Cats and Dogs
SPOILERS: none – AU in BtVS 6x19 Seeing Red (Buffy and Tara both get shot by Warren, but Buffy dies in Xander’s arms while Tara survives with Willow’s help)
AN: written for the October challenge of the spiketara community.
Many thanks to sangpassionne for betaing this.
“Can’t say I ever liked cats,” his voice came from behind her. “Always been more of a dog person.”
At his wistful tone, Tara turned her head as far as it would go to peek at his face, but Spike was looking the other way, restlessly scanning their surroundings. Was the small-talk supposed to make her feel at ease? Because if that’s what his comment was all about, well, it wasn’t working. Her heart was fluttering inside her chest like a panicked bird in its cage and her stomach was one painful, sickening knot.
Maybe Spike was nervous too. He always talked a lot when agitated, the soul hadn’t changed that, even though it had muted him in many ways. Maybe that’s why he was trying to draw her into a conversation, instead of flinging curses into the night and making her ears burn.
“I like both, cats and dogs,” Tara told him, when the silence dragged on awkwardly.
“You would, Miss Nightingale,” Spike snickered. “All creatures great ‘n small, ain’t that right?”
“As long as they don’t try to… you know, eat me.”
Spike’s answer was a snort.
Silence descended upon them again, more oppressive than before and Tara found herself yearning to hear another friendly voice. Maybe talking helped after all.
She considered asking Spike whether he’d heard from Clem lately—too small-talky—or how getting a soul had felt—too private—or what he thought of the new Watcher. Although still on good terms with Willow and Anya, Tara was very much out of the loop now that she was no longer a proper Scooby. Spike could probably fill in some of the blanks, but....
“So, what is it about dogs? That you like, I mean?” Tara asked, in a brave attempt to rekindle their earlier conversation.
“A dog’s loyal. Treat’m right an’ he’s yours forever,” Spike answered promptly. “Gotta respect that. Plus, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.”
Tara could of course have pointed out that cats had as much personality as dogs did, but she decided to go with something less commonplace instead, something slightly more personal. “We always had dogs on the farm, and one or two cats,” she said.
“Lemme guess. From what I’ve seen of your old man, I’m thinking something big and nasty, trained to heel at the snap of his fingers, making him feel all manly. Doberman, Rottweiler, or German shepherd dog?”
“Bloodhounds. Pa likes to go hunting.”
“Figures,” Spike muttered and fell silent.
Seconds stretched into minutes. Tara tried very hard to keep her breathing steady and calm. It was bad enough that Spike could smell her fear, no need to throw in hysteria and hyperventilating as well. She swallowed, never taking her eyes off the four tiger-sized creatures that were silently prowling around them in a circle that was less than ten yards in diameter. They resembled huge cats, only they were covered in scaly crocodile-skin instead of fur, and their awe-inspiring claws looked reptilian. Occasionally, one of the red-and-green striped beasts stopped its pacing to regard them hungrily, gray, leathery tongue curling behind needle-sharp fangs.
The only thing that kept the demon-tigers from tearing into the hapless prisoners was the glowing circle of purple flames that surrounded the huge marble pillar they were tied to – Amy’s way of making sure that her sacrificial lambs didn’t try to scamper while she was busy elsewhere.
Not that Spike made a good lamb. “What’s takin’ them so long, for Christ’s sake?”
“Who?” Tara asked.
“The gang. Was supposed to meet Red and Kennedy for patrol tonight over at Restfield. That Chalmers woman was yammering about some fancy star constellation. Said something big might go down tonight. Looks like she was right. Anyway, I don’t turn up, they know something’s fishy. Come on, Will,” he spoke upwards, addressing the thin air. “Get your arse in gear. Not keen on having your ex-rat witch carve me up as demon bait.”
“I’m sure Willow and Kennedy are doing everything they can to find us,” Tara said with conviction.
“Stopping every 5 yards for a snog, more like. Someone ought to light a fire under their arses, that should speed matters up nicely,” Spike groused, his tone spiked with envy but lacking in true rancor.
Tara ignored the tiny pinprick of loss at the image Spike’s words conjured, and wriggled her fingers, trying to keep the circulation going. Her hands were starting to feel chilly and less nimble. The coarse hemp of the rope round her wrists chafed and pricked her skin. Yet the enchantment on the bindings was even more painful, dulling Tara’s magic to the extent that it made her feel empty and nauseous inside, as though someone had scooped out the better part of her, leaving her a hollow, aching husk.
