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Master by Aurora
Chapter Fourteen-He's Gone
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Chapter Fourteen: He’s Gone

She was running again. It was always with the running. Night after night she exhaustedly tried to flee as the laughter, that creepy maniacal laughter, followed her wherever she went. Her neck tingled, like that feeling you get when someone is standing right behind you, just a little too close for comfort. He was going to catch her soon. Buffy hated this. She was practically running blind, sometimes tripping over herself as he chased after her, always only a few steps behind.

Then something changed. Buffy’s unconscious mind, the one that had created this frighteningly unrelenting world, seemed to have drastically tilted on its axis. Her sole purpose in this reality was gradually conforming. For the first time ever in any of her dreams, she actually slowed to a halt. Pivoting around, she realized Mr. Ominous wasn’t chasing her after her anymore; well she assumed he wasn’t, it was hard to make out anything in the black of night that enveloped her. Buffy stood completely still, her head spinning and her insides twisting as she felt what seemed like the cosmos themselves realigning. There was a shift in the air and the need to get the hell away suddenly converted into a need to run to someone.

That someone namely being Spike.

Buffy had the sudden desperate urge to find Spike. Buffy’s conscience, the part of her that could not forget the sins that the vampire had committed against her, was muted and walled out in this dream dimension. At the moment, all she knew was that she had to see his face again; she had to know he was alright. Voluntarily sprinting further into the black abyss she had once cursed, Buffy madly dashed down the winding unpaved road, hoping that this time it might actually take her somewhere. She prayed it’d lead to Spike.

Buffy bolted upright out of bed, extremely alert. That was weird. She hadn’t woken up screaming and the sheets seemed to be lacking their usual layer of cold sweat. Really weird nightmare. ‘Could you even call it a nightmare?’ she wondered as she held her head in confusion. The memory of her cataleptic experience was slowly fading, but the emotions they had conjured up were still just as vivid. Looking around the room, she realized that Spike wasn’t back yet. Buffy let out a short sigh in disappointment. She didn’t know why, especially after what had happened between them last night, but she really wanted to make sure that that stupid vampire of hers was okay.

‘Hold on a sec?’ Buffy thought as she almost rolled off the bed. Did she just refer to Spike as ‘hers’?’

The whole disaster that had been last night was still fresh in her mind. After Spike had left, she had crawled into bed, still crying her eyes out. Only when she had dried out all of her tear reserves had she finally managed to fall into an exhausted sleep. The cathartic sob session hadn’t only been emotionally therapeutic; it had helped clear away the gloomy clouds hanging over her head. Oh Buffy was still pissed and the feeling of being punched in gut wasn’t going away any time soon, but at least she didn’t feel like crying anymore. She was confident that she could now think more clearly without getting so emotional. So when, her now more logically capable brain wondered, did I exactly think of Spike as ‘mine’?

Buffy reasoned it must be her post-fight frazzled mind not thinking straight. She was supposed to be mad at him now, so she casually shrugged off the possibility that her slip up had been a subconscious disclosure of her true feelings for the absentee vampire. Sluggishly padding over to bathroom, Buffy turned on the tap. Splashing some cold water on her face, she washed away the sleep from her eyes and then grabbed a clean white towel from the rack next to her to wipe down her face. Placing the towel back in its place, Buffy looked into the mirror, her eyes drawn immediately to her neck. She lightly brushed her fingers over the two little puncture wounds; they had healed pretty well. ‘Probably won’t scar too noticeably’. Gazing at the marks, Buffy realized just how cautious Spike had been and the amount of restraint he must have had used when he had bitten her. She could tell just by looking at them that he had tried so hard to not hurt her. Slowly drawing her hand over her chest, Buffy took in a quivering breath. Too bad he hadn’t been so careful with her heart.

Buffy made her way back into the room, settling down on the couch as she mindlessly flipped through the channels, needing to find some form of distraction. When her channel surfing resulted in absolutely nothing decent to watch, she began to roughly increase the rate at which she pressed the ‘up’ button on the remote. Growling at the indiscernible images flicking across the TV screen, she chucked the remote to the floor, the batteries flying out into the air. Though it appeared to be that her anger was directed towards the poorly programmed weekday morning television, it was actually the furthest thing from her mind.

‘How could he have said those things to me?’

Spike had made her feel so dirty; he had technically called her a slut. When he had had her pressed up against that wall, all the memories of two months past had remerged and Buffy was back on the cool ceramic floor, dressed in one of his dirty black tees, chained to the bed, letting him use her body. When those words had passed from his lips, in Buffy’s mind, she was his slave again, degrading herself just to not get hit, just to survive another day. And he was that monster again, the one towering over her as he tried to break her. In her mind’s eye, for the briefest second, Spike was her merciless Master again and that’s how it was always going to be.

