Title: Between Hell and a Heartbeat (working title)
Rating: PG13 (for now)
Setting: S4 AU from “The Harsh Light of Day”
Word Count: 2600
Summary: Buffy finds Spike before he manages to acquire the Gem of Amara. Things don’t quite work out as either of them would’ve liked.
A/N: Real life continues to be ridiculously needy, which means that rather than only posting a fic after I’m done writing it (as is my personal habit), what I have for you today is the beginning of an unbeta’ed WIP. I hope you’ll enjoy anyway.
Like a good little minion, the vampire Buffy had been tracking through Sunnydale’s underground tunnel system led her directly to what could only be a vampire lair. With a sudden spurt of speed on her part, he was dust, and so were the two guarding the entrance to hollowed-out rooms beyond. Spike’s minions weren’t much brainier than he, not that Buffy was complaining. If she had to be here, tracking his evil, undead ass down and putting a stop to his stupid plans, the least he could do was make it easy on her by surrounding himself with idiots.
From the looks of it, the lair had been a hotbed of activity. Books and clothes and debris were scattered willy-nilly, and there was a vaguely familiar-looking corpse chained to the wall, but other than the recently dusty, vampires, including her quarry, were conspicuously absent.
Buffy fingered what appeared to be an historic map of Sunnydale and set of city sewer plans, musing. It was possible this wasn’t Spike’s lair, but she had more of a problem than she knew if there was some other vampire making grandiose schemes involving her town. The maps didn’t mean much to her – that was more Willow’s department – and she set them down and headed deeper into the warren of tunnels, stake at the ready.
It wasn’t long before she found a tunnel filled with rubble and scaffolding and equipment, all as abandoned as the main rooms. Beyond was nothing but a dead end. Buffy toed the rubble, frowning, and then looked up at a noise that sounded suspiciously like Spike yelping, filtering down from somewhere overhead.
There was a hole to the right of the scaffold. A big hole. Grateful for Slayer strength and springiness, she bent her knees and launched herself upwards.
Dozens of pretties, winking and glinting in the lantern light, temporarily distracted her, but she quickly took stock of the situation. She could see Harmony standing in the light of a second lantern, over by the far wall of the musty, dusty crypt, trying on said pretties and babbling away about France. Spike stood next to her, glowering and looking pissed off, like he’d had it up to here with Harmony’s perpetual cluelessness. When he moved to stake her, Buffy didn’t blame him for it one bit. She was surprised he hadn’t done it sooner, honestly.
More surprising was when Harmony didn’t turn to dust. Buffy snorted, thinking Spike must have missed the heart, and both vampires turned to her, shock turning to fear on Harmony’s part, and fury on Spike’s.
“Slayer,” he hissed, shoving Harmony out of the way and stalking towards her. “You’d best leave now, if you value your life.”
“You staked me!” Harmony glared daggers at his back. “I can’t believe you did that! I can’t believe he did that!” she said to Buffy, womanhood united against the caddishness of men.
Fresh off the humiliation that was Parker, Buffy felt a moment of gynic comradery, but it dissipated quickly in the face of Spike’s advance. He began to circle her and she with him, eyes locked on one another. A gaudy emerald gem, dangling from a heavy chain about his neck, winked in the lamplight. Brilliant against the black of his shirt, it served to distract her from the icy, wrathful blue of eyes.
Had he found his prize? She thought not, else he’d be less cautious, more pleased with himself, but she couldn’t be certain.
Spike feinted left and lunged right, and came up against her taut forearm. Buffy whirled in to plant an elbow to his gut and a follow-up fist to his solar plexus, and he hunched into the blow and returned with a cuff to her temple that sent her staggering back into the splintery coffin full of dead guy behind her. Dust plumed up behind her, around her, making her cough, and Spike took advantage of the moment to land a bruising kick to her hip.
Gasping from the pain, she inhaled more of the dust, coughed harder. It didn’t stop her from flattening Spike’s nose with a one-two rabbit punch when he invaded her space.
He dropped back, cursing and snarling, and she liberated a crude stake from the splintered wood of the coffin. Again they eyed each other, circling.
Harmony’s voice filtered in from the left, then the right. “… all you care about. You don’t care about me, and you’re wrong. Love isn’t supposed to hurt. And I hope Buffy kills you dead, so you can feel what I felt when you – when you -“
Buffy spared her a glance, and a pang of sympathy along with it at the sight of Harmony’s miserable, tear-streaked face. She also felt a faint rush of gratitude, and a sense of relief. Not that she was worried about her ability to take Harmony in a fight, but she didn’t need the distraction when she was up against William the Bloody, bane of her existence and of Slayerkind.
“Sod off, Harm,” Spike growled, eyes contemptuous but never leaving Buffy’s face. Or the stake in her hand.
“Don’t think I won’t,” she said. “Because you know what? I don’t need you! Maybe I’ll just go to Paris without you, what do you think of that?”
It was Buffy’s turn to take advantage as he turned his glare on Harmony. She punched him hard enough to send him flying, exploding backwards through the coffin and to the far wall where he’d stood when she’d entered the crypt.
“Hey,” Harmony said, slapping at the bits of wood embedded in her chest. “Watch the splinters! I’m on your side, you know.”
Too bad the splinters hadn’t done her job for her with Spike. He stood, carefully brushing himself off. As Buffy leaped the destroyed coffin, he twisted to examine his back for stray shards, turning ’round and ’round like a dog chasing its tail.
“Look at you!” Harmony gave him a scathing look, hands on hips. “Buffy’s so going to kick your ass!”
“I so am,” Buffy agreed cheerfully. She slammed Spike’s head into the wall. “But maybe you don’t want to still be here when I get done with him. I hear Paris is nice this time of year.” Buffy hoped Harmony wasn’t too clueless to take her up on her hint. She wanted the bubble-headed vampire gone, before she could have a change of heart and help her supposed boyfriend after all.
“Enough about sodding Paris!” Spike said, jabbing his fingers at Buffy’s eye, and she was forced to release her grip on his hair in order to avoid being blinded. Her fingers came away sticky with his hair gel, and she wiped them on her pants with little success.
Off to the side, Harmony shook her head. “Buffy’s right. I don’t need you to take me to Paris. I don’t need you for anything!” She dropped through the hole in the crypt floor, and then her head popped back up. “Good luck, Spikey!” Then she was gone.
“Finally. Just you and me now,” Buffy said, spinning him around with a kick to the belly.
Spike righted himself, tongue curled up behind his teeth in a wolfish grin. He slunk towards her, radiating an entirely different kind of danger. “Wanted me all to yourself, did you? All you had to do was ask, baby.”
She was so surprised, she let him back her into the wall. He planted his hands on either side of her head, to box her in, and she ducked between his legs and came up with her stake swinging. Spike foiled her perfect bullseye by twisting out of her way with preternatural speed and grace.
Limber, she absolutely did not think. “Gimme a second and it’ll be just me. And a big ol’ pile of dust.”
“Wouldn’t get ahead of myself if I were you.” Spike laid her flat with a well-timed punch and followed her down, shifting into game face.
He pinned her, briefly, before she bucked him off and rolled to her feet. She’d lost her improvised stake, and she reached behind for her backup. Spike was panting, chest heaving in time to her own, and he was doing the subsonic growling thing that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand straight up. With a swift kick, he knocked her backup stake away too.
Buffy shook the sting from her hand. She wasn’t worried. She knew she was in this fight to win, and besides, there were sharp and lethal bits of wood all over the crypt, within arm’s reach for whenever she was ready to end their deadly tango.
Which was why, when she next came up for breath, she was surprised to find herself pinned to the wall, Spike’s fangs at her jugular. Every part of him was hard against her. His thigh, wedged between hers, his chest, pressed to her breasts. His left forearm across her collarbone and right hand gripping her left wrist, not quite crushing the delicate bones. His arousal, between them.
His jagged teeth on her throat.
Buffy squirmed, but she couldn’t get any leverage. She was trapped against the cold, rough stone wall, her wriggling only serving to excite him further. Panic threatened and she stopped, assessed. Realized her right arm was free. She inched it sideways, fingers questing for the crucifix she remembered seeing on the shelf beside them.
Spike pulled back a little, nostrils flaring, amber eyes hot and tender as he took her in. “Need to fix this moment to memory. The crowning glory of my Slayer triumvirate.”
“Slow down there, Secretariat.” She bashed him across the head with whatever she’d managed to grab, a metal urn from the feel of it.
There was a sort of gonging sound, but Spike was unfazed. He just laughed with delight. “Christ, you’re glorious,” he said, and went for the kill, fangs in her throat, body pressed closer, left arm reaching to immobilize her free hand.
Buffy dropped the urn, gasping at the pain. He hadn’t penetrated that deep yet, barely pricked her really, but it was miles closer than she’d ever wanted Spike’s teeth to be to her throat. She scrabbled for the crucifix, avoiding Spike’s grasping hand, and closed her fingers around something just as he snared her hand, his palm digging the small and pointed and sharp something into her palm.
“You’re mine,” he said, and bit down hard.
Lights flashed behind her eyes, followed patches of empty black. Wind rushed in her ears. Spike grunted and churned his hips against hers, then gave a strangled, guttural moan and let her go, staggering away from her.
Buffy didn’t move. She was freezing, shivering, trembling like a bird caught in a hurricane. Blood loss, she thought, surprised she was still alive and semi-coherent, even. She slid down the rough wall, adding deep scrapes to her already abraded back, eyes fluttering shut as she tipped slowly over.
She wasn’t dead, yet, but knew she would be. Very soon.
Spike was in heaven. After all his previous failures at this Slayer’s hands, he’d been resigned to rabbiting after Harmony, soon as he’d gotten a few good licks in for the sake of dignity. But lady luck, that fickle bitch, had remembered her place at his side. Finally.
The Slayer was warm, wriggling, her lifeforce hot sunlight in his mouth, burning its way through him and cleansing his humiliation and failure with every sacred mouthful. Spike wedged his thigh more completely between hers and considered whether he could spare a hand to undo his jeans. And hers. He wanted to take her completely, as he’d dreamt of for months – years, he allowed, finally honest with himself in his triumph. But she was still fighting him, magnificent creature that she was.
He soon captured her free hand, crushing it with his. So delicate and small now, instead of the deadly force it had been mere seconds ago.
“You’re mine,” he said, wanting the Slayer to understand how completely he possessed her in this moment, how thorough his victory, before she died in his arms. Neglecting his cock by necessity – couldn’t give this girl any chance to wiggle free – Spike drove his fangs deeper, avoiding her jugular in his desire to draw out this holy sacrament. He meant to savor Buffy Summers for as long as possible.
He gulped at her blood, greedily, and then power surged through him, setting nerve endings ablaze. Every synapse in Spike’s brain fired in pyrotechnic glory. His fangs retracted against his will, his mouth filled with a vile, coppery taste, and his gag reflex kicked in for the first time in over a hundred years. He stumbled away from his victory, retching blood down the front of his shirt to spatter on the damp crypt floor.
The sight sent his stomach convulsing again, and he fell to his knees, then to his face, comatose in the pool of regurgitated blood.
Giles supported Willow on one side while Oz supported her on the other, the pair of them lifting her from the scaffolding and through the hole into the crypt. Once she was steady on her feet, he wiped his brow with the back of his hand, pleased for a moment that at least it wasn’t he who’d needed help from the young folk.
It had been far too long since they’d last seen or heard from Buffy, and Giles had yet to decide if he hoped she was here, in this silent crypt, or elsewhere yet to be discovered. He’d dispatched Xander to the campus in search of her, while he and the others had come here, following the lead from the television newscast, Willow’s aborted locator spell, and Oz’s disconcerting yet convenient sense of smell.
Despite his sense of urgency, Giles found himself distracted by the wealth of treasure Spike seemed to have unearthed, both the monetary and mystical kind. Impressed, the analytical part of his mind began cataloguing the trove with Watcherly avarice even as his eyes roved the crypt, searching for Buffy.
Oz scented the air and turned his head sharply, just as Giles’ gaze landed on his prostrate Slayer. At their combined exclamations, Willow saw what they saw too, and the three of them rushed to Buffy’s side.
“Buffy,” Willow said, breathless. “Buffy, can you hear me?” She stopped just short of her friend, eyes wide and fearful, one shaky hand outstretched. “Is she – ?”
“She’s alive,” Oz said.
“But she appears to have lost a fair amount of blood,” Giles said, kneeling at her side and examining her ragged neck and waxen, bloodless visage. He let out a shaky exhale, relief at finding Buffy alive mingled with the worry that they might have arrived too late. “We need to get her to a hospital immediately.”
The children nodded and set to planning the evacuation with his input. Giles took a step backwards to examine the room for anything that might serve as a litter, and trod on something squishy beneath his heel.
A downward glance revealed a pale hand, and further exploration yielded the hand’s owner: Spike.
Giles gave a credible imitation of a growl, and the children turned to him with questioning eyes. “Spike,” he spat. He reached for a jagged length of wood, judge, jury, and executioner, prepared to mete out vengeance for his Slayer’s condition.
“Hold up,” Oz said, before he could administer justice. “Something’s not right.”
“This abomination is what’s not right.”
Oz shook his head, brow furrowed as he studied the unconscious vampire. “No, something else…”
Giles’ palms itched, but he held. “Well?”
“Vampires do that, on occasion.”
Oz looked up, brow furrowing more deeply. “And he has a heartbeat.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/588094.html