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Pop Goes the Weasel by slaymesoftly
All For One and One For All
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Chapter Three
As they passed the area where they had originally fought the creatures, they stared around in dismay.
“We had to have killed more than twenty of them!  Where the hell did they go?”
“You go on, pet,” Spike said, stopping and sniffing. “Take the one in your hand inside and let me see if I can track them.”
“Spike, they were dead! Bitten or slashed in half, most of them.  They didn’t walk away!”
Without answering her, he began to sniff and prowl his way around the blood-soaked ground, growling softly under his breath.  Buffy shook her head and went into the community center, slamming the dead body down on a table with a thump.  Curious townspeople came up to stare at the body, one of them shouting and leaping back suddenly.
“What? What’s—” Buffy stared, as shocked as the frightened townsman. Before her eyes, parts of the animal began to fall off and disappear.  She slammed her hand down on a toe just as it started to fall off the table, pinning it until it dissolved into even smaller pieces that rolled to the floor and scattered.  The only sign of the dead body she’d brought in was the one tiny piece of flesh still pinned under her hand.
She was pinching it tightly, not sure if she could really feel it trying to escape or if it was her imagination that the small piece of tissue between her fingertips was squirming.  Spike came in, still growling under his breath and stopped to stare at her.
“Where the bloody hell is it?” he said, looking around. “And what are they doing?”
“Trying to catch more of the pieces it dissolved into,” she snapped back.
Moving with a speed the demons couldn’t match, Spike snatched up several pieces before they could escape from the room. One of the demon women timidly offered a jar and he thanked her with a smile that made her giggle and blush. Taking the jar he dropped his pieces in and quickly put the cover on.  He held it out to Buffy and she pinched the piece she was holding between her fingers and dropped it in.
They all watched with bemusement as the pieces scurried around for a while, then tried to reform, ending up in what looked like a lopsided toe.
“Well,” Spike finally broke the shocked silence. “I reckon that explains how they get in and out.”  He rubbed his hands together. “Now to figure out what can make them dead.”  Reaching into the jar, he pulled a piece of flesh free with one hand, bringing out his lighter with the other.  He dropped the tiny piece of flesh onto the flame and watched as it shriveled up and turned to ash. 
Buffy had been watching the jar and blinked when she saw that the other pieces were writhing around, although still intact.  When Spike had snapped the lighter closed, she brushed the tiny pile of ash from the table into the jar.  Everyone watched closely, but the ash remained ash and the other pieces reformed into a slighter smaller toe.
“Alright then. Fire works. Good to know. What else have we got?”
“Let’s start with that,” Buffy turned to George. “Do you have an incinerator or something?”
He shook his head.  “No, but we do have a pretty good size cooking pit. We could dig it out some more and keep a fire going all the time…” He raised his hands for quiet and outlined what they were going to need to do. As soon as he had volunteers to dig the pit deeper, and another set who promised to take shifts keeping the fire banked, he stared around at everyone else.  “Okay, folks, here’s the plan. If and when we think we’ve killed one of the little monsters, we toss it into the pit before it can fall apart and get away.  Those who are comfortable away from the village, you’ll be collecting firewood and piling it near the pit – but not until daylight.  I’d prefer at least one armed guard with any groups going out for wood.  Any questions?”
Buffy and Spike watched with admiration as the demons scurried around, preparing for what they hoped would be an end to the terror.  In no time they had the children tucked into beds in the community center, guards stationed at the doors, and other guards posted to protect the volunteers tending the fire pit.
The K’vleck were basically a very peaceful breed, spending their time mining for gems, growing their crops, and making the jewelry that they sold at monthly markets in the nearest city.  As a result, very few of the weapons in the village were actual weapons.  A few swords, some spears and bows and arrows owned by the hunters who no longer stayed in the woods but now lived in the village, and a couple of shotguns in the possession of what passed for a police department.
However, they did possess an abundance of axes, picks, shovels, and other digging instruments that they used in the mines, and those had proven very effective in repelling the vicious creatures.  More guards were posted around the village, but closer together and closer to the main building where everyone not assigned to the pit or guard duty was now crammed in for the night.
