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Angel of the Morning Part Eighteen

I’ve been nominated for two awards in the Primordial Souls Awards: Best Overall Fanfiction and Best Humor for The Good, The Bad, and Cordelia. Nominations are not anonymous there; thank you, S.

I’m making rapid progress with my Spike/Willow Season 6 AU “Angel of the Morning”. Here’s the second chapter in less than two days. A long-awaited confrontation takes place in this chapter, and I’m rating it ‘R’ for violence. 3,700 words.

Previous parts here:
One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six

Seven / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven / Twelve

Thirteen / Fourteen / Fifteen / Sixteen / Seventeen


Angel of the Morning


Part Eighteen


“You’re dying?” It came in chorus from almost everybody in the room.

Cordy gave a little hint of a smile and nodded her head. “Yes. I. Am. Dying. Get your heads out of your asses and help me.”

“But – but how?” Angel gasped.

Another eye-roll. “You remember my birthday? I was in a coma, and you found out about the CAT scans, and the Seltrex, ‘cause the visions were killing me.”

“But you got made part demon so that you could withstand them,” Angel said.

“With a hidden catch,” Cordelia told him. “Just after the call from Xander I had a visit from Skip. The demon guy who demonized me in the first place.”

“Skip? Armored guy who looks after damned souls?”

“That’s the guy, yeah. Well, he offered me the chance to Ascend. To become a Higher Power. The whole demon power bit had been to prepare me for that. Only, you were running around going ‘Oh my God Spike’s loose and Buffy’s gonna die’, and I wanted to hang on and keep your feet on the ground so you didn’t do something stupid, so I asked if I could take a rain check on the Ascension thing. Nope, I had to give an answer there and then, and he started to get a bit too pushy, and I got a bit suspicious, and, well, I said ‘No’. Which was the wrong answer, and he took back the demon powers. Well, fine, I can deal with that, only I kinda think he took the whole thing. I don’t think I’m part demon any more, and the next time I get a vision it could fry my brain for good. ‘Widespread neuro-electrical deterioration’ ring any bells?”

Cordy had told me about this at the hospital, but she hadn’t explained how serious it was. She had said that she’d gotten made part demon to stop her brain exploding, so, all the clues had been there, but I hadn’t put them together. From the look of things Angel hadn’t put them together either.

“But – but – why didn’t you say?”

“I told you I’d lost my demon powers. Not that you paid much attention. Between the ‘save Buffy, kill Spike’ thing and the ‘hey, Connor, want to do some father and son bonding and go kill Spike together?’ thing I’m surprised you even took enough notice of me to remember that I was here.”

“There has to be something we can do about it,” Fred said. “Are you sure he took the demon away completely? Maybe he just took the powers? So, you won’t be able to vaporize Sluks with your mind, but you won’t die.”

“I don’t feel like there’s any demon left,” Cordelia told her. “And, hey, Fred, you know any test for traces of demon? Other than waiting for me to have my next vision and seeing whether I go into a coma or not?”

“Spike’s chip could tell,” Tara muttered, “like when he proved that I wasn’t a demon. Only, it’s gone.”

“It’s not completely gone,” I told her, and then turned to Cordy. “Hey, there is a way to tell. You just need to get Xander’s dad to hit you.”

Cordy arched an eyebrow at me. “This is some complicated revenge for something I did to you in kindergarten, right? Or are you just nuts?”

“No, Cordy, I’m serious. Spike’s chip could recognize demons. He proved that Tara wasn’t a demon by hitting her nose, and it hurt him, so she knew that she was all human. I didn’t get rid of the chip; I got Hallie to zap it into Xander’s dad. So, he hits you, you know one way or the other.”

“Now that’s gonna take some explaining,” Cordy sighed. “Like I’m gonna say, ‘Oh, hello, Mister Harris, would you hit me, please?’ without him thinking that I’m a total nutso.”

