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Forever and a Day by Lilachigh
Chp 18 Friends and Enemies
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Forever and a Day

Chapter 18 Friends and enemies

Buffy took a last look at where the revolting, heaving scarlet mass was rising towards them up the cliff face, and ran across the cavern floor to the far side. She peered anxiously up the rocky shaft she and Spike had slithered and slid down minutes earlier.

Spike was at her side, his face anxious. "Better make it quick, pet. Blob's getting bigger and bigger."

"Hey, I think we should think of a more evil sounding name than Blob," she gasped and turning to face him gestured upwards. He linked his hands, and as her foot touched them, he threw her skywards as hard as he could.

She scrambled into the shaft, dug her toes hard against a stony ridge and braced herself. Then, gazing up, she hesitated. It had seemed so simple, coming down. Although it had been steep, they'd managed to slide and scrabble until the final fall. But going back was another matter.

She wriggled round until she was lying flat, then reached down her arm and braced herself as she saw Spike jump, catch her hand and let her swing him up. He crawled over her and she muttered crossly as his boots jabbed her in the ribs. "Mind where you're putting your feet, vampire!"

"I was distracted by you sticking your bum in my face!"

Buffy grinned then stopped as, looking down out of the end of the shaft, she saw the first of the bubbling crimson mass surge and flow across the cavern floor.

"Blob's on the move!" she snapped and twisting over, managed to follow Spike up the passageway. It was a nightmare journey, the rock slicing their skin and without Spike’s strength, they would both have fallen back into the lower cavern, time and time again, but at last they crawled out into the top cave.

"Hopefully, it'll take some time to fill the lower cave," Buffy groaned, rubbing her scraped hands and elbows where the rock surface had scratched them.

Spike snagged a hand and licked her knuckles clean, his blue eyes gleaming up at her as he did so. "What next, Slayer?"

Buffy shook her head. She was so tired; why was there never enough time to stop and think? Jeez, she needed some sleep and a few hours to come up with a plan. She needed a holiday in Hawaii, too and a bright yellow Ferrari. Hey, what was the likelihood of getting any of it?

"At least the mist has stopped."

Buffy stretched her arms, trying to work the kinks out of her shoulder muscles. "Do you reckon the children will revert back to adults now it's gone?"

Spike was busy piling rocks on top of the shaft entrance. He didn’t think they would hold the Blob for long, but every second might count. “I’ve been thinking about that. You know, over all these years of different countries being infected, nothing has finally happened, has it?”

Buffy leant against the cave wall, trying to get her brain to function. “And in words of one syllable?”

“Well, we know from the diaries that the Plague has been coming across Europe every generation. And it’s caused bloody havoc. But life’s gone on, hasn’t it? Wars, revolutions, inventions, people being born, dying normally. Adults have been changed into kids but not everyone in the world, just those in the line of the mist.”

Buffy frowned. “So, you’re saying we needn’t have bothered? We should just have got out of its way and let it feed Blob?”

Spike heard the anxiety in her voice and recognised the “I am the Slayer, how have I failed to save the World’ tone and pulled her into his arms. He held her close, nuzzling the tender skin under her ear.

“No, Slayer. We couldn’t ignore it, but now we’re facing something different. I’ve no idea where the mist comes from but I reckon it only exists for a short time. It gets so far, then fades away. Then years later, it starts again from the same place it died.”

“So all this time, it’s been heading for the Devil‘s Punchbowl and now it’s arrived and the Blob is on the move?”

“Seems likely, pet. I think this is its ultimate destination and now it’s here, feeding the Blob. This must be the firs time. There’s no mention in the diaries of a heaving red mass kerflumping across Europe and hey, it would be hard to miss.”

Buffy moaned gently, enjoying the sensation of being supported on so many levels. “You know, Spike, we really have got to get Giles and Willow to talk to us properly. They’ve got more brains than us. They might have some idea what we should do next.“

Spike sighed. He had no doubts whatsoever that the only talking Giles wanted to do was over his dust as it floated away on the breeze. “We can try, pet. But this super strength the Plague has given me terrifies your Watcher. He can’t see beyond it. He thinks that because I’m stronger, I must be even more evil.”

Buffy pulled herself free and tugged down the T-shirt that had somehow been scrunched up under Spike’s wandering hands. “Spike -? Which way did we come in?”

The vampire spun round, confused. “Well, the shaft’s over there, so – ” he pointed at the rocky face of the cave. “Up there’s the ledge – you can still hear the water trickling down into the pool.”

“So where’s the entrance?”

