1. Full Moon
He’s impressed by the Oz-wolf; it’s this fucking great dark
mass of fur, teeth, and claws a bloody sight bigger than the human it
lives inside. How's that work then? He takes another swig from the bottle
of Royal Crown filched from Safeway. It'd be damned handy if he got
bigger as well as bumpy when he let his demon out to play. Moves closer
for a better look and has to jump back as a paw lashes out through the
bars. Nearly caught him. Quick as well.
"Down boy," he mutters as the beast howls and snarls and throws
itself at the unyielding bars. There's nothing personal in its rage;
no recognition in its red eyes of the vampire who'd kidnapped, fed on,
and tortured its human self. Its lust for the spurt of blood, rent flesh,
destruction and death is utterly impersonal. Pure.
He takes another swallow of crap whiskey and settles himself against
the wall. Might be nice to be mindless. Better to be blotted out all
at once instead of losing his mind by inches. He’s stuck in a
cage smaller and more permanent than this one.
The moonlight trickling through the crypt's ironwork door is red-tinged
like the huge ugly orb that hangs far too low in the Sunnydale sky.
Makes his skin itch to see it. The damned thing might as well have 'evil
omen' scrawled across it. He expects earthquakes, human torches, and
lionesses whelping in the street any minute now.
Knowing the bitch is out there, tying off the last untidy threads, polishing
the fucking silver, getting everything ready for her big debut, burns
in his gut like spoilt blood. Because there's no real doubt in his mind
that she's going to pull it off.
Less than 20 days till the world ends, the uncertainty and the boredom
are killing him. He can't hunt, can't feed, and there's no one around
he wants to shag or vicey-versey. He's right out of friendly faces.
After his last little outburst even Stepford Mom hates him. The only
reason they haven't staked him is they figure he might come in handy
during the Final Battle. Good thinking, but he reckons they're kidding
themselves. It's going to take more than even him to win this battle.
Maybe they'd have a chance if they could get hold of Superman. Maybe.
Pity no-one seems to have the bugger's number.
The Witch and the Watcher research all day and well into the night;
much good it's likely to do them. He knows flailing around when he sees
it. The funk of suppressed panic that Giles gives off would tickle him
if his arse weren't for the chop as well. Giles keeps asking him if
he knows her true name -- like he'd be keeping secrets. But the only
name she ever told him was Sylvia Orexis, just another of her little
jokes. Ha, bloody, ha.
On the other hand, Red is anxious but not panicked. In a way she's probably
enjoying this, though she'd never admit it, even to herself. She asked
him to help with the research and he was that fucking bored he said
yes. It was something to do, and he finds it oddly soothing, sitting
there with a mug of blood, scanning through musty tomes full of scribbled
Latin and Greek descriptions of eldritch obscenities and demonic atrocities
that occasionally raise a shudder even from him. Sometimes there are
Bonus, that it pisses Giles off something wonderful.
She doesn't smell of patchouli anymore, it’s mostly book dust
and the thick black coffee she determinedly chokes down to keep going,
and under all that, is the unmistakable tang of power. Wonders if Rupert
knows how much she's picked up from his books.
Late at night when the wanker has pissed off to bed he can fully concentrate
on the subtle shifts in her scent: the tangy excitement when she finds
what she thinks is a lead, the musty defeat when it fails to pan out,
the coppery exhaustion in the dead hours before dawn when she's so tired
her eyelids keep slipping closed, and she sags, till her forehead rests
on the table, her neck pliant, vulnerable. God, he wants it, wants to
drain her dry, glut himself on the sweet pain…
And he can't do a thing about it. Fangless, neutered, piss-poor excuse
for a vampire that he is now. Little girls can fall asleep in front
of him without a second thought.
Needed to get out. Which is why he's here, watching the sideshow. Slipped
out of the house as soon as night fell, and followed the faint scents
of Wolf-boy and Joyce through the lush fall grass to this graffiti tagged
crypt with the shiny new cage inside.
His throat's dry. Tilts the bottle only to find it's empty. Fuck. "Fetch!"
The bottle shatters as the werewolf slams into the bars; it snaps madly
at the shower of glass and blood sprays as its jaws close on a shard.
He remembers the taste of the boy's blood, clotted and slightly gritty
on his tongue as he'd licked the boy's blood off his skin, sucked it
from his shirt, getting every last drop. Wonders what the werewolf would
taste like and whether Giles little spell would keep him from harming
Oz in this form. Not quite drunk enough to test it. He'll just have
to wait till after. Assuming there is an after.
Odds against are even longer now that the Slayer's gone missing. No-one's
seen or heard from her since night before last. Sounds like quite a
night: live sex show, brassed-off Slayer, Angelus on the loose! Pity
no-one thought to bring a camcorder along. It was just so bloody sad
that Angelus hadn't managed to kill anyone during his brief return.
Worse still, by the time everyone was conscious again and thought to
check on the tranked Slayer, she'd gone. Leaving them well and truly
in the shit.
He yawns and gets to his feet. No booze left, and the beast has finally
gotten tired of throwing itself against the bars and settled down into
a sullen silence. Show's over. Spike shrugs and heads for the exit.
With a little luck maybe he can find something to maim before the sun
She gets out of bed and crosses to the mirror, leaving the light off
because she doesn’t want to wake Xander. He needs his sleep. He
still goes out to work every day, working overtime, filling the hours.
He feels useless. He's hopeless at research, and there's nothing else
to do try to carry on with something like normal life, and wait.
Her reflection is not much more than a silhouette in the moonlit mirror,
but it's not like she doesn’t know what’s there. She runs
her hands over the familiar curves and dips of her body. No visible
sign yet of change. But she knows it’s there, nestled deep inside
under her still flat stomach, a tiny, potent, being, imperiously changing
her body to suit itself.
The wound on her throat has scabbed over, and it itches. There's going
to be a scar. The first one she's sustained since she became a woman.
A constant reminder of that night.
She hates not knowing what happened that night. She remembers arriving
back at the hotel, listening to Wesley's instructions as dispassionately
as she could, with her back pressed against Xander, her hand locked
in his. She remembers kissing him hard before she left him to go up
on the roof, remembers standing naked with the wind blowing up her ass
and gravel biting the soles of her feet. She remembers the bitter taste
of the potion, but after that, all she remembers is bits: the terrifying
rush of passion, the burning moonlight… Angel’s teeth buried
in her flesh, her blood trickling down her back… Pain and joy…
Feeling Angel inside her huge and so hot for a dead man… and then
a wave of overwhelming weakness rolling her into darkness.
She'd been shaken awake by a panicked Wesley to find the moon far down
the sky. Remembers feeling numb, but oddly serene as he'd wrapped her
in a blanket and helped her downstairs. Where Xander was waiting. Poor
Xander had been pale and bandaged but when he saw her, he opened his
arms and they held on to each other like they were the only two people
in the world.
Which, (ready or not, here I come), is about to change.
A child. Jesus Christ on a crutch, a child. She's shit-scared in a way
she hasn't been in decades, if ever. It's not just knowing she's stuck
in one form for months to come. What the hell is she supposed to do
with a baby? What the hell are the Old Ones thinking to do this now?
A child. 94 years old and they never saw fit to 'bless' her before.
Can gods go senile? The timing couldn't be much worse, with her stuck
in the path of apocalypse because Xander won't abandon his friends,
his family, his home. No matter how much she begs. Maybe he'll be persuaded
when he hears her news. Please God, otherwise they're all liable to
end up dead. For love. Cause she won't leave him. No matter what.
She has to tell him.
What the hell is she going to do?
Orexis rises slowly to her feet, savoring the delicious ache of conjuring
that lingers in her flesh. She holds her arms up to the baleful moon
in salute because it never hurts to be polite. The remains of her sacrifice
lie on the ground, open and steaming slightly in the winter chill. Moonlight
glitters on the tiny teeth exposed by its death grimace. Beside it the
dark shapes of its liver, heart, and kidneys lie on the paving stones,
each surrounded by its own significant spatters of blood and other fluids.
