Life In Shadow
Chapter Five: Crazy Nights.
“I’m gonna have to cut class.” Willow stared glumly at her yoghurt, unable to face actually eating any of it.
“I’ll tell them you’re sick,” Buffy assured her. “Which is true. I just won’t tell them why you’re sick.”
“Thanks, Buff.” Willow drank some orange juice and made a face. “I’m going back to bed.”
Three hours later she rose, feeling somewhat better, and forced herself to eat something. Memory of the spell she had performed returned to her as she ate. “I command that my hangover be cured,” she said aloud, and waited for a moment. “Pain behind my eyes, still there, check. Queasy stomach, check. Tongue all yucky, check. Bummer.”
She felt a lot better by the time she’d finished eating and had some coffee, however, and so she attempted once more to test out the spell. “It is my will that Tom out of Blink 182 shall appear in the room, naked, with a big bunch of flowers for me.” Nothing happened. She picked up a bent Q-Tip and stared at it. “I will that this Q-Tip gets … unbendy?” It remained bent, and Willow sighed deeply. “It is my will that there’s a knock on the door and it’s Oz and he’s coming back to me,” she concluded with little hope.
There was a knock on the door. She flew to it eagerly and threw the door open, a beaming smile on her face, which faded as she saw who it was. Giles.
“Oh,” she said in a flat voice. “Giles. What are you doing here?”
“I’m glad you’re so obviously pleased to see me,” Giles responded, taken aback by her reaction.
“No, no, come in,” she urged. “Hey, good to see you. Not like you visit much. You looking for Buffy?”
“No, it’s you I’m here to see,” he said, entering the room. “I heard you were somewhat, umm, indisposed. I’ve brought an old remedy I know that may make you feel somewhat better.”
“Thanks, but actually I’m feeling pretty much okay now,” she assured him. “So you know about the great beer disaster, huh?”
“I have some idea, yes. I gather you overindulged. I guessed you might not be feeling up to going to classes today, and obviously I was correct in that assumption.”
“So, how’d you find out?” Willow asked. “Spike?”
“Indeed. I was furious with him when he confessed to having plied you with drink, but I didn’t waste my time on giving him the dressing down he deserves. One must expect that sort of behaviour from a creature without a conscience.”
“What? Oh, no, that’s not how it happened. He just bought the gang a couple of beers each, but I drank Buffy’s as well as mine, and then I took one of Anya’s, and one of Spike’s, and I was talking to a couple of guys and I got them to buy me a vodka, and a tequila sunrise, and – look, don’t blame Spike. It was all me. And, you know, I was pretty nasty to him and he was nice about it. He covered for me?”
Giles’ eyebrows climbed heavenwards. “Good Lord. Spike actually acted decently?”
“Yeah. He got mad at some of the things that I said, but when I said I was sorry he was real nice. Forgave me quicker than Xander, even. Which reminds me, I think I’d better do some crawling tonight. Hey, while you’re here, want some coffee?”
“No, thank you. I won’t stay, if you’ve recovered I presume you’ll be going to your classes this afternoon.”
“I think I’ll cut them anyway. Still not feeling one hundred per cent, and I can afford some skippage. Just do some reading and veg out.”
“Very well. Willow, do you think you could print out your findings from yesterday? I really would like to start analysing them as soon as possible.”
“Findings?” Willow repeated blankly, having temporarily forgotten about the previous day’s research.
“Yes, your investigation into the possible military installation in the vicinity of the College. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to keep up with you when you were working on the computer, and I’d like to have it printed out so that I can go through it at my own pace.” Giles smiled self-depreciatingly at her, and was surprised when she scowled back at him.
“So, this visit, not really because you’re worried about me at all, is it? I thought it was strange you’d come all this way just for me, now I know. Nobody really cares about me.”
“That’s not true, Willow. I came to see if you were all right. However, while I’m here, it was only sensible to enquire about the other item. You did say that you would do it today.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve got other things to think about. I’m going through a lot of pain here.”
“I have this hangover remedy,” Giles offered, putting a hand to his pocket.
“Not that sort of pain,” she snapped. “Emotional pain. You all keep forgetting about what happened to me. Well, I can’t forget. Okay, I’m all with the doing of stupid things right now, but I’m having a hard time dealing. I even tried to do a spell last night to get me through it, but it was a bust.”
“A spell? I don’t think that was a good idea at all. Alone, unsupervised, and, well, drunk. A quite remarkably bad idea. Your energy is too unfocused even without the drinking. Anything could have happened.” Giles took off his glasses and polished the lenses.
“So now you’re going to scold me on top of everything else?” Willow stuck out her bottom lip and glared at him.
“I’m not scolding you, Willow. It was foolish, but I’m concerned for you, not angry with you.” He replaced his glasses and looked at her over the top of the lenses, with a fond half-smile that Willow misread as being patronising.
“Concerned? Huh. You don’t care about me.” A blue glow flickered in Willow’s eyes as her anger rose. “All you really care about is your books and your stupid music, your Rush and your Kiss and your – your Bay City Rollers! Just get back to them right now.”
“Oh, I can’t hang around here wasting my time on you,” Giles snapped. He turned round and headed for the door. “I have better things with which to occupy myself.” He slammed the door behind him and walked out of the dorm building, breaking into song as he left. “Well we sang shang-a-lang as we ran with the gang, doin’ doo wop be dooby do ay …”
* * * * * *
I wanna give it all to you
In the darkness
There's so much I wanna do
And tonight I wanna lay it at your feet
'Cause girl, I was made for you
And girl, you were made for me …’
The music blared through the room behind Spike as he opened the door. “The sun sets, and she arrives,” he said. “Hello, Mighty Mouse.”
“Hello, Tara,” Giles added, from within the room.
“Hi, Spike,” Tara greeted. “Hi, Mr Giles.” Her eyebrows went up as she saw that he was enthusiastically playing air guitar to the Kiss song, not even breaking off when he saw that she had noticed. “Can Spike come out to play?”
“What? Oh, yes, go forth and slay those vampires. You were made for lovin' me, And I can’t get enough of you baby … Take care.”
