|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Unpexpected!Spike, still lost in William's persona and remembering the hallucinations he shared with Buffy, is faced with horrors beyond his ability to comprehend. When his instinct takes over, will he do something that he will regret? Gift-less!Spike has been awoken, will he be able to offer Buffy anything other than regrets?
Music Referenced: Regrets by Mylene Farmer & Jean-Louis Mourat http://youtu.be/EgkTwP1Pf4M
|Thanks:||Giant thanks to Anona for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Friday, May 6th, 2011, Gift-less Universe:
Angel came to a stop at the door that led into the basement of the mansion on Crawford Street, holding up a hand, silently telling Bess to stop. She stopped just behind him, still holding onto her father’s hand tightly, lest he try to bolt away from the crazy, naked girl.
“What is this place?” William asked, his voice loud in the empty sewer tunnel.
“Shhhhhhh!” Bess admonished him as Angel leaned an ear against the door. She looked back at the man that looked more-or-less like Spike, but talked exactly like William. She could only guess that the bile inside the octopus had burned his hair off, leaving just a short nap of brown instead of his typical peroxided longer locks. The Gem had healed his body, but his hair was just starting to grow back. She held her finger to her lips. Then she quietly whispered, “It’s our house.”
“Our house?” he questioned, keeping his voice lower this time. “I can state unequivocally that I would not tolerate a person such as yourself in my house. You are obviously quite … uncultured. While, as a rule I try not to judge books by their covers, you, my dear, aren’t wearing any covers.”
“Neither are you,” Bess reminded him, raking her eyes up and down his nude form and letting them linger on his free hand, which covered his groin.
William shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny, but lifted his chin defiantly and fought to keep his composure. “Indeed … but I’m quite certain that…”
“Would you two shut up?” Angel hissed at them in a stage whisper. “A vampire can’t hear himself think with all your blabbing.”
Bess and William quieted. William looked at him again with grave misgivings. What a queer thing to say.
Angel put his ear back against the door. After a moment he said, “I don’t hear anything.”
He pushed the door open a crack and peered in. There didn’t seem to be anything … demonic or otherwise, there. He pushed it the rest of the way open and stepped into the dark basement of the mansion.
“Where is everything?” Bess wondered, looking around.
“I don’t know,” Angel murmured as he walked further into the room. “It looks like … well, pretty much like it did when I lived here.”
“What does that mean?” Bess pondered, pulling William into the basement with her.
Angel shook his head but walked fairly purposefully over towards the stairs, however he didn’t start up them. Instead, he bent down, went underneath them, and pulled out a large trunk.
“What’s that?” Bess asked. “How did you know it was there?”
Angel shook his head in bewilderment. “It’s … They’re Drusilla’s clothes. Buffy and I put them down here after…” He looked at William, but there was no recognition on his grand-childe’s face for either name.
Angel opened the trunk and pulled out a floor-length dress. The skirt was crushed velvet the color of rich merlot; the lacy, sleeveless bodice was a brighter red, about the color of blood, over black. He handed it to Bess to put on.
Bess eyed it suspiciously and held it up. “I can’t fight in this,” she protested.
“Never stopped Dru,” Angel mumbled as he continued digging around in the trunk.
Angel snorted softly. “Ask your father when he … snaps out of his retro-phase.”
Bess sighed and pulled it on over her head. It was a bit long for her, but wasn’t too bad of a fit otherwise.
“Well ... this is interesting...” Angel muttered as he stood up and held out a black t-shirt and jeans to William. "Here – these are yours."
William took the proffered clothing by reflex, but looked at them dubiously. “I can say with complete certainty that these are not mine. They appear to belong to a hoodlum or perhaps a … stevedore.”
“Just try them on, Willie,” Angel chided. “It’s better to be a dressed hoodlum than a nude gentlemen, wouldn’t you say?”
William stared at Angel and he felt a strange tightness in his chest. Willie … the Irishman … the monster, had called him Willie.
“Why are Spike’s clothes in here with these women’s clothes?” Bess wondered, looking at Angel.
“Well, apparently, things here aren’t quite the way I remember them,” Angel admitted, pulling on one of Spike’s t-shirts. It barely came down to his navel and girded his arms tightly.
“Not your best look,” Bess told him. “And it doesn’t really cover anything … private,” she pointed out, lowering her eyes to his groin and then back up to his face.
Angel sighed and pulled the shirt off. “I’m going upstairs to see what else is different. Some of my clothes might still be here. And maybe …” he shrugged and let his voice trail off, leaving the ‘maybe door’ hanging wide open. Maybe in this world Spike and Dru had both dusted in the fight over Acathla. Maybe he still lived here. Maybe with Buffy.
