Chp 9 : Like Ice
“A demon’s fire changes all,
The Old Returns,
Love Alone can break the thrall,
Past and present merged must be
By Love, desire and need times three”
William flung himself down onto the bed next to her and lay, gazing up at the rocky ceiling of the crypt that was apparently his home. He clasped his hands behind his head and sighed. His life had taken such an odd turn since that night in London, the night of Cecily’s party. But oddly, he wasn’t unhappy. There was a part of him that welcomed the strange happenings – as if he’d been waiting all his life for something miraculous to happen to him and now it had. The world of London, home, mother, a life of quiet gentility, not rich, not poor, trying to fit in, trying to be good enough for - her. It had all gone. In a blink of an eye. He couldn’t even remember it going.
He was alive over a hundred years later than his own time. He was in a foreign country seeing marvels and inventions that amazed and astounded him. And, strangest of all, he was a vampire. Why didn’t that worry him? He should have felt sick with disgust and self-hatred. He was a good Christian, went to church with mother every Sunday, took communion, sang hymns, listened to the long, long sermons, tried to be a good man. Being evil, a blood-drinking vampire should have terrified and disgusted him. But – it didn’t. Apparently he’d killed, hundreds of people, but that had been Spike. Not him. He felt no guilt for Spike’s crimes. And indeed, were they crimes if that was what you were born to do? Did the lion feel guilt when it tore out a gazelle’s throat to feed?
He rolled over and propped himself up on one elbow. The woman sitting on the edge of the bed filled his gaze. Miss Buffy – what a whimsical name – Summers. Was she the reason that he accepted what he’d become so easily? She had shown him another world – not just the geographical one, but also a world of physical beauty and power and passion. William frowned. There were tears in her eyes and she was staring down at her hands, unhappiness plain on every inch of her body.
“You say the charm won’t work because you love Spike,” he said.
“And you love Cecily.”
William ran a finger down her cheek. “I know I am new to this magical world, but it seems a very strange charm if there is no chance of it working at all.”
Buffy leant back against the crimson pillows, soothed by his hand stroking her hair. She found herself smiling. William was logical in a way Spike could never be. “You’re saying we’re wrong in the way we’re interpreting the words?”
William shrugged. “You may be surprised to hear this, Miss Buffy, but I – I write – well, I try to write poetry.” He caught her glance and ducked his head, embarrassed. “Yes, I’m sure it is not accepted in this world and time, but in my day, men wrote verses to their lady-loves. I know I am not a good poet. I try, but sometimes I cannot find the right words to express my innermost feelings.”
“Hey, I can’t find the words to express myself in words most of the time!”
William smiled, pleased to see that some of the strain was leaving her face. “You’re very kind, but I know my limitations. But one thing I do know is that sometimes poetry says one thing and means another. Perhaps the charm is such a verse.”
“A demon’s fire changes all,
The Old Returns,
Love Alone can break the thrall,
Past and present merged must be
By Love, desire and need times three”
Buffy repeated slowly, the words etched in her brain in a way poetry never did in class. “Seems straightforward to me. The demon's fire burnt Spike. The Old returns. That's you, etc. etc. Love, desire and need, that must mean sex. Except we've already made love more than three times. So not just sex. I still think that the Love word is the one that ruins it. What else could it mean?”
William jumped off the bed and held out his hand to her. Standing there in tight black T-shirt and jeans, he looked far more like Spike than he had since he’d appeared out on the island.
She reached out and he pulled her off the bed and held her close. “I suggest we wait and see what happens. Unless – ” his eyes gleamed with mischief – “unless you’d like to experiment. We could have sex here, in Spike’s bed, to see if that helped. If I vanish and Spike returns, then – well, you’d know that the charm was right, after all and the emotion of love is not required, just the act.”
Buffy gazed back at the inviting spread of velvet and silk and fought the temptation that swirled over her. Then a cold chill ran through her. If they did – well – have sex and Spike came back, then all her friends would know exactly what they’d done. They’d know, without any doubts, that she loved Spike. And what would happen then? OK, she’d have Spike, but – how could that work? Would he move in with her? A Slayer and a vampire living under the same roof. Oh yes, that was really going to go down well with everyone. She’d have no friends, no family, the whole intricate fabric of her Slayer life would be torn apart.
“We haven’t got time – they’ll be waiting for us,” she muttered and turned away, heading for the tunnel that lead back to the Magic Shop.
William stared after her. He could sense the battle that was going on inside her, but realised he didn’t fully understand. All he could do was be there for her, he decided and wondered what it was about this Spike that made him such a good mate for this very special woman.
He wandered around the bedchamber of the crypt, examining the books, the clothes, notepads, pencils, a sketchbook full of charcoal drawings of Miss Buffy and Miss Dawn, bottles of wine and whisky, the atmosphere of the place. And he realised that it should have felt strange and unfamiliar to him, but it didn’t. It felt like home.
