|Story Title:||Turn Me On|
My Life in the Palm of Your Hand
Buffy has to be the ‘stompy-foot’. Glory attacks Tara and steals her mind. Buffy makes a new plan: run away. While holed up in the desert, surrounded by the Knights of Byzantium, Spike takes matters into his own hands. How will that work out for him?
Tough Love - Spiral
|Thanks:||To YOU for reading and to Anona for her grammatical and punctuation corrections and final review. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
SPOILER ALERT: This story is a cross-over with the 'Miles to Go' story in the Unexpected Universe Series. If you have not read that story, but intend to, then you should read it first! You do not have to read it for this spin-off to make sense. There is a *lot* more detail of what lead up to this story there, much more than is contained in the prologue, however. If you have read that story, then this prologue will be review for you.
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.
A few days later...
“I think you should have Spike come back over,” Dawn advised Buffy dourly as they came in the house after school. “You were in a lot better mood when he was staying here.”
Buffy flushed slightly. “He … might come back later, but he was feeling better and he needed to go back to his crypt for a while,” Buffy explained. “When he’s here you’re … distracted and … well, so am I, and plus, he’s a worse disciplinarian than I am. Regardless of my mood, you need to get your homework done every single day. We need to buckle up … or buckle down or something with a buckle and try to get back to … a reliable schedule and a normal life,” Buffy asserted with her best grown-up voice.
Dawn snorted derisively as she set her books down on the dining room table. “Who are you kidding? I’ll never have a normal life – and neither will you! You’re a Vampire Slayer in love with a vampire and I’m a magical, mystical Key! Here’s a math quiz: just how does that add up to ‘normal’?”
“I … I never said I was in love with Spike!” Buffy argued.
Dawn rolled her eyes. “I told you before, I’m not blind. And, for the record, I’m not deaf either,” Dawn advised Buffy huffily.
“What does that mean?”
“You aren’t exactly stealthy with the … sleeping arrangements,” Dawn pointed out. “Just because one of you sneaks downstairs to the couch every morning when my alarm goes off, doesn’t mean I don’t know where you’ve both been all night.”
Buffy shook her head and balled her hands into fists. “What I … feel for Spike and the sleeping arrangements are sooo not the point. The point is: you need to study. You need to bring your grades back up. You need to stop skipping class and stop lying to me.”
Dawn sighed heavily. “Why? I’m not even real. Who cares if the Key gets an education anyway?”
“You are real. This is very real,” Buffy admonished her.
“Yeah? Those monks put grades K through eight in my head, can't we just wait and see if they drop nine in there too?” Dawn asked incredulously.
“Damn it, Dawn! This is serious!” Buffy exclaimed in exasperation.
“Why? Why should I care about any of this?” Dawn demanded, waving her hand at her books.
“Because they'll take you away! They’ll decide I’m not a fit guardian and they’ll send you … away,” Buffy shrieked. Her worst fears were coming true. She was failing Dawn. She was failing as the adult. She was failing as the Slayer and the big sister.
Spike had tried to help Buffy with Dawn, but all Dawn had to do was pout and whine a bit, or drop a tear or two, and Spike would just crumble like an over-baked cookie. Instead of coming home from training or researching or patrolling to find Dawn’s homework done, Buffy would find the two of them eating popcorn and watching old movies instead. Buffy could not fail in this. She had to be the stompy-foot, regardless of how uncomfortable it was for her or how much Dawn resented it.
“What do you mean take me away? Away where?” Dawn asked, suddenly frightened rather than angry.
Buffy sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe to Dad or … foster care. I was afraid to ask. That’s what your principal wanted to talk to me about this afternoon.”
“I won’t go,” Dawn argued, her stubborn anger returning. “I’ll … I’ll go live in Spike’s crypt and …”
“Daawwn,” Buffy droned. “Please, I’m begging you – just work with me. You have so much going for you. Don’t throw it away. Please,” Buffy pleaded with her. “Mom would want you to … do well, to be happy, to chase your dreams. I know your dreams don’t involve hiding in a graveyard for the rest of your life.”
“They do if Spike’s there,” Dawn retorted haughtily.
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yeah, well … he won’t be there. He’ll probably be here, so, back to Plan A: Study. Go to school. Do your homework. Get good grades.”
“You do love him, don’t you?” Dawn asked with a slightly accusatory tone.
“Fine. Yes … I do,” Buffy admitted.
“Did you tell him yet?” Dawn wondered, sure that Buffy hadn’t.
“Actually … yes, I did.”