“You guys stay here,” he instructed Bess and William. Angel headed up the stairs, stopping to listen at the door before entering the main level of the house.
When he was gone, Bess went to the trunk and began rummaging around more. “Hey – here are some of your boots,” she began, picking them up. When she moved them though, they started falling apart. “Never mind,” she sighed. “Dry rotted.”
“Who is that man?” William asked as he watched her.
“Angel?” Bess questioned, pulling out more long dresses, capes, t-shirts and jeans, even some lacy night clothes and jewelry. “Ooo, look at this!” she exclaimed, pulling out a velvet jewelry box and opening it up. “Rubies!”
She took it out of the box and started to put it on. William took it from her and Bess turned around and lifted her hair up so he could hook it behind her neck.
“How does it look?” she asked when she turned back around, running a finger over it.
An image flashed in William’s mind of an attractive, dark-haired woman wearing that necklace and that dress. He tried to see more of the image, but it was gone almost as quickly as it appeared.
“Uhhh,” William stammered a moment, refocusing. “It’s quite fetching,” he assured her. “Now, do please answer my query. Who is that man?”
“He’s your grand…” Bess stopped. If she said grand-sire, that would only open up ten thousand more questions. “…father.”
William’s brows shot up.
At his confused and questioning look, she silently cursed herself. “I mean, my grandfather,” Bess amended quickly, giving him a nervous smile.
William didn’t believe her, but let it go for the moment. “And where is my Elizabeth? You said you would bring me to her,” he reminded Bess.
“Right – and I will. Angel’s checking to see if she’s here,” Bess stalled, looking anxiously up at the stairs. What was taking him so long?
“I thought he went to retrieve clothing.”
“And check on your wife,” Bess assured him.
“Why don’t I believe you?” William wondered, narrowing his eyes at her.
“Dad,” Bess began softly, taking a step towards him. “Please listen to me now. Your wife, my mother, sent me to find you and bring you to her. We may have gotten a little … lost on the way back, but I swear that I’ll get you home to her, you just have to trust me.”
William stared at her, his eyes narrowed and head tilted to the side, as he considered her words. “Why should I? Why should I believe anything you say? You say you are my daughter, but my daughter, Bess, is but a child. You insist on calling me Spike, a name I am certain I would never assume. You say you know my wife, but you call her a name I’ve never heard. You say you are bringing me to her, yet you lead me to an empty basement.”
“I know it looks a little … wonky,” Bess agreed. “But I swear we’ll find a way out of this. Just please trust me a little while longer.”
“I don’t, at the moment, seem to have any other choice,” William spat out tersely. “But I can say unequivocally that I do not like, nor trust, that man,” he growled, jabbing a finger at the door Angel went through.
Bess almost laughed, but held it in. “Some things never change,” she murmured as she turned around and started looking through the trunk some more.
There wasn’t anything else of interest in there so she dropped the lid back down. Then she noticed that it wasn’t the only trunk hidden under the stairs. She slid the clothing trunk out of the way, and pulled another one out from behind it. This one was locked. She easily broke the lock with a quick jerk of her hand and opened it.
Her eyes went wide with delight. “Weapons!” she exclaimed, picking up a stake and instinctively starting to slide it into the waistband of her jeans … forgetting that she didn’t have on jeans.
“Shoot,” she murmured, trying to remember where she used to carry her stake when she was first Chosen. She went back to the other trunk and pulled out a long, black, shimmering cape that had pockets sewn into it and swung it around her shoulders. Then she stuffed a stake into one pocket and a dagger into the other.
“Here,” she offered, turning to William and handing him a stake as well.
“Do you know what that’s for?” she asked him as he eyed the sharpened wood.
“Certainly. Avengelyne told me of such beings. I even had the … misfortune of meeting one.” William clenched his jaw and swallowed back the memory of his wife dying in his arms after being attacked by the Irish vampire that he’d unwittingly invited into his home. The one that had an uncanny resemblance to their traveling companion.
“Good,” Bess replied, as she turned her attention back to the weapons trunk, not picking up on his distress at all. “Don’t be afraid to use it.”
“Here, you can have this too,” she called over her shoulder, pulling out a broadsword from the trunk, then turning around to hand it to him.
William looked at her blankly. “I do not have any experience with such a weapon. I did some fencing when I was a lad, perhaps you have a foil?”
“A foil?” Bess questioned, looking at him like he was, well … crazy. “This isn’t fencing, this is a brawl,” she informed him. “Stevedores don’t use foils, they use broadswords.”
