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Spirits in The Woods - Chapter 6

wolf howl
Title: Spirits in the Woods
Author: wolffan200 and 3hours (posting on archive sites under the joint account Hour of the Wolf)
Word count: about 55k total
Characters/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, Giles, Willow.
Rating: PG-13, chapters will be noted with individual warnings when appropriate
Betas: All4Spike and Science
Setting: Summer between s3 and s4








Chapter 6

She was warm under him. Warm and alive, and he couldn’t prevent his body’s instinctive reaction. Spike gulped, then opened his mouth to speak, desperate to break the tense situation.

What would have come out of his mouth was anyone’s guess, be it an apology or a taunt or even a bad joke. Spike hadn’t a clue. It was one of those times his mouth would have run away with him before he’d thought his words through properly. So it was probably for the best that she cut him off, planting both hands firmly against his chest and shoving him off her where he fell to the side.

Buffy sat up far too quickly as soon as his weight was off her and cried out in pain. Spike had more sense and sat up gingerly. He bit back a curse as his body protested the movement and his many broken bones made themselves known. Once seated, he glanced over to see Buffy holding her left arm and biting her lip to keep from groaning. Her eyes watered slightly as she examined the damage.

“I think I dislocated my shoulder,” she said at last, taking deep breaths. “God, that hurts.”

“Try being the one that hit the ground first,” Spike replied, examining himself and trying not to move too much.

His side felt as though it was on fire, and he was sure he’d suffered more than a couple of cracked ribs; the general area throbbed with pain. Blood oozed from a gash in his head, and his legs felt bruised and sore when he moved them. To top things off, his jeans were muddy and torn, and his coat had suffered several scrapes and tears.

Knowing that her shoulder needed to be taken care of before anything else, he gestured for her to come closer. She seemed to be able to move much better than he at the moment.

“Come here, I’ll set it for you.”

Her only reply was a whimper of pain but she obediently crawled over to him, cradling her left arm and trying all the while not to move it much.

He paused to consider their current limitations and position and frowned when he figured out the best way to sort her out. Teasing her and making her all flustered was one thing, but their bodies actually touching intimately, even if by accident, was different. Sure, he’d fantasized about her, but a fantasy was just that - a fantasy. Making it real was a whole other ballgame.

“Um, you’re gonna have to get in my lap. With your shoulder facing me.”

“You’re joking.”

“‘Fraid not, pet. I can’t move my broken arm much, so this won’t be easy. I need to get a good grip. You have to be close.”

“I don’t believe it,” she mumbled, but she began to crawl over his legs all the same, and he shifted them to give her room. “If you ever tell anyone about this-”

“Likewise,” he assured her.

Once she was sitting in his lap, he did his best to ignore his rapidly growing stiffy and grabbed her shoulder a little too roughly. She yelped in protest.

“Slayer,” he said, voice gruff. “This is gonna hurt, all right? Try not to scream like a girl and alert the spirits.”

He could see her steel herself, face tensing and teeth gritting together while he lifted her arm up until it pointed straight out from the shoulder. Without giving her a warning he yanked hard on her arm, pulling the bone away from the shoulder and allowing it to slide back into its socket again.

As he’d predicted, they both made grimaces of pain - her from having her dislocation fixed and him from using his broken arm. Neither uttered a sound, though, and once the burning in his arm faded he let out a relieved breath. Now they just had to make it back. Speaking of...

“That your only injury?”

He reassured himself that he was just concerned about how difficult getting back to camp would be. Not like he cared about her at all. Nope. Definitely not that.

“Ow, no. My back is throbbing, my leg’s all screwed up where that were-bear spirit thing took a swipe at me, and I feel like I got run over by a truck.”

“Sounds about right. Here, lemme see.”

He turned her until her back was to him and tried to concentrate on the task at hand and not the way her pert ass was sliding against his now completely hard cock. How she’d not noticed, he had no idea. She could be pretty dim sometimes—there were countless examples of that—but he knew he wasn’t exactly on the small side.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

On the other hand, it was probably a good thing that she remained oblivious; she wasn’t the type to be flattered. More the type that would get pissed off, and he really didn’t want to deal with a furious slayer right now.

