“Dunno why I did that, you know?” Spike was
leaning against the tree, waiting for me like he always used to, “The rat…
drank it up like that. Worst kind of blood there is… tastes like poison.”
We headed for the cemetery, “Maybe you wanted
“The rat’s blood… the poison… maybe you wanted to drink it.”
He shrugged, “Didn’t taste as I
“Like poison?” I gulped, trying to
keep my stomach from bubbling.
“Little sweeter… not so rancid, you
We were among the gravestones now,
“So, why do you think it would taste… non-ratty?”
“Not sure,” Spike lit his
cigarette, “Could be me. Could be that any living thing in the Summers’ home
Bad, bad words. Not the greatest
Smoke whistled from his lips,
“Seemed strange, is all.”
We fell silent then, both of us
picking up on the nearby vamp.
“Six vamps… busy night, eh Slayer?”
I pocketed the stake, ready to go
home and snuggle into my blankets and pillows. Nightmare or not, I could tell
tonight I’d be too tired to see them.
Spike nudged me, “Did you see?”
“My dance?” his eyes were low, and
his bottom lip sucked between his teeth.
I tucked my arms over my chest,
trying to hide the bit of excitement that was obvious in my heartbeat.
“Are we near him yet, Slayer?”
The words touched my skin like
ice. I felt frozen… numb, and speechless. We walked by a tomb and I imagined
him slamming me up against it. Fighting for my life against him. Then the
thought of him pressing against me… I shuddered. His wicked smile showed up
then. God, he’s just pulling out all the stops… I felt myself squirm as he
came closer… too close.
My phone rang, making the both of
us jump. I flipped it open as Spike slid away. “Hello?”
“Buffy!” Willow’s voice rang in my
ears, “You have to get back here now!”
“Will?” I pushed through the door,
“Buffy!” Dawn sprinted from the
kitchen and jumped in front of me, “Oh my God, Buffy, you are not going to
She pulled me back into the kitchen,
leading me to the top of the stairs where Willow and Xander stood. Their eyes
were wide at the bottom of the stairs.
“Oh my God…” fell out of my mouth
as I gazed at the moving floor. The squeaking was horrible as hundreds… maybe
thousands of rats crawled over each other, covering every inch of floor in the
“Bloody hell.” Spike brought his
head down, glancing down across where his cot was home to several rats.
“Will, what happened?”
She glanced over, “I’m… I’m not
sure where they came from.”
“Spike probably left some crumbs on the floor, didn’t ya?” Xander
“They’re…” Dawn screeched as one
scurried up a few steps, “They’re starting to climb up here, Buffy.”
“Well… what do we do?”
“I’m thinking exterminator-time.”
“I could… I could do a spell to…” Willow
trailed off, “Wait a minute…”
She left, heading for the living
room. We all followed, Dawn slamming the basement door tight before she came.
Willow pulled a book from the
shelf, “I know this, I…” We waited, each of us settling in separate spots
around the room. Willow flipped another couple pages before, “Ah ha!”
“’Ah ha’ what, Will?” Xander asked.
“It’s a curse. An old… Egyptian
curse. It’s… believed to be the cause of the Black Death,” she glanced at
Spike, who was nodding. “You know, in like the 1300’s, all of Europe became
infested with these rats, and… didn’t you two pay any attention in high
“Hey,” I tried to defend, looking
to Xander, “I remember it!”
“Yeah, me too!” Xander tried to
sound annoyed. “Big English Black Death… of course I remember it…”
Dawn shrugged, “How about a lesson
for those of us not done yet? So, this ‘Black Death,’ what’d it do to people?”
“Uh, swollen lymph glands…” Spike spoke up, “And these big, red,
diseased spots form all over the skin.”
“Oh my God!” Dawn pulled up her
sleeve, “I totally have a spot on me! I saw it today at school!”
Xander was already lifting his
shirt, “Does that… does that look like a disease-spot to anyone else?”
“The point is,” Willow laid the
book open on the table, “Somebody cursed us.”
“With rats?” Dawn was poking at
Xander’s not-spot now, “Who would curse us with—”
“Amy.” I answered.
Willow nodded. “I can do a
reversal, but I’ll need you to get some supplies.”
“Sure you want me taggin‘ along,
“Oh, I’m sorry, did you already have plans? In the basement… with
He chuckled, “It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet down there.
Reckon I could take care of them given the…” he bit his tongue when he saw my
disgust-face, “Certainly explains why they tasted funny… magic rats, you know?”
