By: Highlander II
Rating: PG-15 (language)
Category: Angst, Drama
Archive: Man or Demon and Clan MacSlow; all others: not w/o my permission
Spoilers: Set sometime between the season 5 episodes: "Intervention" and "The Weight of the World"
Summary: Spike and Buffy are caught in a snowstorm.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss Whedon and are property of Kuzui/Kuzui Entertainment, Mutant Enemy Productions, WB, UPN, FOX etc. etc.
Feedback: Highlander II
"Spike, it's so cold," she chattered, shivering and drawing closer to me; tucking her hands between her chest and mine; curling her legs under her body.
"I know, Buffy. I’m sorry," I respond, wrapping my arms and duster around her shoulders. I'm dreadfully hungry, but the only thing to eat is the Slayer, here, and that would put her, and probably me, in danger. Basically, she's forbidden fruit.
She shivers again, violently, and I do my best to keep her warm, but it's hard. Very hard. Stuck up here in the mountains, snow falling all around, coating the world in a blanket of white. Nice blanket. Thought blankets were supposed to be warm. So why is a blanket of snow so damned cold? I hate winter. There aren't even any animals around here. At least if there was a squirrel or a rabbit or something, we could both eat.
"Wo-onder if Gi-iles is loo-oking for m-me."
I listen as her teeth chatter as she talks. It's killing me, not because she's cold, but because I can't do anything about it. "I don't know, pet. I'm sure he is." I don't usually lie, but I just can't bear to tell her that I think we're stuck out here.
She takes a deep breath, and says, "Spike, did you see any form of shelter around?"
No shivering? Slayer strength must be better than I thought. "Sorry, love, I haven't seen anything but trees and snow since we got chased up here."
She looks up to the sky, watching the snow fall, then scans the immediate area. "Too dark to see anything. Can you see, I mean, if you… you know?"
"Well, I suppose, maybe." Why can't she just say 'vamp out' like everyone else? I let the demon out and look around, but this bloody snow is making that really hard. "Will you be all right if I walk around a bit?" I ask, knowing she'll tell me ‘yes’ no matter what. She nods at me, curling her arms around her knees to wait.
This is the worst day ever.
Sunnydale - Earlier that day:
Don't ask me why, but it's noon and I'm awake. I'm a vampire, supposed to sleep through the day so I can be all fangy and mean during the night, even though I can't actually bite anything. So, being awake in the middle of the day isn't all bad, especially since I now have this lovely underground living space. It gets warm above ground, even in the winter. Sun comes through the windows, heats the air up a bit more than I like.
So, I have a drink and settle into my favorite, okay, my only, chair to see what's on TV. Luckily, Nibblet gave me a VCR and some tapes and videos, because there isn't a damned thing on right now. So, drag out a tape and slide it into the little machine. Don't really know why Nibblet gave me this, but remember that when she did, she told me to make sure I never told her sister where I got it. Would I do that? Well, sure, but only if I thought it'd not earn me a stake in the chest.
Now I am starting to get annoyed. That infernal machine just ate my tape, so now, not only is the tape completely ruined, but the machine is useless too. Especially since it's in about a million pieces on the other side of the room.
This bleeding snow is getting into my eyes. I'll be lucky if I can find my way back to the Slayer. Standing stock still, I listen carefully, blocking out the sound of the wind, trying to hear where she is. Her breathing, her chattering teeth, anything. I close my eyes and focus. I can hear her heart beating; it's slow and steady, but faint. Softly across the snow, I walk several steps and listen again. It's getting stronger, I must be moving in the right direction, so I walk more.
"Spike?" I hear her voice call out. "Is that you?"
"Yes, love. It's me." And it's so sodding cold, I think my feet are frozen.
Does she have snow in her ears? Well, as long as she keeps bellowing, I can find her. "I'm on my way, Buffy."
Oh no, please don't tell me she's gonna start suffering hypothermia or something. I don't have any body heat, so I can't help if she gets too cold. Though that cave I think I found might help a little. "Hold on!" I call one more time, hoping she'll answer me.
