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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Three: Scooby Meeting
"Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends."
Jonathan settled gingerly onto the couch in Buffy's living room, glancing warily around at his reluctant hosts. "Um. So." He tried to smile, clasping his hands together to prevent himself from fidgeting. "What's up?"
Buffy had been leaning against the edge of the doorway, but she exploded into motion at his words. "What's up? I just found out about your spying program, that's what's up. Did you come to see what happened to your cameras?" She stalked over to him, intent clear in her face, then wound her small fist in the collar of his shirt and hauled him to his feet.
"Buffy." Giles stepped forward and laid a hand on his Slayer's upper arm, speaking calmly. "I understand your anger, but he plainly has a reason for coming here, and it might be a good idea to let him speak."
Buffy continued to stare at Jonathan a moment longer, her fierce green gaze burning into him, then unclenched her fist and let go. "Fine. But this better be good." She shook off Giles' hand and strode back to her position in the doorway, still radiating unfocused anger.
Jonathan took a deep breath, rubbing his throat where the shirt had cut into his flesh. His knees were trembling, heck, all of him was trembling, but he was determined not to collapse back onto the couch. He needed them to take him seriously, especially Buffy. No more small talk.
"I'm not here about the cameras," he said. "In fact, I'm not with Warren and Andrew anymore. I wouldn't even be in Sunnydale if they hadn't wished me back."
"Wait, you left?" Xander interrupted, entering the room. "When was this?"
Jonathan blinked, startled, at the tall young man. Normal guy or not, Xander could beat Jonathan to a pulp any day, and he looked to be in a beating mood. But what was he doing here? Xander and Anya were usually joined at the hip when they weren't at work, and Anya was... well, out doing vengeance-demony things. Jonathan was beginning to get the feeling that a lot of stuff had happened off-camera in the last few weeks.
"Wednesday night, right?" Another person? Great. Jonathan must have interrupted a full-blown Scooby meeting.
The owner of the voice followed Xander into the room, clutching a nondescript mug full of something red that steamed. "Heard there'd been a disturbance at the Hellmouth. Only you gits would be stupid enough to mess about with magic there."
Jonathan winced. He actually hadn't thought of that, at the time. It was bad enough being slapped with his own stupidity, but from Spike? Hello, evil? And, was that blood in Spike's mug?
"I kind of had to," he said, "I was looking for a place where no-one would interrupt me. I needed a disguise, and I couldn't do it at the lair, in case Warren came back early."
"So you bugged out. Where to?" Xander asked, drifting over to lean on the wall next to Buffy. Spike gave the dark-haired human a challenging glare, then perched on a chair and started sipping from the mug.
"L.A.," Jonathan replied, glancing over at Giles. If they wanted details, they were going to have to pry them out of Watcher-Guy. "It's a long story, and you'd be better off asking Wesley what happened, but I was pretty much going to hang out at Angel Investigations 'til this all blew over."
"What?" Buffy spluttered. "Angel took you in? I mean, points to you for ditching your evil crew, but I'm getting a little fed up with Angel sheltering my enemies."
Jonathan wasn't sure what she meant about Angel and enemies, but he tried to defuse her anyway. "It wasn't Angel so much, it had to do with Wesley and... um." Belatedly, it occurred to him that mentioning his new-found father might be a bad idea.
"Um?" That was Giles again, raising an eyebrow at him with a slight smile. "Do you mean Ethan Rayne?"
"Ethan? You mean the magic candy guy?" Dawn spoke up. She'd been doing a good job of making herself invisible in one of the corners, but curiosity had apparently got the better of her.
Buffy glanced over at her sister, raising one artfully plucked brow. "Yes, that Ethan. Why don't you go upstairs now, Dawn, and we'll call you when dinner's ready?"
Dawn responded with instant teenage angst. "Oh come on. It's not like you're talking about anything I shouldn't hear." She made a big-eyed appeal to Giles, but he gave a slight shrug and nodded towards her elder sister.
Buffy stared at her sister, her lips thinning into a tired, determined line. "Dawn, just do it. I'll fill you in later, okay?"
Dawn gave her sister an exaggerated scowl and stomped towards the stairs. "I'll just go do some homework. More fun than hanging out with you guys anyway."
Buffy waited until she was gone, then turned back to Jonathan, all business again. "So Ethan Rayne's involved in all of this?"
"Not really," he answered, lowering his gaze to study the carpet at his feet. "It's a personal thing."
Of course, Buffy couldn't let it go. "What, he's been teaching you magic or something? Did you leave here to get more power to use against us?"
God, she was suspicious. "Uh, no. He wanted to teach me, but I told him it was a bad idea." Jonathan still had the occasional pang of regret at the lost possibilities and knowledge Ethan had presented, but he knew, on a gut-deep level, that he'd made the right decision.
