Chapter 1: Prologue
The three men sat at a table and drank pints of beer. At first glance there was nothing extraordinary about them, and in themselves they fit individual stereotypes with ease; but when they were looked at as a collective, there was a strange air to their solidarity.
The first man was young, about twenty five. His hair was platinum blonde and offset his blue eyes and sharply angled cheekbones. He was slim, but definitely well muscled and proportioned. He wore an ancient black leather duster, which seemed to be like a second skin, over a black t-shirt, black jeans and combat boots. It was a classic bad boy look, but his eyes spoke of emotions and experiences far beyond evil or boyhood.
The second man was old, probably about seventy. His gray hair had streaks of brown but his eyes shone blue with vitality startling in someone his age. His vitality was accompanied by a strong and fit, though slightly decaying and slim, body. A scruffy beard covered his chin and he bore a scar on his throat just peeking up over the rim of his shirt. He wore a brown suede leather jacket over a purple shirt and jeans. He was rugged, though anciently rugged would be a better way to put it, and pain lines showed around his eyes.
The third man was also old, though only about sixty to the other man’s seventy. He was a tiny person. His white hair carried traces of black dye at the tips and his green eyes glowed with an almost feral amber glint. He wore a faded t-shirt with nondescript markings on it and jeans. A closer look could discover deep calluses on the fingertips of his left hand and his shoes could hardly be seen under the cuff of his jeans. His face spoke of travel and suppressed emotion.
There seemed to be nothing to bring these three men together, but circumstances, or perhaps more, had tied them with binds they could not break. Their journey towards this day had started long before they met each other and it had been long and wearisome and nothing short of extraordinary.
For two of them it had started with a bite and the other with a new job.
35 years earlier
Oz gunned the van into fourth gear as they raced down the autostrade to escape the blast emanating from the city behind them.
“Get a move on, Dog-Boy!” came a shout from the back. “I’m bloody losing him back here!”
“We’ll get there,” Oz replied calmly as he shifted into fifth.
He pulled into the circular drive of the emergency section of the hospital just outside the blast zone and
leapt out to help the irate vampire carry their comatose friend into the waiting room.
“We need help. Now!” Spike announced to the waiting room. A nurse looked up from the desk and blanched at the
sight before her. The man Spike held in his arms had black and red marks spider webbing from his neck down and on his
arms and presumably over the rest of the body. The skin beneath the marks had turned blue, but the most horrifying
part was the vacant look in the man’s eyes.
“Move it, bint!” Spike growled as she stared at him and his burden. She pressed the intercom button and practically
screeched into it in Italian, and they could only just manage to understand her.
“I need a full team to the waiting room, stat!” She turned to Oz and asked in halting English, “What his name?”
“Wesley Wyndham-Pryce,” he answered. She handed him a clipboard to fill out as the team came rushing into the
room and relieved Spike of Wesley and wheeled him away. Spike and Oz watched him depart, the adrenaline leaving their
bodies as the situation left their hands. They waited.
5 years earlier
He had never known such rage or such pain. Each jab, each burning memory, each was his own fault. He didn’t know if he could contain it. But he would, because that’s what he did.
Oz set the empty glass down on the table and stared at the smooth surface beneath his fingers. His face showed no
emotion but his silence spoke eloquently enough. Heels click clacked on the tile floor coming toward him.
“Can I get you another one, honey?” the waitress asked him.
“Sure,” he answered, not looking up. She nodded and took his glass.
“Can I help?” a voice asked him. He looked up. The visage he beheld hit him like a blow, but only his jaw
muscles clenched tightly. Standing there was a young girl about his age with short, feathery red hair, an eager smile,
a slight build and big brown eyes. But she wasn’t her.
“No thanks,” he replied. She nodded but offered once more, a real desire to help evident in her words.
“I’d do whatever I could.”
“Yeah,” he said.
“I’ll be over here.” She turned and walked back to her table. He watched her go, emotions and memories
pouring over him in waves. But she wasn’t her.
She opened up the paper and read it along with her coffee. He watched her read, studying her movements and
expressions. She had a frown on her face while she read the front page, though it lightened when she got to the
comics. Her whole body moved forward eagerly at the sports section. She wasn’t her.
Oz finished his drink the waitress brought him and left a few bills on the table. He went into the restroom
and leaned against the sink looking into the mirror. His face was haggard and weary and his body sagged as though it
could barely hold up his tiny frame. A vicious red claw mark and a slightly less discernable surgical incision showed
on his neck as he bowed his head. They would be with him always. But he didn’t need a reminder. He already knew she
He clutched a talisman he wore on a bracelet around one wrist and a small moment of peace ran over him. He
swallowed hard and walked out of the restroom toward the exit.
She glanced up at him as he left.
“I’m sure she really loves you,” she offered. Oz paused, his back to her and his hand on the door handle.
“She does,” he said quietly and then walked out the door into the sunshine. She looked after him thoughtfully,
the sun flowing through the window and lighting her hair up like fire. But she wasn’t her.
3 and a half years later
Spike stormed into Wesley’s office cursing and pacing, saying words that Wesley looked surprised he understood and a little ashamed he did. Spike stopped abruptly when he realized he’d interrupted Fred and Wesley in the midst of a meeting or perhaps love fest more accurately described it.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “Angel’s just…” he trailed off. They nodded in understanding. “I’ll get outta your hair.”
“No, Spike,” Wesley told him, “it’s okay.” He turned to Fred. “I’m sorry, but I just remembered an
appointment I had with the head of that new demon cult that we’ve been negotiating with. It’s rather important.”
“Then you’d best get going.” Fred smiled at him. Wesley’s face softened and he treated himself to a kiss
before going out the door. Spike snorted but seated himself comfortably in Wesley’s desk chair with his feet on the
“I envy you, you know,” he said conversationally. Fred perched on the edge of the desk.
“You know what you want and you went after it and got it,” he replied. Fred nodded.
“Is this about Buffy?”
“No! It’s about Santa Clause!” Spike exploded. “Cause all I’ve ever cared about is a jolly fat demon who goes
around eviscerating children!”
Fred jumped and then said sternly,
“I’m just trying to help, Spike! That’s no call for biting my head off.”
“I’m sorry, pet,” Spike said, chastened.
“Is Santa really an eviscerating demon?”
“Sure thing, luv,” he replied. “Been around for years.”
“So did Buffy slay him?” she asked. Spike snorted again.
“Nah, bloke never leaves his igloo. But she’s gotten plenty of other nasties in her time, including me.
Dropped an organ on me once.” Fred chuckled a bit and they sat in companionable silence while Spike waited until she
worked up her courage to broach a subject that hadn’t met with much success the last time she’d tried. She did all too
“Why don’t you go to her, Spike?”
“Because who’d have me?” he asked. “I don’t know. All I’ve ever wanted was her, but I don’t know who I am
anymore or why I’m back or what the bloody hell is going on in this world. And someday I’ll search heaven and earth to
find her, but not yet. Gotta figure out just what William the Bloody Spike is yet.”
“Until then?” she asked quietly.
“I miss her like hell.”
3 months later
He sat there looking out into the back alleyway, the alleyway filled with blood and gore and rubbish and corpses.
Spike sighed as he looked at Wesley and thought back over the last few months and the events that had brought
the former Watcher to his present state of indolence. The blank face of the man staring out the window was the face of
one dead, dead because of a girl.
Angel had been furious when Fred had been killed. His grief was overwhelmed by rage that one of his own had
died and died under the roof of Wolfram and Hart. He’d told them to get out, to leave their work and he would follow.
They’d done so and all of hell had been unleashed upon them.
Wesley had died when Fred left them. Angel’s anger choked his actions and he was completely irrational, but
Wesley’s mind had no rationality to begin with. Gunn’s guilt had driven him to almost complete silence, but Wesley
never spoke a word to anyone. Lorne’s drinking had grown constant and he never left the bar, but Wesley didn’t need
alcohol to drive him over the edge. Spike’s heart had been broken by the death of the person who tried to save him,
but Wesley’s heart had disappeared when she did.
Legions upon legions had rushed against them down in the alley behind the Hyperion. Spike fought them all,
Angel fought them all, Gunn fought them all, Lorne had left town, completely despondent, but Wesley fought them all.
He fought though he was dead.
When it was over they stood victorious, victorious being a subjective word in this case. Gunn was dead. The
tide had been stemmed but not broken. They would be hunted for the rest of their lives. Illyria had stood and watched
and when Spike and Angel had lifted Wesley’s body from among the carnage and moved a small spark of what looked like
life into him, she walked away with Fred’s body leaving four dead men behind her.
Spike looked back at Wesley again who had still not moved, nor spoken, nor eaten anything of his own volition
from that moment on. He just sat there. He sat there because he was dead.
“I’m not saying it again, Spike!” Angel snapped.
Spike bit his lower lip in an obvious attempt not to hit his grandsire.
“You’re just thinking of your bloody self!” he growled instead. “Wes here is the priority and that shouldn’t include
taking him away from all he’s sodding known and away from, from her.”
Angel sighed and leaned against the front counter hardly believing his next words were about to be spoken.
“Look, Spike, I appreciate that you’re trying to help. I know, however misguided your motives always are, that you want
to help. But Wes is my responsibility and I need to take him to the safest place I can think of and that is with the both of us
and Buffy to protect him. He can’t take care of himself right now and Wolfram and Hart will be gunning for us here pretty soon.
We have to get away and Rome is the best place I can think of.”
“What about Buffy?” Spike asked painfully.
Angel sighed again.
“What about her? She doesn’t know you’re alive, now she will. We’ll all have to deal with that. Like you said, this is
about Wesley now.”
“Fine,” Spike muttered. “But I’m doing this for F-her. And we make this about Wes! No bickering to death over Buffy or
we’re all gonna fall, mate.”
“I agree,” Angel said incredulously, certain his world was falling apart after such an occurrence. “I need to take care
of some things first. It’s personal, so don’t even think of asking.”
“Fine, take your personal annual flogging, I’ll be here doing the work,” Spike replied churlishly.
Angel rolled his eyes and left. He pulled a few strings left to him and got Conner a full scholarship to a prestigious
school in Rome, one he was certain Conner would not refuse. Because it was summer, it wouldn't interrupt his other schooling and
would allow him to come right away. This way he could keep an eye on him and protect him from any possible Wolfram and Hart
Angel rubbed his brow in a vain attempt to stop thinking. How he missed Cordelia at times like this. She would’ve known
what to do, she would’ve kept him from internalizing everything, she would’ve kept Spike under control, she would’ve been able to
get a response out of Wesley, she would’ve-
He couldn’t keep thinking about it. She wasn’t here and all he had was Spike, irony itself paying them both a call.
After returning to the hotel, they made arrangements and Angel, Spike and Wesley left for Rome, leaving Cordelia, Fred,
Gunn and Lorne behind.
Spike walked along anxiously, practically hopping in place and yet guiding the incapable-of-walking-on-his-own Wesley. Spike didn’t know how he would react to seeing Buffy again, or more importantly, how she would react to seeing him. Angel strode ahead of them, grim and dark, lost in his own thoughts. He’d called ahead to Buffy and let her know what was going on, minus the Spike parts, at Spike's own insistence.
They arrived. Spike stood to the side of the door in the shadows. At Angel’s knock, Buffy opened the door and as her golden,
fruity scent rushed out to meet Spike, a thousand memories, good and bad, came out along with it.
Buffy looked glad to see Angel again, like she knew they could always count on each other. Which was precisely what Spike
was afraid of.
“Buffy,” Angel acknowledged.
“Angel, come in,” she said and her voice was like a stab wound in Spike’s heart. Angel gently guided Wesley across the
threshold. Buffy’s eyes widened at the sight of her former Watcher which wasn't surprising considering he was not the same man
she had last seen. But then her senses seemed to pick up on something else and a questioning,
“Angel?” left her lips. Angel tightened his jaw, but stepped outside and dragged Spike into plain view. He stood frozen
at the sight of her and awaited her reaction.
Buffy’s mouth dropped open and she breathed out his name.
“Spike.” Her hand reached out as if to touch him but didn’t close the distance between them. Tears stood in her eyes
before she shut them tightly and when she opened them again, they were diamonds with daggers poised to throw.
“Get in here,” she said quietly to Spike and then turned to Angel to throw her first one. “Why didn’t you let me know he
“Because after the Hellmouth Spike became my responsibility, not yours,” he gritted out.
“That wasn’t your decision to make!” she said, her voice growing louder. “Wasn’t that always the problem, Angel? You
can’t make my decisions for me! I had a right to know. You shouldn’t have just decided for me.”
“I decided,” Spike interrupted her. “It was my decision to make and I bloody well made it.” Buffy turned to him and
threw her next dagger.
“So why’d you make it, Spike? Did you want to see how much pain you could put me through before you just showed up on my
“No,” he answered.
“Then why?” She slammed the words home into him, as hard as any blow from her fists.
“Because I wasn’t ready,” he said, his own nature coming into play. “As much fun as we’ve had in the past, Buffy, this
isn’t about you or me now, or even Steely Brow here.” He jutted his thumb in Angel’s direction. “It’s about him.” His finger
pointed now to Wesley, who, as if to help prove the point, suddenly lurched forward and reached out a hand as if to look for
“She’s, she’s-“ he gasped out and then fell to his knees and his stomach tried to release everything Spike and Angel had
forced into him. Spike caught him as he fell and Buffy rushed for a bowl and wet cloth. Angel held the bowl for him and Buffy
mopped his face while Spike held his head. The three worked over him until he began to quiet down. Then they carried him over to
the couch and laid him down in his semi-catatonic state.
“What happened?” Buffy whispered, looking at Wesley with dread. “This is…”
“Not normal,” Angel finished. “It’s a long story.”
“I’ve got time,” she answered. Angel leaned against the counter and Spike remained standing beside Wesley while Buffy
perched on a chair in the middle of the room as Angel related all of the events leading from his taking over Wolfram and Hart to
what happened in the alley. Buffy slowly nodded, taking it all in, her gaze wandering to Spike every now and then, but letting
“So we need to figure out what the matter is with him because Wolfram and Hart are going to be looking for us,” Angel
“I called Giles,” Buffy told him. “He’ll come right away and I’m sure he can figure it out.” Angel didn’t look too happy
with the idea and Spike agreed with him, but Angel just nodded and stood up.
“Have you guys just thought about going to a doctor?” Buffy asked.
“No!” Spike and Angel said together, then glared at each other.
“Ain’t nothing they could do for him, luv,” Spike told her. “Problem isn’t physical in that sense. If anything, it’s
“He’s just grieving,” Angel said softly.
“I’ve grieved for people too,” Buffy rejoined, “but I never went into a catatonic state!” Spike just looked at her.
“Except for that one time when I did,” Buffy said quickly.
Angel looked away and grumbled under his breath,
“Great, shared catatonia bonding time! Where was I? Facing my own literal inner demons in Pylea.” Shaking his head,
Angel made to leave.
“I should probably go find someplace for us to stay and you probably wanna talk.”
“Wesley can stay here,” Buffy told him. “It’d be better. There’s a spare room.”
“Sure,” Angel answered and then he left.
Buffy and Spike sat in silence for awhile, neither one seeming to want to be the first one to speak. Spike was agitated
and soon gave himself up to pacing around the room. Buffy probably had a million questions she wanted to ask, a million punches
she wanted to throw, a million kisses to kiss and a million things she wanted to scream. But she did none of that.
Going to him, she pulled him slowly to the table and sat him down, kissing his cheek quietly.
“I’m glad you’re back, Spike.”
“I don’t know why I am,” he mumbled, cheek burning from her kiss.
“Is that why you thought you’d just not tell me you were alive?” she asked harshly.
“Sorry about that, pet,” he answered. “But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t believe you and I had to figure out what I am.”
“Don’t you think I could’ve helped?” she replied.
“Do you know who William the Bloody Spike, the souled, ex-ghost, vampire is?” he asked in frustration. “Because I sure the bloody hell don’t! I have no idea why I’m here, Buffy. And it killed me not to go to you. You’re all I’ve ever wanted and what’s worse, you know it. But give me credit for trying to stand on my own two feet for once.”
“Your own two feet,” she said, grasping his hand, “belong standing right beside mine. Not behind, beside. I don’t know
what you’re here for, but I’m glad you are. I meant what I said, Spike. I do love you.” Spike stared at her, the words again
ringing through his ears, but this time he offered no rebuttal.
“Thank you,” he said finally.
“Is that it?” she asked in disbelief.
“I love you too,” he answered simply. “Buffy, I love you so much.” He pulled her towards him so she could lose herself
in the lips of the man she’d once hated with all her being and now loved with all her passion.
“Then that’s all we need to say,” she murmured against his lips. He pulled back and looked into her eyes, his own taking
her love and mirroring back a thousand joys.
When Angel walked back into the room he could tell there had been a change. Although Spike and Buffy were sitting on opposite sides of the room their scents had somehow merged and he could sense no insecurity in either. It frustrated him to no end, but he repressed the urge to pound Spike and leaned against the counter.
Spike shifted restlessly. Angel knew Spike could see the tension flowing through his grandsire and was grateful when
Spike got up as if figuring it was only fair to let Angel have his own chat with Buffy.
“Bloody fairness soul-having,” Spike growled to himself before taking his leave. “Figure I’ll get some kip before ole
Rupes gets here. Mind showing a fella where he’s bunking, Peaches?”
Angel silently handed him the directions.
“Be back in the morning, love,” Spike told Buffy cheerfully and turned to go.
“Spike.” He turned back. “I’ll be waiting for you.” Spike slowly smiled and left.
Silence reigned in the room.
“So, I’m guessing you’re done baking,” Angel finally stated. Buffy shifted uncomfortably but answered quietly.
“Yes.” Angel’s fist pounded the table. “My furniture still breaks as easily as when I didn’t get paid, Angel.”
“Sorry,” he muttered.
“Look,” she stammered, “I’m still not the best at making firm emotional decisions or statements, but I…I love Spike. I’m
sorry for your losses, but I’m not sorry he’s here.”
“I’m still letting you live your own life, Buffy,” he said. “I’m not here to be soul mates.”
“Then what’s the matter?”
“It’s not fair. I have my soul and I suffer and he just walks away from death as a hero. I’ve done some bad stuff,
sure. I’ve killed some people, locked up some lawyers, tried to suffocate my best friend, erased everyone’s memories and took
over my enemy’s law firm-“ Angel stopped, having forgotten she was in the room.
“Good to know you left me and went on to such heights,” she said dryly.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault but my own.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t feel bad about it,” she answered.
“Well, I just want you to know what you’re getting into.” Angel cut off his moment of openness. “You might want to make
sure Dawn and Willow and Xander are protected. Wolfram and Hart goes for the heart.”
“Dawn’s not here. She’s off on a big Key-quest. She didn’t want a sidekick either.” Buffy smiled quietly. “And Xander,
he disappeared into Africa after the Hellmouth. Anya’s death hit him pretty hard. Willow’s in England working with Giles.
She’ll probably come with him. Point is, I didn’t really have a heart to go for. Until now.”
“Just so you know.”
“Don’t treat me like a child, Angel. I’m still the Slayer.”
“You’ve never faced true evil, Buffy.”
“Uh, hello? I dated you, didn’t I? And the First Evil ringing any bells? The original evil of all the universe with its
army of Uber-vampires?”
“Try total evil law firm. For five years.”
“Okay.” Buffy put up her hands. “Evil lawyers equal big scary. Got it.”
“Trust me on this one.” Angel straightened up. “I’ll go now.”
“Have a good night, Angel.”
“You too, Buffy.” He gave her a ghost of a smile before closing the door behind him leaving Buffy to her thoughts.
Spike walked along the street, his entire body reverberating from mixed emotion. Seeing Buffy again, was heaven, was hell. To have her react to his resurrection as she had was nothing short of a miracle to him. But it was far from perfect and he knew now from those few hours they had spent together before Angel came back that relationships were harder than he thought they were.
For so long he’d thought that if he could only get her to admit she loved him they truly would get that crypt for two with
a white picket fence. But she was the Slayer and he was…something. Life would never be normal.
Still, to have her, to hold her. He could never contain the joy. After everything that had happened, she still made the
And for the sun to shine after the chaos of LA and the grief of Fred’s death - that was miraculous too.
It was funny, but Fred’s death caused Spike to recall the other deaths of girls he’d known, perhaps loved. First and
foremost would always be the bitter pain of his mother’s deaths. Both were instigated by the son whom she’d loved and who had
loved her. There were thousands of other girls he’d killed over the years, but the two Slayers stood uppermost in his mind. He
wondered what the Chinese girl had said to him before she died. He thought about what his mother’s death had done to Robin Wood.
Then came Sunnydale. Joyce had been the first to welcome him and the first to leave. The loss of her motherly smile and
compassion was a knife cut. Her loss was soon followed by that of her daughter’s. Spike didn’t even want to think about that
summer after Buffy’s death.
Then the little witch. Her slow smile and quick wit were snuffed out in a moment and she wouldn’t be giving him little
bits of encouragement on the side ever again.
So many girls throughout that last year. Spike really could’ve cared less about them, but they did mean something. But
Anya, now there was a loss. Spike felt bitterly glad that Xander had felt it. It was about time the git had felt something. The
feisty ex-demon had aroused such disdain, empathy and delight in Spike that he hardly knew whether to laugh or cry. But he knew
Heck, even hearing that Darla was now dead for the fourth and final time had done something to his insides. She was
family after all. He didn’t want to know what it would be like if the day ever came when Drusilla was dust floating in the world.
Too many girls. So much grief and pain. All leading up to the last one. Spike had come into Wolfram and Hart with no
grudges or evil stereotypes, except those Angel held against him, but that was to be expected. But his people, they knew the
moral ambiguity of working for a souled vampire and Spike had done nothing to them to atone for. Sure their loyalty had been to
Angel, but he’d been accepted in such a way that had made him wonder why he’d ever stayed in Sunnyhell with the Scoobies. Okay,
Buffy. But moving on.
Fred had accepted him right away and the thought that the sweet, genius Texan would never ramble or scrunch up her nose or
eat a truckful of tacos after a night of using flamethrowers, made his dead heart ache.
But to add to the pain of Fred’s death was the loss of Wesley. After Fred, Spike was probably closer to him than any of
the others. Maybe it was the British connection, but it more likely had something to do with Wesley’s knowledge of Fred’s
affection for the vampire that caused him to make the effort to get to know Spike.
What was most likely his best friend (and Spike didn’t have many) in the whole world was lying on a bed, dead for all
intent and purpose, completely unresponsive. One thing was for sure, the days ahead would be hard. No matter Buffy.
And Spike was right.
Spike slipped back into Buffy’s apartment just as the sun rose over the horizon, bathing the streets of Rome in an early morning glow.
He found Buffy in Dawn’s room; her head slumped over the desk as she kept watch over the motionless, open eyed man in the
bed. Spike smiled at the sight of his Slayer at rest. Gently, he kissed her forehead and picked her up and tucked her into her
own bed. He then returned to sit by Wesley.
Hours passed. Spike got restless. Before long he decided to raid the fridge before he fell asleep. As he reached the
door; however, he heard a rustling noise behind him. Turning, he saw Wesley feebly start to move his fingers.
Rushing quickly to the bed, Spike grabbed Wesley’s hands.
“Wes, can ya hear me, mate?”
“Spike?” Wesley rasped out, his voice practically nonexistent from lack of use.
“Do you know where you are?” Wesley nodded. “So, don’t you worry. We got Buffy here and people coming to help you out.”
“Buffy? You must be happy.” Even with vampire hearing Spike had to strain to understand.
“Just hang in there, Wes.”
“She’s gone,” Wesley’s breathing grew more labored. Spike’s grip grew tighter, trying to hold Wesley in that moment.
“I can’t do it, Spike.” Wesley’s eyes clouded over and he slipped back to wherever he’d been.
“Wes! Come back, Wes!” Spike slumped back in the chair in frustration. Buffy ran into the room, not surprisingly,
awakened by the commotion.
“Spike, what happened? Did he wake up?”
“For a minute,” Spike told her.
“That’s an improvement, right?” she asked, no doubt trying to cheer him up.
“Guess so,” he admitted grumpily. “But he’s gone again.”
“You did your best.”
“Thanks, love. Sorry I woke you.” Buffy slipped her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s okay. Time for coffee anyway.”
“K,” Spike agreed distractedly.
Buffy smiled. It was odd, but to see Spike care about someone other than her or Dawn was nice. It helped her make sense of all that had happened in the last day. She slipped into the kitchen and grabbed two mugs out of the cupboard.
It was silly, but she was glad now that she still automatically kept blood on hand. To be honest it came in handy for more than just her vampire boyfriends. Not that she would ever tell anyone that. Nor did she want to catalogue the other things she’d used it for. She warmed up a mug for Spike in the microwave and poured herself a cup of coffee before taking the two mugs into Dawn’s room where the black clad vampire and the absolutely still, scruffy man were completely out of place.
Spike roused himself at her coming and his look of pleasure at the sight of the blood was all the reward Buffy needed.
“Thanks.” He took the proffered mug.
“Did he wake up again?”
“I’m sure he will.”
“Stop thanking me for everything,” she teased him. “It doesn’t sound like something a Big Bad’s supposed to say.”
“But you’ve given me everything,” he teased back, but the truth was behind his words and Buffy thrilled at the knowledge
of that. It was funny how much he felt she’d given him and how good that made her feel. Goodness knows she’d never given him any
reason to feel as he did. But she wanted to just enjoy him and enjoy him she did.
They spent the next few hours keeping watch at Wesley’s bedside, talking and getting to know each other again. It was
amazing how alike and how different they were, how much was the same and yet so much had changed. But their connection remained
solid and familiar and could only deepen with time.
A few hours later a knock came at the door and Buffy got up to answer it. With better hearing and sense of smell Spike
would already know who was on the other side and it didn’t look as if it particularly brought him joy.
“Buffy, how are you?” Giles asked warmly. She accepted his hug gladly. It had been too long since they’d seen each other.
