(Ten years ago) May 2001, Sunnydale, Glory’s tower, “Whedon-verse Dimension” (aka: Canon):
Dawn screamed above her on the rickety tower and Buffy’s head jerked up involuntarily, trying to see what was happening. The hell-god lay beaten at Buffy’s feet, now morphed into her human form of Ben. The Slayer rushed away from him, this fight was over – she had to get up the tower, up to Dawn.
For the first time in months the Slayer felt a small surge of hope burst forth in her heart. It felt like the weight of the world lifted off her shoulders in that moment. Finally they had won; they had defeated Glory, saved her sister and the world. It hadn’t been easy. In fact, it had been one of the hardest battles she’d ever waged, mentally, emotionally, and physically. But, with the help of her friends and Spike, she had finally done the impossible – defeated a god.
As she flew up the shaking tower, the biggest weight on her heart was knowing that, even though they could go home, her mom wouldn’t be there waiting. She still missed her every moment of every day, but she had Dawn and that’s what she had to concentrate on now. It’s what her mom would’ve wanted.
Giles knelt down next to the beaten and bloodied man whom he had once considered to be their … well, if not friend, then certainly not an enemy – an ally perhaps. “Can you move?” he asked sympathetically as Ben struggled to breathe through his bloodied nose and mouth.
“Need … a minute,” Ben stammered out. “She could’ve killed me.”
Giles shook his head slowly. “No, she couldn’t. Never. And, sooner or later, Glory will re-emerge and make Buffy pay for that mercy and the world with her. Buffy even knows that, and still she couldn’t take a human life. She’s a hero, you see,” Giles pointed out, smiling sadly at Ben.
“She’s not like us,” he added after a moment, but it wasn’t Giles any longer, it was Ripper. His gaze hardened and his mouth drew into a determined, grim line as he stared down at the beaten man. There was only one thing left to do, for Buffy, for Dawn, for the world.
“Us?” Ben questioned, his eyes widening with fear.
Giles reached a hand down and covered the human’s mouth and nose. The Watcher pressed down with all his strength, cutting off Ben’s oxygen supply and smothering him.
Looking down on Glory’s human vessel, a glimmer of pity rose in the Watcher, the gentler soul of Giles surfacing past the determined Ripper. Ben was a victim, controlled and suppressed by the hell-god. An innocent, just like Dawn, caught in the ruthless attempt of a power hungry bitch on her way to regain her former position and rank. Ben hadn’t chosen this fate; it was dumped on him, he’d had no choice.
Suddenly appalled with himself, Giles’ grip loosened slightly. Ben took a deep, shuddering breath and opened his eyes to look up at the Watcher, silently begging for mercy. Ben gulped hungrily at the oxygen that his body thirsted for, drinking it in like a parched desert would drink a blessed drop of rain. Giles closed his eyes, trying to get his nerve back, his determination back. He had to do this, for Buffy if for no other reason, he admonished himself.
Before he could summon his resolve again, the Watcher was thrown across the battleground. His body slammed into one of the shaky and tenuous legs of the tower that Glory’s crazy human minions had built and the whole thing swayed dangerously. Giles cried out, his voice masking the grotesque crunch of bone. The pain in his back was excruciating, but only for a moment, then it faded to nearly nothing. He tried to reach behind him as he slid down to the ground under the tower, but he couldn’t get his arm to work. Or the other arm. He tried to stand but his legs wouldn’t move either.
All he could do was look up and watch Glory pick her way deliberately through the debris towards him. She had the troll hammer gripped in her hands and a deadly, angry glint in her eyes. “You were right,” Glory informed Giles coldly. “I’m back.”
It was the last thing Giles ever heard as she slammed the hammer down on his skull. The last thought that flashed in his mind was for Buffy and Dawn, both now high up on the tower above him. He couldn’t help her now, he’d failed her; he’d failed the world.
I sincerely hope I didn’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
Funny what your mind conjures when you’re dying.
A bright flash of the portal opening drew Glory’s attention upwards. For a brief moment she stared up at the gateway, her heart lifted in absolute joy – she was nearly home! Otherworldly demons were flooding through the opening, both from her dimension and others. A giant bat flew through the portal and Glory squealed like a school-girl. She hadn’t been this giddy in so long she’d nearly forgotten what it felt like. It was even better than the time she found a pair Louboutins in her size at Bergdorf Goodman for half off!
The hell-god was so enthralled that she was only briefly aware of Doc plunging from the tower. Her faithful follower landed with a grisly crunch of bones and flesh on the ground not far from where the impertinent peroxide vampire lay unconscious, but she didn’t focus on them. There was something else holding her attention now: Dawn wasn’t alone on the tower – the Slayer was there too.
