Something Gray by pfeifferpack
Summary: Buffy and the Scoobies enter the world of college and work and begin to see that nothing is quite black and white and much of what we are taught has flaws.
Categories: General Fics Characters: None
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 16 Completed: Yes Word count: 55762 Read: 19798 Published: 10/02/2007 Updated: 10/02/2007
Chapters 1 - 3 by pfeifferpack
Author's Notes:
Early chapters are short and I will post those in clumps to make for ease in reading.

This tale is set in S4. Yes, it is Spuffy, but in keeping with the idea of new beginnings, it has a slow build, beginning with the internal life of the characters. If you are expecting a quick Spuffy fix, you might be disappointed, although your patience will be rewarded if you stick with it. There are 26 chapters.

One of the many lovely things about the world Joss and ME created was the use of metaphor, especially in the first three seasons. They took us through the high school years using their own special supernatural devices to deal with things we all experienced.

Season 4 was a perfect set up to continue that form of storytelling. The college years are the time when we re-evaluate all we have been taught up thus far. We experience the world and its people for ourselves, unfiltered. We experiment and challenge and grow. In the end we become our own selves. The Initiative, with humans at the helm and demons as their experiments, the introduction of a chipped vampire and a Slayer apart from the Council and its control were a perfect avenue to explore those parts of our lives in the same metaphor as the previous three seasons. At some point, for reasons I will never understand, they changed course and made it about Adam, a Frankenstein monster, instead of Buffy trudging into those gray areas of her world and grappling with the issues they presented.

In this story I am attempting to tell S4 in a way that might have continued the progression begun by ME in seasons 1–3. There is no Adam in my story, even though I do use canon here and there in the telling of it.

Hope you enjoy my submission of this alternate season 4.
Setting: Begins after S4 episode “Beer Bad” and goes completely AU after “Something Blue”

Disclaimer: All rights to the characters and setting of Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon, ME, WB, Fox, and other legally affiliated organizations and individuals. No profit is being made with this work of fiction based on their characters.

~*~

Chapter 1

~*~

Buffy awoke to the mother of all hangovers and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach that she really didn’t want to know all that had happened to get her into this condition. She slowly cracked open one eye and flinched as a small amount of light from the open curtains hit her full force. "Damn, now I know how vampires feel with those sunlight issues!” she groaned into her pillow.

"Hey, Ayla, how ya doin’?" Willow asked, her face beaming even brighter than the sunlight.

"Ay who? God, please tell me the demon that did this is dead and dismembered." Buffy held her head, desperate to hold together all the little pieces that insisted they wanted to fly off in all directions.

"Ayla. You know…‘Clan of the Cave Bear’?" Willow could see that Buffy was clueless, so she tried to explain. "You drank some magic home brew and went all 20 million B.C. on us. It was kinda cute, except for the fires and the grunting and your taste in men…. Oh, and the vandalism was of the bad too. I’m not too sure the maintenance people are going to love you for having to repaint our room to get rid of the petroglyphs, but, hey, I told them you were really into archeology studies and they didn’t report it. Also on the ‘yay Buffy’ side, you did knock Parker unconscious."

Buffy fell over and buried her head under the pillow again in embarrassment. "Will, remind me that Tab is my friend and beer is made by evil demons, okay? I don’t even want to see one of those commercials with the cute guys drinking the foamy. I didn’t kill Parker, did I?" Buffy’s face had a tiny flash of hopefulness that gave Willow pause.

"Nope. The jerk will live to seduce another day. He may think twice about who he picks though, ‘cause I kinda psyched him out earlier, before you beaned his noggin." Willow smiled in solidarity. "I told him off pretty good, let me tell you. I gave him the full Rosenberg talkin’ to."

"You know, so far college and Buffy are turning out to be majorly non-mixy. I almost get whupped by a skanky vamp-ho and lose my protecto-brella. Professors are snarkier than the demons I kill, but I can’t kill them, even if they do throw me out of class. At least I don’t think so, I’ll have to ask Giles. My first roommate gave a whole new meaning to demon fighting and my first non-dead boyfriend should be dead. And that’s just the highlights! My first frat party since the whole snake thing with Cordelia turned into the Twilight Zone and what’s with Anya’s bunny costume anyway? I don’t know what was worse: her bad Easter Bunny imitation or having to see Giles in a sombrero. Guuuuhhhh," Buffy shivered in memory. "I think someone up there is trying to tell me to give up on higher education."

