All About Spike - Plain Version
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Chapter: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Part of Journeys Series
“I wasn’t sure if you’d come,” Giles admitted. “You’ve been pretty reclusive since, er, well, since –“
“Dawn told me you wanted to talk, Watcher,” Spike interrupted. “She asked me to come.” His tone strongly suggested no other incentive could have brought him to this meeting.
“Yes. I shall have to thank her then.” Giles didn’t bother to mention that, to his knowledge, this was the first time Spike had spoken to anyone other than Dawn since he’d left the hospital the morning after Buffy’s death.
Giles was seated behind his desk in his small office just off the training room at the Magic Box , while Spike leaned with seeming negligence against the closed door, his hands buried in the pockets of his duster. The blond’s eyes seemed fixed on some spot on the floor just in front of his feet.
Giles studied him for a moment. “You seem to be regaining your health,” he offered. It had been close to a month since Spike had been back among the living, as Willow had rather oddly phrased it.
Spike shifted uncomfortably, before raising his head, and just for a moment, meeting the other man’s eyes.
“Haven’t thanked any of you lot for lookin’ out for me,” he acknowledged. “Bit told me ‘bout the research and the offers of blood.” He glanced at Giles’ arm as the Watcher’s hand went to his left wrist instinctively. Spike looked away. “’ppreciate it,” he muttered.
“Yes, er, well,” Giles was stammering a bit as he often did when he felt out of his element. “You were very helpful to us when we were on the run from Glory, and I felt – we all felt that Buffy would have wanted us to try to help you.”
Even though his head was bent downward again, Giles could see the strong line of Spike’s jaw tighten.
“I’ve been curious about the condition we found you in. Do you have any explanation? Do you know what caused the problem with your inability to –er, eat? Or, for that matter, what caused things to go back to normal?”
Spike looked over Giles’ shoulder at the shelves of books lining the back wall of the office. “That what you wanted to talk to me about?” he asked after a moment.
“I am interested in that, yes. But there are some other things of greater importance right now.”
“Let’s get straight to the good stuff then, shall we?”
Spike remained in his slouched position, but his shoulders tightened a little as he braced himself for the Watcher’s words. He was expecting it, after all. No way the blasted Scoobies were gonna let the bit keep spending so much time with him. After all, evil, right? He hoped that if he played it cool and kept the temper Angelus had always chided him for under control, he might be able to salvage a couple of nights a week with his girl.
“Right then,” Giles sighed. “I will admit, it pains me to have come to this conclusion. But what it is – what I need – oh bugger it.” He gathered himself. “Actually, I was hoping I could persuade you to help out with some problems that have arisen.”
Spike’s head came up in surprise, and he allowed a small smile to soften the curve of his mouth briefly. “Oooh. That hurt, didn’t it, Rupert?”
It was the nearest Giles had seen to the old Spike since Buffy’s loss nearly two months ago. There was even the faintest trace of a smirk on the vampire’s lips. But it was quickly gone, and when he spoke again, his tone was serious.
“What’s the problem, Watcher?”
Giles briefly explained how demon activity seemed to have fallen off both before and after Glory’s destruction but now appeared to be on the rise again, and about the difficulties they would have in fighting new threats without Buffy.
“You’re lookin’ for muscle, then,” Spike summed up.
“I guess it could be put that way, yes.”
“I’m in.” The words were stark, spoken without hesitation.
”I can only offer to pay you a small amount, I’m afraid,” Giles added, and the blond frowned.
“You can keep your bleedin’ money, Watcher.” Spike’s voice was tight. “I said I’m in.”
The Watcher studied Spike openly, trying to read him. The vampire looked older somehow, he realized. Weary, worn, angry. And hurting. He kept to himself so much now, coldly refusing – ignoring – what few overtures they extended. At one time, not so very many months ago, he had sought out their company, had at times, seemed to almost crave it, to be a part of their group. Now, though, he seemed not only disinterested, but almost hostile to the idea of being with any of them. Buffy’s gone, Giles told himself. Spike no longer needs to seek our company to be near her. That was logical, right? So why, then, didn’t Giles himself buy that explanation?