Glory’s eyes widened and she let out an ear piercing scream as she saw Buffy running towards the portal. That bitch Slayer was going to screw this up for her after all!
In an instant, Glory swung the troll hammer with all her godly strength at the base of the impoverished tower. The whole structure swayed like a drunken sailor and began listing dangerously to the left. She quickly hit it again and the tower dropped several feet, buckling in the middle and bending down like a pond bird snatching a small fish from the shallows. Glory dropped the hammer onto the ground and a satisfied smile curled her red lips. No one bested her twice.
The tower dropped out from under Buffy’s feet just as she pushed off the end – or tried to push off, but her feet hit nothing but thin air. Buffy faltered and her feet shot out from under her as she leapt off the end of the demonic high-dive. With no momentum to carry her away from the tower, she fell. Her arms flailed, trying to propel her forward into the portal, but it wasn’t enough. Her shins cracked loudly against the end of the steel gangplank before she tumbled head over heels towards the concrete below, completely missing the portal. She reached out towards the steel structure, but it was too far away – there was nothing she could do to stop the inevitable.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion while she tumbled towards the earth below. That weight that had been lifted from her suddenly crashed down on her like a wave of leaden misery. She realized with complete clarity that she had failed in her mission; failed Dawn, and failed the world. Her life flashed before her eyes: her dad running beside her as she rode her bicycle for the first time with no training wheels, her mom baking cookies at Christmastime, the day her parents brought Dawn home from the hospital, the day Merrick told her she was the Chosen One, the heartbreaking move from L.A. to Sunnydale and everything since.
It all seemed to race through her mind so quickly – too quickly. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough. It had all been leading to this moment in time, and it all ended here, in abject failure.
When Buffy hit on the concrete below the tower, her body pancaked unto itself and bounced several feet back up into the air before settling down again with a dull thud. She could actually feel every bone in her body fold and shatter, every organ explode within her.
It isn’t the fall that’ll get you, it’s the landing.
Funny what your mind conjures when you’re dying.
Death was her gift, but she was leaving this world ‘gift-less’; the Slayer had faltered, she’d ultimately failed. For the briefest moment she thought she saw Spike reach out for her, call her name, but she couldn’t really focus through the pain. Then everything faded to a dull, lifeless grey and finally darkness descended on her like the sun sinking below the horizon for the last time.
Spike crawled over to Buffy, his body mangled, bleeding and broken, even as he heard Dawn screaming above him. He looked up to see the tower whipping back and forth like a delicate reed in a savage wind. Dawn was hanging on for dear life and the portal to hell continued to expand as her blood was strewn about. Demons of every description began spewing out of the gaping maw, but he had no thoughts of them, only of Buffy and of the promise he’d made to her to protect Dawn.
He struggled to his feet, then fell back down to one knee; his leg screamed in pain like it was broken, although he wasn’t sure. He pushed the pain away. Whatever it was, it would heal – later. Now he needed to get to Dawn. He pushed himself upright and took one staggering step and then another, but it wouldn’t be enough. The whole tower creaked loudly, like millions upon millions of rusty bolts being reluctantly turned in their moorings at once, and then it just gave way, crashing down and taking Dawn with it.
Spike saw it coming right at him. He instinctively turned and dove on top of Buffy to shield her from the falling debris. Protecting Buffy was a reflex; he didn’t realize that it was already too late for that. She no longer needed him to shield her from anything.
Over the din of the steel crashing around him, he heard screams, Dawn’s screams and others. Minions and Scoobies alike were caught in the avalanche of iron and steel, as if a demonic junkyard was falling from the sky. It seemed to last an eternity as he took the brunt of the punishment on his back and legs, trying to do all he could to keep the deadly girders off the Slayer. But he had no idea how long an eternity really was. He’d lived forever, it seemed, but he couldn’t comprehend the length and depth and width of an eternity until everything went silent.
Completely still. Deathly silent. No movement. No breath. No screams. No heartbeats. There was nothing. His entire world died in that moment.
“Oh, God, Buffy,” Spike moaned as he realized there was no heartbeat, there was no breath even from her.
He’d rarely been this close to the Slayer. Except for her fist connecting with his nose, he’d only felt her touch a few precious times. That day Red’s ‘will be done’ spell went wonky came to his mind. The gentle kiss she’d given him for standing up to Glory was another moment he’d treasure until the end of time. But now here he was, next to her at last and it was too late. It was too late to hold her, to comfort her, to help her. It was too late to keep his word. He’d failed. He’d given his word to this lady who held his heart in her hands and he’d failed.
Tears came to his eyes unbidden. He couldn’t stop the sobs which wracked his body even as the demons continued to stream in from the open portal above him. It didn’t matter – the world could finally end.
What difference did it make now? He had no one to be a hero for. Buffy and Dawn were gone.
