Everyone has Secrets by Lilachigh
Chapter Six. Fangs and Fury
Mud and more mud - rain lashing against her face, Buffy felt her jeans tear across the knees as she leapt from the top of the wall and hit the ground, wincing at the bite of gravel against her skin. She gasped as another deluge of spray hit her, as the hem of Spike’s duster flicked her across the mouth. She could hardly see as she was pulled to her feet. But she knew the cold hand that grasped hers - let’s face it, she thought fleetingly, she’d have known that grip even on her deathbed, which might be fairly soon if she didn’t get into some sort of shelter.
Spike’s arm was tight around her waist and together they half ran, half limped up the track, away from the great iron gates. The black clouds overhead had almost turned the day into night and she knew she was relying on the vampire to guide them.
A couple of hundred yards further on, the path rose steeply to cross a little bridge. “Get under there, Slayer,” Spike yelled against the roar of the storm and half dragged her down the slope, mud flying into their faces and soaking through their boots, until they crawled through a waterfall thundering down from above, under the stone pillars of the bridge, out of the wind and deluge.
Buffy tried to squeeze water out of her hair - the band holding it back had vanished. “You OK?”
Spike bent over, hands on knees, gasping. “I’ll survive, pet. Except for mud in places I’d rather not mention! You?”
“Scraped knees, soaked through and yes, muddy. But it could have been much worse.”
“Your lip’s bleeding.” He bent forward, eyes gleaming in the gloom and, before she could move, he licked the trickle of blood from her chin.
Buffy felt a flood of warmth across her body and forced herself to pull away slightly. If he looked at her like that for much longer, she knew she wouldn’t be responsible for what might happen.
“This is a weird storm, Spike. Came out of nowhere, just as we reached the gates.”
“Some sort of poxy magical defense system?”
“Could be. Any casual visitor would turn and head back home.”
Spike grinned. “We might do many things, Slayer, but we certainly don’t do casual.”
“The car’s probably floated away several miles by now. Whatever else we find, we need a phone to ring home and get some transport out here.”
Spike peered out from under the bridge. “It’s almost stopped raining but still dark enough that I don’t burn up into a tidy little crisp! We’re good to go.”
Side by side, they climbed out of the gully and headed across the bridge and along the track, splashing through deep puddles. Thick trees bordered the path and tendrils of thorns reached out to snag at their clothes as they passed. “Can you see a house?” Buffy said at last as the path suddenly became steeper.
“No, but I think we’re nearly at the top. Probably other side of this hill.”
“Tara can’t possibly have come out here regularly. No car’s been along this track for ages.”
“We’ll soon know, Slayer. There’s fewer trees and I reckon the house should be just over - ” Spike skidded to a halt at the top of the hill and stared silently out across the rough ground that sloped down to where the high stone wall that encircled the property marked the boundary. There was no gate here, just blank stone and also - no house. No building of any kind.
“Not expecting that,” Spike grunted.
“That’s weird. There must be something there - hey, perhaps it’s invisible!”
“So if we run straight down this hill, we’ll go crash into a wall?”
Buffy glared at him. “Have you got a better plan? We can’t stay here all day. We’ve got to get home sometime tonight. Dawn will be frantic and Xander will be worried sick.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Well, Slayer, I certainly don’t want to do anything to upset Xander! But OK, Dawnie worried is not a good plan. But listen, pet. I don’t know a lot about that type of magic, but enough power to hide a house and probably the people inside it? That’s going to take a lot of mojo. I think I’d be able to sense it and - there’s nothing.”
Buffy sat down on the wet grass and stared down the hillside. It was getting darker again; big clouds rolling and building, blackening the sky. “You don’t build a wall round an empty space and you don’t put in a big gate with locks and have some sort of magical storm activated to guard nothing. It doesn’t make sense.”
Spike threw himself down next to her and absentmindedly wrapped his arm round her shoulders. “This whole bloody adventure doesn’t make sense, pet. Tara had the address of this place written down next to Jan’s name.”
“But I don’t think she ever came out here,” Buffy said thoughtfully. “I told you earlier - no car has been driven down that track for years. And Tara was a sweet girl, but hey, no athlete. She’d never have walked all this way.”
“So just phoned? Or wrote little notes, telling Jan how Becca was getting on? Birthday cards, Christmas pressies? You can’t tell me she had no contact all these years.”
