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The Body – Chapter 1 – The End of the World
She’d taken to patrolling with Spike most nights – he was her perfect slaying partner. Quiet when she didn’t feel like talking, just as mouthy and quick witted as she when on a roll. She didn’t have to watch out for him and could always count on him to watch her back. The give and take quippage was a bonus.
If it weren’t for the fact that her friends and Watcher hated him – hated the fact that he was a vampire, hated that he was related to Angel in any sort of way and was quite frankly an annoying son of a bitch – Buffy would have had the best of both worlds.
Nothing could ever be that easy for her. They said it was a disgrace for her to be on her second vampire. Chipped or not he should have been dusted when he showed up at Giles’ place last Thanksgiving, weak and disadvantaged.
Unable to stand the constant pressure from the Scoobies, Buffy finally told Spike to leave her alone for awhile; not to accompany her on patrol for at least a week, hoping it would get everyone off her back.
Spike wasn’t happy, but he acquiesced to her demands, especially since he had every intention of following close behind.
As if she could read his mind, Buffy changed her patrol pattern and habits. She started out an hour later at a different cemetery and worked her way backwards from her normal routine.
She started out at Sunnydale Cemetery, then hit Spike’s… Restfield Cemetery. Nothing more than a handful of dirty behind the ears newly risen fledglings. She was lonely and bored by the time she ended up at Shady Hill; she missed Spike’s companionship, though she would never tell him so.
It’s not like they were friends, right? More like… co-workers. Yeah, that’s it. Co-workers who had tried to kill each other several times over the years, and finally settled on an armed truce. Yup, that worked for her.
Buffy was so caught up in her own musings that she hadn’t heard the approach of a pair of Ognir demons. They weren’t exceptionally tall – about six feet or so – but they each weighed four to five hundred pounds. Their skin was as tough as an elephant’s hide, and exceptionally hard to pierce with anything but the sharpest honed blades. She knew they were slow moving, and wasn’t overly worried about fighting off two of them.
What she hadn’t counted on were the other half dozen or so Ognir that had snuck up and surrounded her as she concentrated on the two in front. The bastards had used themselves as bait to draw her attention.
And where the hell was Spike? Oh, right. She had the sinking feeling she’d made a severe tactical error in conceding to her friends’ demands.
This was bad. Really, really bad. It wasn’t like she’d never faced overwhelming odds before and come out on top… bloodied but unbowed. However, even Slayer strength was no match for eight Ognir who could pretty much crush her to death with a dogpile on her barely hundred pound frame.
Still, giving up wasn’t an option. Her number one rule was “Don’t die.” If given a choice, she’d hightail it out of there, gathering her forces to return to the fight with better odds. As it was, she was surrounded by an Ognir version of Stonehenge.
Buffy tried rushing the space between two of the demons but they held rank, keeping her trapped in their circle. Reaching behind her, she pulled a sword from the scabbard she wore snugly between her shoulderblades.
She made a valiant effort, but in the end, she’d only managed to kill two of the demons, ending up bruised and bleeding. The remaining Ognir were playing with her now; simply waiting for her strength to give out before they tore her limb from limb.
They shoved her back and forth like a Slayer dodgeball. One of the more ambitious demons lunged forward and grabbed her sword arm, breaking the long bones with a sickening snap that forced a scream from the girl.
Her vision flared white from the pain and then grayed out slowly as she realized she was going down for the count. A rather ignominious end after all those years of demon slaying. The odd thoughts flitted through her mind as everything slowly lost coherence:
She’d never see her sister, or the vaunted friends who insisted she patrol alone, again. She vaguely wondered if there would be enough left of her to identify after demon playtime was over. The last sound that registered was a furious, ululating war cry as she fell to the ground, unconscious.
Spike was livid. It had become obvious the silly bint was trying to avoid him by changing her patrol pattern. He’d already wasted an hour’s time trying to find her scent at several likely cemeteries. He caught the first hint of her not far from his own crypt in Restfield, and quickly extrapolated her most likely route for the rest of the night.
The closer he drew to Shady Hill, the more worried he got. Something wasn’t right. He felt the small hairs rise on the back of his neck in anticipation of…
That was when he heard her cry out in pain. It was a sound Spike had rarely heard from her and his panic increased as he sped towards it.
With a roar he slipped off his human mask and charged, whooping and making as much noise as he could, hoping to distract the Ognir from their prey.
Knowing the Slayer’s life was at stake, Spike tore through the Ognir with a vicious, single minded determination. The vampire was fueled by fear and anger at seeing Buffy lying in a bloodied heap behind two of the Ognir who were standing guard over her inert form.
Before long, Spike was covered in muddy brown blood and strands of flesh as Ognir limbs piled up on the ground. The two demons guarding Buffy decided to cut their losses, turning tail and running as the enraged vampire took down the last of their four brethren.
Spike practically flew the last few feet between himself and the fallen Slayer. He didn’t have to touch her to know she was in danger of bleeding out. In another lifetime, even as recently as a year ago, the smell of all that freshly spilled Slayer blood would have made him harder than steel; now it just made him gag.
Cataloguing her injuries was irrelevant. Getting her to the hospital was paramount. He was grateful for the hours of darkness still ahead of him. Scooping the battered girl into his arms, Spike ran as quickly as he could to Sunnydale General, pleading with her to hold on just a little longer.
The medical staff swarmed all over them when Spike finally barreled through the Emergency doors. Covered in what appeared to be mud and far too much blood they hauled Buffy from his arms and tried to wrestle the resisting vampire into an examination room of his own.
He insisted that all he needed was a shower, and if they were unhappy with his appearance he would submit to an exam, knowing full well they weren’t prepared for his lack of life signs.
“Just make sure you take care of the Sl… my girl,” he yelled, as they wheeled Buffy away. “Her name is Buffy Anne Summers, an’ she’s been here before. You already have her records.”
“Sir, you need to calm down,” gentled one of the doctors. “If you can’t, we’ll have to sedate you. I understand your girlfriend’s condition has you rattled, but you have to remain strong for her.”
Mindful of the gloopy mess dripping from him, the doctor shepherded Spike towards the patients’ showers and handed him a spare set of blue scrubs. “I’m afraid your clothes will have to be burnt, Sir. Nothing on this earth is going to get all that… well, let’s just say they’re ruined.” She tried to be tactful and not remind the man that he was covered in his girlfriend’s blood.
“I’d suggest you wear both pair of pants.” She smiled, explaining that hospital scrubs didn’t provide much by way of cover and they didn’t have any spare shorts.
With a small grimace that could barely be mistaken for a smile and a tilt of his head, the exhausted vampire headed into the showers, more than eager to scrape the drying blood from his body.
Spike shucked off his boots and skinned out of his ruined clothes; dumping them in the trash after he’d emptied his pockets. He placed his things and the scrubs in a locker, and turned on the water as hot as it would go. He was grateful for the soap and shampoo, even if it was the antibacterial kind that stung his finely tuned vampire senses. Anything that dulled the scent of Buffy’s blood was a blessing.
The vampire had to admit that both pair of scrubpants were a necessary nod to common decency if he had to be around other people. “What has she done to me?” he whispered to the empty room as he toweled his hair dry.
He walked swiftly to the nurses’ station for news of Buffy’s condition and to ask for the phone. As much as he hated having anything to do with the wanker, Giles had to be notified about his Slayer’s situation.
The same doctor who’d been kind enough to give him the scrubs, led Spike to a waiting room and insisted he sit down. “What’s your name, Sir?”
“M’name’s William, but you can call me Spike, Doc... Norris, is it?” he asked, reading the identification tag around her neck. “Now tell me what’s the what with m’girl.”
“Well, it’s not good, Wi… Spike,” she said, laying a hand on his shoulder in sympathy. This was never an easy thing… telling the friend or relative that their loved one might not make it. And this had an added edge to it.
“Now, I must be honest with you. Several of the triage doctors who attended Miss Summers have suggested we call in the police and hold you here as a suspect until they arrive. She has several depressed skull fractures, severe injuries to her internal organs, broken ribs, broken limbs… it’s as if someone systematically took a baseball bat and beat the girl to within an inch of her life.”
At the look in Spike’s eyes, Dr. Norris edged backwards, wary of the anger she could feel roiling around the man. “You have to admit it looks pretty suspicious that you don’t have a scratch on you, and she’s a mess.”
Spike kept a tight leash on his demon, knowing if he gave it free reign he’d never be allowed near Buffy again. “Listen to me closely, Doc. I found m’girl in the middle of Shady Hill Cemetery, bein’ beaten by a gang of at least six thugs. I tussled some with a couple of ‘em. S’why I was covered with mud an’… By the time I got close enough to see Buffy lying on the ground, the wankers had run off. M’not going anywhere until Buffy tells me to leave, herself.”
Sue Norris knew people, amongst other things, and could tell this one was just barely holding on. One more push would tell the tale. “And just what was this girl doing in the middle of a cemetery; alone in the wee hours of the morning?”
He hung his head, all the fight going out of him. “Our… families don’t approve of us seein’ one another. She was comin’ to see me, an’ I was late.” Spike dropped his head into his hands and began to cry. “Bloody hell, I was too late.”
The doctor relaxed. That’s better than a sharp fang in the neck. “Spike, look at me. I know what… who you are. Not all of Sunnydale is blind.”
Expecting the sharp end of a stake, Spike looked up – torn between the urge to flee and stay – and waited for fate to do as it would.
“I’m not a fool, Spike. I suspected the vampire issue when you fought against being examined. Anyone as pale as you should have been on the floor from blood loss.”
“An’ you still helped me?” The disdain in his voice was clear. “What are you, another vampire groupie?”
The wooden stake now poking into his side told him otherwise.
“Look, Doc… m’manners aren’t what they should be. I’m worried about Buffy… an’ I need to call her family.”
Dr. Norris removed the stake, tucking it away in a hidden pocket of her lab coat. “If you’re talking about a Mr. Rupert Giles, he’s already been called. His name is listed as next of kin on her file.”
As if on cue, Giles strode towards the nurses station, demanding news of Buffy’s condition. He was pointed in Dr. Norris’ direction. The look on his face was thunderous as he approached.
“Spike,” he spat, vehemently. “I should have known you were involved somehow. If you’ve hurt her in any way…”
“Mr. Giles! Please remember this is a hospital,” the doctor chastised. “Don’t you think your son has been through enough already?”
Giles looked ready to burst from the assumption, staring daggers at Spike.
The blond vampire just shrugged. “Told them we didn’t see eye-to-eye on things, Pops.”
Realizing the two men needed to talk, Dr. Norris excused herself to go and check on Buffy.
“Awfully brave of you, Rupes. Comin’ without your little band of Scooby protectors.”
“They wouldn’t tell me anything over the phone, and I didn’t want to worry them unnecessarily, you prat,” Giles fumed. “Where the hell were you and why didn’t you protect Buffy?”
“You right bastard,” Spike hissed. “Who the bloody hell was it that talked the Slayer into ditchin’ me from her patrol? Daft cow changed her route an’ it took me over an hour to find ‘er.” His anger deflated as he recalled the sight of the demons brutalizing the girl. “Like I’d listen to anything you wankers have to say. Slayer or not, eight Ognir require more’n one person to take ‘em out.”
Before the man could react to Spike’s revelation, the doors leading to the surgery wing opened, and Dr. Norris approached.
“I’m sorry gentlemen. Ms. Summers survived her surgeries, but has slipped into a coma. She’s not expected to survive.”