By Devil Piglet
Disclaimer: All characters of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are used without permission.
Author’s Notes: This is set post-‘Hell’s Bells’, and while it overlaps some themes of ‘Normal Again’, for my purposes, that events in that episode haven’t occurred.
Feedback: This is my first story posted to fanfiction.net. I’d appreciate reviews: email@example.com.
Part 2: (No) Vacancy
Spike was rarely accused of being practical, but over a century of un-life some lessons he’d learned had stuck. His and Dru’s penchant for making themselves unwelcome had taught him the art of timely escape. He kept a getaway bag at the ready, crammed full of necessities, small valuables that could be sold easily, and those odd little items that life on the road demanded.
He’d stowed the bag when he moved into the crypt and then forgotten about it; it was the only way he was able to resist the temptation to rifle through it when he was hard up for smokes or blood. And he’d shown admirable restraint, hadn’t he? Not even a little nip, all this time.
Well, pretty much.
When he’d seen, up close, Buffy’s new life at that benighted burger joint he’d been ready to dump the bag and all its contents on the counter of the first pawnbroker in town. Screw his escape clause; if the trinkets he’d collected over the years could buy Buffy out of that hellhole it would have been worth it times ten.
But, of course, she’d brushed him off. Let him shag her sideways in the alley outside, but help her? Forget it.
The upshot being that his stash remained untouched, for an occasion such as this. Now he shot a glance at Dawn. He hadn’t exactly been planning on taking a teenaged girl along for the ride.
She turned her terrified face to his.
“Can you – is it safe to go back to the house?” He steeled himself against her stricken expression. “We’re going to be traveling for…a while. You’ll want your things. Clothes and such.”
Finally, the slightest dip of her chin. “Okay.”
He bundled her into the car and pressed the duffel into her hands, more to give her something to hang onto than any other reason. She gripped the bag’s handles fiercely, knuckles whitened.
He gunned the engine and headed for Revello Drive.
Dawn was in and out of the house before Spike finished his first cigarette. Of course, it took him longer than normal to smoke it. What with the shaking hands and all.
He made a path for Harris’ apartment. He’d actually been there a few times, over the summer, when old grudges were forgotten in favor of the shared masking of grief. Anya had sniffed something about biologically inherited male repression and disappeared into the bedroom while Xander and Spike parked themselves on the couch and watched ESPN or TV Land.
He’d heard demon girl had taken off after the non-nuptials, so Spike assumed she’d been spared whatever carnage had been wreaked by this new incarnation of Buffy Summers. That left Harris, Willow and Tara.
Thinking about all this made his head hurt. There was a reason vampires didn’t play well with others. Even for the chipped variety, of whom Spike was the single unhappy representative, concern for the wellbeing of Humans Who Are Not Buffy Or Dawn was a struggle.
He never made it to the apartment. As Spike made the left turn onto Waverly Dawn spied the blue-red pulse of police lights down the street. “Look!”
The Magic Box was now just another Sunnydale crime scene; yellow tape cordoned off the front door, although there was nothing left worth stealing. The shop was a burned-out husk. He parked several yards away and got out. One look at Dawn told him she would stay put. He kept the car, and her little white face peering anxiously out the window, in his sights as he approached what was left of the store.
The acrid smell of fire and damp, that pungent, peculiar mix so characteristic of tragedy, asaulted his senses. He stepped gingerly around the debris and the more sharp-eyed of cops and approached a female EMT.
A few minutes later he was back in the car. He sat for a moment, mouth set in a grim line. “They were all inside. Just them, though. No customers.” He suspected Buffy had gathered them there, but that wasn’t something he was about to share with Dawn. “They were…attacked, then the place was torched.”
“They were alive when the ambulance left.” He exhaled slowly, weariness pushing the useless breath from his lungs. “We really have to go now. ‘Kay?”
But she had retreated into herself, shrinking back against the battered leather upholstery and fixing her gaze somewhere in the distance. He started the car again and drove off.
Waitwaitwait…Wait ‘til she’s distracted…
Lights whizzing by. Fast. She’s in a car. Driving? No. Passenger. Look around, stay casual. Road signs, landmarks, anything.
Can’t concentrate. Wondering, wondering – had it worked? Had she saved her? Grief and fear welling up in her, spilling over. Oh, God, Dawnie...
A roaring filled her ears, unintelligible sounds of rage that spiraled higher and higher. She tried to hang on, tried to assert control–
“Bitch,” Buffy hissed. “You think you can trick me? This is my house now.”
The cabbie frowned and watched her in the rearview mirror. “Ma’am? You okay?”
She smiled, dazzling and golden. “Sorry. Just talking to myself.”
On their way out of town, half a mile from the on-ramp to the 5, Spike screeched to a halt. He stared up at the vision – for how long, he didn’t know – then peeled off.
Behind them, the broken remains of the BuffyBot hung crucified atop a telephone pole.
Continued in Part 3: Waking