Spike lay there with the Slayer, his
Slayer, his dead
Slayer. His own body was broken, bloodied, bruised and mangled, but still inexorably undead. Her body was now as cold as his, as cold as the steel girders that pressed against his back. Spike had been here a while. He didn’t really know how long and he didn’t really care; it didn't matter anymore. Nothing mattered anymore.
The sun had just colored the sky a violent crimson when the tower fell, now it was pitch black again. He could hear the cracking energy and feel the whipping wind of the portal above him, still open, still spewing demons from every dimension into this one.
He cursed the thick layer of debris for shielding him from the sun as it had passed across the sky. Dusting would’ve been so much easier than waking up. It would’ve been a blessing with no disguise. He didn’t think much of God, hadn’t actually talked to him in over a century. If not for taking the Dios’ name in vain, he wouldn’t have had any reason to utter His name since he’d met Dru. He’d wondered at times if God wasn’t simply the Biggest Bad in the universe. The one that had beaten out all the other Big Bads for the job, the one with the most warped and sickly twisted sense of humor.
But just then, as he lay there with his crushed heart and shattered bones, he broke that long streak of silence between them. Spike prayed to the Biggest Bad for one of those demons to come by and take him out of his misery. To actually rip his unbeating heart from his ribcage rather than just having it feel like it had been. He’d never had a pain stab him so deeply before; not when Dru left him, not even the horror of his mother’s death had shredded his heart so completely as losing his Slayer.
Of course, that was the rub, wasn’t it? She wasn’t his
Slayer at all, as much as he wished she was. He’d hoped that by standing by her, fighting at her side, by proving his loyalty and his love, that one day she would be his, but that day would never come now. He had let her down. He’d made a promise and had failed, and now it was too late for any of that. Not only was Buffy dead, but those dreams he'd harbored that one day she could see the man and not just the monster were dead, as well. Those long clung-to, and now shattered, dreams made this loss so much worse than any he’d felt before. That and one undeniable fact: this was his fault.
And so now he prayed for one of these demons to rip his head off, dust him. Get it over with. But God, having that twisted sense of humor, did something else instead.
“Buffy?” It was barely a whisper. The voice was hoarse and frightened. The call of a child lost in the dark woods, afraid to cry out too loudly lest she attract a wolf. It seemed distant, many miles away.
For a moment, Spike thought he’d imagined it, but then he heard it again.
“Dawn!?” he called back as he began pushing the heavy steel beams and debris off his back. Every bone, every muscle, every cell in his body hurt – his hair hurt, but it didn’t matter. Dawn was out there, alive.
“Spike?” he heard Dawn’s tentative answer. Her voice trembled. “Where’s Buffy? Is she with you?”
“Hush now, Niblett, quiet!” he admonished her in a low voice. He had to get to her before one of the demons heard them and came looking. It was frightening how quickly his silent prayer changed. It was a whole new game now that he realized Dawn was out there, alive, alone, and vulnerable.
He looked down at Buffy one more time. This brave, beautiful Slayer, always so full of fire and light now lay still and silent beneath him, all her spark was gone. Despite knowing the brilliance that was Buffy no longer lived in this body, it still pained him to leave her here alone. But he’d made a promise to look after Dawn; a promise he would keep if it killed him.
“I’ll be back, luv,” Spike promised softly, caressing Buffy’s cheek gently with the pad of his thumb.
After considerable effort, Spike freed himself of the mangled remains of Glory’s tower. His broken leg had already started to mend – still painful, but useable. Spike didn’t mind pain. There were times when pain was the only thing he had to prove that he still existed, and in this moment it seemed a fitting punishment for his failure.
He scrambled over the mish-mash of girders and ladders and junk searching for Dawn, trying to catch her scent. It seemed like he looked for hours, but it was actually only a few minutes before he found her.
“Dawn!” Spike called in a hushed exclamation when he caught the first glimpse of her. Relief crashed over him like a tidal wave – she really was alive, not some figment of his grief-stricken mind.
Dawn was half-hidden under the debris but thankfully not crushed. Blood still trickled from the slashes Doc had made on her abdomen, but it had nearly stopped. Deep purple bruises and angry red cuts and scrapes covered her face and arms. Her leg was caught under one of the heavy beams, most certainly broken. But she was alive, and that was all that mattered.
“Where’s Buffy?” she asked again, her voice quavering, like a small, frightened child.
A lump formed in Spike’s throat and he felt his heart being ripped from his chest yet again. How many times could his heart be ripped out before he dusted?
“Dawn … I …” he finally stammered out, but it was too late – he knew she knew. There was nothing he could say that could make this any easier for either of them. There was nothing he could say to excuse his failure or ease her pain.
Dawn’s face fell as realization washed over her. Spike could see her crumble inside, more than crumble, shatter.
“No, no, no, no…” Dawn began muttering, over and over, shaking her head in disbelief. It was all she could say. It was all she could think. “No…” Her whole body trembled and shuddered uncontrollably, but no tears fell from her eyes – she was beyond tears. She stared at him, her gaze never wavering, as he freed her from the debris. She chanted her mantra the entire time he worked, “No, no, no…”
Despite his injuries, Spike scooped Dawn up into his arms and limped away from the battleground and out to the street. He wanted to bring the girl back to Revello Drive, back to her room, her bed, where she’d feel safe and warm. Somewhere familiar to help ease her pain.
The panicked residents of Sunnydale were packed in the streets – running, walking, driving, trying to get away, get out of town. Demons of every size, shape and description, from the smallest to the largest, had descended on their town and shaken them from their long-held embrace of denial. There was no denying this – hell was alive and well and living in Sunnydale … again.
As Spike started down the street with Dawn in his arms, horrified screams filled the air. He could hear people pleading for mercy, praying to God for help, even trying to bargain with the scourge of demons that were raining terror down on them. Down at the next intersection, he heard gunshots ring out. A group of people were barricaded behind a cluster of cars fighting off a group of very tall demons with red glowing eyes. The bullets were having little impact on the demons, however. The wounds appeared to be more of an annoyance to them than a life-threatening injury.
High above the mayhem, large bat-like creatures circled. They dove down and snatched up unwary humans who didn’t have the good sense to look up. The luckiest never knew what hit them. The unlucky lived long enough to feel themselves being torn apart by the flying demons’ razor-sharp talons and vampiric teeth. Their shrieks of terror and agony rained down on the town like fire and brimstone falling from the sky.
Spike blocked out their screams. He couldn’t stop – he couldn’t help the citizens of Sunnydale. He had one mission now: keep Dawn safe.
Spike was wary, keeping to the shadows with his precious cargo. Thankfully, many of the bands of different monsters were fighting each other, fighting for dominance in this new world. Most showed no interest in him. Those that did were met with his vampire visage and assumed that the human in his arms was his kill. So far, none had challenged him for his prize – he wasn’t sure how long that would last, though.
Spike quickly realized that the sewers were safer. The newcomers hadn’t discovered them yet – plus there were no Happy Meals down there for them, no reason for them to even go down there. When Spike reached their ‘exit’ in front of 1630 Revello Drive, he set Dawn down on the damp floor of the tunnel.
Her chant of, “No, no, no,” had softened and now came out as barely a whisper, but never stopped.
“Just gonna take a look around, pet,” Spike assured her as he crouched next to her. “Dawn? …Niblett?” Spike sighed worriedly and waved a hand in front of her eyes. She didn’t even seem to know he was there.
Spike left her sitting on the tunnel floor, climbed the ladder up to the street, and lifted the manhole cover just enough to look around.
Most of the residents of Revello Drive had already fled. Front doors were left standing open in the owners’ haste to get away. There were no cars in the driveways or on the street here. He saw a small band of the tall, glowy-eyed demons loping down the street towards him. He held his breath as he watched, afraid to drop the manhole cover back down lest he draw their attention.
They stopped abruptly about two houses down from Buffy’s and started up the walkway towards the now abandoned home. A cat screeched and ran from under a thick jasmine vine that wound around the front porch of the house as the demons approached. The gangly, red-eyed demons, which Spike had mentally begun calling ‘Reds’, took off in pursuit of the frightened pet that had been left behind.
After they ran around the side of the house and out of sight, Spike let out a relieved breath, slid the manhole cover completely out of the way, and quickly retrieved Dawn. By the time he’d carried her through the front door and into the house, she was in a state of shock. Whether it was from the physical trauma and the blood loss she’d suffered, or from the emotional trauma of realizing Buffy was gone, he didn’t know. She just repeated, “No, no, no…” as if that was the only word she knew.
Spike cleaned her wounds, stopped the bleeding, bandaged her cuts, and set her leg in a splint. Dawn never screamed or moaned. She didn’t even try to move or pull away while he attended to her – even though he knew full well how badly it must’ve hurt. Only the forlorn chant of, “No, no, no…” passed her lips, her eyes staring blindly at the ceiling, but no longer seeing.
After tending to Dawn’s wounds, Spike locked the house up and hurried back through the sewers to the scene of his biggest failure. If Dawn had survived the collapse of the tower, perhaps someone else had, also. He didn’t want to leave her alone, but had little choice. He needed to know for sure – was anyone else alive?
