Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

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Angel of the Morning Part 7

The stressful week at work pretty much ruled out any work on “Savage Beauty” or “Sunnydale Passions” recently, but here’s an update to my Spike/Willow fic “Angel of the Morning”. It started off with Willow finding Spike in the alley after the “Dead Things” beating, and things have developed from there. By now we’ve gone past “Hell’s Bells” – the bells weren’t so hellish in this AU – and we’re up to “Normal Again.” There is a lot of conversation in this chapter, more than I would have liked, but the characters just wouldn’t shut up. 7,200 words.

Previous parts here:
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six

Angel of the Morning

Part Seven

I spent a big chunk of the next day being avoidy girl. One thing I really wanted not to do was any talking to Buffy. Well, part of me really did want to talk to Buffy, I had lots of girl talk I wanted to do, but Buffy was so not the right person. Then again, neither was Tara. She was pretty okay about me being with Spike, but I was pretty sure that me telling her about how wonderful going to bed with Spike had been would be pushing her being okay about it way past the limits. There wasn’t really anybody I could talk to that way, when I thought about it. Well, maybe Anya. We’d never been that close, but I bet she’d still listen and, hey, maybe it would be the first time she’d really be interested in what I had to say, except she wasn’t here. Off getting orgasms of her own. We could compare notes when she got back, although hearing her talk about that sort of thing with Xander involvement would be a bit icky for me, but I’d deal. When I went back to class I could talk to Jenna, she was getting to be pretty much that sort of friend these days, but for today I’d just have to keep my mouth shut.

I had a problem understanding Buffy. I mean, we’d always talked about that sort of thing. She’d told me about her time with Angel, except that had been pretty much major league badness and I was a shoulder to cry on, and she’d told me about Parker, that poop-head, and she’d shared things about Riley, but she’d never said a thing about doing it with Spike and it seemed weird because, hey, I was kinda wanting to, I don’t know, shout it from the rooftops or something. I just couldn’t see how Buffy had managed to keep her thing with Spike to herself.

Only then I thought about it a bit more. Sure, I’d done the girl talk thing about Oz, but when I started seeing Tara that way I'd kept it a secret. I didn’t even want the other Scoobies to meet Tara for a while. I’d tried to pretend that it was because I wanted to keep her all to myself, but if I looked back at it honestly really it was ‘cause I’d been scared that the others would be all shocked that I was sleeping with a girl, and that they’d be all disapproving, and I hadn’t wanted to face up to it.

So, Buffy must have been pretty much in the same boat, and maybe with more excuse. Sure, I’d have dealt, but I guess Buffy hadn’t known that, and Xander wouldn’t have dealt. She’d have faced what I’d faced, only worse, ‘cause when it happened to me all I’d done so far had been gone to the movies with Spike and if there had been boinkage at that stage Xander would have gone totally ballistic. He still might, I just hoped that me phasing it in gradually would have sorta acclimatized him to the idea, and no way was I going to say to him ‘hey, Xander, guess what? Spike boinked my brains out’, ‘cause there would definitely be explosions of the Xander kind. Maybe I’d better not say anything to Anya, otherwise there’d be ‘Xander, why don’t you run your tongue round the inside of my navel the way Spike does with Willow?’ at some really inappropriate time, and Xander wouldn’t be able to deal just by sticking his fingers in his ears.

With all those thoughts floating around in my head I guess I was acting a little weird. I know I was smiling pretty much all the time, and I think I might have been walking a little funny ‘cause I was just a touch tender, and I kept breaking into little bursts of laughter. Anyway, I was trying to stay clear of Buffy, but not of Dawn, and she’s not dumb. She noticed something was up with me, and she guessed what it was, and I had to do a little balancing act, ‘cause, no way was I going to say straight out to Dawnie what I’d been doing with Spike, but I didn’t want to treat her like she was a little kid either. I seemed to get it about right, satisfied her curiosity without actually revealing TMI, so yay me.

Really Dawnie and I were pretty close these days. I’d screwed things up with her big time when I was all obsessed with the magic, but spending time with her and Spike had fixed it and hey, it was almost like I was more of a sister to her than Buffy was right now. That wasn’t right, really, but I couldn’t do anything about Buffy’s attitude and I wasn’t going to act more distant to Dawn just so as to be less like a sister. Anyway, when Dawn had gotten tired of teasing me about Spike, she turned kinda serious.

