I love fic recs and I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile. I suppose what’s underrated is subjective, but regardless, here are some fics that deserve to be read.
*most of the authors featured here, I would rec pretty much all of their stories. These are my underrated faves*
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---Bound and Claimed by zabjade
A short and sweet oneshot, set after both the finales of AtS and BTVS. Subverts the claim trope in Buffy fic. Features cunning Fred and Lorne.
Excerpt:The sudden gleam in her eyes made him uneasy. “Uh, Freddykins? We really, really can’t actually do that, you know.”
“Well, no, of course not,” she said in that adorable accent of hers. Her face got that sort of excited, faraway look she got when she was doing some serious thinking. “Hitting him over the head would be too imprecise [...] Here’s what we’ll do instead….”Winter Lights by the_moonmoth
A deeply moving story. The presentation is so straightforward that the impact really creeps up on you, as it does for Buffy in-story.
I’d rec any of Moonmoth’s work just because I love her writing--lush, evocative, thematic--but this is the fic of hers that I’ve reread the most often.
The story is set post-Chosen. Buffy is traveling with an older potential turned slayer named Bridget in Alaska. They face the empty tundra together and as time stretches on, Buffy must also face herself. No more avoiding. A story about pain and loneliness and grief; a story about losing Spike to the Hellmouth, without directly saying so. A story about Buffy confronting her grief. It’s truly gorgeous. Bridget is one of my all-time favorite original characters in fic. She and Buffy really relate in a most awesome way--they are both antagonistic AND empathetic and it is so realistic to certain unsung aspects of female relationships that it is very, very refreshing to read. Also, do listen to the song that Moonmoth mentioned in the first chapter: Sights, by London Grammar.
Excerpt: Bridge just shakes her head with a sardonic smile. "What are you afraid of, hotshot? No point in denying it. Alaskans have Fear instead of God, we know what it looks like, and I know that you are.”
And maybe it’s the shock of the question coming straight out of left field, but it jolts Buffy’s brain into fragile, crystalline honesty, and she thinks, The way time presses on my chest. The way I wake up and it's like that. The knowledge of the day; the fact of it; that there’ll be one following it, and one after that. The way he died to give me this time and now all I have is hours.
Bring tissues. Complete in 6 parts.New Rules by Sigyn
Sigyn has many incredible fics, but this is one of my faves. An interesting little oneshot that helped me understand Buffy and Spike’s changing dynamics in S5. An honest moment shared while supervising Dawn and her friends at a bowling alley. Post-Intervention.
Excerpt: “At least I wasn’t stalking you, killing your friend’s fish, and leaving corpses in your watcher’s bed.”
“No, you were just lurking outside my home, creeping through my basement, and stealing my sweaters.” Buffy looked back at Dawn, who was staring at Spike’s bruises again. Dawn looked away.
“Touché, slayer,” Spike said softly. “I don’t pretend for one second I know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to court, only how to hunt. I can handle a one night seduction, but only if I’m planning to eat someone. Anything real, and I’m completely lost. Dru always liked to be tortured.” He looked down. “I’d have wooed you with more grace, if I knew how.”
Excellent vampire intrinsics. Spike’s Demon vs. Pants by CryshCn
Fun little oneshot. Spike’s demon is in the driver’s seat for once and seeing Buffy and her “pack” through his eyes is very amusing. One of my fave Feral Spike fics.
Excerpt:“Buffy? Why is Spike handing you clothes?” The Graying One sounded startled.
“Um, I kinda… taught him to… play fetch.” His Mate looked up at him guiltily, the demon impatiently tilted his head closer to her. She bit her lip enticingly, obviously an invitation to retrieve his reward. He waited until her teeth had relinquished her lip before he dove in and took their place. There were several surprised noises from the pack. He let her lip go and grinned at her, happily purring away.
“Buffy?!” The One With Ugly Shirts squawked.
“Um… it turns out that Spike’s inner demon is uh… friendly.”
“Does that mean he did sexy things to you when you were at his crypt?” The Ex-Demon was, as always, the calmest of the pack.
“Anya!! There is no way Buffy would let Spike do sexy things to her!!”
“It was just a question.”The good vampire by solstice
Another example of an author whose work should be read down to every last story...but for the underrated list, I have to rec this one.
