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I Know You II by slaymesoftly
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Chapter Nineteen

When Buffy awoke, the TV was going; but Spike was asleep, his head against the back of the couch and his arms fixed firmly around her. She studied his face, amazed by how young he seemed when he slept. His lashes lay against the skin beneath his eyes and his sharply defined cheekbones were softened; as was the mouth that she now knew was just as soft and strong as it looked. It took a minute for her to register that he was breathing as he slept and she smiled at this sign of how human this particular vampire could be. As she tried to move, his arms tightened around her almost imperceptibly, then relaxed. She carefully slid his hands off her body and put them at his sides, before leaning forward and brushing her lips against his.

“Good-night, Spike,” she whispered as she stood up. He squirmed around on the couch, sliding into a more horizontal position and burying his face into the cushion. She gently picked up his feet and put them on the couch, then carefully took off his shoes and tucked the old afghan around him. With a final caress to the back of his head, she tiptoed to the bathroom and got ready for a few more hours of sleep before she had to get up and go to work again.

When she got up, groaning when she saw how late it was, there was no sign of the vampire in the living room, although the afghan was folded and once again in its place on the back of the couch. She quickly dressed and ate, blowing a kiss at the closed door of the basement before hastening off to work.

Now that she had met so many of the people who worked in the mall, she realized that she saw many of them every day, but just hadn’t paid much attention. Their friendly waves and calls of “Hi, Buffy” made her feel a bit guilty for not having made an attempt on her own to get to know anyone other than the people in her restaurant. With a start, she realized that the inhabitants of this world that she knew the best – Harry and Clem – were both demons.

If I didn’t already know I was in bizarro world before, that would do it, she thought ruefully as she returned the waves.

When her shift was over, she wasn’t surprised to find Spike waiting for her outside the back door. With Harry beaming at them as if he were entirely responsible for their newly happy faces, they left the restaurant and made a quick pass through the alley before walking towards home. When Buffy shyly slipped her hand into his, Spike almost gasped before he linked his fingers with hers. He was grateful that he had no reflection because he was sure that he was wearing a stupid-looking grin on his face as they strolled down the street.

When they got to the house, Spike gave her a little nudge towards the door, saying, “Go get changed into somethin’ warm, pet. I think if we hurry we should have several hours to prowl around Petersburg before we have to get back.”

“To do what, where?”

“Had a long talk with some mates while I was waitin’ for you to get off work. Think I know where those wankers are. Clem says it’s only a couple of hours away in a good car, so we can be there well before midnight. Give us time to look around, maybe sniff out where they’re holed up.”

She nodded and immediately headed for the front door while Spike went to get the car from behind the house. She was back quickly, hair pulled back into a businesslike ponytail and holding her hat and gloves. Rather than wear her bulky winter coat, she had layered her sweaters and sweatshirts for efficiency of movement. Over her shoulder was her weapon bag containing the stakes that she hadn’t already distributed around her body.

Spike nodded approvingly and held the door open for her once again, just as he had the night before. Buffy’s face twisted in a wry smile at the reminder of the previous night’s adventure.

“Why do I think tonight isn’t going to be as much fun as last night?” she grumbled, pulling her legs in so that he could close the door.

“Sure it will, pet,” he grinned as he slid behind the wheel and began to back out. “Jus’ different kind of fun, is all.”

“You sound almost like you’re looking forward to fighting,” she accused.

“I am lookin’ forward to it,” he said happily. “There’s not near enough excitement in this town.” He looked at her bright eyes and said shrewdly, “An’ you need to stop pretendin’ you’re not excited about it too, Slayer. You know you love a good fight just as much as I do – and you don’t often get one here.”

“Spike, nobody likes a fight as much as you do,” she insisted, but she was smiling as she said it and she had to admit that the idea of getting a chance to slay some challenging vampires had her feeling more alive than anything else had lately. Than anything else except what he did to me last night...I think I’d be willing to pass up a good fight for more of that.

