FIC: Riders PG-13 (4/30)

This entry is part 4 of 30 in the series Riders
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Chapter 4   Distance In Your Eyes

Life is bigger

It’s bigger than you

And you are not me.

The lengths that I will go to

The distance in your eyes.

Oh no I’ve said too much

I set it up.

-REM

Losin’ my Religion

After hearing the information, Giles made a decision. “I believe that you should track this Teague to his home. It’s obvious that he kept the Cantilly in the truck when not needed. He will undoubtedly lead you to its mate and the eggs.” He looked at Spike. “Since this is in the desert, you’ll need to leave as soon as possible to arrive before sunup.”

Spike, sprawled in the easy chair, sat forward, looked at the Watcher and shook his head. “There’s a minor problem, Rupes. No way can I fit the Slayer, myself, provisions for a trip and weapons on my motorcycle. Not to mention the bike’s not exactly built for the desert.”

He sat back and watched Giles. “Gonna need a different set of wheels, something bigger that will handle sand.” Spike enjoyed bartering with the Watcher. Although chuffed at the thought of playing chauffeur for Buffy, it was true his motorcycle would never accommodate everything and he waited to see what Giles would do.

Giles called out to Xander standing in the kitchen with Anya. “Xander, we’ll need to borrow your truck.”

Xander hurried out, protesting loudly. “No way am I gonna let Captain Peroxide borrow my truck. I’ll drive Buffy myself.” He pointed a thumb at Spike. “He won’t even need to go along.”

“I’m sorry Xander, but there isn’t any other way; my car is a convertible. I also think that the 4 wheel drive may prove useful in the desert.”

“Xan, you’re human. The Cantilly demon will smell you so it’s too dangerous. Plus, you’ve got work tomorrow,” Buffy added.

Xander knew when he was beaten. He grumbled, “Well, maybe we’ll all get lucky and he’ll become one giant dust bunny in the hot desert sun.”

“Xander, really. Couldn’t you use some other analogy when you insult Spike?” Anya

glared at him from the kitchen.

Xander just couldn’t bring himself to hand the key over to Spike personally, so after removing it from his Star Trek key ring, he tossed it to Giles.

“Don’t worry Harris, promise to bring it back, and probably all in one piece.” Spike knew how much the whelp loved his truck and this was absolutely priceless, him playing chauffer for the Slayer and in Xander Harris’ pride and joy.

Walking over to Spike, Giles gave him a disapproving look, handed over the key and admonished, “Do be careful, Spike.”  He turned back to Buffy and started making plans.

“You’ll need supplies, including food for yourself and some blood for Spike.”

Buffy continued to think out loud. “I’ll need to go home and pick up clothes and weapons.”

“Very well, you and Spike get your things together and I‘ll take care of the other supplies. You should be able to leave within the hour which will afford ample time to arrive before the sun rises.”

A short time later while Xander reluctantly explained how the four wheel drive worked to Spike, everyone else pitched in to load the supplies. They filled the truck bed with clothes, camping gear, first aid kit and cooler. Weapons were stashed in the back seat. It was nearly one o’clock in the morning by the time Buffy and Spike finally got underway.  Buffy held Giles’ large atlas on her lap and Spike had his newly programmed cell phone and several packs of cigarettes stuck in the visor. Xander had ordered Spike twice not to smoke in the cab of the truck.

After leaving Sunnydale, they had picked up I-15 and they’d been driving on the interstate now for almost an hour, both of them on edge. Neither one had really spoken since their departure. Spike concentrated on his driving while Buffy stared out the passenger window.

Spike lit another cigarette. Buffy stirred, saw Spike smoking in the truck again and quietly snickered. She’d been staring out the window at the passing shapes in the darkness while her thoughts constantly cycled back to the Cantilly attack. Buffy berated herself for allowing Dawn to get hurt and kept wondering if she could have saved Dawn if only she’d been quicker, maybe killed the fledges a little faster. Her little sister had been attacked by a demon in her place and Buffy felt guilty and worried. What if Dawn never woke up? No one really understood how that whole key thing worked. Maybe her metabolism wouldn’t process the poison like a normal person. She could die.

Quietly listening to one of Harris’ better CDs, Spike blew his smoke out the window, away from the Slayer’s working set of lungs and then slid a glance in her direction.

