Twilight and Speed
PAIRING: Spike + Illyria
FEEDBACK: Very welcome, to firstname.lastname@example.org
BETA: Miss Murchison - many thanks!
SETTING: Angel Season 5
DISCLAIMER: I’m borrowing these characters, and I promise to put them all back in good condition, and only slightly used.
Spike looked around him, unenthused. He'd seen plenty of cellars and basements and crypts in his life. The Wolfram and Hart underground car park was just a rather larger, less scenic version of the same thing. Twilight was falling outside, and the night was coming alive, sending a tingle through his vampire senses. But here there was only the glare of the neon strip lights, and the sterile scent of motor oil and concrete. The cars, which actually were worth looking at, were all parked a level above them.
He looked sideways at his companion, as they walked across the dark empty echoing space of the carpark. When Illyria had said she wished him to show her how to tame the monsters in the dungeons, he'd had an excited vision of pissed-off demons chained in cells, and ripe for a bit of baiting. When they had got to the basement level, the penny had dropped, and he'd realised she must mean the cars. When they'd gone past the basement level and down to lower basement he'd reverted to just plain confused. What monsters?
"Here they are," said Illyria. "They continue to defy me - although I have torn one of their kind apart with my bare hands." She glowered.
Spike stopped abruptly, nearly tripping over his own feet. He gave a little gasp. Stretched out in front of them was a gleaming row of motorcycles. He wandered along the line, laying a loving hand on each bike. BMW K1200s!, Suzuki GSXs, Honda VTXs, Harley Sportsters, ... three of each kind, and every single one with the keys sitting in the ignition. Spike craned his head. Over there, was that ... yes, yes it was. His undead heart seemed to make a little jump. At the end of the row sat three lovely shiny bright red Ducati 999Rs. He was drooling ... and there was a smell of freshly spilled petrol and motor oil in the air. He tore his glance away to the spectacle in front of him - and saw an ugly pile of scrap metal teetering crazily in a sinister black puddle of oil, utterly at odds with the gleaming symmetry before it. And there was a gap in the row of bikes, like a pulled tooth. Only two BMW K1200s were on display, among all the other sets of three.
Illyria followed his gaze. "I chose the biggest, and strongest, to make an example of," she said. She cracked her knuckles meaningfully, and pointed to the twisted heap of metal.
"Vandalism!" said Spike. He stepped forward, and lovingly caressed the BMW K1200 parked closest to the gap.
"Aha! I see that you care for these creatures!" said Illyria, her eyes gleaming. "Tell me how to command them, or I will tear another apart before your eyes and make you eat the pieces!" She stepped forward, and gripped the handlebar of the second BMW. Spike grabbed her hand, and tried to prise it off. Too late he remembered what a bad idea this was. He sailed through the air, and landed with a thud, upside down against the wall. Illyria squeezed the handlebar and the tortured metal groaned. Spike groaned in unison.
"Start, slave!" cried Illyria.
"They're not alive, you silly bitch!" Spike shouted from his position on the floor. He righted himself painfully. "They're machines. And they don't understand words. You have to ride them." He hobbled back to where Illyria was standing. "And first," he said, leaning forward and turning the key in the ignition, "you have to switch them on."
Ilyria's head tilted. "A key!" she said, in the tone of one to whom all is revealed. "Of course, there would be a magic key."
Spike had a sudden flashback to the afternoon when, sitting in a barn waiting out a sunny day in 1895, he had seen his first horseless carriage rattling and spluttering its way down an English high street. There had been children running along beside and in front of it, he remembered, trying to put their hands on the hood, and being ineffectually shooed off by the bloke in the passenger seat. And now look at this sleek, powerful, beautiful thing - it was magic of a sort.
"Very well," said Illyria impatiently, breaking into his thoughts. "You will teach me to 'drive' this 'machine,' now I have opened it with the magic key."
Spike raised an eyebrow. "Will I now?" he drawled. He looked at Illyria. She was still standing beside the bike, dressed the part, in all that leather, but obviously clueless. Spike grinned. She'd been inflicting way too many bruises on him recently, and spouting far too many orders. Seemed like it might be her turn to take a bit of instruction. This could be fun!
“Now,” said Spike, "for a little test drive." He shook his head irritably, to try and drive away the tension headache that was building from his neck upwards. Trying to explain the principles of the motorcycle internal combustion engine to Illyria had not gone well, at least partly because his own grasp was more tenuous than he had realised. Trying to explain riding, manoeuvring, gear changing, clutch control, and braking had gone even worse, and he wasn't entirely convinced that she had actually listened to any of his - admittedly slightly confused - instructions at all.
Still, at least now he and Illyria sat astride a bike each, both on their stands, engines ticking over. She had irretrievably mangled the throttle of the second BMW when she'd squeezed it, and she'd insisted on taking the third one, on the grounds that it was the biggest bike there and she was a Goddess. He had gone for a Ducati, of course, even though it put him at least half a head below her.
“What we’re going to do here," he said, "is pull off slowly in first gear to get used to balancing, and get used to the clutch and the brakes ...”
Illyria frowned. “Why should I care about this clutch, and this first gear, and this brake? The machine will obey me, or be destroyed.” She pushed her bike neatly forward off its stand, and opened the throttle. The bike fell over.
"Did that hurt at all?" asked Spike, leaning over to look at her.
"I feel no pain as you feeble mortals do," said Illyria, her voice slightly choked. The bike rocked violently, and was upright again. She stood up, rather slowly, and glared at it. "Clutch, first gear, throttle," she muttered to herself, suiting her actions to her words. The bike roared off across the basement, made a wheelie, and ploughed to a halt ten yards away with a screech of metal on concrete.
