Ring on her Finger

By Nickeltaffy

Disclaimer: I would like to thank Joss for the use of his characters. They are still his and will never be mine. (heavy sigh).

Chapter 31

You gotta be bleedin kidding me! Spike thought.

As Buffy's last statement sunk into his head, Spike turned his eyes upward to the reddening sky as he brought up his hands. Then he let his hands fell to his sides as his head slumped forward, shaking his head in disgust. Why? Was someone having a bit of fun with him? There are some things that just aren't right! His unlife had been seriously circling the drain ever since he had come back to Sunnydale. First, it was the boneheaded catastrophe with the Gem of Amara. Why didn't he just take the bloody thing when he found it and leave town? Oh No! He had to lord it over the slayer which got him his toasted ass served to him. That little escapade quickly led to another humiliating debacle in LA. Just once, he would like for at least one of his ventures to land jelly side up, he pleaded to anyone that was listening to his thoughts as he continued in his head. Next up, there was the Initiative pretty much de-fanging him, making him a laughing stock among the undead and demon community. It got so bad that he had to beg sanctuary from the slayer and her idiotic cohorts. Him! Spike! The only vampire to have single handedly kill two slayers! He should rightly strike terror in the inhabitants of Sunnydale. Since the chip, he was held no more of a threat than an out of sorts lap dog…maybe even less. Where's the justice? Now adding insult to injury, he has this whole family mission has landed squarely on his head. 'GOTTA FIGHT THE BIG SILVERY CHAP AND SAVE THE WORLD!' You know, you save the world once and everyone keeps expecting you to make it a habit. And as a cherry on top of this cake, he's has to hear that the slayer standing there watching the spectacle with his aunt. The fates couldn't be that cruel! Could they? They had never really been on his side. Roping him into this whole vortex sucking thing when he was just five years old, he was expected to clean this whole mess up which had been going on for generations. Talk about a bloody royal mess! Lord, he was the equivalent of an inter-dimensional janitor! It was bleeding pathetic how his afterlife was turning out. Yeah, that what it was! Buffy was there with Aunt Charlotte. That…that was just wrong! Maybe, he had misheard. Yeah, that was it…it couldn't be.

Wha…what? No, it can't be…" Spike stammered. His forehead wrinkled in worry as his voice carried a note of strained hope.

"You heard me! What's with the look of terror?" Buffy called out peevishly as her pointed finger bounced with each word. "If it was possible, I would say you went even paler!"

"You…you can see me?" Spike scowled and uttered as his eyes looked around the dusky horizon.

"Well, Duh." Buffy commented as she examined the vampire appearing in the pool before here. Then the realization hit home as Buffy slowly stated. "Are you scared of me hanging out with your Aunt?"

"Well, pet, you're not the daintiest of fainting maidens." Spike answered quickly, twisting his mouth to the side then pulling up his chin as he sniffed. There was no way that he was going to let Buffy know how disturbing he found the thought of the two women together.

"Spike, you're a pig!" Buffy retaliated. "I don't know why I am talking to you, if you're going to act that way! You could at least be happy to know that I am interested in your welfare."

"Maybe…It's my overwhelming joy that your dulcet tones managed to follow me here?" The vampire sniped, tilting his head in impudence.

"That's it! Just for that, I am going to ask if your aunt if she has any baby pictures of you!" the slayer responded emphatically.

The blonde vampire responded with a low grumble as he turned away and began walking again through the fog.

"Now, don't act that way. You know, you really are…" Buffy grumbled. Then her eyes went over to the woman in the cape and she added with a satisfied smile. "singularly abrupt!"

"Cripes! She's really there. You're together? In the same place?" Spike's face took on a hunted look as he recognized the term Buffy used. "Is she in Sunnydale? Or are you there?"

"By there, you mean this place? Yeah, it's like the most depressing day spa ever." Buffy responded with huff.

"Oh, Lord! And I thought the low point was going to be me being killed by this creature, I am thinking it might become the preferable option." Spike muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck.

"Well, don't look so horrified! It's not a cage match if that's what you're thinking." Buffy called out.

"Buffy, don't….It's just…that she isn't." Spike pulled his hand away from his neck as he looked up implored

"Isn't what?" the slayer suspiciously asked.

"Um... well, she's a lady, pet." Spike's hand went to rub his chin as he grimaced.

"And you're saying I'm not?"

"Uh. Uh. Um…Well."

