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New Chapter of Crazy Eights

An Ace in the Hole, in which Spike, Buffy, Willow and Xander attempt to gain entry to the mysterious Crazy Eights.


Crazy Eights – Chapter Five – An Ace in the Hole

About an hour after her phone call, the doorbell rang. Buffy roused herself and Spike, and they greeted Xander and Willow at the door.

Walking into the Summers home, the brunet sneered as he passed the vampire. “Losing your touch as the Big Bad, eh Spike? You look like a bunch of hippies ganged up on you and had a tie-dye festival with you as the head t-shirt.”

Before Spike could even open his mouth, a small blonde tornado had his tormenter shoved up against the wall.

“Shut it, Xander. Not one more word out of you,” she fumed. “I asked you here for your help because it’s important – not for you to harass Spike. You don’t like him, that’s your business, but he’s a guest in my home and you don’t get to treat him like garbage.”

“Whoa, Buffster,” he said, holding up his hands in mock-surrender. “What’s with the defending of the fair vampire’s honor routine? It’s not like I said anything that’ll hurt his widdle feelings.”

Releasing her hold on her friend’s shoulders, Buffy glanced surreptitiously over her shoulder at the silent vampire, who was busy looking at a very interesting spot on her carpet, then back to the annoyed man in front of her.

“Words don’t hurt, right? That’s what you’re saying?” she sneered. “Like all those words your father used to spew at you, right? Telling you how worthless you are, and what a waste of space and time and money you are. A drain on your parent’s resources, I think you once said.” Gathering steam, she continued. “Those words couldn’t possibly hurt anyone’s feelings, right?

“I never thought I’d have to say this, but I’m ashamed of you, Xander. You’re as big a bully as your father. There is absolutely no reason for you to keep this animosity up. I know Spike can give as good as he gets, but he’s been trying to let things slide. Can’t you do the same? For everyone’s sake?”

“But he’s a vampire, Buff. An evil, soulless Master Vampire who’d as soon rip our throats out as…”

“Xander, maybe you need to step back and let it go for now,” said Willow. “I mean, Buffy asked us here for a reason. She said it was important so maybe we should all focus on the problem, instead of your personal grudge against Spike.”

Grateful for the redhead’s interruption, Buffy forged ahead. “Thanks, Will. We do have a problem. The reason for Spike’s Technicolor complexion was a smash and bash ambush of about a dozen bouncer types from that new place, The Crazy Eights.”

Turning to Spike, she said, “As for you, my fine fanged friend – why didn’t you tell me this club is located in your old haunt?”

“Dunno, Slayer. S’not like we actually had time to talk about it before. Least we’ll not have trouble finding it.”

“Fine, then. From what Giles told me, this place is edging towards upscale, food and drink - main floor, games and whatever - downstairs and a mixed bag of patrons. Anything else you can recall about the place, Spike? Types of weapons we should be bringing to the party?”

“M’not sure about other entrances, but the main one is a metal detector, manned at all times. Means no blades. Have’ta be stakes all around.”

“Um, Spike?” ventured the nervous Wicca. “Just a thought, but do you think it’s the wisest thing to do? Go back to the place that had you attacked?”

“Probably not, Red. Just can’t let them get away with this. Made no sense to come at me for a soddin’ deck of playing cards, and leave the dosh in my pockets. Something’s up, and it needs lookin’ into.”

Glaring at Xander, he said, “You think you’re gonna be able to control your gob, whelp? Mostly not gonna be able to tell the demons from the humans here… and that hole of yours’ll put the Slayer in danger if it goes off at the wrong time.”

His jaw clenching in an attempt to stay in control, the irate brunet simply nodded.

“Guys, please. Can the pissing match and let’s get this show on the road,” said Buffy as she shepherded them all out of the house.

En route to the factory, the group encounted less than a handful of newly risen fledglings, dirt-stupid and easy stakings. Just enough to have all their senses honed and firing as they approached the building.

Xander grumbled, “This is the hottest place in town? Looks just as run down and boarded up as it always did. You sure you didn’t get hit in the head one time too many, Spike? Remember the wrong place?”

“Such an observant git, Harris. An’ how long did it take you and your lot to realize I had been holed up here? Not to mention how long the Annoying One and his minions were there before me’n Dru showed up.”

“Hey!” exclaimed Buffy, with a playful smack to the vampire’s shoulder. “I resent that, you… you vampire!

“Sorry, pet. You did find me, after all. ‘Course it did take you and Peaches and some serious Slayer dreams, if I recall. Anyway, there is a reason why the factory looks abandoned. Simple reason, right, Red?”

Giving the factory her full attention, Willow felt an odd tingle at the base of her neck – as if she could sense some serious magicks. “Aha! It’s a glamour. Someone’s cast a glamour to make it seem deserted.”

With a playful tap to her nose, Spike said, “Score one for the witch. Done this way to keep out the riff-raff. Entry is granted only when accompanied by a current patron. S’why, Red, I had no choice but to come back here. No way any of you would be allowed in without me. M’stamped for re-entry.”

Holding out his hand for examination, Buffy felt a small raised patch on the back, midway between knuckles and wrist.

“What did they do to you, Spike?” she hissed. “Stick a chip under your skin? Couldn’t they simply issue a card like every other club?” she asked, inexplicably angry at the invasion of his person.

“It’s the best way to avoid counterfeit, luv. Can’t copy what can’t be seen. Can’t lose what’s attached. ‘Course, trouble comes when they revoke your membership,” he said, a flicker of confusion crossing his face. “Makes me wonder why I still have m’hand.”

