Part 14: Night Out

Two weeks passed without a sign of the Master.

The Bronze remained empty; the remains of the factory were condemned by the city and bulldozed. The number of people who didn't make it home though if anything increased. Spike guessed that old bat face was trying to rebuild his numbers and Angel agreed. They captured a few fledglings and questioned them before dusting them, but none of them knew anything useful.

Spike kept himself busy; he went out every night killing, mostly on his own though the Slayer and Angelus -- oh sorry Angel-- tagged along sometimes. He enjoyed himself, slaughtering demons and vampires indiscriminately. Up until the little fracas at the Factory it had been years since he’d really let loose and had himself a proper massacre. Prague didn’t really count – he’d been too worried about getting Dru away to really enjoy the carnage. It almost, but not quite, kept his mind off not being able to feed properly. Pigs’ blood was nasty stuff and the occasional bag of hospital juice only helped a little. But a deal was a deal.

The Slayer was a dab hand at destruction. He reckoned she was easily the match of the black one he’d done in New York. She was bloody fast and brutally practical. He knew that if they ever got the chance to dance it would be quick and deadly. The years of slaying had made her into a weapon, cool and deadly, if a bit grim. Her prey never got so much as a smile out of her before she staked, stabbed or bludgeoned them back to hell.

Angelus had been a little rusty at first, still recovering from his imprisonment, but he got back into the swing of things fairly quickly. Spike had to admit that he was impressive. The soul hadn’t made him forget anything he knew about snapping necks or tearing things apart with his bare hands. Nothing sophisticated about his technique, if the Slayer was a sword, Angelus was an axe. Got the job done, was all you could say for it.

Giles was worried and Spike agreed he had a point. The watcher invited him to his apartment to discuss the matter. It was just the two of them; the Slayer was out on patrol. Merrick had moved to the Sunnydale Day’s Inn immediately after his Waterloo with Joyce. Angel was still staying with Cordelia, whose parents were still away. Joyce had an apartment of her own now.

“Not that I’m not enjoying the mayhem,” he said after tossing back a glass of Giles’ excellent whiskey. “But Heinrich’s a nasty bastard. If he’s laying low he’s planning a surprise. An unpleasant one.”

Giles nodded. “We need information.”

“Yeah, so I figure I’ll go hang out at Willy’s. Find out what the rumors are.”

“Won’t they know about you? You’ve been fairly active over the past few weeks.”

“Yeah, but dust tells no tales. Even if someone’s heard about me bein’ on the rampage they’ll just figure I’m taking advantage of the chaos to get revenge on the Master’s bastards.”

Giles nodded. “Fine.”

“I’ll need someone to go with me. Joyce would fit the ticket.”

“What?!” Giles snapped.

“Well, you can’t do it – every vamp in town knows you and your happy crew. So that leaves yours truly to do a reccy.”

“Yes, but why do you need Joyce to go with you?”

“’Cause it’d look suspicious if I sat alone in Willy’s for a couple of hours without getting drunk or in a fight.”

“Whereas you being with a human wouldn’t look suspicious at all.”

“Don’t come it. Plenty of humans date vamps, you know that.” Maybe it hadn’t been his best move to bring that up, since it didn’t usually end well for the humans involved. “C’mon Rupes, not gonna hurt her.” And that was the bloody truth.

“Fine, ask her then.” Giles said, waspishly.

Spike did just that the next day when the White Hats assembled at the library for their meeting he drew Joyce aside and explained the situation. After the party she’d been a bit tense with him but he’d been on his best behavior with her since. Not an entendre, not an improper word had passed his lips. He kept his desire buried deep down. On the surface he was friendly, polite, and helpful; treated her like his – well not his mother, no. And eventually she’d relaxed around him. Let herself smile at casual compliments, even joked with him. She talked to him like he was a person, not a useful tool. So he wasn’t surprised when she agreed.

The watcher had been so sure she’d say no, it was a delight to see his expression when she told him.

“You don’t have to feel an obligation,” Giles said earnestly. “I’m sure that Cordelia…”

“Cordelia will not be going to any bars with the retro-coiffed undead, thank you very much,” Cordelia declared sharply. Spike noticed Angel nodding in agreement with her. That was -- interesting.

