The Gentleman Wore Leather –
The Gentleman Takes His Leave –
The Gentleman Leaves Again....
Just a reminder that this is a very AU universe by this point, so there will be some events that diverge from canon. More and more so as these meetings go on and this Sunnydale becomes more and more different from canon Sunnydale. If that bothers you....
The Gentleman Returns
Spike threw another butt to the ground, adding to the growing pile under the tree he was lurking behind. Between the alcohol he’d consumed in past several days, and the hunger now that he was back in Sunnydale where Buffy wouldn’t appreciate it if he started feeding, he wasn’t at his best. With a curse, he pushed off from the tree and went to the back door of the house. He could see Buffy’s mother in the kitchen, puttering around as if looking for something to do until her daughter was safely home.
“Can’t be much fun, being the Slayer’s mum,” he muttered to himself. “Much as I worry about her, I can’t even imagine what her mum goes through every night. The Slayer must have clued her in to what she does by now.”
He raised his hand and rapped lightly on the door – not really sure if he wanted her to hear him or not. But she did, and approached with a slight frown. The porch light was on, and he knew she could see him. Suddenly very conscious of how he must look, he ran a hand through his messy hair, trying in vain to push the curls down, and standing up a little straighter.
“Yes?” Joyce had opened the door only far enough to talk, keeping the chain in place. Spike gave a snort at the idea that such a small chain could have kept even a human man out, never mind a determined demon or vampire with an invitation. Which he didn’t have.
“Sorry to bother you, Mrs. Summers. I was looking for Buffy, but I can’t find her and thought I’d check if she was home.”
“Are you a friend of Buffy’s?” Her voice and expression as she took in his appearance showed exactly how unlikely she found that idea.
“We know each other,” he responded, his expression as noncommittal as his words. “The Slayer and I have—”
“The Slayer? You know what she is?” Joyce visibly relaxed, her expression softening.
“Do. It’s why I know her. It being her job to.... Never mind that. Do you know where she is?”
Joyce’s expression darkened. “No,” she said tersely. “I rarely know where she is. Or how she is. Or who... or what...she’s—” Her eyes squeezed shut briefly “No. I don’t know,” she finished.
“Must be a bit rough, being the Slayer’s mum.” He gave her a small sympathetic smile as he voiced his earlier thought.
“You have no idea,” Joyce sighed, seeming to soften even more toward the rough looking, but soft spoken, young man with the sympathetic eyes. “I suppose she could be with that horrible Angel. She pays no attention when I tell her he’s much too old for her.” She frowned when Spike turned away to hide his snarl, but relaxed when he turn back after a few seconds.
“Sorry, Mrs. Thought I heard something in the yard, but I guess not.” He took a deep breath and added so softly she almost didn’t hear him, “Guess they got that bloody soul back into him, then.”
Although he hadn’t phrased it as a question, or even looked in her direction, Joyce responded, “How did you...? And yes, I’m told that he has a soul again – whatever the hell that means.”
“Not as much as she’d like to think,” Spike muttered as Joyce continued on.
“I still don’t like him, and I still think Buffy can do better than a... a—” She paused to study Spike’s face for any sign he wouldn’t know what she was talking about. “—a vampire. You do know that she kills vampires, don’t you?”
“That I do,” he responded with a grin that quickly faded. “I reckon if she and the big poof are all lovey-dovey again, there’s not much point in.... I’ll just be going. Was in the area and thought I’d see how she was doing, but it sounds like she’s alright. Even if her taste in men hasn’t improved any over the last time I was here,” he finished, not quite quietly enough for Joyce not to hear him.
“Well, anyone who agrees with me about Angel can’t be all bad. Can I offer you something warm to drink before you leave? There’s a bit of a chill in the air tonight.” She shivered. “I’d ask you in, but Buffy has been very insistent that I not allow anyone in the house after dark unless she is here, so I guess I shouldn’t—”
“No, Mrs. You shouldn’t. I’ll be just fine out here. I thank you for the offer though.”
“I was just about to make myself some hot chocolate. Would you like a cup before you go?”
He stared at her in amazement, then smiled. “I’d love one. I’ll just take myself out into the yard and have a fag while I wait.” He stepped off the porch, reaching for his cigarettes. Joyce left the door slightly ajar, chain still on, as she quickly finished making the cocoa she’d just been starting when he knocked. When she was done and had filled two mugs with hot chocolate and small marshmallows, she lifted the chain off and walked out onto the porch.
Spike was back at her side so quickly it made her frown, but she relaxed again when he said, “You didn’t need to come out here. Slayer wouldn’t like that.” He took the mug from her and grinned his delight when he saw the marshmallows. “I love little marshmallows,” he said, taking a sip. “How did you know, you brilliant woman?”
“You just look like the marshmallow type, I guess,” she said, blushing slightly at his praise. She sat down on the top step and gestured for him to join her. He cocked his head at her, then shook it and sat down.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Joyce said when he didn’t speak.
