April 7th, 2008

space2

Finally, Chapter 8 Posted!

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series. WARNING ALERT: While I usually don’t feel the need to include warnings, this story contains disturbing images of injuries sustained during torture. There will also be guy on guy romance (which should be obvious by the Spanderverse moniker), if you find that squicksome. I don’t intend to include such a warning on every story from now on so just assume Gay Content applies.

Notes: Story number eighteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Coming Together”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Songs of Pain and Comfort

Ch 8 – Embracing Spike

 

Xander struggled with Spike’s weight and the tarp that covered them, threatening to blow off in the stiff breeze and leaving Spike in even more serious trouble than he was already in. When it wasn’t threatening to take off on them, it was trying to blind him by falling over his eyes, or trip him up by wrapping around his feet.

 

Finally, he managed to man-handle Spike into the apartment lobby and he divested them of the heavy and bulky black vinyl. Letting it sit for whoever wanted it on the cheap lobby tile, he heaved Spike into the ‘Handicapped Only’ elevator for the ride upstairs.

 

While in the elevator, he ran his eyes over the vampire in his arms, being held up with help from the wall. He looked bad; blood was dried over nearly every surface of exposed skin and his T-shirt was still sporting fresh circles of red wetness. His skin was pale, even for Spike, and had an almost translucent quality to it; like it had grown so thin, it was becoming see-through. Finally, his attention was diverted again to moving the injured vampire when the elevator let them out several doors from his apartment.

 

Is he gonna make it, he wanted to know.

 

We need to get him blood, Xan. Cow and pig isn’t going to cut it. If he were human, he’d be in serious danger of coma and brain damage with this amount of loss, Commando responded.

 

Those pants legs first, guys, Hyena added. That leg is being squeezed like a rat in a python’s grip. I hope vampires don’t get gangrene.

 

As Xander fumbled with the keys to get the door open while not dropping Spike, he managed to come around a little.

 

“Buffy? Buffy is out, Xan, we can’t leave her,” he mumbled.

 

“Shh-shh, it’s alright Spike, we got her out. She’s fine,” he soothed.

 

“Wh-where are we? Where’s Glory, gotta get away before she catches me!”

 

“Spike! Stop struggling! You’re safe, it’s okay. We’re in my apartment. Just relax, let me help you to the bedroom.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

As the other members of the gang slammed noisily into the Magic Box, Anya and Dawn rushed out of their hiding places. Screaming savagely, they waved various implements from the shop at the group.

 

“Anya? And Dawn!? What the hell are you two doing here,” Buffy asked. She’d left them at her house where they were supposed to stay put.

 

“Your house has no decent weapons,” Anya complained.

 

“And we thought, better to be where the magical doo-dads were,” Dawn added. “If I have to fight for my life, I wanted something a little more powerful than a butter knife.”

 

“And you thought throwing Sandlewood incense would help,” Giles asked, exhaustion and amusement vying for dominance.

 

“Incense,” Dawn asked and turned to Anya. “You told me this was ‘Ratareth scales’!”

 

“Well, that was supposed to be what it was,” she complained. “Willow, you’ve been moving things again!”

 

“Never mind that now,” Buffy waved away the coming argument. “This stupid robot weighs a ton. Help us get it downstairs with the other crap. I can’t believe you guys didn’t just leave it behind.”

 

“Xander said Spike wouldn’t leave without it,” Willow informed her.

 

“That figures!”

 

“Buffy,” Tara said with a touch of reproach, “He thought it was you. He’s really out of it. He wouldn’t let Xander leave ‘you’ behind.”

 

“Oh. Well, could someone call Xander’s apartment and check on them? Ask him if Spike can answer any questions. We need to know if Glory is hunting right now for Dawnie. In the meantime, Giles, I’m taking your car over there.”

 

“Y-you will be careful, won’t you? It was rather expensive to buy.”

 

“Okay, for the last time… that accident while you were smooching my mother wasn’t my fault. I’m a good driver.”

 

“Speaking from someone in the passenger seat on the way here, I’d have to disagree,” Giles said with a small smile. “However, you’re right about finding out how much Spike revealed.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

The phone in the apartment rang on until the machine picked it up. In the bedroom, Xander stood over Spike with a pair of large scissors. He’d cut away the pant’s leg and immediately the whole extremity had swollen to twice its usual circumference. He wasn’t sure what he could do about it and Commando chose now to reveal that a Medic’s degree wasn’t in his arsenal of ‘soldier skills’, he could help out a bit, but combat treatment wasn’t his specialty.

 

Xander put that injury aside for the moment and began to cut away Spike’s shirt. The vampire grunted and hissed once when the material pulled away from his skin over his chest. He was attempting to morph, but the action was retarded by the deformity of his face. A moment later and he’d lapsed into a semi-conscious, but still state.

 

Xan hissed himself when he’d seen the damage to Spike’s torso. Clear liquid was leaking from Spike’s nipple, the entire area around it a large open wound. With a bit of effort it appeared they’d be able to remove the whole thing. He felt a wave of nausea, but Commando ordered him harshly to swallow it back.

 

We need sutures, Commando said.

 

What did that bitch do to him, Hyena whimpered/growled.

 

Alright, Commando continued, we’ll need some human blood for him. The sutures and some compress bandages. That hole in his gut needs to be packed and bandaged. His face… well, there’s not much we can do about it. We’ll find out from Giles if ice will help the swelling, but we’ll need to wait before we can see if there’s been damage to his eye. It looks like his nose is full of blood, but I don’t see any fresh. That weeping wound over his chest has me worried, as well as the paperiness of his skin. I hope you can sew, Xan.

 

“We can get that stuff from the Magic Box, except the blood. But I have an idea about that. I’m afraid to leave him though.”

 

We can’t help him just standing here, Hyena opined.

 

As Xander dithered over what to do next, there came a knock at the front door. He quickly crossed the apartment toward whoever had come visiting.

 

Careful! It could be Glory, Hyena warned.

 

“If it was, guys, she’d have already knocked it down.”

 

Her minions, Commando thought.

 

As a second series of knocks sounded, Xander detoured to the kitchen and grabbed a butcher’s knife. When he opened the door, all three of the personalities breathed a sigh of relief to see Buffy… or the robot? She was dressed in Buffybot’s dress and jacket, but the worry in her face seemed all human.

 

“Hey, Xan. I need to see him,” she said as she barreled in.

 

“He’s not very coherent, Buffy,” Xan sighed with irritation. “Can’t this wait until I’ve got him stabilized?”