Xander laughed, interrupting his thoughts. "And we're supposed to believe you just met up with him at random, had a two-second conversation, and he left?"
Well, put that way, it did sound a little suspicious. "Um..."
"There's that 'um' again," Spike broke in, with his rough British accent. "Shall I make a guess?" The vampire set down his mug and stood up, five-foot-eleven of dark clothes, bleached hair and dangerous attitude.
Jonathan tried to retreat and flailed for balance as his legs hit the couch instead. He sat hard, then froze, feeling very vulnerable.
Spike stopped a couple of feet away, with a self-satisfied grin on his face. "Ah, calm down. 'M'not going to bite you." Then he took a careful sniff of the air, and turned towards Giles, looking smug. "You're being a bit quiet over there, mate. I bet you know what's up with this one. He smells a bit like that old chum of yours."
Jonathan sighed. Vampire sense of smell. That sucked. Where did Spike meet Ethan, anyway? "Yeah, Giles knows. I just didn't think it was anybody else's business that Ethan Rayne is my father."
There went Buffy's eyebrows again. "You? Ethan Rayne has a son, and it's you?"
Jonathan snorted, irritated by her reaction. "Which one surprises you more?"
"Ooh, point to Jonathan," Xander said. He earned a half-hearted slap from Buffy for his trouble. "Hey."
"You said 'grow up', right, Giles?" Buffy complained, pouting at her Watcher. "Because I haven't noticed much of a difference."
Giles just shook his head. It looked like he couldn't decide whether to be amused or appalled.
"Anyway," Jonathan broke in, trying to get back on track. "This is all kind of irrelevant. I was minding my own business in the Hyperion, when all of a sudden I got dizzy and found myself in the street near the Magic Box."
"Warren must have intercepted Anya as she left," Giles commented.
"Looked like it," Jonathan agreed. "He spouted something about me breaking my oath, and how I was supposed to help them get the Orbs of Nezzla'khan. But I guess Anya didn't really like him, because she made it so they couldn't touch me, and I was able to cast an illusion and get away."
"You just left her there with them?" Xander's voice rose with the question, and he straightened up, staring at Jonathan.
Jonathan snorted. "Vengeance demon, hello. She teleported out."
Giles looked like he was going to add another comment, but whatever it was never made it out of his mouth. He was interrupted by the reappearance of Dawn, who came clattering down the stairs at full speed and then rushed over to her sister.
"Dawn?" Buffy asked, clasping her sister's hands as said sister bounced up and down, about to burst with excitement.
"Buffy, you'll never believe it! I went to get Willow to help with my homework, and guess who's in there with her! Oh, I hope they didn't see me! Oh my God, this is just too great!" Dawn had stopped bouncing, but the excitement was showing up now in her loud, high-pitched explanation.
Buffy blinked a little in confusion, then brightened visibly. "Tara's here?"
"She's back!" Dawn exclaimed, clapping her hands together in glee. Then she threw herself into a hug with her sister.
"I hope they work it out this time," Xander said, with a half-hearted smile. "Someone around here needs to be happy."
Spike shifted in his seat, almost unnoticed by the others, and a strange expression crossed his face. "Glad the pixie's back," he muttered, casting a sideways glance at Giles, then stared down into his mug.
Jonathan took note of all the reactions, and frowned slighlty. Obviously, there were things going on in this group that he really had no part in. Like always. He felt like Crewman Guy at the beginning of "Galaxy Quest," without a last name or any real purpose. Maybe that was the way things were supposed to be, but it made him feel even more out of place in Sunnydale than he did already.
It was too bad he didn't have any transportation-- he didn't really need to be here, did he? He could just catch a cab, and go back where he was appreciated, even with his not-so-pristine recent past...
((Jonathan, it is refreshing to have met you.))
With that thought, Jonathan sighed and turned to look out the window.
In the background, the telephone rang. "I'll answer it, Buffy," he heard Giles say, and the sound of footsteps moved across the floor.
"Summers residence... What? This is Rupert Giles... Mr. Summers, that isn't quite..." Giles paused, apparently cut off by an avalanche of words from the other end.
"Dad?" Dawn asked, in a small voice. "What does he want?"
Jonathan watched the reflections of the others move like shadows on the glass. Everyone snapped to attention, waiting to hear what Giles said next; Buffy tightened her grip on her sister. Judging by the differing levels of disgust and anger on everyone's faces, this Mr. Summers was not their favorite person.
"Mr. Summers, this conversation is neither timely nor appropriate," Giles said firmly. "Now, I trust your original intent was to speak with your daughters?" He listened a moment longer, then stepped out into Buffy's line of sight, clasping one hand over the mouthpiece. Little green sparks were dancing up and down the receiver, and his mouth was drawn into a scowl. "Shall I...?" he asked, looking at his Slayer.
Buffy sighed, and stepped away from Dawn. "No, no, I'll take it. I can't whine about him never calling and then not talk to him when he does."
She glared at Jonathan as she walked away. "Sit down, and stay there. I'm not through with you yet."
Jonathan rolled his eyes. Whatever. Wasn't he here voluntarily? "I'll be on the porch," he announced to the room at large, and opened the front door.
Footsteps sounded behind him as he stepped through. He didn't bother shutting the door. Obviously, one of the Scoobies had taken it upon themselves to make sure he obeyed. Jonathan sighed and took a seat on the steps, waiting for the commentary to begin.
"Feeling a bit useless there, mate?"
What was it with Spike? Jonathan tensed up, telling himself not to flinch. Before today, he'd only seen Spike up close and personal once, when the vampire had come to ask questions of Warren. He'd been nervous then, and he was nervous now, even though Spike didn't seem particularly predatory.
"Cat got your tongue?" Heavy boots appeared on the steps next to Jonathan, and Spike took a seat, making sure to keep a reasonable distance.
"I don't get it. You're evil," Jonathan said. Out of all his thoughts, the simplest found its way out first.
"Yeah? Your point being?" Spike replied. He was making sounds of crinkled plastic and the clink of metal, and after a moment, Jonathan could smell why.
"And you smoke. I don't get that either. You're dead. What good does nicotine do if your blood doesn't even move?"
Spike laughed. "'Ey. It bloody well does."
There was just something wrong, even suggestive, about the way he said that. Jonathan shuddered. "Too much information, Spike."
"You asked," Spike said, smugly. "There's a lot of stuff about vampire physiology that no one understands. It just is. We get drunk or high just like humans do, it just takes a bit longer, is all."
"You're weird." The conversation felt comfortable, almost, in a really bizarre kind of way. Kinda like joking around with Andrew, back in the day, before Jonathan became the odd man out. Except not, because Spike was infinitely scarier than weak, still-afraid-of-hot-things Andrew.
"I prefer the term unique, pet," Spike commented, sounding distinctly amused. Then he swore, suddenly and vehemently, all trace of teasing gone. "Bugger that."
"What?" Jonathan started, and turned to look at Spike. What was that all about?
Spike had turned slightly towards the not-quite-closed front door, his head tilted to one side in an attitude of listening. The cigarette he'd been smoking dangled between his fingers, forgotten, and Jonathan could have sworn he saw flashes of amber in that distant blue gaze.
That couldn't be good, Jonathan thought. "Spike? What's going on?"
"Slayer's father wants the Little Bit back," Spike said, rising to his feet. He dropped the cigarette on the steps, grinding it to ash underfoot, and scowled. "Hired some fancy lawyers. They want to meet the girls in L.A. tomorrow."
Was it just his imagination, or was it starting it seem like Spike actually cared about the girl? The wheels began turning in Jonathan's mind. This was a Master Vampire who didn't kill. Who kept blood in his mortal enemy's 'fridge. Who was entertained by chatting on a porch with a recently evil-ish human. Who actually cared about whether a teenager might have to leave her sister's home. Was that possible? At least, for any vampire besides the soul-having Angel?
"Doesn't visit, doesn't call, doesn't pay child support. Useless wanker. Didn't even show up for Joyce's funeral. So why would he want her now?" Spike had begun to pace the length of the porch, scowling fiercely. "Gotta be something else going on here."
Jonathan shook his head. Did all this mean that Spike wasn't really evil? 'Cause if so, Spike just might be his ticket back to L.A. Mentally, Jonathan flipped a quarter and made a decision.
"Think they'll ask you to go?" he asked, casually.
Spike stopped in his tracks, blinking in Jonathan's direction as if he'd forgotten the human was there. "Not bleeding likely," he said, fiercely. "What's it to you, anyway?"
"You want to be in L.A., I want to be in L.A. You have transportation, right?" Jonathan rose to his feet, trying to look calm and matter-of-fact.
Spike narrowed his eyes, studying Jonathan a little more intensely. "And what makes you think I'd take you with me?" he asked, closing the distance between them with a few short vampire-swift steps.
Not evil, not evil, not evil, Jonathan chanted silently, part reminder and part plea. Spike might have nine inches on him, but Jonathan had stared down Warren before; surely he could stand up to a not-evil vampire. "Need any spells done?" he replied, getting the question out with barely a quiver.
Amber flashed again in Spike's eyes. "Hmm. That sounds... promising." He broke eye contact with Jonathan to glance at the door again, then smiled slightly, all cockiness and determination. "All right. My bike's this way."
With that, Spike strode off the porch, heading away from Buffy's house. Jonathan paused briefly, remembering Buffy's order, then shrugged and followed in the vampire's wake.
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