Chaos reigned. Screams rang out in the distance, intertwined with the shattering of glass and the screech of metal. The crash and bang of further destruction. The pop and crackle of fires, more imagined than heard as the wind of their passing carried the scent of burning. Death. Decay. The acrid stink of burning tires and the burnt pork smell of humans fed to the flames.
It sang to him. Called him to dance through the destruction and mayhem, to howl with the manic joy of it all as he joined in the chaos.
It was bloody magnificent. The sights. The sounds. The thrum of the machine between his legs. The woman pressed against his back, her arms around his waist. If it had been Dru….
But it wasn’t Dru, and it was bloody well unlikely it ever would be again, after the last time he’d seen her. And….
A zombie popped out from around a crashed car and right into the path of the motorcycle they’d found abandoned at a convenience store. Spike cursed and swerved, then swerved the other way to avoid a three-car pile-up.
…and I need to keep my head in the game and out my arse, or we’re both going to end up losing ours, he thought grimly, focusing on his driving. Dru’s buggered off, and you’re bloody well rid of her, no matter how much it hurts. And maybe Buffy will never love you, but she cares, and at least she’s sodding well there when you need her.
Buffy’s arms tightened around him, conveying a question with that simple movement.
“No worries, love,” he called out just loud enough to be heard over the engine. “Just a bit of turbulence. If that map Graham included is right, shouldn’t be much longer until we get to the police station.”
And the closer they got, the harder it was going to be to actually get there. They’d heard the PA system, urging everyone to go to the station, where there would be food and medical supplies. Seemed the whole bloody city had been on their way, making themselves a buffet for the zombies with all the traffic jams and car wrecks. It was getting harder to navigate the roads even with something as small as the bike. The sidewalks, though…. Still a mite crowded with debris, but nothing he couldn’t handle.
He grinned and swerved the bike towards the curb. “Gonna be a bit of a bump.”
They were here to end this mess, not play in it, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the ride, now did it?
Spike bounced once on the balls of his feet, then burst into motion. Punch. Kick. Duck and roll before sweeping out a leg. Then he was back up on his feet, pausing for a moment to focus on his connection to the slayer. A few miles away, probably held up by a fledge or somesuch. He could follow the link to where she was or just wait for her to show up for their sparring match.
She’ll probably be finished up before I even get to her, he decided. Best to just keep to his warmup. That decided, he turned towards the heavy-duty, reinforced punching bag they’d hung up in the training room. He’d only got a few hits in before the door to the alleyway opened… with Buffy still a mile or so away.
“Sorry, but we’re closed for…” He caught the scent as he was turning towards the intruder, before he even saw her. Just soon enough to shift the punch meant to smash into her face. “…business.”
“Hello, Spike.” Dru smiled dreamily and stroked her own cheek with the bud of a red rose. “Mummy’s home. Did you miss me, my darling boy?”
“Dru,” he whispered hoarsely, his arm falling down to his side as he stared at her. She’d come back for him. She…. She was injured, covered in healing burns. “What happened?”
She moved as she talked, swaying and twirling in time to music only she could hear. Once, he would have joined her, following her lead wherever the mystery music would take them. Once…. Never again. It could never be again, and his non-beating heart ached with the knowledge.
He drank in the sight of her, committing the way she moved even more to his memory as she told him what had happened. He didn’t catch all of it. A film seemed to have stretched across reality. All he knew was that Angel had set her on fire. Had tried to kill her….
Bloody Angel. Couldn’t sodding well do anything right, could he? Always has left me to clean up the mess when it comes to women. He took a deep breath, and slowly let it out…. And then lunged forward, grabbing for Drusilla’s hair with one hand while the other fished the stake out of his coat pocket. Don’t think, he told himself. Don’t think, just bloody do it.
Dru shrieked and pulled away, her flailing arm knocking the stake from his hand. “Traitor!” she spat. “She’s still all around you. Even in you, now. But she can’t have you. I shan’t let her.”
She came at him, then. None of her mind tricks, just a whirlwind of teeth and claws. He fought her, and he fought himself. He wanted to grovel at her feet and beg her forgiveness. Beg her to take him back. He wanted to scream, to rage at her for throwing him away. Wanted to tell her to go, that he’d pretend he hadn’t seen her to keep her safe from the slayer. Had to kill her, because it was what Buffy needed him to do. Had to end her – dust and gone – so that she would never kill again. For Buffy…. He had to….
He pinned her down near where he’d dropped the stake, just barely able to grab it while still keeping her trapped under him. Then he shifted, barely aware of the sound of the door opening again.
For Buffy. I have to do it for Buffy.
“Sorry, Dru,” he whispered.
