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Title: A Devil to Kill Summary: Set during Lies My Parents Told Me. Willow performs the spell a little less right this time, with different results. Pairing: Spike/Buffy
Buffy watched as Spike uneasily lowered himself onto the small cot, looking for all the world like he really, really didn't want to be there. Not that she blamed him. Pretty much the entirity of the Scooby Gang, plus a principal, were there to stand witness, huddled like an uneasy crowd in the small space of her basement.
"Is this really necessary?" she asked Giles, for the upteenth time. "Us plus spells usually equal things of the non-good variety."
"It's only a minor incantation," he assured her, though he seemed slightly uneasy himself.
"Don't know what-all you two are getting so skittish about," Spike drawled from his designated spot. "I'm the one being pinned under the bloody microscope."
"I just... I have a bad feeling, okay? Slayer tinglies, woman's intuition, bad turkey sandwich at lunch today... I don't know."
"Great," Spike mock-cheerfully said, rising up and off the cot. "On account of Buffy here's gut, I'm thinking we forestall the mystical mojo and--"
"Spike," Giles sighed. "Sit back down. Xander?"
While Spike grumpily did as told, Xander stepped forward. He grabbed the set of chains hanging off the wall behind Spike, securing them around his wrists.
"No," Xander grumbled to himself. "We couldn't have put these chains back up a week ago. Nah, we gotta work on Spike now, of all the times."
Catching the odd looks from not only Spike, but the rest of the room, Xander backed away. "Nothing."
Buffy watched as Spike's gaze flickered over to Principal Wood, him looking less than thrilled. She knew there was some rift between them, some sort of male territorial thing, but they didn't have time to dance around egos.
"What are you doing here?" Spike asked, self-depricating but still biting. "You came to see the show?"
"I thought you might need support."
"Uh huh," Spike drawled. "Let's just get this over with." His attention shifted back towards Giles, who had settled in front of him. "What're you gonna do? Some hypno-beam? A disarming spell?"
"Not exactly. The First has brainwashed you. There's something in your subconcious that it's using to provoke a violent reaction from you. So," he said, raising a small, polished stone into view. "We have to put this in your brain."
Spike eyed the thing incredulously. "Bugger that!"
"The Prokaryote stone will move within your mind to reveal the root of the trigger's power. It can unleash ideas, images, memories... Hopefully, once you understand what it is that's... setting you off, you can break its hold on you."
"Hopefully?" Dawn spoke up. "So, it might not work?"
This was sounding less and less like a good idea.
"The stone's just a catalyst for the process," Giles explained. "The rest is up to Spike."
"And how do you expect to get that hunk of rubble into my cranium?"
Willow stepped forward with a small, nervous smile, open book in hand. "Okay. I just hope my pronounciation is in the ballpark." With those ever-so-reassuring words, she began chanting. "Kun'ati belek sup'sion. Bok'vata im kele'beshus. Ek'vota mor'osh boota'ke."
The stone still in the palm of Giles hand started to move. It lost some of its solidity, turning almost liquid.
"Oh, you have got to be joking," Spike muttered, watching the thing slither in his general direction. "What now?"
"It has to access the cerebral cortex via the optic nerve."
"Oh, bollocks. With all the rubbish people keep sticking in my head, it's a wonder that there's room for my brain."
"I don't think that it takes up that much space, do you?" Giles retorted dryly.
Spike shot him a dark look in return, but the effect was quickly lost as the stone crawled its way onto his face. It slid into his open eye, quickly sinking from view as it headed for the aforementioned cerebral cortex-y parts of Spike's head.
"Ow," he muttered, shifting uncomfortably. The pain suddenly increased, tenfold, and he grabbed at his head. "Ow. Ow!"
Buffy broke forward on instinct, moving past her watcher to sink onto the cot. "Spike!" she said, pulling his hand away. "Spike, listen to me."
All signs of his struggling stopped as he started to slump to the side. Buffy caught him before he fell over, pulling him upright.
"Okay, that shouldn't have happened," Willow said, of the now unconcious Spike.
"Spike!" Buffy said, shaking him. When he didn't respond, didn't wake up, her worried gaze rose to meet her watcher's. "Giles?"
Giles' own surprised gaze danced over to Willow's, whose eyes darted back down towards Spike in a voiceless response of Don't ask me, I don't know!
"Okay, can we stop playing the current game of stare-tag?" Buffy threw a sideways glance to Giles as she lowered Spike so that he was resting up against the wall. "Is this part of the same spell package?"
