This could be treated as a birthday fic, because I know Shalla likes this one, and it was seeing that it was her birthday that prodded me to get a move on with this story.
It's the Season 3 Spike/Buffy story that I’m writing for seven_seasons. It is supposed to be finished by the end of July, but - as often happens with me, I'm afraid - I got distracted. This chapter takes it to about the half-way point and so I think my chances of making that deadline are non-existent. Anyway, here is part 4 of 'Love Potion Number Nine', taking place during 'Amends'. 3,575 words, rating still PG-13.
Summary; during ‘Lover’s Walk’ the magic shop owner comes up with an alternative solution to Spike’s dilemma and he takes her up on it instead of kidnapping Willow and Xander. Things rapidly go AU from there.
Previous chapters are HERE.
Love Potion Number 9
Buffy touched the branches of a somewhat bedraggled Christmas tree. “That depends on who they are, Mom. Aunt Arlene? If she comes to stay I so don’t want to share a room with Dawnie.”
Dawn took advantage of being behind Buffy to stick out her tongue. “Like I’d want to share with you?”
“I’m betting not Dad,” Buffy went on. “Giles? You’re inviting Giles over for dinner?”
Joyce felt her cheeks growing warm and turned away. She pretended to examine a tree and to be pondering its suitability for Christmas at 1630 Revello Drive. “I’m sure that Giles already has plans.”
“Okay, I give up,” Buffy said. “Who?”
“Spike,” Dawn guessed.
“That’s right, dear,” Joyce smiled.
Buffy spun around, dislodging a shower of artificial snow from a tree, and her eyes widened enormously. “Mom! You can not be serious.”
“Oh? And why not? I’m sure that he’d be delighted.” Joyce allowed a half smile at Buffy’s expression of startled incredulity to appear on her lips. “And I very much doubt if he’ll have any other previous engagements.”
“That’s ‘cause he’s a vampire, Mom.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Evil, creature of darkness, not big with the celebration of Christmas.”
“The Christmas aspect might not quite be to his taste, but I’m sure that the food will be,” Joyce said.
Buffy shook her head. “There’s one thing about the whole vampire lifestyle, well death-style, that you’re kinda forgetting, Mom. Vampires drink the blood of the living. They don’t eat food.”
“They do so,” Dawn corrected her sister smugly. “He likes pizza and spicy wings and Cheetos.”
“Spike, international gourmet,” Buffy said. She looked Joyce in the eye. “You said ‘a couple of guests’, Mom. So who’s the other one? Drusilla? Charles Manson? Marilyn Manson?”
“Well,” Joyce said, stretching out the revelation, “I thought that, perhaps, it might be a nice gesture to invite Faith.”
“Faith?” Buffy’s eyes widened even further. “You want to invite Faith and Spike at the same time? Spike’s the Slayer of Slayers, Mom, and you want to put him together with two of us. Are you intending to provide him with an all-you-can-eat buffet? Or an all-you-can-eat Buffy, even? I think you’re taking the expression ‘asking for trouble’ to a whole new level.”
“Spike will behave himself if he comes,” Joyce said with calm certainty. “And I expect you to warn Faith in advance and to tell her that there is a truce with Spike.”
“Uh, Mom, Faith and I don’t really hang out much these days. Or talk, or make eye contact.”
“Well, I’m sure that you don’t want her to spend Christmas Eve all by herself in that dingy little motel room,” Joyce said.
“You’re still number one with the guilt trip, Mom,” Buffy said. “Although, maybe she would rather stay in the room with nothing but the TV for company than have a Christmas dinner with the Slayer of Slayers there. I’ll go for inviting Faith, I guess, if you want her, but hey, not Spike.”
“You’re just mean,” Dawn whined. “I want Spike to come.”
“Dawnie, Spike is not some nice guy who will help you with your homework and watch Power Rangers Turbo with you,” Buffy reminded her. “He’s a vicious evil monster who kills little girls and drinks their blood.”
“Power Rangers Turbo was last year, Buffy. It’s Power Rangers In Space this year,” Dawn corrected her sister. She stuck her nose up in the air. “And Spike does watch it with me. And he does help me with my homework.”
