Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 3 - PARTY FEARS TWO
And what if this party fears two
The alcohol loves you while turning you blue
View it from here from closer to near
Saturday, May 18th, 2002
Spike knew he'd been busted when his cell phone started ringing. Everyone who had the number was at the party, so when that phone rang, he knew he'd been missed. The aggressively cheerful ring-tone informed him that whoever was calling was using Dawn's cell, but right at that moment he was more preoccupied with the blood that was splattering its way into and around the drain by his feet, painting pretty Rorschach pictures, than answering the device, not to mention the fact that said blood was actually spilling from his mouth in waves, so that answering was sort of impossible. The fact that he was bent nearly double and using both hands to brace himself against the wall so that the blood wouldn't get on his clothing, and also just to stop him sliding to his knees, could also have been a slight hindrance.
'For Chrissake, how long can it take to puke up one lousy pint of pig blood?' Spike asked himself, the sensation of being sick so long forgotten that the total discomfort as his diaphragm continued to heave even after he had no more left in his stomach hit with all the impact of a fatal illness. Finally, his retching stilled and for now the pain receded. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his lips clean, the sight of bright blood against the white cotton triggering memories of his mother's long infirmity and he shoved the cloth out of sight as if he could push away all other similarities in their situation. He checked what he could of his appearance. A few small spatters had caught on his jeans, but at night on the dark material no one would notice. His brow was slick with sweat, but if his tormentor had given up for now, it would soon dry in the night air.
He sighed and hit the speed dial button for Dawn's phone. He could make a good guess at Buffy's reaction to what was happening, and he really didn't think it was a brilliant idea for her to dive off the deep end, or ruin the party for anyone else. Vampires simply don't get sick, not in the normal run of things. They can be injured, starvation can have all sorts of nasty side-effects as when Dru had been weakened, but one thing Spike knew from nearly a century and a quarter of first hand experience was vampires as a rule do not get sick.
Once upon a time, Spike had known two people who could work this sort of magic, but the last one had died more than thirty years ago. He'd thought the workings had been lost. These weren't the prim note takers of the Watcher's council, these were the priests, the oungans, guys who 'served with both hands' as they put it down south in areas where, unofficially at least, vaudun was as much a religion as orthodox Christianity.
If the artist formerly known as Red was playing with that sort of magic, even after what Anya's little playmate had pulled off, it was a Hail Mary. It would age her into the ground. It might just take him out first though, and it wasn't like they didn't know she was capable of it. It was exactly the same as she'd done the last time she had thought that Tara had slipped beyond her reach. She'd gone all out to get the person she thought was responsible, even if it killed her. That time, Buffy had gone in to pull her out. This time, he had a suspicion that if she got in the way, Buffy would be the one who needed help.
To stop her, they were going to need someone as skilled and powerful in the vaudun as she was, or, more likely, given her recklessness, as skilled and powerful as the loa riding her. They were going to need someone who worked only for good. Despite vaudun's depiction on the silver screen, this wasn't the hard part. Most sorcerers worked only in white magic. More importantly, they needed someone who worked for good but would help to save a soulless vampire. Add to this that those practitioners who had an affinity for working with the dead almost invariably were drawn to the darker side sooner or later, and Spike didn't know if the person they were looking for even existed. He did know that the place to start looking was New Orleans. First though, he had to get Buffy to accept that simply trying to kick the shit out of the bad guys wasn't going to cut it. Best of all he had to try to sort all this out with Buffy without Niblet finding out 'cause she'd more than her fair share of problems already, and without telling Buffy who he thought was behind it. Not without proof.
All this had been running round his head for longer than he cared to think. At first his idea had simply been to weather the attack and try to push it from his mind before he went back to the party in the hope that neither Buffy nor Lily would pick up on his worries, at least until he and Buffy had a chance to discuss it in private at home, but he had been gone too long and now he was going to have to face the music.
"Spike?" Buffy answered the phone and the vampire didn't know if this was good or bad.
"Yeah. Sorry I couldn't answer before... love."
"Where are you, Spike? What happened to you?"
"I'm fine, pet. You haven't got everybody all worked up lookin' for me have you?"
"Well, no, but only because we'd no idea where to look."
"Pet, I can hear you worryin' from here. Now, tell them I just went to the liquor store because I fancied some bourbon an' I couldn't answer because I was in the middle of bein' served an' I'll be back in a bit, okay?"
