BEFORE WE BEGIN
Warnings and Disclaimers:
Rated: PG (language)
WARNING: Spike and Dru are still a couple in this story, but Spike and Buffy will be working together, getting to know and annoy each other for the majority of the fic. This 'episode' of this series will not end with Buffy and Spike falling into each other's arms and declaring undying love. So, if you need that, you may want to wait for more of the series to be complete. Buffy and Spike do spend a LOT of time together and both start to see each other in a new light, there will be plenty of 'feel good' moments and some not so great ones between them. It's a process. I hope you'll come along for the ride.
Although not 100% necessary, you may want to read Episode 1 of this series (Not Monster Enough) for a bit more background on one of the main, original characters.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Joss owns all, I’m just playing in his sandbox.
Spike's a good boi. Everyone says so.
** X-X-X-X-X **
So happy! My hooman runs. I run too. Hooman fast. I fast too. My hooman strong. I strong too. My hooman brave. I brave too. She my fren. I her fren too.
Crunchy rabbits here. They bite. I bite too. They taste like chicken. Or chicken taste like rabbit? I must remember to think this when I am eating. I maybe can tell.
Is that squirrel? Sniff, sniff, sniff … Squirrel! Look, fren! Squirrel! Hooman does not mind squirrels. I dislike them. They chatter too loud, warn rabbits. They are rude and evil. They also crunch, but hooman says no crunch evil squirrels.
Wait! I see one! Rabbit! Rabbit! Look, hooman! Rabbit! She sees it! It is a race to the rabbit! I let her win sometimes. But I like how they crunch.
Leap! Crash! Roll! Fun! Rabbit growls. I growls too. Crunch! Crunchy rabbits are yummy.
My hooman is surrounded by sunshine – even in night. She shines bright, golden, fierce. My hooman is called Buffy. She is the Slayer.
I am Spike. Spike is a good boi. Everyone says so.
** X-X-X-X-X **
“Spike!” Buffy yelled as the puppy tussled around on the soft, damp grass with the fledge, both of them growling and snapping fangs at each other. “I can’t stake them with you shaking them like that! How many times have I told you?”
Buffy sighed and folded her arms over her chest impatiently, stake in hand, waiting for her sidekick to shake the vampire senseless. She could hear bones breaking beneath the dog’s strong jaws, and blood flew everywhere. She took a step back to avoid the ‘splash zone’.
“Damn it, I’ve told you about that, too!” she groaned as the dog gave one more violent shake of his head and the vampire’s neck snapped with a sickening crunch.
Spike looked up at her, standing with his front feet atop the moaning, immobile vampire’s stomach, proud and victorious. The puppy’s tongue lolled out, mouth hanging open in a rather gruesome doggie-grin with a slimy mix of blood and slobber dripping from his teeth.
Buffy sighed again, rolling her eyes as she stepped forward and planted her stake in the vamp’s heart.
Spike’s feet fell through the dust to the soft cemetery grass below and he huffed out a satisfied little chuffing sound, his long tail wagging wildly.
“Don’t you dare!” Buffy cautioned, raising a warning finger at the dog.
Spike took a deep breath and suddenly shook, starting with his nose and ending with his tail, flinging blood and slobber droplets in all directions.
“Damn it, Spike! What did I just say?” she screeched, jumping back and raising her hands in defense, but not quite fast enough to avoid the shower.
As his long hair settled back down straight and now clean of blood, he stepped forward and bumped into Buffy’s thigh with a solid shoulder. The Slayer nearly toppled over as his hundred pounds of muscle knocked her sideways, his long tail beating out a happy rhythm against the nearby tombstone.
Buffy huffed indignantly, but couldn’t help but smile, patting her hand down on the puppy’s enormous, furry head. “Good boy, Spike. You did good … messy, but good,” she told him, grimacing at the vampire blood that coated her hand from his self-cleaning mechanism.
