AUTHOR: Kevin A. Poston (Fojiao2)
DISCLAIMER: I own none of the characters involved in this story and am making no profit; they belong only to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy
SPOILERS: Up through late Season Six
FEEDBACK: Please! This unwothy one begs for validation!
SUMMARY: Spike becomes a published writer, starting a "Becky The Vampire Slayer" series that reveals his feelings about all the Scoobs . . . especially Buffy.
PART ONE: Deals with Demons
Billy Gere had been a publishing agent for twenty years not because he was good or professional or even paid off his writers well. He was still around because he took risks. He had zigged and zagged through a career that was always one deal away from bankruptcy, and his impressive office in L.A. told of none of the hard times that had gotten him to where he was. That's why he had stayed so late, working on a new contract long after the maintenance staff had swept through his office and moved on to the others. That's why he was there when the biggest risk of his life stepped through the door.
The uninvited guest was a young-looking man with spikey peroxide-blond, black and leathery clothing, and a permanent sneer. There was no knocking--Gere simply looked up one moment, looked back to his desk, and then looked up again to behold the young man standing in his office.
"Um . . . " Gere began, "can I help you?"
"Just maybe. You're the publishing agent, right? The one who handled Anton Spence?"
That caused a sour feeling in Gere. Anton Spence had been one of those fortunate risks who had paid off. Gere had helped him through three mediocre novels before Spence's stories of a ghostbusting houngan in New Orleans became popular among the Fantasy Horror audience. When money and fame came Spence's way, he suddenly had no time for his long-suffering agent and had to find someone new to meet his "exclusive needs."
"Mr. Spence has changed representation," Gere answered.
"Yeah, but you handled him in the beginning. And that's what I need. I have a book--the first of a series--that would fit Spence's audience. I wanted to see if you're interested."
"I don't accept books off the street, Mr.--?"
In answer, the fellow stepped forward and laid a hand on the edge of Gere's desk. Exerting almost no effort, and smiling at the agent the whole time, he snapped the hard plastic and formica like it was cardboard. He then held up the corner in his hand, showing the layers of material that had been broken, and tossed it aside.
"I think you'll read this one. And you can call me Spike."
Gere stared in complete wonder. "Do-- do you have it with you?"
"Of course," Spike answered, pulling a box from his duster. Gere opened it; it held a thick sheaf of paper, the title page of which read "BECKY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Series. Book One: Welcome to the Hellpit. A Novel by William T. Bloody." Gere flipped to the last page and saw that it was 350 pages of neatly-typed double-spaced text.
"Nice typing," Gere commented.
"When I learned to write, we didn't have carbon paper or white-out. You got it right the first time and did the editing in your head before you put it on paper."
"So this is just typed? You don't have it on disk?"
"I only got an extension cord into my place, and that's for me TV and fridge. I used an old manual typewriter I found at the Goodwill and burned through every ribbon I had making that."
"Well, if there's no digital copy there's not much--"
"Listen," Spike said, his north London accent particularly harsh and loud. Gere stared, in fear for his life. "I know you probably get tons of wankers coming in here all the time with their sob stories about how they want to be published. They all got their reasons, and I got mine: I want to make some cash. A friend of mine's just . . . returned, and I need to convince her that I can make a living without begging money. Since I had a lot of time to . . . think over the summer, I went back to my first trade--writing. I'm not trying to be some artist here, mate, and I don't expect to sell like Stephen King. But I wrote something that I think the reading public will like, something that can be turned into a series. That's the name of the game these days, right?" He smiled for the first time since his little display of strength, a smirk with a world of menace behind it. "It's got plenty of sex and violence, so I know it'll attract someone. Now, you're gonna read it. And if you like it, you can get one of your little honeys in this office to make a 'digital copy' and shop it around. If you don't like it, if you don't think it'll sell, then you can bloody tell me. I'll be back in a week."
Spike then turned around and headed for the door. Gere squeaked out, "Will you kill me if it's no good?"
Spike turned, looking serious again. "Don't think so, mate. I just want to know if it's publishable. Mind you, that's my only copy, so don't go reading it while you're at dinner and staining those pages. LOSE any of the pages and I will kill you--I'll paint this office in your blood and brains. And don't try running--if you're not here when I come back I'll hunt you down, Billy. And what I do then won't be pretty at all." With that, he was gone.
Gere sat in the empty office and contemplated how the manuscript before him would mark a change in his life, whatever happened. Realizing that there was no way he would get any sleep, he began to read page one. "In every generation there is a Chosen One, a Slayer, whose responsibility it is to bring down the vampires and demons that plague this world," he read out loud. "All of them are girls. All are young when they begin, usually about 15. And only the best live into their 20's. The very best the world had ever seen--Becky Winters--had just moved to Sunnyvale."
A week later Spike returned to Billy Gere's office at the exact same time of evening. But this time he was greeted by an office lit up and busy, with a hard-working secretary on the other side of the glass at the office's front. Spike opened the door hesitantly, and the secretary looked up with a smile. "Mr. Bloody! We've been expecting you!" She buzzed her boss, and Gere stepped into the reception area with a grin and a laugh.
"William! My boy!" he crowed. He grabbed Spike's shoulders with true affection. "Thank you so much for coming to me! I read your book that night you came here, and we had it transcribed into Word files the next day. It's fantastic! So much potential for a new series! We already have three publishers bidding for it, and I can promise you a $400,000 advance on the next two books in the series."
