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Road Tripp'n
By Moose

Sequel to Easier Said

Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Beta: The wonderful Colleen.
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part One

The road stretched before him like black glass, long and unending. He was moving fast, trying to escape her pull, her gravity. A burning surged within him as he pushed onward, scorching his dead lungs. Every drag of his cigarette added to the searing pain until he coughed smoke like exhaust. His skin crackled and burned as if on fire, consuming him from the inside out. Speed was his only release. He drove with the windows down, sucking the cold air in, letting it wash over him in icy waves. The air was manna. It cooled the burning of her eyes, the memory of her lips. A fleeting thought of her smile and he almost lost control of his car, jabbing the accelerator hard and clutching the wheel like a madman.

The tires of his DeSoto barely kissed the asphalt anymore. He was death on wheels, going fast. Faster. Wanting the distance to stretch the pain, pull it thin so the memory of her could be bearable again.

He found himself craving blood. The thermos full of butcher's blood that Dawn had given him, now as thirsty and hollow as he was.

How far? Spike thought. Mile marker. Three hundred miles. Three hundred miles from her and he still felt like retching.

He traveled only at night. He had made the mistake of leaving her during the day, of having the ruthless sun turn his car into an oven. He hadn't gotten far before he was forced to find shelter.

It was hot enough even now. Without the respite of the cool desert air, he would have collapsed at the wheel long ago, leaving some highway patrolman to find an abandoned car with a dusty front seat.

Blood was definitely becoming a problem. His thirst was profound. For a reason he couldn't fathom, drinking blood kept him from thinking of her. If he had realized why, how similar his sudden desire for blood mirrored her desire for him, he would have tossed the thermos and blood packets out the window, never touching a drop. But he couldn't think, couldn't grasp the meaning of the hunger that tormented him like a newly sired whelp. He had finished the thermos and all six packets of blood he'd packed before Spike realized what he was doing. He licked the bags clean, but the hunger was still there, insatiable.

A fleeting memory of her small fingers aimlessly tracing patterns on his chest, and he pounded the dash in frustration, gasping.

"Blood, I need blood."

At rest stops he searched for whatever made those small burrows in the sandy earth, finding nothing. The few people he saw he growled at, wishing the chip in his head would cease working for an hour so he could open them up like ripe watermelons--all red and pink and sweet inside. Quench the thirst and the dull pounding of blood in his ears.

She wouldn't like that.

The thought came to him sudden. He hadn't drunk enough blood. He could still hear her, inside him. Hungry, inside him. The blood kept her quiet.

He had no choice. He would have to move faster now. Speed was essential.

*****

He drifted off again. He had just started out after sunset, after parking under a closed overpass during the day. Road construction was good. It kept him away from people. He didn't want anyone to see his pallid face and dark, dead eyes. He wanted no question or looks of pity. And he didn't want to smell the blood pumping under their skin.

However, when he started down the road again, he found that he was strangely at peace. The blood didn't seem so urgent, and the dull motion and steady sound his tires made going over the still cooling seams in the road, lulled him.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

It was a familiar rhythm. It felt like her heart beating against his chest, a sound he used to fall asleep to. Sometimes he had imagined it was the sound of his own heart pumping as he drifted off to sleep.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump...

"Uh, Spike?"

He started, disoriented and on the wrong side of the road. He quickly moved back into his lane, gulping the panic down into his gut, his nerves as tight as guitar strings.

"It's about time you woke up," said a familiar voice beside him. Spike jumped, hitting his head against the roof of the car.

"Bugger!" he said, trying to keep control of the wheel. He looked at the seat beside him. She was there. Impossibly there, in a pleasant flowery dress, idly filing her nails.

"I don't know why you insisted on leaving, Spike," Buffy said plaintively. "We could be having so much fun right now."

"You're not here," Spike said, curious but defiant. I don't want her here.

"Yes I am, William. And stop being so rude. You used to like me..." she said petulantly, jutting her lower lip out. It was her playful invitation to kiss, one he rarely resisted.

He resisted.

I'm off my rocker, Spike thought, staring at her dumbfounded, glancing ahead every few seconds to keep from going off the road. She smiled at him like the bot used to with that big, white, apple slice smile. But this wasn't the bot. And he knew it wasn't her. He was moving to get way from her. She couldn't be here, looking at him like that. Smiling at him as if he mattered, as if she gave a damn...

"I do love you, Spike."

The words hit him like a cold, steel hammer. He gasped and clutched the wheel hard.

"Shut up," he rasped.

"What's wrong?" she asked innocently.

"Shut the hell up!" And she started to laugh. Pleasant at first, then mocking. The sound grated through him, causing hot slivers to course through his body, piercing him in every nook and cranny.

He told her to go fuck herself and she laughed harder.

"Why don't you do it for me?" she said, arching her back, jutting out her breasts as she stretched seductively, smiling at him. Always smiling.

*****

"Can we get some ice cream? I'll lick it off you."

Spike groaned.

When he reached a small town and found what passed for a hospital, he pretended to donate blood. Under different circumstances he would have been amused as a young woman repeatedly dug a needle in his arm trying to find a workable vein.

Poor bint, Spike thought. It wasn't her fault. His vamp body simply refused to surrender a drop of the precious liquid. As she left in search of a more experienced hand, Spike liberated some packets of blood from a nearby cooler, stuffing them down his pants. Once outside, he gorged himself on the stolen booty. And waited.

Any second now.

"Did it work?" Buffy asked him sweetly.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Spike ran to his car and jumped into the driver's seat, pealing away in a screech of rubber.

*****

"Spike?"

"What," he replied wearily. He was forced by the rising sun to find a place to hide out. Another hole-in-the-ground town had something in his price range--The Starshine Motel. Cheap, dirty and not at all family oriented. The manager took his money and shoved it in a lock box.

That wouldn't have stopped me back in the day, Spike thought grimly, staring at the steel box. Heck, still wouldn't if he put his mind to it.

"I don't like it here," Buffy whispered.

"Good. Get the fuck away then," Spike muttered.

"Eh?" the manager said looking up.

"Nothing. Got ice?"

"Buckets over there. Machine's outside. Help yourself."

"Thanks," Spike said, trying to ignore the unpleasant odors emanating from the manager. Spike grabbed his key and an ice bucket and went to find his room.

The room was a dump. Certifiable, no good, sleazy, colorfully stained dump.

"Perfect," Spike said, grinning.

"You think I'll leave just because..." Buffy stopped, making a face while peering into the bathroom.

Spike flopped on the bed, the springs groaning in protest. Decidedly uncomfortable, he thought. Not at all what she would want. She never would've stepped foot inside a place like this.

Buffy, the not-so-real-fuck-I-think-I'm-crazy Buffy, sat down on the bed, frowning at him.

"I don't like it here," she repeated.

"Fine. Sod off." She didn't. She laid down next to him, putting her head on his shoulder. Shit, that felt real...

"Do you want to make love to me?"

"You never called it that, pet. If you're gonna pretend you're here, at least get it right." She stuck out her tongue then snuggled against him.

He felt hot. Unreasonably hot. And the motel didn't have air conditioning. Just then he remembered the ice bucket and got up, ignoring her sounds of protest.

He found the ice machine outside, several doors down. He opened the metal door and relished in the cool air released from within. He stood there, half-swooning from the cold, then slipped his bucket into the bin, filling it.

When he got to his room, he stripped naked and laid back on the bed again with the ice bucket on the floor next to him. Picking up a cube of ice, he ran it slowly over his face and chest. When that melted he picked up another. It was heaven. Cube after cube of heaven.

"Do you know how hot you look?" Buffy asked, standing at the foot of the bed.

"That's the idea, luv. Trying to fucking cool off."

"I mean, do you know how wet I am right now?"

"Suffer," he said petulantly. She grinned and in a fluid motion removed her dress and stood before him naked. Gloriously naked.

"I know you want to," she said, still smiling.

"We can't. For one, you're not here. Two, sod off."

"What's number three?" she asked, suddenly standing on one foot as she pulled her right leg up to the side of her head like a ballerina.

He was as hard as nails now, watching her as she grinned at him.

"Want me to dance for you?"

"No, pet," he gasped.

"Too late. I feel like dancing."

Oh, fuck...

*****

Spike woke to a distant scream. Instinctively he looked for Buffy next to him only to find the bed--and room--empty. Panic gripped him, clawing at his belly. Another faint scream and he ran to the door, flinging it open.

Several rooms down, under the flicker of fluorescent lights going bad, a vampire was feeding. It took a moment before he recognized the small blonde woman pinned against the wall as the large, male vampire drunk from her.

Buffy...

Spike crossed the distance in a flash. He couldn't remember what happened until later. Much later. What he did remember was beating the vampire repeatedly in the face. Smashing cartilage and bone until its vamp face caved like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny. Thankfully it dusted, taking most of the gruesome mess with it. It was then that he heard crying from behind him.

"It's okay, luv. I got him. Must've caught you from behind, eh?" Spike turned to console her and found a blonde woman he had never met before, trembling and crying in fear. Just then he realized he was still naked, his body covered in blood and dust.

"You'll be fine," Spike said hoarsely, his throat nearly gagging on the words.

Fine? What the fuck do I know of fine? he thought bitterly. No, you won't be fine. This will haunt you for years. You won't be able to sleep without thinking about it, won't dream without repeating it. Nothing's fine. It's all fucked up now. I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry.



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Beta: The wonderful Colleen.
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Two

Buffy wandered through the graveyard, her wooden stake aimlessly tapping against her thigh. Whenever she let her mind drift, she unconsciously ended up at Spike's crypt.

The crypt stood empty and dark before her. It frightened her like this. Before when she sought Spike out there would be a flicker of light or noise behind the cold door. A hint of laughter at some old movie, or the click of a microwave door being closed. Now nothing. Painfully nothing.

Then she heard a sound, the faintest scraping of stone on stone.

What the..?

Buffy burst into the crypt and found two very surprised vampires up against a sarcophagus, half-undressed, teeth clamped on each others necks. Buffy stood there stunned. It was an affront, a mockery of her pain.

She jumped them fast, furiously punching, kicking and throwing.

It feels good to do this again, Buffy thought. In here.

She used to punch him in the face like THIS! And manhandle him like THAT! But the vampires didn't know the game. They didn't return her fury with clever barbs or laughing eyes. They pled for their lives, begging to leave town and never come back. Wrong answer. VERY! VERY! VERY! WRONG!

*****

Speed. Distance. Speed. It was a mantra to Spike, something he played in his head, trying to ignore the not-so-Buffy sitting next to him, humming the same tune over and over again.

I know this isn't real,

but I just want to feel.


Feel what, pet? Spike thought. Feel like chili peppers are being grilled under your skin? Feel like you can't breathe even when you don't need to? Like a weight is crushing you down, keeping you small and insignificant? Is that what you want to feel?

Speed. Distance. Speed.

*****

The next night on patrol, Buffy purposely avoided Spike's crypt. The memory of her vicious vamp beat down from the night before was still raw. It had been the begging that got to her. They had actually begged for their undead lives.

It didn't help things that Dawn continued her silent treatment at home. Every once in awhile, Buffy would catch her crying in the bathroom, in which case Dawn would storm past her and slam the door to her room.

"All this over a stupid vampire?" Buffy said aloud, getting no response from the gravestones. She truly felt puzzled. She missed Spike sure, but he wasn't Angel. Or heck, even Riley. It was just Spike. Smooth lips, demanding tongue, Spike.

Sexual frustration. That's all it is, she thought. I'm a grown woman...and I have needs! And Spike was good at the...needing. Or was it kneading? God...stop that. Focus. Vampires-stake-poof-gone.

Gone. Spike's gone.

That last thought hit her in the gut, taking her breath away.

Spike's gone. Spike *is* gone. He's not coming back to me.

Hot tears began to fall from Buffy's eyes. She thought she had been doing so well, that she could finally get on with her life without a certain blonde vampire always saying the wrong thing, complicating matters. But with Spike not around, she found her thoughts more and more on him. Where was he? Was he okay? Did he miss her? Would he come back if she asked? If she found him? Would he want to?

A scrawny looking vampire came into Buffy's view, startling her out of her reverie. It took one look at her and charged.

Must be a new one, Buffy thought, wiping her eyes and whipping out a stake. Never heard of the dusty death that is me.

Abruptly it stopped, standing several feet from her, looking past her. Then it screamed. Loud. Hands over ears loud. Buffy glanced behind herself, feeling foolish as she did.

If this is one of those--Ooh, look at the big scary thing behind you- routines...

Buffy saw nothing. But the vampire continued to scream and then started off running in large circles. She chased after it, but it ran as if possessed, staying just beyond her reach.

"Oh, for crying out loud," Buffy said, finally stopping. The vampire continued on its circular path right back to her. She plunged her stake into its chest as it passed by. It continued running, collapsing into dust as it went.

Weird, she thought. She decided to do one more quick sweep before heading home.

*****

"That's like the fourth crazy vamp this week!" Buffy protested to the Scooby gang gathered in her living room. She had just come back from patrol, recounting her last kill of the night, which involved a naked vampire that had climbed on top of a telephone pole. Apparently, he had been trying to make a collect call by chewing on the wires. Buffy had to use her crossbow, which she had lugged with her, fearing another "chase the vamp" episode, only with one that liked straight lines instead of circles.

"That's just...weird," Willow said. Tara nodded in agreement.

"I know! What is it, a full moon week for vampires?" Buffy said, annoyed.

"Well, something's definitely up," Xander said. "I mean, the collect call thing is semi-evil, but climbing a giant stake? Naked? Can you say splinters in bad places?" They all smiled briefly at that.

Buffy sighed. "I just don't get it," she said, collapsing on the couch and folding her arms like an angry child. "Why can't vampires act like vampires? You know, with the fangs and the blood and the death. Well, maybe not the death, but the fangs and the blood. Is that so much to ask?"

"Blood..." Anya mused.

"What?" Buffy asked.

