Chp 9 Two for Gold
Three for a Secret
Two for Gold
Buffy took a deep breath as Spike issued his challenge to Div’vid – that if he discovered Arabella was doing anything in this dimension to harm his chances of finding out what had happened to Hope, his sister, then he would kill her, regardless of the fact that she was his cousin and also his Childe, as he’d turned her all those years ago.
Div’vid growled deep in his chest and pawed at the ground, tearing up great clods of earth with the polished cloven hoof that poked neatly through the cuff of his smart business suit. “You will not touch a hair on Arabella’s head or I will kill you! Friend or no friend.”
Spike vamped out and prowled forward, eyes flashing gold. Buffy leapt between the two friends, wishing, not for the first time, that she were a few inches taller. Her head only came up to the middle button of Div’vid’s jacket.
“OK! OK! Back off, both of you. Div’, no one’s going to hurt Arabella. Not if she hasn’t done anything and not even if she has because I promised Spike. And Spike, calm down. I expect Willow’s right – she usually is! – and your cousin has remembered something that will help you find news of Hope and gone rushing off.”
For a long couple of seconds the vampire and demon glared at each other and the rest of the group held their breath until Spike’s face shimmered back into human form and the red glare vanished from the emerald demon’s eyes.
“But why didn’t she tell me there was another locket?” Spike snapped.
Buffy shook her head. “No idea, but let’s find her first, then we can ask her.” She stared around at what to her seemed like a Disney world scene. Two big butterflies fluttered around her head, their wings a shimmering purple and pink. She batted them away, wondering what they appeared to be to the others. Not Disney, that was for sure. It was mega weird that she saw this world in one way and everyone else saw it differently.
She hadn’t wanted to let anyone out of her sight, but there was no point in them all charging off in the same direction. “We need to split up and hunt for Arabella,” she said. “Stay together and no one wander away on their own. We haven’t been threatened by anything yet, but we’ve no idea what’s out there, waiting for us.”
Anya laid a hand on Div’vid’s arm. “I’ll come with you,” she said brightly. “I’d like to help.”
“Ahn!” Xander’s voice was raised in astonishment and hurt.
She tossed her head. “There’s no point in saying “Ahn” in that tone of voice Xander Harris! You’ve obviously been doing or saying something to this guy’s wife otherwise he wouldn’t have been chasing you. Sometimes I think you think I’m plain stupid. Just be thankful my vengeance days are over. But I warn you, if I ever discover you’ve been unfaithful to me – well, syphilis will be the least of your problems!”
She caught hold of Div’vid’s arm and together they hurried off between the trees, the mournful cow like calling of Arabella’s name echoing through the trees.
“Leave it, Xan,” Willow said. “She isn’t listening.”
“Will, I need someone to stay here at The Magic Box,” Buffy said, trying to ignore Xander’s hurt expression. “I don’t want us all wandering around without someone at base – if something goes wrong, I’ll need you as back up.”
Willow nodded. She stared around her and shuddered slightly. “OK, Buffy. I’d like to explore further, but this place is weird. I don’t like the way it changes whoever’s looking at it. Creepy! Come on, Xander. Let’s go inside. I want to have another look through some of Giles’ older books, see if there’s any reference to what this universe is about.”
Buffy turned to Spike once they were alone. He was staring out at what seemed to her to be two pretty butterflies hovering over a clump of primroses, his expression bleak. She noticed that his hands were clenched fists and she could almost see the tension flowing from him.
“Right,” she said, trying to sound cheerful. “Let’s go find Arabella.”
Spike looked at her and she winced at the pain she saw in his eyes. “I don’t understand, Slayer. What’s Bella doing? This isn’t a game. Not a soddin’ joke. ”
“Hey, back up a bit. No one’s saying any of this is a joke. If your sister was on this world – then we’ll find out what happened to her.”
Spike turned away. She made it sound so easy but the jungle around them was growing thicker and darker as he watched. Wherever the light was coming from – and it certainly wasn’t sunshine – it was fading fast. “We’ll never find her now. It’s getting dark.”
Buffy stared at him, puzzled. As far as she could see, the light flickering through the forest canopy hadn’t changed at all. “Not so much. Come on, you’re not going to find out what happened to Hope by standing here feeling sorry for yourself! And we don’t know that Arabella’s doing anything wrong. Perhaps she thinks she’s helping.”
The reply ripped back at her. “What’s this, the Slayer’s pep talk to depressed vamps? You don’t even like Arabella.”
“OK, she isn’t top of my Christmas card list. I don’t trust her; I never have. But she’s your family and I promised you ages ago I wouldn’t stake her unless she attacked me. She hates me, that I do know. But hey, vampire and Slayer here and she also knows that we have – we do – well, we have a connection.”
“Sex,” Spike said drily.
Buffy flushed. “OK, sex, a physical sort of – thingy. Call it what you like. Arabella knows this and she doesn’t like it. She loves you, Spike. Oh – ” she waved a hand to stop him speaking, “not in a cousinly, Childe sort of way. But a male and female sort of way.”
“That’s a load of – ”
“It’s a load of truth!” Buffy snapped, interrupting him. “Don’t you think I can sense when someone else loves you, don’t you think I don’t look at her and feel jealous!”
Spike looked bewildered. “Jealous? Are you saying -?”
Buffy stepped in close to him. She needed him at his fighting best. She had to break through this black despair and make him react and she only knew one way. “Yes, you stupid vamp. I feel jealous when another girl looks at you that way and I know exactly what she’s thinking. ‘Why isn’t he mine?’ ‘What would it be like if he kissed me?’ ‘What would happen if he touched me - there?’”
