Chapter 6


Spike was on his feet, his right hand crushing the demon’s throat. His left hand ripped the man’s amulet away.

“No! Don’t!” the vengeance demon croaked desperately, clutching at it.

Spike swung his arm out of his reach, the amulet safely gripped in his palm.

“R-revenge is p-pointless,” pleaded the little Hvroth from behind him.

“But satisfying,” snarled Spike.

He looked around. From the magical artefacts and paraphernalia all around, he was in a mage’s or witch’s workroom. Aside from the vengeance demon strangling in his grip, there was the Hvroth wringing his hands together and a slender woman with long, black hair and the unmistakable aura of a Wicca about her leaning casually against a table loaded with tomes, candles and crystals. Spike looked down. He was standing in a pine box lying open on the floor. The box was lined with red satin and had a small, satin-covered cushion at one end.

“A coffin? You put me in a coffin? How B-movie can you get?”

“But appropriate,” murmured the witch.

It disarmed him and he almost laughed. She had a sense of humor that he could relate to. She was more plain than pretty, but she had an odd, irregular sort of face that was somehow attractive, alive with sardonic amusement as it was right now.

“Talk to me.”

“They couldn’t get you back,” shrugged the witch. “They screwed up the spell somehow and there you were with no mind. The Hvroth contacted me and I brought you over here for storage.”

“Storage,” he said in disgust.

“Call it safekeeping if you prefer.” She grinned a little. “You’ve got to give Chaif a little credit. He could have left you in that cantina. The barkeep would have just shoveled you out in the morning and you’d have caught fire in the sun. Chaif called me in instead.”


“The Hvroth.” The witch tapped her chest. “I’m Raelin. The vengeance demon is Treyvaden. Trey.”

“Justice!” croaked the vengeance demon, trying to pull Spike’s hand off his throat. “Justice demon!”

“Shaddap, you!” snapped Spike. “Wasn’t justice what you did to me.”

“We didn’t mean to!” squeaked the Hvroth, bouncing nervously up and down on his toes. “We were drunk!”

“Not drunk now, any of us. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I’m completely sober when I rip your hearts out.”

The Hvroth made a pitiful mewling sound rather like air escaping from a balloon.

“At least Chaif tried to do something,” the witch said. “Trey there was so drunk he just took off without even realizing what he’d done. We had the worst time tracking him down. You know how vengeance demons move around. It was months before we could reach him.”

Months? I’ve been out of my skull for months?”

Raelin nodded and the Hvroth folded down onto a chair and compressed himself into a tight little ball as if trying to disappear from sight.

For someone potentially immortal, losing a few months out of his unlife wasn’t really that bad. But Spike was still furious.

“The state you were in,” Raelin said, “it was rather like having a life size rag doll around. But you wouldn’t eat and we didn’t want you to die, so I just put you into stasis until we could reverse the spell. I tried, but nothing seemed to work.”

Spike remembered the Chiriwan and wondered whether the reason it had turned up was because one of Raelin’s attempts had caused that thinning of the dimensional walls.

“Then we finally managed to get hold of Trey and he brought you back,” Raelin finished.

“We didn’t mean to hurt you,” the Hvroth whimpered. “Honest we didn’t. I wouldn’t do that to anyone on purpose. I’m not that kind of demon.”

Spike looked at Chaif’s pathetic, hound-dog face. He really wasn’t much of a demon. All he seemed to be able to do was read the future. “Huh.”

“You should be grateful,” croaked Trey, then gasped as Spike’s hand tightened around his throat. “We brought you back, didn’t we? We could have left you like that.”

“He’s got a point,” said the witch.

“He sends me out of my body for months, I could have been shoveled into the sunlight and flamed, and you want me to just forget all about it?”

“Compensation,” yelped the Hvroth. “I’ve got some money.”

“I’ve got a different compensation in mind,” Spike purred and went into gameface. Both Chaif and Trey turned a sickly gray.

The witch sighed. “What I’d like to know is who’s going to compensate me for my time and trouble.”

Spike had to laugh. She gave him a wry shrug.

“One has to be practical.”

“You,” said Spike to the Hvroth. “You pay her. Then you’re off the hook. All you really did was give this wanker the idea. He’s the one who cast the spell and I’ve got a different penalty for him. One that’s really going to hurt.”

He tossed Trey away. Trey slammed into the wall and nearly fell, then recovered his feet, gasping and rubbing at his throat.

“I think I’ll crush your amulet,” said Spike, picking up a heavy crystal ball from the table. “That’ll turn you human, wouldn’t it? D’Hoffryn doesn’t like his people being careless and losing their power centers like this. He won’t turn you back into a vengeance demon for decades. If ever.”

