All About Spike - Plain Version
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CHAPTER 17 - VAMPIRE
Late Friday Night
Buffy and the Sunnydale four followed Cordelia up the steps into the Hyperion Hotel. She stared bewildered at the former cheerleader. What had her life come to when Cordelia Chase had lighter, brighter blonde hair than she did?
Angel was in the lobby, waiting for them. The vampire gazed at her and the next thing she knew they were hugging each other and he was gently patting her back. For a moment it was as if she was safe and protected and could finally cry. But it she knew it was an illusion.
She looked up at his face and saw the misery. She had seen it last week, but he had brushed it off and she had been so involved with Spike that she had asked no more questions. But the ageless vampire that she had once loved looked older as if he was slowly being destroyed by grief.
The two former lovers stared at each other as Cordelia introduced the Sunnydale set to Gunn, Fred, Lorne and a solidly built young man, dressed like an Angel wannabe who appeared to have the strange name of Groo.
Fred looked shy but was the first to talk. "Willow, Cordelia told me you were coming. I'm so glad. We have the technology to track Gavin Park, but I think we'll need some magic to place it on him."
Willow was taken aback. "Uh, I don't do magic any more. But Tara does."
Tara stepped forward. "I can move small objects. Is it very heavy?"
Fred smiled and stepped over to show something in her hand to the Wicca. Willow examined it as well and her eyes lit up. She asked a technical question, Fred replied in perfect geek and it was the birth of a beautiful friendship.
"You know much about weapons?" Gunn asked Xander.
"Some." Xander didn't bother with the details on how a single evening wearing a military Halloween costume had somehow given him the commando knowledge that had frequently saved the Scoobies necks. The two and Groo went back to the hotel's weapons room.
Lorne volunteered to drive Fred, Tara and Willow to the street near the Wolfram and Hart building. With some luck they could plant the tracking microchip on Park so that they could trace his movements tonight. If they failed, Angel could probably tail him, but the microchip would make it easier.
That left Buffy and Angel alone, each examining the misery in the other's face.
"I'm so sorry Buffy. I wouldn't have had you take Spike back to Sunnydale if I realized that they would go after him like that. I should have known, even as a human, Spike always attracts trouble."
Buffy blinked. "Spike. No, they were after Dawn. She called after they broke into the house. She identified the invaders as Wolfram and Hart, but she also said Spike defended her and she was going to escape out of the house." Buffy fought the tears. "I think they killed him. There was so much blood. But they were after Dawn."
Angel looked puzzled. "What would Wolfram and Hart want with your sister?"
"What everyone wants." Then Buffy realized how little Angel basically knew about her present life. "Dawn is the Key. She can open doors to other dimensions."
Angel stared then gripped her shoulder. "What do you mean?" His voice was low and intense.
She had been so numb when she first returned from the dead that she had never fully explained about Glory and the Key. They had met shortly after her resurrection and she had barely been coherent. He must have thought that Dawn was some sort of human sacrifice and Buffy died trying to save her. So Buffy explained about the Monks and the Key that they had shaped into a girl. To her, Dawn was her sister, who she loved and would protect. To others, Dawn was an instrument that they would use and discard. "But why would a law firm want to open the way to another dimension?"
"They want to get Connor." Angel growled. Seeing Buffy's baffled look, "My son. He's been kidnapped and taken to a hell dimension. The Key must be the only way to reach Quorthoth."
Buffy was stunned. "You have a son?"
If he had been human, his face would have flushed. But Angel's complexion remained pale. He was silent for a moment then. "By Darla."
"But you . . . she . . . you're both vampires." Buffy's voice rose sharply. "You said you could never have children, you could never risk having sex again. You left me because of that. And now . . . How could you? How could you have a child?"
He shook his head. "I don't know. It was some sort of prophesy." His face became grim. "Connor is a child of prophesy. He holds power and that's what Wolfram and Hart are all about. Power."
Buffy's stomach was sick as she tried to comprehend what Angel had done. Then she remembered, "Darla? You staked Darla a long time ago! She's gone!"
The memory was still painful for him. "Those bastards brought her back. They made her human again and then killed her in front of me. They had Drusilla turn her and I was helpless to stop them."
"Like they did to Spike. They staked him, made him human and tried to turn him again. Why would they do that?"
In a way it surprised Angel. He had finally told Buffy about Connor, and she was more interested in Spike. He had expected to be condemned for having sex with Darla and risking his soul, not to have his deeds dismissed because she was more interested in his vampiric offspring.
"If Dawn's the Key, Spike's the Keeper of the Key. It was in all those documents we let Spike take back to Sunnydale."
"He showed us stuff about the Key. But when they mentioned the Keeper of the Key, I thought it was me. I'm her guardian. How could it be Spike?"
"Buffy, those papers are about the Order of Aurelius."
She blinked, puzzled. He explained. "They are specifically about the vampires of the Master's line. Darla, Spike, James, Drusilla and me among others. It's about vampires and its pretty clear when you go through them that when they mention the Keeper, they are referring to William the Bloody."
At least that explained why they had taken both Spike and Dawn. "But why did they stake him? Why bring him back as a human just to turn him back into a vampire?"
Angel looked bewildered. "I don't know. With Darla, it was part of their feud with me. They knew it would break me to watch her die. But Spike and I . . . we've spent the last century despising each other. They apparently needed a vampire when they use the Key, but how would making him a fledgling again make him different from the vampire he used to be?"
