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Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by TalesofSpike
Chapter 1.01

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The story so far...

Okay, everything went the same way as the show at least as far as Entropy, except for one slight difference. When Buffy had her magical clear out in Gone, instead of throwing everything out, she gave the box to Spike for safe-keeping.

This resulted in a rather different set of events when Spike hit "rock-bottom". By the time he reached the Magic Box, he already knew exactly what spell he wanted and was sobering up in preparation for casting magic. He took some time out to comfort Anya, and while they were indulging in some innocent mutual consolation, Spike wished that Buffy and Xander had the courage to follow their hearts rather than always worrying about what could go wrong all the time. As Anya would say, "wish granted".

Xander got all splotchy and possessive when he saw them dancing at the Bronze on the nerds' cameras, so much so that he whisked Anya off from the Magic Box the next day for a Vegas wedding. (Anya gave her power centre to Xander as a wedding gift, on the proviso that he didn't break it.) Spike cast the "Will Be Done" spell and made three wishes, that Buffy would be honest about her feelings, that she would work out exactly what she really wanted and that she'd really understand his feelings for her.

Before the first two wishes could have too much effect, the third one kicked in, and Buffy found her consciousness hitchhiking in Spike's body for a while, leaving her body conspicuously vacant. Eventually everything got sorted out but not before Buffy found out she'd been jumping to conclusions over the demon egg affair.

This, the insight she had into Spike's feelings and the wish Anya granted, led her to actually give him a decent chance. One thing led to another, and the "ripples" caused by that first change continued to spread outward. The nerds were captured and subdued before they could follow through on their plan for the armoured car heist, so neither Buffy nor Tara were ever shot. Willow never went on a rampage. Instead of the orbs being destroyed, Spike managed to take them from Warren and gave them to Xander as a wedding present. That sort of takes us up to the end of 'Spike's Will Be Done'.

Buffy and Spike are now engaged, something most of the Scoobies have come to accept. Xander, however, is caught up in some inner turmoil about the whole thing. He knows he has to come to terms with the relationship if he wants to remain friends with Buffy. However, he still doesn't trust Spike, and he keeps putting his foot in it.

Things in LA also turned out just a bit differently after Buffy and Spike decided to pay Angel a visit. Spike managed to point out to Connor (Buff and Spikey were introduced to him as Stephen, and as far as they are aware, that's the name he's using.) that Justine's attempt to fake something that looked like a vampire bite wasn't really very convincing. Though he still wouldn't let Angel help with burying Holtz, things certainly weren't so bad between father and son as they would have been. Buffy managed to come to terms with her feelings for Angel, and Spike and Angel managed to part on neutral terms.

Buffy also talked Giles into offering Wesley a job at The Magic Box. Though at that point we didn't yet know if he would take up the offer, he and Spike seemed to get on quite well with each other. Buffy was intending to invite the LA gang to the wedding, but then Dawn pointed out that Angel's presence might be distressing for Giles, so now she's not so sure. Preparations for the wedding, which by then was about two months off, were and still are ongoing.

On other fronts, the gang have begun to put two and two together from Riley's earlier visit and have decided he must have access to some sort of surveillance on the Scoobies. They also know, thanks to Buffy being in Spike's head, that he isn't the Doctor. Once Buffy remembered Sam's comment about working in an infirmary, they began to have their own suspicions. Anya confirmed, from Buffy's description that the hatchlings weren't suvoltes, but a relatively harmless scavenger species. The only reason they would have swarmed was if they were using a pheromone signature to find their mother. As Spike pointed out, the smell wasn't coming from her underwear, so that only left the clothes Riley supplied. All things considered, Iowa Boy and Wonder Wife aren't exactly popular, and Spike is getting a bit paranoid. He's even suspicious of Dawn's new boyfriend, a new arrival in town. He also thinks the government knows about Dawn being the key and is worried that if she shows any sign of being anything more than a normal teenage girl that they could view her as a threat to national security.

Buffy got to meet some of Clem's family, his mother Lily, who is an extremely gifted empath, his niece Rosa and her mother Marie, who is human. When Clem says it's nearly two years since Rosa's father was killed, Buffy begins to suspect that he was a victim of the Initiative. She also reassesses her own actions and who she has become.

Spike also got Giles to investigate any possible occurrences where a vampire and a slayer made a mutual claim, or where a human and a vampire were bonded. So far his research has been inconclusive, and he warned the pair against making Spike's claim on Buffy (which happened in the heat of passion) mutual until he can research further. Buffy never really was that good at following the watcher's advice, though. When we left the story, the couple had done just that and experienced a number of shared flashbacks to scenes of them together, topped off with a seemingly prophetic vision of their wedding reception. The overall effect was similar to what happened when Buffy tasted Dracula's blood.

