Chapter 52 – Calling All Angels
I need a sign to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
‘Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me
And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels
I won’t give up if you don’t give up
Giles took a sip of his now cold tea. He was still in his office, staring at the very paperwork he’d told Wesley wasn’t worth looking at anymore. There was a bad feeling in the air, he knew tonight was the night. A phone call from Wesley saying he was leaving the country with Fred for an indeterminate amount of time, Angel missing in action, and a distracted Faith dropping Journey and Elijah off to Kate for the night. The air almost crackled with the forthcoming doom, and with a heavy heart, he reached for his scribbled notes on the prophecy. As soon as he picked the paper up, he realized that something wasn’t right. He pulled his glasses on so fast that they ended up perched crookedly on his nose, but he didn’t bother to fix them. He was too transfixed at the words written on the paper. Not his handwriting, someone else’s hand that he didn’t recognize, and the words chilled him.
Three hearts forged into one soul,
Two winged creatures born of hope,
One shall fly and one shall burn with righteousness,
Thrice tempted, one convicted holds closed the gate by faith,
One fallen, and all is lost.
Three sacrifices, one belief and one penance, and all shall be returned.
It was the full prophecy, he didn’t doubt that, and as he stared at the words, they became clear to him. There were only five who could save the world this time. For the first time since he was a boy, he wanted to drop to his knees to pray for their guidance.
Something rumbled under his feet, and for a moment, he didn’t understand. His tea sloshed over his hand as the building shook around him. It was the frightened cries of his slayers that made him realize that the very gates of hell were opening beneath them. And the only way to close them rested in the hands of five of their best warriors.
“Maybe we should just go home,” Raven said. “There’s nothing stirring. It’s as bad as Halloween in this town.”
“I don’t know, Rave,” Connor said. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his body a bit. “Don’t you feel it? I’ve got a funny feeling.”
“Yeah, it’s called horniness,” Raven cracked, smacking his ass. “So, let’s get back. We’ve got the house to ourselves.”
“Uh, there is no way I can do it in your house,” Connor declared with a quick shake of his head. “Your father would know and end my life.”
“Aw, are you scared of my Daddy?” Raven teased.
“Hell yes.” Connor laughed, and he slung an arm around her shoulder. He kissed her cheek, and whispered, “Maybe we could find a nice cozy grave to do it on.”
“Wait,” Raven said, putting her hand up. There was something in the air. A chill went through her all the way down to her bones. It was then that she saw demons coming out of the shadows toward them. They were surrounded. Instantly they moved back to back, drawing their weapons preparing for battle, when she felt the first rumble. “Oh, shit, earthquake,” she yelled, as the first demon rushed her. Raven fought to maintain her balance as she danced with the creature who was trying to destroy her. She lunged forward with her stake, losing her balance as she realized he wasn’t moving. Righting herself she looked around, realizing they were all frozen in place, including Connor. The earth had stopped moving, and it seemed everything had stilled.
Raven turned around, looking for something anything, and when she completed her circle there was someone standing in front of her. The creature was the most beautiful being she’d seen in her life. She glowed with iridescent light, diaphanous wings softly flowed from either side of her body in an almost five-foot range, and her eyes echoed the brightest blue of the day sky. Raven blinked as she tried to make herself believe she was in the company of the Fairy Queen, Titania. Once she realized that she was truly there, Raven dropped to her knees, and bowed her head.
“Raven, look at me, my child,” Titania said.
Refusing to stand, Raven merely raised her head so that she could gaze upon the beauty before her.
“Things have changed in the world, and you are unique. You have many bloods running through your veins, yet you wish to be only an ordinary girl. It would be a waste of the warrior that is inside of you.”
“I’m sorry,” Raven started.
The glorious creature before her spoke, interrupting Raven’s apology. “The world I once ruled is no more, destroyed by the march of time, and the force of darkness is getting bolder every day. You have taken the spirit of the slayers into your soul, and today I am offering you a choice.”
