Timeline: Takes place after "The Key" and "Crush," so Glory is the enemy, we know about Dawn, and we know about Spike's slayer obsession. Willow has just finished a teleportation spell that sent Glory far away and deposited her high above the earth.
Disclaimer: The characters are the products of Joss Whedon's twisted little mind.
Glory dug herself out of the mile-deep chasm she'd created when she fell from the sky, swearing all the while. "I have to get my key," she muttered. "Then I'm going to kill that slayer!" She stalked all the way back to Sunnydale, creating minor earthquakes along the way.
She found Spike first.
He was just leaving Buffy's house in utter despair when Glory grabbed him and lifted him several feet off the ground.. "Oh look," she said. "It's the boyfriend! I think I'll kill you, Dye-job, just to get that slayer a little off balance. What do you think?"
Spike, dangling from her right hand by his coat lapels, snorted. "You couldn't do her a bigger favor, lady. Go ahead."
Glory cocked her head curiously and set him back down on his feet. "Aw, what's the matter? You and your honey have a fight?"
Spike straightened out his coat. "Yeah," he said bitterly. "Had one with the slayer, too. Listen, you want to off me? Go ahead. I don't promise you the slayer would even notice, though. And if she did, it'd be to thank you."
Glory smiled, a calculating smile. "Hmm. Maybe she was telling the truth about the not being your girlfriend part. In that case, blondie dear, maybe I can use you for something else." She smiled, and touched her fingers to his temples. She jumped, startled. "A vampire? Oh my, now I've seen everything." She grinned wider and shoved her fingers into his skull. It started to glow. Suddenly, she looked puzzled. "What the hell is this?" She reached in further and pulled out a small square of plastic.
Spike screamed out in agony and dropped to the ground, writhing in pain. She couldn't even spare him a glance, but stared in fascination at the chip. "Well, this is new." She looked down at the convulsing figure of the agonized vampire and asked, "What is it?"
The pain began slowly to lessen, leaving behind only a dull red haze. Spike slowly got to his feet. Glory tapped her toe. "Well? I'm waiting!"
"Chip," he managed to say. "Anti-killing chip. With that in my head I can't kill anyone."
"Well it's out now," Glory said. "Does that mean you can kill people again?"
"S'pose so," Spike said thoughtfully. Then, as the realization finally hit him, "It's out? It's really out? Oh, thank God!"
"You're welcome," Glory said politely. "What's your name, anyway?"
"Well, Spike, let's just keep this our little secret, shall we? I don't think I'll kill you after all. Maybe you'd like to give me a hand getting my key? If the slayer doesn't know you can kill again, she won't have her guard up. How about it?"
Spike smiled, his old smile. "Hey, I'm your guy." He didn't want to tell her just yet that he knew what -- who -- the key was. He was sure he could twist it around to some advantage; plus, he was still mad at her for knocking into the "sleep of the unconscious," the week before. He frowned. "But I don't have an invitation to her house."
Glory shrugged. "Oh, come on. I'm sure you can figure out some other way."
The next evening, Spike waited in the shadows until he saw Buffy leave to go patrolling. Then he knocked on the door of the Summers' house. Dawn opened it, dimpling when she saw him. "Hi, Spike!"
"Allo, squirt. Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Sure. Come on in. Buffy's not here," she warned him. "In case you were coming to see her."
"Actually, I was coming to see you," he said, entering the house with an inward smile. He hadn't expected it to be this easy!
Dawn beamed. "Oh! Okay, then. Sit down. Um, what did you want to talk to me about?"
Spike looked around conspiratorally. "Well, I never got to finish my story the other day. Big sister Buffy showed up and ruined it -- I had to tone it down a bit so she wouldn't stake me."
"Oh! Yeah, I thought that ending was a bit lame," Dawn said.
"All right, where was I? Oh yeah, I heard something from the coal bin, so I ripped the cover off and there she was. All tiny and scared and cute. So I gave her a hand out of there -- I was back to my own face by this time, y'see -- and told her not to worry, that the bad man was gone. Told her I'd take care of her and she'd never have to worry anymore. And I did."
"You took care of her?" Dawn asked skeptically. "Yeah, right." Spike looked meaningfully at her and she got it. "Oh." They sat together in silence for a few minutes, then Dawn looked up again and asked, "Spike, why did you come here to tell me this?"
"Wanted to warn you, mainly," he said, stretching out his legs. "You can't trust vampires."
"I trust you."
"What, because of the chip?" he sneered.
"No, see that's where I disagree with Buffy. I think even if you got the chip out, you wouldn't go back to being what you were. You were kinda one-dimensional, you know. Now you've got layers." Dawn smiled, pleased with her analysis.
Spike's eyes were hooded. "Layers. Right. That's what I've got, all right." In a sudden change of energy, he stood up. "I got to go. Listen, tell your mum... Tell her not to worry. I wouldn't hurt any of you." He turned on his heel and left. Once outside, he paused to light up a cigarette.
What the hell was wrong with him? He'd figured on putting himself in the mood again with telling Dawn that story and watching her cute little forehead wrinkle up in that adorable disgusted way... and then watching the horror in her eyes as she realized she was the little girl...
It wasn't supposed to be this way. He was supposed to bathe in Summers blood all night, so when the slayer got home she'd find a message from Spike, that it wasn't nice to be so mean to him. But when Dawn showed so much confidence in him, so much trust, he knew he wouldn't be able to follow through with it. He resolved to find someone at the Bronze to eat instead. His stride lengthened; he was eager to find someone to eat. It had been so long! That girl at the Bronze the night before, with Dru, just didn't tempt him that much. He'd only taken a sip; the girl was dead, after all. He hadn't felt "right" about it since then, either.
