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The Hounds of Love Part 6

Happy birthday to petzipellepingo

At last here is the conclusion of “The Hounds of Love”. This tale grew in the telling, as they say, and it’s much longer and later than I had expected. The whole story is 25,575 words instead of the 10-15,000 that I had planned. Again, sorry about not replying to recent comments; I'll get on with that now that I've got this story completed.

This final part is 7, 440 words, rating PG13-ish, beginning during an alternative ‘Becoming Part 2’.

Part one was HERE. Part two was HERE. Part three was HERE. Part four was HERE. Part five was HERE.

The Hounds of Love

Part Six

Joyce set coffee cups down in front of Buffy and Spike, returned to the kitchen, and came back carrying a cup for herself. She sat down, gave Spike a hard stare, and then her eyebrows lifted. “Are those acid burns?” she asked.

“Something like that,” Spike agreed.

“Shouldn’t you get them seen by a doctor?” She turned her gaze to Buffy. “And shouldn’t we call the police? I don’t care if he is your former boyfriend, if that Angel person is throwing acid on people he should be in jail. This young man could have been blinded!”

“Wasn’t Angel,” Spike told her. “Drusilla. My ex. She’s the one who did this to me. Angel only tried to kick in my ribs.”

“Oh? And that’s not criminal? He’s threatened me, he’s made threats against you, and he’s beaten up one of your friends. Buffy, if you won’t call the police, then I will.”

“No!” Buffy protested. “Mom, no police, please?”

“And why not?”

Buffy hesitated. She didn’t want to tell her mother about vampires, and Slayers, and everything that went with them, but she was beginning to think that it couldn’t be avoided.

Spike stepped in to help her out. “Cops are as likely to take his word as mine. Rather keep the police out of it, if you don’t mind, Mrs. Summers.”

Joyce stared at him again. “I take it you’ve been in trouble yourself?” Her forehead wrinkled as he nodded. “Have we met?”

“Uh, yeah,” Spike admitted. “You hit me with an axe once. Remember? ‘Get the hell away from my daughter’. Sorry about all that.”

Buffy winced. “Spike’s not like that any more, Mom.”

“Spike? I thought you said his name was William.” She fixed him with a piercing gaze. “Are you dating my daughter?”

“Not dating, no,” Spike said, shaking his head. “We do a few things together, but not dating.”

Buffy saw the look on her mother’s face at Spike’s choice of words and hastened to clarify the issue. “We practice martial arts together, Mom, that’s all. No kissing, a world of no to anything more than kissing. We’re friends, that’s all.”

“Hmm.” Joyce gave both of them a hard stare. “Whatever happened to those nice friends you used to have? Willow Rosenberg, and that Xander boy?”

“They’re still my best friends,” Buffy told her. “Uh, they’re friends of Spike too.” She wondered if she was stretching the truth there, but she was pretty sure that Willow would class herself as Spike’s friend – his saving of Jenny had won Willow’s affection right at the start of his change of allegiance – and Xander had been pretty much all on board with the Spike-saving earlier in the day.

“Oh.” Joyce’s expression softened. “Well. That puts a different complexion on things. I’ve certainly no objection to you learning martial arts, as long as you only use them in self-defense, and, well, if you have to have an older boyfriend who used to be in a gang, at least this one seems to be better than the last.”

“I told you, Mom, Spike’s not my boyfriend!” Buffy protested.

“If you say so, dear,” Joyce said. A quirk of her eyebrow showed that she didn’t believe her daughter. “More coffee, anyone?”

- - - - -

“So Mom said, ‘If you say so, dear’,” Buffy related to Willow, “and she did this thing with her eyebrow, and it was like she was thinking ‘Why not?’ and hey, Spike totally charmed her. I mean, the last time they met she hit him with an axe, but he was all nice and everything, and by the time we left I was thinking she was going to start asking him why he wasn’t dating me, and I would have totally died.”

“Uh, if she doesn’t know about Angel and the soul thing, I can totally understand it. She never met Angel,” Willow said, erroneously. “Only Angelus, and hey, even when he was bad Spike was nicer than Angelus. And,” Willow paused and lowered her eyes, and a tinge of color appeared on her cheeks, “Spike is kinda hot. More than Angel, at least I think so, ‘cause hey, Angel’s just too tall and kinda loomy, and Spike’s more the right size. Uh, not that I’m saying Angel’s not hot, well, when he has a soul and isn’t killing my little fishies that is, and, I think I’ll just shut up and go and help Miss Calendar get set up for the spell.”

Spike overheard most of the conversation and a little smile came to his lips. Willow moved away from Buffy and he turned his attention to Giles.

“Are you sure that you are, ah, well enough for a fight, should it come to it, Spike?”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” Spike assured the Watcher. “Angelus was going for pain, not damage. S’ppose he must still have been thinking about me swapping places the other way, not wanted to damage the merchandise when it might end up being his, y’know.”

“Quite probably,” Giles agreed. He adjusted the position of his glasses and cleared his throat. “Do you, ah, believe that his hypothesis is correct?”

Spike shrugged. “Don’t care. Not going back on the deal, regardless. I like it on this side of the fence. Always wanted to be somebody special, y’know? Most of the things I did as the Big Bad were ‘cos I wanted to get a rep, impress Dru and Angelus and even Darla, not that she ever took that much notice. Being a Champion makes me special, long as I live up to it, and, tell you what, it’s a sodding fantastic feeling knowing that there’s people who’ll come for me if I’m in the shit. Never had that before, not even really from Dru.”

The open admission of his motivations began to make Spike feel ill at ease, and he toyed with the hilt of the sword. “Speaking of whom, if it comes down to a tight situation, don’t hold back from dusting her. Not as dead set on keeping her alive as I was.”

Giles’ eyes widened. “Because of the torture?”

“Not just that. ‘Cos of why she was doing it. To get me to do what another bloke wanted. I don’t come first with her, realize that now, and maybe she doesn’t come first with me any more. Not that I want her dead, been through a lot together, and maybe we can work things out when she gets a soul, but if she gets dusted, well, ‘s not the end of the world. Rather her than one of you lot, so, don’t take chances with her ‘cos of me.”

“We’ll bear that in mind,” Giles said. “Hopefully it won’t come to that. The ideal would be for us to complete the ritual with no interruptions.”

“They know, mate. They’ll be here to try to stop you, count on it.” Spike looked around the library. “We’ve probably got them outnumbered, Angelus can’t have that many minions left after Buffy and Kendra killed a couple more today, should be able to hold our own. Still, might have been a better idea to do the spell in a house, where they couldn’t get in at all.”

“They wouldn’t have to get in to disrupt things,” Giles pointed out. “They could use petrol bombs, for instance. Here the school buildings are less vulnerable to such things and, as they can get in, they’re unlikely to resort to less personal measures.”

“Good point, yeah, and if they do burn the place to the ground, well, it’s town property not yours, right?”

“Indeed,” Giles agreed, although in fact that particular aspect of the choice of venue hadn’t occurred to him. He turned to Jenny. “Are we ready?”

“Almost,” Jenny answered.

“I don’t get this bit,” Willow remarked. “It’s not part of the spell, and neither is the fasting thing.”

“All magic has consequences,” Jenny said, her tone the one she used when lecturing her pupils. “We are dealing with the Rituals of the Undead here, and that’s what you would call major league mojo. It’s not just a question of successfully completing the spell, and achieving the desired results, but of ensuring that there are no adverse effects upon the caster. It would work without the purification ritual and the fasting, but there would be a chance that darkness would gain a foothold upon the caster’s soul, and that’s not a risk I’m prepared to take. Never take magic lightly, Willow.”

“I won’t,” Willow promised, her expression serious.

“I know you won’t,” Jenny smiled fondly. “Now, take this incense and circle the table three times widdershins. You too, Cordelia. Counter-clockwise.”

“Take care to get the right vampires, luv,” Spike reminded her. “No soul for me.”

“I’ll be careful, Spike,” Jenny promised. “Now, no more talking to us from here on. We mustn’t be interrupted.”

“Right, got you.” Spike moved away from the table where the ritual was being performed and began to pace the room. Buffy and Kendra stood on guard. Giles, Xander, and Oz sat down and cocked their crossbows.

The preparatory work for the ritual had been completed, and Jenny was just beginning to speak the words of the spell itself, when the vampires attacked.

The library doors burst open and Angelus, Drusilla, and a tall bald-headed henchman strode in. Simultaneously two other vampires dropped down from the ventilation ducts. One attacked Kendra, who was only feet from its landing point, and the other poised itself to jump at the table where Jenny sat.

Kendra clotheslined her attacker, bent to plunge a stake into its chest, and then drew out Mister Pointy and faced Angelus. The other infiltrator was targeted by a volley of crossbow bolts and disintegrated.

The confident, mocking, smile on Angelus’ face wavered. Drusilla hissed in fury and raised her hands like claws. The bald henchman hesitated. Spike advanced towards him with his sword poised for a slashing cut to the head, but Buffy leaped ahead of him and thrust her stake home.

“Gods, bind them,” Jenny chanted. “Cast their hearts from the evil realm …”

“No!” Angelus gasped. “It can’t end like this! It’s not fair!”

“I implore you, Lord, do not ignore this request,” Jenny continued inexorably.

“Look into my eyes, little one,” Drusilla murmured, waving her hands hypnotically from side to side, but a tinge of desperation had crept into her voice.

“No way, José, I know that trick,” Buffy said, keeping her eyes fixed on Drusilla’s torso.

“Won’t work, Dru,” Spike shook his head. “Do yourself a favor, luv, just give up.”

“Neither dead, nor of the living …”

“Be in me,” Drusilla implored. Kendra’s eyes started to follow the motion of Drusilla’s hands. Her eyes glazed briefly, and her stake sagged to point at the floor, but Cordelia grabbed her shoulder and shook her. The Slayer returned to her senses and she raised Mister Pointy again. Her lips set in a tight line and she fixed her angry stare at Angelus.

