Title: Buffy Summers in "The Volatile Vampire Venture!"
Author: Beer Good
Fandom: Buffyverse, Post-series
Word Count: ~5200
Rating: PG13; some naughtyness, though mostly implied.
Pairing/Characters: Buffy/Spike. Also starring Dawn, Vi, Xander and Faith.
Summary: Just as it seems that things are starting to run smoothly in Cleveland, the Slayers have to face a brand new enemy. Also, Spike is in mortal danger from... Buffy? And what's up with Dawn's secret weapon? And what happened to Buffy's face? Find out what happens when vampires stop sucking and start blowing. ...Up.

"Anyone touches anything, it's John Lee Hooker time!" - John Crichton

Buffy Summers in "The Volatile Vampire Venture!"

It was a dark and actually rather nice night. The bats were chirping, a lone cloud was fluffing its way past the moon in a reasonably atmospheric manner, and in a cemetery in Cleveland, another round of the eternal dance between good and evil had just begun.

"The Slayer," the vampire growled, somewhat predictably.

"ASlayer," Buffy corrected him as she ducked the first kick. It felt good to do this once in a while, she thought, taking care to not consciously add that with Spike coming back from his trip to London tomorrow night it couldn't hurt to work up an, uh, appetite. Ever since they started setting up the new support organisation (and certain people who were supposed to be dead came back to make things all complicaty) there'd been so much to do and think about that she almost never had time to just breathe the night air, admire the invenive tomb designs, and kick ass. And practice her quipping, which was getting a bit rusty. So for a while, she held back and just avoided getting hit.

Little did she know that she was being watched. Over behind one of the larger tombs a dark figure loomed, keeping careful track of the fight, gesturing excitedly with every hit the vampire almost landed. A stray moonbeam caught a wide-brimmed hat, a dark moustache, and the lens of a digital camera.

But Buffy, happily unaware of her unknown voyeur, continued working on a quip that had come to her during a Slayer movie night a week ago. "I mean, there's so many of us now I don't even see why you bother. Even if you could beat me," she easily blocked another blow, "which obviously you can't, but just for the sake of argument, I'd pretty much just have to whistle and I'd have a whole army behind me." She ducked under his fist and hauled back to land the first proper punch of the night – a trusty old right hook seemed like a good entrée. "You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and bl- "

KABOOM!


She woke up with a groan, swiftly followed by another, slightly louder groan, just to hear herself over the ringing in her ears. After a quick mental damage check, feeling nothing broken, burst or leaking, she sat up and tried to figure out what had happened. How the hell did she – oh! She quickly looked around for the creature she'd been fighting and found nothing but a burned patch of grass and some scattered ashes. Let's see, there'd been a vampire. As far as she could tell, an ordinary, run-of-the-kill vampire. And the second her fist smashed into its face, it had...

She looked down on her singed, sooty clothes, the first-degree burn on her fist, and the remains of small grassfires around her. The graveyard was completely empty; if there had been anyone else there, they'd either left some time ago, or...

She looked again at her burned knuckles. "That's ridiculous," she told herself.

"No," she corrected herself, "not ridiculous. Ludicrous."

"Meta-ludicrous," she added. "Beyond all ludicrosity. Collapsing into a black hole of ludicrousness from which no sense can escape." But all the adjectives in the world could not deny the evidence.

Apparently, vampires exploded now.

Slayer HQ, a nondescript office building in central Cleveland, had had a long and for the most part rather mundane history. Yet over the last few months it had come to play host to quite a few odd events, such as the sight of Buffy and Vi when they ran into each other in the lobby later that night. The two Slayers looked at each other, taking in each other's burned and ripped clothes, sooty faces, and...

"Um... didn't you use to have eyebrows?"

They both felt their faces, groaned and sat down to wait for the elevator.

"Man," Vi said in a world-weary seen-it-all tone, "I really hate it when they explode."

"Wait, you mean you've had one explode before?"

"You haven't?"

"Uh, not so much. And I'm pretty sure if vampires could explode, Giles would have mentioned it at least thirteen times over the years." Buffy winced slightly upon discovering that it hurt to speak with blistered lips. "Or at least slipped me some aloe and mumbled something about how I'd know what to do with it when the time came."

"Oh." Vi turned an extra shade of red under all the soot. "Then no. But I barely even touched him! I think I landed one kick, and the next thing I know I wake up in the graveyard and my shoes are ruined."

"Well, we can't have that," Buffy smiled in solidarity, then winced again as her burned lips made themselves known "Look at the bright side, we won't have to tan for a while."

