By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 37 - The Walls Come Tumbling Down
Xander bolted from the space behind Hartford’s study and began pushing and pounding on bookshelves as he made his way through the dark passageway. Because he’d left his candle behind, Xander was blind and in a state of near panic. “Let me out of here,” he began to chant. “Let me out!” He pounded.
He rushed through the corridor, tripped over something, and smashed, headfirst into a bookshelf. He found himself falling, in a rain of literature, through the wall and landed with a crash on the other side. When he looked down at himself to inventory his injuries, his heart jumped at the sight of a bright red stain spreading across his previously clean and starched white shirt. *Oh no!*
Xander scrambled to his feet and brushed himself off. Shards of glass clinked as they fell. *Inventory!* He felt his chest, stomach. *No pain. Not hurt.* Then he glanced down at the mess he’d created. He was standing on what was left of a severely busted wooden table. Combined with piles of books and random torn papers, there were splinters of china and glassware scattered everywhere. Xander noticed the white linen tablecloth under the rubbish had a growing red stain that matched his shirt. *Wine. Nice. Way to crash a party, Superman.*
He looked up into the faces of the dinner guests with a mixture of fear and sheepishness. “Uh. Hi. Sorry ‘bout the mess.” He started edging his way through the gathering crowd. “Gotta run, though.” And he took off through the dining room, down a hallway, and then thundered up the stairs.
He barged into the Watcher’s room without knocking, startling everyone inside. The Watcher and his family stared at him in consternation. Sounds of the commotion Xander had caused downstairs clearly traveled through the open door.
“Get your Watcher gear. We’re leaving,” he said in the don’t-mess-with-me voice he normally only used on the construction site.
“Oh good heavens,” Willoughby rose to his feet. “Are you hurt?”
“No, it’s wine.”
“You were drinking?” he asked astonished.
Xander shook his head. “Come on, we gotta go!”
“What happened?” Willoughby asked.
“Your host happened. That Hartford guy. He knows. I just listened to him while he was on the phone,” Xander explained. “You never said he was a Watcher! Anyway, something’s happened and now Buffy’s on the run. We gotta help her. Before anyone else gets to her.”
“You are quite right, Mr. Harris. We will help her. But first we will have to find her.”
Buffy quickly shielded her face with her hand, watching through spread fingers as the trio swept past her. *Well, at least I’ve found something I recognize.* When Angelus and his women were finally across the street, Buffy stood up slowly. She carefully picked her way through the passing public. She could still hear echoes of Drusilla’s voice; they sent chills up her spine.
Buffy followed, as close as she could manage. She skittered from shadow to shadow trying to eavesdrop on the vampire triumvirate.
“If you’re lonely, why don’t you make yourself a playmate, Dru?” Angel suggested.
Buffy gasped, then quickly covered her mouth and lowered her cap.
Just then, a man carrying a stack of papers rushed past and shoved his way through the vampire family. “Bloody…watch where you’re going,” he muttered.
The Slayer recognized William’s voice even though his head was down. *Oh god, no!*
Dru turned at the sound of the man’s voice. *My prince,* she thought as he brushed past. She swayed slightly and gracefully moved away from her mummy and daddy and followed the lovely yellow, lemon scented trail her playmate left in his wake.
From the moment she heard William’s voice, Buffy’s mind hadn’t stopped racing.
*Tonight. It’s happening tonight. What should I do? It’s my job. It’s William. It’s Spike. What about the future?*
She followed Drusilla through the city streets, trying to make up her mind. Trying not to freak out.
*I could save all the people Spike is going to kill. I could save two Slayers. But then maybe I’ll never get called. Hey, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Okay, I sooo don’t have time to decide whether or not I want to be a Slayer. And Dawn? Oh my god! What about Dawn? I’ll lose her!* Tears pricked the Slayer’s eyes.
Drusilla hovered at the edge of the alley and watched her young prince rip his tear-soaked papers to shreds. She closed her eyes and inhaled his scent; she could see wisps of his future, glistening. But something wasn’t right. He was overlaid. *He is special…twice,* she thought. She also sensed the same hooded figures watching her that had danced around her last night, when she’d almost turned the other one.
*I’m supposed to save people, right? It’s my job. But if I save him, and those Slayers never die, and I’m never called, then really it’s not my job anymore, is it? Besides, what about Spike?*
“Charles, quickly, run downstairs and find Harper. Tell him to get the carriage ready and tell him to make haste.”
“Yes, father,” the boy obeyed without hesitation.
“Mr. Harris, please open that trunk over there. You will find a black leather bag in there. We will be needing that. There are also two books. Take those as well.”
