DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from The Doors’ song, “Queen of the Highway.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy went and gave the ring to Ethan, who told her not to worry about the Englishman and go out and have a good time; Spike witnesses Buffy at the club, only to see her get taken and cornered by Javier at its rear…

*************

Chapter 3: Dance Into the Midnight Whirlpool

She wasn’t the first Slayer he’d ever seen in a fight. She wasn’t even the second. Little Miss Rogue Summers was Spike’s fourth Slayer he’d witnessed up close and personal, though so far, she was rating the most entertaining. By far.

The first had been the Chinese bird, but Spike had been too caught up in the thrill of fighting a Slayer to realize just how easy that victory had been until much later.

Then, there’d been New York. It was impossible not to remember the deadly beauty of that one without getting a raging hard-on, and for a long time afterward, Spike had wandered dissatisfied from kill to kill, constantly comparing each fight with that of Nikki Wood’s. Everything paled in comparison.

The third had sought him out, cornering him and Dru in Prague. He’d been packing up, making the arrangements necessary to head out to California where he’d heard Angelus was currently lurking, when the Jamaican girl had taken Dru by surprise. His dark princess had been dust before he could get to her in time.

Spike made up for Dru’s loss by torturing the bitch Slayer for hours. And still, it hadn’t been enough.

Now, here was the fourth. Buffy Summers. Sanctioned for death by the bloody Council itself. He still didn’t get how this one had slipped under their radar for so long, but that curiosity only intrigued Spike all the further. She was the black sheep in their band of do-gooders, a rare prize indeed. He craved the status of this kill almost as much as he wanted the money the Council was doling out for the job. This soon-to-be-dead Slayer was going to be the best of the lot.

The only thing was…if he didn’t do something quick here, he’d end up losing both her and all the glory that went with it.

The Slayer’s struggles were amusing the congregated vampires, and they goaded Javier to tease the bitch more, raucous words mingling with their rough laughter. The noise filled the back alleyway, providing Spike with the camouflage he needed to break off a slat from an empty crate without being heard. His narrowed eyes shrewdly weighed his opponents, flickering from one to the next as he picked out the strongest of those he could take first. With his decision made, he leapt toward the circle.

Two were dead before anyone could react, the dust swirling unsettled in the air as Spike turned toward his third victim. Javier seemed the most surprised of the lot, but the Slayer took advantage of the sudden chaos to break free from the stranglehold in which she’d been imprisoned, her head snapping backward against the bartender’s with a definite crack. Secretly, Spike smiled. It was almost a shame he had to kill this girl. She’d make an excellent vampire to keep around for a fight.

Her advantage didn’t last long. Whatever drug they’d used to sap her strength slowed her reflexes as well, and it was only moments before she was locked again in a different vampire’s powerful grip. Spike had already managed to dust another three of the demons, but blood was running from a cut above his eye, and the remaining vamps were turning against him en masse. He was good, but he realized that even that might not be enough to walk away from these particular odds with both his skin and the Slayer intact. It was time for him to stop thinking about beating the lot and, instead, getting the hell away from Dodge.

Leaping into the air, he dove over the advancing group to face off with the small Slayer and her captor. Her make-up was smudged, her eyeliner creating darker hollows than she naturally sported, but the eyes that met Spike’s gleamed brightly with intelligence. Nothing was said; nothing needed to be. The tacit understanding passed between them and they moved with a choreographed synchronicity that would’ve been eerie if Spike had had a few moments to consider it.

She ducked at the same time his fist slammed forward into the vampire’s jaw. The impact sent the other demon flying against the back wall of the nightclub, but Spike didn’t stick around to see him crumple into unconsciousness. Grabbing the Slayer’s wrist, he pulled her against his chest as he rolled out of the way of the vampires he could feel ready to pounce behind him.

Her heart was thudding against his skin, and all Spike could smell was the fresh scent of her blood where the dive had grazed her arm. Though his mouth was watering, he tamped down the desire to kill her then and there, bringing his lips to her ear to murmur, “Get ready to run, pet.”

They moved together, like liquid silver running down the steepest incline, his grip tight around her wrist as they made a break for it. The surprised vampires took a moment too long to respond, and the pair was already on the street before the others had entered the alleyway. Spike didn’t falter. He just guided the Slayer to the left and around the corner where he’d left the DeSoto.

She never said a word. Not even when he shoved her across the seat to the passenger side and slid in behind her. They were two blocks away before she even turned her head to look at him.

