Part 8


I want you

He tossed some tattered compliment your way

I want you

And you were fool enough to love it when he said

"I want you"

Elvis Costello, "I want you"


Next morning.

The morning sun laved Giles' patio with golden light. The day's heat was only a promise. The birds were singing. It was tempting to forget the night before, to live in this pleasant moment, two friends drinking coffee. Buffy swallowed the last of her coffee and looked at Giles sitting on the other side of the little cafe table. Her mother was asleep upstairs. Willow had crashed on the couch. Neither Watcher or Slayer had slept and both were showing the effects.

"What do we do about Mom," Buffy said finally.

"We have to find a somewhere safe, and someone will have to be with her at all times. I'm the best for that position." Buffy nodded in agreement.

"What about LA?" she suggested.

"Your father?"

"Uh, no. I was thinking maybe Angel." Giles looked at her.

"Under the circumstances," he said diplomatically. "I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Oh. Yeah."

"In any case, it wouldn't be a good idea to send her away. He... I'm sorry, Buffy, but there is a-a connection. He'd know she'd left Sunnydale, and he'd follow her wherever she went. We'll do better dealing with him here, on our home ground."

"So what's the plan?"

"A hotel I think. I'll stay with her, one of you will have to spell me so I can get some sleep. We'll have to be careful, but we have the advantage that Spike can't easily keep track of us during the day."

"So the plan is: we hide Mom until I can find Spike and cut his head off."

"In a nutshell."

"Time to get this show on the road then," Buffy said grimly.



"Hi Willie, long time no see."

Willie put the crate of bottles he'd been carrying down a little too quickly and retreated from the door.

"Hey, Slayer, Slayer's friend. What's up?" Buffy looked around the bar, mid-afternoon, nice and empty. She stepped inside followed by Xander who shut the door and stood in front of it, trying on his best bad ass look.

"Where's Spike?" Buffy asked.

"Spike? Is he back in town? I heard he went back down to Rio. Shit!" Willie yelped as Buffy's slap rocked his head back. She smiled and he couldn't help noticing how it lit up her whole face.

"Where's Spike, Willie?" Still pretty as a picture.

"Hey, even if I knew, I couldn't tell you." He whined backing away from her. He really didn't like the look in her eyes. "How come you always come here to beat me up? What'd I ever do to..." Oh yeah, there was that whole trap thing. "I mean, c'mon, I'm just a guy, trying to run an honest business."

"Legal maybe, honest? I don't think so." Buffy said. "Tell me where Spike is, and I'll go away. Promise." Willie kept backing away, behind the bar now.

"Willie," she warned as he bent down and picked up the sawed-off he kept back there. Brought it up and....

Willie was looking up at the ceiling, not sure exactly how he'd gotten there, and the Slayer was aiming the barrels of his shotgun at his face.

"Oh Fuck!" Willie screamed as she pulled the trigger. A large hole appeared in the floor next to his head, he felt blood on his face where splinters had hit him, and a damp patch under him. Buffy smiled and ejected the spent shell.

"Where's Spike, Willie?" She asked. She pumped the shotgun, jacking the second shell into place. "Last chance. Ten, nine, eight....."

Willie scooted backwards, she allowed him to get into a sitting position. The barrel never wavered. "Seven, six, five...." He looked at her: tiny, blond, barely adult, her brown eyes glittering....and unmistakably the Slayer. On the other hand there was Spike. Vicious, undead, vengeful Spike who routinely killed people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

"Four, three, two, one. Times up." Her finger tightened on the trigger. Behind him he heard Xander make a sound of protest.

"You won't do it! You can't!" he squeaked staring into her implacable eyes. "You're the good guys!"

Buffy sighed, and lowered the shotgun.

"You got me," she said reversing the shotgun and ramming the butt into his forehead. Willie hit the floor with a thump. Xander came over and they stood looking down at the unconscious snitch.

