Chp 8 Going Home
Never Alone by Lilachigh
Chp 8 Going Home
Buffy woke the next morning to light streaming in through the windows where the thin curtains didn’t quite meet. She stretched, yawned and gazed round the dismal little motel room. It had been the first one she’d come to as she drove into where Sunnydale used to be. It hadn’t looked very inviting, but she knew she was tired and her driving was getting more and more erratic.
She owed it to Dawn not to crash and hurt herself, so sleep was important. The guy at the reception desk had stared at her as if she was an alien. He’d booked her in, then leant right over the desk to give her a key, peering down the front of her top as he did so.
She’d had a wild desire to hit him, but instead had gone to her room and fallen asleep on top of the sticky bedcover, fully clothed, but not before she’d stuck a chair under the door handle.
The shower cubicle hadn’t been cleaned in weeks, but the water was warm and if she stood very still and didn’t touch the sides, she felt at least half clean.
“God, Spike, I hope all this is worth it,” she muttered. “If I find you’re OK and have gone off to Peru or Bermuda or somewhere on holiday, I’ll kick your ass half way back round the world again!”
Outside, the sun was hot in a glaring white sky. Buffy stared around as she headed for the car. She had no idea where she was in Sunnydale. There was no point of reference. The ground stretched before her, the road running blackly out across what looked like flat, stony earth, headng for the hills, a couple of miles away. There were no trees or bushes, but in the distance she could see a cluster of buildings.
“Aiming to stay here long?” It was the guy from reception, standing far too close. She could smell the sweat from his armpits and see the moisture on his thick lips as he licked them. But he was human. Not a demon or a vampire. That was a plus, surely.
Buffy stepped back a pace or two. “I’m looking for someone. A man, thin, blond, blue eyes. Might look as if he’d been in a bad fight.’
The guy rasped at the beard growth on his chin with a dirty thumbnail. “Well, now, looking for a guy? What’s he done. Got you knocked up? ”
“Well, then, good looking gal like you, coming to a town like this, looking for some lovin’, maybe. I can always oblige. You just have to ask nicely.” He stretched out a hand to touch her and the next thing he knew he was flat on his back in the dirt, with the tiny blonde standing over him, eyes flashing hazel fire down on him.
“OK! OK!” He rolled over to escape and stood up, stunned, rubbing his head where her fist had collided with his ear. “Only trying to help,” he whined.
“If you’re an example of what Sunnydale is going to be, then it’s a pity they didn’t leave it as an earthquake site! Now, tell me. Have you seen a man like I described.”
The man dropped his gaze. “Well, yeah.”
“You have?” Buffy couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice. “Where? When?”
“Couple of nights ago. There’s a bar in the new part of town - it’s called - ”
‘Willie’s!’ Buffy finished for him, delighted. Trust Willie to be in at the beginning of a new town when there would be loads of construction guys with loads of money around.
‘Yeah. Willie’s. You know it?“ The guy sounded puzzled.
‘Oh yes. And that’s where you saw the blond man?”
The guy shrugged. ‘Well, there was a thin guy in there. Bit cut about the face. Could be the one you’re looking for.“
Buffy felt her heart begin to pound faster. Willie’s bar, a man with a cut face. It had to be Spike! She didn’t bother with thanks, just raced for her car. Willie would know. He always did.
The motel guy stood staring after the car. He spat on the ground. Bitch! Caught him unawares. But stronger than she looked. Well, he’d cooked her goose for her. She could drive straight on to Willie’s for all he cared. Straight into hell.
Buffy drove slowly down the road, trying hard to work out exactly where she was. But it was impossible. Surely this was the turn off to the mall, but there were just heavy earth moving machines and a deserted wilderness covered in bits of metal, bricks and rubble, the remains of Sunnydale.
She felt tears begin to rise in her eyes and blinked them away. Down there, under all that mess were the graves of her mother and Tara. She only hoped they were buried deep in the earth where nothing could harm them.
A mile on and there were the first signs of rebuilding - raw timber, bricks, roofing - all stacked in piles. She braked as she reached a junction. The main road ran on ahead, but down to her left she could see buildings - hopefully the ones she’d spotted from the motel.
“OK, do I go on or turn?” She had a feeling that what used to be Revello Drive was ahead of her, but she wasn’t ready to go there yet. First she had to find Willie’s bar.
She swung the car left with a screech of tyres and jolted down the uneven track. Here the devastation seemed even worse, but at least there was some signs of civilisation. Driving slowly she reached a cluster of new buildings. And there, right on the edge was a low, ramshackle hut with a sign, hand-painted in red, slung crookedly above the door. WILLIE’S.
Buffy pulled over and braked. She sat for a moment; the sun had gone in and heavy thunder clouds were building in the west. Lightning flashed miles away, cutting the dark sky in two. They were going to have rain. She also realised that there was no one around. The place seemed deserted. She glanced at her watch. OK, it was ten in the morning. Surely someone should have been around. Where was everyone?
She got out and immediately the nerves on the back of her neck started to tingle. Vampire! She spun round, her face lighting up in expectation. But there was nobody there. She searched the shadows between the buildings on he far side of the street and thought she saw movement. But then all was still again.
“Well, no vampire is going to be out in the daylight,” she muttered, cross with herself. What had she expected - for Spike to come running towards her, arms outstretched in welcome? He might have a soul but he was still a vampire.
She walked up to the bar and tried the door. It was locked. Buffy banged hard with her fist but there was no reply. “Willie! Willie! Open the door!” She could hear a scuttling movement inside and suddenly she was angry. She’d come all this way and Willie wasn’t going to stop her finding Spike. She kicked out hard, using all her Slayer strength and the lock splintered and the door burst open.
“B-b-buffy? I didn’t realise it was you.” Willie’s head popped up from behind the bar. “G-g-good to see you. But what on earth are you doing here, Slayer?”
‘It’s Sunnydale, remember. I lived here. Closed the Hellmouth, remember. So what are you doing back here, Willie?”
He shrugged and wiped at the bar with a filthy cloth, not meeting her gaze. “Got to go where the business is good, Slayer. Lot of building going on. Insurance paid out on my old bar. So here I am. All perfectly legal.”
Buffy stared at him in amazement. “You had insurance?” Willie had paid insurance premiums!! She shook her head in disbelief. She’d had none on her home. She hadn’t been able to afford it in the Doublemeat days and when the First arrived on the scene, an insurance policy had been the last thing on her mind.
“So – moving past the bewildered incredulity bit - you came back to Sunnydale,” she said. “Right, well, you’re just the man I want Willie. I’m looking for Spike.”
‘Spike?” Willie’s head shot up and he dropped the filthy cloth. “Spike’s dead, Buffy. You know that. He died in the Hellmouth.”
“Well, yes, he did, but believe me, he’s very much alive now. Have you seen him.”
Buffy reached across the bar and effortlessly lifted the little man clear of the floor with one hand. She pushed the other clenched fist into his face. “I won’t ask twice, Willie.”
“No, honest. Ouch! You’re hurting me. I haven’t seen him! And Buffy, you really shouldn’t hang around here. Sunnydale’s a rough place these days. Are you on your own? Where‘s the gang you used to go round with?”
Buffy let him drop. She’d been getting information out of Willie for enough years to know when he was telling the truth. He hadn’t seen Spike. She felt a sick wave of disappointment flood through her. She had been so sure he would have found his way to Willie’s bar if he’d been anywhere in the area.
“Buffy, you’ve got to get the hell out of here. There are a lot of nasties around. It’s not like the old days. They run in packs. They won’t be scared of a Slayer, believe me.”
Buffy sighed and walked to the broken door. “I’ve been listening to words like that for years, Willie. If you see Spike - ” she stopped, not sure what she wanted him to say - “If you see Spike, tell him I’m looking for him.”
She walked outside and froze. The sky had grown darker while she was inside and the thunder was rumbling directly overhead and even as she stood there, there was a flash of lightning and the heavens opened.
Buffy started to run for her car, then came to a halt. Dark shapes were emerging from the alleyway across the street. The rain blinded her and she peered through the silver lancing curtain, not sure of what she was looking at. The shapes didn’t seem human, they seemed to roll across the ground towards her. Her hand flashed to her belt and pulled out a stake. Let them come! She was ready for a good fight.
Just then there was a screeching of tyres and a little red car skidded to a stop by her side, splattering her with mud. The window was wound down and a familiar, worried looking face gazed out at her.
‘Hi, Buffy. Get in! Quick! We’ve got to get out of here!’
to be continued
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