Pairing: S/X, established relationship
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: Primarily season 5, but anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same , Books 1 - 3
Previous parts here
Minor heads up - This is the second chapter posted in two days (yeah, me!). If you missed the last one, the beginning of this one won't make a lot of sense. The link above can take you to the last chapter.
As it turned out, they didn’t do the spell that night. Tara quietly insisted that she needed a day to study to spell and learn as much about it as she could before attempting it. Xander was interested to see that, when it came to something important, Tara was capable of standing up for herself. It helped that Giles backed her up, telling Buffy that giving Tara time to prepare would greatly increase their chances of success. Buffy reluctantly agreed, unable to argue with their logic.
Xander ended up taking Dawn to the movies alone, calling and telling her casually that Spike had business at the Court and did she want to see a movie with him. Spike was still fairly battered looking and they decided that it would be better if Dawn didn’t see him until his injuries were more healed. Dawn eagerly accepted the offer, always glad for the chance to have someone else pay for an outing. She was always broke, despite what Xander privately thought was a generous allowance - of course, since his own parents hadn’t given him an allowance after he was about seven, he admitted his perspective on the subject might be a little skewed.
Spike just smirked when Xander asked with mock suspicion if he would have let Dawn see his bruises if Dawn had chosen any other movie besides a romantic teen comedy.
After buying their tickets and settling in to watch the previews, Xander was grateful that he and Dawn were alone. Unlike Spike, who would have seen and wondered about it, in the darkness of the theater, Dawn didn’t notice the little sideways looks Xander couldn’t help sneaking at her, looking for…he didn’t know what. Some sign that she was different, he supposed. The one time she caught him watching her instead of the movie, he was able to pass it off as sheer disbelief that she was enjoying the romantic drivel coming out of the teenagers’ mouths on-screen. Dawn made a face and threw popcorn at him until he apologized, and suddenly she was Dawn again. Not something freaky, just his surrogate kid sister. Someone he loved. Someone real.
Settling back to watch the movie, Xander realized that he’d apparently come to a decision, one he wasn’t even aware he’d been thinking about. It felt like a huge weight had fallen off his shoulders, and he felt a surge of relief, knowing that he wouldn’t ever find himself staring at Dawn like that again.
Spike was waiting for him we he got home after dropping Dawn off at her house. Xander slid down beside him on the couch and Spike put an arm around him, switching off the television as he did.
“How did it go?”
Xander shook his head, telling himself he wasn’t disappointed. After all, he hadn’t really thought there was much chance the spell would work, or truly believed that what was wrong with Joyce was mystical rather than physical. Buffy had been grasping at straws, looking for something she could fight. Something she could defend her mother against physically, since the alternative was sitting around helplessly waiting for someone else to do something.
“Buffy said Tara was able to do the spell. She checked Joyce’s room and Joyce herself while in the trance state. There was nothing there. She didn’t see any sign of any malicious spells around Joyce.”
“She sure she got it right?” Spike asked. “Maybe she wasn’t in the right kind of trance or something.”
Xander smiled, hearing the same desperate hope in Spike’s voice that Buffy had been clinging to. Spike wanted something to be attacking Joyce. Something he could kill. Human illness was as scary to Spike as it was to the rest of them, maybe more.
“She brought something along to test herself,” he told Spike. “A mirror that Willow did a spell on last summer, so the two of them can talk to each other through it.” Tara had blushed scarlet when she’d mentioned the mirror, completely unable to meet Xander’s eyes. He suspected Tara hadn’t realized that she was tracing the mirror’s surface lovingly with her finger as she explained the spell Willow had put on it. It made him wonder just how close the two had become.
“Anyway,” he continued, shaking off the thought for now. “Tara said that when she was in the trance state, she could see the trace signature of Willow’s spell around the mirror, but she couldn’t see anything unusual around Joyce or anything in her room.”
“So, not someone attacking the Slayer,” Spike said. “Knew she was being arrogant, always thinking it’s about her.”
