Summary: When Buffy flees Sunnydale after defeating Acathla (and Angelus), the day just keeps getting weirder.
Fandom: BTVS, between Season 2 and 3, General Canon
Characters: Buffy and Spike, non-speaking appearance by Drusilla
Word Count: 4800
Warnings: Mention of blood and accusations of questionable parentage. Spanish terms translated at the end.
Disclaimer: The characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox studios. This story is not meant to infringe upon anyone's rights, only to entertain.
Buffy waited in the Sunnydale train station, bag in hand. She felt incredibly, spectacularly . . . numb. She’d won. Acathla’s big mouth was shut for good, if she was any judge. She’d turned him to talcum, not unlike the Master. Yay. Maybe she was learning, she thought, to not leave loose ends. Maybe this big bad wouldn’t try for another comeback. Even if he did, she didn’t plan to be there to find out. She’d done what she could. Angelus was stuffed back inside Angel, and Angel was stuffed into Hell. Apparently Spike had, as promised, taken Dru away, never to return. Yup, she’d managed to run ‘em all out of town, but now it was her turn.
She just couldn’t fight another battle, not with Snyder, or the police, or her mom. She couldn’t listen to Xander crow about “Dead Boy”, and she couldn’t even bear to think about looking into Willow’s bruised “understanding” face. She could almost consider talking to Giles, if she was sure he could hold onto his ‘strictly business’ demeanor. Then she thought of his broken appearance as Xander got him out of the mansion, and she knew she couldn’t face him, either.
The train pulled in, and Buffy found a window seat as far as possible from the few other occupants of her car. The train soon pulled out, crawling through the small downtown, then speeding up as it passed into the woods behind the residential area, and then settling into a fast, steady pace as it headed down the California coastline. Daylight streamed through the window, and the ocean sparkled off to Buffy’s right, the waves curling and crashing in their inevitable way. A few surfers in wetsuits bobbed in the water, and the oil rigs, disguised as small islands, continued their own clandestine operations. Buffy felt disoriented by the difference between the gorgeous scene outside her window and the dullness within her. The sway of the train soon lulled her into an exhausted sleep.
She was climbing up a cliff face of soft, weedy earth. It was frustrating, with handholds crumbling beneath her grasp, dusty grasses getting in her eyes, and pebbles trickling down from above, lightly pelting her and adding to the sensation of instability. It was so bright, so hot. She was sticky and itchy but had to keep going. Couldn’t stop, couldn’t take stock. How much farther?
Suddenly, she was at the top. She threw an arm over the edge, but found nothing to hold onto. Her feet scrabbled for purchase, and she looked up. A black booted foot landed next to her hand, followed by a black denim-clad knee. “Grab on, pet,” urged a familiar voice. She froze, and when a strong hand clamped onto her upper arm, she nearly pulled away, managing to keep her movement to the smallest flinch. “What’s it to be, then?” asked the voice above her. She looked up into the face of her erstwhile ally. His human features were flooded with sunlight, his bright hair practically a flame above him. “Why?” she whispered. He gazed at her a moment, then whispered back, “I’m dancing in sunshine.” Feeling that she had little choice, she threw her other arm upward. He caught her hand, and as he drew her up, legs dangling, she felt as if she was swimming up into cool, comforting night.
“And, again, with the why?” she gasped out, breathless. She looked up into Spike’s demon face, still glowing against a backdrop of stars. He smiled a small smile, so unlike his usual gleeful expression while in gameface. He shrugged, then bent at the waist, and kissed her hand, still held in his. “A lady of my acquaintance was in need of aid,” he murmured in an unfamiliar, from him, accent. He dropped her hand abruptly, and spun away, disappearing immediately. She felt a jolt as she tried to balance on the cliff’s edge, without his steadying presence.
She woke as the train was juddering to a stop beneath the shady weather awning at LA’s Union Station. She took a deep breath as she looked around the car. The other passengers were gathering up their belongings, talking casually. That had all the earmarks of a Slayer dream. Except (or especially) because it really didn’t make sense. She shook her head a little, to clear out the dream, grabbed her things and followed the others onto the platform, down the stairs, through the tunnel into the station. It was pleasantly cool, with dark wooden benches, potted palms, and light filtering down from the high windows. She bought a bottle of water from a little store in the lobby and sat down on a bench to consider her next move.
