This chapter's a little longer than most of the others, so I hope you guys don't mind having to put a little bit more time into reading this.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other Buffyverse characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Her entire body screamed out in pain as Buffy pulled the knife off of her skin, its blade stained with blood. Looking away from the small stream of blood that poured down off of her arm, Willow bit back the tears that kept threatening to flow down her cheeks.
"What's the matter, Wills? Don't you like how that feels?" The demon asked, using the bottom of her jeans to wipe off the Witch's blood from the knife. Her eyes closed, Willow didn't answer the vampire, still trying to prevent herself from crying out from the massive amount of pain she was in. Almost disappointed with the lack of a response, Buffy dropped the weapon on a nearby table before returning to her position in front of her prisoner.
"I'll tell you what, how would you like to see something?" Reaching out with her finger, the vampire forced the girl head up, almost smiling as she saw the girl open her eyes. "I'm sure you'd like a break from me hurting you."
"W-what?" The red-head stuttered, unable to stop one tear from falling down her cheek.
"You remember that statue Angelus had before, the one that could end the world?" The Witch nodded. "Well, I've given thought about reactivating him, but I wanted to get your opinion on it first."
"Oh, god, no, no, no, no…" The girl started to babble, closing her eyes again.
"So, I take it you think that's a bad idea?" Continuing with her babbling, the Witch simply nodded. Watching her, Buffy again smiled. "Alright then, I won't do that. But…that gives me more time to spend with you."
As he dusted the last vampire in sight, Angel almost felt a slight ease as the room fell silent. Faith had already dispatched the last vampire from her 'side', and as she wiped a small beet of sweat from her forehead, she offered the vampire a smile.
"Geez, if the rest of them are as easy as that, I might be out of a job soon."
"Let's just find Willow and get out of here." He said, making his way out of the room and checking the hallway for any stranglers.
"Ok, where did the sarcastic smart-ass I met outside go?" She asked, giving the vampire a curious look. "Oh, wait, I know, this is all about your girlfriend again."
"Don't bring her into this."
"Angel, you can't lie to me. I get the feeling that you're not that good at this. Trust me, I'm an expert at lying, and you've got the 'I'm bad at it' stamp all over you." Before she could blink, he had his hand around her neck, her back pressing against the wall of the mansion. His face was still in its vampire form, only adding more danger to the Slayer's current position.
"You want the truth? I'll give it to you." His grip on her throat wasn't tight enough that she couldn't breathe, but it was still firm enough to keep her from squirming out of his grip. "Tara is going to try the spell again. We need to get Willow so she can establish a mind meld with her. Once they do that, she should have enough power to make Buffy's soul regain control."
"Remember what I told you outside? I'm not here for her, and to be honest, I wouldn't mind jamming a stake into her heart. Remember how she tried to kill me? Not really something I can just forgive and forget."
"Listen to me, Faith, because I'm not going to repeat this for you." His face was only inches away from her own now, and as she looked at the anger coursing through the vampire's eyes, she almost shivered. "If you so much as move towards her with a stake, I'll snap your neck."
"That a promise, or are you just spewing out hot air?" That single taunt made him tighten his grip on her neck, only for a moment, but long enough to make her actually choke. Releasing his grip on her, Angel's face changed back into its human form, and he turned away from her.
"That's up for you to decide."
"So what do we do now?" Xander asked, watching as Tara once again sat in the middle of a circle drawn on the floor of the library.
"We wait. Once Faith or A-Angel can get Willow to s-s-someplace I can connect with her, I should h-h-have enough power to make Buffy's soul s-stronger than the demon."
"And let the waiting games begin."
"Do you ever think about death, Wills? About how you want to go out? You know, the way I died wasn't all that bad, sure, it hurt like hell for a few seconds, but after that it was like complete and total bliss." The smile momentarily disappearing from her lips, the vampire dropped her finger back to her side. "I could make you like me, give Dru and Spike a sister. Would you like that?"
"Oh, come now, Wills. You're a smart girl, I'm sure you and Dru would get along fine. She'd probably be able to teach you a thing or two that you wouldn't be able to learn anywhere else."
"No." She said the word stronger now, despite the tears that were pouring out of her eyes now.
"Think carefully." Stopping in her tracks, Buffy rested her chin on the girl's shoulder, only inches away from a scabbed wound from earlier. "Because I'm not going to offer this to you again. You remember how good it felt when I bit you? How all of that pain was just gone and you felt nothing but warmth? I can make you feel all of that again, only you'd feel it for the rest of the eternity."
The girl didn't answer her, and as Buffy pushed herself away from the chair, she heard that pesky soul talking to her once again. Apparently whatever spell this Tara girl had done to her, it still had a few after effects. The spell itself hadn't been strong enough to grant the soul complete control of the body, but she could still talk.
