latest chapter of Crazy Eights for you.
Kick back, relax, read, and comment if you feel like it. Most of all,
Giles glanced at his watch, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his Slayer and her… vampire. He was never going to get used to that. With Angel, it had been easier. At least at the beginning of their relationship, Angel hadn’t been out to kill… although that state of grace hadn’t lasted long. Jenny Calendar’s face flashed before his eyes, and left a deep ache within his soul. He was still in mourning all these years later for a future that had been denied them by Buffy’s vampire lover.
How in God’s name did she expect him to react to Spike’s presence in her life? To their their claimed status? Spike was the epitome of evil – un-souled, legendary killer of Slayers. Despite the evident softening of hostilities between the two over the years (Giles was loath to admit there was genuine affection), he remained uneasy. This couldn’t possibly end well for anyone.
Giles sat down at the large circular table. He pulled a small jewelers box from his pocket, turning it over in his hands. He’d found a ring that Spike shouldn’t reject out of hand – a small silver bar with a sculpted skull, and a gold compartment underneath. The chip was a perfect fit, nestled safely inside.
There were so many ways this ‘plan’ could go wrong. First of all, it was Spike’s plan. Those never panned out well – luckily enough for his Slayer – in the past. Secondly, it was Spike’s plan. Giles pinched the bridge of his nose where another headache was rapidly making itself known.
The sound of the tinkling bell above the shop’s door announced the arrival of the Hellmouth’s most infamous pair.
“Hey, Giles. Whatcha got for us?” Buffy chirped, slumping down in the chair next to him.
“Rupert.” Spike tilted his head in acknowledgment.
With a deep intake of breath and a silent prayer for patience, Giles handed over the jeweler’s box.
Spike’s scarred brow rose towards his hairline. “Why, Rupert, I didn’t know you cared. Are you askin’ me for my hand in unholy matrimony?”
Buffy didn’t stifle the giggle. “Gotta love a skull engagement ring.”
“Now is not the time for frivolity.” Giles stood, flustered by the memory of the pair’s spell-induced engagement. “This adventure is fraught with danger. We have no idea if the chip will work outside of Spike’s body. And even if it does,” he paused, pulling out a handkerchief to clean the lenses of his glasses, “there’s no telling what the reaction of management will be if they find you spying on their operation.”
“I know all that, Giles,” Buffy said, chin upturned with a determined glint in her eyes. “But we need to do this. I need to do this. How am I supposed to keep Sunnydale safe from things that go bump in the night if I don’t know who they are and what they’re doing?”
Giles shook his head. He knew that once his Slayer made up her mind, there was no swaying her from her course. Still, he felt the need to warn her once again. “I don’t have a good feeling about this, Buffy. Even with Spike as your backup –”
“With old Spike as your backup, Slayer,” Spike interrupted, “we’ll lay waste to the bloody place if need be.”
Buffy tried to hold back a grin, but was only mostly successful. “I’m sure it won’t come to that. But if it does… I’ve been known to torch a club or two. I’m an experienced arsonist,” she said with pride.
“Fine, fine,” Giles conceded. “Joke all you like, just watch your backs. They’re likely to be watching you just as closely.”
On the way home to Revello Drive, Buffy stopped and grabbed Spike’s hands. “What are we gonna do?” she said, plaintively.
“Do about what, love?”
“The claim! Nobody’s come up with anything, and –”
“Your motor’s racing?” Spike’s scarred eyebrow did that jumpy thing that made her belly twist.
“Oh god,” Buffy groaned, dramatically. “I just wanna throw you down and ride you like a mechanical bull. Mom used to love the movie Urban Cowboy. She used to get that glazed look in her eyes watching John Travolta ride that thing, and I’m finally beginning to understand why.”
Spike shook his head, sighing. “I’m half-tempted to call old Neanderbrow myself. I’ve never been one for self-reflection or delayed gratification, Slayer. Oh, the wicked things I want to do with you,” he said, sliding his hands over her arms; looking at her with those gorgeous blue eyes of his.
She whimpered. She actually freaking whimpered her distress. “If the gang doesn’t come up with something in the next day or so, I swear you’ll have to get in line behind me.” Buffy stamped her foot, like a frustrated toddler. “It’s not the sex – well, it’s not just the sex,” she amended. “I want to be close to you in every way I can. This being in limbo sucks!”
“That it does, kitten. That it does.”
