Wet and Wild
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Riley met Michael as he stepped out of the elevator and was relieved when she didn't see Buffy with him. He held up a hand as the man started to brush past him to get into the elevator himself. “Where’s Buffy?”
“Look for her.” Michael smiled.
“Just tell me. Or else-”
“You think you have some kind of pull around here just because your mommy runs the show? My dad was--”
“Oh hell.” Riley stepped back in disgust and looked at the boy like he was insane. “Are you still on that? Your dad got himself killed. Forest didn’t do it. Graham didn’t do it and I sure as hell didn’t do it. He did it.”
“Right.” Michael nodded his head and spoke sarcastically. “He knew that something was happening at that High School, Riley. He told us and none of you assholes believed him. You stayed behind and let him go alone and he got blown to hell and back.”
“We told him not to go, Michael.”
“He had rank in your group. You didn’t have a right to tell him anything.” Running a hand through his hair, Michael stared him in the eye. “I should let Buffy know what a coward she’s running with.”
“This is an old fight, man.” Riley exhaled loudly and turned to walk away. “And don’t you even think about bringing Buffy into it.”
“Maybe you should see what it feels like to lose someone you love.” Michael mumbled.
Riley spun fast and gripped him by the throat. “Don’t you even look at her and don’t you dare come within three feet of her again or I’ll mess you up so bad, you won’t know a Hostile from your face in the mirror.”
Michael shoved him back and swung his fist, which Riley blocked. Riley got a good left hook in and knocked Michael’s head back against the wall and Michael’s foot caught Riley between the legs before they were separated by Walsh’s sharp reprimand. She shouted for them to halt, from one end of the hall, and both did as instructed, backing away and staring at the ground. Buffy followed and watched with wide eyes as Walsh seemed to dominate the situation instantly.
Maggie looked from one to the other. “What is the meaning of this?”
Michael stood straight and said, “Nothing, ma’am. It’s under control. Permission to be excused, ma’am.”
“Shake hands.” Walsh said, crossing her arms and watching as the two boys did as instructed. “Permission granted, Michael.”
Michael turned and stepped through the door to the stairwell, pausing on the other side to listen through it. He couldn’t wait to hear what Riley would tell Mommy Dearest.
“Riley?” Turning, Maggie appraised Riley. “Your side?”
“It would appear that Mikey hasn’t gotten past his father dying in that explosion last year at Sunnydale High. He still blames me.” Riley stared at the floor, his jaw clenched tightly. It was very degrading for this to happen in front of Buffy and he couldn't bring himself to look at her.
Buffy cleared her throat and said, “Uhm, how are you responsible for the school blowing up? I did that. The Mayor was ascending into a demon and we had to stop it.”
“You did that?” Professor Walsh looked astonished.
“I did.” Buffy smiled a little, leaving off the part where it was actually just her idea and Giles had pulled the trigger. “I knew it had to be done to stop the Ascension.”
“Wow.” Riley beamed with pride. “That was gutsy.”
“Slayers are gutsy.” Buffy agreed and then remembered the children in the paper, her main reason for arriving early. “Hey, you said you would show me the kids. Professor Walsh?”
“Oh, Riley can show you.” She moistened her lips and gazed up at her son. “Buffy is concerned about the people in quarantine. Can you take her over and let her look through the glass and see for herself that they are perfectly fine?”
“No one is to go in.” Maggie started to walk away and then paused, “And Buffy, if you are so inclined sometime later, I’d love to hear about the school and what happened.”
“Okay.” Buffy watched her leave and looked up at Riley. “So, show me.”
Riley motioned her to follow him and she did, eager to see the children. Neither one noticed the stairwell door open, or the very angry young man who stepped out. Michael watched her closely, predator to prey, and then turned and stalked down the stairs. It was time to hack into the Agent file and get Buffy’s home address. His dad would not die in vain and Riley would pay for every single thing he had ever done. It would be such poetic justice to kill two birds with one stone.
Riley paused at the end of the long hallway and tapped on a window. Buffy gasped when blinds were pulled back and she could view the Infirmary’s Quarantine Unit. Every bed was full and every patient lay motionless, hooked up to various machines. Despite the theories that Angel had bounced off of her the previous night, these people appeared to be unharmed. “Why are they so still?”
“We put them to sleep. It’s easier for them to handle the quarantine that way. As soon as we know that they’re fine, we transfer them to the city hospital in Los Angeles. They will wake up there and probably won’t remember anything.” He pointed to two small figures in side by side beds at the back of the room. “There are those kids you saved.”
Standing on her tiptoe, she nodded, making a mental note of where the Infirmary was located and vowing to check back in as soon as the opportunity presented itself. “Are they going to be okay?”
Riley lifted a receiver beside the window and punched in several numbers. One of the men, who was wearing a mask over his face, picked up and stared out at them. “Are the two little girls going to make it?” asked Riley, indicating the back of the room.
The tech nodded and hung the phone back up. Buffy laughed a little and said, “A man of few words.”
Riley didn’t say anything as he put the phone back in place, then he turned. “Stay away from Michael.”
“Well, that came out of left field.”
“I mean it, Buffy. I didn’t tell my m- Maggie this, but he threatened you. He thinks that I was somehow responsible for his father’s death and wanted him to die so I could make rank in Team One. I told him to stay away from you and he said something about it being time for me to lose someone I care about.”
“He could have been talking about anyone.” Buffy replied, wrapping her arms around his waist. It dawned on her that she had made the motion without thinking twice about it and that was very unnerving.
“I only care about you and he knows that. Everyone knows that.”
“I can take care of myself.” She smiled, both from his concern and his admission, and looked up at him.
He brushed her hair back and took a deep breath. “I don’t doubt that, but humor me. Promise me you won’t go out alone or go around him.”
Nodding, he lowered his mouth to hers. A loud buzzing caused them both to jump and she pulled away. “What’s that?”
“It’s ten. Time for the meeting.”
Professor Walsh stood on her podium and glanced at the people who had gathered around her. It always gave her a rush of pride to see so many fresh-scrubbed faces staring up at her. These people were the future of the world and she was proud to lead them in the war against darkness. Lifting the field report that Riley had filled out, she flipped it open and read the first two lines. “Team One is pleased to report that there were no fatalities on Mission X-3 Drive-In2. Five specimens were brought to base as requested and the victims were salvaged.”
Closing the folder, she smiled. “Give yourselves a hand, people. You did an outstanding job.”
Buffy clapped along with everyone else and then smiled at Forest, who nudged her with his hip as he joined the group. Walsh glared at him and he shrugged apologetically. “Sorry.”
Shaking her head, Walsh continued. She was going to do something that was positively unheard of. It was time to settle into business and that meant that she wanted as little distraction as possible. “With no impending problems on the horizon, I am decreasing the workload. The holidays are practically here and I’m sure all of you have family and loved ones to spend time with. For the most part, we will still be actively running the mission and I want you to keep your beepers with you at all times. In two days, we will be shutting off all systems for Y2K structuring and I must devote time and attention to that. However, do not hesitate to contact Agent Finn or myself if a crisis arises. Any questions?”
“Will we be required to report to base daily, ma’am?” Forest asked, unable to contain his glee at the prospect of less work.
“The technicians, the feeders, and the cleaners will still have to maintain their workload, but the field agents are free agents.” Walsh grinned a little at the small cheer that erupted and then clapped her hands together. “However, there is much work to be done today. The chamber has sixteen dead creatures that need to be moved to the surgery bay for autopsies and we have four specimens in the later stages of implanting that need to be moved to the chamber. I don’t need to remind you that demons that are dying are very, very unpredictable in nature. Teams Three and Five, you gather some volunteers and remove the bodies. Hose down the area and get it ready for the new occupants. Agents Finn and Gates, you two will show Agent Summers how to handle the transferring of the Hostiles to the chamber. Summers, as soon as you have finished the tasks at hand, please find me.”
Buffy nodded and tried to make sense of what she had just heard. They put dying demons into something called a chamber. It was like Nazi Germany all over again. The hair on the back of her neck tingled and she gave a small shiver. Maggie continued speaking, “I don’t have to tell those of you who are remaining in Sunnydale for the holiday break to use extreme caution at all times. Despite the fact that you will not be required here daily, you are still Agents and you are to keep order above ground. I’ll want a list of everyone who will remain in town for Christmas break. Some of you have standing orders and those will still stand. Please see Agent Gates and sign the proper paperwork. I want to know who I have to fall back on if something does happen. In this town, that’s very likely. Are there any other questions?”
