A Watcher, A Vampire And A Dead Man Walk Into A Bar – Part 2 (Spike/Wesley/Dead!Giles)
Chapter warnings: Some biting. Hardly more than nibbling, really.
Spike sprinted through the outskirts of London leaving a trail of angry dog-walkers and ‘excuse me’s behind him; he cared for neither. He spared a thought to be glad of his lack of need for oxygen; he’d been keeping up this speed for the best part of two miles, and somebody who exercised as little as he did, and who both smoked and drank, would by now be in some serious discomfort if it weren’t for the demon inside.
Left here and over the railway bridge.
If you’re willing to take some chances you can cut off about half a mile.
“How do you know? How? Where?”
Used to drink out this way. Down these steps. There used to be a place you could get through the fence… mind you, that was forty years ago.
“Oh, thanks. There isn’t one now.”
Take a run up at that Volvo. One foot on the bonnet, one on the roof and you’ll clear the fence easily.
“For whose value of ‘easy’?”
Stop arguing and just do it, dammit! Never mind the car alarm. Now, left. Left! Other left! Straight down the side of the track. Don’t touch anything, I can’t remember which is the electric rail.
“Oh, ta very much!”
Well, look where you’re putting your feet, that’s all! Now look, see over that side? There’s a workman’s access gate. Straight over — look both ways, I don’t know what the timetabling is these days, I don’t know when the trains come — and up those steps. Over the gate — all right, break the bloody gate to pieces, see if I care — and turn right. There’s a little shopping arcade along here, or there used to… yes, look, there. It comes out on Blaxton Road. Now run, dammit.
“Next time, you can provide the body an’ we’ll put my soul in it.”
Shut up and run!
He ran. He ran through the arcade, scattering teenagers with bottles of cheap cider; he ran through the park, where the cheap cider belonged to older men with filthy raincoats; he ran through the business estate where security guards watched suspiciously until he was out of sight. He ran through the streets where the big Victorian and Edwardian houses advertised student accommodation available by the term. He stopped running at one end of a long, curving street with the same short-tenancy houses in a terraced arcade, but where one in the middle was considerably larger than the others, and lacked the cheap curtains and multi-occupancy rack of doorbells.
Where are they likely to have him?
“How would I know? Bloody hell, we’ll just have to get in and search. They’ve probably…” He let it trail away. No need to say it; Rupert wasn’t daft. He knew that the stupid plonker was likely dead already.
Look, there are area steps. So there’s a way in down there.
He eased himself down the steps. At the bottom was a door; he tried it cautiously. “Locked. An’ if I kick it in, they’ll hear me.” He leaned his cheek against the wood. “He’s been here, Rupert: I can smell him.”
“He’s been scared. He’s touched the other side of this door. Fuck! Where’s the back door, do you think?”
You’d need to find the entry up the back; there’s probably a cut between some of the houses, but I can’t see which ones. Wait, Spike. Try next door.”
Get in next door, go up as high as you can get, see if there are attics. This isn’t Edwardian, it’s Georgian, and the top floor will have been storage or servants’ quarters. You might be able to get in that way.
He sprang up the area steps and turned to the next house, pressing bells randomly and ignoring the crackling intercom until a steady buzz told him that some impatient tenant had released the lock. There were too bloody many stairs and no lift. At the very top, he looked left and right.
That side. The front door’s behind you.
He put on his pleasantest expression, summoned the glamour, and knocked firmly on the door.
“Landlord’s inspection, love.”
“At this time of night?”
He shrugged dismissively. “Only time we’re sure of findin’ people home. We’ve been havin’ trouble with rats in the attic; you don’t want me to check, that’s yer own lookout, but you needn’t expect us to do anythin’ about the problem if you won’t let us look.”
She stepped back, shuddering. “What do you need to do?”
“I need you,” he said carefully, “to give me specific permission to come in and to go up into the crawl space through yer room. It’s just a look-see at the moment, but you have to give me permission.”
“Sure, yeah. Um, you got some ID?”
He fixed her with a stare, ramped the glamour up to eleven, and showed her a cigarette packet. She nodded. “Come in, then. Um, I don’t actually know where…”
He found an access hatch in her kitchen, and kicked his way up to it from her stool. Then he looked down into her upturned face. “Ta, love. There’s no sign of rats up here, none at all, an’ I wasn’t here longer than five minutes. Last you saw of me, I was knockin’ at the door on the other side of the landin’, O.K.? You heard me go back down the stairs ten minutes after that. Nothin’ to worry about, nothin’ to talk about, just the landlord’s inspection. You’re in the kitchen now because you wanted a cuppa.”