Well, mostly he just felt pain. And a mild curiosity very similar to the slayer's: what would he be like, now that the chip was out? He was looking forward to finding out.
Glory? He barely gave her a second thought.
Glory certainly had him on her mind, though. She could hardly wait for Spike to find her key! She fairly danced with excitement at the thought of having a vampire on her side against the vampire slayer! A vampire the slayer and her friends trusted, no less. She smiled at herself in the mirror, admiring her skin tones in the lamp light. Soon, she told herself. Very soon.
Buffy, meanwhile, was stalking through the cemeteries muttering to herself. "Stupid... damned... stalking... vampire guy... evil... how dare he?...shouldn't have beat him up so often... but I like to beat him up!... Oh God, what does that say about me?... stupid, bumpy-headed vampire guy!" She was so involved with her spiral of thought that she nearly bumped into Xander and Anya.
"Hey Buffy, do you have in invisible friend, or are you going crazy?" asked Xander. "Come to think of it, that's the same question."
Buffy blushed. "Oh, sorry. I was just lost in my own little world for a while, and I was just complaining to myself."
"Talking to oneself is usually considered a sign of insanity," Anya said helpfully.
Buffy ignored her and asked Xander, "Did Willow tell you what happened last night? With Spike?"
"She gave us the general plot but was blurry in the detail area," Xander replied. "So Spike finally made a move on you, huh?"
"It's about time," Anya said with some satisfaction. "I told him a long time ago he should speak up."
Xander and Buffy stared at her. "You knew about this?" Buffy asked, incredulous.
Anya gave them both a 'duh' look. "Well, yeah! You'd have to be blind not to see he's totally in love with you, Buffy. But then, they say love is blind anyway, so maybe that explains it. Well, good night." She nodded in a self-congratulatory manner and dragged Xander away.
Buffy ran after the two of them. "Anya, wait a minute. Are you trying to tell me you actually encouraged Spike? You encouraged an evil, bloodthirsty demon to... to... like me? Me, the slayer?"
"Hey!" Anya protested. "You watch who you're calling an evil, bloodthirsty demon! Just because I can't hurt people now doesn't mean that I never did! And you guys seem to be okay with me and Xander. And anyway, so what if Spike likes you? You like him, too. What's the big deal?"
Xander tried to intervene. "Ahn, hon, you've only been human for a short while; maybe now's not the time to try to psycho-analyze the slayer." He emphasized the last word.
Anya was still angry. "I may not have been human long, but I've been studying human interactions for centuries! Believe me, I know when two people like each other -- even when only one of them has the maturity to admit it!"
Buffy seethed. "Xander, get her the hell out of here!" she hissed, turning her back sharply and stomping away.
She went out of her way later on, to find a vampire who had been buried in his leather coat, and she beat him into a bloody pulp before she staked him. The fact he was fair-haired was a bonus. She went home and slung her bag through the window onto the floor, then crawled in panting and only slightly satisfied.
Dawn was waiting for her in her room when she got there. "Buffy? Who's the black-haired English chick who was looking for you?"
Just as she thought this night could not possibly get any worse... Buffy sighed and picked up her bag again. "Oh, damn," she said. "Drusilla." She gave a humorless laugh. "She's probably jealous and come back to finish me off." She sat down next to Dawn on the bed. "All right, what happened?"
"She came to the door," Dawn answered. "She asked for you. She didn't even ask to come in, so I didn't invite her. Said she wanted a word with the slayer. She'll be waiting outside the Bronze until morning, if you dare to go talk to her."
"Oh, I dare, all right. I'll be back later; tell mom not to wait up," and Buffy slid back out the window.
Drusilla was there in the middle of the alley next to the Bronze, spinning slowly with her head flung back. "The slayer's coming, the slayer's coming," she crooned. Then, as Buffy got closer, she didn't change her actions, but her chant became, "The slayer's come. The slayer's come."
"What do you want, you wacko?" Buffy demanded. "Talk fast before you meet Mr. Pointy."
Drusilla laughed, a silvery, tinkling laugh like starlight. "The stars will tell you the truth," she said. She stopped her spinning suddenly, facing Buffy. "You have to listen hard. Shhhhh!"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "What did you want to tell me, Dru? I don't have all night."
Drusilla smiled. "No, you don't, darling. Do you? You only have the rest of your life." She approached Buffy slowly, one graceful step at a time. "He's in pain, you know. Worse than the chip. All because of you. You hurt my Spike, my sweet William. You always hurt the ones you love." She cocked her head slowly to one side. "That's a song. How true that is!"
"Listen, you lunatic. I don't love Spike. I loathe Spike. There's a difference."
Drusilla came even closer, only a couple of feet away and looked at Buffy gravely. "He's more human than you'll ever be, dearie. And you're more dead inside than he's ever been." She clapped her hands suddenly. "Time to make the outside... match the inside!"
And suddenly there were vampires. Dozens. All with one thought in their minds: kill the slayer. Buffy had fought long odds against vampires before; just after she found out about Riley's whoring around, she had wiped out more than a dozen by herself. This, however, was more than she could handle. She knew it. She fought bravely, thinking of nothing but blocking this punch, making that kick, ducking that blow, staking this vampire.