Xander did as he was told. There were stakes, vials of holy water and other weapons in the chest, including a well-oiled gun. He wordlessly pocketed everything that looked useful, put the gun in his waistband and tucked the heavy spell-books under his arms.
Meanwhile, Willoughby continued to give everybody instructions. “George, take your aunt and look after her. Go to this address.” He clumsily scribbled something on a piece of paper, wincing at the pain in his hand, and handed it to the boy. George looked scared but resolved.
“Make sure no one follows you,” his father added and handed him money. George nodded.
“Edward? What is happening?” Willoughby’s sister, a plump, matronly woman demanded to know.
“I am sorry, Catherine, there is no time to explain.”
When Willoughby awkwardly tried to shrug into his coat, his sister stepped closer and helped him. “You don’t have to tell me,” she said seriously. “I have not forgotten our father and his strange work. Just be careful, Edward. Don’t do anything rash. I don’t want to lose you as well.”
“I will be careful. I promise.” He bent down and kissed her cheek. She put on her own coat then put an arm around the younger boy’s shoulder and gave him a comforting squeeze.
They hurried downstairs, ignoring indignant stares, shoved the butler out of the way before he could stop them and filed out of the house.
Harper and the carriage had not yet arrived. Willoughby waved at a passing hansom and it stopped. George and his aunt climbed inside. Willoughby paid the coachman and gave him instructions, and with a crack of the coachman’s whip, the two-wheeler hurtled away at breakneck speed.
Moments later the clatter of hooves announced the arrival of Harper and the Willoughby carriage. “That was quick,” the Watcher observed with an approving nod.
“Thank you, sir,” the coachman replied. “Young Master Willoughby gave me a hand, sir.”
Willoughby ushered Xander inside, where Charles was already waiting, his eyes bright with excitement.
When the butler and a handful of other strong servants hurried out of the house to stop them, the carriage was already on its way.
“Where is Dru?” Darla wondered aloud. “She’ll miss the ballet.”
“Don’t worry, my love,” Angelus murmured as he slipped his arm through hers and they entered the glorious theater. “She’s like a cat, she’ll find her way home.”
“Well, we can always hope she won’t,” Darla answered offhandedly.
“Oh, now, darling, don’t be jealous,” Angel chided.
“I suppose we could punish her for her tardiness.” Darla smiled cruelly.
“She does have to learn her lesson.”
Darla leaned up toward the dark man and brushed her lips across his ear. “Are you hungry?”
*The wisest and bravest knight…* Dru appraised her prize from the shadows.
Buffy was afraid to peer into the alleyway. She watched as Dru followed the same course that William had just taken. She could see an outline of the vampire standing in the shadows, watching…Watching William.
*It’s just that William’s such a nice guy,* she told herself. *And Spike? Well, I kind of like him too,* she replied. *No you don’t,* she argued. *He’s evil.* She sighed. *Okay, maybe not so much.*
The outline moved. Buffy tensed. *Do something!* she prodded herself.
“And I wonder... what possible catastrophe came crashing down from heaven and brought this dashing stranger to tears?” Drusilla asked smoothly.
Buffy edged closer to the passageway and carefully peeked around the corner. William was sitting on a bale of hay. She could see his face glittering with tears. He had ripped up his paperwork. Dru was standing calmly before him.
“Nothing. I wish to be alone,” he answered.
*I could do it now. I could stop her. Dust her. Save so many people.*
“Oh, I see you. A man surrounded by fools who cannot see his strength, his vision, his glory.”
*Hey!* Buffy thought indignantly.
The Slayer watched as William backed away from the vampire.
*Good instincts, Will. Now run!* she willed him. *Who are you kidding, Buffy? You know he’s not going to run. If you want him to live, you’ll have to go save him.*
“That’s quite close enough,” William told her.
*Maybe I don’t want him to live,* she told herself. *Maybe I want Spike.* Buffy closed her eyes. *Oh god, what for?*
“…Your wealth lies here,” Drusilla said, as she pointed to his heart. “…and here,” his head.
*He’s good. Well, no he isn’t. Not really. But… but he tries. And for a vamp that’s saying something, right? He helps. He loves Dawn.*
“You walk in worlds the others can’t begin to imagine.”
*He hasn’t said it in a while, not since… but I know he loves me.*
“Oh, yes! I mean, no. I mean... mother's expecting me,” he stuttered.
*If you’re going to do something, Buffy, now would be the time,* she pressured herself.
“I see what you want. Something glowing and glistening. Something... effulgent.”
*You’re going to let this happen, aren’t you?* she asked herself.