“He really does, Buffy,” Joyce confirmed. “I’ve decided. I’m going to invite Spike regardless of what you think. He’s my friend, and Dawn’s, and that’s that.”
Buffy pouted and turned away. “Okay, mom, it’s your house. I’ll accept your decision, but I don’t have to like it.” She walked over to some trees that stood out among the rest because they were brown rather than green and she poked at the branches.
“Bunch of them up and died on us,” the tree seller told her. “Don’t know why. If you want one, I’ll cut you a good deal.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Buffy replied.
Joyce moved on to examine other trees. She spotted one that was healthy, green, and exactly the size that she had visualized. “Oh, honey, this one is just perfect.”
Joyce opened the door. “Hi, Spike. Come on in.”
“Hello, Joyce.” Spike entered and held up a plastic bag bulging with packages. “Where should I put these?”
“Spike! You brought presents,” Dawn squealed.
“’Course I brought presents, you mercenary little baggage,” Spike said. He smiled at the girl in a manner that Joyce could only describe as ‘fond’. Hardly what one would have expected from a soulless evil vampire, but she was coming to the conclusion that Spike would confound all expectations.
“Slayer,” Spike said, nodding to acknowledge Buffy’s presence.
“Spike,” Buffy replied. Her expression as she looked at Spike was definitely not fond. Cold neutrality was the kindest term that could have been found to describe it.
“Put them under the tree, Spike,” Joyce told him. “Take off your coat and sit down.”
“Yeah.” Spike complied. Joyce took his coat and went to hang it up. “Hot in here, innit?” Spike jerked his head towards the roaring fire. “Nice and homely, and all, but a bit over the top for California.”
“That’s what I said,” Buffy said, unbending slightly.
The doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” Buffy said. She opened it to reveal Faith.
“Hey,” Faith said. She scraped her bottom teeth over her top lip. “I, uh, that party looked like it would be a drag, uh, well, I didn’t really have anything, you know, B?”
“I’m glad you came,” Buffy said. She sounded sincere to Joyce, or at least was doing a passable impression of sincerity. “Why don’t you come in from the entire lack of cold?”
Faith stepped into the house. “I, uh, brought these,” she said, and handed three wrapped packages to Buffy. “That one’s for your mom, and that’s for your kid sis. Uh, they’re pretty crappy.”
“Oh, Faith, that’s so thoughtful,” Joyce said. “I’m glad you could make it.”
“They’re crappy,” Faith said. She lowered her eyes.
“It’s real nice of you,” Dawn said.
“Hey, I hope you still think so when you open yours,” Faith said. She looked up and saw Spike. “Hey. Spike, yeah? Like, William the Bloody?”
“The one and only,” Spike said. “And you’d be Faith.”
“The Vampire Slayer,” Faith said. “Uh, present company excepted, I guess.”
Spike grinned. “Hope so, pet.”
“At least until we figure out what you’re up to,” Buffy muttered.
Joyce heard the comment and knew that Spike’s keen vampire hearing would have picked it up too. “Buffy, please,” she said sharply. “That was uncalled for.”
Buffy pouted. “Oh, mom. I – okay, I’ll play nice.” She shifted her feet. “I’m gonna go upstairs and get your gifts. Excuse me.”
Spike tilted his head to one side and ran his tongue over the edge of his teeth. “Bet you haven’t got one for me, have you, pet?”
Buffy’s eyes focused on the gifts that Spike had put under the tree. Four of them. Her eyes widened. “You got me a present?”
“Well, yeah,” Spike said. “Christmas, innit? Peace and goodwill to all men, and all that.” He grinned, seemingly enjoying Buffy’s evident discomfiture, and then he cocked his head and a frown crossed his brow. “There another guest that I didn’t know about?”
“What do you mean?” Buffy asked.
“Somebody’s upstairs,” Spike told her. “Moving around all quiet like.”
Buffy’s hand went to where she would have been carrying a stake had she been out on patrol. She came up empty. “Here, B,” Faith offered, and tossed a stake over.
Buffy snatched it out of the air. “Stay here,” she ordered, and she went up the stairs quickly but cautiously.
