Always Wait For You – 13

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Always Wait For You
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I apologize to everyone for that last chapter and the lack of a cut. All fixed now. That’s about third or fourth one that I’ve had to go back and fix – hopefully none of the others caused a problem before I noticed them and added the cut. *peers around to see if anyone is growling at me*

Behind the cut (let’s hope) is Chapter Thirteen in which lots of stuff happens, not all of it very nice or fluffy.

 Chapter Thirteen

Barnes had just settled back into his daily routine, working his way through the stack of papers on his desk, when his phone rang again. This time, it was not the custodian, but his head maintenance man on the other end.

“I think you’d better see this,” the man said gruffly, his voice rough and ragged sounding.

“Can’t you tell me about it?” he responded, his irritation plain. “I’m way behind here already today.”

“Just get down here – and bring your keys.” The phone call ended abruptly and Barnes allowed himself a few seconds of swearing and promising retribution for the disrespect before heaving a sigh and leaving his office again. The heavy ring of keys was still dangling from his belt as he paused to say to his secretary, “Something’s going on downstairs. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He paused on his way out and turned back to her. “If the Pratts come back, you might tell them where I’ve gone…”

He walked out, leaving a puzzled woman behind. She walked to the doorway and watched as he walked down the hall, letting himself into the stairway and closing the door behind him. Shaking her head at having the primary administrator having to make so many trips to the maintenance area, she went back to her desk and her phones.

In the basement, Barnes was staring at the drained body of his chief maintenance man in disbelief and dismay. Before he could reach for the emergency phone hanging on the wall, a woman slipped out from behind some boxes, caught his eyes and murmured, “Look into my eyes…Be in me…”

Her eyes held him, even as somewhere in the back of his mind a voice was screaming at him to run as fast and as far as he could. He nodded numbly and felt himself falling into her, forgetting everything except the instructions that she was whispering in his ear. He felt himself nodding again as he reached for the phone and waited for his secretary’s voice.

“Donna? It’s me. Would you please send the Pratt children to me? Yes, I am still in the basement. Yes, right now. Just do as you’re told!”

