Prisms Part Six - Red



Oh, I have to get out of here.
I mean I REALLY have to get out of here. It's awful. I come along to offer my services in the hunt not be part of some 'Bonding'. Awful, awful, awful…scary even.
And I'm not jealous. I just want out. Out, find the bad guys, spread them over the tarmac, bid the others a good eve, watch some soaps and get a snooze.
But nnnooooo…I have to hang around and basically be assaulted by 'care bear' antics. It's was almost a relief when the Watcher drags me out of the room. Almost. I can still hear them.Crying, laughing, crying again… a big emotional slug fest. I myself would have preferred a normal slug fest, y'know, the ones involving actual fists.
After waiting for what feels like too damn long I brush past the Watcher, poke my head in the door. They're hugging again. I close my eyes, just can't stand to see.
"Excuse me." I say with my eyes still tightly shut. "I'm going to go outside and have me a smoke. If you should take too much longer I would greatly appreciate it that you bury my ashes with a pack of cigarettes."
From the jumble of hugging humanity I hear Summer's voice.
"You are unconditionally uninvited Spike."
Mumbling "Thank the bloody gods for that." I shut the door.
I catch the Watcher giving me an amused look.
"Kids." I snort.
Exactly three smokes later they join me outside.
Red looks a little better. She's dressed in jeans, and a light jacket. What kind of shirt she's wearing I do not know or care. The Slayer is beside her, like they are glued to each other. I catch a glimpse of Red's hand, the one that's gripping the Slayer's. White knuckled, all the way; they won't be separated easily.
"So." I say. "Shall we depart?"
With a bow I offer to let Red take point and of course all she does is shake her head and huddle up next to Summers. I really shouldn't provoke her. It's just so much fun to do so.

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I should be worried. I've always seen my younger charges as family and the behavior they are exhibiting should make me concerned. Willow seems to have recovered almost completely from her ordeal mere hours after the fact. This is an impossibility and I fear that she will suffer some sort of backlash. Particularly with her accompanying us on this 'mission of vengeance it is almost a certainty.
But I'm not paying much attention to these concerns at the moment. My hands itch far too much for me to concentrate on such matters. They long to be wrapped around the throats of the …things responsible for this night.
I find myself wondering how high I could make them squeal. How loud? And most importantly..how long? The others want the same thing I do. To take the pain and put it inside them, to see their eyes haunted and afraid. But that will never happen, male bravado and their very short lifespan assure that. Or that's how I see things.
It is fascinating. Of the one mind I am still somewhat put off by this whole ring-a-ma-role. Being unsure that I can actually kill someone…again. Many a demon, or vampire, or other agent of supernatural evil has fallen by my hand and I fully expect someday to fall to one of theirs. But the nagging sensation that questions my ability to actually end another humans life is oddly muted though I am fully aware of it's questioning.
"Can you do it Giles?"
"Is it right Giles?"
"Isn't this personal Giles?"
Of the second mind…well that is simple.
"Yes Ripper."
"Yes Ripper."
"Oh yeesss..Ripper."
"G-Man, you alright?" Xander asks me as we left the dorm. "That is a really unpleasant smile you're wearing."
"Oh, er..yes Xander, I'm fine."
The others want their 'pound of flesh' as well. I can tell.
Well, they'll have to stand in line.
Seniority rules and all that.
Just a librarian indeed.

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Won't leave her behind again. Not gonna do it, not gonna happen. She's never going to be alone again, strictly unalone twenty four-seven. Twenty five-eight if needed. Be right there for everything ..everything…her wedding, hell her wedding night..who know's she might fall for a demon or something. Childbirth? Gonna be there. Gonna, gonna, gonna.
I should join the Wiccans too. Can I do that? Being a slayer?
What would that make me?
A Sliccan?
It doesn't matter I will be there, I have to be there. I can't let her get hurt again. I won't let her get hurt like that again. I can't protect her from everything, I'm not that crazy. Paper cuts will happen, stubbed toes too…sharp edges on beer cans..can't stop that kind of stuff but the big stuff…nope. Life is knives and it's foolish to think I can stop all of them. Wouldn't be fantastically healthy either but nothing's gonna cut her like this, never gonna let her get cut this deep again.
Not gonna happen to Willow. Not my Willow.
Won't let her get hurt.
Can't let her get hurt.
Hold her close, protect her always gonna protect her, just like I should have..just like..just..
I have to.
It's not something I have a choice in. I have to protect her because…because…
I have a Secret.

