Chapter Seven

Spike stared at the empty space formerly inhabited by Maleficent, wishing she was there and his chains were gone so he could give her the killing she so desperately needed. One with lots of blood staining her oh-so-perfect robes.

However, he had to get out of here first.

Spike examined the situation. He was standing in a dungeon cell empty of all but him, and out beyond into the corridor he didn't see any guards to whistle over and trick into letting him go. So manipulation was out.

Spike gave his chains a few experimental tugs, increasing the force each time. They were as well built as Maleficent had said they were. Spike made a mental note to try and steal himself a set before leaving this place - good chains were hard to come by. Excellent things to have around. Provided, of course, that you were the one doing the chaining and were not the chained. Unfortunately, Spike was currently on the wrong side of the matter.

Having discarded snapping the chains as an escape method, Spike started to study his surroundings a bit more. The dungeon was a bare bones (sorry, Spike thought to the grinning skeleton across the way) affair, with no helpful tools conveniently lying about should he miraculously be able to lean over and pick them up.

The floor was made of a dark, worn stone that showed dips where water had slowly dripped over the years. Nothing particularly useful there. Spike turned his attention to the walls which his chains were bound to. They were built of the same material as the floor, cut into blocks and stacked. The blocks showed the same signs of age as the floor. Nicked and scratched, with chinks showing at the joinings. Hmm. This was a possibility.

Spike twisted himself to study the blocks his chains were mounted on. One had a crack in a lower corner, and the other didn't look much better.

He pulled his chains as far forward as they would go. Then, he rammed his fists backward, striking at the weak points in the stone. It vibrated a little.

"Ow, ow, ow!"

That hurt. He did it again. It hurt even more. Spike repeated the procedure, smashing his fists against the stone in an effort to shatter it and free himself.









The blocks had finally cracked under the pressure. Spike pulled his aching arms forward. Bloody and bruised, he turned to study the wall. The two stone bricks were now a collection of rock shards and dust.

Still manacled, Spike made his way to the hall, wincing as the metal continued to cut into his hands. He hoped he could avoid a fight for a bit. He had probably broken a finger or two at least in each hand, and the rest were turning funny colors. Spike would need to heal a bit before he could throw a proper punch.

Carefully, trying not to make clinking sounds, Spike made his way up the dungeon stairs. No guards. Not a one. Where were they? Maleficent didn't strike him as stupid. Spike warily watched the corridor he was currently sneaking along. He didn't even sense a mouse scurrying along the floor (not that a mouse would dare mar this castle's grounds). Huh. Maybe Maleficent was so confident in her powers that she gave them the night off?

Spike was now by the staircase, the same one he had so ignominiously been captured near before. Not a single fellow creature was in sight. However, Spike heard the faint strains of drums and shouts a ways a way. He crept toward the noise. Spike wanted to make sure he knew what was going on around this castle, so he knew where not to go.

Spike discovered a side room, tucked away from the castle's main hall. In it, the pig-snouts were shouting and squealing and dancing around a big bonfire. So his first guess was right - the guards did have the night off.

Turning, Spike made his way back to the grand staircase, wincing when he dropped the chains and they clanged loudly against the floor. The partying pig-snouts didn't even notice; they just kept howling and dancing. Relieved, Spike continued on his way to find Buffy.

Spike wandered the twisting maze of halls, listening to his instincts that the Slayer was nearby. After an eternity of wrong turns, he finally found a winding tower staircase. Up there, he knew Buffy had to be.

So far, so good. The minions were having their party downstairs and Maleficent was nowhere to be found.

Spike followed each bend and twist in the stairs faithfully, pausing only to rest a moment. Even for a vampire, getting knocked in the head, smashing your hands to pieces intentionally, and then wandering about for who knows how long (all of this without having a good meal in two days) was very tiring. But he still persevered upward. Buffy was waiting for him.

Finally, Spike came to a big stone door at the top of the stairs. With a push, he was able to force it open.

And lying in the moonlight streaming in from the window, was Buffy. She rested on top of satin covers, hands gently folded. Spike half expected a rose tucked in between them. He could hear the steady, quiet beating of her heart and her slow breaths as she slept. She was fine, only resting.

Spike walked slowly, until he stood by her side. Her blond hair spilled about her gracefully; her lips were tilted up in a faint smile. Whatever dream she was in seemed pleasant. Spike smiled at the sight, and hoped he had something to do with it. A hand, encrusted with his dried blood and the manacle still attached dragging onto the sheets, reached out to caress her face.

”Do you really think you will succeed? That you will win her love?"

Maleficent now stood a few feet away. Spike hadn't heard her come in. The dark fairy watched him, her eyes cold. Her grip on her staff was tight, her knuckles an even whiter white than before.

Spike glared at the witch. His demonic face emerged at the presence of a threat, but he made no move to attack.

"Yes, that is the sight you want to greet your true love with. A vampire, covered in blood, standing over her while sleeps, neck exposed. A real Prince Charming," Maleficent remarked mockingly.

Spike stilled. "She knows what I am."

