Chapter 10 - All's Well. (b. Back to Life?)
Saturday, May 4th, 2002
"Do you want to go check on sleeping beauty? I think she's probably had enough of me for one day?" The vampire resumed his mental countdown just in case the spell hadn't been reversed.
"Sure. You'll hang around until we know whether it's worked?"
"Yeah, luv, I'm not goin' anywhere, just yet."
Spike lit another cigarette and moved round to the front of the house to lean against his "lurking tree". He looked up, able to make out Dawn, Willow and Tara in Buffy's room, but unable to see any sign of the slayer. The three women fussed around the bed for a while before Dawn left the room. Spike moved back to the porch steps in case she was bringing news.
"Hey." Dawn greeted the vampire.
"Hi, Bit. What's the news? Any signs of life?"
"Yes. and no. Tara says her aura's back the way it should be, but she's not come round yet."
"Does that mean I've gone and lost a bit of her?"
"Probably not, Tara thinks it just taking everything a little while to adjust to being back together again."
"But you don't know for sure." Spike threw away the remains of the cigarette in his hand, running the now free hand through his hair.
"Look, Spike, Tara told me about the spell, about what you wished for. and, well I think it's really cool. I mean, you could have wished that she'd fall in love with you. Or that she'd be your sex slave or that you'd get married, but you didn't. You just tried to get her to sort out what's going on between the two of you and, well, cool."
"If I'd done anything else, Nibblet, would have been rape. And besides I learned my lesson about second best with the 'bot. If I can't have the real thing I don't want it at all. If she just loved me because of some spell, I'd get to where I couldn't look at her. I'd always know that I wasn't man enough for her to love me without magic."
"She said she cares. We were talking about you just before that last wish hit, and she said she cared."
" Said much the same at the wedding, love, but it hasn't made a difference to what she's said or the things she's done since. I don't think a happy ending's on the cards for Spikey. If I could tell that heart of mine what to do I'd have made it wait a few years and fall for the more open-minded of the Summers women."
Dawn adopted a teasing tone. "If I thought you could ever feel about me the way you feel about her, I could wait. except for the whole having slept with my sister, 'cos it would be really gross to think that you could, like. compare. So if we're lucky I reckon we call it quits at brother-in-law."
"The day I get to be called your brother-in-law is the day I become the happiest man in the world."
"Even if it was because I was getting married to one of Dru's offspring?" Dawn joked.
Spike shuddered. "Don't even mention possibilities like that when you're on the Hellmouth, pet."
The back door opened behind them. "She's up. She said for Dawnie to go on up if she wants to see her, but that she needs to take a shower." Dawn ducked past Tara and through the kitchen. "She said you should wait down here. She's got a job for you when she's done, and she said if you want to try the tranquilliser gun it's in the old weapons chest in the basement, but that there's only a few darts left. Does that make sense to you?"
"Reckon it means we're going after Warren and his mates." Spike held the door open for Tara to go back in, and headed for the basement.
"So, are we goin' to talk about what just happened, or are you going to keep your season ticket for the land of denial?" Spike asked as the pair made their way down the front steps of Buffy's house.
"We're going to talk. We are so going to talk, but not now, not till I've had some time to process everything through - okay? In the mean time leave your ice box alone."
Buffy made to walk off down the street, but Spike grabbed her elbow and pulled her back in the direction of his motorbike. He secured the rifle on what seemed to be a gun rack mounted on the side of the bike, which she supposed made sense considering how he got it.
"No point draggin' this out, luv. Just tell me where we're going." He swung his leg over the bike in a graceful movement, the duster settling into place behind him. He kicked the engine over and waited for Buffy to climb on behind him.
"Back to where the Glar Gluck Cash Manic or whatever you call it came from. I'll give you directions when we get closer. We think they might have set it on me because I was getting too close."
"Reasonable assumption, I suppose." Spike conceded.
"We also think they're the ones using the cameras."
Spike merely grunted in reply.
"Have you tried using the tranquilliser gun yet?" Buffy changed the subject.
"Pointed it at Dawn and the chip didn't go off. Haven't actually tried firing it at anyone yet, but we've got a slight advantage in that the guys seem to have bought into the Big Bad's reputation without ever hearing about what the chip does. They're a bit scared of me."
"You know them?"
"It's not like I have them over for pizza and a movie. Who do you think built the 'bot. And when I found out I could hit you who was I meant to trust to check if the chip was working?"
"Willow would have been passing out stakes to Bob the Builder, two seconds after she found out I could hit you. Warren just did a scan, said he reckoned it was all working like it should do but I never told him what it did."
"But you knew where they were weeks ago. and you didn't say."
"Hey, since you decided we weren't talking buddies the second you finished snogging me for the first time, it's hardly my fault I didn't know you were looking for them. If you hadn't stomped off with a bug up your ass every time I tried to speak to you they might not have moved on by the time I found out you wanted them. So don't plan on making it my fault."
Before Buffy could reply he revved up the engine on the big bike and drove off, effectively ending all conversation until they reached their destination. If she hadn't had slayer reactions she might well have been left sitting outside her house instead of clasping her arms firmly around the vampire's waist. Even she had to admit that huddled in against Spike on the back of a motorbike breathing in the scent of his coat and the lightest hint of cologne, was no bad place to be.
