My apologies for the version I first put up - it was the unbeta'd chapter. This one is spiffier. :)
In spite of Buffy’s indignant complaints and insistence that she was “doing just fine”, Spike made a point of working out with her every night. If they weren’t sparring, they were running or stretching or practicing with swords. She jokingly began to call him “Giles, Jr.” until he growled that he was at least three times the watcher’s age and “bloody tired of being compared to him”.
“Well, if you’re going to act like my watcher, I’m going to treat you like one!”
“Does that mean you’ll do whatever I tell you to?” he asked with more interest than he’d shown in the rest of the conversation.
Buffy gave him her best ‘as if!’ stare until he looked away.
“Guess not,” he mumbled, kicking at a tombstone.
“Don’t feel bad, Spike,” Buffy said, almost kindly. “I didn’t do what Giles told me to, either.”
“Thanks, pet. That makes me feel ever so much better...”
“You know,” she continued, “you do sound a lot like Giles sometimes – all with the British speak and stuff. Sometimes you even sound like you—“
“Oi! Watch your mouth, Slayer. I am nothing like your ponce of a watcher, and don’t you forget it!”
“Oh right. Big Bad, evil vampire. Silly me.” She crinkled her nose at him and grinned until, in spite of himself, he was grinning back at her.
“Watch it, missy,” he growled around his smile. “I think somebody needs a reminder of just how big and bad I am.”
“Oh, oh! Somebody help me, the vampire is going to hurt me!” Giggling and sticking her tongue out at him, she took off running through the cemetery, joying in the air moving past her face and the strength in her body as she sped past trees and tombstones, dodging things with an agility that she knew was due to the vigorous training that Spike had forced upon her. She could hear the pounding of his boots on the turf as he laughingly chased her, making no real attempt to catch up but enjoying the thrill of the chase and the sound of her happy laughter.
Been a while since she laughed like that, I’ll wager. If I’ve done nothing else here, I’ve been able to make the slayer happy for a bit. If, somewhere inside him, a demon was sputtering indignantly at the idea of making a slayer happy, Spike cheerfully ignored it and continued to chase the slender blonde in front of him.
He was still smiling at the thought of how happy she sounded, when he rounded a large mausoleum just as her laughter choked off to a gurgle. He sped up as he caught sight of the dark-haired vampire that had Buffy pinned to the ground, grinding his pelvis into her and slavering at her throat. Spike’s charge knocked the vamp off the Slayer, and she sat up, her eyes wide and staring.
“X...Xander?” she whimpered. A quick glance at the demon he was holding down explained to Spike why she had been lying so passively under the vampire’s attack. With a complete lack of recognition, the young vampire snarled at Spike.
“She’s mine,” he growled, baring his fangs and ducking the punch Spike had thrown at his face. “You can’t catch her, you lose her. Back off.”
Ignoring the other vampire, except to backhand him away, Spike growled over his shoulder, “It’s not him, Slayer. It’s just another vamp what needs slaying. Now get up here and do your job!”
Buffy’s face registered nothing but shock and the faintest trace of hope.
“It’s Xander. He wouldn’t hurt me. He—” She was cut off as a slender but very strong arm went around her neck and a familiar voice purred in her ear.
“Aren’t you a pretty thing?” said the red-haired female vampire holding Buffy against her chest. “And you know Alec’s name. Isn’t that interesting...?”
While she trembled with horror, a vampire wearing Willow’s face ran her tongue up the side of Buffy’s neck. She didn’t flinch when the vamp’s teeth grazed her throat; only the feel of the other girl’s hand on her breast and Spike’s terrified shout snapped her out of her daze. At the last second, she twisted away, feeling Willow’s fangs slide harmlessly against her skin. She whirled to face one of her worst nightmares, her lip trembling as she whispered, “Willow? Don’t you know me? It’s me – Buffy.”
The red-haired vampire cocked her head and frowned, moving to join Alec/Xander now that Spike had thrown him to the ground and rushed to Buffy’s side. She studied the teary-eyed girl in front of her, then asked her companion, “Wasn’t there a Buffy in our high school? Annoyingly perky cheerleader type?”
“Yeah, there was. I remember her. Wouldn’t give me the time of day,” the dark-haired boy snarlled.
“Didn’t we kill her?” Willow sounded genuinely confused. “I thought we did.”
While the two vampires tried to puzzle out who Buffy was, and why she knew them, Spike was whispering to her urgently.
“It’s not them, Slayer. Look at them. They don’t know you and you don’t know them. They are just vampires who look like your Scooby pals. Snap out of it!”
