This is the long-promised sequel to The Lonely Goatherd. The first section has been posted as a teaser before, way back on September 7th, under the title of ‘Fading Away’. The title ‘How Do They Rise Up’ is taken from ‘Night Watch’ by Terry Pratchett, and the absence of a question mark is not a typo.
This is not a comedy, and it’s not high on plot. Just a vignette. 3,175 words. Rating R. Warning; character deaths.
How Do They Rise Up
“Half-breed – Spike – would you lie to me now, as I did for Wesley?” Illyria’s left leg had been ripped off just below the hip and blood was spurting from it in gouts of indigo. The light in her crystalline eyes was fading.
“Don’t need to lie, Blue,” Spike assured her. He supported her with an arm behind her shoulders. “We’ve bloody well won, right? Not one of the buggers left. You’ll go back to the Deeper Well, hang around there for another few centuries, then come out again and this time you’ll get your kingdom back all right and proper.”
Illyria smiled. “You shall be with me there,” she gasped. “I shall set Wesley at my right hand, you and Charles at my left. Under me you will rule. I guess I’ve done… enough…” Her head lolled back and she stared up at the stars with glassy unseeing eyes. The blood flow from her leg ceased.
“Bugger, bugger, bugger,” Spike muttered. He lowered Illyria’s body to the ground, stood up, and dashed the tears from his eyes angrily. The Big Bad didn’t cry. Not over Angel, whose dust was being washed away by the hard rain. Not over Wesley, who hadn’t even made it to the battle. Not over Charlie, who had bled to death ten minutes into the fight. Not over Fred, destroyed by Illyria’s essence weeks earlier. And certainly not over Illyria.
Yeah. The tears had to be just his imagination, right?
He put his hand to the protruding section of the stake that was lodged deep in his abdomen, clenched his teeth, and drew it out.
The pain was incandescent. Spike swayed, his vision blurred, and a wave of weakness swept over him. For a moment he fought against impending unconsciousness but then his resolve slackened. Why not give in to it? What was the point of fighting any more? What was the fucking point of anything? He sank into welcoming blackness and slumped to the ground, collapsed into the puddle of Illyria’s blood, and lay still.
“Must have been hours later that I came round,” Spike said. “Wound was healed up but I felt a bit weak. Didn’t twig that I was human at first. Could see the sky getting light. First thought was to get under cover. Ducked into that old hotel of Angel’s, found a bathroom to get the blood and muck washed off, and saw myself in the mirror. Gave me a right bloody turn, I can tell you.” He lifted his glass of Laphroaig and knocked it back in one gulp.
“That’s no way to treat a fifteen year old single malt,” Giles chided him. “It should be savoured. Respected.” He glanced out of the window of the limousine and then turned his gaze back on Spike.
“Tastes like bloody disinfectant,” Spike said. “Just drinking it ‘cos it’s booze.” He set the glass down and raised his hand to the sprig of lilac at his lapel, toyed with it for a moment, and then lowered it to where Vi’s hand waited. Their fingers entwined.
“Philistine.” Giles sipped from his own glass. “There is a certain iodine undertone, true, but that is part of the charm.” He sighed. “If only I had understood at the time. Willow once accused me of not seeing anything. She was more right than she knew. I was blinded by prejudices, and not for the first time. There are so many things that I regret.”
“’S all water under the bridge,” Spike said. “Dust on the wind.” Vi squeezed his hand and laid her head against his shoulder. Spike returned the squeeze.
“If you are still bitter I can’t blame you,” Giles said. “I would do things so differently if I had to make the same decisions again.”
“Wouldn’t we all, with hindsight?” Spike glanced out the window. “Not that I regret where I’ve ended up. Happier with Vi than I’ve ever been in my life or my unlife. Wouldn’t change that. But I miss the gang. Bloody good times they were, before Fred died and everything got fucked up. Not blaming you,” he said, pre-empting a reply from Giles. “Dunno if there was anything Willow could have done anyway. But Angel never forgave you. That was when he started giving up hope.”
“We’re on Wilshire Boulevard,” Vi announced. “We must be nearly there.”
“Yeah, one more block, is all,” Spike agreed. “Wouldn’t say no to another shot of that disinfectant before we get there, Rupert.”
Giles rolled his eyes upwards. “Philistine,” he said again, but poured out a refill of Spike’s glass. He gestured to Vi.
“Okay, put a little in my Coke,” she said.
