|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Spike fights in the semifinals of the demon ‘no holds barred’ championship. Will having Buffy near help or hurt his chances of winning?
MacKenzie Verity Weckerly born October 9th, 2010
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
Crazy Girl, Eli Young Band, http://youtu.be/J3HwFtdVTfM
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
Thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter. Any mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling ...
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
(Same night …at the Fight Club)
Sunday, December 26th, 2010, 12:45am, Sunnydale:
Buffy watched through her fingers as the Granok tossed Spike across the wide pit like the vamp weighed nothing. Her husband crashed into the hard wall on the other side with a thud and sank down to the floor. The so-called un-killable demon wasn’t that big really … but he was extraordinarily strong and difficult to hurt. Spike’s fangs had had a slight impact on the humanoid demon whose face was marred with battle scars and tribal markings, along with oddly twisted wrinkles that gave no indication of age. He could bleed; if he could bleed, he could be killed, Buffy was sure, but first Spike had to find a way to keep his fangs in contact with the demon for more than a few seconds.
They’d been fighting almost thirty minutes already, and the Granok wasn’t unscathed, but Spike was … more scathed by far. He knew she was there. When he first came out into the ‘ring’, he scanned the crowd as he always did before a fight and their eyes had met. He held her gaze during the entire introduction, only pulling them away from her when the announcer commanded the battle to commence. With their eyes locked across the expanse of the ring, Buffy again tried to contact him through the bond, but got nothing … she was starting to think there may be a magical barrier in place to prevent communication with the fighters from outside the pit.
Faith stayed close to Buffy, often keeping a hand wrapped tightly around the back of her sister Slayer’s belt, just to make sure she didn’t jump into the fight to help Spike, which would undoubtedly disqualify him. All the money was riding on Spike winning, Buffy had put it all on him – but he had to do it – alone.
Buffy slid her hands down from in front of her eyes and covered her mouth as she watched Spike struggle to get back to his feet. Her stomach churned and her heart raced seeing him so beaten and bloodied. Blood ran from his head, down his temple and dripped in rivers to the floor of the pit, his hands and knuckles were all broken and bloodied and, when he was on his feet, he had a discernible limp from a hard kick he’d taken to the back of his knee earlier. Suddenly Buffy just wished he would stay down … she couldn’t take seeing him hurt anymore … and what if this demon was strong enough to wrench Spike’s head from his shoulders … what difference would that money make without him here?
Buffy pushed along the railing, through the throng of screaming onlookers to get nearer to where Spike was with Faith right on her heels. The Granok was moving forward slowly, taking his time now as he closed in for the kill. Everyone was screaming for Spike to get up … even though most of them had ended up betting on the Granok, that really wasn’t the important thing – the important thing was the fight … and they were sure the blond vamp had more fight in him – they’d seen it before.
Buffy leaned over the railing right above Spike as he continued to try to shake the stars from in front of his eyes and clear the cobwebs from his brain.
“Stay down!” she shouted, the lone voice in the crowd with that message for him. “Spike! Just stay down!”
Spike pushed up halfway and his boot slipped in the pool of blood that had formed under him and he fell back down onto his ass, his back against the rocky wall of the unforgiving pit. Then he heard her above the din of the crowd, like an angel calling down from above … stay down… just stay down.
He tilted his head back and looked up above him … there she was, his angel. Her green eyes shone with worry and fear and it did his heart good to see it. Not that he wanted her to worry or be afraid, but it meant she still loved him … she’d forgive him for his deceptions … and she’d forgive him for not staying down.
Even as the Granok reached him, Spike could hear her shouting, pleading, begging him to stay down, to give up … but she knew better, or she should’ve. The only person he’d ever run away from in a fight had been her … he didn’t back down, he didn’t give up – he didn’t quit. He won. That’s just what he did.
Spike relaxed his body and closed his eyes as if unconscious as the Granok reached down and started to pick him back up by his shoulders. As soon as the long-haired demon bent forward, Spike struck – grabbing a handful of that long hair in one hand and clamping his other hand around the demon’s throat. Spike pulled back violently on the Granok’s hair, causing the demon to screech in pain, but the vocalization was short-lived as Spike cutoff the demon’s airway. Spike squeezed his hand tightly around the Granok’s neck, using all this remaining strength and he felt bones crack and splinter under his assault.
