Sequel to Voices in the Dark; part of The Voicesverse
Summary: Let's see. To make a long story short, the Initiative is making vampire soldiers and using Spike's ex to do it. Spike is back in Sunnydale, armed with a soul, but still with chip. Xander thinks he knows a way around it, but isn't being very cooperative. Spike has also taken in a stray, a vampire named Daniel, and is trying to deal with Daniel, his new soul, as well as his feelings for the slayer. Buffy is just trying to deal, period, with 'new and improved' Spike. And the hits just keep on coming...
Spoilers: Serious Season 7 AU, takes place after my fic, Voices in the Dark
Distribution: Just talk to me, I'm easy. Previous chapters are at Fanfiction.net and, thankfully, at Chris' site "Amare, Dare, Pardonare"
Disclaimers: All Joss, all ME, all the time...
Feedback: You betta, you betta, you bet! Would love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Chris and Colleen. And to Kelly and Christy and Chen who let me spin them a fanwank at the con...
She felt rather than saw Spike coming up the stairs. He looked at her a bit shocked. She'd left Jonathan there only a few hours before.
"Don't you ever bloody sleep?" he growled.
She grimaced as she finished closing the door on the bright mid-morning outside. "Not lately. Besides I got a couple of hours after Dawn left for school." And back to business with a subtle shift of her face and body, Spike marveled. "Where did you find Daniel anyway?"
Oh, hell. He'd wondered when she'd finally link his finding Daniel with the Initiative. And Spike was loath to tell her any more than she already knew. "A place I used to go sometimes when I was in the mood for a spot," he hedged vaguely.
"A spot." She looked at him, almost tapping her foot, waiting for his explanation.
He sighed. "A spot of violence, love."
"Oh. Right. Where?"
Spike didn't want to take Buffy within two miles of the cave, or if his suspicions were correct, Drusilla. He'd had plenty to think about since she'd left a little after the sun had come up. Unfortunately, his mind had bounced around and he really didn't have a lot to show for it. There was Drusilla, of course. Then, Jonathan and his revelation about the computer chip - and Spike's decision.
And now, Buffy was asking questions about the caves with the tell-tale outlines of at least three stakes on her person - in broad daylight, too.
Bloody buggerin' hell.
Realizing that the slayer was staring at him with her patented look of frustration, exasperation and impatience, he almost lost his temper. "In the bloody caves!" At the look on her face, he decided his tone could have been a bit of an overreaction to her innocent query for information.
"Sorry, love," he demurred. "Tryin' to talk over the voices in my head."
She gave him a suspicious look. "Whatever. The initiative caves? Well, isn't that just dandy?"
"Probably not such a good idea to go snoopin' around in there, right, pet?" he said hopefully. Right. Well, it was worth a shot anyway.
She ignored his question and asked one of her own. "Can we get there through the tunnels? From here?"
The vampire stared at her, suddenly seeing where this was all going. He scratched his head. "Well. Yeah. It's the long way 'round, but... yeah. Yeah, we can. This is a 'we' thing, right?"
"Well, I could always take GI Vamp downstairs..."
"Oh, yeah. Right. Except he still forgets he's a vampire. Strength of five men and he goes into heart failure when he manages to open a bloody jar. Or would - if he wasn't already dead."
"Okay, you're elected. *If* you can manage to call up some of that old time killer instinct when we need it."
Well, that hurt! Of course, his slayer really didn't have a clue about all the conflict that raged within him every time he thought about going on patrol these days. Oversensitive much, he thought, hearing Buffy's flippant voice. God, this was line of thought was veering off into William-the-Broodydom. He smiled. "See if I can drag 'classic' Spike up when needed, Slayer. Least I can do."
Good? A year ago, two years ago, it was 'bad.' Well, that wasn't precisely true, was it? She'd welcomed his help with Glory - even asked for it.
"Okay," she said with a nod. "So 'we' go. Just wish we knew a little more about what's going on."
No, pet, you don't, he thought. I know 'more' and I'm damned sorry I do.
"Then, when we get back, we'll see if Jonathan's any closer to having a handle on the spell."
Spike fixed Buffy with bright blue eyes. "There's a bit of a problem with that, Slayer."
"Hey," Jonathan looked over his shoulder as he looked out through the crack in the door. "How'd you know I was here?"
Xander snorted. "I'm your babysitter. And his," he said, nodding toward the downstairs. "What do you think of the pet vampire's pet?"
"Oh, he's nice, I guess," Jonathan said grudgingly. "Quiet though. Here I finally have the opportunity to stop speaking high school Spanish and no one cares!"
"Yep, it's pretty much all about Spike right now," Xander said with an eye roll. "Of course, this time last year, it was the Year of Buffy, so..." He let the sentence hang there.
"Well, you know. He seems okay. For a vampire."
Xander laughed ruefully. "Don't let him fool you. He's all full of soul now, but... So. When do you do it?"
"What do you mean what? Hocus pocus the chip."
"Oh, that. I'm not. Spike said 'no.'"
Xander was incredulous. "What?"
Nodding, Jonathan walked across the room and sat down in the comfortable chair, leaving Xander standing by the door. "That's right. Buffy told me to get to work on the spell, but Spike told me to forget it. 'Bugger it,' he said. Does that mean what I think it means, because..."
"Spike said 'no' to the chipectomy? I think I'm having an acid flashback. Do you actually have to *do* acid to have one? He wanted it out, and now he doesn't?"
Jonathan's eyes found his feet. The toe of his left sneaker looked pretty screwed up. "Yeah, well..."
"I think it has something to do with the way he feels about Buffy. And he's thinkin' maybe he wouldn't feel that way after."
"Wait. Wait a minute. Wait just a damned minute."
Spike stopped and looked at her quizzically. They were well inside the cave, quickly approaching the spot where he'd found Daniel.
"You're really not going to let Jonathan take the chip out?"
Spike's mouth tightened. "Said I'm not." He pushed out a frustrated breath. "Are we havin' this conversation, or am I dreamin' it? Slayer, there's a cave full of God knows what, and you want to chat it out?"
"I think we can spare a little time here. No ooglie wooglies. Just us. And it's not like we have any privacy at your place anymore."
"Bloody hell. Can't we do this over coffee? Or never?"
"No. We. Can. Not."
"Fine." He looked around, disgusted, then ducked into a side passage. After a moment, he reappeared. "C'mon, Slayer," he said, taking her hand and practically dragging her behind him. They ended up in a small side tunnel.
"Now. They can only come from one place - the way we came. Have your say and be quick about it."
"Fine. But it's not going to be much of a conversation if I'm the only one talking."
He stayed tense and silent, but she didn't back down. Finally, he sighed. "Let's have it then."
"Have what?" she asked confused.
"Have it *out*, I reckon. Sure are hot to get this thing out o' my head all of a sudden, aren't you? Thinkin' it might make things simpler?"
"What?" She looked at his set jaw and tried to figure out why he was so angry. "Make what simpler?"
"You. Me. Us. I wanted it to stop. And now that little weasel can make it happen."
She shook her head. "You're not making any sense, Spike."
"What if it's the chip? The way I've been, the way I feel. What if the soul has sod all to do with anythin', once the chip's out?"
Buffy belatedly realized what Spike was saying. She could have kicked herself for not paying more attention back at the crypt. "Wait. You think if he takes out the chip, you won't...what? Be good anymore? No, that's not it, is it?"
"Well, you've said it yourself, Buffy. A Slayer and a vampire? What is that?"
She sighed. "Obviously what we do. What comes un-naturally."
He snorted at the obvious.
She took a breath, hoping he might get it this time. "I don't have a chip in my head, and I know how I feel. If I took my time admitting it to myself, well, it's that slayer-vampire thing. I loved Spike without a soul. I love you with one."
It was more than he could take in. He fought to let his head, and not his heart, control this moment. His turn to be the rational one, for once. "Buffy, it's not that simple. The chip..."
She looked at him in exasperation, putting her hands on her hips. "Gee, Spike, nothing ever is, is it? Simple, I mean. Not really? You don't think you can take the chance without the chip. I don't think you can afford not to. And I think you're overreacting to what Jonathan said. You came to the Slayer for help when Angel wanted to destroy the world. What was that? I think it's just you: a sorry excuse for the evil undead, and getting sorrier all the time."
He stared at her in astonishment. "Anything else?" he said hoarsely.
"Vampire at 6 o'clock. But it's cool. I've got your back."
She launched herself through the air, stake appearing in her hand, as she sailed past him. She hit the ground, rolling in a pile of dust: the remains of a college reject she'd managed to stake while still in the air.
"Ow. You're welcome." she said, brushing off her shirt.
Still in shock at her speech, Spike walked over and gave her a hand up.
Her eyes sparkled in amusement. "I finally figured out that this was the move you tried to make the night you ended up chest-deep in dust."
He shook his head in wonder. "Oh, Slayer..."
"C'mon. This is gonna be fun!" she said brightly. "Let's go hunt some bad guys!"
He grinned at last, pushing away the emotional burden that was Drusilla, determined to deal with that in his own way when the time came. He hadn't seen Buffy like this since high school. She said it would be fun, and by God, he almost believed her.
Silence moved up the stairs like a shadow and came to roost at top of the trapdoor. Xander jumped slightly, then chuckled uneasily.
"Daniel. Well, you look a lot more 'sane' than the last time I saw you."
"And you look a lot less scared..." Daniel smiled. Xander was just one of the guys. He remembered 'one of the guys.' He missed it.
"Man, Spike has great snacks," Jonathan proclaimed from the area designated as the kitchen.
Xander looked over at him. "Uh, I think 'snacks' are a Clem thing, not a Spike thing."
Jonathan nodded around a mouthful of Bugles. "Who's Clem?"
Looking down at his watch, Xander gave a low whistle. "More like, where's Clem? Except I did say tonight, and it sure ain't tonight. Even though some vampires seem to act like it is."
Smacking and swallowing the mouthful of chips and cheese, Jonathan grinned. "Yeah, Spike's never been one to play by the rules. I mean, how many vampires get it on with..."
Xander's face turned red.
Jonathan choked slightly. Then, started coughing in earnest. Daniel walked over and slapped him on the back. Jonathan flew across the room and into the back of the big chair in front of the TV. He regained his balance clumsily and used his arms to crawl to a half-standing position.
"Hey," he coughed. "Just bite me, why doncha?"
Daniel looked down, embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I just..."
"Just what? Don't know your own strength?" Xander finished, trying to look relaxed. "Vampire, Daniel. Not human, okay? Daniel strong. Elf weak."
"Hey!" Jonathan retorted, recovering quickly from his near death experience. He looked at Daniel with interest. "You don't have a chip, do you? Cause I've got a great de-chipping spell going to waste right here."
Daniel smiled sadly. "Nope. No chip. I was a ... surprise."
Xander huffed out an amused breath. "Like a 'oops, it's a boy?'"
"More like an 'oops, it's a vampire.'" Daniel said in explanation. "I was having these headaches. Dropped my taser, got bit. Vamp tried to give me some blood, too. To make me one. But he'd barely taken any, so no problem. After they pulled him off me, they took me to the infirmary."
"And you died anyway," Xander finished.
"Oh, not right away. I wasn't gonna die at all. But they did find out why I was having headaches. Had this tumor in my head. The next day, the tumor's smaller."
Jonathan stared at him, full mouth and chewing forgotten. "Well, they just got back a bad test, right?"
"I wish. No, they found out that the little bit of blood that I'd picked up from the vamp was doing things to make it go away. So they gave me more blood. Vampire blood." His eyes focused inward. "And then, two days later, the 'oops.' I don't even remember feeling like I was dying. Just remember feeling different."
Daniel shuddered. "That was right before they tried to stake me in my hospital bed," he confessed, looking up at Xander unflinchingly. "Right before I killed all of them and three of my buddies who were standing guard outside. Kip Garner, Jess Plum and Ben Jeffries."
"Oh, great. Vampires in... what? Kevlar turtlenecks?"
"Riley gits all in a row," Spike said, not really hearing her. "Time to knock em down, Slayer."
Buffy turned to him in surprise. "I appreciate the enthusiasm, tough guy. And I'd like to take 'em on, but... with what? Harsh words? Bad attitudes? You're not wearing your punk-ass coat, so that won't fly - just not the same. They're wearing Kevlar. I can't cut their heads off, sure can't stake em. Oh, and I left my Wile E. Coyote Acme flamethrower in my other coat."
Spike took a second look and nodded as the adrenaline ebbed a little. "I'm feelin' bloody naked just lookin' at 'em," he finally admitted.
Mouth turning up at the corner, Buffy spared Spike a glance that became a once-over. "I've seen you naked," she commented dryly. "This is so not it."
Spike's mouth dropped open. Then, his eyes narrowed. "You're awfully unconcerned about this, pet. Got a plan, do you?"
"Nope," she said cheerily. "Just me and the whole 'letting it lie there' thing. I couldn't resist."
"You never could," he smirked as he considered the number of armored vamps and the possibilities of draining gasoline from the motorcycle and firing up the lot of 'em. "Resist, I mean."
"Oh, yeah. Pant, pant." Peering around a rock outcropping, she was startled by a new sight. "Is that a gun?" she said, nodding at an oddly shaped burden that had just appeared in the hands of one of the Kevlar-challenged.
"More like a cannon, love." Spike tried to see past the six vampires, but there was too much going on. He suspected there wasn't a lot to see anyway, except more rocks. And an occasional trickle of water.
"We are so in trouble." She looked back down the passage, thinking about their chances of getting out the way they came in.
Spike sighed. "I told you..."
"Yeah, yeah. 'I told you so...' Keep it up, Spike."
"Slayer, keeping it up was never a problem," he said, raising an eyebrow. Okay, obviously it was contagious. This time *he* couldn't resist.
She threw up her hands, turning to look at him. "Okay, you win this round of double entendre quip wars. Now what? I'm getting all sweaty here, and I think my hair is losing its curl."
"Suggestions are welcome, pet. Even bloody encouraged."
"Do I have to think of everything?" she complained.
"Think? You?" He laughed. "Please!"
It might have been the timbre of his snorted 'please.' It might have been a function of the caverns. But one of the vampires turned in the direction of the bark of sound. Buffy glanced around the rock and looked back at Spike, eyes widening. "Uh oh."
"I think massive head trauma might be in order here, pet. Or perhaps you brought a pipe organ along? For me, not them. Rather not know what's going to happen next."
"Stop being such a baby," she snarled. "And as for 'next?' We run."
Continued in Part 13