“Oh, well, this is just bloody perfect!”
Buffy sat up abruptly at the sound of the belligerent vampire. “Huh?” she asked inelegantly.
Looking around, she took in her surroundings for the first time. She appeared to be reposing on the grass, in a sun-drenched meadow, next to a very pretty little babbling brook, dressed in something out of a story book. Widening her eyes in surprised disbelief at the weirdness of both the setting and her wardrobe, she looked towards the direction that Spike’s voice had come from and froze.
“What?” he snarled at her when he caught her staring at him.
“Spike?” Buffy squeaked.
“What’s wrong with you, and what the bloody hell are you wearing?” Spike was not happy. He’d been having a perfectly good dream which involved some handcuffs, ice-cream, chocolate syrup and an extremely flexible slayer. All he wanted to do was go back to the dream, but nooo…that wasn’t in the plans for ol’ Spikey. Bleedin’ slayer had to bollocks everything up by waking him up while he was …lying in a sunny field of wildflowers.
Turning his astonished gaze back to the now giggling blond, Spike felt his irritation escalate at the same rate as her laughter. “WHAT is so bloody funny, Slayer?”
His question just seemed to set her off again. Laughing hysterically, she managed to point a shaky finger in his direction and move it up and down. Glancing down at himself, Spike saw what he was wearing and blanched in horror. Black knee length boots, cerulean blue jodhpurs, a white pirate’s shirt, and a matching blue jacket with gold trim. He extended his arms slowly, taking in his appearance, and his mind reeled in shocked horror as he caught sight of his hands. Thick white blond hair covered the back of his hands and his nails were long, pointed, and black. A look of fear crossed his face as his hands flew up to examine it. It, too, was covered with hair, and, to his exploring fingers it appeared that he was in gameface. Terrified cerulean blue eyes met sparkling green eyes. “What did you do?” he whispered.
Feeling pity for the distressed vampire, Buffy felt the need to clear the air, “I didn’t do anything, Spike. I’m as much in the dark as you are. And I wasn’t laughing at you, either. I was laughing at what you’re wearing. I’m sorry if you misunderstood…We’ll fix this Spike, I promise.”
Standing up, Buffy made her way over to the upset vampire and offered him her hand. After helping him to his feet, she pointed over his shoulder. “That looks like the place to start, what do you think?”
Turning to look in the direction she had indicated, Spike saw a huge castle. As it was the only building in sight, he nodded his agreement and the two warriors moved in silent unison towards their goal.
Buffy let her senses out as she cautiously opened the large front door. Feeling nothing out of the ordinary, she nodded to Spike and they stepped into a large and ornate entry hall. Closed doors on either side of the hallway showed them nothing. In front of them was a huge staircase leading to the upper levels.
Before the intrepid warriors had a chance to explore further, they were halted by a cacophony of relieved voices, that seemed to come from all around them, but neither was able to see a single person. Calling loudly for quiet, Buffy called out to the voice that she had recognised first. “Giles? Where are you?”
“Ah…yes…well…do you see the small clock on the side table to the left of the staircase?” he replied, his voice filled with embarrassment.
“Well…that would be me.”
“Huh?” Her eyes bugged out and she goggled at Spike.
“Your watcher’s a clock, luv,” Spike deadpanned.
Buffy spun back to the small clock and hesitantly moved towards it, slowly reaching out her shaking hand. When the clock face seemed to glare at her, she snatched back her hand.
“Perhaps we should move this into the ballroom, that way everyone can join us,” The little clock-that-was-Giles suggested before hopping agilely off the side table and scurrying towards a double set of doors on the opposite side of the hall. As the clock-that-was-Giles reached the doors, the coat rack leaned down and opened them for him.
Spike and Buffy followed the clock-that-was-Giles into the room. The ballroom itself was almost empty, only a green Baby Grand piano sat forlornly on the bandstand. Soon Buffy, Spike, and the clock-that-was-Giles were joined by an assortment of household appliances, furniture, and ornaments.
Glancing around the room, Buffy and Spike shared a look of disbelief. “Think we’re gonna need a role call here, pet.” Spike started to grin in anticipation, mentally making bets with himself as to which object was which person and who all the other objects were.
“Sounds like a plan. Okay, we know the little clock is Giles, so let’s do this systematically,” Buffy looked around the room and, pointing to the first object, asked, “Hat stand, who are you?”
