Chapter Eight – sorry for the spammage. I never intended to write such a long fic this time!
Spike stood on Buffy’s left, both of them tense and ready as he used his enhanced hearing to listen to the boots tramping around overhead.
“Sounds like a goodly number of them,” he said.
“I’m suddenly wishing you didn’t have that chip,” Buffy muttered almost to herself.
She felt rather than saw him startle and turn to stare at her. His yellow eyes were the only things visible to her human eyes.
“If I thought you meant that….”
She sighed. “Well, I kinda do mean it right this minute, but I guess… I mean that’d be assuming that without it you’d still be standing here ready to help me protect my friends, and that’s probably….”
“And you don’t think that’d be the case.” His voice was flat, and she suddenly wished she could see his face.
“Well… I mean, c’mon, Spike. We’re standing together here in the dark, you’re the only one who can see, I’m not on my guard – not against you, anyway. Are you trying to tell me that if you were chipless you wouldn’t be trying to bag your third slayer?”
She felt his golden eyes on her, then his lids closed over them and he turned away.
“Right. Watcher’s an idiot.” He offered no explanation, only touching her arm and hissing. Moving forward silently, he kept his hand touching her arm as he led the way closer to latest noise he’d heard. They stopped at a slight bend in the tunnel and peered around the dirt wall. Even Buffy’s ears could hear the sound of the plywood being pulled away from the entrance and her arm tensed under his hand.
“Easy, luv,” he whispered into her ear, his cool breath stirring her hair and making her shiver. She nodded and unconsciously leaned into his side for a second. They waited, Buffy holding her breath as often as she could, while flashlight beams ran all around the interior. Hoping they hadn’t left anything visible that might indicate anyone had been there, she held her breath and waited.
“Okay, I need three men to drop down there and take a look around. That stone coffin didn’t put itself in front of the door.”
Spike and Buffy pulled back and flattened themselves against the wall as a rope was dropped, allowing three black-clad men to lower themselves to the floor. They could see the reflected light as the men ran their powerful flashlights all around the room and down the tunnel.
“Whoa! I can’t even tell how far in this goes,” one of the commandoes said, shining his light into the darkness until it grew too weak to illuminate anything. “How about we check for heat signatures?”
Spike spun in front of Buffy, pulling his long coat over his head and sheltering her with his room-temperature body. She kept her arms at her sides, and tried to keep her legs directly behind Spike’s, pressing her face against his chest. The leather over their heads added to the darkness as Buffy held her breath.
After several minutes, they heard the men grumbling. “There’s nothing down here. Just rats and mud.” Buffy stiffened at the mention of rats and felt Spike’s chest shake in a silent laugh. She pinched him on the leg in retaliation, which only increased his laughter. The men could be heard pulling themselves back up the ropes, but Spike kept his body pressed against Buffy. Only when she realized that he was no longer laughing, but nuzzling and smelling her hair, did Buffy think about how closely pressed together they were.
Now that she didn’t have to hide her body heat behind him, she moved her arms, finding she had no place to put them except around Spike’s back. He dropped his own arms from above her head to her shoulders. Something about the complete absence of light made the whole situation seem unreal, and Buffy found herself responding to Spike’s nearness in a way she hadn’t wanted or expected to. Memories of time spent together while thinking they were getting married fought with the reality of their current relationship.
When Spike said her name, she raised her face, not really shocked to find his lips seeking hers, but surprised by how eagerly she met them. The initially tentative kiss quickly turned into something deeper and more desperate as they both understood they were having a moment that was going to vanish any second.
Vanish it did, when the three soldiers came back down the rope, carrying backpacks, more weapons and brighter lights. They never noticed the slight bump in the wall that was the couple clinging tightly to each other, tensed to go into action if and when necessary. As soon as the grumbling soldiers had moved on, leaving the area behind them in darkness and lighting up the space in front, Slayer and vampire moved silently into position behind them.