“I want hug-age too,” came a perky voice. Willow walked into the room and Buffy eagerly hugged her.
Angel came in much more solemnly.
“I picked them up at the airport,” he informed Buffy. “Is Spike back yet?”
“Spike?” Willow and Giles chorused together in confusion.
“Yeah,” Buffy said awkwardly. “Um, he’s…back.”
“Bloody hell, doesn’t anyone die anymore?” Giles asked under his breath.
“I heard that,” Spike said, coming into the room.
“Spike! Wow!” Spike awkwardly accepted Willow’s equally awkwardly offered hug.
“How did you escape the collapse of the Hellmouth?” Giles asked by way of greeting.
“Long story,” Spike replied tersely.
“It would be nice if we were all on the same page, Spike,” Buffy told him, putting her hand in his. Spike relaxed
slightly, even as Giles and Angel tensed noticeably.
“Fine, story-time, kiddies.” Spike leaned against the counter. “Wanna start it off?” he asked Angel, who nodded and
began the tale again.
It got no easier with a second telling, Buffy realized, especially when Angel came to the part about Fred’s death and
visibly restrained himself from decking Giles. Spike looked like he’d have helped gladly.
“Angel!” she cried. “What’s your deal? What on earth are you doing?”
“Fred is dead. Because of him.” Angel’s growl was as feral as he could get without changing.
“What?” she asked again in confusion. “How could Giles have anything to do with her death?”
“I called him. I needed Willow’s help. He wouldn’t even tell her.” Angel broke off in anger and Spike took up the
story, seemingly fueled by his own rage.
“The bloody tosser couldn’t see past the title and the sweetest thing on this earth had her soul obliterated.”
“Giles?” Willow turned to him with an anguished look. Buffy turned as well, shocked that he would do this again.
“I refuse to be held responsible,” Giles answered stiffly. “Of course I am sorry for the girl’s death, but Angel was in
charge of the most notoriously evil institution known to man. How could I be sure I would not be sending Willow into a dangerous
“But it wasn’t your choice!” Buffy cried. “You can’t keep doing this, Giles! You tried with Spike and if you’d succeeded
the world would have been destroyed! Now an innocent girl is dead because you refuse to admit we’re adults and can make our own
decisions. Even when you abandon us you still don’t think we can do it! It has to stop, Giles! It has to.” Buffy turned away
in tears. She was furious and hurt and sad. What made it worse was that she and Giles had only just started to get along again
after what had happened in Sunnydale.
Spike gathered her in his arms, and told her he was ridiculously proud of what she’d just said.
Willow’s own tears had started to flow, probably remembering the sweet, slightly geeky girl she’d told Buffy about
connecting with. She placed a hand on Angel’s arm.
“I’m so sorry, Angel. I would have done all I could. Fred was…she was special.”
“She was,” he answered quietly.
Giles looked from Buffy to Willow and back again, and Buffy could see his heart sinking within him. How often had he
caused such emotion in them, his own heart daughters? But his own concern for their safety obviously warred with his convictions.
“I’m sorry,” he said haltingly. “I will try to always consult with the group from here on in. But to be honest, with
Angel’s history and Wolfram and Hart’s reputation, I do not see how I could have acted much differently.”
“If you are truly sorry,” Buffy told him, not meeting his eyes, “then help Wesley, who’s suffering with grief from your
mistake. Protect him and Spike and Angel, who are all on the run from the evil organization they are supposed to be so entangled
Giles simply nodded and walked into Wesley’s room. Willow followed with a desire to examine Wesley’s aura and Buffy
finally relaxed into Spike’s arms. Angel immediately left the room. Buffy sighed. Spike stroked her chin with his thumb.
“Don’t worry, love. A man can change.”
“I know that now.” She hugged him and they waited together.
The day passed before Willow came back into the room. Spike and Buffy had spent the whole day together alone since Angel refused to be in the same room with them and had left. That hadn’t happened too often before. Buffy was surprised by how annoyed she got with his restless antics. Spike remembered how much he hated her commandeering attitude. Joy in each other’s presence outweighed all annoyance, but both were a little relieved when Willow came back. Buffy stood up to hear the results but Willow waved her back to her chair.
“Don’t bother, Buff. There’s no action to be done.”
“What do you think then?”
“He’s grieving,” Willow said simply. “I know you want there to be a big mystical thing behind it, but there simply
isn’t. In fact, you and Wesley are quite a lot alike.”
“There must be something we can do, Red,” Spike said in frustration.
Willow just smiled a small smile.
“Punching him like you did Buffy probably won’t help either, so don’t try it. Wesley's retreated inside himself just like
she did and he won’t come out until he’s good and ready.”
“But why? Why would he?” Buffy wanted to know.
“When I went inside his head like I did with you,” Willow explained, “all I saw were pictures everywhere and they were all
of Wesley doing something, things that probably aren’t good things to be doing. I don’t understand most of them. There was a
woman locked up in a closet, I do remember him mentioning that one, come to think of it, but there were others I had no clue
about. There was a baby and then Wesley hit Lorne; there was a woman lying on a table and then he beheaded her; there was a
sample of blood and he touched it and then got really angry; there was him trying to capture Faith; there were other random things
too. I don’t pretend to understand his psyche at all.” Willow waved her hands for emphasis. “But in the center of all these
photos was a picture of Fred and Wesley was sitting in front of it writing the same thing over and over on the floor.”
“What was he writing?”
“You had to ask,” Spike muttered under his breath. Buffy shot him a look.
“He was writing, ‘Uselessness killed her.’ “
“Why would he think that?” Spike growled. “Knox bloody killed her. Gunn killed her. I…I- It wasn’t Wes’s fault.”
“Wesley doesn’t share your know-how, I guess.” Willow shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, the only thing I can tell you is
that just like Buffy woke up cause she wanted to, so will Wesley. But I do think he can hear us and he knows what’s going on. We
should talk to him.”
“I will.” Spike stood up to go in the room.
“Wait a minute,” Willow told him. “Giles is still working in there and Wesley’s probably had enough for one night. Give
him some time to rest.”
“I hate to wait,” Spike informed them unnecessarily.
“We know, your legs cramp,” Buffy told him unsympathetically.
Willow relaxed against the couch and closed her eyes. That spell and what she had seen had really drained her. She might
not want to admit it, but no matter how good she was and how much control she had over her bad urges, big spells like that hurt
her. Not every spell was as full of beauty and power that was pure like the Slayer one had been. Every day was still a struggle
and she so badly wanted to fix the pain she’d just witnessed.
“Are you all right, Will?” Buffy asked her softly. She nodded and smiled.
“Just a little tired. Big flight, big spell.”
“How is it going over there in the old homeland?” Spike asked. “Rupes working you hard?”
“No, I work me hard,” Willow told him. “It’s nice and I’m learning a lot. And you know me and my thirst for knowledge.
Being in England, I can learn and have scones!”
“Just like you wanted to back a long time ago,” Buffy remembered. “Your path wound around.”
“Wish it wouldn’t do it quite so fast,” Willow said ruefully. “I remember you told me I was going where they make
Giles’. And Oz talked about the deep academia.”
“Good memory,” Buffy said. “I couldn’t have remembered the exact words.”
Willow just grinned.
“I haven’t heard you mention Oz in a long time,” Buffy commented after a few minutes.
Willow shrugged again.
“It’s not like I never think about him. Life’s gone by so fast, I haven’t really had time. I’ll always care about him,
you know? The whole first thing. First with a lower case f and not the upper, cause the upper is something way different,”
Willow explained herself. The other two smiled and then all three were quiet for a few minutes. They all remembered their
Willow’s thoughts hovered on black fingernails with calluses on the fingertips, small words that held power beyond their length
and a steady hand on her back whenever she was frightened or scared.
Spike had visions of pale skin and wicked eyes, words floating aimlessly through long years, long sharp nails stained with scarlet
and lips crimson with more than just paint.
Buffy’s mind centered on a furrowed forehead, massive strength, mystery and violence, passion and cruelty, along with a
steadiness of feeling that would never change.
Giles entered the room and understandably misinterpreted the silence.
“I gather you’ve told them your assessment?”
“Oh yeah,” Willow said. “Guess we’ll wait till morning to do whatever.”
“Sounds advisable to me,” Giles agreed. “Shall I find suitable accommodations for the two of us?” Willow rolled her
eyes. He got so formal whenever he was uncomfortable. Well, good, he should feel uncomfortable. But Buffy would never leave
them to just go out on the street.
“Willow, you’re not gonna stay here?” Buffy questioned.
“Does best friend status still come with free house access?”
“You know it,” Buffy told her.
“Just me then. Very well, I shall check in with you all in the morning.” He hesitated. “Buffy, I-I hope that-“
“It’s okay, Giles,” Buffy told him quickly. “Just come back in the morning.” He nodded slowly and blinked a little
rapidly before leaving. Buffy watched him go with sad eyes while Willow chewed on her lip.
“Best I go and patrol the streets looking for whatever I can get, yeah?” Spike said, standing up. “Work my best while the
“Will you come back soon?” Buffy asked him. He smiled.
“No worries, love. I’ll be back with bells on and-“ he anticipated her next words “-I’ll be careful.” She grinned and
gave him a quick kiss. He headed out the door and Buffy and Willow settled in for some good old-fashioned girl time. They
brushed their teeth and then sat down in their slippers with hot cocoa in the living room where they could still hear Wesley if he
“I just realized something,” Buffy said after a big swallow. “We already brushed our teeth.”
“Ahhh, brush them again.” Willow waved the matter aside. “I’m feeling reckless and I will drink this cocoa.” Buffy
“Careful, Will, I see some veins starting to spread.” Willow just grinned and drank some more cocoa.
A shadowed, slender figure stood at the window with a cocked head listening to every word, just as it had done all day
long, without moving a muscle.
Spike strode along the alleyway. His mind was busy and his fists even busier. He took out his frustration and grief on every vamp he could find, after thorough questioning that is. What he was searching for, he didn’t know. The vamps were wandering aimlessly; their purposes all seemed to be shattered. Spike didn’t think he’d accomplish anything that night, but he’d find something if there was anything to be found. Even so, he almost missed it.
A vague scent reached his nostrils and he puzzled for a moment. The scent was familiar, but it was like something that he
was used to smelling around a lot of other smells that were more important and thus, he’d paid more attention to. The answer
hovered in his brain and he snuck along the edge of the alley to see what could be seen.
A van was on the other side of the cobblestoned street where it was just pulling out of its parking spot. Throwing
caution to the wind and acting incredibly Spike-like, he ran up alongside the passenger seat, opened the door and hopped in, even
managing to put his seatbelt on before the driver halted with a screech.
“It's nice work you’ve been doing,” Spike commented admiringly. “I could barely tell you were around. Must still be some
feelings there, I’m thinking.”
“Animals know about smells and tracking. They know about commitment too. What do you want, Spike?”
“A reason why you’re around. You might not believe it, but I actually work for the good guys now. Even before I got my
soul actually, and Red means a certain something to me, so if you’re planning anything messy, now is not the time, mate.”
“I know about you, Spike. I know everything. I always know about her.”
“A creepy stalking skill or some residual inner thing?” Spike asked idly.
“Let’s go with the second and leave it.”
“Don’t want to talk to me, huh?”
“You’re not exactly up on my list of confidantes.”
“Can hardly blame you, I suppose,” Spike admitted. “But still, the facts remain that things are different now, and I do
wanna know one thing. You gonna help or mope?”
“I thought I’d let her decide.”
“Then you’ll come back with me and that will be that.” The van started up again and pulled out fully onto the road. “But
first, Dog-Boy, we should have some fun! Care to smell out some violence?”
Oz smiled slowly. Violence was good. Seems like all he was good at lately. Or the last three and a half years.
Willow opened her eyes and stretched, smiling at the ceiling. Buffy’s room was rather plain but it was Buffy’s room and that meant she was back in the gang. Not that being with Giles in London wasn’t intellectually stimulating, but nothing beat the whole group research/donut eating thing they’d had going on for years.
She was trying to think positively of course. The last year had been incredibly stressful, she had black magic staining
her inner soul, a girl she’d once casually flirted with was now dead, and Xander had disappeared into deepest, darkest Africa.
Positive thinking was the key and so was the smell of breakfast now wafting into the room.
She got up and gave a cursory glance in the mirror and decided she didn’t really care what any of the people who might be
outside the bedroom thought about her hair. Adorned in impossibly cute pajamas, Willow went out to eat her breakfast. And
encountered Spike and Oz who had just sat down to scrambled eggs and toast with a mug of blood on the side for Spike.
“Hey, Red, pull up a chair.” Spike motioned to the table. “Got plenty for all.”
She nodded more out of habit than agreement and sat down in the chair he’d pulled out for her, staring at Oz the whole
time. He stared back and offered a,
“Hey,” she said automatically. “What, what are you doing…here?”
“I want to help,” he said simply.
“Found the poor boy wandering around back alleys in a beat up van,” Spike put in. “Figured he could use some food.”
“Were you-Uh, how are you?” she asked, putting a tentative fork load into her mouth without taking her eyes off him.
“I’m good. You?”
“Fine,” she answered. Spike watched them both with a smirk in his eyes.
“Gonna take Buffy a cup,” he said and then with a cup of coffee went into Wesley’s room where Buffy was taking the morning
Willow nervously eyed him go and then smiled even more nervously while she shoveled food into her mouth. Oz watched her
“If you want, I’ll go. I’m not here to make things hard on you.”
“No, no, stay, help. That’s, that’s…good.” He smiled a little.
“I can help. I’ve got three more years of control under my belt, Will. I won’t lose it this time.”
Willow sighed, inwardly reminding herself that she wasn’t sixteen anymore and that she had since moved past the just men
phase of her life. She’d almost destroyed the world, surely she could manage to talk to an old boyfriend without stammering.
Though not just an old boyfriend, her first boyfriend, her first everything.
“Oz, I’m surprised to see you.” Willow tried to meet his eyes squarely. “I’m not sorry to see you. But I don’t know
what you want me to say or act like. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. You haven’t come back to Sunnydale ever.”
“Not true. I came back every year.”
“I never saw you.”
“I never wanted you to.” Oz sighed. “Look, I don’t want to be branded stalker, but I didn’t want to see you hurt again.
Especially after what I did. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I wasn’t trying to get anything.”
“So why come out now?” Willow asked, feeling the irony of the question.
“Cause this is big.”
“Bigger than me destroying the world?” she questioned. He winced.
“That was fun to watch. I’m glad you didn’t.”
“Me too,” she said. “So, you’re gonna help. Okay, what do you expect to happen?”
“Nothing. I care about you, Willow. But we’re past that now. Nothing I can do will change that.”
“We’ve all changed,” she told him. He nodded.
“Life is weird,” Oz reflected as he sat in the teenage bedroom of a girl who was really a blob of green energy that could open the door between the dimensions and in which there lay an Englishman who did magic, owned many guns and was practically comatose, and a werewolf who played guitar and refused to change into the animal inside.
After his incredibly awkward breakfast tête-à-tête with Willow, Oz had volunteered for Wesley duty. The two men were
alone in the apartment. Giles had run out for some books he needed while Buffy and Willow were shopping for the growing number of
people who needed food and blood. Spike and Angel were hitting the underground, trying to figure out what Wolfram and Hart might
be up to.
How Oz was supposed to help he didn’t know. He wasn’t really sure why he was here. But the time had come for him to stop
running. He’d had purpose and a life while living in Sunnydale as he’d never had anywhere else he’d been. And he’d been
everywhere. After Willow had chosen Tara over him and he’d been captured by the Initiative, Oz had traveled, hating to settle
down, restless and anxious. He'd had terrible dreams about what had been done to him by the soldiers and as soon as one would
hit, he’d pick up and move from wherever he was. Amazingly enough, he'd been running out of places to go and this current crisis
gave him a reason to try and stick to one place again. He hoped it would work and that his old memories and decisions wouldn’t
always be as close to the surface as they were currently.
The man on the bed didn’t move. Oz watched him closely, thinking. He didn’t know Wesley very well and Wesley hadn’t exactly made
the greatest impression on any of the Scoobies. In fact, Oz’s foremost memory of Wesley was of him demanding they sacrifice
Willow to save Sunnydale. It hadn’t left Oz with the fondest feelings toward the Watcher. But he’d heard the stories of what he
had become. Oz figured that since he’d changed himself, the past was not a good judge of character anymore. It was, after all,
the main reason everyone in the group was so haunted - they couldn’t let go of the pasts of the people around them.
Wesley had really loved this Fred woman and that was all that really mattered to Oz at this moment. He actually felt an affinity
with the ex-Watcher because they’d both lost so much. Oz knew he looked the same whereas Wesley didn’t, but how he looked was not
how he felt. He’d always been an old soul, but now he felt eternal. And because of that, he’d come back to face his past and he
wasn’t leaving until he’d been able to help this Wesley, who now seemed more important than any other reason he could have picked
to stay. So he leaned forward and spoke,
“You should wake up. The people out here need you. I don’t know what’s going on in your head and I don’t know exactly what
happened to you. But I know retreating isn’t a good option. So I want to help. If you came out of that coma, maybe I could
start doing that.” Wesley didn’t move. He hadn’t really expected him to, but Oz wished he had. It looked like more waiting was
on the menu.
Waiting was something Willow did not feel like doing as she watched Buffy push the hugely overloaded shopping cart up the aisle with a grace that Willow supposed could only come from being a Slayer.
“Are you gonna tell me or do I have to get the crowbar?” Buffy finally blurted out, tossing some cereal into the cart.
“I could pretend I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I won’t,” Willow conceded nobly. “And I don’t know what to
“Start with how you feel now that your werewolf ex boyfriend came running into town after he left you and then you left
him for another woman.”
“Do you have to say it like that? It sounds like some sort of mythological soap opera.”
“Will, I’m pretty sure that’s all our lives have consisted of for the last eight years.”
“Fine, but we don’t have to label it. That’s like giving in.”
“You are going to give in and tell me or I swear that the crowbar thing isn’t a bluff,” Buffy warned her. Willow rolled
her eyes but proceeded to spill the beans.
“I’m really confused. I really thought I was all 'gay now,' but I can’t seem to reconcile that with Oz. I am glad to see
him, but I wish he would just go away. I don’t know if I can deal with him on top of everything else.”
“He is pretty much a shoe in for the ‘turn up without warning’ award.” Willow smiled ruefully.
“That’s Oz. But he’s being really nice about it and he totally doesn’t seem like he’s here to be with me or anything. He
just wants to help. And helping is good, I’m glad he wants to. I just wish I knew what I was supposed to feel towards him. I’m
not exactly burning with desire and I’m no hormonal teenager now either, but a slight tingling in the toes does seem to be present
and unaccounted for. I don’t want him here, but I really don’t want him to go away. Buffy, please be all command-y and tell me
what to do.”
“Your call, I can’t make it for you. And this has been my week for old boyfriends turning up too, you know. Only double.”
“Yeah, how’s that work anyhow?”
“You tell me. Having Spike back is like heaven and hell all at once and Angel is just like a security blanket that
threatens to smother me.”
“You’ve got it all figured out, don’t ya?” Willow laughed. Buffy chuckled a little herself.
“I guess I just have to keep going on. But I do know one thing and that is that I know Spike is worth it and I want to
make it work with him more than I’ve ever wanted anything. I feel so different from the Buffy he used to know and I want to show
that to him and I don’t know…get a white picket fence or something.” Willow raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not even gonna ask. But you inspire me, Buffy. I guess I just have to keep going on too. I’d like a chance to be
friends with Oz again. I have missed him. And I think he could use some people too.”
“Go us. All with the decision making. Now let’s go pay with Giles’ credit card!”
Willow felt a stab of malicious and melancholy glee and off they went. But that wasn’t all Willow felt. She had to fight
off the sudden urge to turn Spike into a frog and make Oz vanish, all so she and Buffy wouldn’t have to deal with them anymore.
Spike and Angel had been hunting for hours all through the lowlife of Rome, seeking out informants and it seemed that Wolfram and Hart and anyone who knew about it had completely vanished. They had followed the tunnels to what had been the Rome office, but the building that Angel knew he’d visited before had simply disappeared.
“Magic,” Spike made the obvious statement with an expression of disgust on his face. “And not the warm, giggly kind
either. This place reeks of dark magic, old magic.”
“I know,” Angel said, trying to keep his frustration at bay. “Far older than either of us. Either Wolfram and Hart has
been eradicated by what we did-“
“Bloody unlikely.” Spike snorted.
Angel looked at him with annoyance.
“Yeah. Or they are trying to make it seem like they’re gone, or they were destroyed by somebody else.”
“That would be lovely and way too convenient,” Spike reminded him.
“I’d have to agree.” Angel obviously didn’t like the idea of that, but he used the maturity of two plus centuries and
“So they’re playing mind games then…”
“We have to be extra careful.”
“Perfect,” Spike muttered irritably.
Spike was looking forward to a nice hot shower after having trudged through the sewers of Rome for hours. But Buffy apparently
had other plans for him. She wanted him to help her organize her weapons. Or actually grill him once everyone else had vacated the room. Spike was really irritated.
“Look, Slayer, I wasn’t holding anything back when Broody Eyes and I told you about Wolfram & Hart. That’s the way it all
“I just have this feeling that Angel isn’t telling me something,” Buffy muttered, obviously feeling bad for having put
Spike through the first degree when they hadn’t really had any chances to be alone together since they’d found each other again.
“It’s okay, love. Just trust me that when something important happens, you’ll be the first to know.”
“I know. But you have changed, Spike. It’s not quite the same.”
“How’d you mean?”
“You would never have just brought Oz home like that before. You would’ve either tried to buy my favor by telling me
about it or let me know so I could decide.”
“General Buffy feeling a bit shortchanged?” Spike asked hotly. “I hate to bust your buttons, but this ain’t really about
you, love. I know Angel came running to you, but this isn’t your fight and the decisions aren’t yours. I thought I’d made that
clear when I didn’t tell you about me and when I was living, emphasis on the living, apart from you.”
Buffy looked like she felt a surging desire to punch him in the nose, but something stopped her and Spike watched her
count to ten, then to twenty, then to thirty, before answering.
“I know. I was commenting, not accusing. Stop being so insecure, Spike. I know I’ve never really given you a reason to
not be, but I thought we’d put that behind us. I can use some old weaknesses of yours too, if you really want to go down that
road. But I know you’re trying to establish your own personhood or whatever and I’m willing to let you do that. I want you to do
that. I want to actually know the man I love.”
Spike watched her a bit warily with a look of surprise on his face.
“That just a speech to keep the troops together, Slayer?”
“Don’t revert back into titles and positions, Spike,” Buffy snapped. “I’m sick and tired of telling you I mean it when I
tell you I love you. You’re stuck with me now that your dirty little secret is out, so stop trying to give me ways out!”
Spike smiled and shook his head in wonderment.
“You’re so beautiful when you’re angry.”
“Don’t try to get out of acting like a jerk either,” she told him warningly, putting her arms around him.
“To get the truth from you, that’s all I’ll ever do,” he said, responding by bringing his lips down to her forehead.
“Stupid vampire,” she breathed before he made her forget everything else.
Giles picked up the phone and dialed the newly memorized numbers. His fingers still itched to dial the old ones and thereby keep hold of the way things were before this new world that no longer made sense to him. He waited somewhat impatiently, taking his glasses off and putting them back on several times.
“How may I help you?” The professional tone rang in his ear and he winced at the high pitch of it.
“This is Rupert Giles. I was hoping to speak with Weston Meyers.”
“Is he expecting your call?”
“No, I’m afraid not. But this is a rather urgent matter and I am certain he’ll want to speak to me.”
“If you’ll just hold, Mr. Giles, I’ll see if Mr. Meyers is available.” Giles waited again, still agitated. He glanced
over at the kitchen where Buffy was talking in a low voice with Spike and fixing some dinner for everyone. He started as a
nasally voice came over the phone.
“This is Weston Meyers. What can I do for you, Mr. Giles?”
“Yes, hello. I’ve recently taken charge of the new Watcher’s Council. I know that our institutions have had several
alliances in the past. I was hoping that you could help me as I am looking for some information about one of the institutions
which we are not on friendly terms with. Recently some of their activity has caused us quite a lot of concern and since they seem
to be unavailable at the moment, information from our archives has pointed me towards you as a reliable source.”
“If you’re trying to sweet talk some info about W & H out of me, Mr. Giles, I’m afraid you’re talking to the wrong
person. But even were I not bound by client confidentiality, I could tell you this: There is no info about them to be had, by
anyone, anywhere. They’ve simply disappeared, off the face of the planet, as it were.”
“I’m afraid I don’t see how that’s possible,” Giles protested in a slightly louder voice. Spike and Buffy paused their
dinner preparations to listen to the conversation, Spike, undoubtedly, to both ends.
“Wish I could say different, sir, but that’s the way it is. I’ve heard rumors far and wide about what’s become of them.
Everything from aliens, to total annihilation, to the idea that they’ve vanished into all the pregnant ladies.”
“That’s utterly absurd,” Giles commented bitterly. “I’m quite certain there must be a rational explanation as to their
disappearance and I’m equally certain you are aware of it.”
“Now, Mr. Giles, I don’t know you and there’s no reason to get so excited. Just be glad that there aren’t worse things
going on. If the rational theory that you speak of is really there, I’m sure you’ll find it. If I were you, I’d watch the
skies. But that’s all I’ve got to say, so I’ll be telling you goodbye now.”
“Wait-" Giles began before the dial tone rang in his ear. He hung up loudly and cursed.
“Got a bit of bitter in you, Watcher?” Spike asked with raised eyebrow. Giles shook his head, annoyed.
“The tosser wouldn’t tell me anything. Watch the skies, indeed!” he harrumphed.
“We should do what he says,” came a voice from the corner of the room. Everyone turned to stare. Oz had been sitting
there quietly reading, but now he turned his face from the window where the full moon shone brightly. His eyes were amber.
