- FIC: Riders PG-13 (1/30)
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- FIC: Riders PG-13 (30/30)
Chapter 20 Please Can You Tell Me
I’m sinking slowly, so hurry hold me
Your hand is all I have
to keep me hanging on
Please can you tell me
so I can finally see
Where you go
when you are gone?
-All You Wanted
The sun had started its inexorable slide by the time Buffy and Spike finally dressed.
“Incredible sex can sure mess up a time table.” Buffy was a little chagrined at how late it was. She glanced at the slanting light through the little window, grimaced and began to stuff things into their backpack faster.
Spike lit a cigarette and slid his lighter into a front pocket. Languidly he leaned back against the wall, exhaling the smoke out through the open window. Watching the Slayer try to beat the Guinness world record in speed packing, he smirked, “The sex was incredible, huh?”
Buffy shook her head at the typical male response. “Yeah, and if you ever want to have more, you’ll help pack.” Exasperated, she tugged again at the backpack’s straps. “How could there be no room? It’s not like we bought souvenirs.”
Spike pushed away from the wall. “Here Slayer, maybe there’s some room in these.”
He reached down and picked up the worn saddlebags. “What’s in here?”
Buffy finally latched the backpack. Lifting it, she placed it beside the door. “I don’t really know. When we got back last night, I was so busy helping this really loopy and exhausted vampire into bed, I just dropped them in that corner.” She glanced at them.
“Oooh, maybe there’s something in there that we can use.”
Spike dropped the saddlebags on the rag rug in front of the bed, sat down cross legged beside them and tugged open one side.
“Here are some things I bet we end up usin’ all the time.” Amused, Spike pulled out several small worn books and stacked them in front of Buffy. He continued to dig, pulling out things that had been wedged underneath the books.
Buffy shrugged, sat down and opened the other saddlebag.
Ten minutes later they were taking inventory of the small pile of belongings Teague had considered important enough to carry around with him. There were extra clothes, a comb, a worn leather wallet with some old fashioned silver dollar coins and some modern paper money, several poker chips, a small ornate silver pocket watch and fob, a bill of sale for his horse with the name Jackpot written in ink along the border, a set of car keys and the six small leather bound books.
Buffy sat straighter and blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. “Well, at least we can quit calling the horse Trigger. I like Jackpot a lot better, don’t you? That’s a great name for such a sweetie and he’s a really pretty horse, too.”
Spike, rifling through the wallet, rolled his eyes and spoke to the ceiling. “Bloody hell, she’s named it. Does this mean we have to keep it?” He stuffed the money in his coat pocket. “There’s probably enough dosh here to get us a hotel room and a few meals, although I can definitely say that Teague was not a wealthy man. This watch is the only thing of any real value.”
Spike briefly glanced at the watch. He’d owned one almost like it when he was still human. He stuffed it into the same pocket as the money.
He sat back and twirled the set of car keys on his finger. “I bet these fit the ignition of a white lorry stashed somewhere in our own dimension.” He mused. “I bet one of the witches could do a spell and find it.”
He glanced over at Buffy. She was leafing through one of the books, a disdainful look across her face. “What is it Slayer? He snickered. “Are the words too big for you?”
Buffy closed the book. “I don’t know. They’re all in some old foreign language.” She smirked and tossed the book to him. “You’re old and foreign, maybe you can read it.”
Spike chuckled and caught the book neatly. He tried to read the tiny print. “This is no language I’ve ever seen.”
Buffy’s brows knit together. “Where would Teague get these and why would he even want them?”
Spike stood up, reached down and helped Buffy up. “I dunno Slayer, but he thought they were important enough to drag around with him everywhere he went.”
Buffy opened the saddlebag. “I think we better hang on to them. Maybe someone will come along who can actually read them.”
She stuffed the books back in. “Come on Spike, we need to say our goodbyes. It’s time we got moving.”
They grabbed their things and headed out to the kitchen to thank their hosts for their many kindnesses.
“Mmm, this is really good, Giles.” Willow crammed another hot biscuit in her mouth.
She glanced over at the woman beside her. Tara was busy scooping up a huge forkful of mashed potatoes and gravy.
“The saloon downstairs does seem to have very good food.” Giles bit into his last piece of fried chicken with gusto. “I’m sorry it took me so long to get back. I’m afraid I lost track of the time.”
Tara swallowed the potatoes. “We should do another l-l- location spell now.”
Giles, his mouth too full to speak, nodded.
