Here’s another update of my Spike/Willow fic 'Angel of the Morning', AU after 'Dead Things'. Three in quick succession; I can’t promise to keep this pace up, but it’s getting close to the end and I want to finish it soon, and so I’ll try. This chapter is somewhat low on action; Willow is in the hospital and it is written in the first person, and so the lack of action is rather inevitable. I hope that you will all still find it interesting. 3,600 words.
Previous parts here:
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six / Part Seven / Part Eight
Part Nine / Part Ten / Part Eleven / Part Twelve / Part Thirteen
Angel of the Morning
It hadn’t registered on me just how badly I was hurt. I mean, in a Western or a cop show when a guy gets shot in the shoulder he just swaps over to using the gun with the other hand, you know? So not the way it really is, let me tell you.
I passed out before they got me out of the house. I came round as we got to the hospital, but then they sedated me, and it was hours before I was awake and coherent. They told me what they’d done to my shoulder, and that I wasn’t to try to do anything with my right arm; not that I had any intention of trying anyway.
I asked about Buffy and Dawn straight off, as soon as I could talk, but the people with me didn’t seem to know much. They were both alive, that was about all I could get. That put my mind pretty much at rest about Buffy, she was about the textbook example of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’, but I was still worried about Dawn. And Xander, ‘cause even though Hallie had said that he wasn’t badly hurt that didn’t make it so, and the lecture we’d had about head injuries when we saw Tara was still fresh in my mind.
They let me start having visitors round about six in the afternoon. Not that the first people to see me really classed as visitors; a couple of cops, asking for my account of what had happened. I stuck to what I’d seen and heard for myself, and so it didn’t take all that long, ‘cause it was all ‘she said’, ‘he said’, and maybe not a lot of use in court. They nodded a lot, and they made a few notes, and then they went away.
- - - - -
The first real visitor I got was Xander.
He didn’t look to be in pristine condition. There was a big bandage on the side of his head, and there was bruising spreading out beyond the edges, but he still managed one of his quirky smiles. “Hey, Will,” he greeted me. “Don’t bother to shake hands.”
“I wasn’t planning on it,” I smiled back. “I’m under pretty strict orders not to do anything with that arm for a while. Hey, I’m all held together with metal pins!”
“When are they letting you out, Will?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe two days? What about you?”
“I’ve been discharged. They’re not keeping me in, ‘cause I have Ahn to keep an eye on me tonight.” He swallowed hard and looked serious. “I would hang around here, only, there isn’t any way I’m going to get in to see Buffy or Dawn. They’re in a bad way, Will.”
“I know. Dawn wasn’t breathing, you know? I was so scared for her, and there wasn’t anything I could do ‘cause I was all weak and woozy and I could hardly move. If it hadn’t been for Spike she might have died there and then.”
“Spike?” Xander said, frowning. “What do you mean?”
“He dialed nine-one-one and then he did CPR on Dawn, got her breathing again,” I explained.
“No, no, you must have that wrong,” Xander said. “Vampires can’t do that.”
“Well, duh, he did,” I told him. “He followed instructions over the phone.”
“He couldn’t have,” Xander insisted again. “Vampires have no breath. Hey, how come Spike was here at the hospital, coming right in through the main entrance in broad daylight?”
“What do you mean no breath? Hello, he talks, he smokes, and I saw him doing Rescue Breathing with my own eyes.”
“Angel couldn’t do it with Buffy,” Xander said, still frowning. “Spike hasn’t turned human, has he?”
“Angel probably still believes in phlogiston,” I said, and then, remembering that Xander hadn’t exactly shone in chem class, added “I don’t think Angel understands human breathing.” I went on to explain what had happened. “Of course Spike hasn’t turned human. I did a spell. Well, not a spell, I made a wish to Hallie.”
“Huh? But she’s a Vengeance Demon. There’s gotta be a catch, Will.”
“I know, there’s more to it than that, and it’s gonna cause problems for Spike, but hey, had to be done. I got Hallie to take the chip out too,” I explained. “I sent him after Warren. The chip had to come out ‘cause of Warren being human, and he’d have been stuck inside all day with the sunlight thing so Warren would get too big a start.”
“You got Spike’s chip taken out?” Xander’s mouth dropped open and hung loosely.
