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Chapter 23
 
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Warnings for this chapter are posted at the end.

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I tiptoed into the mansion, simultaneously thrilled at and dreading what was to come. On one hand, after this, I’d never have to worry about my Sire again. One of us wasn’t going to survive this no matter what, I knew. On the other hand, this was the most danger I’d ever been in- and that included dying. One wrong move, and I’d be gone for good. And I already knew that I’d be doing the wrong thing no matter what.

“Sire?” I called out tentatively. I could feel him close by, his rage nearly palpable in the dusty mansion. Which- Crap!¬- hadn’t been very dusty when I’d left.

A moment later, I was being thrown against the wall by a very angry vampire.

“Where the fuck have you been?” Angelus spat with murderous rage. I knew he’d caught the scent of Spike, so prevalent and pungent and surrounding me, when he reached out and smashed his fist into my chest, shattering several ribs in one swift motion.

I forced an innocent smile onto my face, trying to reproduce the naïve Childe I’d been just a few days before. “Oh, I met Spike when I was hunting!” I said happily. “He was so much fun, I forgot about dawn! Then he convinced me to stay for another night...”

Angelus roared in fury, slamming his fast against me again. “How dare you!” he hissed. “You belong to me! Not that sad little peroxide mess!”

I pouted. “It was just a little fun, for old times’ sake. Did I do something wrong?” I asked, wide-eyed.

“Idiot!” Angelus snapped at me.

I grinned inwardly. My Sire hadn’t known me as Angel or Angelus. All he’d known was my body, and I knew he thought that I was just dumb blonde eye candy. I was planning on using that to my advantage. “But Spike got so mad at me tonight when I wanted to leave.” I wrinkled my nose. “Just because I said that I belonged to you. It’s like he thought that I could ever love him as much as I love you. You’re my Sire!”

Now came the part that I hadn’t told Spike and Dawn, the part I knew that I had to do to make this convincing. I wrapped my arms around the calming vampire and kissed him with all the ardor and passion that I saved for Spike.

Angelus’s hands moved to yank off my dress and he shoved himself inside me before I was close to ready. But I forced myself to moan and sigh, imagining Spike within me, timing his thrusts so he could pleasure other parts of my body as he moved, twisting and kissing and biting-

“AARGH!” I came with an inhuman howl as Angelus did the same, squeezing my arms so tightly that he left bruises along the skin.

I kissed him, smiling. “I missed you.”

Angelus grinned. “Good.” He frowned suddenly. “You’ll need to be punished for your time with Spike, though.”

I licked my lips. “I can hardly wait,” I grinned, slipping my hand into my Sire’s. “But first, let’s go out dancing at the Bronze. I missed you. And besides, I’m hungry.” I caught his earlobe with my teeth and chewed on it as I tugged. “I think we’ll need all the energy we can get tonight.”

He smiled indulgently. “Well, I guess there’s no harm in stocking up on humans.” He raked his hands down my breasts, ripping the soft skin there and lapping up the blood. “Maybe we can find one to join in.”

I clapped my hands in anticipation. Truthfully, the idea wasn’t as abhorrent as it should have been. As much as I loved Spike, there was a part of me that still held my Sire dear. I couldn’t summon up the hatred and disgust I’d felt before he turned me. The Sire-love was a safety in our genetic makeup so that newly turned vampires wouldn’t dust their Sires in revenge for killing them. I could no more hate Angelus than hate Spike.

Which was why he had to die.

My thoughts spurred me into action. I selected a dress from my closet and modeled it for Angelus, who was more interested in ripping it off of me than of picking the right outfit. So he did. And then did the same to my next dress. And the next.

I sighed as Angelus grabbed the silky top I’d last put on. Were we ever going to leave? It was nearly midnight and the Bronze would be emptying soon.

I felt a wash of panic at the thought of another day in Angelus’s hold. “But I’m hungry,” I whined. “Spike wouldn’t feed me properly. He kept making rules about who I could eat.” Which was annoyingly true.

Angelus scowled. “Stop talking about him. Let’s go.”

The Bronze was still packed when we got there, and I realized with relief that it was because of our decoy. I gestured at him excitedly. “Look, Sire! Let’s bring him back with us!”

Angelus’s smile widened when he saw who I was motioning at. “Normally, I’d prefer a girl,” he warned me, “But him? I’ll make an exception for that. I mean, which other vampire in town would be able to say that he had Jonathan?”

I shivered at the image of Jonathan in my bed. Never had there been something so appealing. Except maybe Jonathan and Spike…

“Childe! Get a hold of yourself! He’s coming over here!” Angelus warned me as my idol approached.