"Uh, well... not as far as I can tell." Uncertainity laced his words, doing exactly nothing in easing Buffy's rising anxiety.
"Guys?" she tried again, this time with Slayer-persona present and accounted for.
Willow looked sheepish as she glanced down at the book in her hand. "I think there might've... just a small, uh, tiny glitch in the translation."
"Oops to the degree of? How bad're we talking here, Willow?"
"Okay," Dawn cut in, taking the attention off of Willow and genuinely trying to be helpful. "Fact one: Spike's unconcious. Which, if you think about it, is actually kinda normal."
"So we're not learning anything new," Buffy decided. "Fact two?
"Fact two is that we're dealing with magicks that generate images, illusions," Giles answered. "Any alter in the translation, no matter the enormity, or lack thereof, may result in--in a number of possibilities."
"Like? C'mon, spell it out for Dense Girl here. He's unconcious, Giles. Shouldn't he not be?"
"Well, technically, to the best of my knowledge... no. No, he shouldn't."
"Great," she sighed. "So the arrow is pointing towards bad. What do we do? Do we need to be doing something?"
"I honestly don't know," Giles answered, though somewhat reluctantly. "Willow, she... Well, she--"
"Botched yet another spell," Willow filled in with a slight pout. "I almost ended the world, you'd think I'd be better at this."
"I'm sorry," Principal Wood interjected. He glanced around worriedly. "I don't mean to... imply, but does this sort of thing happen often?"
"Spike unconcious?" Dawn replied, gazing off thoughtfully. "Sadly, yes. Willow spells gone wild? Again, a sad yes. But," she was quick to amend, her appeasing gaze jumping to Willow's, "only a small percentage!"
"A small percentage of the large majority," Buffy muttered.
"Now, now," Xander, voice of logic and I-love-my-friends-equally, cut in. "Before we go gettin' all Salem on Willow and make with the witch-trialing, let's be calm, level-headed adults about this. Yes, the horizons not looking so golden with the sunshiny forecast--bad. And, yes, we learn yet again that magic has consequences--more bad. But call this an older, wiser me, I think it's best we don't jump to any conclusions--"
"Or call on a higher being in a voice of sheer panic," he finished, nodding in the general direction of the previous unconcious vampire. "Spike, my man, welcome back to the land of Happily Conscious."
Buffy immediately let out a deep, relieved breath. "Spike, are you okay?"
He looked absolutely freaked, his wide eyes held on hers for the longest of seconds before abandoning them to look around the room. There was no recognition in his face, no annoyance at being victim to yet another Sunnydale spell gone wrong; nothing there but full-fledged panic. "Who... who are you people?"
"You don't know who we are?" she asked him slowly. She had her own slow filter of panic filling inside, drop by drop like some ancient coffee machine. "Giles, why doesn't he know who we are?"
"Wait, I know this!" Xander blurted. With a look of understanding and triumph, he filled the group in. "This is a Forgetting spell. Alright, where's the shiny rock? We throw it on the ground, I step on it--picture show, picture show--welcome back memories!"
Spike looked less sure, his gaze lowering to his handcuffed hands. The panic look notched up a few degrees in intensity. "If this is an attempt at ransom," he said lowly, scathingly, "you're sorely mistaken. Mother and I won't pay a fool's cent--"
"Ransom?" Xander interrupted. He let out a low, disbelieving laugh. "Someone's counting their self-worth a little high."
"Xander," Buffy warned, annoyed with his less-than-color commentary. She focused again on Spike, lowering her voice. "Do you know who we are? Any of us?"
He shook his head. Slow at first, than harder. "I do not."
"Well what do you know?" Xander asked.
Buffy leaned forward, drawing Spike's attention back to her. "What do you remember, Spike?"
Now he looked flat out confused. "Spike?"
While a nagging sense of dread started to fill Buffy's stomach, Xander took a different, more simple approach. "Spike," he enlightened, "is your name. Questionable, yes, scarily literal, sure, but it's yours. You don't remember, 'cause, well, spells equal bad, but trust me on this. I'd show you a picture ID, but I'm thinking you haven't had one of those in, oh, say... a century plus? Give or take a decade or two."
Buffy clenched her jaw, noticing Spike's rising discomfort. "You're not helping, Xander."
Suddenly, Dawn inched forward. Kept her voice soft. "Spike, I'm Dawn. You remember me, right?"
There was that little flash of panic that lit up behind his eyes, but it was replaced almost instantly with indignation. He sat up, bristling, his hands balled at his sides even as the chains stretched tight. "I've never seen any of you before, I... I don't know why I'm here, or... or how I came to be so--"
Buffy touched his forearm, going for soothing. "Spike, just relax."