Willow looked at her nearly empty plate and frowned. “This is just a little wiggy. We know that this dimension was rearranged, probably by the crystal of Namine, and yet it all seems so perfectly normal.”
She shrugged. “On the other hand, we’ve only been here for a few hours. Things could go oh so wrong later.”
Giles polished off his biscuit and wiped his hands. “I would guess that the people here wouldn’t realize anything is unusual, but the crystal seems to have set up a completely unchanging world. This society hasn’t advanced in any respect since 1870. I didn’t see anything from a more modern era anywhere within the town.”
Tara stacked Willow’s plate with hers. “Didn’t Hockney w-w-write that the crystal was
s-s-stolen by a Watcher?”
Giles nodded absentmindedly. “Yes, that’s correct. I believe I read that his name was Nathaniel McGee.” He suddenly sat upright. “Oh dear Lord.” Then he shook his head. “That can’t be correct; he’d be long dead by now.”
“What is it Giles?”
“The bartender downstairs in the saloon mentioned that the owner’s name was McGee.”
“You think maybe this McGee could be related to that other McGee? Maybe he’s a great, great, great grandson or something?”
“I suppose that could be possible, if this is indeed where he ended up. Right now the only trail we have to follow is Teague.”
He picked up the empty dishes. “Or it could be a complete coincidence. All of this is conjecture. Our first priority must be to find Buffy. Willow, you and Tara prepare your locater spell and I’ll return these dishes to the saloon.”
When Giles returned he found that Willow and Tara had been so impatient they had already worked the spell.
Willow sat up happily. “She’s close to us, maybe two or three miles from here.” She rubbed her eyes and suppressed a yawn. Tara reached over and rubbed her back briefly before falling back against the chair.
“Good.” Giles noticed for the first time how exhausted the young women appeared. This afternoon’s euphoria worn off, he realized that he was extremely tired, too. They had all three awakened before dawn and then trekked across the desert. It had been a long day.
“I think it would be foolhardy to attempt to walk through the desert in the dark, with no clear knowledge of what’s out there.” He stood up. “I propose an early night. We’ll meet first thing tomorrow morning and locate Buffy. Good night girls.”
Gratefully they chorused, “Good night Giles.”
Spike held the reins in one hand and his cigarette in the other. A bloke could get used to this slow pace again. When Spike had been alive, his family had owned several horses and he’d never really given any thought to them. They were merely a means of travel. Then cars had arrived and he’d completely pushed them from his mind. But now, sitting astride Jackpot– having seen the poker chips he knew Teague had probably won the animal- Spike realized that he actually enjoyed horseback riding. The moon was nearly full and he had Buffy’s warm body snuggled against his back, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist. It was incredibly tranquil, but as loath as he was to break the spell, Spike still had to have that conversation he’d postponed earlier.
He pitched his cigarette, watching the flame arc before falling to the sandy ground.
Stretching his neck and shoulders, he cleared his throat. “Slayer, there’s something important that I need to tell you about last night.”
Buffy had been nearly asleep when Spike spoke. The rocking motion of the horse coupled with leaning against Spike’s cool back had relaxed her. Feeling his back stiffen and hearing the trepidation in Spike’s voice caused her to sit up. “What’s the sitch?”
Spike, suddenly bereft of Buffy’s warm arms, cursed at having been so abrupt. Undone again by his bloody impatience, there was nothing to do now but continue.
“Remember when you came in and I was about to open that cage?”
“Yeah, when I pulled you away, you seemed confused like you were in some sort of trance.”
At least she sounded concerned and not pissed off. Spike took that as a good sign and plunged on. “Well, just before that happened, one of the demons woke up and was talkin’ to me.”
Buffy nodded even though Spike couldn’t see it. “I remember you said that.”
Spike took a deep breath. “It offered me a deal. If I would open the cage and release the three of them, it would do something for me, something it knew that I wanted.”
Curiosity colored her voice. “What did it offer you?”
Spike voice went flat. “It would remove the chip.”
Spike couldn’t tell what Buffy was thinking and he cursed himself again for starting this conversation without any way to see the Slayer’s face. He itched to see Buffy’s expression, but he curbed his impatience and waited. The ball was in her court.
Buffy sighed. This was so not how she wanted to have a conversation like this; in the dark with no way to see each other. This was the way her life always went. When things were going well, she could always guarantee something would come along and try to screw it up. Buffy could tell Spike was really upset by the rigid set of his shoulders, and he was still waiting on her response.