“We will,” Spike promised. “See you later.” He stepped out to join Tara, closing the door behind him. “Bleeding hell, it’s good to get out of there,” he sighed, shaking his head. “Giles is being a right pain in the arse.” He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. “Been playing music all afternoon, started before I even got up, and some of it is bloody atrocious. I mean, I can take Kiss or leave them, but he was playing the sodding Bay City Rollers earlier and that has to have been just to annoy me. No bloke who likes the Velvet Underground could even tolerate the frigging Rollers. He must have gone out and bought them special, damn sure he didn’t have any of that shit yesterday. Must be his bloody diabolical revenge on me for getting Willow pissed.”
“I thought it was more that Willow got you pissed? And you were okay about it as soon as she said sorry.” Tara was slightly confused by his remark.
“That’s ‘pissed’ in British English, love. Plastered. Smashed. Drunk.” Spike placed a cigarette between his lips and flicked his lighter. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told him about it, but I reckoned if I didn’t someone else was bound to.” He lit the cigarette, drew deeply, and breathed out a long plume of smoke. “I’ve been on my best behaviour, haven’t even been smoking indoors, and he still bloody tortures me. Still, it beats being staked. Just. Okay, love, let’s go kick vampire ass. For justice, and puppies, and Christmas.”
* * * * * *
“Always glad to welcome someone who brings takeout,” the vampire greeted. He was tall, well over six foot, and heavily built, his shaven head and facial studs adding to his menacing appearance. He grinned, revealing a row of teeth that resembled fangs even though he wasn’t in game face.
“Fuck first then feed?” the second vampire suggested, leering at Tara.
“Don’t think you’ve quite got the idea here,” Spike growled. His face shifted into its fighting form, and he sprang for the vampire. “Watch your sodding mouth around the lady.” He drove his point home by punching the offender repeatedly in the face.
“Gary! Help!” his victim appealed, trying to fend Spike off without any success.
The big vampire snarled, morphed into game face, and charged to the rescue. Tara jumped to intercept, going in low and sweeping his legs from under him, sending him sprawling into a heap of soft toys that lay in neglected and mouldy squalor at the side of the lair. He rose to his feet like a surfacing Kraken, roaring in fury, an effect spoiled by a Beanie Baby Unicorn that had snagged on his multiple earrings and dangled above his shoulder.
Tara giggled, and Gary halted in confusion. “You crazy, or just on something?” he rumbled angrily.
“Sorry,” Tara apologised. “I know it’s rude to laugh, but you do look funny.”
“Gary!” the other vampire screamed. “Quickly!” Spike had him pinned in a three-quarter nelson and was about to plunge his fangs into the vampire’s throat.
The big vampire decided to ignore the crazy girl for the moment and rushed to his partner’s aid. Again Tara intercepted him, ducking under the arm he swung to fend her off and driving her knee into his abdomen. She followed up with an upwards right palm heel to the jaw, and a left chop to the floating ribs. Gary let out an agonised grunt and lashed out at her. She tried to dodge but wasn’t completely successful, and it caught her a glancing blow on the top of her head and knocked her backwards.
Spike bit deep into his victim’s jugular and began to suck eagerly. The smaller vampire struggled in his grasp and whimpered in pain. Gary tried yet again to intervene, leaping towards them and bringing up a leg in a roundhouse kick. Spike saw his danger out of the corner of his eye and pivoted, swinging the other vampire into the path of the blow, and Gary kicked his comrade solidly in the head. There was an ugly crunching sound and the lesser vampire went limp in Spike’s arms. He tossed the body aside and faced Gary, fangs bared.
Gary raised his fists uncertainly. “What the hell is up with you, dude?” he demanded. “Working with a human against your own kind. Are you insane?”
“Dunno, but it beats being stupid,” Spike said contemptuously. “Bloody mess you’ve made of this place. Harm might have been a nitwit but she kept things neat.” He wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Second hand blood. Sodding crap, but beggars can’t be choosers. Goodbye.”
“Huh?” Gary frowned, baffled, and then a wooden point emerged through the centre of his chest. He had time for a brief look of horrified realisation and then he was dust.
Tara coughed and waved the dust cloud away from her face. “Stabbing him in the back didn’t seem fair,” she remarked. “I guess it was sensible, but it doesn’t seem right.”
Spike turned away from her hastily and resumed his human face, and then turned back towards her. “His own fault if he was so sodding stupid he forgot you were there.” He drew a stake from his coat pocket, bent down, and finished off the unconscious vampire. “Can’t afford to have too many principles in this game, love. Not like you crept up and stabbed him in his sleep, you gave him a fair chance at the start. Okay, let’s see if there’s any of my stuff left, or anything else worth taking, and then head off. Maybe the Watcher will have got the crap music craving out of his system by the time we get back.”
* * * * * *
Willow sat on her bed and stroked Amy, the rat who used to be a school friend until a spell went wrong, and Amy preened her whiskers. “I think I’m over the ‘drown my sorrows’ bit now,” Willow told Buffy. “Pretty stupid of me, huh? Not that it even helped any. Just made me feel sick as well as miserable. I even did a spell to have my will done, so I could make myself feel better, maybe even get Oz to come back, and it was a total bust. All it got me was a disapproving look from Giles when he heard. You know, one of those ‘disappointed in you’ looks.”
“Giles? When did you see him?”
“He called here around lunchtime. Brought me a hangover cure, although I didn’t need it by then. I was all prickly with him, accused him of only having come ‘cause he wanted the printouts of the things I found on the net, and then we got into an argument about the spell. I’d better go make with the sorrys, tomorrow maybe.”
“Yeah, you should. He was right about the spell, totally not of the good doing the spell-casting when you were drunk. Anything could have happened.”
“You don’t need to worry, not a thing happened at all.” Willow stood up and began to pace up and down. “I so suck at being a witch.”
“No, you’re good, you’ve done some good stuff,” Buffy assured her, turning her back to the bed and watching Willow as she paced.
