Title: Hurricane, Chapter 9: Blizzard Author: Sandy S. E-mail: ssoennin@juno.com Rating: R Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN. Spoilers: Set a few years after season 6 Dedication: For Thia...who is a new and dear friend and whose creativity inspires me! :o) Summary: Dawn, a lot of blood, a disappearance, a search. Buffy's worst nightmare comes true. Dawn's POV. The gang finally reaches Walter's lair in the caves of Alaska!


"Faithful friends! It lies I know/Pale and white and cold as snow;/And ye say, 'Abdallah's dead!'/Weeping at the feet and head./I can see your falling tears,/I can hear your sighs and prayers;/Yet I smile and whisper this:/I am not the thing you kiss./Cease your tears and let it lie;/It was mine-it is not I." -Sir Edwin Arnold

"Hey, could somebody help me with this pack?" I called out to the others in front of me, shifting the heavy hiking bag awkwardly on my shoulders with my thickly gloved hands. My legs ached from climbing and were numb from the cold that infiltrated the layers I was wearing. My voice was muffled by the stupid scarf that was wrapped like a blanket around the lower half of my face. No one heard me as a result.

Luckily, the evening was clear; no harsh winds or snow swept through the chilly air that stung my bare cheeks as we hiked toward the mountains. Buffy, Angel, and Willow were trudged ahead of me, three heavily bundled forms, and Xander and Anya brought up the rear.

Our little group had landed in Anchorage in the afternoon. We had hung around the city's international airport until dusk, making preparations. Buffy was right about the pilot being in charge of leading us to Spike's captors. After we landed, he had silently handed Buffy a map to the correct location. Another anonymous human driver had awaited us outside the airport, driving us in a large sports utility vehicle towards an area of the nearby mountains that was well-hidden from the small bustling city. We were now on a narrow, steep path that led to our destination and that had been cleared of snow.

My still slightly tender foot suddenly slipped on a patch of ice that had formed on the ground, and I stumbled back, my eyes widening and my body tensing in preparation for the shock of hitting the hard earth. I forgot to shriek; I guess I realized that my voice wouldn't be heard.

Arms made strong through construction work caught me before I hit the dirt, and I heard Xander's dampened voice in my ear, "It's okay, Dawnster; I got you."

Relief washed over me. I thought Xander and Anya had been further behind me. "Thanks."

"Any time."

I heard Anya singing behind Xander, her voice rising thinly over the still night atmosphere, "It's a trap; we're walking into a trap; it's a trap; we're walking into a trap." She almost sounded as panicked as the time the entire gang had gotten trapped in the house on Buffy's birthday a little over three years ago.

With his arm still around my waist, holding me as I regained my footing, Xander pulled Anya close, whispering that everything would be okay. I really wanted to believe him, but my thoughts were preoccupied with concern for Spike.

As if reading my mind, Buffy appeared before me, her small frame engulfed by her thick clothing and her form swathed in the glow of the flashlight she carried. "Guys, we're almost there. Is everyone okay?" She bent over, scooping up my flashlight from where it had fallen when I dropped it. "Dawn...are you okay?"

"Yeah...just almost fell." My gloved fingers fumbled clumsily to grasp the flashlight that she handed me. "I'm okay."

Buffy nodded tersely at me, her tension evident even through the darkness. "Angel's found the entrance to the cave where we think Spike is. Willow's up there with him now, checking it out."

Anya clutched Xander's arm. "A trap."

"Yeah, I know," Buffy sighed. "And I truly appreciate that you would help me, knowing that. I know your history with Spike probably doesn't make it easy."

Xander sounded sincere, "You would do the same for us, Buff...you *have* done the same for us."

"Yeah," I agreed. My sister was one of the only ever-present people in my life, and I was pleased that she was including me in the mission to save Spike. Maybe she just didn't want to let me out of her sight after what happened only a few days ago.

"Do we have a plan?" Anya questioned, her voice shaking as she shivered in the cold temperature.

"Do we ever have a plan?" Xander joked, trying to encourage Anya.

"Get in, get Spike out," Buffy stated. "Don't get killed in the process."

"Good plan."

Willow appeared behind Buffy. "Angel found a 'quiet' way in. Are you ready?"

Before Buffy could speak, I tried to show confidence in our group. "We're ready."

* * *

After a few minutes of hesitatingly entering the caves, I noted that they were completely remodeled and didn't even look like what I expected. The walls were covered in plaster and stark white, the floor was tiled, and the lights were fluorescent. No creatures or objects of any kind lined the halls. The facility reminded me a little of how Buffy had described the Initiative. The distinct smell of cleaning fluid permeated the air.

"Guess the neatness factor kinda goes with this group," Xander observed to Anya.

Everyone but Buffy stared at him in confusion.

"Huh?" I was genuinely curious.

Xander caught Buffy's glare of annoyance.

"Nothing," he replied to me.

Descending through the underground caves was like walking through a sauna wearing our heavy coats and flannel underwear. After what seemed like hours had passed with no action and a steadily increasing temperature, Buffy decided that we could shed our outerwear. Everyone but Anya, who had gotten rid of her coat much earlier, shed his or her excess clothing and piled it neatly next to one of the walls.

