She knew this feeling all too well. The way her body felt heavy and sluggish. The headache and dry mouth. Sedatives, again. She’d just about had it with people thinking it was okay to inject her with whatever drugs they wanted. Whoever had done it was in for a world of hurt once the effects wore off. Until then, she was going to just sit there with her eyes closed and pretend to still be unconscious.
Her thoughts went to Faith. How had she done that? The thing on her hand, and that weird glow, and then… They’d switched bodies. Well, good. I hope she likes that stupid pinch in my stomach that refuses to go away. And I hope she likes not being as strong as she should be. Have fun, bitch. In the meantime… Faith’s body actually felt pretty healthy. Good to know the local hospital did a great job with their comatose patients. No malnourishment or anything. That would almost be a nice change, if it weren’t for the circumstances.
She’d just have to make the best of a bad situation.
With the headache receding and her muscles feeling a bit less like lead, she opened her eyes and took in the situation. She was in the back of a vehicle. A big transport truck, by the looks of it. And chained up. Captive, once again. A momentary wave of panic washed over her, followed by a near instantaneous calm. It was just chains. This wasn’t a highly guarded demon prison. There weren’t a ton of heavily armed soldiers between her and the outside world. No electrified glass door. And she wasn’t in a damaged, broken down body that was still recovering from that ordeal. She was the damn Slayer, and she was not about to be a prisoner again. And after everything that had happened, she also wasn’t about to let herself get killed.
“Well, it’s awake.” a snide, distinctly British voice preceded the appearance of a balding man with too much five o’clock shadow. He climbed into the back on the truck with her and crouched down, far too close for comfort. Not that she had much of that at all at the moment, what with the being chained up and all.
“Who are you?” she spat, with as much vitriol as she could muster.
“Council. We’re taking you back to the mother country. Seems you’ve been a naughty girl.”
The way he said naughty was disgustingly suggestive, and came with a leer. She was fed up with it. All of it. The constant eyes on her. The hands. Poking and prodding and boundaries being crossed by humans. Enough feeling helpless and trapped for the last three months of her life. Had enough being drugged, too. She’d give them one chance, just one, to listen to reason. After that, whatever happened was on them, and not her. She was absolutely not going to England to stand trial for a murder she didn’t commit. They’d either kill her or lock her in a cell until she died. Probably the first, so that a new Slayer could be called. Dying now was not an option.
“You’ve made a mistake. I’m not Faith. She switched our bodies!” she pleaded, but knew it was pointless when she looked at his face. He didn’t care. He wasn’t going to listen.
Another man approached, but didn’t come into the back of the truck. Clearly he was a little bit smarter than Mr. Snidely. He had more hair, but an equally receding line. Balding must’ve been a requirement to be part of the council. Even Giles had it. The man looked her over with disgust, then smirked.
“Congratulations. Noone’s ever tried that one on me before. Doesn’t matter who you are. What you are is a package, and I deliver the package. I don’t much care what’s inside.” He crossed his arms, and nodded to Snidely, “come on.” He walked away, leaving her alone with the snide dick again.
“He may not care, but I do. The council used to mean something. Then you perverted it. Trash. We should’ve killed you while you were still asleep.”
Of all the most disrespectful things that had ever been done to her- and that list had some contenders on it- having somebody actually spit on her had to be right at the top. She’d been kidnapped, experimented on, had implants shoved under her skin. She’d been betrayed by friends, lovers, family. She’d been blamed for things she didn’t do. And as the phlegm he’d spat in her face dripped off, something in her snapped.
He was a killer. He didn’t care if she was a human, or if she’d actually done anything. The council gave him an order, and he was going to follow it. And take pleasure in it. Like somebody else she knew. There was a gun holstered on his side beneath his jacket, not even clipped into place. Chains tended to be a lot less resistant to bullets than they were to brute strength. She locked eyes with him, and smirked.
“You’re right. You should have.”
She didn’t bother holding back one iota of her strength when she threw the kick that broke his nose, and she didn’t give him time to react before she lunged forward and grabbed the gun. Two shots, and her chains were free from the bolt that held them in place. Then she trained the gun on him- her would be murderer. She knew she wasn’t a great shot, but with only a few feet of distance between them, she didn’t exactly need to be. She was getting out of there, and she was going home. Again.
“Keys,” she ordered, but he must not have heard her over all the pained moaning he was doing about his bloody nose. She kicked him again, with slightly less force, to get his attention. “Keys, now!”
Mr. Package ran into view with his own gun drawn, aimed up at her. She lifted, made a guess, and squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit him in the shoulder, and he screamed in agony. Score one for Slayer aptitude for weapons.
“Ahh, you bitch!”
“Get on the ground. Drop the gun. Now. the next one isn’t a warning.” He pursed his lips, but didn’t argue. He tossed his gun out of sight, and lowered to his knees. She took a few steps forward, pausing to throw another kick to the spitter’s ribs. “Fairly certain I told you to give me the keys to the cuffs.”
