Credence Chapter 3

Credence Chapter 3

                The club closed at four, and Spike sauntered casually out a half a minute after the soldiers, Wrxl's curative deep in his pocket and a cigarette in his mouth.  The soldiers stood on the corner for a moment, talking quietly, then parted with mutual manly back-poundings and half-drunk leers.  One walked a dozen yards and got into a new-looking truck, revving the engine for a moment before pulling away, a last wave and honk at his buddy.  The other walked, brisk soldier's pace, his camouflage outfit as crisp as when he'd arrived, ten hours earlier.  A service of the club, one Vivian knew drew the military and professionals alike.  Spike paced him, smoking, watching with demon's eyes as the soldier drew out his own cigarettes and lighter.  Three blocks and the soldier turned into the lot of a mid-level hotel.  He pulled a keycard out of his pocket and stood by the door, blearily slotting the card in and then cursing quietly when the lock didn't open.  He had the card upside down, but didn't seem to notice.  Spike tossed his butt away and approached the man, who glanced up at him and then back to the electronic lock.

                "Fucking thing won't open," the man mumbled, and Spike grinned.

                "Yeah?  Lemme help," Spike said.  The soldier glanced up again, automatic half-smile on his face that faded satisfactorily in the face of the demon.  Spike darted forward and brought his own forehead cracking sharply into the soldiers and watched the man go down like a puppet, strings cut.  The keycard skittered away across the concrete.

                "Help you to a little atonement, fucker."  Spike hoisted the man easily over his shoulder; a bit of a snack from one of Viv's 'private stock' had given him a boost right before closing.  He walked jauntily around the building to the back, confident in what he would find - and did.  Storm-drain access.  In this city of mist and monsoon, water control was taken very seriously.  Spike dumped the soldier to the concrete and pried the rusted iron door upwards.  He looked down, studying what lay below, and then pulled the soldier over.  He grasped the man's wrists and kicked the rest of the body down, to swing in blackness.  Then he let him drop.  There was a splash and a moan, and Spike eased through the hole as well - did a quick little maneuver that had him dropping down into dripping shadow while the cover clanged shut above.  He landed easily, legs astride the soldier who was coming up woozily on one elbow.

                "Ow - fuck!  What in hell -!"  Spike snatched the soldier up by his shirt-front and shoved him into the wall where he leaned weakly, rubbing his head.  He was soaked from shoulder to knee, and his cap was gone, fallen in the sullen rill of trash-clogged water that meandered down the concrete tube.

                "What the fuck is going on?!"  The soldier was momentarily blind, but Spike knew he would be able to see in a minute or two - enough street light filtered in to make little patches of silvery white here and there.   Spike pulled a fresh cigarette from the pack - fished out his lighter.

                "You really wanna know?  I'll tell you.  If you really wanna know."  Spike watched the soldier flinch and lift his head - look around, squinting, and put his hands out to grope in front of him.

                "Yeah, I wanna know!  Damnit, what the hell-!"

                "What's going on is...you are going to give me a little peace of mind.  Or maybe piece of mind, I haven't decided.  And I'm going to give you - a taste of hell."  Spike flicked open his Zippo and held it up, lighting his cigarette.  Knowing that the flame was highlighting every feature of his demon - was sparking a red glow in his eyes.  The soldier sucked in a hard breath, staring, and Spike took the cigarette out of his mouth - lifted the Zippo a fraction and grinned.

                "I think you'd better run, don't you?" Spike whispered.  And he lunged, snapping the Zippo shut.  The soldier gave a hoarse shout of surprise and fear and bolted, splashing noisily through the water, the sweet stink of fear behind him like incense.  Spike shoved his Zippo away and took a long drag off his smoke.  Humming a little Clash, grinning, he stalked after.  Up ahead, the man stumbled and fell, grunting in pain when his knee hit the concrete a solid blow.  But he was up and moving again in a moment and Spike saw a pin-point of light flickering wildly.  The soldier had one of those mini credit-card lights.  Spike's grin got wider.

                *Oh, how I love this dance.*

 

                The soldier whimpered; a steady, breathy gurgle that Spike thought sounded rather like sex.  At least, the sort of sex that demons sometimes indulged in.  Spike reached up and turned the flame higher on the old Coleman lantern he'd hung up, on the off-chance that the soldier was watching him.  He flicked the ASP baton to the side, shaking off blood.  It was 26 inches of whippy steel that hit hard enough to break bones.  In Spike's hand, it shattered  them and the soldier was a mess of blood and bone splinters and ragged flesh.  Every inch of his body had been hit, except the head.  Spike hadn't wanted him to die.  Not yet.  He put his hand on the tip of the baton and pushed, telescoping it shut.  Nothing a human could do, and Spike felt his muscles shaking just a little as he exerted the necessary force. 

