Disclaimer: Forty-whatever stories later, and I still don't own them. Damn.


The cavemen came out of a hole in the ground. They were big and nasty, brutish and lumbering, without grace, without thought. They had claws and fangs and eyes that were made for the darkness of the underworld. They had grips that crushed bones and that sort of non-intelligence that let them slip past the barriers that would have frightened off the astronauts.

The cavemen had crawled from their hole, had clawed their way up, and had towered over him and his army. His army that wasn't even astronauts. They were only them, him and the others and the girls, and they were somewhere in between. Smart and small, but unprotected.

But he'd been the one with the fire.

This time, though, it's different.

He finds Angel again, after a couple of hours of losing track of the older vampire, half an hour until the sun rises. Though the sky is so thick with smoke, red with flames, that maybe it won't matter.

Spike had switched his sword to his right hand about two hours into the fight, tucking his nearly severed left hand against his chest, and kept swinging.

Angel's wounds do not bleed as badly as Spike's, but only because most of his injuries were burns. Charred clothes hang in strips and his skin is welted and black in places. There's a little part of Angel's forehead that's gone so that Spike can see the bone underneath.

The dragon lies in the street a few blocks back, its throat slit and the asphalt stained and slick and flooded from the blood and the rain.

There's a little bit of lull in the fighting, up here at the front where they stand. They've worked their way all the way through to the edge, where the demons are slashed apart and shredded and dying, though the battle continues, loud and hot and violent behind them.

Spike's not sure where the backup came from. Not from Angel, though, he figures. They were just people who needed to protect their city, protect their world, who had been drawn into the fight. Humans, some of them, with guns and axes. A few demons mixed in.

And then there were the Slayers. Girls, young women, with swords and crossbows and stakes, screaming and stabbing. They'd showed up suddenly, from the tops of the buildings and fighting their way to the middle of the battle, blades swinging. Thirty, fifty, a hundred of them. They must have known him, or noticed whose side he was on easily, because not a single one went after him, even when he shifted faces to tear into a demon's shoulder when it had grabbed his good arm.

The most he'd gotten was one Slayer, who'd turned, axe slicing off the head of some enormous beast Spike didn't have a name for, and looked him dead in the eyes. He doesn't know her name, doesn't know if he ever did, but he knows she was there, the last time, when it was the cavemen that had been coming after them.

Beside him now, Angel stabs a demon straight through the skull, sword entering through an eye socket and sliding out through the back of the of the thing's head.

Spike holds his own sword up, to fight off anyone who comes at them while Angel pries his weapon free, pinning the demon's corpse down with one foot, but nothing comes at them.

Angel looks over to him, then up to the sky, then back to Spike. "What is that noise?"

Spike squints at the sky, light now that the storm's let up to a drizzle and the sun is nearly ready to rise, but it's still too dark, especially with the smoke, to make anything out.

Angel points to Spike's injured arm, still pressed to his chest and probably stuck there to the fabric with all the blood. "Is that broken?"

"And then some," says Spike. "Don't touch it."

"Are we winning?" asks Angel. He looks around the dead street, and the pile of corpses. His voice is shocked and wary at once. They aren't supposed to win. They aren't supposed to have even lived this long. "How are we winning?"

"Just waiting for the second wave, I imagine," says Spike. "Or third. Or fourth. Or whatever it is we're on now."

Angel turns, back to the enormous crumpled dragon, where there are still screams and clanging weapons and gnashing teeth and Slayers. "Should we wait? We could come back at dark. Will it matter?"

Spike's not looking at him. He's back to staring at the sky, as the buzzing noise grows louder and louder. Fills his head with a new sort of roar. He grins. "It won't matter."

Angel follows his gaze upwards, to the jets and the dragons that are metal now. Sharp edges and shiny coats, held together with bolts and straps and mechanics. New weapons that are both shiny and shielding. Might prove a little challenge, but it's what's inside them that matters.

Wolfram and Hart's run out of cavemen. They're out of beasts. Out of monsters. They're going to be out of fire soon enough.

"We'll have won by then," Spike says. "Looks like we were both wrong, mate."

The astronauts come out of the sky. They aren't going to win either.