Buffy was at work, she had time to make up ‘cause of when she skipped out to join Riley chasing demons and she still hadn’t done anything about finding another job, and Dawnie went quiet for a while and then said “Willow, if I told you something and I asked you not to tell Buffy, would you?”

Well, I had to think about that for a minute, ‘cause she sounded as if it was something serious not just the usual Dawn stuff, but really there was only one possible answer. “I’d keep your secret, sure, Dawnie, unless it was like life-threatening or something. But really, if there’s something worrying you then you should tell your sister. Is it something at school?” I suddenly had this horrible feeling that maybe Dawn might have gone too far with that boy at the wedding, or maybe with some boy at school, but that feeling didn’t last long ‘cause the way she’d been teasing me about things with Spike had had a whole different vibe to if she’d been doing things as well. “Have you been cutting classes again? I can maybe help you catch up, but, Dawnie, Buffy’s bound to find out.”

Dawn fidgeted, and swallowed, and fidgeted some more, and then burst out “I’ve been stealing stuff. From shops. And from the Magic Box. And I have this whole box of stuff I don’t even want and I’m scared of what’ll happen if anyone finds out and I don’t even know why I took the stuff.”

“Oh.” Not going to win any prizes for most articulate response but I couldn’t really think of anything else to say for a minute. Dawn had sorta burned herself out with that confession and we just sat pretty much in silence for a minute, and then I got my thoughts together enough to say something coherent.

“I’m glad you’ve owned up, Dawn. I think you really oughta tell Buffy, but hey, if you don’t want to, I can understand. Guess that explains how come you were wearing that singing demon guy’s talisman, huh? Well, I have to say it was wrong of you to steal the stuff, but I know you know that, and I guess you won’t be doing it again, so we’ll deal.” I knew from class that teenage shoplifting was a cry for attention, well when it wasn’t just stealing to have neat stuff without having to pay for it that is, but coming up with it for real was a whole different ball-game and I was really wigged. I mean, this was sorta common-sense and mom-type stuff and hey, that’s not me, that’s Tara. Only, letting Dawn see that I was wigged probably wasn’t the best idea, so I concentrated on being mature and calm and even sensible, trying to think of what Tara would say.

“Um, maybe the right thing’s not the best thing to do this time,” I went on. “I mean, owning all the way up and taking the things back to the shops is the right thing, but then there’d be all things with Social Services and they’d get on to Buffy, and so letting that side of things lie would be for the good. The Magic Box stuff, well, I know, I’ll take that to Giles, I’m meeting him there ‘cause he has a key and it’s private, and I can tell him I took the stuff while I was all whacked out on the spacey magic crack. I have so much crawling to do to him anyway, what with the mind-wipe and the magic crack and hey, I even threatened him one time and that was like a whole world of wrongness, and I’m boink – dating a vampire, and hey, saying I was too spaced out to remember to pay for stuff really is pretty much a drop in the ocean.”

Dawn’s eyes were big and sad, but she stuck out her chin and said “I won’t let you take the blame for me, Willow. I’ll own up to Giles myself. I’ll take the stuff over to the Magic Box and come clean to him.”

I reached out and took her hand and gave it a little squeeze. “I’m proud of you, Dawnie.” Sure, I’d have taken the heat with Giles for her, but I’d hoped she’d take it for herself, and she had. Yay Dawn. Maybe I rated a yay for inspiring her? I didn’t know, but yay both of us anyway.

So we talked a little more about damage limitation, and what we were going to do, and when we had it all worked out Dawnie wiped her eyes and sat back in her chair. “So,” she said, and she summoned up a little smile. “You’re boinking Spike?”

“Uh, yeah,” I admitted. I hadn’t said so straight out, but she must have caught my near slip.

“So, spill,” she urged.

“Dawnie!” I protested. “You’re fifteen. So not going to go into detail. I’ll tell you about it after you’ve graduated. From college.”

- - - - -

Dawn went with me to the Magic Box, a bit early for my meeting with Giles, but he was already there and we were able to get the Dawnie side of things done with before Spike turned up, which worked out pretty well. He was pretty cool about the way I’d handled Dawn too, reckoned we’d both done the right thing, and I had a little ‘go me!’ moment although I didn’t say anything out loud.

