Word count: 1000
Setting: The future, for the Under the Influence of War free day.
Warnings: Not Subtle
Summary: Our heroes in war time...
They vaulted over a low wall and then moved in a crouching run along its length to the edge of the darkened plaza. Buffy checked her watch and relaxed. She sat down with her back against the wall, and Spike slid down beside her a moment later. She started the conversation where it'd left off, speaking quietly.
“I mean, I knew he was a demon. You knew he was a demon. Even Xander knew he was a demon.”
“Yeah, well, they didn't get the memo in the Rust Belt, pet.”
“I'll bet the people in Cleveland knew he was a demon,” she muttered. She leaned over to peek around the edge of the wall and settled back again.
“Prob'ly,” he agreed. He patted his pockets, took out a little paper box, shook it next to his ear, then tapped out a red-tinted toothpick and stuck it between his teeth. A slight cinnamon odor wafted over to her. “Florida too, but you've got a fair Demon-American voting bloc there, so that wouldn't exactly be a handicap.”
“Bugger of it is, he was completely honest, like so many infernal things. Drained the swamp in D.C., didn't he?” continued Spike.
“By opening a Hellmouth under it!” She froze and peered into the dark. Spike took her hand in his and squeezed. She looked up at him and he tapped his nose, looking relaxed. No demons nearby.
She shook her head and spoke again in a low voice.
“I don't know why I was surprised. Just another apocalypse, right?”
He didn't answer, just let go of her hand and tapped his wrist. She checked her watch — the wind-up kind — then nodded. He handed over two toothpicks, and then lit them for her with his old lighter, cupping his hands to hide the small blaze. She peeked out again, and held the burning toothpicks right at the edge of the wall. An answering pair of pinpricks of flame appeared across the plaza. She waved the toothpicks to the left, then turned to wave them back in the direction they'd come from before tossing them to burn like itty bitty flares on the concrete. A tiny flicker came from far off in that direction.
“We're go,” she said.
She got up into a crouch and surveyed the plaza once more before gesturing for Spike to follow her. They rounded the wall, staying low, and skirted the plaza until they met their contact about halfway around under a covered walkway. About 30 people, more than half of them women and children, stood behind Faith, clutching bundles and looking terrified.
Buffy tried to smile at them, but she knew it was probably not that convincing.
“Not many,” she muttered. “Where's Robin?”
“Got split up. His group didn't make it to any of the backup meet points in time. He'll be along for the next round.”
Her smile was even less convincing than Buffy's. Spike growled. A couple of the people in the group flinched.
“Oh,” said Buffy. “We were hoping to bring you both in after this run.” Faith's eyes narrowed. “But let's get these guys out of here. There's going to be an action in about...” she looked at her watch “...seventeen minutes.”
Faith caught her arm and leaned in close. “I want in on that,” she said.
Buffy nodded. “Once they're clear.”
Faith wheeled and faced the group. She pointed at one grandmotherly-looking woman and her tween son/grandson/nephew, then jerked her thumb back toward Buffy. They shuffled forward as Buffy came to meet them. She guided them, as quick as she could, back to the end of the low wall.
“Keep going along this path until you get to the big sculpture. That's where the people with the blankets are.” They nodded and she headed back. She passed Spike leading his own group.
Back and forth they went, ferrying refugees in the dark, the least mobile first, the fittest last. Faith brought the final group in and they set them on their way to what all of them hoped was safety. Temporary safety maybe, but better than what they'd fled.
The three of them waited, stooped over, as the last group hurried down the path. After a couple of minutes, they saw a tiny flicker of light. Buffy let out a breath, then checked her watch.
“Let's get to the rendezvous.”
Kennedy was taking point on this one. Buffy and Spike waited with their team, including the newly arrived Faith.
They stood, listening intently. A low rumble started in the east and built in intensity until the sound wave and shaking ground nearly knocked them all on their asses. A teal glow reflected off the clouds.
“That's Willow,” Buffy informed Faith.
A chittering, wailing sound rose up in the distance. Demons. Then came an answering, full-throated battle cry.
“That's us,” Spike said. “Well, us and a few dozen Slayers and their pals. We're clean up.”
He smiled broadly and bounced on his toes.
Faith looked grimly off in the direction of the eerie sounds and unearthly light show. She unhitched her battleaxe and checked her stake belt.
Buffy touched her shoulder. Faith looked over.
“We'll find him,” said Buffy.
“Sure, B,” said Faith. She spun and stalked off to the end of their line, shouting instructions and encouragement to the troops.
Buffy turned to Spike. “You,” she said, poking him in the chest, right over the spot where the amulet had lain during the closing of another Hellmouth. A huge spray of sparks zipped across the sky above them.
“Don't burn. That's an order.”
He looked down on her with that amused, adoring expression.
“Won't. If you promise not to be late. In every sense.”
She checked her watch. Faith gave her axe a spin. Spike flicked his sword partway out of its scabbard on his back. Buffy adjusted her grip on the scythe and gave the signal to move out.