Art by eyesthatslay
Day Three – Somewhere in Japan
The castle is on fire in the distance, cut off from the rest of the buildings by its height and the wide moat surrounding it. The flames brighten the sky even more than the nearby city lights, making it almost seem like daytime.
Buffy’s face is streaked with dirt and a gash on her forehead is bleeding, her eyebrow preventing the liquid from getting into her eyes. She hefts her scythe and runs along the sidewalk toward the castle gardens, searching for any sign of Faith and Spike. Luckily, all the locals and tourists have dispersed out of fear.
She follows the sounds of fighting and finds herself in the gardens surrounding the castle. She hears Faith shout from inside the low building ahead of her and hurries inside through the sliding door that remains open.
Faith is being held up against the wall of the open dojo-like room by an invisible force. She’s choking and grabbing at her neck but not able to get a grip on anything.
Spike is attempting to punch the unseen foe to no avail. Relief floods him when sees Buffy, and he shouts, “Did you get him?”
Buffy bends to pick up the local Slayer’s long sword and tosses it to Spike before rushing forward and taking a swipe at the air, hoping against hope that the scythe might have the power to make their enemy corporeal.
“I got him,” she says, referring to the human who conjured the demon that’s causing so much trouble. Apparently, even humans in Japan tried to conjure up demons to gain power of some sort. Only problem is this guy chose an Oni demon, and they are notoriously impossible to control because they tend to lack a physical body that’s easily containable. “Tied him up. . . away from the fire. And damn it. I thought my mystical Slayer weapon would do the trick.”
They hear Faith cough, and then, she hisses, “Keep doing what you’re doing. I can breathe again.” She kicks her legs in the air, her boots almost hitting Spike in the head.
“Hey! Watch it!”
“Sorry,” she says, not sounding sorry at all and continuing to struggle.
“Where’s Sachiko?” Spike asks Buffy.
“Who?” Grunting, Buffy arcs the scythe again to try and throw the Oni off enough to drop Faith.
“The Slayer, pet.”
“Oh yeah. I don’t know. I thought she was with you.”
An invisible force suddenly hijacks Spike from behind and pulls him all the way back to the other side of the room with such force that he’s knocked unconscious before his mind can comprehend what’s happening. As he slips to the floor, invisible claws rake over his torso, arms, and legs so that his clothes are shredded. Buffy glimpses blood pouring out of the wide wounds.
Fear gripping her heart, Buffy rushes to him, swinging the scythe with mad abandon to protect her vampire. Nothing seems to be working, and Buffy is feeling desperate when the sound of drums and chanting voices fills the gardens outside. The steady beat and rhythmic intonations herald the way for the Japanese Slayer who appears in the doorway, long black hair swishing around her.
As Sachiko flips into the room and whips out a pair of swords, some of the local drummers enter and fan out near the wall, their beats thrumming through the open space so loudly that Buffy can’t hear anything else.
To her surprise, the air shimmers around three areas in the room, slowly revealing three large scarlet creatures with horns, long sharp-looking claws, and very bad hair. One is holding onto Faith, and the other two materialize around Buffy.
Finally, this is an enemy they can fight.
Sachiko gives her a little nod, and the pair arc their weapons at the much larger demons while jumping and dancing and whirling to avoid the claws. The drummers continue their steady song as the Slayers fight, and soon Faith joins them, scooping up Spike’s abandoned sword.
Within minutes, the demons are dispatched.
As Faith and Sachiko begin to gather up the corpses and the drummers disperse, their song replaced by the sounds of distant sirens, Buffy hurries to Spike’s side. He opens his eyes, his face a mask of pain. “Everything hurts.”
She kisses his lips, grateful that he’s even speaking and examines his wounds in dismay. “I can see why. Let’s get you back to our place.”
* * *
Spike lays prone in the hotel bed he shares with Buffy, naked except for a towel draped over his hips, more in case Faith bursts into the room than anything else.
Buffy hovers over him, her legs curled under her on the mattress as she takes care of his wounds. She’s dismayed by how many and how deep there are. Luckily, they’re starting to heal a little, but Buffy’s still worried. She hasn’t seen him this bad since. . . well, since Glory tortured him and well, maybe since he burned up in Sunnydale’s hellmouth.
She dabs some of the viscous substance onto his thigh, and he winces. “Ow.” His whole body tenses, and he opens his eyes a slit. “What is that stuff?”
“Sachiko gave it me.” Buffy holds up an ointment-covered finger, so Spike can see. “Apparently, she’s dealt with Oni demons before.”
He closes his eyes again, and he relaxes, trying not to move as his Slayer doctors him. Part of him wishes he could appreciate her ministrations more. “Was that the purpose of the drumming?”
“Uh huh. Oni demons don’t like noise. . . especially celebratory noise.”
“Doesn’t explain how that makes them corporeal.”
She laughs. “I’ll leave that for the new Watchers to explain.”
Buffy hits a particularly sensitive spot, and he jerks. “Hold still,” pops harshly out of her mouth before she can stop herself, and then she softens as she does with Spike nowadays, “Sorry.”
A little frown line appears between his eyes. “You don’t have to apologize, Buffy.”
She spreads a thick curl of the ointment onto his knee, and tears fill her eyes. “But I do.”
The frown lines deepen because he isn’t sure what she’s going on about, and he reaches up to run a finger over her hand that rests on the bed. “What do you mean, pet?”
“I should have done this before. . . when you were hurting. . . when Glory tortured you for protecting my sister. . . when you got your soul for me. . . when you came back after Sunnydale.” A tear splashes in a cut on his leg, and when he involuntarily hisses in pain, she gives herself a little mental shake. She doesn’t want him to take care of her; it’s not her that needs consideration. “But I’m doing it now. Have to make up for. . . the past.”
His brow softens with compassion, and he gives her credit on more than one level for her shift, “You are, love. You’ve been.”
Her brain wants to make a bigger speech, but she recognizes that she’d probably just head down the same path she wanted to avoid, so she settles on, “Thank you for always taking care of me.”
She pauses for a few seconds and then adds, “This was supposed to be one of those times I take care of you to make you feel special. I wasn’t expecting it to be like this.” She presses her lips to the only unbroken spot on his skin that she can find.
“Mmm.” He tries to make his thoughts come out through his mouth about how she’s been making him feel special, but his efforts are frustratingly fruitless for now.
She focuses on making sure the ointment covers every tear in his flesh, and he eventually falls asleep despite the pain. When she’s done, she sets aside the little bowl with the remaining medicine and sits back to observe him. The wounds she started on are already closing up, the edges stitching together as his vampire healing kicks in.
She discovers that she’s exhausted, too, and she curls up next to him, careful not to disturb her handiwork. Laying her head on the pillow near his, she too drifts off into dreamland.