TITLE: A Questing We Will Go
AUTHOR: JK Philips
RATING: PG (It will probably eventually get to R, if not NC17. For now, plain PG)
SUMMARY: Where did Dawn learn to fight like that in “Grave?”
TIMELINE: Immediately after “Grave”
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters; they are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & Fox. I simply am doing this for fun, and non-profit use.
EMAIL: . Feedback always appreciated.
MY WEBSITE: www.jkphilips.com
--------------------------------------------------- Harmony bounced on the bed. “Wake up, sleepy head. I have a surprise for you.” The lump of covers shifted slightly and groaned. Empty and half empty bottles of booze littered the floor around the bed. They covered the surface area of the nightstand and sat in a row across the headboard. She suspected he probably had a flask of something stashed under the covers with him too. It sure smelled like he did, at any rate. The whole room reeked of booze and stale pig’s blood and… She crinkled her nose. He hadn’t left this room in days, only crawled out of bed to take a leak in the corner. She was starting to regret taking him back. The begging had been nice at first, and she had enjoyed being the one in charge finally, but she missed being ravished and brutalized and made to cry uncle. When they had sex, it was all gentle and tender, and after he came, he cried like a baby. Well, sometimes he just passed out. She jiggled the bed some more. “Wakey, wakey.” A hand darted out from beneath the covers, knocking into the discarded bottles on the nightstand. They toppled over like bowling pins. She grabbed the wrist and nibbled on the fingers. She bit the tip of his thumb hard enough to hurt. “Sod off, Harm.” “But I brought you a present, Spike. Something that’s going to make my Blondie Bear feel like himself again.” “Yeah?” He didn’t emerge from the covers, but he did sound mildly interested. “You find a time machine somewhere?” His words were slurred. He was still drunk. He was always drunk. “The slayer, Spikey. I finally got her.” He finally poked his head out to look at her. For a guy who spent all his time sulking in bed, you’d think he’d have worse bed-head, maybe flat on one side. But it remained all cute and … well, spiky. And you’d think he’d be a little more appreciative of her accomplishment, considering how hard it had been to think up, and how nasty those DoubleMeat employees had tasted. “C’mon, Spikey-wikey, she’s all chained up and waiting. This’ll fix everything.” “How?” He got up out of bed, wrapping a sheet around his naked body. Like it was anything she hadn’t seen before. “How will this fix anything, Harm? Don’t you get it? She’s the reason… the reason for all of it… for this constant fire burning inside me. Doesn’t matter how much I drink, can’t put this fire out.” “Well, duh, everyone knows you don’t put alcohol on a fire. I mean, that’s how they make flambé.” He glared at her for several long seconds. “Oooohhh! I get it! That was supposed to be metaphorical, wasn’t it?” She flounced over to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He flinched back from her initial touch. “Look, the slayer will fix everything. You can get rid of that icky soul and everything will be the way it was.” “What makes you think the slayer can unsoul me?” “She did it for Angel. You told me.” She nipped at his earlobes, whispering the rest. “I know I said no threesomes unless boy, girl, boy.” “Or Chereze Theron,” he finished absently. “Right. Except not the fat, ugly Chereze from that Monster movie.” She pulled away, toying with the longer hair at the nape of his neck. “But I might make an exception to the threesome rule, if sleeping with the slayer will make my Blondie Bear himself again. And if you promise to make her scream.” Spike should thank her, or at least compliment her on the brilliance of her plan. Instead he just laughed and laughed. A little giggling. A mad twitter. Hysterical laughter that verged on tears. He did that sometimes, swung from one extreme to the other, and she never knew what might set it off. “What’s so funny?” She stomped her foot in frustration. “Angel slept with Buffy and lost his soul.” Spike pressed his hand to his chest, trying to force the words out through his laughter. “I slept with her and got mine.” Now she really was confused. “I thought you went to Africa and that demon gave you your soul?” Her eyes widened, and she speculated, “Oooo, was Buffy in Africa with the demon?” The laughter stopped abruptly. “She’s everywhere,” he replied cryptically. He pressed his hands to his head and slid down the wall to his knees. Harmony rolled her eyes. He was going to start rocking again, rocking and moaning about what a terrible person he was. She had tried some of that self-empowerment stuff on him like she’d learned in LA, but Spike didn’t seem to want to take charge of his destiny like she’d done. Maybe she just wasn’t explaining it right. “Come on, Spike. You keep saying you wish you could take it back. Well, your undo charm is chained up and waiting, and I went through a lot of trouble and thinking to get her here. So go bang your ex-girlfriend already, and then we can finally be together! I mean, it only took one time for Angel, right?” “You stupid bint,” Spike muttered, continuing on in a louder voice before she could protest the insult. “Angel lost his soul because of the gypsy curse! A little rough and tumble with the slayer made him a happy man, apparently something more horrific to them than Angelus. “I wasn’t cursed by gypsies, Harm. Just a demon with a sick sense of humor. Ergo, no strings attached to my soul, no loopholes, no escape clauses, no end to this insufferable torment, just