- Always Wait For You – Prologue
- Always Wait For You – 1
- Always Wait For You – 2
- Always Wait For You – 3
- Always Wait For You – 4
- Always Wait For You – 5
- Always Wait For You – 6
- Always Wait For You – 7
- Always Wait For You – 8
- Always Wait For You – 9
- Always Wait For You – 10
- Always Wait For You – 11
- Always Wait For You – 12
- Always Wait For You – 13
- Always Wait For You – 14
Behind the cut you will find Chapter Eleven. (ETA) I’ve added a little bit here and there, based on having an alert reader point out a plot hole. Made a couple of small changes in this chapter and in the following one.)
Things are becoming nastier and more frustrating…
After a brief conversation about what Angelus had said, Willow promised to go through Lucy’s room at the school and find something to use for a locator spell. She took Spike’s cell number and promised to call as soon as she had something. Buffy told her where they were planning to begin their search, then left the building to join Spike and Faith in the parking lot. Xander had elected to remain behind, as much to visit with Willow as to provide what protection he could. He had long since made peace with the fact that, as valuable as his experience and courage could be, in some situations his vulnerability as a human could put Faith in danger; and he was comfortable with his role as adviser and back-up.
The two slayers and the vampire took Faith’s car and drove to the residential area in which the Pratt’s house was located. They cruised around in the car at first, searching for houses that looked uninhabited or deserted. At each likely candidate, Buffy and Faith left a growling Spike in the car while they took a closer look at the house. Assuring him that they would bring him in at the first sign that they might have found Angelus’ hiding place, they peered into windows and tried doors on every house that seemed promising.
When the door upon which Faith had gently pushed, swung open, they looked at each other and then waved at the car. Spike was beside them very quickly, sniffing the air and nodding.
“They’ve been here, for sure. Don’t smell the slayer’s blood, but plenty of other. And I can smell Dru and Angelus.”
They entered cautiously, using Spike’s enhanced vision to navigate until they were confident that there was no one alive or undead in the house. At which time they turned on a few lights, but saw little sign of habitation until they found the stairs to the basement.
“Let me go first,” Spike growled, his demon emerging as the scent of blood drifted up to him. The cooler of blood that he had brought with him was still in his hotel room, and his stomach was beginning to rumble.
Spike crept down the stairs, all his senses alert. He was almost to the bottom step and reaching for the barely visible light switch when something about the situation rang a bell. He turned around and threw both women down onto the steps, pressing his body into them just as a crossbow bolt whistled past his head.
“What the fuck!” Faith’s outraged screech was not really a question, but more of an expression of her fury at almost being taken in by such a common booby trap.
She sat up, ignoring the still prone vampire who was lying on Buffy, and gazed around as best she could without the benefit of vampire night-vision. She could just make out the crossbow that had been set up on the other side of the room. A careful look around revealed nothing else that seemed dangerous, and she took a chance on the light switch.
They all blinked rapidly in the bright light. Buffy was staring up at Spike, wondering if he was even aware that he was still lying on her. The vampire was swearing at his own stupidity in three languages.
“I know that’s the wanker’s favorite trick. Can’t believe I walked into it.”
“It’s okay,” Buffy soothed. “We’re all alright.”
“It’s not okay,” he growled, glaring down at her. “One of you might have been killed.”
“Alright, fangface,” Faith broke in. “Stop using this as an excuse to rub up against Buffy and get up here. What are we looking at?”
Without comment, he rolled off and sat up to look around. The room was covered in dried blood – too much of it to have come from one person. They all got to their feet and began to explore the room. A cursory search turned up three dead bodies – one of which was a young girl about Joy’s age. Buffy gave a very un-slayerlike whimper as she rolled the girl over.
“Oh my god. That’s Julie. She’s –she was – on Joy’s gymnastics team.”
Without thinking, Spike put his arms around her, enjoying the way she leaned into the comfort. He could tell the instant her slayer side took over as she stiffened and pulled away, walking around the room and noting without comment the other bodies and the signs of trauma and torture. When they were sure that they hadn’t missed any important clues to where the vampires might have gone from there, they walked up the stairs and started out the front door.
What they hadn’t noticed on the way in, was a message written in blood – it was stuck to the back of the front door and said simply, “See you, lover.”
“Not if I see you first,” Buffy muttered, tearing it off the door and ripping it to shreds.
