Crater of Embarrassment
It was too early in the morning for this. He was a vampire, he didn’t do mornings. And, yet, here he was – rifling around his office and cramming everything that didn’t belong to the company into a box. Too bloody early for removal work.
Spike grabbed a picture of Mya and placed it carefully in the box, followed by a tattered stuffed pig Dawn had left with him on her last visit. He didn’t know why she’d been carting the thing around with her but he kept it nonetheless. He was just emptying the contents of his drawers when the door to his office swung open.
“Don’t you think you’re being a little rash?” Michael asked jovially. “Just because I didn’t call you’re throwing a hissy and leaving?”
Spike rolled his eyes and carried on packing. Michael was a colleague who he tended to get on with well enough. Nice enough bloke, for an American. Decent sense of humour and enjoyed a smoke. Good back up if Spike ever needed back-up – which he rarely did – but the vampire never did remember his surname. He was all tanned skin and blonde hair. Californian surfer type.
Michael frowned, leaning against the door. “Okay, what are you doing?”
“Leaving,” Spike said simply.
“Mmm hmm. Any particular reason?”
“I think I can guess this one,” came a female voice floating over the man’s shoulder. “A girl. A Slayer. One from his mysterious past who just so happens to have gotten herself charged with murder. Right, Spike?”
Spike gritted his teeth. “Oh how I’ll miss you, Luce.”
Lucy Porter glided into the room to stand in front of Michael.
They looked like polar opposites. Her hair was a dark, dark, brown and her eyes as blue as Spike’s. She was tall and slender, skin pale. Not a vampire but could have been mistaken for one by the untrained eye. Spike had always had a fairly love/hate relationship with her. Fairly light on the ‘love’ side of the equation. They argued often but had never come to blows. Yet.
“So you’re giving up everything for her?” Lucy folded her arms. “How romantic. How chivalrous. How stupid.”
He shoved a dried up fruitcake from the Christmas party in the box then thought better of it and lobbed it into the bin. “The bosses are goin’ to make me take this case. I can’t. I’m never goin’ to argue against Buffy. So this is the only thing I can do.”
“Take a second to think about this, you dumbass. You leave H.U. then you no longer have their authority to have this ‘Buffy’ under your observation. They take her away. You lose anyway,” Lucy pointed at him. “And, hello, but what makes you think they’ll assign this case to you?”
Spike threw the box down on the desk. “Because I’m the best.”
“Yeah, right,” Lucy snorted. “I’m way better than you. The only reason I haven’t got your job is because I lack a penis.”
Spike arched an eyebrow. “And a brain.”
“Screw you, William.”
“Doesn’t matter now anyway, Porthole. I’m leavin’ so you can have my job.”
“I don’t need your hand-me-downs.”
Michael raised a hand. “Hey, I’m pretty good too.”
They both glared at him.
“Fine,” he snorted.
Spike slumped down into his chair behind his desk and turned to look out his window. All of it – his. His office. His career. All of it, gone. There was no way he could side with H.U. on this one. Buffy was always going to be his cause to rally to. He doubted the head honcho’s would just let him side with ‘the enemy’ and then welcome him back into the bosom.
Shame. He was just getting used to the place.
Lucy shook her head. “You’re serious. Just like that, you’re gone? For, what, some murderer you knew thirty years ago?”
“I don’t have to justify myself to you,” Spike said darkly, eyeing her.
“Seriously, man,” Michael took a step further into the room. “This girl must be pretty awesome to leave this place.”
“This awesome girl murdered a man.” Lucy chimed in.
Spike turned back to the window, watching the tree sway outside. “She’s a Slayer. They were made to kill.”
“So, that makes it okay?”
“Like I said,” he watched leaves fall. “I don’t have to justify myself. Or Buffy. Not to you. At least, not now and not here.”
Spike stood, did up the button on his suit jacket and looked at her. “I suppose I’ll see you in court then, Luce.”
She folded her arms and regarded him for a long moment. “I suppose you will.”
A long, tense silence enfolded them.
“So, no one’s going to even entertain the idea that I might get this case then?” Michael asked, eyebrows raised, looking between them. A beat. “No? Okay then.”
+ + +
“This could be good,” Norman said in-between sipping his tea.
Buffy sat down opposite him. “How’d you figure? Spike getting me executed does not strike me as good.”
The lawyer shook his head. “Not that part. The part about it being an H.U./Council trial only. Not having it be public is good news.”
Buffy shifted in her seat. “Because the public would think I’m a killer?”
“I didn’t say that…”
“Didn’t have to,” She replied, looking away. “Thing is, Norman…I kind of don’t want to go to prison. I’d like to really not go to prison, please.”
He smiled slightly. “That’s what we’re working on, Buffy.”
She looked back at him. “Do we…do I really have a chance though? Be brutally honest, Norman. Do I have a hope in hell of getting out of this one?”
He placed his tea down on the table. “You always have hope.”
Buffy sighed, looking down at her bare feet. “Not to rain on your hope parade but I’ve never had a lot of it in my life.”
They said nothing for a while. Just sat there, thinking. Buffy was wondering where Spike had got to. After hearing Cain’s message he’d practically ran out of the door. Nearly got himself fried in the process before he remembered it was bright sunlight outside. She had a feeling he was going to do something stupid and now she was regretting not running out after him.
Norman shifted uncomfortably on his seat. “Having Mr. Spike on your side will help your cause.”
“That’s gotta be the first time anyone has ever said that,” Buffy nearly smiled.
“He’s got a good public persona,” Norman told her. “A high position job in a company primarily dealing with rights for Humanoids. If he’s on your side then it can only make you look better.”
Buffy patted her hair self-consciously. “I am looking kind of a mess.”
“Oh, no that’s not what I meant at all…I…” Norman began gesturing frantically.
“I know, Norman, I know,” she grinned. “I just like playing with you. Oh! Not in the sexual sense of course! Not that I’m saying you’re gross or –”
“No! No, I wouldn’t…oh what are…oh…”
As the two of them dug themselves deeper into the Crater of Embarrassment, Spike entered and saved the day. Sort of. He flung the blanket from his head and Buffy stood to ask him where he’d been. When she saw the box of stuff he placed on the floor a feeling of dread spread over her. Norman stood too, face red.
Spike looked between them. “Am I interrupting something?”
“NO!” They both screeched.
There was a pause.
“Mmm hmm,” Spike took his jacket off and threw it to the side with the blanket, as he walked slowly towards them. “An impromptu meeting with the solicitor or something more sinister? Should I be jealous?”
Buffy folded her arms and huffed. “Yes, we’re secret lovers. What the hell did you do?” she looked at the box.
Spike shrugged casually and slumped down into the couch. “Quit.”
“Spike, no,” Buffy shook her head. “Go un-quit!”
“I’m not taking this case, I won’t argue against you,” he replied, propping his feet up on the coffee table. “I’m done. Nothing more to say on the matter. Who fancies a shandy?”
“Spike!” Buffy stomped over to him. “I’m not letting you give up your career for me!”
He looked at her. “It’s not about you letting me do anything, Buffy. I make my own decisions these days. And you’re not about to change my mind.”
“Sorry to interrupt…but do you have any idea who might be taking up the position of Buffy’s prosecution?” Norman asked sheepishly.
Spike turned to him, sighed. “Probably Lucy Porter. Right man-eater, very good at her job. Nice legs too.”
“Hey!” Buffy protested.
Spike arched an eyebrow. “What? It’s alright for you to get jiggy with Norm here but not for me to notice women?”
“There was no jigginess!” Buffy scowled. “And anyway, you do realise that I’m totally screwed now, right? Without you working for those H.U. people I haven’t got a chance in hell of winning.”
Spike held his hands out. “What did you want me to do? I’ve got a bit of conflict of interests here.”
“They will have to take Buffy into custody,” Norman announced.
The Slayer turned away and walked slowly to the patio doors. There she stood with her back to the two men.
Spike spoke to Norman. “Anything we can do about that?”
“Not really, no,” Norman said. “Not unless another H.U. rep or a Council member is willing to have her under house arrest like you did.”
Spike glanced at Buffy who still faced away then turned back to Norman with a thoughtful expression. “Not sure this’d be allowed but…I think I know just the candidate.”
+ + +
Faith hated that phone. Still, it continued to ring. And she continued to lay face down on the mattress she called her bed. The ringing didn’t stop. Groaning she rolled onto her back and slapped her hand about searching for the fucking thing. She grabbed something big and hard, brought it to her ear and only then realised it really wasn’t the phone. Throwing it away she searched again and found it finally.
“Hello? Spike?” She rasped. Listening a moment she sat up and frowned. “You want me to what?”
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