Buffy approached slowly, alone. The others had gone around the back of the house, waiting for her signal before going in. She wasn't risking anyone else in this.
Her thoughts spun quickly through her head. Jonathan had described the layout of the underground basement in full detail, including where they were most likely holding Spike and Willow. It wouldn't be too hard to find them. What she would do when she did was anyone's guess. In the back of her mind, she knew that she might have to stake Spike. But thinking about it in depth made her stomach churn, so she didn't bother. She'd cross that bridge when she got there.
She crouched low and gently lifted the rotting wooden door that led to the basement stairs. Pulling a small dagger from her belt, she descended.
Spike tensed suddenly, his nerves tingling in the oddest way. He remembered this, somewhere. It meant something special, that something was coming....
His head jerked up, calling Warren's attention to him. He watched, idly twirling a quarter between his fingers, as the vampire's eyes flicked about, muscles jerking slightly. Spike didn't notice, however. The feeling tugged at him, calling him, comforting him somehow. The corner of his mouth twitched.
"Spot? Something you wanna share with the rest of the class?"
The vampire wilted immediately, lowering his head and stilling. Warren chuckled, and flicked the coin at Spike. It bounced off his shoulder and clanged to the ground.
[Willow. Slayer's here.]
Willow jerked awake, glancing at Spike and then to Warren. She took a few calming breaths and worked her hands, loosening her bonds somewhat.
A red light suddenly flashed above the door to the stairwell, signaling that the motion detector had gone off. Warren jumped to his feet, Andrew hurrying to his side.
"I swear to God, Andrew, if that damn cat set off the alarm again, it's dead. Spot, defend!" Warren grated.
"It's not MY fault. You're the one who wanted to feed it," grumbled Andrew, as Spike shot to his feet, facing the door.
The door smashed apart, flying open in a shower of splinters.
Brushing herself off, Buffy stepped in and grinned at the room.
"Wow. You guys having a get-together?" Her eyes roamed the room, noting everyone's positions. She crossed her arms and flipped her hair. "If I'd have known, I would have brought punch."
Warren licked his lips nervously, and gestured.
"Spot, kill her. Now!"
Spike took a step forward, clenching his fists tightly at his sides. His breath was already coming in gasps. She was an angel, standing there, so confident. He stared at her, transfixed for a moment, until a sharp burst of pain behind his eyes brought him back to his task.
"Spot! NOW!" Warren shrieked, grabbing Andrew by the arm and backing away.
Spike staggered slightly, shaking his head quickly, pulled up his fists, resting lightly on his toes.
Buffy stared at him, terrified for him. She really didn't want to hurt him. Not again. Not after what he had been through. She had seen the look in his eyes; she knew he was still there, just being forced into this action. If she could take him down quickly, and get to Warren and Andrew, this would all be over.
"Willow, you okay?" she called to her friend, her eyes never leaving
"I'm...fine, Buffy." Willow pushed herself to her feet, working frantically now on the ropes that bound her hands. "Be careful. He's...not all there."
"I know, Wills," she responded, before jerking her head back to avoid Spike's first blow, the rush of wind from his fist touching her face. She counter-attacked on instinct, driving her knee at his stomach. The blow landed and bent him over, but he recovered quickly, and threw a solid uppercut. She backstepped, but not quickly enough, and his fist crashed into her chin, clacking her teeth together painfully and nearly driving her off her feet. Taking advantage of her momentary stunned state, he whipped his right leg around in a roundhouse kick, and sent her spiraling to the ground.
Buffy pushed herself up on her hands, and shook her head, quickly getting back to her feet. It was strangely eerie fighting Spike in silence. None of the usual banter flowed between them. Otherwise, she might be having fun. There was nothing fun about the pained and lost look in his eyes. He kept his gaze on her face, but never met her own. His fighting was normally passionate and beautiful. Poetry. Now, it was just dead. She needed to end it, and fast.
"Spike!" she said sternly, moving quickly back toward him. His eyes snapped up to her own for a second, before finding the floor. She smiled grimly and pulled her fist back, slamming it hard into the side of his temple, pouring all of her Slayer strength into the blow. He staggered, and then collapsed, panting. She raised both eyebrows in respect, at the fact he wasn't unconscious. But he wasn't getting up for a while either way.
"Sorry, baby." she told him, feeling slightly giddy. It was almost over.
She stepped over him, her eyes burning into the two nerds before her. Willow finally worked free of her bonds and joined her.
"This is going to be SO much fun..." the Slayer said cheerfully, stepping toward them.
"Stop! No closer!" Warren shouted, his voice high-pitched in panic. He held the remote out before him, hand shaking.
Willow grabbed Buffy's arm and stilled her.
"He said if he pushes that button, it'll kill Spike."
Buffy frowned, looking to the vampire who was already struggling to his feet, and then to Warren. She crossed her arms.
Warren, feeling a bit more in control, grinned, happy to explain.
"It'll put the signal on an irreversible loop. Nothing can stop it. The chip will continue to fire until he's dust."
Buffy paled slightly, but tried to hide behind a scowl.
"What do you want?"
Warren held the control tighter, thumb resting lightly on the red button. He licked his lips.
"I'll let them both go in exchange for you."
Buffy opened her mouth to respond, but never got the chance to.
"No." came Spike's grated voice from behind her.
There was a sudden rush of air as Spike charged past her growling, and launched himself at Warren.
"Spike, no!" Buffy screamed, and joined him. Andrew promptly fainted, taking himself off the somewhat dangerous list.
Spike smashed his forehead into Warren's, knocking the boy out in a single blow as Buffy reached them. He stood quickly, backing away as if burned, shaking violently.
The controller buzzed softly in Warren's limp hand, the red button firmly depressed.
Buffy's world suddenly centered around that little red button. Thoughts of 'Maybe he was bluffing...' and 'maybe it didn't work...' filtered through her head. She raised her foot and smashed the controller with the heel of her boot, grinding it to little bits. 'Maybe it has a delay...'
She turned to her lover, watching him, as he stood there, panting, his eyes locked on Warren, fists clenching and unclenching. He was shaking still.
"Spike?" she said softly, reaching out a hand to him.
He flinched violently away from her touch, and then gritted his teeth, and dragged his eyes up to meet hers.
"Love...you..." he gasped out, before he jerked, the chip firing full blast.
He shrieked and collapsed.
Continued in Chapter 9