After a while, she came to the realization that she wasn't fighting alone. A dark figure was fighting back to back with her, killing any vampire that tried to sneak up behind her. One got through and grabbed her by the throat when he suddenly turned to dust and she saw the vampiric visage of Spike behind him. She didn't have time to react; another attacked her, and another. But gradually there were fewer of them, and fewer, then none. Spike brushed the dust off his coat and stalked over to where Drusilla was watching with an innocent, interested expression. He backhanded her hard. "Don't you ever do that again, do you hear me?" he growled. "You don't touch her, and you don't let anyone else touch her!" Drusilla said nothing, but came in closer. She caressed his cheek slowly, and his face morphed back into the handsome, human one.
"Oh, my Spike," she crooned. "You've got your heart's desire, haven't you? But now your heart desires her instead." She stroked his face again, and said, "Tomorrow I'm going back to Angel's city. Angel needs me, and he'll be with us soon. Will you come visit?"
"I don't think so, pet," Spike said heavily. "It's not really my scene anymore. Remember what I said though -- you don't let anyone else touch the slayer, and that means Angel, too. Got that?"
"Oh, yeah. Goodbye, my Spike." And Drusilla was gone, floating down the street like starlight herself.
Buffy was standing several feel away, leaning against the side of the building. She knew she wouldn't have survived without Spike's help against all those vampires. She scuffed her toe through a pile of dust and wondered what to say to him. She heard what he said to Drusilla, and was still puzzling over it when he approached.
"Uh, thanks," she said lamely.
Spike said nothing. He drew back and hit her with a swift uppercut to the jaw. Her head snapped back, then she looked at him in shock. He'd hit her! Without pain! "Wha -- ?" she stuttered.
"Can't say you didn't have it coming! Sauce for the goose, and all that," he snarled, and walked away with his long black coat swirling around him.
Buffy walked home slowly, her head spinning more than Drusilla had. Spike had hit her! Did he have the chip out? If so, why didn't he kill her? She was just glad he was no longer invited into her house. All the other thoughts she just pushed to the back of her mind to deal with later. Or better yet, to never deal with at all!
Next morning she walked to the Magic Box to train a little with Giles. Anya was there at the cash register and greeted her cheerfully, but Buffy walked on past without speaking. Giles caught that. "Buffy? Is something wrong?" he asked. "You seem... distracted."
"I'm fine," Buffy said. "If you'll excuse me, I really want to punch things."
"Oh, don't mind her," Anya reassured Giles loudly. "She's just repressing, as usual."
Buffy turned on her heel and came back into the room. "If you'll excuse me, I really want to punch Anya!" She strode over to the counter with her fists clenched.
"Buffy, what is going on?" Giles demanded, putting himself between Buffy and Anya. "I insist upon you telling me what is wrong!"
"I don't want to talk," Buffy snapped. "I just want to hit things." She started for the back room again, but Giles caught her wrist and dragged her back.
"Buffy, sit down." he ordered, pointing to a chair. She started to protest. "Now!" he barked. She sat. He sat across from her, glaring. "You obviously have somthing on your mind," he said with exaggerated sarcasm. "You know if you're distracted, you won't be focussed enough to fight Glory and protect your sister. So, I'll ask one last time. What the hell is going on?"
Buffy sighed. "Spike's in love with me," she said, shamefaced. Giles waited, silently. "What?" she asked, defensive. "He tied me up the other night along with Drusilla -- she's the one who killed all those people on the train, by the way -- and told me he loves me. Threatened to stake Drusilla for me. Told me he was changing, he wasn't the man he was, and it was all because of me."
"I see," Giles said quietly. No expression showed on his face. "How did you respond?"
Buffy gave him a duh look. "Well, how did you expect me to respond? He's a vampire! He can't possibly feel love; he doesn't have a soul! I told him the only feelings I had for him were revulsion and loathing. Not to mention disgust. Then I hit him and came home. And he couldn't get in, 'cause we'd already done the uninvite spell."
Giles frowned. This didn't seem to him to be the wisest course of action, for her to shut out the vampire who had pretty much been taking Angel's place for the last year. But he said nothing.
Buffy continued, "And then last night, Drusilla set a trap for me with all these dozens of vampires, and Spike showed up and helped me fight them. But then he hit me! And it didn't hurt him. So now I want to find out why he can hit people now and not have it hurt. Did he get the chip out, or what? Oh my God, what if he did? He can get into your apartment, Giles! We have to do the uninvite spell there, too! Thank God Xander's out of his basement. But he could still get into the house! What if Xander's parents are in danger? We have to --"
"Buffy. Calm down. Even if Spike were going to commit mass murder, he still couldn't do it for another 13 hours." Giles stood up and went to the bookshelves, scanning the titles. "Meanwhile, you can do some more research on Glory. The Council sent some new material; rather a lot, I'm afraid, and I haven't had time to go through all of it. If you can take your mind off of Spike for a while, I'd appreciate the help."
"Oh, she can't do that." Anya couldn't resist commenting. "She's being all outraged and double-standard about him. She can't possibly concentrate on those boring old books. She's too busy repressing the fact that she likes him back."
Giles had his back to them, and allowed himself a small smile. "Whether that is true or not, Anya, can you mind the store for a while? I'm going to pay Spike a visit. Find out the truth."
Buffy leaped to her feet, alarmed. "Giles, you can't do that! What if he's not chipped anymore? He'll kill you!"
