Never Alone by Lilachigh
Chp 9 No head or heart
Clem’s car jumped forward and stalled. Buffy was suffocating as the black oily mass wound itself round her. She tried to punch, but it was like fighting vomit smelling fudge: it gave way beneath her fists, but she knew she wasn’t doing it any harm. She tried to yell, but got a mouthful of foulness and began to choke. Oh god, she was going to die. Back in Sunnydale, trapped in a silly little red car, she was going to be killed, not by a vamp or a demon, but by a black lump of evil smelling goo! ‘You shouldn’t have let Spike out of your sight. Told you so!’ a voice in her brain squealed.
Spike! No, she’d just found him. She wasn’t going to die when he was still alive. She flung herself round in the seat, fighting to open the door. She was drowning in this filth, her head was aching, she couldn’t see or breathe and she refused to give in to it....her hand caught on the winder for the window and she managed to turn it. The window slid down and then her fist connected with the horn.
The noise blared through the car and Buffy felt the black mass quiver. She leaned heavily on the horn and with a shudder, the thing let go of her and heaved itself through the half open window and vanished.
Buffy sat, gasping, staring out at the empty, dusty road outside the half-built shopping mall. She glanced round at the back seat: it looked untouched. A book of maps, some old Coke cans and a Big Mac carton. A couple of little plastic toys that she assumed belonged to Tosh, unless Clem had started playing with Spider Man models - and, no she wouldn’t go down that road.
Gingerly she started the engine again. So she was guessing that was a Shade. Nasty piece of work and not one she was in a hurry to meet again. But at least she knew it had one weak spot - it didn’t like loud noise. She giggled and imagined herself ringing Giles. “Hey Rupert, we’ve got some great new suburban demons in good old Sunnydale. You’d get on really well with them. They hate loud noise while driving - just like you.” But they weren’t funny. How could little Tosh fight against that? It had almost done for her. It was hard to kill something that didn’t have a head or a heart.
The drive through the newly constructed part of Sunnydale was uneventful. Buildings were springing up in all directions: everything looked new and raw, but at least the town was beginning to take on some sort of shape once more. And horrors of horrors, there was even a school being built! She wondered if anyone had thought to check out the site before they started construction work. It was impossible to tell, but somewhere down there was a Hellmouth. Shut for good - well, she hoped for good. Why did she have the nasty, tingly feeling that the school was just about where the old one used to be?
She felt a wave of sadness sweep over her as she drove. It was so hard to accept that underneath all this construction work lay the remains of the old Sunnydale. Her home, her mother’s grave, Tara’s, Anya’s unburied body. All swept away for ever.
But as the building areas disappeared, Buffy realised she was back on the outskirts again, where Willie’s Bar was situated. Here, the sun didn’t seem to shine so brightly, the air was thicker, a feeling of menace hung everywhere. The buildings looked rough and ready, more like temporary shacks that had been thrown together overnight. There were few people around and those that were scurried along, heads down, not looking up to catch her gaze. They seemed scared, and down-trodden. If they were the new population of Sunnydale, they didn’t look very happy about it, she thought.
Parking outside Willie’s, she heard yelling and thumping from inside the Bar. She raced to the door and flung it open, then had to dodge as Willie came sailing through the air, squealing, narrowly missing her. She grinned. “Spike?”
“Slayer?” He strode forward from the shadows at the back of the room, his black coat swirling around him. “Sorry, didn’t mean to hit you. Just questioning rat-life here about young Tosh.”
Willie picked himself up, groaning loudly, and limped back inside. “I’ve told you, Spike, I don’t know anything about a baby demon. And how come you can hit me? What happened to your chip?”
Buffy’s fist connected with his chin and sent him sprawling. “You’re a long way behind with the vampire gossip, Willie. Spike doesn’t have a chip anymore - soul, yes, but chip, no. The only thing that’s preventing him from killing you is himself. And, to be honest, if you’ve had something to do with Tosh’s disappearance, then I won’t stand in his way.”