“Thanks,” she said. Her voice was rough, not from imminent tears but from the release of the adrenaline that he could practically feel seeping from her skin. Spike stole a glance at her out of the corner of his eye. Sweat covered the smooth curves of her neck and cleavage in a filmy sheen, and his hard-on returned with a vengeance at the illicit promise it offered. Rather than hide it, though, he shifted in his seat so that his coat fell open, the bulge in his jeans all too obvious if she chose to take a gander at it.

“For bein’ a Slayer, you don’t seem too fussed about hitching a ride with a vampire,” he said casually.

She shrugged, and her eyes shifted to watch the passing scenery out her window. “You got me out of there,” she said. “I figure Ethan probably sent you to keep an eye on me.”

“You figure wrong, luv. I don’t know who the fuck Ethan is.”

“Then how do you know I’m a Slayer?”

He had to give her credit. She wasn’t ruffling. She talked as if they were just two acquaintances who happened to run into each other on the train. His respect for her grew.

“Know more than that.”

But it didn’t draw anything more from her. As Spike sped through the streets of Los Angeles, all the Slayer could do was stare out her window and play with the ring that adorned her slim finger.

The silence was driving him mad.

“Not even goin’ to ask where we’re goin’?” he asked.

Another shrug. “I’ll know when we get there, won’t I?” she replied. “What’s the point of asking the question if it’s not going to change the result?”

Her answer wasn’t what Spike had been expecting. There was a complacency to it that countered the spontaneity he’d witnessed earlier that night, like something inside her had been switched off. Even if he had saved her, he certainly wouldn’t have thought she’d come along with him so willingly. She should’ve fought. She should’ve lashed out. She would’ve lost, but still, she should’ve at least tried.

This wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted the passionate warrior who’d made him hard with her first swing. He wanted the wild abandon that had spurred her into ripping through the two Fyarls. He wanted the Slayer.

He wasn’t too sure who it was sitting next to him at the moment.

With a yank of the wheel, Spike steered the DeSoto into a dark side street, killing the engine before he’d come to a stop.

“What the…?” the Slayer started to say, but it ended in a squeak when he grabbed her wrist and dragged her from the car.

She stumbled to the ground, her fingers splaying against the concrete as she steadied herself. The dark gleam of the stone in her ring---it was obsidian, Spike realized, odd choice for a California bird---caught the sickly light from the streetlamp, sending tiny shards of shadows dancing along the sidewalk, and all too quickly, she curled her fingers back, almost as if she wanted to protect them.

His eyes narrowed.

Or, as if she wanted to protect the ring.

“What the hell is your damage?” the Slayer spat out.

Her anger was returning and, with it, some of the fire he’d seen in her earlier. With a grin twisting his lips, Spike kicked her in the gut, not so hard as to actually hurt---much---but enough to let her know he meant business.

“Just wondering what happened to kitten’s claws,” he drawled, prowling around her as she rose to her feet. “Don’t tell me you’ve lost sight of the whole rhyme and reason for your existence, pet. I know I’m good-looking and all, but I thought you were a tad smarter than that. Pity I was wrong.”

He ducked the blow she shot at his head, dancing beyond her reach with a laugh. “Not even close to your best, I’ll wager.” Another swing from her sent him sliding behind the Slayer, and Spike closed the gap to shove her face-first into the building. His erection pressed firmly into her ass, and while she squirmed to get away, he held her fast.

“Wanna tell me what’s so special about this little trinket?” he asked, curling his fingers around her wrist to flatten her palm against the wall. Holding her still with his body, he reached up to grasp the ring, the metal cool to his touch.

“Don’t touch that!” There was no mistaking the warning in her tone, and though she increased her attempts to break free, the drugs Javier had used to weaken the Slayer still coursed through her system.

“Word of advice,” Spike said, leaning closer in order to murmur the next directly into her ear. “Never tell me not to do something.” With a clean jerk, he pulled the ring from her finger.

*************

It felt like someone had sliced her in half.

The cool blast of air against her bare finger did nothing to quench the fire that suddenly blazed inside Buffy’s head, and she squeezed her eyes shut in a desperate attempt to stave off the worst of the flames. Images…sensations…scents and sounds and touches and everything leapt and crescendoed all around her, blocking out the very real feel of the vampire pressed into her back, leaving her floundering to discern what was true and what was fabrication.

