He was starting to feel itchy again. Not too bad. Mostly around the tooth marks in his wrist. There was also a sort of proto-itch along his upper back and hiding just under the skin of his shoulders. Not quite there. Not driving him mad with the need to scratch. But he could feel it waiting to pounce.
He rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the sensation a bit while also readjusting the backpack he was wearing. The straps were a bit loose, to make it easier to draw the sword still sheathed under it. Since that was the closest to a distance weapon the bloody chip would allow him, the backpack was filled with extra ammo for Buffy, along with some basic first aid supplies, a couple bottles of Gatorade, and some snacks. More of it all was tucked away still in the storage box, since they’d likely be back and forth to the lobby a few times.
Still itchy and almost-itchy, but he tried to ignore it and focus on the business at hand. Buffy had settled the rifle across her back and was double checking the ammo pouches on her holster belt. It was odd seeing her all decked out like that, but fitting. A warrior, no matter the weapons she used and the situations she found herself in.
“I think that’s everything we’ll need for now,” she said, handing him a flashlight before closing up the box. “Come on.”
Then she led the way to yet another security door, this one leading to the west side of the building and looking more like the type used to close the shops in a mall. The others had looked more like garage doors. Maybe it had been a gift shop or cafe back in the museum days, but now it seemed to be a place to pay off traffic tickets and the like.
Then and now, neither one much mattered at the moment. Buffy cut through the tape sealing up the control panel for the door, and they were in. A quiet little place with no zombies, and where there was no chance of Dead Meat Marv overhearing and asking questions that he wouldn’t really want the answers to.
Before Spike could say anything, though, Buffy started, going on about those medallions being locked away in statues, including the one of a lion at the back of the lobby. There were codes, and….
She seemed to go on and on forever, even though he knew, distantly, that it had been barely any time at all. Just an eternity of trying to listen while he was so. Damn. Itchy. Itchy, itchy, itchy. And the hunger was growing by the second. He stared at her exposed neck. No clothes or anything to get in the way. Just sink his teeth in and rip out her throat. Chew, chew, chew the meat and lap up the blood.
No. No. couldn’t do that. Needed to eat the slayer to get better, but not like that. Couldn’t do that to her. She was his slayer. She was Buffy. Also, the thing. The thing in his head…. What was he thinking about? Hungry. Itchy.
He grabbed his wounded wrist and squeezed, the pain bringing him back to his senses. For a bit, at least, but he’d no illusions about it lasting much longer.
“Buffy,” he interrupted. “Got a bit of good news/bad news for you. Good news is, I figured out that whole ‘before dinner’ thing from the dreams. Bad news is that ‘dinner’ means me going ‘round the bloody bend and eating someone. And not in my usual, suave way of eating someone.”
He held out his wrist for her to see, and she paled. Puffy, with redness radiating out into his hand and up his arm. The area of the bite, though, was chalky white with a disturbing greenish tinge. And it smelt of infection and rot.
She stared blankly for a moment, then her eyes widened. “My hand,” she blurted out. “The Manus Dextra card cutting into my hand was supposed to have something to do with the dinner thing.”
She pulled her knife back out, and before Spike could even put together what she was doing, she’d punctured the heel of her right hand, under the thumb. He knew he needed it, but for a moment, he just stared, fighting back the hunger. If he took too much….
“I have guns,” she said quietly. “Having to hold back a little and fight from a distance if I get woozy is a lot better than having you… not be you. I need you to watch my back more than I need all of my blood.”
His mouth watered as he stared at her hand. Blood was trailing down from the puncture, a drop or two already fallen to the ground. Then he was at her side, his mouth sealed around the wound, licking and sucking. Letting the anticoagulant in his saliva draw the blood out more as the euphoretic gave back in pleasure what he took out in sustenance.
He stared at the couch, not quite comprehending what he was seeing. She’d come home after a dinner date that had ended with breakfast, feeling good and wanting to tell him all about it. He’d just gone to the kitchen to put the kettle on, and now she….
No pulse. No breath. Eyes that stared up at nothing. She’d just been…. And now….
I can fix this, he thought numbly, fumbling a folding knife out of his jeans pocket and opening it up. Hadn’t bitten her. Hadn’t been the reason for her…. But maybe that didn’t really matter. It hadn’t been long at all. If he could get his blood into her….
He didn’t remember opening the knife or cutting his wrist, but he must have, because he was kneeling beside her, and a drop of his blood was on her bluish lips. Just had to open her mouth and let the blood flow in.
Before he could, there was a flash of memory. A screaming, frightened woman in his arms. Her sickly blood in his mouth. Nearly dead, and then he’d bitten into his own wrist and….
Spike flung himself away from Joyce’s body, shaking and trying desperately to lock the memories up again. No. No, no, no. He’d bitten and…. She’d come back wrong. Thinking of him that way…. Coming at him like that…. No, no, no. Lock it away. Couldn’t think on it. Hadn’t happened. Never, never, never. He didn’t make other vampires. Just wasn’t his thing, like torture or rape. All of them, things that just didn’t appeal. It wasn’t because he’d….
Pain and calmness as the knife slid into his skin, over and over. There’ll be blood on the floor, he thought vaguely. Mustn’t get blood on the floor. Mother will be upset. No. No, not Mother. Joyce. Except Joyce was gone. And Mother was gone. Gone. Gone away to dust and….
Didn’t matter. He couldn’t just bleed all over the living room floor. It wasn’t respectful. He crawled away to the kitchen, where he could bleed and try not to think.
