Written for the 2014 Circle of Friends Remix
Author: M. Scott Eiland
Summary: After a vivid nightmare, Spike discovers that he wasn't its only audience.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Time Frame: late season seven—Willow and Kennedy are an item, Spike is chip-free. Occasional random spoilers for up to that point.
Rating: T, for themes
Disclaimer: Still not mine—all hail Joss and the other Powers That Own the Buffyverse.
Original Story: "Blood and Chocolate" by http://dragonyphoenix.livejournal.com/
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE (THE POST-STAKING REMIX)
Spike snapped into a sitting position, gasping for breath he didn't need and looking wildly around him until he was able to orient himself to his surroundings. He was in Buffy's basement on the cot, the only light in the room coming from a small lamp in the opposite corner. He was alone, allowing him to gather his wits after what had been an unusually intense dream, even by the standards of his long association with Dru and his time with Buffy.
Where in the bloody hell had that come from? Oh, letting that idiot Andrew talk him into that silly role-playing game hadn't been a great idea, and he knew full well that blood and chocolate was a dangerous brew as far as hoping for a sound sleep went. . .but he hadn't directed that sort of thought at Red since-- He chuckled ruefully and shook his head.
“You seem rather pleased with yourself.” Spike's head snapped around toward the stairs and he saw Kennedy standing there, glaring at him with an intensity that wasn't quite Buffy-like but was impressive in its own right.
Spike felt a moment of primal fear, then remembered that Kennedy wasn't the Slayer who had effortlessly used superior strength to stake him in the nightmare, and that he was no longer suffering from the annoying little chip in his head. He cocked an eyebrow at the Potential and replied, “And what if I am? Don't see what business it is of yours—and shouldn't you be keeping Red's bed warm?”
Kennedy scowled and replied, “I was doing just that—until a dream woke me up. A dream involving you seducing my girlfriend and me introducing you to a pointy wooden object. Ring a bell?”
Spike had a first-rate poker face—good enough to let him hold his own against some of the best players in the world in cash games back before his obsession with Buffy had left him without funds or time for such pursuits—but Kennedy's matter of fact accusation made him flinch before he adopted a blank expression, and her glare intensified. Spike blinked, then muttered, “Bugger.” He looked over at the Potential and met her gaze without flinching again as he commented, “I'm not the expert Rupert is on Slayer-lore, but I'm pretty sure you aren't supposed to be having Slayer dreams until you stop being a Potential.”
Kennedy shrugged, “Didn't start until a few months ago, when the bastards started trying to kill us. Giles thinks it's from The First throwing power around, or a hidden survival instinct that some Potentials have even before being called, maybe to stop something like what The First is trying to do.” She snorted and added, “And right now I don't really care why I'm getting dreams that are telling me that the vampire in the basement is having thoughts about screwing my girlfriend—I'm too preoccupied at being pissed off by it.”
Spike nodded, “Understandable,” He reached for a cigarette and lit it up while Kennedy stared at him in growing irritation, and took a long drag before commenting, “You know, it might occur to you that the dream in question was a nightmare for me and not take it so bloody personally. You never had a dream about shagging someone that horrified you when your eyes opened?”
“Plenty,” admitted Kennedy, walking down the stairs and going to lean against the wall opposite where Spike was sitting. “But none of those was a Slayer dream, much less one shared with a vampire. I'm still new to even the economy version of Slayer abilities, but I'm thinking I should pay attention—maybe I should talk to Giles or Buffy about this--”
Spike sighed. “Wait.” Kennedy paused on her way to the stairs, and Spike looked at her with the most earnest expression he could muster and added, “Look—there was a time when I might have had an interest in Red that way, and I think you caught an echo of it. How about I tell you about it, and set your mind to ease? Given that I don't think me saying 'I have no plans to try to shag your girlfriend' is going to impress you right now.”
Kennedy studied the vampire minutely. She had taken the time to read up on Spike's history once she was aware of his presence in the Summers home, and she had asked Giles and Buffy a substantial number of questions to fill in the gaps. She knew that he had a history of being a notoriously effective manipulator against anyone who dropped their guard against him. After a moment, she settled down into a chair that was next to her, leaning back and feeling the shape of the stake she kept on her belt. She nodded and replied, “All right then—I'm listening. If I get the feeling you're trying to sell me a bill of goods, I'm walking out and getting Giles—and if you come at me I won't bother to try to fight you. I'll just scream my head off while I still have a throat to do it with.”
Spike smiled and nodded in approval, “Smart girl. Then again, Red wouldn't have much interest in a dumb one.” Kennedy frowned at him, and he smirked, “Not flattery, luv. Even Droopy Boy is a lot brighter than most give him credit for, and Wolf Boy and Tara were both as sharp as tacks, though they both hid it in their own ways.”
Kennedy's expression went blank, and Spike shook his head and commented, “You're not going to last very long if you lose your composure every time one of her exes names comes up—it's not like she has much use for blokes these days.”
Kennedy scowled at him and snapped, “You got a problem with that?”
