Spoilers: Through "Harsh Light of Day"
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: We never did get to hear that "funny story" that Spike seemed so eager to avoid about how Harmony and he met.
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
When Harmony Met Spiky
Funny things seemed to happen to Spike on a regular basis. Granted, he was rarely the one laughing. Occasionally, the universe apparently chose to make him its own personal jester, slipping metaphorical banana peels under his feet and then breaking into roars of celestial guffawing when he wound up top over teakettle as a result. In Spike's brain, that laughing always tended to sound suspiciously like Angelus's.
Today, however, the Powers That Be must have been particularly bored and mischievous because the metaphorical banana peel they sent hurling at him turned out to be the quite literal, yellow and splotchy brown, highly slippery genuine article. Perhaps it had been left lying on the litter-strewn sidewalk of Sunnydale by a raccoon who had pilfered the local supermarket's dumpster, or by an equally innocent and unsuspecting runaway monkey from the local zoo, or maybe a fiber and fruit conscious co-ed from Sunnydale U had accidentally dropped it from her bookbag. But Spike, for his part, refused to believe it had wound up directly under his left Doc through any process other than a malicious, well planned attack on him by Forces Beyond His Control.
Raccoon, monkey, co-ed, or avenging angel, whatever the case might be, the result was the same. Spike had gone from a sleek, panther-like prowl while exiting Willi's bar to a quick impression of a young Jerry Lewis, and then (damn, it really did sound like Angelus in his head) a very good approximation of the "I've fallen, and I can't get up" broad.
His natural instincts immediately came into play, and, like any self-respecting master vampire who's been made to look like an idiot would do, he let out a stream of curses so blue they made navy look pink while scanning the vicinity for any witnesses he needed to kill, or at the very least maim. Possibly maim and then kill, as it would make him feel a bit better. However, there seemed to be only one person anywhere nearby, and she was staring at him with a look of concern.
"If you're going to use language like that, I'm not even going to ask you if you're okay," she said with a pout.
Spike glared at her, a look that would have sent most sane humans running like hell, but this one seemed not even to notice.
"I'm bloody well fine!" Spike yelled, putting one hand on the ground and preparing to stand up and then drain the—admittedly attractive and nicely shaped—blonde girl who had seen the embarrassing display. However, as he put weight on his right leg, a searing pain shot from his ankle, and he found himself right back where he had started, sitting on the pavement and swearing loudly. Spike was now absolutely sure he'd broken his ankle; he'd snapped it twice in the past, so the pain was entirely familiar. Of course, the first time had been when he was human and had thrown himself out of the way of a runaway wagon, and the second had been in a preliminary scrape with his second Slayer. Never before had he been foiled by a banana.
The girl, he noted, was now coming closer with an expression of mild concern on her face. Well, he thought to himself, I've never particularly liked the old game of get-a-meal-by-playing-wounded, but as I'm not playing and a good feed might speed things up a mite, why not? Especially since she did happen to be a decidedly luscious looking morsel at that.
"You really are hurt," the girl said firmly, crouching down next to him. "Well, easier for me, I guess!"
With that, the last thing Spike expected happened as she opened her Barbie Doll pink lips, her fangs descended, and she proceeded to latch on to his jugular.
"Hey!" he yelped, batting her away relatively quickly as his own features changed. Not too strong, he decided, so she must be pretty new. "I'm not some sodding mortal! What kind of idiot would make that mistake!"
"Oops!" she said, turning slightly pink. "Sorry! I've only been doing this a couple months, so I'm still kind of a newbie."
"Yeah, well you should be sorry. Imagine, mistaking another vampire for a human," he said with a snort while mentally berating himself for not noticing her lack of a heartbeat. "I've never been so insulted."
"Sorry," she repeated, looking dejected. "Oh, hey, since we're both vampires and all, I guess I could, like, actually help you out as kind of, you know, a way of making up for my mistake?"
Spike looked her up and down. Then he looked her up and down again as he rather enjoyed the view. He'd spent another evening trying to find a cure for heartache in the bottom of a glass, desperately wanting to get Drusilla off his mind. What was standing in front of him seemed to be the anti-Dru: blonde instead of brunette, curvy instead of slim, Californian instead of Cockney, and, perhaps most appealing of all, not only could he understand everything she said but he got the distinct impression that the only subject on which she had a wealth of hidden, arcane knowledge involved a complete list of everyone Brad Pitt had ever dated.
