Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to Buffy
As Angelus surged to his feet, and Buffy sailed towards Drusilla with a fierce right hook, none of them noticed Giles and Jenny sidle up to Willow, take her hand, and begin to chant.
Spike leaned back against the wall and grinned. The scene before him was magnificent: Angelus and his boy were going hell for leather on one side, while the tall and lithe Drusilla was 'dancing' with the tiny blonde spitfire of a Slayer. He could join in, it would certainly tip the balance in their favour, but he was having more fun watching, and he wasn't sure either one would appreciate his interference. Besides, he didn't really want to give that Irish bog-trotter any advantage whatsoever. No. He had to pay.
And pay he did, Spike observed gleefully. Xander had obviously had not only paid attention to Angel's lessons, but had kept up his training with the Slayer, because he was making a fine job of kicking Angelus' arse. Literally, at that very moment. Angelus picked himself up from the asphalt and launched himself back in to the fight. Spike considered that he hadn't telegraphed that blow: he had written an epic and sent it via pigeon post. But that's what anger did to one's fighting skills. Too bad, that. Spike sighed happily.
Pity the old poof wasn't going to get a chance to turn his precious son. Or, wait, Spike considered, tilting his head, maybe it was a very good idea to never let that boy be turned. As he watched, Xander hefted his father, and tossed him into a wall. Nice. Of course, Angelus rebounded and launched back into the fight, but you couldn't have everything. Yep. This was what happened when feelings entered a fight. The silly bugger had taunted Xander, and was reaping the harvest in his son's vicious blows. Spike watched the fight, and pondered just how dangerous the boy would be if he was turned. Angelus' own son, flesh of his flesh, and, once turned, most truly blood of his blood. He shuddered. Angelus' son, turned as his Childe, raised first by a drunk, and then by a Master of the line of Aurelius. The world would probably never see another like him, if ever it survived him. Spike frowned. Sometimes there was just a little too much darkness. Nope. The boy couldn't be turned, not safely.
As Spike turned his attention back to his Princess' fight, he wondered what he was missing. He was sure there was something… He frowned, and glanced around. The poof was getting his arse handed to him: enough for a smirk, that. Tall, lithe darkness swirled around short, golden light, and Spike shifted to adjust himself. All's well there. The Slayerettes huddled together at one end of the alley, in fear and… Oh, hell no! They weren't huddling, they were casting. Spike snarled, and entered the fray. Dashed, if one wished. Bloody magic from bloody witches, and no one looked particularly … picky about which vampires got … whatevered.
Spike reached Drusilla, and hoist her in his arms, swirling to get her out of harm's way. Now he was here, he could feel the magic in his teeth, in his bones. Dru, however, was so far sunk into her fight that she could think of nothing else, and was clawing at his arms to make him let her go. He stumbled two steps to the side, the magic now an acrid tang in his mouth as his lover screeched and twisted in his arms. As stray heel caught his shin as he felt his ears pop, and then there was a sudden, bright silence, then nothing.
'Too late,' was his grieving last thought.
"What the hell are we supposed to do with them?"
Spike stayed utterly still as the Watcher's words drifted into his waking ears.
"Uh, they're vamps," Buffy commented, valley girl voice switched to 'on', "we stake them?"
"We've had this discussion," Xander retorted, annoyed. "We can no more do that at the moment than we can to Angel. Which is not at all," he added with a growl as Spike heard Buffy shift in her seat.
"It's not Angel," Buffy argued. "It's Angelus."
"Angel, Angelus, Liam," Xander hissed. "It's not going to happen."
"Buffy," Giles warned. "We are not doing anything until they are all awake, and we know for sure what has happened. The spell was never intended to work on more than one of them. I'm still not sure why Drusilla and Spike were even affected."
"'Cause the damn thing worked on proximity, you git," Spike snarled as he sat up. He looked around at the three mortals, not missing the warning glance Xander flashed at the blonde. He had positioned himself closer to the vampire, and Spike was sure he not only could, but would stop Buffy from doing anything drastic. "So what exactly did you do to us?" he demanded.
