Chp 24 A new Adventure
Chp. 24 A New Adventure
This is the final chp. Thank you all so much for staying with me on this long adventure. I've loved having your company.
A few miles from Stonehenge, a small sports car roared along the empty road, its headlights slashing through the dark, sending the odd sheep in its way leaping to safety on the frost bitten grass of Salisbury Plain.
Rupert Giles was driving, his face a mask of cold concentration. The tracker device that he’d had inside his car, the same car that Buffy and Spike had driven away, had made them easy to follow.
His mouth twisted in a smile that had not the slightest touch of humour in it. Modern technology! It was Kennedy who had insisted that this was a new world since the last apocalypse. She wanted every Watcher to have all the latest gadgets to help them in their fight.
Giles had struggled to understand. He had the feeling that every time he touched one of these little toys, he broke it! But if Kennedy’s gizmos helped him find Buffy, then he would never think a nasty thought about her again.
At his side, the bundle of car rugs and coats stirred and Willow’s tousled red head appeared. “Have we found them?” she asked, gazing at the little screen Giles had propped on the dashboard in front of him.
The two yellow lights, one stationary, one moving, were getting closer and closer. “They’re at Stonehenge,” Giles replied briefly.
“Oh!” Willow pushed the rugs aside and sat up. “I’ve always wanted to go there. But hey, for the Summer Solstice with the sun coming up at dawn and everyone singing and dancing and – ”
“Buffy obviously feels that’s where the Plague Demon is going to appear next. Perhaps that’s where it’s been heading all this time.”
Willow nibbled at a rough edge of her thumbnail. “Giles, none of this makes any sort of sense, does it?”
He gave her a swift sideways glance. She was such a strange mixture. Sometimes because she was so deeply into the magical side of life, people forgot that Willow had a streak of commonsense and logic a mile wide.
“What would the Plague Demon want at Stonehenge? Ok, much mystical goodness, I’m sure, but it doesn’t seem to need any help, if you know what I mean. It’s all with the mist and the plague and changing adults into children and making vamps invincible and Slayers super strong. What else can it possibly need?”
“Does it have to need something?”
Willow gazed out of the window as the dark countryside flashed past. Giles was driving too fast, but she knew it was pointless asking him to slow down.
She had an idea, well, more of a feeling than an idea. Everything that had happened wasn’t about what the demon needed; it was what those people that strayed into his path needed!
Didn’t most adults yearn to be children once more? Free of all responsibilities and worries? Vampires wanted to be invincible, Slayers needed to be stronger.
If she had not hidden behind the magical barrier she’d constructed, what would have been her greatest need? She had no way of knowing what would have happened to her. For instance, did she really need all this magical power? Had it ruined her life? Would the demon have sensed that and removed it from her? Well, she would never know now.
And Giles? Perhaps he'd secretly longed to be as as strong as Buffy and the demon had given him his wish.
Suddenly, just as her mobile phone rang, she pointed ahead – “Look!”
And to the right of the road as they screamed down the slope and round a corner, she could see the night sky was stained with a faint red glow – the colour of fresh blood.
The wind coursing across Salisbury Plain was blowing harder now, bringing in icy cold air from the north.
Buffy’s hair was torn from its fastenings and blew round her head like a halo. Underneath the racing clouds, a faint crimson light was beginning to appear, thrown upwards from the great stones of Stonehenge.
“Hey, plague demon’s nearly here! Come on!” Buffy was laughing, her hands flat against one of the huge stones that made up the vast circle. She could feel the intense heat growing, the tremble and rumble of something happening deep underground. The very air was glowing red now and she could taste smoke and something old and bitter in the air.
Spike vamped out and spun on his heels, leather coat flying. Which way would the bloody attack come? Where would it burst out of the ground? Could they beat it? One thing was certain, his mate, his Slayer seemed to have no doubts at all. And that worried him more than the arrival of the demon.
He could still feel her last kiss on his lips – and it tasted – wonderful, exciting and – strange. She was still Buffy, still his love, still the Slayer, but buried under all the romanticism of his nature there was a small nugget of realism. The Slayer was changing – just as he was! And there was no way he could deny it.