Giles looked overly taken aback. "Oh, thank you for the warning, Buffy! I never would have thought of bringing weapons!" His voice dripped with sarcasm.
She sank down sheepishly into her chair. "Sorry." She brightened. "But can I still beat up things while you're gone?"
Giles knocked on the door of the crypt, then flung the door open. "Spike?" he called, squinting in the dimness.
"What do you want, Watcher?" Spike spoke quietly from the shadows. A match flared briefly in the gloom, then went out as the cigarette glowed brightly. "Come to kill me, have you?"
"Actually, I came to talk," Giles said. "Are you going to kill me?" he asked directly.
Spike snorted, stepping out of the shadows. He wore black jeans and a dark grey shirt. "Like I could," he said bitterly. Smoke lined his words as he exhaled.
"Buffy told me you hit her last night, and didn't feel any pain," Giles said. "How did that happen?"
Spike took another deep drag of his cigarette and motioned Giles toward the chair. He seated himself on the lid of the sarcophagus and reached down into it for a bottle. He took a swig, then tossed it to Giles, much as he had done to Riley only weeks before. His scar itched where Riley had "staked" him.
"How much did she tell you?" he asked, finally.
"She summed up the events from the past two nights," Giles told him. "She told me about Drusilla, and everything."
"She tell you what a complete bitch she was to me?" the vampire asked, catching the bottle Giles tossed back to him.
Giles raised his eyebrows. "Yes, she told me that, too." He leaned forward in the chair and directed a piercing look at Spike, just as he directed a piercing question. "Spike, did you get the chip out?"
Spike laughed cynically. "Gonna kill me if the answer's yes?"
Spike finished his cigarette and put it out. Took another drink, and put the bottle away. "Yeah, I did. The other night after I bounced off the 'Spike's not welcome' barrier at the slayer's house, I got picked up by that Glory chippie. She threatened to kill me to try and get to the slayer, but I told her Buffy'd probably just thank her. Then she tried to suck my brain, but took the chip out instead. She thinks if I can kill people again, I can help her find the key."
Giles sat up straight. "Spike, you didn't tell her!"
"Hell, Giles, what do you take me for? Of course I didn't tell her! I kinda like little Bite-size. No, Glory-chickie's barking up the wrong tree. I just hope you lot can find a way to kill her before she finds that out. Bit squicksome, having someone's fingers in your skull." He thought a moment, then added, "For the third time."
"Do you honestly love Buffy?" Giles asked after an uncomfortable pause.
"Yeah," Spike said harshly. "For all the good it'll do me."
"Can I believe you?"
"Why should you? She didn't." His voice was rough, caustic.
"Can I?" Giles repeated patiently.
Spike dropped his head and nodded. "Yeah." A thought struck him and he got up again. "Listen, you don't have to worry. I'm not going on a feeding frenzy or anything. I did sorta bite some drunk guy last night, but I only took a pint or so. I swear, I'm not into killing people anymore. And I'm not going to hurt you guys... tempted though I am sometimes to beat Xander into a big red mush on the pavement, I'm not going to do it."
Giles smiled and stood up. "I think we've all been tempted to do that," he admitted. He thought a moment, and said, "I'm not going to tell Buffy you've had the chip out. If she knew, she'd stake you in an instant... and I'm starting to think it might be in all of our best interests to keep you alive a little longer. Just be aware that if you hurt any one of us, I'll find you and practice on you what I learned from Angelus during the Acathla incident."
Spike swallowed hard. Giles nodded curtly to him and left.
Glory still waited, not quite so patiently. "Where the hell is my vampire? He should have brought me my key by now! He's had two whole days!"
Her scaly underling tried to reassure her. "Most beauteous curley-haired one, whose every inch of skin is jasmine-scented, you must not forget that vampires sleep during the day. And at night is when the humans with whom he associates sleep. I'm sure he will be here soon. He will be drawn to your magnificence... and your wonderfully shapely legs."
Glory relaxed and smiled. "Yes. I'm sure he will."
Spike's routine didn't change that much. He still didn't feed from people that often; he seemed to have lost his "taste" for their blood. Plus, if the slayer found humans with bite-marks on their necks, she'd be over to stake first and ask questions later. It sure wouldn't matter to her whether the bites were on still-living people or not! She'd just assume that he'd been interrupted before he could finish. One night, after Buffy was in for the night, he crept up to their porch and opened the door. He smiled as he stuck his foot through it; his invitation was still valid! Quietly he closed the door again and went home.
Buffy looked suspiciously at Giles when he told her Spike was still harmless. "Maybe he just controlled his reaction to the pain," Willow suggested. Buffy shrugged and resolved not to think or worry about it anymore.
A week went by. She hadn't seen Spike since the night he'd slugged her, and Glory was becoming a much more pressing concern. Things had been too quiet; no vampires around, no other demons -- that, and Anya and she still weren't speaking to each other.
"I don't know why she can't just admit it," Anya argued to Xander when they were alone one night in the magic shop. "And I don't see what's so wrong with him anyway. He's not much different from me, and you seem to like me okay." She paused for a kiss, then continued, " -- or from that wolfy guy that Willow used to see. Or even from tall, dark, and scowly. Angel. Am I the only one who sees that Spike has changed?"
"No, Anya, you're not." Giles' voice was quiet in the gloom of the darkened shop.
Xander yelped. "Geez, Giles, I thought you'd gone home!"
"Oh, I had to come back after a book. I'm sorry for eavesdropping. But I agree with you, Anya. He has -- I hesitate to say it, but -- he has almost become one of 'the gang' as you would put it. And even without a soul as Angel has, he's been forced to learn some self control because of the chip. Not to mention that if I had a choice between Angelus with no soul and Spike with no chip, Spike would be my choice. Hands down. He just doesn't seem to have the same... brutality. He might have a demon inside him, but he's not a sadist." Giles picked up his book. "Plus, he's been helping us of his own accord these last several weeks. No one's paying him anymore."
"Exactly!" Anya said, beaming. "Now why can't Buffy just realize her own feelings? I mean, if she really wanted him 'out of her life and off this planet,' well... let's just say she had the cure for Spike's existence right there handy. If she really hates him so much, why doesn't she stake him?"
"Maybe she just doesn't want to kill anything that's harmless," Xander suggested with a yawn.
"Nix!" Anya said triumphantly. "What about that five-inch tall fear demon at halloween? He couldn't exactly have hurt any of us, yet she stomped him into a flat little pancake of a fear demon. So that's no excuse. She likes him. I know she does." She yawned as well, and stood up. "Xander, let's go home. I'm tired. Good night, boss." She and Xander went out, leaving Giles alone. He smiled a little at Anya's abrupt manner; he was beginning to get used to her. He went home as well, locking the shop behind him.
Buffy sat on the training room floor alone in the dark, leaning against the door. Even her friends were on Spike's side! She shook her head, exasperated, and snuck out the back door to head home herself.
Glory flattened the door of Spike's crypt with one fist, and strode in. "Oh, Spikey!" she called.
"Over here, lady," he said. His heart was in his throat; he didn't know what he was going to tell her. He shied away from the late afternoon sunlight streaming in the door and illuminating almost the entire crypt.
"Spikey. Sweet vampire," Glory said, flinging herself down in his chair and tossing one leg over the arm of it. "Did you know the key was in the slayer's house?" Spike feigned surprise. "Yes, you bleached mosquito, a little birdie told me the key was in the slayer's house! And I didn't see hide nor hair of it when I was there a couple weeks ago! Now tell me, you miserable excuse for a creature of the night, how come you didn't know that?"
Spike thought fast. "Didn't I tell you I can't get in without an invitation? Can't very well go snooping around in there if I can't get in, can I?" He lit a cigarette with feigned casualness. "I've been asking around and cracking the books, but no one knows anything in this town."
Glory sighed. "It's true, isn't it? I only found out by accident. Something my brother Ben let drop." She sinously slithered to her feet again and came closer to him. "Now listen, my little nocturne, tonight I'm going to go there and find it. Want to come with me?"
"Won't do any good," Spike said. "I still can't get in without an invitation. And it has to be given by one of the residents."
"Just you leave that to me," Glory said. "Auntie Glory will take care of everything. Now, I don't have a use for the slayer's family or friends, so you're going to eat them until the slayer tells me where the key is. Nine o'clock good for you?"
"Nine's good," Spike said.
Glory came over and took away his cigarette. She put her lips around it in a lascivious manner, and pulled at it with one draw until it was burned to the filter. She exhaled a giant cloud of smoke into Spike's face. "You know, I've never liked menthol. Tomorrow, then. Bye, sweetie!" and she left.
Spike smirked to himself. "Blowing smoke ain't that intimidating if the person you blow it at don't have to breathe!" He waited until sunset, then was off for the magic shop as fast as he could go.
Giles was alone for once, and Spike blurted out the whole story in one breath. "Come on, Watcher, you got to come up with something. And the slayer can't even send them to my place anymore; that Glory bitch knows where I live. Not that the slayer would trust me with them now anyway," he said bitterly. "Lady said she'll be there at nine. She said that I'm to eat Buffy's family until Buffy tells her where the key is. And she knows it's in that house somewhere!"
"Glory thinks you'll be working with her tonight?" Giles clarified. "She wants you to eat Joyce and Dawn, and then have Buffy tell her where the key is?"
Spike nodded. "Yeah, and you might want to take note of this: she said something about her brother Ben telling her the key is in there. Do you know anyone named Ben?"
"Only the intern at the hospital. He was there when Joyce..." Giles' voice trailed off. "Oh, hell. Buffy's planning to go out with him tomorrow night."
Spike was surprised into laughter. It started slow, then built until he could barely stand. Giles folded his arms and stared at Spike frostily. Spike, laughing, said, "That girl does have the most bleeding awful taste in men! She thinks I'm too evil for her, and she's going on a date with Glory's brother! Oh, this is rich!" Spike sat down and laughed some more.
"If you're quite finished..?" Giles asked. Spike calmed down but kept a smile on his face as Giles continued, "What would you suggest we do?"
"There isn't time for a big plan. Just tell everyone when I get to them to play dead. We'll figure something out."
"I'll let the others know what's going on. Why don't you lie low, and meet us there a little before 9."
"One problem. Glory smashed in my door. Mind if I lie low in here?" Giles shrugged and Spike made his way out to the training room. "Mind if I hit things?" he muttered as he began to punch the bag.
The gang assembled at the Summers' house without Spike. The vampire waited outside for Glory to show up. Smack on the dot at 9:00, Glory came clicking up the street in her high heels. "Oh, good, Spikey, you're here. Now let's see about getting you in." She went up the stairs and knocked. Joyce opened the door and Glory smiled and said, "Hi, is Buffy in? We'd like to see her." Spike stood in the shadows at the bottom of the steps, knowing Joyce recognized him and silently willing her to play along.
