This is so unfair, Buffy thought. *So* unfair. In a long line of unfair things, it was the unfairest of them all, and that counted everything, becoming a slayer, dying at the Master's fangs, losing her vampire boyfriend to the clutches of evil, being forced to send him to Hell, a string of miserable birthdays, her mom dying--but no, that was so far beyond unfair it shouldn't even be in this list--on the other hand, Riley's ridiculous issues and ultimatum made the cut, along with the time that SUV cut her off and made her drive into the telephone pole, which was *not* her fault and yet *she* was the one to get grounded, because *she* wasn't a forty-year old drunk stockbroker, and oh, let's not forget the time Rodney Hawkins stole her brand-new, birthday-gift, lime-green Jimmy Choo sandals, the only pair she'd ever owned, and played football with them until he fell and crushed their heels with his big lumpish body. This was more unfair than all those things.
This was more unfair because she was a *lamp*. Damn Amy. And damn Spike, because if he hadn't missed patrol, she wouldn't have come to his truly grotty, no-rent apartment looking for him and caught Amy skulking around, looking for--
"Hair of the vampire?" she'd said in disbelief, little knowing it was the last conversation she'd ever have. And she'd folded her arms and shifted her weight to show that she wasn't fooled. "As in hair of the vampire that bit you?"
Amy had given her a superior, almost pitying look and a smirk, as if she were amazed at Buffy's ability to get up each morning without tripping and strangling herself in the bedsheets. "It's for a spell," she said, pulling threads of hair from a brush and popping them in a ziplock baggie.
Buffy watched. "Uh huh. You have *seen* Spike's hair, right? He probably bleached out all the mojo a century ago."
"Really? You don't like it?" Amy cocked her head and absently touched her own hair. "I was thinking of going blonde, maybe a buzz cut. Anything my mom would have hated." A light shrug. "Besides, lately I can't do anything with it, it just feels so--"
Amy glared and Buffy could see this was still a sore point. "I can't believe it took Willow three years to reverse a spell I'd mastered in high school."
"Not sure I'd call it mastered when you go all scurryish and then, oh wait, can't change yourself back because you're a *rodent*." Dumbass, she thought, feeling confident again as the balance of slayer versus witch was restored.
"It was only supposed to last an hour," Amy muttered. She'd put her hair bag away and was poking through Spike's things, running her hand along the dresser top in a way that rearranged some loose change, squeezing hair gel on her fingers and rubbing them together as if testing the product quality. When she sniffed them, Buffy felt a mental *ewww* coming on.
"Should you be doing that?"
Turning for a moment, Amy looked at her with a curious glint, as if Buffy's level of interest were noteworthy, then she turned away again and began sifting through CDs and making a face at the titles.
"I mean," Buffy said, trying for an offhand tone, "if you're done here, you should probably go before Spike gets back and finds you--" She paused as Amy picked up a pair of highly unlikely Calvin Klein boxer-briefs and considered them with interest. "--poking through his things," she finished with queasy and growing horror. She felt like a mother whose five-year old has just picked up a dead snake.
"He's not very tidy, is he?" Amy asked, looking over the room's empty bottles and carelessly tossed clothes. She had a critical air and seemed on the verge of flicking her wrist and giving the premises a good scrub with a flock of dancing mops and buckets.
Buffy experienced a moment of surreal dislocation. "No, not tidy. Also not thrifty, kind, or courteous. *Vampire*. *Lair*."
Moving to the corner of the room, Amy drew one finger along the dusty top of the TV set, then bent to blow a cobweb loose from a lampshade. The lamp's bronze, Art Nouveau base seemed to involve a naked lady and a dolphin, frolicking together amid a lot of splashy waves. "Hmm," Amy said. "Pretty."
Impatience was wrestling Buffy's politeness to the mat. Didn't she realize that Spike could walk in at any time? The longer they stood here, the greater the risk of actual conversation about hair-care products and underwear and other terrible things.
"Amy! Let's go."
"I don't know, Buffy." Amy had picked up and been flipping through what looked like a motorcycle magazine, but now she put it down and directed her attention Buffy's way. She had a contemplative look, like a cat watching dinner. "I'm not sure I can let you leave. See, you're not exactly smart. But Willow is. And I think when you tell her about this, she's going to ask questions." Her expression went flat. "Not a big call for vampire follicles in white magic."
That was when Buffy decided that attacking would be a good idea, before Amy cast her next spell, but things didn't happen in that order. There was some Latin and a whooshing sound and all of a sudden everything was different. Cold and numb, she couldn't move or feel any part of her body, and her view of the room had changed. She'd been standing in the middle and now she was in the corner, she was--what the hell was she?
Amy came over and bent down close and pulled a little cord dangling near Buffy's head. When she did, light flooded across the witch's face, making her malicious smile more easy to see. "You know, you're positively *glowing*," she said. And then left.
If there was one thing Buffy knew it was bad quips, so it didn't take her long to figure out where she was and what she was. They'd trapped Amy's mother in a cheerleading statue, and now she was trapped in a lamp. A lamp. On Spike's TV set. A *tacky* lamp. She couldn't even pretend to herself it would get no worse. It so very would. Soon Spike would clomp in, toss himself down on the sofa with a beer or six--legs wide, head back--and start in on a morose evening of chain-smoking and cartoon-watching that would repeat itself over and over and over until Giles and Willow finally tracked her here and freed her from hell.
There might even be nakedness. No. There would surely be nakedness, of the pale and undead kind, and--*oh god*, Buffy realized. *I'm* naked. She groaned without sound. A naked nymph with a dolphin licking her ear. Or was that a Naiad? Whatever.
After an hour of contemplating her life and her nakedness and the things she was going to do to Amy when she got loose, the apartment door opened and Spike came in. It was like watching a sitcom star enter the set; she had an almost perfect view of the entire, pocket-sized room and its gross contents, which now included Spike. And Xander. Xander!
Hopes rising, she shouted, "Xander! Over here!" She kind of did. In her head, anyway. But he obviously didn't hear her, because he closed the door behind him and crossed the room without even a moment's ogle for her bronzed, naked, thimble-sized tits. She wondered if she'd still have her clothes on when the spell came off. It would certainly determine the method by which Amy would die.
Xander opened a window and propped it up with a piece of wood. "This place smells like a bar floor after Mardi Gras," he observed. What should have been disgust sounded more like mellow indifference. "Why don't you just paint the inside of your nostrils with rancid beer?"
Spike was frowning and scanning the room as if he sensed something off. "You smell that?"
"People in the next block can smell that, Spike." Xander picked up an ashtray and dumped it out in a paper bag.
"No, not that. Something else--perfume." The vampire wandered to his dresser, picked up his brush and sniffed it, then eyeballed the rest of his things in a speculative way.
"Me," Buffy tried to say. "I smell good! Smell me!" Despite her predicament, she was really glad he hadn't heard that.
"My nose is shutting down," Xander said, coming around to the couch. "Survival instinct. The lungs will be next."
Losing interest in the scent he'd picked up, Spike turned and gave Xander a dry look. "Try to hold out till morning, pet."
As Xander fiddled with the remote and stared about forty-five degrees south of Buffy's breasts at the TV screen, she watched Spike pick his way around the mess on his floor and head to the fridge. He came back with two beers and an opened container of Chinese food that he handed to Xander before popping off the beer caps with his thumb. One beer to Xander, one that was drained in three smooth, breathless gulps, and oh my god, thought Buffy as realization dawned, they hang *out*. Why hadn't she known about this? They'd settled together on the couch and, viewed side by side like this, bore an eerie resemblance, all shabby clothes and scruffy hair and lazy attitude.
She should have known, but she couldn't remember a single time Xander had mentioned, even in passing, "Oh hey, I'll be at Spike's," or "Yeah, I was over at Spike's last night." But she could tell this wasn't the first night they'd loafed in each other's company. Xander was chopsticking noodles into his mouth from what was obviously leftovers.
It was just weird. Okay, sure, Spike had been Vampire of the Year ever since saving Dawn from a bloody end that would have opened the portal to a Hell dimension and doomed them all, but it didn't make him their pal. She'd *thought* they were all on the same page here. But was it possible that all those times she'd caught Xander staring at Spike as if wanting to stake him, he'd actually been harboring admiration? Friendly, non-vampire-dusting feelings?
This was all Anya's fault, Buffy decided. If she hadn't left Xander and broken his heart into little pulpy pieces, he wouldn't have felt driven to seek out Spike for what had to be a semi-drunken, rebound, male-bonding ritual. But it was her fault too--hers and Willow's. Caught up in school stuff, they'd fallen down on the friend job. When she was herself again, she was going to fix this. She'd make sure they all spent at least two--no, three--nights a week hanging out. Dancing and vamp-scoping at the Bronze, watching creature movies, patrolling. Just like old times. If Xander needed some peculiar mix of comfort and the grotesque to get him through his break-up, they'd be the ones to provide it, not Spike.
"I can't believe you blew off patrolling," Xander said.
I knew it, Buffy thought.
Spike slouched a bit lower, molding himself to the shape of the couch. "Slayer doesn't need me."
"Doesn't pay me either. Don't know why I keep bothering. Oh, wait." He turned his head on the couch and gave Xander a heavy-lidded leer.
Wait. A what? No. Silly. She was imagining things. Spike could make anything seem sleazy--all he had to do was lower his voice and smile knowingly and whatever he said came out sounding like a challenge to get naked and fuck, no matter how many times she pummeled him, but on the other hand--
She was remembering the pleasant, crunchy sound Spike's nose always made when it broke, when he twisted and threw himself across Xander in a vicious attack. It took a moment for her brain to catch up with her eyes and process the horror, then she shouted in denial and strained against the entrapping spell as Xander struggled for his life, flat on his back under Spike's cruel mouth, noodles spilling from their carton, beer foaming, hold on a minute.
Horror reached a new level as Xander lifted his arms over his head and let Spike shuck his shirt off and then arched once. It was the kind of sinuous, sexy ripple of flesh you shouldn't see your friends make because, flesh. Bad flesh. Then she noticed that Spike wasn't in game face and his teeth weren't fangs and their hands were fumbling between their bodies to undo their jeans and she couldn't close her eyes. She was stuck on porn-o-vision.
"Oh...my...god, please stop! Stop!" she commanded in panic, but they ignored her. They were kissing and it was serious kissage, major-league, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, as if chunks of molten lava were dropping all around them to signify the end of the world and they knew they only had about five minutes left and intended to make it count.
It was bad, like, hell-portal bad with a side order of deep, pitiful nausea. She focused hard, though. She was positive that if she concentrated, they'd suddenly stop and sense her watching and sheepishly straighten their clothes, just before calling Willow to come locate the source of their spooked unease.
But of course they just kept fucking.
"Oh god," Xander said, grabbing Spike's ass and working their bodies together. Defying all laws of right and nature, his hand was actually *in* Spike's jeans. For a moment Spike looked as amazed as Buffy felt, but that was just lust. Worse was when he started to look at Xander with an expression she recognized, a kind of struck-deer, adoring-dope look that he used to turn on her. She hadn't seen it in months. This explained a lot.
"Just say no, Xander," she implored him, but he pulled Spike's head down and kissed him like a fiend. They were moving urgently, twisting with their half-naked skin and rumpled jeans against each other, making those little breathy gasps she only heard herself make lately, now that Angel was a scrapbook memory and Riley was off Georging in the jungle somewhere and she'd found out how to install the batteries right-side up in her new plastic boyfriend.
Spike levered up himself on both hands and stared down at Xander, who stared back up as he reached between their bodies, and Spike's eyes closed, and the rhythm of their hips took on a new, rough desperation, and Buffy gave a tiny, mournful squeak and wished that Amy had just made her a rat again.
Then there were some intimate cries and manly spasms and she might have passed out for a bit.
When she woke up she was still a lamp.