“What kind of choice?” Raven asked, glancing over at Connor and wished he were with her.
“He already knows his destiny,” Titania said with kindness. “It is you that is so torn about who you want to be, and that is your choice. Raven, I can give you all the powers of the fairy to go with your slayer abilities. It will make you an almost unbeatable foe of evil if you choose to take it, but you will never be just another girl again because along with the powers you will also take on the appearance of one of us.”
Raven didn’t say anything. It was overwhelming. Connor told her frequently that he would stand by her forever, and she knew he would. If she accepted she would never be like everyone else, and each day devoutly dedicated to fighting evil.
“What is your answer, child? Will you accept your destiny as the first slayer among the fairy race or will your envy of what you are not, keep you from it?”
The tunnel was musty and dank, very typical for a gathering place of ancient evil. Angel tried to ignore the atmosphere as he followed Gunn to the meeting room. Another stone staircase was meticulously carved into the wall ahead of them, twisting and turning down into the bowels of the earth. It seemed they were going into hell itself, except this place was freezing, and he could feel the shivers coming off Max behind him.
Just that reminder of the human made him remember Max’s behavior with Buffy only a couple of hours ago, and he tugged on the chains a little harder. It made Max stumble into the wall, the chains binding him clanked as he tried to right himself. Then Max uttered a horrified gasp, stumbling down the stairs Angel didn’t warn him were there. The blindfold was still in place, and Angel grimaced, torn between the cruelty of kidnapping Max for his plan and the need to keep this charade going.
At the bottom of the steps was another hallway. This time with an earthen floor, almost mud from the dampness that permeated everything around them. It sucked at their boots, making their way more difficult in the near darkness. Gunn never said a word, just kept leading them further into this cavern until he stopped outside a large wooden door at the end of the hall. He pulled out a large brass key to unlock it, and then stepped back to allow them to enter first.
Max’s labored breathing belied the fear pouring off him, and Angel had to give him credit for not crying and begging for his life. He was a soldier. Hopefully, that training would remain in place and he would die a very noble death.
The room they stepped into was narrow, longer than wide with a massive table taking up the center of it. At one end was a raised platform with an altar. Crude drawings of various demons were carved into the wall behind it. The permeating odor of rotted flesh and blood was overwhelming even for his demon. Angel hesitated, and it was then that Izzy came to greet them. He motioned with one hand for the servants to prepare the lamb for the ritual to come.
If all goes as he was told, Angel would sign his allegiance to them, and then sacrifice an innocent before he would truly be a member of this evil alliance. He watched with indifference as they chained Max, spread eagle, upon the altar. The blindfold was removed once he was secured to the stone table. There wasn’t any concern about Max seeing who was in attendance. He wouldn’t live more than another hour at the most. He met Angel’s eyes after taking in everything else around him. The blue depths radiated with contempt, not showing the terror he must be feeling; Max turned a stoic stare to the ceiling.
“Good, good, Angel,” Izzy said, motioning for Angel to sit at the table. “You have done better than we ever expected. You seemed to have taken a liking to the humans around you, but you have showed an understanding of their proper place.” He sat at Angel’s right and the Archduke Sebassis to his left. The others took their prospective places around the table as the servants placed a glass of wine before each of them.
Gunn sat at the other end, smiling at him. Angel knew it is a big coup for the once blustering street kid to bring such a powerful person as himself to this table. It would give him a higher status among the Black Thorn. Perhaps even a greater role in the havoc wrought upon the world. Angel sat back, waiting for the next step. He figured it would most likely be a toast in his honor, and he pushed back all of his doubts about what he was doing. He reassured himself that from the inside the belly of the beast was the only way to accomplish his ultimate goal. The destruction of this group, and to bring the Senior Partner’s to their knees if even for a short while.