“No way, Buffster. No way I’m getting tagged like a dog. Bet that’s how they found him,” Xander spat.

“What makes you think you’d be offered a membership, you stupid git? You don’t just walk in an’ get accepted. A member has to propose you an’ there’s a screening interview…” Mid-sentence the angered vampire stopped his rant.

“Bloody hell!” he whispered, staggering under the implications running through his mind. “What if the whelp’s got a point? After the interview, they run the paper through a scanner, which pops out the soddin’ re-entry chips. They’re personally coded.”

Willow looked ill. “They track a person – Xander, you made an excellent analogy. It’s just like the chip vets use to track missing pets. But it’s got an added bonus for anyone who knows how to wield magicks. Starting with the glamour, I’d say they have a resident mage or witch.”

She closed her eyes at the scope of trouble the chips could mean. “Personal history and blood samples are what drive most spells and curses. If they cut you to insert that chip, they have the most powerful black magicks ingredient – an individual’s life force.”

Buffy picked up the stunned vampire’s hand, running her fingers over the raised skin. “We’ve got to get this chip out, Spike. No way this can be of the good. Multiply this by the entire chipped clientele of Crazy Eights, and there are far too many people and demons that can be used for very bad things.”

“Right with you there, luv. Just not yet – we have to get into the place, first. Hopefully avoid suspicion. Gonna be a hard sell, what with me bringing the Slayer and her chums in, but we’ll have to give it a go and hope for the best.”

“I can do the observy thing if I don’t get attacked first.” She pouted.

Spike felt his knees go weak at the sight of the petite blonde’s lower lip jutting out. “Oh, pet,” he murmured. “That pout’s gotta be illegal in at least five different countries. You use that as a weapon and you’ll have demons and humans fallin’ at your feet.”

Hazel eyes twinkling, she said, “Aw, Spike – I bet you say that to all the Slayers.”

“Ouch,” yelled Xander, glaring angrily at his best friend. “I wasn’t gonna say anything.” She’d kicked him in the calf, hoping to forestall the fireworks she could see building at the increasingly affectionate banter taking place between the two blonds.

“Yuh huh,” Willow smirked, knowing she’d gotten her point across.

“Okay you guys, it’s time to make our grand entrance. We’re gonna have to follow Spike’s lead here,” Buffy said, staring intently at Xander; daring him to comment.

Taking point, the vampire led them to the door and waved his hand under a small light. The door opened to a small, well lit reception area, where they were greeted by a strikingly attractive woman in an emerald green sequined halter gown. Six feet tall if she was an inch, raven black hair falling in loose ringlets down her bared back and shoulders, black leopard spots dotting her tawny gold skin and a most beautiful pair of deep violet cat’s eyes set in a broad boned face.

“Ssspike,” she purred. “Sssurprised to see you back so soon. I sssee you brought us company this time.”

“’Lo, Ailuros. Yeah, just showing m’friends a night out. There goin’ t’be a problem issuing guest passes?”

“Just keep a close eye on them, and watch your back, Ssspike. Ssseems you’ve upset a couple of the big bosses. I don’t want a repeat of what happened,” Ailuros whispered. “Especially when you bring the Ssslayer into the house.”

Walking to the receptionist, Buffy said, “I’m not here to cause trouble. Just out for a night of food and fun. Just gonna be Buffy for the evening.”

Handing a small gold circlet to the Slayer and her companions, Ailuros said, “Pleassse pin these prominently on your clothing, and follow me.” Walking to the door, hips swaying and tail twitching, she had the rapt attention of all as she led the way to the inner sanctum.

Beta'd as usual by the delightful willa_writes. Enjoy!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
evilmaniclaugh
Mar. 8th, 2004 12:05 pm (UTC)
I loved it.

Thanks so much for posting it.

I'm amazed at how spot on perfect your Xander is for season 5/6 Buffy...yes I had the urge to thump him... yet in All Roads you've a discovered a grown up Xander that I absolutely adore.

I didn't spot one tiny error let alone any glaring ones.
spikes_heart
Mar. 8th, 2004 12:25 pm (UTC)
So glad to see you're recognizing the differences in the same characters. Means I'm getting my point across. Yay, me! I'm working hard to improve my writing style, so I'm always looking for constructive criticism. Glad you found nothing overtly wrong. Willa is my technician for grammar.
evilmaniclaugh
Mar. 8th, 2004 03:10 pm (UTC)
Go do the clever characterisation thing and write me more coz the plot is intiguing me lots.

Dunno what I'm writing anymore.

Going to bed.

*waves*
snowpuppies
Mar. 8th, 2004 12:10 pm (UTC)
Happiness!!

So Glad Xander got told exactly where to put it. He needed that. ;o)

And cute flirty Spuffy....awwwww....

::sigh::
::gag::
::sigh::


*smirk*
spikes_heart
Mar. 8th, 2004 12:26 pm (UTC)
**snickers** Yeah, he needed telling off. The other? Well, suffer (and enjoy).
snowpuppies
Mar. 8th, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh! you wound me!
::clutches chest dramatically::

::wink::
poetlover
Mar. 8th, 2004 04:08 pm (UTC)
Ooh, very good. Can't wait to read more. Thanks.
spikes_heart
Mar. 8th, 2004 06:30 pm (UTC)
Soon, soon, pet - don't fret. This one worked out nicely, I think. Not sure where the next one is gonna wind up. Glad you're still enjoying.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )