New WIP from me: I had planned to work on the next chapter of ‘Sunnydale Passions’, to be titled ‘Nights of the Gnu Republic’, today, but I can’t get into the right frame of mind. Instead I’m working on the next ‘Tabula Avatar’ chapter. Hopefully that will go up tomorrow although home decorating commitments may interfere. My new WIP (see below) won’t interfere; it’s low priority because I’ve got 2 months in which to complete it and it’s going to be fairly short.
I know that a lot of you are not reading ‘Tabula Avatar’ because of the crossover element but taking ‘Twisting the Hellmouth’ into consideration it is actually proving to be my most popular story ever. I even discovered someone on a non-BtVS board rather grudgingly describing it as flawed but the best of a bad bunch on TtH. Not an opinion I agree with, and other people on the board jumped in immediately with a heated defence of Marcus Rowland (ffutures), but it amused me nonetheless. By contrast ‘Lonely on the Mountain’, which I thought would win me a whole new audience, went down like a lead balloon (or Walloon!) in the Xander-centric fic world. TA is easy to write, I can whip off a chapter in half of the time that it takes to write anything else, and so it will remain my primary focus for the foreseeable future.
The new story, ‘Love Potion #9’, is lower priority. I’m writing this for the seven_seasons community in which May and June will be devoted to Season 3. It’s a Spuffy community and I haven’t done S3 Spuffy before. I do have an S3 sequel planned for the S2 story The Hounds of Love, but it’s going to be a short, with more jokes and fighting than romance, and I wanted to do something more specifically along the lines of the community’s raison d’être. Spuffy is where I first made my mark (although I’m not really any kind of shipper, I just like there to be a romance going on between swordfights and I don’t really care who it’s between) and I need to keep my hand in.
I intend to have it finished before I post it there – this is not going to be an epic, probably something around the 20,000 words mark at most – but I’m going to put it up here as a WIP so that I can make changes if it doesn’t strike the right chords with readers. I’m putting Chapter One up today simply because alwaysjbj has just posted a rather neat little Spuffy ficlet set during ‘Lover’s Walk’ and that is exactly where this story kicks off. As you will see, however, this universe diverges from canon in one important respect even before the event that triggers the story. It’s an ‘insert Dawn here’ fic.
This chapter is 2,450 words. Rating PG-13 so far, I think, but I’ll crank it up to R later.
Love Potion Number 9
This is not the way that it happened. It is, however, the way that everyone remembers it happening. This is the version of events that you will read if you take a peek into their diaries even if it isn’t what they wrote at the time. If you point out that one particular person couldn’t have been present they will frown, look at you as if they think that you’re mad, and then realization will dawn – no pun intended – on their faces and they’ll say ‘Oh. Yeah. She wasn’t really there, I guess.’ It will make no difference. The reality is forgotten and the imposed memories are all that remain.
There is one exception. If she thinks about it really hard, Buffy can remember; not the real events themselves, but a vision of the reality. There was one evening when a spell pierced the veil and brief flashes of memory surfaced in her mind even as Dawn flickered in and out of the family photos. Memories of a different course of events, a journey along a different road, which ended up at the same destination in the end but along a far longer and rockier path. Those memories vanished the moment the spell had run its course, along with the Dawn-free pictures and the crates stored in Dawn’s bedroom, and all that remained were memories of the memories.
This, then, is the story as they would tell it to you if you asked Willow, or Xander, or Buffy, or Spike, or – of course – Dawn; and it’s the only way that Cordelia could possibly tell it to you because in the original reality she’s dead.
But I would advise you not to bring up the subject in the vicinity of Angel.
“I need a curse.” Spike swayed from side to side as he stared at the shopkeepers. Identical twins, standing in identical poses. Bloody weird. Gave him the sodding creeps, to tell the truth. Still, long as they gave him the curse, they could be as creepy as they bloody liked.
“A curse?” they said in unison.
“A curse. Y'know, something nasty? Boils! I wanna give him boils all over his face. You know, dripping pustules. Let's really go for the gusto here.” Spike clenched his fist and pumped it up and down. “Wanna make the git suffer.”
“I really wouldn’t recommend a curse,” the shopkeepers told him. “There are always consequences.”
“Don’t care,” Spike growled. “Want to curse the brooding twat good and proper. Leprosy. Something to make his parts fall off. That would serve the bugger right.”
“Oh dear,” the shopkeepers said reprovingly, shaking their heads. They coalesced together into one for a moment and then separated again. “The consequences could be drastic for you. Don’t you know about the Rule of Three? Whatever harm you wish upon others rebounds upon you threefold.”
