Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Rating: PG-13 for Spike's potty mouth.
Length: Short story (around 2500 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Written for: Thomasina75's Fred ficathon, for ScarletAngel68.
Notes: Request was for: Spike/Fred or no pairing; Gunn and/or Lorne; Fred in a leather jacket, snark, and a permanent marker. No unhappy ending or angst. Rating up to PG-13. Post-Spike getting corporeal? What would have happened if he'd gone to Fred instead of Harmony? Not that way, you freaks; get your minds out of the gutter.
Shocked and delighted, Spike practically danced around the lobby. Corporeal again! After stealing Angel's blood, giving Charlie a gigantic hug, and thoroughly kissing Harmony (ignoring her exclamation of disgust), a thought struck him. "I've got to go see Freddi!"
He burst into the lab, grabbed Fred up in a bearhug, and whirled her around several times. "Spike!" she said breathlessly, when he put her down. "You're--you're solid!" Her slightly manic grin matching his, she patted him all over with her hands. "How did it happen?" She snatched a scanner from one of the desks and ran it over him.
It screeched, smoked, fizzed, and died with a loud pop, just as the rest of the instruments in the lab did the same thing. "Oh, damn," she said, disappointed, but turned to him eagerly. "What happened? Tell me all about it."
"Dunno. Someone mailed me a box, Harm opened it for me, flash, tingle, and I'm a real boy again. What say you and me blow this popsicle stand and go out on the town?"
The lab had erupted in chaos as the equipment fried. Fred sighed. "I'd love to, Spike, but I think I'm needed here."
Spike looked around at the techs milling aimlessly about. "Not much you can do until all your little sparklies come back online, is there?" He gave her a roguish grin. "C'mon, luv, I've been a ghost for months now, and I'd rather spend my first day as a solid citizen with you than anyone else. You're the only one in the whole building who believed in me."
"Ooooh..." She waved her hands around for a second, then deflated. "I can't. Really. I'm sorry, Spike."
He leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. "All right, pet. You stay here and be responsibility-girl. I need to go out and pick up a few things. We'll go out tonight, yeah?" He tilted his head.
She surrendered. He was a force of nature. "Tonight."
"Oh, come on, you pillock. A little dosh is all I want."
"You'll just buy booze and cigarettes with it." Angel crossed his arms.
"So what? It wouldn't kill you to give me a bit of walking around money. Oh, and some wheels."
"Why would I do that, Spike? You don't work here. Until half an hour ago you just haunted the place and were a general pain in my ass. Now you're solid, and you're a specific pain in my ass."
"Bloody..." Spike ran his hand through his hair. "Look, give me some money and a car, and I'll get out of here for awhile. Let you deal with--" He waved his hand around the melee in the lobby. "--whatever this is, without having to worry about what I'm doing or who I'm keeping from their work."
Angel cut his eyes toward the ceiling in the general direction of the lab, and heaved a put-upon sigh. "Fine. Harmony?"
"Yeah, boss?" Harmony chirped from her desk.
"Get Spike a corporate card and the keys to--"
"The Viper," Spike interrupted.
"Anything but the Viper," Angel said, glaring at him. "Try not to set anything on fire while you're out and about, okay? Unless it's yourself." He stomped into his office and slammed the door.
Spike leaned on Harmony's desk and gave her his most winning smile. "He didn't mean it about the Viper."
"Oh, yes he did." Harmony did an eeny-meeny-miny-moe and came out with a keyring with a little running horse on it, and a corporate Platinum Visa. "You can have this one."
He curled his tongue up behind his front teeth. "You're looking absolutely ravishing today, you know that? That skirt looks especially lovely, sets your legs off nicely."
She would have blushed if she could have, looking down at her desk in pretty confusion. He thought he had her, but then she looked up with an angry glower. "You're...you're doing that thing again!"
He stepped back and put his hands up. "What thing?"
She came out from behind the desk and shook her finger under his nose. "That thing! With the compliments and that...thing you do with your tongue, and the smile thing! Did you really think I was going to just fall into your arms and we'd be all cuddly and stuff, like it was?" Her voice rose to a crescendo. "Well, not on your life, mister! I won't be played like that, ever again, not by anyone, and especially not by you! I am not. Your. Girl!" She screamed the last sentence, then vamped and attacked him, fingernails extended and reaching for his face. Disturbingly, her eyes were bleeding as well, and he stepped back, startled at her vehemence.