"It hasn’t all been bad, Buff; it just takes some adjusting is all. You’ll be College Buffy in no time, trust me. This will be millions of times better than high school was, you’ll see." Willow was having trouble seeing it from Buffy’s point of view because the redhead was born for the college life.

"High school’s followed me here, Will. Harmony--Vampire Harmony, if you can believe it! Is it just me? I can’t wrap my mind around Harmony and Spike as a couple. No wonder he almost let me dust him when we fought over the Gem of Amara! If Harmony’s the best he can do and his last girlfriend was Dru, he must be suicidal!” Buffy looked horrified for a moment as she envisioned her night of alcohol-induced wildness. “Spike didn’t get a front seat at the ‘Buffy Goes Cavegirl’ show, did he?" For some reason that Buffy couldn’t quite explain, she fervently hoped the annoying vampire hadn’t seen her in yet another humiliating situation. The whole Parker brush-off thing was bad enough. Spike had already used that ammunition to wound.

"Nope. Oz said he ran into Spike in L.A., literally ran into him. Spike was trying to get the ring back from Angel but messed it up. Angel got rid of the ring, so it’s safe. I don’t know if Spike came back to Sunnydale or not. He’s probably off jamming bottles in other girl’s faces far away even now." She still got the willies at the memory of the drunken vampire and his kidnapping of her the year before.

"Seems like a waste of a neat power. Angel could have been safe and even gotten a suntan. He’d look so good on the beach in a Speedo." Buffy’s eyes glazed over in lust at the mental picture.

"True, but then if he had TOO good a time, Angelus would be the Speedo-wearing murderer of fish and teachers, and we’d have a big problem!" Willow pointed out the one major flaw in Buffy’s gift giving.

"What is my problem, Willow? I mean, Angel was the love of my life and our problems made Romeo and Juliet look like a summer fling! I finally go normal with Parker and manage to pick the biggest jerk on campus. I’m doomed! Buffy and college, no mixy. Buffy and boyfriends, no mixy either. I should become a nun. A demon-fighting, kick-ass nun." Buffy pulled the pillow back over her head again and wailed in misery over her fate.

"No, Buffy, no! You just haven’t met the right guy yet. I mean, I got lucky and met the right guy first thing with Oz and…and even if I can’t talk about stupid music equipment like slutty hypnotic singers with weird names like Veruca…um…never mind. Oz happens to be my just right guy, that’s all I mean. I know you thought that was Angel for you, but there’s somebody out there that’s really your Mr. Right. Angel was great and I know you love him, but if it were the perfect match, he would still be here, no matter what some old mean gypsy cursed him with. There’s someone just perfect for you, who’ll really understand you and make you feel complete. You just have to be willing to see him when he shows up, that’s all. Parker was a poophead. He was your rebound guy. Rebound done now, so you can find the real thing."

No one could say Willow wasn’t a cheerleader in her own way.

~*~

Chapter 2

~*~

"Buggering poof! Bad enough the great souled wonder gets the ring I found, but then he has to smash it and make it so no one gets the goodies. If that idiot Slayer had only kept it, I could have just stolen it back from her." Spike was pacing as he lamented his ill fortune.

"Boo-boo, don’t be upset. At least Buffy didn’t dust you and you got to torture Angel, so be happy! I even forgave you for staking me, so it’s all just water over the bridge or something." Harmony was getting tired of her lover’s obsession with all things not Harmony.

"That’s ‘under’, pet.” Spike frowned in irritation at another example of Harmony’s lack of mental skills. “Yeah, well, I’m thinkin’ ‘bout movin’ out, findin’ a place of my own. You and me, Harm? Just not workin’ out. You’re a right fine-lookin’ lady, but that’s all there is, you know. Need some time alone to figure what I want to do now. All my plans were gonna need that gem. Gotta think things out and I can’t do that with you yammering day and night. Why don’t you just take some of those pretties we found and go on to Paris since you’re so hot to do that, yeah?"

"Really, Spikey?! You’d let me take some of the jewels? I could shop the designers right off the runway. Do you think Chanel is too old a look for me?" Harmony was already envisioning her new wardrobe.

"Huh?" Spike had not been paying the slightest attention to his nearly ex-girlfriend. "Yeah, you do that, luv. You and Paris’ll be a match made in hell. Go scourge Europe your own way, Harm."

