Her head hurt. Buffy didn’t want to open her eyes. She wanted to burrow down into her pillow and pull her blankets over her head, but what was under her head was neither soft nor puffy, and her questing fingers found only a cold, hard surface. Please, let this be a really uncomfortable dream. She could wake up and feel silly for having believed it for even a second. She willed herself to full consciousness, and tried to summon up her comfy bed.
“Where in bloody hell are we?”
Okay, now he had no business being in her comfy bed. “Go away Spike.”
“Now there’s a thought. Wake up and look around, sleepyhead.”
She opened her eyes just a sliver. There were no overly bright lights, so she sat up and took inventory of her surroundings. Pale marble walls and floors. Curlicues. Pillars – twelve in all. “Where are we and what did you do?” she asked.
“That’s right, blame old Spike.”
“You’re usually in the middle of it when things go prune shaped.”
“Pear shaped, love. Not this time.”
She looked his way and had to admit that he really did look as confused as she felt. “Do you remember anything?”
“After scuffling with you amongst the tombstones?” He shook his head. “Nothing.”
“So help me, if this is one of your stupid plans, I will kill you.”
“That threat is getting old, Buffy.”
“I should have done it after your little de-chipping deal with Adam.”
“You call four months ancient?” He wasn’t even listening to her, not that she really expected him to. She decided to drop the bickering in favor of more pressing problems. “Is this some kind of a spell? Do you think that Willow…?”
He shook that idea off before she could finish the thought. “Red doesn’t have the mojo for something like this. Teleportation? Not bloody likely.”
Buffy rose to get a better view. Not that it helped much. Still a lot of marble, but no windows or doors that she could find. She couldn’t even tell where the illumination was coming from. There were no light fixtures anywhere. Curiouser and curiouser. Spike wasn’t going to be any help either, not that she expected he would. But he could at least try not to sit there looking so bored with the whole thing. He currently seemed to be engrossed in his manicure.
“Spike, you wanna help out here, or did you chip a nail?”
He answered her with a glower and returned his attention to his hand, uncurling his fingers and touching something in his palm. And then he disappeared.
He’d woken to a cold, hard floor and a pounding headache. Hardly anything new for him. But this time the Slayer was here. He could smell her before he opened his eyes. Still sleeping. Mark that one up for old Spike; wakes up faster than a teleported Chosen One. Yeah, who’s bad now?
Checking out his surroundings, he decided they’d landed in either the hugest mausoleum he’d ever seen, or that they really weren’t in bloody Kansas anymore. He heard Buffy groan. Was about time she decided to join in the fun.
“Where in bloody hell are we?” There, that should draw her attention out of whatever cozy, puppy dog dream she’d been having. Of course, she snapped right back at him. The fell right into their established pattern of sarcasm and insults, and then he noticed there was something in his hand.
His fist had been clenched when he woke, and seemed to have a mind of it’s own about following directions. He concentrated hard and willed his fingers open, finally finding a small, gold dolphin there. It was intricate for its size, and he touched it to check how solid it was. Quite solid. And somehow warm; warmer than his hand. He turned it over but couldn’t find anything else on it, nor any clue how it came to be in his fist. He looked for Buffy, wondering if she knew what it was, but instead found himself sitting in the vast room alone.
He jumped to his feet. “Slayer!”
Nothing. Just the echo of his voice.
“Buffy, are you there?”
Bollocks, this was bad.
You now face your first challenge.
The voice seemed to be all around her, feminine and calm. Authoritative. Okay, that was not of the good. Buffy didn’t take authoritative well.
“What challenge?” she asked.
Naturally, there was no answer, but there were movements behind the pillars, and one by one, a dozen vampires emerged and began to close in.
“So, it’s a challenge, is it?” He should have known. There was always a challenge, and the fact that a lovely bird seemed to be issuing it just added to the deliciousness of it. He dropped the trinket into his pocket and put on his best swagger.
“What’s it to be, fire? Demons?”
He heard a footfall behind him and spun around, game face on and hands clenched. It was a girl. Young, maybe thirteen, fourteen. She lowered her gaze shyly as he looked her over. Embarrassed, she was. Hmm. Delicious. The memories weren’t that far gone of the times he’d use a girl’s shaky self image against her. A bit of flirt and flatter and they were in his pocket.
“Hello, love. What brings you here?”
She looked up quickly, then down again. Her little hands clenched inside her jeans pockets. Shy, sweet.
He looked pointedly around the room, and then zeroed back in on her, employing a slight smile. “You, uh, wouldn’t know where we are or how we got here, would you?”
She backed up a little ways, her skittishness showing. He’d have to dial it back. No flirting. Sincerity would do the trick.
“Look, I was here with a friend…”
The girl started, her big brown eyes widening.
“A girl friend,” he amended. He held his hand out to his side, chin height. “About this tall. Skinny bird, but with an attitude.” He firmed up his chin at that, hoping to elicit a smile.
She didn’t smile, but she did finally raise her head and let him have a good look at her. She was cute, potentially a dazzler when she grew up and into her bones. She finally spoke, softly. He had trouble making out what she was whispering.
“What’s that?” He leaned forward to catch the words this time.
“Are you a vampire?” she asked simply, innocently.
He straightened. How about that? She’d been paying attention after all. “Yes, pet, I am.”
Her smile, when she finally let it show, was huge. Joy lit her face with a special glow, as though she’d found what she’d always dreamed of. She breathed the word “good” at him, and moved closer. In a split-second, her hand was out of her pocket, fisted around a sharp, tapered length of wood.
Spike jumped back, but he wasn’t quick enough. The stake scraped against his chest, tearing his shirt and drawing a deep gash in his skin. He lurched to the side and looked for an escape route, but there was no place to go in the big, cold room. The heat in her eyes was the only living thing around, and it was focused on his demise.
“Look, pet. I won’t hurt you. Promise.” His hands were up and he kept moving back, trying to stay at a safe distance. She stalked forward.
“I couldn’t if I tried. Really. There’s this chip…” Okay, she wasn’t going to listen about the bleeding chip. “The girl I was with, the one I told you about? She’s like you. A Slayer.”
That stopped her, finally.
“Yeah,” he continued. “A genius demon killer, that one is. And she hasn’t killed me. I’m around her and her little friends all the time. She’s got a right group of cronies. They haven’t killed me either. I’m helpful, you see.”
“Vampire,” she said.
“I kill vampires.”
Bright girl. Had her job description down. “But you don’t have to,” he reasoned. There, that would show her. It was all about choices. She could grasp that, couldn’t she? She seemed to be thinking it over, those deep eyes of hers serious as she weighed his words.
“Do vampires have a choice?” she asked finally.
“Me?” She was tricky, this one. “Look, I don’t really have one now. This chip I told you about. It doesn’t let me… I mean I can’t really hurt anyone. Anyone good, like you. The bad guys, I can hurt. And I do.” He fixed her with his most soulful, gaze – which was a real trick, considering.
“You didn’t always have a chip,” she said.
Tread cautiously, Spike. “No. But I wasn’t as bad as some. There was this one I used to hang with, and he would…”
She raised her stake, cutting off his words. “And when you had no chip,” she asked, “Did you ever kill a Slayer?”
Oh god, he was dead.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/146324.html