|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
What happens when William and Spike meet? Can two sides of the same coin stand to face each other?
Music Referenced: Reunited, Peaches and Herb, http://youtu.be/PZOhm7qS-AI
|Thanks:||Giant thanks to Anona for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Saturday, May 7th, 2011, Gift-less Universe:
Andrew stepped through the broken doorway into the large cavern of the base camp to look for Buffy, as Spike asked him to … ok, ordered him to. He held Spike’s sword in both hands as he glanced around in the semi-dark warily. There were waaaay too many dark pockets of shadow for comfort – anything could be hiding in them.
“Buffy?” he called, barely above a whisper.
He took another step away from the relative safety of Room 314, his feet squishing and sliding on the damp floor. He looked down. His shoes were covered in some kind of red, gelatinous goo. He crinkled up his nose, picked one foot up, and shook it. The stuff dropped off with loud plops, falling back into the layer of it that seemed to cover the entire floor.
“What in the name of Yoda?” he muttered, as he began to squat down to get a better look at it.
Suddenly, he heard movement in front of him and shot back up to standing, readjusting his grip on the sword. “I am the Jedi Knight that has defeated you!” Andrew yelled into the darkness. “Away! Away with you! This is my kingdom! You are not welcome! You are not invited!” he informed the intruder in his bravest voice.
Oh, maybe it’s Buffy, Andrew realized, taking a calming breath. “Buffy? Is that you?” he asked in a small, tentative voice.
Spike briefly stepped out from one of the darkest shadows into a pool of light cast by the emergency exit system. He was sloshing through the water and congealed red vampire dust, smoke billowing from his feet, carrying Buffy. Andrew only caught a quick glimpse of him at a distance before the vamp disappeared again into the shadows.
Andrew turned and looked behind him at the corridor he’d just come out of. When had Spike come out of Room 314? The vamp’s feet were badly burnt and bleeding. Andrew had dried an area for him to sit, helped him get his wet shoes off, and then came out here to check on Buffy. Why would Spike come out after he’d just sent Andrew to check on her?
“Spiiike,” he whined. “You scared me! Why did you send me out here in the dark if you were just gonna…” Andrew stopped when Spike re-emerged from the shadows, and he saw Buffy twitch unnaturally in the vamp’s arms. Then he noticed that Spike’s hair was gone – or nearly gone. Had the holy water done that too?!
“Oh Force of Creation!” Andrew exclaimed. “What happened?” The Jedi Priest rushed forward towards the pair and William froze.
He had been heading to an area where the layer of red … gelatin wasn’t as thick. It was obviously having some effect on his angel … the evil of it seeping into her body.
“What the bloody hell, Andrew!?” Spike exclaimed from the doorway behind the Jedi priest and Andrew stopped in his tracks and spun around.
He looked back and forth for several long moments. “Holy stars above! There are two Spikes!” Andrew looked up at the ceiling, hands pressed together as if in prayer. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he murmured to the heavens gleefully. And who said prayers didn’t get answered?
The Spike behind him stepped out of the doorway. He had bright, yellow Wellies on his feet to protect them from the holy water and a dour frown on his face. “Who the bloody hell is that?” he demanded, pointing a finger at his doppelganger.
“It’s you … times two!” Andrew exclaimed with a wide smile.
“Don’t be daft!” Spike asserted. “He doesn’t look a bloody thing like me!”
Andrew started to protest and say that, yes, he did, but Spike cut him off.
“What’s wrong with Buffy?” Spike asked with growing concern when the full scene before him registered in his mind. He moved forward past Andrew, yanking his sword from the Jedi’s hands as he passed. Without losing stride, he headed towards the man that was carrying the Slayer, his sword at the ready.
“What the hell did you do to ‘er!?” Spike demanded as William searched for a safe place to set his precious cargo down out of the red goo so he could fight.
“Nothing! I simply rescued her from the …” William retorted, keeping the panic that was rising in him out of his voice. He gestured with his head at the red Jell-O bits that covered the floor.
“Rescue, is it?” Spike narrowed his eyes at the intruder. “And just who are you to rescue a Slayer?”
William backed up a step, then two, his eyes finally finding a table behind him and off to one side that was free of the red muck. He just needed to buy a little more time to get her over there and set her down.
“I am William Weckerly,” he replied as if he was announcing the arrival of the King of England. “I am her husband.”
