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Started for Seasonal Spuffy on LJ. Set post Buffy S7 and Angel S5. Vague in the extreme spoilers for the Buffy S8 comics (as in I’ve read them and suspect a few details have influenced some things in the story but no huge plot points for the comics are given away).
Chapter 1: What Had You Heard
The headlights of the cab cut through the darkness of the city streets, reflecting off the rain slicked pavement. The cab driver, an older man, his face heavily etched by life, glanced at the woman’s reflection in the rear view mirror, trying to make eye contact. She was young, probably early twenties, but she didn’t have the look of the usual star-struck type he often picked up at the airport, the bright-eyed girls going to make it big.
No, this one was a little plump, with mousy hair falling around her slightly rounded face, the antithesis of the blonde and skinny starlets-to-be. Her face was tired and drawn as she’d slid into the cab, and handed him an address, and there was a sorrow in her eyes that sent a surge of sympathy through him as she’d settled in the backseat. His wife always said he was too curious about his passengers by far, but this one, this one, he was more than a little worried for.
“You sure you wanna be going down here this late at night, miss? Since that earthquake last year, lot of businesses have closed down, people moved out.” He lowered his voice a little. “People see some strange things down here, dangerous things.”
Her gaze pulled from the window, her focus sharp on him for the first time since she’d gotten in and handed him the address. “What kind of things?”
He slowed the car as a stop light turned from yellow to red and half turned. “You know, just . . .” He fumbled for words for a minute, then shrugged. “People go missing, get hurt. Probably gangs, drugs, that sort of thing. But it’s a bad area, miss. And this place?” He waved the slip of paper with the hastily scrawled address on it. “The Hyperion, it’s just an empty building, it’s not really a hotel now.”
“I know,” she nodded. “Is it much further?”
The light had changed and he let the car roll forward. “No, not much further now.”
She turned back to the window and he drove on.
She could see why the cab driver was concerned as the blocks continued to fall away and they drew closer to the address she’d given him. Before, they’d passed blocks filled with crowded bars and clubs, people out on a Friday evening, some already in costume celebrating Halloween a few days early.
The streets were nearly deserted in this part of town. The buildings were mostly undamaged from the earthquake, but there was a hopelessness to the many boarded up windows that shuttered the area, advertising their abandonment.
Just the sort of place a vampire might nest.
She leaned her head back for a minute, closing her eyes. Her body ached; she was so tired. She hadn’t slept, not really slept for two or three days now, not since that night in London . . .
She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Maybe she should have crashed, waited until daylight to come here after she’d rested, made a plan. The Hyperion was probably a dead end anyway. But she had to start somewhere.
And she doubted she would have slept anyway. Not until she knew for sure.
“It’s the next block up, miss, that building right up there.”
She started to lean forward as he slowed, when a movement in the side street caught her eye, a couple staggering drunkenly up the alley together.
The cabbie continued, “Was a beauty back in its day, all kind of notables stayed there. Course that was years ago, back when this area-”
“I’ll just get out here,” she interrupted, grabbing the bills she’d counted out and thrusting them over the seat. “Thank you.”
“You want me to wait?” he began, but she’d already flung open the door and jumped out before he could even come to a complete stop. She was gone around the corner into the alley, vanished.
He idled for a moment, wondering if he should wait for the sad-eyed little girl, but a movement of a figure up ahead and a flash of eyes that weren’t quite human had him gunning the motor and pulling away. He’d circle the block, but if she wasn’t back soon, well, he’d tried to warn her.
She turned the corner behind the hulk of the Hyperion that blocked out what little moonlight there was slicing through the shifting clouds, and gave her eyes a moment to adjust as she reached for the wooden stake she’d tucked inside her dark jacket. No bright colors, nothing to attract attention. She was here for one simple purpose only and the sooner it was done . . .
The air was crisp from the recent rain, but she couldn’t blame it for the shiver that ran through her as she took a deep breath to steady her nerves and started down the alleyway.
She tightened her grip, the feel of the smooth wood in her hands somehow not a comfort. The last vamp she’d dusted had seen to that. She closed her eyes at the memory she couldn't shake.
“Wait, I have information you’ll want, if you’ll let me go, Slayer.”
She rolled her eyes. Even the newest Slayers had heard that one before. She reached for her stake, ready to sink it in as he scrabbled harder against the wall, his beady yellow eyes flooded with fear, and raised an eyebrow without loosening her grip.
“So talk already.”
“Okay, okay,” he wheezed against her chokehold. “The Master’s line rising again, going to take back Los Angeles.”
“Drusilla and Spike.”