"Yeah." Curiosity getting the better of her, Vi tried for some friendly girl talk. "And with Sp-"

"Good thing none of us is dating anyone right now, huh?" Buffy interrupted.

"Uh... yeah. Right."

The older Slayer quickly changed the subject. "Anyway, you're in charge here, what do you suggest?"

Vi glanced out the window, where the sun was coming up. "Well, I guess we call a meeting as soon as everyone's awake, see if anyone else has come across any exploding vampires, and...oh. Uh-oh."

"What?"

"Faith and two of the others were going to take out that big vamp nest on Euclid at dawn, and -"

The windows shook with the distant explosion.

"...crap."


In a lab not far away, amidst bubbling test tubes, mysteriously blinking lights, and a video screen showing Buffy blowing up a vampire with her fist, a gloved hand angrily swept some blueprints off a desk. "Damnit... I mean, Curses! So close, and yet..." The mysterious villain took a deep, calming breath. "Right. Just a few adjustments, and they'll see. Oh yes, they'll see. IGOR! Clean this mess up!"


The vamp nest had gone up in a fireball of exploding undead, shattering every window within two blocks, but the Slayers had been lucky and were dragged back to the improvised sickbay with comparatively minor injuries and burns. However, the rescue mission, which also included convincing the authorities that there really was a PCP lab in the middle of Cleveland in this day and age, took up most of the day and ensured that the unhospitalised Slayers along with Dawn and Xander didn't get around to holding a meeting until that evening.

"Right," Buffy said as they all sat down around the table. "Now that we're all here -"

CRASH. Everyone jumped as the door flew open and Faith limped inside, her face a mask of icy rage. Not that anyone was looking at her face. Faith had been in the middle of the melee, covering one of the younger Slayers with her body when the building exploded, and her comparatively minor injuries and burns had somehow mostly been restricted to her hair. Specifically, all of it. So after she sat down, she gave them all exactly 5.1 seconds to pointedly not stare at her bald head before she yelled "WHAT?"

"You know," Xander said with a nervous grin, "I always thought Alien3was underrated."

Faith didn't respond, and nobody else dared say anything to the mightily pissed off Slayer. And so the meeting started, with Dawn covering the obvious points on her bescrawled and bedoodled notepad first. Yes, vampires were suddenly prone to blowing up at the slightest hint of violence (one vamp had allegedly blown up when Faith cursed at it). No, there were no previously known cases of combustible vampires on any of Willow's websites or in what was left of Giles' library (at least that's how they interpreted his grumpy mutterings over the phone – it was 3AM in London, after all). Yes, after checking with other bases it seemed to be restricted to the Cleveland area for now, though several Slayers around the world had replied with reports of flying werepigs. (The meeting quickly agreed that these were probably sarcastic, though just to be on the safe side they suggested that Giles might want to ask his former bandmates for more information on porcine aviation.)

"Thanks, Dawn," Vi smiled. "So vampires have started exploding the second anyone even nudges them just a little bit, and I guess we can assume that whatever is making them go boom is happening here in Cleveland. Ideas, people?"

Maria, one of the younger Slayers, raised her hand. "Are we sure they're dead? I mean, they weren't staked or anything..."

"They exploded into tiny little bits," Buffy answered. "I think it's safe to assume their headbits were separated from their... other bits. Never underestimate a good decapitation. Butch... I mean Faith, any ideas?"

Faith responded in the same way she'd been doing for the whole meeting: that is to say, she kept staring angrily straight ahead, not saying a word.

"Hello? Faith?" Buffy waved her hand in front of Faith's face.

"WHAT?"

"Do you have any ideas about what's going on?"

Faith shook her head and pointed to her ears. "YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO SPEAK UP, B. BUSTED EARDRUMS."

Buffy shrugged and raised her voice. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS..." Seeing Faith's puzzled look, she sighed, put her forehead to Faith's, astronaut helmet style, and yelled "DID YOU SEE ANYTHING WEIRD LAST NIGHT?"

Faith gave her a peculiar look, for which everyone in the room would later have different interpretations, and then hollered back loud enough to reawaken the ringing in Buffy's ears. "APART FROM ALL THE VAMPS GOING UP LIKE NEW YEAR'S? SORRY, I WAS KINDA BUSY BEING ON FIRE." She hinted at her burnt scalp. "WHEN I FIND THE GUY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS..." She then went into a rather lengthy, and loud, description of exactly what she would do to him, in what order, the implements she would use (even going so far as to specify the brand of chili sauce), and the zip codes in which she would dispose of the remains.