Honestly, it took me 3 tries to get started on this story. The format is so different and first person really isn’t my cup of tea...but it has become A Rereader for me.
Solstice is queen of two kingdoms: Show, Don’t Tell and Subtle, but Powerful Emotional Impact.
This story is from Dawn’s perspective, spanning from the summer after Buffy died until partway through S6. Here’s the thing. Something, unstated, happened to Dawn which scrambled her brains. She’s an unreliable narrator because you as the reader can tell that she can’t remember certain things, including people’s names, but her thoughts are brutally honest. She sees everyone and everything just as they are. Seeing listless Buffy replace Buffybot and Spike grudgingly relinquish guardianship of Dawn through the eyes of someone mentally impaired is both intriguing and (you guessed it) emotionally impactful for both the reader and the observers in the fic.
Excerpt:“Alright, alright,” THE SAD REDHEAD says placatingly, getting to her feet. “I'll get her dressed. Come on, Buffy,” she says, taking my sister by the arm.
THE GOOD VAMPIRE is looking at the clock, and his thumbnail slides distractedly between his teeth as he bites at it, scraping away at the black polish.
“It's going to be alright, S-Spike,” THE SHY ONE says, her voice soft. He sits down beside her and she sets to work fixing his tie while he continues to worry his thumbnail. “Come on, relax,” she says, straightening the fabric and adjusting the knot. “You love her. That's all they'll need to see.”
THE GOOD VAMPIRE shuts his eyes, leaning back into the couch cushions. I want to comfort him, but I don't know how because I can't figure out why he's upset. Still, I get up from THE SHY ONE's other side and move to sit next to him instead. He puts out his arm without looking and I wriggle into the space he's made, putting my arms around his belly and setting my chin down onto his shoulder.
“I love you,” I tell him, and it feels true when I say it. He puts his hand on top of my head, pulling me closer so that he can press a kiss into my hair.
“I love you, too,” he says quietly, and there is a choke in his voice. “Don't forget, Dawn. You're everything.”
Solstice writes some excellent bro-sis Spike and Dawn. (I’m positive this isn’t an underrated fic, but if you somehow haven’t read Wild and Wonderful
, you’re missing out).
Happy ending.Near Enough by Herself
S6. Angst. Sweet, beautiful angst. An incredible writer. A heartrending oneshot. Buffy and Spike in bed. Or: Buffy hates herself and Spike endures the consequences of loving her.
Excerpt: Her goose-bumped flesh brushed against his mouth; she pressed her neck against it. Used one hand to turn his head, force him closer. The trembling had advanced to quivering, like the presage of an earthquake that animals and demons could feel in their bones; the blood behind her skin’s thin veil galloped at him, howled for him.
How unhappy she was!
And he: how powerless.
No help, no help after all.
Visceral.A Little Gratitude by coalitiongirl
What if Buffy continued to thank Spike with “platonic” kisses after the one in Intervention? Pure fluff. Minor Buffy denial. Feel good fic.
Excerpt:And when Spike readily agrees to watch Dawn for her after all the horribleness with Tara, it’s easier than ever to press her lips against his. It’s conveying the seriousness of his task without cheapening it with words, and she likes that. Dawn gives her an odd look as she leaves, but she’s calmed by Spike’s murmur to her sister. “Just a thanks from your sis. Nothing to read into it.”
“Uh huh,” Dawn says doubtfully. “Hey, try giving her chocolate on patrol or something. She’ll be happy to thank you.” She drawls out the last words, loud enough that she must know that Buffy can hear.
Cheeks reddening, Buffy hurries off.Clocks of the Long Now by lostboy
When I think Epic, I think of this fic. I love the writing. Also a bit unassuming in presentation, it meanders from scene to scene as it fleshes out the overarching plot of War and Armies, End of Days, Creepy AF Big Bads and Charming, Yet Primally Disturbing Monsters while poking at the hard inner truths of Scooby and minor character’s relationships in true Jossian fashion. It’s both deadly serious and utterly absurd at times. Pretty long (clocks in at 200k+ words), but definitely worth it. Set four years post-Chosen. I haven’t reread it in awhile but two of my fave subplots (separate and unrelated...I think) that come to mind deal with Kennedy forming her own opposing army of slayers and the original purpose behind Drusilla’s visions.
