Dusk 'til Dawn
During season five, a powerless Buffy needs to make a play for time to keep herself alive and keep Glory and company away from her family. Buffy's not sure if Spike will come through for her, especially when he might finally have a chance to get rid of her. his actions convince Buffy that he is more than an ally, he's a friend, and opens her eyes to the possibility that he's even more than that.
Author's Note: I apologize for the gihugic delay. This piece is almost done. Originally created for the October Challenge Month at Elysian Fields, my plan is to roll this piece into a stopping spot that can be picked up in another challenge (already selected) for next year's piece. With one little one shot in the middle to keep people happy :) )
Author's second note: Picks up within moments of where the last chapter left off.
Dedicated to: WriterDragonfly, Illusera, juggling, notashamedtobe, RedStalkingDeath, sbyamibakura, rpfan1976 , whiters, TieDyeJackson, Jauntilyaskew, Jhiz, Marty Powell, Ginger0826, CalanthaS, JackieMack916, RAGAnne, and omslagspapper.
Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
"We head west." Spike mouthed against her ear. It was time to be quiet again, gone from fortress to moving target. "Not that they can get over that mess any time soon."
"That was to get to us, they had to go through. Now couldn't they just find another hall that connects and go around?" Buffy whispered weakly. Being carried, even carefully, sent waves of pain through her that reached from neck to toes.
Spike supposed they could. He didn't answer, just crept along more quickly. Unhappily, another voice answered for him.
"Do you think we can't tell when you've moved? Do you think you can outrun us? We are the mighty Aur k'Ach. We connect to the energy of your beings! Maybe it took us awhile to find her, but once we have locked onto our prey, we can find them until they die."
"Or until they do. When I see 'em, I'm gonna rip the tongues out first. Problem with that?" Spike huffed softly against her ear, feeling her holding her breath at the menacing words.
"Save me a jawbone." Buffy whispered through teeth tightly clenched against the pain, and felt him laugh against her, the vibration of his chest against her side. It feels like a long time since I was this close to someone. Close enough to feel lips on my skin, laughter against me that I can feel. Riley and I- stopped laughing too soon. Angel and I almost never laughed. And now… Well, I guess if we get killed, we went out laughing. That's something.
Wait. Why is there a "we"? There wasn't a few hours ago. Well, a different we, a we that is- this sounds messed up even in my head. Maybe I'm passing out. Things feel slow and - "Are we not moving?" Buffy whispered.
"Your head's not busted, we're stopped." Spike stood listening. Their pursuers were both talking, loud taunts and mockeries interspersed with the continual noises of shifting rock. Almost deliberately loud. Artificially loud. "Bugger." Spike suddenly hissed vehemently.
"What?" His passenger demanded. "What now?"
"Thing is- it's all about energy signatures, right?"
"So I heard. Why is this bad now? I mean, aside from the lovely idea of being hunted down until my death?" Which should be in an hour or so, so… really not as inconvenient as you'd think.
"Oh, don't fret about that bit, Slayer. They'll be scuffs on your shoes in a matter of hours." Spike scoffed with more confidence than Buffy felt. "Think I remember a bit about them not only bein' able to track and sense prey- but tap into any of their kind."
"They already know about their buddies being down here with them- or up top." Buffy hissed, although a new wave of dread was filling her already tense stomach.
"Guys down here are tracin' us, even if they can't get to us- and I'm willin' to bet the bloke up top is receivin' their signals." Spike said in a tight voice. "In other words, they know a pretty good target zone, that they can't reach, but the guy on the outside has the target too. And he doesn't have a blockade."
So they really are lowering the net. Buffy sat up slightly in his arms. "Then it wasn't all b.s.?"
"So we need to move faster. Keep the target moving faster."
"Faster means sloppier, and they'll be counting on that."
A pause. "You can put me down."
"No. I can't, and you don't mention it again." Spike snarled. "Think of something else."
Buffy tried. She swallowed before saying bravely, "We'll work with fast and messy. From what I've seen, that's your jam."
Spike found himself managing to give her a wink and a smirk. "I'm an expert in fast and messy. But there are a few things I do nice and slow. And very bloody thoroughly, all sorts of attention to detail, Slayer." He swiftly glided, voice a mere whisper, senses scanning their surroundings. Senses also all at once keenly aware of a faster heartbeat and rushing of blood in the form he cradled. "We get out of this, I'll be happy to give you a demo."
"Maybe I'll take you up on it." Buffy whispered in an oddly high pitched voice. Her ride stumbled and they both swore softly. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." He coughed gruffly.
A sharp corner, a tangling circuit, hearing walls collapsing as they went, all sent them into a fresh run while unintentionally holding each other more tightly.