“Let these Orbs be the vessels that shall carry their souls to them …”

Angelus stared at the Orbs of Thesulah on the library table. He tensed for a spring. Spike moved his sword to bar the way and shook his head.

Angelus smiled disarmingly and relaxed. “I guess I’ll just have to get used to the soul all over …” he began, and then suddenly sprang to one side and tried to dodge past Spike. Kendra swept his legs out from under him and Angelus crashed to the floor face first.

“So shall it be!” Jenny commanded.

Drusilla shrieked and dived forwards, hands outstretched, and ran straight into a punch and elbow-strike combination from Buffy that halted the vampiress dead in her tracks and doubled her over.

Angelus put his hands to the floor and began to get to his feet. Kendra stamped on his back and knocked him flat again.

“So shall it be!” Jenny cried again. She gestured from the Orbs to the vampires. “Now!”

There was a brief flash of light from the Orbs. Drusilla raised her head and Buffy saw a red glow spark within her eyes for a brief instant. The glow faded and Drusilla’s eyes grew wide. “No!” she cried. “What have I done? I’m a wicked girl. God has rejected me.”

“What’s going on?” Angel said from the floor. “Buffy?”

“Angel?” Buffy asked softly. “Angel, is that you?”

Kendra took her foot away from Angel’s back and allowed him to rise. Buffy walked slowly towards Angel, her face glowing. Spike lowered his sword and walked equally slowly towards Drusilla.

“Deus meus, ex toto corde poenitet, me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor,” Drusilla recited in a sing-song tone. “Quia peccando, non solum poenas a te iuste, statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim qui offendi te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones, proximas fugiturum. Amen.”

“Dru?” Spike said softly. He laid down the sword and held out his hand to her.

“Buffy?” Angel said. “What are we doing in the library? I don’t remember. We were … we were just …”

“Angel, you’re back,” Buffy beamed.

“William? Have you also received your soul?” Drusilla asked.

“No, luv, that was special for you and Angel,” Spike said. “You okay, pet?”

Drusilla recoiled from him. “Soulless creature, cast out by God, get away from me! I am damned, evil in his sight, and must seek repentance.”

Spike turned away from Drusilla, deeply hurt by the horror and loathing in her eyes, and found himself facing a hostile stare from Angel.

“Spike? What’s he doing here, Buffy? Why aren’t you staking him?”

“Spike has been filling your role as Champion during your period of, ah, soullessness,” Giles said in a reproving tone, “and, I might say, filling the role admirably.”

“But he’s evil!” Angel protested.

“Oh, come off it, you lying git,” Spike retorted. “You didn’t lose your memory the last time you got stuck with a soul. You needn’t think you’re gonna get a free pass for the last few months by faking that it’s all a blank to you.”

Angel averted his eyes and met Buffy’s stare. Her eyes were wide and questioning, her lip trembling slightly, and Angel quickly turned away from her gaze. “I – I tortured you,” he admitted to Spike. “I killed people.”

“You killed my little fishies,” Willow reminded him. Her eyes were cold and unfriendly.

“I’m sorry,” Angel said. “Forgive me. I wasn’t in my right mind.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Willow replied, and fell silent without saying anything about forgiveness.

“Drusilla,” Giles said, approaching her cautiously. “Do you know me?”

“Of course I do, Mister Giles,” Drusilla said. “You are the Watcher.” Her eyes were clear and her tone calm and lucid. “Are you going to take care of me?”

“Ah, well, I had thought that Spike, William that is, would be the best fitted to help you adapt,” Giles told her.

“He has no soul!” Drusilla wailed, her eyes wild. “He is damned. As am I, for I have sinned, I have sinned mortally. My soul burns me! Make it go. Make it go away, make it go away!”

Spike gave her a hard stare. “That last bit would have been a lot more effective if you hadn’t slipped into the tune of the song you were quoting, luv. Faking it a bit, aren’t you?”

“Hey!” Angel protested. “You know nothing about how it feels, Spike.”

“Don’t need to have a soul to tell when she’s bloody quoting Kate Bush,” Spike retorted.

“Coincidence,” Angel stated flatly. “She’s in torment, can’t you see?”

“You’ll help me, won’t you, Angel?” Drusilla pleaded. “You’ll stay with me? I’m lost and all alone.”

“Of course I will,” Angel promised.

“Angel?” Buffy quavered. “What about us?”

“I have to think of Drusilla before I can think about us,” Angel said. “I have a responsibility to her. I destroyed her, destroyed her whole family, broke her mind. She’s my greatest crime. I have to try to put that right.”

Spike stared at Drusilla suspiciously and was sure that he saw a triumphant smile flicker across her lips for an instant.

“Uh, I guess that we’re all finished here,” Xander spoke up, “so I’m voting that we get out now. If Principal Snyder drops by, well, I’m not going to be the one who explains what we’re doing.”

“Extra study before finals,” Jenny Calendar said calmly. “You could certainly do with it, Xander.”

