Chp 18 The Loved Ones
“A demon’s fire changes all,
The Old Returns,
Love Alone can break the Thrall,
Past and present merged must be
By Love, desire and need times three”
Darkness - black - nothing - being crunched, diluted, hurt and imprisoned by a piece of metal in a corner of a mind angered him out of all reason. He’d flailed and struggled but couldn’t escape. It held him in a vice and every time he tried to prove he was still alive, pain, terrible pain hurt the loved one. Now his beloved companion had gone - a blade of silver light had torn them apart and his arms still ached for the one lost.
But he would fight on; never give up because he needed - yearned - wanted his freedom. Wanted to be whole again, not this pathetic mewling thing, shut away, unable to act or control or kill or -
Another blaze of silver light and this time he felt the walls imprisoning him give way. Brilliance surrounded him, hurting, but hurling him forward; out, out, out, bursting free and with a roar he was falling clear….
He was aware of space, but not freedom. He was crouched in a cage; somewhere gloomy. The loved one was close by and – he stretched his senses – to his astonishment he realised that the first loved, the one who had vanished so long ago, was close by, too. And eyes. Lots of eyes were looking at him. He felt his mouth tangle into a snarl and a growl began to cut at his throat. He would kill and kill and kill…
“Spike – are you OK?” Buffy grasped the bars of the cage Xander had built in the basement out of old wood and the pipes left over from the plumbing. Her worried voice cut through the waves of nausea that were swirling round inside the vamp’s head.
He groaned and rolled over; the force of the dividing rod had thrown him crashing to the ground. He shook his head, smearing a trickle of blood from his nose and stared at the figure crouched next to him. Pale naked flesh, yellow eyes gleaming from under a tangle of curly hair. The face – well it was him, he supposed but as he’d never seen his reflection, he couldn’t be sure. He was happy to believe he looked like William, but this face peering up at him was somehow blurred, contorted with anger and distress.
“I’m fine, Slayer,” he muttered. “Just love being divided up, gutted and thrown about like some bloody toy soldier.”
“Spike?” It was William, speaking softly. “Be very careful. Don’t frighten our brother.”
“Me frighten him? Bloody hell. You‘re not the one sitting two feet away from him, mate!”
Suddenly a blanket was pushed through the bars. Spike looked up and nodded at Dawn. Trust Niblet to think of the practicalities of the situation, or perhaps she just didn’t want to look at Demon Boy’s demon bits and pieces. Not that she could see them because he was still crouched over, but – He realised he was rambling in his head, but he felt weird. Sort of swimmy. Ill. Which was ridiculous because vampires never felt ill. Pain, yes, they did pain in a big way. But not ill. Gently he pushed the blanket over the demon’s shoulders.
“Can he speak?” That was Willow, curiosity aching in every tone of her voice.
“Kill!” The sound grated through the basement.
Spike shrugged. “Reckon so, Red.”
“Does he have a name?”
Spike glared at her. “This isn’t a sodding cocktail party! How the hell do I know if he has a name?”
“Kill!” The sound was even angrier, vicious.
“OK, mate. Calm down. Buffy?”
“Can you get everyone out of here, except you and William? He doesn‘t like being looked at.”
“How do you know what he likes?” said Xander indignantly. “If you think we’re going to leave Buffy alone with the three of you creatures – ”
How did he know? Spike wasn’t sure, but he glanced through the bars to where William was standing and knew he felt the same. Demon boy was freaked out by the audience watching him. And he knew this. Inside his head, in his blood, he knew this. “William?” His tone was almost pleading.
“Miss Buffy, we need to have the basement to ourselves.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“No, Spike wants you to stay. So do I and so does Demon.”
“What?” Her hazel eyes widened as Willow, Dawn and Xander grumbled their way upstairs.
“You have to trust us.” The blue eyes that were so Spike’s but somehow softer, less demanding, urged her to listen to what he was asking.
“OK. What do you want to do?”
William turned to Spike who still hadn’t moved away from Demon’s side. “Out?”
Spike nodded. “He can’t stand being shut in a cage. He can’t think until he’s free. You have to let us release him, Buffy.”
She stared down at the crouching naked figure that looked so like – and shook her head. “No way. Come on, Spike. He’s pure demon. Your demon. Anything we need to do will have to be done inside the cage. I can’t chance him getting away.”
Spike moved to the bars. He needed to convince her, but not with the other two watching. As if he was reading his mind, William walked towards him.
“You come out, Spike. I’ll sit with him.”
Spike hesitated. Could William control Demon? No, if Demon decided to attack, William wouldn’t stand a chance.
“He won’t hurt me,” William said confidently and untied the ropes Xander had used to hold the two metal doors together.
Spike slid out of the cage as Demon raised his head, teeth bared, a growl of “Kill!” shaking his whole body. William walked slowly inside and crouched down next to the blanket-covered body. Spike held the breath he didn’t need as William tentatively reached out a hand. For a long minute nothing happened, then thin yellowy fingers reached out and twisted in desperation around the white hand that was so similar and touching his naked knee.
Buffy realised she was trembling as Spike’s arm swung round her shoulders and she gave herself up, for the first time in so long, to the comfort of his embrace. “Is he – you – the three of you – are you OK?”
Spike tightened his grip, burying his face in her hair, then realised he was swaying. She pulled back, glancing sharply at him, and her hands grasped his arms, holding him upright. “What‘s the matter?”
“Don’t know, Goldilocks. Feel sort of weak and wobbly.”
