Chapter 7: Your Savage Heart
“Of all the stars I admired, drenched/in various rivers and mists,/I chose only the one I love./Since then I sleep with the night./Of all the waves, one wave and another wave,/green sea, green chill, branchings of green,/I chose only the one wave,/the indivisible wave of your body./All the waterdrops, all the roots,/all the threads of light gathered to me here;/they came to me sooner or later./I wanted your hair, all for myself./From all the graces my homeland offered/I chose only your savage heart.” ~Pablo Neruda, “Sonnet XLVI”
Buffy, Vi, and Faith fell into an easy rhythm. Buffy knew of a place in the underground where demons often went. Although she and Spike had checked there the night before for any information on Angelus and had come up dry, there was always a chance that with three Slayers, they would get more.
The underground club was built into a mountain of discarded pottery, Mount Testaccio. Buffy had discovered it through the Immortal, and she’d had fun, even though surrounded by demons and vampires.
Heads turned as they entered the dimly-lit club, moving with power and grace, and Buffy knew that anyone in the club with an ounce of sense would get out of their way.
Sure enough, a path cleared as though by magic, and Buffy zeroed in on the nearest vampire. “There.”
Vi and Faith caught her signal and saw the vampire she had her eye on. They flanked him to prevent an escape while Buffy marched right up to him. “Oh, look, it’s a Slayer,” he sneered. “Am I supposed to be scared?”
His thick accent was somehow a perfect complement to his disco-age clothing, dark, oily hair and thin mustache. Buffy grabbed a handful of his silver shirt and pushed him backwards. The crowd made way for them, and she caught the furtive glances that they were being given.
Apparently, their activities were of interest to the rest of the crowd.
Buffy didn’t stop pushing until they got to the back wall of the club. “Try three Slayers, moron. And you’re going to join the dust on the floor if you don’t tell us what we want to know.”
“We need not fear Slayers anymore,” he snarled. “There is a new master vampire in town, and he’s already turned two.”
Buffy’s felt her stomach twist at that news, but she didn’t allow the emotion to show on her face. “Those little girls?” she smirked. “You’re not dealing with babies now. You’re dealing with women.” She held out a hand and felt the hilt of the knife slap her palm.
She could always count on Faith to carry a knife.
“That won’t kill me.” The vampire’s voice wasn’t quite so certain, however.
“I don’t want to kill you, not right away,” Buffy said sweetly. “I want information. By the time I’m through, you’ll be begging to tell me everything you know.”
“Fine, fine!” he said quickly as Faith and Vi moved closer. “The vampire you are looking for is in the ruins of the Forum. He is creating a harem of turned Slayers. That is what he said. He claims he’s killed one before.”
Buffy smirked. “He lied. I’m always the one who sends him to hell.”
She didn’t wait for the dust to settle before she turned to the others. “We need to get to the Forum.”
Spike felt Willow’s arms tighten around his waist as he took a sharp corner, and his sharp ears caught her squeak of surprise. “Hang on,” he called grimly.
He felt Willow’s face press into his shoulder, and he spared a moment to wonder at the fact that she’d agreed with his decision to steal—well, borrow—a scooter. The two cab services she’d tried to call had refused to go near the old ruins, and there was no other way to get there fast.
Spike had reminded her that Dawn was already at the ruins, and if they didn’t move quickly, they might be too late. He still hadn’t expected her to agree to his suggestion that they steal transportation, but he figured having a witch along made getting caught unlikely, to say the least.
He hit the gas as the streets cleared when they neared the ruins. They were close, but thoughts of Dawn filled his head, and he knew Angelus. If the vampire had caught her…
Well, chances were the girl was still alive, but Angelus had a way with mental torture, and he could leave deep scars in a relatively short period of time.
Spike saw the ruins rising up, and he would have gunned the motor again, but Willow tapped him on the shoulder. “It’s a borrowed bike!” she shouted.
Growling a little, he slowed, deciding that it would probably be better not to give away their approach. “Where in the Forum is she?” he asked as he pulled the bike to a stop. “Do you know?”
Willow shook her head. “No. The map wasn’t that specific.”
“Can’t you track her by—I don’t know—scent?”
“Do I look like a soddin’ bloodhound?”
“I just thought—”
“Hang on.” Spike saw the flash of chrome in a streetlight, and he approached it cautiously. “Do you recognize it?”
Willow shook her head. “I’ve never been to Rome before, remember?”
Spike snorted and turned back to the motorbike. “Doesn’t look like something a Watcher would use.”
“We aren’t using the regular sort of Watchers anymore,” Willow reminded him. “Most of them got blown up.”
“Right.” He took a deep breath. Although he’d bristled at the idea that he could follow a scent like a hound, it was possible if there was a strong enough trace. “Dawn was here.”
He took off across the broken ground, calling behind him, “Watch your step.”
“How am I supposed to do that?” Willow whispered. “I can’t see much.”
“Can’t you make some light? You’re a powerful witch.”
“And give our location away this early in the game?” She raised a bright red eyebrow. “You really are out of practice, aren’t you?”
“Stuff it.” Spike didn’t question his instinct, just reached out and seized Willow’s hand, leading her through the ruins.
There were paths for the tourists, and fences to mark them, but Spike could smell blood, and the trail led off the path. He helped Willow over the fence and hustled her along.
Blood on the ground—it would bring vampires like sharks to chum when tossed in the water. And the scent was growing stronger—Spike nearly stumbled over a crumpled body as they moved towards a stone structure, its graceful arches looking more like gaping maws in the dim light.