No one raised a hand and Maggie breathed a sigh of relief. She had expected someone to question the Y2K information, or at the very least volunteer to help. Only a select few people knew what was really happening and she had spent the better part of the morning preparing careful replies to possible questions. “Very good. Dismissed.”
Several of the boys gave others high fives and laughed loudly, unable to contain the rush they felt from having a real holiday. Riley watched them, a small smile on his face and then moved toward Buffy, who had followed Forest to a table near the elevator to help him get the signup sheets ready. “I’m glad they’re getting the break. Everyone needs a little time off.”
“Time off is that thing that we don’t actually have.” Forest replied and opened a pack of inkpens, pouring them all over the table. “You can bet that us poor souls who are hanging out here for Christmas will be put back to work.”
Buffy was putting blank pieces of paper into clipboards and nodded absently, “It’s nothing new for me. I’m used to it.”
Riley chewed his bottom lip and watched her closely. “Well, it’s time you get used to something new then. Enjoy the break, Buffy. It won’t hurt you to forget about slaying for a few weeks.”
Buffy stopped what she was doing and looked up at him skeptically. “You’re kidding, right? Let me explain a little something. Evil doesn’t stop coming just because it’s December. I know, holy month yadda-yadda, but this is still Sunnydale and break or not, I’m the Slayer.”
“It won’t matter if you miss a vampire here and there.”
“I’m sure the person who supplies dinner for that vampire would beg to differ.”
“You can’t save everyone.”
“But I will damn well keep trying.”
Forest taped the cardboard sign he had made the edge of the table and looked from one to the other. “I hate to interrupt what some people may interpret as a lover's quarrel, but we have work to do.”
Buffy glanced at him and said, “I thought you were in charge of the sign ins for the people who were staying?”
“I am in charge. There are the pens, there’s the paper and there’s the sign that says, ‘Sign Here If You Are Staying.’” He shrugged and scratched the side of his face. “I’m a man of many talents. I can be in two places at one time. That’s why I’m always the one Walsh picks for these odd jobs.”
“She picks you to keep you out of trouble.” Riley pointed out.
“Well, that too.”
Thirty minutes later, Buffy was holding a gun in her hands and listening intently to Forest and Riley arguing about the best way to get a very large and scaly demon to the chamber. Riley felt that the minute they opened the doors, the demon would charge. Forest felt that there would be plenty of time while it was charging for Buffy to immobilize it. For the third time, Riley was explaining why shooting it with the ray gun would only serve to anger Walsh. “Maggie doesn’t like to have the bodies damaged when they’re this close to the end. The implants make it impossible for them to heal properly before they die.”
Forest pointed at the demon, which was alternating between baring it’s fangs and making lewd hand gestures. “Do you think she really cares about the skin on that thing?”
“I care about my skin, Forest, and I’m not putting my ass on the line. I’ll try to get close enough to inject it with the tranquilizer.”
“Don’t you have a tranquilizer gun?” Buffy asked, impatiently tapping her foot and eyeing the small hypodermic needle in Riley's hand.
“We ran out of the darts for them a couple of days ago and the shipment hasn ’t come in yet.” Riley replied, watching the demon closely. “I think it’s too sick to put up much of a fight.”
“Why can’t we just walk it to the new place?”
“That’s why we’re drugging the thing. So we can shackle it and take it where we need to go.”
“Standing here isn’t getting it done.” Buffy shoved her gun into Forest’s arms and held out her hand. “Just give me the needle and let me do it.”
Riley laughed at her and shook his head. “Absolutely not. I said I’ll do it.”
“That’s just it. You keep saying you will do it, but you haven’t yet. Just open the door and let me take care of it.”
“Buffy, request denied.”
“I am a member of this team. I’m not going to stand around and hold a gun that I’m not supposed to use while you get your skull bashed in.”
“Are you going to challenge me on everything?” Riley snapped.
Forest rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall. “Oh lord, here we go again.”
“I’m only going to challenge you when you try to repress me. I’ve been doing this for a long time, Riley. Now open the damn doors.”
Riley swiped his security pass through the panel and punched in several numbers. Buffy moved toward the glass, waiting for it to move aside. As it started to open, she took a deep breath. “When I tell you to give me the needle, give it to me and don’t give me a hard time.”
“Whatever.” Riley turned to look at Forest and said, “Don’t hesitate to use that.”
“I thought that we had to save the skin and-“
The door opened and Buffy slipped inside, eyeing the demon up and down. “We have to move you.”
“Slayer …” It growled, pulling thick jowls away from a long snout.
"I remember you." She stepped closer, eyeing the creature that had gotten away a few weeks before, and said, “Sit down.”
“Make me.” Came the garbled reply.
Buffy kicked out, snapping the creature in the knee. It crumbled onto all fours and tried to bite her, then howled in agony. She sidestepped and sent a foot into his forehead, knowing that the implant would be causing immense pain there already. When the thing cowered into the corner, she shrugged. “Would that qualify as making you?”
She turned and held her hand out, taking the needle from Riley, who said, “Try to inject the neck. On this certain breed, the skin is softest there.”
“Turn your head.” Buffy uncapped the needle and squatted in front of the demon. When it ignored her, she sighed. “Turn it or I’ll turn it for you. Permanently.”
It complied and hissed when she stuck the needle into the gray flesh. She squeezed quickly, emptying the syringe and then stood, putting the lid back over the needle. “Now what?”
“We put the shackles on and see if it can stay awake long enough to walk.” Forest came through the doorway with a set of thick chains and began to work on the demon’s hands.
Buffy gripped the larger set, snapped them around the ankles, and stood. “Get up.”
The demon stood on shaky limbs and swayed back and forth. Riley gripped one arm and began leading them toward an elevator. Buffy walked on the other side of the beast, her mind racing over how angry she was at the way Riley tried to shelter her. She was the Slayer. Capable and strong and –
The demon stumbled and Buffy moved toward it instinctively, trying to keep it upright. The thing raised it’s arms, dropping the chain around her neck and began choking her. She lurched forward, barely registering the orders that Riley was shouting or the fact that she couldn’t breath. Pushing with all her strength, she was able to create enough space to get her head free. She pulled the demon down, crouching and causing it to slump over her. Then she kicked upward, clutching the chain in her hands as she swung out and up. Her body flipped over top of the demon and she dropped behind it. The chains that had been around her neck, were now around the demon's and she twisted hard, snapping the neck as she yanked it off it’s feet.
It fell to the ground lifeless and her eye’s widened. “Oops.”
“Oops?” Riley shouted, pointing at the angry red welts on her neck. “Buffy, that move you just made could have severed your head. And you killed the damn thing!"
“Look on the bright side.” Forest said, putting his arm around Buffy’s shoulders protectively. “At least the demon's skin wasn’t damaged.”
“You guys are-“ Riley shook his head when they both broke into hysterical laughter. “absolutely not as funny as you think.”
“But you like us anyway.” Forest wheezed.
“I like one of you and I tolerate the other.” Riley exhaled loudly and grimaced. “Now, which one of you want to do the paperwork on this one?”
“I think that break you told me to enjoy just started.” Buffy announced, still giggling.
Riley finally had to join them, wondering if his mother would also see the humor in the situation. He doubted she would and he didn’t really care. For the first time that he could ever remember, he was happy and nothing else mattered.
Maggie flipped through the latest test results for Hostile Seventeen and sighed, pushing open the door and looking at him. She had meant to speak with him sooner about what she had read in Hal’s file, but one of the patients in the Infirmary had suffered a bad reaction to treatment. It had taken most of the night to get things back on track. Now she had time though and that was something he didn’t have much more of.
Spike had his head resting on a table and looked like he was sleeping. She nudged him and he sat up, glancing around the small room. She frowned when she got a good look at him and looked away quickly. His face confirmed what the results had indicated. The dark circles, the red bloodshot eyes, the lack of color on his lips, all of it. The implant was working faster than she had expected. She figured that he had been unwilling to accept the fact that he couldn’t harm anyone and had continued to try, causing the implant to work harder. The normal life expectancy was about a week, possibly two, longer than this, but his chip was worn and was already releasing the toxin that would shut down his nervous system.
Spike watched her sit a glass full of blood in front of him and cringed. It was insulting for them to try to appease him now. He could feel the changes inside of him and knew exactly what was going on. “You’re killing me. Don’t try to act like that blood will make me better. I’m dying.”
