Part Five: Elsewhere
*“Thanks mate. Here’s your payment,” Spike said to the tattooed shaman, handing him a crumpled wad of bills streaked with blood.
“You should be careful...it has only been a few days since the chip came out. We can’t be sure you are healed,” the shaman warned, fidgeting with a carved wooden talisman around his neck.
Spike just laughed. “I’m already dead mate. Inside an’ out. I don’t much care what happens now.”
“Where will you go?” the shaman asked, not really caring since he had money in hand.
Spike shrugged. “I’m a mite peckish, think I’ll go grab a bite of somethin’.” He laughed again, a bitter undertone in his voice.
A few hours later, Spike was prowling the back alleys of a poorer section of L.A. looking for a mark. He spotted a youngish woman teetering along on stiletto heels. A hooker...Spike smiled to himself...it’d be like riding a bike. He started after her, following behind for a few blocks. Finally the woman noticed the blonde man in black trailing her at a leisurely pace.
She quickened her walk but Spike just matched her stride. Growing panicky, she started to run and ducked into an alley hoping to lose him. Spike shook his head, stupid bint...alleys were never a good bet on a dark night. He followed her in and saw her huddled behind a filthy dumpster. He could hear her heart beating too fast in her chest from ten yards out.
“Come on pretty...I know you’re there. Time to play...” he called to her.
A muffled sobbing was his only response.
He walked to her hiding place and drew her out by one trembling hand. She kept her head down not wanting to look into the face of her death.
“Come now pet, in your line of work, you must know this moment waits for you every night. Every time you go home in one piece you’ve cheated the grim reaper. Promise it won’t hurt...much,” Spike cajoled the terrified girl.
He forced her chin up so he could see her face. Big, tear filled brown eyes...long brown hair like a waterfall down her back...she was younger than he thought. The cheap makeup had fooled him. Just a girl...fifteen maybe. Like someone he knew...the traitorous though floated through his head. Spike snarled. Not time to be thinking of a girl he’d sworn to protect. They’d cast him out...big sis would take care of her now.
He lunged at the girl’s neck and she let out a high pitched scream. Spike stumbled backwards.
“Bloody soddin’ hell! Damn her...heartless bitch!” he howled.
The girl fell backwards into a pile of cardboard boxes, breath coming in terrified gasps. The man’s face had twisted...she saw a flash of white fang as he screamed. As she watched...it changed again...to a more familiar human shape. He looked down at her and suddenly her terror eased. He had a single tear running down one concave cheek.
“Go on..” he said softly. “Time to run away little girl. You cheated him one more time...”
She scrambled to her feet and backed away. When she had enough space between her and her attacker, she spun around and ran for her life, leaving Spike in the alley to contemplate the meaning of this little episode. He stood silently for a few minutes listening to the click of the girl’s heels fade into the distance. Sighing, he pulled a few green bills out of a back pocket...most of it had gone to the shaman but he had enough left for a stop at the butchers...Walking slowly, Spike left the alley and started back towards the better part of town.*
Exhaling sharply, Spike threw his head up and looked around. It was dark. He couldn’t hear anything...no breathing...she was gone. He moved his hand, realizing she had taken the blade out. Damn her, now he couldn’t pick the lock with it. He pulled against the chains but was rewarded only with a fresh seepage of blood from the large wound in his side. The girl had a way with a knife. He wondered when she’d grown so good at torture. He wondered a lot of things...Buffy, still young, alone, and apparently having no recall of him. She might be more than slightly mad.
He squinted through the gloom, trying to see if she had left the book in the room with him. No sign of it. What would he do if she had left it? Assuming he could get free, would he have just left her here and gotten the book out of Sunnydale? His mind instantly rejected that thought. Never again. He couldn’t walk away again. Leaving Buffy the first time had led to his own brand of madness...the madness that came from not being able to forget.
* Spike strode through the rain soaked night, his senses attuned to the slightest sound...The demon he was tracking had gone to ground here in the cemetery called Les Innocents outside Paris and he meant to find it. A handsome reward awaited the one who brought its head back to a certain warlock in the city.
