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 / Part Fourteen / Part Fifteen / Part Sixteen
Angel of the Morning
My mental picture of our arrival at the Magic Box had been sorta dramatic, featuring us throwing the door open – that would have to be Spike, the whole throwing doors open thing was a bit beyond me at the moment – and the three of us sweeping in kinda majestically, all swishing leather coats and big boots, you know, like in The Matrix. Not that I had a leather coat, and although Tara was still wearing my leather jacket it wasn’t all swishing, but hey, this was the picture in my head not the reality.
The scene didn’t quite play out like that at all, ‘cause Tara and Spike both rushed to open the door for me, and they got in each other’s way for a moment, until Tara opened the door and the shop bell jingled. Then of course we couldn’t all sweep in at once, and so Tara walked in first and I followed while Spike held the door for me, and then Spike brought up the rear.
Angel wasn’t there anyway, there was just Anya and Xander and Giles and Lydia, and it was all pretty much of an anti-climax. I started to get an attack of the giggles, and then I had a thought about the word ‘anti-climax’, and an alternative meaning that it could have, and then I got this vivid mental picture of that meaning based on something that Spike and I had done only in reverse, and, hey, it was a little gross but funny, and the giggles kinda went into overdrive.
Of course everybody stared at me. Giles gave me one of his ‘Dear Lord’ looks, but with the corners of his mouth turned up a bit, like he thought I was kinda whacky but was fond of me anyway, which I guess is pretty much true. Lydia just looked puzzled. Anya frowned, like she thought maybe I was laughing at her. Xander was really wide-eyed and maybe worried, only that might have been on account of Spike being there. Tara just smiled.
Spike quirked an eyebrow at me and said “Care to share the joke, love?”
“Uh, well, not in front of everybody,” I said, and the tips of my ears felt hot all of a sudden.
“Oh, one of those jokes, is it, pet?”
“Uh, yeah,” I admitted. “I’ll tell you later, in private, ‘kay?”
“I’ll hold you to that, love,” Spike said, and he gave me the full head on one side and tongue running over the teeth treatment, and I so wanted not to have my arm all strapped up so that I couldn’t use it, and not to have the yeast infection, and especially not to have the audience, ‘cause the thing that I’d pictured in reverse was something that we could still do even with the other difficulties.
“Oh! Oh! Tell me too,” Anya called, and, hey, not like Anya was going to be embarrassed or go ‘eww, gross’ or anything.
“Okay, later,” I agreed, “but just you. And can we drop the subject now, please?” I went over to the research table, and Spike pulled a seat out for me, and I sat down. “So, where’s Angel?”
“I believe he is visiting Buffy,” Giles said.
“Figures,” I replied. Spike was looking at Lydia, and I could tell that he didn’t recognize her. His gaze shifted between her and Giles, and he had this half smile on his face, and I could almost see the words ‘a tarty step-mum half old Daddy’s age’ on the tip of his tongue. Not that Lydia really looked tarty – which I guessed meant the same as skanky – she was all smart and businesslike but pretty and a little sexy with it, but then Anya had looked pretty much the same the day of the Tabula Rasa spell anyway. “Tara, this is Lydia from the Watchers’ Council,” I introduced her. “Lydia, meet Tara MacLay. You remember Lydia, right, Spike?”
Spike looked to be doing battle with his eyebrows for a minute, but he held them down and kept his face reasonably straight. “Of course,” he said, and I guess it wasn’t really a lie because he remembered her, he just hadn’t recognized her. “How could I forget someone who paid me a great compliment by choosing me as the subject of her thesis? Delighted to see you again, Miss – Chalmers, was it not?”
His accent had slipped back almost to the way it was when he was Crazy Victorian William, and he was turning up the smile to max. I looked to see if his ankle was in range for a kick.
“Oh, do call me Lydia,” she – well, I guess the best word for it was ‘simpered’. She managed to drag her attention away from Spike’s charm offensive and turned to Tara. “Pleased to meet you, Miss MacLay.”
“Tara,” Tara said firmly. “We’re not big on the whole Mister and Miss thing around here. Nice to meet you, Lydia.”