Her fingers tightened around his neck, pinning him more firmly as she pressed the stake into the soft flesh over his heart. “Everyone knows Spike’s dead. Tell me another one.”
The vamp struggled harder. “No, it’s true.” She eased back a fraction as he babbled on. “Maybe she brought him back, I don’t know, but they say it’s really him, William the Bloody.” Even with a Slayer’s stake pressed to his chest, she could hear the worshipful tone. “They, they say the city’s wide open now, after last year, that Wolfram and Hart debacle, word’s out that he’s recruiting, building an army. Gonna be the Master of LA, I reckon. I could-”
He’d lunged then, trying to twist away and the stake had slid home by reflex, leaving her with a pile of dust and unanswered questions.
Her instincts had been right about the couple. She was close enough to hear the sounds of a struggle, the girl’s pleading plaintive as she begged for her life over the low snarl of a vampire.
“Please, please, I’ll do whatever. Just don’t, don’t kill me, Spike.”
Spike. She froze, her blood running cold for a minute as the girl’s voice broke into a whimper. He was really here. How was that even possible? She shoved analysis to the side as a loud roar echoed against the brick, spurring her into action.
She broke into a run and turned the corner of the alley, skidding to a stop at the unexpected sight of not one, but two vampires facing off and circling. In the dim light, they appeared as mirror images, feral yellow eyes glowing, clad in a swirl of black leather topped with a shock of blindingly white hair.
Oh yeah, Spike was really here all right. Times two.
She wondered if it was possible for her brain to explode. She wasn’t prepared for this.
She stepped back into the shadow of the wall, barely registering the crying girl that was crawling towards her, unable to stop staring. It was almost unreal, the dance before her, as one of the vampires moved forward in a graceful lunge and the other parried, their bodies locking in a desperate struggle until one gained the upper hand and hurled the other body into the brick wall.
She was momentarily distracted by the girl who’d finally reached her. Up close, under the heavy eyeliner, it was easier to see how young she was, tears leaving tracks on her mascara-smeared cheeks, her blond hair ratted and tangled.
“Please, help me,” she begged.
She helped the trembling girl to her feet, trying to summon some sympathy, remember her own self at sixteen. “What happened?”
The girl seemed on the verge of hyperventilating, her breaths coming sharp and fast before the words suddenly began tumbling out. “He seemed so nice and he bought me drinks, and he said was gonna walk me home and then I thought he just wanted to, you know, but then he turned into some kind of monster, and tried to bite me. Then that other one showed up and pulled him off of me-” The girl glanced back, shivering at the vampires who continued to fight, and burst into tears again, her hand rubbing at the shallow bite on her neck.
She pulled the girl’s hand away from her wound and looked it over. “It’ll be fine, you’ll heal. Run back to the street. There was a cab there, maybe he’s still waiting.” She held the girl’s arm for a moment, forcing her to meet her eyes. “And don’t go in dark alleys with strange men. They’re not always what they seem. Even when they aren’t these kind of monsters.”
The girl nodded, whimpering, and fled.
She turned back again, riveted by the still raging battle. One of the vampires had clearly gained the upper hand, pinning the other, demanding something in a low growl she couldn’t quite make out. The other vampire sneered, his eyes flashing as he spat something and bashed his head against the other vamp’s skull, using the momentary surprise to twist and run towards a metal fire escape bolted to the wall at the end of the alley.
She was about to join in the chase when the other Spike leaped forward with a howl and dragged him down, a flash of stake leaving the alley populated with just two now as he slumped forward, bracing himself on his knees while he wiped away the blood that dripped from his nose.
One Spike. Who had just staked the other. Maybe her head had already exploded. So much for simple.
He fumbled in his pockets and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, his still vamped face illuminated by the flicker of his lighter. He took a deep drag as the tip caught and glowed. She watched as his eyes closed in relief.
She waited a half second and then stepped out of the shadows, her hands coming together in a slow clap around her stake. “Nice work.”
He straightened, startled, his head swiveling to look her up and down, taking in the stake at the ready. He shook his head. “Not exactly the place for little girls, even if they are playing at Slayer. Who the hell might you be?”
She opened her mouth to speak just as his nostrils flared and she watched the vampire recede, yellow eyes fading to blue as recognition bloomed across his face. “Buffy?”
Damn vampires with their overdeveloped sense of smell. She caught her breath as that thought tumbled over again. Only one vampire would know Buffy smell. Only one Spike. Her Spike. She wondered at her own weirdness as a tiny bit of warmth blossomed inside her for the first time in days. She muttered the words that caused the glamour to fall away and stepped forward into the moonlight.
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