Musical notes: "I Go to Extremes" is preformed by Billy Joel. Lyrics can be found at sing365 com
Chapter Four: I Go to Extremes
The sun had set long ago on the west coast and darkness was thick over the small town of Sunnydale, California. Most of its denizens had retired indoors for the night. It was simply a dead evenings, with nothing worthwhile taking place.
In the town of Sunnydale that normally wasn't the case. Most nights the town was more alive, so to speak, after the sun went down then it ever was while the golden orb of superheated plasma raced from one horizon to the other.
At 1630 Revello Drive, a house that had stood unoccupied for several weeks, ever since its previous owners decided it was in their best interest to leave town, as quickly as possible. They had taken only what they could carry with them on the spur of the moment.
Today a new family had begun the process of moving in. A large box truck had been parked out front most of the day. Several large muscular men had spent a frantic day hauling boxes out of the truck and into the two-story house.
The family was a new, modern style family: a single mother, Joyce Summers, and her two daughters, sixteen-year-old high school sophomore Buffy Anne was her eldest, while Dawn Marie was itching to reach thirteen, a birthday that was still several years away.
Until a few months ago Buffy had been the poster child for the expression world class bitch. She had ruled her old high school, Hemery with a honeyed tongue that was coated with poison. With a few well placed words she was capable of bringing a tear to the eye or sniffle to the lips of even the most callused person. With a single nod of her head she was able to exalt the lowest into the stratosphere of Hemery's socially elite or cast out those that have slighted her in some small way. At Hemery she had been queen and not a single person would dare challenge her for her throne.
Not until her life had been turned upside down and inside out.
All by a sacred duty passed from one girl to the next, a destiny she did not want. A destiny she was determined to leave in the dust. A destiny she was never going to follow. It had already taken so much from her; her father, parents' marriage, popularity, her friends.
Normalcy was gone.
Sanity wasn't that for behind.
Buffy had no intention of picking up her nightly activities. She had already paid a dear price because of them. More then she was willing to admit. If she came upon a vampire or something, she'd stake it, but she wasn't going to actively seek them out.
Besides, this was Sunnydale not Los Angeles. From everything she had seen so far LA could swallow this flea speck town and never realize a gnat had flown down its throat. How many vampires could this town, whose entire population she could count on one hand, support. Aside from the occasional bloodsucker who decided to pick up a snack on his way through town, Buffy didn't believe many of any consequence.
Nothing like the legions Lathos had commanded.
Her plan was simple. She was going to live her life. Try to pick up the pieces that have been shattered and tossed into the wind and get on the best she could in this one hitch town. She was seriously contemplating finding herself a tutor to help bring her grades up. Maybe even make the honor roll? She mused sarcastically. She would be happy just to maintain a straight C average.
As far as vampires went, they could unlive their unlifes any old way they wanted. So long as their path didn't cross hers.
Not too far down from Buffy's room was a slightly smaller room. Inside was the youngest of the three Summers women, Dawn, the waifish girl with long, flaxen brown hair.
The lights were off; the room was swathed in darkness. A large hump swelled the covers of what had been a neatly made bed just a short time ago.
Dawn lay under the thick quilt, flashlight shining brightly. Dawn finished reading what she had written and closed her dairy. There wasn't anything knew in what she had just wrote. It was all the same thing, verbatim. For the past three weeks it was always the same.
Dawn had tried to explain what had happened, only trying to get a word in when Buffy was on a rant was as conductive to living a long life as walking into the den of a hibernating grizzly bear and slapping the cantankerous omnivore until it woke up. Something only the mentally unstable would do. As soon as Buffy started talking Dawn knew her chance to confess everything had just slid by the wayside.
She wanted to tell Buffy, was practically dieing to tell her. Not telling had her all knotted up inside. Several times she had tried but the words never made it out of her mouth. They got stuck in her throat. Like a car stuck on ice, the wheels just kept spinning without any traction.
She sighed deeply.
Somehow she had to tell Buffy the truth about what happened; she had been the one that read her dairy. That Mom was innocent. Even after hearing her startled proclamation she hadn't delved into those off white pages to discover Buffy's deepest, darkest secrets.