Buffy's eyes widened with shock. "The chip. They did all this so that they could have him be a vampire without a chip. The chip became dust when they staked him. Now, if they turn him, he'll be able to hurt and kill people. They wanted the Keeper of the Key, the vampire with my sister, to be a killer!"
* * *
"Dawn isn't here, yet." Angel returned to the vehicles where the Scoobies and his team were waiting. "Things seem to be set up in a bowl between three hills. There are about twenty people in the bowl and six sentries posted on the outskirts. Everyone is heavily armed. We need to take out the sentries first."
The night was dark. Tara had floated Fred's almost invisible microchip towards Park when he had emerged from the Wolfram and Hart building and it was buried in his clothes. The tracker had allowed them to follow the lawyer as he rode with a team of security people into the hills an hour north of Los Angeles. They held back while Angel scouted.
Gunn, Groo, Angel and Xander were each taking out their assigned sentry. Buffy moved quietly, a hunter stalking her assigned man. She crept through the high grass until she had a clear shot at her target. She gazed through the sites of her crossbow, targeting the sentry for a quick silent kill.
The man seemed to sense something wrong. He shifted his gun nervously, staring into the dark. If he were a vampire or a demon, Buffy would have already taken him out. But he was human. She had killed or injured the Knights of Byzantium when they were fighting to capture Dawn, but that felt totally different than shooting this man who was staring nervously into the dark.
Finally she gave up and lowered the crossbow. She crept further, then launched herself at the sentry. He whipped the gun around and for one fatal moment, hesitated to shoot the tiny blonde running towards him. The next second she was on him and he was down. Buffy nervously checked the unconscious man's pulse, then tied and gagged him. She took the automatic rifle, praying that she would not have to use the unfamiliar weapon.
She gazed down into the bowl. There seemed to be a platform with a stake in the center and piles of what looked like camping supplies lying near it. A dirt trail wove between two of the hills and eventually a dark van drove up to the platform. A group of security people in fatigues and an Asian man in a suit got out of the vehicle. A moment later, they pulled Dawn, bound and gagged from the back.
Buffy started to move then stopped when she saw two men in fatigues come down from the hills. Even from this distance, she could recognize Xander and she assumed the man with him was Gunn. She watched as they positioned themselves casually near the platform.
Dawn was conscious and struggling. It took two men to carry her to the platform.
Xander and Gunn moved. Gunn whipped around, pointing his weapon towards the guards while Xander focused on the men holding Dawn. She couldn't hear what was being said, but she watched as the guards brought the teenager to the two armed men. One bent down and untied her feet and Dawn angrily kicked him in the head. It was startling to see the fighter that her sister had become.
The other guard was starting to untie Dawn's arms, when Gunn collapsed. The men he had been holding at bay focused their weapons at Xander. The carpenter whirled, but before he could raise his weapon, he too collapsed. A shot rang out from the hills, then it was quiet. Dawn tried to run, but was tackled by one of the guards. Buffy coldly aimed her weapon at him but darkness descended before she could pull the trigger.
* * *
Buffy woke. She was tied up, lying on the ground. Around her were the tied and unconscious bodies of their sad little rescue force. Only Angel was awake. She could see him trying to move, but he seemed paralyzed.
She looked around and saw to her horror that Dawn was tied to the stake in the middle of the platform. Her arm was twisted and tied in front of her and blood poured from a deep gash in her wrist. The teenager was white but still conscious. In front of her, on the edge of the platform was a shimmer of light. A portal had been opened.
Several of the guards had gathered the outdoor gear and were loading it into an armored truck. They got in the vehicle and slowly drove it into the shimmering light.
Buffy took advantage of the activity to work at her rope. They hadn't recognized her strength when they tied her and she quickly freed herself. Then, when everyone seemed to be distracted, she launched herself at the nearest guard. Wrenching the weapon from the man, she focused the gun at Park, who seemed to be in charge of the operation. She pulled the trigger in a warning shot and when she got their attention, yelled, "Let Dawn go or I kill this son-of-a-bitch!"
Everyone froze. Then she heard a single voice quietly say, "Be still," and the automatic weapon fell from her nerveless hands. She was paralyzed. Unable to move, except for her eyes, she frantically scanned the crowd until she saw a small withered woman in black gazing at her in triumph.
The woman leered as Buffy struggled desperately against the paralysis.
Then Buffy's horror deepened as she saw Spike standing quietly beside the woman. He was a vampire. They had turned him into a vampire without a chip, a monster who could casually kill. He leaned over and murmured something softly to the woman, then looked up at Buffy with feral yellow eyes.
Buffy screamed soundlessly. Desperately she gazed at the monster, begging for some sign of the man she had loved. There was none. He turned away from her and once again whispered something to the witch. The two of them watched the portal.
The portal was still growing. It was large enough now to show a barren wasteland beyond. Oh God, it's going to need blood to close. I've got to find some way to talk, to tell them to use me, not Dawn. She glanced desperately over at Spike. He was there. He knows that Dawn doesn't have to die. He can tell them to take me.
Spike was watching her again. Then, almost casually he turned towards Dawn and strode over to the platform. Buffy writhed in desperation, trying to break free as she heard her sister scream.
Spike grabbed Dawn, shoving her roughly against the stake. He wrapped himself around the helpless girl and bit her neck.
Continued in CHAPTER 18 - PORTAL
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