Everyone Has Secrets
Chapter 7 Just a touch
Buffy stared at the steep slope in front of them - “Inside the hill?”
“Yes, makes sense. If they had to bring in some sort of equipment, then it’s far easier to carry it through a door than down a vertical ladder.”
She bit her lip. Spike’s voice had an odd note in it - a sort of desperation, an elation as if something he thought was lost had suddenly been found. She guessed that he’d made up his mind they were going to find another sort of Initiative and she had no idea how she was going to control him if they did. Or even if she should. And burning away at the back of her mind was the realisation that he still minded so deeply about the chip in his head. That he wanted to be a proper vampire again, one who could kill and feed and turn humans. She realised in a flash that she’d stupidly thought he was happy now as he was; that being with her, unable to hurt her friends, was enough for him. Oh, how wrong she obviously was!
She watched now as he paced away from her, kicking at the grassy slope, stamping with ever increasing force, searching for a doorway. Every man she’d ever cared for had left her - not that she cared for Spike in that way, she hastened to add to herself - but he was still extremely useful and she had no doubts that as soon as he found a way to get the chip out of his head, he would be away, to live another life, far from her and Sunnydale.
“Slayer!” Now a note of triumph. “Found it.”
On the far side of the slope, Spike was gazing at the grass. A few twiggy weeds sprouted out of the earth and there, buried beneath them, was the gleam of metal - a lock. Spike was pulling at the earth and moss - it came away too easily; it was obvious that the door had been opened recently and the moss replaced around the edge of the frame.
“Way in, Buffy.”
She ran her fingers across the lock - it looked old, well oiled, but old. “Do you remember seeing any key at Tara’s apartment that would fit this?”
For reply, Spike’s leg shot out and a heavily booted foot crashed against the lock, which snapped back and open with a shudder. “Not going back to look, pet. Come on!”
Before Buffy could stop him, he’d pushed the door open and stepped inside. Using a word her mom would have been extremely annoyed to have heard, Buffy followed him. “Slow down, Spike. We’ve no idea what’s in here.”
“Long tunnel so far, Slayer.”
And even as he spoke, faint lights, obviously controlled by their presence, switched on to illuminate a narrow passage, tiled in green and cream and smelling -
“Can you smell that, Buffy?”
She sniffed. “Kind of hospitally?”
“Just like the Initiative.”
“Jeez Spike, you can’t possibly remember that.”
The vampire shrugged and strode on, his footsteps echoing in the enclosed space. It would be pointless trying to explain to Buffy that his sense of smell wasn’t just enhanced, but memories were etched deeply in his brain and nothing would ever wipe them out.
“This can’t be the main way in, Spike. What you said earlier, about needing access, you’d never get even a desk down this passage.”
He nodded. “Can you hear anything?”
She shook her head, knowing that if he couldn’t, then she certainly wouldn’t.
“A very faint humming - it’s coming from beneath us.”
“Well, that’s a surprise,” Buffy said sarcastically. “Why are mysterious, probably evil, things always underground in the dark? Why can’t they build them high up, with lots of sunlight and windows and - ” She stopped as his hand shot out to clamp her arm. Set in the wall of the passage was a door and this time Spike just needed to turn the handle for it to swing open. Now even Buffy could hear the humming sound. A flight of circular metal steps led down into the dark but once again, dim lights in the roof came on to give just enough illumination to show that the steps led down, twisting and turning for hundreds of feet into the gloom below.
“If you want to go back, make Niblet and Xander happy, then I’ll go on alone.”
Buffy hesitated: she knew the sensible thing to do was retreat, get reinforcements, work out a plan of action that would protect Becca and help find Jan. But reinforcements usually meant she spent half her time looking after them and that, at least, was one thing she didn’t have to worry about when it was just Spike at her side. Which was really weird but she wouldn’t think about that today.
“Jeez, Spike, let’s just do it. Stop wasting time.”
An eyebrow shot up higher than ever. “Well, Slayer, as happy as I am to “do it” wherever and whenever you like, a spiral staircase suspended above nothing might even tax my powers of dedication!”
“Pig! Super pig! You know very well what I meant.” Buffy glared at him and before he could stop her, she pushed past him and was three or four turns down the steps before he could move. Their footsteps rang out in tandem as they hurtled round and round, down the steps, lights switching on as they passed, then turning off again.