The stake plunged down.
And before it could pierce her chest, someone slammed into him, knocking him aside. Bloody hell! Before the identity of his attacker even registered, he took a swing.
“Stop!” Buffy yelled, grabbing his fist. “If you set off that chip, I swear I’m going to hunt up someone to take it out just so I can shove it up your ass.”
He blinked up at her. “…Don’t think something small enough to be shoved into my noggin without brain damage would really be all that bad up my arse.” It wasn’t what he’d meant to say. He’d meant to babble some sort of explanation. Or maybe a thank you.
“Yeah, well, the chip isn’t wrapped up in my fist at the moment, which will be wearing a set of spiked brass knuckles if I have to follow through,” she said sweetly. “Also, the lack of brain damage is debatable.”
Spiked brass knuckles….
No, he told his body firmly. The thought of the bloody slayer fisting you with a set of spiked brass knuckles is not arousing. His body refused to believe him. He supposed if the spikes were small enough, and blunt….
Buffy shifted on top of him, her nose wrinkling as she noticed his reaction. “Weirdo,” she muttered affectionately. She opened her mouth to say more, but was cut off by a wail from Dru.
Bloody hell. I forgot about her. Not entirely true. He’d wanted to forget about her. To give her time to escape, even though he knew she had to die. Except…. Buffy had stopped him from staking her. Why had she stopped him from staking her? You know why. So it wouldn’t be you.
“I’ve lost you now,” Dru said sadly. “There was a chance, if I came for you…. But she interfered, and now you’re lost to me.”
“You lost him when you threw him away,” Buffy said, voice harsh as she got to her feet. Her hand snaked down as he got up onto his knees, curling around the back of his neck to keep him from standing up. “And you didn’t come for him. You got hurt, and you came crying to your former caretaker to kiss your boo boos better. Get the hell out of my town, Drusilla. If I see you again, I’ll stake you and mail your dust to Angel.”
Dru just looked at him, slowly shaking her head. “My sweet William…. Not mine anymore. My daisy boy belongs to the sunshine, now.”
Then she was gone, out through the door and into the shadows.
They watched in silence for a moment before Buffy turned to face him, her hand still on the back of his neck.
“Promise me,” she said fiercely. “Promise me that you’ll never stake her, unless there’s no other choice.”
“Why?” he asked. He wasn’t questioning the reason for the promise. They both knew the answer to that.
“You tried to kill Riley for me. You couldn’t, but you tried and….” She shuddered and sank to her knees in front of him, resting her forehead against his chest. “You tried to do it, so I wouldn’t have to. I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure you never have to kill Dru. Maybe I should have staked her tonight, but I didn’t want to do it right in front of….”
She shuddered again as her words trailed off.
He wrapped his arms around her, letting himself just hold her for a bit while he tried not to think. Couldn’t stop himself. Couldn’t keep the thoughts from coming. Dru was gone. She’d left him. Again. Abandoned him. Again.
Tried to kill her, he reminded himself, feeling oddly numb. He’d been about to drive a stake into her chest. Thought I had no choice, didn’t I? Thought I needed to do it, to prove…. Didn’t change anything. She was gone, and here he was with no one to take care of. No one to need him. No one….
Got Joyce and the Nibblet, don’t I? Even the bloody Scoobies. And Buffy….
“Come on, Slayer,” he said quietly, pulling away from her and getting to his feet. He reached his hand down to pull her up. She was still hurting from the tin soldier’s fiery demise. She needed him to help take her mind off it. “Let’s spar and get in a good patrol. After, we can pick up a couple pints of ice cream and watch some badly dubbed kung fu movies. Sound good?”
She gazed at him with eyes that saw more than he wanted just then. Eyes that knew what he needed right now. “That sounds great.”
It wasn’t exactly her first rodeo. Monsters. Apocalypses. Even a magical version of zombies. She’d dealt with it all. Still, there was a small part of her that wanted to just press her face against Spike’s back and hide. To block out the sights and, especially, the smells.
Oh, god, the smells. Even her human nose was able to pick up the copper tang of blood and the sickly-sweet stench of decay. And then there was the one that still sometimes haunted her nightmares. It was faint, but she’d become sensitized to it. The charred pork smell of burning human.
Remembered screams echoed through her mind along with hazy visions of that night. The night she’d….
The motorcycle lurched as Spike swerved to avoid a zombie, then again to keep from plowing into a bunch of wrecked cars. What the hell? Buffy tightened her arms around his waist, wondering what had just happened. The zombies weren’t exactly fast, and Spike had the situational awareness of a predator. Why had he had to swerve at the last minute like that to avoid one?