"Right, don't be so quick with the denial business. I'm not a lady at all?" Buffy crossed her arms and rapped her fingertips against her elbows.

"Wait. I don't mean that way. It's just that my aunt is very proper." Spike hesitantly responded.

"You're on a slippery slope, buddy. I suggest you turn it around right now!" Buffy growled at the vampire.

"This isn't going at all well. What happened to battles to the death without the mind games?" Spike muttered under his breath. Pulling up his head, hoping to change the subject, he prompted. "You're kinda catching me at a bad time, luv. Might I suggest we reconvene when we're both in the same dimension? I am rather preoccupied at the moment, you know, fighting for my life and what not."

"Don't you think for a minute that I am going to let this drop, Spike. I know how to interact with people." Buffy argued as she leaned forward to make her point. "My mother did raise me properly, you know."

"Your mother is a lovely woman." Spike slowly admitted and then looked up. "But, you're different."

"Yes…Hey, what did you just say? I believe I am beginning to detect a family resemblance here." Buffy's mumbled as her eyes darted over to the woman in the cape. "What's with all this manners business anyway?"

"I was always a gentleman with your mother. I hope you would be the same with my family. The fact is, Buffy, you can be a bit forceful."

"So, that's a problem? Excuse me, but my profession doesn't allow me the luxury of being the Victorian ideal of proper womanhood! Thank God! Perhaps, we haven't met...I am the Slayer, you know." Looking over at the woman across the pond, she turned back to the address Spike. "And what's wrong with being forceful, you never seemed to complain."

"Nothing at all, it's just that my aunt is not accustomed to such coarse behavior. Perhaps you could tone it down from charging rhinoceros to the small furry mammal for her benefit."

"Look, I've already talked to your aunt and she has no problem with making the zingers. I can't believe that we're in this situation and all you want to talk about is my manners. Well, let me tell you something, Mister, I'm deep. I have many different levels. It's all there, just bubbling under the surface! You don't know how hard I can hit the ladylike thing! I'll hit it so hard, I'll leave a mark.

"Not quite the point, but I'm sure you can knock out any lady in society, pet."

"Darn right, I can." Buffy's face mouth fell open when she realized what she had just said. "Oh, Dang it! You make me so mad, Spike, I could just stake you! You know, when I woke up this morning, the last thing I thought I would encounter would be an etiquette quiz."

"Buffy, while you're reviewing the past few Miss Manner columns you've read; you don't happen to see an exit nearby?" Spike asked as he continued to look around him.

"What do you mean?"

"Believe it or not, I would really like to get out of here! I've finished the ten cent tour, had my picture taken, got the souvenir mug and now, I would really like to go home. I want to get started on boring all my friends with tales about my trip." Spike lifted a hand toward the horizon and continued. "If you would do the flight attendant thing and point out the nearest exit, I would be ever so grateful, pet."

"Now, you're asking me for favors! Don't think you are going to distract me from talking about this later." Buffy warned.

"Wouldn't expect anything else, pet." Spike responded. "Never mind, I'll find it myself."

As Spike began to walk forward, the fog began to get thicker and darker. The light pink began to become maroon as the fog became denser and started to climb up to his waist. He turned slightly as he raised his arms as he looked down at the fog as he continued forward. Suddenly, he stopped as he saw a figure up ahead. Bouncing on his toes and clinching his mouth closed, he charged at the figure.

"SPIKE! What are you doing?" Buffy called out as she watched the vampire launch himself at the figure.

"Little busy, luv!" Spike closed the distance as he pulled back a fist to strike the figure.

He stuck and was surprised to see his fist go through the figure that seemed to be made of smoke. He lost his balance with the momentum and stumbled a few feet before he could bring himself to a stop. He spun around to see that the figure had dissolved back into the pediment. Spike's face clouded with confusion as he spun around looking for the figure to reappear at any moment.

"Well, that was impressive! Not!" Buffy stated with a smirk in her voice.

"Do you see him? Did you see where he went?" Spike asked as he spun around looking for the figure.

"Yeah, I saw him melt away. Really, Spike, you need to not be so impulsive. If you're going to charging at any smoke figure that comes about, we're going to be here for an eternity."

"Well, what do you recommend, oh mighty slayer?" Spike slowly stopped spinning and placed his hands on his hips.

"Well, don't just start charging around like a lunatic! Think of a plan! Oh, sorry, that's not you're strong suit." Buffy said with a smirk on her face.

