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A Very Strange Vampire by slaymesoftly
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Spike’s hand over her mouth prevented Buffy from whispering anything else, as he pulled them away from the vent and flat on the floor. Buffy followed his lead, remaining completely immobile and holding her breath while they waited to hear if she’d been heard. Fortunately, the removal of the gag had increased the volume of the subject’s snarls to the point that no one was listening for any other sounds.  Staying completely flat and silent, they edged back until they could once again see into the room below. Once the restraints were off the vampire, he shook his head and glared around the room before launching himself at the doctor. Unperturbed, she stood still and watched as he fell to the ground, screaming and clutching his head.  She allowed him to get to his feet and try a few more times before nodding with satisfaction. 
“Job well done,” she said, turning away. The operated-on vampire remained on the floor, holding his head, his yellow eyes glaring his fear and hatred at her. “Put him away. We’ll start the training tomorrow.”
“You’re going to use him?” one of the men in lab coats asked as he yanked the vampire to his feet.
“He’ll do until Agent Finn’s squad locates the hostile that they have assured me is so much stronger than this one.  Once we have him, I’ll remove the chip and install it in the new subject.”
Fearing that Spike, who was now biting his own wrist to muffle his snarls, was about to dive through the vent and get them both killed or captured, Buffy rolled on top of him and used her weight to try to hold him still.  The body under hers was so rigid she wondered if vampires could pull muscles from clenching them too tightly. She put her hands over his, rubbing gently in an attempt to soothe him. Gradually, she felt his back loosen up and he relaxed under her. 
In the meantime, the room below seemed to be empty, the doctor having walked out leaving the two attendants to drag the unresisting vampire out of their view. 
“I’m alright, Slayer. Let me go.”
With a final squeeze, Buffy released his hands and rolled off to lie beside him.  Spike licked his bleeding wrist, taking deep, unnecessary breaths.  They lay quietly, side-by-side for several minutes, absorbing what they’d just seen.
“I promise,” Buffy whispered, turning her head to speak.  “I promise, Spike.”
“Ta, luv. Know that’s not your style.”  He raised his head and turned to meet her gaze, their faces only inches apart. “Guess it’s just as well you’ve got that ring instead of me. Got no desire to spend eternity finding out what they mean by ‘training’.”
“We need to get out of here. I want to tell Giles about this place.”
“I’m right behind you, Slayer,” he said getting to his hands and knees again.
“Fat chance,” she snorted. “I’ll dust you if I have to so you don’t end up in that place, but that doesn’t mean you get to crawl behind me watching my ass till we get out of here.”
He gave an exaggerated sigh, but she could hear the amusement in his voice. “You’re no fun.”  As he moved to get in front of her, he murmured in her ear, “It’s a very watchable arse, you know.”
“And don’t you forget it,” she said with a smile he couldn’t see.
His, “Not likely, luv. Not likely at all,” floated back to her as he began crawling rapidly back the way they’d come.  When they got to where they’d entered the ducts, they stopped and debated the merits of knowing the way out versus following the air ducts in hopes of being farther away from any random squads of soldiers before emerging.
“We’ve got a better shot at fighting them if we’ve got room to maneuver,” he said.  “But if we’re down there, we’ve got nowhere to hide.”
“Yeah, but we don’t know where this goes. What if we end up right back under the campus?”
“Soon’s we see dirt under us, we’ll know it’s time to bail out, Slayer. We know how far we came before we had to jump up here – anyway, I can kind of tell where we are – relative to other things. We’re going north now, and that’s the way back to the tunnels.”
“Huh, my own personal growly compass. How about that?”
“Not anybody’s bloody anything, Slayer.” Spike’s voice had lost the warm tone she’d been becoming used to. “Not yours or any other human’s.”
“Sorry,” she surprised them both by saying. She shocked herself more by putting a sympathetic hand on his arm. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.  I wouldn’t—”
He sighed and covered her hand with his own, patting it. “I know you didn’t mean it like that. I’m just feeling a mite touchy about the idea of being used. I’ll get over it.” There was an awkward pause while his hand remained on hers and she wasn’t sure if she should move her hand first. Buffy could feel the muscles bunching under her hand and unconsciously squeezed them. Spike’s thumb was gently stroking the side of her hand.  They both froze as they realized what they were doing. Before the situation became any more uncomfortable, Spike snorted and said, “On a count of three, we both let go, right?”
Buffy giggled softly. “ ‘K”
Counting together, they got to three and snatched their hands back. Spike tried to stick his in his pockets, but it was too awkward to do that while he was sitting down, so he settled for putting them behind his back.  Buffy crossed her arms across her chest, sticking her hands in her armpits. There was an awkward silence as they avoided making eye contact.
“We should go,” Buffy said finally, beginning to crawl off. Too late, she remembered why she hadn’t wanted Spike to be behind her, but he kept a respectful distance between them and she couldn’t think of a good reason to ask to switch. Not until they ran out of light from the tunnels, did she stop and ask Spike to change places with her.  He squeezed past with minimal touching and set off immediately. When the air duct widened and got taller, then ended abruptly in a large intake vent that opened to a wooded area, they stopped, stood up, and stared out past the slowly turning fan that filled the opening.
“I can’t see anything,” Buffy complained, barely able to see the fan in the moonlight from outside.  She started forward, but Spike pulled her back.
“Don’t try to walk through that Slayer. Just cause you have the Gem doesn’t mean you can’t get chopped into little bitty pieces.”
“Well, how are we going to do this?” She crouched down, trying to gauge how fast the blades were moving.  “I think we can roll under it.  One at a time.”
He crouched beside her, then nodded. “That’ll work. You first, Slayer.”
“Here I go.” Crouching so close to the blades that she could feel them brush just past her face, she counted to herself until she was satisfied that she knew how much time she would have. As soon as the next blade began its climb, Buffy dove under the fan, snatching her feet up as she rolled out onto the grass.  She turned around, but couldn’t see Spike in the darkness behind the fan. It wasn’t until he rolled out and collided with her that his blond hair caught the moonlight.
“Oops?” Buffy said as he started cursing and growling.  She moved so he could get away from the still turning blades that were just brushing against his boots.  “Sorry. I didn’t know you were going to be that close behind me. Are you okay?”
“Will be after I’ve counted all my body parts,” he growled, pulling his coat away from the fan. 
“I said I was sorry!  I didn’t know you would be right behind me.”
“Did you think I wanted to stay there one second longer than I had to?” he muttered as he crawled toward her and stretched out on the ground.
“No, I guess not.” She cocked her head at him, now able to see him lying next to her.  “I think we’d better get out of here and find Giles.”  He turned his head to the side and looked up at her.
“What’s your hurry?” He waved his hand around. “We’re safe now. There’s a moon. The ground is comfy...”
“You’d better not be going where I think you are with that line of thought,” she said, hoping he couldn’t see her blushing.
“I was just thinking it was a nice place to rest up for a few minutes. Don’t know where your mind went, Slayer, but if that’s where you want to go, I’m right there with—”
“Me? What? I never... no. There was no going... anyplace.”  When she saw his body shaking with laughter, she slapped him on the chest. “I hate you,” she said, slapping him again for good measure.
Still laughing, he grabbed her hand and held it. “No you don’t. You don’t hate me.”
“Of course I do. We hate each other. It’s what we do.” When he continued to hold her hand, once again moving his thumb against her wrist, she said less emphatically, “Don’t we?”
“If you say so, luv.” He sighed, getting to his feet and tugging on her hand to help her up.
“I say so.”  She took her hand away and looked around the tiny clearing in front of the still turning fan.  “Which way to town, compass person?”
He sniffed the air, turning from one direction to another, then began walking through the trees. “This way. Watch the roots. It’s dark in here.”
Tripping along behind him and muttering to herself, Buffy said, “Why am I always following you places I can’t see? Dammit!” She limped for a few minutes on the ankle she’d twisted, grateful for the Gem when the pain was soon gone and her ankle was fine again.  “Wow,” she whispered to herself, forgetting that Spike’s hearing would have allowed him to hear the changes in her gait.
“Yeah,” he said, his voice tight. “It’s pretty amazing, innit?” Increasing his pace, he got so far ahead she had to run to keep up.
“Spike... I...”
“Save it, Slayer. You’ve got it, I don’t.”
They didn’t speak again until the reached the end of the woods and oriented themselves. Still without talking, Spike strode off in the direction of Giles’s apartment complex.
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