Momentarily taken off guard, the stronger demon lost his advantage and now struggled to get free from Spike’s grasp. He swung out at Spike’s midsection, landing punishing blows which cracked ribs and raised bruises on his bare torso before the Granok had even pulled his fists away to swing again. Spike struggled to hold on to his opponent, keep the pressure on – mustering the will from every fiber of his being to weather the storm.
Finally, in desperation, the Granok pulled away from Spike, launching himself backwards with his powerful legs. A large wad of hair was pulled from the demon’s skull as he wrenched free of the vampire’s grasp and blood flowed from his scalp and matted the remaining hair beneath it. If the demon had any breath, he would’ve screamed out in pain, but as it was he was only happy to be able to inhale once again, although only a fraction of the oxygen he needed could pass through his crushed windpipe.
The Granok fell onto his back when he lunged away from Spike, but quickly turned over and began to scramble back to his feet. Despite his frantic efforts, he only made it to his hands and knees as he wheezed and choked and tried to find some way to fill his lungs with air, before Spike was atop him. The demon was again taken by surprise at the speed of the vamp whom only seconds before seemed ready for the dust-bin. Spike straddled the Granok’s back as the demon tried to stand up fully and he pushed his oxygen-deprived opponent back down to his hands and knees. Spike laced his arms around his stronger demon’s neck and head, again mustering every ounce of energy he had left, and twisted and pulled backwards at the same time in a violent tour de force.
The Granok’s head twisted completely around and the grotesque sound of breaking bones and tearing flesh filled the pit and assailed the spectators senses. For a moment Spike thought that wasn’t going to be enough as the Granok seemed to sneer up at him. He might've heard a rumor from a little Vietnamese birdie (whom he'd gotten in good favor with over the last weeks) who had witnessed a Granok's defeat before, that they could be killed by chopping their heads off. He figured ripping it off should work ... he'd hoped just wrenching it around backwards would be enough. Spike repositioned his hands to turn the demon's head in a complete circle and try to actually rip it from his shoulders, but just then the ‘Linda Blaired’ demon collapsed under Spike’s weight and took his last gurgling breath before going completely still.
There was a unified, audible gasp from the entire crowd of onlookers when the Granok’s head turned around completely backwards on his shoulders. Everyone in the entire arena seemed to hold their breath for several seconds afterwards as a wave of utter shock rolled over them. Where one moment there had been raucous pandemonium, there was now a dead stillness that seemed to stretch out forever. The only sound breaking the deafening blanket of silence was the last gasp of life from the demon as he fell to the floor under Spike’s weight.
The crowd stood dumbfounded for several moments, which seemed to last an eternity, as Spike collapsed down onto his side next to the prone body of his adversary, overcome by utter exhaustion.
“Spike!” Buffy screamed out in utter relief just a millisecond before the entire audience burst into screams of cheers, whistles, and applause even louder than when the combatants were actively battling. Despite their monetary losses, Spike was still the sentimental crowd favorite and this win meant he’d be back to fight another day.
Buffy braced her hands on the top of the clear railing and sprang her feet up to the side to hurdle the barrier and drop down into the pit to help her husband, but as soon as her feet crossed inside the pit, she was flung backwards. Faith helped her back to her feet and they both reached their hands out into the nothingness above the pit and were met with solid resistance. Buffy could do nothing but watch as the clean-up boy, who had earlier delivered Spike’s message of ‘he no worry’, helped Spike back to his feet and the announcer proclaimed the underdog the winner.
Spike looked up and met her eyes across the expanse of the battleground. Buffy’s hands covered her mouth and worry creased her features as even more bruises seemed to bloom on Spike’s bare torso and face. He had to lean on Raj, unable to put any weight on his right leg now, his knee unable to stand any pressure at all. Through all that, he gave her a small smile that silently said … ‘I told you I could do it…for you.’
Tears welled in Buffy’s eyes and she nodded slowly, then Raj was guiding the injured warrior from the ring of battle and the fight announcer was reminding everyone that the final battle of this championship tournament would be the following week on night of New Year’s Day between the vampire, Spike, and a Pele Haleakala demon named Aukanai'i. Several undercards would precede the Championship, the winner of which would take home half a million dollars. It was winner-take-all – the loser, if he lived, got nothing.