“Effulgent,” William echoed.
*Yes, yes I am.*
“Do you want it?” the vampire asked seductively.
*You’re being selfish,* she chastised.
“Oh, yes! God, yes,” William answered.
Buffy didn’t intend on watching this part, but she couldn’t bring herself to turn away.
“Goodbye William,” she mouthed into the darkness.
Spike stopped the carriage several hundred yards short of Hartford House and got out. He leaned against a street lantern and got out his tobacco pouch, contemplating his next move. As he struck a match to light his smoke he noticed him.
On the other side of the road, about 50 yards ahead, there was a boy in a good but slightly torn suit, looking ruffled and lost. The reason why Spike took notice of him at all was the way the boy moved. Not with the weasel-y sneakiness of a common street urchin but with surprising grace. Like a dancer. That’s when Spike noticed a strand of long red hair escaping from underneath the boy’s cap.
He dropped his match and began to run, dodging loitering couples and speeding carriages. Somewhere along the line he lost his hat. He didn’t even notice when it fell off and got trampled under hoof.
The commotion and the swearing of the coachmen caused the boy to turn and look his way.
A pretty face, as pale as porcelain. It was her!
“We have to keep our eyes open. She might be nearby.”
“Why?” Xander shrugged. “Why should she go back to a place where she knows Hartford is waiting for her?”
“I believe she would try to contact me,” Willoughby explained. “Without money and papers she would not get far and at this juncture she does not have many people in this time and place who she can trust.”
“Charles, can you open my bag for me? Get out the little wooden casket, good. Open it. Do you see that needle? Take it out. Careful. Don’t drop it.”
The boy followed his father’s instruction and looked at him questioningly.
“That needle is enchanted,” Willoughby explained. “It is used for certain locator spells. It will turn towards the named person, much like the needle of a compass. Mr. Harris, Charles, I have to ask you to help me with that spell, as I still have only very limited use of my arms.”
The two young men nodded.
“Now we must hurry. I am certain Hartford has already sent people after us. In fact, they may have already found your friend, Buffy.”
“Spike?” The look on her face was one of utter disbelief. “But…”
He leapt up the curb and for a *horrifying? exhilarating?* second it looked like he was about to sweep her off her feet and pull her into an embrace, but he stopped right in front of her, arms dangling.
She stared at him. Spike? Not William. Because, right now William was in that alley over there, less then 200 yards away, and was having his life drained out of him by Drusilla. No, this was Spike. With a big ‘Ta-daa’ on his face, looking smug and proud and sappy and almost bashful not to mention annoyingly gorgeous *Handsome? Sexy? Irresistable?* what with those damn cheekbones and those blue eyes and all and -- Her reverie came to a screeching halt.
“Spike? What... what are YOU...” She stammered. “I mean, how come you’re here? How did you get here? Is everyone okay? What happened?”
“What? You mean he didn’t tell you?” Spike asked with an incredulous shake of his head. Sappy Spike was rapidly turning into pissed off Spike. “The soddin’ bastard! You’d think he’d tell you how I got him…”
“Who? What?” Buffy interrupted, still waiting to understand how Spike came to stand before her in 1880 London. “Who didn’t tell me what?”
“Harris, who else would I be talking about?” he snapped.
“Xander’s here?” Buffy asked, wondering if the Council had put her on drugs and whether she was hallucinating. At least that would explain some of the tinglies she was feeling.
“Well duh!” Spike said.
“Here, as in London 1880?”
“Where else would he be? You mean you haven’t seen him? Don’t tell me he’s gone missing again.”
“No, I…” Her eyes narrowed. She turned around to look back the way she’d come, back at that alley, then studied his face. “Would you mind telling me what you’re doing here?”
But the vampire wasn’t listening. He was looking past her. A familiar street. A familiar alley. A place he wouldn’t forget in a thousand years: The place where he’d died, no, where he’d been re-born to a life in the dark. But what was Buffy doing here?
He suddenly felt a chill.
“Maybe I should ask you the very same question,” he said slowly. He searched her face, looking for the real Buffy underneath the pale freckled skin and the unfamiliar features. She looked like she’d been caught red-handed. Wide-eyed like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Spike, no…” Buffy stammered. “Don’t…”
“You came here to stop it, didn’t you?” he asked accusingly and nodded at the alley. His growing anger was almost palpable.
Something inside her automatically changed gears.
“What if I did?” she challenged him.
“The one good thing that ever happened to me, the thing that made me what I am, and you’re here to stop it. Now that… ” ‘hurts’ he’d been about to say but he stopped himself.
“Why shouldn’t I?” she snapped, annoyed at him and annoyed at herself. *Why am I arguing with him?* “Drusilla’s a vampire and she’s killing a decent, innocent man and turning him into an evil, soulless thing. Why shouldn’t I stop this?”
As her words sank in she could see all of his usual swagger drain away.
‘Evil soulless thing’ - Buffy saw his lips form the words, but no sound came out of his mouth. He stared at her as if seeing her for the first time.
Buffy felt a painful knot in her stomach. “I’m the Slayer. It’s what I do.” Even to her it sounded feeble.
“What? You’re gonna tell me it’s your sacred duty? To mess with time like that?” Spike spat, suddenly running on fury. “Yeah right. Tell me another one, Slayer. What about your precious Angel then? He’s got almost two decades of murder and mayhem ahead of him. You’re gonna kill him too? Whatever you say, this is not about saving lives.”
Several well-dressed men and women were certain to cross the street to avoid the increasingly loud altercation.
What right did he have to bring up Angel? Buffy had been about to tell him not to worry, that she had no intention of changing the course of history, but his words called for an answer.
“Then what is this about? Tell me, cause I’d really like to know. Come on, Spike, dazzle me with your great insight and your deductive abilities. What does Slopen-what’s-his-name have to say?”
“Slopen-someone, you know, the fate-guy?”
“It’s Schopenhauer. And yeah, I’ll tell you what this is all about. You’re just scared. You don’t know what to feel and what to do and you wish you’d never been called. And if you prevent this,” he said slowly, “maybe you won’t ever, ‘cause Spike the killer of Slayers won’t be around to do those other two girls in, and fate might just pass you by and you’d finally get to be an ordinary girl. How am I doing so far?”
“Oh yeah, like you know me inside out. Well, I know you, too. You say you’ve changed just because lately you haven’t killed people and because you’ve helped us out? Who do you think you’re fooling? You kill demons because you can. You. Like. Killing. Things.” She held up her hands to forestall an interruption. “I know. You’re a vampire. It’s what you do.”
“No. Let me finish. It’s not like I don’t appreciate your help and everything, but don’t expect me to forget that the only other reason why you’re in good guy mode is because you think you love me.”
“I don’t think I love you, Summers.” He stated coldly. “I know I do.”
The declaration was as unsettling as ever, bringing with it the urge to run away and never stop running. Because hearing it felt good in a scary never-let-me-go sort of way.
“Maybe,” she conceded, “Maybe it’s true. Maybe you really do love me. But I can’t be the one thing that stands between you and all those yummy people out there. Can’t you see?”
She turned around to walk away.
Spike grabbed her shoulder. His fingers dug painfully into her flesh. “I’m not going to let you do this,” he said, misinterpreting her move.
She brushed his hand aside but turned to face him. “What? You think you could stop me? Get real, Spikey, you can’t even hit me without a big ouchie.”
“Oh yeah?” His eyes narrowed and he measured her with a predator’s smile. “Well, I’ll have you know I can hold my own now. No more ouchies.”
She paled. Suddenly the cold of the grave was back. The smell of decay assaulted her, making her nauseous. She knew it was only in her head. Maybe none of this was real… And to think that when she’d first set eyes on him she’d been glad to see him. Had felt safe. How could she have let her guard down like that!
He tilted his hand and gave her a practiced smirk. “That’s right, luv. Chip’s not working.”
Images of blood-drained corpses assaulted her, bodies in straitjackets, faces contorted in terror. Some of the surviving patients at the asylum had said there’d been a fourth vampire, a blond man.
*’I’ve changed, Buffy!’*
Why did it come like a shock to find that in spite of all of his assurances, his declarations of love and his attempts at friendship he’d gone and killed innocent people?
*’Is there anything I can do?’*
Why did she feel betrayed when she’d always known it was just the chip that was holding him back?
*‘Every night I save you’*
Why did it hurt so much?
“Oh god.” Was all Buffy could say.
“What have you done?” she whispered.
She grabbed the lapels of his coat and pulled him towards her, then spun him around and slammed him against the nearest wall, unaware of the shocked Victorian onlookers. “You killed again, didn’t you.” Her eyes were brimming with unshed tears.
Was that shame she saw in his face? Regret?
“Look, it was an accident,” he blurted out. “How was I to know the chip wasn’t working? Thought the guy was a demon!”
“There were demons in the asylum?” she asked, determined to get to the bottom of this. Detached. Professional. *You wish!*
“What’s the asylum got to do with it?” he asked. “Oh, I get it, you think I had myself a bit of a slaughter, seeing that Angelus was gonna get blamed, anyway.”
