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Storm Warning by Lilachigh
Chp 7 Being Brave
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Storm Warning

Chapter 7 Being Brave

Summary: Season 5, between FFL and ITW. Spike visited Joyce in hospital: she asked him to do her a favour, distract Buffy to stop her worrying about her mother. Spike tells Buffy about a demon fight at the Bronze. Riley wakes to find the Slayer gone and leaving Dawn on her own, sets out to find her. As a storm rages, a lost demon child, Eriddny, wanders into the house and Dawn decides to do the adult thing and find the child’s parents. At the Bronze, Spike dancing with Buffy annoys Riley until they realise he’s left Dawn alone. Back at the empty house, Spike believes that a Lynfra demon has taken Dawn. Buffy sends Riley to hunt for her sister, knowing that Spike is the one she needs on her side in this situation. But the strength of the storm forces them to take shelter in an abandoned car – Riley’s. Dawn is nearly home with Erridny, whose mom has just discovered she is missing! But Erridny has now fallen ill.

Storm Warning

Dawn sank down on the top step of the stairway leading down to the distant basement part of the Sunnydale mall. She cuddled the little demon girl, Eriddny, gazing down in despair at the small face that instead of being a pretty pale lavender colour, was blotched with bright ugly pink. Her breathing was fast and erratic and she was moaning in her sleep. It was obvious that the child was ill, but what the heck should she do now?

She stared around her in desperation. Why hadn’t she stayed at home when Eriddny arrived? Buffy and Riley would have been back by now and Buffy would know exactly what to do. It had all seemed so straightforward when Eriddny was awake and healthy. Dawn would hand the lost kid back to her parents and they’d be grateful and she could go into hospital tomorrow and tell her mom what she’d done and her mom would be proud and pleased.

She patted the face gently; it felt hot and dry but for all Dawn knew, that was normal for this type of demon.

“I don’t want to go down there into the dark,” he muttered to herself, staring into the gloom where the stairs vanished. “What if I’m wrong and Eriddny’s home isn’t down there at all. She’s too small to know exactly where she lives. It might be in another part of the mall. But I can’t stay here. What if Eriddny’s really ill? She needs her mom and dad. Oh, I do wish Spike were here. He’s good with demons and things. He’d know what to do.”

She felt a wave of irritation at Eriddny for falling ill and then shook her head in disbelief because, suddenly, she had also felt irritated and annoyed at her mom for being sick, for being in hospital needing a horrible operation on her brain!

A sweeping nausea flooded through her body. What was wrong with her? Why did she feel so angry with them? Maybe she was sick, too? Yes – she grabbed at the thought and held it fast. That was it! Whatever germ Eriddny had caught, Dawn probably had it and it was making her think gross thoughts.

She stood up, cradling the little demon in her arms, although Eriddny seemed to be getting heavier every passing minute. Her mom wouldn’t be proud of her now; she’d be ashamed and what if she ever found out that Dawn had felt annoyed that she was ill? And Mom had a knack of finding out everything.

Dawn bit her lip hard and blinked back tears that burnt her eyes. All of a sudden she didn’t want to be grown up, didn’t want to do the same sort of brave things Buffy did. She wanted to be her mom’s little girl, curled up on her lap, feeling safe and secure from the world.

Carefully she started down the steps, heading for the dark. Well, Eriddny was someone’s little girl too and just because Dawn was scared and shaking was no excuse for being a coward. One thing she had learnt from Buffy was that being scared was never an excuse.

* * * * * *

Riley Finn stood at a crossroads and gazed in both directions. The wind and rain had slackened now to a dreary drizzle but he wasn’t even aware that he was wet through. The streets stretched away from him, black and empty; the streetlights were still off, deadened by the power cut. He banged a fist into his palm, wishing he were smacking his knuckles into Hostile 17’s stupid face. There was no way of knowing which direction the vampire and Buffy had taken.

A sudden movement glimpsed out of the side of his eye made him spin round and he pounced on a small, slight figure who was trying to sneak past. It was the bartender, Willie. Riley’s fist clenched in the man’s shirt and lifted him up off his toes. Willie gurgled helplessly and beat his hands against implacable shoulders.

“If you want to breathe again tonight, tell me where Buffy and Spike have gone?” Riley snapped.

“Gggoo dunno breeedd”


Willie’s face went a dark puce colour and Riley dropped him with a thud. The little guy gasped for air, clutching his throat, wondering what the hell had happened tonight for the soldier guy to come over all John McLean on him. “You only had to ask. No need for the physicals, Mr Finn.”

“I haven’t got time to waste, Willie. Where are they?”

The bartender looked up from where he was grovelling on the floor. It was second nature to him to lie, no matter who he was talking to, but there was an expression on the soldier boy’s face that made him fear for parts of his anatomy that he was particularly fond of.