“Signs are coming. I feel them,” he stated and then turned back to his book.
“What does that mean exactly?” Buffy asked a little shortly. Giles suppressed a smile in spite of his own irritation.
Buffy didn’t do cryptic. Well, from other people anyway.
“Means I don’t ignore the animal within,” he replied and walked into the other room where Willow was keeping an eye on
Buffy started after him in irritation, but Spike stopped her as he seemed to tap into his own senses.
“Something’s not right, love. It’s more than normal chaos going on. Dog-Boy’s onto something.”
“If only he said what that something was I could kill it,” she muttered. Spike just shook his head.
“Can’t explain it either. But nothing smells right outside this room. I’ve been noticing something off ever since that
night in the alley, but was too busy and just marked it all up to the bloody trauma, but now…” Spike trailed off and didn’t say
anymore. That scared them enough to not press the issue.
Giles listened to them with growing alarm. Spike, Oz and Angel were more aware of their surroundings than even Buffy and
much closer to the primal side of life. He trusted their instincts because he’d seen them proven true time and time again. This
was apocalyptic. Not that apocalypses weren’t common enough these days, but something didn’t feel right. All his research of
late, his forays into W & H, his questioning of what happened in the alley, it all pointed toward something he didn’t much like
the idea of. He hurried to his books to try and make sense of it.
Buffy smiled a little as she watched the familiar sight of Giles and his books and then turned to Spike.
“Talk to Oz, I want you two to collaborate and let me know what the sense report is saying.”
“That an order?” he asked casually, quirking an eyebrow. Buffy smiled.
“Well, if it is, I promise a reward later. If not, you should just trust my judgment since this is my line of expertise
after all. Among other things, of course.”
Spike smirked and ghosted his lips along her neck before going to fulfill the order. Buffy shivered at the sensation and
suddenly felt like she was the one who had been manipulated.
Oz still started every time he walked into the same room as Willow. His wolf was reacting to the presence of the woman he’d claimed as his mate. Fortunately, his human side realized what the wolf did not. This was not the same woman, nor was he the same man.
On the other hand, the wolf realized many things that the man didn’t. For one thing, Oz could find out what was happening in
Willow’s life through his own persistence, observation and devotion, but only the wolf could have detected the huge, dark cloud
that hovered over the world since Angel and his team had gone up against Wolfram & Hart. Only it could have known that now was
the time to reveal himself and possibly save the life of the woman he loved.
The wolf scared him. But he’d learned to trust its instincts. There had been many times over the past few years when
he’d been saved by them. They'd made him want to run away, but now they had forced him to come back and fight. Oz wanted to move
past the past and his wolf was helping him to do just that.
“What’s going on out there?” Willow asked, not looking up. She was still visibly nervous about being around him and Oz
couldn’t really blame her. That didn’t mean the wolf didn’t howl with frustration though.
“Giles tried to get info. Didn’t work.”
“What does that mean?”
“Bad stuff is coming, Will,” he said quietly.
“I know. I can feel it.”
“How?” Oz’s face was visibly disturbed, a sure sign that he felt the deeper meaning of what she said.
“I’m stained,” she said simply. “I can feel the call, to join in, unleash, be free...release the world.”
“You’ll move past it,” he told her assuredly. She laughed a little bitterly.
“I’ve moved past. That’s not what I’m worried about.” She was quiet for a few minutes before quietly admitting to one of
the only people he knew she’d ever let see her vulnerable, “I hate feeling this way. It’s like I’m so dirty and no amount of
washing will ever make me clean. I can feel the purity and refinement of the magic within me, I can. But every so often it hits
a black patch that seems to sully it for awhile and hurts it. It hurts me. When the magic of the world is so messed up and
twisted like it is right now because of whatever this thing is, it’s even worse.” Willow kept her face from him, obviously not
wanting him to see the tears that seemed to refuse to stay in her head where they belonged. “And I don’t know how to make it
Oz was silent behind her, but he hoped Willow could feel an old presence, something comforting and solid. He put his arms
at her back and enveloped her and she suddenly breathed in, as if breathing in his presence. She clung to him for a moment.
“I’m here,” was all he said. Hope seemed to spring into her face, but she pulled away rapidly as if she remembered where
“Sorry,” she said hastily. “I didn’t mean to go all weepy on you. After all, it’s been a long time.”
“But some things never change,” he said firmly. She smiled a little.
“No, I guess some things don’t. Still, I’m fine and we just need to figure this out. Then Buffy will slay and we’ll be
Oz kept his thoughts about this being way bigger than the Slayer to himself. He simply nodded and handed Willow a tissue.
A knock resounded on the door and he moved away from her side before Spike entered the room.
“Got a mo?” he asked Oz idly. Oz wasn’t fooled by Spike’s casual tone, but he nodded and left the room with Spike and
they slipped into Buffy’s room where there were no other people.
“Care to explain the sign mumble jumble you’ve been on about, mate?” Spike asked right out. Oz didn’t reply immediately.
It was true that he’d known about the off kilter direction the world was headed in since before he’d arrived. But he hadn’t
mentioned it to anyone and he didn’t know what Spike would think about that.
“I know you can feel it too,” he finally said. Spike nodded.
“Yeah, but I’m not the one who went all prophecy back there. I simply tuned into my senses. Why you so convinced we all
gotta hide from the end of the world and why the bloody hell do you got to be cryptic about it?”
Oz paused. It was funny, but he wasn’t sure how to answer. He had difficulties in telling information. It had always
been his policy to keep his cards close to the chest and the past few years had only amplified that tendency.
“I have trust issues,” he finally said. “No call for therapy, but I’ve found it wiser to not spill everything I know
“You’ve known these people for years,” Spike pointed out. “You were all buddy-buddy with the ridiculous gits, why the
sudden fall out?”
“Things change,” Oz said quietly. “I left a different person. I’m even more different now. They’ve changed too.”
“It happens,” Spike said dryly. “Look at me.”
“You are quite the sideshow.”
“Tell me about it.” Spike rolled his eyes.
“My point is that I don’t know what’s coming. You know all I know, that things are bad. Willow told me she can feel it
too. But I can’t be what I was and Buffy will have to get used to that.”
“Apparently you never used to talk, so I don’t know as she’ll have to adjust much,” Spike told him, not even acting
surprised that Oz knew this was Buffy’s mission and not his.
“I’m sure it will show up,” was Oz’s simple reply. Spike nodded.
“I get you, mate. But we need all the bloody help we can get. I can feel the darkness. Part of me loves it.”
“Me too,” Oz admitted.
“So don’t be mum, k?” Spike asked. Oz nodded.
“Great,” Spike said, gesturing the way out of the room. “Now I’m gonna go get Miss Nosy off my back and you can relieve
The two hybrids headed their different ways, each feeling the strain of the evil days.
Spike knew he was dreaming. Places like this didn’t exist except in dreams. The long hallway stretched endlessly before him, held up by tall, perfectly white, marble columns that reached to join the pristine, white ceiling. He was the only thing of color in that place and even then he was only black and white himself. The duster flapped loudly and he winced as he walked, wondering if there was anyone to hear him.
“I hear you, sweet,” came a voice from behind him. Spike whirled around, surprised that someone could have come up so
quietly and that they had just spoken his thoughts. His surprise was lessened when he discerned who it was.
“Drusilla.” She came closer to him, holding out her hands. She was dressed in a gown as black as midnight, but her skin
was so blindingly white that the black was almost overshadowed. The struggle of purity and carnage had always been very strong in
her, Spike reflected quickly. He hoped that the purity was winning now even as the insanity and the demon surged to overpower her.
“How I’ve longed to see my boy,” she told him, a smile lighting up her face with glee. “Now at last you’re here and we
can start the party.”
“What party might that be, love?” he asked her warily. It was odd how even now his heart yearned toward her and the joy
they’d shared. But he did not feel guilty, because he knew his girl was even now sleeping beside his body and that this Drusilla
did not even exist.
“To celebrate me, silly,” she giggled. Spike let her take his hand and lead him towards an alcove off the hallway with
several couches and a small table set for two.
“What have you been doing what’s worth celebrating, Dru?” he asked her as they sat down and she started to pour out blood
into china teacups.
“I made you,” she said impatiently. “Can’t you see, my William? You could see before, and that’s why I chose you.”
“See what?” he asked again. He knew how long it would take her to get around to what he needed to know. That was his
specialty, knowing her.
“It’s not nice to talk before eating, Spike,” she reproved him. “Drink it all down and then we’ll open our mouths for
other things. If you don’t, I shall be very cross and send you away.” Spike obediently downed his glass and the taste almost
killed him. It was human blood. Something he hadn’t had in a very long time.
“Bloody hell, Dru!” he shouted. “I can’t go back.” She sipped her blood, savoring the liquid, and looked at him with
“Of course not. That would be utterly absurd. I know. You must go forward and I’ll help.”
“Why would you want to do that, pet?” Spike asked her suspiciously as he settled back down.
“It’s something I’m supposed to do. Miss Edith says so!” she said with tears in her voice and a pout on her lips. “I
know I’m a lie, but I rose above and now you hate me for it. But it wasn’t my fault and you have to see or you won’t try.”
“Now, now.” Spike put his arms around her like he used to until she quieted down. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset
She sat up and smiled at him.
“I’ll try to make you understand. Please understand or we can’t celebrate anymore and the party will end.”
“I’ll do my best,” he assured her. She smiled again.
“I wanted a knight before. I could choose anyone and make them all mine. Angelus and Grandmother laughed at me. They
sit so high, they think. But I could hear it whispering to me and I knew exactly.”
“That they’d chosen you, William,” she said and now her words changed to almost perfect lucidity as if some other force
wanted to make sure Spike could comprehend her every word. “I chose you with the eyes of love and sight. It floated all over
you, the signs of destiny and force. It hissed inside me to choose the beauty effulgent. I knew that the evil we’d share would
intoxicate for years and that my share in you would last forever. They chose me too.” Her face was in raptures as it used to
look when Spike would kill someone for her or bring her a gift. He swallowed hard as he thought about what she’d said.
“Who, Dru?” he asked impatiently. “Bloody who?”
“Them,” she growled. “Not your business to know. All you have to do is know that you cannot turn away. It’s laid out
and sung and that’s my last gift to you.”
“Gift?” he questioned. She sighed and put her cup down as she lovingly cupped his chin while her other hand pressed down
on his arm with each nail digging in.
“I gave you to good and evil hated me. Now you will have her, then light, and so be saved by my evil.”
“And what about you, love?” Spike ached as always to see the confusion and pain in her eyes, like a child who wanted its
“I’ll always be here, lurking,” she giggled. “And though you have to go, my party will last even longer now that I did
“I do miss you, Dru,” he told her sincerely. She rolled her eyes at him.
“Can’t ever get away, my sweet. Don’t try.” She stood up and led him back down the hallway. “Cry for a time, Spike, but
let the tears wash away and not you be washed away. Light is crueler by far than the dark.” Spike didn’t answer. He didn’t want
to know. He just kept walking down the hallway with his black goddess by his side until he realized that she wasn’t there at all
and he was walking on his own.
Buffy felt Spike tensing and stirring by her side and she reached out a hand to steady him. Sitting up, she turned on the small light by her bed and then faced him as he lay staring at the ceiling.
“Bad dream?” she asked quietly. He nodded.
“Anything in particular?” she asked again. She didn’t like being shut out, but she was trying to be sensitive. He didn’t
answer her. “Talk to me, please?” She decided to try begging. Spike gave a little laugh and grasped her hand in his.
“Never thought I’d see the day when you wanted me to talk, love.”
“Neither did I,” she told him. He turned to face her and turned her over and wrapped his arms around her so that he held
her back to his chest.
“Wasn’t a bad dream. Was an interesting dream though.”
“What was it about?”
“Dru,” he answered quietly, not saying anything else, probably waiting for her to stiffen. She did a little, but all she
“Not the best thing to be telling your girl, you know, that you’ve been dreaming about your ex. Might be giving me dusty
“Wasn’t like that,” he assured her. “But she’ll always be there, Buffy. Dru has a way of worming inside and never
“Well, so do I,” she warned him. He laughed again.
“Don’t I bloody well know. Anyways, she was telling me something about why she chose to turn me.”
“What did she say?” Buffy turned her head to look at him.
“I think she said that her visions told her to do it because I had something important to do later on. Don’t know what
that means, but guessing that all this bollocks that’s been my life was all for the sake of something. Don’t really like the idea
much. Not a big one for destiny and I hate other people messing around with me. They can fetch their own sodding sticks for all
“Shh, Spike,” she told him. “I know what destiny’s like better than anyone, but anything that brought you to me is okay
by me, including Drusilla.”
“So if I ever run off on a quest one day, you won’t have a problem staying home and minding the farm?” he queried cheekily.
Buffy swatted him playfully and he grabbed for her, apparently deciding that destiny could wait. She was awfully glad
Willow had taken the Wesley night shift.
The next day the sun seemed darker to everyone. It was noticeable to the eye, not just the senses. The darkness that had pervaded the earth was now visible.
Buffy shivered as she opened the door to her balcony and stood above the streets of Rome in the early morning light. It
wasn’t just the cold, it was the dark.
“Come away from it, luv,” Spike said from behind her in the shadows. Yet, as she turned to him, Buffy felt that he had
more light than the sun, which now seemed tainted. She returned to his arms and they went to get some breakfast.
Aside from Angel, who was in with Wesley, the rest of the group was scattered around the kitchen and living area, eating
breakfast of some kind.
“We need to find out what’s behind this, today if possible,” Buffy informed them. “I can’t stand this feeling of
wrong-ness in the air.”
“Buffy, I share your distaste for the evil that’s surrounding us, but I don’t see possibly how we could figure it out
today,” Giles reasoned. “None of our contacts are coming through for us.”
“I suppose if you weaklings cannot find me, I shall have to reveal myself,” came a cold and superior voice from the
sliding doors Buffy had left open. Buffy could see Spike’s hair stood up on the back of his neck as he recognized the voice and
Angel came racing out of the bedroom obviously with the same feeling. In the room he’d left behind, Wesley’s form started to
twitch and his eyelids to flutter.
The others watched with interest and some fear as the small, slender form of a woman came out of the bedroom. The face
could be called beautiful, though every part of her was tinged with blue or clad with leather; but what was really off setting was
the fact that her eyes looked like they were made out of ice and she tilted her head with a strange, bird like gesture that was
not human in the slightest. Willow’s eyes now opened wide in realization and she visibly cringed at the change she could see
“Illyria,” Angel said in slow, measured tones. “What do you want?”
“I have already told you, vampire,” she answered him disdainfully. “I will have this world as I should have had for eons
“Not while I’m in it,” he told her.
She turned away from him.
“I do not foresee this to be a problem.” She looked at the others each in turn and their hearts seemed to freeze as she
measured their souls.
“You think you will stand against me,” she told Buffy, “but your heart cannot prevail against my wonder.” She turned to
Willow. “Your mortal body holds you back from pure power. How weak a soul you have.”
Willow almost started forward, but Oz held her back. Illyria had already turned away.
“So you gonna tell us what you have to do with all this?” Spike asked her. “Or are you just gonna bore us to bloody
death?” She fixed her bird-like stare on him.
“What I choose to say should hold your ears with reverence. You forget who I am. I have chosen this world as my own and
there is much to be done. I have walked many worlds since last you stood before me. Much have I discerned of the passage of time
since my overthrow and that shame I can now rectify with the power of the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart, which are now mine.”
“So it’s you as has defeated them?” Spike asked.
“I have given them life,” she corrected him. “By allowing them into my presence and sustaining them by my might. What
they have is no longer their own and so would it be for any who defied me.”
“How can you stand there in her body and say that?” Willow asked quietly. Once more, Illyria’s eyes went that direction.
“This shell is mine by chance and contains no reason for me to share its once held values. You should not question me.”
Willow was quite clearly tired of being told what to do.
“You’re not the only one who doesn’t like being questioned!” she said, seething with anger, and Buffy realized Willow was
reaching with her mind for all the power she could find and then threw it toward the god-king. But instead of her designed intent
of explosion, bruising, or at least a wince, the power simply disappeared and Willow fell forward, looking drained, as blood
dripped down from her nose to her lip. “How’d, how’d you do that?” she gasped, looking up at Illyria in awe.
Contempt marred the creature’s face.
“You would dare ask an Old One to reveal her own self?” With a flash of light Illyria opened a portal and disappeared
“Now you know that it is hopeless,” she said before the portal closed up.
The room was quiet as Oz helped a bleeding, tired, very angry Willow up and got her something to wipe the blood with.
“It just got bad,” Angel informed everyone.
“Good call, Sherlock,” Oz said quietly.
“We should call in Faith,” Giles said to Buffy. “We need reinforcements.”
“Faith has her hands full,” Buffy said firmly. “I’m not calling her in. We’ve beaten worse things without more Slayers,
“Not worse,” Angel said.
“You always have to have worse bad guys than me, don’t you?” Buffy asked him wryly.
“We have over a thousand Slayers at our disposal then,” Giles insisted. “We should be prepared.”
“There aren’t any Slayers who are capable of taking care of something like this, Giles,” Buffy countered. “Just me and
Faith. Faith’s busy, guess I’m elected. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
“But there will be strength in numbers.”
“Is that all they are to you?” Buffy asked incredulously. “Numbers? I know I’m not the best at learning their names, but
geez, Giles, I see them as people. They’re babies and they’re not ready for this. I promise you if we can’t handle it, I will
call Faith, but the new Slayers stay out of it.”
“You know best, as usual.” Giles let it go.
Buffy put a hand on his arm.
“Thank you.” He smiled and she could see the words meant everything to him.
“I can’t move my arms,” Willow said frantically as she thrashed them around. “I don’t know what’s happened to me. I’m going to kill her!” Oz bit his lips as he carried Willow into Buffy’s room and laid her gently on the bed.
“Will,” he said firmly, “you’re fine. You got the wind knocked out of you. Magically speaking.”
“But I’m bleeding and…” Willow’s voice trailed off as she seemed to regain control of her senses and reassess her
emotional and physical state. “I probably couldn’t even light a candle at the moment,” she said simply, but Oz caught the
suppressed rage in her voice.
“You just need rest,” he told her. “You’ll be lighting candles again tomorrow.”
“I shouldn’t have to rest!” she snapped, her eyes flashing black. “I have more power than I know what to do with. How
could she just take it like that? I need to know how. I need to be able to beat her. I have to control my power or she’ll be
able to take it again. I need more-“
Oz cut her off.
“What you need is sleep,” he said. “Your power talk is scaring me.” His words appeared to penetrate the red mist Willow
was seeing through, though it by no means dispersed it.
“You’re right,” she said calmly. “I’ll never get anywhere by being a bad patient. I can just rest and tomorrow I’ll
learn.” Oz was hit again how like and yet unlike this Willow was to his. She was so capable, so child-like, so scarred, so
unstable, so beautiful.
“Willow,” he sat down as she closed her eyes and started to breathe in more slowly. “I don’t know everything you’ve been
through. I know facts. But I don’t want to interfere or make it seem like you’re not competent. Just try to remember what I
once told you. I’m concerned for you. I don’t think endless jumps into more power is the way to go. Losing control is scary,
but I think it’s ourselves we need control over, not what others do to us.”
She opened her eyes and stared at him for a long moment. Oz held his breath as time seemed to slip away from them. For a
moment, he could almost believe she was his again. Her hand came up to his face and touched it slowly, then moved down and just
barely grazed the scar that peeked over his t-shirt. He winced at the reminder of his folly, but didn’t move away.
“I forgave you,” she said softly, “like you forgave me. I was just…dazzled by pure beauty. How could I turn away from
“I know I can’t,” he said just as softly. She smiled.
“But your light shines too.” She didn’t say anymore and the light in her eyes faded and he once again saw the deep,
emotional depths that had made it disappear.
“I should let you sleep,” he said and rose to go.
“Thank you,” he heard her whisper before he went out the door.
“Get control of yourself,” he muttered after he’d closed it.
“I gotta get out there,” Spike said restlessly. “I’m useless here.” Willow glanced up from the book she was feverishly working on.
“I can’t stand sitting here like a twat,” he replied testily. “Buffy gets to go out there with Slinky Brows while I sit
here doing bollocks.”
“She’s doing the same thing you are if I know her at all,” Willow told him. He smiled.
Willow returned to her book and became entirely engrossed in furiously copying notes. Spike stood up and got some blood
from the kitchen before going into where Oz was keeping watch on Wesley.
“How’s he doing?”
“The same.” Oz took a look at Spike’s face and Spike knew the other man saw the tight, worried expression it always wore
when he looked at Wesley. “He’ll wake up. There’s a strength he seems to have conjured up since last time we met.”
“You’re not quite the same fountain of cool either now, are you?” Spike observed.
“Cool.” Oz’s voice was amused and light. “Always the same word. Cool’s been tainted with rage.”
“I’m sorry.” Spike turned to him.
“And why?” Oz turned to face him as well.
“Because I saw you kids and you were happy, but you chose to fight things like me. You grew up too bloody fast - even
him.” Spike gestured over his shoulder at Wesley. “He was blissfully prissy afore he came over the pond.” They were silent for
a moment before Spike added, “I think he was glad to get away from his ponce of a dad, though.”
“You bet I bloody well was,” came the weakest voice Spike had ever heard and that included Drusilla when she was sick
“Wes?” Spike questioned as he turned to face the sick man. Wesley’s lips were moving, though barely.
“I think I want to get up now,” he said as Spike strained to hear.
“Not that I’m not gonna start dancing from joy, mate, but are you sure you’re ready?”
“I have to stop h- this.” Wesley struggled to rise but was unable to manage it. He stopped and lay limply on the bed,
quiet fury at himself shining in his eyes.
“I’ll go get Willow,” Spike told him and left quickly. Oz shifted Wesley so he was sitting up more and brought him some
water which he carefully helped Wesley drink.
“Thank you.” Wesley’s voice rang with meaning despite his general inability to speak clearly at the moment.
“No problem,” Oz told him, gripping his shoulder briefly in assurance.
Spike came back in with Willow in tow. She went immediately to Wesley’s side and laid her hand on his forehead.
“Diagnosis, doc?” Spike asked impatiently.
Willow rolled her eyes.
“I’m not exactly qualified to be even a nurse, Spike. I’m trying to feel his aura.”
“Diagnosis, sorceress?” Spike inquired again. Oz grinned.
“He’s woken himself up of his own accord, that’s good,” Willow said. “He doesn’t seem to have anything wrong other than a
deep depression and emotional guilt, but I guess that’s to be expected. He’s physically fine as far as I can make out, but he’s
really weak. He’s gonna need help for awhile.”
“My fault,” Wesley murmured.
“Don’t you start that, Wes,” Spike snapped at him.
“No, no.” Wesley tried to shake his head. “Bloody selfish.”
“Who?” Willow asked.
“Me, all me,” Wesley said, closing his eyes again.
“You just need rest,” Oz told him. “Blame comes later.”
“Wouldn’t need rest if I hadn’t felt I needed to punish myself. Could’ve done that while I was awake. I hear flogging’s
nice this time of year,” Wesley mumbled, half in, half out of consciousness.
“Cut that kind of talk, mate,” Spike told him. “We’re here and you’ll get better.”
“What he really needs is lots of nourishment,” Willow told the other two. “I’m gonna give him a kind of energy boost so
he can eat and then we’ll let him sleep again.”
“You can do that?” Spike asked.
“Not as well as I could’ve yesterday,” Willow said bitterly, “but well enough.”
“Easy does it, Red,” Spike smoothed. “Just do what you can.”
“Sure thing,” she answered and quickly spoke some quiet words under her breath, seeming to let them flow out from her and
surround Wesley and come into his very being. His breathing grew more regular and some color came back into his cheeks. His eyes
opened and his stomach rumbled.
“How about dinner?” he asked.
They all smiled. Now that was more like it.
Wesley sighed in deep satisfaction. He hadn’t realized he’d been so famished. True, he felt as weak as a kitten, but the energy Willow had given him was enough to allow him to get some real energy into his body and he knew that was the best way to get him strong and healthy again. As soon as he was able, he’d start working with Spike, getting fit. He had to be able to fight, to cut down the monster who was wearing his Winifred.
He stopped thinking. He had to. There could be no more wallowing in misery. Fred wouldn’t have wanted that. He was
heartily angry at himself for letting things go this far. He’d traveled half way around the world and barely knew it. That was
certainly a fine way to handle things. No, all it did was betray her trust in him. But that was stopping from this point on.
He could trust Spike. Indeed, he felt glad knowing Spike was there. He also knew that Willow, Buffy and Giles could be
trusted to work out any tough situation. Or impossible situation. He’d underestimated them before. He wasn’t really sure he
wanted to talk to Giles personally, however. But he’d reflect on that later. Now was the time to get better.
He believed Oz would help. He didn’t know what to justify his faith on, but he felt somehow that the young man had
pledged his support and friendship to him in some way. Wesley could receive it gratefully, knowing he’d done nothing to deserve
it in the past. But the young man had seen pain; Wesley could see it in his eyes.
There was a noise from the other room and Wesley heard voices. In particular a voice that he suddenly cringed to hear.
In the living room Buffy and Angel had gotten home. Angel was protesting rather loudly about a comment Buffy had made on
the way regarding a punch he’d laid sometime during the night. Spike smirked. Nothing like his girl in fighting form.
“Leprechaun is a bad word, Buffy,” Angel told her, certainly almost fighting to hold back a grin himself. Spike guessed
it must have been a good night. Angel hadn’t looked that rejuvenated in a long time. Being with friends must be helping.
“It’s your thumb, not mine,” she told him sweetly. Angel simply glowered and turned to hang his coat up carefully, then
stopped, sniffing the air.
“He’s awake?” he asked Spike abruptly.
“Barely,” Oz muttered into his food.
“He’s out of it,” Spike concurred. Angel blanched suddenly and looked as if he wanted to run for the door.
“What’s the matter now, Grampa?” Spike asked curiously. “Just to let you know, that was what we were hoping for.”