She thinks it quite lovely, not least because of the message she reads
All things considered, the auguries are favorable. Overwhelmingly so.
True, there are a few random spatters and twisted vessels here that
speak of opposition, an odd malformation there of the gall bladder that
she doesn't like the look of, but overall it's very good news. In just
a few more days everyone and everything in Sunnydale will belong to
Not that she ever had serious doubts. True, she had been slightly thrown
off by that little contretemps involving that treacherous bleached bloodsucker
stealing her wolf and betraying her secrets to the meddlers. It annoys
her to think of her possessions out there, loose. She comforts herself
with the thought that as they haven't left the vicinity of the Hellmouth,
they'll find out soon enough just how ephemeral their 'freedom' is.
She remembers the shock and outrage she'd felt when her bindings were
unraveled. She'd seriously underestimated the little witch's power.
But, again, she must keep things in proper perspective. In the end the
interfering witch was little more than a child and despite all her power
too inexperienced to have learned that pawns exist to be sacrificed.
She doesn't know it yet, but she's lost the game by allowing the one
piece that truly matters slip through her hands.
Mood restored, she uses the shovel to carefully scrape up the kid's
remains. She takes the time to wrap them up neatly in a black bag before
putting it in the garbage. Animal sacrifice isn't illegal, but there's
no need to upset the gardener unnecessarily.
She shuts the door carefully on the night and goes upstairs to check
on her guest.
Moonlight casts filigreed shadows across the bed and its occupant. She's
asleep. Poor thing, she looks so peaceful. And very young, the premature
lines of care and sorrow erased. The quilt has slipped, exposing her
too-thin shoulder. She's tempted to run her hands over and under the
downy skin, to explore the strength hidden in the meat of this deceptively
frail body. Mentally shaking a finger at herself, she tucks the cover
around her guest. No, not yet.
The doorbell rang at 9:00 p.m., as she was making her preparations for
the augury. She'd known who it was of course, she'd felt the connection
growing stronger as she came closer. She still remembered to look surprised
when she opened the door.
Such a sad face. Tearstained and haggard, she looked far older than
her 19 years.
"Buffy dear, what's the matter?"
"Hi, Sylvia," she'd sniffled. "I know it’s late.”
she dropped her gaze. “Sorry, but I didn’t know where else
Struggling to hide her reaction as a surge of pleasure at this display
of vulnerability snaps through her like a lightning bolt, she opens
the door wide. "Come in dear."
Buffy was hungry and thirsty and desperate for someone to listen to
her. Sylvia fed and watered the girl, then sat at her kitchen table
and listened with sincere interest while Buffy spilled out the events
of the last day and night. Sylvia had hidden her amusement that even
now, in the midst of her despair she remembers to edit out certain details.
So, there’s no mention of vampires or magic of course -- just
a tale of betrayal, rejection, and despair. Someday she’ll have
to hear the uncut version.
Finally Buffy reaches the end of her tale in a rush of words:
"I just had to get out of there. I just drove. North. I figured
maybe I'd go to Alaska, or Canada -- just anywhere. I got as far as
Portland and I had to buy gas and I realized that I didn't have any
money, and I don't know anybody in Alaska and it's not even my car.
So I came back. But I don't want to go back to the house, to see them.
Not right away. Don't worry, I won't bug you for long. I just need…to
think, figure out what I'm going to do next."
"Dear, don't worry about a thing. You can stay here as long as
you need to. I have more than enough room."
"Are you sure?" Buffy smiled hesitantly.
"Absolutely, dear, don't give it a second thought."
"Now, I think I should show you your room. You look like you could
use some rest."
The poor dear cried herself to sleep.
She closed the door carefully behind her. She thinks she’ll make
waffles for breakfast. Nothing like a good, solid breakfast to start
the day out right.
Oz woke with a grunt when a sliver of daylight touched his face. He
banged his head against the bars uncurling awkwardly from a position
his rigid human spine has big problems with. He stood shivering in the
early morning chill and looked for his clothes. He’s puzzled by
the broken glass inside the cage. He doesn’t remember it being
here last night. Of course by the time they’d gotten here he was
pretty much past noticing fine details.
The car stalled eight blocks from the cemetery and they’d wasted
precious minutes trying to get it started. Then they ran. He'd felt
the sun slipping below the earth and pulling the wolf to the surface
as he'd thrown himself into the cage, mind already going. His last memory
was of the rattle of keys behind him as Mrs. Summers struggled to lock
That had been a little too close.
His clothes are in the corner. He picked them up gingerly, but this
time he's been lucky, no wolf-piss. He was zipping up his jeans when
the door creaks open behind him. He froze, before turning slowly; he
already knew who it was.
She nodded. "Uh, I told Joyce I'd bring you breakfast." His
mouth watered at the smell of fried meat, egg and cheese wafting from
the bag in her hand. The familiar static caused by seeing her filled
his head. Sadness and love and despair and anger and yearning and hate
all mixed together. As she came forward to unlock the cage he noticed
that she looks tired, and thinner than she had just a few weeks ago
when he watched her sleeping beside him.
When she loved him.
The key is in her hand, but she stood there fidgeting, he recognizes
her resolve face. Holding his top in one hand, he waited.
"Listen,” she said finally. “We haven't had much private
time since you came back and there's something I need to say to you."
He was pretty sure he doesn’t want to hear this, but he nodded
anyway. She takes a deep breath.
"O.K. Ummm, Oz, you've made it obvious that we're done, which is
– not O.K., but probably a good idea. Because I'm not up to that
kind of pressure. You left me, not because I'd done anything…Cause
I would never have done anything Oz. Never. You dumped me because you
could tell that part of me still thinks about Xander-- that way. Well,
news flash Oz: I'm human, and human beings have, y'know, bad thoughts
sometimes. But there's a big difference between thinking about something
and doing it. Unless you're Big Brother, or a werewolf I guess."
That pissed him off. Doesn't she know what it feels like to smell lust
on her when Xander is near? To know that his mate, his heart…
…she doesn’t know. She can’t. And maybe it's not fair
to expect her to.
She shook her head. He realized that she's been waiting for him to say
something and he's missed his chance. "That's it I guess,"
she said sadly. She unlocked the cage, placed the bag carefully on the
ground and walked away.
Feeling frozen to the bone, he pulled on his sweater and clutched his
arms around himself as he watched her go. Her shadow stretched down
the stairs behind her and then she was gone into the morning.
The morning sunlight filters prettily through lace curtains. Birds are
singing outside her window. There are fresh flowers in a crystal vase
on the bedside table and a handmade quilt on the bed. Dust wouldn’t
dare come in here. Martha Stewart would hang her head and slink back
to her home planet in shame if she could see this room. Everything is
so beautiful and perfectly placed and shiny she feels like she’d
better get out before someone notices she’s spoiling the look
This is the nicest room she’s ever been in and she's all alone
in it. She should probably just get used to that. Being alone. Just
accept the fact that no-one really cares about her.
Her so-called friends pretend they care, but they don't really give
a damn. She's like an attack dog, handy to have around when the monsters
show up, worth a pat on the head, some kibble but not someone you really
care about. Friends, real friends don’t lie to you, don’t
sneak around behind your back, don’t help other people –
not even fully human-people – steal your boyfriend.
Her mind winces away from the image of Angel, beautifully naked…with
that little bitch wrapped around him. Touching him, him touching her,
making love to her…
…Like he can't make love to her, ever.
Next time she sees Alice, she’s going to slay her, like she should
have in the first place. She’s obviously a witch, as well as a
were-beast. She would have done the job last night, but they stopped
her. Her ‘friends’.
At least Cordelia's never pretended to be her friend. She's always been
a bitch, so she’s as mad at her as she is with the rest of them.