Thank God. If anything happened to her, the Scoobies and Giles and everyone else would be lined up to stake me. Though this little adventure into the woods and up the mountain was not my idea.
Sunnydale - Earlier that day:
"Slayer, what can I do for you today?" I ask as she stomps across the crypt floor to punch me in the head, but she doesn't. How odd.
"Spike, where is It?" she demands, hands on hips, face in a scowl.
Excuse me? "Where is what?"
Her scowl deepens. "I don't have time for this." She draws a stake from a pocket and poises it threateningly.
"You know, Slayer, this conversation would go much faster if you just told me what it is that I'm supposed to have or know the location of." Did I just say all of that? She's nice to me and I can't think of a thing to say; she pisses me off and I spout off a tirade a minute.
She sighs and lowers the stake. "Nothing. You probably don't even have any idea. Never mind. Forget I was even here."
"Buffy," I call to her as she reaches the door and she turns over her shoulder, "is everything all right?"
If you say so, pet. What am I supposed to do? Follow her around like a puppy? Aw, dammit, now I've just gotta know what's wrong, so, what do I do? Follow her.
"Spike," she says with a sigh, "why are you following me?"
"Morbid curiosity, I suppose."
"That and you asked me if I had something then didn't even tell me what that something was supposed to be, so how was I to know if I had it or not?"
"Huh?" She stops and turns to face me, thoroughly confused.
"You asked me 'where is it?' What is this 'it' I'm supposed to have?"
"Oh. That, well, I was looking for this demon, and thought you might know where to find it."
"Okay. What kind of demon? I'm all for demon hunting." Hey, anything to get out of that crypt for a few minutes and to beat something up.
I am not amused. "What are you on about, Slayer?"
"I'm looking for It. Have you seen It?"
"Are you going to give me any more information than that, or am I going to have to beat it out of you?"
She's laughing. What the hell is she laughing at? There is nothing that could be that funny.
"It is the name of the demon, you mook. I figured someone so well-versed in the demon world would know that."
Sigh. It would be my turn to laugh if this wasn't so pathetic. "You fell for that? Oldest trick, love."
I don't think she believes me.
"Oldest trick in the book. There is no 'It' demon. Never was. People, well, other demons, make it up to get those demon-hunter types all riled up. Let me guess, it's supposed to be about eight feet tall, with big claws, and sharp fangs, and it's really hairy? That, or it's about two and half feet tall, looks like a cat, but has the temper of a pissed off vampire?"
Never seen her face that shade of red before, this would be terribly funny if I was sure she wouldn't stake me for laughing at her.
"The second one. How did you…? Did you send me on this wild goose chase? Because, if you did, I will sta…."
"Look, love, I didn't send you on any chase. Wish I knew who had though, it's a good gag. Never known anyone to try it on a Slayer before though."
Oof! Ow. Bitch punched me in the gut. What? I wasn't doing anything.
"Not funny, Spike."
"I wasn't laughing, pet." Really. Didn't even so much as smile. What? Now she's sulking? "Come on, pet. What's going on?"
"I don't suppose today is April Fool's Day."
"Um, no, love. Not since it's December." And cold as anything. Since when does Sunny-D get so cold?
"I’m going home." She turns to leave, not even giving me a glance. Funny that. She asks for my help, punches me, and leaves me on the ground.
"What, Spike?" she sighs and stops, turning on her heel.
I push m'self from the ground and jog over to her. "I'm sorry about the gag. Really, it wasn't me. And if I knew who it was, I'd take care of 'em."
A smirk? All I get is a smirk? Bitch.
"Spike. If there's no such thing as an It demon, then what is that?" she asks, pointing across the cemetery.
This I've got to see, though that 'look behind you gag' is pretty lame. Oh shit! You've got to be kidding me! I turn back to the Slayer and yell the only thing that makes any sense in a situation like this: "RUN!"
"Ho-ow, much far-ther, Spi-ike?" She's shivering again.
I support her as best I can while walking and trying to verify that my extremities still exist. "Not much farther, love. It's just up there." I nod with my head. And even with enhanced vampire-vision, it is next to impossible to see anything, but the cave is just a few more steps ahead of us.