Buffy’s eyes were sparkling in the starlight. Every inch of her body was tingling with the desire to fight, the knowledge that she was nearly invincible and growing stronger with every passing second.
Suddenly, in the middle of the circle, a huge section of turf glowed red and burst into small dancing flames. With a roar, the ground fell away and a smooth sided shaft appeared, full of angry crimson flames and smoke.
“It’s nearly here, Spike! Stay back!”
She edged forward, peering down, fists clenched, her face bathed with the light of thousand hells.
Raising her head, her eyes gleamed across the pit to where Spike stood, coat flying back in the hot wind, vamping out, joyfully ready to fight to the death with her. And in a flash, no more than a second, Buffy knew she was completely and utterly happy. At this moment she needed nothing else to complete her life.
She took a deep breath –
And nothing appeared! No demon, no plague mist, nothing. The column of hot air blew away in the cold wind and the roiling red smoke vanished as if it had never been. Only the black, singed earth at her feet showed her that something had been there.
Spike vamped back to human face. “Where did it go?”
“Westwards.” Giles’ voice made them spin round. “Always westwards.”
Buffy walked round to Spike’s side. She didn’t like the way her Watcher looked at her lover. She realised she never had.
“I don’t understand, Giles. Why won’t it fight?”
“Buffy!” It was Willow, panting up the slope from the road. “I don’t think it even knows you’re there. Kennedy rang me. She’s found out a lot about it in some old manuscripts she found in Cardiff – that’s a town in Wales. She says it makes it fairly obvious, the demon hasn’t come to England to settle. It’s just passing through on its way to America!”
Buffy pushed away the thought of why someone would have storied old documents about demons in Cardiff and concentrated on what Willow was saying.
“You mean, the Devil’s Punchbowl, Stonehenge, they’re just – just - stops to take on gas!”
Willow nodded. “Kennedy reckons it will surface under Cardiff for another load of energy and then head out under the North Sea to the States.”
Buffy shuddered. “We can’t let it do that.”
Giles stared down at the pit. “There’s no way of stopping it. All we can do is alert the Slayers on the East Coast and hope we can come up with a plan before it reaches them. We’ve got our own problems to sort out.”
Buffy stared at him in astonishment. “What the heck is more important than stopping this Plague Demon?”
Giles reached out a hand to her, but she ignored it. “Buffy, from what Kennedy says, Willow and I think that now the Demon has passed through, the changes he made to us all will start to fade. The children will revert to adults, our strength will lessen and vampires will become – well, ordinary vampires again, if there is such a thing!”
“And you’re happy about that? Oh don’t lie to me, Giles! Jeez, I can see from your face that you think that’s a great idea.”
“Buffy – don’t you want to go back to how things were?” Willow stared at her, confused.
“Buffy likes being stronger than everyone and Spike likes being invincible,” Giles said, his voice suddenly cold.
The vampire grinned at him. “Well, you've haven't seemed that unhappy with all your manly strength, and if there’s a choice between sodding well dying and staying alive, strangely enough, I choose staying alive every time. But perhaps I’m funny that way, Rupert!”
The Watcher waved an irritable hand at him. “Well, luckily for us, Spike, you don’t have a choice. The demon has gone on westwards. By my calculations, life should start returning to normal by tomorrow at the latest. So I would suggest you get under cover before the sun comes up!”
He turned to the small blonde girl standing opposite him, across the yawning pit at their feet. All the history between them made a deeper pit than the one in the ground.
He saw the way she was standing, guarding the vampire - as if he needed it. Why couldn't she see what he was, what he would make her become?
“Buffy – I know you wanted to kill this demon but this obviously wasn’t the right time and place. And if it was just you being super strong, then I might say it’s a pity you have to revert to normal, but vampires whom we can’t kill – no, I won’t countenance a world where that’s the way of life.” There was a long silence, then he said wearily, “Well, right, come on, Willow. Let’s head back and see if any of the children have changed back yet. Buffy, I’ll see you in London. And do be careful of my car!”
