Storm Warning by Lilachigh
Chapter 13 Hope for the Best
Spike watched as Buffy carefully replaced the receiver back on its rest, knowing full well that what she really wanted to do was pick up the phone and hurl it through the nearest window. “Well?”
“Still no reply. You’d think someone would be there at this time of night.”
“Odd way of running a business. Wesley and Cordelia are still with him, I suppose. Or perhaps they’ve realised what a lost cause he is and gone their separate ways.”
Buffy frowned. It hadn’t been that long ago, when Willow had called her back to life - huh! some life - and she had raced up to Los Angeles to see Angel. She couldn’t remember much about their meeting - all her actions in those early days had been erased by the sensations that consumed her now with Spike.
“I expect they’re busy. I mean it’s a big town and they run some sort of agency, don’t they.” Willow spoke swiftly, trying to make amends for not keeping a better eye on Dawn. “Buffy, listen, I can do a trace spell, easy as anything. It will show me where she is; I can track her and this demon girl she’s with.”
Buffy could hear the eagerness, the desire, creeping into her friend’s voice. She was almost trembling with wanting - not just to find Dawn, but to use magic, to succumb to the bliss of power once more. “Thanks, Will, but I don’t think we need to go down that road just yet. You never know with magics. It might...well, it might show other demons where they are. Sort of spot-light them.”
Spike tossed the car keys up and down. “Look, pet, there’s no point in waiting to catch Mr Pouffy Hair when he finally gets home from his night on the town. We can be in Los Angeles looking for Dawn ourselves.”
She nodded. “You’re right. Willow, if she comes back before us, - well, lock her in her room! Or sit on her! Just don’t let her wander off somewhere else. Give me a minute,Spike. I need a jacket.”
Willow glanced across at the vampire as Buffy raced upstairs, two at a time. “This Lynfra demon girl,” she began. “Does Buffy know...”
Spike raised an eyebrow at her. “She knows that Mumma Lynfra is about to pull Sunnydale apart if we don’t get her beloved Eriddny home.”
“And she’s a teenager, like Dawn?”
“She was a cute kid when we first met her, but they grow up much faster than humans.”
Willow nibbled at the skin round her thumb. “How much do you know about Lynfras.”
Spike shrugged. “I can chat to them a bit in their lingo. Met a few, fought a few, killed a few. Touching a human can kill them but that doesn’t stop them fighting if they need to protect their nest or their nestlings. They’ve got these dirty great claws, so they can kill you without you touching their skin.”
“Lynfras are one of the demons Giles made me study when Glory was around. Buffy needs to know....”
“What does Buffy need to know?” The Slayer’s voice was sharp from the stairs above them.
“As they turn into adults, there’s a sort of....sort of thing that happens to them. It’s the final step from childhood.”
Spike frowned. “I’ve never heard of that. What happens?”
“I don’t know the details. No one does. It’s a very private Lynfra secret. But one thing I did learn from all Giles‘ books - when it happens they fly into a sort of rage and destroy everything around them. Lynfras have special nests in special caves where their youngsters stay until the time passes.”
“Oh just great. Now Dawn’s not only with a demon teenager but a demon teenager who might well turn into a killing machine at any time. And apart from all that, did you enjoy the show, Mrs Lincoln?”
Flinging open the front door, Spike ushered Buffy towards the car. “Hope for the best, plan for the worst, Slayer. Works for me.”
They drove in silence for a while, then Spike said, “So - seeing Angel again. That’ll be fun for you. Do you miss him?”
Buffy sighed. “No - do you?”
The silence between them went on too long. Spike thumped his boot down on the gas and swerved round a truck, throwing Buffy hard against him. “That’s an odd thing to ask, Slayer. Why should I miss him? He was your lover, not mine.” And wondered why he was lying.
“That was a very long time ago. I was very young.”
“Yeah, and you’re ancient now, of course!”
“Slow down! You’ll get pulled over by the police. I want to get to L.A. in one piece.”
Spike fought the temptation to push the car to its limits and slowed down a little. “So, I’ll make myself scarce when we get there. Leave you two to your reunion.”
“We’re asking for his help to find Dawn, not exchange memories of the good old days when he became Angelus!”
“Does he know about us?”
Spike sighed. The tone of her voice told him all he needed to know. “OK, so he doesn’t. And I take it you don’t want him to know.”
Buffy felt a wave of something very close to shame flood through her. “There is no “us”, Spike. Angel will guess we’re friends. What I do with my life is none of his business.”
The vampire fell silent, forcing himself not to glance sideways at her stricken face. The Slayer was lying. It was quite obvious to him that Buffy wanted nothing more than for her life to be Angel’s business. He gazed down the highway unrolling before them, the headlights cutting twin white slashes through the dark . Dawn had unleashed all sorts of problems tonight and catching Buffy out in a lie was only one of them. Because he’d lied, too. He hated Angel, of course he did, but.....miss him? Some memories could never be completely destroyed, no matter how hard he tried.
Miles away in a dark, run-down area of L.A, Dawn was trying very hard to enjoy herself. She pushed aside the little voice inside her head that wished she was home safe in bed. This was her big adventure, her chance to show Buffy that she was almost grown up, that she could cope with life on her own, experience things that her sister seemed determined to stop her seeing. So yes, she was trying very hard....
At first it had been fun. She and Eriddny had clambered up into the back of a big truck that had unloaded in the mall warehouse. There were empty cardboard boxes and packing material to curl up on so the journey hadn’t been that uncomfortable. Somehow the food and drink they’d brought with them hadn’t lasted long and finally they’d dozed as the truck trundled along the highway towards Los Angeles.
It had even been quite fun when it had stopped and they’d cautiously jumped out. Then, well, was this Los Angeles? Where were the shops, the traffic, the excitement, the hustle and bustle of a great city? The truck parking lot had seemed very cold and unfriendly, surrounded by tall warehouses and old office blocks. The street lights were few and far between and the dark alleyways between the buildings smelt foul and disgusting.
They walked for several blocks, but although Dawn was quite sure there were people and demons in doorways and dark areas, the sight of Eriddny seemed to keep them silent and no one approached them.
“Where is everyone?” Eriddny said crossly. “This place is dead. Drearyville. Worse than Sunnydale. We’re wasting our time. Wish we’d never come.”
“Well, it’s quite late, I suppose. Long past midnight.” Dawn rubbed her wrist, remembering that her watch was still in the bathroom where she’d taken it off before having a shower. “It’ll be better in the morning.”
“Wonder where all the night-clubs are? They’ll still be open. There’s sure to be a demon bar. We can get a drink. I’m thirsty.”
Dawn swallowed hard: she was thirsty, too, but somehow she didn’t think the sort of place Eriddny wanted to find would sell hot chocolate. Of course, that was a very childish drink, one she only drank because Buffy made it for her, like their mom used to do. But mom was gone and with her all desire for hot chocolate.
Dawn was quite certain that she looked at least eighteen when she was dressed up, but somehow her hair had lost it’s careful style and she was worried that the black eye-liner she’d started to use recently, might have got smudged across her face during the truck ride. And without any doubt, she knew she didn’t look old enough to drink alcohol! Although perhaps here in L.A. they weren’t as fussy about things like that as they were in the Bronze.
“A night-club? Is that what you want to do?”
Eriddny kicked moodily at an empty can, sending it crashing against a wall. She felt odd and didn’t know why. Not ill, exactly, but irritable and itchy, as if her purple fur was growing too fast for her skin. “I suppose you’re going to say you don’t like beer?”
Dawn, who privately thought beer tasted foul, crossed her fingers behind her back and lied. “No way. Beer’s great. My friend Xander drinks it all the time. We’re always sharing a bottle or two.”
“Does your sister drink it?”
Dawn hesitated. She knew from odd remarks that Xander and Willow had made over the years that beer and Buffy didn’t mix very well, but out of a weird sort of loyalty, she didn’t want to admit this to Eriddny, who obviously thought everyone should be able to consume vast quantities when they went out clubbing. “Well, she likes it, of course, but she has to keep a clear head, what with the Slaying and everything.”
“Bet your sexy vampire friend drinks a lot.”
Dawn felt her cheeks growing hot - the words sexy and Spike linked together brought all sorts of pictures into her mind of him with Buffy. Not that she’d ever seen them like that, of course, but sometimes when she woke in the night, scared and lost and wanting a mom who would never comfort her again, she could hear - well, noises - from Buffy’s room and she knew exactly what was going on, even if she couldn’t quite picture it clearly. And the sounds didn’t make her feel safe and secure: they made her feel shut out, excluded, lonely. Spike had been her friend, once upon a time. Now he was Buffy’s, although she had the feeling that friend was the wrong word.
“Whisky - that’s what he likes.” She sighed; her feet hurt in her new shoes, she was tired and she needed a bathroom - badly!
“Look!” One of the arms growing from the top of Eriddny’s head, swooped down and grabbed Dawn’s shoulder. “Over there. That’s a demon bar - I can sense them inside. Now stay close to me and don’t make eye contact with anyone. OK?”
Dawn nodded nervously and followed her friend down a flight of dirty stone steps to a battered metal door. A feeble light gleamed above it and when Eriddny knocked, a tall, orange demon with a face like a squashed squash opened the door enough to look at the Lynfra. Cigarette smoke and loud music slid out around him and Dawn skulked in the shadows, listening to a rapid hissing and clicking. Finally the door opened wider and Eriddny squeezed through, Dawn hurrying to keep up, fixing her gaze on the floor, shaking her hair over her face and hoping no one would notice she was human.
She had a very bad feeling about this but hey, she was almost grown up now and this was a sort of adventure. Spike might not be her friend any more, but she had found her own people who liked her. Eriddny was her friend and nothing bad was going to happen to her as long as the Lynfra demon girl was by her side. Nothing at all.