“That was very nice. What a good boy…” Dru’s voice continued to purr in his ear as she drew him closer. “I wonder… if I eat you, will it make me smarter?”

~~~~~~~~~

Joy and Will stared at each other and then at Donna, their confusion plain on their faces.

“We’re supposed to go downstairs? To the basement? Did Mr. Barnes say why?”

Donna shook her head. “No, he didn’t, but he was quite emphatic that you come right away. He said to tell your parents where he was when they got back, so maybe they…”

Joy relaxed. “Oh, well, if Mom and Dad are there with him, then there must be a good reason. If he calls back, tell him we’re on our way.”

They immediately headed for the closest stairwell, wondering aloud about what could be so important in the school basement that they needed to see it. It wasn’t until they got down there and stared around in confusion that they realized how extensive that floor of the building was.

“Mr. Barnes? It’s Joy Pratt. Where are you?”

“Over here, kids.” The voice came from around the corner and down a long hallway. “Just follow the signs to the ventilation units.”

They obediently followed the directions, following the small signs that indicated which machinery was located in what parts of the large complex. Rounding the final corner, they came to a halt, staring in confused horror at the sight of the principal’s pale body and bloody throat which was lying below a large metal grate that had been torn from its hinges.

They were turning to flee when a familiar voice stopped them.

“Joy! Will!” The voice cried desperately. “This way! Come with me.”

“Lucy!” Without thought, Joy ran towards her bodyguard, crying with relief. “We’ve been so worried. Are you all right? What happened?”

“I’m fine,” Lucy said with a small smile as she accepted Joy’s hug. “Never been better…” As she spoke, she clutched Joy to her body and applied pressure on her carotid artery until the unsuspecting girl lost consciousness. While Will stared in terror-stricken surprise, she effortlessly lifted Joy’s inert body over her head and stuffed it into the open ventilation shaft. He watched his sister disappear, as though sucked up by a giant vacuum and cried out for her, even as his instincts were screaming at him to leave the area immediately.

When he saw Lucy stalking towards him, her eyes now an unfamiliar amber and her smile much toothier than before, he picked up a nearby broom and faced her with quivering determination.

“Bring my sister back,” he said in his best imitation of Buffy’s slayer voice. “And do it now, you…you bitch!”

Lucy laughed and kept walking towards him. “Come on, Will. You know what I can do. Do you really want me to do this the hard way?” As she approached, one hand reaching for the broom handle and one drawn back to punch him unconscious, he suddenly shoved the handle of the broom into her stomach, hitting, more by accident than design, her diaphragm. Much as a human would have, she doubled over, the air she had been taking in to speak forced out and the large muscle cramping from the force of the blow.

With a last, anguished look at the dark hole into which his sister had disappeared, he surrendered to the growing fear for his life. While Lucy snarled and struggled to her feet, he swung the broom like a baseball bat, hitting her in the head; he then kicked her as hard as he could, connecting with her chin and watching in satisfaction as she fell backward, temporarily unconscious.

“Goal!” he whispered, dropping the broom and taking to his heels. He had no idea where he was in the maze of hallways and machinery, knowing only that the speed for which he was famous was the only thing standing between him and whatever fate had befallen his sister. He ran and ran, twisting and turning, searching frantically for an outside door or a stairway to the upper floors. His lungs were burning and his legs were beginning to feel weaker as he rounded a corner and ran head on into a woman he’d never seen before.

“Pretty, pretty boy,” she cooed. “Whatever could have sent such a pretty boy fleeing for his life?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike and Buffy were already opening the stairwell door before the secretary had finished speaking, identical expressions of rage and fear on their faces. As soon as the door was behind him, Spike shifted into his demon face and sped past Buffy, dropping down the stairs in one leap. His nose and ears told him they needed to split up and he gestured down the hall.

“The ventilation duct,” he growled. “I’ll get Will.”

Buffy followed the barely remembered path to the area where Spike had thought he smelled Lucy earlier in the day; fear for her children turning her blood to ice. She skidded around the corner and found herself facing every slayer’s nightmare – a sister slayer now turned into something to be slain.

She searched Lucy’s amber eyes, looking for some sign that the girl she’d known for such a short time was still there; but all she saw was a tall and confident vampire, albeit one with a growing bruise on her face.

“Where are my kids?” Buffy demanded, pulling a stake from her waistband. She followed Lucy’s unconscious glance at the open duct and moved towards it, temporarily forgetting about the vampire in her way. The kick to her side that knocked the stake out of her hand was an unpleasant reminder that she couldn’t go looking for her children until she had taken care of their former bodyguard.

Lucy faced Buffy with surprising confidence, considering that she had just been overpowered by a twelve-year-old boy. While everyone at the slayer school knew that Buffy was the oldest living slayer, and that she had defeated master vampires, demons, gods and the First Evil, they rarely got to see her fight outside of the sparring that took place during training. And Lucy had never seen Buffy when she was battling a threat to her family.

Filled with hubris over her new-found speed and her superior size, she was totally unprepared for the whirlwind unleashed upon her. Without pausing between blows to indulge in her usual quips, Buffy quickly reduced the new vampire to a semi-conscious body on the floor. As she picked up her stake and bent over, she watched Lucy’s face fade back to that of a frightened girl.

“I’m sorry,” Buffy whispered. “I know it wasn’t your fault.”

She plunged the stake home. Before the dust had even settled on the floor, Buffy was leaping up to catch the edge of the large duct, straining her eyes to see in the darkness. Stretching every slayer sense she had, she began moving slowly forward, searching for any sign of which of the many branching ducts might be the one to take.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Will froze in front of the smiling, swaying woman.