“It would be a bit inconvenient if I was still interested, but I'm a vampire, luv—most sexual hangups really aren't a problem for us.” He was grateful when Kennedy seemed to accept that answer and not follow up on the “most” caveat—some memories were still unpleasant after well over a century. He decided to cut to the chase: “You know the story of how I first came here after Buffy set up shop?”
Kennedy nodded. “A few months after she staked the Master. You showed up with Drusilla and ended up taking over from the existing boss.”
Spike snorted, “The Anointed One, they called him. More like The Ignited One when I threw him into a cage and hoisted him until he kissed sunlight. Good times.” He took another drag from his cigarette and continued, “Mostly saw Buffy during those early days, along with my nancy boy grandsire. Then my plan to save Dru got me laid up, and the whole thing with Angelus making a return appearance made a right mess of things.”
Kennedy shivered, “Yeah, I heard about that.”
Spike nodded, and continued, “That was actually when I first heard about Red—Angelus had plans for her. She seemed so harmless at the time, so helpless—just the sort of victim he loved. Lucky for her that he liked to mess with heads before going for the kill—bloody lunatic came in one night bragging about having killed all of Red's goldfish. I wonder if she was thinking about those goldfish when she cast that soul curse and sent big bad Angelus back into his cage.”
Kennedy was silent, and Spike took another drag before smirking and commenting, “I heard about a lot of this later, of course—I was too busy fleeing for my life and dragging Dru along with me. She didn't take that well and I wound up back in Sunnydale a few months later, single and drunk as hell. Found out Red was a witch and grabbed her and Droopy Boy trying to get a love spell out of her. Didn't work out, but I was impressed by what I saw—she kept her cool better than a lot of demon hunters twice her age and with five times her experience would have. If she'd been a little more experienced I probably would have been dust.” He smiled at a memory and added, “So after a couple of more visits to Sunnydale and liking what I saw of her, I showed up at her dorm room one night and decided to make her an offer she couldn't refuse—only to have my plans for the evening called off by that bloody chip in my head.” He shook his head ruefully and concluded, “That was a break—failing, not having a chip put in my head—turning Red would have been a big mistake.”
Kennedy frowned, puzzled at Spike's wording enough to distract her from the natural reaction to being told that by someone that they had plotted to murder her girlfriend and turn her into an undead monster. Spike noted the reaction and elaborated, “No, it's not the soul talking. It's just that it would have been a waste.”
“A waste?” Part of Kennedy knew that the reaction she was having was borderline crazy, but she was unable to avoid blurting out the next sentence: “You think she'd have been a weak vampire?”
Spike carefully put out the cigarette in the nearby ashtray, then started laughing. He continued long enough for Kennedy to start scowling again before suggesting, “Ask Rupert or Droopy Boy what kind of vampire they think Red would have been. You'll hear quite the tale.” Kennedy's eyes widened in dismay, and Spike continued, “No, it's just that being turned would have lost some of her better qualities, the ones that developed as she got older. Not long after that night she met Tara and started getting serious about the whole witch thing—it didn't take long for her to get dangerous. She became powerful and confident, and when that Glory bitch was bouncing Buffy around like a tetherball it was Willow who managed to hurt her first, then got her off-balance enough for Buffy to finish her before--”
“It's all right, Spike.” Kennedy saw the torment on the vampire's face, and while she didn't walk over to him, the compassion was naked in her tone as she added, “I know what happened next—you don't need to talk about it.” Willow had only discussed Buffy's death with her once, and her haunted expression as she told the tale was etched indelibly in Kennedy's memory, and she knew from the story that Spike had taken it as hard as any of them.
Spike managed a wistful smile, then replied, “Thanks, but I need to get through this, and you need to hear it to understand.” He stood up and walked over to the basement window, looking up at the dark glass as he continued, “We were all affected by what happened, but there was no time to mourn. Glory dying bought us some time, but not much—and we were looking at a Hellmouth that would keep drawing vampires and every other nasty around. Everyone there had their own ways to fight—hell, the little nibblet would have been there with us if we hadn't forbidden it, and that wouldn't have lasted forever if Buffy hadn't come back and we knew it. But Buffy had been the center that held things together and made them a team, and even adding a bit of muscle on my end wasn't going to solve that problem. Rupert would have tried, but the spirit had gone out of him—and they weren't about to follow me into the field and they'd have been damned fools if they did. Someone had to step into the role that Buffy had left open—and that's where Red came in.”
Kennedy smiled, and Spike nodded and continued, “She was a natural. She used her powers to coordinate attacks and keep an eye on things—and if things got really rough she was our ace in the hole: firepower that causes a hellgod pain tends to be overkill on most run of the mill demons.” He looked back at Kennedy and commented, “I've lived a long time, and seen a lot of leaders: human and demon. Red had the potential to be the best I'd ever seen. Which ended up being a problem.”
Kennedy felt a chill—she knew where this was going. “She talked them into helping to bring Buffy back.”