“Well, yeah, there wouldn’t be much he could do against Warren with it in. Oh, I wanted to get Hallie to put the chip in Warren’s head instead, that would have been just perfect, but she flat out refused to do vengeance on anyone who wasn’t friends or family, so I had to think again, and hey, the first person who came to mind was your dad. So, he has a chip in his head now. Maybe not the best idea, I could have just gotten her to destroy it or send it to Greenland or whatever, but hey, I think he deserves it.”
“You got Spike’s chip taken out?” Xander repeated, completely ignoring what I’d said about having the chip put into his father. “My God, Willow, what have you done?”
“Set Spike free to rip Warren’s throat out,” I said. “Okay, so Warren’s human? Well, see me not caring. He’s killed once already, and he came pretty close to adding a few more this morning, as in, us. Hey, an inch or two to the right and you’d be dead.”
“I don’t care if Spike kills Warren,” Xander snapped, “but you’ve put all our lives in danger. Buffy’s out of action for God knows how long. There’s nothing to hold Spike back.”
“So he’ll have to hold himself back. It’s not gonna be easy for him, but, hey, that’s why Hallie went with it as a vengeance wish. Don’t give him too much grief over it, please, Xan, it’s gonna be tough enough anyway without you making it worse.”
“Don’t give him too much grief over it? You’ve let loose the second most dangerous vampire on the planet and you’re asking me not to give him too much grief? Are you nuts? He’ll kill us all and without Buffy we can’t defend ourselves.”
“Of course he won’t kill us,” I said, trying to keep my voice down. “He loves me, he loves Dawn, he loves Buffy, he’s really fond of Tara, he likes Anya, and hey, he said you were okay apart from getting on his ‘wick’ sometimes. Okay, he doesn’t care about people he doesn’t know, but he cares about what we think. He won’t kill anybody, apart from Warren.”
“He’ll turn you,” Xander warned me. “Even if he does love you, which same I don’t believe, he’s going to make you his undead eternal love slave.”
“He loves me, dumbass. He’s never met Vampire Willow. Like he’s going to get rid of me for someone he doesn’t even know,” I scoffed. “I’ve gotten rid of the chip, and, yeah, in an ideal world I’d have talked it over with you guys first, but there wasn’t time. Deal with it. I’m not letting Warren get away with it, and I don’t trust the cops to handle him. The good, brave, cops in Sunnydale die young, Xander, remember, the ones who live are the ones who back down from trouble. He has a gun, he probably has all sorts of gadgets, and if we leave it up to the cops Warren’s gonna end up living in Brazil or somewhere under the name of Sanders. Or he’s gonna try again to get rid of all the witnesses. You thought about that, Xander? He probably thinks you and Buffy are dead, but when he finds out you’re not he’ll want to finish the job. Spike’s our best hope.”
“You’ve done it again, Will, another one of your half-assed magical fixes,” Xander said almost in a snarl. “God, didn’t you learn your lesson the last time?”
“Buffy was probably dying right then. I couldn’t move, Spike couldn’t go in the sunlight, the ambulances might have been too late,” I told him. “The only help I could call that could get there straight away was Hallie, and I had to pay for her help with a vengeance wish. Like I was supposed to watch Spike save Dawn’s life and then curse him with warts or something? No way. It’s done, Xan. Spike isn’t gonna hurt you, he isn’t going to hurt any of us, and I trust him not to go round snacking on anyone else.”
“I don’t,” Xander said coldly. “Spike has to be stopped right away, and there’s only one person who can do it. I’m calling Angel.”
“Angel?” I echoed. That had caught me totally by surprise. “But – but you don’t even get along with Angel. And he hates Spike.”
“Exactly,” Xander said with a grim smile. “He’ll come right away, and he can stop Spike before it’s too late.”
- - - - -
Xander’s visit turned into a shouting match, and that brought an intern rushing in to shut us up and order Xander out. We both got spoken to pretty severely, and I was threatened with not being allowed any more visitors, and so I had to play nice ‘cause I was hoping to see Tara, or maybe Spike if he wasn’t too caught up with chasing Warren. Xander was reminded that he’d had a head injury, and what part of ‘keep quiet and no exertion’ hadn’t he understood? He shut up and went quietly under threat of being re-admitted and kept in overnight for observation, like they’d done with Tara.
I’d meant to ask Xander if he or Anya had called Giles, but I hadn't gotten the chance before everything had gone wrong. I didn’t have the number to call him myself. Oh well, they were bound to have called him. Then I thought I’d better call my parents. Only, they’d already found out, and they were my next visitors after Xander.
