Title: Nothing the Same
Warnings: explicit sex and violence. Plus, Spike sometimes swears a bit.
Feedback: yes, please
Concrit: any and all
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: AU from The Harvest. Xander doesn't deal well with Jesse's death and everything changes from there.
Notes: Based on the plotbunny posted awhile back by wickedchocolate. I took the first part of the bunny only: Xander never got over Jesse’s death. After he dusted Jesse, he was never the same. Xander isolated himself from Willow and wanted nothing to do with Buffy.
previous parts here
A/N - This could have benefitted from another proof-reading and some minor tweaking. I'll probably go back on my LJ and do a little tinkering tomorrow or the next day but I wanted to get this posted Monday as promised (it is still technically Monday in my timezone!)
Chapter 29Leaving the library together, Xander found himself walking so close to Spike that their shoulders brushed constantly. Almost without realizing it, he found his fingers entwining with Spike’s strong cool ones, seeking reassurance from the vampire’s touch. Inhaling deeply, he breathed in the smell of leather and cigarettes and wondered when that familiar Spike smell had become such an essential part of his existence. Just breathing it in made him feel calmer, Spike had so much confidence that Xander felt like he was picking it up just from being near the vampire. Kind of like the Pig Pen character from the old Peanuts comic strip. Only Spike walked around with a little cloud of confidence around him, not dirt.
“Would you mind if I went to your crypt with you instead of going home?” he asked. Flushing slightly, he admitted, “part of me wants to just go somewhere and spend the next few hours having wild monkey sex with you. You know, the whole traditional just-in-case movie sex scene. But frankly, it’s too much of a cliché. Plus, I’m worried about what the others will say if we show up in a few hours and I’m walking funny.”
Spike laughed. Only Xander. “So what do you have in mind instead? Hand of poker?”
Xander made a face. “Poker has never seemed quite the same ever since you told me about kitten poker. Would you settle for just going to sleep together?” He felt like a scared kid just wanting to snuggle with someone safe and hoped he wasn‘t embarrassing Spike by being so clingy but he really wanted to just be with Spike, soaking up a little of his confidence and that was far more important than not dying a virgin, which was what the wild sex before battle was always about, well, in tv movies anyway.
Spike put his arm around Xander‘s waist, pulling him closer in to his side. “Settle for it every night of my life.” He waited for Xander’s slow, relieved smile before adding: “Besides, monkey sex is overrated.” He leered, “now demon sex, on the other hand…”
“Ewww! If you’ve ever actually had monkey sex, I so don’t want to know about it.” Xander laughed,
“You’re the one brought it up,” Spike pointed out innocently.
“It’s an expression, you doofus, not a confession.” Xander was laughing, his anxiety fading with the familiar banter as Spike steered him towards a nearby crypt.
It wasn’t the same one as last night and Xander’s laughter faded as he remembered that Spike was switching crypts every night to keep from being found. He wondered again if he could move Spike into his house, except even his parents were bound to notice Spike hiding in his bedroom all day, and they’d be furious and confrontations would lead to dismemberment and, oh, yeah, that’s why he’d never invited Spike to stay. He sighed. Oh, well, it would all be over in a few hours and Spike would be able to settle permanently somewhere. Or… No, not going there, Spike would find a good place to stay after tonight. That was the only possible outcome.
For awhile, Spike was afraid that the nervous tension he could feel vibrating through Xander would keep his boy from ever falling asleep but gradually he’d started to relax, snuggling into Spike and wrapping his arms around him as his head rested against Spike’s chest.
Half-sitting against the wall, the duster underneath them like a picnic blanket, Xander’s warm weight pressed against him, Spike sat staring into the distance, one hand absently stroking Xander’s dark hair, wondering just whose sense of humor had put him in this position. Dru had probably had a hand in it. Who else besides a mad seer could be responsible for a respected Master Vampire, one renowned for his fighting skills and for defeating two Slayers in fair combat, falling in love with an ordinary human boy.
When exactly had his life become a ha’penny romantic farce?
He’d mocked Angelus for loving a Slayer then had gone his Sire one better, falling for an inexperienced, straight, teenager. Spike wasn’t celibate by nature, yet here he was, holding his young lover in his arms while he slept. With anyone else, he would be shagging them through the mattress right now, releasing his growing tension over the imminent confrontation with his Sire, not chastely holding a fully clothed partner like the Victorian gentleman he’d stopped being over a century ago.
Spike didn’t really believe in an afterlife, other than the one he’d gotten when Dru turned him. Already immortal, the “next” life had never been something Spike spent a lot of time worrying about, but if any vampire could find a way to continue existing after their final death, it would be Dru.
