Almost there. Just another turn in a moment or two, and then they’d be at the police station. There was the vague urge to just keep on going, drive on and out, leaving everything behind except for the woman pressed against his back. He let himself consider it for half a second before shaking his head.
Sod that, he thought with a snort. Much more fun to fight by her side against the nasties than to just bugger off. ‘Sides, Slayer’d be like to skin my hide if I even tried it. Of course, a bit of a row with her would be its own sort of fun, wouldn’t it?
God, she’d be bloody glorious. Hair still windswept from the ride, eyes blazing with rage, and the heat of it bringing color to her cheeks. Her bosom heaving as she tried to keep it all in. Then she’d explode, starting with a fist to his nose before going after him in earnest. He’d duck and dodge, weave around her, but it wouldn’t be enough. She’d pound him into the ground, punching and screaming until her fury was spent. Then she’d gaze down at what she’d done and a hint of contrition would seep in amongst the satisfaction. She’d think maybe she went just a touch too far, so she’d reach into her boot for her knife and–
The motorcycle jolted as something fell on them from above, startling a shout from Buffy and sending the bike veering out of control. Spike cursed and fought with it, trying to keep them on the sidewalk and away from the abandoned cars along the side of the road. Behind him, he could feel the slayer tensing, ready to do what she could to rid of them of their uninvited guest. If the zombie managed to bite into her unprotected neck or head…. If her struggles upended the bike, leaving her even more vulnerable to the bloody thing….
“Hold on tight!” he called out to her, increasing their speed as much as he could while still keeping them upright and going the right direction.
Her arms squeezed around him, tight enough to force the air out of his lungs and keep him from drawing in more. The goblins of anxiety broke free in his brain, running about in a panic, screaming that he needed to breathe. Needed air. Needed….
No you bloody well don’t. Sodding vampire, remember? You can bloody well endure. For Buffy. He ruthlessly clamped down on the panic and sped up, beyond what he had any hope of controlling. Then he whipped the bike around the corner, flinging the zombie off to the side.
Buffy’s grip loosened enough for him to breathe, and his mouth stretched out in a grin. He’d bloody well pulled it off. Just a moment more, and they’d–
There was a sodding wall of cars blocking the road, and they were going too fast to stop in time.
They were well and truly buggered.
The zombie went flying off the bike, and Buffy immediately loosened her grip on Spike without letting go. She didn’t want to risk triggering a panic attack – especially when he was trying to steer an out-of-control motorcycle – but she wasn’t exactly eager to join the zombie in being flung off into the street.
She shuddered, relieved that Spike’s crazy idea had worked. And that she hadn’t exactly known what that idea was until after he’d made that turn. Maybe I’ll give him a punch to the nose for every gray hair I end up with in the morning from that stunt. Though that wouldn’t be fair, since a good share of them would probably be from a fucking zombie falling on her from the sky. Or off a roof. Whatever. Zombie from above. Either way, she was seriously not a fan.
“Bloody hell!” Spike suddenly shouted.
Buffy peered around his shoulder, and the world seemed to go into slow motion. Cars. Everywhere. There was no way around them, and no way they could stop in time. Fuck.
“Going to the right!” she called out, time snapping back to normal as she leaned that way.
She could feel Spike leaning to the other side to counterbalance. Then she was kicking free of the bike. Twisting to wrap herself around the duffel bag of weapons. A crash to the ground, and rolling to diffuse the impact as much as she could until she slammed into a car.
There was a moment of still silence, as if the world was holding its breath. Then the pain flooded in. Ow. Owie. Ow. She felt like she’d gone a few rounds against a brick wall. Or, you know, a fucking road. At least she’d been wearing jeans and a leather jacket. If not, she’d have probably left behind at least half of her skin. As it was….
She forced herself up into a sitting position, struggling to get untangled from the duffel bag. She gave up after a moment to take stock. Scrapes and bruises. A patch on her thigh where her jeans and a layer or two of skin had been left behind on the road. She hurt, but at least nothing seemed to be broken.
“You alright, Slayer?”
Tension she hadn’t fully been aware of eased as Buffy turned her head towards Spike. He was standing next to another car, looking no worse than she felt. Not exactly great, but at least he’d managed to get off the bike before it crashed.
“Yeah,” she said in response to his question, grimacing at a fresh burst of pain as she shifted position. Not exactly her best fall ever, but she hadn’t done too bad. “Cheerleading and ice skating really teach you how to take a tumble. And, you know, the whole being the slayer thing. The weapons are okay, too.” She patted the duffel bag. “I broke their fall.”
