Chp 19 Super-Vamp?
Forever and a Day
The chp numbering has gone wonky as last chp got posted twice. Hope this doesn’t confuse people.
Chp 19 Super-vamp?
In the cave deep underground in the Devil’s Punchbowl, Buffy was bracing her hands against the rock face, holding herself as steady as possible as Spike stood on her shoulders. Although she could take his weight easily, his boots dug hard into her flesh as he shifted around, trying to force the giant boulder above his head away from the entrance to the outside world.
“It would help if I was a foot taller, pet,” he groaned. “Never wished I had Liam’s physique but a few more inches would help. I - can’t – get – enough – purchase on the sodding thing.”
Buffy turned her head and stared back across the cave to where the rocks piled ontop of the shaft were beginning to move, pressed from underneath by the viscious red muck that was forcing itself upwards. And all the time, came the steady thud, thud, thud of some giant heartbeat. Something was being carried by the mist, forcing its way to the surface from whatever hell it had lived in for all these centuries.
With a sudden curse, Spike lost his balance and somersaulted neatly to the ground at her side. “Sorry, Slayer. Let’s try again.”
Buffy shook her head. “Waste of time, Spike. We have to get off the ground. Fast!”
Throwing a shower of rocks and stones into the air, the red filth surged upwards, broke through the barrier and began to spread slowly across the cave floor, heat shimmering from the roiling, heaving surface.
Spike leapt onto a ledge and hauled Buffy to his side. There was just room for them both to balance but they were only a couple of feet off the ground. The heat was growing, second by second as the thick crimson spread out to cover the whole cave floor and still pumped up endlessly from beneath them.
Buffy felt Spike’s fingers twine round her. “Any ideas, Slayer?” he muttered. “Being a bloody super-vamp doesn’t seem to help at the moment!”
A shudder of despair ran through her body and then a wave of anger. It couldn’t end like this, trapped in some hell-hole, being burnt alive by demon muck. Not after all they’d gone through, all they’d endured to be together again. She wouldn’t let it end!
She squinted up at the boulder she could see better now on the opposite wall of the cave. There was something about the shadows at the top of it - yes, she was right – it wasn’t completely circular, the top of it was definitely flatter.
“Spike – look – top of the boulder – there’s enough room to stand on it then you might be able to kick it out. I’ll throw you across to it. Quick – move!”
But before she could turn, he’d picked her up and she found herself flying effortlessly through the hot air and crashing down onto the rock. “What the – ” She struggled round to yell at her lover.
“You’re stronger than me, Slayer. All that lovely super vamp blood running through Slayer veins? You must be. Go on, pet. Hurry up. This muck’s getting a bit too close for comfort.”
“Stupid vamp!” Buffy flung him a despairing look, then turned back to the rock. She could see a faint line of light showing where the boulder was jammed into the entrance. Gritting her teeth, she tried to jam her fingers into the ridge. If she couldn’t push the boulder out, then perhaps she could pull it back into the cave!
For long seconds nothing happened, then the boulder rocked a fraction and she tugged again and again – she – would – make – it – move!
“Hey, Buffy. Love you, pet. Always will.” Spike’s voice was soft but carried across the hissing of the steam and the thud of whatever was trying to climb the shaft.
She gazed back at him and saw, to her horror, that the scarlet goo was now up to the ledge and oozing round his boots. Little flames spun off the surface and she knew that it was finally the end.
She turned and screamed at the boulder, shaking it with every muscle in her body and just as it rocked violently it seemed to receive a giant push from outside and rolled downwards. Like a spider, Buffy scrambled desperately across the top of it and leapt for the entrance as it crashed into the muck below, sending ruby flashes of flame leaping towards her.
She hauled herself upwards to find Willow standing there, her eyes black with magic, shaking with the effort of moving the boulder. Buffy couldn’t even thank her, she spun round to shout to Spike and the words died in her throat.
The heaving heat was now up to his knees but even as she watched, the moan of loss caught in her throat, the vampire picked up first one foot, then the other and walked across the surface, through the boiling heat, as if he was wading through toffee.
Strands of muck clung to his legs, but he wasn’t on fire, wasn’t turning to dust, and with a leap he was out of it, standing by her side, his face blank as he watched the red hellfire drop from his body and crumble to dirt on the damp ground. Then his gaze clashed with Buffy’s, but there was no need for words between them. What she was feeling, what she’d just gone through in the last few minutes was written on her face.
“Hi Willow,” he said at last, glancing over Buffy’s shoulder. “Good timing!”
“Hi, Spike!” she whispered, her eyes shuddering back to normal. “You walked – across all that – and the heat – you should have – Giles was right – not normal – Buffy!“
“Told you to try the stake trick, luv,” Spike said. “It would have worked. Super-vamp in more ways than one, eh?” His blue eyes blazed at her and she marvelled that even now he could make her head spin with desire.
Her mind refused to compute what this new power would mean to them. That he couldn’t be killed – OK, that was a given. But did it apply to all methods of slaughter. Would he be able to walk in the sunlight or was that one step too far? And other vampires? That was obviously what was behind Giles’ deadly determination to kill Spike. And for a brief second she pitied her ex Watcher. A world full of untouchable vamps. A world in which Slayers would become redundant and could be easily killed even by something that had just risen from its grave.
