The Heartstone Part Four

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series The Heartstone
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The Heartstone
A Spike and Buffy Adventure – Literally!

by Bogwitch

Setting: Season 6, goes AU after Doublemeat Palace.

Warnings/Rating: 15. Okay… er… R I suppose. Lots and lots of naughty words anyway.

Summary: ‘She’d been a passenger in Spike’s mind way too long already; she didn’t want to stay there. Sharing one body was too… intimate and intimate was the one thing she didn’t want to be with Spike…’

And lest I forget: Many thanks go to myfeetshowit, who really should get a medal for her efforts and for listening to all my whinging and hesadevil who reassured me I hadn’t written a load of old tosh!

 

Four

Buffy would be the first to admit that Breaking and Entering was a vital, if dubious, skill in the repertoire of a Slayer. Evil didn’t care about laws or statutes, it wanted lunch, and sometimes the rules had to be broken – or creatively bent – in the pursuit of her sacred duties if she was going to keep people alive, even if not everyone understood that. Brushes with the Sunnydale PD were just an inconvenient hazard of her job, but she did what she did for the greater good and not for the fun of it.

Spike’s motives for breaking into the back of the Sun Cinema, however, weren’t so clear to her. She was quite sure that he had nothing so charitable in mind.

The cinema was old and Spike was able to force an ageing rear window wide enough for him to slip into the Manager’s office. It was dark inside, but an eerie light from the computer screen lit the walls with a sickly glow that flickered with the movements of the screensaver. Stalking through the gloom, Spike made a cursory tour of the filing cabinets, pulling out drawers at random and casually inspecting the knick-knacks cluttered on top. Anything that looked vaguely valuable found a new home in the depths of his pockets.

But it soon became obvious to Buffy that Spike hadn’t come here to help himself to trinkets after all. He scooped up the telephone as he as he rounded the desk and made himself at home in the executive chair, brushing aside a pile of important looking reports to make way for his feet on the table, not caring that they slid off the edge into the waste paper basket. Cradling the phone in his lap, he stuck a hand into his pocket, rooting through the junk and the engraved pens he’d pinched, until he found a crumpled scrap of paper.

Intrigued, Buffy watched him unpick it and smooth it out against his thigh. Scrawled across the page in scratchy ballpoint pen was a long phone number that she recognised as International.

Giles? she thought hopefully. She couldn’t quite read the spidery, old-fashioned script, but what she could read looked like it might be a very familiar number.

Spike leant back in the chair as he dialled, punching the numbers in slowly and deliberately to be sure. The call only took a few seconds to connect, but by the time it started to ring at the other end he’d already started to fidget.

Click.

“Hello?” asked a familiar voice on the other end of the line.

It was Giles! Buffy was so relieved to hear his voice, which right then was like comfort food for her soul. Everything felt safer and simpler with Giles around – if she couldn’t solve something by hitting it, he would find the answer.

Giles would fix all this.

“Hello Rupert.” Despite the situation, Spike evidently couldn’t resist teasing the man.

Spike?” Giles sounded stunned. “You’re calling me? Here?”

“It’s about Buffy…”

Thousands of miles and an ocean away, Giles humphed. “You surprise me.”

“Yeah. Right,” Spike mumbled. “The strength of it is that the Slayer’s missing. There was a witch and a spell. Everyone’s out looking for her.”

“I see. What can I do from here?”

“Need information. Witch left this stone when she disappeared. You know of it?”

“Well, I don’t know.” Buffy could have sworn she’d heard Giles remove his glasses. “What did it look like?”

“Round,” Spike explained quickly. “‘Bout the size of a big crystal ball.”

Giles sighed. “You’ll have to give me a better description than that. What was it made of? What colour was it?”

“Didn’t get time to look at it closely. It was red, shiny and it vibrated.” Spike shook his hand in the air to demonstrate. “You couldn’t see through it. There were patterns moving over the surface an’ Red got very excited about it. Said it was powerful.”

“Good Lord, it sounds like a Heartstone.” The itch of academic curiosity was tangible in Giles’ voice. “They’re exceedingly rare.”

“What does it do?”

Giles mulled his thoughts over. “Someone once told me that they bound hearts, strengthened the bonds of love between people and drew lovers to each other. I suppose one could also be used to boost the magical abilities of the weaker partner. Your witch may be using it to generate the power to cast this spell you speak of. That would mean she has an accomplice – a much stronger one.”

“She shouted a name as she popped off. Aga, Argos or something…” Spike paused as he tried to remember it. “Arda. That’s right.”

“Hmm. Not a name I recall. Bear with me.” There was a clunk as Giles put down his phone and a shuffling that Buffy imagined was the sound of many books being pondered over. Then came the familiar thump of heavy tome meeting robust desk. The pages rustled as Giles flicked through them. “Let me see…”

Spike swung gently in his swivel chair, Buffy could tell he was starting to get bored. “Not got all day, Watcher.”

“Who exactly is helping whom?” Giles snapped, but instead of anger in his voice, there was something more like wistful exasperation. “Besides, I believe it is still night in California.”

“Got me there.”

Giles ignored him. He hummed as he skimmed through the entries in another book. “Ah, Arda. Here it is! Arda was… Oh dear…”

Spike sat up with a jerk. “What?”

“It appears that Arda was one of the Higher Demons, a powerful Demon Lord banished from this dimension during the reign of Elizabeth the First.” The concern in Giles’ voice deepened noticeably. “It seems he and his paramour tried to end the world.”

“Who hasn’t?” Spike snorted without thinking.

“I don’t recall trying myself.”

