|Offers You Can't Refuse
Author: sweetprincipale PM
Late S.3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by a deranged Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? Someone makes Spike an offer he can't refuse- but not what you'd expect.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Buffy S. & Spike - Chapters: 33 - Words: 269,863 - Reviews: 846 - Favs: 116 - Follows: 114 - Updated: 02-21-13 - Published: 10-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8625858
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Offers You Can't Refuse
Late S. 3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by the corrupt Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? If the motivation is right, Spike will do anything to help the woman he loves.
Author's Note: A short chapter, because I know people were getting impatient. Beginning to wrap it up folks. Two or three chapters left after that, and maybe an epilogue with some of our side stories getting wrapped up, if people would enjoy that.
Author's Second Note: Repeated promise: Unknown will have chapters again soon, I promise. This little story was supposed to be a two week quickie. Ha. I'm very bad at curbing my muse, but apparently no one minds! Don't worry though, none of my stories are abandoned.
Dedicated to: Skeezixx, Ginar369, Alexiarrose, Sirius120, Jewel74, The Three March Hares, micmoc, Embers and Flames, Omslagspapper, Rosalea12, Touch the Dark, hbmckidd, ValidescopeWest, Rachel, Alottalove, Cavementftw, ammuna, Seapea, Maire Ailbhe, Illusera, ShyL, mike13z50, Loverswalk89, Suzanne, KittenofDoomage, darkeyesgirl, LunaML, Traveler07, RedEclipedTwilight, CrazyforSpike, PeaceHeather, CailinRua, Kizzydg, Neinka, Jedi Steelwolf, cosmiclove, Haleycc, Slayergirl, shadowcat802, Bamboo Angel, jazzyjizzle1994, Treadingthedark, Loveisrealand4eva, kerry220, Clara Johnson, and sbyamibakura.
Holy WOW! I think this may be a record of reviews for a chapter. If you could see me, I am doing a deeply humble and grateful nod to all of you.
Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
Collins stifled a cry and kicked out at the vampire holding his forearm in an iron grip. His foot swished harmlessly past its target, but the vampire didn't take kindly to the attempt. This is it. Not how I figured I'd go. Collins winced as the room spun, and he saw burning eyes, then a petite form, and then froze as the creature held him from behind. Any minute, a plunge of fang and -
Spike hammered his elbow into the back of the twisting man, hitting him smartly at the base of the neck. Collins fell in a heap.
"Please tell me you did't just kill the evidence?" Buffy hissed worriedly, rushing over to them.
"Nope. Jus' keepin' it still for a minute." He hauled the hit man back up and jerked his head towards the kitchen. "Get me a chair, Slayer."
Spike tore the weapons off of Collins systematically, frisking him and removing his belt and shoes, finding loaded holster, knives, and stakes concealed everywhere.
"Holy arsenal." Buffy hit the living room lights and shook her head as she looked at the pile. "Dude, he has to teach me how to accessorize." She let Spike scoop the groaning figure into the chair and collected up the scattering of weapons.
"Don't think we have time to trade fashion tips. I want him to talk and then I want to-"
Eyes met over the slumped figure. "Want to what?" Buffy asked softly.
Spike growled. "He almost killed you."
"Something we all have in common." Buffy whispered bitterly. She turned away abruptly fighting the dark thoughts that bubbled so effortlessly to the surface. "I'm going to find that rope..."
Spike watched her glide off, an absent frown of concentration on her face. Drifting. He gave a savage back handed fist to the fluttering eyes of their prisoner, making him careen forward in the chair, out cold again. "Sit tight." Spike muttered as he jerked the unconscious figure back in place, then followed her.
"How you doin'?" Spike slid behind her. She was coiling rope slowly up into her arms. He noticed her hands unknowingly lingered over the frayed spots she'd made with her own struggles, breaking the skin on her wrists, fraying the rope on the chair.
"I'm fine. Now. No thanks to him." Buffy let the rope go taut in her hands.
"Nope." Spike's fangs poked his inner gums, making his lips snarl and prickle. "Scum. World's rubbish enough, Luv, we don't -"
Buffy turned to him suddenly and looked at him with wide, helpless eyes. "That thing that I told you about? The normal girl part? That tells me to get a grip, not to go Slay-gal on every jerk who cuts in front of me in line or insults my wardrobe? Or just reminds me to keep what I am a secret? I don't think I have it anymore. Because I- I understand what it's like- to suddenly want to hurt someone. More than hurt someone. Not to save anyone. Just because it would- just because." Buffy stilled her shaking voice and thrust the rope away from herself, into his hands.