Buffy was only half listening as she started for the door, hopeful that someone would open the back door for her now that the fights were over. Faith caught her arm and stopped her. “Whoa, B! Did you forget something?”
“No … what?”
Faith raised her brows and tilted her head towards Buffy’s front pocket of her jeans. “Betting ticket…”
“Oh, God …” Buffy moaned, rolling her eyes. How could she forget that? Maybe it was the vision of Spike beaten and battered that clouded her mind…
“Here,” Buffy pulled the ticket out and pressed it into Faith’s hand. “You take care of it. Meet you out back in the alley behind the building.”
“You sure?” Faith questioned, looking at the ticket.
Buffy shrugged. “I’m sure…”
Buffy paced back and forth in front of the heavy metal door stewing in frustration; despite knocking, pounding, kicking, and screaming at it, no one had opened it for her and the heavy metal electronic slide bolts made it otherwise ‘un-openable’.
Faith showed up with the cash winnings in a vinyl, zippered bank money bag and handed it to Buffy.
Buffy didn’t open it or look inside; she knew what was supposed to be in there would be; she trusted Faith. She tucked it into her waistband at the small of her back in the spot she normally kept her stake and the two Slayers waited in silence for Spike to emerge from the fight club.
When the door finally swung open, Spike was still leaning on the small clean-up boy trying to not put any weight on his knee. He was dressed now, still in the jeans he’d fought in, but now with his t-shirt and duster and shoes back on, as well. He wasn’t surprised to see Buffy waiting outside the door and guided Raj towards her as she moved forward. Spike held his free arm out – open, ready to pull her into a hug, but, instead of falling into his embrace, Buffy clocked him on the jaw with a stiff right jab.
“Owwww! Bloody hell! What was that for!?” Spike exclaimed as he stumbled backwards, jumping on one leg. Raj struggled to keep him upright as the heavy door swung closed behind them, casting the alley back into darkness.
“That was for scaring the shit out of me! And this …” she informed him as she moved forward again and slammed her other fist against the other side of his face. “Is for lying to me!”
Raj couldn’t hold him any longer and Spike fell onto his back on the pavement of the alley, howling in pain, unable to decide what hurt worse, her words or her fists.
"Do you have any idea how incredibly stupid that was?!" she demanded, standing over him as he shook the fog from his brain and tried to focus.
"Borrowing money from a loan shark!? Really, Spike? You know Willow would've loaned us the money! All we had to do was ask! You goddamn arrogant son-of-a-bitch! You can't take help from our friends but can put our whole family in danger? What the hell were you thinking?
"And then this! This is your solution? Fighting other demons to the death? You could've dusted and I wouldn't have known anything! Just 'poof' gone! You could've left us all alone! Damn it, Spike! I hate you! I absolutely hate you!"
Then Buffy was on top of him, holding his face between her palms and kissing him frantically as all the emotions of the last few hours overwhelmed her with everything from anger to fear to hurt to determined fortitude and back again to fear. Spike wrapped his arms around her and returned the kiss through the pain … her kiss always seemed to make everything feel better somehow.
Finally she pulled back, breathless, her chest heaving with all those emotions that had been battling within her since that afternoon, and looked down at him. “Don’t ever do that again,” she commanded, her voice resolute but still with a tinge of fear and hurt mixed in.
Spike nodded. “I’m so bloody sorry… I love you so much, pet.”
“I love you too…you stupid vampire,” Buffy assured him, dropping her forehead down onto his lightly and closing her eyes as he ran his hands up and down her arms.
“I say Kiwi Spike no worry … you no worry!” Raj informed her indignantly. “You crazy girl! Muchacha loca!” he exclaimed, using words he’d learned from some of the Spanish demons over the years.
“Si,” Spike agreed. “Esa muchacha loca … gotta love m’ crazy girl, though.”
“I hate to interrupt this crazy love fest, but I think we have a shark to filet …” Faith pointed out.
Spike closed his eyes and groaned painfully as one hand went to his bruised eyes. He moved his hand and looked up at Buffy. “I don’t ‘ave what he says he wants now… only got twelve. Bloody wanker changed the deal on me… woulda had enough to pay ‘im his ten …”
Buffy stood up and then helped Spike back to his feet … or foot, to be more exact, as he kept the pressure off his right knee. “You no worry,” she mimicked Raj’s accent and broken English. “Buffy no worry – you no worry.”