“I must say I’m rather pleased by the way you have handled things with Dawn,” Giles said to me, once Dawnie had headed out. “In the past you all have had a tendency to make it my responsibility to deal with such matters, and to tell the truth it was getting to be something of a strain. Really you are all adults these days, and should be fully capable of managing your lives. I’m a single man with no children, I’ve no training or experience in such things, yet I’ve felt that you – not you specifically, Willow, all of you – have expected me to fill a parental role for which I am not well suited.” Spike entered at that point, through the store-room door that Giles had unlocked so that Spike could come through the tunnels and not have to deal with sunlight and blankets and such, and he came to join me. “Spike,” Giles greeted him with a nod, and then he continued with his speech to me. “Really I’m entirely fallible. I’m not Dumbledore, and nor am I Gandalf.”

“Oh, wouldn’t say that, Rupert,” Spike put in. “Beyond all hope you return to us in our need, innit?”

Giles reached for glasses that weren’t there any more. “Need? I wasn’t aware that there was any really major problem that might require my assistance. Is there one?”

“You tell me,” Spike replied. “Just, you said you wouldn’t have come just for the wedding if it hadn’t been for another matter arising. So, that tends to make me think apocalypse, know what I mean? Bloody pleased if there isn’t one.”

Giles laughed. “Sorry if I worried you, Spike.” Spike’s eyebrows twitched upwards, I think ‘cause he was thrown at getting a ‘sorry’ from Giles. “I’m not here for any vital reason. I simply decided that there were enough reasons to come that they tipped the balance towards flying over to attend Xander and Anya’s wedding. Admittedly a couple of those reasons do concern fairly serious matters, but I don’t regard them as urgent, and we can discuss them later. I’d like to start off by talking about the two of you, if you don’t mind.” He half raised his fingers to his non-existent glasses again, and smiled. “Somehow you both look as if you’re here for a job interview. Relax. I don’t bite, I assure you.” There was a twinkle in his eye as he said that, looking mainly at Spike, and I was able to give him a little answering smile.

“Yeah, my job, innit?” Spike said. He grinned at Giles, but he was standing all stiff and rigid and I think he was still pretty nervous. So was I.

“Oh, do relax, you two,” Giles urged us again. “Sit down, Spike. Have a cup of tea. That is, if Anya hasn’t got rid of the little supply that I used to keep here.”

“Uh, ta, mate,” Spike said. His eyes were pretty wide in a sort of deer-in-the-headlights way. “That’d go down a treat.”

“Coffee perhaps for you, Willow? It will be instant, I’m afraid.”

“Please,” I said.

Giles bustled off to the back of the shop and Spike looked at me. “Not used to the Watcher treating me nice,” he said. “Can’t help wondering when the hammer’s gonna fall.”

“Hey, I know you used to watch soaps together the summer after the Initiative broke up,” I said. “I bet he was all big with the making tea then.”

“’S not the same,” Spike said, and sucked in his lips. “We both had sod all else to do, that was all. We weren’t mates or anything. Made that bloody clear later, didn’t he?”

“Well, I bet it wasn’t all his fault, Mister ‘I’m evil and don’t you forget it’,” I reminded him.

“Got a point there, I suppose,” Spike conceded. “I’ll try and play nicer myself, love. Not that hard when Rupes is acting like this. Still wondering when he’s going to chop my bollocks off, though.”

There wasn’t any removal of important body parts. There was tea and coffee, and civilized conversation like we were all grown-ups, and hey, I know we really were all grown-ups, but it was a big mental jump for me to really feel that way in front of Giles. There was apologizing all round, and a whole lot of it was from me to Giles, but he didn’t let me get all of it out, he said I was embarrassing him and he forgave me totally and he was really proud of me for how I’d turned my life around, so yay me. There was apologizing from Giles to Spike, and Spike was pretty wigged out by that, and somehow Spike was acting all English gentleman and it was like he and Giles were competing as to who could be the politest, and that wigged me out a little too.

“What really made a deep impression on me,” Giles told Spike, “was the way you acted during the time when Willow’s spell removed all our memories.”

“Sorry,” I repeated, even though I’d already apologized for that.

“What, the Randy Giles act?”

“But it wasn’t an act, Spike. That’s the whole point. You lost all your personal memories, and on the basis of the situation and the surroundings you came to the conclusion that you were my son. You acted that way too.”

“Well, yeah, suppose I did. Your point is?”