Izzy had just raised his glass to propose a toast when the ground began to shake beneath them. Angel muttered a curse. He didn’t want to delay this, unsure if he would have the courage to do it all again. The ancient walls began to collapse, forcing everyone to scramble for the only exit. It was pandemonium as they pushed and shoved each other as they fought for survival. No heroics for one another was anywhere in evidence among this group.
For the first time that evening, the guilt he was suppressing forced Angel to check on Max as he tried to decide what to do next. Max was still, refusing to beg for release even in the face of imminent death as the crumbling stones began to rain down on him. Despite the illogic of the action, Angel knew he would have to get Max out of there.
He stood, just as a powerful while light appeared by the entrance, and he raised his hand to his brow to try to block some of it. The light floated toward him, making him turn to see what the partners were doing. They weren’t doing anything. It was as if they were marble statues, unmoving as the ground beneath them.
“My Angel,” a familiar voice called to him through the light. “What are you trying to do?”
It was Cordelia. The light seemed to start from within her, moving outward until it was bathing her in pure radiance. Her image was of the woman he’d fallen in love with and not the woman he’d left at the house a short time ago. Death had claimed her while he was gone. He’d broken his promise to her by not being at her side in the end. Guilt and grief drove Angel to his knees. A sob stuck in this throat as he stared at her, unable to formulate the words to express the emotions rampaging through his soul.
“There is no time for guilt,” Cordelia said soothingly. “Actually, there isn’t much time left at all.”
“What? Why are you here?” Angel choked out. “Oh, my god, Cordy, I’m sorry, I never wanted you to know.”
“I’ve always known,” she whispered. “It’s the way it was written a long time ago. The reluctant warrior, always so arrogant of his own mission, forgot that it doesn’t always rest on his own shoulders alone. Your pride got in the way, my love.”
“I’m trying to do what is best,” Angel declared, struggling back to his feet. He waved a hand at the Black Thorn. “By wiping them out then we’ll have the upper hand.”
“Yeah, and let loose the Senior Partners on
“There are always causalities.” He glanced over at Max, and was surprised to see that he was watching them. He met that gaze and added, “It needed to be done.”
“No, it didn’t,” Cordelia said, demanding his attention again. “It is a glory play by you to make a name for yourself as you die for the cause. It’s not what is needed from you.”
“What then? More…”
“Angel, stop it,” Cordelia said, stepping forward to caress his face. “There is a beautiful destiny awaiting you, if you’ll stop this madness. You are not the center of the fight, but one of the cogs needed in the future battles. Will you accept that destiny or will you allow your pride to continue to create your own future?”
There was a fine mist falling from the sky, making Buffy pull her jacket tighter around her body. She didn’t know where to go. The children were safe, her husband was with Dylan, and Max had thankfully gone off with Angel. What she’d done, or wanted to do wasn’t right. It was nothing more than an immature, emotional knee jerk reaction with someone she knew was vulnerable. She was ashamed, and angry with herself over the whole situation.
No matter what happened, Spike had never followed through on any temptation. No matter how pretty or welcoming they were to him. Buffy could never blame him again; not with her actions of this evening, and the taste of Max’s kisses still lingering on her lips.
The rain began to fall heavier, forcing her to seek shelter from the downpour. A church stood on the corner, and she ran toward it. She hurried up the steps to huddle under the small overhang in front of the doors. She leaned back against the heavy wood, trying to avoid the drops falling from the angelic carvings above her, when they gave way, and sent her stumbling into the sanctuary.
“Just great,” Buffy mumbled, as she picked herself up off the floor. “Now, I’m breaking and entering.” She looked around to see if anyone was around. Thankfully, the place seemed deserted. The beauty of the stained glass, and the large crucifix hanging above the altar caught her attention.
It had been an eternity since she’d been inside a church. Drawn by the splendor before her, she walked down the aisle, toward the front of the church where candles flickered to break through the shadows. The peacefulness that permeated everything in the structure called to her, and she breathed it in like much needed water. Each step toward the altar seemed to take her further away from the troubles that crowded her mind. She sat in the first pew. Her eyes transfixed on the figure hanging on the cross. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, without really knowing for what sin she was apologizing.