The day after the claim was made mutual, while on an LA shopping trip Buffy, Spike and Dawn run into Drusilla. Spike pushes the two girls into a taxi before he leaves with his former paramour. Unlike Dawn, Buffy believes that he was trying to protect them both and that Spike is in danger. Before events reach their climax, she's proven right, when they discover that Dru turned Lindsey McDonald as a gift for Darla, and the lawyer has been turning A list former clients... granting them immortality in exchange for a percentage of their wealth. Dru wants to get her family back together. Lindsey wants Spike around to take care of Dru but Angel is not part of the deal so far as he's concerned, though stripping away everyone Angel cares about one by one might be.

Buffy ropes in the AI team (minus Lorne who went missing later the same night as Spike) to help, and Clem and Lily make the trip to help out getting Spike back.

Dru tortures Spike holding him in the same place where Lorne is held along with several homeless kids the vamps have picked up as food supplies. Spike refuses to renounce his claim, even after Dru burns away the scars with holy water, but she has one more trick up her sleeve. Using a Tabula Rasa Spike is made to forget all his sire's slights and sins.

Spike, Dru Lindsey and the other vamps arrive at The Hyperion ready for all out war, but Angel has arranged to have the building enchanted with a sanctuary spell that prevents demon violence. Despite the loss of memories Spike still recognises Buffy as his mate and is half way up the stairs with her when he feels Drusilla's death and the return of the lost memories since the crystal the mage used crumbled to dust with her.

Buffy, Spike, Angel, Gunn and Willow borrow a helicopter from David Nabbitt and save Lorne and the kids in the nick of time. Spike and Angel bond over Drusilla's death (at least a little).

Wes comes back from LA with Tara and Willow, thinking he could stay for a week or two and decide after that if he wanted to make the move permanent. Things go a little more smoothly for a while and the biggest problem is having Dawn's boyfriend over for dinner, and dealing with some of Spike's issues, both from his past and from Buffy's treatment of him earlier in their relationship.

Making the most of her new boyfriend, Brandon, Dawn went out for a night at the Bronze with him when she was meant to be at home. Soon she suspected that she'd been drugged and as she tried to get away from Brandon , she was picked up by a military team led by Sam Finn. Brandon, who had also been drugged, was badly injured trying to protect Dawn and if Willow hadn't intervened using magical healing, he would have died in hospital.

As Buffy and Spike returned home from a trip up the coast, Spike was shot at (with bows) by another team, led by Riley Finn, who thought that Buffy needed rescuing from the vampire's thrall. Fortunately, after some previous trouble Spike had borrowed the orbs of invulnerability from Xander and when he discovered that they protected him from the sun's rays he had been reluctant to rush to return them.

Finally, once the soldiers had been overpowered and the two groups compared stories, they worked out that, unknown to Riley, Sam had been the Doctor all along and her most recent experimentation subject was a Key. Appalled at the idea of his wife experimenting on a little girl, Riley, along with Graham and some others, helped Buffy, Spike, Wes and Willow to get her back, though Angel and AI crowd were first to get their hands on Sam.

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy picks up as Dawn began her recovery from the kidnapping ordeal and the Glargh Guhl Kashmanik venom that Sam had injected her with. Sam had reasoned that this would prevent her from being able to tell her story, and also ensure that Buffy would be too busy looking after Dawn to investigate either this or any future dealings she might have in the area.

Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.


It was a flight on the wings
Of a young girls dreams
That flew too far away
And we could make the monster live again

Oh hands move and heart beat on
Now life will return in this electric storm
A prophecy for a fantasy
The curse of a vivid mind

Don't push too far
Your Dreams are china in your hand
Don't wish to hard
Because they may come true
And you can't help them
You don't know what you might
Have set upon yourself
China in your hand

(T'Pau, Album - Bridge of Spies)

Chapter 1.01
Thursday, May 16th, 2002

Spike looked up from his seat in the waiting room when Buffy emerged from the curtained space to come over and sit by him, shaking her head as she made her way over. He had purportedly been helping Brandon back to his room after his chat with Dawn. In reality, he'd been clearing the area of his potentially embarrassing presence in order that Buffy could discuss what had happened with her sister. Anyone unfamiliar with the vampire might have been surprised by how keen he was for the teenager to receive professional counselling. Buffy knew that he simply wanted the best of all possible treatment for her.

"No go?" he asked.

"It's not just our men that are stubborn." Buffy shrugged. "She says she doesn't want to talk to a stranger about it." Buffy took Spike's hand in her own, making his heart swell at the simple gesture, even as he felt her own uncertainty.

