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Bring It On Home

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Throughout the following few weeks, Spike was surprised to find himself building a solid routine along with the Scoobies. He woke up around noon then went down to have lunch with the Scoobies and any slayer that decided to join them, waiting for the sun to get low enough to allow him to get to the courtyard. It was fun to see the little slayers gradually warm up to him, so much so that some of them got to actively flirting with him — which was never unwelcome, especially coming from powerful and attractive ladies. After lunch, he either spent his time trading jabs with Dawn, Xander, and occasionally Giles and Buffy, or they decided to watch some telly together before the shades were long enough. 

The more time passed, the more the Scoobies seemed to completely relax around him as well, including Giles: after the first few tense days, the two of them had stopped nearly all hostilities in order to defend British music and television from Dawn and Harris's ridiculous jabs. After a while, he started suspecting that it was all a ruse so that he and the watcher could make peace and get along with each other. One day Harris even admitted, over a couple of pints, that he’d decided not to beat up Spike about his disappearing act because he’d been sure that everyone else would do that quite enough already; that had been when Spike convinced himself that the boy was trying his best to make him get along with the watcher. He couldn’t help feeling boggled by it all but, at the same time, the Scoobies and their easy banters and smiles were a tad too pleasant for him to complain.

And yeah, Giles still wasn't his favourite person on the planet, and he was fairly certain the watcher could say the same for him. But the more time passed, the more Spike convinced himself that much of the rage the man had shown him at his arrival actually stemmed from Giles’s own anger at himself and his own mistakes towards Buffy, rather than the vampire’s. Sure, the watcher still sent a few jibes his way, now and then; but Spike’s own jabs had him more and more convinced that he was just having a hard time admitting even to his own stubborn, watcher self just how very fine he was with Spike’s presence in the castle.

Not that Spike himself was at all pleased by the growing ease he and the stuck-up watcher seemed to share; or the way the man seemed to be the only one of the Scooby lot to have something even resembling good taste; or the exasperated glances they exchanged whenever Xander got to be too… Xander-like ; or the fun he could have playfully riling up the man while they trained the slayers together… No, of course he wasn’t pleased by any of this. It was just another one of the absurdities of living with the Slayer and her merry band of weird little friends, and he was just going to stick with it because of… convenience. Yeah, that was it.

So weeks went on and he spent a good deal of time with them every day until, as soon as the sun allowed, he went to the courtyard to kick some slayer butt, where Giles usually followed. 

Sometimes Buffy left him to that, going on missions outside the castle in the country surrounding it; other, sweeter times, she joined him in the training sessions. Those were the days he preferred the most, when he was equally divided between wanting to look his best and do his best work, and wanting to look at her and making a mess of himself against her little slayers. He liked to think that he was able to keep his eyes on the prize; but at times, it was just so hard not to send her glances while they trained, and he got a ridiculous — and ridiculously distracting — thrill every time he caught her looking his way.

But sometimes keeping his attention on his opposing slayer wasn’t that hard at all. He still had eyes, after all, and some of these ladies were outright stunners. Add to that that they were actively trying to kick his butt and he was a happy vamp.

His current situation was that three lovely girls were doing their damn best to throw him to the ground — and it really was their best, down to flirting jokes and looks meant to distract him. Thankfully, by that point most of the castle residents had gotten used to him, and some of them clearly had no issues showing more than a passing interest towards their newest roommate, especially when the watcher wasn’t around to roll his eyes at their antics — like these three. As for Spike, he enjoyed the hell out of the attempts to distract him and flirted right back, getting a jolt of satisfaction whenever a roll of his tongue behind his fangs made one of them lose her footing.

In the end, he threw himself at one of them, making her fall against the others in a graceless lump of bodies, and with a growl he seized two throats with his hands and placed his fangs a hairbreadth from the third. Her little pant of surprise sounded all too pleased to his ears and he couldn’t help but chuckle and waggle his eyebrows at her, their faces still dangerously close to each other, before he released the other two and moved back.

“And that’s why you should count on each other rather than attacking alone when you’re in a group.” He winked at them and shrugged off his vamp face while they got up with more or less big smiles on their lips.

“Well, that’s a lesson we won’t forget,” said the girl who’d just had his fangs on her neck, her smile huge and genuine and still helplessly flirty.

“Won’t you?” Came Buffy’s voice from the side, and Spike had to force himself not to jolt at her stern tone. “I thought we’d covered this already, but you seemed pretty helpless to me there.”

“Don’t sweat it, boss,” he said with a conciliatory smile, sorry to see the three slayers look chastised. “They did hold their own for quite a while before you arrived, after the watcher left for a phone call.” Got the bruises to prove it, too , he thought, but avoided to mention out loud. “And it’s just hard to beat me,” he added with a grin and another wink to the girls, one of whom looked actually shy at that. Too damn cute.

“Is it, now,” said Buffy and he turned back to her, finding her staring at him with a raised brow. “I seem to remember differently…”

“Pft, that was then. Did I mention how I bested a demon lord, in LA?”

“No, actually, you didn’t. Want to accompany me to a mission and tell me all about LA?” she asked in a sweet tone and he had to refrain from gulping. Walked right into that one.

“Ma’am?” Came Satsu’s voice from somewhere; she’d been observing the fight too, as she almost always did, but had refrained from commenting until then. “I thought we’d go together for today’s mission?”

“Change of plan,” said Buffy, keeping her sweet smile on Spike. He looked away, just in time to see Satsu’s face fall for half a second and then go back to her usual composed expression. He blinked at that and then he felt like something clicked in his head, finally understanding a lot more about the girl — and the way he and she acted with each other.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll just keep on training the girls then.”

“I told you, stop calling me that…”

“Yes, ma’am.” Her almost-cheeky grin was back in place, Spike finally seeing it for what it was: flirting. “Janice, Francesca, Waltraud: let’s see if you can act together against me, now.” The other slayers sent one last smile his way but he was too busy staring at Satsu to do more than nod at them: she was looking slightly tense and before turning to the other three girls she sent him a quick stare, then looked at Buffy for a second.

Oh, you’ve got it bad, girl.

“Spike? Are you going to join me sometime today?”

He nodded and grinned a bit at Buffy, but while they left the courtyard he went back to look at the Asian slayer. So that was why she never stopped being curt with him and virtually never smiled in his direction, and why he’d found something familiar in the way she looked at Buffy… she looked at her the way he himself must look at her. And Dawn’s comment on them secretly sleeping together, his first night at the castle, must have left an impression on the girl. He grimaced a bit and stopped himself from shaking his head; clearly, Satsu wasn’t paying much attention to the way Buffy looked at him. She spent a lot of time with him, sure, and was delightfully at ease most of the time; but there was no real flirting, no interest beyond reconnection and genuine friendship that Spike could see. He hoped she’d cut this jealousy act soon, because he was getting more and more convinced that, while he was as in love with Buffy as ever, their relationship wasn’t getting anywhere more romantic than an intimate friendship.

“You know, if you keep ignoring me this way I’ll have to think I’m getting boring with age,” she said at some point. He blinked and looked at her before grinning.

“We’re just keeping you around because of your fists, pet, by now you’re too old to be interesting.”

She seemed shocked to silence for a couple of seconds but then her grin came back.

“‘We’?”

“Scoobies and I,” he nodded, his grin getting wider.

“Yeah, I’ve noticed how you’re bonding with Xander, of all people.”

“And Giles’s next, mark my words. We’ll be positively inseparable by the end of this winter, the best of pals.” She laughed and his insides did a little backflip. Still, after weeks of almost daily jabs and smiles, every laughter by this woman made him feel like a new man.

They kept making jokes about Spike taking over the Scoobies while they retrieved a bunch of weapons, and it was only when they were almost out of the castle that he was able to drag his attention away from her smile.

“So, this mission… dangerous stuff?”

“Nah, not really. There’s talk of a group of demons in a town up north, but my main objective is finding more about that damn sign.”

“Ah… the DC business. So, anyone got a theory, or are we still on Harris’s idea that this is just a bunch of comic books fans?”

Buffy grimaced a bit and shook her head.

“No can do on the theories, not yet. Every time we pummel demons, we get nothing… so I thought of changing our tactics a bit.”