Spike was bowled over. "I-- I never dreamed I'd get this reception," he said, truthfully.
"Well, it's a dream come true, Spike. Look, the first thing we have to talk about is contracts. I took your book on with no guarantees to either of us, so I think it's best we get some things in writing straight away. Please, come into my office." Gere escorted Spike in and they began to haggle over one of Gere's standard contracts. After an hour of negotiations they had something that satisfied both parties, though Spike was secretly agog at the amount of money that would be coming his way. The only cash he'd had in his old days was booty he and Angelus would rob from graves or people they'd killed. Since living in Sunnydale and getting his chip installed in his head, he'd survived mostly through various petty criminal activities--that and the money he could con from the Slayer and the Scoobs. Now it looked like he could move out of his crypt.
"So, it just remains for us to sign them," said Gere. "You sure you don't want your lawyer to look this over?"
Spike grinned. "I don't think that'll be necessary, Billy. I mean, we both know what I'll do to you if I become dissatisfied, don't we?" Gere's sudden fear and nervousness was like ice cream to Spike. Few people feared him like this back in Sunnydale; he'd have to visit L.A. more often.
"You, uh, have all the necessary documentation?"
"Never leave home without it," Spike said, pulling out a wallet. He set down a birth certificate, a Social Security card, and a California driver's license, all in the name of "William Thackeray Bloody." "Sorry I don't have a credit card," he continued, "but I've been without a permanent address for a while."
"So that's your real name?" Gere asked, not really believing it.
"Sure," Spike said. "They cost me a pretty penny, too, I can tell you. But when I came to America I knew I had to get some respectable ID or I'd end up as a pile of dust in some county lockup."
"So they're fake."
Gere took a long, slow breath. "I'm sorry, William, but I can't sign a contract with a false name on it."
"Billy," Spike chuckled, leaning forward and putting a friendly hand on the agent's shoulder, "where'd all that good feeling go? Are you forgetting the kind of money we're talking about? And how much we're going to make once I crank out a few more of these books? I'm not like Spence, Billy--I reward initiative, and I'll sign any long-term paperwork you want to print up right now. Decades of publishing, mate, and a steady income for both of us. What's wrong with that?"
"What's wrong is that I have no idea who you really are, and we're going to NEED to know that if we're going to promote your books."
"This identity has a paper trail--only the best for me and mine, y'know. Let the researchers do what they will, they'll never find a crack in my story."
"But I don't know WHO you are! You could be some murderer on the run, for all I know."
Spike looked at him grimly. "If only it were that simple," he said. "Listen, Billy, why don't you and I have a little contest? Right here, right now. We'll see who can hold his breath longer. The winner gets to be trusted implicitly."
"What, are you crazy? I'm not holding my breath."
"Then I will. Just keep the time on your watch. I think you'll like the show." Spike then drew in a slight breath and let it out. And didn't draw in another.
After two minutes of silence, Gere started to pay attention to his watch. Spike sat across from him, still looking cheerful, spending the time looking around the office or looking out the window at the L.A. night. At four minutes Gere was staring at Spike, noting that the man wasn't blinking either. At six minutes Gere was truly frightened. Spike didn't appear in the least distressed. At eight minutes, Gere finally said, "Stop it. Just stop it."
Spike smirked. "Stop what?" he said. "I ain't holding my breath, Billy. I have to think about breathing, and that's when I start."
"What-- what are you?"
Spike motioned toward the manuscript on Gere's desk. "What the hell have you been reading about, Billy? Vampires and demons. The stuff of profitable sales."
Gere then sat for a few more minutes in silence. It was much easier to believe that Spike considered himself a vampire, and had gone to certain extremes to make himself appear that way, than it was to believe that such monsters actually existed. And so it was much easier for Gere to convince himself of that. Spike might be mentally unbalanced . . . but he wasn't the only one of Gere's clients to be that way. He wasn't even the first of Gere's writers to threaten his life.
"Okay," Gere said. "As long as I know the situation." He leaned forward and signed the contract. Spike tuned the contract around, signed and initialed in the appropriate places (making very sure that Gere got the p.o. box where Spike's money could be delivered), and then the man and the vampire shook hands. They were both all smiles again as Gere escorted Spike back out to the reception area. The secretary was waiting there, holding a gift-wrapped box in her hands.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Gere said, taking the gift and handing it to Spike. "Here, we got you something. Deducted it from your first royalties, rather. Believe me, you'll like it."
Spike took the present and solemnly opened it. Inside was a new laptop and a pack of ZIP disks. The vampire looked up in surprise.
"No more typing on that beat-up typewriter," Gere said. "From now on you can deliver your work via those disks. You won't even have to leave Sunnydale."
"It's very thoughtful," Spike said, grinning broadly, his gaze dancing across the screen and keyboard.
"You know how to use it?"
"Oh, I'm quite handy on 'em. I just never owned my own before."
"Well, I think you might want to unplug the TV to give this baby a run for her money. You have plenty more books to write. Oh, by the way, can you tell us what the next one'll be about?"
"Yep. Book Two will be 'The Master Will Rise.' Book Three'll be 'A New Enemy in Town.' And Book Four has to be 'Diablo and Acathla.' After that it's negotiable. You'll love 'em, really." He put his package under his arm, shook hands with the two humans, and stepped back out into the night.
TO BE CONTINUED
I hope to get Chapter 2 up by the weekend. After that, don't expect the updates as quickly. Sorry, I'm not a college student, I have a job!