All she could do was cling to her training, the Yoga exercises and meditation techniques, to help her focus, control her fear, and reign in the thundering gallop of her heart. The nausea retreated, but it kept lurking at the fringes of her consciousness – pretty much like the cats that were guarding them, ready to pounce on her and rip her guts out. Tara swallowed.
Dying a sacrificial death tied to a huge phallic symbol in the middle of a cemetery - not quite how she’d expected to go out.
“How d’she catch you?” Spike asked. “Ratgirl, I mean.”
“I think maybe she used a sleeping spell, because one moment I was walking home from the library, next I was here, tied to this... thing.”
Tara glanced upward at the stone angel that perched at the top of the pillar, sword raised. From her vantage point all she could see was a sandaled ankle and the folds of the angel’s seemly robe. The pillar would have been fitting as a victory monument. As marker of a grave it was sheer lunacy, especially since this was Pet Rest Garden, the one cemetery in the whole of Sunnydale that was not plagued by vampires.
“Sunnyhell architecture at its most rampant,” Spike commented, following her glance. “Bet the dearly departed would have itched to lift his leg here.”
Tara felt her mouth twitch. It wasn’t quite a smile, but it came close. For some reason Spike’s voice gave her confidence, something to hold on to in this dire situation. Or maybe it wasn’t so much his voice but his bitching, the way he was acting like everything was normal instead of trying to mollycoddle her.
“What about you, Spike?” Tara asked. “Did you ever have a dog?”
“Ate a few in my time,” Spike said.
“Please say you’re talking hot dogs,” Tara grimaced.
“Sorry, luv,” Spike chuckled. “Was talking the real deal. Stir fried, with black bean sauce. Mind you, nothin’ to write home about. Bit on the greasy side.”
“Eww. Gross! That’s so not what I meant, Spike, and you know it,” she scolded him. “But it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about—you know, about when you were alive. Don’t feel like you have to....” As the words tumbled out, Tara realized that this was the first time she’d ever expressed her interest in Spike’s past. Ever since his return from Africa, she’d tried to treat him like a brand-new person, instead of dwelling on his dark and twisted history. So what had prompted her to break her own rule? Idle curiosity? Suddenly Tara wished she could see his face.
“If I move over, pet, d’you think you can reach inside my pants?” Spike suddenly spoke up. It was a staggering change of subject.
“What?” Tara could feel the hot prickle of a blush wash over her face.
“My pocket. See if you can get the lighter out.”
“Oh, uh… I—I can try.”
Spike edged closer, inch by inch, bending and twisting as far as the rope would let him, until his denim-clad hip brushed against her fingers. Tara went through a similar pantomime, trying to get her fingers into place. She had to rely on touch because, the way they were tied to the stone pillar, Tara couldn’t see her fingers. Spike’s pants were … wow, talk about tight. Did he spray them on? Tara blindly groped around, hoping to locate the hard form of the lighter and follow its shape to the opening of his pocket. There. It. Was.
Tara froze, fingertips resting lightly on a firm object that was straining against the rough denim. “This isn’t your lighter, is it, Spike?”
“Uh no. Not exactly. Although it’s been known to light a few fires.”
Spike’s amused chuckle only added to Tara’s intense discomfort. Embarrassed beyond words, she let go, cheeks burning.
“Sorry petal, didn’t mean to scar you for life.”
Tara lifted her chin. “You know what’s funny, Spike? I—I was just going to say the same thing.”
Tara had never heard Spike laugh before, not even when he’d still been evil or almost-evil. At least not with genuine mirth. And later, after his return from Africa, souled, guilt-ridden, and devastated by Buffy’s death, there had been very little cause for laughter. But now he guffawed. “An’ here I was, thinking this only happens in movies.”
Tara turned her head. Yes, Spike was looking at her, which meant that they were almost cheek-to-cheek now, closer than they’d ever been before. Tara’s heart skipped a beat at his good-natured leer, and she realized she was blushing like a school-girl with a crush. “Michael Caine? On that Caribbean island?” she asked, fighting the overwhelming urge to lower her gaze.
“’Water.’ Yeah. Godawful flick. Unless you’re stoned outa your skull, that is. God, what I wouldn’t give for one last joint right now.”
“Brownies,” Tara blurted out. Was she really discussing movies and, um, recreational activities with Spike, when they should both be concentrating on their escape? They had to get away before Amy came back to complete the sacrifice, except... there was a certain magic to this moment.