“No! Don’t!” Trey screamed as Spike laid the amulet on the table and raised the crystal ball to smash it.

“Turning human would be worse than dying, wouldn’t it? Think I’ve picked the right penalty.”

“No! Please! I’ll give you a wish!”


“Any wish! Any vengeance you want on anyone!”

Spike paused.

“You name it,” Trey pleaded. “Isn’t that a good deal for you? Think, vampire! Any wish at all!”

Spike considered that for a moment. It had possibilities. “Can you do a wish on a Slayer?”

Trey blenched. “A Sl-Slay...I can’t kill her! That takes more power than I have. Even D’Hoffryn wouldn’t be able to kill her.”

“You killing her wouldn’t be any fun for me. I like to do things like that myself.”

“I can do anything else, lay any kind of spell on her. You name it, I can do it. Just tell me what you want.”

“Oh, now that has potential,” purred Spike. “I’ll have to think about that.”

“Sure, sure. Take your time.”

“No, I mean really think about it. Don’ wanna waste a wish on something easy. Want something that will really have a payoff.” Spike frowned thoughtfully. “Gonna have to do a recce. Suss out how things stand.”

“Take all the time you want.”

“I’ll keep the amulet until I’m ready.”

“No! You can’t leave me powerless like this!”

“I give you the amulet, you take off for parts unknown. Sorry, mate. Not that dumb.”

“I can give you a token. You press it when you’re ready and I’ll come. I swear!”

“Yeah, right.”

“I will!”

“Make him swear on his amulet using the Asseveration Demonaia Infernum,” the witch murmured. “That oath will hold and his amulet would vanish if he breaks his word.”

Trey gave her a betrayed look and she shrugged, smiling. Spike laughed.

“Yeah, it would with a Great Oath like that. Come on, wanker. Let’s hear it.”

Trey swore reluctantly, the words of the oath having a rolling, reverberating sound as they were spoken, as if they were falling into a vast abyss. Both the Hvroth and Trey winced at the power implicit behind that sound, but Spike smiled and the witch laughed softly under her breath.

“It’s been heard,” she said.

“Token,” said Spike to Trey and snapped his fingers.

Trey handed over an inch long blue circle with a curious symbol incised upon it. “Press it and I’ll come. Wherever you are.”

“Good enough.”

And now for the Slayer, thought Spike. His car was parked in Raelin’s garage, in the same condition as he had left it months ago. He headed back to Sunnydale. Dru was no longer his primary concern. Buffy Summers was. His lips compressed grimly.

His plans in that future he’d been thrown into had been contingent on conditions there. It was a pity to be forced to leave them half done, but this way was better all around. This way he didn’t have the chip, could change things so that they went exactly the way he wanted them to.

A lot had happened in the intervening months while he was in stasis. It seemed the Slayer had graduated from high school and was now going to UC Sunnydale. The high school itself was a gutted ruin. The mayor of Sunnydale had apparently turned himself into some kind of snake demon, Kibble at Willy’s told him, and the Slayer had had to blow up the school to take him out. Things always were weird around the Hellmouth, Spike thought, amused.

Angel had cut and run for L.A. Couldn’t stand the heat, Spike guessed. Angel had always been a real pro at desertions. His departure was useful since the Slayer would be even more vulnerable if the poofter weren’t around. Not that Angel had ever really helped her, but she had leaned on him emotionally. Now she was all alone.

Dawn wasn’t even a gleam in a monkish eye yet and Joyce was still alive. Spike thought he’d keep her that way. He liked Joyce. It shouldn’t be too hard for a vamp to detect her aneurysm and have her get the surgeons to fix it when it showed signs of rupturing.

The Initiative was moving in though, staying under the radar and busy building their belowground bunkers. It was all construction crews right now. Walsh and her tame scientists and bullyboy soldiers hadn’t arrived yet and no one hadn’t gotten around to grabbing demons since their underground torture chambers weren’t ready. But Spike was keeping an eye out. He wasn’t going to get caught again and have them shove that chip into his head. This time if those sods jumped him, they’d get shredded and Spike would scatter the soggy pieces of their flesh all over Sunnydale.

But he had a grudge against them for having succeeded the last time. He was determined to get his revenge on the Initiative and what better than to prevent them from ever establishing themselves in Sunnydale. He made contact with several of the demon species in town, both the harmful and the non-harmful ones, and told them what was going down. Bunker construction suddenly came to a screeching halt. Weird things had started happening to their equipment.