He ran his fingers through his hair and wondered exactly where the magical item was inside his head that the military had placed there. Mr Harris had taken great delight in telling him about that. It made him incapable of harming another living thing, apparently. Which was good, because he had no desire to hurt anything.
He could hear her calling him from deep under the ground and, with a last lingering glance round the crypt, turned and walked after her.
Later that night, William looked up from where he and Dawn were sitting on the sofa, eating a confection called popcorn and watching the box in the corner of the room that provided the moving pictures.
Buffy came downstairs, pulling on her jacket. “Going out on patrol, Dawnie. Willow’s upstairs in her room. Go to bed soon. I’ll see you tomorrow, William.”
The vampire stood up. “Patrol, Miss Buffy? Is this another military aspect of your life I have yet to learn about?”
“Well, if you call wandering around graveyards, hunting for vamps and demons a military thing, then yes. And, actually, I’d rather you didn’t, because hey, had a boyfriend once who was far too involved with the whole soldier, soldier bit.”
“My father wished me to enter the army,” William said reminiscently. “But he died before I was old enough to do so and although I would have done so for his sake, I had to stay home to take care of Mother.”
Buffy stared at him. Odd, she’d never really thought about Spike’s father. Somehow in all the Angel/Dru/Darla siring muddle, his actual real life dad had got overlooked. “What was he like?”
“Shall I tell you as we go?” he suggested. “I would find a patrol interesting to watch, I am sure.”
She hesitated, then nodded. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have him in her sight. “OK, but stand back while I’m working. Spike butts in all the time!”
William raised a scarred eyebrow and her stomach churned. “I would certainly not want to cause you the same sort of annoyance.”
“You have no idea of the sort of annoyance you are causing me,” Buffy muttered under her breath as they walked along the sidewalk towards the cemetery.
“My father was a military man,” William said suddenly into the silence. “I’m afraid I was a great disappointment to him.”
“He wanted a son to be like him, to follow in his footsteps. I’m afraid I was no good at sport. I can ride, of course, but I’m not very good with a gun and I found the marching and saluting especially difficult when I was a child. Father used to make me practice every morning, rain or shine. I had to march up and down the garden path, two hundred times, salute and execute the correct turn each time. If he caught me out of step, I would have to go back to the beginning and start again.”
Buffy found that without realising, she’d reached out to grasp his hand. “That’s awful, William. A form of torture.”
William laughed gently. “Torture? Goodness me, no, Miss Buffy. A child has to be taught his lessons, to obey his elders and betters. My father was very strict and wanted me to go into the Army. So my training began very early. Sadly, though, he died when I was thirteen.”
“In some great battle.”
“And what about your father and mother? Are you and Miss Dawn orphans?”
“Mom died – quite recently.” Buffy found the tears welling up in her eyes and swallowed hard. She wondered if it was the right time to tell him that she’d died, too. “My Dad – well – he’s alive. But he and Mom got divorced some years back now. He’s with someone else.“
William stopped in mid stride. “A divorce? Goodness – I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who put aside their marriage vows.”
Buffy grinned at the shock in his voice. “Well, you’ll soon get used to that in this day and age. Ah, here we are, one of Sunnydale’s finest graveyards. Now, all we want is a couple of vamps to appear, and I can show you how I spend every evening of my life.”
“Someone has lit a bonfire over there,” William stated. “I feel that is not seemly in a cemetery.”
Buffy spun round, frowning and with the vampire following, headed towards the flames. The fire was burning fiercely, red, orange and gold, roaring noisily, sending sparks cascading upwards into the night sky.
“Should we put it out?” William asked, shadows dancing across his face from the leaping flames. “Or find who did it?”
“There’s no water round here,” Buffy replied absently. “And whoever it was is long gone. We’d better just watch it until it dies down.”
She gazed into the flames; there was something hypnotic about the smoke, the dancing colours, the cold –
“William! Is it just me? The fire – it isn’t hot!”
William nodded slowly, his eyes gleaming vampire gold in the reflected light. “Indeed, you are correct, Miss Buffy. I noticed that straight away, but thought because I am now a vampire, that perhaps I couldn’t feel heat. Or that it was just one more miracle in this time and place that I didn’t understand. But you are quite right, this fire – the sensation on my body is easy to recognise. It feels like ice!”
Buffy and William walked round to the far side of the blaze. Great waves of icy air were shimmering out of the flames that danced in gold and orange chaos. There was no smoke, just sparks that flung themselves up and up until they vanished into the velvety black sky.
