Title: Dead Man Blues
Setting: Season 5
Word count: 981
Prompt: Play Me Them Ragtime Boos
A/N: Work prevented me from finishing this before the prompt went up for grabs again, so it won’t count. (Plus the challenge is now officially closed.) But it’s still Halloween here where I am, so thought I would go ahead and post it. And please forgive. I know I’m taking huge liberties in redefining “ragtime.” Heh. (Inspired by the Ghostbusters episode that gave us this prompt title.)
It’s not as if he cares what happens to the bint. She’s the bane of his existence. The dust particle in his eye. The sodding splinter in his bloody arse.
So why is he lurking around outside her window, chain-smoking his way through the night? All to make sure the nasty beastie that got a piece of her earlier in the evening doesn’t show up to finish the job.
Or maybe he’s there to watch. Yeah, that’s it. He’s there to point the way. To be the bloody beacon that says, “Defenseless Slayer. Come and get her.”
Which is why, when he catches her slipping out the back door, slightly hunched over and moving a lot slower than she normal would, he should be glad. Should be relishing the chance to see her done in once and for all.
So why is he suddenly furious?
He loses sight of her for a brief time when she jumps the fence at the Fairview Cemetery and disappears into a thick stand of trees that border the grounds. They’ve taken to locking the gates at night, as if that could really keep anything out—or in.
He has no trouble sniffing out her trail, but as the scent grows stronger, so do the faint strains of a hauntingly familiar melody. The rich, mellow sound of a trumpet surrounds him, taking him back…
“Bloody hell!” Whirling around, he takes off running, covering ground as fast as he can as he heads back the way he came in—vaulting headstones, darting through the trees and clearing the fence as if it’s only knee-high.
Once outside the cemetery, he pours on even more speed. Boots pounding the pavement, he dodges pedestrians and honking cars until he reaches the gates of his own cemetery. Charging across the grounds, he at last barrels through the door of his crypt.
“Bloodysoddingbuggeringhell! Where is it?” he rages, head turning this way and that. Finally, he spots it. Lunging, he grabs it and takes off running again.
He knows he’s not moving fast enough, though the world around him is little more than a blur. But eventually…too late?...he’s back at Fairview, hurtling over the fence before charging through the trees and out into the open.
Rounding the corner of a crypt, he skids to a halt. There in front of him, is the Slayer. At her feet, just a few steps away, lies a massive vortex. It whirls and roars, almost drowning out the trumpet as it wails out a lethal rendition of “Dead Man Blues.”
Perched atop a crypt on the opposite side of the vortex is a shadowy wraith. It wears a double-breasted jacket with squared shoulders and wide lapels. On its head is a black-banded fedora, pulled low over the gaunt face and dark, cavernous eyes. Pressed to its lips is a spectral trumpet.
It’s a performance Spike has heard before, in 1930s New Orleans, under potentially deadly circumstances. The vortex had swallowed an entire late-night funeral procession, including the intended dinner he’d been tracking for hours. Then, it vanished as if it had never been there, taking his prey and leaving only silence in its place. It was a loss that had royally pissed him off.
“Slayer!” he yells, trying to break the hold the music has on her. As a vampire, he’s immune, but the Slayer is firmly in its grip.
So he turns to the only chance he has to save her. Holding up the boom box he retrieved from his crypt, he hits the “on” button and a cacophony of sound blares loud and proud. The Sex Pistols’ ’79 cover of “My Way” engages the beckoning trumpet in a cataclysmic clash of sound and fury.
All the while, the Slayer inches closer to oblivion.
“She’s mine, you hear?” he roars at the wraith. “I’m the only one gets to kill her!”
But the wraith ignores him as the trumpet plays on. Spike knows there’s only one way to banish this thing, so in a last, desperate bid, he raises his voice to join in the song’s chorus. He belts it out with all the unleashed rage of a chipped vampire until, without warning, the howling vortex vanishes in a rumbling clap of thunder.
The trumpet is silent, the wraith is gone and the Slayer is looking at him as if he’s fallen to one knee and asked her to marry him.
Only this time, she isn’t happy about it.
With fists on hips, a stake clutched in one, she regards him incredulously. “Spike, have you lost what little mind you have? What are you doing?”
“What am I doing? Saving your life, point of fact,” he growls, shooting her a sour look. “You’re welcome, by the way.”
She stares at him for a few beats then aims a pointed look at the boom box, still blaring away. He shuts it off with a defiant sneer.
Once it’s quiet again, she stalks up to him, getting right up in his face—as much as her five-foot-nothing height will allow.
“I don’t know what your game is, Spike,” she grinds out, fists clenched and prepared to strike, “but you’ve got five seconds to explain.”
He glares at her. “Fine. Known as a ragtime wraith. Ran across one a few decades ago in New Orleans. Uses music to open up a portal to who bloody knows where. Swallows you up and doesn’t spit you back out. Only way to beat it is to fight music with…music. There’s also mind control involved. It’s why you don’t remember.”
She rolls her eyes.
“Seriously? You expect me to fall for that? That a ghost was gunning for me, and…all the other stuff? Sorry. Too far-fetched.”
Inside he’s boiling. Outside, he smirks. “Right. Unlike vampires, werewolves and demons, you mean.”
As he swaggers away, he tries not to think too hard about certain things. Feelings and thoughts no sane or self-respecting vampire should have.
Instead, he congratulates himself on getting the last word. And realizes how lucky he is that looks can’t actually kill.