"So, now what?" He said. Buffy smiled. It was not a nice smile. Note to self, *never, ever* really piss Buffy off, Xander thought.

"Plan B," she said.

When Willie came to this time, he was tied to a chair. Buffy and Xander were admiring the collection of "security devices" that they'd retrieved from behind the bar. Sawed-off, baseball bat with a nail in it, silver-bladed knife, a machete with a gilded blade, super-soaker, salt, garlic spray, brass knuckles, nun-chuks...

"Doesn't look like a boy scout, but he sure is prepared," Xander commented.

Buffy she hefted the super soaker "Holy water? Cool." She turned to Xander. "Box it up."

"Hey!" Willie protested futilely as Xander swept the armory into a box and set it by the door. He cringed as Buffy came close to him.

"Want to tell me where Spike is?" Buffy asked conversationally. Willie shook his head mulishly and waited for the blow. She shrugged. "OK. Be seeing you." She turned to go.

"Hey! What about me? You can't just leave me here."

"Sure we can. Oh, yeah. Don't worry, we'll leave the door unlocked. It's only, let's see, what time is it Xander?"

"Just past 4 o'clock."

"See, and sundown's at say 8 o'clock. Just a few hours and I'm sure one of your customers will be by to let you go. We left the basement door open too, so it might even be sooner than that. Bye Willie."

Willie stared at her. Even he could smell the blood oozing on his forehead. It was one thing doing business with the monsters on his feet, unwounded, another story entirely with him bleeding and helpless.

"You can' wouldn't..."

"Sure I would. See ya." Xander was gone, and she had one foot out the door before he broke.

"No! Stop! I'll tell you!"



Spike lay on his bed, closed his eyes and tried to find her. She was out there somewhere, imagining herself safe. He could feel her, almost see her. She was lying suspended between sleep and waking, curled up around herself alone. She should never be alone, she could never be alone, she was his. He reached out and felt her react to his presence. Felt her terror as she recognized his touch and tried to pull away, to wake up, but he held her, entwining himself around her fearful consciousness, murmuring softly to her.

"Tell me where you are luv," he whispered voicelessly. A sharp joy sparked through him as he felt her sigh, the first signs of surrender. "Tell me," he hissed lovingly.

Then the delicate rapport was shattered by a knock at the door. Spike howled silently as she slipped away into the day. He shot up, yanked open the door, grabbed the minion by the throat and banged his head against the door frame. Knock, knock.

"What the fuck do you want!" He demanded, holding him there.

"I've got the number you wanted!" He whined, offering Spike a folded scrap of paper.

Spike put the minion down carefully and accepted the note. "Thanks," he growled.

He went back in and dialed the number for Cynocephalus, a.k.a. 411. For the right price there was nothing the demon could not or would not find out. The phone rang 3 times.

"What do you need?" Cynocephalus asked in an insinuatingly sweet voice. Spike had used its services before, but never actually seen it in the flesh. He wondered idly if the body matched the voice or if it was one of those horrible contrast deals. Spike explained the situation and quickly agreed to the hefty price quoted.

"I'll get back to you." Cynocephalus said. "Is the number you're calling from good?"

"Yeah, the minute you hear anything...."

"I'll call you. Got it. With what you're paying, sweetheart, I'll make it my first priority. I'll be in touch." He hung up.

Spike set down the phone and lay back down, and tried to force himself back down into sleep.



Joyce woke with a gasp from another nightmare. And found herself blessedly alone, no cold hand in hers. The room was unfamiliar. She sat up and swung her legs onto the floor. It took her a moment to remember where she was. They'd checked into the Sunnydale Airport Hilton early that morning. She'd been there a couple of times for trade shows, and upstairs once for drinks and no-commitment sex. She remembered that Giles had registered them as Mr. & Mrs. Bailey. It was almost funny. And now what?

"Buffy will find him," Giles had told her earnestly as they were preparing to leave his house. "And kill him."