Walsh didn’t reply for several seconds and then she nodded solemnly. “You are. I was hoping that you’d be willing to talk to me now though.”
“What, deathbed confessions? I was a bad, rude man. You think I won’t try to get even badder now? I have nothing left to lose.” It took all of his will power not to strike out at her. After all, she was here alone with him and no soldier boys were around. Whatever they had done to his head would cause more pain than he could handle right then, so he sat still, trying to move as little as possible.
“Have you ever been to Venice Beach?” Maggie asked softly.
“Hasn’t every freak on the face of the planet?”
“I go every year.”
“It’s fun. People all over the place, women who parade around in their knickers and go to bed with anyone, and demons selling the best spell books you can buy. It’s like Woodstock for demons there.” He groaned a little, nauseated, and lifted the glass to his lips. The blood was cool and definitely belonged to a pig. He swallowed with a loud gulp and pushed it aside again. “Damn nasty shit.”
Maggie glanced at the tablet in front of her and noticed that the vampire Hal mentioned was a brunette. “Do you bleach your hair?”
“You color yours so you should know the answer to that. You should be white headed judging from the crows feet you have.”
“When you were at Venice Beach once, did you encounter someone who stuck a syringe into your leg?”
Taken aback by the question, he looked baffled. “No. I'm pretty sure I would remember that.”
“I think you did.”
“I think at your age your mind begins to play tricks on you.” He rubbed his fingers across his forehead and a growl rumbled from his chest. He felt awful. For most of the night, he had lain awake with thoughts of the Slayer flitting through his mind. He had struggled for hours, wishing he knew what she was doing and trying to convince himself that she was there to save him. Sometime during the night, he had felt something in his head. A snapping sensation that was immediately followed by a dull ache and then dizziness. And he knew that she couldn't save him if she tried.
“Tell me about your sire.” Maggie decided to change the subject and come back to it later. Maybe if she forced him to talk, he would grow tired and let it slip that he was actually the vampire that Hal had injected.
“He’s a prick.”
“Did you want him to change you?”
"Does it matter what I wanted? Here I am."
"Tell me about your life, the mortal one. I want to hear it all."
Spike sighed heavily and glanced at the ceiling. He wanted to curl up someplace and wait for the inevitable with no more intrusions. He had a lot of things to think about and mull over. “Is this my dying gift? You pick my brain apart and tell me why it’s better for me to go?” The woman didn’t reply and he added, “If I tell you what you want to know, will you leave me alone and let me die in peace?”
“Yes. If you answer my questions and stop giving me a hard time, I'll see to it that you are left alone for the remainder of your time."
"Get comfortable. I'm about to tell you a story and the only reason I am telling you is because I know I will never have to tell it again."
This part contains depictions of violence, rape and Spike's changing. I tried to keep it toned down, but it is there. Read at your own risk.
Spike fidgeted, running his fingers along the edge of the table for several seconds before he cleared his throat. “Where do you want me to start? I’m not going to tell this like that soddin’ poof in Interview With The Vampire.”
“Start at the beginning of your life. Tell me about your birth and take me through the years of your youth and don’t stop until I tell you to.” Maggie pulled out a small hand held recorder and put it in her lap. “You broke my good one with your temper tantrum.”
“I was born with a temper in 1850. London was a dark and rancid place back then. I was born on a cold night in December and I think it was the twenty-fourth. Christmas Eve to some. Christmas Day found me bundled up and left inside a Catholic Church on one of the pews. I was shipped to a orphanage almost immediately, save for a few days spent in the hospital overcoming frostbite on my feet. I grew for seven years without feeling a kind hand. We were worked, the children there. We rose at dawn and stayed up long after the sun had gone to sleep, knitting, sewing, earning our keep. And a meager keep it was. Days would pass with only brown water to sustain us. If we cried for food, we were hit and if we collapsed from the hunger, we were put in the boom room. I spent many a day sitting inside the boom room.”
“Boom room?” Maggie urged him to elaborate.
“The walls were metal and it was about four feet wide and three feet tall. When we were punished severely, something that a slap wouldn’t rectify, we were forced inside and the lid was closed. The good children, the ones who were too scared to protest the foul treatment we received, were given metal pipes. For hours they would beat on the outside of the room, too afraid to stop and glad to be doing something other than poking holes through their thumbs with needles. The sound was so loud and horrible, vibrating through you and making you dizzy. It was dark, darker than a starless night and I hated the dark. It terrified me and when I was allowed to leave the boom room, I would try to find a workstation beside a window so I could feel the sun for as long as she would shine.
We were poor. The orphanage couldn’t afford blankets and what bedding there was had holes in the sides and at night, you could feel the rats rustling under your back. My stomach sang me to sleep growling and my stomach woke me up a million times, aching and begging for anything. If you couldn’t sleep because of a bad stomach then that meant you needed a day in the boom room. For seven years I lived inside the same walls, never allowed to go outside. We were a scab on the face of what London was working toward at the time and we were best kept hidden away. If they didn’t see us, see our gaunt little faces and the bellies protruding from hunger, then we didn’t exist. Nothing felt worse than being there and being considered nothing.
Two weeks before my seventh birthday, a man and woman came to the orphanage. They had two daughters and their only boy had passed away a few months before that. He was seven and they desperately wanted a replacement for him. The boys that fit that age group were lined against a wall and told to stand up straight and we scrambled to do it, thinking that this would be our lucky day. Couples had come in before, wanting a boy and I was used to them walking right past me. A hundred times it happened. They’d pass me over and pick the tall boy, the cleaner boy, the boy with the strong arms.
My spindly little legs were shaking when they stopped in front of me. The woman lifted my chin and dampened a hankerchief with her tongue, rubbing my cheeks with it. I never forgot that moment. She smelled clean and good, like a woman should, and I wanted to beg her to pick me. I didn’t have to beg. She saw that I did have rosy cheeks and even though I looked puny and was smaller than the other boys, I would do.
William Lawler was a banker and his wife Agnes lived to serve him and her children. I had a spring in my step when I left that building and stepped into the sun for the first time. The carriage was large and the two little girls were in the back. Oh, how they laughed at my clothes and ratty hair. I looked like a little girl with such long curly hair. Father Lawler shouted for them to quit being mean to their new brother and they leaned their heads together to whisper so he couldn’t hear them. Katharine was ten and Elizabeth was eight. I think I knew right then that I would love her. I can remember her hair, so straight and fine, hanging around her face. She looked like a dream, so delicate in her dress and shiny black shoes and the biggest green eyes you had ever seen.
I became William Lawler the Second and we settled into a new town, where no one knew that I was adopted. Father Lawler took his job at a new bank and I attended school, a constant source of agony for me. Elizabeth was in my class, having been held back a year because of sickness, and the only thing that got me through those days was her hair. She accepted me straight away. They all did, but she made sure I was happy. Her bread at the supper table always found it’s way onto my plate and she would whisper, “Eat it, William. You’re so small.”
We always had enough and I had blankets on my bed and shiny shoes on my feet and was allowed to go play with other boys. I rarely did, though. I wanted to stay around Elizabeth and her yellow hair. Father Lawler was always being invited to fancy parties and Mother Lawler always refused to go, claiming that putting on airs was the devil’s work. He would always tell her that the whole world was damned and he may as well be damned and handsome at the same time.
Time turned into years and soon I was fifteen. Elizabeth’s bread on my plate kept coming and it was right around that time that I noticed her plate was always full when dinner ended. She would slide her bread to me and then lift her fork to stab at her food. I really looked at her one night, where she was sitting in front of the fireplace and I saw that she was sick. Father Lawler announced that he was taking Elizabeth to a hospital over ten miles away and they would leave in a week. Ten miles back then meant two days of travel at least.
The night before they left, Lizzy came to me and asked me to walk with her to the stables to say good-bye to her horse. I watched her stroke his face and she was crying when she explained to me that she wouldn’t be coming back. She had seen the Angel of Death in a vision and it told her not to be scared. Quite a lovely woman at sixteen, she turned to me and pulled me into her embrace, telling me that I wasn’t her real brother and she couldn’t die without showing me that she loved me.
Right there in the barn, lying atop the dirt and the hay, I loved her completely. Not caring about sin or damnation. The next day she apologized for leaving me and told me that if she had not gotten sick, we would have run away together and married. I watched the carriage pull her away and she was on her knees, staring back at me. The last time I saw her, the sun was making the tears on her cheeks glisten and her hair, her beautiful flowing hair was blowing back toward me. Waving good-bye.