Willow shook her head. “I’m useless. The only real witch here is fuzzy little Amy.” She glanced briefly at the rat, who was slowly walking across the bed, and then turned her gaze back to Buffy. “I mean, she has powers I can’t even invoke. Well, until she screwed up that one time, which was a biggy, but hey, she still had the power. I used to really envy her. I mean, one minute she’s a normal girl,” a blue spark flickered deep in Willow’s eyes, and instantly Amy transformed back into her human form, naked on the bed. She stared at her hand, opened her mouth to speak, and then Willow went on “and then she’s a rat.” Amy morphed back into rodent form. “That’s power. I mean, she could teleport to Hawaii.” The rat vanished from the bed.
“Amy couldn’t really teleport to Hawaii, or she would have done that instead of turning into a rat,” Buffy pointed out. “Much better way out of the witch trials thing.”
“Yeah, okay. So that way she’s a girl not a rat. Not stuck with the rodentness and the Habitrail and the cheese.” The blue gleam in Willow’s eyes flashed one last time and then faded away. “Still, she was much better at the whole witchyness thing than me.”
“Until she screwed up, which maybe backs up my point about being careful with the magics,” Buffy reminded her. She glanced back towards the bed, saw no rat, and looked around the room. “She’s down from the bed, we’d better be careful about opening the door.”
Willow stopped her pacing. “Yeah, don’t want her running loose round the College with cats and stuff out there.” She knelt and peered under the bed. “She’s a good rat, she’ll be back when she’s ready, no biggy as long as she doesn’t get out the room.” She got to her feet again and sat on the end of the bed once more. “I’ll leave the magic alone for a while until I’m back in balance. Do something normal. What say we maybe have a girly night, watch a movie or two, you know? Eat sundaes, sit around, safer for me than the drinking thing, right? I’ve got ‘Steel Magnolias’.”
“That’s a relief. The mood you were in yesterday, I was expecting maybe ‘Debbie Does Dallas’,” Buffy teased. “You really made a play for Spike? What were you thinking?”
Willow’s shoulders slumped and she sat back down on the bed. “I was thinking I miss, well, you know, boinking, and Anya talking about it all the time doesn’t help, and hey, Spike’s pretty good looking, and he was being sorta fun to be around, and I thought, well, he would, and it wouldn’t have to mean anything, okay? And hey, you and Angel, so no room to call me on being interested in a vampire.”
“Yeah, I see the attraction,” Buffy agreed, letting the reference to her relationship with Angel pass. “I guess the big no is him being a vicious killer, and he can’t be that any more, so, okay, no reason not to, I suppose. But he turned you down?”
“Yeah.” Willow sighed. “I thought he liked me, you know? Well, he says he does like me, but as a friend. I mean, getting the ‘just friends’ speech from a vampire, that ranks pretty high on the sucky-ness scale. He turned me down. He said you’d stake him, and Giles would stake him, and Xander would stake him.”
“He might be right about them, but me, well, I would have been worried about you, but it’s your life. Hey, better Spike than Parker.”
Willow laughed. “Yeah. He’s a lot more honest than Parker. But hey, I couldn’t get Parker anyway, I pretty much shot him down in flames that time. Can’t see him touching me now with a six-foot pole, never mind with a six-inch – ”
“Willow!” Buffy interrupted her, her eyebrows shooting up and her mouth opening wide.
“Not gonna happen, anyway,” Willow grinned. “So, movie night?”
“Sounds good. Maybe we should rope in Tara, even Anya?”
“I can’t see us being able to drag Anya away from Xander even for one evening,” Willow pointed out.
“That’s of the good,” Buffy told her. “We could invite her, Xander would see that we’re trying to be friendly, but we wouldn’t have to put up with her after all. Tara? She’s pretty nice, really, now I’m getting to know her.”
“Yeah, she’s real nice. I’d go for having Tara round, sure, but I don’t know if we could drag her away from Spike. It’s like they’re joined at the hip sometimes.” Willow pouted. “You know, one reason Spike said he was turning me down was because it would upset Tara. I think maybe he was more worried about that than about getting dusted.”
“You could be right. They’re going out together tonight. Not on a date,” Buffy added hastily. “Hunting vampires.”
“Probably counts as a date as far as Spike’s concerned,” Willow sniffed. “Maybe to Tara as well. Anyone can see that she drools over him. And I bet he’d be up her mousy minge if he got the chance. Huh.” Willow felt her resentment at Spike’s rejection flare up again. The blue glow flickered briefly in her eyes once more. “Those two should just get married.”
* * * * * *
Spike set a cardboard box down outside Giles’ door and turned to Tara, who was about to enter. “Hang on, my love, I’ll carry you over the threshold.”
“Silly,” she smiled. “That’s only after the wedding, not when you get engaged.” Spike pouted, and she chuckled. “It’s a nice thought, sweetie.” She took his hand, and he pulled her to him and into a kiss. It went on for a long time. She threw her arms around his neck, he clutched her shoulders, and then gradually slipped his hands down her back until he held one buttock in each hand, pulling her tight against him. When at last they drew apart she was wide-eyed and breathing heavily. “We’d b-better get inside,” she said unsteadily.
“As you wish, my love.” Spike released her reluctantly, opened the door, and picked up the box. “Got to break the news to the Watcher,” he said, as he followed her through the door. “It’ll be a bit of a shock to – bloody hell!”
Tara was frozen in shock, hand to her mouth. Spike froze as well, transfixed by the dreadful sight that met his eyes.
Giles was wearing a T-shirt, jeans rolled up level with the tops of his socks, and a tartan scarf tied around his waist to dangle at his side. His face was painted dead white with a black bat surrounding his eyes. His guitar was slung over his neck and he was strumming it gently. “There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees, for the maples want more sunlight, and the oaks ignore their pleas, ” he sang, and then broke off as he noticed their entrance. He extended his tongue at them and waggled it from side to side. Spike winced.
“Ah, you’re back,” he greeted them warmly, unslinging the guitar. “Is that a CD player I spy in that box? I was foolish enough to include some Compact Discs among my purchases this afternoon, and it completely slipped my mind that I had nothing on which to play them.” He laid the guitar on a chair and went over to Spike. “Ah, yes. Excellent.” He pulled the boombox out of the box and bore it away, while Spike stood stock still and stared at him.