Xander was watching the whole thing, looking kinda dumbstruck, and chewing on his bottom lip. He kept looking at Spike and then looking away again. Once the introductions had finished and Spike and Tara were sitting down Xander opened his mouth. “O-kay,” he said. “Color me dumb, but I’m not understanding this. There’s Spike, the Slayer of Slayers, no soul, no chip to hold him back.”
The doorbell jingled as Xander was speaking and Angel walked in, closely followed by Cordelia, a guy and a girl who I’d met briefly in LA that time – Gunn and Fred – and a sulky-looking teenager who I instantly recognized from Spike’s description of ‘a sodding reject from a boy band’ as being Angel’s son Connor. Spike shifted his position so that he could keep his eyes on them but didn’t rise from his seat.
Xander was thrown off his stride briefly by their entrance, but picked up his speech again before the newcomers could start with any introductions or questions. “So, Spike, no soul, no chip,” he recapped, “and he’s just sitting here, and we’re not making with the screaming and the staking, and he’s not making with the ripping out of throats, and I’m asking myself ‘why?’. Or maybe ‘why not?’”
“Good question,” Angel put in. “Especially as I know he killed a human last night.”
Xander shot up so fast that he knocked his chair over. “See! I told you!” he said, looking kinda triumphant, only scared too.
“It was Rack, Xander,” I told him, trying to sound like it wasn’t any big deal, ‘cause, really, it wasn’t. “Creepy magic pusher guy, into all sorts of bad stuff.”
“Spike didn’t kill him alone,” Tara declared. “I helped.”
I’d thought I’d set the world record for being wigged when Tara had said that to me, but Xander looked like he had me beat. His wig didn’t just have a floral clock and a take-away linguini shop; it had a Miniature Golf course, a Starbucks, and a waterslide. “You helped? Huh?”
“He was going to, to, to rape m-me and kill Spike,” Tara explained, and repeated what she had told me at the hospital.
I watched Xander’s face as Tara went through her story, and also shot glances across at Angel and his crew to study their reactions. It was always easy to read Xander, and I could tell by the end that he was feeling a bit better towards Spike, ‘cause Xander would probably have done the same thing. Well, not the bitey part, and Xander can’t do the spin-kick thing either, but he’d have rearranged Rack’s face with his fist and if Rack had fallen on the stake I doubt if Xander would have shed any tears over it.
Angel wasn’t so easy to read. His son just looked confused. Gunn just kept glaring at Spike the whole time, but a little smile appeared on Fred’s face and she was aiming it in Spike’s direction. Cordelia looked bored more than anything else.
“Well, I regard William’s actions as entirely justified and legitimate,” Lydia announced when Tara finished, “and I believe that I can speak for the Council on this matter. This Rack had abandoned the human world for the pursuit of magic and in so doing had placed himself in our jurisdiction. How could conventional law enforcement bodies have coped with someone whose abode couldn’t even be found except through supernatural means?”
Angel gave her a hard stare. “And you are?” he prompted.
Angel’s bunch entering in the middle of a conversation had meant that there hadn’t been anything in the way of introductions, and so we did that now, and everybody sat down, or at least everybody who could find a chair sat down. Angel sat on the counter, and it looked wrong to me ‘cause that was where Spike usually sat, and Connor stood leaning against the wall with his hands thrust into his pockets.
“Let’s get back to the subject of Spike,” Angel said, addressing Giles and Lydia. “Is this some radical new policy of the Watchers’ Council? Sparing vampires instead of staking them?” His brows lowered and he gave Lydia a very dirty look.
“We felt it appropriate in the circumstances to give William the benefit of the doubt for the moment,” Lydia said, not sounding at all intimidated. “It certainly appears so far that our decision was correct.”
“I don’t recall the Council being so considerate where I was concerned,” Angel pretty much growled. “I was dying in agony and you wouldn’t help. How did it go? ‘It’s not the business of the Council of Watchers to help vampires’? And I have a soul.”
Lydia made that gesture of putting a finger to her nose to adjust the position of non-existent glasses, the same way as Giles had when we first saw him with the contact lenses, and her cheeks colored a little. “Your subsequent career has shown us that we were wrong to refuse our assistance,” she said. “I apologize on the Council’s behalf. Spike’s, ah, William’s, case is, however, completely different.” She picked her purse up from the floor as she spoke and placed it on the table, and then opened it up and took out a notebook. “There is a prophecy involved.”
