* * * *
Chapter One

The Slayer and a Corpse

* * * *


Buffy gasped loudly and put a hand over her mouth in shock and disgust upon entering Spike’s crypt. It had been three weeks since the battle at the Initiative and Adam’s defeat, and she hadn’t seen nor heard from the vampire since the event. All she knew was that she didn’t have to worry about him killing anyone since he wasn’t successful in removing his chip, and also that his big bad comrade was toast, so worrying about Spike? Not big on her to-do list. But you never know with him.

She’d imagined killing him thousands of times. It wasn’t something she’d daydream about… well, sometimes, but whenever the Chipped Wonder was mentioned she’d feel her throat tighten in loathing and she’d picture herself cutting of his head or ramming a stake the size of a railroad tie through his heart. Yeah, that was the stuff.

But this, Buffy realized in horror, this was too much. This was something not even Spike deserved. She steadied herself by backing up against the crypt door and leaning on it for support, all the while unable to tear her eyes away from the horrific scene before her.

Spike was lying on the ground, and if she didn’t know any better she would have thought he was dead. Well, he was, technically. But his face...

Buffy resisted the urge to vomit just barely as she approached the fallen vampire, her hand still covering her mouth and her eyes wide and filled with horror.

He was lying on his back, his eyes bulging and his rigid, yellow tinged fingers frozen over his face like he’d been clawing at something attacking him. Spike looked like a corpse. His skin was taut and yellow and his lips were pulled away from his teeth. She’d seen many things during her days as the Slayer. Demon entrails, human entrails, children lying dead on the playground…

But this was too much.

Buffy fell to her hands and knees and retched, unable to keep it in. It didn’t matter that he was already dead. It didn’t matter that she hated him more than anything she could think of. It didn’t matter that she wanted him dead in a permanent way. This was just wrong.

Buffy sat back on her heels and focused her eyes on Spike’s face. It still looked like him, but even in his demonic face he’d never appeared so grotesque.

“Oh my god,” she muttered in horror, backing away from his body like a fallen crab.

It was only then that she saw him move.


* * * *

Giles sat at his desk and blew softly on the surface of his warm cup of tea. It was a warm June afternoon and it occurred to him how odd it was that he wanted tea on such a hot day. He was English, however, and it was time for his afternoon tea.

Giles frowned slightly, yet at the same time he was secretly amused, as he remembered Buffy and Willow sitting in the high school library one afternoon discussing how all of his British traits were somehow linked to his genes. They shared several giggles at his expense, especially when Buffy argued that “tweed” was the secret ingredient to making British people. American girls can be so nonsensical at times.


He sat up in alarm and closed the book that was resting in his lap when he heard the door to his apartment slam into the wall. Buffy stood in the doorway, her chest heaving madly as if she’d run across the entire state of California.

“Buffy,” Giles said with concern as he rose to his feet. “What’s wrong? You look ill.”

Buffy swallowed hard before attempting words. “Something horrible...” she managed to say before averting her eyes.

His eyes widened. “What’s happened? W-Willow, Xander? Your mother isn’t hurt, is she?”

Buffy seemed to calm instantly, although it wasn’t a relaxed sort of calm. Her breathing slowed and her eyes narrowed in confusion as she looked up at him. “It’s Spike.”

“Spike? What has he done?”

Buffy shook her head. “I don’t know what’s happened, but his face… Giles, he looked dead. Really dead.”

Now he was really perplexed. Spike was hurt and she was this upset? She was shaking, and her face glistened with sweat like she’d recently been sick. He thought her reaction would be more towards the other end of the spectrum. Pleased… relieved. “What do you mean?” he asked, gauging her responses carefully.

“He looked shriveled, like bodies get when they decompose? But it still looked like him, a-and he moved. We can’t leave him like that,” she said seriously. “And besides,” she added quickly, “it might come after humans. Whatever got him, I mean.”

Giles nodded. “What do you want to do?”

Buffy frowned, unable to believe that the words that were about to come out of her mouth were actually about to come out of her mouth. “We help him, if we even can.”


* * * *

“Did Giles say why we were meeting in the cemetery?” Anya asked as she and Xander walked along the sidewalk. “We’re not doing a spell or anything, are we?”

“What? No. I’m guessing it has something to do with Spike. Which really shouldn’t be a guess, since Giles said ‘meet us at Spike’s’.”

