- FIC: Riders PG-13 (1/30)
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- FIC: Riders PG-13 (30/30)
Chapter 3 I Hear It Coming
Sunspots cast a glare in my eyes
Sometimes I forget I’m alive.
I feel it coming and I’ve got
to get out of the way.
I hear it coming and
I can’t disobey.
-Nine Inch Nails
Willow patted at the still smoldering map, sighed and slumped back against the chair. “Well, that could’ve gone way better.” She glanced at the older man across the room. “Sorry Giles, I don’t know what went wrong.”
She appealed to the girl in the seat next to her. “Any ideas, Tara?”
Tara frowned. “I think it was something at the other end.”
“I expected something like that. If it’s a sorcerer controlling the Cantilly, he could cloak his whereabouts.” He smiled at Willow. “However, you girls did very well just to locate the general area.”
Giles walked over, leaned between the two women and traced his finger along the scorched map. “It appears to be out in the Nevada desert.” He murmured to himself. “He must be a very powerful sorcerer to be able to teleport himself and such a large beast so far.” A sudden thought struck him. “Unless…”
He looked around for Buffy. She was sitting down next to Dawn’s still body. Spike was slumped in the chair across the room watching them both. Walking over to her, Giles reached down and placed a hand on his charge’s shoulder. “Buffy, I promise you she will be fine in a few hours.” He motioned to Spike. “Right now, I have a job for you both. I need you to go to Willy’s.”
Vampires and most demons are naturally nocturnal. At midnight, when other drinking establishments in Sunnydale were beginning to wind down, Willy’s was just hitting its stride. Every seat at the bar and every booth along the walls were occupied and the back room had a large-scale poker game in progress. Behind the scarred bar, Willy was pulling drinks as quickly as he could and his waitresses were bustling between the tables. The noise was on the level of a small scale rock concert. The smell was much worse.
Buffy and Spike briefly hesitated at the closed door. Buffy stopped and mentally prepared herself for the onslaught of noise and unique smells that marked a demon bar. She hated Willy’s, but it was a necessary stop on her circuit. She threw back her shoulders and as the Slayer, walked confidently into the bar.
Spike stopped for a different reason. He breathed deeply of the smells emanating from the bar and immediately knew who was within and what they were drinking. His enhanced hearing told him who was sitting in on the poker game in the back room, and what bets they had just placed. Spike enjoyed Willy’s and hung out there often. He threw back his shoulders, assumed the attitude of Master Vampire, and strutted through the door.
Together they made quite the pair. Everyone in the place immediately turned one or more eyes on the couple and they were both watched intently as they marched up to the bar and stopped in front of the proprietor.
To Buffy, Willy had always resembled a cross between a bright eyed twitchy ferret and a small, sleazy human male. Unluckily for Buffy, and luckily for Willy, he actually was human and that made him off limits to the Slayer. Willy, having never realized this, was immediately sycophantic in front of the Slayer and the vampire and walked quickly over to the blond couple.
He offered a nervous smile, nodded and swiped a grayed rag across the bar in front of them. “Good evening Slayer, Spike. What can I get for you? I’m running specials on a-b positive and all Pepsi products. Buy any one of them and get free nachos.”
Spike opened his mouth and Buffy elbowed him in the ribs. “We’re not here to drink, Willy. I want to know if you’ve seen any strangers, probably human, in the last two nights that were here visiting. They would have been driving a large truck.”
Willy stared at her. “This is the hellmouth. There are always strangers passing through.”
Spike rolled his eyes and stared menacingly into Willy’s face. “Willy, I believe the Slayer’s wondering about a stranger who might have been asking questions about her.”
Willy shrugged and stared pointedly at the empty glasses lined up on the bar.
“Slayer, I believe we should partake of an aperitif.”
Buffy cut her eyes toward Spike. “Huh?”
“He wants us to buy a drink.”
“Oh, fine. I’ll have a diet Pepsi, in the can, with a new straw.”
“I’ll have a shot of Jack, and her nachos.”
While Willy went to fetch the drinks, Spike spoke again. “It might be worthwhile if I check out the backroom. Somebody there might have seen or heard something.”
“Okay, but don’t get involved in the game. We’re here for info and that’s all. You don’t get to play cards on Giles’ dime, or on Giles’ kittens, or whatever.”
Spike took the shot from Willy’s hand, downed it, and grabbed the plate of nachos. “Come get me when you’re through grillin’ ol’ Willy here.”
Spike sauntered into the back room. He already knew two of the players; he’d heard them over the din. Slouching against the wall, he ate his nachos. “Evenin’ gents, who’s winnin’?”
“Spike, how’s it going?” Clem beamed at him. “I believe Ferdis is ahead at the moment. He just had a full house, won a pot with three long haired Himalayans.”
Adopting a hearty tone, Spike nodded at the puce colored demon. “Ferdis, mate, that’s uncommon luck.” He glanced at the demon’s basket. “Nice lookin’ ones, too.”
Ferdis, who disliked Spike a great deal, glared at him. “Are you here to get in the game vampire? If not, you’re disturbing the players.”
“No, actually came in to ask if anyone knows a bloke, not from around here, would’ve been hanging around last night, maybe night before last, and drives a big boxy truck.”
Nodding, Clem became excited. “Oh, yeah, I met him. He bought me a drink and some cheetos. Real nice guy and he’s got a really nice truck.”
Ferdis growled. “What’s it matter? You need to leave vampire, you’re bothering me. I can’t concentrate with you standing there.” He glanced across the table at the dealer. “I’ll take two.”
“Spike, why do you need to know about Teague? Does he owe you money?”
“Nah, nothing like that. Was just wondering if he was still around. Know someone who might want to rent his big truck. Could mean some decent dosh.”
Clem’s ears flopped lightly as he shook his head. “Oh, that’s a shame. I know he said he was driving back home this evening, and since he lives so far away, I’m sure he’s already left by now.”
Knowing that Clem would continue the conversation, Spike assumed an air of nonchalance. “Oh, that’s too bad. I didn’t realize he lived far away.”
Clem laid some cards down and looked at the dealer. “I’ll take three.” He turned back to Spike. “Well, I think that Nevada is pretty far, at least to me. I’ve never been any farther than my cousin’s place in Los Angeles.” He placed his cards on the table. “I fold.”
Ferdis won again and raked in his pot. Spike knew he was cheating. He decided not to say anything, but he peered at Ferdis out of the corner of his eye.
Ferdis, realizing that he’d been caught, growled. “Clem you need to keep your mind on the game. For the last time, either you’re in or you need to leave now, vampire.”
Spike stood up and smiled thinly at Ferdis. “I’m not lookin’ to play tonight, especially with your lucky streak. I’ve got other plans.” Waving at Clem, he headed for the door. “Later, mate.”
He met Buffy in the hall. “Well, Slayer, what did Willy say about our mystery man?”
“He drives a big white panel truck and he always parked in the shade. Willy didn’t know his whole name but said his last name was Teague. He was asking lots of questions about me two days ago.” She looked over at the vampire. “Did you find out anything at the poker game?”
“Yeah, found out he left earlier tonight to go back home to Nevada.”
Turning for the door, Buffy thought out loud. “He must have left right after the attack.”
She reached for the knob and turned it. “We need to tell Giles.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/184782.html