He’d finally done it. He’d won. He couldn’t really remember ever beating Angel and getting something they’d both wanted.
So this victory was a hundred and twenty some years in the making. A victory after so long that would cause him everlasting sorrow. Didn’t he just feel like the luckiest vamp on the planet?
Just as soon as he drank from the cup.
As he did, though, something didn’t go according to plan. “What the-?”
Pain woke him up.
His head was pounding. This must have been one of the worst benders he’d ever been on. Definitely up there with Dru dumping him, Buffy dumping him, Buffy’s swan dive…
That thought jump-started his synapses. He needed to figure out where he was and how he got there. One of the first things he could remember brought a smile to his face. He’d beaten the Poof to the Cup. He frowned. Mountain Dew shouldn’t pack such a punch. “What was in that stuff?”
“My Spike is awake. You’re just not my Spike, are you?”
He could pick that voice out of a crowd. It was the devil whispering in his ear when he made a choice, the soundtrack of some of his pleasant dreams, and the narrator of many of his nightmares. She’d been his everything for more than a century and she was looking intently at him from across what looked like a crappy motel room.
“What’s that, pet?” He needed time to think. Time and some working neurons. If only the marching band of Fyarls would stop stomping around in his brain.
“You’re going to send Princess away.” She made a vague hand gesture. “My black knight, always chasing the light.” She looked at him with such sorrow it made his soul ache.
His soul. He jumped up on the bed in panic and clutched his chest as if that could do something. Nope, still there. The thought of draining an innocent victim physically hurt. So what was he doing in a no-tell with Dru?
“Dru, where’s Angel?”
She hissed, retreated even further, and made herself as small as possible in the far corner. “Bad dog. Speaking out of turn. Daddy is still lost. Lost to us all.” She started to rock back and forth, covered her ears with her hands, and hummed a nursery rhyme to herself.
Spike wasn’t listening to her by then, though. All his attention was taken up by the spotty beat-up television set.
It was set to some local news channel, where a generic presenter blathered on about how the winds had picked up. They were calling it the worst storm of the year.
The year 1996.
He barely made it to the bathroom before he emptied his stomach. By the smell of things his hangover wasn’t booze related. Still, there was a ringing in his ears and he’d got tunnel vision.
Eight years in the past. Either someone was playing the cruelest of tricks on him, or… He had no second option available at the moment, seeing as his brain still refused to work properly.
He stumbled out of the bathroom and looked at Dru through bleary eyes. She was still rocking back and forth slowly, but she looked at him.
“You’re leaving.” Despite looking the picture of a mental patient, she sounded more lucid than he’d ever heard her.
It was more sobering considering it was exactly what he’d thought of doing. Well, closer to ‘the only thing he thought he could do.’ Whatever happened, he wasn’t sure he could stake her. He couldn’t just up and leave, though. Dru on her own was a recipe for a much bigger disaster than… he couldn’t think of something, especially with the mind-numbing pain.
He snarled in frustration and rushed for the door. He almost ripped it open, but for the vampire self-preservation instinct stopping him from burning up like a roman candle.
“Fucking sun!” He wanted to punch through the wall in frustration. But it was the paper-thin wall that separated him from the murderous rays of the sun. So that would be a no. The small bedside table became kindling instead.
“Motes of dust, blood like rust, Sunshine will eat us all up.”
He found himself wondering if her rhymes had always been that grating, or if it was the special hangover and temporal displacement that was making him rethink dusty endings. And why did he sound so much like fucking Angel even in his own head. God, he needed a drink. He also needed to think. If only Dru would stop cackling.
The sun had finally set outside. He’d been trapped with Dru in the infernal motel room from the past for more than six hours. At least she’d finally lulled herself to sleep.
Spike used the time to think, plan, rethink, and then start it all again from the top. There was a very problematic first step he had to take care of though, regardless of which future plan he chose, that he just couldn’t go around: what to do with Dru.
He’d accepted he’d been thrown into the past somehow, most likely by that damned Cup. Since it was supposed to mean torment, his first thought was that someone had sentenced him to reliving the previous years as a punishment. He would have to test Novikov’s principle.
He’d read and watched enough Sci-fi in his day to know time travel was a dangerous thing, especially with the whole ‘butterfly effect’ theory, but he decided he would try to make things better anyway. His most fervent hope was that he didn’t end up making it worse. And that brought him back to watching Dru sleep crouched against the wall.