The ground shook beneath her, the glass votives rattled, and even the crucifix seemed to shudder under the unexpected earthquake. Buffy jumped up, wondering what to do. Her children were foremost in her mind. Would they be safe? She fumbled for her cell phone in her pocket, even as she turned to hurry back up the aisle.
“They’re all right, Buffy,” a familiar voice said behind her, and she whirled around to find Justin standing at the bottom step. The man, who’d helped her that summer she spent in the clinic, was now a priest.
“Justin? Or should I say Father Justin?” She asked with a smile. It was good to see someone she knew in the midst of all her troubles.
“Neither is technically right,” he said, holding his hand out for her to take. “But it is an image of me that you can handle.”
“What’s going on?” Buffy asked, looking around as she realized that the earthquake had ended. She looked down at her phone wanting to check in with Giles, but there was no service. “Damn it.”
“I told you they’re fine. The world is still at the moment.”
“What the…I mean what’s going on?”
Justin chuckled. “It’s all right, Buffy. I understand human foibles, and especially yours.” He raised his hand. “If you’ll stop asking questions, I’ll answer them for you.”
Buffy sat back down in the pew. She worried her wedding rings while she waited. Something wasn’t right, but somehow she wasn’t afraid. The peace she’d found here, was still surrounding her, making her want to surrender to it.
“Things have come to a fork in the road,” Justin said, sitting beside her on the pew. “You have to make a decision about your future.”
“My future is supposed to be with my husband,” Buffy said, with a shrug of her shoulders. “Even if he doesn’t think so.”
“Is that why you went to your best friend to seduce him into a mistake that will hurt many people?”
“How did you know?” Buffy asked in wonder, and then gave up. After everything she’d ever been through, some things just defied explanation. Her shoulders slumped as she stared at her hands. “I was hurt and angry…Max was the only one I trusted.”
“He’s always been half in love with you, Buffy. You know that, so why hurt him to get back at a husband who hasn’t left you yet?”
Tears spilled down her cheeks as the cruelty of her actions hit her. She’d probably lost everything important to her on a stupid whim of revenge.
“Because I’m a bitch?” She replied, with a sob. “How many times can Spike refuse someone else? I’m getting older…”
“And angrier…that is the poison destroying your life…not Spike or any woman or man who comes along. We are all tempted every day by something. It is whether or not we give in to that temptation that shows our character.”
“So, that makes him a saint…and me the sinner.”
“Everyone sins, Buffy, but in different ways.”
“Guess I really fucked everything up tonight, huh?”
“Almost literally there,” Justin said, with a smile. “Remember though forgiveness is a virtue.”
Buffy turned her eyes to the man beside her. It was something that she tried to give to Spike over the years, just like he had with her regarding her actions during her pregnancy. For the first time she wondered if they’d actually done it or just mouthed the words. She shook her head.
“He’ll never forgive me for going to Max,” Buffy whispered.
“You have to give him the chance,” Justin said kindly. “But it is your own soul that you must contend with, because you cannot control him or his actions. No matter what you do, Buffy, Spike is his own man.”
“I know that,” she declared. “I don’t try to…yeah, I guess I do, don’t I?” It was exactly what she’d tried to do by going to Max, by sending Spike out into the world, by not trusting him with everything during her pregnancy. She was so afraid of being alone, she manipulated the one man who loved her…and until this night had stood by her. “What am I going to do if I lose him?”
“Whether or not he forgives you is his choice…whether you let it destroy you or not is yours. You are not defined solely by the man who loves you. Don’t you remember when someone else asked you what you had left? You said, ‘me’. You still have that and so much more.”