“Guess so.” I stepped down one of the alleys, “You sure this place
will have everything?”
“Cat’s eyes and such? Sure.”
I scrunched my face up, “Why does it have to be
cat’s eyes? Why can’t it just be like… a little bitty kitten? A
not-sacrificed little kitten?”
He chuckled, “Kittens are worth a lot more than
cat’s eyes, love.”
I rolled my eyes. Demons are so weird. “Still,
I’d rather see a spell that didn’t involve dead-animal parts. Makes me think of—”
A hard shove cut me off, and I slammed against
the alley wall, landing hard onto a garbage can. Ow, and ew.
Spike’s hand found mine, and he pulled me to my
feet. I brushed myself off, ready to fight the attacking vamp. I glanced
behind Spike, who pulled a cigarette from his pocket.
“Somethin‘ on your mind, Slayer?”
“Where did…” I stepped past him, “Where did he
go?” God, Spike, if you let him get away…
Spike slid the cigarette between his lips, and
then stepped over to the other side of the alley. He bent over, scooping up
dust in his hands and presenting it before clapping it back to the ground.
“You… he’s dust?”
Spike eyebrows jumped, and he pulled out his lighter, flicking fire
over his cigarette.
“Oh…” I tried to unwind from slay-mode, “Let’s
get moving, then.” I walked past him.
“‘Let’s get moving?’ That’s it?” he caught up to
me, “Surprise you, Slayer?”
“No, I just… I just…”
“You are surprised,” smoke swirled as he spoke,
“You don’t know how serious I am, Buffy…” he tapped away at the ash, “When I
say… that I’m yours… when I say I’d do anything…”
Would you just stop talking, Spike? That wasn’t what came out… “I
“Gimme some time… I’ll do right by you someday,
This time I couldn’t even say ‘I know.’ It was
like my tongue stopped working… but my heart was just pounding with words.
“We’re close now,” he sucked the night-air deep
into his useless lungs, tossing his cigarette to the ground, “Just up ahead.”
“Oh, thank God!” Xander met us at the door,
pulling up the back of his shirt, “Do you… can you see anything there?”
“Oh my God!” I stared at his skin. Spike
glanced towards Xander’s back and smiled.
“What?” Xander freaked, “You can see one, can’t
you? I knew it. I’m always the guy who ends up diseased!” he turned to face
us, scratching at his back.
“Xander, there’s nothing there.” I said with a
“Are you… are you sure?”
“You’re one-hundred percent sickness-free!”
“Really?” he followed us into the kitchen, where
Willow was preparing for the spell. Spike set the jar on the counter, then
placed the bag of eagles’ feathers and tiger claws next to them.
“Okay. I’m not… I’m not really sure what this
is going to do, but it should get rid of them.” Willow began sorting through
her ingredients. “It has to be totally silent, or else it won’t work.”
“I’ll take scratch ’n sniff here to the other room,” Spike yanked
Xander out of the kitchen with him.
Willow knelt, and then looked up at me, “You
should probably get behind me.”
I did so, watching her spread the feathers over
the tile. She placed the claws in a foursquare, then placed two eyes in the
middle. Then she sprinkled some kind of shiny powder over everything and began
I couldn’t make out what she was chanting… and
all I could think about was whether or not this spell was going to burn a hole
through the floor. Please, no.
The air around us began to glow, and Willow’s
chant changed languages as she got louder. Her hands lifted through the glow.
Glowing is not a good sign… glowing means fire…
fire means big black hole in the middle of the kitchen…
A deafening roar interrupted my thoughts, and
Willow stood up. I closed my eyes, feeling the air swirl all around me. When
I opened my eyes again, I couldn’t breathe. Standing in front of Willow was a
shimmering white tiger… with pure white wings tucked to its sides.
I stared at the blurry image. Willow only
stared too as it turned, spreading its wings, and then swooped down the
basement stairs. Rats screeched as Willow closed the door, breathless.
I caught her, and she leaned against the
counter. “That was… did you… that was…”
“It was amazing, Will,” I steadied her,
listening to the wind rush beneath us, “What happens after it…”
“It’s supposed to disappear after they’re
gone.” Willow was starting to catch her breath.
I squatted, rubbing the dark spot in the middle
of the kitchen floor. I looked up at Willow with a sigh.
“Oops…” she made her pout-face and cringed,
Continued in Part 16