"Sure, sweets," he said, and for the first time in months he turned the charm up to full blast with his patented come-hither smile and eyebrow lift. "Give us a hand up, yeah?"
She giggled and looked entirely smitten. Nice to know he still had it, he thought. He draped his arm around her neck and, using her as a prop, gingerly got to his feet. He took a quick inventory and realized he had a few other bumps and bruises, the most loudly protesting one apparently taking up the better part of his arse, but otherwise the broken ankle was his only major injury.
"So, like, do you live around here somewhere?" she asked earnestly.
"Yeah. Been keeping a bit of a spot off the sewers," Spike said, fixing her with a melting smile. "I just came back to town a few days ago. Haven't found a proper place yet."
"I thought you had an accent! Don't tell me, let me guess," she said, sounding really excited. "You're from France, right!"
Spike stared at her a moment, trying to figure out if she was in earnest. With a chuckle, he realized she was. "England, love. London, to be more specific."
"Oh," she said, her face falling. "Well, I was pretty close. They're, like, neighbors or something, aren't they?"
"Fairly close together, yeah," Spike said, doing quite a good job of ignoring the irate, highly British part of him that was screaming in protest at being mistaken for a Frenchman. "The name's Spike. And who might you be?"
"Harmony," she said, beaming again. "Born right here in boring old California."
Spike tried not to laugh at the name, but didn't quite succeed as a small snort escaped. Harmony? What had her parents been on?
"Hey! Like 'Spike' is such a normal name! What are you, in a band or something?" she said, putting her nose in the air.
"It's a damn sight more threatening than 'Harmony.' I've yet to hear a victim shriek, 'Help! Please don't stab me with that harmony!'" he pleaded in a falsetto. "Do believe I'll just call you Harm."
"Whatever," she mumbled, and he realized that perhaps he had crossed the line a tad, which could mean that the rest of the evening he had planned might go belly up if he didn't backtrack a bit.
"Meant no offense," he offered humbly (and quite untruthfully). "It's just… a prettier name than one usually gets with a vampire. Of course, one usually doesn't expect a vampire to be as pretty as you, either."
Harmony beamed at him, and he knew that he was back on track again. They began to walk slowly down the alley behind Willi's, Spike trying manfully not to limp too much or lean too heavily on the girl, but not succeeding terribly well. It definitely was broken, no question at all, and probably a bad enough break to warrant at least a couple days before it healed up. Well, he thought, eyeing Harmony again, bed rest wasn't necessarily a bad thing if he wasn't going to be the only one in the bed.
It was while he was pondering these pure and honorable thoughts that he completely forgot to look where he was going and wound up sinking his good foot straight into a pothole roughly the size of the Hellmouth. Spike pitched forward like a drunken man, which technically he was, cracking his kneecap against the pavement.
The words that came out of his mouth were highly x-rated, but as most of them were British, Harmony wound up thinking he was screaming something very strange about bugs. As it was, Spike ran out of steam eventually.
"Wow. You're really clumsy," she said, gazing down at him as he lay sprawled over the ground once more.
Spike stared at her three-inch stiletto heels. Why the hell couldn't it have been her? It should have been her. Every law of physics said that those damn shoes should be a walking death sentence, yet there she stood on two working legs and he was stuck with a broken ankle and…
…a shattered kneecap. No doubt about it. And, of course, as Fate would have it, they were on two different legs. This was going to take four days to heal up properly at the least.
"Ehm… Harm," he said, his mind reeling both from the pain and from the desire to get out of this incredibly embarrassing situation as fast as he could before somebody who actually mattered—such as the Slayer and her groupies—came along and found him wounded. At the least, he'd wind up staked. At the worst, he'd become a laughing stock. "I seem to be having a little trouble with my other leg."
She nodded, oddly still smiling pleasantly.
"There's a manhole cover around the next corner. Mind checking to see if the coast is clear?"