“We could work something out,” Xander said. “Anyway, which is more important? My dad thinking that you’re insane, or you dying?”

“Well, if you put it like that,” Cordelia sighed. “Maybe I could make him mad, or something.”

“Suppose you do find out that you ain’t got no demon any more?” Gunn put in. “What’re you gonna do ‘bout that?”

“Find someone to pass the visions on to,” Cordelia told him. “Someone at least part demon, but who would go with the whole ‘help the hopeless’ thing.”

“So, me, then,” Angel said.

“No, sorry, Angel, but that wouldn’t work. I saw what the world would be like if you have the visions. It doesn’t work out. You get the visions all mixed up with the guilt from your soul, and send the guys out to rescue people from Angelus in like the Eighteenth Century, and Wes gets his hand cut off, and it’s all kinds of bad. And hey, you can be broody now, but this is brood in a whole different league.”

“Better than you dying,” Angel said.

“Maybe Lorne?” Gunn suggested.

“He’s gone off to chase his dream in Vegas,” Fred said. “I don’t know if we could get him back. And it’s a lot to ask. Blinding headaches and all that shit.”

“I’ll do it.”

Everybody turned to look at Spike.

“What?” Angel said.

“I’ll do it. Take over the visions from the cheerleader. Blinding headaches? No problem for me, mate. Had enough practice the past couple of years. Probably the world’s best at coping with blinding headaches.”

“But you wouldn’t go off to LA, would you?” I asked him. Well, the way I said it, ‘begged’ was probably a better word than asked.

“No chance, love. Phone the visions in. Have I got this straight? The cheerleader gets the visions of hopeless gits getting chomped by demons, tells the Cloaked Avenger, and he jumps in the Angelmobile and buggers off to help the poor sods? Well, don’t see why I couldn’t do it from here. This is the telecommunications age, innit?”

“You’d take on the burden and the blinding headaches?” Angel said, slowly, his brows in low brood position. “Why? Out of the goodness of your non-existent soul?”

“Nah, more because it’d piss you off no end having to rely on me, you git,” Spike smirked. “Anyway, the cheerleader’s a bit of all right. Be a right shame for her to die.”

Angel’s mouth turned down at one corner for a moment. “You’d have to come to LA,” he said, sounding like he wasn’t happy about the idea at all. “Sometimes the visions are time-critical. I don’t think telephoning us would work. And Cordy always gets visions of things in the area where she is. Suppose all you got was visions of Sunnydale?”

“Then I’d pass them on to the Slayer,” Spike replied. “Not negotiable. Not gonna bugger off to LA and leave my girls. Take it or leave it.”

“We’ll leave it, then,” Angel said firmly.

“Hey, hey, not so fast,” Cordelia protested. “My life at stake here, people. I think a little flexibility might be in order.”

“What about me?” Connor suggested. “I can take pain. You grow up in Quor-toth, you learn to deal with pain.”

Cordelia screwed up her lips as if she’d bitten into a lemon. “Do you realize how the visions get passed on? I used to change your diapers, Connor. I’m not gonna swap spit with you any time soon. Can I say, ewww?”

“Vision gig could be more interesting than I thought,” Spike muttered, and then he caught my eye. He didn’t actually go pale, ‘cause hey, already there, but he kinda flinched a bit, ‘cause I was giving him a real hard stare. “Once I got past the hurdle of the, uh, the off-putting aspects of getting them passed to me. Suppose I’ll just have to endure the hardship. Only to save the bint’s life, of course.”

“What does the prophecy say?” Tara asked. “Does it say anything about the Daywalker getting visions?”

“No, I don’t believe it does,” Giles replied. “The Daywalker will endure hardships and pass various trials, play a part in averting one or more apocalypses, and then be rewarded with the ability to walk in the sun. You’ve done that part, Spike. He will then manage to fit in some good works, and the averting of another apocalypse or two, in between watching soap operas, smoking far too many cigarettes, and being generally annoying.”

