Chapter 1: Another Becoming
“Painful, isn’t it?”
The words seemed to echo throughout the mansion as Spike continued to pound on Angelus with a crowbar. That brief look of surprise when he had turned his face toward Spike had been priceless. Sweet repayment for the weeks of torture Spike had endured. Stuck in a wheelchair, unable to retaliate while Angelus had insulted him or took his Dru to bed, ignored at best, taunted mercilessly at worst, his own minions snickering at him, and finally that insane plan of sending the world to hell. Well, all of that was over now. Soon, he and Drusilla would be gone from this dreadful town, and he was never coming back. Now if the Slayer would only take over the Angelus’ bashing, Spike could be on his way out of.
A quick look at what the Slayer was doing exactly and Spike’s eyes widened in alarm at the scene playing out a few feet away. Drusilla and the Slayer were fighting, each woman looking at the other with deadly intent, fangs and razor-sharp nails on one side, wooden stake on the other. Angelus forgotten, he rushed toward them, crowbar clattering to the floor. With an angry growl, he grabbed Drusilla’s arm from behind and yanked her away from a fast incoming piece of wood before pushing her out of the Slayer’s way.
“That’s not part of the deal!” he shouted, eyes flashing gold as he stared at the short blonde. “You were supposed to leave her.”
An enraged roar interrupted him, and Spike barely had time to curse the stupidity of turning his back on Angelus before the abandoned iron bar struck his back repeatedly, driving him to the floor. Blows poured out of the older vampire followed by venomous words, promising a lot worse than hell was coming Spike’s way for daring to stand against his grandsire. Spike could hear other sounds behind him, sounds of flesh hitting flesh and glass shattering. The bitter thought came to him that this all had been for nothing; whatever happened now, he had lost Drusilla. Either the Slayer would stake Dru, or Dru would kill her and condemn them all to hell.
Infuriated at the idea, he managed to roll over and grab hold of the bar the next time it fell on him. A short struggle ensued; and for a brief second Spike was on his feet, before Angelus sent him flying backward to crash into the table. Stunned and body aching in more places than he could count, Spike laid in the splintered wreckage unaware of Angelus pulling the sword out of the statue. He heard his Princess’ exultant cry and the Slayer’s muttered curse. Heard Angelus tell Dru to stand aside and leave the Slayer to him. Then, it was metal on metal, the sounds of two swords clashing, and the Slayer’s breath increasingly ragged as each instant passed.
Shaking his head to clear his mind, Spike made an effort to stand, only to regret it instantly. Drusilla was in front of him, very clearly pissed off. He had not seen this particular look very often over the years, mostly because he usually made sure not to let anything upset her too badly, and never had she directed her fury at him.
“My naughty little boy,” she clucked. “I knew the nasty Slayer would worm her way inside, but the stars didn’t whisper that you’d burn tonight. Snip, snap, switch, cane. Whatever shall I do with you now?”
He raised a pleading hand toward her, and she stared at it with an icy look that froze his movement.
“Princess, look, I did it all for you,” he tried to explain, knowing already that it was useless but desperate to gain time. “So that we could.”
Blindingly fast, she struck. Sharp nails sliced his cheek and blood was seeping from four cuts. Ignoring the pain, from both the blow and what it meant, he caught her wrist and tried to pull her down. They could still make it, could still be out of here and on their way to calmer skies if he just managed to restrain her. Once she calmed down, he could explain to her. Make her see how helping the Slayer had been necessary. How hell wasn’t exactly a nice place to spend eternity. How the Angelus who had come back to them wasn’t the one they had once known, how this one was completely insane, probably from being controlled by the soul for so long, how…
Of course, restraining her might have been a tad easier if he had paid attention to what he was doing.
“I don’t want to hurt you, baby,” he said in a soothing tone as he struggled with her, only to double in pain when she punched him in the gut.
“I have no such trouble,” she replied before he could add that, wanting or not, he would do what was needed. A kick and another punch followed her words, and Spike spat blood from his mouth.
“We don’t have time for this,” he hissed angrily. Behind Drusilla, he could see that Acathla had opened, and Angelus was advancing toward the unarmed Slayer, taunting her with words Spike didn’t care to hear. It was now or never. Wincing internally, he punched her in the face, then a second time, before taking hold of her. Once she was unconscious.