Before she faded into dust, she’d told him his destiny lay on the Hellmouth. He’d thought she’d meant becoming Master of the Hellmouth but that had been an empty title which had brought him no real satisfaction, leaving him restless and bored more often than not.
It was only recently that he’d realized that he’d found his destiny in the fragile mortal sleeping peacefully in his arms. The wounded kitten Dru had talked about so often in her final days had been waiting for him outside the factory the day Spike arrived in town. Xander had been his destiny all along. His boy was no longer the wounded kitten of Drusilla’s visions. Xander had worked through the guilt and grief that had been overwhelming him when Spike first met him. No longer a kitten either, his boy was slowly becoming a lion, not just because he was learning to defend himself but because he had found himself in his long, anguished soul-searching. Xander had faced death and loss, and walked away from the shadowlands stronger and more self-confident than even Xander realized yet.
Spike had looked into his own abyss after losing Drusilla and Xander had helped pull him back from the edge. Grief and circumstances had thrown them together and the boy had wormed his way into Spike’s unlife and helped Spike recover from his own unbearable loss.
Dru had known that Spike needed someone to care for and to love. Dru had known and had sent him here to the Hellmouth and to Xander, who had needed someone to love as badly as Spike had. Destiny indeed, Spike thought with a small, twisted smile.
Shagging through the mattress was fun but he wouldn’t trade a night of wild sex with anyone else for the quiet peace of holding his lover. Xander was ready now and once Angelus was dust and Acathla was permanently stone, there would be a lot of mattresses and an inordinate amount of shagging. For now, Spike could wait. A rested and alert virgin was far more likely to survive the day than an exhausted, sore lover.
They were almost to the entrance to the library when Spike came to an abrupt stop. He put a staying hand on Xander’s arm, holding him still as he listened intently. Xander knew by now that when Spike got that intense focused predator look he was stretching his vampiric senses to their fullest extent. He waiting, barely breathing, his heartbeat quickening, waiting for Spike to tell him what he’d sensed.
They were early, it wasn’t quite 5:00, but Xander had wanted to try and slip the weapons he’d stolen back into the bookcage before the others arrived. He knew Giles might already have discovered the missing weapons but figured that Giles would understand why he had taken them. Buffy was not likely to be as understanding, even now that she was finally on board with the plan to kill Angelus. They really didn’t need another argument just before they took on Angelus.
“Trouble,” Spike said after a moment. “Can smell blood and Angelus.” Xander jerked forward ready to run the remaining distance to the library but Spike still held him back. “It’s over now, they’re gone,” he said and lead the way quickly up to the library.
They dropped the bags of weapons just inside the library and moved quickly forward through the stacks, stopping at the upper railing and looking down into the open area below. Spike’s eyes swept the scene, noting the splintered wood and overturned chairs. Small splatters of blood decorated the floor as well as bits of discarded medical paraphernalia. Looking towards the main doors, he saw that they had been strung with yellow police tape. All of which agreed with what his nose was telling him: that what had happened had ended hours earlier. From the looks of things, not long after they had left, leaving the Watcher and the little redhead to their research.
Research. Spike’s narrowed eyes scanned the room. The Watcher had said there were only a few books out of the pile that had been on the table earlier worth studying for the means to destroy Acathla permanently. From the looks of the library, the shelves of esoteric books were untouched. The few volumes scattered on the floor near the overturned table also seemed just the random refuse of a fight, not the subject of a search.
Xander was still staring appalled at the destruction, his knuckles white as they gripped the railing, his eyes haunted. “Xander.” When he didn’t respond, Spike spoke more sharply: “Xander!”
Xander turned his head jerkily towards Spike, looking at him with unseeing eyes. “Police and medics have been here, luv. Both the Watcher and the redhead were here,” he didn’t add that he could tell because he could blood from both of them in the room but from the despair in Xander’s eyes he knew the boy understood it anyway. “Don’t smell death. Best get on the phone to the hospital and check on them.”
Xander stared at him dumbly for a moment longer, then pulled himself together. He nodded sharply and ran down the stairs to the little office and Spike could hear him dialing as he walked down the stairs. From the looks of things, several vampires had been in on the raid. Spike saw two distinct scatterings of dust on the tiled floor. He quickly flipped the table upright and set himself to the task of gathering the scattered books, not out of any desire to straighten up the mess but wanting to know if any of them were missing. He could only guess that Angelus had come looking for information on the ritual to wake Acathla. He was bent down, gathering up the scattered volumes when he felt the distinct prickle of unease the presaged a Slayer’s presence. Standing quickly, he turned and he saw Buffy in the doorway, pieces of the snapped yellow tape drifting down gently behind her.