Excerpt:Xander stormed around the bend, his rifle tucked in a sharp line. Ready for anything.
Their bodies were entwined at the edge of the cliff, looking for all the world like the cover of some trashy harlequin novel. He froze in the shadows for a moment, watching them kiss like they invented it, and suddenly wished that Caleb had a few more seconds to work on him before Buffy turned him into evil preacher steaks. When it became obvious they weren’t gonna stop for invisible, jealous pirate guys, Xander cleared his throat.
Two moon-white faces turned to stare at him in unison. Buffy’s looked strange to him in the starlight; starved and tranquil and terrified, all at once. And Spike’s face looked like…
Well, it looked like Spike’s stupid face.
“Hey,” Xander said. “Sorry to interrupt, but…” He stopped himself. Frowned. “Okay. Not so much with the sorry part, really.”
They kept gawking, totally bewildered. Not at what he was saying, he got the feeling. They just seemed confused by the whole idea of ‘Xander Harris’ in general. He tried not to take it personally.
“It’s the thing,” he said. “Dawn’s thing.” He flung out his free hand, as if to mime the crazy image still lodged in his brain. Buffy’s eyes clicked wide at the sound of the girl’s name. Time seemed to stop moving again. It was like they were all trapped in some really lame play, and everybody forgot their next line. “It’s, um. Doing stuff,” he explained.
Buffy shot up. Her expression was something Xander hadn’t seen since the nights of Sunnydale; two parts brooding , one part exasperated. Hold the pickles. “Stuff,” she said.
“Kinda hard to describe. We think it, uh… wants you.”
The blondes didn’t seem to move so much as defrost, their limbs gradually writhing back to life. They were eerily quiet as they approached; not daring to look at each other, but not daring to drift too far apart either. An old, forgotten wound cried out, begging him to say something nasty. But that particular well had been dry a long time.
So, that’s how they marched: Xander picking his way down the black path to the compound, the Slayer and her favorite prey following silently behind. When he thought about it, there was no really good reason for the one-eyed normal guy to be leading the way, stopping every thirty seconds to shine a light on his antique field-compass. Yet every time he stole a backwards glance, he could almost understand why. The pair was shaking, walking on stiff knees. They reminded him of two people who had just survived a bomb blast. Whatever he’d interrupted seemed way too big for their bodies to hold inside.
Xander paused at the foot of a gnarled old tree, pretending to shake the compass back to life. After a few moments, he peered meekly at his old friend. She was looking at Captain Peroxide again. The softness he saw there was unexpected. It was one of those surreal and heart-mulching looks that said ‘Attention, Xander Harris! This ‘ship has totally sailed. Nothing to see here. Move along.’ He swallowed something hard in his throat. “I’m sorry,” he said. Buffy glanced at him, a weird kind of pity flashing in her eyes. At that precise moment, something very small and very fragile died inside him. “I’m sorry,” he continued, faking a more jovial tone. “But…uh… this thing is just totally busted. Darn army surplus rip-offs.”
Sullenly, he suggested that they lead the way. And they did.
He was blinded by the night, and moved forward by following the crunching sound of their feet. But somewhere in the darkness, Xander could just barely make out the outline of her small, white hand grasping his.
A little too tightly, if you asked him. He hoped no one ever would.
And for the first time in a very, very long time, he thought about Africa.
Don’t let this excerpt fool you. It is not a) all from Xander’s POV nor b) all about Spuffy. Lots of plot and subplot twisting around that have nothing to do with Spuffy, or even necessarily Spike or Buffy as individuals. Personally, that’s part of why I consider it epic.
Final note: take author warnings seriously. If you’re easily horrified, this fic may not be for you.Fin Amour by Angearia
Premise is the Key is sent to Buffy in the form of pregnancy, all Virgin Mary style. Canon-ish up til the gang’s escape RV crashes and they’re forced into a standoff. Buffy goes into labor and can’t fight. Spike won’t let any enemies close.
Epic, but tragic. But! Moonmoth has a WIP sequel (The Soul Lies Down
) that does a very fine job kissing it and making it better.