 

“No. And you know why. I’m sorry Xander and I don’t want to be a bitch, but this is Dawn we’re talking about. I need to know if her secret’s blown or not. If it is… well, then the Hellmouth isn’t shielding her secret anymore and I’ve got to make a run for it.”

 

“Just go easy, huh? I’ve got to get to the Magic Box for supplies. Buffy… if he said anything….”

 

“I know. I saw him and I can’t blame him if he cracked, but I have to know either way. I won’t hurt him, Xander. You have my word as your best friend, okay?”

 

Once Xander left, Buffy took a deep breath and approached the bedroom doorway. She looked in to see Spike tossing and turning restlessly, muttering to himself that Glory was going to get him. It took a lot to suppress a few tears welling in her eyes. He was so hurt; so brutalized but there wasn’t any choice for her.

 

She approached the bed and tried to stir him but when he opened an eye, the only one that could open, he didn’t seem to register her presence. With hesitancy, she reached out and squeezed the abused kneecap, causing a shout of pain from him. But when he looked at her again, he seemed more ‘there’. She somehow managed to smile beamingly, even though inside she felt a little sick.

 

“Hello, Spike! I wasn’t sure I could find you. And here you are, covered in sexy wounds,” she said, hoping she sounded appropriately cheery and blank at once.

 

“Robot? Thought you’d been blasted back at Glory’s.”

 

“My automated systems took some time to re-route my circuitry. I am glad that you are safe now, Spike!”

 

“Safe? Yeah, right, I’m feeling real safe right now. How’d you manage to track me down? I’m surprised the Scoobies didn’t destroy you on the way out of the penthouse’s lobby.”

 

“Oh, they were busy with fleeing. And I found you by checking for you. Are you ready to ravish me now?”

 

She saw Spike grimace and thought she might have seen embarrassment. It was hard to tell what was going on when his face was so distorted by swelling and bruising.

 

“We talked about this, damn it. No more ravishing, no more cuddling, and no more kissing. I shouldn’t have had you built in the first place. Where’s Xander, I remember he was here…,” he groaned and grabbed his knee before hissing with pain. “Damn, but Buffy was right. The godling can hit like a Mack truck on steroids.”

 

“I saw Xander leave a while ago. That’s why I knew I could visit you, Spike. Tell me, why did you let Glory put all these wounds on you?”

 

“Don’t think I’d say I ‘let’ her, but there wasn’t much to do. She wants Dawn’s secret; I couldn’t let her have it.”

 

“Oh! I know that Dawn is the Key, I can go tell her,” Buffy said as she made to turn.

 

“No! NO!” Spike was nearly panicked and Buffy heart cracked a little to see the pain that suddenly raced over his face. Whether it was emotional or physical, she wasn’t sure, but it felt genuine to her.

 

“Glory never finds out. Never, ever for as long as you exist, you bucket of wires. You got that?”

 

“I don’t understand, Spike. If it will save you from further confrontations….”

 

“…I don’t matter,” Spike interrupted. “Only Dawn matters; I took an oath that she’d stay safe. I couldn’t help Joyce, but by Hell’s fire, I will keep her safe.”

 

Buffy wasn’t able to go on with the charade. A tear slipped down her cheek while Spike’s eyes were again closed. He was lying awkwardly in a half-sitting position against some bunched up pillows and was shifting around trying to find a more comfortable position.

 

She approached closer to the mattress and sat down. Wrapping strong arms around him, she lifted him into her and reached around behind to straighten and stack the pillows before leaning him back gently. When she looked into his eyes, she saw his surprised realization.

 

“Buffy?”

 

“Thank you, Spike. Thank you for what you did for Dawn,” she leaned over and kissed him briefly. “I won’t forget it.”

 

As Buffy returned to her feet and went to leave she stopped herself at the door’s edge. “Xander will be back soon with medical gear. We’ll look after you while you heal.”

 

“Buffy, about the robot….”

 

“The robot is gone, Spike,” she said harshly. “The robot was a violation of me. It was sick and it was obscene.”

 

“I didn’t… I wasn’t using it for what you think. I mean, I was, at the beginning. But I’d stopped; I just talked to her… bein’ alone all day in the crypt. It was just nice to have ‘you’ to talk to. I swear to you, that’s all I’ve been doin’.”

 

Buffy sighed and then turned to look him in the eye. “I believe you. But whatever you thought you were doing, Spike, it wasn’t real. But what you did to keep Dawnie safe, that’s real. Your friendships with Xander… and with the rest of us, that’s real too. Don’t forget that.”

 

“I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I… I need to get something off my chest, battered as it is. I think it’s not just friendship with Xander, Buffy. I don’t know what to do; you know me, love’s bitch and all. But I think I might be in love with him.”

 

“What?!”

 

“Yeah. Didn’t realize it, of course. Not ‘til I was hanging from Glory’s ceiling. I’m really fucking things up, here, ain’t I?”

 

“Please promise me,” Spike continued, “You won’t tell him? I need some time to think things through and decide what I’m going to do.”

 

“Spike,” Buffy sighed.

 

Xander wants Spike; Spike wants Xander and I’m the only one that knows about both. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a Slayer prophecy that says all my friends turn gay.

 

“I know it’s a grand mess,” Spike was saying during her thoughts. “I don’t know how to make a little mess,” he snorted.

 

“I won’t say anything about it. I don’t want to get in between whatever is going on with you two, but Spike, you need to talk to him. I mean, really.”

 

“I’ll think about it,” Spike tried to nod before he realized it made the room spin uncomfortably. “Maybe after we defeat Glory’s skanky ass, yeah?”

 

“I gotta get back to Dawn. Xan will be here soon,” Buffy said as she turned to leave again. “Rest, Spike. You took care of her, now it’s our turn to take care of you.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

End Chapter 8

 

space2

Chapter 9 of 10: Songs of Pain and Comfort

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series. WARNING ALERT: While I usually don’t feel the need to include warnings, this story contains disturbing images of injuries sustained during torture. There will also be guy on guy romance (which should be obvious by the Spanderverse moniker), if you find that squicksome. I don’t intend to include such a warning on every story from now on so just assume Gay Content applies.

Notes: Story number eighteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Coming Together”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Songs of Pain and Comfort

Chapter 9 – Donations

 

The Magic Box door opened with a slam and Xander trudged across the expanse of floor without acknowledging anyone in the room. He made a beeline directly for the back portion of the shop, Buffy’s workout room. The gang could hear the opening of drawers and the sounds of things being shuffled about.

