Chp 19: Mine!
“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”
"Demon – listen – do you know me? My name’s Buffy. I’m – I’m a friend of Spike and William. And I need your help! We all need your help."
As Buffy reached out again to take Demon’s hand, Spike groaned and dragged himself closer to the cage. He could feel whatever force kept him alive draining out of him. All he was now was a shell, an empty vessel echoing in a terror of loneliness without William and Demon to keep him company. But he had to get to his girl; someone had to protect her from Demon, protect Demon from her, and there was no response from William – his grip on this world seemed even lighter than Spike’s.
"Demon." Her voice was suddenly gentle – and Spike felt tears glaze his eyes. When had she ever been gentle with him? There was a note of something in her tone – he crawled another few inches – then stopped, his limbs refusing to work. "Demon – please answer me. I know you’re afraid but you have to help us. All of us." And Spike knew what the elusive note was – tenderness.
Buffy tried not to flinch as the yellow, feral eyes blazed up into hers from amongst the tangles of hair. She felt a surge of pity for this creature; it was so lost, so scared, so helpless. Except, of course, it wasn’t. She knew very well that those jagged fingernails would take out her eyes in a slashing second, that the broken fangs would fasten on her neck and drain her blood in a moment. Forcing herself to stay calm, she said, "OK, yes, Slayer here, but still a friend to William and Spike. And you."
With the power of his will alone, Spike raised his head and forced himself forward one more time. If he could just reach William – "Buffy!" His voice was no more than a croak. "Don’t get too close. He doesn’t understand – he – "
Demon twisted suddenly and stood up, crouching now against the basement wall. Buffy started to move away, then hesitated and forced herself to remain still. She held out her hand, palm upwards and with a thrill of horror, watched as he reached out, took her hand and lifted it to his nose to sniff her skin. She felt herself beginning to tremble and slowly reached behind her back to where a stake was jammed into her waistband. One wrong move and she’d –
Then she shuddered. Demon’s tongue had slid out and he was licking her palm. And it was Spike’s tongue and William’s, but hot, not cold. Burning, tracing a pattern on her skin in heat the way the other two had done with cold. She couldn’t pull her hand away, and with a sensation of horror she realised she didn’t want to. Of all the things that had happened to her recently, this was the most terrifying; her body reacting in the same way to Demon as it did to Spike and William. Her blood speaking to his as it did to theirs.
The shaggy head lifted, the yellow eyes burnt into hers. "Slayer – Demon," it hissed. "Mine!"
Buffy shuddered. "Yes, Demon, yours. Now will you help me?"
"Buffy - " Spike had reached the cage and was lying slumped over William’s body. "You need to do the charm soon. I don’t think we’re going to hold out long."
"I’m trying. He’s – I don’t know if he understands what I’m saying. Spike, I need you to help."
William was floating in a dark, empty place. Far away he could hear a voice calling to him, but he couldn’t hear what it was saying or who it was. He was lost – there was that dreadful understanding that he should be somewhere, with someone and not knowing who. He knew he loved, ached with love for – for – for the others! Yes, that was it, the other brothers that made him whole. He was lost but they were looking for him…
Spike cupped William’s face in his hands, running his fingers over the closed lids. “Wake up, William. Bloody well, wake up! You can sleep when this is all over. Demon needs you. We both need you, so sodding well, open your eyes.”
Suspended in nothing, William could hear the voice he trusted the most calling to him. But he was so tired; he just wanted to sleep and sleep. He must have stayed out so late at Cecily’s party last night. Mother would be cross if he didn’t wake up. It was Sunday. They were due at church and still the voice wouldn’t let him rest. He was needed, he had to fight, he couldn’t sleep because – because Spike needed him to be awake. With a moan he forced himself upwards, through the dark clinging webs of half death that were trying to pull him down. But there was the face he knew so well, peering down at him, hard fingers patting his face, bright blue eyes shadowed but concerned – and with a gasp he was back and so were his memories of what had happened.
“Spike - Demon?”
“Alive, but I don’t know for how long. Buffy needs us three to be conscious. We’ve got to do the charm again.”
William clambered to his feet, swaying violently, but pushing aside Spike’s help. “Leave me. Take care of yourself. I can stand. But I fear I am not long for this world. Mother will be so upset if I fail to return. We have proved a great disappointment to her, brother.”
Spike laughed, then draped his arm over William’s shoulders and turned to Buffy and Demon. “Stand back, pet. We’ll take care of him. Get the bloody charm ready – quick.”