"Hungry, Spike." I can't tell if it's a statement or a question. I'd guess a statement.
"Yeah, me too, pet. But there's nothing to eat. Unless you like snow." My humor is completely lost on her, on me too, because it really wasn't very funny.
I guide her through the mouth of the cave and as far into it as I dare to go, and help her sit on the floor of the dark expanse. The wind doesn't hit as hard in here, but it's still cold. I sit beside her and she slides closer to me, tucking her arms under my duster and around my chest. Even I can feel the coldness of her fingers.
Man, could I ever use a cigarette.
If I can find some wood that isn't frozen and soaked - yeah right - I might be able to start a fire to keep us a little warm in here.
I pat around my duster, searching for that handy Zippo. Ah! Found it, my trusty friend. That might sound incredibly ridiculous, but you sit in the sodding snow for several hours and see if locating a Zippo doesn't make you the happiest you've ever been.
"Buffy, I'm going to look for some wood. Will you be okay?" I whisper close to her ear.
She nods her head, then asks, "Can I have your coat?"
I push the lighter into the pocket of my jeans, and slide out of the duster. "Sure, love." I drape the long leather garment over her shoulders and tuck it around her shivering body.
"And stop calling me that."
Oh, that would have sounded so much more forceful if her teeth hadn't chattered in the middle of it. But, I'm not laughing. This really isn't funny. Cold, yes, funny, no.
I shrug and take a look around the cave. Nothing in here but the dark walls and snow. Guess I have to go back out into the blizzard. And I'd like to know how we got a blizzard this close to Sunnydale, or did we really run that far? Hold it! We only started running today, how did we get to the mountains? I know there are not mountains this close to Sunnydale. Damned demons. OW! Tree. Sodding snow. I can't see a bloody thing.
Wait. I hit a tree? That means wood. Reaching up to find branches, I stab my hand on something, probably a piece of a branch, but the other branches are low enough for me to break some off and carry them back. Wish I could take the whole tree, but the Slayer and I together couldn't take down this tree, so it'll have to stay.
I think this is enough wood to last a little while. Still don't know what we're going to eat. And I'm getting pretty hungry, and a little colder, if that's possible.
Sunnydale (I think) - Earlier that day:
Running is fine if you're the one doing the chasing, but when you are the chasee it's a whole other story. Oh, and did I mention that I've so graciously placed m'self between the demon and the Slayer? Yeah. She's in front of me, not by too many strides, but she is.
Something isn't right. I stop and look over my shoulder. The demon's gone, and now I'm surrounded by trees. Odd.
"BUFFY!" I call, hoping she's listening. She glances back at me and almost runs into a low hanging branch. It's really hard this trying-not-to-laugh-at-her thing.
"What, Spike?" she huffs, hands on hips, glare on her face.
I point behind me, and wave around at the trees. "Look around. No demon and now lots of trees."
She graduated high school? Nice to see they've kept up the standards. "There weren't this many trees before, love. We were in Sunnydale. Now, either we've run a lot farther than we thought, or something else…."
"Spike, shut up. We're still in Sunnydale and that demon's probably not that far behind us. Now, come on."
I hate her.
I drop the bundle of sticks to the ground a few feet from where I left Buffy. I'm no Boy Scout, but I do know that wet wood is hard to set ablaze. Wonder if there is any paper in my duster. Sod it. I'll just light this mostly dry stick on fire and see how that goes.
"Spike, what are you doing?" Slayer asks weakly from her seat on the ground.
"Trying to start a fire, lov… pet." That's a subconscious thing, calling her that. Don't know, really, why I do it.
"Hurry," she pleads, interrupting my inner-musings.
"Sure thing." Zippo, greatest lighter in the world. Now, if it'll only make this stick burn!
Success! Fire on a stick. And if I were twelve inches tall, this would be a torch. For now, it's the beginnings of a source of heat. Add a little oxygen by holding it up and letting the air hit it and we should be in business. Bloody hell! Wind blew the flame out, now I have to start all over again.