“I know, Spike!” Angel shot back. “But I’m just not ready.”
“For what?” Buffy asked.
“To face him.”
“For what?” Buffy and Spike asked together.
“For bringing her to that place,” Angel said softly. Buffy’s face softened.
“I think there’s enough blame to go around, Angel.”
“Maybe we should draw straws,” Oz suggested.
“There’s a plan,” Willow encouraged. “We could make a fun game out of it. You know, who did the bad things that we
should pun…” she trailed off. Oz and Buffy both hid smiles.
“You should see him,” Spike told Angel firmly. Angel nodded.
“I’ll stay out here. There shouldn’t be a crowd,” Willow said.
“Me too,” Oz said.
“I’ll lead the way,” Spike said.
Wesley prepared himself. He knew they were coming now. He wanted to properly thank Buffy for letting him into her home. In some
way, he still didn’t think he deserved her kindness at all, considering how he’d let her down in the past. Angel, well, Angel was
still his friend.
All the same he couldn’t help flinching as the big vampire walked into the room. He well remembered the last time Angel
had walked into a room where he had been lying helpless on a bed. Although he couldn’t quite recall why it had happened.
“Wes,” Angel said, “we’ve been worried. Are you okay?”
“Fine,” Wesley rasped. “Dandy.”
“Can I do anything?” Angel asked, obviously feeling like running away.
“No, I can manage,” Wesley said, just as uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry,” Angel said quickly before leaving the room.
“I know,” Wesley said quietly, knowing Angel could hear him.
“Well, aren’t you two the chipper ones?” Spike asked Wesley who gave a grim smile.
“Angel and I always need time after a crisis.”
“Well, take as much time as you need, Wes,” Buffy told him. “You’re back on the right side of the ocean and there’s no
check out policy at the Hotel Buffy.”
“I can’t thank you enough,” Wesley said feebly. “I shouldn’t be here. But I’m so pleased anyway-”
“Don’t be getting formal on me again,” Buffy told him with a grin. “Spike tells me you’ve become a normal person now who
occasionally doesn’t shave and everything.”
“Sometimes,” Wesley said. “Other moments I scream like a woman.”
“Well, I’d miss you if you were too different.”
“No, you wouldn’t,” he told her. She smiled again.
“Get better, Wes. There are a lot of people here who need you.”
“Thank you, Miss Summers,” Wesley told her. She left the room, leaving Spike alone with Wesley.
“How goes the reunion?” Wesley asked. Spike grabbed a chair and sat down.
“None of your bloody business, that’s how,” he said slyly. Wesley gave him a sideways glance and stopped talking. His
“Talk to me, Spike,” he said finally. “Tell me what I need to hear.”
“Of course, mate,” Spike said and proceeded to do just that.
It was dark when Wesley woke up. He didn’t know how long he’d slept. He felt better though he couldn’t quite move without
effort. Mentally cursing himself, he wondered how he could get a hold of someone with his weak voice. Perhaps vampire hearing
would do the trick.
“Can I get you something?” asked a voice from the shadows. Oz sat there with a book placed beside him.
“A bell would be quite sufficient, you know,” Wesley said uncomfortably. “I’m sure you all have much better things to do.”
“Precious things bear watching.” Oz shrugged. “Now, what can I order for you?”
“I don’t suppose you’d let me have a steak,” Wesley said doubtfully. Oz smiled.
“Sorry. Willow’s orders. Lots of toast, tea and broth. Maybe we can work our way up to oatmeal.”
Wesley’s face brightened at the mention of tea.
“A cup would be lovely,” he said. “Better bring the lots of toast with you while you’re at it.”
“Coming right up.”
Oz left the room. In a little while he was back, bearing a tray loaded down with toast and a pot of tea. Wesley felt at
home as he smelled the aroma and knew that Giles must have had a hand in making it.
“I do appreciate this, Oz,” he told the young man who was settling back into his chair.
“Honestly, please don’t mention it,” Oz said earnestly. “As in, really please don’t. Willow could tell you why.”
“I’m willing to accommodate.”
“Stop trying to be the Watcher again,” Oz told him. “I think you’re actually quite dangerous under the little, formal
facade you got going on.”
Wesley turned a bit red.
“I’m sorry. I just…revert to old habits under pressure.”
“There’s no pressure here,” Oz said. “Lots of angst and drama, but no pressure.”
“Thank goodness,” Wesley said dryly. “Whatever was I worrying about?”
“You got me,” Oz answered.
They grew quiet and the sounds were broken by Wesley’s quiet chewing and the flipping of Oz’s pages.
“What are you reading?” Wesley asked softly.
“Call of the Wild. I like it. It’s homey. Willow used to read it to me when I was caged.”
“I do recall seeing it around the library,” Wesley remembered. “Not that it being in a library would be surprising, but
it did seem to turn up regularly.”
“Like clockwork,” Oz said, his face unreadable.
“Are you in control now?” Wesley asked him tentatively, unsure of how much ground he’d really made with Oz and what right
he had to ask.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”
“It’s not that. I just wonder what control really means.”
“I often wonder that myself,” Wesley said, thinking back on his life. Oz looked at him and Wesley knew he understood what
he was thinking about. “Did all those times I refrained from something mean I was in control or that I was capitulating to some
need stronger than myself?” Wesley continued.
“Again, I surrender, you got me.”
Wesley gave a vague smile and continued to eat.
“Are my things here do you know?”
“Yeah. They got a pile of luggage in the closet.”
“Perhaps I shall be able to go through it tomorrow.”
“Willow said you’re pretty much going to be in bed for the next little while,” Oz said apologetically. “You crashed
yourself pretty hard.”
Wesley’s tightened face showed that he didn’t need to be told that.
“I just, foolishly, didn’t want to face anything. It was all too much,” he said quietly.
“I’d be agreeing.”
“Everything seems so fuzzy,” Wesley said musingly. “I can’t remember some things, or it’s like I want to remember
something that didn’t happen. But all the things I want to forget are extremely clear, like when she-“ he stopped. “When Angel
brought us into that place, brought her there. When Gunn signed those forms.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Fun is a sandbox or a beach,” Wesley said a little sharply. “Watching the woman you love die and having your best
friends sign her death sentence is something else entirely.”
“Pretty much a different species,” Oz agreed calmly. Wesley looked at him.
“You never do show anger through your words.”
“I’m pretty much an action-guy,” Oz answered. “But anger, anger and I have formed an attachment.”
Wesley didn’t say anything. Pretty soon he’d finished his meal and was ready to sleep again. His voice and eyes hurt and
eating had taken a lot out of him.
Oz took his tray as Wesley fell asleep.
“Sleep well,” Oz spoke over him.
Then he waited until the moon rose and he was relieved by Buffy and went out onto the balcony. The anger that he’d spoken
about with Wesley rose up in him as the moon did before him. Its power fueled the rage that he felt at the changes he could sense
in the people around him, especially his own Willow. He hated and loved feeling the silver rays of the moon and the thrill and
energy that he gained from it as it ever sought to change him.
The next time Wesley woke up he was definitely alone though sounds from the other room told him the house was not completely
vacant. He settled back into his pillows and tried to assess his physical status. Everything seemed to be working, though his
voice was still hoarse and his eyes didn’t want to focus. He also didn’t think he’d be walking soon.
“A right bloody baby, complete with nappies, you’ve made,” he muttered. Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in,” he called quietly. Angel opened the door and brought in a tray with some broth and toast.
“Uh, hi,” he said. “I thought you’d probably be wanting this since you were awake.”
Wesley shifted a bit, but reached for the tray.
“Vampires never cease to amaze me.”
“Nifty breed,” Angel said, backing away to stand against the wall. There was an awkward silence as Wesley started to
eat. “I never would have let her come,” Angel said suddenly, “if I’d known. I would’ve saved her from the monsters.”
“I know all that,” Wesley said. “But that doesn’t change the facts. I watched her die, Angel.”
Angel’s face contracted and he swallowed.
“I’m so sorry, Wesley.”
“I’m glad you’re here,” Wesley told him. “I know she would’ve wanted us to stay together. I know that I’ve never been
happier than when we fought side by side, or me a few steps behind.” Angel cracked a smile. “I still have things I need to sort
out in my mind, but you are my family, Angel.”
“Right now you’re all that’s left of mine,” Angel told him.
Wesley shook his head.
“If you want to be precise, I believe there is a rather close relative of yours out in the living room and Buffy will
always remain bound to you. We can’t go on as we were before, but I think it will help to remember that we’re not alone.”
“I thought I was the one with a lifetime of knowledge,” Angel said. “Or two or three.”
“I believe most of that time you spent learning things I don’t care to think about,” Wesley reminded him.
“Oh yeah.” Angel sighed. “I’ll still be here, Wes, but I know you have to go on and I have things I can’t ignore
“I appreciate that. I won’t hold it against you. I’ll be here as well.”
“How did it come to this?” Angel mused out loud as he left.
Wesley sipped his broth and wondered the same thing.
Over the next few weeks Buffy, Spike and Angel patrolled, Giles and Willow researched, perhaps not for the same reasons. Oz
helped with both of those occupations, but Wesley rested and regained his strength. He was almost up to walking when Giles wanted
to acquaint everyone with the research he’d been doing.
As Spike carried him into the living room, Wesley felt like a fool, but he grimly bore the shame that in truth, only he,
thrust upon himself. The others settled around the room as Giles gathered his notes and began his usual exposition.
“We’re up against our normal, impossible fight,” he told them. “Not only has one of the Old Ones resurfaced, but the
power of one of the greatest evils of our world has been added to it. Illyria was greatly feared in her day when there were those
who could oppose her. But now it would be most dire to fight her when we have nothing of those weapons that they had in her
reign. She has the ability to open portals, walk through dimensions and freeze time, her skin is incredibly hard and her agility
and strength is beyond Buffy’s, Spike’s and Angel’s, perhaps combined. With the power of Wolfram & Hart she has complete control
over each evil creature in their vast empire, which apparently is the earth; so it is a very good thing that Angel and Spike
possess their souls and that Oz has control over his wolf. As it is, I am sure they’re feeling the pressure.”
The three men nodded their confirmation.
“She’s calling,” Oz said softly.
“So now we know we’re in a bad situation,” Giles continued. “But we knew that. The question is, what can we do about it?”
“Not much.” Willow took up the tale. “Illyria doesn’t seem to have weaknesses. But she can be killed because she was
buried in the Deeper Well. She also has to have her human vessel intact, so if we can damage, uh, Fred,” she said hastily before
continuing, “then her power won’t be enough. She’s bound to her body.”
Wesley blanched and Giles started again quickly.
“There are not very many writings from the time of the Old Ones. But I’ve access to a few through my new pass into the
remnants of the Watcher’s library. Sometimes being in charge has merit. But these writings are all we have to go on. There may
be some spells or guides as to how to weaken or destroy her. I will make sure you’re all updated fully as I find out more. But,
as of this moment, I do not know of anything that can defeat her.”
“Thank you, Giles,” Buffy said. “I appreciate all of that.” Giles nodded, looking gratified.
“And you, Will,” Buffy turned to her friend, “I noticed you’ve been putting a lot of effort into research.”
Willow turned a bit red.
“It’s personal, I guess.”
Buffy quirked an eyebrow and spoke low.
“Because of Fred or because she’s more powerful than you?”
“Can’t it be both?” Willow asked defiantly.
Buffy pondered and then addressed the whole group without answering.
“Please be careful, guys. She’s tricky and she knows us somehow.” She was interrupted by the phone ringing. The others
continued to discuss the matter while she went to answer it.
“Nuthouse,” she said cheerfully.
“So you finally admit you’re crazy,” Dawn’s voice came over the line.
“Hey, Dawnie! I’m talking about the other residents. How goes the quest?”
“Really good,” Dawn answered. “That’s actually why I called. I’m sorta gonna be unavailable for awhile.”
“Which means?” Buffy instantly went into mother mode.
“Stop it. I’m fine. But the coven I’ve been working with has unlocked some of my powers and they think the best way for
me to learn about them is to use them. So I’m going to another dimension and time works differently there. It will be awhile for
you before I come back.”
“You only just turned eighteen!” Buffy yelled. Everyone turned to look at her.
“I have to do this, Buffy. I’m going, but I’ll give you all my information and the coven should know what’s going on even
if they can’t really contact me. It’s not dangerous.”
“Spike’s gonna explode,” Buffy muttered. There was a sharp intake of breath on the other line.
“SPIKE what?” Dawn asked.
Buffy sighed and then began to explain. Again.
“You’re bouncing,” Wesley commented from a chair by the window. Spike just grinned and continued transferring blood from a cooler into the fridge. They were alone in the front room. That day Wesley had managed three steps on his own and so he felt a little elated himself, but Spike obviously had a different reason.
“I think she likes me again,” he said.
“Buffy?” Wesley asked dryly.
“Nope,” Spike answered cheekily.
“Dawn,” Wesley caught on.
“Bring out the cigars,” Spike congratulated Wesley. “She actually said she was sorry she couldn’t see me before she went
dimension hopping. Apparently setting people on fire isn’t her main passion anymore.”
“I believe she has grown some,” Wesley said softly. “When people die you realize their worth and no longer wish they had
to pay for what they did.”
“Like who?” Spike asked the deeper question.
“No one.” Wesley turned his head back toward the window.
Spike finished putting away the blood and then leaned against the wall next to the quiet convalescent.
“Don’t be like that, mate,” he said gently. “I don’t want to have to use force, but we’re getting smaller here and
bottling up leads to brooding which I won’t let you bollocks up your life with like a certain grandsire of mine.” Wesley let
out a small chuckle, almost bitter, but with real enjoyment in there.
“I was referring to Charles.”
“Wasn’t too happy with old Charlie-boy there at the end,” Spike said offhand.
“Me either,” Wesley agreed.
Spike smiled grimly.
“Sure, you bloody stabbed him.”
“As I’ve said repeatedly,” Wesley reiterated, “I avoided the main organs.”
“Sure, only a maiming then.”
“I regret it now,” Wesley said.
“Well, not really. But I regret that I don’t regret it. And I wish that he’d lived and shared this pain with us. We
could grow further that way. As much as I am unhappy with Angel right now, I know it won't last. We can be again as we were, but
with more understanding, hopefully.”
“But Gunn doesn’t have that chance.”
“No.” Wesley shook his head. “He doesn’t. But I think now that he’s gone, I still have a choice whether or not to let
this keep me from living. I am pleased that though Dawn didn’t immediately become an adoring little sister, she understood you
and forgave you. I want to do that.”
“Does that you mean you did?”
“That means I’m trying,” Wesley answered, knowing it was the best he had to give.
Major character death in this chapter!
Angel was walking down the street. It wasn’t an unusual thing for him to be doing. He walked quite a lot and, if it was at night, he much preferred the street to the sewers. On the other hand, he wasn’t feeling quite like himself. Brooding was an understatement for what he was doing.
Wesley was right to be angry with him. It took a lot for Angel to admit that. He wasn’t used to Wesley being right about
anything and being the only one who knew about Wesley’s biggest mistake galled the self-righteousness that Angel carried around
with him. He knew that it was his fault Wesley didn’t remember that, and he knew he’d long since forgiven him, but, at the same
time, secret keeping was hard.
He was on his way to check up on Connor. He had a feeling that the only good thing about helping Connor come to Rome was
that when the inevitable attack on his son came, he would be there to help.
Hearing the sounds of a scuffle, Angel wondered if the time had come. Coming around the corner, he dodged as a large form
flew through the air toward him. It was a vampire. After dusting it, he leaned against the wall to watch his son fight.
Connor obviously didn’t know what he was doing though his natural instincts, strength and reflexes were keeping him
alive. But only just, for though he could keep the vampires away, he did not know how to kill them and he didn't have even close
to a stake.
Moving into action, Angel entered the fight and offered his own experience to help Connor out. He pulled out an extra
stake and called to the young man.
“They don’t like this in the heart!”
Connor caught the thrown stake in surprise and, out of reflex jammed it into the heart of the nearest vamp. The dust
exploded over the rest of the fight as Angel fought, blocked and staked routinely while really watching his son.
Ducking under a forward punch, Angel grabbed his last vampire by the neck and staked him through the back. Turning around
he spied Connor sliding his own stake into the final vampire.
“Well done,” said a voice from the shadows.
Angel groaned when he saw who it was.
“I don’t have time for this.”
“Well, thanks to you really I have all the time in the world, so indulge me.”
“Go away, Lilah.”
“Got my orders,” she refused gaily. “You really shook things up, didn’t you? Just had to ruin the opportunity we gave you, had to bring back an Old One, and had to ruin life for us all. Or death in our case.” She gestured between Angel and herself.
“What do you want? Not that I don’t wish I could snap your neck instead.”
“Afraid Wes got there before you,” she pointed out. “But we’re all marching for a different drummer these days. She kind of looks familiar actually and she wants him.”
“Not him,” Angel said, moving protectively in front of Connor.
“Who are you?” the young man asked.
“Not right now, it’s not safe.”
“She’s definitely not safe, but are you?”
Lilah’s laugh echoed through the alley.
“How’s it feel, Angel?”
“Probably the same as when your mother doesn’t recognize you,” he snapped back at her. Her face hardened.
“Illyria wants Connor. Better give him up.”
“Over your dead body,” Angel replied.
“Wouldn’t be too hard.” She smiled. “But I’m not who you have to worry about. This is even bigger than it used to be.
Wolfram & Hart may not always like it, but they’re not in charge anymore and now it’s a part of what will be your end. She
doesn’t care about prophecies, Angel.”
“Neither do I.”
“Well, they have been rather strenuous for you so far,” she agreed. “Now let Connor come with me.”
“Then I suggest you run,” she said and melted back into the shadows. “Better not tell Wesley I said hi.”
“What is going on?” Connor asked in frustration. “These things just jumped me, who the hell are you, and what does
whoever it is want with me? I want some answers.”
Angel sighed. This was not the time to reveal all and the boy probably wouldn’t believe him anyway. But something would
have to be said.
“Can we get some coffee or something?” he asked. “You need to learn fast and then we need to make you safe.”
“We’ll see,” Connor said warily, following Angel out of the alley.
Willow heard the sound of pages being flipped rapidly and raised her head to see Giles copying things down and working out what looked like calculations. She sighed, set her own book down and went to get a glass of water.
Her initial rage against Illyria for humiliating her had subsided and she was no longer researching with the mad frenzy
that had possessed her at first. The embers were still there though and she could feel them burning with a dull resentment.
She was bored and she wanted to be with people. Buffy and Spike were out patrolling and Oz, for some reason, was avoiding
her. At least she thought he was, but it wasn’t like it was any of her business anyway. And that was what she wanted, to stay
away from him, to forget the mixed up feelings he provoked in her. Or to just give in to the comfort and stability he provided.
When he wasn’t avoiding her, that is.
Leaving Giles to his manic writing, she went in to check on Wesley. He was sleeping and she picked up the room quietly,
refilling his water pitcher and checking to make sure he had enough blankets.
His scruffy face was so different from the one she’d first known all those years ago in Sunnydale. His soul had changed,
so had hers. But then she laughed quietly when she remembered his telling her about locking a woman in a closet after she’d
revealed her desperate attempt to destroy the world. Changes did not change the inherent self that each person carried with
them. That realization gave her hope and she decided to go back and help Giles to save her friends rather than prove herself.
Buffy and Spike came in the door squabbling. Giles and Willow had grown used to the scene and so ignored them, though Willow went to inquire after their success. Giles, however, grew even more engrossed in what he was reading and tiny sounds of realization began to escape him and eventually when he gasped a loud, “Oh!” Spike noticed what was going on and investigated.
“Watcha got there, Watcher?” he asked genially enough. Giles grabbed his book and started reading out some gibberish to
them before he remembered that they didn’t speak the language he was reading from.
“This is it! This is the spell, the weakness, this is what will keep Illyria from destroying the world. It was in the
Old World Codex after all. Just like that.”
Smiles rose on everyone’s faces.
“Giles, are you sure?” Buffy moved to his side to look at the pages but then sat down with a pout as she realized she
couldn’t read them. “Why do all the ultimate spells have to be written in some musty, old, demony language? Don’t demons know
“Well, some of us,” Spike muttered under his breath. Buffy shot him a glare.
“Tell us what’s what, Giles,” she requested. “I’ve got a yen to kill right about now.”
“Well, it doesn’t really involve much killing on your part, actually,” Giles said rather apologetically. “It’s more of a
spell that would just require your guarding skills to make sure nothing interrupts it.”
“I’ll take what I can get,” Buffy grumbled.
Spike moved over and started to rub her shoulders whereupon her mood improved tremendously.
“What else, Giles?” Willow asked as she quickly checked the magical wards she’d placed around the apartment to make sure
no one could overhear them. At that point they all noticed Oz had appeared in the room, heavily supporting a walking-on-his-
own-feet Wesley. After Wesley was settled on the couch Giles explained.
“This is a spell that Willow and I could perform. It appears, like Willow said, that Illyria’s physical form is her
weakest point and this is because the body was never meant to hold all the power it now contains. The power will be trying to
burst out and Illyria is probably having quite a time keeping it all within her body. Apparently there was a spell that some Old
Ones performed when she was defeated that tapped into the power that was trying to escape and harnessed it against her. We can do
the same. Without her power, she should retain only normal demon-like attributes and could be killed like any other.”
“So there is killing?” Spike and Buffy asked together.
“Well, yes, but not for the actual spell part.”
“Spell, whatever,” Buffy said. “Give me my Scythe and let’s go.”
“We need to plan this out, Buffy,” Giles told her. “Willow and I will have to study this spell to get it perfect.
Illyria will be well practiced in resisting spells and it will require a lot of effort on the part of our fighters to keep us
protected while we perform the spell.”
“That we can do,” Buffy assured him. “I’m all about can-doing that.”
Just then, a rather harried-looking Angel came in the door followed closely by a young man about eighteen with longish,
brown hair and a lanky build. Spike was instantly struck by how the boy resembled someone he’d once known. If only he could
remember who. Wesley also looked hit by recognition, but Spike figured he must be mistaken when confused crossed Wesley's face
and he didn't say anything.
“Angel, what’s going on?” Buffy asked curiously. “Who’s this?”
“His name is-“ Angel hesitated.
“My name is Connor,” the young man said, putting his hand toward Buffy. She shook it and gestured for him to take a seat.
“Hi, Connor. I’m Buffy and this is Spike, Giles, Wesley, Willow and Oz.”
“Nice to meet you all,” Connor said, but Spike noticed he sat down warily and kept a watchful eye on all in the room.
“So where do you know Angel from?” Willow asked. Curiosity was really getting to everyone.
“He rescued me from some vampires tonight,” Connor replied steadily, looking for everyone’s reaction.
“He’s got a habit of doing that,” Spike told him. “Don’t let the broody heroics get you down.”
Connor flashed a small smile but didn’t say anything.
“Not that we mind having you,” Buffy assured Connor before turning to Angel, “but why did you bring him here?”
“Okay.” Angel braced himself. “I can’t explain it. It’s actually really complicated. But I saw Lilah tonight.” It
seemed only Wesley recognized the name and the sound of it looked like it tore a hole through his gut, but he sat quietly. Angel
sent an apologetic look in his direction before continuing.
“She sent the vampires after Connor, or rather Illyria did, because Lilah has to work for Wolfram & Hart and they have to
work for Illyria. I don’t know why she wants him exactly, but I’ve been keeping a close watch on him for awhile now due to work-related things that happened before our little schism with the Senior Partners.”
“Keep going and maybe I’ll follow you,” Buffy told him.
Angel shook his head.
“I can’t say anymore than that. Except…well, I have to go. Connor is in danger here and I have to take him somewhere
Illyria can’t get at him. I’m sorry, Buffy. Wes, I’m really sorry. But another innocent life is at stake and I have to make
sure what happened to Fred doesn’t happen to him.”
“What about our bloody innocent lives?” Spike inquired sharply.
“Your life is anything but innocent, Spike!” Angel snapped.
“And thank you, Mr. Pot,” Buffy interrupted. “Can we not do the whole ‘whose past sins are worst’ game right now?”
Angel and Spike looked away from each other, but anger had clearly risen in both. Spike looked at the rest to see if they
would say anything.
Giles and Oz obviously felt like it wasn’t their place to say anything, so they just looked on. Willow and Wesley
probably felt differently, but they each would have their own personal reasons for not wanting to get involved in this particular
blow up. Wesley would be trying to save his strength and Willow would wante to avoid a need to control the situation.
“I have to go. But I will be back just as soon as I know he’s safe,” Angel promised. “I said I would fight this fight
and I will. Illyria is my problem too and I won’t forget that.”
“You’d better hurry then,” Wesley said quietly.
Angel gave him a swift searching look and Wesley nodded ever so slightly. Mollified, Angel turned to Connor.
“Let’s go, so-“ he stopped. “So we can get away before anyone knows you were here.”
“You told me after the coffeehouse that I would get some real answers,” Connor reminded him. “That will happen or I will
be going right back to school.”
“I know,” Angel said quietly. “I want you to feel free here.”
“Thank you for your hospitality,” Connor told Buffy. “It was nice to meet you.”
“And you,” she answered quietly.
They all watched quietly as Angel and Connor left and it wasn’t until they had gone that Spike remembered nobody had even
told Angel that they knew how to defeat Illyria now.
Days passed slowly. Wesley regained his strength and worked his mind as well by studying the spell with Giles and helping Willow learn it. He was walking entirely on his own now and while wielding a sword was not in the picture, his trigger finger worked just fine.
Spike didn’t miss Angel at all. Neither did Giles. But Wesley found himself missing his friend and pondering the reason
why Angel would have left with the imminent battle ahead. His memory didn’t allow him to stay focused on the question for long.
Every time he thought he had an answer, his mind started thinking about something else. Wesley found it frustrating, but he knew
that his main concern was getting well and then the spell.