Xander glanced at the other two again, then cleared his throat. "Gave you a conscience."
"You what?" Spike roared. "You gave me a bloody soul? You turned me into the great poof? I'll kill you! I'll kill you, and then I'll dance in your entrails while using your blood to paint the town red, then I'll find Dru and screw her into the mattress, thus getting my happy and lose that God damned soul," he snarled, stalking forward to implement his plan.
He only got as far as Xander's fist, and dropped to the floor. He looked up to see the boy scowling at him, the Slayer rolling her eyes, and the Watcher cleaning his glasses.
"Yes," Giles coughed, "well. As, er, descriptive as that was, we did not give you a soul. For one thing, the curse was in Old Romanian, which none of us read, and for another, it utilised a degree of black magics that I was not comfortable with any of use delving into. Rest assured, you don't have a soul."
"But," Spike began, licking the blood from his lip as he contemplated the puzzle. "You said..."
"I said you were given a conscience," Xander replied. "Didn't say anything about a soul. Oh, and by the way, Bleach-head, it's permanent."
Spike gazed at them balefully. "You bastards," he breathed.
Angelus looked at the tableau before him. A man with his good and evil angels at his sides. Perhaps appropriately for them, the 'good' angel was dark, while the 'evil' angel was fair. But then, 'good' and 'evil' were relative, especially today. Never the less, it was his sublimely magnificent dark-haired son standing for their deliverance, while his beautifully blonde, not-quite lover argued for their destruction, as was her prerogative as the Slayer. And, to be honest, he wasn't quite sure which result he wanted in this moment.
Giles considered the three vampires. Angelus sprawled in one corner of the settee, a faint frown on his face as he glared back at them. Spike scowled from the other corner of the settee, holding the faintly whimpering Drusilla in his arms, looking ready to leap to her defence. He removed his glasses, and cleaned them thoughtfully. It was all well and good when they were planning the downfall of one of the vampires. What on earth where they to do with three conscience-laden vampires?
Spike allowed the sub-vocal growl to slip past his sneer. Bloody Judgement Day, and these mortals thought they had something to say in his existence. As if his precious Dru hadn't suffered enough from her thrice-damned Sire, now she had to put up with this! A conscience! His arms tightened around her as she whimpered again. And that bitch of a Slayer was not helping. Wanting to dust them all, just 'cause someone who would remain nameless (bloody poof!) lost his bloody soul. Slipshod bloody Gypsy workmanship, and that's all he could say on the matter.
Buffy bounced on her toes. Why were they even discussing this? Sure, Angel was Xander's father, but that spell hadn't returned Angel. It had given the vampire, theoretically, anyway, a conscience. And her very valid concern was that it had somehow managed to share one conscience among three powerful, amoral, dangerous vampires. How was that supposed to work, anyhow? One does something, and they all feel bad? They all have it, but only feel one-third as bad for killing someone? And would anyone really mind if the stake she was twirling accidentally flew off and dusted someone? Enquiring minds wanted to know.
Drusilla whimpered as images swirled through her head. A monster of monsters torn apart by a four-part light, while a triad darkness defended the little sparks that cowered in their no longer pristine burrow. A little, black kitten morphing into a giant, black panther that romped down a hall, followed by a nasty snake, who disappeared in fire and noise. English voices disclaiming in horror as the light sheltered the darkness, and built a new way, and a new world. She burrowed into her lover's arms, and made her mind turn to the little red tree, and the teachings she needed. The little cricket was going to make things interesting.
Xander stood as if planted, arms folded, jaw locked. To one side, he could feel Buffy's energy and will to act. Closer, but a little behind them, stood Giles, baffled by the situation before them, unwilling to condemn his family without due consideration. And before them sat, for good or ill, sat his family. His blood, and blood of his blood. What was he going to do with them? "So... Does anyone have any idea just what happened here?"
"You bloody cocked up," Spike snarled, "that's what happened."
Angelus reached with a lazy arm, and cuffed his errant grand-Childe. "What he means is that the spell was proximity activated, and not limited to the individual you focussed on."