Spike gulped. The idea of suffering a triple dose of leprosy was a sobering thought, even though he was about as far from being sober as was inhumanly possible, and his vision cleared slightly. His hands went to his groin in a protective gesture. “Got to do something,” he muttered. “Can’t bleeding well go on like this.”
“Perhaps something to make you feel better instead?” the shopkeepers suggested. Or shopkeeper, rather, as there seemed to be only one now. “Self-improvement is exempt from the Rule of Three. Much safer.”
“Maybe,” Spike grudgingly agreed. “Dunno if anything would make me feel better than watching the poof’s bits drop off.” He frowned. “Well, hearing about it, that is. Wouldn’t want to see the git doing the Full Monty thing, whether his bits were dropping off at the time or not.”
The shop bell jangled. The shopkeepers, now identical twins again, turned away. “Would you excuse me a moment?” they said to Spike, and went to serve this new customer.
Spike saw two of the Slayer’s little friends walk into the shop. The little red-headed twins. Funny, he hadn’t even realized that there were two of them. What were their names? Willow, and – Warbler? Wind? Wildebeest? Walrus? Nah, that couldn’t be bloody right. He dodged back behind two bookcases to keep out of their sight and listened as they wittered on about wanting an anti-love spell.
“It seems to me,” the shopkeepers told the red-headed twins, “that what you really need is clarity. I gather that you’re torn between two lovers, as the song puts it?”
Spike was confused. Why didn’t the twins just take one each? Could even swap over now and again if they fancied a change, wasn’t like the blokes would be able to tell the difference.
“I have something that might help,” the shopkeepers continued. “A spell that will look into your heart, find out which is the one you feel most truly for, and banish all the inappropriate feelings you have for the other.”
“So I’d get rid of all these naughty thoughts about Xander?” Willow and Walrus chorused. “Uh, if I was talking about myself, of course, ‘cause hey, this is totally for a friend.”
“Or get rid of the feelings about the other person and keep the ones about – Cassandra, did you say? Whichever one is the right one will remain in your heart and your confusion will be gone.”
“I guess we’d both have to do the spell? Or one of us might be all confused and the other one all unconfused. Although that would be half-way there, which would be of the good, I guess.”
“It would help if it was done for both of you, yes, but it’s not essential,” the shopkeepers – no, there really was only one, and there was only one little red-headed girl – said. “If you – your friend, rather, heh heh – realize that Cassandra is the one for you – her – then Cassandra’s own situation will be clarified. Or, conversely, if your friend is freed of all lustful thoughts of Cassandra that will make things considerably easier for both of you. Of her. Them. Sorry, I’m getting a little tangled up there. Anyway, I can provide it in potion form if you like. That might be safest if Cassandra isn’t a spell-caster. It’s an easy one to get wrong. I must warn you, though, never administer this potion to someone without their knowledge and consent. If you do then they will not choose you.”
Spike’s head was spinning slightly and he was losing track of how many Willows or Walruses or Wildebeest there really were. And who the hell was Cassandra? He caught on to the essential point, however. A spell, a potion, which could get rid of those annoying and totally wrong thoughts about the Slayer that had afflicted him recently and which Dru had latched onto.
Thoughts about the Slayer shaking her cute bum on the dance floor in the Bronze. Of her in that red dress at Halloween, looking right tasty, although the fire had been missing and she just hadn’t been as much fun until she had snapped back to being herself and – sadly – kicked his arse as usual. Thoughts of the fight in the church, and how much he’d enjoyed the dance with her – before the bitch had dropped that sodding organ on him, anyway – and how for a minute there he’d forgotten all about his Dark Princess.
Thoughts that Dru had somehow perceived, and that she’d dragged up to justify her own infidelities with any sodding demon with the right parts, even if it also had a lot of wrong parts like slime-dripping antlers. ‘You’re all covered with her,’ Dru had accused. ‘I look at you … all I see is the Slayer’. Bloody exaggeration, it was; okay, he wouldn’t have kicked the Slayer out of bed for eating crackers, shagging her before draining her would have been a bit of all right – or simultaneously shagging and draining, or even shagging her instead of draining her if it came down to it, okay, got to admit it – but that was all. Right? But there was just enough truth in it to make his denials sound a tiny bit hollow.
If he could get rid of those inappropriate thoughts, go back to Dru and say ‘Stuff the Slayer, it’s only you that I’ve got any bloody interest in, don’t care about her one way or the other’ and have the weight of truth behind his words, she might behave herself a bit better. Take him back, tell that sodding Chaos Demon to bugger off, and stop playing around in future. Yeah. Worth a shot.
And if it didn’t work he could always tie Dru up and torture her until she loved him again.