Hearing a scrabbling sound in the murky dark ahead, Spike drew out a long knife. The bloke was going to be a few feet shorter soon enough. He felt the thrill of the hunt run through him. Giving up hunting humans had been a surprisingly easy choice for him over the years. He just couldn’t get past the memory of once caring for one or two of them. Pigs blood was a vile substitute but it lacked the emotional baggage of the real thing. He had turned to hunting the demon equivalent of big game to satisfy his craving for violence, it kept his hollow existence slightly interesting and it paid well.
He heard the sound again and ran towards the source. In a small clearing ahead two figures clashed in the pouring rain. Spike slowed and stopped. The sounds of battle alternated with bursts of thunder. He stepped back a few feet and slipped behind an obelisk to watch.
In a flash of lightning he saw her clearly. A girl...dark hair and slender. She was young, maybe sixteen. Dressed in what passed for fashion amongst the young people of Paris these days. She spun and kicked, ducked and rolled in a dance that Spike knew all too well. A pain squeezed his chest. This was a Slayer...fighting a vampire. The vampire snarled as he tried to outmaneuver his unlikely foe but without luck. She kept him at arms length, always just out of reach of her tender throat. The creature was becoming increasingly maddened.
Spike couldn’t tear his eyes away. He knew what this girl’s presence here meant. A Slayer is called when the old one dies. He struggled for breath he didn’t need. Buffy was dead. Spike fought back the scream in his throat. Dead...ten years...that was all she had gotten. He knew that most Slayers didn’t even get that but it didn’t make it easier. Ten years...since he left. Had she married? Had a happy life with that cursed Watcher? Now there was another. He looked at the current Slayer with something akin to hatred.
A puff of ash floated to the muddy grass as the Slayer finally got her stake in. She stood breathing heavily in the center of the clearing looking down at the small pile of dust. She uttered some flippancy in French to her opponent’s remains.
Spike stepped forward and responded...also in French. “They aren’t all that easy, pretty.”
The Slayer brought her stake back up and slipped into battle ready position.
Spike laughed. “At ease, Slayer. I just wanted to congratulate you.” He nodded to the pile of dust. “Not his day...”
“Yours either, demon,” she retorted, lifting her chin defiantly, the rain pelting down plastering her dark hair close to her skull.
“Oh...you are right there. Just got some bad news...from you actually. I was just wondering...why did you let it go on so long?” Spike asked softly, circling the girl slowly. His feet made no noise as he moved.
She turned with him, never taking her eyes from the blond vampire. “So long? He was a difficult fight...” she said puzzled at the monster that wanted to chat first.
“No, pretty. You could have killed him a dozen times before you did. What were you hoping for? Wanted to see what death felt like? You’re all the same that way.” he replied in a growl.
Suddenly he leapt at her, knocking her to the slippery ground. She rolled away and sprang to her feet, stake raised.
“I’ll be happy to show you Slayer...lets dance.” Spike hissed, the change slipping over his features.
She rushed him and stabbed forward with the stake.
He dodged lazily and laughed. “You let it show in your eyes...what you plan to do...very bad form, pretty. Get you killed someday.”
He reached out with such speed that she never saw it and grabbed her by the throat. Yanking back, Spike clutched the girl to his chest. She struggled, staring at his sharp fangs.
“No...” she whispered.
Spike lowered his head as he replied. “You want to know death? I’m here.”
His teeth pierced the artery in her neck and the first human blood he had tasted in over a decade flowed into his mouth. Metallic, hot, and charged with the awesome power of a Slayer. He gulped it down, felt it spread like molten life through him. It had been so long.
Spike drank for what seemed an eternity. He heard her heartbeat slow, the rhythmic thuds fewer and further between. Spike lifted his head. He looked down at the girl, Her eyelids fluttered and opened.
“Not what you thought, eh? Do you want to die?” he asked.
She shook her head slightly.
“Good. Then don’t. Not for a long time. Even a Slayer deserves life.”