“Shouldn’t we be doing something besides just standing here watching?” Buffy said.  “I feel like they’re doing all the work.”
“It’s their lives, loves. They need to be doin’ the work. The more they can do for themselves, the better off they’ll be.”  He cocked an eyebrow at her. “Unless you were plannin’ to move here to act as the town’s resident guardian.”
She elbowed him in the side. “Very funny. I’m just saying, they asked us to do something about these… things… and all we’re doing is watching them do stuff.”
Spike smiled at her, his eyes crinkling in the corners as he whispered, “Not feeling like you’re earning your keep if you aren’t killing something, Slayer?”
“What? No! Not— Maybe?”
“Relax, pet,” he said, putting his arm around her and squeezing. “Nasty as those things are, I s’pect they’ll be back before long. And this time, we’ll be ready for them.  Got it all set up with George – there’ll be crews waiting whose only job is to snatch up the bodies and toss ‘em in the pit before they can escape.”
“I know.” She snuggled into his side, then straightened when she caught some of the villagers watching them and smiling at each other.  “But you know me, waiting around is just not my—”
Screams from the other end of the village interrupted her. She was sprinting before Spike could finish his, “Looks like we’re up again, Slayer…. Hey! Wait for me, you bloodthirsty little bint!” he added as he tried to catch her.
Spike, with his leather coat and gloves, took the lead in pulling the creatures off the guard they’d attacked, tossing them over his shoulder to the pit crew that had followed the Slayer as quickly as they could.  It was clear that the attackers were aware of the Slayer’s presence, as their numbers were much greater than the previous night, and they were popping up in several places at once.
Buffy’s head was pivoting back and forth between the creatures swarming in front of her and the screams and shouts coming from other places around the perimeter.  “I’ve got this, pet. You go. Thin the herd a bit and show our friends that the little buggers can be killed.”
Without reply, she ran toward the nearest shouts, decapitating as many as she could reach and encouraging the villagers to smash them in the head so as to stun them long enough to throw the bodies in the fire pit.  As soon as an area seemed to be under control, she would sprint to the next and repeat her actions.  The sight of Buffy wading into the snapping jaws and laying about with her sword was all it took to inspire the villagers, and their demon natures did the rest. 
She had gone almost all the way around the village before it occurred to her to wonder why she hadn’t yet encountered Spike coming the other way.  A deep guttural snarl from the woods and renewed screams from the villagers who had followed the retreating beasts sent her flying around the corner of a building to find Spike facing off against a creatures that was at least his size, and growing larger with every retreating smaller one.  As each weasel reached the big one, it would leap up and meld into its body almost immediately. 
“Stop them!” Buffy screamed at the villagers who were backing away in fear.  “Don’t let them get to it. It will just get bigger!”
Encouraged by the way Buffy placed herself between the retreating creatures and their obvious goal, the villagers regained their courage and began whacking at as many beasts as they could reach, knocking them out and tossing them to the pit crews for disposal. Using her sword almost like a scythe, Buffy was able to prevent intact weasels from getting past her, although she shuddered when she noticed an amputated leg fall apart and scramble toward its “mother” in several pieces.
She smiled when she saw one of Spike’s boots come smashing down onto one of the escaping pieces, then frowned as she saw his strip off the gloves that had been protecting his hands.  “What are you…?”
He turned to give her a fangy grin, having removed the gloves to use his own claws to rend and tear the bodies. He seemed to have his own crew of parts collectors, young demons who braved the retreating weasels and the proximity to the now-roaring leader to scoop up the parts and throw them into heavy canvas bags. When a bag became too full, or it seemed that the angry creatures inside had regrouped and were going to tear their way out, that crew member would run to the fire pit, dump his squirming, snarling cargo into it and run back to pick up more parts.
As the number of creatures able to retreat to their source dwindled, it turned its attention to the two beings that, moving with a swiftness that the demon villagers couldn’t match, were still killing its offspring in large numbers. Ignoring Buffy and her sword, it turned its attention to the yellow-eyed demon ripping and tearing with such obvious elation.