Grumble grumble, repeat above steps of fire lighting. Grr argh.
Okay, got the fire going. It's small, but it's a fire. Much bigger than it is and the cave will fill with smoke anyway, so, guess it's fine. Now, if I could only find some food.
"Still cold, Spike," she comments, sliding closer to me again.
"I know, pet. I know." The fire is helping some. Knocks some of the chill from the air. Too bad it won't do anything for hunger.
I'd still like to know how we got here. I mean, the mountains are pretty far from Sunny-D, and we really didn't run very far. And where exactly did that demon go? An eight-foot demon with big claws doesn't just disappear.
And I could still really use a cigarette.
"Don't smoke in here, Spike."
Did I say that out loud? I thought it was only in my head.
"I won't, love. Can't anyway. Smoked the last one earlier today."
"I told you to stop calling me that."
"Why do you call me that, anyway?" she asks, sitting up and looking into my eyes. I think she's looking at my eyes.
"Habit? That's it? It's just a habit?"
"Yeah, like calling your sister 'Nibblet.' It's a habit."
"There's gotta be more than that."
"Why? It's the same as you Yanks calling each other 'man' or 'dude' or whatever you use now. 'Pet' and 'love' are the same thing, just for the ladies." Not the entire truth, but she doesn't need to know that.
"You sure that's the only reason? You don't call Willow that."
"Everyone gets a unique nickname. Why are we talking about this anyway? I thought you were cold?" And it's irritating me.
"Trying to keep my mind off the fact that my ass is frozen to the ground."
Changing the subject so I don't have to come up with any more lame reasons why I call her 'love,' I come up with the following: "How do you suppose we got way out here anyway?"
"Um, we ran, Spike."
"Several hundred miles into the mountains? I don't think so, Slayer." Got a smirk for that one. What's it take? I didn't use that word you don't want me to use.
"I don't know, Spike. I'm tired."
"Sleep. I'll stay up. Had a nice nap earlier today."
She's a little resistant to the idea, but soon lays her head against my chest and closes her eyes.
God only knows where - Earlier that day:
Still running, because the Slayer's convinced that we haven't left Sunnydale. And, technically, she's probably right, we didn't leave; we were removed from that little trail we were forging through the wooded areas of Sunnydale. Oh, and contrary to her particular view on the situation, that demon isn't followin' us anymore. Hasn't been for a while now.
"Spike, what is going on?" she calls over her shoulder from several feet in front of me.
With a sigh, I close the distance and reply, "I don't know."
She scowls. "This isn't funny. Where is that demon?"
"I don't know. I tried to… oh, forget it. Buffy, can we just go back to Sunnydale?"
"We're still in Sunnydale."
"Buffy, there are no mountains in Sunnydale. And look," I hold out my hand to catch the small white flakes falling from the sky, "snow. When's the last time it snowed in Sunnydale?"
Okay, she's giving me this weird look that I don't quite get. What is that?
"It did snow in Sunnydale. Once. Don't ask; it's too complicated to explain, but that would be the last time. However, I get your point. So, if we're not in Sunnydale, then where are we?"
"Got me on that one too, love."
"So, if you don't know where we are, then how are we going to go back?"
"Turn around and walk back that way," I respond, pointing in the direction from whence we came. Sometimes she is so dense.
"Spike, if we've been running in circles, that won't do much good, now will it?"
Oh, so NOW she decides to use her brain? Thought she'd left it behind in my crypt. "Probably not."
"Well, we'll have to wait until daytime so we can figure out where we are," she says, staring up into the snow-filled sky.
I cough. "Um, little problem there, love."
She looks at me like I've grown a second head.
"Vampire, remember. Sunlight has a really negative effect on my complexion."
She shrugs. "Guess that's your problem, then, isn't it."
I hate her more.
Slayer's asleep, and the fire's still going. It's warmer. And, at least in here, the sun won't bother me when it comes up in the morning. Honestly, I'm a bit tired myself, so, I think I'll sleep now too.
Several hours later, I wake to this sound:
"Spike! Get off me!"