She doesn’t ever want to see them again, any of them. They'd lied
to her; they'd plotted behind her back to steal Angel, to steal any
hope she had of happiness. Xander, Willow, Giles, Oz; even her mom.
Her mom. She can't trust her, can’t trust any of them. They're
probably laughing at her right now. At stupid little Buffy.
Maybe Faith was right. Maybe she should just go out and enjoy what’s
left of her limited shelf life. What was it? Want, take, have. Except
what she really wants, she can’t have and it all makes her feel
hollow and tired. Maybe Slayers don’t necessarily get killed so
much as let themselves go. Because what's the point of saving the world
if there's no-one in the whole world who cares about you?
She jumps at a knock at the door. “May I come in, dear?”
Buffy sighs. “Yeah.”
Sylvia comes in, she's wearing a faintly ridiculous apron with flowers
printed white on palest pink. There's a smudge of something white on
her nose. Something about her makes Buffy feel better just seeing her.
"Good morning dear, did you sleep well?" Buffy shrugs, she
knows she’s being kinda rude, but she's not a morning person on
a good day, and this isn't one. Sylvia's smile never flickers. "Do
you feel up to some waffles?"
Waffles? Suddenly the smell of crispy buttery goodness floods her senses.
Oooh, waffles. Not the toaster kind either. Real waffles. Her stomach
grumbles, how long has it been since she's eaten? Sometime before she
left Sunnydale -- was that just two night ago? Mom used to make waffles.
Back when she cared, or acted like she did. Only Sylvia's not as old
as her mom. At least, she doesn't think so. Buffy finds herself studying
Sylvia’s smiling, pleasant face for clues to her age. Funny, she
has kind of an odd face, sort of blurry; it's hard to focus on the details…
"Buffy?" She blinks, her concentration broken. “Breakfast?”
"Sorry. Yeah, waffles sound great. I guess I am kinda hungry."
"Good, come down then, as soon as you're ready."
Buffy smiles, feeling a little of her pain slip away.
2. Two Weeks, Three Days
Wesley steps into the quiet office and opens the blinds to let in the
morning light. Later they'll need to be closed for Angel's sake, of
course, but for now he's free to enjoy the sunlight. And the quiet.
He sets the coffeemaker to work on the first pot of the day. His mother
would say that he's becoming quite the American: drinking coffee rather
than tea when given the choice. The sound of coffee brewing is loud
in the empty office. As usual, he's the first one in the building, not
just in Angel Investigations. The other building tenants won't start
arriving before 8. Cordelia will be in around 9:30 a.m., which is a
good half-hour earlier than formerly, evidence of how seriously she's
taking this latest apocalypse.
With his coffee cradled carefully in both hands, Wesley goes to his
desk. His left arm and shoulder are still a bit weak; he's only had
the sling off for a few days. Otherwise, he's almost back to his usual
self, injuries largely healed, though the wounds on his throat and arm
still ache at certain times.
He leans back in his chair and drinks, relishing the heat, the bitterness,
and the sharp spike of caffeine. Much better than a cuppa. This is the
best part of the day for him, he likes the quiet, enjoys being able
to concentrate on the research without the distraction of his co-workers.
In due time, he sets aside his empty cup, opens the Julian codex, and
begins to read. Thinking, as he has every day for almost two weeks,
that surely there must be some clue, some hint as to how to deal with
this Orexis creature. She is after all only a demon, and they've killed
demons, hundreds of them. Sooner or later they will work out how to
defeat this one. He cannot let himself believe otherwise.
At 9:30 on the dot, Cordelia sweeps into the office. She comes bearing
coffee, pastries, and a wide warm smile all for his benefit.
Thus endeth his idyll.
"Latte and pain chocolat. Right?" She beams at him as she
sets them down on the edge of the desk.
"Thank you," Wesley says, gracefully accepting the offering.
He's concluded that this is her way of dealing with the misplaced guilt
she feels for Angel's actions. It’s an irrational reaction. It’s
hardly her fault that Angel chose to feed on him instead of her. He’s
in love with her after all. All blame, all guilt, properly belongs to
Angel; but considering the weight he already bears, perhaps Cordelia
offered to take care of the excess. In any case, he's going to take
the free pastry and caffeine while it lasts.
“Anything?” She asks.
She nods and goes to her desk. Sits down and switches on the computer,
taking a sip of her own skinny-decaf-latte. Smoothes her already glossy
hair, tapping a fingernail impatiently on the monitor as she waits for
Windows to load.
Wesley looks down at the page again and pretends to work while surreptitiously
studying his watch. The second hand is halfway through its second sweep
around the dial when he hears the elevator motor start up. He doesn't
have to see Cordelia's face to know how it has come alive at the sound.
Also given is the quick return of her attention to the screen as Angel
He looks as he always does, improbably handsome, dressed for a funeral,
or a dance club. He certainly shows no lingering signs of the ordeal
he'd been through. Of course not.
"Morning Wes," he says, his eyes sliding away. It's hard for
Angel to look at Wesley these days. Wesley understands the difficulty.
There's a definite reluctance on his part to look at the vampire. Uncomfortable
memories keep intruding--
… cold tongue and lips brutalizing his mouth…
…hard fingers holding him still, as sharp teeth slid into him...
…brutally cheerful voice whispering into his ear "We’re
going to have lots of fun."
Somehow the knowledge that Angelus has been permanently banished doesn't
help much. Possibly because his scars still throb and ache unpredictably
in Angel's presence. His heart speeds, and he can't rid himself of the
suspicion that the vampire is aware of that uncontrollable pulsing,
aware and approving. All the trust, the friendship that had been built
up over the past year has been erased in one horrible night.
"Good morning Angel." He resolutely keeps his own gaze on
Angel's face. He's decided that the best thing is for him to go. Not
now, of course, but once this current crisis is finished he'll make
his excuses, and leave. Go back to England, perhaps. Even dealing with
his father would be preferable to this.
"Any luck?" Angel asks.
Wesley shakes his head. "As I told Cordelia, I'm afraid not."
Angel nods, his concentration drifting. His eyes are on the other side
of the room. "Morning Cordy," he says. Trying for casual and
failing miserably, sexual tension making the air sparkle like ozone.
She keeps her eyes on the monitor. "Hi" she says grudgingly
in a tone colder than an Antarctic winter. Apparently all is not well
in Eden. Wesley sighs and grimly forces his attention back to the codex.
Richard and Liz there are beginning to get on his nerves. He loathes
Angel stands helpless in the face of her anger. God, he wants her. And
she wants him. But…
"It's been a long time…" Last night in the office he'd
tried explaining it to her, after forcing himself to pull back from
the lush warmth of her mouth.
Eyebrows raised Cordelia had stared at him. "Uh, Angel, Alice wasn’t
that long ago."
Good thing he can't blush. "That -- the ritual – I don’t
really remember." Liar, he thinks, the memory of how good it felt,
crystal clear. "I don't want to be out of control like that, with
you." Because the memory of how close he'd come to killing Alice
makes him want to run from the woman in front of him, and keep running.
He’d abandon his redemption, his duty, anything to save her from
"Angelus can't come back, ever. Right?" She said impatiently.
"Yeah, but Cordy, I'm still a vampire. You can't ever forget that."
"Duh. Not forgetting anything." She’d trapped him against
the desk and kissed him again. "I trust you Angel."
He knows. She trusts him, wants him, loves him. He loves her, wants
her, but he doesn't have her faith. And she doesn’t know how close
his lust is to hunger. How, even without the demon whispering in his
ear, the sound of her blood rushing through her veins competes for his
attention with the sweet weight of her breast in his hand when she presses
herself against him, and pulls him close.
So he'd shoved her away, before the smell and taste and feel of her
made it impossible for him to stop. Watched her eyes turn cold and bereft.
Unable to stand it, he’d run downstairs half-hoping, half-fearing
she'd follow him. When he heard the office door slamming behind her
as she fled the building it felt like his heart was being torn out.
