Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

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Life In Shadow Chapter 6 Part One - revised!

Here at long last is Chapter 6 of my Spike-Tara epic "Life in Shadow", 9 months after I last updated.

I was so eager to get this written and posted so that I could get over the block and continue the story that I took major short-cuts in the first version of this story, but it didn't work out well at all; I wasn't altogether happy with the result, and after I read some of the Comments I realised that my readers were being short-changed. I re-wrote the entire chapter and replaced it with a much longer - and, I belived, much better - version. This is the re-write, now posted in two parts because it would be too long for LiveJournal in one go.

If some of the Comments don't seem to tally with what you read in the story, that's why. Hope you like this version.

Earlier chapters are in Memories HERE.

The summary is very simple; “What if Tara was a Vampire Slayer? And straight?”

The rating might head off towards ‘R’ eventually, but for now is probably around PG-13 or so.

This part is 4,270 words.

Life in Shadow

Chapter Six: The Sounds of Silence - Part One

The cold light of day. No more rosy glow. No spell. No barrier between her and the undeniable fact that her beloved was a vampire, an Undead monster, a drinker of blood, the Slayer of Slayers. ‘He’s reformed’, she reminded herself, but the sensible, down to earth, side of herself answered. ‘He’s restrained by an electronic device. If it stopped working he’d be ripping out people’s throats again. Remember him feeding on that other vampire? And complaining about the second-hand blood? No good will come of this, mark my words.’ ‘He loves me. He said that he could put up with animal blood if it meant having me.’ ‘That was while he was under the influence of the spell. He’s possessive of you without it, that’s all. You’re plain, your ears stick out, your hips are too big; he can’t really love you.’

By the time class finished she’d managed to convince herself that it couldn’t be real.

* * * * * *

‘Pussy-whipped, that’s what you are, mate. The chit starts blubbing and you cave. Huh. Supposed to be the Big Bad here. Vampire, remember? Creature of the night. No rules, no restrictions, do what you will. Sodding chip in your head won’t let you harm humans so you turn into their bleeding lap-dog. It’s a bloody disgrace.’

Spike tossed and turned atop Giles’ bed. He was acutely embarrassed by the previous night’s events. Pleased too, at least a little; Buffy having been willing to risk a bullet on his behalf was hugely significant. He’d never kill her now. Although, that was something else to be embarrassed about. Saved by Buffy, snogged by Tara. Bleeding hell, engaged to Tara! Just didn’t seem right for the Slayer of Slayers. He began to feel resentful. Trapped; more so than at any time since he’d been captured and the gadget implanted in his head.

And being pussy-whipped could have its compensations; but he wasn’t getting any pussy.

* * * * * *

“How are you getting on with making Harmony’s lair habitable?” Giles asked.

“Eager to get rid of me, then? More or less done. Could be gone tomorrow if you want, no bother,” Spike replied.

“It would be very helpful if you could. I have a friend coming to stay for a few days, and your presence would be rather awkward.” Giles cleared his throat. “I’m not especially eager to get rid of you otherwise. I’ve found your company surprisingly tolerable, and you will remain welcome to come round and view the remainder of the videos. As long as it’s not at too inconvenient a time, of course.”

“Oh. Ta very much, mate.” Spike was rather touched by the offer. He’d expected something more on the lines of ‘and never darken my door again’. “Fancy a cuppa?”

“That would be very nice, thank you.”

Spike bustled round the kitchenette making tea. A thought struck him as he was warming the pot. “You’ve only got one bed, and I can’t see you putting a guest up on the couch or hot-bedding like I’ve been doing. This friend of yours a bird, then?”

“Umm, yes,” Giles admitted, cringing in anticipation of the sarcastic comments from Spike that were bound to follow.

Instead, Spike just nodded and continued to make the tea. “She know about the vampires and Slayer stuff?”

“Umm, no, actually,” Giles confessed.

“I’d better make sure I clear all my blood out of the fridge, then,” Spike said, and then dropped the topic. He couldn’t be bothered to tease the Watcher. Good luck to the old geezer, in fact. He wasn’t half bad, really, and deserved to get his leg over for a change.

* * * * * *

“I d-don’t – I think we w-were a little hasty about the m-marriage thing,” Tara stammered.

“Yeah, got to say it didn’t make a lot of sense,” Spike agreed immediately. Loving a human was one thing, actually marrying one quite another. Load of fuss and nonsense, just to get a bit of paper that said what was bloody obvious anyway.