Willow spent her time learning the spell, getting close again with Giles and Buffy and wondering why Oz was ignoring her,
even though she was glad he was. She’d figure it out after Illyria, the self-righteous god king was defeated.
Oz focused on helping Wesley regain his strength and ignoring Willow. Whether or not that was a wise thing, he didn’t
know, but that’s all he could do with the wolf howling inside him day and night.
Spike and Buffy were preoccupied with each other. They went out every night patrolling, trying to find anything of
Illyria’s forces. Apparently, she wasn’t letting them out much. So they spent the time making out, talking or arguing, whichever
happened first. Buffy had never been so happy or so frustrated in her whole life. Spike was definitely a challenge that she’d
never understood before. Spike still didn’t understand her, but he would be dust before he gave up trying.
Angel had this niggling feeling that something was wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on it. He kept coming back to Lilah and what she’d said to him. She knew about him and Connor and now Illyria knew. What did that mean? Why would Illyria want Connor? Why would Lilah tell him to run? Why would he take Lilah’s advice for that matter?
Sighing, Angel took another sip of blood, carefully out of Connor’s sight. Lilah, Lilah was the key. Lilah was smart and
shifty and moral-less, especially now she was dead and controlled by Illyria. What could Lilah’s knowledge of Connor have to do
with Illyria’s plans? Or was it just about getting him out of the way? Angel couldn’t shake it any longer. Something was really
wrong. He went to find Connor.
Oz woke up suddenly, his heart pounding. His instincts told him he wasn’t alone and he slid off the couch and crouched beside it, listening. Footsteps moved toward him and he waited. Just as they bent over the couch where he’d been sleeping, he leapt up and knocked the person to the floor. He pinned the arms down as a light rose from their fingers and illuminated the face of Willow whom, Oz suddenly realized uncomfortably, he was almost lying on top of.
“Hi,” he said, moving off.
“Breakfast is ready,” Willow said awkwardly. “But if I’d have known you felt that way I wouldn’t have bothered.”
“Sorry. I didn’t know it was you.” Oz grabbed his t-shirt and pulled it over his head as Willow babbled on about how it
was okay. His wolf growled in delight, his heart throbbed in longing. But in the split two seconds that his head was in the
shirt, Oz erased both feelings from his face and emerged stoic.
“What’s for breakfast?”
Giles made an announcement at breakfast that morning.
“We are ready to face Illyria. Wesley is recovered enough to go into combat and Willow is proficient with the spell. We
have enough backup and supernatural strength, though we could have more,” he added with a pointed look at Buffy. She simply
smiled at him and so he continued, “I believe we are as ready as we shall ever be.”
“Thank goodness!” Buffy said, biting into her toast with gusto. “I was about to die of boredom.”
“I wouldn’t have let you,” Spike told her, taking a sip from her orange juice.
“Get your own, Spike!” she snapped at him and reached across the table for the waffles. Spike just shrugged and grabbed
two waffles off the plate as her arm brought it past him. Buffy glared, but to no avail.
“So when we going?” he asked Giles.
“Tonight if at all possible. I don’t think we can wait for Angel since he never said when he would return.”
“Sounds fair,” Willow said, anxious to do the spell for real. Giles looked hard at her, but refrained from speaking.
“Then everyone prepare and we shall leave around sunset. You all know what to do.”
“Bloody well bet we do,” Spike muttered. Buffy jabbed him sharply in the ribs. Spike grinned and nabbed a kiss on the
elbow as it returned to its proper place. Buffy hid her pleased smile and started gathering the breakfast things. Willow and
Wesley rose to help her and they quickly cleaned up the kitchen.
When they left that evening it was with the usual pre-apocalypse jitters. This was definitely up there on the apocalypse list; however, and Buffy shivered uncontrollably, feeling for Spike at her side. Spike never left her side, swaggering slightly more than normal as if to celebrate the fact.
Willow found herself going over and over the spell in her mind, lest she do something wrong, yet knowing at the same time
that she was the only one who could do the spell. With Giles and Wesley supporting her, Illyria was going down.
Willow did a locater spell, using the leftover essence Illyria had left in the apartment. It was very difficult to trace
and for a second, Willow was worried that Illyria wasn’t even in the same dimension.
“She’s not far,” Willow was finally able to say. A cool hand handed her a handkerchief and she gladly thanked Oz as she
wiped the sweat off her brow.
“Let’s go.” Buffy led the way. “Please remember everyone that Spike and I will be fighting Illyria. Wesley, you are
guarding Willow and Giles as they do the spell and Oz is to fight off everyone else.”
“Sounds fun,” he replied, tucking his stake in his pocket and hefting an axe.
“Here,” Willow said and handed him back the handkerchief.
“Thanks,” he said and stuffed it in his pocket as well. She blushed as he held it to his nose before doing so, like he
was inhaling her scent.
“Good luck,” she said quietly.
“And you,” he said, just as quiet.
Illyria was located in a palatial suite on top of an old hotel. At least, that’s what it looked like, but Spike and Wesley soon recognized the interior of a Wolfram & Hart corporate office when they reached the inside.
“Black mojo all right,” Spike whistled. “Creepy how they all look alike.”
“Unsettling indeed,” Wesley agreed.
“Illyria’s in the next room,” Willow whispered. “Be very quiet, but I am sure she knows we’re here.”
Willow had control over her magic and she used it to veil their approach even as she did the mental preparation and set up
for the main spell she would be doing that evening.
“Underlings at the entrance,” came a voice from up ahead of them and then vampires and demons, lawyers and a few bankers
poured out of the doors toward them.
Spike and Buffy met them with glee and were soon cutting a pathway through the melee for the others. Their job was to
reach Illyria soon before she unleashed more than they could handle.
At the doorway, they could see her standing in the middle of the room, just looking at them.
Vampires exploded into dust, demon’s heads fell to the floor. Willow’s power grew with each step.
“A binding!” she yelled as they got within fifty feet of Illyria. A band of white light encircled Illyria and she did not move outside of its circle.
“That will hold her from what’s outside it,” Willow called to Buffy and Spike. “You have to go in to fight her.”
“We’re on it, Will,” Buffy assured her and tossed a demon onto the point of Spike’s sword which he held out casually for her with one hand while staking a vampire sneaking up on him with the other. They moved steadily toward the god king, slaughtering as they went.
Wesley emptied his guns into the onslaught. Many vampires were beheaded via shotgun that day. Oz wielded a crossbow,
stake and axe and where he’d learned to use three weapons at once, Willow did not know, but he was proficient enough that she
could concentrate on the spell and the spell only.
Giles stood beside her holding the book and offering her energy, strength and experience. She drew on it heavily because
the power she now targeted in Illyria was wilder and more uncontrollable than she’d thought.
Giles spoke words in the demon tongue that Willow didn’t understand. She slowly began to chant under her tongue and wind
her words around his, fashioning them into a tube in her mind. Her eyes were fixed on Illyria and two blonde blurs leapt into her
vision. Buffy and Spike had reached the enemy.
Illyria watched them impassively.
“Jump into a portal out of this one, Queenie,” Buffy told her and launched an attack. Illyria effectively blocked each
move Buffy and Spike made.
“The binding does not permit that I should use my time or space power. But do not worry that I shall be defeated, that is
not my purpose.”
“I don’t care what your bloody purpose is!” Spike yelled as he ducked under her arm and aimed at her head with his sword.
“You will,” was all the comment that came back when she bent over backwards, parallel to the floor, to avoid the swing and
stuck out her leg to kick Spike back thirty feet in the process. Buffy pressed in the attack. Illyria’s mind seemed to be in two
places at once as she listened to Willow and fought Buffy at the same time. Spike leapt to his feet and started to run back to
Willow finished molding her mind tube, using the power of her own magic along with Giles’ specific words, and prodded the
tube mentally to the big gaping hole in Illyria’s side she could see with her magically enhanced vision. The tube entered the
hole and Illyria stumbled while Buffy spin kicked her in the head. Willow began a sucking motion and power began to flood the
tube that stretched from Illyria’s body to Willow on the other side of the room, unbroken by the fighting occurring along the way.
Illyria straightened up as Willow sucked the power right out of her. Willow sensed Illyria’s recognition of too much
power leaving her and felt her make a sharp pull with her mind. Willow saw her connection snap, even though the power she’d
drained remained in her tube, then began to dissipate in the air without a physical vessel to contain it. The broken connection
made her drop to her knees in shock and she couldn’t move as she watched Illyria.
Spike was ten feet away from the still battling Illyria and Buffy, but Illyria had obviously had enough. Moving with such
speed Buffy could hardly see what she was doing, Illyria grabbed Buffy’s sword hand and squeezed the hand until it dropped the
sword reflexively. It fell onto Illyria’s foot which she kicked up into her other hand. Releasing Buffy’s hand, Illyria grabbed
her throat and squeezed again, while the sword hand brought the sword, point first, deep in and out the back of the Slayer. Buffy
jerked and her eyes rolled back as blood trickled out of her mouth. Illyria twisted the sword and then left it as she turned and
walked away. Buffy fell into Spike’s arms who had just come rushing up behind her.
“Come!” Illyria’s voice rolled over the tumult in the room. “We are finished.” Each vampire and demon and lawyer and
banker stopped what they were doing and exited in the fastest way available to them. Wesley and Oz were fighting stragglers and
didn’t see what had happened. Willow could vaguely feel Giles trying to help her up, but she just sat there, silently screaming
and his attempts stopepd when he saw what she saw.
Spike gazed for two seconds into Buffy’s blood streaked face before a red fury rose over his eyes and he got up looking for Illyria. But she had gone, using neither portal nor time powers, only her supernatural speed. For a minute he was going to follow, but his heart would not let him leave and he dropped again to Buffy as quickly as he’d risen from her.
“Love,” he whispered gently, “love, where is your heaven?”
Buffy struggled to open her eyes, but her lips moved almost soundlessly.
“With you, stupid.”
“Then don’t leave,” he said, voice breaking. “Don’t go where they won’t let me find you.”
“You’ve, you’ve proven yourself,” Buffy coughed out.
Wesley and Oz noticed the pair of them on the floor and gathered with Willow and Giles in shock.
“They need you,” Spike said adamantly. “I bloody need you.”
“They’ve got you,” she said. “That’s what I can leave them, a-and Dawnie. Y-you have...” Her breath grew so faint he
would have sworn it wasn’t there. “...my, my love.”
“Need more than your love, yeah,” he said, desperately to keep her talking. “Need your body, need your voice, your
insults, your touch, you.” Buffy chuckled raggedly, her eyes closed and her body limp.
“You’re, you’re such a…p-pig, Spi…” And her words died away as her body did. Willow sank to the floor again and Giles
shook his head violently. Oz’s and Wesley’s faces were stone, but Spike’s composure broke as he cradled her in his arms and
howled his heart cry of rage and brokenness to the silent room.
Oz wasn’t quite sure how they made it back to Buffy’s apartment. What he did know was that Willow didn’t stop crying and Giles wore a look of shock and guilt. But Spike…well, Spike hadn’t said a word to anyone and wouldn’t let anyone else touch Buffy’s body that he’d placed on her bed and then he'd slammed the door behind him and not left her room.
Giles had sunk down to the table and buried his head in his hands for a couple of hours, but then he straightened up and
unpacked his books with an almost fanatical need to know.
Oz had received a crossbow bolt in his leg and he let Wesley attend to it while Willow sat staring at the bedroom where
Spike and Buffy lay, silent tears streaming down her face. There was a look in her eyes that Oz didn’t like, although he wasn’t
sure what he could do about it.
That was the scene that Angel returned upon.
Angel was alone. He’d left Connor up north just in case he was still in danger, though Angel was pretty certain that it was Buffy and the rest who were in the most danger. Lilah had used Connor to draw Angel away from Buffy, he was sure of it. He hurried up the stairs, hoping he could still help. But he could smell the death on the air.
Wesley opened the door to Angel’s insistent knocking. One look at Wesley’s tired face and Angel knew who was gone. A
heavy weight of guilt settled on his shoulders and he sank down to the kitchen table. But not for long, because Spike sensed his
presence and came striding out of the bedroom door with blood, her blood, everywhere, and the hardest expression Angel had ever
seen in his grandson’s eyes.
“There aren’t enough words that I can call you, you sodding wanker!” Spike spit out. “Why did you leave? Do you get
kicks out of it, leaving those who need you most?”
Angel stood up. His own anger burned against himself and wanted to lash out at the fury it saw in Spike.
“It wasn’t fun. It’s never fun coming back and seeing the devastation. I had to go, Spike. Buffy understood that.”
“Don’t you say her name!” Spike said warningly, ice in every syllable.
“I wasn’t there, Spike, but you were,” Angel continued, egged on by Spike’s anger. “Why didn’t you stop it? Aren’t you
her champion, her hero? Why is it my responsibility all of a sudden to take care of your Slayer? Why didn’t you save her?”
Spike stood straight, but the words obviously lashed across him like a whip.
“Stop it!” Willow screamed at them, the tears still flowing. “How can you when she’s in there! The blame, there’s plenty
of blame-“ She turned away and Oz opened his arms to her. She hesitated a moment, but then went to them. He looked back at the vampires.
“She’s right. Buffy died for us. It was her decision and whether or not anyone could’ve stopped it isn’t the issue. Let’s bury her in peace.”
“Then kill that thing,” Willow said determinedly against his chest. Oz’s expression tightened, but he said nothing.
Giles still hadn’t looked up from his books and Wesley went back to finishing the dressing on Oz’s leg.
Spike’s eyes glittered for a moment, but he backed away and spoke without looking at Angel.
“She always wanted you here. But I want you bloody gone. Go take care of your precious Connor.” Angel felt it was wrong
to take orders from Spike, but he couldn’t have remained anyway.
“I want to see her,” he said quietly.
Spike growled at him.
“You’d need more than what you’ve got to get through to her.”
“Spike!” Wesley’s voice rang through the room. “Let him go. He loved her too.” Spike looked like he wanted to hit
Wesley. But he stood aside and let Angel walk into the room.
“You’ve got five minutes,” he told him.
Angel didn’t take five minutes. He couldn’t even look at her. Spike had cleaned the blood away and pulled a sheet up to
her chest, but Buffy’s form was too still to be alive.
“I’m sorry, Buffy,” Angel said. “I should’ve been here, but I guess all I’m good for is leaving you.”
He wished she’d open her eyes and call him a name or make a lame pun, but she did neither and Angel walked out of the room.
He walked straight to the door and would’ve just left, but Wesley stood up and gave him a gripping hug.
“You will be needed, Angel,” he said softly.
Angel nodded silently.
“You can always call me if you need me,” he said, handing Wesley a scrap of paper with his number on it and left to go
back to Connor and try and keep him safe.
The next few days were hell for all of them. Wesley thought that they would all fall apart. Spike didn’t leave Buffy’s side and Wesley went to him and asked him if he could arrange for a funeral. Spike agreed with a curt nod and then continued to ignore the world.
It was very odd to be arranging for Buffy’s final send off. Wesley never thought he’d be in the position, but none of the
others were in the right mindset to even think about it.
For some slightly irrational reason, Wesley felt completely responsible for Buffy’s death. He’d involved her by Spike’s
and Angel’s desperate attempts to keep him safe. Now she was dead and it looked like the world was going to die along with her,
because this ragged band of emotionally numb vagabonds was going to have no effect on Illyria, lesser though her powers may be.
Wesley finished the funeral arrangements and then changed the dressing on Oz’s leg. Once that task was done, he girded up
to face an even more daunting one. That of confronting Spike with the details. But upon opening the bedroom door, Wesley found
Spike loading up on weapons.
“Spike, don’t!” he said sharply. “Getting yourself killed will not bring her back.”
Spike growled fiercely and slammed Wesley against the wall.
“Not the point, yeah? She’s got to pay.”
“She can’t ever pay. There’s nothing that could be done that would make this better. Nothing, Spike.” Wesley’s voice
carried conviction, but Spike only let go of him and continued packing his sharp, pointy objects. “Do you think killing Knox did
a thing to make me feel better?” Wesley demanded of Spike. “No, it made me feel worse, because then there truly was nothing I
could do. Nothing else to avenge, nothing but the dreadful feeling that I’d done this to her and couldn’t ever face it.” Tears
started to fall down his cheeks, but he didn’t care. “So I fell into myself and became nothing. And now because of that another
girl is dead. There is nothing to be gained or lost or proved by going after her, Spike. Buffy will still be dead. Just like
Wesley turned away, overcome, and Spike’s mental resolution was breached. He stood, watching Wesley break down, and even through his own tears, Wesley could see fury boiling within Spike, while Buffy’s body lay lifeless beside them. The fury came to a point and Spike grabbed the dresser and flung it at the wall, screaming as he did so. Wesley did nothing.
“I should’ve come sooner!” Spike yelled. “Why didn’t I bloody come sooner? I was a coward! I was no better than the
useless, yet grandly heroic Angel. I made the decision.” He sank down onto the bed and took Buffy’s cold hand in his. “And I
made the wrong one.”
Wesley stood watching silently, his tears still flowing, but now under control.
“I’m sorry, love,” Spike whispered. “I can only save you in my dreams.”
“She died in your arms,” Wesley whispered softly, speaking to himself as much as Spike. “What could be better than that?”
Spike looked up, the anger still smoldering, but grief hovered there as well.
“You felt this, Wes, I know you felt this. But this is the second time I’ve watched Buffy die because of my sodding
incompetence. She should never have had to die. This was our battle. Angel should’ve listened to me and Giles should’ve never
let this happen.”
And so saying, Spike rose with purpose and strode into the other room. Wesley followed apprehensively.
Giles was sitting encased in his books and barely noticed Spike until an arm clenched him around the throat and thrust him against the wall.
“So, Watcher, books are more important than her! Your high and mighty judgments, your moral code. But you could’ve
stopped this from the beginning and you bloody didn’t. Tell me, was it fun sending us in there with your grand little spells that
don’t actually work and letting her die!”
Giles couldn’t talk with Spike’s hand cutting off his air. His eyes were hard and he didn’t struggle. Wesley ran forward and tried to pry Spike away, but it took Oz coming forward and helping before it was accomplished.
Giles sank to the floor and looked up at them all with haunted eyes.
“I realize my faults. I know my blame, Spike. I have been trying to figure out where I went wrong with our spell. You
should let me continue.”
“That way you can blame it all on something else, yeah,” Spike said scathingly and walked back in to be with Buffy.
Giles’ eyes shone bright with tears but they did not fall. His face was hard with regret and guilt, but he bent over his books
again and didn't look back up. Wesley looked helplessly at Oz. What chance, indeed, did they have against Illyria now?
Willow had been huddled in a corner for a day now. Oz really didn’t think it was right for him to be the one to talk to her, but he felt like someone should. So he simply sat down beside her and didn’t say anything. But she started to talk, almost like she couldn't stop herself.
“I could’ve done something, you know? I didn’t nearly destroy the world for nothing. There’s power in this girl, power
that saved Buffy’s life once before. I’m pretty much unstoppable. I could’ve whizzed that sword away or maybe made the binding
harder. Or stopped the spell I was doing and did one that saved her.” Oz still didn’t say anything. “Just panic!” she screeched
at him after a moment.
She turned to look at him and saw that his eyes were full of tears. She didn’t scream anymore but a few minutes later her
eyebrows rose in shock as she realized something.
“Oh, Dawn, oh. Who’s going to tell Dawn? How will we tell Dawn? Xander, where is he? We have to find him, he has to
know! He’d want to know. Maybe her dad should know. She can’t be buried by her mom this time. No more resurrection spells.”
Willow buried her head in her hands. They sat that way for a few hours at least. Oz, a silent presence by her side.
“When the funeral is over,” Willow said slowly, her voice suddenly calculating, “I will study. I am going to make her
suffer and she will know my wrath. Because I have wrath.”
Oz’s heart leapt within him in alarm, but he suppressed the urge to say anything. Now was not the time, but he was very
The day before the funeral Giles found or deduced the answers he was looking for. He sat at the table with bloodshot eyes and glasses in hand.
“She knew,” was all he could say at first. “Illyria has had that spell used against her before and she was willing to
sacrifice her powers of time manipulation and dimension traveling if it meant that she killed our chief fighter and drew off
“She played us, good and simple,” Spike said dully. His fury had ebbed, leaving him numb with grief. He didn’t say much
anymore. Giles almost would rather Spike try to kill him again.
“Yes, she did,” Giles said gently. “I fear she knows more about ourselves than we think. She has every advantage. We
shall have to be more cautious in the future and not do what she expects us to.”
“I expect to get my revenge,” Willow said softly. “She won’t know what hit her when I am there, I promise you.” Willow’s
eyes were hard now. Giles’ head shot to her quickly.
“She has already stood against you and withstood your power, Willow,” he said sharply. “Now would not be a good time for
a repeat when we need you. Remember what you learned at the coven!”
Willow laughed quietly.
“The coven was weak. I’ve grown since then. Didn’t I change the world? But don’t worry, Giles, didn’t you notice I
didn’t go on any rampages this time? I know when to be cautious.”
Giles was not satisfied, but he was too ashamed of his own actions to reply any further.
“What now?” Oz asked.
“We let her rest in peace,” Spike answered, his eyes burning.
They buried Buffy at night. That was when she really lived anyway. Then she was a glowing, vibrant force; the sunlight she saw during the day, captured by her hair, shining, as she fought her foes.
The coven Dawn was linked to could not reach her, but they promised that Dawn was doing fine. Willow was still searching
the world for Xander, but thus far, had been unlucky. So the burial took place without three of the people that Buffy loved
There was a cemetery high above the city of Rome. It was not the famed Vatican Hill, but beautiful and sacred
nonetheless. Willow said that Buffy loved to go there even though there weren’t a lot of vampires because people really weren’t
buried there anymore. But Buffy was.
They also didn’t have a priest. What was the point anyway? Giles spoke a few words before letting Spike say his
goodbyes. He stood looking at the grave where she lay beneath the earth. Each of them held candles and they flickered over the
gravestones. It was a fitting tribute for she who hangs out in cemeteries. Or rather, hung out in cemeteries.
“You were heaven to me,” Spike said softly. This really wasn’t for the others to hear. “I was lost and because of you I
changed. Wasn’t supposed to be, but you never obey the rules, love. Guess we’re similar that way. I can’t say I’m sorry it
happened, but I wish the end didn’t have to be so soon.” He cleared his throat as the tears rose up and knelt to be closer to
her. “All my love goes with you to the grave and beyond. I can’t do anything else, because you claimed me from the moment I saw
you. I love you, Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer.”
He rose and took some petals from the bowl that Willow held and sprinkled them on the grave. They each copied him in
Willow leaned her head on Giles’ shoulder and he put his arm around her. Her other hand reached out and grabbed Oz’s. He
looked down at their linked hands and looked surprised, yet hopeful.
“Bye, Buffy,” Willow sobbed out. “I promise I won’t resurrect you this time. I know you’ll be happy and I swear to you
that I won’t rest until Illyria is gone from this earth. I love you.”
“Buffy, I’m sorry I couldn’t prevent this,” Giles said haltingly, grief formalizing his words. “But whatever happens next
I am more honored than I can tell by your continued faith in me. I am immensely proud of you, more so than I would ever have
imagined. You have my pride and my love.”
“Thank you, Buffy, for your strength and loyalty,” Wesley said. “I am glad we had a chance to make amends for our past. You were the Slayer and Slayers everywhere should be proud to be a part of that heritage that you’ve honored so.”
“You took care of us,” Oz said quietly. “There was much more underneath your surface than was ever showed. You loved where there was no love. You’ll never be forgotten.”
“I’ll take care of the Nibblet,” Spike promised, “till the end of the world. She loves you too.”
“And Xander loves you,” Willow said softly.
“And Angel loves you,” Wesley said even more quietly.
The others walked away then, seeking comfort in each other, but Spike stayed all night. Sometimes he talked to her,
sometimes he said nothing, but he stayed until the sun made him go. He placed a single kiss on the headstone and left.
The rising sun flickered over the white marble that read.
“Buffy Anne Summers. She did the impossible.”
After a month Willow finally stopped trying to find Xander, but she never stopped her relentless crusade to take down Illyria. Oz and Giles kept a close watch on her, but she was careful to avoid them as much as possible. Oz’s inner thoughts raged from a desire to ignore the entire thing and an overwhelming fear that Willow was going to get hurt. He found her by herself one day surfing the net and chanting as she learned spells from witches around the world. What alarmed him was that the tips of her hair kept turning black.
“Will, did you notice your hair?” he asked calmly.
She barely glanced up.
“I can handle it.”
“Doesn’t the black mean darkness?” Calm still reigned over his tone.
“And doesn’t the red coming back mean I’m cleansing it?” she returned sharply. “Stop being such a nanny goat. Or maybe
you want evil Willow to sacrifice you,” she ended nastily.
“Stop playing games,” he said. “This has nothing to do with you being a witch. It’s about what kind of magic you’re
“Since when do you know anything about magic?” she retorted in disgust, finally looking up. “You always tried to hold me
back. You’re afraid of power and that’s what I am, so just go away and find yourself another lady wolf or something.”
A series of images flashed through Oz’s mind. Veruca slinking along the bars of his cage. Willow’s shocked face. The
bars of the Initiative accompanied by blue shocks of pain. Tara’s frightened eyes running from him. Circles of incense rising
above the snow. Men in orange robes burning spells. The laughing face of a girl. A claw shorn off. The sight of blood and
herbs simmering together.
His jaw muscle spasmed and Oz took a step closer to Willow and spoke very deliberately.
“You have no idea what I have done or what I know. I grew up, little girl. You are playing with fire and you will get
burned because you are not God or anything resembling one. Don’t let your pride get in the way of what she died for.” And Oz turned and walked away.
Willow stared after Oz for a brief moment, feeling guilty and yet feeling stupid for feeling guilty when after all, he was just being emotional. When had Oz become too emotional? Well, she didn’t know him anymore and it didn’t matter because she was doing something for Buffy and he just couldn’t see it. Willow turned back to her computer and began to chant again as the dark in her eyes began to expand.