Buffy was aware of William standing at her shoulder – where Spike would have been, of course, guarding her back. But William seemed blissfully unaware of what was going on in the shadows around them. He was staring thoughtfully at the fire, frowning.
“I’m sure you have realised, Miss Buffy, that this is indeed a – ”
“Demon fire? ”
“So, perhaps your friends did misinterpret the charm. This could be the beginning of untangling those strange words.” His hand lightly touched her shoulder and she shuddered with the desire that was always there, waiting to pounce. “If that is true, we do not need to make love three times after all in order to get your Spike back!”
“We’ve done it three times already,” Buffy whispered crossly. “The verse so never made sense where that’s concerned and you know it!” She glanced round. The gold of the flames was reflected in his eyes and for a moment she was lost in the intensity of his gaze. Only the slightly softer, longer curls, no longer held rigidly flat by gel, reminded her that this was William, not Spike.
The mouth that could send her insane with desire curved into a smile but there was no amusement in his voice. “Why, then if it is not any longer part of the charm, there is nothing to stop us – ” He gestured towards the bushes that bordered the pathway. “Except you would rather I was Spike, of course!”
Buffy glanced back at the demon fire. It was flaring brighter and brighter but the chill it gave off was making her shudder as if she were running a fever. Of course it was that and not the persuasive tug of William’s hand in hers that was making her legs shake, make her desperate to make love to this man.
“That’s not true. Well, yes, I miss Spike. I love him, but you – it’s not that I don’t like you, ” she whispered. “I’m on patrol – and – oh!” He had pulled her hand down to his zip and she felt the thrust of his cock pushing at the thin denim jeans.
“Unleash me, Buffy,” he muttered, and even as her fingers fumbled for his belt buckle, she realised he was no longer calling her Miss.
“I’m cold,” she gasped, her teeth chattering.
“Then, perhaps, for once, I’ll feel warm to you, even if I am not Spike!” With one swift, brutal rip, he tore her top open and Buffy realised, with a flood of hot anticipation that this wasn’t going to be William sweetly making love to her like a gentleman and one part of her gloried in the thought. She needed to pit strength against strength and only Spike and now William could give her that.
Whatever the fire was doing to her, it was affecting William, too. She gasped as his hands covered her breasts. She tugged her jeans down to her knees then kicked off her boots. With a growl, William picked her up and crashed through the bushes to where the grass was damp and long up against an old moss-covered crypt.
Now they were both naked and his mouth and hands were everywhere, touching, pinching, rubbing, stroking, soft then hard. She tried to push his head down but he pinned her hands above her head and growled, “No! No pretending I am someone else. I’m tired of you wanting Spike when you’ve got me.”
“What? No – wait, I don’t – Oh God!” She realised that William was in full game face as he pushed her thighs apart and plunged inside her. The shock of his thrusting drove her further and further along the grass until she was jammed up against the crypt wall.
Buffy needed him deeper, harder, oh god this was impossible! In a surge of red-hot burning sensation, she swung her legs up and drummed her heels hard against his swooping shoulders. Her fingers dug into the mud and she felt a nail snap as his tongue filled her mouth, choking down the screams that were rising in a crescendo inside her throat.
“Think – of – me!” William gasped as he thrust in, pulled back then plunged, seeking to get even deeper. “Not – him! He’s not coming back. I’m here. Feel me! All of me!” The fangs slid lower and Buffy gasped as she felt them graze and break the skin just under her nipple.
Now she threw her head back and screamed, feeling her nails scratching deep into his back as her climax began to build in a torrent of burning fluid, fangs and fists dominating her, subduing her, a hoarse voice demanding she loved him, William.
Then with a strength she rarely used, she flipped William over and holding him tightly inside her, changed the angle and leaning over him, let the blood drip off her nipple into his mouth and this time she rode him until he, in turn, screamed for release and they both crashed together into a place they would never be able to forget.
Buffy struggled to open her eyes as the demon fire flared again behind the bushes. William’s legs were wrapped round hers and she winced as she pulled herself free. The vampire grumbled angrily and reached for her, but she wriggled away.
“We must go home,” she said, trying not to look at him. There was no point in discussing what had happened. Their lovemaking had somehow been affected by the fire; a ride as wild as that couldn’t possibly be caused by anything except magic.
Buffy glanced round the graveyard. It was hard to see into the darkness; the brightness of the fire was ruining her night vision. Obviously William had no such problems. But her senses told her there were no other vamps in the cemetery except William.
“I need to talk to Willow. We need to do some research on demon fires. And fast.” She picked up her top and sighed. It was torn in half and she realised she had nothing to cover her breasts but her denim jacket. She winced as the rough material rubbed at the bite mark. Thank god it was beneath her nipple. At least it wouldn’t show when she wore anything low cut.
William was pulling on Spike’s jeans and boots. He stretched and grinned at her, looking smugly satisfied. “I need to sleep,” he said.
By the time they’d got home, showered and changed and woken Willow it was late. Luckily Dawn didn’t stir, for which “much thankfulness,” Buffy muttered to her friend as she came downstairs, yawning. “I know she wants to help and be involved, but sometimes recently I feel I spend more time looking after her than Slaying. Was she always this clingy? And I know she wasn’t really here, Key and all, but even in my memories she used to be out with her friends a lot, riding bikes, hanging out at the mall, being a pain in the butt, but not under my feet twenty four seven.”
Willow sighed. She knew that Buffy had never come to terms with how her death had affected her friends and family. She’d been so involved with her own feelings of loss at being dragged out of heaven; trying at first to disguise her sense of desolation, then accepting that she had to get on with living again. In all that emotional turmoil, had she ever wondered how Dawn had felt, watching her sister die instead of her? It wasn’t as simple as losing her to an accident. That would have been bad enough. But Dawn had all the additional burden of knowing she was The Key, that Buffy was dying in her place.
An only child, Willow tried to imagine how she would have felt as a young teenager, if Xander, for example, had died in her place. Guilt, overwhelming, never-ending guilt. And that was what Dawn had had to contend with all those months. If it hadn’t been for Spike – his grief had been hard to watch and Dawn had been jolted out of her own despair in trying to comfort the vampire – Willow had no idea what would have happened to Dawn.
She would never forget her face when Buffy had arrived back. The joy in her eyes had been almost frightening. And now Buffy acted as if she’d been away for the weekend and why was Dawn making such a fuss about it all this time later?
“I think she feels if she lets you out of her sight for long, you’ll vanish,” she said abruptly, “and you don’t help by constantly finding reasons to hang out with Spike, or work double shifts!” and could tell from Buffy’s startled glance that she had spoken in a harsher tone than she meant to use.
“Oh great. Then I’ll just stay at home and babysit Dawn and we can starve happily together. Then maybe everyone will be pleased.”
William stared gravely from one girl to the other and sensed the growing tension in the air. “Well, Miss Dawn is safely in bed now,” he said diplomatically changing the subject. “Have you any ideas about the demon fire we experienced in the cemetery, Miss Willow?”
Willow poured milk on a bowl of cereal and stirred it slowly, round and round. “I’ve read about demon fire somewhere. Not recently, not just in the charm. I’ll hit the Magic Box in the morning and see if I can hunt it up. But Buffy, where exactly was the bonfire?”
“In the old cemetery behind the High School. Just past where those two big stone angels stand,” Buffy said absentmindedly, already worrying about what to do with William when she went to work in the morning.
Willow’s spoon halted half way to her mouth, milk dripping unnoticed onto the table-top. “You don’t mean behind the old Bellingham crypt?”
Buffy frowned. “What? Oh, yes, somewhere round there. I didn’t notice exactly.” She didn’t want to tell Willow that her senses had been too overwhelmed with what William was doing to her to notice the name of the crypt she was lying against as they made love.
Willow stared at her, wide-eyed. William reached over and tidily took the spoon from her frozen hand and replaced it in the bowl.
“Buffy – don’t you remember whose grave was just there?”
“What – who – oh – OH!” Buffy went pale and stood up, sending her chair flying. The memories came flooding back. “That - that was where The Master was buried, before he was dug up again!”
“But, Will, it can’t be anything to do with him? I pounded his skeleton into bits. He’s gone. Dust. Finished for ever.”
“But what happened to the dust?” the witch whispered, looking uneasily over her shoulder as if that skull-like face was about to appear, the grisly hands reach out to touch her.
“Who was The Master?” William asked cheerfully. “He sounds important.”
“He was a super vampire, head of the Clan of Orios,” Buffy said automatically, all her old loathing of the monster flooding back. “He killed me once. I killed him – twice. ”
William raised his eyebrows but didn’t comment. So much was strange at the moment that perhaps even this odd statement was normal in this place and time.
“Aurelius,” Willow muttered, unable not to correct her friend.
“Whatever! Do you mean you think the demon fire is some way of getting him – what – made whole again? He was dust, dusty bits of dusty dust. Splinters. You could have put what remained of his skull in that egg timer over there. How many times do I have to kill him? And it’s been years. Wouldn’t this have happened ages ago?”
“I don’t know, Buffy. It just seems such a coincidence that the demon fire is burning right about where his original grave was. Perhaps the dust and bits of bone were buried again by some demon –”
“And now he’s coming back!”
“Miss Buffy – I accept that this is all speculation,” William broke in, “but remember the second line of the charm – ”
Buffy stared at him, the horror growing inside her. “The Old Returns,” she whispered, and rubbed her arms, which had suddenly gone cold.
To be continued