The Soul-Drinker Part 2

Jun 14, 2009 21:29

Okay, so it's going to be a three parter, I think. I just got this far and felt it was enough to post on its own. Didn't want to keep you waiting!

Part One Here

Spike stared down at his chest. He felt very strange - hollow, bloodless - but that might have been psychosomatic. He grasped the end of the dagger and yanked it out of his chest. It went with a wet, sucking sound, and blood ran over his hand. No wonder he felt dizzy.

“Kill the soulless beast! Destroy it!”

Oh, right.

He staggered forward unsteadily, the dagger waving in front of him, and people parted like the red sea, horrified at the thought of the instant death that would await them with a nick of the dagger.

Something wooden and hard drove into Spike’s chest, slantwise from right pectoral and out below the left shoulder blade. And then another arrow hit him, still off-target, but close. His lungs halted in attempts to breathe, unable to move against the pain, and his muscles twitched, random fires that only added to the agony.

He lowered his head and ran after Charlie, but the scattered forces were recovering, closing in between him and the door. He swung the blade, ducked his head, and ran for it.

In the alleyway, the sky was watery with pre-dawn light. He ran blind, just trying to put distance between himself and the cultists, until the sun was up in earnest and his skin smoked even in the shade. He jumped into a dumpster and slammed the lid. It was mostly empty - just a few soiled napkins and bits of plastic bag in the corners. It smelled overwhelmingly of stale beer. But he was safe for the moment. He let himself sink to the floor and stared at the dagger in his hand. It was a pretty thing, all opalescent and glittering. He took it in a firm grip, set his jaw, and plunged it back into his chest about where it had been before.

He let out a choked cry of pain, stared at the handle, sticking out of him and glinting only in that ordinary way gems and silver glinted. With a disappointed grunt he pulled it out again.


Gunn woke up the next morning feeling hung-over. He’d collapsed into bed fully-clothed, unwashed, and sweaty. He wiped his hand over his face, felt the stubble and thought about shaving and about what he had to tell the others.

Shit. He jumped out of bed. How could he have failed to call the office? They had to know! He fumbled in his discarded jacket for his cell phone, quickly hitting speed dial for the main office.

“Mr. Angel’s Office,” Harmony’s voice chirped.

Gunn hung up. No, Harmony was not the one to warn. His hands were shaking. He felt way out of his depth. He took a calming breath and punched the second number on his speed dial.


“Wes, it’s me. Something happened last night.”

“You went out after the cultists,” Wes said, with weary certainty.

“No! Er, maybe. Yes. Look, the point is: Spike has no soul!”

A pause. “I see.”

“Yeah.” Gunn ran a hand over his head.

“Where are you? More importantly, where is he?”

“I’m at home. I… I don’t know if Spike even made it. I saw him get stabbed with the soul-drinker and I got the hell out of there. Just… let everyone know, okay? I gotta take a shower and change. Be in in about half an hour?”

“Yes. Charles? Be careful. You and Spike were becoming somewhat close, and vampires…”

“Attack their friends first. Yeah, man. I know.”

Gunn thumbed the phone off and let it fall on the bedspread. He just sat there a moment, not sure what to think.

He partially hoped Spike hadn’t made it out of the cultists’ lair. And that made him feel like a coward and a betrayer.

He rubbed his eyes again and looked at the picture of his sister by his bedside. Just a wallet-sized shot, all he’d had, crumpled on the edges, but now nicely framed with a wide grey matt. “Sorry, Alonna.” He picked up the frame and kissed the cool glass. Then he could get up and take his shower, and face the day.


“… and I just lit out of there. I didn’t look back. Can’t tell what happened after that, but the cultists, they let me go.” Gunn shrugged. He looked at Angel somewhat nervously. There was no expression readable on his face. Gunn knew, despite all the back and forth snarking, that Angel and Spike had a kind of thing going, sibling-like. But Angel looked… okay with this.