It was tempting. To know everyone has a seed of darkness, even her, and that together they could revel in it if she ever let it bloom... His demon gave a gleeful shiver. He snapped at it to stay down inside his head. "You know how you've got the urge?" Spike kept his face cooly blank.
"Not- all the time, just when I see him sitting there, and I was sitting there just this morning... tied up and I didn't even know why... or what was happening." She coughed and sniffed in, bile suddenly tickling the back of her throat. "Sorry. Stupid of me. I'm still a little loopy after the-"
He interrupted in a slick voice, undercutting all the apology and self-doubt. "That urge you have? This was a man tryin' to murder you. No one feels all sunny and sweet when they face that part you say you're missing? You still have it, Buffy. You'd have snapped his neck like a twig the second you saw him if you didn't have all those dark instincts under control. An' I like her like she is. She's a night creature, like me, but a good one. I don't need her to go dark, I'm dark enough for two. "The Slayer side doesn't turn you into a killer, that thing you're afraid of. An' the normal side doesn't hold you back. You're not made up of bits and pieces like some puzzle they can take apart." That's why it was so wrong to see her fractured. She was finally whole, jus' Slayer. Mine. With Dru I wanted to take away parts an' add back in, make a new person. I jus' wanted to keep this girl the same.
Buffy nodded slowly, feeling the bleakness inside seep away. "I'm just me." Like he's just Spike. Vampire and human. Yeah, he's got times when one stands out more than the other, but he is never anything but Spike.
"Bloody right, just you, it's all you. Well, with a little assistance." Spike gave a dazzling, not at all wholesome smile that made her shake her head and laugh once. He lost the smile, looking at her. "You're the one with all the power. An' it's all yours, Slayer. You're gonna do good, no matter what rules you break or how you play the game." He cast a disgusted look at Travers' henchman, "An' no matter who you play for. Good is just what you do."
She felt stronger than she had in days, just from his words. "For a bad guy, you give an awesome pep talk."
"I can be very motivating." He preened. "Speaking of which-" they turned together, facing Collins, who slowly stirred, "ready to do a little not-so-friendly encouragin'?"
"Nothing permanent, okay?" Buffy walked with him, two wolves walking towards their wounded prey.
"You take all the fun out of things, Slayer." Spike groused.
"If we ever have to get information out of an evil demon, not out of a human we need to testify, you can break stuff, okay?"
"Relationships are all about compromise." Spike sighed dramatically. Then his eyes lit up. "But he doesn't have to know we're playin' nice, does he?"
Buffy pinched herself. Yep. Awake. Real conversation. "Spike... I told you, I can't turn into someone who-"
He bent his head to hers, lips against her ear, "Just watch me. Rookie."
Cold water made him gasp, and he blinked painfully as it rained over him. He instinctively went to wipe his face and found his wrists tied to tourniquet tightness behind him. With a jerk of his head, he looked up to see where he was and who had done this. "William the Bloody." Collins said in disgust, but with no obvious hints of fear.
"I'd be careful how you speak to me." Spike sat in a chair across from him now, an empty glass on his knee. "I wanted to drain you dry. I'm only bein' nice because of her." He jerked his head towards Buffy, who hovered by the fireplace.
"Why don't you? Go ahead." Collins asked through thinned lips.
"Because we need you to talk." Buffy called.
"Slayer! My turn." Spike hissed with a frown.
"Sorry, sorry, geez. Does not play well with others." Buffy mumbled to herself.
"Slayer? That's a laugh. You're not worthy of your title. Go on and kill me, you won't get Council secrets out of me." Collins set his lips obstinately and lowered his head.
Spike and Buffy stared at each other. "Not interested in secrets, mate." Spike calmly kicked Collins' chair over, the man tied to it crashing back, staring at the ceiling, and then at a crouching figure over him. "But an apology might be nice." He added pointedly.
"Apology?" Now Collins looked puzzled.
"I don't know if they forgot to teach this in Watcher school, but poisoning people isn't nice." Buffy's voice joined them.
"I'll never apologize for doing my duty. It's a concept you Americans are strangely lacking in." Collins closed his eyes.
"Duty? Spike, sit him up."
"Seriously, sit him up."
"Women." Spike grabbed Collins by the throat and unceremoniously dragged the chair upright by its occupant.
"Travers told you to kill me. We know that. We just need you to tell the rest of the Council that."
Collins said nothing. You have to do that. You say nothing. They get no information out of you. My duty, unlike hers, is to the Watcher's Council, the governing force of good in this demon infested world.
