A/N: Thank you antsnpants, Jeremy Shane, lunabloodmoon666, VioletNicole, With a freaking y, and the anonymous reviewer! I thrive on your feedback, lovely readers. (:
Quotes and references from BtVS episodes "Shadow", "Intervention", and "Wrecked". Starts immediately after the last chapter, so read the last few paragraphs if you need a refresher.
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Alpha Delta party has proved to be a nightmare for newly chosen Slayer, Lorna. She gets hit on by pushy upperclassman Parker Abrams, accepts a dance with Spike, and then flees with him from Riley Finn. Once outside the frat house, Spike nearly forces himself on Lorna, but stops when he realizes he doesn't want to act in a way that would make Angelus proud, so he releases her.
Chapter 13: Two Against Four
Spike backs up a few paces from the wall, hands innocently held at shoulder level. Strength and courage returning, Lorna snatches up her stake and holds it in front of her, aimed at Spike.
"Here, now, is that any way to treat a nice bloke who stopped when you said 'no', Slayer?"
"You... sick... monster," she pants, wiping her mouth on her sleeve.
"Well, yeah, got me there," he grins. "Sunnyhell High librarian's your Watcher now, right? Must be shirkin' his duties, leavin' out the important bits. Didn't he ever tell you vampires are monsters? Have our own monster movies an' all?"
More cautious this time, she thrusts out with the stake, but he steps aside, still smirking.
"Want to keep dancin', is that it, sweets? Happy to oblige..."
"No," she retorts, increasingly irritated, "I want you to stand still so I can stab you in the heart with this sharp piece of wood."
He laughs. "Girl's got some pluck to her after all. 'Fraid it doesn't work like that, little Slayer. I didn't stake you –" he thumbs the fabric below his belt buckle, sneering licentiously "– though I bloody-well had the chance."
"You're vulgar, Spike."
"S'pose so, but that doesn't change the fact that you enjoyed it just a tad more than you're admittin'." He takes a deep breath through flaring nostrils. "Mmmm. Slayer musk. Bitter and aggravatin'."
Then – before the embarrassment can even show up on her face – the glee drops out of his expression, and he sniffs more thoughtfully.
"Someone's come to join the party," he calls over his shoulder, still keeping one eye trained on Lorna's stake. "Little late, boys. Think the punch already ran out."
An electric crackle splits the air between them. Spike dodges, Lorna ducks with a gasp, and the taser's barbs lodge into the brick wall, spitting electrical shocks like a hacking dragon.
"Aim like soddin' Imperial Stormtroopers, this lot," Spike chuckles. "Come out an' play, children! You've thrown the gauntlet, time to back it up, prove who's really got the stones 'round here."
From the bushes abutting the fraternity house, four figures in camouflaged combat gear prowl around the building's edge. Their faces are completely concealed behind goggles and black ski masks. Lorna pales, recognizing their outfits as matching the men who'd hidden along her path and chased her the night Spike had showed up at the Summers' house.
"Pals of yours, Slayer?"
"Do I look like the type these army stiffs would chum with?"
"Not really." Maybe they're here to arrest him, not me... maybe the other night they were just trying to help me.
"By the power of the United States military," says the one with the broadest shoulders, stun blaster pointing first at Spike, then at Lorna, "you are ordered to stand down."
"Am standin', you nit," jeers Spike, momentarily thankful that he isn't burdened down by the weight of his leather coat. Even if these soldier boys are trained to perfection and drugged up with steroids to boot, he's still more nimble, his dexterity heightened by vampire speed.
Lorna just stares at the leading trooper, her muscles coiling to evade another taser shot if needed. His voice is slightly garbled by some sort of mouthpiece, but seems curiously familiar.
"What do you want?" she demands, fist still clenched tightly around her long, thin, dagger-blade-style stake. Better the enemy you know...
"Stand down or we will engage."
"Think he means put down the stake, luv," Spike smirks, shooting her wooden weapon a quick sarcastic glance. "How did you expect to kill me with that? Such a teeny skinny thing, bit like you. Didn't Ol' Watcher-boy ever tell you that size matters?"
"Hostiles are not yielding, sir," grumbles another of the soldiers, ray gun cocked into his shoulder.
"Easy, Agent Gates," the commander orders gruffly. "This is your last warning..."
"Who, Gates or us?" retorts Spike, rolling his tongue as he sneers cheekily. "Don't you wankers have code names or somethin'? Throw us off the scent? Like 'Optimus Prime', or 'Nightwing'?"
A vampire spouting pop culture references? Lorna wonders briefly. Xander would probably get along better with him than with me!