Buffy hissed as he rolled her shirt up with his good hand and traced his thumb around the wound. She had a nasty scratch on her back that rested in the middle of an angry looking bruise right above her tailbone.

“Is it bad?” she asked.

“Looks like you hit a rock or something. Not gonna lie, it’s gonna hurt like a bitch when you move.”

Buffy shoulders rose and fell as she sighed deeply. “Great. Well, since we’re not getting air lifted out of here I guess I’m going to have to suck it up and walk back, right?”

“Yeah,” Spike said, not relishing the thought any more than she did. “That’s gonna be fun.”

“So we’re stuck somewhere inside the Dead Circle with a bunch of nasty shape-shifting spirits that we can’t hurt. We’re badly injured, and we’re weapon-less. Did I miss anything?”

“Well,” he said, and sighed. “We’re in an area of the woods I’ve never been in before so I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to get out of here and find our way back to camp. Oh, and sunrise is in about three hours, at which time I’ll explode into a pile of dust if we aren’t under cover.”

And I’ve somehow managed to get really turned on despite it all, he added to himself.

Buffy made a sound somewhat resembling a growl, and Spike gave her a pat on the shoulder in commiseration. He brought his hand back down to the ground where it bumped against something sharp. He glanced down and spotted the culprit—the Slayer’s stake she carried with her at all times.

He picked it up and could smell the trace of blood at its base. Wordlessly he handed it to her. Buffy glanced down at his arm then to the stake. She took it from him and turned it in her hand.

“It’s cracked,” she said with a hint of disappointment.

Spike snorted.

“Cracked? You’re concerned for the stake? That’s the thing that did a number on your back. Surprised you didn’t manage to impale yourself on it.”

Buffy frowned but held onto the stake as she shifted in his lap, turning sideways again. Presumably she’d wanted to be able to face him while talking to him, but it caused her to finally pick up on his arousal. She immediately went into full flail mode, all but jumping off of him and sputtering insults and curses until she’d managed to stand and get a safe distance away from him.

He attempted to stand as well, but had second thoughts when his legs wobbled and a wave of dizziness swept over him.

“Give me one good reason not to dust you,” she challenged, raising the cracked but probably still fully functional stake in a threatening manner.

“Look,” he said, tired, sore and really not wanting to have this argument right now. “I’m a man. You were squirming. First when you were... under me and then when you were in my lap. I can’t help it. Nothing personal, I swear. Any man would have. Can we just move on?”

Despite his rationalising she didn’t seem too impressed.

“It’s as traumatizing for me as it is for you, I assure you,” he went on, and adjusted his jeans to make the bulge less obvious. “It’s not like I want you.”

In hindsight he should have realised that this was not the right thing to say, but his head was growing increasingly fuzzy, and it was getting harder to ignore the considerable aches and pains of his body.

“Right, because I’m completely undesirable.”

Thankfully, the warning bells in his head chimed loud enough to alert him to the tone of her voice and he backpedaled quickly. “That’s not what I said.”

“Oh, so you do want me?” She raised an eyebrow and took a firmer grip on the stake.

“To drain and kill, yeah, but we’ve got this truce thing going on unfortunately,” he said, snarling at her. Offense was the best defense after all. “Maybe another time, love.”

“God, you’re such an ass,” she said, and made a disgusted face. “If you didn’t look absolutely pathetic right now...”

“Yeah, yeah, you’d stake me and dance in the dust like it was confetti. Got it.”

She huffed and blew hair out of her face, but thankfully appeared to be willing to put it behind them. If only he wasn’t injured, he’d take great pleasure in tackling her to the ground and- on second thought, scratch that. Better to not get himself any more riled up than he already was and focus on getting to safety; the clock was ticking for his continued existence.

Spike shook himself to get rid of the mental image of pinning her and looked up at her retreating back in bewilderment. Buffy had tottered away a few feet to kick at something lying in the dirt. She was still clutching the blasted broken piece of wood in her hand like a talisman to ward off anyone that might, God forbid, get horny in her presence.