They followed the men as they talked among themselves about how stupid it was to send them exploring the tunnels without more back-up. And, at the same time, how unlikely it was that humans would be trying to hide in them.
“I can’t really image anybody normal trying hide down here, can you?” The leader asked. “Anything we find is just going to be a sub terrestrial of some sort.”
No sooner had he spoken, then his light caught the flash of Anya’s wristwatch and the men spread out. “Halt! Identify yourselves!” The response was one of Willow’s small fireballs, and when the men looked up with rapidly blinking eyes, there was no longer anyone visible. However, the sound of running footsteps was impossible to hide, and they broke into a business-like trot as they pursued Giles and the Scoobies. Buffy and Spike moved into their own easy jog as they stayed close enough to keep the men in sight, but far enough back not to be seen or heard.
When the commando squad increased their speed and began ordering “Halt or we’ll shoot”, Buffy and Spike sped up and had disarmed the trailing man before he realized he wasn’t alone. The other two were so intent on their prey that they didn’t even notice their comrade’s disappearance until one turned around to ask him a question. Instead of the other commando they expected to see, they saw only Buffy and Spike.
“There they are!” the leader said unnecessarily as, when he turned, his light turned with him and illuminated the two black-clad predators. While their attention was on Spike and Buffy, Giles and the Scoobies crept closer, stopping only when one of the men caught movement from the corner of his eye and trained his light and gun on them.
“Stop right there,” he ordered.
With one man facing a vampire and the girl they’d been told could be even more dangerous, and the other one facing four humans who worked with her, it was easy to see the growing worry on their faces.
“Do we have to bring them in alive?” The young soldier holding his gun on the four humans facing him looked extremely nervous. Not sure which of them had been responsible for the unexplained fireball, he kept moving the gun back and forth from Giles to Xander, trying to see what they’d used as a weapon.
Meanwhile, his partner kept his gun focused on Buffy, assuming Spike was harmless. When Spike stepped in front of Buffy, effectively blocking her body from sight, the man narrowed his eyes and tightened his finger on the trigger.
“What are you doing, Hostile? I know you can’t hurt me, and you’re not bulletproof.”
“Not bulletproof, but they can’t kill a dead man, you stupid git.” Spike began to move slowly toward the frowning man. He could feel Buffy following in his footsteps as they narrowed the gap between themselves and the commandoes.
“Stop!” The man’s voice was more pleading than authoritative and Spike went into game face, grinning as he continued moving forward.
“Getting nervous, are you, soldierboy?”
He felt Buffy poke him in the back. “Don’t irritate the man with the gun, Spike,” she whispered. “Not until he doesn’t have it anymore, anyway.”
“Spoil-sport,” he said, dropping back into his human mien. “Say when, Slayer.”
“When,” Buffy breathed, tensing. At her word, Spike threw himself on the gun, knocking it and the holder to the ground. Buffy had time to spare one shocked glance at them on her way to tackle the remaining commando who was just turning around to see what was happening at his back. He fell to the ground, attempting to bring the gun around far enough to point it at Buffy, but she was already moving to kick it out of his hand.
“Taser, Buff!” Xander shouted as the man reached for his belt. She grabbed his hand and easily pulled it away from his taser, smiling when his eyes widened at her ability to pin his arm to the floor with no effort. Xander ran forward, taking both weapons and handing the taser to Giles. When the older man grumbled, Xander grinned. “You didn’t really think I was going to give you this awesomely manly weapon, did you?” He stood back and pointed it at the disgruntled soldier on the ground.
Buffy released the man’s arm and casually backhanded him when he tried to hit her. She flipped him over, pulling the handcuffs she knew she’d find off his belt and using them to fasten his hands behind his back. Leaving him on his stomach, she stood up and turned to see how Spike was faring.