"Yes, she's here with some of her friends," Joyce said. "Come on in, they're in the kitchen." Glory smiled as she and Spike went through the door together.
Buffy, Dawn, Xander, Giles, and Willow were all sitting around the kitchen table. "Oh, my God, what are you doing here? And Spike? How'd you get in? I might have known you'd team up with her!" Buffy spat.
"Now, now, calm down, little slayer. Spikey's just here to help me out a little. Here's how it's going to work. Now I know the key is in this house somewhere. He's just going to help me find it."
Buffy was puzzled. She looked suspiciously at Spike, who gave her a big smile -- and shifted into his vampire's face. Glory cocked her head to look at him. "Aren't you cute?" she said fondly. To the others, she said, "Here's the deal. Spike's going to kill you all, one by one, until Buffy tells me where the key is."
"He's not going to kill any of us. Not while I'm here," Buffy maintained stoutly.
With a faster-than-movement move, Glory was behind Buffy, twisting Buffy's arms back in her ferociously strong grip. "Want to bet?" she whispered in Buffy's ear. Buffy struggled, but this time she couldn't even so much as loosen Glory's grip. Glory smiled at her new vampire pet. "Well, Spike? Who's it going to be first? And you guys, if you try to stop him, the slayer is dead."
"Don't think I'll touch the whelp," Spike growled. "Probably give me heartburn."
"Hey!" Xander protested -- then shut up fast.
Spike picked Xander up and threw him bodily out the kitchen door. Then he seized Willow by the throat and pulled her back against him. "This is the one who teleported you last time, you know," he told Glory. Buffy hissed angrily at him, and he grinned. "I think Red will be first," he said. He gently tipped her head back and to the side, and bent his head down. "Play dead, Red," he whispered, and clamped his lips to her neck as if he was sucking her dry. Then he dropped her limp body to the floor, shoving it out of his way.
"Well, Slayer?" Glory asked. "Any thoughts?"
"Just that I'm SO going to kill Spike!" Buffy ground out.
Spike went over to Joyce. He looked at her appraisingly, then turned back to Glory. "I think she and the watcher are too old to eat. I'll just kill 'em the old fashioned way." Giles tried to hit him, but he knocked the man aside as he grabbed Joyce ad turned her head sharply to one side. She went limp and he dropped her. Dawn screamed and knelt down over her mother's body.
Glory twisted Buffy's arm and she gasped in pain. "Now, now, old man. None of that, or you get your slayer back in pieces!"
Giles was next. "Hm. If I kill the Slayer's Watcher, even if she lives, she'll be all alone and directionless in life," Spike commented. "Might be fun at that; you know, to see the look on her face." He twisted Giles' head sharply and the body went limp, too. He brought it over to show Buffy. "See what happens when you're mean to me, Slayer?" he taunted. He dropped Giles at her feet.
Buffy was in tears now, shaking with rage at her own impotence. "Spike? How could you do this? I thought you said --"
"Oh, you're surprised, Slayer? Why? Isn't this what you always expected me to do if I ever got the chip out?" He grinned malevolently. "I'm just living up to your expectations, luv. You know, once evil, always evil. That's the rule, right?" He went and picked up Dawn from where she'd been crying over Joyce.
"I knew it! I knew you'd got the chip out!" Buffy seethed, twisting in Glory's grasp. "Giles said you were still harmless, but I knew!"
"Of course, sweetie," Glory told Buffy. "I took the chip out for him. It was in my way... and definitely in his!"
"Spike, please!" Buffy pleaded. "Please don't hurt Dawn! She's --" she suddenly remembered that Glory couldn't know about Dawn's being the Key. "Please, Spike! If you ever really did love me, please don't hurt my little sister!" She begged.
"Oh, that's so sweet!" Glory exclaimed with a sniffle. "True love is a beautiful thing. Then again, SO IS MY KEY! Now, where is it?" She twisted Buffy's arms again and made her cry out.
Spike stiffened at the sound, then resolutely turned his back on Buffy and her captor. Dawn floundered in his grasp. Some sounds behind him told him Buffy was struggling, and he took advantage of the distraction to whisper to Dawn, "It'll hurt a little, but play dead and you'll live."
Buffy took advantage of the Glory's change of grip and threw herself forward, out of Glory's grasp. She attacked Spike with all the fury of a wild animal, but Glory was just as quick, and grabbed her again. This time she kept Buffy's wrists in one iron-handed grip, and the other hand circling Buffy's throat. And squeezing it. "Now, now! Spike's just doing what I asked him to do. Leave him be!"
Thus emboldened, Spike turned back to Dawn. "I meant what I said, niblet," he growled. "And you so young!" he sounded saddened. Then he turned his face away from Glory and gave Dawn a big wink. She was ashen and trembling, but stopped struggling. Spike gently pushed back a lock of her long brown hair, and bent to her neck.
He bit down lightly and withdrew his fangs after just breaking the skin. He kept his mouth on her neck, same as he'd done to Willow, so neither Glory nor Buffy could see that he wasn't really sucking her blood. After the requisite amount of time, he let her body fall to the ground.
"You're next, darling," Glory crooned to Buffy, swaying a little with her. "Everyone's dead now. All your friends are gone. Your mother and sister are worm food, and I still don't have my key. What'll it be? I'll bet Spike would love to get a taste of you!" She squeezed Buffy's throat a little harder.