"And that is what she hates. What you are."

"So?" Spike glanced down at the sleeping Buffy. "Better for her to be awake and home and hating me than here."

Maleficent's lips tightened, as she inwardly cursed all the rules those pathetic good fairies had placed on this realm. The vampire's escape had not been noticed (heads would roll for this - didn't those fool minions understand the concept of shifts?) and now that he was in the tower room, her powers were bound from interfering.

But her words were still left.

"She awakes and she'll be whisked away to that little town you so charmingly refer to as Sunnyhell." Maleficent smiled. It was not a comforting sight. "Are you sure you want that? Sure you want your precious Buffy to once again deal with her duties and Glory and all those evils? And I thought you loved her."

Spike ignored her. It had finally occurred to him that if Maleficent was able to do something, she would have done it by now. Instead, he bent his knee and leaned in closer to Buffy. His face softened into its human countenance.

"Listen to me, William, she'll wake up and hate you, and then return to that wretched town and live a wretched life and die! If she stays here, that won't have to happen!" Maleficent was almost pleading now. Her plan had been so perfect - entrap the Slayer in a spell and convince the vampire to betray said Slayer in a most horrific way. But the vampire was not acting like a true vampire at all!

"You will return to that pathetic existence you had enjoyed before if you wake her. Waiting for any crumb the Slayer cares to throw you, despised by your own kind - is that what you really want? Stop this foolishness and I can give you more. The Slayer at your feet, her friends in chains, the ability to kill - "

Spike straightened and turned to her. He opened his mouth. Good. He finally realized the sense in listening to her.

"Would you shut your gob, woman? I'm trying to have a moment here." Then Maleficent could only watch as the vampire knelt by his lady's side, and pressed a gentle, chaste kiss on her lips.

Buffy's eyes fluttered slightly. Soft, cool lips were pressed against hers. Instinctively, she pressed back. They kissed a moment before Buffy opened her eyes fully and saw Spike beside her.

His hair was mussed and more than a little dirty. The hand that rested gently on her own was bruised and covered with blood, little flakes coming off. A chain encircled his wrist and trailed off the bed.

Buffy smiled.

"Um...what's going on and why am I wearing a dress and lying on some big bed?"

"Long story, pet. I'll fill you in later."

Buffy nodded and slowly sat up. She jerked her head to indicate the coldly furious Maleficent. "Who's she?"

"Nobody important. Just your run the mill impotent bitch."

Buffy yawned. "Okay. Just wanted to know. She's turning funny colors."

Spike looked over his shoulder at Maleficent. She was, indeed. Her pale face was flushed with fury and she looked as if she was about to snap her staff in two.

"Huh. Never thought ruining the villain's evil plan would be so much fun."

"Yeah, it's kind of like ruining the good guy's plan, only I don't punch you at the end."

"What do you do then?"

"This." Buffy reached up and kissed him, ignoring the snapping noise in the background.

"This is impossible!" Maleficent shouted at the couple, her fine control broken. "You are the Slayer! You hated him, I saw it in your dream. How did you suddenly come to, to this?" She waved her hand encompassing the entirety of this sickening romance.

Buffy and Spike broke apart for a moment.

"Exactly what did change, love?"

Buffy smiled. "I worked out some issues."

"Oh. Okay. Well, then - " Spike moved to kiss her again.

"Um, Spike, shouldn't we do something about the evil witch lady?"

"Nah, she'll keep." He tried again.

"Spike! Not in front of people."

"I rescue you and this is the thanks I get?" Spike sat back, pouting. Buffy laughed at him and gave him a good natured swipe across the head. Maleficent rolled her eyes and tried not to gag from this nauseating display of goodwill.

"I'll thank you when we get home."

"Is that a promise?" Spike whispered suggestively into her ear. Buffy gave him a playful push.

"Get your mind out of the gutter."

"But it's so fun down there," he whined.

"Let's just figure out to get back to Sunnydale from here. Wherever here is, anyway."

Spike looked around the tower a bit. "Kind of surprised at that myself. Thought that once I kissed you we went poof back to the Magic Box."

In answer to that, a glowing ball of light appeared in the center of the room. Maleficent stepped away in disgust. The light coalesced into Tara.

"Spike, when we get this straightened out, you are so telling me what's going one," Buffy murmured.

"Congratulations, vampire," the Tara fairy said, a gentle smile on her face as she observed the couple. "You have exceeded beyond our expectations.

And you, Slayer. We are pleased to see you awake. It is our hope that what little we have shown you on your behalf will continue to enlighten you."

"What's she talking about?" Spike murmured to Buffy.

"I'll explain later," she whispered back.

Tara now turned to the villain of the peace. "And you, Maleficent. Once again, it is our pleasure to watch you learn the power of true love. Every scheme you concocted failed, every manipulation and every lie was ignored." Tara gave the witch a most minute gloating smirk. Then she smiled, a big joyous one. "Now our part in the tale has ended. The vampire and his Slayer, along with their friends, will be returned from whence they came."

She bowed slightly.

"I bid you adieu."