“According to all the accepted knowledge of the Watchers’ Council you should have awoken in your fanged demonic visage. We would have expected you to be a ravening beast, virtually mindless, capable of nothing but slaughter. Yet you woke in human form, and although you were sarcastic and mildly annoying I felt that there were, ah, affectionate undertones. Probably very much like an actual father and son relationship would be at our ages, well apparent age in your case, and circumstances.”

“’Specially if the dad was enough of a git to name his son ‘Randy’,” Spike nodded.

“Ah, quite. Be that as it may, it did shake some of my belief systems somewhat. After Willow’s communications with me in which she revealed your relationship, and your wise decision to consult with her before accepting the commission to store the demon eggs, I was intrigued enough to look into a side issue whilst engaged in the research into the eggs’ species. I discovered that vampires have indeed been victims of similar memory-blanking spells in the past and in all recorded instances the results have been according to theory. They became raging demons, inarticulate, unable even to adopt human face, nothing at all like Randy Giles.” Giles smiled. “Spike, you are truly exceptional. I don’t know whether you have always been different, or whether you have changed in the time since you were implanted with that device, but I must acknowledge that you are far more human than is any other vampire.”

Spike frowned for an instant, but then it changed into a grin. “Not sure that’s really a compliment, Rupert, but know you meant it as one, and I’ll take it that way.”

“You have kept in touch with the human world,” Giles went on. “Your tastes in music might be lamentable, but at least you are not stuck in a bygone era.” He cocked his head to one side, his brow wrinkled up briefly, and then he grinned back at Spike. “Actually you are stuck in a bygone era, when I think about it.”

“Here, I resent that coming from a bloke who still has ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’ in his record collection,” Spike shot back, his grin growing wider. “Bleeding Prog Rock dinosaur crap, mate. More out of date than my Ramones and Pistols and Skids, that’s for sure.”

“I will give you that one,” Giles acknowledged. “It has not withstood the test of time, alas.”

“Y’know, you’ve got one of Dru’s favorites in your little stash,” Spike went on. “King Crimson, ‘Court of the Crimson King’. ‘Bout the only record I ever knew her take to. Probably because it was so bloody weird. Used to sing along with it, she did. ‘Upon the instruments of death, the sunlight brightly gleams’ and all that.”

“Ah, quite,” Giles nodded. “I take it that you familiarized yourself with my collection whilst you were my involuntary guest?”

“Didn’t nick any, Rupes, don’t get your knickers in a twist,” Spike said.

“Oh, I don’t mind in the least,” Giles assured him. “I know you didn’t steal any, they were all present and correct when I shipped them back to England last summer.” He started to reach for his glasses but stopped himself with his hand halfway to his face. “We’re starting to get a little off track here,” he said. “Perhaps we should return to the matter in hand.”

I was glad of that ‘cause, hey, I’d been starting to get a little bored of the old music talk, but it was so good to have Giles and Spike playing nice with each other that I hadn’t liked to say anything. “Yeah, so, Spike’s no ordinary vampire,” I said. “I’d pretty much worked that out for myself.”

“Exactly. Spike, do you remember the time that I suggested to you that perhaps some higher power had played a part in your, um, being restrained by that electronic device? You were engaged in counting money at the time, if I recall correctly.”

“Yeah, course I remember. Gave you a brush-off, right enough, but it wasn’t that I wasn’t listening. Just didn’t like the idea of being a puppet for any sodding Powers, higher or otherwise. The chip might have stopped me attacking humans, Rupert, but it didn’t make me do good, didn’t make me help you lot out. Chose to do that. Okay, mainly for cash at first, but part of it was for fun. And,” he looked at me, “to pay Red back for stopping me staking myself. Harris played his part too, dunno if I’ve ever given him credit for it, but he did. Thing is, it was me made the decisions, not the chip. And, if the Powers were responsible for me getting the chip, well, my attitude was ‘sod them’.”

“Ah, I see,” Giles said. “I did you a disservice again, putting your unwillingness to listen to my case down to crass materialism or sheer recalcitrance, whereas in fact you had a valid philosophical point. Free will is indeed an important consideration. You did misunderstand me in one way, Spike. I hadn’t been thinking primarily in terms of the Powers manipulating you into being trapped and implanted with the device, but rather of them assisting with your escape.”

I didn’t really have much to contribute to this conversation, and, yeah, I was feeling a bit left out, but I figured it was pretty important if Giles and Spike were to really come to terms with each other, and that mattered quite a bit to me, and so I stayed out of it. I poured more tea out for both of them, and that was about it from me for a while.

