To catch a heart

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

I'm just someone with a secret obsession with Spuffy and the creativity to play around with it ;)

OBS: The song in this chapter is called Crack of Doom, by Tiger Lillies. It doesn't belong to me either.

It wasn't the bustle of semi-awake employees starting their day at the office that woke Buffy up. It wasn't even the streak of sunlight on her face or the leather couch sticking to her skin that did it.

It was the smell of roasted beans turned liquid goodness. She sat up abruptly and rubbed her eyes. Looking around, she spotted the source of the lovely coffee scent and grimaced. Harmony was at the door, nudging it open with her shoulder while she balanced a tray with several mugs and two filled to the brim coffee pots. Making her way through the couches that were all over the office, Harmony's lips pursed in a pout as she seemed to have intentionally chosen the path next to Buffy's couch. The slayer watched her pass by, confused as to the reason why Harmony pointedly ignored her while swaying her hips and holding her chin high. Buffy's eyes followed Harmony as far as she could without straining her neck, and once the vampire walked out of Buffy's line of sight, her behavior started to make sense – Spike was there, sitting on the couch facing Buffy's, a small smile playing on his lips as he watched her.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious, she ran a hand through her hair only to realize it was sticking up in places. She smoothed it down with her fingers as best as she could before dragging her legs off the couch and turning to face Spike. His black t-shirt hugged his chest and shoulders, and his skin was once again bathed in sunlight. She didn't dare stare too long at his smiling lips, so she looked up to his eyes. They were sapphire lightning balls – there was no other explanation for the way lighter blue streaks shone like an electrical current in the richer blue background. A voice in the back of her mind told her it was unfair that he looked so handsome, because if the tingling feeling on her face was any indication, she looked like hell. She snapped out of her trance with a blink, her hand shot up to her cheek and trailed the small depressions there.

Damn couch. Damn sleep wrinkles. I didn't drool, did I? Oh, God, did I?

She felt her eyes bulge, a sight that must have looked funny because Spike let out a chuckle.

"'Morning, pet."

She scowled in response. Damn him and his stupid t-shirt, and his perfect skin, and beautiful electric eyes—okay, losing focus there.

Buffy pushed herself up, muttering something that would have sounded like 'traitor mind' if not for the yawn that interrupted it. She stretched her arms and looked around the room. Gunn was talking to Angel in a hushed tone by the desk as Harmony served them coffee, and Wesley and Fred were nowhere to be seen. Apparently the waking up part was not the Scooby's forte - Dawn and Willow were still out.

Angel seemed only half-aware of whatever Gunn was telling him. His eyes were focused on Buffy, sparing Spike an occasional glare. Buffy gave one last look at Spike before she walked over to the desk. He was still smiling, the bastard. She avoided the glowering vampire's gaze. If they were going to start so early, she was going to need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Buffy grabbed a mug, but before she could pick up one of the pots, Harmony got hold of both.

"Let me." Harmony offered in a sardonic tone.

Harmony's mouth reverted back to a pursed pout and her face tightened in a sulky expression. As she tilted the pot, Buffy was sure the vampiress was going to 'accidentally' throw hot coffee at her, but Harmony didn't. The blonde finished pouring and Buffy brought the mug close to her face, holding it with both hands. "Mmmm, coffee. Thanks."

Buffy tested the hotness with the tip of her tongue, and then took a considerable sip.

"Harmony, isn't that—" Gunn started asking, a few seconds too late.

"Ugh, what's that taste?" Buffy asked. How can they drink this?

When Buffy looked up to the blonde vampire, she realized trusting Harmony had been a mistake. Harmony's eyes shone with triumph, her face twisted in mock apology. "Oops, wrong carafe. Sorry, this is the one with blood."

Buffy choked. This was going to be a long day.

Their little assault against the necromancer started out bad before it got really bad.

"Okay, here we are," said Angel as he parked the black van by the trees just before the waist-tall gates outside Hainsley's house. They kept the headlights off in a vain attempt to have the element of surprise and watched the manor through the van's tinted windshield. All the lights were out inside the house, and during their short surveillance the only noise and movement came from a cat playing around with the neatly trimmed bushes in the garden. Angel and Buffy climbed to the back of the van to join the others and go over the details of the plan one last time.

Buffy, Willow, Wesley, and Gunn were the offensive line. They had their choices of weapons, with the men focusing more on the crushing part while Willow and Buffy had favored blades. Walkie-talkies had been firmly strapped to their waists as a precaution – they were to keep radio silence unless something went really wrong inside.

Angel, Spike, and Dawn grudgingly agreed to stay in the car as a command center of sorts - a link between them and Fred, who had stayed at Wolfram and Hart, armed with Wesley's demonology collection. Lorne had promised over the phone to head over to the office to stay with her, just in case.

Buffy slid open the side door and waited for the others to follow her out. Getting past the low gates was a breeze, and there were no signs of any sort of an alarm system. They advanced slowly, hiding behind the round and rectangular shaped bushes in the garden. The front steps were avoided for stealth reasons, and they made no sound as they slipped their weapons through the balustrade gaps before climbing the concrete railings themselves, only to have their efforts go to waste when all the lights on the first floor were turned on.