“Do you have any idea what a stevedore is, young lady?” he asked, taking the sword from her hand. The weight surprised him – he thought it would be quite heavy, but he wielded it easily. He took a few practice swipes in the air with it.
“Of course I do! It’s a Spanish guy in tights and a gaudy jacket with epaulettes. They wear Mickey Mouse ears and fight bulls,” Bess replied as she bent back over the weapons chest. “It’s not a fair fight. I’m personally opposed to unfair fights. I even signed a petition once – denouncing unfair fights.”
William stopped swinging the sword and stared solidly at her back. That sounded like something his Elizabeth would say. In fact, if he’d closed his eyes, he could see his wife’s indignant expression as if she were insulted that he would even ask such a thing.
William was just about to say something about that when Angel came rushing back through the basement door at the top of the stairs.
“Let’s go!” he commanded as he leapt down from the top of the landing all the way to the basement floor. He was still nude. “Those demons are swarming the house!”
“Here! Weapons!” Bess called quickly, tossing him a double-edged axe and then a stake, and grabbing a machete for herself.
“Let’s go, William,” Bess urged, grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the sewer entrance.
The door to the sewers suddenly flew open and banged against the wall behind it with a thunderous clatter. At the same time, the door above that led to the house proper crashed open as well.
Reds began to stream in from both fronts. Bess, Angel, and William were trapped between the devil and the … devil.
“Thank Yoda!” Andrew exclaimed in glee, jumping up and down and clapping his hands giddily when he heard Spike’s voice. The vamp’s words were deep and rough from disuse, but coherent. He was awake.
“Blood from the Slayer of the Vampyrs: the only elixir with the power and passion to wake the handsome, sleeping warrior. The sweet red wine of his mortal enemy and one true love proves to be the only balm rich enough to soothe his restless spirit and deliver him from his self-imposed prison of eternal torment.
“Like Gandalf the White, resurrected from the pit of the Balrog, our own creature of the night, el creatro del noche, has arisen, more beautiful than ever…”
“Please stop!” Buffy and Spike exclaimed in unison.
Andrew spoke dreamily, folding his hands together under his chin as he looked off into space. “But it’s so … beautiful. So romantic … like Romeo and Juliet, Princess Leia and Han Solo, Clark Kent and Lois ...”
“If you don’t stop your bloody yammering, I’ll bite you,” Spike threatened as he started to sit up.
“And then I’ll pummel you,” Buffy added, giving Andrew a saccharine smile.
Andrew snorted, folded his arms over his chest, turned on his heel, and started walking out of the room. “Why do I even bother?” he muttered under his breath, shaking his head in frustration as he left them alone.
Buffy helped Spike sit up, placing one hand under his arm. “What the bloody hell are ya’ doing here, Slayer?” Spike asked angrily. “What the hell am I doin’ here for that soddin’ matter!?”
Buffy gave him the best innocent smile she could manage, but didn’t answer. She wasn’t actually sure of the answer to either question.
“Don’t tell me you came back just to save me!” he growled at her. “You stubborn, stupid bint!”
“Noooo … I didn’t save you, I just woke you up. Your savior is the Chatty Cathy Dungeon Master there,” Buffy informed Spike, backing up a step and waving her arm toward the doorway Andrew just exited through.
“Oh, bloody hell,” Spike moaned, rubbing his eyes with one hand, then running it over his face jerkily. “Saved by the poofter. Could my life get any more pathetic?”
Finally, he looked back at Buffy. “That don’t explain what you’re doin’ here,” he pointed out.
Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I don’t actually know how I got back here,” she admitted. “I was taking the garbage cans out to the curb and ...” she paused a moment, thinking. “… and there was like this explosion. I could feel it more than see it or hear it. It was everywhere and nowhere at all … like it was coming from inside me, then …” she shook her head, chewing on her bottom lip as she thought. Finally she gave up and shrugged. “Then I was in the bug pit again… The bug’s dead, by the way; the Jedi Knight on your staff apparently slayed it with your blessed sword.”
“Andrew killed Bob?” Spike asked incredulously.
Buffy shrugged. “I think the bug hauled him under the sand. Somehow, he found you and the sword, which he took from you. In his effort to get away, the bug rolled over on him and impaled itself. If you ask him, however, you’ll get a story fit for Grimm’s with ginormous rations of fairy tale mixed with delusions of grandeur, but missing the handy life lesson at the end. Trust me, I’ve heard it. You do not want to go there.”
Spike rolled his eyes. He’d heard enough of Andrew’s stories in the past; Buffy’s version was probably closer to the truth than anything he’d get from the poofter anyway. Loud popping sounds came from his spine as he tilted his head back and forth, stretching his disused muscles. He swung his legs over the edge of the gurney and slid them to the floor.
“Well, we need to get you back ‘ome,” he told her as he began looking around for his duster and sword.
“Yeah … I’m thinking that’s gonna be a little harder than last time,” Buffy informed him.
“Yeah, I know, but we’ll just have to work faster. You don’t have the Platelet to carry, we should be able to move faster. The jib's still in place, I reckon, so we can get the portal open and you gone ‘fore the Reds pick up on it.”
“That’s just it, Spike. We don’t have any way to open the portal without … a Key,” Buffy pointed out, looking at him with a mixture of anger and disappointment.
“You went back after I left Dawn’s room and killed her, didn’t you?” she questioned, even though she already knew the answer.
Spike stopped looking around and turned back to face her. He blew out a deep breath and shook his head regretfully. “Had to, Slayer. We weren’t comin’ back from that,” he admitted with a shaky voice.
“And yet, here you are … and Dawn’s dead.”
Spike pursed his lips together and narrowed his eyes at her. “Did what I had t’ do. Do you have any idea what would’ve happened to her if the Reds had …” Spike’s voice broke off and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed back his emotions. He suddenly couldn't meet her eyes. “Don’t need you judgin’ me, Slayer. I do enough o’ that all on my bloody own.”
Buffy held up her hands as if in surrender. “Fine, Spike – no judging,” she agreed, her voice softening. She knew he paid a heavy price for what he’d done; he didn’t need her rubbing salt in the festering wound.
“But that still means we have no Key to open the portal – unless you have some stored in a freezer?” she asked hopefully. Spike shook his head, his hands planted on his hips, and his eyes trained on the floor.
“I figured …” Buffy admitted. “So … to continue the good news: you, me, and ‘the poofter’ are all that’s left – I doubt we have enough magic between us to float a pencil. And the other good news is, the Jacks have taken over the rest of the complex – we’re stuck in here and I’m not even sure there’s a bathroom. It could get really stinky.”
“There’s a bathroom!” Andrew interjected, coming back in the room. “But I wouldn’t go in there just now. We have a year’s worth of toilet paper but no air fresheners.”
“Well, thank God for one small favor,” Spike groaned.
Bess pushed her father back into a corner of the basement as Angel turned to face the tall, red-eyed demons that were converging on them from upstairs. The dark vamp began swinging his axe at them in earnest, going for their necks, but often missing and hitting their arms or shoulders.
Once her father was out of the direct line of fire, Bess turned to face the demons flooding in from the sewers. She had an even harder time hitting their necks, being as she was so much shorter than Angel, and the machete wasn’t nearly as long as the axe she’d given him. Damn!
“What the hell are these things?!” Bess screamed out as she slammed her blade into the nearest Red’s stomach and pulled it back out quickly, already swinging towards another advancing demon.
“I don’t…” Angel started when he finally got a perfect shot and decapitated one. The demon burst into sparkling red glitter, which floated down to the floor like twinkling dust motes. “Vampires!” he announced loudly. “They’re vampires!”
Bess’ eyes went wide and a small smile curved the corners of her mouth. “And I’m a Vampire Slayer,” she muttered to herself as she transferred the machete to her left hand and pulled the stake out of the pocket of her cloak.
The dress she was in was limiting her movement, as she’d feared it would, but she had no way to get out of it now. She doubted the tall vampires would give her a time-out for a uniform adjustment. One of the Reds swatted at her head with a large, bony hand. She ducked under it and charged forward with the stake. She embedded it into the vamp’s chest perfectly and … nothing happened.
“What the fuck!?” she exclaimed as the Red screamed in pain, but didn’t dust. “Wood doesn’t dust them!” she yelled at Angel, who had his hands full with a horde of his own.
The vamp she’d staked recovered from the pain of the wood shoved into its chest and wrapped its arms around her, pulling her up towards its bright red lips and long, sharp fangs. Bess swung the machete in her left hand and it came around and embedded into the vamp’s lower back. It shrieked an ear-splitting cry and dropped her as it reached backwards towards the blade that was embedded in its spine.
Just as Bess escaped that demon’s hold, two more came up from each side of her and converged on her at once. She tried to pull the machete out of the first one’s spine, but was knocked down onto the floor by the other two before she could.
“Spike!” she screamed at her father, who was watching the mayhem from the corner, his eyes wide with fear and disbelief. “Help me!”
William watched the large creatures knock the girl down and he swallowed hard. There were so many of them and they were so large! He gripped the hilt of the sword she’d given him with both hands. He was holding it so tightly that his fingers ached with the strain, his knuckles colored a ghostly white as all the blood was forced out of them.