This morning she won’t even look at him. This is Hell.
Behold! The Dork Avenger emerges from the batcave, right on schedule.
First he says good morning to Wes, no eye-contact, check. Looks over
at her, all puppy dog eyes, check. "Hi," she says, putting
a world of irritation into that one word. Because she's really tired
of this shit and she's not putting up with it anymore.
It’s been two weeks plus of flying together like magnets the minute
Wes is out of the way, with the groping and the rubbing and the kissing,
trying to get inside each others skins through too many layers of clothing,
getting almost there…
And being cut off cold. Every. Single. Time.
She means yeah! foreplay; foreplay is definitely a good thing, and at
first, right after the whole Karma Sutro from hell thing with Alice,
not to mention Angelus she'd been all in favor of going slow, but not
to the point where they never get past the fore- to the full- play.
It’s been *weeks* now and news flash: Cordelia Chase is all grown
up; all this heavy petting is just getting annoying. It's Xander and
adventures in the broom closet all over again and sheesh Angel would
be pissed if he knew he was being compared to Xander; he'd lose it.
Maybe she should mention it. Maybe that would move him on.
Every time they get groiny, every time they get close to skin on skin,
Control Guy freaks. She feels like Rock Hudson, (well maybe not Rock
Hudson cause of the whole *gay* thing, maybe more like James Garner)
trying to get Doris Day to give it up. She only wishes it was as easy
as buying him a big ring and saying 'will you marry me'. But that would
be too easy.
Now he's going for his cup of coffee. Still with the big brown eyes.
Told her not to bother with the expresso, he can't really taste the
difference, he drinks coffee mostly for the warmth and, though he didn't
say, because drinking coffee makes him seem a little more human. Which
is important to him, which is why he won't bring his blood up and drink
it in front of them because he thinks it will freak them out, like they
don't know he's a vampire. Like it's going to slip their minds. Dumbass.
Angel's got in his head that she can only love him because she's not
clear on the whole vampire thing. He just can't bring himself to believe
that she loves him as he is. She knows who and what he is. She knows
he's not human, at least in the breathing got a heartbeat kinda way.
Knows he's a man in everything that really counts. Not necessarily the
smartest guy in the world though.
Thinks he's supposed to make all the decisions. Just like he left Buffy,
dropped her like a bad habit because he decided she should have a normal
life. Right, that worked out well. Psycho-Buffy, come on down. So now
he won't do the nasty with her because he's afraid he'll hurt her and
of course it's all up to him to make this decision. Clueless, undead,
condescending, father-knows-best idiot that he is.
Well, yeah, OK, sometimes she's afraid he'll hurt her. She really doesn't
want to be bit. Nothing about what she's seen of that looks like fun.
But. If that's what it takes, if it's absolutely necessary, well then,
Time for drastic action.
"Angel," she says sweetly. "Come here for a moment?"
She can feel Wesley watching as Angel crosses the room. Poor Wes, on
so many levels but she doesn’t have time for that now. Nervously,
Angel takes a sip of his coffee. She points her finger at the screen,
and he bends down to her level, staring at the screensaver. He jumps
when she grabs him by the collar and whispers into his ear.
"You, me, tonight, or never," she hisses.
Willow groans. Her eyes hurt, and her head. She's been reading the faded
script of the latest in a long line of occult tomes for – jeez,
what time is it? 2 a.m. Oh. Later than she thought.
She vaguely remembers Giles going upstairs with Joyce hours ago. Xander
and Alice are long gone too. She’s not real sure when. A while
ago. She hasn’t seen Oz for days. It‘s been just her and
Spike for hours. No reason for her to hurry home: the ‘rents are
out of town at a conference, no-one’s there to notice if she’s
out all night. No new there.
Tick, tick, tick, time running out. The solstice is less than a week
away, and they've got nothing.
Oh. Spike's looking at her, half-smile on his face. Easy to forget he's
there what with the no breathing. He reads silently, barely rustling
the pages as he turns them. He's pretty good at the translating. Better
at the Greek than the Latin. He’d scowled and refused to answer
when she asked where he'd picked it up. He's thinner now, his cheekbones
architectural, and incredibly pale. Maybe they should feed him more.
Giles is the one in charge of the blood, but he’s been kinda distracted
lately. She can tell their fearless leader has given up. He doesn’t
think they’re going to make it. He’s still going through
the motions, but he’s drinking more and researching less and him
and Joyce act like it was their honeymoon instead of the end of the
"What?" she snaps at Spike, sick of his staring.
"Nothin', just enjoying the sweet smell of despair," he drawls.
His eyes glitter coldly. Willow drops her gaze. Just ignore him, and
he'll get tired of bothering you. Cause that works.
"Tell me something Red: why are you still here? Any of you, but
especially you. You’re smart. You ought to know better."
She’s got her reasons. Lots of them. Because it's my home. Because
it matters that thousands, maybe millions of people don't get sucked
into hell. Because part of being the good guys is that you don't get
to run away just because you’re going to lose. All of which she
knows he'd laugh at, so she turns it back on him. "Why are you
"Where else am I gonna go? Best place for me to have a chance at
that bitch. Not much of a chance, but still it’s somethin'."
He lights a cigarette, which is strictly against the house rules. She
starts to say something, but a little voice inside snarks that if Giles
doesn't want Spike to smoke, he should be down here to stop him.
"You're wrong, we'll win. We always win."
"Yeah, I know. Like the Slayer. She wins all her battles…till
that last one."
Willow winces, reminded of just who, just *what* she's talking to. Ignore
him. Get back to the books, back to the research, the goddamned useless
"So, you and Wolfie are done," he says not taking the hint.
Willow sighs. "Yeah."
"So there's a vacancy?" Her head shoots up to find his eyes
focused and intent on her and he's way too close. Somehow he's on her
side of the table. She stares like an idiot as he starts to draw slow
careful patterns on her forearm with a cool finger.
"Harris and his bitch are safe in bed by now. The Watcher's upstairs,
makin' hay while there's still a sun. What about you? C'mon Red, why
not have a little fun; I know what you like." Willow shivers, remembering
the way he'd touched her. The icy perfection of his technique. God knows
he's had time to practice it.
She takes her arm back. "Go away Spike."
He smirks. "You sure?"
"Sorry, Spike but I don't feel like making you scream tonight,"
she says deliberately letting some of the darkness she feels seething
and growing inside her show in her eyes. Willing him to remember…
White light, and pain.
His pale eyes go wide and he jerks his hand away as though she were
a hot stove he'd forgotten could burn him. He stares at her, then he’s
Willow feels a little better. Maybe she’ll lie down on the couch
and get some sleep now.
We do this because we can, Giles thinks as he kisses his way down the
curve of Joyce's back.
Because he knows this very well may be the last time. He doesn't think
there will be any last-minute miracles this time. To be fair, they’ve
had more than their share. He can see no way to keep Orexis from opening
the Hellmouth and making Sunnydale into her own personal hell.
They’ve researched till his eyes were raw and his head felt full
of cold oatmeal. He imagines that he can hear Willow still turning pages
downstairs. He’d tried to get her to go home hours ago, but she
refused. She's undeterred by weeks of failure, determined to find the
key to Orexis' destruction. Sure that she will find it, because, hey,
they're the good guys, and they always win. He remembers being that
young. He remembers hope.
He contacted the Council of course. He might have spared himself the
trouble. The gloating, patently insincere regret dripping into his ear
out of the receiver made him itch to be 25 again and have the power
to send black fire and ruin down the wire to the bastards.
He’d even gone so far as to contact Ethan but his old enemy and
friend refused to have anything to do with the matter, wouldn't even
give him a contact.
“Just leave," Ethan told him. "Take your friends and
leave, now. You know you can’t win this one.”