Spike took point as they investigated the basement, his better nightvision and hearing giving him a slight edge.
"There's no-one here. Only heartbeat's yours." Spike prowled the room looking for anything suspicious. Buffy followed on grabbing up anything with writing on or any sort of computer media. When he reached the far side of the room Spike caught the glint of something metallic he followed it back to the wall at one end and traced the other to the whiteboard.
"What ya got there?" asked the slayer as she observed his movements.
"Tripwire. I think we might want to leave the board alone, and watch your step; there might be more than one." He moved back to where the wire passed through the wall. "Can't smell any explosives, there's more of an oil and metal smell, like some sort of machinery but it's probably best not to take chances."
He scanned the room. Apart from a collection of pizza boxes the slayer seemed to have grabbed everything with any sort of writing on. "Got everything you want, pet."
"I think so."
"Then why don't we go take a look at what we've got. Magic Box or your place or mine?"
"Home, no point me being more of an absentee parent than I have to be."
Spike put the gun back on the rack and took some of the papers from the slayer's arms, rolling them up and putting them in his coat pockets until she was left with a couple of books and a few CD-ROMs which she tucked inside her jacket.
The journey home took no time at all and Buffy was surprised to find herself thinking that she could quite happily take off for an hour or two, now and again. If nothing else at least it kept the vamp quiet for a while.
By the time they got back to the house the rest of the occupants had all gone to bed. He followed her through to the dining room where she dropped the books and discs on the table. Spike started sorting out the papers into different piles, splitting them between technical and arcane and by language.
Spike blinked in surprise. "You making some?"
"Wouldn't have offered otherwise," Buffy replied.
"Sure." Spike couldn't work out what was going on. Buffy hadn't been this friendly to him in. ever. He found himself humming under his breath as he sorted through the pages. Once he had put the pages into piles he pulled the books towards him. Resting the first on its spine he opened the covers slightly to see if it fell open at any particular section. When this failed he tried skimming through. Then he came across a passage that was highlighted in fluorescent pink.
He pulled the pile of English documents over and started looking through them. When he failed to find the translation he was looking for he got up and went through to the kitchen.
Buffy was just pouring the hot chocolate into a pair of mugs and he paused in the doorway till she'd finished before picking one up.
"Have you got a pad and a pen or a pencil handy?"
"I should be able to manage that for you. Is this so you can write down the number of that cell-phone of yours, or did you have something else in mind?" Buffy asked with an honest to goodness smile on her face.
"Both, I suppose. There's a passage in one of those books that someone has conveniently highlighted. Something about some race of demons living in some sort of sanctuary in the caves deep under Sunnyhell, but it's in Latin so it might take me a while to work it out."
Buffy led the way into the dining room and pulled a pad and a pen from one of the dresser drawers, putting them on the table in front of Spike.
"I didn't know you spoke Latin?"
"No reason to tell you, pet, as long as the watcher was around." Spike smirked at her.
"What did you do before you were turned? I wouldn't be surprised to find out you were a librarian, or some sort of academic type."
Spike let out a groan. "You were there, in my dream, weren't you?"
Buffy nodded, watching him over the rim of her mug.
"I guess you're not going to let me live this down?" asked the shame-faced vampire.
"There's nothing to live down. What you said was beautiful and if she couldn't see that, then that was her problem not yours, but now's not the time to go into this." Buffy looked at her watch. It was after four in the morning.
"Why don't we finish our drinks and call it quits for the night?" she asked. "You can take that book away with you and I could give you a ring tomorrow and see how you're getting on with the translation. Let you know if we come up with anything here."
Spike wrote a phone number on the top sheet of the pad before ripping the page out and passing it over to her.
"And the other thing?" he prompted.
"Let's say I'm going to need a little patience, but the sooner we get things sorted out with Warren, Jonathon and. the other one, the sooner I'll be able to start making any decisions about my personal life. I know waiting isn't your strong suit, and I'm not making any promises about what my decision is going to be, but I think we might be able to work something out."
"Do I get to give you a reminder of what it is that you're considering?" Spike put down his cup and took a step towards her, a wicked grin illuminating his face.
"No, you don't. You get to behave yourself like the gentleman you once were." Buffy held her arms straight out, trying to keep him at a distance. "Otherwise neither of us is going to get any sleep tonight without a cold shower, so back."
"In that case." Spike took the fingers of Buffy's right hand in his own and pulled it towards him as he bent over, kissing her gently on her knuckles, "I shall take my leave and wish you sweet dreams."
"Aren't we supposed to be engaged before you get to take liberties like that."
"Well, if you insist." He started to pull off one of the rings he was wearing from his fingers.
Buffy laughed and bundled him toward the front door, pushing the book and the pad into his arms. "Shoo! Get out! I'll speak to you later today."
As she took the mugs back through to the kitchen to rinse them out she noticed the neatly folded guest sheets still sitting on the coffee table. She felt so happy for her friends, but at the same time jealousy was nibbling gently at her insides and she wondered if she could ever trust Spike enough to let herself fall in love with him, the way Willow and Tara loved each other. She felt that she knew him so much better than she had known him that morning but she still didn't know the answer to that question.
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