Willow's expression closely resembled a deer-in-the-headlights. Buffy just sighed. "Well, there goes the element of surprise."

"Front door then?" suggested Wesley.

Buffy nodded. "Remember the plan. Cut off heads, crush skulls, ignore ghosts, and either capture or kill the boss."

They positioned themselves in front of wooden French doors, with Buffy and Willow in the middle of the two men.

Gunn held his mace at ready. "God, I've missed this."

They all turned to look at him, brows raised.

"What? Try defending our guilty clients in court and winning and see how long you can last without going all Daredevil on them."

Buffy shook her head and reached for the doorknob. It offered no resistance, yet the moment she pushed the door open, a halted, melancholic sound of an accordion resonated through the hall. They shared one last look, and Buffy led the group inside.

The hall was poorly lit by a yellow glow cast by wall sconces that contributed to the somber decor. Mahogany was everywhere but the floors - from the arched staircase to their left, to the walls and armchairs to their right, and in the archway in the middle that seemed to lead to a drawing room. They took a couple of steps towards the center of the hall, the sound of their shoes on the stone floor masked by the music that was apparently coming from the room before them.

And so your life has been a success

And you have pleasure in excess

Don't worry it'll all soon end

It is all shallow and pretend

The words boomed in a falsetto voice with an exaggerated accent as the group took in their surroundings, weapons firmly clasped. Wesley and Gunn placed themselves to the sides of the bifold door and each grabbed a knob. With a nod, they pulled them open, quickly returning to Willow and Buffy's side. The drawing room was brighter, and at first glance, full of pasty-white skinned people and more mahogany furniture. A fluorescent light had been added to the high ceiling in addition to the yellow of several lamps and sconces. The song echoed louder through the open door. The first thing they noticed was the grand piano at the center of the room, the only light-colored piece of furniture they had seen so far. Its player – a man dressed in a white suit – sat completely still. Everyone in the room remained too perfectly still. In the corner stood an old round jukebox with a soft green light. The music boomed from it.

"Why would a necromancer set up a lame tea party for dead people?" Willow asked, making a wry face.

And so you've reached the giddy heights

And your future's looking bright

Don't worry it will all soon...

As if awakened by Willow's words, the occupants' heads snapped to look in her direction, some with necks craned in odd angles, all with glassy, lifeless eyes. "Sorry, I-I meant killer party!" Willow cringed at her own words. "Wicked? Uh, bad word choice."

The crack of doom is coming soon

The crack of doom is coming soon

The crack of doom is coming soon


There was a cascade of thumping sounds as all of the occupants of the room dropped whatever piece of the tea set they were holding. The carpeted floor softened the fall, but the floral china crushed under polished oxford shoes and pointed sling back heels as the zombies advanced on the party crashers. How decomposing women could manage to drag themselves wearing heels and still stand upright was beyond comprehension. Buffy expanded the retractable blades on her double-edged spear. The dead men easily outnumbered them, and their movements were clunky, yet slightly faster than Buffy remembered from her failed 'Welcome Back' party several years before. The first to reach her was a tall man with sleekly pomaded dark brown hair that was parted to the left. She stepped forward, thrusting the spear through his eye and trying very hard not to gag at the sight. She kicked him in the stomach to disengage her weapon as two others made their way to her.

And so your life

Your life has failed

You've made the progress of a snail

Don't worry you'll get your revenge

For we're all equal in the end

The dead were swarming like ashen moldy-smelling bees at the double doors, so the team split up into pairs, forming two fronts. Buffy ran by the dowdy mahogany furniture with Willow following close behind her, opening a path through the room, while Wesley and Gunn inched their way to the far corner. Willow took out one zombie then another with swift thrusts of her daggers through the back of their necks, while Buffy stepped on the stool and stepped up on top of the grand piano, knocking down two golden vases in the process. She scanned the room from her vantage point, but there was no sign of the necromancer. The song reached a high pitched crescendo as the group fought against the tireless crowd of zombies. The fast paced beat proved to be even worse than the melancholic one, like a ticking bomb about to explode without any red wires for them to cut first.

The small and mighty all the same

This life's a shallow, facile game

And every ego will be crushed

And every empire turned to dust

"Can someone turn this music off?" pleaded Buffy.


The crack of doom is-



Gunn lifted his spiked mace as the jukebox let out sparks. "Don't mention it."

She swung her spear at two zombies closing in on her, before stopping to scan the room once again. "Can anyone see the necromancer?"

"Not sure," answered Wesley, kicking at a blond woman in a frilly cream dress between swings of his war hammer. "What did he look like again?"

"Fat bald guy." Buffy jumped off the piano and landed on the soft carpet. "Alive."

"That's a tad judgmental of you, my darling."

Buffy turned around sharply. Leaning against the door frame in the same tacky old clothes was the man she didn't want to find.

Her ghost.

A/N: Hello people!

Here's my overdue chapter. Real life's a bitch and I've been so swamped with homework and readings last month that my boyfriend kindly mentioned that we hadn't seen each other in a few weeks and that perhaps we should break up. Lots of crying and some homework completely ignored later, and we're still together. But please, please, don't break up with me too, I can't take more tears – it's bad for my health and it completely ruins my productivity.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Leave a review and let me know what you think! :)