She really didn’t want to have to deal with questions from anybody she knew, so calling her father was out. She had a little money, around $200, which would only last a week or so, if she was really, really, REALLY careful. She looked at her water bottle dolefully, noticing a drinking fountain not far away. She sighed and, after a moment, went over to the information booth. A middle-aged black woman sat behind the counter, bent over, digging through a drawer. She decided to just go for it.
“Excuse me. Um. Could you tell me if there is a Y or, maybe a hostel around here?”
The woman looked up, then slowly straightened in her chair and considered Buffy for a moment. Her gaze seemed to sharpen, and she replied, “Sure, honey. Let’s get you all set up.” She stood and gathered up a few brochures from different spots in the booth, then returned to the counter.
“Here’s the info on the Y.” The woman — her nametag read “Estelle” — put down a brochure. “They don’t all have rooms, these days, but the daytime facilities are good, and they have some programs that might help you out.” Estelle put down another brochure. “There’s a hostel a couple of miles away — here’s the info sheet, with directions on the back. It’s cheap, but honey, the neighborhood isn’t real safe. The county lock up is nearby, and when they let out, it can get ugly. A pretty little girl like you . . . well, I don’t recommend it.”
Buffy nodded. “Thanks. I appreciate that, but I’ll be okay.” She reached for the brochures, but Estelle covered them with her hand.
“Here’s some stuff on a few other places that might work out for you.” She put a couple more brochures on the pile, then slid the pile over to Buffy. “Come back if you have any questions, sugar.” She smiled at Buffy, but she didn’t seem all that happy, really. Her eyes were sad, Buffy decided.
“Okay. Thanks again.” She turned, and then thought of something else. She turned back, and asked, “Is there a good place to eat around here? You know, just for a quick lunch?”
Estelle perked up a bit, and almost gushed, “Oh yes! Right across the way at Olvera Street you can get some good tacos! Yes, you try that. You won’t be sorry.” Her smile reached her eyes this time. Buffy felt a little lurch in her stomach. She realized she was really hungry.
“Thanks! That sounds great. See you!” Buffy shifted her bag, made sure her brochures were in hand, and went out the front doors. She made her way across the parking lot and the wide street that would be a freeway in any other town, to the little park that was one of the entrances to the tourist attraction in the oldest part of L.A.
She remembered now, coming here as a kid with her folks. She found a taco stand, reminiscing happily about seeing the dancers. They had been so beautiful, with their gorgeous, colorful dresses, braided hair, and dark eyes. She sat down with her food, remembering how she’d squealed when her dad had showed her ‘real Mexican Jumping Beans’, which did indeed jump and shiver in a very disturbing, but cute, way. She wondered briefly if there was any demon activity involved.
Shrugging, she looked over her brochures while she ate. “Your Friends At the Y.” Check. “H.I. Hostels. Your Hovel Away From Home.” Check. “LA County Runaway Services. We Care. No, Really.” What the hell? She spread it open, realizing that Estelle had sized her up in a way that she hadn’t dreamed. Runaway? Really? Shocked, she had to admit, that, Slayer or not, yep, she was a teen runaway. It sounded so . . . well . . . trite! So not Buffy. And, it made her feel a lot more conspicuous, all of a sudden.
She finished eating, gathered up her stuff, and took off for the hostel. It was a dreary walk, and once she got there she had to admit that the neighborhood was definitely dicey. There wasn’t much choice, so Buffy got a room, a bunk really, and took a nap. She woke in the late afternoon, as people began to filter back into the hostel, and decided to go back to Olvera Street for dinner and patrol.
The sunset was spectacular, as it always is in LA. The early evening air perked her up a bit, and she didn’t feel that she stuck out as much in the crowds wandering the booths. They were enjoying the music, eating, drinking, talking, and laughing. She felt almost normal here, like she was right there with her fellow humans, but then, not WITH them, either. Yep, almost normal.