It was a two bedroom suite, one for her, one for Giles. He'd appointed himself her guardian, told her he'd stay with her until it was over. They'd set up a schedule where Xander or Willow would come by in the evening so he could get some sleep. He'd explained it all, to her his eyes searching her eyes for something. Contamination? Absolution?

She didn't blame him, not really. Not for Spike. She'd almost forgiven him for Buffy. She looked around the room and saw her suitcase sitting on a stand near the dresser. 3 p.m., time she was up. She went into the bathroom. She carefully avoided looking in the mirror as she performed her ablutions until she was fully dressed. She combed her hair, put on makeup. Looked at herself critically. Not too bad.

Giles jumped when she came out of the room. "Joyce. Good-good morning."

"Good morning Giles. Is there anything to eat?"

"Er - yes. Some doughnuts, I believe, and fruit. Or I can order from room service."

"Eggs--No, a burger, with fries and a shake. I'm really hungry." A lie, but it was worth it to see the look of relief in his eyes.



It had been a good night. They'd found a sailor down by the docks, a big fat drunken sailor too inebriated to put up a struggle and big enough to feed the nest. One carefully calculated blow to the back of the head and he was theirs. They loaded him into the back seat and headed home. They parked in the rutted parking lot of the old motel Jason, the leader led the way while Curtis and Jane supported the human between them. He was starting to come to, but was still too drunk to be aware of the danger he was in.

They opened the door to the check-in desk and smelled smoke. The vampire that should have been on duty behind the desk was not there. All three instantly shifted into their true faces. Forgotten, the sailor slid to the floor.

"Whatthefuck," he mumbled, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Jason nodded at the other two. They went down the hallway towards the dining room, and burst through the swinging doors together.

The three vampires stood frozen in shock by the sight before them. There had been eight vampires in this nest. The smoke was coming from the smoldering remains of a vampire that had been spread-eagled on the pool table. The smell of vampire dust choked the air.

Ah Fuck! Jason thought as the crossbow bolt took him in the heart. He dissolved into dust. The survivors stared in shock as a small blond figure stepped out of the shadows, and smiled.

"Hey guys, you're kinda late for the party, but it's OK, I saved some for you."


Giles stiffened at the knock on the door. He put his finger to his lips for silence and gestured to Joyce to go into the bedroom before carefully approaching the door and looking through the peephole. With a sigh of relief he opened the door.

"Buffy." He stood aside to let her in, then made sure both locks were secure before following her into the room. Buffy collapsed onto the couch. She looked tired and she smelled of smoke.

"Mom still up?" she asked.

"Yes. Er, from your expression I gather you didn't find him."

"Got it in one." She rubbed her eyes tiredly, smearing soot across her forehead. "Found one of his old lairs, but none of the current tenants had his forwarding address."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure." Buffy met his eyes.

"Anyway, Willow has an idea. She's going to hack into the utility company's records, find out what supposedly abandoned buildings are still using electricity."

"That sounds like a good idea."

"She'll let me know in the morning," she yawned. "Right now, I've got to catch some Z's."

"Good night then."

Buffy went into the room where her mom was sitting up in bed, reading.

"Hi mom." Joyce put down the book and smiled up at her daughter.

"Buffy," she frowned, "you look exhausted."

"Yeah well, I'll be O.K. Good night's sleep and all that." Buffy shucked off her jeans and slid under the covers. Joyce turned on her side to face her daughter.

"Honey, are you..are you being careful?" She asked, reaching out to rub at a smear of soot? on her cheek.

"Always Mom," Buffy reassured her.

"Buffy, I know what I said to you yesterday, but I've been thinking....maybe it would be better if I just... went away. Left Sunnydale, started somewhere else. There must be a limit as to how far he can follow me. Eventually he'll get tired of looking, find something else to do with himself..."

"No, Mom... even if that was true, I'd still have to kill Spike. It's my job, I'm the Slayer. If I'd acted like the Slayer and staked him last year like I should've, none of this would ever have happened. You've got to let me finish it Mom."

"All right."



It was barely midnight, when Spike returned to the nest with provisions. He was back early. Prowling the streets of Sunnyhell didn't have the attraction it used to with the Slayer on the rampage. His eyes flared yellow when he smelled smoke and terror inside. He shoved the terrified night watchman through the door first and came through ready to fight.

A group of minions were crowded around the source of the scent. They scattered as he approached revealing a terrified young vampire who had clearly been in a fight.

"What the fuck?" Spike snarled. "Didn't I leave you over at the motel?"

"The Slayer, She....oh God!" he whined, there were streaks of soot on the vampire's face and sheer terror shone from his remaining eye. "She killed them all!"

"Fuck," Spike said, "let me save you the trouble: Buffy kicked your worthless arses, and burnt down the lair. How many left?"

"Just me."


"Here, you can have the rest of it," Spike snarled indicating the man still lying sprawled on the floor. As he headed upstairs to his quarters in the room he heard a fight start-up over his leavings. He shut the door on the noise, pulled out his cellular and dialed his phonemail.

He had no messages. His hand shook as he folded the phone and put it down on the table. It had been three days. Three days since he'd put the word out to every dark-hearted, greedy, spying bastard in Sunnydale and so far they'd come up with nothing. He was going crazy. Three days with the Slayer running mad through the Sunnydale. She'd burnt down the cookie factory the first night, forcing him into the sewers. She'd sent the old motel up in flames the following day. At the rate she was going there would soon be no vampires in Sunnydale. Fucking Watchers were supposed to prevent this sort of thing.

He wanted her. Craved her. The video didn't do it for him anymore, it wasn't enough. He wanted *tight* and *warm* on his dick, not the chill embrace of Mistress Palm and her daughters. He needed to fuck something till it bled. He stood up and went back downstairs.

The minions snapped to attention as Spike entered the room. Very gratifying. There were noticeably fewer than the night before. Buffy had been a busy, busy, Slayer. She'd cut through the undead population like a scythe through toadstools. The ones she hadn't killed had decided to get while the getting was good. Santa Barbara and LA were going to be much less safe places after least until the local Pest Control squads went to work. Dinner was a crumpled heap in the corner. Not much use for his purposes. He looked over the cowering group of minions. Not much choice here, male or female. Pretty much "B Ark" material. He definitely needed to start creating some new and better minions. Still, it was no time to be overly particular.

"You," he said pointing to the lucky winner. She was young and female wearing an outfit from the Halloween selection from Victoria's secret. "What's your name?"

"Carnia," she said a little defiantly. Spike opened his mouth, then closed it. Wasn't as if 'Spike' was the name he'd been christened with.

"Right. With me."

Carnia followed him nervously upstairs. He took her back to his lair and shut the door. Picked her up and stood her on the mattress and studied her. His hand brushed along her icy porcelain cheek. She looked vaguely familiar. Was she one of his get? Well, no matter.

He shoved her against the wall and ripped her leather bustier open. Her breasts popped out. They were nice breasts, perky and eternally immune from gravity, but we're talking apples, not grapefruit, he thought as he grabbed one and bit into it. She winced and tried to retreat into the wall but didn't try to fight him. He sucked at the wound; her blood ran down his throat, sweet and cold and thin, spiked slightly by her fear of him. There was no depth, no warmth to it - it was lemonade, not wine. Not enough. He shoved the short leather skirt up and forced his hand inside her. She was cool and starting to slicken now that she thought she knew what he wanted. He clenched his fist and was rewarded by her whimper, and reflexive attempt to get away. He made claws then, she arched in agony and he grinned as he felt his hand drenched in blood. Better, but still not enough.

He pulled his hand out, picked her up and threw her face down onto the bed. Her skirt rode up, revealing her tight little ass, decorated with a tiny black bat. There was a smear of blood on the inside of one thigh. Now he remembered her. Last year, on a cold evening back of the Bronze. He'd talked her into stepping out into the alley with him and when he stopped groping her and showed his true face she'd shoved a switchblade into his gut. It was so cute he'd turned her. He felt the blood rush to his cock as he held her over the footboard and opened his fly.

The girl howled as he thrust himself into her with no preliminaries. She was tight, good and tight, and even a little warmer than he was. But! She! Still! Wasn't! Joyce! He raged as he pounded into her, sank his teeth into her again and again, made her scream and beg till she was hoarse, but it still wasn't enough. It wasn't real. No matter how he tore at her, no matter what he did, short of the final death, she would eventually heal. There would be no scars, no evidence of his work, of his existence. In the name of love, he'd peeled the skin from Dru's back, burnt her with red-hot irons, inside and out, drained her till her veins collapsed, broken every bone in her body. There was no pain that wasn't pleasure in Dru's shattered mind. When she screamed out his name, he'd known he would live forever in her dark eyes.

He'd marked Joyce with his love, scarred her body and her soul. Even after she joined him in undeath, the evidence of his love would remain. He squeezed his eyes shut and visualized her, his bright angel, the heat and tempting fragility of her body, the sweetness of her terror, and came at last in an inadequate paroxysm. He pulled out and buttoned himself. Carnia lay silent, bleeding slowly into the mattress.

"Get out," he snarled. She ran.



He had a bowl of cheddar-cheese popcorn, 3 videos, and beer (one can, tucked down by his foot in case Giles unexpectedly came out of the bedroom). Xander was content. He'd brought fried chicken and other supplies to the motel at 7, arriving comfortably before sunset. Giles had gone to bed right after eating, Mrs. Summers had hung on a little longer, reading before excusing herself at 8, leaving Xander essentially alone until he woke Giles up again at 2 am.

"Give me some sugar, baby," Bad Ash said. Xander usually laughed at this part, but it wasn't seeming as funny as usual.


Xander dropped a handful of popcorn back into the bowl and turned down the sound. What was that?

"Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!" Oh man, that could not be what it sounded like. He considered turning the sound back up, way up, but he couldn't do it. Reluctantly he went to Joyce's door and listened.

"Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!" One voice, female. His ears burned. Just leave her alone, he thought, maybe she's o.k. He fingered the crucifix around his neck. *But if it is Spike.* Wishing to be anywhere but here he opened the door.

"Ahh! Ahh!" In the arc of light he'd let into the room, Joyce lay on her back moaning, eyes tight shut, her nightgown rucked up above her hips. Her her pelvis thrusting up in time with her cries against the fingers buried between her thighs. "Aahhhh God!" Xander cringed as her back arched and she shuddered and collapsed. Her eyes opened.

She jumped out of the bed and ran for the bathroom. Xander listened to the nauseating sounds of her being violently ill. *Just shut the door and go away* he told himself as he moved towards the bathroom.

The sour smell of vomit clogged the air. She was sitting on the edge of the tub, her shoulders shaking. Crying. She looked up as Xander entered the room.

"Go away," she begged. "I don't....Just leave me alone."

Xander shook his head. He looked around and found a wash cloth, wet it and bent down to dab at her smeared face. Her hand shot out and knocked his hand away.

"Don't touch me. Just get away!" She hissed.

"It's OK." Xander said, awkwardly. She looked at him, the anger drained from her eyes.

"It's not O.K. He was hurting her. Making her scream and enjoying it, and I could feel him, his pleasure. I felt what he felt, and I liked it. Oh God. Just leave me alone."

"No. Listen. I don't know what you're going through, nobody does, but what Spike did, whatever he's doing to you -- it's not you, it's Spike, and he's going down."

"So everyone tells me," she said cynically.

"You know Buffy will do it. She'll never stop."

"Yes, but even if she does... Xander, I think she's already too late."



"I've got what you wanted," Cynocephalus said. Tiny cracks radiated through the plastic casing as Spike's fingers tightened on the phone.

"Where?" he hissed.

"The Hilton at the airport. Room 3640, under the name Bailey."

"I'll have your payment delivered after sunset." Spike said.

"It's been an absolute pleasure doing business with you."

It seemed to take hours to drive there though his watch insisted it was barely 20 minutes. Once he was there in the parking lot bracing himself for the dash through 10 feet of sunlight to the staircase, he could sense her in the building. He pulled the blanket over his head, slammed open the car door and ran, butting the door open with his shoulder. He slammed against the far wall and stood there for a moment in the shadow of the stairwell for a moment to cool off. He left the blanket there. Then it was up the stairs, down the hall, 3610, 3620, 3630, 3640, He stood at the door, and listened. She was there. He could feel her, just the other side of flimsy wood and concrete. Her heart pushing her precious blood through her veins. Close. So close. He could sense only one other heartbeat there and it wasn't the Slayer. Only one? *This is too easy,* a niggling voice insisted. Then again, it was broad daylight he thought with a grin, they wouldn't be expecting him. He grabbed the doorknob.

Spike howled in pain and pulled his smoking fingers free from the white-hot doorknob. Activated by his touch the runic characters inscribed on the doorframe blazed into blinding light. He stared in shock at his right hand, which had been transformed into a scorched black claw and realized how lucky it was that he hadn't tried forcing it with his shoulder.

In the bedroom Joyce was jerked into consciousness by the scream, by the incredible pain in her hand. She opened her mouth to scream, her hand was....Fine. She looked at the unmarked, unharmed flesh in amazement.

Giles threw open the door and rushed out crossbow cocked. There was no-one in the hallway but the stench of burnt meat filled the air. He heard a door slam downstairs, screeching tires. Slowly he lowered his weapon. He shut the door and went back inside. Picked up the phone.

"Buffy, Giles here. We have to move her, now."



Close, he'd been so fucking close. Spike finished draining the hitchhiker he'd picked up on his way back from the motel and shoved the corpse into the back of the van. His hand tingled under the bandages as the flesh began to grow back. So close. But it hadn't been a total fucking disaster. Fortunately, there was more than one way to skin a cat. He pulled out his cellphone and dialed.

"Grady here."

"Give me some good news."

"We've got them. Tailed them to the Travelodge, in Susan. Room 301, under Craig."

"That's my boy."



God, American TV was awful. 65 channels, and nothing on wasn't just a cliche. Giles clicked it off for the 10th time and threw the remote onto the bed. Normally he didn't watch TV, but he was stuck here, waiting on Willow to come and relieve him for the afternoon and he didn't have anything to read. Joyce was in the inner room, sleeping, he hoped.

There was a knock at the door. Giles glanced at his watch. 2:00 p.m., too early for Willow. He went to the door cautiously, picking up the crossbow. After yesterday's close call he was taking no chances.

"Yes?" He peered through the peephole and saw a large man in grey coveralls holding a clipboard. Two other coveralled figures with a large box on a trolley were with him.

"Delivery," he said.

"I'm sorry, you must have the wrong room," Giles said through the door.

"Delivery," the man repeated.

"I said, you have the wrong room." Giles said, a little testily. The delivery man consulted his clipboard.

"Mr. Johnson?"

"No, I told you...."

There was a loud POP! Giles registered the loud sound at the same time as he was punched in the side by something that burned like a hot poker and knocked him to the floor. He realized he'd been shot through the door. He needed to get up, but all he could think of doing was curling himself around the pain. He couldn't breathe. Dimly he heard a crash as the door was kicked in. He managed to get his head out of the way of the door, but not of the boot that kicked him into unconsciousness.

Joyce was awake, lying on top of the bed not sleeping when she heard a POP! and then the crash of the door. She was on her feet and running into the bathroom before her conscious mind had made the connection. She locked the door behind her, looked around desperately. No way out. Even if the window hadn't been too small, they were on the 4th floor. She heard them come into her room.

"Where the fuck is she!" She heard the sliding glass door to the tiny balcony open.

"Must be in the bathroom." He knocked again.

"Hey lady, might as well come out, we know you're in there. We ain't going ta hurt you." He has to be kidding, she thought, did that ever work?

The door splintered and a large man rushed in. The bathroom seemed empty, but the shower curtains were closed. Grinning, he took the three steps across the tiny room and reached out to draw them aside. Joyce, who had been standing on the hamper behind the door visualized bleached blond hair as she brought down the toilet tank lid on his head and he went down like a ton of bricks. Joyce jumped down and ran out of the bathroom and past the startled Bruno, into the outer room. She saw Rupert lying there. And a third man, with a gun, aimed at her. She stopped. Suddenly she was grabbed her by the hair and jerked around to face the man she'd hit.

"Bitch," he said, and slapped her.



"They're here," the minion said and hastily got out of the way. Spike very nearly ran to the main cavern. His unbeating heart swelled in his chest when he saw Joyce, her hands tied in front of her, being helped out of a large wooden crate by thugs number 2 and 3. Then he saw the mark on her cheek. He hadn't done that.

The leader pushed Joyce forward but kept hold of her, reluctant to give up the merchandise until he saw the money. He was uneasy, something about this whole setup made him uneasy. Who the hell lived in a fucking cave? And didn't any of these fuckers ever get outside?

"Got her," he said.

"I can see that. Have much trouble?" Spike asked quietly.

"Naw. Piece of cake." One of his men grimaced when he heard that and Spike noticed that he had a scrape and flecks of dried blood in his hair that hadn't been there earlier. "Some English motherfucker got in our way; but we took care of him."

"Dead?" Spike asked hopefully. The man shrugged, indifferent.

"Shot. You didn't pay us to make sure." Spike sighed, disappointed, no fucking enterprise these days.

"Right, you'll want your payment then." He signaled a minion. Then reached out for Joyce. Bruno hesitated, but saw something in his eye that made him let her go.

He had her. Spike held her at arms length.

"Joyce," he said. She kept her eyes on her toes. "How are you baby?"

She had her head down and wouldn't look at him. No response. He lifted her chin, forcing her eyes level with his face. Her eyes had no more expression than a doll. Spike sighed. He picked her up and carried her to the Master's old throne and seated her there.

"Just wait here pet, got a little business to take care of."

He walked over, pulling an envelope out of his pocket and offered it to the leader in his still raw-looking hand. As the man reached for the money he suddenly pulled it back, seeming to reconsider.

"Just one question. Which one of you hit her?" he asked. The humans felt as though the temperature in the cave had dropped 10 degrees. The sudden sense of impending violence brought the minions loitering around the cave to full attention.

"We were just trying to keep her from getting away," the leader said uneasily.

"Bitch hit me with a fucking toilet lid!" The slightly battered one complained.

"You." Spike said. He offered the money again. As the big man's hand closed over the envelope, Spike's other hand lashed out and slashed open his throat. He staggered, blood gushing and Spike pulled him close, and drank in great gulps.

"Fuuuuck!" The two men swore, pulled out their guns and started shooting.

They'd emptied their clips into Spike before realizing that it was having no effect. They reloaded and turned around to find the minions, fully vamped out and waiting for permission. They stood back to back, trembling.

Spike dropped the drained corpse and turned to the surviving pair. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve. His eyes blazed yellow, then his human mask reasserted itself. He smiled.

"I believe you two owe the lady an apology," he said.

"Yeah, yeah. Ma'am, we're sorry!"

"Really sorry!"

They stared up at the woman seated in the stained throne pleadingly. She looked back at them, but said nothing.

"Doesn't look like that's good enough. Why don't you show her how sorry you are? Try crawling for starters."

END Part 8



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