"Well, duh!" Buffy snorted. "We kind of figured that one out already."
"You should remember, little girl," Angelus snarled, leaning forward, "that I am not your honey, returned. I am still Angelus."
Xander reached out to contain his friend, and pushed her back towards Giles. "She knows that, Pops. She's also right. We already figured it was a proximity-based spell when all three of you keeled over like that. What we need to know is just how affected each of you are."
Drusilla chose that moment to stir, and sit up in the circle of Spike's arms. "Dru," the blond murmured, "pet, how are you?"
Drusilla blinked, and gazed around the room, her gaze finally settling on her fair-haired lover. "No long noses for you," she chided, tapping his nose. "You may never be a real boy, but your proboscis should never be so over-extended."
"You know I never lie to you, love," Spike returned, mildly offended.
"Drusilla," Angelus commanded, "what have you seen?"
"The New World brings a new world," the seeress declared, "and we shall be good."
"Ah, hell!" Spike grumbled. "And how are we supposed to eat?" he demanded.
"Well, there's always animal blood," Buffy chirped.
"No way in hell are we putting up with that shite, Slayer," Spike growled. "Angel drank it for a hundred years, and it left him weak as a newborn kitten. I am not putting up with that, and I am sure as hell not letting my princess do with it. The great poof can do as he wishes, now he's back."
Angelus regarded his annoying relative. "You really are stupid, aren't you?" he scoffed. "I'm not Angel. And I'm not drinking that shite, either."
"So what do you plan to do?" Giles asked, curious.
Angelus shifted uncomfortably, and glanced at Drusilla. "That I haven't figured out yet. But I am no maudlin soul as would put up with pap like that, that you may be certain."
Spike sighed. "Vampires aren't the only evil under the sun, you know," he suggested, rolling his eyes.
"This, this is true," Giles allowed. "Being, as you say, Buffy, soul-having does not guarantee a person is good. Just as the lack of a soul is not what truly defines a vampire as evil, though it certainly does not help. It is the lack of a conscience that does it. After all, a human must have a soul to begin to be truly evil. It is as the conscience is sheared away, that a person sinks into various depravities. I am curious, though, as to how our … guests feel about the possibility of harming an innocent."
At the suggestion, Angelus shifted in his seat, while Spike looked about uncomfortably, and Drusilla appeared to turn grey.
"Right," Spike decided. "No sipping from the kiddies. But rapists," he added hopefully, "murderers, we can still kill them, can't we?"
Angelus sat back in his seat, and frowned. "Anyone who comes at me and mine has signed their own death certificate by doing so," he declared. "Anyone we find doing grave evil," he added, "may be used as food, also. Cheating you at kitten poker is not a grave evil," he added, spearing Spike with a glare. "Other than that… We may have to buy our food like the humans do," he growled.
"Okay," Buffy began, frowning, puzzled, "I'm not sure which is the more bizarre imagery: Spike dropping in on the blood bank for a pint of O-pos, or, uh, playing poker with kittens?"
"Playing poker for kittens," Spike smirked.
"For kittens?" Buffy squeaked. "How does that even work? Do you… I mean, what…"
"For snacks, pet," Spike explained, enjoying himself hugely. He thought for a moment, then made a face. "Don't think I'll be doing too much more of that, though. Suddenly it don't seem so much fun."
"Got to save the world for puppies and kittens," Drusilla intoned gravely. She turned, fluttered her eyelashes at her brother, and meowed. "Nice kitty," she smirked.
Xander rolled his eyes. "Okay, so how are we going to work this?"
Twelve months later...
Drusilla peered around the corner, rubbed her hands, and bounced with delight. She reached out her fingertips to the sunlight, and waggled them, only to avoid a nasty burn when Angelus reached out crossly to snatch her hand back.
"God damn it, woman," Angelus hissed. "Ye have a conscience, not an asbestos suit."
Spike glanced at his grand-Sire, eyebrow raised. "Someone's been spending time with his boy," he commented dryly.