“A prophecy?” Spike and Angel said in chorus.
“Yeah, and we know how prophecies turn out,” Gunn said, with something of a sneer on his face.
“We’ve had a bad experience with a prophecy lately,” Fred said.
“Not to mention with visions,” Cordelia put in.
“This prophecy comes down to us through multiple sources,” Lydia said. “In fact it is widely enough known to have inspired comic books and films. The Daywalker Prophecy.”
There was a general outburst of ‘what?’ from pretty much everybody, except Giles, who I guess had heard about it already, and Connor, who looked like he didn’t have a clue what was going on.
“Daywalker like in ‘Blade’?” Xander said. “There’s a prophecy?”
“Indeed so,” Lydia replied. “We have reason to believe that it refers to William.”
“Bloody hell, if I had to pick an actor to play me I’d never have thought of Wesley Snipes,” Spike remarked, grinning and shaking his head. Xander grinned back at him for a moment, but then seemed to realize what he was doing and turned the grin into a scowl.
“Should have been Jude Law, maybe?” Tara suggested to me, and I nodded agreement.
“What makes you think that it is about Spike?” Angel asked. “I haven’t seen the prophecy, but I saw the movie. Why couldn’t the prophecy be about Connor?”
“Or about me?” Gunn put in. “Hey, I’ve seen the original comic book. Nothing in it about Blade being a vampire at all. Just a brother who hunted vampires.”
“In ‘Tomb of Dracula’ number ten,” Xander said authoritatively. “They put in the thing about his mother having been bitten by a vampire a couple of issues later.”
“Hey, you know your comic books,” Gunn said, grinning at Xander. “You’re damn right.” Xander grinned back at them, and they were obviously sharing a geek bonding moment over comic books.
“I don’t believe that the comics have much relevance,” Lydia said, “although it is hardly my area of expertise. Elements of the prophecy appear to have been incorporated into the film, however.” She turned to Angel. “Your son certainly features in prophecies, although their integrity is compromised and any deductions from them must be treated as unreliable, but he does not fit the criteria for the Daywalker. It specifies a vampire who regains the ability to walk in the daylight. The most recent of the prophecies, or visions, would appear to make it certain that Spike is the Daywalker. This comes from Mórag Aislinn McPherson, the Blind Seer of the Hebrides.” She opened the notebook and began to quote.
“‘One hundred twenty years unlived
Without hope and without pride
Until she brought him to the light
And set him free to choose his side
She will be with him
In the summer sun and the winter rain
Storms may come and clouds may go
And one day he will live again’.”
Halfway through Spike had started to shake his head, and he spoke up as soon as she finished. “Nah, that can’t be right. You’re taking the piss, right? I know that one, and that’s not how it goes. Should be,” he sucked in a breath and sang rather than recited.
“‘Two hundred forty years we lived
Without hope and without pride
So who will know where they come from
Who raised a torch for those who died?
I will be with them
In the summer sun and the winter snow
They will come and clouds will go
And show that we are proud again’.”
Spike sat up straight and glared at Lydia. “S’not a bleeding prophecy at all. A Big Country song from the ‘Restless Natives’ soundtrack, about Rob Roy or some such Scots git. What’s your game?”
“I’m not trying to fool you, William,” Lydia replied. “I am well aware of the resemblance between the passage that I read out and the song. Mórag has been a Big Country fan for as long as I have known her, and it was no surprise to me that she should express her vision in those terms.”
“What, this is a modern thing?” Spike said. “Thought you were making out it was from the sodding Fifteenth century or what have you, with this ‘blind seer of the Hebrides’ crap.”
“Very modern,” Lydia said. “Mórag is one of our current employees. In fact the timing is very significant, and is why we are treating it so seriously. She rang me up with that message at seven thirty p.m. yesterday. That would be, what, eleven thirty a.m. your time? About half an hour before you rang Rupert to tell him about the shootings.”
