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, the events in that episode haven’t occurred.
Feedback: This is my first story posted to fanfiction.net. I’d appreciate reviews: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 9: Exeunt
For several moments, the players merely stood and stared at each other. Dawn was now alone at one end of the corridor, and Spike, Buffy and the men in black (suits) were gathered haphazardly at the other. Spike had managed to get himself upright for the third time tonight, but remained staring stupidly at the haze of smoke that slowly dissipated from Dawn’s direction.
“Spike?” Dawn asked, and he realized that she was waiting on instructions from him. At this sign of uncertainty, one goon began to step closer. Spike snapped out of his stupor and went to her side.
“Give it here,” he said, and she handed over the gun without protest. He turned to face the men.
“Everybody’s who’s not Kehoe can leave,” he told them.
No one moved. Spike raised the shotgun.
The three largest hastily trooped past Spike and out of the hallway. After a moment, the smaller, older fellow that remained belatedly tried to follow. Spike grabbed him up by his pressed shirt, nearly lifting him off his feet.
“Don’t think so, mate. You must be the man of the hour.”
Relieved of the shotgun, Dawn seemed suddenly deflated. She walked slowly past Spike to crouch at her sister’s side. “Buffy?” she asked timidly. “Is that you?”
The was no response from the whimpering, jerking figure. Dawn reached out a hand to still Buffy’s flailing, and Buffy’s arm shot out at the contact, backhanding Dawn across the face. Dawn fell back, clutching her stinging cheek, confused and frightened. Spike watched the exchange with growing disquiet.
“We’re out of here,” he said, whether to himself or the others he wasn't sure. “Dawn, come back here. Come, now,” he snapped, when looked uncertainly down at her sister. Never letting Kehoe out of his sight, Spike walked to Buffy and scooped her up in his arms.
She mumbled unintelligibly, fought him, cried out in a pain Spike could only imagine. He wanted to sit with her for hours and soothe her and pet her until she calmed, until she was untroubled.
He settled for a light brush of his lips on her forehead. A little whisper-kiss, but she seemed to still briefly. When the convulsions started again, he nodded curtly to Dawn. “Out the back,” he said tightly. “There’s an exit behind the deejay booth on the first floor.”
They formed a curious procession through the club: the lanky girl who led; the twitchy, middle-aged gentleman who trotted nervously behind her; and finally the punk -- steel-eyed and sinister, carrying a thrashing young woman in his arms.
The crowd stirred uneasily as they walked through the belly of the club, then up the stairs to the main level. But no one interfered. Even the beefy, unruffled bouncers simply stepped aside as they passed, mindful of Spike's easy handling of the weapon.
As they neared the back exit, Spike could hear sirens approaching. Half a mile, maybe less, he surmised. Their little floor show was running out of time.
He poked Kehoe with the shotgun, hard, between the man's shoulder blades. "Keep moving," he ordered. In front of them, Dawn's head weaved and bobbed as she made her way through the crowd.
Finally, finally they were outside, and Spike briefly entertained the idea of killing Kehoe then and there -- for all the trouble he'd created, the hurt he'd caused Dawn and Buffy, and for the sheer pleasure of watching the man die slowly and tortuously from a gut shot.
But someone had to fix Buffy. And according to Giles, Kehoe might be their only hope.
Afterwards, Spike comforted himself, after Buffy was right again and Dawn had her sister back and the Summers girls were safely ensconced in Sunnydale where they belonged, then Spike would have his opportunity.
Chip or no.
"What now?" Dawn asked.
Spike glared at her. "You know where the car is parked," he said sarcastically. “Lead the way.”
Dawn blanched a little at his tone. “You’re going to be really mad when we get home, aren’t you?” she asked in a small voice.
He cocked his head at her, and his gaze softened. “No.”
Dawn let out a breath.
“I’m really mad now. I’m about ready to take a strap to your bony ass,” he continued furiously, and Dawn’s eyes widened.
“What the bloody hell were you thinking? Did your brain turn to fucking tapioca since I last saw you? You could have been killed back there. I’ve a mind to do you in myself. How the hell did you even get in, with this monster?” He waved the shotgun recklessly, and both Kehoe’s and Dawn’s attention followed the direction of the barrel. He shifted Buffy’s weight with his free arm and went on. “How did you even get out of the hotel? Where were Clem’s boys? And didn’t I distinctly tell you when we practiced that you were only to use this gun if a boy got fresh with you –"
Footsteps sounded behind them. Running, and drawing ever closer. Spike’s hand tightened around the shotgun, and Dawn was afraid for a moment that he’d mow them all down out of sheer frustration.
Instead, he gathered Buffy closer to him, prodded Kehoe with a rough kick, and looked back at Dawn. “Had enough of the Father Knows Fucking Best routine anyway,” he said coldly, and Dawn flinched.
“Go,” he told her. Dawn took off, chastened, running as much from Spike’s wrathful displeasure as from their unknown pursuers.