“You are just as pretty as my sweet William,” she sang, holding one arm in a grip that told him this was not an ordinary woman. Chills went through his body as he listened to her babbling and began to realize who she was. “Are you going to take my sweet William’s place?” she asked plaintively. “He left me, my Spike did. Left for that nasty slayer and her sunshine. And now he’s all gone. Come to a bad end.” She brightened, pulling him closer. “But you can take his place! We will be a family again.” She looked at him intently. “Daddy will like you – pretty thing that you are. He won’t mind if I–”

She stopped her sing-song babbling, her head flying up and her eyes staring intently into the shadows behind a large stack of crates.

“Let him go, Dru.”

Will had never been so glad to hear his father’s voice.

“Oh my,” the vampire still clutching him gasped. “Won’t this be a surprise for Angelus?”

Spike stepped out of the shadow of the crates behind which he had stopped when he heard Dru’s voice, his eyes running quickly over his son to check for damage.

“Let him go, Dru,” he repeated, easing closer. He was well aware that she could slit Will’s throat before he could stop her; his only chance was to distract her long enough to pull the boy to safety.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” she murmured, suddenly sounding very sane. “Angelus is going to want this one – especially when he finds out that the Slayer lied to him about his daddy.”

“He can’t have him,” Spike said firmly. “I can’t let that happen, princess. Why not let him go to his mother and you and I can have a nice talk about old times?”

“Would there be tea and cakes?”

“There could be,” he soothed. “Just let the boy go and I’m all yours.”

She cocked her head and gave him a sad smile.

“You aren’t my sweet William any more, are you? You’re lying to your princess just to save the little boy. But I want him,” she said, her voice suddenly hard as she shifted into her vampire face. “He will be my new toy and he will learn to love his mummy.”

Will was understanding very little of the conversation between his father and the crazy vampire holding onto his arm. He could feel blood trickling down to his wrist from the holes left by her nails. Her shift into her true face brought an involuntary whimper from his throat and he pulled as far away from her deadly grip as he could.

“Easy, lad,” Spike’s voice soothed. “We’re going to get you out of this.”

“He…they…Joy…somebody took Joy,” Will managed to blurt out. “Lucy was…”

“They turned her. Don’t doubt it. But I suspect your mum has long since taken care of that problem. We just need to get back to her and find your sister and Angelus.”

Dru snarled, frightening Will even more as she bared her teeth.

“If the nasty slayer takes my Angelus away again, I will make both her children my toys. I will slash and tear until they bleed and beg me to let them die.”

“They’re my children, too,” Spike said with a calmness that he didn’t feel. “Would you do that to me, love? Take my children?”

As he was speaking, he had been moving closer to her in small imperceptible steps. His eyes met his son’s frightened stare and he smiled encouragingly.

“Got to get my boy home,” he said casually. “He has a game tomorrow and we need to work on his volleys.” He readied himself as he saw understanding dawning on Will’s face. When the boy brought his foot around in a powerful swing, connecting with Dru’s knee, she screamed and collapsed to the floor, pulling Will down with her. Before she could get her teeth or claws into him, Spike had wrenched her arm out of its socket and pushed the now-free boy away from the snarling vampire.

Will watched with wide eyes as his father backhanded Drusilla into the wall, then punched her until she stopped moving. He grabbed her head, whispered a “sorry, princess” and twisted until her head popped off and turned to dust along with the rest of her body.

Without waiting to mourn her dust, he grabbed Will’s hand and began to pull him back the way he’d come.

“Let’s go, son. Time to send Angelus to hell for the last time.”

When Will’s shorter and much more exhausted legs began to slow them down, Spike didn’t even break stride as he swung the boy over his shoulder and continued running. They burst into the bloody space where Will had last seen his sister and skidded to a halt. Spike’s keen eye noticed the dust on the floor, as well as the principal’s dead body. He sniffed twice and growled, staring into the space where Buffy’s scent disappeared.

Will watched curiously as his father’s familiar face twisted itself into something much different and more frightening. His demon to the fore, Spike turned to his son.

“I need for you to find the nearest stairs and run straight up them to the sunlight. Then you need to call the school and get Aunt Faith over here – tell her to bring friends. Can you do that for me?”

Will nodded dumbly, too entranced by the fangs around which his father was speaking to say anything.

“Good boy,” Spike growled. “I love you. Now, go!” With a quick hug, he shoved Will in the direction of the main hallway. He waited long enough to hear a stairwell door close behind the boy and his rapid footsteps as he took the stairs three at a time. As soon as he was sure Will was safe, he turned around and leaped gracefully into the open duct.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy had crept through the darkened duct work, grateful for the occasional vent that let in a small amount of light here and there. When she was between vents, and the darkness was black and heavy with menace, she moved slowly, stretching her vampire-sensing skills to their limit and listening for any trace of a sound.

In the faint light provided by a small vent high above her head, she saw what appeared to be spots of fresh blood, touching one with her hand and wincing at the familiar slippery feel. Moving faster, she concentrated on following the drops, using her fingers to feel for small damp spots when it was too dark for her to see. She was concentrating so hard on finding the drops that she almost didn’t notice the way vampire tingles were making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up straight.

As soon as she realized what she was sensing, she froze and raised her head, looking around cautiously. Hearing no sounds to guide her when she reached a place where the large duct intersected another one, she allowed the tingles to tell her which way to go. She followed her instincts, noting when the light permitted that the blood drops were going in the same direction.

Confident that she was on the right track, she increased her speed, moving faster and faster as the signature became stronger. When she reached the end of the duct, she almost fell out as it ended several feet above the floor of a large room full of humming machinery. She peered into the darkness, flinching back when the sudden flare of a match hit her dilated eyes.

She blinked hard, struggling to see the form behind the match. A deep, familiar chuckle told her who was now lighting the candle in front of him.

“There is a light switch in here,” Angelus said conversationally, “but I think this is much more romantic, don’t you, Buffy?”

“Where is my daughter?”

“You mean this pretty little thing?” He held up a barely conscious Joy, laughing at Buffy’s expression when she noticed the bloody bite on Joy’s neck. “Oh, yes. I had a little taste. Just couldn’t help myself – she tastes so much like you. But don’t worry. I didn’t take too much. Want her alive until Dru and I are ready to—” He broke off with a howl of rage, flinging Joy away from him and into one of the machines.

“What have you done?” he screamed. His link with his former childe, now his sire, had suddenly disappeared. “You – you’re here. How did you…”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Has someone gone missing?” She landed lightly on the floor, falling into a fighting stance, her stake in her hand. “Gee, I wonder how that happened? Maybe I’m not the only unhappy parent in the building?”

“Nice try,” he sneered. “I know you, Buffy. You staked that pain in my ass the minute he opened his yellow eyes. Don’t try to pretend you didn’t. You wouldn’t let a demon walk, even if it was wearing Spike’s face.”

“You’ve never known me very well, Angleus,” she replied. “You thought I wouldn’t do it when I had to, and now you think I didn’t when there was no reason.”

“You’re bluffing.” There was just the slightest trace of fear in his deep voice. He had known Spike too well, and for too many years – as man and vampire – not to have an understanding of what it would be like to face him when his family had been harmed.

“You wish, Peaches.”

Without glancing back, Buffy stepped to the side to allow Spike to drop to the floor beside her. With another snarl, Angelus grabbed Joy’s foot and yanked the crying girl to him. He wrapped one meaty hand around her neck and sneered at the two frustrated parents glaring at him.

“You’ll be wanting to step out of my way, now,” he growled. “Unless you want to watch her neck snap. I definitely planned to enjoy her for a bit longer before I killed her, but I’m flexible on that.”

He motioned for Spike and Buffy to get out of his way, as he began walking towards the vent, still clutching Joy by her neck. It was obvious to both parents that he was squeezing off her oxygen and could easily snap her neck before either of them would reach him.

“Where do you think you’re gonna go with her, arsehole?” Spike snarled.
“Last time I looked outside, the sun was still up, and there’s an army of slayers on the way here to surround the building.”

“They’ll have the same problem you do, won’t they?” Angelus seemed unperturbed by the news. “They can’t touch me without losing Joy, here.” He gave them a toothy grin. “Not sayin’ I won’t be taking her with me when I leave, but at least she’ll be alive. It’s your choice, Buffy.” He ignored Spike in favor of appealing to the motherly instincts in the Slayer. “We’ll just be leavin’ now. By the time I work my way back out of here, it will be dark enough to leave the way I came.”

“Which was…?” Buffy blinked in surprise when he actually answered her.

“Those big ventilation outlets on the roof? Turns out they have ladders inside. It was easy to slip in there at night and find this nice, comfy place to rest. Would have been easier getting in and out if Dru had enough sense to get the keys off somebody while she had a chance.” He gestured at the locked door of the room. “But, like I said, I’m flexible.” He smiled again and jumped easily into the open shaft, ignoring the moan from his captive when her leg banged against the side of the opening. “Hush, girl. We need to move now.”

“No!” Joy’s choked refusal was proof that he had released her throat, and Buffy and Spike sprang.

They reached the opening just in time to see Angelus push Joy ahead of him with snarled instructions to get her ass moving. Instead, the girl fell forward onto her hands and propelled herself into a tucked handspring that landed her out of the vampire’s reach.

Spike was upon him before he had time to realize that he’d lost his hostage. Joy shrank against the wall, quivering in fear as something she couldn’t recognize as her father rolled around on the floor of the duct in a snarling, snapping, swearing tangle with Angelus. Buffy ran past the two vampires, her first instinct being to check her child for serious injury.

“That was wonderful, honey,” she murmured, pulling the sobbing girl into a tight hug. “I’m so proud of you.”

Joy clung to her mother, gasping sobs tearing her sore throat. Her eyes were wide and focused on the still-struggling vampires outlined against the flickering light from the room behind them. When Buffy had assured herself that Joy was going to be all right, she gently sat her back down some distance away and ordered her to wait there.

She walked towards the fighting vampires, her stake held lightly in her hand. Angelus’ fears of having to face a vengeful Spike were more than justified, and Buffy watched calmly as her husband systematically administered as much pain as was possible in the short amount of time he’d had. When it became obvious that the fight was over and that Spike was just concentrating on inflicting pain, while keeping Angelus conscious enough to feel it, Buffy stepped closer, saying quietly, “Joy is watching.”

“Yeah,” Angelus managed to get out past his swollen lips and missing teeth. “Wouldn’t want your little girl to see what you really are, would you, William the Bloody?”

Spike froze, then without responding, he reached behind him for the stake.

“No, Spike. Let me.”

She stepped forward and met Angelus’ eyes. Immediately, he faded into his human face, but Buffy just shook her head at him.

“Not his time,” she said clearly as she drove the stake through his chest and into his heart. “Not this time.”

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/223981.html

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