Spike raised the newly scarred eyebrow. “Like to see you try, Slayer!” He frowned. Why did this woman think she could go against him and win? Part of him was very tempted to wind her up and see what happened. Punching her might be fun. He staggered slightly as a bolt of pain shot through his brain and a flash of something inside his head showed him punching her, her kicking him, rolling on a dusty wooden floor, a wall breaking as they kissed, locked in each other’s arms and she reached down and - No! He couldn’t be remembering any such thing. It was impossible.
Willie was looking scared. “B..b..buffy, this isn’t the old Sunnydale. There’s some very nasty creatures here. They make your average vamp or demon look like pussy cats.”
“Willie, the last time we were in Sunnydale, we were fighting the First and closing the Hellmouth for good. You’d left town long before. Really not too concerned about the various baddies that hang out round here now. I’ve just had a run in with one of those Shadey things. Not nice but hey, I’m still here.”
Spike glanced up sharply. “You OK?” Then he frowned, a puzzled look on his face. Why on earth should he be worried if the Slayer was OK or not? Surely he should be pleased to hear she’d had a brush with a nasty.
“Fine. They don’t like loud noise. And they’re kind of stinky. Apart from that - well, we’ve seen and killed far worse. But we’re still no closer to finding Tosh. Clem will be going out of his mind.”
Spike hauled Willie up off the floor once more. “I’ve got a feeling our friend here knows far more than he’s saying.” He vamped out and bent towards Willie, who screamed like a girl.
“OK! OK! I’ll tell you, but you didn’t hear it from me. And I’m only telling you because I kind of like Clem, not because you’re scaring me.”
Buffy thumped the bar with her fist making all the bottles and glasses jump and rattle. “Willie, fast loosing my patience over here. Where’s Tosh? Have the Shades taken him?”
“I heard that they did have him, but he must have gotten away, because they’ve been hunting again. And they don’t do that if they’ve - well, if they’ve fed.”
Spike growled and tossed him over the bar. He crashed into the shelves, bringing down a cascade of bottles and the rich heady smell of alcohol filled the air.
Buffy frowned, her memory giving her pictures of the little boy demon who looked so much like Clem. Except his skin wasn’t quite as wrinkled as his dad’s. Clem who’d always been her friend. Who’d helped so many times with Dawn. Who even now, when he had a wife and child and responsibilities and could be forgiven for turning his back on all the old times, had looked after Spike, found him a place to stay and cared for him, even when the vampire hadn’t even remembered who he was.
“Spike, Tosh is little more than a toddler. How could he possibly get away from them? Where would he go? Jeez, he must be so scared.”
“I’ve been doing a bit of asking around on the way here, Slayer. The tunnels run in all directions under Sunnydale. It’s almost as if the whole warren had been built before people started putting up buildings on the bloody land. I reckon I know where the Shades have been hanging out. It’s a sort of cave, just under the surface of the ground with an entry into what looks as if it’s going to be a cemetery one day soon.”
“Oh great! Another cemetery. Just what I need. Okay, let’s get going. Why aren’t I surprised that we’re going down into a damp, musty tunnel system? I wonder why I never get to fight evil somewhere nice and comfortable. If Tosh has wandered off into those tunnels, anything could have happened to him. Pity I haven’t got a drum; it would be really useful if we meet another Shade. ”
“I can always sing.”
Buffy threw him a startled look. She kept forgetting. He was standing there, one booted foot on the bar rail, his hair half brown, half platinum at the tips of the curls. He was just - Spike. But he obviously had no recollection of being controlled by the First through a song his mother had once sang to him and Buffy didn’t think it was the right time to tell him!
“No, no singing, no humming, no chanting. If we meet a Shade, just shout and keep shouting. I’ll scream!”