As though reading her mind, he said slyly, “There’s things I like better than fightin’, Slayer. Might have a bit of time for some of that too, before the night’s over...”

Buffy blushed and stared out the window at the passing darkness. This was the first time that she had been very far outside the town limits and she wished that she could actually see what they were driving past. A denser darkness seemed to indicate a lot of trees, maybe even a forest, but she wasn’t sure. The road was narrow, but smooth and fairly straight and Spike pushed the car to what he felt were its limits until he could see the gradual lightening in the sky ahead that indicated a city.

“There it is, Slayer,” Spike’s voice interrupted her intent peering into the darkness; she sat up straighter and looked at the growing glow on the horizon. It wasn’t long before they were entering the city’s outskirts, which contained the usual assortment of warehouse, light industry and strip malls. The smattering of lights on the higher ground indicating the presence of residential areas that appeared to look down upon the main part of the city. Kinda like a small LA, I guess, Buffy thought idly as they moved into the downtown area.

For an hour or so, Spike just drove randomly, pausing occasionally to consult a crudely-drawn map that a former resident of the city had given him. It wasn’t detailed enough to use for finding a specific place, but it allowed him to have some idea what part of the city he was in and in what direction he needed to go to get to another. When he felt he understood the layout fairly well, and could find his way back to the road they had come in on, he pulled into a parking place on the surprisingly empty street and turned to Buffy.

“Ready to go, pet? The only way we’re going to get a feel for what’s going on here is to get out and talk to people.”

Buffy nodded, checking her pockets for her stakes before stepping out of the car. It wasn’t really cold yet, so she left her hat, gloves and her top layer of sweaters in the car. There were other pedestrians on the street, although there didn’t seem to be much activity in terms of nightlife. Spike had parked in what was clearly an entertainment district, but as they looked around it was obvious that very few of the bars, clubs, or theatres were actually open. The lights were on, but there was no one going in and out, with the exception of one or two places that Buffy could identify as demon bars even without prompting from Spike.

As they walked down the street, they seemed to be drawing more attention than they would have expected for a young couple going out for the evening. Even as Buffy began to say something about it, Spike pulled her into a darkened alley and pushed her against the wall, his hand over her mouth. She twisted her head away, but whispered, “What’s going on? I’m getting vamp vibes like crazy, but I didn’t see anybody that looked like they were hunting.”

Spike put his lips right beside her ear, smiling briefly as he felt her shiver. “I don’t hear any heartbeats out there, Slayer. Only yours. I don’t think there’s another human on that whole block.”

“Guess that explains the funny looks we were getting, huh?” she muttered under her breath. “Now what?”

He shook his head. “I dunno, pet. Don’t dare leave you here while I check it out – somebody would hear or smell you eventually – but we can’t just stroll down the street with every vamp out there knowin’ that only one of us has a heartbeat.”

The question of what to do was temporarily put aside when the alley entrance was darkened by several shadows. Spike lifted his head and snarled at three young vampires, now staring hungrily at Buffy. While he glared at the interlopers, she pulled a stake out of her pocket and slipped it up her sleeve.

“What do you lot want?” Spike growled, holding Buffy so as to appear to be restraining her.

The biggest of the three vamps swaggered towards them, his two friends following closely behind.

“We think you ought to share with us – or we’ll turn you in. You know it’s against the new rules to keep anything for yourself.”

“Sod the bloody rules!” Spike’s snarled defiance was all the more convincing for it being his normal response to being told about rules, whether he knew what they were or not. “But,” he said in a sudden change in demeanor, “if you want some of this, help yourselves, mates.”

He pushed Buffy into the center of the alley where she would have more room, and leaned against the wall casually. Confident that they had driven the smaller vampire off his prey, they converged on Buffy. If they noticed that she wasn’t screaming, but was, in fact, bouncing on her toes and wearing a predatory smile, they were too hungry to wonder about it; instead, they elbowed each other to be first to sink their teeth into the fresh, warm blood they could hear pounding in her veins.