 

The gang followed in his wake with Dawn leading. In the room, he was throwing items into a small sack. It appeared to be mostly bandages and cotton pads.

 

“How is he, Xander,” Dawn wanted; no, she needed to know.

 

“He’s hurt pretty bad but I think he’ll be okay. I just need to borrow these supplies for him.”

 

“Of course, Xander, take whatever you need,” Giles stated. “Do you know if he told Glory anything? If Dawn is being tracked down….”

 

“Buffy’s talking to him. She was wearing the ‘Bot’s clothing. Your idea?”

 

Giles nodded.

 

Xander next yanked out tubing and empty plasma bags. As he grabbed a large needle from Giles’ emergency kits, the Watcher frowned.

 

“Xander, what the hell are you doing,” he asked. The Scooby had sat down on a hand-me-down sofa kept against a wall and was trying to line the needle up with a vein in his arm.

 

“He needs blood, Giles. And the butcher’s hand-outs aren’t going to do it this time. I’m donating.”

 

“I’m next,” Dawn immediately exclaimed.

 

“Dawn, I don’t think that’s wise. Feeding Spike human blood could have longer term consequences.”

 

“Giles, I caused this! He was… he’s hurt because of me. I owe him this.”

 

“I’m afraid I must insist that you at least wait for Buffy to return. And my concerns go toward you as well, Xander. This doesn’t seem like a wise move. Spike has been weaned from the taste of human blood for nearly two years, to give him some now….”

 

Xander cut him off harshly as the needle entered his arm. The empty plasma bag began to fill with crimson fluid. “I don’t care! He’s in bad shape and he needs me.”

 

Rupert sighed and turned away, re-entering the front of the shop. Xander glared after him, then turned his attention to the rapidly filling bag. Next to him, Tara sat and she took the tubing and held the needle straight that was still in his arm.

 

“Dawnie, there might be some juice or water in the mini-fridge. Can you check, please? I’ll donate next, but we should use clean needles. Willow, we could use a cooler and some ice for the bags, please.”

 

“I’ll check our herbal supplies,” Anya offered. “Maybe there’s something in stock that can help with healing.”

 

“Thank you, Tara,” Xander smiled when they were alone.

 

“Mr. Giles is just looking after you, Xan. And he’s not wrong; Spike may need human blood to heal, but that doesn’t mean there’s no danger, you know?”

 

“The chip is still there.”

 

“We don’t know that it hasn’t been damaged. I saw his face, he’s taken some strong blows to the head and much as I like Spike, I don’t think we can fully trust him. At least not if the chip has stopped working or if it’s been damaged in some way.”

 

“He won’t hurt us,” Xander said with confidence. “I know him; he won’t hurt us.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Buffy arrived in Giles’ borrowed car and sat for a handful of seconds parked. She wiped at her eyes and marveled that in her life she’d found two vampires who had acted as heroes. One she loved dearly and the other that she was coming to respect.

 

Coming into the shop, she found Giles fiddling with the bric-a-brac on the shelves behind the cash register. He gave her a small tight smile and then turned back to what he was doing.

 

“Did you get your answers,” he asked.

 

“Yeah, we’re good. Where is everyone? Is Dawn doing okay?”

 

“T-they’re in the back. Dawn wants to ask you something; I’ve tried to dissuade her, but she is adamant for a fifteen year old.”

 

“Okay?” Buffy had a small frown as she proceeded to the back room. The vibe she was getting from Giles was disapproving of something and she was almost afraid to know what was going on now.

 

In her work out room, Xander was standing with a cup of orange juice in his hands. Next to him, Anya stood sipping at a cup of tea. Willow was on the sofa and was flinching as a needle drained blood from her arm into a plasma baggie. Obviously they’d broken into the Slayer emergency care kit and it didn’t take much for her to guess why.

 

“Buffy! Thank god you’re here, Giles won’t let me donate,” Dawn complained. “And I’m old enough to make decisions on my own about my own body. And plus, Spike protected me and he needs my help now, and it’s not fair if everyone can give something, but I can’t!”

 

“Take a breath, Dawn,” Buffy said as she stroked her long, brown hair. “First, Spike didn’t break, so ‘the secret’ is still safe. Second, Will and Tara we really need some magic. Just because we broke Spike out, doesn’t mean that she’s done with any of us. In fact, it probably means the opposite. Anya, if your suppliers can come up with anything, I really need you to reach out. Third, Spike is going to need all of us to watch out for him for a while until he can heal up. Xander, can you keep him at your place? I don’t think we should let him go back to his crypt right now.”

 

“I was already planning on moving to the fold out couch. He’ll stay in my room.”

 

“Cool; okay, finally, I think all of us should give up something. Dawn, you can donate if you want, and I’m going to give next. Slayer blood should give him the boost he needs.”

 

“Well, I’ll do what I can to help except for that,” Anya said forthrightly. “I’m sorry, but I agree with Giles; giving Spike the taste for human blood again is dangerous.”

 

“For God’s sake, Anya, he’s not a wild dog!” Xander was glaring at her, but she refused to back down.

 

“No, he worse! He’s a vampire! A vampire and a demon and without a soul. And if he’s staying, then I’m sleeping with that cross he gave you on my bedroom door.”

 

“Okay, guys, fighting isn’t going to help,” Buffy said diplomatically. “Everyone has to make their own decisions about this, Xan. Spike is a demon, still. If Anya doesn’t feel comfortable feeding him blood, then that’s her right. Only a month ago, maybe even a week ago, I might even have agreed with her.”

 

“Giles won’t give either,” Willow said as if she were almost embarrassed to be pointing it out.

 

“He has to have that right,” Buffy re-emphasized. “And what we’re collecting should do the trick, anyway.”

 

When completed, Xander carried a cheap Styrofoam cooler about a fifth full of ice cubes in the bottom. On the ice rested packets of blood.

 

As he made his way toward the door, he glanced over at Giles but the older man avoided meeting his eyes. He could tell by how rigid he was standing, and wiping at his glasses that Giles wasn’t at all happy.

 

Well, fuck him, Hyena thought harshly.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 9

 

space2

Songs of Pain and Comfort, end chapter

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series. WARNING ALERT: While I usually don’t feel the need to include warnings, this story contains disturbing images of injuries sustained during torture. There will also be guy on guy romance (which should be obvious by the Spanderverse moniker), if you find that squicksome. I don’t intend to include such a warning on every story from now on so just assume Gay Content applies.