"Well, there is a poison that works on vampires. I think it's called Blood Fever. It's rare and hard to come by. Some of the Magic Box suppliers have it listed, but since you like your vampires dusty not crazy, I never got any. But it could be causing the weirdness. A vampire poisoned with the stuff would start to see and hear things." Anya paused, a look of horror on her face.

"Maybe they're seeing giant bunnies," she said, voice trembling. Buffy ignored that last part, absorbing the new information as Xander comforted his bride-to-be.

"But who would be poisoning vampires? I mean, what's the point?" Buffy asked. "Besides making my job that much more bizarre," she added.

"And the how," Willow said. "Vampires prefer fresh from the neck blood. Unless their victims poisoned themselves first? That doesn't make sense," she said, frowning.

"Humans can't ingest the poison either. It doesn't cause the hallucinations, just severe convulsions," Anya supplied.

"Yeah, but what about the vamps that don't eat off the vine?" Xander asked. "Steal blood from hospitals and blood banks?"

"I haven't heard anything in the n..news," Tara contributed. "They would report something like that, wouldn't they?"

"And how would someone know to poison what ahead of time?" Buffy asked. "No, this has to be someone giving the vamps their meal... Wait, no. Not giving--paying."

"How do you mean?" Xander asked.

"Butcher's blood," Buffy finished.

*****

Spike found he had lost all sense of direction. His vision blurred the road signs into an incomprehensible mess. He fueled up at an all night gas'n'pump, trying desperately to read the counter map inside, but the roads snaked and throbbed before his eyes. The clerk had reluctantly given him directions, but to Spike the go-lefts and go-rights flip-flopped in his head and he soon forgot them altogether.

He found that the only thing clear to him was Buffy. Where the door shimmered like a reflection in a pool, it stopped at the edge of her. She was in focus. Everything else was dim, covered in a haze. Polluted.

Buffy was pure, clean, golden. And he found it extremely hard to take his eyes off of her.

"Where are we going," Buffy asked, snapping her bubble gum relentlessly. He caught himself before he asked where she got the gum.

"I don't know," Spike said honestly.

"Can we go to France?"

"No. And what's with France and you women? Harmony always wanted to go to France."

"I don't know. Just thought it would be fun. You know...France," Buffy said, as if it was the most obvious conclusion in the world.

"Don't think I have enough gas," Spike said dryly.

"You're making fun of me," she pouted.

"Yes."

"That's not nice, Spike."

"I'm not nice. You've said so yourself. More than once."

"Well...still. If I'm going to be your girl then you have to nice to me. It's like the law."

"Which law is that, pet?"

She smiled at him. "Buffy's law."

"Let me guess. Of which you are the sole maker of?"

"Exactly. Now you're gett'n it."

"No, if I were gett'n it, your head would be..."

"Spike!"

He chuckled. To hell with sanity, he thought. She was here. She was his. Finally his.

*****

"Any luck?" Buffy asked Xander as he entered the Magic Box.

"None. They ain't talk'n, Buff. I think most of the butchers here are afraid of word getting out that they sell blood to people, let alone vampires."

"I know!" Anya exclaimed. "We can stake them out at night, like in the movies, and follow the vampires they sell blood to and see if they go crazy!"

"Great, Ahn," Xander said. "Only there's at least 12 butchers in town. That could take awhile. Sunnydale: Home of the highest per capita of butchers and cemeteries. You...don't think there is a connection do you?" Xander said with a nervous laugh.

"Buffy!" Willow exclaimed. "I think I've found something." All the Scoobies gathered around Willow's laptop.

"Six weeks ago, a butcher by the name Merle Hansen lost one of his teenage daughters in a car accident."

"Car accident? Are you sure it wasn't a vampire?" Buffy asked.

"Article says car accident. And it was investigated by the police as part of a teen road safety program," Willow added.

"Coincidence maybe?" Xander asked.

"In Sunnydale?" Buffy replied. "No. This whole poison thing, it's personal. Someone isn't just killing vampires. It's more than that."

"Who's killing vampires? Besides you I mean," Dawn said, startling them from behind.

"Huh? Oh, nobody. Just...Scooby stuff," Buffy said, trying to ignore Dawn's icy stare. The presence of her implacable sister while they discussed vampires was definitely not something Buffy wanted.

She'll bring him up, Buffy thought worriedly. She was so not ready to deal with talk. Talk about him. About her and him.

"I'm not a kid. And I've helped with the monster mash before," Dawn said coldly.

"I know, Dawn. But..." Buffy tried to think of good reason, but reason was failing her. Thinking of Spike had shook her.

"Fine. Stay. Learn about serial killers. It's just what every young girl needs," Buffy muttered as Dawn smiled triumphantly.

"So, who else is making with the dusty?" Dawn asked.

"Well..." Willow began nervously, glancing at Buffy. "They're not actually dusting vampires, more like poisoning them."

"Poisoning them? Weird," Dawn said.

"So say us all," Xander agreed.

"We were checking out butchers and found this guy who lost a daughter recently..." Willow continued.

"Butchers?" Dawn interrupted, feeling something cold travel down her spine.

"Yeah. We think that maybe the poisoned blood is being sold by a butcher in Sunnydale," Willow replied. Dawn suddenly grabbed Willow's laptop and stared hard at the picture on it.

"That's him..." Dawn barely whispered, her eyes wide.

"That's who?" Buffy asked, concerned at her sister's reaction.

"The guy that sold me the blood. The blood I gave Spike."



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: The Wonderful Colleen™ and the Amazing Mezz™ (Action figures sold separately. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Three

"Spike?"

Spike looked at the seat next to him, seeing his golden queen, his lover, his divine paramour... God! He felt like William again--trying to find the perfect word to describe the luminescence of her skin, the pearl of her teeth, the hue of her eyes. Eyes like the sun. Scorching, blisteringly beautiful eyes.

"Yes?"

"I need you," she said, worrying a strand of hair between her teeth.

"I need you too, love."

His reply caused an impish smile to cross her face. She leaned towards him and ran her hands down his neck and chest, her small, deft fingers unbuttoning his shirt. He smiled.

"What are you doing?"

She answered by teasing his ear with her tongue and gently biting his earlobe. He was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on driving. Luckily, the night's traffic was sparse and the road mostly straight.

When Buffy kissed him, he pulled back, trying to see the road ahead.

"Buffy, we can't, love. I can't see when you do that," Spike reproached her softly.

"I want you now," she said huskily, undoing his belt. Spike leaned back a little to give her access. She freed his cock with her small hands, grinning at him. He smiled back.

Has she ever been more beautiful? Spike thought.

Then all thought left him as she put her mouth to work on his exposed member.

"Oh God..Buffy..."

"Mmm..Spike? I need you inside me," she said, crawling over his lap and lifting her dress. He craned his neck to watch the road, shuddering slightly when she lowered herself onto him. He felt the hot, wet heat of her decend upon his shaft. He steadied her with his right arm, his hand flat against her back, while his left hand was locked firmly on the wheel. He looked over her shoulder as she began to move slowly, inch by inch, slipping him deep, then almost out, then deeper still. She licked her lips sensuously and moaned.

"I love how your cock feels inside me," she whispered in his ear. He shivered in pleasure. He spared a glance and saw a strange, unexpected look on her face.

"Spike?"

"Yes, love?"

"Do you know how to break someone?"

"What?" He looked at her confused. She was still moving on him, now rolling her hips, grinding against him almost painfully, while inside her wonderful muscles clenched rhythmically around him.

"Break someone," she continued. "Make it hurt so bad they can't function. Can't live anymore."

"I'm not bloody Angelus," Spike gritted out. Why the fuck was she asking this? But his reply only made her grin.

"No, you're William the Bloody." She laughed and he felt cold. Deathly cold.

"What's your point, love?" he asked, a terrible feeling rising in him. A truck passed on the other side of the road, its lights on bright, nearly blinding him as flashes of green and red exploded behind his eyes.

"You already know the point, William. It's simple. You break people by giving them what they want." Suddenly, his cock was being squeezed by her inner muscles--tight. So fucking tight. He gasped and thrust deep, unable to stop pumping into her as he unleashed himself.

He saw her, smiling at him as he convulsed. Her brilliant, white smile filled his vision. So bright. So incredibly bright. Her teeth gleaming like stars.

No, not stars. Like...like...

Headlights.

The impact ripped Spike from his seat and sent him smashing through the windshield. His body bounced and scraped to a halt several feet from the twisted metal wreck. He briefly felt something hot and wet against his side, then blacked out.

*****

"Dawn, Spike could be anywhere," Buffy replied, feeling a small hole form in her gut.

"We have to find him! Now!" Dawn cried, nearly hysterical. "It's your fault! You let him leave!"

"I'm not the one that gave him the blood!"

That was low, beneath her, and Buffy regretted the words even as they tumbled out of her mouth. But she was afraid for Spike now. Dawn had made her afraid. Now he was gone *and* in danger, and there was nothing she could do about it. The hole in her gut felt like it was expanding to her chest, making it hard to breathe.

"I'm...I'm sorry, Dawn. I didn't mean it..." But Dawn collapsed on the couch weeping uncontrollably while the rest of the Scoobies shot Buffy angry glances.

Can I mess things up any more? Buffy thought, sighing.

"Maybe it isn't this guy. How do we know it's this guy?" Xander asked.

Good, Buffy thought. Hope. Give me...no Dawn, hope.

"Only one way to find out," Buffy stated, grabbing her jacket and heading for the door.

"You want backup?" Xander managed to get out just as Buffy slammed the door behind her.

"Guess not," Willow said with a small frown, while Tara held Dawn and whispered every word of comfort she could think of.

*****

"I can't find a pulse. And he's cold."

"Damn, he's messed up real bad..."

"Holy shit! He's moving. We've got a live one!"

"Start chest compressions. Watch the blood."

"Damn... How much is in this guy? It's everywhere."

"He's lost a lot of blood. I'm still not getting a pulse, but he's moving. Must be faint. What about the other guy?"

"He's gone."

"Where the hell are the cops?"

"Should we go?"

"Let's get him loaded. Call County. We can't wait. This guy could go any minute."

*****

Darkness. In the dark. Cold. So cold.

Spike awoke wondering how long he had his eyes open. Even his vampire vision couldn't penetrate the dark. He dimly realized he was lying on metal, a thin sheet half covering him. He reached out and found walls close, all around him. The memory of scraping his way out of his grave burst in Spike's mind, and he scratched at the cold walls in a panic.

"Calm down you bloody idiot!" Spike said to himself, trying to think, regain control.

He remembered driving. Escaping from...Buffy. Buffy. Having sex with Buffy while...

Do you know how to break someone?

I'm not bloody Angelus.

Lights. Blinding lights and...and Buffy. Laughing.

More lights, red this time.

Voices crushing and poking him.

"Bloody hell," Spike muttered. He reached above and pushed. The door wouldn't open. He slammed his fist hard against the metal and heard a small latch give.

Spike winced as the door flung open, the bright fluorescent lights stinging his eyes. He climbed out of his metal coffin far from amused. He was in a hospital morgue.

"Must've finally given up on me," Spike said, looking around. "Fuck, what did they do with my clothes?"

He felt a sharp pain in his side and found a long curling line of stitches traveling up to his armpit.

"At least they sewed me up first." Spike grimaced as he gingerly pressed his fingers to his side. It would heal. His vamp body was already working overtime on it. At least he was in a hospital. Shouldn't be too hard to nick some blood, he thought.

Spike found his clothes in the next room under the label "John Doe." He quickly got dressed, afraid of being discovered by hospital personnel. His shirt was a mess of holes and small tears. His pants hadn't fared much better.

"My car!" Spike groaned, suddenly remembering the wreck.

But it was the next thought that terrified him more than any other.

"Where's Buffy?"

*****

Buffy waited until the last customers left, hanging back, eyeing the rows of sausage and steaks and hamburger with a slight feeling of nausea. The short, burly man behind the counter was definitely the man in the picture Willow had showed them. When he smiled, handing the white paper wrapped steaks to a customer, she wanted to snap his neck.

This guy was selling poisoned blood to her...vampires? Buffy didn't complete that thought. Instead, she fumed, and waited until they were alone.

"Can I help you, miss?"

Buffy smiled. "Sure. I heard this is the place to buy rare stuff...I don't know, like blood for example?" She noticed him blanch a little, but he quickly covered it by going to the door and putting up a "closed" sign.

"I told your kind to wait 'till I was closed," he muttered, starting to head to the back of the shop. Buffy stepped in front of him.

"I'm not a vampire."

He looked surprised. "You're not..."

"No. But I have friend that..."

"A f..friend?" he rasped, as if the word pained him. "A boyfriend?"

Buffy was taken aback. "Uh, well..."

Suddenly he grabbed her shoulders and shook her hard, a wild look in his eyes.

"Who is he? It's him isn't it!" Buffy broke his grip with some effort, but he continued to speak, his voice rising.

"You can't trust him! He's evil, don't you understand? They're all evil. They can't love, no matter what they tell you." He spat out the last part with such bitterness that Buffy stepped back, her mind reeling.

How does he know about...?

But he was there, blocking her way, his manic eyes boring into hers.

"Listen to me, little girl. Run away while you can. He's lying to you. Just like he lied to my..." Finally, he stopped and broke down into tears.

Buffy looked at the man in horror and sympathy, finally beginning to understand. She looked around the room and saw a picture of a pretty, blonde haired girl on top of the register. She walked over and picked it up.

"Your daughter?" Buffy asked.

He nodded. "Ellee."

"What...what happened to her?"

"She started to see him, snuck out at night. I tried to stop her, but she...she wouldn't listen. He told her he loved her, and she believed him. She was my little girl..." He started to cry again. Buffy patted him on the shoulder awkwardly, her anger dissolving with his grief.

"That night..." Buffy began.

"She was going to see him. I know it. He did this to her. She wouldn't have gotten in that car wreck otherwise," he said, his eyes flashing with anger.

"Merle. It's Merle, right?" He nodded. "I know what you're doing...with the blood. And the poison. I need you to stop." He looked a bit guilty, but his eyes still burned with anger.

