Title:Long Live The Game




Timeline/Spoilers:Post NFA

Length:2,364 words

Disclaimer:Not mine. We all know that.

A/N:Thanks to redbrickrose for the inspiration, and thomasina75 for the beta:smooch:

"Let's go to work," Angel said. And so they did.

They fought, and they died. Gunn first - which was no surprise to any of them, least of all himself. Boy had been dying by inches ever since he'd walked into the alley. But he took a fair few of the big nasties with him, and maybe that was the best you could ask for. It was certainly all that Spike was looking for.

Angel went down next, and that struck at something in Spike - something deep and burning and painful. His soul, his heart, his sense of justice? Maybe all three. Whatever, he just knew it wasn't right. Angel was the man, the boss, the goddamn fucking hero, for God's sake. Spike wasn't ever supposed to be the one standing in a cloud of his dust. That was not how it was supposed to go.

But then - when had it ever gone how it was supposed to? He wasn't supposed to have left that cave under Sunnydale, wasn't supposed to even have been there in the first place. Stupid vampire had no place trying to save the world. Trying to love - well, anybody. Hell, if you wanted to take it far enough, he wasn't supposed to have crawled out of his own goddamn grave a hundred and twenty fucking years ago. If he'd had any sense, he'd have stayed in it. No, scratch that - if he'd had any real, actually-using-your-brain sense he'd have stayed away from that party, from Cecily, and most of all from that lovely-but-a-bit-vacant girl he'd bumped into on the street afterwards.

He raised his sword - well, something's sword - in a kind of salute and chopped off a couple of heads as he went. "Thanks for everything Dru, but I kinda wish you'd just walked on by."

One of the bodies exploded into dust, the other into green, sour-smelling gore. He spat out a mouthful and rammed the blade into the stomach of some kind of lizardy thing. "That was a wish, you know," he told it as it melted into a puddle of gloop. Where were the fucking vengeance demons when you wanted them?

So now it was him and the Smurf Queen, and she fought like - well, like a fucking demon. Moving so fast she was just a blur of fists and feet and sword. Poetry in fucking motion. Quentin Tarantino would've had the best orgasm of his whole sodding life just watching her. Kill Bill and about Five Hundred of his Huge Scaly Mates. Part Ten, and counting.

And he waited, and he waited, but still it didn't come. He was cut, battered, bruised, torn and ripped open, but his heart stayed intact and his head stayed on his neck. "No dust, no win," he told a big fella that was the absolute spitting image of some of them orcs out of the Rings films. "Special effects, my arse," he muttered, as he gutted it.

And so it went on; fighting, screaming, getting beaten down and getting back up again. And waiting. Went on for - oh, how long now? An eternity or so? Maybe a couple of eternities. Punch, kick, dodge, stab. This wasn't such a bad world, when you got used to it. Simple, you know? Almost pure. Just the fight, and the blood, and the waiting.

And okay, the waiting was kind of getting on his nerves now. "Come on, you fuckers," he shouted, stabbing another one of the orc-things in the eye. "Come on!"

And yeah, they came - but maybe not so fast? Maybe not so many? Blue flashed past him, and was she only fighting three at once now? No, make that two. No, make that - none?

He dispatched a fat horned thing that looked like the bastard offspring of a goat and a teletubby, and for the first time in several eternities there was nothing to take its place. Illyria stood next to him, more red than blue now actually, her sword by her side. He could still hear fighting though, still hear thuds and cracks and howls - but if it wasn't him and it wasn't Blue, and this didn't seem the kind of army that was big with side-swappers, then who - ?

Bodies dropped at the other end of the alley. Someone was mopping up at the rear, and doing a pretty good job of it.

He started forward, but the name died on his lips as the last of the demons fell and he saw a face - just as familiar as the one he'd seen in his head, yes, but rather more unexpected.

She was covered in blood, dust, slime and fuck knew what else. But shit, she was still beautiful.