Katharine seemed to enjoy her absence and made a big deal about all the space she had in their room now. I ruined it for her by going in as much as I could to lift Lizzy’s brush or her pillow. I’d rifle through her things, stroke her doll’s faces and wait patiently for her to return and prove that the Angel of Death had been mistaken. I’d thumb through the books that we had read to one another and go to our favorite spot in the woods and talk to her.
The Angel of Death is never wrong. I waited at the end of our road on the day Father Lawler was returning and my heart sank when I only saw him riding atop the wagon. He stopped and asked me to climb on and I did. I saw the wooden coffin lying in the back and he had to support me to keep me from falling over with shock and grief. We stayed there together, sitting at the end of the road, and he told me that the only thing that kept him going was the fact that he still had a son. I pleaded with him to show me her body, to let me see that she was really lifeless. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t just sleeping and would accidentally be buried alive.
We had to leave her in the barn overnight and when everyone had gone to bed, I slipped out and sat beside her. She was still up in the wagon, waiting to be taken to the cemetery. I could smell the death and decay. Back then they tried to get people in the ground as quick as possible and didn’t have any fancy embalming machines. It was horrible. She had left smelling like roses and came back smelling dead. I used a hammer and pulled the lid loose. I moved it aside and forgot all about the smell. There she was, wearing her favorite white dress. She had wanted that style in red, but Mother Lawler claimed that red was the devil’s work. Her hair was hanging over her shoulders and she was blue. Her lips, her face, her hands.
I reached inside and put my hand on her cheek, whispering that I would never love anyone again. I cursed God and I cursed my family and I cursed myself. For the entire night I waited, shooing away the flies and finally, with tears streaming down my face, I hammered the lid back on. It was the hardest thing I had ever done to pull that lid back across and hide her from my view forever. I memorized every detail and when the sun rose, I pretended to have been outside washing up and went to get dressed.
The day we buried her, my life became a hell in more ways than one. All of Father Lawler’s attention turned to me and I was forced to study more, work harder and become a scholar. I was content to lie in my bed all day and remember the past, but he wasn't about to raise a lout. He chose my friends, making sure they were the highest society and forced me to put on airs, for which I felt damned. I was cursed for deflowering my sister, even though I was adopted, and I was cursed for being such a bad child that my real mother didn’t want me to begin with.
I discovered ale at the pub with these high-class friends when I was seventeen. Soon, I could be found lying in alleyways by the townspeople who would shout, “Lord help the Lawler’s, it’s their drunkard son William, lying here disgracing his family again.”
I wanted to disgrace them. I wanted to disgrace them all for letting Elizabeth go. Katharine was ashamed of me and moved away, marrying a merchant. I wasn’t allowed to go to the wedding for fear that I would lie down drunk and disgrace the groom’s family and not just my own anymore. Soon, my parents gave up hope and left me alone, figuring an orphan like me just had a bad mind. They loved me, they told me that, but I didn't care.
I was twenty-five when my world fell apart. My mother had died when I was twenty-two and my father seemed to cling to me then, scared to live alone. I gave him every reason to ask me to leave, but he didn’t. Couldn’t. Just as I had turned to ale, he turned to women, whoring himself out and no longer caring about his social snobbery. The bank fired him, we had to move to a rat-infested tomb that rivaled the orphanage for filth, but I was content. I had started to hang out with the pickpockets and beggars, feeling more at home than I had since Lizzy’s death.
I was a regular street urchin and then Angelus and his childe, Drusilla, blew into town. She, this beautiful and almost childlike woman, bewitched my father. He would accompany me to the pub and stare at her, long for her, and I could see that she was aware of his adoration. She basked in it, making sure she got to touch him and tempt him as much as possible.
I wasn’t impressed with her. She wore impossibly snobbish clothing and walked around like a cat, slithering from one man to the other. He was always there, this Angelus, watching her with a smile that curved his lips only slightly. Women fell all over him, begging for a dance or more, but he had eyes only for her.
Then one day I saw his eyes on me and I was scared, terrified by what I saw in his face. Looking back at it, I can say that he was like the King Cobras that they show on documentaries, pinning their prey in a deadly gaze before they strike. One look at him and I felt the blood drain from my face. I knew. I knew that he was different. For three weeks it was the same. If I went out at night, he was there. Standing on street corners, lurking in the shadows of the pub and always, he watched me. I stopped going to the pub altogether, afraid that he would be there.
Then, one night I came home and Dru stood nude in the kitchen and my father was on his knees in front of her doing things that would guarantee him a spot in hell. Angelus was sitting at the table, flipping through Elizabeth’s books, and he smiled when he saw me. “Ah, young William.”
The accent was Irish and he stood, offering me his hand. He seemed impassive to what was happening a few feet from us, while I was tempted to run. My father stood and told me that I was to show Angelus around the town in exchange for the company of Drusilla. I said no immediately and my father’s fist flew. The first time he had ever struck me was right then, with a naked woman at his side and a man who terrified me hovering over us.
Angelus grabbed his hand before he could hit me again and shoved him away. He says, “If you strike this boy again, I will kill you.”
I wasn’t a boy. I was twenty-five but I didn’t say a word. Angelus insisted that I begin showing him the town that night and pulled me from the house. His hands were cold on my arm and I shivered, feeling like he had reached through me and iced me over.” Spike paused, as if reliving the moment and closed his eyes.
Maggie watched him closely and said, “You tell this with such detail. I’ve never heard a vampire tell his stories this way.”
“I said I would tell it once. I might as well tell every bit of it.” The pain in Spike's head intensified and he brought the glass of blood to his lips again, taking a deep swallow before he continued. “We walked slowly and he never took his eyes off of me once. I don’t think I breathed one time as we headed down the alleyway that led to the center of town. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was expecting something. His presence, his demeanor, all of it put me on the defensive. I was shaking by the time we made it to the pub. I pointed it out, telling him that this was really all there was to see that time of night and he had already seen it for weeks. He pulled me around the corner and says to me, ‘I’m going to go into the alley right there, William. You go inside and bring a pretty girl out here.’
I wasn’t a fool. I knew what happened to pretty girls in alleys. I shook my head no and started back toward my house. His grip was like some sort of trap on my arm and I yelled out. He turned me to face him and I screamed. His face, oh, his face was terrifying. Gold eyes had replaced the brown ones and his forehead was wrinkled. Pointy teeth had grown from blunt ones and he seemed bigger to me. I think I would have had a heart attack if I had been able to register what I was actually seeing. I thought I was looking into the face of the Angel of Death.
And so help me, I was.
His voice was deeper, his accent thicker, when he spoke again. "You get inside there and bring someone out unless you want me to kill you, William."
All I could do was nod and he smiled at me, motioning me inside and I burst through the doors. I began to shout, "Help me, oh lord in heaven, the Angel of Death is upon us."
People laughed at me, accusing me of having too many spirits. I begged them to believe me. I begged them all to come with me and see for themselves. I wanted them all to come and protect me. No one budged and I began to cry. I felt a hand on my face and glanced up. A girl, no more than eighteen, wiped my face and said, "Show me. I believe you."
I begged her not to walk out the door. I pleaded with her to stay inside, but out she went. He grabbed her the second she made it past the doorway and covered her mouth. I trailed them, wondering if I could overpower him and tried not to hear the muffled screams coming from the girl. He pulled her into a cemetery at the back of a church and threw her on the ground, turning his feral eyes toward me. "You did good, William. Such a fresh, lovely flower."
I watched him grab a handful of her pale hair and pull her to her knees, then to her feet. He whispered, ‘What is your name, child?’
‘Elizabeth.’ She was bawling, staring at me and pleading with her eyes. I trembled from my head to my feet, feeling like this girl was my Elizabeth and I had to help her.
‘Have you ever been touched, Elizabeth?’ His hand moved to her throat and I saw him squeeze a little.
‘Touched?’ She cried even louder as he pinched her neck. ‘You’re touching me, sir.’
‘Such innocence.’ He crooned, leaning down and licking the tears off of her face. ‘Such sweet, sweet fear.’ Then his hands moved fast, ripping her skirt from her body. His grabbed her between the legs and pulled her knickers off the same way, tearing them at the seams and causing her to scream. She was naked from the waist down and he ran his palm over her newly exposed flesh. ‘Have you ever been touched here?’
Realization hit her, as much realization as the women were allowed to have back then, and she pleaded, begging him not to hurt her. I joined her, asking him to let her go. He seemed shocked and said, ‘William, I thought so much better of you. Are you a man?’
‘Yes, Angelus. I am a man and a man will defend a woman’s honor.’ I stepped forward and reached for her. ‘Let her go.’ I said, my voice betraying me and sounding weaker than I would have liked.
He laughed at me and says, ‘Ah, William, will you take her place?’
I nodded slowly, not realizing what I was agreeing to. He shoved the girl forward and she tripped, hitting her head on a piece of headstone and I tried to go to her. Halfway past him, Angelus grabbed me and pulled my mouth to his. It was a shock and I pushed fiercely against him, struggling the way the girl had done. His face was still deformed and I’m trying to scream and can’t get enough breath because he’s crushing me.
I feel his hands on my belt and try to fight harder. I’ve never felt strength like his. I find myself tossed across a headstone on my stomach and my britches pulled down. He shames me, causes me more pain and agony than I have ever felt. I had only ever known of sex with a man a woman, sex with only my Elizabeth, but I feel like I deserve this. I am being punished for cursing the Gods and shaming my family with ale and falling in love with my sister. I prayed loudly, reciting tidbits my mother had made me learn in the bible. The pain is so powerful, I think that I’m going to die and recite the Lord’s Prayer under my breath.
It seemed to excite him more and by the time his climax had come and gone, I was too weak and sore to move. I rolled off of the headstone and clawed at the ground, trying to find something to strike out at him with. I find a rock and turn and he had the girl gripped in his arms and his teeth buried in her neck. Blood was dripping from his mouth, running down the front of her dress and I stumbled forward. He let her drop to the ground and ran his hand across his mouth like she was nothing.
‘You said I took her place.’ I yell, throwing the rock.
‘Oh, you did.’ He caught the rock in his hand and tossed it up and down. ‘You would be the one dead if she had not been here. See, I had wanted a new girl, Dru bores me so, but now, I think I’ll keep you.’ He starts toward me and I run, pulling my pants up as I go. I can hear him behind me, not running, but not letting me get far enough away that I can’t hear his voice echoing through the night. He called to me, singing my name.
I have to get home. I get a stitch in my side and clutch it as I run, limping and stumbling. I slam open the door and finally find the breath to scream. My father, what is left of him, is lying on the table. Drusilla is perched on his face, pulling stuff from the wound in his chest and dropping it onto the floor. I vomit, gripping my stomach, and she slinks toward me, every inch of her covered in blood.
The horses are in the barn and I move fast, running toward it. I mount and fly out the door, bareback and still in pain. Angelus grabs my ankle and I topple off the side. He’s on me in an instant, covering my body with his. ‘Please, please.’ I screamed, sounding very much like the girl that Katharine said I looked like as a child. I think I was begging him to let me live, but now I know I was begging him to let me die.
My dignity had been stripped, my family lost, and when he leaned down and pierced my throat, I welcomed it. I welcomed death. I felt myself start to slip away and I see Elizabeth. She beckons me, calling my name in a field of wildflowers. I see my mother sitting in the parlor reading her bible. I see my father telling me that I made him proud. I see Elizabeth again, wearing a red dress like she had always wanted and she isn’t damned for it.
Then I see dark.
Something wrapping around my cock wakes me up and I look down to see Dru’s head bobbing up and down between my legs. Angelus has a goblet and is sitting at our feet, watching closely. He raises his cup to me and says, ‘Welcome, my childe.’
The hunger is deep, reminiscent of the hunger back in the orphanage, but I don’t beg. I push Dru aside and rise, powerful and aware of every sound and sensation around me. I can hear the hearts beating in the hotel rooms, I can smell the perfume that the ladies spray on their breasts, I can taste the crimson life that Angelus fed me to bring me back and I smile. Dru rakes her nails down my back and says, ‘Someone is hungry.’
‘Tonight we feast.’ Angelus declares and hands me a box with new clothes in it. I put on airs and don’t feel bad. Guilt is gone. I no longer care that Elizabeth is dead or that my father died. I regret not taking a stab at that girl in the cemetery and I am mad at myself for running away from this. From this release.
I feast. I think that I somehow enjoy it more than Angelus does and he takes pride in my gluttony, deriving pleasure from watching me. He shows me things, ways to invent new tortures and together, we wipe out half the village before the three of us leave.
Dru’s attention turns to me more and more. I can’t deny her as Angelus does. He will coddle her one minute and strike out at her the next, uncaring that she is so fragile. I care. I hated her when I first saw her, hated her sexuality and her demented ramblings and now, with the darkness that surrounds me, she shines and draws me in. I don’t long for daylight, I don’ t long for anything except her.
Years go by and we travel all over Europe. Serbia feels our rage for years and eventually we find our way to Romania. So many years have gone by and I learn from Angelus daily, striving to be as revered as he is one day. I want to step out of his shadow and be the one that everyone looks at when we walk into a room. He dominates it, his height, his shoulders and I want that. I am powerful, but the only time I feel powerful is in Dru’s arms. She lets me be a man. Angelus treats me as a son, his plaything.
Romania intrigues us and we stay for a while. Angelus goes to hunt one night, leaving Drusilla and me alone. We make the most of it, exploring one another more thoroughly than Angelus allows. The night vanishes quickly and soon we realize day has come and our sire, our teacher, our father, if you will, has not returned.
All day we wait, alternating between worry and speculation. I want to have the chance to thank him for making me. To thank him for showing me the way. Night comes and then day and then night again. Ducks and me are feeding less and less, trying not to be obvious. Months past and she pulls into herself, won’t talk to me, won’t do much of anything anymore. I do hear her talk to that wretched doll that Angelus had bought her a few years before.
Dru gets visions, telling me that Angelus isn’t dead, but he is gone forever. Finally, I can stay no more in that town with it’s soddin’ memories and my hopes that he will walk through our door. We journey to Prague and she comes alive again, letting me step into the role as master even though she is my elder. We make names for ourselves, me because of my fascination with railroad spikes and her because of her visions. We create a league of minions who do our bidding and wreak havoc forever.
Word comes to us that Angelus has gone to America and that something has happened. He no longer hunts and kills people. Dru and me get ready to see this for ourselves and we celebrate the prospect of finding him again on what is to be our last night in Prague.”
“Excuse me? No longer kills people?” Maggie interrupted, sitting the tape recorder on the desk. “What do you mean?”
“Can I get there in order please?” Spike stretched a little. “I need to tell it like it happened.”
“Fine, go on.”
“Something happens though, we get mobbed and Dru was almost bled dry. I find her lying in the street, her head damp with her own blood and do what I can to nurse her back to health.
For so many endless years, it’s just me and Dru. Me feeding her, cleaning her, talking to her when she was too weak to even hear me. Nineteen sixty comes. Dru is able to walk and talk and eat without my help and she hears that America is the best place to be. We stow away on a cargo ship, alternating between feeding on people and feeding on rats to keep our identities a secret. Half of the people on board the boat are American and by now, America has become fascinated with horror films and vampires in particular.
New York looms on the horizon and despite the chill, we stand on the deck and watch monstrous buildings and more lights than we’ve ever seen get closer and closer. Ah, it’s wonderful. Food is everywhere and we meet people who tell us about Angelus. We travel more, going all over the states searching for him. The night that he had gone out to hunt, leaving Dru and me alone, he had fed on a Romany gypsy girl. Oh, she was supposedly a beautiful young thing, promising with the magicks and worshipped by her clan. Angelus gets caught with his pants around his ankles and his teeth buried in her throat. The elders despise him and conjure up a special brand of punishment. They restore his soul and turn him into a big old whiny douche bag with fangs. Oh, he still has to eat, but he brown bags it like this.” Spike pointed at the glass on the table and then stared at Maggie’s stunned face. “Pretty wild, huh? The bloody wanker was in New York just weeks before we arrived and we were hot on his trail, always too late to catch him.
Dru handles it poorly and withdraws even more as more time passes. I handle it by going to pubs, only it’s called a club in America, and I get drunk. Then one night, I go out to the beach and sit there, watching the moon dance across the water-“
Maggie jumped a little, and glanced at her tablet. Hal had said that the demon at Venice Beach stared at the moon and the water. She didn’t interrupt him though.
