Disclaimer: This is fanfic, based on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Characters are property of Mutant Enemy. |
This story was written for fun, not profit.
Fever Dreamsby: Shadowscast
His throat was scratchy when he woke up at twilight. He blamed it on too many cigarettes the day before. He put the dull throbbing in his head down to hangover, and the ache in his back was from too many months sitting in a fucking chair.
As soon as the sewer grates overhead showed a fully dark sky, Angelus announced he was going out hunting. He invited Spike along, to which Spike responded with two raised fingers.
Dru stuck around, sitting cross-legged on the relatively dry walkway at the edge of the tunnel and crooning softly to Miss Edith. The walkway was too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair, so Spike was stuck down in the dregs with water swirling around his wheels and feet. On the up side, this channel was mostly fed by sewer grates, not household waste, so the stink wasn't too bad.
On the down side, it was still the rainy season.
He smoked a cigarette. The smoke hurt his throat and made his nose itch. "Fucking rubbish," he muttered, pitching the fag end away into the swirling water. "Couldn't Angelus have eaten some bloke who smoked a decent brand?"
"Rrrrrr," Drusilla mock-growled in his direction, and snapped her teeth. "Daddy's left you all grouchy."
"Oh, don't get me started on Angelus," Spike snapped. "I don't know what you see in him."
Dru's eyes went wide and shining. "He makes me hurt in such scrumptious ways." She giggled.
Spike winced. "He's obsessed with the Slayer, Dru. He's never going to kill her, he's just going to keep courting her until she gets sufficiently brassed off to kill us all."
"This Slayer is golden and prickly," Dru said to Miss Edith. "She makes my insides quiver."
"Let's get out of here, pet," Spike said. Dru turned her dark eyes on him, and he knew that she understood what he meant: out of Sunnydale. "Things've gone way past sour. Angelus is nothing but trouble. We were having fun on our own."
Dru shook her head slowly, twirling a black lock of hair around her finger. It was the same answer she gave him every time. He couldn't break Angelus's hold on her, and he knew it.
He hated Angelus with a profound and impotent passion.
"Don't pout, luv," Dru crooned. She stood up and stepped into the water, delicately holding her skirts out of the way, to kiss him on the forehead. "I'll bring you something to eat, something young and tender."
Spike submitted to her caresses but shook his head against the offering. "I'm not hungry, pet. Anyhow, that kid you brought me yesterday tasted ... off."
"His blood was hot. Mmmmm." Dru licked Spike's forehead. "Now you're hot. You aren't coming back to life, are you, sweet William? It would be terrible, I should have to kill you all over again."
"Don't be stupid, Dru." He tried to push her away, and ended up rolling backwards, which had more or less the same effect. "Look, if you're hungry you might as well go out hunting now, before all the humans get tucked safe in their beds."
She gave a lazy shrug of assent, rubbing her belly. "I think I shall. You must watch Miss Edith, see that she doesn't play in the puddles and get wet. I've told her again and again she'll catch her death of cold, but she just doesn't listen."
"She's a doll, Dru," Spike said gently. "She can't get sick." But Dru was already gone.
Finally alone in the sewer except for Miss Edith and the occasional gleaming-wet rat, Spike sat in his chair and shivered. Funny, Dru had said he was warm—which was pretty much impossible—but he felt cold. He hadn't been properly dry since the night they fled the burning factory. What the fuck had Angelus been messing around with the Watcher for, anyway? They might not be quite as dangerous as Slayers, but a Watcher looking for blood vengeance was not to be trifled with.
His throat was still hurting, and his nose was tickling. He sniffed hard, trying to drive the sensation away, but it didn't work. The tickled expanded, insistent and all-consuming, and Spike found himself gasping involuntarily, "... ahhhh ..." It had been a very long time since he'd felt like this, but he suddenly realized what was going on; he was about to sneeze.
He fought it. He rubbed his nose hard with his knuckles. "... ahhhh ..." He tried to hold his breath, but his own involuntary responses defeated him, vestigial signs of life. "...ahhhaa...HACHOO!"
As the echoes of the sneeze died away he sniffled, and hugged his arms tight around himself. "Bloody hell," he whispered.
Miss Edith regarded him with pity.
Angelus was the first one back. It was hard to track the passage of time down in the sewers, and Spike didn't have a watch, but he was pretty sure it had been a few hours.
Angelus was practically glowing. "I put the Slayer in the hospital!" he gloated by way of 'hello.' "You should have seen it, Spike, it was beautiful—the Slayer lying there all pale and helpless, and all her little friends clustered around acting like it was the end of the fucking world."
"Is she dead?" Spike asked pointedly.
"Of course not." Angelus glared at him. "Once she's dead, the fun stops."
If you asked Spike, which nobody had, the fun had stopped months ago. Certainly he wasn't having any fun tonight. He'd been sitting alone in the sewer for hours, sneezing and shivering. He didn't have anything like a handkerchief so he'd been trying to make do with rubbing his nose on his sleeve like a sodding street urchin, which didn't really work. His throat was sore, his head was throbbing, and he ached all over—except, of course, for his legs, which he couldn't feel at all.
He was ill, he was desperately and horribly ill, and about the only thing worse than feeling this way was knowing that any second now, Angelus would find out. Stubbornly, Spike put off the moment of truth. "I'm sure it's a comfort to the Slayer, knowing you don't actually intend to ... ahhh ..." he sniffled, fighting to hold back the incipient sneeze, "kill her."
"Oh, I'll kill her," Angelus assured him, apparently not picking up on the hoarseness of Spike's voice or his near loss of control. "But there would've been no satisfaction in it tonight; she was off her game. Sick."
Angelus was a stupid pretentious sod; he should've taken his chance when he fucking well had it. They all already knew this Slayer could beat him soundly in a fair match. "Didn't know Slayers could get sick," Spike commented, and then he couldn't hold it back any longer. "hatchoo! ahhetchoo! haatchssh!" He muffled them as best as he could against the disgustingly slick leather of his coat sleeve, and then dissolved into coughing.
"Well," Angelus said quietly once Spike had managed to get himself under control, "I guess they don't get sick as often as ordinary humans. But I hear there's a bad flu going around. By the way, Spike, you don't look so good. Maybe it was something you ate?"
"Dru brod id do be," Spike muttered sullenly. The last, partly-stifled sneeze had left his nose so stuffed up he could barely talk.
"Dru brought it to me," Angelus parroted, singsong, mocking. "Did you lose the use of your brain along with your legs, Spike? Oh wait, I forgot, you always were kind of stupid." He slapped the back of Spike's head hard enough to make him double over, and the wheelchair creaked forward an inch. "Dru. Is. Crazy."
"Yeah, and?" Spike tried to laugh, but it came out as a cough.
"She obviously forgot what happens to you when you drink infected blood. But you should've known better, Spike." Angelus glared down at him and kicked the wheel of the chair so it spun half around. "Do you think we have time for this? I've got a Slayer to destroy."
"I'b dot gedding id your way, pillock. ha...Hashoo!" The boy had already been dead when Dru dragged him into the sewers; how was Spike supposed to have known there was anything wrong? Well, okay, there'd been a weird tang to the taste ... Honestly, after spending three months in a wheelchair watching his arch enemy shagging his girlfriend, Spike was pretty much past caring whether what he drank might fuck him up.
Any further scolding Angelus might have intended for Spike was interrupted by the scrape of metal against pavement. The manhole cover nearest their position pulled aside, and Dru dropped down through the hole.
"Splash!" she declared happily, mimicking the sound of the water she'd landed in. Her skirts were damp to her knees.
"Better close that, Dru." Angelus nodded upwards at the open manhole. She spread her arms, and he went to her. He kissed her on the lips—Spike winced and turned away but looked back immediately, because even worse than knowing was not knowing—Angelus trailed kisses down Dru's neck, lingered at her cleavage, then buried his face against her belly. She giggled and twined her fingers through his hair, and then he grabbed her around the legs, straightened his knees and boosted her up so she could reach to pull the manhole cover into place.
Spike gritted his teeth and tried to look like he didn't care when Angelus set Dru down again and they both turned to him. And then he sneezed.
"I told you not to play in the puddles, Spike," Dru scolded him gently.
He opened his mouth to remind her that it had been Miss Edith she'd been concerned for, but he only sneezed again. "atchooo!"
When he opened his eyes, Dru was beside him, crouching to bring herself to his eye level. Her mouth pursed with concern, she laid her cool hand on his forehead. "William's got a terrible fever," she whispered. Then she reached down between her breasts and pulled out a blue and white paisley square of cloth. "Better clean your nose before Daddy sees you like this."
Spike didn't bother pointing out that Angelus was standing a few feet away watching the whole thing; he just took the kerchief and gratefully blew his nose. "Thanks, pet," he said, and his voice was still hoarse but at least he didn't sound like a complete prat anymore.
"Spike's sick, Dru," Angelus said. "You fed him a sick human. You know he can't handle it. Remember that time in Vienna?"
"The boy was delicious." Dru licked her fingers, and flashed her fierce smile at Angelus. "All hot and salty, and terribly afraid."
"I know they're tasty, but Spike..." Angelus trailed off, frowning. Spike shivered under his scrutiny—it gave him that old familiar feeling of failing to live up to some glorious vampire standard.
Bloody hell, I've killed two Slayers. How many has he done? That's right—none. But under Angelus's quelling gaze he couldn't quite manage to speak up; he just shivered again, and stifled a cough against Dru's hanky.
"You know, Dru," Angelus said, still gazing pensively at Spike, "I think maybe you made him wrong. I mean, I've never heard of another vampire that could catch human diseases. And how long has he been in that wheelchair? Three months? Our broken bones heal in a day. I wouldn't be surprised if he never walks again."
"I did not make him wrong!" Dru snapped, standing up straight with a perfectly sane expression of wounded pride. "He's exactly perfect, my sweet Spike." She turned to Spike, hopped into his lap and clutched his head to her chest, rubbing her fingers through the wispy hair at the nape of his neck. Her cool skin felt wonderful against his aching head. "I'll care for him until he's better. I'll feed him sticky buns and sweet tea and sing him to sleep."
"If we get rid of him, I'll let you make a new one," Angelus offered casually. "How about that brown-haired boy who follows the Slayer around like a lost puppy? I'm sure he'd follow you around just as faithfully."
Spike felt chilled all of a sudden. The old sod wouldn't, would he? He was just taking the piss, trying to provoke a reaction.
If Angelus did decide to dust him, there was fuck all Spike could do to save himself.
"The Slayer's puppy would be terribly mean with a demon in him," Dru said. "I wouldn't like him at all."
Angelus shrugged. "Suit yourself," he said, and wandered off.
"Thanks for sticking up for me, Dru," Spike said, letting the sarcasm drip.
"Don't be silly." She kissed his forehead. "Daddy loves you, only he doesn't say so because he's in charge and he must be fierce."
Spike sighed, and tried not to cough. "You really are completely barmy, aren't you? But you're still my dark princess. I love you, Dru."
She kissed him gently. "I love you too, my beautiful, fragile William."
"The name's Spike," he muttered against her lips.
"I know who you are." She pressed her fingers to his chest. "I see inside you, all your secret, squirming places."
He closed his eyes. "Stop it, Dru. I'm fucking tired."
Next thing he knew, she'd lifted him out of the chair. She carried him over to the walkway and laid him down on it, letting his head rest on her lap. "Sleep, my Spike," she whispered, and then she sang to him.
The day slipped by in snatches of confusing consciousness, pain and vertigo and vivid fever dreams.
Rats the size of wolves gnawed at his bare feet and he screamed because he couldn't feel a thing. Dru shook him awake and petted his head and told him it was all right.
The Slayer from New York and the one from China came to him, dragging Angelus's limp form between them, and told him, "Take care of our sister in the darkness." Then the Chinese Slayer slashed his eyebrow with her blessed sword and he woke screaming, sure he could feel the blood running down his face.
Angelus and Darla stood over him, discussing whether or not to throw him out into the sunlight.
"He's a good fuck," Angelus said, "but I'm not sure he's good for much else."
"Drusilla likes him," Darla said. "But she can always make another, can't she? I don't think this one turned out quite right."
So they opened the door and threw him out, and the sun was a blaze of bright heat and his body caught fire all over and he woke up screaming.
He woke up. This time he was sure he was awake; he was in the sewer, it was dank and cold and the concrete under him was hard and wet, and his head felt like it was stuffed with burning gun cotton. He sneezed four times before he managed to get out Dru's kerchief and blow his nose.
There was no light coming through the grates; it was night. He was alone.
Or ... not. Splashing footsteps echoed in the tunnel, getting closer. If it wasn't Dru or Angelus, Spike was pretty well screwed. His wheelchair was about ten feet away; it might as well have been on the other side of the bloody Atlantic. He tried to sit up, and black spots swam across his vision.
Angelus reached him just in time to catch him before he toppled sideways into the stream of sewer water. "Going somewhere, Spike?" He lifted Spike right up and then set him in the chair. "Well, anyway, you are now."
Spike was too miserable to wonder where they were headed. He just concentrated on not passing out and falling out of the chair. They came eventually to an access passage with stairs to the surface; Angelus carried Spike and the chair up together. Up on the surface, Angelus strolled along the sidewalk pushing the chair. They passed occasional humans, most of whom gave Spike awkward, sympathetic looks and smiled at Angelus as if to say "Aren't you a sweet man to take your crippled friend for a walk tonight." A light, cold drizzle started to fall, answering Spike's unasked question as to whether things could get any worse.
The first time he sneezed, Angelus surprised him by handing him a clean white cloth handkerchief. Spike might even have thanked him, but he was too busy pressing it over his mouth and nose to stifle his sudden fit. "ahtshhh ... hehtshhh ... ah ... ahhtshh!"
When he'd finally managed to regain control, he saw that they'd stopped in front of a run-down building. The neon sign out front flashed "Bert's Motor Inn," and, underneath, "Vacancy."
"What're we doing here?" Spike demanded.
Angelus pulled a key out of his pocket and held it where Spike could see; it dangled from a big plastic fob emblazoned with the number 3. "We're checking in," he said. He tipped Spike's chair up onto the platform that went in front of all the doors, then pushed him up to the door marked three.
Still feeling fuzzy and confused, Spike twisted his head around so he could see Angelus's face. "I don't get it. Did you kill whoever was staying here?"
Angelus grinned. "Nah, I killed a guy a few blocks away, took his wallet, and used his cash to pay for the room. I don't want the police to come sniffing around here before..."
Angelus pushed him into the room. "Before you have the chance to get better."
It was a standard small, cheap hotel room with one double bed and an easy chair. Angelus wheeled Spike to foot of the bed, then disappeared into the bathroom. A moment later, the room filled with the sound of running water.
The black spots were back, swimming across Spike's vision in swiftly greater numbers. His hands gripped the arms of his wheelchair as though he could hang on to consciousness that way. "Thought you were going to push me out into the sun," he rasped, hating the helplessness in his own voice. Hating the hope that was springing up now.
"Don't be so fucking stupid," Angelus said, and caught Spike by the shoulders as he tipped over. "You're still mine."
When he woke up again, he was naked in a warm bath and Angelus was sitting on the side of the tub in a pose like Rodin's Thinker, watching him.
"The burns are all gone," Angelus said, reaching over to touch the side of Spike's face. "You may be slow, but you do heal."
Spike glared up at him. "When I do, I'm taking Drusilla and heading for South America."
Angelus shook his head, smiling almost sympathetically. "You're just a plaything for her, you know. That's all you ever were." Then he grabbed Spike under the shoulders and hauled him up out of the tub. There was a blanket waiting, folded up on the closed toilet. Angelus easily held Spike against him with one arm while he grabbed the blanket, and then wrapped it around Spike.
Spike closed his eyes. It was too easy to fall into this, to let Angelus's huge rough strength overwhelm him into complete submissiveness. His head hurt, his throat hurt, his nose was stuffed up and he couldn't walk.
In his first two decades of unlife, before Angelus and Darla had abandoned the family in quick succession, Angelus had defined Spike's existence through their daily struggle. Everything Spike did, he did either to impress his sire or to rebel against him.
The pattern had broken only on occasions when Spike was grievously wounded—which happened surprisingly often—or when he was sick like this, which had happened only twice. When Spike was too weak to put up any kind of a fight, Angelus became ... solicitous. Considerate. Almost loving. And Spike hated him for it, and hated himself for wishing it would never end.
Now Angelus carried Spike out to the bed, and laid him carefully on it, and took the damp blanket away and pulled the bedcovers up over Spike's naked form. "Dru will be here soon," he mentioned. "She's finding you something to eat."
Spike nodded his understanding. She'd be looking for puppies, probably, or kittens; she'd always had the strange idea that small cute animals had healing properties.
Well, he was awake now—if slightly dizzy—and he was quickly getting bored. If Angelus was going to play nice, he might as well take advantage. "Does this place have ... hetchoo! ... cable?"
Angelus shrugged. The old git had never really got the hang of television. "It might say in that brochure on the bedside table, there..."
Spike struggled up onto his elbows. "Look, the remote's sitting right on the telly. Just bring it here."
With an indulgent roll of his eyes, Angelus went and fetched the remote for Spike. Then he sat down on the edge of the bed, leaning against the headboard. "Come here," he said, giving Spike no choice in the matter; he pulled Spike up so that his head was resting against Angelus's chest. He kept his arm locked around Spike, holding him in position. Spike wrestled with his shame and weariness for a moment before relaxing into Angelus's embrace. He was holding him up so he could see the telly properly. It was comfortable, actually, and kind of nice. Tears pricked Spike's eyes and he blinked fast and coughed, hoping the old bastard wouldn't notice.
"Are you all right, Spike?" Angelus asked, sounding for once as though he actually cared.
"Fine," Spike lied, and flicked the channels.
There wasn't any proper football on, but he was willing to settle for ice hockey, under the circumstances.