Buffy knew she had pushed his buttons a little, but it didn’t mean it gave him the right to go ballistic on her. The niggling guilt that she had been trying to suppress since she had woken up from that dream had finally broken through her tough resolve. Not all of what Spike had said to her the previous night had been completely untrue.

Buffy groaned loudly as she laid herself out on the couch, throwing her arms over her face. Had she been selfish? Spike was always bending over backwards for her. He was constantly trying to do right by her. Deep down she knew it but for some reason last night she didn’t want to believe it. The moment Spike had refused to tell her where he was going, she had wanted to hate him. It was just too much like it had once been between them. The look of dominance in his cold eyes kindled a fire in her that she had thought had been extinguished long ago. Buffy had openly doubted his feelings for her and she had ignored her own. Why? She wished she knew. Why couldn’t she trust him?

‘Well, you were right to be suspicious. He was going out to kill somebody,’ she reflected.

‘Yeah, but if you hadn’t been such a bitch maybe you could have stopped him, talked him out of it even,’ she internally countered.

Buffy whined childishly. Why was everything so hard? At the drop of a hat she had basically spat on his claim of love for her. Buffy had been so quick to forget, so quick to doubt him. She knew that was why he had flipped. If only she had been a little more trusting. The whole disaster could have been averted.

Buffy was terribly conflicted. She was so angry with Spike but she felt bad about how she had pushed him too far; it was her mistrust in him that had forced his temper to fly over the edge. She knew that the wrong words could easily come out when a person was delirious with rage. It didn’t mean the words didn’t cut any less. Now, not only did she feel guilty about hurting Spike but she felt like it was her fault if anyone had gotten killed in his counter attack on the warehouse.

Buffy wondered when Spike would be home. She needed to talk to him, to resolve this, but how was she going to be able to look at him again knowing what he’d done? Buffy’s head suddenly hurt from too much thinking. It didn’t matter at the moment. What was done was done. She just needed to see him again. Must have been why her dream had been so different from all the others. Her subconscious had been trying to tell her what was taking her all morning just to figure out. She had to settle things with Spike. For both their sakes.

Buffy stayed mulling over her thoughts on the couch, not paying much mind to the time that was passing by, that is until the front door violently burst open. The unexpectedness of it caused her to nearly fly up into the air and land on the floor. Glancing over the back of the leather couch, she saw Natasha and Vincent walk in, their eyes scanning the room.

“Buffy?” Natasha called out, her voice tense as she portentously strutted around the room, looking for the blond human girl.

“I’m here,” Buffy announced her presence timidly, peeking from behind the back of the couch.

Vincent closed and locked the door once he had seen Buffy for himself. The two vampires marched over to her, their faces void of any emotion, which frightened Buffy. She tried not to look them straight in the eye, unsure what the etiquette was with these two. Sure, she’d had casual conversation with Natasha before but everything had changed after that night at the Bronze. She was supposed to be Spike’s slave. Plus, she wasn’t completely certain what to do when Spike wasn’t around. Buffy really didn’t want to offend these two vampires, especially when Spike wasn’t there to protect her. She hoped he had been right about these two, that she could trust them.

Natasha and Vincent rounded the couch, stopping in front of Buffy, standing intimidatingly above her. She dared to glance up at them. Natasha’s large brown eyes were gazing right back at her, the dark beauty’s brow was furrowed and a look of both trepidation and sheer fury marred her face. Peering up at Vincent, Buffy realized that it was the first time she had ever laid eyes on the vamp. He had a nicely structured face, not as chiseled as Spike’s but still nice, and his hair was dark brown with flecks of grey. She surmised that he must have been turned when he had been in his forties. His expression was stoic, but his hazel eyes were a collage of emotion. In Buffy’s opinion, neither of them looked very happy.

“W-what’s wrong?” she asked, fear making her hesitant to speak.

Natasha narrowed her eyes as she scrutinized Buffy’s seemingly innocent and oblivious demeanor. When Natasha was convinced that Buffy was sincerely confused and not simply using a dumb blond routine to hide anything from them, she spoke. “Did Spike say anything to you last night?” the vampiress asked, crossing her arms.

“Like what?” Buffy asked back, genuinely perplexed as to why they were questioning her when they could just wait for Spike to return.

Natasha groaned, visibly becoming impatient. “Like did he say anything about where he was going or what his plans were?”

“Not really. He said he was going to the warehouse, near the border. I think he said on the west part of town,” Buffy offered, trying to recall exactly what Spike had said to her the night before.

“What was he going there for?” Natasha inquired, her agitation increasing. Why she was getting so upset, Buffy didn’t know but it was making feel a little uneasy.