He handed them up to her with a grunt, and she snatched them. “You’re not getting away with this. They’ll keep coming until you’re dead.” The cuffs fell to the floor in front of him and he looked up, glaring at her.
She kicked him one last time, knocking him out. A few steps, and she dropped down to the concrete floor before training the gun back on the wounded man. A third appeared, hands in the air and taking cautious steps toward them.
“Look, nobody needs to die today, right?”
“Oh, really? Not what your sleeping friend in there said. In the truck, now. Both of you.”
Both men hesitated, glancing at each other. “Or I can just shoot you and leave your bodies for the next guys to find. Your choice.”
They grudgingly climbed into the truck, and she locked the first set of doors behind them.
“For the record, If I really was Faith, you wouldn’t have gotten a choice. All three of you would be dead.”
She slammed the second set of doors, whipped the keys as far away as she could, and left the gun on the table on her way out the door. They’d get out eventually, but maybe they’d be smart enough to not come after her again. And if they did… Well, that was their own stupidity. She’d given them a chance. This was as nice as she got.
She still had to deal with Faith, who was out there in her body, doing who knew what with whoever she wanted. The thought was sickening. That was her body, and she’d only just got control of it back, only for it to be snatched away from her again. But every spell could be reversed, if you knew what the spell was and the right kind of people. They could be switched back, she knew it. She just needed a little help, that was all.
Obviously the Council was absolutely useless when it came to catching a Slayer, and literally every other time they ever could have been of any service. The only person Buffy knew that was strong enough to help her, and would actually believe her, was Spike. So, off to Restfield I go.
If having a hot, writhing Slayer in his lap giving him permission to bite her wasn’t enough to drive him over the edge and make him lose control, then run of the mill humans merely existing wasn’t either. He’d had a chance to feed on the most delectable woman he’d ever had the pleasure of tasting, and he hadn’t done it. He’d maintained composure, and done what was right, and he hadn’t even considered taking a bite out of Harris after she’d left.
He didn’t attack anybody on the walk back to his crypt, and – so far – he hadn’t caught himself doing any kind of hunting activities. No people watching, no following potential victims. He had control over it, and it bolstered his confidence in himself even more. He was simply back at the Bronze for the ambiance.
All things considered, he was doing far better than he’d expected himself to. And he knew, there would come a time when he would slip up, make the wrong call, and she’d get pissed at him. But hopefully by then, she’d be head over heels for him, and maybe be a bit more understanding that things happen. As long as he wasn’t going out on a killing spree, he’d at least have the chance to prove himself to her again. As many times as it took, until she finally understood. Until she knew without a doubt that what he felt for her was real, and that he would never intentionally do anything to cause her pain.
Course, he’d have to work up the courage to actually tell her how he felt before she could judge if it were real or not. And as confident as he was with not eating people, it had been a hell of a long time since he’d had to confess his love to a woman. Only a century or so, and it hadn’t exactly gone well. It had been the catalyst to him being given new life though, which had eventually led him to Buffy. Flowery William swelled at the poetic possibilities of such a love story. Spike pushed him back down into the recesses of his mind where he belonged.
Plenty of time later to sit and ponder and agonize and write god awful poems that he’d never share. Tonight was a celebration of success. And maybe, if he were extremely lucky, Buffy would be back and they could continue where they’d left off the night before. He’d meant to offer to walk her home, but had gotten tripped up on his own words. So she’d left without him, and he’d watched her go, hating that he was letting her out of his sight yet again. But the Slayer was a strong woman, and she didn’t need him hovering over her. At least she knew where to find him if she felt the need to seek him out.
He really hoped she would. She’d said she’d see him around, even after what had happened between them. That was a good sign, right? She wasn’t revolted by him. She didn’t stake him. She’d even shunned her annoying friends when they interrupted. Told them to sod right off, which had been glorious to witness, really. She’d wanted more from him. Needed him, for something only he could give her. And that feeling… god, he wanted it again. He’d do whatever it took to stay in her good graces. And maybe he’d get another chance, if the scent he’d caught was any indication.
Or maybe not.
The instant he spotted her, he could tell something was off, and not in the same way it had been the night before. He didn’t know how he knew it, but… He knew Buffy. Maybe it was the months of incarceration together, or all the time he’d spent studying her every move when he’d still been hell bent on ending her life. The thing making that body move was not Buffy. However it had happened, something had got the jump on her and made itself a new home in her skin. He slipped into the shadows where he could avoid detection, and watched.
Watched the way she walked, the way she danced. Watched her flirt with anything on two legs, which really would have stung if it were actually her in there. Watched her pounding down beer after beer, until her cheeks were flushed and she was swaying a bit too much to the music. She moved differently. Her stride, and the way she held herself. Her dancing was uncoordinated, lacked rhythm. Yeah, somebody else was definitely behind the wheel. She might make certain body parts stand at attention, but the hair on the back of his neck was not supposed to be one of those things.