“Wonderful. My axe is broken. The handle snapped. It’s useless like this,” she said, toeing the head of the axe and the short stump of a handle that remained. “So we really are screwed for weapons. Unless your sword is around?”

Spike didn’t take his eyes off the stake for a long time, but when he did, he met her gaze with an irritated glare. “Sorry, was too busy holding onto you to keep a good grip on it. Pretty sure it fell further down than we did. Good look finding it in all that scrub,” he said, jerking his head further down the slope to where the ground broke off in another, smaller cliff that ended in foul smelling rotted vegetation.

“What’s eating you now?” Her eyebrows drew together as she stared down at him.

“You’re still gonna carry that bloody thing around,” he said, and gestured at the stake. “I just saved your life.”

“Is that what you call it? Hurling yourself off a cliff and bringing me with you isn’t the best plan ever. Besides we need some kind of weapon so we’re not completely defenceless.”

“You’re alive, aren’t you?” Spike stood shakily and with effort so they were on even ground again. “We’re in no shape to fight and a pointy bit of wood isn’t going to do much harm to Yogi Bear and his pals. Not to mention, we’re in a bloody forest. A stake isn’t the hardest thing to come by out here.”

“It has sentimental value. Now are we going to keep bickering or are we going to get out of this place before the sun comes up?”

Spike struggled to rein in his temper. Turning his back on her he closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Why hadn’t he taken a bite out of her when he had the chance? She’d been lying there under him, completely vulnerable. He’d be healing right now with her blood in his veins.

“Spike?” She sounded wary, and her caution helped his mood.

Spike turned back to her in game face and took great satisfaction out of seeing her flinch backwards before regaining her composure. She glared at him as he approached and raised her good hand with the stake until he stopped just outside her personal space and held out his hand. She frowned down at it and back at him until he sighed and reached out to grab hold of hers, feeling it tighten around the stake under his skin.

“This way,” he said, tugging on her hand and leading her forward, fighting against wooziness and walking much slower than he’d like, both for his sake and hers.

“I thought you said you didn’t know where you were going out here?”

“I don’t exactly, but I know where we came from.” He nodded up at the cliff. “We need to find a way back up there at least and then figure out which direction camp is in.”

“You think those things are gone?”

“No idea. I can’t sense them but they could have just wandered off to a different part of the circle. We need to be careful. If they sense us we’re in serious shit.”

“What’s with the vamp face?”

“Helps me to see, remember? Since both our torches are gone and even if we found them they’d probably be broken, we’ll have to make do with me guiding you as best I can.”

“I didn’t even think about that.” She looked at the ground as though embarrassed.

Spike didn’t have the energy to insult her for having shitty priorities under the circumstances and just kept walking. Eventually, he found what looked like a passable trail upwards, and one that they could hopefully manage to climb without too much difficulty.

He heard Buffy’s intake of breath when she looked up the hill and the disappointed yet resigned sigh. He gave her hand a small squeeze and began leading the way up, letting go when he needed to hold onto a tree or rock to balance and haul himself up and stopping to turn and help her.

It took them a while, but eventually they made it. Once at the top, Buffy was out of breath and even Spike was panting from exertion. He felt queasy, which was never a good sign for a vampire. Buffy had clearly strained her back judging from the grimace she made when she tried to straighten up after leaning against a tree to catch her breath. The smell of her blood was thick in the air around him, and he looked at her torn jeans and the claw marks that had shredded through denim and skin, leaving large bloody streaks behind.

“You think you’ll be able to make it?” he asked, not taking his eyes off the claw marks.

“Will you?”

Spike looked down and let out a breathless chuckle. “Guess I’m going to have to. Not eager to punch my ticket just yet.”

“Then I’ll make it,” Buffy panted. She walked over and, switching her stake to rest loosely in her left hand, took hold of his hand in hers and jerked her head at the woods behind him.

“I think that’s where we came from. I can see a scrap of my shirt on that bush.”