Anya stuck her hands in the pockets of her long dress. “I hope it doesn’t take long. There’s a movie on TV that I wanted to watch, and if I have to miss it because of an apocalypse I’m going to be very upset.”

Xander smiled. “I’m hoping it’s more along the lines of ‘hey, look at this nifty pile of Spike dust.’”

Anya shrugged beside him. “I don’t see the big deal about Spike. Vampires aren’t the most loathsome of creatures. Besides, he’s not hurting anyone, and it wouldn’t be fair to just kill him since he can’t defend himself.”

“Yeah, but he’s evil.”

“That’s not his fault,” said Anya. “He didn’t ask to become a vampire.”

“How do you know that? How are we so sure that he didn’t prance up to Angelus and say ‘hey! I wanna be dead like you!’ More than that, how do you know he wasn’t some psyched out serial killer when he was human? Ever think of that?”

“Angelus?” she replied, ignoring his last comment. “You mean Angel? I thought Drusilla was his sire.”

They rounded the corner where they arrived at the edge of the cemetery. Xander and Anya walked through the gate.

“But Spike called Angel his sire when he tried to bite me. He called him Yoda.”

“Please. Yoda wasn’t a vampire, he was a bad representation of a Grothnar demon. Look, it’s Willow,” she pointed out. “And she’s carrying a sack.”

Willow was walking ten feet ahead of them carrying a large paper bag. She stopped and turned when she heard them approaching, her eyes wide and serious. “Hey guys.”

“Where’s Tara?” Xander asked. “I thought her summer class was on Tuesdays.”

“It is Tuesday, Xander,” Anya quickly informed him.

“Oh. Well, what’s up? Where’s the gang? What are we up to tonight?”

Willow placed the bag on top of a large headstone and sighed. “Tara’s inside with Buffy and Giles trying to figure out a spell or something we could use to find out what’s wrong with Spike. I just got back from the butcher’s.”

“What? We’re helping Spike? Isn’t the butcher closed? Tara’s skipping class?”

Anya stared at her babbling boyfriend. “Honey, relax. Your head’s getting veiny.”

“Tara’s class is on Wednesday,” Willow pointed out quickly, realizing that wasn’t the most important question to answer so she might as well get it out of the way. “I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I don’t know if you guys should…” She swallowed. “It’s really bad.”

Xander grew alarmed at her words. “What’s bad? What’s Spike done?”

Willow shook her head. “We don’t know. He’s just… he looks really bad. I guess you guys should see. I mean, you’re here, aren’t you?”

Xander and Anya exchanged confused looks before following Willow into the crypt.

“Oh my god,” Xander muttered upon seeing Spike’s body. Giles was crouched beside him, examining his face while Tara stood at the vampire’s feet with her arms wrapped around a spellbook whose pages she was thoroughly reading. Buffy was leaning against the stone sarcophagus with her arms across her chest. Everyone looked unnerved, and with apparent reason.

“Oh good god,” Anya exclaimed. “That’s disgusting.”

“What did this?” asked Xander.

Giles turned towards the younger man. “I don’t know. He’s in no condition to speak, o-or anything, for that matter.”

“It almost looks like a Leech got a hold of him,” Anya commented.

“A leech? You mean those little worm parasite thingies?” Tara asked, looking suddenly afraid. There must be a story behind that.

“No, it’s a demon,” Anya informed her. “It feeds off the life force of certain demons, specifically those who’re immortal. Don’t know what one’s doing in Sunnydale.”

“So it fed off him?” Buffy asked, looking down at Spike’s face and quickly turning away when her eyes set on him. “Can’t say he didn’t have it coming.”

Giles examined the vampire’s neck. “There aren’t any bite marks…” he noted with perplexity.

“Oh, it doesn’t bite you,” Anya told him. “It kisses you. It’s kind of like a succubus. I still don’t know why they call it a Leech.”

Giles leaned forward and looked at Spike’s mouth. Buffy knew now why his lips were stretched back. They were forced that way.

“Well,” she said. “That must’ve been a hell of a kiss.”

“If it’s Leech, then why haven’t we seen this before?” asked Willow. “Sunnydale’s crawling with vampires. Plus it’s all hellmouthy and bad. You’d think a Leech would love it here.”