However, she wasn’t unconscious yet and instead managed to escape his grip. The force of her own movement sent her stumbling back, straight toward Angel. She crashed into him, hard, making him lose his grip on his raised sword and thus angering him. Even though he had been fighting with her an instant before, Spike roared when her Sire roughly struck his Princess, thoughtlessly punishing her for interrupting his fight with the Slayer. The scream died in his throat as he watched Drusilla stagger before falling backwards, straight through the swirling vortex emanating from Acathla.
The blow was about to come, and Buffy now understood what Whistler had meant when he said she still had something to lose.
Until now, she had always believed that she would win eventually, however hard it might be. Now she wasn’t so sure. It didn’t mean she wasn’t going to keep fighting until the last second. Of course, she would take lucky breaks anytime, such as Drusilla throwing Angelus off balance.
Taking advantage of the distraction, she grabbed the sword Angelus had dropped and watched as the insane bitch fell into whatever was hiding inside Acathla. If anything, the unexpected sacrifice seemed to make the vortex grow faster. She had to do it, and she had to do it now. Angelus’ blood had awakened the stone. His blood would soon close it, if she managed to get a shot.
If Spike gave her the chance.
Enraged, Spike jumped on the taller vampire’s back fists, feet, and oh so inventive words, hitting and cursing him for causing his crazy girlfriend to become hell-fodder. Buffy wanted to intervene and take over the fight – it was her responsibility, her duty and right to deal with Angelus, and her only chance to say goodbye to Angel forever.
However, before she could do take more than a step forward, a strange light struck Angelus, freezing him to the spot. Taking advantage of his grandsire’s vulnerability, Spike grabbed the other sword from the floor and ran it straight through Angelus’ chest, and began to draw back to strike again. Acathla didn’t seem to agree with that plan, because it began to suck Angelus backwards. The moment he touched the vortex, the light leapt from him and into Spike.
Then it was over. It hadn’t taken more than a couple of seconds.
Shocked, Buffy watched the now inert stone where her former lover had disappeared. He was gone. Angelus was out of her life. And so was Angel. She had thought that she had finished grieving him and their love already; but the knowledge that, this time, it was over made it cruelly clear that she still mourned his loss. Cold grief seeped into her flesh, her bones, her mind, her soul, and she felt numb, too numb even to cry.
Slowly, mindless steps took her forward, closer to the stone, to touch it and make clear to her mind and body that he was gone. The shaking body kneeling between her and her goal stopped her.
Caught up in Angelus’ disappearance, she had forgotten about the cause of this disappearance, about the blonde vampire who had robbed her of her prerogative, who had taken away the only closure she could ever have found.
Without thinking, she brought the sword she still clutched – Angelus’ sword, the sword he had almost killed her with – to rest on Spike’s shoulder. The edge of the blade rested against his neck, and as he continued to shake it nicked his skin; Buffy stared, entranced, as a rivulet of blood glided along the blade before dripping off and onto the stone floor.
Longs seconds passed in a too heavy silence. She just needed to swing the blade, and her unlikely ally would be dust. He just needed to move and he would be safe, at least for a time. Yet, neither of them moved.
“Do it,” he finally said, his voice dry and rasping. “Just end it.”
A pause, not even long enough for Buffy to wonder why he wanted to die, and he added in a whisper: “Please.”
In reaction, she raised the blade, preparing to swing. His whole body tensed in anticipation of the blow. She changed her mind at the last second. She didn’t strike and instead threw the sword away. It clattered across the cold stone and Spike started to shake again, the sound of muffled sobs filling the silence. Seeing him cry was enough to break her own barriers and tears filled her eyes, as well as her voice when she spoke.
“You don’t get to die. You don’t deserve to rest. No more than I do. We get to hurt every day knowing what happened, and how we lost them, and the responsibility we had in it. We hurt enough to die, but we don’t.”
Her voice broke on the last words. How much of these words were for him, and how much for herself? She forced herself to turn and walk away, each step making it clearer in her mind that this part of her life was finished. All she needed now was to learn how to live again. If she ever could.
She never turned back to look at Acathla, never saw Spike curl up on the floor and weep without restraint.
If you’re going to tell the story, you might as well do it right. You make me sound like a complete prat, you realize that, don’t you? No, it’s not all touching and stuff to have a vamp crying his heart out on cold stone while the Slayer walks away. It’s bloody pathetic, that’s what it is. At least, the way you tell it, it is. I’m taking the scene, now, if you don’t mind. You do? Well, too bad, I couldn’t care less.