Spike nodded tersely. “She knew them well enough to know the ones who should be left out. Rupert would have tried to stop her, and I would have fought to the death to stop them from doing what needed to be done if things went wrong and they brought back a monster with Buffy's face.” Kennedy stared, and Spike snorted and commented, “Do you really think a soulless vampire is the nastiest thing that could be let loose on this world? Anya used to be a vengeance demon who had once been a human—they have souls, and those souls drive them to atrocities that would make Angelus shudder. Buffy soulless or with a corrupted soul would be far more dangerous than that, and I would have stood at her side and helped her burn the world to ashes, if that's what she had wanted. Red was sensible enough to know that even as she made reckless plans, and ruthless enough to be willing to put her best friend down if it was needed.”
“But it worked.” Kennedy struggled to push away the dread that Spike's harsh assessment of what had happened had instilled in her. “They brought Buffy back and no one died that night.”
“Yeah, they did.” Kennedy had never heard a voice sound like Spike's did in that moment—it was a mixture of regret and joy and utmost pain. “Problem was—Red learned the wrong lessons from it. Deep down, she's a control freak—oh, she means well by it. . .but you know the old saying about what the road to hell is paved with, right? She had just rolled the dice with the dark powers and brought her best friend back from what she thought was horrible torment as her reward—why in the hell would she doubt whether her instincts were right about anything after that? Rupert got back and scolded her for having taking such incredible risks, and she dismissed his concerns and directed veiled threats at him when he persisted.” He shook his head, as if to chase away the memories, and added, “When things started going wrong, she kept using magic to try to make the problems go away, and when that didn't help and Tara left her out of a sense of betrayal, she spiraled out of control. It took almost getting Dawn killed to snap her out of it, and give her credit, she did her damnedest to straighten up. She gave up magic completely for a while, even at times when some of us were begging her to use it to get us out of a mess.”
“Until Tara died.” Kennedy knew this story, too, though it had taken long hours with Dawn and a quiet evening with Xander on watch to get the full picture.
“Tara was. . .loved by everyone in their group.” Kennedy noted that Spike did not claim to share that feeling, but she also noted that there was a quiver in his own voice that did not suggest he viewed the matter impersonally as the vampire continued: “Any one of them could have snapped and gone after that bastard Warren with intent to kill—but Willow had already revisited her powers with a vengeance in trying to save Tara, and absorbing the dark magic at the shop was the last straw. She became an avatar of vengeance and death in that moment, and Warren was no more than a speed bump to her after that.”
Kennedy shook her head, remembering what the others had told her about the aftermath. “It's hard to believe that she came back from that, no matter how much help she had.”
“Never underestimate the power of a yellow crayon.” Willow's voice came from the stairs, and they turned to see her standing there, watching them with a thoughtful expression. “I woke up and you weren't there any more, so I followed the voices.”
Kennedy shrugged, and told a half-truth: “I couldn't sleep, and I felt like talking to someone—I had a feeling Spike would be awake.”
Willow nodded and replied, “That makes sense. Why don't you come back to bed? I'll be along as soon as I ask Spike about something.”
Spike tensed, though he noticed that Willow seemed calm. Kennedy nodded and headed upstairs and Spike called out, “Did that explanation work for you?”
Kennedy paused, then nodded once and replied, “Night, Spike.” She headed up the stairs without a further word, leaving Spike and Willow alone.
Spike began to open his mouth and was interrupted: “Gay now, Spike.” Spike blinked at that, and Willow smirked slightly and added, “But not immune to a compliment, even if it was a vaguely dark and disturbing one out of a vampire's nightmare.”
Spike stared and snapped, “Is there anyone in this house who doesn't have balcony seats to my bloody nightmares?”
“Since Buffy hasn't come storming down here to yell at you for your subconscious perving on me, I'm assuming that there aren't any others. I was probably only there due to being close to her while she had the dream and being an involved party.” Willow walked down the stairs and stood next to Spike as she added, “Thanks for setting her mind at ease, and for trying to give her some insights—there are some things she hadn't asked me yet.”
Spike shrugged and replied, “Couldn't have her running off and telling tales to Buffy or Rupert, could we? Besides, she has a right to know what she's getting into.”
Willow nodded, and turned to go. Spike's eyes fell on her as she left: she was wearing a dark green nightgown, made of very thin fabric that left very little to the imagination. . .
“Spike? Isn't this what woke us all up to begin with?” Spike blinked and noted that Willow was watching him with a playful, amused expression. He was opening his mouth to protest his innocence when she spoke again: “Shush.” He complied, and Willow shook her head briefly and whispered “Bored now,” before heading up the stairs.
Spike shivered a little at Willow's last words and muttered, “Better you than me, Kennedy.” He reached for his cigarettes again, hoping that a smoke or two would let him relax enough to sleep.
Remixer's Comments: A good drabble can be an excellent starting point for a longer story as either a sequel or a remix, and I was pleased to take the opportunity here, doubly so because I had never really used Kennedy as a character before.
As always, comments are welcomed and desired.