Joyce sighed heavily into the receiver, her breath echoing roughy against his ear. She’d been crying again, he could tell. He hated the thought of her sitting alone in her kitchen, sobbing with worry for her child. For Buffy. And it was that imagery which had finally made up his mind to allow Ethan to help.
“I just can’t stand to think about what she must be going through in there, Rupert. It’s been three weeks now. My baby spent her twentieth birthday in captivity. Or possibly…. How do we know if she’s even- Oh, god…”
“I know, Joyce. Believe me. And I – We are doing everything we can to get buffy back in one piece. She is still alive, I can assure you of that. We’re still able to track her location. It’s her condition that causes me the most concern.”
He recalled the way Spike had looked after… and that had barely been a week. He couldn’t, nor did he want to, imagine what state they’d be in by now.
“Ripper…” Ethan called from the living room in a singsong voice. “Nearly ready in here. Or would you prefer to keep chit chatting with your sweetheart on the telephone all night?”
Damn. He’d really been hoping that this entire conversation could have been avoided.
“It’s help, in a manner of speaking. More of a pain in my ass than anything, I’m afraid. But he can make it much easier to gain access to where Buffy is being kept. And we’re – enlisting further assistance.”
“Did he call you Ripper? That’s not that man who- Oh, do be careful, Rupert.”
“I’ll be fine, Joyce. She’ll be fine. She’s a strong girl.” He wasn’t sure who he was trying to reassure more- her, or himself. “I’ll call you with an update on things, when we know more. Willow and Tara are working on their own project. They should be here tomorrow evening.”
“Okay. Thank you, Rupert. Truly. I don’t know how I’d keep myself together without you.”
“Try to get some rest, Joyce.”
He hung up the receiver and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a quiet sigh. When all of this was said and done, and Buffy was safe, he was going to need a very long vacation from being an unofficial watcher. Somewhere secluded and hard to find with absolutely no phones.
He had Ethan to focus on for now, and his ludicrous suggestion.
Invoke the power of a God of Chaos. Wonderful plan. Absolutely no way it would backfire in some horribly gruesome manner. But Ethan had insisted he’d need the extra juice, and Giles grudgingly believed him. He wasn’t happy about it. Not in the slightest. Ethan even had a gift. A mysterious package he’d had delivered and had immediately stuffed into a pillow case before Giles could get a look at it.
A gift for a chaos god…. He didn’t know what it was, but it couldn’t be pleasant. Especially not with his old “friend” hiding it like that. Surely Ethan would know what boundaries he couldn’t cross if he wanted to leave Sunnydale alive.
There were any number of unsavory things that could be offered up without quite crossing that line, and it would be like him to push it right to the limit. To leave Giles feeling as if he’d sold his very soul to the devil. But if it had a chance to get Buffy back in one piece, he’d risk it. No matter the cost.
Even if it involved Ethan pacing back and forth, checking and rechecking that everything was just so. He seemed less like a powerful magic user summoning a god and more like a lad nervously preparing for his first date.
That was… worrisome. Gods weren’t exactly known for being merciful to humans. But one of chaos… Well, they were called that for a reason. They were indifferent, acted on whims, went and did what they wanted in pursuit of their own pleasures.
Potentially, this could all turn out fine. Highly unlikely, of course. But the ingredients for the summoning spell were already set out on his desk, the candles lit, and the offering…in place. Whatever it happened to be.
“Very well, Ethan,” he said with a sigh, barely resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. Or punch Ethan right in his. “Let’s get this over with so I can get eviscerated already and call it a day.”
Ethan staggered back a step, hand theatrically raised to his heart. “Really, Rupert, you think I’d allow you to be eviscerated? You wound me.”
“I highly doubt that. But I certainly will if you keep dawdling. Now stop faffing about and get on with it already.”
Ethan sighed heavily, but then took up his position to begin the summoning. He raised the statuette of a serpent above his head, and began the spell.
“Loki, hear me,
Loki, God Of Mischief,
What i would do,
To communicate with you,
If you be the fire let me be the wood,
If you be the ice-“
“Let you be the water. Yes, yes. Do you have my offering?”
Giles spun around and came face to face with… well, not at all what he expected. A tall, thin…man? With bright red hair done up Elvira style, wearing a white leotard covered in sequins?
“Ethan, mind explaining to me why you’ve summoned… David Bowie?”
“Evening, gentlemen. My, my, aren’t we a… lively couple of people.” He eyed them up and down, then shrugged. “I normally attract a much younger group. Ah, well. I hope you’ve at least prepared a proper offering. I’ve got this particular craving, you see. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
“Hi…Loki. My Lord! Wow. This is an honor. Truly, such an honor. I must say, huge fan of your work, sir. Ah, the offering. Yes, yes, of course. Forgive me, where are my manners?”
“You haven’t got any.” Giles dead panned. He never thought he’d see Ethan fawning over a deity like this. Prancing around the room trying to be all prim and proper in front of a creature he apparently idolized. Of course. It was the god of chaos, after all. At least the most well known.