Angelus scowled at the other vampire, then back at the distant podium. "I can't believe he's actually doing the speech."
"He's evil, pet. Like we were, remember? Not to worry, sky's getting dark. We'll have our fun soon enough."
Drusilla made a moue of distaste as she peeked around the corner again. "Nasty worm," she muttered. "I've seen this already," she added pettishly. "Now I want to play."
"Seen what, love," Spike asked distractedly.
"The nasty worm will chase our lovely panther, and the fire will be bad bad bad for him." She giggled. "Now we just have to wait for the Father Sun to hide his face, and we can play."
Angelus and Spike exchanged glances. "Can't say she doesn't have an interesting turn of phrase," Angelus shrugged.
"Got that right," Spike nodded. He looked up at the sky again, and grinned. "Ready, then?"
As the last of the sun was covered by the mystical eclipse, the three vampires swirled out of their hiding place to face the Mayor's minions as they swarmed out of the sewers. They lit into the enemy gleefully, demolishing their ranks and safeguarding the human participants. Each of them had been marked, against both males' wishes, by a band of the same maroon fabric as the graduates' robes. Angelus found out just how handy that little piece of fabric was when one of the students nearly stabbed him, holding back only when they sighted the band. In return, the student received a scowl from the dark-haired vampire, who immediately dashed off to find someone he could validly hurt. The student shuddered, and likewise turned their attention back to the fight.
Sometime later Xander caught up with his friends at the edge of the school grounds. "So how is everybody?" he asked anxiously.
"Good," Giles nodded, tired. "We all appear to be fine, with the possibly exception of Mr Wyndham Pryce," he added, nodding to where the other Watcher was being assisted into an ambulance. "How are the others?"
"Good," Xander smiled. "Had the traditional post-fight pat down and groom, Dru said I had grown into my claws – so not asking! – and they've gone back to the mansion. Dad said he wouldn't be surprised if everyone just wanted to go home and crash, but you're all welcome to come back for a, what was it?" he asked, eyebrow raised to Oz. "Shindig?"
"Dip, not brie," the guitarist nodded.
"Well, I'm going to sleep," Cordelia decided. "Don't think I could even work up the enthusiasm to get someone to make dip for me."
Buffy nodded. "Sleep is of the good," she declared.
"We survived," Oz declared thoughtfully.
"It was a tough fight," Xander agreed, "but, yeah."
Oz frowned. "No. High school. We should take a moment."
As one, the graduates turned to survey the ruined school. Finally, Buffy stood and stretched her spine. Willow also stood, and slipped her arm through her boyfriend's, laying her head on Oz's shoulder.
As the others also stirred from their positions, Oz murmured, "And we're done."
"So," Xander began, slipping his arm around Cordelia's shoulders, "sleep for a week, then catch up?"
"Sounds cool," Buffy agreed. "You're going on your road trip soon?"
"Two weeks," Xander nodded. "Two weeks here, then Angel and co haul me around for a month, then I get six weeks freedom. Apart from mandatory phone calls home, long distance health checks, and an undead seeress to keep an eye on me. Still, could be worse."
Cordelia nodded. "You could get stuck in some two-bit town, no money 'cause your car is broken down, and having to bus tables at some ladies strip club until one day one of the strippers breaks a leg, and you have to get up on stage and take it all off for the ladies," she offered.
Xander glared at her. "Has someone been having fantasies?" he asked.
"Who, me?" Cordelia asked, trying, but failing, to show an innocent face. "Of course not." Her smile grew distant as her attention wandered. "But, of course," she added, smirking, "if you wanted to make it a reality..."
"Stripping in public," Xander shuddered. Not going to happen, he decided.
A/N: It's finished! Can you believe it? Well, thank you to everyone who read, commented, and recommended this fic. The support has been wonderful, and truly the only reason I managed to complete it, rather than just let it languish forever. I will be getting to my other stories, it's just a matter of discipline, not something I've ever been very good at. Sorry. Well, one down, [hide number here] to go.
Thank you, so long, and good night.