Buffy gazed into the dark blue eyes she loved, then into the softer sapphire gaze that she liked and admired. “I’ll be as fast as I can. We’ll bring all Willow’s paraphernalia down here. Just hold on – all of you.”
She turned to leave, but with a speed that took them all by surprise, Demon shot out a bony arm and caught her left arm just below the shoulder. “Mine!” he hissed, glaring at the other two, defying them.
There was a long pause, and then Spike slowly lifted his hand, linked it with William’s and covered Demon’s fingers where they dug into Buffy’s flesh. He and William took another step forward and now they surrounded her. “No – Ours!” he stated flatly.
Buffy fought to keep the pain from showing on her face. Her arm had gone numb and she could no longer feel the fingers of her left hand. She was being held so tightly it hurt; three people were standing so close to her she couldn’t move. She could feel the soft fabric of Spike’s T-shirt, the ripple of the muscles moving under it. The weight of William’s thigh was against hers and in front of her, huddled under the old blanket, Demon’s golden eyes gleamed.
And without thinking, she raised her right hand, placed it on top of theirs and said with all the passion that flowed in her Slayer blood, “Mine!”
They were walking in the dark, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder. Their feet made no sound, there was just a cool wind on their faces. She was them and they were her – love surrounded her, ran through her, consumed her, was her. What she felt for them, what they felt for her and each other, it flowed together in a swirling stream until she was unable to tell who was feeling what.
All she knew was that her blood called to theirs, sang the same song, whispered the same words of love, need and desire. The blood in her veins burnt like black honey and she knew if she tilted back her head she could feed on everyone, take what she wanted, and it would be good because they were no longer separate but one whole, the four of them fused, complete – happy –
“Buffy - Buffy! For god’s sake wake up!”
The words sounded a long way away and she shut them out, refused to listen, would not answer, could not hear, would not understand –
“Buffy! It’s Dawn. Please, please come back, Buffy. Please. The Master’s coming and I’m scared.”
Blood calling from the other side, blood they all acknowledged because they were one and shared everything. She felt the bonds loosening, just a fraction, and then the voice was closer, louder and she opened her eyes –
“Oh geez, Willow, she’s conscious. Buffy, are you OK?” Dawn was leaning over her. She seemed to be flat on the floor and struggled to sit up.
“Buffy - what happened? Spike – William – the Demon thing – they look – Buffy, I think they’re dead!”
Willow came hurtling down the stairs, followed by Xander and Anya. They stood, looking nervously down at her as she slowly got to her feet.
Buffy stared down at the bodies and swayed for a second. Dead? Spike dead? Then inside her she felt him stir, felt William and Demon swirling at his side and knew they were not dead. She was carrying whatever they were, whatever made them, inside her. She remembered saying ‘Mine!’, being driven by the demon influence in her Slayer blood to take them and make them hers. And that was exactly what she’d done.
“They’re not dead,” she muttered now, reaching out to stroke Dawn’s hair back from her anxious face. “How long have I been unconscious, Will?”
“About thirty minutes. We didn’t know what to do. The four of you were holding hands and we couldn’t pull you apart. What happened?”
Buffy didn’t answer. She stared at the bodies lying, their heads together, Spike, William and Demon. Three hands still entwined and hers ached to join them, to go back, to be one again. But she couldn’t because – she forced herself to concentrate, ignore the pull, the voices whispering in her head to come back to them, because they loved her.
“Buffy, how are we going to defeat the Master now? We can’t do the charm without Spike and William.” Willow sounded almost angry, as if the fact that her magic was not able to do what the vampires could was scratching at her soul.
“Well, whatever we do, we need to do it fast.” Anya stared at Buffy and then down at the slack bodies on the floor. She had a very good idea what had happened. “The Master and his friends are gathering outside and I don’t think they’re in any mood to wait.”
“We’ll do the charm.” Buffy whispered. “Willow, bring everything down here – the glass globes, everything. Xander – Anya – keep the Master at bay as long as you can. But don’t get yourself killed. Let me deal with him if he gets down the stairs. Dawn – ”
“Don’t tell me to run away and hide!”
Buffy hesitated, the insistent pressure inside her saying, “Keep her safe. Blood of our blood.”
Dawn reached out, her eyes wide with wonder and touched her sister’s face. “They’re inside you!” she gasped suddenly and Buffy realised that of course she would understand in a way the others couldn’t. She’d been made from Buffy’s blood; the trace demon inside her was calling to the other three even now.