With a snarl that sent what few creatures were left scurrying into the woods behind it, the fearsome beast focused its eyes on Spike. Too wrapped up in the joy of having let his demon out completely, Spike was beyond using common sense. While Buffy shrieked at him to come back, he leapt toward the advancing monster, roaring his own challenge.

There was a blur of motion, and then the two snarling demons were rolling around and trying to disembowel one another. Giving thanks for the heavy cowhide in Spike’s coat, Buffy handed her sword to George and ran to the fire pit. She gestured for Spike’s pit crew to follow her, reaching into the pit and pulling out a burning piece of wood. As soon as they realized what she was doing, the young demons began grabbing their own torches.

Buffy ran back to where Spike was clearly getting the worst of his ill-thought-out challenge to the much larger and stronger creature. Instructing the crew to be sure they avoided touching Spike with the fire, she hovered over the combatants, poking the weasel-demon with her torch every time she felt she could safely do so without having to worry about setting Spike on fire.

When she could see that Spike was tiring, and that he’d lost much too much blood for her comfort, she signaled George to give back her sword, handing him the torch in its place.

“Anything I throw out, you set fire to,” she growled, moving toward the creature that was turning its attention from Spike’s inert body to her. “Got it?”

“Go get ‘im, Slayer,” Spike croaked through blood-soaked lips. “Think I softened it up for you.”

“Idiot,” she snapped. “Get out of here.” As she spoke, the beast dropped Spike’s body and turned to face Buffy. Buffy, however, had already moved, darting behind the creature and slicing off its tail. One of the young demons followed her in and quickly set fire to the amputated part before it could rejoin its fellows. He yelled in triumph, then retreated with a cry when the demon-weasel whirled and gouged him with one of its claws.

“Stay back and just take what I throw you,” Buffy instructed, studying the creature’s speed and deciding that she could match it easily. Settling herself in for a long, tedious battle, Buffy danced around the snarling beast, slicing off parts whenever she got a chance. The smaller the creature got, the easier it was to reach it with the sword without risking an encounter with its teeth or nails. The younger, more agile villagers set their torches to each body part, cheering when they went up in flames and turned quickly to ashes.

By the time the beast had realized what was happening to it and tried to fall apart into individual small weasels that could escape in different direction, it was too late. It had been surrounded by vengeance-seeking villagers who were setting fire to each piece as quickly as Buffy, still waging a now-one-sided war against it, cut them free. Behind the actual combat area, other villagers were making sweeping motions with their own firebrands, scorching the ground and ensuring that no parts too small or fast to catch were able to make it to the woods.

Buffy put her sword down and paused to catch her breath, watching for a minute. When it became obvious that the villagers had the situation well under control, she turned her attention to the bloodied vampire leaning against the side of the nearest building. The little girl they’d met when they first arrived was staring at him while her mother, who’d dragged Spike away from the dangerous torches, hovered with indecision. The little girl gave no sign of fear as she studied Spike’s demon-face, touching his fangs and claws with her fingers. Finally satisfied, she nodded.

“You beat it up,” she said. “You beat it up for me.”

Spike grinned at her and reached a bloody hand toward her head before he thought better of it. “That I did, luv. Gave it a good arse-kicking, I did.”

The mother looked up as Buffy approached. “I dragged him away from the fire, but he wouldn’t go inside. I don’t know what else to do for him. My mother’s a healer; I could get her for you…”

“You did great,” Buffy assured her. “Thanks. It would have been a lot harder to do what I needed to do if I’d had to worry that he was going to accidentally go up in flames before we were done.” She knelt down next to Spike and tried to hide her fear behind banter.

“Is this one of those times when you’re going to tell me I ought to ‘see the other guy’? Cause, I’m thinking the other guy… well, okay, the other guy is mostly ashes now, but…”

“But you’re the one who really kicked its arse. Know that, love. Appreciate the rescue. Think I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew this time…” It was as close as he was willing to come to admitting that she’d saved his life.

The little demon girl tugged on Buffy’s arm. “What’s wrong with him? Why doesn’t he get up?”

“He’ll be okay,” Buffy assured her, meeting her mother’s gaze and moving her head in the direction of the building. “Why don’t you go inside and we’ll join you there as soon as I get him fixed up. ‘K?”

Somewhat reluctantly, she allowed her mother to take her hand and pull her into the building where all but a small crew of vigilant guards with torches were celebrating the victory.

Buffy looked around, but no one was paying much attention to them.

“Here, take enough for now and I’ll get the other stuff out of the car,” she whispered, holding out her arm.

“Just get me my blood from the trunk,” he said, dropping a kiss on the offered wrist. “It’ll do me till we get home.”

“Spike, you’re a mess and practically drained….”

“No need to take a chance on anyone here seeing anything they don’t need to. Bring me my blood and I’ll be fine. Or close enough to it to drive you home, anyway.”

Giving him a glare that managed to look angry and worried at the same time, Buffy ran to the car and took out the remaining packets of blood. She’d long since gotten over her insistence that Spike stick to pigs blood from the butcher – even though it was a staple in their freezer. When they were going into a fight, she always brought the willingly-donated human blood that he could purchase at Winterset’s demon stores.

If we were smart, we’d put away some of my blood to have handy for situations like this. Kinda like how Dawn saves little vials of her blood to use when she needs to make a portal.

Putting away that thought for later, she ran back to where Spike was talking to a worried-looking George. The demon glanced up as Buffy arrived, asking, “Is he as badly injured as he looks? We don’t have a doctor here, but we have an excellent healer.”

Buffy bit her lip as they both ignored Spike’s muttered, “Don’t need a bloody doctor.”