Ethan. Hovering over her with worry in his eyes, telling her how he’d thought he’d lost her, how she’d died and how he’d fought to save her. Telling how she was all alone in the world now, how she only had him.

Cities, too many to count. Blurring into one long dark road lined with pale streetlights, the concrete stained with the blood she spilled on her nightly patrols. They always seemed cold, even when it was the height of summer. Loneliness was a stinging master.

Ethan again. Always Ethan. Guiding her. Teaching her. Professing that he was the only one who cared about her, the only one who would be there for her, and all she had to do was do as he asked on the odd occasion. Blinding Buffy to the wrongness of some of the tasks he asked of her. Making her not care. Making her care too much.

Demons and people and screams and sobs and it all led back to her, to what she did, to the death she created in her hands, to the Watcher who swore to her that none of it mattered. The only thing that mattered was them. Them against the world. He was her world. He told her that all the time. And she believed him. She didn’t have any other choice.

Buffy’s eyes shot open, wide and unseeing, as her most recent encounter with Ethan came flooding back. Her throat constricted. She could still feel the velvety steel of his cock in her palm, could remember how badly she’d wanted to please him. Was that what she really wanted? The tightness of her throat told her no.

What had Ethan done to her?

Stripped her of her ability to choose, that’s what. He’d stolen the only power that was truly hers, and then made her think that it was all about the two of them. Flipping the world the bird while they fought the good fight and then did exactly as they pleased anyway. She’d loved him, or…she’d thought she’d loved him, and all along, he’d been deluding her. It was all a big, fat lie.

Her life. None of it was real. None of it was hers. It was just one big puppet show with Ethan holding all the strings.

A torn whimper escaped her lips. She didn’t want to have to think about it, didn’t want to remember the falseness of every word he’d ever said to her, every touch he’d ever offered. But even now, the cascade of memories refused to quell, and Buffy wondered if she’d ever be able to obliterate them.

Then, she felt the hard body of the vampire pressed into her back. His hips were positioned strategically against hers, the long length of his arousal unmistakable where it nestled between the cheeks of her bottom. Was this why he had saved her at the nightclub? she wondered, but then decided it didn’t matter. What mattered was that she was still alive, and that regardless of whatever had happened to her before, Buffy could now make her own choices. She could choose to act on whatever desires she might have.

But the desire that was currently strongest was not one she could fulfill on her own.

Her eyes fluttered shut again, her heart in her throat. She couldn’t look at him for this; it killed her to have to be in such a position of weakness. The coarse brick of the wall pressed into her cheek as Buffy murmured the two words that had always been the hardest for her to utter.

“Help me.”

Behind her, the vampire stiffened, distancing from her just enough to leave her flesh suddenly cold. Something inside Buffy protested from the lack of contact, and she used his confusion to her advantage, twisting in his arms to face him directly.

Dark blue eyes gazed down at her in bewilderment. “Help you…what?” he asked carefully.

He hadn’t said no. That’s all she cared about.

“Forget,” she breathed.

All she could hear was the sound of her heartbeat pounding in her ears. This was impossible without his agreement; even if he was a vampire, Buffy wasn’t about to do to him what Ethan had done to her. She could only wait to see what his reply would be.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Just as it had occurred behind La Muerte Pequeña, an unspoken understanding passed between them. They moved together, mouths fusing in a scalding tangle. He surprised her by releasing his hold on her wrists, giving her the freedom to twine her fingers in the hair at his nape. From there, it took only seconds for the vamp to growl deep in his throat, and then push her back against the building.

He used the wall for leverage as his hands began a violent exploration of her curves. Everywhere he touched, her skin burned, and Buffy tightened her hold, tangling her tongue with his, lifting her legs to wrap them around his slim hips. The brick scraped across her lower back, but Buffy didn’t care. All she wanted was the feel of his cool hands to erase the heated memories of Ethan’s.

“So bloody beautiful,” she heard him mutter when their mouths finally parted. Before she could comment, the air was sucked from her lungs when one of his powerful hands slithered between their torsos to pinch and twist at her hardened nipples. “Been wantin’ this…”

But she didn’t want to hear the rest. Pulling his mouth back to hers in another demanding kiss, Buffy ground against the hard denim separating their hips, the wetness of her pussy seeping through her underwear. The friction wasn’t enough. Reaching down, she tugged at the button of his jeans until it parted, then slid her fingers inside to find his rigid shaft.