When he got back to 'ground-zero', he was glad to see that the portal had finally closed, but the damage had been done. Thousands … maybe hundreds of thousands of demons had poured into this world from … wherever. He didn’t know where they came from. He just called them ‘Otherworld’ demons. The city of Sunnydale was under siege. Most of the demons paid him no mind; after all, he was a demon, as well. The temptation of human blood and the smell of their fear was much more alluring to the ravenous newcomers than his undead flesh. There were much tastier morsels than him still running around the streets of Sunnydale.
He searched through the debris as quickly as he could. Despite the fact that most of the demons left him alone, he did have to stop a few times and take cover as giant bats swooped at him from the sky. Apparently, they weren’t as discriminating as most of the other newcomers.
After listening for heartbeats and sniffing out Buffy’s friends like a demonic hound dog, he found that the Watcher, Red, and Demon-girl were dead, all crushed under the debris. Bloody shame, that. Of all the Scoobies, those three could’ve been the most useful in the fight that lie ahead. Harris and Glinda were the only two with heartbeats.
Even though the demons seemed to be bypassing him, Spike remained wary and cautious. He’d left Dawn home alone; he couldn’t afford to tarry or get into a fight with one of these newcomers, not now. The Otherworld demons still hadn’t figured out the underground trails called ‘sewers’ and Spike used those to transport the two other survivors back to Buffy’s house.
He didn’t do it because he really gave a piss about them – well Glinda was alright, but he definitely didn’t give a piss about Harris. He did it because that’s what Buffy would’ve done; it’s what she would want him to do. He may not have a soul, but he had a compass now … or the memory of one, anyway. His every move was predicated by ‘what would Buffy do?’ or ‘what would Buffy want me to do?’
By the time that was done, Spike was beyond exhausted, mentally and physically; his whole body hurt, bullets of pain shot up his leg with every step, his mind was numb, but his mission wasn’t complete.
Back at the tower, he worked for what seemed like hours to free Buffy’s body from the wreckage. She had fallen directly under the gangplank of the tower when she’d tried to leap into the portal, therefore her body was buried under the bulk of it. He’d crawled out from there earlier, dislodging some of the girders as he did so, but crawling out yourself and trying to pull a dead weight out were two different things entirely. He worked tirelessly, knowing that if he stopped, if he allowed himself to think or feel, he might fall into a depression so deep he’d never be able to climb out of it. Dawn was depending on him. He’d promised Buffy. He couldn’t stop now.
After a monumental struggle, Spike finally freed the Slayer from the fallen tower. He lifted her gently from the wreckage and cradled her broken body in his arms. He couldn’t stop the tears, couldn’t control the sobs, or squash the guilt that rose up within his heart. Guilt. Vampires weren’t supposed to feel guilt. That was the beauty of being a monster. And yet, he did. Every cell in his body felt the weight of his guilt for being so easily defeated by the likes of the grandfatherly Reptile Demon, Doc. Being evil means never having to say you’re sorry, but that seemed the only word he could mutter as he carried her home.
Back at the house, he laid her down in her bed, a pillow under her head, her arms folded neatly across her chest. He retrieved a wash cloth and some water and carefully cleaned the dirt and blood from her face and neck. If he stood back and concentrated, he could almost imagine that she was simply asleep. That she’d awaken at any moment and tell him to get the hell out of her room. But she didn’t and he knew she wouldn’t – not ever again.
He fell to his knees next to her bed as the horror of the day came crashing down on him, just as Glory’s tower had, and buried him. His sobs echoed throughout the silent house. Outside the world was ending. In here, it already had.
For the second time in his life, Riley Finn was a deserter. He wasn’t sure if this time really counted, since he hadn’t actually signed anything yet to ‘join up’ with Major Ellis and the army’s new demon fighting taskforce, despite taking the transport to Belize and helping in the fight to save the threatened village from the surging demons. He wasn’t sure if giving his word to the commander was enough for them to send the MPs after him or not – whatever.
He’d given Buffy an ultimatum, thrown down the gauntlet when they were both angry and frazzled. It had been an immature and stupid thing to do. He was sure if he could just get her to talk to him, get her to open up just a fraction of an inch, he could be the man she needed. He was strong, he was a fighter, he knew demons – he knew her
, even if she didn’t. They just needed to take some time to work this out. They’d both made mistakes, but he was hopeful that they could put the bad behind them, start fresh, and rediscover the love they’d shared when they were first together, the love that he still felt. He’d known for some time that she wasn’t in love with him, but, he also knew that she did care about him. If she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have been so upset about… He felt shame wash over him just thinking about the vamp whorehouse. He sighed heavily and rubbed his tired eyes. He just wanted another chance to earn her love, to show her that he could be everything she needed.