“That makes a sort of sense. Mom kept lots of things that we gave her when we were tiny. Silly pictures, crayon drawings, photos.” Her mind flared with memories of a happier time but even as she let herself remember, she knew she mustn’t because that was the way weakness crept in. “But letters mean a mail box. Haven’t seen one of those, either.” Then another thought burnt its way into her brain. “Jeez, Spike, we’re missing the obvious. I hate to think it, but perhaps Jan’s dead, too! That might be why Tara left her where she was, being looked after in L.A. She might have been going to tell Willow and then there was all the Warren mess and...”
Suddenly Spike swirled to his feet. Buffy glanced up at him, startled. He had an odd expression on his face. If she hadn’t known him so well, she’d have said he looked afraid. Which was ridiculous, of course, because hey, Big Bad, Scourge of Europe, vampire boy. Nothing scared Spike. Getting to her feet, she linked her arm through his. “What’s up?”
“Just remembering, pet. And sensing. Nothing above ground, but if I try really hard, I can tell that underneath the earth.....”
“Memory - another time, few years back. Underground place, all hidden away. Guards, walls, locks, death and destruction. My destruction.”
Buffy’s breath caught in her throat. “The Initiative? You’re talking about - ”
“Cages, pet. Prisoners, government high jinks. Tests and torture.”
“You mean - Jan - she might be - ”
But Spike was already striding down the hill into the growing gloom. Buffy raced to catch him up. “There must be an entrance somewhere. Slow down, Spike. We’ll find it but we need to take it slowly.”
Spike fought to control the anger that was flooding through him, burning his very being with a heat he hadn’t felt for centuries. He’d learnt to exist with the sodding chip in his brain, but it wasn’t living, not as a vampire should live. And yes, it made things easier with Buffy because he couldn’t harm humans, but she would never ever really know how much of his identity Professor Walsh and those other government bastards had taken from him. One thing they hadn’t taken was his memories: of the screaming and shouting, the babbling of those driven to insanity, the pleas for mercy from those poor fools who thought they might get a nice clean stake through the heart rather than being tied down on a gurney and.....
He was suddenly aware of Buffy standing in front of him, blocking the way. “Slayer....! Get out of my way.”
“I said slow down, Spike! You’ll have to go through me if you don’t and you know I can beat you.”
“Only because of what they did to me.”
“You don’t even know it is a sort of Initiative. You’re guessing. It could be demons, another Glory, jeez, Spike it could be a nice, brand new, gleaming monster. Perhaps the Mayor back to play his little games with us. Whatever, we make a plan. We don’t rush in all fangs and fury.”
The green of her gaze seemed to cut mercilessly through the red haze that had dropped over his eyes. He swayed a little and felt her hand reach out for his, her fingers warm against his cold skin.
“If Jan is in there, she can’t possibly be alive after all this time,” he said at last. “If she was a prisoner, they could have done anything to her.”
Buffy started to speak then stopped. She wanted to ask him when did prisoners give out their address to friends and why the heck hadn’t Tara told her or Willow or anyone about this. Just hiding Becca away to keep her from her father was one thing, but keeping some illegal prison secret didn’t seem possible, not for the Tara she remembered. But Buffy also knew that when Spike was in this mood, the last thing he wanted to do was think rationally or logically.
“OK, let’s start looking for the way in. A hatch of some sort, I suppose. A trap-door thingy.”
Spike nodded and they began to search the ground, kicking and stamping, staring at the rough vegetation, trying to spot any peculiar dead patches that might cover an entrance to an underground facility. It was raining hard again and as the minutes slipped by, Buffy felt a wave of weariness cross her. She was cold and wet and shivering and they had found nothing. The ground between the bottom of the hillside and the stone wall had been searched by both of the twice over and they had found nothing.
“Spike - it’s getting late. Look, we’ll come back tomorrow, with the others. Anya’s good at sensing things and Xander can always find a demon when he wants one!”
He shook himself, trying to force the pictures and memories from his mind. She was right, he knew that, even though every fibre in his body wanted him to go on looking. Buyt he could see how cold she was, exhaustion written across her face. Nodding in silent, reluctant agreement, he turned towards the hill to trudge back up the slope and then froze. It was almost completely dark now and for an instant a sliver of light had shown itself against the side of the hill.
“Bollocks! It isn’t underground, Buffy!”
“What do you mean?”
“It isn’t underground - it’s inside the sodding hill!”