They'd trained themselves to kill and die. Oh not, all of them. The suits, they were trained to read prophecies and pray to be given a potential slayer to keep track of. In wet works, you do the ugly jobs. Living. Dying. All in a day's work. Ninety nine times of the hundred, he'd pulled the trigger, and as every man in "Threat Removal" knows, that one time last- someone pulls the trigger on you.
"He's not listenin' to anything you say." Spike stopped Buffy as she was continued explaining.
"What? He's three feet away. How can he not be listening?" Buffy came closer an indignant frown on her face.
"He's not a caring, sharing type. He's all death and orders." Spike sized him up. "The only thing that's going to get a reaction out of him is pain."
Spike vamped and reached under Collins' chin. "Your boss made me the same offer I'm making you. Die or take a phone call."
Collins blinked at the amber eyes. Demons lie. So the phrase had been said with such easy confidence, such a simple, factual ring to it. But demons lie. "I keep telling you. You can kill me if you like. Do it now. Get it done with."
Buffy strode over and glared at Collins, and Spike for that matter, until he backed away a few paces.
"I don't wanna kill you." Buffy leaned down and looked deep into his eyes. "You didn't kill me... you did try though."
Collins stared stonily at her.
Spike stayed cool with a valiant effort. Something about the implied disrespect for Buffy, Buffy who would have every right to slit his throat and wasn't doing it because of that bloody annoying- but still sort of beautiful-inner goodness...
"I wanna kill you." Spike raised his hand, "But she won't let me. Some nonsense about bein' good." He huffed. "Slayer, undead is sort of a compromise, init?"
"No!" Buffy shouted in exasperation.
"But he could still talk! He'd have all his memories. We do you know. We just like a different diet." Spike vamped once more, and licked his lips.
"Spike, what the hell are you-" Buffy began to hiss, looking genuinely upset. Spike jerked his head pointedly past her, and then disguised it by rolling out his shoulders, as if limbering up.
Collins looked suddenly alert and interested, no longer resolutely detached. "You can kill me but you'll never turn me." He said insistently. "I've been can resist! The body you may kill, but the -"
"Oh, save it." Spike pushed past Buffy with a rumble in his voice, a hungry, deadly sound. "All of them think that. But then... you feel your heartbeat stopping. Slowly dragging... the world falling away. You know... all the sudden you're sure... you're dying."
Behind him, Buffy shuddered. She'd had that feeling. The same feeling, prolonged, hours of feeling herself dying inside...
Spike continued, circling, his fingers with their few black chips left on them moving the air an inch from Collins' shoulders and neck. "You suddenly know what it's like, to be on the other side of the bullet, everything is getting cold..." The hit man flinched though no hand touched him. "You hear a voice offering you a safety net, a chance to live like you've never lived before, if you just . take. one. drink..." Fangs clicked audibly over the sound of rasping breath.
Buffy looked at their captive's face. Set and hard. But the eyes- they were mirrors of her own. We're not afraid of vampires. We're afraid of becoming them. We're not afraid of evil, but turning into something that is. She was about to beg Spike to stop, fears of her remembered dreams unsettling her as badly as fears of things imagined were affecting Collins, but he beat her to it.
"- wake up the next day, you'll be loyal to your Sire." He stopped abruptly, a bitter laugh breaking the threatening tone. "Almost impossibly devoted to 'em, in fact." Buffy met his eyes, and swallowed. "You'll tell me everything I ever wanted to know." And then I'll stake you. Because you'll still deserve it. An' then she'll never look at me the same, because she wanted to save you.
Three intensely uncomfortable players had a half second of silence on their unlikely stage.
The brunette gathered up his courage. "You can't make me drink. I'm not afraid like the other helpless ones you've fed on. I'll never be one of you." Collins spat at the beast and his human mate.
Buffy moved slowly, crossing in front of Spike, and pulling him away. Shoulders rising and falling rapidly, staring at Collins with pure hatred, he followed her numbly, letting her take over as she whispered, "Tag. I'm it."
Collins couldn't see her, turned as he was, but he could hear rustling. In a moment she returned, something behind her back.
"I get it. I do." Buffy nodded. "Dying- yeah, it's something that's gonna happen to you if you keep doing dangerous things. Dying we can handle. I agree with you... except about one thing."
She waited, but she was much mistaken if he'd play along, ask her what that one thing was. She didn't seem to mind that he wouldn't answer, just gave him a small, hard smile.
"Can't make you drink, huh?" Buffy pulled the carton of milk, poisoned milk, meant for her, from behind her back, and watched his eyes go wide. "That's right. I know what you've been feeding me, and where you put it. Future reference- if you want to add something to my milk, I like a couple shots of Hershey's and that's it."