"Sure thing," she said, then bounced off. It took his mind off his pain for a second to watch her miniskirt swaying enticingly, but the next moment he was back to reality when both his knee and his ankle started throbbing in unison like a pair of drum majorettes trying to outdo one another.
"Nobody's out there," Harmony said, sashaying back down the alley. "At least I didn't see anybody."
He took a deep breath, thanking whomever for small favors, and tried one more time to get to his feet. The result involved yet more inventive cursing, but not a standing Spike. The next moment, though, Spike did indeed find himself moving rapidly down the alleyway. Before he had been able to protest, Harmony had obligingly swung him over her shoulder like a potato sack. He was now being carried by the girl, bum up, her arm wrapped around his injured knee (rather painfully), and his head dangling near her skirt hem. While the last bit wasn't all that bad, the rest of it was utterly humiliating.
"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled indignantly.
"Well, how are you planning on getting to the manhole? It's easiest, and really, it's no trouble," she said firmly. "Hey, you! Get out of the way! Injured person coming through!"
From the upside-down view between Harmony's knees, Spike was just able to make out a scaly pair of legs in front of them. Well, at least it wasn't the Slayer, or if it was she was in a worse way than he was.
"Spike?" said a voice, and damn it all if that celestial laughter didn't ratchet up a few notches as he recognized the voice of one of the Fyarl demons who had worked for him a couple years ago, and not just any Fyarl, either, but one of the nosiest, stupidest, and most gossipy creatures he'd ever met. He was worse than Darla. So perhaps Darla hadn't been stupid, he mentally amended, but damn if he couldn't picture her and this thing sitting down and having a right old laugh over this in a few years' time. Yet, there he hung like a trapped caveman in a cartoon, unable to do a thing except wonder how the demon had managed to identify him by the seat of his pants.
"Mind leaving me and the lady alone, Glamph? We've things to attend to," Spike grunted in Fyarl, desperately attempting to sound like this was all part of a perfectly natural and highly suave method of seduction.
"You upside-down," Glamph muttered in confusion. "Why upside-down?"
"Because I feel like it," Spike shot back. "It's a vampire mating ritual. Very secret, so don't tell anyone about it or you'll never work in this town again. Now get the hell out of my way or I'll turn your horns into my new coatrack. Got it?"
"Glamph leave," he responded, but there was a distinctly non-fearful tone to his voice. In fact, there seemed to be something that could possibly be the Fyarl equivalent of laughter issuing from him. Spike made a mental note to kill him later… after he healed up, of course. Still, the clomping of extremely heavy feet told him that the demon had indeed left.
"Did you, like, talk to that thing in a different language or something?" Harmony said in amazement.
"Yeah, pet. That'd be a Fyarl. They don't savvy much English," he said, hoping he could simply wake up and find he'd passed out behind Willi's bar… again.
"You must be really smart," Harmony said, her voice awed. "What did you say to him?"
Spike's brain, upside down though it might be, was still racing. "Said you were under my protection and if he wanted to hurt you, he'd have a fight on his hands," Spike assured her.
She squealed delightedly. He grinned. In like Flynn, he thought, though certain possibilities for the evening were obviously going to present something of a challenge in his current condition. With a sigh, he mentally drew a line through positions 18, 22, 36, and 43 through 72, which was rather sad as number 58 was his favorite. Still, plenty of other options were available.
By this time, Harmony had hauled him to the manhole cover. She carefully put him on the ground and then wrenched off the cover in a fairly smooth motion. Unfortunately, it slipped in her fingers and she dropped it directly on Spike's head.
It took him a moment to realize he was not dust. He couldn't be. The sound that seemed to be a giant church bell bonging was entirely the wrong sort of noise for him to be hearing, even if somehow he had managed to get to the other side without having a soul. There were five Harmonies in front of him, each one patently refusing to stand still, and each one had her hand raised to her mouth in silent horror.
"Oops?" she said with a grimace.
"Pretty birdies," he said, watching the happy bluebirds that Dru had always said were circling people's heads wheel merrily over Harmony's blonde locks before he decided a nap was a wise course of action.
