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Chapter 9
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Betaed by: Goblin_Dae, Science, and Subtilior

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all recognizable characters, locations, and dialogue belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the various writers. This is written purely for fun.

DUST: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fanfic by KnifeEdge


It only took an hour to track down the addresses of most of the shop's repeat customer list, thanks to the miracle of the phone book. With several hours to kill until sunset, Buffy reluctantly agreed to more research. At least the backdrop was different, this time. But unlike Giles' collection—and much to her relief—the shop's was geared toward magic users of all kinds, and the books were primarily written in English. Things went much faster when you didn't have to guess which books might be helpful, and by the time Buffy's stomach announced it was dinner time, they'd already set aside three possible spells if they couldn't locate the original caster.

"I suppose you want more blood," she said, after announcing she was going out to grab dinner of some kind. Spike eyed the windows.

"I'll come with you." He stood and stretched lazily, then reached for his duster.

"It's still daylight," she said, frowning.

"Only for another hour or so. Sun's low enough I can keep to the shadows."

"Not that I care, but isn't that a little … suicidal?" Buffy asked. His casual disregard for the sunlight unnerved her. Vampires belonged to the night and the dark and cemeteries. They did not belong outside while the sun was still up, strolling down Main Street, or camped out in her house watching bad TV.

"Ever kill a vamp with sunlight, Slayer?" Spike asked as he pocketed their list of possible suspects.

Buffy thought about it for a minute, trying to remember. "No … well, sorta," she said, frowning. How strange that the sun was her most powerful weapon; yet she'd rarely had the opportunity to use it. Unlike Spike, most other vampires kept regular business hours. Still, she knew sunlight worked.

"Have you?" she asked.

Spike's mouth twisted into a smug little smile as he opened the door.

"Couple of times. It's like fire, really. Older vamps burn slower. New ones go up like they've been soaked in petrol. Little bit of light though … burns like a bitch, but if you put it out in time, you're safe." He paused on the threshold, in the shadow of the building, and studied the street. "Where we headed, Slayer?"

"Espresso Pump again, I guess," she said. "Who did you kill with sunlight?"

"The Annoying One," Spike said. He kept close to the buildings as he walked, staying in the deepest part of the shadows. It seemed pretty scanty cover to Buffy, but Spike didn't appear to be concerned. Then she realized what he'd said and felt like someone had tilted her axis a little off-center.

"Wait, you killed the Anointed One?"

"Day after our first fight, matter of fact." He grinned. "Now that was a good day. Should have seen the looks on those wankers faces when I torched Tiny Tim—that's the trouble with kid vamps, you know. Too weak to protect themselves. Never occurred to them that I wouldn't kowtow to the little tosser just because he was old bat face's pet project—What?"

Buffy had stopped to stare at him. She'd wondered a time or two what had happened to that little boy vampire. Now she knew. It was something she probably should have considered—any powerful vampire coming into new territory wouldn't just bow down to what he perceived as a weak leader; he'd want to cement his position as the head of the pack. Spike didn't strike her as the kinda vamp that took orders well; he certainly never seemed to follow hers. It made sense that he would have disposed of the Anointed One at the first opportunity. And he'd saved her the somewhat disturbing problem of what to do with a vampire that looked like, and was, in many ways, only a kid.

Still, she wasn't sure if she should be glad that Spike had done part of her job for her, or sickened by the obvious glee he took in killing a helpless … creature. When it came to Spike, however, revulsion was always the better choice. "Ewwww. You got off on killing your own kind?"

"Nah, Dru was still too weak to shag back then, but I had a nice long wa—"

Buffy slammed him up against a wall, one hand locked around his throat.

"Reconsider your need to finish that sentence, or we'll see how fast you go up. Right now." She jabbed a thumb over her shoulder, at the edge of the shadows just a few feet away.

Spike shook her off, caught her hand and sneered. "You asked, darlin'. Don't be so dainty." Then he sniffed at her fingers. "Not like you don't play in the gutter every now and then."