Then she felt the tell-tale tingle, very slight. Vamp. Not too close, but somewhere nearby. She reached out with her senses, and let them lead her where they would. She left the central area, and found herself in front of a church. The sign read “Our Lady Queen of Angels”. Hmm. Not your usual vamp hangout. She still felt off, a little dulled, but there was definite vampage here, someplace.
It looked like mass was letting out. She scanned the exiting parishioners, but nothing popped out. As the crowd thinned, she headed for the entrance. She was still looking around as she entered, and so, naturally, didn’t pay attention to what was right in front of her until she walked right into it. Rather, into him.
“Are you FOLLOWING me!?!” Both of them growled out at the same time.
They blinked. She growled again, and Spike backed up, lifting his hands in universal sign of ‘no threat here, ma’am’.
“Not following you. On my way out of the country, as promised. Just ran into a bit of a snag, is all. So, I’ll just be off, then?”
“Oh, I don’t think so, Spike. What sort of snag? And why are you right here on my tail? And, in church?!? That can’t be a good thing.”
“First of all, you ran smack into me, so if anybody is on anybody’s tail, it’d be you, not me. Had no idea you where even around. Why aren’t you in Sunnyhell, like a good little Slayer? Don’t you have a tickertape parade to attend, or somesuch?”
“I asked you first, Spike! What’s the snag?” She drew out the last word, nastily, reaching for her stake.
He looked up, sighing, and slumped against the confessional booth behind him. “I lost Dru.”
She stared at him. Was he serious? “When you say ‘lost’, you don’t happen to mean ‘dust’ do you? Pretty please?”
“No, I bloody well do not mean . . . that. It’s just . . . well . . . when she came round, wasn’t very happy, yeah? Had a bit of a row, and she took off, right? Just trying to track her down, so we can get gone, as your highness requested. She was here, before.” He gestured vaguely around the interior of the church, which Buffy noticed was enormous. “Gone now, though.”
Buffy stared at him. He looked miserable, and he showed the signs of a tussle of some sort. His shirt was slightly ripped at the neck, he had scratches on his face and hands, a puffy lip, and his usually overly immaculate hair was mussed. Looked like Drusilla was a hair-puller.
She sighed. This was confusing. Was the ‘truce’ still in effect? He’d jumped in and helped with Angelus, and had removed Dru from the fight. Also, Giles was still alive. She supposed he’d held up his end of their weird bargain. But the fight was over, and he was supposed to be out of her life, forever. And she couldn’t just let him go, to carry on with his evil . . . stuff. It would be wrong. Right?
“Spike. What am I going to do with you?” She sighed again.
He shook himself a little and gave her his best sneer. “Slayer. Didn’t know you wanted to do anythin’. That why you’re following me? Had only to ask . . .”
“Shut up, Spike. And: Ewww. I’m not following you for any reason. I’m just . . . taking a little break. Yep. A little ‘Hey, the World’s Still Here, Let’s Party’ break. Like Spring Break. But with truancy. Because I totally deserve a break. I beat another apocalypse. This is, like, my third one! Maybe this time I’ll even go to Disneyland!” She finally ground to a halt.
He regarded her, coolly. “Ran away, Slayer?”
She spluttered, but then gave up, and sank onto a pew behind her. “Yeah.”
“Don’t blame you. Got any plans?”
“Not really. It was sort of sudden, you know?”
He nodded in understanding. He was silent for awhile, then seemed to decide something. “Had your supper yet, Slayer?”
“Got a proposition for you. Could get a bite while we talk.”
“You know, Spike, ‘proposition’ and ‘bite’ are two things I really don’t want from you.”
“Ha bloody ha. C’mon, Slayer. There’s a diner up a few blocks. My solemn word I won’t give you any problem. You know my word’s good.”
“I really don’t. But I also don’t think you can take me, so whatever.” She reached out with her senses again, but only felt the presence of the vamp in front of her. No Dru lurking around for an ambush, it seemed. “Alright. Lead on, I guess. I must be insane,” she muttered.
“Ah, not as yet, Slayer. Have a little experience in these matters. You’ve still a ways to go.” He gestured in the direction that would take them to the aforementioned diner.
“Huh. Thanks, I think. Hey! Why would Drusilla hide out in a church anyway?”