What woke him was the water, or more specifically, the water hitting him smack-dab in the face, or rather vice versa. Coming very slowly to his senses and then wishing fervently that he hadn't as the drum majorettes in his knee and ankle had picked up an entire flag corps in his noggin, he became aware that every square inch of him was soaking wet. Groaning, he opened his eyes and found himself in a storm sewer. Well, he told himself, things really could have gone worse. It could have been the sewage system.
As he managed to pull himself into a seated position, pointedly ignoring the throbbing in his knee, he realized he was not alone. Harmony was, of course, standing a couple of feet away, looking at the pipe walls with utter disgust and having managed not even to dampen the toes of her shoes. But he could hear a heartbeat as well.
Looking around warily, he saw a human standing at the foot of the ladder beneath the manhole, chatting animatedly with Harmony. It was easy to understand why he hadn't noticed him before; the kid couldn't be more than five feet tall.
"You were a really big help and all, so I guess I shouldn't kill you… well, not this time," Harmony said with an attempt at an evil leer. She looked about as evil as a Teletubby.
"Who are you?" Spike asked, looking at the boy in disbelief.
"Um… Jonathon?" the human said uncertainly. "Harmony needed some help getting you down here."
"Yeah," Harmony said, smiling at Spike. "I couldn't figure out how to get you down the ladder after you fainted.
"I didn't faint!" Spike protested loudly. "Fainting is for girly poufters! You smacked me over the head with a manhole cover! That's called 'losing consciousness,' not fainting."
"Right, so after you fainted, I didn't want to just drop you down into the sewer, which, ew, really disgusting by the way. Then he came along," she said, pointing at Jonathon, "and we kind of got you down the ladder, but then I kind of tripped and dumped you in whatever that stuff is."
"Okay," Spike said, trying to ignore the mortification of having been aided to his home by a tiny girl and a boy who looked like Harmony could have beaten him up while she was still alive. "Let's eat him."
Jonathon blanched and made a break for it up the ladder. Harmony just let him go.
"Why didn't you stop him!" he yelled, his voice amplified in the hollow pipe.
"It wouldn't have been polite," Harmony said, shrugging.
"We're evil, soulless things!" he screamed. "We do not have a book of etiquette to follow! That's the whole bloody point of being a demon!"
"Well, I don't think being dead is an excuse for being impolite. If it makes you feel better, though, I'll maim him the next time I see him," she said with a pout.
"I can handle doing my own vengeful maiming, thank you very much," he said, glaring at her.
"You're welcome," she said automatically. "So, where to from here?"
How about you go to hell, he thought vehemently. However, his hormones came into play one last time, and he merely gestured down the left hand tunnel at a nearby intersection. Hoisted once more onto Harmony's shoulder, his head, shoulder and ankle pulsing like Ricky Martin's bon bon (he must have cracked his head harder than he thought, he mentally noted, for that particular image to crop up), and now soaked in dirty rainwater and Slayer only knew what else that was running through that pipe, and on top of that having been rescued by Vampire Barbie and her accomplice the mouth-breathing midget, Spike contemplated possibly throwing himself into a vat of holy water and being done with it. Still, the Gem of Amara was supposed to be around here somewhere. Maybe there was some reason to go trudging onwards… or at least have Harmony trudge onwards with him slung over her back.
At long last they arrived at what was currently passing for his home sweet home. A fairly roomy abandoned underground maintenance room branched off from the main pipe, and Harmony carried him pleasantly across the threshold.
"Huh. This is kind of depressing," she said appraisingly, taking in the bare cement walls and floor, the florescent lighting, and the total lack of anything pastel. With a thunk, she plopped him down in a nearby recliner that had several rents in it leaking stuffing.
This was immediately followed by Spike shrieking in pain and, broken ankle and kneecap or not, propelling himself out of the chair as fast as vampirically possible.
"GET IT OUT!" he yelled, rolling onto his stomach and sticking his rear in the air. "GET IT OUT!"
Harmony stared at him in speechless disbelief as she saw that a railroad spike was sticking out of the seat of his pants. Spike had been staring at it morosely earlier that night, thinking of happier times, nostalgically remembering the many nefarious plots he and Dru had carried out with this lovely little metal spike since he'd picked it up in 1885. Eventually, fed up with feeling depressed, he had chucked the spike over his shoulder as he went out the door to get as drunk as he could. He'd had no idea it had wound up sitting point-up on his favorite chair.