She half expected to find him nursing a headache after the tackle that had taken down both the weapon and the weapon’s handler, but he seemed to be fine, holding the man’s gun and taser. He had one foot planted on the man’s throat and the gun pointed at the first soldier he and Buffy had disarmed and left dazed and handcuffed. He gestured with the gun for that man to join his squad members on the ground near Buffy, grinning at the awkwardness with which he got up and down with his hands behind his back. When he took his foot off the leader’s neck, Spike leaned down and flipped him over, letting Buffy do the handcuffing honors.
She heard the “ooof!” as Spike’s non-too-gentle flip knocked the wind from his captive and she blinked in surprise when there were no repercussions from his chip.
“Guess I didn’t actually hurt him,” Spike said with a shrug. He turned away from the frown he could see on Giles’s face.
“I guess not,” Buffy said, her voice uncertain. “Good thing, huh?”
Spike looked at her confused face and sighed. “If it‘ll make you feel better, luv, I’ll hold my head for a bit and moan.”
“No, don’t be silly. If it didn’t hurt, it didn’t hurt. I’m not sorry you aren’t hurt, it just…” She shook herself. “Doesn’t matter I guess.” She turned back to Giles. “What are we going to do with them? If we let them go, they’re going to come back with reinforcements. We’re going to have to find someplace else to hide.”
Giles fixed the three men with the Ripper’s hard stare and they began to realize that the “normal” humans who worked with the slayer might be almost as dangerous as the vampire.
“We could just leave them here. I suspect the normal denizens of these tunnels would take care of them for us soon enough.”
“Giles! The whole point of this is that they’re wrong about us. Do you want to make us as evil as they are?” Willow’s shock was genuine and she seemed appalled when no one else seemed as concerned as she was about the soldiers’ long-term survival.
“You’re right, Willow,” Buffy finally said with a sigh. “Let’s just drag them back where we were and hope nobody comes looking for them.”
“Or,” Spike said, putting a hand on her arm. “We could take them so far in that by the time they find their way out, or their mates find them, the Council of Wankers has done whatever it is they’re going to do and we can all go home.” He carefully didn’t mention that their hiding place actually was his home.
Willow glared at him. “Didn’t we just decide we weren’t evil and we don’t kill people?”
“Not planning to kill anybody, Red. Just put them somewhere they won’t find their way out of easily. Might even leave them a weapon if I’m in the right kind of mood.” His toothy grin emphasized how unlikely that was.
The men lay on the ground staring back and forth between the hostile, the girl they’d been told to bring in, and the seemingly normal people involved with her. The entire group withdrew out of hearing distance and left Spike to watch the captives. Buffy walked over to join the discussion, whispering to Spike as she walked by, “If you want to scare the crap out of them, knock yourself out.”
“Wouldn’t mind getting a bit of my own back,” he said. “Nice to know you’re okay with it.” He raised a sarcastic eyebrow at her and she glared back.
“Forget it. I just thought—”
“You just expected me not to act without permission. I got it, Slayer.”
“Spike… I… “ She shook her head. “I can’t deal with this right now.”
“Not the time or place. You’re right, pet. But we are going to have to talk soon.”
Buffy squeezed her eyes shut briefly, then continued walking without comment. She really didn’t want to know what it was that they needed to talk about.
Shaking off her fears for the moment, she joined the conversation about what to do with the soldiers.
“I actually like Spike’s suggestion that they be taken far enough away that they would not be able to find their way back,” Giles was saying. “If we allow them to believe that we’re familiar enough with the underground here to move to another hide-out, chances are he can release them somewhere that will allow them to find their way out safely. If they think we’ve gone off through the sewers to somewhere else, there would be no reason for them to re-check the crypt.”
“That could work,” Buffy chimed in. “And if we don’t block the door again, or close the entrance, just keeping it dark down below should convince anybody who does peek down there that we’re gone.”
Knowing Spike could hear them from where he was alternately laughing and snarling at the captives, Buffy looked over at him to see if he agreed. He shrugged and nodded, going back to his glaring audience and wondering aloud how much blood he could get from one of them before his chip incapacitated him.