He raised an eyebrow, and as they walked, he described how his princess wasn’t like your garden-variety vamp. She’d always kept her interest in holy relics and the trappings of the church, although she usually avoided the things that would hurt her, the holy water font, the actual crucifixes. Buffy found herself actually listening and even occasionally forgetting to be ready for the — surely imminent — attack.
“Took her orders the day Angelus turned her, you know? Was to be a nun. Think she still feels a pull. Says consecrated ground gives her a buzz. Well, that’s not how she puts it, of course, but it’s what she means. Get a little sense of it, myself, now and then. Kind of speedy, you know.” He looked her way. “No, of course you wouldn’t.”
Buffy broke in. “Hey! Maybe it’s like when I ate that whole bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans! That was a pretty buzzy.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Right. Well then, here we are.” He opened the door to the diner, and led her to a booth in the back. He allowed her to choose her seat, she noticed, and she took the place that gave her the best view of the room and exits. He settled across from her, throwing the menu aside.
"Didn't think you were gonna pull it off, y'know. Didn't look good. . ."
"Yeah, and thanks for all your follow through, by the way."
He ignored the jibe. "How’d you do it? Nice to know you can bollocks up that worthless bastard, as well as yours truly. Might get a complex, otherwise."
Buffy didn't say anything. She'd been trying to hold back her final image of Angel all day. Now she felt it flood through her. His brown eyes, filled with tears and surprise, bored into her. She looked down at the table, and it seemed too far away, too bright. She felt so cold. She slumped back, then remembered that she couldn't let down her guard in present company. She sat up straight and studied the menu intently.
“Know he’s gone, Slayer. Felt it, a little. Thought it’d be more definite. Dru, she couldn’t stop moaning about ‘Daddy’s gone again’, though. Couldn’t happen to more deserving SOB. Cheers.”
Buffy pulled her menu closer and tried to breathe normally. The waitress came over to take their order. Spike rattled off a bunch of Spanish, and Buffy tried to focus enough on the menu to at least see what was printed there. After a moment, Spike cleared his throat, “My friend’ll have a burger and fries.” He waited, then added. “And a big soda, right?” She nodded and handed over the menu. As the waitress walked away, he called after her, “Oh, love? Skip the tortillas and bring me a plate of onion rings, alright?” The waitress smiled her acknowledgment, and he winked broadly at her before she turned to tack up their order.
Once again, she found herself on the receiving end of his scrutiny. It was so annoying. Why did he look so, well, not worried exactly. But not gloating, either. Where was the evil when she was trying to get her mad on? Was it too much to ask for a little help with the motivation? She’d had the roughest of days, after all.
Suddenly, a man boomed out, “Mr. Spike! Claro! It had to be you! Nobody else would order together such things! You crazy English!” A man that Buffy guessed was the cook had stuck his head out the window to the kitchen and was gesturing with both hands. He withdrew, then hurried out of the kitchen and grabbed a chair from the table across from their booth. He twirled it around and plopped down backwards into it, leaning toward Spike. “Cabrón! You haven’t been by in months. What could keep you away from Dolores’ bírria, eh?” He smiled at Buffy, then raised his eyebrows at Spike, knowingly. “Or do I have to ask, eh?”
Spike looked a little surprised, but shook his head and said, “No mate, nothing like that. Just had business out of town. Happens. Say, Al, has Dru been by in the last couple of hours? We . . . got split up earlier.”
“Al” looked nervous at the mention of Drusilla, but shook his head firmly. “No. No Miss Drusilla. You don’t think she come here, do you? She come only with you, yes?” he asked, hopefully.
Spike shrugged. “Just askin’.” He glanced over at Buffy, then seemed to remember himself. “Meet Alfonso Suarez. He runs this joint. He and his wife cook up the spiciest nosh outside of Thailand. Al, this is Miss Summers.”
“Miss Summers, it is so much a pleasure to meet such a lovely friend of Mr. Spike.”
Buffy wondered at the ‘Miss Summers’ bit, but took his proffered hand, and noticed it was warm, and a little sweaty. Not a demon, apparently. She looked between the two men, confused. Spike kicked her lightly under the table.
“Oh, right. Nice to meet you, Mr. Suarez. How do you know Spike?”
“Ho ho, you know Mr. Spike! I think he do anything for hot, spicy comida! Once he taste my Dolores’ cooking, he make everything come together for us. He tell us about this place, he tell the bad people to stay away. It was all so easy! I would never believe it!”
“Gee, me neither,” muttered Buffy, throwing a dark look at Spike, who shrugged unconcernedly.
“I hope you like as much, also. But you are not trying the hot stuff, eh? Too bad. Maybe next time. I get your food ready now. We talk more later.” He hurried back to the kitchen, and Buffy raised her eyebrows at Spike. “Friendly. Who’d you have to eat to make things so easy for him?”
“So suspicious, Slayer. Never would have touched the last guy ran this place. Would’ve tasted like a grease trap.” He shuddered. “Wasn’t a very pleasant bloke. Don’t know who did for him, and don’t care. Just passed the word on to Al when there was a vacancy, is all. Oh, and had Dru thrall a health inspector, once. Worth it for chow this good.”
As if on cue, the waitress placed a large, steaming bowl of what looked like chunks of meat in blood sauce in front of Spike. It was topped with chopped onions, some leafy herb stuff, and a little bowl of quartered limes on the side. Buffy looked down at her hamburger with some relief. It seemed normal enough. Spike sighed happily and squeezed a couple of limes over the blood concoction. “Want a taste, Slayer? This is the real deal, right here.”
“I cannot say no in enough ways to fully answer that, Spike. Since when are we ‘tasting buddies’, anyway? And, no to the chunky blood soup. Again.”
“Your loss, then.” Spike took a huge spoonful, and proceeded to work through the bowl, with obvious enjoyment. “This is a nice Mexican lamb stew. Or goat, maybe. Everybody does it different. S’not blood, just spices and chiles that give it that gorgeous color.” He dipped an onion ring into the sauce and munched happily.
Buffy had to admit that the stuff, while looking too much like vampire chow for comfort, smelled amazing. She continued to nibble at her burger, and push the fries around her plate. Food was not on the Buffy menu, apparently. It had been the weirdest of days, and it didn’t seem to be getting any less so. She gave up on pretending to eat.
“Okay, what’s this proposition you wanted to talk about? I don’t think our previous deal still stands. You’re supposed to be gone. I should slay you now.” She made no move to do so, however.
Spike sighed. In a very reasonable tone, he said, “Now, Slayer. You don’t want Dru wandering around without a keeper. Which, I admit, is what she’s doing at the mo’. I’ll find her right quick, though. Tonight. Know I said you’d never see us again, and I meant it. Bloody embarrassing, really.”
“What are you offering this time, Spike? I don’t know of any apocalypse on the horizon that you can help me out with. We could just do our usual. Meaning, I could kick your ass and that would guarantee the never-seeing-again, all on its own. No help required from you.”
“Don’t think you’re in any condition to take on both of us, Slayer. Had a deal, though, and mean to keep it.” He waved off her protests. “Not important. Yeah, you’re a right tough bird and all. Don’t intend to argue the point. Thing is, you’re needing a bit of a start here. In a new town, see? So, I’ll get you going. See that you’ve got a job, and someplace vamp-proof to stay. No one asking pesky questions, that way. What do you say?”
“How can you do all that, rustle up Dru the wandering cow, and be ‘never-see-me-again’ guy in one night?” Buffy challenged.
Spike's eyes flashed dangerously at the slight to Dru. For a moment, Buffy thought he might storm off, but he finally relaxed and said, “For me to know. Do you accept the terms?”
“I . . . don’t know. You’re evil, Spike! How can I just let you go?”
“Look, Slayer. You just saved the world, with a little help from evil ol’ Spike. Wasn’t that easy to do, right? You deserve that break you were going on about. All I’m asking is the chance to meet my obligation to you. Made you a promise, see?”
Why did he have to sound so calm and reasonable? It was exhausting.
“I don’t . . . I think . . . I . . . okay! One night. Then it’s slayin’ time. Got it?”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way. Hey, Al!” Spike yelled toward the kitchen. Alfonso poked his head out, then came over to their table. He nodded happily at Spike’s empty bowl, and shook his head a little at Buffy’s nearly untouched plate. “So, Mr. Spike. Good like you remember?”
