A/N: Thanks so much for your patience I know it's been way too long a wait. Life's just flying by, ya know?
Anyway, huge thanks to "Litalove", "Guest" (lol), "shadow", "S1r3h", "carlos", "darkeyesgirl", Terapsina","Ero-Neko-Hime" and "spike'smate" for your reviews! I will definitely try to update again soon!
Buffy could barely focus as she went through the day, she felt like she were listening to the adults in Charlie Brown. Blah, blah, blah.
She distractedly wrote down her homework assignments, knowing the entire time that she may never have to even think about doing them. The thought brought a smile to her face, small, but a smile nonetheless.
She glanced to the right and saw Xander looking back at her, she could practically see her same thoughts flowing through his brain. The thought of being forever rid of homework providing a glimmer of hope in dark times.
She looked over to Willow she saw that the redhead's attention was fixed firmly on their teacher, hand absently writing down the information as it was said. Always the overachiever. If the world was gonna end, Willow was going to have her assignments handed in and leave this world with a 4.0.
A smooth sizzling sound cut through the night, the stench of burnt flesh was keenly smelled by anyone with nostrils. Spike really wasn't sure if that number would be a large one, as he took in the sight of his torturers. He could smell it though, it was all that he could smell. It was, after all, his flesh.
Yet he did not make a sound, teeth clenched together so hard that he wondered momentarily if they'd break off, maybe that would distract him from the torture. Trading pain for pain. He doubted that it would.
Searing heat filled his gut as a red hot poker slid in easily through his ribs, as though his flesh and muscle were no thicker than butter. He feet had already been burned raw by the hot coals he was forced to stand on. They say that Hell is filled with fire and flame, they have no idea how right they are.
Darla jolted awake when an arm flung out and hit her in the face, her eyes turned amber as she struggled to identify her surroundings. She looked over to see Spike lying next to her in a restless slumber. She put a hand on his shoulder and shook him. She groaned when he didn't wake up.
She rolled her eyes and balled her fist up, she swung her arm back before she let it fly, punching him right on the shoulder. He woke too quickly for her to move, his left hand swung out and forcefully pushed her off the bed.
She sat up and glared at the blonde who regained his senses and looked at her with a sheepish grin. "Sorry luv."
"Asshole," she mutters. "What the hell were you dreaming about?"
"Can't remember," he lied as he rolled his shoulders and got out of bed.
He sniffed the air and smirked. "Almost show time."
Darla looked at him and nodded, "Yeah. I'll get the stuff together, you get us someone to eat."
"That's not gonna happen," a new voice said, joining them.
Spike rolled his eyes. "Angelus."
Darla glanced over at the newcomers as she finished packing the bags. Oh how the mighty have fallen she thought to herself as her eyes landed on Angelus.
"'Ello, my pet," Drusilla greeted her former love dancing up to him.
"Dru," he said emotionlessly, shrugging her off.
The hurt still shown in her eyes, but a lucid understanding could be seen glimmering deep into her depths as well, and she smiled sadly at him.
"Come 'ere to baby-sit, poofter?" Spike asked his grandsire with a raised eyebrow.
"Just makin' sure you make it to the school," Angel said with a shrug.
Darla rolled her eyes,. "Stop the pissing contest and grab a bag," she ordered, her power over the family shining through as the men shut up and did as commanded. She smirked as Spike glared at her. Linking an arm through his she led them into the night.
Giles unlocked the gate and swung it open, walking inside he pulled the dust covers off the shelves and a great many weapons were brought into sight.
Xander whistled. "Wow, shiny," he grinned.
Willow smiled at him while Cordelia rolled her eyes, trying not to let her amusement show. She can't believe she's falling for Xander friggin' Harris.
Buffy entered the library with Kendra at her side, they had a lot of work to get done and not a lot of time to do it.
She looked at the weapons cage and grinned. There were many weapons that she had not been trained to use, but even those could come in handy when you're fighting for your life.
