'Til the End
Angel walked across the damp grass toward his child. High overhead a hover buzzed, and Angel flinched as the high-pitched sound pierced his head. Spike hadn't flinched or even moved from the stone bench where he sat with an unlit cigarette dangling from one hand. Moving slowly so he didn't surprise Spike, Angel took a seat next to his last surviving family.
"I didn't know if you'd come," Angel said to the night air.
"Oi, always come when the world's ending, don't I then?"
"Yeah, you do," Angel agreed. Since he couldn't think of anything else to say, the silence filled the air between them.
"You think he's..." Spike waved a hand toward the stars, and Angel instantly understood.
"He earned it," Angel said noncommittally.
"He bloody earned the right to live. My boy didn't get that," Spike hissed angrily as he went into game face and snarled at the one enemy he couldn't fight, the one enemy that had taken Xander from him.
"Your boy was nearly 200 and a cranky old man before he died," Angel pointed out logically. "You can't fight time… or human mortality."
"He was still my boy." Spike's grief didn't follow any logic, but then Spike's grief never had. A hundred years of grieving hadn't eased the pain at all. That's how Angel knew that this grave would be the first place Spike would visit when he came back to L.A. Angel could feel the pull to comfort his childe, but this time he couldn't. He couldn't comfort Spike, and he couldn't tell Spike what the powers had in store for him. Angel's own grief at the thought of losing his last family nearly ripped him apart, and he masked a near sob under a deep and brooding sigh.
"Right then, who's the soddin' Big Bad this time?" Spike finally demanded grimly, his grief once again tucked away under layers of defensiveness and anger and violence.
"Hurka demons teamed up with Wolf and Ram's new front man."
"Bloody hell. Thought those bastards were all dead."
"The hurka or the senior partners?" Angel asked curiously.
"The hurka, you ponce. Never will get rid of the senior partners." Spike voice sounded brittle and harsh.
"Got rid of Hart," Angel pointed out.
"Yeah, and how many good fighters went under that time? Didn't even slow the other two bastards down." Spike stood up and started walking toward Angel's car. Angel followed silently since he didn't have an answer to that, although the losses he was about to suffer bothered him more.
"Who's that?" Spike demanded, and Angel looked over to see the small woman watching curiously. She leaned against the brick wall of the cemetery and her eyes went from Spike to Angel.
"The Powers sent her. We aren't going to get through this one without help," Angel said.
"Yeah, right. Like that slip of a girl could help anyone," Spike snorted. Angel looked toward the figure with an unbiased eye, and he had to admit her small frame and short mousy hair didn't exactly strike fear in anyone's heart.
"Appearances can be deceiving," Angel said as he tried not to look at the figure that watched them with morbid curiosity. Angel passed Spike as he got into the car. After several seconds, Spike got in the passenger side.
"Strange bird," was Spike's judgment on the figure that continued to watch as Angel pulled away from the curb.
"You could say that," Angel agreed.
The fight had gone better than Angel had any right to expect. Fei-lin had gone under to a trio of vampires, but Spike had ripped a piece of corrugated metal from the construction site office and decapitated all three demons. The Power that Be's representative darted between demon bodies stabbing and slicing with far more skill and grace than Angel ever expected.
With all of the herka and most of the vampires dead, Angel was just starting to think that the Powers had been wrong this time. Then a vampire raised his weapon and trained the laser on the small girl who had brought the message to Angel. The light flashed, and the girl's mouth opened in a silent scream as the scent of burned flesh blossomed.
Intellectually, Angel knew this had been part of the plan. She couldn't exactly start her journey of reincarnation without dying, but seeing her hand fly up into the air and her body start collapsing backwards, Angel froze in horror with his sword half raised.
In the background, Angel could hear someone yell his name, and he started to turn, his body locked in slow motion as a blond streak slammed into him from the side. As Angel fell to the ground, he watched as the fire from the laser cut into Spike's stomach, those wide blue eyes flashing yellow as the demon rose in response to the pain.
Spike continued to fall sideways after hitting Angel, and Angel grabbed for his childe's outstretched hand, desperate to touch him one last time as the laser swept up the stomach and hit the vulnerable heart. As the fire destroyed his heart, Spike's shocked face went grey and then the flesh disintegrated into ashy particles as Angel reached out.
Angel's hand touched Spike's outstretched hand just in time to feel the skeletal fingers slide over his flesh before the skeleton followed the flesh and Spike became a cloud of dust that exploded outward and then slowly drifted down to earth.
"No!" Angel cried out as he fell forward to the cold ground, the ashes of his childe scattered on the ground under him. Angel turned toward the armed vampire, but the killer had become one more pile of dust with Kevin standing over him with a stake and a vicious expression. The wind tickled through Angel's hair, and he felt the ashes still and the cold tears escape his eyes as his demon screamed in pain at losing the last of his clan.
Not even trying to control the tears, Angel pushed himself up off the ground and went to where the Power's representative, the one who had convinced him this was the only way, lay dying herself. Her intestines were visible through the charred and burnt remains of her stomach.
"Tell me again this is worth it," Angel said in a tight voice.
"Hey, I gave up heaven for this," the girl gasped and then shivered in pain.
"Tell me it's worth it," Angel repeated, his pain rising up until he saw the world through the yellowish tint of his demon vision.
"He promised me 'til the end,'" she gasped. "If heaven won't have a demon, we'll have to make Earth work because he's not getting out of that promise."
"Tell me you'll find him, that you'll take care of him," Angel begged. He needed to hear it.
"Every single damn lifetime," she promised with a final hiss of pain as her body fell back against the cold ground.
"Since you gave up resting in peace, I hope you can at least find happiness, Xander," Angel said as he ran his hand over the corpse's eyes to make them close. "Find happiness for both of you."