Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 4 - ELSEWHERE
I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I'll defend it
As long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?
(Sarah McLachlan, Album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
Thanks also to Emma for suggesting this way back
when I started FTE, even if it did take me three
months to follow through.
Hope she's still reading.
Sunday, May 19th, 2002
"Brandon, take Spike's car and Dawn and just get away from the area."
"Isn't he going to be pissed when he finds out we took it?"
"Probably, but then you got the lecture about Dawn going on a motorcycle without the proper gear and he isn't exactly giving her time to change." Tara picked up the vampire's car keys from the hall table and tossed them to the teenager. "Go! I'll call your cell when it's okay to bring her back."
"But," Dawn tried to argue even as Tara passed her a jacket and pushed her out the door.
"Until those wounds heal, sweetie, having you around is like waving double chocolate gateau in front of someone who's on a diet. It's not fair to test him like that when he's ill. Go with Brandon. As soon as he's well enough to cope or too out of it to be a danger we'll let you know. I promise."
Dawn gave up her argument. If the best thing for Spike was for her to leave she was already gone.
Tara turned her attention to the other woman. She picked up one of three cell phones which were sitting on the same table where Spike's car keys had been and passed it to the other woman. "If you go through to the kitchen you'll find a pint of blood in the fridge. I want you to stick it in the microwave for about a minute. That way, if the worst happens, at least he's as strong as he can be before he goes. While it's heating you'll find the number for Buffy's cell in the directory. Tell her what Dawn said about the guy calling to arrange a meet and tell her I'll talk to her once I finish upstairs or when she gets here, whichever is sooner. I better go. By my reckoning we've got at most three minutes before he gets out of here, assuming Spike's patience can actually last five minutes."
"What are you going to be doing?"
"I'm going to be trying to put up a barrier spell strong enough to contain a desperate master vampire without him realising what I'm doing and leaving before I finish it." Tara whispered as quietly as she could before dashing back upstairs.
"Buffy?" Willow's voice sounded hesitant, knowing her friend was in a hurry and probably would prefer to save the conversation for another time. "Tara? Is she...? I mean-."
Buffy turned back to look at her friend standing in the doorway of her parents' house, and her heart twisted in her breast. She had been wrong, very wrong, but she had lost so much because of it. "She's hurting, Will, but we're all doing our best to help her through. She's made her choice. She's making a fresh start."
"B-but, I love her."
"Will, you can't keep hurting people over and over and always expect them to forgive you. If you really love her, you'll let her move on. You've broken her heart twice over. This time let it be a clean break." The sound of Wes turning over his car's engine drew Buffy's attention away from the witch as she realised that she was holding up their investigation. Turning back toward the house, Buffy hurriedly made her goodbyes. "Look, I've got to go. I'll try to call tomorrow after Dawn and Tara have gone. We can..."
"Go, Buffy. There's no point in both of us losing the people we care about." Willow twisted her face into a bitter-sweet half-smile and Buffy ran the remainder of the distance to Wes's car with her friend's blessing.
"Hi?" Buffy was slightly bemused when her caller ID said she was speaking to one of the spare cells she had brought back from LA. She couldn't understand why anyone at the house where she had left said phone, wouldn't be using the land-line.
"Buffy, it's Bee-."
"Bee? As in bumble? How did you get this number? How did you get that phone?"
"Tara rang, said she needed help with the research. I came. Listen, we've got a problem, a couple of problems. Tara says she'll speak to you when she finishes upstairs or when you get back here, whichever is sooner, but right now she's trying to stop Spike heading out on his own for a rendezvous with some guy who called and spoke to your sister."
"I don't know. Don't know if Tara does either. She packed Dawn up and sent her off with her boyfriend as soon as I got here. I'm not sure what the deal is with that. Tara seemed to think Dawn was in danger but from the scream I heard seems like she did a pretty good job of defending herself."
"Scream? Who screamed? Where's Brandon taking Dawn?"
"Yes. Spike. Away."
"Wh-?" It took a while for Buffy to put together Bee's answers with the relevant questions. When she had, the ease with which her sister had dealt with the vampire seemed out of place. "Bee, how sick is Spike? Put him on the phone."
"Are you sure? Tara was trying to do a barrier spell to keep him in without tipping him off. If I go up there now, it might give the game away."
Giles winced as he heard the tone Buffy took for her next comment. "Put Spike on this phone now."
Bee heard a scratching sound and looked over to see Rupert standing by the back door. With a muttered, "Already?" she pulled the door ajar before teetering towards the stairs.
When she saw Tara kneeling on the upstairs landing she hissed to the other girl, while covering the phone's mouthpiece, "Buffy wants to talk to Spike."
Tara frowned. "I'm not sure that would work right now. I'll take it."
The Wiccan rose to her feet, incanting a few words in Latin before she took the phone from Bee. "Buffy?" As the witch reached out a hand the air in front of Buffy's bedroom door shimmered and resisted her. She leant against the barrier with all her weight and when it didn't give she turned her full attention to the phone conversation.