A trigger-finger twitches, and another blast of electricity careens toward them. Spike gives an alarmed snarl as the sparking wires barely skim his leg.
"Told you to wait for my signal!"
"Look out!" cries Lorna involuntarily as the high-strung commando who'd fired at them ignores his leader's order and bears toward Spike, hefting his recharging gun like a club.
Growling and morphing into yellow-eyed killer, Spike crouches wolverine-like and side-steps the first swing of the gun. He jabs the soldier first in the solar plexus and then directly into the goggles, and the man recoils, swearing and reeling backwards. Yelling voices and grunts of battle overlay, the four camo-clad soldiers charging at Lorna and Spike. She drops her stake as the leader reaches her, crosses her arms in front of her, grips two handfuls of his shirt, and judo-throws him over her shoulder.
"Nice one, Slayer!" laughs Spike, the fleshy crunch of the commando's body against the brick building distinctly audible. He fends off his own two attackers with a century of skill, not bothering to pull his punches. Bones crack under his fists – femurs and ribs and noses beneath the black woolen masks.
"They're human! You can't kill them!" Lorna shouts urgently, her second opponent howling in pain as she drivers the pointed heel of her shoe into his calf, effectively hamstringing him.
"You can't! I bloody-well live for it!"
He spin-kicks the soldier who'd shot at him, knocking the much larger man to the aggregate pathway snaking around the side of the building.
"Not so tough now, eh?" he sniggers, eyeing the two unconscious figures at his feet and the third crumpled against the wall. The last one lies on the ground between them, tiny moans issuing from his masked mouth. "Reckon we should ID these pillocks? Find out why they're so keen on takin' us before their tribunal or some such?"
Lorna gazes down, watching the tense shoulder blades of the conscious soldier trembling, his screened face against the sidewalk.
"No," she answers Spike. "I don't care."
He gawks, transforming back into blue eyes and crease-less features. "One of 'em clock you in the head when I wasn't lookin', Slayer? These tossers were here to kill you or truss you up like a rodeo calf and hurt your girly bits, do a lot worse than what I..."
His voice drops away. Well, maybe technically it would have been the same thing I intended... but I would've made it good for her, got her glowin', made her skin sing... Cor! What am I thinkin'?! Can't be gettin' sentimental over her!
"I don't care who they are, just that they leave me alone from now on," Lorna says, raising her voice hostilely during the second part of her statement. By the jerky motions of the only remaining-awake soldier's head, she's sure he gets her message. "And you're not going to hurt them."
"Come off it!" Spike protests, almost whining. "I'm hungry! Helpless little snacks. Few pints each wouldn't really hurt these burly sods."
"No. Just turn around and walk away. Oh, hey, while you're at it, leave Sunnydale."
"Not goin' till I get my hands on the Gem of–"
He clamps his teeth shut. Hell! Watcher'll comb his books cover-to-cover if he knows what I'm after, pro'ly dig up the soddin' thing before I get a'hold of it.
"Gem? What gem?" she demands, eyes narrowing.
"Nothin'," Spike retorts lamely, mind racing for any conversation point that could distract her... and landing on a gold mine. "'Sides," he smiles wantonly, "reckon you'll be wantin' me to scratch that tight-assed itch of yours any minute now."
"Excuse me?!" gasps Lorna, instantly reaching for her stake again.
Pleased to see the prudish outrage back on her face, Spike prowls, orbiting her from eight feet away. "I'm in your system now, Slayer. You're going to crave me like I crave blood. And next time, if you don't stop being a bitch, maybe I'll bite you." Should've just sunk my fangs in her earlier, not dandy'ed about, makin' her squirm and gasp... though it was so bloody good, feelin' that heat so close...
"There's not going to be a next time, you pig."
"Well maybe," the blond vampire leers, leaning forward close enough for her to smell his cigarette-laced breath, and suddenly speaking in a lower, sweeter tone, "you should let your hair down more often. In case you didn't know, pet, a girl like you could take a man's breath away when she puts a minute's effort in."
Lorna blinks, unable to deny how flattered this surprise disclosure makes her feel. But just as she starts to smile reflexively, Spike draws in a breath, as though abruptly remembering some key tidbit of knowledge.
"Oh, wait, I don't breathe at all."
He smirks wickedly, her scowl evidence that he'd successfully killed the moment he'd created.
"Till next time, luv," he grins, backing away towards the front of the building, closer to the sounds of partying. At forty yards away, he risks turning his back on her and scarpers, tearing back around the house, thoughts ricocheting around in his head like pinballs.
What in the hell did I just do? Or not do? I had her at my mercy... could've emptied myself in to a Slayer, drunk my fill of her hot, love-spiked blood... and I stopped 'cuz of... what? A little whimperin' in my ear? 'Cuz hurtin' her would've just made me a monster like my scum of a grandsire?