Riley had been riding on overcrowded, stinking chicken-buses all the way from Belize. His back ached, his butt hurt, his eyes were bleary with exhaustion. It was taking forever
to get back to Sunnydale. First of all, they didn’t actually have any official schedule for the buses, and often you didn’t know where any particular bus was going. There weren’t any brightly-lit signs on them announcing their destinations; there weren’t any signs on them at all. You had to know which bus went where or know someone who knew. He knew neither. To make matters worse, the locals along the way took great pleasure in sending the gringo in the wrong direction. After a monumental effort and test of his fortitude, he finally made it back to something that resembled civilization. He was overjoyed when he found a bus station with a posted schedule and buses that didn’t allow goats, pigs, and chickens inside. Roads that weren’t made up of nothing but deep potholes and buses with shock absorbers were a big plus, too. When he finally made it into the US, he was even happier to find people that spoke English and didn’t consider him the outsider, the gringo.
Now, as the bus he was on neared Sunnydale, it was quite evident that something was wrong. Very, very wrong. Cars were streaming out of the town like someone had yelled ‘Fire!’ in a crowded nightclub. The rules of the road were forgotten as the citizens fled for their very lives from the hell that had broken out in their sleepy little town of denial. The driver of the bus had no choice but to pull off the road as cars rushed at them; every lane on the highway was one way: OUT.
Finn got off the bus and began to jog towards town. He estimated they were perhaps three miles outside of the city limits, another mile or so to Buffy’s house … or should he go to the Magic Box? If there was a crisis, perhaps that’s where everyone would be. Riley ran against the flood of people and cars, bumping into the horrified townspeople as he forced himself upstream like a spawning salmon. Whatever had happened, it was obvious that Buffy needed his help; he needed to get to her. A worry briefly flashed through his mind that he would be too late – his impetuous and foolish decision to leave with Major Ellis may have cost him, and Buffy, everything. He pushed that thought away – she would be alright; she was the Slayer, the good guy. The good guy, he assured himself, always won.
As Finn got closer to town, he was met with more resistance than simply innocents fleeing for their lives; he found what they were fleeing from. Demons. Flying demons, leaping demons, tall demons, short demons, large and small demons. Demons the likes of which he’d never seen before in all his years working with the Initiative or in his studies with Professor Walsh. One thing all the demons had in common was ferocious hunger, however. No one was safe. Men, women, children, even dogs and cats and squirrels, were being attacked without prejudice, killed, and eaten. There were horrifying screams and anguished prayers lifting up to heaven. There were rivers of blood in the streets flowing down to hell. Fires raged in homes and cars, glass shattered, alarms sounded in a cacophony of ridiculous futility, as if the demons cared if the police were summoned. It was nothing short of bedlam. He wanted to help them … save them, but he couldn’t save them all; he couldn’t help them and get to Buffy as well.
Finn forged ahead, fighting off demons that thought he would make an easy meal. One fist to the face or … whatever seemed to be a face, was usually enough to deter them. There were plenty of easy pickings, why worry with one that could fight? He tried to help people if he could, kicking or pulling demons off them as he passed, but he dare not pause too long lest he become an easy target himself.
Then there it was: Revello Drive. He’d check here first, then try the Magic Box. Only a block away from her house … he was nearly there. His lungs and legs ached from the exertion of the run, the horrors of what he’d seen, and the adrenaline coursing through him, but it was only a short ways now. He jumped over corpses in the street and sidewalk, and dodged cars that were left idling, their drivers having been ripped from behind the wheel. He gave a wide berth to downed power lines that danced and arced with electricity in the street as he made his way to 1630. He’d no sooner made it to Buffy’s front walk than something tackled him and knocked him to the ground.
His lungs, already aching, exploded in pain as the air that was in them was forced out. Finn struggled to get free from whatever it was that had him pinned down. All of his training seemed to leave him for a moment, panic driving it from his brain, as he flailed ineffectually against a larger and stronger opponent. Finally gaining control of himself, he forced his mind to focus and hit up at the strange demon that was atop him. Its eyes glowed an angry red, as if it had a red-hot fire burning in its large orbs. Its head was unusually large and oblong and it seemed to have the strength of ten men as it held him down. Finn’s punch landed soundly in the middle of the demon’s bright red mouth, but it had little effect other than to enrage the monster further. Finn hit it again and again and again until the powerful being grabbed his hand and snapped his wrist like a twig.
Riley screamed out in agony as the monster closed in for the kill, dropping its bright red mouth and grotesquely long fangs to the side of the soldier’s neck and puncturing the large artery that throbbed there. The blood, powered by his racing heart, gushed from the gaping wound and the monster sucked against his hot, salty skin with wild abandon.