Giles repeated his eye roll and acquiesced. He screwed the cap tightly home on the whisky bottle and raised his glass. “Truth. Justice. Freedom. Reasonably priced love,” he proposed.
Spike and Vi raised their glasses in reply. “And a hard-boiled egg.”
It was a cool night but fine and clear. Very different from two years before. Spike shivered as he stepped out into the alley. Vi hooked her arm around his and pressed herself against him as they walked.
They were not the first to arrive. Kennedy stood leaning against a chain link fence, her hands clasped around a stake, watching Willow pace slowly along the alley. Willow had a sprig of lilac pinned to her top and a forked hazel twig in her hands. She didn’t look up as Giles, Spike, and Vi approached.
“It was here, right?” Willow said eventually. “This is where he went down.” She lifted her eyes and looked at Spike. Tears glistened on her cheeks.
“Dunno, Red,” Spike admitted. “Was a bit busy. Felt it rather than saw it.”
“Yeah. I get that.” Willow pointed with her hazel twig. “Gunn died over there where Kennedy’s standing.”
“Pretty much,” Spike confirmed. “Blue Thunder died ‘bout fifty feet that way. Sat with her while she bled to death. Not a sodding thing I could do to help.”
“I should have been here,” Willow said.
“My fault,” Giles said. He shook his head slowly. “I’m so sorry.”
“You’re not wearing the lilac,” Vi said to Kennedy.
“I don’t think I have the right,” Kennedy replied. “I never knew them. I’m just here to be with Willow.”
“You fought alongside Spike,” Vi said. “And you would have been here with Willow if we’d known, yeah? I’d say you have the right. Although, it would be Spike’s call.”
“Wear it if you want, Ken. ‘S okay by me.” Spike quirked an eyebrow upwards. “What’s with the stake?”
“There’s a vamp around,” Kennedy said. “I can feel it. Just hanging back out of sight.”
“Yeah,” Vi confirmed. “I can sense something. Getting closer.”
“It’s only me,” a female voice called. “Tell them not to stake me, Spikey.”
“Oh, bloody hell, it’s Harm,” Spike moaned. He raised his voice. “What do you want, Harmony?”
“The same as you guys, I guess,” Harmony replied. “It’s two years tonight, isn’t it? I’m just paying my respects. Can I come out without being staked?”
“She’s got the right,” Spike said. “Okay with you, Rupert, Ken, Red?”
“It’s your decision, Spike,” Giles said.
“I’m good with that,” Willow said. Kennedy nodded.
“Yeah, come on down, Harm,” Spike called. “Nobody will stake you.”
High heels clicked on the sidewalk. Harmony Kendall appeared at the entrance to the alley and approached. She was dressed entirely in black. “Hi, Spike,” she said. “Hi, Willow.”
“Hey, Harmony,” Willow said. “It’s been a long time, huh?”
“Too long,” Harmony said. “You should have come for Fred. Maybe you could have saved her.” She cast a venomous glare at Giles. “If a certain guy had called you.”
“I’d have come if I’d known,” Willow said. “I liked Fred a whole lot. I’d have given anything to have been able to save her.”
Giles looked down at his shoes. “I am so terribly sorry. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I regret, but turning down Angel’s request for help is certainly one of those that I regret most.”
“So it should be,” Harmony said. Her glare softened. “But hey, as long as you’re sorry, that’s something. I screwed up too. I wish I’d never said anything to Hamilton about what the boss was planning. I think he kinda meant me to, and he wasn’t mad at me, but I’d never have done it if I’d known he’d go and get all killed. And Charles. And Wesley. I miss Wesley so much, you know? He was the first person who ever had confidence in me. Only he went all strange when Fred died and he stopped caring about me. And I miss Fred.” Harmony’s face twisted and suddenly she was sobbing.
Willow stepped forward and folded Harmony in her arms. Harmony clung to her and wept. Willow felt her skin crawl for a moment; the last time she had been in this position with Harmony there had been fangs and bitey-ness and badness. She fought back the feeling and instead turned a cold stare upon Giles.
“Yes, well, as if I didn’t feel bad enough already,” Giles muttered.
“Think we’ve all got a lot of regrets,” Spike said. He glanced around. “How many are still to come?”
“Faith and Robin should be here soon,” Kennedy told him. “Rona and Shannon are coming with them. Caridad’s coming with a guy called Connor and some chicks called Anne and Nina.”
“Angel’s girlfriend,” Harmony said, raising her head from Willow’s bosom. Her tears had stopped. “It’ll be nice to see her again. I really liked Nina a whole lot.”