Kendra walked into the cage and picked up a strange looking stick thing. "The atlatl," she told them. A giddy grin made it's way onto her face, if she were going to die then she was going to take as many of those evil bastards down with her as she could.
Spike rolled his eyes and pushed the doors to the library open, bag of explosives in hand.
"That's not how it happened!" Darla exclaimed.
"Yeah, it is!" Angel replied.
"Maturity doth not the centuries bring," Spike said dryly causing the library's inhabitants to laugh.
"Shut up, William!" Darla told him.
Spike grinned and raised a scarred eyebrow pointedly. Darla rolled her eyes, "Like you can talk jackass."
Spike's grin widened. "I know you are but what am I?" he teased, playing along.
Buffy laughed along with her friends but her attention was focused completely on Spike. His arrival had seemed to make the air crackle around them. His eyes were more haunted today than yesterday and his smile did not reach his eyes.
Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them, "Shall we begin?"
Everyone started moving, bringing the weapons out of the cage and talking about how they were going to use them and where they'd be set up.
"Are those the explosives?" Xander asked eagerly, walking towards Spike.
"Yeah, we need to set up a perimeter around the school," Spike replied. He looked at the anxious teen standing awkwardly before him and had a brief flashback to his own humanity. "Grab a bag, whelp."
Xander grinned and did as ordered, following the blonde vampire outside. Buffy watched them go, a smile gracing her features. Her eyes met Angel's and she tried to make her smile wider.
"Probably shouldn't let Xander go alone," Angel told her grimly.
"He'll be fine," Buffy said without hesitation.
"Spike can't be trusted."
"That's enough, Angleus. Spike hasn't done anything but help since he got here," Darla said with condemnation.
Angel glared at her. "He's probably just biding his time. You know how he is."
"Yeah, I also know how impatient he is. Never one for he long con, that one."
"Mummy's right. William dances with death and doesn't try to escape. Not this time. He burns and melts, hurts and smolders as Hell drags him closer and closer with each night. The boy will be fine. My Spike will not." Drusilla spoke up, backing up Darla.
Buffy frowned. "What do you mean, 'Hell drags him closer each night?"
Drusilla looked at the slayer, the sunshine that stole her dark knight. "Dancing and twirling with daggers and hooks. Burning flesh and screaming heat. Breaking bones, taunting laughter every time sleep overtakes him. Hell does not wait for the demon," she poetically stated.
"That explains the shove," Darla muttered to herself. She glanced at the pretty blonde slayer and saw the worry that flashed through the girls eyes. The slayer turned away and started helping the redhead set up, her body with taut with tension now.
Buffy didn't understand everything that the raven haired vampire had said but she got the gist of it. Spike was visiting Hell when he slept. It explained a few things, little moments where he seemed father away and more closed off.
He was literally slipping into Hell, getting a preview of his damnation. How unfair was that? Here he was, a man-demon or not-who was knowingly giving up his life to save the world and the powers couldn't even wait until he was dead to send him to Hell.
She looked up from where she was setting up her crossbows and looked over at Willow. She was with Kendra who was teaching her how to use her stick thing. The atlata or whatever. She smiled briefly as Willow threw a dart out and hit the target.
The plan was to set weapons up along the top floor of the library, where they'd be camped out. They'd have explosives set up at the back exit of the library as well as the front. With any luck they'd have enough firepower to keep the Scourge where they wanted them.
Angel and Darla were already setting the second set of explosives up in the back, Buffy's eyes fell on Spike's former love. The crazy vampire was spinning in circles, eyes moving wildly around the room, as though she were getting a preview of the coming battle. Hell, maybe she was.
"Careful with that, Whelp. If you drop it, you blow up," Spike warned Xander as the boy stumbled and almost fell with the C4 in hand.
"Good to know," he replied breathlessly. They were almost finished. The explosives lined the entire perimeter of the school, starting at the front door of the school and ending at the door at the back of the library. There was enough distance from the building that as long as they timed it right they could take out massive numbers of the Scourge without blowing any more access points into the school or blowing themselves up.