Spike grinned. He knew she was the Slayer and all he had to hate, but there was something appealing about her, standing there, small but brave, hands on hips, tight jeans on her slim legs, and a top that left nothing to his imagination. Really, T-shirts that fitted that close in this heat were going to get damp and cling. He wondered lazily if the Slayer knew just how much she was showing him and to his horror, realised he was beginning to like her. Like her a lot.
Buffy prowled along a narrow dark tunnel that lay deep underneath the ground where the town of Sunnydale was being rebuilt. She’d found a flashlight in the bar and swung it from side to side to illuminate the uneven ground beneath her feet. They had to find these Shades, to discover if they were holding Tosh. The thought terrified her: he’d be so scared. According to Spike, they ate their captives! How could she ever face the gentle, wrinkle skinned demon again if that happened to his son and she failed to prevent it? Behind her she could sense Spike following with every fibre of her being. The sound of his boots on the rocky pathway stirred up dangerous memories. How many times had they patrolled and hunted like this in the past? She’d never dreamt they would again.
Well, that wasn’t strictly true, of course. She’d had many dreams about them patrolling together, and laughing, and fighting, and making love. Dreams that had left her weak and sick and aching for a man she would never see again. And now he was here, walking behind her, grumbling to himself in usual Spike fashion.
“One minute I’m having a nice read, lying on me bed, happy as a sandboy and now look at me, trekking through tunnels looking for bleedin’ Shades with the bleedin’ Slayer!”
Buffy felt her lips twitch. She didn’t need to turn to know what the expression was on his face. She knew he was enjoying himself. The talk was just that - vampire talk.
Spike didn’t need the flashlight to see where he was going, but for some reason, the swinging yellow beam made him feel happy. He watched the slim shape in front of him and grinned at the sway of her hips in the tight jeans. Hmmm. Very nice. But that apart - he was beginning to get angry with himself. What was happening to him? Cheerfully going along with the Slayer on her quest. He was evil, a vampire, a big bad. He should be acting like one. Why had he let the Slayer take the lead? He must be getting weak, allowing a girl be in charge.
Still, it was better for her to be in front than have her behind him. Although - he frowned - the thought of Slayer and stake and imminent death in one package didn’t worry him as much as it should. And that was wrong. Very wrong. He had to start behaving like the vampire he was, otherwise, who would he be? Nothing and nobody. Suddenly he reached out and grabbed her arm. He sniffed the air. “Up ahead, Slayer,” he murmured. “Shades!”
Buffy switched off the light and they stood there in the enveloping dark. She was trembling - not from fear but the feeling of his fingers on her bare skin. He was still holding her arm and one of his fingers was absentmindedly tracing a delicate circle in the fine golden hairs. “How many?” she whispered at last.
“Three, maybe four. They’re not easy to distinguish. God they stink! Rotten eggs and sweaty socks times a thousand. No wonder no one knows much about them. Shouldn’t think anyone’s got close to them for centuries.”
“Can you sense Tosh?” Buffy eased her arm away from his hand. She needed to concentrate on finding Clem’s son and having Spike standing so close to her wasn’t helping her do that.
“Nope. I don’t think he’s there, but to be honest, Slayer, the stink's so bad, it kind of hides all other scents, even from a vampire.”
Buffy hesitated. She knew she couldn’t defeat these things by her normal fighting methods. No, she was going to have to be far more tricky.
“So, what are we waiting for?” Spike muttered in her ear, his lips brushing the lobe in what felt like - a kiss?
She pulled away. No way. That had just been a misjudgment of distance on his part in the dark. This Spike, with his memories of their feelings for each other destroyed in the L.A. battle, would have no reason to kiss her ear. “It’s pointless rushing in and attacking them,” she whispered crossly. “I only just got away from the one in the car. As far as I can tell, they only react to noise. It’s far more important to find Tosh. We can come back with another plan to wipe them out later on.”
Even in the pitch black, she could almost see the expression on Spike’s face. “You want me to back down from a fight, Slayer? No way!”