Buffy might not believe that Joyce wouldn't read her diary, even if it had been left lying open on the parlor coffee table. She respected peoples' privacy far too much to invade her own daughters'. Buffy didn't believe Dawn, or so she said. She said, "Even if that was the case we'd be the ones she'd spy on."
Dawn knew that Buffy's relationship with their mother was no where near as close as her own. Their relationship had always been… strained, was the best word Dawn could think of to describe it. There had always been a gulf between the two, has been for as long as she could remember.
The two had been spending a lot more time together recently: Gynecologist appointments, Planned Parenthood clinics, pamphlets on STDs, contraceptives, and things she wasn't allowed to see. Buffy however seemed less then thrilled with the attention she was receiving.
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Darkness was fading quickly as the soft, pink light of dawn crept toward the horizon. It was still more then an hour away, closer to two hours and only the earliest risers were out and about already.
Or in this case, those that have yet to make their way home.
Downtown Sunnydale was much like other small towns across America. Two strips of blacktop cut their way between stout brick and stone buildings that have stood for more then a century; squat structures, the tallest of which stood no more then seven stories.
Instead of a traffic light to control the flow of traffic at the intersection there were stops signs at each corner and an island rotary in the center of the intersection. Upon the rotary stood a picturesque Welcome To Sunnydale sign. It looked as if it had originally been painted in the nineteen fifties and been meticulously maintained ever since. Modern street lamps provided more then adequate illumination along the sidewalks.
It was an idyllic scene.
So of course it was destined to be shattered.
Headlights splashed, careening wildly for a moment of the sides of the primitive brick and mortar buildings before they zero in on the, "Welcome To Sunnydale", sign. Then like a drunkard whose suddenly gained a brief moment of clarity, they hold steady, tires screech, a black behemoth of a car – its windows completely blacked out aside from one little strip in the front windshield – slammed into the right post square in the center of a solid steel bumper.
It was a solid car, nothing fancy having been built during a time when cars were meant to last the test of time. It could quite possibly go head to head with a Sherman Tank and win.
The thick wood beam buckled and cracked as the car swerved to the right. Its right rear fender slapped the left post causing the sign to tilt away from the car.
It was a slow fall, almost as if it was struggling to hold itself upright; to no avail. As soon as it started to fall there was no going back. It landed hard with a load crash. A good portion of it was lying in the road.
The door opened with a rusted groan. The power driven rhythm of AC/DC's "Shake a Leg" poured from the car's speakers obliterating what was left of the night's tranquility. Brian Johnson's heavy voice belted out barely decipherable lyrics as his words would occasionally drawl together. "Kicking ass in the class and they tell me you're a damn disgrace." A heavy black boot stomped disdainfully onto the green grass. "They tell me what they think but they stink and I really don't care." The boot was followed by the rest of Spike. "Got a mind of my own, move on, get out of my hair."
Despite his average size he appeared larger then life. "Shake a leg, shake your head. Shake a leg, wake the dead." He looked around the sleepy little town with a black sneer on his lips. "Shake a leg, get stuck in. Shake a leg, shake a leg." A vicious, amber light twinkled in his eyes and was gone.
Spike hated towns like this one. "Magazines, wet dreams, dirty women on machines for me." Small, pedestrian towns like Andy Griffith's Mayberry. "Big licks, skin flicks, tricky dicks are my chemistry." Or the town that nancy boy twit, Beaver Cleaver grew up in. "Goin' against the grain, trying to keep me sane with you." It was simply that kind of town. "So stop your grinnin' and drop your linen for me."
It was the main reason he had knocked over their pretty little sign. "Shake a leg, shake your head
Shake a leg, wake the dead." It needed to be done; plus it made him feel a little better… not much, but a little. "Shake a leg, get stuck in. Shake a leg, shake a leg." It spoke volumes about the state he was in when an act of petty vandalism could bring a smile to his lips. "Shake it. Come on."
With preternatural slowness Spike drew his pack of cigarettes from his duster's right hip pocket. He flipped the lid open and scowled discovering only one cigarette left in the box. If he actually paid for them, instead of nicking them when he didn't simply intimidate some pimply face attendant into giving him a few packs; free of charge, he might be more upset then he was. Considering the price a pack of cigarettes went for these days he was damn grateful he was an evil fiend.