He pulled away quickly, face flushing from both embarrassment and anger. "I'm not your Spike! I'm William," he said, desperate for her, for them, to understand. "William Pratt. So, as you can see, you've mistaken me for someone else entirely. Now, if you'll just let me go--"
"Hang on a shiny sec," Xander interrupted, face drawn in confusion. His hamster wheel was a'churning upstairs, the figurative light bulb above his head dimming brightly. "Did he say William? Your name is William? Isn't that... wasn't that Spike of Yore? You know, pre-fangs-and-bumpies?"
"Giles, I think he's right," Buffy said, looking worriedly from her watcher to Spike. It made a whole lot of the sense that was. "What's the last thing you remember, before waking up here?"
"I... I don't know."
"Try to remember," she insisted, her words gentle but forceful.
He spoke slowly, recalling the past events. "I saw Mother... I said goodnight, before retiring up to my room. It was late, I-- I had a long day. I was reading, I must've fallen asleep..." His face turned indignant once more, his upper body bolting upright. "And then you and your gang of delinquents swept in to kidnap me! Did you harm Mother? By God, if you've hurt her--"
"Calm down, Tiny Tim," Xander drawled, "No one touched your mom."
"Or kidnapped you," Buffy added. "Okay, so this is going to sound more than a tad on the crazy side, not to mention incredibly hard to believe, but..." She paused, drawing in a deep, much needed breath. "You're not in your time. This is... God, this is insane, but this is the future."
Xander threw his arms open. "Surprise, it's 2003! Sadly without flying cars and slave robots, but still maintaining a pretty damn serene sense of impressiveness. Uh, George Bush aside," he quickly relented. "But we mostly just blame that on Florida."
Willow stepped forward hesistantly, glaring at Xander before focusing on Spike. "Okay, so that probably didn't make any sense to you. Xander can be a little straight-forward at times. See, there was this spell, all big with the Latin, and me? I'm less about the incantations and more about the drawing inward for--" She noticed his confusion and smiled awkwardly, barrelling on. "Never mind. What I'm trying to say is that you're still you. He's still Spike, guys, he just... instead of Spike tapping into his memory like he was supposed to, we've pulled them out. He just thinks he's William."
Buffy looked over to her watcher. "Giles?"
He merely shrugged, shaking his head. "It does appear to make the most sense."
"Sense," Buffy bit out, snorting. "Great. Can I just say 'I told you so'? Because I did. I warned you all before that this was a bad idea, I said I didn't think we should do it, but did anybody listen? Nooo, and why should they, I'm only the slayer."
Her annoyance was lessened by Spike's incredulous, "Spells?" He let out his own short breath, eyeing them all like they'd suddenly grown a couple of extra heads. "You talk of spells, the future--you're all beyond mad."
"We're not... mad," Buffy insisted, though she could see how such conclusions could be jumped to.
"So, I'm in the future, am I? As this supposed Spike, and yet I have no knowledge of this or any of your spells."
"I don't think you would," Willow ventured. "To you, it's just like you woke up from a long nap and, whoosh, welcome to Crazy Town."
"Again," Xander lectured the group, "the consequences of dabbling in magic. Not always as fun as the books make it out to be. I'm thinking we write long, angry letters to JK Rowling for misleading us all."
"It's impossible," Spike continued, his eyes locked pleadingly on Buffy's. "It's, it's... unheard of, it's preposterous--"
"It's completely true," she countered.
"Completely," Willow agreed. "Sorry."
"But," he sputtered, refusing to believe. "It cant be..."
"And yet," Xander retorted. "It is. Again I say: magic go boom."
"Research, anyone?!" Dawn perked up nervously, filling in the awkward silence that'd begun to settle.
Giles coughed, pulling his eyes away from Spike. He'd been studying him closely, watching him, trying to read if they'd gauged the situation accurately. So far all signs pointed in the positive that they'd had. They'd really, truly brought forth Spike's previous incarnation. It was a hinder to the situation, and yet, at the same time, remarkably unbelievable. "Willow is correct," he eventually said, drawing the attention off of a very tense Spike and over to him. "There's probably just ah, a spell we have to perform, to, uh, draw the stone out--"
"Hang on," Buffy interrupted, standing up. She squared off with her Watcher. "Another spell? I think we've pretty much learned our lesson here. Xander?"
"Spell go bad," he obliged.
"Yes, well, as they tend to do," Giles agreed, somewhat dryly. "Buffy, we can't just leave him like this."