This was followed by a few seconds of quiet reflection for everyone. The younger Slayers sat wide-eyed, secretly taking mental notes for future use. Buffy and Vi exchanged a quick glance, which an astute observer might have taken to mean "OK, quick subject change." Dawn fiddled with her cell phone.

"How about this?" Vi asked – a little more quietly than usual. "We agree that we need to figure out what's causing this, but as long as we're careful, are we sure this is a bad thing? I mean... superpowers or not, this is a pretty risky job, and we still do a lot of one-on-one fighting. If all we need to do is heave a rock at the vamps from a safe distance and boom..." She illustrated the 'boom' by waving her hands, accidentally tossing her pen halfway across the room where it stuck in the wall.

There was muffled agreement around the table, with many a Slayer casting furtive glances in Buffy's direction (and none at all in Faith's) before being too openly enthusiastic.

But there was no reason for the young warriors to fear an executive veto. "Good point," Buffy nodded. "I'm not saying we shouldn't look into it, but if all it does is make vampires more slayable, I vote no big emergency as long as we're careful. You know what, it's been a long day, maybe we should all get a good night's rest and sleep on it?"

"Right," Xander nodded. "Especially with a certain London flight touching down in about," he checked his watch, "...an hour?"

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A COWARD?" Faith shot him a death glare, conveniently derailing the discussion before Buffy had to answer. "MYHAIR WAS ON FIRE!"


"Slayer," the vampire growled as he opened the bedroom door and saw Buffy lying on the bed in something slightly more comfortable.

(Following the truly astounding resolution to the seemingly unavoidable apocalypse in LA a few months earlier, which I'm sure you're all familiar with, in which Spike allegedly saved the world with a Zippo lighter, a beercan, and a pacifier (though certain other souled denizens of the night tell the story differently), he and Buffy had had a few things to yell at each other before reaching an understanding. Said understanding had then proceeded, unofficially (so as not to... confuse the new Slayers too much, yeah, that's it), and with as few serious discussions as possible, but regularly and enthusiastically enough for Spike's 3-week London trip to be a rather major annoyance.)

Anyway, where were we? "Slayer," the vampire growled. Then he paused. "OK, when you mentioned shaving on the phone I didn't think you meant your eyebrows, but... uh, I like the look. Very... you."

"Nice save. No, this is work-related." She gave Spike a quick rundown of last night's events as she got up from the bed, snaked her arms around his neck and started coaxing him towards the bed. "...and so I thought to myself, 'Oh, if only I had a big strong English gentleman around to take my mind off all this ridiculudicrousness'."

"Well, we'll see what we can – hang on." Spike froze with his hands on the small of her back, then took a step back as the full implication of her words struck him. "You're saying vampires have been exploding the second you touch them?"

"Uh-huh. Now let's see if you've brought back any gifts from -"

Spike pulled her hands out of his pants. "Exploding, and not in the fun way?"

"Oh. You mean you're afraid that if we...you'll..." Buffy mimed an eruption.

"Well, that was the general idea, but I'd sort of like to be around to enjoy it."

Buffy winced and nodded reluctantly. "Maybe if we're really careful..."

"You and me? Careful?"

They both plonked down on the edge of the bed and sighed (Spike somewhat more gingerly than Buffy) and rested their chins in their hands in the classic thinking pose. Buffy was the first to suggest another solution. "Maybe Willow can come up with some sort of test to see if you're affected?"

"What, have me pee on a stick and see if it catches fire?" He smiled solemnly and took Buffy's hand. "Look, I missed you too. But it seems to me that until you know for sure what's causing it..."

"...we should probably go easy on each other?" Buffy sighed and nodded. Then she squeezed his hand back as lightly as she could.

"Yeah, me too," Spike said.


Meanwhile, as our heroes slept frustratedly, Igor worked all night in the lab. Our villain, knowing the value of being rested and well fed before the execution of an evil plan, slept the sleep of evil, giggling maniacally to himself in his sleep. Tomorrow would be the day. Oh yes.


Dawn and Vi were halfway through breakfast when Buffy stormed in, slammed the door, poured some orange juice on a piece of toast, drank two cups of coffee, spread marmelade on a slice of cheese, and started pacing back and forth. "OK, we need to figure out what's up wih the exploding vampires. It's unnatural, it's creepy, and I don't like it."

Dawn looked up from her cereal with a wry smile. "...Morning to you too, sis. Can I get you some less coffee?" (This was not as strange a question as it may seem, as Willow had recently come up with a potion that actually removed caffeine from one's blood stream. Kennedy had hinted that it had had something to do with Brazilian coffee, 72 hours without sleep, and Willow literally vibrating into another dimension and having to live off decidely un-kosher shrimp until she found her way back.)

"Maria took out three vamps with a paintball gun last night," Vi added.

Buffy shuddered almost imperceptably and poured herself another cup. "That's great, but... I mean, have we even considered that this could be a sign of an apocalypse? This is just the kind of thing that happens before one of those. We need to find out who is behind it."

Dawn and Vi nodded, grinning at each other. "On it."

"Good. Oh, do you know if anyone's using the training room today?"

"Don't know, why?"

"No reason."


The training room was deserted today, since the Slayers were either licking their wounds, trying on wigs, or out canvassing the city looking for signs of mystical dynamitage as per Buffy's orders. And so the blonde vampire was alone among the punching bags, pommel horses and target practice targets. That is, until the door opened and...

"Spike."

"Xander."

Xander strolled into the room with studied nonchalance, taking his time to walk around under the pretense of doing maintenance work on the training equipment as if Spike weren't there. Eventually, he made a lap around Spike, giving him a curious look from all angles as if he'd only just noticed that there was a vampire standing in the middle of the room and found it fascinating. "So, that's what the hip urban demon wears these days, huh? I like it. Very you."

Spike snarled and made a half-assed attempt to reach for him, but the big padded fight suit Buffy had insisted on him wearing for protection at all times until they found a solution for his potential malady made it almost impossible to move, let alone appear threatening in the traditional vampire-like manner to which he had once been accustomed.

"Sorry," Xander said, not unkindly. "Look, I've been in that thing myself..."

"I know," puffy Spike sneered. "I can smell you."

Xander shrugged. "My point was: I know what it feels like to be the damsel here. But Buffy's got an entire squad of You Slayers out there right now for your sake, turning an entire town upside down to stop you from going boom, and everyone's helping her. And you don't need to act as if that doesn't mean something to you, because I know it does."

Spike deflated somewhat and nodded. "Yeah."

"And in the spirit of that, I wanted to give you this." Xander placed a cell phone in one of Spike's hands.

"What for?"

Xander grinned. "Well, we still don't know how this thing spreads. I thought you might want to call Angel and let him know he should get himself checked out."

"Ha ha. Very funny, Harris." If Spike's gaze didn't actually bore holes in Xander's back as he walked out, it's only because well, gazes are physically incapable of doing that without magic enhancements. "And stop whistling the Blue Danube!"

And so Spike was alone in the training room once more, only this time with a small cell phone for company. He tried dialling Buffy's number, but the padding on his arms and hands made it impossible to press the right buttons, or even see which buttons he was pressing.

"'Call Angel'. Right," he muttered. "Like I'd want to -"

"Calling Angel," the phone's voice dialling function replied in a chirpy tone.

"Oh, bugger. OFF! OFF! O-" He paused. "Hullo, it's me..."


Deep in his evil laboratory – specifically, over by the wall in what used to be the living room of a fairly normal-looking three-bedroom house, neglected lawn notwithstanding, but had now been converted into the previously mentioned evil laboratory – our villain was just putting the finishing touches on his vampire-controlling machine, occasionally stopping to stroke his moustache and cackle quietly to himself. "There," he finally announced. "That should do it. Now all I need to do is press this button, and -"

"And what?"

He spun around, his small piercing eyes shooting daggers at the young woman leaning against the doorpost. "Slayer," he hissed.

"Watcher," Dawn corrected him. "In training. Buffy'll be right in, she's just trying to find a parking space." There was a crunch of metal from outside as Buffy found a parking space for her SUV right behind the small Japanese rustbucket parked in the driveway.

"Fools!" The villain snarled. "You think you can stop -"

Dawn interrupted him. "Sorry, but would you mind holding the big speech until she gets here? Since you tried to blow up her boyfriend, I'm guessing she'll want to hear it." There was awkward silence for a few seconds before the front door slammed and Buffy entered the room. "There. Go ahead."

"Fools!" The villain snarled with renewed verve. "You think you can stop -"

Buffy interrupted him. "Actually, I'm pretty sure we already have. I'm not in the mood for a big speech right now, so just tell me who you are, what you're up to, and how we fix whatever you've done, and we'll let you go to jail in peace."

He twirled his painstakingly waxed moustache. "You won't get a word out of me, fiend!"