Spike stopped and drew in a sharp breath. The tip of his sword momentarily dropped to the ground as he took this in and tried to make sense of it. “Her … husband,” he muttered to himself as he watched the man retreat.
If this was truly his counterpart, why was he retreating … with the Slayer, no less? Spike had retreated a time or two, but only when faced with overwhelming odds. One vampire in shiny, yellow boots and a half-assed Jedi Knight were far from overwhelming odds.
And, if he was from the other dimension and actually her husband, why wouldn’t he simply ask him for help with the Slayer? Surely she had told her husband what had happened here – how Spike had helped her escape. And where were the rest of her friends? Surely he wouldn’t have come alone. It looked to Spike like he was trying to make off with her. Maybe he was a shape-shifter or something like that, although he felt like a vampire … a shape-shifting vampire?
Spike took deliberate, but not overly fast, strides towards the demon that had Buffy, raising his sword back up to the ready position as he went. He didn’t want to alert the imposter to the danger, but didn’t want him to get away with Buffy, either. For all he knew, the monster could shape-shift into a giant bat or bird and simply fly out of reach here in the high-ceilinged common area.
As Spike got within two strides of the man that had Buffy, his doppelganger suddenly turned his back to the approaching vamp. Thinking that ‘William’ was going to make a run for it, or shift into some other form, Spike quickened his stride and lunged at the man.
As if reading Spike’s mind, the shape-shifter hurriedly dropped Buffy atop a table, banging her head down on it with an audible thunk, and spun around in time to deflect Spike’s attack perfectly with a sword of his own. Bugger!
Spike spun all the way around, using the momentum of the vamp’s parry to help propel him. His sword spun in a wide arc, whistling through the air as it went. Leveled at his opponent’s neck, Spike gripped the hilt of his blessed sword even tighter as he prepared to decapitate the vamp that had stolen his name and was attempting to steal Buffy. However, in the milliseconds it took for him to make the full turn, his opponent had ducked and moved out of range.
Spike stumbled slightly, thrown off balance when he didn’t meet the resistance of flesh and bone he’d been expecting. In the millisecond it took before he could regain his fighting stance, his doppelganger buried his fist in Spike’s jaw. Stars danced in front of his eyes for a moment as he tried to catch his balance and shake them away. It only took a moment for Spike to recover and raise his sword to strike, but this so-called William was ready. The blades of their respective swords clanged together loudly in the cavernous area and echoed through the large, empty complex. Powerful thrusts were met with equally clever parries, neither fighter gaining ground nor relenting.
“You guys!” Andrew called from the sidelines of the fight. Neither Spike nor William acknowledged him.
“If you’re ‘er bloody husband, then where are the rest of the Scoobies? Don’t believe even you are fool enough to come ‘ere alone!” Spike demanded as he and William stalked each other, looking for an opening.
“I assure you, I am her husband. I do not know what these ‘Scoobies’ are to which you refer. I was dropped into the ocean along with Bess and Angel,” William explained, never taking his eyes off his adversary. “We’ve … become separated.”
“Angel?” Spike spat the name. “Working with the Magnificent Poof, are you? He the one that sent you here to steal ‘er, then? Come in ‘ere trying to look like me so she’d go with ya? Not a very good job of it, by the way. Hair’s all wrong, scar’s a bit wonky, nose is too big, and your eyes are too beady.”
“Noooo,” William drew the word out, as if speaking to a dimwitted child. “First and foremost, I do not look like you, nor would I endeavor to. Secondly, I am not stealing her. If you knew Avengelyne at all, you would know the absurdity of that accusation. I was simply getting her to safety – out of the red … muck. I believe it was harming her.”
“The Slayer’s name is Buffy,” Spike insisted.
“You guys … stop!” Andrew tried again, stomping down one foot petulantly. No one noticed.
“Perhaps, but the angel’s name is Avengelyne,” William retorted as the two men continued watching each other warily, circling slowly in the center of the floor, their graceful, predatory movements near-perfect reflections of the other.
Smoke continued to billow from William’s bare feet as they trod through the holy water and red muck, but he ignored the burning sensation. He’d noticed it when he first stepped foot into the low flood, but it didn’t seem to be getting any worse. The insistence of his 'gut' that he should enter the dark cavern overriding the discomfort of the inexplicable burning water.
Spike snorted. “Angel my soddin’ ass! She’s as close to bein’ an angel as I am at being Pope.”
William gave Spike a sardonic smile. “Then you know nothing of this woman,” William contended. “I suggest you take your leave and allow us to pass.”