The devastation on the slayer’s face told him that she was not going to be able to slay the two demons in front of them, and he quickly placed himself between Buffy and the steadily more puzzled vampires. He frowned himself when he caught the unmistakable itch that spelled ‘family’. Pushing Buffy behind him, he began backing away cautiously, his senses alert for anything that might indicate the presence of any other Aurelian vampires. There was no question that a run-in with Angelus would be the final blow to the slayer’s heart. And he, himself, was not eager to find that Drusilla was present in this dimension, either. Nor was he sure that he could protect Buffy from his entire family without her willing cooperation.
The dark-haired demon began to move in their direction, but Willow’s hand on his arm stopped him.
“No,” she said clearly. “We know where to find them. We should go back and tell the Master about this.”
“Let’s just kill them and tell him later,” Xander argued, unaware that the blond vampire that had pushed him away from his dinner had not really been trying very hard when he hit him.
“Did you hear what he called her?”
“No, I wasn’t paying attention. Didn’t she say her name was Muffy or Fluffy or something like that?”
“No, jackass!” Suddenly it was very obvious who was in charge as Willow slapped Alec’s face. “He called her ‘Slayer’. We need to tell the Master about this.”
Without another word, she whirled and ran, the other vampire reluctantly trailing after her.
“I will have you, Muffy, or whatever your name is,” he threw over his shoulder. “We’ll be back.”
Buffy didn’t speak a word all the way back to the house, allowing Spike to set the pace and blindly following him. There was no stopping at the diner or the ice cream shop, just a steady, fast pace to the relative safety of her home. He opened the door, pushed her toward the couch and went down to his room, returning quickly with a bottle of amber liquid and a glass. He poured two fingers of what passed for scotch in this world and silently handed it to the slayer.
“Here,” he said gruffly. “Drink it.”
“I’m not old enough to drink,” she mumbled, automatically taking the proffered glass from him.
“Not askin’ you to go on a toot, pet,” he said with a gentle smile. “It’s purely medicinal. You’ve had a shock and you need somethin’ to settle your nerves.”
Giving him a suspicious glare, she tipped the glass up and swallowed the whole amount at one time.
“Bleagh!” she said with a shudder. “You actually like that stuff?”
“It’s an acquired taste,” he responded, grinning at her. “Feel better?”
As the warmth spread through her stomach and body, and the taste left her mouth, she realized that she did, in fact, feel somewhat better and she held her glass out imperiously.
“One more,” he warned. “I want you relaxed, not unconscious.”
“I’m a slayer. I’m sure I can hold my likker,” she huffed, taking another big swallow and repeating the face and sounds she’d made the first time.
“I’m sure you’re right, luv, but let’s not test that theory right now, yeah? We’ve got a situation here.”
The reminder of why she’d been so upset in the first place wiped the contented look off Buffy’s face, and she slumped back against the cushions, closing her eyes as if to block out the vision of her two best friends as vampires.
She moaned softly and opened one eye.
“I don’t suppose there’s any chance that I’m just having a particularly bad dream, is there?”
“Not unless I’m having the same dream, luv.”
“Right there with you, pet. It’s crap, but it’s here and we’ve got to deal with it.” His voice softened and he sat down beside her and stroked her head lightly. “Are you gonna be alright?”
“No,” she grumbled. “I’m not gonna be all right. My two best friends are evil vampires in this dimension and they keep talking about somebody called ‘the Master’, and I just can’t wait to find out who he is.” She put the glass up to her mouth and finished the liquid in it, shuddering immediately.
“Who do you think he is?” Spike wondered if she was expecting Angelus, then remembered that this Buffy had never met his unsouled grandsire. With a sudden cramp in his stomach, he remembered that the Master in Sunnydale had been Darla’s sire. ‘Old Bat Face’, as Spike and Angelus had referred to him out of Darla’s hearing, had apparently been killed by the Slayer the spring before he arrived in Sunnydale. He studied her worried face, then asked again, more softly, “Who do you think he is, pet?”
“With my luck, it’s that ugly old creep that lived on the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. The one that killed me.”
“Just for a few seconds. He was so happy to be getting out of there that he didn’t drain me; he just threw me into a puddle of water to drown, but Xander and Angel found me, and Xander did CPR and I was okay, except that I was really pissed and I went and found him and threw him through a glass roof and he dusted.” She paused to gasp for breath, having blurted that all out in one long sentence.
“Well, then,” Spike said, smiling at her attempts to breathe normally, “it’s not a problem, is it? Just hold that thought about how brassed off you were, and you’ll dust him again. Assumin’ we even see him,” he added. “Maybe he’s been locked up somewhere in this dimension too, and that’s why your little Scooby friends are runnin’ his errands.”
“Do you think?” She sounded so hopeful that he put on an air of confidence that he didn’t completely feel.
