Part Two: Prodigal
The answer was obvious. A newcomer. One of the many demons who came to see the wonder of the underworld that was the Hellmouth. The watcher generally liked to wait and see what these tourists did before dispatching them. Sometimes there was valuable information to be had from them before they died a bloody death. As the visitor moved away down the street, the watcher followed on soundless feet. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop with the ease born of decades of experience, the watcher kept pace with the quarry without trouble. He was headed for the graveyard beyond Crawford Street or what used to be Crawford Street. The watcher would have to go to ground level to pursue him there. With an easy jump thirty feet to the concrete sidewalk, the watcher continued the shadowed chase.
Spike crossed the wasteland that had once been a well-cared for cemetery. Half the grave markers were broken or kicked over. No flowers or wreaths decorated the stones. The dead of Sunnydale were abandoned, forgotten by the living. It was depressing even for a graveyard. His destination in sight, Spike slowed. The pain grew sharper inside his still chest. Why had he agreed to this? This brand of self-flagellation was not really his thing anymore. He had left it behind, along with a battered television and the dream of loving a living woman, some seventy five years before.
Squaring his shoulders, Spike lowered his dark head and pressed on. The sooner he was done, the sooner he could return to his simpler existence. He raised a fist and smashed it through the rotted wooden of the decrepit chapel door.
Behind a nearby statue, the watcher saw the visitor invade the chapel. It would be risky to follow. The chapel was small and there would be no way to hide inside. Waiting outside seemed the prudent thing to do in this situation. The watcher was not foolish. One did not survive countless years in a town given over to the forces of darkness without caution. It had been long ago that these lessons had been drilled into the watcher’s head by a caring teacher and many more years before the watcher tragically learned their value.
Spike moved without hesitation towards the altar at the head of the chapel. Climbing the steps, he ripped aside the moldering purple cloth covering the gray marble table and overturned the stone with one twist of his hand. The marble broke as it hit the floor and several small pieces skittered down the steps. Spike knelt and brushed aside years of accumulated filth to locate the object of his quest. A small metal grate was set into the granite floor. Spike dug his fingers into the holes in the wrought iron and gave it a sharp tug. The old metal gave way and the grate separated from the floor. Tossing it aside, Spike reached inside, his arm disappearing to the shoulder. A few seconds of rooting in the hole produced the desired result and Spike pulled his arm out of the hole holding a small book.
Leaning back on his heels, Spike examined the book. It was old...older than him and he handled it with care. He read the name embossed on the binding and grunted in satisfaction. Standing, he tugged a silk bag out of the inside pocket of his jacket and slipped the slim volume inside. He tugged the ties closed and tucked the bag back inside the pocket. Spike patted his breast to make sure it was safely lodged and turned to depart the chapel.
It was time to leave, leave this town and all its crushing memories. Spike shoved the broken door aside and emerged into the cold night air. A ten minute walk and he would be gone from this accursed place. He felt the need to hurry and increased his pace. From his left he heard a faint sound and whipped his head around to scan the forest of statues and grave markers. Seeing nothing he decided it was a wayward bird, probably unaware it had blundered into the earthly equivalent of hell. He resumed his pace only to hear another sound, a familiar buzzing sound. Where had he heard that before?
As a bolt buried itself in his chest just to the right of his unbeating heart, he remembered. A crossbow. That was the sound it made when it was fired. He sank to his knees as a wave of weakness washed over him. The bolt was tainted with something. He felt his muscles start to lock. A paralytic. As his eyes sagged shut and he fell forward Spike thought to himself that he had been correct...he never should have come back here...
As the demon crumpled in a heap in the dead grass, the watcher came out of concealment and slowly approached. Not knowing what this creature was, caution was prudent. The tranquilizer was not always effective. When the supine form failed to move for several minutes, the watcher decided it was time to see what it had acquired from the chapel. Not that a fight would be unwelcome, the watcher enjoyed battles, but if there was something fragile on the demon’s person it would be better to recover it without violence. More of that hard earned prudence.
Finally standing above the unconscious figure of the demon, the watcher prodded him with a grubby sneaker-clad toe. No reaction. He was lying face down in the dirt but the watcher could see the line of his jaw beneath tousled dark hair. Human looking. A vampire? Rare for this area. Vampires preferred a ready supply of human blood and Sunnydale lacked that for the most part. Definitely a newcomer. A small black silk bag poked out from beneath the vampire’s leather coat and the watcher used a foot to draw the bag nearer so it could be picked up.
The bag contained a book. Odd. Vampires weren’t known for their love of literature. Certainly there were some but it had been an eternity since the watcher had met one. Forget that. Such thoughts only led to unhappiness. The watcher put the book; bag and all, in a knapsack and bent down to pick up the vampire. Slinging the limp body over one shoulder with careless ease, the watcher carried him away. More information was needed. Time to take the prey home and lock it up. She had many interesting toys at home to get the demon to talk...
Continued in Part Three: Pain