“Oh?”

“I was thinking… you’re a demon.” He smirked at her and nodded once, amused. “So you’ve gotta have some demon friends, right?”

“Right, that’s true. But they’re on the other side of the pond.”

Buffy’s eyes glazed over for a few seconds, until she shook her head and looked at him apologetically.

“Sorry, just… it’s still weird to think of you with actual friends.” He narrowed his eyes and she rushed to add, “I mean, I know it’s stupid, but I’m just so used to seeing you alone, and obsessed with just…” Me , he knew she’d wanted to say. His jaw tensed while she fluttered her hands and looked down before continuing in a rushed voice. “Well, anyway, sorry, of course you have friends. You told me about the fish…”

“Yeah,” he replied, curt and hoarse.

“But didn’t you say he’s telepathic? Couldn’t he use his powers to, I don’t know, search for this DC stuff around the country?”

“Can’t really reach all the way here, slayer. And besides, he’s probably busy with Beck, the girl’s always getting in trouble, these days…”

“Beck?”

Was that interest in her voice? Perhaps even, dare he say it, jealousy? He repressed a smirk and nodded.

“Yeah, lovely girl, went through some bad stuff and now controls fire. Has a shitton of power, too, which makes it easy for a young thing like her to get in trouble.” He smirked at her and couldn’t help but dream of seeing some real jealousy in her closed expression. “Remind you of someone?”

She smiled a little but her expression was still too taken aback for it to seem too genuine.

“It’s… well…”

“Strange, to know I have people I care about besides you and your little band of Scoobies?” He looked to the side and took out a cigarette, lighting it quickly. “Yeah. Life goes on and all that rot.”

“We could have been a part of it, if you’d let us.”

Her tone was chillier now and he bristled, sucking hard at his fag and counting to ten before answering. Before he could, she stopped and he saw that they’d reached what looked like a garage: they went inside in silence and he followed her to one of the cars, a well-used jeep. Once they were inside, he took a deep drag from his fag and then exhaled hard.

“Already apologized, Slayer. Buffy. Don’t know what else to do, but if you’re still angry at me, let it out. And if you want me to leave…” he looked down at his feet, feeling his anger sag out of him. “Let it out.”

There were a few more moments of tense silence before she sighed. He looked at her and she seemed a bit more relaxed, even though she was looking down at her hands on her lap.

“No, I don’t want you to go. It’s still strange, seeing you so friendly with…” she seemed to stop herself for a second then continued, “well, with everyone. And yes, I’m still a bit angry. But you’re right, you’ve apologised, and now it’s on me to get past it.”

He nodded and they stayed silent for a few more seconds. Then he risked a grin at her and nodded to the steering wheel in front of her.

“You sure that attempting at my life with your driving skills is on the road to get past your anger?”

She tsked and scoffed, visibly holding back a smile and sending him a glare instead.

“I’ll have you know,” she sniffed while putting the keys in and starting the car, “that my driving has improved in the past year. A lot .”

He gave an exaggerated nod when the car started with a jump, before she seemed to take control and left the garage in a more normal way.

“I can see that, yes.” He gave her a pointed look and couldn’t help but smile widely at the colour that rose to her cheeks.

“Shut up.”

“Bitchy.”

“You were telling me about that demon in LA?” she asked, again with a sweet tone and smile, and he muttered another bitch under his breath. “I heard that. Now spill, what was that about?”

“Shouldn’t you tell me about today’s mission, pet?”

“Don’t ‘pet’ me,” she glared at him; he had to bite his lip to refrain from answering her. Always wanna pet you, luv, you should know that. “We have an hour and a half of driving, so you have plenty of time. Now spill.”

Spike bit back a grin at her bossy tone, which still never failed to turn him on, and decided for a big sigh instead.

“Well, first of all there was the dragon…”

He didn’t tell her everything, because Christ knew he didn’t need to fall into a depressed state right before a mission; but he did cover most of the bases, and the more he talked, the more he felt like a tight knot somewhere in his chest was coming loose. As for her, she didn’t ask many questions and mostly let him talk, which he was thankful for. Somehow, being free to decide where to lead the story both frightened him and let him breathe a bit more freely. He steered clear of those bits that might bring yet more tension between them — no need to tell her about Spider and her special kind of prison tension-relief system, nor about all the other girls... or the dragon’s new name — but forced himself to bit out some of the nastier bits. He had to stop for a few seconds when he told her about Illyria killing Jeremy. Part of him thought it was ridiculous, seeing as the chatty boy was all back to life and enjoying his engagement too, but he couldn’t help biting his lip and staying silent for a while. And he couldn’t help exhaling a sigh of relief when she moved her hand to squeeze his for a few seconds, a sad look on her eyes.

He went on to tell her what Angel came up with to destroy the demon lords and finally send Wolfram & Hart and their hell out of the city. She did start asking questions when he mentioned Connor, and he couldn’t help but grin at how she still had obvious issues with wrapping her head around the concept of Peaches having a kid, and a grown-up one at that.

When he stopped talking they were silent for a few minutes and he felt the urge to reach out and touch her, somehow. She’d made him talk about things he’d never really mentioned out loud, and it hurt as hell but also felt right . And now, he was left with the need to show her how much he appreciated her, her friendship, the way she opened up to him — and made him open up to her. It was the stuff of dreams. He sent her an intense look for a few seconds, glad that she kept her eyes on the road. How could he ever make a move for more, and risk something as precious as this? How could he ever risk losing this — especially considering how bad it could get between the two of them?

Yes, her every smile still managed to light him up. And yes, the flirting and attention he got from the other slayers were nothing more than a fun bunch of instants, compared to the way her laugh brightened entire hours of his days. But one day… surely, one day he could move on. The thought still hurt like hell, but now it seemed like a dull pain, one he could learn to live with. The idea of losing this bond was so much more painful, of ruining it for something that would crash and burn like they'd probably be doomed to do again — he didn’t really want to consider it.

She looked at him then, a questioning smile on her beautiful face.

“You all right there? I told you you’re in good hands, no need to compulsively check that I can actually drive.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” he smirked, trying for a less tender and more just-friends look in his eyes. “So, about the mission?”

“Ah, yes.” Buffy accepted the shift to less soul-baring topics with a smile and another soft squeeze of his hand that sent a little thrill up his arm. “Well, I was thinking that maybe you could go all evil vamp and pretend to be on their side before we kill them. Get some intel, see if we can finally find out what the hell those two letters stand for.”

“Fair enough. And what kinda demons are they?”

“They’re a mix of different species, actually. We even get the surprise, Christmas got here early!” She added in a peppy tone, making him smile broadly at her.

God, Summers, the things you do to me.

They spent the rest of the drive ironing out some of the details but there wasn’t much to the plan: go in, ask some questions, give Buffy the signal and start killing left and right.

When they finally arrived at the town he was well and truly ready for the fight. They rode around the place for a while, looking for signs of the demons’ gathering; when he finally smelled non-humans, he got out of the car and let her go find a parking spot while he walked to the house that seemed to host the party. He vamped and threw the door open, ignoring the protests of the big Chirago demon that was probably guarding it and striding into what had to be the living room. There were at least twenty demons inside the wide hall, of various kinds, and quite a few of them stopped talking and turned to stare at him.

Right. Time to shine.

He smiled his nastiest grin and strode forward, nicking the drink off a Carnyss and taking a sip of it before speaking.

“So, I’m told this is where I can ask about this whole DC business.” He grimaced slightly at the drink and threw the glass back to the Carnyss behind him, clapping his hands and grinning to the room. “Me, I’m a fan of Mefisto, so it’s mostly been Marvel on my shelves.” And I can thank Xander Harris for making me a nerd, too.

“Vampire,” growled a Grox’lar on his left. Spike had to beat down the urge to throw himself at him and twist his huge neck. “You’re not welcome here.”

“And why the hell not? Here I am, taking a damn nice trip through good ol’ Scotland, and I hear say about a demon gathering — which I haven’t been invited to. Really, my unbeating heart is hurt.”

“Gaxur,” seethed a little goblin-lookalike, “why did you let him through?”