“Spike, this isn’t about your pride or my inclinations to destroy demons. This is about a little boy who’s lost in these passages. If the Shades are still hunting him, then we’ve got to get to him first. If you want to waste your time fighting them, that’s up to you. But my priorities are quite clear and if you’re really Clem’s friend, then so should yours be.”
“The only reason Clem is my friend is because he says he is!” Spike snapped, rubbing at the new scar that slashed through his eyebrow. Where had it come from? He had no idea. “I don’t remember him from any other demon.”
“But you let him help you.” She heard the rustle of his leather duster as he shrugged.
“Hey, if he wants to go out of his way to be of use, that’s down to him, Slayer. Me, I’ve always been bad. I don’t think I have any friends. I travel light. Always have, always will.”
Buffy flinched and the hairs on the back of her neck suddenly stirred. This wasn’t the old Spike of the Apocalypse days talking. And she was putting herself in great danger by forgetting that. This was a unchipped vampire. Okay, he had a soul, but he’d even forgotten that. If you couldn’t remember getting one, if you didn’t know you had one, did that make a difference to the way you acted? Same old story, she thought miserably. Are you good because you have a soul, or are you just plain good? She knew what Giles would say. But she’d experienced too much over the last few years to be sure.
She tried to move away from Spike; they were wasting time, they had to find Tosh. Then the darkness in front of her became solid, there was the smell of leather and whisky and she realised his vampire speed had moved him into her path. “Get out of the way, Spike. We haven’t time for - ”
His mouth came crashing down on hers, taking her breath. His hands were holding her arms down at her sides as he kissed her, long and thoroughly. There was a roaring sound in her head, a desperate feeling of coming home: this was safety, this was where she belonged. Every sense in her body wanted to respond, needed to push herself against him, wrap her arms round his neck, kiss him back, let him in.
But she couldn’t. This wasn’t a lover’s kiss. This was a domination. Vampire, Slayer, bad versus good. Spike was acting, not out of love, but as he thought he should. And that made her want to weep. She schooled herself to stand still. Not to respond or move a muscle in his direction. At long last he drew back and whispered into the dark, “See, Slayer, bad as they come.”
Buffy lifted a shaking hand and, in the dark. wiped the tears from her cheeks. No point in getting upset, she told herself fiercely. He doesn’t remember you. Pretend this is the Spike you met back in school when your mom hit him on the head with an axe. The Spike who would cheerfully have killed you. Had, in fact, killed two Slayers before you. Pretend all that has happened over the seven years you’ve known him never took place.
She called on every bit of acting ability she had. “Fancy your powers of seduction, do you?” she laughed. “Goodness me, Spike, you’ve got a lot to learn about women, obviously. I’m trembling all over from your charms - not! That was absolutely disgusting. Have you ever heard of a toothbrush and what you do with it? And if you ever touch me again - well, just never touch me again - especially as I need to get my tetanus jabs up to date! Now, if you’ve quite finished with the theatricals, I’m going to look for Tosh. You can do what you like. Hey, nothing new there, then!”
Spike heard her turn and head off down a side tunnel, away from the smell of the Shades. He watched as she turned on the torch once more and he could see the beam of yellow light getting smaller and smaller as she walked away. He reached up and rubbed his scar. And no, his hand was not trembling. He was just - cold? Hey, vampire. No, but he’d been ill, wounded, he told himself fiercely. That was why he was trembling.
Why had he kissed her? To prove to her that he was all bad, and not some namby- pamby poofter who could be ordered around just as she wanted. But that kiss. He reached out a hand to support himself against the rocky wall of the passage. Holding her in his arms - that had seemed so - so normal. So right. As if he’d come home to safety after a long, dangerous journey.
And as the bobbing yellow light vanished round a bend in the passage, Spike realised one thing. He had been able to see her quite clearly, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. He’d watched her wipe the tears from her face, puzzled because he hadn’t understood why she was crying. But what was far more important was this - not once had she wiped his kiss from her mouth.
to be continued