"Oh. OK then."

For about two minutes, the two women and the villain just stood there looking at each other.

"I'm not telling you anything," the villain sneered.

The two women nodded, but didn't move. "We heard you the first time."

They stood around for another minute, while the villain seemed to almost burst with desire to reveal his evil plan. "Alright, I'll tell you!" he finally announced. "My name is Baron Stefan von Mikhailovich," he said in complete defiance of the mailbox outside bearing the slightly less impressive name Steve Michaels. "I've been working on this ever since the fools at Cleveland State University threw me out, the fools. But they'll see. Oh yes, they'll -"

"Skip to the end?"

"This machine," the self-appointed baron bellowed while pointing at said contraption, "harvests the energy from the Cleveland hellmouth and gives me the ability to control every undead being within the city limits" - he was gradualy working himself up into a frenzy – "and make them all my minions! Soon, I'll control all of Ohio!"

"All of Ohio? Wow." Buffy nodded with a look of complete lack of awe.

"After that, the whole country, and then the WORLD! ALL WILL BOW BEFORE ME AND MY UNDEAD ARMY!" He unleashed a well-rehearsed Evil Laugh. What he hadn't counted upon was their familiarity with Evil Laughs, and once he'd laughed himself out, there was a period of silence before he added "...y'know, soon as I work out the kinks. I mean, they're not supposed to blow up like that. Something keeps interfering with the signal. But I think I've got it now."

Dawn gave the machine a curious look. "Maybe it got contaminated somehow?"

"Nonsense! Igor cleans this lab every day! I've given him instructions to pay special attention to the area around the machine!"

"...Igor?" Buffy raised an eyebrow in a gesture which, while intended to show embarrassed disbelief, mostly went unnoticed because of her current lack of said eyebrow. "You have an Igor?"

"I think that's Igor," Dawn said, pointing at a Roomba that peeked out shyly from under the machine. "Heeeere, boy." Dawn picked up the robotic vacuum cleaner, turned him over and checked his settings. "Ah, here's your problem. His docking station is plugged into the same outlet as the machine, and someone changed the setting from 'Suck' to 'Blow'."

Buffy frowned. "Huh. That's...anti-climactic."

"I hear that's what Spike said too."

Buffy made a mental note to get revenge later and glared at the somewhat deflated baron. "So, how do we turn the machine off?"

"Not so fast. You think you've won, don't you?" The baron's eyes burned with hatred. "What if I were to tell you that... there IS no off switch! Maybe I won't get to control all the vampires, but if I press the destruct-o-button, the macine will overload and they'll all blow up simultaneously, including your boyfriend! Revenge will be -"

Buffy turned to Dawn. "Boyfriend?"

"Ooops."

"Spike and me aren't -"

"Oh, come on. You really think we haven't noticed?"

"I SAID," the baron yelled," revenge will be mine!"

"Right. So all we have to do is stop you from pushing the button."

"Please." The baron smiled maliciously. "I'm not a comic book villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome?" He stepped aside to reveal the button on the desk he'd been leaning on. "I did it thirty-five seconds ag- oh, crap."

Buffy held up the power cable she'd yanked out of the wall 36 seconds earlier.

"No!" The baron, seeing the extent of his defeat, fell to his knees and shook his fists towards the heavens, or rather the ceiling. "This cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!"

Buffy cringed. "Seriously? You're really going with that? Now, I believe you were threatening to blow up my boyfriend..." She shot Dawn a wipe-that-smirk-off-your-face look as she picked up a crowbar and approached the baron.

Steve Michaels, as he was suddenly very keen to be known again, seemed to shrink six inches. "Um... I'm human and your code won't permit you to kill me?"

"How do you know we have a code?" Dawn crossed her arms and tried to look badass.

"Lucky guess...?" he said hopefully.

Buffy nodded. "Fine. Show him." And so, as she raised the crowbar and took out her frustration on the machine, Dawn got out her cell phone and showed him the clip of a bald Faith vowing violent vengeance on whoever had caused her defoliage. Then, they left him alone to cry over the destruction of his life's work (and sweep it up by hand, as Dawn insisted on liberating poor hapless Igor from the clutches of his evil master).


"I keep telling you guys: I'm the Slayer. I always find a way," Buffy summed up after they got back and explained what had happened.

"So what happens if he decides getting beaten up by a pissed-off bald woman is worth it and builds another machine?" Xander asked.

Dawn held up her cell phone. "I used one of Willow's Bluetooth hacks to swipe all his blueprints off his computer while Buffy was threatening him. We can patent them and sue him for copyright infringement if he even tries to take control of a Nosferatuscreening."