There were times, Buffy thought, when fighting dirty really was the best option. She lifted her knee, prepared to drive it into his groin and watched with pleasure as he immediately anticipated the move. As he lifted his leg to block her she switched her hold, grabbed him by the arm and flipped him hard onto his back only a few inches from the shadow's edge. She planted a boot on his throat and glared down at him.

"Shut up."

"You make it hurt so good, though," he gasped around the pressure. Somehow he still managed a curled-tongue leer. She ground her boot heel down on his throat, and he coughed. He raised his hands. "Was just funnin', Slayer. No need to get violent."

"New rule," Buffy growled between her teeth. "What you or I do in our … spare time is not up for group discussion. I don't want to hear about it, I don't want to see it, and I don't want to know about it. And never sniff me again. Understood?"

Spike's eyes darkened dangerously, but his tone was almost conciliatory—for someone with a kicky heel planted hard against his Adam's apple. "Hear no, see no, speak no, sniff no. Got it."

"See that you do," she said, and let him up. Spike clambered to his feet and rubbed at his throat. His gaze flickered to her feet.

"Nice boots," he said, and reached for the door to the Espresso Pump.


God, how he hated the fucking bitch.

He watched as she busied herself trying to figure out the instructions taped to the espresso machine. She was so intent on her business that she never even bothered to look his way. Bloody bint thought she had him cowed. That he'd lick her boots on her say-so.

The shadows in the shop were dense. Easy for a vampire to slip through them, silent as a shark in deep water. When he wanted, Spike could be absolutely quiet, with not even a squeak of his well-worn combat boots to betray his location. He glided closer, avoiding the chairs stacked on tables. She'd turned on the lights behind the service area but left them off in the main shop. Shadows hung thick as curtains near the open end of the service counter—the perfect spot to lurk and watch his inattentive prey.

The Slayer had tucked her hair up, exposing the long column of her throat. The pulse beating at its base hypnotized him, called to him. He was hungry, had been since he'd woken up with her hot little body plastered against him. How much better would it be to sink his fangs in and feel that warmth flood his mouth, his throat, spread through his entire body from the roots of his hair to the tips of his toes …

She frowned at the machine, jiggling a handle and pushing buttons. Her lower lip was caught between her teeth. With a sigh of frustration she turned in his direction. There was a mini fridge at his end of the service area, just below counter level, full of bottled beverages. Across from it, on the opposite side of the service area, was a workstation with a small collection of knives and napkins, spoons and sugar.

Buffy popped open the case and reached in for a bottle of water, oblivious to his presence. Easy for him to stretch out one arm and grasp the handle. He tightened his fingers and watched the vein throb just beneath the fragile skin of her throat.

Then Spike slammed the door into her face.

Buffy gasped; Spike's nostrils flared as he caught the scent of the blood dripping from her stupid nose. Slayer-quick she whipped her head around—too late, too slow, too late.

He grabbed her by her hair and yanked her back against him. The little chef's knife sliced through her throat like it was fresh butter. Hot blood gushed over his hands. He heard the rattle of air in her open windpipe, felt her hands flutter against his arm, as he sank his fangs into her gaping throat and drank


"What?" He jerked his head up to find himself standing at the end of the counter.

The Slayer was all the way across the service station, her neck whole and pristine. Damn it.

"If you're just gonna stand there, be useful and hand me that mixer thingy, would you?"

He closed his eyes for a moment and calmed himself with images of bludgeoning her to death with the mixer. Then he passed it over. She took it without even looking at him. Spike's jaw clenched.

It just wasn't right. The whole bloody situation was arse over tea-kettle. She should be watching him as warily as he watched her, be as aware of him as he was of her. Every time she moved or shifted, it brought him to attention. He found himself sometimes tapping his fingers to her heartbeat, thrilling every time he successfully brassed her off and the beat sped up. Oh, he knew he couldn't actually kill her, not yet, but she ought to be more aware of the danger he presented.

Treating him like a whipped mongrel, kicking him to the curb whenever she didn't like what he had to say, and how twisted was he that the minute she'd laid him out on the sidewalk and planted that sexy little boot of hers across his throat, he'd got a bleedin' cockstand? He'd been so turned on it was nearly painful. Fuck.

With a low growl, Spike whirled around and started pacing in front of the counter. He really wanted to kick in the glass front, but he figured she'd have some kind of strop if he did. Destruction of private property or some such rot, even though she was likely in the process of cocking up the shop's expensive little cappuccino machine herself.

What he needed was to blow off some steam, but his options were limited. Couldn't kill anything, couldn't fight anything, couldn't wreck anything, couldn't shag anything—all he could do was stand about and smoke until she'd figured out how to make herself some stupid girly drink. He wanted a fag, a rough fuck, and a cooling corpse at his heels—and a bottle of JD. Though not necessarily in that order.

She still wasn't paying attention to him.

Spike glanced around the shop, found what he was looking for, and slunk silently into the shadows.


It wasn't perfect, but Buffy managed to make a fairly decent iced caramel mocha—it helped that the recipe was taped to the counter—and gained a whole new appreciation for baristas in the process. When she finished she made sure to wash the stuff she'd used and put it back where it belonged. Then she snagged a couple of cold sandwiches out of the food case.

It took her a minute to realize that Spike was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he'd been kinda quiet since they'd come in. She vaguely recalled him handing her something a few minutes earlier, and then … nothing.

Still, her vamp tinglies told her he was nearby.

"Spike?" she called. He didn't answer. "Come on, I'm ready to go."


Frowning, Buffy left the service area and looked around. The interior of the shop was silent, still. Chairs were stacked up on the tables, creating a screen of legs, but it was fairly obvious Spike wasn't in the main part of the café. The door to the street was closed, and it was still light enough outside that she doubted he was hanging around on the sidewalk. She checked anyway, in case he'd gone out for a smoke. No bleached vampires lurked beside the building. He'd have had to pass Buffy to get to the storeroom in back. The only other doors out of the café were the bathroom doors … but why would Spike need to use the bathroom?

Puzzled, she approached the men's room door, then hesitated just outside. Being a vampire meant that he probably wasn't using the toilet, and there was no way he was checking out his reflection. She didn't hear any water running and couldn't quite imagine Spike washing his hands anyway. So, why would he be in the bathroom? Was there something evil he could do in an empty restroom? Smoke, she supposed, though he could have done that in the main part of the café.

Should she knock? If he were human she would, just to be sure he was okay. She could kick in the door, or just walk in since it wasn't locked, but Buffy had been brought up to respect bathroom doors. Bathrooms were for private stuff, and the men's room door marked the entrance to a place where little Slayers really shouldn't go. Unless, you know, someone was getting snacked on in there.

Could Spike be snacking?

"Spike?" she called. "You in there?"

There was a pause. Then, a growled: "Yeah."

"Oh," she said. "Uh … are you busy?"

Another pause. "Little bit."

She frowned. "Doing what?"

"None of your bloody business, so sod off, Slayer."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'm ready to go, whenever you are, so … hurry up whatever you're doing."

She thought she heard him snarl something, but it was low enough she couldn't make out any words. Then he was quiet again.

There was absolutely no way he could be up to anything good in there, she reasoned. She didn't know what he was doing, but he probably shouldn't be doing it. Again, she hesitated, her hand hovering over the handle. Finally, curious, she pressed her ear against the door and listened.