“There’s no need to go off in a snit. Just because you’re aching for it, Slayer. No harm in that.” Spike’s voice echoed down the stairs behind her and she made her feet move even faster to get away from him. Sometimes he irritated her beyond belief. Why was everything about sex with him? OK, they had sex - quite often, if she was honest - but that’s all it was. They didn’t make love. There was no love. None. Just physical wants, like an itch but oh god, even now, turning round and round the everlasting staircase, Buffy knew she was fighting having to stop, reach for him, let him hold her while she swung her legs up round his waist and let him plunder her, on and on and on until the red mists exploded inside her over and over again.
For a second her foot slipped and she clutched at the wall beside her, trying not to think about having to climb all the way back up at some time. Perhaps there would be an elevator, a nice friendly elevator with a button that said “Push me” and....she swung to an abrupt halt as Spike reached out and grabbed her shoulder.
“Dizzy!” she gasped and realised he was holding her as tight as possible as they both swayed violently in the whirlwind of their own making. “Should have slowed down.”
“No, it’s something we’re breathing. The air tastes odd. And look - ” He gestured downwards and Buffy could see that rising up from below them was a blue mist that churned and spun, from sapphire to cobalt, from navy to sky. And then it was all around them and she could no longer even see Spike’s face and only the pressure of his hands on her body told her he was there, the one strong constant in her world.
“What the heck is it? Not gas. Not choking.”
“Some sort of magic, pet. Do we go back up or carry on down?”
Buffy hesitated. She couldn’t see the steps in either direction but going back up to the entrance seemed like giving up on Jan and whatever trouble she was in that had made her abandon her daughter. At least they owed Becca and Tara’s memory more than capitulation.
“Down. The answers are there somewhere. And you can let me go now. I’m a big girl and can take care of myself.”
“Down it is and if you think for one moment that I’m going to let go of you in this fog, you are truly delusional, Slayer.”
For a moment she was tempted to argue but she had the feeling that this was one fight she wasn’t going to win and so his hand was on her, so what. It was just a touch. His fingers had been inside her only hours ago!
Slowly they carried on down the stairway, Spike’s touch never leaving her shoulder and with a flash of what she supposed Willow would call intuition, she knew he would always have her back, no matter what the circumstances.
Long minutes later she realised there were no more steps. “I think the mist is thinning, Slayer. I can see the back of your neck.”
She jumped as cold lips pressed against her warm flesh. “Stop it!” she hissed, trying to sound annoyed and failing dismally. “Can you see anything? I’m not walking any further. We might be on the edge of some skanky cliff for all I know.”
“Light over there, pet. Sort of glowing. And coming towards us!”
Buffy pulled a stake from her belt. The likelihood of it being a vampire was tiny but she hadn’t lived this long as Slayer without learning that it was the tiny percentages that could kill you.
The light grew larger, rounder: it floated through the air and Buffy found herself stepping backwards to avoid it. But there was no escape. It flowed round her and Spike, the mist vanished and she could see the vampire clearly again. She spun round so they were back to back, watching as the air shimmered with gold and silver lights. It should have been beautiful to look at but she was acutely aware that what she really felt was sea-sick.
“I think it’s some sort of probe,” Spike muttered, turned his head to watch as a tiny silver light ran up Buffy’s arm, hesitated at her neck, then vanished into her hair.
“Checking us out?”
“Seems that way, Slayer. Finding out if we’ve got weapons, or even if we’re really human, I suppose.”
Buffy waved the stake in the air but there was no response.
“I think it’s probably programmed for more than a piece of wood, pet!”
“Remind me to bring something shinier and sharper next time. Jeez, how much more do they want to know about me?” she snapped as a silver light ran up the inside of her jeans leg. “Hey! Listen, if someone’s there - ”
“Or something - ”
“Shut up, Spike. Not helping!”
“If you’re listening, we’re not here to hurt you - we’re looking for a girl called Jan Maclay. A woman, I mean. Not a little girl. Is she here?”
“Go away.” The words were more a musical chime than a real voice, but their meaning was quite clear.
“We will do when you tell us about Jan. We’re not here to cause trouble.”
“Not her time. Go away - now.”
Buffy stared at Spike. “What the heck does that mean? Not her time? So she is here.”
“Wherever here is, pet. This mist brings back memories....some place out in Prague that Dru and I crashed in one night. We woke up two weeks later. Mind you, recently, after some of the things you’ve done to me, I could sleep for days on end as well.”
“I do nothing to you. And I so do not want to know about your sordid sex adventures with that skanky ho!” She pulled away from him and tried to walk out of the glowing mist ball, desperate to find someone human to talk to. But the second she touched the sides of the orb, tentacles reached out from the swirling energy and began to pull her firmly towards something she couldn’t see or hear, only feel. And that feeling was fear - fear and anger.