She was still staring out the passenger window, lost in her thoughts. Spike wondered if she’d ever allow him to be privy to what went on in her head. He fervently hoped this trip would give the Slayer a chance to see him in another light, as someone who had something to offer her both professionally and personally.

Spike risked another glance. He just couldn’t help it. The wind from the open window gently blew the long strands of her blonde hair and he had the sudden urge to reach over and tuck those strands behind her ear. Controlling what would definitely be considered an irrational act; he clutched the steering wheel tighter and stomped down hard on the gas pedal.

Once he’d had that erotic dream about her, Spike couldn’t deny his feelings any longer and had finally admitted to himself that he was deeply in love with Buffy. A small flame had turned into a raging inferno and he just couldn’t get the Slayer out of his head.

Spike spent most of his time now lying in his crypt fantasizing about her. He’d even started showing up during her patrols. Occasionally she would allow him to tag along and help her, but that wasn’t nearly enough; Spike craved a real relationship.

Now, he couldn’t believe his luck. He’d been given the chance to spend time alone with her, without those annoying Scoobies or her Watcher. Being paid for the chance was icing on the cake; Spike would have agreed in a New York minute to do it for free.

Buffy finally stirred and interrupted his reverie. “I wonder how someone out in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada would even find out about the Slayer, much less want to kill me.”

“You’re jokin’ right? Your question really should be- why does someone who lives in Nevada make a special trip to Sunnyhell to kill the Slayer? What’s in it for him?”

Buffy looked askew at him. “You did.”

“No, I came to the Hellmouth to cure Dru, after she was hurt in Prague.” You ponce, you had to open your big mouth. Now she’s either thinkin’ about the Slayers you did or Drusilla.

To Spike’s great relief, Buffy didn’t pursue either. In fact, she surprised him with her reply. “You may be right. I hadn’t really thought about it that way.”

She took a deep breath. “Spike, I didn’t get the chance to thank you for killing the Cantilly.” She looked down at her hands and then over at him. “I was really happy to see you.” There, that wasn’t so hard.

Spike, rendered nearly speechless, answered gruffly, “No reason to thank me, Slayer. You know I’ve always got your back.”

Sliding around in the seat to face him, she suddenly grinned. “And covering my back should always include throwing huge bottles of liquor at demons.”

They laughed at the same time and the uneasy silence between them finally broke, replaced with a comfortable feeling of camaraderie that relieved them both.

A few minutes later, using a small flashlight, Buffy read Giles’ handwritten instructions and then compared them to the map. “Spike, you need to turn off at the next exit and go northeast on this smaller road.”

They had driven a few miles on the quiet two lane road when they heard a loud popping noise and the truck swerved sharply to the right. Spike fought to maintain control of the fishtailing truck, finally bringing it to a stop along the sandy shoulder.

Buffy peered at Spike from the floorboard where she was picking up objects that had fallen from the dashboard. “What happened?”

Spike was already opening the driver’s door. “We got a flat tire, dunno what caused it, probably picked up a nail.”

“Can I help?”

“No, it’s bloody dark out here, besides I’ve been changin’ tires since cars were invented. If you want, you can get out and stretch your legs; this should only take a few minutes.”

 

“Okay, I’ll get a soda from the cooler.”

Buffy leaned against the side of the truck drinking her diet Pepsi, idly playing with the beam of the flashlight, allowing it to wander aimlessly along the roadside. The sliver of crescent moon peeking over the tree line didn’t afford much light, but coupled with the flashlight, allowed her to make out the shapes of various cacti, sandy soil and other spiny plants that made up this portion of the desert southwest. Quickly bored, she squinted over at Spike’s activity.

The vampire had no such trouble using the ambient light; he’d left his flashlight in the truck’s cab and was using both hands to roll the spare tire.

It’s a good thing Spike’s a vampire, he can easily see well enough in this darkness to fix the tire. Buffy shook her head in amusement.  Did I just say it’s a good thing Spike’s a vampire?

 

Spike, busy twisting the lug nuts without using the jack, noticed Buffy apparently having some sort of conversation with herself. He saw a brief smile cross her face and wished once again that he could ask her what she was thinking about without getting the slayer’s cold shoulder.

 

The opening strains of Good Day Sunshine harmonized by the Beatles floated out through the cab’s open window.

“I didn’t realize we’d left the radio on.”