She kept coming, raking a nail across his cheek before he could fend her off. He pushed her backwards, but she leaped at him again, swinging wildly at his head. He ducked, then came up and popped her one on the chin, putting her down and out. "That went well," he muttered. He grabbed the key and the credit card she'd gotten out for him, and left.
"This is a bit of all right," Spike said, sliding behind the wheel of the metallic blue 1965 Mustang Fastback. It was a poor second to the Viper, but, as the engine purred to life, he decided it would definitely do.
The first self-imposed assignment to carry out, he decided, was to find a mall and get something nice for Freddi. She'd done so much for him, given him the gift of her friendship, and he wanted to gift her back in a way that was extravagant and overblown. A shopping center with covered parking wasn't hard to find, and as long as he watched himself around the skylights indoors, he wouldn't cause much comment by catching on fire or anything embarrassing like that.
He wandered about, looking at...stuff. Jewelry? She didn't wear much, and he didn't really know what she liked. Clothes? Too pedestrian. Lingerie? Too intimate, although the memory of her in the shower made him briefly stop and smile. Home decor? He poked through a tobacco shop, noticing with bemusement that they seemed to sell a lot more than just cigars and pipes. The nutcrackers were beautiful, but again, he didn't know if that was her "thing" or not, so he bought himself a pack of smokes (Dunhills, from England!) and left in frustration.
The scent of leather wafted down the wide hallway, drawing him inexorably. "Oh, perfect," he breathed. Five minutes later, he was out of the shop with his purchase. Fifteen minutes after that, his present was gift-wrapped, and he was on his way back to the law firm.
Which hadn't, he saw, changed much.
Of course, after the meeting in Sirk's office, everything changed.
"I walk with heroes," Fred muttered, scribbling formulae on her white board, "but sometimes, they're real morons." Angel and Spike had disappeared into the desert, leaving her as the only one able to clean up the mess, or even start making sense of it. "Thanks a lot, guys." Lorne still hid in his office nursing a huge lump on his head, and Charles was unconscious and strapped to a gurney next to Harmony, similarly trussed. And she had no hope of Wesley returning; he wouldn't come back from his well-earned leave of absence for another week.
Her marker faded and died, and she flung it across the room in frustration. Nothing was making any sense! She grabbed for another one, erased what she'd previously written, and started over.
And just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. No explanation for either phenomenon, it just was. She stayed in the lab while the others sorted themselves out in Angel's office. Stairs, her ass. She wore out yet another marker and picked up a new one, uncapping it with her teeth.
A hand closed around her wrist before she could do anything with it, and she turned to see Spike standing there. "That's a permanent marker, pet. You might not want to write on your pretty board with it."
"Oh! Thank you," she said around the cap in her mouth. She tongued it away and set the marker down. "The cup was a fake, huh?"
"Yeah. Filled with flat Mountain Dew." He'd cleaned himself up a bit, she noticed, then wondered why she noticed.
"And how does a vampire know what Mountain Dew tastes like? I ask merely out of scientific curiosity, you understand." She smiled impishly.
"I have my ways. Can't tell you all my secrets. When the mysterious stranger is less mysterious, he's less interesting." He dropped his eyes, suddenly shy, and she noticed a gift-wrapped box on the table next to them. "Got you a prezzie. Hope you like it..." He trailed off, seeming uncomfortable.
"Oh, Spike, you didn't have to--"
"I wanted to, though. You tried so hard for me, when no one else cared. Go on, open it." He twitched from foot to foot while she tore at the paper.
The scent of new leather wafted out of the box, and she lifted out an absolutely stunning lipstick-red motorcycle jacket. "Oh...wow. It's gorgeous!" She slipped it on and spun around once, and he gazed in admiration at her.
"You look positively sensational in it, Freddi. Let's go out and show it off."
"Out? Like, on a, on a date?" She pulled the jacket around herself, retreating a little.
He backed off and looked at the floor. "Well, no, not a date as such, of course not. Your mates wouldn't like that at all; you goin' out with the likes of me would be all kinds of bad. Forget I said anything."
"Oh, damn. Spike, I didn't mean--" The hurt on his face was almost unbearable. "I was just surprised that you'd want to go out with me. Honestly, the fact that you even noticed me is...an anomaly."