“A vision, not a prophecy,” I said, and Lydia nodded. “She saw it as it was happening, right? ‘One hundred twenty years unlived’ and Spike was turned in 1880, so, way close. ‘Until she brought him to the light and set him free to choose his side’. That was me making the wish. Protection from sunlight, and out with the chip. Free to choose.” I mentally put the bit about ‘and one day he will live again’ to one side for the time being; we could think about what that meant when the Warren thing was out of the way and Angel’s crew had gone.
“And what makes you think he’ll choose the side of good?” Angel asked, his brows still set in a heavy line low above his eyes. “Okay, he has a grudge against this Warren character, he might hold back from eating you lot until he’s settled that, but then he’ll be straight back to preying on the innocent. I know Spike better than any of you, remember.”
“No you don’t,” I said. “Spike’s changed, and you don’t know him now at all.”
“Vampires don’t change,” Angel insisted.
We were back to that old mantra. “Maybe souled ones don’t,” I snapped.
“You saying I’m the same as I was when Dru first brought me back to the hotel?” Spike said, in a surprisingly calm tone. “Remember that game we played with the sunlight? Feel like taking me on at that now?”
“That’s not what I mean,” Angel said.
“I assure you, Spike has indeed changed quite remarkably in the past few years,” Giles put in. “More so than we were prepared to acknowledge for a long time.”
“Got a human family now,” Spike said. “Not gonna pretend I give a toss about random sods that I don’t know, but I don’t hurt the people I love. Would hurt them if I started eating other people, even ones they don’t know. Anyway, how would I know if they knew them? S’ppose I nipped over to Oxnard and ate somebody there, and then I come back and my mate Joel’s all upset ‘cos some git’s eaten his cousin or whatever? ‘M not gonna do sodding background checks on every bloody potential meal, am I? Easier just not to eat them. Got used to pig blood, not that much of a hardship, and the benefits make it plenty worth while. Anyway, I can get human blood three days a month as it is.”
I could feel all the human blood in my veins rushing to my face. I knew I had gone bright red. “Spike!” I hissed. “TMI!” I saw Anya opening her mouth and I dreaded what she was going to say. “Anya! Don’t you dare say anything!” I commanded, and to my relief she closed her mouth.
“Angel – Dad – maybe he is okay,” Connor said, speaking for the first time since he had uttered some uncivil grunts during the introductions. “He could have killed me, and he didn’t, and I’m a stranger to him. D – Holtz told me that all vampires were just evil monsters, including you, and I believed him. Only, I don’t think things are really the way that he said they were. You’re not the way he described you. He said things would be confusing, and they are, but the things I’ve seen you doing, and the way all these people talk, well, either he was lying or everybody else is.”
“But I thought he understood now,” Angel said. His brows had descended even lower, but he looked more puzzled than angry or brooding. “He wrote that letter. He maybe hadn’t forgiven me, like I hadn’t forgiven him, but he wanted to put things right as best he could.”
“He wanted me to kill you,” Connor said. “I thought you’d killed him. Justine said you had.”
“He was leaving,” Angel said. “Why would I kill him? He was fine when I last saw him. You just took Justine’s word that he was dead? The bitch who cut Wesley’s throat and stole you away?”
“What?” Connor looked shocked, and then seemed to pull himself together. He was standing up straight now, hands out of his pockets, and he gesticulated as he talked. “There were two puncture wounds on his throat. He was still warm. The way Justine spoke I thought she’d seen you do it. Only, I saw that guy last night, and the wounds didn’t look the same at all, and I don’t know what to think now except that Justine was lying to me.”
“I didn’t kill Holtz,” Angel said. “I think I need to ask Justine a few questions.”
“So, we heading back for LA?” Gunn asked.
Angel looked around the room. “Well, they don’t want my advice or my help, and Buffy said this was her town and to stay away unless she asked for me, and, I don’t know, maybe Spike has changed. Yeah, let’s head back and get busy with more important things.”
“At last,” Cordelia said, with a sigh and an Olympic standard eye-roll. “Maybe now you’ll listen to me. Call me self-centered, but I kinda think that the most important of those things is that I’m dying.”
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 from the soundtrack from “Restless Natives” were transcribed by me from the Big Country album “Restless Natives and Rarities”, ©1998 Mercury Records, and were written by Stuart Adamson (born 11 April 1958, died 16 December 2001). “In a big country dreams stay with me”; RIP Stuart, forever in our hearts.