Chp 6 Storm Damage
Chp 6 Storm Damage
The torrential rain thundered down onto Sunnydale as the back of the storm finally hit town and decided to have a party.
Buffy turned sideways, trying to speak as the wind tried desperately to hurl her to the sidewalk. Spike grunted and grabbed hold of her hand as it slammed against his chest. He linked his arm through hers and together they staggered across the road, looking for shelter.
“Can’t think in this, Slayer!” he shouted. “Can’t track Niblet. Need to get out of it for five minutes.”
Buffy shook her head, the ribbon holding back her hair had long vanished and it clung blackly to her head. “We must find Dawn. Kill the thing that’s taken her.” She tried to pull her arm away, but Spike tightened his grip as a gust of hailstones threatened to flatten them.
He stared round; where the hell could they go? Then he spotted a car, its hood buried against a tree trunk. He dragged the protesting Slayer across the road, snatched the rear door open and pushed Buffy inside as another cloudburst deluged onto of them.
Buffy dashed water from her eyes, spluttering, gasping for breath. She couldn’t remember a storm like this hitting Sunnydale before. It seemed alive, malignant and she wondered if Glory had summoned it in some weird way. She tugged off her jacket – the denim was sodden and heavy. If she had to fight tonight, it would hamper her big time.
“Stripping for me, Slayer? Really, that’s a great way to say thank you, but – ”
“Spike – I wouldn’t strip for you if my life depended on it! I just want to get this jacket off, that’s all!”
The vampire raised an eyebrow and sighed. “My jeans are soaked and heavy, Slayer. Can I take them off now?”
“You touch your jeans and you’re dust, vampire!”
Spike shifted towards her on the leather seat and she wriggled away. “What the heck - ?”
But he was reaching for a packet of cigarettes that crumpled into mush under his touch as he pulled them out of his pocket.
“Bloody hell! That’s my last packet.”
“Am I supposed to be sorry about that? Being half-drowned, then forced to sit in a car with you is bad enough, Spike, without having smoke blown in my face. And don’t just drop all that filthy tobacco on the floor. This is someone’s car.”
Spike raised an eyebrow at her and continued to flick shreds of tobacco and paper off his fingers. He knew females were often blank about cars, but surely even the Slayer knew whose car this was? He could smell Riley Finn as plainly as if he was sitting there in the driver’s seat. But, and that was interesting, Buffy didn’t recognise the back seat so perhaps she and soldier boy had never clambered in here for a bit of –
“Ouch!” He yelped as she dug her elbow into his ribs.
“I said, don’t mess up this car.”
“You know you’ve got a rotten temper, Slayer. That could get you into big trouble one of these days if you’re not careful.”
Buffy sighed and tried to wring rainwater out of her hair without success. “You mean more trouble than I’ve got now? Unlikely. My mom’s in hospital waiting for an operation, my kid sister’s been abducted by a demon, there’s going to be a huge fight at the Bronze, my boyfriend – “ She hesitated, then went on, “ - and instead of finding sister, killing demon and stopping fight, I’m forced to sit here, soaked through, freezing cold, sheltering from a storm with a smelly vampire.”
“Smelly?” Spike sounded outraged.
“Tobacco, Spike. Not roses and gardenias, you know.”
Spike surreptitiously ground the remains of the cigarettes into the carpet under his feet. He had a pretty good idea that Riley would know exactly who had left them there when he managed to get his car back on the road. Would he wonder exactly what his girlfriend had been doing in the back seat? Spike grinned to himself: he hoped so.
He began to reply to the Slayer when he caught a glimpse of her face. She had turned away from him and was staring out of the window at the rain still cascading down the glass. But he could see her reflection plainly. She looked white and worried and unhappy.
He felt a twinge of something he recognised from his past; something he hadn’t experienced for a very long time – regret. Not, he hastened to tell himself, about upsetting the Slayer. Bloody hell that was his job! Chipped or not, he was an evil vampire and upsetting Buffy Summers was his life’s work.
No, he regretted that he wasn’t keeping the promise he’d made to her mother – to distract Buffy this evening so she wouldn’t sit and worry about operations, brain tumours, and nasty shiny little knives. He liked Joyce Summers and the whole of this evening’s fun and games had been started on her behalf. He was in danger of forgetting that.
He hesitated – bloody hell, perhaps he should tell Buffy that the story about the demon fight at the Bronze had been just that – a story? Would it help her to know that Joyce - as worried as she was about her operation - was more worried about her daughter? Would it make him feel better to share that with the Slayer? Yes, perhaps it would. There were some things that were more important than Slayer versus Vampire arguments.
He opened his mouth to speak when Buffy said, “The rain’s easing a little. Can you try and get Dawn’s scent again? I’m afraid all the glitter tracks from the Lynfra will have been washed away.”
Buffy bit her lip and felt her nails digging crescents of pain into her palms. Where the hell had Dawn gone? And why? She was holding onto the fact that there hadn’t been any signs of a struggle in the house. And why would a demon break in? She was well aware that unlike vampires, they usually went about their own business on their own level. It was only when the two worlds collided that trouble occurred.
Was it anything to do with Dawn not being her real flesh and blood sister? Had some “thing” from her magical past come and taken her. These Lynfra thingies?
She tensed as Spike moved slightly to wind down the window and gaze out. Should she tell him about Dawn? Would it help them find her if he knew?
She realised, with a rush of guilty relief that she wanted to tell him! Sharing this burden with Spike wasn’t the same as telling the Scoobies. He was – different. Sharing with him was – different. Because…because he was evil and didn’t have a soul and couldn’t get upset, she finished triumphantly to herself, even if none of what she was thinking made sense.