“Bloody hell!” Spike repeated. “I’ve heard of mid-life crises, but this gets the sodding Nobel Prize. Bet he’s traded in the Citroen for a red sports car shaped like a penis.”
“Or for a Harley,” an equally stunned Tara breathed. “Guess this is a good time to tell him our news. He can’t be as shocked as we are.”
“You’re right. Watcher, err, Rupert, we got some news for you.”
“Yes, yes, go on,” Giles replied absently, setting the boombox on a coffee table and hastily plugging it in to the nearest socket. “Ah, ‘Open/Eject’. This must be where the Compact Disc goes.”
“Tara and me, well, we’re in love and we’re getting married,” Spike announced.
“What!” Giles exclaimed, turning away from the CD player. “Married? A Slayer and a vampire? That’s crazy. Crazy. ‘These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights.’ That’s on one of my new Compact Discs, you know. It heralded a revival of Kiss after some years in the rock wilderness.” He scooped up a CD from the table and started to remove the shrink wrap.
Tara and Spike stared at each other in mutual amazement. They simultaneously reached out for each other and held hands. “Well, that went better than I thought,” Spike said. “Half expected to get staked on the spot. ‘Course, he’ll probably stake me when he comes out of this. He must have been knocking back the booze all the time we were out.”
“I don’t smell any drink,” Tara frowned.
The door swung open behind them. “Hey, guys,” Buffy greeted. “I saw you outside but you went in before I could catch you. You weren’t, well, kissing on the porch, were you?” She saw their hands. “Oops, guess you were. Better not let Giles catch you holding – Giles? What the hell?”
“Ah, Buffy, my dear.” Giles pressed Play. “Prepare to be amazed by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.”
People try to take my soul away
But I don’t hear the rap that they all say …
* * * * * *
“So, I thought Anya might maybe want to come round and have a girly night with Buffy and me. Only, we don’t know where she lives, so I had to come round here. Is she coming over soon?” Willow smiled winningly.
“Great that you’re making an effort to be friendly with Anya, Will, but we’ve already kinda got plans for tonight,” Xander replied. “If we’d had a little more notice, maybe. She should be here in fifteen, twenty minutes or so. Stick around and ask her about some other time, tomorrow or whatever.”
“I thought tonight,” Willow pouted. “Buffy’s going to get Tara, and we thought maybe you and Spike could go and play pool and talk about football or something at the Bronze, have some guy time, you know?”
“It might have escaped your notice, but I pretty much hate Spike,” Xander pointed out. “I’m just not staking him because he’s got that gizmo in his brain and he’s harmless right now. And ‘cause Tara would bust my jaw if I did it. Anyway, when he talks about football he means soccer. And I’ve already got plans.”
“Like you’re going to be doing anything but boink,” Willow sniffed. “You could do that after. I’m making an effort here, trying to make nice with Anya, and you’re not giving me the chance.”
“Come on, Will, you can have the chance, sure, and I appreciate the thought. Just saying, you ask Anya out of the blue if she’d rather go watch movies with you or get down and jiggy with me, well, don’t blame me if she turns you down.”
Willow frowned. She wasn’t unhappy at the prospect of Anya declining to join them for their girly night, but she had expected Xander to be in favour of the idea, so that when Anya turned her down Willow could be the one whose generous gesture had been thrown back in her face. Xander opposing the invitation was an eventuality she hadn’t expected. “But you’re for it, right?”
“No, not really. See, I’m looking forward to Anya coming, having some alone time with her. Been thinking about it most of the day. Why don’t you make it another night, so I know in advance?”
“I want it to be tonight. I’m all depresso girl here, and the night out didn’t work. I just wanna have a pleasant time for once. It’s not fair.”
“Look, okay you’re upset about what happened with Oz, and you want some company, yeah, but you can’t expect everybody else to just drop everything and come running,” Xander told her, beginning to get annoyed. “We’ve already got plans, and, okay, if it was a big emergency sure we’d be there for you, but it’s not. You’ve got Buffy, you’ve probably got Tara, you don’t need Anya. And if getting Tara leaves Spike stuck with Giles well hey, see me not caring.”
“You’re being selfish,” Willow accused.
Xander’s mouth dropped open at the unfairness of this accusation. “I’m being selfish? Well, hello, just who is the one asking who to drop everything at a second’s notice for no big reason? Me and Anya have our night planned. TV and smoochies. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. You want to fix something up for a few nights’ time, fine. I’ll even go and play pool with Spike if I have to. But not tonight, Josephine.”
“Huh. You are being selfish. Well, suit yourself.” Willow turned her back on him, stuck her nose up in the air, and headed for the stairs out of his basement. “You don’t care about friends. All you’re interested in is sex. You’re just a – a – Casanova!” The blue spark flickered in her eyes once more as she stormed out.
Behind her Xander adjusted his lace cuffs, straightened his wig, and raised a scented kerchief to his nose. “Ahh, L'amore è il mio piacere,” he murmured. “What is this place? A monk’s cell? I see a shabby bed, grubby clothes, and no beautiful ladies. I shall seek out the fair maidens of Sunnydale and give them the pleasure that only the skills of I, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, can deliver.” He tucked the kerchief in his sleeve, checked that his sword was hanging conveniently for his hand, and made for the stairs.
* * * * * *
“I brought over those things Willow printed out for you,” Buffy told Giles, trying to ignore his strange appearance and behaviour.
“Oh, chuck them anywhere, they’re not important,” Giles replied. “And they try to tell us that we don’t belong, but that’s alright, we’re millions strong. You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud!”
“This is insane,” Buffy said to Tara. “My wig-o-meter just exploded. There’s got to be some sort of spell making him act like this.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Tara agreed. “What do you think, sweetie?”
“I think working out where we’re getting married is going to be a bit of a bugger,” Spike replied. “I mean, a church wedding’s right out, for a start. Dunno if what ID stuff I’ve managed to salvage will hold up well enough for a civil ceremony. We could go to Vegas, I suppose, but I’m not keen on getting married by an Elvis impersonator. And you’ll want your friends there, I reckon, so here would be best. What about your family?”
“Dad will go nuts. Donny would be after you with his shotgun. They’re not what you might call demon friendly.” Tara stuck her lip out. “Guess we’d better have it here, let them know afterwards. Cousin Beth would expect to be a bridesmaid, but best not. Buffy, how about you?”
“I was wrong about my wig-o-meter. There was another notch left after all. Married? You’re marrying Spike? Talk about crazy nights.”
‘These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights,’ Giles sang along with Kiss. “That’s the spirit, Buffy. Rock on!”
“This is like that Band Candy thing that Ethan Rayne did,” Buffy remembered. She had completely forgotten about Willow’s apparently casual remark that Spike and Tara should get married. “That’s it! It’s a spell. Ethan Rayne must be in town. He’s done a spell to make Giles act like this. And make you two decide to get married, although I can’t see what’s in that for him. Maybe you got hit by something he was aiming at Giles.”
“This isn’t any spell,” Tara said firmly, giving Spike’s arm a fond squeeze. “I fell in love with Spike the second I bumped into him and he started picking up my books.
“Yeah, and I fell for Mighty Mouse when she fought those soldier boys for me,” Spike told Buffy. “It just struck me to propose when we were going through Harm’s old lair, and I thought what a nice place it would make for a couple to set up house. It’s even got a shower, and electricity, the works. Didn’t need any sodding spell.”
Buffy’s brow furrowed. She sucked in her bottom lip and chewed it briefly. Spike definitely was fond of Tara, she had indeed been fascinated by the vampire since their first encounter, and so this wasn’t entirely out of the blue; maybe it wasn’t anything to do with a spell after all. Giles’ almost total lack of reaction to the engagement was dramatically out of character, however, and Ethan Rayne was her prime suspect. “Okay, I’ll give you that. I’m pretty much in a glass house here, there’ll be no throwing of stones by the Buffy, if you want me to be a bridesmaid I suppose I gotta say yes. But we’ve got to get Giles fixed first. Ethan Rayne must be in town somewhere.”
“He’s that bloke who turned all the kids into monsters, and turned you into Miss Simpering Nitwit 1748, right?” Spike asked. “Never actually saw the tosser, but it seems like his style, give you that. What do you want us to do?”
“You’re going to help?” Buffy asked, surprised.
“Well, yeah. Could use Giles’ help getting sorted with some papers to show the Registrar or whatever you call the bloke here, Justice of the Peace or whatever. Plus, I’m getting sodding tortured here. This is mild. Should have heard it when he was playing the bleeding Bay City Rollers, Slayer. Bloody nightmare, that was.”
“Ah, yes, the Rollers,” Giles called. “I have one of their Compact Discs too. ‘Bye bye baby, baby bye bye …’ I’ll put it on in a moment.”
Spike shuddered. “Definitely a bleeding spell. Cruel and inhuman punishment, that’s what it sodding well is. Let’s get out of here and find this Rayne geezer. Pity he probably counts as human so I can’t rip the wanker’s throat out.”
* * * * * *
Willow bumped into Anya not far from Xander’s house. “Hiya,” she greeted. “I was just looking for you. Me and Buffy are having a girly night with ice cream and movies, and I thought you might like to join us.”
Anya beamed. “That is a pleasant thought. As long as I don’t have to pay for ice cream or movie rental. When’s it to be? I would suggest a night when I am menstruating and unable to fully participate in sexual intercourse with Xander.” She began calculating days.
“I sorta meant tonight,” Willow explained. “I was feeling a bit down after the whole beer thing, you know?”
“Oh, yes, and after your unsuccessful attempt to persuade Spike to copulate with you. I understand, you must be feeling inadequate, but I’m on my way to copulate with Xander. He gives me lots of highly satisfactory orgasms.” She gave Willow a smug, pitying, smile.
“Well, forgive me for daring to exist,” Willow huffed. “Sorry for troubling you.” She strode past Anya and walked away quickly. “You are so, so, catty!” Willow called over her shoulder as she walked. “Catty, catty, catty. You – you are Catwoman!”
Anya stretched sensually. “Rrrroww,” she murmured throatily, running her hands over her glossy PVC costume. “I am Catwoman. Hear me roar. Mee-oww.” She tucked her whip into her belt, turned aside from the path, and leaped into the branches of a small tree.
* * * * * *
“Shame you can’t drive, Slayer,” Spike said to Buffy. “Then me and Tara could sit in the back and get some snogging in while we’re on the way.”
“Well, I can’t, so you’ll have to deal,” Buffy replied, with a roll of her eyes. “Shut up and drive.”
Buffy thought hard. “The Magick Shop,” she decided. “He won’t be there now, but he might have got supplies there, we could maybe get a lead on him. You know where it is?”
“Yeah, sure, I called in there for a spell just before I kidnapped Red and Harris,” Spike informed her. “Ate the shopkeeper. Is it still in the same place?”
Tara flinched at the reminder of Spike’s savage past and his obvious lack of guilt. “You w-w-wouldn’t do anything like that any more, w-would you?”
“Can’t. Microchip thingy,” Spike pointed out. “But I promise I won’t do anything to upset you, even if I can get it taken out. If that means getting by on sodding animal blood, then so be it. Worth it to have you.” He leaned towards her, and she met him half way. Their lips met and in seconds they were in a passionate clinch.
“Oh, come on,” Buffy moaned, rolling her eyes again. “Get with the program, people. We’re supposed to be looking for Ethan Rayne, not parking to make out. You can do that later.”
“Okay, Slayer, keep your knickers on,” Spike grumbled. “Buffy, that is. Your knickers can come off any time you like, Mighty Mouse.”
“Not in front of Buffy, sweetie,” Tara told him, blushing. “And not in a car. I want my first time to be in a bed.”
“Your first time? You a virgin, love? I’m going to be the first one to sample your sweetness? Make that only one.”