Aggravated by his own weakness, he shakes his head as he stomps through the undergrowth on the opposite side of the frat until he finds the shrub where he'd hidden his own clothes and the shirtless student, still passed-out cold. Letting his demon rise to the surface again, Spike grabs the drunk boy by the neck and closes his jaws over the scabbed bite mark he'd made earlier that evening, gulping unrestrainedly. He drinks, siphoning out the alcohol-tinged lifeblood until the corpse is bleached white... but is not sated.
"Lorna!" gasps Willow in relief, squeezing Oz's hand extra tightly as her new friend finally reappears. "We've been looking everywhere! I was about to try a locator spell, which... would've been super tough without any ingredients. But... desperate here!"
"I'm okay," Lorna reassures her, slouching slightly in an attempt to appear shorter, though she hasn't spotted Riley anywhere in the crowd this time. Funny... how he shows up late but barely stays. Maybe parties aren't his thing either.
"And poop-head Parker said you'd snuck off somewhere to have sex with a grad student!" Willow continues in shock. "You... you didn't, right?" she asks with wide eyes as the color drains from Lorna's already tan-less face.
"Of c-course not. This may sound a little crazy... but Spike showed up."
"Spike?" she repeats, slack-jawed.
"Maybe he wanted my autograph," Oz suggests thoughtfully.
"Tell you more when we're somewhere less public, noisy, and booze-smelling," says Lorna urgently. Well, the abbreviated version anyway... how I fled from Riley and got Spike outside, tried to stake him, but got interrupted by the commando guys, and he said something about a gem and then scrammed before I could stop him. Won't tell him what he almost did to me... what he stopped himself from doing... not even sure why he stopped...
"You okay? Spike didn't hurt you?" demands Willow as they shove their way through the head-bobbing, grinding crowd toward the front door of the Alpha Delta house.
"No," replies Lorna softly. "No, he didn't..."
Several hours later, in the Initiative facility...
Maggie Walsh scowls at the squad of demon hunters, who've dared to return to her without bagging their target. She gives a particularly vehement look to the bruises on Agent Finn's chin and cheekbone.
"So you saw her but lost track of her position in the crowd, and by the time you regrouped, the girl wasn't alone?"
"That's right, Professor. She was in league with a vampire. Their combined strength was too much for us. They took us out, hard."
"A teenage girl and a single vampire?" she asks, skepticism lacing her voice like acid.
Riley seethes and nods stiffly. Though he's working hard to remain calm in front of his commanding officer, inside he's rankling – furious with himself, Graham, Forest, and Wilson, and even more so with the cat-like vampire and the little girl who's ruining his military reputation.
"The beast probably double-crossed her soon as we were out cold," Forest Gates adds with a glower, sporting badly bruised eyelids and a few cracked ribs. "Knew she'd fight us, wait to turn on her until they had us beat. That's the way the animal's mind works. Survival of the fittest, do what it takes to eat and pass on its damned genes."
"Vampires cannot procreate, if that's what you're insinuating," says Professor Walsh, idly glancing down the page on top of her clipboard. The Initiative had performed enough tests on the vampires they'd captured to be certain that both males and females were infertile, cold dead seed and defunct wombs.
"Agent Gates may have a point. It's possible the Cleveland suspect is no longer an issue," Riley scoffs, reluctant to back up Forrest since his sweaty hands had started the whole fight, put the commandos on the defensive. "Likely enough the vampire just raped her and killed her."
"Sir... sounded to me like they both walked, parted ways neutrally," Graham hesitantly contradicts him, voice barely more than a mumble. He'd been utterly terrified, lying immobilized on the aggregate sidewalk with a murderous creature and a mysterious but obviously dangerous fighter standing over him, discussing his fate and that of his comrades. "No idea why, but the vampire didn't drain us when the girl told him not to. We're lucky to be alive."
Lucky? muses Professor Walsh grimly. Bungled the objective; in some cultures, that kind of failure is considered worse than death.
"For the time being, we'll return to our observatory status on the Cleveland suspect," she says aloud, her crisp voice snapping the four bruised commandos back to attention. "However, if this vampire is seen again, your orders are zap and trap, kill if necessary. Fail me again, and I don't think I have to tell you the consequences will be... severe."
"We won't let you down, Professor," vows Riley. I won't let you down... Mother...
To be continued...
A/N: Not sure why, but I've always had a teensy soft spot for Graham, hate Riley and Forest with a passion. I'm going for a more sinister Riley than in canon, hopefully that comes across. Review, pretty please?