“It’s me, Buffy; Willow.” Her voice small and miserable, “I swear I didn’t do this, honest.”
“We’ll work it out, Willow,” Buffy assured the weeping hat stand before turning to the next object, “Teapot?”
“That is still Mom to you, young lady.” Joyce’s voice was filled with amusement, “Your sister’s the cup, dear”
“This is sooo lame,” Dawn-the-teacup complained loudly.
“Oh, Mom, I’m sorry you got dragged into this, too,” Buffy apologized to her mother sincerely. Turning to the next object, “Okay, Mr. Book, who are you?”
“Wesley Wyndham-Price, Buffy,” the ex-watcher responded politely.
“Okay…wasn’t expecting that,” she commented blandly before turning to the next item, a small statue of an angel, but before she could say a word, Spike was beside her, asking his own question.
“Hi, Spike,” Tara’s sweet little voice rang out melodiously.
Lifting an eyebrow at the vampire and smiling in amusement, Buffy threw out her hand, palm up, offering him the opportunity to continue.
Smirking at her, Spike took a little bow then pointed at the portable pantry. “That’s Harris.” Totally ignoring Xander’s surprised response at the vampire’s correct guess, Spike then pointed to the large bed at the back of the room. “That would be demon girl,” he continued, ignoring her acknowledgment, too. Turning to the candlestick, he made no effort to hide his glee. “This is Peaches.” Spike smirked as he pointed to the toilet plunger. “And that’s Finn. At a guess; I’d say the mirror is the cheerleader, but I haven’t a clue about the others.”
“Good guess, bleach boy,” Cordelia drawled out, her image coming into focus in the mirror as she spoke. “The gun is Charles Gunn; he works with us. The piano is Lorne, he also works with us. Oh, and the footstool is Oz,” Cordelia offered.
“Great, all we need is the vacuum and it’d be old school week,” Buffy muttered quietly to Spike.
“Vacuum?” he queried, just as quietly.
“Harmony,” she answered flatly. “Okay, let me just get this straight…Mom’s the teapot, Dawnie’s the cup, Giles is the little clock, Willow’s the hat stand, Tara’s the little angel, Xander’s the pantry, Anya’s the bed, Riley’s the plunger, Angel’s the candlestick, Cordy’s the mirror, Wesley’s the book, Charles is the gun, Lorne’s the piano, and Oz is the footstool.” Buffy managed to get through the entire group before bursting into laughter. Spike had started snickering when she got to Riley.
“So, does anyone have any ideas?” Buffy asked the group once she and Spike had stopped laughing.
“If you sing for me darlin’, I might be able to tell you,” the piano-that-was-Lorne answered.
“Who sing, me sing?” Buffy squeaked in horror. “Buffy doesn’t sing.”
“You can’t be worse than Angel,” Cordelia remarked from her mirror.
It was funny hearing a candlestick growl.
“Why can’t Spike sing?” Buffy suggested in desperation.
“’Cause you’re the one least affected by this situation, pumpkin. That tells me that whatever has happened to us is centred on you,” Lorne gently informed the girl.
Grumbling all the way, Buffy moved closer to the piano. “What do I have to sing?” she asked petulantly.
“Anything you want, precious.”
Searching her mind for something she actually knew the lyrics to, Buffy started singing, her voice soft and sweet. "I thought I saw a man brought to life. He was warm; he came around like he was dignified. He showed me what it was to cry. Well you couldn’t be that man I adored. You don’t seem to know; don’t seem to care what your heart is for. But I don’t know him anymore. There’s nothing where he used to lie. My conversation has run dry. That’s what’s going on, nothing’s fine I’m torn. I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel. I’m cold and I am shamed lying naked on the floor. Illusion never changed into something real. I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn. You’re a little late, I’m already torn.”
"That was beautiful, sweetcakes,” the piano-that-was-Lorne praised the shy slayer. “It seems somebody here made a wish on the Hellmouth,” he told the rest of the group. “There’s only one way to break the spell. Our little songbird here has to get to know the man inside the beast.”
The outbreak of voices yelling accusations at Spike was instantaneous; everyone shouting over each other in an effort to be heard. It took the shrill whistle from the teapot-that-was-Joyce to quiet the group. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves; blaming him without proof. Obviously Buffy isn’t the only one that needs to get to know him. I made the wish. Are you going to yell at me now? Because I would really; like to see you try.”