Spike didn’t rise to the bait; he just gave Giles a smirk. “You forgot to mention the great sex.”

I was torn between kicking him in the ankle and looking smug; I went with the looking smug option, ‘cause of Cordelia being there. And Anya.

“That is because I didn’t feel that the section about the Daywalker’s long-suffering surrogate father was relevant at this point,” Giles said, so deadpan that I didn’t catch on to what he was meaning until I realized that Lydia had gone kinda pink and looked like she was torn between kicking him in the ankle and looking smug.

Spike half closed one eye, smiled, and nodded, and opened his mouth to make some retort that I bet would have been pretty funny. He didn’t get it said, ‘cause Xander spoke up at that point.

“Does it have to be a demon?”

Cordelia gave him a medium grade eye-roll. “Well, duh! Humans can’t take the visions. Their brains burn out and they die. So, demon’s pretty much the only option, ‘cause, pussycats? Not that big with the communication skills. Unless you’re suggesting maybe a parrot? ‘Cause, somehow don’t think it would work out.”

Xander stood up, left the table, and began to pace around the room as he talked. “I know all that. But, there are jobs in hazardous conditions, high noise levels, that sorta thing, where there are Union rules for how long a guy can do it at a time. So, when that guy’s done his time, they don’t stop the work. Just, that guy stops and another guy takes over. Why can’t you pass the visions on to a human now – or, what the hell, even to Spike? – just so as you don’t die, and then that guy can look for someone else to pass the ball to.”

“Rather like the flame of the Olympic Torch,” Giles added. “Do you know, Xander, I think that that is an uncommonly good idea.”

“Sounds cool to me,” Gunn said.

“Yeah, nice one, Harris,” Spike said. I smiled at him, glad that he was willing to extend an olive branch to Xander, and added my own voice to those backing Xander’s idea.

“Thank you, Xander,” Cordelia said, in a level sincere voice devoid of her usual snark. “I think you’ve bought me enough time to –”

She was interrupted by a shattering of glass as the Magic Box window burst inwards. Everybody came to their feet, ‘cept for me ‘cause I tried to use the wrong hand to grab my chair and nothing happened, and everyone stared at the window.

Something flew in through the opening. A little metal box, maybe brass, flying on little metal wings. It might have seemed cute in other circumstances, but following on from the window shattering it was scary as hell. I could see something flashing red as it fluttered through the air and settled in the middle of the table.

A digital counter. It read ‘2’. Then ‘1’.

Spike shoved my chair hard and sent me skidding across the floor away from the table. I saw Tara flying in the other direction, also pushed away by Spike, as he dived forward onto the table and threw himself on top of the box.

Giles stepped in front of Lydia to shield her. Gunn pushed Fred to the floor and covered her with his body. Angel leaped from the counter and grabbed Cordelia to pull her away. Anya tried to dive for the counter but tripped on a chair and fell flat. Connor jumped back, drew a knife, and faced the window. Xander’s pacing had taken him too far away from the table to be within reach, and his despairing scream of “Anya!” was cut off halfway through as the box exploded.


- - - - -


There was no blast, no heat, no fragments flying through the room to cut us to pieces. Only a globe of orange light, swelling out, passing through Spike as if he wasn’t there, enveloping everyone around the table, billowing out for about ten feet in each direction and then stopping.

Everybody inside the bubble froze in place. Cordelia was in mid-air, having been thrown towards the counter by Angel, and she hung there above the ground. Angel stood poised with his arms still outstretched from the throw. A stasis field of some sort. It had trapped everybody except me, Tara, Xander, and Connor.

I stood up and extended my hand. “Libero!” I commanded. Nothing happened. This was Rack’s magic. I just didn’t have the power to break the spell on my own. If I combined with Tara, however …

Tara had fallen over when Spike pushed her away from what he had no doubt thought would be an explosion. She climbed to her feet and looked around. “Goddess!” she exclaimed. “It must be Warren.”

