A/N: While I might have several different projects in the works at one point, it is typically in my nature to refrain from posting two at a time unless one is already complete. However, in this case, my betas have prompted me to go ahead get it out there. Thus if updates come a little slow, it's because I'm bustling for two instead of the usual one.
As Kimmie can attest, just minutes after the AtS finale aired, I was jotting down ideas in my notebook to satisfy my need for closure. This is the result. It's going to be relatively short—hopefully no more than five parts, but then, it really only has one objective.
My thanks again to my wonderful betas. This one's for you two. And for Spike as well, who made the Buffyverse my most cherished retreat.
Author: Holly (hangingavaricehotmail.com)
Rating: Strong R
Distribution: Sure. Just tell me where.
Timeline: Immediately following the closing credits on Not Fade Away.
Summary: 'Some knowledge and some song and some beauty must be kept for those days before the world again plunges into darkness.' – Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon. They are being used for entertainment purposes and not for the sake of profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
There was some reassurance that despite its numerous opportunities, the world had failed to successfully see through an apocalypse. That he was standing alongside some of the only beings in existence that had a prayer's chance of doing any good while facing the legions of oncoming hell.
Some reassurance, but not much.
"Right then," Spike drawled, nodding at Angel. "You take the dragon. I'll get me the fifty on the left. Ole Blue here can fend the rest."
Funny. Despite the circumstances, he always found time to talk.
"Sounds like a plan," the elder vampire confirmed, tossing him a briefly grateful glance. The same that reflected the dreaded innate knowledge that there would be no afterward. That this was it. One last hurrah before the lights went out. "We'll meet up at the Hyperion after it's over. Right?"
Spike nodded. "Sounds good."
"After this is over," Gunn mumbled. "I'm definitely taking some vacation time."
"I will show them the true meaning of suffering," Illyria confirmed, the faintest hint of emotion dancing across her face from the pale glow of nearby streetlights to offset poignant reflection. "They will bleed as I have bled, but I will make the pain a thousand times worse." She was otherwise as staunch as ever, though looked to be more than ready to put up a hell of a good fight. And that was just fine with him.
Exgods were useful for their demon-pull. He knew that one personally.
From behind, Gunn made a small noise of complaint. He was staggering still, holding his bleeding side while attempting to maintain balance on the same note. At that, one couldn't help but respect the man. While Spike knew he was likely counting minutes until the lights went out for good, there was no way he would go down without putting in the full of a fight.
And then there was nothing to do but jump into the thick of it. One second standing in firm preparation, the next whisked away on a fair of demon display. The peroxide vampire drew in a deep breath as the bones in his face reverted to form, surges of his own empowering long dead veins. A promise of the last, of course. One last good fight before he called it a night.
Angel had told them all that they would likely be dead before it was over. He had believed him. And as he leaped into the heartland of the herd storming forward, such had never rang more true. Two years running. Two years dead to save the world.
Spike had always known he would go down swinging. His nature would allow nothing else.
There was noise all around him. The endless roars of a society run with every sort of ugly creature the world had ever entertained. Almost immediately, he felt his body pulled into a blackhole of carnage, sucked and jerked in every which direction. The lasting strands of his own wretched claiming. A tugging gasp rose to his throat, and all he knew was to keep swinging. To acquire something of value and jab it in every direction he could. Spike was not necessarily one for forethought, but he always valued himself on being prepared when it came to fighting battles. For this, he had been anything but prepared.
But it was a fight. It was a good fight. And that was all anyone needed to tell him.
It was simple at first. Fun, even. Poetry in bloody motion. Grasping the head of one to deliver a good twist while projecting the nearest could-be weapon into the heart of another. He lost sight of the others quick, but he knew they were still about. Heard the shouted screams of the people he had spent the last few months of his unlife working beside. The dragon no longer circled the air and that didn't surprise him. One thing he had to concede about Peaches—despite his level of annoyance to bystanders, he got the job done when the job needed getting done.
Still, against his better senses, not knowing where his colleagues were didn't rest well with him. He knew it was imperative to disassociate himself from all things that could distract him, that could serve as weaknesses, but he wanted to reassure himself of their well-being. Even Angel's face would be welcome right now, if only to know that he wasn't fighting in vain. Alone.