Her stunned eyes fastened on him and suspicion and accusation showed plainly on her face. She immediately yanked her ever-present stake out, taking an aggressive stance. Spike quickly dropped the books he was holding onto the table to free up his hands, “Not my doing, Slayer.”
He heard the clatter of a phone being dropped and Xander came out of the office, frowning as he saw the tense positions of the other two. “Back off, Buffy. Spike and I just got here.” He waited until Buffy lowered the stake, then continued. “The hospital says Willow’s there but not Giles. They won’t put me through to her room and they won’t tell me anything about how hurt she is.”
“Angelus was here with several other vampires,” Spike informed Buffy, gesturing towards the dusty remains. “If he’s not at the hospital, I’d say Angelus has got your Watcher.”
“What would he want with Giles?” Xander asked. “Oh. Acathla,” he answered his own question and felt sick at the thought of what Angelus was capable of doing to get information out of the librarian.
“We need to go to the hospital and find out if Willow’s ok, then head for the mansion,” Buffy said.
“Don’t have time for that, Slayer. Angelus is probably torturing your Watcher right now.” Not to mention that in less than an hour, Spike would be limited to the tunnels.
Buffy looked torn and Xander understood how she felt. Every instinct was screaming at him to head for the hospital and find out if Willow was ok but Spike was right. Willow was being taken care of and was safe. Giles was in immediate danger and Angel could be performing the ritual and waking Acasthla even as they dithered. Praying Willow wasn’t going to…. wasn’t seriously hurt, Xander heard himself say: “there are two bags of weapons already packed: axes, crossbows and knives, mostly. Do you need anything else?”
“God, you really don’t care about Willow at all any more, do you?” Buffy’s face twisted with anger and she shook her head. “This was Giles’ idea, not mine, to work with you two. I don’t trust either one of you to watch my back.” She scrubbed a hand through her hair, looking tired and defeated. “A loser whose only friend is the evil undead and a vampire who’ll probably turn on me,” she muttered, more to herself than to them.
Xander braced himself to intervene but was astonished to see that Spike didn’t even seem angry over the snide remark. Head cocked to the side, Spike was studying Buffy intently, obviously more curious than angry. “Think I’m going to join forces with Angelus as soon as I’ve lured you into his clutches, do you?”
Xander kept quiet with an effort. Spike was giving Buffy his trademark ‘evil incarnate’ smirk, oh great, and adding a flare of yellow to his wickedly amused eyes. Spike better have something good or the already shaky alliance was ending right here. He just sighed when Spike pulled out a cigarette and lit up, like an artist putting the last stroke to a masterpiece. Pity he wasn’t wearing his duster, having left it behind at the crypt. Even without the duster, Spike’s ‘Big Bad’ personality was a masterpiece. Xander had seen both it and the real Spike enough to know that his ‘Big Bad’ persona was a disguise the vampire wore, a mask that hid his true personality from the world. Like all good disguises, it was created from part of Spike’s personality: his short temper, his love of violence, his cockiness and arrogance. All of which were part of Spike, but they weren’t all of him. The truth, but not the whole truth. As Xander had gotten to know Spike better, he’d discovered the face Spike presented to the world wasn’t even the biggest part of Spike’s personality. Spike had loved and taken care of a crazy person for a century, that was who Spike really was. Xander wondered if Buffy would ever be able to see that. He didn’t really care what Buffy thought of Spike or of himself, except that it would make things easier if she didn’t actively dislike, and frequently want to kill, Spike.
Snapping back to the present, Xander shivered a little as Spike continued in a low, dark purr: “Worried that me and Angelus have been planning this all along, aren’t you? That I want to end the world as badly as he does.”
Spike was so damn sexy when he used that voice. Standing there in his tight black jeans and tee-shirt that showed off his lithe muscular body, they way his dark eyebrows quirked knowingly, he was the living embodiment of sex appeal. Xander was embarrassed to find he was just staring at Spike, practically drooling and becoming aroused just from listening to him. Jerking his eyes away before he embarrassed himself, Xander was amused to see that Buffy wasn’t immune to Spike’s charms. His amusement faded rapidly as he realized that Buffy was angry at her reaction to Spike, and in typical Buffy fashion, probably going to take it out on Spike. Now he really hoped Spike knew what he was doing.
Buffy glared at Spike. “You’re a vampire. Ending the world is right up your alley. Why would you want to help stop Angel?”