“Yeah, and Angel was…,” Buffy started, but stopped when she felt the familiar anger burning in her chest. She hung her head, wrapping her arms around herself, wanting to cry at the wasted time spent in an anger she’d never fully let go of over the years.
“Buffy,” Justin said, touching her shoulder to get her attention. “Your future was and is that of a chosen one,” Justin protested. “You were never meant to live a normal life, but be a great warrior. That future has already been altered by your actions. Now you must choose which direction you’ll go next.”
“If you’re telling me to give up Spike,” Buffy retorted, with a snort. “Like I said, I think he’s already taken care of that.” She stepped back. “I’m not just going to give him up…we’ve been married…together for so long. My marriage, my family is who I am, and I’m not going to hand it over to some punk.”
“What are you going to do?”
“What I have to,” Buffy replied, tilting her chin up.
“Revenge will hurt everyone,” Justin whispered. “You must know that.”
“So, I’m supposed to just let that little bastard take my husband away from me?”
“No, you must walk away willingly, and find the path you were meant to walk.”
“Don’t think so,” Buffy said, jumping up. “I don’t let others make my decisions.”
“A home you will never see again if you don’t let him go so that you can both fulfill your destinies.”
Before she could move away, Justin was standing in front of her, and placing his hand on her forehead. The church began to fade away at the mere touch of his fingertips, and she found herself standing in the smoking ruins of her home in Sunnydale. It took her a moment to assimilate that maybe she really was there, and then gasped as she thought of her children. If the house was destroyed, where were her babies?
Pushing through the rubble of what was left of the furniture, she scrambled toward the foyer. A scream echoed around her as her worst nightmare was made real. Lying at the bottom of the stairs was Journey’s lifeless body. Her chest was ripped open. Nothing more than an empty shell, something had stolen her heart from her tiny body. Buffy gagged, her hand over her mouth as she forced herself to think of Elijah and finding him. Maybe with his powers, he was all right.
She looked around, wondering where to look, but she didn’t need to go anywhere. Against the blood spattered blackened wall was her son. He stood frozen, hands rigid against the wall behind him, as he stood waiting for what was to come next. Buffy blinked as she took a step toward him, joyful that he was alive, and then heartbroken when she realized that the blood on his face wasn’t Journey’s but his own.
“Mummy, are you there?” He cried, reaching out a hand in the direction that he thought she was, because he could no longer see. Whatever had killed Joy had also ripped the boy’s eyes right from their sockets. And the blood spilled down his cheeks as if they were tears.
She reached for him, but then realized they were gone. She was back in the church with Justin. Buffy fell to her knees as the horror of the vision echoed in her mind. “You said they were safe,” she screamed, staring up at Justin. “Did you lie? Where are my children?”
“They are safe for now…that I promise you. This is only the possibility of the future if things don’t change.”
“Who are you and what do you want with me?”
Justin’s patient smile made her hesitate as an inner light began to envelope him. It clung to him as the dawn does to the horizon. At first, she thought her eyes were playing a trick on her, but then she knew they were real. Wings spread out on either side of him, soft white feathers that rippled as they reached their full span. He was an angel. It terrified her. Buffy tried to scramble away from the magnificence before her, but only fell on her bottom again.
His smile was patient as he reached for her hands, pulling her to her feet. His touch was warm, and comforting to her.
“You were there…in heaven…with me,” Buffy stuttered, as memories of that time came tumbling back to her. “You…helped to calm me. You comforted me.”
“Yes, Buffy, I was there…I’ve always been with you. Do you really think you’ve always been alone?”
“Well yeah, there’s been plenty of times…wait...get out…you’re my guardian angel?”
“He promised that everyone would have a protector,” Justin said, with a wry grin. “No, not someone to fix everything. I’m not Santa Claus, but you’re never completely alone even when things are at their worst.”
It was too much to take, the whole night, Spike, Max, and the worst of all, the vision of the future. She wanted to run and hide from it, so she could hope it would all go away. It wouldn’t though, things had changed for good, and nothing would be the way it was yesterday.