He just nodded against his pressed fingers. “Wes, can you follow up? See if you can get a team to that address. If they haven’t fled, we might still be able to talk to them.”

Wesley nodded, making a note on his legal pad. “Just one suggestion, Angel? Perhaps from here on out we should utilize as many soulless members of the staff in this project as possible?”

Angel glanced quickly at the window to his office, then back at Wes with a frown, “How many of those do we have?”

“A few. The Tarkalak demon in Human Resources would be immune to the dagger’s affect, for example. I’m not sure how you feel about sending Harmony out on field cases, but at least we would be sure…”

“Is that such a good idea?” Fred asked. She stood against the back wall of Angel’s office, a file folder clutched to her chest protectively. “Putting this whole mission in, well, hands without conscience?”

“These are all people who have passed our background checks. We kept them on with the assumption we could trust them.”

“Look,” Angel stood. “We just have to keep people from getting cut. This dagger has to be captured.”

There was a clatter in the lobby, and the door burst open to reveal Spike, fanning out his smoking coat. “I have got to find a better way to get here in the daytime,” he muttered. He looked up, to see Fred scooting behind Wesley, and the whole room staring at him. “Oh,” he said, with mock cheer, “So you’ve heard.”

Fred made a small, distressed noise. Gunn stepped closer to the desk, meaning to call security. Spike rolled his eyes and turned to face Angel. He pulled something out of his duster. Everyone flinched. Spike tossed it on the desk.

An ornate handle stuck out of two pieces of cardboard, thoroughly duct-taped around the business end of the dagger. “There’s your bloody dagger. And seeing as how that hit was meant for you, Peaches, you owe me. Fix it.”

“Fix it?” Angel asked, looking at the dagger as though expecting it to be damaged.

“I want it back.” Spike’s voice broke a little.

“You want it back?” Angel looked a little horrified.

Wesley was inching close to the desk, eyes darting from the dagger to Spike with intense interest. Fred was trying to make sure Gunn and Wesley were between her and the vampires. Gunn wasn’t sure what to do, or whose reaction freaked him out the most.

Spike was shaking with anger. “It’s mine and I want it back. Do you have any idea what I went through to get it?”

Wesley finally managed to get himself between the vampires, his hand quickly closing on the dagger hilt. “Let’s take this to the lab and see what we can learn from it.”

“Yeah,” said Spike, relaxing a little. “Do that research thing, Percy. You and Fred figure it out.”

Wesley raised an eyebrow as Spike started to follow him. “We can do that better without you hanging over our shoulders.”

“Oh. Right.” Spike held up his hands, backing off. He ended up next to Gunn, who took a step away from him. Spike’s expression soured. “Nice bit of leaving me behind you did last night,” he said.

“Uh…” Gunn couldn’t form a response. He just walked out of the room. It wasn’t running, but it felt like it. At least he wasn’t alone. Fred was practically glued to Wesley’s side as they made brisk time toward the labs.

Leaning back in his chair, Angel squinted at Spike and repeated, “You want it back?”

“Is there an echo in here?”

Angel stood, some decision shutting down the confusion on his face. “If this is some kind of trick…”

“Oh, of course. Because as nefarious plans go, walking into your office and handing over a valuable magical artifact is up there.”

Angel circled his desk, never taking his eyes off Spike, as though he could keep him pinned with a glare. He searched his face.

Self-conscious, Spike broke eye contact first. “I’m not you, you berk. Let’s just get this thing fixed fast, all right?”

Angel backed off a step, uncertain again. “How… what do you feel?”

“Like someone ripped something out of me.” Spike wrapped his duster tighter around himself and barked a short, humorless laugh. “I dunno. ‘S not like the first time.”

“Wait. You lost your soul before?”

Spike gave Angel his very best “you are dense” smirk. “When I died.”

“Oh.” Angel squinted at him. “I don’t really remember. I mean, I remember, but not the soul leaving. Not that time.”

“Dying is a bit preoccupying, yeah. But I always thought that sense of freedom was the soul leaving.” He gestured vaguely in front of his chest. “Now I guess that was just realizing you didn’t have to go in to work ever again. Or, you know, serve jury duty.” He shrugged.

“I’ve lost my soul twice, since I had it back. You can’t bullshit me on this.”

“And why would I? Christ you are full of yourself. This is me, Angelus. I know who I am, even if a part is missing.” He rubbed the center of his chest with the flat of his hand, as though feeling its absence.

“Are you killing?”

Spike frowned, offended. “If I didn’t get the pillock who stabbed me, why would I kill someone else?” The leather of his duster creaked as he drew it tighter. “Know I’d be able to do it. No remorse. I know that. But I also know what it feels like when the check comes due, so no thanks. They took my soul, not my brain.” He looked pointedly at Angel.

“You’re not to leave this office. I’m going personally to check out every death reported in LA last night. Harmony will have called security by now.”

“She doesn’t have a soul, you know.”

It was Angel’s turn to smirk. “And right now I trust her more than you.”

They both heard the security team arrive, saw their shadows dance along the misted glass separating Angel’s office from the reception area. Angel nodded, once, and turned to leave.

“Yeah, go, you big nancy. Tired of you looking at me like you can see the hole it left.”

Spike paced the office, filled with the energy of impotent rage. He tried to figure out the controls to Angel's television, but they were locked somehow, and he was so frustrated he accidentally broke the remote in half. Throwing it across the room at least gave him a momentary satisfaction.

He sank back in the leather chair behind the desk and watched the guards shadows on the wall, forced to wait and trust Angel's team with the recovery of his very soul.

This was an even dumber idea than the dumpster.


An hour or so later, Spike was escorted to the lab by guards armed with wooden stake-tipped night sticks. He watched the pulse flutter at the neck of the guard in front of him and imagined ripping his throat out. Like touching a bruise, he was testing the wound in his morality, feeling for where the reaction should have been that killing is wrong. He didn’t rightly remember why it was wrong, or how much wrong, but he did remember that it was.

He smiled at Fred, who did not look happy to see him. She ignored his wave and looked down at her clipboard, flipping a page to check what was written underneath. The dagger in question was in a clear plastic box in the center of the table.

Wesley stood over it, his hands planted on either side of the box. “What we’ve learned so far is that the dagger actually absorbs the souls, using them as a power source. Hence: Soul-drinker.”

“So we were thinking,” Fred said, glancing anxiously at Spike, and then at Angel, “perhaps a second strike would reverse the process?”

“No,” Spike said, with a mirthless smile, “That would be a soul-vomitter.”

“But it would be worth trying,” Wesley said, “If you really do want your soul back.”

Spike crossed his arms, head back. “Yeah, it would, and yeah, I do. Already tried that.” He shifted, glancing at all of them. “First bloody thing I tried.”

Angel was a very palpable presence at his back. “So you wouldn’t mind if we tried again.”

“Fred,” Spike said. “She can do it. Don’t trust you any further than I can throw you.”

Fred looked at the dagger, and then at Spike. She shook her head. “No.”

Spike’s face melted. “Fred?”

“I can’t. I’m sorry.” She took a step back, her clipboard in front of her like a shield.

Spike turned on his heel. “What did you do to her, Angelus?”

“This isn’t about me.”

“For bloody once it is. Fred’s looking at me like I’m going to jump her and gee, from what sadistic prick could she have gotten that idea?”

“I’ll be happy to stab you,” Wesley interrupted, rather loudly.

Spike sneered. “Oh look at him. You’re having a research-gasm, aren’t you? Can’t wait to measure the weight and density of a soul.”

Wesley’s steely gaze never wavered. “I am curious at the behavioral differences between former soulled vampires.”

Angel had the grace to look uncomfortable. “Spike, just let Wes stab you already and if it doesn’t work, we’ll move on to the next thing.”