Xander let that pass, knowing Spike was just trying to hide his own disappointment that the spell hadn’t given them an easy answer. He sighed, leaning his head down on Spike’s shoulder and twining the fingers together. “So, we’re stuck with waiting for the doctors to find what’s wrong,” he said, hating the need for waiting as much as everyone else.
“Maybe,” Spike told him cryptically.
“Yeah?” Spike answered the respectful greeting without turning his head. He was sprawled casually in his chair, ostensibly watching the Court minions but in reality keeping a sharp ear out for conversations throughout the hall. So far, he hadn’t heard anything beyond idle curiosity about how he’d gotten injured. The Court gossip was overwhelmingly in favor of Spike having won the fight, which was as it should be.
He’d come down to the Court without saying a word about the fading marks on his face. Having been absent from the Court for the past two nights, he’d needed to make an appearance, despite still showing obvious signs of injury. Couldn’t be helped and he wasn’t so injured he would have any trouble convincing the Court he was still fully in control.
He’d avoided the mistake of sparring with weaker minions. Given his still-visible bruises, Spike had selected two of the senior minions as sparring partners when he’d come down to the main floor, knowing all eyes in the Court would be on him, looking for exploitable weakness. He’d trounced both of his opponents by the simple expedient of drastically changing his normal fighting style. There wasn’t a vampire in the Court who hadn’t seen Spike fight, hadn’t watched and tried to imitate his fluid style, full of spins and kicks and rapid movements. Tonight, he’d picked up a short length of pipe to serve as a weapon and let it do the moving for him, relying on sheer strength rather than movement to power his blows.
Both minions had been caught flat-footed, unable to adapt quickly enough to the change. Spike had thrashed them both, striking them again and again with a short length of pipe, using quick, jabbing motions into their center mass, rather than his more usual side blows that relied on the momentum of his spins for their force.
Leaving both vampires battered and bleeding on the floor, Spike pitched his makeshift weapon away, sending it skittering through the crowd of minions who leapt aside to avoid it, and delivered a scathing lecture to his two opponents about the dangers of preconceived notions during a fight. His words carried clearly to the entire, silently watching Court, and Spike spun around on his good leg and crossed to the raised platform at one end of the room, careful not to favor his still injured leg in any way.
He flung himself down in the chair on the raised platform he used for formal occasions and watched the minions with sharp eyes as they moved about the Court, his demeanor forbidding enough that no-one dared approach him except his Lieutenants - none of whom had seen the need to address him. Until now.
Jose bowed in response to Spike’s acknowledgement and was uncharacteristically hesitant as he spoke. “There is something unusual happening in town. I am not sure if it is something that affects the Court, or simply a human matter, but I thought I would bring it to your attention.”
Spike regarded him silently for a long moment. Jose was usually the best of all his Lieutenants about knowing what was important enough to bring to Spike’s attention and what wasn’t. The fact that Jose himself wasn’t sure whether the matter was worth mentioning was interesting. “Go on.”
Jose inclined his head, signaling his gratitude for Spike’s willingness to listen. “Several vampires have seen human that have been behaving…oddly,” he said, hesitating fractionally over the description. “In fact, the reports have been that the humans were wandering aimlessly, speaking strangely, and in short, displaying all the signs of insanity.”
“And this is important, why?” Spike asked, lifting one eyebrow in a show of mild surprise. “Don’t see how mad humans would be a problem for the Court.”
“Ordinarily, I would agree,” Jose said, still looking as if there was something bothering him about the report. “But, in my experience, insanity is not particularly common. Three different individuals have been seen in the past week, and one was seen the week before.” He made a small, uncertain gesture. “As I said, I am unsure whether this is a problem that needs your attention but I decided to pass on the information.”
Spike nodded. It didn’t sound like anything he needed to worry about, but it was unusual enough that he was glad Jose had approached him. The Slayer had said something about the human who’d found the Dagon Sphere going mad, but neither she nor the Watcher seemed to think it was related to the sphere. He’d pass the word on to Rupert, see if he could make anything of it.