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Ooohh man this is so uncool yet…not. But I can deal, can cope. In the words of a great twentieth century poet I'm 'jiggy with it.'
'Cause I'm gonna kill someone. Several someone's in fact. It'll be odd and I might find that I'm hating myself for some time to come…later. Right now, at this very second I'm pretty sure I'll be hating myself if I don't kill the someone.
The Someone Bunch, being butchered by a Xander near you. Fun for the whole family, let the kiddies tag along. Angst, drama, friendship, tragedy, comedy and vengeance in one little package.
Best of all its's for free.
BYOP…bring your own popcorn.
I don't get it. I can feel it..on my outside. Cold..ruthlessness cold. My face is set in stone and I don't think I could giggle if Barney walked out in front of me and got hit by truck. It's sliding over my skin like a..a…second..skin..and..
Start over.
It's sliding over my skin like ..THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING..no..thinking about!!
I'm ready to put my fist through someone's head. I have no weapons that's about the only thing I can do, unless I pick something up along the way. I know I can do it… There's this absolute resoluteness to the whole way I'm feeling, it's almost surreal. Yet here…right here I'm babbling and tossing stupid jokes..to who? Honestly I ask you is there anyone else around in here?
And Buffy would respond 'Thump, thump, hollow sound.'
Or she would…if I said anything. But even if I said anything now the most I'd probably get is a pained smile. From Willow.
Buffy's so wrapped up IN Willow that I doubt she'd snap too if The Master and Angelus drifted by doing the Cha-Cha. I mean…look at her..just LOOK AT HER. She's not looking where we're going just drifting down the street eyes on Willow who's eyes are on Buffy who's eyes are of Willow who's eyes…
I'm feeling left out.
It's not okay either. Yes we seemed okay in the dorm, yes Willow hugged me and I even managed to almost ignore it when she stiffened just a little bit. It's there and she seems to have bounced back so fast but it's still there. No matter what happens tonight we're just at the beginning and something has…marked us..marked Willow. And we have only begun to feel the impact of it's…it's.. IT'S. The 'It' Spike talked about.
It is still there and It will never not be there again. And I want It not to be..want it so much that I can feel the nails on my tosies rolling up because even they are..
If Moses supposes his toeses are roses then Moses supposes erroneously 'cause Moses toeses aren't bunches of roses as Moses supposes his toeses may be.
I'm going to kill someone tonight and suddenly I am SO very cool with that.

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Didn't take too long.
To find the place where 'it' happened. Bloody figures too. Right in someone back yard. I could smell it. Same thing I smelled on her.
We all know it at almost the exact same time, me because of my senses and the others because Red just freezes solid. She hadn't been looking where we were, her eyes had been on the Almighty Slayer the entire time. I knew a split second before she did when she happens to glance up from her 'adoring gaze', she looks up, took in the scenery and …statue time.
She just stands straight, stiff as a board eyes wide open. Under full moon her green eyes really stood out. Red hair and the green eyes…rather angel like. Whoever they were I couldn't begrudge them their taste in women.
Tsk tsk William, such thoughts.
Bad boy.
Buffy just grabs the Witch, turns her around and pulls her into yet another hug. Good lord, why not just ask for some thread and a needle, I'd happily sew the two of you together. Xander too joins the little huddle but does not actually touch the two women leaving the Watcher standing behind them looking uncomfortable.
"Wait here." I say. "I'll be right back." And vanish into the darkness.
It's a back yard. Small suburban house, sun deck, round pool for the kiddies. Lights on in the windows too. Whoever was inside that house probably heard. Didn't do anything obviously.
None of our business they think.
Doesn't really matter they think.
I move them to the top of the list of people I plan to use as munchies before going after the Slayer after I get this chip removed. A warm up exercise. I find the spot where the rape took place. Yes it was a rape, sanitizing the word by replacing it with 'it's and 'that's' is a bloody waste of time. Doesn't change anything and probably winds up causing more pain in the long run.
Mental note: Refer to the rape as 'it' from here on out.
My my, a heady experience. I'm getting quite a buzz from being in the vicinity.
Willow was obviously here and ..ah..our two friends. Defiantly two. Such pain in the air as well.
It's almost palatable. Some poltergeist will make it a lovely home someday.
I backtrack the scent and follow it around the house to the sidewalk. Then I turn around and return to the Huggabunch. Summers is still comforting Red who was is staring into space, not really home at all. Can't say as I blame her as much, if this was home I'd want to be somewhere else too.
"I found the trail." I say. "We can go around."
Buffy nods and carefully leads the Witch away from her personal Hellmouth.
Ooo, I like that, 'Personal Hellmouth'. Going to have to remember that one.

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We leave the house behind. I mark it in my memory with a mental note to return one night with a can of gasoline. Burn it to the ground, just ..all of it. Leave nothing behind, nothing to remain as a landmark to my..yes..yes..daughter is the right word..my daughters pain. The people inside are just as responsible for this tragedy as those we hunt right now. Restitution demands payment.
I believe Churchill said it best. 'For Evil to triumph it requires only that good men do nothing.'
Come now Giles, I mentally chide myself, you cannot really expect to burn someone's house down, possibly put their entire family in dire peril just to satisfy your baser instincts. Just because they were cowardly wretches who no doubt listened to the screams of a girl lost and did nothing. Just because these are the people me and mine have risked our lives, our very souls to protect. No, I couldn't do anything so rash.
'Ah,' I hear Ripper. 'But I can.'
Oh..well..yes..yes that is true I suppose.

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"You know they probably heard everything."
I look up from my musing to see Spike strolling next to me.
"The people in the house where Red was..um…entertained. They probably heard everything. Didn't do lickity though. Typical humans. Shame really, maybe could have prevented the whole thing."
He shrugs. "Guess we'll never know now. Hey Xand-Man, where ya goin'?
I glare over my shoulder at him. "Why to sell some girl scout cookies Spike-Baby."
He reaches over and lazily hoists me off the ground with one hand. "Cool yer' jets Harris. They'll get what's comings to them. In fact.." His features shift and all pretense at humanity he has are just..we call it a vamps 'Game Face' but it's not really a funny game. I'd actually like my money back. Please.
"Payback's a bitch!" he says through his fangs.
"And just how will you, oh Chippified one, be able to enact said payback?" I mumble, I am painfully aware that my toes are a good six inches off the ground.
"A temporary condition I assure you." Spike says and drops me, resuming his normal appearance. He sounds somewhat grumpy all of a sudden, like his fun time didn't go as he had hoped.
Good.
I look at Buffy and Willow. The Buffmiester has one arm around Willow's waist, can't hear what she's saying, it could be nothing, could be everything...so long as it distracts Willow. Don't let her see, don't let her feel. I suppose that's an all right thing, no it is an all right thing.
Still can't help but feel a little left out again though. When did I lose base with them anyway? High school? They're roommate now so I guess there is something about living with someone that I can't compete with..not that we're competing.
My place is here, at the front. Right, I can believe that. The avenging male warrior going out to see the things done wrong put right. That's me, the ..already used warrior..and avenger..the um..Neanderthal.
Oh man.

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The scent is very clear now. Leads right to where I thought it would. A little, nothing, ramshackle hole-in-wall establishment. Only one actual window, the others are boarded over, a flurry of neon signs outside all of them having at least one burnt out letter. A large number of moterbikes out front with women of 'questionable origins' hanging all over them.
It's like coming home.
"In there." I point.
Buffy, hey she actually managed to pry herself away from the Witch; funny I didn't see anyone with a crowbar, comes up beside me.
"You sure?" She asks.
"Positive. The scent backtracks here from the ..place. Returns here too. Seems, whoever they are, had a little something to drink, sought out some 'entertainment' and came back to 'relive the highlights' I'd wager."
"They still there?"
"No scent to say otherwise."
She reaches up and pats me on my head. "Good boy, Scooby."
Being characteristicly the modest chap that I am let it pass over me though I will confess images of slayer corpses in various states of decomposition do swim invitingly in front of my eyes.
Instead of giving in to the urge to snarl, just this once, I simply look at her with raised eyebrows.
"Biscuit?"
"What?" She looks confused now.
"I want a biscuit. You said 'good boy' now, give me a biscuit."
"I uh..don't have a biscuit." From behind I can hear Red give a small giggle. She is a strong lass isn't she?
"Fine then." I say striding toward the entrance. "You're buying the beer."
I enter ahead of them in case the crowd at the door gets a little…uppity. What timing, it would seem one of women of unsure morals has damaged the zipper on her leather vest. The rest seem to be distracted, a perfect entrance if I ever saw one.
The inside definitely brings back memories. A well lit bar runs along one side of the room with several decades of various carving on it's surface. The liquid in the bottles is probably fatal and the 'bartender' even more so. Despite the lights the corners of the room are shadowed with the only other light source being the one over the pool table. It would be remiss to not have a heavy cloud of cigarette smoke. Any youngling childe would probably pass out from the overwhelming load on the senses if the call of so much blood didn't knock them ass over teakettle first. The fact that I can't have any of it does make me cranky.
The rest come up behind me, walking in a protective circle with Red at the center who is again, looking frightened and very pale. One extreme to the other chippie? You really should settle on a median and stick with it.
"Well?" Buffy nudges me. "Where are they?"
Oh dear.
She's got that look in her eye that does not bode well for anyone on the receiving end of her anger. Or anyone in a five mile radius. I carefully glance downward and see she still is holding hands with the Witch; a very tight grip, any bit more and Red will be suffering from not only a broken spirit but a broken hand.
I lean over and whisper into the Slayer's ear. "First off Summers, this will take a few minutes as there are a hell of lot of conflicting smells to sort through. Secondly, you might want to ease off on the pressure for Red back there, I'm not quite sure she'd appreciate having her hand ground to powder."
She shoots me an angry look but lets up the pressure a tad. I think. I look back at Red and it doesn't look like she's noticed. She's standing absolutely rigid, eyes really, wide. This is a guess but I figure if I used my full vampiric strength I might be able to slip a piece of paper in between her and the Slayer.
Bringing her here was a bad idea.
"Hey, Red..you in there?" I wave my hand in front of her face and she blinks a few times.
"You sure you up to this Red?" I ask again still waving my hand in her face then, with a speed I cannot help but envy, she grabs my hand.
"It's..cold." She whispers.
"Well, yeah..that's because it's dead."
"Cold and..hard…strong right? Can grow big long talons that can carve through flesh..right?"
I nod slowly, I can feel Summers's eyes boring into me. This is very bad.
"That's right Red." I say in what I hope is a soothing tone. Haven't had to use one in fifty years.
"Very strong, very cold and it can and has done many terrible things in it's history of being attached to my wrist."
Red just looks at me for a second before letting my hand drop.
"Good." She leans forward and whispers in my ear. "That means it won't turn into a pillow and try and drown me."
Bloody hell!
The Witch turns back to Buffy. "Can we sit down? My..I'm feeling kind of tired."
You're not the only one Red.
"There's a booth over here Wills" Xander says.
"Not there Harris, it's too far back. That one," And I point to a booth near the open window.
"Air currents will let me find em' fast too."
"Whatever man, you're the bloodhound."
"You have no idea."