Spike lowered her to the grass, pressing a thumb down hard on the lacerated artery. He listened...hearing a voice. It called a name...
“Noelle?” came the distant cry.
“Looking for you?” he asked the pale Slayer.
She nodded, unable to take her eyes off this strange creature that was letting her live.
“Good, take care pet.” Spike said in English and left the girl lying on the ground to await her Watcher.*
Spike shook his head. It seemed so vivid. That liquid Buffy was dosing him with. It must have a hallucinogen in it. He thought back on that night. Noelle had been the first... but every few years, Spike had felt that need. The need to purge his grief in a battle with the only human who could stand against him. He would search the world...find the current Chosen One and act out his little play again. A little dance, a little super-potent blood, a lecture on the value of life to the semi-suicidal Slayer and away into the night. It was madness, his madness.
It had been a few years since the last one...the one in South America. She was still alive if he could believe Buffy. But now...there would be no more. Not now that he had found her. Now the only fight he wanted was the one to bring her back to him. Spike redoubled his efforts to break his chains, he had to get free. The next time Buffy came down here, she would kill him.
With strength born of desperation, Spike flung his arms wide and was rewarded with the protesting shriek of shattered metal. His manacles fell to the ground in several pieces. Spike ran to the worktable and grabbed the small bottle of tranquilizer and charged up the steps. The door was locked. A few forceful kicks splintered the solid oak and he was through. He looked around for Buffy but the upstairs was as deserted as the dungeon. He took in the Slayer’s abode. A cavernous main room, black sheets stapled over the tall windows, bare tile floors.
A metal chair, a card table, an army style cot with one thin gray blanket in the corner of the vast room. There was a crate filled with bottled water and various canned goods, another box filled with rumpled clothing. No lamps, no rugs, no media screen. Spartan wasn’t the word. She lived this way? On the table, Spike spotted a shabby shoebox. Was his book in there? He had to get it back and quickly. Getting it out of Sunnydale was just too important.
He nudged the lid off the box...no book...just something that battered his already aching heart. Photos...of Dawn. Dawn in a mortarboard, holding a diploma in one hand, a big grin plastered across her face. Dawn with some besotted looking boy. Spike felt a rumble of protectiveness. Stupid...it was long over. He flipped through the much-handled pile of pictures. A wedding...no sign of Buffy in the wedding party. Or any of the other Scoobies for that matter. Just a radiant Dawn and that same boy. Another photo...a baby...Spike turned the picture over... Anne, one week old...read the inscription. Dawn’s baby, named for an absent aunt. In numerous photos the baby grew, joined by a brother, school plays, proms, another set of graduations, and nowhere in any of them was Buffy. The last thing in the box was an flowery invitation dated some ten years ago, A Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary Party...a hand lettered plea at the bottom...Buffy, Please come. Love Dawnie
Why had she cut herself off from Dawn? Niblet had obviously tried to keep Buffy in her life...A muffled thump announce the return of the Slayer. He turned to see her standing in the doorway, the dim morning light shining around her. A look of rage came over her face as she saw him holding her pictures.
Spike held one up. “This one is my favorite. Always been a sucker for weddings...Dawn looked beautiful. Lot like you actually...bit taller though. This bloke she married...you liked him? Must have, right? Otherwise you’d of run him off right quick.” Spike rambled; contemplating Dawn’s long gone youth.
“Stop. Stop acting like you know my life...my...” Buffy choked on the words. “My sister...how’d you get free?”
Spike carefully placed all the photos back in the box and closed the lid. “I’m not your average vampire, pet. Mere chains aren’t gonna keep me when I choose to get out.”
“Why are you still here then? You know I’m going to kill you...why aren’t you long gone?” Buffy pulled her crossbow from her knapsack as she spoke and leveled it at Spike’s chest.
“Two reasons. You have my book...and I need it back. Secondly and more immediate...I don’t ever plan to leave you again...no matter how much you want me to.” Spike replied quietly.
Buffy stared at him for a long moment, wondering at this mad creature’s strange behavior...and pulled the trigger.
Continued in Part Six: Late