Chapter summary: Wasn't the recurring wet dream of being mauled by a sarcastic jungle cat enough?
"Should have known it'd be like this."
"With a slayer?"
"With you." on and on and on and
The pornographic slow-mo replay bombarding all five of Buffy's senses crunched to a sobering halt. Your best friend is on the phone. Try to stay in the now. And stop fondling your boobs.
"Uh-huh! I'm here, Will." She hopped out of bed and headed to her window. Maybe a bath of blinding sunlight would keep her mind awake. "What's up?"
"I... just told you what's up."
"Right." The topic of discussion was what sent her traitorous brain to Smutland in the first place. It didn't make sense: a whole week had passed, but the acid flashbacks were getting more frequent -- and more intense. Wasn't the recurring wet dream of being mauled by a sarcastic jungle cat enough? He had to monopolize her days too? "I know."
"Are you okay, Buffy? You've been kinda space-casey ever since ghost town night. Space-casey and oddly cheerful. Did something... happen to you there?"
Oh, god. Did Willow know? Eugh, was it Oz's dog-sniffing power? Or, double eugh, could everyone tell that she didn't just fight Spike? That they'd -- Ohhhhh. Ohhhhh. Ohhh, Buffy. -- She shut her eyes. Go. Away. "I told you what happened, Will. Just another action-packed slay ride."
"You keep doing that. I've never seen you so ...obliterated, but you keep making light." She lowered her voice. "Did Angel show up? Is that what happened?"
"Shyeah. If Angel had showed..." Buffy didn't want to consider what could have happened if he had; there were no favorable outcomes to that scenario. "You'd know."
"Buffy," Willow said, sounding especially earnest, "I get that these past few weeks have been super hard for you and there's no way I can truly understand what you're going through, but you're not alone. You have me and Giles and Xander and Oz, and sort of even Cordelia maybe; and I'm here if you ever want to talk. About anything. You know that, right?"
"Of course," said Buffy, feeling the guilt. "I know that. And I really appreciate it. Really."
Truth be told, she did want to talk about it. Keeping it inside was driving her mildly batty. But how could she share without sounding like a total skank? A skank with a skanky craving for more skankiness? Fun fact: my ex-boyfriend's archrival has the tongue of the Devil! I know because I begged him to slither it all over my body until I gushed like a firehose! Several times! And now, a week later, while he and my ex and their mutual sweetie are likely plotting my violent demise, all I can think is will I ever find a tongue that good again? Or for that matter, a perfectly curved, thick, hard--
"Anyway." Phone on her shoulder, Buffy hastily unwrapped a cherry blowpop. The bag she'd bought a few days earlier was nearly empty. Not that she'd developed an oral fixation or anything. "You were saying? About that guy you saw last night."
"It wasn't just some guy," Willow said. "It was him. He had the hair and everything!"
"Hmm." Buffy twirled the lollipop in her mouth and popped it out. "Maybe you saw Billy Idol."
"In our high school parking lot? Getting out of the same black car that was parked outside the saloon?"
Even as she thought Way to keep a low profile, moron, a teensy weensy part of Buffy hoped he was there looking for her. For sex. Lots and lots and lots of-- "Well, you know, Spike was kind of a leader. It's possible he had followers who strove to carry on the torch of bad style."
"Buffy, did you actually see him die?"
She was hoping to avoid point-blank questions of this ilk. "Look, even if I didn't, he's barely a threat."
"How can you say that? He lives with Angel, he's killed two slayers, he's--"
"All valid points, but he's kind of--" Given me multiple orgasms. "Not like the others."
An excellent question. "He has a weakness." Twist my nipples and lick your lips. "Drusilla! I threaten her, and blam, Spike's mine. I mean -- not mine; I mean, blam, I've got him right where I want him. Not that I... want. You know what I mean, right?"
There was a baffled pause. "Rrright... but--"
"The point is, I need to focus my energy on public enemy number one. I can't get distracted by," tongue, fingers, thrusting, "other guys. Vampires. Things! Whatever." She shook it off. "Angel's counting on that. For all we know, that Spike-a-like was a decoy."
"You think so?"
"Sure; send me on a wild Spike chase when I think he's dead and dusted, that's one way to keep me busy."
"Wouldn't he have sent him to the Bronze, then? The place you're more likely to be on a Friday night?"
Actually, the place Buffy was most likely to be on a Friday night was right here in her bedroom, listening to Journey on repeat while pretending a creamsicle was a vampire's tongue. A poor substitute, as it turns out. "You're assuming Spike has a brain."
"I thought you said it wasn't Spike."
Back, meet corner. Corner, back. "It's not! But, for a Spike impersonator, acting stupid would be true to character. Don't you think?"
"O-kay. But what if Spike -- or, Spike-a-like -- made off with an important book?"
Buffy sighed. That was probably exactly what he was there for. "And gave it to Angel."
"Giles might be there by now. We should call."
"We should." The line beeped and she glanced at the caller ID. "Speak of the watcher. I'll call you back, okay? We'll get to the bottom of this Spike-a-likeness." Rolling her eyes, she pressed a button. "Couldn't have called five minutes ago?"
"Nothing." She sat on her bed, preparing for bad news. "Let me guess, Doomsday for Dummies is on the checkout log."
Giles spoke over her, "Might I trouble you to come to the library straight away?"
"Why?" Sensing the festering dread beneath his cheerful tone, she sat up. "What is it; what happened?"
"Well, it's..." He tittered nervously. "Rather bizarre, to say the least. It needs to be seen to be believed."
Her stomach clenched. Spike was in cahoots with Angel. Goddammit. "Another offering from my ex?"
"Well, it's an offering, all right--"
"You know how I hate surprises, Giles. Tell me now."
He took a deep breath. "Angelus and Drusilla are imprisoned in the book cage."
She had trouble comprehending. "Huh?"
"Yes. Hanging from the ceiling of the book cage. They appear to be bound together in a sort of ...Japanese fashion."
Oh. My. God.
She blinked, and returned the phone to her ear. "Y-yeah, I'm here. Are they conscious?"
"Yes, but they're gagged and from what I can see, completely immobile. Not to mention, quite naked. They're also in danger of being struck by direct sunlight in the next few hours. I'm tempted to let that happen." He lowered his voice. "Buffy, who on earth could have done this?"
A smile threatened her lips. "I... have no idea."
"Buffy?!" her mother's voice blared from downstairs. "There's something here for you!"
Did her heart seriously flutter at the possibility of that something being Spike? She needed an intervention. "Let me call you right back, Giles." She tossed the phone aside and opened her door. "What is it?"
"Come see for yourself."
After racing down the steps, she paused at the threshold, stunned by a large, brightly-colored box on the front porch.
"A Hello Kitty Dream Castle," Joyce said, perplexed. "Didn't you want one of these about ten years ago?"
Buffy found something wedged beneath the lopsided pink bow -- a postcard for a tacky roadside motel called Happy Journeys. When she flipped it over, she chuckled and wiped at a fallen tear. "I'd kind of given up hope."
Beside the key scotch-taped on the motel's printed address, he'd written:
Don't stop believing.
So. Does Buffy immediately pack an overnight bag, wriggle into her cutest lingerie and take a taxi to the motel, leaving Angelus and Dru to Giles' mercy? Hell yes she does.