Spike blinked and turned away so the slayer wouldn't see his expression. Boy, would he like to get a taste of her!
"It's too late," Buffy said through her pain. "The key is gone now."
"What do you mean?" Glory asked. She shook Buffy a little. "What do you mean?" she began to sound a little panicked. "Spike? Find out what she means?" Glory's voice began to falter, to weaken. "Come on, Spike. I know you can always tell things about a person when you bite them. What are you waiting for? Bite her!"
Spike swaggered over to Buffy, hoping neither one of them would notice his nervousness. If he played this wrong now, either he'd be dead or the slayer would. He locked eyes with Glory. "Move your hand now, there's a luv. I can't get to her throat proper with your hand in the way." His voice was suddenly soft and velvety. Glory readjusted her grip to stand behind Buffy, and Spike took the slayer smoothly in his arms, so their bodies were touching all the way down. He caressed her neck with one strong hand, and twined her hair around the other, so he could use it to hold her head back. "Mmm, I've dreamed of this, Slayer," he purred. He bent forward and pressed his fangs to her neck without breaking the skin. "Last chance. Want to tell the lady what she wants to know?"
Buffy said nothing. She had even stopped struggling. She just waited, caged by Glory's hands, for Spike to fulfill her death wish. She had nothing left to live for now. "Just do it, Spike," she said quietly. She felt his lips on her neck, and shivered. "Please," she begged.
Spike positioned his mouth directly over where he knew Angel had bitten her, and let his fangs slide in. Gently, oh so gently, and then he withdrew them and licked the wound. "Now then, pet. Tell the lady where the key is."
Buffy had heard of vampires being able to tell things from the taste of their victims' blood, but she'd never heard of it going both ways! There was something... something horribly intimate about what he'd just done.
"Come on," Spike's voice was still soft and smooth. "Don't be afraid. Just tell the lady what she wants to know." He licked her neck again, sending chills down her spine.
"Glory? Turn me loose, and I'll tell you," she decided aloud.
Glory shrugged and let go. She could always kill her later. Buffy went to where Dawn was lying, and looked down at her with bleak eyes. "The monks took the energy of the Key," she said. "They wanted to keep it away from you... so they took it and re-shaped it. They made it human, and sent it to me to protect. In the form of my little sister."
Glory's jaw dropped. "Your little sister? As in, that dead one right there?"
Buffy nodded. "Yeah. Looks like you outsmarted yourself this time. Not much use to you now, is she?"
Glory screamed. She stomped around the kitchen, leaving tiny holes in the linoleum from the heels of her shoes. She screamed again and again, until Buffy had to put her hands over her ears.
"You killed my Key!" she screamed at Spike. "You killed my only chance to get back to my hell-hole!"
"I only did what you asked," he defended. He backed up as she advanced, until he tripped over Joyce's leg and almost fell. "You said you wanted me to help! That's what I was doing!"
"Yeah, that's true," Glory admitted, in a very sudden, very calm voice. "I did ask for your help last week. Even took out your chip and everything! So, tell me, Spike," she perched on the edge of the table. "Have you had a good week without it?"
He gave her a forced smile. One minute she's ready to kill him, the next she's making small talk! This chick was way more unbalanced than Dru had ever been! "Yeah, it's been fun," he said.
Buffy reached back and collected her stake from behind her shirt, and headed toward Spike. His back was to the kitchen door, which suddenly opened. Xander walked, followed by --
"Ben?" Buffy exclaimed.
"I brought reinforcements," Xander said. "Out of the way, Spike." Spike dove to the floor as Glory shrieked again and flew at her brother.
"Ben, they killed my Key! My key, my precious key, she's all dead now and I'll never get home!" Glory wailed as she wept violently in her brother's arms. They seemed to stand closer and closer, until their skin was no longer separate. Ben and Glory gradually melted together, until all that was left was Glory wearing Ben's clothes. She looked once more at Dawn, lying lifeless on the floor, and let out a piercing scream of pain and frustration.
Then she exploded.
Tiny bits of hell-goddess flew through the kitchen, falling to the floor and hitting the cabinets with big wet splats.
Buffy pushed Spike up against the kitchen wall and prepared to shove the stake through his heart.
One of the wet hell-goddess-bits struck Dawn on the cheek, and she sat up and coughed. "Ew, gross! That is so disgusting!"
"Dawn?" Buffy exclaimed, dropping her stake in shock.
"Oh, this is going to be awful to clean up," Joyce said as she scrambled to her feet, almost slipping in the blood. She took Spike's proffered hand as he helped her up. "Spike, did you really have to twist me so hard?"
"Sorry, Joyce," he told her. "Had to make it look real, didn't I?"
"I wonder if there's a magical clean-up-goddess-bits spell," Willow wondered.
"Willow?" Buffy was near to fainting.
Willow felt her neck. "I think I have a hickey. Wonder what Tara will say?"
"You don't have a real hickey," Dawn said with pride, pointing to where Spike had broken the skin on her neck. "Not like mine!"
"Can we please move on to a different topic," begged Giles as Xander helped him up. "This evening has been disturbing enough without making it worse."
"Guess she had a 'splitting headache,'" Xander offered.
"Yeah, she went all to pieces," Willow quipped.
Dawn giggled and said, "She got mad and just lost her head!"
"Pity she couldn't have kept it together," was Spike's deadpan offering.
Buffy gave Spike an incredulous look. "But you... I thought you... You killed them all! Didn't you?"