“He’s stronger than he looks,” murmured Gaxur, the huge Chirago demon he’d pushed aside to enter. Spike winked at him and then turned back to the room, noticing he had the attention of more and more of the demons.

“Right on. So, where’s the mayhem? Point me to the virgins, it’s been a while since I’ve had me some of that.”

“You’re not welcome here,” came the low voice of the Chirago, now at his shoulder.

Spike rolled his eyes and then in a quick move he grabbed the demon by the arm and dislocated his shoulder, then used the same arm to slam him to the ground and keep him there. He kept his hold tight and looked back up at the other demons, who had left their drinks and were staring at him with hatred.

“Wanna try it again? Come on, people,” he said with a jerk to the beast’s arm, making him cry out. He saw a collective wince on the crowd’s face, regardless of their kind, and he narrowed his eyes. Demons who care? I don’t like the look of this. “What about this DC stuff?”

Another goblin-lookalike pushed his way forward, his eyes wide and scared, but his tone was firm even through his obvious fear.

“Let him go, vampire. We don’t need to fight you.”

Spike wiggled the guy’s arm some more with a sneer, but he couldn’t help but feel wrong about it when he saw the little goblin guy wince hard.

“No, you just need to tell me about the DC —”

He was interrupted by the Grox’lar, who threw himself bodily at him and managed to let him lose his grip. He went tumbling to the floor, the demon fighting him wasting no time to kick him in the gut and then between his legs, and he gasped and saw stars.

“You’re not welcome here,” he hissed, and with another strong kick he sent him rolling towards the door, where he was stopped by someone’s boot against his back.

“Well, Spike, remind me not to let a vamp do a slayer’s job, next time.”

He stopped gasping and looked up: she was shining, and she was hot, and oh Christ, did he have to be this pathetic?

Buffy offered him a hand up and he took it — not because he really needed to, mind you, but because Christ but that was a fucking low blow — but by then the demons were in a panic, yelling and thrashing against each other to get to the other side of the room, trying to flee from an obviously pissed-off slayer (and a mighty vampire too, of course).

“Please, don’t, we aren’t —”

The voice of one of the little goblin demons was overcome by the Grox’lar’s roar as he rushed him again, his dark eyes full of rage, and Spike vamped and roared himself as the demon sent him crashing against the wall. They grappled together for a few furious seconds, until Spike punched him hard enough to roll them and slam the beast against the wall, letting out yet another roar as he pounded his fists in his ugly mug. He was distantly aware of the goblin’s anguished cries and of the other demons’ bellows, and he faltered for a moment — and then a small hand grasped his shoulder and jerked him to the side in a hard move.

Wait a second. Anguished cries?!

“Buffy, wait —”

“Enough with the beating,” came her curt voice, and in a swift move she impaled the Grox’lar with her sword.

“Buffy, no, wait ,” he stuttered, but he stopped when he heard gasps and cries from the crowd of demons around them. He looked at Buffy for a second while she took her sword out of the gurgling demon, then jumped to his feet and placed himself between her and the others. And looking at them, he couldn’t help but think of that word again: anguished. What the fuck was going on?

“Enough!” came the terrified voice of one of the little goblins, who was trying his best to hold back his twin, snarling and with murder in his eyes. Spike felt Buffy move towards the demons but held her back with his arm. “Why — you didn’t need to — let us help him, slayer!”

He risked a glance at her and saw her narrow her eyes at the little green guy, who apparently was somehow also stopping everyone else from jumping them.

“Will you tell us about this DC stuff, if I do?”

The angry goblin yelled and pushed harder against his friend at that, but he held fast.

“We can’t —”

“And we won’t , you bitch —”

“Shut up!” Roared Spike then. He was sick and tired of this confusing mess and he took a step forwards, satisfied when both the little goblins stepped back at that, the rest of the group shuffling and growling but staying put. “What is this? Are you all friends , now, all worried about each other?”

More growls and whispers came from the group of demons then, and the calmer of the two goblins finally pushed the other one behind him. Then he visibly gulped and took a small step towards Spike, his eyes skittering between him and Buffy and the wheezing demon on the ground behind them.