“Spike!” she screamed again as she retrieved the dagger she’d put into her other pocket. Bess was a blur of flailing arms and legs as she fought against the larger, stronger beasts, slashing at them with the dagger.
Her efforts paid off and gained her a bit of space to fight. She stabbed up at one of the large, wiry vamps that was atop her and embedded the dagger in its hard, flat stomach. The red-eyed vamp screamed a glass-shattering shriek and jerked back away from her as blood spurted from the wound.
Bess twisted the dagger once and then yanked out, bringing another piercing screech from the demon’s red lips. When it pulled back from her, she punched the wounded vamp in the jaw with her free hand, sending it sprawling onto the floor. Dazed, the demon tumbled off Bess and rolled several feet away, directly towards William.
The vamp held long, thin fingers over the wound in its abdomen and began to get back to its feet and rejoin the fray when it saw William standing there. For moment, the two just looked at each other, William’s blue eyes locked onto the smoldering red of the tall demon. The vamp lifted its face and sniffed. Its eyes fell slowly closed as if it just had breathed in something wonderfully, mouth-wateringly delicious. William was afraid that what it smelled was his absolute terror.
The Red opened its eyes languidly, as if coming down from a high, and its bright red lips curled into an evil grin. “Sssspike…” the demon hissed at him as the fire behind its eyes flared brighter.
William’s eyes went wide with fear and shock. Why did everyone insist on calling him that – even the blasted demons? The Red started to rise and move towards William, who was backed into a corner of the basement. William tried to scream out for help but couldn’t get any sound out past his heart, which had, quite inconveniently, lodged in his throat. Before the wounded Red could get up from its knees, William sucked in a deep, shaky breath, raised the sword with both hands, and came down with all his strength on the demon’s neck.
Despite his terror, his aim was true. The demon burst into red sparkles and floated lazily to the floor of the basement. William squealed in glee, “I did it! Did you see? Bess! I did it!” he exclaimed as he moved forward a step.
But Bess didn’t see. “Dear Lord!” William exclaimed when he looked back at her; she was covered with four of the giant monsters.
Something instinctual took over at that moment for William. He suddenly felt just the same way he had that day when the Irish vampire had invaded his home – desperately protective. He hadn’t been able to save Theresa or Cassandra that day, and he hadn’t been able to save the one woman in the world he loved more than life itself. Despite knowing that he couldn’t possibly win this fight either – the odds were simply too overwhelming – he had no choice but to try.
William moved without thinking, his demon rising without him even realizing it. He swung the sword down at the neck of the closest Red, dusting it cleanly. When William began moving, wielding his sword and dusting Reds, the flow of demons into the basement slowed to a trickle and some of the large demons that were there began retreating.
Over the last few days, rumors had spread through all the Reds' clans that the traitorous vamp who had been the single deadliest thorn in their side was dust. He didn’t look too dusty just now.
When the last of the demons that had been atop her was nothing but sparkling red glitter covering Bess’ velvet and lace dress, she rolled back past William, who had taken over the fight on her front. She stopped when she hit the wall of the basement and pressed her palm down on the worst of her wounds: a large, deep bite on her neck.
Her whole body ached from the punches and kicks she’d endured, and her brain was fuzzy from some blows she’d taken to the head and loss of blood. The small blonde still held her dagger in one hand as she tried to staunch the bleeding with the other. She took a few ragged breaths to calm herself. If her heart still needed to beat, it would’ve been racing out of her chest about now. She hadn’t been that close to defeat since …
She squeezed her eyes closed and willed herself to not think that way. Don’t think about the Tower Gardens or defeat. That was in the past. Spike was here – nothing like that was going to happen again. She wasn’t alone anymore.
After gathering her wits and calming herself for a few more moments, she dared a glance at the two men who were now fighting the large red-eyed demons. There were only three of the tall vamps left in the basement; the rest had either retreated or were piles of glittery dust on the floor.
When the last of the vamps that William was fighting exploded into dust, he turned back to Bess. “Are you injured?” he asked with concern as he moved quickly across the floor towards her.
“I’ll be alright,” she assured him. She didn’t really sound completely sure, though. She was lying as still as possible, her back pressed against the wall, her hand still pressed down on the wound on her neck. “Your fencing lessons … seemed to have … paid off,” she stuttered, her voice barely over a whisper.
William dropped into a squat in front of her, his yellow eyes wide with adrenaline from the fight. “Did you see? I honestly don’t know how I…” he stopped and shook his head, not able to comprehend how he’d been able to fight so effectively. “They turn into … red fairy dust. Isn’t that the queerest thing?” he asked her, picking up some of the glitter from the floor and letting it fall through his fingers.
