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Chapter Four: Spike
Fan Fiction: Never Look Back
Chapter Four: Into Temptation
SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002, 4:42 AM (12:42 PM, GMT)
The world was livening up a bit, creeping toward the hour when all vampires with an ounce of sense should be indoors, or underground. Spike could feel the sun's approach like a tingle just under his skin as he crept through one of Sunnydale's many graveyards; he'd come out looking for some rough and tumble to soothe the agitation running hot in his blood, but as the minutes advanced his chances of finding any were dropping sharply. Any minions rising so late would probably go up like a match to touch paper even without his help, and he'd be lucky to get back to Revello Drive without being singed himself.
He gave a snort of disgust and wandered back toward the cemetery gates, glancing idly out at quiet houses full of people whose fates he wouldn't have cared about a year ago. Two years ago, and he'd have been actively plotting against them; three, and he'd have been feeding from them, running amok with his mad, lovely Dru.
It wasn't that he didn't still feel the urge to rend, tear, and drain those frail humans to the last drop; of course he did. He was still a demon, after all, and he didn't have a soul like the great Brooding Wonder did to drown out the darker impulses. What he did have was a chip-bought space of his own to think in without the Powers that Be or their opposite number yanking his chain about. If he'd chosen to stick with the Summers girls and follow their do-gooding cause, then it was his choice and no one else's. No matter what that nancy boy said.
Spike sighed and thrust a hand into the pocket of his duster, rummaging for his packet of fags. He had time to smoke one more before running back if he took the sewers for the last little bit, and he was determined to stay out of the house as long as he could. If he'd had any idea how peevish the elder vampire could get when his little family was scattered to the four winds, he'd have insisted the Slayers truss him up and toss him in a trunk with a couple of blood bags. Only the fact that Spike worried, too-- about the Nibblet, anyway, as she still hadn't quite sorted her gifts out yet-- kept him from ending their latest argument with fists and fangs. Instead, he'd gone out in a futile attempt to burn the anger off.
Sod Angel, anyway. What did he know? The great git had never even considered sticking with the White Hats when his soul came loose the last time; because of that, because he'd done a complete about-face, he seemed determined to believe that Spike had to have an evil motive for staying on the Slayer's team. Especially after all Spike had been through.
For Spike's part, as far as he was concerned, Angelus was a sadistic, moody bastard, and the only difference between that version of Angel and the souled one was that 2.0 had a pesky conscience. What difference, then, would a soul make to Spike? Nothing but a decade or two of useless, guilty tears.
He checked the horizon line again, decided he'd stayed out long enough, and dropped the fag end into the dirt. Enough introspection for one night; if he was lucky, Angel would already be asleep, and Spike could work out the rest of his irritation shifting what was left in the house into the living room. They could finish it up tonight, pack everything in and drive it down before Sunday sunup; as long as the crew in Vegas came up for air and got their arses back to L.A. in time to unpack, they should still be able to make the deadline and get the truck returned by Monday. Spike would personally rather have paid the fines and left Angel to finish on his own, but if it would give Buffy peace of mind to have the task done... then he'd get it done.
He eased his way through the cemetery gates and turned onto the sidewalk, ambling in the direction of Buffy's house. There were a couple of early morning joggers down the road, trusting in the faint glow on the eastern horizon to keep the bogeymen away, and one strange bloke in shapeless brown robes standing at the end of the block that set off his danger sense.
Spike stopped in his tracks, tilting his head a little to the side as he gave the man a once-over, head to toe. His first thought had been 'Monk!', an image still capable of punching his buttons more than a year after Dawn's near-demise, but a second look turned up a hideously scarred demonic face, and his supernaturally enhanced senses didn't pick up any scent or sounds of movement. Either Ugly had been frozen in that pose long since and Spike was just unlucky enough to have found him, or his visitor was the incorporeal timephasing wanker that had stolen Angel's kid and sent him to the past.
"Sahjhan," he announced, narrowing his eyes at the stranger.
"William the Bloody," the figure spoke, finally showing signs of life, and sketched him a mocking little bow. "I'm pleased to see that reports of your intelligence were not exaggerated."
Spike raised an eyebrow at Sahjhan and abruptly started walking again, paying no further attention the demon's presence save for the sidestep required to keep from running into him as he walked.
"Or do you prefer Spike?" Sahjhan continued, sounding dryly amused this time.
"What I'd prefer," Spike said to no one in particular, "is to get home before I catch fire and become a pile of dust." He kept walking as he spoke, duster trailing behind him like half-furled wings as he picked up the pace of his steps.
There were only two reasons he could think of for that particular demon to be there, talking to him. Either Sahjhan wanted to gloat about what he'd planned for Angel, expecting Spike to play along, or he wanted to use Spike against the older vampire, the way he'd tried to use Wes. Spike didn't have enough patience for the first option-- he was sure to lose his temper before he got any useful information-- and the second promised the usual payoff of pain or death. Neither option was very tempting.
"Ah," Sahjhan said, from behind him. "I understand. Sunrise, vampires, not a good mix. I think I'll just tag along and talk as we go." The demon's voice sounded just as close as it had when Spike had first passed him by; obviously, he hadn't taken the hint.
