Change your shape, change your destiny (6/6) by dutchbuffy2305

Rating: R

Spoilers: S4

Author's note: This takes place just before the Season 5 opener.

Disclaimer: These characters belong to Joss

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Willow's spell hit Spike like a blunt object to the sternum. He stumbled forward in agony, blinded for a moment, and when he looked up again he was standing in the midst of a throng of people milling around. The sky arched over them like a giant upended draining bowl with little pinpricks of light shining through.

He tried to get his bearings, but he could see nothing but confused crowds continuing on until the horizon disappeared into a blue haze. He realized this must be some kind of side effect of the body-swap spell and he knew somehow that he had to hurry up and find his own body. He started searching, scanning the crowd with his far-sighted eyes, cursing his lack of height. Suddenly he became aware of a sensation prickling the back of his neck, someone looking at him. He turned around quickly, trying to catch the guilty party. He looked straight into the eyes of his long forgotten mirror image, priggish little glasses and unfortunate curls included.

The nasty little bugger was coming right at him, as if he was eager to see him! And what was worse, he could feel in himself an answering pull. Spike threw up his hands in irritation and backed away, shaking his head. There seemed to be no stopping the fellow though, and Spike, overwhelmed by disgust and inexplicable fear turned around and dove into the milling crowds.

After bumping into and cursing roundly at several dozens of confused citizens he slowed and checked if he was still being followed. Both the pulling sensation and the fear had nearly disappeared, and indeed, Silly Willy was nowhere in sight. Right. Safe for now. Who the hell had that been? His ghost, or his soul? No way was he going to be reunited with that little ponce ever again. He was just dandy as he was, thank you, except for that little matter of the chip, of course. Still, he was a little curious. He really wanted to take a peek at his former self, but without being observed in his turn.

He coerced a big strapping fellow into holding out his cupped hands to him and he climbed upon the man's shoulders. Sure enough, there were the brown curls and the fawn suit. William the Ghost was doing something odd and personal with a small blond-haired woman, looked a little like the slayer, only with a much sweeter and softer air. There were holding each other's hands and staring intently at each other. God, if he looked at women like that, no wonder he'd never gotten lucky. Idiot.

Inexplicably annoyed at the sight, Spike jumped down and rough-shouldered his way through the crowd again. He saw some very odd sights. Someone who looked like Willow, but seemed to be a vampire, dressed in dominatrix black and leather. Another Willow, black-haired and black-eyed and her face veined like the back of an old man's hand. Xander with an eye-patch. A brown-haired girl who shrieked his name when she saw him and who was almost as hard to shake off as his former self had been.

The horizon came no closer, and Spike stopped for a moment to think. Immediately he felt a strong pulling sensation again, only this one was much more compelling and attractive than before. He tried to find it by raking his gaze over the assembled people, and caught just a glimpse of himself, bleached hair, black duster and all, running at him full tilt before they touched and merged with a feeling of sharp relief like a sneeze.

The sweetest, hottest, most wonderful taste in the world flooded his tongue and for one moment, he thought he was in heaven, but then excruciating pain slammed him and he heard someone roaring and mewling.

Spike came to from a lesser pain in his fingertips, where he'd apparently been trying to dig through a cement sewer wall. Christ. The chip pain hadn't been this bad in ages, but then he knew better by now than to try and bite someone. Someone was making a very annoying noise close to his ear. Wearily he turned to confront his gibbering companion down here, a pasty-faced man who was trying to scrabble away from him with one hand, the other hand pressed to his bleeding neck.

Spike tipped his head against the wall and flapped his hand. "Go away. You're back in your own body and I won't bite, appearances to the contrary. Now scoot before I lose my temper."

Bugger. What a way to wake up. A taste of heaven and then slam, bang, back into the awful blah-ness of chipped life. Taunting a fellow with what he couldn't have, downright cruel it was. Spike heaved a sigh and checked the body for damage. Apart from a suspicious stain on the front of his jeans, he appeared undamaged, and was even feeling quite full and satisfied. The people who'd been using his body must have fed incredibly well. In fact, he had the suspicion they'd been feeding on humans, lucky buggers. He slammed his hand against the wall and gave a shout of frustration. He couldn't for the life of him think of a plausible explanation why the chip should function that way. Life was not fair.

He could sense dawn was approaching and he'd better scarper from here if he wanted to get to the Magic Box in time. Wasn't it sad, that the most fun he could think of was indulging in a bit of emotional Scooby blackmail? He'd sunk so low, he was probably the single most pathetic vampire on this earth. Excepting Angel and Harmony of course, for completely different reasons.

He entered the cellar through his secret tunnel and climbed up the stairs. A babble of excited voices greeted him.