Buffy smiled. “We want you safe,” she said at last. “All of us. It’s important, Dawnie. We can’t – function – if you’re in danger. Go out the back way to Spike’s crypt. You’ll be OK there. We’ll come for you as soon as we can. We promise.”
The teenager hesitated; she didn’t fully understand what was happening, but knew this was the only thing she could do to help. She stared down at the bodies on the floor. “Keep them all safe,” she said and turning, hurried away.
Willow clattered down the stairs, clutching a box full of all she needed to build another charm. “I’ve put a barrier up across the door and Xander and Anya will fight him off if they can. But Buffy, how can you do this? I don’t understand because hey, before we had to have the three parts of Spike – love, desire and need.”
Buffy watched as the redhead built the pyramid of white glass globes on the floor of the cage. “They’re not dead, Will,” she said softly. “I’m holding their - well, not souls, but their life force, inside me.”
Willow looked up sharply, her hands jerking and almost sending the glass globes smashing to the floor. Her eyes grew darker and darker. “Buffy, you couldn’t have been so stupid!”
Buffy stared at her best friend, hearing her speak, but not bothered by what she said, wondering why she seemed so distant. Her words were unimportant, had nothing to do with the four of them; what was the point of trying to explain this sensation, this complete belonging. She had loved before, lusted before, but this was deeper, better, sweeter and sharper. Slayer, vampire, human and demon in every sort of combination, flowed through her body and she had never felt so safe, so loved, so strong in all her life.
Screams and crashes sounded from upstairs, then the door was flung open and Xander and Anya half fell down the steps into the basement. “He’s coming, Buffy! Couldn’t stop him,” Xander gasped, waving an axe in front of him.
Willow was pouring the remainder of the charm mixture into the bowl but a vampire lunged down the steps, threw something across the basement that smashed into the bowl sending the mixture spilling out across the glass sphere pyramid.
Buffy dispatched the vamp casually with a back-handed swipe.
“Buffy - we can’t do the spell now. You have to kill The Master!” Willow shouted, backing away.
A freezing chill ran through the basement and Buffy looked up the stairway to where a small, wizened skull on a body that had been old for a very long time began to walk slowly down the steps. The yellow gaze swung round and pinned her like an insect on a board. She felt the endless evil, the delight of being free again, the knowledge that nothing this time could stop him
She retreated until she was standing astride the three bodies on the floor - toes of one foot touching Spike’s head, the heel William’s. Her other foot pressed against Demon's mouth. She hesitated for a second then, inside her she felt the surge of power and knew she didn’t need Willow’s potions.
“Ah, Miss Summers. We meet again.”
Jeez, predictable much! she thought. “Not for long!” she snapped and threw back her head as the Mayan words of the charm poured out of her mouth. She hadn’t remembered them, but William had.
“Buffy! Kill him. You have to kill him. Forget sending him to another dimension. Just kill him!” Willow was yelling but they ignored her. They refused to die. Aurealians all. Never die.
But even as the weird words echoed round the basement, the Master still walked slowly, inexorably towards her, his skeletal hands outstretched but William and Spike held her body steady and they ignored him because the power they shared was growing and growing, love, desire, need, love, desire, need, and with a final scream of defiance they pointed at the globes and with a shattering crash the glass turned black and dissolved into shards.
The Master stopped, his fingers just inches from Buffy’s throat, his feet touching the blanket still lying across Demon’s twisted body. The eyes buried deep inside the skull blazed with killing hate, then slowly the expression changed. Fear, anger, disbelief – all slid across his face and then, with a popping sound that was purely anti-climactic, he vanished.
The other vamps turned and ran, pursued by Xander and Anya with enthusiasm rather than any great hope of catching them. Buffy sank to the floor, her legs unable to hold her up any longer. She could feel Spike cheering, William laughing and Demon – puzzled but happy his loved ones were pleased.
She reached out a trembling hand and stroked the three heads close to her – one with platinum hair that made her fingers long to linger, one with slightly softer curls and the third – dirty, greasy, but loved, just the same. They were her and she was them and that was all that mattered.
“Buffy, you did it!” Willow whispered, stepping forward out of the shadows. “You’ve banished the Master. And you didn’t use the potion. How did you do that?” She sounded almost jealous.
“Not me. Us.”
She glanced up at Willow, her eyes fearful, because she’d suddenly realised she had no idea at all how to get her family back into their bodies.
To be continued