Jonathan gave me that heart-breaking smile of his. “Buffy! Clearly, the rumors of your demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

I grinned goofily back, then remembered the script. “Oh, Jonathan,” I put my arms around his neck, pulling him closer. “Want to take this out back?”

“Well…” He looked from me to Angelus, interest in his eyes. “I guess I could slip away for a moment.”

There was a collective groan from the groupies and I resisted the urge to give them a triumphant smirk.

Jonathan would be a breathtaking vampire,
I mused.

“Angel, when did you start working on the side of good again?” he asked casually, opening the heavy back door and holding it open for the two of us.

Angelus leered. “Oh, I’ll be working the side of good tonight.”

“Really!” Jonathan grinned charmingly. “Sounds like fun.” Then he slammed the door shut, locking us in the alley.

“Oh, he’s going to pay for that,” Angelus muttered, heading for the only exit between the alley and the street.

Two figures stepped out in front of him, blocking the way. “I don’t think so,” Dawn said, stake raised in her hand.

Angelus’s eyes narrowed in realization. “Oh, you bitch,” he snarled at me. “Now I’ll have to kill you, too.” He started toward me.

Dawn headed him off, swinging her foot forward to trip the vampire. He stepped over her leg easily, bending to twist it as he did. Almost immediately, they were dancing the dance of battle, dodging and attacking and missing and injuring…

“It’s beautiful,” I breathed.

Spike frowned from where he stood beside me, watching. “Did you have sex with Angelus?”

I scowled at him. “Is now really the time?”

“Oh. Right,” he said sheepishly, joining the fray.

I rushed in, too, loving the fact that I was able to fight with equal power to my peers. Of course, I was still weaker thanks to the whole fledgling thing, not to mention the beating my Sire had given me earlier, but I lasted for minutes before Spike realized my injuries and yanked me out of the fight. It may have still been two against one, but this wasn’t supposed to be a fair fight. This was vengeance.

Angelus tossed Spike away like a gorilla throwing off a dog with its teeth buried in his skin and Spike hit the wall hard. While he was occupied with the other vampire, Dawn produced a vial of holy water from her pocket and splashed it at him, making him roar in pain. She raised her fist. “This is for Miss Calendar!” she growled, slamming him in the mouth.

Angelus caught her fist at her second blow, twisting it until she was screaming in agony. I charged at him, stake in hand, preparing to get him from the back.

He turned just in time and kicked me away with ease. But I was getting used to my Sire’s brand of pain. Barely stopping for a moment, I ran at him again. He kicked me harder this time.

Dawn took advantage of his distraction and kicked him in the groin with full Slayer strength. “This is for Buffy!” she shouted.

He rolled his eyes. “Wow, Dawnie, I always knew that you were slow, but the whole dedicating your punches thing? Not the most creative of moves.” He grabbed her by the head, trying to snap her neck.

Spike took that moment to make his move, shooting a crossbow with nearly deadly accuracy. Angelus barely moved in time, stopping it from hitting his heart, but gashing millimeters away. He froze.

“Excellent,” Spike said, moving forward, his eyes glinting with a steely hardness. “You die, no matter what.”

But Angelus was still smiling as he turned to me. “Buffy.”

There was something in his voice, something stronger than ever before. It reeked of authority and something deep within me knew not to disobey it. I moved toward him automatically. “Sire?”

“Don’t!” Spike shouted, but it was too late.

Quick as lightning, Angelus’s right hand swung forward to hold a stake to my chest. “Stay still,” he ordered, still in that same tone. I stood placidly, my thoughts roiling but my demon still. Our Sire had given us a command, and we were incapable of refusing him. “Now, take out the stake. Carefully!”

“Stop it, Buffy!” Dawn said, horrified.

She made to move forward, but Angelus pushed his stake just a little closer to my heart and she stopped, her eyes wide with fear.

“Do something!” Dawn pleaded. I wondered why she was asking, when clearly, I was doing something. The wrong something.

But she wasn’t talking to me at all. “Buffy,” Spike said in a low voice. “You can fight this, remember? We talked about this.”

I inched the stake out of Angelus’s chest, bit by bit.

“It’s not working,” Dawn said hopelessly. “There must be some way…”

“Buffy, he might be your Sire,” Spike continued, “But he wasn’t always. Do you remember? He disturbed you, attacked you…” His voice cracked. “He violated you…”

I remembered. And within me, the demon roared for just an instant in rebellion and hatred.

“Do you remember feeling like nothing would be okay again? Like he was going to destroy you?”