“Because I like this world.” Spike answered calmly, dropping the super sexy voice. “You’ve got dog racing and Manchester United,” he shot a warm look at Xander who smiled back, not the least worried about not being included on the short list of things Spike liked. “I don’t need to be in a demon dimension to get my jollies. But mostly because I want Angelus dead. I’m not joining forces with him, Slayer. I’m going there to kill him. Only question is, are you coming along?”
Buffy studied him for a long moment, then nodded, seeming to accept his words. “Crossbows, axes and knives?” she asked Xander. “That ought to do it.” She looked at the clock on the wall, and Xander followed her glance. 5:25. “I’m going to call Oz,” she said. “Unless you already have them, throw a bunch of stakes in with the other weapons and we’ll be set.”
Just then, the phone in Giles’ office rang shrilly, sounding unnaturally loud in the silence that followed Buffy’s agreement and Xander jumped at the sudden noise. All three looked toward the office and Buffy was the first to move, snatching up the phone on the second ring.
“Hello?” She looked over at Xander, “It’s Willow. Are you ok?” she said into the phone.
Spike tuned her out at that point, putting his arm around Xander who had sagged with relief at the news. “Glad for your sake, luv.”
“Me too.” He looked at Spike with sadness in his eyes. “Things aren’t the same between us, but she and I were really close once. I can’t imagine losing her.”
“You’ll be able to see her as soon as this is over.”
Xander brightened at the thought. Disentangling himself from Spike’s arm, he crossed to the open book cage in search of stakes. Spike followed him. “So, same basic plan? Except my job now is to find Giles and get him out of there.”
“Probably be best.” Spike tried to sound apologetic but wasn’t able to pull it off. He didn’t want Xander fighting Angelus, didn’t want him to go to the mansion at all but knew he couldn’t stop him. Not without taking action that Xander would never forgive. “Just be careful,” he couldn’t help adding. “Leave Angelus to me and the Slayer.”
“Hey, I’m sidekick guy, lurking in the background. I’m totally ok with that.” Xander grinned, holding up his hands defensively.
Spike growled quietly. “Not a sidekick,” he said. “Thought I told you to stop talking about yourself that way.”
“How about back-up guy? I’m cool with the fact that I’m just getting Giles out while you two do the main fighting. After all, you keep telling me demons are superior, and Buffy’s practically a demon herself with all the Slayer extras she’s got.”
“Oi!” Spike protested, just as Xander had known he would. “Slayers aren’t demons.” He saw Xander struggling to suppress a smile and snagged him by the back of his head, pulling him in for a kiss. “Brat. Slayers are just jumped up humans, not nearly enough class to be demons,” he grumbled.
Buffy came out of Giles’ office. “Willow says Angel and four other vampires attacked them. She was knocked out and didn’t wake up until she was already at the hospital. The last she saw, Giles was fighting them.” Despite her words, tension had fallen away from her and she looked almost optimistic. Her obvious relief that Willow was alive and relatively well made Xander feel more sympathetic towards her than he usually did. She’d obviously been really worried about Willow.
“Is she ok?” Xander asked anxiously.
“She has a mild concussion and they’re keeping her at the hospital for a few more hours as a precaution. Oz is with her.” Buffy shrugged one shoulder. “Willow called him when she woke up. She didn’t call any of us until now because she didn’t want to wake us up. She didn’t realize Giles wasn’t at the hospital until I told her.” Buffy seemed to have lost her hesitation and uncertainty with the phone call. Willow must have really convinced Buffy she was fine, which did more than anything else to ease Xander’s own worry.
Without another word, Buffy turned and headed out the library doors. Xander just shook his head. He kissed Spike hard and ran to grab the two bags of weapons, pretending he didn’t hear Spike muttering about not being the Slayer’s manservant. He didn’t think Buffy had deliberately left them to lug the weapons for her. From what he’d observed, it was more that Buffy tended to be spontaneous as a fighter and got impatient with the planning parts. She generally relied on the stake she always carried with her and nothing else. “Come on, Jeeves,” he said, passing one of the bags to Spike. “Her ladyship will need us.”
Heading to the mansion, Xander was nervously aware of the approaching sunrise and the looming confrontation. Spike seemed unconcerned about both as they hurried through the still deserted streets. Xander just wished he was half as calm as Spike and Buffy seemed to be about the coming battle.