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It has been many, many years since I was last in an 'establishment' such as this. Wonderful how quickly it all comes back. Like riding a bicycle. We ease ourselves into our seats. Buffy and Willow sit across from us, the two of them doing their utmost to remain in physical contact at all times. Buffy hasn't said anything since we left the dorm, except to whisper to Willow and demand results from Spike, the rest of us may as well not even be here.
I know where she is right now. What Xander playfully refers to as 'Slayer-Mode'. Everything except what she considers her responsibility is..outside her scope of caring. If it furthers her end goals she'll speak aloud but other than that we simply do not exist. I should speak up, should say how this does not involve her actual Slayer duties. I would be well within my rights to even insist she not even be here and instead be out patrolling or researching some evil. At the very least resting up for whatever ever real challenge my yet be coming.
I doubt I'd survive the experience.
It doesn't matter much though. I'm where she is too. An empty place that keeps the waves of…I'm not poetic enough for this. What matter though is that I can relate to what she is..what everyone is ..not feeling. Better put, not allowing themselves to feel. We are all so far beyond a typical 'Watcher-Slayer' situation. We are family and one of our family has been injured.
Therefore we are acting as a family, gathering together for support and, going out to ...what was the line from that horrible movie they made me watch? 'Kick ass and chew bubblegum. And we're all outta' gum.'
Spike has returned. He's carrying a platter with five empty glasses and a pitcher of beer.
"I know, this stuff is probably horrible but help yourselves. It hasn't killed me yet."
He slides in the seat next to Buffy.
"We're not here to drink Spike!" Xander snaps.
"True, true." Spike lights up a cigarette and takes a long drag before continuing. "But other people do, and we stand out bad enough as it is. So, try and fit in."
"He's right." I say. "We should try and 'fit in' as it were." And I reach for the pitcher.
"Would yoo like a pint of bitter guvna'?" Spike says doing a terrible mimicry of a cockny accent. I ignore him and pour beer into separate glasses. Xander grabs his and takes a swallow while Buffy picks up two of the glasses, one for herself and the other she places in front of Willow. I reach for my own glass and take sip. Part of my mind absently informs me this is the worst beer I've ever tasted. The majority of it doesn't care so I take another sip.
Buffy hasn't touched her own and Willow is simply looking at the Slayer's hand clasped in her lap.
No one says anything. Just sit and wait for Spike to tell us he's found them.

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Why are we here? We should be back in the dorm, I should be holding her and ..and maybe singing her a lullaby so she can sleep. My mom knew some wonderful lullabies and she'd sing them to me when I couldn't sleep, when I was convinced there were monsters under the bed and they wanted to get me.
I've fucked up so badly.
We all know now, and have for some time, that the monsters under the bed were and are real. I've tried my best to keep them away from my friends, okay, I've messed up sometimes but this...
Why her? Why someone as innocent and caring as Willow? Why not..why not me? I could handle it, hell, they wouldn't have gotten a hand on me..I would have scattered them and ..and..I…
Will not cry..not here. Damnit exercise some control Summers.
She's looking at me. She's not accusing me with her eyes…she's..she's..worried about me.. I don't..I don't..deserve her concern. I failed her I should have been there and now she's hurt and she's worried about me..damnit I will not cry!
I grab my glass and swallow half of the beer. Eww..that is really bad tasting stuff.
She's still looking at me. Guess I'm the staked one now.
She reaches out with one hand and slowly brushes some of the hair out my eyes. "It's not your fault." She murmurs. I can feel the others eyes on us and my instinct to run, to just grab Willow and go through a wall if needed, is almost all consuming.
I open my mouth to ..to..get her to shut up ..to stop being nice to me to..to start accusing me or..get her angry or something! Something I can handle..something I can use to beat myself up with. Something I deserve but she cuts me off.
"It's not your fault." She says again before taking my hand, the one still resting in her lap. "We'll talk about it later."
Now I'm wondering just who might wind up singing lullabies to whom when this is all over. When did I become the protected one?
"That was a true Hallmark moment."
I really have to kill Spike one of these days.

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Cold glass is burning into my hand. Hurts a bit but nothing 'The Xander' can't handle. Nope, no problems here. The problems are over there. With Willow and Buffy. They're close..too close. Air would have a hard time getting in with how protective Buffy is being.
It's not fair. I've known Willow far longer than her, I was there for Willow for years when it was us against the entire Sunnydale Youth Population of Doom. We even dated! Alright we were five but that still counts for something. And now, neither of them are even looking at me.
Hey! Over here! That's right!! Friend here..friend me.. Me am good friend too. Hello!! Anyone noticing me? Bipedal? Dark haired? Known for a rather bizarre sense of humor and an inability to keep my mouth shut? Undeniably male?
Of course that's the problem now isn't it. They're not ignoring me because of who I am, they're ignoring all of us because of what we are.
Penile enhanced life forms.
And I don't know who to be angry at. The..er..them because of what they did, Willow and Buffy for starting to distrust me simply because of what I have..all right that was nursery school thinking if there ever was any. What next, I've got an outty?
I think I'll blame the proverbial 'them'. The trust between Willow and myself, why not add in the whole crew, the bond between the entire gang has been thrown into turmoil cause of them.
'Cause of what they did. Soon as Spike finds 'em for us they will no longer be proverbial. They will merely be 'ex' as in an 'ex-them.'
Buffy's asking Spike again if he's got which person in this dive are the ones we want.
He's saying no.
He's lying. I know I can tell. It's that little smirk he's got. A little 'whoops' and the corner of his mouth up tilts a good ninety degrees. Aaannnddd..now he's looking at me..sure..wiggle those eyebrows Spike..way to be cool.
Ok, so he knows I know he's lying and that means…I have no idea. I could tell Buffy ..but that ..probably wouldn't do any good so I guess I'll sit here and..
Work on my art.
Shit.