“Or what?” Spike hissed.
“Spikes! Stop! This is … it’s craziness! You’re both on the same side!” Andrew tried again. Nothing changed between the two warriors.
“Or I shall be forced to remove your head from your shoulders, my dear man. It appears I’m quite adept at it. A skill I hadn’t known I possessed prior to this quite … extraordinary day.”
“You can try,” Spike growled. “I’ve taken on better than you and I’m still walking around – head firmly attached.”
Spike shifted into game face and stopped moving. He stood up from his half-crouch position, lowered his sword slightly, and smirked at his doppelganger. Standing stock-still, he silently dared this shape-shifting, name-stealing, Slayer-kidnapping vampire to make a move.
William tilted his head slightly and regarded him. “Oh, I assure you, I can do much more than try.”
Just as William had three moves mapped out in his mind and was milliseconds away from executing them, a low, desperate moan came from behind him.
Buffy stirred, her body aching from … well, everything that had happened over the last several hours, and her mind still muddled from the acid trip down memory lane.
“William?” she tried as she blinked her eyes open. The last thing she remembered was William picking her up off the footpath and blood pouring out of the gash in her arm. Maybe the Reds' dust was like the unpronounceable demon’s poison … maybe it had taken her back there, back to William.
William spun around immediately, completely abandoning his battle plan, and dropping his defenses. “I’m here, darling,” he murmured to her, taking her hand in one of his.
Buffy squinted to see in the semi-dark, then shook her head slightly to clear it and blinked several times. “Spike,” she muttered with a heavy sigh, letting her eyes flutter closed again. She hadn’t gone anywhere … she was still in the hell dimension. “What happened?”
In a split second Spike was there at her side, standing next to William and looking down at her. “No worries, luv. This tosser thought he’d steal ya off, but I gotcha,” Spike assured her.
“I am no ‘tosser’, you ignoramus! I have explained in terms simple enough that even a Bow Bell Cockney should be capable of comprehending. I am her husband,” William asserted again, speaking slowly and deliberately.
“Bow Bell…” Spike seethed. “I’ll stuff your arse in the soddin’ Bow Bells and use your hard head for the clacker!”
“What … what’s …” Buffy stuttered, trying to make sense of the voices and the words.
She blinked her eyes open again and looked up. Two Spikes stood over her. Two near-twins looked down at her with concern creasing their features. There were differences – the hair, for example, but the eyes … the eyes were the same. Four azure blue pools of emotion, now clouded with a soft dappling of grey worry, peered back at her. She shook her head. They didn’t change. She blinked her eyes. Still two Spikes. She rubbed her eyes and shook her head. They remained.
Had she gotten hit on the head and it was giving her double vision? Maybe when she fell down or … had someone hit her? She couldn’t remember anymore.
As Buffy tried to figure out what was happening, William and Spike both began wiping the remaining red goo off her skin and clothes and out of her hair. Everywhere the gelatinous vampire dust touched her it left a red stain, like a cherry Kool-Aid mustache on a child’s upper lip. Her hair and skin were both still damp from the glittering muck and now tinged in shades of red. Her blonde locks had been transformed into a kaleidoscope of crimson: everything from a very fitting Manic Panic ‘Vampire Red’ to rich copper to deep merlot.
Neither man seemed to even notice the other as their full concentration was on Buffy and making certain she was alright. They worked as an unwitting team, methodically wiping the muck off her skin and running their long fingers through her hair to get it all out. As they worked, and her skin and hair began to dry, the red stains began to fade. As more time passed, the muck began to shrivel and turn back into the dry, glittering dust that it had been before Andrew’s holy water rainstorm.
“Spike, I’m seeing …” she began as they worked, lifting one hand up to touch the faces above her. Maybe if she could figure out which Spike was real, and which was some figment of her concussed skull, she could get the figment to disappear.
“There are two of them!” Andrew exclaimed gleefully, coming up to the end of the table near her head. “Aren’t they just … magnificent? Two Spikes!”
Andrew reached a hand out and touched the Spike nearest him, the one with the blond hair and yellow Wellies on. “One,” he counted reverently, like the Cookie Monster counting chocolate chips on ‘Sesame Street’. Then he moved his hand over to the barefoot, fuzzy-wuzzy Spike’s chest. “Two.”
Andrew moved his hand back to number one’s chest. “One.” Then back to number two. “Two.