“No,” Spike said, arms still crossed stubbornly. He glanced around the room. “Where’s Charlie?”

Wesley sighed as though dealing with a disagreeable child. “And will you let Charles stab you?”

“Fine. Yeah.” Spike shrugged and seemed to sink into himself.

Angel nudged his head at one of the guards, who left to fetch Gunn.

Spike approached the table, staring at the dagger. “So my soul is in there?” He looked to Fred for an answer. She nodded vigorously. “It’s not… I mean, it’s not using it up or something, is it? Like a battery? I’m not going to get back half a soul, am I?”

“At this point, we can’t be sure you can get it back,” Wes said.

Spike’s face quivered with anger. “I’m getting it back.”

Gunn followed a guard into the room. “What’s up?” he asked, affecting just a little casual calm.

“We want to see if stabbing Spike with the dagger a second time will reverse the affect,” Wesley said.

Angel reached for Spike, causing him to twist and step away. “Hey! Hands off, cavebrow!”

“Someone should hold you,” Angel said, teeth clenched, “to make sure you don’t strike back.”

“Yeah. And that someone should have their soul nice and firmly attached. Not you.” Spike shrugged out of his duster. “Anyway I’m not going to fight back. It’s so nice being trusted.” He pulled his shirt off. The wounds from the dagger and the arrows were still fresh and angry looking. Spike rolled his shoulders and nodded to the guards. “Be careful with that thing, Charlie boy.”

Gunn raised an eyebrow at Angel. “You’re serious about this?”

Angel nodded.

Spike muttered, “It’s not going to work.”

The guards each took hold of one of Spike’s arms. Fred opened the Lucite box and Gunn picked up the dagger. He weighed it in his hand, looking extremely unsure.

“C’mon. Taking longer isn’t gonna make it easier. Let’s go.”

Gunn’s brow crinkled. He cocked his arm back and struck down into Spike’s chest, right over the heart. The room was silent enough that the “shuck” noise of parting flesh was clearly heard, as well as Spike’s deeply held breath escaping in a groan.

Gunn stood a moment, transfixed by the image before him, the dagger handle sticking out of Spike, the blood seeping sluggishly out of the wound. He’d gotten the knife in deeper than the cultist had.

Spike jerked his arms forward, but the guards held strong. His chest rose around the knife-blade. “Are you waiting for a sign? It didn’t work. Get this bleeding thing out of me.”

Gunn made no motion. Wesley came around and jerked the dagger out with one savage motion. He dropped it, still bloody, back in its box. Fred hastily sealed the lid as though afraid it might try to escape.

“Well, that’s done,” Wesley said. “We believe you, Spike. You want your soul back. I’ll track down any writings about the soul-drinker, how it was forged, what its orginal purpose was. There may be a clue in there as to freeing the soul from the dagger. Fred will continue scientific analysis.”

Spike balled his t-shirt up and pressed it to his fresh wound. “You didn’t think it would work, either! You were just testing me, see if I was serious.”


“I told you; I tried it already.”

“Yes, and we could take your word,” Wes responded dryly.

Gunn shook his head and shouldered his way past the guards. Spike followed him, surprised when they let him.

“Charlie. Wait half a tic.”

Gunn turned on his heel, hands up, “I don’t have time for you. I don’t know you, man.”

Spike’s face crumpled with hurt. “I chose you, to do it, because I trust you, mate. Trusted you to stab me.”

“Don’t do me any more favors,” Gunn said, and hurried down the corridor, occasionally looking back as though afraid Spike would follow.

Spike let his hands fall to his sides, stopping in the middle of the corridor. The guards soon were next to him, keeping him blocked in. He sighed and let them lead him back into the lab, where Fred was talking, somewhat excitedly, about "The containment properties of the Orb of Thessula, which I was able to finally quantify when we got the mass-ethometer..."

Onward to the thrilling conclusion!-->

f: buffyverse, c: gunn, c: spike, a: hello_spikey

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