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Caught Harris giving me the hairy eyeball. Guess he know's I'm fibbing. Course I'm fibbing. I locked onto the prey the second we walked in the place. I'm just having so much fun right now.
Yes, granted what happened to the chit was a 'real tragedy and something should never have happened to anyone like her.' I'll agree with that..something like that shouldn't happen to her.
Something like ME should happen to Glinda, good witch or the South.
No..that's not fair. She's hurtin'. Poor kid. Hurtin' really bad and I just can't bring myself to wanna hurt her right now. Wait till she's happy again.
THEN hurt her.
That'll work.
For now just..lounge back, enjoy the thrill of the hunt and let's listen in to our boys behind us.
Yes that's right, they're behind us.
That's why I wanted this booth. So I could eavesdrop maybe pick of a few pointers.
I'm just kidding.
But I am listening… over the dull drone no one but vampy ears could pick it up..sometimes it's really good to be dead.
"…and her eyes, man did you see how big they got when I.."
"I hear ya and what about…"
"… God that was the best! Sure screamed a lot though."
"Gonna have a headache for a week. Still, that was a kick ass time no?"
"Indeed man. Too good to pass up a second time."
"Say what?"
"I know of her man, on the campus? I know where she lives.."
"Yeah…so?"
"We could pay her a visit…few nights from now..never expect it."
"Mmm..nah..nah..too risky."
"I'd risk anything to get my hands on those…"
"Alright, alright you talked me into it."
"Pussy."
"Shut up and buy the beer."
"Spike…Spike…SPIKE!!"
I snap back.. Summers is poking me on the shoulder. "What?" I growl.
"You were going vampy you moron." She snarls back.
She's right. I can feel my fangs receding, damn don't tell me ..I was getting angry again.
Alright ..so I was getting angry, big deal. Those two went into my territory. Everyone knows that Buffy and Co. are mine. So you touch what's mine I rip off the offending limb off and beat you to death with it.
I have got to lay off the movies.
It's not like I care or anything.
"They're behind us."
"What? It took you this long to figure out they were behind us?" Buffy challenges me.
"He knew where they were the second we got here." Giles now. Great..gang up on ol'Spikey time.
"Then why…"
"Because he was probably getting off listening in to em', laughing his dead-white ass off I'll bet." Xander. Boy's sharper than he looks.
I turn my head to see Buffy's blue eyes carving into my own. If looks could kill..I wouldn't notice.
Willow isn't even looking at us though. One hand still holds the Slayers own in a death grip while with the fingers of her other hand she's tracing the loops and whirls of various carvings in the table top.
"You're a pig Spike." Summers gets out through clenched teeth.
"Hey now Baby, they're right to a point. I did know where they were and I did listen in..normally I would happily confess to enjoying anything they might have had to share. I'm a BAD GUY, Slayer..I would think you might understand what that means by now. However this is not 'regular' circumstances and I was not 'getting my jollies' either."
I hunch forward and bring my face mere centimeters from the Slayer's ear.
"I listened, " I whisper..I can smell her breath..hear it shuddering in and out of her lungs, she's hanging with less of a threat than Red back there. Hmm..wheels within wheels. "I listened because it will make them taste that much sweeter when we carve out their hearts."
I pause.
"I listened to feed my anger."
She turns into my gaze and our eyes lock again. I can see the sparks dancing between us but I'm not fool enough to think these are some twisted form of attraction. These are sparks that will one day ignite and consume us both.
"And is your anger full?" She says back just as quietly.
I lean back out of the challenge and shrug. "I suppose." I say before grinning.
"We'll wait for them outside then." She announces to the group.
Harris and the Watcher simply nod before sliding out of the booth, I turn to see Summers again staring at me. Of course..she wants me to move.
I entertain the thought of ignoring her but..no..I've had my fun.
With a put upon sigh I ease out and let the two girls, still holding hands I notice, past. All four of them turn as one and head for the entrance. I sit back down and kill my drink. Reach over and kill Red's too.
Ugh..mental note: Eat the bartender.

