Take Heart

Rating:
Total Chapters: 12

Set after a different Primeval (season 4), Buffy needs Spike’s help. Warnings-character death and squick!


Author’s Notes: Written for The Deadly Hook, Apocalypse Ficathon.  Specs: 
Pairing (shippy or non-shippy): Non-shippy, I think, although I’d love some nice tension / possibilities / smut creeping in End-of-world Scenario: The Initiative wins. Riley still mind-controlled.  Adam running around making his hybrid monsters. Buffy still kinda-sorta  that Super Slayer combo form from “Primeval,” very primitive and superhero-y  and freaky. Not sure what that means for the other members of that combo  spell. Maybe they have to work to maintain it, maybe they died and gave up  their essences into Buffy; writer decides. Two requests: I wanna see Spike. Your choice how. Also Angel.

Big hugs to my wonderful betas, as ever.


Part 1

Spike cautiously peeks out of the tunnel entrance. Sunnydale has been reverberating with explosions for days now, but he thinks he’s detected a lessening in frequency. The air is veiled with smoke, leavened with odors of burning meat and charred demon hide. Everywhere he looks he finds remains of people, both soldiers and civilians. Some of the soldiers are Adam’s hybrids, but most of them are the ordinary kind. He’s finished the last of his blood and he’s extremely hungry now. Even the rats have left Sunnydale, like the sensible creatures they are.

He decides to make his way over to Willy’s. In a war it’s generally the publican who makes a buck out of it, and he knows old Willy would certainly try. One of the corpses he found was reasonably intact and yielded a wallet full of cash, so if necessary he could even pay for his blood. When he rounds the last corner to Willy’s he runs smack into Harmony. She’s a shining vision in pale blue polyester amidst the smoke and rubble, and she wears a tiara with a little silver horn in the middle of her forehead. Very cute.

“Spikey! Oh, baby bear, you look all sooty and hungry! Why don’t you come with me and I’ll give you a nice meal and a hot shower,” she exclaims and trips over to him.

Spike is a little surprised by her friendliness, but then again, it’s about time she did him a good turn. He slaps her tight shiny arse appreciatively and follows her. Straight into the arms of a dozen of the Initiative hybrid soldiers.

“Bloody hell, Harm!” Spike bellows as he dodges a hybrid Polgara-Mohra-human. “What have I ever done to you to deserve this?”

“Gee, Spike, how can you even ask? You betrayed my boyfriend. I owe it to him to bring you to justice.”

“And who’s the boyfriend then?” Thud. Yank out those entrails.

Harmony preens, miraculously still unspattered by any of the gobs of multicolored gore that fly through the air at regular intervals. “He’s the top dog of the New Initiative, Spike. Much more powerful and masculine than you. His name’s Adam.”

Of course. Harmony’s such a born follower, she’d latch on to anyone who was anything and lick his arse until it shone.

For God’s sake, how could he have let his guard down for sodding Harm? There are too many of them, and it’s close to dawn. He enters an oddly detached state of mind as the minutes pass and more cyberdemonoids keep coming in. He’s a good fighter, and they’re demons, so he can defend himself; but he knows this is going to be the end, there are just too many. Three giant Polgara hybrids attack him at the same time. He kills the one, ducks the second, but sees the third one’s bony bayonet coming at him inexorably while both his hands are still occupied. He lets out a great shout of defiance.

To his surprise the Polgara buckles in mid-cleave and the axe drops from its mottled hands. Spike finishes off the second one and only then sees the tiny glowing figure of the Slayer standing there, her hands dripping of vital demonic organs and purple gore. Her eyes stare with a strange orange glow.

“With me or against me?” she asks tersely. She drops the heart and finds a stake that was hidden somewhere on her tiny person.

“With you,” he pants while wrenching off another demon head. Bugger him if he knows what she means, but he doesn’t need another opponent.

“Let’s go then,” she says and hacks them a way out of the mêlée.

He follows her, chagrined and relieved at the same time. This is the second time she’s saved him, more or less, and he’s not getting any more grateful. Uppity bint.