I sighed. My feet were starting to hurt and my body ached from walking so much. When we finally reached a fork in the road, I inwardly groaned. My brain was too fried to think enough to choose a route.

As if she read my mind, Anya intoned beside me, "So, does anyone else feel like we're not getting anywhere? And that we're being watched?"

Xander and I half-raised our hands at the same time. "Me," I agreed, thinking that Anya had hit the nail on the head by defining the strange sensation I had been feeling since we'd entered the facility.

"And me," Xander added.

"We *are* being watched," Buffy confirmed. "Angel can hear the cameras."

"Well, I'm fine," Willow said, wrinkling her brow and quietly trying to support Buffy. She earned a strange look from everyone but Buffy. "I mean, about being here and walking. . . not about being watched."

Buffy appeared exhausted as she placed her hands on her hips. "So, do we go left or right?"

Angel, who had been quiet for most of the journey since telling his story on the plane, calmly suggested, "Let's split up."

Relief washing over her face, Buffy became firm, "Right. Xander, Anya, Willow, you guys go right. Angel, Dawn, and I will take the left. Meet back here in an hour if you don't find anything?"

Xander nodded and headed right with Anya and Willow in tow. Buffy led Angel and I down the empty left hall.

* * *

Angel and Buffy were silent as we traveled down the never-ending corridor. Observing them together slightly ahead of me, I recognized the discomfort that now existed between them. They hadn't spent this much time together for over three years since Spike returned from Africa with a soul. I wondered vaguely if Spike would be jealous that Buffy and Angel were rescuing him together.

I gripped the stake that Buffy had given me earlier today and tried to concentrate on the present situation. Too easily, my mind had fallen to not paying attention to. . .

An icy hand slipped around my mouth, muffling my startled cry. The stake in my hand clattered to the floor.

My eyes wide, I witnessed Angel and Buffy spin around to face my captor. They both dropped into fighting stance. . . the stance of hunters and warriors. Deciding to help them out a little, I bit down hard on the vampire's hand and twisted away at the same moment.

Buffy lunged out in attempt to get me away from the vampire.

However, although he was startled, the vampire clutched at me with his uninjured hand, drawing me instantly close to his musty clothing and making me gag. I guessed not everything was clean in this place.

Something sharp pressed into my neck, and I felt wetness trail down my flesh. Forcing me to move backwards, the vampire jerked me down the hall with Buffy and Angel staying one pace behind. Angel was eyeing the vampire, and Buffy kept her eyes focused on mine, sending me silent reassurances.

We were definitely entering the lion's den.

* * *

The cavern we entered from the hallway was one of the largest I'd ever seen. . . larger than the ones my parents took Buffy and I to see when we were younger. Unlike the rest of the facility, this room was dimly lit, complete with bright circles of light and unexplored shadowy depths. I was afraid here.

I couldn't view much, and I drew no comfort from Buffy's horrified visage. Angel wore his usual unreadable vampire mask.

"So, we're finally all here," an unfamiliar voice echoed in the acoustically unsound cavern.

The vampire holding me captive spun me around to face the source of the speech. My heart dropped to my shoes as I bore witness to what Buffy and Angel saw.

Spike was chained to a concrete slab in the center with spotlights positioned on his unmoving form. Anya, Willow, and Xander were piled in an unceremonious unconscious heap nearby. Fifteen or so vampire minions stood in small clusters in each shadow, wearing black clothing and silver charms that glinted in the minimal light.

The one who had uttered the bold statement appeared to be a middle aged man. However, his true age was not reflected in his looks but in his eyes. . . his were eyes that had seen many decades. Dressed in a dark navy blue, his wardrobe varied slightly from the vampires'. Instantly, I *knew* that he was the man whom Angel was talking about. . . the man with no name but one he created. . . Garrek's son.

"Donald, could you please bring me my specimen?" Garrek's son uttered, motioning at the vampire who had pinned my arm in a painful twist behind my back.

Donald roughly pushed me toward Garrek's son. Resisting as hard as I could, I managed to stall our movement and cause Donald to stumble over my feet, almost falling over in the process.

That was when Spike lifted his head slightly. Through half-slit eyes, he sent me the message to not resist, so I reluctantly relented and allowed myself to practically be shoved into Garrek's son's face. He ran a thick finger over my cheek, and I found myself being grateful that he didn't use his tongue the way his father had.

"So, you do have power within you. I can feel it. Child, why do you not use this power of yours?" His breath is surprisingly sweet. . . like an odd mixture of flowers and cinnamon, and I felt slightly dizzy as a result.

I said nothing but continued to stare defiantly into his eyes the way Buffy and Spike would have.

In an unexpected motion, he covered my face with one hand and slung his arm around my waist with his opposite arm. Again, I changed directions to view Buffy and Angel peering out of the shadows at the others and me. I tried my best to appear calm.