“Will you shut up and start the car already?” Buffy almost growled. “God, it’s as bad as being with Xander and Anya, or Nymphomaniac Willow with her new ‘minge’ obsession. Hey! Wait. Hang on just a minute.”
“What now, Slayer?” Spike tilted his head and raised his eyebrows. “Changed your mind about where to look?”
“Shush. Wait.” Buffy bit on her lip. “Willow. Minge. ‘I bet he’d be up her mousy minge. Those two should just get married.’ She said something about doing a spell to have her will done. She thought it didn’t work. Maybe it did.”
* * * * * *
“So she gets orgasms and not me,” Willow muttered to herself as she walked back to the dorms. “I could so have had orgasms if Spike hadn’t been such a wuss. Aren’t I worth a little risk? He’s a jerk. Stupid vampire.” Her annoyance grew into renewed anger at the previous day’s slights. “He so should have a mob after him. With pitchforks and flaming torches and a police chief with a mechanical arm, like in ‘Young Frankenstein’. That’d teach him. And Anya. She should get chased by a mob as well, ‘cause hey, ex demon, and she doesn’t do the ‘ex’ part very well.” There was no one around to notice the flash of blue light from her eyes.
* * * * * *
“What the fuck?” Spike exclaimed. A crowd filled the road ahead. A solid wall of people, brandishing flaming torches and various pointed agricultural implements. The vampire applied the brakes and brought the car to a halt. He wound down the window and stuck out his head. “Here! What are you blokes playing at? Some of us want to use the bleeding road, pillocks!”
“There he is! It is der Vampir, the monster. Schnell, meine Freunde!” a figure shouted from the midst of the mob. “Take him! Beat him to within an inch of his life and throw him in the cells.” The helmeted man pointed at the car, his eyes rolling wildly, and then struggled to lower his hand. It seemed to have a life of its own and resisted his efforts.
“Rhubarb! Rhubarb!” the crowd chanted, waving their weapons and torches threateningly.
“Bugger this for a game of soldiers,” Spike muttered. He threw the car into reverse, gunned the engine, took off the brake and shot backwards. He spun the wheel and applied the handbrake, whipping the car around in a screeching turn, and began to accelerate away, only to find himself faced with another mob approaching from the opposite direction. A black-clad figure raced ahead of them, dodging occasional missiles thrown in its direction from out of the crowd. “I’ll have to ram the bastards,” Spike growled. “Brace for impact – oww! Bleeding hell!” The microchip activated, sending blinding pain through his head, and he stamped on the brakes. “Bugger it! Can’t even run people over,” Spike moaned. “We’re screwed.”
The fleeing person drew close, and leaped on to the top of the car, crouched, and hissed and spat at the mob. “That’s Anya!” Buffy exclaimed incredulously. “What on Earth is going on?”
“Poor sweetie,” Tara fussed, taking Spike’s head in her hands. “It must be terrible for you.”
“Bloody right it is, love,” he agreed, “but you’re making it feel better.” He leaned towards her, lips puckered.
“Enough with the kissage!” Buffy snapped. “Let’s get out of here before we’re tarred and feathered.”
At the side of the road a new figure came into view, a man in a velvet coat and powdered wig. “A beautiful lady in peril!” he exclaimed. “I must save her. She will reward me with her favours. Bella donna, this way! Follow me, rapidamente!”
Anya jumped from the roof of the car and made for the man. “Good thinking,” Buffy agreed. “Let’s do the same.” She threw open the car door and exited rapidly, followed quickly by Tara and Spike. They ran from the road and joined Anya, soon reaching the bewigged newcomer. Buffy stopped dead as she recognised him. “Xander? What happened to you?”
“Yet another signora bella,” Xander smiled. “The fates are kind to me. I am Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, signorina, the greatest lover in all Italy. Once we are away from the folla dei contadini, the rude peasantry, I shall delight in revealing to you how I won that renown. For now, come this way.”
* * * * * *
Willow put her hand on the door handle and opened it cautiously, eyes on the ground in case Amy tried to escape the room. “Don’t come out, Amy,” she ordered, stepping inside and closing the door quickly behind her. There was no sign of the rat and she raised her eyes, to find herself staring at a tall blue demon in rich brocade robes. “Meep!” she squealed. Before she could do anything constructive about defending herself he seized her by the head and pulled her through a dimensional portal.
* * * * * *
“Your clothing is most unusual, signorina, but it reveals the curves of your body in a way that is most enticing. I am eager to strip it away so that my mouth can explore your breasts, the swell of your belly, the sweet cleft between your shapely legs.”
“Mmm, promises,” Anya purred. “Who is the man behind the wig?”
“No Willow,” Buffy mused. “Watch the door. Amy the rat’s out of her cage, I don’t want her escaping and getting loose in the dorms. We’d have another mob to deal with then, panicky co-eds.”
“No rat here, Slayer,” Spike informed her. “There was, yeah, but the scent is old.”
“Oh no, that’s all we needed,” Buffy moaned. “Amy lost. No sign of Willow. What’s this?” She pointed at the floor, where the carpet was scorched in a perfect circle several feet across.
“D’Hoffryn,” Anya declared, staring at the circle. “He’s opened a portal here.”
“Who?” Tara asked.
“D’Hoffryn. He made me into a demon, eleven hundred and twenty years ago. Long before I was a secretary mysteriously raised from the dead by radioactive cats.”
“Why would he attack Willow?” Buffy wondered.
“I think it’s more that he has a job vacancy now that I’m a – rrrowwl – supervillain,” Anya purred. “He’s probably offering her my old position.”
“And what position do you prefer now, caro mio?” Xander asked, putting his hands on her hips from behind.
Anya arched her back and thrust her buttocks against his groin. “Pussy style,” she smirked.
Buffy raised her eyes to the heavens despairingly. She turned to Tara and Spike. They were sitting on her bed, arms around each other, mouths locked together. “Everybody just stop with the sex!” Buffy yelled. “You’re driving me nuts.”
“This way, meine Freunde,” a voice yelled in the distance. “This is the trail of der Vampir and der Katzenfrau. Follow me!”