Everyone turned to Anya, expecting some type of explanation. “Well, they’re really rare. There was a worldwide Leech massacre in the sixties.” Giles looked at her skeptically, obviously thinking that he would’ve heard of this if it happened in his time. “Oh, the seventeen sixties,” she clarified.

“This is all very interesting,” said Buffy impatiently, walking towards the group. “But why isn’t Spike dead if this Leech thing sucked out his immortality?”

“I don’t know,” she replied defensively, frowning at everyone. “I’m no Leech expert.”

“They don’t harm humans, do they?” asked Buffy.

“Well, I don’t remember too many humans complaining about them. Humans aren’t immortal. Well, except for Dick Clark.”

Buffy looked down at the vampire on the floor, inhaling sharply when his head turned and his eyes focused on her. She tore her eyes away. “Will, did you get to the butcher’s in time?”

Willow held up the bag. “Yeah.”

“Good. Let’s see if we can reverse this.”

Xander stepped forward, his nausea over seeing Spike’s body slightly diminished. “Hold on a sec. Why are we helping Spike? Don’t we hate him? Wouldn’t we rather see him dead?”

“But he’s not dead,” Giles pointed out. “I agree with Buffy. It’s wrong to leave him like this. He’s helped us out before—”

“For money! And then he tried to kill us!”

“W-We can’t just leave him like this,” said Tara. “It’s not right.”

“How do you know there’s any way we can fix him?” asked Anya. “I can’t remember a demon ever recovering.”

“We’ll find a way. Let’s just do it and fast,” said Buffy, walking over towards Willow. “Tara, keep looking in that book. There’s got to be some spell or something we can do to reverse this. Will,” she said quietly, turning to her friend. “Help me…” she wrinkled her nose in disgust as she took a bag of blood from the sack. “Help me feed him?”

Willow winced before nodding. “OK.”

“What are we supposed to do, Buff?” Xander asked.

Buffy stared at her friend. “Research. Find out what you can about these Leeches. See if we can’t find this thing. I don’t want to be finding more dried out vamp bodies…” she trailed off uneasily, feeling queasy in the stomach again. It wouldn’t have bothered her so much if she didn’t know Spike.

“Come now, we can begin research at my flat.” Giles took one more glance at the vampire lying on the floor before ushering Xander and Anya out of the crypt. “Contact us if you need anything.”

Buffy nodded. After the door closed behind them, she and Willow moved to the floor on either side of Spike near his head. Buffy sighed and opened one the bags and positioned it over his mouth. “Drink,” she instructed, unsure of whether or not Spike could hear her. She didn’t have to wait long before he began gulping on the bag.

“Buffy? Why… why don’t you just kill him?” Willow asked curiously.

Buffy raised her eyes to meet hers. “Do you think that I should?”

Willow shook her head. “No. It’s just… I know you hate him. I thought that you’d... I don’t know.”

Buffy shrugged slightly as she watched the vampire finish off the last of the bag. “Me neither.”


* * * *

“I can’t believe you haven’t heard of these Leech demons, Giles. What do they teach you at that Watcher’s Academy?”

Giles frowned as he handed Xander a book. “Well, I’m not a thousand-year-old ex-demon. Then again, since they do tend to prey on vampires you’d think we would’ve heard about them.”

“Well,” said Anya. “The more we know about the little bloodsuckers the better we’ll be able to fix Spike.” She tilted her head thoughtfully. “Also a bloodsucker.”

“They suck blood?” said Giles. “I thought you said they fed on a demon’s immortality?”

“They do. But for a vampire, blood is the source of their immortality, as it is for most demons.”

Xander frowned once again. “They don’t teach you these things at the Watcher’s Academy? What, is it all ‘Glasses Cleaning 101’ and ‘A Brief History of Tweed’?”


* * * *

Spike had finished off half the bag before he passed out again, so Willow and Buffy sat to the side and watched. But keeping vigil on a dead person? Doesn’t involve much. Can’t check their vitals (because they don’t have any), and it wasn’t like they were worried about him dying, so basically they sat and thought about what they were going to do. Or, in Buffy’s case, think about why they were doing it in the first place.