When they’re clear of the hordes he stops and inspects his duster for damage. The Slayer waits for him with her hands on her hips and her little booted foot tapping impatiently.

“Don’t stand there tapping your sodding feet at me, Slayer,” Spike says angrily. “Thanks for saving me, ta ever so, off you go now.”

Her boiled egg eyes stare through him. Christ, she’s weird. Looking funnier than Adam’s hybrids, actually. He’s always thought the Slayer was some kind of demon herself. Maybe stress brought it on. Or unrelieved sexual tension, since Soldier Boy’s been chipped and forced into service by Adam weeks ago.

“You’re not going anywhere, Spike,” she intones flatly. “You owe me. Follow me.”

Yeah, right. He waits until she’s turned her back and marches on to wherever she’s going, and then he takes off as quick as he can in the other direction. Before he can round the corner, something lands on his back and topples him. His head smacks hard on the pavement and when his eyes can focus again he finds the Slayer sitting on top of him, staring at him impassively.

“I said, Spike, that you owed me one. Don’t run away again. I can rip your throat out as easily as any other demon’s. ”

Spike sighs and relaxes all his limbs. Her persistence is one of her more annoying traits. No wait, she only has annoying traits. Her size zero butt on his hips is very warm, and he’s hungry. Horny too, now that he thinks of food. He’d been hoping to get a leg over with Harm, and it’s been far too long. If he can’t escape the Slayer, he might as well needle her.

He wriggles his hips suggestively and shows her his tongue. “I knew you were hot for me, Slayer. No need to be so coercive about it. Say the word and I’ll make you a happy woman.”

“What?”

It still gets her, which is kind of a relief. He doesn’t much like the faraway staring look in her eyes. Granted, Adam’s taken over Sunnydale, and he has no clue what happened to her little pals or her mum, but she’s supposed to be eternally perky and win, for God’s sake. Slayers are supposed to take care of apocalypses and the big stuff, so he can hunt and kill in peace.

She gets up hastily and hauls him up by the scruff of his duster. Is it his imagination or has she gotten stronger?

She marches off again and he follows reluctantly.

“You got some blood in the fridge for me, Slayer? If you haven’t, least you can do for me is open a vein. They haven’t been keeping up the butchering or the hospital supplies and I’m hungry!” he says plaintively.

Not as if he really expects an answer, he just feels like griping. He likes the way she looks when she gets pissed off at him.

“Shut up, Spike,” she says, but it’s without passion.

Pity.

They walk on silently, through the smoke of a thousand fires, cars, homes, just-for-fun fires. Reminds Spike a bit of the Boxer Rebellion. Those were the days… Under the smoke, there is the sweet stench of decomposing bodies mixed with yummy barbecue smells. They say human meat is just like pork but he easily recognizes the difference. To his surprise, they turn onto Revello. He wouldn’t have thought she’d still be going anywhere near it. Adam must know how to find her Mom’s address.

There are two fairly fresh graves in the front yard. Joyce Marilyn Summers, it says, Beloved Mother, 1956-2000. Aw, hell. He liked old Joyce. Too old to eat, but a bloke could talk to her. The other one says Tara Maclay, She was family, 1979-2000. The shy witch, the sweetest and most beautiful of them all. He generally prefers his women skinnier and bitchier, but he’d have happily drunk her dry. They don’t make women like that anymore, sweet but strong deep inside.

“They got your Mum, Slayer?”

She turns her bird-like gaze on him. “Yeah. What do you care?”

“I liked Joyce. She was alright.”

“Huh.”

She’s behaving like a robot., a scary zoned-out robot with glowing lightbulbs for eyes. She opens the door. It’s been kicked in and repaired with crudely nailed planks. Spike steps inside gingerly, and notices with surprise that his invitation hasn’t been revoked. Silly, silly Slayer. Now where has she gone?

“Spike!”

Her impatient voice reaches him from the basement. He sighs and slogs over there. He senses three more heartbeats down there. It must be her little pals. How touching. He can’t imagine why the Slayer invited him along, because he’d be far from their favorite person right now. He almost had them at each other’s throats. Of course, if he hadn’t been sowing the seeds of discord, they might have been more effective at fighting Adam. Bugger that. Thinking makes his head hurt, and what-ifs won’t make the world go round.

In the dim basement, he sees three motionless figures lying on cots and mattresses. Blankets sharply delineate knees and emaciated hipbones. They don’t stir at all. The air smells of sickness and stale unwashed humanity. He was right; it’s the librarian, the witch and the floppy boy.

“What’s happened to them, pet?” he asks curiously.

He walks over to give the boy a kick in the ribs, but not only does the slack body not stir at all, even the Slayer doesn’t react. He resents that. Needling her is one of the few remaining pleasures in his life.

The Slayer has grabbed a bottle of water and drinks greedily. Inconsiderate of her, since he’s still doing without.

“Not very hospitable, are you, love? Should offer me a sip of your delicious neck, you should.”

The Slayer sighs. Spike almost misses her eye rolls. He throws off his duster and sprawls on the silent washing machine. Slayer ought to use it more; her clothes are far from pristine. He stretches luxuriously and checks if his wounds are healing nicely. Not as fast as when he’d have been properly fed, but tolerable.

“What do you want from me, Slayer? Getting kind of bored here.”

She walks up to him and crosses her arms. “I want you to kill my friends.”

“What?”

He can’t have been hearing that right. There must be another word ending on ‘ill’. Bill. Dill. Pill. What is she talking about?

“The four of us did an enjoining spell to kill Adam. The spell connected us all and gave me my friends’ powers to use. I can’t undo the connection and instead of giving me their essence, they’re draining mine. My heart, my spirit and my mind are being consumed because of our link. I need you to kill them.”

Spike jumps off the washer and starts pacing. He can’t think if he’s sitting still. “Supposing I could kill them – which I can’t because I’ve got the sodding chip, remember – why would I? Why not do it yourself?”

Actually, this ought to be priceless. The Slayer, begging him to kill her friends? He’d never have believed it if someone had told him this would happen.

“I can’t,” she says flatly, and goes to stand in the way of his pacing. “I tried. The magic won’t let me, even after Giles told me to do it.”

“But, but…” Spike throws his hands in the air. “This is no fun, Slayer! There is no challenge here, no stalking, and no fight. Why should I do this?”

“Because I would kill you?” she says with that same toneless voice and straight face, while she suddenly holds his head in her unnaturally strong hands and starts the corkscrewing motions that will result in his head and body parting company. Spike believes her.

“Alright, alright, I’ll do it. I’ll try. You know the chip will fire and I won’t be able to go through with it?”

“Of course you can do it, Spike,” she says. “You wanna stay happily undead, don’t you?”

“Why should I care about that, eh, when all I get is pain and boredom and no fun at all? Anyway, I need to feed first. The way I feel now a small headache would make me pass out,” he says truculently. See if he can get a raise out of her.

She comes over and looks at his wounds. “They don’t look so bad,” she says.

He lifts up his T-shirt to show her the great big gap in his side, where some unseen beastie with jaws like a shark chewed on him. “How about that, eh? Makes me feel faint with blood loss!”

She touches the lips of the wound with her burning hot fingers and in spite of himself, he feels a pleasurable shiver. If she wasn’t the Slayer, a warrior, she’d be exactly the kind of little girl he’d like to fuck and feed on till she died. Feel the soft curvy body grow slack and heavy, the last tremors still. There’s something gorgeous in departing life, apart from the obvious satisfaction of a full belly and a spent cock. Too bad that this one would fight him, and that he feel she owes her an honorable death. He really should dispense with his silly scruples someday.

The Slayer takes out a knife and makes a quick business-like cut in her arm. “Here,” she says.

The scent of fresh human blood fills the air and he can’t help reacting to it. His fangs shoot out, his dick fills with blood and he growls hungrily.

“I’d prefer that sweet little neck of yours, Slayer,” he says, but it’s token resistance, he’s already bending over to lap up the slow blood pumping from her vein. It’s been almost a year since he’s tasted it fresh from the prey and it’s heaven. He sucks as hard as he can and he pulls her closer to steal her body heat as well, he wants it all. At last, she yanks back her arm and he pants and claws blindly to get the delicious flow back.

When he finally opens his eyes, his nose has long scented a curious smell. The Slayer likes it. Her breath is going fast and shallow, and her little nipples prick through her skimpy dirty T-shirt. He’s not going to hesitate to take such a sweet offering. He grabs her hips and grinds his dick against the sweet mound of her sex. She lets him for a moment, eyes closed and body swaying, but then she belts him in the face with her elbow.

“You’re such a pig, Spike! Keep your filthy hands off me!”

Spike lies on the floor with a very sore nose, but he doesn’t care. “You liked it, Slayer; I knew old Angelus would have had you trained for it. I knew it. What’d you call someone who likes pig? A susophile?”

“What? Shut up, Spike. Just do what you promised already.”

Spike sniffs up the blood from his nose and licks up the rest. No point in wasting anything. “Any preferences about who goes first?”

To his surprise, the Slayer answers this immediately. “Yeah. Take Xander. He hurts the most. He’s the heart, the one who’s holding us together. Maybe it’s enough if we kill him and we won’t need to do the others.”

Spike shrugs. What does he care? “How do you want me to do it? Can’t drain him, I think. Chip would kick in and it mightn’t be enough to kill him. Cut off his head with an axe?”

There’s a tiny ripple across her stiffly composed features, almost gone before he’s seen it. Then she shakes her head quickly. “No. You have to take out his heart. Your hands, or a knife, doesn’t matter which.”

“Knife, I think. I’ve got to be quick before the chip goes off.”

She hands him the knife. Spike advances on the supine boy on the cot. Harris’ face is thin and slack, his chest barely moving. He thinks of something.

“You got a bucket, Slayer? Catch the blood for me when I’ve passed out from the pain.”

Spike looks around and grabs a chipped vase full of old dirt from a shelf. “This would do fine.”

Buffy practically yanks it out of his hands and cradles the dusty unwieldy thing tenderly. “This is Angel, Spike. Keep your hands off him.”

Spike gasps before he can prevent it. “Angel? Right. Who got him?”

This is not how he would have imagined Angel ending. Ashes in Joyce’s flower pot. He never thought Angel would end. The old man should have been eternally glowering just around the corner. Now he’s truly on his own.

Her face is eerily smooth and undisturbed. Her eyelids lower over her nectarine eyes once, slowly. “Adam, of course,” the Slayer says softly. “Angel came to help me, but he failed. He died a hero.”

Spike wants to bridle but shuts up. He’s not a hero. Why should he want to be? Heroes are boring blokes with heavy brows who stride around rescuing virgins and don’t even take their virginities, or blood, or riches, and then die. That’s so not him.

Buffy stares at him silently. The she nods jerkily and empties cloths and a mop from a plastic bucket beneath the sink. “This okay?”

“Sure,” he says.

He opens up the loud grimy shirt Harris wears and cuts the T-shirt underneath it open. The pale olive skin is stretched tight over the ribs and the boy’s gotten so thin he can see the heart beat south-east of his breastbone. He mimics the movement he’s going to make; he needs to do it in one quick slash, and then yank out the heart, he doesn’t have the time to open him up first. He cuts quick and deep and wrenches the heart out while the first blinding zigzags of pain race through his brain. Then lightning strikes him down. A great jet of bright red arterial blood spouting into the air is the last thing he sees.

*

Dru is licking his face with her cool raspy tongue and he’s missed that so much that it almost makes him cry. He keeps it in, though, Dru doesn’t like him snively and sentimental, except when it means giving her presents and doing everything she wants. The slight pressure of her breasts on his chest is wrong, somehow, warm where it should be cold. He opens gummy heavy eyelids and stares straight into the face of the Slayer, who’s bathing his face with a washcloth, looking serious and concerned. He shuts them again hastily so he can think. Right. Slayer. Breasts. Washcloth. This train of thought doesn’t yield anything useful so he abandons it and tries to guess at his surroundings. The smell of blood, not fresh, an hour or so old, loiters in the room like a sultry wench, ripe for the taking.