“Giles, I think I can handle sitting in a bar for a few hours with Spike,” Joyce said calmly. “Besides, I could really use a night out,” she added with a sparkle of mischief in her eyes.

And that was that. The Slayer and her pals made a few more protests, but Joyce was unmoved. He wasn’t surprised when as they were leaving for patrol Buffy blocked him into a corner and held a stake to his chest. Her grip was loose, her stance sloppy, he could have had the stake out of her grip and buried in her gut in an instant, but he’d made a deal.

“You know what happens if anything goes wrong, right Spike?” Her eyes glared into his. Funny how mother and daughter had almost exactly the same color eyes, but what was warm as whiskey in her was cold ditch water in this one.

“Yeah, yeah. No need to get your knickers in a twist Slayer, Joyce’ll be safe as houses with me.”

“She'd better be,” she snarled, and let him go.

The next night he went to pick Joyce up at Cordelia’s place. He had a bloody hard time keeping up his front of polite indifference when he saw her coming down the stairs. He knew she’d borrowed the dress from the chit, but the clingy copper synthetic followed every curve of her body like it had been made for her. She’d done something to her hair as well, it looked darker and a little straighter and framed her face perfectly.

“You look smashing love,” he told her honestly.

She blushed and looked away. Cordelia gave him a distinctly unfriendly look as she handed Joyce her purse.

“Be careful,” she told Joyce while tossing another dirty look his way. “Use the cell if you need anything, kay?”

Joyce nodded.

Spike made a kissy face at Cordelia. “Change your mind? You’re welcome to come along if you like.”

Cordelia grimaced. “As if. Night Joyce.”

Joyce had a bad moment when she saw how clean Spike’s old Dodge was inside and out. She could hear her daughter ranting: “I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out as soon as I got into the car, all the bottles and trash were gone, and that funky smell. He had one of those tree-hangers and you could see out of all the windows. Obvious much?” Then she dismissed her worries. Since the party he'd been a perfect gentleman. He'd treated her with nothing but respect, and no dammit there was no slight feeling of disappointment at that.

Spike drove to the wrong side of the tracks, to a part of Sunnydale Joyce had never been to in the three-plus years she’d lived there. She’d thought downtown looked bad, but it was Disneyland Main Street compared to this. Half the buildings were burned-out hulks. The streets were completely deserted, cluttered with broken glass and other trash. Screaming for help around here would be like ringing a dinner bell. Spike parked under the nearest unbroken streetlight. Before she could unbuckle her seat belt he was out of the car and holding the door open for her.

“Thanks,” she said.

Spike opened the battered door under the flickering sign that said ‘Willie’s’ and waved Joyce inside the familiar barroom reek of old beer and cigarettes washed over her. There was nothing familiar about the clientele packed inside. There were demons, many demons, all different kinds, big and little. A few could have passed for human, with the right lighting and clothes, others very much not. Joyce was relieved to see a few humans scattered through the crowd. At least she thought they were human. There was an air of nervous celebration in the air that reminded her of the hurricane party she’d attended in the Florida Keys, once upon a time when she’d been younger and a lot dumber.

With Joyce’s hand tucked safely in the crook of his arm Spike headed for the booths at the back, cutting through the crowd like a hot knife through butter. He raised an eyebrow at the pair of shaggy creatures sitting in his chosen booth and they cleared out in a hurry. Joyce slid in and Spike followed, sliding next to her, throwing his arm along the backrest. She looked at him and he winked. Right, they were pretending to be on a date.

She tried to relax, not easy with his leg pressed against hers. She could feel the rough denim through the thin synthetic of her dress and her mind kept dwelling on the flesh inside the clothes. She'd never had these kind of thoughts about Spike before. Never-- well hardly ever. She was neither blind nor gay, but when she'd first met him she'd thought he was as young as he looked and later she found out he was a monster and he'd been in love with Buffy, and before that with Dru, so she was pretty sure he hadn't thought about her that way either. Just what the hell had she been thinking wearing this dress in the first place? She must look like Joan Collins on the prowl... And why was it that while sitting with a vampire in a bar surrounded by demons her biggest worry was that she might be mistaken for Mrs. Robinson. When the hell had she gotten so old?

“There seem to be a lot of, um, people here tonight,” she said.

