For The Love Of Spike
One month later, Spike asked himself what in the bloody hell he'd been thinking when he'd agreed to give Katherine her hotel.
Tripping over an extension cord - the third that evening, Spike thought as he kicked it aside - he yelled for Katherine. When she finally appeared at the banister on the second floor landing,
Spike was sure steam was emanating from him.
"I give these pinhead workers one more week to get their jobs done, and then I'm feasting on them! What can possibly be taking them so long?" he yelled, throwing his hands up in exasperation.
Katherine walked down the staircase to where he stood and wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her cheek to his shoulder. His hands settled at her waist as she spoke.
"I'm sorry it's taking so long. It's a strain on everyone. But this evening the foreman told me that they're putting finishing touches on some of the rooms, and will be done in a couple of days!"
Spike's frown dissolved at her excitement. He smiled and kissed her as he said, "You always know how to soothe my temper, pet. It's unnerving." Katherine shrugged, nonchalant, and stepped over to a table against the wall by the front door, where a phone sat ringing. She answered as Spike stepped into the parlor across the entrance way.
A month earlier, dusty furniture covers had sat over moldy chairs and sofas in dingy, dirty, bare rooms. Now, the walls were covered in muted wallpaper with intricate designs, and antique knickknacks had been dug out of storage, now adding to the elegance of the hotel's rooms.
With a sigh, Spike dropped onto the sofa. Thank God, he thought, that this reconstruction is almost over! When they could open, Katherine would have her parties and my dwindling funds will be restored. Not to mention, he realized with a wolfish smile, plenty of guests in the rooms, and me holding the master keys, meant an endless food supply. Spike chuckled and stood as Katherine stepped to the doorway. One look at her face, and Spike stepped closer.
"What's wrong? What's happened?" he asked tensely.
Katherine lifted shocked eyes. "My...my parents. There's been a...crime...a murder..." Her voice trailed off. Spike cursed softly, catching her as she fell.
Later that evening, Spike and Katherine boarded the red-eye flight to Seattle, where Katherine's parents had lived. Immediately after they were settled on the plane, Katherine bowed her head and let her tears come. Spike wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to lean on his shoulder.
"Wha-what did they do f-for this to ha-happen?" she whispered brokenly. Spike's mouth tightened, as did his arms around her.
"We'll find out, pet. I promise."
He waved away the stewardess and continued to hold her until she dozed off. He let her sleep until just before landing. They took a cab from Sea-Tac, the airport, to Capitol Hill - one of the twelve hills that make up the city of Seattle.
The cab pulled up in front of a stately, three-storied house over-looking Lake Washington. Spike pulled their two bags from the trunk of the cab and climbed the steps leading up to the wraparound porch where Katherine sat on a swing.
"Very...homey," Spike decided, dropping the bags near the door. He sat next to Katherine on the swing, his arm draped over the back of the seat, and looked up at the sky.
After a moment, Spike tilted his head, still looking up at the fading stars. "So. When can we go in?"
Katherine took a deep, ragged breath and answered in a choked voice, "We can't. I haven't been invited, remember?" Spike groaned, both in realization and the fact that, once again, Katherine had her face against his chest, crying softly.
Spike put his arms around her and rocked her for a moment, then cupped her face in his hands, raising her head and tilting his to look into her eyes. He kissed her quivering lips, dried her cheeks with his thumbs, and said, "I'm going to go next door and ask if the people there have a key to let us in, okay?" She nodded, and he rose quickly. It was almost sunrise.
The neighbors were very sympathetic people, Spike found. He had to explain three times that he and Katherine were eager to get inside to avoid being ushered in for coffee.
Spike led the man, Mr. Ryan, back to the house. While the other man unlocked the front door, Spike hunkered down in front of Katherine, still on the swing.
"Are we feeling better, then?"
She nodded, and he took her hand. Mr. Ryan stood inside the door. Spike held his breath, wondering how they would get in.
"Welcome home. It's a little cold, but I'll go turn on the furnace."
Spike exhaled. It was good enough; the invitation was within the young man's words, if not the words themselves. He started to walk in, but got an idea. He turned to Katherine and literally swept her off her feet, then carried her across the threshold. She laughed as he spun her around in the foyer of the house, then set her on her feet.
Mr. Ryan, back from turning on the furnace, smiled at them, then excused himself to go. Spike set Katherine down, then took one of her hands when the front door closed.
"I'm sorry if that little trick seemed inappropriate, but I wanted to make you laugh again," he started, looking down at their hands.
Katherine hushed him. "It's okay. It was what I needed - a look at the old you. Things have been weird lately, and I miss the old Spike." Spike gave her a look of disbelief. She grinned, then said, "Let me show you my old room. We can sleep there until tonight." And tomorrow night, Spike thought as they climbed the stairs to the third floor, I'll find out just what happened to her parents.
The next time Spike awoke, he was back on the streets of Prague. The stench of death was overpowering on the cold winter air. Corpses, dumped in alleyways, gave themselves as food without complaint to the rats which spread the plague.
He was wearing scratchy wool pants, a dirty linen shirt, and a threadbare overcoat. Hunching his shoulders under a freezing rain, Spike shoved hands covered with fingerless gloves deep in his pockets and ran for shelter from the elements.
Knocking aside some rotting boards, Spike ducked into a crumbling shack. After standing there for a moment, blowing on his hands, he noticed a slight glow from behind some old crates. Silently, Spike made his way over the dirt floor. Then he knew, with an eerie certainty, that what he saw in front of a small flickering fire would change his life forever.
It was Drusilla, looking the way she had when he had first met her - hauntingly beautiful, healthy and strong, and licking her fangs clean after a kill. She caught site of him and smiled.
"Hello again, my darling," she said in her lilting British accent, smiling to show him her teeth. Spike felt sick, and didn't respond. Instead, he looked down at what lay in front of where Drusilla was kneeling. His heart stopped.
Katherine lay on the hard dirt floor. Her red hair, bound up in what had been an elegant coiffure, now was tangled about her shoulders. Her skin was whiter than usual, as white as death, and without its sheen of life. It was as if someone had breathed softly on it, dulling it. The bodice of her white silk dress was stained with blood.
And her throat had been torn out.
"No!" Spike cried, falling to his knees. He gathered Katherine's cold, stiff form in his arms, then looked up at Drusilla.
Her hands were raised over her head, holding a length of wood.
"Goodnight, my love," she said, almost singing it, and brought her hands down.
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