"Enough, don't you ever get tired of doing this?" It asked, and for a split second, the demon thought she could see the soul crossing her arms across her chest.
"Not really. Lesson I picked up from our mate. Pain is one of the things that makes the kill even better."
"He is NOT our mate. He is your mate."
"And I suppose you think Angel will actually want you back after what I've had us do?"
"He doesn't blame me, he blames you." Simply from the soul's tone of voice, the demon could tell that she didn't believe it herself.
"You're in this just as much as I am. And even if Angel accepts you back, do you really think any of your pathetic little friends will do the same? I killed Oz, so Willow most likely hates you. Xander seems to be the only one we've haven't hurt, might have to correct that soon enough. We've probably scared Tara for the rest of her adult life since we snapped the boy's neck in front of her. And Giles, well, Angelus made sure that he won't forget what both he and we are capable of."
"They all know it was you that did those things. It wasn't me."
"Ah, because you're so weak and pathetic that they had to use magick to try and help you."
"What, are we hurting your feelings? God, you're fucking pathetic."
"I'm not the one forced to live by being a leach."
"You know, I enjoyed draining our mother. Her blood tasted good flowing down our throat."
"Alright, can you sense any of your wacked family in there?" Faith asked, pressing her body back against the wall as she tried to peek in through the crack in the door.
"Spike and Drusilla are in there, Buffy isn't…she's in a different room."
"But the door to that room just happens to lead right through the two love birds."
"Right." Closing his eyes for a moment, Angel's face morphed into its vampire form when he opened them. "She doesn't know we're here."
"Man, those bond things are kinda freaky."
"Comes in handy though. It's part of the reason Angelus marked her as a mate. When he did that, it connected her to him in ways that surpassed the usual sire/childe bond. It was a way of being connected to her, but at the same time knowing what she was thinking."
"Basically wanting to make sure she wasn't screwing some other vamp behind his back?" The statement drew a glare from the vampire, but he nevertheless answered the Slayer.
"In a way, yeah."
"Seems effective. Much cheaper than hiring someone to follow her around." Turning her attention back to the two vampires lying only a few feet away from where she and Angel were hidden behind the door, Faith twirled the stake in her hand a few times before glancing over at the ensouled vampire. "Let's get this over with, the quicker we're out of here, the better. Seeing the vamp who stabbed me isn't on my list of things to have fun with."
"You're a monster." The soul said, still pressing against the 'cage' that the demon had put her in.
"We're the same person. Even if you ever get back in control, I'll still be here, watching, feeling, talking to you. You'll never be free of me. Now shut up, I'm talking to our friend here."
"So, Willow, what do you think of our offer? You'll be one of our little family." As she spoke, Buffy ran her fingers through the girl's red-hair, as if the action would calm the girl down. "You'd have siblings, plus parents that actually care about you."
"Why do you want me?" Hearing the Witch's response, Buffy smiled.
"Oh, silly girl. I want you to be close to me. After all, all of that power that's just wrapped up inside you, imagine what you would be possible of."
"But I don't even know what power you keep talking about." As she spoke, Willow swore that she felt Tara's presence in her mind, but it quickly faded as she noticed it.
"But that can all be changed. There are numerous things that I'm sure Spike and Drusilla have learned over the years that could help you understand. Once Angelus comes back to us, I'm sure he would have things to teach as well."
"And this all involves me becoming a vampire?"
"Well, I don't think you could live for eternity if that didn't happen."
"I miss Daddy, Spikey. He's been gone for much too long."
"Dru, I think we're doing fine without him." His eyes still closed, Spike could feel Drusilla moving about from where she lay on top of him. "If he does come back, he'll only serve to make sure the Slayer is happy."
"But Mummy misses her Daddy. She wants him back. The halo around her head tells me things." The Sire answered, chuckling slightly as she twirled part of her own hair with her finger. "Things that I don't think Mummy would want me to know."
"Oh, and what would those be, love?" Smiling, Drusilla opened her mouth to answer, but as she felt something sharp piece her back and make its way into her heart, she stopped and looked down at her childe, surprise filling out her pupils.
"Dru?" As his sire disappeared into a pile of dust, Spike looked up into the waiting eyes of the other Slayer that Buffy had warned him about.
"Guess you don't need to know." She said, twirling the stake while she grinned sarcastically at him. As the rage inside of him boiled and quickly overtook every one of his senses, Spike was on his feet in a moment, his hands shooting out for the Slayer. Actually taken off-guard, Faith felt the vampire's fists slam into both her mid-section and her wrist, causing her stake to be sent flying across the room. Unable to block the attack, she felt the vampire's fist connect with the side of her face, the impact nearly sending her to the floor. Still reeling from the punch, Faith found herself looking up at the ceiling as Spike kicked her, his boot landing firmly on her stomach. As the concrete floor connected with her back, she almost hissed as the pain in her stomach began to become overwhelming.