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Why am I here? I said I wanted to find them and I thought I did at the time. But now..now they're right here! Ok not 'right here' right here but about twenty feet away. Inside that..place. We've been waiting for nearly half an hour. It's dark here. Lots off alleyways twisting around to meet here. Perfect hunting grounds, it's too bad I don't feel anything like a hunter.
It's so dark. I'm beginning to wonder if the sun will ever come back.
They're right here! And I can ..I can.. no..No don't think about it. Can't think about it, won't think about..cloth..tearing and..how my throat is sore from screaming and how..I .hurt..and…
I'm thinking about it.
Stop.
Think about..yeah..think about Buffy. She's safe to think about. Big, strong, Slayer Buffy. She's gonna kick their butts and..make em' hurt and..make em' um..hurt some more
and..how..how..how that'll not make anything better. Cause she's not big strong Buffy. She's hurting too, she thinks she failed somehow but ..she has to understand ... How can she understand when I don't even understand.
Xander, poor Xander he's trying so hard to be strong. I can tell he's feeling abandoned and we..I don't mean to do that. I just need..some..thing..time maybe. Just..get..something or..maybe..I DON'T KNOW!! I hugged him, I hugged him and tried to forgive him for something he had nothing to do with and it's just not working I can't..I can't…why can't I?
I don't know, I don't know..all I know..my Truth..keep that..I know my Truth. They didn't kill it, they didn't kill it..it's there..just..have to wait a little longer that's all. I can feel it inside me..warm..patient. I became strong enough for this truth, no matter the consequences once, I can do it again. I just need..just need.. I still don't know.
Buffy's behind me. Arms wrapped around my shoulders, my own hands holding her forearms like a brace. She's warm too. My Truth and My Slayer. Both really warm…wonder ..I wonder when I'll be able to share the Truth?
Spike whispers from the behind the corner we're standing behind. "They're coming."
They're coming! They're coming and they're going to get me and I'm gonna be screaming and and ..they're gonna tear off..and..gonna..and..Buffy squeezes me tighter.
"You're safe Willow" She whispers in my ear. "Remember my promise? We're going to get them now and you can just watch and if you like, make suggestions okay? You okay with that?"
I nod dumbly, there's a scream logged in my throat..a still born scream and it's stuck!
I swallow..and I swallow again..
"What.." I croak. "What now?"
Giles step forward and almost..almost puts his hand on my shoulder. "Now me." Is all he says before stepping around the corner.
There's silence for a few moment..I want to look..I do..really..I do..I wanna see..but..I turn and nestle in Buffy's embrace instead.
Coward.
Spike steps forward. "Now going to watch Red?" He asks.
I shake my head.
He shrugs. "Your prerogative I suppose. I for one am not going to miss this." And he vanishes around the corner as well.
Not gonna watch, nope…I can still hear though.
"Excuse me gentlemen." That's Giles.
"..eh?"
I hear them..hear them!
Ohmygodohmygod..recognisethatvoiceneverforgetthatvoicetellingmegonnakillmenevergonnaforgetnever Forgetgottarungottahide! Notsafeherenotsafegottaggeeetttttaawwwwaaaayyyy!!!
Buffy…won't let anything happen. She's safe..a harbor..safe..still wanna run. Hear hammering against my ribs..she can probably feel it. I turn my head and look at her. She smiles at me with her eyes.
"You're ok." She whispers. Kisses me on my forehead again. Yeah..yeah I'm okay..still wanna run.
"..what ya say ol' man?"
"Um..I seem to need an answer to a question. Could you help me?"
"Fuggof ol' man can't..right now..get outta da way.."
"Oh it's really a simple question. Please..I'll pay you for your time."
"Don' need no money. Geddoudda way."
"Nah, nah, let him speak...whatz yer question? We be happy to help."
"Do you know what the word 'No' means?"
"What?"
"Huh?"
Sound of fist meeting flesh. Some scuffling, a muffled scream. Another blow..I shudder.
"No." Giles again. "A negative response or a denial."
More sounds of scuffling, someone trying to run away. A loud grunt and now someone is making these deep gasping moans.
"Middle English variant of non, from Old English, none: ne, not."
Another smacking sound, breath whistling from lungs, someone screaming..
"My nose, my nose, you froke my frukin' nose!"
"Used to express refusal, denial.." Someone is beating someone else against the wall, sounds like a pumpkin being hit by a baseball bat. "disbelief, emphasis, or disagreement!" Giles is shouting now and I can still hear the sounds of someone beating someone else to death.
There's silence for a while..just the sounds of heavy breathing. And some moaning noises.
Giles walks around the corner a few moments later. His hair is slightly mussed but other than that he looks fine. He's grinning a little.
He reaches into the break pocket of his shirt and fishes out his glasses. Putting them on he inspects the knuckles on his left hand where already a nasty bruise is already forming.
"That is really going to hurt in the morning." He says. "Xander, your turn."
Xander only nods and steps around the corner. Buffy is still holding me.
"..ey..hey man who are..what the hell ..what..AARGGH!!"
"Put my ..my..frien..OOFF!"
And that's all I hear for the next few minutes. Xander isn't saying anything, he's silent as he dishes out his punishment. Just heavy breathing and sounds of fighting..well..not fighting more like just a one sided beating.
He comes back around the corner just as silently. I can see one of his hands are covered in blood. He notices where I'm looking. "It's mine." He explains. "Caught one of their teeth."
I nod..can feel a whimper coming.. I've never seen Xander like this. Never seen a Xander like this before. He..he scares me. I don't want to be scared of him..why did this happen? Where is my funny, soft Xander? Where did the dark scary one come from and how do I get him to go away?
I guess he can see it 'cause his eyes soften and he gives me one of his infamous 'Hey, it's me' grins.
I ..smile back..kinda. Then he looks over my shoulder at Buffy. His smile went away.
He nods and says "Your turn."
Buffy begins to unwrap her arms from around me and I grab at them.
"Don't go! Don't go!" I say breathlessly.
"Shh..shhh..it's ok..I'll be right back. Xander and Giles will be here, you'll be safe. I'll be right back." Her tone of voice chances from soft to steel. "I just want to see."
I look at Xander and Giles who simply standing there, in the dark. I should feel safe with them and before tonight I never would think otherwise but now..now… I don't want to hurt them though, don't want to hurt them again I mean.
So I lie.
"I..I want to see too."
She pauses again and looks at me for a few very scary seconds. "Okay."
Buffy…
With her hands in mine we walk around the corner together. I get to see them..for the first time I really get to see them.
One is hunched on the ground sobbing, curled up with his hands protecting his groin. Guess Xander ..decided to focus there. The other is wobbling about, using a nearby brick wall to support himself with one arm. His face is a bloody mess. One eye has already swollen shut and blood runs freely from his nose.
Oh yeah, Spike is leaning against a far wall..just watching.
"I have to let you go now okay?" Buffy asks. I nod.
She slowly releases my hands, she has to manually unwrap my fingers from her own 'cause it seems they won't listen to me. I wrap my arms around myself in a poor substitute for one of her own hugs. Spike looks over at me and nods slowly..I just hug myself tighter and try and watch.
She doesn't say anything either. Just drags the one on the ground to his feet and pulls him after her as she goes after the one still trying to drunkenly stagger away. He looks over his shoulder and tries to break into a run but she's on him already.
She's grabbed them each by their throats now and has them pinned against the wall. A streetlight is casting shadows over all off them. She's choking them, I can see her knuckles getting whiter and whiter..she's strong enough to snap their necks but she's dragging this out.
Making it slow.
Their feet are scrabling madly against the wall and their hands clawing at her wrists, seeking purchase..but ..already they're getting weaker..she's choking them and choking them..and..
Her face. Her beautiful, warm, face it's..gone. The light is stark across her features. Cheeks are shallow and drawn like she's on the last bits of strength. Her eyes are wild..furious..I can see insanity warring there and ..and she's lost. Tears are running down her face but she doesn't wipe them away just keeps squeezing tighter and tighter…they're hardly struggling at all now.
Behind them all Spike is slowly applauding.
I can't let this happen! I can't!
"Buffy!!" I scream.
She doesn't seem to hear me for a moment but then..then her head slowly turns toward me..and I can really see her eyes. Lost, sad, hating eyes..hating themselves..sad..so sad eyes..
She smiles, a warm loving smile meant for newborn babies or soft kitty cats nestled against your cheek. I have never seen anything so horrible in my life.
"I'm sorry Willow." She says softly at me. Still smiling. "I know what I said back in the dorm but..I'm sorry."
I'm not fooled by what she's saying.
She's not apologizing.
She's saying goodbye.
Won't lose her..will not! Will not let these two..two..ASSHOLES destroy my family! Not when we've faced the kinds of hell that would have thousand of them screaming in place waiting to be shredded!
I will not!
I WILL NOT!!
"Buffy!" I shout. Not screaming..shouting. She ignores me, she's turned back to watching her two friends..watching them for that last light to flee.
"Buffy! My Truth!" I shout again.
She's looking at me! She can see me..gotta do it..gotta do it..remember Rosenberg, no matter what happens, it's better this way.
"My Truth is for you.." I say. Spikes stops applauding. "My Truth.." and I'm walking toward her slowly, arms stretched out in front of me..hey..I'm crying again.
When did that start?
"My Truth is..Buffy..My Truth is…I love you Buffy."
She just stands there for a second. She's got this little crease between her eyes. That always happens when she's confused. Her head cocks to the side slightly. I can't help but giggle a little.
She looks so cute this way…without the two ..things..half dead against the wall of course.
"I love you Buffy." I say again. "Love..you."
"Willow.." She gasps.
And she lets them go.

