Storm Warning by Lilachigh
Chapter 14 ...Plan for the Worst
A wall of noise greeted and consumed Dawn as, following Eriddny, she stepped cautiously inside the dark hell of the demon night-club. Chittering, screeching, wailing and screaming - at first she thought she’d walked into a massacre, then realised that the wailing and screaming was coming from the group playing some sort of demon sounds on the stage. The chittering and screeching was just demons talking, having fun, killing each other, hanging out.
She could hardly see in the darkened, smoke-filled space - she squinted down through the hair she’d tossed over her face, keeping her gaze fixed on Eriddny’s black boots as she wove her way through the crowds towards the bar. Things crunched and squelched under her feet and she tried hard not to breathe too deeply because the smell of sweaty demon was overpoweringly gross.
As Eriddny reached the bar, a space magically opened up and she banged her fist on the counter and yelled “Two beers!” at the thin, three-mouthed demon working the late shift for his college money.
“How old are you Lynfra girl?” the centre mouth shouted, then the other two said, “Oh never mind,” in unison and opened bottles appeared in front of her.
Eriddny handed one to Dawn and turned to gaze round the club. “This is better,” she said, lowering her beer to the face that peered out from waist level. “This is cool.”
Dawn, who could feel beads of sweat - which she told herself were from heat and not fear - forming on her forehead, gulped down some bitter liquid and said, “Yeah! Cool.”
“There’s some cute guys in here.”
Dawn risked a glance through her curtain of hair. There were obviously demon guys, lots of them, but “cute”? Well, if you liked scales and claws and goop, then perhaps they were. She felt her blood run cold because there could be vamps, too, and she wouldn’t know. She knew Buffy and Spike’s heads would explode if they knew where she was and suddenly all she wanted was to be safely home again.
“No Lynfras, though,” she said, trying to sound bored.
Eriddny drank more beer, swaying where she stood as if it hurt to stand still. “Jeez, Dawn, you sound just like my mom! I can have friends from different species, can’t I? I’m not some sort of racist freak. I hang out with you, don’t I? And you’re human! So just chill, OK? Leave me alone. If you don’t want to have fun, go away.”
“Ssshhh!” Dawn glanced round apprehensively as Eriddny’s clear voice seemed to carry an awful long way. She was sure one or two of the things standing closest to them must have heard. She didn’t understand why the Lynfra girl was getting so irritated. Perhaps it was the heat or the beer. She took another sip from her bottle and wondered how anyone could enjoy this taste.
The bartender stared at Eriddny, all his eyes blinking nervously. “Hey, are you feeling OK? You’re looking kind of weird.”
Suddenly the arms on top of Eriddny’s head shot out and grabbed the guy round the throat, tightening, choking, making all of his eyes bulge and three tongues protrude from three mouths.
“What are you doing? Stop! Eriddny! Stop.” Dawn started to grab at her friend, then remembered she mustn’t touch her skin and tugged at her leather jacket instead.
“Are we having trouble, ladies?” A smooth voice cut through the noise and the choking squeals of the three-mouthed guy. “Ah, a Lynfra demon. And a young one. Oh, I think I can see what’s happening here - and how old are you, Miss?”
Eriddny dropped the bar guy and spun round. She seemed to be quivering with rage: to Dawn’s amazement, all the purple fur on her arms was shaking, her face was screwed up in anger and her fists were clenched, ready for a fight.
The demon standing in front of them clicked his fingers and two huge men appeared from the shadows. “Now, Miss, I think I know what’s wrong with you and we have a great quiet room at the back here where you can be alone. Quick, grab her and lock her up, before her folks arrive and trash the place! The last thing we want is a pack of Lynfras in here searching for their spawn.”
Before Dawn could speak, the heavies had lifted a struggling Eriddny off her feet and carried her away, forging a path effortlessly through the dancing throng, not caring whom they trampled under-foot. She started to follow then felt a cold hand tighten round her wrist
“No, my dear, that would not be wise.”
“But she’s my friend! Is she sick? What’s happening. Who are you?”
The man smiled down at her. He was tall, skeletal thin and his skin had a weird blue tinge. “Surely you know what happens to Lynfra females when they mature? The death and destruction they cause?” Suddenly he stopped, sniffing the air, puzzled. “ Why, you’re not demon, you’re - human!” Then he stopped, raised Dawn’s hand to lips that were navy-blue and, to her horror, kissed her fingers. She shuddered as a black tongue flicked out and caressed her skin. “Yes, human, but.....” Dark eyes, empty of any emotion, looked at her closer. “Human but not always, perhaps? A trace, slight, but still a trace...Well, well, well. What are we going to do with you? Oh, I can hear money cascading into my pockets. Lots and lots of lovely money.”
Dawn tried to pull away but his grip just tightened. Suddenly she felt a wave of pure terror sweep over her. Without her demon friend to protect her, she realised just what trouble she was in. “Buffy will kill me,” she thought desperately. “And then once I’m dead, she’ll kill me all over again!”
“I’m going to kill her when I get her home.” Buffy turned and snapped at Spike as he got back in the car. He’d needed gas and the Slayer had had to search through all her pockets to find enough money because the vampire had none - as usual.
Spike swung the car back onto the highway, ignoring the screech of brakes of the van he’d cut up. “Must admit this isn’t how I thought we’d be spending the small hours of the morning.” He grinned and ran his hand suggestively up her leg.