"Having fun, Slayer?" He asked, his yellow eyes staring down at her with a mix of anger and bloodlust lining every inch of his face. Reaching down, her grabbed the collar of her jacket and promptly threw her across the room, her body eventually connecting with the opposite wall. The blow again sent waves of pain souring through her already sore body, but she nevertheless got back onto her feet, trying her best to shake the blow off.
Seeing Spike charging towards her, she was barely able to raise her arms in order to block the vampire's attacks. As he continued to throw punches at her, the Slayer let herself be pushed back, aware of what was around her. There were a few things that she could use as substitute weapons should it come down to a desperate situation.
"What's the matter, Spike? I take it you're mad that I just destroyed the only thing you had left to a family?" As she taunted the vampire, Faith instantly saw the opening he had left in his attack patterns, and exploited it, the kick sending Spike away from her, and giving her enough time to properly catch her breath.
"Trust me, Slayer, I'm going to enjoy spilling your blood all over this place." As he got back onto his feet, Spike cracked his neck in a gesture of just warming up.
"Who said I was going to give you the chance?"
As she heard the first sounds of a struggle coming from deeper inside the house, Buffy turned her attention away from her captive and listened. There were the tell-tale signs of punches and kicks being thrown, and accompanying them was the destruction of numerous objects that were no doubt scattered around the room. Just as a window shattered, she heard the door behind her open, the wooden object slamming against the wall opposing it. As she felt a familiar presence enter the room, she smiled, turning to find her sire standing behind her.
"Hello, Angel. Welcome home." She said, the smile never once leaving her face as she spoke. As he stared back at her, Angel for a moment doubted being here, even knowing that all he had to do was keep the demon inside of her busy long enough for Tara to establish the link with Willow. After that, Buffy's soul would be back in control, and they could deal with anything that came after.
"Buffy…" He started, his voice dying out as she interrupted him, her hands still on Willow's shoulders. There was no sign that she had any intention to harm the Witch at the moment, but knowing the demonic nature of the entity in control of her body, that could all change within a matter of moments.
"Hello to you too. Seems a little rude not to reply to your mate's greeting."
"Let her go. This is between you and me, she hasn't done anything to deserve your wrath."
"Oh, is that what you think?" She replied, her fingers wrapping around the Witch's throat in the process. "I seem to recall that she cast a spell on you that restored your soul. I think that's enough grounds to think she's involved in this."
"Angel…" As the name escaped from her lips, Willow fell silent once Buffy's fingers wrapped tighter around her throat, barely allowing enough air to enter into her lungs.
"Sssshhh, the adults are talking right now."
"Buffy, there's a part of you in there that doesn't want to hurt her. Part of you is still that seventeen year old girl that's the Slayer."
"Still talking to that pesky soul? Sorry, she's not home right now, but can I take a message?" I'm going to enjoy watching him hurt you.
"Yeah, tell her I'm sorry." Reaching out, he grabbed one of the broadswords that lay on a nearby table, his fingers wrapping around the hilt of the blade. "Let's finish this."
"Seems like a fun idea. I know how much you like pain." As she let go of Willow's throat, Buffy easily caught the other broadsword as Angel threw it to her. Brandishing the weapon, she again smiled at her sire. "Let the games begin."
Again he lunged for her, this time missing her as she quickly threw herself out of the way. As she rolled across the floor, Faith almost smiled as the vampire connected with the wall, his fist almost going completely through the material. Almost instantly recovering from the attack, the vampire turned his eyes towards her, the Slayer being the sole object of his rage. Dru's ashes were still scattered over his clothing, and the very thought that his sire was now nothing more than specks on his shirt only made more rage boil inside of him.
He could hear the heart inside of her chest beating faster, the adrenaline no doubt cycling through her veins edging her on. The sound of her heart beating made his stomach long to have some of her blood in his system, the warmth and taste that accompanied the blood of a Slayer having been there twice before now. It was a taste that was completely unique.
"You know, I'm kinda liking see you angry. Angel didn't ever really tell me much about you."
"Oh, trust me, you haven't seen anything yet, pet." His fist flying out ahead of him, Spike almost growled with anger as his attack again missed its mark.
"Really, because I'm thinking I've seen all I need to." She continued to taunt him, a smile dancing on the edges of her lips. For a single moment, he wanted nothing more than to rip that smile off of her face. "Come on, show me some of the strength that vampires are known for…assuming you have the brains to back it up." His guard dropping for one moment, he was unable to block the punch the girl threw at him, the blow striking him directly on the chin. That blow was followed by another, and another, his body being pushed back more and more each time.