“Spike number one, Spike number two,” Andrew continued, moving his hand back and forth between them. “One Spike, Two Spike, Old Spike, New Spike …” Andrew prattled giddily, sounding like a character from a Dr. Seuss book. His rambling drew a deadly glower from ‘One Spike’ and a suspicious glare from ‘Two Spike’.
“I wish to God in heaven everyone would stop calling me that!” ‘Two Spike’ exclaimed, utterly exasperated. “My name is William!”
“Yeah, well, welcome to the soddin’ club, William,” ‘One Spike’ retorted sarcastically.
“Buffy,” ‘Old Spike’ continued, looking down at her confused face. “This blighter says he’s your husband. Are you married to Spike or … William?”
“I … uhhh…” Buffy stammered, finally looking up at Andrew. “There really are two of them?”
Andrew shook his head enthusiastically, his eyes wide with wonder. “One…” he began again, reaching a hand out, but stopped when Spike growled at him. The Jedi jerked his hand back against his chest and folded his other hand around it, as if to hold it there against its will. “Two,” he finished. “There are two,” he assured her quickly, keeping his hands to himself.
With some effort, Buffy pushed against the hard tabletop she was laying on to sit up. William helped her, pulling her by the hand that he still held in one of his. Spike also helped her, putting a hand on her shoulder to steady her.
When Buffy was sitting on the edge of the table, her feet dangling off the side, she looked at the two men standing in front of her. They weren’t identical, but they were close enough to be twins. Both had looks of concern for her etched in their handsome features; both sets of blue eyes were riveted on her. Both had on black t-shirts and black jeans, both had Xin Rong's scar over their left eye, and both held swords in their left hands. About the only difference she could see, other than the hair, were the slicker-yellow boots on one, and bare feet on the other.
“Well,” booted-Spike prodded. “Is this your soddin’ husband? I think he’s a vamp that’s picked up some shape-shifting mojo. I heard that there were some voodoo priests in Borneo that could …” he started theorizing.
Buffy gave William a small smile and nodded as Spike talked. “This is my husband,” she announced quietly as tears welled in her eyes. She swallowed and blinked them back, a feeling of overwhelming relief flooding over her.
Booted-Spike looked like he’d been physically slapped, and took a step back. “What?! Just like that? He says he’s soddin’ William! Talks like a right ponce, ain’t even got any hair – I thought you liked curls! And … and … he fights like girl!” he proclaimed indignantly. “This is what you married!?”
Buffy turned her eyes to Spike. “I fight like a girl too. Wanna see?” she offered but there was no real threat to her words.
She reached a hand out to William, turning her eyes back to him. William raised his chin in vindication and looked down his nose at Spike as he stepped up closer to Buffy, taking her hand in his and pulling it to his lips.
Buffy pulled him to her, wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning her head on his shoulder. Buffy sighed in relief, and the tears that she had thwarted a moment ago came back with a vengeance. He was obviously still lost in those hallucinations of William and Avengelyne, but he was whole and he was alive and he was here. Spike was here. Her Spike. She could feel it in her soul. She didn’t know how he'd gotten here, but there was no doubt, he was here. It would just take a little time and his memory would come back, they’d figure out a way out of this place, and everything would be alright.
William wrapped his arms around her and took comfort in her embrace. It was the first comfort he’d felt in a good long while. His angel was alive! Living, breathing, talking, and feeling like heaven in his arms. His angel would know what to do now, how to get back to London, back to the children. He let out a breath that he’d been holding and melted against her. Everything would be alright now.
Buffy began dropping soft kisses along his cheek and over his face. When his lips met hers she felt like she was drowning in his love. For a moment she let herself get lost in the feel and taste of him. All the pain from the ‘memory acid trip’, all the worry, all the stress, all the sadness, melted away like a snowball in hell. He was here. Together, they could do anything, defeat anyone.
Finally, Buffy pulled back and looked William in the eye, settling her hands on each side of his face. “I missed you so much,” she choked out, her voice full of emotion as tears slid down her cheeks.
William lifted a hand and gently brushed her tears away. “My world ended when you left, Avengelyne … I … for me and the children. I’ve never felt such emptiness, such … unrelenting sorrow.”
“I’m so sorry, William. I just …” Buffy swallowed. “I’ll explain everything later – why I couldn’t stay and … and …” Buffy faltered. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and Annie’s distraught face stared back at her from the dark behind her lids. Finally, she opened her eyes and looked back at her husband; her eyes seemed to have aged ten years in those brief seconds.