Nodding back, she said, “Okay. I’ll go with Spike and we’ll leave these guys somewhere near an exit. You can pretend to be taking off down the tunnels, then go back to Spike’s crypt when we’re out of sight. Keep their lights and tasers. You might need them.”
Xander clutched his captured gun tightly. “I don’t have to give up ‘old Bessie’ here, do I? We’ve already bonded.”
“Fine.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “You can keep your—”
“Penis substitute?” Anya chimed in. “Because Xander really has no need of that. He has quite a nice—“
“And on that over-sharing note…” Buffy walked back to Spike. “You heard?”
He nodded, dropping his vampire mien and staring into her eyes. “Sounds like a plan, pet. All but the part where you come with me. Don’t trust me?”
She frowned. “Why wouldn’t I trust you? I just thought you might like the company, but if you—”
“Sorry, Slayer. That’s my issue, I guess, not yours. I would like the company. You know I would. Was just my insecurities talkin’.”
“I don’t know what you’ve got to be insecure about after…” She blushed, remembering the intensity of the kiss they’d shared earlier. “Not that I’m saying I want to….”
He smiled. “To quote you, ‘Quit while you’re ahead’.”
“Right. Okay, let’s get these guys out of here so Giles can take everybody else to a new hideout. Someplace harder to find from the outside.”
Pleased with the red herring she’d thrown, Buffy nudged the men to their feet. “Let’s go. I’m tired, hungry and I need to pee. I’m getting cranky.”
“Nothing pleasant about a cranky slayer,” Spike said to the men in a deliberately loud whisper. “Better move it.” He grinned unrepentantly at Buffy’s muffled “Jackass” as she walked away.
Falling into Buffy’s attempted misdirection, Willow said, “How will you and Spike find us again?”
“No problem, Red,” Spike spoke first. “I should be able to follow your scent. Just rub a hand on a wall when you make a turn or something, and we’ll find you.”
Buffy could see the men listening carefully and making mental notes, almost sneering to themselves about how stupid everyone was being to discuss their escape plans in front of the enemy. She and Spike exchanged a look behind their backs and he rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Wankers,” he said without further explanation. Buffy’s giggle made him smile in a way that softened his whole face, and she blushed again as she turned away.
Holding one of the powerful lights and giving the other to Anya, Buffy led the way into the darkness ahead of them. As she passed Giles, she pointed at the branching tunnels and said, loud enough to be heard, “Wait till we’re far enough away that they won’t be able to guess which direction you take.”
“Quite right,” he said. “I suspect we will want to go to somewhere with an easy access to the outside—just in case we need to escape quickly.” Having planted another seed of misdirection, he smiled in satisfaction as he watched Buffy lead her little group of handcuffed soldiers down the main sewer tunnel. She was careful to keep to the path and out of the water, and the men followed her obediently. As Spike passed where Giles was standing, the watcher spoke softly.
“You’re going to have to tell her. If you don’t, I will”
“I’m going to,” he sighed. “I just hate…” He nodded. “Before we get back, she’ll know. I promise.” He met Giles’s eyes steadily. “Can’t promise she’s gonna be happy about it.”
Giles nodded his agreement. “It may take some time for her to accept it. I think you need to be prepared for that.”
Spike gave a mirthless grin. “Best way to be prepared might be to borrow a flak jacket from one of these wankers.” He didn’t wait for a response, but strode out, catching up to Buffy and their prisoners in a few seconds. He let Buffy lead for a while, then changed places with her when she became less sure of where she was going. Her own knowledge of the vast system underneath Sunnydale was limited, and she rarely went there unless she was pursuing something. Spike, on the other hand, had learned a great deal about them when he first came to Sunnydale, and even more when he’d studied maps and explored side tunnels as he’d searched for the Gem of Amara. In his time since he’d been chipped, he had reacquainted himself with many of the tunnels, using them to avoid going out where he could be spotted by the commandoes.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/327387.html