Bess started to nod, but stopped abruptly – it made her head spin. She closed her eyes to try and get the woozy feeling to clear. “Yeah … queer,” was all she could choke out past the dizziness and pain that shot out from the gaping wound on the side of her throat.
Angel finally finished off the last Red he’d been fighting and walked over to the other two. “We probably need to find somewhere else to hold up until we can figure this out,” he suggested. “Maybe the Magic Box or … Revello Drive. There’s nothing here. Buffy hasn’t been here in a long time – no one has.”
William turned to look at Angel when he spoke and that feeling of his heart being lodged in his throat returned. Angel’s brow was ridged, his sharp, deadly fangs protruded from his lips, and his demonic, yellow eyes looked down on William and Bess.
“You!” William snarled at him. “It was you!” he accused, lifting his sword deftly and placing it at the base of Angel’s throat. “You killed them!”
“What the hell are you talking about now, Spike?” Angel asked incredulously, taking a step back. “They were trying to kill us! They’re demons!”
William sprang up to his feet and stalked towards the larger vamp, his sword trained on the larger man’s throat. Angel began to raise his axe slowly as he continued backing up and away from his grand-childe.
“William, no!” Bess called from behind him, but William didn’t respond; he didn’t stop or turn back towards her.
William’s mind whirled and spun as the memory of worst day of his life ran rampant within him, as if it were playing out all over again in front of his eyes. How could he have not realized before? Yes, the hair was different, the accent was gone … but this was him. Now that the monster had revealed its demonic self, William knew with utter certainty that this was the vampire that had ripped his heart out by taking his wife’s life.
“They were people! They were alive and vibrant and … beautiful people and you!” William seethed at Angel as he closed in on the larger vamp. “You killed them! You took her away from me, and now you’re trying to trick me. Telling me that she sent you and that you’d bring me to her here. What sort of game are you playing at?”
“Spike,” Angel started scornfully.
“STOP CALLING ME THAT!” William screamed at him, pressing the tip of his sword against the hollow at the base of the larger vamp’s throat.
“William, don’t,” Bess called again from behind him. The effort of saying the words so loudly made her head swim. Despite the wooziness, she knew she needed to stand, to go to him and calm him down. She pushed herself to her knees, taking deep breaths as her head began to whirl faster even as her body became more sluggish. She reached up and touched a knot the size of a goose egg on the back of her skull. She jerked her fingers away quickly as a sharp pain stabbed into her brain from the light pressure of her fingertips against the bulging hematoma.
She closed her eyes and rose to her feet unsteadily, still breathing deeply to try and stop the tornado that swirled in her mind. The breathing really didn’t help, but it was something to do, the only thing she could think of. Her stomach roiled and she swayed like a drunken sailor as she tried to stand upright. Reaching a hand out, she balanced herself against the basement wall, and willed the floor to stop tilting beneath her. It worked … a little.
After a moment, Bess took one tentative step towards the two arguing vamps, but her foot tangled in the long hem of her skirt and she tripped. She reached out towards the wall and tried to catch herself, but only succeeded in turning her body so that she was no longer falling forward, but backwards instead. She crumpled in a heap of bloodied velvet and lace on the floor of the basement, a couple of feet away from the wall. The goose egg on the back of her head slammed into the hard concrete and sent black tendrils of agony out in all directions. When the dark fingers of pain reached her eyes, they pressed in and forced her lids closed. Bess fought it for a moment, but her swimming mind and aching body finally gave into the relief that unconsciousness promised.
William barely noticed the movement behind him, his focus entirely on the vamp he held at the end of his sword. “Tell me why,” he demanded of Angel.
“Sp…William,” Angel began through clenched teeth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Why did you kill them? Why did you kill Elizabeth? Tell. Me. Why,” William hissed, the last words coming as short, hot explosions of fury. The grief and guilt over his wife’s death had morphed into unbridled anger at the monster who William knew, without one shadow of a doubt, had killed her.
“I didn’t kill anyone,” Angel insisted. His back was against the wall, literally and figuratively. He didn’t know what Spike was talking about. What he did know was Spike’s addled mind was going to get them all dusted.
“You killed the woman that was my destiny!” William screamed at him, pressing the blade harder against Angel’s throat and drawing a trickle of blood.
“You killed Dru, you dumbass!” Angel informed him tersely, moving his free hand across his body slowly and setting it in a firm grip on the handle of his axe.
“I’ve never killed anyone in my life … except you,” William retorted, his voice growing calmer, colder as he focused his anger. “You are a monster.”
“You always were a bit simple, Willie,” Angel snarled as he reached the end of his patience, his own anger growing. “People in glass houses...”