"It's not going to do her any good to bottle all this up."

"I know. I know." Buffy turned her head to look at the vampire eye to eye. "She says she's not ready to talk about it, yet. She says when she is, she'll talk to you."

"Bloody hell. What does she think I know about the subject? It's a woman... thing."

Buffy ran her fingers through his hair, a seemingly random caress, yet her fingertips played precisely over the scar tissue where his chip had recently been removed. "Everything. She thinks you know exactly how she feels about it. And I agree with her."

Spike winced, but didn't disagree.

"So what happens now?"

"Well, she won't let the doctors here examine her to see if there's any damage. She said that would be like the same thing all over again. Said it doesn't hurt as such, maybe a little bit of discomfort, but that's it and she's got no desire to relive the experience.

The army doctor says she's stayed... What did he call it?"

"Cognitive?" the platinum blond suggested.

"Yeah, he says she's been cognitive for long enough now that he thinks a relapse would be 'highly improbable', so if she won't submit to any other tests, he said we might as well take her home and let her rest up there for a couple of days."

"So what do we do about school?" Spike asked. "How much trouble are we in if she doesn't show?"

"I really don't know," Buffy admitted. "I mean they basically told me if she missed any more classes then they would have to take her away, but that was a few months back and she hasn't been missing any more classes since then. I mean it was because she was playing truant... well, mostly. I just don't know."

"What if we got Brandon's dad to go along with the story that they were mugged. It's close enough to the truth without going into embarrassing detail or saying anything that'll set off alarm bells with social services. I mean they're not going to doubt the word of one of their own teachers, and you could pick up her assignments. Surely that would keep them quiet at least until Monday?"

"Maybe." Buffy shrugged. "Maybe I should just ring the social services office when it gets to office hours and ask to speak to her case worker. The new one's not so bad and maybe if I explain, rather than them hearing from the school... and I've been thinking I should probably inform them of my changed status anyway."

"Changed status?"

Buffy wiggled her ring finger in front of him. "Kept woman. Unemployed. Returning to college. Those are all the kinds of things they like to keep pretty close tabs on."

"Bollocks. I guess I better chase up those passports and stuff, then."

"Guess so. Is this going to start a whole Green Card issue, as well?"

"Shouldn't. It'll just mean the old toe-rag'll probably want payin' extra for hurryin' them up. I've told him to set it up as if I'm eligible for dual nationality. Born in Washington to British parents, theoretically, anyway."

"And that'll work?"

"It better. Otherwise they could end up deporting a pile of dust."

"Will you not joke about that? It wasn't funny the first time we got engaged and it's not funny now."

"I'm sorry, pet. I'm confident it'll be okay."

"That makes me feel so much better, given how your plans normally work out."

Spike deliberately didn't rise to the bait, knowing it was Buffy's fatigue and concern for her sister that were making her snappish. Instead, he changed the subject. "So, what've we got to do before we can take Bitty home, then?"

"Just some bits and pieces of paperwork, and I might need to give her a hand getting dressed."

"It'll be okay, you know, love. No one can take her away from us. If they try, we'll tie them up in so much red tape, she'll be twenty-one before they can find a way round it."

Buffy's voice sounded eternally tired as she responded, rising to her feet once more, "I wish I could believe that. I really do."

However, when she went to the reception desk to get the necessary documentation for her insurance company, she was informed that the account had already been settled in full. She looked across at Spike, who shook his head, denying responsibility, which only left the army.

As office hours rolled around Buffy decided to make the more difficult call first. She allowed ten minutes to let Dawn's case-worker settle in and make a start on her first cup of coffee and then dialled the direct line to her office.

"Ms. Siembeda?" Buffy was so anxious she didn't even wait for the social worker to give her name.

"Speaking. How can I help?"

"Ms. Siembeda, this is Buffy Summers."

"Buffy, hi. I've told you, you should just call me Kathy. I gather there's been some sort of an upset with Dawn?"

"Well, yes. It's just I'm going to have to keep Dawn off school for a couple of days on doctor's orders."

"Buffy, it's okay. Agent Miller was here first thing to explain. He was waiting here when my supervisor came to open up the office. In fact, he's sitting here having a coffee as we speak, and I believe one of the other agents was going to clear things with the school.

Mr Miller has made it very clear that Dawn's injuries in no way reflect on you, and that you have shown the proper concern for her welfare throughout the whole affair, even if he is unable to provide any specifics about what happened."

"So, you won't be taking Dawn away?"