So. The way you say it, it’s as if I was bawling like a baby and begging to be dusted because I had lost Dru. Well, you know that’s not it, and so do I, so let’s straighten things out, shall we?
I’m not denying seeing Drusilla disappear into Acathla was. Hell, how can I say it? It broke my heart, that’s what it did. My heart was already in bad shape from her fooling around with Angelus, like she had done a century before and like I knew she’d do again if he ever came back to us. It’s not so much that she did that surprised me, but rather that she never said a thing about him being so different from the Angelus we used to know. Different as in, completely out of his fucking mind.
The Angelus that sired her, the Master that taught me, very much did appreciate the pleasures the human world can bring to our kind. He was ruthless, yes, and a merciless killer, and so many other things, but he wouldn’t have sent the whole world – including himself – into hell just because he was pissed at a bloody Slayer. Dru should have seen it, seen he was as insane as she was. But she didn’t, and it hurt as much as knowing they shared a bed again; because it meant I was the only one remembering what had once been, the only one still yearning for a past long gone, for a vampire I used to call Sire, even if he wasn’t in the facts of blood.
But I’m rambling.
What was I saying again?
Oh, right, Dru. Yes, heartbroken. Still am, but the pain dulled over time. Seeing her again months later helped, I suppose, to really say goodbye to her, to what we were, what we had shared. It allowed me to move on, and love again. But at that moment, of course, I was absolutely incensed at having lost her, especially in that almost accidental way, angry enough to take Angelus one on one and not get my ass kicked in two minutes flat. Enough to win, for the very first time ever. If I hadn’t been hurting so much, I might almost have been proud of it. But the hurt from Dru’s fate was only the beginning.
When I shoved that damn sword in him, something happened. Or rather, had already started to happen. I didn’t know it at the time, but we’ve pieced it together long since. When I skewered him, Red’s little spell was taking effect, and the soul restoration had begun. Then, he touched the vortex, and for whatever reason the spell rebounded; and, instead of Angelus, yours truly was given his bloody soul back.
How would you have described it, if I had let you tell the tale? What words would you have used to explain how it feels suddenly to have a dozen decades of guilt crammed into you where there was nothing but hedonistic gratification before? I’ve lived through it, so to speak, and I’m not sure I could even find the words. Of course, words have never been my strength, however hard I tried.
Getting my soul back after a century. well, for one thing, it hurt. The physical pain was intense, like sunshine touching me inside, if that makes any sense at all. Or maybe like drinking holy water, except that the fire wasn’t just in my throat and in my belly; it ran though all of my body, down to my very toes. Didn’t last long, but the memory stayed with me for months. Years. Hell, I can still feel it if I think about it for too long…
In short, it hurt like a bitch. Then, my body stopped hurting. Which was good. But immediately, it was my mind. My poor, not so innocent mind of a killer, suddenly and without warning confronted to God knows how many murders. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. Far from it. A hundred thousand voices screaming at me, blaming me for their deaths. But at the same time, all these voices were my own, all their words were something William, in another life, might have said to condemn a murderer.
I’ve thought about it often, since it happened, wondered why it sounded like him at first, why, as weeks went by, the voice and tone changed to sound more like who I am today. Why was it even my soul that was returned to me, since the spell was obviously cast on Angelus, and had started to work on him? I’m not complaining though. I’ve got to shudder at the idea of getting cursed with Angel’s soul. Now if that had happened, I would have staked myself, no doubt about it.
And I did think of staking myself. As I lay on stone that felt colder than my own heart, and eventually. what is it you said? “wept without restraint”, as all these nights of feeding were submitted in judgment and found to be sins, I wanted to die. That’s why I just stayed there when the Slayer put her sword to my neck. That’s why I begged her to do it. But when she didn’t, when she left me alone with my aching soul, I didn’t reach for a stake or random piece of wood. I didn’t move, except for retreating from the menacing statue that was the only presence with me apart from my too numerous victims. I simply couldn’t do anything more than that. Could only stay there, and cry, and endure the pain. Try to endure it. Try not to lose my mind.
When they came, I barely recognized them. Their faces were blurring with countless others, and. Well, I’ll let you get to that part, I suppose. If you’d be kind enough not to make me look like a complete git? Thank you.