He plucked the lone cigarette from the pack, then crushed the empty cellophane wrapped cardboard packet in his hand before tossing it to the ground. "Idle juvenile on the street, on the street." Retrieving his zippo from his pocket he clicked it open as he took another slow look around the town center. "Kicking everything with his feet, with his feet." With a quick flick, steel struck flint, the spark set the oil soak wick aflame. "Fighting on the wrong side of the law, of the law." A flame that set the end of his cigarette to a burning amber. "Spitting and bitin' and kicking and fightin' for more." He snapped the lighter close and made it disappear back into his pocket with deceptively quick hands.
"Shake a leg, shake your head." His right hand plucked the cigarette from his mouth and a cloud of grey smoke billowed out of his nose. "Shake a leg, wake the dead." "Better enjoy your last night slayer…" "Shake a leg, get stuck in." "…Tomorrow, you and me…" "Shake a leg, play to win." "…We're going to have…" "Shake a leg, shake your head." "…Ourselves a bit of…" "Shake a leg, wake the dead." "…A reckoning." "Shake a leg, get stuck in. Shake a leg, shake a leg. Shake it. Oh yeah." Brian Johnson's bellow made an odd counterpoint to Spike's soft vow.
He tossed his barely touched cigarette away and climbed into the Desoto settling quite easily behind the wheel. He twisted the key with a savageness he couldn't explain. The ancient Desoto came to life with a roar. Slipping the car into reverse the tires squealed as it surged backward. He dropped the shifter into drive and the car leaped ahead. The door swung shut.
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How did I end up here? The thought bubbled in Buffy's head. She stood at the lip of the crypt's entrance and took in the scene set in front of her. A pair of vampires, DeBarge reject she had spotted at the Bronze schmoozing Willow out the door and blonde haired woman wearing a catholic school girl outfit. If it wasn't for the amber eyes, heavy brow ridges, and sharp fangs she would have been an attractive young girl. It had started off as such a good day.
And it had started off as a really good day. Her mother had made some comment about not getting up to the same activities that had gotten her kicked out of Hemery, but she had learnt long ago how to zone her mother out so the remark had more or less been a non factor.
Then there had been that skateboarder on campus that her hotness had given a sever case of tunnel vision to. His attention had been so focused on her that he was aware of nothing else around him. Not even the railing that literally knocked him head over heels. She hadn't bothered to get a decent look at the skater, because he was a skater and unless it was Tony Hawk… There really wasn't a point.
Her day was still going along smoothly, even after the hiccup in Principle Flutie's office. She hadn't allowed that to bring her down. It didn't start to hit a decline until after she left the Principle's office and ran straight into Xander Harris. Normally she was hyper aware of everything around her, but she had completely missed the tall – not as tall as his friend Jesse who she meant later that morning – very svelte brunette. The only reason she could think of for her lapse was her concern over fitting in on campus: making friends, keeping her grades up, not being labeled a freak and becoming the school pariah.
And the first thing she did was run over a guy big enough that she should have bounced off him and fallen to the floor in a heap. She knew if she didn't go down then the rumor mill was going to start buzzing with speculation. So she acted quickly, before anyone would notice the slight hesitation, and staggered back a step and dropped what she had been carrying, her purse.
Besides he was kind of cute if he ever learnt how to coordinate his assemble. He reminded her of Alec Baldwin, when he first joined "Knots Landing" before he went all psycho; a taller, slightly less rakish, nowhere near as handsome version of Alec Baldwin. There was just something about his eyes.
Then he had to go and open his mouth, leaving the fantasy playing in her head in utter ruins. "Can I have you?" Like what girl wants those to be the first words she heard coming out of some nameless dweeb's mouth, very suave for the not pathetic guy.
Her day had picked up after that, for awhile anyway. Cordelia had been nice, helpful. The tall brunette had even reminded her of someone though Buffy hadn't been able to put her finger on who it was at the time. It was between classes when they had stopped at the water fountain, then she finally figured out who Cordelia reminded her of.
