New Fic: Midwinter Plunge
Word Count: 3,300
Characters: Spike, “Doyle”, Faith, various bystanders. Any pairings are off-screen, but Spike/Buffy-ish.
Prompt: Spike, Doyle or Faith, Hot Chocolate
Summary: Spike catches a chill while helping the helpless in Angel S5, more or less circa Soul Purpose. Faith knows just how to warm him up.
Doyle grabbed a beer from the cooler and held it out to Spike who shook his head and took a pull from his flask instead. It’s not like it ever got deathly cold in LA, but they were sitting in the bed of Doyle’s crappy pickup on the longest night of the year in an unsheltered parking lot by the beach — adding piss-poor, ice-cold American beer to the mix didn’t appeal.
“What are we doing out here, mate? Couldn’t we lie in wait inside?” He gestured toward the Pacific Palisades Plunge building looming at the other end of the parking lot. “Sit in the cab, at the very least?”
“And here I thought you’d enjoy putting all those preternatural vampire sensory skills to use,” said Doyle with an exaggerated shake of his shaggy head.
“What I’d enjoy is a nice cuppa and a pretty girl to talk to. What I got is the cold night air and an annoying git claims he knows when the nasties’ll come out. Been sitting here for more ‘n an hour and the most evil thing I’ve caught is a noseful of your wind.”
Doyle laughed. “You suck at stakeouts, man.”
“You’re a damn sight worse at visions.”
“Alright, maybe my timing was off…”
“…but do you want to just take off and leave the sacrificial virgin of the week to his or her dire fate?”
“Quit yer bitchin’ then.” Doyle took another sip of beer, and then gestured with his bottle toward a small group, dressed all in white, moving down the beach and making for the darkened building. He lowered his voice. “Think this is it?”
Spike switched to vamp face to get a better look. After a moment, he silently eased over the edge of the truck bed, gesturing for Doyle to follow. Doyle tossed him a beach towel, then slung another over his own shoulder. He handed the cooler down and jumped over the tailgate. He took one handle, Spike the other, and they began stumbling toward the entrance, ignoring the procession that was slipping in ahead of them.
Spike began to sing. “Oh did these feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s mountains green…”
“You and your limey dirges!” objected Doyle. “You’re in America now, buddy. You’re gonna have to learn the stateside classics.”
“What? Some twaddle about trucks, trains, cowboys, mama, or prison? Don’t think so.”
They were still arguing when they entered the pool building.
Nine men in white robes turned to look at them. Well, they weren’t precisely men, but except for being covered with scales there wasn’t a lot of difference. Three young women in diaphanous white gowns halted, but did not turn around.
“The facilities are closed to the public,” intoned one of the men.
“Private party, is it? Don’t mind us. We’ll just do our laps and be out of your gills in no time.”
The fish man pulled a trident out from under his robe and brandished it threateningly, a gesture made less intimidating by his mouth opening and closing like a large goldfish. Spike refrained from laughing outright. Ichthynols weren’t the toughest demons, but anybody could get in a lucky shot.
Spike rolled his eyes and disarmed the guy with a flick of his towel, putting down his end of the cooler in time to catch the haft of the trident as it arced through the air. He briefly inspected the tines and handed it off to Doyle with a shrug.
“Listen, Mr. Limpet, no need to get agro. Just let the girls go and we can all get back to our regularly scheduled fish fry, alright?”
With a wet cry, three of the robed Ichthynols rushed him, but they were clearly not warriors. Spike pivoted to the side and stuck out a booted foot as the first neared, tripping him, causing the second to fall headlong over the first. The third walked into an uppercut, and lay flopping on the ground.
The trident-less leader of the group stood with his eyes bulging out a bit more than they had before.
“You dare? You are interfering with the annual sacred observance of our people. We have a permit! Yet, you attack the devout clerics of our order. I demand an explanation.”
“Oh. Well. If you have a permit,” Spike drawled. Behind him, Doyle snorted. “I was just helping the helpless here, minding my own business, when your ‘holy men’ attacked me, not the other way round.” He paused to check that the three on the ground were staying there. They were, all the while eyeing Doyle who held the trident angled straight at them with deceptive casualness.
“So, we gonna do this? Let the pretty little damsels go, there’s a good Flounder.”
“Who you calling ‘damsel’, Blondie?” asked a familiar voice.
The women finally turned, whirling into fighting stances. Slayers all. Front and center was a familiar face. Doe eyes, holier-than-thou smirk...