Joyce heard a bedroom door opening and closing and then could just make out faint sounds of talking. She couldn’t hear what was being said, or recognize the voices, but Spike obviously had no such problem.
“Angel,” he said, his frown growing more pronounced. “Wonder what the great pillock’s doing here? And why didn’t he come in through the door?”
“We kinda don’t get on,” Faith said. “I was gonna kill him.”
Spike’s frown was replaced by a grin. “Knew there was something about you I liked.”
Dawn giggled. Joyce tried to frown at her but failed. She didn’t like Angel either, and it wasn’t even because of his vampire status. If Buffy had had a human boyfriend who behaved like that, sneaking around and never making any attempt to interact with her family, Joyce would have been equally disapproving. If Buffy had to have a relationship with an undead monster why couldn’t it have been with Spike? Her eyes narrowed as something about that stray thought struck a chord. She stared at Spike appraisingly.
‘I mean, this bird is a real bit of all right’, Spike had said. ‘Got guts and a sense of humor as well as being a gorgeous piece of talent’. Suddenly Joyce was convinced that Spike had been talking about Buffy. She was the human girl who Spike had fallen for and for whom he was willing to give up his predatory lifestyle.
Before Joyce could finish processing this thought there was a ‘thud’ from outside and the sound of footsteps running away. Buffy came back down the stairs seconds later.
“What’s going down, B?” Faith asked.
“It was Angel,” Buffy said. She shook her head. “He was acting all kinds of weird. Like there was something there talking to him that I couldn’t see.”
“You think maybe he’s still all crazy from when he was…” Faith’s voice trailed away.
“Never was all that stable,” Spike muttered.
“I had a dream,” Buffy said. “There were these blind priests in it. Giles says they’re the Harbingers of the First Evil. They can kinda set spirit manifestations on people, make them see things. I guess that’s what’s affecting Angel.”
“So, I guess we saddle up, find these guys, and get them to stop?” Faith said.
“I guess,” Buffy said. She shook her head again. “I think I’d better do this alone, Faith. You stay here and keep an eye on Mom and Dawn, ‘kay? Just in case he comes back.”
“I’ll look after them,” Spike volunteered. “I can handle the great pillock, no problem.”
“I’m not leaving you here alone with my family, Spike,” Buffy snapped.
“Huh,” Dawn snorted. “Like he hasn’t been alone with us before? We’ll be safe with Spike here, Buffy.”
“Of course we will,” Joyce agreed.
Buffy’s eyebrows went up and down. “Uh, maybe. I, well, I’d still rather do this alone.” She smiled at Faith. “You deserve a night off, Faith.”
“Could go along with you, then,” Spike offered. “I’d watch your back, B- Slayer.”
“No way, Spike,” Buffy said. She gathered up some stakes and slipped on her coat. “’Bye, Mom, Dawn, Faith.”
“Buffy, manners,” Joyce prompted her. “And?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Mom! Oh, all right. ‘Bye, Spike.”
It was hours later. Dawn had finally succumbed to exhaustion and agreed to go to bed. Joyce went upstairs to visit the bathroom and to check up on her daughter, making sure that she had managed to make it to bed before going to sleep, and then started to descend the stairs.
Spike was packing away the board games while Faith lounged on the couch. “You sure are one weird vampire, Blondie,” Joyce heard Faith say. “I got to say, I never thought I’d get my ass kicked at Trivial Pursuit by a vamp.”
“Not a lot for a vamp to do in the daytime, ‘cept for reading and watching telly,” Spike replied. “S’ppose I’ve picked up a fair bit of knowledge over the years.” Joyce stopped halfway down the stairs. She was interested in listening to this conversation.
“I guess. I still don’t get why you’re playing with Buffy’s kid sis like she was your own sister, instead of eating her,” Faith went on. “It’s kinda sweet.”
“Hey, you take that back,” Spike protested. “Big Bad here. Not bloody ‘sweet’.”