He had barely known the window was behind him until the sound of it breaking filled his ears, and his body was on nothing but air. There was a short drop to the ground, and as he hit it, he felt every bone in his body almost shatter. Looking up at the broken window, he saw the Slayer offer him a sarcastic salute, and then she disappear back into the building.
Picking himself up off the ground, he briefly considered going after her, but knew that there would be plenty of other opportunities. The Slayer wouldn't risk leaving the Hellmouth unguarded, and he had an eternity of time to spend trying to kill her.
There would be other nights.
Again and again their swords clashed against each other, the metal blades emitting the occasional spark as they met with great force behind each blow. Much of the room around them had been destroyed as a result of their battle, and as she ducked underneath her sire's attack, Buffy moved with an inhuman speed as she swung the sword towards him. Both her and Angel's bodies were covered with torn clothing where blood seeped out from already closed cuts, the smell of the liquid only fueling the two vampire's senses as they fought.
Seated across the room, Willow could only watch as the two vampires fought, the tide of the battle changing time and time again without end. Her mind was barely conscious after the days of torture that the demon inside Buffy had inflicted on her. Closing her eyes, she so desperately wanted to give in to her body's need for rest.
"Willow?" Tara's voice sprang out in her mind, the sound of it bringing her back from the very edge of unconsciousness.
"T-Tara?" She said, her voice escaping from her lips as nothing more than a whisper. Looking through her blurred vision, she could see no-one else around her in the room.
"Willow, can you hear me?"
"Listen to me. I'm talking to you through magick. We're going to do the spell again, I'm not powerful enough to do it by myself. You need to say the spell with me."
"I don't…think…I can…"
"Willow, you can and you will. If you don't, Angel and Buffy will fight until one of them dies."
"Ok, I'll try." Closing her eyes for a moment, Willow fought back her body's need for sleep and waited for Tara to repeat the spell inside her head.
"Hecate, again heed my call."
"Hecate, again heed my call." The red-head repeated, pouring any available strength into her voice.
"Help us prevent the world's fall."
"Help us prevent the world's fall." As the words left her lips, Willow felt the magicks begin to pour into her system, giving her the added strength she need to repeat the spell. Continuing to speak, she and Tara's voices again become simultaneous, the sound of their voices ringing out through the room.
"Speak to the soul that lies within
Take the power from its demonic twin
Make her stronger than before
And make her pure once more!"
As the blade sank into his chest, Angel felt nothing but pain erupt inside him. The sword had just barely missed puncturing his heart, but it was only a small victory.
"Does that hurt?" Buffy asked, her yellow eyes focused on the red blood pouring out of her sire's chest. Her senses were filled once again with the smell of fresh blood, and despite the endless amount of cuts that covered her own body, she pulled the blade out with the full strength of her body behind it.
"Hardly." He answered, stumbling back as he tried to refocus his attention on the sword he still held tightly in his hand.
"Good to know that you can still take all that I dish out" Raising the blood-stained blade above her head, Buffy watched as her sire stood completely still, his attention turned towards the other room where Willow was still tied to the chair. Perking her own ears to the quiet voice echoing out of the room, she only managed to catch the last few words of what was being said before they finally stopped.
"I guess Willow's chanting her spells again. I'll have to talk to her about tha-." She started before she suddenly stopped mid-sentence, the sword falling out of her hand and hitting the floor with a loud clang. His full attention on his childe, Angel watched as the blood-lust in her yellow eyes began to flicker and change. As she covered her face with her hands, it changed back to that of its human guise. A primitive growl escaped from her lips, and as her body gave one last shake, she full collapsed onto the ground, her body completely and utterly still.
Rushing over to her side, Angel gathered her into his arms and looked down at her still body. Her eyes still closed, Buffy's body still refused to move. As he moved a few strands of her blonde hair out of her eyes, Angel's gaze never once left the girl's face. As moments turned into minutes, he waited for a sign of life, any sign, from her. Shaking her head slightly, she finally stirred, and as she opened her eyes, she looked up at him, her face awash with emotions.
"Angel?" She asked, moving her head slightly as if to know that she was in control of her body once again.
"I…I…" As tears began to form at the cracks of her eyes, she closed them and pressed her head against his body, her hands wrapping around his chest. Hearing nothing more from her but sobs, Angel simply held onto her, even as he heard Faith enter the room, the door effectively falling off its hinges as she kicked it down. Nothing else around him mattered as much as holding onto the girl that continued to cry into his shirt, her hands clutching at him as if he were going to leave.
He thought he heard her trying to apologize, the words muffled due to the sobs escaping from her body, but he simply shushed her, and continued to hold her, his mind finally at ease for a single fleeting moment.