“W-we should t-take things slow,” Tara went on. She was a little hurt that Spike had agreed so quickly, but it was what she had expected.

“S’pose so,” Spike said. He was eager to get to the shagging stage, but he could understand why Tara might be nervous.

“W-we hardly know each other,” Tara continued. “It’s not as if w-we’ve even been dating.”

“Not as such, no,” Spike agreed. He frowned. This was beginning to sound as if Tara was trying to back out of the relationship altogether. So, it had all been down to the witch’s bloody stupid spell. Well, if that was the way she was going to be about it, she could bloody suit herself. He wasn’t going to let her know how much it mattered. Been humiliating enough the way he’d jumped to the bait when she’d dropped that line about getting another boyfriend. If she wanted him pussy-whipped she could bloody offer him some cream. “Back to just patrolling together and training then, Mighty Mouse?”

Tara turned away from him to hide her trembling lip. She’d been right, it had been just the spell. He did want to be just friends. She was plain and unsexy and she’d never be good enough for someone so dashing and handsome. But she did have some pride left. “I think so,” she said, although it wasn’t what she’d intended to say at all. She’d been going to suggest that they dated properly, but he obviously didn’t want that. “I c-can’t make it every night, I’ve got class work, m-maybe three nights a w-w-week?”

Spike’s frown grew deeper. What had happened to him helping her with her homework? Was she trying to push him away altogether? Had someone been getting at her about the relationship, persuading her that it was wrong? Was the Watcher being bloody hypocritical, all nice as ninepence to his face but getting at him behind his back? Or the other bloody Slayer? Or the witch? “Suit yourself,” he grunted. “Got a decent set-up here now, I can manage by myself. No reason to see you more than I have to.”

Tara flinched at his callous words, but she was still turned away and he didn’t see her reaction. “F-fine. I’ll see you w-when Giles’ friend has gone.” She managed to gain control of her expression and turned towards him.

Spike lit up a cigarette to cover his own hurt. “Yeah, right,” he said, and deliberately blew a plume of smoke towards her. “Don’t let the door slam on your way out.”

Ten seconds after Tara left Spike was in game face, shredding the one solitary soft toy left over from Harmony’s occupation, still in good condition, that Willow, for some incomprehensible reason, had insisted that he keep. “Bitch!” he snarled. “Vampire not sodding good enough for you? Got me whipped and now you dump me? Teach you that I’m not to be fucking messed around! ‘M not a tame vampire! And ’m not fucking crying!”

Tara made it all the way back to her dorm room before she burst into tears.

* * * * * *

The three girls walked together through the campus. Willow finished her rant about the general uselessness of the college Wicca group, and turned the conversation to her companions’ love lives. Buffy lamented the strain that her Slayerhood was putting on the tentative process of starting up a relationship with the handsome TA Riley Finn.

“Yeah, kinda tough, Buff, but you’ll get through it,” Willow assured her. “At least Tara doesn’t have that problem. Things still going great for you, Tara?”

“No,” Tara said sadly. “He – he dumped me.” Tears began to well up in her eyes.

“What?” Willow and Buffy exclaimed simultaneously.

“He d-dumped me,” Tara repeated. “He doesn’t w-w-w-w-want to see me any m-m-more.”

“I don’t believe it,” Willow said. “Okay, Spike’s evil, but he’s not a poop-head. Gotta just be a misunderstanding.”

“No, he said there was no reason to see each other m-m-more than w-we had to,” Tara lamented. “He doesn’t even w-w-w-want to patrol with me.”

“What a jerk!” Buffy said. “Well, I gotta say that’s a surprise. I thought he was really into you.”

“It’s my fault,” Willow said. “I screwed everything up with that spell. Took things too far too fast. Hey, if he’s pulling back a bit, it’s no big deal, really. He is into you. I know, ‘cause of what he said when I came on to him. Only, it’s a big move from being into somebody to being ready to marry them, and I guess he just needs a breather. Not that he breathes, but, whatever. Just give him a little time and he’ll be all with the wanting to be with you all the time again. Except when he’s wanting to watch British TV shows with Giles, that is.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tara said.

“Of course I’m right,” Willow said confidently. “Okay, I can be dumb about things sometimes, but not this time. He’s definitely all big with the Tara-love. Let him mope around by himself for a few days and he’ll be crawling back to you. And, if he doesn’t, I’ll put on Resolve Face and give him a good talking to.”