an eternity to remember, to regret, to hear them screaming and begging for their lives, to hear her screaming and begging… forever and ever… amen.” He started crying then, sobbing brokenly, and she was so sick of it, she wanted to give him something to really cry about. A good staking would end all his pathetic blubbering. But… but… damn, he was really, really good in bed, and they had history together, and he was the only other vamp she’d found who wanted to be with her more than a few nights, let alone all eternity. She just wanted her old Spikie back, the big bad he was before his infatuation with the slayer made him go all soft. And apparently her plan for accomplishing that was less brilliant than she’d originally thought. “So sleeping with Buffy won’t get rid of your soul?” He shook his head. “Just’ll make me remember…” He groaned and stumbled to his feet. “Oh God, I need a drink.” That was nothing new. Harmony stared out into the dark caverns leading to their little love lair. She had the slayer chained and drugged, and now she didn’t know what to do with her. Harmony chewed on her lower lip as she thought. What else could she do with a slayer? And how could she keep all the do-good friends from ruining everything? *** Xander’s restless movements set Willow’s nerves on edge. He drifted closer and then further away, circling her like some goofy planet with a corkscrew orbit. His attempts at humor were obviously forced. She would have to be an idiot not to notice how skittish everyone was around her. And of all the taunts and teasing she’d endured from her classmates, not once had anyone called her an idiot. “Xander, you’re making me dizzy. Just sit here with me a sec, okay.” She patted the edge of the bed, and he slid in beside her, leaving more personal space between them than she was used to from Xander. This was her bed, her room, at least that’s what she was told. It didn’t feel like hers. She didn’t recognize much of the stuff. Giles’ friend Emily had been staying in the room, but supposedly she’d left most of her things in the suitcase that was lying next to the wardrobe. It could’ve still been Joyce’s, for as much as Willow recognized anything. Except Buffy’s mom was dead. Someone else was dead too, someone she was supposed to have loved with this all consuming fiery passion. Tara. Nothing more than a name now. “I kinda remember what you said before. In the hospital. Maybe you don’t. I guess for you it was years ago. Strange, huh? It’s still a little fuzzy for me, too, but it still feels like yesterday. Or maybe it was just a delirious concussion thing and never really happened. Anyway, I was waking up, and you were telling me you love me.” “I do love you, Will. I meant it before: I love yellow crayon breaky Willow and I love—” “Yellow crayon breaky Willow?” “Yeah, you know, kindergarten…? You broke the crayon…?” He paused suddenly, eyes panicked. “You do still remember all that right? Quick: how many fingers am I holding?” She rolled her eyes. “Amnesia, not blind, Xander. And yeah, I remember that. Four missing years is enough.” The awkward silence stretched between them again, and awkward silences had never entered their relationship before. There was only one logical explanation. All those years she’d harbored a secret crush on him and now her most basic fear had been realized: something had changed between them. “Xander, did we ever… you know? Were we ever a… you know? Was there like… couply… stuff with us?” “No— I mean yeah, but not really. Just bad hormones. Really, really bad. We saw the error of our ways. Reformed. 12-step program. Besides—” He shrugged and gave her a furtive up and down look. “You’re all gay now.” “Everyone keeps saying that,” Willow grumbled, running her fingers through her hair. It was so much shorter than she remembered, and layered. “But honestly, not feeling the girl love. It’s not like my stomach does flip flops thinking about… about Cordelia—” her face wrinkled in disgust “—or… or… Harmony or even Buffy.” A moment’s panic sparked through her as she remembered the awkward, standoffish way Buffy was around her. “Omigod, Xander!” Her wide eyes begged him for the right answer. “Please tell me Buffy and I weren’t… couply?” This earned her a full belly-laugh. He rolled right off the bed and onto the floor, tears streaming down his face and struggling for breath. She grabbed the nearest pillow and started beating him with it. He defended himself with tickling. He knew all her vulnerable spots. They wrestled each other for the upper hand. She knew more than a few of his ticklish spots too. When they stopped, she was laying on top of him, almost nose to nose. A different kind of awkward silence than earlier stilled their laughter. This kind of awkward silence she understood a bit better. Guessing movie quotes and ice cream on her nose. And Xander seeing her, really seeing her. Willow was almost surprised to find that she was the one putting Buffy between them when she said, “So Buffy and I never…” “Only in my dreams, Will, only in my dreams.” She rolled off him, then whacked him in the side for good measure. A soft umph, and then they drifted into a comfortable silence, the kind of silence that let her know that whatever else had changed, the important things remained the same. *** Emily watched Rupert from the foot of the stairs for a moment. He seemed at ease in this house, in a way she had never seen him in his own. He traded teasing banter with the slayer’s sister as he grilled her about the desert quest, a small grin quirking at the corner of his lips even as he rolled his eyes at the girl. Over the last few days, Emily had the opportunity to put faces to the names from his