"They're going to pay for what they did to my Ellee," he said firmly.

"Merle, they will pay. I make them pay." He looked at her in confusion.

"I...hunt them. Kill them. It's what I do." Merle looked at her, surprise and hope crossing his face.

"Just a minute!" he exclaimed, then ran to the back of the shop. Buffy waited, idly looking at the picture of Merle's daughter. She looked somewhat familiar, but Buffy couldn't place her. Abruptly, Merle returned with a rolled up paper and a brown envelope.

"She made a drawing of him. I found it in her room," he said excitedly, handing her the paper. Buffy unrolled it, finding a portrait done in pencil of a handsome, young man with piercing eyes.

"She had talent," Buffy murmured.

"Will you do it?" Merle asked. He shoved the envelope eagerly into her hand. She noticed briefly that it was stained with small drops of blood. Buffy looked inside and found money. Lots of money.

"Do what?" Buffy asked, confused.

"Kill him! Find him and kill him. Is that enough money? I can get more."

"No, Mr. Hansen. I can't take..." Buffy started.

"Please? He killed my baby." He started to choke up again as Buffy stared at the money. She needed money. But this...

Buffy looked at the portrait again and something clicked. She knew this vampire. In the crypt. In Spike's crypt. He had been there with another vamp--a young girl with blonde hair...

No, please! I love her! We'll leave town. You'll never see us again! Please!

He had turned her. Made it look like an accident, Buffy thought dully.

"Please, take it."

Buffy looked at Merle, barely hearing what he was saying, an icy numbness crashing through her.

"You'll need money," he pleaded. "To track him down, right? I can get more."

Track him down? But she had already found him in Spike's crypt. Found him with Merle's undead little girl. She had beat them and staked them.

At least their ashes were together, Buffy thought wildly, crushing down the urge to burst out laughing. At least she thought it was laughter.

They can't love, no matter what they tell you.

Spike. I need to find Spike.

"Take it, please?"

Please! I love her!

Buffy stuffed the envelope inside her jacket and turned to go. Merle sighed in relief.

"No more...with the blood. Okay?" Buffy said, pausing at the door. He nodded, tears streaming down to the corners of his beatific smile.

Two blocks away, Buffy stumbled into an alley and threw up, emptying her stomach on the cold, hard asphalt.



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: The Wonderful Colleen™ and the Amazing Mezz™ (Action figures sold separately. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Four

Spike drained bag after bag of blood in a storage room of the hospital. He kept the light off as he drank to avoid detection by passing hospital personnel. The awful hunger was back with a vengeance, and his head pounded mercilessly. He had barely finished one bag before he tore open another, his hands trembling, desperate to stop the aching need of blood.

"What's wrong with me," Spike muttered. Something's wrong. This...he never needed blood like this. He felt like he had just clawed up from the earth, his fangs and skin hot with bloodlust. He was over a century old. He shouldn't...

Suddenly, he felt a familiar presence. It was one of his own kind. Spike opened the door a crack and saw a tall black man in an expensive cream colored suit and gold-rimmed, dark sunglasses, striding cocksure down the hall.

"Well, well, well," Spike said to himself, a slow smile creeping over his face. He slipped out of the storage room and followed the vampire, keeping far enough back so that it wouldn't sense him.

Spike recognized a player when he saw one. This was a vampire of the world. One that enjoyed walking the fringes of society: feeding, dealing, having the things denied him when he was human. Spike found the vampire ridiculous. The state of his own bedraggled and torn clothes didn't help matters. The impeccable dress, the gold watch, and diamond pinky rings were enough to leave Spike seething with hatred.

Didn't this ponce know what a vampire was supposed to be? he thought angrily. Time for a lesson then.

Spike followed the vampire out the hospital's automatic doors and into the night. As the vampire crossed the parking lot, Spike stepped up his pace, trying to get closer. Luckily, the vampire took no notice as Spike quietly twisted a limb off of one of the small trees that peppered the parking lot's grass islands. He approached his vampire victim from behind, careful to stay in his blind spot. Spike knew the blighter deserved to die when he got within six feet without being noticed.

"Stupid bitch thought she could hide from me here?" Spike overheard the vampire mutter, oblivious to the leather clad blonde stalking him. Spike paused momentarily as the vampire dug keys out of his pocket. A sudden and very welcome thought abruptly presented itself. Keys?

Spike pounced, snatching the keys from the vampire's startled grasp. The vampire turned around with a snarl just in time to see a flash of yellow eyes, and a broken tree limb sticking sharply out of his chest.

"Tough break, mate," Spike smirked, as the vampire howled, collapsing into dust.

*****

"What did you find out?" Willow asked, once Buffy had taken off her jacket and curled up on the couch next to her.

"Where's Dawn?" Buffy asked, unsure whether her sister should hear this.

"Don't worry. Tara's with her upstairs, trying to get her to sleep," Xander replied.

"It was him. He was the one," Buffy said soberly.

"What did you..." Willow started to ask.

"I...he won't anymore. With the poison," Buffy replied, avoiding their eyes.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," Willow said, her face full of concern.

"So, what now?" Anya asked, just as Tara came down the stairs.

"She's asleep?" Buffy asked Tara.

"Yes. But...it wasn't easy. She r..really wanted to wait up for you. But we d..didn't know how long it might take," she replied, nervously wringing her hands.

"I suppose I'll have to tell her tomorrow," Buffy said, her eyes bright. No, don't cry, not now. Plan now, Buffy thought.

"Anya and Xander, I need you to find out everything you can about this 'Blood Fever' poison. What it does, if there is an antidote--everything. Call Giles if you have to. Will, can you find Faith? I really don't want to talk to her right now, but we need to know if Spike said anything about where he was going. And Tara? Could you stay with Dawn for a few days? You and Willow? I know it might be asking a lot..."

"No..we...yes, Buffy, of course we will," Tara replied, glancing at Willow, who nodded in agreement.

"What are you going to do, Buff?" Xander asked.

Buffy sighed. "I'm going after Spike. I guess I'll start at every gas station off the interstate. Maybe someone will remember him, especially if he's acting all..." Buffy trailed off.

"Crazy?" Anya supplied helpfully.

"Yeah."

*****

Not bad, Spike thought, as he admired his new wheels. He was now the proud owner of a dark burgundy Cadillac convertible, complete with leather and CD player.

Spike drove through the city streets, idly wondering where the hell he was. It seemed familiar, but the blood had started pounding in his ears again, making it hard to concentrate, or even think. He vaguely had the feeling that something was missing--absent.

Oh yeah, Buffy, Spike thought groggily. He looked around as he drove, almost expecting her to pop out from behind the back seat. But she didn't. He sighed. He wanted her to be there. He was sure she'd like his new car.

"Ooh! There I am!"

What? Spike turned toward the voice, confused, seeing nothing. Just then, a scream split the air. His eyes immediately focused on a woman in an alley just as she was being slammed up against a brick wall by two brutish, fully fanged vampires. Her blonde hair was shorter now, but he recognized the choker she wore around her neck. Buffy's choker.

Rage. Spike liked the rage. It blasted like a furnace from his hot skin. It threatened to obliterate all thought except that of tearing and rending and destroying. He slammed the car into park, not even bothering to turn the ignition off. He leapt from the car and ran full steam into the nearest vampire. The large vamp shrugged off the attack, and tried to draw a long, nasty looking blade from a sheath strapped to his lower back. Spike put a quick end to that with a kidney punch, and then crushed the thug's knee with a brutal kick. The vampire collapsed, screaming in agony. But the other meaty vampire still had his fist clenched around her wrist, even as she fought desperately to free herself.

Why can't she break free? Spike wondered. These must be super vamps, he concluded. Strong, bad-ass fuckers looking for some Slayer payback.

Spike head-butted the thug still holding his girl, crunching the vampire's nose with his forhead. That did it--grip released. Spike had barely noticed the impact, nor did he feel the small trickle of blood that started to run down his brow. He was estatic--elated at finding his beautiful, choker-clad damsel.

"Come on!" Spike yelled, running for the car. He didn't look back to see if she was following. He trusted her more than that. Spike dove for the driver's side of the Cadillac, grateful it was still running, and quickly putting it into gear. A moment later, when he felt her weight on the passenger's side, he gunned the accelerator hard, pealing away. He had a brief, intense feeling of deja vu, like he had already done this--only before he had been running from...from...

Spike pushed the thought out of his mind, grinning wildly from the narrow escape. He was happy. So happy. He had saved his girl, and now she was here, sitting beside him again.

Spike turned his grin on his lover, wanting to see the light of the moon glisten off her resplendent hair. Wanting to see the love flowing from her luminous...

Eyes. Those weren't her eyes. Nor was there anything resembling love in them--only fear.

"Where are you taking me?"

*****

"Dawn, you have to eat something," Tara pleaded. Dawn lay curled up on her bed, not looking at her.

"Please, sweetie. I know you're worried about Spike..."

"It's happening again," Dawn whispered.

"What is, sweetie?" Tara said, running her fingers through Dawn's long hair.

"People are getting hurt because of me," Dawn said, her voice hollow and empty.

"No! No, Dawn. Y..You didn't... It's not your..."

"It is. I did it. I gave him the blood. Buffy even said so."

"You didn't know, Dawnie. Buffy was just upset. It's not your fault."

"It was my fault he left."

"No..."

"She got angry at him because of me. I was smoking with him and she got angry."

"Dawn, that isn't...I think there's more to it than..."

"It's always me. Buffy had to die because of me. Glory hurt you because of me. And Spike..." Dawn's whole body convulsed in sobs while Tara rubbed her back, fighting back her own tears.

"Sshhhh, sweetie, it's okay. We'll find him, I promise, we'll find him."

*****

"Anything yet?" Buffy spoke loudly into the pay phone, trying to hear over the sound of a semi-truck pulling into a nearby gas-pump.

"Yeah, Buffy," Xander yelled into the phone. Several of the Magic Box customers glanced at him annoyed, as did Anya. "The Blood Fever has an antidote!" Xander shouted into the phone. He thought he could almost hear a sigh of relief. "Anya has the ingredients already. You'll have to come by the Magic Box and pick them up. Any luck on your end?"

"NO!" Buffy shouted, then thankfully the semi-truck switched off its engine and she could talk normally again. "No, nothing so far. But there's still a couple more gas stations to check." Xander waited as Buffy paused.

"Are you sure it will work?" He heard her ask.

"Yeah. Anya's sure, at any rate. But Buffy, there's something else... I don't quite know how to say this..."

"Just say it, Xander," Buffy said impatiently.

"The poison works off of blood. The more blood the...victim drinks the worse it gets. After awhile it starts to--well, this part is kinda gross--slowly turns their bodies into dust from the inside out."

Buffy had to admit it wasn't the best news she'd heard that day. "How long?" she asked, fearing the answer.

"That's just it, Buffy. Anya...Anya thinks it's been too long already. Even if he didn't drink any more blood..."

Buffy began to tremble.

"Buffy? Buffy?" she heard Xander over the receiver.

"Yeah, I'm still here."

"Anya could be wrong, Buff. Don't give up. We'll find him. Tara is looking into maybe doing a location spell of some kind."

But the light, hopeful tone in Xander's voice was enough for Buffy to know that plan was a desperate long shot. Like carving the cancer from her mother's brain. Time had been a factor then too. And now Buffy felt time once again slipping from her grasp. She needed to move faster. She needed speed to find him. Speed to give him the cure in time.

Just in time, she thought. Like in the movies.

Thank God I found you, Spike! Hurry, drink this! You're cured! Now come back with me. I promise not to chase you away this time...

Buffy hung the phone up and headed to her car. Two more gas stations to go. Ask a few questions. Get the strange, baffled looks. Then head back to the Magic Box for the just-in-the-nick-of-time-come-back-to-me-Spike antidote.

*****

"Tara, I don't think we should," Willow began, hesitantly. It was odd, Willow thought. She was never the one to shy away from powerful magics, and doing what she thought was necessary. Of course, the necessary went a little beyond necessity with her, causing the loss of the beautiful woman pouring black sand in a circle in her upstairs bedroom. And as much as she desired Tara, this spell...

"I know, Will. This...I don't want you a part of this, but there is no one else. You understand what will happen; probably better than I do," Tara said, lighting several small pungent candles around the room.

"That's not... Tara, this spell is dangerous. It's not just a simple locator spell. It's summoning." For the old, fully magicked Willow, the spell would have been child's play. Well, not child's play, but Willow was fairly certain that she could bring forth the patron saint of the dead without too much trouble. But Tara... She hadn't channeled anything this potent before. Or evil.

Tara put down a candle and turned toward her ex-lover. "A simple locator spell won't work on Spike. He's dead, without a soul. There's nothing for a locator spell to grab onto."

"Yes, but..."

"And I don't know how much more Dawn can take." Tara continued. "She's lost so much. Now losing Spike, and being the cause of...of..." Willow could see the pain in Tara's face. She knew it well. She had been responsible for that look on many occasions.

"Okay," Willow said, wanting so badly for the sadness to leave Tara's eyes. Goddess, I would do anything for her, Willow thought. Even this.

"Thanks, Will," Tara said gratefully, her smile starting an avalanche of emotions in Willow.

"Just remember..." Willow started.

"I won't forget this," Tara interrupted, then her eyes widened slightly as Willow flinched. "I didn't mean..."

"Don't break the circle until the summoning is over," Willow finished, avoiding Tara's eyes.

Tara sighed, but said nothing. She continued in her spell preparations, trying to clear her mind. She needed to be focused. She needed to be amazing.



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: The Wonderful Colleen™ and the Amazing Mezzibelle™ (Action figures sold separately. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Five

"Yeah, yesterday. Blonde, Billy Idol reject. Gave him directions but he didn't listen. Got back on the interstate going in the opposite direction," the gas station attendant told Buffy, pointing to the freeway access ramp just down the road.

"Guy looked high or something," he added. "Heard him talking to himself."

