Nothing the Same, Book 2
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same.
Previous parts here
“Must have been mistaken thinkin’ we had a clear agreement that this sort of thing wasn’t goin’ to happen again.”
Spike had been standing in the doorway observing the two occupants of the room for far longer than it should have taken them to become aware of his presence. Going at it hot and heavy, they hadn’t noticed him even when he’d leaned against the door frame and pulled out his lighter and smokes. A wave of fury at their heedlessness swept over him when even the sound and smell of him lighting up hadn’t penetrated their lustful absorption in each other.
The Slayer and Angelus jumped apart as his sarcastic comment finally pulled them out of their obliviousness and they realized they were no longer alone in the mansion. The Slayer put a trembling hand to her lips, looking stricken and guilty. Angelus hid his feelings better but Spike could read the embarrassment and guilt behind the seemingly blank mask he faced Spike with.
“Love a good apocalypse much as the next demon,” he continued with brittle sarcasm, taking a deep, steadying drag on his cigarette. “But I was under the impression that you two weren’t plannin’ on playin’ that game again.”
“We’re not together like that. This was… this was a mistake.”
Spike snorted, lifting a scarred eyebrow inquiringly at the Slayer. “Snogging with the wrong vampire? Or you both develop sudden amnesia about what happens when Angelus gets a little too happy?”
“You’ve made your point, Spike,” Angelus growled.
“Doubt that, seein’ as how I made the same point when I let you live and you gave me your word you weren’t goin’ to be sniffin’ ’round the Slayer’s skirts anymore.” Spike took another deep drag then flicked his cigarette directly at his Sire. “’pears your word isn’t worth much these days.”
The Slayer stepped between them, as Angelus’ growl rose dramatically at Spike’s accusation. “Stop. This was a mistake. I know that. We didn’t mean for it to happen and it won’t happen again.”
“Too right, it won’t. ‘m not cleaning up the mess again. Last time you two did the mattress dance, Angelus here decided to celebrate by destroying the world. And you did piss-all to stop him, Slayer, despite the fact that most of the bodies in his wake were people you claim to care about. Thought we were all agreed we weren’t up for a repeat of that little fiasco.”
“We’re not together, Spike.” For a wonder, his Sire sounded almost conciliatory. “As Buffy said, it was a mistake. We were training and it just… happened.”
“Just how stupid are the pair of you? Training’s about sweat, and heat, and body contact. Might as well have gotten starkers and climbed into bed together. What the hell are you two doin’ here together anyway?”
Angelus and the Slayer exchanged a quick glance that had more than a little guilt in it. “I was just checking on Angel, making sure he was ok. That he was getting his strength back.”
“Great plan. Are you two even fooling yourselves? You’re not friends. Saying that you are, telling yourself you’re just playing Florence bleeding Nightingale doesn’t make it true. You want each other until the lust stinks up the room. If it was just you two torturing each other with what you can’t have, that’s one thing.” He glared directly at Buffy. “Your idiotic doomed romance endangers your mother, your Watcher, and all your friends. More importantly,” his yellow-eyed glare swung back to Angelus. “You are endangering my town and my Claimed. If I ever catch the two of you alone again, one of you is going to die. ‘m not letting you risk the world because you two can’t keep your hands off and you’re too stupid to stay away from each other.”
Both of them were silenced by the fury and withering scorn in his voice. He was right and they knew it. Pair of bleeding idiots, wallowing in their star-crossed love. Slayer was a teenaged girl, on some level she probably got off on the idea of a forbidden, dangerous lover, but Angelus should blood well know better. Spent enough time whining about how his soul made him different, you’d think he’d act like someone who wasn’t trying to end the world.
Part of Spike wanted to just let loose and attack them. Even though they’d settled things between them, enough turmoil and resentment and hurt lingered from what had happened with Xander that an all-out fight would feel good. Clear the air and purge the last of his unsettled emotions. Nothing like dragging yourself home, battered and bloody and triumphant to let a vampire get a good night’s sleep.
Shaking off the pleasant thought of Angelus’ bones splintering beneath his fists, Spike fished in his duster for his smokes and lit up again, letting the smoke warm and calm him as it filled his lungs.
“Let’s go, Sire. Slayer can find her own way home.”
“No, stay here Angel. I want to talk to Spike.”
Both Spike and Angelus were surprised by that decision. Angelus especially looked dubious, shooting wary glances between the two of them. Spike grinned, Angelus’ concern for the Slayer’s safety cheering him considerably.