“That’s not the radio pet, that’s Red’s little idea of a joke. It’s my cell phone. I asked her to change my ring tone to something a little less generic.” He dropped the jack and reached in the cab. “’Lo?” He listened briefly. “That’s great, Clem. Ta, mate.”

“That was Clem calling you? He sure got your number fast.” Buffy smirked. “Did you post it in some demon phone book or just on the bathroom wall in Willy’s?”

“No, Slayer, for your information, I called him before we left and gave it to him. You see, I asked him to try to get some more info.”

“What type of info?”

“Teague’s actual address in Nevada.”

Spike started the truck’s engine while Buffy searched the atlas for the town of Sunset, Nevada where Teague supposedly had a home. “Spike, this fits with the general location Giles gave us for the Cantilly. It seems to be the same area. Wow, this town looks really, really small.”

A road sign flashed by and she consulted the map in her lap again. “Okay, we’re only about a half hour from there.” She smiled at him. “That was smart, getting Clem to find Teague for us.”

A rare genuine smile graced Spike’s lips. “Yeah, good piece a luck, that. Nevada’s a bloody large state.”

“You’ve been really helpful Spike and I want you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed.” Buffy hesitated briefly and then continued. “It’s been really nice having someone to watch my back that I can actually trust not to get hurt. Especially now while I’m so worried about Dawn and this weird stasis thing.”

Buffy realized that she felt very comfortable talking to Spike about her sister. She knew that the vampire cared about Dawn; he and her sister had a close relationship. He was probably really worried about her, too.

Watching the road, he spoke quietly and confirmed her thoughts. “Yeah, I’m worried about the Niblet, too. But Slayer, you can’t let it distract you.” He tried for a smile. “‘Sides, Rupert’s moldy book said that she’ll wake up just fine and it won’t let him down. He just wouldn’t permit it.”

Buffy exhaled loudly. “Yeah, you’re right; I do need to stay focused.” She smiled briefly at his joke. “But if I do lose it, I know you’ll watch my back, ‘cause right now? We’re so being Batman and his trusty sidekick Robin.”

“That’s a fine analogy Slayer, but no way am I wearing soddin’ tights.”

Buffy giggled, while a sudden mental picture of Spike as Hamlet crossed her mind. I bet he’d look yummy. He does have a great butt. Amused at her own thoughts again, Buffy turned back to the window and relaxed.

His mood buoyant from their easy conversation, Spike returned his concentration to the road but the glimmer of possibility stood before him.

The couple drove passed and had to backtrack, but finally found the small worn sign that announced the town’s location.  There wasn’t any actual town, just a few decrepit buildings that still stood and a lot of rubble. Sunset Nevada was a ghost town.

Driving slowly down the weed covered gravel road while trying to avoid the largest of the potholes, they located Teague’s address written on the side of an abandoned market. Wiping away enough grime to see inside the front window of the ramshackle building, the couple agreed that obviously Teague had given everyone in Sunnydale a fake address.

They decided to use the building for the rest of the night themselves, it would provide cover for the truck and they could sleep inside undisturbed. Carefully they drove around back and parked the truck. Walking back through the tall weeds, they tried the market’s worn door. It swung open easily on rotted hinges and the couple got their first view of the interior.

There were signs that other people had entered the ancient building previously, but no one had left anything recognizable. A couple of broken wooden cabinets nailed to the wall and a splintered counter that ran down the length of the large center room gave the only testament that this had actually been a store. Broken bottles, empty tin cans and refuse was piled haphazardly in the corners, but the thick undisturbed dust coating the majority of the market’s floor led them to the conclusion that no one had visited here for a very long time. It would definitely be safe to stay here.

The couple pulled the two sleeping bags and a few supplies out of the truck and dropped them in the center of the room. Buffy used Spike’s cell phone, called Giles and through the static, updated him. He reported that there was no change in the situation. Dawn was still immobile. Upset all over again about Dawn, Buffy crawled into her sleeping bag, turned toward the wall and closed her eyes.

Spike realized that she was upset and needed some privacy, so he walked outside, lit a cigarette and checked the truck one last time. Buffy was already asleep when he returned, deeply burrowed inside her sleeping bag. After a canvas of the two other rooms adjacent to theirs, Spike settled in his sleeping bag, facing the door. While trying to catch some brief sleep, he would stay vigilant and watch the Slayer’s back.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/184863.html

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