Mom told me off, of course. Blamed ‘Bunny’s foolish Nancy Drew activities’, said I was an idiot for getting caught up in them, and it would have all just made me shrivel up if it wasn’t that there were tears in her eyes all the time that she was scolding me.
Dad wanted to know just who ‘William Shackleton’ was, and that caught me all off balance ‘cause I hadn’t expected them to have heard about him. Well, they had to find out sooner or later.
“He’s my boyfriend, Dad,” I told him. Well, that was a bombshell for Dad, and he was all ‘but what about Tara?’
Mom, on the other hand, just nodded like she’d had a suspicion confirmed. I was a bit pissed about that, but, then again, maybe she was right. In fact, come to think of it, maybe Tara had been my rebound girl, rebound guy I guess you could say, from Oz. The bestest rebound ‘guy’ there ever was, and I’d always love her, but if there hadn’t been something wrong with the relationship could I have treated her so horribly? I wasn’t a bad person. At least I hoped I wasn’t a bad person. Or was it that I was a little bad, and Tara wasn’t bad at all, and so sometimes she hadn’t been able to see where I was coming from, and so she would just scold instead of explaining things? Or just that with us both being girls there were times when we both wanted to be in the same space and we didn’t fit? Whatever. Back on topic.
Somehow me having a boyfriend was a bigger deal than me having been shot. Well, I could see their point, ‘cause I was gonna get better, and a boyfriend was a long-term thing, but I kinda thought that they could have dealt with that later and worried more about the bullet hole in my shoulder first off. Nope. Was he Jewish? – hello, Shackleton not all that Jewish a name, might be a clue there people – what did he do for a living? when did we meet? and all that kind of thing.
So, while I was thinking ‘maybe if I called Angel and got my side in right now I might stop anything bad happening’ I was having to answer a whole lot of questions from my parents. I told them that William was a non-practicing Christian, ‘cause that seemed to fit best, the whole Powers of Darkness thing didn’t seem to fit with him crying out to God and Christ when Dawn and I were lying on the floor bleeding. I said that he was a martial arts teacher, ‘cause I was still hoping that was gonna work out.
When it came to when we met, well, I couldn’t exactly tell the full story, and so I just said that we’d met about four years ago when he used to practice martial arts with Buffy – ‘cause I guess kicking each other’s asses counted as practicing – and that he’d started dating Buffy last year, and then he’d broken up with her at the same time as Tara had broken up with me, and we’d helped each other get over it and things had sorta built up from there.
Well, that was all fine, and pretty close to the truth too, only of course then they wanted to know why he wasn’t sitting at my bedside or pacing around outside. Fair question, ‘cause that’s exactly what I’d expect from Spike if the guy who shot me wasn’t walking around free. “He’s looking for Warren Mears,” I explained. “It was the last thing I said to Sp – William before I passed out. ‘Go get him’.”
Cue stream of criticism from Mom, ranging from it being dangerous and foolhardy to the dubious morality and legality of vigilante action. To my surprise, however, that wasn’t Dad’s attitude.
“Sheila,” he said, “what you say is very sensible, I know, but when are young men ever sensible when their girls are harmed? I can understand what he is doing, for I would have wanted to do the same if someone had hurt you when we were that age. I think I might like this William Shackleton. Also, Sheila, you notice that our girl is not worried about him? I think he is perhaps a very tough young man. Of course there is danger for anyone when guns are involved, but he has faced such danger before, I think, Willow?”
Guns weren’t a big problem for Spike anyway, they could hurt him but not kill him, and although Warren was bound to have something else up his sleeve that could be used against a vampire I still couldn’t seen him posing a real threat. Unlike Angel. “He has,” I confirmed. “He’ll be okay, I’m sure of it.” Hey, was this actual approval from my father? Okay, it would probably vanish once he actually met Spike, but it was nice while it lasted.
“It should be left to the police,” Mom insisted.
“And the Sunnydale police are so good all of a sudden? What was that organization you founded because they were not doing their job right? With the so stupid name?”
“MOO,” I put in. Mom’s own little bit of vigilante action had come pretty close to getting me burned at the stake, and I often wondered how much she remembered about that.
“All right, all right,” Mom said. “I understand. But if this William uses violence against the gunman then he may face prosecution himself.”
“True,” Dad agreed. “Perhaps I should have a word with Aaron Swartzbach, just in case.”