“Keep an ear out,” he told Jose. “Let me know if you hear anything else. Might be nothing more than the local madhouse having a security breach. Pass the word. If there are any more sightings, try and get enough of a description so we know if people are seeing the same nutter or different ones. Prolly nothing to worry about, but don’t hurt to keep an eye out.”
“Thank you, Master Spike. I will keep you informed.”
Jose bowed, the only vampire in his Court who didn’t look fawning or obsequious when he made the gesture and left him, melting back into the Court where Spike could see him quietly instructing the other Lieutenants. Careful not to let anything show on the surface, Spike smirked to himself. Jose was the only one of his Lieutenants who would dare approach him with something that vague.
Plague of insanity? Spike thought back to his human days, wondering if he’d read about anything like that before. He shrugged. Probably nothing, as he’d told Jose. More the Watcher’s area than his.
“Don’t give a damn what you got going on, Sire. Need your help,” Spike snarled into the phone. Angelus was being even more annoying than usual, growling at Spike that he was busy and trying to hang up on him.
“What’s wrong?” Angelus asked reluctantly. Spike would have staked himself before asking a favor for himself when Angelus was being like this, but this wasn’t about him. This was for Joyce and she was worth putting up even with his self-centered, pig-headed bastard of a Sire.
“Don’t like how the doctors here are treating Joyce Summers,” he said bluntly. “Want you to find me a specialist, someone better than the small-town idiots that are seeing her now. Someone who can find out what’s wrong with her.”
“What do you care, Spike?”
“I don’t,” he snapped, operating on instinct. “It’s my Claimed and the Slayer. They’re worried sick and the Slayer’s not even patrolling, spending all the time with her mum. Don’t care myself if she patrols or not, but it’s important to my Claimed.”
He hoped that the mention of Buffy and Xander would get Angelus’ head out of his arse long enough for him to be useful. As Spike’s Claimed, there was a thin family tie between Angelus and Xander. More importantly, although Angelus had let go of his one-time crush on the Slayer when he’d left town for good, with luck, there were enough fond memories to make him still want to help her when she was in trouble. Bloody soul had to be good for something.
Instead, he got a gusty sigh, like Angelus had taken up breathing for a hobby. “Spike, I’m sure the doctors in Sunnydale are fine. I’m really busy so you’re going to have to deal with this yourself.”
Angelus proceeded to explain what was keeping him so busy in LA and Spike suggested helpfully that Angelus might need a doctor himself. The call degenerated from there until both vampires were shouting at each other and the threats had become more elaborate and laced with profanity.
Spike cursed one final time and ended the call by the simple expedient of hurling his cell phone at the wall, shattering it into pieces. “Fucking hell!” he swore out loud in the empty apartment. “Bloody soul is supposed to make him act like he’s got a heart, not make him mental.”
“Spike? What’s going on?”
Xander stood frozen in the doorway, looking from the agitatedly pacing Spike to the mangled remnants of the cell phone still decorating the carpet.
“Worried about Joyce,” Spike said simply.
“Have they heard something new?” Xander asked anxiously. Joyce had had a doctor’s appointment the day after they tried the trance spell, and they’d been hoping that, this time, someone might have answers.
Spike shook his head. “Doctor keeps telling her they can’t find anything wrong. Bollocks. Joyce isn’t a whiner. She has headaches so bad she can’t do anything but lie on the couch. Something’s wrong.” His eyes flared with anger as he gestured at the shattered phone. “Angelus says he’s got too much going on to help and we should trust the local doctors. Fucking gone ‘round the twist, he has. Claims someone has resurrected Darla.”
“Darla?” Xander asked blankly, trying unsuccessfully to remember where he’d heard the name before.
“Angelus’ Sire,” Spike reminded him. His eyes narrowed vindictively. “Ravin’ bitch and good riddance to her. Angelus better bloody well hope no-one’s found a way to resurrect her, because she is not going to be happy with him, what with him stakin’ her an’ all.” He growled. “Just a fuckin’ excuse not to help. Can’t bring a vampire back from ashes.” For a moment, his voice held a note of longing and Xander knew he was missing Drusilla.