Leaning against her, he let her half carry him across to the other side of the basement. He half fell, half slid onto the pile of old blankets that were stacked in a corner and had proved so useful to Dawn earlier.
Buffy sat down next to him. “Spike! What’s wrong? What have I done?”
With an effort he raised his head – he was so tired, all he wanted to do was sleep and sleep. He felt as weak as a kitten. Kittens! Somewhere in the depths of his brain, he knew kittens meant something important to him. But not to him, to the part of him that was still crouched inside the cage.
“Two of us managed to survive being split, pet. But now we’ve become three – I just don’t bloody well know if we can.”
Buffy found she was running her fingers through the tight platinum curls. It was terrifying, seeing Spike weakened, without any strength. But that was what the demon gave him. And all that part had been extracted from his body and given a shape, a human form. So what was left – oh god, was he dying? Was William?
She forced herself to think, to remember why she’d used the dividing rod on Spike. “You three have to do the charm, Spike. We can’t wait. The Master has to be sent to an alternative universe or else – ”
“You’ll have to kill him and then all us Aurealians perish! You don’t have to tell me, pet. I’ve got the message, loud and clear. I just don’t know how we’re going to do it because, not to sound too cheesy and dramatic, luv, I think I’m dying anyway.” His head fell back against the wall and she winced at how ill he looked.
“I’m so sorry, Spike. I thought when he arrived, the demon would be like, well, like you and William. A person, talking, someone you could explain things to, ask for his help.”
Spike laughed wearily, a thin sound that tore at her heart. “Explain? You can try, pet. I just don’t know if he’ll understand. He’s not human if he’s got a human form; he’s pure demon. His whole reason for being is to kill.”
“But he’s been part of you all these years. You’ve controlled him.”
Spike looked at her. “Chipped, pet, remember? That’s what’s been controlling him lately.”
Buffy shook her head. She didn’t fully believe that. OK, Spike had been chipped so he couldn’t kill anyone, but before that there had been little signs, times when he could have slaughtered out of hand, and he hadn’t. Surely if the demon had been nothing but a killing machine, he wouldn’t have hesitated? No, she couldn’t, wouldn’t believe that. “Does he – can he recognise things, people? Would he know who I am?”
Spike‘s eyes glazed and for a dreadful moment she thought he’d faded away. Then she realised he was trying to ‘feel’ for the demon in his head.
“Not sure, Slayer. Now he’d not inside me, I can’t tell as much. I knew he didn’t like being watched, but maybe that was just because I don’t like being watched!”
Buffy stood up, looking grim. “Stay here. Rest. I’m going to talk to him.”
“Slayer – be careful. Stay close to William. He – ” an odd look of remembrance came into his eyes – “he loves William. He won’t hurt him.”
She stood up, then stopped as his arm shot out and with the last of his strength he grabbed her hand. “Buffy – don’t – hurt him. I can’t let you – hurt him.”
She touched his cheek, just once, wanting to promise, but unable to do so. This was a race against time: the charm had to work or one way or the other she was going to lose Spike.
She hurried over to the makeshift cage. The demon hadn’t moved, nor had William. But he looked as pale and sick as Spike. Whatever was happening, it was killing all three of them. “William!” she called softly.
“Miss Buffy. How is Spike? He feels – sad.”
“You can read his mind?”
William shook his head. “No, just his feelings. Like he can mine. And our brother here.“
“But why are you sick, William? You didn’t have the demon inside you? You were in Spike! I don’t understand.” She shook the bars, then stopped, guiltily as they moved under the strength of her grip.
William turned his head and gave her that particular sweet smile that was his alone. She wondered sadly why she hadn’t been able to fall in love with him. Make love with him – OK, no problem. Hot and sweet and magnificent – once he’d learnt which way was up, so to speak. But even in the glory of the sex they’d shared, she’d known he wasn’t Spike, wasn’t the man she was destined to love.
“I can’t exist without Spike and Spike can’t exist without Demon,” William said patiently, as if he was teaching a simple Latin sentence to a schoolgirl.
“For someone who hasn’t been a vampire for very long, you seem to understand better than Spike who’s had over a hundred years of it.”
“We’re three parts of the whole – just as the charm said. Love, desire and need.” He gasped suddenly, his eyes closed and swaying, he fell forwards onto his knees.
Buffy pulled open the door and entered the cage. As she dragged William to one side, his hand slid out of the demon’s, who threw back his head and howled. The blanket slid down round his waist and he glared up at Buffy, yellow eyes under a tangle of dirty hair, Spike’s face but blurred, twisted.
“Kill!” The word grated out and for a second she hesitated. She had a stake, but what use would that be against this thing? And if she did destroy it, that would finish Spike and William. They would both die. They were dying already. She could feel that with every nerve in her body.
William had collapsed completely, curled up in a ball on the far side of the cage; and she could just see Spike, trying to drag himself towards her across the basement floor. But there wasn’t any time; this was all her doing, she was the one who had to see it through.
Buffy sank to the floor and, without flinching, reached over to take Demon’s hand between both of hers. It felt thin, dry and bony, the nails long and jagged. Even as she watched, another growl broke from his lips and the mouth that was a mockery of the one she loved so much, twisted, fangs reaching towards her neck.
She eased back, fighting the desire to kill this thing with one swift twist of its scrawny neck. “Demon – listen to me – do you know me? I’m Buffy Summers. I’m – I’m a friend of Spike and William. And I need your help!”
To be continued
Author's note: Do hope you are enjoying the story. Thank you for all comments and kudos.