"What, you don't get noticed? Are they blind?" He lifted her chin. "Fred. You are an intelligent, gorgeous, desirable woman. Don't ever let anyone tell you any different."
Her mouth twitched, though her lips were a little trembly. "Oh, they don't tell me. They don't say anything at all. Most of the time, I'm just one of the guys to them. Or, or, a sister, or a cousin. Certainly no one to be noticed in that way."
"They are blind then. Their bloody loss. Come on, pet, let me show you a good time. I didn't max out Angel's credit card yet, not even close. Let's go make a real dent in it. I've still got the keys to the Mustang, so we'd be all legal and everything."
She snorted out a laugh. "I can't believe you stole Angel's Viper to go to the Opera House in."
"Gotta twit the old man when I get the chance. Keeps him on his toes."
She dimpled. "Okay, Spike. Where are we going?"
"I know just the place."
After kissing Spike goodnight, Fred whirled around her apartment, half-giddy, and not just from alcohol. First they'd gone to dinner. She'd never seen a vampire enjoy food as much as Spike did, so that was a new experience, and her inner scientist marveled at it while the rest of her just had fun with him.
Dancing and drinks afterwards. She'd been hesitant about going out on the dance floor; years in Pylea had rusted what little capabilities she'd had in that department almost completely away. Spike, however, had refused to take no for an answer--and he brought moves from her that she'd have sworn, before, were physically impossible.
They'd driven around for hours, when the club closed, talking about this and that. The smoldering but gentlemanly kiss he'd given her on her doorstep was restrained, but heavy with promise. She hugged the fiery red jacket around herself and collapsed backwards on her bed. That had to be the best first date ever.
Did she love him? Too soon to tell, she told herself firmly. But she liked him, very much. And she was sure that being around him would never, ever, be boring.
Spike had beaten everyone in again, Gunn saw. He was corporeal now, but Charles supposed he still didn't have anywhere else to go. His eyebrows crawled up his forehead when Fred walked in a few seconds after he himself had, and Spike lifted her up, spun her around, and kissed her smack on the mouth right there in the lobby. Where had she gotten that jacket? And, dude, she didn't protest at all when he kissed her; what was up with that?
He felt a surge of unease, mixed with a little resentment. Yeah, Spike was one of the good guys now (Gunn supposed), but that didn't make him feel any better about his ex-girlfriend-who-was-still-his-friend dating a vampire. Time for a man-to-vamp with the newly corporeal not-so-evil undead.
After Spike saw her off with a wink and a smile, Gunn approached him. "Spike? Can I talk to you? In my office?"
"Sure, Charlie. Feelin' better?"
"Good night's sleep'll do wonders for a man," he pointed out as they got into the elevator. "How was your evening?"
"Fan-bloody-tastic. Our Freddi's a wonder, she is." Gunn could see realization dawn. "You're concerned, are you?"
"A little," Charles said. The elevator stopped on his floor, and they walked down to his office. He closed the door behind them and sat on the corner of his desk. "You just got solid again, and your emotions are probably on a pretty big roller coaster, man. Plus the fact that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with my friend going out with a vampire, even if he does have a soul."
Spike slouched into a chair. "Well, mine's anchored, so you don't have to worry about me going all evil if I get a big happy, at any rate." He laughed. "Which probably would have happened when I opened the box and realized I was corporeal again." Sobering, he said, "I've got the best of intentions, Charlie. I'd never do anything to hurt her."
"You do hurt her, I'll kick your undead ass." His tone was light, but he meant it.
"You'd have to get in line, I think. 'Sides, Fred would do it first. Our girl can take care of herself. Charlie," he said seriously. "I'd sooner die than see her hurt. Almost did, in fact."
"All right. Hey, man, I wish you two all the luck in the world." Gunn stood and clapped Spike on the shoulder, pushing back his inner jealous bastard. "Be nice to see someone around here happy for a change."
Spike lurked outside the lab, watching Fred run it with ruthless efficiency. She'd traded the jacket for a trademark white coat, her hair was pulled up and back and held in place by a ballpoint pen, and wisps of it fell across her forehead. She looked positively adorable.
When she looked up and tossed him a smile through the window, he thought to himself that this could be the start of something good.
A/N: Feedback rocks my world! And if you liked this, you might like my other fic as well. :-)