"Thanks," Buffy said, quickly leaving. Now she had a direction. Now she knew he was still alive yesterday. That thought made her laugh. No, still dead. Just walking dead instead of dead dead. It suddenly occurred to her that she hadn't had a lot of sleep. Virtually none since Spike left, and really none since they found out...

Buffy yawned. She had to keep going, she told herself. But sleep threatened to take her as she drove down the road. The small hope that she was on the right track suddenly unwound her tense nerves. She felt like she had been clenching every muscle for days, forcing movement, forcing herself beyond even her Slayer stamina. And the emotional tidal wave of having good news--it was too much.

Buffy pulled over to the side of the road as the tears blurred her vision. Her whole body shook with tired sobs. Finally, she laid down across the front seat and fell into a deep sleep.

*****

"Look, I don't bloody work for Vick!" Spike yelled at his frightened passenger. For the past ten minutes she had accused him of being just another of Vick's henchmen.

"This is his car," she replied fearfully. "I've been in it before."

Suddenly, she opened her door and tried to jump out as they speeded down the road. Spike grabbed her by the wrist, yanking her back in.

"Bloody hell! Look, close the damn door! Do I look like one of those wankers?"

"Vick likes games," she hissed, trying to free her hand. Spike sighed and slowed the car to a stop, then released her.

"You want out? Fine. Go. But just so you know, I don't work for Vick. I just knicked his car. I ain't gonna hurt you. I saved you from those blighters, didn't I?"

She looked at him and slowly nodded, but she inched toward the door just the same.

"You're a vampire," she said, almost as an accusation. Spike laughed.

"Yeah, pet. I'm the Big Bad. But that Vick guy you're so afraid of? He's littering a hospital parking lot with his dust right now. So, no need to get excited about him anymore."

But Spike's words did nothing to calm her. If anything, she grew more agitated.

"Hospital? Which one? Oh God..."

*****

"T'Keti Umauka! I beseech thee! Through the River of Tears I summon thee! Answer my plea!"

Willow sat back, her eyes wide with fright as Tara continued her incantation.

"Keeper of the Undead! Giver of Unlife! Come, T'Keti! Answer me!" Her voice grew insistent. Willow watched aghast as Tara's eyes filled with murky blackness.

"B'Gaero! M'Yiel! Wukutu! All bow before you! Rise in me, T'Keti! Answer my call!" Tara's body began to tremble, and her lips quivered. Suddenly she fell to her knees, gasping and clutching her sides.

"Tara!" Willow shouted, her desire to race to her nearly overcoming her fear of what interrupting the spell could do.

Abruptly, Tara stopped moving. She looked up and around the room, her eyes still black, but with a look of calm on her face that Willow found even more frightening.

"Why have you summoned me?" A low, guttural voice emerged from Tara's lips.

"T..T'Keti?" Willow addressed Tara. This is why she was here. Tara needed her to ask the questions. Willow forced the words out, even though her fear for Tara threatened to overwhelm her. "Where...where is Spike? The, uh, vampire Spike. The one called William the Bloody?"

"Mortals don't summon me and live," Tara responded angrily. She walked forward and met the invisible wall at the edge of the black sand, rebounding slightly.

"Pretty spell, witch," Tara said with a sneer. Willow felt panic well up in her chest.

"T'Keti, where is William the Bloody?"

"This vessel lives. It is unworthy of T'Keti." Suddenly Tara's hand shot around her own throat, constricting her. Tara whimpered.

"Willow!" she gasped, her voice normal again.

Willow lunged forward, stopping mere inches from the circle. She wanted desperately to wrench Tara's hand from her throat, but she knew T'Keti wanted the barrier broken. A single toe across the line would be enough to free the Keeper of the Undead. She could only watch in horror as Tara's grip tightened.

*****

"What's your name?" Spike asked, trying to distract the young woman enough to keep the flood of tears in her eyes from bursting free. He hated seeing a woman cry. It reminded him too much of his mother crying over his pale sister. Consumption, death, tears. It had been a familiar story when he was human. Even after Drusilla turned him, the memory of his mother crying was enough to stop him in his tracks. Death shouldn't mean anything to the undead, he had told himself years later, after he had gotten word of his mother following his sister's fate. But then, neither should love.

"J..Julie," she managed to get out between sniffles.

"Jules?"

"God no. I hate that. Just Julie. That bastard used to call me Jules," she said, her face going from distraught to anger in a flash.

"Spike," he said, almost offering his hand before catching himself.

They were on their way back to the hospital. He didn't know what else to do. The poor girl had been in a near panic, desperately pleading for him to take her there so she could see. Spike had been reluctant. He didn't expect her to find anything more than grief.

"We were trying to get away. We had to leave everything behind, Michelle and me. We knew he just wouldn't let one of 'his girls' go."

"His girls? You're a..." Spike paused, not wanting to insult the young woman. "Lady of the Evening?" Spike finished, suddenly glad for his Victorian upbringing. Julie looked at him sideways, then laughed slightly.

"I suppose you could call it that. But I only work a certain clientele," she said.

"Rich blokes, eh? Thought as much," he said, judging her attire to be one step up from street-walker. Still, it was sexy, short and revealing in just the right places.

She continued to give him a strange look, but a sharp pain had started behind Spike's eyes, distracting him as they approached the hospital. He pulled into the parking lot and found an empty space near the front doors. After he turned off the ignition, he pressed his hands to either side of his head. It helped, a little.

"Are you okay?" Julie asked, concerned. Spike noticed that she didn't move any closer to him, or reach out to touch him. He was a vampire, afterall.

"Yeah, pet. I'm fine. Just go find your friend, okay? I'll wait here for you," Spike gasped out. His head felt like it was splitting in two, with only the pressure of his hot palms keeping his skull from flying apart.

"You've done enough. I...I'll just get a taxi or something..." she started to say.

"No, pet, com'on now," Spike said, forcing himself to drop his hands and look at her. "Those meaty blokes are after you. I just killed your...uh, boss. If I left you here, I wouldn't be much of a..." he trailed off. Much of a what? Spike thought. A bloody hero? A goddamn wannabe Great Poof like Angel?

"Alright. I'll be back," Julie said, suddenly aware that her missing purse, and all her potential taxi money, was probably being exchanged for vodka and beer by Vick's thugs right about now.

It's not the first time I've dealt with a vampire, Julie thought. But then, this vampire had saved her life. And killed Vick, which had been her most recent, number one fantasy of all time just handed to her on a silver platter. Right when Michelle and her needed it most. And he had brought her to the hospital. No, he definitely wasn't like her usual clients. Far from it.

Spike watched as she entered the hospital, the pain beginning to lift. It felt like a heavy anvil was being slowly removed from his skull.

"Bugger, that's better," Spike muttered, massaging his temples.

"Sooo...who's the tramp?"

Spike groaned. Fuck.

"Her ass is huge. Don't you think her ass is huge?"

Spike turned around to encounter the wide, Cheshire grin of his phantom lover reclining in the back seat, her hands sliding merrily along her bare, golden legs.

"Miss me?"

*****

"Dad?"

"Hi, Buffy. How's my little girl?" Buffy stared at her father, Hank Summers, incredulous. He shouldn't be here. I don't have time. I have to find Spike.

"Dad, what are you doing here?"

"Just checking up on my girl. So, have you killed him yet?"

"Killed who?"

"Spike, of course. It's what I'm paying you for," he said, holding out an envelope. Buffy took it. The envelope felt moist in her hand, and she noticed blood leaking from the corners.

"Don't let him eat that all at once. Don't want it to be too quick," he cautioned.

"I can't kill him," Buffy whispered.

"He's a demon, Buffy. You're a Slayer. What else are you going to do?"

"He's not like other demons. He...he has a chip," Buffy protested.

Hank smiled. "Yes, I know. Drusilla told me."

"Drusilla? Dad, no! You have to stay away from her. She's dangerous."

"Like Spike, yes I know. Oh, here's a picture of him," Hank said, unrolling a long piece of paper. Spike was depicted in pencil, reclining on a couch like a Roman god, smiling lewdly.

"It's Dru's," Hank said. "She's very talented." Buffy took the picture in her hands, leaving bloody fingerprints on the clean white paper. Buffy's eyes were drawn to the lewd grin, the one she had seen flicker across Spike's face so many times.

"You'll do fine, sweetie," Hank said, patting her shoulder. Abruptly, he turned to go.

"Where..." she asked, puzzled.

"I'm leaving, Buffy. I can't stick around, I'm sorry."

"Why?" Buffy asked, tears pooling in her eyes.

"So you can do your job, pumpkin," he said, as if the answer were obvious.

"I won't kill him!" Buffy said angrily.

"Like you wouldn't kill Angel?" She looked at him speechless.

"Look, I know you. You're my little girl. I know I haven't been around much, but you could never kill them otherwise."

"That's not...that's not true," Buffy said, tears sliding down her face.

"Just do what comes natural, okay? Just be you."

"I love him," Buffy said in a small voice.

"Well, that certainly wouldn't be my method, but it'll do."

Buffy watched as her father walked away, fading into the hot desert sun. She felt the air around her thicken. The heat was smothering. She looked at the portrait of Spike and was sure she saw him wink at her.

Buffy woke with a start, her clothes hot and sticky against her skin. The sun was up and her car was being baked under the bright rays. She opened the driver's door and let the worst of the hot air out. She shuddered once, the dream still vivid in her mind, then started the engine and headed down the road again.

*****

"Buffy...Buffy, love, I can't do this now!" Spike protested, as his agile lover climbed on top of him, her lips firmly locked on his neck.

"Because of her? Your little tramp wouldn't like it?" She kissed his jaw, his chin, his lips.

"She's in a tight spot. Some blokes..."

"I have a tight spot for you," Buffy whispered, nibbling his ear. Spike pushed her away and got out of the car, fighting off a wave of dizziness from the sudden movement.

"I can't, love," Spike said, pained.

"Why not?" Buffy pouted, her hands slipping lower as her dress rode higher.

"No!" Spike spun around so he couldn't see what she was doing with her nimble fingers. He heard her moan behind him, and he took off at a run.

She's not real, he thought, pounding his fists hard against his head, trying to drive the image out.

Pull yourself together. What's-her-name needs you. Julie. Yeah, Julie. Big Bad to the rescue and all that...

Spike stopped abruptly. He was in an alley next to the hospital, no Buffy in sight. A heavy pit in his stomach told him to keep running, but he deliberately ignored it and took stock of his surroundings.

Thick shadows filled the alley at sharp angles, cut from the pale light of the half-full moon above.

Too many places to hide, he thought, feeling his skin begin to crawl. Shit... Someone was here, watching him. He could feel it.

Then Spike caught a whiff of something wafting through the alley; a whispering hint of blood, cream and...shoe polish?

He was more than ready to run now, to bolt like a champion thoroughbred. But when Spike heard the soft, rhapsodic purr of his name, inches from his ear, he found himself rooted to the spot, his limbs bled of all volition.

"William. My sweet, sweet William."



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: The Wonderful Colleen™ and the Amazing Mezzibelle™ (Action figures sold separately. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Six

Okay, maybe that wasn't such a good idea, Willow thought, clawing at the hand around her throat, gasping for air. A grinning Tara lifted the red head off the floor. Her face was a mask of pulsing, blue veins, and her jet black eyes now had orange sparks floating in them.

Moments before, Willow had deliberately broken the circle of protection by knocking over one of the candles. She had been beyond desperate. Tara's face had started to turn blue from choking, and every pleading cry that managed to escape her lips, tore holes in Willow's soul. It was Glory all over again, fingers slipping into Tara's brain as Willow frantically tried to reach her through the din of the crowd. The barrier had to be removed. She had to reach Tara--only now T'Keti could reach her too, and did.

Magic. It was the only solution. Even if Buffy were to crash through the door just in the nick of time, T'Keti had control of the only person who could force him out of this plane.

It's no use, Willow thought, tears falling from her eyes. Tears that T'Keti mistook for victory. Willow knew she had made this decision long before Tara had even suggested the spell. It was ultimately the reason she was here--to do what was necessary.

Osiris, hear my plea! Willow projected from her mind. She felt the telltale tingling of magic prickling through her body.

Osiris, awaken! Take this sacrifice of blood... As soon as the words left her mind, a pint of blood boiled away from inside her. She felt the vapor rising out of her nose, eyes and ears.

Osiris, hear me! One of Willow's molars cracked and crumbled to dust.

Your enemy seeks release in this realm. A fingernail on her left hand disintegrated.

"Osiris!" Willow croaked out loud, and a lock of her hair vanished.

T'Keti frowned in anger at the name of his nemesis. His sole purpose in existence was to chip away at the barrier Osiris so diligently defended. His undead walked the earth as a testament to that fact. His beautiful dream of undeath eclipsing all life forever was now only one dead witch away. He renewed his efforts on snapping the red-head's neck, but found a baleful presence manifesting beneath his grasp. Magic began to drip from the girl's body in hot, fiery gobs, burning him. T'Keti tried to squeeze tighter, but he felt his grip slipping.

Abruptly, Willow's head snapped forward, black eyes focusing on the blonde wiccan before her. A flick of her wrist and Tara flew across the room. She slammed into the far wall and was held pinned there by an invisible force.

"You won't get her back," Tara sneered at her.

"Your time is up, T'Keti. Osiris commands you to leave," Willow said forcefully, hoping the power coursing through her would be enough. Already she could feel Osiris growing bored with the exchange. Willow could have easily reduced Tara to ash by now, preventing T'Keti's release.

A fitting end for the temerity in summoning the god of the undead, Willow thought. No...not me--Osiris. He thought, then I thought... Oh boy. This was not of the good. She would have to act fast.

Willow uttered a short incantation, took a deep breath, then plunged into Tara's mind.

*****

"I found you. I found you." Spike reluctantly embraced Drusilla as she sobbed against him.

"Hush, pet. It's alright now. You found me." She raised her head and looked into his eyes, and Spike knew things were far from all right. His mind started working furiously, more out of self preservation than anything. When he last encountered Dru, he had threatened to stake her as a testament of his love for the Slayer. Not really something Dru's going to forget, Spike thought wryly.

