Ring on her Finger

By Nickeltaffy

Disclaimer: I would like to thank Joss for the use of his characters. They are still his and will never be mine. (heavy sigh).

Chapter 32

"Oh, my God! Do you see that? That's him, the creature! He's got Spike. We gotta do something!"

"It is out of our hands, now." Aunt Charlotte answered, solemnly.

"What kind of British stiff upper lip stuff do you have going on in your family?" Buffy asked, exasperated. Holding up an upraised palm at the woman, she asked. "How you just standing there?"

"What does it matter to you?" the older woman responded. Then tilting her head in oddly familiar fashion, she added. "I thought you didn't care about William?"

"I didn't say that and …wait. Now, we have to talk about feelings? Talk about your lousy timing!" Buffy griped. Waving her hand and pointing at the pool, she exclaimed. "Hello, bigger issues at stake! You know, like your nephew is going to be handed his ass!"

"That is beyond our control. You haven't answered my question. Why should you care about what happens to William?" Charlotte studied the girl before her as she began to press for an answer.

"I would love to have a sit down and a girl chat about my feelings and relationships, but there are other things going on right now!" Buffy sniped at the woman "There's gotta be something we can do!"

Barely able to keep still, she frantically looked back to the pool. The scene had not changed, Spike was still in danger. Buffy's head whipped around to glance around the room. As she did so, she happened to glance upon her hand and saw the ring sitting there.

"The ring! It brought me here. It worked on the creature before." Buffy started smacking the ring with the flat of her hand as she demanded. "Tell me how to turn the darn thing on!"

"Abusing the ring is fruitless. It will do no good." The woman stated as she held up her hand to halt Buffy's flurry of slapping and shaking the ring. "The ring will not respond."

"Well, then tell me how it DOES work!" The slayer urgently appealed, looking up from her hand. Buffy stared a moment at Charlotte for a response. When none came, she grumbled as she smoothed back her hair. "I am getting a little tired of the whole mysterious act. You could be a little more on the help-y side, you know."

"This is William's battle. I am afraid all you can do is watch."

….

Spike was frozen for a moment as the image of his father looked back at him. He could not tear his eyes away from the figure in front of him whose absence had created such a void in his early life. As a young boy, he had spent hours staring at the miniature painting of the man in front of him. He would pick up the frame from his mother's bedside table and study it, looking for any similarity between the handsome man in the picture and his plump childish features. Every once in a while, he would catch his mother looking at him and saw the pain of losing of his father in her eyes. It was an unreal experience to now see that same face from that small picture looking back with a dispassionate glare.

The sudden bracing chill of the hand closing around his windpipe barely brought Spike back to his present circumstance. He was so mired in surprise that his limbs floundered as he was abruptly pulled forward by the hand around his throat. Spike's eyes fastened on the alien and yet familiar face of his father in front of him. Like it or not, he was so overcome with long buried emotions, as he placed his hands on the arm holding his neck. It wasn't until he felt the smooth chill under his hands that caused him to pull his eyes away from the face. He saw the silver mirror like surface traveling up from the hand around his throat. It took a moment for him to realize he was only seeing an image of his father, not his father at all. He realized that the creature was using this apparition of his father against him. Spike realized he was under attack. Looking back up from the arm, Spike's eyes darted up as he glared up at the face. Curling his lip, he began to get mad as he dug his fingers to pull free from the creature.

"I've had just about enough with the mind games, ya Git!" Spike sneered at the apparition before him.

It was just at that moment that he was flung easily away by the creature. As he skidded on his shoulder almost thirty feet away, Spike's eyes were trained on the figure of his father as it became something else. All references to his father quickly melted away and were replaced by the silvery flashing appearance of the creature.

"Aren't you the tricky poof? Of all the cheap tired carnival acts…..I haven't seen anything so heavy handed since Leo froze to death holding on to a door in the ocean. What was the plan? Get me all weepy and whatnot and then WHAM!" Spike taunted. He spat as he slowly stood up. He looked over at the creature with narrowed eyes. "Well, sorry, Wanker. All that did was make me angry."

Spike pressed his mouth into a thin line as he took a wide stance, his eyes measuring his other worldly opponent. With a small smirk, he tilted his head from one side to another to pop his neck on one side and then the other. Straightening his neck, he began to bounce on his feet, readying for the battle as a little grin appeared on his face.