“Why did you call Angel?” Off-hand, he couldn’t think of anyone less likely to be useful, especially now. His last phone call with Cordelia had been spent listening to her complain about Angel - and this time it wasn’t about how cheap he was and how stingy with salary and benefits.
Spike shrugged. “Thought he might be able to help find Joyce a better doctor. Los Angeles has got some of the best doctors in the world.”
Xander looked at him in surprise and dawning hope. That was the best idea he’d heard from anyone about something they could do to help Joyce. He kissed Spike hard and put his hands on both of the vampire’s shoulders, smiling at him.
“You know what? Screw Angel. We don’t need him. From what Cordy tells me, he’s been acting weird for weeks now. Wesley will help us.”
Spike looked at him in surprise. “Watcher Junior?”
“He’s got more connections than Angel and I trust him a lot more than I do Angel, especially if Angel is losing it.”
He’d already found the number on his cell phone and was waiting impatiently for the call to go through. He smiled at Spike as the phone rang. “You know you’re going to have to buy a new cell phone, right?” Spike hated the phone, and was only willing to carry one because it allowed Xander to get in touch with him.
“Buy?” Spike asked with his closest approximation of wide-eyed innocence. The phone was answered by familiar British tones before Xander could reply.
“Wesley? It’s Xander. I need your help.”
“Buffy, Spike and I need to talk to you,” Xander said without preamble as she opened the door.
Buffy looked tired and irritated, though she made an effort not to show it. “This isn’t really a good time, guys,” she told them, keeping her voice low. “Can it wait?”
“No,” Xander told her bluntly. “Come outside for a few minutes. It won’t take long.”
She sighed and obediently stepped out onto the porch, closing the door behind her. She folded her arms and leaned back against the door. “Is it something Hellmouthy?” she asked with resignation.
Spike stirred beside him and Xander knew how much effort it took for his lover not to tear into her for the implication that Spike would need to come to the Slayer, hat in hand, asking for help controlling his Territory. It spoke volumes about how worried Spike was that he kept to their agreement and remained silent.
“We’re not happy with the way the doctors are treating your mother,” Xander began. Spike and he had agreed that it would be better if he talked to Buffy. If it came down to it, they weren’t going to listen to objections anyway, but Spike had agreed it was more likely Buffy would accept this from Xander. “We think she should see a specialist.”
“Well, duh,” Buffy said with quiet intensity. “But she won’t go. She says we need to have a first opinion before getting a second one.” Xander’s lips quirked, it was clear she was quoting her mother and he could almost hear Joyce saying it.
“See, that’s where we think that Joyce shouldn’t be given a choice. From what you told me last night, the doctors are giving her pain pills and telling her to come back for more tests - which are always scheduled for a few days or a week later. Meanwhile, nothing is getting done.”
Buffy was looking interested now. She’d stopped leaning against the door and was standing straight, her eyes flicking back and forth between Xander and the silent, unmoving Spike at his shoulder.
“We’ve made an appointment for her in Los Angeles with one of the best doctors on the coast. It’s tomorrow morning and they’re going to keep her in the medical center all day if necessary to do whatever tests they need. They’ll do all the tests tomorrow, not spread out over the next three or four weeks. The doctors there say time is of the essence sometimes and it’s best to do all the testing as quickly as possibly.”
Xander cleared his throat. “We figured we’d be the heavies. We’re just going in there and telling your mom she’s outvoted and she’s going. Spike is going to put her in the car by force if necessary.” He grinned suddenly. “Don’t worry, I’m planning on driving.” Buffy was almost as bad a driver as Spike. “Anyway,” he finished, a little awkwardly, “we wanted you to know what we’re doing, because frankly, we’re kidnapping your mom tomorrow, regardless of what anyone else thinks.”