They left the house, closing the door behind them. Buffy didn’t envy the real estate agent who would be the one to find the bodies, but she didn’t want to get involved in explaining to the police why they had entered the house. She worried briefly about fingerprints, but shrugged it off as something to worry about later. Unlike Sunnydale, the Cleveland police force had a small unit that knew what a Hellmouth was and that they had one. There was a good relationship between that unit and the Slayer School, and Buffy was confident there would be no problems if her fingerprints showed up at what was clearly a vampire crime scene.
With no way to track the missing vampires, and no trace of Lucy’s blood in the house, they had to assume it was now a dead end. Willow had yet to call with a location for the missing Slayer, leaving nothing for them to do but return to the slayer school. Faith dropped Spike and Buffy off at their car and went inside to get Xander. She promised to hit the streets first thing in the morning with her hand-picked group of slayers, hoping to find the vampires while they were vulnerable and trapped indoors. None of them mentioned that the chances of finding Lucy alive were fading rapidly.
When Faith had gone inside, leaving Spike and Buffy awkwardly shuffling their feet, they were suddenly aware of the way they were exposed.
“Not that I think they’d be hanging around a building full of slayers this close to dawn, but if they were…”
“I should get inside,” he agreed reluctantly.
“We could stay here, I guess,” Buffy ventured. “Get a few hours sleep before I take the kids to school…”
“You’re going to let them go to school?”
“It’ll be daylight – they should be okay, don’t you think? They won’t have Lucy, but maybe I can find another “cousin” for them. Or, I can just hang out at the school all day. Check out the basement…”
“Don’t like it,” he said stubbornly. “Basements are good places for vamps – you might remember that…”
“This school isn’t located over the Hellmouth,” she replied. “And it doesn’t have crazy, souled vampires living in the basement.”
“Not souled ones I’m worryin’ about,” he grumbled as he followed her into the building. “It’s the crazy unsouled ones.”
“We can talk about it in the morning,” she yawned. “Right now, I’d like to get a couple of hours of sleep.”
The building was quiet, all the slayers having returned from patrolling and tucked into their small rooms for some sleep. The one on duty gave them a wave as they walked past her, providing the unsolicited information that more guards had been added and they were roaming the building all night just in case.
Buffy smiled her gratitude and, without looking at Spike, asked if there were any empty rooms for them to use for a few hours. The girl shook her head.
“I don’t really know. That’s the RA’s job and she went back to bed a while ago.”
Buffy thanked her and headed for the library, Spike following quietly behind. She pushed the doors open and gestured to the leather sofas that were scattered around the large room.
“I guess we can make do with these for the time being. You should be okay here – the sun doesn’t really come in those windows until late afternoon. Maybe when the girls are up and starting their classes, you can find someplace else to get some more sleep…”
“If you’re takin’ the kids to school, I’m going with you. Two of us can get through that basement a lot faster than you can by yourself.”
“Not leaving them to anyone else if there’s any way I can be there. You either,” he said very softly as he settled onto one of couches.
Too tired to argue, Buffy threw herself down onto the soft leather of the couch across from his. She squirmed around and put her arms around herself, feeling the chill for the first time that night. She had shut her eyes and curled into a ball when she felt something settled gently across her back.
“Thank you,” she whispered, without opening her eyes.
“You’re welcome, pet. ‘s not like I really need it.”
“You like to be warm,” she mumbled, as she drifted off. “I remember it from Sunnydale. You always wanted to have blankets and stuff…”
Spike lay back on his own makeshift bed and watched her as she fell asleep.
“I do like warmth,” he whispered. “I remember it too.” He fell asleep reminiscing about his old crypt and the body that had warmed his bed for those few, intoxicating months.
Buffy unfolded her body from it’s curled up position, groaning as she stretched muscles that felt much older than her years. She glanced over to see that Spike was watching her through half-open eyes.
“Mornin’, pet.” He sat up and stretched, giving her a look at the lean, muscular body that she had missed so much. She blushed when he caught her looking, turning her eyes away quickly. “See something you like?” he teased in a way that gave her a bit of hope for a future.
“You wish,” she scoffed, still blushing as she stood up and stretched herself.
“Sometimes I do,” he responded softly.
Before they could take the conversation any further, the chatter of student slayers had them walking out of the library to find their children. Locating them in the cafeteria, Buffy informed them that they were going to school and should get ready quickly. Both children stared intently at their parents, but there was nothing about their demeanor to give them a clue to where or how they might have spent the night.
Borrowing a blanket from the school, Spike make a dash for the car, jumping into the backseat and sliding to the floor where he huddled under the blanket. He growled when he heard Will and Joy snickering at his position, telling them, “It’s not polite to make fun of a man’s afflictions, you little gits.”