“You still have some things to learn, like walk ten feet away before shaking,” she told him, tucking her stake away.
“Whoof!” Spike replied, licking her hand to clean the mess up.
“Yeah, dog drool? Not really an improvement,” she moaned as she turned and began walking again, the large dog falling into step beside her.
“Listen, we’re going to see Angel now,” she told him.
Spike growled, a low, barely-there rumble in his chest.
“I know, I know … you don’t like him, but I do, and I’m in charge … so far,” she added, looking suspiciously at the demon-hunting dog at her side.
Who knew that that little thing Spike – vampire-Spike, that is – had given her mother could turn into this in just a few short months? The vet said he wasn’t done growing, either. Based the snowshoes he had for feet, Dumbo ears, and a head that could double as an aircraft carrier, Buffy didn’t doubt it. Her mother had, of course, directly caused this outcome by proclaiming that she thought ‘Little Spike’ was a small breed, a lap dog, when vampire-Spike had first bestowed the puppy on her.
Spike had outgrown the little bed and collar they’d gotten for him within just a few weeks. They’d been through four beds now, finally just buying the largest one the store had. He hadn’t quite outgrown that one … yet. Next, she supposed, they’d just have to give him his own room.
Spike turned out to be a cross between a lion and a woolly mammoth in the form of a dog. He had a black mask on his face surrounding soft brown eyes and a powerful muzzle. Around his neck and down his chest was a thick mane, much like a lion’s, in a mixture of black, tan, and a glossy, coppery red. The rest of his coat was mostly the copper color with highlights of black and tan in the undercoat, all long, thick, and luxurious. Luckily, he seemed to be Scotchgarded; almost every type of demon goo, including blood, rolled off him like grape juice from a duck’s back. That was a really good thing, since it took almost a whole bottle of shampoo just to lather him up.
Everyone loved Spike. He was a gentle giant around her friends or even strangers, especially kids, but get him around a vampire or a demon and all bets were off. Until Angel had returned from hell, the only issue had been Oz. Spike wasn’t crazy about the werewolf, but Buffy had finally gotten him to stop growling every time he saw Willow’s boyfriend, at least.
Spike had turned into the best slaying buddy Buffy had ever had. His biggest problem was that he tended to get sidetracked by squirrels, and he’d sometimes knock her down in his eagerness to reach the vampires first. In other words, he was easily distracted, was a cheater, and really enjoyed a good fight – not unlike a certain peroxide-blond vampire she’d allied with last year. Add that to the fact that he didn’t like Angel one little bit, and Buffy thought that vampire-Spike, wherever he was, was having a really good laugh at her expense.
“I forbid you from peeing on Angel’s leg,” Buffy continued, giving Spike a stern look. “Or chewing up his shoes,” she continued. “Or starting a fight.”
Spike huffed out an annoyed breath.
“Yeah, yeah … live with it,” she advised as they turned into the long drive of the mansion on Crawford Street.
** X-X-X-X-X **
Angel was still quite weak after his return from the hell dimension Buffy had been forced to send him to six months ago. She’d had no choice, of course, it was the only way to keep the whole world from being sucked into Acathla’s hell dimension. She’d been stopping by with blood for him, doing all she could to help him recover since his return about a month prior. She’d not told her friends or her Watcher about his miraculous return – yet. The only person who knew was her mom.
Buffy knew how much her friends and Giles would freak out if they knew Angel was back, and she couldn’t blame them; she’d been pretty freaked out about it herself. She had planned on telling them after Homecoming, but Angel asked her not to. He’d asked her to let him get stronger, at least strong enough to defend himself against them in case they decided to do something rash and vengeful. She’d reluctantly agreed with his logic, but it still made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t like lying to her friends or Giles, but she didn’t want to put Angel in mortal peril, either.