Notes: Story number eighteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Coming Together”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Songs and Pain and Comfort

Ch 10 – Caring

 

Xan rushed to the bedroom as soon as he got in. Checking in on Spike found the vampire dozing and twitching. He went to the kitchen next and unloaded the packets of blood into the refrigerator, holding onto the one labeled B.S.

 

After pouring as much as would fit into a coffee mug, he popped it into the microwave. It was all so familiar from the times when Spike was staying with him in the basement. He couldn’t even recall why he’d started warming the stuff for him in the first place. Spike had known already how to use a microwave and Xander had had one plugged in downstairs. Somehow though, the vampire had gotten him to do the dirty work and then bring it to him. He smiled at the memory; they couldn’t stand each other then. In fact, he still wasn’t real clear on why he’d never staked the ‘blond menace’, anyway. Probably because Buffy had insisted she needed information from him or something.

 

The microwave dinged, bringing him off of memory lane. Making sure that the remaining blood wasn’t going to spill all over out of its bag he grabbed a dish rag, a bowl of lukewarm water and the mug. Balancing everything, he returned to the bed and sat down next to Spike’s form. He looked like shit. Beat up, puffy, discolored shit. Xander reached out with just a small bit of guilt and shook him awake.

 

Spike reacted by trying to sit up suddenly, while morphing into his fang-face. Instead he howled in pain as his features returned to human and he grabbed at his face.

 

“Sorry, Spike… I didn’t mean to startle you, but you need to eat.”

 

“The game face hurts,” Spike mumbled. He still sounded mostly asleep.

 

“You don’t need the fangs, Blondie. I’ve got a mug for you. Sorry, no straws.”

 

“Hmm,” he grunted as he accepted the mug. Spike tilted it to his lips and at first sipped, then turned to gulping. He was just over halfway through the mug when his eye popped open in shock, his red mouth open.

 

“This is human,” Spike pointed out. “It’s… Slayer?”

 

“Yeah, two pints of primo-Buffy on tap. You didn’t look like pig blood was going to do a hell of a lot of good, Spike. We all donated a pint, well, except Buffy. Like I said, we’ve got two pints of her super-blood for you. Even Dawn insisted on chipping in. Now, eat up. I’ve got to grab the sewing kit and bandages and get to work on those wounds. We’ll need to strip you out of those clothes, Spike. They’re a lost cause, but I’ve got sweat pants that should be a lot more comfortable. We’ll still need to split a pant’s leg for your swelling.”

 

As Xander babbled about the battle in the penthouse lobby and Spike drank a little more slowly, he began rinsing all of the caked and sticky blood from Spike’s torso. He was extra careful around the torn nipple and the open hole in his abdomen, patting at it as best he could without causing more bleeding.

 

“I don’t think I can manage back to the crypt on my own.”

 

“Not a problem; you’re not going back to the crypt. Not for several days, anyway. You’ll sleep here and I’ll take the couch.”

 

“I can’t put you out like that,” he insisted.

 

“Spike, not only can you, but the decision’s already been made. Don’t argue. You done? Good, I’ll pour you another mug and you can eat while I’m getting the rest of the gear to patch you up.”

 

“I don’t understand why Buffy… why you guys would….”

 

“It’s not that complicated, Spike. The Scooby Gang takes care of its own, you know?”

 

Spike mulled this over for a minute. As Xander watched the gears turn, he grinned.

 

“Yes, you undead moron; in case you haven’t gotten it yet, you’re family now. You belong to us Spike, and just as importantly, we belong to you, too.”

 

He turned away then to heat another mug full of healing Slayer blood. His mind was already racing on the suturing to come. He was nervous he wouldn’t be able to do it, that it would be too icky and he’d embarrass himself by getting sick. Commando was a constant reassuring presence, however, quietly trying to calm his nerves.

 

When he returned and handed Spike his second mug, the vampire’s hand grabbed Xander’s. “Xan, this… this means a lot. I want you to know that I get how important this is. You guys, helping me after some of the stuff I’ve done.”

 

“Hey, we help Angel and he tried to destroy the world among other, more painful things. I believe in you and I think Buffy does, too. Of course, she’s still going to kick your ass for the Buffybot.”

 

“That, yeah, not one of my shining moments.”

 

There were some awkward moments as Spike hitched up his hips while Xander struggled with his too tight jeans. Too relieve some tension, Xander quipped at Spike’s fashion sense, equating it to being a gigolo.

 

“You could stand to wear your clothes a bit tighter,” Spike replied good-naturedly. “Show off that package some, and your ass isn’t too bad either. You just keep it all buried under yards of denim.”

 

“Ugh. Please, the last thing that anyone in Sunnydale needs is the added horror of me trying to dress sexy,” Xander responded with a laugh.

 

Any comment of Spike’s was cut off by his hiss of pain. Finally the ordeal was over and the bloody and cut up black jeans were replaced with baggy and cut up light gray sweatpants. Next, Xander began sewing the skin around Spike’s nipple as the vampire talked him through it. Apparently, this wasn’t the only experience he had had with needing a little minor medical treatment. Once this was completed, which took nearly an entire hour he packed the hole in Spike’s middle which still hadn’t completely stopped bleeding.

 

Spike lay back, exhausted, but no longer starving. Xander sat next to him, looking down the bed at the swollen ruin of the leg. His eyes ran across the pale chest and the deep grooves there, but they were knitting up nicely on their own.

 

“It looks like the other wounds on your chest are going to be fine without me. That leg, though? Spike, I don’t know what to do about it. Do you think ice would help?”

 

“Just leave it, luv. It’ll do its thing and be fine in no time. I could do with one more cuppa before I sack out though. But before you get up and get it for me, there’s something I need to say about the robot.”

 

“Spike, come on. I don’t want the details; I’m pretty sure I get the gist.”

 

“It’s not what you think. I have a feeling I’m going to be repeating that a lot. I screwed up, Xan, but I haven’t been… uh, using the robot, except to talk mostly. And practice fighting; that’s it.”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Xander said. “The important thing is we got you out of Glory’s clutches and you’re back with us… with me.”

 

Spike thought about that as Xander was busy in the kitchen. He wanted to tell Xander what he’d discovered about himself, now that the impulse to focus on the Slayer wasn’t pushing his actions. He wanted to tell him about hanging in Glory’s web, about the dream he’d had, and mostly about what he thought he might be feeling. He sighed in frustration and exhaustion. He really did need to sleep, and so did Xan, by the bags under his eyes.

 

When he returned, Spike accepted the refilled mug. This wasn’t Slayer-blood, but he didn’t know which one it was.

 

“Dawn’s?”

 

“No, I think this one is Willow’s.”