Buffy tut-tutted. "I thought you were done with the stealing?"

"You're the one who told me cell phones are weapons."

"Bad Buffy." Xander wagged his finger reproachfully. "So, case closed?"

"Except we still don't know how permanent the effect is," Buffy sighed. "But at least we know what to look for, and Willow should be able to reverse engineer something within the next few weeks, so no harm... what?"

"Just stop it, OK?" Dawn said. "You don't want to wait 'a few weeks'. Everyone knows you and Spike are a thing. Nobody here has a problem with it, except maybe Faith, and the only ones who think it's weird are you two. We all know you have all this weird backstory where you're either just fu...sically intimate or celibate soulmates or whatever when one of you isn't dead, and I get that it can't be easy to build something on that, but nothing's going to explode if you try." She paused. "Except maybe Spike, literally, I guess. Just... stop waffling and trying to be secret and making up excuses about how you have to be a role model and burying yourself in slayage already. It's not about them, it's about you two." Dawn stopped her long-built-up rant, a little surprised at herself. "A-and also, I did wait until after you'd gotten your daily dose of violence before saying that, but..."

"And this has been a topic of discussion?" Buffy looked at her. Then looked at Xander, who nodded as if to say he agreed, though possibly not if it meant risking a verbal or physical pummelling, especially since the puffy suit was currently unavailable, but in general he thought Dawn had a good point and that it had been difficult to notnotice how much they were failing at being unnoticeable and it was getting awkward walking on all these eggshells and that they were really just doing this out of love and concern, and besides it was no fun teasing them about it if they couldn't do it openly, whch was an impressive amount of information to convey in a nod but when you've known someone for eight years it works. Buffy looked back at Dawn. "Is that why you and Vi are always giggly together?"

"Again, not about us," Dawn quickly responded, noticeably unwilling to let Buffy expand the discussion. "I'm just saying... maybe relationships should take work. Kind of like killing vampires. And doing it in secret isn't a good idea. Unlike killing vampires."

"Stop it with the metaphors already! But OK," Buffy relented. "Let's say you have a point, which is creepy as hell since my kid sister shouldn't be giving me relationship advice, we still don't know if it's safe for Spike to -"

"There's dozens of Slayers here. We'll find a way."


It was a dark and actually rather nice night. The bats were chirping, a lone cloud was fluffing its way past the moon in a reasonably atmospheric manner, and in a cemetery in Cleveland, another round of the eternal dance between good and evil had just begun.

"The Slayer," the vampire growled, somewhat predictably.

"ASlayer," Vi corrected him as she ducked the first kick. Then she kicked him in the shin and quickly jumped back, instinctively covering her face and her regrowing eyebrows with her arms.

"Ow." The vampire frowned. "Uh... what?"

Vi sprang forward with abandon, using all her martial arts training to avoid the vampire's attempt to grab her, turned in mid-air and pulled his hair. She then quickly jumped back once more in case of explosion.

"HEY!"

Vi ducked his fist and poked him lightly in the ribs.

"Stop tickling me!"

When the vampire charged her, Vi dropped and rolled and came up with a handful of pebbles that she tossed at him.

"OUCH! What the hell are you doing, girl? Fight fair!"

And so Vi did, applying a series ("OW!") of increasingly hard ("QUIT IT!") punches and kicks ("That HURT!") to various parts ("...gnnnn.") of the vampire's anatomy until she was satisfied that he wouldn't blow up. One quick traditional staking later, she got out her phone.


Dawn clicked off with a smile on her face, bounded up the stairs to Buffy's room and knocked on her door. "It's OK, sis. The effects have worn off. You and Spike can have all the sex you want now."

"...Uh, thanks," came the awkward reply from inside.

"Do you need help getting Spike out of the puffy suit? I could probably scrounge up some volunteers..."

"We're fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Dawn waited about 30 seconds, then knocked again. "Do you want me to make sure nobody else comes up here, because -"

Buffy and Spike responded in unison. "Go. Away."

She briefly considered fetching the cherry bombs that were left over from new year's and setting them off outside Buffy's door, but that would just have been a little too cruel. So Dawn Summers, matchmaker extraordinaire, decided it was a good day and trotted downstairs to wait for Vi to come back and listen to some very loud music. It wasn't so much the sex noises she wanted to drown out, but if she had to listen to her sister having a Serious Lovey-Dovey Talk with Spike, she thought her head might explode.