“Yes. We’re friends.” Spike raised his eyebrows at that and felt Buffy shift behind him. The goblin licked his lips in a nervous gesture and fixed his gaze on her for a few moments, before going back to looking at the Grox’lar. “So please. Let us help him. We thought slayers only killed dangerous demons.”

“I told you,” seethed the other goblin, but without moving forwards again. “I told you we couldn’t trust the lot of ’em. She’s the head of the slayers and look at what she’s done!”

Spike growled at him and he shut his mouth. But he kept his hateful eyes on him, while he nodded to the calmer goblin.

“What did you expect us to do?”

“He’s a baby-eater,” said Buffy then, her voice clipped and hard. “I’ve killed a bunch of them just a few weeks ago after they killed a family of four, and now you’re telling me I didn’t need to do it?”

“That was a different tribe —”

“Yeah, one with the DC symbol on them,” she said clearly, then in a second she had her sword at the little goblin’s throat. The other demons yelled at that but they stayed put, and Spike could see genuine worry in some of their eyes — at least the ones he could recognise as having eyes. “Tell us what it is.”

“It’s the Dark Carnival!” said the goblin in a rush, and the other demons yelled again until Spike quieted them with another roar. “DC stands for Dark Carnival, and I don’t know why you saw it on those baby-eaters, but Astur isn’t —”

“Oh, of course, he’s a good Grox’lar demon!”

“Slayer,” Spike interjected with an intense look at her. “Let the little goblin talk.” She looked taken aback at that but quieted down, even though her sword stayed where it was.

“We’re a group of demons from all over Europe,” he started again in a rush, generating hisses and growls from the others, “and we’re just here for the Dark Carnival — a peaceful gathering!”

“Yeah, sure you are. That’s why you told the local slayers about it, right?” Asked Buffy, but Spike could hear a little bit of uncertainty in her tone too now.

“This is exactly why we never told you,” hissed the other goblin, his face a mask of contempt. “You hero-types, thinking you’re the best in the world — murdering first, asking questions later.” Spike narrowed his eyes at the little guy and felt Buffy shift lightly next to him, then the other goblin spoke again.

“We were… debating whether to tell you or not.” He licked his lips nervously and his eyes darted again to the Grox’lar on the ground, who was making increasingly desperate noises. “We feared you wouldn’t believe us… please, let us help him!”

Spike searched Buffy’s eyes and after a few intense seconds she moved her sword back, to the little goblin’s intense relief. She didn’t leash it but stepped to the side, and the goblin said a word that must have been a name as another demon strove forward from the mix. It was an ugly beast, at least seven feet tall, and after a long disgusted look at Buffy and him, he stepped aside them and went to the beast’s help. Spike spared a glance at the insane scene — a big, burly demon delicately checking an injury, applying pressure, and telling the Grox’lar to stay conscious in a deep rumble — and turned back to the little goblin, who was talking quickly to Buffy.

“It’s going to be on the outskirts of Edinburgh in late December, to exploit the crowds for Christmas and the New Year. We want to gather demons of all kinds, from all over Europe, to make entertainment, for other demons and for any human who’s smart enough to recognise that we’re not just the stuff of fairy tales.” He licked his lips again and looked at the two demons behind Spike and Buffy, then looked back at her with a fierce gaze. “We meant no harm to you and yours.”

“Then why did we have to bury four people?” asked Spike between gritted teeth. This time it was Buffy who stopped him from advancing too much, a hand on his arm.

“They weren’t with us!”

“But they had your symbol!”

“Slayer, we can’t control who uses our symbol, we can only warn people against violence!”

Buffy scoffed while Spike narrowed his eyes at the little guy. He couldn’t help but feel that he was sincere, if naïve, and that meant that they — Buffy and him — were in the wrong here… which really didn’t sit well with him.

“I don’t think I can agree to something like this happening on my turf, goblin.”

“Which is why we were still debating letting you know,” rushed to say the demon, while his lookalike threw his arms in the air. “I was doing my best to convince the rest of the organisers to tell you, that we could work together on this…” he swallowed and looked behind them at the Grox’lar on the ground. “I just hoped we could do it without violence.”