“I do, pet. If the old bugger was able to get out and about, he’d have been here by now to check you out. Those two minions didn’t even recognize what you were until they heard me call you ‘Slayer’. If he knew there was one around, he would have taught them better.”
“Oh, yeah. He’s a right pain in the arse with all his rules of this and codes of that, but he makes sure that his favorites know everything they need to know to grow old with him.”
“What did he teach you?”
“Um...I didn’t...I don’t....wasn’t exactly one of his favorites,” he growled. He jus’ tolerated Angelus and me so that he could have the girls aroun’ sometimes.”
“I wonder if there’s a you in this dimension?”
“If there is, I can guarantee you he’s staying as far away from his great, great grandsire as he can get.” He thought for a minute, then touched her cheek to get her to look at him. “Just in case, though, I want you to be bloody careful if you think I’m actin’ strange, or if you see me somewhere you don’t expect to. You hear me, Buffy? You keep that stake handy and you use it if you need to.”
His use of her name and the urgency in his voice as he stared into her startled eyes gave evidence of how serious he was and she nodded slowly. He let his fingers trail down the side of her face as he dropped his hand, fighting the urge to cup her chin. He heard her heart rate go up as his fingertips skated over her smooth skin and he groaned mentally.
“Promise me, pet?” he continued, stepping away from her. “Do you promise? Don’t believe it’s me until you’re sure.”
“May—maybe we should have a code word or something. Something that you could say that another you wouldn’t know about.”
“Secret handshake?” he grinned, laughing aloud when she flushed and stamped her foot.
“I’m serious! You’re the one who brought it up,” she continued, still glaring at him. “I’m just offering a possible solution.”
“And a good one it is, luv,” he soothed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh at you. You’re absolutely right – we need to have something I can say so that you’ll know it’s the real me.” He thought for a minute, then said, “How about I tell you I know you?”
“You say that all the time,” she grumbled.
“That’s why it will be good. It will be in character and you’ll know when it fits the situation. Even if someone else tried to use it, he wouldn’t know why I say it or when it would make sense.”
“Okay. You know me. Got it.” She sighed and put her empty glass down. “I guess I might as well get to bed – I’m really sleepy for some reason...” Her eyes drifted shut and he shot out his arm to stop her from swaying again. She opened one eye and peered at him. “Am I drunk? Did you get me drunk?”
He laughed richly, even as he was steadying her and helping her walk toward the bathroom.
“I don’t think so, pet. I think you’ve just had a shock and then more alcohol than you’re used to. You might be a bit tipsy, but not drunk. Trust me, love, I know drunk.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her and she giggled before mumbling, “I just bet you do.” She tottered into the bathroom and closed the door. She peed quickly, and then splashed cold water on her face until her head felt clear. After carelessly brushing her teeth, she opened the door and peered around it to see where Spike was. She smothered the little jolt of happiness when she saw him straighten up from the wall.
“You alright, pet?”
She smiled and nodded. “I think so.”
“Alright, then. Let’s get you to bed so that you can sleep off your first taste of the good stuff.”
He didn’t touch her again, but watched as she walked to her bedroom, placing each foot carefully and deliberately. When she had made it to her bed and fallen face down upon it, he couldn’t hide a snort of laughter, and she opened one eye to glare at him.
“I meant to do that.”
“Of course you did, pet. Now give me those feet and I’ll tuck you in.”
Without waiting for a reply, he pulled her shoes and socks off and pushed her legs onto the bed. He tugged the covers out from under her inert body and pulled them up to her shoulders, tucking them in around her arms. Without opening her eyes, she mumbled, “I still have my clothes on.”
“You do,” he said without inflection. “And I suspect it’s in my best interest to see that you stay that way. Good night, Slayer.”
He passed a hand lightly over her head and walked to the entrance, turning the light out and pulling the door closed behind him. He walked into the living room and turned the lights out before heading for the basement and his own part of the house. He threw himself on the bed and, not for the first time, wondered what the powers had been thinking, sending him to live with a teenage Buffy after he’d known the adult version.
She’s beautiful, yeah. And brave. And she’s workin’ on being that amazin’ fighter I met back in Sunnyhell. But she’s so young! And still hung up on my bloody, souled grandsire. I don’t think she has any idea what she does to me. She’s so innocent – that body might know mine, but the little girl inhabiting it thinks she’s a virgin. Wants hugs and kisses and romantic speeches –not what I want. Not the passion I know is in there.
He groaned and surrendered to the need inspired by seeing her curled in her bed and talking about taking off her clothes. The sounds of his zipper sliding down, and the sigh of relief as his erection burst out into his waiting hand were all that could be heard in the dark room until the vampire’s growl of release indicated he’d reached the only satisfaction he was going to.
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