“I think somebody’s getting her. Once he gets some of this blood into him, I think he’ll be okay, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a professional opinion. Shut up, Spike,” she added as he tried to object. “Just drink this.” She shoved the first packet into his hands, pleased to see that his fangs dropped immediately as he ripped it open.

“Let’s get him someplace safer than this – just in case they come back.”

George signaled to one of the young demons that had been part of Spike’s crew and the two large men picked Spike up and carried him into the community center. They deposited him on a cot near a back wall. There were shocked gasps from the people who hadn’t seen the battle when Spike’s battered and bleeding body was carried through their midst. As Buffy joined him and handed him another packet of blood, they began to applaud until the whole room was cheering and clapping for the embarrassed slayer and her mate.

Spike grinned and waved, nudging Buffy. “Come on, love. Give them one of those cheerleader smiles. You know the other Buffy never got anything like this. Be grateful we live where we do – where they know how to appreciate a hero.”

“It’s embarrassing,” she hissed at him. “And besides, you’re smiling enough for both of us.”

The healer approached quietly, waiting until the couple had stopped talking before introducing herself as Eilene. She was trailed by her granddaughter who, she explained, was very worried about Spike. The small demon stared at Spike with big eyes and a trembling lip.

“It hurt you,” she said, watching while her grandmother removed Spike’s shredded coat and began to study his wounds with a critical eye. The smaller ones were already starting to close, but the larger gouges in his back and sides were still oozing blood.

“It did, luv. But not to worry. Old Spike is tough. I’ll be right as rain in no time.”

“Nana’s going to fix you,” she stated with the confidence of a child. “That’s what she does, she fixes people.”

Eilene brought out a jar of salve and smoothed it over the worst of the wounds on Spike’s back and sides. She handed the jar to Buffy, saying, “Perhaps you should do the rest.”

Blushing, Buffy nodded and began to slather the ointment on the ripped skin across Spike’s stomach and onto the visible wounds under his ripped and torn jeans. It was a sign of how badly he was injured that, in spite of his attempts to seem strong, he had no leering remarks to make about where her hands were going, or what else she could do with them while they were there. Frowning, Buffy handed the jar back and reached for another packet of blood.

“That’s probably the best thing for him.” Eilene nodded in approval as Spike began to gulp from the bag. She bandaged the deepest of his wounds, leaving the others to close up by themselves. “You should stay here tonight, though. He can’t drive. He’ll need all his strength to heal.”

Buffy nodded. “That’s fine. We should stay longer anyway. We didn’t get all the small ones. Some made it into the woods and if they get together….”

“They’ll make another big one,” George finished for her.

“Yeah, probably so.” Buffy looked apologetic. “We should probably try to find them before they can do that. Or before they can reproduce and make more of themselves.” She yawned, then shrugged, embarrassed to have been caught.

“You and your… Spike… need to rest and recover.” He motioned for some onlookers to bring another cot over closer to Spike’s. “You’ll stay here for the rest of the night. We’ll worry about the ones that escaped tomorrow.” He shooed away everyone except the healer and her granddaughter, giving Buffy and Spike as much privacy as they could get in a big building full of people.

“Don’t let anybody go home yet,” Spike said, his voice muffled by the new bag of blood he was tearing open. “Might not be safe.”

George nodded at him. “Way ahead of you,” he said. “The only people outside are those keeping the fire going and guards with swords and torches. If they come back, we’re ready for them and we know what to do.”

“We’ll get ‘em tomorrow…” Spike’s voice trailed off as his eyes shut. Buffy caught the now-empty bag just before it hit the floor. Her eyes met Eilene’s and the healer smiled reassuringly. “Sleep will be good for him. His body is shutting down any unnecessary activity while it works on healing. I think we’ve stopped the bleeding, so the rest of the blood he takes in should stay where it needs to be.”

“When he wakes up, I’ll see that he gets more,” Buffy said. “That was the last of what we brought with us, but I’ll give him more.”

The woman blinked at her, a frown creasing her brow. “You’ve fought hard too. You shouldn’t weaken yourself by feeding a vampire. Surely we can find other blood for him? Even ours might—”

Buffy smiled at her. “It’s okay. My blood is… different. It won’t take much to make him feel a whole lot better. And he won’t take enough to weaken me. Even if he did, I recover a… a little bit faster than most humans would.”

The healer looked at the already closed scratches on Buffy’s face and nodded. Buffy could almost see Eilene mentally adding the new information to her store of knowledge. They looked at each other, sharing a moment of honest communication, before the older woman smiled.

“Well, you’ll know what’s best for each other, I’m sure. Have a good rest.”
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