"I don't think this is fair, you know! It's been a life-changing experience, and you just don't seem to appreciate that. I mean, you don't have to look at me that way! It's my nature. Of course I would try to eat him when I was sitting on top of him when I came to! If you hadn't tried to starve my body none of this would have happened!"

For God's sake. Harmony, yammering on at the top of her voice to Giles, who was holding a stake to her chest.

Giles was looking grim and amused at the same time. Why didn't he just stake the damn bint, make her shut up? Harmony's company was only bearable if you silenced her up firmly, preferably by stuffing her mouth with something big and hard.

Unexpectedly, Joyce Summers stepped up.

"That isn't the way to deal with the poor child, Mr. Giles. Put that thing away." She walked up to Harmony and crossed her arms.

"Harmony Kendall, that is no way to behave, young lady. I know your mother, and she'd be very disappointed to see you go like that!"

Harmony gritted her teeth and wailed, "Mrs. Summers, you don't seem to appreciate that I'm a vampire now. I'm evil. I'm supposed to behave that way!"

Joyce shook her head. "There is no excuse for behavior like that. That's not how you were raised."

Spike stepped forward. "I think she had to raise herself, poor thing. Imagine, no one at her grave to teach her vampire etiquette… She's a self-made woman now."

Harmony beamed a surprised and grateful smile at him. "Thank you, Spikey! I never knew you understood!"

Spike rolled his eyes. "You must have been absent from class the day they were explaining sarcasm, pet. Now off you go to your lair. Don't bother the big angry Watcher anymore."

Harmony stalked off, throwing a hurt look to Spike.

Joyce looked at him with a frosty shine in her eye. "That was rude, Spike." Then her face softened. "Probably the only way to deal with the poor thing." She turned to Giles. "I really want to get back home now, Rupert. Thank you for looking after Buffy, and saving me from that young woman."

She departed. Spike looked after her admiringly. She was a tough cookie, the Slayer's mum, and he appreciated her. Too old to eat, anyway.

He spotted the man who'd been inhabited by Ethan, looking much the worse for wear. He was holding a bloody handkerchief to his neck. This was exactly what he'd envisaged when Giles offered to restrain Ethan with his vampire strength, and it gave him a great deal of satisfaction.

The shop bell clanged and the other Scoobies came in started to dribble in. As soon as she entered the room, Willow descended on him like a tiny vulture and bore him off to the back of the shop, where Giles was just coming off the phone. Giles put it down and grabbed his arms.

"Oi! I've been good! Now what? What!"

"Shut up, Spike," Giles hissed. "Now, promise you will hold your gob shut about what you did in Riley's body, or I will stake you right now."

Spike knew exactly what he was referring to, but protested loudly, "I didn't do anything evil! What are you on about?"

Willow elbowed him sharply in his side. "You had sex with Buffy's body, you evil, mean, vampire!"

Spike stuck out his chin mulishly. "Everybody had weird stuff happen to them yesterday, what difference does it make? Wasn't her in there!"

He wouldn't have bragged about that anyway! He must have been in a state, not to see right away it wasn't Buffy in that body. Only a big prat would have missed that, and he wasn't about to boast about something that stupid. He held off a bit longer, just for the fun of seeing the earnest threats on Giles' and Willow's faces, but then held up his hands and promised he wouldn't tell a soul about the Buffy - Riley thing. He'd never settle for just a woman's body if he loved her; so what did it matter what she did with it if someone else inhabited her? He failed to see their concern.

They released him and he sauntered after them when they rejoined the group at the table. Spike leaned back in the chair and steepled his fingertips together. "What about you, Anya? Didn't see you last night…"

Anya crossed her arms tightly in front of her body. "None of your business. I had a very unpleasant experience, and nothing compels me to share it with you."

Spike raised his eyebrows. "Whatever you like, love. Did you have a snuffly nose and a little tail?"

Anya eyed him with hostility. "I still have some pretty good contacts in the vengeance business, Spike. I could just call a friend of mine and ask her for a favor!"

"Oh please, Anya. As if my life could get any worse than it is right now," he said disdainfully.

He turned to Xander, who'd been uncharacteristically silent during this exchange and winked at him. Xander bit his lip and turned away. Spike scooted closer to him and waggled his eyebrows. Very casually, he put his arm on the back of the chair and let his fingers trail against Xander's neck. He turned his head toward the boy, lowering his lashes slowly over his eyes and sculpting out his lips.


Xander looked at him like a frightened deer and and tried to meld with the armrest.

"How did it feel to be a vampire? Did you like the things a vampire feels? And what they do?"

"I hated it," Xander stated agitatedly. "It's sick and unnatural."

Xander looked up gratefully when Giles sat down at the table and put his fingertips together, a sure sign of impending exposition.

Giles coughed and began. "I talked to Mr. Travers just now, and he has agreed to contact the commander of the base that is holding Ethan Rayne's body. The Council's going to help with restraining his mind and spirit as well as his body."

