As Dawn neared her drug-induced sleep and Rick was speaking to his wife on the phone, Spike was blowing another lungful of acrid smoke out into the deep darkness that surrounded the iron works building. The sound of a moan had him turning in time to see Xander beginning to stir again.
When he’d opened his eyes, Spike could tell that this was really him.
“Ow! My head.”
“I know the feeling.”
“W-what happened now,” Xander huffed at him.
“Your animal came back. I wasn’t really in the mood for another knock down, so I punched her out. Sorry.”
“You did the right thing. I just wish I had a crate of painkiller.”
“On the good side,” Spike gestured to the open door, “Rain’s stopped. We can get back to the house and you can down a potion.”
Xander nodded his head in acknowledgement, before grabbing it with a hiss of pain. As he struggled to get to his feet, Spike saw him sway a bit.
“Maybe I overdid it? Trip to the hospital may be in order.”
“You’re a hard-headed git.”
“You should recognize the type,” Xander returned with a weak grin.
“I need to eat soon… let’s get this show on the road.”
“You want,” Xan asked, holding out his arms, still covered in some dried blood. “The cuts are barely scabbed over. I can open ‘em back up.”
Spike stood for a moment in shocked silence. “That isn’t… a wise idea. And, if Giles even thinks you said something like that, he’d stake me quick and sure.”
“Giles isn’t here. And, I’m offering.”
“Xan,” Spike said in a harsh, strangled whisper.
With a breath he could smell the blood and it was as tantalizing as it had always been. He had a flash of desire for it as he recalled how Xander had tasted off of a towel covered in his blood in the RV after it wrecked. He’d been trapped waiting for sundown while the gang had tried to escape before the Knights made their return visit… didn’t work out so well.
“Don’t,” he turned away, not being able to keep his ‘game face’ from slipping into place.
Xander jumped a bit, startled by the sudden fang-y-ness, but Spike was already marching quickly out into the fresh, night air and didn’t see it. “I just… I trust you,” Xan called after him as he followed.
“Then you’re not thinking.”
Willow’s laughter sounded a bit too loud and strained as she came down the stairs, followed by three women who looked confused and a bit embarrassed.
“It’s been such a wild party,” she said over her shoulder a little desperately. “It’s been so great meeting you all!”
“B-but, I don’t even remember coming here,” Susan Crann insisted. “And, I’m sorry, but I’m just not the type of woman to get wildly drunk at somebody’s place who I don’t even know. A-and, I’ve never ever been so drunk that I’ve taken my clothing off!”
“It happens. Even to the best of us,” Anna Smith said, seemingly shrugging off the weird occurrence. She was used to wild parties… though usually they were happening at the biker club that had opened only relatively recently. She and Randy tended to tie one on a bit too often for their own good.
“Well, I just hope that if I did anything too wild, I was well paid for it,” the prostitute, Madeline said.
Both statements were met with laughter from Maddy and Anna, but only a scowl from Susan. “This just isn’t at all like me,” she insisted.
“You really need to lighten up,” Anna shot at her.
With the women now at the bottom of the stairs,
“Don’t suppose I could get a lift from somebody,” Maddy asked as the ladies made it out into the night.
“If you don’t mind a motorcycle, I’ll take you home,” Anna immediately offered. “We’re within a block of each other anyway. Small world.”
“Fabulous,” Maddy smiled. “Really appreciate it. These clothes are still damp from the storm earlier. I can’t believe I actually walked! And you?! A motorcycle on a night like this… living dangerously, anyone? But anyway, thanks. Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Susan, behind them, only rolled her eyes and wondered just how she’d ended up drunk at a wild stranger’s party.
“They don’t seem any the worse for wear,” Rick said guardedly. “That’s a bit strange, don’t you think? I mean, the way they just bought that they were at some party and passed out… all of them stripping first?”
“Sunnydale is a strange place,”
“Noise complaint. Figured better me than some uniforms. Although, I didn’t expect covering for you people was going to turn into a full time job,” he was clearly unhappy.
“I don’t recall asking you to,”
Giles stood in his bathroom, taking in the bath full of steaming water.
She took her place at the head of the bathtub and began to rub his temples with fingers that had been dabbed in the oil. “Try to relax, Giles. I had to do this with
“You realize that this won’t be enough? Alican was correct. The damage… the things I did to myself, they’re much too serious for a simple chant and a bath.”
“I know,” she sighed. “But this is what I can do now. And, it’s better than doing nothing. Now close your eyes and focus on picturing the darkness leaving through your pores only to be absorbed and destroyed by the water.”
He did as bidden. After a few moments of silence,
Rupert took a deep breath and supplied the answer that
“The vessel of the darkness seeks rescue. Mother of All Mercies, Goddess of all Forgiveness, drive the Sister of Tears away from this vessel, so we do entreat,”
Her massaging fingers had moved from Giles’ temples to his forehead where they sought to soothe the troubled brow.
“Mother Goddess, She who Lights the World and redeems the Wicked, the Filthy and the self-Destructive, this vessel seeks the Inner Light. The vessel begs your patient help in draining the Darkness back into the heart of the Land and leave This Vessel with peace.”
As Tara continued to supply entreaties to the Goddess and Giles, his ritual responses,
Across town, Marsha Gannon was sitting at her desk, filling out paper work. She had hoped that maybe Rick would join her and they could have some coffee and talk a bit. Not that she was trying anything funny… he was married after all. But, he was pleasant company.
Unfortunately, he seemed to be gunning for Detective of the Month or something, and had taken off for another call shortly after they’d gotten a preliminary from the coroner. Nothing that would shock anyone; it was more than obvious that the old lady died of blood loss due to multiple stab wounds.
She reached into her desk, past her service nine-millimeter for the bottle of aspirin. She’d gotten doused by that stupid storm that had finally blown through and she felt herself coming down with a headache now.
Great. Now, I’ll come down sick and look like a complete wreck. That’ll really help out my comatose social life, she smiled to herself. With a few sips of Diet Coke, four aspirin were on their way to her head.
In her subconscious, however, the dark, wispy demon continued its ceaseless whispering about Carole Stein. It patiently hammered at Detective Gannon’s basic decency to convince her how much more easily things would be with Rick Stein if Carole weren’t a factor.
BTVS seasons 1-4.
Spanderverse: After 314
BTVS: Real Me
Spanderverse: Confusion of Three
The Risks of Glory
Hunting Our Needs
The Family We Choose
Feints and Counter-Feints
BTVS: The Body
Songs of Pain and Comfort
Battling with a God
Spanderverse: Points of View One
Spanderverse: Points of View Two
Spanderverse: Points of View Three
Spanderverse: Points of View Four
The Cost of Giles