A warm soft arm slips under his head and tilts it gently upward. Spike lets it happen, too bemused to do the obvious, like biting her neck and draining her dry. No. wait, there’s another reason not to do that, but he can’t get at it right now. A cup of blood is held under his nose and he drinks. A Slayer offering him blood? What…

The blood finally clears his mind a bit and he suddenly identifies the vague background smells. Revello Drive, the basement probably. Scoobies somewhere. For God’s sake, he’s drinking dead Xander Bovril! His eyes fly open and memory floods back. He sits up and is shocked at how weak and dizzy he feels. The chip must have blasted half his brain away.

The Slayer puts down the empty cup of blood and offers him a dripping maroon lump on a plate. It has the same blood smell and he identifies it as a clumsily cut out heart. Really. He doesn’t eat human meat, he drinks blood.

“Wha?” his own voice reverberates blurrily in his head. Is he drunk? His tongue feels as dead and lumpish in his mouth as the Harris heart.

“You have to eat the heart, Spike, to finish the dismantling of the spell.”

Great. Food. Just what he doesn’t need right now. He needs buckets of blood and bed rest, actually. The Slayer holds out the heart with that implacable face while Spike considers his options. He gives in. Time enough for options later. When he’s not feeling so bloody weak.

He stuffs the heart in his mouth and tries to swallow it away as quickly as he can. Would the Slayer consider roasting it for him, or slathering on some barbecue sauce? He knows the answer already and chews on morosely. Pretending it’s Buffalo wings doesn’t really work without the sauce.

When he’s swallowed the last unpleasant morsel a wave of nausea or something like it washes over him and he falls back to the floor. A gasp from Buffy makes him clamber back upright. She’s wiping away a tear and looks at him with her big beautiful eyes shining with more unshed tears.

“Thank you, Spike,” she says in a small tremulous voice.  “I can feel so much more now. It’s pain, but that’s still better than feeling nothing.”

He hugs her tightly. This must be so hard on her, so many losses, his poor spunky girl. He kisses her wet nose and wipes away another trickle of salt.

“Better?” he asks tenderly.

“Yeah.”

She nestles closely against him and Spike breathes in the deeply personal Buffy-smell wafting from her hair, spice and sweat and half-forgotten shampoo. “What are friends for, if not to comfort each other in a time of loss?”

Friends? Hey, this is getting peculiar. Since when is the Slayer his friend? They both draw back and stare at each other in shock. The Slayer’s heartbeat stutters and accelerates, boom-boom, boom-boom.

“Bugger!” Spike says.

“Ew!” the Slayer answers quickly.

His tongue is working again, he notices. Pity it said such wet things to the damn woman. Has he eaten Harris’ soul along with his heart? Magic is a tricky thing, he knows that. He might actually have been better off letting the Slayer kill him instead of joining her in this doomed venture.

“Right,” Spike says. “Just gonna step outside for a fag, Slayer. Won’t be a sec.”

A vise clamps around his arm at about halfway up the stairs.

”I think I’ll keep you company,” she says with a tightlipped smile.

Spike shows his teeth. Bitch.

The Slayer’s sitting with her legs swinging on the porch railing, while he cowers in the deepest shade. The sun crowns her with spun gold, her face is in the shadows. The sky is hazy with smoke and magic, but not hazy enough to be safe for Spike. Spike considers doing a Jan Palach, but he guesses the Slayer would be as unimpressed as the Russians were, and there’s no one to benefit from it, especially not himself. He’s not the suicidal type.

He dawdles on the smoke as long as possible, but finally he grinds out his fag on the wooden planks of the porch. The Slayer makes a disapproving face but she can go hang with her expressions, although there is a strange pulling sensation behind his breastbone when she looks like that. Aftereffect. It’ll pass.

“Are we done now, Slayer?”

She jumps off the railing and turns her face into the light. Her eyes stare at him like a crazed chicken’s, all big round yellow irises and tiny pupils That’s his answer.

He nods at her. “Next, then?”

“Willow”.

She blinks rapidly and it’s very uncomfortable for him if she keeps airing the feelings all the time. Has she no consideration for him at all? He almost takes her in his arms again, which is positively creepy. Sworn enemies should keep their distance, he reckons, not start acting like bosom buddies. Although, if he could become the buddy of her bosom he wouldn’t care too much about the side effects.

The Slayer’s eyes are taking on that glow again. Not pretty. They walk back downstairs silently.

“So, um, any special thoughts on the method?”

“She’s spirit. Breath. You have to choke her.”

The Slayer sobs on the last words and Spike has to clench his jaws and ball his fists hard to keep from comforting her. Very astute of her to take Harris first. If it had been Superlibrarian he’d have been coolly calculating the odds and been long out of here. This must have been his fiendishly clever plan.

Spike takes a look around. “Bit of rope, B…Slayer?”

She looks stricken but looks around dutifully.

“Never mind.”

Spike unbuckles his belt and works it out of the loops. Is it his imagination or is the Slayer really staring at his belly? He’s a handsome fellow, he knows that, but so far her neck has played a bigger role in his fantasies than the rest of her body. Interesting. He shifts his jeans in a more comfortable position and notes with glee she’s mirroring his motions, adjusting her own olive combat pants. Gotcha.

No reason to put it off, is there? He flexes his neck and shoulder muscles. He feels alright. Maybe killing Harris didn’t destroy quite as many brains cells as he feared, although his present thoughts about the Slayer are disturbing. He loops the belt around Willow’s neck, gently, doesn’t want any more headache than strictly necessary. His throat hurts a bit and his eyes sting. Odd. He clears his throat and prepares to yank the belt tight.

“Wait!” the Slayer says breathlessly. “Take a breath out of her mouth first. You can’t do that after…you know.”

It’s indescribably annoying that’s she so coy about this. Can’t she just say out loud he’s going to kill Willow? He doesn’t quite trust his own voice, though, so he bends over to the still paper white face and breathes in as Willow breathes out. It makes him feel giddy, which isn’t even possible. On with it. He angrily yanks the belt tight and an atomic bomb explodes in his head. He’s blasted through the roof and looks down on all of blackened ruined Sunnydale. The smoke is blown eastward by the wind.

*

He wafts down, tugged earthward by an invisible cord. He whooshes through a house and looks down on a man in black lying on the floor of the basement. He looks dead. A golden-haired girl is tenderly stroking his bleached curls away from his forehead and crooning a little song. That is so sad. There is no one in the whole world who loves him like that. No one, he’s all alone. At least someone is mourning for the dead guy, and he’d prefer to be dead too rather than feeling so lonely. This thought pulls him into the slack body and he looks up at the sweet, pretty girl who gazes down at him with such concern and love. Her eyes are the most gorgeous bronzy green shot with golden flecks. He uses the dead hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.

She gently lays the man’s head down on something soft and smelling of old leather and smoke. He used to have a coat that smelled just like it. The girl lugs another body over to him, a tiny woman, her short dyed hair flopping around her upside-down face like a dandelion head.

“Here, drink.”

He doesn’t quite get what she means, but his face crunches and twists. It’s very painful, and at the same time sexy. Strange. His head shoots forward without his volition and he bites down hard into the girl’s neck. Gah. The guy’s a vampire? He doesn’t want anything to do with something as disgusting as that, but the borrowed throat drinks on anyway. The taste is a revelation. Somehow he knows it isn’t as warm and tingly as it should be, but it’s still slides down like molten copper, making him feel alive, horny and feisty.

