Title: Have Stake, Will Slay
Setting: S3, post-Anne AU
Word count: 1000
A/N: A la Angel Investigations, Buffy opens a detective agency in LA. A bit much to fit in a oneshot, so it's a little odd.
It was a small office in a big building. The funds had been provided anonymously by a company or a very powerful person, known only to her by the sigil of a wolf. A year since she had given up her apartment to Lily—Anne, now. Longer still since she’d left Sunnydale.
The sign on the door read ‘Summer Investigations’, with a subtitle of ‘Have Stake, Will Slay’. Sunlight flooded through the single large window behind her desk, papers strewn across it held only in place by a single stake that seemed dangerously close to rolling off the pile. ‘Summer Winters, PI’ was embossed across the gold nameplate, an obvious pseudonym which she considered embarrassingly but addictively whimsical. (She’d heard Giles was searching for her, and this name along with the motto ought to have been a dead giveaway, but her mystery sponsor had done away any worry regarding that.)
Business was good. Research should’ve been a problem, but she got lucky. Or unlucky. Jury was still out on that.
“I have the necessary volumes,” he said, stumbling into the room. She plucked the heaviest tomes from his arms and set them atop the table, and he nodded in thanks. “Courtesy of, well, my personal library. I just had the books shipped over to my apartment.”
“I’ll take these.” She picked up the slimmest works she could find.
He heaved a put-upon sigh. “Naturally, naturally.”
And if he were a little stuffy, a little clumsy, a little awkward… well, he was good with research. He also brought recent news of Sunnydale, although he always sounded as though he were holding something back when she asked how the Scoobies alone could have possibly coped with a rogue Slayer and the villainous Mayor.
They researched till night fell (well, Wesley researched and Buffy took regular toilet breaks and donut runs), at which time Wesley finally let out the much-anticipated exclamation of discovery. “Ah-ha!”
But before he could exposit, the bell over the door tinkled with the promise of a new client.
“Summer Investigations, how may I…” She looked to the door. “…help you?” Her jaw dropped.
Seeing her befuddled expression, Wesley gave her a quizzical look and turned towards the door himself. “Yes?”
The stranger in the doorway looked just as stricken—then amusement took over his features. “Well, well,” he drawled in a coarse British accent. “What have we here? Itsy bitsy Slayer playing grown up.”
Wesley shot up as though burned. “Who are you? How did you know to come here?”
Buffy stood up now, waving Wesley down. “Chill.” But her eyes were still pinned on the man at the door. “It’s just Spike.”
“S-S-Spike?” Wesley squeaked out. “William the Bloody? Slayer of Slayers?”
“The one and only.”
“Then it’s hardly an occasion to ‘chill’!” He groped around the desk and held out a stapler. “Stay back!”
Spike arched an eyebrow. “Gonna staple me to death, are you?”
The stapler clattered to the floor; Wesley fumbled for a cross, finally settling on a bottle of regular water. “I warn you, I have been specially trained to bless this water!”
Equal parts impatient and entertained, Spike turned towards Buffy. “What’s with Percy?”
“Hm. Figures.” He took a moment to survey the terrified Wesley again with a newfound appreciation before addressing her. “Got a job for you.”
“I don’t take jobs from vampires, especially you. See that sign on the door?” She held up Mr Pointy. “Will slay.”
“Can take the girl from the Hellmouth, can’t take the Hellmouth from the girl.”
“I’ll always be the Slayer.”
Strangely enough, he smiled. “So. About this job…”
“Which part of ‘no’ do you not understand?”
“The part where you get to say ‘no’. You think you have a choice?” He leaned closer to her. “I’d wager you’re hidin’ away from your sunshine crew, and you’d mind very much if I let slip where you are.”
“Not if you’re not around to tell.”
Wesley was backing himself against the wall as far as he could. “I think we should help him,” he managed, voice quavering. “Even if you do possess the skill to slay him, he could easily run off to Sunnydale before you have the chance.”
“Ten points to Watcher boy!” Smirking, Spike leaned against the door. “Just one little job…” He glanced at the nameplate. “…Summer Winters? Really?”
She crossed her arms. “Talk. Fast.”
“Three words.” He turned serious, holding up a finger with each word. “Gem of Amara.”
She figured she’d stake Spike when his guard was down. In the meantime, it’d be useful to find this Gem and destroy it.
It ought to have been easy; surely in the following weeks she’d find the opportunity to stake him for good. And yet—
“What’s this?” Spike, twitchy as always, took up the sponsor’s calling card.
It was the 62nd ‘what’s this’ he’d uttered in the past weeks. She’d counted. “Put it down.” Her fingers closed around the stake in her pocket.
He tilted his head, squinting at the printed wolf. “Hm. Looks diabolical. Sure you haven’t sold your soul to the devil?”
She didn’t answer, head bent over books. She heard the flick of his lighter. “Don’t smoke,” she said without looking up. She could practically feel his sulk, but he didn’t light up.
“You ought to help with research,” Wesley suggested.
Spike threw him a look. “I’m hiring you.”
“And not paying very well, at that.”
“Well, I’m threatenin’ you. Figured that meant a discount, seein’ as you’re lucky I’m payin’ at all.”
Her fingers twitched around the stake as she looked up to give him a murderous glare.
He wasn’t looking at her, but she could see his face well, lit up with a childish smile. He was a reminder of times past, of her greatest failure—yet there he was, looking for all the world like an innocent, silly human, and she had grown strangely accustomed to his presence.
Tomorrow, she decided. Stakage tomorrow.