“Oh, this so sucks. Out the back way,” Buffy commanded. “Run for it, everybody.”
* * * * * *
“Please allow me to introduce myself,” the robed demon said to Willow. He had transported her to an open space lit by one single light beam that illuminated their immediate vicinity but left the rest of the surroundings in ominous darkness. “I am D’Hoffryn, Lord of Arashma’har. I have a vacancy on my staff and I feel you would be ideally suited for the position.”
“Your staff?” Willow asked, perplexed. “I mean, I’m human and everything. I don’t think I’d fit in.”
“Oh, the humanity is a trivial detail, easily fixed,” D’Hoffryn assured her. “I rule over the Vengeance Demons, and we grant the vengeance wishes of mortals to bring them torment for the amusement of the denizens of the lower planes. Think of us as being in the entertainment industry. Your recent exploits are truly inspirational. The pain and suffering that you have brought upon those you love has been truly delightful to us. I haven’t seen a more amusing set of wishes since the destruction of Pompeii.”
“Pain? Suffering? I’ve hurt my friends?” Willow queried, bewildered. “I never meant to hurt anyone.”
“Observe!” the demon lord boomed, swirling his hand in a mystical gesture. A glowing circle formed in the air, and a picture appeared within the ring.
Willow stared at it in amazement. It took several seconds before she recognised the man in the vision as Giles. His identity was obscured by the heavy facial make-up in black and white. He was sitting down, clad only in T-shirt, boxer shorts, and scarf at his waist, laboriously sewing strips of tartan cloth to the legs of his pants. His lack of skill with a needle was made obvious by the numerous pricks to his fingers that he was inflicting on himself in the process. Music was playing, or at least something that could be called music by stretching the definition somewhat. ‘All of me loves all of you, And ev’ry little thing you do …’
The scene changed, and Willow saw a face that she hadn’t seen for nearly a year. Amy Madison. She was sitting on a plain wooden chair in front of an equally plain table, and she was clad in drab grey overalls. She was facing a tall man in a lightweight suit and a stocky policewoman of Polynesian appearance. “For the hundredth time, I’ve no idea how I got here,” Amy was saying wearily. “I don’t know where my clothes are. The last thing I remember I was in California. I didn’t even know I was in Honolulu until you told me.” Her head sagged. “God, Steve McGarrett always looked so friendly. What’s with you guys?”
“Amy!” Willow exclaimed. “She’s not a rat! Okay, looks like she’s in jail, but got to be better than a rat cage. Not seeing the pain and – oh.”
The scene had changed again. Now the circle showed a cemetery in Sunnydale. Buffy and the others were fleeing across the grass, hotly pursued by a howling mob that was spreading out to encircle the Scoobies. A PVC-clad Anya balanced atop a gravestone, cracking a whip to deter attackers armed with pitchforks. Xander, in velvet jacket and powdered wig, was fighting a rearguard action, wielding a sword skilfully, but was in dire danger of being overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. Spike was staggering, bleeding heavily, being helped along by a grim-faced Tara. Buffy was on the verge of escaping the encirclement but saw the plight of her friends and turned back to go to their assistance.
“Oh, God!” Willow gasped. “I never meant to do any of this.”
“Fascinating, isn’t it?” D’Hoffryn beamed. “Most ingenious. You will make a fine Vengeance Demon. You possess a rare gift of creativity that lifts you well above the normal practitioners of routine slaughter and evisceration.”
“It was just accidental,” Willow almost sobbed. “Really, I never meant to hurt anyone. You have to help them.”
“It’s not my concern,” D’Hoffryn shrugged. “You are my only interest in this matter.”
“Really, no offence intended, I mean, you’ve been super nice and everything and as demons go you’re the best, but, I don’t want to be a demon. I just want to go back and help my friends.”
“Is that your final answer?”
“It – it is.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” D’Hoffryn declaimed in ominous tones, and then he shrugged his shoulders. “Oh well,” he said cheerfully. “It was worth a try. Here is my talisman. You ever change your mind, give me a chant.” He made another mystical gesture and Willow vanished.
* * * * * *
Spike was almost weeping. The police chief had shot him twice with a Mauser pistol, and it was painful although not serious, but that wasn’t the cause of his tears. He cried with sheer frustration. Every time he tried to strike back at the attackers the pain in his head stopped him in his tracks. He was helpless. Tara was fighting valiantly, but she was handicapped by her desire not to cause permanent harm and was being driven back. Buffy was labouring under the same disadvantage. Anya was cheerfully laying about her with the whip, not caring in the least how much damage she was causing, but the whip inflicted only pain and was only a temporary deterrent. Xander seemed to have no compunction about wounding with his sword, and was stabbing at arms and shoulders, but was refraining from going for the kill. The superior reach of the pitchforks was causing him problems, but he was holding his own.
All of a sudden the balance tipped. The police chief made for Xander, eyes staring madly, and caught the blade of the sword with his mechanical hand. He wrenched hard and the blade snapped off short. “Madre del Dio!” Xander gasped, jumping backwards and drawing a dagger. The mob seized their opportunity and swarmed towards him, now with an overwhelming advantage in reach, and he was soon hard pressed. Anya leaped to his aid, whip flailing furiously, and they stood back to back against the oncoming horde.
Tara was set upon by three opponents at once. She caught one pitchfork, used it as a pivot, and delivered a swinging kick that knocked the second opponent from his feet; but for an instant her back was wide open to the third, and he thrust the vicious tines of his pitchfork straight at her kidneys.
Spike intervened the only way he could; he interposed himself between the deadly spikes and Tara’s body. The prongs drove deep into his chest and dropped him to his knees with the pain. Tara twisted hard at the fork in her grasp, threw her opponent, and turned just in time to see Spike impaled. She twirled the pitchfork she held and struck with the butt, felling the man who had stabbed Spike, and then stood astride him at bay, whirling the fork like a quarterstaff. “Keep away from my man!” she yelled. The crowd drew back from her fury. She tossed down the pitchfork and knelt beside Spike. “You took that for me, my love,” she said softly, tears coming to her eyes, and pulled the weapon from his wound. “Oh, Spike, sweetie, you’re hurt.”