Giles looked up from his research as Wesley came in through the door, breathing heavily.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Wesley said as he sat down. “I’m still not up to my usual state of health, but I can definitely say that
this is the first time that I only became winded on the fourth flight instead of the first.”
Giles smiled briefly before returning to his books.
“No word from Angel?” Wesley interrupted.
“No, I’m afraid not.” Giles took off his glasses and wiped them slowly before speaking again. “Were you expecting to
hear from him?”
“No, but I’d rather hoped I would. I know my place is here, but for a long time it was beside him and I wish the two
could be reconciled.”
“Unfortunately, reconciliation is not always possible,” Giles said heavily.
“Especially where that git is concerned,” Spike said harshly as he came in the door. He was covered in something
questionable, but he headed straight for the kitchen where he heated up some blood with quite more force than was necessary.
Giles and Wesley exchanged a quick glance. They knew better than to argue. Spike was beyond arguing with these days and
mostly, when he wasn’t spouting cutting, negative remarks, he was ignoring everyone.
Oz came in from the bedroom.
“Good patrol?” he asked Spike, eying the slime or guts or something that covered his frame.
“Keen,” Spike answered shortly.
“I wanted to know if you would-“ Oz began, but Spike cut him short.
“Gotta clean up. I think you should go check on the witch, make sure she hasn’t destroyed the world yet.”
“What’s left to destroy?” Oz asked Spike’s departing back.
“What indeed?” Wesley whispered.
Later that day, Wesley was sorting through his belongings in order to see if there was anything that could be of use to his and Giles’ research. He didn’t really think there would be seeing as how he didn’t have much in the way of possessions and what was before him was less than what he owned. Spike and Angel hadn't had much time to gether personal belongings when they'd fled the country. There were some books he treasured; however, and some that had come with him from England. Taking those he thought would be useful, he carried them to the table and put them in the research pile.
“Having any luck?” he asked without hope.
“No,” Giles confirmed his beliefs. “But I’m sure your help will speed things along. We need to look for things that
Illyria won’t expect from us and that haven’t been used against her before. She can’t be caught the same way twice.”
“I’ll get on it,” Wesley said, taking a pile of books with him over to the window seat.
This particular batch Giles had managed to scrounge together from the remains of the Council library. Picking one at
random, Wesley settled in to research.
But the book that he held was not from the library, or at least, should not be. This was a journal, a Watcher’s journal
to be sure, but one who had never had a Slayer. This was his father’s journal. Wesley opened his mouth to ask Giles what he was
doing with it, but he closed it again just as quickly.
Shaking slightly, Wesley opened the book and read. He read for hours. His father’s words enlightened and sickened him at
the same time. All the old insecurities, the unhealed wounds, the heartless words, the shameful glances, the excuses, the rage,
came flooding back to Wesley. He was on the verge of standing up and throwing the book into the fire when he came to an entry
that had marked the changing point in his life.
‘I cannot express fully the shame I feel at the decision made in Council a week ago. I do not claim to have full
influence at the Council, but I thought I had more than some unknown, hooded stranger who has bespelled the wits of our organization. There was a decision to be made, that of the replacement of Rupert Giles who has ineptly exercised his duties as Watcher to our active Slayers and has, therefore, been terminated. In the general vote, it was unanimously decided to appoint Alfred Winder, the son of my friend Charles Winder. His results at school and field experience clearly indicate him as the right candidate for the job.
To my everlasting horror; however, another candidate was put forward by someone unknown to me. That candidate being my own son, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Wesley’s ineptitude marks him as an embarrassment to the entire Council of Watchers. My argument against this mistake was forceful and almost carried the day. But to everyone’s eventual detriment, this stranger, using methods that I could not detect, somehow rallied all to his side and the vote swayed toward Wesley.
I would be most gratified to learn from whence he gets his influence. It would be an excellent bonus to have on my side should I ever need it. But all I can express at this point is my utter shame that my son, who has always failed to prove himself in every area, will now be the Watcher to our Slayers. Whatever this may mean for us all, I do not know. I wish it were a cruel prank on our part, rather than a decision made in seeming rationality, at the urging of someone whom I could never find out his name. I can say with relief that the entire Council does seem to have come to its senses and regrets this decision as I do. But at this point it is too late until Wesley fails, which I have no doubt he will. I watch the coming months with dread.’
Wesley’s body shook with rage, shame and curiosity. So this was how it came to be. He was not sorry it had happened, no, he’d only started living once he’d reached Sunnydale. But for his father to - how could he? Wesley had often wondered how he’d gotten the Watcher position. He couldn’t imagine why, with his father putting him under at every turn. To think, he owed his whole life, its joys and its current agonies that would never cease, to someone nobody knew. The irony almost overwhelmed him and he wanted to laugh, but instead he stood up and threw his father’s journal in the fire. It was nothing but ashes anyway.
Willow could hear the mumbling of voices in the other room, but she continued to turn the pages of the books she’d taken from Giles’ piles. She eagerly looked for the right way to kill Illyria. Her power was set and her magic more than she could hold. All she needed was a means and then Buffy would be avenged and it wouldn’t matter what Oz or Giles or anyone thought and Willow would be free of this dreadful feeling of guilt and need that was driving her will at the moment.
She might not ever be the same, but she’d come back once, she could do it again. She knew what she was doing.
The last page, she sighed. But there were words that caught her eyes and suddenly she smiled. It was not a nice smile.
It was a cold morning. The rising light was filtered through the trees that danced with a chill breeze. Willow shivered as she picked her way across the cemetery. The hike and the cold were worth it, she just wished she could have spared some of her power to do a quick warming spell. But she knew she needed to save her strength for the ordeal to come.
At last she came to the grave she was searching for. It was freshly dug and Willow knelt down in front of it and felt new
tears fill her eyes.
“Hey there,” she said, going for perky. Her smile faltered a little bit, but the energy that swam beneath her skin
bolstered her up and she forged ahead with her reason for being there.
“I’m going to do it, Buff. I’m going to kill her. Then you can rest in peace. It’s worth it this time and I won’t be
ending the world. I’ll be saving it.”
“You’ve got quite a mixture of insecurity and superiority in you,” Oz told her from behind. She whirled around, her eyes
“What are you doing here?”
“Is this your private pity party spot?” he inquired lightly.
“Don’t try to screw around with me,” she snapped. “You never take anything seriously.”
“I take you very seriously,” he replied. “So seriously that I’m here instead of somewhere else.”
“So you hiked a bit,” she scoffed. “Doesn’t mean anything.”
“Means a lot to me,” he said quietly. “I told you the truth when I said I’d never loved anyone else, Will. I still mean
that. I respect you enough to let you make your own decisions. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the truth.”
“Truth?” Her voice was incredibly sarcastic. “There’s truth now, huh?”
“The truth that you aren’t capable of doing what you’re about to attempt.” Oz’s tone was hinging on desperate. “Don’t
try it. Illyria will see it coming and even if you did succeed, would she want you to pay with your soul?” He gestured toward
the grave behind Willow.
“Don’t bring her into it.” Willow narrowed her eyes. “She’s why it has to happen.”
“When something happens to someone you love, you turn to magic,” he observed. “That’s not the answer.”
“And what is the answer, Mr. Held Back a Year?” she asked.
“We’re looking for the answer, but we need your help.”
“I am helping.”
“This isn’t the way, Willow.”
“You don’t know anything about it.”
“I know that Illyria is calling me to come to her and I am fighting with every inch of will power that I have. It doesn’t
take much for me to come to the conclusion she’s doing the same thing to you, but that you don’t realize that’s where your desires
are coming from. She’s pulling on all your worst parts, Will, the ones that the black magic stained.”
“You weren’t there,” she hissed at him. “You left and you don’t know what happened to me, no matter how much spying
you’ve done since then.”
“I can only see what I see,” he said. “But Giles filled me in on the rest.”
“The old goat,” Willow said, half affectionately. “He’s always been afraid of my power. Can’t bring him into the
present. But it’s not my problem.”
“Will you just talk to him?” Oz took a few steps closer to her.
Willow didn’t move.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she said sullenly. “He’s given me the no magic lecture a million times since-“ and she
waved her hand vaguely in the direction of Buffy’s grave.
“He’s concerned about you,” Oz said, moving until he stood right in front of her with his hand held out. “Come and talk
“Are you concerned about me?” she asked quietly.
“Always,” he said. Willow sighed and looked into his eyes. They stared at each other for a few moments then she quickly
pressed her lips to his cheek and stood back.
“Then I’m sorry,” she said, “but I’ve grown too big for you.”
Willow gathered her power around her, said a silent farewell to Buffy and disappeared. She had a god king to kill.
His cheek burned where she’d kissed him and it continued to burn long after that moment. He rejoiced and despaired at the touch for he sensed the evil in her and longed for the woman he loved.
Oz stood there for a few minutes, alone by Buffy’s grave, wondering if he could have said or done something different.
Probably yes, but now was not the time to wonder. Spike and the others needed to know what had just happened so Oz hurried back
to the apartment.
Bursting through the door he found Wesley and Giles reading at the table while Spike sat moodily fingering weapons.
“Oz?” Giles stood up quickly. “What happened?”
“It’s Willow.” Oz hated to have to say it. “She’s going after Illyria; she’s ripe with black magic. I can smell it.”
“What?” Spike jumped up, his expression much more alert than it had been for a long time.
“She went for Illyria on her own,” Oz explained. “But she’s just damning herself. I tried, but we have to stop her.”
“No kidding!” Spike said, an actual emotion rising in his eyes. Wesley and Giles were already gathering their things.
“How do we know where to find them?” Oz asked.
“We’ll do a locator spell for Willow,” Wesley said. “We have enough of her things here and if she has that much black
magic in her right now, she’ll probably be relatively easy to trace.” He moved even as he spoke, bringing a few sheets of notes
as well as his guns. He was standing, waiting at the door for them.
Spike had grabbed an axe and Giles a sword. Oz picked up a crossbow and they set out.
Downstairs Wesley did the locator spell and led the way into the east part of the city towards Flaminio.
“Why does Illyria stay here when she’s got control of all the evil in the world?” Oz asked as they moved.
“To taunt us,” Spike replied promptly. “What better use of evil than to flaunt it in the face of those whose job it is to
“I fear Spike’s right,” Giles agreed. “Illyria seems to enjoy destroying what is good and she feeds on evil.” He stopped
walking for a moment, horror spreading over his face.
“What the bloody hell is it?” Spike asked, seeing the look. Giles spoke slowly, as if still measuring things out in his
“Feeds on evil. That’s it. She wants Willow to come, that’s partially why she killed Buffy. She wants Willow to
challenge her so that Willow’s power can be added to her own.” Giles broke into a run. “We’ve got to stop her from using her
The others ran too, caught up in the urgency of the situation. They ran, following Wesley’s shouted directions. It led
them to a small flower shop on the opposite side of town from where Buffy had fallen. Bursting in the front door, they found
nothing but flowers of all colors and kinds and the fragrance burst upon Spike’s and Oz’s sensitive noses. That made it hard for
them to distinguish between smells, but they both picked up on the huge aura of black magic in the back room. Wesley and Giles
felt it with their magical senses and the four of them crept toward the back. Voices became louder as they got closer.
“-to die!” Willow’s voice was void of emotion.
Turning the corner, the four men saw Illyria standing with that unnatural grace in the center of the room. Willow stood
in front of her, hair crackling with the power that she’d gathered to herself.
Oz realized with a sudden start that Willow was indeed too big for him. The power that lay within her was bigger than any
single force for good on the planet he’d ever encountered or heard of.
“I relish your attempt,” Illyria answered Willow. “But you are too forward in my presence.”
“Your presence won’t be here long enough for it to matter,” Willow said and she closed her eyes. Power swelled so
forcefully that everyone could feel it. A stream of black lightening shot from Willow and struck Illyria, hooking into her body
and prying open holds for the continued power to hammer in the pain.
“You see,” Willow said triumphantly, “I know your secret. I found the spell that could kill you. It’s what killed you
“Then that’s what Illyria was counting on,” Giles said slowly. Wesley nodded, obviously beginning to grasp the cunning of
the demon that inhabited the shell of Fred.
Illyria’s form buckled to the ground as Willow shouted words of force to keep the spell running. Pretty soon, the black
lightening had changed color to white and then to pink and then...Illyria rose to her feet. Willow didn’t stop her spell, but it
no longer seemed to be working.
“We’ve got to stop her,” Spike said, “or we lose her.”
“If we step in the way of that,” Giles said. “We’ll be blasted into oblivion.”
“Then what do we do?” Spike asked in agitation. “It’s gotta be something.”
“Talk to her,” Giles told Oz. “Maybe she’ll listen to you.”
“She’s done listening to me,” Oz said sadly, but he tried anyway.
“Will!” he said, just loud enough for her to hear.
“I said my goodbyes, Oz,” she told him without breaking a sweat. “I’m glad you can enjoy the show, but let me finish.”
“You have to stop,” he told her in desperation. “Illyria knows what you’re doing.”
“I know all,” Illyria said, and spoke a word none of them understood while touching one hand to the pink strain of
lightening that connected her to Willow. It turned bright blue and this time it was Willow who fell to the floor.
“Disconnect it!” Oz screamed. “Willow, please!”
Illyria started to laugh. Willow’s face grew dark as well as her hair and her eyes. Veins rose out of her skin, marring
its fair appearance. Her voice grew deeper and she screamed some words at Illyria. The lightening almost changed color, but
Illyria continued to laugh, and it stayed blue. Willow’s body started to rise off the floor and it began to move towards
Illyria. Little sparks of power fluttered all along her body. Oz moved to run forward.
Giles stopped Oz before he could touch her.
“That amount of power would kill you,” he told Oz with grief in his voice. “Willow has made her choice.”
Oz’s eyes turned to stone as he watched Willow, her eyes full of hate and black, as she was dragged toward the god king.
He tried to reach out, find some semblance of his Willow in there. He touched her mind and found a cacophony of evil voices
clamoring for attention and shouting to gain control over the others.
“Where are you?” he shouted into her mind. Willow’s own evil laugh was all that answered him.
The stream of lightening started to slow and then grow smaller. Soon, it was gone and Willow lay limp at Illyria’s feet.
Giles started to back up slowly, Wesley and Spike did the same, dragging Oz with them.
“Vassal.” Illyria’s voice echoed through the room. They watched in astonishment as Willow’s body got to her knees and
bowed before Illyria.
“Yes, Mistress?” her voice asked, hatred and revulsion pouring out with every syllable.
Illyria reached down and grabbed Willow by the throat, lifting her in the air. Willow shrieked with pain, but did nothing
“My insolent new slave,” Illyria purred. “We are pleased to restore to you your power knowing you will use it to our service.”
“Run!” Giles said quickly. They did so, hearing Willow’s voice behind them.
“I can do nothing else but serve you.”
“That couldn’t be her,” Oz said blankly as he sat at the table in the apartment. His mind was clearly unfocused because, for all that Wesley knew Oz had foreseen this tragedy, it did nothing for the man's mental state.
Wesley was sitting with him. He didn’t really feel the need to do anything but sit there. He wanted to be there for Oz
as he felt Oz had been there for him. But he didn’t have anything profound to say, and despite the fact that they weren’t exactly
best friends, his own grief over Willow was pressing upon him.
“She wasn’t even mine,” Oz spoke again. “That decision was made a long time ago. But…but she belonged to me before
“Willow belonged to herself,” Spike spoke suddenly from behind them before getting up abruptly and leaving the apartment.
Wesley and Oz watched him go without saying anything. Spike was like that now.
“I believe I’ll go and get a much needed nap,” Giles said as he got up. “No worries for I’ll be back at those books
within the hour.”
“The books don’t really help much, but okay,” Oz said.
“What can I do?” Wesley had to ask after the silence became unbearable.
Oz didn’t say anything for awhile, but then replied,
“Would it hurt too much to tell me about Fred?”
Wesley wondered if it would too.
“Thank you,” he said after some reflective thought of his own. “I would like someone else to remember her as I did.”
He proceeded to relate to Oz the beauty and joy that came over his skin whenever Fred came into the room. He couldn’t do
justice to the quirks of her personality, the bravery of their fights, the genius of her experiments or the randomness of her
thought process, but he could tell what she had done for him and the way she made him feel. He felt like there were things he
should be able to tell, but couldn’t remember for some reason, but there was plenty of other things to talk about.
He spent a few hours doing so and when he finally stopped talking, Oz’s eyes had lost their glazed look and Wesley himself
felt like a burden had lifted from him.
“Thanks,” Oz said simply, “that helped.”
“So will time,” Wesley assured him.
“And friends,” Spike said as he came back into the apartment. “Listen, I’m sorry I’ve been a right wanker this past
while. Gotta be obvious the reason why, but now that we’ve all lost the girl, I think we should band together before we’re truly
“That was quite beautiful,” Wesley said smiling slightly. Spike rolled his eyes, not with his usual abandon, but there
was amusement there. Oz nodded in acknowledgement of Spike’s offer.
“Let’s try to get on with it,” he said.
Spike moved to the table to join the other two and they began to research. Again.
Giles gazed at his watch before sitting up. He couldn’t stand it any longer. Regardless of what Buffy had thought, things were now escalated to the point that he knew they needed back up. Mentally calculating the time difference, Giles dialed Faith’s home in Cleveland.
The phone rang forever before she picked up.
“Hello?” Her voice was rushed.
“Faith, it’s Giles,” he said. “How are you doing?”
“Kinda busy here,” she said. “What do you need?”
“Well, what are you dealing with?” he asked in concern and annoyance.
“All our vamps and demons have gone psycho,” she said. “They’re not acting like normal, but really unified. It’s majorly
weird, but we’re working overtime to put out the fires they start. They keep trying to open the Hellmouth here and we all know
that would be on the not so good side of things. Plus, I’m pretty sure the First is nearby. I keep seeing the Mayor again. Been
meaning to call ya about that.”
“Bollocks,” Giles said. He could almost see Faith’s grin.
“What’s got you?” she asked with mirth in her voice despite the obvious strain there as well.
“We’re dealing with a major apocalypse over here. In fact, the very one that I believe is orchestrating yours. I had
hoped for some help, but I guess that won’t be possible.”
“Sorry,” she told him. “You do your part, we’ll do ours. And since you told me something could be controlling the First,
is there anything we should be watching out for?”
“Anything connected to an Old One named Illyria. And, Faith...” his voice started to quiver, “...I hate to tell you
this, but I’m afraid Buffy is dead. Illyria, she killed her.”
The line was quiet for a moment.
“I felt it when she went,” Faith said finally, “but I didn’t want to call because I didn’t want to be right.”
“I’m afraid you were,” Giles said sadly. “I’m sorry.”
“Me too, G,” she said, “me too.”
“You should also keep a look out for Willow,” Giles said. “I’m afraid she’s no longer rooting for our side. Buffy’s
death seems to have escalated a jump back into dangerous magic usage and Illyria has taken that to her advantage. She’s
“That sucks,” Faith said. “But, okay, dangerous Will, check.”
“Please keep me posted on your situation there,” he asked. “We’ve no resources here, but hopefully, I can get some from
Giles heard shouting in the background.
“Gotta run,” Faith yelled into the phone. “Big demons coming.”
“Good luck, Faith,” Giles said softly. She hung up the phone. “She is the Slayer now,” Giles said even more quietly.
Every place on the planet Giles called had the same situation as Faith. Every Slayer, and there were thousands of them,
was fighting day and night to put out the evil that had suddenly been awakened. Demons and vampires were working together to
destroy entire cities. Pretense was no longer an issue for them now that they were a part of Illyria’s plan. The lone army of
Slayers Willow had created was keeping them back and the inexperience of that army was beginning to tell.
Only in Rome, the center of Illyria’s infestation, was it quiet. Here she just killed one at a time, the better to drive
the knife home. Giles wondered what her ultimate strategy was and how they could ever defeat her when the entire world would fight for her. But whatever it was she was planning, it was evident that the noose was being tightened.
Giles slammed shut his book and decided to figure out information on Illyria the old fashioned way, by guessing intelligently. So far, he’d only made one critical error in his judgment of her. It would haunt him for the rest of his life, but it made his chances of figuring it out solo that much more likely now. At least he hoped so.
Wesley practiced some sword passes in the living room. He was trying to stay fit and Giles didn’t think he really had to
worry. The younger Watcher had physically recovered one hundred percent from his ordeal. Watching the flowing movements, Giles
tried to organize his facts into lists such as: One, Illyria is the binder of all evil. Two, no evil can move without Illyria’s
say so. That would include such entities as the First, or at least Giles thought it might and Faith’s information seemed to
confirm it. Three, Illyria had used Willow’s power against her. Illyria seemed to feed on power, but especially dark power.
Lighter magics didn’t seem to hold her interest. Four, anyone who tried to use magic, especially black magic, would be caught up into Illyria’s net just like everyone else.
Unless, Giles’ mind kicked into gear, there was a way to bypass the magic focus of Illyria by replacing it with another focus. It would require ancient magic properties with a very specific purpose. Giles opened the books again. This was the type of thing he could research.
Spike came into the apartment with a bag of groceries. A cheerless atmosphere rushed to meet him though it was met by the even colder feelings that swarmed within his soul. Willow’s actions had caused the fire in it to burn brighter, but that didn’t mean his heart wasn’t dead. Oz was obviously restless as he attempted to cook something in the kitchen. Wesley seemed a bit more focused as he practiced his patterns. Giles was apparently on the scent of something big. As he put away the groceries, Spike realized something, their lives sucked.
“We need a new place,” he said, opening the refrigerator.
Oz turned to face him with a quizzical look.
“New place for what?”
“Illyria knows exactly where we are. Willow bloody lived here. We have to get ourselves a new flat.”
“That’s actually not a bad suggestion,” Giles said looking up from his books for a moment. “This place, well, it has had
its uses and now it…”
“Hurts to be here,” Oz said.
“It does,” Wesley agreed. “Would you like me to have a hand in that at all?”
“I’ll take Dog-Boy here,” Spike said, “and scout out some places. Don’t fret, Wes, we’ll make sure it’s nice.”
“I’m sure you will,” Wesley said and nodded his head. Spike knew Wesley realized Oz needed to get out of the house.
“This wasn’t really working anyway,” Oz said, turning back to the slightly smoking pot on the stove.
“Great.” Spike clapped him on the shoulder. “We’ll be back soon.”
After the two of them had left Wesley put away his sword and went to the table to join Giles.
“What have you come up with so far?” he asked.
Giles put down the book he was reading and rubbed at his bloodshot eyes.
“Surmises mostly,” he admitted. “I’ve got an idea, but I’ve got to back it up now.”
“Well, summarize your surmises for me.” Wesley sat down.
Giles gave a ghost of a smile.
“We know Illyria has bound all evil to herself. My guess is that she was able to do that when you all weakened the Senior
Partners enough to let her through their defenses. Everything is under her control and she’s wound her magic so that all magic
will be useless and just drain the user, giving the power to Illyria. If it’s black magic, the user will become ensnared to
Illyria, ergo Willow. Like I said before, Illyria most likely lured Willow to her, letting Willow take away some of her powers,
wanting to add Willow’s power to her own, knowing she’d receive them back at that point. Unless we can find a way to use magic,
focusing it on something other than Illyria, we won’t be able to defeat her.”
“What something other than Illyria?”
“That’s what we’ve got to research.”
“Holding up?” Spike asked Oz as they walked down the street passing a couple that was arguing loudly.
“I know what you’re doing,” Oz said. Spike looked at him.
“Thanks,” was all the answer Spike got.
Spike remembered an old museum from the last time he was in Rome. Drusilla had liked it quite a bit and he’d gotten to
know the layout well. He thought it would do, especially since there were living quarters for the staff on the premises.
It was still shut down, though not condemned just yet. The floorboards were a little creaky, but Spike thought the
cobwebs lent exactly the right amount of ambiance needed.
The living quarters were next to what was the pre-historic tribes of Italy section. It was pretty much cleared out, but
there were a few things that lingered and made it seem like a museum still.
“Well, we’ve certainly got enough furniture,” Oz commented as they came to a room that had beds and couches and tables and
all other sorts of things stacked around the room. “This place is abandoned, right?”
“Sure,” Spike said. “People always leave junk in places owned by the city. Figure it’s someone else’s bloody problem.”
“It reminds me of Madrid,” Oz said slowly. “I was there for a few months.”
“Didn’t really like the place myself,” Spike said as he continued on, making sure nothing else had set up residence.
“Neither did I.”
“Why?” Spike’s face was filled with curiosity.
“I didn’t like the people,” Oz said simply.
“Does that matter with the place we’ve got here?” Spike asked, wanting to know if past horrors were going to keep Oz from
being comfortable in the museum.
“I have nightmares no matter where I am,” he answered. “I think this place is perfect.”
“Someday we’re gonna have a talk about these nightmares of yours,” Spike said, knowing now was not the time.
“Someday,” Oz agreed.
“Let’s hurry back and let the Percy pair in on the new place.”
Oz nodded and they left the museum to wait for their return.
The next day was spent moving everything into the museum. They knew it was a sure bet that Illyria could find them pretty easily, she certainly had enough resources at her disposal, but they did it as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. Better to have her find them later than sooner. Giles and Wesley hated to break off their researching now that they were on a good track, but they believed it was best to get away from the apartment and they knew that it was driving Spike and Oz crazy to be there anyway.
It was on the last load when Angel showed up. Giles and Oz had gone ahead to the museum. Spike and Wesley were just
closing the door when Angel appeared at the top of the stairs.
“What are you doing?” Angel asked as he saw the bags slung over their shoulders.
“Leaving. What’s it look like?” Spike said sarcastically and began to walk away.
Wesley sighed, knowing he was going to have to be the moderator of this little group meeting.
“We thought it prudent to leave this well known location, especially since Willow is not on our side anymore.”
“Wait, Willow? What happened?” Angel walked with them down the hall and stairs and out the door.