 

“Oh, thank god. Do me a favor? I know the bit wants to help, and we’ll tell her different, but could you dump hers out. I don’t think I could stand to know I’ve drunk from my ‘Bit.”

 

“Not very vampiry of you,” Xan said giving Spike’s hand a squeeze.

 

“I’m not feeling very vampire-like right now, anyway. Feel a lot more like a punching bag that’s been over used.”

 

“You’ll heal, won’t you?”

 

“Sure, I will. That’s what we do. Don’t sweat it, Xan. I just need to sleep after I get done with this.”

 

Xander’s brown eyes caught Spike’s blue one and both seemed held in place. Inside his head, Hyena was telling him his moment had come. She was pressing on him to go for it, while Commando was ‘holding his breath’ in anticipation, wondering if Xan would do it.

 

“I’ll leave you to rest then,” Xan said quietly. Without really giving it any conscious thought he leaned down. Spike seemed to lean up fractionally to meet him. He briefly and gently, out of deference for Spike’s swollen mouth, kissed him.

 

For a heartbeat neither moved or said anything. Then Xander was standing, “Get some sleep, Spike. We’re sure to need your strength.”

 

After Xander had left and closed the bedroom door behind him, Spike laid sipping his blood and staring at the door.

 

Xander had kissed him. Xander Harris had kissed William ‘Spike’ Schellden!

 

He blinked in surprise; not only at Xander but at how… excited he was by the fact. Xander had kissed him and it had been… comfortable. It’d felt like they’d been working toward the moment forever and it was… nice.

 

Of course, then the doubt began to surface. Xander was homophobic. Not ragingly so, it was true. Spike didn’t see him as the sort who’d hang around outside of bars with a baseball bat or anything, but still, it was there in him. How was he going to react to their kiss (our first kiss!) when it hit him?

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Oh, my God! What the hell was I thinking? What in the hell made me do that? This is all your fault, Hyena! Spike is going to completely flip out. You just couldn’t keep my lips to themselves could you? No, you just had to push and now what? You’ve completely destroyed the delicate friendship that Spike and I had! He’s hurt and weak and needs help and you took advantage to lay one on him; what the hell is wrong with you?!

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Across town, the Magic Box stood with only a single occupant. The sun was still shining brightly, though it was low in the sky. Main street was buzzing with activity, but Anya had the lights turned off and the ‘Closed’ sign in the window.

 

Everyone else had left already. They were all exhausted by their all night search for Spike and his dramatic rescue, including her. But she’d wanted to clear up some things so that she could open the shop tomorrow with a fresh financial slate. All of her paperwork was now finished and she’d even managed to answer three emailed queries and submitted an online order for more newts’ eyes.

 

Yawning hugely, she looked around the shop. Everything was cleaned up from earlier and she sighed. She was trying to come up with a reason not to go home yet. The thought of watching Xander making goo-goo eyes at Spike was hard to bear, but she was going to have to go back sometime. And it was her apartment, too. She had a right to be there just as much as Xander did. Maybe she’d find a wounded hunk and bring him home for a little nursemaiding… see if Xander liked that!

 

Glancing out onto the street, she realized she didn’t want to deal with the people milling about. With a nod of her head, she headed for the alley door that exited from Buffy’s work out room. Normally, of course, taking a stroll into the alley would be suicidal, but since the sun was out, she figured it should be perfectly safe.

 

Anya struggled with the key in the deadbolt to lock the door behind her. Muttering curses at the reluctant bolt, she smelled the scent of jasmine behind her.

 

A moment later and Anya screamed at the top of her lungs. On the street, no one heard her muffled cries through the hard hand that had covered her mouth.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

End Chapter 10

 

Spanderverse Series:

BTVS seasons 1-4.

Spanderverse: After 314

Spanderverse: Spike

Spanderverse: Dracula

Spanderverse: Burial

BTVS: Real Me

Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Preludes

Tensions

Old Friends

Hospital Visits

The Risks of Glory

Hunting Our Needs

The Family We Choose

Falling Apart

Sunnydale Antics

Feints and Counter-Feints

Pathways

BTVS: The Body

Coming Together

Songs of Pain and Comfort

 

space2

Chapter 1 of 28

Note: For those of you who have seen my entries on FF.net, this story is being combined into one with 'Glory's Moment'....
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

More Notes: BIG thanks to Joss, the ME creative team and the crew of one of the best shows on television. WE MISS YOU!  And THANK YOU JOSS and DH COMICS for Buffy: Season 8 and Angel: After the Fall.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Battling with a God

Ch 1 – Personal Losses

 

Xander awoke with a start and looked around the darkened apartment. The only lights were coming from outside the large multi-paned window behind the couch he lay on and the flickering images from the television. He remembered now that he’d flipped the television onto Sci-Fi Channel and then lay down on the sofa. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but it wasn’t a surprise he had.

 

Taking a quick look on the way to his bedroom, he saw it was a few minutes after ten. He frowned slightly as he opened the door to check on Spike. The vampire was still resting as far as he could see in the dark, his form was unmoving and his chest was still. He didn’t even stir a little as Xander shut the door behind him.

 

His frown deepened as he walked to the kitchen and hit the light. The apartment was really quiet and he’d expected to find Anya home by now. He looked at her bedroom door and hesitated a moment before crossing the dining area. He could guess that she might not want to talk to him right now, after he’d invited Spike to stay in their home for the foreseeable future. Still, they were going to have to talk about things sooner or later and he’d rather do it while he knew Spike wasn’t listening in on their conversation.

 

He knocked lightly on the door and called out her name. When there was no response, he considered she may have come home and promptly fallen asleep. They were all exhausted from being up all night and most of the day.

 

A breath later and he went ahead and opened her door. Peering into the gloom of the room, he saw the bed undisturbed from when she’d made it yesterday morning. His frown became a scowl. He didn’t know whether to be worried or angry. Either she was avoiding coming home just because Spike was here now, in which case he’d be pissed. Or something was wrong. The shop, even if she’d opened it which seemed unlikely considering she’d need the sleep, would have been closed an hour ago.

 

He crossed to the phone and dialed up the Magic Box. After six rings the machine picked up.

 

“You’ve reached the Magic Box,” Giles’ voice said. “And, uh, we’re not open at the moment. But we would really like to assist you with your magical needs.

 

Uh,” and at this time Xander was rolling his eyes; he’d need to talk to Giles about being a little more succinct.

 

“Uh, well, our opening hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 9 pm. Um, do stop by, won’t you?”