She looked uncertain.
“Well I didn’t, but you don’t believe me, do you?”
She paused. She did believe him. But was she ready to tell him that?
Her grip loosened and he tore free. “Doesn’t really matter what you think – you still don’t have the right to change the past. This already happened, Buffy – and whether you think I’d be better off dust or not, it’s not for you to decide.”
“Did you ever think that maybe this is why I ended up here? To fix something? To change something?” she asked him as much as she questioned herself.
“What makes you think all this is about YOU, Summers. What about the other girl? How do you know all this didn’t happen just so she could have a peek at the future?”
Spike took advantage of her hesitation and swiftly stepped around the small girl to block her path to the alley.
“No matter Slayer. Point is, I CAN stop you,” Spike said.
“You can try,” she said automatically, instinctively snapping into a fighting stance.
He matched her move and stood before here, almost bouncing with anticipation.
“So now you’re back to trying to kill me?” Buffy asked, incredulously.
“What? No!” Spike frowned. “’Course not. But if you’re plannin’ on going through with this I’ll definitely beat the snot outa ya, Summers!”
“Yeah, and then I’ll drag you back to where you belong. Kicking and screaming, if I have to. Promised the little trinket I’d get you and Harris back in one piece and I will, even though you’re the most stubborn, stuckup and self-righteous girl in three centuries!”
“And you, you’re the most annoying, foul-mouthed and…and annoying guy that ever had fangs. I so don’t know why I put up with you!”
“You put up with me? I really don’t know what I see in you, Slayer, you’re whiney and self-centered …” She grabbed him and yanked him towards her, but he kept talking, “…and half the time you don’t know what you want…” – she slammed him against he wall again, but with less force, “…and you’ve got stupid hair…” then pressed herself against him. His eyes widened comically.
“What’s it take to make you… Shut. Up?” Buffy asked. Suddenly her mouth was on his, frantic and demanding, causing him to gasp in surprise. Buffy would have smiled at the stunned look on his face, but after just a moment Spike slid his hand through her hair and returned the kiss with matching hunger.
If the earth had opened up to swallow them, neither of them would have noticed. They certainly did not notice the commotion they were causing, the shocked faces and scandalized exclamations of the other people that were out on the street.
Between pinning his hard frame against the wall and attacking his mouth with abandon, Buffy felt something inside her melting.
*So good,* she thought, when she finally pulled back to catch her breath. In fact, it felt like coming home. Which answered a question that had popped up in her brain with frightening regularity: namely whether it had been Willow’ spell that had made his kisses so good, back when she and Spike had gotten engaged… *Obviously not.*
“Was that a goodbye kiss?” he asked warily, trying to read her face.
“No. No goodbye. I don’t like goodbyes. And Dru, well, she kinda got to him… you… already. Um, whatever. It’s done.”
He stilled. Blinked.
“It happened,” she elaborated nervously. “Like in, you’re… um, William is dead and Drusilla already left. No changing of history.”
“You’re telling me you got there too late?”
“I’m telling you I didn’t stop it.”
He held her hands, feeling her pulse race under his fingertips and gazed at her in wonder. She was flushed, embarrassed, breathless but also glowing. “Why didn’t you?” he finally asked.
“Lots of reasons,” she said evasively, but when he didn’t let go she continued. “Just being here. Changed things.”
Spike nodded, even though he didn’t understand any of this.
It was hard to say who made the first move but a moment later they were kissing again. One of her hands cupped his face then found its way into his hair, the other was still gripping his coat. Time slowed to a crawl as passion warmed them both.
Then he pulled back and disentangled himself.
“What?” Buffy asked with a pout.
“I hate to break it to you, Summers, but I think you’ve forgotten something.”
He hesitated, then reached for her hand, half expecting her to snatch it back. But she didn’t. Instead her fingers closed on his. He smiled and walked her a few steps down the road to a shop window.
“What?” Buffy asked.
“Hats. Lots of them. Plus you have no reflection. What else is new?”
“No, look.” He gestured at her reflection. Pale skin, green eyes, red hair. *Red?*
She touched Maeve’s lips and grimaced. “Oops.”
“Somehow I don’t think she’d mind,” Spike said, very much aware of the fact that Buffy still hadn’t snatched back her hand.
“As long as we don’t take any more liberties.”
Buffy smiled, very much aware that Spike was still holding on to her hand.
Suddenly there was a clatter of hooves when a large carriage noisily pulled up right beside them.
“Spike?” – “Buffy?” two familiar voices spoke up. And then: “What is this? You could have mentioned that your friend is a vampire!”
Continued in Part 38 - Back to Business