Timing: Early s1 with no series spoilers
Warnings: Only for language and sheer inanity.
Summary: Spike aka William the Bloody, experiencing a rather bad week while attempting to affect the removal of one Pesky Government Implant, is forced by Dire Circumstance to join forces with the World's Worst Demon Hunter to save the world from Imminent Destruction.
Notes: Written for Wesleysgirl as part of the Summer 'Book of Days' fanfic challenge.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing, no profit, yadda, yadda, yadda.
"Long time no see, Spike."
That, by the way, would've been Fawkes. Unfortunately. Not a guy it's easy to forget in a hurry, seeing as how he's the hybrid spawn of two of the most unmitigatedly ugly demon breeds ever to walk this miserable bloody earth. Don't ask me which two.
Also a total and utter wanker.
"Same to you." I couldn't be bothered to look up at the horned git. "Why don't you have a seat. Talk my ear off."
He snorted. "You're not usually this accommodating."
"It's not like it'd make a blind bit of difference if I told you to piss off," I muttered, once I'd recovered from the revelation that he knew a big long word like 'accommodating'. And considering I was close on starving due to whatever the government stuck inside my skull, who could blame me for succumbing a bit to apathy?
"Didn't say a thing, Fawkes, mate." I made myself sip at the glass of blood that was my first spot of sustenance in more than a few days. Willy's was chucking me out now on sight and no other place in this sainted corner of California sold blood on tap. Wouldn't be too long before the guys in this hole caught onto what had happened, too, and I couldn't very well risk raising their suspicions all the more by hanging around looking all desperate.
Survival, you see, had become something of a knotty problem of late.
I was reduced to hiding in a secluded demon bar in the middle of Frigging Nowhere, California, about halfway between Sunnydale and LA, talking to some bastard I'd have avoided like the plague under normal circumstances. Me. Spike. The biggest bad ever to set foot... aw, screw it. Every time I start down that route something clouts me on the noggin. World's got it in for me. It knows.
Stop feeling so sorry for myself, you say? Well, I say 'sod off', mate.
Anyway, truth was the blood was only a bonus. What I was here for really was to find somebody like Fawkes. But my particular problem... well, it wasn't exactly one that was easy for a fellow to own up to. Especially not to a heap of worthless dung of Fawkes' calibre. Had to work my way up to it, didn't I?
So I bought him a drink on the scrapings I could sore afford to spare, and when he left I tagged along. In a clearing a little down the road to his cave, I broke the news about the recent spectacular contribution the soldier boys had made to my lousy existence.
Then I waited for him to finish laughing his revolting head off. Bastard.
"You're shitting me, right, Spike? Right?"
"Fawkes--" I comforted myself with the thought that punching a hole through his face one side to the other wouldn't have been a stellar plan even if I could've.
"You're not shitting me? You really can't - you can't bite?"
Any other time, him rolling around on the floor like that would've been an invitation. Stamping on him would've been fun. Lots of fun.
...I could fucking cry.
Like that would help matters any.
"Fawkes! Shame on you, you horny prick. A mate comes to you asking a bit of help, and this is how you respond? Mocking your old pal Spike in his time of need--?"
"All right, all right. Don't look at me like that. I don't need guilt - my therapist says its bad for my ulcers. Just... gimme a minute here, all right? I wasn't exactly expecting... you can't bite? At all?"
"No. I can't bite. I can't hit. I can't kick your repulsive bloody face in. All right, Fawkes? D'you want me to shout it from the bleeding rooftops? I need to know what to do about this, you sack of rotting garbage. You hear things; you know stuff, right? Tell me what the hell I can do to undo this!" So maybe it's not too polite to go vamp and snarl in someone's face when you're asking a favour, but what can I say? I was overwrought. Anyway, this was Fawkes.
Thing about Fawkes. He's a bastard, but he's a gullible bastard.
And whatever else you can say about him, he's got contacts.
"You may just be in luck, Spike," Fawkes had said. "I hear the Cult of Gemukk are in town."
"'Cult of Gemukk'?" I sneered. "I hope they're more impressive than their bloody name. What'd they do, pick scrabble letters at random and hope for something nice and scary? I make better noises than that clearin' my throat. Plus - sun worship? Ain't exactly something that mixes with me and mine, if you get my drift."
"I wouldn't mock too soon. As I hear it, these guys collect all sorts of mystical crap. Lotta power on hand. And they've been known to help a guy out for a price. Or not to. They're cranky like that."