Slayer's pushing on my body, my extremely cold body. If she pushes much harder, might break me in two.
"All right, all right, stop your shoving. I was warm and cozy."
She makes a face of disgust and skitters to sit against the wall of the cave.
I sit up and stare at the pile of ash that was our fire. Something is very odd here. I glance toward the mouth of the cave and mentally tick off how long I figure we've been out here.
"What is it, Spike?"
"Look," I reply, pointing toward the opening.
I watch as she looks, and her eyes widen, then narrow in confusion as she turns back to face me. "Spike, what the hell is going on? Have we been out here that long?"
"I don't think so. Internal vampire sunlight detector didn't go off, and I think we slept longer than a couple hours. So, we should be well into daylight hours by now."
"So we're in the land of permanent darkness? And snow?" she adds with a heavy sigh.
"Looks that way, pet. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm getting real hungry. And if I don't eat soon, you may start to look real tasty."
She shoots me a harsh glare and a snarl. "Don't even think about it, Spike." Then she's up and heading toward the outside of the cave.
"Where are you going?"
"You said you were hungry? Me too. So, I thought I'd go look for food. You stay here and try to get that fire going again."
And she's gone; disappeared into the snow that is still falling just as hard as it was last night, still wearing my duster. Somehow, though, the snow didn't fill up the mouth of the cave. So, what weird-ass demon dimension are we in anyway?
Shiver. Okay, back to the fire. Glad I got all this wood. Didn't think I'd brought that much back with me, but looks like I did. Good thing. Go, Zippo, go.
Fire is flickering again. And it's warm. I like warm.
I'm still wondering what the Slayer thinks she's gonna find out there in the snow and the dark. I didn't so much as hear a squeak from a squirrel that woke at the wrong time of year. Does she think she's gonna find something? I'm only hoping that if she does, she doesn't kill it before she gets back here. I have to eat too, you know.
Where is she anyway? Shouldn't she be back already? Seems she's been gone for some time. Guess I'll have to go look for her. Damn cold.
God only knows where - Earlier that day (well, maybe yesterday now):
We've been walking forever, and why the Slayer doesn't want to stop, I'll never figure out. If we could just get back to Sunnydale, all would be well again. However, Slayer's got some bug up her ass about staying alert and keeping moving or some such nonsense. Well, I'll have her know it's getting mighty cold out here and we're gonna need someplace without so much wind to sleep for the night.
"What?" she snaps, whipping around to face me, snow-coated hair slapping her in the face.
"We need to stop walking."
"Why?" She wipes her hair from her face.
"Because we're not getting anywhere."
"We are. We are getting somewhere," she states defiantly, then softer, "I'm just not sure where yet."
"That's what I thought, Slayer. You don't have a clue. You're just as lost as I am, and you have no idea where we're going. Look, my legs are tired, and we're accomplishing nothing by walking aimlessly." And if I had to breathe, I'd be out of breath right about now.
With a sigh and a flip of her hair, she asks, "What did you have in mind?"
She's tired too, I can tell. Slayer strength or no, even she can't last forever, and adrenaline can only do so much.
"Look, Buffy, why don't we just sit over here by this tree for a while and rest?"
A nod from her as she crosses her arms over her chest, hugging herself to hold in warmth.
"Come on." I motion her toward me, but get this disgusted look in response. Why must she do that? I know I'm not perfect, hell, neither is she, but that's not the point; point is, it's just us out here. Her and me. No one else. No one is looking for us, as far as we know, and no one knows where we are. We have to stick together and work together, or we'll both end up dead - for real. "Buffy, I was just offering to share my coat, since you've conveniently forgotten to bring one. Odd though, considering how cold it was back in Sunnydale."
"Shut up, Spike," she snaps and grabs the edge of my coat.
"Easy, pet, leather's tough, but not indestructible."
She snarls at me again and tugs me to sit on the ground beside her.
I draw my legs up, resting an arm on my knees, wiggling my toes to make sure they're not frozen. She settles next to me, trying not to sit close enough for our bodies to touch, and having a rough go of it.
"Slayer, what is with you? You're survival skills on the blink?"