Faith laughed. “No, man, it’s cool. Hey, if you were a regular guy instead of a vamp, I’d be looking at you and thinking ‘this one’s a keeper’. Compared with some of the deadbeats that I’ve fu- dated, you’re a real class act.” She leaned forward. “Hey. If B can date a vamp, why not me? How about it, handsome?”
Spike’s eyes went as round as those of a startled rabbit. “Wouldn’t be bloody right, pet. You’re a tasty piece, right enough, but there’s somebody else. Already committed elsewhere, y’know?”
“Yeah, right.” Faith settled back into the couch. “Just my luck. Drusilla, right? How come she isn’t with you?”
“Crazy bint went off with someone else, didn’t she? Nah, fed up to the back teeth with her, I am.”
“Huh? Not her? So who, man? Spill. You’re getting an offer from a hot chick with super-powers and you’ve got something better?”
“Not gonna tell you, Faith, so you might as well drop it,” Spike said.
Joyce had heard enough. She resumed her course and came the rest of the way down the stairs. “You must be desperate for a cigarette, Spike,” she said. “Why don’t you go out onto the porch for a smoke?”
“Hey, yeah,” Faith said. “Me too. Come on then, Blondie.”
“Oh.” Joyce had been intending to join Spike on the porch so that she could say some things to him in private. It hadn’t occurred to her that Faith was also a smoker.
Faith turned a keen gaze on Joyce. “That sounds like I’m kinda screwing something up for you, right, Mrs. Summers? You want to talk to Spike alone, yeah?”
“I do,” Joyce admitted.
“Okay, I’ll hit the porch first,” Faith offered.
“Thank you.” Once Faith was outside Joyce turned her full attention on Spike. “It’s Buffy, isn’t it?”
“What’s Buffy?” Spike’s expression closely paralleled one that Dawn adopted when caught with her hands in the cookie jar.
“The girl. The human girl you’ve fallen for. Don’t try to wriggle out of it, Spike. I know.”
“Okay, you got me there,” Spike admitted. “Yeah, it’s your eldest. Didn’t want you to find out. Should have known you’d see through me. Bite-size spotted it right out.” Spike lowered his eyes. “Knew you wouldn’t be happy about it.”
“I’m not overjoyed,” Joyce confirmed. “I want Buffy to have a normal life, or at least as normal as possible in her situation, and that includes having normal human boyfriends. I’m not angry at you either, though. You can’t choose who you fall in love with.” She sighed. “I don’t think you stand much chance, I’m afraid, Spike. She seems to be quite devoted to Angel. Although,” she allowed a smile to cross her face, “I really can’t imagine why.”
“Me neither. Never could see the attraction of all that brooding,” Spike said. “So you’re not going to tell me to stay away from your daughter, then?”
“I already have,” Joyce reminded him. “There may have been an axe involved.”
Spike’s eyebrows twitched up and down and he ran his tongue over his teeth. “Yeah. Bloody brilliant, you were, Joyce.” He pursed his lips. “Not gonna give up, y’know, Joyce. Even if you don’t approve. Not that I’ve any bloody idea of how to get anywhere with her, but a man’s got to try.”
Joyce sighed again. “No, I won’t insist on you staying away from her, Spike. If your feelings for Buffy have caused you to give up being a ruthless killer I can only regard that as a good thing. But what will you do if you never do succeed in capturing her affections?”
“Capturing her affections? Been mixing with the Watcher too much, I think, Joyce,” Spike teased.
Joyce felt her skin growing warm and knew that she was blushing. “I read historical romance novels,” she said. “Anyway, answer my question, Spike. If Buffy finds and settles down with a nice normal boy, or – Heaven forbid – commits herself totally to Angel, will you go back to your old ways?”
Spike frowned. “Dunno. Maybe. Promise you this, though, Joyce. You and Dawn will always be safe from me. Doesn’t matter what else happens. If I can’t stick to the human-free diet I’ll sod off somewhere else, a long way away. Go and eat Chinese or something.”
“I suppose that’s as much as I could ask for,” Joyce said. “I trust you, Spike.”
“Thanks, Joyce.” Spike looked her straight in the eyes. “That means a lot.”