“Well, yeah, but Willow doesn’t need it. Although, yeah, if there’s any extra study going she’d go for it, but hey, we should leave anyway.”

“I’m guessing the world is pretty safe now, so, party?” suggested Cordelia.

“Right, let’s hit the Bronze.” Xander linked arms with his girlfriend. “Coming, Will? Oz? Buff?”

Buffy stood rigid, staring at Angel.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Buffy,” Angel said. “I have to look after Drusilla first. I have to see that she’s all right. You understand that, Buffy, don’t you?”

Buffy shook her head. “No, Angel, I don’t understand. We’re in love. You killed Darla for me, remember?”

“Darla didn’t have a soul, Buffy,” Angel said. His tone sounded slightly patronizing, at least to Spike, as if he was explaining something to someone who was too obtuse to see the obvious.

“Oh, bugger off with Dru then, you git,” Spike snapped. “Only not in my car. Keys?”

Angel’s brow lowered. “You can’t make Drusilla walk all the way back to the mansion in her condition.”

“She’s not sodding pregnant,” Spike retorted. “You’ve been back and forwards from there before you nicked my car. You don’t need it. Give it back.”

“Okay,” Angel agreed reluctantly. He fished the keys to the DeSoto from his pocket and tossed them to Spike. “We have to talk, Spike.”

“Yeah, we do.” Spike fielded the keys and pocketed them. “Okay, who wants a lift?”

“It’s a nice night,” Angel said coldly. “I think we’ll walk.”

“Spike? Uh, guys, I don’t feel like Bronzing it tonight, ‘kay?” Buffy turned big sad eyes from Xander’s group back to Spike. “Spike, would you give me a ride home?”

“Sure thing, Buffy,” Spike said, varying from his usual practice and using her name primarily to irritate Angel. “Kendra, luv, you want a lift back to the motel?”

“No thank you, Mister Spike,” Kendra replied. “I have not run all my miles for today, an’ if I run back to de motel dat will keep me right for my trainin’.”

“Think you could give it a miss seeing as how you’ve just helped save the world and all,” Spike suggested, but Kendra shook her head. “Okay, just you and me then, Slayer.”

“If I might have a word before you depart, Spike?” Giles said. “In private?”

“No problem,” Spike said, and dug out the car keys. He handed them to Buffy. “Wait for me in the car, pet?”

“Thanks, Spike,” Buffy said. She took the keys and walked out. Her shoulders were slumped and she didn’t carry herself like someone who had just saved the world and regained her lost love.

“Ah, Spike, if you would just come this way?” Giles prompted, and Spike tore his eyes from Buffy and followed Giles up the stairs to the book stacks as Jenny busied herself clearing away the materials from the ritual.

“What is it, Watcher?” Spike asked.

“Please, call me Rupert,” Giles invited.

Spike raised an eyebrow. “I’m honored. Ta, Rupert. Got brothers called Edward and Paddington, have you?”

“Oh, do be serious for a moment,” Giles chided. “I am somewhat concerned by the reactions of Drusilla and Angelus – Angel – after the ensouling spell. It did not go quite as I had envisaged it.”

“S’ppose you’d pictured Angel falling into Buffy’s arms and all living happily ever after,” Spike said.

“Well, yes. Possibly without the ‘happily ever after’ part, perhaps, but I had expected an emotional reconciliation. Drusilla prevented that quite neatly. I wonder, was she consciously manipulating the situation?”

“Damn right she was, Rupert,” Spike stated. “Wouldn’t have thought she’d be compos mentis enough to do it, but she bloody was. Like she was ready for it. Maybe she was. Maybe she had one of her visions about the soul and she had a back-up plan ready and waiting.”

“She was quoting from a song, I think you said?”

“Yeah, Kate Bush. ‘A Woman’s Work’. Sly bitch slipped up and said it in tune. That wasn’t spontaneous.”

Giles frowned. “Wasn’t that song used in a film? How did it go?”

“I can hear you perfectly, you know,” Jenny pointed out from below. “It goes ‘All the things I should have said that I never said, all the things we should have done that we never did, all the things I should have given, but I didn’t, oh darling make it go, make it go away …’ Drusilla was quoting, and you’re right, she slipped into doing it in tune.”

“Should’ve guessed you’d know Kate Bush, pet,” Spike said. “Bet you like Tori Amos too.”

“Not as much, but yes,” Jenny replied. “So, Drusilla was faking it? Did the spell not work?”

“Oh, it worked,” Spike assured her. “Don’t think a soulless vampire could have got that prayer out without choking on it. Just, dunno if a soul guarantees good the way you lot reckon. Not as simple as that.”

“Three months ago I would have dismissed your words out of hand,” Giles said thoughtfully.

“Three months ago, if I was in here, you’d have either been reaching for the crossbow or running like buggery,” Spike grinned.

“Exactly, Spike. You have demonstrated that most of the teachings of the Council are overly simplistic, to say the least.” Giles took off his glasses and sucked on the end of one of the arms. “Do you, then, suspect that Drusilla may still be a threat even with a soul?”