He humps the golden haired girl’s side where she hangs over him while supporting the dead woman. She’s so hot, literally and metaphorically. She’s probably his girlfriend. And here he is, drinking Willow, which would have been a major success a few months ago, and now it only makes him melancholy. Willow? Spike gags and pushes the corpse away. He’s drinking Willow, and not in the good way, which would be drinking from her live, pulsing artery, fucking her senseless and generally having a ball. This is just…sad.

Buffy looks at him gravely and presses his hand. “Hey. Are you back, Spike?”

“Yeah.”

It’s like being a fledgling, waking up with twice the amount of senses he had before he died and no clue what to do with all the info that came pouring in. Everything in the bare basement has extra shine, or value, whatever you’d call the magic properties every object insisted on telling him about. He tries to get up but the basement swims around his head. It’s like being a goldfish in a bowl, everything curves back in on him and his legs buckle under him.

Buffy’s hand supports him in the small of his back and there’s something very comforting about that. Something isn’t quite right here but he can’t think what.

He presses his fingertips against his aching temples, trying to massage the headache out. It doesn’t work, because it isn’t a tension headache, obviously. Great. Next thing you know he’ll be Googling or doing complicated sums in his head.

His head still hurts. He needs a fag and booze, in that order. He inhales deeply from the cigarette that he discovers on his lower lip. Only when the smoke hits his lungs does he realize he never got out his cigarettes, or his lighter.

Buffy looks on, openmouthed.

“Could Willow do this?” he asks her.

“I don’t know. She didn’t smoke. She could float a pencil.”

“We’d better get on with it then, eh Buffy? ‘S not gonna get any more pleasant. ”

“Giles was the Mind. I thought…”

“Cut off his head?” he says helpfully.

“Yeah. I don’t know how to do the ritual thing, like with Willow and Xander. How do you share someone’s mind in a magic way?”

That’s easy. “Eat his brain, and just hope I don’t get mad cow disease.”

Buffy is apparently beyond the ‘ew’ he’d expect at this point. Well, he can certainly empathise with her. This must be hell.

“How long have they been like this?” he asks. “Since the night you tried to get into the Initiative and kill Adam?”

The night he ran off when he had enough of the fighting and judged it time to cut his losses. He doesn’t mention this, and neither does Buffy.

“Yeah,” she says. “I was all powered up with nowhere to go. We couldn’t find Adam.”

A silence falls. Not really uncomfortable, though. More like gathering courage for the next bit.

“Axe?” he asks, before he loses the last of his determination. They’re in it together now; they have to see it through.

He lifts the axe and takes it through its trajectory. He’s got to get it right in one stroke, he’s not going to get a second chance. The chip will blast him. He’s kind of curious to see if he’ll live, but he doesn’t really care. He lifts it again, balances his body on the balls of his feet and lets it descend. At the last moment, a high keening shriek comes from the throat of the man and the Slayer simultaneously, and she almost succeeds in diverting his blow. It lands sweet and true, however.

*

Spike wakes up to a rather unpleasant headache. “I say, Buffy, that washcloth would be very welcome right now. And a nice cuppa, as well.”

“Sorry, no power, no water,” Buffy says, but she’s back with the cloth quickly enough. “You should drink up Giles while he’s still warm.”

Still warm? That stirs him enough to prop himself up and he bends over the crepey neck. Not his preferred fare, he being a veal kind of guy, but it would be ridiculous to be dainty about it now. The blood tastes almost the same, after all. Not dusty or booky, just bloody. It’s a luxury problem anyway if you’re a good enough vampire to pick and choose your victim. Plenty of decent decades-old fellows making a living off the homeless and gormless.

The blood makes Spike feel better on the one hand, and queasy and too full on the other. It’s like he’s going to slosh over and spill half of it. He hides his face in his hands, trying to hide his weakness from Buffy. She comes to sit next to him and rubs his back, making soothing noises.

The silence becomes expectant. He raises his eyes to Buffy’s. She makes a grimace in the direction of Giles’ head. Right. Well. It can’t be worse than eating Harris’ heart, can it? Turns out it can. He has to cap the top of Giles’ head like a soft-boiled egg and eat his brains with a spoon. Buffy’s not looking. He understands; he’d rather not see this himself.

When it’s done and he can finally look in her in the eye he’s relieved to see that she’s looking well, not a trace of orange in her eyes. Things are not quite right, though. He knows what she’s going to say before she says it, how she’s going to flip her hair over her shoulder before she does it. She’s going to start talking about moving away from here.

“We should find another place to hole up, Spike. Adam can find this too easily. Your crypt?”

He’s shaking his head and saying, “No, he’s been in there before. Too risky.” Mentally he’s still processing the ‘we’ that rolls so easily from her lips. And he can feel himself agree with it too. Now she’s going to want to rescue Soldier boy. Not on his life, is the only thing he can say to that.

“We’re gonna rescue Riley. We could use him for our resistance movement.”

He ate a messenger girl for the French resistance once, and it gave him indigestion. Too stringy. The Jerries were much better fed, with thicker, richer blood.

“I saw him, love. He got chipped by his evil Mum surrogate. Him and his mate are probably all demoned up by now.

Buffy sets her face and crosses her arms. He touches the delicious pout with his finger and smiles.

“We’ll talk strategy and tactics later, Buffy. A new hideout and rest first. Do you, um, want to bury your friends? Don’t want them to fall prey to scavenger demons, do you?”

“You’re right,” Buffy says, stricken. ”They can be next to Mom and Tara.”

Joyce. The reminder of her death stings him again.

Buffy extends her hand to help him up and the moment he touches her the world goes to photo negative. Buffy’s hair is black against the stark glaring whiteness of the basement walls and he can feel the current move through their clasped hands.

“Whoa,” Buffy breathes. “Spike, your eyes are orange!”

He’s not in true face, he’s certain of that, but he checks with his hand anyway. Buffy’s hand crackles in his and her hair lifts of its own accord. They unclasp as by mutual decision and he sags when the power subsides.

“What the hell was that?”

“It was just like when we first did the enjoining spell,” Buffy says, awe still in her voice. “I could feel their power, and I felt like I could do anything.”

“Except kill Adam,” Spikes says practically.

“Hey! I’m sure I could have, if I’d been able to find him in time! But I didn’t, and then the power drain was too heavy on Giles and Willow and Xander.”

“So, now I have ingested their essences and I’m your walking talking undead power station?”

“You won’t get tired or run out of power, will you, Spike?”

He supposes not. If he gets enough blood, maybe a sip of Buffy now and then… he can go on a long time. In many ways.

Buffy hesitantly touches his hand again, and the power and the knowledge slot neatly back into place. Spike takes her other hand and the current doubles in intensity. He can feel himself charge up like a battery, and he hopes the gel in his hair is holding out. He doesn’t want to look like he’s wearing an exploded cauliflower on top of his head. On impulse he bends over and kisses Buffy. This closes other circuits which don’t go through his hand and head but through his guts and his cock. He shudders with the strength of the connection and wrenches loose. A few seconds more and he’d have come in his pants. Buffy touches her lips with her hand and looks at him with big scared eyes, heart going pitter pat and hormones zinging through her veins. Bless vampire perception.

“What was that? I didn’t have that with my friends.”

“I should hope not,” Spike says. “Giles is twice your age!”

“And you’re a spring chicken? Seriously, Spike, don’t do that again. I don’t wanna go there with you. I just wanna save Riley, and Sunnydale.”

Spike puts his hand on his heart and promises never to do this again. Yeah, right. A man needs some perks if he takes on a thankless job, doesn’t he? This creepy Slayer-Vampire mind meld may have vaulted them into the super plus power range, which is okay because they’ll get to kick a lot of ass, but no way is he going to leave the extra topping with sparkles on unexplored. Just you wait, Buffy Summers.

After the grave detail’s been handled they stride off in the direction of Kingman’s Bluff. Buffy figures the height will give them tactical advantage. A Gora demon slouching towards the Bronze doesn’t know what hits him, as he and the Slayer each yank out a heart in perfect unison, without missing a step.

 

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