“William couldn’t afford a high-priced lawyer,” I protested. Not that I really thought it would come to that, but if Spike was going to start living more in the human world some of the human rules were gonna start catching him out. “If it turns out there’s any need for lawyers to get involved, well, they’ll be court appointed.”
“The cost would not be an issue,” Dad assured me. “Anyway, it may well come to nothing. Time enough to talk of it if it becomes necessary. You look tired, Willow. You should rest. Perhaps we should go now and give you a chance to sleep.”
Mom was all in favor of that. Guess I’d used up my allocation of Mom time for this month, maybe for this year. They only stayed another couple of minutes and then they left, giving me the opportunity I needed to make that phone call to Angel.
Except that I really was feeling very tired, and dozy, and I fell asleep before I could ask for a phone book. By the time I got to make the call it was way too late.
- - - - -
Being stuck in the hospital while things were going on outside was major league frustrating. I kept waking up at funny times and worrying, and I felt kinda yucky with all the antibiotics that they were pumping into me, and all in all it was a pretty miserable night.
I got some good news at breakfast; Buffy was conscious, and in Recovery, and doing well. Not like I hadn’t expected it, but it was good to get confirmation. Dawn, well, they wouldn’t commit themselves yet, but I kinda got the impression they maybe weren’t as worried as they had been.
There was a package for me with my breakfast, too; my bathroom things, and my pajamas, and some clothes. They’d been dropped off for me during the night, while I’d been asleep, so I guessed I’d missed out on a visit from Spike or Tara.
I had visitors in the morning anyway. Jenna and Joel called in before class. I was really glad to see them, ‘cause they were friends of mine and Spike’s and not of any of the other Scoobies, and that sorta made them special, and they were all big with the gladness about me and Spike being back together, and that made me feel pretty good. Especially as they’d seen Spike, and they had photos of Warren that he’d given them, and they were going to copy them and pass them around to everybody at campus so that there were like thousands of eyes watching out for him, and Spike had borrowed Joel’s cellphone and put the number on the pictures. Hey, that sounded like a pretty good plan! Go Spike! Only, it had been the day before that Spike had seen them, and so it wasn’t the most up to date info. Still, it was something.
Then, at last, Tara came.
She was wearing cargo pants and my leather jacket, and she was carrying my motorcycle helmet. She looked weary, and the bruises from where Warren had hit her had spread across half her face, and somehow when I saw her what came to mind was Sigourney Weaver in ‘Aliens’. “Hi, hon,” she greeted me. “Sorry I haven’t seen you sooner, but you were asleep when I came by last night.”
“That’s okay,” I said, and I held out my arm to her for a one-armed hug. “You look like you’ve been busy, sweetie. You were supposed to take things easy.”
“Someone had to help Spike,” she said. “You dropped a lot of responsibility on him there, hon.” She released me and sat down beside the bed, and then took hold of my hand.
“Well, yeah,” I said. “Okay, maybe it was rash and impulsive, but I don’t regret it. I trust him.”
She smiled, that huge wide smile of hers while she looked at me from under those sleepy eyelids, and gave my hand a little squeeze. “I trust him too, hon. He came to me right away and told me everything.” She yawned. “I’ve been with him pretty much the whole time since then, apart from a couple of cat-naps.”
“I’m guessing you haven’t found Warren,” I said.
“Not yet,” she replied, “but he’s not going to get away. He’s still in Sunnydale. I’ve spun a web around the whole town. He can’t cross it without setting off alarms. He sent a robot out as a decoy, would you believe? A robot of himself, on the LA bus. We chased after it, caught up with the bus, Spike went on board and dragged out ‘Warren’, only he was trembling and shaking but he wasn’t sweating, and Spike caught on to it being a bot.”
“Did you learn anything from it?”
“It thought it was Warren,” Tara said. “I think Warren hoped that it would get arrested and take the heat off him. I don’t think there was anything that it could have told us, even before Spike pulled its head off.”
“So Warren’s gone to ground in Sunnydale? He’s pretty good at that,” I said, wondering briefly if Spike had really known that it was a robot before he’d ripped the Warren-bot’s head off.
“He won’t get away with it for long,” Tara assured me. “Every demon in town is looking out for him. We’ve arranged for pictures to be passed out around campus, and so all the students will be watching for him too. He might get away with it for a while, because we think he’s using a glamour to hide his appearance, but it will wear off and he won’t be able to get it done again.”
“How come?” I asked.
“Because he got it from Rack,” Tara explained, “and we killed Rack last night.”
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.