The mansion grounds were quiet when they arrived. There were dim lights in several of the mansion’s windows but the grounds were illuminated only by the reflected glow of the streetlights. Spike and Buffy went in first, leaving Xander across the street. They took stakes only, the crossbow mechanisms were noisy and a lot depended on stealth in the first few moments. Watching and listening tensely, time passed with agonizing slowness and it seemed like forever before Spike’s stepped out of the gates again, his white hair glowing in the streetlamps and signaled for Xander to come in. Snatching up the weapons bags, Xander ran across the street. “Ok?” he mouthed. He’d heard nothing to indicate guards had been taken care of.
Spike nodded as Buffy joined them. Opening the bags, Spike and Xander took axes, while Buffy selected a crossbow. They all made sure they had at least two stakes on them. Following the plan they’d hastily concocted on the walk over, Xander hung back slightly while Buffy and Spike silently eased the front door open. To Xander’s surprise, no one challenged them as they slipped inside. Xander followed them inside, waiting just inside the door, holding the axe in one hand and the weapons bags in the other. He waited, listening intently for signs they’d been discovered and heard the sharp twang of a crossbow being fired and the familiar soft explosion of a vampire turning to dust.
Despite the tense situation, Xander couldn’t help rolling his eyes at Buffy’s flip greeting. Granted, he was biased but in his opinion Spike’s fight banter was much more original than Buffy’s. He slipped into the room, keeping near the wall, seeing Spike and Buffy fighting three minions and Angel hanging back near what was either Acathla or a really bad piece of art. Xander watched just long enough to be sure that Spike was holding his own. Buffy was using the crossbow as a blunt instrument, apparently not having had enough time to reload. Setting the bags down quietly on the floor behind a sofa, where Angel’s people wouldn’t see them, but Spike and Buffy could reach them if needed, Xander forced himself to ignore the fighting and headed out in search of Giles. Their hope was that anyone else in the mansion would have been drawn immediately to the fight
Spike was furious. The Slayer had wasted what might be her best shot at Angelus on a fucking minion. Acathla was still dormant, good on the Watcher for holding out. Angelus simply looked irritated to see them.
“I don’t have time for this.” He signaled and the three minions charged them and Spike felt the joy of battle fill him. Meeting the minions halfway, Spike swung the axe, causing the minions to scatter frantically. The fight quickly fell into the ageless pattern of attack, parry, dodge, strike, spin, kick, regroup. Spike was peripherally aware of Xander stopping briefly in the room before disappearing back into the mansion. No other minions came to join the three, now two, who were fighting. Angelus growled something and flung himself into the fight, exchanging a flurry of blows with the Slayer as her opponent exploded into dust.
With the fight now two on two, it should have ended quickly. Spike’s half of the fight did. A jump kick sent the oversized minion flying backwards into the couch, which overturned, spilling the minion onto the floor. Spike leaped after him, yanking a stake out and pounced, staking him cleanly before he could recover.
Turning, Spike watched the duel between Angelus and the Slayer for a second, eyes narrowed suspiciously. The petite blond fought better than that. She was parrying Angelus’ blows, and dodging, almost dancing out of his reach. She was making almost no attempt to close with him and she didn’t even have a weapon.
Well if the silly bitch couldn’t bring herself to slay her ex, Spike sure as hell could. Hurdling the overturned couch, Spike flung himself into the fight. Angelus laughed and shifted position and Buffy moved with him, right into Spike’s path. Swearing, he dodged around her, trying to close on his Sire, but the two of them seemed joined in a conspiracy to prevent him from getting a clean hit on Angelus.
Xander moved quickly through the mansion, checking doors. He was fairly sure by now that there weren’t any vampires lurking in the back corridors but he stayed on guard, clinging to his axe as he searched. At the end of the hall, in one of the farthest rooms from the front, he found Giles.
Giles was barely conscious, tied to a chair, his shirt hanging in tatters and his chest marred with bruises, burns, and cuts. Sickened, Xander ran to him. “Giles. Giles, can you hear me?”
Giles just groaned and Xander hoped he wouldn’t have to carry the older man out of the mansion. He wasn’t even sure he could. Crouching behind Giles, he started to work on the ropes and froze at the sight of Giles’ hands. It looked like every finger on both hands and been broken multiple times. They were crusted with dried blood, crooked and swollen. Xander thought he was going to be sick. Abandoning untying, he carefully used the axe blade to slice through the ropes.
Once he had Giles’ hands free, Xander gently eased them around to the side so they were dangling free. Moving to face Giles again, he was heartened to see signs that Giles was coming around. “Giles, it’s Xander. I have to get you out of here. Can you stand?”
Giles’ face looked naked without his glasses. He seemed decades older than he had just a few hours ago. “Xander?” he mumbled through split and swollen lips.
“Yeah. I’m sorry, Giles but I have to get you on your feet.”
He bent down next to Giles and, gingerly avoiding the hands, lifted one arm around his shoulders. Bracing himself, he slid his other hand around Giles’ waist and began to lift, hating himself when the older man cried out in pain. He got Giles standing, supporting most of his weight, but pleased that Giles was aware enough to assist him at all.
“Ok, just down the hall and out the door. It’s not far,” he said reassuringly. He and Giles began to shuffle forward towards the door and Xander prayed they wouldn’t run into anyone on their way out of the mansion.
“What the hell are you playing at, Slayer?” Spike yelled furiously as Buffy again interfered, preventing him from getting in a killing blow.
She didn’t answer, just rolled clear and took up the fight again. If Spike didn’t know better, he’d swear she was stalling for time but it was clear she wasn’t ready to kill Angelus or let Spike do it. Angelus obviously thought so too.
“Still can’t do it, can you, Buff?” he gloated. “You can’t kill me. Because you still love me. You love what I did to you, how I made you feel.” He leered at her. “That moment of pure happiness that made me the man I am today.”
Well, Spike didn’t have a problem killing the great braggart. Taking advantage of their brief distraction as they faced each other, the Slayer faltering as Angelus’ taunts hit home, Spike swung the axe, aiming for Angelus’ back. Angelus caught the motion out of the corner of his eye and twisted away. Spike had been expecting the move and altered the angle of his swing to compensate. The axe hit Angelus in the side but not as hard as Spike had intending. Instead of a clean blow, it landed glancingly, gouging out a chunk of flesh but not burying itself in the older vampire’s body as Spike had been aiming to do.
Swearing, Spike yanked it out and swung it back for another blow. Angelus staggered backwards, stumbling against the stone form of Acathla and falling to the floor at the base of the statue. Once again, the Slayer was suddenly in Spike’s way and he had to hold his position or hit her instead of his Sire.
“Get out of my way or I’ll kill you instead of him,” Spike snarled, cursing as he realized the slight delay had been enough for Angelus to start to regain his feet. His Sire put up one blood-soaked hand and levered himself up by the sword sticking out of Acathla’s chest.
Spike froze. Lightning crackled in the air, dancing along Angelus’ hand on the sword hilt and sparking around the room, flaring to life along the metal objects in the room. Swearing, Spike hastily dropped his axe, as blue lightning crawled along the blade. He felt rather than saw the Slayer lunge forward and heard her cry of pain as Angelus backhanded her hard, sending her sliding across the floor and into the wall.
Angelus’ triumphant laughter sounded loudly in the silence that followed the lightning. The sword slid out of Acathla, like Excaliber from the stone, and Spike hurriedly bent to recover his axe, snatching it up from the floor. He was too late. Already swinging the axe as he straightened up, Angelus’ sword met the axe, knocking it to one side. Angelus recovered faster and pain exploded through Spike as Angelus buried the sword to the hilt in his stomach.
The axe fell from suddenly nerveless fingers and Spike’s eyes met his Sire’s one last time. There was a twisted smile on his Sire’s lips and unholy glee in his eyes. “You just never learn, Childe,” he said with mock sorrow, pulling the sword out in one brutal yank and pulling it back for a killing blow.
Spike’s knees collapsed and he crumpled to the stone floor. As he fell, he twisted sideways, getting one hand beneath him and catching himself before he hit the floor. As Angelus loomed over him, sword raised, sneering down at him, Spike ignored the pain and gathered his faltering strength, kicking out with one foot, connecting solidly with Angel’s knee and dropping his Sire to the floor as the knee gave way underneath him. Spike rolled away, agony flaring with every movement, desperate to get beyond the reach of Angelus’ sword.
His Sire’s movements were slowed by the wound in his own side. Angelus staggered to his feet, using the sword as a crutch and started for Spike. Buffy intercepted him, grabbing his arm and turning him, her foot coming up high and hard as he swung around to face her. She leapt back immediately as Angelus swung the sword and the fight moved further from Spike.
Spike looked around, searching for something he could use as a weapon. His axe was still out of reach, too close to the fight now raging between the Slayer and Angelus to retrieve. Spike was relieved to see that the Slayer was finally fighting all out, dancing away from the sword, jumping over it and ducking beneath it, landing blows whenever and opening presented itself. She was on the defensive though, hampered by her lack of a weapon. A stake was no match for a sword.