“Was just thinking about my... girlfriend...” he said. “And why I came running back here.”
“Oh? Is there a problem with your girlfriend?”
“There was, but I think I may try to fix it. No reason for me not to, it seems.” His expression wasn’t as neutral as he’d hoped, and he gave her a wry smile when her eyes widened and she gave a little gasp. Neither of them mentioned Buffy or Angel.
“That might be best,” she agreed without acknowledging the unspoken undercurrent.
After they’d sipped the hot liquid in comfortable silence for several minutes, he set his mug down. “Would you do me a favor, Mrs. Summers?”
“Please, call me Joyce. I’m not that much older than you are.”
He gave a small chuckle. “Wouldn’t be so sure of that, Joyce, but alright. I’m William, but you can call me Spike. ‘S what your daughter calls me.”
“How do you know Buffy, William–er–Spike? Have we met before?”
“Not exactly.” He didn’t elaborate, but went back to his original question. “If you’d do me a favor... just tell Buffy to be careful around her birthday, if you would. When is that, anyway?”
Joyce frowned. “It’s in January. Be careful how?”
“If she starts feeling sick, or weak, tell her not to patrol. And ask that wanker of a watcher of hers to.... never mind. Just don’t let her go out around that time if she’s not feeling 100%.” He reached in his pocket and scribbled a number on the inside of a matchbook. “If she starts to feel like she’s losing her powers, call me at this number. You can just leave a message if I don’t answer. Just say ‘it’s happenin’ and I’ll—”
“Just say what’s happening? What aren’t you telling me?” He heard her heart rate go up and the impending panic in her voice.
“Ask her watcher about the Cruciamentum. Can you remember that? Maybe if he knows you know, he won’t.... But he’s a watcher, and they’re wankers, so....”
“You’re scaring me. And what has Rupert–Mr. Giles– got to do with it?”
“Nothing, I hope. But if I’m here, I’ll make sure of it. Just call me. Please.”
Spike tipped up his mug and drained it, then handed it to Joyce and stood up, staring out into the yard with a frown.
“Go in the house, Joyce,” he said, suddenly looking nothing like the pleasant company he’d been so far. “Now. Go in and stay in.” He gave her a tight smile as she began to protest but moved toward the door. “And just so you know? That advice about not invitin’ in anybody you don’t know after dark, should’ve included not going outside to chat with him, either.”
She went into the kitchen, turning to face him. “I was with you. I was safe, wasn’t I?”
“You were,” he said, as he began moving across the yard. “And you always will be. But you didn’t know that.” He threw a look over his shoulder just as his face shifted. “Close the door. You don’t want to see this.”
As she gasped and started to obey, she saw him leap into the midst of a group of what she recognized as vampires. Holding onto the door with one hand, she watched him tear through the snarling creatures, not stopping until they were all either on the ground or gone. From what Buffy’d told her about what happened to the vampires she staked, she realized that Spike had apparently managed to kill most of them. She was still staring at him when he turned back to look at the house. It was too dark for her to see his face, but the eyes staring back at her were not the soft blue ones she’d been looking into, but feral-looking and yellow reflecting the porch light.
He raised his hand once, then disappeared into the darkness.
Buffy returned home to find Joyce sitting in the living room with a glass of Scotch and tightly clenched lips.
“Mom? Are you all right?”
“I would be much better if I hadn’t spent the evening talking to what was apparently another vampire you are acquainted with. One who left me a cryptic warning about your birthday, serious doubts about Mr. Giles, and who single-handedly destroyed a gang of vampires in our backyard.”
Buffy blinked several times, then gasped. “Spike? Spike was here? And you let him in?” Buffy’s voice had gone up to painful levels.
Joyce shook her head. “He told me not to. Let him in, I mean. But why is he worried you might lose your powers on your birthday? And what would Rupert have to do with it?”
“I don’t know, Mom, but I’ll ask Giles about it tomorrow.” She frowned and glanced around. “So you didn’t let him in, then? How did you talk to him? And why didn’t he wait for me to get home?”
“I talked to him out on the porch—” At Buffy’s rolled eyes, she huffed. “You never said I couldn’t go out on my own porch in the dark. I didn’t know he was a vampire, and he seemed quite nice, if a bit rough around the edges...”
“Mom. That was....” She shook her head. “Never mind. I can’t explain Spike. I don’t even want to try. Did he say why he was here?”
“No, but he changed his mind about waiting for you when I told him you were still seeing that other vampire.” Buffy sighed at Joyce’s refusal to use Angel’s name. Her interactions with Angelus had forever tainted her view of what she tried very hard not to identify as Buffy’s boyfriend. “He’s had a fight with his girlfriend and was looking for sympathy, I think. But when he left, he said he knew how to make up with her, so I guess that will be all right. He was really quite pleasant most of the time, but when he got so insistent that you needed to be careful around your birthday, and—Do you know what a Cruet... Crucifi... something that begins with Cruci is? He said to ask Rupert about it.”
