Against All Odds by Dusty273

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Buffy Summers is a vibrant, passionate young girl in love for the first time in her life with Angel O’Connor, to whom she’s secretly engaged. When he has to go back to his native Ireland to take care of his business, fate intervenes and she meets the very daring and impulsive Duke of Aurelius, Spike. From the moment he lays eyes upon her, he decides he wants her for himself and sets upon making it happen. Will Spike get what he wants, and if so, at what price? Written for the Spuffy_fantasy (LJ) Art-A-Thon. For the gorgeous banner made by drkdevin (Number 9).

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Chapter 12. Trials and Tribulations

Chapter Notes: A million thanks to my lovely IBE for taking the time from her busy schedule to edit this chapter for me; I’ve missed you more than words can say, sweetie! Love you tons, amor! And to Vara, as always, for pre-betaing the chapter, she didn’t see the last part though, so if there are any historical inaccuracies there, I beg your leniency and I promise to correct as soon as I can. And to OkDeanna for reading the first part of the chapter and assuring me it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it was.

A little note, it recently came to my attention there’s a similar use for brunet and brunette as there is for blond/blonde: “Terms that came into English from French to designate hair color, such as the pairs blonde/blond and brunette/brunet, are sometimes treated in English as in French: the gender-marked form of the adjective or noun, ending in -e or -te, is used when referring to a female, and the non-gender-marked form is used when referring to a male.” (The American Heritage Book of English Usage.) I make this note in case you think I’m misspelling when I start using brunet. ;)


Covetousness like jealousy, when it has taken root, never leaves a person, but with their life. Cowardice is the dread of what will happen. ~ Epictetus

Buffy was completely out of breath when she entered her bedroom, her heart galloping madly inside her chest as she reclined on the door. Which was no surprise, really, since she’d ran all the way from the garden until reaching her chambers as if the hellhounds were after her intent on hunting and bringing her back to the devil’s lair with them.

And perhaps it would be better if they were the ones hunting her and not William. Because that’s exactly how she felt right now, like she was being hunted by him. And the worst part was the rather disturbing realization that as long as he kept kissing her like he had just a moment ago, she truly didn’t mind being captured by him.

How could that be? What did that make her? She’d been so certain she was in love with Angel, and yet… could she really be when she responded like that to the Duke of Aurelius if that were still true?

She shook her head, trying to dispel the silly notions. Of course she loved Angel. Her behavior tonight was nothing more than… than a by-product of the duke’s timely intervention with her father and the awful Miss Addams, of the way he’d behaved all day with her and her mother, of the attention he’d lavished upon her at the theatre. The moon, the champagne, the play, his insistence, everything had conspired to lower her defenses and make her act like she had.

Yes, that was it, nothing more than that, she rationalized. Tomorrow would be another day and she’d be back to… well, perhaps hating was too strong a word considering all the duke had done for her and her mother; however, going back to not exactly liking the man who was forcing her to marry him, forcing these feelings out of her against her will, making her doubt herself and her love for Angel worked quite well for her.

Her newfound resolution came crumbling down around her though, when she walked towards the washstand in the left corner of her room and focused on the image reflected in the small mirror on top of it.

Was that truly her?

She brought one hand up to trace her fingertips over her features, trying to reconcile the view which usually greeted her with this… sultry-looking stranger she found now.

Her pupils were dilated and her irises gleamed around them like emeralds, the contrast between the two so startling it made her eyes appear larger and brighter than usual. Her hair appeared somewhat shinier as well as it framed her face in wild disarray, the light blonde and red streaks reflecting the candlelight and making them stand out against the darker shade blonde of the rest of her hair. Her cheeks were flushed and slightly hot to the touch. Her lips looked fuller, smoother and she couldn’t stop the shiver that ran through her when she caressed them, recalling how William had cradled her face in his hands before claiming her mouth in a kiss that stole her breath as well as her senses.

Oh God, no, no, NO. This wouldn’t do, this wouldn’t do at all.