Fifty feet around the corner was the DeSoto, and Dawn hurriedly yanked the doors open. Spike pushed her none too gently into the backseat, then laid Buffy down carefully next to her. “You,” he motioned to Kehoe. “Up front with me.” Kehoe slid into the passenger seat without argument. Spike then transferred the gun back to Dawn. “You keep that muzzle trained on the back of his head,” he ordered her, noting with bitter amusement Kehoe’s wince. “If he moves, pull the trigger.” He shut the doors and went to the driver’s side, shutting the door just as six extremely burly bouncers rounded the corner with a pair of LAPD officers in tow.
Let’s fly, Pigeon.
Fly they did, through the deserted downtown streets and onto the freeway – which one Spike didn’t know. He only wanted to make tracks away from the area, until the police presence receded and they could safely return to the hotel. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, because if he didn’t he’d tear his hair out by the seldom-seen roots. They drove for long minutes in silence. Dawn restrained Buffy as best she could, while balancing the shotgun precariously. She cradled Buffy’s head in her lap, crooning to her.
“Tell me what you did to her,” Spike said to Kehoe.
The little man eyed Spike with no small amount of trepidation. He appeared to sense that there was no good answer.
Spike’s right hand left the steering wheel and balled into a fist.
“It was a-a-a spell! An enchantment!”
“A spell. Color me surprised,” came Dawn’s peevish voice from the backseat.
“Keep going,” Spike prompted him.
“It’s,” Kehoe swallowed audibly, “it’s Polynesian. The Huna teachings, the old ways. I couldn’t possibly explain it to an uninitiated such as yourself.”
Spike digested this, nodded. “Roll down your window,” he told Kehoe. Kehoe, confused, stared at Spike, who stared back impassively. Kehoe did as he was told.
“Dawn?” Spike’s voice was deceptively calm.
“Shoot Mr. Kehoe. From an angle, if you please. I don’t fancy brains on the dash unless I’ve put them there myself.”
“Wait!” Kehoe was visibly shaking now.
“It’s – I – the effect of the spell was to remove her aumakua. Her higher self,” Kehoe explained. “Leaving her devoid of compassion, of inhibitions. That was the kind of Slayer I wanted. One who would understand my needs, and satisfy them.”
Spike’s balled fist shot out, seemingly of its own accord. The blow caught Kehoe on the chin and knocked the man against the passenger door. Spike hissed as pain rocketed through his brain.
“Bastard,” Spike ground out. “You touched her – you fucking molested her –“
“No!” Kehoe yelped. “I swear, I didn’t lay a hand on her. I had no prurient interest in her, I assure you.”
“You probably go for, like, sheep and stuff,” Dawn piped up from the backseat, while Spike, in his relief, found himself wondering how many years it had been since he’d heard the word ‘prurient’ spoken aloud.
“Then what?” Spike asked. “What did you want with her?”
Kehoe rubbed his faintly wrinkled forehead. “In my line of work, I deal with many…unsavory characters. Individuals that are simply too powerful for a normal human – even a wealthy and influential one – to combat successfully. I had assorted demons in my employ, but they were a notoriously unreliable lot.”
Spike knew this to be true, and was pretty sure he had pieced together the situation. “So, let me see if I’ve got this right,” he said carefully. “You figured with a Slayer – the Slayer – on the payroll, you’d clean up your monster messes around town. Accounts receivable, Welcome Wagon, that sort of thing.”
Kehoe’s shoulders slumped. “Yes.”
Spike shook his head. “You were using her as muscle?”
“Well.” Spike thought for a moment. “That’s…that’s actually quite…”
“Lame,” Dawn supplied.
“Yeah,” Spike said. “That’s…really…lame.”
Kehoe frowned. “Then why did no one do it before?” he asked a bit huffily.
“Because it’s so lame,” Dawned shouted, and kicked the back of Kehoe’s seat.
“All right, then,” Spike said. “We’re going to bring her higher self back, to stay. Is that clear?” His eyes pinned Kehoe.
“I need materials. Unique ingredients that can’t be found within a thousand miles of here.”
Spike smiled. “Oh, I wager they can be found very close to here. You seem a practical sort of man. Cautious. Prepared for any eventuality. I think you have plenty of ‘ingredients’ squirreled away in whatever hole you call home. Isn’t that so?”
Kehoe hesitated, then hung his head.
“That’s more like it,” Spike muttered. Kehoe’s voice trembled as he directed them toward Buffy’s release.
“Take then 10 west. It ends at the Pacific Coast Highway. My estate is in the Pacific Palisades…”
To Spike, Kehoe’s words were sweet salvation. His focus whittled to a pinpoint, a tiny glowing promise. It guided him across the sprawling wasteland of Los Angeles; it blocked out the wrenching sounds of Buffy’s miserable struggles; it ignored the hurt and fear that emanated from Dawn. It was singular and without dispute.
I will make this right again.
I will make something right.
Continued in Part 10: Coming Around Again