Spike nodded to me in silent acknowledgement and frowned at Giles. “Bloody hell! Could have a point there, y’know, mate. See, I clobbered a couple of guards getting out of the place, and the chip never went off. Never did work out how come. If it had gone off then I would’ve been a goner. They’d have whipped me right back in those cells and that would have been that. Wish I hadn’t chopped you off short back then. Might have been a bit more willing to listen if I’d known what you were on about.”

“It’s all water under the bridge now,” Giles said. “I propose that we forget about it and make a fresh start.”

“Uncommon decent of you, Rupert,” Spike said. “So, you’re okay with me going out with Willow?”

“I suppose I am, yes.” Giles pursed his lips. “I gather that you did, for a while, carry on a, ah, romantic relationship with Buffy, and that it was rather, ah, not entirely, ah …”

“Was a bloody disaster, is what you mean,” Spike cut in. “Still love Buffy, y’know, not going to pretend otherwise, but we were no bloody good for each other. Had pretty much forgotten what it was like to be happy. Said once that I might be a monster but Buffy treated me like a man. Wasn’t true. Just wishful thinking. Or maybe she did at one time, but it all went pear-shaped, and I’m well out of it. Red really does treat me like a man. Not hard for me to act like one, way she makes me feel.” He reached out without looking and took hold of my hand. “Whole different vibe, what we’ve got. Damn sight more pleasant. Love you, Red.”

He ran his thumb across the palm of my hand and I got all kinds of tingly feelings. “Love you too, Spike,” I replied.

Giles raised his eyebrows a bit, but not all that much. “Yes, quite. However, fascinating as your relationship issues may be, they are not my primary concern at this time. I’m not sure why you seem to feel the need to seek my approval as if Spike were a Victorian suitor asking for my daughter’s hand in marriage, but, for what it’s worth, you have that approval, at least conditionally.”

Spike gave Giles a funny look when he said that bit about a ‘Victorian suitor’, maybe like he was embarrassed, but it had turned into a big grin before I decipher it properly. “Ta, Rupert,” he said. “Give you my word I’ll treat Willow right.”

I went over to Giles and gave him a great big hug. “Thank you, Giles,” I said.

“Oh, good grief, woman, there’s no need to thank me,” he told me in a scoldy voice, but he had a big smile on his face too. It looked like the things that had been broken between me and Giles, when I’d threatened him and everything, had gotten pretty much fixed now, and I was all big with the warm glowies.

“Spike,” Giles said in a more serious voice, once we’d finished with the hugs, “there are a couple of practical matters to which you should devote some thought.”

“What, like not being able to have kids, and her growing old and me not? Already thought about it. Not a bloody lot we can do about it, is there? Just have to take it as it comes. If it causes problems in the future, we’ll either work round them or we won’t.”

Wow. Spike had really thought about that sort of thing? Guess he really was serious about me. Okay, I’d thought about those things too. Kids, well, not like I’d been going to have kids with Tara, not the normal way, and if I wanted them later then we’d deal the same way as I would have had to deal if I’d still been in a lesbian relationship. Spike being immortal, and me not so much, well, growing up on the Hellmouth hadn’t made me all that confident about growing old anyway. If it happened then we would deal, or not. But I hadn’t known that Spike had thought at all about the future that far ahead, and it kinda had me wigged; but in a good way.

“Ah, actually I was thinking in somewhat more limited terms,” Giles said. He looked as if he’d been thrown by what Spike said too. “You have no identity papers. This hasn’t been a big issue while you were on the fringes of society, but now that you are, um, Willow’s boyfriend and are mixing with people who, ah, are not aware of the, um, unusual nature of Sunnydale society, um – where was I? Ah, yes. You need a passport or citizenship papers, a driver’s license, and so on.”

“And a Green Card,” I put in. Spike was looking pretty wigged out by what Giles had said. “Hey, Spike could get a job. A real one, with proper money.” Wigged didn’t even begin to cover Spike’s expression now.

“I’m afraid that is rather beyond my power,” Giles said.

“The Watchers’ Council could do it,” I pointed out. “Hey, when they were here pushing us around before they’d dish us the dirt on Glory, you said that they could take your Green Card off you if you didn’t co-operate with them. If they can take yours away they can rig one for Spike somehow.”

“Um, well, I’ll see what I can do,” Giles said.

“Better just do it, Rupes,” Spike said. There was a smirk back on his face. “She’s got that bloody look on her face, no use trying to resist. She’ll have me serving behind a bar somewhere before I know what’s hit me.”