“I don’t smoke, but my uh… hash brownies are very good,” Tara explained, shooting him a smile that was one part bashful and two parts naughty.
Spike gaped at her, flummoxed, like a man who’s wasted hours unsuccessfully trying to drive a square peg into a round hole and is only now figuring out the futility of his efforts. “You... you minx.” His eyebrows shot upwards and an appreciative grin lit up his face: “So, that’s the kind of girl you are.”
Tara blushed, as pride and something else, a tiny, unexpected flutter of anticipation, stirred inside her chest.
Spike pursed his lips. A strange look settled on his features and his nostrils flared. “Got any other earth shattering confessions to make, luv, before we end up as demon chow?” he rumbled, his voice low and smooth.
“Like the fact that I watched ‘Hair’ about a zillion times?” Tara blushed again, feeling like a fire fighter; battling one embarrassment with another.
“That’s not earth-shattering, that’s masochism. Try again, luv.”
“I think Billy Idol’s kinda hot. For a guy.”
“That what you think?” He held her gaze, a mischievous glint in his eye. “What else?”
“You never answered my question,” Tara shot back. Feeling strangely bold, she renewed her attempts to locate the lighter in Spike’s pocket. Her fingers brushed over his denim-covered hip and wandered south.
“What? Oh, the dog. You don’t give up easily, do you?”
Tara merely smiled.
“Lighter’s a bit to the left,” Spike said after a pause, segueing not so seamlessly from sultry to business-like. Following his directions, Tara was finally able to worm a finger into his pocket. She couldn’t really grip the lighter, but what she could do was hook her fingertip under a corner and try to gently tug it out. It was no easy task and Spike’s encouraging remarks were, well, not helping. Not at all. “That’s right, think you got it, easy now.”
Tara knew her own body. When it told her to sleep, eat, or go for a walk, she usually listened and heeded its messages—unless that message was ‘eat more chocolate’ because that was usually nine tenths greed and only one tenth need. Right now her body was sending her very unexpected and confusing signals: racing heartbeat, hitched breath, butterflies in her stomach—signals strong enough to push fear and nausea into the background. It wasn’t anything she had time to explore just now, but definitely something to ponder – if they ever made it off the sacrificial altar and past the four hungry demon cats in one piece.
The lighter was almost out now. Tara flexed her fingers, only too aware that loss of circulation had turned them into un-bendy, half-thawed sausages.
“His name was Ulysses,” Spike suddenly said. After a moment of hesitation he added, “He belonged to my sister.”
Tara stilled her fingers. It was like visiting a friend’s house where most of the doors were locked to keep visitors out, and usually it didn’t bother you that so many places were off limits, because you figured that most of those rooms were just cluttered storage places anyway, dark and dank closets full of cobwebs, dust, and junk. Only one day, you noticed in passing that one of the forbidden doors was slightly ajar. And you couldn’t help wondering what was on the other side.
“What happened?” she asked softly, sensing that there was more to come.
“She died. Pneumonia.”
Tara winced, feeling like an intruder. “I’m sorry, Spike,” she said with feeling.
“Don’t be. Water under the bridge. At least she never had to see her brother turn into a monster.”
“You’re not a monster,” Tara wanted to shout, even though she knew he was right. He was a monster, with the fangs and feral eyes to prove it. She’d read his aura, seen the impasto strokes of red and black underneath the dull rust, sepia and turquoise of his soul: like a melancholy de Chirico painted over a Munch painted over an old-fashioned Manet. And when the surface got scratched one never knew which of the two older paintings would shimmer through.
“When she died—,” Spike interrupted Tara’s train of thought, “we all grieved, of course. But the dog? Never stopped pining for her. We...Mother and I, we tried to shake him out of it. Nothing worked. Had to bury the old boy not long after. That’s loyalty for you.”
A lump formed in Tara’s throat. Inevitably, her thoughts turned to her own mother, whose final resting place under an Elderberry tree was far from here, and to Buffy who had received an official grave this time, but also to the row of small graves in her mother’s garden. All the family pets had received a funeral and a marker there, a shrub, tree, or rosebush, even though Pa thought it was blasphemy and a sentimental waste of time to boot.
“You call that loyalty? You make it sound almost romantic, Spike, but dying never is. You grieve, and then you heal. What you call loyalty is nothing but a big waste,” Tara told him sternly. “Now see if you can move a bit closer and let me try again.”
