“Should be that one, there.” Spike
motioned to the cavern ahead, “What’s the plan?”
We’ve had hours to think up a plan,
but no. We had to go all talky again. I sighed, “Dark. No flashlight. You?”
“Left my lighter in my jacket,” he
muttered, glancing up at the branches. “Don’t fancy just a casual stroll in
there. Won’t see a damn thing without a torch or somethin‘.”
God, we’re stupid. “Should’ve
brought Willow. Bet she could’ve done a spell or something.”
“Yeah, or we could’ve just brought
a torch,” Spike shrugged, “Wicca’s spells always seem to go all wonky, if you
“Not anymore,” I ripped at one of
the lower branches. “And no one’s asking. Now find some rocks to spark this.”
“I’m not a bloody caveman, Slayer.”
“Just find two,” I strained, tugging
hard at the branch. “Stop wasting my time.”
I heard him chuckle, fumbling
around the ground. The branch came loose, and I pulled the bark away, fraying
a driest corner. Spike handed me two stones.
He did so, and I placed one rock close
to the frayed side. I clacked the rocks together a couple of times before a
spark ignited. The branch began to burn.
“Well, well, well…” Spike smiled. “Something
new every day, Slayer. Never stop surprising me.”
I raised the axe. “Let’s go.”
Serious business now, Buffy. Stop
looking at him. I have work to do. I told him to stop with the mooneyes, now
all I have to do is… stop… with the… mooneyes. He walked in front, holding the
torch up towards the wall. God, I can’t even focus. I don’t even know which
way we’re going.
Spike disappeared behind a wall,
the glow from the fire still easy to see. He hadn’t said a word the whole time
we’ve been in here. Just scenting and walking. Good. I liked it that way. Easier
to focus. It’s what I asked him to do anyway—stop with the talking when things
were serious. And they are. Focus. Work to do. I rounded the corner, and
“Bloody hell, Slayer!” Spike spoke
in a low whisper. “Awfully jumpy tonight.”
“Spike! This demon, you know what
it looks like?”
“Sh!” he turned around. “We’re
getting close, you wanna lose a limb?”
I pulled him back down the other
hall. “Don’t you think we should plan this out a little?”
He smiled—that mischievous smile. God, I hate that smile… a
little. “Don’t want to wing it? Think it’d be more fun for you if we did…”
I yanked the torch from him.
“We’re not going any further until you tell me what we’re up against.”
“Nothing we can’t handle, Slayer.
You know I wouldn’ta brought you here if I thought otherwise,” a slight smile
I glared back at him.
He sighed. “Big beastie. Lots o‘
fire, lots o‘ muscle.”
“So how do we kill him… it?”
Spike pointed to the axe.
“That’s it? That’s your plan?”
He nodded. Shadows stretched over
“What?” More shadows, big
shadows. “You got a better idea, Slayer?”
My eyes opened so wide I thought
they might fall out. Whatever was rushing up behind Spike was more than just
‘big.’ The flames licked the cave’s ceiling. I pushed the torch into Spike’s
hand and grabbed his arm.
We turned back down the other
corridor, and then I let go of Spike’s arm and sprinted faster. Outside. Get
outside. Too big. Spike’s footsteps were behind me, and then we could hear
the demon’s steps: shattering slams against the rocky floor. The walls shook
around us. I rounded another corner. Then another. More corners after that
one. I stopped, staring at the three passages in front of me. I don’t
Spike came to a scudding stop at my
side, breathing heavy. My thoughts sidetracked. He’s always doing that.
Why? What’s he trying to prove? He has no breath to be out of…
“Slayer,” he said between gasps, “I
think you took a wrong turn.”
The walls shook with a thundering
smash. Spike looked behind us.
“I think you took a lot of wrong
“Well, I didn’t know!” I kept
staring at the three choices. “You should’ve said something!”
He sighed. “I think we should go
“I think right.”
“Right, left then?”
“No! Right. Go right!”
“Let’s compromise: Middle?”
I shook my head, and began stepping
forward. “We’re going right.”
“What if I want to go middle?”