Ethan hurriedly reached into his Pillow Case of Horrid Mystery and pulled out… a box of Twinkies. Really? All his soul searching and worry, and the offering was a bloody box of snack cakes?
“That was your important delivery? Twinkies? Honestly, Ethan. You could benefit from a bit less melodrama.”
“Oh, don’t start Rupert. You act like a queen yourself half the time. Here you are, sir, my Lord, Loki.”
Ethan practically tripped over his own feet as he handed it over to… Not David Bowie. The Ziggy Stardust appearance was really throwing him off. He expected… Horns and robes. Maybe some kind of dramatic entrance that involved burning the carpet and ruining any chance of getting the deposit back.
“Excellent. You know, we haven’t got anything like this in Asgard. Bleeding shame, if you ask me. Odin is such a fuddy duddy when he’s on the wagon. But, it does get me out of the palace from time to time. I get to come down here and fraternize with you lovely humans.” He paused, taking a bite of twinkie and expressing his enjoyment of it. “Deee-licious. I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. Have you got any tang? I like to dip them.”
“Ah, unfortunately sir, I wasn’t able to procure any. Ah, but! I could offer you a top shelf scotch perhaps?”
“No, he can’t. It’s not his to offer. Ethan for god’s sake, stop prancing around like a ninny. We didn’t summon him for a chat.”
Loki licked the filling from his fingers, smacking his lips as he did so. Giles could only stare, still trying to wrap his head around Ziggy Stardust standing in his living room. Well, if they’d need a boost of chaotic energy, this definitely qualified.
“This form is obviously distracting you from the matter at hand.” His face shifted and hair darkened, becoming shorter and messy. “Does accountant with sensible shoes work better for you? Good. Now then, for what business have you summoned me?”
Ethan bowed his head, eliciting an eye roll from Loki. “There is a situation at hand, my Lord. I humbly request your assistance with this matter.”
“Huh. And this concerns me because..?”
Giles stepped forward, tired of all the supplication and walking on eggshells. “There’s a government organization performing gruesome experiments on demons. And while that may not concern you, it’s highly concerning to me. What’s your price?”
“Hm.” He sat down on the old arm chair and crossed his legs, tapping a finger to his lips. “Well now, that is concerning, isn’t it?” He thought for a moment, then tilted his head. “Are you aware of the abomination they’ve created? I can feel it.”
“Three fourteen.” Ethan whispered.
Loki nodded. “Indeed. Well, that makes things a little more… Interesting.”
“It can’t be destroyed by human means. Now, I’m willing to take care of that for you, free of charge. You did get me a whole box of lovely sweets, after all. I’ll have some to take home with me. Anything beyond that will cost you.”
He glanced between Giles and Ethan, and a wicked grin spread on his lips. It was extremely unnerving to be looked at that way by a being that could destroy them with a snap of his fingers.
“If I could channel your power, we could resolve the situation easily. Sir.”
“Oh, could you now? And what would you do with it after the fact, hm? Tell me. Nobody summons a trickster God for the sake of good.”
“If he’s lucky enough for me to not kill him once this is over, I would have you take the power back. He’s got enough skill to cause trouble without it.”
“Mm. Very well then. I will be keeping an eye on your exploits though. I hope you don’t disappoint.”
“Name your price.”
“Oh, nothing too steep. A bit of entertainment is all I ask for.”
Great. That could be nearly anything.
“Of course, my Lord. What would bring you pleasure? Anything you ask, it shall be done.”
“I’ll loan you my power. But the deal, as always, must be sealed with a kiss.” At their confused looks, he grinned. “Between the two of you, of course. And none of that innocent cheek pecking, either. Entertainment. I’ll give you until midnight. Any later, and the deal is off. Oh, and Ethan, since I can tell you’re dying to ask, I will absolutely read your fanfiction. Even the ones about me and Svadilfari…. Maybe especially those. He is hung like a horse after all.” He winked and grinned. “Ta, gentlemen.”
He disappeared in a cloud of black smoke, leaving Giles flabbergasted. They could have Buffy, safe and sound and… the cost was for him to… With Ethan. It had been years since he’d even allowed himself to think about it. He’d told himself never again.
Loki truly was a mischievous entity.
“Just like old times then, Ripper?” Ethan stepped into his personal space, and Giles was twenty years old again. Nervous and inexperienced and shy and… Quite entranced by the man in front of him.
“Don’t… don’t call me that.” He protested weakly.
This was the cost of business. The cost of Buffy’s safety. Possibly her life. And it was just a kiss. Nothing more. So why was his stomach making flips and trying to lodge itself in his throat?
Ethan backed him up, guiding him until his back hit the wall. “What shall I call you, then? Hmm?”
Lips pressed to his throat while hands splayed across his chest and began to roam. Giles closed his eyes and tilted his head back on instinct, giving Ethan better access to that spot just –there.
“Sweetheart? Or perhaps…”
“Oh, just stop talking already and-”
Finally. He’d been dying for a fight since they’d shoved that bloody chip into his brain, and now… Well, now he was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Slayer, ready to take out some frustrations. He could already feel the thrill building. This was going to be fun.