And he knows that Ethan is probably correct, but he can't do it, can't
walk away, from Sunnydale, from Buffy, from any of them. It’s
his duty, after all, what he was bred to. He wishes there was a way
to persuade the others to go. They're young, they have their whole lives
before them. His heart would break if he lost her, but Joyce is young
enough to start a new life somewhere else. Of course, she’d no
more think of abandoning her daughter than he would. They’re both
chained by obligation.
So, here and now, he persuades a willing Joyce onto her back, and suckles
on her nipples with his tongue until they’re hard and aching.
She pulls him up into a kiss, and he loses himself in the sensation
of her mouth on his, of her tongue entwined with his. This is what’s
true, this is what’s right and if he’s going to die he wants
it to be with the taste of her still vibrant in his mouth.
Out of sheer morbid curiosity he went to the Professor's house. She
lives high in the lushly landscaped hills where Sunnydale wealth has
squatted since the Spanish were pushed out by the Americans. With his
inner eye he saw the way wall and window and roof were overlaid with
darkly luminous lines of sorcery; the place reeked of power. Far more
power than he or Willow could hope to summon, even at the cost of their
souls. He'd stood there feeling enraged and foolish thinking of incendiaries
and explosives, certain that none of them would do any good. Expecting
a patrol car to pull up next to him at any moment and a wary police
officer to ask excuse me sir but what's your business in this neighborhood.
Walked away at last, wondering if she were inside, watching him. Laughing.
Working his way down her body, kissing and stroking. Tracing the faint
silvery lines that mark the lower swell of her belly with his fingers;
souvenirs of Buffy. Joyce is embarrassed by them but he loves them,
loves the proof of her maternity. Even though her child is lost to them
now and possibly forever.
He coaxes Joyce’s legs apart and buries his face between her legs.
Taking his time, savoring her whimpers as he laps and teases, tongue
tracing every whorl and elaboration of her flower until she arches off
the bed, ecstatic, but trying to keep from being too loud. Freed, she
collapses back onto the bed, eyes shut and he props himself up so he
can drink in her flushed and glorious face. Oh God, Joyce. You deserved
so much better of the world.
He can’t wait another minute. He has to be inside her, now. He
sits up and pulls Joyce up into his lap, and onto him. She rests her
arms on his shoulders and adjusts herself; being inside her is unutterably
sweet. They sit there quietly looking into each other's eyes drinking
each other in and he realizes he’s not the only one thinking about
He begins thrusting up into her, feeling her solid and warm on his legs,
her soft slightly sagging breasts brushing against his chest. Her mouth
on his, breathing in tiny gasps into his mouth.
"Joyce," he whispers. He reaches down between them and finds
her button, stroking it firmly, the way she likes. Her moans change
tenor in response, rising up the scale, hands clutching him almost hard
enough to hurt until she loses control and groans, her body clenching
around him, setting him off in turn. They sag and melt together into
This is the way the world ends… there are worse ways.
Joyce waits until the tension finally goes out of his body and Giles
starts to snore. She lies there a little longer, listening to the reassuring
sound. Feeling the comfortably possessive weight of his hand resting
on her hip. If it was sorcery in the beginning, she knows it's real
When she's sure he won't wake, she slips out of bed and goes to the
bathroom. She shuts the door carefully, sits down on the closed toilet
seat, and finally lets herself cry. Quietly. The last thing she wants
to do is wake them up, upset them. They've all been so considerate.
Willow, Xander, Alice, Oz, all of them
Her car was returned sometime during the third night after Buffy left
for LA. She went outside to pick up the newspaper, and there it was,
gleaming, freshly waxed. No note on the dashboard or in the glove compartment.
Just the damned car.
At least they know she's alive. Willow saw her a few days later on campus.
She'd tried to speak to Buffy --- that first time Buffy simply disappeared.
The second time she stared at her former best friend as though she didn't
know her then shoved her aside with casual violence. Never said a word.
She hasn't called.
Her baby’s out there, angry and alone. Oh God. Please, help her.
Alice groans and comes and even with her eyes shut she can tell that
Xander’s got that smug little smile on his face. Her love is in
serious danger of getting a swollen head. Can't have that. She wraps
her legs tighter around his waist, clenches herself around him on his
next thrust and blows his self control right out the water. She grins
vengefully as his eyes roll up in his head and he spills deep inside
Lying in a happy tangle afterwards, she thinks, OK, now. Never going
to be a better time. She gets up on her elbow and looks down at his
face. He’s so damn pretty, lying there profiled against the darker
sheets, long dark lashes lying against his sweat-beaded cheek, lips
curved in orgasm's wake and drifting towards sleep. She almost hates
to spoil the moment.
"Xander," she says softly.
He yawns, opening his eyes reluctantly. "Yeah baby?"
"Uh, I have to tell you something." He looks up at her and
she takes a deep breath. It’s going to be OK, he loves you.
"Ah…" C'mon girl. Spit it out. "Xander, I'm pregnant."
"What!" That woke him up alright.
"I'm going to have a baby." .
"Ah…oh. That's what I thought you said. You sure? How long?"
Oh yeah, she’s sure. Since the morning after the ritual. She says,
her guts twisting, she can't tell if he's happy or not.
He’s blowing this, he can tell from her expression as she answers.
"A few weeks."
"Oh God…Alice… This is so great!" And he means
it, even though he’s not quite over the shock. Alice still looks
unhappy. "What's wrong?"
She sighs, and drops the rest on him. "I 'm not going to be able
to help you in the battle…I can't Change. I’m stuck like
this, until she's born."
Give him credit, he tries to look disappointed. But he can tell she’s
not fooled. Doesn’t care. He hugs her, kisses her, lays his head
against her stomach and wonders if he can hear anything this early.
"A baby. Wow. Hey, hey, don't worry baby, we're going to be OK."
She clings to him, willing herself to believe that he's right.
They ended up at Cordelia's because they both agreed that the bad associations
with Angel's big black bed are just a little too fresh. Now that they’re
here though, she wonders if maybe they should have gone somewhere a
little more neutral, maybe checked into the Hilton. Her bedroom seems
to have shrunk two sizes with him in it and she's certain that Dennis
is watching though he'd promised he wouldn't.
They stand there, awkwardly, looking at each other and the horrible
thought occurs to her, God, please no, what if it's awful, like that
fish mouthed, tooth-clicking ohmigod-what-am-I-doing incident with Wes.
Not that they hadn't covered the kissing thing and also the fondling
thing pretty darn thoroughly, but what if that's all there is?
He just stands there, looking at her with pensive face, and that snaps
her right out of self- doubt mode, because she already knows what he's
going to say before he opens his mouth.
"Cordelia, are you sure?" Mumbling, and avoiding eye contact.
She cuts him off before he can get to: "…maybe we should
"Dammit, you are not backing out on me now," she pokes him
in the chest. "For the last time: I'm fine. We are doing this.
Angel blinks at her. She grits her teeth.
"Listen, if you don’t want to sleep with me just say so,
OK? Cause the stalling sure isn't doing much for my self-esteem."
She glares up at him. Something softens in Angel's face as he reaches
out with one hand to cup her chin and delicately tilt it towards him.
"I want you," he says softly. She refuses to give in.
"Well?" She demands.
He bends down, a little awkwardly, and kisses her. Her heart flutters
in her chest, as he groans and pulls her closer.
Oh God. She's the sweetest thing he's ever tasted, her mouth warm and
soft as she welcomes him in and he's worried again like every time before
that she may not like it, that it will be too cold, too strange, but
she seems to like it fine, moaning softly as she curls her tongue round
his. He hardens as the awareness of her closeness pours over his skin,
ignited by the feel of her pressed against him, her wandering hands
leaving trails of fire along his back.
His hands luxuriate in the wealth of her hair, like dark silk, intensely
sensual, he hopes she never cuts it. Wishes she would never change,
perfect in this moment. His Cordelia. Her heartbeat, the smell of her
blood under the soft, silken skin his hands move over, he can feel her
pebbled nipples pressed against his chest, burning through his shirt.