At first she didn't hear anything at all, just the faint static-y sound of air rushing between her ear and the door. She listened harder. Then she heard something: a groan. There was a rustle of cloth, too and a slight jingling noise, like a belt buckle dragging along tile. A moan and a softly spoken swear word followed. Blushing, Buffy stepped back. Could he be on the toilet? Only, no, vampires didn't need to use the toilet. Their plumbing was busted. So that meant that Spike was doing something else that required his pants to be—


Oh! Blushing furiously, Buffy backed away from the door to the other side of the café. Spike was … He was … Oh. Ewwww. Gross! After their argument on the sidewalk the very first thing he'd done was …

Disgusted, Buffy sank down onto a bench seat along the wall and tried to scrub her brain of the images that were attempting to fill it. Spike leaning against the tile wall, eyes closed, teeth bared, belt undone, pants open, his hand tugging slowly on hisNo. Not thinking about that. Wrong. Bad wrong. Gross. Think about anything else. Think about … uh … witches! We have to find all the witches. Spike has the list in his pNot Going There.

She was still frantically trying to clear her mind when, a few minutes later, Spike opened the men's room door and sauntered out. There was a little smile on his face, and he seemed more relaxed than he had earlier. "Ready to go?" he asked, sounding far too cheerful.

Buffy felt her mouth open, but no words came out. She wasn't sure there were words to adequately express the amount of disgust she was feeling at the moment. It was like a whole big disgust … thing was lodged in her throat and … okay, again with the Not Going There. Her eyes seemed to drift of their own volition to the front of his pants. They weren't his usual faded jeans, either. These were tighter. Blacker. Bulgier.

"You're getting awfully drippy there, Slayer," he said.

"What?" she said, jerking her eyes back to his face.

"Your drink thing. It's melting." He nodded at the icy drink in her hand. It was, indeed, melting. She'd forgotten she was still holding it. Her other hand held sandwiches, and she'd left finger marks in the soft bread.

"Right," she said. "Uh … We should … um … A minute ago were you … uh … Never mind."

Spike just raised his eyebrows and smirked. Something about the way he tightened his jaw made the usually mocking expression obscene. Maybe it was a vampire thing. "Sorry, Slayer. Had some spare time to kill."

"Did you, uh, kill it?" Now why had she asked him that?

"Yeah," he said. "Wrung its bloody neck. You wanna eat that stuff here or at Willy's? I need a drink."

Buffy was beginning to think maybe she'd need one, too.


By the time they reached Willy's Place the sun had set. Buffy eyed the sleazy demon bar, then the sleazy demon doorhop who was standing there, eyebrows raised expectantly. What was with that, anyway? He was always opening doors for her. It creeped her out. It had to be a tactical thing—let her enter first so that he could always be at her back, where she was more vulnerable.

"I think I'm just gonna eat out here," she said. The last thing she wanted was to be stuck in that dive while Spike guzzled whiskey, or worse. Spike just shrugged, as if he couldn't care less what she did, which was probably true. He disappeared inside.

Willy's was a hole in the wall off the seedier end of Maple Court. There was a little park just down the block, though, and Buffy made her way there. She was glad for her jacket; the nights were getting cooler. The wind rustled in the trees, providing the only background noise. Now that she was aware of it, the lack of cricket chirps and other insect sounds was a little weird. There was a little picnic table under a streetlight, not far from the sidewalk. Buffy climbed up on the table and sat there, fiddling with the plastic wrap on her sandwich and thinking.

It was disappointing; the spell that morning should have worked. She didn't know what had gone wrong. Maybe Spike was right, and it was just too weak to counter the power of the original spell. Or maybe it was just the wrong kind of reversal spell. When Amy's mother had tried to kill Buffy a few years back, they'd had to get hold of her spellbook in order fix things. Maybe trying to find the original caster was the only way they'd be able to break it the magic.

Hopefully it wouldn't take too much longer. Four days of nothing but Spike was four days too many. God, he was disgusting. They couldn't have a conversation without him somehow reminding her that he was a complete monster, a killer—not to mention a total jerk. What he'd done in the bathroom turned her stomach.

"Eat up, Slayer, night's a'wasting."

Buffy started. Spike slipped out of the shadows beneath the trees and into the light. He hitched himself up on the table beside her and pulled a bottle of whiskey and a beer-sized bottle full of dark red liquid out of his duster pockets. Then he popped the cap off the smaller bottle and took a long pull from it.