Spike didn’t reply but he did change his position slightly. Tara returned to her task with renewed determination. Right now, the real problem wasn’t so much getting the lighter out, but not dropping it in the process. Her perseverance was finally rewarded, when the lighter slipped into her numb fingers.
“There. I’ve got it. I hope you didn’t ask me to go through all this trouble just for a smoke,” Tara tried to joke.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Spike answered in the same manner, but then his voice grew serious again. “Listen, Ratgirl knows her bowlines but she only used one rope for the both of us. I want you to burn the rope round my wrist. Figure that one’s easiest to reach.”
“But—” Tara started.
“C’mon, luv, yours truly can take a lick of heat.”
“What, are you nuts?” Tara snapped, surprised at her own vehemence. “You’re a vampire, Spike. What if you catch fire?”
“Be ready to chuck your kit if need be,” Spike continued calmly. “And watch the hair. We don’t want you to look like Niki Lauda. Once the ropes are off, stay inside the circle. Do that tinkerbell mojo of yours to fetch Willow, so her and Kennedy can make cat-kabob.”
“Spike, did you hear what I just said?”
“I did. Vampire. Flammable,” Spike said reasonably. “’S alright, pet. Not planning on combusting just yet. No more death wish, cross my heart and all that rot. But there’s no reason for both of us to buy the plot, just for the odd chance that I might turn into Guy Fawkes.”
“Spike, that’s really… well, noble of you, taking that risk, and I appreciate how you’re trying to save me,” Tara said, “but it’s also very… you know … dumb.”
“What?” Spike sounded offended.
Tara swallowed, frightened by what she was about to propose, but the horrifying mental picture of Spike engulfed by flames until – whoosh – his ashes scattered to the ground, gave her strength. They’d already lost Buffy, Tara wasn’t about to lose another member of her chosen if somewhat dysfunctional family.
“I’m not flammable,” she said firmly. “You take the lighter and burn the rope round my wrist.”
“Have you completely lost your—?” he broke off, tried again, calmer this time, with quiet resolve. “No way, Tara. Not gonna hurt you.”
“How many tries, Spike? The lighter, how many till it lights up? Three times, four? And you’re familiar with it,” Tara reasoned. “Also, circulation. Unlike you, I have it, at least normally I do. But right now my fingers are so numb… I’d probably drop it.” But most of all, she was not going to buy her escape with even the remote chance of losing her companion. Spike might consider himself expendable, but Tara did not.
Spike didn’t answer.
“Please. Take it,” Tara said and wriggled around until her fingertips found his cool hand. She slipped the lighter into his palm, and when he closed his fingers around it she let her fingertips linger on the back of his hand for a moment.
“Tara, there has to be another way.” His voice was thick with aversion.
“You did it before, helped me by hurting me,” Tara told him, half expecting Spike to scoff at the reminder, but he stayed silent. She gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m tougher than you think,” she added with as much defiance as she could muster, comforted by the thought that lighter-inflicted burns would have a hard time competing with the agony of bones and knuckles breaking and grinding together in Glory’s merciless grip.
“Right,” he said. “You’re a tough Wiccan cookie.”
He withdrew his hand and a moment later Tara heard him flick open the silver lid. Then the rasping sound of metal striking a flint. Once. Twice. The third clink was followed by silence.
“Just do it, Spike, before I lose my nerve,” Tara urged him. “Now.”
A moment later a sting of heat licked at Tara’s already sore wrist. She tensed, arching against the hard stone column in her back. The sensation soon progressed from discomfort to acute pain, sharp, focused, until the whole world seemed to revolve around the angry throbbing in her hand. The pain combined with the nausea from the enchanted ropes brought tears to her eyes, and Tara bit her lip, knowing every sound of pain made it harder for Spike. She fought against her restraints, hoping to snap the fibers as soon as the flame had weakened them enough. She also fervently hoped her sleeve didn’t catch fire.
When the rope gave way it caught her almost by surprise. Her wrist snapped free, with enough impetus to send her arm flailing - knocking the lighter out of Spike’s grasp almost in passing. Immediately, Tara threw herself against the compromised restraints, once, twice. Beside her, Spike was doing the same. At first Amy’s magical macramé held, only to suddenly unravel in several places at once, causing Tara to tumble down the pillar’s pedestal in a graceless half-sprawl.