"Look, love, I need to talk to you, but other than you an' maybe the watcher boys, it's somethin' as there's no need to go spreadin' around and there's definitely no need for gettin' Niblet excited, okay? You with me?"
"Spike, promise you're okay. I felt something before."
"So did I, love, but it's gone now. When you get a chance to slip away, come out the main door of the building, turn left and keep walking. I'll meet you."
"Spike, why don't you just come back?"
"Because the two of us need to discuss this together before it ends up being open for debate and as soon as I get in that door Lily is gonna start wantin' to know what's happenin'."
"Love you, too, even if you do cause massive dramas, not telling people where you're going." Buffy's tone was light but he could hear the underlying tension and he knew that she was trying to reassure those around her.
Spike clicked the phone closed and started to walk slowly back toward Lily's apartment, stopping when he was half a block away to wait for Buffy to meet him.
If Spike could have blushed at the way just seeing Buffy made him feel better, he would have done. 'Gettin' near as bad as the bloody poof,' he thought to himself. Her walk-jog pace, the eternal mark of a high-heeled woman in a hurry, betrayed her own eagerness to reach him, and Spike let instinct take over, breaking into a jog of his own to meet her half way.
"Wha-." Buffy tried to question him about his disappearance, but his lips mashed against hers in a greedy welcome. His touch, as always, echoed his love and desire, but also fear and uncertainty and yet beneath them was an underlying determination.
Faced with a multitude of questions she wanted answers to, Buffy chose one at random when she finally pulled back enough to let her read his face, even as his hands on her bare arms let her read his emotions. "Why do you taste like you just ate a whole pack of breath mints?"
"Probably because I did just eat a whole pack of breath mints. Look, love, you know that vampires don't get ill, right?"
"Yeah, part of the whole undead deal. So?"
"So, if last night's stitch wasn't a stitch and it came back worse so that I just spent half an hour pukin' my guts up, it's because someone's makin' me ill, and the only people I've ever known who could pull that sort of stunt were hardcore voodoo priests."
"Wood. It's that Wood guy! Gotta be. So, we get Wes and Giles and Tara and we find out where he's staying and we."
"We what, love? I'm not goin' to be up for much for a while and I don't see as any of the rest of you are goin' to be killin' a human. An' besides, I've pissed off a lot of people in my time. No guarantee that it is him."
"It has to be. Look we can do the magic sand thing. Giles will be okay with us getting the stuff and we can-."
"Get the Niblet all upset again?
Leave it for tonight, love. Seems to me like it probably takes it out of them near as much as it's takin' it out of me. Don't reckon as they'll try it again tonight, whoever it is, an' you can get your stuff an' do your thing tomorrow without getting' everybody all worked up."
"At least let me get Tara to do a protection spell."
"After Niblet's in bed asleep. Not as it's like to help much."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean voodoo doesn't work like normal magic an' it's like as not gonna take another voodoo priest to break the spell."
"But we don't know any voodoo priests."
"Then come tomorrow maybe it's time we widened our circle of acquaintances but for tonight how's about we see how much we can distract each other from worryin' about it and head back to Lil's before they send out search parties?"
"Problem. Weren't you supposed to be buying bourbon?"
"There's a bottle in the trunk of the car, under the jack."
"The car that Brandon has the keys for."
"Just the one set. There's a spare in one of those little magnetic boxes tucked under the sill. We're covered. All we've got to do is make sure we're thinkin' about nothin' but each other by the time we're close enough for Lily to pick up on anything. If, of course, you think you're up to the challenge of distracting me that much." Spike's eyebrow swept upward and the tip of his tongue swept across his upper teeth.
"Huh, I thought the problem was keeping your mind on anything other than sex? Heck, you probably get turned on watching the nature programs on the Discovery channel."
"I do not!" the vampire protested. "I never watch the Discovery channel... And I am not constantly horny. just semi-constantly horny... and only when you're around."
Buffy's eyes drifted down and her reply was husky. "I noticed."
"Have I told you how incredible you look in that dress, how it brings out the green in your eyes and makes you look like a golden goddess?"
"You do realise, Wordsworth, that while we're alone out here, Dawn and Brandon are alone back there, unsupervised."
Spike considered this fact for a millisecond. "I hope you're wearin' knickers under that thing, pet."