Keeping his head nearly still, Angel turned his shoulders and torso quickly to his right, the side the axe was on, then back again, swinging the blade at William’s left arm and the sword he held there.
William reacted instantly, instinctively, not having time to think, and blocked the blow with the blade of the sword. The handle of the axe banged against the blade loudly in the cavernous basement. Angel took the opportunity to move away from the wall and backed into the center of the room, keeping his eyes trained on the smaller vamp. William turned as Angel moved, keeping his eyes on him the whole way, as well. The two men began circling each other slowly, stalking each other, looking for an opening, readying their weapons for another strike.
“You really don’t want to do this, William,” Angel advised the younger vamp as he moved slowly to his right, looking for an opening. “You’ll never win. You’ve never been able to beat me.”
“Do not mistake me, Liam,” William retorted, practically spitting Angel’s human name. “It appears I am quite capable. Do you not see the sparkling dust at your feet? Avengelyne told me of her life slaying monsters like you, I am not ignorant of your kind.”
“Who the fuck is Avengelyne?” Angel demanded, never taking his eyes off his adversary.
“She is the woman you killed in my home … or one of them. Have you slain so many that you cannot remember their faces or their names any longer? I assure you, their husbands and sons, fathers and brothers, remember yours quite succinctly.”
“I was never in your home, William,” Angel asserted. “You killed your wife!”
William’s eyes blazed. The smoldering hate and anger inside him was fanned by the monster not even remembering the lives he took. How dare he lay the blame for that atrocity at William’s feet?
The monster had stolen Elizabeth’s pure, angelic love from him and the children: stolen her smile, her laughter, her stories, and joy from them. Suddenly there was an inferno billowing within William, an inferno demanding release. His emotions took over and pushed his logical mind back, leaving only instinct and raw hatred in its stead. This was no time to think or talk; this was time to act.
He lunged forward and swung his blade savagely at Angel’s neck. Angel blocked it deftly with the handle of the axe. The larger vamp then used the momentum and spun around in the opposite direction, faster than a human eye would’ve been able to see, and leveled his weapon’s blade at William’s neck. The blade hissed through the air in a wide arc, nothing more than a blur in the dark basement. William ducked at the last second. The axe whizzed past his head. If his hair had been longer, it would’ve given him a new ‘do. As it was, it simply raked across the ends of his short, dark buzz.
In a crouch, William pulled his sword back and jammed it straight ahead towards Angel’s torso, but the momentum of Angel’s swing carried him away – out of reach. Angel swung back around and the two men began stalking each other again with feline grace and predatory senses, looking for another opening.
Angel made the first move this time, hefting the axe above his head and coming straight down towards the top of William’s head with it as if he were splitting wood. William deflected the blow with his sword, and the two vamps traded several thrusts and parries with their weapons clanging together violently. As William blocked one particularly heavy blow from Angel’s axe, the blade smashed down and lodged into the floor. Before Angel could free it and lift it back up, William stomped down on the handle savagely with his bare foot.
Although the axe handle was made of strong, close-grained hickory wood, all the blows from William’s sword had weakened it. When his foot crashed against it, with all the demonic power of his adrenaline and rage, the handle splintered. Angel pulled back nothing but eighteen inches of wood; the blade of the axe was still fixed solidly in the floor.
Despite the splinters embedded in the bottom of his foot, William smirked and narrowed his eyes at his adversary. He lifted the sword as if to come straight down atop Angel with the sharp blade and Angel lifted the broken handle, putting one hand on each end of it, to block the blow. At the last moment, William whipped the sword in a semi-circle and arced it into Angel’s left forearm.
Angel screamed out, dropped the broken handle, and grabbed for the deep gash in his arm. Blood poured from the bone-deep wound and splattered his naked body as well as William’s black t-shirt and jeans. Angel began backing up away from William, looking around desperately for a new weapon to use against him.
It suddenly occurred to Angel that this vamp he was fighting had the Gem of Amarra … somewhere. How could he have forgotten that? “Son of a bitch,” he muttered to himself, realizing that no matter what weapon he found, short of a nuclear bomb, it would do him no good.
He held his arms up in surrender, still clutching the gaping wound in his left arm with his right. “Ok, William, you win,” he cajoled as he continued backing up towards the stairs that lead up to the first floor of the mansion.
William strode forward, sword pulled back, cocked, ready to strike. “You aren't as simple as you appear on first glance,” he agreed as Angel’s back hit the wall next to the stairs.