She jerked her chin at him in greeting before turning her attention to the leader of the Ichthynols. Behind him, Doyle had time to mutter, “Oh, sh…” before the fight really began. Several Ichthynols hurried to restrain the girls. Just as Spike took a step to join the fight, he was tackled from behind. He stumbled forward a step before throwing off the Ichthynols, looking around for Doyle, but there was no sign of him, and no blood that he could smell. Shrugging, he dove in and took down two of the demons with a punch to each throat. He was chasing down the third, when the leader landed in a heap just in front of him. Tripping, he found himself flying through the air, straight for the pool.
He felt a sharp jerk impede his progress, but his momentum carried him through. He twisted out of his coat and fell, arse first, in the water. He scrambled up immediately, standing in the shallow end, water up to his hips, thoroughly soaked. His coat was dangling from Faith’s grasp. She stared at it in confusion for a couple of seconds, turning it this way and that before noticing him dripping like a Labrador in the shallow end. She him a good once over, quite a trick in the middle of a fight. He stuck out his tongue at her. She barked out a laugh and tossed his duster aside before turning to punch out the lights of one of the few Ichthynols still in the fight.
Spike waded over to the edge and heaved himself out of the water while the girls finished up. One of them got slapped with a fin when she allowed herself to be distracted by the man in the wet t-shirt. He scooped up his coat and held it out, away from the leather-damaging drips cascading off him. It seemed okay. Boots squelching, he walked over to the demon leader who was fussing over a detached fin.
“Just so you know, you won’t be getting any more permits, right?”
“Our attorneys…” started the leader.
“…have just voided your contract. Wolfram & Hart has a new business plan these days, or so I’m told. Doesn’t include human sacrifice. Might be time to swim on home to your own dimension.”
He rummaged through the coat’s inside pockets and produced a sealed envelope. He dropped it at the demon’s flippery feet.
“Charles T. Tuna? You’ve been served.”
Spike stalked over to a metal bench against the wall and dropped onto it. He laid his duster beside him and started to undo his boots, fingers fumbling a bit with the wet laces. Faith thumped down next to him.
“Looking pretty spry for a dead guy,” she noted.
“Been dead a long time. Still pretty.”
“I noticed. Still, word was you were deader than usual. Didn’t take, huh?”
He turned one of the boots upside down and watched the water run out. He sighed and proceeded to take off his socks, wringing them out with a vicious twist, and laying them out on the bench beside him.
“Does it ever?” he asked, twisting his head to look at her.
She shrugged. “Yeah. Sometimes. Lost a few in the Hellmouth, you know.”
He thought this over. Angel hadn’t been especially forthcoming on the subject. He knew they’d won, that Buffy had made it, but he could dimly recall seeing a few girls fall before the amulet worked its mojo.
“Amanda,” he realized.
“Yeah. And Anya. Kelly Ho.” She paused. “It could have been a lot worse.”
He shot her a look. The way she said it, it almost sounded like ‘thank you’. Then her words caught up with him and he felt a stinging in his chest. It was a strangest sensation.
A funny sort of nostalgia welled up. They hadn’t been close, of course, but it still felt like a merry flame doused too soon. A beloved and entertaining soap cancelled before its time. She was the first of his former lovers to shuffle off this mortal coil for good, he thought. Didn’t seem right.
“A bleeding shame. She was a decent sort. Forthright. Drove the lot of them barmy, sometimes. Me included.”
“Xander’s not dealing,” she began, but seemed to decide against saying more about it. Could the girl be growing some discretion? He hoped not.
“Neither is B,” she said, looking him directly in the eye. Subtle as ever. No worries there.
He fought to keep from asking after her like some breathless teenager. He supposed the breathless part was true enough. His longing must’ve shown on his traitorous face, though. Faith was smiling like, well, someone with a juicy secret just bursting to come out.
“I’ll take you for a drink, Sparky. Fill you in.” She nudged his shoulder playfully, then froze as she glanced at the two other Slayers who were herding the Ichthynols toward the double doors.
“Damn. Forgot I’m babysitting the ‘Anys’ tonight. Under 21 establishments only, ‘til I can get ‘em back to base. In friggin’ Pasadena.”
Spike looked at the girls, who did seem a bit on the young side. They giggled as they took turns twirling the trident, laughing harder when the lead Fish Man made an affronted harrumphing sound. The doors swung shut on his departing form, administering a satisfying smack as they did.
“Tell you what. I know a place on the way that’ll give the girlies a thrill. My treat.”
Faith cocked a brow at him, letting him know she’d caught each entendre, intended or not, but was going to let it pass.