“There are some other things I have to tell you … things that happened while you were … while we were apart,” she amended, trying not to confuse him any more than he already was. “But I think right now, we need to work on getting home.”
William nodded his agreement. “Indeed, I believe I’ve had quite enough of this world.”
Buffy snorted a small laugh. “I think we all have.”
Buffy finally noticed the smoke coming from William’s bare feet. “Oh no! The holy water!” she realized. “Andrew, do you have any more of those boots?” she asked, indicating the boots that Spike had on with a nod of her head.
Andrew nodded excitedly and scampered off in search of more boots.
“Why don’t you sit down here – get out of the … water?” Buffy suggested to William, patting the table next to her.
William gave Spike another haughty look, and sat down next to her, but didn’t release the hold he had on his sword. He looked at his feet, which were still stinging and smoking a bit, and worked on brushing the burning, red muck off them.
Buffy rubbed her hand over the top of William’s head, feeling the bristles that were there in place of his curls. It felt funny under her fingers, kinda sharp and rough, but good. She had a hard time pulling her hand away from it. “What happened to your hair?”
William shrugged and touched his head self-consciously. “I am hopeful that the curls will grow back for you.”
Buffy nodded, blew out a long breath, and began trying to gather information ... real information, rather than cosmetic. “How did you get out of the octopus? How did you get here? How did you find me?” she asked, not allowing him to answer one before firing off the next question.
William shook his head slightly. “Octopus, you say? I must admit that I don’t have any recollection of that.”
“Ok, start with what you do remember,” Buffy encouraged him, taking his free hand in both of hers.
“I clearly recall the vampire killing you, Avengelyne,” William began, anguish coloring his words.
“And you killed the vampire.” Buffy smiled at him reassuringly.
William nodded and gave her a small smile back. “Yes. And then … you were gone and …” he stopped and shook his head. “There was so much blood.”
“I know,” Buffy agreed softly. “It’s ok. Let’s skip that. How did you get here?”
William took a deep breath and gave her a grateful look. He’d relived that day too many times already. “I fell into the sea. I do not know from where … those moments were quite … muddled. As you told me would happen, Bess and Angel …” William bit his bottom lip and his eyes dropped to the floor. “I’m afraid I’ve done something rather … rash, Avengelyne.”
Buffy waited a moment and then prodded him when he didn’t continue. “It’s ok – what happened?”
“I … was bewildered. This place is … confounding,” he stammered, trying to explain. “I recognized the vampire that … I … Angel … I …” William closed his eyes and summoned his courage. “I dusted him,” he finally blurted out. “I dusted your envoy, Angel.”
“Bloody hell,” Spike interjected, taking a step back towards the table where William and Buffy sat, a tone of genuine pride in his voice. “Good on ya, mate!”
William’s head snapped up sharply and he glared at Spike, a growl rumbling unbidden from his throat. “No! Not good! Angel and Bess were to bring me to her, you see! But I … my rage overtook my good sense! It was imprudent and … barbaric. I was barbaric.”
“All the better, then,” Spike praised him, giving him a firm pat on the shoulder. “Love to hear the long and short of it over a pint one day – my treat.”
William huffed out a breath and turned back to Buffy. “I’m so sorry, Avengelyne. I … I didn’t realize until it was too late. Had he been reincarnated as a … an actual angel? Is that why you sent him for me? I must admit, he didn’t conduct himself as I would imagine an angel would.”
Buffy shook her head. What was done was done and Angel wasn’t really her concern right now. “Where’s Bess? She was with you and Angel? Where is she now?” Buffy asked instead of answering his question.
“I … I don’t know. She … while we were fighting, she must have fled.”
“Fled?” Buffy questioned in disbelief. “Bess left you and … fled? From what, a herd of fire-breathing dragons?”
William shook his head in confusion. “There are fire breathing dragons here?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I don’t think so. Maybe. I don’t know. Where’s Bess?” she pressed again.
William lifted the hand she was holding, turning his palm up, conveying ‘I wish I knew’, and shook his head. “I'm afraid I don’t know. I ran after her through the tunnels, but … I ended up here. I thought perhaps she was here, then I saw you and …” He shrugged.
Buffy looked at Spike. “We need to find her. She doesn’t know how to dust the Reds, she doesn’t know about the bats and …” Buffy shook her head and slid off the table to her feet. “She’s strong but she’s … she can die … she can dust.”
Buffy looked back at William. “Did she have any weapons?”