"Sounds charming," I muttered. "What if I don't have anything they'd want to trade?"
Yeah... like anything.
He shrugged. "You can never tell. I knew a guy once, they had him do some bullshit errand or other. I forget the details, but the fact is - it was all over and done with in less than a month, problem solved. Think he's working in advertising or some such in New Jersey now. Saw him the other year. Doing good. Great pad."
And I nodded slowly, setting the scepticism aside. I supposed I could live with a whole lot more so long as whatever those pillocks had screwed up inside me got reversed.
That was how come I ended up trudging along a track in the open dusty country at just about midnight, headed for a rocky outcrop Fawkes swore blind harboured a bunch of caves that served as the Cult of Gertrude's LA-based residence.
California. Even the nutcase cults have bleeding holiday homes.
Funny buggers, cultists. Not much of a sense of humour, mind, but me and Dru, we'd had some laughs with their sort in our time. Cults... secret orders... other silly bastards who'd read too much Harry Potter. She liked 'em, she did. Really tickled her - and bollocks if I'm about to get maudlin about that bitch. Where were we? Cultists, right?
On the other hand, since the 'specially nutty jobs - which description, come to think, pretty much fits the whole lot - are touchy as hell and liable to go great lengths to invent sparkly new tortures for you on account of your saying 'good morning' in the wrong tone of voice, I wasn't exactly feeling chipper about having to approach them in my current lonesome and defanged state.
I was feeling even less chipper when I crested a hidden rise and walked right into the middle of a silent circle of the bastards.
Standing like statues, they were - maybe two dozen of them. Requisite black robes (I remember one conversation back in the eighties tryin' to convince the Cult of Tacos or some such that paisley was the way to go if they really wanted to look evil. Didn't take, but that was maybe a good thing), hoods, expressions with all the animation of a plank of wood. 'These must be the guys,' I figured. I'm bright like that.
I stopped and backed off, but they were busy staring into space. Or rather, staring at this battered piece of period tat sitting on a flat stone in the middle of their circle. Looked like one of those Beakers of Doom that Heath the slime demon used to sell to the hellmouth tourists before the Slayer ran him out (hey, I didn't know she did Trade Descriptions either. Live and learn... well... learn, anyway, I guess). Except he didn't call them that. What was it, now? Beakers of Doom, Chalice of Death, Cups of Narglephwat the Floppy... bit of shaped tin with some runes on it, anyway. Good at parties. That Gothic thing, it's in right now.
"Did I come at a bad time?" I offered.
There can be a lot worse responses than silence.
I waved a hand slowly before the face of the nearest and watched him not react. Thought about giving him a good prod, or possibly a boot up the arse, just to... but nah. I was going to walk straight out of there and leave them to their mojo. Come back in a bit when they'd finished and I wouldn't get staked for interrupting their round of Ritual Staring.
"Excuse me," I said, and prepared to make my own Dignified Retreat.
Of course, that would be the point where this prat runs into the middle of them waving a crossbow around and declares, in a yell with more effort than conviction, "I demand that you halt this ritual immediately!" Perhaps 'yell' is giving too much credit. Yelp, then. Yeah. His voice had this irate squeak to it. "How can you be so irresponsible as to...?"
None of them even so much as twitched. Me, I was torn for a moment between staying around for a good laugh and resuming the previous plan of getting the hell out, but personal survival won out over base humour. Marginally.
Only at that point, the silly prick figured out how to get their attention. He strutted forward gibbering some more of the usual Van Helsing type gobbledygook ("Fiends! I shan't let you get away with this!") and leaned over to cast the Tumbler of Abchon's Knackers off the altar and onto the ground.
The cup clanked and rolled a bit.
The bloke gave a strangled yelp as a flash lanced through the air and sent out the faint aroma of his eyebrows sizzling, and he fell over, twitching.
The Cult of Gagbuk came to enraged life all about the both of us, and given the way my luck had been running of late, the cry of "Seize them!" ringing through the air came as no bloody surprise whatsoever.
All of which was what essentially led to me being chained up in a cave with the World's Worst Demon Hunter. Sodding cultists didn't seem to be in much of a mood to listen to my protests of "I'm not with that wanker!" No, they were all "Is it broken, Anhelf?" "Brother, have we lost our chance to complete the Duty?" "Despair not, my brothers, we have yet one night left," yadda, yadda, yadda.
Have I mentioned how much I hate cultists?
I wasn't able to resist trying to get a few shots in as they dragged me into the cave and along the tunnels within, and after getting my ass kicked right back by whatever those soldier-boys had done to me... well, might be fair to say I was feeling even less disposed to the twats than my affably hostile norm by the time I woke up. Woke up chained to the ceiling of one of the less comfy cells of my experience, a cramped, chiselled-out hole in the rock fenced off from the passage by an iron grille sunk into the cave walls.
I was left to swing on my chains and appreciate the latest in Dungeon Chic while listening to my idiot cellmate snore and the irate cultists bickering a few tunnels down about the correct way to skin a sacrifice to best please their wacko deity.
After a few hours, the World's Worst Demon Hunter decided to wake up and at least make things a little less boring.
He came to with a kind of high groan that faded as he realised he wasn't alone. His skinny body jerked rigid out of boneless slump, sending a metallic clamour echoing around the cave walls, and he blurted, "What--? Where--? Dear God, these chains really are uncomfortably tight..."
I winced even as he did, feeling the sting. Bloody hell, I knew him. Not that I knew him, but... the voice, that faint tremble, the rigid mannerism, that assinine polite edge beneath the bravado and beneath the panic... I could've been back looking in the mirror at William the Bloody Useless.
Except this would've been William playing dress-up. The guy was tallish and skinnyish and he looked every bit a proper wanker in his leather gear with his slicked-back hair and specs. He shifted awkwardly, chains clanking, to push the specs more firmly onto his nose, and peered around blinking in the semi-dark.
His eyes settled on me, curious. No recognition in them, either from the ritual or whatever files crap demon hunters kept on the worthies of the demon world. Couldn't decide whether or not to be put out. "What happened?" he asked faintly. "I don't seem to recall--"
"You got fried by their mystical trinket, what do you think happened? Now they think I'm with you and they're going to ritually flay us both tonight. I'd say that's a resounding 'well done' from the judges panel, mate."
He blinked a bit more, then said faintly, "Drat."
I could've got enough leverage on my chains to kick his head in.
"I must apologise, then, for getting you into this pickle," he added, squaring his jaw with laughable determination. "I don't know you, and I certainly didn't intend to involve any innocent bystanders. But have no fear, I possess significant training in dealing with such tricky situations as these, and as a rogue demon hunter... I shall find a solution to extricate us both safely, I assure you." He tried to extend a hand, gave up when the chains yanked it back. "Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, at your service."
I snorted. He could've had 'double-barrelled surname' stamped on his stately English forehead.
After a moment, he gave up waiting for a response and turned his attention to the chains. Pulled his wrist down a few times, testing them, before he stopped with a not-too-surprisingly pained noise.
"Yeah, they're chains all right," I said. "Top marks, old boy."
He sniffed. "There's no need to be--" A flare of orange-red light whipped his head around, as one of the cultists rounded the end of the passage with a flaming torch, but the light vanished down a branching tunnel a moment later. He continued, hushed, "There's no call to be snippy. I've been unconscious too long. It's imperative we escape these bonds and put a stop to what they're trying to do here!"
"And that would be?" I demanded without any real interest. Don't think you can blame me for being a mite standoffish, considering he'd managed to get both of us chained up in a cell. I was hungry, not to mention still aching from the hammering I'd had trying to attack the cultists, and it wasn't doing any wonders for my mood. "Spout some ancient ritual over the Goblet of Decorative Needlework, bring about the end of the world, fire and destruction, yadda, yadda, yadda..."
Wiffly Whingeham-Ponce narrowed his eyes at me. "You're taking this rather lightly."
I snickered. Guess it's hard to take apocalypses seriously when you've spent over a century running round with two nutty birds and a psychotic poof dead keen on trying on a new one for every day of the week.
He hissed air through his teeth, impatient like. "And as a point of fact, it will not bring about the apocalypse. At least, not in any immediate sense. That artefact, 'friend', was the Chalice of Summer. The Cult of Gemukk are sun-worshippers, and they have one night left in which to perform the rituals that will cast this world into eternal sunlight and complete their sacred duty before the chance passes beyond them forever. It's a very oblique reference in the Muihan Scrolls, granted, but even then I still can't believe that nobody else anticipated the appalling danger of..."
I tuned out his wittering after the important bit. Nothing like self-interest to focus the mind, and a world of eternal sunlight is hardly the best of prospects when you happen to be one of the grateful undead. What I didn't get, given that Wiffly certainly smelled human and all...
"Eternal summer's a bad thing now?"
"Consider the repercussions! Drought. Famine. The world would be a desert within months. These ancient mystics didn't exactly play in the realms of practicality--"
The bloke might be the most ridiculous excuse for a demon hunter I'd ever seen, but he was onto something if he was right about the ritual. Constant sun, no rain, no food, no humans... no food, and again not the best of news for us vamps.
"So we need to stop them," I found myself saying. Bugger it, I can be such a sap at times it's revolting. I jangled my chains meaningfully. "You got any bright ideas how?"
Watching the Wimpy Wonder trying to unlock his chains with a bit of wire (produced from his sleeve to the tune of an elaborate flourish and a sniggerworthily overconfident and pompous "A rogue demon hunter always comes prepared") ...well, it was fun for the first hour or so. But whatever internal clock vampires have was telling me that the sun had gone down, and hell, I was so completely bloody bored by then it was neither here nor there.
With a snarl, I lost my patience and twisted my hands back to grip the chains. I hauled hard as I could, pushing off from the wall with my feet to strain the links.
"Now, I hardly think that's going to work," Wyndham-Pryce said critically. "As you indeed pointed out to me earlier, the chains are rather secure..."
He trailed off, returning to poking his bit of wire around.
"Don't knock it yet. There's a thing or two you don't know about me."
That would be because there was a thing or two I hadn't wanted him to know about me, and yeah, it most definitely did rankle that even this useless prat could take me down without hardly lifting a finger now. But we were fast running out of time for all this buggering about.
I hauled on the chains again; felt the metal cut into my wrists.
"You'll only damage yourself," Wyndham-Pryce said in long-suffering tones, not looking up from his fiddling. Patronising git.
He did have a point, mind, chains usually serving as adequate proof against vamps just as much as humans. Except when one of us gets a real foul mood on, anyway.
Me, I'd had a bad week.
Next pull, something gave. About bloody time. I felt my face twist and transform as I really put myself into it.
The floor hit me in the arse and the chains whacked me on the noggin as the whole rig came down on top of me. Evidently the week wasn't figuring on getting any better anytime soon. I shook the vamp away and looked up to meet Wyndham-Pryce's gape.
"Told you," I muttered.
The chains smashed against the wall as I tossed them aside. Wiffly's jaw flapped silently as I dragged myself to my feet.
"You're - you're--"
"A vampire. Guess you could still call me that. And much as I intensely don't want to get into the patheticness of my sorry tale, you can just lose the idea of trying to stake me the minute I set you loose. Bunch of wankers working for some government science project did something to me. Now I can't hurt people. That'd be what I was coming to talk to these goons about in the first place before you got me mixed up in your bloody balls-up of an operation and put paid to that solution."
He didn't seem to take umbrage at the constructive criticism, so maybe at least he wasn't in denial.
"So you're harmless?" he asked.
I snarled, and put the flash of anger that couldn't break his skinny neck to use breaking the chain around his left wrist. Kept hold of the free length, keeping him tethered.
"Here's the thing, Waffleton-Priss. I'm not any more keen on the Cult of Gorbals pulling this off than you are, but I can't hurt people, and unfortunately that seems to include these clowns. So much as it pains me to say it, I need you. It'd be nice to know you're not gonna try any Van Helsing crap the moment I let you loose."
"It's Wyndham-Pryce." His eyes held a certain glimmer that surprised me. "And I have no objections to your deal. You have a personal - would it be terribly insensitive of me to use the word 'stake'? - in this. I think we both understand that. Let me loose."
Mind, the revelation that he was smarter than I'd credited didn't make me 'specially inclined to trust him.
He eyed my hand still on the chain. Second later, I realised his gaze had drifted to the watch I'd exposed at his wrist. Less than ten minutes to midnight, if it was right. Instincts told me it was. Bugger. "They'll be starting the ritual," he said. "I imagine there'll be somebody coming very soon if they're planning to flay us as the encore. We have to hurry."
He hadn't made any promises, but he was right. I let go of the chain and snapped the length around his right wrist.
"Come on." I kicked open the cell door, sending the bolt pinging away and ricocheting off the wall, making Wyndham-Pryce cringe.
I gestured for him to go first, and followed watching him like a hawk.
'Course, about then I realised what we were actually intending was to walk unarmed into the midst of two dozen nutters with volatile tempers and try our damnedest to do something that would piss them off to a massive degree. That I couldn't hurt anyone, and the git at my side was stiff as a board and would probably fall over at the mere sight of a decent punch - or a lousy punch, for that matter.
Running really fast was looking a winner, as alternative plans went.
Wyndham-Pryce lived down to my expectations, defeating our first obstacle by the breathtaking feat of walking right into him as he turned a corner in the dark tunnel. I darted back from the flail of arms and legs, wondering if this was an opportune moment to get the hell out of the vicinity before it got sunny. Drawback being that if they succeeded I'd be toast, since there wasn't much in the way of cover around outside of the Cult of Gemukk's stone-age retro squat.
Turned out though that when Wyndham-Pryce stopped moving his opponent hadn't any more life in him than a damp lettuce. Bloke must've hit his head on the way down and Wiffly, the bloody prat, had been trying to wrestle an unconscious body.
He jerked to his feet, swaying and gasping. "What did I tell you? Intensive... combat... training... I, ah, certainly gave him what-for!"
"Yeah," I said. "You're a deadly weapon, all right."
We turned the corner. Ahead, the entrance to the cave system glittered with the texture of the night sky. I could hear the faint sound of chanting from outside. They hadn't got to the staring bit, then.
"Dear God," Wyndham-Pryce said, breathing so fast I thought he'd rupture something. "We have only minutes!" He started to sprint towards the night, skinny legs pumping, awkward body flailing about. Picture of bleeding elegance, all right.
I vaguely registered, as I followed, that the chanting had stopped.
He barrelled out of the cave ahead of me and caught the full attention of the two cultists they must've left on guard to prevent any more pesky interruptions. Who promptly pounced and proceeded to smack the living shit out of him.
"The Chalice!" His voice emerged, muffled, from the pile of bodies. "Need to... disrupt! Delay... past midnight... too late! Get..." There was a nasty smack of knuckles on flesh, and a broken choke mangled the words into silence.
Didn't exactly take much brainpower to fill in the blanks.
The chalice was sat on its rock in the centre of the circle, a bit of a glow around it that I hadn't noticed last night. One of the blokes set on reducing Wyndham-Pryce to an oily splat on the ground tried to follow as I ran into the circle, but the demon hunter somehow managed to stick out a foot to trip him up.
Only when I skidded to a stop in front of the chalice did I realise I had something of a dilemma on my hands.
Moment I touched that thing, it was gonna zap me just like it had Wiffly before. I didn't know how much of a save they could pull from a minor disruption like that, but they'd still have the cup and there was at least a few minutes left until midnight. Couldn't hang about - Wyndham-Pryce wouldn't hold those two much longer. So the million dollar bloody question - how the hell was I s'posed to get the thing far enough away to confound the buggers for good when I was gonna be out, if not worse, the instant I--
The answer hit me like a vision. I could almost hear the choirs and angels and all that bollocks. Absolute bloody brilliance, if I do say so myself.
I suppose, with what happened next, you might call me a hero. And, hey, you might not be wrong. It's not like it's impossible, eh? After all, I didn't know if that spark that'd knocked out Wesley would burn up a vampire just like the sunlight the trinket was meant to bring. Could've ended up a martyred pile of dust, I could've. Not that any bugger around here would ever believe or appreciate the fact, of course.
Wasn't any crowd of cheering spectators to egg me on, either, as I focused, took a good run-up, flexed, and hit the Chalice with everything I had in me.
Did I ever tell you? Man. United would've snapped me up in a second.
If they only played nights.
As it happened, I awoke being shaken violently by a crap demon hunter on the verge of hysterics, dribbling about how we had to leave quick-like while the Cult of Gemukk were too busy running about scouring two square miles of countryside for their Sacred Chalice to eviscerate the Cursed Infidels.
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce proved to be exactly as much a wuss as a demon-hunter as I'd figured. Could've put a stake through my heart and finished me for good while I was out, but nah - he gave me a round of cheery if bedraggled congratulation and a lift into town on the back of his motorcycle. Even wished me luck as I disembarked.
It was only as I was standing there in the road, back in grand old bleeding Sunnyhell, watching his incongruous wheels carry his battered form to distant climes and wondering why he was so mad keen to skip town in such a hurry - grinding my teeth at the thought that I was right back at square one and still no less an impotent vampire - that I realised just what I'd done.
I saved the world.
Can you say wanker?
If I didn't get whatever those soldier boys had done to me undone... and I figure you already know a bit of how that well that's been going, along with a few other things not doing a whole lot for the Big Bad image... well.
...In fact, you know what? Bollocks to the whole sodding fiasco, is what I say. Should've let the world burn. At least I would've had the satisfaction of knowing everybody else was gonna suffer.
Hero, my arse.