Dawn’s brows shot up nearly to her hairline. “Huh!” she exclaimed in amazement. “You know, if you break his heart and run him off, I’ll beat you up.”
Buffy laughed and nodded. “If I break his heart and run him off, then I would deserve to get beat up.”
Just then, the phone rang. “Homework,” Buffy ordered, pointing to Dawn’s book-bag as she headed for the phone in the kitchen.
Dawn saluted her and began pulling books out, but before she could even get started on anything, Buffy was back. “Never mind that – leave it. Let’s go!” Buffy ordered, her voice a mixture of panic and fear.
“What! What is it?” Dawn asked, following Buffy towards the door.
“Glory – she thinks Tara’s the Key now.”
“Oh, God,” Dawn moaned, remembering how badly Spike had been beaten when Glory thought he was the Key.
“I’m taking you to Spike’s – then I’ll … I’ll try to stop her,” Buffy offered, trying to sound assuring.
“I can get to Spike’s on my own – you should go find Tara,” Dawn argued.
“NO, you can’t!” Buffy screamed at her as they started out the front door. “I’m not leaving you alone.”
“Nothing to be worried about, kiddo. No one's gonna hurt you,” Spike assured Dawn later. At Buffy’s request, which was given more as an order than a request, but … whatever, Spike had brought Dawn down into the caverns under Sunnydale, hopefully safe from the prying eyes of Glory’s minions and from Glory herself.
“Oh yeah. Same no one who did that to you?” she asked incredulously.
“What, these?” Spike questioned, waving a hand dismissively. “Just a few bruises. Nothing to write home about.... hey, chin up, Platelet. And don't get scared... Maybe Glory doesn't want to kill you, maybe it's something...”
“Hey, now...” Spike began comfortingly.
“You wanna know what I'm scared of, Spike? Me. Right now Glory thinks Tara's the Key. But I'm the Key, Spike. I am. And anything that happens to Tara is 'cause of me. Your bruises, your limp, that's all me too. I'm like a lightning rod for pain and hurt and everyone around me suffers and dies. I must be something so horrible, to cause so much pain and evil,” Dawn ranted angrily.
“Rot!” Spike objected.
“What do you know?” Dawn demanded.
“I'm a vampire. I know a little something about evil. You're not evil,” he assured her.
Dawn snorted. “You’re a vampire in love with the Slayer. How evil could you be?”
Spike pursed his lips. “Evil enough t’ put up with your sister, I am. Ranks pretty high on the evil scale, I reckon.”
Dawn rolled her eyes, but a small smile quirked the corners of her mouth.
“Dawn, you’re not evil,” Spike continued in a serious tone. He stepped in front of her, put both hands on her shoulders, and looked her in the eye. “You’ve been dealt a rotten hand, I’ll give ya that, but your sister loves you more than anything in the world. She’d do anything for ya, and so would I.”
“That’s just it,” Dawn murmured in a low voice. “Everyone has to … do things for me and … everyone’s getting hurt, because of me! I just wish it would … stop.”
“Big sis’ll find a way to stop this Glory chit – it’s what hero-types like her do,” he admonished her. “It’ll work out, you’ll see. We’ll find a way t’ fix it, I promise – and I always keep my promises.”
Dawn snorted her disagreement. “According to Dru, you promised to ‘chop the Slayer into messes,’” Dawn pointed out. “Just haven’t gotten around to that yet, huh? Or are you still waiting for your order of Ginsu knives to come in the mail? Maybe you should get a PO Box; I don’t think the mailman delivers to the cemetery.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, some promises are easier to keep than others, pet. I reckon defeating a hell-god’ll be a might bit easier than chopping the Slayer into messes, yeah?”
Dawn rolled her eyes and sighed.
“It’ll be alright, pet,” he assured her again, his voice conveying more confidence than he actually felt.
Dawn closed her eyes and nodded. Spike pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her in a hug. “I’m so scared,” she admitted, tears choking her words.
“I know, Niblett. Trust me, everything’ll be alright,” he assured her, dropping a kiss on top of her head as she cried against him. “Me and your sis’ll make sure of it. I bloody well promise.”
A day or so later in the RV heading out of town:
“So, we reckon you’re sulking back ‘ere,” Spike announced as he entered the room at the back of the RV that Buffy had commandeered for herself. “We drew straws to see who’d come check on ya. I lost … but I cheated.”
“I’m not sulking,” Buffy defended, then furrowed her brow. “You cheated to … lose?” she asked with disbelief.