Remembering the bag of weapons, Spike made his way to the overturned couch. The crossbows were useless, the heavy piece of furniture had landed squarely on the bag, and the wooden crossbows had not survived. Buffy’s was beyond repair, crossbows couldn’t take being used as a club. One look at the snapped strings and cracked wood and Spike abandoned any hope of taking Angelus out at a distance. An axe would be safer anyway. No chance of the metal blade dusting Angelus before they had his blood to close the portal.
Grabbing an axe from the bag, Spike turned to see the Slayer had armed herself with a poker from the fireplace and was involved in a makeshift sword fight. The poker was clumsy but heavier than Angelus’ sword, and she was surprisingly actually holding her own. Finally, stupid bint had to wait till it was a crisis before doing something. Spike took one second longer to grab a knife out of the bag before moving to help.
Spike got his first good look at the slowly waking Acathla. After the electrical show, nothing had happened for long moments. The demon still looked like stone but his jaw now hung open and a whirlpool was forming inside his mouth. Even as he watched, the vortex grew, the air in front of the demon beginning to swirl like water flowing down a drain, and the air felt charged with magical energy, electricity tingling along Spike’s skin as he carefully skirted the area in front of the demon.
He was moving far slower than normal and his nervous concentration on Acathla preventing him from realizing what was happening for a critical second. Angel was hammering blows down on Buffy, completely ignoring the growing whirlpool behind him. She was on the floor, desperately using the poker to fend off the blows.
“Angelus!” Spike yelled and as he’d hoped, his Sire turned to face him.
Seeing Spike back on his feet, Angelus laughed wildly. He turned back to the Slayer, lifting the sword to bring it down on her again and Spike threw the knife. It flashed across the room, slamming into Angelus’ shoulder and burying itself to the hilt. Angelus jerked at the impact, stumbling forward and dropping the sword. His Sire clutched at the wound, swearing, and pulled the knife free.
Spike moved forward hoping to reach his Sire before he could defend himself, intending to hit Angelus with the axe and then throw it into the rapidly growing vortex to close it. His wound slowed him too much and he was still too far away when his Sire turned suddenly. The knife was in his left hand and he buried it in Spike’s gut, twisting savagely. Spike’s blow was already in motion and it landed, even as he began to fall, pain exploding through him, the axe digging deeply into Angelus’ back. Both vampires dropped to the floor. Spike pulled the knife out, and frantically dragged himself away from the whirlpool. Angelus was doing the same on the other side of the swirling energy field, crawling along the floor.
Cursing, Spike clamped a hand over his second major wound, trying to stem the blood flow. Even a vampire could lose only so much blood before they became incapacitated. He managed to stagger to his feet, but they refused to obey him and instead of moving forward towards Angelus and the Slayer, he fell backwards against the wall, sliding down it to the floor, unable to slow his downward momentum.
Looking across the room with pain-blurred eyes, Spike thought dazedly that he was seeing things. The Slayer was standing over Angelus, holding the sword Angelus had lost raised up for a killing blow but she was wasn’t moving. They were staring at each other, a motionless tableau, like they were frozen in time. Damn stupid woman still couldn’t kill him, Spike thought wrathfully. Rolling to his hands and knees, he began the painful task of trying to bring his wounded body back under control. Forcing his legs to obey, he struggled to his feet using the wall for support, and managed to stand, unsteady but upright. Right. One bloody axe thrown into the vortex, one stake through the heart and it was done. No problem.
Struggling to remain standing, the room wavering around him, Spike knew he was delirious. The Slayer and Angelus were bloody well snogging while the world was ending. It was so bizarre that Spike just stared for a moment, wondering wildly if they had already been sucked into hell and his personal torment was to watch his Sire and the Slayer snogging for eternity.
Reality crashed over him like a bucket of ice water. The fucking re-souling spell. Willow must have gone ahead with it. Spike suddenly remembered all those looks between the Slayer and her friend and the way the redhead had so nervously refused to join the fight. Bitch had gone and done the re-souling spell.
Anger sent adrenaline pumping through his system. Spike forgot the pain, forgot everything but his goal: close the whirlpool and stake Angelus. He moved forward, only to see the Slayer take half a step back and drive the sword into Angelus, burying it to the hilt in Angelus’ chest. “What the fuck?” he said out loud.
The Slayer’s eyes were huge as she stepped back. Angelus staggered back a step from the force of the blow, his eyes flying open as he stared in shock at the Slayer. His lips moved, forming her name, but then he was caught up in the expanding vortex. With a sound reminiscent of the roar of a hurricane, the vortex lapped over Angelus, the swirling, orange energy patterns broken, like a wave crashing on the beach, leaving chaotic turbulence behind. Angelus’ mouth opened in a silent scream as lightning crackled around him, The vortex shrank in on itself, collapsing around Angelus and dragging the vampire with it as it retreated back into the stone figure of Acathla until it disappeared entirely, leaving the demon standing there as if was nothing more than a statue.