It twisted her stomach listening to Cordelia rag on the mousy redhead with the liquid jade eyes. It was like listening to herself through some type of warp field, or something equally scientific sounding. She maintained enough composure to keep her tongue still. It would have been so easy to fall back into her-old-self. She didn't want that though, she wanted to be better then she had been. It had been a struggle, but somehow she had managed it.
Willow had left the fountain on the verge of tears and Buffy counted it a kindness. Kindness that she had won her private war and had managed to keep her mouth shut. If she had piped in, it wouldn't have been on the verge tears. Willow would have run home to sob pitifully in her mother's lap.
The words had been on the edge of her tongue.
And Willow was such a nice person. The nicest person she had ever meant; almost as nice as Dawn. Dawn though was nine and all nine year olds were nice.
Only she hadn't been that nice at nine. In fact she had always been a bitch. It was like her nice genes were dormant and she had been given a double dose of excessive bitch genes. So much so that she made Cordelia appear to be honey coated sugar when compared to her.
The fact that her being called as slayer had coincided with her wanting to change for the better hadn't been lost on her. She wasn't sure what followed what. That somebody, something was capable of altering her on such a fundamental level frightened her. It was like she was no longer in control of who she was.
After that her day had proceeded on a steady downward spiral.
It had all started in the library Cordelia had dropped her off at. For containing nothing more then stuffy, dust covered books it turned out to be a real hoot. Starting with her new watcher, who had popped up from nowhere, all so he could remind her of the destiny she had to fulfill. A sacred duty to uphold. Needless to say she had gotten out of there, and away from Rupert Giles, with all possible haste.
Her second meeting with Willow was a much more pleasant encounter. It quickly turned into a social gathering as Xander, who returned her stake, and Jesse deciding to drop by for a visit. Cordelia had put in a special cameo appearance, just to fire off a few caustic comments and to inform everyone of the dead boy found in the girls' locker room.
It was like a bad dream.
Or worse, her life.
A quick investigation of the body revealed the person had been drained by a vampire. It was so what she didn't need on her first day of school. An argument with her watcher in which she emphatically told him she didn't care quickly followed.
After another brief encounter with her mother, one in which the older woman wanted to know where she was going and when she planned on being back, it was off to the Bronze. It was the only club in Sunnydale worth going to. It was also the only club in Sunnydale.
There had been that strange encounter with the vampire in the alley. He was different from the others of his kind, different even then Spike, enough so she didn't stake him out of hand. Plus there had been the bribe; a necklace, a simple silver cross.
The vampire had said she was standing at the mouth of hell; that she had to be ready for something called the harvest, whatever that meant. It sounded like something that needed to be tended to at the end of autumn, not the middle of winter. She was beginning to get the idea that there was a sinister layer hidden just beneath Sunnydale's sugary surface, and not that far underneath either.
If her instincts about this town were right then she was going to need allies and a vampire that wanted to kill his own kind might come in handy. Plus there was that something different about him, in his eyes. Maybe remorse or regret, but it seemed deeper then that. More like damnation.
After that surreal encounter she had hoped to dance away her troubles, but low and behold her own personal stalker… Watcher had made an appearance at the nightclub. Seeing his tweed covered hide, so flustered and out of place amongst all the teenagers almost made it worth it. She had practically thrown Willow into the arms of the second vampire she had come across in this town. Then while she had been searching for Willow she had almost turned Cordelia into a shish kebab; so much for her walk small and keep a low profile approach to school. If her reputation wasn't psycho by now, it would be come morning. Cordelia was a virtuoso when it came to that phone of hers.
Coming out of the Bronze she had spotted Xander and decided she needed one of the natives to act as her guide to all things Sunnydale. Xander had other ideas though. At first it was a joke to him, then his attitude changed. She could see it in his eyes, a malicious glint. It was like a mouse that had discovered the wonders of steroids and thought he was a match for the cat that continually toyed with him. His words didn't bother her, but his tone spoke volumes about him.
It told her quite a lot about the seventeen year old. That he thought she was crazy, a bigger freak then he was, even lower on the high school totem pole; which made her fodder, fair game, an easy mark. That in this one moment he was going to get his revenge on all the popular girls who had ever used him as a doormat since preschool. The fact that he didn't know her from spit on the sidewalk didn't seem to faze him in the slightest.