Spike tipped his head to one side. “No Xander?”
“Xander always hated Angel,” Willow said. “I’m sorry. I thought I could get him to see past that just for tonight.”
“His decision. No point in dragging him here if he doesn’t want it,” Spike said. “What about… her?”
Vi went rigid. Her grip on his arm was suddenly so tight that it was acutely painful. Spike managed to hold back a grunt of agony. “Would have thought Buffy would have come to a service for her bloody soul mate,” he said, forcing himself to control his voice. “Know she’s hung up on this ‘normal life’ thing but there are sodding limits.” Vi’s grip slackened, much to Spike’s relief.
“I called her up,” Willow said. “She didn’t seem all that interested. Just said ‘thanks for telling me’. I tried, but hey, it’s like trying to, I don’t know, whip up water. It just goes straight back to being all watery again.”
“We don’t need her,” Harmony said. “I saw the boss and Spikey when they came back from Rome. They were all down and mope-y. Weren’t you, Spike?”
“Leave it out, Harm,” Spike said, bracing himself for possible painful insecurity-induced assaults upon his arm from the Slayer he loved. “But you’re right. We don’t need her.”
“Hey, quiet a minute, guys,” Kennedy called. “I’m still getting those vampire vibes.”
“Well, hello, still standing right here,” Harmony said.
“It’s not you,” Kennedy told her. “Another vamp. And I don’t think it was you that I picked up on anyway. The direction was wrong.”
“Oh, that’s all we bloody need,” Spike grumbled. He would have said more but he was interrupted by the arrival of two cars. They turned the corner into the alley and drew up behind the limousine. “Looks like the gang’s all here,” Spike commented, putting aside the matter of the second vampire for the moment.
Faith was first to emerge. She wore the lilac. Robin Wood climbed out of the driver’s door as Shannon and Rona got out of the back. Another, unexpected, figure emerged from the other rear door.
“Xander!” Willow exclaimed. “I thought you weren’t coming.”
“Hey, Will,” Xander greeted her. “Yeah, I know. I wouldn’t have come for Angel. I hardly knew Wesley and I never met that Gunn dude or Fred. But, hey, Cordelia. I had to come.”
“Thank you, Xander,” Harmony said. “It means a lot.”
“Harmony?” Xander stared. His eyebrows shot up. “What are you doing here?”
“Cordelia was my best friend at High School,” Harmony reminded him. “Fred was my bestest friend ever. And Angel was my boss. If you’re having, like, a memorial service, I totally have to be here.”
Faith frowned. “Uh, guys, you do realise that this chick is a vampire, right?”
“I’m a good vampire,” Harmony said. “I’m off human blood.”
“Still?” Spike asked, surprised.
“Well, yeah,” Harmony told him. “I was no good as a vampire, you know that. I’d gotten all used to the substitutes at Wolfram and Hart, and hey, after I left it was easier just to stick to it. I found this great recipe for goat blood with a little dash of groundhog. You just have to try it.” Harmony’s enthusiastic smile faded away as she realised that everybody was staring at her. “What?”
“I get that the lilac flowers are to remember Angel and the guys,” Harmony said. “I just don’t get what it has to do with this book you keep talking about.”
“Don’t worry about it, Harm,” Spike said. “It’s a British thing. Just leave it at that.”
“But Willow and Faith are wearing it, and your girlfriend, and Nina,” Harmony said, “and they’re not British.”
“We’ve read the book, Harmony. ‘Night Watch’ by Terry Pratchett,” Nina said. “There are parallels. They were there, and we wear the lilac to remember them. That’s all.”
“I sat up all night reading it,” Faith said. “Wicked cool. I’d never thought anything could be so funny and so sad all at the same time.”
“Well, I totally should wear lilac as well,” Harmony insisted.
“And me,” Xander chimed in.
“Hey, I have some spares,” Willow announced. “Just in case, you know?”
“In case Buffy turned up,” Xander deduced.
“Uh, yeah,” Willow admitted. “I wanted to be ready.”
“Got one for me too?” The voice came from a patch of shadows fifty feet further down the alley. A figure stepped into the light.
Spike’s breath caught in his throat. “Charlie,” he croaked out. “Oh, God, no. Charlie.”
“Charles!” Harmony squealed, and clapped her hands together. “I totally thought that you were dead!”
“He is, Harm,” Spike said heavily. “Oh, bugger. I fucked up.”
“You were fighting three Grapplar demons, Angel was killing the dragon, Illyria was taking down the giant,” Gunn said. “That’s when they got me. I was down, mostly dead. Vamp drank from my wounds, forced blood down my throat. Don’t blame you for not spotting it. There weren’t any bite marks to give it away.”
“I’m sorry,” Spike said. “So sorry.”
“A truce for tonight is perfectly acceptable to me,” Giles offered. “Join us to pay your respects.”
“I’ll do that. Rupert Giles, right? Yeah, I’ll join you. Only, when it’s done, I want one of you to kill me.”
“But why?” Harmony asked. “Being a vampire isn’t all that bad. Okay, the not going out in the sun kinda sucks, and the whole killing people gig is way overrated and I can so do without it, but it’s better than being all the way dead, right?”
“It’s really not.” Gunn squared his shoulders. “I never thought that I’d say this, but you’re stronger than me, Harmony. I can’t cut it with the animal blood and the non-violence. I try, but I’ve lost it a few times. A guy makes me mad – I eat him. I’ve become what I hate and I can’t take it. Just kill me already.” He gave a tight smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I kinda want to go down fighting. I figured Faith would be the best for that.”
“Oh, man, Gunn, you can’t mean that.” Faith shook her head. “I can’t. I just can’t.”
“It’s what I want.” Gunn grimaced. “If Buffy Summers was here I could ask her. That’d be kinda appropriate too.”
“Somebody say my name?” Buffy appeared at the entrance to the alley. “Hello, Spike.”
“Hello, Buffy.” Spike winced. “Vi, love, you’re hurting my arm.”
“Sorry,” Vi muttered. She released her hold and bit her lip.
“Buffy, hey,” Willow greeted. “You made it. I have a sprig of lilac for you to wear, and you’re not to stake Harmony, and did you come in a cab?”
Buffy’s eyes were fixed on Spike. “You never called. You never came.”
Andrew appeared behind her and waved. “Hi, everybody. I brought her.”
“I called. I came. You were with the Immortal. You’d moved on.” Spike took Vi’s hand. “So I moved on too.”
“I thought you were dead,” Buffy said. “Was I supposed to just mourn you forever?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Spike told her. “Maybe I was wrong to give up so soon, maybe I was right. Too late now. I’m in love with Vi. And tonight isn’t about me. It’s about Angel. And the rest of the team who died that night.”
“And Cordy and Fred, even though they died a while before that,” Harmony added. “And there was this guy called Doyle. Cordy told me about him.”
“As we are all here now,” Giles began, hoping to defuse the tension that had sprung up, “perhaps we could-”
Footsteps approached along the alley. A voice was raised in song. Giles chopped his words off abruptly as he recognised the voice.
“I sit and wait
does an Angel contemplate my fate
and do they know
the places where we go
when we´re grey and old?
´cos I´ve been told
that salvation lets their wings unfold
so when I’m lying in my bed
thoughts running through my head
and I feel that love is dead
I’m loving Angel instead.”
Drusilla wore a black bodice with a sprig of lilac pinned to it. A black hat with a veil was perched on her head and a tight black pencil skirt clung to her hips. She stopped precisely on the spot that Willow had divined to be where Angel had died. “My Spike,” she said. “Not mine any more. Got a spark, got a pulse, he’s got a girl who is faster than the wind and stronger than a lion. No more room for me in his heart. No Angelus in the world any more. I don’t want to play this game.” She raised a hand to display a stake. “It’s time for me to say goodbye.”
“Dru,” Spike groaned. “Don’t.”
“Yes, do,” Buffy urged.
“When you’ve said the words, remembered them.” Drusilla swayed from side to side. “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom’s a junky.”
“Yes, quite, Drusilla.” Giles glared at her and she fell silent. Giles opened the book. “They’d stayed not because they wanted to be heroes,” he read, “but because they chose to think of it as their job. They did the job they didn’t have to do, and they died doing it. Angel. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Charles Gunn. Cordelia Chase. Winifred Burkle. Illyria the God-King. Allen Francis Doyle. They were there. We wear the lilac to remember them.”
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. ANGEL ©2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The ANGEL trademark is used without express permission from Fox. Lyrics from ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams and Jens Raaby, and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ by David Bowie, are used without permission and with no intent to profit. Giles’ final speech is adapted from ‘Night Watch’ by Terry Pratchett, © Terry and Lynn Pratchett 2002.