Garrek's son's voice is loud in my left ear, and he sounds like he's accepting an academy award or something, "So, you're probably wondering why you're here. I have to first of all, thank you. If it wasn't for you, Buffy Summers, and you, Angelus, none of this would have been possible."

"What do you want, Jonah?" Angel interrupted with irritation in his tone.

I could almost feel Garrek's son frown. "My name is no longer 'Jonah' but is now Walter. . . , meaning 'powerful warrior.' Appropriate, don't you think, for this time period in our relationship?"

"Answer his question," Buffy commanded, glaring angrily.

"I don't believe you're in any position to be handing out orders, missy." His arm tightened around my hips, and I had to suck in my stomach to breathe.

"What do you mean by 'none of this would have been possible'?" Angel questioned firmly.

"I set you up to fail. Don't you know that about me by now, Angelus?" When he caught Angel's fearful expression, Walter bragged, "I set you up. . . both of you! I had Garrek plant Dawn's blood, Miss Summers, and I laid the trail for those murders you were investigating, Angelus. You merely followed through with my plan."

"And now your plan is to what? Hold us here in this cavern talking to us until you're blue in the face?" Buffy was at her most sarcastic, which was occasionally beneficial in intimidating the usual vampires and minions.

Walter's laugh was loud, bright, and eerily cheerful before he found his vocal cords again, "Oh, that is good. No, I'm not here to talk with you, Miss Summers. You're here to put on a show for me." He gestured widely, pointing at me. "You see, you have a choice in the matter. You can either kill your sister, whom I believe isn't really your sister. She's what? A mystical cluster of energy. . . so powerful that she could keep me alive for one hundred centuries." He nuzzled my neck with his nose, and I shivered at the smell of decay rolling off his flesh; he was definitely vulnerable since Garrek's death.

Buffy took a few threatening steps toward him, and the minions in the shadows seemed to take offense to her actions, so they clustered around her, preventing her from nearing Walter.

Walter rested his head on my shoulder and smiled; I felt his cheeks lift with the corners of his mouth. "Or, you can kill your lover. . . a member of the species you're supposed to kill anyway." He nodded at Spike's prone body.

Buffy's expression flashed back and forth from vulnerability to fear to rage as if she was trying to decide which to feel in the current situation.

She picked rage.

Hurling herself at the closest minion, she dusted him before he knew what hit him. Angel followed Buffy's lead and quickly began fighting the vampires most adjacent to him. Grunts and the sound of flesh meeting flesh bounced through the air of the underground chamber.

I turned my head to glance at Walter, not certain what he would do in response. He was grinning broadly, and his eyes were filled with a hunger that I had never previously seen even in a vampire's eyes. Like a child who cut the tails off cats, he was enjoying viewing his own servants being killed!

When Buffy and Angel were wrestling with and overcoming the last two minions, Walter snapped his fingers sharply. From an unseen entrance behind us, fresh vampires filtered into the room.

As the new minions surrounded Angel and Buffy, Walter boomed, "Now that you're tired, perhaps you'll heed the demands of the task I've laid before you, Miss Summers."

Buffy winced as one of the minions pushed in front of Walter. At Walter's signal, another vampire pressed a sword into Buffy's hand.

Buffy stared in defiance at the manipulator before her. "So, what? Do you honestly believe your plan is going to work, Wally or Wilson or whatever your name is?"

Walter laughed. "Oh, yes! Of course, I do."

"Well, you'd be wrong. You'll be dead before you ever think about leaving this place."

Walter winked at Buffy. "I don't intend to leave my home, so you're right on one count there. So. . . choose, or they both die."

Spike's voice resonated weakly as he spoke for the first time, "Do what he says, love."

Like a little boy who had to use the restroom but refused to tell his mother, Walter was practically dancing in place as he waited for Buffy to respond. "Go on," he urged, "Talk to Spike. Tell him how you feel."

The vampire holding Buffy's arm dragged her up to Spike's side. She placed a bare hand on his chest, and I swore I felt the electricity that danced between them. As she gazed at him and read the message in his eyes, I saw large tears spill over her lids and wash over her cheeks. I realized that she and Spike had made the decision about her next course of action with no words. . . only their shared love.

Then, she spoke the words that she'd so often left unsaid, "I love you, William, with all my heart and soul. You are truly beautiful. . . inside and out. I've never met someone I've felt such deep love for but also such deep anger." She laughed hesitatingly. "I suppose now I look back and can say I've loved you since you came into my life years ago. I would have never thought so then."

Buffy reverently brought the sword up to Spike's neck.

Then, she faltered, leaning against Spike's chest and pressing her face into his throat, "I-I can't."

I barely heard Spike's next words because he murmured them against her hair, "You have to, love. I won't allow Dawn to be harmed again. You both have a shot at surviving if you choose me. Come now, where's my slayer?"

Sounding like a spoiled child, Walter chose that moment to interrupt impatiently, "Okay, okay, him or Dawn. . . do something or they both die."

I closed my eyes.

All I heard was the sound of Buffy's sobs as Spike's form burst into dust.

The end of chapter 9