**********************************************************************************************************************************
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!
What the HELL is going on?
I came out here to watch a good bit of vengeance, some bloodplay, a little hunting and hopefully cold, hard, murder. Not some proclamation of forbidden love.
Giles was great, beat the tar out of the too little snots and his speech was kinda funny too.
Xander, now that I did not expect. The boy was glorious, so good in fact that when I get this chip out of my head I'm seriously considering turning the little shit. Never expected him to be the quiet type and what a vicious knee..used it like a pro. Cheap shots all the way. Bravo. Five stars.
The Slayer seemed to be doing fine too, just..killing the fuckers slow. A worthwhile endeavor that I was really enjoying and then the Witch here has to go and get a bad case of morals.
Is every power in universe bent on ruining my fun?
Now they're kneeling in front of each, crying, sobbing…holding each others faces wearing the biggest, dumbest grins..at least they're not kissing. I can feel my stomach clenching..if this keeps up I might be the first vampire in the history of the world to puke.
Right. Plan B then.
I put my fingers between my teeth and whistle.

****************************************************************************************************************************************
Well.
Xander seems to be handling that little announcement pretty well. He's just standing there with this very inane smile on his face.
I can't say I'm all that surprised. Combat stress on relationships has been known to cause sudden..shifts. Not to say that she wouldn't have. And what business of is it of mine anyway? I can only be there, be supportive..be a father.
And keep Xander from saying anything stupid.
I take off my glasses and rub my nose. Life just got much more complicated.

**********************************************************************************************************************************
Of course..why didn't I see it before? I'm not being left out I'm just not..um..let's not go there. Alright, I'm shocked and not all of it has sunk in probably. But..what the hell, they're my friends right? So..whatever makes her happy. I guess. Part of my mind is kicking up a storm, saying it's wrong or some other stupid shit, I squash it. Another part is suddenly getting many odd ideas.
I..don't squash that one but I sure as hell am not talking about it.
Oh my God! I have to get this leer of my face somehow or Buffy will KILL me!