 

In the background, Anya could be heard, “Giles, tell them to leave a message!”

 

“Oh, yes, uh, you can also leave a message at the beep!”

 

The machine gave its tone and Xander’s mouth went dry. He wasn’t sure what was bothering him so much, but he had the feeling of wrongness. He wondered if it was an instinctual response from Hyena, maybe, but she was silent at the moment.

 

“Anya? It’s Xan… listen, I’m a bit worried ‘cause you haven’t come home. If you’re there, could you pick up?” The only response to his query was silence and then the machine beeped again letting him know he’d reached his time limit and it was hanging up.

 

A quick dial later and he was speaking to Tara. “Hey, T, is Buffy there?”

 

“Not right now, Xan. She wanted to do a quick patrol, see if she could grab a minion of Glory’s for questioning. That’s why I’m here. Willow and I are watching Dawn while we go through some more magic books that Giles dropped off. I could let her know you called?”

 

“Do you think she remembered her cell? Anya didn’t come home and there’s no answer at the shop. I was kind of hoping she’d swing by there.”

 

“Oh, uh, maybe. You know, Anya may just wanted to, um, t-to not come home for a while.”

 

“I know. I just don’t know where else she could have gone and like I said, no one is answering at the Box. I’m going to try Buff’s cell. Thanks, Tara. See you soon.”

 

Buffy picked up on the second ring and Xander explained his concerns. After assuring her that he understood that Anya had probably just sacked out on one of the sofas, he asked her to check for him.

 

“No problem, Xander. I’m about twenty minutes away. I’ll have her call you when I find her. How’s Spike?”

 

“Resting. His face isn’t looking so bad; I think he’ll recover.”

 

Buffy sighed and Xander could tell by her tone when she spoke next that she was trying not to sound all judgey-like.

 

“Listen, Xan… we need to talk about, uh, you. And Spike. Uh…, you and Spike. Giles was really freaking in the car about vampire-human thralls and consorts and the human ending up dead or evil. I almost had to punch him out to get him not to go rushing to the apartment with a stake in one hand and a sermon for you in the other.”

 

“And what about you? Do I have your support, at least?”

 

“I have serious reservations. I mean, maxi-wig type reservations. But I also love you and I don’t believe Spike wants to hurt you or use you. On the other hand… I can’t stop thinking about what happened… me and Angel. You know?”

 

“Yeah, I know,” Xander nodded his head. “I kissed him.”

 

“What? Whoa… how did he react? Please tell me he kissed you back!”

 

That elicited a laugh from him. “Weren’t you just telling me there were maxi-wiggins going on? I thought I’d get an “I’m coming over there to douse your lips in holy water” from you.”

 

“Hey, I can be a hopeless romantic like any other girl. Besides…. Uh, have you talked to him, yet?”

 

“Not yet. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, and then I ran away.”

 

“Oh,” she said in a way that made him think she wanted to spill something.

 

“What? There’s something you want to say.”

 

“We’ll talk. But first, you need to find out what’s going on in Spike’s head. And don’t worry, Giles will chill out. I’ll call you back when I get to the Box; I’m running short of minutes for the month, again.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Giles rolled over in bed at the insistent ring of the phone on the nightstand. He reached over to pick it up while rubbing at his eyes. The luminescent round face of his alarm clock told him it was 10:06pm. He wondered if it was the same day he’d fallen asleep or if he’d slept through yesterday. It had taken him forever to finally drift off as his mind was preoccupied with Xander’s ridiculous revelation.

 

Clearing his head, he answered the phone.

 

“Mr. Giles? This is Detective Richard Stein with the Sunnydale P.D. Are you the current owner of the ‘Magic Box’ store on Main Street?”

 

“Y-yes, I am. What is this about Detective?”

 

“I think you should come down here, sir. There’s been some trouble.”

 

“Trouble? W-what sort of trouble?”

 

“Sir, if you would,” the detective said patiently. “I think you should come down here. Do you happen to know a blonde who may have been an employee of yours?”

 

“Yes. Anya Jenkins, she runs the shop for me. Detective, please, what’s happened?”

 

“It appears perhaps a robbery. Or possibly just vandalism, but Ms. Jenkins is being loaded in an ambulance right now. She doesn’t appear physically hurt, but she’s obviously suffered a shock. I’m afraid your store has suffered some damage.”

 

“I-I-I’m on my way. Thank you, Detective.”

 

As soon as Giles hung up the phone, he immediately called Buffy to find that she was already headed that way. Next he phoned Xander.

 

“Look, Giles, if this is about Spike, can we just do it tomorrow?”

 

“Xander, go to the hospital,” he said, ignoring Xander’s opening. He would definitely be speaking to the boy about this foolishness, but there were more immediate concerns. “Anya is being taken there by ambulance. Something has happened at the store, I’m on my way over there now,” he said in a rush as he struggled to get his foot into one of his shoes.

 

“Oh, God. How bad? Do you know what happened?”

 

“Not yet. Just go and meet Anya at Sunnydale General. Buffy and I will be there as soon as we learn what’s happened tonight. I’ll take care of calling the girls at Buffy’s when I find out what we’re dealing with. Xander? The detective I spoke to said that Anya didn’t appear injured, just upset. Drive carefully. We’ll speak to you again, soon.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

When Rupert Giles arrived at the Magic Box, he found Buffy pacing in front of the store. The front door had been broken in, obviously, and there were currently multiple flashing lights from two police cars, an unmarked with a bubble light and a fire truck. Men were dragging a heavy looking hose out of the front of the shop and rolling it toward a ladder truck.

 

“Buffy…,” he started, but was interrupted.

 

“Mr. Giles? I’m Lieutenant Stein. I’ll be looking into this arson,” a balding man said. He looked vaguely familiar, but he was so non-descript, it was hard to know whether Giles had ever met him.

 

“Arson,” Giles questioned, while growing pale.

 

“Yes, there was a fire in the rear office area of the building. The fire chief says it looks like there was deliberate damage to the electrical box, but they’re obviously not done investigating yet. I’m afraid that much of the stock in your shop was smashed or otherwise damaged. Whoever did this, they were either looking for something, or they were angry about something. Do you have any ideas about who could have done this? Any angry patrons? Or people who didn’t appreciate a supernatural store being in town?”

 

During the entire exchange, Giles was uncomfortably aware that the detective had his attention mostly on Buffy. He knew that the Sunnydale police had had run-ins with her before, of course, due to Slayer business. He certainly hoped the detective wasn’t thinking Buffy could have been involved in this.

 

“No, we’ve had no problems since the store opened,” replied Giles. If you don’t count Glory, he added in his thoughts.

 

“Well, hopefully we’ll find some sort of clues once the fire chief gives our crime scene squad permission to enter. I know you want to get in and assess your losses, but I’ll have to ask you to stay out here beyond this point until I give you the word.” Detective Stein caught Buffy’s eyes and gave her a nod, “Ma’am.”

 

As soon as he was out of earshot, Giles took Buffy around the shoulder and walked her to the other side of the street. “Buffy?”

 

“I don’t know, Giles. He’s the same detective that I had to talk to when I thought I’d killed Ted, the robot. And what’s up with this ma’am garbage? Am I looking that old?!”

 

“What of Anya,” he sighed.

 

“I got to speak to her for a minute,” Buffy swallowed. “Giles…, she was… I think Glory got to her. She was like the other loonies in town. Talking nonsense… Xander is going to have a hard time with this. I should have been able to stop Glory by now! This is my fault.”

 

“No, it isn’t. It’s the Council and my failure to find an adequate means to stop her.”

 

“She’s going through us one by one, Giles. Spike, Anya… whose next?”

 

“Yes, her timetable must be growing short. From what I could see, they’ve torn apart nearly everything in the shop. Why the fire, however?”

 

“A warning. She’s letting me know she’s done playing games,” Buffy said. “I have to get to the hospital. Maybe there’s something I can do to help Xan.”

 

“I’m going to wait here.” Giles looked into the distance, thoughtfully. “Thankfully most of the spell books are at the apartment or with Tara and Willow. I’ll have to call them, of course, and let them know what’s happened. Buffy, promise me you won’t go after Glory tonight. I know you’re angry….”

 

“I’m not angry, Giles. I’m scared. It’s only a matter of time before she reaches Dawn. I’m surprised she hasn’t already and we’re still no closer to finding a way to stop this.”

 

Giles watched his Slayer as she began to walk away. To any observer he would have looked preoccupied and certainly worried. The police, firemen and gawkers couldn’t know what his mind was contemplating.

 

He just hoped that what he was considering wouldn’t end up causing suffering for the children.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

End Chapter 1

 

 

space2

Battling with a God, Ch 2

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Battling with a God

Ch 2 – Desperation

 

Xander was sitting on one of the hard plastic chairs in the waiting room when he felt someone sit next to him. A moment later and a firm and warm hand took hold of his right. His left was busy raking through his hair as he sat with his head bent and eyes closed.

 

“I really hate this place,” he said, sounding exhausted.

 

“I know. Me, too,” Buffy’s voice responded. “I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t mean anything, but….”

 

“Of course it does,” he said as he met her eyes. He saw they were filled with worry and guilt. “This isn’t your fault, Buffy. You know that, right?”

 

“Maybe in my head… my heart though is telling me I should have stopped this.”

 

“It’s not like we’re not trying. You’ve tried. I’ve seen the bruises to prove it.”

 

“I should have stormed her penthouse when we went for Spike,” Buffy shook her head. “Maybe with Tara and Willow we could have gotten her.”

 

“Buffy, she’s a god for chrissake,” Xander angrily replied. “The only thing you would have accomplished is getting killed.”

 

His voice took on a softer tone, “And I kinda already went through that; not looking forward to doing it again. Especially since I don’t think CPR works if your heart has been punched out,” he added.

 

She sighed and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I just feel responsible for keeping you all safe. I’m supposed to be the great and powerful warrior for good,” she shrugged. “Right now, all I’m doing is standing around and grimacing a lot.”

 

“We’ll get her, Buffy. It’s what we do. In the meantime, we all know the risks and we all feel it’s worth it. You gotta give yourself a break once in a while.”

 

“Have they told you anything,” she said, purposely switching the topic. “I saw her when they were loading her….”

 

“They said it was shock. She wasn’t injured as far as they could tell, but they want to X-Ray her skull to make sure. Was she conscious?”

 

“Yeah, but Xan, she wasn’t… she wasn’t making much sense.”

 

“Oh, damn…, you’re trying to tell me it’s not shock, aren’t you? It was Glory. I thought… my mind was on her scabby dwarves, I didn’t even think….”

 

Buffy whispered, “We’ll find a way to reverse it, Xan. I promise.”

 

“What if there isn’t a way?”

 

“There is. I believe there is, so there is. And Tara and Willow and Giles are going to find it in all those stupid headache inducing books of theirs. You got that? I’m the Slayer and I say this is reversible.”

 

After a brief moment of silence he gave her a small but worried smile, “I love you.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

It was several hours later when Buffy’s cell phone rang. She was sitting in Xander’s apartment and sharing a pot of coffee with him. They tried to strategize what their next step would be, but it mostly involved long silences and re-assuring squeezes of each other’s hands. Spike still hadn’t stirred, even when Xander turned on the bedroom light and tried to get him to wake up for a mug of blood. He’d be worried if he didn’t know that if Spike were dead, really dead, he’d be more ashy looking. On the plus side, he really was looking better than when he’d arrived.

 

Anya wasn’t there with them. Xander had known that there was no way the hospital would release her tonight, yet it still caused an intake of breath when the doctor had informed him that they had admitted her. They’d given her a mild sedative to help her sleep as her scans showed no physical injuries to her head, chest or abdomen. Her mouth was bruised as if she’d been hit, but it was minor. What had the attending, Doctor Kyra Nichols, really worried were her incoherent responses to questioning. They wanted to observe her overnight and have her seen by a psychiatric consult in the morning.

 

Xander and Buffy both knew they’d find nothing they could treat. The sixth floor ward was full of sufferers of the same thing, already.

 

She hung up her cell phone as Xander returned with a day old box of supermarket donuts.

 

“Giles says the fire chief is definitely ruling it arson, as if we didn’t know exactly what happened anyway.”

 

“How much did he lose?”

 

“His important papers for the shop, for one. It looks like Glory ripped open his fire proof safe and threw them around the office. He had some emergency money there that she used as kindling. Add damage to the electrical box, and whoosh… fire. The fire department was able to put it out before it spread down the hallway from his office. Most of the shop’s items were destroyed, anyway. Glory probably smashed everything that wasn’t her stupid Key. I don’t think anything major was there though, and the stuff in the basement should be okay.”

 

“Did you tell him about the doctors,” he asked before taking another swallow of coffee.

 

“Yeah, but it wasn’t anything he didn’t already figure. Xander, we’ll help you with whatever you need to look after her. I mean, just until we cure her,” she added with desperate sounding hope.