“I think she’s still bloody obsessed with Angel,” Spike said. “Do whatever it takes to get him and to keep him. Long as he stays good, she will too, but dunno as I’d trust her alone with Buffy.” He sighed. “Thought maybe she’d be over him, with a soul. All the things he did to her, bloody awful things, would have thought it was him she’d shy away from. Thought she’d turn back to me, maybe we could sort things out, get back together. Didn’t bloody work out that way.”

“It’s a little soon to be certain of anything,” Giles reminded him.

“Yeah. Well, we’ll see.” Spike sighed again. “Better be going. Buffy’ll be waiting for me in the car.”

“Yes, quite. Goodnight, Spike.”

“’Night, Rupert.” Spike turned and walked away.

As he descended the steps Giles called out to him once more. “Spike? I never thought I’d say this, but – take care of her.”

“I will, mate. I will.”

- - - - -

The car was parked just outside the front doors of the school. Buffy was sitting in the passenger seat, staring out of the window, and tears were trickling down her cheeks. “I never thought it would be like this,” she said as Spike climbed in beside her. “Angel was supposed to come back to me, and Drusilla go back to you.”

“Don’t give up on it yet, luv,” Spike said. “You’ll see him tomorrow. Once he’s got Dru settled down he’ll see sense.”

Buffy shook her head. “I don’t know. She’s got a hold over him and she’ll use it. He’s got a thing about guilt, you know?”

“He’s a pillock if he chooses her over you,” Spike said. “He loves you. I mean, you made him …” Spike’s voice trailed away as he reconsidered what he had been going to say.

“Perfectly happy?” Buffy completed the sentence for him anyway. “Yeah, and we know how that turned out. Take me home, Spike.”

- - - - -

They hardly spoke during the drive. Spike lit up a cigarette without drawing any protest from the Slayer. When they arrived at 1630 Revello Drive Buffy got out of the car, said “Goodnight, Spike,” in a dead voice, and walked to the house with her head bowed.

Spike waited for her to go in before he departed; she was so out of it that some wandering fledgling vampire could come along and bag itself an undeserved Slayer before she could react. He sat and drew on his cigarette, blowing smoke out of the window, and watched her. Only when the door closed behind her did he start the engine.

Before he could get the car into gear again and pull away the door opened again and Joyce Summers emerged. “Spike!” she called, her voice stern. “William?”

Spike switched off the engine and climbed out of the car. “Yes, Mrs. Summers?”

“What have you done to my daughter?” Joyce demanded.

“Nothing. Honest. Look, I know she’s upset, but it’s not my fault,” Spike told her.

“Come here, Spike,” Joyce ordered. Spike tossed away his cigarette and obeyed.

“Mom!” Buffy came out of the door behind her mother. “What are you doing? Spike hasn’t done anything to me.”

“Then why are you so upset?”

A movement caught Spike’s eye. Something was approaching fast. He had left the sword in the car, but he had a stake in his coat pocket, and he slipped his hand there ready to draw it out.

“We got Angel to rehab,” Buffy said, trying to explain the situation in terms that would make sense to her mother. “I thought I could get him back, only, he still wants to be with Drusilla, and …”

A vampire hurtled across the lawn and charged at Joyce. Spike recognized it; one of Angelus’ minions. Angel hadn’t committed all his forces to the attack on the library after all. He had stuck to the precept of ‘always protect your perimeter’ and left one of the gang outside. Spike guessed that it had sensed that the Slayer was vulnerable but had not dared to attack her there when she had been obviously waiting for a companion. Instead it had headed for her home to ambush her, but the car had arrived first and spoiled its timing.

Whether Spike’s reconstruction of events was correct or not was not immediately important. The vampire leaped for Joyce, hands outstretched and fangs bared, and she opened her mouth to scream. Spike drew his stake and sprang forwards.

Buffy reacted with all her normal speed and efficiency. Perhaps only a threat to her mother could have spurred her into such prompt action. She performed a classic leg-sweep and shoulder-throw, spilling the vampire at Spike’s feet. He drove the stake home to complete the kill without even thinking about it.

Joyce closed her mouth with a snap and then opened it again. “What – Buffy, what is going on? Did that – man – just turn to dust?”

“Oh, crap!” Buffy exclaimed. “Looks like I’m gonna have to tell the whole story. Mom, well … I’m a Vampire Slayer.”

- - - - -

“Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Joyce said, as the three sat with mugs of hot chocolate. “Angel was a good vampire, and then he turned bad, and Spike was a bad vampire, and then he turned good, and Spike’s girlfriend was a bad vampire, and Angel and – Drusilla, was it? – got together, and then you two worked together and defeated them and gave them souls and turned them good again, only they’re still together?”

“Yeah, Mom, that’s pretty much the story, at least the Cliff Notes version,” Buffy said. “I know it must be hard for you to believe, but that’s the way it is.”

“I think ‘impossible to believe’ would be a better way of putting it,” Joyce said.

“’Could put my game face on,” Spike suggested. Joyce looked at him blankly. “Go all fanged and ‘grrr’,” he elaborated. “Just to show you, like. Wouldn’t want to scare a nice lady like you.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows at him and a trace of a smile showed at the corners of her mouth.