“Saw them - about ten minutes ago - heading for the back entrance of - the mall. Doing a bit of late night shopping, bit of breaking and entering.” He couldn’t help the snigger, decided the thump of his nose was well worth it as he mumbled through a flood of blood, “well, depends what Spike is breaking and entering, I suppose.”

Riley left him lying in the gutter and strode away through the puddles back to his car. He flung open the trunk and pulled out a bundle of oiled cloth. For a long second he stared at the gun lying in his palm, one he’d been issued ages ago. Then he tossed it back in the trunk. Tempting as it was to think of shooting Spike, he didn’t think ordinary bullets would work and anyway, he wanted to feel his fists thudding into that dead white skin.

He slammed down the lid of the trunk and strode away. He had no idea what Spike was up to, but he knew Buffy never thought straight where Hostile 17 was concerned. She was probably in danger and it was up to him to save her. He straightened his shoulders and lengthened his stride. She’d be grateful and proud of him tonight. Of that he was quite certain. He could imagine her voice now – he loved the way she sounded when she was feeling passionate about something – she would say, “Jeez, I’m so pleased to see you, Riley. I really need your help…”

* * * * * *

….“So why didn’t you want soldier boy to help you find Dawn and the demon?” Spike asked, as he forced open the staff entrance door to the mall with a length of metal piping he’d found lying nearby. “I’d have thought all those lovely muscles and his ‘let me rush into danger and get killed’ attitude would have been right up your street, Slayer.”

Buffy glared at him as the door screeched open for a couple of inches. “Riley’s busy helping. He’s checking out the graveyards. We could be wrong about the Lynfra. He might so find Dawn before us.”

Spike raised an eyebrow, then swerved to one side as Buffy’s booted foot shot out, hit the door four-square and it flew off its hinges and crashed to the ground. “Temper, temper, Slayer. Don’t blame me or the fixtures and fittings if you’re beginning to realise that having a boyfriend who isn’t as strong as you isn’t such a good idea.”

Buffy vaulted over the door and stared into the corridor that lay ahead. “I suppose you think you’d make a better one?” she said absently, half her mind on trying to sense Dawn’s presence.

There was a long pause and she turned swiftly to look at him as the meaning of what she’d said suddenly hit her. His blue eyes gleamed in the soft emergency lighting. He tilted his head to one side and looked her up and down, very slowly. For a ridiculous moment, Buffy was back in the cinema with Willow and Xander, eating popcorn, watching a re-run of Gone With The Wind.

“He looks at me as if he knows what I look like without my chemise on.”
That had been roughly what Scarlet had said about Rhett and Buffy fought to keep the colour from flooding up into her cheeks.

This was Spike! He might be many things, but boyfriend material – never in a million, billion years. She’d done the vampire badboy bit. Now she had Riley who was nice and kind and ordinary and she did wish Spike would stop looking at her like that!

He took at step towards her, his gaze never leaving her face; Buffy wanted to turn and walk away but her feet refused to move. Spike reached out a hand and she knew that her own was reaching towards him which was ridiculous and weird and just then a deep, nerve-shattering roar swelled up from underneath their feet. A roar of anger and fear that turned her blood to ice.

Some – thing – wasn’t happy. It was out to kill and Buffy knew with a dreadful certainty that what it wanted to destroy was her kid sister.

In the rain-soaked street, Willie had picked himself up out of the gutter and stumbled towards the room he called home, wishing the Slayer and her boyfriends would leave him alone. It was impossible to run a successful business with Buffy Summers in town.

Rounding a corner, he hesitated as he saw a car smashed against a tree. So that was why Riley Finn had been on foot. Willie staggered over: the door was unlocked and in seconds he’d torn out the radio, wrapping it in a soaking wet denim jacket he found on the back seat. Automatically he tried to lift the lid of the trunk. It was sure to be locked – but it wasn’t. It swung up and he was suddenly staring down at a gun lying there.

In seconds it was tucked inside his blood-soaked shirt and he was scurrying off into the dark. So this night hadn’t been a complete waste of time after all. You never knew who might need a gun in Sunnydale. And the soldier boy who’d broken his nose so casually had just provided it free of charge. Willie grinned. One day someone would pay him good money for this.

And across town in Sunnydale Hospital, Joyce Summers lay, fighting back the fears that crowded in on her. Fears of what tomorrow would bring, what the operation would find; fears for her daughters, the one she loved, the one she hardly knew.

She waited for the sun to rise and wondered how many more times she would see the dawn, and if Spike had kept his word and distracted Buffy tonight. She rather thought he would. For all his faults, he was the type of man who kept a promise to a lady.

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