“Ah,” Spike wavered as he caught Giles’ caustic disapproval. “Well, my heart wasn’t in it.”

“How reassuring.”

“So then,” Spike said brightly, moving Giles away from the tricky subject of his dubious past and back to what he wanted to know. “Why would these people have a Heartstone?”

“I suspect they wanted to pool their power. With one of those you could find your sweetheart anywhere – across continents, dimensions, even Heaven and Hell…”

Spike interrupted him. “So I could find Buffy with it?”

Giles laughed. “Good god, no. You would need the love of two people for that. The spiritual energy has to go both ways. Think of it as a kind of ritual marriage. I’m sure you’d never have that with Buff…”

Spike slammed the phone down and as he surged off the chair Buffy felt his anguish turn from a sharp, chilling stab of demonic wrath to a dark simmering ripple of frustrated anger. Giles’ words had hurt him deeply and they didn’t mix well with the cocktail of alcohol and despair that were already curdling within him.

When he slammed the fire door behind him and stormed out into the night, Buffy hoped fervently he wouldn’t do anything stupidly rash.

~*~

Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Whoop…

Zelda froze, her hand still on the door handle of the shiny new BMW. The alarm was ear-splittingly loud as it cut through the night. A dog barked and bedroom lights popped on in the buildings nearby, filling the gaps between each whoop with angry shouts.

“Hey! That’s my car!” a furious voice shouted from a window above. The man shook his fist at her as he shucked on his dressing gown and then ducked back inside, intending to give chase.

Run Zelda Run!

Running wasn’t easy. She was bone-tired and the dangerous combo of impractical heels and the snowy sub-zero temperatures made her escape a gauntlet of slippery patches and frozen slush. Her feet felt like blocks of ice, but her speed was quick enough – for a short burst anyway – and she managed to get some distance from the angry driver before she ducked down a side street. It was only a matter of time before she would skid and get caught; she’d rather use cunning instead.

Problem was that she wasn’t that sort of girl. She was used to solving her problems with magic not wits, and no wily ideas came to her, except to try to lose herself in a crowd – and there were precious few of those in the early hours of the morning. If this were a movie it’d be simple, an amazingly convenient parade would appear, causing confusion while the marching band marched into her pursuer’s path, but the only people she saw were a few Neanderthal college types out for the après ski. They cheered her drunkenly on her way.

This, apparently, was civilisation.

Not in her book. The only good thing she could say about the mountain town, was that it had been easy to find. Fortunately, the wonky spell hadn’t sent her far; across the state into the Sierra Nevadas, rather than halfway up K2, and she’d been able to trudge down the slope, following the willo-the-wisp lure of the lights from the resort below, but now that she was back in the land of people, a bigger issue than the biting cold and fatigue was becoming apparent. She had no money and no money meant no food, no warming drinks by the fireside and no bus ride back to Sunnydale. Hitching might still be an option, she could easily charm some schmuck into buying her dinner and taking her South, but it was slow and unpredictable and without her magic it was risky. She couldn’t remember a time when she’d felt so powerless. Without magic, life was hard – much harder then she remembered – and Grand Theft Auto was impossible!

She was gasping by the time she had to stop in a doorway out of view; there was no way she could go further without taking a rest. Risking a quick look at her pursuer and expecting a baseball bat wielding maniac, she discovered that she hadn’t been followed and relaxed, her head falling back against the brick with relief. Seemingly, the man had been happy enough just to chase her away from his BMW.

Time to tick another potential scheme off the list, but what else did she have left to try? There weren’t a whole lot of other options.

Happy now the coast was clear, she stepped out of her hiding place as nonchalantly as if nothing had happened. There was a joint she’d passed on Main Street that looked promising and she headed there, hoping her pity-me face would prove more effective than her joyriding skills.

It was not the most prepossessing place, in fact it looked downright seedy, but right now Zelda was not being fussy. She dropped her shoulders and cast a little glamour that even her own magic could handle, making herself look pathetically small and delicate. She needed sympathy for this. But as she shuffled pitifully through the door, conversation didn’t stop as she’d expected. In fact, yet again her timing sucked. All eyes in the room were firmly fixed on an escalating bar brawl and no one noticed the dishevelled, shivering girl approaching the bar.

It just wasn’t her night.

“Fuck,” she cursed, dropping the act. There was no point pursuing it if no one was watching.

“Can I help you?” asked a voice from behind her.

Surprised, Zelda turned. A woman spreading with middle age was looking at her with concern and a friendly, trusting smile. Above a tray loaded with empty glasses that tinkled as she approached, her nametag proclaimed her name as Patty.

Patty slid the tray onto an empty table. “Did something happen to you, dear?”

Zelda nodded, snapping back into the role with a wibbling lip and pleading eyes. This woman looked like just the kind of pushover she was looking for. “I… I don’t remember.”

Patty offered her a hand. “Come with me, you look frozen!”

Gingerly, with a reservation that wasn’t actually part of her act, Zelda took it.

Half an hour later she had a nice meal in her belly and warm clothes, donated from absent-minded customers, on her back. Life was looking up at last. Patty had been kind and attentive, but she had customers to serve and no time to dote on Zelda.

And Zelda was quite certain that was what the woman wanted to do, but the last thing Zelda wanted was some mother hen clucking over her now she had what she needed – she had five hundred years on the daft bitch! Still, there was a room for the night on offer as soon as Patty finished her shift and it was tempting to think of taking her up on it, but time was getting short and the answer to her problem was sitting on the counter in front of her.

Zelda swiped the contents of the tip jar and made a break for it out the Fire Exit.

 NEXT

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/169971.html

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