"Not the time to make funny thoughts my bad, bad Spike," Dru said, lightly running her fingernails along his neck. He shivered at her touch. She'd spent a lifetime learning what pleased and hurt him, taking equal pleasure in both.

"You a mind reader now?" Spike asked. One of her nails made a shallow cut and small droplets of blood welled up like dew.

"Can't you hear it?" Dru said, cocking her head, looking up into the sky.

"Hear what, pet?"

"The moon whispers. It's like a child hiding in a coal bin, frightened of the dark. It wants to come out and play, Spike. It's lonely. The moon told me where to find you. I needed to find you." Dru started to cry again, and Spike felt a pang of remorse. He knew he had to get back to the car, back to Julie and... But the state Dru was in, if he tried to leave, he'd most likely end up dust--or worse. Dru definitely excelled at worse. And he doubted he could fight her with any great success. She smelled fresh and ripe with blood, as if she had drunk her fill of small cherubs.

Spike on the other hand, felt weak, almost malnourished--like after the first week of being chipped, before he found other sources of blood besides the walking and talking and screaming variety.

"Dru..." Her head snapped back, a feral growl replacing the soft mewling sounds she'd been making.

"You still love her." It wasn't a question. Spike closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain, but was flabbergasted when he felt her hand softly caress his cheek. "After everything she's done to you?" His eyes snapped open in surprise.

"How..?" Spike blurted out.

She leaned in and kissed him fiercely, pulling him against her. Her tongue flicked, cold and inviting, across his lips. He found himself responding to her as he had so many times before. His black beauty, his dark queen. She pulled back from their embrace, her eyes studying him carefully.

"You taste like her," Drusilla said, but her voice was unnaturally calm, almost serene. She pressed her hand flat against his chest, right over his stilled heart.

"You burn for her, William," she spoke softly. Spike looked at her confused. "She burns within you. Like before, only more so."

Spike knew the before she was talking about, and it wasn't Buffy. He had fled into the night then too. The humiliation of Cecily's rejection hot on his cheeks. Tears streaming down his face as he tore his poetry to shreds- the words that gave voice to his deepest desire; to love and be loved by someone extraordinary.

Then Drusilla. She had found him crying like a worthless sod, but she'd seen through him. Saw how much he loved to love. And she was so lonely. She gave him power when he was weak. She dripped blood and desire into him like ambrosia, and he worshipped her for it. They tore through Europe like the plague, laughing and dancing, reveling in their shared nature. Creatures of the night. Free of humanity. Free of the hurt. And the tattered remnants of love that even his demon couldn't drive out of him, he gave to Drusilla, willingly. And now she was back again.

"Come with me, William," she said, her voice desperate and pleading. "We can be together. There's so little left of our family. Mommy's gone. Daddy's gone. It's just us now, my sweet. Come with me. Together, we'll make the whole world taste like ashes."

Spike wiped a stray tear from Drusilla's cheek. A part of him wanted to return to those halcyon days of blood, fist and fang--when his only thought was of Dru, and how he could please her. But that was before the clever head-chips and white-hot retribution. Before Buffy. And Dawn. He knew there was no going back. Dru no longer captivated him as she once did. She was a fleeting memory of desire now, like Cecily. He remembered the longing, but it no longer inspired him.

When Spike opened his mouth to speak, Drusilla lashed out, punching him hard in the face, knocking him to the ground, cold fury in her eyes. He realized that she knew his answer even before he had.

"You'll always be beneath her, William," she hissed at him. "Even with that tin soul in your head."

"I know," Spike replied, not looking at her.

"No, you don't! She's covered in you now too. She's coming to take you away. I hate her, Spike. I hate her!" Spike glanced up at her, afraid again. Dru was pacing, agitated. Her voice had gone several octaves higher, and her hands fluttered like birds caught in snares. He'd seen her work herself up into a frenzy before, but this was different. She smelled of panic.

"What do you mean, Dru?"

"You aren't meant for her. Daddy wouldn't like this."

"Have you lost it completely? What the fuck do I care what Angel wants?" Drusilla stopped pacing, staring at him.

"This is all wrong, Spike. Can't you feel it? Daddy shouldn't have let me play with you. It's all wrong now."

"Christ, Dru! I'm not one of your fucking dolls!" He tried to get up, but Drusilla kicked him to the asphalt again.

"Your precious turned Angelus against us. And now she's turning you. Why our family, Spike? Did you ask her? Daddy turned Mommy. Made her swollen and spiteful. I'm next, aren't I? What's she going to do to me, Spike? What's she going to do to your princess?"

"Dru. Pet. She won't do anything to you, I promise," Spike said, mustering all the sincerity he could.

"You lie, Spike. Bad dog." Suddenly, a wicked smile played across her lips, and she clapped her hands girlishly. "I'll give her a present, like Angelus. A present so she can't love me."

Spike looked up at her, dumbfounded. Then he started to laugh. Hard. He laughed until he felt the stitches in his side start to pull loose.

"God, Dru! You're fucking crazy!" he said, still chuckling. It was then that he saw the poniard in her hand, gleaming in the moonlight. And an echo of an old memory surfaced of staking a minion for laughing at Dru during one of her 'episodes.'

"Never. Fucking. Laugh. At. Her," he had said. Then dust.

Shit, Spike thought. Why didn't I remember that before?

*****

"Tara?" Willow tried to get her bearings, but the darkness permeated everything. She could feel the heat of T'Keti's rage pounding against the barrier she had imposed, locking him out of the deepest recesses of Tara's mind. But the umbilical of power flowing through Willow, her pipeline to Osiris, had started to fade. She could feel it, slowly bleeding out. And when it was gone, T'Keti would have no problem reaching Tara again. And her.

Willow pushed that thought away. Think positive. Find Tara.

She was in an old house, Willow knew that much. The air was hot and thick with humidity. The old wood floors creaked and groaned as she moved from room to room, searching. The bright pale light from the windows seemed to only add to the thick darkness. Finding no one on the lower level, she decided to search upstairs. She touched the banister of the staircase and found it covered in a dark, sticky oil. Touching the wall, she felt it there too, and she realized the whole house was coated with the oily substance.

Just then, Willow heard something, a faint scratching sound. She ran upstairs, but the sound stopped. A search of the bedrooms found only immaculately made beds and more stagnant air.

The scratching started again. She could hear it coming from behind the door at the end of the dark hallway. The bathroom. She hadn't checked the bathroom.

"Tara?" She pushed against the door and the hinges groaned in protest. The sight she saw made her convulse in horror. Tara was in the corner of the bathroom, sitting naked. Bright red blood flowed between her thighs onto the pale, white bathroom tile. A doll was in her hand, its face pressed to the floor. The scratching noise came from Tara running the doll's hardened eyes over the tile. Tara's head drooped against the bathroom wall, not looking at her, not seeing her.

"Tara. Oh Goddess...no...stop. Tara..." Willow went to her, placing a hand on the doll, halting the half-circle motion of Tara's arm.

"It's her fault, you know," said a voice from the doorway, startling Willow. Tara didn't move. Willow recognized the figure as Tara's brother.

"Daddy said it was her fault. She bewitched me is all."

"Bewitched?" Willow echoed, confused.

"She has her ways. Even under them heavy clothes, you can smell her witchery."

Willow looked at him in shock and anger. "Get out of here!" she shouted.

He shrugged and grinned at her. "You're like her, ain'tcha? Won't bewitch many with that red hair of yours." With that he laughed and disappeared into the hall. Willow turned her attention back to Tara.

"Tara, baby, please! We don't have much time. We have to get out of here," Willow pleaded. She felt the power slipping from her. Osiris had had enough, she knew. And suddenly, the tether was gone--Osiris had abandoned her.

Just then, the whole house began to shake. The bathroom mirror swung open, and bottles and ointment came crashing down into the sink and onto the floor. A deafening rumble filled the house.

"Tara please!" Willow cried, and the shaking stopped. An eerie silence prevaded, only to be broken by the slam of a screen door from downstairs. Tara bolted upright, her eyes wide with panic.

"TARA!" came a booming voice up the stairs. "Where are you, girl!"

"He's back," Tara whispered.

"Who?" Willow asked.

"Father."



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: Colleen, Mezzibelle, Alanna, Perletwo: The Fantabulous Four™
Special Thanks: Alanna, who forced me to write this gooder. Uh...more best...uh...ah hell... And Mezz for the quick final beta.
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Seven

"Dru, you don't want to do this, pet," Spike said, trying to buy time. He knew Drusilla had no compunction about hurting him. Especially after tasting the Slayer on his lips. He glanced about as casually as he could and spotted a wooden pallet leaning against the alley wall, a good twenty paces away.

"Dru, what does Miss Edith think? Did you even ask her?" Spike was desperate, he knew it. But then, that blade of hers looked plenty sharp, and necessity being the bitch-all of invention, he needed something to distract her.

"Miss Edith?" Spike almost smiled when he saw her bewildered face. Knowing the chinks in an adversary's armor was Spike's specialty. And he had spent over a hundred years learning Dru's.

"Yes, pet. Miss bloody Edith. How would you like it if she went around cutting up your favorite things without consulting you first?"

Twenty sodding paces. Just roll, scramble...she'll be on top of you- kick--then run. She'll go low with the blade. That's her style...

"She has been bad lately," Drusilla whispered, conspiratorially. Spike opened his mouth to add to the wickedness of Miss Edith, only to find Dru instantly at his side, knife to his throat, mouth to his ear.

"You've been bad, too, my Spike," she purred.

Shit, Spike thought. She's never as out of it as she seems...

In a last desperate gamble, he kissed her passionately. When the blade disappeared from his throat, he was sure it worked. However, Spike couldn't see her hand reverse the poniard, holding it by the tip. Nor could he see, even as she deepened their kiss, the fluid motion of her arm as she flung the knife up overhead. But he did hear the high-pitched, metallic scream as the blade sheared through the electrical wire above and whipped free. He ripped away from her smiling lips to see a halo of sparks descend around her, and watched as small blue and violet balls of light framed her face. For an instant, Spike imagined he saw what Angelus must have seen, before he had turned her—a radiant angel.

Drusilla stepped back over the writhing cable, her smile transforming into a devilish grin. She kicked the head of the sparking cable into the air toward him. For a moment Spike thought he could twist out of its path, but the snake-like wire reared up as if tracking his movement, then struck, kissing the calf of his left leg with its blunt head. Spike convulsed in soundless agony as the current arched through him. It felt like a thousand chips placed throughout his body, firing all at once.

He couldn't be certain, but he thought he heard Drusilla clapping her hands in glee as the world fell dark.

*****

"TARA!"

"Tara," Willow pleaded, half-dragging the naked wiccan up by the arm. "We have to get out of here."

Willow managed to pull her into the hall just as Tara's father reached the top of the stairs. He was grinning, his teeth flashing in the dark. His black, beady eyes flickered with dancing orange sparks.

Tara's eyes were transfixed, staring helplessly at the image of her father, her chest heaving in short, panicked gasps. Her fingers clutched at the air around her as if seeking support yet finding none.

"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. "Have you been practicing the Devil's art again?" His grin spread to a leer as his gaze traveled over her flesh. Tara tried to hide herself behind Willow.

"It's not your father! It's T'Keti," Willow said, trying to snap the look of horror from Tara's eyes, as she desperately searched her memory for spells capable of being used inside someone's mind. Not many.

As T'Keti advanced, Willow cast a protection spell. It was far weaker than the barrier she and Osiris had erected before, and T'Keti's barking laugh confirmed that. His fingers reached up to the shimmering blue, translucent wall and slowly began pushing through it.

"Tara! I need you! Please, baby..." Willow cried. But Tara could only stare in fascinated horror.

"Have you been witching your brother? Is that blood between your legs?" T'Keti sneered.

"Don't listen to him," Willow grunted, attempting to erect another barrier spell. It was draining her, and the undead god knew it. The first barrier ripped, and he slammed into a second hastily raised barricade with such force it almost collapsed instantly. Willow sought desperately to fortify it, using resources within her she hadn't tapped since bringing Buffy back from the dead. The barrier held, but she could feel it waver and begin to buckle. She forced even more energy into it.

"Did you forget your family? Did you forget where you come from?" T'Keti chided Tara.

Family... The word penetrated the veil of fear surrounding Tara. Her father...this wasn't her father. This wasn't where she lived anymore. This wasn't her.

"I'm her family."

Stunned, Willow looked on in disbelief as Buffy suddenly appeared standing in front of her, arms folded, staring down T'Keti.

"And me," Dawn added, appearing beside Buffy.

"And us," Xander said, slinging an axe over his shoulder. Anya patted him on his back with a smile.

"Very fierce looking, honey," Anya congratulated him.

"Yes, quite," Giles said drolly, raising a rapier and saluting Tara's father.

"Bugger it, me too," said a fully vamped Spike. Willow had never seen him look more ferocious as he stood at Buffy's side, licking his fangs, clenching his fists, ready to spring forward.

T'Keti stood astonished, his progress halted by the strange sight before him.

"And me." Tara turned toward the soft voice beside her to see a familiar face shrouded in a nimbus of light, smiling at her.

"Mother?" Tara said, her eyes filling with tears.

Instinctively, Tara entwined her fingers with her mother's luminous hand. A calm, powerful current swelled within her like an ocean wave.

Willow felt Tara grasp her left hand, and a tingling wave coursed up through her arm, rejuvenating her—filling her to the brim with power. She didn't question it. Willow had fought alongside Buffy enough to know better. She who hesitates...

"Ignite!" Willow shouted, and her free right hand burst into flame. She slapped her palm flat against the wall, and the oily substance there combusted.

Fire raced across the walls, the ceiling, the floor. The darkened hallway erupted into giant, bright fireball. The flames were warm, but didn't consume Tara or Willow. Nor did they seem to affect their small army of friends.

T'Keti, however, howled in agony as the fire crackled along his skin. Tara watched as the face of her father dried and split like wood from the heat. He made one last effort against the barrier and shouted in triumph as it shattered under his fists.