"I know, Giles," she bit out, her distrust in him clearer now than it'd been all evening. "But I don't like the idea of doing another spell." Her head snapped towards Willow, and she frowned apologetically. "No offense."
"No," Willow sighed, shoulders slumping. "I pretty much deserve to be booted off of Spell Survivor. I haven't been this bad in a while."
"C'mon now, that's not true," Xander piped up helpfully. "Last year? Hello apocalyptic mission of magical doom."
She winced. "Right. Thank you. Those daily reminders just keep feeling better."
"As it may be," Giles spoke up. "We're scarce on options. What would you then suggest we do?" he asked Buffy, challenging.
"Research? Hop on the 'net and find out about that rock you used, see if something like this has happened before? Then we go from there."
"Sounds good," Dawn opted, trying to ease the tension in the room. "We good? All in favor of good ol' fashioned Scooby research?"
There were mumbled agreements that Dawn assumed came from the majority of the people in the room.
"I have books upstairs," Giles hesitantly offered. "Probably nothing of use, but it's a start."
"And I've got the laptop," Willow volunteered.
"I've got a hammer," Xander added. "Sorry, I just... that's my one role. I needed something..."
"That's it?" Principal Wood said, as a large portion of the Scoobies had split up and headed towards the upper part of the house. "Shouldn't you talk to him more? I'm sorry, still the new guy here, but this could be a trick, right? The First messing with us all?"
They stopped at that, exchanging genuinely concerned glances.
"No," Buffy said, the one word heavy with conviction. "This isn't the First. Not unless it's gotten desperate."
"Which we can't rule out," the Principal countered, before looking around the room. "Right?"
"Well, no," Giles reluctantly agreed.
"Okay, then. So we're back to him possibly being dangerous."
Buffy took one glance at Spike, who was simply observing them, before turning back to her friends. "He's not dangerous."
"You can't possibly be sure--"
"I am. And even if he was, I'm stronger than him."
"Yeah, but not when the First is playing its favorite role of Puppet Master," Xander countered, suddenly becoming much more interested in this conversation. His voice was low, almost conspirative. "Spike gets a sip of the Firsts brainwashing mojo and he goes homicidal, Buff. Wasn't that the hence for this experimentation-gone-wrong to begin with?"
Buffy sighed. "Guys, please? Just... research?"
"Told you," Dawn muttered, heading up the stairs.
"He starts getting fangy..." Xander warned, staring pointedly at Buffy.
"And I'll remember that he's chained to the wall," Buffy quipped. "But then I'll call for you. You'll be the first one and everything."
"Damn straight," he said, before following after Dawn.
"So, I'm in charge of the laptop," Willow said with a sigh, heading upstairs. "I'm gonna go over the Latin first, see if there's anything there, and then I'll check out the stone."
"I'll join," Giles said, following after her.
"Good," Buffy said. She turned to Principal Wood, who was still lingering about. "I don't know what you're going to do--"
He folded his arms across his chest, body stiff and eyes locked on Spike. "I'll stay."
"Really, you don't have to."
"It's okay," he assured her. "I want to. I've never done this before... interrogate the hostage."
She saw Spike tense out of the corner of her eye, and quickly added "Not a hostage!" She looked at Spike, wide eyes trying to get him to understand. "You're not a hostage." When he didn't say anything, simply stared at her, she turned back to Robin. "I'm thinking this'll work better without the tall, scarily intimidating guy standing watch."
His arms unfolded at that. "Buffy, I'm not going to leave you--"
"Please, can you? Slayer perks mean Slayer powers. I can handle this."
He didn't look pleased, but eventually relented. "Fine. But I'll only be upstairs."
"Which is a good place to be."
She watched him go, though he was hesitant to do so, before turning back to Spike. Or William. Whoever he was supposed to be. When their eyes met, his darted away a second later. She could've sworn he was blushing, but there was the whole he's a vampire so it's physically impossible thing that had her doubting. But he did look extra uncomfortable. Then again, he was chained to her basement wall in a houseful of strangers... some slight discomfort was to be expected.
"Are you okay?" she asked hesitantly.
Well, at least he was honest. She moved to sit at his side, and he watched her do so. Sat close, but not too close to have invaded any personal space. Still, it didn't stop that look of extreme nervousness from flickering across his face again. "I know this isn't exactly fun for you," she offered. "But we're a good team. Plus, our researching? Best on the Hellmouth. We're going to get you back."
"Back to where?"