“Oh, good,” Spike said with a lazy smirk. “Be a right bitch to have to replace ‘em and the rest of the supplies.”
She snorted and hauled herself up to her feet with a grunt. Before she could ask Spike for help getting untangled, there was a thump beside her and his smirk had melted away into an expression of pure horror.
Time slowed again. Buffy had all of the time in the world to look to the side. To see the zombie cop on the hood of the car, lunging hungrily towards her. It’s gaping, putrid mouth only inches from her face.
Then Spike was there, his right wrist jammed between the thing’s teeth.
“Bad dog!” he snarled, driving his other fist between its eyes hard enough to crunch bone and drive it into the brain. “No nummy treat for you.”
Gotta destroy the brain, she thought blankly, remembering Graham’s report. The T-virus stimulated the hunger and motor centers of the brain. Destroy that, and there was nothing for it to work with.
Spike seemed to remember, too. He punched the zombie in the head a couple more times before pulling his wrist free from its mouth. He wiped away the blood and drool with a noise of disgust, then turned and leaned against the hood of the car. It was a police car and there was the body of a cop sprawled across it….
“Hello, cutie,” she murmured, hopefully low enough that Spike wouldn’t actually hear.
No such luck. He tilted his head to the side, then slowly grinned. “Remember that, do you? After all this time?”
“It wasn’t that long ago,” she muttered, feeling her cheeks heat with embarrassment. Oh, yeah, she’d definitely remembered. Sometimes in dreams that a slayer seriously shouldn’t have been having about someone who had been an enemy at the time. “You remember. Why shouldn’t I?”
“I remember it because I’m in love with you. What’s your excuse? Had feelings that were rosier than you’d like to admit, even back then?”
The grin was wider, to the point where she was tempted to offer him a fork for all the shit he was clearly eating. “Just shut up and help me with this damn duffel bag.”
The jackass laughed at her, but he also helped her finally get untangled. And then he led the way towards the police station.
How the bloody hell did I let myself get talked into this? Spike wondered, staring down into a box full of threads of silvery white… stuff. He’d no bloody clue what it was made of, just that he, Buffy, and Dawn were meant to be spreading it about on the gallery walls to mimic spider webs. Whatever it was was vaguely sticky, though more of a static cling sort of thing than glue or chewed bubblegum.
Buffy pulled a two-foot strand out, stared at it for a moment, then just slapped it up on the wall before grabbing another. Part of it clung to her sleeve, and then to her back as she turned towards her Watcher. “Are you sure you researched Mom’s display enough?” she demanded. “Because we seriously do not need a repeat of the Mask Incident.”
“You’ve a bit of–” Spike started to say, reaching out to grab the other end of the strand she was holding.
“Not now,” she snapped, turning towards him for a moment and causing more of it to stick to her. “With your luck, if we unleash spider demons, they’ll end up nesting in your hair or something. You could get a shiny new phobia to keep the bears company.”
His eyes narrowed as she turned back towards Giles. A shiny new phobia? That was bloody well uncalled for, wasn’t it? Before he could tell the slayer off, the nibblet nudged him and took the end of the strand from him. Then she slowly lowered herself into a squat, carefully snaking the strand down her sister’s shirt and jeans.
“The ‘Mask Incident’ was due to Joyce getting a hold of legitimate artifacts. What she bought this time is no more than art. I consulted….”
And the Watcher was off, rambling on about all of the books he’d read through.
Dawn gave Spike another nudge, rolling her eyes and folding her hand and flapping her fingers in the universal motion of someone running their gob. He grinned and handed her another strand, taking one for himself. He played with the strand a bit, discovering that pulling it apart produced a spiderweb effect. So, that’s the trick of it, is it? That had some possibilities. Slayer didn’t want to listen to him? Thought she could make fun of him when she was the one who’d made a sodding bear? He slowly smirked, then carefully stuck one segment of the webbing to her shoulder, stretching it down past her arse.
“Okay, so you’ve looked at a lot of books, but you don’t exactly own all of the books in existence,” Buffy pointed out. “There could be all kinds of spider demon stuff in other books.”
The little bit grinned back at him and opened up her own strand before wrapping it lightly around Buffy’s leg. Barely there whispers of touch, not enough for even the Slayer to notice while she was focused on her Watcher. The man himself just gave them a vaguely disapproving look but didn’t say anything. At least, not about what they were doing. He’d plenty more to say about the research.
“Now, see here, I have thoroughly researched every part of your mother’s purchase. I even had Willow check her computer. While it honors a spider deity, none of it is anything more than artwork. There will be no spider demons…. At least, none from this display.”