Just then Riley came in, looking just like he always did except for the flesh-colored band-aid on his neck. He stared back at Spike with the usual hostility.

"So, Spike," Riley said heavily. "I understand that you were in my body yesterday. Kill any people while you were at it?"

"Boy Scout's honor," Spike said with a grin. "No casualties. Now that we're having a friendly chat and all, where exactly were you, while I was helping to fight the good fight?"

Riley glowered at him. "I was trapped in the body of a demon the first time, and the second time I was a little baby, okay? I was completely unable to get over here."

"Uh-huh." Spike settled in for a nice thorough needling. "What kind of demon? Most demons can get about in daylight without problems…"

"I don't know. A kind of tunnel dwelling species without arms and legs."

Spike cackled with laughter. "Tunnel dwelling? You mean the sewage eating slime tribe that lives down there?"

"I didn't ask for its genealogy chart," Riley replied stiffly. "Possibly."

Buffy turned impatiently to Riley. "Just ignore Spike. Did you manage to get in touch? What did the base commander say?"

Riley sat up straighter and beamed proudly at Buffy. "They've agreed to liaise with the Council to arrange for magical restraints."

Willow and Buffy nodded. "Good!"

"He deserves to rot in there for eternity," Anya said darkly.

"You know guys, I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for this Ethan. I mean, the town was a mess, but it was mostly harmless fun on his part! " Xander said.

Spike cast his eyes to heaven. "Harris, are you really this naïve or is it willful blindness? You think nobody was killed yesterday? I bet there were a lot of baddies about on the town, just dying to make use of this wonderful opportunity."

"Yeah, Spike's right, Xander, how many sick people died because there were no doctors or nurses around, or traffic jams, or stuff like that? This wasn't just fun. And think of the trauma of having to go through this!"

"Exactly! If I wasn't used to this kind of stuff now I'd so need counseling!" Buffy said, nodding vigorously. "I just saw Mom outside, and you know what she did? She just watched TV in bed all day, figuring that I'd be putting things to right. I call that sensible."

"Well, I was happy to be in a position to reassure her when I returned in my own body," Giles said. "She took it remarkably well."

Spike enjoyed the distrustful glance Buffy sent to her Watcher. There had to be story behind that, he assumed. He shrugged mentally. Not as if he wanted to find out.

"Where was your body when you gat back in it, Buffy?" Willow asked curiously. She was idly playing with a pencil.

Buffy lifted her shoulders. "Watching TV not two blocks away from Revello. Safe and sound. I don't know what it was doing at the first switch, of course, but Willow told me you guys didn't see me."

She glanced around at their raised eyebrows. "I mean myself, the real me, my body. Not just that drooling old lady Willow told me about! You know what I mean!"

Buffy began a set of stretching exercises, ending it with a sudden series of back flips that ended dangerously close to Giles's occult glassware. She beamed at the little group with a wide, satisfied smile.

"Guys, I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in my own body. It was pretty lowering to realize that I'm totally of the useless without my slayer strength. I contributed zilch yesterday."

"Oh, no, Buffy!" Willow protested. "You managed to get here while you were in that demented old lady. That was majorly impressive."

"Thanks, Will," Buffy said. "But I think you and Tara, and Giles, were the ones who were really impressive. Your powers are of the mind, and you took them with you. Without you we'd have been nowhere with Ethan the Body Swapper."

"Whereas I, Xander L. Harris, managed to be just as useful in my loaner bods as I always am, and that means about as useful as the human appendix."

"Don't put yourself down, honey," Anya said. "I wouldn't have minded having sex with while you were in the Harmony body. Too bad you wasted that opportunity."

Xander scooted away from Riley with a loud screeching of chair legs on the floor. Riley looked at him with surprise. "What? My real body was never in contact with any sewer slime!"

Xander got up and started to rummage in a big bag with towels and Doritos sticking out of it. '"Are we done? We need to get going to the beach if we're gonna make a day of it."

"Dawn's hardly arrived yet," Giles countered, shaking his head. "Well, enjoy your little outing, I'm going to catch up on some sleep."

The young people busied themselves making driving and picking up arrangements for their day at the beach. Spike looked on for a moment, and then, unnoticed by any of them, he went to the back of the shop to the sewer entrance there. He felt strangely disappointed. What had he been expecting? That the Scoobies would acknowledge his help? Never happen.

Physical wellbeing warred with a feeling of being cheated. Bloody Ethan might have shipped him into another vampire body, mightn't he? Would have been a sight more fun. Now all he could look back on was not having killed the Slayer yet one more time, and shagging Harris. A bit low on the achievement scale, you might say. In spite of the dawn creeping up on him he walked slowly back to his lonely crypt and the uneventful rhythms of his life.