"You're not welcome here, T'Keti," Willow said firmly, unconcerned. The room grew bright, impossibly bright. The fire now burned bluish-white.

"None of this is welcome," Tara said, her eyes flashing with power. Suddenly, the walls blew outward, the floor disintegrated, the ceiling tore away. They stood on nothing but blue-white fire as T'Keti fought to reach them, clawing against an invisible hurricane forcing him backwards.

"No more," Tara heard her mother say. T'Keti howled in defeat as a powerful wave blasted him away from his prize and out of Tara's mind.

Willow and Tara both jolted awake at the same time, back in their room, an abrupt quiet engulfing them. They stared at each other for a moment, stunned. Then Willow lurched forward, grabbing Tara in a fierce hug.

"Oh, baby," Willow cried. They collapsed in tears on the floor, rocking in their embrace.

When Willow finally pulled back, she found Tara smiling broadly, tears still streaming down her face.

"Tara, honey, why are you smiling?" Willow asked, bewildered.

Tara cupped Willow's face in her hands and leaned her forehead against hers.

"I saw my mom again."

*****

Julie exited the elevator, wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue. She had found Michelle upstairs, thankfully still alive. The woman in the bed next to her, though, had paid the price. Michelle told of how Vick had drained the woman dry, promising to do the same to her if she ever tried to leave him.

"I don't know what happened," Michelle had told the police.

"You saw nothing? Nothing at all? Only a few feet away?" She knew they didn't believe her, but they wouldn't believe her if she told them everything anyway.

"Painkillers. They gave me painkillers. I was asleep. This is a hospital, you know."

That was enough for them to leave her alone. A patient recovering from surgery, and on drugs, made for a poor witness.

Julie shuddered, recalling the terrified look on Michelle's face when she entered the room. Every time the door opened, Michelle had flinched, expecting Vick to return and make good on his promise.

That bastard! Julie thought furiously. Fucking goddamn bastard!

She insisted that the hospital staff move Michelle to another room and post a guard. They were reluctant until Julie let the words "lawsuit" and "emotional trauma" slip repeatedly. Once a new room was procured, Julie did her best to calm her friend.

"He's dead," Julie told her.

"He'll come back!"

"No. He's gone for good. I...someone took care of it for us. Understand?"

"I was so scared..."

"I know, honey. But he's gone. He can't get to either of us anymore."

Just then, the lights flickered out, panicking Michelle into a crying fit. Even as Julie stroked her hair, she kept her eyes fixed on the door, worried too, thinking some of Vick's thugs had found them. But she kept that to herself even as she worked to calm Michelle. After a few minutes Julie went in search of a doctor and managed to convince him to give Michelle something to help her sleep, which thankfully worked fast. Julie didn't know how long Spike would wait for her, and she still needed his help. Or at the very least, Vick's car.

It amazed her just how wrong her great escape plan had gone. Vick's thugs had found her fast, and would've most likely killed her if Spike hadn't intervened. And Vick had managed to find and threaten Michelle into hysterics. If they had been together, he probably would have made an example out of one of them.

"Most likely me," Julie muttered, tossing her tissue in a wastebasket on her way out of the hospital. Lost in thought, she almost ran headlong into tall figure in black, cooing at a baby in his arms.

"Shit, watch it!" she yelled at him, embarrassed. When he turned to face her, she blanched. Fuck me...

"Angel."

*****

"Was that Buffy? On the phone?" Tara asked Willow, sipping her hot tea at the kitchen counter.

"No, just Xander. I wish she would call. I didn't think of having her check in regular or anything." Willow said, worried.

Tara reached out and threaded her warm fingers into Willows hand. "She'll call. Then you can tell her."

"I just...how do I tell her? I mean, I'm not supposed to...you know...with the magic? And now I've got information from what I'm not supposed to be doing..."

"Willow, it's Buffy. She'll understand. Really."

"Really?" Willow asked, hopeful.

"I do," Tara said firmly.

"You do?"

"Yes. Will, you s..saved me..."

"Well..."

"No. You did. I was in over my h..head and you..."

"But I had to! I couldn't lose you. No matter what I promised. I..I just couldn't," Willow said tearfully. "I can't imagine this world without you in it, Tara. I don't want to imagine it."

Tara smiled at that. "I think that's..um...mutual." Abruptly, her smile transformed into a small frown. "Uh, Will?"

"Yes," Willow said, her attention focused firmly on their intertwined fingers.

"Are you going to kiss me?"

"Oh! Uh...you want me to, uh, kiss you?"

"If it's not too much trouble," Tara said dryly.

Willow's face split with a grin. "Oh, no, it's not too...too, uh..."

"Will?"

"Yes?"

"Shut up."

"Okay, will do. Will do! Isn't that...mmrfph."

*****

"Jules?"

"Don't call me that! And stay away from me!" Julie said, edging backward. Angel turned and handed off the baby.

"Fred, can you..."

"Sure," Fred said, accepting the infant, cooing to Connor to distract him.

Julie used the moment to continue toward the exit only to have Angel run and dart in front of her.

"You...you're one of Vick's girls. I remember," Angel said.

"Fuck off! I don't want your help anymore," Julie yelled. Angel grabbed her upper arm.

"Let go of me or I'll scream," Julie hissed.

"Not gonna happen. You came to me once when things were..." Angel trailed off.

"When you were busy killing lawyers," Julie spat out. Angel's exploits had been the talk of L.A.'s more demonic element. It had been one of Vick's favorite topics of conversation. He had told her time and again that all vampires were the same, just looking for fresh blood.

Still, despite Vick's unpleasant portrait of the vampire, Julie had sought Angel out when she was at her lowest, wanting protection. She found only dead eyes, and a bitter smile.

A suck-job, eh? And why should I help you? What? The evil's not exciting enough anymore? Afraid you're starting to like it when they bite you? Like the feel of their fangs sinking in... You get off on it, don't you?

The encounter had left Julie with the urge to run back into the arms of the evil she knew. She understood Vick, sadistic bastard that he was. But Angel...

"I know," Angel said with regret, the pain filling his face. It tortured him to no end, the people he had refused to help. He had tried to find many of them afterwards, but most had already paid the price for his apathy.

"You don't know anything," Julie said bitterly, ignoring the apology in his voice.

"Who'd he hurt this time?" Angel asked, releasing but keeping her cornered so she couldn't run.

"I don't need you anymore," she said defiantly.

"He won't just let you go. They never do. Not vampires..." Angel warned.

"I already found someone to help us. And he's a hell of lot better than you!" Julie retorted angrily.

"Vick means business. You'll get someone hurt. Is that why you're here?" Angel questioned her, his tone hardening.

"Again, I'm going to say 'Fuck you' as it is no longer your goddamn business what this 'suck-job' does. Got it?" Julie forced her way around him and quickly exited the hospital's automatic doors.

Angel watched her go, feeling his soul slither down into his stomach. Two steps forward, one step back, he thought, sighing.

A gurgle from his baby son brought his mind back to the present. Fred offered Connor to him, smiling hopefully, as if the sound-smell-feel of his baby could magically cure all things brood-worthy.

She knew him well.



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: Colleen, Mezzibelle, Perletwo
Special Thanks: To Mezz, for the quick final beta. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Eight

"Are you sure?" Buffy asked.

"Yes. He's in L.A. Somewhere near Angel. That's all I got out of T'Keti. Out of his mind, I mean. While we were linked through Tara," Willow said into the phone, trying to ignore her lover's exploring hands. She stifled a giggle as Tara slid her hands under her shirt. She mouthed "quit it" and Tara began kissing her neck instead.

"Will!" Buffy's insistent voice came loudly over the phone's receiver.

"Um, yeah?" Willow asked.

"We will talk later, about the...magic stuff. But I..I just wanted to say thanks...for this. And thank Tara too."

"You're welcome, Buffy. Are you going to call Angel? I didn't know if we should or not. I don't think Spike and him get along that well," Willow explained.

"No. I'll go see him. It...I'll have to do it sometime," Buffy said, resigned. "I'll call again soon. Bye."

"Bye."

"Bad?" Tara asked, still kissing Willow's neck as she hung up the phone.

"Oh, no. Good. Very, very, very..." Willow purred.

"Good?" Tara finished with a smirk.

"Yes," Willow sighed, surrendering to Tara's persistent kisses for a moment before pulling back.

"Tara?"

"What?" she asked, puzzled at Willow's worried face.

"What do you think...I mean, I haven't seen Buffy this upset in a while. Not over..."

"Spike?"

"Yeah. I mean, why Spike? Okay, he's helped us, and she patrols a lot with him, but..." Willow trailed off, frowning.

"Maybe she has feelings for him?" Tara suggested gently.

"Feelings? Like boy-girl, or, uh...girl-girl if you're us—feelings?" Tara gave a small laugh at that. "But this is Buffy," Willow continued.

"So?" Tara asked, confused.

"Sooo...she's done the whole vampire-lover thing. And it really didn't work out well for her. Or my fish. What if he gets all mean like Angel did? What if his chip stops working?"

"Honey, I love you, but you're kinda dense sometimes," Tara said with a slight smile.

"Huh?"

Tara laughed. "He didn't have to help Buffy because of the chip. He loves her. And I think he loves Dawn too. I know she loves him, so it's not that big a surprise if Buffy might too. Not to me anyway."

"But the badness..." Willow protested.

"We've all done stuff, Will," Tara murmured, eyes downcast. "Probably not as bad as Spike, but then, he is a vampire. They're kinda prone to the violence, right?"

"But that's just it, Tara, he's still a vampire. And yeah, I know I don't have an excuse for what I did, almost getting Dawn killed, but I..."

"No! I didn't mean you, Will. Me. I've done..."

"That wasn't your fault."

"I could have stopped h..him. My brother d..didn't force me. He was just so messed up a..after mother died..." Tara trailed off, willing the hitch in her voice to leave. After a moment she continued.

"We do things, Will. Stupid things sometimes. I..I don't want people to look at me and say that THAT is me, 'cause it isn't. There's so much more. I don't want to live in that house forever. T'Keti used it a..against me. He knew. Spike shouldn't have to... We aren't the ones to make him pay, Will. It's not fair."

"But..." Willow interjected.

"No! We shouldn't force Spike to live in the p..past either. It's wrong. He's more than that now. At least to Dawn. And Buffy. And me too, I think."

"Because he was there? In your mind, against T'Keti? That was from you, wasn't it?" Willow asked.

Tara smiled. "Yes. I didn't think I thought of him like that—as a friend. But he is. He'd protect me. And you. He likes us."

Willow thought for a moment, then grinned. "But not Xander."

"Well..."

Willow laughed. "They do go out of their way..."

"...to annoy each other," Tara finished, sharing a smile with her lover.

"Tara?"

"Yes?"

"Was that really your mom? Or..."

"It was her," Tara said with a bright smile.

"Wow."

"Yeah. Wow."

*****

Spike woke to pain. Breathed pain. He sucked at the air—a reflex his dead body hadn't managed to purge. Slowly he became aware that he was lying on his back, and that the bright light dancing across his eyes was the half-full moon.

The moon. Dru said something about... Fuck! Dru!

He tried to spring to his feet, but immediately doubled over, collapsing into a tight ball.

"Damn you, Dru," Spike gasped through clenched teeth, the pain squeezing tears from his eyes.

He had to get out of there, he knew. It wouldn't take long before someone came looking...

Spike glanced at the sheared power cable lying next to him, dead.

Got me back for the cattle prod, eh Dru? Spike thought wryly, as the agony started to recede a little. However, it was back again as he uncoiled himself. He barely managed to get to his hands and knees without screaming.

Desperate to get out of there, Spike began to crawl. Every jagged movement shot hot needles through his limbs. Mumbling a mantra of curses and groans, he inched forward.

Six feet from where he started, he collapsed unconscious again.

*****

"Spikey. Yoohoo! Wakey, wakey! Aww, com'on, lover. You're no fun all limp like that..."

Spike blinked his eyes open to see the smiling face of Buffy staring down at him.

"Buffy?" he groaned.

Her smile broadened at the question.

"Who else? Are you going to lie there all day, or what? We have places to be, things to do," she said, tapping her foot impatiently.

"But the pain, love..." Spike said, spasming slightly as he raised his head from the asphalt.

Buffy sighed theatrically. "Do I have to do everything?" Leaning down she kissed him. Deep. Tonsils deep. Long and hot and wet and...

She ended their kiss with a grin.

"Feel better?"

Amazed, he found that he did—the pain was gone. Spike sprang to his feet with a growl.

"Hell yeah, cutie," he said, scooping her into his arms as she laughed.

"Easy tiger," she giggled.

"How'd you do that?"

"Hidden Slayer powers," she said sagely, even as his hands moved to her squeeze her ripe little...

"Hey, now. None of that. Fuck later," Buffy reprimanded him.

Spike paused, his head full of questions, but the swish and sway of Buffy's flower print dress distracted him. He wanted so much to slip his hands under, his tongue under, his cock under...

He followed like a puppy as she skipped ahead of him, laughing, as his hands sought to lift up her dress.

"See something you like?" Buffy purred, stopping suddenly. Spike grabbed her from behind as she ground her bottom against his now very tight jeans. His hand reached up and squeezed her breasts even as he captured her up-turned mouth with his lips. She matched his moans, swirling back against his hardness, grinning at his gasps of pleasure. Then she danced away again, laughing. Furious, he pursued her, but she kept out of reach until they reached his new car.

Spike grabbed her with a frustrated growl. She merely smiled.

"Fuck later," she said simply, breaking his hold from around her waist.

"Fuck now," he insisted, grabbing at her again.

The uppercut to his jaw snapped Spike's head back like a yo-yo, his teeth snapping together hard. He looked at her in shock, but found her still smiling.

"Get in," she said, hopping into the driver's side. "It's my turn to drive," she added impishly.

"Buffy..." Spike started, confused. A phantom memory of—of what? Something. He was supposed to wait for something....