Yep, I’d put on Resolve Face without even realizing it. “Not a bad idea, Spike, only don’t drink the merchandise. Well, Giles?”

“Oh, very well, I’ll certainly put the case to the Council. They will require something in return, of course, but I will put it to them that your services over the past two years do deserve some recompense.” His eyes suddenly twinkled. “There is a certain lady in Administration who seems to have been quite smitten by you on her visit, Spike. I may be able to come up with some satisfactory documentation without too much trouble.”

“Bloody hell, not that bint with glasses, whatsername, Lydia?”

“Exactly,” Giles replied. He still had a twinkle in his eyes. “She must have made something of an impression on you too, if you remember her name. Shall I inform her of that?”

“No bloody way, you git. Right nutter she was. Writing her bloody thesis on me. Huh.” I guessed that Spike was really pretty flattered by that, even though he was denying it. “Only remembered her name ‘cos of the song,” he went on, and sang a little snatch of a tune that I’d heard in one of the Marx Brothers’ films. “‘Lydia oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia, Lydia the tattooed lady’.”

I went a little giggly at that, but Giles nearly fell off his chair. “Oh, Spike,” he complained between laughs, “I’m never going to be able to keep a straight face in her presence again. I’ll be wondering what lurks beneath that prim blouse and twin-set. Ah, I mean strictly in a tattoo sense.” He became incoherent with laughter for a while. “I’ll definitely do my best to obtain documentation for you. That’s a promise. I’m sure I’ll come up with something at least to make you safe from deportation.”

“A job would be cool, but the deportation thing is the biggy,” I agreed.

“The dosh from the Initiative’ll last a fair while, Red, long as I watch my spending,” Spike said. “Be nice to be able to get stuff that’s not salvaged from the dump, though. Not sure I’m the job type, but I’ll give it a try. Long as it doesn’t mean working in a sodding burger bar like the Slayer.”

“Ah,” Giles said, sitting up straight and again reaching for nonexistent glasses. “That’s one of the reasons I made time for this visit. Buffy, working in a poor imitation of MacDonald’s. I can hardly believe it. Surely there must have been something better? She did complete one year of college, after all.”

“Uh, we’re probably back in the realms of things that are Willow’s fault,” I confessed. “See, Buffy was a bit short of money, but getting by. Only, when Tara left me, half of the rent money went with her. Maybe I should have upped what I was paying to make up for it, seeing as how it was my fault, but I was all wrapped up in myself and I never thought about it. Next thing I knew she’d panicked and rushed out and took the first job where they’d hire her.”

“Bloody place is killing her,” Spike muttered.

“Yeah, but what I don’t understand is, why hasn’t she left? We gave her the three thousand dollars, that would give her a breathing space to find something else, and she was in trouble for skipping out to help Riley, but she went back in and she’s doing extra hours to make up. I just don’t get it.”

“Beginning to think she’s got a sodding martyr complex,” Spike said. Well, yeah, maybe he had a point.

“It’s just a total waste. I mean, so maybe she’s not that big on paper qualifications, but there’s still a lot of things between fast food and needing a degree. Hey, maybe she could be a martial arts instructor?”

Giles looked up at the ceiling. “Dear Lord. Buffy as a martial arts instructor? I’m afraid that she is quite the wrong type of person for the role.”

Okay, I could see his point, it wouldn’t go well. It was a shame, ‘cause there was bound to be a market for self-defense classes in Sunnydale, and – “What about Spike?”

“Pardon?” Giles looked at me and raised his eyebrows.

“You what?” Spike said.

“You said Buffy was the wrong type to teach martial arts, and, yeah, I can see that, she’d get all impatient and huffy and it would go wrong and there’d be broken arms and lawsuits. But Spike, well, he knows all that stuff, and I’ve seen him helping Dawn with her homework and he’s a good teacher, and he’s not going to hurt the students even if he did lose his temper ‘cause, hello, chip, and if they mess up and hit him for real it wouldn’t do him any damage, and classes like that run in the evenings so no sunlight issues.” I stopped for breath and looked at them expectantly.

“Me? Teaching humans self-defense?” Spike bit on his lip and his forehead creased up. “Yeah, maybe I could. Got to admit it has the right image. Bloody good idea, Red, love.”