She twirled around. "My dress got all dirty. It was lovely and white before, made me look like an angel."

She faced him again, and her expression fell. "Poor Angel. Sweet Angel, fallen from grace. I saw it so many times, in the clouds, in the trees, in the patterns of blood. I saw him die."

Illyria strode forward, raising her sword. "What is this creature?"

Spike began to laugh. He laughed until tears ran down his face and he was way past the point at which he would have begun to suffocate if he'd actually needed to breathe. Illyria watched him, a look of impatient confusion on her face.

When he could speak again, Spike turned to her. "Illyria, may I present Drusilla. Drusilla, Illyria."

"Goddess," whispered Dru and dropped into a fluid curtsey, which set Spike off all over again. Oh, it was priceless. Just priceless. All they needed now was to see if any of these buggers had brought a tea service and some cucumber sandwiches along with the axes and broadswords, and they were set for a lovely afternoon. Queen Illyria's Garden Party, very exclusive. Only insane fucking vampires need apply.

"This one is - strange," said Illyria, "but respectful. I will allow her to stay."

"Big of you, Blue. Hope you'll be very happy together."

He could feel two sets of eyes on his back. "Where are you going?"

Well now, that was the sixty four thousand dollar question, wasn't it? No Angel. No mission. No fucking clue.

"I don't know," he said honestly. All he knew was that he was tired. Bone-level, soul-level, molecular fucking level tired.

"Don't feel bad," said Dru. "Don't feel bad for Daddy. It's best that he never knew."

Spike stopped. "Knew what?"

"What he'd done."

"Dru, what the fuck are you - " he broke off, seeing her face crumple. No, no. Not the way to deal with Dru. Come on, you remember how to do this. You did it for a hundred fucking years.

He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, baby. I didn't mean to shout at you. It's just been - a really long day. Now - what were you saying about Angel? What did he do?"

Dru looked at him sadly, then smiled. "He ended the world," she said softly. "It's beautiful. But I don't think he would have liked it."

"Dru. I'm hanging on by a bloody thread here. What. Are you. Talking. About?"

"Battles," said Dru. She swung her arms over her head, mimicking a swordfight. "So lovely, so hot, so much blood. So much death."

And then, of course, he got it. Yeah, well, made sense when you thought about it, didn't it? There'd been a lot of demons here - hell, there'd been a fucking dragon - but did he really think that was all the Senior Partners had? That this was the only welcoming committee they'd sent out?

"Guess Angel really pissed 'em off this time, huh?"

Dru nodded slowly. "They didn't want to play with him anymore."

Yeah. And what do you do when you get fed up with the game? You storm off, and you take your ball with you.

"Are they all gone?" he asked wonderingly. "The - the others?" The Slayer?

"All gone," said Dru. "They fought and they fought, but they were eaten all up." She made biting motions. "Yummy Buffy," she said, rubbing her stomach, and he came as close to staking her then as he ever had.

But really, what would be the point?

Illyria was nodding. "It is fitting," she said. "I have taken similar action when a world began to bore me. Created a new landscape, a new challenge."

"Well, that's just great. Glad this almighty fuckup has got your seal of approval, your highness. That makes it all right then, does it?"

She stared at him, but he waved it off. Why bother? What exactly had she lost, here? She would never understand.

"Where there is loss, there is gain," said Dru, putting her hand on his arm. "My Spike. I'm here. Your Drusilla's here."

He would have laughed again, but he just didn't have the energy. He patted her arm, instead. In her own way, she meant well enough.

And it had a kind of symmetry, if you looked at it. Him and Dru, together. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be at the end. "Is this it, then? For us? Are they coming to finish us off now?"

That earned him a light slap. "Silly Spike! Weren't you listening?"

He gave her a tired smile. "I listen, Dru. I do. I just don't always understand."

She became serious again. "The game is dead. Long live the game."