Spike turned and saw she was right. A patch of tattered material did indeed hang on the thorns of a dead bush up ahead.

“Good work, pet.” He gave her an approving look. “Let’s get moving. We’re running out of time.”

Buffy nodded and followed wordlessly as he led the way. Spike tried to hide it, not wanting to add to the stress pouring off her, but he was anxious that even if they started out re-tracing their steps, the trail would go cold soon. If he couldn’t find his way to the outer edges of the Circle they could be lost in here for a while… at least until the sun came up—if the spirits even let them live that long.

Time dragged on, and they still hadn’t found their way back to the untainted part of the woods. Spike was exhausted and knew Buffy was, too. He wouldn’t give up, but the chances of them making it back to camp were looking slimmer and slimmer. He felt Buffy stumble behind him and turned around.

“You okay? Don’t quit on me now, Slayer, we—”

“Shh.”

Spike frowned. Buffy wasn’t looking at him. Instead she was focused on the woods to their left. Spike turned his attention in that direction and straightened when he saw what she’d been mesmerised by: a huge grey wolf. It stood amongst the trees watching them calmly. Spike felt his grip on Buffy’s hand tighten.

“I don’t think it’s a spirit,” she said, softly, drawing Spike’s attention again.

“What gives you that idea then?”

“Well for one, it would have attacked by now, right?” she said and glanced at him before facing the wolf again. “It doesn’t have anything to fear from us if it’s one of them because we can’t touch it. What if it’s that wolf? The one that’s been howling every night?”

Spike paused, contemplating the idea. “What if it is?” he said at last. “Probably just another angry spirit trying to mess with us. Told you I got a bite taken out of me remember?”

“By this wolf?” Buffy asked.

Spike scowled at her but took a second look at the wolf. Now that he actually thought about it, it didn’t seem like the same animal, nor had it threatened them yet. It was possible he’d just run into one of the were-wolves last time after hearing the howl. It’d be just his luck after all. Come to think of it, maybe this one had been trying to warn him.

“All right, maybe it wasn’t this one. It could still be dangerous.”

“I don’t think so. You said it never came close to the Circle right? What if it’s not evil? Maybe it’s trying to help.”

Spike gave her and the wolf a dubious look. “Help? Help us get torn to shreds, you mean?”

Buffy didn’t have a chance to respond as a loud howl broke the silence. It sounded different up close… so much more unnatural and yet, strangely calming in such a silent and threatening place. Odd that it had seemed so ominous before when they’d heard it back at the campsite, yet they found comfort in it now.

The wolf ceased howling and studied them before trotting off a ways into the forest. It stopped to look back at them, waiting patiently.

“I think it wants us to follow it.” Buffy grinned excitedly. She appeared to be getting a second wind back.

“Follow it?” Spike asked. “When did you become the overgrown dog whisperer?”

“Come on,” she said, pulling him along and ignoring his protests.

Ahead of them, the wolf turned and walked on before stopping to glance back at them, waiting again. Spike sighed. Looked as though the Slayer was right. So they were entrusting their lives to White Fang? Spike didn’t see another option but it didn’t stop him wondering if they’d find themselves surrounded by hungry, unnatural animals before the night was over.

Bloody spirits.

__________


Buffy had learned to trust her instincts long ago, and right now they were telling her that if they wanted a chance in hell of making it out of this damned place alive, they needed to follow the wolf. She had no idea how she knew this; it was just another weird factor in her life, like the tingling sensation at the back of her neck that told her an old and strong vampire was right behind her. She held back a sigh of relief when Spike stopped muttering his objections, then frowned as she noticed he walked with a limp. This was going to be slow.

Despite their past, she hoped they’d make it back in time. She didn’t want him to die like this. She was okay with him dying in general, she told herself, just not right now. After all, he had probably saved their lives even if his actions had been rash, extremely painful and ridiculously stupid.

What had followed had been bleached from her brain and was never to be thought of again. Or so she hoped.

“Look,” she cried out in delight at the sight of the ground beginning to give way from all black to black scattered with patches of lighter colour. “We’re getting closer.”