Buffy frowned. “That might do more harm than good, Will. He’s one stubborn vampire.”

“Okay, no talk. But trust me on this, Tara. Spike is still your fluffy puppy at heart.”

* * * * * *

“Nice fresh human, full of luscious blood,” Spike rhapsodized. “Has to be in good condition. Don’t want any second-hand stuff. Understand?”

“Yes, Master Spike,” the weaker vampire grovelled. “I shall bring you a fine specimen. I swear it.”

“See that you do,” Spike growled. “Otherwise I’ll rip out your sodding eyeballs and stuff them back in the wrong way round. Go on, then, what are you bloody waiting for?”

The vampire backed away bowing and scraping. “I will be back in two hours, as you command. I exist only to serve you.”

“You exist only while you bloody serve me, and don’t you forget it. Now, scat!”

* * * * * *

Giles pored over reference works. Buffy and Tara had both had a Slayer dream that day that no doubt contained dire portents. The dream had not seemed particularly threatening to either girl, featuring as it did a little girl holding an ornate box and reciting a doggerel rhyme, and only the appearance of an ominous figure at the end of the dream had given it a sinister air. The words of the rhyme had been somewhat disturbing, however, at least in Giles’ view.

Both girls seemed more preoccupied with matters of the heart than with their sacred duty; however dire portents were par for the course when it came to Slayer dreams and so Giles had felt compelled to take them seriously. He had drawn a blank with his usual sources, and had only started making progress when he turned to works that were usually dismissed as allegory or sheer fantasy.

It had taken hours. If Olivia hadn’t missed the shuttle flight from LAX, and called to say that she would be taking the bus, he wouldn’t have got anywhere at all. As it was, all he had was expansions on the doggerel, and he could make neither head nor tail of it. No doubt it would become clear in time; in hindsight, probably, such was the way with prophecies and Slayer dreams more often than not.

“They need to take seven,” Giles muttered to himself. “Yes, quite, but seven what? Dwarfs? Golden vampires? Brides for seven brothers?” He fidgeted with his glasses. That was a disturbingly plausible hypothesis; demonic figures arriving in town to abduct seven women as brides, or as sacrifices, would not be all that remarkable by Sunnydale standards. He shuddered. He really should have gone to the bus station to meet Olivia; insisting that she take a taxi might not have been good enough.

Even as the thought crossed his mind, however, the doorbell rang. It was Olivia, safe and sound, if very late. She was tired, and eager to go to bed as soon as possible; although sleep was not her first priority, and Giles had the most enjoyable night that he had had in an extremely long time.

When the silence fell over the town at one a.m. Giles didn’t notice, as he was peacefully sleeping the sleep of the thoroughly shagged.

* * * * * *

“Come on, you berk,” Spike muttered to himself. “Where the hell are you?” His new minion was very late, and Spike was getting fed up of waiting. He had set up a rendezvous well away from his new lair, as he wanted no trace of his illicit activities left anywhere the Scoobies might find them, and he didn’t want the minion to know where he lived. Clever, and logical, but it meant that he had absolutely nothing to do while he waited.

In the distance the town hall clock chimed one. Spike lit up a cigarette. Of course that would be when the minion showed up. Not alone; another vampire accompanied him. They had a captive, a woman probably in her mid twenties, struggling ineffectually in their grasp. They dragged her along between them towards the rendezvous point where she would meet her bloody end. Spike wondered briefly if she had a boyfriend, a husband, even children, who would miss her; but then he dismissed the thought as irrelevant. She wasn’t Willow, wasn’t Anya – and obviously wasn’t Tara or Buffy, as the vampires were doing the dragging rather than being dragged – and was full of delicious and nourishing human blood. That was all that mattered.

He blew out a long plume of white smoke. A very long plume, surprising him slightly; he must have taken an exceptionally deep drag on the cigarette while being distracted by that stupid and meaningless speculation. The trivial thought stayed in his mind for only seconds before being forgotten. He tossed away the cigarette and stepped out into the open to meet the vampires.

They halted when they saw him. The one who he had battered into minionhood opened and closed its mouth a few times, but didn’t say anything. Spike glared at them. He’d expected at least an explanation of why another vampire had come along, although he would guess that it was a volunteer minion recruited to assist with the capture and transportation of the human. It wasn’t an urgent matter; feeding could come first.

“Cut the human’s throat and chuck her over here,” Spike ordered. Or tried to; no sound emerged from his lips at all.