 

Xander only sighed. “You should get back to Dawn.”

 

“I can stay, if you need. Tara and Willow won’t mind. In the meantime, Giles says he’s getting out the ‘big book’. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it sounded good on the phone.”

 

“No, it’s okay, Buff. I’m just gonna sack out for a while so I can be up early to get back to the hospital. I may need you to help me break her out of lockdown though, if they won’t release her into my custody.”

 

“You got it,” she said. And she’d had such conviction in her voice that Xander didn’t doubt that she’d meant it literally if that’s what it took.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

Giles took a deep, steadying breath as he knelt down just inside of his closet door. Before him, bolted to the floor, was a small chest. It was surrounded by wards of various types, mostly to keep it from being seen by any casual observers. There were also the usual safeguards against its removal or opening by those who shouldn’t be touching it.

 

“A KORUMASIZ,” he whispered in Turkish. With another breath, he uttered “OLMAK AÇMAK,” in the same language.

 

There was a ripple of disturbance in the air over the chest for a moment. He then placed a hand on the back of the chest, feeling for the ever so slight indentation that would reveal the chest’s hidden trigger. When he found it, he hesitated but finally pressed it. With this action, the chest lid sprang loose, allowing him to lift it and reveal the contents within. Even as he reached for the book the chest contained, he could feel malevolent energy crawling up through his fingers and making the hairs on his arm stand on end. Inside the hand which picked up the volume, he felt an uncomfortable itch. It was as if he’d gotten mosquito bites underneath the fingernails but the sensation went all the way to the bone. It could quickly drive a man insane since there was no way to relieve such an itch, except to drop the book which Giles now did onto his bed.

 

He stared down at the exquisite writing on the cover. Written in gold leaf, hand stamped by some long ago wizard-king was ‘LİBRETTO IN GECE YARISI’. Roughly translated from Turkish, it meant the ‘Book of Midnight’. The gold leaf was stamped into the hide of the black and shiny cover. One who didn’t know better may have mistaken it for well-maintained genuine leather. The truth was that it was human skin. Black slaves who’d had the misfortune of being slaughtered in the most despicable of dark rituals had provided their flesh.

 

It was a book so filled with death and pain, that Giles had never planned on opening it to peruse its pages. Even Ethan, who had given him the tome, had found it too dangerous to use in his chaotic fun. As far as those who’d be interested knew, it was lost and most likely destroyed centuries ago. Ethan had thought that the Council was given it for their vaults, but Giles had kept it. He’d been too afraid for anyone but himself to have access to it and he’d tried for decades to find a way to truly destroy it.

 

Now he stared at the hideous thing as if just looking upon it filled him with dread. It would not be a mistaken assumption. His eyes flicked over the bedspread as he noted with a touch of fear that the blue color of it was being leached by its contact with the book of spells and rituals. The gaily colored comforter was quickly becoming a soiled gray and darkness spread from under the book to suck away any brilliance from the world around it, dooming its environs to a malaise of despair.

 

Giles shook himself as he realized he was nearly beguiled by the book into falling into depression and probable suicide if it had succeeded.

 

“Forgive me,” he whispered. He wasn’t sure if it was to Buffy who relied on him or to the powers of Order that he ultimately was supposed to be working for.

 

He opened the cover and started to read the index page.

 

Glory is a Hellgod, he thought as he felt a piece of his soul slip away. And this is the only way to save Buffy and keep us from having to kill Dawn.

 

Outside the apartment, the wind howled. Thunder rumbled and Sunnydale experienced a freak and violent storm that hadn’t been forecast.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

At the same moment that Giles was putting his immortal soul in danger, Glorificus the Mighty stood gazing out at the park below her. She wore a satisfied grin as she sipped champagne, occasionally giggling to herself and her followers.

 

“Who knew Buffy had such interesting friends,” she lightly asked no one. She expected no answer and didn’t allow any time for the goblins to intrude on her merriment.

 

“I mean, I thought I was feeding on a shop keeper and what do I get instead? Well… she may not have been my lovely Key, but she wasn’t just any old human I can tell you that,” she laughed. “I hope the rest of Slutty’s friends taste as good!”

 

Outside the window, lightning began to flash across the sky. She frowned briefly, an unaccustomed chill running down the length of her spine.

 

“That’s odd,” she said, again demanding no answer. A sudden feeling began to gnaw at her, though she couldn’t name it. It was sort of like when she knew Benji was taking over, but it was different… more intense. If she had words to describe the emotion, her underlings would have told her it was dread.

 

Instead she put on a wide grin, though her demon attendants found it strained. “I think I need a good, hot oatmeal bath to celebrate!”

 

Around her, the grey men and women jumped to attention to comply with her wishes. None of them spoke of it, but all felt suddenly uneasy for reasons they could not name.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

At Buffy’s house, Tara had the sudden urge to vomit and ran to the bathroom upstairs. At the dining room table, Buffy shivered but kept looking for a spell that could help restore Anya’s sanity. Across from her, Willow felt an odd sense of giddiness and fear, like the moment when the roller-coaster cars are tipping forward just before it rushes down the first large hill.

 

Upstairs, Dawn tossed and turned in her bed. She muttered ‘no’ a few times, but would have no memory of the nightmare’s details she was trapped within.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

On his sofa, Xander also tossed violently. Deep within his psyche, Hyena felt a burst of strength and invulnerability. It was as if someone had tapped into some dark energy and was beaming it directly to her.

 

Xander’s face wore a malevolent smile, even as he groaned within his mind and called silently for help. Commando was shivering with fear and aggression as he felt Hyena’s sudden lust for the kill and knew she was directing it toward him. She’d always dreamed of the time when she would be the pack leader and he could feel her hunger to eliminate him as if it were a physical thing; some dark power was racing through Sunnydale and emboldening her. He feared for himself and Xander Harris.

 

In the bedroom, Spike had morphed into his vampire visage. His dreams were full of violence and bloodshed. The taste of the Slayer’s blood was still in his mouth from earlier and only fueled the darkness that lay claim to him, its childe. He could feel the heat of the Slayer in China against his chest, her heart racing against the back of her ribs. He laughed in his sleep as his dream self leaned in and bit hard.

 

Outside of his mind, his hand grabbed at the sheets. Vampire strength allowed even his well manicured nails to shred the cotton fabric. Under his eyelids, his eyes were yellow and filled with bloodlust.

 

His dream underwent a random shift, as dreams often did. And when Dawn begged him to stop, he laughed and let his nails dig into her naked flesh.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

End Chapter 2