CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER RATING: T

CHAPTER PAIRING: Spike & Tara

TIMELINE/SPOILERS: Through BtVS Season 4's "Something Blue". (Story goes AU during "Hush".)

DISCLAIMERS: All BtVS characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. I'm just making up for their cruel treatment of Spike and Tara!

CHAPTER CREDITS: This story is a re-write of "Hush," so scenes from that episode are referenced.

CHAPTER NOTES: I LOVE Spara fics. Sometimes they are pretty unbelievable, but the characters themselves are two that I think could have at least formed a very sweet and healthy friendship had Tara not been taken from us so suddenly. So, with that in mind, I present this little attempt at some mutual loving! I also made one major change with Spike in this story: it operates on the idea that immediately after "Something Blue" (instead of during "Hush"), Giles asked Xander to take Spike for a while; in my version, Xander reluctantly agreed, but, once away from the others, decided NOT to let Spike stay with him and forced him out on the street (in the hope that he would starve). So, as you read this story, just keep that in mind (so you aren't wondering why Spike is not tied up in Xander's basement).


Laryngitis. You finally get an American to shut up, and it's called laryngitis. You get a group of them to shut up, and it's called an epidemic.

Stupid gits.

Spike stood in the alley behind the hospital, his back to the wall. Tearing into a still-somewhat-warm packet of O-positive, he mentally shook his head at the commotion inside. The Fox News report on the waiting room telly had sensationalized the situation, as usual. Anything for ratings. So you can't speak for a little while... so what? He hadn't needed to talk for a whole day now, and—who knows—maybe he wouldn't even need to speak for a week. Stupid, self-absorbed humans.

He gulped down the blood, trying to get his strength to return. The swill he'd had to survive on at the Watcher's hadn't done him any favors. Now that he was back on his own, he could get the good stuff—though, he lamented, not straight from the source as he'd have preferred. One of these days, he'd get this damn chip out of his head. For the time being, this was close enough.

When he was done with his dinner, he crumpled the bag up and tossed it to the ground. The sound it made as it scraped the asphalt was almost foreign. Even though this whole 'laryngitis epidemic' thing had to be a stupid hoax, Spike couldn't help but notice that the city had been abnormally quiet ever since he left the empty crypt he'd found yesterday. His ears picked up noises that he typically wouldn't have concentrated on, simply because there were no voices to muffle them. The sound of leaves rustling in the breeze. Pages of newspapers turning. Sniffles. Scuffing shoes on the pavement. The jingling of keys. Cigarettes being lit.

It was the latter that brought his attention back and got him moving again, looking for easy targets that wouldn't put up a fight. With the town so out-of-sorts, it was the perfect time to gather some supplies for his new hovel.


Tara could barely wait for the sun to rise. She left her dorm room and headed to the University Commons in the hope that she would find that girl who had started coming to the Wicca group. Willow, she remembered. There was something about her; Tara could feel it. The others in the group were annoyed at her suggestion that they actually try to do some magic, but that just proved to Tara that her suspicion was right: Willow was a witch like her. A powerful one, if the aura reading she'd done during that last meeting was anything to go by. Tara hoped that Willow would be willing to help her try to come up with a way to get everyone's voices back. She'd been up all night researching spells they could do. Whatever was going on in Sunnydale, it had a magic source. Tara could tell that, first and foremost. It was no epidemic of laryngitis, that was for sure.

She waited and wandered around campus, but never found Willow. Classes had been cancelled, so she guessed that she shouldn't have been surprised. But, nevertheless, Tara felt a twinge of sadness. She had searched for the girl yesterday, when it was discovered that no one could speak. The students on campus had been frantic then, panicking wordlessly. Today, everyone seemed resigned to their silent fates. Yet, with that resignation was also the apparent need to physically stay together. Tara figured it would be easy to find Willow today because all of the students were out of their rooms, trying to communicate as best as they could face-to-face. All of them except the redhead.

Tara sighed. Reluctantly, she slipped off to the campus library. Perhaps she'd see Willow there instead? If not, at least she'd have room to spread her books out and gather her thoughts together before locating a campus directory.


"Brutal Slaying Shocks Silent Community"

Spike sighed involuntarily. Some lucky bastard was having the time of his life right now, taking advantage of this strange situation. Spike wished it were him. Bloody brilliant idea to strike now while these idiots were silent. If only he hadn't had this damn chip...

He skimmed the newspaper for more details. Words like stabbed and heart missing made his stomach growl. It just wasn't fair.

In fact, the more he thought about it, the angrier he got. At the risk of getting discovered again by Buffy or the Initiative, he was going back to the UC Sunnydale campus. Yeah, that's what he'd do. He'd find their underground laboratory if it took him all fucking night.


By late afternoon, Tara had returned to her room. There was no sign of Willow in the library, and the sound of people shuffling and dropping books without any conversation was making her uncomfortable. At least in her room she had music and incense and pillows and spell ingredients.

She had managed to come up with a handful of magical solutions, but more importantly, she had located Willow's room number. Gathering her books together, she headed out, feeling more nervously excited than she had in a long time.


In a way, the silence had been refreshing. But by this time, Spike wasn't sure he appreciated it anymore. The echoing sound of hundreds of heartbeats was not only unnerving but it was also making him ravenous. Each thump-thump was like a dinner bell at this point. He was happy that he had hit up the hospital again on his way to the college campus, and especially that he had taken more packets of blood than he knew he needed right now. Last night he'd found a tiny refrigerator to smuggle into his crypt, and earlier today he had figured out how to run a hidden extension cord to siphon electricity from somewhere. That meant he could stockpile all the blood he could swipe. Well, at least until it expired. But, he'd make sure that didn't happen.

Stopping his search momentarily, Spike flicked open his lighter and lit a cigarette. Nothing wrong with a little break. While he stood there, he could hear a movement quite a ways away that seemed to be approaching. An incredibly rapid heartbeat followed it. Along with the scent of fear. His lips curled into a slow-growing smile. He took another drag and waited.