“Right then, Slayer. Time for you to fly.”
He didn’t give her time to think about it, and her body didn’t need it. Grabbing her hands, he swung her up and forward, her feet flying out to meet the incoming demon. Then he let go, and she was off, letting loose a perfectly coordinated flurry of blows. God, she could dance, couldn’t she?
He missed that.
No time to admire her, though. He had his own big and ugly to deal with, though that didn’t stop him from stealing glances whenever he could. It felt so good to hit something again, and he knew she could feel it too. He could smell it. Made his mouth water. He couldn’t wait to get her back to their cell and –
Focus on the fight, you ponce.
“That’s all ya got, ya big bitch?” He let out a laugh as he dodged another punch, jumping back and bouncing on his feet before springing back in to deliver a few hits of his own. “Come on!”
The bloody beastie was a strong one, wasn’t it? Another laugh bubbled up out of Spike, adrenaline rushing through his body with the vampire version of circulation. The harder they hit, the more intensely they fought, the more he enjoyed it .
The Slayer snap kicked her demon into his, and they pummeled them with blows from either side. It really wasn’t even a fair fight. Just good exercise. The demons were still holding their own, but it was only a matter of time.
A hiss, and two axes dropped from the ceiling, landing with a clatter a few feet away.
Well, well. Looky there.
They both made a dive for the weapons. He managed to grab one and rolled into a stand, but she wasn’t so lucky. She’d been thrown sideways, hitting the wall with a crack.
As much as his instincts told him to go help her, he couldn’t. He had his own opponent to deal with, and she could handle herself. He turned his back on her, facing down with the demon.
He went back on the offense, swinging the ax with abandon, hoping to connect with literally any body part. Then he smelled it. Blood. Her blood. Thick in the air. He unleashed a flurry of swipes with the axe, giving himself a chance to glance back over his shoulder. She had a hand clutched to her stomach, and the demon was advancing on her.
Balls. Hold on, Slayer, I’m coming for you.
With a brutal hit, he buried the blade in the demon’s chest, but it barely slowed him down. Fine then. Head it was. He brought it down again, connecting with neck. Green slime shot out, which usually meant a severed artery. Good enough.
Buffy was wrestling for the weapon, smashing it into the demon’s face and wrenching the ax away. At least she wasn’t dead yet, but she needed help. He started running. She swung wide, slicing open the demon’s torso. It let out a roar, not stopping the assault. It barreled at her, ready to tackle just as Spike clutched him in an iron grip and held on for all he was worth.
She brought the blade down hard, hitting her mark. Spike let him fall to the floor, still gurgling as he bled out.
She was hurt. He’d let her get hurt.
His vampire visage melted away as he closed the distance between them and did a quick look over. Blood soaked her shirt and pants. There was a huge tear in the material, as wide as she was. Bruises were already popping up here and there.
Oh, hell. “How bad is it, pet?” He already knew, as he reached for the hem of her shirt, intending to check how deep it was.
And she flinched.
He didn’t know why that pissed him off so much, but it did. Or why it hurt. She didn’t want him to touch her now? When he was trying to help her? She didn’t mind all the touching the night before. Didn’t mind cuddling up to him. Until somebody else was watching. Right. That’s what it was, then. They still had spectators.
She couldn’t be seen accepting help from him. Fine. Let her bleed out, then. At least he’d be able to lap her blood up without the stupid chip firing.
“Right. Forgot. Enemies.” He growled the last word at her, reveling at the face she made, internal hurt mixed with the belly wound. “Should have just let him kill you. Least I’d have a decent meal.”
He looked up at the glorified hall monitor, who was watching the entire scene play out next to that sadistic bitch.
“Done here. Can we go-“
“Spike…” She touched his arm from behind with blood coated fingers.
“That’s not – I didn’t mean…”
He didn’t want an explanation. He didn’t want the ache of rejection in his chest. Didn’t want her soft looks and reassurances. Didn’t want to want them.
“It… it hurts. I didn’t…” She took a deep breath and blew it out, her hand going back to her stomach. “It’s bad…”
Her voice wavered on the last word, making his stomach sink. Before he had a chance to find out exactly how bad, a dart hit him in the back. A second hit her arm, and he struggled to catch her before she hit the ground. He let himself sink with her, draping her across his lap.
“We’ll get you fixed up. Don’t worry, Slayer.”
He pulled her shirt up, finally getting a look at her wound.
It’s just a graze. A big, ugly graze. She’ll live. Stay with me, Slayer. Bollocks.
She was already out, her heartbeat slowing. He could feel the drugs starting to affect him, too, but he held out.
He cradled her body against his as the doors opened up and the soldiers came in, led by the wanker who’d the hots for his Slayer. Surrounded by the enemy, and the Slayer was…. Shallow breaths, and that slowing heartbeat. They’d pumped her full of so many drugs by this point, and she was wounded.
A low growl escaped him, and his fangs descended, the bones in his face shifting as he brought the demon forward. God help him, this was not the end.
It wasn’t over. Not yet.
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