Once again dressed to the nines, Buffy and Spike stood in front of Crazy Eight’s chip panel. “Here goes nothin’,” Spike muttered.
Buffy held her breath as Spike placed his hand under the light. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, the door opened and they walked in, to be greeted by the ubiquitous Ailuros. Buffy couldn’t help but stare. This time the woman was dressed in a skin-tight cat-suit that looked painted on. The silver material sparkled as the light hit it; one couldn’t look away from the marked contrast it made against her tawny skin.
“Take a picture, Ssslayer,” Ailuros drawled, stretching her long legs and switching her tail. “As for you, Ssspike… I’m not entirely sure of your welcome here tonight.”
“There a problem, pet?”
“Let’s just sssay there have been whispers about the pair of you ever sssince that awkwardly public display of your claiming.”
Buffy snorted her displeasure. “At least you’re no longer denying the fact, you catty bitch,” she said, unable to keep the annoyance out of her voice.
Ailuros tipped her nose up, whickers twitching and her ears flattened slightly. “All show and no substance,” she said, haughtily. “But ssstill, a claim’s a claim, and it should keep you from being bothered by unwanted attention.”
“Are you keeping us from entering the club for a reason, Pussy Galore?” Spike snapped, obviously having reached the limit of his patience.
A Cheshire grin appeared on the cat demon’s face as Spike and Buffy were grabbed from behind by a couple of large bouncer types.
“I did try to warn you,” Ailuros said, snippily. “Management wants to see you both.
They made a show of struggling against their captors – just enough to look legit – and allowed themselves to be manhandled into a private office. In true Dr. Evil fashion, the crowd of enforcers parted to reveal a chair slowly turning around.
Buffy could’ve sworn she heard a musical score in the background as the occupant was leisurely revealed.
“William the Bloody keeping company with Sunnydale’s own slayer – Buffy Summers, all grown up,” crowed Ethan Rayne, looking as smug as could be.
Buffy turned to Spike, rolling her eyes and relaxing the tension in her muscles. “This is the idiot behind whatever’s going on with this club?” She shook off the restraining hands and placed her hands own hands on her hips. “What’s the matter, Ethan? Run out of band candy?”
“That was child’s play, silly girl. We’re in the big leagues, here.”
“Are you responsible for sending out the goon squad that attacked Spike?”
“Nothing personal,” Rayne said, then recanted. “No – make that definitely personal. You have a way of pissing people off, vampire.”
“Wasn’t causin’ any trouble,” Spike shook off the minions holding him, his eyes blazing with hatred. “Doesn’t mean I won’t now.”
Cracking the vertebrae in his neck, Spike looked more dangerous than he had in years. And Buffy couldn’t help being the teensiest bit impressed by the level of self-control her vampire was displaying.
“You might want to re-think that, Spike,” Ethan said, actually rubbing his hands together like a movie villain. “We know you removed the member chip. Without the blood, it doesn’t work, but we have other ways of keeping track of miscreants like you.”
“You wanna be like all the other cartoon villains and make with the exposition, Ethan?” It was all Buffy could do not to yawn in the man’s face. If she had a dollar for every Big Bad that bragged about their plans, she’d be a wealthy Slayer.
“I don’t see why not. It’s not like either of you two are going to be leaving here any time soon.” He looked insufferably pleased with himself.
Where, oh where was Giles with a good punch when you needed him? Buffy rolled her eyes, tapping her foot in irritation.
The door opened, and one of the club’s minions dragged in a protesting vampire. “I’ll pay, I swear it,” the vamp begged, looking around the room for support – and, of course, finding none.
Ethan stood up from behind his desk, a brick-sized black box with a bright red button on top in his hand. “This is what happens when our members fail to live up to their obligations,” he sneered, placing the box on the struggling vampire’s back and pushing the button.
A soft hum filled the air, and the captive vampire began to writhe and scream. It was all over in moments. The vamp went still, and fell to the floor. Ethan kicked the body over – it was nothing more than a husk. It looked for all the world like Spike’s description of a starved vampire, minus the bloated belly.
Buffy couldn’t help herself – she turned her head away and dry heaved. In the end, she couldn’t tell who made the first move. She and Spike turned as one, elbowed the guards in their ribs, and sprinted for the door.
“Give my regards to Rupert,” Ethan yelled at the couple’s retreating backs. “Let ‘em go,” he ordered his security team. “They’re not leaving Sunnydale. They come snooping back here again, and we’ll do this again – for real.”