Before Buffy could even ask why, he had her hoisted over his shoulder and was running for the car. When they got there he spun round a couple of times, till Buffy's protests turned to giggles before he set her back on her feet.
"You are a positive Neanderthal," Buffy told him.
"I just take my fun where I can find it, love. And there's not much I like better than hearin' you laugh. Actually, no, I think I might even rate that higher than seein' you come, feelin' it, whatever..." He paused and licked his lips, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "Damn close run thing though."
"You are a sex addict, you know that?"
"Nope. I'm a Buffy addict. Wouldn't look twice if Liv Tyler climbed into my bed." This time it was Buffy who raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Oh, alright, I might just sneak a peak but I'd never touch."
"So, it's just coincidence that you were moaning 'Liv' in your sleep the other morning while you were groping me."
"I did... not," Spike's denial stalled midway as Buffy's face creased into laughter once more. "You know fine well I was saying 'love'."
"Yeah," Buffy admitted. "But you're so cute when you get all flustered, kinda like a cooler baby Giles."
"You are so gonna suffer for that comparison later, missy," Spike replied even as he pulled the spare key from its hiding place and opened up the trunk. He pulled out a full bottle of bourbon and passed it to her before shutting the trunk and sliding the key back where it came from.
"How are you going to do that?" Buffy teased.
"I'm going to take you home and make you come in ways the librarian's only seen in his damn books until you scream for mercy."
"Actually, I have it on good authority that Giles is like a stevedore in bed and you wouldn't believe where he's done it."
Spike's arm slid around her shoulders and he reclaimed the bottle of bourbon. "I knew there was something goin' on between the pair of you. Lolita." His eyes danced with laughter as he teased her. "Maybe you really were thinking about Giles that time in the Bronze."
"Eugh, and still gross. You really think I could look into your eyes and ever think of anyone else?"
"You tell me, pet."
"Well, for one thing, you have the bluest eyes I've ever seen, and you can read your every thought, your every feeling in them. No guy has ever made it so obvious, just with a glance, that he is absolutely and completely in love with me, so, no I could never think about anyone else while I'm with you." She stretched to put her arms around his neck, nibbling gently at his earlobe as he opened the apartment door. "And I'd never want to," she whispered.
He just managed to drop the bottle of bourbon into a pocket rather than letting it fall to the ground before he picked Buffy up, with one hand on either side of her waist. He kissed her with all the tenderness and devotion she had claimed to read in his eyes as he carried her through the entrance hall and out toward the rear door, only putting her down as they reached the yard itself.
Spike and Buffy watched from where they lounged on the grass, using Spike's duster as a blanket while Dawn and Brandon danced to a pounding electro beat. Rogue and Rupert were still curled up in a heap just a couple of feet away.
"Feeling your age?" Buffy asked as Spike screwed up his face at the inhuman noise.
"Music should be about playin' not programmin'. That's where the energy comes from, not uppin' the beats per minute till women wobble like jellies tryin' to keep up."
"I'll take that as a yes, shall I?"
"Unker Will," Rosa threw herself into his arms. "Mommy says that if I want you to do our song I have to get you to do it now so I can get ready for bed."
"Alright, munchkin. Where's the guitar?"
"Mommy's got it inside."
"Don't suppose I can talk you into stayin' out here an' keepin' an eye on Romeo an' Juliet?" he asked Buffy.
"And miss this? I'll get them to come and watch, too."
The vampire tilted his head to the side and pursed his lips. "Thanks ever so," he grated sarcastically as he got to his feet and helped Buffy up.
"So, what is it we're about to be treated to? Puff the Magic Dragon?"
"Credit me with some taste, love."
"I just don't know what could possibly fit in your repertoire and still be suitable for kiddies."
"You'll just have to wait and see, won't you?" Spike smirked and swept his coat from the ground and tossed it to Buffy.
Buffy fetched Dawn and Brandon inside just in time to see Spike check the tuning on an acoustic guitar before he started playing a vaguely country sounding tune, nodding to Rosa to give her her cue to start singing along with him.
"You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you."
Buffy couldn't help but notice how the pair seemed to lose track of everyone else in the room, or so she thought until Spike looked up and seemed to catch Wes's eye. Buffy would swear that the watcher shifted awkwardly under the vampire's gaze.
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