He watched, grinning, as the construction gangs tore their hair and sent desperate smoke signals back to headquarters. The higher ups in Washington, including Walsh, responded by racing down to Sunnydale to scream useless orders and jump up and down. But the equipment continued to fail. All of it from pile drivers and riveting machines down to drills and nail guns. They would have to build the whole place by hand, using pick and shovel, hammer and nails, just the way they would have had to a century ago. It would take years and be prohibitively expensive just in labor costs alone. Any government agency existing would abandon the project rather than run that kind of expense. The Initiative would never be able to set up shop in Sunnydale.

It was a pity Riley Finn and his cohorts weren’t around yet. Spike kinda took exception to having plastic stakes driven through his heart when he couldn’t fight back. He would have loved to sic the Firoud on Riley, the same way he had threatened to sic them on Harris. Unlike Harris though, Finn’s pratfalls would not have been the merely humiliating ones Spike had planned for Xander. Finn’s would have been extremely painful, possibly even mutilating. And would have resulted in having him cashiered out of the military in the end. Ah, well. Couldn’t have everything.

Slayer was his focus though. Slayer was who he meant to get at. The Scoobies were also there, but they were unimportant. Get the Slayer and her friends could be taken care of at leisure.

He stalked her for a couple of weeks, watching her while carefully keeping out of sight. He knew her now, right down to the biblical sense of the term, but she didn’t know him. Her last contact with him in this time period was when he had come to Sunnydale, drunk and dangerous after Dru had dumped him, and had snatched Red and Harris to force Willow to do a spell for him. For Buffy, Spike was that lethal killer, that enemy it would be her pleasure to dust.

It was strange seeing her the way she was now. Still smug and self-righteous of course, but so much younger and carefree. The darkness hadn’t touched her yet. She hadn’t died and been resurrected, didn’t have the memory of Heaven to embitter her, hadn’t been damaged yet except by Angel.

That had been damage enough, it seemed. Spike could remember the first time he had met the Slayer, back when he and Dru had first come to Sunnydale, how lighthearted she had been then. Angel as usual had soured everything, given her that bitter edge. The first coating of ice had begun to build up around her heart. She had begun to distrust, to guard her emotions. Too many abandonments: her father; that previous boyfriend, Pike, who had run out on her; Angel.

And now she was setting herself up for another one. That soppy git with the ‘soulful’ eyes. Parker Abrams. Shooting herself in the foot once again in her useless quest for ‘normal’ that Angel had suckered her into. Spike watched her stretching her wings by going around with Parker who was busy doing his ‘sensitive’ schtick and giving her that wet, puppy-dog stare that had laid waste to so many females. Spike couldn’t really understand why. It seemed so obviously fake to him. But then a lot of birds were fools at that age.

Maybe Slayer needed that lesson. Might serve her right to have her teeth kicked in again.

His memories told him that he had been after the Gem of Amara at this point. He had wanted it so that he could kill the Slayer with the edge that the ring would give him. But he already had his edge with that wish he had in his pocket. The Gem could be left for another day.

That Harmony bint hadn’t turned up. And wouldn’t. The memories told him that he had picked her up after Dru had dumped him for good. But he hadn’t gone back to Dru this time. He had come to Sunnydale instead, so hadn’t met this Harmony. Which wasn’t much of a loss, though she hadn’t been a bad lay. He didn’t mind crazy, but he liked his women with brains. Or at least an IQ larger than their shoe size. Stupid got on his last nerve.

Slayer and the Parker wimp were heading for a frat party that night. He followed them, still trying to figure out the most effective wish to use on the Slayer. The party was loud and noisy enough that no one noticed when he had himself a nice snack. He left his meal alive though, tucked into a corner, apparently passed out. Dead bodies cluttering up the landscape would just get in the way right now.

A shadowy alcove beside the exit provided a convenient place from which he could watch the Slayer and the wimp. They were sitting on a couch and having a ‘meaningful’ talk, the kind Angel was so good at and it looked like Abrams was too—all bullshit while being what the bird wanted to hear.

He watched her sardonically while she flirted somewhat ineptly with Abrams. That git was making her do the running, playing the sensitive lad and getting her to do the seducing. It was a good trick if the girl was thick enough to buy it. And Slayer was.

At this point in her time frame, she was a novice, only one step away from virgin. So far she had only slept with Angel and that had been only the once. Her youthful hesitancy contrasted oddly with the savagely passionate woman he knew.

Towards the shank of the evening, the two of them were dancing and then kissing on the dance floor. Looked like Slayer had made up her mind and was on the fast track to being screwed. In both senses of the word.

