CHAPTER 14 - REVELATIONS
The girl was shivering. She held her flowers tightly to her chest and stumbled forward into the tunnel. "Please don't hurt me, sir."
Spike's voice was gentle. "Don't worry, pet. We're going to take the flowers to a beautiful lady."
Dru was lying down on a coach he had dragged into their lair. She had been through one of her spells and he worried about her. He wanted to bring her something pretty.
"Shhh. This will just take a moment." Spike twisted one of the roses in the girl's hand and watched the blood seep from the scratch. "There that wasn't bad, was it?" The frightened girl shook her head.
He touched the scratch, then went over and touched Dru's cold lips. Her eyes opened and she sucked at his finger like a greedy kitten. He smiled then motioned to the girl to bring the flowers to his beloved. Dru cooed with pleasure and inhaled their fragrance, the subtle scent of rose petals and blood.
"I brought you something to play with, luv." Dru eyed the girl with the first enthusiasm she had shown in a week. He smiled and led the child back to a wall. She whimpered when he chained her arms above her head. "But, sir, you said you wouldn't hurt me." Tears flowed down her face.
He patted the child's face gently. "I won't." He turned and watched his love rise, golden eyed and sharp fanged. "She will."
"Spike." His eyes opened. Buffy was shaking him awake. "What's wrong?"
For a horrible moment he thought she must have seen what he did, then he realized he had been dreaming of his past. He must have stirred and wakened her.
He turned and looked into her sleepy eyes. "Nothing, luv. Just the sunburn making me a bit uncomfortable." He kissed her forehead and she sighed and fell back asleep. He pulled on his clothes and stumbled out of her bedroom. He turned and gazed at his Slayer, sleeping in her childhood bedroom with innocent teen-age posters on the wall.
Spike stepped outside and took out a cigarette. His hand was trembling so much he couldn't light it. Finally he tossed it away in disgust. The kid hadn't even been as old as Dawn. And he had killed thousands. The sky was just starting to glow with a pre-dawn light, but he couldn't see it through the tears.
He wondered how Buffy could have ever let a monster like him touch her. Even more, he wondered how she could believe that a mere soul could ever make him worthy of her love.
* * *
It was late in the morning when Buffy woke up. She stretched and lazily got up, pulling the old gray robe on. As she went downstairs, she noted how quiet the house was. Spike was sitting at the kitchen table, his back towards her, studying the scrolls.
She tiptoed behind him and hugged him. She reached out and ruffled his hair. "Good morning, goldilocks?" He turned his head and gave her a truly evil glare. Encouraged, she continued, "You know I love this hair. The way it bounces around when you-"
He reached up and pulled her head down for a kiss. That shut her up. He raised his head slightly, looking her in the eye. "Point taken, luv. I'll get a haircut. Just haven't had time."
"Your sunburn better?"
His face looked solemn. "I'll live. Let's get you some breakfast?"
Buffy sat at the kitchen table and watched as Spike made tea and toast. "I could get used to being spoiled."
He brought over the toast and some jelly, then got the cups and sat down. He watched silently as she nibbled at the toast. She glanced at him and stopped mid-bite. She could detect vampires with her special sense, but by now she could also recognize them by sight, even in their human guise. They had predators' eyes, sizing up their prey. She gazed at Spike's face and it was the first time she had seen those type of eyes in a human face. "What are you looking at. Do I have jelly on my face?" She touched her mouth nervously.
Spike stared at her intently. "Buffy," his voice was soft. "I hunted Slayers for a century. Got myself two. And if I saw one looking like you do now, I'd figure I was going to have a really good day. You've given up. Whatever this thing is with Dawn, you don't expect to live through this, do you?"
Buffy's eyes went wide, but she didn't deny anything. He was watching her intently and she felt naked under his gaze.
"Been thinking about yesterday. Don't get me wrong, best day I've had in 150 years of existence. But it wouldn't have happened if you thought you were going to live. You would have called a Scooby meeting, gotten to work on solving the problem."
The hard eyes were human now, sadder. "But you already think you know the answer, don't you. That dream has you convinced that you'll have to jump through a portal again."
Buffy looked down, unable to meet his eyes.
"You've given up, so yesterday you took a little holiday before dying." His voice had a bitter edge now. "You didn't have to say anything about love, Buffy. You know I would have done anything for you."
Buffy raised her head sharply. Spike looked so hurt. Suddenly in a world that was spinning out of her control, there was one thing she could fix. "I said I could love you because I meant it."
"Right, I've got a bleeding soul and, bang, you can love me." He sounded angry now.
"Yes, you have a soul and bang, I can finally trust you."
"Trust me? I would have laid my bloody life down for you. You and Dawn. I didn't need a soul for that!"
"Right. And what about if the chip came out? Could I trust you to not kill anyone? Maybe Dawn and I would be safe, but could I trust you not to sneak out and kill strangers? People didn't mean anything to you. How could I love you when I don't know if I would have to end up staking you?"
He was stricken. "Buffy, I wouldn't do that to you. I'd never . . ."
"No, now you wouldn't. You have a soul. But before you were a monster. And I knew what you were. And I kept coming to you." Her eyes were wet and angry. "Sometimes it was the only way I could feel. But every time I started to relax, I would remember that I couldn't love you. I loved Angel and when I couldn't stake him, people died. I was so afraid of falling in love with you and having it happen all over again."
She stood up and went to him and he surged out of the chair. They were in each other's arms, and she had to stop him from kissing her or she might never be able to finish. "Everything was so hard when I came back. The only thing easy was being with you. I could say anything or just be with you. And I started to love you and of a sudden, the only thing that felt right in my life, was wrong. I kept fighting against it and then I was fighting against you and everything was twisted and violent. Every time you were kind, like you used to be, it would scare me and we'd end up hurting each other. It was killing me. So I stopped seeing you. And that was killing me too."
She leaned into him. "Maybe, I will die in three days. But I want to live. I want to be able to feel again. And this time if I love you, it's not wrong. It's the most right thing in the world." She raised her lips and they were kissing. Something cold in her chest seemed to thaw and she could have wept with relief. Then even more of her body began to melt with the heat of their kisses.
The Slayer was late to work. And for the entire shift she found that she was unable to say the company line, "Welcome to the Doublemeat Palace, the home of meaty goodness" with a straight face.
* * *
It had not been a productive day. Spike had spent the day getting a haircut, making a few phone calls and reading documents. By the end of the day all he had were a few more anecdotes of the Key being helpful, aching eyes and decently short hair. He rather missed the bleached blonde look, but it was time to leave the Eighties behind.
The Scooby meeting had been even less productive. Buffy had told the group about her dream, the same edited version she had given Spike. Dawn grew pale and he had reached out to hug her shoulders. The memory of the past summer was as painful as an open wound for both of them.
When it was Spike's turn, he had pulled the documents and translation notes out of his backpack. "If Buffy's dream is right, Dawn is still the Key. When I was back in Los Angeles, I was given a bunch of documents about the Key. Here," he passed them over to the wiccas. "I translated enough of them that it's pretty clear that the Key," he turned towards Dawn, "you, have the power to open gates and portals to other dimensions. I know Glory wanted to use you, but according to most of these documents, it's a power that you will learn to control and use yourself."
That had caused a stir. Spike showed a few of the Latin prophesies to Willow, and she confirmed his translation. The two wiccas had examined the documents.
"When did you learn to read this stuff?" Xander had gaped like a goldfish.
"Back as a human. British education. It was a bit better than Sunnydale High. Besides, I've spent most of the last century wandering around Europe. I can say "Hey gorgeous, come out into the dark with me" in twenty-seven languages and dialects. Can't read that many, but I'm not a total git."
Nothing was resolved. Aside from Buffy's dream, there really was no indication that Dawn was at risk. Dawn was excited by the prophecies indicating she had special powers but none of the translations told her how to use them. In the end, Willow and Tara had stayed behind to work together and Xander had wandered off towards the apartment-of-manly-despair. That had left Spike escorting the Summers girls. When they passed a cemetery, Buffy left to go patrolling. "I'll be back by ten," she said, then gave Spike a PG-13 kiss, since Dawn was watching with avid eyes.
"So what's going on between you and Buffy?"
"You need to ask your sister, Niblet."
"Are you still in love with her?" He started to protest, then stopped remembering that the cat had pretty much been let out of the bag back when he had had the brilliant idea of chaining Buffy up and threatening to kill her. The whole episode had gotten him expelled from the Summer's house and almost cost him any chance of friendship with the teenager.
"Yeah," he said in a gruff voice. "Being human doesn't keep me from being besotted."
"That's cool, because I think Buffy really cares for you. You should have seen her when we thought you were dusted."
They had reached the Summer's house. Spike started to open the door and then hesitated. He sniffed, then realized that his lousy human nose wasn't going to tell him a thing. Still, even without vampire senses he could tell something was wrong.
"Shh, stay here Dawn." He slowly opened the door. The house was dark. He flicked on a light. He couldn't see anything different. But he was very aware of something being dangerously wrong. He entered slowly, holding the stake.
He heard a desperate squeal. Dawn! He dashed back to the door and saw the girl struggling in a giant's arms. Not a giant, Spike realized, but one of those guards that had been the bane of his existence at Wolfram and Hart. Only this time he wasn't weak from being a newly made human.
Spike wore a vicious grin as he sauntered up to Tweedledee, (or maybe it was Tweedledum.) "Hello there. Care to unhand the lady?"
The thug sneered down at him, his arms filled with the struggling child. Which meant he didn't have a free hand to block Spike, when the blonde jumped, whirled and kicked him in the face. It certainly wasn't done with the speed and grace that Spike had back in his vampire days, but his steel-toed boots made an impression. He felt the shudder of the impact through his body and there was the satisfying sensation of teeth and nasal bones breaking. Without the vampire reflexes, he fell on his back, but still, score one for the home team.
Dawn broke loose, leaving the giant exposed. Since Tweedledee was busy holding his bleeding face, Spike took advantage of the distraction to land a lovely kick to the crotch. It was a kick even Manchester United would envy. Spike felt his face twitch and he longed for his fangs. That would teach the bastard to scare Dawn. Since he couldn't drain the bugger, he waited until the giant leaned over to clutch his package, then gave a solid kick to the man's temple.
Spike heard someone shout, so he quickly dragged Dawn inside. "Quick, go upstairs. Call the police." Then he thought about the ineptness of Sunnydale's finest. "Also, call Harris. Even if he's not there, he has an answering machine. The people after you are Wolfram and Hart. Angel knows them. Two of the people involved in this are a Gavin Park and some old woman named Stanhope. Now quick."
"What are you going to do?"
He grinned with the smile that had terrorized Europe. "If our lawyer friends try to come in, I plan to give them a bloody welcome party."
Dawn started to run up the stairs. "Dawn!" She turned. "If I can't keep them distracted until the police come, climb out onto the tree by Buffy's window. No matter what happens, get away. Do you understand?"
The teenager gave him a long look, then nodded. She dashed upstairs.
There was a crash as a window in the kitchen was broken. The back door was smashed open and the forces of Wolfram and Hart poured into the house.
Continued in CHAPTER 15 - GRAVE DANGER