Spike protested. A large crash sounded nearby, and he eagerly followed me to
I rounded another corner and
stopped, pushing Spike back as he came around it. He fell on his back,
dropping the torch. “What the bloomin‘ hell was that for?”
I stepped over him. “Big? Nothing
we can’t handle? Are you insane?”
He shrugged. “Guess he grew up…”
I leaned against the wall. “This
is the stupidest goose-chase I’ve ever been on.”
He struggled, using the wall to
help himself up. “Been fun though, hasn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes, but a smile came
“Been a long time since we had fun…
together.” He leaned next to me.
It had. Everything so serious all
the time, especially with all The First’s latest antics. And the year before,
with Willow… and Spike… and everything. It had been a long run for hard
times. But this was fun… he’s right. I smiled.
“I miss that.” I said.
“The fun? The innocence, that’s
what it was, pet. The chastity… the virginity…”
I glanced at him, and he was quick to reply.
“I mean, you were naïve then.
Things weren’t so complicated, because you didn’t know any different.”
“No.” I looked at the ground. “It
was… it was hard then, too.”
A pause. A long pause.
“Before I came along?”
I nodded. “Long before. I may
have been naïve, but I was learning.” I looked over at him, “Learning fast.
Hard lessons, Spike. The life-changing kind.”
“I get that,” he looked at the
ground, probably regretted bringing it up. “That’s why… It’s something I
wanted to change. Make it easier...”
The wall behind us shook, and we
both stood away from it. Spike slipped into another passage, and I followed.
“Never did, though,” his words
echoed slightly in the air, “It’s why I left. To get it… do the right thing.
It’s what you’re all about… the right things.”
“Perfect Buffy died a long time
ago.” I sighed, glancing his way.
The torch lit the wall behind him,
forming a bright glow around his head as he murmured, “Always be perfect to
God. Is he serious? Is he trying
to make me cry? Who knows what he’ll do if I cry again… here, in this dark
hole. God, he’d do… that thing. I bit back on my expression, and a laugh
pushed its way out.
“Perfect to you? Is that some kind
of joke?” I chuckled harder. “Because it’s funny. I mean… Spike, I’ve treated
He looked surprised at my reaction,
and stopped walking. “After everything I’d done to you? Pfft, don’t even
bother ’bout my forgiveness, pet.”
What’s that supposed to mean? God,
he’s a bad liar. What does he think I am? “What would you say if I asked for
He shook his head, turning his back and walking again. “Don’t ask
“Why not? You beg for mine every
He pointed the torch, “I think we should go left up ahead.”
I stopped, crossing my arms. He
stopped walking, knowing I had stopped walking. He dropped the torch and faced
“I think you can’t forgive me.
That’s why you can’t answer me.”
His face crinkled, eyes staring
like I was upside-down. And he stood, silent and staring, as I found more to
“It’s true, isn’t it? You can’t
forgive me.” He’s right not to. I was wrong. I needed to hear it, and he
didn’t need to say it.
He kept his eyes on me, moving closer.
Oh no. Not again. Too much contact already tonight, Spike. He set his hands
over my shoulders. Oh no. Bad, bad. No, no. Forget it, Spike. Forget I
He blinked, and his lips twitched.
A hand fell against the back of my neck. So familiar. So comfy. It settled
into place, rubbing a cool finger across the top of my spine. I strained to
keep my eyes open. If I close them, it’s over.
I closed them.
Oh, bad. Oh no. Please don’t.
Fire monster, Xander—anything turn that corner right now and stop this.
His cool lips pressed against my
forehead. My thoughts melted away, as if his chilling touch was too hot to
bear. He held there a short moment, and it was over so fast that I had to
fight not to pull him back.
I opened my eyes. His fixed in
them—entranced them. I couldn’t look away if I wanted to… I didn’t want to.
Say it please. I need to hear it.
He brushed his hand across my
cheek. “There’s nothing to forgive, love.”
There is! God, there is! Why
won’t you? He turned again, and was picking up the torch. No! That’s not
what I wanted! Tell me what I need to hear you say, Spike! I stood there,
begging him with no words. Forgive me.
He turned, motioning me in front of
It came to me then as I stepped
forward. Things really are different. Not long ago I could’ve said all those
words to him, and he would have said it all right back… in any language I
wanted... as many times as I wanted. But not now. I couldn’t even bring the
words to my tongue. They didn’t taste right.
