Blood red wine to show you’re mine,
I'll take my time.
The bells do ring, a far-off thing
Alone you're with me.
The witching hour, the gentle showers,
The moon has hid her face.
The chills will pass so take your glass
And the world will fade away.
A Cold Winter’s Night
By: Joan Z
Buffy looked out the window and rubbed her injured arm. It was the witching hour, pitch black outside, without even the glint of streetlights off the white snow. The snow was falling heavily, and the clouds hid the moon and stars. The power had gone out a few minutes ago, and she had only the flicker of candles for company. She hated winters in Cleveland.
She shivered and told herself it was because of the cold, not her anxiety,
even though the question; Where the hell is Spike?, repeated over and over in her mind.
She could hear the church bells ringing in the distance, calling the homeless to shelter on the cold and stormy night. She could see the priest in her mind’s eye, dressed in a long black robe, slowly pulling the bell rope.
Spike and the Slayers had still not returned from their mission. She would be with them if it weren’t for her arm.
She had argued with Spike about going on the mission, but he insisted she stay home for one more night and let Faith lead the slayers this time. In the end she agreed, knowing that her attendance would divide Spike’s attention and perhaps get him hurt. Now all she could do was listen to the tolling of the bell and say a silent prayer.
She couldn’t call the Slayers on their cell phone. If it rang unexpectedly while they were trying to sneak up on a demon, she could get someone killed, so instead she was here, being useless, pacing looking out the window into the dark night.
Buffy always waited up for Spike on the rare occasions when he went out on a mission without her. They even had a routine for it: first a warm shower, then they would cuddle together on the sofa and talk as they sipped a small glass of red wine for her and a glass of warm blood for Spike. It always ended with them making love before drifting off to sleep in each other’s arms.
But now, when she looked at the bottle of wine, it only reminded her of blood, Spike’s blood, spilled on the snow. Buffy shivered and forced her mind away from the morbid thought. She picked up the wine and took it into the kitchen, out of sight, then returned to her vigil.
It was nearly one o’clock when Buffy finally heard the key in the lock and Spike came through the door.
“Are you alright?” she asked desperately. “I’ve been worried sick.”
“I’m fine, Luv,” Spike said bending to give her a quick kiss on the lips, before walking to the bathroom. “I just need a shower, a glass of blood and you. I tried to call, but I couldn’t get a signal on my cell and the land lines are down.”
“What happened?” Buffy asked, as she helped Spike out of his clothes.
“The sodding demon had the kids in an abandoned warehouse, in that old industrial area. Turns out the city doesn’t keep the streets to abandoned factories plowed. We were fine getting there, but coming back, the roads were horrible. It took forever. We would’ve been stuck without four-wheel drive.”
“I don’t know about the hot water.” Buffy told him, “The power’s been out for about an hour. What about the kids? Are they okay?”
Spike turned on the water. “Probably some warm water left in the tank, Luv. As for the kids, it depends on what you mean by okay. Physically they seemed okay, at least no life-threating injuries, but…they were clearly traumatized. Some of them weren’t responding, the others were terrified. Don’t know what those bloody demons did to them while they had them. We were lucky to get a call through to child services before the cell towers went out, then we had to wait until they got there. All we can do now is hope they get the help they need.”
“Sometimes I hate this world,” Buffy said.”
“Reckon there’s good and evil on every world.” Spike said as he stepped into the barely warm spray; there’d be no hot water to chase the cold out of his bones tonight.
“Yeah, but still, demons taking children…it’s worse than the normal demon stuff, I guess.”
Spike gave her a peck before stepping under the spray. He washed quickly, stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist.
“Coming home to you, makes it easier,” he said as he pulled Buffy into a hug, laying her head against his wet chest and running his fingers through her silken hair.
“When I’m with you,” he murmured, pressing his lips to the top of her head, “all the troubles of the world fade away.”
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