Finn tried once more to push the demon off with his good hand, but his head was already starting to spin, his limbs were losing their strength. He began to feel like he was floating, swirling and twisting in space – it was euphoric. He fought the feeling, trying again to get free, but he felt a shroud descending over him; he was at death’s doorstep. Then suddenly, the weight atop him was gone, the long fangs ripped from his neck violently. He was only vaguely aware of the tearing of his flesh and the pain it brought as his world spun. Bright lights flashed in slower and slower bursts behind his closed lids, keeping time with his fading heartbeat. He struggled to open his eyes … they seemed to be fused shut.
He heard growling … fighting – someone was fighting. He didn’t know who or what. Buffy
, he thought. “Buffy…” he called out weakly, reaching a hand towards the sounds. He finally forced his eyes open. Blinked. Blinked again. It wasn’t Buffy. He shook his head, tried to clear it. Still not Buffy. He rolled over and dragged himself towards the porch. It took every ounce of energy he had to haul his body up the stairs, his broken wrist hanging uselessly as he pulled with his elbow on that arm.
“Buffy …” he called again. He thought that he was screaming her name, but it was barely a whisper.
The spinning in his head began to slow. He first thought that was good, but then realized, no … that was bad. His blood continued to flow from the gaping wound in his neck; he could taste it in his mouth, hot and coppery, and feel the warmth running down his arm and chest. He worried that he’d left his duffel on the bus; it had his ID in it … how would they know where to send his body? Funny the things you think about when you’re dying.
He reached the front door and lifted his good arm. Banged on it one time; it was all he could manage. “Buffy …”
Spike’s sobs had faded, his tears had dried. He had no more … not one drop. All he had now was the guilt. He had to take care of Dawn, watch over her, protect her. He’d made a promise to a lady.
He could hear the massacre outside the walls of the house. There was a time he would’ve joined in, reveled in the mayhem and destruction. That time had passed. He had a compass now. She lay cold and still in the bed above him, but she was still his guiding light; she would forever be.
He stood up stiffly and stretched his exhausted limbs. Everything hurt from his toes to the very tips of his poncy, peroxided curls which had long ago escaped their gel prison. He cursed as he put pressure on his leg and took a stumbling step forward. Suddenly he heard a loud crash outside the house and the power went off – someone took out a power pole with their car. He sighed heavily and headed for the stairs; he’d find some candles, check on Dawn and see what he could do to help Glinda and Harris. Perhaps they’d be awake by now.
Just as he made it downstairs, a loud crash came from the kitchen. He started that way, pausing only momentarily to grab a dagger from the weapons chest in the living room. In the kitchen he found what had to be the most grotesque demon Spike had ever laid eyes on, and that was saying a lot. Part zombie, part snot demon, and part Edward Scissorhands, the creature stood barely five feet tall, but was covered in an oozing green slime that smelled of putrid, dead flesh. The slime dripped off in some places and fell off in chunks in others, but was quickly replaced with new snotty, smelly slime. Its eyes were milky white, as if blind, but it certainly wasn’t that, because it turned and looked directly at Spike when he came into the room. It had two long arms which sported four long, razor-sharp metallic claws on the ends of slender, but slimy, green fingers. When it opened its mouth, rows upon rows of narrow, sharp, black teeth framed a long, yellow tongue which darted out like a snake’s. The stench from its breath was that of a dead skunk that had been baking in the summer heat for two or three days.
Spike took a step back and quickly stopped breathing, wishing he’d brought something longer than a dagger with him – a sword would be handy just now. The creature studied Spike, tilting its bald, glistening head from one side to the other, sizing him up. Before Spike could decide just where to attack it, the monster let out a high-pitched war cry and charged.
Spike was knocked back, out of the kitchen and into the dining room as the small but powerful demon pinned him to the ground. The dagger went flying from his hand, skittering across the floor and only stopping when it came to rest against the weapons chest in the living room. Spike tried to push the thing off, but his hands just slid over its slippery flesh. When he tried to grab it, pull on it, pieces of warm gooey flesh, which felt something like cooked okra, gumbo, just came off in his hand.
“Bloody hell…” Spike groaned in disgust as he punched the creature in the teeth. The monster’s head snapped back momentarily, but before Spike could pull his fist away to strike again, the creature had swallowed his hand up to the wrist and was biting down.
Spike felt all those sharp teeth embed into the flesh and bone of his wrist and he screamed out in pain. He tried to pull his hand away, but the teeth were closed down on his arm securely. If he pulled his arm away, he was quite sure it would be without his hand. Bugger!
Spike reached up over his head with his free hand to try and find the dagger, but it was out of reach. He began pushing himself with his legs. The slime demon stayed atop him as he inched across the floor, towards the living room and the weapon. Even as he propelled them both slowly towards the living room, the creature started chewing on his hand, as if were a tough piece of gristle it was trying to gnaw off the bone.
