Title: Red Omega (part 15 NA)

Author: Nimue

Feedback: Yes, please

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc.. Just Borrowing.

Summary: The final battle. What more can I say?

Red Omega

It was dark as she walked down the streets and alleys of Sunnydale. The hurt was more than she could bear. All she wanted was to dull the pain. To forget that her heart had died for just a little while. To make it stop. Maybe even to find her again for just one last kiss.

Willow hoisted her backpack on her shoulder, wiping the continuous stream of tears off of her cheeks, and searched for the feeling, the essence, of his domain. The invisible wall behind which was solace. An oasis from the pain.

She found it easily.

Rack was glad to see his Strawberry. Even comforted her as she cried every tear over and over again. He said he had just the fix. He said he could make it stop. He promised. She felt him begin, the power surging through their clasped hands, the shudder of pleasure as she succumbed to the darkness. The thrill of her nerves firing all at once. The sweet bliss of forgetfulness.

He took it one step farther for his Strawberry.

She felt the pinch in her reality as he body moved over hers then snapped inside like puzzle pieces fitting together. His darkness overcoming her light. The oneness of nothingness. He found the chink in her armor and slid inside of her skin.

They had walked together in her skin. At first, it was an aimless wander back through the damp streets and alleyways. Then, he seized her innermost thoughts. Revenge. If she could not change it, she could *feel* something again. She could feel anger and rage and fury. He could help her with that. Rack pushed her conscience aside and took his seat at the thrown of her morality.

"Warren," they hissed. But the sound came from what was once Willow's sweet lips. Sound like acid and fire.

*****

They ran for the DeSoto, clambering in like some nightmarish clown brigade, rushing so fast that they moved half of their normal speed. No one spoke. This was all too surreal to be true.

Spike remembered the darkness that had come across Tara's face when she came to him. Remembered the black mask that had shadowed her. He recognized it now. It was Willow he had to face. Willow he had to stop. Not Warren. Not a demon. Buffy's best friend. Spike shuddered at the engine roared to life.

*****

They had found Warren, hiding in an abandoned warehouse. He was easy to catch. Especially since they had used Willow's body. And what Willow's body was wearing was tempting to any man. Rack had dressed her all in black. Black leather pants. Black backless top. All to go with her new hair and eyes. She had to look the part.

They had tempted him into the open. Seduced him into the playground. Then the fun. They rejoiced in extracting his tongue so that he could not scream. And bound him to the jungle gym. Just like old times. Get beaten up in the school yard. But this was going to be the last time.

Oh, yeah. This was fun.

They knew that there was a spell. A spell that would bring back the lives that Warren had taken. All it required was his heart. Minor sacrifice. Just had to take it. Then justice will have been served.

*****

"Anya, are you coming?" Buffy said, picking up her crossbow. She pulled on a jacket and headed toward the door.

"What should I take?" Dawn asked, looking at the chest.

"A seat," Buffy said, ordering Dawn back to the table with her finger.

"Hey, you're going to help and you aren't supposed to."

"Slayer," she responded. "My job. Not yours."

"Key," Dawn answered. "Might have a use somewhere."

Anya appeared from the back with an axe. "I'm in," she chirped, heading toward the door.

"Wait a minute, ladies," Clem said, positioning himself between Buffy and the door. Buffy glared at him impatiently. "You aren't going anywhere. Spike said...."

Buffy grabbed Clem's collar again, slamming him into the wall. He winced. "Are you more afraid of a humanish vampire or a pregnant slayer?" she asked, the fury coming out in her voice.

"Aw, man." Clem whined. Buffy dropped him to his feet. "after you."

"Stay here and watch Dawn," Buffy ordered.

"No way," Clem said. "You go, we all go."

"Then you better be willing to save her if anyone comes after her. If you don't, I'll kill you myself."

"Alright, alright. Jeez. No wonder you two get on so good. Both bossy as hell," Clem muttered.

Buffy burst out the door at a jog.

*****

The DeSoto pulled up at the curb about a block away from the school. The engine sputtered and died. Spike leaned down, grabbing his shotgun and swinging open the door, all in one movement. Xander tumbled from the backseat into the street. Giles climbed carefully to the curb. They met on the sidewalk and side by side they began to walk toward the playground. Slowly this time. Carefully.

Spike could feel the air. It was full of static, and it smelled like blood. Blood and decay. He tasted the foul, acrid ammonia of dark magic. "Something wicked this way comes," he muttered.

"What was that?" Xander asked, trying to keep step with the vampire's fast walk.

"There is evil here. Big evil, git." Spike answered.

"We've met evil before," Xander countered.

"Not like that," Giles said, pointing at the figures around the dark corner in the schoolyard.

*****

They were floating above the ground now, on a cushion of darkness. Warren could see everything that Willow's body was doing, but he could not make a sound. They had neatly stuck his tongue in his shirt pocket like some macabre hankie. Warren was nearly seizing with pain and fear, tied to the jungle gym. Hopeless against the dark witch before him.