“Very well, then, show me,” Joyce challenged.

Spike hesitated. He screwed up his face and nothing happened for a moment. He thought about plunging his fangs into a helpless victim, and still nothing happened. Joyce’s expression was growing even more skeptical. Spike growled, remembered Drusilla dripping Holy Water onto his face, and his forehead rippled. He bared his fangs at Joyce, who recoiled in alarm. “Sorry, Mrs. Summers,” he said hastily, slipping back into his human guise.

“You couldn’t do it,” Buffy teased. “You are so not evil any more.”

“I am still evil,” Spike insisted. “Could go back any time I liked.” He caught Joyce’s eye again. “Won’t, though. Get more of a kick out of being a good guy.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Joyce said. “Is this some kind of trick? Clever make-up?”

“Yeah, and I rigged up special effects on the front lawn,” Buffy said. “Come on, Mom, you’ve seen it with your own eyes. I’m a Vampire Slayer. Spike’s a vampire. Deal with it.”

“It’s a lot to have to deal with,” Joyce said. She took a drink of her hot chocolate. Spike followed suit and ended up with a dollop of cream stuck to the end of his nose. Buffy snickered.

“What?” Spike asked, oblivious to the cause of her amusement.

“If you could only see yourself in a mirror …” Buffy began. “Oh! That’s it. Mom, Spike doesn’t have a reflection. See for yourself.” She led Spike to a mirror on the wall and showed her mother that Spike was not reflected in the glass. “See? Or, rather, not see? Vampire.”

“I see,” Joyce said. She returned to her seat and sat down rather abruptly. “If you don’t mind, I think that I could use a drink.”

“I’ll fix you one,” Buffy offered. She went off to the kitchen while Spike and Joyce sat in an awkward silence and returned with a glass of something alcoholic.

Joyce sipped at the drink, grimaced at the strength, and then looked again at Spike and downed half the glass. “So, you’re a Vampire Slayer. Have you tried not being a Vampire Slayer?”

“It doesn’t work like that, Mom. It’s not like a job. I got chosen. It’s this whole Chosen One thing. I get special powers. I’m strong, I’m fast, I heal real quick. In return, I kill vampires.”

“And date them, it seems,” Joyce said in a more normal voice than she had used since the vampire appeared on the lawn.

“Just the one, and that, well, it didn’t turn out too good,” Buffy corrected her.

Joyce looked from Buffy to Spike and back to Buffy again. “Just one? Are you sure?”

“Mom! You keep saying that. There isn’t anything like that between me and Spike.”

Joyce trained her gaze on Spike and raised an eyebrow. Spike met her eyes without flinching. “She’s telling it like it is, Mrs. Summers.”

“Oh, just call me Joyce, her other friends do,” Joyce told him.

“Right, uh, Joyce,” Spike said, wondering just how strong the drink that Buffy had made for her mother had been. “We’re not going out together, ‘cept in a vampire slaying capacity.”

“We keep telling you that, Mom, why do you keep not believing us?”

“Well, mainly because of the way you said ‘oops, busted’ when I saw Spike in the house,” Joyce explained.

“That was ‘cause I thought I was gonna have to do the whole Vampire Slayer reveal thing,” Buffy explained. “Only, then I thought of another way of putting it.” She paused for a slurp of hot chocolate. “Look, Mom, I think you’d better have a talk with Giles tomorrow after school.”

“Mister Giles the School Librarian? Where does he fit in?”

“He’s my Watcher. That’s, like, trainer, and Research Guy, and – what’s the word, Spike?”


“Yeah, that’s it. It’s a thing. Look, he’ll explain it all. Although, probably not like Clarissa.”

- - - - -

“I just don’t get it,” Angel said. “You. William the Bloody. A Champion.”

“You worked the whole thing out for yourself, I’ve filled in the blanks, what’s not to get?” Spike said.

“It’s not that.” Angel shook his head. “I understand how it came about. What I don’t understand is how you were so damn good at it. You did the right thing, every time. Stuck it out under torture, even when I tried to persuade you that you wouldn’t have to suffer the wheelchair thing. Hell, you were as good as I ever was. It chokes me to say it, but maybe you were even better. How come? How did you know what to do without a soul?”

“Dunno how a soul works,” Spike said. “Not sure they’re as important as you think. A soul didn’t keep sodding Hitler on the straight and narrow, did it? S’ppose you’ve got a point about one thing, I don’t feel it inside. Right and wrong are just words to me. So, I thought about Champions, and I remembered El Cid.”

“El Cid?”

“Film, mate, classic with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.”

“Oh, yeah. He rides out to battle after he’s dead, right?”