What could he do about her?
He could try and find someone to pawn her off on. Maybe even look for one of her lovers from the first go-around. That would take time and effort, and all the while he’d have to walk a fine line between not killing anyone and making sure his change in status didn’t become public knowledge too soon. They’d smell the soul on him a mile away. Dru probably already knew about it. To say she wouldn’t cooperate would be putting it lightly. To hell with that plan.
He could just up and leave her. The sun was down, so nothing stopped him from walking out, getting in the car—if he remembered correctly it should be right outside in the parking lot—and driving away. She’d find her way. They hadn’t been to Prague yet, so she was up to her full strength. She’d find someone to latch on to soon enough. Or she’d manage on her own, as she had whenever they were broken up. Although the last time, in that future he was going to change, she’d also gone after Buffy.
He could dust her. But would he be able to? She’d been his everything once. Of course since then there’d been a soul, a death, a resurrection, and more recently a time jump. More importantly, there had been Buffy.
There was another option, of course. He looked at Dru’s corner again only to find her looking right back at him.
“My Spike’s thoughts are like ants on a hill. Running left and right, and then all in line. But Princess’ honey is sour for him.” She hissed. “It’s all her fault.”
“Dru.” She hissed at him again, as she clutched Miss Edith to her chest. “You know I’ve changed, yeah?” She vamped out and snapped her teeth at him. Oh, but this was going really well. “There is a demon in Africa. He gives you your heart’s desire if you fulfill his tests.” He got on his knees in front of her, close enough she could see how serious he was, far enough she couldn’t just rip his throat out for what he was about to propose. “He could give you your soul back. Probably make you less barmy as well. Just imagine—”
She attacked him with such fury it caught him by surprise although he was expecting her to resist the idea. She slashed, punched, and kicked at him as if she were berserk. It took him all his skill and strength to simply survive her first onslaught, but eventually he managed to get the upper hand.
He’d always been partial to fists, fangs, and sod all else, and Dru’s attack was too frenzied to stop him for long. He eventually had her trapped under him only to realize he had no stakes. “Dru, listen.”
She bucked and the back of her head hit him in the chin, almost breaking both his hold on her and his jaw. He tried to restrain her better, but she squirmed like an eel. His hand found a splinter from the defunct side-table and he collapsed on top of her dust.
He’d done it. It hurt like hell in that part of him that was the demon, the human part was morning the loss of a former lover, but he’d actually, really, done it. Dru was gone.
He lay there in shock for a long while, trying to get his bearings. Then he started laughing. It sounded crazed even to his own ears.
“If that doesn’t put a shock up Novikov’s ass, I don’t know what will.” He got up, surveyed the room, looked down at the ashes of his maker again, and then left into the night. He needed a lot of booze and then he needed to get to Prague.
*Somewhere high up in the Tatra Mountains, Czech Republic*
It had taken him longer than he’d liked, but he’d managed to track the Order of Dagon down, as they hid in plain sight in a Catholic monastery. He was pissed with himself all he could remember about them was the name Dagon and that they were Czech. It meant Buffy had already been Called by the time he made his way up the mountain. He’d wished he could be by her side when that happened, but his mission here was important enough.
After he managed to bluff his way past the gates and into a meeting with the elder monk—Yakov—he made his sales pitch. “I know you have the Key, but I need you to get off your collective asses and make her into Dawn Summers.”
“What did you say?”
Spike relished the old man’s shock. “Look, you blokes have been keeping the Key safe as houses for long enough, but you’ve been in the same place all this time. Glorificus—”
“Do not speak its name.” Yakov looked around in fright. “How do you know this?”
Spike was glad he remembered some of the alternative names for Glory. “I’ve fought the Beast before, and I probably will again. How I know what I know isn’t really the issue here, though. She will find you. Soon. And when she does she’ll lay waste to this place and slaughter everyone. Your best bet is to use your fancy magic rituals and shape the Key into a human.”
Yakov looked at him with disdain. “And let me guess, you wish for us to then turn over this human to you?” He brought out a cross from the folds of his robe. “Your true nature does not escape me, vampire.”
“Guilty as charged, although if you’ll look close enough, you’ll see I have a bloody soul.”
Yakov frowned. “Are you the one they call Angel?”
Spike snarled and swore. “Do I look like a no good ponce with a high forehead and nothing but rats on the menu for decades? No, I’m not the almighty Angelus. The name’s Spike, and I won my soul fair and square, not by raping and munching on gipsy virgins.”
