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Adjustment Phase

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Scoobies & Stargates". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When Willow joins the SGC, you might think they'd ease her in a little. But no, she's pushed into the deep end with an Atanik bracelet. And it's not until after that that things start getting really strange.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Willow-CenteredEnergyBeingFR133964,81428444,4802 Sep 123 Feb 13Yes

Chapter Thirty-One

When the group returned to Giles' house after being, literally, knocked around by Adam, they found that Spike was awake and playing poker with Giles, each with a cup of tea. Well, Spike's was somewhat thicker and darker than normal tea, but as an English vampire he could hardly give up his national drink entirely. Anyway, it tasted just as good with blood in it. Because Giles had been unwilling to actually bet real money, but had eventually given into Spike's whining that the game was ruined without stakes, they had prepared a tally sheet. Of course, no one would actually win anything, but it satisfied Spike. Even though Giles was winning.

"I raise you 10 points." said Spike, not even glancing up when the gang came in. It was a lot of points - enough to put Spike in the lead if he won.

"He's bluffing." said Willow, to her own mild surprise. She barely knew the rules of the game, just enough to play it, but that didn't make Willow enough of an expert to be able to tell if Spike was bluffing. Perhaps it was something in his body language?

"Oh yes? Played a lot of poker, have you?" said Giles distractedly, not even looking at his cards but staring at Spike for any sign of a tell. Giles was a fairly experienced poker player - he had even had a stint as a card-sharp when he and Ethan had still been friends - but Spike had been playing longer than Giles had been alive. He knew that it was only because he had had good hands that Giles was winning now.

"I doubt it. But she's right, Spike's bluffing." said Sam, watching with interest. Despite Jack's many attempts to interest her in a game, Sam had never given it much of a try. She preferred to watch Jack play Teal'c - it always cracked her up when Jack had absolutely no idea if Teal'c was bluffing or not. However, she too was sure that Spike was bluffing, and like Willow, she wasn't sure why.

"Really? How can you tell?" asked Daniel, curiously. Unlike Sam, he had on occasion joined in Jack's poker games, and unlike Teal'c he just couldn't manage a poker face. However, he had some skill at telling when Jack was bluffing or genuinely had a good hand or not, but Spike, judging by his relaxed and easy posture, could have either.

"Are we really having a conversation about poker? Now?" asked Buffy to the room at large.

"Indeed." said Teal'c. Buffy looked at him, wondering what exactly he meant by that. She couldn't tell. Talk about a poker face.

"I'll see your 10 points." said Giles to Spike, wanting to finish the game before they moved on to other issues. He found himself enjoying it.

Spike grimaced, no longer needing a poker face, and laid out his cards. Two nines. He had been bluffing, although Giles hadn't picked up on it. Then Giles put down his cards, a royal flush. Only diamonds, but he knew that it was unlikely that Spike would've had a better hand than that, especially given his recent run of luck.

Spike took a gulp of his bloody tea, then extended a hand to Giles, saying "Congratulations." Giles, mildly surprised at the gesture, took the hand after a moment’s hesitation, then promptly wished he hadn't. Spike put enough pressure in his grip that Giles had to bite his lip not to squeal. However, looking at Spike's face, Giles couldn't tell whether Spike even knew what he was doing - as a vampire, it was unlikely that he ever shook the hand of a human. Spike truly did have a good poker face.

Buffy, seeing her chance to talk to Giles about Adam - and Spike might even weigh in, although she thought his response would be something along the lines of "Good on him!" - opened her mouth to speak, but Willow spoke before her.

"Spike, do you mind if I shoot you?" Willow said innocuously, pointing the Initiative stun gun (the one that Riley had dropped) at Spike as though she had forgotten she was holding it.

Sam looked at her briefly, then smiled. "Now, she's not bluffing." she said.

Spike blinked. "Is there any reason that the answer I'll give should be yes?" he said cautiously.

Daniel chuckled. "Way to hedge your bets." he murmured.

"Well, I've got a theory about Adam, but I want to test it before I put it into to action, and you're the only person here that getting electrocuted wouldn't injure. And besides, you're the only person here I wouldn't mind shooting." Willow said, adding the last part as an afterthought.

"You know, that really doesn't help convince me to help you shoot me." said Spike. "Shoot Buffy, she can take it. Or the alien."

"Hey!" said Buffy indignantly, although she didn't know why. It was pretty much what she would've expected from Spike.

