CHARACTERS: Willow + Spike + Dawn + Guest
FEEDBACK: Very welcome, to firstname.lastname@example.org
BETA: MissMurchison and Jonesiexxx, with my thanks
SETTING: During season 7
DISCLAIMER: These characters not mine, but I promise to put them all back in good condition, and only slightly damaged
NOTE: I’ve taken some liberties with the time sequence of season 7, in order to fit a Halloween theme. This story takes place just after Spike has moved into Buffy’s basement, which in my world occurred around the end of October.
“Hey, Willow! Happy Halloween!”
Willow jumped, and turned to see Buffy standing between her and the bed, a pleased smile on her face. But Buffy was out patrolling. She folded her arms, her heart thumping. “Really not fooling me this time.”
“You’ve cut your hair,” Buffy said approvingly, tilting her head and sending a dazzling grin zinging her way. “It’s really cute.”
Willow frowned, and then her eyes widened in realisation. Not Buffy - Buffybot. “Well, now you’re getting desperate, aren’t you?” she said. “What are you this time? The Ghost of Science Experiments Past?”
Buffybot blinked, looking cute but confused.
Willow swallowed, remembering. Buffy in her grave. Buffybot, lying each night in this bed, recharging, and the ugly feeling in her stomach as Buffybot leapt to her feet each morning, a parody of what they’d all lost.
But she’d done something about that - brought Buffy back. She stepped forward, gritted her teeth, and passed her arm in long sweeping wave right through Buffybot’s torso.
Buffybot’s eyes went round. “Ooh!” she said. “that’s so cool!” She prodded Willow tentatively in the arm, and giggled as her finger disappeared into Willow’s blouse. “Does it tickle?” she asked eagerly.
Willow gave a little step back, shivering. “You can’t touch me,” she said. “And believe me, I know better than to listen to you this time. Go back to the Shadows where you belong.”
Buffybot blinked, her mouth making a little hurt ‘oh!’ - and then her hands fell to her sides, and her head dropped slightly. When she looked up again, a cruel smile was on her face. Her eyes fixed on Willow’s throat, where a small pulse was beating. “Why not try a spell to banish me there, Witch?” she said, “Or are you too scared you’ll let the Darkness return? You opened your soul to the Void once, didn’t you?”
Willow crossed her arms against her chest. She swallowed, and tried to smile. “I don’t need to banish you - Rahab is it? Or Leviathan, or Behemoth or whoever you are.” She looked at the apparition the First Evil had shaped in a cruel parody of a parody. Then she turned her back deliberately, and walked out through the open door of the bedroom, looking for company, any company.
The First Evil followed her, across the landing, to the top of the stairs, and watched as Willow hurried down the steps, trying not to run. “My names are legion, but I see the little Witch remembers her Hebrew School. And you know all about the power of names, and words, don’t you? How many words would it have taken?” The First Evil threw out her hands and gestured theatrically. “How many words would it have taken to destroy it all, Willow Rosenberg?”
Willow tumbled down the bottom step, into the hall. Where was everyone? Buffy and some of the others were out patrolling, but in a house this full, you’d think she’d have managed to stumble over a stray Potential, or a stir-crazy Scooby by now. Oh, that's right - the kitchen, everyone was in the kitchen making Halloween decorations. She headed in that direction, then stopped abruptly as she felt another tickle of magic - the First Evil was standing in front of her again. She squared her shoulders and walked straight through the apparition, feeling that same tickle intensify and prickle the hairs on her arms as she did so.
The First Evil looked after her as she walked rapidly away. “You’re a creature of the Darkness now, Willow Rosenberg, and always will be. All your purity gone, all your Magic defiled.” Willow’s shoulders hunched.
“And why should she be any different to the rest of us, eh?” Spike stood in the corridor, hair yellow in the overhead light, black clad body lost in the gloom.
The First Evil laughed, an incongruous ugly sound coming from Buffybot’s sweet mouth. “Well, if it isn’t my favourite whipping boy!”
Spike stepped forward from the shadows, brushing Willow’s shoulder. “Impersonating a walking toaster now are we?” he said. “You might have managed something scarier than little Miss Sunshine for Halloween.”
The First Evil looked down at herself, and then pointed at Spike. “I wear the shape of a creature made for you to use.” Her finger moved to point at Willow, who had stopped, and turned back to stand shoulder to shoulder with Spike. “And used by you in turn. Created, used, discarded.” She smiled at Willow. “And you gave her a living essence, without even noticing. Tsk, tsk.”