Distracted, she thought, shaking her head slightly. Awesome situational awareness did squat for him when he wasn’t actually paying attention. Which was why he’d occasionally been known to run into walls and trees or fall into empty graves when he was busy monologuing at people about whatever random passion had bitten him on the ass at that moment.
“No worries, love,” he called out over the roar of the motorcycle engine. “Just a bit of turbulence. If that map Graham included is right, shouldn’t be much longer until we get to the police station.”
The police station…. The city’s emergency PA system had been urging people to go there, where there was supposed to be food, medicine, and safety. Had anyone actually made it? And if they had, was the safety real?
She shifted, resettling the weight of the duffel bag full of weapons across her back. It didn’t matter. She’d make the safety real, once they got there. She hadn’t been able to do anything to protect the people infected with the T-virus, but she’d do whatever she could for the survivors.
“Going to be a bit of a bump.” Spike’s voice was full of barely suppressed glee as he angled the motorcycle towards the sidewalk.
Well, at least one of us is having fun, she thought sourly, tightening her hold again as they went over the curb.
Not that she really blamed him. Chaos, death, destruction. It was all basically vampire nip, and Spike was what he was. No government pain chip or feelings of love and friendship were going to change that. He did the best he could for her sake, and she’d come to accept it.
Besides, he needs a bit of fun right now. There wasn’t going to be much once the G-mutant started hunting for him.
What? Where was…? What? The Bronze. She’d gone to the Bronze with Tara to talk about classes. Spike and Xander had been there, playing pool. Xander had been complaining about Willow and….
“How is this in any way my fault? You’re the one who released the troll. With ingredients you stole from the shop, I might add.”
Troll. That’s right. There was a troll. A sense of urgency rose up, pushing aside the numb confusion. A troll had been rampaging through the Bronze. She had to get up. Had to….
“Up and at ‘em, slayer.”
A weight was suddenly lifted off of her, and Buffy blinked her eyes open, gazing up at Spike as he carefully set a big piece of railing to the side. There was a cut along his cheek, and he was moving like things hurt inside.
“Is everyone okay?” she asked as he helped her to her feet. The troll was gone. There was just the devastation it had left behind. The quiet moans and sobs of injured, scared people.
Spike just looked at her for a moment, something dark and knowing in his eyes. “Just minor injuries to our lot,” he said quietly. No mention of anyone else. No mention of the people who couldn’t moan or sob anymore. “Xander’s the worst of it with a broken arm.”
A quick glance around showed Tara trying to free people from the rubble while Anya fussed over Xander. And Willow….
“What was the spell?” Buffy asked, her voice harsher than she’d meant it to be as she interrupted the other woman’s it’s-totally-not-my-fault fest. “What was the big, important spell that couldn’t wait for Giles to get back?”
Willow wouldn’t look at her. “I… um…. Well, I just wanted to put together a spell to help you. A portable ball of simulated sunshine to help take out vampires.”
A portable ball of…. Buffy just stared, her brain unable to process for a moment. All this destruction. All these people hurt (and dead, a little voice whispered through her mind). All because Willow had wanted to create a spell for a….
“Oh, that’s just bloody brilliant,” Spike said with a snort of disgust. “Did you plan to whip up some magical sunblock, too, or was I meant to trail along with a parasol like Mary bloody Poppins?”
“She doesn’t alw–”
“Go.” Buffy cut her off. She didn’t want to hear any more, and there was a troll on the loose, doing God knew what. “Go back to the Magic Box and see if you can find a spell to stop the troll. Anya, get Xander to the hospital and let them know we need some ambulances here. Then go help Willow.”
They all went, acknowledging with words she barely even heard. A portable ball of simulated sunlight…. Her body went into autopilot mode, helping to move the heavier bits of rubble so Tara could get at the people trapped beneath.
She didn’t always patrol with Spike. But there are always vampires when I hunt for vampires. And vampires burst into flame when exposed to sunlight. Flaming vampires set other things on fire. Including the humans they were hunting.
God, she could almost smell it. The stench of burning pork. What the hell had Willow been thinking? Gee, Buffy had to set her boyfriend on fire a few months ago. Maybe she’d like a vamp barbecuing spell. And she had to have known on some level that it was stupid, otherwise she wouldn’t have tried it while Giles was gone. Wouldn’t have….
“I’m not sampling, you know,” Spike grumped, snapping her out of her thoughts.
What? Not sampling? What the hell was he talking about? She blinked, realizing that she’d ended up staring at Spike, her fists clenched in anger at her sides. He was crouched beside an injured woman, looking annoyed. And hungry.
“All these blood covered people, and I haven’t taken so much as a lick. I could, you know. Chip wouldn’t care. But I haven’t. Know you wouldn’t approve.”
