"What if he's writing in some sort of code?" Andrew asked, watching the shaking hand of their new 'pet' form words on a sheet of paper.
Warren waved a hand.
"His mind's totally blown, guys. He's not going to be thinking about codes at all." He leaned over the hunched vampire's shoulder, scrutinizing the note. "Make it as realistic as possible, Spot. She has to think it's from you."
He turned his attention to the others again after Spike nodded. Clapping his hands together, he rubbed them fiercely, grinning.
"So, this will throw her off the scent, give us a bit more time. She was getting way too close. Spot's training is almost complete. A few more days and bam! He'll be ripping her throat out."
"That is so cool." Andrew replied excitedly, almost hopping up and down. He examined the vampire and the note. "Do you think we should, like, feed him or something? He's getting kinda thin."
"No. He's easier to control hungry." He snatched the now finished note from the table, reading it quickly, and then looking to Spike.
"You are aware you write like a toddler, right?" The vampire ignored him, of course. Warren chuckled, and handed the note to Andrew.
"Get one of your demon buddies to deliver this. If all goes well tonight, we go into action tomorrow. For the test run."
Andrew grinned and turned around, clutching the note to his chest. He paused, his eyes moving over the basement hideaway.
"Hey, where's Jonathan?"
[The next day...]
"So, what's the big bad?" Xander asked, falling onto the couch beside Willow, eyeing the piece of paper the fairly pale Slayer held in her hands. "Any word on the whereabouts of our missing vamp?"
Buffy shook herself out of her thoughts and handed the paper to them. Spike had been gone for nearly two weeks. It didn't make sense. She had searched high and low for him, beating up the entire cast and crew of Willy's, asking Giles to use his Watcher connections elsewhere, and still, not a word about the very noticeable vampire.
"Yeah. Found this this morning. It's...not right. I know his handwriting; he writes better than this."
Xander frowned at the paper, before Willow snatched it out of his hands, scanning the page.
'Dear The Slayer.'
'Tired of games. Leaving town now. I'll be back.'
'I love you.'
'William the Bloody'
Both Buffy and Xander watched her anxiously as she re-read the note carefully, studying the way the letters were written, delving for clues.
"Well...," the former witch started, chewing on her lip. "The only thing I can think of..." She furrowed her brow, noticing a pattern. "Every sentence has three words. Huh."
"Three words?" Buffy sat forward. "What does that mean?"
Willow frowned and shook her head. "It could mean a lot of things. We all know that Spike has a better grasp of the English language than this. And the way he wrote..." She chewed on her lip again. "Like he was shaking. Maybe someone made him write it? And he was trying to clue us in....Oh!" Her eyes lit up and she started gesturing wildly. "Warren, Jonathan...and... that guy! Three of them? Maybe...?" Her voice trailed off as she realized it was pretty unlikely. For the fifth time that week, she suddenly felt like she was needed somewhere. She had been passing it off as yet another symptom of magic withdrawal, but she felt like someone was calling to her, and if she only reached out and....No. No magic.
Not noticing the internal struggle occurring within her best friend, Buffy spoke up.
"No...maybe you're right." She drew a deep breath. "This is our first real clue. And the way the note is written.....Maybe 'I'll be back' means it's all going to be okay?" Now she was the one reaching.
"I don't know, but Bleach Boy has got to be seriously messed up to write something like this. Especially adding the 'I love you.' part....He's desperate."
Buffy nodded in agreement with Xander, standing up.
"Xander, come with me. We'll start...I don't know, looking around. Dawn's with Tara for the night, so she's safe....Willow, would you look around online? See if you can find Warren's computer or something...."
Willow nodded at her friend, standing up to see them out the door.
"Yeah, I'm already pretty close. Be careful, guys..."
"But what about Jonathan?" Andrew asked, as they loaded Spike into the back of their van.
"Screw him. We'll deal with him later. The test run's going to go as planned. I think our Spot here deserves himself a meal, right?"
Andrew frowned, looking at the vampire. He had started breathing again. That always unnerved Andrew. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out why he did it.
"Yeah. He can barely stand, much less fight the Slayer."
Warren grinned at him while starting the engine.
"He won't have to fight her, numb-nuts. She trusts him. He'll take her totally by surprise." He made a vague gesture to the back of the van. "Get him wired up. We're rolling."
Andrew did as he was told, fitting a tiny piece of black plastic into the vampire's ear while Warren steered them toward their destination. He had finished by the time the van rolled to a stop.
Warren turned around, regarding the vampire, and pulling out the remote control. He grinned in sick satisfaction when Spike flinched.
"Now, Spot, here are your orders. Find some girl, and feed. Then, go to the Slayer's house and pick up one of her little friends, and bring them back here. Do you understand?"
Spike nodded, keeping his eyes carefully downcast.
"Good. Now remember, we will be able to hear everything. If anything seems amiss...." He hit the button quickly, causing a yelp from the vampire. "Go."
Spike drew himself up on shaky legs, and exited the van.
Warren chuckled and spun around in his chair.
"Now the real fun begins...."
Continued in Chapter 6