Willow’s brow wrinkled, and her mouth opened on a question quickly suppressed.
“Fat lot you care about the little tin soldier,” said Spike roughly. He turned to Willow, whose head was tilted slightly to one side, as she tried to digest the significance of the First Evil’s announcement, and touched her on the arm. “It’s all just words,” he said roughly, “they only have power if you let them. He looked back defiantly at the First Evil. “Go to hell.”
“Hell is where you belong, Vampire.” She turned to Willow, And as for you - Idolator, Murderer - very soon you will die, at my Will - and your life will be snuffed out like a candle. And then you will be precisely nothing.” The First Evil turned back to Spike. “While you on the other hand, are going to burn.”
“Like hearing yourself talk, don’t you?” said Spike. “Never get tired of rabbiting on. Threat, threat, insult, threat, blah, blah, destroy the world, blah de bloody blah - creepy portentous bullshit ad bloody infinitum. I’ve got to tell you, you’re never going to make a popular dinner guest.”
“And yet, I always speak the truth,” said the First Evil, drifting slowly across the hall. “Fifteen bodies dead in a cellar? That’s the truth.” She looked at Willow, who still seemed distracted. “A man skinned alive in the woods? That’s the truth. And I speak true prophecy. The witch will be nothing, and you will burn, poor little Lost Boy that you are. Human soul and all.” She smiled, “And sooner than you might think.”
Spike leant against the wall, and crossed his arms, seemingly bored. “I’m terrified I’m sure,” he said. “And yet you can’t even snuff a candle can you? Let alone set a bonfire. Must be a bit of a bugger, eh?”
“Can’t I?” said the First Evil. She reached out a hand.
The hall plunged into darkness, and Spike blinked to adjust his vision. The room became a mass of grey shadows - furniture, stairs, Willow beside him, her head turning uselessly in what for her was impenetrable darkness - and the First Evil across the room by the front door, bending ...
“That was Buffybot!” said Willow, suddenly.
There was a twang and Spike saw a arrow hurtling out of the gloom towards them. He threw himself against Willow in the darkness, heard the faintest whisper of something passing in the air. She fell awkwardly, banging her head against the cabinet beside them, Spike on top of her. He whispered, half to himself, “Has to be the Trick-or-Treaters. Should never have let those little buggers get to the front door alive.”
Beneath him, Willow shook her head, groggily; he could smell fresh blood on her cheek, licked his lips.
“No, she’s the only thing there - and she’s not there all the time. She’s alternating - incorporeal, then corporeal, doesn’t seem like she can hold it for long.” Willow looked up blearily, “Gone right now, in fact.” Spike shifted silently off her, and she got shakily to her feet and strained into the darkness, felt the faint wash of magic in the air. “Back again.”
“Yes - I discovered something very interesting,” said the First Evil’s voice in the darkness. “A creature never quite alive, can also never be quite dead. And a creature not quite dead, can also be a creature not quite here and not quite elsewhere. Or at least, in every moment it is potentially here, and potentially not.” Her voice became mocking, “I’m not sure if it’s physics, or magic - but whatever it is, it’s awfully convenient.” She giggled, Buffybot’s high pitched giggle.
Willow felt the blood on her cheek, and winced. “Uh, I feel a bit nauseous.” She slid to her knees, dizzy.
“That was the loaded crossbow by the door,” Spike said, his mouth by Willow’s ear. He stepped over to the light switch and flicked it back on, “Unless she can bring something with her, she’s down to throwing ornaments and stuff from here on. We should be relatively safe.”
As Willow blinked in the sudden brightness, swallowing bile, she caught a glimpse of a figure in the corner of her eye and a flash of movement. A carriage clock flew through the air in front of her. Spike threw himself desperately backwards, as the clock smashed right into - and through - the wall beside his head.
"Or not," said Spike, flipping back onto his feet.
The living room door flew open, Dawn stood in the threshold, her hands on her hips. “Hey!” she said indignantly, “what dummy just threw that clock? It could have maimed any of us - and it has smashed our pumpkin.”
“Spike!” yelled Willow.
For while Spike was distracted, the First Evil had rematerialised directly behind him, something silver held out in the palm of her hand.
Spike turned, startled, as the object exploded in a spray of silver droplets, like a pool of mercury struck by a hammer. He screamed, as each drop that had struck him began to smoke, and burn. He brushed frantically at the drops, but they clung - and where they clung his flesh turned black, and hissed.
“Witchlight,” said the First Evil, smugly, “made ‘by the light of the silvery moon’ - there’s a lot of it around tonight, just outside the front door in fact. Isn’t it pretty?” She stood over Spike, who had fallen to the ground, tearing at his shirt. “Burn Vampire, burn!”
Dawn screamed, as she saw Spike rolling, frantically trying to beat out the flames.
The First Evil’s head turned, “Welcome to the party. You came at just the right time - he’s going to go up with a big whoomp! in a minute. Should be worth seeing.” She disappeared.
Dawn rushed to the cupboard under the stairs, and dragged out a chemical fire extinguisher*. She knocked off the safety catch and sprayed Spike from head to foot in foam, as he lay writhing on the floor. After a few terrifying moments the screams stopped, and he began to cough instead.
“Are you okay, Spike?” said Dawn, rushing forward. “And who the hell was that?” she added, staring around at the now empty hall.
Willow dragged herself up on to one knee. “Her names are legion, apparently,” she drily.
As Dawn leant down to care for Spike, Willow levered herself to her feet, staggered a few steps, and grabbed the extinguisher from her unresisting hand - then swung it in an arc, above Dawn’s head, just as The First Evil materialised. There was a crunching sound of metal striking metal, and Buffybot’s head bounced to the floor. Air rushed through the room with a sucking sound, and the First Evil was gone.
“Gotcha!” cried Willow, triumphant.
Dawn was helping Spike to his feet, getting foam all over her sweater as she did so, and examining him anxiously. She brushed at his coat, and little bits of foam drifted through the air like snowflakes.
Spike looked ruefully at his burned hands. “I’m okay, Bit,” he said. “Just a bit crispy at the edges.” He grinned at her. “Thanks.” He turned to Willow, “And it’s nice to see you’re not too proud to use a low tech method of vanquishing Evil, where it’s called for, Witch.”
Willow shrugged, and grinned back at him. “I don’t think I hurt her - just broke her new toy.”
“Which she left behind," said Dawn, pointing.
Willow looked down, surprised. Lying on the ground was the Buffybot’s body. Rolling on the ground just beyond was her head, looking slightly dented. Willow walked over, and picked it up off the ground. “Poor Buffybot,” she said sadly, “Did I really make you alive, somehow?”
The head’s eyes flew open.
Willow screamed, and dropped the head, which bounced, and rolled across the floor. “Ah, ah!” she breathed, clutching her hand to her chest.
Spike grinned, and bent over to pick up the head, then held it up as Dawn looked over his shoulder. “Give you a little fright did it, Witch?” He twisted the head round to look at Buffybot’s face. The eyes sprung open again.
“Crap!” said Dawn, taking a step backwards.
A big beaming smile spread across Buffybot’s features as she recognised the two faces looking at her. “Hi, Spike!” said Buffybot brightly. She looked to her right. “Hi Dawn! Is it still Halloween?” She looked embarrassed, “I guess I got damaged again?” Spike silently turned her head round and tilted it, his expression unreadable. Her eyes focused on the headless body lying on the floor, and her look became serious. “Ooh! My head fell off! Again!”
“Yeah well,” said Spike, shrugging, “Luckily on Halloween decapitation doesn’t have to be fatal.”
* Note: Past incantations, visitations and conflagrations had made the Summers a very Health & Safety conscious household.
Spike, Willow and Buffybot sat at the kitchen table, next to a grotesquely maimed pumpkin head with a carriage clock sticking out of its eye socket, while they held a little conference about Buffybot's strange reappearance. The other inhabitants of the kitchen had taken one look at them and fled to the basement, leaving candles, cut-out witch figures, pots of glue, and drifts of black crepe paper behind them.
Dawn brought over three steaming mugs from the counter and sat down.
“.... so, I guess we just wait and watch her, and see what happens,” concluded Willow, looking at the Buffybot with a kind of baffled fascination.
“It’s ever so exciting!” said Buffybot, looking eagerly around the kitchen, “I’ve never been to a Halloween Party before!”
“Oh,” said Spike, staring morosely into his mug, “It’s bound to be lots of fun. This whole Halloween day has been a hoot so far.”
“Well, yeah,” Dawn said, grinning. She looked at Willow, who had developed a magnificently bloodshot black eye, along with a greenish palor; at Spike, with his bandaged hands and other scaly burnt patches, still flecked in foam; and lastly at Buffybot, who sat with her head quite literally in her hands. She gestured at the party ornaments scattered abandoned on the kitchen counter, “And looking on the bright side, you guys have totally the best Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen!”