Buffy growled and pushed him away. “Look, Dawn’s missing. Can’t you get your mind off sex for two minutes?”
“Why, when it’s so comfortable there? And don’t say you weren’t wanting the same thing earlier because then I’d have to call you a liar.”
Buffy turned away to stare out of the window. The dark of the night was beginning to soften. And if it wasn’t yet sunrise, she knew that just below the horizon, another day had begun and Spike would need to be indoors sooner rather than later. And she knew he was right. When Spike touched her she felt alive...real...part of this world. It wasn’t just the incredible sensations he caused to flow and erupt through her body - although, jeez, just sitting next to him made her want to squirm on the leather seat to relieve an ache that never went away! No, emotionally he made her feel - she hunted for a word to express what she felt - safe was all she could come up with, which was ridiculous, of course. She was the Slayer. How could a chipped vampire make her feel any safer than she already was? But when he wrapped his arms round her and kissed her with a passion and hunger she could hardly bear, she knew she’d never really known complete safety before. If not of her body, then of her peace of mind.
“Where do you think they’d have gone in the middle of the night?” She pulled her mind away from Spike and sex and back to her sister.
“They’re teenagers looking for excitement - I reckon that Eriddny is fairly streetwise. We know Lynfras grow up quicker that humans. She’ll only seem the same age as Dawn for a few months, then she’ll mature and Dawn will seem like a silly kid to her. So, I reckon she’ll head for somewhere demon friendly, noisy, with boys and booze.”
“And of course L.A. doesn’t have too many places like that! Ok, that’s the plan. Find demon bars with loud music and cute boys. And let’s just pray that Eriddny doesn’t start the maturing rite before we find the.”
“I thought you were going to ask Angel for advice.”
Buffy hesitated, then, “Yes, I will if we don’t find her quickly, of course, but....”
“You don’t want to open up old wounds, right pet? Or is it just that you don’t want him to know you’re driving around looking for Niblet with me?”
Buffy shrugged, pushing away the sense of panic she was beginning to feel whenever Spike mentioned Angel. She’d thought asking for his help to find Dawn would be easy; now she wasn’t sure. She was in no mood to deal with jealous vampires, be they dark or blond! “If we can manage on our own...unless you particularly want to see him.”
Spike bit back the reply that almost escaped him. He would have staked himself rather than admit to Buffy that sometimes it would have been great to touch base with Liam: to remind him that he was still walking the earth, that they had connections, a relationship that was so long, so complicated that it was impossible to explain. “I’ll ask around as soon as we reach a likely area. Demon gossip travels at light-speed. A pretty young human in company with a Lynfra will have all the tentacles and scales twitching for miles around.”
“You’ll need to stay under cover - ”
“Buffy, L.A. has the nicest possible sewers and underground tunnels. The whole place is linked for miles.” He flashed her the briefest of smiles. “Not worried about me, are you, pet? You’re slipping - you wouldn’t want anyone to think you were fond of me!”
Buffy was tempted to hit him squarely on the nose but decided that as he was driving, far too fast, that it wasn’t possibly the most sensible thing to do. No, she would wait until she could get him somewhere quiet and private and..... “Fond? Jeez, Spike. What parallel world are you living in?”
He grinned and fell silent, although she could have sworn she could almost hear him humming “you are the wind beneath my wings” under his breath.
Dawn Summers heard the clang of the door shutting behind her as she struggled up from the floor where her demon gaoler had thrown her. Gazing round, she realised she was in what looked like a small storeroom - brooms, buckets and cleaning equipment were stacked everywhere. It was hard to think that any demon ever cleaned the main bar area, but perhaps the staff were a bit more particular about the rooms they worked in.
For a minute or two she sat, desperately trying not to cry. She didn’t think she’d ever felt so alone or lost in her life before, even during those dreadful nights and days when she’d discovered where she’d come from. Because no one knew where she was! No one was going to help her escape. Whatever was wrong with Eriddny, she was obviously going to be of no use. As far as Buffy was concerned, Dawn would just have vanished into the depths of L.A. and never be seen again.
“It so isn’t fair,” she muttered. “I only wanted to have some fun. Be grown up, like Buffy and the others.” For another minute or two she wallowed in the general unfairness of her life and then reality began to seep through her self-pity. She’d heard enough of the demon guy’s conversation as he’d dragged her through the bar. She was going to be put up for sale. One virgin human - and how demeaning was that! How on earth did he know she was a virgin? It wasn’t tatooed on her forehead. Perhaps Eriddny had given her away: Dawn remembered a long all night discussion quite recently when they’d both admitted that they hadn’t actually had sex with anyone yet.
Even so, it was deeply shaming to be labelled in this way. She jumped to her feet: there was no way she was going to let herself be sold as some sort of gross sex slave. She had to escape. “Buffy would find a way,” she said out loud. “So would Spike. I have to get away, just to prove to them that this isn’t all my fault.” She paused, then muttered, “No, that’s not true - I have to escape because if I just vanish, Buffy will never stop looking for me. Never. She’s only just got back from heaven, back to her own life. I can’t do this to her. I just can’t.”
And Dawn never stopped to realise that just by thinking that, she was well on her way to being all grown-up.