Spike looked at her with confusion and Buffy rolled her eyes. “I might’ve placed a small wager … against my better judgment … on the ten to one underdog.”
Spike’s confusion deepened. “Ten t’ one? I only got even odds on my bloody bet! When did it change t’ ten to one?”
Buffy shrugged innocently. “After some rumors started flying that you’d already been in one fight against some Fyral demons this morning … or yesterday morning … whatever morning that was. Not sure where that rumor might’ve come from.”
“Bloody hell … I could’a had fifty fucking thousand bloody dollars…” Spike moaned, suddenly feeling weak in his one good knee. He’d placed his bet earlier in the night – they’d never changed his odds before – never.
Buffy felt the blood drain out of her face. “Fifty …. As in five-zero? How much did you bet?”
“Five … but … but … Five plus ten is fifteen … not fifty!” Buffy stammered.
Spike narrowed his eyes at her. “Not done a lot a gamblin’ in your life, I’d wager …” Spike offered. “Ten to one means you get ten times what you bet. I know math ain’t your strong suit, Slayer … but even you know the difference between multiplication and addition. You get your original stake back, plus ten times that much…”
Now Buffy’s knees felt weak and she reached behind her back and pulled out the vinyl money bag, finally opening it and pulling the cash out. All the air went out of her lungs as she retrieved four plastic wrapped bundles of hundred dollar bills from the bag … the paper sticker on them read $10,000 … each. And there was more in addition to that … another $8,400 in ‘loose change’.
“Oh my God…” she muttered, her wide, unbelieving eyes moving away from the pretty green paper and up to meet Spike’s.
“Oh my God,” she muttered again as it sank in. “We’re rich! We’re rich! Spike! We’re rich!” she screamed as she lunged at him, flinging her arms around his neck and jumping up and down at the same time, the bundles of money still in her hands. It was all Raj and Spike together could do to keep him from falling down again.
“And – since this place doesn’t officially exist … it’s tax free,” Faith pointed out. “The house doesn’t even take a fee, which is sweet.”
Spike had to laugh despite the pain as she forced him to put weight on his bad knee lest he tumble over again. There was the crazy girl inside the woman. It had been a while since she’d surfaced; too much worry, too many bills and responsibilities weighing her down – he loved seeing that unbridled joy and excitement bubble to the surface again. Who said money couldn’t buy happiness? At this moment, Spike would’ve argued that contention, because there was a giddy Slayer joyously bouncing up and down in front of him that said otherwise.
Finally, Buffy released him and stepped back, still holding the cash in her hands. “We have enough to pay the shark … and pay Willow and Tara back and pay off almost all the credit cards!
“Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me about this before!?” she demanded, slapping him lightly in the chest with a bundle of the money. “This is amazing! And so easy!”
“‘Cos you would’a said it’s too dangerous … that I could get hurt … you woulda’ shut me down, pet,” Spike offered in his defense. “And ‘easy’ depends on who’s in the bloody pit…” Spike pointed out, wincing slightly as he leaned back against Raj for support.
Buffy pouted as she looked at the money, then back up at him. “Yeah … it is too dangerous and you did get hurt and this was your last fight,” she informed him flatly.
“Oh no, Slayer – you just said…”
“I know what I said – and you’re right – I’m shutting you down.”
“Buffy – no. I’m too close … half a million! One more fight and we will be rich, really rich – rich enough to be out from under everything and have plenty left over; rich enough to fund your Scrunchie business if ya want … Rich enough I can tell Tiburon to get stuffed…” Spike argued.
“Spike … what good is all that if you’re maimed or worse …” Buffy pointed out. “What if they send you back to me with your head turned backwards or in a little shoe box? Who would give Billy ‘the talk’?”
“Buffy – I don’t ask for much … I don’t need much, but I need my dignity. I know I was wrong to lie to ya … and you have no idea how bloody sorry I am ‘bout that, but … I’m fightin’ next week,” Spike stated adamantly, his eyes boring into hers with passionate determination shining in them, illuminated by the dim glow of a distant street light.