Spike sat in the burned-out factory surrounded by the fragments of one of Drusilla’s old dolls and raised a potion bottle high. “Must be going soft,” he muttered to himself. “Should have eaten the old bat. Or bats. Well, if this doesn’t work, I can always go back and eat her tonight. Would serve her bloody right. If it does work, well, s’ppose she deserves to not get eaten. Okay, here goes.” He put the bottle to his lips and guzzled down the contents. He lowered the bottle, tilted his head to one side, and licked his lips. “Not bad. Fair old kick to it.” His hand went to his pocket for the second bottle but in the nick of time he remembered its true purpose and he left it where it was. “Okay, potion, do your thing,” he said. “No more thinking about shagging the Slayer, right?”
He threw the bottle into a corner. “I love the sound of breaking glass,” he sang, “especially when I’m lonely. I need the noises of destruction, when there’s nothing new.” He yawned and began to lean over sideways. “Oh nothing new, sound of breaking glass. I love the sound of breaking glass, deep into the night…” He yawned again, leaned further, and toppled over onto his side. “Love the sound of its condition,” he mumbled, yawned again, and fell asleep.
“Buffy, I love you,” the sleeping Spike mumbled. “God, I love you so much.” His eyes opened a crack. He stirred, rolled over, and suddenly sat bolt upright. “Oh, God, no!” he gasped. “Please, no.”
He groaned and sank his head into his hands. He tried to summon up images of Drusilla, his Dark Princess, the face of his salvation who had rescued him from mediocrity. It was no use. The attraction was gone. He could see her clearly now. Beautiful, yes; but evil, insane, capricious, manipulative, and vindictive. Not that those were necessarily a barrier to a relationship – I mean, evil vampire here, right? – but she was also ungrateful, unfaithful, and devoted to someone else.
The Slayer, by contrast, was now revealed as smart, funny, charming, brave, honest, loyal, and a right smashing bit of top totty. Okay, she was devoted to someone else too, and the same someone else as Dru, but that brooding pillock wasn’t bloody worthy of her. She needed someone better than a sullen Mick with hair that stuck straight up.
Spike sighed. She needed someone better than a punk vampire whose sole claim to fame was having killed two other Slayers. Sod it. Didn’t have a chance with her, did he? He’d buggered himself up good and proper. That’d teach him to mess around with magic potions when he was pissed out of his skull. Should have known there’d be consequences.
Okay, so what was he going to do about it? Giving up wasn’t in Spike’s nature. If he was in love with the Slayer he was going to do something about it. Question was, what? His record with courting girls wasn’t exactly a run of resounding successes. There’d been Dru, who he’d stumbled into by accident, and Cecily, who had rejected him in the most crushing fashion possible, and, well, that was it. Casual chat-ups and shags followed by dinner for one didn’t really count. He had no idea what he should do to win the Slayer. Buffy.
There were things that he knew wouldn’t work. Eating her friends, bringing her fresh bleeding hearts, opening the Hellmouth – all were right out. Okay, avoiding that sort of thing was a no-brainer.
Bloody hell, he was going to have to be good!
How had the brooding pillock managed to get into her knickers? As far as Spike could tell it had been by lurking around and giving the Slayer a bit of a hand now and then without ever doing anything really worthwhile. Can do better than that, right?
Yeah, like trying to be some kind of sodding Champion was going to work out well. But what the hell else could he try?
Okay, what was needed was a plan. Stage one had to be to find out more about her. He knew how she fought, where she patrolled, how to hurt her – the pillock had shown him that – but not how to make her happy. So, that’s what he needed to find out. What did she like apart from staking vampires and coming up with one-liners while she was doing it? Dancing, yeah, but what else? He needed to know.
Walking up to her and asking wasn’t going to work well. Asking the great hulking lummox was an even worse idea. He knew from years of watching television shows that an approach through her friends was a traditional course of action that often had good results. He could try to ask Willow and that lad, what was his name? Oh, yeah, Xander. Now that he had sobered up he could see where that ‘Cassandra’ from the shopkeeper had come from. Probably a good bit of leg-pulling ammunition to be got from that.
Except that they knew that he was a vampire and they were bloody terrified of him. Not a lot to be gained by going to them. Wouldn’t get him information about what was the Slayer's favorite flower, and did she like chocolate, what music did she like, and would she react to poetry with ‘that’s kinda sweet’ or with ‘that totally sucks, you are so beneath me’; nah, would just cause a lot of screaming and running away and clumsy attempts to stake him. Bugger that for a game of soldiers.
So where could he find out that sort of thing?
Obvious, really. Only one place. The only person who had that sort of information and who might just divulge it with careful handling. Not that she’d approve of Spike courting Buffy, no way, but she didn’t have to find out what he was after, did she? Yeah, that was who Spike had to go and see.
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.
Song lyrics quoted by Spike in this chapter are from ‘I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass’ by Nick Lowe.