“That’s right, baby,” Warren’s voice came from behind me. I spun around and saw him climbing in through the window. There was something strange about his dress. A lattice of metal struts surrounded each of his legs and his arms. “You guys have laughed at me for the last time. Time to say bye-bye, babes.”

“Let my dad and his friends go, creep,” Connor ordered. There was enough menace in his voice to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but Warren just laughed.

“Make me,” Warren invited.

Connor reacted immediately. He charged at Warren, moving faster than a normal human should have been able to move. Slayer fast, like Spike had said. His knife lashed out. Warren struck out to block the blow, slightly too slow, and a line of blood appeared on his cheek. Warren growled and lashed out with a roundhouse punch. He hit Connor across the jaw and sent him flying up into the air and back across the room. Connor turned in mid-air, landed on his feet, and stood for a second sizing up his opponent.

“I’m stronger than you thought, huh?” Warren sneered. “Technology, kid. Powered exo-skeleton. The perfect equipment for the soldier of the future, astronauts, whatever. It’s what’s gonna buy my way out of all this trouble, make my fortune, the works. After I’ve shut a few inconvenient mouths, that is.”

Tara gestured at Warren, casting a spell of sleep, but Rack’s protective enchantments were still operational and Warren only blinked. We needed to get together. The problem was that Warren was right in between us.

“Give yourself up, Warren,” Xander urged. “The second Spike gets free from that stasis field, or whatever, he’s gonna tear your throat out. Turn yourself in to the cops and save yourself a painful death.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Warren shook his head. “See, before I turn off the field I’m gonna pour gasoline over it and set it alight. Crispy fried vampire.”

Connor snarled as savagely as any vampire, reversed his knife, and drew it back for a throw. Xander’s eyes flickered towards Anya and he bared his teeth too. He charged straight for Warren. I felt my own lips pulling back from my teeth and a primal rage filling me. “Incendiere!” I snarled, commanding Warren to burn.

My spell just fizzled. Warren tossed something in Connor’s direction and said “Capture!” He turned to meet Xander’s charge and backhanded him across the face. Xander was knocked backwards as Connor had been, but didn’t have the agility to control his fall and sprawled on the floor.

I tried to sidle around Warren to get to Tara, and she did the same at the other side. I looked at Connor, not wanting to get hit by his knife by mistake, but he wasn’t completing the throw. The thing that Warren had thrown at him was expanding around the kid, covering him in some sort of blue gooey stuff, trapping him as effectively as the others had been trapped by the stasis field.

“Hey, hey, naughty girls,” Warren said. He grabbed me by the injured shoulder and suddenly there wasn’t any sensation in the world but pain and no sound other than my scream.


- - - - -


When I could think again I was on my knees, crying, and Tara was lying on the floor a few feet away. She wasn’t moving, and terror filled me, but as I stared in horror I saw her breast rise and fall. She was alive.

I lifted my head and saw Xander standing up once more. He was shaking, but I think it was with rage rather than with fear, ‘cause his lips were tight over his teeth and there was a real scary look in his eyes.

“Spike isn’t gonna need to tear your throat out, geek boy,” Xander said. “I’m gonna gut you like a fish for that.”

“If you take one step closer the little witch gets her neck broken,” Warren warned him, “and that would be a real shame because we’re gonna have so much fun together.” I could feel his hand in my hair.

“Over my dead body,” I spat.

“That could be arranged,” Warren said. There was a metallic clicking noise, and I turned my head to look at him, and I saw that he was holding a big black pistol. “Play nice, baby, and maybe I won’t kill everybody.”

Suddenly the shop bell sounded, startlingly incongruous in the circumstances. The door swung open and Clem rushed in.

“Spike, you here?” the friendly demon called. “That Warren guy is –” He broke off as he took in the situation in the shop. “Here,” he finished. “Oh, crap.”