God… I’m still naïve.
“I… I don’t want to wander like
Spike shrugged. “Like to stay here forever, then?”
No. I want to fight. I need to
fight. “Where’s the demon?”
Spike glanced about the hall. “Not
sure. Smell’s harder to pick up. Must’ve given up on us.”
I looked at him, not showing any expression. “We’re going to kill
He stopped, and began walking the
other way. I followed.
“You sure ’bout this, Slayer?”
Oh God, yes. I’ve never wanted to
kill anything this badly. Well, maybe equal to how much I used to want to kill
you, Spike. “Just… get me to it.”
His eyes closed, and brow rose.
“You’re the boss, pet.”
God, I need to kill something.
He stopped. “This is it. You hear
it? Right through this wall.”
“So why isn’t it busting through?”
“Breathing slow. Must be asleep.”
Perfect. I gripped the axe tight.
The lair was open, and empty except
for the demon. Lots of running room. Not a lot of high points. My eyes fell
on the demon, resting in the far left corner. The scaly back moved up and down
slowly. I glared hungrily. You are so dead.
“Got a plan, Slayer?” Spike
whispered from behind me.
I shrugged, and stepped lightly
towards the demon’s back. I pulled the axe back, and the blinding rage inside
took over. I swung down, hard and fast, chopping right down the spine.
The wound exploded, forcing me back
in a rush of heat. Spike caught me, but the force pushed us to the ground.
Then the roar came, shaking my insides with the walls. The ground vibrated as
it struggled to all fours, favoring its back. Then it turned to us, the face
twisted in bloodlust. The golden eyes burned through me as I got to my feet,
pulling Spike up. I heard him pull a knife… from his boot? Didn’t know that
was there. I lifted the axe, sidestepping. The demon’s glare followed me.
The mouth—more like a
beak—stretched open, releasing a deep growl. Spike had moved to its other side
now, crouching slightly, the long knife held before his face.
I moved in quick, spinning the axe
over my head for more power. The demon crouched, and sprung forward at me. I
dove under it, the sharp beak catching my shirt. I got to my feet again,
touching the rip over my shoulder blade. The ground shook as the heavy body
“Fire, Slayer!” I could barely hear
Spike shout over the deafening screech of the monster. “Get down! Buffy!”
I fell to my hands and knees, the
fire rushing just above me. I rolled to my right before I stood. The demon’s
back was to me now, the face focused on Spike dancing in front of it. I ran at
it again, winding the axe before landing it hard into the hind leg.
The demon squealed, lunging forward
at Spike, who leapt out of the way. I pulled the axe out, and the demon’s head
turned to me. The piercing screech started again, and I sprinted away from
it. I heard the fire rushing behind me—felt the heat building up, and dove
face-first against a wall, pressing my body hard against it. The wave pushed
past me, singeing the torn fabric on my shoulder. Then it stopped, and the
demon howled, shaking the wall I was up against. I blinked to clear my blurry
eyes, and then was able to see it again.
Spike had pushed his knife into an
eye, and a massive front claw lifted and knocked him away. He flew across the
lair, crying out before landing hard on his back.
The demon lifted the front claws,
scratching at its face. I stepped into the open again, ignoring the pounding
sounds as the paws slammed into the ground. I crouched low as a claw finally
scratched out the knife. A deafening roar again, and it turned to me.
I took a deep breath as the demon
screeched again. The bloody head lifted high, then pushed forward with a
fierce shriek. The smoldering flames flew at me. I still crouched as it came,
faster and faster. Louder and louder. Focus. Wait. Wait. Almost…
Then I felt it. The surge of
strength as the flames came too close. I pushed my legs up, rolling to my
right. The blaze fed past me, devouring to the back wall. I regained my
footing, stood fast, and gave a tiny yell as I heaved the axe across the lair.
The blade spun at the demon’s neck, still stretched out to scream the fire. It
landed with a sick thud, forcing the demon to its side. The chamber fell
silent, and the fire burned out. All was dark except for the torch near the
entrance that dimmed by the second.
Continued in Part 8