“Don’t worry, Angelus. Won’t kill the bint on the way home.” It was ridiculous how much it meant to him that his Sire knew he could take the Slayer.
They walked side-by-side in silence through the fancy neighborhood the mansion was in, angling across town towards the Slayer’s house. Spike waited for the Slayer to speak but she seemed lost in her own thoughts, head down, eyebrows drawn together as she wrestled with some problem or other. Finally, she seemed to come to some sort of decision and asked:
“You keep calling Xander your Claimed. What does that mean?”
Spike shook his head in disbelief. This Slayer clearly never studied her main opponents. Claimed humans weren’t exactly obscure vampire trivia - a large percentage of Master Vampires took one or more. “Means exactly what it sounds like: Xander’s mine. He’s under my protection and anyone who hurts him has to deal with me.” Seizing the opportunity she’d given him, he added, sharply: “That means the witch as well. Red ever hurts Xander again, ever does another spell on him, ever puts him in danger, she won’t survive the experience. You care anything about her, you keep her in line, Slayer.”
“Thought you supposedly weren’t killing humans anymore.” It was said with less heat than he expected. Apparently Xander was right and the Watcher had actually gotten through to Red’s friends about how serious her actions had been.
“Willing to make an exception to protect Xander,” was all he said.
The Slayer put a hand on his arm and stopped him, turning him so he was facing her and she could see his face in the glow from the streetlights. “Claiming is more than just dating him, right? Did he agree to this?”
“Doesn’t look unhappy, does he?” Spike was torn between amusement and irritation at her belated concern for Xander’s well-being.
Buffy’s eyes studied him intently. “And the ‘my town’ thing?”
“Been Master of the Hellmouth since I arrived, Slayer. You just figuring that out?”
“How can you control the town if you aren’t killing?” she asked suspiciously.
Her jaw tightened under Spike’s scornful look. “Being Master of a territory doesn’t have piss-all to do with humans for the most part. Not like I’m doling out victims to the members of my Court. I’m in charge of demon business in the territory. Humans aren’t really on the radar as far as that goes.”
“Xander’s not part of my Court,” Spike snapped. “And since when do you care about what he does?”
“I don’t. I just don’t want him showing up one night as a vampire and killing my mother or Giles.”
Spike punched her almost before the words had left her lips. She stumbled back, but regained her balance almost immediately, yanking out a stake and dropping to a fighting crouch.
“I’m not turning Xander. Even if I did, I wouldn’t let him hurt your mum,” he snarled, outraged by the accusation.
“Buffy.” Angelus materialized out of the shadows and stepped between them. From her start, she hadn’t known he’d been lurking behind them, listening to their conversation. Spike had known, but considering that he wouldn’t have let Xander go for a walk with Angelus without following and listening, he hadn’t been bothered by it. “Spike doesn’t plan on turning Xander. Not now, maybe not ever. He won’t do it without Xander’s consent and Xander’s not ready for that step.”
“I don’t understand what you two see in each other,” she complained, but apparently accepted Angelus’ assessment of the situation, tucking the stake back into her pocket and standing more at ease.
“None of your business anyway,” Spike replied. He saw no point in defending his relationship with Xander with someone who didn’t like or respect his Claimed. The Slayer was still talking.
“Angel, are you ok with Spike being Master of the Hellmouth?”
Spike smirked, cocking his head to one side and waiting gleefully for Angelus’ answer. No way the Slayer could know how much it irked his Sire to admit that Spike controlled the territory that some part of Angelus still viewed as rightfully his. Angelus shot him an irritated look, knowing exactly what Spike was thinking. “I’m not interested in holding the territory, Buffy, so Spike is probably the next best choice,” he answered grudgingly.
“Well, now that that’s all settled,” Spike was about to make one of his trademark dramatic exits when it occurred to him that that would leave the two lovebirds alone again. Scowling, he lit a cigarette and blew a long drag of smoke at them. He wasn’t a damn babysitter. “Which one of you am I escorting home?” he asked flippantly.
“Let’s talk, Spike.” Angelus nodded at Buffy and she turned and walked off. Spike’s lips tightened as his Sire gazed after her departing figure until she had moved beyond even demon sight.
“Meant it, Angelus. If I catch you two alone again, I’ll kill you. Not having you put my boy through anything like that again because you can’t keep your codpiece fastened.”
“I don’t want anyone having to deal with Angelus again,” he answered soberly, meeting Spike’s eyes with straightforward remorse. “Buffy and I are the past. Tonight was an aberration.” After a short pause, he added: “You’re right. We shouldn’t be around each other while our feelings are still so strong.”
Studying his Sire, Spike nodded, accepting his sincerity. “Fancy a drink?” he asked casually and Angelus nodded.
“Yeah, I could really use one.”
Maybe there was hope for Angelus yet.
Arriving at the library for his regular study session with Giles, Xander was surprised to hear a crisp English voice addressing the librarian.
“Mr. Giles, your methods are unfathomable to me. I find you entirely confounding. The fact is, there is talk in the Council that you have become a bit too... American. I’m afraid I agree.”
Xander stopped just outside the door, pushing it open a crack and listening unabashedly. Despite the precise accent and over-perfect diction, there was something cutting and abrasive about the speaker’s tone. Whoever it was seemed determined to verbally flay Giles, albeit in a polite, British way. He resented the speaker immediately, not just for the way she was talking to Giles but also for the scorn with which she said ‘American’.
“Mrs. Post…” Giles began and Xander could hear the defensiveness.
And why do you let your Slayer socialize so much? It hardly seems…” She stopped, not so much trailing off as cutting her sentence off as abruptly as she had cut off Giles. “Well, no matter. The Council is better suited to address those issues.”
There was a sharp click of heels on the linoleum floor and she spoke again. “Anything in your books that might pinpoint the exact location of the tomb would be useful, but then, we cannot ask for miracles.”
Giles made the kind of stammering response he did when he was completely thrown off balance, and Xander abruptly decided he didn’t want to hear any more. Pushing the door open, he walked in, calling out as he entered: “Hey, Giles. What’ve you got for me today?”
Giles turned a somewhat hunted look in his direction as Xander looked curiously at the woman standing next to him, reading over his shoulder. A slender, brown-haired woman, impeccably, if boringly, dressed in a brown shirt and - Xander did a double take - a long, tweed skirt, hair twisted up in a knot, everything about her suggested the same kind of prim and proper tight-ass Giles had been when Xander first met him.
“And who is this?”
Ok, Giles had never sounded that rude, even when Xander had just been the goofy kid who’d accidentally learned more than he should have about the existence of a Vampire Slayer. “Xander Harris. Who the hell are you?” Two could play the rude game.
“Xander, this is Gwendolyn Post, she’s here to check on the special collection. Mrs. Post, Xander is a student I have an assigned study period with at this time. If you will excuse us, perhaps I can meet back with you in an hour.”
And wow, Xander didn’t want her to turn that blistering look on him. “Mr. Giles, while I appreciate that you have responsibilities here to the students, the matter I am here on is of considerable importance. I’m sure Mr. Harris won’t mind skipping his session with you for today. He is after all an American public school student. I believe skipping classes is a tradition with them.” She gave Xander a tight little smile that came nowhere near reaching her eyes.
Xander’s jaw dropped. That was way beyond rude. She’d just insulted like 90 percent of the student-age population of America. Giles looked flummoxed by her rudeness and was making a distressed tutting sound. Xander didn’t wait for him to pull it together and respond; it looked like it might take awhile.
“No sweat, Giles. We can re-schedule. I’ll just take my American public school ass out of here and leave you and Mrs. Priss, sorry Mrs. Post, to whatever you’re doing that’s so important.
Giving Giles a smile and ignoring Mrs. Post, Xander left. He stopped almost immediately outside the doors and began listening again, pleased to hear Giles’ angry voice saying: “That was uncalled for, Mrs. Post. Xander is quite intelligent and has been an exemplary student.” Xander smiled, warmed by the compliment.
“Yes, I’m sure.” She sounded anything but. “However, finding Lagos is of far more importance than any of your students.”
Giles sighed. “Yes, of course. The Council had no further information?”
“If it had, I would have already conveyed it to you, Mr. Giles.”
Xander whistled softly to himself. He’d never heard verbal abuse done in a cultured English accent before, but he was way too familiar with it not to recognize it when he heard it and Mrs. Post was good at it. Everything she said was laced with innuendo of incompetence and low expectations.
Wondering about what was going on, he left his listening post, heading for an empty classroom. He had a free period now and he might as well still us it for studying. He didn’t want to live down to Mrs. Post’s expectations.
“Buffy, what’s with Gwendolyn Post?” He said the name in his best snooty English accent and Buffy shot him a sympathetic smile.
“Yeah, pretty much a charm-free zone, isn’t she?” Buffy banged her locker closed and turned to face him. “She showed up during patrol last night and criticized me, my clothes, and my Slaying skills. I really didn’t like her.”
“I can see why that might not make her Miss Popularity 1998. What’s she doing here? She’s got Giles completely rattled.”
“Big time.” Buffy agreed, falling into step with him, glancing around automatically to make sure no one was close enough to overhear. “The Watcher’s Council sent her to evaluate Giles and to warn us about some demon looking for some all-powerful thingamabob, and I gotta stop him before he unleashes unholy havoc, and it's another Tuesday night in Sunnydale.”
Xander shook his head at Buffy’s summary. Buffy was not one for the details, that’s for sure. Still, he was surprised at her willingness to tell him even that much. He’d been dubious when Spike told him that Buffy had learned about Spike’s status as Master of the Hellmouth, but maybe that was the reason for Buffy’s new willingness to share. Either that or Mrs. Post had really ticked her off to the point of indiscretion.
“Sounds about right. How do you know?”
“Overheard them talking in the library,” Xander admitted frankly. “Look, Buffy, umm… demons are supposed to check in with the Master of the Territory when they hit town. They don’t always, but a lot of them actually do. Do you want me to ask Spike about Lagos?”
Buffy gave him a long, searching look then, unexpectedly, smiled. “Yeah. That might be helpful. Thanks.”
As they continued walking down the hall, she asked curiously: “Demons have protocol?”
“Go figure. It’s more making nice so the stronger demon doesn’t kill you than actual manners, but it kind of works out the same in the end.”
“Giles, can I talk to you?”
Xander had made sure Mrs. Post wasn’t around before entering the library. One encounter with her per day seemed more than enough. Giles was in his office, books scattered around him and the Englishwoman-from-hell was nowhere in sight.
Giles looked up as Xander stuck his head in the door. “Hello, Xander. I apologize for earlier. Mrs. Post is a bit…”
“Annoying and stuck up?” Xander offered helpfully and saw the harried look on Giles’ face ease slightly.
“Perhaps ‘bracing’ would be a better description.” He sighed, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “If this is about making up our study period, I’m afraid…”
Xander shook his head quickly, dispelling that notion. “No, this is about something else.” He settled one hip on the edge of the desk and wondered how to begin. “Buffy told that Mrs. Post is here checking up on you for the Watcher’s Council?” He asked hesitantly, watching as Giles looked down at his books to avoid his gaze, hands automatically straightening the untidy piles for something to do.
“Yes. Just a basic review of my training and methodology,” he said with obviously false casualness. “I’m sorry for lying to you earlier about her reason for being here but I thought it best to avoid mentioning that a number of people are aware of Buffy’s identity as the Slayer. It could bring… unwelcome attention from the Council.”
Xander looked at Giles curiously, wondering why that sounded vaguely ominous. He’d always thought of the Watcher’s Council as being a bunch of Giles-es. Maybe a little stuffy and boring, but basically the good guys. Now he wondered if that had been naïve on his part. Filing it away for now, he returned to the subject at hand. “Giles, freshman year, we had this French teacher who was like the toughest grader in the school.” Xander made a face at the memory. Giles frowned impatiently and, for a moment, looked like he was about to interrupt, then settled again and waited for Xander to finish.
“He’s the reason I’m not taking French anymore. Anyway, he used to give these killer tests which pretty much everyone but Willow would fail. And, right before the tests, he would just rag on us about how stupid we were and how French was this beautiful language, much better than English, and how he expected us all to fail.” Taking a deep breath, he came to the point. “I heard Mrs. Post talking to you earlier and she kind of reminds me of our old French teacher.”
He took a deep breath. “Giles, you’re the smartest person I’ve ever me, but you’re not always good with people.” He grinned at Giles’ mildly affronted look and continued.
“I think Mrs. Post is trying to rattle you. I don’t know, maybe she wants your job or maybe she’s just one of those people who likes to see other people fail. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well on tests when I’m off my game and even I can see that she’s messing with your head.”
He slid to his feet. “I know this probably isn’t any of my business, but you’re a good Watcher and Buffy’s lucky to have you. Don’t let some stuck up harpy make you forget that.”
Giles just gaped at him speechlessly and Xander grinned at him. “Besides, you have a lot better resources than she does. I’ll see if Spike knows anything about Lagos or the glove of whoever thing.”
“The Glove of Myhnegon,” Giles filled in automatically.
“Myhnegon. Got it.” Xander slipped out without giving Giles a chance to recover his wits and headed for home to talk to Spike.
*A/N - Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episode ‘Revelations’