She watched the muscles in his throat work as he swallowed, then shook her head, grimacing. "Is that blood?"

"Mmm, good stuff, too. Willy's been holding out on me." Spike turned the bottle; for a long minute, it looked like he was watching the way the thick liquid gleamed beneath the light. "Have to get this stuff imported special. Wanker."

"Well, enjoy it now, because you're gonna be deported the minute we break this spell," Buffy reminded him.

"Intend to," Spike said. He took another swig, then indicated her sandwiches. "You gonna eat those or mash them to a pulp, Slayer?"

"Kinda grossed out right now," Buffy said, eyeing his dinner with distaste.

Spike watched her for a long moment. His jaw clenched. Then, deliberately, he spun the cap back on the bottle and put it in his pocket. "Eat," he said. "Mine'll keep."

Buffy frowned. "What?"

"I can hear your stomach rumblin', Slayer. I already had a bottle in the bar. I don't feature listening to you bitch all night. Just eat your soddin' sandwich so we can be off. We've got nine suspects scattered all over town and no more than twelve hours til sunrise."

She wasn't sure how he did it. Every time she thought she was standing on even ground with him, he did something to tilt it. He didn't do what she expected, ever. She should have known that from the moment she met him, standing calm as you please in that alley, promising to kill her. And if she hadn't known it then, well … when he'd shown up two days early for their big fight should have been a big neon sign. Spike was never predictable, and just when she was sure she had him figured out, there he was, turning the tables again.

He picked up his whiskey, uncapped it and took a long swallow, then stared up at the sky. If she didn't know better, she'd think his expression wistful. Warily, Buffy unwrapped her first sandwich and took a bite. She watched Spike watch the sky. It took half a sandwich for her curiosity to get the better of her.

"What are you looking at?"

He glanced at her, then gave a one-shouldered shrug and took another pull from the whiskey bottle.

"Same bloody thing I've looked at every night for the last hundred plus years, Slayer—different hemispheres notwithstanding. Stars. Moon. Clouds. They move about but … never really changes, does it? Not like it does in the day."

She'd never quite thought of it that way. The daytime sky was always changing—colors, moods, trying them on and casting them off, becoming something different every hour. The night sky could be moody with clouds, but for the most part it didn't change much. The same old stars and moon in the same old dance year after year, decade after decade. It made a twisted sort of sense, really, that night time was for vampires, and daylight was for humans.

But where did that leave her? Trapped somewhere on the cusp: human, but forced to dwell in the dark with the things that go bump in the night? And speaking of those who make with the bumpies, who'd have thought Spike was that perceptive? Only, he kind of was, wasn't he?

That's what made him such a dangerous enemy—he always saw right to the heart of things, to the stuff she tried to hide and the truths it was hard for her to face.

The lamp light picked out the sharp edge of one cheekbone, the curve of his ear, and the corner of his hard jaw, etching them all in bright gold. Moonlight painted his face in silver tones. His hair glowed. Spike, a study in contrasts. At the moment he looked very human, except, of course, for the deathly pallor of his skin and the faint traces of blue veins underneath the surface. She followed his gaze up to the stars.

"I never really got constellations," she found herself admitting.

Spike glanced at her, raised his eyebrows.

"I mean, I know that the stars are supposed to make shapes and pictures and stuff. I just always had a hard time seeing them. That," she pointed, "doesn't look anything like a bear to me."

"Dru saw stuff," Spike said. "In the stars. Said she saw them dancing, said they whispered all their secrets to her. Told her the future." He snorted. "Not that that was ever helpful."

They were both quiet for a moment, then he continued. "I can't see 'em, either. I can name them but … they just look like stars to me."

"Huh," Buffy said. She finished her sandwich and started on the second one. Spike drank his whiskey.

They sat side by side, Slayer and Vampire, on common ground, studying the stars.

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