Spike stopped short and turned to face him. "Look, I don't know what you want, but whatever it is, I'm not interested. Piss off."
"Are you sure?" Sahjhan said, eyes widened incredulously. "That's strange, because I'd heard you wanted your chip out."
If Spike's blood hadn't already been cooled to air-temperature, that remark would have chilled it. Twinned threads of hope and fear sprang up, twisting through his thoughts, and he struggled to keep his reaction neutral. "That's been tried, mate, and failed," he told the demon, his lip curled into a sneer. "Unless you've got the original schematics, which went up with the Initiative ..."
Sahjhan just chuckled. "It might surprise you to know it's still there," he replied. "Oh, no, not populated, but the order to destroy the place... mysteriously... got lost." He took a step to the side, then another, forcing Spike to turn in order to keep facing the demon.
"I could probably just have it turned off," Sahjhan continued, conversationally, as his path became a circle around the vampire. "Or I could have the pain turned up, keep you from getting within six feet of a human ever again. Or, maybe," he paused dramatically, "I could see about reprogramming to stimulate the pleasure centres instead. A little spike of joy every time you hurt someone, or take a life; just imagine what that would be like."
Spike didn't need to imagine; that was more or less the effect the vampire demon had on the human mind. To have it augmented...
Sahjhan's amused expression shifted to a thoroughly self-satisfied smile, and he stopped circling, leaving Spike facing East again. Abruptly, Spike realised that he'd shifted into 'game face' without noticing; the world around him had taken on a slight reddish tinge, and his jeans were fitting tighter than they ought. The promise of being uncaged after two and a half years of forced restrictions had excited him, and aroused him, more than he would have expected. Call him unnatural, but he'd got used to his 'cage', and even come to think of it as one of the more serendipitous changes in his long existence; he had a goal now, and a future unspooling in front of him that appealed to all sides of his nature. The sudden sea-change of emotion very definitely disturbed him; it wasn't natural, however good it felt.
Dawn, he thought, letting her name echo in his mind. Buffy, Wes, Watcher, Red, Tinkerbelle, Demon Girl, Harris. He kept going, reciting the names of their little clan in his thoughts as a sort of calming mantra, and after a moment, it began to work. There were reasons why they wouldn't make tasty snacks, reasons that the instinctive response of his demon to the whatever-it-was had obliterated with bloodlust.
"All right," he growled, "you can take off whatever it is you're using to try and convince me, and just tell me what you're here for, right quick like. I want to get underground before sun-up." He let the 'game face' melt away, watching Sahjhan intently as he did so.
"You have a very strong mind for one of such a capricious species," Sahjhan said quietly, suddenly very, very serious.
"I was a Master once, you know," Spike replied, just as quietly. "And I had Dru. She was better at it than you are."
"Ah, Dru. Do you want her back?"
Wheels within wheels, bait upon bait. It looked like option one was in play, after all, patience or no. "Right, then. You're offering me everything I've dreamed of for the last three years, so I assume you have something you want of me in return. Out with it, then." He thrust his hands into the pockets of his duster, squaring his stance and dropping his chin just a little in the malignant, determined posture his minions had always known better than to cross.
Sahjhan nodded slowly. "What I want from you is very simple; when the chip fails-- and you'll know when it does-- I want you to save Angel for last. That's it. I don't care what you do to the others, in what order, or even if you save any of them for toys or minions. Just do what you do best-- destroy things. Disrupt their lives. Create chaos. In short..." He grinned cheerfully. "Enjoy your freedom."
Enjoy his freedom? Would he really be free, or would he fall into yet another cage imposed on him by outside forces? Spike narrowed his eyes a little more. "It'll be permanently off?" he clarified.
"Yes," the demon assured him. "And don't worry about your Dru. I'll let her know you're a bad dog again." He chuckled. "Really, for a vampire, she's a most remarkable conversationalist."
"Done, then," Spike growled. "Now get out of my sight."
Sahjhan just smiled, then gave a nod of respect before taking a step backward into nothing. Returning to his own dimension, probably, or another one close by where he could watch what was going on... and where he could have seen Spike and Angel argue, and decide it was a good time to stick his nose in. At least the tosser didn't seem to have an ear in-- if he'd actually heard the argument, he'd have never tried that tack.
So how long would Sahjhan stay around if Spike was now his favoured project, he wondered. How much would Spike have to act along to keep him from interfering again? Whatever happened, he didn't like the idea of someone holding the controls for his chip.
Never mind. He shook his head, irritably, and strode swiftly toward the nearest sewer entrance. The first order of business was to get his own arse out of danger; next, watched or not, he had to let someone know what had happened. Someone who wouldn't stake him, ram a fireball down his throat, bar their doors, or otherwise announce to all and sundry that the chip was being turned off. Who also might have an idea or two on how to salvage the situation, keep him from following Sahjhan's intentions will-he, nil-he.
Who might have some idea how bloody tempting it all was-- and how determined he was to keep his arse firmly on the fence anyway.
And, of course, was also incommunicado, on another continent.
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