There were flowers on the table by the front door. Buffy grinned and read the note from her mother’s new boyfriend. Way to go, Mom! It was good to see her finally back in the dating game and not with some creepy robot guy. Or Giles.
She shuddered as the thought of police cars and handcuffs washed through her mind. Nope. Not going to think about it. What happened with freaky band candy stayed with freaky band candy.
She’d just managed to shake off the mental images when she finally noticed it. The smell….
Someone had been smoking in the house. Spike never smoked in the house. Not even down in his bedroom. Mom didn’t like it, and he’d always respected that. Why would he…?
She walked into the living room, and all thoughts of Spike rushed from her head.
“Mom?” Why was she laying like that? On the couch with one arm dangling over the side. Her eyes were staring up blankly at the ceiling. “Mom?” Buffy’s legs felt like lead as she forced them to carry her towards the couch. “Mommy?”
She was on her knees beside the couch. Mom was pale and still. No rise and fall of her chest. No spark in those glassy, staring eyes. A drop of blood glistening on her lower lip. Blood…. No wounds. No bites at her throat or anywhere else that she could see. But there was blood on her lip.
Mostly numb, but an icy rage gripped her heart. Things went blurry for a bit, but then she was in the kitchen, marching towards where Spike was huddled on the floor with a lit cigarette in his mouth. She pulled him up with one hand, the other grabbing the cigarette and throwing it into the sink. Then she punched him in the face.
“What did you do?” she snarled, shaking him. “What did you do to her?”
She saw the strange, wild look in his eyes. Looking too big for a face that was even paler than normal. Saw him struggle to lock away whatever he was feeling. And finally noticed his sliced-up arms. The holes in his disturbingly wet black t-shirt. The pool of blood on the floor. And the knife lying next to it.
“Oh, god,” she whispered. “What did you do?”
She didn’t understand any of it. Mom was… And there was that drop of blood on her mouth. And Spike had gone to the kitchen, hurting himself and smoking in the house. None of it made any sense.
“I didn’t…. I just went to make some tea. She was fine. She was happy. And then….” He shuddered, that wild look back in his eyes. “I didn’t turn her. I thought…. But I didn’t do it. Probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. Just a drop of blood, and it didn’t even go in. I couldn’t….”
He shuddered again, and Buffy suddenly found herself held in his arms, his bloodied hands stroking her hair. “It’s going to be alright,” he whispered hoarsely. “Not at first. Not for a long while, but eventually. Whatever you need…. Anything at all.”
Eventually…. Oh, god. Mom was…. Her mommy was….? A whimper escaped her, and her knees suddenly gave out. She didn’t fall though. Spike lowered her down, still holding her and petting her hair. He was trembling. From both emotion and weakness. All the blood on the floor…. And Mom was…. Her mommy was….
Emptiness and dread and a horrible, terrible grief trying to claw up through the numbness. Her mom was…. And there was nothing she could do. Nothing at all. Except…. What can you do?
She leaned into Spike, her hand creeping forward across the floor, grabbing the knife. Then she pushed away from him and slashed at her arm, right near the bend of her elbow.
“She’s…. Mom’s…. She’s…. I can’t… I can’t fix it. I can’t make it better. I need to fix something.” She was babbling. She wasn’t even really sure of what she was saying. She just had to…. “Please. I need to fix something. I can…. I need to make something better.”
He was staring at her, his head tilted to the side as he watched her with those eyes that always saw too much. Then she was in his arms again, his mouth pressed against her skin.
A moment of pain as he sucked at the wound before everything was washed away in a surge of euphoria.
Her hand had been neatly bandaged up, and she was washing down a Twinkie and big piece of jerky with gulps of cherry Gatorade. Buffy shuddered slightly, thinking of all of the gore she’d already seen, and what was likely in store. Luckily, being the slayer came with a cast iron stomach. She could go out in the middle of the carnage and eat a plate of spaghetti loaded with marinara, and she wouldn’t barf. It would be really super gross, but she wouldn’t throw up or even be less hungry.
Hungry and horny. The “curse” of the slayer. Though that bite had kind of helped with that last bit. She shivered, still feeling weirdly floaty and heavy at the same time. And sort of deliciously tingly. She’d only given Spike blood “straight from the tap” twice before now. The first time, he’d been too hurt after what Adam did to him to even think of being gentle. The second time….
Grief grabbed a hold of her heart and squeezed. Hard. God, had it really only been a couple of weeks since the burial?
It felt like forever ago. And like it had all just happened. Barely twenty and her mother was….
“You alright, love?” Spike asked.
She finished off the Gatorade before answering, giving herself time to get everything together. Now wasn’t the time to think about Mom, or they’d end up joining her. “Yeah, I’m fine. You?”
He definitely looked better. The tooth marks were still there, and the wrist was still kind of swollen, but all the red and nasty green were gone.
He took a slow, deep breath and rubbed at the wound. “Not one hundred percent. But I’m healing better.”
She had to fight the urge to rip the bandage off her hand and give him more blood. He’d taken as much as he’d thought was safe. If she needed to play juice box again, it would be better later, after she’d had a bit of time for her to replace some of the blood she’d lost.
Then it was her turn for a slow, deep breath as she turned to face the door that would lead to the west wing of the building. They were safe at the moment. But once they went through that door….
“Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my,” she muttered.
“So, same old, same old for us, then?”
Yeah, that did about sum it up, didn’t it? Monsters that had once been human and could turn you with a bite. Potential victims to try to save. Same old, same old.
“Yep. Let’s do this.”
They headed to the door together, then stepped on through.
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