As well you should. Had a tough week, haven’t you?”
She stopped and cocked her head at him. “Are you trying to make me feel better?”
“What? Me? No! Don’t be daft.” He looked away from her and refused to meet her eyes.
“Okay. Just checking. Should know better, I guess.”
“You certainly should!” He sounded so indignant she found herself smiling as she entered the bathroom and closed the door.
When she emerged some time later, she hesitated in the hallway and tried to feel for vampire signatures, but all she felt was a faint trace of Spike as he walked toward her. Seeing her suspicious expression and wary posture, he said, “Relax, Slayer. Dru’s not back yet. I’m just getting myself something to eat so we can leave as soon as she gets here and make good progress while it’s dark.”
“Where are you going to go?” Buffy asked, more to be polite than because she cared.
“LA first. Pick up some more dosh and maybe some new clothes. Then I think we’ll go down to South America. See if we can blend in with the touristas.”
“I bet I’ll be fired for letting you two go off to eat people in a foreign country.”
He snorted. “Don’t you wish it was that easy,” he said. “Would solve your problems, wouldn’t it? No more slaying, Mum welcomes you back with open arms…”
“I wonder…. Do you think they ever fire slayers?”
He stared at her. “In a way, they do.” He didn’t explain what he meant, just followed her across the hall to her room. “So, what’s the plan, Slayer?”
Buffy shook her head. “I guess I’ll go see Giles and tell him Acathla’s gone and not coming back. And maybe he’ll feed me… I’m starving.” She put on a jacket and made sure she had stakes with her. “So, what about you?”
“I reckon I’ll be gone by the time you come back. Watcher should find a place for you— he should be taking care of you anyway. That’s his job.”
“My mom already thinks I spend too much time with older men. If I move in with Giles, she’ll probably have him arrested.”
“Well, you’re welcome to this place. Bit big for one little chit by herself, but if you get the witch to do a vampire disinvite, you should be safe enough here. I’ll be out of your hair as soon as Dru shows up.”
“Okay. Well…. Thanks… for….” She was at a loss for words, but wanted him to know she appreciated how nice he was being.
“You’re welcome, luv. Just never tell anyone, yeah? Got my rep to protect.”
Buffy giggled and headed for the front door. “Your secret’s safe with me. Enjoy South America.” She waved as she left the building.
“I plan to, Slayer. I plan to. As soon as Dru comes back.”
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