"Time's a waste'n," Buffy said, looking at him expectantly.

Spike climbed into the passenger seat next to her.

"I don't know if this is such good idea," he grumbled. "Can you even drive? And where are we going?"

She laughed, her eyes twinkling with mirth.

"To France, silly."

*****

"This one?" Xander asked Anya, holding up a black leather-bound book. Anya frowned.

"No. It's burgundy, not black. Oh, and don't hold that one too long. It's been dipped in poison," Anya added, continuing her search through the stacks of books they'd pulled from the Magic Box's shelves.

Xander dropped the book as if it had bit him.

"Anya!"

"What?"

Xander was gesturing wildly at the book, making inarticulate sounds.

Anya smiled. "It wouldn't have killed you. It's too old. Most of the poison has rubbed off already."

"Most!" Xander sputtered, then paused mid-outrage as he saw Anya's brow crinkle. "What is it, Ahn?"

"Why are you helping Spike?" Anya asked bluntly.

Queen of the almost-sequitur, Xander thought wryly.

"I don't know." Xander suddenly yelped as Anya pinched his arm.

"No, 'I don't knows,' Xander. You promised, remember? Or do I have to get out the contract?" Anya said. Xander muttered something under his breath, followed by a yowl as Anya kicked him in the shin.

"And no muttering! Clause three, paragraph two explicitly states that..."

Xander tuned her out as he fought for an answer. He truly hated Tara for giving her that 'Marriage For Dummies' book, which urged long, definitive statements of expectations. Trust his Anya to take it to the next step and draw up a sixty-three page contract. She had relished the task, and truth be told, he found it kind of cute when she started calculating how many orgasms she expected a week. Until he saw the number. No rest for the Xan-man...

"Are you thinking about sex?" That question broke his chain of thought.

"What?"

"Sex. Are you thinking about it? You've got that look."

"Wha..no, I'm not..." Xander eyed her pinching fingers warily and sighed. "Okay, yes. I was thinking about sex."

Anya looked at him curiously. "Why are you having sex thoughts when I asked about Spike?"

"What? Anya! No...no Spike! I was thinking of you. And about the contract..."

"Oh. Did you want to add more orgasms to your total?"

"No. Well..." He paused to consider that for a moment, then shook his head. "No, that's not...I was just thinking that as strange as it seems, the contract is kind of a good idea," Xander finished. Anya practically beamed.

"Oh Xander..." she said, throwing her arms around him and hugging him. He chuckled. Trust Anya to get emotional over sub-paragraphs and clauses. Still, it really wasn't that bad an idea. And he could deal with contracts—they were a daily occurrence in his line of work. Drywall contract for this much, sub-contract the plumbing for that much... And Anya had, with the precision of an ex-Vengeance Demon, laid out exactly what she expected of him. Sure, they had haggled, Xander wasn't a fool, but in the end they had come to an agreement that both had found strangely comforting.

His parents sure could have used one, he thought. Might have kept them from hating each other, wondering if they made a mistake getting married.

"So, why are you helping Spike?" came Anya's muffled question against his chest. "I thought you didn't like him."

"I don't. Not really. It's just that Buffy was so upset, and Dawn too. And I guess he's not that bad to have around. And...and I can't believe I'm going to say this—if he makes Buffy happy..."

Anya was definitely beaming again. Hmm, could start on that O-number early tonight, Xander thought.

"Buffy deserves to be happy, like me. And I've got everything I want right here," he said, bending to kiss her.

Anya returned the kiss, only to break off a little breathless. "Is your back better from last time? We could go in the back room and try that dismount again..."

Xander cut off his exuberant fiancée with another kiss. Oh yes, Xander thought, happys for everyone. Definitely his new motto.

*****

Julie exited the hospital, her anger at Angel quickening her pace. She needed a fresh change of clothes and a good, long shower. That would help. But she knew she couldn't go back to her apartment; Vick's thugs might be waiting for her there. And despite his earlier heroics, she doubted Spike was up for another fight. Especially the way he had been clutching his head, his eyes narrowed with pain.

Julie spotted the blonde vampire sitting in the passenger side of the Cadillac convertible. What was he doing? Did he want her to drive? And who was he talking to?

Ten feet from the car, quick, cold hands wrapped around Julie's mouth and waist, yanking her back behind a large van.

"You mustn't disturb him, dearie," a whisper raked in her ear like fingernails on slate. "Playtime isn't over."

Julie managed to turn her head enough to see the pale, dark-haired woman restraining her in a fierce grip.

The hand slid off of Julie's mouth and chillingly traced the lines of her neck.

"Who..." Julie asked, as the vampire—she knew it had to be a vampire—smiled like a snake.

"You are a pretty one; I can see why he tries. I was pretty once. Do you think I'm pretty?"

"Y..yes?" Julie managed to say.

"You're sweet," she murmured, smelling Julie's neck. "So very sweet..."

Julie struggled to break free. She knew that look—like she was the main course instead of just a sample plate. But the crushing grip tightened.

"Now dearie, I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to give you a present. You like presents don't you? Miss Edith wants presents for everyone."



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: Colleen, Mezzibelle, Magpie and Perletwo
Special Thanks: To Kelly, Magpie, and Chris for help with the medical research. And to my fans that have sent me kind emails prompting the continuation of this story. Thank you. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Nine

"Where are we?" Spike asked for the millionth time. Buffy flashed him a shocking white half-smile—a match to the moon that lit up her face.

"You know what your problem is?" she asked, puckering her lips in a cute frown.

Spike sighed dramatically. "No, but I'm sure you'll tell me."

"You don't know how to have fun."

Barking laughter burst from him, and Buffy's smile filled his vision once more.

"Me? I'm the fun one in this mix, my sweet." Spike grinned, his hand creeping up her thigh.

"Are not!" Buffy said, indignant, slapping his hand away.

"Are too! Whose idea was it to do it on top of the water tower?"

"That railing was cold!"

"I gave you my coat."

"Still..." she said, waving it off with a flick of her wrist. "Who won all those kittens when we played kitten poker?"

"I did!"

"Oh yeah... I set them free though."

"That you did, love."

"So see? I'm more fun than you!"

"Why? Because you set a bunch of hairballs loose? That's the going rate for being crowned queen of the bloody fun?"

"Yes," she said, sticking her tongue out at him.

Spike chuckled. "Don't stick that out unless you're willing to use it, pet."

"Oh, I'm willing..." she purred, and Spike shivered slightly. Then he looked around, confused.

"Where are we again, love?"

*****

"Okay, now where am I?" Buffy muttered to herself, peering at the road signs. Driving really wasn't her thing, she had decided. Of course, she had decided that long ago, but reaffirmation never hurt anyone. And now she could quite confidently say that the blue line on her map did not exist. It had to be one of those phantom roads that led down some endless journey of self-exploration, which she couldn't really afford to be on at the moment. She needed to find Spike!

Buffy felt the baggie full of smaller baggies inside her jacket pocket. The ingredients. Just the touch of them through the plastic comforted her. She'd reach him in time. She had to—she was the hero, right? The one that burst through the door at the last second, ready to save the day...

Wait! Was that the on-ramp? Yes! And that blue line-thingy must be that other road. Ha!

Now she was getting somewhere.

*****

"Well?" Fred asked anxiously.

Angel smiled, which oddly enough, he thought, didn't make her relax. "Connor checked out fine. He's just running a bit of a temperature. Doctor gave me this... Two droppers full every six hours," Angel recited, showing her the bottle.

"Okay, what do you guys want?" Gunn asked, as he and Cordelia approached, arms laden with vending machine snack-food.

"Oh, M&M's please!" Fred said, snatching the candy bag from Gunn.

Cordelia smiled. "Midnight munchies...aren't they great? Perfect time for the chocolate."

"I like corn nuts," Angel said. They all stared at him. "What?"

"Must be a vampire thing," Fred said, picking out the blue M&M's and giving them to Gunn.

"What are you doing?" Cordy asked her.

"Oh, I don't eat anything blue," she said absently.

"Of course not," Cordy nodded in mock agreement. Fred continued without noticing.

"On Pylea, they had these really sweet fruit named 'gorcadema'. They looked sorta like a pear, only they were blue. All of the cows...humans ate them. Until Randy, he was a year older than me with dark hair and pretty eyes. He said he liked my chin. Isn't that funny? How many people go around noticing a chin? Anyway, there is this little native fly on Pylea that lays its eggs in the fruit. Only they don't hatch until some unsuspecting person eats them and their stomach acid dissolves the protective membrane around the eggs. Then the flies crawl their way up, flying out your mouth and nose for days on end."

"Glad I asked," Cordy replied, handing her chocolate bar back to Gunn.

"What happened to Randy?" Angel asked.

"Nothing. The flies don't really hurt you or anything, so he was fine. That is until his master got upset at him for not chopping enough wood for the day. He was distracted because of the flies, and I mean, who wouldn't be? Crawling up the back of your throat, their tiny little legs..."

"Fred!" they all protested.

"Oh...sorry. Anyway, his master activated his collar and poof, no more head for Randy," Fred said, idly munching. "The flies didn't have to crawl very far to get out after that," she mumbled. Gunn put a supportive arm around her and squeezed. She thanked him with a slight smile.

"So that's why I don't eat anything blue."

"Ah. Great story. Really gripping with the exploding heads and all," Cordy said, then turned her attention to Angel and the now asleep Connor. "Everything checked out okay, right? Just a slight fever?"

Angel smiled. "Yeah, Connor's fine. Got some medicine to give him."

"So no more late-night trips to the emergency room for all of us? 'Cause, I got to tell you, it's really cutting into my beauty sleep."

"I said I could handle it," Angel said, a bit wounded.

"Oh as if you wouldn't be a quivering bucket of stupid if something was really wrong...not that there ever would be. Ever. Like never," Cordelia back-tracked at the look of panic in Angel's eyes.

"It's just...he's mine. I helped create him. He's my responsibility and that's..." Angel trailed off.

"Scary," Cordy finished.

"Yeah."

They all paused, absorbing that, until Gunn broke the silence.

"Well, I don't know about you guys, but Connor has the right idea. Let's head home and get some sleep."

"Up past your bedtime, Charles?" Fred taunted.

"Hey, I'll stay up as long as you, Winifred," he replied, and she punched him lightly.

"Good idea. The sleep part, I mean," Cordy agreed. "Are we ready to go?"

*****

"Spike!" The voice slipped hard into his consciousness, rousing him slightly.

"What? Are we there yet?"

"Where?"

"France."

"Spike!"

"What? Quit shouting. Trying to sleep here," he mumbled, finally prying his eyes open.

Oh fuck, the pain... It racked and stretched through his body.

"God...what happened to you? And what's that smell?"

Spike focused on the voice and saw Julie sitting in the driver's side of the Cadillac. Not Buffy.

"Where is she?" Spike demanded, grabbing her arm.

"Ow! Hey, quit it! You're hurting me!"

"Where the fuck is she!" he yelled, then crumpled over as his stiff body sent a wave of pain through him from the sudden movement. It felt as if molten steel were being poured down his hollow veins. He released Julie's arm and tried to focus on the seams of the seat. Threads. Tight little threads holding the fabric together. So small, he thought. What happens when you pull them...

"Spike, I don't have time to explain, but we have to get out of here. Now! Do you have the keys? Where are the keys?" Julie said, patting down his jeans. She fished them out of his pocket even as he gritted his teeth, fighting to stay conscious. But a thought pierced even the deepest wave of agony.

You're hurting me!

The chip. His head. The fucking chip hadn't fired.

The raw, startled laugh that emerged from his cracked lips died in silent convulsions; his ribs like claws inside his chest, raking with every heave.

Julie was speaking, talking to him. He tried to focus.

"I know a place. Somewhere safe. We'll go there and get you fixed up. Okay?"

Fixed... Yes. Dru fixed him alright. His malevolent queen; she wanted him free of the chip, free to kill.

"Spike?"

Nowhere else to turn. Drusilla. Buffy. His loves were gone. All gone. What was left besides pain? Blinding, horrible pain...

And Julie. Shit. He'd meant to help; now he could barely keep from shaking.

"Go. Take me there," Spike rasped, even as he tried to sit up straight.

He could feel his body, weak—skin starting to itch and burn.

How far away was he now? He'd lost track of the mile markers. Peaches would know. Should look him up while in L.A. Laugh about women and torture. Catch up on old times... Get an old stake shoved through his heart. Finish things once and for all.

Julie started the car, the engine rocking him slightly as it turned over.

Chipless and free. He had dreamed about it so many times. Begged for it from whatever deity sprang to his lips when the chip blasted sparks through his brain. At least, he used to, before...before...

Spike leaned back into the leather of the seat, eyes closed.

Yes, movement. He had to keep moving. No point in being here. No point in being anywhere, really. But he felt the need for something fast. Maybe they could drive blazing into the morning. Let the sun wash over him like a fiery baptism.

Maybe then he would truly be free of her.

*****

"See, that's the funny part; I could eat green eggs and ham. But if they were blue..." Fred said to Gunn, following Angel and Cordelia out the hospital doors.

She almost ran into Angel's broad back as he abruptly halted in front of her.

"What? Are we stopping now?" Fred asked, looking at Angel curiously. He didn't answer. His eyes were fixed on a maroon colored convertible and the two people inside. One was...

"Hey, isn't that Julie?" Fred asked.

"Yes," Angel said.

"I wonder who the guy is?"

Angel didn't reply. Silently, he handed off Connor to Cordelia, who took him without hesitation. She too had seen the blond passenger.

"Call Wesley and get a ride back," Angel said curtly, before he was off running for his own car.

"Gosh, what was all that about?" Fred asked as Connor began to cry.

Cordy absently bounced him several times in her arms, a frown firmly in place as she watched the souled vampire's retreating form.

"Spike's back in town."

*****

"She's alright, then?" Spike asked, wincing as he shifted in his seat.