“And I cry. For the first time since the night that I was changed I cried. I cried as much as I had cried for Elizabeth. I cried as much as I had for myself. I cried like a baby. I wanted my sire back. I kept thinking, ‘how dare he?’. Every tear that fell made me more aware of what I had been in life. I realized that, even though a demon lived in me, I still knew love. I loved Dru and I loved my sire and I hated him too. When I was first turned, he told me to prey on only the weak. He had broken that rule and got himself spayed.” Spike took a gulp of blood. He couldn’t tell the part about Buffy sleeping with Angel and him coming back. He couldn’t tell the part about his own feelings for Buffy either. “That’s pretty much it. Dru eventually left me for a Chaos demon and I came here to torment the Slayer.”
“It’s fun. She’s a spry little devil, knows just what she wants and how to get it.”
“You said that you cried and felt love. Did your old feelings come back to you at all? The feelings of remorse and hurt for the loss of Elizabeth?”
“Yes. Why do you think my hair is this color? I can’t see it, but at least I know that I have someone on me that was like her. She was back to being a part of me. She invaded my thoughts. Her tiny little body, her long blonde hair and piercing green eyes. She could see right into my-“ Spike paused, a brief picture of Elizabeth filtering through his mind. It took him a second to realize that he was seeing Buffy. Buffy with longer hair and a long skirt on. Buffy with a piece of bread in her hand, offering it to him. Buffy in the hay, telling him to love her like she had always wanted.
“Spike?” Maggie put a hand out and pressed against his arm.
He jumped, pulled from the reverie. “You promised me. I told you my tale and you promised me I could die alone.”
“Did someone shove a needle into your leg at Venice Beach in nineteen eighty-five?”
“No.” Spike replied convincingly. Even though someone had done that very thing. The beach that he had cried on had actually been Venice Beach and it was after the injection. Whatever was in that shot is what made his emotions flood through him. As time passed, they were less prominent, but he never forgot the way it felt either. Something told him that if he confessed, he would be subjected to more tests, and he was tired. Spike was ready to see the Angel of Death for real or Demon of Death in his case. “Please, let me go now.”
“If it was you on that beach and you tell me, I can give you more time. I can keep giving you more time.”
“I’m ready to go and it wasn’t me.”
Maggie nodded slowly and pulled a walkie-talkie from her pocket. “Team One, this is command, over?”
Riley’s voice crackled and he replied, “Team one to command, over?”
“I have another Hostile ready for the chamber. You won’t need a tranquilizer. We’re on level two in the debriefing room, over?”
“Copy that request. Team one to report to level two debriefing room. Hostile for chamber, over?”
“Over.” Professor Walsh stood up and kneeled in front of the vampire. “I have one more question.”
“Where is your sire now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is he alive?”
Spike smiled. “To my knowledge, he has not been alive for over two hundred years.”
Maggie chuckled a little, remembering when he said those exact words to her before. “I could speed the process of your death, Spike. I could end it right now.”
“No, please.” He shook his head and then leaned it against the table. “I have a lot to think about.”
~ And a Slayer to talk to one last time. I will last that long, I will. ~
Buffy climbed out of the chamber behind Forest and memorized where the access was. It was the exact same tunnel that she had gone past the night that she found the twelve Roses. The demons that she had seen that night were dying. The Initiative threw them down there and gave them food until they passed away and then they took the bodies through the tunnels to do autopsies on them. She had not been able to see very much of it, but what she did see proved to her that she could get Spike and make her way back to the crypt in the cemetery without being caught. He was bound to be sent down there sooner or later and by then, she should know everything she needed to know about saving him.
Orders had come a few minutes before and they were to get another Hostile and take him to chamber. Buffy was excited, looking forward to having the opportunity to ask a few more questions. Riley and Forest were talking to one another about a party that night and she tuned them out for the time being, staring at the monitors on the main floor. If everyone was having a vacation, then it was possible that the cameras in the chamber would not be activated. She could sneak back in and try to figure out what was happening at the infirmary and try to steal a couple of seconds with Spike. Alone. Her security pass had not been cleared, but she wouldn't need it now. Riley had not used his code to open the chamber.
“Buffy?” Riley tapped her on the arm and she turned, jumping a little. “So, are you coming?”
“Coming?” She followed them to the elevator and stepped inside, trying to wrap her mind around what he was asking her.
“To the party.” Riley punched a number in and then looked back at her. “The one we’ve been talking about for ten minutes.”
“Oh, the party. I don’t know. I didn’t sleep well last night and was kind of hoping for a really long nap.” It wasn’t a lie. She had not slept at all and she was hoping for a nap, but that didn’t mean she was going to have one. The sewers still needed to be patrolled.
Riley’s face fell and he sighed. "Well, if you're tired then you should get some rest.”
“I’ll definitely try to come.” She smiled as the doors opened and then her world fell apart.
Spike was leaning against the wall right next to the doorway of the debriefing room. He looked up when he saw them coming and closed his eyes, unable to look at Buffy for fear that he would reach out to her. Maggie began speaking and he forced himself to listen and not think about the Slayer. “Spike’s chip is working faster than we anticipated. Please put him at the end of the chamber, away from the other demons, and see to it that he has fresh blood dropped to him every two hours.”
Buffy’s hands were shaking and she only half listened to Riley asking why Walsh was handling the Hostile without backup. She stared at Spike, biting back the tears that were burning the backs of her eyes. He looked almost dead. His eyes seemed to have sunk back into his head and his lips were solid white and cracked open in several places. She watched Riley grip his arm and pull him along, brushing past her. ~ God, please don’t let this be happening. I’m not ready. I’m not prepared. ~
Inside the elevator, Riley and Spike stood against the back wall and Buffy stood in front of Spike. Forest was talking about the party again and Riley was laughing at something he was saying. Buffy stepped back slightly, barely moving and reached behind her, trying to find Spike’s hand. The doors opened and she swore slightly, forced to step through without getting the chance to reassure him.
Within minutes, they were on the way down into the chamber and Buffy realized that she needed to ask some very important questions. Clearing her throat, she approached it casually, “I hope that I never have to be the one sitting out here staring at these monitors all day. Watching these demons die would be really boring.”
Riley shook his head. “No one really monitors them, at least not these. Once the Hostiles go down, there’s really no need to worry about what they’re doing.”
Forest chuckled and added, “It’s not like they can get loose and even if they did, they’re dead.”
“Who will be here to feed the demons since everyone is on break?” Buffy’s eyes met Spike’s and she pleaded with him to see what she was doing. ~ I’m asking because I plan on coming back! Please see that! ~ As soon as the sun went down, she would get Angel and they would come through the entrance at the cemetery and get him out. For the time he had left, he would be aboveground and would not die alone. Of that, she was certain. If he died, he would die with her or she would die trying.
“There will be a couple of techs around and I’ll be filling out the feeding schedule” Riley motioned for Buffy and Forest to go down the ladder into the chamber and then pushed Spike through the hole.
Spike climbed down clumsily, almost falling, and Buffy gripped him, squeezing his hand as she did. His eyes shot to hers as Riley climbed down and she shook her head slightly, telling him not to make a move. Forest pointed to the end of the tunnel, to the set of chains that had held the big glob of a demon that had seen her the night she had walked past. She watched as Riley secured the chains and then mouthed, “I will be back.”
Barely nodding, Spike slumped to the ground, his arms above his head. If she would be back, then he had a reason to wait. He watched the black boy go up the ladder and saw Buffy follow, saying that she had to go home soon. Closing his eyes, he fell into sleep easily and for once, was too weak to dream.
Buffy followed Forest to the table in a daze and watched him go over the names of the people who would remain in town. Her mind was unable to compute everything that had just happened in the past few minutes. Spike was dying faster than they thought. He was in the tunnel and she could save him that night. He was chained with large chains. He was dying. At that very moment, his time was almost up. She took a pen and added her own name to the list, then looked at Riley, anxious to get away and set the rescue plan into motion. “I was supposed to speak to Maggie before I left.”
“Okay, give me a few minutes to fill out the feeding schedule for the Chamber and I’ll take you. She’s probably up at the Infirmary.”
Buffy chewed her lower lip and said, “It’s okay. I know how to get there.”
“You’ll have to use the stairs. Your elevator pass isn’t activated yet.” He nodded to Forest, who had moved to the other side of the room and was slipping his jacket on. “Want Forest to take you?”