She reached out and cupped his face between her hands. She ran her thumbs over his cheekbones, then slid he fingers down his cheeks, circling his lips, whimpering as he caught one between his teeth, sucked it into his mouth and licked it. His tongue was cold and rough against her skin and she welcomed the tremors that travelled across her nerve endings as she imagined that same tongue touching other parts of her body.
She could see the despair in his eyes lift a little and the growl from his chest told her that she had at last broken through. “You don’t know the meaning of the word jealousy, pet,” he said at last, pulling her close and burying his face in her hair. “Every time I think of you and Riley, you and Liam, you and every bloody man you’ve ever spoken to, I want to rip their throats out!”
“Well, if we’re making lists, can I put Dru at the top of mine?” Buffy muttered, her voice muffled from her face being almost flattened against his chest. She fought free. Breathing was good for humans. Breathing was necessary!
“Dru didn’t like Bella,” Spike muttered absently and for the first time ever, Buffy felt a great fellow feeling for her mad ex rival. “She said she lied. She said no stars danced in the sky above her head. I never knew what the bloody hell she meant.”
Buffy wriggled herself even closer. She’d missed this intimacy, this sense of belonging that only occurred when she was held in his arms. The temptation to agree with Dru, to tell Spike that his cousin was a no-good ho with no morals and even worse dress sense was overwhelming. But she knew deep down that however angry he was with his cousin at the moment, the bonds of family and siring were forged in steel and although they might be bending at the moment, it was unlikely that any words from her would break them entirely.
“Listen, when I met Arabella at her party, I wanted to kill her. Not because she’s a vampire, but because I thought you had something going on with her. We fought over you, Spike! You can’t have forgotten that.”
The rumble in his chest turned out to be laughter. “I thought you were drunk, pet. Both of you. And two girls fighting, both almost stark naked, well, you saw the effect that had on me! You felt it too! I’ve never been so hard – ”
He stopped as Buffy dug him in the ribs with her elbow. Then, “Wish I’d had a video camera! I could watch it when I’m all alone in my crypt – ”
The elbow dug deeper and he stopped, reluctantly.
They stood in reflective silence for a moment, memories running through their heads. Then, “Hey, I still don’t believe Arabella would do anything to hurt you,” Buffy said, reluctantly pulling herself out of his embrace. “She wants you to like her. Hell, she wants you to love her. So, let‘s get to work. Find her and get to the truth.”
* * * * * *
A mile away, Spike’s cousin was sitting perched on a jagged rock, wearily inspecting the sole of her boot that had come loose. She felt dirty and tired and extremely irritable. This trip was not turning out as she’d expected!
Arabella stared around her at the bleak, barren landscape and ducked as two huge bats came sweeping towards her, seemingly intent on getting tangled up in her hair. She pulled her boot back on, pulled the gold locket out of her pocket and stared at it.
There had been no way she was going to tell William and his little Slayer about this second clue. She’d learnt a long time ago that you always kept one card up your sleeve. She could still hear Darla’s voice, the hard-edged purr that could scare you silly if you let it.
“The silver pendant unlocks the door to the other dimension, but you need the gold one to find where I put the squealing child. One for silver, two for gold, three for a secret that must never be told.”
Dusk was falling now. Arabella sighed and stood up. If she’d managed to leave Buffy behind when the portal opened, she’d had every intention of using the gold locket secretly so she could ‘accidentally’ lead William to his sister. She hadn’t reckoned on the whole Magic Shop being transported. All these stupid people blundering about, making her life difficult.
She felt tears well in her eyes. Really, was it so much to ask – that she found happiness with the man she’d always loved? She’d waited so long for Cousin William to turn to her, for Dru’s hold on his emotions to finally weaken and die.
She’d watched from nearby when the four of them, Angel, Darla, Dru and William had spent their time together. She’d always been on the outside, looking in. Oh, they’d been polite and once Angel and she had – but only the once! She’d seen the look in Darla’s eyes and backed away, graciously.
Eventually she’d realised that her unlife was passing her by. She was going to end up alone, century after century. And there’d been Div’vid, waiting for her. So she’d stolen Darla’s pendants and married Div.
But she’d always known Cousin William was her destiny. She’d watched and waited, year after year, through war, famine, revolutions – always alert for any sign that Dru was loosing interest, or news that some Slayer had staked her.
And now there was this human, this stupid, pathetic little girl hanging around him. So Buffy Summers was a Slayer! So what? Arabella had killed one herself, many years ago. It hadn’t been that difficult. Men, especially Liam and William, made such a big fuss about Slayers. That and football.
Arabella tossed back her long brown curls and brushed the dust from her skirt. The gold locket was showing her the way. It throbbed insistently went she walked in a certain direction. All she had to do was go where it wanted to go and she would find Hope.
“Arabella! Sweetheart – answer meeeeee!”
She frowned as the mournful mooing of Div’vid’s voice echoed across the rocky plateau she was standing on. She shouldn’t have stopped to rest. He was much closer now. And – she raised her nose and sniffed the air – there was a human woman with him. But not all human, there was a trace of demon in her as well.
She smiled and turned to continue up the path. That would be just perfect – if her husband was interested in another woman, then he wouldn’t be nearly so difficult to persuade that she belonged with William. But there was, of course, the little question of all his millions.
Arabella frowned as she climbed the path that led her higher and higher into the cliffs that reared up into the evening sky. No, tempting as it might be, she couldn’t give Div’ to another girl. Being with William was her main aim, but she wanted to be with William and rich! So if whoever was with her husband was any sort of threat, she would have to die. Painfully.
And with a happy smile on her beautiful face, Arabella felt the pendant twitch in her palm once again and obediently climbed faster as she planned death, divorce and years of making sweet love to Cousin William.
To be continued
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