Joyce opened the blinds and looked out onto an unrecognizable landscape. The lawn was white. The road was white. The leaves on the trees had a white covering. “It can’t be,” she gasped. “Not here.”
“What’s that, Mom?” Dawn asked. “Hey, can we open the presents yet?”
“Easy there, bite-size,” Faith said, using Spike’s nickname for the youngest Summers and causing Dawn to grin. “Some of us ain’t human in the morning until we’ve had some – holy shit!”
Dawn laughed. “I’ve never heard it called that before.” She looked out of the window. “Wow! Is that snow?”
“It can’t be,” Joyce said. “It might be volcanic ash. Dawn, switch the TV on. See if there’s anything on the news.”
“That’s snow,” Faith asserted, as Dawn went to the TV. “Trust me on this. Kinda makes me homesick for Boston.”
“But it never snows here,” Joyce said.
“It could be, what do they call it, an El Niño thing, yeah?” Faith suggested.
“…snowfall for the first time in, well, ever,” a voice on the TV said. “Sunnydale residents shouldn't expect to see the sun at all today. That cold front isn't going anywhere. With temperatures in the mid to high 30s, it means you better bundle up if you're planning to go outside and enjoy the change in the weather.”
“It is snow!” Dawn bounced on the balls of her feet. “I so have to make snowballs.” She looked around. “Where’s Spike? He could totally go outside with all those clouds. We could have a snowball fight.”
“Spike split a couple of hours before dawn, Dawn,” Faith told her. “He had to get home before the sun came up, you dig? But you want snowball fights, well, this Boston girl can teach you all about that.”
“I guess,” Dawn said. “Thanks, Faith. But hey, I nearly forgot. Presents!”
The door opened and Buffy entered the house. There were snowflakes in her hair and on the shoulders of her coat. “Hi, Mom, Dawn, Faith,” she greeted. “Pretty much of a miracle, huh?”
Later, when Faith and Dawn were outside making snowballs, Joyce listened to Buffy recounting the events of the night. “Angel kinda gave up,” Buffy said. “He was just gonna let himself burn up. And then it snowed.”
“And saved him,” Joyce said.
“Yeah.” Buffy seemed to shiver. “Maybe it is a miracle. But he shouldn’t have needed it. He just sorta gave up on everything.” She bit on her lower lip. “Spike turned up,” she said. “He was trying to help me get Angel to safety. He stuck around until maybe five minutes before sunrise. Cut it fine enough that if it hadn’t been for the snow he might have been in danger himself.”
“He really has changed,” Joyce said.
“Maybe. I mean, he doesn’t like Angel. He really doesn’t like Angel. But he was right there helping me anyway.” Buffy chewed on her lip again. “Angel told me once that Spike never gives up. Maybe Angel could do with learning from him. At least in some things.”
“What did Angel get you for Christmas?” Joyce asked.
Buffy frowned. “What’s that got to do with anything? He hasn’t given me anything yet. There was a lot going on, you know?”
“Oh, nothing, dear, go on,” Joyce said. She listened with only half an ear as she concentrated on thinking about the two vampires who were in love with her daughter. One was undoubtedly a hero, at least when he wasn’t being an evil sadistic murderer, who was apparently important enough to Somebody Up There for impossibly unlikely weather conditions to have been arranged for his benefit. He was also, in Joyce’s opinion, cold, self-centered, somewhat obsessive, and careful with his money to the point of being mean. The other was a self-confessed villain, refraining from doing evil only to score points with a girl, and no doubt completely below the radar of any Powers. He was, however, friendly, helpful, and impulsively generous. Joyce couldn’t remember Angel ever having even spoken to Dawn; Spike was undeniably devoted to her.
Joyce frowned. Luckily it was at a point in Buffy’s story at which a frown was an appropriate reaction and she noticed nothing amiss. If she ignored the vampire factor, Joyce thought, there was no doubt whatsoever which of the two men she would prefer as her daughter’s boyfriend. Spike won hands down. Taking their vampire status into account, well, Spike was just so much more human than was the vampire with a soul. Maybe, Joyce thought, Spike deserved a little subtle assistance after all. Buffy was definitely dating the wrong vampire.
To be continued …
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.