He obviously looked at confused as he felt, because she swatted him again. "Spike must pay attention. Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, bang, bang, you're dead. Now the Cops are gone and it's just the Robbers left. They like those."

So that was why Death had passed him by with its nose in the air. Well, at least he knew.

Illyria suddenly swung her sword onto her shoulder. "It matters little. The morality of ants is of no consequence. They will yield to me or die."

Spike shook his head. "You're actually enjoying this, aren't you?"

"Mundane pleasure is beneath me," she said, but she almost looked like there was a smile hovering somewhere under the skin.

Dru clapped her hands delightedly and sidled towards Illyria. "Oh! We can teach you pleasure. Can't we, Spike?"

The laughter bubbled out of him again. "Oh, sure. We can be a happy little family, drinking cocoa and playing Scrabble. Can you play Scrabble, Blue?"

"I am unfamiliar with this term."

"He's just being silly," said Dru in a confiding whisper. "He does that sometimes. He means we can have sex."

"I see. Sex I am familiar with. That will be acceptable."

Spike stared at her. "Familiar with - since when? And who did you - wait, no, forget it. I don't want to know."

So this was the way the world ended, was it? Not with a bang or a whimper, but with a girly chat about Illyria's sex life. Absofuckinglutely amazing. He'd never figured the Senior Partners for comedians, but hey. He'd been wrong about a lot of things.

He turned back to Dru. "So what now, Princess? Do I get a rank in the new Black Army, or am I just a foot soldier? Good old cannon fodder?"

She sighed heavily, and pouted. "Bad Spike still isn't listening. He shan't have any tea."

God, could he get anything right? This really was just like the good old days. Any minute now she'd pull out her old riding crop and -

He shook himself. "Okay Dru, why don't you explain it to silly old Spike then. What am I not getting, pet?"

"The game," she said patiently. "They didn't like Angel's game any more, but that doesn't mean they don't want to play at all. What else are they going to do?"

"So there's a new game. Okay, but - " he stopped, and Dru began to clap her hands.

"Yes! You see? Now we're playing Spike's game. White to move," she said happily.

He backed up. "No. No. Uh uh, no way. I can't do that, Dru. I'm not the leader type, I'm not the hero, I'm not -"

I'm not Angel.

He couldn't carry that weight. Couldn't start over. Couldn't.

Dru wagged her finger at him. "Now, now, Spike must play nicely."

"I can't. I can't do this on my own, Dru."

"There will be others," she said. "Hiding. Lost. Waiting." She flashed a brilliant smile at Illyria. "And you have a Goddess. And me," she said softly.

"You? You joining the white hats, Dru?"

She giggled. "No, silly. But I will be your partner, your enemy, your servant, your master. Your liaison."

"But Dru, what - " He paused, as that last word sank in.


"Fuck," he said softly. "You're the new liaison to the Senior Partners?"

She twirled around, and then swept down in a low bow. "I am Cassandra," she said. "I am chosen."

Spike walked out to the front of the alley, and gazed up at the skyline. The Wolfram & Hart building stood out - shiny, solid and new.

"Fuck," he said again.

Then Dru was beside him, pressing something into his hand. He looked down, and saw a small piece of card. Heavy, white and embossed with gold leaf.

Spike, it said, in simple, elegant lettering. CEO, Wolfram & Hart.

He laughed once more. Well, this day was turning into a right old giggle-fest, wasn't it?

He looked back at the building, and slowly tore the card in two. "Fuck that. Seen that one, pet. Didn't like how it turned out. No, if I'm going to do this - and I must be out of my fucking mind, but then that ain't nothing new either, is it? - then I'm doing it my way. "

He crumpled the pieces of card into a ball and threw it over his shoulder, then turned back to face Illyria. "Well, your Goddessness? Are you coming?"

"I accept the challenge of the wolf, the ram and the hart," she said. "I will play."

"Good," he said. "Then let's go to work."

End -