*****

The noble three, the band of buggereds, rounded the corner, lit now by the street lamp. Willow sniffed the air, but shook her head and went back to the task at hand. She was hovering now, above the sand that padded the playground.

Spike could hear her. Seductively hissing, playing with her mouse. Batting him around before she went for the kill. She had been at it for some time as the front of Warren's shirt and his chin was bloody. He never made a sound

*****

Buffy was well ahead of the others. Her heart was racing, her blood pumping through her veins at an unreasonable rate of speed. Her muscles ached and her stomach hurt, but still she ran. Buffy could hear the scattered footsteps behind her, but they couldn't catch up. They didn't get it. They did not understand that something was coming. Something was here. She could feel the static in the air in little shocks against her skin.

Still she ran.

*****

They were done with playtime. Warren's mouth dangled open in a gaping bloody grin. His head lolled against his chest. He was no fun anymore. Time for the important stuff.

"Horus, guardian of the dead. Please return to me the lives this mortal has taken. For this gift, I give you his heart."

They cocked their arm back, then jammed it into Warren's chest. When their arm pulled back, they held his heart in their hand. Warm, still quivering, dripping with blood.

*****

Giles stopped in his tracks. Spike stood, staring over at Giles. Back to the scene in front of him. Back to Giles. Xander fell back a few steps. Had any of them seen what they thought they just saw? Tentatively, they stepped forward, toward the hideous spectacle.

Spike could make it out clear as day. Willow, Red, math geek, sweet girl. Was standing there holding a beating heart in her hand. Smiling. Speaking. Chanting words. He caught words floating on the air. "heart... lives he took... bring them back."

Not again.

This could not be happening.

*****

They held the heart, speaking the sacred words. Letting the blood drip onto the sand. Watching the sand rise up and take form. Willing the forms to become animate. Snatching the spirits from the sky and shoving them back in.

This was what they called a good time. Playing God. Loving every minute of it.

The sand became flesh and the blood became blood, and the statues took form until two women stood before them. So much for the hard way of creating life. Nah nah, Buffy.

*****

"What are we going to DO?" Xander whispered nervously. "She just... she just...ripped... someone's heart out and made people out of it."

"She's under the influences of extremely dark magics," Giles said quietly.

"Really? You think?" Spike said, sarcastically.

"How do we stop her?" Xander was panicking.

I know how to stop her. But you will have to distract her so I can get close enough," Spike said to the other two men. He remembered what Tara had told him. Drain it almost dry, vampire, he thought.

"Distract her? With what? Raw meat?" Xander asked, losing his marbles.

"Do *something*, git. You're her closest mate. Try and talk to her." Spike snapped. "I'm going to sneak around to the other side of the school and once she is good and occupied, I will take care of the witch."

"Do you plan on killing her?" the boy asked, for a moment remembering it was, after all, Willow.

"I hope not," Spike asked, "But if I have to."

Xander and Giles nodded. Spike crept to the opposite side of the street and took off at a run.

"Distract her, hunh?" Xander said to Giles.

"I suppose," Giles answered. They began to walk toward the witch.

*****

Random thoughts chugged through her mind as her feet struck the pavement. First and foremost, why had she never bothered to get a driver's license? Her legs moved independent of her mind now, bending, straightening, hitting the asphalt, bending, straightening pounding. Her heart was in perfect rhythm with her legs. Squeezing, relaxing, squeezing, relaxing. Over and over and over.

She could hear them further behind now, jogging down the streets. There was no way to keep pace with her. Not now. Not ever. She was the Slayer. And 5 miles was a long way to run.

*****

Xander and Giles reached the playground fence and the bloodied witch turned her eyes toward them.

"Ah, company," they hissed, swinging open the gate with the flick of a magical hand. Giles stepped through, Xander behind him. "Come to play?"

"Willow," Giles pleaded, "what are you doing?"

"Taking back what is mine," she answered, gesturing at the two forms now huddled on the ground.

"They are not yours to barter," Giles said.

"You did not say that when it was your precious, Slayer." The voice was seductive. Hypnotic. Giles had to fight himself to stay with her.

"I did not approve of it then," Giles responded," and I do not now, Willow."

"What do I care about your approval?" they hissed. "I have no score to settle with you, Watcher," she enunciated the last word, punctuating it with an acid smile. "I may kill you for fun, but I have not decided yet."

She flicked her wrist and sent Giles flying back into the fence. His head struck the metal post with a thud and he slid to the ground unceremoniously.

"You," the creature continued, "You are a whole nother story." It said walking, sauntering, toward Xander, it's feet never making contact with the ground. Xander was frozen. Where was Spike? He should have had enough time. He was afraid to look, afraid to scream. This was the only chance they had.

"Willow," he gasped, falling to his knees, "Will, it's me, Xander. I know you're in there."

It laughed chillingly. "This *is* me, Xander. This is what *you* helped do to me."

"Me?" Xander stuttered.

"You wanted her back. Always her. You helped me bring her back. If she had just stayed *dead* where she belonged, none of this would have ever happened. Tara was the price."

"Will, we all made that decision. We may have been wrong, but we made it together."

It was silent for a moment. Then the air filled with a cackle that split Xander's ears. "Nice try, Xander," it hissed. "You always used me. Knew I had a crush on you. But you went for Cordelia. You went for anyone but me. You got a crush on Buffy. Anyone *anyone*, but me. Why should I care what you think? What reason do I have to spare you?"

"Willow..." he gasped, " Because it has been us always. Before Buffy. When we were little. Remember my birthday party and I wanted a fire truck and the house next door caught fire and I thought you did it for me... or when the clowns scared me at my other birthday party. I had a lot of bad birthdays. We were always together. Always..."

A solitary tear slid down the creatures cheek. Willow had surfaced a moment and looked down at the huddled boy, with her soft normal eyes. Her sweet smile.......

*****

Buffy rounded the corner and could see the playground in the periphery of her view. She was still running, the sweat dripping in little rivers down her face. The rest were well behind. She was glad. What she saw was something no one else should ever have to see.

Xander was on his knees in the sand. Warren was a bloody, limp pile against the steel of the jungle gym. Two forms huddled in the corner of the sand box. Willow hovered just above the sand, her eyes looking down on Xander. It was like a sick, silent photo.

She saw Spike. He was vamped. He had swung silently on top of one of the playthings just behind Willow. But Willow was too distracted by Xander to notice...

Buffy ran faster..

*****

The creature's face changed again and Xander was looking into dead, black eyes. Angry darkness. It brought it's arm up and swatted him across the cheek. He rocked back on his heels.

"Bad, Xander," it hissed in its dark, sugary voice. "Should know better than to toy with me."

It's arm cocked back again and Spike caught it, leaping off the back of the cold steel child's toy, wrenching the arm behind the back of the beast. He could hear the bones crack, but he had to keep moving. He lifted his head and buried his teeth in the white plain of it's neck.

The world slowed. Spike's eyes opened and he could see Xander, his hands over his face, huddled in front of them. He could hear a voice. Buffy's voice. He looked up and saw her running toward him. He wanted to stop. He wanted to run to her. He had to do this.

Spike continued to drink. The blood was like tar. Thick and black. It was choking him, sliding down his throat in acidic bursts. He had never tasted evil like this. It burned him with every swallow. Drained him. He could feel the hum in his ears, his skin on fire, his focus become blurred. But he had to drain it almost dry.

It was the only way.

*****

"Spike!" Buffy was screaming at the top of her lungs. He was drinking from Willow. But it wasn't that that scared her the most. It was that he was changing. She could see the red glow around them as Willow's blood was drained. It was dissolving him. With every swallow he became less real, less solid. Buffy saw him look up at her. Saw him falter for just one second locking in on her face, then close his eyes and finish the job.

*****

Willow fell to the ground in a pile. Spike fell to his knees, raising his head. He saw Xander trying to get up. He saw Buffy at the fence. His body was disintegrating. The world was fading away in little pieces like blowing sand. He heard her screaming. He could see her in his head, laying next to him. The two heartbeats pattering like rain. He tried to reach out to her. But he was already gone.

*****

Buffy lurched forward, trying to grab his hand, but it was too late. He had just, disappeared. Gone.

She fell to her knees, her head pounding, her lungs straining, her heart shattering into a million slivers. Gone.

No ashes. No poof and disintegrate. Just there. And just gone.

Xander stood behind her, surveying the scene. Willow was faintly breathing in a pile on the ground. She was Red again. There was another body on the ground. Lifeless. It was a dark haired man. Rack? He had been thrown clear of the rest of them. Had he even seen him there? And Warren. Warren was an unspeakable mass of bone and blood. Giles was out cold against the fence. Tara and another girl, Katrina, he thought, were huddled in the corner of the fenced in sandbox. Buffy. She wasn't supposed to be here. She was on her hands and knees in the middle of it all. Screaming. He watched her throat catch and she scrambled up, running to the grass. She threw up. He tried to move to help her. But he was stuck. It was too surreal to be anything but a nightmare. Where was Spike?

nya, Clem and Dawn appeared at the fence. Anya ran for Xander. Dawn was looking wide eyed at something she should have never seen. She stood, taking it in, burning herself a memory that would scar her forever.

The girl saw Buffy collapsed in the grass, shaking, crying and ran to her. Buffy was holding her stomach, rocking back and forth, tears streaming down her face "Buffy," Dawn whispered, grabbing her sister desperately, pulling Buffy's shaking form against her. "Buffy, where's Spike?"

Buffy sobbed quietly. Dawn shook her asking again and again, louder and louder, "Where's Spike?" Buffy could not bring herself to say it. She rocked back and forth, her heart collapsing in her chest. Dawn would not stop. Wouldn't stop asking.

"Dawn," Buffy choked out. Dawn shut up. "He's gone," Buffy whispered.

"Gone where?"

"Gone."

End book one.