He waved her away. "Please! Like I'd hurt any of your people! Well, except Xander, maybe," he added thoughtfully.
"Hey!" Xander protested again. Spike just laughed.
Two days later, Buffy went over to Giles' house, where Spike was staying until he could find a new place. Giles was at the shop, and Spike sat alone on the couch, watching television. She came in and sat down next to him. Neither one spoke or looked at the other for a long time.
Finally, Buffy asked, "I suppose an apology would sound really lame after all this? "
"Dunno, luv; try it and see," Spike responded, eyes still glued to the telly.
She reached out as if she was going to take his hand, then hesitated and withdrew it. "I've... had to do some heavy thinking this last week," she began.
"Hope it didn't hurt," Spike muttered, just to egg her on.
She slapped his arm lightly. "Are you going to listen to me, you bleached moron? Or do I have to drag you outside?"
"Bit bright out there for me," he commented. Switching the television off, he turned to her. "All right, Slayer, I'm all ears."
"Um... I don't know where to start."
"How about with 'Spike, I'm sorry I was such a consummate bitch to you last week'?" He imitated her voice in a falsetto, and grinned.
"Well, you're the one who tied me up and threatened to have Drusilla kill me!" she raised her voice a little.
"Well, would you have stayed to listen otherwise?" he demanded.
"Because you're a vampire! You're evil and not capable of love --" Buffy started her usual tirade until she caught Spike's patient, eyebrows-raised expression, reminding her of the events of three nights ago.
She took a deep breath and said, "All right. I'm sorry for thinking you couldn't change. I mean, how was I to know? You've had that chip out for a whole week, and haven't killed anyone? Anyone I know, I mean," she amended.
"Anyone," he corrected gently.
Her eyes widened, but she went on. "And then, when you could have gone all evil, and rid the world of not only the slayer, but her entire support system as well -- you didn't. And the others told me what you did. I wish I'd known, so I didn't think you really killed everyone, but that's beside the point."
"If you'd known, you wouldn't have let me do it," Spike explained. "It was the only way to get to her. You'd never have trusted me enough, otherwise."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that, too," she said. "And Spike, I'm sorry about last week. With Dru. I was just so shocked I didn't know how to respond. And I didn't think you were capable of changing. Do you blame me?"
"Well, yeah," he said in all honesty. "If you weren't all caught up in your own little world, maybe you'd have noticed a difference these last few months.
Buffy accepted the rebuke. It was, after all, fair. And Spike had always told her the truth about herself, even if it meant distancing her. "You're right," she said slowly. "I've been so caught up in worrying about Dawn and Glory and Mom that I haven't really paid much attention to much else."
"Such as me," Spike remarked. "Or even White-bread Finn."
Buffy blushed. "You're right," she said again, painfully. "I treated him pretty badly too."
"Of course, I don't mind about that," Spike told her genially. "Unless you were using him to practice how you were going to treat me?" He grinned, his especially infuriating grin, and she slapped him on the arm.
"Spike, I'm trying to apologize!" Buffy raised her voice, exasperated. "I'm trying to say I'm sorry, and all you're doing is laughing at me! What the hell do you want from me, anyway?"
Spike sobered. "Same thing I told you last week," he told her seriously. "A crumb. A tiny, tiny hope that maybe someday you'd be willing to give me a chance. That's all I want, Buffy. I don't want to rush off and get married or anything; I just want a sliver of hope."
His words reminded Buffy of when they had been enspelled and engaged. She smiled at the memory and told him, "Fine. I'll give you a chance. But if we ever do rush off and get married, we do it my way. Outside, in the park. With 'Wind Beneath my Wings' for our first dance." Her eyes twinkled, and Spike laughed out loud.
"Whatever you say, luv!" He laughed again, and with a total disregard for his own life, he kissed her.
Buffy's breath caught in her throat. She'd never been kissed like this before; Spike hadn't been kidding when he'd talked about the heat, the desire, that sparked between them! His kiss was electric, sending shocks all over her nervous system, and when it ended, she grabbed the back of his head and pulled his lips down to hers again. She explored his mouth thoroughly, loving the taste and the feel of him. Kissing Angel had been nothing like this! This was wild, raw -- and tender and gentle, all at the same time.
When they finally separated, she stayed in Spike's arms and rested her head on his shoulder. "If you'd kissed me like that last week, I might not have been so mean."
His arms tightened around her. "If I'd kissed you like that last week, you would have slain me where I stood, pet. But it's just as well. Now we don't have Glory hanging over our heads."
She stirred and sat up. "Oh, um... you're welcome at my house, you know."
He grinned. "Yeah, I know. Have been for a week; I went to talk to little sis right after Glory got finished digging around in my noggin. Dawn invited me in again then."
"You mean you've had an invitation to my house for a week? And you haven't had the chip in?" Buffy was incredulous.
"Well, yeah. Told you I'd changed, Buffy. How many times do I have to tell you before you believe me?"
Buffy snuggled up to him once more. "Once more ought to do it."
Spike ran his fingers through her hair and tipped her face up to kiss again. His voice husky, he said, "I've changed, Buffy. Give me a chance, why don't you?"
She kissed him in response, and then nothing more was said for a long, long time.
Additional disclaimers, because I loathe plagiarism: The idea that Glory might be able to remove Spike's chip came from Raven3925. I thought it was a bloody marvelous idea. The idea of Spike's covering Angel's bite came from Avalon.
Come on, hit that little blue button on the bottom and tell me what you thought. You know you want to!