“Nah. He said he was going up top to take a nap. I’ll be fine. What better way to learn the place than walk it myself?” She kept her smile plastered on her face and gave him a quick peck on the lips. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Will you be around here?”
“I’ll be here or in the locker room. I’m going to go ahead and shower while you’re gone.” He kissed her forehead and pointed at the corridors. “You’d be better off going down the Implanting Aisle. That staircase is closest to the Infirmary.”
“Gotcha.” She turned and walked away, feeling his eyes on her. Part of her, the part that wanted to be secure and have a healthy relationship, basked in the way he so obviously adored her. Another part of her, the part that wanted danger and a challenge, wanted Spike so badly she couldn’t stand it. Maybe Spike wouldn’t want her when it came down to it. She had not even considered that. ~ No, I can’t think that way. He will want me. He will want me like I want him and I am going to save him. ~
Right at that moment, her top priority was to somehow get into the Implanting Room and steal an implant. She could give it to Willow and let her play with it and see what she could do. If anyone could mess with it and stop it, Willow could. Buffy walked slowly, eyeing the various demons in their cells. Several stood and watched her make her way past and she shuddered, the sight of them being so helpless giving her a chill.
Buffy walked straight past the Implanting Room and stepped through the door of the stairwell. If anyone was watching her, they would think she was on her way to the next level and go about their business. Counting to thirty, she cracked the door a little and peeked out. She could see back up the corridor and no one was around. The blinds were closed to the room and she figured if someone was in there, she would simply apologize for walking in and tell them she was lost.
Darting across the hallway, she turned the knob and poked her head inside. It was empty. The bed that she had seen the vampire lying on had been stripped and pushed into one corner. The only light came from the various glowing power switches on the sides of the equipment. She squinted and saw a supply closet in the corner and made her way to it. It squeaked loudly when she opened it and she bit her lower lip, looking back at the doorway. ~ Please don’t let me get caught. ~
When no one burst through the door, Buffy scanned the various trays that contained instruments that she had never seen before. She didn’t see anything that looked like an implant and shut the doors with a sigh. Moving toward the cabinets over the sink, she noticed a wooden box that almost looked like an antique jewelry box. She paused and opened the doors, gasping when she saw several tiny drawers. Leaning close, she squinted at the labels and smiled. There were several different kinds of implants: universal, vampire, and sea dwelling topped the first row.
Moving fast, she plucked out two universals and three vampire models, unsure of which one Spike would have. They were tiny and each one rested inside a small bag that sealed at the top. She leaned down and stuffed them into her sock before she started toward the door again. Voices could be heard directly on the other side of the door and she scanned the room. There was a bathroom in the corner and she dashed for it, almost tripping over a pile of cables as she went.
Riley opened the door and flipped the light on, looking for some paperwork that had somehow vanished between the implanting area and the main office. He moved everything, checking the trash, lifting the tool trays and finally sighed, wondering when he would actually get the chance to shower. Rubbing a hand through his hair, he moved toward the restroom, intent on washing his face and hands at least. Turning the knob, he found it locked and knocked. “Hello?”
Buffy was leaning against the sink and she capped a hand over her mouth, wondering if he had followed her and had seen what she was doing. Giving herself a couple of seconds to concoct a lie, she flushed the toilet and opened the door.
Riley stared at her a second and said, “What are you doing in here?”
“I went to the top level and couldn’t find Professor Walsh. I came back down and saw that the restrooms all had urinals and asked some guy where another bathroom was. He sent me in here.” Buffy bit her lower lip and did the only thing she could think to do to keep from explaining any further. She moved toward him, prissing a little, and ran her hands over his chest, telling herself that it was for Spike. “But I’m here and you’re here and we’re alone. Finally.”
“Why, Agent Summers, my thoughts exactly.” His hands slid around her waist and he leaned down, kissing her neck. She smelled like flowers and something he could only identify as Buffy; strong and powerful and delicate and sweet. Smiling, he moved from her neck to her jaw and then to the other side of her neck, nipping playfully.
She arched into him, urging him to go on and he did, lifting her and sitting her on the countertop. Hooking one heel behind his leg, Buffy pulled his body to hers and scooted closer to him. Her crotch rubbed against his lower stomach and he moved his hands down to her hips, holding her even tighter against him. Their kisses intensified, drawing out longer and deepening as their breathing quickened. Hands roamed, kneading toned flesh and rubbing against the most intimate places, going further and faster than either had anticipated.
Riley pulled away and stared down at her, stared at the cleavage that was poking out of the top of her running shirt, and forced himself to say what he was thinking. “We need to stop.”
“Stop?” Buffy ran her hand through her hair and squirmed uncomfortably. Despite the reasons she had for starting the whole thing, it had still effected her. Her body was screaming for him to keep touching her and she despised herself for it. ~ What is wrong with me? I should have stopped it right off the bat! ~
“I care about you, Buffy. I’m not going to make love to you on a countertop in a place surrounded by demons. When I make love to you I want it to be in a bed where you can fall asleep in my arms and I can wake up with you.” Riley leaned against her, burying his face in her neck and exhaled, doubting that he would be able to walk for a week.
Buffy wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. He could not possibly know what it would mean to her to hear him say that he wanted to be there with her when she woke up. Her heart pounded against her chest and she sighed softly. “I understand.”
Riley leaned back and was stunned to see her watery eyes. He had not intended to hurt her feelings. “I want you, Buffy, but not like this. I want to be able to take my time with you and do it right. We can’t do that here.”
She felt a tear slide down her cheek and brushed it away absently, unsure of where it was stemming from. It was all too much. Spike was dying and here she was being moved by Riley’s kindness when she was supposed to have been using him all along. “I know. It’s just that- no one has ever said anything so sweet to me. I want to wake up with you too.”
Looking incredibly relieved, Riley pulled her into his arms and lifted her, setting her on her feet. The door opened suddenly and Maggie paused, staring at them intently. “What are-?” When both of them turned ten shades of red, she held up a hand. “Never mind, please, never mind. Buffy, we’ll have to reschedule the meeting I was hoping to have with you. I do want to hear about the school, but something’s come up.”
“It’s okay.” Buffy replied, not meeting her eyes. “I should get home anyway.”
“I’ll call you.” Maggie gave a small smile and looked at her son. “And Riley, find that paperwork sometime today.” ~ Or none of us will live to see Christmas. ~ she added silently, hoping that the look she was giving him would speak volumes.
“I will.” He stared at the floor, missing the urgency in his mother's face, until Maggie closed the door and left them alone.
“Well, that was very uncomfortable.” Buffy said, looking up at Riley. “I’ve never been more uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable,” He pointed at the bulge in the front of his pants and blushed again. “remind me to tell you about uncomfortable sometime.”
Willow was sitting on the floor in Buffy’s living room when the Slayer bounded through the door. She moved her laptop quickly and stood, meeting her halfway. “Buffy, what’s going on? I can’t access any of the Initiative’s files anymore. I keep getting this weird message on my screen. Something is definitely wrong.”
Buffy stopped walking and sat down on the foot of the stairs to slip her shoes off. “I don’t know. Maggie said something about them shutting down in a couple of days for Y2K work. She didn’t say anything about today though.”
“I think I was onto something. There’s a secondary mainframe that I was able to hack through it and found some pretty weird reports. I didn’t get to download anything though because the right clicking feature was disabled there.” Willow nodded toward the living room and led the way. She picked up her laptop and turned it so that Buffy could see the diagram on the screen. “I was able to find the programming for the implants. The design and features are absolutely amazing. The poison that they’ve built into the implant continues to regenerate itself by feeding off the vampire’s DNA. That’s why it takes so long to kill it. The chips are small and they wouldn’ t be able to put in enough poison, but once the chip breaks and the toxin is released, it gets stronger and stronger as it mixes with more blood. I wish I could-“
“Have one?” Buffy asked, reaching into her sock and pulling out the five small bags. “I brought you three vampire and two universal ones. That way you have a small margin of error. Find out how to destroy them because Spike is coming out tonight.”
Willow almost dropped her laptop and quickly shoved it back onto the coffee table, standing up so she could pace. “How did you get these?”
“I walked straight into the room that they keep them in and took them.” Buffy shrugged. “Spike was moved today. The chip is working faster than we thought it would. I know how to get down to where he is and get him out without any problem.”
“When do we go?” Willow asked, eyeing her with excitement.