“Mom? Why?” Buffy asked, totally in shock at her mother’s admission.
“Because you never give him a chance, dear. You judge him constantly, but you’re judging him based on your knowledge of Angelus, honey. He deserves to be judged on his own merits. None of you have noticed that he has been trying to work with you. Did any of you stop to wonder what the reaction to him from the demon community would be? He openly works with the slayer; he’s considered an outcast by his own kind. The only option he has for friends is you, and you still treat him like the enemy. Instead of convincing yourselves that he would kill you all if the chip was removed, why not get to know him before you make those kinds of accusations? A perfect example is the situation we are in now, none of you knew who was responsible, but all of you accused him…and you were wrong.
“I’m not asking for much, Buffy. Just that you spend some time with him and get to know the man that I know,” The teapot-that-was-Joyce explained gently.
“What a waste of time; he’ll always be the same evil monster he always was.” Angel snorted derisively.
“Spike, it’s getting a bit dark. Would you be a dear and light a candle?” Joyce asked sweetly, innocence dripping from her voice.
“HEY! No flames near the vampire!” Angel shouted indignantly.
Time passed quickly, as it’s wont to do in lands of enchantment, and the Slayer found herself enjoying the time she spent with Spike, falling a little bit more under his spell every day. One minute she was so enraged at him that she could barely restrain herself from beating him to a quivering pulp, the next he was kissing her so senseless that she couldn’t form a coherent sentence. Although life with the vampire was nearly always one extreme or the other, she was never, ever bored.
Buffy hardly noticed the changes at first, but as the days slipped by she noticed that for every little act of kindness on her part towards her former enemy, he began to look less like the beast and more like the Spike she’d known before.
Today, she’d spent most of the morning following his path of destruction through the castle. His pranks had been causing complaints from the victims but a great deal of laughter from everyone else. She finally found him in what seemed to be his favourite spot to while away the afternoon.
“Did you have to use Riley to unstop the toilet, Spike?” Buffy giggled as she approached him.
Looking up from his position seated under the large elm tree, he grinned. “’Bit suggested it. ‘Sides, s’what a toilet plunger is for, innit?”
“And the lighting of Angel’s candle, so that all the wax dripped over his face?” She smiled, rolling her eyes at him.
“That was my idea” he admitted, “but you have to admit it was bloody funny, Slayer.” His boyish grin was infectious, even with the wicked looking fangs he was still sporting.
Sitting down next to him, Buffy glanced over at the book in his hands. “That’s not Wesley, is it?” She seriously needed conformation, ‘cause you never knew with Spike.
“Nah…thought I’d give ‘em a bit of a rest,” he assured her. Turning the book over in his hands, he shyly showed her what it was. “It’s a book of poetry.”
“That’s nice.” She found herself drawn irresistibly closer to his side until she was leaning against his shoulder. “Would you mind reading them to me?” she asked in a voice just a little breathless with anticipation.
Spike blushed through what remained of the fur covering his face but nodded agreeably. He stunned her completely when he sprawled out on the blanket and propped his head in her lap. Once he was comfortable, he opened the book and began to read the verse aloud.
From the window of the library, the others watched as Buffy and Spike basked in each others company.
“They’ve both changed so much.” Willow shook her head in disbelief as she offered her opinion to the group.
“It’d sure be easier to hate him if she didn’t look so darned happy,” Xander observed sadly. He didn’t want to like Spike, but after watching him playing pranks on Angel and Riley and the positive effect he’d had on Buffy, Xander was finding it harder and harder to cling to his hatred.
A snort of derision came from the direction of the sideboard at the end of the room, “You people are being played. I know Spike; this is all some trick of his so he can get close to the slayer and notch up his third.”
“Shut up, Angel,” most of the group spoke in unison. They’d gotten pretty good at the unison thing, but then, they’d had plenty of practice.
“Has anyone else noticed that the more they kiss, or whenever Buffy is kind to Spike, the more he changes back to his normal self?” Tara quietly asked the group.
Turning back to the twosome, the group took note of the fact that Spike was indeed looking almost like his old self.
As day turned into evening, Buffy realised that she would never be able to go back to the way she had been. Leaning down, she placed a gentle kiss on Spike’s lips; a kiss that made promises of things to come. As the last of the enchantment slipped from him, Buffy realised that the man inside Spike had touched her heart. She saw him, really saw him and he was beautiful.