Buffy’s tinkling laugh joined theirs and she said, “Don’t make fun of your father, kids. He can’t help it if he has to hide on floors occasionally. It’s goes along with his aversion to roaring fires and pointed woody objects.”
The arrival at the private combined middle and high school that the two younger Pratts attended was done as quickly and quietly as possible. While Will and Joy went to their respective locker areas and got ready for their first morning classes, Buffy went to the main office to tell them that she would be hanging around the school quite a bit in the daytime. Without going into details, she told them that she was worried about the safety of her children and planned to keep a close eye on them until the danger was over.
The Pratt children had been students at the school since kindergarten, having first attended the elementary school, which was in a separate building on the other side of the playing fields; and the staff was more than accustomed to seeing Buffy in and out of the school on one errand or another. The principal had been born and raised in Cleveland, and he was not unaware of the unusual nature of his city. In addition, he knew of the other “private school” at which Buffy taught, and a good bit about the nature of the classes there. He gave her a curious look, but just nodded and assured her that she was welcome to stay as long as she wanted to.
“And the cousin?” he inquired shrewdly.
“She won’t be here today,” Buffy said shortly.
“Ah, I see. Well, I hope she’ll come back to see us again soon.”
“So do I,” Buffy replied, giving him a tense smile.
She trusted Spike to get himself into the building in some fashion and, when she’d finished chatting with the office staff, she headed for the nearest stairs to the basement. Opening the door, she slipped into the poorly lit stairwell and started down.
The basement looked no different than would the below-ground level of any large building – closed doors marked “Danger, no unauthorized personnel” behind which could be heard machinery of one sort or another, storage areas with floor to ceiling shelves of old books and boxes that appeared to have been there a long time, and long hallways connecting the various parts of the building.
She prowled around, looking for any sign that vampires may have been there, or that they could get into the basement in some fashion. When she saw the heavy grates over the ventilation system and the heavy iron door leading to the sewer lines, she smiled at the precautions and made a mental note to congratulate the principal on his forethought.
A tingle on the back of her neck brought her around, stake raised, only find Spike grinning at her from atop a pile of crates.
“Very funny,” she grumbled. “I might have staked you, sneaking up on me like that.”
He dropped lightly to the ground and walked up to her, gently pushing the stake aside.
“Knew you couldn’t get me up there,” he smirked. “Jus’ checking to see if I’ve still got it.”
“You don’t know if you’ve still got ‘it’?” she frowned. “What have you been doing all this time?”
“Not stalking slayers,” he said, looking her in the eye. “Or any other kind of humans, for that matter. Unless they needed a little taste of their own medicine.”
“You haven’t been hunting?” She couldn’t keep the happiness from her voice, cringing when she saw the disappointment on his face.
“Did you think I was? All this time, you thought I was killing?”
“I didn’t know, did I?” she protested. “It’s not like it was me that you kept in touch with all that time! I didn’t know where you were or what you were doing.”
She couldn’t keep the accusatory tone from her voice and his mouth drew into a tight line as he answered.
“You didn’t want to know, as I recall. You wanted me out of your life – yours and the niblets’. I gave you what you wanted.”
“You might have waited around to see if I really wanted it,” she blurted, cursing herself for being unreasonable even as the words left her mouth.
“Think we should leave this conversation for some other time, Slayer. When we don’t have anything else to worry about.” His face wore the same closed expression it had when he first arrived.
“I’m sorry.” Her whispered apology was so soft she wasn’t sure that he’d heard her, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak again, and he gave no indication whether he’d heard or not.
Without speaking again they prowled through the basement, operating with the teamwork that they had spent so many years perfecting. Spike stopped by a heavy door, frowning and holding up his hand to unnecessarily silence her. He shifted into game face and sniffed the air, cocking his head to listen at the same time. He ran his hands over the door, noting the heavy lock that secured it.
Unable to contain herself any longer, Buffy hissed, “What?”
He shook his head. “I dunno. Could swear I smelled Lucy for a minute, but it’s faint and no trace of blood…”
“She probably came down here to check things out a couple of days ago,” Buffy guessed. “Maybe that’s why it’s so faint?”
“Maybe…” He still had a sense of unease, but couldn’t find anything concrete to be worried about. The door was secure, they’d found no sign of Angelus or Drusilla, and they had no reason to think Lucy was alive. After another quick turn through the entire basement, he agreed to follow Buffy upstairs to meet the school’s principal.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/223422.html