Screwing her face into an expression of complete disgust, Harmony took hold of the end of the spike and with a quick tug pulled it free, leaving a relatively small hole in his jeans.
"That was just plain wrong," Harmony said, staring at the spike before throwing it into a far corner. "You've got to be having, like, the worst night on record, Spike. Hey! Your name's Spike, and you wound up sitting on a spike! That's really a crazy coincidence, don't you think? Spike? Spike?"
But William the Bloody, Terror of Europe, Slayer of Slayers, had finally had enough and had indeed fainted dead away.
"He's kind of a wimp," Harmony said with a sniff, "but he's sort of cute, too."
Spike woke the next morning feeling like he'd been run over by a bus. No, check that, he thought, more like being run over by a minivan driven by a soccer mom. Just as painful, yet far less manly. Still, he was in his own bed, he wasn't dust, and things were bound to be better today in comparison to the travesty that was yesterday. He found he was able to roll over without too much pain thanks to that lovely turbo-healing he was heir to, and nestled a bit deeper into the blankets.
"You're up!" said a voice that was entirely too perky for this early in the evening.
He peeled open an eye, and there was Harmony, sitting on the pink armchair at the end of his bed, paging through the latest issue of Cosmo. The first thing he registered was that the cover story involved how to apply eyeliner sixty different ways, which simply did not seem possible to him. The second thought that ricocheted through his head was that he did not own a pink armchair, or a pink anything for that matter.
"Harm?" he mumbled thickly.
"You really slept in," Harmony said glancing at a Betty Boop alarm clock sitting on his nightstand. He stared at it in a kind of transfixed horror. "It's almost ten o'clock."
"What's all…" he began, trying to gesture around the room, which was showing marked signs of belonging to someone who was not him, and that someone seemed to prefer pink marabou and unicorns as their main decorating motifs.
"Last night was just… wow, you weren't kidding. The earth seriously was moving," Harmony said, coming over to sit next to him where he was still sprawled on the bed, "and that was with you all banged up and stuff!"
"Last night?" he said, his face the image of bewilderment. "We… you've got to be kidding me. I couldn't have shagged anybody last night to save my life!"
Her face fell. "You don't remember?"
"No, I do NOT!" he said angrily. "What kind of con is this?"
"You don't remember calling me your 'gorgeous muse of poetry and violence'?" she said with a trembling lip.
"I definitely do not," he said, staring at her, thinking that her words were hitting a bit too close to things she couldn't possibly know.
"What does 'effulgent' even mean, anyway?" she asked, her eyes still brimming.
His jaw dropped. The only thing he'd succeeded in doing right all night was Harmony, and he couldn't even remember it.
"And you said I could move in with you because my boyfriend dumped me," she continued miserably. "So I spent all day going back and forth between my old apartment and here, and now that I have our happy little love nest all set up, you're telling me you don't even remember any of it?"
"I…," he began, but an oddly Victorian voice started scolding him in his brain. She was apparently telling the truth: he'd shagged her, forgotten her, and was now going to throw her in the street like old garbage. As a tear rolled down her cheek, he felt a small stirring of conscience in the pit of his belly, an uncomfortable pinprick of guilt. Far more than that, though, upon watching that same tear fall from her face and onto her ample bosom, he felt a tremendous desire to have a repeat performance of last night when he was entirely conscious and healthy, and the idea of having a willing girl about the place wasn't entirely an unpleasant thought. After all, how annoying could she possibly be?
"Oh, fine," he said staring up at the ceiling. "Get me a beer from the fridge, will you?"
"So I can stay?" she said, giving him a watery smile.
"Yeah, yeah, you can stay," he said moving his knee experimentally and finding it still had a way to go before it would be in working condition again.
"Yay!" she said, clapping her hands and then bending down to give him a quick peck before skipping merrily to the refrigerator. Spike rolled his eyes at her enthusiasm, but decided that could have its perks. He lay back against the pillows and closed his eyes once more.
He didn't notice that when Harmony came back with his beer, she discreetly kicked an old journal back under the bed with a tiny smile. Somewhere, the Powers That Be were laughing so hard that they fell out of their chairs. They did indeed sound a lot like Angelus.