Daniel, ever the mediator, decided to step in before this became a full-scale battle. "Willow, why don't you tell Spike why you want to shoot him? And be as polite as possible, there's no reason to be mean." he said, feeling like a primary school teacher - albeit one at a very strange school.

Xander snorted. "Haven't you met him?" he said. Then both Daniel and Spike glared at him.

Oz hadn't really been paying attention to the usual playful bickering. He found that he hadn't missed that part of being a Scooby. Oz had tuned out when Willow mentioned she had a theory, and was mentally re-running the incident in his head to try and see what it was. Of course, the fact that he'd been a wolf-man for a good part of it didn't help - at times like that, he became pretty much mindless determination and a brilliant sense of smell - and being thrown across the room hadn't helped much either. Then he had it, and wondered why no one else had. It seemed so obvious.

"The Initiative stun gun had no effect on Adam, but those alien stun guns - Zats? - made him pause whenever one hit him. Willow wants to shoot Spike with both, because that would be the fastest way to test the power of each weapon, and because Spike would be the least likely to be harmed. Then, should the Zat prove to have a higher power than the other weapon, she will propose to build something that produces considerably more Watts, because, although Adam seems to be able to absorb electrical energy given time, increased wattage might cause him to overload and explode." Oz said. He knew that he was speaking somewhat stiltedly, but he found that he generally did when he was upset about something and couldn’t hide behind his usual monosyllabic, laconic façade.

"Uh, yes, exactly." said Willow with a stammer, which she wouldn't have had had it been anyone other than Oz speaking. She wondered what Oz was still doing here. He'd broken up with her, or she'd broken up with him, she wasn't entirely sure, but he was still here. Why didn't he just leave again? Willow found herself wondering whether she wanted him to or not. She thought that she wouldn't know until he left.

"Right, I didn't understand any of that, but it sounded as though shooting me would lead to something good." said Spike, mostly to himself. He would rather die than admit it, but he was playing an act at the moment. He wasn't fit to be sitting around playing poker. After being shot twice, and then having the bullets removed on the kitchen table, what he really should be doing was drinking lots and lots of blood, and then falling asleep for a few hours, upon which he'd be fine. What he didn't need was to be shot again.

"Yes, if I shoot you now, that will be the fastest way to see whether the plan will work or not, and then we can stop Adam before he kills more people." Willow said eagerly.

Spike tried really hard not to look at Sam and see how she was taking this, as she hadn't spoken yet. He didn't quite manage, but he couldn't tell anything from the look on her face. But he was pretty sure that if he were to have a shot with her, he'd have to stop being the brutal vampire he'd always been. Strangely, he found that that was a less abhorrent proposition than one leading to a distinct lack of Sam. So Spike sighed, stood up and moved around the other side of the table, quickly finished his blood-and-tea mixture before placing the cup on the table. "Go ahead." he said neutrally.

Willow hesitated a moment, and Spike noticed. It made him feel a little better. But that didn't stop her from pulling the trigger anyway.

The gun spat out what looked like a bolt of lightning, hitting Spike squarely in the chest. Willow, used to using the Zats, which had no recoil, had difficulty not jerking and accidentally shooting someone else. Spike's only reaction to being shot was a slight tightening of his facial muscles, and a minute change in his posture that looked like he was restraining himself, with difficulty, from knocking the gun out of Willow's hand and beating her over the head with it.

"Well, that was unpleasant." Spike said slowly, after a moment. By this point, Willow really didn't want to shoot Spike again - she'd seen the way that he'd reacted when she had, although she wasn't sure whether anyone else had - but it was necessary, the only way they knew of to kill Adam before he killed again. Willow had no choice. This time, Willow didn't hesitate, knowing that if she did there wasn't a chance that she'd actually be able to go through with it. So she pulled out the Zat that Sam had given her earlier, pointed it at Spike and shot him all in one motion.

This time, Spike actually convulsed, biting his lip so as not to cry out. Everyone, even Buffy, averted their eyes from the scene, finding it indecent to watch. If Spike were human, the Zat blast would've been sufficient to knock him out - but as a vampire, all it did was cause him agonizing pain.

It took Spike longer this time before he trusted himself to speak. "And that was really unpleasant." he said, then headed to Giles fridge, pulling out the sachets of blood and drinking them right there, not caring that it was cold, that it was stale animal blood, and above all not caring that people were watching.

"Well, at least we know..." murmured Willow, trailing off. She couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence.

Sam went over to Spike and silently put her hand on his arm. Words were unnecessary. Spike looked at the hand for a moment, then enveloped it with one of his own.
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