She grabbed the water jug, her hands shaking as she filled the basin almost to the brim, washing her face briskly while she tried to cleanse away his kisses, his touch, every memory of him that kept creeping into her thoughts against her better judgment.

Not that it did her much good or any at all. No matter how raw she scrubbed her flesh, his passion was too deeply imprinted beneath her skin to disappear just like that.

She sighed in defeat, her shoulders hunching forward as she gripped the sides of the basin, while trying in vain to come to terms with all she was feeling or, more accurately, trying to repress and hoping it would go away on its own. After all, this could all very well be a nightmare and when she woke up tomorrow morning everything she had lived the past three days would be nothing more than a very bad memory. One could hope at least.

There was a knock on the door just then and she started, taking a step back from the washstand; her hand flying to her chest as if to stop her heart from escaping at the mere thought of who the person on the other side of the door could be. Although, it couldn’t be… he wouldn’t dare, now would he?

“W-who i-is it?” she asked, her voice quivering under the force of her jumbled emotions.

“It’s Sarah, Miss Elizabeth.”

Buffy sagged with relief when she heard that, bidding the maid entrance to her room; truly grateful it wasn’t William or even Willow, because as much as she loved her friend, the last thing she needed right now was to listen to her friend sing her praises of the Duke of Aurelius when she was trying to forget about him.

It wasn’t long before she was ready for bed. Sarah made quick work of her dress and corset, helping her into her nightgown and brushing all the tangles from her hair, all the while remaining blissfully quiet.

Once alone, though, she wished the maid were still there to distract her from her rebellious thoughts. She tossed and turned in her bed for a long time, unable to escape the feelings still coursing through her body, until she fell in a fitful sleep filled with haunting images of a blond man with piercing blue eyes who kept invading her dreams.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Were you waitin’ for me, Wes?” Spike asked as soon as he entered his study, frowning at the disconcerted look on his friend’s face. “Is somethin’ amiss? Is Fred alright?”

“Yes, I mean… no… to tell you the truth I-I don’t rightly know anymore.” The dark haired man sighed heavily throwing his hands up in the air before he stood up and began pacing the length of the room. “I-I think I may have said something to anger Lady Winifred and now she… she won’t talk to me.”

Spike blinked. Fred angry at Wes? And not only that, but angry enough not to talk to him? Tha’s a first. His sister had always had a soft spot for his new business partner. What could he have done to her that warranted that reaction?

He raised his scarred eyebrow inquiringly at his friend. “Angry? What exactly did you say to her?”

“Nothing.” He sighed again at the duke’s pointed look. “Well, I might have insinuated you two had planned that she faked a headache to leave you and Miss Summers alone.”

“I see,” Spike said, a scowl marring his features.

No wonder Fred was furious. They’d provided Wes with a perfect chance to profess his feelings to her and what had he done? Ruined it, of course, prideful, dense git that he was.

“No, you don’t see. I hadn’t realized she was truly sick or that you had sent for another carriage during the intermission and now she thinks who knows what about me,” he sulked. “And if that wasn’t enough, it was even worse after I told her I cared about her, because you two are my only family.”

Spike shook his head disbelievingly, dense? Nah, thickheaded, obtuse, insensitive prick was more like it. How could he not see, not realize how much his words must have hurt Fred?

He took a deep breath, his nostrils flaring, his hands clenching and unclenching as he tried to hold on to his temper. He knew it wasn’t his place to say anything, though, no matter how much he wished he could knock some sense into Wes right now. His sister would never forgive him if he meddled in her affairs.

Still, even if she didn’t forgive him, he had to intervene. It was expected of him. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce was too headstrong for his own good and at this rate his darling sister would be an old maid before the damned man actually made a move.

He neared the small table to the right of his desk and served two tumblers of whisky from the decanter, offering one to Wes then motioning for him to sit.

He sat directly in front of the brunet man, staring intently at him, waiting until the older man took a hearty swig of his drink before asking him point blank, “What exactly are your feelin’s for my sister, mate?”