He turned away and headed towards the road. Willow hesitated to follow him. “He’s right, Buff. I know it’s making you freak out but honestly, this isn’t where we get to kill the demon. Not everything is that neat and tidy in life, like a television show where the plot has to be finished by the end of the hour. We need to sort out the huge mess the demon’s left behind here, then fly across to the States and track it to its final lair, wherever that may be. Kennedy will probably come up with loads more info for us. We’ll kill it in America.”
She turned, then said, “I’ll see you in London, right?”
“We’ll see you soon, Will. Oh, and thank Kennedy. She’s been a big help.”
Willow frowned. This cool, controlled, polite Buffy was yet another new person. And one she didn’t much like. She threw an agonised glance at Spike, but he was staring down into the empty pit, like a cat whose mouse has refused to come out and play.
“OK. Bye, for now.”
Buffy watched her friend stumble away across the grass, saw her get into the car next to Giles and watched as the headlights cut a circle through the dark as Giles turned and set off eastwards once more.
She sensed Spike rather than heard him. Without looking she leant back against his chest as his arms closed round her and his chin nuzzled in the soft hair above her ear.
“So it’s back to normal tomorrow, then, Slayer. Do you think that could include a nice soft bed, closed curtains and a bottle of champagne? I’ll probably need a lot of loving tender care when I’m not invincible any more. You know, lots of massaging to get all the kinks out of my muscles! All this anti-climax is bad for me – I could do with a bit of proper climax for once!”
Buffy smiled at the wistful, hopeful tone of his voice and for a few minutes she let herself imagine them together, alone, free to do what they liked – and they usually liked a lot. They had had such a short time together since she discovered he was still alive. A few days, then the Plague Demon had arrived.
She allowed herself memories of those days, then shut the thoughts carefully away inside her and said, “Giles and Willow are wrong.”
Spike turned her in his arms and stared into the eyes that could see so deeply into his still fairly new soul. “Buffy…..”
“Think about it, Spike! We fly home, back to our normal selves, then what? Hang around hoping it hasn’t gone past us again? Watch whole sections of the States become child-ridden? Trust that we get infected again, because, hey, believe me, there’s no way we’re going to stop it otherwise.”
“Giles – ”
“Giles is just so thankful to learn that the effects wear off, that he can kill you and any other vampire, he’s not thinking straight.”
“So, what do we do?”
Buffy eased herself away from him. “We don’t have to do anything.” She walked back to the pit and stared down into it. “I do!”
Spike gazed at her, his eyes widening as he realised what she was saying. “You’re going after it! Now!”
She flung back her head, hands on hips, eyes begging for understanding. “Don’t you see? Every minute that passes, I grow weaker and weaker, sliding back to my old self, which was never strong enough to beat it. It leaves a wide trail – one I can follow while I’m strong. I have to go! I need to do this, to be the Slayer. And I’m sorry – I know we’ve only just found each other, but you could have a good life here, back home – ”
Like some great cat, Spike leapt across the pit to her side. He tangled a hand in her hair and jerked her head back. His kiss wasn’t tender or loving. It was brutal, possessive, angry, consuming.
“Bloody hell, Slayer. You’ve said some stupid things to me in your time, but that last little pity ditty takes the biscuit. If you think for one moment that I’d let you go chasing Plaguey on your own, have all the fun, you must be a sandwich short of a picnic! I need to be with you and you don't understand that yet - well, I'll just have to keep on telling you till you do!”
Buffy struggled to get her breath, tears running down her cheeks. “We might never come back. We could both die.”
Spike’s laugh echoed off the towering grey stones that had stood for so many years, seen so much of man and vampire kind come and go.
“Well, while we’re waiting for that to happen, I suggest we both live, Slayer. Race you!”
And without a backward glance, he leapt into the pit. Buffy stood for a second, gazing up at the night sky. Would she ever see it again? Did she care? No, if she was truthful all that mattered was the mission and joining her lover in a new adventure.
She jumped and seconds later the ground shifted, the turf settled back and the stones continued their long wait. And somewhere underground, a Slayer and Vampire walked hand in hand towards the West.
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