William lunged forward then, spun three hundred and sixty degrees, and brought the sword around in a full circle, gathering momentum as he went. It cut through Angel’s arms, severing them with a gruesome crunch of bone, and tearing of skin and muscle. For the briefest of moments, the severed appendages spewed blood into the air like geysers, covering William, as well as the painting the ceiling above them, in bright red. Before Angel could even scream out from the pain, the sword continued on its trajectory, only stopping when it was embedded into the wooden wall of the basement at Angel’s back. At that moment, the blood stopped raining down on William.
For just a second, the large vamp’s painful and shocked expression hung in the air before gravity pulled the dark dust to the floor in an undignified heap.
William’s chest heaved with fury and vindication as he brushed the remnants of the monster from his clothes, sending more of Angel’s dust floating in the air. He kicked the pile of ash-like grit, then stomped down on it with his bare feet. Tears began to swim in his eyes and as he kicked and stomped the inert ashes.
As he raged against what was left of the Irishman, his tears coursed down his cheeks in torrents, dripping from his chin in a deluge of guilt and pain and misery. ‘You killed your wife!’ the monster had asserted. And was that not true? Had it not been him whom had invited the monster into his home? Hadn’t he allowed himself to be fooled by the stranger offering assistance? Hadn’t he been unable to defend his household from the monster?
Finally, William dropped down to hands and knees and punched the scattered remains of the monster that took his Avengelyne from him, but in the end, it didn’t make him feel any better. It wouldn’t bring her back; the love of his life was gone forever, and he was complicit in her murder.
After some time … how long he didn’t know, William finally stopped his assault on the now scattered ashes, completely exhausted. He sat back on his heels, raised his head to the ceiling, and howled out a long, mournful cry of frustration, pain, and loneliness.
He didn’t know where he was; he didn’t know how to get back to his family, back to Macaulay Road and his children. The girl’s promise that she was bringing him to his wife had apparently been nothing but a hoax, and killing the monster again hadn’t solved anything.
He closed his eyes and tried to think what to do now.
As he sat there, his heart and soul aching, the memory of Avengelyne’s ghostly voice clambered from the foggy haze of his mind and became clear, as if she were standing right next to him. After the Irish vampire attack, as he’d held his wife’s cold and bloodied body against his and wept, she’d spoken to him. Her lips didn’t move, her eyes never opened, her chest never rose with breath, but it was her voice he’d heard … or the voice of her ghost. The words had made no sense to him at the time, but suddenly they did – and they turned a dagger in the pit of his stomach.
William, listen now. Everything will be alright. Bess and Angel will be there soon. Just … just stay there, William. We’ll … we’ll be together again. Just stay there and wait for Bess and Angel. They’ll bring you to me.
“‘Bess and Angel will be there soon. They’ll bring you to me’,” he repeated aloud, startling himself in the deathly stillness of the basement. “Oh my lord…” he muttered, looking down at the scattered dust beneath his knees. “What have I done?”
William’s eyes flashed with panic and he leapt to his feet. He turned and quickly started back to where he’d last seen Bess, but stopped short. She was gone. He swiveled his head, looking around the empty basement – there really was nowhere she could hide; she wasn’t there. Under the stairs, he thought, turning around abruptly and taking long, purposeful steps towards the stairs. He looked under them where the trunks had been, but she wasn’t there either. He frantically opened the trunks – nothing.
“Bess?” he called out, tentatively.
“Bess!” he called louder, turning in a circle. “Bess, do come out now. I’m … I didn’t know … I … Bess! Please!”
And then he saw it – a piece of velvet from her dress had snagged on a nail near the slightly ajar door that led into the sewers. He practically ran across the basement and flung the door all the way open.
“Bess!” he called down the tunnel, his voice echoing back to him.
He took off running down the tunnel. He had no idea where he was going; he simply had to find her. He had to find the only other person in this insane world that knew him and may know how to get out of here. He called her name time and again, but got no answer as he ran. William ran blindly, turning right and left and right again as he hurtled along, his panic rising higher with each step.
What had he done? Had his unquenchable need for vengeance and retribution cost him his only chance of finding his way home … of finding Avengelyne?
Oh my! William dusted Angel ... again! What happened to Bess? Where did she go? Can William find her? Will Buffy realize that her Spike is near? Will they find each other? What will happen if William and Spike meet? And how are they gonna get out of this mess?
Lots more to come!!
Regrets, by Mylene Farmer & Jean-Louis Mourat
Loin tres loin du monde
Nos âmes se confondent
Oh viens, ne sois plus sage
Debout la tete ivre
Au vent que je devine
N'aie pas ... (Viens ce soir)
Away, far away from the world,
Our souls are connected
Please, don't open this door
You know the trap of feeling bad
and the courses.
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