“So, now what?”
Justin took her hand again. “Buffy, while you’ve been busy trying to be normal evil has only becoming stronger. They think that good has gone weak…that you no longer care whether they are there or not,” Just said. “But the fight needs you and Spike to do what it is you do best, be warriors. Will you put away your anger and fear of being alone to save the lives of thousands including your own children?”
The truth was he felt guilty. Dylan glanced over at Spike, and the anguish etched on his face. He wished he hadn’t been the one to put it there. His only saving grace was he truly didn’t think Buffy could love the vampire as much as he did. Spike was always torn between the life he’d been living the past few months, and his home back in Sunnydale. Dylan sighed, wishing he could go back a few hours so he never would have walked into that convenience store. Having the truth out in the open was making him second-guess his mission…his greatest desire.
“Thanks for buying dinner,” Dylan commented, trying to stop himself from thinking. They’d gone to a steak house down the street from the hotel. It wasn’t the best food, but it was edible and dinner had been a quiet affair. Neither of them had much to say. It wasn’t like Dylan wanted to talk about his past. Spike didn’t give a damn about it, but Dylan did.
As much as he hated to admit it to anyone, even himself, he hadn’t tried to get out of the business until Jake offered him a better deal. He’d enjoyed being the best there was, and the attention his johns showered on him because of it. The only difference now was that he wanted one person to take care of him instead of many. The single thing standing in the way was that the person he wanted was already taken.
“You’re welcome,” Spike replied, with a shrug. “You want to just crash here tonight. I’m not in the mood to go back yet.”
“Sure, if that’s what you want,” Dylan agreed, nodding his head. It would be the perfect opportunity to seduce Spike, and he wondered if that was what Spike was thinking too. Maybe things were working out after all.
They were halfway across the parking lot when a scream erupted from behind the hotel. Dylan glanced at Spike as they both took off running. It was instinct to jump into any fray occurring or to protect those who needed it. The runaway crossed Dylan’s mind, spurring him on as he increased his speed. They turned the corner of the hotel together, heading into the empty lot behind it without hesitation. Several men had a young woman corralled between them despite that she was crying hysterically, begging them to let her go. They were laughing as she tried get between them, and they would shove her back.
Spike continued running, until at the last instant he flew through the air, knocking two of them down with well-aimed feet. Dylan wasn’t far behind as he punched the other man.
“Run,” Dylan yelled to the woman even as he ducked a blow from his opponent. She didn’t hesitate, taking off toward the hotel. The fight was intense, confusing Dylan for a second as the ground rumbled beneath his feet. He went to land a right hook on the other guy’s jaw, but realized that he wasn’t moving. None of them were. He spun around, unable to believe what his mind was telling him. Nothing was moving. No cars in the parking lot. Not Spike. Not the girl. Fear clutched at him. His belly twisted in agony at the possibilities.
“Hello Dylan,” a feminine voice called from behind him.
He turned to find Marguerite. She seemed to glow from within, and he shook his head.
“Forget it; I’m done playing your games.”
“I’m not the First,” she said, with a smile. “I’m the woman who once loved you so much,” she glanced away. “And didn’t understand at the time what I did to you. I was wrong, baby.” She said, turning to look into his eyes again. “I’ve been given this chance to come back to talk to you…to give us both a chance.”
“A chance for what?” Dylan asked, suspiciously. He still wasn’t convinced this wasn’t the First, playing another game with his head. If it weren’t for the fact that the world appeared to have stopped, he would have taken off. He looked around hoping that things were the way they were supposed to be again. They weren’t. He sighed, looking back at the woman, claiming to be Marguerite. “So, are you going to explain or are we standing here all night?”
“Always the smart ass,” she replied. “Haven’t changed a bit, have you? But then you have…haven’t you? Maybe realized that life isn’t so black and white…that maybe you aren’t as isolated as you once thought.”