The case worker chuckled. "No, Buffy. Even us cruel, unforgiving social services types understand that just because something bad happens, that doesn't necessarily mean a child's guardian is to blame... especially not in this town. Besides, considering he hasn't actually told us anything Mr Miller makes an exceedingly good case on your behalf."

Buffy gulped down a huge gasp of air as she suddenly realised she had been holding her breath. "So would now be a good time to tell you I got engaged, we're planning the wedding for July, I quit my job at DMP and my fiancé's going to provide for me and Dawn, while I go back to college after the summer?"

This earned Buffy another laugh from the other end of the phone line. "For news like that, any time's a good time. I'll have to arrange a visit so that I can meet him and get some details for the file. And this may sound rather forward, but it would probably be no bad thing to invite someone from the department, which would most likely be me, to the wedding itself, if not to the reception. It helps make everything look official on the file.

Is your fiancé currently living with you and Dawn?"

Buffy hesitated, unsure if this was a trick question, but decided the truth was probably her best option. "Not normally, though he has occasionally stayed overnight, but right now a friend of the family is visiting for a couple of weeks, well maybe not really visiting because he might be going to stay, but then he'd get his own apartment, but for now he's staying at Sp- Will's so Will's been staying with us. You see?"

"I see." The woman's amusement was evident in her voice. "And how's Dawn taken the news?"

"Really well, Spi- I mean Will's always been like the big brother she never had, though she can get a bit snippy if he tries to forbid her doing something. Mostly, she's pleased for us both and pretty much making the most of having him and his cooking around more often."

This earned Buffy another chuckle. "Sounds perfect. He doesn't have any eligible brothers under fifty, does he?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Look, if Dawn's going to be off school tomorrow anyway, is there any chance I could make an appointment to see the three of you together? Maybe Will could get away from work early or something?"

"Well, actually, Will isn't really employed as such. His primary income is from investments." Buffy sounded hesitant, not wanting to make Spike sound like some sort of slacker, but then, basically he was, so there wasn't really a way around it. "What I mean is, it isn't a problem, if you just want to pick a time."

"Buffy, stop worrying. It isn't a problem. It's providing Dawn with a more stable environment. It's a good thing that there will be another strong parental figure there for her... unless of course we find out that he's really a psychopathic child murderer or a serial bigamist or something."

Buffy's laugh at the social worker's witticism was slightly forced, but the other woman apparently didn't notice. "What say I come over tomorrow at about half past two?"

"No, Wesley! You're supposed to smile pleasantly at the customers - like this, not scowl at them. And if we don't have the book they want you should offer them an alternative, not tell them the book of prophecies they asked for was written by a madman in the final stages of syphilis and nothing he's predicted has ever come true. You English people always go all sarcastic when you're grumpy. And we could have ordered that for them in any case."

"Yes, well, maybe you can manage to be pleasant to uncouth imbeciles on two hours sleep, but I'm afraid it's beyond me. And I do think it's rather a sweeping generalisation to say that all English people are sarcastic."

"Well, in a survey of you, Giles and Spike- Ooh! And that Travers guy. All sarcastic. I think my point is made."

"I hardly think that classes as a random sample of the entire English population-." Wesley paused as his cell phone began to ring. When he recognised the voice that replied to his greeting, his scowl turned to a smile at the prospect of finding alternative employment.

"Marie. Hi."

"Hi. Lily told me that she'd said I would call you last night, but we figured you would have been a little busy."

Wesley's smile cranked up a notch at the understatement. "You could say that," he responded.

"See," Anya pointed. "Sarcastic."

"Anyway, I was wondering, since I've got appointments booked for most of the day, if you would mind having that chat over lunch," Marie continued.

Wesley glanced over toward the counter where Anya was busy tidying the impulse-buys section. "I don't think that will be a problem. What time?"

"Well, my last appointment before lunch is at twelve-thirty. I should be clear by about one and then I'm free until two-thirty."

"Your office is by the courthouse? Why don't I wait outside for you? Say ten past one? We can work out where we want to go when we meet up."

"See you then."

Wesley put away his phone, looking rather less down in the dumps than he had five minutes earlier.

"So? You and Marie?" The former vengeance demon gave the ex-watcher an appraising look. "Quite the family package for a watcher, what with Rosa and Lily and Clem."

"Marie and I are meeting for a business lunch. That's all. We're simply going to discuss whether she thinks the D.A.'s office could throw enough work my way to make it viable for me to set up as a Private Investigator."

"What's to discuss? Either they can or they can't. Yes or no. Not exactly something you need to take a whole lunch hour for.

I think you've got a date."

Wesley returned to his self-appointed task of trying to memorise the locations of different items of merchandise, but his attention was on assessing the likelihood that Anya was correct... and trying to decide how he felt about it if she was.