"Yes. Scared out of her mind after the power went out, but okay. Just what Michelle needed after surgery," Julie replied, not looking at him. "Can you believe it? Right when we make a run for it, her appendix almost burst. She said she was having stomach pains, but I figured it was nerves. Hell, I thought my guts were going to crawl out of me when we finally made a break for it. Couldn't eat anything at all yesterday. Damn, I'm hungry."

Hunger. Yes, Spike felt the familiar tug of hunger grow into a full-blown truck pull in his stomach. He needed to feed; the damage from the electricity was severe. He could feel it in his bones, scorched to the marrow.

"Where are we going?" he asked, licking his parched lips.

Julie flashed him a wicked, white smile. "Vick's place."

*****

"What the hell is he doing in my town?" Angel said to himself, reluctantly stopping at a red light when he spotted a cop car behind him.

"Just my luck," he muttered, as the police lights came on as the light turned green. Angel pulled over to the side of the road followed closely by the black and white car. Two burly cops emerged, flanking his car as they approached, hands on their guns.

"Evening, officers. How may I help you?" Polite. Heck, sometimes it worked.

Both cops drew their pistols and aimed them at Angel's head.

Okay, sometimes it doesn't, Angel thought. So who were these jokers? Wolfram and Hart boys? Bounty hunters after Connor? A glance in the mirror at least told him a part of the story. Vampires.

"Eyes forward! Hands where we can see them!"

Angel contemplated his next move as he slowly raised his hands, his eyes fixed on the road ahead. Just then he locked gazes with a passing motorist. A shiver of raw emotion slithered down his spine, as it always did whenever he saw her.

"Buffy!"

*****

"Angel!" Buffy yelped, slamming on her brakes as she spotted him, her tires squealing and sputtering smoke. She barely had time to take in the tableau of police and lights and drawn guns before Angel took advantage of the burnt rubber distraction and leaped from his car, plunging a stake into the heart of the nearest cop.

Buffy almost sighed in relief when she saw the police uniform crumble to dust.

'Great, vamps,' she thought.

Bang!

Okay, vamps with guns!

Buffy's eyes widened as the other vampire fired several shots at Angel, who was doing his best to put his car between him and the flying bullets.

"Buffy!" he yelled, crouched down behind the front bumper of his car.

"Just my luck," she muttered. Stupid vamps with guns.

"Buffy! Drive!"

She stared at him for a second, not understanding. Angel rolled his eyes.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, as she took her foot off the brake and hit the gas, making a sharp, squealing U-turn. She reached over and flung open the passenger door. Angel dived inside just as she jammed the accelerator hard.

"Keep down!" he said as a bullet shattered the passenger mirror. Buffy slouched in her seat as best she could, turning sharply onto a side street.

"It's okay," Angel said after a moment, looking back. "I don't think he's following us."

"So...you forget to pay some parking tickets?" she asked with a slight smile.

"Refused to donate to the policemen's ball," he smiled back, briefly. "It's good to see you again, Buffy."

"Thanks. You too."

"Turn here," he gestured. After a couple more turns they were back on Main Street with Angel craning his head, looking around.

"I thought you said he wasn't following us," Buffy said, puzzled.

"No, it's not that," Angel replied, distracted. "Dammit, I lost them."

"Who them?"



Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my fic "Easier Said."
Betas: Colleen, Mezzibelle and Magpie
Special Thanks: To Magpie for the extra "Angel voice" help. :-)
Disclaimer: Joss is God. The characters are his. I'm merely having fun with them.
Summary: Spike takes off for places unknown only to find an unwelcome passenger along for the ride.



Road Tripp'n Part Ten

"Bugger!"

"Easy, just a few more steps..."

"Bloody stupid vampire taking the top bloody floor," Spike wheezed, his arm draped around Julie's shoulder.

"Don't worry, I've got you," she said.

"You're stronger than you look, love."

"Well, you're not exactly Mr. Universe...have you been feeding?"

"What? No...I...no..." Spike sputtered.

"Just a question, blondie," Julie replied, pulling him up onto the final landing. "Outside access. Vick demanded it."

"Bastard got somethin' against elevators?" he grumbled.

"People get stuck in elevators. Vick didn't like anything he couldn't control, the freak." Julie let Spike lean against the wall as she sifted through the car keys, finally finding the right one and inserting it into the dead bolt of the heavy metal door.

"Sure it's safe here, pet?"

"Yeah. This was Vick's private getaway. None of his goons knew about it. Sorta a safe-house if he needed a place."

"How do you know about it then?" Spike asked as the door swung open. Julie seemed to pause at the threshold as if not wanting to enter.

"He brought me here once," she replied shortly, and then deliberately strode into the apartment head high, but not before Spike glimpsed the revulsion and fear on her face. Bugger. He followed her as best he could, limping forward.

The place was clean. Too clean. It had that sterile unused look to it. Plain, black furniture. Undecorated walls. Not exactly luxurious, by any means, Spike thought. It was a place; a place few ever saw and none lived in. But Julie had seen it.

"I'll see if he had some blood stocked. He did last time I was here," Julie called out, heading for the open kitchen alcove's refrigerator.

Spike continued his surveillance of the apartment. It was cold. He had gotten used to the warmth of the Summers' house, the dash of color strategically placed to draw the eye; artifacts genuine and knockoff that adorned every nook and cranny with bulging eyes and touch-me bellies.

That would have been Joyce's doing, he thought. Damn good woman, that.

But as he looked about Vick's place, taking in the cold hardness of it all as if it were a deliberate décor, he realized that it was perfect for a vampire. The whole place screamed "Undead! Undead! Undead!" Bela would be proud.

When Spike reached what he assumed was the bedroom door, he found it partially open. As he placed a hand on it, Julie startled him. "Don't go in there!"

He turned and looked at her, surprised. "Why not, pet?"

"You just...just don't. Please. I...I was...I can't. Don't go in there. Please? Please don't..." Spike relented under the tears that Julie quickly wiped away.

"He's dead, you know. Did him myself," he said softly.

"I know. I know. But..."

"You're free, love. Free as a bloody bird. He can't control you anymore..." Spike trailed off coughing. Fuck. His lungs burned and there was an acrid taste in his mouth. He spat on the floor. Shit. The phlegm was thick and black.

"Nice manners, blondie," Julie said, chuckling slightly, her voice still shaky with emotion.

"Ain't my home, love."

He made his way to the black leather couch and slowly sat down, wincing. "No luck with the blood?"

"No. He...there doesn't seem to be any," she replied.

"Maybe she's not looking hard enough," came a whisper in Spike's ear.

"Not again," Spike moaned.

"What?" Julie asked.

"Should you tell her or shall I?" Buffy said, leaning her head against Spike's shoulder.

"Spike? You okay?"

"Not the word I'd use, pet. Not the word at all."

*****

"Okay...so, to sum up: You have a son, Connor. By Darla. Who staked herself in order to give birth, and now you're raising him as a single vampire dad, which would be a great concept for a TV sitcom by the way. Oh, and all these bounty hunters and lawyers and blood suckers—redundant, I know—are after your son because he's so...unique? How am I doing so far?"

"Good." Angel nodded.

"Great," Buffy replied. "But there was also a time when you went a little psycho...stopped helping people. And this Julie was one of those you could have helped, but didn't. Right?"

He nodded again, a bit more morosely.

"So we're chasing after her because Spike was...was what, exactly? What was he doing?"

"Just sitting there, but..."

"Well, if he wasn't threatening her, what's the big?"

"What do you mean, 'what's the big'? It's Spike," Angel said, looking at her hard.

She squirmed a little under his gaze. "He's not like that anymore."

"Since when?"

"Since a long time now. He has a chip..."

"I know."

"You know?"

"I'm not completely out of the loop. Willow talked about him, after you..." He trailed off.

"Died. You can say it, Angel."

He didn't reply.

Buffy paused, feeling as if the air had turned to lead. Why was everything always so difficult with him?

"I'm fine now," she stated.

"Are you?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Buffy, what's going on?" Angel asked, bluntly.

She gathered her thoughts, wondering how to broach the subject. Finally she decided that direct was best. She didn't have time for anything less.

"Spike loves me."

Angel looked at her, a bit taken aback. "He doesn't have a soul. He can't love, Buffy. It's not possible."

"For you," she muttered quietly, his wince confirming that he had heard her anyway.

"That's what this is about? You're trying to save another vampire? He isn't me."

"God, can you be any more full of yourself?" she exclaimed, amazed at how quickly things could deteriorate.

Angel's brow crinkled more. "He doesn't have a soul," he repeated. "You and I both know what that means. You think he wouldn't kill again given half the chance?"

"I'm telling you he's changed."

"No. You said he loves you. That's not change, Buffy. That's obsession. One you're apparently caught up in."

"You can't know that."

"I know him," Angel replied. Buffy shook her head and deliberately avoided his eyes, watching the street lights go by like falling stars. After a minute, he continued.

"I know things have been hard for you. After your mother died..."

"Don't, Angel. Just, please don't."

"You shut down. That's what you do. You needed me sometimes to bring you out of it."

"That's not...This isn't the same thing."

"Spike can be attentive and exciting. But he's not capable of real love, Buffy. Not without a soul," Angel said firmly. She just glanced at him for a moment, letting her eyes take in his inscrutable face. Had she loved him? Did she even know who he was back then? Or was it all just schoolgirl lust and longing?

"You have to believe that," Buffy said softly. "I don't blame you. Not anymore. I know you couldn't love me without a soul, that you couldn't love anybody. But Spike isn't you. And right or wrong, I love h..him." Buffy noticed his wince change into a full-blown grimace, but there it was. No more lies. She needed to be free. She needed to move forward.

"He'll kill again. You know he will."

"I love him," Buffy repeated.

Angel looked at her sadly. Her mouth formed that familiar thin line of determination. She wasn't going to be stopped, not by him. Not by anyone. He could see her mind made up.

"Love's not always enough, Buffy," he said quietly.

She didn't reply.

*****

"Spike, you're scaring me," Julie said.

He laughed. Scaring her? Heh. She wasn't the one being haunted by his former lover.

"Oooh...cable! Let's watch something naughty," Buffy purred in his ear.

"Fuck," he murmured, holding his head in his hands like a ripe fruit ready to burst.

"Spike?"

"Fuck."

"Spike!"

He looked into Julie's concerned eyes. She stepped back when she saw his face and the look he gave her. He looked like...

Julie gathered herself, her face hardening with resolve. "You need blood."

Blood...fuck yes, he was hungry. His stomach burned and body tingled. He felt dry, impossibly dry—eyes like sand, skin like sun-bleached bone. He needed to drink, to suck, to feast. He could feel the fangs deep inside his palate grow hot. The demon wanted—no, demanded to be fed.

"This should be fun," Buffy exclaimed.

Spike watched as Julie removed her choker, eyes fixed on his.

"Drink from me."

*****

"There!"

"There where?" Buffy asked, confused.

"Pull over here," Angel commanded.

She did as she was told, finally seeing what his sharp eyes had caught before. The tail end of a burgundy Cadillac hidden behind a blue dumpster in an alley.

"That's it?"

"Yeah." Angel scanned the alley as they both got out of the car. "They must be around here somewhere. I doubt Spike took her far."

"He didn't 'take' her anywhere!" Buffy said, slamming the door harder than it needed to be. "I told you about the poison, and the possible weirdness..."

"Fine. Let's just find them, all right?" Angel interrupted, not willing to waste time arguing.

"Fine," Buffy muttered. This is *so* not good.

*****

Spike stared at Julie, not quite registering what she said. Then he sprang up from the couch, pain making him stumble as he sought to get away from her.

"Spike!" Julie grabbed his arm. He fought to break the grip but found he couldn't.

"You need to drink."

"No!"

"You idiot, I know vampires, okay? You need blood. You're about ready to fall over..."

"You don't know anything!" he said angrily.

"Oh, but she does, Spike. Look at her neck!" Buffy said, clapping her hands happily.

Her neck... The choker had hid them for the most part, but still he should have known, could have seen... Scars. Lots of them.

"You're a suck job!" Spike said with disgust.

Julie's eyes filled with hurt as she released him. Buffy was laughing uncontrollably on the couch.

"Don't call me that."

Spike straightened to his full height and advanced, his human teeth bared, forcing Julie back against the edge of the couch.

"You think you know vampires? Why, because you let them bleed you? Let them taste you?"

"Spike..."

"I get it now. No wonder you didn't run when you found out what I was."

"What are you talking about?"

"You needed a fix. A little fang and you're good to go. You get off on it!"

Julie slapped him. Hard. "Fuck you!"

Spike felt his fangs descend, hot and ready. He grabbed her arms, holding her tight, feeling new strength flow from anticipation. Even the smell of fear coming off her in waves was intoxicating.

"Yeah, pet. Maybe you're right. A little of the red stuff might do the trick," Spike said, licking his lips, the insatiable hunger roaring in his ears. "Let's just see who gets off first."

Warm, delicious blood flooded his mouth as his fangs penetrated the well-used crook of her neck.

Julie screamed.

Spike drank.

Buffy laughed.

*****

"Where is he?!" Buffy said, frustrated, the ingredients for the antidote weighing heavy in her jacket's breast pocket. Their search of the car turned up nothing. And the black, reinforced doors that littered the alley didn't look like something either of them want to bust through without knowing what lay beyond. She suspected that the 'Sorry! We were just looking for a poisoned vampire.' wouldn't go over well.

"Should we go around the other way? Isn't this a club or something?" Buffy asked, tapping on a sturdy metal door near the car.

Just then, a scream split the air. Buffy barely had time to register the blur resembling Angel fly past her.

"Damn," Buffy said, quickly running after him. She saw Angel leap halfway up a narrow metal staircase. "Angel wait!" Buffy called out, running up the steps. At the top of the stairs, she heard him growl deeply before his fists connected with the heavy metal door.

By the time she reached him, he had managed to punch through enough to grab hold with both hands. With a feral roar he ripped the door from the brick wall, sending a shower of dust and masonry chips all around. Startled by the display of violence and Angel in full vamp face, Buffy was unable to stop him as he charged ferociously through the entry.