“Look, we can’t deal with all this now,” Buffy said, reaching out to briefly touch his hand, to reassure herself that this wasn’t some wacky dream and she would wake up to find herself alone again. “Will, yes, Spike does seem to have some pretty new powers but he’s still Spike. He’s not evil, just more obnoxious than usual!“
“Hey, Slayer, standing right here!”
Willow stared past them down into the cavern which was slowly filling up. “That noise, Buffy, it‘s like – ”
“A heartbeat, yes, that’s what we reckon. Listen, can you jam another rock in the entrance? I don’t think anything can stop it, but we need to slow it down a bit to give us time to think.”
“I – I’m not sure, Buffy. It took a heck of a lot of magic to move the boulder. I’m not certain I can do it again. Who put it there?”
Spike and Buffy glanced at each other. “It had to be Giles,” Buffy said at last. “It didn’t just roll there on its own! I’m sorry, Will, but there‘s no other way it could have happened.”
The red-head didn’t look surprised. She bit her lip, remembering that weird feeling she’d had when Giles had passed her as he climbed out of the Punchbowl. As if – as if it wasn’t really Giles at all! A shiver of terror ran through her body. The strength he would have needed to lift the massive rock was unbelievable.
Buffy could sense how scared and unhappy her friend was but knew she couldn’t do this without her. “Look, Will, we’ll both help you. How about that one over there? It looks big enough.”
The next few minutes passed in a blur of pain. Buffy and Spike between them lifted the rock a few inches off the ground and Willow, with a burst of purple energy, moved it upwards. At the last moment, her power gave out and it was left to Buffy and Spike to force it into the gap.
Buffy could feel the heat coming out of the cavern and wondered how long they would have before the surging mass of filth pushed their barrier aside as if it was weightless.
She sank down on the muddy ground and groaned as the pain in her muscles kicked in. Willow was sitting slumped, her back against a tree trunk, her head buried in her hands. Only Spike was still on his feet, pacing backwards and forwards, gazing up at the overcast sky and the path that led upwards towards the far distant rim of the Punchbowl. He’d stared down at his legs, almost unable to believe they hadn’t been burnt, that he was still there. He didn’t feel any different, but he was longing for the sky to clear, for the sun to shine, to try out his new powers once and for all.
Under their feet, the distant thud continued.
“Do you think Giles will be coming back?” Buffy asked at last when her breath returned.
Willow raised her head and tried to rub the dirt off her hands. “No. I reckon he’s gone. But, Buffy, what the heck’s going on? OK, I can understand why he might be worried about Spike – sorry, Spike! – because hey, super-vamp, not a happy thought especially because not chipped, but why try and kill you? It doesn’t make any sense. Unless - ”
“He knows I won’t allow him to destroy Spike,” Buffy said wearily. “But that’s nothing new. He was like that in Sunnydale – before – well, before.”
“So he’s quite happy for you to die?”
Buffy shrugged. “Lots of Slayers around now, Will. He knows I’m not indispensable any more.”
“But Buffy, this is Giles!”
“Is there a chance, any chance at all, that he’s come in contact with the mist?” Spike asked.
Willow gazed up at him, her eyes wide. “What? The mist? No, no, I got the barrier up really quickly. Well, I thought it was quick. I’m OK. Hey, you do believe I’m OK, don’t you?” Spike waved an impatient hand at her and she went on, “We were in the car when we realised what was happening. It had begun to snow. The mist was beginning to appear. Giles told me to start some sort of barrier to protect us. Then he – ” she stopped.
“Then he what?” Buffy asked sharply.
“He got out of the car to clear the snow from the wipers. But Buffy, he was back inside again within seconds and I had the barrier up and working. It didn’t have time to touch him. It couldn’t have! And he seemed perfectly normal. He didn’t turn into a little boy. He’s still Giles.”
Buffy reached out a hand and Spike pulled her to his feet, giving her a brief hug as she leant against him. “The old Rupert Giles would have had trouble lifting a heavy suitcase, let alone a five ton rock, Will! Whoever or whatever he’s become, he’s dangerous.”
“What do you want to do?” Spike asked. “Find him? Work out what he‘s become? Could get nasty, pet. We’re both stronger and I’m – well, I don’t reckon he can hurt me now, but you and Red are still vulnerable if he’s become that strong.”
Buffy shook her head. She‘d learnt a long time ago that friends, enemies, even family could never be put in front of the mission. There might be hundreds of other Slayers out there, but she was the one standing here. She was the one who was going to have to deal with this situation. “Giles isn’t our main problem. Listen! Whatever‘s coming is coming fast now.”
She stared at the entrance to the cavern. She could see sullen red light gleaming all around the boulder they’d placed there. And the sound was definitely louder. Something was coming up out of the ground, something that had been lying dormant for centuries was about to burst out into the English countryside and there were just the three of them standing in its way.
To be continued
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