He urges her towards the bed, one careful backwards step at a time till
they fall giddily onto the mattress in a tangle of eager hands, scrabbling
at buttons and zips, the two of them desperate to touch without the
frustration of clothing.
She gets his shirt open, her hands running over the smooth expanse of
muscle, teasing his pale pink nipples with her fingernails, twisting
up to nibble at his sleekness. God, there's so much of him. The weight
of him draped over her, the long muscles of his legs tangled with hers.
She works her hand under the waistband of his pants, searching for the
hardness she can feel nudging her. Grins at Angel's gasp as she makes
His hands are everywhere, stroking and kneading, her body blossoms under
his touch. Her mouth opens wide, greedy for his flesh as she kisses
his shoulder, mouthing the line of his throat, while his tongue paints
a shivery line up hers. Tastes him, not salt almost sweet. Not quite
He wants to touch all of her at once. He wants to drink from the well
between her legs. He wants…he buries his face in the side of her
neck, tongue tracing the steadily beating pulse.
She smells so good.
"Cordelia," he says thickly.
The texture of the face pressed against her neck changes, the soft lips
kissing her go cold and dry. She feels the shiver of a growl against
her skin and barely has time to be afraid before Angel lets go of her.
He throws himself onto the other side of the bed, as far away from her
as he can get, hiding his face.
"Angel?" Trying to sound like she's not really upset, though
she is. Not with him though, or at least not the way he thinks. She
can deal. Better than Angel anyway: he’s all huddled up on himself
like a tortoise. "Hey, Angel?"
He mutters something she can't make out
She crawls across the bed and puts her hand on his shoulder. He's shaking.
"Angel? Talk to me."
He turns towards her. Still bumpy, pure anguish in his yellow eyes.
He flinches when she leans in. "Angel, I've seen your face before,"
she soothes. He stills as her fingertips trace the brutal features,
learning the feel of it: cool and slightly gritty like frosted glass.
"I'm sorry," he mumbles as her hands trace thin lips that
barely seem able to hold in the teeth. Scary teeth, big and jagged,
and part of him. She kisses him.
The sensation of warm soft lips on hard demon flesh is strange and wonderful.
Only one other woman ever willingly kissed him like this. He knows he
ought to warn her not to do this, not to press her tongue into his mouth
like that because his teeth are razor sharp and her flesh so fragile,
and the thought of her blood dripping into his mouth makes him suddenly,
She falls forward into the empty space where he was. He stands on the
other side of the room, face human expression blank. Cordelia teeters
on the edge between getting mad and giving up. She takes a deep breath.
"Shower," she says getting off the bed. Confused, he watches
as she goes into the bathroom. Stands there, listening to the water
running. He should go now, and they can try another time when he has
better control. He can hear the spray splashing off her flesh, and the
steam billowing from the open door carries the enticing scent of Cordelia.
Cordelia's clothes are on the floor. Cordelia is in the shower. She
sticks her head through the curtains and looks at him. Water drips down
the curve of her cheek, pools in the hollow of her collarbone and overflows.
"Well? Come on."
He peels off his clothes slowly, feeling slightly foolish. More than
slightly. Sidles in, the shower isn’t that big, there’s
way too much flesh at close quarters and he doesn’t know where
he should put his hands.
"Do my back?" She says handing him a bath mitt. Problem solved.
He traces the smooth delicate architecture of her finely muscled back,
leaving trails of bubbles on her flawless skin. She leans back into
him as he strokes her shoulders; he puts his other hand on her hip to
steady her as he traces the bumps of her spine, down to the glorious
swell of her ass.
His fingers trailing round her hips, then follow the curve of her belly,
brushing over her ribs and her breasts, his large hands lathering them
while he leans down to blow behind her ear, gentle kiss. Mmmm. She feels
his cock fill and harden, writhing slickly against her back.
Without warning, she turns in his embrace and lets herself slide down,
grabbing hold of his hips to steady herself as she drops to her knees.
She takes his cock into her mouth in one enthusiastic gulp. The sight
of her lips stretched pink and warm and living around his cock is almost
enough to undo him, and the feeling…oh Christ. He groans as all
the blood in his body rushes South, and his knees feel ready to buckle
from the weight of his erection as Cordelia takes all of him, hands
firm on his hips holding him in place and then her tongue begins to
move, slowly, torturously along the bottom of his cock, ohhhhhh…
If she ever did this with Harris, he'll have to kill him.
"Cor-del-iaaa," he groans pulling out of her mouth just before
too late. Pulls her up, and carries her out of the shower, to the bedroom.
She wriggles, rubbing herself on him, mouth locked on his throat. They’re
both soaking wet and he doesn’t give a damn about the sheets,
throws her down on the bed, falls with her.
They both remember how this next part goes. He lifts her up and she
opens herself guiding him in till they're pressed belly to belly looking
into each other's eyes, exhilarated. Because there's no going back now.
The sensation of being inside her is almost unbearably intense. Not
like the ritual, when he'd been drugged and starving. He'd felt like
a passenger in his own body, overwhelmed by sensation. This is not like
that. He's in his right mind and this is no drugged reluctant stranger,
this is Cordelia, the woman he loves. Cordelia, who has made him welcome
in her body.
Beads of water glisten on her face and he's fully immersed in the pounding
of her heart, the smell of her blood but Cordelia’s lack of fear
has immunized him against the demon's urges. His mouth stays soft, his
teeth blunt, as they nuzzle the hollow of her throat, tasting her. He
begins to move, slowly, wanting this first time to last as long as possible.
Needing to hear her scream his name.
When she does, when she trembles and convulses around him the joy he
feels pushes him over the edge and the last time he felt like this he
lost his soul. And they promised, promised it was safe, but they might
have lied and it's too late to stop and he comes torn between terror
"Hey," Cordelia says softly. He’s been lying there for
what seems like hours, waiting for disaster, ready to warn her if he
feels that first sickening slip. "You awake?"
"Um, sure." He feels really strange. He wonders if…Cordelia
rolls over and kisses him. Snuggles closer.
"Happy?" Angel feels something vital shift inside him, and
slide into place with a click. Happy. He’s happy. And it’s
a good thing. He smiles.
"Yeah. I am."
Yesterday had been gorgeous: a real California winter day. Pale sun
gleaming in a perfect blue sky, the air just crisp enough to validate
the season. Today the sky is full of clouds and a genuinely cold wind
tugs and tears at the giant bells, candy canes, snowmen, icicles, and
angels that hang over every downtown Sunnydale intersection.
The streets are packed with busy shoppers. Sylvia is in her element,
she moves smoothly through the crowd from store to store, with Buffy
following passively in her wake. She’s carrying some of Sylvia’s
bags. She doesn’t have any of her own. She’s only here because
Sylvia asked her to come. She's finished her shopping for this year.
Before…she’d bought a Pashmina as a present for Mom. Pale
blue, mom's favorite color. Maybe she'll give it to Sylvia.
“Time for lunch?” Sylvia says brightly.
They have lunch at El Bistro Canyada, which is a giant step up from
the food hall where Buffy usually goes when she’s shopping at
the mall. There are tablecloths made of actual cloth, real flowers,
and the food is really good. Sylvia orders wine, and when she insists
Buffy have some with her she doesn’t put up much of a fight. The
wine is good and it takes some of the edge off all the frickin’
Afterwards they go out to the car. There’s a line of cars backed
up trying to escape from the parking lot. Sylvia switches on the classical
station while they wait.
“Dear, I have one more errand to run -- if that's alright with
you?” She says.
“Sure, “ Buffy says. She closes her eyes, just for a minute.
She’s really tired. She’d been out patrolling most of the
night. It’s the only thing she has left. Every night, she goes
out to kill the monsters, keeping the faith with the one thing that’s
truly hers. Making the evil things pay.