“Look, quit the mumbo jumbo, and get down to whatever fucking deal you’ve come to offer me.”
“All right, if you want straight talk, I’ll give it to you,” Marguerite said in that tone of voice that once sent his former thirteen-year-old self in a state of terror. It was that tone that got him out into the streets that first night to work. “I’ve been given a chance to redeem us both. The world is either going to be given a second chance tonight, or the gates of hell will open to allow the demons free reign. You are one of the ones chosen to decide if it will happen or not. Your sin is lust. Lust for a man who is married, lust for the easy life, and let’s face it, kiddo, just plain fucking lust. You have a choice. Do you continue to allow this lust to rule you, and let hell on earth happen? Or do you decide that love is better? I’ve been sent to ask you a question.”
“What’s that?” Dylan asked, taking a step toward Spike without thinking about it. The comfort and protection he provided innately, was something Dylan needed at the moment.
“Will you die for him?”
Spike poured all the anger, betrayal and hurt on the man before him. Spike didn’t care that the man wasn’t fighting back any longer. All he could see was Max’s face…with painful thoughts that his friend was the one with his wife tonight. He didn’t know how he knew, but somehow he did. Buffy wasn’t answering her phone, and neither was Max. Moreover, he knew Buffy enough to know that she wouldn’t go to a stranger for comfort. It wouldn’t be sex she would be after, but love. The love she didn’t think he had for her anymore. It hurt like hell, and Spike drew his fist back to hit the man again, when it became clear. The guy really wasn’t moving…not at all.
He jumped to his feet, looking for Dylan, and realized that nothing was moving. It was like the earthquake had changed everything or rather stopped everything. He rubbed his eyes, trying to remember exactly how many whiskey shots he’d had at dinner.
“It’s real, Spike.”
Opening his eyes, he saw her, and he smiled. His hunch was true, and it broke his heart a little more.
“Hello, Faith,” Spike said. “You’ve returned…my lady in white.”
“Yep, you’re at one of those crossroads again,” she replied, with a shrug. “So, here I am. And yo, check this out. You’re going to like this one.”
Faith was grinning as she stepped back. Her arms spread out on either side of her as she turned her face toward the sky. It was as if someone turned on a switch as a cloud of light wrapped around her, and then from behind her wings appeared.
“You really are an angel.”
“Aren’t they cool? Got them thanks to you,” Faith explained. “Got the vampire all fixed up with a little humanity and voila I got my wings.”
“Glad I could help,” Spike said, with a snicker. “Buffy’s going to flip over this…oh, shit…Max.” This was the reason she wouldn’t give into a relationship with Max. “You don’t get to stay?”
“Not this time, buddy,” Faith said, with a shake of her head. “When I heard about what was going to go down with the First, I asked if I could help. The powers gave me some time on earth to help you all out, see if I could throw a little influence your way, and then be your guide again. I’ve got to go back after we’re done with our little talk.”
“Damn it.” Spike rolled his head; wishing things could have been different. “If only I hadn’t had to pee, I’d probably be getting laid right now.”
“You can’t change things,” Faith said, a little gentler and a little more seriously. “Just how you react to them.”
“So, lay it on me, Faith. What’s the big choice now?”
“First you have to realize why I’m here.”
“Because I’m a blood-sucking, adulterous bastard who can’t put his wife first?”
“Eh, somewhere in there is a little truth,” Faith said, with a smile. It quickly faded. “Maybe you just want it all…wanting too much is as bad as not doing enough.”