And still the enchanted rope clung to her, as if unwilling to let her go. Belying her earlier tough Wiccan stance, Tara swatted frantically at the writhing hemp. Her revulsion couldn’t have been more acute if it had been a giant leech. Actually, real leeches weren’t even half as icky. At least they were living things, natural. The rope on the other hand was a dark and twisted thing, retaining even in its severed state its nausea-inducing properties. Tara was still ineffectually trying to free herself when Spike caught her hands and pulled her to her feet.
“Shhh,” he tried to calm her. “It’s alright. I’ve got you. Here, lemme help.” He deftly untangled the offending rope and tossed it away.
Her frenzy dissipated almost at once, washed away by a wave of relief so intense it made Tara’s knees buckle.
Spike caught her so fast, it had to be a reflex – not an act of deliberation, supporting her with one strong arm round her waist.
“Thank you,” she breathed, and tried to pull back.
Spike let go of her waist but caught her arm. “What for?” he said harshly, a look of disgust on his face. His grip was firm as he studied the blistered skin of her wrist. “For burning you? Getting you hurt?”
For being there. For making her feel less afraid. For everything. But the words got stuck in her throat. “It will heal,” she said instead.
“We have to get you to a hospital, luv.” Spike dropped her hand and turned to assess the restless creatures, who had stopped their feline pacing to watch them with mounting anticipation.
Spike reached inside his leather jacket, produced a silver flask, and took a hefty swallow. The flask was already half-way back to being pocketed when he reconsidered.
“Bourbon?” he offered. “Here, keep it.” He thrust the flask into her hands.
Tara never drank anything stronger than wine or the occasional beer, but she accepted the flask, for safekeeping if nothing else.
“Right.” Spike straightened his leather jacket, eyes trained on his feline adversaries, ready for action, determined. Eager even.
Tara grabbed his arm, staying him. “Promise me you’ll be careful and...” She searched for something to offer him, ending on a sheepish smile. “I’ll bake you my special brownies, as many you can eat,” she said, wincing inwardly at her own awkwardness.
That earned her a look of surprise and the hint of a disbelieving smile.
“And I’ll make you hot cocoa with marshmallows,” she added hastily, remembering Spike’s comfort drink from two years ago.
“’M not some stray dog,” Spike scoffed, “that needs a blanket an’ a bone.”
“And I’m not an animal shelter. I call that a perfect match,” Tara said, fighting the urge to hide her blush behind the curtain of her hair.
“Right,” Spike said and after a moment of hesitation he lifted his hand to tuck a wayward strand of hair behind her ear, slowly, as if half expecting her to pull away from his touch. “You got yourself a deal, then. Now do your mojo.”
The next moment, before Tara could tell him to wait until she was ready, Spike burst into action, leaping over the purple flames with a bellow, fangs bared and feral eyes flashing with bloodlust, catching the demon cats by surprise.
He landed directly on top of one of the snarling cats. His hold looked something like a bear hug, but he was squeezing with all his might, yanking the heavy thrashing body around, while trying to get his arm around the beast’s throat. A hind leg caught him with a glancing blow, shredding the leg of his pants with a sickening sound, drawing blood and eliciting a bellow of pain.
The other three cats were momentarily confused, hesitated. But when a sharp snap sounded and the limp body of the first cat hit the ground, its neck broken, they sped towards the victorious vampire.
Meanwhile Tara hastily gathered her strength and concentration to cast the spell that would lead Willow to them, when she realized she was still holding Spike’s flask. Bourbon. Alcohol. Not quite the same as wine, but still. She also had rope, and there was an uneaten sandwich in her pocket. Wine and bread and rope....
The tinkerbell spell could wait. Tara hastily performed the sacrifice, breaking the bread and pouring the Bourbon over the crumbs while pleading to Bastet for help, fuelling her pain into the calling.
At first her voice was shaky, barely audible over the snarling and fighting, but her determination and urgency grew.
Spike was fighting a losing battle. He’d killed off another cat, but he was bleeding from several deep scratches and his movements were slower now. The remaining two cats were more wary now, more patient; circling their prey, swiping and feinting, sometimes drawing blood, exhibiting more cunning than an average animal.
Without interrupting her chant, Tara tore up her skirt and wrapped the fabric round her hands, creating improvised oven mitts, then she picked up the rope, careful not to let it touch her bare skin— she couldn’t afford to let it leech her magic out of her again—and began to tie her knot.