She sighed. "That's a question for the brainy people upstairs. I'm just the one who hits things. And," she quickly said, noticing his upped discomfort at those really, really great choice of words, "By things I obviously mean... hit-y things. You know, punching bags, uh... other punching bags... pillows! Harmless, hit-y things."
An uncomfortable (surprise, surprise) silence filled the air, the only sounds coming from the various machinery in the basement. Water dripping from still leaking pipes. Muffled voices from those upstairs.
"So," she eventually ventured, aware that this conversation was probably winning awards for most lame. "You're William."
"And you don't know who I am?"
She held back yet another sigh. Getting him to talk was like getting Xander to shut-up... damn near impossible. Plus there was this underlying tension in the room, all awkward and obvious. He kept shifting, kept making these little clearing noises in his throat like he was trying to say something, but didn't know how. Or was backing out of saying the said something completely.
"Why am I here?" he suddenly asked, low and hesitant.
She perked internally at his question, pleased that he was being assertive. Didn't let it show on the outside though, because she knew a big, teethy grin would probably only have him drawing back into himself. "We talking profound, specks on the Earth type 'here'? Or--'here', as in... in my basement?"
He looked a little confused, but answered, "In your company, here... What is it that you want from me?"
Okay, the fact that he said that last little bit and looked absolutely horrified in doing so didn't ease any of her inner-guilt. "Nothing!" she assured him quickly. "We just--there was a spell, like we said earlier, that sorta backfired completely. Like they always do. Spike, he... you..." She broke off in frustration, then tried it again with a little more coherency backing it up. "We were trying to get him to remember some things."
"Spike," he said, a question that wasn't.
"That's a whole completely other story. Very long. Kinda boring. Believe me, it'd just put you right to sleep--"
Was Spike this connect-the-dots before? Because she was pretty sure this version was being a little more intuitive. "Spike is you," she agreed. Buffy wasn't gonna break the news that, hey, congrats, you end up dead in an alley! As a vampire! But she didn't think there was any harm in telling him some things. "Or," she relented, sensing his confusion. "He was you. Or you're him--" She looked at him, smiling apologetically. "There's this whole net of technicalities."
"But you know me as Spike," he plowed on, despite the lameness that was Buffy and her conversation skills.
He looked down at himself. Pulled his hands a little, making the chains rattle, and stared at his arms. At his jeans, the big scuff-marked boots he was wearing. Took it all in, this tiny frown on his face while doing so. "These garments," he started, only briefly catching her eyes before looking elsewhere. "They're not mine."
"No," she agreed.
How he sounded confused, yet completely aware, was beyond her. "Unfortunately," she said, smiling softly. At his look of extra added confusion, she joked, "I've tried to get him to see the miracles of actual color, but he refuses. Black on black, with that extra dose of black."
Spike, or William, frowned. Kept looking down at himself like he didn't trust what he was seeing.
"I'm different," he finally muttered. "This isn't me. I'm not--" His hands shot up to his face, his fingers searching. "I'm not wearing my--" And then they were at his hair, and he ran his hand through the platinum strands.
The normally horrified look that he'd been wearing since this whole ordeal started? Yeah, it just got notched up a few degrees into flat out hysteria. In the blink of an eye, before Buffy could figure out what was up with Spike getting all touchy-feely, he'd bolted to the side, legs scrambling as he tried to escape.
"Spike!" she shouted, grabbing for his arm. He pulled away quick, yelling in response, but she didn't let up. "William! Stop!"
When the realization and rememberance that he was chained hit him, he slumped back against the wall, his chest rising and falling heavily as he took in deep breaths. It suddenly occured to her that he was scared. Not just of the situation, but of her.
"William," she tried.
His eyes squeezed shut. "Don't. Please."
"We're not here to hurt you."
An obvious response to that from the body's normal owner would've been something along the lines of, Then why the need for the extra special bondage, pet? Something that looked and sounded largely like an innuendo. Maybe an amused, Please, like you even could? But this Spike, or William, seemed genuinely concerned. There was no sarcasm, no Big Bad bravado.
"Then, please, let me go. Just let me go."
He looked so utterly defeated, it made her insides twist. "We can't. Spike--"
"Leave me be, then."
It was the pleading way he looked at her that had her rising up and off the cot, shakily putting some distance between them. "Fine. But only because I know you need time... to adjust." She backed away slowly, never taking her eyes off of him. "I'm only going to be upstairs. If you need anything, if you have any questions, if--"
Buffy turned on her heels and all but jogged up the stairs, releasing a shuddering breath when the door was shut behind her.
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