Giles looked hard at Spike. “It’s not something that would ever have occurred to me, but yes, I can see merit in your idea, Willow. I will see what I can come up with in the way of the necessary documentation.”

“Ta, mate.” Spike shook his head slowly. “Not just a pretty face, my girl. Hmm. Wonder if I can get that geezer in Brazil to send me something on paper to prove that I passed his black belt course?”

“You actually trained under a human sensei?” Giles asked.

“Well, yeah. Done it a few times over the years. Damn sight easier than doing, what do they call it, yeah, reverse engineering on moves that get used on you in a real fight. It’s how I can kick the crap out of demons bigger than me, innit? I’ve got the skill.”

“Fascinating. I definitely should have taken the time to learn more about you in the past, Spike.” Giles pushed aside his empty teacup, took out a notebook, and jotted down a few notes. “We are definitely making progress. Let me know if you get any more bright ideas that might be more applicable to Buffy’s situation, Willow.”

“Sure thing,” I agreed.

“Have you had any thoughts on how we might deal with Warren?” Giles asked.

“Nope,” I confessed. “We’re just not geared up to deal with humans. Most of the things he’s doing wouldn’t interest the cops, and the biggy, well, by the time we knew it was him the evidence was all messed up and there wasn’t anything to connect Warren ‘cept for him being her ex.”

“Most unfortunate. I detest the idea of someone getting away with murder, and indeed with trying to frame Buffy for the crime. No progress in locating Warren and his associates, I take it?”

“Wait a minute,” Spike said. “What are you talking about? Warren, robot guy Warren, murdered somebody?”

“Didn’t you know?” Oh. Nobody had told Spike, and it was me who should have done, only I hadn’t realized that he didn’t know. Color me stupid. “Oh, Spike, it’s my fault. I should have told you. I hadn’t realized you were out of the loop. Warren killed Katrina. The girl who Buffy thought she’d killed.”

“What?” Spike looked stunned. “Ought to rip his sodding throat out. Bugger. Think you should tell me the full story, love.”

I told him all of what we knew about Warren and his pals, the invisibility ray and the messing with Buffy and the dead girl, and Spike listened and said ‘bugger’ a few times.

“So you’ve been looking all over for the wankers? I know where they hang out.”

“You do?” My voice went all squeaky again.

“Yeah, called in on them and got Warren to take a look at my chip,” Spike said.

“You asked Warren to take your chip out?” Giles said sharply.

“Keep your hair on, mate, it wasn’t that. Wouldn’t have wanted him tinkering with my brain, would I? Probably have ended up reprogrammed to spout off bloody Star Wars dialogue. Nah, it’s just, Buffy clocked me one, I clocked her one back, and my head didn’t hurt. Thought the chip had packed in, passed its sell-by date or whatever. Faked that it’d worked, just that once, and then got it checked out. Didn’t tell him what it did, not totally stupid, just asked him to see if it was still working. With any luck he thinks it makes me stronger, faster, got the bloody technology, sort of thing.”

“Ah. Um. So that was how you found out about the chip’s, ah, malfunction with regards to Buffy. Your actions were ill-advised, I fear. Warren Mears is not to be trusted. I must say I’m surprised that you didn’t take the far simpler course of simply trying to bite some third party.”

Spike shifted in his seat. “Yeah, well, got me there. I did. Hadn’t fed in ages, right, went out to get a meal, found someone dumb enough to be alone in an alley. Only, didn’t feel right, somehow. Had to remind myself that I’m a vampire, build myself up to it – and then the pain came, right on schedule.” He swallowed hard. “Funny thing is, I was sort of relieved. Meant I didn’t have to make a choice.”

Giles was giving Spike a hard stare, and I was feeling a bit oogy, ‘cause, Spike eating people was one of those things I’d sorta shelved to not think about ‘less I really had to. “A choice?” Giles prompted.

“Yeah. To bite, or not to bite, that is the question. I can feed or I can mix with humans, can’t do both.” Spike looked at me. “Not that it’d need any thought now. Made my choice, I have.” I could see in his eyes what choice he’d made, and why, and that was pretty much the end of the ooginess.

“Um, well, I’m glad to hear that,” Giles said. He had looked a bit like he was thinking about getting the stakes out for a minute, but he’d relaxed again, and I guess he’d made the same deduction about Spike’s choice that I had. “Getting back to the matter at hand, how long ago was this? Will Warren still be at the same place?”