**************************************************************************************************************************************
Did she..she did. Wow..I mean..just wow..I never would have guessed. I don't know what to say..I don't even think I have the capacity for speech..how'd I get here anyway? A second ago I was choking two people to death..Willow says she loves me and now I'm on my knees in front of her and we're both crying. But I have no recollection of how I got from point 'A' to point 'B'.
Weird.
I mean..that was..brave of her..and..she saved me. I could feel myself slipping away as I killed them. Losing myself, gone..never would have been who I had been before. I knew all this but it didn't stop me. I couldn't stop.
But she saved me. Willow saved me. My friend saved me..
My friend..and maybe something more.
I'm not quite sure yet. Have to think about it and feel about it but..right now I'm safe.
We both are.
Who's whistling?

*****************************************************************************************************************************************
The two vampires melt out of the shadows behind Buffy. I see them she doesn't. But when my eyes widen in horror she whips around and is on her feet. I can see her hand reaching for a stake..which she doesn't have.
This is bad.
"Ease back Slayer." Spike says coming off the wall. "They're not here for you."
"Spike. When?"
"In the bar, while getting the beer."
"Why?"
"Oh..I don't know, I suppose just in case anyone here went all Chicken Belly on me. I didn't come here for vengeance Summers, I came here for the entertainment value and one way or the other I will have my satisfaction. I paid my dues, putting up with your company and I want my moneys worth."
He turns to the two vamps, game faces on all the way. " Cafeterias behind you boys." He says pointing with a figure. "Chow down."
The two vamps approach the fallen figures of my..attack…..I..of…my…rapists.
The two men are starting to recover, both are rubbing at their throats one swearing endlessly the other crying. I can relate..I know how it feels to cry. I think I'll be knowing for a while. They're kind of lucky..they'll not have to worry about tears after the next…
Both of them manage to get a glimpse of what's coming.
The crying one just starts crying louder as the one vamp grabs his head, exposes the neck and sinks it's fangs in. I think he's calling for his mother.
The other?
"fuck..fuck..Fuck..Fuck..FUCK FUCK FUUUCCCCKKKK!!!!"
Xander and Giles have come around the corner by now, we're all just watching these two vampires feed. No one says anything, I reach out and grab Buffy's hands. I'm still on my knees.
She reaches back blindly and grabs on to me.
I've seen vamps feed before, most of the time it's gentle..in it's own way. Usually the expression of terror on the victims slowly fades away for something..else. This is not like that. This is ugly.
The vampires are not really draining them, they're tearing the blood from the men's bodies.
I can see their throats bob with every swallow and under the harsh light of the streetlamp I can see their pale skin acquiring a slight pinkish tinge. The men's eyes keep bulging out, bigger and bigger but their jaws are slack, one's tongue is hanging out of his mouth..like a slug.
I can't help but wonder if that's the same tongue that was sliding all ove…No!
"That's enough boys." Spike says and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a silver object and with a few deft flicks of his wrist the blade of a butterfly knife gleams in the darkness.
"Let's have those wrists."
One of the vamps throws aside his ..'meal.'
"Screw you Chip boy! I don't want no minions or childe, I'm still hungry and I'm changing the deal. The redhead looks yummy…step aside."
"Jee." Spike says. "Chip Boy..how original." He tosses a look at Xander who just shakes his head.
"Bad move fangy." Xander mutters.
He's right.
Spike puts his hand through the vampires chest, ripping out his heart which explodes into dust a split second before the rest of the vamp follows.
"YES!" Spike cheers. "I finally got to kill something!"
He turns to the remaining vamp.
"Well?"
He..it..whatever..holds out a wrist which Spike slices open. Then grabbing the bleeding limb Spike forces it over the slack jaws of my two assailants. Assailants..I think I can live with that word…
A few drops fall into their mouths before Spike pushes the vamp away.
"That's enough. Get outta here before the Slayer here gets over her new found love affair and remember all that destiny crap."
The vamp snarls at Spike who simply examines his nails for dust particles. The vamp runs away.
Smart vampire, Buffy'll have to track that one down.
Spike walks over to us.
"There." He says. "Problem solved. Wait a few days and you can kill them without any issues regarding morality bouncing around in that pretty head of yours."
"You're still a pig Spike." Buffy says.
"Oink, oink Slayer. I'm feeling to good right now to be bothered by your verbal jabs." He crouches down on the balls of his feet beside me.
"Normally Red I'd be crowing to the moon about how enjoyable it was being involved in something regarding human suffering. I like it, I can't help it and I won't apologize for it. But there are some things even I won't advocate. Yes, I'm a predator and darn well proud of it but it's for food mostly and if I ying and yang my prey about for a bit so much the better, makes it more spicy but there is a line I will not cross."
He idly chucks my chin very lightly with the knuckles of one hand and I can feel Buffy stiffen.
"You'll be okay." He says.
He stands up.
"And in case you're wondering why I really helped you?"
Spike goes away and his demon comes out, "It's because you ..are…MINE!"
And just as quick it's gone.
He smiles cheekily. "Just kidding." Tossing us a salute he walks away into the gloom of the alleyways though his voice drifts back to us from the darkness. "Giles, I'm going to go for another walk. Don't wait up."
Xander leans forward and mumbles to the Watcher. "Can you lock the door?"
"I heard that!"
I am really, really tired.
Buffy pulls me to my feet and I can't help but stare at her..she's so lovely and I've told her how I really feel..and it might not be returned..not now, maybe not ever...but that's okay…as my sisters told me..it's better this way and I think they're right.
"C'mon Willow." Buffy says. "Let's go home, I'll keep the nightmares away."
"Yes." I say. "You will."
And she does.


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