Buffy stood silently in front of him for what seemed hours, still clutching the bundles of money in her hands as her mind raced and argued with itself in what seemed an unending and unwinnable argument – from either side.
Finally, she sighed heavily and took a step closer to him. “Next time, if I say ‘stay down’ then you stay down…”
“Don’t underestimate me, Slayer…”
Buffy shook her head. “I won’t … but if you get dusted, I’ll kill you.”
Spike pursed his lips and tilted his head to the side slightly as he studied her. “Deal.”
Faith took the Blue Bomber home while Buffy drove the DeSoto since Spike’s right knee was too painful to even drive. They took Raj home, Spike had given him his normal $50 tip earlier (silently vowing to reward the boy handsomely once he won the big prize), and then headed to Mr. Shark’s place. On Spike’s advice, Buffy left most of her winnings in the hiding place under the back seat, keeping only the $15,000 that Mr. Shark had demanded on her when they went inside his lair. Not that Spike didn’t trust the shark, but … it was better to be safe than sorry.
Spike leaned on her heavily as they slogged into the cave near the ocean that the shark used for his headquarters. Half the time, the entrance was completely under water … luckily, tonight, right now, wasn’t one of those times. The rough and muddy exterior of the cave belied the posh interior; there was a large, natural pool of clear ocean water that was lit from below with multicolored lights, beyond that was a wide, grand staircase carved into the stone wall of the cave that curved around the back side of the pool and lead up to drier conditions, which apparently stayed dry even at the highest of tides, where the loan shark’s office actually was.
Buffy finally just carried Spike piggyback up the stairs … there was no way his knee would’ve made it otherwise. At the top of the staircase was a wall made up entirely of a large saltwater aquarium with colorful coral growing in it and tropical fish swimming happily in its clear depths. Buffy set her injured passenger down lightly thinking that Sea World would be envious of that display and wishing Billy could see it … for some reason she thought he’d like it. Bess would like it too – she’d want to go swimming in it, probably.
"This way, pet…” Spike directed, waving an arm to the right.
Buffy helped Spike to the last office in a long line of offices and knocked on the closed door.
“Come in, Mr. Spike,” called the debonair loan shark from the other side of the door.
“How did he know?” Buffy asked quietly … were sharks telepathic or something?
“Surveillance …” Spike whispered back, pointing up to tiny camera lenses that lined the hallway … so small you wouldn’t notice them or know what they were if you …well, didn’t know what they were.
Buffy rolled her eyes and opened the door, helping Spike in. Mr. Shark stood up and greeted them amiably, as if he hadn’t just a few hours ago, threatened to take one of their children for demon sacrifices…
“How wonderful of you to stop in, Mrs. Spike,” he began, waving a fin at a chair near his desk. “Do sit down, won’t you?”
“Thanks but … we can’t stay,” Buffy began as her eyes scanned the room. Three walls were lined with more aquariums which were filled with more colorful fish: orange and white striped clown fish, angel fish of every color and description from blue stripes to yellow stripes and everything in between … there was even a bright orange one with black stripes, plus other fish in colors she had no idea existed outside the color wheel in the paint department at Home Depot. She felt like she’d been transported into a ‘Finding Nemo’ set … you know, if ‘Finding Nemo’ wasn’t a cartoo … uhhh … animation.
She must’ve stared just a little too long. “Do you like them?” Mr. Shark asked, moving over to one of the large tanks and pushing a button to drop a ration of food into the tank.
The fish darted up at the flakes in bright flashes of color – it looked like a rainbow had exploded underwater as they streaked and careened towards the surface and back down again, devouring the rations.
“Yes … they’re really … pretty. Billy would love them…” Buffy admitted as she left Spike and took a step forward.
“Then you should bring the boy by one day, Mr. Spike …” the loan shark offered.
“Oh … uhhhh … thanks, but…” Buffy began, turning wide eyes to Spike.
“Lad’s allergic t’ salt…” Spike declined.
"Oh, that's a terrible shame," the loan shark lamented as he pressed a fin against a hidden door next to the tank which revealed a small, but well-stocked, wet bar tucked away in the wall. "Drink?" he offered, waving a hand at the bar and looking expectantly at Spike.
"Ta ever so, not much in the mood at the mo," Spike replied, dropping the fifteen thousand on the shark’s desk. “Here’s your money … but I still say I only owe ya ten. You bloody well said ‘Christmas’ … Nochebuena. Plus, that armoire your boys busted up was Louis the fourteenth … antique it was, a family heirloom ... old growth mahogany with hand inlaid rosewood … at least four grand right there smashed into bloody kindling.”
The shark moved back over to his desk and Buffy stepped back next to Spike. She hoped they weren’t going to have to make a run for it or fight their way out of here if Spike pissed the shark off again. She wasn’t sure how fast she could run carrying Spike down all those steps or how many Fyarl demons they might meet along the way.
Mr. Shark picked up the stack of hundreds off the desk and fanned them quickly, as if he could tell if they were short by simply the feel of them flipping through his fins.
“I can see how you might’ve … misunderstood,” the loan shark began thoughtfully, looking down at the money in his fin. “I can assure you that Nochebuena, however, is what you call ‘Christmas Eve’.”
“Then ya shoulda bloody well said that. This isn’t soddin’ Mexico … should speak the Queen's English … or … well, bloody American, at any rate,” Spike argued.
Buffy shot Spike a look, was he trying to get them killed? Mr. Shark only grunted noncommittally as he continued studying the bills in his fin.
After a few moments, the shark looked up at the blondes. “I like you Mr. Spike … in fact, I like both of you – got guts … that’s hard to find these days, strong constitutions. I’m not an unreasonable man … I’ll tell you what, I’ll split the difference with you – and pay for half of the armoire … that sound fair?”
Spike shrugged. “Still say…” Buffy elbowed him in the ribs and Spike flinched.
“That will be fine… that’s fair,” Buffy agreed. “This means you won’t be coming after our kids, right?”
The shark waved a fin at her dismissively and laughed. “Oh, I didn’t really want the small humans … I haven’t dealt in that trade in many, many years. Too much overhead … and with the shrieking and tears … worse than kittens, really. No, I’m strictly a ‘cash on the barrelhead’ shark now,” he assured her.
“You blighter!” Spike began angrily before Buffy found his ribs again with her elbow. “Bloody hell, Slayer – you got Tourette’s of the elbow now?”
“Shut up, Spike … remember your bad knee,” she reminded him, looking at him with wide eyes and imploring him to not piss off the shark again.
“And my bloody bruised ribs…" Spike moaned back at her.
"I heard you killed a whole family o' Tranjck demons ..." Spike pressed, looking back at the loan shark.
The shark nodded thoughtfully. "Indeed I did ... or ... well, I contracted it done. They were eating me out of house and home ... literally. Tranjck demons, you see ... are like termites, for stone - cost me a small fortune to reinforce all the walls they weakened in here..."
Spike rolled his eyes and sighed. He'd been duped ... the damn shark had never intended to do anything other than frighten him into paying up. It had worked.
Mr. Shark gave Spike back $4,500 of the $15,000 and Spike stuffed it down in the pocket of his duster.
“It’s always a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Spike… perhaps you or your lovely wife would like job – I seem to have a couple of openings for collection agents that just opened up,” the shark offered.
“Thanks, we’re a little busy right now, but we’ll keep the offer in mind,” Buffy assured him with a fake smile as she turned Spike around and started for the door.
“Have a happy new year!” the shark called after them cheerfully.
“You too…” Buffy responded a little too brightly as she closed the office door behind them.
“Four thousand dollars? Louis the fourteenth? Family heirloom?” Buffy asked in a whisper as they started down the hallway. “I paid twenty-five dollars for that armoire at a yard sale last summer…”
Spike shrugged. “Got mosta my bloody money back that I didn’t bloody owe him in the first bloody place, didn' it?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Do you think you could’ve gotten any more ‘bloodies’ in that sentence?”
Spike snorted, leaning on her heavily as they made their way back to the stairs. “I’m a trained professional … don’t try that at ‘ome.”
Back at the mansion, Faith had already told everyone (except the kids, who were in bed) what happened at the fight club and about Buffy winning the money and everyone congratulated them excitedly when they came in.
Buffy helped Spike sit down at the research table and she pulled the rest of the cash out of the bank bag. She counted out forty-five hundred, five hundred more than she owed, and gave back to Willow, thanking her profusely for all the trouble she went through to get it. Willow and Tara, of course, refused the extra, saying it wasn’t any big deal and gave the extra five hundred back to Buffy.