He was terrified of her. Of what she represented.
She was raw, and predatory, and not in a remotely sexy way. She’d had a similar air about her the night before. Want, have. She’d wanted him, and he’d let her have a small taste. Not anywhere near what she’d been in the mood for. But now… there was that take feel to her, and he didn’t want to be anywhere near her. He didn’t want to find out exactly how strong she was, or what happened when somebody with Slayer strength was denied something that they wanted, and they didn’t care what they had to do to get it. Because something told him that she would, without a doubt, take it from him.
So he watched, from a safe distance, with a straight line to the back door in case he felt the need to run. And he was content to stay far away from her, right up until the damned Scoobies showed up again, with extras on their sides. Harris had brought along Anya, and Willow had a friend with her. He couldn’t very well just… stupid morality. He had to at least scope out the situation. Real Buffy wouldn’t be very happy if her friends got murdered by somebody who hijacked her body, and he let it happen. Even if she was brassed off at them right now, she wouldn’t be forever. He crept close enough to listen in on them, clinging to the shadows and hoping he was hidden enough to not draw attention.
She’d splayed herself on one of the couches along the wall, beer in hand and one foot up on a table. If Spike had had any doubt before that it wasn’t Buffy, seeing her sitting like that would have been indication enough. She had too much prim and proper about her to ever sit like that, and she certainly wasn’t a beer drinker. At least, she didn’t strike him as one.
“Look,” the imposter sighed angrily, “I don’t see how it’s any of your business who I kiss and who I don’t, who I take to bed. None of that is anybody else’s business. Where do you get off judging me? Like, I have literally saved the world. I died. You remember that?”
“Well yeah, but Buffy… This is Spike we’re talking about here. And Giles told us about the chip, after you guys left that night. He’s not safe. He can feed, he can kill. Doesn’t that make you worry a little bit about what you’re doing with him?”
Spike had to hold himself back. Willow was really one to talk about dating somebody who could kill. Especially a werewolf, who had absolutely no control over his changes.
“Well, he’s not? So I really don’t get what the big deal here is? Angel could’ve been killing too, even when he did have a soul. That doesn’t stop you from killing. And I didn’t hear anything about not kissing him, so why am I hearing about it now?”
“All we’re saying is-”
She slammed her beer down on the table, breaking the bottle in her hand.
“Well, stop saying it! You don’t get a say in this. If he gets fangy on somebody, he’s dust. Until then, worry about your own relationships.”
You know, maybe he didn’t have to kill her after all. Whoever it was in there was actually making some good points to the Scoobs. Points that Buffy herself, no matter how pissed she was at them, would probably never be brave enough to make. But as far as those idiots were concerned, it was coming out of her mouth. Seeing as she wasn’t picking up the shards of glass and slitting throats, he figured she probably wasn’t going to be killing the hypocrites any time soon, if at all. He had time to get this figured out and set things to rights.
First things first, he’d need to find Buffy, and figure out how this had happened. Bodies didn’t get taken by accident. There had to have been a ritual or a spell or something. This was intentional. A vendetta, by somebody familiar enough with Buffy’s friends to interact with them almost normally. They knew what Buffy was. Knew the power that came with the package, and what they could do with it. Who it was didn’t matter. They’d get what was coming to them, after they were out of her body and back into their own.
As for the getting her back in her own body…The whole ‘take my word for it’ approach hadn’t gone over so well last time, so he’d need some proof she actually needed help. He wasn’t risking Giles brandishing a stake at him at the door and calling him a liar again. The problem with that though… he had no idea what she looked like.
He slipped out the back door, heading for the safest place he had to formulate a plan. She obviously wasn’t at the Bronze, and she wouldn’t be at home with mum either. He’d have to check in on Joyce on the way to his crypt, make sure she was still alive and well. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if anything happened to her. It was bad enough that all this was his fault for not walking Buffy home to begin with. Twice now he’d let her out of his sight, and twice she’d been blindsided. Couldn’t imagine how it must feel to have her own body snatched away from her, after all they went through in that place.
Joyce was, thankfully, just fine, and he breathed a sigh of relief before finishing the trek home. Except, it seemed, that wasn’t the safest place either. Goosebumps raised on his skin as he approached his crypt, putting him on guard. An unfamiliar scent in the air, still fresh enough that he didn’t have to try to suss it out. And somehow, it felt familiar. He couldn’t quite place it. He didn’t know this person, whoever it was, but that scent was unmistakable. A Slayer. He wrenched the door open, readying himself for a fight, then caught himself.
There was a doe eyed bint with long hair, sitting on the sarcophagus, waiting. No weapons. No fists flying. The instant he stepped inside, he already knew. It was her. Buffy.
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