"Come on! Let's dance."

…..

"Oh, No!" Buffy groaned as she placed her face in her hands. "He's actually going to fight him. This SO doesn't look good."

Buffy quickly looked around the room and then over at Charlotte.

"Isn't there any way to get to him? To help him?" Buffy pleaded, as her face became flush.

"No, my dear. We cannot interfere. This is HIS battle." The woman calmly answered.

"But he is totally outclassed by this guy. AND he's had a really hard day..It's not fair!" Buffy muttered as she crossed her arms. "I mean, he could have at least started looking for a weapon."

…..

With a yell, Spike charged the creature. He slung a few furious blows at the creature's chest. There was no effect, the creature just stood there. Spike took a step back and flung out a roundhouse kick at the creature, again, no effect. Spike took a step back and narrowed his eyes at his opponent.

"That was pretty lame, using the specters of your past victims, poof." Spike snarked. "Or is that what you use for company around here?"

This time, Spike threw a punch at the creature's head. His fist bounced off the surface, not even causing a ripple of an impact on the creature's flesh. The vampire's eyes widened as he became aware that his blows and kicks were having no effect on the creature.

"Maybe…that cannon thing wasn't such a bad idea." Spike muttered to himself.

Just then, the creature reached over, grabbing a handful of Spike's coat and shirt, tossed him like a piece of trash. Flying twenty feet away, Spike finally rolled to a stop. He glanced over his shoulder, looking back at the creature as he sat up.

"Way to go, Spike. You're definitely out of your weight class…" Spike griped as he saw the creature turn and walk towards him.

Spike began to quickly get to his feet but before he could fully stand, he was again flying through the air again. He landed with a solid sounding thud on his back. Blinking from pain of impact, the vampire gingerly raised his head and looked around desperately for something to use against his opponent. Before he had even had a chance to stand, he felt his body again flying through the air as the creature kicked him. The kick had sent him farther than the previous tosses. However, this time, he was able to get to his feet before the creature reached him. He charged forward and pulled back his arm as he intended to smash the creature. This time, the creature simply caught the vampire's fist in his palm. Spike froze for a second as he looked up at the creature. It did not move. Suddenly, Spike felt a strange sensation in his hand. He tried to pull it away but saw the creature's hand swell around his trapped hand, like a giant leach. He, again, tried to jerk his hand away to no avail. His hand was trapped in the mirror like substance.

….

"Come on! Get away from him!" Buffy screamed. "Just pull your hand away, idiot!"

"You do seem to be quite upset at his predicament. Why?"

"Well, of course…. I…I What's with all the questions?" Buffy sputtered. Taking a breath, she begrudgingly added. "Look, it's like a football game; I am just cheering for my side."

….

His hand...it was on fire with the icy coldness. He was shocked with the creature held his fist with such ease. He waited for the creature to thrust him away, but it simply stood there. Spike's face wrinkled as his gaze went down from the creature's so called face and down to where his hand was imprisoned. He wrinkled in face as the expression soon turned into a sneer. He attempted to jerk his hand back, almost throwing him off balance when it did not move. He tried again as he gritted his teeth with the effort, again, to no avail. He began to feel the freezing sensation seep down to the bones of his hand. A moment later, another sensation began to accompany the cold feeling. He felt a pulling, a sense of something being drawn away from him.

A tiny ball of anger began to grown within Spike's mind. Instinctively, he concentrated on it making it more and more condensed. An organic surge of energy flew from the center of Spike's being through him. A glow began to appear in the creature's hand and suddenly there was an explosion.

Spike's body was flung back by the blast like a discarded broken doll. He skidded on his shoulder as his body finally came to a halt. He lay there dazed for a moment, unable to move. He was free, but incredibly weakened. He could barely move he was so drained. The energy that he had tapped to get the creature to release him was the only thing that had kept him on his feet. Now, his psychic state was very close akin to his physical state. All the recent events having taken their toll on his physical and psychic state, he could barely stand. He knew that he had only just managed to break free from the creature. He also knew that he would not be able to free himself again and would likely die in the next encounter.

He awkwardly struggled to his feet, pitching forward and barely catching himself a few times. He looked down at his hand, expecting to see a bloody mass, but saw his hand looked entirely unscathed. Although it felt bruised and scrapped, it appeared to be perfectly unmarred. Looking up, he scanned the area for the creature. It was not in sight. Spike knew it was a matter of time before it appeared again. He had to find something to better his odds; he turned wildly, searching for anything that could assist him in this fight. Then, he saw something in the distance. He slowly and ungainly started to run toward it, barely keeping his body upright as it tried to collapse. Unconsciously, his hand covered the small protrusion of the dart still stuck in his chest. It was situated just an inch over his heart. It would be his last option. He knew that the creature would drain him not only of his life but the integral part that was himself. Would he become just another shade in this dimension? He knew he would rather dust before that happened. It was then that he came upon something odd.

"What have we here?" Spike thought as he stopped in front of it

It was a large dark stone. Just like the one he had seen on the dais in the temple of Avestan. He stared at it perplexed for a moment. Reaching out a hand to touch the stone, he became aware of the presence behind him. Turning slowly, he once again heard the chant coming from the creature which made his skin crawl.

"Vyrrendissx Malnifsssronnlephyk Zyrreagbimv Qodetjgaksper"

"So, this is it? Is it? I really thought I would be treated to more witty banter before I bit the big one. I have to say, you really need to brush up on your small talk." Spike snarked with a smirk. "Perhaps, you should look into getting one of those self help books on how to communicate. You know…Dale Carnegie and his gang."

Suddenly, the creature backhanded Spike away from the stone. Spike landed twelve feet away on his back, staring up at the creature. Blood gushing from a gash in his forehead, Spike shakily lifted his upper body up to a sitting position. He pressed both hands to the floor as he unsteadily propped himself up, looking over at the creature.

"Or maybe not. I get your message loud and clear." Spike muttered. Taking a few deep breaths, he announced. "Alright, time to go! I get it. Let's not drag this out!"

With dwindling energy and based on pure mule headed obstinacy, Spike shakily managed to get to his feet. He swayed unsteadily as he concentrated on maintaining his balance. Taking a deep breath, he charged the creature once more with the last of his energy. His weakness and exhaustion overwhelmed him as he moved forward, but he was not able to sustain the charge. His sense of balance disserted him as his charge disintegrated into an ungainly side stagger. Without intending it, he found himself drifting over to the stone. His momentum carried him over till he fell crumpled across the stone. His body slowly slid down, as his hands braced against the stone. His legs collapsed under him, until he was sitting next to the stone, his shoulder leaning against it. Barely able to raise his head, it bounced as he lifted his eyes to regard the creature. Spike turned his body slightly to be better able to see the creature, as he waited for the killing blow.

As his body brushed against the stone, it abruptly changed the color. The creature suddenly recoiled in reaction. Spike's eyes darted away from the creature and around to see what happened. Looking down, he realized that the end of the dart in his chest is brushing against the stone. Out of the corner of his eye, Spike noticed that the creature seemed to react in pain.

"So, you don't like that, do you? You're tied to this stone. Maybe, there is a weapon to be had, ya burk!" Spike said through his gritted teeth.

Spike wrapped his hand around the dart in order to pull it out and shove it into the stone. To his disappointment, he found that dart was still solidly stuck in him. Looking up, he observed that the creature had recovered and begun to approach again. Seeing his time is running out, Spike closed his eyes and opened them with renewed determination. Exhausted, Spike turned and flattened his back against the stone. Wrapping hand around the end of the dart sticking out of his chest and pulling his chin forward in resolve, he looked up to see the creature looming over him.

"Buffy, I love you..." he whispered a truth he would scarcely admit to himself.

With a sudden forceful action, Spike pressed the dart through him and into the stone. For a moment, Spike's body froze and lost all color. The vampire's gray outline stood in place for an instant before it shattered into a million tiny micro fragments. The dust showered down over the dark stone. In the next instant, the stone erupted into a conflagration of brilliant bright golden light, obliterating everything.

….

Buffy reeled back from the pond, her hands in front of her, eyes closed, her head turned away from the overwhelming blinding light. With her face turned away, she didn't see that the stone on her ring is shining the same brilliant golden light.