“Wonderful,” he replied, but without enthusiasm. She glanced back at him and saw that his limp was worse. It occurred to her that he might not have been entirely truthful about his injuries.

On the other hand, she hadn’t either, really. Giving an accurate rundown of your weaknesses to your former mortal enemy and current reluctant ally was not the brightest of ideas. She’d skipped mentioning the way her head throbbed, the dizziness she had to keep fighting back and the black spots threatening to cloud her vision. She’d felt like this once before, when the Master had drunk from her and caused her to inadvertently drown. She must have lost a fair amount of blood, and chances were high that she might pass out again soon. With his limp and broken bones there was no way Spike would be able to carry her, so she soldiered onward, never taking her eyes off the large wolf.

The crossing of the borderlands was uneventful. Hearing the birdsong again was a double edged sword; on one hand she was thrilled to hear any normal noises at all, but on the other, it underlined the necessity of finding shelter. The sun would be up very soon.

“Do you think you can walk faster?” she asked, her voice belying her concern.

He squeezed her hand weakly. “I’ll try.”

And he did rally some, but she saw the way his jaw line tightened. He was clearly in a lot of pain.

The wolf gave a bark of encouragement ahead of them, as if trying to tell them it would all be alright. She smiled at it. Was smiling at wolves a good thing or a bad thing? She vaguely remembered reading about how showing teeth was a sign of aggression to some animals and was not recommended.

After a while of walking in silence, she began to hear a strange noise. It repeated at odd intervals and sounded a bit like a cat wheezing. She tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t stop and eventually she spoke up. “Spike?”

“Yeah,” he replied in a clipped voice. The strange sound got louder then faded again.

“Can you hear that?”

“Yeah,” he said again and the same thing happened. The wheezing got louder then went back to normal. “S’my lungs.”

“Your lungs?”

“Punctured.”

“But you don’t need to breathe,” she said. Now that he’d told her she recognised the sound of air being expelled, however.

“M’not in control of that at the moment,” he said, struggling to speak and walk at the same time. Deciding that finding out what he meant could wait until they were safe, she stopped questioning him and focused on putting one foot in front of the other instead.

“Almost there,” she said, hoping to sound reassuring. The wolf gave another short bark. She decided to interpret it as agreeing with her.

Spike’s silence was his only reply.

The wolf led them true in the end. She nearly freaked out when it suddenly disappeared from sight, but when she and Spike caught up to the place where she’d last seen it, she could see wooden planks through the trees in front of her. The cabin. Thank God.

The sky had been pinkening steadily for a while by then, and she’d expected the first rays of the sun to break across the horizon at any moment. She’d even begun to wonder what it would be like to hold his hand as he dusted, so sure that she was about to find out.

“You’re safe,” she told him. “It’s the cabin!”

“Wonderful,” he muttered in reply, not even lifting his head. She’d pretty much been dragging him along the last fifteen minutes or so, and she was hobbling herself. They would absolutely not have made it much further.

Steering them around the corner of the cabin and to the front, she immediately looked over towards the tent, spotting a shape in the flickering light of the campfire.

“We’re back,” she yelled, but didn’t stop to see which one of her friends was up as the sun chose that moment to, for lack of a better word, shine. Spike yelped, and she pulled him with her inside. They nearly fell to the floor and would have, had she not caught a hand on the windowsill and managed to steady herself. His full weight landed on her, however, and pain shot through her torso and down her bad leg. She cried out.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, but he seemed unable to muster the strength to stand, and slid inelegantly down her side to the floor, forming a heap of broken vampire at her feet.

Just then, Willow appeared in the doorway, eyes wide and mouth wider.

“Oh my God, Buffy, what happened?”

“Gotta get him downstairs,” she replied. “If I bend over, I won’t get back up again, do you think you could…?”

Willow gaped like a fish for a moment before her Resolve Face broke through. Buffy had never been happier to see it.

Together, they got Spike upright somehow. His head lolling against her shoulder revealed that he’d passed out on her, and she understood that he must have been holding on by sheer willpower until now. They made their way precariously down the staircase to the dank basement. After her experience that night, it might as well have been the grandest of hotel rooms, she was so damn happy to see it.