“Brilliant, yeah?” Spike asked, perfectly pleased with his diabolical plan to be alone with Buffy.
“I think you’ve missed the whole point of cheating, Spike,” Buffy pointed out. “You’re supposed to cheat in order to win.”
Spike shrugged. “Depends on your definition of ‘winning’, I reckon.”
He stepped in and slid the door closed behind himself. “Stewing then?” he asked, getting back to the original topic.
“Noooo,” Buffy drawled out. “I’m … mulling,” she asserted dourly.
“Mulling is it?” Spike questioned sitting down next to her on the bed. “Mulling over how we could put this lumpy, yet uncomfortable mattress with a view to better use?” Spike wondered, cocking a brow at her suggestively.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I know this will come as a shock and a huge blow to your ego, but no. Actually, I was mulling over the lameness that is me. It’s a fun time. Mulled lameness all around … way better than cider.”
“Oh, a pity party is it? Got hats and streamers, then?” Spike mocked, looking around the small area as if checking for party decorations.
“Was there anything you actually wanted?” Buffy asked him tersely.
“Yeah, there was. You might be used t’ people who love you givin’ you space and lettin’ you wallow in pity, but those days are past, Slayer. I’m not gonna let you shut me out,” Spike asserted, turning to sit sideways on the bed so he was facing her.
“I wasn’t trying to shut you out,” she argued.
“Oh … that’s why you came back ‘ere alone and shut the door. You can see how that would give a bloke the wrong impression, yeah?” Spike pointed out.
Buffy sighed. “I just needed some … time to … think,” she offered.
“Right. Then you won’t mind sharing those thoughts, will ya?” Spike challenged.
Buffy sighed again more heavily. “Fine,” she agreed after a few moments of silence. “I’m the Slayer. That means I should be chasing the bad guys, not running away like a giant scaredy cat. Christ, what kind of superhero runs away?”
“Ones that live t’ fight another day,” Spike offered reassuringly. “‘He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day,’” he quoted.
“Don’t tell me … one of those old Greek guys … ummm … Demosthenes, right?” Buffy guessed, rubbing at her tired eyes.
“Uhhh … well, actually, that was Yosemite Sam,” Spike admitted sheepishly. “Cleaned it up a bit, I did. His version had somethin’ about a yeller bellied something-or-other.”
Buffy looked at him in disbelief. He’d been going for a smile out of her; he didn’t get it. What he’d done instead, apparently, was trod on Buffy’s last nerve. “Oh, that’s great! Why don’t we take some advice from Elmer Fudd next and be ‘vewy, vewy quiet,” Buffy shot back. “Maybe the mean ole wabbit from hell won’t hear us.”
“Well, reckon it couldn’t bloody hurt, could it?” Spike threw back at her. “Seems t’ me like you’ve been back here practicing that since we left Sunnyhell.”
“Yeah, and maybe I’d like to go back to practicing that – alone,” she growled back at him.
“Fine!” Spike snarled, standing up.
“Fine!” Buffy tossed back just as vehemently.
Spike slid the door open harder than he needed to. It banged against its doorstop and slid back halfway closed. He slapped a hand against it, opening it, then changed his mind and slammed it closed again. “No,” he stated flatly, turning back around to face her.
“No?” she repeated, her voice dripping with incredulity.
“No!” he said again. “I’m not leaving. You’re gonna talk to me, we’re gonna make a bloody plan, and we’re gonna save Dawn and the rest of the berks in this traveling freak-show,” he asserted.
“Spike! This is the plan! I got it from Monty Python: Run away! ‘Run away’ is the plan,” Buffy retorted, standing up to face him. They were nearly nose-to-nose in the cramped space.
“You scoffed at my advice from Yosemite Sam, but you got your plan from Monty Python?” he questioned disparagingly.
“Yeah … well … so what if I did?” Buffy snapped back, her hands planted firmly on her hips.
Spike glared at her angrily. “Then I reckon you owe me an apology, Slayer.”
“Owe you…” Buffy began, her voice rising in indignation, but she was cut off when Spike’s lips crashed against hers.
It only took her a moment to react, wrapping her arms around his neck as he encircled her waist and pulled her body against his. Their lips melted against each other, hungry and demanding. Their tongues fought for dominance as each one tried to control the kiss. Spike jerked away slightly when Buffy’s teeth gnashed and she bit down on his bottom lip, drawing blood, but he quickly recovered.
In the next moment, his lips slammed against hers again in a futile attempt to devour her. Suddenly Spike’s jeans seemed to be about four sizes too small; the buttons threatened to burst as all the blood drained from his brain and settled below his belt. For a moment they both forgot about running and hell-gods and Keys. Buffy could feel the darkness in her rise up with lustful yearning and she wanted nothing more than to shove Spike down on the lumpy mattress and ravage him, the rest of the world be damned.
He’d promised to let her touch the darkness, to give her a place to allow it to run free, but he’d been so debilitated by Glory’s interrogation of him that Buffy had held back. Even though he told her to let go, she was afraid of hurting him more. So, during the days he’d spent at her house recuperating, she’d kept her darkness in check – perhaps not as much as she would’ve with someone like Riley, but it had not been set completely free either. Even so, during those days they’d made love many times, and he’d touched that dark place within her that no one else ever had. She’d dipped her toe in the bottomless pool of feral lust, and it made her yearn to dive in head-first and drown in it.
Just when Spike had begun feeling better and had literally gotten back on his feet, Glory had attacked Tara and … everything went to shit. Buffy hadn’t had a moment alone with him since. She dared not leave Dawn alone or with anyone that didn’t have supernatural strength. She couldn’t even allow her to go school or anywhere else that Glory might find her. It was clear that Glory was getting impatient and was going to start picking off Buffy’s friends and family one by one until the hell-god found her Key.
After the attack on Tara, and Willow’s retaliatory strike against Glory, Buffy came up with her brilliant ‘run away’ plan. She’d sent Spike in search of transportation that would allow them to all stick together … strength in numbers and all that. While they waited for Spike to show up, they’d taken refuge in Tara’s dorm room, but that had turned out to be a bad idea. Glory had found them and, at the same time, the hell-god had learned who the Key was. Glory had her full wrath and attention centered on Dawn now and there was nothing Buffy could do to stop her. And so here they were, fleeing like scared mice from a demonic hellcat.
Buffy’s hand went to the front of Spike’s jeans and he gasped against her lips when she pressed her palm against his erection. Spike lifted her up, his hands under the curve of her ass, and deposited her unceremoniously onto the thin, uncomfortable mattress. He fell atop her as he did so, never breaking the kiss, and she began fumbling for his belt.
Just then, the sound of glass shattering and the ‘whoosh’ of something flying past Spike’s head made him look up. He pulled some of the blinds down and gazed out the back window. “Bugger!”
Buffy sat up, pushing him off her, and looked as well, pulling even more of the blinds open. “Shit!” she exclaimed as they both scrambled to their feet.
“Why do I think we haven’t just stumbled into a bloody Renaissance fair?” Spike wondered, fastening his belt back as he watched the horsemen that were chasing and gaining on them. Another arrow zoomed by him and embedded into the wall by his left shoulder – a little too close for comfort.
“Any more sage advice from Yosemite Sam?” Buffy asked Spike sarcastically, flinging the sliding door open.
“Reckon you just show ‘em you’re the rootinest, tootinest, bob-tailed wildcat in the west, pet,” he advised in his best Yosemite Sam impersonation – which wasn't going to win him any acting awards.
Buffy stopped a second and looked back at him. “Wildcat?” she asked softly so none of the others could hear, a small, saucy smile playing on her lips.
Spike drew a finger over the gash in his lip and held it up to her, showing her the blood she’d drawn. “Rottinest, tootinest,” he assured her with a smirk.
Later that night, in the abandoned gas station in the desert:
Spike watched from a distance as Buffy greeted and thanked Ben for coming to their aid. That burning urge to kill the git surged inside him again and Spike had to physically leave the room, afraid that he’d lose control and rip the wanker’s head off. He knew it was irrational. Buffy was with him, Spike, in every way now. She only called the doctor because Giles was gravely injured and needed help. There was no reason for this overwhelming feeling of anger and hatred – but there it was, refusing to subside.
“Sorry, I didn't know who else to call,” Buffy apologized to the brunette as he made his way into the abandoned gas station where they’d taken refuge from the sun, which had been parboiling Spike. Of course, that had been hours ago, after the Knights of Byzantium had succeeded in impaling Giles on a javelin and flipping the RV. Now it was dark and safe for Spike, but they were surrounded by the Knights who demanded that the Key be destroyed. Willow had put up a magical protection barrier, but there was no guarantee how long that would last. The Knights had agreed to allow a doctor in to help Giles, who was gravely injured.
“It's okay. I mean yeah, not how I pictured seeing you again, but ah, I'll take what I can get,” Ben replied sheepishly.
Spike rolled his eyes and slipped into the mechanic’s bay where their prisoner, General Gregor, was being held. He pulled a cigarette out, hoping for a little relief from his anxiety, but his hands were cut too badly from that idiotic stunt with sword earlier in the RV to light it. To Spike’s shock, Xander came over, took the lighter from his hands, and clicked it for Spike. Spike hesitated for a moment, not sure if Xander was going to use it to set him on fire, but finally leaned in and accepted the light, inhaling the nicotine deeply. He hoped it would calm the murderous rage that stormed within him for the doc – it didn’t really seem to help.
“Ta ever so,” Spike drawled, taking the lighter back from Xander and shoving it down into the pocket of his jeans.
Xander shrugged. “Did I mention today how much I don't like you?”
“You mighta let it slip in... once or twice,” Spike admitted. “Not sure what more I can do t’ convince you that I’m on your bloody side in this.”
“Actually, I think you’re on Buffy’s side – not mine,” Xander pointed out. “But, since I’m on her side too … I guess that makes you on my side by default.”
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Spike summarized.
“You watch ‘Invader Zim’? Didn’t know you could get Nickelodeon in your crypt.”
Spike cocked a brow at him. “It’s a proverb, you dolt, not from a soddin’ kid’s show,” Spike explained, rolling his eyes. "You really don't get out much, do ya, Special Ed?"
“Whatever,” Xander muttered. “So … Buffy doesn’t seem to have a real plan.”
Spike nodded and took another drag of his cigarette. “I reckon her plan got a bit … sideswiped by that Renaissance Fair. We need to get the bloody hell outta here. Won’t be long ‘fore they kick the bloody doors in.”
“Not like we got much of a choice,” Xander pointed out.
“We make a break for it! Use General Armor-all as shield, get to the doc's car and...”
“Great plan, Spike, and while all the hacking and slashing is going on, what are you gonna be doing, huh? Throwing migraines at them?” Xander scoffed.
“Look, we stay here, we all die! At least some of us might get away. You and Demon-girl can distract ‘em while me and Red get Buffy and Dawn outta here. Once we’re gone, it’s doubtful King Arthur will hurt you lot.”
“Oh, right! You’re out of your mind if you think I’m gonna let you go off with Buffy and leave the rest of us here!” Xander shot back scathingly.
“Fine – you go, I’ll stay ‘ere!” Spike offered.
“I’m not leaving Anya … and I know Willow would never leave Tara,” Xander continued to object.
“You don’t bloody get it, Harris. If we all stay, we’re all gonna die!” Spike growled at him.
“No!” Buffy objected, walking into the room. “We're all gonna make it. I'm not losing anyone,” she asserted, looking pointedly at Spike.
“Buffy, please, luv, listen to reason,” he begged, stepping forward towards her. “You and Dawn can make it out. The rest of us don’t matter.”
“Hey, Evil Dead! Speak for yourself! You might not matter, but the rest of us kinda like our skin in one piece, not slashed into ribbons and poked full of holes,” Xander objected from behind Spike.
Buffy looked at Spike resolutely. “Xander’s half-right. Everyone matters. And everyone will make it.”
Spike held her gaze for several long moments, partly in defiance and partly in awe – a mixture of wonderment and dread, then nodded and looked away.
“Go … see if anyone needs anything,” Buffy directed Spike and Xander, inclining her head back towards the other room.
Spike looked between her and their captive, General Gregor, his brows furrowed. “You sure, pet?”
Buffy nodded. “Time to see just what I’m made of,” she assured him. “Go on …” she urged again, casting a glance at the door.
Spike nodded again, turned and followed Xander out of the room, leaving Buffy alone with their prisoner.
Spike stood not too far from the door of the mechanic’s bay, close enough to listen to Buffy and Gregor talking…
“What do you know of the Beast?” the General asked Buffy.
“Strong. Fast. Hell-god,” Buffy replied matter-of-factly.
“From a dimension of unspeakable torment,” Gregor added.
“A demon dimension, I know. She ruled with two other hell-gods, right?” Buffy offered.
“Along with the beast, they were a triumvirate of suffering and despair, ruling with equal vengeance. But the Beast's power grew beyond even what they could conceive. As did her lust for pain and misery. They looked upon her, what she had become, and trembled,” the General supplied.
“A god afraid?” Buffy asked disbelievingly.
“Such was her power. They feared she would attempt to seize their dimension for herself, and decided to strike first. A battle erupted. In the end they stood victorious over the Beast. She was cast out, banished to this lower plane of existence. Forced to live and eventually die, trapped within the body of mortal. A newborn male, created as her prison. That is the beast's only weakness,” Gregor divulged.
“Kill the man, and the god dies,” Buffy concluded.
Gregor nodded. “Unfortunately, the identity of the human vessel has never been discovered,” the General agreed.
Spike furrowed his brow and looked around; something in his gut twisted uncomfortably. His eyes settled on the doc who was tending to Giles. Ben was rummaging round in his doctor's bag, looking for something, oblivious to Spike's steely gaze. The impulse to kill the brunette raged in Spike’s chest and roiled in his stomach. The urge to kill Ben was stronger, more insistent, than anything he'd ever felt before, even at his most evil. He could hear a voice in his head urging him to do just that. Kill Ben, he’s ... Then he heard Dawn’s forlorn voice coming from the room with Buffy, asking Gregor about the Key – about her. The fear and frailty in her voice cut Spike's heart and he had to force himself to walk away – walk away from the Niblett’s utter desperation.
Spike tried to calm himself down by looking out one of the windows and trying to focus on their predicament. They were surrounded. Mutt and Jeff, the two clerics, were working on bringing Red’s magical barrier down. Heaven only knew how long before they succeeded. When that happened, they were done for – the Knights would overrun them. Spike sighed and rubbed his eyes, unable to come up with any plan to get them out of this mess. If Buffy would only listen to him: take the doc’s car and run while Spike and the others created a diversion. That was the problem with heroes: they always want to save everyone. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Buffy said it to him before: they weren’t all gonna make it. Why couldn’t she see that now was the time to make that call? The only thing that mattered was that she and Dawn got away. He’d be no help fighting the Knights, but Red would … even Harris could do more than Spike against them. Buffy should take those two and Dawn and go.
Spike sighed and shook his head. Buffy was not gonna do that, he knew it. Spike turned back around and his eyes were once again drawn to the brunette doctor. Ben was working on Giles again, giving him a pain killer or something. Spike thought he’d gotten his murderous rage towards the man under control, but the minute he looked at the young doctor, it rose back to boil again in an instant. He clenched his jaw and tried to push it down, but it was not budging. The anger seethed inside him, boiling up from an unknown source deep inside. It was unrelenting and he had to fight just to keep his demon down – the longer he looked at Ben, the harder that normally routine task became. He watched as Dawn came out of the other room where she’d been talking to Buffy and Gregor, and walked up to Ben and Giles. Seeing Ben that close to Dawn made every shred of restraint Spike had left evaporate instantly. Spike could feel his demon rise and didn't even try to stop it. Every cell in his body was intent on a mission. Protect Dawn. Kill Ben.
Spike roared and hurled himself across the space towards the doctor. Ben and Dawn, who were standing side-by-side, both shrieked in surprise. Tara, who Willow was trying to get to eat, screamed and thrashed, frightened by the sudden movement and noise. Xander and Anya looked around to see what was happening. They were all too far away to stop Spike or help Ben. Spike let his demonic instincts take over; he done this hundreds … thousands of times. Kill. Devour. Destroy.
Spike had barely touched Ben when the chip fired. He screamed out and clutched at his head, but pressed on. When his fangs sank into Ben’s neck, the chip sent white-hot bolts of excruciating pain out from the center of his brain. His screams of agony were muffled by his mouth against the doctor’s flesh. He bit down harder and the bolts of anguish became constant, debilitating streams of electrical current. His whole body began to convulse. His legs began to quiver with the pain and his arms and hands trembled violently.
Then someone was yanking on his arm and screeching his name in a high-pitched yowl which was much too close to his ear. The sound sliced into his pain-ravaged brain and Spike struck out at it to get the sound to stop. He hit Dawn with a powerful blow, backhanding her across the face and sending her flying across the room. She landed with a deafening thud against the farthest wall and slumped to the floor.
He heard more people screaming his name and Buffy’s, but he couldn’t focus on them. The chip had sent a new, even more violent, wave of white-hot bolts of agony out when he’d hit Dawn. Nausea washed over him, his whole body quaked in torturous anguish, but still he persisted in his attack on Ben. He could taste blood and he suddenly realized that it wasn’t human, or not 100% human. There was something more to it; something sour and astringent, something demonic.
He’d no sooner realized this and started to wonder why his chip was firing, when someone else was screaming at him to stop. He had no energy to resist as he felt himself being flung back away from Ben. He couldn’t see anything but blinding bursts of brilliant light exploding in front of his eyes like supernovas. He could no longer make out any individual voice in the chorus of panicked screams; his brain was being bombarded with too many signals of pain to be able to process them. Then he heard Buffy’s anguished and angry voice cursing and calling his name. It was the last thing he remembered before his head seemed to split in two and everything went dark.
“Spike! Wake up!” someone was demanding of him. He felt cool water being splashed on his face and felt someone shaking him. Every movement made his head pound like a jackhammer. He put a hand up to stop them – or he thought he did, but neither the shaking nor the yelling stopped. He finally managed to force his eyes open just a crack and saw Buffy in front of him – she was the one shaking and demanding he wake up.
“Stop,” he rasped out – he’d meant it to be a demand, but it was more of a plea.
To his utter relief, she heard him and stopped. He had no idea how long he’d been out – it could’ve been a year for all he knew. As he slowly looked around, it was clear that it had been only a few minutes at most. Xander was standing behind Buffy, a stake in his hand, looking at him with absolute hatred. Off to one side of the room, Willow was trying to help Dawn sit up, and on the other side of the room, Anya was trying to staunch Ben’s bleeding.
“Spike,” Buffy began more softly. “What the hell happened? What … why did you attack Ben?”
Spike shook his head. He really didn’t know why – not for certain. “Not human…” he managed to croak out through the pain.
“He’s lost it!” Xander accused, pointing the stake menacingly at Spike. “See? I told you! We can’t trust him! Of course you’re not human! Once an evil vampire, always an evil vampire.”
“Shut up, Xander,” Buffy growled up at him as she knelt in front of Spike. “Spike – why? What happened?”
Spike shook his head again. “Protect … you and … Dawn,” he tried to explain.
“Oh, well good job with that!” Xander exclaimed. “You broke Dawn’s jaw! You could’ve killed her!”
Buffy clenched her teeth together and looked at Dawn. She didn’t think her sister's jaw was actually broken, but one side of Dawn’s face was swelling and turning black-and-blue very quickly.
“From Ben?” Buffy asked, confused. She looked around at Ben, who now had a hand clamped over the bite on his neck and appeared to be pretty much frightened to death. She looked back at Spike. “What did Ben do? Did he hurt Dawn?”
Spike shook his head slowly. He tried to speak, but nothing came out but a small grunt.
“Then … what … what is it?” she asked, perplexed. Then something dawned on her and a hot, angry fire bloomed in her gut. “You can’t possibly still be jealous of him … can you? Seriously, Spike? Is that what this is?”
Spike began to shake his head in vehement denial, but the jackhammer pounding against his skull multiplied into a full-fledged choir of construction equipment in his head, all with their own, unique tone and cadence, and all much too enthusiastic.
“This is just the thing I’ve been trying to warn you about, Buffy! You can’t trust Spike! He just went Rambo on Ben for no good reason and Dawn got caught in the cross-fire! Who knows what he’ll do next!” Xander continued to rant.
Buffy sighed, trying to ignore Xander. “Spike … why? Because I called him to help us? Giles needed help. I didn’t know who else to call.”
“Don’t trust…demon,” Spike ground out through the pain.
“Well, that’s the most sensible thing you’ve said yet, Captain Peroxide! We shouldn’t trust the demon!” Xander continued to rage from behind Buffy. "Wow! What a concept!"
“You don’t trust him or you don’t trust me?” Buffy demanded, as the anger and frustration of the entire day, the entire month, grew. “Christ, Spike. Don’t you think we have enough going on without you going all Othello on me?! I sooo don’t need this crap from you!”
“Didn’t…” Spike continued to object, but the pain, which wasn’t just in his head but radiating down his spine and into his limbs and torso, kept him from finishing. He took deep breaths and closed his eyes again, leaning back against a wall and trying to get the pain to stop so he could explain.
“You’re supposed to be helping me protect Dawn and instead I come out to find you backhanding her across the face and sending her flying through the air! I really don’t need this! I can’t fight Glory, these Round Table guys, and you too! I need your help! Not … not …” Buffy’s voice cracked and her throat closed up with painful emotions.
Buffy stared him, furious and fearful, as all her friends watched her. She closed her eyes and tried to swallow back the tears and hurt. How could she have been so wrong about Spike? She thought … she thought he was her perfect match, but was this how it would be? She couldn’t talk to another guy without Spike going ballistic with jealousy? How could he love her if he didn’t trust her? Didn’t that go hand in hand? Did he not believe her when she told him that she loved him? God, she soooo didn’t need this right now. If one more thing got piled on top of her she felt like she would simply crumble into dust beneath the weight of it.