Spike stared dumbfounded at the once again dormant Acathla for a second, before switching his gaze to Buffy. The Slayer just stood there, hands pressed to her mouth, staring at Acathla. Spike was so shocked and appalled by what had just happened that it took a long moment before he was able to speak. When he did find his voice, it was with a vengeance.
“You. Stupid. Bitch.” Spike snarled with slow, furious emphasis. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” The surge of adrenaline that had powered him was fading now, but he had enough strength for this.
Buffy was still staring blindly at Acathla, once more dormant and made of stone, the sword she used to stab Angel sticking out of the demon in the same spot as she’d run Angel through. Tears were starting to run down her cheeks and she looked exhausted, much older and completely devastated. Good, Spike thought viciously.
“I just killed the man I loved,” she said brokenly. A single tear escaped, tracing a slow track through the dirt on her cheek.
Her obvious grief found no sympathy in Spike. “No, you idiot, you stuck a sword in a vampire’s chest. Are you so stupid you don’t know that doesn’t kill a vampire?” Spike had to brace himself against the wall to remain upright, wishing viciously that he had the strength to tear the Slayer’s limbs off and use them to beat her to death. “You’ve done far worse than kill him. You’ve bloody well re-souled him and sent him to a demon dimension. Angelus would have been fine there but your precious Angel has a human soul. I hope you’re happy now because Angel is more human than demon and he will suffer the promised eternal torment in that dimension.”
“I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it. I couldn’t let the world be destroyed.” Buffy didn’t sound like she was trying to justify her actions, she sounded like she was trying to convince herself.
“For fuck’s sake, weren’t you listening when the Watcher explained it?” Spike really was going to kill her as soon as he got his strength back. “Angel’s blood opened the portal. His blood would close it. His blood. Where did you get the daft idea that you had to shove his bleeding corpse into the vortex in order to close it?”
Buffy’s face went chalk white and she looked like she was going to faint. For the first time, she tore her eyes away from Acathla and looked at Spike. “But… everyone said the only way to be safe was to kill Angel.”
“Kill ’im before he wakened Acathla, you ninny.” Spike glared at her in disgust, only his own wounds preventing him from adding a third Slayer to his tally. “Don’t worry, I’m sure one of the torments being visited on Angel is an endless replay of the love of his life betraying him and sending him to hell for no reason other than she didn’t pay attention when her Watcher explained how to stop the world from ending.”
Buffy crumpled to her knees, sobs shaking her slender shoulders as the full impact of what she’d done hit her. Bracing himself against the wall, Spike left her lying there without a backwards glance. Limping heavily, and bracing himself against the wall, he moved towards the basement. He needed to find Xander and make sure he was ok. Unfortunately, it was broad daylight and he was trapped here. Angelus would have a secure sun-proof room downstairs, Spike would have to hole up in it until dark. He’d deal with the Slayer later, unless he decided to leave her alive to wallow in human guilt for what she’d done.
“Oh, my God.”
Xander had managed to get Giles to a neighbor’s house. The neighbor had called for an ambulance and Xander had run back to the mansion as fast as he could, hoping to find the fight over and Spike and Buffy celebrating their victory. If not, maybe there was something he could do to help. Now he stared in shock at the blood covering Spike’s entire upper body. The vampire was listing heavily to the side and looked like he was barely able to stand. He turned his head in response to Xander’s exclamation and Xander was worried that Spike hadn’t known he was there until he spoke. Spike had to be really hurting to be that unaware of his surroundings.
He ran forward, and stopped next to Spike, afraid to touch him. “We have to get you somewhere safe,” he said. The ambulance just left with Giles.” He took a quick look around, seeing Buffy crying and no sign of Angel or dimensional vortexes. “Is Angel dusted?”
“No.” Spike’s jaw tightened as Xander lifted his arm over his shoulders, only partly from pain. “Slayer sent him to hell.”
“Oh.” Xander threw a surprised look at Buffy then dismissed Angel from his mind. The stone demon still stood in the same spot and obviously wasn’t doing anything which left him free to concentrate on Spike. “Do you have any idea where Angel’s room is?”
“Bound to be downstairs, luv. Safest place for vampires.”
“Then that’s where you’re going.” Taking as much of Spike’s weight as he could, Xander helped him cross the hall to the stairs. Buffy didn’t seem injured and right now Spike was his only concern. She’d have to deal on her own for now.