“So, after paying Mr. Shark … and Spike claiming our furniture was Louis the Fourteenth …” Buffy began after getting the remaining money counted, including what she won and what Spike had won and gotten paid for his bout. “We have $49,900!!! Can you believe that!? In one night we made enough to pay off almost all of our credit cards!”
“And, if Spike wins next week, you’ll have it made in the shade, girlfriend!” Faith added with a smile. “Could get you a pool boy with all that dough…”
“We don’t have a pool …” Buffy pointed out with furrowed brow, missing Faith’s teasing grin.
“You could get a pool and a pool boy…” Faith amended. “Maybe a cabana boy, too…”
“Ain’t no one getting no bloody pool boys or cabana boys or any other kinda boys ‘round ‘ere …” Spike objected. “Got enough problems with the bloody bag boys at the grocery makin’ goo-goo eyes at ya, Slayer.”
Buffy repressed a smile – she didn’t know Spike had noticed that …
“Actually – you can’t use that money to pay off your bills,” Anya informed them flatly.
“What? Why not?” Buffy asked with concern creasing her features.
“You haven’t paid any taxes on it … if you suddenly come up with lots and lots of money out of nowhere and start paying off bills and building pools and hiring pool boys, Uncle Sam’s gonna take notice. They'll think you’re a drug dealer, put you under surveillance, knock your front door down and raid your house - guns ablazin' - there're very fond of blazing guns. Shoot first and ask questions later - that's our government's motto when it comes to dealing with drug dealers. Didn't you see 'Scarface'?
"They'll probably take your children away and place them in an inadequately staffed and poorly funded foster home ... it would be quite inconvenient. At the very least, they’ll get you for income tax evasion – just ask Al Capone. I can tell you he was one pretty pissed off gangster. I met him on Alcatraz … syphilis was his girlfriend’s wish as I recall, it was really quite poetic …”
“Is that true?” Buffy interrupted Anya’s story, looking at Giles.
“Well … uh, I suppose most foster homes are poorly funded, but I’ve never known syphilis to be particularly poetic …” Giles started.
“No! Not that! The tax stuff and house raiding?”
“Oh. Indeed, yes, I’m afraid that could happen,” Giles confirmed.
“Oh, that’s great! That’s just great! We finally have money and I can’t even spend it!? Seriously!?” Buffy ranted.
“Oh, you can spend it – you just need to launder it first…” Anya offered matter-of-factly.
Buffy looked at her with utter disbelief. “Oxyclean will keep me out of Alcatraz? They never mention that on the ads...”
“Not that kind of laundry, pet,” Spike began. “Need to make it legit … pay the taxes and whatnot – it needs to look like a real job.”
“That’s what I said,” Anya protested.
“How do we do that?” Buffy wondered innocently, looking from Spike to Anya.
“You donate the money to 'The World Defense Council’, our new non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that I just helped Giles set up. You give the money anonymously in several donations of less than ten thousand dollars each and I’ll write you a paycheck for it … less taxes, of course.”
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable using the Council to launder money, that’s rather … unseemly,” Giles objected.
“You can keep five percent commission,” Spike offered.
“Really? Five percent, you say? Well … errr ... perhaps ... in that case … uhhh ... I suppose there's no actual harm in it,” Giles agreed as he did the math in his mind – if Spike won that half million, that would be $25,000 in commission to the Council for doing basically nothing.
“Great!” Buffy beamed, shoving the four bundles of $10,000 each towards Anya. “You fix it.”
“What about the rest?” Anya asked, eyeing the other pile of money on the table, which was just under ten grand, like a hungry cat eyeing an unsuspecting mouse.
“That I keep for my next bet…” Buffy explained confidently as she took the cash off the table and pocketed it. “I’ve got a hot tip says that Pele what’s-it demon is going down …. What would a Pele demon have for a power, anyway … the ability to kick a soccer ball in a big ole net? Unless you’re a soccer ball… or a net, that doesn’t sound all that terrifying …”
“Fire,” came as a single foreboding voice … barely more than a unified sigh, from Spike, Giles, and Anya.
Crazy Girl, Eli Young Band
Baby why you wanna cry?
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