“Hang on.” He knelt next to the body, fumbling for a pulse, and feeling Willow’s slim fingers brush his aside.
Willow was quiet for a moment, then heaved a sigh. “He’s dead.”
Spike brought the demon forth, knowing that he’d need every advantage in the upcoming fight. “I can smell Dawn on him.”
Willow swallowed audibly. “This is probably the Watcher.”
“And Angelus likely turned him. It’s not just human blood I smell.” Spike swore. “We have some time. We can come back and take care of it later.”
Willow nodded shortly, meeting his eyes, apparently unfazed by the yellow eyes and fangs. “I think it might be better if we kill Angelus. We don’t have time to try the curse.”
Spike nodded. “Yeah. Let’s move.”
Dawn swallowed a sob as Angelus leaned in close, smelling her neck with an exaggerated sniff. She had watched him kill Geoffrey as the two vamped Slayers held her tightly. They were giggling madly now as they watched Angelus lick the skin over her jugular.
“Buffy’s going to kill you,” she managed to say, even though she was nearly choking on her fear.
He laughed, the sound like a knife in her side. “You’re not serious, are you? I’ve drunk from two Slayers now. I’m stronger than she’ll ever be.” Angelus gave her a toothy grin. “The Watcher was a little dry, but you’re a juicy treat, aren’t you?”
Dawn’s mouth was too dry to spit in his face, although that’s what she would have liked to do. “You can do whatever you want to me, but Spike and Buffy will hunt you down, and they will make you wish you’d never been born.”
The threat might have been more effective if Angelus hadn’t let out a delighted laugh, caressing the sensitive skin of the underside of her arm. Dawn found it impossible to move away; he had somehow managed to attach a set of manacles high on the wall above her head, and Dawn counted herself lucky that she could keep her feet on the floor.
Her arms were already aching. She knew the pain would have been much worse if she had actually been hanging there.
“Do you know how long I can keep this up?” Angelus looked over his shoulder at the two fanged Slayers who were avidly watching his every move. “Who wants to play?”
“I do!” they both said in unison, and Dawn fought back tears, remembering what they had been, who they had been, before Angelus had turned them.
This was her fault.
“We can draw this out forever,” Angelus murmured in her ear, and Dawn tried to jerk away. He took a handful of her hair, jerking her head back, causing her to cry out in pain. “Your sister won’t even recognize you when I’m done.”
“That was always your problem, Angelus. You liked to talk too much.”
Dawn’s heart leapt in her chest as she heard Spike’s voice. “Spike!” Angelus snarled, not releasing her. “Get him!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Dawn could just see the two vamped Slayers and three more of Angelus’ minions falling on Spike and Willow, appearing like smoke from the shadows of the ruined walls. She let out a scream when Angelus’ teeth pierced her neck, and she heard Spike shout—in fear or anger, Dawn couldn’t tell.
Her last thought was of Buffy.
Geoffrey’s lifeless body had been a horrible shock when Buffy had stumbled upon it. They had found his motorbike next to another, unfamiliar one. She didn’t allow herself to consider the possibilities as she and the other Slayers ran towards the sound of fighting.
She caught glimpses of the chaos through half-ruined arches as they ran towards what had probably been a temple of some kind. She suddenly heard Willow’s voice echo in her head. “Close your eyes!”
Buffy instinctively did as she was told, closing her eyes against the bright flash that was still visible moments later. When she opened her eyes again, the ruins were still blanketed by light, and Spike was standing between Angelus and a chained-up Dawn. They were both in game face, growling, and Willow was trying to keep four other vampires busy.
It was immediately apparent that all of the vampires, except for Spike, had been momentarily blinded by the light, but Angelus was recovering quickly, and Buffy sensed the approach of more vampires.
Buffy’s first instinct was to take care of Dawn and leave Faith and Vi to deal with the turned Slayers and other vampires, but there were just too many of them. She gestured to Vi. “Watch our backs!”
Vi turned to take a sentry’s position at the entrance to the ruined building, graceful in spite of the broken stone under her feet. She met the first vampire who came out of the darkness with a quick stake to the heart, and dust drifted around her feet.
With the knowledge that Vi would take care of the vampires still emerging from the rest of the ruins, Buffy turned her attention to the battle in front of her. She knew that Willow might have been able to use her sunlight spell but for Spike’s presence, and so the witch was limited to hand-to-hand fighting—never her forte.
Faith was grappling with the two vamped Slayers, and it appeared as though she was losing. Buffy took two quick strides and grabbed one of the girls by the back of her jacket, throwing her into the wall to give Faith some breathing room.
Willow’s warning came just in time, and Buffy whirled to meet the attack from behind. Her aim was true, even after months of being out of practice. Buffy felt the unmistakable swirl of vampire dust behind her as she turned to meet the next vampire, her sixth sense honed after years of fighting. She dropped to the ground and swept the legs out from under the vampire in front of her, then rose gracefully to face the next.
She caught sight of Spike. He and Angelus had each other by the upper arms, both of them vamped out and snarling, yellow eyes glowing. Neither seemed able to get the upper hand, and Buffy could see that Spike’s face was bleeding in multiple locations.
While she was distracted, Buffy felt an arm snake around her neck, abruptly cutting off her air supply, and she let out a garbled cry for help.
In that moment, Buffy could see everything, and she knew that they weren’t going to win this one. They would die or be turned, and Giles would have to send another, bigger group of Slayers and Watchers to clean up the mess.
She wished she had the chance to tell Spike that she really did love him, one last time.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/332024.html