The last cemetery she hit was near Revello, and without conscious planning
she’d found herself standing outside the darkened house. She’d
listened to the silence for a long time before going up to the front
door. Surprised when the key still worked.
When she switched on the light she could see that the damage done by
the demons had been repaired; the only clue that anything had happened
was the odor of fresh paint warring with the piney smell from the Christmas
tree that stood forlornly in the foyer. Mom must have put it up just
after… It had been neglected, there was a sad sprinkling of dried-out
needles on the carpet. No presents under the tree. She let herself out
and left the keys under the mat. She won’t be back.
Sylvia glanced over at her sleeping passenger and smiled.
Wesley hung up the phone and shook his head. He took a deep breath and
swiveled his chair around to give them the news. Angel’s hand
is on Cordelia’s shoulder. Again. These past few days he always
seems to be touching her. Her hair, her arm, her back. Tactile reassurance.
“They’re prepared, as well as they can be for tonight,”
he tells them. Cordelia’s hand reaches up, and squeezes Angel’s.
Despite their grim expressions, they do not look like two people who
just got news of Armageddon. He is not jealous, really he isn’t.
But all of this billing a cooing seems a bit – inappropriate.
As she’s pulled into the vision, she fights to keep focused on
Angel’s arms holding her, but she can’t hold on. She’s
lost in the maelstrom.
The school roof is gone
and darkness pours out of the Hellmouth’s gape into the sky, staining
it and the sky’s turned to blood and black clouds spread outwards
and cover the town. Blood, and slime rain from the wounded sky and the
people that fill the street in orderly procession are smiling and unconcerned.
They all look so happy, coming her way, all dressed up with somewhere
to go. Everyone’s smiling, and when a man loses his balance and
goes down, they never pause. Smiling, unconcerned, they trample him
and leave a dark smear on the pavement in their wake. They’re
Downtown Sunnydale with a brand new look. Glittering decorations
and plastic snow stained with ruddy light. The streets packed with neatly
dressed zombies all headed towards town hall where they line up to worship
the skittering horror holding court there.
They’ve brought tribute. Piles of jewels and gold, and glass
and porcelain, paintings and flowers. Money, in damp green heaps. A
line of wailing infants ribboned and wrapped like presents in their
white faced her red hair streaming in the gale and her eyes are black
as she raises her hand and draws down lightning…Angel, mangled
and torn, falls screaming…nonononononono…Spike lying broken
on the ground, thin and pale in a spreading pool of blood…
Spike, in game face, raising a sword. Angel, cutting a swathe through
half-seen opponents, his face demonic, no attempt at hiding his joy
as he hacks and slashes and blood sprays and… Wolf-Oz, fighting,
muzzle dark, eyes mad... Buffy, golden, enraged, her lips skinned tight
over her teeth as she raises her ax and jumps.
Not a mask, but an entire skin crumpled and gleaming.
The thing rises, horrible and smug, flexing in squirmy ecstasy and
it's worse than the last time, because it’s *happy* and things
with mandibles shouldn't be able to smile…
Looking straight at her. Seeing her, and this time it knows her
"Cordelia!" She's being shaken, and held too hard but that's
a good thing because it means she has a body, she's back. She opens
her eyes to find Angel holding her on his lap, Angel looking scared
out of his mind. Not bothering to hide it.
"You wouldn't wake up! I didn't know what to do. God, Cordelia,
if anything ever happened to you…”
Angel, falling, destroyed...
Her head hurts, hurts, hurts, but she doesn't have time. They don’t
have time. "You've got to warn them, call them, and tell them:
they've got to get out of Sunnydale, right now." She sits up. Oh
shit. "Sorry," she manages to turn her head away before throwing
Buffy opened her eyes and glanced over guiltily at Sylvia. She just
hopes she didn’t snore, or drool. She looks out at the passing
scenery trying to work out how long she was out. Hey, isn’t this
– yeah, Benvenido Drive, and coming up the ruins of Sunnydale
High. She sits up a little straighter as Sylvia turns into the driveway.
There have been changes since the last time she was here. Someone’s
put up a chain link fence adorned with no trespassing signs around the
school and there’s one of those office trailers next to the gates
that Sylvia pulls the car up to. Maybe they’re going to rebuild,
after all, Sunnydale does need a high school.
"What's going on? Why are we here?"
"I have a little business I need to take care of," Sylvia
soothes. She taps once on the horn.
“Oh, OK.” Buffy yawns. Still so sleepy.
Two squat figures in security guard uniforms emerge from the portable
and hustle to unlock the gate. Sylvia drives through and parks right
in what used to be the main entrance. They get out of the car. Buffy
shivers, it's cold, and she knows it won't be any warmer in the demolished
building. Why are they here again? She turns back to the nice warm car,
but Sylvia presses the remote and the doors lock with a click.
"Come along dear, this won’t take long."
"Are you sure we should be in here?" Buffy asks as they walk
under the cracked and deadly motto. She doesn't get an answer.
It’s dark and damp and she remembers this stink from before, the
smell of char and rottenness. She's definitely regretting the wine,
her head feels fuzzy and she keeps seeing things, shadows at the edge
of her vision. They killed all the demons, right? So the shadows moving
at the edge of her vision and the furtive squelching, that's just her
imagination. Sylvia certainly isn't worried; she strides through the
red lit murk like she owns it. Where is that light coming from anyway?
"Uh, Sylvia," she says as they approach a ruined doorway she
knows way too well. She wonders how many times the school had to repair
the library doors between the Master, Spike's little Parents’
Night invasion and Angelus.
“Be quiet, dear,” Sylvia says placing her finger gently
on Buffy’s lips. She waits, head cocked to one side as the Slayer’s
words die in her mouth and her eyes glaze over. “That’s
She turns and walks deeper into the darkness. Buffy follows.
Her darlings fill the library, tall forms swaying, trunks gleaming with
excitement. The air is filled with the adoring click of their teeth
as they draw aside, clearing a path for her and her acolyte.
The light’s like blood and she’s surrounded by shadows that
move and slither and her Slayer sense has her reaching for a weapon
except she doesn’t have one and she’s not even sure she’s
awake, and Sylvia hasn’t told her what they’re doing here
and she can’t tell if she’s awake or dreaming and whether
Orexis stands staring down into the gaping hole in the floor of the
ex-library. Below, she can feel the Hellmouth, ripe and ready. Waiting
for her. “Stay here,” she tells Buffy, “I won’t
be long.” Then she begins the long descent down the ladder that
the Capteniel have woven from their own gladly sacrificed tendrils.
It’s a long way down and the ladder swings and sways giddyingly
in the darkness. She’s dizzy when she reaches bottom, has to take
a moment to compose herself. Hard, so hard, standing in the shattered
remnant of the church, feeling the power pulse around her, feeling it
pressing against the barrier that keeps it closed. She almost feels
sorry for the poor deluded vampire who’d been trapped here for
years, surrounded by it, so close, and yet so far away. That fool Wilkins
had dreamed of ‘Ascending’, but he’d never know the
reality of it. So many had come and gone over the years, scheming to
take what was rightfully hers. Finally, her time has come. She can feel
it reaching out for her, eager for consummation. Above, she can feel
the sun, weak and dying. The stars and planets tremble.
At the edge of the pool she sheds her clothes, and leans over to take
one last look at the guise that has served her so well for so long.
Pink and white, soft and smooth. She doesn’t think she’ll
miss it at all.
The time has come. The Capteniel fall silent, knowing. She reaches out
and takes hold of it, firmly, gently.
With a grating roar the bones of the thousands of sacrifices made here
over the years erupt like fungi from the blood-soaked earth. Human and
animal, skulls, ribs, vertebrae, femurs, humeri, scapuli and phalanges
wriggle free of their grave and heap themselves up until the ground
is almost invisible. The bones shift and slide randomly, then surge
forward in a rattling wave intent on destroying the desecrator. Untroubled,
Orexis wrenches the channel wider, battening on the flow of power, wrapping
it around her. One gesture turns the assault to white dust.