“All I want is a little peace,” Spike said. His hands found their way to his hips as he stared at the ground. His admission was a little startling even to himself, much less to anyone around him. Since coming to Sunnydale, back in the beginning, life was a constant challenge. Something his demon thrived on, the challenge of beating the slayer, and then loving her. Now, though he was tired. He looked up at Faith. “Yeah, a little peace…with someone…Buffy,” he hesitated as his glance went almost unbidden toward Dylan. Guilt wound through his heart, but he couldn’t deny the truth. Dylan wanted him. It was simple. Spike wouldn’t have to prove his intentions, always be wondering what damn trouble was next. He sighed. He didn’t love Dylan, or did he? All he could see was Buffy’s face until he blinked forcing her away. “I just don’t want this fucking soap opera anymore.”
“You had it, Spike. You denied everything you were feeling, suppressed almost every emotion until you were a robot,” Faith said. “Buffy knew it. It’s why she sent you away again. She knew choices needed to be made, and you would never make them if you were clinging to the Ward Cleaver mentality.”
“I thought it had something to do with the great battle that’s coming?”
“This is it. In the end, the world turns on choices. Do we do good or bad? Do we have faith or drown in despair? Do we love…or do we hate? It’s kind of simple. You get a choice, and based on your decision of what you want, the world either gets a second chance or it goes to hell. Literally.”
“So, what’s my choice?” Spike asked. If the world was counting on him to keep it safe, it was pretty much doomed. He was about as fucked up as they came, constantly at war with his demon, an ex-poet loser who still wanted that romantic, forever kind of love, and the man who was a little of both who never could figure out who to listen to when it came to behavior.
“It’s not like it’s an algebra problem,” Faith replied. “Before I can ask, you have to understand your sin.”
“You make it sound like I only have one,” Spike retorted. “You should have brought Buffy. She could just hand you a grocery list of everything I do wrong.”
“And she can write a list of everything she loves about you, too.”
“See, told you I was right bloody arsehole.”
“Why do you keep insulting yourself? So, that you can make what seems like the easier choice? Blame Buffy for not loving you the way you wanted her to, and then claim she’s the one who ruined the marriage because she ran to Max, so that you can go off with Dylan. It seems so, well down right romantic, doesn’t it? A guy who adores you, you can love and fuck, drink with and fight with while never settling down again. Just like the good old days…oh excuse me,” Faith said, snapping her fingers. “You hated the good old days.”
“Sometimes you really irk me,” Spike retorted. “The only problem is that you’re right. Great fantasy, but then there’s reality.”
“So, what’s it going to be, Spike? Is your selfishness going to make you take off with Dylan so that life can be one big funfest, or are you going to be the man you’re supposed to be? You know the one who does the right thing by his wife, and kids, and the life he’s supposed to be living without resentment or regret?”
“I’m selfish,” Spike argued, when he knew he should shut up and do this big self-evaluation thing. He threw his arms out as he started to walk around. “What about everyone else? What about Buffy? I’m supposed to take her back after she went to Max. She’s cheating on me, and this is my sin. She knows you love Max,” he stopped to look at Faith. “You do love Max, right?”
“Yeah, but will never happen,” Faith replied. “I’ve got a return ticket if you’ll ever get on with this.”
“But I’m the selfish one,” Spike muttered, almost as if Faith didn’t reply. “She takes the kids, and runs off on me, but I’m the guilty party…”
“Yo, man, shut up,” Faith finally interrupted his tirade. “This is about you, and not Buffy. Quit listing her faults and look at your own.” She shook her head, casting her eyes heavenward. “I volunteered for this, didn’t I? Silly I thought I could help out a vampire.”
Spike stepped back so that he was standing in front of Faith. “My sins are selfishness and greed, right? Selfish because I want Buffy to love me without any doubts, to love me in the way I fantasized about being loved when I was human, to be my everything the way Dru was, and it will never happen. She’s just…well, my little fucked up and over Buffy who’s scared to death of waking up in the morning alone.” He hung his head, running his fingers through his hair. “And instead of worshipping her with an open heart, I want to run off with someone who will give me that adoration.”
“I think you need to answer the question,” Faith said. “All this self analysis is delaying the process here. Do you want to rule the world with Dylan, or do you just want to be a man?”
to be continued…