"Slayer, if you could manage to focus on the situation I'm facing, I think it would be more help. I am going to taking on a bleeding powerful creature with only my two hands."

"Well, look around! Maybe you could find a weapon? You know, like that space guy did."

"What space guy?" Spike looked totally baffled.

"It was that old TV show where that space guy that was fighting that lizard thing. You know, that TV show! He was able to build a canon to defeat the super strong lizard." Buffy prompted as she tried to unsuccessfully remember the name of the show.

"First of all, I can't even see beyond this irritating pink fog. Second, I am certain there are no bleedin foundries in the immediate area." Spike became more agitated as he spoke. "And third, when exactly did I land on Jeopardy and you became bloody Alex Trebek!"

"Just trying to help, you don't have to get unhinged. Really." Buffy replied, letting out an irritated sigh.

"You remember that...Uh oh." Spike looked around him as the reddish fog began to swirl and darken. "Looks like I am just about to get busy."

Suddenly surrounding him four figures rose up from the fog, followed by another four figures. The figures began to exponentially increase around him. He stood there stunned as he slowly turned taking in the figures that became clearer and more defined. Spike found himself in the center of large crowd.

At a sound, he glanced over his shoulder and there was Gustav. He was exactly like he remembered back in Krakow. Gustav's face was lowered, and then slowly he brought it up to look at Spike. He looked just like the last time when Spike saw him in Poland, just like when he, Spike, Dru and Karima had danced the night away together. Spike turned to look at him fully, as he did his elbow brushed the figure of Gustav and it dissolved before his eyes.

"What the bleedin hell?" Spike uttered as he took a step back and brushed another figure which also dissolved at his touch.

Spike staggered back also brushing against a figure that also dissolved. His eyes swam around him at the multitude of figures. He began to kick and swat at the figures. Issuing a whoop from his mouth as watching the outline scatter, Spike began to revel in the violence. Figure after figure, Spike smote each one; the clear enjoyment in reckless destruction soon gave way to dissatisfaction with the lack of challenge. Finally, coming to a stop, Spike puffed out his chest and raised up his arms.

"What are you waiting for, you Wanker?" He yelled at the top of his voice.

"Spike! Spike!" Buffy called out.

Spike did not respond. Aunt Charlotte stepped forward.

"The battle has begun. He can't hear you now." Aunt Charlotte intoned.

"What do you mean? Battle?" Buffy asked as she looked up urgently at the other woman and back to the pool.

"This event has been forthcoming for eons. It is now upon us." Aunt Charlotte pointed at the pool.

"What? What are you talking about? Spike in a momentous battle? Are you sure you got the right vampire?" Buffy asked exasperatedly.

"William is the end of long line of paladins. There is no other. He must succeed in defeating the creature. It is his destiny."

"I hate to tell you this, but do you have your money on the wrong horse! He's kinda bad on follow through. I can tell you from personal experience: big talk, little success! He couldn't even follow through on destroying the world." Buffy huffed.

"Yes, that tells you something about him doesn't it?" The woman cocked her head in a manner that reminded Buffy of the vampire. Maybe, they were related, she thought.

Buffy watched as Spike continued to cut a swath through the multitude of smoke figures. He quickly became dissatisfied as the figures offered little challenge. He came to a halt as he felt the whole situation had become ridiculous, he grumbled.

This has got to be the most bleedin idiotic…"

Spike stopped to look at one figure that appeared in front of him. There stood his grandfather, just as Spike remembered. Just as old and imperious as he remembered, just not quite as tall. Spike took an unsure step back at the figure. He sensed something behind him and turned.

His eyes widened as he stared at an almost a duplicate of himself standing there. Memories flooded Spike's mind of being smaller, looking up from where he sat on a carpet in front of the fire in the den, running through the garden looking back to the house, holding on to his nurse's hand as he ritually bid good night. The memories came surging back from a time where he all he knew was love and security. It threatened to topple his self control. Spike was shaken down to his very foundation as he stood there, holding his breath as his eyes swam over the figure.

"Papa?" he asked as almost a whisper.

The eyes of the figure opened and stared directly into Spike's eyes. Spike stood there mesmerized as he waited for a reaction. Suddenly, the figure of his father reached out and grabbed him by his throat. The hand closed with unearthly strength around his throat, pulling Spike forward. Still dazed, Spike put up his hands to pull the arm away from his throat to little effect. Buffy watched as the arm slowly turned silver it began to crush Spike's throat.