Spike screamed again and punched the thing in the middle of its body, hoping that would make it expel his hand. The thing grunted, but didn’t release Spike’s limb. Instead, black, inky slime started pouring out of the demon’s body and a new odor was added to the mix … one that could only be described as ‘sewer plant’.
Spike made the mistake of starting to breathe again after he screamed out in pain, but quickly stopped when the smell of untreated waste filled his nostrils. “If I bloody live, I won’t be able to smell anything for a soddin’ month after this,” Spike muttered to himself as he continued to push with his legs and slide closer to the weapons chest.
The demon didn’t seem concerned that his meal was still moving, perhaps that was how it always dined. It began slicing bits of flesh off Spike’s arm with the razors on its fingers and sucking them into its mouth, never releasing Spike’s hand. Spike grimaced and clenched his jaw tightly, but resisted the urge to yell out. He sooo didn’t want to take in another breath and smell the putrid thing, but the pain in his arm where the demon was feeding off him was excruciating.
Spike finally reached the dagger where it lay on the floor and brought it around in a wide arc, stabbing it into one of the creature’s milky white eyes. That finally got the flesh-eating monster’s attention. Spike’s hand, bloody and gnawed upon, was finally expelled from the demon’s mouth as it screamed out in pain. Spike pulled the dagger out of one eyeball and quickly slammed it into the other before the monster could retaliate. The creature emitted bursts of new smells, seemingly at random. The aroma of wet dog was followed by a strong sulfur odor, then the sweet smell of jasmine. The olfactory assault continued with dead, decomposing fish which was followed by something that smelled amazingly like Chanel No. 5.
As the creature grasped at the dagger, still protruding from its eye socket, Spike rolled them over and jumped up, leaving the smelly, slimy monster writhing on the floor in pain. He quickly opened the weapons chest again and retrieved a thin-bladed, double-edged sword and brought it down across the monster’s neck, severing its head. The whole demon seemed to lose its cohesion then and melted into nothing more than a large puddle of green goo on the living room floor.
“That’s gonna leave a stain,” Spike muttered as he dared to take another breath. To his relief, the smell of death for the slimy demon was something that resembled the smell of a Christmas tree.
“I just killed the soddin’ Pine-Sol demon,” Spike mumbled as he dropped down onto the couch and clutched his ravaged hand to his chest.
Spike could hear the battles continuing outside the house. It was only a matter of time before more demons made their way in here. Then what? How was he supposed to fight them all? As he was pondering his predicament, he heard fierce growling outside the window and turned to look out. In the front yard was a tall, lithe humanoid fighting what appeared to be an overgrown bat. It was difficult to say who was winning, not that Spike cared. As long as they were fighting each other, they weren’t attacking him.
Then there was a bang on the front door and he thought he heard someone call Buffy’s name. His brows furrowed in confusion. Could one of the others at the tower have been alive and he’d missed them?
He jumped up, sword in hand and pulled open the door. To his utter shock he found a nearly-dead Riley Finn lying prone and bleeding on the front porch. The soldier was quite literally covered in blood with a large, jagged wound on his neck. He’d been bitten by a vampire. Not a normal vampire, Spike realized, but something much larger, judging by the size of the bite.
“Help…” he heard Riley mutter as he reached one hand out towards Spike’s booted foot.
Spike smirked. He wondered if his chip would go off if he just accidentally
dropped the sword he was holding down into the back of the enormous hall monitor.
“Buffy … sorry… love you…” Finn moaned as he tried to pull himself into the house.
Spike faltered and tears that he thought were long dry pooled behind his eyes again. Buffy
… would just the mention of her name always bring tears to his eyes? Would that feeling of guilt ever leave him? He doubted it.
As Spike stood there in the open doorway, a dying Riley Finn trying to pull himself in, the tall, thin demon that had been fighting the bat suddenly leapt over the porch railing and landed atop the fallen soldier.
Spike jerked back in surprise as the monster hissed at him, red eyes glowing brightly as it started to pick up its prize: Riley Finn.
In a split second Spike made a decision. What would Buffy do? He stepped forward and swung the sword with all his strength at the demon’s neck, severing it cleanly. The Otherworld vampire burst into a smattering of red, glittering dust which settled down atop Riley’s unmoving body.
Spike dragged the soldier in and slammed the door closed. Finn’s heart was barely beating, perhaps only three or four beats a minute now … there was scant little blood left for it to pump. Spike looked up at the ceiling as he drew in a deep breath and then closed his eyes trying to gather his courage. He hadn’t done this, not once since … his mother. Spike blew out the pine fresh air from his lungs and looked back down at Finn with trepidation. He lifted his bloody, ravaged arm to the soldier’s lips and forced him to swallow the demon blood; Spike’s demon blood. He needed help defending Dawn and the others. Now he had it: Finn, the vampire.