                *Time to go home.* 

                The last soldier who'd ended up here was a huddle of rags and bones in one corner.  The scavengers in the Underground were efficient, and Spike liked that they would clean up his hidey-hole after he left.  He went over to the remains and picked up the chain that lay there, shaking it free of bones and bits of hair.  The skull rolled and bounced away, coming to rest against the live soldier's ribs and there was a sudden, more panicky note to the noises he was making.

                "Now, don't fret.  I'm not going to kill you."  Spike dug into his jeans-pocket for his key-ring, separating out the small padlock key and opening the lock that was fastened through several links of the chain.   He went back to the soldier - crouched down beside him and lifted his head by a handful of hair.   The soldier made a high-pitched sound of desperation, his eyes rolling wildly, and Spike shushed him.

                "There now - not going to kill you, I said, and the hurting part..."  Spike wound the chain twice around the soldier's neck - let his head drop back down.  "Well, the hurting part is gonna keep up for a bit, I'm afraid.  But eventually, that'll stop too."  He threaded the padlock through links and clicked it shut, and then patted the soldiers' face.  "Good boy, Joe.  You did really well."  Spike grinned down at the contorted features, and the man's wandering gaze finally settled on his face. 

                "Whhhh..." the man whispered, and Spike cocked his head a little.

                "Why?  You asking why?"  Tiny, jerky nod and Spike stroked his hand over the man's matted, dull-blond hair.  He leaned in close, inches from the soldier's face.  "Because I need it, that's why," he whispered, and licked a slow path from jaw to hairline, sweat and blood tingling across his tongue.  It was thick with terror and despair, spiced with a dash of rage, heady with supplication.  The man let out a soft, choked cry, and blood bubbled at the corner of his mouth.  Every breath drove the chisel-edges of snapped ribs into his lungs and Spike could hear him slowly drowning.  Spike stood up, and finally let his demon-face go, and the man's eyes widened.

                "P-plee-sss," he rasped, panic and agony making his eyes tear, pinking trails running down his temples and into his hair.  Spike reached up and turned the stem on the Coleman, lowering the wick slowly.  The golden spot of light shrank, smaller and smaller, and a frenzied light was in the soldier's eyes as the flame trembled on the edge of going out.

                "That's such a pretty word," Spike mused, looking down at him.  "Pity it doesn't mean anything."  He turned the stem once more, and they were in utter darkness.  The keening, tea-kettle scream that was all the man could manage sang in Spike's ears for at least two minutes, following him down the tunnels like a desperate dog. 

 

                Home again, and another shower - Mott the Hoople crashing over him from the stereo.  Slowly lathering away sweat and blood and the smoky atmosphere of the club - lazily sliding a hand over his insistent erection and arching back in heady shivers as he came.    In soft cotton sleep pants he sponged a few spatters off his duster and boots, and then had a shot of whiskey before uncapping Wrxl's final dose.  He eyed the swirling, milky-blue liquid for a moment and then downed it swiftly.  It was, as usual, utterly vile and he poured a second shot and rolled the liquor around in his mouth for a moment before swallowing, shuddering at the taste.

                An hour later he knew it was going to be worse than any time before and he staggered to the phone and with a shaking hand dialed Vivian.  She growled at him, half-asleep and pissed off, but he hung up five minutes later knowing help was coming - one of Viv's best, to keep an eye out and keep things cleaned up.  Spike made his way back to the bed and collapsed, pulling a heavy blanket around himself, shuddering uncontrollably in the grip of a magic-induced fever.  It felt as if his muscles were tearing loose from his bones, and he clenched his teeth and endured.

                *End soon enough.  Been through worse.  Get this shite out of me and then...then I'll be ME again.  Spike - William the Bloody - Slayer of Slayers.  Maybe I need to go look over the new one down at the Hellmouth.  When I'm well, when I'm well...*  He didn't hear Viv's minion come in, and he drifted in memory and nightmare while the magic worked through him and pared him down to whipcord and bone - purged the past, and removed the last of the Initiative taint from his body.  But it couldn't do a thing about his mind.