Buffy stared at them wide-eyed for a moment, then suddenly lunged forward and hugged him so hard he thought his ribs were going to crack. When she released him, he just had time to glimpse the tears in her eyes before she turned and hugged Spike, to Spike’s complete astonishment.
“Thank you. I can’t tell you what this means to me. And Dawn. We’ve been so worried and feeling so useless. Thank you.” She smiled tremulously and swiped her sleeve over her eyes, blotting her tears. “And you’re right. We’re all three going to march in there and tell her she’s got no choice. Up to now, she’s been pulling the mom card when I’ve tried to get her to do something other than wait for the doctors.”
“Can’t pull that card on me,” Spike pointed out, as Buffy opened the door to let them in. “I’m three times her age.”
Joyce was absolutely predictable: insisting she didn’t need to see a specialist, that her doctor was fine, that she wasn’t up to the drive to LA. Half sitting, half lying on the couch, she did look tired and wan, but that only increased their determination.
Even the plea that she wasn’t up for the drive to LA, which sadly looked true, and not just an excuse, fell on deaf ears. As he and Xander had planned, Spike handled the confrontation with Joyce. She couldn’t pull rank or age on him, and by now she knew that Spike could be absolutely immovable when he thought he was right about something. Buffy and Xander made a solid wall of support behind Spike, silently reinforcing Spike’s words and letting Joyce know that they were all in agreement on this.
“Not giving you a choice about this,” Spike told her gently, crouched down beside the couch so his eyes were on a level with hers. “Strings’ve been pulled, appointment’s already made, hospital bed’s booked. Going to have to go with the flow on this one, Joyce.”
“But, Spike, this is silly. The doctors here are just fine.”
“They’re not ‘just fine’ if they can’t tell you what’s wrong in two weeks of trying. Sunnydale isn’t exactly the center of the universe for medical care, Joyce. This doctor in LA is top notch. If he says nothing is wrong, then I’ll bring you back home, and we’ll all stop worrying.”
Spike gave her a soft smile and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ears with gentle fingers. “We all love you, Joyce. None of us are going to risk losing you because the doctors here don’t know their arse from a hole in the ground.”
Joyce looked helplessly around at the three of them. “Alright. Although I still think it’s silly. And heaven knows what it’s going to cost.”
“All taken care of,” Spike told her breezily. In fact, Wesley had told them not to worry about the cost. He didn’t know and didn’t care how Watcher Junior had managed any of this: getting the appointment on such short notice and getting the cost taken care of. Either Wesley had a lot of pull at the medical center for some reason, or there was some kind of Saving the World chip being cashed in. Hell, Watcher Junior could have threatened them physically, for all Spike cared. All he knew was the Englishman he’d once dismissed as totally useless had come through for them in a big way, and Spike wasn’t going to forget that.
“Got it all fixed up, Joyce,” Xander told her. “I’ll be here to pick you up at 6 tomorrow morning. Buffy and Dawn can put pillows and blankets in the car tonight, so you can ride easily. Then the four of us will head out.”
“Four?” Joyce objected mildly. “It’s a school day.”
“Can’t make Niblet stay home if she wants to go, Joyce. I’m only staying here because your bloody car doesn’t have a boot.”
“I should hope so,” Joyce exclaimed, sounding like her old self for a moment. “You can’t ride the whole way to Los Angeles in a trunk!”
“Actually, he’s done it before,” Xander told her, feeling so much better now that she’d agreed and they were actually doing something. After all, the doctors who were treating her were the same ones who’d been diagnosing vampire attacks as barbeque fork accidents all these years. How good could they be.
He rested a hand on Spike’s shoulder and squeezed, so proud of his vampire he could barely stand it. This had been Spike’s idea, from beginning to end. And better than anything any of the rest of them had come up with. When Spike loved someone, he didn’t mess around. Not even Joyce was going to stop Spike from doing what he thought was best.
Which made him frown as he pondered the still unresolved question about whether to tell Spike about Dawn, but he forcibly shoved that thought away. Dawn would be safe with them in LA and he’d think about that they got back.