At least she hoped that was the extent of his plan. She couldn't see Willow being friends with a rapist or somebody that would contemplate the idea. Not that Xander would have gotten that far if he had tried to exhort sex from her in order to keep his mouth shut about what he knew.
Back in Hemery, at the beginning of the school year it had happened to Tiffany St. Claire. Xavier McCad, a senior, had discovered her secret, her shame, the fact that her father was an unemployed bum who lived on the streets of LA, staying in the homeless shelters whenever he could. He had confronted her and insinuated he would keep her secret in return for certain favors, if not then he really couldn't be held responsible for whose hands the information fell into. Tiffany never had much of a choice; if she didn't give into his demands then her life was as good as over. She would have had a better chance surviving a head-on-collision with a speeding bus as she would have surviving Hemery if McCad released his information.
Two months later Xavier told a couple of his friends, guaranteeing them the same service he was receiving. Just not at the same time.
In the end Tiffany survived neither the speeding bus nor Hemery.
She however certainly wasn't Tiffany St. Claire, mousy little princess and Xander sure as hell wasn't Xavier McCad, a rich untouchable jock. He'd have a fun time living the rest of his life without kneecaps; not that he'd be living that life in Sunnydale. Not after the rumors she started. Neither him, his father, or his mother would be able to show their faces in town once it got around as to just how close of a family they were.
Because he was Willow's friend Buffy was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hold off on destroying him and his family.
The day's events passed through her mind as she took in the scene around her. Xander darted inside the crypt rushing to Willow and Jesse's side. "Well this is nice," she said running a critical eye over the crypt, "it's a little bare, but a dash of paint. A few throw pillows… Call it home." All the while she talked she moved into the crypt, edging her way to the other side of the sarcophagus, making sure to keep the vampires' focus on her.
Darla watched the tiny blonde anxiously. There was something about the girl that unnerved the old vampire. While there was a trace of fear on her scent it was controlled. Excitement and anticipation rolled off her. Her heartbeat was slow and steady and she seemed completely at ease. "Who the hell are you?"
Shock painted Buffy's face, and it wasn't all that feigned either. This seemed to be the first person she's encountered so far that didn't know who she was. For a time she had thought there was a mystically stenciled Slayer tattooed across her forehead. "You mean there's actually someone that doesn't know already? Whew, that's a relief. I'm telling you, having a secret identity in this town is a lot of work."
"Buffy we bail now right? Right?" Xander asked supporting both Jesse and Willow. This was becoming a little too real. It was as if Buffy had somehow sucked him into her delusion. He was positive the last time he checked vampires didn't exist.
"Not yet!" Thomas growled out of the corner of his mouth.
Buffy turned slightly bringing Thomas' attention back to her. Heavy sarcasm coated her voice as she said, "Okay, first of all. What's with the outfit? Live in the now. Okay? You look like DeBarge." Turning completely she focused on Darla. "Now, we can do this the hard way, or… Well actually there's just the hard way."
"That's fine with me," Darla answered with a hiss.
"Are you sure?" Buffy's voice was thick with false concern. "Now this is not gonna be pretty. We're talking violence, strong language, adult content…"
From behind Buffy Thomas growled softly and charged. Buffy slipped the make shift stake from the sleeve of her coat and planted it in Thomas' chest. To the three teenagers' surprise he fell back turning to dust.
As if nothing untoward happened she asked, "See what happens when you roughhouse?"
"He was young and stupid," Darla replied with an evil sneer. She was worried. She was more worried then she had been in a long time. That this girl could dispatch one of the Master's line so easily was troubling.
"Xander go!" Buffy ordered.
"Don't go far," Darla suggested sounding almost playful.
The trio rushed toward the exit in a slow, shambling, trot. All of their attention was focused on Buffy and Darla. None of them saw the figure that loomed in the entrance blocking their escape. Xander bounced off the solid body and the three fell back into the crypt.
"Stick around ducklings," Spike said as his lighter clicked open. "Things are just about to get interesting."
"Spike!" Fear and excitement and revulsion tinged Darla's voice in almost equal quantities as she took in her great grandchilde. He had changed a lot in the ninety years since she had last seen him, yet he was remarkably unchanged as well. He still possessed a flare for the dramatic; knowing just when to strike a grandiose pose. Something he did far too often as far as she was concerned. If possible he was even more full of himself then the last time she had seen him.
"Spike." Buffy's eyes lit up at the sound of the vampire's voice. His presence filled the crypt and she felt a warm tingle burn deep in her bones.
He put flame to his cigarette and inhaled. Making his lighter disappear he plucked the cigarette from his mouth. "If you're lucky, you just might learn a thing or two."
A predatory smile crinkled Darla's eyes. She could admit the girl just might be a challenge to her, enough of one to put the outcome of their fight in doubt. Against Spike there was no doubt. Twenty years as a vampire and he accomplished something that everyone said was suicide… Less then eighty years later he did it again.
Killed a slayer in single combat. Just him and her.
He was constantly on the search for the next slayer. Normally it took years to find out where one was, if they lived that long. Most often they didn't.
Spike sauntered down the stairs forcing Xander and the others to scramble out of his way. His electric blue, hawk like eyes flickered to Darla as he took a casual drag off his cigarette. "Well, well, well…" Smoke billowed from his mouth as he spoke. "If it isn't my very own grand ma-ma?" His gaze settled on Buffy. "Looks like you've got yourself in a bit of pickle pet."
"Nothing I can't handle," Buffy said irritably as she remembered it had been more then three weeks since their last night together, their one and only night together. Three weeks and not one hint that he ever wanted to see her again. It didn't matter that she had been the one who snuck out of his apartment in the early morning after they had spent all night long making love; a wild night of uninhibited sex that had trashed his apartment.
He was still responsible for checking up on her, making sure she was okay, asking her out on another date. He had done none of those things.
The more she thought about the more she seethed.
"Wasn't talking about you Luv," Spike answered as he reached the floor of the crypt. He took another deliberate drag from his cigarette.
He called me Love and a somewhat more important, he thinks I can handle this on my own, bounce around Buffy's mind almost at the same time.
"That was so cool," Jesse whispered loudly while pressing a cloth to his neck. "Like something out of a movie."
Xander looked at his best friend and said, "We're in so much trouble."
"Is he…" Willow pointed at Spike then towards Darla. "…One of them?"
Buffy beamed for a brief, nearly non-existent moment before her scowl returned. No way is he getting off the hook that easily… A couple of flowery words don't mean all that much for somebody full of flowery words.
Xander nodded as he said, "I think…"
"The lunchables should really learn when to keep their lips from flapping 'fore a certain someone, namely me, takes an interest in removing them."
Spike hadn't even looked at them, yet all could sense the sincerity in his words. Still Xander couldn't help but finish his answer as he eked out a, "So," in a little girl's high pitched voice.
Darla had the distinct impression she was missing something. There was a by play going on between Spike and the blonde that she could pick up on, but didn't understand.
"Don't suppose the big pile of dust there," his chin jutted out towards the pile of dust on the floor, "was your replacement for that nancy boy poofter you always use to keep tethered to your hip? If so…" He gave his head a sad shake. "Whatever became of dear old Angelus anyway? He finally meet the pointy end of a stake? Or you got him stashed away somewhere hereabouts, trot him out every now and again. Some sideshow carnival freak… Get a good chuckle?"
Buffy suspected Darla's face would have been scarlet if she had been alive. As it was her breathes were coming in labored gasps. A sight to see for a vampire. If possible her brows continued to grow tighter together with each word.
"I should have had you killed the second Drusilla made you, you insolent dog." Darla heard the note of fear lacing her own voice along with the anger and hated herself for it. She despised him because he could make her feel fear.
Spike smile at her; it was a warm, nearly companionable grin that froze Darla to her marrow, which was always close to room temperature anyway. "Ought to introduce you two. After all, it's only proper for a person to know their killer. Buffy, this here washed up piece of old leather is Darla. Sire of my sire's sire. Darla meet the Slayer."
The little color left in Darla's face drained away in an instant. Silently she mouthed the word, "Slayer."