Excerpt:“Look, Spike, I’m just trying to get through this moment,” Buffy grits out. “And when I get through this one, I’m gonna try to get through the next. That’s how this works. I’m making it up as I go. I’ve been making it up ever since I found out the monks stuffed a Key inside me. So no, I haven’t picked out a name. ‘Cause I really don’t care about that right now.”
Spike reaches out, moves to lay his hand on her belly, but stops a fraction’s space from touching her. “Seems a bit unfair,” he muses. “Everyone blaming her for something out of her control. Sorry lot in life and she’s not even born yet. Poor sprog.” He drops his hand at his side and looks at Buffy. “Good thing she’s got her mum to look after her.”
“Nobody said it was her fault,” Buffy whispers. “I just… I don’t know how to do this.”
“Scary, isn’t it? Something primal about it. Completely out of your control. Like falling in love—you lose a bit of yourself.”
“Yeah, scary,” Buffy murmurs, eyes closed.
“It changes you in ways you can’t understand. Can’t predict. Can’t know until it’s done.”
“Maybe I don’t wanna be changed.” She opens her eyes and stares at him, frowning. “Anyone ever think of that?”
“Life never asks—just gives and takes. And we roll with it or we lay down and die.” He quirks his mouth. “’Course, some of us keep rolling with it even after we die.” He cocks his head, listening to sounds in the distance, then moves closer and kneels at her side. “Gonna keep you safe, Buffy. I promise.”
The author notes: “This story is my feminist spin on a chivalric epic. The concept for this story was inspired by discussion with flake_sake where the question was raised: how can a story express a great and abiding romantic love without the sexual expression of love? Fin Amour is my answer.”His Tender Mercies by Enigmaticblue
Oh, how I love this one! Instead of bringing back Darla as a human, Wolfram and Hart bring Drusilla back as a human. Far less crazy, much more innocent, and frankly terrified and out of her element, Dru runs straight to the person who’s always made things better...who can make things make sense. She runs to Spike, S4, stuck with his chip in Sunnydale.
Buffy and co witness the depths of Spike’s love and devotion, which cares not if Drusilla is human or vampire, only that she is safe and happy.
Starts kind of Sprusilla, but ends Spuffy. Excellent, excellent Dru characterization and arc. If you like Dru at all, read this.
Excerpt:"It's totally wiggy, Giles," Buffy said, pacing across from where he sat on the couch. "I mean, it's like Spike is a completely different person when he's with her."
Giles pulled off his glasses and started polishing them. In between Buffy's explanation of Drusilla being human again, and the sparse information they had on how it had happened, his Slayer had been constantly talking about Spike. Giles was beginning to wonder if he shouldn't be worried.
"Yes, well, Spike was with Drusilla for over a century," the Watcher pointed out reasonably. "And we know he took care of her when she was ill."
Buffy shook her head. "I know, but you didn't see them, Giles. It was—weird." She shook her head. "Spike was actually being considerate."
Giles sighed. "And Drusilla? How was she acting?"
Buffy frowned and sat. "Crazy one minute and sane the next. She was still sleeping when I left this morning, but I think that's only because Mom convinced Spike to give her some Benadryl. Apparently, Drusilla didn't sleep at all the night before that. Nightmares or something."
Giles pushed his glasses back on and leaned back against the couch cushions. "I see. It appears she's feeling the weight of her crimes then."
The Slayer nodded. "That's what it seems like, Giles. I don't know. I almost feel sorry for her. I know what she's done, but—If you saw her..."
"I do understand, Buffy," Giles replied. "For all the damage she caused as a vampire, Drusilla was Angelus' greatest crime. I believe he told you as much when she first came to town." At Buffy's nod, he continued. "She was a victim, first and foremost, and now it seems she is a victim again. Whatever—whomever—brought her back must be a powerful force, Buffy. We must find out if they present any danger to us as soon as possible."
"Drusilla is really freaked about seeing Angel again," Buffy replied reluctantly. "I pretty much promised I wouldn't call him."
"I don't think we have a choice," Giles returned. "While it's possible that Angel does not know the identity of this enemy, I think we must find out for sure."
She sighed. "I'll call him this afternoon, then, when it's more likely he's awake. Maybe I can convince him to stay in L.A." The Slayer made a face. "Not that I think it's likely."