Thank goodness her mom was there for her to talk to about it all, because she was really torn about the whole thing. Buffy’s heart had been shredded and had only just started to heal when Angel had reappeared. It would’ve been easy for her to just fall back in love – more than easy, she’d never really stopped loving him, despite everything. But, after many long, tearful talks with her mom, she’d very purposely kept him at arm’s length. He’d helped her in the past and she felt like he deserved the same in return, but they couldn’t go back to what they had before for more reasons than his gypsy curse.
She couldn’t lie and say it was easy to keep her heart caged, but it was necessary, and, with time, she hoped it would heal and move on, and not simply turn to stone.
As they walked into the garage, she buried her hand in the thick mane of the dog at her side, drawing comfort and support from the big, goofy animal. He had been her rock these last months, her nearly-constant companion, confidant, shoulder to cry on, and light in the darkness. He had kept her heart from calcifying and crumbling into dust.
Angel was shirtless out in the walled-in garden at his mansion on Crawford Street going through a tai-chi exercise when Buffy and Spike came in from the garage. She signaled for Spike to stay near the fireplace and he stopped, but a low rumbling growl began as Buffy moved closer to the vampire.
“Stop it,” she hissed, turning back to look at the puppy. He subsided for a moment, but resumed as soon as she turned her back on him again.
Buffy rolled her eyes and continued walking, pausing at the open garden doors to watch the vampire in the silver moonlight. ‘Bad, Buffy, bad!’ she realized a bit too late as a tingling warmth began between her thighs and started to spread through her lower belly as she watched Angel’s lean, lithe body shift and sway in the gentle light.
‘Stupid hormones! Stupid body!’ she chastised herself silently. Despite knowing she should, Buffy found it impossible to turn away. As if unaware she was even there, the vampire continued to turn and sway, his muscles lengthening and contracting in the most mesmerizing way across his strong arms and torso. She could remember how those arms felt around her. She could remember how this body felt against hers. She could remember his lips and his hands and …
Spike whined softly and clasped her hand gently between his sharp teeth, urging her away from Angel and back into the mansion. Buffy jumped slightly, looking down, surprised – she hadn’t even heard him come up next to her. She gave her friend a grateful smile and followed him back inside to wait. He always seemed to know when she needed a hug or a sloppy, gross kiss, and he was always willing to provide them.
When Angel came in from the garden a couple of minutes later, still shirtless, Buffy was sitting on one end of the couch with the big dog sitting next to her on the floor, his head across her lap. She had her whole hand buried in Spike’s thick ruff, enjoying the soft feel of his coat and the soothing ‘swish, swish, swish’ of his long tail across the hard floor.
The rumbling growl returned to Spike’s throat as Angel sat down on the other end of the couch from Buffy.
“You look better,” Buffy said, ignoring the growling of the dog leaning against her legs.
“I’m feeling better,” Angel agreed, giving Spike a narrow-eyed glare.
“He’s not going to bite you,” Buffy assured the vampire.
Spike and Angel both huffed at almost the same time in almost the same tone, both seeming to refute her. Buffy rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know why that dog doesn’t like me,” Angel continued, not taking his eyes off the large, coppery shadow that never seemed to leave Buffy’s side.
“He doesn’t like any vampires. It’s not personal,” Buffy explained for the umpteenth time.
Again, Spike and Angel both huffed at almost the same time in almost the same tone. Again, both seeming to refute her. Again, Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Maybe if he wasn’t named ‘Spike’ he wouldn’t be so obstinate,” Angel continued with a sneer. “Of all the names in the world, I still don’t understand why you let your mom name him that.”
Buffy sighed. “We’ve been over this,” she said irritably. “Spike helped her out … helped me out. I’d think you, of all people, would appreciate that.”
“Helped her by sticking her with a massive, overly-aggressive beast who’ll end up eating you out of house and home one day or, possibly, just kill you both in your sleep,” he grumbled.
Spike lifted his head up off Buffy’s lap and cocked his head, narrowing his eyes at Angel. He huffed out an indignant breath at the brown rabbit, watching for any opportunity to do more without breaking the rules.