“Have at it, love,” Spike said with a smirk as he moved to block the alley’s entrance. He lit a cigarette and watched as Buffy efficiently pummeled all three of the vamps into unconsciousness. She quickly dusted two of them, and when the surviving fledgling woke up it was to find a perky blonde human perched on his chest and holding a stake to his heart.

“Hi there! We’re new in town and we have a few questions for you. You don’t mind, do you?” She pushed the point of the stake in far enough to break the skin and smiled in what would have been a friendly fashion had her eyes not been so hard and cold.

“Wha-?” The vampire looked at Spike for some kind of clarification. “Was this a trap? To see if we were cheating? Cause we weren’t, you know. We wouldn’t have touched her if you hadn’t pulled her in here. That’s entrapment! That’s what it is....” His voice trailed off as Spike knelt down beside him and grabbed him by the balls. Spike gave a small twist of his wrist and the other vampire tried to scream, only to find Buffy’s hand over his mouth.

“Ah, ah,” she said. “No noise except to answer our questions. Got it?”

He nodded quickly, his eyes darting back and forth from the human holding the stake to his heart and the vampire who was clutching his testicles in an impersonal, but very powerful hand.

“’kay, then. Why aren’t there any people on the streets? Huh? And how come you didn’t think Spike should be eating me? Or that you would be in trouble if you did?”

She lifted her hand cautiously, while Spike gave a little squeeze to remind the vamp that he was only a muscle twitch away from serious pain. With a whimper, the nervous vampire began to speak.

“There isn’t any food on the street because nobody human goes out at night anymore. We thought you were taking her to the Master until you ducked in here. Nobody is allowed to catch their own food anymore. You have to take any humans you can find to the Master and he gives you blood. He controls all the blood in the city – except for those people who are still alive and hiding in their houses.”

Buffy’s face went white. “It’s just like the alternate Sunnydale,” she whispered. “Just like Buffy said in her letter – people are livestock here.”

“Where do we find old Batface?” Spike growled, twisting his wrist again and bringing a muffled shriek from the vamp underneath the Slayer. Although the frightened demon’s eyes widened to humorous proportions at Spike’s disrespectful description of the Master, he had no problem knowing to whom they were referring.

“He’s – they’re in an abandoned factory in an industrial park on the edge of town. You can’t miss it – it’s all lit up and there’s a lot of activity all night long.”

“Address,” Buffy snapped. “Give us an address.”

As soon as the vampire had complied, Buffy drove the stake through his chest and stood up before the dust had even settled onto the filthy pavement. She brushed herself off and turned towards the street, only to be stopped by Spike’s hand on her arm.

“We’re just gonna keep runnin’ into this kind of thing, pet. I suggest we get back to the car and see if we can find the lair. We’ll work out what to do next when we have a better idea what’s what, yeah?”

Buffy nodded her agreement and they left the alley, the Slayer hanging onto Spike as though too weakened to stand up by herself. Although many of the vampires that they passed gazed longingly at what seemed to be an already bitten human, most of them looked away quickly when Spike snarled at them. They had just reached the car when he heard the footsteps approaching rapidly from behind and whispered, “Ready, pet?” He ducked just as a bottle whistled past his head to break on his shoulder. In full game face, he whirled on the bottle-wielder and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him off his feet and throwing him into a near-by wall.

Buffy waited calmly as she was “captured” by two female vamps that stared hungrily at her throat but limited themselves to inhaling the scent coming off her warm body. She watched as Spike quickly twisted the head off another would-be enforcer, before turning back to face the first attacker. When he had turned their leader to dust and transferred his amber glare to the remaining male vampire, the girls holding Buffy began to shuffle their feet nervously. They pulled her away, growling and insisting that she come with them to join the rest of the “food.”

Spike looked at her and cocked one eyebrow inquisitively. At her tiny nod, he nodded back and allowed the demon he was fighting to think he was winning, long enough for Buffy to be dragged to a nearby van. As soon as the door had shut behind her, Spike dispatched his opponent without even bothering to let him know that the fight was over; then jumped into the car and followed the van through the mostly empty streets of the city.

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