Title: Crawling in the Dark
Summary: Second Part of the Weathered Series. There's a wolf stalking the SG, but who is it? And what does it want?
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Joss, UPN, and WB own everything. Please don't sue me.
Special Thanks: Once again, to my lovely and talented Beta readers, Haley, Jennifer, and Karen. They really help me out a lot and deserve a big thank you from everyone.
AN: Well, I've done the action/adventure with Weathered, and a light hearted comedy with Murphy's Law, but now things are about to get a little bit darker and with more angst, at least in my opinion. Like the other two, I didn't quite mean to do that, but that is how it happened. Still, I hope you enjoy.
Part 1: Signs
She walked through the deserted street, the cool morning air blowing up the thin skirt she had on as she pushed a stray blond hair out of her face. The town was so still, so unnaturally still. It was starting to give her the creeps, even though the bright morning sun shone down on her. The warm glow was sure to chase all the nasties away. But something dark was following her, tracking her, even if she couldn't find it.
On the steps in front of the Magic Box sat a little girl with hair that looked as if it couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a light brown or a dark blond. The long curly mat that was her hair was pulled into two pig tails that hung low behind her ears and rested on her little shoulders. She didn't look as if she were over four-years-old, and was just quietly bouncing a ball up and down.
Buffy came and sat beside the child who barely even noticed her presence.
"Hi," the slayer said watching the ball come up again and land in the girl's hands. "What'chya doing?"
"Waiting for my daddy," she told her still focusing in on her ball. "He had to go out for awhile and told me to wait here."
"What about your Mommy? Where's she?"
The little girl caught the ball in her hand and looked over at the slayer. Her little face was so sad, it almost made Buffy want to cry for her.
"She didn't listen," the child said sadly. "I told her, but she wouldn't listen to me."
"Told her what?"
"To beware the wolf," she said as she continued to bounce the ball. "But she didn't listen."
Buffy felt her eyes grow wide. It couldn't be.
"Dylan?" she asked softly.
The girl looked up at her again and she recognized those bright, blue eyes. Before she could react to what she was looking at, the child screamed, "Look out!"
Buffy turned just in time to see a large mouth of teeth launching at her.
The blonde sat up straight in her bed, a thin layer of sweat covering her body with her heart pounding in her chest. What was that?
From the crib that they had set up under the windows that she used to sneak in and out, Dylan was standing up, holding onto the railing, bawling. Her little face was red and sticky from tears as she waited for her mother to come comfort her and make everything alright again. Buffy lifted the child into her arms; her little yellow fleece body pajamas warm in her embrace as she swayed the toddler back in forth.
"It's okay," she told her rocking the child. "It was just a dream, nothing else."
To be honest, she didn't know who she was trying to calm down more, her daughter or herself.
Ever since Thanksgiving, the dreams had become worse and worse. They were always the same; she would be somewhere in town, see the same little girl but at different ages, and she would give her the same warning, 'beware the wolf.'
At first, Buffy didn't know who the child was, but she did now. The still whimpering baby in her arms was trying to tell her something, but wasn't quite sure what. The fact that she said that she didn't listen to her tonight really put the slayer on edge.
Did that mean that it was too late already? She just wished she knew.
The house was dark. They were all asleep and safe in their beds, but he still kept his post under the old tree out front. He would stay there until the first rays of light would start to brighten the sky and chase him and the shadows away, but he would stay right there until then.
How many nights had he stayed under that tree, watching that window in hopes of catching a glimpse of her without Solider Boy? He had lost count from before.
He did remember the last night plainly, the night that he had shown her that her white knight had a few kinks in his armor. The night he had a moment to compare what her real nude body looked like as compared to the one he fantasized about – they were strikingly similar. The night before both their lives were turned completely upside down and inside out.
It struck him how differently their lives could have been had he not kept watch that night had he not dragged her out of her dream world and into the harsh reality that her commando boyfriend lived in. Would he be standing there, watching the room where both she and their daughter slept? Spike snorted. Probably bloody well not.
Unlike when he watched out of obsession, he had to watch now to keep his own sanity in check. They had been together for so long, just the three of them, and he knew they were both safe because he was always nearby in case something should happen.
The only time he had left, he had because he felt it was for the best. He worried constantly for the three months he was in Africa. Even during those deadly, gruesome trials, it was the thought of getting back to them that had kept him from giving up. When he had to recover and that blasted guilt was driving him insane, the thought of them being unprotected without him around was what finally forced him to stop feeling sorry for himself and haul his ass back to Madrid. He had nearly lost them that night; he was sure as hell not going to let it happen again. If that meant standing out there, under that window, and watching for the rest of his unnatural life, then so be it.
A faint sound floated from the house causing Spike to straighten up a little. He would know that sound anywhere. It was Dylan and she was crying, again.
In a move he had perfected over the months, he was able to climb the tree and position himself to where Buffy couldn't see him before the slayer even had a chance to turn on the lights. Dylan was standing there in her crib, screaming like a banshee until her mother came and lifted her into the safety of her arms. The slayer herself didn't look much better than the child. She looked worn and tired and scared, but of what he didn't know. He couldn't know because he wasn't there with them, like he should be.
Spike stayed there, trying to will any comfort to them, until Rupert arrived shortly before the sun would have risen. The vampire felt a pang of jealousy towards the Watcher because he was the one the slayer still turned too, but he also felt better because he was there and perhaps able to help her. Reluctantly, but because he didn't want to spontaneously combust, he slipped out of the yard and headed home.
He hadn't gotten very far when a familiar sensation started to prick at his mind. Stopping in his tracks, he glanced over his shoulder and directly at the shadow he knew she was hiding in.
"Hello, Dru," he said rather evenly, keeping his back to the vampiress.
The raven hair beauty emerged from her hiding spot, her black dress flowing around her white body as her insane grin never wavered on her lips. When she looked like this with her lily skin glowing in the moonlight and that childlike innocence to her there would hardly a man alive that would turn down whatever it was this creature was offering. A hundred and twenty-two years ago, he hadn't, but he would tonight if she offered. Somehow, he doubted she would.
"Miss Edith told me a man stole my Spike's body, but I did not believe her. Had I, then maybe I wouldn't have punished her so badly."
The bleach blond turned to face her fully. So, she knew about the soul. Still doesn't explain why she's here.
"What do you want, Dru?"
She took a step to him, seemingly amazed by him. "You sound so much like him, but the bugs ate my Spike away and left you in his place."
She reached up to touch his face, but he took her hands away before her skin made contact with his. "Dru."
His sire frowned at his dismissal of her fascination. "You see! He would never hurt his Mummy like you."
Spike sighed at her. "You're right, he wouldn't have. But you're talkin' to me now, pet. What do you want?"
She jerked away from him, then turned her attention upwards to the starless night. "Did he tell you? The stars, they sing to me, tell me stories. They told me one about an angel the other day."
"Dru, did you see Dylan?"
"I saw death," she laughed playfully, clapping her hands together. "Death and darkness. But they did not play well together. Death kept cheating darkness."
"Drusilla," he practically hissed.
She blinked blankly at him, then held her hands up as she closed her eyes. "Shhhh. Don't you hear it? Don't you hear the wolf cry?"
He grabbed her by the shoulders, barely keeping the demon down, though he knew she wouldn't mind. God, how did she ever not infuriate him with her cryptic messages before? "Drusilla, what is going on?"
"The fates are coming to play. They say it's time to pay," she told him, almost seriously. She then pouted, "But they don't want me to play with them. They say that my part is done. Tell them I can play."
Spike dropped his shoulders and turned away from her gaze. He wasn't as good at translating what she was telling him like he used to be, but he knew what she was telling him was bad.
"Better listen to what they have to say," Spike sighed after a moment.
She gave him a large pair of puppy dog eyes that he was sure he would be seeing more when Dylan got older, then said, "I wish you were still him. We created such beautiful darkness."
"But I'm not, love," he told her. She gave him one last sigh, then turned to walk way. Before she got too far, he called to her, "Dru." She paused and looked back at him. "Don't ever come back."
"The slayer shouldn't worry. I'm gone from everything now," she told him before disappearing into the shadows.
Steven sat on the balcony, staring out over the city below him. In his world, there was no place like this, only plenty of room for a boy to run and feel free. Here, everything was loud, crowded, and mostly, made him feel like he was trapped in a prison he could not escape from. There were rules here, a society that he did not understand nor wanted to. He missed his home and wished desperately that he was there.
After Justine had murdered his father, the boy had discovered some nasty truths that had been kept from him his whole life. Everything the teen had ever been taught was called into question, including his sense of right and wrong and who he really was. He knew he had been born of two vampires, but, after seeing Angel - his real father - fight all these months, Steven could not say without a doubt that he thought that all vampires or demons were evil and that men were all good. Both his fathers had proven the opposite could be true.
"Hey," a woman said walking outside to join him. "I thought I might find you here."
Cordy smiled warmly at the boy as she pulled her jacket a little tighter around her body. The late December nights were bitterly cold for LA, but he didn't seem to notice that much.
He didn't know why, but he liked Cordelia. Maybe it was the fact that she was always nice to him and treated him like a normal person instead of 'Angel's son' like so many others seemed to do. She understood what it meant to be different, thanks to the demon that was now inside of her, and he was grateful to have someone who had stood on both sides of the fence.
"Did Angel send you to check on me?" he asked, never taking his eyes off the city.
She drew in a deep breath before she came over and leaned on the balcony that he was sitting on. "No. As far as he knows, I'm still manning the phones downstairs and you're still in your room. Guess it proves that he doesn't know everything like he thinks he does."
Steven bit the inside of his mouth to kill a smile that threatened to come. Angel was the type of person who thought he knew what was best for everyone, not that the boy was any different. It did, however, provide for some very interesting 'discussions' that usually involved yelling and the breaking of objects.
"You know," she continued after a moment of silence, "when you were a baby, I used to bring you out here whenever I couldn't get you to calm down and Angel wasn't around to vamp out for you. You loved it out here. Guess you still do."
"I can think here," he explained simply.
The boy looked over at the slightly older woman who had an eyebrow raised. "Stuff," he said.
She couldn't hold back a snort. "You're more like your father then you-ugh."
Steven jerked his head over to see what the matter was and found the woman holding her head as the vision came. He had only seen her do this a few times since coming to stay with Angel, but it still freaked him out.
"Cordy?" the boy said softly. "Cordelia? Are you alright?"
"Yeah," she told him carefully, trying to pay attention to what she was seeing. The seer then straighten up, turned to the boy, and said plainly, "Connor, we need to go talk to your father."
The boy knew that tone; it was the same one that his father had always used when trouble was on the way. Reflexively, he drew in his bottom lip to bite down on it, a bad habit that he had picked up as a child.
"Something's coming, isn't it?" he said.
"No," she said sadly shaking her head. "It's already here."
Joyce poured the hot liquid into the cup and handed it over to the middle-aged man that sat at the counter with her weary looking daughter. The sun would be up soon, and none of them had planned on starting the day this early. But a slayer dream and a screaming baby had proven otherwise for them.
Dawn was the only one who had been able to sleep through Dylan's screaming fit. Joyce wasn't sure how the teen had been able to do it. After all, her room was further down the hall than the teen's, but Dawn had always been a sound sleeper. Her mother-in-law used to say that the girl could sleep through a tornado or a hurricane had either one of them ever struck California.
Rupert adjusted his glasses before taking the cup. He took a long sip from it, then turned back to her child. "How long have the dreams been going on?"
Buffy shrugged as she ran her finger along the rim of the coffee cup. The poor girl's eyes were dark from lack of sleep, and Joyce couldn't help but wonder how long she could keep up taking care of Dylan, going to school, slaying, and getting absolutely no rest. She would have to remember to speak to Spike about maybe helping out a little more.
"Ever since about May," she told the coffee cup. "They've become more regular since Thanksgiving."
The Watcher sighed deeply. Seven months and she was just now telling them about it?
"There's more," she went on quietly. "I-I think that…" Her voice died in her throat before she finished.
"What, Honey?" Joyce pressed softly as only she could do.
"I think that I'm…sharing the dreams." She added quickly. "With Dylan."
"Are you sure?" Rupert asked quickly.
"It's her in my dreams, Giles. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I know it is. She's trying to warn me about something, but I don't know what she's talking about. And then she's always crying when I wake up." She snorted at the last thought. "Actually, it's more like bawling her little eyes out. You can ask Mom, she heard her this morning."
Joyce paused for a moment. She had heard Dylan this morning, and there had been more and more nights where the child had woken her up screaming. The older blonde woman had never been able to figure out why a child who always seemed so content and happy would cry like that at night. But, if she were sharing Buffy's dreams, then it did explain it.
"She has been rather upset at night lately," her mother offered, not going as far as to agree with her daughter, but not ruling it out either.
Giles looked from one woman to another before pulling his glasses off and beginning to clean them. "I suppose if Dylan really is this 'dark angel' like that Becket fellow thought she was, then it could be possible. The problem is she is still only speaking in short sentences and cannot tell us out right if it is true or not. Maybe if she were older-"
"But she's not," Buffy told him. "So we'll just have to go with my instinct here."
"Which is?" Spike asked.
All three of them turned and found the bleach blond leaning in the open back doorway. His arms were crossed as he stared at Buffy, and Joyce noticed how her daughter seemed to relax slightly with him being there.
"What are you doing here?" the tiny blonde asked.
"Ran into Dru a minute ago," he told her. "Said something bad was goin' on, but I guess you already know that."
"Great, Drusilla, just what we don't need," Buffy sighed deeply, turning her attention back to the coffee cup.
"Don't think we'll be worrin' about her, love. Whatever it is, it's pretty much told her to stay out of it. She was headin' out of town when she left me. So, what's your slayer instinct sayin' we should do here?"
"Major research party for anything that might be going down in the next couple of days with a good, old-fashion shake down at Willy's to see who might be causing trouble in Sunnyd. You and me can check it out tonight after sunset."
Giles nodded his head in agreement and was mentally preparing himself for a long Saturday at 'Scooby Central.'
Tara sat in the large chair she had moved into the dorm room, her legs curled up to her body as she watched the young red head sleep in the bed. It had been nearly a week since Thanksgiving and the young witch seemed to be handling the adjustment back to the real world rather well, or as well as could be expected. She didn't smile nearly as often as she had before, nor did she display as much confidence, but she was trying to get back to normal.
Tara just didn't know what to do. It was Willow. There was no doubt about it, but she was different. She was…darker. Yeah, that was a good word for it. Her moods were darker, her clothes were darker, even her eyes somehow seemed darker. But that should be expected, she supposed. After all, she did just get back from the Shadow World.
That was another mystery in itself. The witch had never gone into detail of how she had returned from the place. She just left the Scoobies to guess. Giles had tired to pry into it, but Willow had quickly shut out the questions by leaving the room complaining she was tired and didn't want to talk about it. They had agreed that she just needed time, but she needed to speak to someone about it soon. Tara didn't care if it was with her or not, just someone.
Willow's small body stirred in the large bed. She was grunting lowly to herself when the nightmares came on yet again. Tara wished there was something she could do to help her. It was true that she could use magic to make her forget, to help her to become her old self again, but she wouldn't do that. Magic was never the way when it came to such problems; and, if one did use it in that manner, it was highly addictive. The young witch had seen others fall into it like that, and there was nothing sadder than to see a magic junkie looking for the next fix.
"No, please," Willow whimpered lowly into the pillow as she slept. "Please, leave me alone."
Tara stood from the large chair, the silk robe that Dawn had given her for a Christmas present last year falling around her body. She bent down next to the restless sleeper, reached out to offer comfort, but kept her hand just barely away from her face.
"No, don't," Willow said as the shut eyes began to have slits of water glisten at their ends.
"Willow," Tara said softly gently shaking her shoulder.
"No," the woman muttered again, not waking from the contact.
"Willow," she said again.
"No, no, no, no," she repeated starting to jerk forcefully. Tara sat up, unsure what she should do as Willow began to cry. There was something building around the red head, but she didn't know what. "NO!!" she screamed, her body lifting upward from the bed.
The room seemed to explode from some kind of energy that lifted the blonde up off the bed and tossed her to the ground. Pictures and books were knocked over, and the glass vase that held the Japanese Fighting fish shattered, spilling the water all over the desk.
Willow fell limply back onto the bed with a thud, then moaned as she slowly regained consciousness. Tara lifted herself up off the ground and Willow began to look around the room as confused as she had been the night she wondered into Buffy's yard. This was not good.
"Tara?" she asked weakly.
The blonde scrambled across the soft bed, scooped the still shaking red head into her arms, and began to rock her tiny body back and forth. "It's okay," she whispered holding her.
But she knew it was anything but okay. Somehow, Willow had tapped into something unconsciously that she wasn't supposed to. It may be just a residual effect from being stuck in the Shadow World; after all, no one knew anything about that place because no one has ever returned from it, but Tara wasn't sure. This was all just too…strange.
"It's okay," she said again, kissing the top of her head, trying to reassure herself of the same thing.