Spike finally stepped back and relaxed at that, letting his vamp face go with a slight head shake. He looked at Buffy and after a few tense seconds, she took out a cloth and quickly swiped her sword clean.

“If you attract that kind of attention I won’t let you do anything like this,” she said in a tense tone while putting her sword back. The little goblin gave a small breath of relief at the gesture but then looked at her pleadingly.

“Listen to me, Miss Summers,” and how weird was seeing a little goblin-lookalike call her that ? “This is what I’ve been telling everyone from the start. If we collaborate on this, we can actually do it in a safe way, both for humans and demons,” he added quickly when it looked like Buffy was going to interrupt him. “Times are changing and it’s about time that we all recognised it — humans, demons, and you slayers. We can live peacefully, if we work together.”

Spike didn’t remember joining a Sixties and hippies revival party, but maybe the goblin was just the nostalgic type…

“We just told you that a bunch of demons with your symbol killed four people. And ate two babies’ heads . I want nothing to do with anything that would bring this kind of demons’ attention!”

Spike saw the crowd of demons getting agitated again and he stepped forward with raised hands.

“All right, let’s calm down, everyone. The lady has a point. You know she does,” he added, pointing at the Chief Goblin. “So what’re you gonna do about it?”

“We can contact demon communities all over Europe,” he said in a rush, seemingly glad for the question. “We can ask your slayers to spread the world around both violent and non-violent demons — so we can keep them away and close, respectively. We can ask your witches to help with magic, we can talk with our own communities — we can work on it!”

Spike looked at the little demon, at his pleading eyes, and just knew that he really, truly believed in what he was saying. He thought back of Mosaic; of the mess those bastards had made of the place and of how they’d learned and improved since then, giving a haven to people like Beck and Betta George, and Marv and Biv and Anna, along with everyone else… he sighed and hoped his slayer wasn’t gonna kick him in the balls for this.

“All right, we’ll think about this.”

“What?!”

He sent Buffy an apologetic glance but then hardened his gaze and looked back at Chief Goblin.

If you manage to rein in your demons, we’ll talk about this. How do we contact you?”

“Spike, what the f —”

“Slayer, trust me,” he said, turning to her again. She opened her mouth but he stopped her, his hand going to her shoulder and his eyes insistent. “Please, trust me. Give me a chance.” She looked at him furiously — gorgeous goddess — then, after a beat, turned to Chief Goblin.

“You get one chance. I’ll talk about it with mine.”

“Thank you!” Exclaimed Chief Goblin with a sigh, while the other goblin next to him sent her a small sneer. Spike crashed back the instinct to smash his long green nose right into his tiny brain and just stayed put instead. “Thank you, we can do it, we really can.” He then went on to say how to contact him and Spike left Buffy to that, while he turned and looked at the Grox’lar demon. The big guy helping him out was apparently very good at his job, since he was already cleaning the wound on his back where the sword had pierced through. The wounded demon looked up and stared at him, his eyes dark and angry, and Spike couldn’t help but think of those headless babies in the wood and the look on their parents’ dead eyes. He set his jaw and forced back a growl.

“I had no bond to that clan,” the demon said, his voice low and gravelly, clearly in pain. Spike kept staring at him with anger and he stared right back; he had to give him points for guts, even though maybe it was just idiocy. “World ain’t always that simple.”

Spike inhaled hard and then forced himself not to snarl at him. He might be frustratingly insightful for a Grox’lar beast, but that didn’t really make him any less infuriating.

“We’ll be in touch,” came Buffy’s voice from his left and he turned back to her and Chief Goblin. He wondered idly what his name was, but Buffy’s tense words stopped him from asking. “Come on, Spike.”

She wasn’t looking at him, so he sent the bunch of demons one last look before turning and leaving. Chief Goblin was sending him an intense look, hope and worry in his eyes, and he didn’t know how to feel about him and his plans; Less Pleasant Goblin was sending him an intense hate glare and he damn right knew how he felt about that — but told himself, again, that punching his nose in wouldn’t be a show of good faith. With one last look at the wounded beast who still glared at him he left the place, hot on Buffy’s heels.

Now he just had to hope she wouldn’t punch his nose in.