Spike coughed to clear his throat and tried again. “Cut the woman’s throat,” he tried to say, but again there was silence. “Kill the human!” he yelled at the top of his voice. Not a single decibel came forth.

The two vampires looked at him with confusion written all over their faces. Their mouths opened and closed, their lips worked furiously, but all was silence. One of them had its hand clamped over the woman’s mouth; the grip slipped, her mouth came free, and it opened wide as she screamed. Silently.

Spike gritted his teeth in frustration. He tried to mime the actions of cutting the woman’s throat and passing him her bleeding body, but the lesser vampires just looked at him blankly. He clenched his fists and advanced towards them; they looked alarmed and backed away. One of them struck the woman across the back of her neck and knocked her to her knees, released her, and then jumped towards Spike with fangs bared. The other followed a second later.

Spike was taken aback for an instant. He didn’t know if this was a planned attack, and the reason for the second vampire being there, or if it was because they had misinterpreted his gestures and his advance. Either way there was only one possible response, in the absence of any means of communication, and that was to defend himself violently.

Well, violent defence was something at which Spike excelled. He met the first one’s attack with a kick to the stomach and halted the vampire in its tracks. The other vampire came in from Spike’s left and swung a right-handed punch. A gift to a left-handed jiu-jitsu fighter. It was so easy that Spike almost groaned at the lack of challenge. He caught the arm and pulled with the punch, controlling it, and guided it straight into the face of the first vampire.

The vampire in Spike’s grasp opened its mouth and tried to say something. A curse, perhaps, or an apology to its companion for the punch that had knocked it to the ground; Spike wasn’t interested enough to regret not being able to hear the words, although they might possibly have been amusing. It was frustrating not being able to taunt his inept opponents, took some of the fun out of the fight, and so Spike decided to end it quickly. He kicked the legs out from under his captive, pulled the arm straight and twisted it around, put his foot into the vampire’s armpit to pin it, and snapped the arm in two places. The resulting silent scream was distinctly unsatisfying.

Spike released the broken arm, drew a stake from his coat pocket, and jumped to meet the other vampire as it scrambled to its feet. He thrust smoothly and precisely to the heart, withdrew the stake quickly, and stepped back from the explosion of dust. He turned back to the injured vampire, grabbed it by the collar and jerked it upright, and drove home his stake.

The woman rose from her knees and stood, wobbling slightly, and mouthed at Spike. It was a fair guess that she was thanking him for rescuing her, although she might have been expressing confusion at the disappearance of her attackers into clouds of dust, or wanting an explanation of her inability to talk. Hell, for all Spike knew to the contrary, she could have been asking him to name his favourite Muppet.

“Don’t mention it, pet,” Spike told her silently. Not that she was mentioning it anyway, at least in any way that he could understand. The woman stumbled towards Spike and wrapped her arms around him. There was more inaudible talk. She might have been saying ‘My hero, take me now!’, and Spike was pissed off enough at Tara and at the failure of his plan to get around the chip’s restriction to have taken her up on it, but he had no way of knowing if that was indeed what she meant. He smiled and nodded his head, and gestured in the direction of the town’s lights, and she released her grip on his body but hung on to his arm.

Spike led the woman back towards human habitation, seething inwardly with frustration the whole way, but forcing himself to keep a reassuring smile on his face. She kept hold of his arm as they walked together. Once back onto the streets she took charge of their direction and led him to what was obviously her home. She gestured for him to come inside; perhaps she wanted to reward him with money, or with hot chocolate and little marshmallows, or with sex. Whatever she had in mind would probably have been worth having; but he couldn’t take advantage of it. A gestured invitation wasn’t sufficient to overcome the mystical barrier that prevented vampires from entering private houses. All Spike could do was to gently disengage his arm from her grasp, smile and bow, and sweep away into the night as if he were some poncy brooding cloaked avenger git that he could mention.

Bugger, bugger, and thrice bugger.

* * * * * *

The next morning everyone in the town awoke to find themselves totally unable to talk, shout, scream, whisper, or indeed utter any vocal sound whatsoever. Confusion reigned.

The Scoobies gathered at Giles’ apartment for an emergency meeting. Tara brought along a pencil and a large sketchpad. Buffy and Willow had encountered an opportunistic street trader selling wipeable message boards and marker pens, and had purchased one each. With the aid of those, and Giles’ notebook, they managed to communicate to some extent. However the laborious nature of the discussion hindered the flow of ideas and they failed to make much progress.