"Tara? Where's Spike? I want to speak to Spike."
"Buffy, I don't think that's a good idea until you can get back here to do it in person. I think there's something or someone here in the house, playing with Spike's head. Just after you left he seemed to get a lot worse and he started hallucinating, or so we thought, only Rogue seems to be aware of whatever it is he's seeing, at least some of the time, so maybe he is hallucinating but I think there's something there, too. From what he said when I was talking to him, I think he thinks that something is you. I think it tried to make him hurt Dawn."
"That's ridiculous. I'd... I mean."
"Buffy. I know, and if Spike was in his right mind he'd know too, but he's not. He's running a fever so high that if he was human he'd probably already be dead, and I just don't think until you can actually get here in the flesh that you're going to convince him that you're the real you and whatever is in there with him and Rogue is the impostor."
Wes pulled over at the next intersection, waiting to see whether Buffy would want to head for Revello. He was stunned when instead of giving directions, Buffy pushed open her car door before he had even come to a complete stop.
"You guys find this Woody guy. I've got to go home. Spike's... The First is there and it's messing with him."
"But-." Giles tried to reason with her.
"I'll run. If I cut across a few yards it'll be just as quick as the drive." She raised the phone again as she scrambled out of the car. "Tara, I'm on my way."
Even as he made his final preparations, Spike used his full concentration to listen in on what was being said downstairs. As soon as he heard Tara banish Dawn and her boyfriend from the house he pulled Buffy's motorcycle helmet on, forcing it down over his head with leather-gloved hands. As protection went, it was by no means fool proof. Even this early in the day, he would have to keep his head well down to avoid his face being burned behind the plastic visor but Buffy had banished his scruffy, singed and slightly smelly blanket to the basement, so for the sake of a quick exit he would take his chances with what was to hand. He knew the others would try to stop him from going alone. This time, though, he had to clean up his own mess. Buffy might be joking now about always having to rescue him but if he let the trend continue he would be nothing but a millstone round her neck like Harris, a handicap, a vulnerability her enemies could rely on being able to exploit. Her gentle teasing would give way to scorn. Instead of love and desire, when they touched he would feel her discontent and eventually her hatred.
He opened the sash window as far as he could, but climbing out would still have been clumsy and time consuming and for all Glinda allowed herself to be overshadowed by her former lover, she was a powerful Wicca in her own right. In fact, Spike was willing to bet that in her purity of spirit the witch had access to far more power than she gave herself credit for, if only she had the confidence to use it. Willow drew the bulk of her power from the darker magical elements. Her magic was showier and more obvious. Spike believed that when his wild dove grew into her power, or when necessity drove her to test her own limits she would prove that though she wouldn't use her power to harm others, in every respect bar that, she was more than Willow's equal. He wound a black scarf around his neck, covering the last of his visible flesh before he let his demon take charge. Taking as much of a run-up as space would allow he dove through the window, somersaulting once before he landed on his feet just beyond the bounds of the strip of ground that Joyce had planted with roses and other flowers. Staggering slightly before he regained some semblance of his normally perfect balance he lurched off in the direction of the nearest sewer entrance.
Rogue jumped up, her front paws resting on the open windowsill as her master left her behind. She whimpered, trying to coax the vampire into coming back to fetch her, but when he didn't relent, she scrambled up onto the sill and then through the window, landing clumsily with her right front leg twisting under her. Her pained yelp finally made the vampire turn, trying to wave her back toward the house. He should have known better. Even favouring her injured leg slightly, the bitch seemed determined to maintain her vigil over what she regarded as her vampire. She covered the distance between them in a blink and Spike had to concede defeat rapidly or risk attracting Tara's attention, thereby causing the confrontation his ultimatum was designed to avoid. The whole point of telling the witch he would be coming out in five minutes was to give him the chance to sneak out the back in two, that and making sure Bitty Buffy got her arse out the way before anything happened. He swiftly returned to his original route with the puppy easily keeping pace with a three-legged lope.
Looking down from the bedroom window, The First Evil gave a satisfied smile. It would have been easier if those three bunglers had managed to stay out of jail and maybe, somehow the demon could have been reclaimed. Too bad that he would have to be sacrificed instead, but there was no way he could be allowed to remain with the slayer. Who would have believed that a soulless vampire could resist evil's lure, whilst humans with the full quota of free will were so easy to manipulate? It gave one last Buffy smile before folding in on itself, only to appear at Robin Wood's shoulder on the far side of town.
If you are under the age of 17, please use your head and do not read fics that are labeled "NC-17". Parents, I cannot control what your children are reading, so please be advised that the majority of the fics archived here are NOT suitable for those under the age of 17.
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I am in no way making any profit from this site. This is for pure entertainment purposes only.
Concept: (c)bringonthebloodshed.com (2004), Code & Design: (c)Diabola (2006), Graphics: Selene & Always