She was used to carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, but she’d let herself think that now she might actually have someone to help her shoulder the burden and he was … what? A jealous psychopath? One of those people who see illicit affairs and lies with every innocent encounter? How could she be soooo fucking bad at relationships? How could she have misjudged him so badly? Was Xander right? Had she been delusional and a slave to her hormones?
Dawn was crying and moaning in pain as Willow tried to help her and check her all over for injuries. Buffy was supposed to be keeping Dawn safe. She’d trusted Spike to help her and instead he’d attacked Dawn. Buffy felt like she was barely hanging on by a thread, and it was unraveling at an alarming rate.
Willow touched Dawn’s jaw, trying to see if it was, in fact, broken and Dawn shrieked in pain. At that moment, the frazzled thread of sanity inside Buffy snapped. All the fear, anger, and frustration she’d been living with for months came pouring out and landed squarely atop Spike.
Considering how furious she was, her voice was surprisingly even, deadly calm, when she spoke again. “I trusted you, and this is how you repay me. I can’t believe how stupid I was or how goddamned selfish you are. I fucking hate you,” she choked out. She fought hard to keep the hurt and barely repressed tears out of her tone. “If we get out of this, I never want to see you again. Don’t even think about coming in my house ever again, in fact, if you want to keep walking around undusty, you need to leave Sunnydale – permanently,” she growled, trying to keep her voice from cracking.
Buffy blinked back her emotions and clenched her jaw, swallowing hard, as she stood up, leaving Spike sprawled on the floor where she’d thrown him off Ben. She was sure he’d heard her; he’d winced at the words as if she’d slapped him. Her heart felt like a lead weight had been tossed into it. How could she have been so stupid to trust another vampire? How had she allowed herself to actually let herself fall in love so completely?
Buffy turned around to find Ben staring at her with wide eyes. His shirt was stained with blood which had dripped down from Spike’s bite. It had been surprisingly deep, all things considered. Buffy didn’t think the chip would’ve let Spike go that far. That was just another worry to add to her pile: was Spike’s chip malfunctioning? Would she be forced to dust him? She couldn’t bring herself to consider it in that moment, it was too much.
“You have to let me out!” Ben exclaimed suddenly, absolutely terror washing over his face.
“Ben, it’s alright – he won’t…” Buffy began to assure him.
“No! You don’t understand! You have to let me out now!” he insisted, running towards the door.
Spike forced his eyes open, trying again to explain his actions to Buffy; he needed to make her understand about Ben’s blood. Spike began to struggle up to his feet as Ben shrieked and demanded to be let out.
“Ok … alright,” Buffy agreed, trying to calm the doctor. “Spike! Sit back down!” she ordered, thinking that Spike’s movement was what was freaking Ben out. “Wills, open a door,” Buffy continued when suddenly, unbelievably, Glory appeared in front of them.
“Well, whaddaya know? Little Ben finally did something right,” Glory purred in delight.
Spike’s legs gave way and fell back onto his ass, his back against the wall. He watched in helpless horror as Glory easily smacked Buffy away, taking Willow down as well, then grabbed Dawn and fled. Buffy ran after her, screaming her sister’s name into the dark, desert night. By the time Spike got up and stumbled outside on shaky legs, Glory and Dawn were gone and the entire Renaissance Fair had been slaughtered. Spike dropped to his knees, unable to stand up even one second longer as the residual pain that still radiated out from the chip made him weak and disoriented.
He had failed. He’d promised to keep Dawn safe and he’d failed – he’d done worse than fail, he’d actually hurt her himself. Buffy hated him and she should. He wasn’t a man and couldn’t even be a proper monster. He was useless. He was nothing. He had gone into the Initiative as Cujo and come out as a lapdog. Worse: he’d come out as a stuffed Snoopy-dog. Even lapdogs could still bite.
Spike fell to his side in the now cooled desert sand and held his throbbing head in his hands. Tears leaked from his eyes, but he didn’t care who saw. He was a git. A stuffed, Snoopy-dog git. He closed his eyes against the pain that still roared inside his mind and body, unable to move and praying for unconsciousness. Buffy held his life in the palm of her hand; he hoped she would just leave him there in the desert to dust. It would be a fitting end to his pathetic life.
Next: The return to Sunnydale and the search for Dawn and Glory. When Buffy's mind gets caught in a loop of guilt, will the Scoobies make the decision on their own to leave Spike in the desert to dust?
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