Only Dawn seemed capable of touching him on any level at all now. And Giles had to admit he was somewhat impressed with the devotion the blond was showing the young girl. Several times in the last week he’d overheard Dawn giggling as she shared with Anya something Spike had said or done. There had been so little laughter in her life for so long…
Giles straightened in his chair, and got down to business.
“Apparently, we have a dragon in the area.”
Spike cocked a brow. “I remember seeing a dragon or two when the portal opened.” He’d been lying uselessly on the ground where Doc had thrown him, helpless to get back up the tower to Buffy and Dawn, helpless to protect them, to save them. Helpless to stop Buffy’s descent as she jumped and he watched her fall. Falling, falling. Helpless, useless, as he watched her body slam into the ground only a dozen feet from his own. Useless as he watched her die.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, and swallowed, attempting to force away the visions of his failure.
Failing, as always. They never left him.
“In monitoring police records, Willow has come across half a dozen reports of a dragon in flight over the last few nights.”
Giles spread a map of the area out on his desk, and Spike pulled up a chair, turning it around to straddle it as he leaned over the desk to watch as Giles indicated the places the dragon had been spotted.
“There aren’t any reports yet of it landing in populated areas, or attacking people, but we can surmise that such an occurrence will come about. And I hope we can act before it does.”
“What’s the plan, then?”
Giles allowed himself a faint smile. “We’re still working on the details, of course. But a dragon is quite large, or at least reports indicate this one is. There aren’t that many places it can be concealing itself. And since we stand little chance of bringing it down while it’s in flight, we need to find its lair.”
Spike didn’t hesitate. “The caves, here,” He indicated the area just outside Sunnydale where there was a large network of caves. “Some of the caverns are quite large. Plenty of room for a dragon – or several, for that matter. Any idea if there’s more than one?”
“No. You just said you thought you remembered seeing a dragon or two. How certain are you that you saw more than one?”
Spike tried to remember. Had he seen more than one dragon, or had he only seen the same one circling? He wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to spend any more time visualizing that night. It filled his dreams and nightmares enough as it was.
“Sorry,” he said. “’m not sure.”
“One will be problem enough,” Giles cautioned. “More than one…” he let his voice trail off.
“Or a breeding pair,” Spike added.
Giles’ mind had played with that idea with a sense of dread, and he tried to ignore the fact that there seemed to be a bit of anticipation in Spike’s voice.
“Tara has a lot of knowledge of dragon lore. We’re not sure if any of that will be of use to us, but since we seem to be without the latest edition of ‘Dragon Hunting Made Easy’,” his dryly sarcastic tone made Spike’s lips curve again briefly as the other man continued, “we’ll be taking a hard look at what she knows. Weaknesses. Strengths. Things we need to prepare for.”
“Don’t know how likely it is, but if it can breathe fire like in legends, that’ll be a problem for me,” Spike reminded him. “For you, too, I’m sure, but, still, I’m more flammable than you lot.”
He stood, moving his chair back to its original position.
“I’ll go have a look around the caves tomorrow,” he told Giles. “See if anything looks promising.”
“Can you get there safely during the day?”
“Can always find ways to get about,” Spike assured him. “Hellmouth,” he added as if that explained everything. Which, in a way, it did.
“But I thought – er, I mean. I understood vampires slept during the day. That they had little control over that need.”
Spike eyed him solemnly as he lit a cigarette. “Sleep is highly overrated, mate.” He took a long, satisfying drag on his cigarette, ignoring Giles’ disparaging looks at the curling smoke.
“I’d be terribly interested in learning...” Giles broke off abruptly, realizing it wasn’t really the appropriate time to ask Spike to tutor him in vampiric habits and culture, even if he would dearly love to access his first hand knowledge. If Spike continued to work with them, perhaps he could persuade the blond to provide him with information currently unavailable to the Council. Anya’s words about ‘knowing thine enemy’ had rankled. How accurate were the Council’s texts? he wondered. Were there inaccuracies that needed correcting? The next Slayer, whoever she was, may be in need of more complete information, and he felt it was his duty as a Watcher to do everything in his power to gain that knowledge.
“There are other matters that we’ll need to look at once the dragon has been taken care of,” Giles changed the subject. “Glory’s minions, for instance –”
“—are not a problem.” Spike finished for him.
Giles raised a brow in question.
“Not a problem, Watcher.”
Spike didn’t elaborate, but Giles didn’t need him to. Spike had been hunting.
“They’re all taken care of?” he asked.
“Near as I can tell.”
“Very well, then,” Giles said by way of thanks. “And Doc?”
Spike’s entire body went rigid, and Giles hoped he’d never see the expression on his face directed at himself or at anyone he cared about. The smooth, chiseled, lines of Spike’s still too thin face twisted into a mask of fury infinitely more frightening than his vampiric features.
“Not. Yet.” Spike gritted out, voice icy with hatred. And determination.
Giles felt a shudder go through his body. He could almost pity Doc when Spike at last found the little demon. Almost. But not quite. He’d cut Dawn. Opened the portal. Forced the death of his surrogate daughter. Ripper peeked through.
“When you find him, I’d like to be there for the finish,” he told Spike. “If I can’t be there – well, then, my shout at the pub afterward.”
Spike nodded. “I plan to make it painful,” he warned. “Blood. Gore. Screams of agony.”
Giles met his eyes steadily, and repeated Spike’s words from earlier. “I’m in.”
The two stared at each other in complete understanding.
She was touching him, her hands moving over his back with long, soft strokes. Spike moaned as she leaned down to whisper into his ear, and he felt the warm caress of her breasts against the cool skin of his back.
Even distracted by the brush of her flesh against his, he kept listening closely, trying to understand what she was saying.
He never could.
The caves just outside Sunnydale were familiar, and easily accessible, territory for Spike. Apparently some former mayor of good old Sunnyhell had been very demon friendly, and had had city engineers connect the city’s elaborate underground tunnel system directly to the caverns in several places. Why did that not surprise him? He’d stayed in them during his search for the Gem of Amarra, and later, Harmony’s little gang had made it their headquarters during her brief and rather endearing attempt at a reign of terror. Adam had housed himself here. He’d even stayed somewhere in their vast depths with Dawn while Buffy ran off to keep Willow from getting killed by that bitch hell god, Glory.
The caves were complicated, huge, and largely unexplored by the human populace. Perhaps the humans were smarter that they generally behaved, he thought. The underground labyrinth was usually infested with examples of half the demon species currently inhabiting the earth. The Hellmouth was a powerful draw to many demons, usually the worst types, and then the worst individuals of each type. The legendary power of the Hellmouth, the hundreds of prophecies that seemed intertwined with it acted like a magnet to those who loved chaos and destruction.
But not today.
The unusual emptiness of the caverns told Spike something big was up. Big enough to be a dragon?
And if it was a dragon doing such a good job making the other demons scarce – just how powerful was it?
He explored with care, taking his time to be thorough. The caves could be very confusing, and he was glad he was familiar with them. Wouldn’t pay to stumble into a mess and not be able to find his way out, would it? Though he had to admit, a bit of a set to would be nice, and he certainly hoped to come across at least one demon today capable of giving him a bit of a challenge before he killed it.
Spike wasn’t quite sure how he felt about the Watcher’s request for his help. He liked killing things. He was good at it. If he couldn’t kill to feed, as he hadn’t been able to since the Initiative had performed its little unauthorized medical experimentation on him, then killing demons was an alternate outlet for him that he enjoyed. It served to soothe the demon within, and his vampiric need for bloodletting. So, for those reasons, he supposed he was glad the Watcher had approached him.
He wasn’t sure he understood why he’d been asked though. Hadn’t the Slayer’s death proved his incompetence? Why would any of the bleedin’ Slayerettes think he was capable of coming through on something important? He hadn’t that night, had he?
The night at the tower.
None of them had actually come out and blamed him out loud, but he knew they were aware of just whose fault it was his Slayer was dead. He couldn’t even look into their eyes; couldn’t bring himself to face the accusation he knew he would find there. He supposed they were just looking for muscle, maybe even expendable muscle, and he fit the bill more that anyone else who happened to be available right now. Harris was probably laying his hopes on the ‘expendable’ part, hoping for a way to be rid of him without having to wield the stake himself.
He was a Master Vampire from the most elite and powerful line of vampires ever to exist. Aurelius. A weasely little demon like Doc should have proven no problem for him, and for the ten thousandth time, he tried to understand just where and how he had failed so tragically. Had he simply been unprepared for Doc’s tricks? Had he been too cocky, too sure of his own prowess as a warrior? Or had the fact that it had mattered more than ever before been his downfall? His reckless disregard for his own safety and well being had usually served him well in battle. Only when protecting another – usually Drusilla, or in the case in question, Dawn – had he acted with hesitation that had led or contributed to defeat.
Spike felt a sudden stark fear run through him. What if Dawn was endangered again, and he failed again, this time leading to her death?
Failing her. Again.
Failing his Slayer. Again.
He put a hand against the wall of the cave momentarily, enduring the wave of sickness he felt. Sod it all anyway. Caring about people was damned inconvenient. Not to mention truly terrifying. And fear was not a sensation he was accustomed to feeling or dealing with.
Caring about Dawn, a girl so unable to protect or defend herself, was even worse than caring about Dru or Buffy. At least they’d had the natural weapons of strength and power at their disposal.
Things Dawn was without. The fear of failing her rocked him, and the nausea increased. He swallowed.
He wasn’t going to fall back into the state he’d apparently descended to just after his Slayer’s death. He damn well couldn’t. He had responsibilities, sod it all.
How unbloodybelievable was that? Bleedin’ tragic, it was.
Gathering himself, he went on.
The smell of rotting human flesh assaulted him just around the next curve in the passage he was following. Well, that didn’t help the nausea, he thought in disgust. The lack of sanitary measures by some demons was appalling. Didn’t they have a care for others? Especially for demons such as vampires who had a highly developed sense of smell?
The smell led him into a large cavern, currently empty of anything living. Spike took in the pile of human and animal body parts, some of which had been gnawed on, and most of which appeared to have been torn painfully from their host. Something fairly large, then, he’d wager, if it could tear a person apart limb from limb. Or something extremely powerful. Or both. Vampires could tear the heads off of humans or off of several other varieties of demons, but only when fully vamped and in the midst of blood lust. He’d never known vamps to tear off arms and legs and pile them up. Not to mention the vast amounts of blood covering lots of the bits in the pile. No vampire worthy of the name would let that amount of blood go to waste.
He ran his mind over the demons he could think of whose behavior and feeding habits fit this scenario. Half a dozen came to mind off the top of his head. Two could be safely ruled out, he felt. Emg Demons and the Nepthys had never made their way out of the jungles of South America. They were closely related, both pretty noticeable and always traveled in groups of at least a dozen. He was sure he’d have heard something if any of their kind had been spotted anywhere in the vicinity. And Sangga Demons, though they loved stockpiling their meat in just such a fashion, had little taste for human flesh, so he could probably cross them off the list too.
He raised the torch he was carrying, exploring the rest of the chamber. There were some very large, very deep and very fresh claw marks in the stone floor in several places. Balls. Some of those gouges were nearly five inches deep. In his experience, something that could claw that deeply into solid rock should, if at all possible, be avoided. And if the claw marks had been made by the same creature that was responsible for the pile of half eaten limbs and the occasional torso, he could cross two more possible demons species off his mental list. That left Geks.
Or something he had no previous knowledge of. Which would include dragons.
After another hour of examining the chamber and the adjacent passageways, Spike decided to go back to the Watcher with his information. The Scoobies could organize one of their all night research sessions. They pulled them often enough. They must enjoy them.
While they cracked the books, he thought he might work out for a bit in the training room of the Magic Box. Bloke should never get too complaisant. Maybe it was time to start training in earnest.
A little stronger. A little faster.
A little more likely to be able to protect Dawn against any threat to her that might arise.
Continued in Chapter Six
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