One of the mob took advantage of her distraction to throw his torch at the vampire. Buffy vaulted a gravestone and kicked the flaming brand from the air before it could hit its highly inflammable target. She landed beside the couple, picked up the discarded pitchfork, and assumed a defensive position.
The police chief was laboriously fumbling a new magazine into his Mauser. Eventually he completed the task, subdued his recalcitrant mechanical arm, and approached the Scoobies. “Give us der Vampir!” he demanded.
“Forget it,” Buffy snarled, her eyes narrowed into slits. “You want him, you’re going to have to come through me.”
“As you vish,” the policeman shrugged, and raised the pistol. Buffy drew back the pitchfork to throw.
Suddenly Willow materialised among the graves. “Let the healing power begin, let my will be safe again,” she chanted hastily. “As these words of peace are spoken, let this harmful spell be broken.”
The police chief’s finger was tightening on the trigger as she spoke, but before he could fire he vanished into thin air. Buffy’s thrown pitchfork passed through the space he vacated a split second later. All around them pitchforks and torches vanished, and the mob turned into a confused mass of Sunnydale townsfolk and students who stared around in bewilderment.
Xander’s dagger, wig, and velvet jacket evaporated. He stood in sweatshirt and cargo pants alongside an Anya who now wore a conventional shirt and skirt. They lowered their hands from their combat positions and both stared at Willow.
“Uh, hi guys,” Willow said sheepishly, giving everyone a little wave.
“Willow,” Buffy said ominously, “you’ve got one whole lot of explaining to do.”
* * * * * *
“Why, oh why, did I have to use poster paints?” Giles moaned. His face was patchy with red blotches and bleeding slightly in places, and black and white flecks still showed in his eyebrows and at the edge of his hairline. “Why couldn’t I have postponed this ridiculous adornment until I had acquired face paints, by which time the spell would have been lifted? And why, of all things, the Bay City Rollers?”
“But you like the Bay City Rollers,” Buffy pointed out, frowning. “You said so.”
“I loathe and despise the Bay City Rollers!” Giles protested. “It was a joke! I was in my twenties when they were popular, and they were aimed at fourteen-year-old girls. How could you believe that of me?”
No-one replied to his question. “It is a shame the Catwoman outfit vanished when you cancelled the spell, Willow,” Anya remarked. “It seemed to have a positive effect on Xander. Now I’m going to have to purchase one.”
“Oh, yeah,” Xander grinned. “Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer had nothing on you, Anya.”
“Rrroww,” she purred, beaming with delight as she saw the immediate effect the purr had on her boyfriend. “How much of being Casanova do you remember, Xander?”
“Quite a lot, caro mio,” he smirked. “I’ll show you later.”
“So, all’s well that ends well?” Willow said hopefully. “I mean, everybody’s back to normal. Amy’s even not a rat any more, although I think she’s in jail in Hawaii for public nudity, but beats being a rat, right? And no real harm done. Well, except to Spike, but he’ll heal.”
Spike lowered the ‘Kiss the Librarian’ mug from which he was drinking warm blood and glared at her. He was deathly pale, even more so than usual, and still weak. “It bloody hurt, you daft bint,” he told her. “Not your biggest fan at the moment, and that’s the truth.” He set the mug down on the table. “Still, one good thing came out of it. Slayer – Buffy – thanks for the sticking up for me bit. You weren’t under the bleeding spell, so I know it counts. Means a lot. You risked a bullet for me, and I owe you one. You’re off the biting list for good, pet, and if you want me to join your band of merry men you can have me.” He extended his hand.
Buffy hesitated for only a second before taking it and shaking. “Thanks, Spike. You got yourself stabbed for Tara, and I don’t think that was just because of the spell. I’d rather be fighting with you than against you. Okay?”
“Okay, Slayer. I’m on the team. For puppies and Christmas and all that rot.”
“Welcome aboard,” Xander added, coming forwards and also shaking Spike’s hand. “Still not feeling the warm fuzzies for you, but I’m okay with the no staking bit, and, yeah, when it comes to fighting demons I suppose we couldn’t really do much better.”
“Ta, Mr Greatest Lover in all Italy,” Spike smirked. Xander released his hand and rejoined Anya, blushing slightly.
Tara was hanging back, looking ill at ease. When a moment of silence fell she spoke up. “W-w-w-what about the w-w-wedding?” she asked. “Is it still on?”
“What do you think, pet? It was the spell. Not going to hold you to it.”
“It w-w-wasn’t the spell,” she stammered. “N-not for me.” Everyone stared at her, and she went crimson.
“Oh, bloody hell,” Spike sighed. “Look, pet, I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t think you’re a smashing bird, but I don’t think of you like that. Best mate, that’s all. You’re my friend Mighty Mouse. Sorry.”
Tears sprang to Tara’s eyes. “Somebody did get hurt,” she accused Willow. “Me. I thought I w-was going to marry the man I loved and you took it away from me.”
“Sorry,” Willow said hesitantly, her eyes wide and sad. “I never meant to hurt you. Least of all.”
“I suppose I’ll just have to try to get myself a real boyfriend,” Tara moaned.
Spike came to his feet. “Don’t you bloody dare! Any other bloke even touches you, I’ll rip his sodding bollocks off and stuff them up his nose, gizmo in my head or no. You’re mine! You’re …” he halted, a sheepish look coming to his face. “Bleeding hell,” he said wonderingly, looking at Tara, across whose face a broad smile was beginning to creep. “I’m caught, ain’t I?” He shook his head. “We’ll set the wedding for after you finish College, love. That okay?”
Tara flew to him and hugged him tightly. He winced slightly, but ignored the pain and hugged her in return.
Giles took off his glasses and began to polish the lenses. “Dear Lord,” he sighed. “What have I done to deserve this?”
* * * * * *
Willow opened her spell component trunk and deposited D’Hoffryn’s talisman inside. “He was a pretty impressive demon,” she mused. “Nice voice. Good manners. Well dressed. Hmm. Wonder if he dates humans?”
* * * * * *
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.