Good save, there, though Spike wasn’t going to bring up the three types of spider demons already living in Sunnydale. And none have caused a sodding “phobia.” He actually liked spiders. Bears were just bloody terrifying, especially when you were tied to a bloody chair.
“Oh, wow, that’s reassuring.” Buffy turned back towards the wall, Dawn almost falling in her haste to silently back away. Then she turned back towards Giles. “Your record on researching stuff isn’t exactly one hundred percent, you know. Like that fear demon thingy. And there was the time with Word of Valium that you thought was a book, when it was really some doohickey you had. You could have missed something, and it’s not like it would kill you to look into things a bit more.”
The look Giles was giving them was quite a bit less disapproving now. Spike looked back at him, raising a brow and almost daring him to tattle as he passed bits of web back and forth to Dawn.
The man’s lips twitched into something that was almost a smile. “Yes, well, as I’m not needed here, I’ll be going.”
“Giles,” Buffy started to take a step forward, then froze. She slowly looked down. “What the…?”
“Tried to warn you, Slayer. You’d got a bit of the webbing stuck to you,” Spike said blandly. She stared at him incredulously, then looked back at all of the webbing. She wasn’t stupid. She knew there was no way she’d done it all to herself. “Careful, don’t want to tear up your mum’s stuff, now, do you?”
The look on her face clearly said that she wanted to tear up something. Possibly his spleen after chewing her way to it.
“I should get back home,” Dawn said, standing up and slowly backing away. “I’ve got homework to finish.”
“What? Come back! You can’t just…. Giles?” The Watcher was heading towards the door with Dawn. “You can’t just leave me like this.”
“I’m terribly sorry, but you were quite right. I must do further research. I’m sure you can handle this without me.”
“Be sure to replace the good scotch after your ‘research’,” Spike called out, grinning as the other man responded with a two-fingered salute.
Then he and Dawn were gone, leaving Spike alone with Buffy. He titled his head, studying her. Eyes blazing, spots of color on her cheeks. Teeth clenched so tight it was a wonder her teeth hadn’t shattered. God, but she was gorgeous when she was riled.
“Suppose I could help you out with all this, but we wouldn’t want me getting any ‘phobias,’ now would we?”
“I swear to God, Spike, if you don’t –”
He patted a bit of the webbing into place over her mouth, chuckling at her boiling teakettle sound of rage. Then he got to work getting her untangled.
Joyce would love this place. That bittersweet thought flitted through Spike’s mind as he glanced around the lobby of the police station. Well, maybe not the scattered bits of medical equipment and footprints left in blood, but she’d have appreciated the statues and general museum vibe of the place. Interesting look to it, though he had to wonder what kind of place repurposed a museum into a police station and kept the art.
Probably Sunnydale, now he thought on it. Seemed the sort of thing the late great Mayor Wilkins would have done. He’d have to take a look at the local station once they got back home. If they got back home, which would be a hell of a lot more likely if he stopped with the woolgathering.
He dropped down into a crouch next to a set of footprints and closed his eyes, breathing in deeply through his nose. Fear. Death. Blood, both old and relatively fresh, making him hungry despite all the blood he’d guzzled before leaving the RV.
Buffy lightly nudged him with her foot. “Anything?” she asked quietly. No snarky comments about how “gross” it was that he was sniffing about like an animal. Slayer was definitely worried.
“Lots of people crisscrossing about in the past couple of days,” he answered, opening his eyes as he stood up. He scratched at his injured wrist. Bloody zombie had chomped down hard enough to pierce through his skin. Some of the smaller tooth marks had partially sealed already, but it’d be a bit before it was all healed up. And healing always bloody itched. “No one’s been in this area for the past two or three hours, though.”
Buffy took a deep breath, then blew it out noisily. “Because nothing can be easy,” she muttered.
Then she walked past him and over to the receptionist/information desk in the center of the room. There was a large storage box next to a computer showing a security camera feed.
“Empty,” she said, peering into the box. “We can store some things in here while we check out other parts of the sta–”
She froze and stared at the computer. Spike caught the sound of running as he moved forward to get a better look at the monitor. A man in a torn and filthy police uniform had stopped and was staring up at the camera.
“Help,” the man gasped out. “If anyone can hear me…. East wing. Please!”
Then he darted away as a shambling horde came into view.
Buffy immediately dug into the duffel bag, carefully pulling out a sheathed short sword and the handgun Giles had bought for her. Then she tossed him the sword before putting the bag into the storage box.
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