She turned – “Spike – listen – about Dawn!”
“OK, OK, you don’t have to ram home the point with a hammer, Slayer. Rain’s stopping. Come on. We can’t sit here all night. It’ll be morning soon and I need to be indoors.” He stopped and looked at her, his blue eyes sharply curious. “What were you going to say?”
“What? Nothing. It can wait.” Buffy got out of the car and shivered as the wind cut through her wet clothing. “So which way do we go? You’re being all Mr Last of the Mohicanish. Have you got any idea where this demon might have taken her or are you just talk?”
Spike stood, head tilted to one side, eyes shut, trying to catch any trace of Dawn. The rain had washed the streets clean but the wind was still strong, blowing a whole load of rubbish across the sidewalk towards them – paper, cans, tree branches, shoes – shoes!
He froze and strode forward. A glittery shoe was tumbling along in the gutter. He plucked one up and stared down at it.
He turned and held it out to Buffy. “Dawn’s?”
She shook her head. “No way. Not her style. And they’re not mine, in case you wondered.”
He grinned briefly, then, “Well, I don’t understand it, but this one’s got glitter inside it, Slayer. So a Lynfra demon has been wearing it recently.”
“I thought you said these demons were huge? That shoe would fit me.”
“Want to try it, Cinderella?”
Buffy sighed. “Shut up, Spike and be serious. So at least we know it’s a female. So hopefully not as big as the males, right?”
“A Lynfra’s touched this in the last hour, Slayer. Don’t know why or where, but it’s the only clue we’ve got.”
Buffy took it from him, frowning as she turned it over and over. “I recognise this – there were a pair in a shop window in the mall! Anya wanted Xander to buy them for her but he didn’t have enough cash. They were hideously expensive.”
“Right! The mall’s a good a bet as any. Lynfras like to make their nests deep under ground. Reckon the mall’s got a basement. There’ll be a way down into the sewer system. That’s where they’ll have taken Dawn.”
He turned and strode away down the road and Buffy followed him. She sighed. She might have guessed the evening would end up with her having to dive into a sewer!
The basement of the Sunnydale mall was dark and empty. Emergency lights from the generator gave off a greeny-yellow light that did just enough to break the darkness into vast islands of gloom. Metal grids and shutters hid the shop fronts from view, although the lingering smell of doughnuts and hot-dogs still hung in the air.
Dawn Summers walked slowly and carefully down the still, silent escalator from the ground floor, her feet making small metallic noises on the treads. Her arms ached from carrying Eriddny, the little demon child. She’d tried making her walk earlier, but the tears and tantrums had been too much to take.
Eriddny had been blessedly silent for a few minutes now; the arms that grew so weirdly from the top of her head were twined round Dawn’s neck so tightly that the teenager could hardly breath.
Dawn hoped fervently that the wretched kid had fallen asleep: all Dawn wanted now was to find Eriddny’s parents and hand them back their lost offspring. What had started out as an adventure was now just boring. She was tired and wanted to go back to bed. She wanted Buffy; she wanted her mom to appear, take over and sort out Eriddny. Mom was good with little children. Dawn could remember so many times at school and at parties where her mom had been lovely with her friends. And as soon as Mom was out of hospital, she’d tell her all about Eriddny and Mom would be pleased that she’d helped her.
She tried to heave Eriddny to a more comfortable position. How could someone so small be so heavy? Kids were a pain. She vowed never to have any, ever. Anyway, you needed to do – the thing – to have kids and that was gross. And what if she had a kid and it looked like Buffy. That would be double gross!
But at least she couldn’t hear the storm down here. That was a plus. Before she’d fallen asleep, Eriddny had muttered something about a door leading down into the part of the mall where all the heating pipes were installed. She’d insisted that was where her home was, but Dawn doubted that. She knew that there were some weirdos hanging around the mall but surely the people who worked there would have noticed a family of purple demons with faces where their waists should be and arms on top of their heads!
Back above ground, Riley Finn had finished checking the graveyards, but there was no sign of Dawn Summers. He was soaked to the skin by the torrential rain but grimly strode on, knowing that even though she wouldn’t say anything, Buffy would blame him for Dawn’s stupidity.
As he headed back towards the centre of Sunnydale, he realised he was close to his wrecked car. Great – he knew there was a gym bag in the trunk with dry clothes inside. At least he could change in the car and feel halfway human again.
He grabbed the bag, flung open the rear door – there would be more room in the back and stopped dead. The all too familiar smell of tobacco and whisky and vampire hit him in the face. Spike had been in his car. What the hell was going on? Then something caught his eye and he grabbed up Buffy’s denim jacket from the floor. Buffy and Hostile 17 had been in the back of his car and as the jacket was wet, it had only been a few minutes ago.
He felt his anger rising. They had been in his car and she had taken off her jacket. What for? And why were Spike’s cigarettes mashed into the carpet as if feet had trampled them down, oblivious to what was happening.
Dawn had found the janitor’s closet. Next to it was a small door standing ajar. She pulled it open and walked through. A metal stairway led down into the depths of the earth. She searched on the wall and found a light switch, but nothing happened. The electricity was still out in Sunnydale.
Dawn hesitated. The stairway yawned darkly before her. The emergency lights glimmered at the top, showing her the first few steps, but the rest vanished into the void.
“Eriddny! Eriddny, wake up, sweetheart. Is this where you live? Can’t you just run down to your mommy?”
Dawn pulled the little demon off her shoulder, then stared down. The little face in the middle of the child was no longer a pretty lavender, but a blotched bright pink. The small body twisted and turned as if in pain, the arms waved pathetically and little cries and moans rang out. It was obvious, even to Dawn, that the demon was sick, very sick.
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