“Yeah, top drawer, like always. Say, Al, my friend here just came to town, and she’s looking to get settled in. Know of any openings ‘round here? She’s a hard worker. I can vouch for that.” He rubbed the back of his head, ruefully. “Oh, your cousin still manage those apartments over on 10th?”
Alfonso nodded happily, “Yes, yes, I know of two places looking for waitresses right now. The food isn’t so good as here, but where is it, eh? Chuy, he still manage the apartments. La migra come through last week, so he maybe have some empty. You want me to call? I can do it.” He looked back and forth between Buffy and Spike, still nodding excitedly.
Buffy shot him a small smile. “If it isn’t too much trouble. I’m okay for tonight, though. Really.”
Alfonso began shaking his head firmly. “No, no. We call now, then tomorrow you go see. First thing. I call my friends with the cafes now, too. You go see in the morning, yes? That okay, Mr. Spike?”
Spike chuckled. “Yeah, mate, that’d be fine. You go on, pet. Let Al know when he’s done enough, right? I’ll go take care of that other matter we discussed.”
Alfonso beckoned her toward the kitchen and the promised phone. Buffy followed, slowly. He chattered away, weighing Buffy's options and decided that the restaurant closer to Cousin Chuy’s apartments was the best choice, because at least the coffee was good there. Apparently. It was all a little overwhelming.
She looked back at Spike with wide eyes, but he was already tossing bills onto the table and turning to leave. At the door, he turned back briefly and ducked his head almost respectfully at her, then left without another word.
Through the glass, she suddenly noticed the pale, furious face of Drusilla. She watched as Spike strode over to Dru and began to speak to her. With great calm, from the looks of it. Drusilla pushed him back, gestured angrily toward Buffy, and began swaying and clutching her head. Spike stepped closer and tried to speak to her, gently, but was again firmly rebuffed, this time with claws. Buffy wondered if she should step in. Spike looked skyward, took a deep breath, and then unceremoniously grabbed Dru around the waist, and threw her over his shoulder. He marched off into the gloom, Dru pounding on his back, and soon was gone.
Huh. If he really got out of town, he would have managed everything in about 10 minutes. Buffy felt like she’d been had, somehow. It should have been harder. Everything was hard. Normally. She heard Alfonso calling her from the kitchen.
“Miss Summers. Chuy says you come at noon, he have a place for you. Good price. Okay?” Buffy walked over to Alfonso by the wall phone in a corner of the kitchen. “Sure, that’s great. Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it.”
“You come back here for breakfast, yes. You try the chilequiles then. Mr. Fontana, he say to come at 10AM for waitress job. You talk first, then maybe work afternoon shift to start. Make sure he pay you the right money. Sometimes these guys, they try a fast one, yes? You be strong. Be ready to fight for do the right thing, yes?”
“I guess I can do that,” she said.
As she walked back to the hostel, the route blessedly vamp-free, she mulled it over. Was she ready? She hadn’t managed to work herself up to fight Spike, which should have been Job One. That hadn’t gone so badly, though she suspected she’d regret it eventually. She sighed as she dropped into her bed for the night. Maybe things would be less confusing tomorrow. Drifting off, she remembered her dream from the train that morning. Helping-hand Spike. It didn’t seem so weird now. She wondered, as she fell into sleep, if she should have thanked him.
1) Yes, I know Buffy leaves town on a bus in BTVS, but if Drusilla can take the train to town in Season 5, why not let Buffy have the same pleasure? Plus it gets her in the neighborhood I wanted her to go to in LA.
2) It bugged me that there were so few Hispanics on Buffy, and those few not until Season 7. A California without Hispanics is a California I have never known. And I’ve lived here a loooong time.
3) When in San Francisco, you can try Dolores Rio's magnificent bírria at Los Jarritos Restaurant at South Van Ness & 20th Street. Weekends only. Onion rings not available.
Claro = Of course
Cabrón = Bastard (friendly)
Comida = Food, cooking
Bírria = ¡Spicy! goat or lamb stew
La migra = Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
Chilequiles = Scrambled egg, tortilla, and chiles