The monk didn’t seem impressed. “Even if what you say is true, I still wouldn’t hand the Key over to the likes of you.”
“Didn’t ask you to do that, did I, mate? I’ve no use for a magicked-up younger sister. Be kind of difficult, seeing as how my parents have been dead for more than a century. No, what I’m asking should be far more up your alley. Send her to the Slayer.”
“Why would a vampire propose we involve the Slayer?” The man narrowed his eyes. “Unless your plan is to attract our foe to her. Is that it? Killing a Slayer through the use of the Beast?” The last word was said in an almost whisper.
Spike wanted to rip his hair out in frustration. “Look, you insufferable git. If I wanted a Slayer dead, I’d just go and do it myself. If you look me up you’ll find I already offed a couple of the birds in my day. Of course, that was before my change of heart, my trip to Africa to get my soul, and my joining the white hats full-freaking-time. What you need to know is that you need to get off your ass, mojo the Key’s energy into a human form and send her to Buffy Summers as her sister.” His yelling got louder and louder as he went on.
Yakov’s face was impassive. “There is something you are not telling me. What do you hide?”
As was the case with most of Spike’s plans, especially those involving Buffy, there was something that wasn’t going well. He could see the monk’s distrust, and he was sure the monks wouldn’t just do what he asked. In fact, by the way Yakov was clutching his cross, Spike thought they might not send Dawn to Buffy even when Glory actually did come. And all of that just because he had to run his big fat mouth.
Time to go to plan B. Since he was rubbish with lies, he’d go for the truth. “Okay, mate. You asked for it. Hope you got some of that communion wine handy, ‘cause it’s gonna be a long story.” He lowered himself in a chair and put his feet up on the monk’s desk. “See, it all started some six years ago, or two years from now, depends on how you look at things. Don’t worry, it’ll make sense by the end, I think.”
He told the monk the whole sordid tale, from running over the ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ sign, to waking up eight years in the past in the same room as his maker, only to be forced to dust her.
Somewhere around Buffy and his destroying a house together a couple of bottles of Tatra tea—the good kind, probably close to the weaker Absinths in strength—found their way to their table and helped soothe the vampire’s frayed nerves.
His story and the two bottles finished at about the same time, leaving Spike with a slight buzz and a pit in his stomach.
“You have been through a lot.” Yakov’s eyes were closed and he was resting his head on the wall behind him.
“Understatement of the fucking century. And I should know.” Spike winked, even though the other man couldn’t see it.
“What I do not understand is why you would wish the Key sent to the Slayer now.” Yakov opened his eyes and straightened up in the chair, although not without some difficulty. “It might attract her even sooner than in your first…” He waived a hand around and wiggled his fingers.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Spike tried to coax a few more drops out of one of the empty bottles. “I could be screwing up things even worse than last time.” He stopped looking down the bottle’s neck to fix the monk with a glare. “I also know magic always has consequences.”
“That is true. Your point?”
“Last time you lot got slaughtered just as you were creating Dawn. Karma may be a bitch, but it couldn’t have worked that fast.” He sneered. “Not on you monks anyway. Instead ended up the slayer’s family paid the price. If I can save Joyce this time— I’ll do and try anything to do that. Having the Bit back sooner would be nice, too. They’re my best girls, see?”
Yakov was silent for a long time. “And if the Beast—”
“I’ll take care of her. That wanker she’s sharing a body with won’t last a fortnight in Sunnyhell, whenever they decide to come to town.”
Yakov slapped his palms on his thighs and got up. “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I believe I know what decision I should make, but I need to tell my brothers, and at the moment I need to rest a while.” He raised his arm when Spike made a move to protest. “You travelled a long way. You may rest as well and leave in the morning after we have a chance to discuss everything.”
Spike swore to himself, but he had to admit the man was right. So he allowed himself to be guided to one of the empty guest rooms and hoped the booze had been strong enough to give him at least a partial night’s good rest.
Travelling at night over an ocean in the belly of a plane wasn’t the most comfortable way to go, but to Spike it was going back home. Southern California had become home to him. Actually no, it wasn’t that. He was going to be seeing his girls soon. All of them. And if he was right, he’d finally managed to save the closest thing he’d had to a mum in a century.
He spent the rest of his flight making and remaking plans. It was much better than the nightmares that had plagued him ever since his trip back in time began.