"Can we not talk? It's a waste of energy."
Ooh, smart girl. Waste of energy for you, I don't have that problem; don't have any energy to waste. Magic is a lovely thing. Too bad I didn't keep up my study and practice, I could probably get us back to Sunnydale, but Angelus was the magically inclined one. That's not to say I didn't pick up any tricks, I still know a thing or two; I just can't hit the super-powerful stuff.
All right then, since magic is not gonna get us out of here, suppose we should find another route. Unfortunately, I can't seem to come up with anything useful. And now the snow is falling harder… Okay, why is that even a phrase? Snow is soft, cold, but soft. So, if snow is soft, how can it fall harder? Who came up with that?
"Spike it's so cold."
"Spike! What are you doing? I thought you were going to work on the fire?" she snaps angrily.
"I did work on the fire. But I thought you might have gotten lost or something. And I'm hungry."
She gives me a smirk and brushes past me into the cave, then drops whatever she was carrying and collapses.
"Buffy?" The word escapes my mouth subconsciously as I cross to where she has fallen. She's very cold and her skin, very pale. This can't be good. "Buffy? Come on. Talk to me."
This is bad. Pale, cold, catatonic Buffy is not a good thing. I pull her arms from the sleeves of my duster and cover her with it; it's all I have with me, aside from m'self, and I'm not particularly warm. She's still breathing, so that's a plus in her column, however, if she stops, that's it. It's over, there's nothing I can do for her then.
I sit back and think a moment. She needs to be warm. I stoke the fire, hoping that will help, but afraid it might not be as much good as I'd like. What else does she need? I'm no Boy Scout, in any sense of the word, not really my style, so I'm lost beyond warmth and food. Since she's not awake, she can't eat, so that's kinda covered.
Food. Starving. What did she bring back with her? Looking around the cave I spot the lifeless form of an animal by the fire. That is the smallest rabbit I've ever seen. Better than nothing I suppose. I drink from the rabbit, but only a small taste, don't know how long this tiny morsel is going to have to last me.
Aack! That snow is cold! Damn wind blew the stuff in here and across my neck. Snow. Water! See, I told you I'm no Boy Scout. Do I have anything to put the snow in to melt it? Hmm, just this mostly empty flask. Yeah, like I would ever be able to put snow into this thing. Well, only other idea would be to feed her snow, but if she's not awake, that might prove difficult.
"So co-old," she chatters, folding her arms over her chest, clutching and shivering.
Is she awake or just muttering in her sleep? I kneel beside her, brushing her wet hair away from her face.
"Giles?" she asks in a whisper.
"No, love, it's just me. Spike," I respond.
"Spike? No no. What would he be doing here? Where are we, Giles?"
"We're lost in the woods, love."
"Is the window open? Why is it so cold?"
Great, she's delusional. She thinks I'm Giles, and that she's at home with the windows open.
"No, Buffy, it's snowing, we're in a cave, and I'm not Giles!"
"Can I have some hot cocoa?"
This is going to be a long… well, whatever this is, day, night, period of time. Whatever. I take a deep breath, or, more correctly, I imitate taking a deep breath, and close my eyes for a moment before lifting the Slayer's frail form and pulling her up to lean against my chest.
"I'm sorry, love, we don't have any cocoa, hot or cold." I brush her hair away from her face again, and lean my cheek against her head. She's so cold and this leather duster isn't much for warmth.
I'd like to know where we are. I get the feeling that we've been shifted to some other dimension, but I couldn't even begin to say where, or why. I mean, I've heard of dimensions where you have to complete some selfless task, or solve some problem and you're returned to your own dimension, but never anything like this. No one's ever come back and said they had to spend two days (I think that's about how long we've been out here) in the woods, in the snow, in the dark. Even so, who's supposed to be selfless here? Me or her? Am I supposed to offer to turn her? Or is she supposed to offer up her life to save me? I like that idea. Somehow, though, I'm gonna guess it's neither of those. She would never agree to being turned, though I guess that could be her test, and she doesn't like me enough to give her life for mine. Or, I could be totally off and this is one of those dimensions where we just sit and die in the cold. That sounds just lovely. Stupid demons.
She moans and shifts her head against my chest. "I don't like it here anymore. I want to go home."
Hugging her as close as I can, I say, "Sorry, love. We can't go home yet."
"Can't breathe," she chokes out, clutching at my duster. "Help me."
"How, pet? What do you want me to do?" This is too hard. If she asks me to turn her, I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. But, she can't die! Mostly because that would lead to my death, which I'd rather avoid.
She touches my face with a shivering hand. "What you have to do."
"No, love. I can't. You know I can't," I say, shaking my head.
"You have to. And you can, if I ask you to."
Well, at least she doesn't think I'm Giles anymore. But I still can't do what she's asking. Actually, I need her to say it. I need her to ask me directly for what she wants.
"Spike, please," she begins with labored breath, "make me… make me like you."
"I can't, love."
"Please, Spike. Before I change my mind."
I cannot believe she wants me to do this to her. She's the Slayer, she kills vampires, and now she's telling me to make her one? I know her friends would kill me if I did that. I can't do this, not to her. And ya know, a couple years ago this wouldn't even be an issue, I would have eaten her or turned her before we even got to the woods. Bloody hell, this chip has totally mucked up my head.
"Spike," she says. Her voice is barely above a whisper now.
"All right. But only if you're sure this is what you want to do."
She nods, slowly, weakly. "I don't want to die."
"Pet, that's kind of the point of becoming a vampire."
"Spike," she says, "don't be an ass."
"Very well." I lean over, drawing my fangs, and prepare to pierce the tender flesh of her neck…
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" someone remotely British screams haughtily from my right.
I look up to the snarl on the Watcher's face. He looks really angry. Fortunately, I can see him better than he can see me; it's dark.
"What she asked me to, Rupert," I snap, though I'm not sure he's buying it.
"Buffy would never ask that of anyone."
"Oh? You think you know your hypothermic Slayer so well, don't you?" I push myself from the ground, retracting my fangs, Buffy draped across my arms.
"What?" the astounded Watcher gapes.
"Your Slayer was suffering hypothermia. She was nearing death. Had to do something."
Slayer wakes and grapples at my neck, nearly scratching m'face before I lose my grip and drop her to the ground. She lands on her feet, but doesn't seem particularly happy about where she is.
Whipping around to stare me down, she snaps, "What happened to the cave and the cold and the snow?"
"Don't know, love. Looks like we're home-free."
"What are you talking about?" Rupert asks, dumbfounded as ever.
Buffy turns to him. "Spike and I were running from this demon and ended up in the mountains in a snow storm. We had to take shelter in a cave, but none of that is here now." She's looking around like she's expecting it all to come back.
"Odd. Snow in Sunnydale?"
God, Rupert's as braindead as 'is Slayer.
"No, you nit! It didn't snow in Sunnydale. We were transported to another dimension."
"How? I didn't see any portals," Slayer snaps, hands on her hips.
Wish I could sigh heavily, I'd do it now. "You don't need a visible portal to be transported to another dimension, pet. The right demon can do it without you even noticing."
Slayer thinks she's so smart.
"No, actually, he's right," Rupert pipes up, confirming my statement, though I didn't need him too, apparently the Slayer did.
"What?" Buffy asks, perplexed.
"He's right. Certain demons don't require a visible portal to transport beings to another dimension. It's more like a time-shift, or a subtle scene switch. Everything looks just fine for a few minutes, then it changes and by the time you notice, you're already through the portal."
"All right, fine. I can deal with that, but what about the demon?"
"What demon?" Rupert's a bit concerned now.
Oh no, here we go again.
"Pardon?" Rupert's confused now.
"Spike says there's no such thing, but I swear an It was chasing us," Slayer's trying to get Giles to say there really is an It demon and that I'm a nit for thinking otherwise.
Rupert cleans his glasses and puts them back on before replying to the Slayer. "Actually, he's right about that too. There is no such thing as an It demon."
"Giles, this isn't funny."
"Certainly not. But Spike's right. What more do you want me to say?"
"I want you to tell me what kind of demon was chasing us and what kind of demon sent us through that portal." Slayer's hands are on her hips and she looks really angry. I like it.
"A demon didn't send you through the portal," a deep, oddly familiar voice, meets my ears. "I did."
I turn to look and wish I hadn't. No, it's not the poof, worse --
"Ethan," Rupert hisses. My thoughts exactly, Rupe.
"Hello, Rupert," Ethan snarls with a wicked grin. "I see your Slayer enjoyed my little game."
"That was no game! That was my life you were playing with!" Slayer snaps, more bite to her bark than you would have guessed.
Ethan clasps his hands behind his back and takes a couple steps. "I was never going to let anything happen to you. I just wanted to see if you could trust a vampire with your life."
Buffy frowns. "And you picked Spike?"
"Please," she continues, "you do know he can't hurt living things, right?"
"Yes. I am aware of that. Which is why I chose him. You had to give your life over to him freely to pass the test."
Ethan Rayne thinks he is so clever. I would suffer a headache to kick his ass.
Slayer looks confused again. "But he was going to bite me."
"That was his test. Could he turn you if he had to, to save your life. Apparently he could." Smug Ethan returns. I hate him.
"Why would he want to? There's the chance that I could turn on him and kill him, knowing that he's Spike, the vampire that kills his own kind. Or, I could run away and leave him to starve, or any number of other unpleasant thoughts."
"That was the test, love. Would I risk all of that and more to save your life, even if it meant making you like me." That was the hardest test I've ever had to face. Hope I never have to again.
"And, the vampire does speak,” Ethan states with a smug grin.
Right then, mate, vamp face for you, and a growl for good measure. Damn, bastard didn't even flinch. I still hate him.
"Incessantly," Buffy says, rolling her eyes.
Thanks ever so, pet.
"Ethan, if you have nothing useful to offer here, I suggest you leave. Now."
Ooh, Rupert's getting defensive and there's this little quirk to his eyebrows; think he's getting angry too. Ethan's treading a fine line.
"At least now you know, Slayer," Ethan croons as he turns and walks away.
"What the hell was he talking about? 'At least now you know' what was that?" Slayer's belly-achin'.
"That you can trust me," I reply, turning to leave. I can hear her breathing and Rupert cleaning his glasses again. She won't admit that she can trust me, but that's what Ethan meant. Slayer can trust me. And if she had been paying attention before, she would already have known that. She just doesn’t want to see that; doesn’t want to believe that an 'evil demon' could be her friend or could just care. Not that I'd want to do either, but, forget it…. I'll just go back to my crypt now, before the sun comes up and I turn to dust.
"Spike," she calls; she's jogging across the ground.
I'm not gonna stop. She can walk with me if it's that important.
Slayer sighs and matches my stride. She's not saying anything, just walking. Wish she would talk though, say what she has to say, then leave me alone.
"Spike, will you just stop and look at me, please?"
She's begging now? Interesting touch. Fine, if I stop and look at you and listen to whatever it is you have to say, will you just leave me the hell alone? "What?" I sigh.
Those big green eyes look like their gonna spill tears any minute. Oh, please don't start blubberin' and cryin' all over me.
She blinks and looks up into my face. "Spike, thank you."
Okay, lost again. Are you sure we're still in Sunnydale? She's never said that to me. And after tonight, I'll bet she'll forget she even said it this time.
I shrug. "You're welcome."
Shaking her head, she continues, "Not just for this weird thing with Ethan, but for what you did for Dawn and me. The whole thing with Glory. I'm not sure anyone else would have done that. Thank you."
Holy shit! She said it twice. I probably look stupid, but I just have to make sure we're actually still in Sunnydale.
"Spike, what are you doing?"
"Nothing, pet. Thought I saw something. Look, it's getting close to daylight, so, if you're done, I'm gonna go."
"Yeah. I'm done."
I nod as I turn away. This has been the strangest day. Not really the worst day ever, like I initially thought, but not a normal day, even in Sunnydale. Wonder what tomorrow will be like? I’m hoping for anything but snow.