He snarled a little. Slayer was his.

And then things clicked into place in his head and he had it. The one wish that would fulfill all the requirements.

He put his hand into the pocket of his duster and dug his thumbnail into the token.

“Not so hard!” Trey protested, suddenly very present beside him. With his blond hair and unlined face, he looked perfectly at home here among all the frat boys. “Sounds like a siren going off in my head. I said to press, not crush the hell out of the thing.”

“Like I care.”

Trey sighed, then looked around with interest. “Nice party with some nice scenery. Look at the pecs on that guy.”

“Business first, pleasure later.”

“Oh, all right. You made up your mind then?”


“So call it. Murder, mayhem, what?”

“Any wish on the Slayer short of death, right?”

“You got it.” Trey scanned the room and located the Slayer back on the couch with Parker. “Is that her?”


“Whoa. Look at the sleaze she’s with. A player. With all the cute guys around, she picks that? Some taste she’s got.”

“You said it. But she’s not even twenty yet and tends to see things at face value.”

Trey shook his head in disgust. “I don’t think I was ever that naive even at twenty.”

“I guess one forgets things after the first five hundred years.”

“Hey, I’m only two hundred!” Trey protested, aggrieved, then frowned. “Do I look five hundred to you?”

“Concentrate. You mess this up, I’ll rip your nads off and shove ’em down your throat. After I crush your amulet.”

“Geeze, chill. I’m a pro. Just tell me what you want.”

“I want you to send her where you sent me, only into her own head.”

“Oh, come on! What kind of vengeance is that? Okay, okay,” said Trey hastily when Spike scowled. “Done.”

On the couch, Parker had turned to set down his drink and didn’t notice Buffy’s sudden immobility. A few seconds later, she jerked and sat bolt upright, her eyes widening.

Spike grabbed Trey’s amulet. “She’s back already! You’ve screwed things up!”

“No, no, wait! It’s the way it should be! Didn’t Chaif tell you it only takes a couple of seconds? She’s been a couple of hours in the other time.”


“I sent her to the day after the night I pulled you out so that there wouldn’t be any time paradoxes or cross circuiting. And now she’s back at the point of origin. You gotta understand. The time spent there doesn’t relate to the time here. It wouldn’t have been months for you if I hadn’t been so sozzled and forgotten I’d sent you forward.”

“She was there a couple of hours?”

“Yeah. That’s the shortest period I can manage, not being a Hvroth.”

Spike scowled at him suspiciously. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”


Buffy was rising and stalking away from Parker who scrambled to his feet and ran after her.

“Buffy, wait! What’s wrong?”

“I just realized you’re a creep, Parker.”

“See?” said Trey, keeping his voice low since Buffy, heading towards the exit, was only a couple of yards away.

Parker caught her arm. “Was it something I said? I know maybe I was too forward in confiding in you, Buffy. But I thought we understood each other, that I could trust you with anything. I felt we were soul mates and...”

“Oh, give it a rest, Parker,” said Buffy scornfully. “All that’s just crap. You’re a user. All you want to do is score. I think you’re vile.”


She struck his hand away from her arm. “If it were up to me, you’d never score again in your whole life. I really wish that would happen!”

“Done!” said Trey triumphantly. “Now that was a vengeance wish if I ever heard one!”

Buffy suddenly saw him. “You’re a...”

“Justice demon, yes.” He bowed gracefully. “Oh, that was a good one. I really like it. If you don’t mind, I can use that in my repertoire.”

“Be my guest.” Buffy’s gaze had gone past him to Spike. They looked at each other guardedly and with a little hostility. “Things are starting to make sense. Spike.”


“We need to talk.”

“Why not? Buy you a drink?”


“Expresso Pump?”


“You’re off the hook, mate,” Spike said to Trey, then grinned at Parker who was frowning at him resentfully, not understanding what was happening except that Buffy was going off with another man. “And you, wanker, had better get used to wanking because that’s all you’re ever gonna be able to do from now on.”

“You don’t mean...” said Buffy under her breath as he held the door open for her.

“Oh, yeah. You wished he’d never score again and Trey made it happen. Kinda balances the freebie Trey had to do for me, so he’s happy.” He glanced over his shoulder at Trey exchanging interested glances with a hunky frat boy. “Made his quota for the day and it looks like he’s gonna score as well, even if Abrams won’t. Ever again.”

Buffy giggled involuntarily, then bit her lip. “You owe me a few explanations.”

“Do I?”

“Damn right you do!” She pulled on her short, black leather jacket with an irritable jerk as they started down the sidewalk towards the coffee shop.

He gave her a dry, sideways glance. “And if I say I don’t care to explain, then what? You gonna stake me?”


“No chip. I’ll fight back.” He saw her brows flick together. “You understood that. The chip reference.”


“Guess you were there then.”

“I was there two hours. In my own head. In the future. Why was I there, Spike?”

“You were there two hours and you still haven’t figured out why?”

She was silent for a moment. “It’s a lot to process.”

“There’s time.”

“Two years.”


They glanced briefly at each other, edgy, wary looks, then went the rest of the way to the Expresso Pump in silence. Even at this time of night, it was busy, but there were a few tables outside that were free. They took seats at the outermost one where they wouldn’t be overheard.

“It was you,” said Buffy. “When she...I...she...”

“Make it ‘she’.”

“When she noticed a difference. It was you. This you.”

He nodded. “It was an accident. We were all drunk and Trey granted a wish I didn’t mean to make.”

“So the day after...” She stopped abruptly.

“The night before?” he said softly and she flushed wildly. “Yeah, that was me.”

“You had a fine time, didn’t you?” she said bitterly.

“Oh, yeah. I enjoyed it. A lot.” He grinned tightly. “Really couldn’t pass that up, Slayer.”

She couldn’t meet his eyes. Until she had been forced forward in time, all Spike had been to her was the stranger she had fought at the high school, the enemy she had put into a wheelchair later, the reluctant ally against Angelus, the vamp who had kidnaped Willow and Xander. Brief encounters with someone who was essentially unknown.

But now she knew him. The memories she had picked up from her future self held meeting after meeting, all the long, twisted threads of their relationship culminating in those final intimacies that were so vivid in her mind.

“You took advantage...”

“Oh, no, no,” he purred. “Who jumped who, pet? Before I even got there. And after that, it was mutual, wasn’t it? Don’t start rewriting history to suit yourself. Haven’t you learned anything yet? The only way anyone can function is to look the truth right in the eye and deal with it.”

“Is that why you sent me forward? To learn?”

“Yes. There’s a lot of things you have to change. You see that, don’t you? Or do you want to end up the way you will?”

God, no! That desperate, conflicted, broken zombie she had turned into. The living dead. Even if she had finally come out of it with his help, all those things that had gone wrong—with her, with Joyce, with the Scoobs—all of that had to be changed.

“I’ve already started changing things,” he said and his eyes were cool and determined. “Not gonna have that chip in my head. That was step number one. The Initiative’s not going to happen. I’ve put together a coalition of demons and we’ve made sure of that. They’ll never get a foothold in this town. Do you consider that a bad thing, Slayer?”

“No. They were evil. But...”

“But what?”

“Why did you send me forward in time? You didn’t have to do that to avoid the chip or to get rid of the Initiative. All you have to do to change things for yourself is leave Sunnydale. Everything would be different for you then.”

He was sitting sideways, his arm outstretched on the table, playing with his lighter. Now he looked down at the Zippo he was turning over and over restlessly in his fingers, avoiding her eyes. The crease between his brows was very evident and his lips were compressed into a hard, straight line.

“You didn’t have to send me forward like that, Spike. Didn’t have to let me know the things that went wrong and what I have to avoid. You’ve helped me by doing that. Why?”

There was a long silence.

“He was there, you know,” he said slowly at last, almost under his breath. “The other me. My mind was holding his down, blanking out his consciousness. That’s the way it works, a Hvroth who does that said. But Chaif only stays there for a minute, so he isn’t affected by...”

He broke off and frowned at the lighter.

“Things seep through. Strong feelings. Emotions. They contaminate. And I was there a long time. So much of him came through. The other me, he loved Dawn, Joyce, y...He cared and it made me care.”

He put the lighter abruptly back into his pocket.

“Memories make the man. What’s a person except the sum total of the things that happen to him, the things that he remembers?”

His gaze came up and his eyes were all blue light and intensity.

“I’m him, Slayer. We’ve merged. Those memories. They’re part of me now. They’re me.”

Oh, she knew what he meant. Her memories from the future were part of her too.

And he was at the forefront of them, couldn’t help but be, with everything that had happened between him and her future self so recent and vivid in her mind. And behind those immediate memories, the others. That long chain of events and involvements that could be seen clearly and with dispassion now that the confusion of the moment was stripped away by distance.

“I too rage, you see, at the dying of the light,” he said. “It’s too beautiful to put out.”

She jerked to her feet. It was all too much. She had to have time to process.

“I have to think,” she blurted and fled.


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