“What the fuck?” Warren exclaimed. He swung the pistol in Clem’s direction.

“Let Willow go,” Clem ordered. His ears spread out like a bat’s wings unfurling and he bared his pointy teeth.

“I don’t think so, dude,” Warren said, raising the pistol.

Clem took a step forwards. His mouth gaped open hugely, large enough to swallow a cat whole, and tentacles erupted from his face and thrashed the air.

“Holy shit!” Warren gasped. His pistol hand shook, and he released my hair with the other hand and brought it up to support the gun in a two-handed stance. “Back off!”

Clem halted, still in his version of game face. I heard a noise from the other side of the shop and saw Xander advancing. Warren swung his gun that way and Xander came to a halt, but Warren’s finger began to tighten on the trigger anyway.

“No!” I yelled, and brought my left hand up as hard as I could between Warren’s legs. I tried to grab his balls and squeeze, but he hit me across the face with the gun and knocked me away. I saw Clem charging, heard a shot, and saw Clem fall.

The gunshot was so close, so loud, that for a second I couldn’t hear anything at all, and then a horrible gurgling scream filled my ears. I turned, terrified for Xander, but he was unhurt. It was Warren who was screaming.

Warren’s gun clattered to the floor and he clutched at his throat with both hands. Blood oozed between his fingers and covered his hands, and a red stain was spreading over his shirt. There was something sticking out of his neck just above his collar-bone, just visible between his hands. It was the butt of one of Xander’s hand-carved stakes.

Xander stood in front of Warren and stared into his eyes. Warren’s scream died away into a gasping wheeze and he rocked on his feet. Xander brought up his hand and placed it flat across Warren’s face. “Just die already,” Xander said, and pushed. Warren toppled backwards, jerked a couple of times, and then was still.

“Will, you okay?” Xander bent over me, stretched his hand out towards my shoulder, but then pulled it back without touching me. “You’re bleeding.”

“I’ll be okay,” I told him. “Guess I’ll need to go back to the hospital, huh? Think I might need the metal pins replacing.” I was about to send Xander to check on Tara, but I saw that she was already raising herself to her hands and knees. “Give me a hand up and then see to Clem.”

“Yeah,” Xander said, helping me to my feet. “Guess he pretty much saved us. Maybe demons aren’t all bad.”

I didn’t think there was any ‘maybe’ about it, but I guess that was about as much as I could expect Xander to concede for now. At least he was making haste to tend to the fallen demon. I made my way over to Tara, who had regained her feet.

“Are you okay, hon?” she asked me, pre-empting me asking her the same question.

“I’ll live,” I told her.

“What happened to Warren?”

“He won’t.”

“Oh.” Tara looked across and saw the body. “What happened?”

I explained to her the events that had taken place after Warren had hit her. “We’d better both get to the hospital,” I suggested. “Warren’s not going to have done my shoulder any good, and you got knocked out again, and I think we should get checked out. Only, first let’s get that spell broken.”

“And then call the police?”

“I don’t see any way around it, but how do we explain Clem?”

“I’m okay,” a weak voice came from the demon. “Luckily my heart isn’t in the same place as yours.”

“Hey, it’s sure in the right place,” I said. “Thanks. Well, ‘thanks’ is kinda pathetically inadequate for what you did.”

Xander helped Clem to his feet. “I can hear sirens,” Clem said, his floppy ears twitching. “I’ll get out of the way before the cops come, okay?”

“Sure thing,” Xander said. “Thanks, man. I mean, major thanks.”

“No problemo,” Clem grinned, and scuttled out.

Tara took my hand, and we turned to the transparent blue prison of gello that contained Connor.

“Solvo!” we said in unison, and the goo began to dissolve. We shifted our focus to the stasis field. “Libero!”

CHAPTER NINETEEN


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.

Tags: angel_of_the_morning, fic, nominations/awards
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