It was somewhat ridiculous, wasn’t it? Here she was wasting a perfectly good summer evening that she could be making better use of doing anything else. Sure, Riley was in Iowa visiting his family, so the boyfriend option was a bust, but, she still had her friends, all of whom she’d dragged away from whatever they were doing to help someone she wished were dead. So here they were…

What if Spike had found her like that? Lying as if dead on the ground with no apparent reason? No matter what he’s seen in all his unlife he’d probably not vomit at the sight of her, and God knows he wouldn’t help her. He’d probably give her a good kick and be off, or, maybe not, since that would hurt him. But, he was an idiot, so he’d forget momentarily and cause himself tremendous amounts of cranial pain. Buffy smiled at the image before being called away from it by a low moan.

Buffy looked over at Willow and Tara for affirmation that they’d heard the same sound before walking over to where Spike was lying on the ground. If she cared she might’ve moved him on top of the sarcophagus he used as a bed, but as it was, she was doing far more for him than she should. Buffy knelt beside him.

“Spike? Can you hear me?”

“Slayer?” he wheezed. His eyes were no longer as bulged and focused as they were when she first came across him. They were quite the opposite, in fact – unfocused and barely open enough to see through. “What… did you do to me?”

“It wasn’t me,” she pointed out with annoyance. Here she was helping the idiot and he accused her? Her logical mind told her that he was out of it, but when it came to Spike, she didn’t really think logically. Apparently not, otherwise he’d be dust in the wind by now. “Anya thinks it was a Leech. Do you know what that is? Can you remember anything?”

“No,” he muttered, his head rolling stiffly to the side, away from her. “What’re you doing here?”

Buffy almost didn’t understand him, not only because he wasn’t facing her, but Spike found it difficult to speak with his lips in the condition they were. That must hurt, she realized with some satisfaction.

“Tying to find out how to fix you,” she replied.

A brief silence followed. “What?”

Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. “We’re trying to… help you.”

Oh, God, she said it.

“What for?” he asked.

“Hey, we can leave you like this. It’s no skin off my back.”

“Isn’t it ‘nose?’” Tara whispered to Willow, who just shrugged.

“Did you see the big black thing that was in here?” he asked, as if they’d been having a completely different conversation.


Willow spoke up. “I think he’s remembering what attacked him.”

“Oh, right. Big black thing, huh? Might’ve seen it. Wanna describe it to me?”

“Big. Black.”

The urge to smack him in the face was difficult to resist. She wondered why she even bothered resisting. Oh right, that nagging feeling of sympathy that she couldn’t shake off.

“Do you remember being attacked?” she asked impatiently. “Did it… kiss you?”

Spike rolled over, his eyes completely closed, and grinned at her best he could. “Thought you might ask that sooner or later,” he replied, apparently misunderstanding her question. “Don’t think I’ll remember it after, but… ow!”

The urge to hit became a bit too irresistible.


* * * *

“Uh-oh,” muttered Xander, pulling the thick tome closer to him. “I think this Leech thing might be a bit more dangerous than we thought.”

“Did you find something?” asked Giles, marking his place in his own volume before shutting it and leaning forward curiously.

“Yeah. It’s… ew, it’s got pictures. That’s definitely not something you’d want to make out with.”

Anya leaned over his shoulder to look at the illustration. “It is a bit slimy, isn’t it? Never seen one up close.”

“Let’s hope not,” Xander replied. “Their favorite snack appears to be heads, especially human ones.” He frowned disappointedly and looked up. “Too bad he didn’t bite Spike’s head off.”

“It eats heads? I don’t remember that little detail,” Anya added, rubbing her neck absentmindedly. “So, you’re saying this thing sucked on Spike and is out now ripping heads off?”

“It gets worse,” muttered Giles, peering at the small text over Xander’s shoulder. “It’s almost impossible to kill. It says here that it can only be destroyed by one of its victims, who usually don’t survive.”

Anya and Xander stared at him. “You mean Spike has to kill this thing?” asked Anya.

“Um,” Xander began eloquently. “How the hell is that going to happen?”

“I don’t know,” Giles muttered, turning the page and finding nothing more to help them with their dilemma. “But now it’s imperative that we help him.”

“OK, but how do we heal him? He got his vamp power sucked out of him. Plus he’s all yellow and gross.”

“As Anya said earlier, blood is the source of his immorality. We’ll have to give him blood.”

Xander sighed with relief. “Will and Buffy are working on that now.”

Anya shifted doubtfully. “Yeah, but… pig’s blood? Do you really think that’s going to work?”

Giles frowned. “Let’s hope it does,” he said as he grabbed his keys. Xander and Anya stood and followed him to the door. “Otherwise there’s only one alternative I can think of.”

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