A TV news broadcast let them know that the problem was restricted to Sunnydale, that it had been blamed on an outbreak of virulent and infectious laryngitis, and that the town had been cordoned off and quarantined by State authorities to prevent the spread of the ‘disease’.

Buffy declared, via her message board, that she would patrol that night as she feared that the town would descend into rioting and chaos.

Willow shot Tara a series of meaningful glances, and gave her a couple of nudges, entirely without effect. Tara had no idea at all what Willow was trying to convey. Eventually Willow gave up and wrote on her message board “I’m going to see Spike. He might have some ideas.”

Giles smiled, nodded, and wrote “Good idea” on his notepad.

Willow looked meaningfully at Tara again, but the Slayer just looked puzzled. Willow rolled her eyes, stood up, and walked out without waiting for Tara.

Olivia had sat alone during the entire meeting. The situation was virtually incomprehensible to her, and she felt awkward among the group as introductions had been extremely difficult in the circumstances. Once the Scoobies had all departed she sought refuge in Giles’ arms, but he was distracted by the pull of research and Olivia continued to feel unhappy and unwelcome. Giles attempted to rectify this as soon as he recognised the alienation between them, but in the absence of the power of speech he met with only limited success.

* * * * * *

Willow knocked on the door of Spike’s lair. Out of habit she waited for an invitation to enter. Eventually she remembered that no such invitation could be forthcoming, smacked herself on the forehead with a palm, and opened the door.

Spike had been on his way to answer the door and Willow almost crashed into him as she walked in. They danced around each other for an awkward moment before ending up both sitting on the bed that dominated the chamber.

Spike looked at Willow and raised an eyebrow quizzically. Willow looked at the pieces of dismembered teddy bear that still littered the room and raised her own eyebrows at Spike. He shrugged. Willow raised her eyes to the ceiling briefly, but then decided not to pursue the matter in the difficult circumstances of the magical silence and carried on with the object of her visit. She scrawled on her message board and passed it to Spike.

“U R a poophead!”

Spike read the message and held out his hand to Willow, who handed him the marker and a piece of cloth.

“Y?” Spike wrote, and passed board and marker back to Willow

“Tara,” Willow wrote. “U R making her miserable.”

“Huh? Wot about her making me mizrble?”

“I knew it,” Willow wrote, a smug expression on her face. “U R so into her.”

Spike glared at her and made no move to take back the board.

Willow gave him an eye-roll and wrote again. “+ she is so into U, poophead.”

A wide smile spread across Spike’s face and he took the board. “Wot was that about her not seeing me cept for patrols, then?”

“Tara being a poophead too,” Willow responded.

“She dumped me,” Spike scrawled.

“She thinks U dumped her,” Willow replied. “U so need to talk.”

Spike raised his eyebrows and pointed to his mouth.

“When U can,” Willow added.

“This anything to do with U?” Spike asked.

Willow blushed. “Not this time,” she wrote. “We R trying to figure it out. Any ideas?” She passed him a sheet of paper on which she’d copied out the rhyme from the two Slayers’ dreams.

"Can't even shout
Can't even cry
The gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows
Knocking on doors
They need to take seven
And they might take yours
Can't call to Mom
Can't say a word
You're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard."

Spike read the note with interest. He tried to comment on it verbally, grimaced in frustration, and used the message board again. “Doesn’t ring any bells. I’ll think about it. Let U know if I come up with anything.”

* * * * * *

That night there was little of the rioting that Buffy had feared. There were a few minor altercations, minor irritations blown out of proportion by failure to communicate and escalating into violence, but the town was quieter than usual as many people didn’t bother to go out.

Buffy had a brief encounter with Riley Finn, saving him from being hit on the head by a disgruntled man armed with a metal pipe, but otherwise her patrol passed almost without incident.

Tara discovered a vampire hanging around the fringes of the crowd, looking out for the chance to snatch up a victim who would be unable to scream, and she staked the vampire without difficulty. She met nothing else of interest and returned to her dorm room relatively early.

The supernatural events didn’t begin until nearly two a.m., long after the Slayers had gone to bed. It was then that the Gentlemen emerged from the clock tower and roamed through Sunnydale, escorted by their capering minions, to attack helpless victims and cut out their hearts.

Olivia, who was still not fully adjusted to California time, woke during the night and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. She looked out of the window, saw one of the Gentlemen passing by, and screamed. A scream that no-one heard.

Continued in Chapter Six Part Two

The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.

Tags: fic, life_in_shadow
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