“I’m driving.” She let out a piercing whistle.
“Hey Britt, Tiff! Great job. Feel like celebrating?”
High pitched squeals were their only answer. Faith grabbed the girls and swept out to the parking lot. Spike put his slightly less damp socks and boots back on. He looked around the now empty room. The turquoise light reflected off the pool and transformed the hulking building into a fairyland. Even heroes liked to take a moment to savor the all-too-brief moments of beauty. They didn’t come often in LA.
He grabbed his coat and strolled outside. Doyle’s truck was gone. A bit weird, the way he’d scarpered. Before he could puzzle it out, a Mini Cooper screeched to a halt in front of him. Faith revved the engine a few times.
“Wanna ride, little boy?”
He rolled his eyes and folded himself into the passenger seat, his knees bumping up against the gear shift and the tiny dash board. He felt the damp of his jeans soaking into the seat. He tried to ignore the giggling in the back seat.
“The blonde one’s Tiffany, the blonder one’s Brittany. Fellas, meet Spike, the guy that sunk SunnyD.”
“I thought that was an earthquake,” said Brittany.
“My dad said it was terrorists,” offered Tiffany.
“Yeah, well, your pops was right. I’m the biggest bloody terrorist this sorry state has ever seen.”
The girls eyes grew saucer-sized.
“Course, if I didn’t do it, the whole world would’ve been swallowed up by purest evil by now. Fire with fire, yeah?”
The ‘Anys’ looked at Faith for confirmation. She nodded. He continued.
“That’s right. You birds may find that the Slaying gig leads to some strange bedfellows.” Faith smacked his arm. It stung, but she was smiling. “So to speak. Turn left up here.”
He directed Faith to the curb outside his basement apartment and left her and teenyboppers to argue over the radio station while he dashed in to change into some dry clothes. He had only the one pair of boots, but he could deal with a little dampness. Two pairs of socks would probably help. He toweled his hair until it wasn’t dripping anymore and combed in a bit of gel. Inside of four minutes he was back in the car, his duster keeping the moisture in the seat from getting back at him. Faith had won the fight over the radio and the teenyboppers were scowling in the back seat.
Du-par’s diner sparkled in the crisp, clear night. It was late enough that they got a booth right away, but not so late that the bitty slayers were left without any stars to gaze upon. They kept giggling and pointing out smooth-faced youths that Spike could only presume were actors or members of boy bands. It had the desired effect of keeping the kiddies occupied while he and Faith talked.
They all ordered hot chocolate and pie, even Faith. The canned Christmas carols and tacky decorations were not un-festive, Spike decided. Maybe it was a side effect of running into an old mate to whom he didn’t owe any money, somebody who actually seemed happy to see him. That didn’t happen much to old Spike. The change was nice.
Faith settled back into a corner of the booth and smiled.
“So, what’s an nice vamp like you doing hanging out with an evil lawyer like what’s-his-name? Lillian? Lucille? Some girl’s name like that. Seems like a step down to me.” She shrugged.
“Who do you mean? Angel?”
She looked confused for a moment.
“Angel? Nah. Wait. Angel’s a lawyer now? Never mind. I meant the lawyer guy you were with at the pool.”
“Doyle? Doyle’s not a lawyer.”
“He was the last time I met him. He hired me to kill Angel for Wolfram & Hart. And his name wasn’t Doyle. Maybe Marion. No, something with an ‘L’. Ashley?”
Spike’s mood dipped. It figured. He’d been played again. Fallen for the temptation of being the big, tarnished hero. He’d had some good slays out of whatever scam the not-vision-guy was pulling, but now he’d have to figure what the angle was. When had he become so gullible?
Before he could sink any lower, their waitress came by with the pie and drinks. Spike took a sip of sweet, hot chocolate, deciding to think about all this later. Faith seemed to agree.
“It’s not important, I guess. I just thought that you’d be, you know, back in the bosom and all.” She made a vague gesture that suggested her meaning perfectly. He cleared his throat.
“Long story. Was dead. Then was a ghost for a bit. I’ve only been myself, more-or-less, for about a month. Been fighting the good fight here. How’s it been for you lot?” He glanced at the little slayerettes, who were still gawking at the other patrons and whispering.
“Mixed bag, you know. Like I said, we lost a few, could’a been worse. We went to Phoenix to regroup. Giles decided the Slayer Council should get organized. We’ve got a school in Cleveland coming together. Robin is running that. He’s good with kids.”
“Right. The principal.”
“Riiight,” said Faith, as if he’d just explained everything. “He got hurt in the Hellmouth, so he’s not doing field work anymore.” She shifted uncomfortably. Spike could guess what she meant by that.
“Sorry to hear it,” he said. He was, for her sake. Poor girl couldn’t seem to catch a break. He knew the feeling. She shrugged again.
“Willow and her girl are in Brazil, setting up the South America branch. Fine by me. Xander is getting ready to head for Africa on a Slayer-finding mission. Doesn’t seem to want to socialize much.”
“Because of Anya.”
She nodded. “Giles is heading up the European branch. Andrew is ‘assisting’ him.” She rolled her eyes. “That little dweeb is going to be trouble. He gets these ideas…” She stopped and shook her head. “Whatever. Dawn’s at something called a ‘day school’. Me and Buffy are ‘at-large’ for now. I think it means we don’t play well with others.” She smiled again, and it was the smile of a lioness, calm, strong, and unapologetic.
He hoped that Buffy was feeling the same sense of rightness about things. But Faith had implied otherwise back at the pool. She leaned toward him and lowered her voice.
“B is holding it together, but you can only lose everything so many times, you know? I don’t like to talk bad about another Slayer, but she’s even more on the, uh, brittle side than usual.”
Spike did not like this turn in the conversation. Faith wasn't one to gossip. If she was bringing this up, it couldn’t be easily dismissed. He could try, though.
“To be expected. Lost her mum, her friends, her whole town. Bound to be a bit of a recovery period.”
She shook her head. “Uh uh. She’s missing her best vamp, champ.”
He felt a flare of irritation and snorted. “Angel is occupied with higher things, like always. When’s she going to get the message?”
“Don’t be stupid, Romeo. Wanna get her something nice for Christmas? Just exactly what she wants? Put a stamp on your ass and mail yourself to her.”
He gaped for a moment. The little Slayers stopped with their forks halfway to their mouths and stared.
“You don’t know that…” he tried.
“Like hell I don’t. Buffy’s a great Slayer. Don’t get me wrong. But she’s better with you. If you don’t want her, that’s one thing. But let’s be honest, Billy Boy: you’ll always want her, won’t you?”
He nodded slowly. It was a basic truth, a physical law, like gravity.
“That’s settled then. Lemme make a call.”
Time seemed to shift. He thought of protesting, was sure he did, but she pulled a phone out of somewhere — those Slayers were marvels at that kind of thing — and punched in a number before he could even say, “Now just a sodding minute.”
“Hey, B! How’s the solstice going? Uh huh. Got ‘em all tied up? Nice. I got sent to LA and we finished up early. I found something here for you. You’re going to love it. Where will you be for Christmas? Uh huh. Let me write it down.” She snapped her fingers at Spike, who silently pulled a pen out of one of his pockets. She smoothed down a paper napkin and, like it was nothing, wrote out the information that Spike hadn’t realized was his Holy Grail.
“Got it. Okay. Great. I’ll see you at New Year’s.” She snapped the phone shut and put it back from whence it had come. She handed him the napkin with a saucy grin.
“Damn. I feel just like Santa. Bet I’d look great in the little red dress, too.”
It was only the truth. “That you would, pet. That you would.”
He glanced up and for the first time noticed the plastic mistletoe hanging there. He leaned over and kissed her cheek. Her throaty laugh attracted the attention of several handsome nearby maybe-celebrities.
It turned out that the not-a-lawyer, not-a-seer guy — who Faith eventually remembered was named Lindsey — was Angel's problem, not Spike's. After they got that sorted, Faith put Spike on a plane, just to make sure. She had a Council credit card, after all. Buffy and Spike had a tremendous, noisy, and life-changing Christmas. But Faith, who had heard that it was better to give than to receive, managed to ditch the little Slayers with their families and had a lovely time with all of her new friends from Du-Par’s. She made sure to send photos, and Spike had to agree that she "fucking rocked" that little red dress with the fur trim.
A/N: This fic has been languishing at 1,200 words for years. I got the initial prompt at nekid_spike in 2011, but once I wrote the opening fight scene, I knew they had to talk about their feelings and stuff and got scared. In the interim, some of my snappy dialogue was stolen (stolen!) by a guy writing the Spike mini-series. Whatever, dude. Also, Du-par’s is where my family had pie alongside Eliza Dushku and Juliet Landau, way back in 1998, before any of us watched Buffy. “Hey, it’s the chick from ‘True Lies’,” said my brother-in-law. “And the one from ‘Ed Wood’,” said MiAmor. Huh. We wondered what the connection could possibly be...