"You're meant to sit on the bloody thing," said Spike.
He slipped off his own bike went over to the toppled BMW, and leant down to turn the engine off. The paintwork was scratched, but the bike seemed basically sound. "And I said, pull off gently ... aargh!" He had turned to look at Illyria as he spoke. She was sitting astride his Ducati.
"Clutch, first gear, throttle," said Illyria thoughtfully.
"Noooooo!" cried Spike.
But it was too late.
Spike clung on grimly as Illyria drove them jerkily around the basement. The first Ducati was toast, and the second was coming in for a beating. Speaking of which, the wall was looming up at them rather fast.
"Left!" he screamed, "Left! Left! Left!"
"I am turning left," said Illyria, sounding annoyed, "but the motor cycle slave is slow to follow."
Spike grabbed her hand and the handlebar, and pulled backward. The bike tried to take the bend, tottered under its own weight, and fell over.
"That's the fourth bleedin’ time," said Spike bitterly, rubbing his thigh. His jeans leg was shredded, and he had an exhaust burn on his shin. "And it's not a slave, it's a machine," he added, wondering why he bothered.
Illyria was frowning. "And why does the machine fall? It is stupid, and useless. This Du-ca-ti," she traced the name on the petrol tank, "is clearly inferior and degenerate, like all human inventions."
"It bloody well is not!" Spike calmed himself with a huge effort. "That's top class engineering that is. Top class." He caressed the rather battered tank of the Ducati. "It's falling over because you’re a useless rider, who doesn't have a single sodding clue about what you're doing, and you're going too slow ..." He broke off when he saw the gleam in Illyria's eye. "Oh no," he said quickly. "You are far and away too clueless to drive this baby fast. You'd be strawberry jam in no time."
Illyria folded her arms. "You fear that I will tip the motor cycle machine over on the highway and crush your puny little mortal body. You are fearful and weak."
"Fearfu..!" said Spike, provoked beyond sense. "Me! Let's see who's fearful, when I show you what this baby can do! Change places." And he jumped onto the Ducati, revved the engine, barely waiting until Illyria was astride before he tore off in a squeal of rubber, up the ramp and towards the car park exit. "LA here we come!" he yelled over his shoulder, "Yee haw!!"
The bike drew to a gentle halt at the bottom of a scrubby hillside somewhere outside LA. The landscape glowed faintly grey in the twilight, and the lights of the city twinkled around them.
"Why have we stopped?" said Illyria. "The excessive speed, and the duel of nerves with oncoming truck monsters, were most amusing."
Spike kicked out the stand, leant the bike over and shut his eyes. "Just having a little rest, and showing you the sights," he said. He looked down at his shaking hands.
Illyria was looking to one side, where the hillside was bathed in floodlights. She tilted her head, puzzled. "Hol-ly-wood?" she said, spelling out the giant letters there. She narrowed her eyes. "Why do these humans write upon their hill?"
"It's a landmark, isn’t it?" said Spike, not paying much attention. He was wondering when he’d become too old to enjoy driving like a maniac. It’s bound to be Buffy’s fault somehow,
he thought resentfully.
“The sign is tedious and unattractive,” said Illyria, after a pause, “I wish to travel fast on the motor cycle slave again.” She thumped Spike imperiously on the shoulder, and with a groan, he pulled away and on, via a snaking and indirect road that wound around the hill. Eventually they came to a large, nearly deserted parking lot, designed for visitors coming to see the sign. Illyria thumped Spike on the shoulder again, and he wobbled violently, and then drew to a halt, cursing.
“Will you stop doing that!” he said angrily. “I’m trying to drive here.”
Illyria thumped his shoulder again. “I will ride the motorbike now,” she said imperiously. “I have observed your actions at length, and I now understand this clutch, gear, throttle business.” She fixed him with an accusing stare. “You explained it very badly.” She grabbed him by the shoulder, and dragged him from the bike.
“Oh pardon me, I’m sure,” muttered Spike, staggering a little. He looked at Illyria, who had slid forward into the driving position, and was busy over-revving the engine. Just for a moment he pondered delivering a quick lecture on moving off and stopping - she had forgotten to mention the brakes in her little summary of driving technique. Then he shook his head. Nah, she’d probably remember at some point.
“Off you go then - and stay off the road!” he added belatedly, having remembered that he was now a responsible member of society. He patted the rear of the pillion. Illyria powered off, making a huge snake-like skid, and headed across the parking lot, changing gear with a horrible grinding sound as she went.
“One potato, two potato …” said Spike, ambling across the parking lot behind her.
“ … eight potato, nine potato …” CRASH!! Illyria had broken through the parking lot fence and disappeared out of sight, apparently straight downhill. “Ah!” said Spike. He quickened his stride. CRUNCH! There was a second, even louder impact, and the sound of ripping and tearing metal. Spike broke into a run, leant over the broken fence, and peered out over the edge, into the glare of a strong spotlight. He blinked, and held up one hand to shield his eyes.
Illyria lay, arms and legs out like a starfish, half way down the hillside below. The Ducati had travelled further and smashed into the back of the Hollywood ‘H’, which was leaning over at a drunken angle. As he watched, he saw a flame grow under the bike’s ruptured fuel tank. With a whomp! the petrol exploded and the ‘H’ became wreathed in orange flame.
“Well,” said Spike, “that’s one way of setting Hollywood on fire.”
He grinned, and then picked his way down the slope to scoop up Illyria, steal a car, and make a break for it before the cops appeared. All in all, he hadn’t had so much fun in ages.