Giles raised an eyebrow. "What are you going to do about Spike?"
"I don't know," Buffy huffed. "I mean, I can't just kick him out, not when he's taking care of Drusilla. I know I certainly don't want to get stuck with her, and Mom's pretty set on helping. So I guess they're both going to be staying until we can figure something else out."
Giles cleared his throat. "Do you think that's wise, Buffy? Keeping Drusilla and Spike both in the house with who-knows-what after her? Or at least having brought her back?" He hesitated, and then offered, "Perhaps if Angel does want to take her off your hands, that might be best. Drusilla is, after all, his responsibility."
Buffy considered, and then shook her head. "You didn't see her when Angel is mentioned, Giles. Maybe if she agreed to go with him willingly, but I honestly don't think she will."
"Think about it at least," Giles urged. "If Angel insists upon coming to Sunnydale, perhaps we can work on something then. You know he wouldn't hurt her."
"Yeah, I do," Buffy muttered. "But the question is, does she?"
Complete at about 58k words.The Living by Gwyneth Rhys
S6. Sometime after she tells Spike, “Goodbye, William,” Buffy steals away with him to Mexico for a final tryst. It’s all her idea, and it’s a bad one.
Dark, beautifully written. Curse you, Season 6.
Excerpt:For a while Buffy dozes, Mexican voices filtering in her ear, the presence of Spike next to her. When she finally wakes up she reaches over and ruffles his hair. "I love you like this, your hair like this. Bed hair... or sex hair. Fighting hair." And finally, for the first time, he smiles at her, benevolent and sweet.
The most curious thing happens. Her heart feels full, large. There are tears behind her eyes. Is this what she came here for, to see if she could feel this way ever again, for anyone, even Spike? Buffy pulls him to her chest, murmuring "William." To honor him, let him know how she feels.
Spike leaps to his feet in a such a flash of speed Buffy's momentarily dazed. "Don't you ever. Call me that. Again. Don't you ever use that name in my presence." Voice like ice cubes on her skin, prickling it. He glares at her for a heart-ripping second, and then storms to the bathroom, slamming shut the door. The shower starts.
It takes her a while to connect the dots and understand why he reacted that way. The understanding only makes her angry and a flame of rage creeps up her chest. After yanking the tag off the swimsuit, she puts it on and takes the room card and her sunglasses to head for the pool. Stopping by the door, she stares at the car keys and considers taking them. He could hotwire the car of course, but it's daylight and he can't get out there without frying. And he can't get back across the border easily without the spell. So Buffy leaves them. He's her prisoner now. As always.
Do You Want Milk With That? by Cryptwarmer
Because, phew, need to end on a light hearted one.
This is sexy, funny, and hilarious. Cryptwarmer nails the S4, newly-chipped Spike characterization. Begins with Spike and Buffy teaming up to slay a demon that is lured to its prey by sex. They proceed to stage certain antics which are extra silly in light of their still, very present enmity. Post-slayage, Spike and Buffy have some delicious magic-cookie-induced sexy times. Sounds wacky, trying to sum it up, but it is such a good time read!
Excerpt: (pre-magic cookie consumption)“Oh yeah! THAT'S how it's done baby,” Spike roared. “Seriously Slayer, you're a bleedin’ man eater. Made my naughties shrivel right up watching you swing that thing,” Spike complimented her.
At least she thought it was a compliment.
“You were very convincing Spike,” she offered back.
“Easy when you got the right partner,” he grinned “That was bloody brilliant.”
Buffy grinned too, pretty impressed with their night's work. She offered Spike a hand up but he shook his head and popped to his feet by himself.
“I'd make the two headed beast with you any day,” he said merrily.
“Now would be a good time to shut it,” she suggested.
“Come on baby...I know it was good for you too.” He nudged her with his shoulder. “You sounded right pretty in there love, soldier boy's one lucky bloke.”
“I'll carry that.” He reached for her weapon, with sword in one hand and axe in the other he strode along whistling.
“Are you always this chipper after...slaying things?”
“Slaying, shagging...both a right good time. Makes a bloke glad to be alive.”
“Makes me hungry,” Buffy admitted.
“Yeah, that too.”
There endeth my rec list for tonight. I’d love to hear other suggestions!