"Do you think they're trying to block our route out? Like- funneling us where they want us?" Buffy asked what they were both thinking.
"I think they might be tryin' to, but they limit themselves each time they bring down another section. We're still winning, movin' faster than they can dig out to cut us off." An' we've been lucky. They didn't bring the tools I did, didn't know we'd end up here. So far the walls might block routes, but they haven't trapped us in. One large section of wall, shaken by the domino-like effect created in various parts of the tunnels crashed down a mere foot in front of them. He cleared it with one running jump, clutching his companion tightly. Haven't trapped us completely.
An' they're going to lose. Because I have some pretty impressive motivation.
"Am I getting too heavy?" Buffy asked apologetically as he slowed for a minute, seeming somehow winded, even for him.
"Nope. I could hold you up for hours. Another thing you might enjoy a demo of, in different, more pleasin' situations." Spike gave her a crooked grin, eyebrow doing a quick arch in her direction.
"Maybe." Buffy repeated her words from earlier as her inside rushed through another confusing surge. There shouldn't be any "maybe"! But there it was again.
"Hey." Spike said softly, his tone startling her. "Are you- are you sayin' maybe to play along, or 'cause you think you're goin' to owe it to me?"
Buffy started a heated protest, "I-"
"Because you don't. Won't ever. This isn't some favor I'm gonna call in- even though I might've said somethin' along those lines earlier. That's just- that's just knowin' it hurts when I tell you the truth an' you don't believe it. But now…"
"I believe you. I - wasn't … I didn't think of it like that. I don't think I can flirt right now. Too tired and facing-death-ly. I think I said maybe because I- I must kinda mean maybe. Which isn't yes, and it isn't no. I don't know why I'm at maybe, but that's where I am." Her head sank back to his shoulder, eyes closed in exhaustion. "Not really a great explanation, but it's all I have, Spike."
"It was honest an' not even a little bitchy. I quite liked it, Luv." He paused at a junction of corridors yo listen and get is bearings. "Maybe's a good place to start."
"Getting out of here would be a good place to- ahh!"
"Whoa!" Spike threw them forward, skidding down as walls fell behind them. When the momentum ceased, he was sprawled inched above her, on his knees, precariously holding himself off of her, but unable to have prevented the unavoidable- letting her hit the ground when they escaped. "Oh shit, Buffy, sorry! Sorry, Luv, you okay?" Spike pulled himself off of her, scraped hands pulling chunks of grit from her hair.
"Sure." Buffy answered dizzily. "I'm fine." No. Not really, but I can take it. And listen to his voice… Groggily, something instinctual in her recognized that tone. Genuine worry, distress… the timbre of the tone you only hear when you're afraid for someone you love.
"No, you're not. Bleeding again. We need to get you topside, and need your Watcher."
"No. Don't get G- don't get him. You have enough experience in - patching people." Buffy said urgently, words slightly thickened, almost a slur.
Oh God. Did she hit her head? I let her hit the ground! Dammit. Dammit, not again. "Listen, it sounds like- like maybe the stuff's peaked- you gotta trust me, okay? You sleep it off and let me get us home."
"Not sleepy. But I still… trust you to- get us home."
Not sleepy- then she prob'ly did bash her head. Or the drugs finally beat adrenaline.
Unable to be sure, and hating it either way, he muscled through, shifting her gently up closer and changing his silent, quick strides into a full on run. "Hey. Hey, Buffy?" Spike tapped her forehead with his chin as her eyes slid shut.
"You're not gonna give up, you promise me?"
"Good. I won't stop carrying you if you- just stay with me, all right, Sweetheart?" He urged, voice not exactly calm.
"You're really sweet when you're worried. And you're worried." Buffy struggled to sound coherent, sluggish brain, blood loss, and a new blow to the head impeding that effort.
"Shh. Don't say that too loud." Spike looked anxiously around them.
"Why? They stopped calling insults at us awhile ago." Buffy nuzzled into his coat, eyes shut tight against the new throbbing.
Spike faltered in his quicker, still silent steps. They had. "They're too busy trying to get out themselves. Or keep up, and keep tracking us." Spike hesitated. "I'm pretty sure they could hear some of what I said to you."
"They know they're wasting their time tryin' to get me to leave you. If I wouldn't leave you as part of some truce, or to take some deal- I'm sure as hell not going to leave you when I- when I feel like this about you."
Buffy blearily looked at him. How he feels about me. Even they get it. Evil guys get it. Evil knows about evil. They believe him. Maybe I should too. Or at least think about it in the morning. When I'm better. "Got to get out. To get to maybe. To see if it's all true." Buffy whispered.
"See if it's all true." She's willing to even think of… "You're not yourself right now." He eased the eventual, possible rejection. It had happened before, her closeness, their mutual intrigue, and then her slamming the walls down round herself, locking him out.
"Lies." Buffy sounded small and pained, but still defiant. "You're the one who keeps saying I'm still myself, still smart, still a fighter, even when I'm all powerless and potioned up."
"I'm giving you outs, idiot."
"You don't give yourself any." Buffy realized all at once. No one else has done that. There's always some "but" or "if I can…" Spike doesn't have outs for himself, because he's trying so hard to get in. He has to try anything.
"I- can't risk doin' that. Part of that 'wanting to be closer to you an' it goin' bad' motif I've got goin'." Spike huffed. "If I'm not in all the way- you'd never give me a half-chance. I don't really blame you. You've had wankers muck around with your heart- an' I don't even know what the hell I've done, not bein' an object of your affection, jus' in general buggerin' things up…" He swallowed, shifted her and realized in two more corridors they would see one of the exits he remembered. That would be the place it all went wrong if it was going to. "I'm still what I am, but what I am now- is on your side. Not switchin'. If you see I'm stickin' around, maybe you'll start to see I mean what I say. Mean everything. You know, all the good bits."
"It's kind of nice. The fact that you think like that."
He was momentarily put off his stride by the simple sweetness, unvarnished, unprickly honesty in her voice. "That's not what you started off with when we bumped into each other tonight." Spike reminded her, the gently sarcastic note still evident, even in his tiniest whisper.
"A lot happens in a few hours, Spike."
"Happens in a few minutes, too. Few seconds." His chin tightened. " Hang on, and keep your head down."
The twenty feet between the final corridor and the west exit Spike planned to use felt like the longest run of his very long unlife. Crossing slightly open area, he could see dimly in the pitch black that the landscape had changed. No longer were there as many rows of maze-like walls, but more like an uneven sea of rubble meeting still standing concrete. He could hear their pursuers. No longer digging through, but instead seeming to come over top the uneven mass. Once dug out initially, they'd made their own path. The one grace being that their path kept breaking, dropping them down again. They got farther than I thought they would, faster than I thought- but they're not up to us yet.
Two far back, one in pretty damn close range. Got an idea. Put your arms round my neck and hold on to your wrists, lock 'em all right?"
"Piggy back ride?" Buffy asked.
"Piggy front, not givin' 'em a shot at you." He let her legs drop as slowly as he dared, swinging her from his neck like an extremely oversized charm, he used both hands to take the steel railed ladder that ran up the wall, keeping his head pointed up, knowing if he looked dead on- he'd look right into her eyes. This was the closest they'd ever been, face to face, kissing distance, bodies pressed up together. Hard not to think about someone you love like that, even if everything in you screams you have a bigger worries and no time for that now. " Sorry, Slayer." He dragged them up quickly, his legs tangling with hers, jostling them along, wincing with her when her back hit the rungs. "Sorry."
"You don't need to apologize. Saving my life here." Buffy gasped in a mixture of fear and pain when she realized what he was doing. "Spike-"
"Hold on." He reminded her without pausing. God, this better work.
From below, an angry bellow and something flew at them, smashing the wall where'd they'd been- just as Spike went airborne.
Buffy swallowed her scream as they flew only a short distance- and fell a few inches before his hands rang out as they seized metal.
The second level of the labs. Only remaining structures left, the emergency "submarine" style emergency ladders leading to what had been the top level of the labs- and the elevator shaft.
Spike pulled them up and squeezed them through the opening. There was no interior elevator structure remaining, no cables, just burnt out metal framing. All of the lab proper was down, this was a small row of box-like rooms. "Offices for Walsh and higher ups, I guess. Observation platform, walkway…" Buffy panted as they balanced, gesturing weakly with her head. "What's the plan?"
"One minute." Spike pushed away, leaving her sitting on the wide beam.
"What are you doing?" Buffy's voice became more alert.
"Removing the most direct route to us. Unless these guys packed grappling hooks…"
"You're taking the ladder down?"
"It's already weak, I can pull it out at the top, four screws an' a little vamp strength, no more ladder."
"How are you going to get back over here!?"
"Split second timing, jump as I push off, send the ladder down and me over. Be right back." I hope.
"He's crazy. He's crazy, we're going to be stuck up here, and there's not even an elevator cable to climb back down on- and he's going to fall." Buffy muttered, trying to rise.
"I'm crazy," Spike stuck his head back in as a clang echoed below them, "but I didn't fall." It was a near thing, though.
"If I could move more, I'd kick you- or hug you." Buffy frowned, puzzled. "Scared me."
"Hey, I'm not gonna leave you, remember? Just need to get to higher ground. And keep them off of it."