Spike frowned. She was right. There should be some light by now coming through the rock face above the pool. OK, it hadn’t been a very big crack they’d squeezed through, but big enough to see light of some sort.

He jumped, exalting in the extra strength and power in his limbs, caught hold of the ledge and swung himself up. Yes, there was the opening in the rocky ceiling above his head – and it was blocked! Buffy landed at his side and, without speaking, he lifted her so she could run her hands over the boulder, pressing hard against it but without any success.

He let her down and she glanced up at him, her eyes stormy grey. “That stone’s far too big to have just rolled there by accident. Someone’s deliberately tried to stop us getting out.”

“Well, I don‘t suppose there’s any prize for guessing who,” Spike said.

“Giles? But Spike, he couldn’t move something that size on his own. And Willow would never – ”

“Wake up and smell the coffee, sweetheart! They’re convinced I’ve evolved into some super big bad. They want me dead, Buffy.”

“But they’ll be killing me as well. No, I’m sorry, Spike. Willow would never agree to that.”

”What about Giles?” Spike tried to stop the bitterness he was feeling from sounding in his voice. What was the point? It didn’t matter what he did or said, Rupert Giles would never trust him. And come to that – Spike realised with a start – he’d never trust Rupert Giles again.

Buffy’s face grew paler and, for a second, she appeared to be years older. Spike struggled to control his feelings. He knew that as well as not trusting Giles, he now hated him with a vengeance for making the woman he loved look like this.

“For the greater good – as he sees it – ” She paused, all the times and conversations she’d had with her Watcher over the years flooding back – “Yes, he’d let me die. Oh, he’d be sad, distraught even, but with Giles it’s always been a case of the many are more important than the one. And let’s face it, there are hundreds of Slayers now. One less won’t matter that much.”

Spike didn’t reply. He glanced over his shoulder and winced as he saw a bright red light appear under the rocks he’d piled over the entrance to the shaft. “Well, we can go on talking about it, Slayer, or we can get the hell out of here. Blob‘s making its way up the tunnel and I don’t think this cave is going to be too healthy once it breaks free!”

Buffy tensed. “Can you hear anything?”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “I was wondering when you were going to notice, pet!”

From beneath them, deep in the rock shaft where the heaving scarlet filth was boiling, came a deep, thud, thud, thud –

“It’s like – ” Buffy hesitated; this was going to sound really stupid.

“A heartbeat?” Spike finished for her.

Buffy shuddered. Exactly what was coming for them? What was trying to escape?
“The Blob isn’t the enemy after all, is it?” she whispered. “It’s just protecting something, covering it like a shield. Whatever the mist has been feeding, it isn’t the Blob. It’s something else!”

“And once again, I think the best place to be when it arrives is Not Here! Look, can you hold me if I balance on your shoulders? I might be able to move the bloody thing.” And he didn‘t need to tell her what would happen to them if he didn’t.

Up above them in the great hollow in the Surrey countryside, the Devil’s Punchbowl, Willow snapped her phone shut. Her conversation with Kennedy down in Wales had been horrid. OK the reception had been awful but her lover couldn’t begin to understand what Willow was talking about. Life was fine, she was demon hunting, she’d killed several. What mist? What Plague? Had Willow been drinking too much coffee again?

Couldn’t she hear the anxiety in her voice? She was a strong girl, determined, forceful, but sometimes her lack of sympathy was upsetting. And at the first mention of Buffy being in some sort of trouble, she’d just laughed and said that Buffy was a Slayer. She would cope.

Willow stood, halfway up the muddy slope and stared around for Giles. He’d said he was going to check that Buffy and Spike weren’t on the other side of the stream, and then follow her up to the car-park. How had she missed him? He wasn’t in the car and he hadn’t passed her, she was sure of that.

She hesitated. The mist had stopped, but were they safe now from the feral children? She was too tired to try raising the magic barrier again. The amount of energy that had needed had drained her mentally and emotionally. And she was worried about Buffy. She and Spike seemed to have vanished off the face of he earth.

Giles seemed so sure that Spike had changed into some super vamp. She sighed. She couldn’t really see that it would make much difference. He still loved Buffy, still had the soul he had asked for, was still the man who’d given his life to save the world. Extra strength seemed a fair reward in some ways.

“Willow! Willow! Are you there? We need to get going. Back to London. Fast.”

Thank God, that was Giles. But he obviously hadn’t found Buffy and Spike. She could hear him calling her name. He was scrambling up the steep slope, muttering under his breath as his feet slipped in the mud.

Then, for some reason she would never fully understand, Willow stepped sideways behind a sprawling bank of bushes and brambles and didn’t reply as he passed.

To be continued
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