Wes, who’d been at mid-swallow then, sputtered out the whisky he still had in his mouth, the rest of it burning his throat then his lungs where it ended, making him cough as he tried to gather his bearings, completely taken aback by the unexpected question.

Spike smirked evilly, enjoying the effect his query had on his friend. Perfect timin’ that. Oh yes, he still had it.

“I-I… I d-don’t know w-what you mean,” Wesley stammered, patting his chest to try and ease some of his discomfort. Still coughing, he took his handkerchief out of his coat’s pocket to dry his mouth and hands, winning himself some time while trying to understand why the duke had asked him precisely that.

Spike couldn’t know, now could he? There was no way anyone knew when he’d never said a word, was there?

“It’s a simple ‘nough question, wouldn’ you say?” Spike shrugged nonchalantly, putting his tumbler on the table in front of him before reclining in his chair. He pulled his ornate snuff box out of his pocket, took a pinch of tobacco between his thumb and index fingers and then brought it to his nostrils to inhale deeply.

Whoever saw the Duke of Aurelius now might think he was the very picture of calm and repose.

Whoever thought that would be very wrong, though.

He was anything but calm. He was alert, on edge, shrewdly observing every outward sign of nervousness Wes exhibited. Waiting as he lulled his friend into a sense of false security, biding his time to pounce on him when he least expected it.

“Right. Simple.” Wesley was cornered and he knew it. Then again, perhaps he could give Spike the same response he gave Lady Winifred. It was the truth anyway, even if his feelings for the chestnut haired beauty ran a great deal deeper than those he had for any member of his family. “Well, I told you, you and Lady Winifred are my only family.”

“So… you sayin’ she’s like a sister to you?”

“Y-yes, ex-exactly that.”

The blond man smiled inwardly. The answer might have been a mite more convincing if Wes’ voice had been less shaky or if he’d somehow managed to suppress the blush that covered his face and ears.

“W-why,” he croaked, pausing to clear his throat, before continuing in a more confident tone, “Why do you want to know?”

“Nothin’ in particular, my friend.” Spike shrugged. “Or, well…”

“Well, what?” Wes was truly intrigued now; the duke wasn’t a man who spoke in circles… at least not with him. He was always straightforward when it came to his thoughts and resolute at that.

“Do you remember my friend Alasdair Chandler, the Earl of Harlich?”

“Yes,” Wesley gritted through clenched teeth, trying not to show any outward sign of how much he disliked the man.

Of course his dislike had a lot to do with the fact the Earl was tall, dark, handsome, titled and almost as wealthy as the Duke of Aurelius, and had been one of the men vying for Lady Winifred’s attentions when she came out during her first season. Needless to say, Wes couldn’t stand him.

But of course his opinion didn’t count when it came to a childhood friend of both the duke and his sister, now did it?

He frowned. What did this have to do with Spike asking him about his feelings for Lady Winifred? Unless… no, Spike couldn’t possibly be thinking of marrying Lady Winifred to the Earl, could he?

“I saw him while I was in Wales and we thought this might be a perfect time for him and Fred to meet again. After all, it’s been years since she became a widow and I don’t want her to spend the rest of her life alone.” Spike had to bite back a smirk when he noticed how disturbed Wes seemed by the prospect, if his fidgeting body language was anything to go by, and decided rubbing a little salt in the wound wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might even help matters more. “Naturally if you’d been interested in her, I would’ve preferred you as my brother-in–law and given you both my blessin’, but… since you assured me you only think of her as a sister, then he’s the next best choice and ’m quite certain Fred will agree with me. She’s always had a soft spot for him. So, what do you think, my friend?”

Jealousy flared inside Wesley, his fingers tightening around the glass he still held in his hand until his knuckles turn white, so much so that the tumbler broke under the pressure, a few shards embedding themselves into his palm.

Spike almost pitied the poor sod then, he was the image of misery as he nursed his injured hand. Almost. If it weren’t that he’d brought it upon himself, he might have felt a little less inclined to laugh at his friend’s predicament. As it was, it was only by sheer force of will he managed not to and appear somewhat concerned instead.

“Chris’, mate, you alright?” Spike shook his head in fake disbelief while handing Wes his own handkerchief and then pulling on the bell cord to call for a footman. “It seems they don’ make glass as resistant as they used to, do they?”

“I-I… I don’t know what happened,” Wes said flustered, his pallor a sickly grey at seeing the blood on his hand.

“Sure you don’, pal.” The duke patted him on the arm condescendingly, standing up as soon as he heard the soft knock on the door. “Come in,” he called, barely sparing the footman a sideways glance. “Mr. Wyndham-Pryce had a little mishap and is in need of medical aid; fetch Mr. Jenkins and tell him he’s to stay with him until you come back with Doctor Matthews,” he ordered before serving another tumbler of whisky to his friend and then advancing towards the door.

“Wh-where are you going?” Wes asked puzzled, he hadn’t expected Spike to leave him alone.

“Well, I don’ see how ’m needed here. Mr. Jenkins will take good care of you until the good doctor comes.” At Wes’ frown, he clarified, “I have to check on my sister, ’m sure you understand, don’ you?”

Without waiting for an answer the blond man left the room, leaving Wes to wonder where a night which had started so nicely had taken such a turn for the worst.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“What took you so long?” Fred asked Spike as soon as he entered her quarters.

“Sorry, pet, didn’ mean to keep you waitin’.” He neared her, kissing her cheek, before sitting right by her side on the sofa. “But I had a very interestin’ conversation with our good friend Wesley downstairs. He was awfully confused over your behavior, you know?” He cocked an eyebrow at her, smirking when her cheeks turned crimson and her eyes shone with renewed anger. “And then he had a little accident with a glass.”

“He did?” She tried to appear disinterested, but she knew she wouldn’t fool William.

“Yes, it seems the news of the Earl of Harlich’s arrival didn’t sit all that well with him,” he said with a sneer.

“Alasdair is coming to London?” Fred questioned, excited at the prospect of seeing their dear friend again, momentarily forgetting about Wesley’s plight - which after what he did, was nothing more than divine justice in her opinion.

“Oh yes, he’ll be arriving at the end of the week and will stay for the rest of the season.”

“That’s wonderful news! Where will he stay? Is he coming alone?”

I hope you still consider it wonderful news after I tell you what I did, sis, he thought. “Ahem, well, he’ll stay here of course and yes, he’s coming alone. But that’s not all.”

“It’s not?” Now she was curious and why did William looked so nervous all of the sudden?

“I might have, inadvertently of course, told Wes he was coming back for you.”

“For me?” Fred blinked, unsure what William meant by that.

“Yes,” he responded.

“Whatever for?”

“Why do you think?” He raised an eyebrow at her.

“If I had an inkling of what you’re talking about I wouldn’t be asking, now would I?” she pouted, crossing her arms beneath her breasts.

“Alright, alright. I implied he had the intention of… well, courting you,” he said the last words in a rush, shrugging sheepishly while waiting for his sister’s explosion.

“I know I didn’t just hear you saying Alasdair’s coming here to court me, did I?”

“No, you heard me say I told Wes he’s comin’ here to court you. There’s a difference, you see?”

“I’m starting to. And that’s what caused the accident?” Her brother waas a genius when it came to manipulating things, she should have remembered that.

“Exactly!”

“Interesting. He said he only saw me as family, you know?” she said, sadness dripping in her voice.

“Yes, the dimwitted sod told me that as well. Right before I told him I would’ve preferred him to be my brother-in-law but would have to settle for second best, since I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life alone.” He brought his hand up to caress her cheek. “And I really don’t, sweetheart. You deserve to have some happiness in your life.”

"And you do, too. So, dear brother, now tell me how the rest of your evening went with Miss Elizabeth..."

tbc


A/N: So, like, dislike? Want to know what will happen next when Wes and Buffy are faced with Fred and Spike? *giggles*

Next in line to write is chapter 3 of Into the Night, so I beg you to have a little patience while I try to juggle all my WIPs. I promise I’ll do my best to get better with the updates.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Hugs,

Mari

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