“We don’t. I do.” Buffy saw her friend’s face fall and pulled her onto the couch. “Willow, I can’t even begin to tell you how dangerous this is.”
“Which is why you can’t go alone. These people make poisons that are so unbelievable and –“ Willow stopped talking and stared at the implants in her hand. “Buffy, slayer blood helped Angel when he was poisoned. It cured him. And this toxin is blood based just like the other one was.”
Buffy’s eyes widened and she leaned forward. “You don’t think-“
“The poisons aren’t the same. I know that much for certain. Look, it’s unlikely that it would even work. I shouldn’t have suggested-”
“We’ll try it as a last resort. You figure out how to stop the implants from releasing more poison. Actually, find out how to get it out of his head completely. And if you can't, he feeds.” She stood up and started out of the room. “And don’t tell Giles what’s happening.”
"Giles has to know about this. He deserves to know!" Willow shook her head. “I don’t know if I can even do anything with these implants and you can’t go underground alone. Not with so much happening, Buffy. I mean, it’s dangerous enough without the-”
“Angel’s in town. He said he would help me.”
Willow looked confused and then squealed a little. “You have Riley falling all over you and Spike on the brain and now Angel thrown into the mix? This is ridiculous. This is dangerous and this is stupid. Buffy, you are insane! Angel could get captured by the-”
“I *am* insane! This whole thing has driven me completely crazy.” Buffy’s voice rose several octaves. “Now I’m asking you to help me, Will. I don’t need to hear all the reasons it might not work because I don’t care. I have to try because it’s Spike. That’s the only reason I need.”
Willow nodded, biting back the tears that threatened to pour down her face. She had probably caused this with the spell that made Buffy and Spike fall for each other. It had to still be working. Buffy would never put Angel at risk like this if she was thinking clearly. “I won’t tell.” she lied, holding her chin up defiantly. “But you damn well better come back here safe.”
“Thank you.” Buffy sighed a little and glanced at the clock. “I’m going to lie down for a while.”
“Buffy?” Spike slid the rose over her cheek and then dipped it lower, brushing down her neck and over her hardening nipples. He lay beside her, her head cradled in the crook of his arm, and he smiled when she opened her eyes.
Buffy arched upward, against the flower and wrapped her arms around him, pulling his mouth to hers. His chest was bare and she ran her hands down his back, feeling the tight muscles just below the skin. Exploring lower, she found his bare hips and pulled away, propping herself on her elbow. Spike was naked, just like she was, and he grinned when she blushed and pulled her back into his arms.
His touch was slow, rhythmic, and steady as he prowled over her flesh. Her first responses were tentative, almost afraid, and he calmed her with soft words whispered in her ear. One of his thighs moved between hers and his mouth captured a swollen nipple, rolling it with his tongue. She moaned, twining her fingers in his hair and begged him not to stop. Every inch of her skin came alive under his touch and every caress seemed to go on and on.
“No more stopping. No more time.” Came his soft reply as he slid his hand over the smooth curve of her stomach and dipped between her legs.
Buffy cried out, spreading herself wider for his touch, and touch her he did. His fingers, long and cool, slid into her folds, tracing her velvety lines and she shuddered with pleasure. Moving in slow motion, he dropped kisses down her chest, down her stomach and pulled his hand free, replacing it with his mouth.
She pushed upward against his face as his tongue flicked across her sensitive flesh, his mouth molding to her. He gripped the backs of her thighs, pushing her legs toward her chest so he could devour her thoroughly and moved faster, covering all of her. Within seconds, she was screaming his name as her orgasm ripped through her body and she pulled him upward, whispering, “Make love to me.”
“I’ve made love to you so many times in my mind, luv.” Spike positioned himself at her entrance and pressed forward, moving easily into her eager body.
Buffy felt complete for the first time in her life. Her legs wrapped around him, willing him not to leave her and then she heard her voice begging him to stay with her forever. He caught her tears with his mouth, tasting the salt and sadness and grasped her hands, moving them over her head. They rocked together, both oblivious to anything except one another. Her legs tightened on his waist and she surged, sobbing his name as she came again
Spike followed her over the edge, growling her name as she had done. He collapsed against her, his cheek pressed to hers and said, “Don’t cry, baby.”
“Tell me you won’t leave me.” She sobbed, hanging onto him with her arms and legs.
“I can’t tell you that.” Spike’s own tears mixed with hers and he raised slightly, staring into her eyes. “I will always find you, Buffy. I’ve searched for you for an eternity and if I have to leave you-“ His voice cracked and he forced himself to continue. “I won’t rest until I find you again. I’ll always be looking for you. Always.”
“I love you.” He brushed his lips across her trembling ones and closed his eyes. “I’ll always find you.”
Buffy felt him being wrenched from her arms and screamed. The scream was loud and full of agony, ripping from her gut with such force that she writhed in pain. She reached for him, unable to move and saw him fading, his body withering to dust.
And his promised whisper of finding her again echoed and then faded.
Angel was thumbing through the books he had left in his old apartment when someone knocked on his door so loudly that he almost jumped out of his skin. Frowning at the clock, he registered that it was almost seven in the evening and it was almost dark. As soon as he opened the door, Buffy flung herself at him. He didn’t have time to see her tear stained face, but he felt it almost immediately through the front of his shirt. “Buffy, what happened?”
She shook her head and squeezed him around the waist, unable to tell him. He pushed the door closed and led her to the leather chair that sat in the middle of the floor. “Sit down.”
Buffy complied and buried her face in her hands. Angel stared at her and made his way into the kitchen, rinsing a glass and filling it with water. “Buffy, drink some water.”
“Angel, why does everything in your apartment still work?” Buffy had composed herself somewhat and took the glass from his hand. “You have lights and water and everything.”
“I – I never sold it. I keep the bills paid in case I ever need to come back.” He didn’t want to offer more reason than that, so he changed the subject. “Now, what happened?”
“Spike is dying. He may already be dead and I dreamed- oh, god-“ She handed him the water and pulled her knees to her chest, sobbing again. “We had to move these demons into this thing called the ch-chamber. It’s a death chamber and Spike was one of them.”
“What? They kill them all together?” He put the water on the table beside the chair and kneeled, urging her to continue. “Tell me, Buffy.”
“The demons in there are in the last stages of the implant and they get really unpredictable so they put them in this network of tunnels ... thing.” Buffy leaned forward and gripped his arm. “Angel, you said that if I ever needed your help you would help me. Will you?”
“That’s what I came here for, Buffy. What can I do?”
She dried her face with sleeve of her shirt and took a deep breath. “I need you to go with me tonight.”
“We’re going to get Spike out if he’s still alive. I will not let him die down there, Angel.”
“Buffy, I don’t think you should risk your-“
“You said you would help and I’ve never asked you for anything. I’m asking you to please, please help me, Angel.” Buffy’s voice was shaky, high pitched and almost childlike. “I don’t want to have to go down there alone.”
Angel started to protest, but stopped himself. He had denied Buffy many things and he was not going to deny her this. If she wanted to rescue Spike, then he would damn well give her that and worry about why later. He owed her that much, and if this would make her happy, then he would do what he could. “I’ll help you.”
She grabbed her bag and mumbled, “I’ve got the supplies we need, bolt cutters for the chains, flashlights, weapons. I know the feeding schedule and we’ll work around that.”
He stood, pulling his coat on asked, “Do you have a backup plan?”
She followed him out the door and started past him. “I do have a backup plan but I can’t tell you until we get down there.”
“Why?” He grabbed her arm and stopped her, forcing her to look at him.
“Because if I tell you, you won’t come with me.” Buffy shrugged a little. “I know that you trust me, Angel. I trust you too and I think it’s going to be fine.”
“I know I’m not going to like this.” He let her go and followed her up the stairs, dread settling in the pit of his stomach.
“I know that you aren’t either.”
Michael waited patiently in his car, watching for Buffy to leave the building that she had gone into a few minutes earlier. He was going to make his move tonight. With Riley and the rest of the Agents partying the night away, he wouldn't have any obstacles to stand between him and vengeance. Frowning, he stared at his watch and then back at the doorway just in time to see Buffy step out. He started to open his car door and stopped as soon as he saw a very large man step out behind her.
This was even better. She wasn't out with Riley because she was with some other man. It didn't really matter and he wasn't worried about the man presenting a problem.
After all, his gun could paralyze an elephant.
And tonight it would just work twice as hard.
The Story Continues...