“I’ll ask him tomorrow. We’ve got lots of time before my birthday. What does he think is going to happen?”
“He just said I should tell him if you begin to feel weak or sick. That’s all I know. Except that it seems you have at least two of these creatures in your life and I’m fairly certain I don’t know how or why.”
Buffy sighed and sank onto the couch. “I don’t know why either, Mom. But it seems like I do. Have them, I mean. Aside from being my boyfriend—” Buffy paused for Joyce’s usual tight-jawed snort. “—Angel is supposed to be helping me with my Slayer stuff, but mostly all he does is talk about prophecies and crap like that. And the other one is....” She shook her head. “The other one actually does help... or he has before, anyway.”
“Aren’t there any nice boys at your high school?” Joyce muttered as she took another big gulp from her glass. “Nice normal, human boys? Without fangs?”
Buffy laughed and stood up. “I’m sure there are, Mom. But they probably aren’t interested in girls who are stronger than they are. And who aren’t available for dates because they’re out getting demon guts and slime all over their clothes. Speaking of which....” She gestured at her sweatshirt. “I’m going to get out of these clothes and go to bed now.”
“Goodnight, honey. I’ll see you in the morning.”
The conversation with Giles didn’t go well.
“So, Giles, what do you know about something called a Crooked Momentum or something like that? And what does if have to do with my birthday?”
She watched closely as his face paled and he began to stammer. “Wha—what has Angel been telling you?”
“Angel? Nothing.” She frowned. If there was something she needed to know, why hadn’t Angel said anything?
*note to self – ask Angel what he knows about it*
“What’s more important is what should he have been telling me?”
“Then how did you... ah, I guess it doesn’t matter how, it’s all right then. It’s nothing for you to worry about. It’s an old custom to... congratulate... a slayer on her 18th birthday. Sort of a birthday celebration, if you will. “
“So the Council is going to throw me a party? For my birthday?” She snorted in disbelief. A sudden thought occurred to her. “Do I get to retire? Do I not have to be the Slayer anymore? Is that what it’s about?”
Giles shut his eyes briefly, but Buffy had seen the pain flash across his face. “One certainly hopes that is not the case,” he said softly. “But one never knows... for sure.” He shook himself and added in a more normal tone, “Please don’t concern yourself with it right now. Let’s worry about it later. Your birthday is still some months away.”
“So there is something to worry about?”
“We’ll discuss it later.” His relief at seeing Xander and Willow burst through the door was painfully obvious.
“Damn right we will.” Buffy glared at him, but he refused to acknowledge her remark.
“So, Giles isn’t spilling anything except it’s something the Council is doing on my birthday. You’re old. Do you know what it is?”
Angel got even paler than his normal hasn’t-seen-the-sun-in-200-years pallor.
“You aren’t supposed to know about that. At least, I’m pretty sure you aren’t. He could probably get fired if he tells you about it.”
“So you do know what it is?”
“Well, yeah. All vamps know about it eventually. Maybe really young ones don’t... but they’re the kind that find out the hard way...”
“When the slayer stakes or beheads them.”
“So I have to stake a vamp? How is that different from what I do every night?”
“I’m not sure.” As Angel spoke, he turned away so she couldn’t see his face, and she wondered if he was lying to her. “But it’s probably no big deal. I’ve no idea why Giles can’t just tell you that on your birthday you have to stake a vampire that the Council has selected. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’m not worried. I just don’t get why it’s such a big secret. If they do it for all slayers when they get to be eighteen, why aren’t we told about it?”
“Buffy, most slayers don’t live to be eighteen.”
His voice was sad and resigned as reminded her of something she’d chosen to ignore, and there was just a hint of reproach in it. As if she shouldn’t have reached that age. She remembered how he’d calmly accepted the prophecy that said the Master was going to kill her.
But that was then, this was now.
“Well, yeah,” she agreed, giving him one of her best smiles. “But most slayers don’t have awesomely strong and old vampire boyfriends to help them out.”
His shocked expression mirrored her own as he said, “Buffy, this is your Cruciamentum. I can’t interfere! You have to do it yourself. That’s how it’s done.”
“Is this like that stupid prophecy again? When you couldn’t help me against the Master because some stupid book said I had to die?”
“Buffy, things have to be done the way they’ve always been done. That’s how it is. A Slayer faces her Cruciamentum vampire all by herself.”
She stared at him, eyes wide open, then shook her head. “Okay. Thanks for the information, Angel.” She turned to leave, surprised when he pulled her into a brief hug.
“I thought maybe we’d do something tonight? Maybe watch a movie, or do some tai chi?” His big brown eyes pleaded with her to stay.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Angel,” she said, shrugging out of his loose embrace.
He recoiled immediately. “I didn’t mean anything by it, Buffy. I mean, if anybody knows that we can’t... I shouldn’t.... I just wanted to spend some time with you.” He gave her a sheepish smile. “I wasn’t thinking about anything soul-threatening. I promise.”
“Neither was I,” she replied without more explanation. “Gotta go. See you later.”