“What, you want some kind of credit for not feeding on bleeding disaster victims?” she snapped, utterly disgusted.
I don’t fucking believe this. She fought the urge to punch him in the nose. The woman he was helping didn’t need to see him get beat on, no matter how much he deserved it.
Willow had released a monster on the town and seemed to care more about passing the blame than fixing what she’d done. And now here was Spike, wanting a pat on the head or something for not being gross and… doing what any vampire would have been tempted to do. Even Angel.
The realization hit her like a hammer right between the eyes. He’s a vampire. She never really forgot it, but he’d become one of them to the point where she sometimes forgot just what that meant. He wasn’t a human surrounded by injured people and acting like he deserved a medal for helping instead of harming them. He was a hungry predator surrounded by wounded prey, wanting some kind of recognition for fighting against what every instinct was screaming at him to do.
“Yeah,” he snapped back. “I’m bloody well trying, you know, and it’d be nice if some–”
She crossed the distance between them, cutting him off as she pulled him up out of his crouch. “You’re right,” she said quietly.
Then she kissed him. A light brush of her lips against his. An appreciation without being a promise. She couldn’t give him what he really wanted. Not yet. Maybe never. But she could recognize what he was willing to do for her.
“Go,” she said quietly, trying to ignore the thrill of contact tingling through her body. The shocked, wondering look in his eyes flashed to hurt, then anger. “I need you to track the troll. It’s probably leaving a trail big enough for even Xander to follow, but you’ll do better against it, and I can find you once the ambulances get here.”
His eyes narrowed. Still angry, but not quite as much. “I can bloody well control myself. Don’t need to be sent on a bloody errand to keep the humans safe.”
“I know.” She took his left hand in her right, threading their fingers together. “But you’re hurt, and you’re hungry, and it isn’t fair to dangle all this in front of you like a treat that you can’t have. Besides, I really do need someone following the troll while I do what I can to get some of the bigger bits of debris moved.”
The anger was gone, but she couldn’t read the emotion that had replaced it. He tilted his head, studying her. Then he slowly nodded before leaning forward and kissing her. Cool and soft, but also firm. Passion and a burning hunger for her kept carefully leashed by a promise not to push farther than she was ready for.
And then he was gone, out into the night to hunt for the troll.
The job of a Watcher was to watch. They were meant to send out their slayers and wait, until the day the one they waited for didn’t return. He’d never particularly cared for that aspect of the job, but for now, Giles waited. He and Dawn had been left with the RV at a long-closed truck stop on the outskirts of Raccoon City.
Buffy and Spike would try to be back by morning, and they were to stay and wait. And he would watch over Dawn until his slayer returned.
If she returns….
“Earl Grey,” Dawn said quietly, setting a cup of tea on the table in front of him. Then she slid into the seat across from him with a mug of her own. Hot chocolate from the smell wafting up with the steam. She stared down into it like it held the secrets to the universe. “They’re going to be okay, right?”
He didn’t answer right away, searching fruitlessly within the depths of his own cup before taking a slow sip. A surprising amount of good had come from Spike moving into the Summers basement, including all of them learning the proper way to make tea. He allowed himself to savor the flavor for a moment before carefully setting the cup down.
“Your sister is a very resourceful young woman,” he said finally, reminding himself as much as Dawn. “And Spike has a habit of landing on his feet, no matter how dire the situation.”
“He got captured by the Initiative.”
“And escaped. Something none of the other demons managed,” Giles pointed out. “He’s cleaver and has quite a lot of experience to draw upon. I’ve no doubt he and Buffy can handle whatever they find.”
He tried to convince himself of it. The slayer dreams had indicated that they’d be alright if they stayed together. But what if they didn’t? What if they didn’t manage whatever it was they were meant to do “before dinner?” What if….
What if flying pigs come bursting up from the sewers? He shook his head and took another sip of tea. He had to have faith in his slayer. She would get through this. Her and Spike both. He opened his mouth to say as much to Dawn.
But before he could speak, there was a screech of tires and the sound of an engine. Headlights stabbed in through the window, half-blinding him as he stared at the lorry barreling towards them.
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November 10, 2020 23:47
The ripples from the virus continue with the biggest one continuing to be the joining spell. It's had a large affect on Spike but also Buffy, especially in self-awareness. He's a vampire, and this time Buffy isn't holding Spike to the same expectations as originally. This time Buffy knows him well enough to trust her gut and take a second look on a situation before judging harshly.
Meanwhile Spike is making progress in finding a middle ground between pleasing his demon and adjusting to his new place in life. Now if only there wasn't a deadly virus outbreak. Loving this =)