“That’s the one. See, El Cid is the Champion for the King of Spain, and he keeps getting shafted by King Alfonso, but he stays loyal and true, even when the King sends him into exile, and he’s such an honorable bloke that even the Moors trust him and join him to fight this Ben Yussuf geezer from Africa who wants to conquer everybody, and he captures this city and everybody says ‘keep it and make yourself King’, and he says ‘no, I’m Alfonso’s Champion so this is Alfonso’s city’, and Alfonso hears about it and says ‘El Cid is the real deal after all, I am not worthy of such a Champion’, and Ben Yussuf’s army turns up, and Alfonso rides to help out, only El Cid gets shot …”

“And they tie him to his horse and he leads them out dead and they win. I know, Spike, no need to recite the movie to me.”

“Bloody brilliant, though, innit? ‘For God, the Cid, and Spain’. ‘Course, the real bloke probably wasn’t as perfect as all that, but I went by the film version. Whenever I didn’t know what to do, I thought ‘What would El Cid do?’ Or Zorro, maybe, the Tyrone Power version, dunno what the new one’ll be like. Or John Wayne in ‘Eldorado’ or whatever. Or Audie Murphy, ‘cos he was a hero for real as well as in the films.”

“You kept on track as a Champion by thinking what guys in old movies would do?” Angel shook his head again and his eyebrows climbed almost to his hairline. “I can hardly believe it.”

“Worked, didn’t it?”

“I guess it did. Drusilla said you were the bravest knight in all the land. I never realized that she meant in Twelfth Century Spain.” The corner of Angel’s mouth quirked up and a smile spread across his face. He almost seemed to be proud of Spike for a while, but it didn’t last. His eyebrows gradually descended and his smile faded away. “How long can you keep it up, Spike?”

“Don’t see any reason to stop,” Spike said. “Thing is, I’m enjoying it. Bloody brilliant, mate. Good brawls, fists and fangs and what have you, and it’s better than going after humans. More even, y’know. More fun.”

“It’s not meant to be fun.”

“Don’t care if it’s meant to be or not, it’s still fun. And, funny thing, I’ve got mates now. Rupert and Jenny, and the Slayer’s little pals, we get on okay. They respect me, y’know? ‘S a good feeling, getting some respect. Never really got it from you.”

Angel sighed. “Well, you’ve got it now. Happy?”

“Ecstatic, mate,” Spike smirked.

“What happens if things go wrong?” Angel probed. “If you end up fighting something that’s just too tough, numbers that just keep coming? Will you give up and go back to being evil?”

“No sodding way. Even leaving the wheelchair bit out of it, ‘cos I dunno if you’re right or wrong about that, it’d spoil the point of the whole thing, wouldn’t it? Anyway, there’s death, there’s glory, and sod all else. Always knew I’d go down fighting. Might as well be in a good cause, right? And maybe they’ll stick my ashes on a horse, or on the front of the DeSoto, and we’ll win after all.”

“For God, Spike, and California?”

“England, please, mate. But, well, yeah.”

“Well, I’ll wish you luck.”

“Ta, mate.” Spike grinned widely and stubbed out his cigarette. “Angel,” he said, turning serious, “what’s happening between you and Dru?”

“It’s complicated.” Angel shuffled in his chair. “She needs me right now.”

“You still shagging her?”

“She’s not going to give me perfect happiness, Spike. I’m not going to give her perfect happiness either. There’s too much pain, too much guilt.”

“So you are still shagging her, then.”

“Do you have to put it like that?”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

“Okay, Spike, have it your own way. Yes, I’m sleeping with Drusilla. She can’t bear to sleep alone. And, yes, we’re having sex. And she doesn’t want you back. She’s half scared of you, half full of guilt for turning you in the first place.”

“Fair enough,” Spike said. “Don’t want her back anyway. The thing with the Holy Water put me right off her.”

“She tortured me with Holy Water too,” Angel reminded him.

“That was just her having fun. Wouldn’t have minded that so much. No, what pissed me off was that she was doing it to me for your sake. ‘Cos I wouldn’t do what you wanted. She was always sodding well putting you first. I was just a substitute. I worshipped the bloody ground she walked on – and it was bloody ground a lot of the time, I can tell you – for a hundred years, and the minute you turn up she’s right off me and all over you. Bloody fed up of it. You can have her and welcome.”

Angel glared at Spike suspiciously. “You’re not thinking of going after Buffy, are you?”

“And what if I am? Seems to me you’ve given up all claim on her. Can’t have Dru and Buffy too, can you?” Spike held up a conciliatory hand as Angel’s expression turned angry. “Look, mate, I know Buffy’s too good for me. She’s still stuck on you, anyway, don’t know as I stand a chance with her, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t try. Don’t get all dog in the manger about it. Just want to go out with her, for the time being anyway, she’s too bloody young for anything more. Wouldn’t want to get serious ‘til she finishes school.”

“You’re right, you don’t stand a chance with her,” Angel scoffed. “If you want to make a fool of yourself, William, you’ve got my permission to try.”

“Ta, mate,” Spike grinned. He took out a cigarette, lit up, and puffed a cloud of smoke in Angel’s direction. “Her mum likes me.”


“Her mum likes me. Told me to call her ‘Joyce’, says I’m welcome to drop in any time, she’s keeping some blood in the fridge for me. I’m having dinner with them tomorrow night.”