"But- we came down and entered at ground level- well, ground level of this whole underground/basement thingy."
"An' on ground level, there's one closer than the others, he's the real immediate threat. I'm not wastin' anymore time gettin' to the exit and havin' him get close enough to lob somethin' else at us. We're goin' above him to the exit, then nippin' down and out."
"That's- a lot of work." Buffy found herself swaying in his grip once more as he began their path across the beams.
"But you're worth it." Spike hesitated a minute, then reached into his pocket and threw something in the opposite direction as hard as he could.
"They sense our energy- is that gonna work?" Buffy hissed.
"We'll see. It might since it sounds up high, and we are. Hope it does, 'cause I liked that knife."
"Your knife?" She felt a pang for him, sacrificing one of the relatively few things he had on the slim chance it might buy them time.
"Not my only one. Don't sound so sad, Luv."
From below came a shouted conversation, and even in the foreign tongue, the pauses and questioning tone could be understood. "They haven't figured out where we are, or at least how to get to us." Spike assessed.
"Are we heading back to - where we came in?" Buffy asked as the concrete walls and steel flashed past them.
"With a bit of a detour, yeah."
Back to his crypt. They'll find his home. His safe place. Even I didn't know about the lower level and I've been there dozens of times.
"Think they can take me on my home turf, Slayer?" He made a derisive noise. "Not bloody likely."
"I guess we'll find out." Buffy felt the edges of the world blurring and soon her eyelids fell and stayed shut against her will.
She woke up with a smothered scream, a cold hand over her mouth and wind rushing past her. Rushing upwards.
"We're landing." Spike had jumped from the top level to the place closest to the exit they needed, the place where he knew labs met tunnel, and eventually met the way to his crypt. His boots hit the ground with a smashing sound, earning only one cry from their pursuers before they were out of the lab proper.
"Sorry about the jump, no ladder this side, no elevator cable, either." Spike winced as she flopped against his arms, and her body twitched in one long roll of pain.
"They- didn't catch up to us." Buffy murmured. "How long was I sleeping?"
"A few minutes. I think you might have passed out. You need fluids." Pulse is getting thready. This stuff might be on the downswing, but getting jostled every few minutes for the last hour can't have helped.
"Fluids at your place?"
"Water pipe, clean cups. Not fancy but it'll do to start."
"If we get there."
"Unless they can get in front of us- which they can't unless they were already in the tunnels ahead of us- we're gettin' there. And unless this loner on the outside has some heavy machinery- he's not getting through the tunnel roof."
Buffy felt his chest expand against her side. We're going to be okay. He believes we're going to make it.
He always believed it.
"How long until daylight?"
"Few hours still. If they make a coordinated attack, it'll still take a couple hours for them to all meet in the same place. If they come after us as quick as they can, goin' one on one for the first two, prolly a couple hours back before Tweedle Dee and Dum can follow and double team us."
Buffy just stared owlishly.
"You think fast."
"Not really. Not always." Spike confessed. "When it comes to- when it comes to you, like I said, I've always been runnin' my A-game."
"Thanks. For getting me this far. Whatever happens, I really do mean that. I couldn't have done this without you."
"Yeah, you would've-"
"I might've done something, Spike, but not this. And this was a good plan. Whatever happens, this was a good plan."
"Whatever happens- we're good together, Buffy." Spike said softly, an intensity in his voice that penetrated the haze surrounding her.
"Not always." She swallowed.
"From now on. If you let me help."
"Consider this your trial run." Buffy laughed weakly.
"Promo package?" He laughed back. I love this girl. Everything about her, even the annoyin' shit, the pride, the stubbornness, the obsession with footwear…the way she jokes. The way she holds the hurt in, lets it out, everything. I was already fallin' and now I'm gone. An' she might not feel the same in the morning. It's all maybes with us.
"What is it?" Buffy whispered. "Do you hear anything?"
"No, an' we're halfway home." Spike quickly reassured.
"Something's different." Buffy prodded.
"I hope you feel this way in the morning."
"Gee, thanks." Buffy tried to slap his arm but ended up bumping her hand into his instead.
"I mean- how you feel about me. I know, I know, it's not like I want you to feel. But it's a bit better than it was, right?"
Passing through the small barred patch of light as they went under a grate, Buffy looked up in time to see the wistful smile on his face.
That should scare me. How sick and sudden this "infatuation" came on. But right now, the world seems scary, and Spike's just Spike. "It's a lot better than it was. It's not the way you'd like it, but not the way I wanted it either. I call good compromising." She smiled as she slid into unconsciousness again.
"I'll take it." He kissed her hairline and flew towards home.
To be concluded…