This is a continuation of my 'Better Things to Do' piece, for those of you who were hoping for a continuation. I liked it as a one-shot, so I'll be posting these chapters seperately, but you *do* need to read it first to really enjoy this.
All publicly recognizeable characters, places, quotes, and plotlines were created by Joss and belong to people other than me.
"Buffy this is extremely serious!"
She didn't have to turn away from the window to know that Giles was polishing his glasses furiously with his ever present handkerchief. His tone said it all, if the situation hadn't. Willow and Xander had led the charge back to Giles' apartment, apparently unaware of the way that Buffy lagged behind. She had been quiet and withdrawn on the ride back, letting her friends be the ones to tell the tale, both narrations loud, exaggerated, and full of wide hand gestures. Oz had followed quietly, no doubt puzzling out the situation for himself in that silent way of his, and as she sat to the side of the group, staring out intently at Giles' little tile garden deep in thought, she smiled at the idea that he was handling it the best of them all.
She certainly wasn't. Handling it. The 'lost' part of lost in thought was probably accurate. She couldn't seem to wrap her brain around the idea that, not only was the Gem of Amara real, but Spike was now in possession of it. More concerning to her even than this was the fact that she couldn't seem to get the image of Spike in swimming trunks out of her head. She'd fought him lots of times, and that required touching, so she knew that he was hard and muscled in a nice, compact way. But actually seeing it for herself was something else. Little flashes kept jumping into her brain; the curls of his damp hair, the soft bulge of his biceps, the way the blue in his trunks matched his eyes. Buffy shook her head, trying to snap herself out of this weird, seriously wrong drooling-for-Spike funk. Beads of water rolling down his chest, sand clinging to the back of his shoulders…
Grateful for the violent jerk back to reality, Buffy swung around in her chair to face her Watcher.
"Buffy dear, I know this is, well, nerve-wracking for you," Giles began, replacing his glasses to their rightful place on his nose. "And I know that when last we saw him, you and Spike were working together, but I think that with this added threat, it may be time to, well, do what you do best."
Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Added threat?" she snorted. "The Gem? Giles that's hardly an added threat."
"Buffy, I can understand why you would be hesitant to go up against Spike, what with his reputation as the Slayer of Slayers, but I don't think this is something to be taken so lightly." At Buffy's look of indignation, he hastened to correct his faux pas. "I'm perfectly confident in your abilities, do not mistake me. I merely feel that with Spike being so, well… unique as it were, that it would be wise of us to take precautions."
Buffy clenched her jaw. Giles' implication that she was afraid of Spike, that she doubted her ability to take him in a fair fight rankled. Just because she'd rather run her hands down that bare chest than plunge a stake through it… woah. Bad Buffy. Focus. Do not think about the evil blood-sucking fiend. All too eager to redirect her frustration with a certain blonde of the undead variety, she turned on her Watcher.
"Really Giles? Come on. This is Spike." She rolled her eyes, getting up from her seat and heading towards the door. "You remember? The vampire that helped the Slayer? Anything he does, he does for himself. He won't come after me while he has the ring. Like he said, he has better things to do."
Leaving three astounded faces and one stoic one behind her, she let herself out and trotted up the street towards home, a smile flitting across her face. Giles was right. She should be concerned. But for some reason, she just wasn't.
Spike had always been different. From the first night he'd shown his bottle-blonde head outside the Bronze last year Buffy had known that. They had probably all known that. Oh, the same burn to destroy each other had always driven them both, and while neither had slacked at all in their efforts, no blows softened or opportunities passed up, Buffy suspected that neither of them would have cared to really do the deed in the end. How else could they have survived their brief truce last year? Perhaps it was just their shared love of the fight; too fond of the challenge to end it so soon. She wasn't sure.
Ugh! What was it about Spike, with his stupid hair and his punk rock 80's attitude that made him so different from any vampire she'd ever faced? She supposed in certain ways he did remind her of Angel, but Angel had always had a soul. Spike hadn't. Still, at the same time they were so similar, both able to calmly interact with people as if they didn't just see them as the source of a hot meal.
The night Buffy had heard Spike's voice in the background as she spoke with her mother on the phone, she had run home in terror, horrified that she had allowed Spike's invitation into her house to stand. And even as she had thrown him onto his back over their kitchen island, raising a wooden spoon to his chest, something in the back of her mind had marveled at the fact that he had been sitting quietly at the table, sipping cocoa and clinging to her mom's words like a frightened young man in need of some parental advice.
He was different in other ways too. He seemed to be much more in tune with his human sensibilities than other vampires, though as a rule Buffy didn't spend much time with the others. But she did notice that Spike seemed more strongly attached to his vices; he smoked constantly and drank himself drunk with regularity. Buffy had even seen him eat. He had a gusto for the life he lead, and lived it quite happily if she were any judge, nothing like the always-brooding, ever-atoning Angel or the other blood crazed vamps she often fought. Spike played pool and danced, watched television and kept up on popular culture, though his wardrobe certainly didn't show it. He was just… happy.
And the sun. Every vampire Buffy knew, Angel included, feared the sun with a kind of bitter regret, but not Spike. He ran around in the daylight without a care, standing about smoking cigarettes in shaded alleys, running across parks under smoking blankets, driving his beloved blacked-out DeSoto wherever he chose. This should have driven Buffy mad, what with the added threat of a vampire being active in the daytime as well as at night, but she somehow found it to be rather endearing, his seemingly total lack of self-preservation in this regard utterly at odds with his passion to enjoy his time on earth and the brutality with which he fought to preserve it. In a way she supposed she admired him for being everything he was, unapologetically.
But all the things that he was certainly made for a surprise when Buffy and the Scoobies had connected the sinkhole with Spike's search for the Gem. She couldn't understand why the dark warrior who had never feared the sun was now tunneling around underneath the city in search of the vampire's Holy Grail. Now, knowing that he had it, his words buzzing in her head, she thought that maybe, perhaps, she could understand.
Letting herself into the house on Revello Drive, Buffy noted that her mom had yet to return. Tossing her note into the trash, she grabbed an apple from the refrigerator and headed up the stairs to change into dry clothes.
She had never really thought about how hard it must be. To lose the sunshine. Especially in a place like California. Yes, she knew it was limiting, but she'd never really thought of it as more than an inconvenience to the demons who dwelled in the dark, thrived in the moonlight. But then, she'd just admitted that Spike was no ordinary demon, hadn't she. If he spent his time sunbathing on the beach, something Buffy herself regretted not having the time to do more often, was it really right of her to take it away from him?
The phone was ringing in the kitchen. It could certainly be one of her mom's clients, but she suspected it was Giles, and this made her take her sweet time traipsing down the stairs. She hoped the ringing would stop before she got to it, but no such luck. Stupid phone.
"Cheesy's Pizza, how can I help you?"
"Buffy, really, is that appropriate for a girl your age?"
Buffy sighed heavily into the receiver. "Just be glad you've never been the target of me, Xander, and Willows' prank call nights," she grumped. "Actually, we have another one coming up, you may want to change your number Giles…"
"Buffy please, we don't have time for this. I'm not sure what's making you side with Spike right now but…"
"I am not siding with Spike!" Buffy screeched. She could practically see Giles thrusting the phone away from his ear, but she didn't care. He'd roused a weird guilty-badness feeling, and she went on the defensive. "I just don't think this is a big deal! I mean, Spike went around in the daytime without the ring anyway; why should I care now? And it's not like he's doing anything evil with it. I mean, the guy was building sandcastles on the beach…"
Suddenly realizing just how much it sounded like she was defending the vampire, her words trailed away. Safer if she was just no-talky Buffy right now.
"Buffy, I understand your reservations about slaying demons who are… harmless," Giles began. "And while I know that Spike having the ring isn't causing alarm while he is merely using it to… work on his tan, I assure you that given time it won't stay that way. He is the second most deadly vampire in history and for good reason. His being in possession of such a rare and valuable artifact is dangerous, and eventually he will use it to do something that, well that Spike would do."
Buffy was silent, torn between two truths. What Giles said was probably true. Spike was an evil vampire, and would eventually come up with some scheme to use the ring in a way that wasn't Slayer-approved. At the same time, it just didn't feel right to take it away from him. He was the one who had believed in the Gem, the one who researched it and who did the work to recover it. After over a hundred years, Buffy kind of thought he deserved it. But…
"I know you're right Giles," she said glumly. "As bad as Spike's plans usually turn out, eventually he'd get up to something that winds up with collateral damage."
Giles made a noise of protest, no doubt at the sentiment 'collateral damage' conferred, but she pushed through it "I'd feel pretty guilty if that happened. Guess I'll have to go get it back."
"Erm, well, yes," the Watcher agreed, "but what is your plan? You can't just walk in and take it from him Buffy. Spike has killed two Slayers, it's hardly a fair fight."
Buffy laughed sardonically into the phone. "Actually, I think it finally is."