Something like this, though, could never be in vain.
Through the masses, he purged himself. Scars sliced their way to residence across his skin; he felt dead blood trickling through wounds that had not known pain since his bicentennial. The scent of intermingled essence filled the air. The wretched outpour of a thousand different varieties, all meshing in the lasting ends.
He felt his voice tearing at his throat. Felt the weary sting of a thousand inflictions buried within his flesh. Felt the claws of a whatchamacallit dig through layers to reach his skin and stay. He battled them off only to have them come back again. A herd of demons followed by ten thousand more like it. The bloody soul of Wolfram and Hart bleeding from the outrages.
This blow was not fatal to them, he reflected ironically. Wolfram and Hart repaired itself with ease. Every time. All the time. The Los Angeles branch would suffer, yes, but ultimately reestablish itself in some form or another. This was nothing.
They had taken a hit, however. Perhaps they were more offended at the notion that Angel and company had proved that such a drastic thing could occur.
It didn't matter. Spike no longer cared. He would fight with every last beat of energy he possessed. Until the crowds no longer circled him. Until he was dust.
Then something changed. Right out of the dark nothing, something changed.
It began in the ground. A slow, cumbersome rumble that wasted no presumption in gaining quick momentum. The impact lent Spike terrible pause, his eyes going wide—the impromptu standstill from oncoming attacks bearing every mark that scratched his skin to life with luminous reckoning.
"Bugger all!" he screamed, propelled against the nearest brick instant before he could gather himself. Then he turned his annoyance skyward with a darkened scowl, eyes flickering inside intensity that did not know itself. "You bloody bastards! Y'can't tell me you're ready to throw in the rag! Not finished, here!"
Another tremulous quake commanded the ground. The peroxide vampire fell again against the proffered sturdiness, his head wallowing in aggravated misery and sharp shots of furthered pain making their way steadfast across his body. And still, more where that came from. If anything, the tremors seizing the ground grew even stronger—such that the demons were backing off. In fact, they looked about as confused as he was. Nothing could be hidden from retrospect under the pale streetlamps. Not pain nor fear nor uncertainty.
It was just as he was ready to get up and throw himself in the thick of it when a creature he hadn't sensed appeared to his immediate left, jabbing a spear through flesh that had known too many wounds. Spike's eyes went wide and a soundless scream rose to his lips, pain shooting through every cranny that had ever felt the breath of existence. A prodded piece of wood digging farther than any had before presumed. It was stabbed into his side, not fatal but bearing enough pain that felt worthy of death. Speared through his ribs, puncturing organs that had not known use since the eve he was born to vampirehood. Strange. He had been stabbed many times; this took the cake.
But no. No. It was too soon. He couldn't go down like this. Too fucking soon.
The earth was still quaking, giving light to something more thunderous in the distance. And the walls came tumbling down.
The ground seemed swamped the next instant. Where there had been many, there were now more than many. As if all of the world had decided to show up to fight. He couldn't see them. Not for his enhanced eyesight or the limited light provided. But there were suddenly hundreds to battle the baddies away, and he had no idea where they had come from.
Only that it was in time. That the quakes kept coming and the chanting continued.
He was collapsed against a brick wall, holding a projectile in his side. Every breath he took tinged his nerves with further abuse. Spike willed his eyes shut for a few blessed seconds. He wanted to call out for Angel or Illyria, but dared not for the world. They couldn't stop to help him.
And he couldn't sit here from the sidelines. It would get him killed—and all he had fought for would remain in vain.
There was a flash at that. Sudden. Short. Burning with more luminosity than he had ever born witness to. As if the glory of his soul had spurned to life once more. And then softness. Softness he had only known once in the entirety of existence. Something that filled him with peace where there shouldn't be peace.
But that was impossible.
A statement. She sang his name with all the conviction of a nightingale.
The face of his seraph. His siren. Perhaps this was death. Perhaps Angel was wrong about hell. Perhaps his soul got to go to Heaven after all.
Even if he wasn't dead.
For the light that flooded him, it felt like Heaven. Heaven and more so.
And that was the last he knew before the world fell away.
To be continued in Part Two: Quoth the Raven…