She almost missed the moment when, with one last purple flicker, the protective circle ceased to exist, leaving nothing but a thin circular line of lifeless grass and earth behind.
Suddenly a black and green shape streaked towards her and leapt into the air, claws outstretched, maw gaping. It would have hit her too, only Spike barreled into it at full speed, striking the cat’s flank and knocking it off its flight path. Both went down in a flurry of limbs and fangs. The second cat hesitated, eyes moving from its original prey to the chanting witch and back. After a tentative step towards her it changed its mind and joined the other demon-cat in its fight against the thrashing vampire.
“Oh goddess,” Tara whispered, fear washing over her, but her fingers were calm. Two more loops and the knot. Was. Done.
Strength. Warmth. Power.
Tara stepped towards the brawl, careful not to get in the way of flailing paws and hind legs. She reached out with one hand and gingerly touched the flank of the nearest demon-cat. Its scaly skin was feverishly hot. A surge of power raced through Tara’s fingertips, briefly colliding with a mental barrier, which she identified as the commands Amy had planted in the creature’s mind, but Amy’s words of binding shattered, were swept away, and the beast ceased to fight or struggle. One sharp command, transmitted through thought alone, brought the beast to heel.
Nervously flicking its tail but otherwise docile, the creature held still when Tara tied the rope round its neck and led it to the pillar. Behind them the sounds of fighting continued then ended with a reverberating snap that send a sharp stab of worry through her, but she didn’t dare take her eyes off the dangerous creature, not before it was securely tied to the pillar.
There, done. She patted its head then took a few steps back, releasing the creature from her direct control. It hissed and sputtered with displeasure but it made no attempt to attack her. On the contrary, it slowly edged towards her in a gesture that was half supplication, half demand and one hundred percent feline.
“Not bad for an evening’s work, pet,” Spike said as he limped towards her. He was battered and bruised, bleeding from half a dozen wounds, literally looking like something the cat had dragged in, but there was a triumphant gleam in his eyes. He patted his pockets digging out the crushed and half-torn remains of a pack of cigarettes. Most of the cigarettes were broken but one was merely bendy. They searched for Spike’s lighter and found it lying in the grass, right next to the cat creature. Against Spike’s protestations, Tara recovered it, giving the creature another friendly pat.
“Thought I was done for. Dunno how you did that, taming that critter,” Spike said, as he lit up and inhaled greedily, “but it sure worked a treat.”
Tilting his head for an appraising stare, Spike added, “You got balls.”
Tara burst out laughing.
“Well, you know what I mean,” Spike back-pedaled, looking sheepish.
“I know, I do, but—” Another outburst of hapless mirth, that was tinged by relief and more than a speck of triumphant giddiness. “I’m sorry, Spike, it’s just—”
Spike waited until the giggling subsided, his expression one part long-suffering, two parts smitten.
Tara was about to apologize again when Spike pointed towards the northern end of the cemetery.
“Lo and behold, here comes the cavalry.”
Indeed, a motorcycle with two riders came into view and a skidded to a halt with a flourish, sending patches of grass and earth flying through the air. Willow slipped fromthe love seat, took off her helmet and shook out her hair. “Sorry, we’re late,” she called breathlessly. “We ran into Amy just outside Rack’s. She went all black-eyed and floaty and stuff but Lydia and I were ready for her. She looks like a green glowy Michelin man now, all tied up. Anyway, the Council will take care of her, apparently they have specially designed prison cells for whacked out magic users.”
Kennedy’s helmet hung from the handlebar. She jacked up the bike, climbed off and walked over to the carcasses. Toeing one with her boot, she said, “Nice work, Spike.”
“We saved you one,” Spike said, nodding towards the captive creature.
“Don’t hurt it, just send it back to its dimension,” Tara interjected hurriedly.
Willow smiled indulgently but nodded.
“Ken? Need to borrow your bike and take Tiger Lily here to the hospital.”
Kennedy’s answer came promptly sailing towards them in the shape of a key ring, which Spike grabbed from the air with a snap.
Tara was about to protest. Once home she could surround herself with the appropriate incense fumes and go into a healing trance, there was no need for hospitals, but then she reconsidered. Who was she to say no to a free motorcycle ride with Spike?
Two minutes later, her arms were wrapped around Spike’s waist, oddly at home there, and they were roaring across the pet cemetery at full throttle. Her wrist was throbbing painfully, but her heart was soaring.