The fluttering desire that had started in Buffy’s nether regions earlier ended abruptly. “He’s not ‘overly-aggressive’! He’s the best slaying buddy I’ve ever had,” she defended. “Again, I’d think you’d be happy that I have someone watching my back,” Buffy continued.
Angel rolled his eyes and sighed. “I am, Buffy, it’s just his name … Spike. You don’t know Spike like I do. You might as well name the dog ‘Evil’ or ‘Vile’.”
“Well, your grand-childe may be evil, but at least I knew what to expect from him. He’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ vampire. I have to say, that was a refreshing change at the time,” she pointed out. “All he wanted to do was kill me, not turn me into his latest Mad Magazine cover art.”
“Buffy … I … that wasn’t me,” Angel sighed, dropping his head into his hands, his elbows resting on his knees.
Spike dropped his head back onto Buffy’s lap and nuzzled her hand with his nose, urging her to pet him again. She obliged with a sigh. “I’m sorry, Angel … I shouldn’t have …” Buffy shook her head as her voice trailed off. This whole Angel / Angelus thing was one of the things she and her mom had talked about over many a cup of hot cocoa and cartons of ice cream. It was still one of those things that confounded and confused Buffy; it was one of those things she was still trying to work through.
“I brought you some blood,” she said, changing the subject, gesturing toward the brown bag on the table.
“Thanks,” Angel replied, looking up at the bag.
“I’m going to have to tell them soon,” Buffy said, digging her fingers into Spike’s soft coat for strength. “The longer I keep this secret, the worse it will be.”
“Soon. Give me another week, at least,” he requested. “I’m stronger, but still not full strength.”
Buffy looked over at him. “Another week, that’s it. We don’t know when you’ll be at full strength.”
“Okay,” he agreed, looking down at his hands. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied stiffly, ruffling Spike’s fur as she began to stand up.
“You’re going so soon?” Angel asked, jumping up to his feet with her.
“Yeah, SATs are coming up and Giles is expecting us for a slay/study double feature,” she explained as she turned to go back out through the garage.
Angel grabbed her upper arm, stopping her, and drawing a louder warning growl from Spike. She turned back around and met his too-close eyes, feeling the too-closeness of him shiver down her spine. “I miss you, Buffy. I … just … I miss talking to you and …” he leaned closer, lowering his mouth towards hers.
Spike’s growl turned into a snarl as Buffy pressed the flat of her hand on Angel’s hard, bare chest. She could feel sparks pulse and tingle against her palm and flutter all the way to her heart, which skipped and skittered in her chest. Just one kiss. One kiss couldn’t hurt, right? Just to feel his arms around her again, feel his strength and his love …
Buffy clenched her jaw and pushed him back, forcing a sad smile onto her lips. “I know,” she said softly. “But that bridge has sailed.”
Angel grimaced at the mixed metaphor, opening his mouth, then closing it again, barely stopping himself from correcting her. He took a deep, unneeded breath and released the hold he had of her arm. “Sorry.”
“Me too,” Buffy whispered as she turned and headed for the door, her hand clasped in the long ruff of the dog that had been her anchor over the long days and nights since she’d killed her love and shattered her soul.
Her heart ached as they walked away, but at least it hadn’t yet turned to stone. She could tell because stone could never hurt this much.
As they stepped out of the garage, she heard Angel cursing furiously from the mansion. “Spike! You fucking ass! My shoes! You pissed in my fucking shoes! I swear to God…!!”
Buffy bit her lip and looked down at the dog reproachfully. He tilted his head, looking back up at her smugly. Spike is a good boi?
Buffy shook her head and rolled her eyes, but snorted out a laugh. “I’m starting to think Angel’s right, we should’ve just named you ‘Evil’,” she chastised as they kept walking.
Spike bumped against her, knocking her stride off to one side. “Yeah, yeah,” she groused good-naturedly. “I love you, too, ya big galoot.”