Buffy laid her hand on his shoulder and spoke softly. “If it happens, we’ll deal. We won’t let that come between us.”
“I’ve been having trouble keeping my demon under control since we got here.” He continued on in that same flat voice. “The prisoner must have had some way to read my thoughts and offered the bargain. Then I must have given up and let it take over totally.”
His shoulders hunched as he continued. “I can’t deny that I’ve wanted the chip out, but Buffy, that was before us. If it wasn’t for the bloody thing, we wouldn’t have had this chance. I don’t want to lose you.”
“If it happens, you won’t lose me.”
Astonishment colored his voice. “There’s no way that wouldn’t affect our relationship.”
Bitterness infused his next sentence. “Your Watcher would be first on board the ‘stake the vamp’ train, but he wouldn’t be the only one. He’ll expect me to start feeding again and attempt to kill you or some of the others. He’ll demand that you dust me. You’re the Slayer; it’ll be your job to do it.”
His voice broke. “I don’t ever want to cause you that much pain.”
Buffy stroked his shoulder and spoke softly. “Are you saying that you’d be doing things that would require staking? Because I just don’t see it, Spike, not even with these damn demons trying to run everything.”
She really needed to see his face. “Spike, could you stop? I think we need to finish this convo not on the move.”
“I think you’re right.” He pulled the reins and Jackpot promptly stopped.
Spike jumped down first and when he offered a hand to Buffy, she saw his bleak expression. She took his hand but refused to release it. With their hands still clasped, they walked over and sat on a flat boulder a few feet from the horse.
Finally seated where they could see each other, Buffy continued her line of reasoning.
“Spike, that chip wouldn’t stop you if you really wanted to do it. Hell, you could hire someone else. If you ever had any money that is.” She smiled briefly.
“Since we went through the portal, you’ve had chances to get rid of me, but instead, you walked for miles in the desert to try to save me. Are these the actions of a vampire that plans on killing the Slayer? I don’t think so and I never will, because I trust you.”
She placed each hand on the side of his face and lifted it. The anguish was so apparent in his face that her heart twisted for him. She dropped her hands and spoke quietly. “I hate the way everything always tries to play me and the people around me, especially the people I love.”
Spike considered everything that she’d just said. Buffy really did trust him, chip or no chip. Suddenly what she’d actually said really registered for the first time. “Pet, what did you just say to me?”
Buffy smiled at him. She’d already decided during their earlier conversation while still riding Jackpot that she needed to offer him something that would help anchor him, to help fight these feelings of despair and insecurity.
Buffy knew that she really did love Spike with all her heart; she just hadn’t had the courage to say it. She’d never been very good at talking about her deepest emotions, but now it had to be said. Spike needed to understand why she trusted him so completely.
“When? You mean about getting played?”
Spike shook his head and his eyes started to sparkle. “No, before that.”
Nonchalantly she crossed her ankles. “Oh, you mean the part about being in love with you?”
He smiled. “Yeah, that part.” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “Did you mean it?”
Buffy pretended to be insulted. “Oh, you think that I’d say something like that if I didn’t mean it?” She shook her head and teased him a bit. “I don’t think making you feel better would be at the top of my list of reasons to say something like that unless,” She paused dramatically, “I really meant it of course.” She giggled.
Spike pulled her in for a long, deep kiss. When she finally pulled away to breathe, he leaned his head against hers. “Oh God, Buffy, I’ve loved you for months.” She loves me!!
She leaned back and gazed at his gorgeous blue eyes. “What do you say we go find that hotel now? Suddenly I seem to really want a bed.” Wow, he’s loved me for months??
Spike murmured. “Don’t have to have a bed, could take you right here in the desert.” He pulled her close again.
Buffy’s breath hitched, but she took a deliberate step back and shook her head. “No, let’s go, it can’t be that far into town.” She tugged on his arm and laughed. “Besides, I really don’t want sand everywhere.”
Spike willingly allowed her to pull him toward their horse. He knew they had to get to town and now that all their feelings were out in the open, he could be patient and wait. Buffy was really his now and he would show her just what that meant. And when we get settled down in that hotel room….
Jackpot, waiting patiently, nosed among the desert plants for a tasty snack. When they approached he nickered a greeting.
“What a sweet horse, Spike. Did you hear that? He said hello to us.”
“Slayer, you can’t keep a horse tethered to that tree on Revello. He’s goin’ to have to stay here when we go back.”
“We could tie him to your crypt.”
“No bloody way.”
“He likes you a lot. I can tell.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/189159.html