Collins was trained to kill and die. Not to go mad. Or be afraid. He lived in a carefully created mindset that didn't allow for much whimsy or fear. To be forcefully subjected to both...
"Another tip, mate." Spike lit up in the corner, watching her lead the dance, "If you're gonna bring a bomb with you, make sure you get away before the blast. Want me to get you a glass, Luv?"
"No... I don't think he needs a whole glass." Buffy shook the container, making sure the poison was running throughout, and trying to resist the urge to fling it into the fireplace and run. She never wanted to be near the horrible fright inducing, deadly drug again.
"You won't get me to talk." Collins whispered.
"Okay." Buffy shrugged. "I can deal. No, really." She looked at Spike with another shrug, albeit a bluffing one, "So you don't talk. You don't provide any information to the rest of the Watcher's Council, telling them Travers hired you and sent you out here to kill me. Like you said, I'm not all about the 'duty'. This can be payback." She swirled the container again. "I took a drink. A lot of drinks. A couple days' worth in fact. And now it's your turn."
The little pulse of fear that had usually been her signal to stop, to run, throbbed once, and then was smoothly steamrolled. I will win. I will get what I need and this battle will be over. Her trembling hands stopped shaking, and she slowly, deliberately began to press the cardboard spout forward, starting to open it.
Collins made a noise, sitting rigid, inches from her. In the background, Spike also sat tense. One spill, or if he got free somehow, shoved it towards her face and it splashed, if Buffy got any in her system somehow... He flexed his hands nervously and dragged his cig down to the filter, the only way he could stop himself from running over and grabbing it from her hands, flinging it out the door, letting it soak into the earth.
"Not even a sip? A little drop? Pour it straight down your throat." Buffy's voice became almost sultry, as she edged closer to the man on the chair. "Even if you spit it out, I bet some would get down."
Both Collins and the vampire watched her, mesmerized, though for very different reasons.
"Once it's in you... down there...floating around your system..." Buffy punctuated her threat with long pauses, each pause being used to run a nail along the cardboard seams, popping them open, each split another step closer to making her threat a reality.
Collins swallowed convulsively as she leaned close, and rose. His head instinctively followed her, looking up to find her poised above him, watching sweat bead on his brow.
"Once it's in your brain- you just wish you were dead." She started to tilt the container forward.
"Wait." Collins bowed his head and spoke through clenched teeth.
Buffy exhaled through a narrow opening in her mouth. Thank God. She unsteadily sat the carton down, in time to hear a low growling moan, stopped her in mid- regroup. Spike stood off to the side, absolutely ravenous looking.
"Spike!" Buffy hissed, quick stepping over to him. Collins visibly sagged even further down in the chair, chest heaving. "Again with the 'what the heck' ? I'm doing good!"
"Brilliantly good!" He hissed back. "You're just so bloody hot when you're a little bit bad." He felt his zipper pressing into him as his crotch became painfully tight.
"That's sick. And you're ruining my threatening." Buffy scolded, but she blushed. "Tense moment here. You shouldn't think stuff like that."
"All of this has been 'tense'." He rubbed against her. Even when in the thick of it, he'd always enjoyed when they were working together, the heat, that little bit of primal, that little bit of lethal. Which wasn't bad, it was simply them. "It's not bad if he's the bad guy. It's powerful. My girl. Unstoppable." Spike ran his hands covetously down her sides.
"I'm kind of being stopped now." Buffy pointed out, breathing turning shallow as his hands found the sides of her breasts.
"Right. " Spike reluctantly let her go."I was scared as hell for a minute but- you're doin' me proud, Slayer. Go back and make him spill his guts, Luv."
"Um. Disturbed and flattered. Um." She shook her head to clear it. "Okay, you stay there and try not to- hm- spill anything else." She left the threshold of the hall and went back to their unwilling visitor.
Collins looked up warily, guiltily, ashamed for even considering listening to her. Yet, he asked, "What do you want me to do, exactly?"
"Tell the Council Travers asked you to come kill me. He did, didn't he?"
Guilt felt a little relief in righteous anger. "Why shouldn't he? You've traded sides, you and Lehane, both of you turning to demons." He jerked his head at Spike, then glared back at her from under creased brows. "You ought to be in the ground for that."
Spike stormed over. "She fought the good fight like you've never seen, and I bloody well know, I've watched her do it from both sides of the bloody battlefield!"
"Bite me or back up." Collins spat, baiting him on purpose.