He groaned when she squeezed along his length. Tearing his lips away again, he trailed a path along her jaw to the sinew of her neck, sinking blunt teeth into the tender flesh he found there. Buffy jumped at the harsh contact, but it only spurred her to tighten her grip, attempting to guide the head of his cock past the elastic edges of her panties.

“Sod this,” the vampire muttered. The next thing she knew, her underwear was fluttering to the ground and his cock was driving into her pussy, plunging balls deep with a single thrust that made her scream.

He didn’t wait for her to adjust to his size. Almost immediately, he began pistoning in and out, his speed in no way countering the depth of his strokes as he pounded against her clit over and over and over again. Buffy wrapped her arms around his shoulders, holding on with all the strength she had left, lost in the waves of pleasure wracking her body, and not once did the thought cross her mind that she was in any danger. All she could consider was the oblivion the rapture offered her.

She came more than once, each time more vivid than the last. Shudders made her shake within his arms, but he never loosened his hold on her, keeping her safely pinned against his chest even as he maintained his steady thrusting rhythm. At one point, Buffy thought she heard him murmur some endearment, but blamed it on the euphoria intoxicating her body, dismissing it as an aberration of the moment.

His orgasm came with a roar. Caught in the paroxysms of her third, she was barely aware when his features shifted, his fangs elongating. She only became aware of them when they sank into her neck, the pain mingling with her pleasure to bring her crashing through another orgasm.

But she didn’t have to stop him. He did that on his own.

Her hands were curled into his back, digging into the leather of his duster when she felt him withdraw. Already dizzy, the last thing she expected was for him to return his lips to hers, but he did, this time kissing her with a hungry indolence that belied the ferocity of their fucking. No fangs now. No force. Just two beings clinging to the other in glistening aftermath.

Buffy’s legs unfurled from around his hips, his now semi-erect cock slipping from her wet depths. Her eyes locked with his as he stepped away, and she caught the faint tremor in his hands as he reached down to tuck himself back inside his jeans.

“Did it work?” he said with a curious tilt of his head.

The memory of what he was asking made her shiver. “No,” Buffy admitted.

His hands froze. “Does that mean we keep going at it until it does?”

The smugness of his words contradicted the hopeful gleam in his eyes. It was disconcerting, and Buffy hugged her arms close to her body, trying to fend off the encroaching tremors. “Why’d you take off my ring?” she said instead, changing the subject while she still had the power to do so.

“Because you didn’t want me to. Why didn’t you try staking me?”

“You saved my life.”

“Maybe I did that ‘cause I wanted you for myself.”

“Well, I’d say you got me, wouldn’t you?”

He surprised her by grinning. “I think I could start to like you, Summers,” he said. He finished buttoning himself up, and then bent to pick something up from the ground. Only when it was already in his fingers did she realize that it was her ring. “You goin’ to share what this actually was?”

The black stone---obsidian, Ethan had told her it was, and she swallowed down the bile that rose in her throat at the memory of getting the ring from him so many years ago---shone even in the dim light of the street. “I think…” she started, and the shaking that had already threatened her once drove her to her knees, her palms flat to the ground as she struggled to recapture her composure.

She felt him crouch at her side. “You think what?” he prompted. A tentative hand touched her shoulder.

Words failed her. Only one managed to slip past her shaky resolve.

“Ethan.”

*************

His usual resources were failing him. Nobody knew anything about the Council being in town, or of any wayward Englishman searching for the Slayer. Ethan was just about to call it a night, ready to accept the explanation he’d offered Buffy, when he decided to check with Javier on the off-chance that he might have seen something. Normally, he didn’t care for dealing with the vampires directly; that was one reason why he kept Buffy around. This time, though, there was no escaping the necessity.

He approached the nightclub warily, the prickle of something he couldn’t quite put his finger on raising the hair on the back of his neck. Twenty feet from the entrance, Ethan stopped, eyes narrowing as they scanned the darkness. He could almost feel it. Not the demon owners, but something else. Something…familiar.

The force of being slammed into the nearby wall drove the air from his lungs, and he winced as whoever it was twisted his arm painfully behind his back. “If you want money,” Ethan rasped, “my wallet’s---.”

“You fucking bastard. I should’ve known.”

No wonder it had felt familiar. Ethan almost smiled when his attacker wrenched his arm even more tightly. It was good to know some things never changed.

“Hello, Ripper,” he said. “Long time no see.”

 

To be continued in Chapter 4: Faces Come Out of the Rain