"That should do it," Spike muttered as he laid down the last of it. He observed their work, perfectly positioned. He walked over to his car and quickly took the glowing blue sword from where he'd stashed it.
Xander looked at the blonde vampire as he walked back towards him, strange sword in hand. "Why are you doing this?" he blurted out, waving a hand towards the school.
Spike looked at him, brow raised. "I like to blow stuff up."
"No, I mean...why are you staying?"
"I'd be dead either way, innit right?" Spike pointed out. "This way I get to bring the bastards down with me."
"And you and Buffy?" Xander questioned quietly. "I've seen the way you two are together."
"Buffy will be fine, she's a tough lil chit. 'Sides, she's got you and Red to look out for her," Spike told the teen. He turned at started back inside, he had no desire for this conversation to get any deeper. Not like the boy doesn't have his own secret love affair to worry about, anyway.
Oz hung back by his van and watched the strange pair walk into the school. He'd come here to pick up a book that he'd left behind and had found someone he's pretty sure goes to school with him and an slightly older guy setting up explosives or something. He's no stranger to the weird in Sunnydale and blowing up the school doesn't sound horrible, but his curiosity was almost overwhelming-and was that a sword the blonde was carrying?
Xander tried to focus on Kendra as she showed Willow, Cordy and him how to use various weapons but his attention kept wandering around the room, watching as the unlikely team practiced with their chosen weapons. Buffy had already elected to stick with the crossbows and bows and arrows as her weapons of choice.
Spike had gleefully taken a few spears and throwing axes and hurled them through the library, hitting the bull's-eye on the targets. Drusilla had chosen a couple of chakrams, and was currently reminding him of Xena as she practiced throwing them around.
As his gaze moved to Darla and Angel he saw that they were stocking up on throwing stars, cool toys but not practical for him. You had to have good aim if you were going to take a demon out with one of those.
Kendra had decided to go with a boomerang as well as the atlatl. Willow, who was freakishly good with the dart thrower, had decided that she'd use one too.
And Xander? Well he had a stick. Which didn't look quite as dumb as it sounded because it was very tall, thick stick with a sharpened end. But it was still just a stick. He guessed that that's what happened when you were the group clown but, really? Did they even want him to survive this? Everyone else had range weapons as well melee. He supposed that if he stuck his arms out far enough the stick could have some range…
Buffy walked up the stairs and found him looking out a window up there with a strange expression on his face.
She paused for a moment, mouth slightly open as she debated asking the question. "Drusilla said something interesting," she said before she could talk herself out of it.
"Yeah?" Spike replied.
"She said that you were slipping into Hell in your dreams," she told him bluntly. No beating around the bush for Buffy.
"Sure she wasn't being poetic, luv?" Spike asked with a shuttered grin, he didn't want to talk about this. Maybe if she had found out sooner. It's too late now.
"I don't think so. It explains a few things." She paused. "You can talk to me. I want you to talk to me."
"We're not going there, slayer. Remember? 'Sides it-"
"Doesn't matter?" she asked, angrily cutting him off. "It does to me, no matter where we said we weren't going!"
"Why?" he asked calmly.
That left her speechless, because isn't that what she's been wondering this whole time? What they'd both been wondering? Why do they care so much? Why are they drawn to each other? Why does any of it matter when he was going to be dead tomorrow? "I don't know," she whispered brokenly.
Spike nodded and pointed to the window where the sky was still dark. Buffy's eyes widened as she realized what he was getting at. The two of them turned to walk back to the others. Their Hands brushed together for one brief moment and sent sparks shooting through both of them.
"Am I the only one not smelling dawn?" Darla asked suddenly, slightly worried.
"What time is it?" Angel asked.
Cordelia checked her watch, "Almost 6," she replied.
"The sun should have started to rise by now," Angel muttered.
"When night becomes day and day becomes night..." Spike intoned as he and Buffy came back into view. He looked at the people gathered in the room. "It's time."