“H-he said he had to take back the warehouse,” Buffy answered, sitting on her hands in an attempt to stop them from shaking.

“Why the fuck didn’t he tell either one of us? He wouldn’t go out on his own,” she yelled at the small blonde.

Buffy flinched slightly, her body tensing, readying for fight or flight. Neither were really an option but Natasha was freaking her out. She tried to respond but she was loosing control over her voice. “I-I d-don’t know.”

“Natasha, calm yourself. There’s no need to raise your voice at poor Buffy,” Vincent interceded, motivated by the mounting scent of the girl’s fear. Kneeling down in front of the Buffy, Vincent gave her a comforting smile. “Now Buffy, is there anything else you remember that Spike might have said last night?” he asked in soothing tones.

Buffy glanced up to Natasha, who was pacing in front of the TV like a caged panther, ready to pounce at any moment. Definitely a good cop, bad cop routine. Buffy took in a shaky breath and shook her head. “No. But he was kinda angry. I don’t know if that helps,” Buffy said still nervous as Vincent patted her on the knee.

“That’s fine, lamb,” he told her, his voice still steady and his expression still pleasant. Buffy decided then and there that she liked Vincent. If he wasn’t a vampire, she wouldn’t have minded to get to know him a little better. She watched as Vincent got up and walked over to Natasha, the two quickly whispering to one another.

“What’s with all the questions?” Buffy asked, shrinking when Natasha angrily glanced over at her. “I-I mean, why not just ask Spike. Isn’t he back yet?” she asked apprehensively.

“Spike’s been captured,” Natasha stated matter-of-factly.

Buffy eyes widened in shock. “W-what?”

“Damon just arrived here today, makin’ a lot of noise about some ambush,” Vincent enlightened. “He claims that a bunch of human had outnumbered them and where he had somehow miraculously managed to escape, Spike hadn’t been as fortunate,” he skeptically elaborated.

Buffy was inwardly distressed. If Spike was gone, she had no one to protect her from the ass-load of bloodthirsty vampires wandering around the house, just dying to get a piece of her. She’d be put up on the auction block and there was nothing she could do to stop it from happening. Her heart started to hammer away in her chest and a cold sweat broke out all over her body. Buffy was officially freaking out.

Yet even though she was petrified beyond words, scared that she might die a violent death at the hands of some vicious vamp that very night, there was something else that frightened her so much more. The mere thought that she would never see Spike’s infuriatingly cocky smirk or hear his annoyingly inappropriate innuendos was agonizingly devastating. She was on the verge of hyperventilating just from the idea that he would never again look at her with the undying love that was always present in all of his cerulean gazes, even if only in the slightest glimmer, even when she didn’t really deserve it. Buffy fought back the tears that were building up and cleared her throat. “So what do we do now?”

“‘We’ aren’t doing anything. Vincent and I are going out to find Spike,” Natasha retorted, not hiding her blatant disdain for the human girl.

“But what about me?” The high-pitched question instantly flew out of Buffy’s mouth, her panic rising as it played with her vocal chords.

Vincent sighed. “Damon is too busy vying for power at the moment. With Spike’s unexpected disappearance the whole clan will be in certain upheaval for a few days. You’ll be safe so long as you don’t draw attention to yourself,” he explained reassuringly.

Buffy was slightly confused by what the elder vampire had mentioned. “You mean they aren’t going to look for Spike?”

“All the other vampires in this clan are nothing but utter lemmings; they have no loyalties, and will follow whichever flavor of the week vamp that comes along and scares them into submission. Hell, they’d follow a sac of potatoes if it could give out orders,” the older vampire sardonically commented.

Vincent paused for a moment, feeling he was straying off topic. “As Spike’s lieutenants, it is our duty to find him and to rule in his place until he returns. Actually it’s Damon’s responsibility as well, but he’s acting as though Spike is gone for good,” he explained, the concern for his abducted leader evident on his crinkled brow. “It is why Natasha and I believe something is seriously wrong. When we asked him about the location of the attack, I noticed an irregularity in his behavior and his answer was clearly preposterous.”

“What did he say?” Buffy asked, feeling a little less intimidated and a little more put at ease with Vincent.

It was Natasha who answered though. “Damon said it happened near the bronze, which is complete bull shit because that place is crawling with our vamps. There’s no way Spike would have gotten attacked without someone else coming in to help him out,” she vehemently stated.

“From what you said, we believe Spike must have been attacked at the warehouse,” Vincent told Buffy, kneeling down in front of her once again, taking her warm hand in his cool one. Buffy tried not to recoil at the vampire’s touch, not wanting to come off as being unappreciative of the kindness he was showing her. Instead she focused on his kindly face, giving him her full attention as he continued. “Damon must have lured him there somehow. It is him who you must worry the most about, Buffy. The moment he has trampled his competitors and consolidated power over the clan, he will come after you. It’s been no secret how he feels about Spike and his lil’ pet human.”

“How long before you think he’ll come after me?” Buffy asked, trembling.

“Probably no more than two days, but Natasha and I will surely have found Spike by then. Now that we know where to start, we’ll track him down in no time,” Vincent answered thoughtfully, patting her on the hand. “But don’t worry, lamb. When Spike returns Damon’s entire claim to fame will become null and void. He won’t be able to lay a finger on you.”

Despite his best efforts to reassure her, Buffy didn’t feel any less petrified about the whole situation. “S-so basically what you’re saying is that you guys are going to go find Spike while Damon’s too distracted to stop you, and I get to wait here like a sitting duck?”

Natasha tapped her nose with her index finger in confirmation. “Yup,” she quickly replied. “So make sure you keep quiet. Don’t even breathe loud.”

Vincent stood up and moved to stand next to Natasha. “Keep the door locked, luv, and keep a stake handy at all times,” he advised as the two vampires turned to leave. Vincent paused and glanced over his shoulder. “Oh, and I wouldn’t advise sleeping tonight either, ducks.”

Before Vincent and Natasha got to the door, Buffy rushed over to them. “Thanks. I know this isn’t something you normally do, you know, trying to help out a human and all,” she said sheepishly, trepidation still tainting her voice.

Natasha turned to face Buffy as Vincent unlocked the door. She didn’t appear very pleased by the human’s gratitude. “Let’s just get one thing straight, alright Blondie? I’m doing this for Spike and only Spike. For some reason he likes having you around, so I sure don’t want him anymore pissed off than he’ll probably be when he gets back because he finds out his precious little Buffy is dead,” the vampiress pointed out, her tone biting with spite. “Who knows? You’re probably a great person and if we were both humans, or even if Spike had actually had the right sense to turn you, I bet we would have been the best of friends. But that’s not how things are and that’s not how they’ll ever be, so don’t delude yourself in thinking I’m doing any of this just for you.”

Vincent opened the door, holding it open for Natasha. She moved to walk through but stopped and turned one last time to Spike’s human slave girl. “Oh, and if I were you, I’d hope Spike’s still alive because I just might let Damon have you.” With that said, Natasha haughtily marched out of the room.

As the brunette had spouted out her venomous diatribe, Buffy had slowly shrunk into herself, eventually bowing her head to avoid Natasha’s intense and enraged glare. Vincent took Buffy’s quivering chin in his hand and lifted her face up to his. He was smiling down at her, his brown eyes tender with sympathy. “Don’t listen to her, lamb. She partly blames you for what happened to Spike. Things just haven’t been the same since you showed up,” he comforted, stroking her cheek with his thumb. “Personally, I like you. You have a spark in you that I’ve rarely seen in my hundreds of years of existing. It’s actually quite refreshing.” Vincent released his gentle hold of her face, content to see a slight blush creep over her cheeks as a tiny smile tugged on her lips.

“Take care Buffy,” Vincent said as he turned to leave.

“Promise that you’ll bring him back to me,” Buffy sorrowfully implored, her suddenly tear-filled eyes betraying her attempt to put on a brave face.

“I promise,” Vincent assured, slipping out of the room as he closed the door behind him. Buffy hurriedly bolted the door and reinforced the lock by placing a chair beneath the doorknob. She ran to the bed, grabbing the stake she hid under her pillow and slipped beneath the covers. Buffy shivered as she gripped the piece of wood as if it were her only lifeline. Almost on impulse, she bent slightly over the edge of the bed, her free hand reaching under the mattress. Grabbing hold of what she kept tucked away, she pulled out a leather bound journal. Getting comfortable again, she flipped open the book with her free hand as the other help the wooden weapon to her chest.

A few days ago, after Spike had unintentionally blurted out his incoherent ramblings of love when he had first fed from her, Buffy had acted on the urge to pull his journal out from its hiding place. She kept it by her bed and read from it, obviously only when Spike wasn’t around. She found out that it was only the front half that was just scribblings where as the second half actually chronicled a bit of William’s life. It made her feel safe and at the moment, it made her long for Spike’s return all the more.

‘Please let him be okay,’ she prayed as she began to read William’s secret musings. She was beginning to understand some of the emotions behind his entries. It was easy to relate to loneliness and insecurity when you’re the only human in a house full of vampires.

Buffy snuggled deeper in her blankets, still shaking, feeling as though she couldn’t get warm even with all her coverings. As ironic as it was, it was Spike’s cold body that she yearned to warm her. A tear slid down her cheek as she closed the journal and lowered her head to her pillow. “I don’t care what happened last night between us,” she choked in a whisper. “Just come back to me Spike.”

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