"Option A." Spike vamped and snapped his fangs closed millimeters from his jugular, making Buffy gasp "No!" and Collins grunt like a frightened horse, though he didn't pull away. "See?" Spike rocked back on his heels. "She still wants to save your sorry little life, even though you're the one who drove her mad, pushed her right to the edge of the grave, hurt her like nothin' ever hurts anyone, hurts all the people around who her, who love her..." He pulled back, he had to, shuddering as he seemed to see her milky eyes afresh in his mind. "Travers asked me to put her down. Over a month ago now. I'm the turncoat. Not her." Spike put his arm around her protectively.
Collins blinked, looked between them. No. No. This is why you never listen to anything they have to say. Demons lie to get what they want, and a demon's mate is just as bad.
But all they want is for me to tell the truth. Travers asked me to kill her.
To kill her, but say nothing about it. All the turmoil and the stress and the demoralization of an already demoralized group of Watchers, people who'd witnessed the disgrace of two in their ranks, the corruption of one slayer, and the rebelliousness of the other. He had good reasons.
I had good reasons to trust him. I must've.
"Why would you help her, instead of take the job, if that's true? You're the Slayer of Slayers." Collins demanded with a bruised sneer.
"Funny story." Spike sneered back. "I hate people who throw away the best thing that ever fell in their laps. Got tired of her 'not obeyin' orders', did he? Didn't like that when he said 'jump' she said 'piss off an' let me kill somethin' evil', instead of a cheery little 'how high?'. No, he wanted a grunt an' he got one of those annoying independent types." Spike watched Collins' eyes twitch in a split second of uncertainty. "Sounds like him, doesn't it?" Collins said nothing. "Did you ask him why? Did he let you?" Spike laughed and spun, arms out, inviting him to set the record straight. "Did he tell you not to call until it was done? Tell you to make it look like an accident, did he give you anything concrete, did he-"
"I know my job!" Collins burst out finally.
"And I know mine!" Buffy inserted herself between the yelling figures. "I save people. I don't care how! I just- do whatever I have to do." She looked at Spike. "With whoever I have to."
Another silent war. Demons lie. She lies. She has every reason to make me think she's on our side- only if she's got all the power now, and she has, he twisted his wrists, and only succeeded in removing a layer of skin, she properly has, what game could they be playing?
"We don't have all night. I've been away from home for like- ever." Buffy crossed her arms. "You talk, they bust Travers, I hit the mall."
Spike put his head in his hand and sighed. Still an airhead sometimes.
What happens after I talk? They'll kill me. So what if Travers made a command decision, it's what he does. Things don't add up, anyway. If Travers asked the vampire, he'd never have asked me as well. That'd be throughly unscrupulous, making deals with devils. The very thing he set me on her for.
Things don't add up. Someone isn't telling the truth.
A mind used to years of unquestioning obedience suddenly had to choose who to believe. His leader or two renegades, one a known murderer, a vampire, and one a deserter, a vampire lover.
Collins looked up at them, a sad sort of resignation in his eyes. "I believe I get a last cigarette."
"Bloody hell!" Spike roared at the man's stupidity, his blind faith in all the wrong things.
Buffy was calmer. Her 'game face' emerged though no one but Spike ever noticed the subtle shift, the steely set in her muscles and a new definition under her pretty features.
"No. You're not dying." She picked up the carton once again. "Like I was saying," she let a drop pour out, splashing onto the floor between Collins' feet, making him twitch, "you'll just wish you were dead. And let me tell you why..."
Spike couldn't hear her, but he watched as she wound herself around behind him, in front of him, whispering. Whispering exactly what happens to your mind when it's corroded with the poison he'd slipped her. Her voice throbbed and pulsed, an unending, urgent hiss as she poured out every fear that good soldiers have- that suddenly they're on the wrong side, that they've protected no one, that every good fight was in vain.
The vampire sat back and watched her. Heard the strain in words he couldn't quite catch, heard her willingly relieve every fear, recount every nightmare from which she was never supposed to waken. A whole different kind of battle being waged, showing him once again she was the genuine article, the one who never stopped fighting, only used different weapons. He saw tears glimmer on lashes but never fall, tenaciously pounding out horror after horror- until the spout was against Collins' lips and he gasped out a grunt of agreement.
Didn't leave a scratch on him. Hm. He learned to appreciate a whole new power his slayer possessed.
Day Twenty Six, the wee hours...
Giles was startled from sleep, although by now he was so used to it, he felt his body's suddenly thumping heart and speeding pulse were out of line. He grabbed the ringing cell phone automatically and pressed it urgently to his ear.
"We got him. He'll talk."
To be continued...