“Well, it was well before Christmas, just a couple of weeks after you skipped off back to England maybe, but I’m pretty sure the nerds haven’t changed their hide-out. Can take you there, no problem.”

“That would be a useful step forward, thank you, Spike.” Giles was obviously growing more used to having contact lenses; his hand didn’t even get quarter of the way to his face before he stopped the gesture. “I don’t know what we’ll do about them once we’ve got them, but confiscating equipment and magical paraphernalia would be a start, I suppose. Actually, Spike, you could be a great help. They would take dire threats of death and dismemberment seriously from you, whereas they would not treat threats from Buffy in the same way.”

“Long as I’m right about them not knowing what the chip does. Yeah, Watcher, I’ll do my bit.”

“We will still need Buffy, however, in the event of them showing fight. Hmm. Tomorrow evening?”

“Sure thing,” Spike agreed.

“I’ll rack my brains overnight for a way of deterring Warren long term. Right.” Giles rubbed his hands together. “So, we have made progress. Now, the other matter concerning me is the matter of those demon eggs. I suspect that the Initiative, or whatever they call themselves these days, will make use of them in ways that are, shall we say, unethical. I’d like both of you to tell me as much as you can remember about what Riley Finn and his wife said about the eggs.”

- - - - -

“Getting bored here, mate. Sure we’ve got to wait for the Slayer?” We were hanging around near the lair of Warren, Jonathan, and the other one, waiting for Buffy to join us, and Spike was acting restless. He kept fidgeting with a cigarette, and flicking his lighter, but he never got round to lighting up. Come to think of it, he’d cut right down on his smoking since we’d started with the dating.

“I feel that waiting would be the prudent course of action,” Giles advised Spike. “Be patient. The delay will do no harm.”

“Uh, maybe you shouldn’t have said that, Giles,” I said. A big demon had just appeared on the roof of the house. It jumped down to the ground, landing lightly like a cat, and came towards us.

“Stand back, mortals, this is a job for Super Spike,” Spike said, or maybe declaimed, and he pocketed his cigarettes and prepared for action.

The demon wasn’t huge, ‘bout as big as a tall man, but it was scary looking. Weird staring eyes, kinda glassy, and its skin had this sorta sheen to it like maybe plastic or wax. Maybe it was a robot. “Careful, Spike,” I urged him.

“Now, where have I seen that before?” Giles muttered.

Spike moved to intercept the demon as it headed for us and the fight began. It kicked out at Spike. He swept its leg aside with his forearm and punched it in the back as it spun off-balance. It fell on its face, and Spike kicked it a couple of times as it got up, but then it brought its arm round and knocked Spike back a pace. They swapped punches for a minute, and then Spike caught its arm and twisted hard. He forced it downwards and kicked it in the face, jerked it up again and kicked it behind the knee, and it dropped again. Spike had it pretty much under control, it couldn’t break his wristlock and he was kicking it more or less at will, and then suddenly a spiny thing shot out from the demon’s knuckles and stabbed Spike in the chest.

Spike yelped. “Twat!” he exclaimed. “That bloody hurt. Give up, why don’t you?” and he kicked the demon again. Then he let the arm go and staggered backwards.

The demon clambered to its feet and growled. It wiped a hand across its face and shook its head. Spike was just standing there, looking around with a dazed expression on his face, and I suddenly felt really worried. The demon ignored Spike, like it knew it had neutralized him with that sting or whatever, and started towards me and Giles.

Giles had brought along a tire iron and I had Anya’s baseball bat. We raised them ready to fight, and I was starting to wonder about spells and if I could even do any magic after avoiding it for so long, and then we heard running feet behind us. The demon snarled again, turned, and ran off.

“Sorry I’m late, guys,” Buffy called. She came running up and stopped beside us. “Hey, what’s happened to Spike?”

“That demon stung him with something,” I said. Right at that moment there was the roar of an engine and a black van shot out of the garage and went past us. It had Star Wars stuff painted on the sides.

“Damn it! That’s Warren’s van,” Buffy said, and she sounded pretty pissed. “They got away.”

Okay, that was of the bad, but I was more worried about Spike, ‘cause he looked pretty out of it. Still, vampire, can’t get poisoned, right? I went to him. He was staring at something, eyes really wide, looking maybe – frightened? “Spike! What is it? Are you okay?”

He spoke, but he was still looking at something else; and he wasn’t replying to me, that’s for sure. “Mother?”


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.

Tags: angel_of_the_morning, fic
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