DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters nor anything else Joss created, just the rampant plot bunnies.

SO FAR: Willow is attempting to return herself, Buffy and an injured Spike back to the real world, leaving a soul-free Angel behind. Buffy has made it clear where her priorities are, and Cordelia is most annoyed that Angel didn't listen to her.

A/N: I'm hoping to get this moving along quite nicely now, I would like to very much thank my loyal reviewer ginar369, who has kept me going with this one! I've also just completed my first 5k charity race after having lost 50lbs since last year! I ran the race in a full Pikachu onesie too! And it was really warm, so that was knackering. But it's back to the fanfiction for now. Please review if you read, it doesn't take five seconds and it's always nice to know what people think of my work!


Her eyes took a few seconds to adjust. She was blinded like someone had set off a thousand camera flashes in her eyes. She could feel Willow's hands on hers, Spike's chest solid beneath her palms, but for the moment, she couldn't see anything.

Slowly, the world around them came into focus and she blinked, shaking the dizziness of the shift between dimensions away from her mind. Looking around, she saw that her witchy friend had managed to return them to the exact same spot that they'd left in the first place. But their friends were nowhere to be seen and the lobby of the Hyperion was a mess. The front desk had a hole through it and the sofa in the middle was upturned. The pipes where Faith had been secured were ripped from the wall, and Dawn was not where Buffy had left her.

She got to her feet, frowning at her surroundings, until Willow made a funny groaning noise and sat backwards, her hand moving to her forehead. The Slayer was at her side in an instant, checking her over. 'Are you okay?' She asked, her hand coming to rest on Willow's shoulder.

The witch nodded, brushing her hand away. 'Yeah. Just took a bit more oomph with Spike. He was unconscious so it was harder to ground him.'

'Okay. Just take a minute yeah? Looks like what Angel said was true, something kicked off big time here. I'm going to go see if I can find the others.' She stood, glancing over at a still unconscious Spike, before heading for the office.

The office itself was trashed, the door hanging from a single hinge and the desk upturned. It looked like the books had either been taken or destroyed, with pages lying everywhere. The chair was in pieces on the floor and the small window to the side of the door was smashed in. Seeing no blood, she moved away from the ruined room and headed for the stairs. As she made it up the first flight, she saw feet dangling over the top step and she rushed to them, finding a passed out Xander with a nasty gash to his forehead. She remembered Angel saying he was infected, and frowned, checking him over for anything serious. His heartbeat was strong and his breathing normal – he'd just been knocked out. She hesitated, before grabbing his arms and dragging him into the nearest suite, before locking the door. She'd get Willow to magically restrain him later.

Brushing her hands off, she moved through the rest of the hotel, finding the baby slayers hidden in the same place they had been left, all still magically sedated. No one else was in the hotel, but she had found evidence of a struggle outside the room the Slayers' were in. Sighing and turning, she headed back down to the lobby to check in with Willow, dropping via Angel's old suite to grab some trousers and a t-shirt for Spike. They were oversized but better than him being naked.

She found the witch looking a much better colour, sat cross legged with her hands over Spike's damaged torso. He was still out cold.

'Find anything?' Willow asked, her eyes still shut, not moving from her task.

'I found an unconscious Xander. Locked him in one of the suite near the Slayers'. They're still out cold. What are you doing?' She sat opposite her friend and watched in fascination as the wounds on Spike slowly but surely began to fix themselves.

'Using magic from the earth to heal him. It's hard, his wounds are very bad. There's a lot of internal damage we can't see.' She exhaled and opened her eyes, dropping her hands. 'That's all I can manage. I've done a lot of magic recently, and I need to rest.'

'We're not exactly secure here.' Buffy frowned. 'Can we magically sedate Xander and put him in with the girls? We'll take a suite of our own while you rest and I'll go see if I can find Dawn, Giles, or any of the others.' Willow nodded, looking at the front door, which mostly lay in tatters on the steps coming down into the lobby.

'That sounds like a plan. Think you could rustle up something to eat whilst you're out there? I'm going to turn off these electric lights and find some candles.' The witch slowly got to her feet as Buffy began to gather Spike into her arms gently.

'I'll see what I can do. You go sort out Xander, I'll move this vamp somewhere more comfortable.'

'This is pretty useless.' Fred sighed, her head resting on her palm as she used her other hand to finger through the book she had laid out in front of her. Wesley sighed and looked up with a wry smile, shutting the book he had just finished.

'We can only persevere.' He said quietly, looking to Giles. 'Anything?' Giles didn't respond, his hand furtively scribbling notes on an already overcrowded notebook. Wesley waved at him, his brow creasing. 'Giles?' The ex-librarian still didn't respond. 'Giles?'

'Hmmm?' Giles made a noise as he looked up, a faint hint of annoyance on his face. Wesley raised his eyebrows, slightly shrugging his shoulders.


'Oh.' Giles paused and looked at his notes. 'Oh, yes! Something, I think, anyway.' He pulled the notebook on top of the book. 'I've found references to the "hero against heroes", and the "warrior of light-tinged darkness" and some about the "origins of evil". From what I can decipher from the Ancient Greek-'

'We were dealing with Latin earlier.' Wesley remarked, earning himself a scathing look.

'Yes, well it would seem that some of this prophecy has its roots in Ancient Greece. It's been known that prophecies become widespread between nations. Even over the ages. The Ancient Greek prophet Tiresias, was indicated to have predicted that the "origins of evil can only be destroyed by the fallen in possession of the staff of Opis".'

'Opis.' Wesley interrupted. 'That sounds familiar.'

'It should. Opis is the ancient Babylonian city rumoured to be on the east bank of the Tigris near the river Diyala. Near modern day Baghdad. From what I understand, this staff is most likely still there.' Giles looked back down at his notes. 'From the demon texts, this staff was created and seven times blessed by the Lord demons of the Old World, before they were driven from this plane. It was created to repel the First.'

'So, we have to get to the Middle East?' Fred asked, looking a little green at the prospect.

'It would appear so. Without the internet, or indeed, Willow, to find anything more out on the Internet, we are stuck with assuming the Staff is there.' Giles' mouth set into a thin line. 'We must return to the hotel-'

'Get off me!' A loud shriek came from the bedroom, where Cordelia was watching over Dawn. Fred, Wesley and Giles jumped to their feet, running to the bedroom in a panic, only to find Cordelia on the floor, her eyes wide as she stared at the teen on the bed. Dawn was awake, which mean Willow's spell had broken.

'Dawn?' Giles asked, earning himself a glare from the teen.

'I can't believe you tied me up.' She spat, and then clutched her head, groaning. 'What the hell-' She bent forward, kneeling forward clutching her head and her chest. As she sat back up, her eyes seemed to glow with an ethereal light. 'Ahhh, fuck.' Giles winced at the brash language coming from the teen's mouth. 'What's happening?' Dawn whimpered, all traces of the rage gone from her voice, only fear showing through. Giles stepped forward, hesitantly moving towards the girl on the bed. She seemed to claw at her face and her whole body began to vibrate.

Giles reached out a hand, his finger almost within touching distance of her, when she seemed to explode outwards, and the entire apartment filled with a brilliant green light…

Spike opened his eyes and looked around. The first thing he noticed was a candle-lit ceiling, shadows playing over it gently. He watched them for a moment, noticing that his head felt six times its normal sized and was probably stuffed with cotton wool. With each passing second, a new pain opened itself to his awareness and he began to notice that there wasn't a part of his body that didn't hurt, so it probably wasn't a good idea to move. Reaching out with his senses, he felt another being in the room with him and several more beyond. He couldn't figure out who the person with him was, and sniffing to get an idea of their scent wasn't going to be the greatest idea he'd ever have.

He'd find out who it was later.

He passed out again.

The last time she'd gone wandering through the city it had been bad, but now it was worse. Bins on fire littered the street, people fought over scraps, almost all the shops had been trashed and the ground was covered with broken glass, blood and debris. She'd come across several corpses and it seemed that even the demons and vampires were affected by the "rage". She'd broken up three fights so far, and the last one she had come across, she'd had to run away as the human portion of the scuffle had then targeted her after she dispatched the demon. Luckily, utilising her Slayer skills, she managed to evade them.

She'd been wandering for an hour now, and had scavenged a bag of food and water for her and Spike. The butchers had been trashed and nothing was worse grabbing for Spike. The Slayer in her had rebuked at the idea, but she had come to terms with the fact that she would have to give him her blood and had done since she'd found him in the terrible condition he was in.

And she couldn't leave them much longer. Buffy had every faith in Willow's ability to protect herself and the others, but she wasn't going to run the risk of scouring the city. She had to trust that her sister was safe, that her friends were safe too. They would be reunited. An angry Giles would survive in this world.

Turning back on her path, she scaled the side of a building, standing atop the roof as a gang of angry humans passed by below. She hadn't wanted to entangle with any more groups, none of these people had asked for what happened and they could be saved. She knew that much. She never failed.

They just had to hope Spike could battle through after the number The First had done on him.

She scrambled across to the adjoining building, leaping the wide gap like it was a short step. The bag she carried rattled a little and she picked up the pace, not wanting to attract any unwanted attention. When she saw the Hyperion across the road, she climbed down a fire escape and sprinted to the front door, making sure she wasn't followed by slipping inside the dark building. Her Slayer senses couldn't detect anyone else in the lobby, and she quickly headed for the room she had left Willow with Spike in.

Buffy tapped on the door, feeling the magic protecting the room. Willow's muffled voice called out and she opened the door, quickly shuffling in and shutting the door behind her.

'Hey.' Willow chorused from her position on the floor. She was reading an old book she'd recovered from the office, having little energy to pick up healing Spike. Buffy moved over to sit next to the unconscious vampire, pulling the bag off of her shoulder and placing it next to Willow, who pounced on it with glee.

'Any change?' Buffy asked, checking Spike's wounds over.

'No. He opened his eyes briefly, and he was definitely awake, but he didn't say anything or move. He passed out again fairly quickly, I imagine from the pain.'

'Well, you get your strength up,' Buffy said, motioning to the bag. 'I'm going to do what a Slayer does best for her injured vampire.' Willow eyed her warily and Buffy knew the question in the witch's eyes. 'Don't worry. I don't think he could pull an Angel off if he tried.' Willow bobbed her head slightly, although the worry in her eyes did not decrease. She rummaged through the bag and came out with a packet of potato chips, that she ripped open and dug into. She found a carton of orange juice in the bag, along with a brioche roll, which she set to the side for Buffy.

The Slayer settled herself next to the sleeping vampire, her eyes roaming over his battered shell. She'd managed to get the trousers she had located onto him earlier, but she'd decided to leave his top half bare until he had healed. Slipping off her ripped jacket, she discarded it, knowing it had seen better days than the blood smeared ones she'd subjected it to. They've have to scavenge more clothes before they started looking caveman B.C.

She leant over the vampire, pressing her wrist to his mouth, hoping he would smell the tasty slayer blood and get the hint. After a few minutes of rubbing her flesh against his partially open mouth, she sighed and pulled away, looking around. Willow handed her a small pocket knife, which Buffy accepted gratefully, wincing when the half-dull blade bit into her skin. Blood welled up to the surface, and she saw Spike's nostrils flare. She held her wrist over his mouth, and let her blood drip in, waiting with baited breath for a few seconds as nothing happened.

Then he swallowed and she just about passed out in relief. His hand snaked up slowly from its resting place on the floor and he pulled her wrist closer. She saw the bones in his face ripple and then he grimaced, finding vamping out too painful. He used blunt teeth to latch onto her flesh, sucking hard as Buffy bit her own lip. After a few moments of slow pulls on her blood, he licked the gash clean, before gently pushing her arm away. He didn't open his eyes, but the corner of his bruised mouth hitched up in a small smile as he whispered "Thank you". Buffy nodded, and leant over, kissing his forehead before looking to the witch.

'He's out again.' Willow whispered. 'You should get some rest. I need to meditate to get more power. I'll wake you up in a couple of hours and you can let me sleep. Have these first.' She held out the supplements she'd pulled out of the bag earlier.

Buffy nodded, feeling the tiredness in her body. She took the roll and juice that Willow offered and wolfed them down, before settling herself down next to Spike, her hand resting in his as she drifted off to sleep.

'What are you doing here, pet?'

She turned, smiling as he emerged from the darkness of the Bronze balcony. Moving towards him slowly, she checked him over.

'You look better.' Her smile got wider. 'No bones sticking out anymore.'

'All thanks to you and Red.' Spike whispered, a hand sneaking out to push a strand of hair behind her ear. 'You saved me. Like I never did you.'

'You saved me plenty, Spike.' Buffy replied, her hand coming to rest on his chest. 'I couldn't save your soul though. There's no getting that back.'

'Does it matter?' He asked, leaning his forehead against hers.

Buffy sighed. 'Maybe. To some.' He pulled back a little but she held him close, capturing his lips in a deep kiss. 'But not to me. Not anymore.' He smiled, kissing her back, before he was cruelly ripped from her. He landed against the wall behind them, the injuries she'd previously seen on him reappearing in an instant. 'Spike!' She shouted, and then the Bronze was full of people, music flooding her ears as she struggled to get to the fallen vampire. 'Spike!'

Strong arms encased her from behind, and she turned, finding Angelus holding her and swaying to the music. She shrieked and pounded against his chest, her eyes wide and bright as she fought against him. He laughed and carried on dancing, spinning her round as she felt sick and tried to seek out Spike in the crowd. The floor beneath their feet glowed green and Angelus stopped dancing, panic alighting in his eyes as he dropped the slayer to the floor. The panic dissipated as he glared down at her furiously.

'Give me your best shot, Buff.'

She jumped up and the world disappeared into green.

A/N: I don't know if you'll get anymore this weekend. It's going to be a very busy few weeks for me, but I'll try my best!