“Did bad mojo, got caught up, hates all our guts, I suppose,” Spike gave the short version.
“So we…don’t want to help her?” Angel asked Wesley.
“We don’t want to do bloody anything,” Spike said shortly. “But Wes and I certainly aren’t going to help her hand
over our carcasses to Madame Blue.”
“Spike,” Angel said and then stopped as if he knew it would be useless to talk to Spike. He turned to Wesley. “Wes, I
came back because Illyria isn’t watching Connor anymore and he insisted on going back to school. So he’s here where I can keep an
eye on him and still help you guys out.”
“How nobly convenient,” Spike snorted but didn’t say anything else which Wesley took as a good sign.
“I’d like to help, please.” This was all said to Wesley, who inwardly smiled, knowing how much it cost Angel to apologize
or ask for anything.
“I’m sure we’ll be grateful for your help,” he said, glancing over at Spike, knowing the vampire had put the decision in his hands.
“Thanks, Wes,” Angel said and then they walked to the museum together, keeping a low profile as they did. “But I’m not asking him,” Angel said firmly, glaring at Spike who glared right back.
“I think Spike will adjust eventually,” Wesley said smoothly.
Spike said something unintelligible. Wesley was glad he didn’t understand.
They found Giles and Oz moving things around inside. They’d chosen a small area to be their base. There was a room that was used as a kitchen, though with only the most basic of needs met, same went for the bathroom. There were various rooms and each chose one to sleep in. A large room with a long counter served as their meeting area.
Spike hauled boxes in, smirking as he passed Giles holding two boxes while he held six. Giles looked less than amused,
but said nothing as he grabbed his own belongings and went to place them in his room. When he’d come out again, Angel was
standing in their kitchen.
“I didn’t realize you were back,” he said gravely.
“Only just.” Angel shifted his weight.
“Good trip?” Giles asked superfluously.
“Quite smooth,” came the answer.
“You two through poncing at each other yet?” Spike asked when he came in with the last load. “If you are I’ll have a go
at either or both of ya.”
“How instrumental, I’m sure,” Giles said sitting down at his research table, which Spike informed him, meant he couldn’t
use the kitchen table because that was for food. Wesley soon joined him while the other three put odds and ends away. Angel and
Spike kept a wide berth of each other and Oz felt like a human buffer for the rest of the night.
“Worse than five year olds,” he muttered to himself. Everybody there had a major problem with everyone else except him.
His problem had been with Willow, she’d gone away and now he was left with the awkward position of being nobody’s problem and
everybody’s escape scenario.
Wesley was busy putting away his books. They had been pored over too many times to be of anymore use in stopping Illyria. He didn’t even know how that was possible, even with Giles’ hypothetical magic focus. He was so busy focusing on the situation that he didn’t even notice that Angel had come into the room.
“Oh, you startled me,” he said as he turned around and the sight of the much larger man loomed into view.
“Sorry.” Angel stepped further into the room and closed the door behind him. “Can I help with anything?”
“Pretty much finished here,” Wesley said with a small smile. “Perhaps Spike could use some help with the refrigerator.”
“Even Spike can handle a fridge.” Angel snorted. “Besides, he won’t let me anywhere near him. He blames me for he- for
“People aren’t rational when someone they love dies,” Wesley stated somewhat amusedly. “I believe I’m living proof of
“You’ve acted much better than I would’ve thought,” Angel said.
“Thank you.” Wesley decided to take that as a compliment.
“Do-do you think I am to blame?” Angel asked hesitantly. “I mean, I wasn’t even here. I did what I thought was right.”
“No one can do more.”
“But that doesn’t change the fact that I wasn’t there.”
“You were protecting someone.”
“Yeah, I was.”
There was silence for a few minutes. Wesley turned around and stopping putting things in their new homes.
“Who is Connor, Angel? Why is he so special to you? He seems so familiar somehow.”
Angel’s face grew dark.
“Connor is complicated. I don’t know what to say. He came into all our lives a few years before and needed help. I
tried, but he needed more than I could give.” Angel moved back to lean against the wall in perfect brooding position. “I gave
him up to save him. But he still needs to be saved because she knows how much I care about him. She may not want him exactly
right now, but she’ll try again. Somebody will try again. I was stupid to think it could be over.”
“I don’t remember any of this,” Wesley said in confusion. “It must have been while I was…gone that one time. I left
because…” He trailed off and then went back to his books.
“Wesley, I’m sorry for everything,” Angel said. “I did some things - I let things fall apart. I should have been there
for you all.”
Wesley turned to Angel, deciding in that moment to give his all back to Angel and his cause. He remembered where he
belonged, even if Angel was all that was left of it.
“Apart from several rather Angelus periods, Angel, you’ve never done anything but accept me. Unlike anyone ever has. I
don’t blame you for anything connected to Fred’s death. Nor should Spike blame you for Buffy’s. You’ve always done your best.”
“Wes.” Angel sighed. “It just isn’t true. I’ve done so much and that’s after the soul. I failed you.”
Wesley sat down on his bed and looked at Angel, giving him his full attention.
“Angel, I know we grew apart some last year. I can’t really remember why. Why did I go to Lilah? What does Connor have
to do with all this? Why wasn’t I with you until Angelus came back? Don’t you think it’s time you told me everything?”
Angel’s face became incredibly stone-like as he contemplated this request.
“I don’t know if that’s wise, Wes.”
“I want to be what we were, Angel. I want to understand.”
“I don’t think this will help. But…you deserve the truth and maybe it will help.”
“I think I have it!” came a shout from the other room. Spike ran up to the door and stuck his head in the room.
“Better come before he falls over. I think old Rupes has got the key to our blue problems. About bloody time.”
Angel looked relieved and Wesley frustrated, but they both got up and went into the other room.
Angel had been prepared to give the whole story from the moment Darla showed up pregnant to when he accepted the offer of Wolfram and Hart. What the results would be of telling that story, he didn’t know. But he knew what he hoped. Still, he was glad when Spike interrupted them.
Giles was frantically writing on a piece of paper.
“It must be there,” he muttered.
“Give us all a bead on that psychic frequency?” Oz asked patiently. Giles looked up, startled.
“Of course, everyone, come here.”
“Yes, Dad,” Spike muttered as he flopped down on an old antique couch.
“I believe I know where we can find our magical focus. There’s an ancient prophecy about something that could destroy the
Old Ones. I’ve looked at it a million times since we first encountered Illyria, but this time I caught words I never comprehended
before. It was talking about magic and since I’d dismissed magic as a possibility, I previously dismissed it as well.”
“So where is it, what is it?” Angel asked.
“I’m not quite sure exactly. The text mentions something about a diamond and a quest.”
“All too Indiana Jones for me.” Spike reached into his pockets for a cigarette before seemingly discovering he didn’t
have any more. “Bollocks.”
“The scroll about the quest says something about the biter and bitten, the moon tamer, and the empty head full of wisdom.”
“What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?” Spike asked.
Giles gave a grim, little smile.
“Well, I believe you’ve got something to do with it, Spike. The biter and bitten, that certainly sounds like a vampire.”
“Get Broodiness to do it. That destiny crap’s his gig.”
“One doesn’t choose destiny,” Giles reprimanded. “I don’t know what vampire it is talking about, but I will figure it
“Moon tamer certainly sounds like you, Oz,” Wesley said, studying the paper Giles had read.
“Tamer is hardly the word I’ve choose,” Oz answered dryly.
“I’m not sure who is to go, but I do know where to go,” Giles continued.
“Where is that?” Angel asked.
“The Deeper Well. It’s in England.”
“All out for a ride to the jolly old mother country,” Spike said, getting off the couch and heading to the kitchen. “I’ll
just let you Watcher types figure out the specifics.”
A flash of light entered the room. So did Illyria. Spike’s knife appeared his hand, so did Wesley’s gun, Oz’s crossbow
and Angel’s sword in theirs. Giles held his research in his hands.
“Settle yourselves,” Illyria said, looking around with cool disdain. “There shall come no harm to you today.”
“Then why the house call?” Angel asked, his eyes not leaving her.
“So it has returned,” she said idly. “Today I wish to tell you that you shall never overcome me and if you attempt it I
shall decimate you.”
“What a shocker!” Spike’s sarcasm knew no bounds. “Why choose to tell us this amazing bit of information?”
“Because everyone should have the proper advantage.” Illyria smiled cruelly. She turned to Wesley. “This shell had a
hole in it. I know her better than you, but she didn’t know herself. Therefore, I repaired the hole.”
“Wesley, don’t listen to her,” Angel said, suddenly fearing the worst of himself was about to be revealed in the worst way
Wesley turned to her.
“Whatever you want to say, I don’t care to hear.”
Angel’s hands stopped trembling and he felt better.
“As you wish,” Illyria said and pointed her finger at Wesley. A point of light shot from her finger into his head and he
fell to the floor, screaming. Spike leapt at Illyria, but she swept her hand up and knocked him away.
“Enjoy your advantage,” she said and disappeared. Oz and Giles rushed to Wesley in concern, who had stopped screaming and
was attempting to sit up.
Angel just stared in apprehension and Spike snapped his knife in two, looking frustrated.
“You did it,” Wesley said quietly, looking at Angel. Angel’s face was impassive. “You took it all away, for him, for
you. You didn’t trust us. You violated us. I did-“
“You took my son, but I forgave you for that a long time ago,” Angel said quietly.
“But then you took me away from me,” Wesley said, sounding dazed. “My head’s always been full of many things, important
or not, but you made it empty and false.”
“It’s not enough.”
Things were tense around the museum. Spike seemed to be enjoying Angel’s new position as enemy number one, but he acted appropriately grieved for Wesley and what he’d been through. Giles mostly worked on finding out the specifics of their quest. Angel brooded, Wesley didn’t talk very much, and Oz didn’t know what to do.
It was a quiet day. Word had come to them through a local Slayer that there was a huge demon uprising nearby, though out
of the too quiet city of Rome. Angel and Spike had gone to help so there was considerably less tension.
Oz helped Giles as much as he could and, in case it might happen, kept Wesley from slipping into another catatonic state.
He poured some juice from their fridge, “borrowed” from Buffy’s old apartment, and carried it over to where Wesley was going
through some old notes.
“Thank you.” Wesley accepted the glass and took a sip before placing it beside him.
“I’d like to understand what happened,” Oz said, sitting next to him.
“It’s rather hard to explain.”
Wesley chuckled dryly.
“Not much I suppose. Well, you know what my life was after I left Sunnydale. You know that I joined up with Angel and
Cordy and we fought evil in Los Angeles.”
“With you so far,” Oz concurred.
“Angel had a son,” Wesley said quietly. “It’s impossible, I know, but since when has that stopped anything? He’s Darla’s
child, Connor, I mean.”
“So that’s why Angel’s so protective of him.”
“Exactly. Connor was taken from Angel when he was a baby.”
“By you,” Oz supplied softly.
Wesley smiled grimly.
“For a good cause naturally. But as a result Connor grew up in a hell dimension, raised by Angel’s enemy, and we met him
again three weeks later when he was a teenager.”
“I thought Dawn was strange,” Oz said.
That brought a genuine laugh from Wesley.
“Kids don’t seem to get normal childhoods anymore. Well, Connor was vastly confused and hated his father. I was
completely estranged from the group at this point, though later, I was forced back into it.”
“Where was Fred in all this?”
“With my friend Charles. Or just there. Everyone was a little distant from each other at the time. But, to cut it
short, at the end of a battle against something called Jasmine, Connor had lost most of his moral faculties. Angel cut a deal
with Wolfram and Hart, who had been trying to make him evil for years, and Connor’s memories were erased. So were ours.”
“Sounds like something I heard Willow did one time,” Oz said quietly.
“I think Angel and Willow have more in common than they let on,” Wesley mused. “But everything I've been thinking about
leads me to only one conclusion, that though I have done things that were terrible and so has Angel, this one we can’t come back
“Because he didn’t just do it to me. He did it to her, he did it to all of us, without thinking, without hesitating. He
erased all of us. What I did to him, I did for him. What he did to me, he did for him.”
“Me too. But all I can do is get this over with as fast as possible. Maybe there’s a life for me somewhere. I don’t
“I’d like to think so, but you know, I can’t be sure,” Oz replied.
“I think it may be over faster than you think,” Giles interrupted them suddenly.
“What have you got?” Oz asked.
Giles sat down next to them and showed them his notes.
“I’ve been trying to figure this out and I am positive moon tamer refers to you, Oz.”
“I believe that the biter and bitten refers to Spike and not Angel. This is more of a hunch than anything, but it says
something about the graves of home and since Spike is from England and Angel is not…”
“Spike’s more likely,” Wesley surmised. “What else is there?”
“I think the other is you, Wesley,” Giles said. “It was your comment on knowing many things, but Angel made you empty
that made me think of it. You certainly had an empty head, but also wisdom.”
“An odd pairing,” Wesley commented.
“So we’re going to England to this Deeper Well place where Illyria was buried before?” Oz asked.
“Not quite to the Deeper Well. It does have significance since it’s connected to her, but that whole area is riddled with
mystical energy. I believe I’ve narrowed it down to the place where you should find this thing.”
“Don’t suppose you got a clue as to what it actually is?” Spike asked, coming in, spattered in demon gore. Angel followed
behind him, glowering, and equally drenched.
“Just the reference to a diamond,” Giles answered, politely turning his head from the stench.
“Got it, we’ll get cleaned up,” Spike said sarcastically. “So, who’s going?”
“You, me and Wesley,” Oz answered.
“Just who I wanted.” Spike grinned. “The old guys can stay here and drink.”
“I should stay with you,” Angel said to Giles, sounding reluctant. “Illyria may try something while they’re gone and I
want to do something.”
“What a good idea,” Giles said, equally reluctantly.
“When are we going?” Spike asked while he fished around in the cupboards. Oz got up and silently handed them both a towel.
“As soon as possible,” Wesley said firmly.
They were on the airplane and Spike was nervously shying away from the early morning light about to peek over the horizon.
“Why won’t the bloody plane land already?”
“Because there was an accident, Spike,” Wesley answered calmly. “Just try and relax, we’re in line and I have a blanket
“You’re awfully relaxed for all that just happened afore we left,” Spike said grumpily. Wesley stiffened but didn’t
answer. “Wes,” Spike said, glancing over at the sleeping Oz, “Wes, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t mention it,” Wesley said coldly.
“No, I mean it. And not just for that, but I’ve been making light of the whole thing since it happened. It’s my way of
dealing, I don’t know. It just makes me happy to see Angel down. But I know he hurt you.”
“I know you and Angel have always had a rather tempestuous relationship, but he was my best friend, Spike.” Wesley's face
“Had to be hard to do.” Spike had a hard time thinking anyone could be friendly with Angel easily.
“Well, circumstances didn’t help much, but it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Like eating breakfast,” Wesley
answered. He thought for a moment before asking, “Do you feel like the three of us have a destiny?”
“Don’t want to,” Spike said sharply. “Destiny means trouble.”
“I know your feelings on the subject, but do you think all of this was meant to happen somehow? Since the three of us are
in this prophecy or spell or whatever it is? How else could we all have come together without these tragedies?”
“Reminds me of a dream I had,” Spike said slowly. “Dru, she told me light was crueler than the dark. I guess evil likes
to take without reason, but good makes you give it up and keep going.”
“And keep going?”
“To wherever it wants you to go.”
“I’m too numb to go there,” Wesley said, sounding exhausted and Spike supposed he was. They all were.
“You’ll only get number.”
“Spike, even you should know that it’s more numb.”
“I never claimed to know anything about bloody proper grammar,” Spike retorted.
“Your era would suggest otherwise,” Wesley stated and then they fell silent.
They rented a car and drove to the middle of nowhere. Nowhere according to Giles’ coordinates.
Parking, they got out of the car and made sure it was well concealed behind some bushes just in case anyone should come
out there and yell at them for trespassing.
Wesley read from the notes in his hand with the flashlight Oz held.
“We need to head in a more northerly direction. I believe about five hundred feet. We should see an unusual stone of
“This is all too sad,” Spike said. “Quests are bloody stupid.”
“If you die,” Oz put in. “I think when you get whatever it is you’re looking for people generally make a movie about you.”
“Just my desire,” Spike answered sarcastically.
They went the required five hundred feet and Oz spotted an unusual rock. Actually the only rock.
“Now we’re to go the direction it points.”
“I think it points north.”
“Really? Looks west to me,” Spike argued.
Wesley rolled his eyes.
“It’s pointing northwest,” he said, holding up his compass. The other two silently followed his leading.
This led them to a cliff face about fifty feet high. The face was almost smooth and would not be climbed easily. A few
trees stood against the edge, but there was nothing else there.
“Now what?” Spike asked Wesley pointedly.
“Look for the dark line,” he answered. Spike raised his eyebrows, but made no comment and started to look. It was
difficult in the dark, but it was Oz who found the crack in the wall running from top to bottom.
“What’s that gonna do us?” Spike inquired.
“Maybe it opens somehow,” Wesley mused. “Let’s try to pull it or something.”
“Stand back,” Spike said and, using his considerable vamp strength, heaved on the cracks. Nothing happened.
“Maybe both sides need it,” Oz offered. He pulled on one side and Spike on the other, but still nothing happened.
“Three lines form one,” Wesley muttered as he read, trying to figure out the way.
“Let’s all try,” he said finally, rolling up the papers. He took a place beside Oz and together, they all pulled at the
rock. This time, it shifted and jerked and grated and they actually opened a door.
“Spike, your eyes will see best,” Wesley said, stepping aside.
“Don’t forget his nose,” Spike jerked a thumb at Oz.
“Rear guard,” Wesley said smugly. Oz nodded and entered after the other two.
They walked in darkness for a long time. But after awhile, Spike saw something up ahead and signaled the other two. They
entered a cavern, but the floor was covered in springy turf and there was a natural light coming from somewhere. There was a
shimmering curtain hanging over the back of the cavern and that was likely the resting place of whatever it was they were looking
“Challenge me!” boomed a voice as they stopped walking. The voice was disembodied, but Spike met it squarely.
“If there’s a challenge it’ll be made by me, O Booming Thunder-Man; come on out.”
A slow chuckle resounded off the cavern walls.
“As agreed.” There was a loud bang and some creature appeared from somewhere.
Was it a giant furry ape? Was it a misshapen werewolf? The questions rang through Spike’s mind.
“I am the Guardian and you are the Challenger. Come forth.” The creature beckoned him forward and Spike stepped out
boldly. “None but he may challenge me,” the unknown told Oz and Wesley. “You will remain.” He threw something at them and
though they struggled they found themselves unable to move toward Spike.
“Come on then,” Spike muttered, “I’m getting bored here.”
“You must kill me,” the hairy beast replied, “or your quest is in vain.”
“I can do that.” Spike smiled.
Wesley and Oz watched. It seemed to last for days, but at the very most, it was hours.
Spike held his own at first; the creature did not seem to be anything but his match in speed and strength and skill. But
the vampire did tire though he did not breathe and their fallen blood soon made the trampled grass slick.
Spike circled away, giving his muscles a bit of a rest. The monster did not allow him long and lunged forward, feinting
with his left arm, while bringing the other towards Spike’s side, claws fully extended. Spike dodged the left and saw the right a
little too late. He turned with the lunge and the claws only scraped against him instead of digging their way inside. He brought
up his leg with all his might and snapped the creature’s neck to one side. It roared with discomfort and pain, but it did not
stop its onslaught.
Several more moves like this one occurred. Spike almost thought he was done for, but he refused to give up and held on to
the one chance that the beast would slip up and give him an opening.
Minutes later, Spike found himself on the ground with claws raking down his back. He screamed so loud he thought the
echoes would play forever in the cave underneath the ground. But he curled his legs up and grasped the creature’s neck between
them. He squeezed tightly and threw the creature with his legs as hard as he could. The claws came out of his back and with a
gasp of pain, he turned around, quick as a cat and jumped to the creature, who was just rising. Grabbing the neck between his
hands, he twisted it as sharply as any chiropractor and twice as lethal. The beast was dead and he had won.
“Spike!” Wesley called as he and Oz ran over to the vampire and tried to stop his bleeding and congratulate him.
“No biggie,” Spike said, slumping a little. He’d lost a lot of blood.
“Here.” Wesley handed him a tiny packet of blood brought along for emergencies.
“Thanks, mate.” Spike ripped it open with his teeth and guzzled it down. “Much better that.”
“Good, let’s get on now,” Wesley said, helping Spike to rise.
The curtain still hung before them and words could barely be distinguished in the swirling material.
‘Know ye the way to enter here?’
“Well, do we?” Oz asked. Wesley fumbled for his notes.
“Only those who play their part shall come and behold the inner place where the pure ravagers enter and claim their own,”
“I think these ancient prophecies have it in for people,” Oz commented.
“That made no bloody sense,” Spike scoffed.
“Just let me think,” Wesley said impatiently. Oz could practically see his mind calculating and deleting the
possibilities. “People who ravage without malice. People who aren’t aware they are ravaging. Spike, it is like I said on the
plane, this is destiny for the three of us.”
“Oh bollocks.” Spike obviously didn’t relish the thought.
Wesley turned to Oz.
“A werewolf doesn’t know it’s a ravager. It’s you, you’ve got to go in there and get it. It’s your part.”
“Why me?” Oz asked.
“Why any of us?” Wesley returned. “Come on, Oz.”
“Get in there.” Spike shoved him.
Oz stumbled forward, but went.
“Do I just walk in?” he asked.
“Just walk in,” Wesley assured him. So Oz did. He could have sworn he felt a presence at the time, almost like he was
being cleansed, but somehow he didn’t think he’d be talking about it much.
It was dark inside wherever he was. But he became aware of a small light near to the floor.
It was a wandering firefly. Gently, he scooped it up and walked forward to see what there was to be seen.
A simple stool stood in the center of the room. There was nothing on it but a lump of coal.
“Nice analogy,” Oz whispered as he went to take the coal from the stool.
“Are there booby-traps?” he called to Wesley nervously.
“None that I can see, except that we will stir up the spirit of something or other. Best come back quickly.”
Oz obeyed immediately. He showed them the coal.
Spike looked disappointed.
“Shouldn’t it be shinier?”
“Worth does not lay in wealth,” Wesley said softly.
“Some say,” Spike said and snorted.
“I say,” came a new voice. All three of them started. Besides them and the dead beast, there was now a man in the room.
Or what seemed like a man.
“It’s almost an earthly pleasure to meet you,” he/it said politely. “Viewing pleasures can get old.”
“What do you want?” Wesley asked.
“Why, to congratulate you, of course.”
“And?” Spike led on.
“And to tell you something hard and rich.”
“Which is?” Oz didn’t like words like that.
“You all have been given a gift. You all have used it. Now you all are united in your gifts and you must stay that way.”
“Huh? Gifts?” Spike sounded confused. Oz and Wesley exchanged looks behind his back.
“We’re bound together in our destiny,” Wesley supplied.
“No bleeding way,” Spike sputtered.
“Wasn’t the dream enough?” the form asked. “Aren’t your circumstances proof? You all have gone beyond mortality and you
ache to finish this fight, to win this way so then you can rest, but you are wrong. There is no rest.”
“Figures,” Oz said almost silently.
“Why isn’t there any rest?” Wesley asked cautiously. “Haven’t we earned rest?”
“Earned and better good are two different things,” said the form. “You must not leave your strings unattached. You will
have need of each other.” Then he/it vanished.
“Light crueler than dark, bah!” Spike grumbled. “Got dark on the run and committing suicide.”
“Let’s get back with our…coal,” Wesley said. “I guess diamonds are there underneath.”
“With our luck?” Spike said, keeping his hand pressed to his arm that was still bleeding.
“Let’s get you fixed first,” Wesley said and he and Oz helped Spike as they left with their prize and the knowledge that
their destinies were tied together forever.
The first thing they smelt was the blood. It took Wesley a little longer than the other two, but the scent was so fixated in his memory that he would recognize it anywhere.
They pushed open the door and crept into their area of the museum. The smell of blood grew stronger but there was no one
there. A complete absence of heartbeats and very clear signs of a fight, but no bodies, nothing.
“They must have made it out,” Oz said.
“Guess so, or taken,” Spike replied. “Besides demon, this is Giles’ blood.”
“Where would they take him?” Wesley asked. “And what about Angel?”
“No trace of the wanker,” Spike answered, rifling through the mess on the floor. Doing so, he picked up a piece of paper
that was lying on top.
“Why would we have a brochure for the bloody university?” he questioned.
“We wouldn’t,” Oz said, taking it. “Not us.”
“But Angel, who has a son there, might,” Wesley concluded. “Hopefully, he put this here to tell us where he was going.
If not, we’ll find another way to track them.”
“Angel’s good at hiding blood trails,” Spike said. “Outside there’s nothing but a smell of a truckload of fish guts,
which would do it.”
“Let’s go,” Oz said and they quickly followed his advice.
Angel kept the pressure on Giles’ shoulder. He kept going, knowing he would be followed. He left no scent, despite his wanting to make sure the others could find them. He could think of nothing but leaving an innocuous paper trail.
He wouldn’t go to where Connor lived. He hadn’t saved his son all this time to simply lead Illyria to his doorstep.
Since it was summer and the weekend, a lot of the buildings were shut down. He broke into the medical hall and went to work to
keep Giles from dying. His wound was a sword thrust into his left shoulder, but it went dangerously close to his heart and a lot
of blood had been lost. A hospital wasn’t an option at this point so Angel put his years and vast knowledge of human anatomy to
It was some hours later when he heard a noise. He stealthily got to his feet and made sure Giles was hidden before
gripping a stake and walking quietly to behind the door.
“Relax, you caveman, it’s just us,” came a faintly disappointed voice at the same moment when Angel’s nose reminded him
exactly why he didn’t like that smell.
“Is Giles all right?” Wesley asked.
“I’m doing all I can. As soon as it’s safe, he has to go to the hospital.”
“What the bloody hell happened?” Spike demanded. “I mean as soon as Illyria showed up the whole moving to the museum
thing became unnecessary, but this?”