“Her mother knows that you’re a vampire and she still likes you?” Angel wrinkled his nose at the smoke. “Maybe you do have a chance with Buffy after all.”

- - - - -

“We’re moving to Los Angeles,” Angel said. “I’m not needed here.”

“Hey, I wouldn’t say that,” Buffy objected. “This is the Hellmouth. We can always use help.”

“Maybe, but I think I’m needed elsewhere. In LA I can be a Champion again. Here, I’m just –”

“A spare prick at a wedding?” Spike suggested, trying to look innocent, but failing to suppress his smirk. Buffy managed to hold back a giggle, jabbed him with an elbow and faked a reproving glare, but then she cracked and the giggle slipped out.

“I was going to say a fifth wheel, but Spike’s crude analogy is another way of putting it,” Angel said. “Anyway, Dru’s had a vision about it. Hollywood and Vine, Sunset Boulevard, the whole works. It seems the City of Angels needs me.”

“Well, it’s appropriate,” Spike conceded.

“And LA has plenty of demons,” Buffy agreed. “Not quite as many as it had before I went to visit Dad during summer vacation, but hey, probably plenty of them left.”

“The doggie, the sheep, and the deer, those are the things we must fear,” Drusilla chanted cryptically. “My Angel will bring hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless.”

“Ruth to the ruthless?”

“Bad Spike, always teasing,” Drusilla scolded. She bent forwards unexpectedly and kissed his cheek. “But still the bravest knight in all the land. Look after the Slayer, Spike. Beware the Mayor. Watch out for the nasty soldiers hiding under the ground like moles. Protect the shiny key.”

“I would, yeah, if I could understand a bloody word you were saying, luv. Any chance of making it a bit clearer?”

Drusilla smiled enigmatically. “Goodbye, Spike.”

Spike and Angel shook hands. Buffy and Drusilla exchanged a token hug; they had come to tolerate each other, but no more, and there was no warmth in their embrace. Then Buffy and Angel hugged, Buffy almost as stiff and withdrawn as she had been with Drusilla, and there was no kiss. They said their final goodbyes and the pair of souled vampires walked off into the darkness.

Buffy’s gaze stayed on them until they had disappeared from sight. She heaved a deep sigh once they were gone and turned to Spike. “I guess that’s it, then. You’ll never get back with Drusilla, and I’ll never get back with Angel.”

Spike reached out and slowly put his arm around her shoulder, ready to take it away if she showed any sign of objecting, and hugged her. “Know it must be hard for you, pet.”

Buffy relaxed into his embrace. “Funny, it doesn’t hurt as much as I’d expected. Are you okay about Drusilla going?”

“I gave up on Dru a fair while back, luv. Been through all the hurt and out the other side. Doesn’t bother me any more.”

“I’m glad for you.” Buffy leaned her head against Spike’s shoulder. “You know, when I was in that demon slave camp in LA, it wasn’t Angel I thought about, that I wanted to be there helping me out, it was you. I still love Angel, I guess, but I’ve kinda gotten used to having you around.”

“You know I’ve always got your back, Slayer,” Spike assured her, casting a last jealous glare in the direction in which Angel had disappeared. He was still second to Angel, still in his shadow. Sometimes it seemed as if nothing had changed.

“Yeah. It’s kinda nice.” She looked up into his face. “Willow and Oz and Xander and Cordelia will be hitting the Bronze tonight. I thought maybe I might head there too. Coming with?”

“Yeah, why not?” Spike shifted the position of his arm so that they could walk together. “This a date, Slayer?” It was a question he had asked before, always jokingly, and always receiving a ‘No’ in reply.

Buffy bit her lip. “Uh, yeah. If you want it to be.”

Spike stopped dead in his tracks and looked directly at her face. “’Course I want it to be, pet. You sure?”

“I’m sure.” A gleam of amusement sparkled in her eyes. “Mom is so going to say ‘I told you so’.”

“She’s not the only one, Champion. Looks like your swap went all the way. Good luck in the future.”

“What the?” Spike jerked around and saw a familiar figure across the street. A short man in a disheveled suit, an appallingly tasteless shirt, and a black hat jammed firmly down on his head. “Whistler!”

“The guy who offered you the deal?” Buffy whirled around and saw the figure. “He doesn’t look like much.”

“Hey, I resemble that,” Whistler grinned. A bus rumbled along the street towards them. “Look after the Hellmouth, you crazy kids.” The bus passed between them and hid Whistler from their view.

Buffy and Spike caught a brief glimpse of Angel and Drusilla at the windows of the bus, and saw Drusilla hold up her favorite doll and wave its arm to them, and then the bus was past.

Spike stepped out into the road. “Hey, Whistler, mate, was Angelus right …?” His voice trailed away with the question uncompleted.

Whistler had vanished.

The End

The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.

Lyrics quoted by characters in this chapter are from ‘A Woman’s Work’ by Kate Bush, from the album ‘The Sensual World’ and the film ‘She’s Having A Baby’.

Tags: birthday wishes, birthdays, fic, hounds of love
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