stories. Buffy. Xander. Dawn. Anya. Now even Willow. One face she had never thought to look for: Giles. She was having to relearn his face now, as if he were a different man. Giles from Sunnydale and Rupert from Bath were two entirely different men, and Emily hadn’t quite expected that. Shattered. That had been the man she met in Bath. Shattered by his slayer’s death, and rattling around his flat like a ghost in his own home. Just as shattered when he returned from Sunnydale the next time, as if he’d left pieces of himself behind. Emily had tried her best to mend the pieces that remained. In some sick way, that was the draw. White knight complex, Florence Nightingale disorder, whatever you wanted to call it, Emily had it bad. All her past boyfriends were the walking wounded in some form or another. When she’d met Rupert, his wounds had put her past relationships to shame, and she’d fallen hard. The nights they shared a bed at either his flat or her house, his touch had always held an edge of desperation. In the morning, she would wake, trapped in his arms, as if he were afraid to let her go. She told herself it was love that made him hold on so tightly. One night in the same bed in Sunnydale, and she knew differently. A comfortable tangle of limbs as they drifted to sleep. When she woke in the morning, he was lying slightly apart from her, and she realized that she was the one reaching for him. Now, watching him from the foot of the stairs, she had the answer she had searched for since that first chance meeting at the corner café. She knew how to mend the shattered pieces of his wounded soul. No hope for Rupert, the man she knew from Bath, but Giles from Sunnydale, she was beginning to discover was not nearly as broken. One small crack, and Emily could fix that. She smiled as she joined them in the living room, beaming at him even. He tilted his head slightly at her, an unspoken question in his eyes: what had her in such a good mood? She shrugged slightly in answer, leaving his curiosity unsatisfied, and instead turned her attention to Dawn. “I take it your quest in the desert didn’t provide the desired enlightenment?” “I’m the Slayer’s Key.” Dawn shrugged, unimpressed with her spirit guide’s insight. “I should put it on a T-shirt. Sounds kinda cool, even if it doesn’t mean much.” Emily turned to Rupert for translation. “Dawn was once a Key in the form of mystical energy. In order to protect her, they sent her to the slayer as her little sister. Apparently, since the monks made her out of the slayer, she is somehow connected to that power.” “How connected?” Rupert frowned in thought, twirling his glasses at the end of his fingers. Dawn jumped up to answer the phone, seemingly eager to escape their scrutiny. A moment later, she rejoined them, a puzzled frown on her face. “Giles, Buffy left for work this morning, right?” “I can’t imagine where else she’d be going in that outfit. Why?” Dawn cocked her head towards the phone. “That was the DoubleMeat. She’s missing in action.” He shared a worried glance with Emily, but his face had smoothed a moment later as he calmed Dawn’s fears. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Buffy had some slayer suspicions she wanted to investigate. Maybe that took precedence over work.” He was on his feet and heading to the door all the same. He reached one hand out to draw Emily along behind him, almost as an afterthought. “I’ll have a quick drive around town and look for her. It’ll give me a chance to show Emily around.” In Bath, he had needed her, in Sunnydale she was little more than a tagalong. Dawn called out after them: “If you do find her, tell her they fired her. She doesn’t have to go back.” “Thank God for small mercies,” he muttered under his breath as the door closed behind them. *** Buffy woke up, hanging from chains, dizzy and nauseas from whatever they had drugged her with. The DoubleMeat smell didn’t help with the nausea. Neither did seeing Spike sprawled against the far wall, a bottle of beer tipped in one hand and a half dozen empty ones scattered on the floor around him. She tried to muster up that old slayer courage, defiance in the face of danger. But the fear churning in her gut had little to do with being the slayer, and more to do with simply being a woman. She remembered the bathroom all too clearly, the violation of his touch crawling across her skin – I know you felt it when I was inside you – pinning her, bruising her, as she pleaded for him to stop – I’m gonna make you feel it – the terror that he would be inside her, hollowing her out into an empty vessel for his rage. The idea that being captured and chained up in these catacombs might just be another variation on the same theme, one that might have a better chance for success, that idea instilled a sense of panic that even slayer courage couldn’t quiet. “Let me go, Spike.” She wanted her voice to sound demanding, dangerous, instead it sounded plaintive, even trembling. “I’ve tried.” He took a swig off the bottle in his hand, realized it was empty and threw it across the room. “Believe me, I’ve bloody well tried. Tried to kill you. Tried to love you. Can’t let you go, Buffy. You’ve poisoned me.” She took a deep breath and steadied herself. “I meant, let me out of these chains. Let me go.” He stood, wavered for a moment, and then stumbled over to her. He caressed her cheek with his knuckles, and she froze. “Please, Spike, don’t.” Tears rolled down her cheeks and wet his hand. “Don’t worry, luv, it’ll all be over soon. For both of us.” Then he fell to the ground at her feet and cried, curled into a tight ball of misery, his whole body convulsing as he sobbed. *** to be continued...
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