“Yeah.” He scanned the crowd again with a critical eye. “It’s been a bit of a party the past few weeks. The Master wasn’t too popular with the other breeds.”

Joyce frowned. “But he got away. Right?”

He signaled a waitress. “He did, but only after getting his arse badly kicked on his own turf. Plus we wiped out a fair chunk of his minions and most of those that were left have left town in search of a new boss.” The waitress finally made it over to them, she had huge pointy ears and a face like a shaved cat but her body was attractively humanoid. She slitted her big green eyes in an unfriendly way at Joyce before focusing her attention and pointy-toothed smile on Spike.

“What would you like?” she asked bending over a little further than necessary. Joyce thought they were quite impressive, but Spike didn’t even spare them an ogle.

“What’ll you have love?” Spike asked.

“A glass of white wine please.”

Spike snorted. “Bottle of champagne,” he told the waitress. “– The real stuff mind, and two glasses.”

“Spike. I don’t know…”

“Don’t worry, I’ll drink my fair share.”

Joyce sighed. “Alright.” She jumped when his head dipped, cool lips ghosting along her cheek.

Spike winked. “Got to make it look good,” he murmured.

This was a bad, bad, idea, Joyce thought.

Spike smirked. “I'm guessing you never took a walk on Sunnydale’s wild side in that other world, did you? So, what did you do for fun?”

No! Talking about her old life led to thinking about things she wasn't willing to think about right now with Spike so she went for the surefire divert. “Movies. I like movies. Old, new, whatever. ‘Angel Face’ was on last night.”

Spike frowned. “Bloody Hell, sorry I missed it. That’s a great film that is. Dru always fancied Big Bob. She got him alone at a party one time but…”

It was just like old times, back at Revello, talking about Passions and movies. Spike had seen a lot of films over the past 90-odd years. She guessed vampires had a lot of free time on their hands.

The waitress came back with their bottle and two glasses. Spike did the honors.

“Cheers.” Spike’s very blue eyes glittered at her over the glass. There was no getting around the fact that he was a very pretty-- man. It was just as well they’d never met back in her college days; she’d have gone blithely off with the sexy foreigner and ended up as his dinner.

“Cheers,” she said raising the glass.


It was her turn. “Best femme fatale,” Joyce said.

“That’s easy. Barbara Stanwyck. The queen. All class whether she was shooting or seducing some poor muppet.”

Joyce sighed as she put down her glass. “Nope. Jane Greer. ’You dirty, stinking, rat!’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Spike shook his head sadly. “You disappoint me Joyce. And there I thought you had taste.”

“Hey, I’m not putting Barbara down, you can give her a lifetime achievement award if you like.”

“Har bloody har. Right then, my turn. Best couple.”

She had to think about that for a moment. They’d agreed to keep to pre-1960’s films which left Dennis Quaid/Ellen Barkin out. Hmmm. “Fredric March and Carol Lombard,” she said finally, and waited.

“Yeah. Yeah, good one Joyce.”

This was their second- or maybe third?- bottle. And Spike’s hand had at some point, taken hold of hers. She liked his hands, they were surprisingly large and the black nail polish took her back to her college days. His fingers stroked the back of her hand. Ooops. That was not good.

“Don’t.” She pulled her hand away.

“Why not? You afraid of what the others would think?”

She thought about it. Was she really worried about the opinion of a daughter that couldn't quite bring herself to admit that she was her mother and a band of half-familiar strangers? Yes. No. Not really. “No.”

“So then what’s the problem luv?”

“Hey Spike, long time no see,” a familiar voice broke in.

Spike frowned up at Herman, not bothering to hide his irritation at the interruption. The vampire’s ugly face was fixed in a gap-toothed smile. Whoever’d turned the overgrown bastard, they bloody well hadn’t done it for his looks, or his personality. Spike knew him from the Bronze. He’d been a hanger-on, not an official minion if he remembered correctly. He stroked Joyce’s arm reassuringly; she was worried which was a normal reaction to having something that big and ugly leaning over her.

“What’s this?” Herman leered, staring down Joyce’s neckline.

Spike instantly shifted to his true face. “Mine,” he said flatly.

Herman straightened up with a surprised look. “Really? I didn’t know you were into that. I mean, I thought you were with what’s her name um Deborah? Darla?”

“Drusilla,” Spike said in a dangerously calm voice.

“Yeah. What?” He glared at his buddy who’d been tugging urgently at his sleeve. He kept one nervous eye on Spike while he whispered urgently into Herman’s ear.

“Oh,” Herman said turning back to Spike. The leer was gone, replaced by a definitely anxious expression. “Sorry, I didn’t know. Hasn’t been a good year for you Aurelians, has it? What with your lady and what happened to the Master… You heard anything?”

Spike shook his head. “About old batface? Nah. You?”

Herman shook his head and looked sly. “So, are you thinkin’ about what you might do if he stays gone?”

Spike let his human face out as he leaned back into Joyce’s warmth. “No thoughts at all that way friend,” he lied. “Just enjoying the Hellmouth atmo.”

Herman nodded like he believed him. “Just wondered. Well. Guess I’ll leave you and your human alone then. C’mon Jake.”

“Cheers mate.” He watched the hulk and his sidekick walk away. Well, that was interesting. He wasn’t surprised that someone had worked out he might be thinking about taking over from old batface, but he was a trifle suspicious that Herman could work it out on his own.

“What was that about?” Joyce said sharply. She’d moved as far away from him as she could in the booth’s limited space. He looked at her, surprised at her tone.


“So, how are we doing?”


“Do we know anything more about where the Master might be? That was supposed to be the whole point of this, right?”

What the hell had gotten her knickers in a twist?

“Sorry he was rude to you pet.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”


“Have we learned anything? Or are we just wasting our time here.”

“Come to that, you haven’t answered my question either.”


“Why not?” He gripped her wrist, held on when she tried to take her hand away. “Give me one good reason why not.”

“Spike—“ she sighed. “You vampire, me human.”

“Yeah? So?”

“Spike, you eat people.”

“Not you luv. Unless you ask nicely.” He let the tip of his tongue show between his lips and felt her pulse jump and her skin flush under his fingers for a moment. Then her expression hardened and she yanked her hand free.

“I can’t do that. I can’t just close my eyes and pretend everything’s alright just because you aren’t killing people I know.”

Her sanctimonious tone irritated Spike. “Oi, I haven’t killed anyone in weeks! I made a deal, didn’t I?”

“And when the deal’s up? You’ll go back to killing, won’t you?” She stared into his eyes intently and he couldn’t help being drawn into her gaze. Got so caught in their soft hazel depths that he missed his cue to lie.

She sighed. “I think I’d better go home now.”

Well, that’s it then, he thought as he followed her outside. Not like she was really all that attractive, not like there weren’t more than enough birds, human and otherwise in this town who’d be glad to have him. What the hell did she expect? He’s a bloody vampire, ‘course he eats people. What’s he meant to do, shift permanently to pigs’ blood and filching from hospitals? Like bloody Angelus, the bastard. He can’t figure out how the poof does it, wished he could believe he cheated, snacked a little on the side, but he knows better. Silly bint. He’s got no soul, and doesn’t want one. He’s happy as he is. A vampire. A killer. The hell with it, soon as he's dropped her off home he’s going back to Willie’s for blood, alcohol, and maybe get his end away with that waitress. To hell with this bloody stupid suburban …

Her scream cut through the air like a lash snapping Spike out of his fuming. Sheer rage roared though him when he saw her struggling in the grip of two vamps. Mine! His demon roared as he rushed at them. He knocked one clear with a vicious kick to the kidneys and put him down for the moment. Then he pivoted to strike at the second one who was holding Joyce with her arm twisted behind her back – and only then realized it was Luke.

The huge Slav sidestepped his blow, releasing Joyce so he’d have both hands free for the fight and sending her staggering into Spike’s grasp. Their eyes met for an instant then he whispered “run” and shoved her clear just in time to parry Luke’s counterattack. She gave him one frightened look over her shoulder, and ran. Maybe she’d make it. Spike didn’t have time to worry about it as Luke came at him.

A quick exchange of light blows and they faced each other again. Luke smiled. Spike knew him of course: he was the Master’s First. He’d been the vessel who’d made the evil old bastard’s ascension possible. He was a right bastard. Luke was huge, ancient, and if he’d ever lost a fight Spike hadn’t heard about it. If he’d remembered to bring a weapon he might have stood a chance. As it was, he was buggered.

“Spike,” he rumbled. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Yeah?” Spike didn’t relax his stance.

“The Master requests the favor of your presence.”

“Does he?” Spike hoisted an eyebrow. “Well, sorry my schedule’s fully booked for now, but you can tell him I’ll get in touch.”

Luke stared at him with those dishwater blue eyes. “You misunderstand. It isn’t a request.”

“Like I said, can’t make it. Need to see my date home.”

“Date?” The ugly bastard looked confused. “Ah. The woman. Bring her if you like, the larder can always use restocking.”

“No thanks mate.” For half a moment Spike thought he was going to get away with it until six more vamps emerged from the shadows. They all looked to Luke, waiting for directions. Luke smiled.


Joyce ran, but when she reached the end of the block a vampire emerged from an alley blocking her way. She dodged him but as she stepped into the street another vampire appeared. Shit. Glad she’d gone with the flats against Cordelia’s advice she reversed and ran back towards Spike. He was standing and talking to the huge vampire who’d grabbed her. She was almost there when the two suddenly exploded into action.

She’d never really seen vampires fight before. They moved too quickly for her to make much sense of the fight – it was all hands and feet striking at each other in a complicated and deadly dance as they came together in strike and counterstrike. Spike was quicker but her heart sank as she realized that the blows he landed seemed to have almost no effect on ugly-vamp while the ones his opponent landed on him obviously hurt.

She looked behind her and saw the shadowy figures of more vampires blocking any hope of retreat. When she looked back, Spike was down. As he tried to lever himself up from the ground, ugly-vamp kicked him and blood sprayed into the air, backlit under the streetlight. Joyce fumbled in her purse desperately as ugly-vamp kicked him again, and again. Her hand closed on the gun and she pulled it out and ran yelling towards them. Ugly looked at her, his expression smug when he saw the gun. Aim for the eyes, Oz told her. He didn’t even flinch as the stream shot towards his face. Then it hit him and he howled. Joyce gaped as he clawed desperately at his face as smoke rose from his eyesockets.

She heard footsteps behind her and whirled around just in time to catch the vampire from Willie’s across the face and neck with another blast of holy water. While he screamed and pulled up his shirt to rub desperately at his dissolving skin Joyce turned back and saw that the first vampire she’d shot had staggered away leaving Spike lying there like a squashed spider in the middle of a slowly spreading red pool. The vampires who’d herded her here were keeping out of range. Waiting for orders. The head vamp was being helped by two of his flunkies. It wouldn’t take long for them to figure out that she was almost out of ammunition.

She ran to Spike and stood over him, holding the water gun ready in one hand while she grubbed desperately in her purse with the other. Finally her fingers closed around it. She tucked it into her cleavage while she shucked off her jacket, one arm at a time, and dropped it over Spike’s battered head and shoulders. She hoped it would be enough. She looked up and saw that the vampires were starting to close in. Ugly growled as he shook off the worried hands of his minions, she could see the gleam of one yellow eye as he looked straight at her. Shit.

“Kill her!” Ugly snarled.

“Stop!” She shouted as she pushed in the stem and raised it overhead. Warily they skidded to a halt, none of them wanting to be first to find out if she was bluffing. Seven, six…

“Cowards!” His minions shifted uncomfortably, but didn't attack.

…five, four…

“Fine! I shall do it!” He started for her, not running, a deliberate stride which would end with her death when he reached her.

…three, two…

She threw herself across Spike, burying her face in his jacket.


Even with her eyes shut tight the flash registered and as the light washed over her exposed skin she felt a soft prickle like the one you get after about an hour on the beach. The light grenade itself didn’t make any sound, but with the light came a hellish screeching and howling, then silence.

She opened her eyes. The world was cloudy and dark and at first she thought she’d been dazzled by the intense light. Then she realized that the darkness wasn’t in her eyes but was due to the blizzard of ash swirling in the night air, the black flakes slowly drifting down to the street.

Spike hadn’t moved, and her jacket and face were damp with his blood. But he was a vampire, and since she could still feel him solid under her hand, that meant he could still be saved.

She pulled out the tiny cellphone Cordelia had insisted on giving her and punched in Giles’ number. “Please,” she said when he answered. “I need you to come get us. Please. We’re near Willie’s…”

posted 09 February 2004


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