Willow let Spike slide down her body much like he had done on Buffy’s until he came to a rest on the floor near his bag. It felt like weeks since he’d caught her snooping in it.

“Wills,” she said, watching the black spots that had been tormenting her for the past few hours grow larger. “I think I’m-“

____________


Spike awoke to a world of marginally less pain than he’d been in before. Cautiously optimistic, he opened his eyes and blinked a few times.

“Red,” he tried to say, to show that he recognised the girl looking down at him, but there was something blocking his throat. It hurt. He turned to the side, causing something to fall off his head, and coughed. Or tried to. Whatever had obstructed his windpipe came up with some effort and he felt better.

“Red,” he tried again.

“Shh,” she soothed and picked up what had fallen and put it back on his forehead. A wet cloth. He resisted the instinct to tell her that vampires didn’t get fevers, which was a good thing as he came to realize that she’d been using it to wipe away blood from his face and head.

“You’re a mess,” she informed him. He couldn’t agree more. “We didn’t dare move Buffy until she woke up, which was a couple of hours ago. She’s in the tent now, Giles is looking after her.”

“Sorry you got stuck with me, pet,” he said and smiled.

“I don’t mind,” she replied softly.

He turned his head again to check on what had been lodged in his throat. On the floor beside him was a puddle of dark, coagulated blood with a large, solid clot of more blood and tissue sitting in the middle. Great. Had he been human he would have choked to death on it, no doubt. He had no idea what part of his body it had come from but hazarded a guess at the lungs.

“So what’s the verdict, Florence?” he asked.

“You’ll live.”

That made him chuckle, which hurt like a bitch. “Do I remember correctly the part where my lungs were punctured?”

“Yep. But I got that sorted. One of your ribs was sorta stuck in there so I got it out and bandaged it all up. It was wheezing and being really gross. Giles said that was all I had to do.” She hesitated. “I don’t really know how vampires work. I mean, with healing and broken bones and stuff.”

“It mostly takes care of itself, don’t worry about it,” he said.

He closed his eyes and attempted to form a status report for his body. Chest? Painful. Especially on the right side, probably where aforementioned rib had decided to play hide and seek inside one of his lungs. Head? Throbbing with pain at the side and top, most likely some pretty bad cuts. Stomach and hips? Sort of okay. The queasiness that had worried him more than he liked to admit had faded considerably. Legs? Felt like they’d been through a meat grinder. Arms? They seemed fairly okay, broken bones aside, so he lifted them gingerly to where he could see them and noticed for the first time that he wasn’t wearing any clothes.

Grunting, he lifted his head just enough to look down the length of his body. He was naked, but covered up to his waist by… a sleeping bag? When he let his head fall back, he realized it was resting against something soft. Not a pillow but something else, likely a pile of clothes or similar.

It felt strange to be cared for. He hadn’t had anyone give a shit about him for a long time.

“Thanks,” he muttered.

“For what?” Willow asked, sounding confused.

“You know.” He gestured with a hand but wasn’t entirely sure what he was trying to convey. “This. Me. Everything.”

She looked smug as she pushed his hand back down to rest. “Don’t mention it. This is how us good guys operate, you know. We help. Even you.”

“Smartass,” he said, but he was smiling. She laughed.



Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
slaymesoftly
Dec. 13th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Great chapter, building UST, (slowly) building caring about each other, suspense, danger, safety, and a lovely little scene between Spike and Willow. :)
wolffan200
Dec. 13th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks. So much UST :) Yeah, slowly letting the plot develop. Maybe they'll get a bit further now that they're learning to work together :)
slaymesoftly
Dec. 13th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
UST Rocks! :)
wolffan200
Dec. 13th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
It most certainly does.
3hours
Dec. 14th, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
This is probably one of my favorite chapters :) It's got everything, just like you said! And I'm a sucker for Spike & Willow friendship. Anyway, starting to wonder how you'll like the end...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )