Author: Abelina (Abby)
Title: Calm the Waters
Summary: It must be spring, because there’s an apocalypse brewing. Spike and Buffy go on a mission to find the final artifact needed for the ritual to end the world, so they can destroy it before it’s too late, only things go a little bit awry.
Setting: Season Five, sometime after Intervention but before Tough Love, in a bit of an alternate reality.
Rating: Will be NC-17 (eventually).
Notes: This is the second chapter of the fic I started for the last round of Seasonal Spuffy. Chapter One is here, and was posted so long ago it’s probably best to read it again even if you remember seeing it the first time around. I didn’t think I’d even have anything for this round, so I’m pleased to be posting this with about 50 minutes left on my posting day. Unbeta’d, so if you spy an error, please let me know so that I might fix it.
Calm the Waters
In the Dark
“Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway?” Buffy said, frowning at the foul water clinging to her formerly stylish boots.
Spike’s snort echoed through the narrow tunnel. “You really want me to answer that?”
“No, I want you to find us a sewer that isn’t so sewagey.”
It sounded ridiculous to her ears, too, and when Spike’s next noise was more of a chuckle, she couldn’t stop the reluctant smile tugging at her lips.
“This is the worst of it,” said Spike. “We’re right beneath the town’s center here. Not much longer and you’ll have nothing more to whine about.”
“Hey! I am not—”
She spun around, stopping mid-sentence when she caught sight of Spike’s face illuminated by the moonlight leaking in through the grate overhead — all arched eyebrows and annoying little smirk that made it abundantly clear she was, in fact, whining. Well, Spike would be whining, too, if he had to worry about looking good on an ever-tightening budget.
The eyebrows rose a little higher but he kept his smirking mouth shut as he turned back around.
Buffy let him take the lead, scowling at him behind his back, though she didn’t really feel it. Spike wasn’t the bad guy anymore, no matter what her ruined boots had to say about it.
“What do you know about this Cross thing?” Spike asked, trudging ahead into yet another leftward fork.
“Not much more than you do. A pre-Christian, cross-shaped magical talisman thingy needed to end the world. Pretty much the usual, right?”
Spike made a little snorting sound that echoed loudly around her head. “Not a lot to go on, that. Guess we’ll figure out how to get rid of it once we’ve got our hands on it. Actually, your hands on it.”
“Does that still work if it’s not a Christian cross?” Buffy asked. “I mean, without the holy, does the unholy still burn?”
“Dunno,” Spike said, looking back at her over his shoulder. “And I’m not in a hurry to find out, either.”
That wasn’t so unreasonable. After all, he’d taken his share for the team already and even she’d be crazy to consider asking him to add burning hands to his recent list of self-sacrifices. It meant something, Spike going to bat for her—for Dawn—like that.
Spike stopped just past another moonlit grate, where the sewer tunnel split into four separate channels. Buffy stood beside him, just out of reach of the light in case anyone was looking, while he closed his eyes and lifted his face into the air.
His nostrils flared as he either smelled something or was searching for a specific scent. Buffy didn’t get the chance to ask before his eyes popped open again and he pointed to the path second from left, which was, thankfully, mostly dry.
“This way, love,” he said, already starting forward.
She had to swallow the urge to comment on the nickname, suspecting that this one, especially, was more of an unconscious nod to his Englishness. Still, the way the word rumbled from his lips in that sensual baritone was too intimate to be a complete accident, at least when he directed it at Buffy. Calling him on it meant mentally going places she’d long ago deemed off limits, so she said nothing.
They walked for a long time before they came to another grate, this one half grown over with dirt and roots. Hardly any moonlight shone in now, and up ahead the first in a line of widely-spaced, small yellow lamps glowed dimly from the ceiling.
“Since when do sewers come with light fixtures?”
Spike swept his hand through the air above their heads. “When they’re also service tunnels,” Spike said. “These days, town’s back that way. Seventy years ago we’d be under the town hall.”
“Wilkins,” Buffy muttered. A shiver rolled over her shoulders. She could imagine the advantage, for an individual like Sunnydale’s former mayor, to having sewer access directly beneath his workplace.
“Odd they’re still on the grid,” Spike said.
Buffy glanced up at the bulb and the bare wires feeding it. “They aren’t usually working?”
Spike shrugged. “Never been down these tunnels. No point, they don’t go anywhere.”
“Except for the hidden tunnel with a cross in it,” Buffy said. “Hopefully.”
The next light hummed as they passed beneath it, buzzing with a low intensity that crawled over Buffy’s skin like the skittering feet of a thousand insects.
Ahead of her, Spike shook off a shudder, turning to glare up at the sallow bulb without slowing down. “Could be the old wiring.”
When the buzzing died away, so did the creepy-crawlies, but both returned in full force when they passed beneath the next light a few minutes later.
“Bloody hell,” Spike said, nearly growling the words while glaring up at the buzzing lamp, as though it might cease and desist under a healthy dose of vampire death stare.
It didn’t stop, and the further they went the harder it became to shake the feeling even away from the source. With every step she took, the crawling burrowed deeper and deeper into Buffy’s flesh, digging in like wriggling worms, gnawing down, down, down until the vibrations tore through to her bones. She clenched her fists, fingernails breaking skin as she fought not to scratch herself raw.
Spike plowed on ahead, every muscle in his body clenched as tightly as hers.
Buffy pushed her aching, shaky legs to keep up. “Something—something’s wrong.”
Spike’s hand wrapped around her wrist, its grip tight despite the tremor surging through his fingers. “Keep. Moving,” he said, shouting, running, shaking so hard Buffy thought he might crumble to dust any minute.
The roar in her ears was deafening. She lost touch with her feet, presumably down there somewhere but she couldn’t feel them, could only scream at them to keep up, keep running. Buffy stumbled, tumbled. Her arm jerked and twisted until Spike’s fingers let go and she landed hard, the world spinning away in a blur of dancing spots and nauseating yellow.
A horrible, rasping noise and pain like a knife through her chest, then a burst of hot, foul air. Buffy gagged, choked it down, and reached blindly for something. Anything.
Spike shouted her name. Buffy dragged in another strangled breath and struggled to her knees. A swirling, Spike-shaped mass fell down in front of her. She reached out, but couldn’t find him, couldn’t see him, couldn’t move for the earthquake hammering in her bones.
Blackness — immediate, complete blackness filled the tunnel and wrapped around her like a dizzying, soothing blanket. Buffy fell, her bones turned to jelly, certain she would be remembered as the only slayer in history brought down by demonic track lighting. Her back hit the bricks and she coughed, lungs burning—and still breathing.
“Oh,” she said, her voice loud and echoing in the now-silent and blissfully unlit sewer. “Spike?”
“Here,” he answered from somewhere just in front of her. “What the hell was that?”
“You mean other than sheer torture?” Buffy rolled onto her side, tucking her sore left arm to her chest, pushing with her right hand to sit up. “Can you see anything?”
“No.” His breath flitted over her face, followed a second later by two or three probing fingertips. “Ah, there you are. Don’t suppose you brought a light?”
“In my bag,” Buffy said. Before she could slide it off her shoulders, Spike was already tugging at the draw string.
“Got it,” Spike said. The button clicked, then clicked again, but nothing happened. “Don’t got it.”
“I think maybe I landed on it.” Buffy blinked, but the darkness was complete. “Now what?”
A shiver rushed down her neck, accompanied by the swift, grating sound of shifting bones that was as familiar as it was foreboding. “Keep moving, I think. You hurt?”
Buffy flexed the fingers of her left hand, gritting her teeth against the jolt of pain zinging down from her shoulder. “I’m fine.”
The little ticking sound Spike made with his tongue suggested he wanted to call her on her bluff, but no, the shiny new heroic Spike kept quiet. His fingers wrapped around her wrist — the one that didn’t hurt — and together they stood.
Standing was dizzying when she couldn’t even see the vampire who was far too close to her, but Spike’s grip on her wrist kept the floor solidly beneath her feet. A soft swishing of fingers against brick, followed by a gentle tug, and Buffy took a blind step forward.
“I thought you couldn’t see.”
“Not a bloody thing,” Spike said, loosening his grip on her wrist. He slid his palm down until it found hers. “Best hang on.”
An opportunistic creature of the night he might be, but Buffy had to conclude, as Spike’s fingers slipped between hers, she would much rather hold hands with a vampire than stumble around blindly in the dark by herself. If she were feeling the slightest bit generous — and getting her out of this in one piece just might do it — Buffy could even go as far as to say if she had her choice of vampires to go unlighted spelunking with, she was team Spike all the way.
His fingers tightened ever so slightly. Buffy was glad for the darkness in that instant because it meant she didn’t have to see his face, and he couldn’t see hers. This was practical, obviously. It was hard enough walking when she couldn’t see anything, let alone doing it without Spike’s anchoring grip. Practical didn’t offer up any wisdom about the tingly little frisson that whispered through his fingers into hers.
They walked on in slow but steady, one-foot-after-the-other silence. An uneasy feeling pulsed beneath her ribs, ignored initially as a side effect of the lights from hell. It didn’t go away, niggling there just under the surface like an itch she couldn’t reach.
“Please tell me I’m the only one who feels like we’re being followed,” Buffy whispered in Spike’s general direction.
Beside her, Spike groaned and swore quietly. “Hoped I was imagining it.”
“Crap.” Buffy fought the urge to look over her shoulder. Her eyes didn’t work any better looking behind her than they did in front. “We need to get somewhere we can see.”
Spike rumbled a growl. “Right, ‘cause I hadn’t already thought of that.”
Buffy opened her mouth to retort, then snapped it shut again. They didn’t need to distract themselves by bickering, though it wasn’t at all pleasant to let Spike have the last snarky word.
They quickened their pace, moving faster than was probably safe given that they couldn’t see a thing, but not near as quickly as they probably needed to go. Whatever it was following them wasn’t close, but its presence was a steady prickle at the back of her neck.
“Come on.” Spike tugged on her arm, speeding up even more. “I think it’s getting lighter.”
“Yay vamp vision,” Buffy said, stumbling on an uneven patch of tunnel floor. Spike’s grip on her hand kept her upright, but couldn’t stop the jolt of pain through her sore shoulder.
“You are hurt,” Spike said, when she couldn’t keep from groaning.
She gritted her teeth and squeezed his hand as tightly as she could. “It doesn’t matter, Spike. Just get us the hell out of here.”
They sped up to a jog. It wasn’t long before Buffy noticed the very gradual lightening of the tunnel around them. She could pick out darker shadows in the overall blackness. Spike wasn’t using the wall as a guide anymore, and if there ever was a time to be thankful for demonic night vision, this was it.
When they reached a bifurcation, Buffy could easily see the openings to the two passageways. Spike didn’t stop, just tore off down the rightward fork toward the ever so welcomed and delightfully literal light at the end of the tunnel.
“Oh, thank God,” Buffy said, running now and not even caring about the jostling in her arm or why the light was there in the first place.
Even a lighted trap was preferable to a fight in the dark.
“You can say—”
Before Spike could finish, the prickle at the back of Buffy’s neck flared up, spreading down her spine and over her scalp in an uncontrollable shudder. Up ahead, several figures moved into the flickering circle of light. Behind them, the thumping of heavy feet on stone suggested that their followers finally caught up.
Spike skidded to a halt. Buffy stopped a second too late, crashing into him and cursing the spasm tearing through her left arm. She sucked in a breath and hefted her sword. Spike already had his in hand.
“So much for doing things the easy way,” Spike said.
Buffy snorted, the sound ringing loud around them. “Since when has anything we’ve done ever been easy?”
“Point.” Spike tilted his head toward the backlit figures. “Charge?”
Buffy grinned and swept her sword arm out ahead. “Vampires first.”
To be continued (someday).
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/460932.html