William nodded. “I believe so … a stake, perhaps a … dagger? I don’t recall now. It all happened so fast.”
“Where was the last place you saw her?”
“In the basement,” William replied.
William chewed his bottom lip a moment, looking down at the floor as he thought. He wanted desperately to run a hand through his hair, but Buffy was holding one, and his sword was in the other. Then he remembered he had no hair, and the impulse subsided slightly. He worked on remembering without the comfort of that familiar habit.
After a few moments, his eyes went wide and he looked back up at Buffy, a victorious smile on his lips. “They called it ‘Crawford Street’!”
Buffy nodded and gave him a reassuring smile. By now, Andrew had returned with another pair of boots for the second Spike.
“Ok, great! Let’s go!” Buffy exclaimed once William had pulled the galoshes on.
Spike squatted down, touched a spot of blood on the floor with his fingertips, and brought it to his nose. It was … unusual. He’d never smelled anything quite like it before: a Slayer turned vampire. It was a shocking bouquet that combined the sweet, stimulating perfume of Slayer blood with the acerbic, pungent aroma of the undead. It was, he realized, what it would smell like if his blood and Buffy’s were mingled together … or Buffy’s and William’s, apparently.
He’d had a hard time finding a pure sample in the basement at the mansion on Crawford Street. Angel’s blood was soaked into almost everything. The ponce, William, had actually dusted the great poofter, just as he’d claimed. Impressive. Or lucky.
Buffy and William waited at the door that led to the sewers while Spike sniffed around, literally. As he worked, they watched for Reds coming down the tunnels. Despite the fact that the tall vamps rarely ever used the sewers, William had insisted they came in that way when he, Bess, and Angel were here earlier.
Spike stole furtive glances at the pair as he worked. She married a soddin’ ponce. He shook his head and rolled his eyes. How could William be half of what a Slayer needed? Bloody pathetic, it was. He sighed to himself. She’d just been being nice to him when she told him that she’d married ‘Spike’, that her friends accepted ‘Spike’ into their circle, that she loved ‘Spike’. He could clearly see that it was William that had garnered that affection, not Spike. Buffy would never love Spike. He nodded to himself solemnly; that was how it should be, he reckoned. Spike was a monster.
While they waited, William turned soft eyes to Buffy and reached a hand out to her hair, which was no longer red from the vampire muck, but now dry and back to blonde. “Did they take your fiery mane away when you died?” he asked her with a tinge of disappointment in his voice.
Buffy gave him a gentle smile and a one shouldered shrug. “I guess,” she replied. “I don’t think ‘fiery’ is an adjective they want bandied around in heaven.”
William laughed lightly as he ran his fingers through her tresses. At least it was still as soft and thick as he remembered. “I’m certain you are correct.
“Do you think this … man can find her?” he asked with a hint of disdain, inclining his head towards Spike.
“If anyone can, he can,” Buffy assured him.
Just then, Spike walked up behind them. “Was someone else here? I’m getting …” Spike blew out a breath and ran a hand through his curls. “This sounds crazy, but I’m getting’ a whiff o’ Dru ‘ere.”
Buffy’s brows shot up. “Dru? You think Dru’s here?”
Spike shrugged. “Not an easy scent to forget.”
“Dru,” William repeated quietly. “Angel said something about Dru … Drusilla. The clothes! The clothes in the trunk were hers. Bess put on one of the dresses. Here,” William stepped past him, pulled the tattered snip of velvet from the nail just inside the doorway, and handed it to Spike. “This is what she was wearing.”
Spike took the proffered scrap and brought it to his nose. His eyes closed as he inhaled, and a thousand memories seemed to whisper through his mind. Dru. For him it conjured emotions most people would feel while reflecting on gleeful childhood memories. Thoughts of simpler times wafted up with the scent: carefree days of mayhem, bloodshed, and brutality. It gave him a warm feeling of nostalgia deep inside. Things were simpler then.
He blew out a breath and opened his eyes, stuffing the torn material into his pocket. Those days were long past; ancient history. “Right then – let’s find us a Slayer,” he announced, taking his sword from Buffy’s hand as he pressed roughly between the two sentries, knocking both William and Buffy back a step, and started down the tunnel.
He strode away down the sewer tunnel purposely while Buffy and William fell in behind him. They walked in silence and moved quickly. Every once in a while, Spike would raise his blood-stained fingers to his nose again and refresh the scent, although it was one he doubted he would ever actually forget. At intersections in the sewers he’d pause and smell in every direction before picking one and striding away again.
Buffy had long ago lost her bearings and didn’t know what direction they were even headed any longer. After walking for some time, the salty aroma of the ocean grew stronger – they were getting near the docks.
“You think she went back to the ocean? Maybe to find her way back to … back home?” Buffy asked at last, breaking the silence they’d been walking in. “Maybe there’s a portal there too – maybe that’s how they got here.”
Ahead of them, Spike shrugged but said nothing. That wasn’t what happened, he knew it as well as he knew his name, but he had to be sure … 100% sure, before he told the Slayer.
“You aren’t following the scent from when she came from the ocean, are you? You know – tracking backwards?” Buffy pressed.
“No,” was all Spike said.
It wasn’t so much the one word answer that unnerved Buffy as the way he said it. There was no attitude in it – no ‘what do you think I am, a bloody idiot?’ tone that she expected. It was said flatly, there was no emotion to it whatsoever. Spike’s voice had emotion in it if you asked him if it was raining outside. She shuddered, but didn’t ask anything else; she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
Spike came to a stop at a ladder that led to the street above. “Stay ‘ere. I’ll check it out and be back.”
Buffy opened her mouth to argue, but clamped it closed quickly when Spike shot her a look that was a combination of pleading and command. That’s a tough look to pull off – but something between the hard the set of his jaw and the softness of his eyes conveyed it clearly. She nodded.
When Spike was gone, William said, “I know your desire was to go with him … why didn’t we? I assure you, Avengelyne, I’ve become quite skilled with the rapier. You needn’t worry about me.”
Buffy shook her head. “It’s not you, William. It was … something’s wrong and he’s not telling me. I think …” Buffy bit her bottom lip and blinked back tears, the uneasiness blooming into full-fledged fearful worry. “He knows more than he’s saying and maybe he needs some time to figure out …” Buffy’s voice cracked and she closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to will the worry away.
William pulled her into a hug and Buffy accepted gratefully. God, how she’d missed his hugs – she missed the strength she found in his embrace and the confidence he could instill in her with just a whisper.
As they waited, holding to each other, Buffy couldn’t help but think the worst. She was pretty sure Bess hadn’t just fled. She wouldn’t have left her father, especially not in his confused state, and certainly not in the middle of a fight with Angel.
Bess had just really started living again, and now this. Would she be another casualty of this hell-dimension? Another person to have their life stolen from them, just when she was starting to find joy in it? Another weight to add to the overwhelming burden of guilt Buffy felt over everything that had happened these last weeks?
A sob escaped her throat, and William ran a soothing hand down his wife’s back and ‘shushed’ her softly. He tucked her head under his chin and offered the only comfort he could in this godforsaken world. She’d always been so strong, so sure – she was always the teacher and he the student; she the instiller of confidence and he the eager receptacle. Now she needed him to be the strong one and, for perhaps the first time in his life, he felt up to the task.
Spike dropped back down to the tunnel floor after closing the manhole cover, not even bothering with the ladder. “Let’s go,” he instructed curtly as he began to walk back the way they’d come.
“What? Wait? Spike!” Buffy called after him, pulling away from William and running behind the blond vamp. She grabbed his arm and spun him around to face her. “Where is she? What’s going on?”
Spike swallowed and turned his head to look behind him, away from Buffy. “We need to go – the Reds might’ve followed me…”
“Noooo,” Buffy drawled through clenched teeth, standing firm. “Tell me what’s going on.”
Spike, turned back to look at her. He said nothing for a moment as he pursed his lips and studied her. She’d been crying, he could tell, and now he could smell her fear and feel her anger building. He blew out a long breath and his shoulders slumped. “The Slayer’s lost,” he told her. “I’m sorry, Buffy.”
Buffy furrowed her brow and shook her head. “Lost? You mean you lost the trail?”
Spike shook his head. “No … she’s … we can’t get ‘er back.”
Buffy blinked, then stared at him blankly for a moment. “She’s … dusted?” Buffy swallowed the fear back as her heart started to crumble a bit more in her chest.
Spike closed his eyes and shook his head again. “I don’t think so.”
“Goddammit, Spike! Tell me what the fuck is going on!” Buffy insisted, grabbing his upper arms and shaking him.
He blew out a breath and opened his eyes. “The Reds ‘ave her … in the ship – the Reefer. We …” he shook his head. “She’s lost, Buffy. We can’t get ‘er back. We don’t have enough … anything to fight them all.”
Buffy’s mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water for a few moments and she shook her head in disbelief.
“Did you see her? Are you sure?” Buffy demanded.
Spike shook his head. “Didn’t see ‘er; didn’t need to. Trail o’ blood went up the gangway … they’ve got ‘er.”
“But you think she’s still … alive … not dusted, right?” Buffy pressed.
“Wouldn’t make any sense for them to carry ‘er all this way and then dust ‘er.”
“Carry her,” Buffy repeated, her brows furrowed. “You knew? You knew she wasn’t walking on her own all this time and you didn’t say anything?”
Spike shrugged. “Didn’t know for sure until …” he glanced up at the manhole cover, then back down at her. “She’s lost, Buffy.”
Buffy glared at him a long moment, then she let go of his arms and turned on her heel. She headed back towards the ladder to the street in a determined march. “Bullshit. I’m not leaving her there.”
“Buffy!” Spike called, taking long strides to catch her. William stepped in his path and blocked him. Spike shoved him to the side and William shoved back. Spike banged off the wall of the tunnel, but slipped past William, catching Buffy just as she started up the ladder to the street.
“Slayer!” he yelled at her, grabbing her arm.
“Let me go! I’ll get her back or die trying,” she growled at him.
“That’s exactly what you’ll do!” Spike insisted. “Die!
“Buffy, trust me. If I thought there was a way, I’d get ‘er m’self. But there’s not – there are too many Reds on that ship! There were too many when there were six of us – now there’s only …” Spike eyed William, who was now standing behind him, ready to intervene on Buffy’s behalf. Spike quickly decided to include him in the count, “… three.”
“Spike! She’s my daughter! It’s no different than Annie … I’m not leaving her there!”
“No one’s asking ya’ to, Slayer. Just wait. Wait for help. Your little Scooby troupe will be along to find ya, yeah? Let’s wait for some reinforcements – then we’ll get her out.
“Won’t do anyone any good if you go up there and die,” he pointed out, his voice softening.
“How many vampires are there?” William asked from behind Spike.
“Hundreds,” Buffy answered with a heaviness in her voice that he’d never heard before.
She stepped back down off the ladder and onto the floor of the tunnel, her jaw clenched in frustration, anger, and fear. “Damn it!” she cursed and punched the wall with all her strength. Shards of crushed cement and brick rained down onto the floor, but it didn’t really make her feel any better.
Buffy’s stomach roiled as images of what those hideous, barbaric vampires were doing to Bess. The girl had been through so much with the Council already. She had just started to trust others and let love into her heart. If she survived, would she be able to claw her way back from it again? Finding herself a prisoner again, would the Slayer-vamp simply give up? Would she dust herself rather than give them a chance to...
“Damn it all to hell,” Buffy cursed again, looking back up the ladder. Spike was right, of course. She’d do nothing but get herself killed. She wasn’t sure that could be any worse than the feeling of helplessness that was flooding through her right now. She felt like she was being torn apart from the inside. She couldn’t stand the thought of not going after Bess, but there was more than Bess depending on her. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!
“We’ll check the portal,” Spike offered. “Maybe your mates have made it through already and are lookin’ for ya, yeah?”
Buffy looked at him and huffed out a breath of consternation, but finally nodded in resignation. She looked back up the ladder. “Hold on Bess … please just hold on,” she whispered skyward before falling into formation behind Spike, with William at her side.
He took her hand and squeezed it tightly. “She’s a strong lass,” William assured her.
Buffy nodded but said nothing. William didn’t remember … he didn’t know what Bess had been through. Hell, he didn’t even seem to realize she was their daughter. In that moment, Buffy wished with all her heart that Spike was here instead of William … her Spike. He would’ve gone with her to face the Reds and get Bess back – hell, he would’ve been the first to charge the enemy’s stronghold, odds be damned. He was just that fucking foolish and impulsive and pig-headed … and loyal and brave.
How are they going to get Bess back from the Reds? How are they going to get out of this dimension? Can Spike and William work together without killing each other? What more could possibly go wrong? We'll soon find out...
Lots more to come!!
Reunited, Peaches and Herb
I was a fool to ever leave your side
I spent the evening with the radio
Reunited and it feels so good
I sat here staring at the same old wall
I can't go cheating, honey, I can't play
Reunited and it feels so good
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Lover, lover, this is solid love
I'll give you all the love I have
Reunited and it feels so good
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