"Maybe Bernie or Brian or whatever his name is will want to go too, do you think? You didn’t dust him when you found the Gem did you? He always kinda liked me, I think." Harmony was already planning the trip in her mind.

"Yeah, you do that. Bye-bye. Have a good time. Don’t bother to write." Spike had to admit a feeling of relief to be seeing an end to this short affair. He would never have picked up the ditzy new vampire if he hadn’t wanted to prove Dru wrong. He did NOT have a thing for the Slayer. Okay, he did want to kill her, bite her, drain her maybe…but he was not lusting after the killer blonde with the bad puns.

"Do you want me to dress up like Buffy so you can fuck me silly one last time for old times’ sake?” Harmony offered.

~*~

Chapter 3

~*~

Spike had decided the best way to prove once and for all that Dru was talking from her madness and not her internal psychic network where the Slayer was concerned was to just kill the blonde bitch.

Yeah, he’d tried that before, but not with real determination. He’d let himself get sidetracked. He should have taken her out that first night there in the alley. Instead, he’d played with her. She’d hypnotized him with her dance and he wanted to watch a bit more of her, see if she fought like she danced. She had, too. Never saw anyone move like her!

He should have just tossed her mum across the room and drained her that next time. As if some soccer mom with an axe could really stand in his way! But no, he had to make the dance last a while longer and look what it got him.

So many times he’d had her right where his fangs could just plunge in and drink her dry. He felt his cock twitch at the thought of plunging other parts of him into the Slayer…and not her neck either. "Damn it, Dru, it’s your fault. You put these sick ideas in my head with your going on about me wantin’ the slayer. I never would have thought about her that way if you didn’t keep harpin’ on it. That and you screwing every demon and vamp from here to Brazil to make me pay for helpin’ against your precious daddy. Bitch!

"Had you dead to rights, Slayer, when I had my pretty invincibility ring. You weren’t even puttin’ up a decent fight. Then I had to piss you off with that stuff about Angel and the hellcat was loose. Love the way those green eyes flash when the bitch is pissed, though. Gave me a right whuppin’ too. Be dust if that entrance to the underground hadn’t been there." Spike smiled in remembrance of their last fight.

He had decided to watch the slayer on patrol and wait for the best opening to finally get the job done. He’d planned to stalk her the night before but had been too busy moving into his new place. Lots of choice locations available. Vamps and demons were going missing at a rate too high to be just the Slayer and her trusty stake.

Oh well, tonight would be soon enough. "First, I finish off the Slayer, and then I find Dru and show her the kind of vamp she threw away. Both bitches’ll pay."

~*~

"I’m telling you, there are these guys like from an Arnie movie and they’re getting in my way! Look, if the Council has decided to go high tech and replace me, fine. I could use the break to do some school work." Buffy was complaining to her Watcher about the commandos that had suddenly popped up everywhere Buffy was trying to patrol.

"The demon and vamp population is kinda scarce lately. Something is really not right with this, Giles. Also, I think there’s another werewolf besides Oz in town. My psych professor said she was attacked by a couple of big dogs and Oz would have been in lockdown. Those soldiers kept me from getting to the non-local in time." Buffy pouted a bit at having her patrol go so wrong.

"Yes, we will need to find out just who these soldiers are and what their mission is. It isn’t the Council, Buffy. Even though you no longer work for them, they are quite content to allow you to fulfill your calling as an independent agent. I don’t see them sending over a wet works team to do your job while you are still doing it quite well." Giles massaged his head to stave off the impending headache caused by these unknown commandos.

"Willow is weirded out, worrying about Oz with these guys everywhere. I don’t blame her, but I think he’ll be safe in his lockdown. These soldier guys seem more interested in the big bads that are out and about, not chained up. Guess I’d better do that patrol then. There might be a fledge or something these guys missed." Buffy grabbed a couple of stakes and headed out of her Watcher’s apartment and another slow night of fulfilling her calling.

~*~

Spike stood on the hill overlooking the college grounds. The Slayer was playing with a fairly young vamp, making dreadful puns and insulting the overmatched creature of the night.

Fine, if she wanted a challenge, the Big Bad was back and she’d rue the day she came on his radar. "Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the fates that way. ‘Cause the Big Bad is back, and this time, it’s…ARGHHHHHHHHH!” Spike writhed on the ground from the taser blast that caught him mid-snark.
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