The torches flare and the air is set alight, in a brilliant flash that
bakes her and blinds her momentarily, but she heals herself easily with
the power, so much power as the rift begins to open. She luxuriates
in the rush feels it tearing and beating at the fabric of her body,
soaking into her, filling her.
Her demons, her Slayer, watch from above as her belly swells, skin stretched
tight obliterating all details, legs and face grotesque then impossible
as oversized limbs and body are changed from within. Her eyes, her mouth,
leak light, and then thin lines of light appear at her joints and she
groans, as her body continues to swell and distort. There’s a
slight ripping sound as the skin gives way, sloughing off her surging
flesh to lie in wet ribbons at her feet ground. She screams in profound
pleasure as muscle and organs and bone stretch to their limits and fall
away in shreds as she finally emerges, moist and still a little soft,
into the world.
Free at last.
She feels glorious. It’s been almost a century since she fully
manifested, she’d forgotten how good it felt. The Hellmouth sings
in her and the sensation of air blowing across new shell is delectable.
All the centuries of planning, the careful manipulation of humans and
demons have led to this crowning moment. With her new senses she can
see that the air around her is filled with a myriad of quivering silver
threads, each of them leading to a sentient being. Every one of them
meant just for her. She reaches out and gathers them in.
The sharp little claw
grasps him delicately, the stiff little hairs tickling the underside
of his limp cock. Disappointed, she fixes him with a glittering eye,
then clicks at him indulgently and applies a little encouraging pressure.
Spike howls, his eyes snapping open to find the reassuringly empty darkness
of his daylight haven. She’s not here, not here, not here…
but this time the mantra gives him no comfort, because he can feel her.
Here, all around him, coming for him. Sliding into his head, eating
him from the inside out.
He slams the closet door open and rushes out of the room.
“Witch! She’s doing it now! Fucking do something!”
Shouting as he runs down the hall. He reaches the landing and stops,
seeing Willow at the foot of the stairs. She already knows. Her eyes
have gone sparkly green and even in the daylight he can see a dim yellow
aura surrounding her as she stands there with her arms outstretched.
When it hit Willow had two thoughts: Hmmm, didn’t know Spike’s
voice could go that high. And: Fuck. They’d been wrong about the
time. Not midnight.
The Hellmouth’s power runs over and under her skin, like ants
swarming over a dead bird and the sheer weight of the power, the compulsion,
is making her forget what, who, how...
She wants to see *Her*. Wants to go to her and bow down and beg for
her touch, offer herself, flesh and soul to this wonderful being…
Then she’s back, as the amulets and protections and her own power
kick in. She lifts her arms and concentrates. Orexis has the Hellmouth,
but there’s so much power, she can easily divert some of it for
her own purposes without her noticing. She hopes. There. The power floods
into her, raw and invigorating. So easy, and so right to wield this
kind of power.
She sees Spike, gaping at her and it’s funny, seeing him scared.
See how he likes it. She can see the dark web of Orexis’ surrounding
him. Greedy bitch. Willow reaches out and wipes the dark threads away.
Part of her irrationally hoping that she feels the sting. Spike sags
with relief and sits down on the top step, leaning against the wall.
“Pardon,” Giles says, stepping over him. He comes down the
stairs arm and arm with Joyce, both of them smiling inanely. Weird,
they look like they’re going out somewhere. She doesn’t
think she’s ever seen Joyce in high heels before.
"Willow, aren’t you going to change?” Giles asks. “We
should go soon."
Joyce nods, and pats his arm. "We’d hate to be late."
Willow closes her eyes, and sees the black threads attached in the middle
of his and Joyce's foreheads. Blinding their third eyes. She can feel
the immense power pulsing through the thread, but fulcrum and force
is everything. Again, she reaches out and tears them away. Watches curiously
as the lines writhe and twist in the ether before reluctantly fading
Giles and Joyce shudder, and have to hold each other up. "My God…"
he says, as realization hits. “Willow, thank you.”
"We have to get out of here," Spike says.
Willow nods. “Yup. Now.”
“Oh dear God, what about Xander, and Alice…” Joyce
The phone rings.
It struck her like a hurricane, tearing at her making her skin itch
and crawl, making her teeth ache in their sockets, her bones shift under
the skin, her body wanting fur and four legs and change. She can feel
the urge moving through her, slowly not like the normal lightning. Can
feel each cell straining to shift, her nails thickening and lengthening
into deadly weapons as they sink into the tips of her fingers, as her
fingers thicken and fold into toes and tough pads and …
Alice clenches her hand around the knife she’d been using to spread
mayonnaise onto her sandwich, and focuses on it, plastic handle and
tiny serrations, human hand with nails not claws, smooth brown skin
not fur, fighting to hold herself, to be Alice, for the sake of the
tiny thing inside her that she suddenly want more than anything in the
world. She feels the power beating at her like a bad wind, roaring around
her, making her blind, deaf, helpless. She shudders, her control slipping,
then feels something reach out to her, cool and calm and set it aside.
Like closing a window, setting up a windbreak. And she can breathe again.
Panting, she lets the knife drop.
The phone is ringing. She picks it up. “Hello?”
“Alice? Are you and Xander O.K.?” It’s Willow.
"Baby, what about this one?" Xander stands in the doorway,
beaming at her. She figures this must be his funeral suit, she's never
seen it before, black and shiny. She didn't even know he owned a tie.
She can’t think of anything to say.
"Xander?” Willow says. Xander’s still waiting for an
“Are you sure you want to wear that? What about your new outfit.”
He frowns, considering. "Oh. Yeah. Maybe you’re right. Hey,
shouldn't you be getting dressed?"
She is calm. She is in control. "I’ll be upstairs in a minute,
I want to look just right."
He nods in complete understanding, and goes back upstairs.
"Alice? What’s happening. Are you guys OK?" The phone
"Aahh. I'm fine. I guess. But Xander’s gone a little nuts.”
“Damn. I can’t do anything from here. We’ll be there
in 10 minutes. Just don’t let him leave. “
“I won’t. But hurry.”
“Alice?” Xander called.
She put her hand over the receiver. “Be right there.”
“Hurry,” she whispered into the phone and hung up.
Willow hangs up and tries to think. Giles, Joyce, check, Spike, check.
Go and get Xander and Alice. Check. Oz is in LA. The Dingoehad a gig,
and Giles told him to go. Check. Buffy.
Buffy’s on her own.
They’ve had bags packed for days. She straightens her back.
“Let’s move people!”
“Any luck?” Angel asks as Wesley puts the phone down. Wesley
shakes his head.
“The lines are still down. Both the landlines and every single
cellular station in the Sunnydale area.” They look at each other.
“It’s been three hours,” Cordelia says softly. Three
solid hours of trying to reach their friends in Sunnydale. Of having
the horrors in her vision repeat inside her head on continuous loop.
Of feeling helpless and useless and doomed. Wondering if they shouldn’t
have gotten in the car and headed for Sunnydale straightaway of trying
to reach them by phone.
The phone rings.
Cordelia snatches it up. “Hello?”
“Cordelia, it’s me. Willow.”
“Willow, God. We’ve been trying to reach you for hours.
You have to get out of there. Right now!” Willow laughs.
“Yeah, we know. She opened the Hellmouth. We couldn’t stop
“Oh,” she’d known, but the news still hurt. “Are
“Everyone’s fine. We’re on the 101 outside Ventura,
ought to be in LA in a couple of hours.”
“Do you know how to get here?“
“Xander remembers. See you soon.”
She put down the phone, her hand shaking only a little. Looks up at
the two men hovering hopefully, and makes herself smile. "They
made it. They're on their way here. Everyone’s O.K."
Everyone who isn’t in Sunnydale anyway.
END PART 11
part 12, Antithesis