She smiled at him, looking a little confused, and nodded, turning away towards the kettle and the sink; he pushed the hatch back into place behind him.
That is really a very useful skill.
“Ain’t it, though?” He was stretched out on the joists, ear to the access hatch of the next house. Then he eased the board up, and slipped through the gap. The stairs below were dark and silent, but he waited patiently until he was certain that nothing, alive or undead, was there. Each stair was tried carefully before he trusted it with his weight, and it took him a full five minutes to pass the open door on the second floor and the host of vampires beyond it. The fledge on guard in the kitchen had barely cut its fangs, and he had no difficulty in evading it and dodging around the corner that led to what was patently a wine cellar.
Locked. Not helpful. But there was a hatch in the door, and a minute with a knife — since when did he carry a knife?
Since I told you it was useful.
“Wes?” It was no more than breathed into the dark but something shifted.
“Who’s there?” Wesley’s voice trembled despite his obvious attempt to keep it steady.
“Shhh! Keep the noise down. Me. Spike. An’ let me tell you, if either of us gets out of this alive, you are dead, boy. What did we say about you not chasin’ this up all on your own?”
Not now, Spike.
“Well, you were right. I hope it feels good,” muttered Wesley bitterly; Spike snarled.
Not now, Spike. He’s whistling in the dark. Just get him out and you can tell him what we think about it afterwards. Can we get him past that vampire in the kitchen?
“No. An’ there’s two at the front door, an’ no way could he get past the lot upstairs.”
“Who are you talking to?” whispered Wesley curiously.
“Never you mind. It’s goin’ to need somethin’…”
There was a crash and a roar upstairs; Wesley flinched and Spike swore, softly.
“Right. Listen, Pryce. Do you want to live?”
“I… what? Of course I… but what…? I don’t want to… Those vampires, they, they…”
“Just shut up, willya? I know what they intend, or I can guess. I might be able to get you out alive. Genuinely alive, not undead. Not untouched, but alive and livin’ to be stupid another day. You won’t like what I do — I don’t like it much meself — but you’ll be alive. Bloody hell, I can’t believe I’m even thinkin’ about this.”
Neither can I.
“Do you think it will work?”
“Do I think what will work? You haven’t told me what you…”
“Not you, dickhead. Wouldn’t trust your opinion if you told me this was Saturday.”
I… have to say I’m not confident, but I don’t have a better plan. And there isn’t time to explain it: he’ll argue if you do. Just do it.
“Fuck! Pryce, come here!” He reached through the hatch and yanked Wesley close by his twisted tie, ripping at buttons.
“What are you…!”
“Shut up!” snarled Spike, game face on, fangs dropped. He struck, fast as a cobra, and Wesley yelped as a bright bead of blood bloomed below his collarbone. Spike let go of him with one hand, and shot his wrist free of the cuff of Giles’ jacket, biting his own flesh and lifting his head with his mouth bloodstained. Wesley yelped again as Spike dragged him closer, and licked at the puncture on his chest, mixing Wesley’s blood with his own. Wesley shook with terror; Spike shook with something else. “Watcher!”
I’m here. I’m here. Breathe through it, Spike.
“I don’t fuckin’…”
I know. But do it anyway. Breathe. In. Out. One. Two. One. Two. You can do this. We can do it. We are not at the mercy of the bloodlust. We don’t kill unless we must. Unless we choose.
“Watcher blood is… different.”
I can tell. Strong stuff, is it? Was it like that… I shouldn’t ask, should I?
“You were too far gone already, an’ a good half o’ yours was one drug or another. He’s young an’ fit. Bloody hell, that hit hard.”
All right now?
Spike nodded wearily and pulled Wesley close again; Wesley struggled to no avail: Spike licked the blood away and then ran his tongue steadily over the puncture wounds, which closed, scabbed, healed, paled. There would be no scar. When he was satisfied that no mark remained, he let go.
“Pryce? Do up yer shirt. Straighten yer tie. What sort of fuckwit goes vampire huntin’ in a collar an’ tie?”
“An’ you an’ all. Pryce! Fuck, they’re comin’, I can hear them. Listen, Pryce. If you want to live, then remember this: I’m comin’ to fetch you. You know, absolutely, not a shadow of a doubt in your head that I will be. You can tell them that I will be. You’re countin’ on it, an’ when I show, fer fuck’s sake, be pleased to see me. This is not the time for the Duchess’s manners. You know what I did there. Now you have to convince them that I got you right under me thumb.”
He slipped towards a scullery door, out of the main thoroughfare; as the first vampire appeared from the kitchen Wesley heard the softest imaginable whisper.
“Or we’re both dead.”