“She just appeared. I think she wanted to gloat over…” He glanced at Wesley. “...over her little memory upgrade. When
she saw you guys were gone, she got mad and attacked us.”
“She doesn’t know what we were doing, correct?” Wesley asked nervously.
“We didn’t say anything,” Angel assured him. “But we were busy fighting for our lives so I don’t know what she knows.”
“Bollocks,” Wesley said quietly.
“You said it, mate,” Spike said, looking over from where he’d just seen Giles. “Bloke looks real bad. We better get this
“Did you get it?” Angel asked. Oz nodded and showed him the lump of coal.
“Looks like your stocking every Christmas, eh, Angel?” Spike grinned at him. Angel just rolled his eyes and handed it
back to Oz.
“Well, what do we do with it?”
“Ask Giles,” Wesley admitted. “He only handed me his notes about retrieving it, not using it.”
“Let’s get on that,” Oz said.
“We can’t until he wakes up,” Angel said. “If he doesn’t rest right now, he’ll die. You guys would rather-”
“Okay, we’ll wait, Florence,” Spike said. “Just cause your new found nursing compassion is jumping the gun doesn’t mean
we don’t almost care.”
So they waited. It was a long wait. Oz sat with his back against the wall, head on his knees.
“Looking really glum there, mate,” Spike observed from his perch on an examining table.
“Well, situations are much gloomier on the floor,” Oz reminded him. Spike smiled and looked around for something to play
with. He settled for an odd looking medical instrument of torture.
“Let us in on the gloomy thoughts then. Or tell some stories.”
“Ever hear about my first werewolf days?” Oz asked randomly.
“Believe I was in town at the time,” Spike answered. “Before your stint, of course,” he addressed Wesley, “but old Angel was around; actually it was more like Angelus.”
“Yup, Buffy was worried that I was you,” Oz told Angel who was looming guard at the door.
“I remember meeting you on the street,” Angel said softly.
“I don’t,” Oz answered. “I can’t remember being a werewolf. Sometimes I think I can in my dreams, but the thing I
remember is waking up in the woods, completely naked, with no memory of how I got there.”
“What did you do?” Wesley asked.
“Freaked out, knew the gang needed to find the wolves, knew the only thing that had bit me recently, bought some chains.”
“Who bit you?”
Angel smiled a little sadly, Wesley would be very interested in the origin story of werewolf Oz.
“My cousin, Jordy. He was younger at the time.”
“Young enough to think biting your older cousin was cool and would help with the teething process.”
“How terrible!” Wesley sounded shocked. “Whatever happened to him?”
“He’s fine, last I heard. I sent him the address of some great Tibetan monks. It helped. His parents bought him a
really nice cage for his birthday.”
“Hardly funny,” Wesley remarked.
“No,” Oz agreed, “not funny. But Jordy’s coping well and that’s what matters. He had more time to adjust, I guess.”
“And you certainly didn’t,” Spike chimed in. “Can’t think of a worse time to become a wolf there. Us bad vamps were in
town and the gang all bent on killing all things evil.”
“It was hard, but it didn’t really hit until a few years later when I left town.”
“When that whole other wolf thing happened,” Spike guessed. Oz’s face clenched up a little.
“Yup. I ran. I ran around the world looking for people like me.”
“People like you?” Wesley inquired. “Who knew they were werewolves?”
“Yeah, I wanted to see if they knew and what they did about it. Could they handle it? Did they care? Was I the only
werewolf locking himself up or was everyone like Veruca?”
“Consensus?” Spike asked.
“Mixture,” came the reply. “Some knew, some cared, some didn’t.”
“Was it worth it?” Angel asked suddenly, wanting to know if it was worth losing her.
Oz looked up.
“I don’t know,” was his honest response.
The conversation moved on to other topics. It wasn’t so much a conversation as Spike’s lame attempts at making jokes, Angel skulking and Wesley trying to remain a buffer for them all while constantly checking Giles to see if he was awake.
Oz let his thoughts wonder. The entire conversation had been really based on him and his past and that wasn’t something
he tried to think about. It led to thoughts of his failures and to people he’d lost. Like Tanya.
Mostly he remembered her laugh. She was the first person he’d met after leaving Sunnydale the second time who could laugh
and he could bear it. After the first time he’d met her in a coffee shop he bumped into her again. She’d laughed that time. The
laugh made him want to see her again.
She wasn’t his Willow. She wasn’t someone he’d spend the rest of his life with. But she made him love laughter and
laughter was life.
But no matter how much he'd loved her laugh he’d put her in harm’s way because he was on a mission. A mission to destroy
the people who’d given up their humanity. People like Darryn. Darryn who laughed when he came back to himself and saw the
bloodbath he’d enjoyed the night before.
Oz could still remember the red blood on the snow and the claw that he’d shorn off before Darryn had come back into human
form. He could see Darryn with the claw and Tanya running to help and the claw in her neck. He remembered rage that wasn’t
supposed to happen in the daylight. He remembered more blood. He remembered leaving the body and gathering hers in his arms. He
remembered doing a ritual he’d been scared to do before. He remembered leaving the next day. He didn’t remember much laughter
“That was highly unnecessary,” Giles’ voice hovered over Oz’s thoughts.
“He’s awake,” Spike announced. Giles stirred and grumbled some more.
“Stupid sword, I saw it coming. What happened?”
“You nearly died,” Spike said solemnly, “Angel saved you.”
“Oh,” Giles said in a not very enthusiastic tone of voice, “thank you then.”
“It’s okay.” Angel sounded equally as enthused.
“Giles, please tell us what this means?” Wesley got right to the meat of the matter. “We need to get this over with.”
“You did it?” Giles asked and tried to sit up.
“Don’t move, you’ve hardly any blood in you,” Wesley warned.
“Spike got to me,” Giles postulated.
“Give me some credit for taste,” Spike muttered.
“This is what we found.” Oz put the coal in Giles’ hands.
“Remarkable,” Giles breathed. “A diamond in the rough. All you need to do is use this as the focal point in the spell I
taught you, Wesley. That should do the trick.”
“And get close enough to do this without being killed?” came Oz’s query.
“You’ll have to work that one out,” was Giles’ reply. “It shouldn’t be anything you can’t handle.”
“No, just what killed-“ Spike’s reply was cut short by his own choked voice, but he continued after a moment. “Let’s go then. Let’s bloody kill it.”
“A word of caution,” Giles spoke. “The same things apply here as when you retrieved it. The thing is bound to the three
of you and only you can use it.”
“You never told us that!” Spike spouted.
Giles went on unabated.
“This means Angel and I shall have to remain out of it.”
“You have to remain out of it anyway,” Wesley said. “You need a hospital.”
“The spell is volatile,” Giles continued. “You’ll need to leave there immediately.”
“Taking the van,” Oz answered.
“Angel,” Wesley said, “we’ll take care of Illyria. Take Giles to the hospital, or somewhere safe. But he’ll need a doctor as soon as possible.”
“I’ll do that. I can do some talking to city authorities about clearing the area, but I can only try,” Angel promised,
hesitated and said, “Be careful, Wes.”
“I will,” Wesley answered shortly.
“I will too, of course,” Spike said sweetly. He turned to look at Wesley and Oz.
“Let’s go, mates.”
“I’m beginning to find looking for this thing annoying,” Spike said after they’d been walking around for three hours. “I mean, what did she do? Get up in the morning and decide to cloak herself today?”
“I hear cloaking’s beneath her actually,” Oz commented.
“You hear very strange things,” Wesley told him. “I’ve got it this time.”
“Really?” Spike’s tone was less than believing.
“Really!” Wesley assured him, looking a little disgruntled. “Those other times were simply a miscalculation.”
“Simply?” Spike’s tone again dripped with sarcasm.
“Why are we talking like this about this?” Oz inquired.
“It’s called the banter before a fight, Dog Boy,” Spike informed him. “You associated with that lot before us. Tune in
to the bloody real world.”
“I hate that show,” Oz said. “Too unrealistic.”
“There’s a shock for you,” Wesley muttered. “Now, will you two stop your bickering and let’s put an end to this? If you
don’t mind, of course.”
“Never minded anything less.” Spike gripped his sword and they prepared to go in. The locator spell had been the most
difficult one to pull off so far but Wesley had extended himself. And then there they were, standing outside a building that
contained evil, all evil.
“What do we have here?” drawled a voice from the shadows of the entrance. “Some lost puppies. How too adorably much for
Willow sauntered into view. Her hair was jet black as were her pupils and she was dressed in a black version of Illyria's
skin armor. Her skin thrummed with energy that was palpable to even the human senses. But those same senses could have picked up
a dark evil so prevalent in her that even someone with a bad case of Sunnyd-enial would run in the opposite direction.
“Don’t you want to say hi?” she asked. “Wait, you’re here to kill me. That’s not very nice. Maybe I should stop you or
warn somebody or something.”
“Do whatever you bloody want,” Spike spat out. “I’m going inside. Just get out of my way.”
“Ooh, looks like I’m taking requests,” she purred. “But perhaps you should go inside, Spike.” She said his name very
condescendingly and he flinched. “We all should.”
She turned around and went back into the building. The three men followed her.
“Like lambs to the slaughter,” Wesley said and sighed. “Oz, see if you can distract her. I’m sorry, but-“
“I know, got the need,” Oz replied. “Just get to Illyria.”
Spike and Wesley moved past Willow, who simply stood and watched them as they walked away.
“All alone and so many things to say,” her voice sang. “What to talk about first? Hmm, maybe your wardrobe.” She started to circle around. “Don’t you get tired of wearing shirts that barely show your dashing scar? Women love scars, Oz. How do you explain it away to them, I wonder?”
“I explain nothing,” Oz said firmly.
“That’s right, you’re the man who’s too good for all us common folk. Life is simply all about your righteousness and morals and silly little things like faithfulness and supposed forgiveness. Give it a rest, Oz. It’s all your fault I am the way I am, you know.”
“Your choices were your own,” was all he said. His body was screaming in terror at him, but one small voice inside him was the only chance he had to not break down in front of her. He just hoped Spike and Wesley had made it through.
“This place is like a bloody maze,” Spike complained. “We’ll never find her in here.”
“Yes, we will,” Wesley said determinedly. “I’m sure it won’t be long before-“
Six vampires jumped in front of their way.
“You see?” Wesley said as he pulled out a stake. “I believe we’re on the right track.”
“The demon has all the forces of darkness on her side and she sends out six vampires to protect her?” Spike asked pointedly as he dusted one of the six.
“I’m sure there are more,” Wesley promised. Spike sighed.
“You’re sure sure about a lot of things, mate.”
Oz circled warily around Willow as she languidly paced, trying to keep anything solid at his back. It wasn’t that he didn’t know she could just zap him in the front, but he didn’t want anything getting behind him anyway.
“I really should go join the others,” Willow admitted, letting little sparks play along her fingertips, “but it is so much
fun watching you squirm.”
“Squirming things lead to screaming things,” she answered.
“So it’s not just me then?” Oz inquired. “It’s not that you just like seeing me squirm, it’s a general squirming thing.”
Willow paused to contemplate but was plainly annoyed at having to do so.
“Well, I must admit there’s a certain appeal to seeing you particularly squirmish.”
“Why?” he asked again.
“Because you’re like the thing that wouldn’t go away!” she snapped and lashed out with her power.
Spike and Wesley entered a long hallway. There were more vampires there and demons and lawyers and various other uncouth and disgusting looking things. In the midst of them stood Illyria, blue and slender, with a look of disdain on her face.
“I am bored of this game,” she announced. “You shall die like the vermin you are.”
“Wes,” Spike said as he prepared to vanish within the oncoming onslaught.
“I got it,” Wesley assured him and began his spell.
Oz doubled over as the fire hit him and Willow’s laugh rang in his mind.
“You’re that insecure?” he asked her when he could speak again.
“Since when would my being more powerful than ever make me insecure?” she asked as she idly flicked more darts of her power, smirking as he ducked to avoid them.
“Because you know that it means nothing now that you’ve lost your humanity. You thought your humanity wasn’t enough and
so you threw it away and now you know it was all there was. You can never come back.”
“I have the power here,” Willow snapped. “You’re just jealous like you’ve always been, afraid you would be overshadowed, unwilling to let someone be better than you. You had to turn on me so it wouldn’t happen.”
“Willow, when have I ever displayed any type of ambition?” he asked her incredulously. “I take backseat gladly, but that
doesn’t mean I surrender to others dangerous driving positions if I don’t think they’re ready for it.”
“Then you underestimated me just like everyone else did. I was the meek, the quiet, brainy, geeky one that everyone else
could depend on. Well, now I’m the bold, the loud, intelligent, powerful one and the only thing you can depend on from me is that I will make you feel what you’ve done.” Willow’s voice had grown very loud and sparks were now flying involuntarily everywhere as his words seemed to touch the core within her.
There was a crackling sound behind her. Willow’s head perked and she smiled slowly.
“Well, so Wes is going to try something. I do feel its power. Let’s go and see what it looks like.”
She threw a rope of magic around his feet and started to drag him as she walked back toward where the others were.
Wesley could feel his power draining; he knew he was dangerously close to pouring his life force into the spell. He couldn’t focus on anything else. Somewhere on the edge of his senses, he knew Spike was battling for both their lives and yet all he could see was Illyria as she pressed her overwhelming will against his and poisoned his entire being with her malevolent power.
He saw Spike spare a quick glance at him and saw how tired he must be. He was tired too. The demons never quit coming and Spike was bleeding from half a dozen places. He was getting slow. The spell needed to finish now if they had any hope.
Ducking underneath a sword, Spike fought to keep the demons away from Wesley who was now pulling out the lump of coal.
“Refining from dross,” was something Spike heard him mumble, though there were also a lot of other words in some archaic
Sweat literally poured off of Wesley’s body and he was bending towards the floor. His veins rose and his skin started to
turn blue. But the coal began to glow and a white light shone from it and pierced into Illyria. She gasped and put a hand to her
mid section as light penetrated her shell and started to crackle along her surface.
“It’s not possible you have found this,” she spoke in disbelief even as she battled against it.
Neither of her foes had breath to answer her. Spike grunted as a well placed elbow caused black spots to appear in front of his eyes.
Willow entered the room with Oz being dragged behind her. They both took in the situation.
“Mistress?” Willow asked, with a slightly insolent twist.
Oz struggled to get to his feet and succeeded.
“Forget it, Willow,” he gasped out. “You leeched onto the wrong team.”
“Destroy it,” Illyria commanded. Willow turned with a slow smile to Oz.
“You heard the boss,” she whispered and prepared to send him out of her life permanently.
Illyria suddenly straightened though the light continued to pour into her. She lifted her hand and pointed it at Wesley.
He fell to the ground, but as he fell he spoke the last words.
Illyria screamed. The light had gone inside and now there were cracks all along her skin and it shone through. A blue
glow fell over the whole room as she pulsed brighter and brighter.
Willow shrieked and fell to the ground as her own body started to shake as though it were going to burst from within. Oz
almost knelt down to help her, but did not.
Wesley lay limp on the floor. The room had gone quiet as it watched Illyria glow and Willow convulse. Spike dusted a
vamp and then grabbed Oz and they ran over to Wesley and picked him up.
There was an enormous throb of energy and Illyria’s form began to disintegrate as did Willow’s; Oz could not turn his eyes
away from the sight.
“Oz, we have to go!” Spike shouted. “I’ve got Wes, let’s go! There is nothing left.”
Oz nodded and turned away.
“Goodbye, Will,” he whispered. His eyes were hard as he and Spike ran from the room.
The blast came from behind them and they ran harder. They could feel the heat and the energy like a smothering blanket
and they ran. They ran until they got into the van and then they drove. They drove from the destruction of evil as it sought to destroy them through its own demise.
Spike stared at his hands. He wondered what it would be like to have red and black marks over his skin that had turned blue. Did they burn, were they poison? Wesley had only just woken up and now would he ever wake up again?
Spike glanced over at Oz and noticed him staring at his hands. He imagined the same questions were running through Oz’s
head as his own.
“Excuse me, are you family?” came a doctor’s voice, strange English words with an Italian accent.
“No.” Oz shook his head as they stood.
“Is there family here? The information must be released to them first.”
“He doesn’t have any bloody family!” Spike said shortly. “We’re what he has.”
The doctor nodded, evidently realizing the futility of arguing with William the Bloody.
“We’ve treated all his physical wounds, his swelling has gone down, but the…marks are not…dissipating and we don’t know
what they are. Could you perhaps tell me about the accident?”
“It was an explosion,” Oz explained after Spike continued to just bore holes in the man’s head. “Gas line leak. You’ll
have heard about it because it wasn’t contained.”
“Yes, I have heard. But all the other victims from there have regular burns, this man does not. How is this to be
“He’s just lucky,” Spike told him. “Is he awake? What’s gonna happen, doc?”
“He is not awake. Until we can get him there or get rid of the…marks, I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do.”
“We need Giles,” Oz muttered.
“Thanks, doc, go save someone.” The doctor left and Spike marched up to the counter. “Looking for the room of Rupert
Giles, big, brooding lug brought him in.”
Spike looked up to see Angel hissing at him from the doorway to the waiting room.
“Never mind,” Spike said as he beckoned to Oz and they went to meet Angel.
“Giles is upstairs,” Angel assured them. “Where’s Wes?”
“Coma again,” Oz filled him in. “Don’t think it’s self-inflicted. Can Giles talk?”
“He’s awake,” Angel answered. “Come on, let’s go. Maybe he can help.”
“He better,” Spike mumbled. They all headed upstairs to where Giles was looking rather disgruntled at the pinstriped hospital gown he was currently wearing.
“Illyria hexed Wes,” Spike said without preamble. “How do we undo it?”
“I’m fine, thank you, Spike,” Giles said. “Well, I should go take a look at him. I don’t know if they’ll allow that, um…” Giles looked around for any nurses.
“We’ll get you there,” Oz assured him. Covertly they pinched a wheelchair and Angel reluctantly gave Giles his coat and donned a blue orderly shirt Spike grabbed from a hook in a supply room and they were off.
Wesley was located in the emergency room, but since he was stable and non responsive, he was in the quieter, semi-private portion.
Giles took one look at Wesley’s face and open eyes and turned around to face Spike.
“Where’s the coal?”
“Uh.” Spike looked at Oz. “You grab it?”
“I think Wesley was still clutching it at the grabbing point.” Oz thought back. “He had it in the van. Where are his
“Over here.” Angel gestured at the back wall. They quickly rummaged through his clothes and came up with not a lump of
coal, but a beautiful glistening diamond.
“That’s different,” Oz commented unnecessarily.
“Yes, it was cleansed,” Giles said as he inspected the diamond. “Right, Spike, Oz, you’ll need to do exactly as I tell you.”
“What?” Spike asked. “Why us?”
“It’s connected to the three of you,” Giles explained patiently. “No one but you can use it.”
“But we don’t do spells,” Spike said. “It’s Wes’ thing.”
“Besides recalling a certain black ritual all I have to say to that is if you ever want him to do it again, you’ll bloody
get over here and use it,” Giles said, obviously losing his patience.
Spike and Oz glanced at each other and then stood awkwardly next to Giles.
“All you have to do is hold it, concentrate all your energy on it, point it at Wesley and say ‘Restorum.’ “
“Um, okay,” Oz said. The two grabbed hold of the diamond and pointed it at Wesley. Concentrating what they assumed to be
their energy, they haltingly spoke the incantation, trying to say it at the same time and failing utterly.
A small, white light glimmered in the depths of the diamond. It grew larger and larger and finally directed its beam
toward Wesley. The light played on his face and danced along his skin before seeming to settle and then be absorbed.
“Done now?” Spike asked nervously.
“You’re done,” Giles told him, rolling his eyes. They dropped the diamond and watched.
Wesley’s skin didn’t seem to change, but it did. The blue faded, his eyes closed.
“What about the red and black?” Angel asked.
“It will happen,” Giles assured him. Slowly, it did, the red and black marks disappeared and though extremely pale,
Wesley’s skin looked normal.
“Will he wake up now?” Spike asked.
“Soon,” Giles answered. “Now, if you don’t mind, I believe I have over reached my limits. Perhaps you’d be so kind as to
return me to my room.”
“I will,” Angel said, shifting and looking like he felt in the way. He left with Giles while Spike and Oz stood over Wesley’s bed, watching and waiting.
Three weeks later
“Will there ever be a time in my life when I’m not recovering from a coma with you chaps yammering in my ear?” Wesley grumbled. Spike laughed as Oz tried to force feed another bite in Wesley’ s mouth.
“You’ll never get it that way, mate,” he chuckled.
“He has to eat,” Oz reminded him.
“I shall eat on my own,” Wesley said primly.
“Demonstrate,” Oz said, handing him the fork. Wesley started to take tiny bites while Oz watched approvingly and Spike
“Now you have to change the dressing on your leg.” Oz turned to Spike who abruptly stopped laughing.
“Who died and made you mum?” he growled pleasantly. “We only just got rid of the Watcher and the Tall Skulking One has
gone off with his son. Sides, don’t you have a rather nasty burn?”
The phone rang and Spike practically ran to get it. But as soon as he put it to his ear, the ground started to quake and
a shimmering light hovered in the air.
“What the bloody hell?” he asked in amazement. Then a hole opened and Dawn stepped through into the room.
“Surprise!” she said happily as she came in. “I came back, tell me everything.” Spike’s face had fallen the moment he
saw her. The moment he’d been dreading had now arrived.
“Uh, Bit,” he said as he shuffled his feet slightly, “we got to talk. I have to tell you…something.”
Dawn’s grin started to fade.
Wesley glanced at the door.
“He’s been gone an awfully long time. Should we be worried?” he asked Oz.
“It’s hard news to tell, give him time.”
They waited a long time before Spike finally came out.
“She’s gone,” was all he said before he sat down.
“What happened, Spike?” Wesley asked in concern.
“She doesn’t want to deal with it. She’s going to see…the grave and then go back to wherever she’s been. She says she’ll
check in.” Spike’s face was twisted and tight and pain was evident. Wesley could see that he’d been avoiding thinking about Dawn
which helped him avoid thinking about Buffy.
“We need time,” Oz suddenly spouted. The other two looked at him.
“Time?” Spike inquired dryly.
“We’ve all lost things. We can’t do anything without closure. Let’s go away, each of us, and then we’ll come back. Back
to the museum.”
“I do like the museum,” Spike said softly, “lots of atmosphere.”
“I’m well enough to fend for myself,” Wesley agreed. “See you soon.”
Wesley stood in a burnt down building. Spike stood high on a hill in a graveyard. Oz sat in a van in an alley. They were alone. They were together.
Three days later
“What should we do?” Wesley asked idly. They sat around the museum after having said their hellos with no explanations.
“Let’s travel,” Spike said. “We got our magic diamond, what else would we possibly need?” His sarcasm was not lost on
the other two, but the idea was catching.
“Evil abounds all over,” Oz agreed. “We should get to that.”
“Agreed,” Wesley said, the enthusiasm rising in his voice. “We have the means and ability and the desire. What are we
“Certainly not another bloody apocalypse to come to us,” Spike said, standing and grabbing his coat. “We’ll be back home
And then they left.
Chapter 18: Epilogue
35 years later
“Nice to have proper beer back again.” Spike sighed and put down his second pint.
“Excellently put,” Wesley agreed, draining his dry and signaling for another.
“Nothing I say will have any input,” Oz remarked, taking his second drink from his first pint.
“Bloody American,” Spike said good naturedly. “Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it?”
“Strange that we should be there,” Wesley said.
“Not really, about the only things the old bloke had left in his life,” Spike argued.
“Technically, we’re old now too,” Oz told him pointing to himself and Wesley.
“Still older than you,” Spike said proudly. “And yet, the best looking. Certainly pays to be me, maturity and beauty all in one.”
“Don’t forget the modesty.” Wesley rolled his eyes. “Anyway, I was just thinking that when I first met him, it certainly never occurred to me that I would be attending Giles’ funeral.”
“You only thought about taking his job,” Oz reminded him. Wesley winced.
“I thought we agreed never to talk about anything over fifteen years past.”
“Funerals make the exception,” Oz decided. “Certainly happened at Faith’s last year.”
“Still can’t believe the old bird only made it to half a century,” Spike said without malice.
“You know she would never have been satisfied to die of old age,” Wesley told him. “She would’ve thought it spoke badly of her Slaying abilities.”
“She was the last.” Spike raised his glass in a toast. “The last real Slayer.”
Wesley and Oz raised their glasses too.
“These things are rather surreal though,” Wesley observed. “I guess we should have known Angel would be there, but it was still rather sudden.”
“You’re acting like you just met up with your ex, Wes,” Spike jibed him.
“Old wounds,” Wesley said in explanation. “I didn’t notice you doing any weeping over the meeting.”
“Weep over my grandsire?” Spike asked incredulously. “Knew that Kargayas demon messed with your head.”
“Since I stopped him from snacking on your left forearm?” Wesley returned.
“Wish Dawn could’ve made it,” Spike mumbled instead of continuing the spat.
“She probably just lost track of time in her own dimension,” Wesley soothed. “You know she checks in every decade or so.”
“Yeah.” Spike sighed. “Miss the Bit.”
“Let’s toast Giles too,” Oz said, effectively changing the subject. “It’s kind of like a dad dying. Which is interesting.”
Spike raised an eyebrow, but nodded in consent.
“To our totally almost non dad-like Dad, Giles,” he said, lifting his mug. “May he rest in peace.”
“Good words.” Wesley lifted his as well and Oz copied his motions. Spike put down his glass and settled back into his chair.
“Don’t want to mix business with proper mourning rituals, but where are we heading next?”
“Slayers in the next county over are having trouble with a little paranormal uprising,” Wesley answered. “Sound good?”
“Yeah,” Oz said.
“Sounds perfect for the old guys, me, and our handy dandy diamond.” Spike smirked at them. Wesley and Oz just paid attention to their pints and ignored him. Business as usual.