Like the vampire in front of you was going to hurt you, kill you, feeling so helpless and unable to fight back, swearing that if you could, you would make him pay for everything he’d done to you and your family…

The demon screamed. My thoughts were frenzied. My hands deftly pulled the stake out, then smashed down on the one Angelus had been using to threaten me, tearing it out of his hands.

I vamped out and dove for his throat.

He looked startled by my unexpected control, but then the smirk spread across his face again. “You can’t hurt me. You’re just my fledge Childe.”

I struck him hard, across the face in the spot where he’d hurt me to force his tongue into my mouth. “Wanna bet?”

From behind Angelus, Dawn moved forward anxiously. Spike grabbed her arm and shook his head. She stopped.

Angelus growled. “You don’t strike me!” he snapped. “Ever!” The last little bit of the stake I’d smashed still in his hand, he raised it to stake me.

In response, I kneed him in the groin with savage strength, and while he was moaning in pain, I grabbed one meaty arm, squeezed, and twisted. His bones weren’t as brittle as my leg had been, so I couldn’t shatter it, but it did make a satisfying cracking sound.

Angelus shoved me back up against the wall of the alley, his eyes dark and furious. I swung my fist with the strength he’d forced into me just over a week ago, and sent him careening into the opposite wall. I ran to him before he could move.

“You.” I punched him in the jaw again, watching with satisfaction as he spat up blood.

“Don’t.” My nails scraped across his chest, ripping his shirt into shreds and leaving dark streaks of blood against his chest.

“Touch me!” I snarled, squeezing his neck with one hand while I grabbed his crotch with the other. To my disgust, he was actually aroused by what I was doing. I squeezed. Tightly. Too tightly, expending every bit of my vampire strength.

Angelus fell to the ground, moaning in pain. I kicked him in the stomach with a steel-toed boot. “Ever,” I finished, glaring down at him.

My demon was quieted, its bloodlust replaced by something more somber as it looked at what we’d done to our Sire. I will NOT regret this, I chanted to myself, reminding myself of the pain and horror I’d experienced at his hands.

From behind me, there was a gentle touch at my right, and I turned to face Spike. He smiled softly and nodded to my left.

Dawn stood stock-still, her face set and her stake outstretched to me.

I reached out to take it.

Then everything changed.

Angelus’s eyes glowed with a strange force that simultaneously repelled and fascinated me, and he fell to the ground, gasping.

I half-expected Angelus to use our confusion to his advantage and jump up and run away with one last parting sneer, but then he looked up again with soft, bewildered brown eyes and I knew that Angelus was no more.

“Dawnie?” he whispered in confusion. “What’s going on? What’s happening? I-I don’t remember…”

She gazed at him with blank eyes. “Angel.”

He reached to embrace her, but she stepped away. “Dawnie?” he repeated, sounding less certain.

And she raised the stake and drove it through his heart.

His eyes shot wide in surprise and betrayal. And the next moment, Angel, too, was no more.

I felt the searing pain of my Sire being staked and sank to the ground. Spike caught me, wrapping his arms around my shaking body.

Dawn just watched us with empty eyes.

When we finally rose, she spoke. “Truce lasts until sunrise. You need to get out of town.” Her voice cracked.

“Are you going to be okay?” I whispered, watching her worriedly as the tears started to spill.

She shook her head. “I- God, I hated him far too much to love him anymore,” she whispered, shaking. “I’m just glad it’s over.” Sobs wracked her body.

To all our surprise, Spike was the one to enfold her in his arms. “You’re one of the best,” he murmured in her ear. “You give Buffy strength.”

She hugged him tightly. “And you’re the best vampire I’ve ev-“ Her voice cracked. She tried again. “I’ve ever known. Take care of my sister.”

I smiled at her acknowledgement. “I love you, Dawnie,” I told her, pressing my lips against her cheek and suppressing the urge to bite down on the smooth, tender skin. “Talk to Jonathan, and Janice, and Mom and Giles. They’ll help you get through this.”

“I know.” She smiled at me through her tears. “But they’re not you.”

We cried together this time, I for the folly of mortality and good, Dawnie for the very opposite.

And it was finally time for us to part.

--

I curled up next to Spike in his Desoto, wrinkling my nose at the residual Dru scent, all the stronger from being locked in a musty car for months. “Where are we going?”

He grinned. “Wherever you want. LA, New York…Paris?” A beautifully nasty smile lit up his face. “Or maybe Belize to visit Soldier Boy?”

I grinned. “Sounds like a plan.”

I turned around to watch the dark little town disappear. Had it been so long since Spike had first blown into town and blown me away? Not really. But I’d gone through so many changes over these past few months that I knew that I was barely the Buffy Summers, college freshman, that I’d been. Not at all.

I’d been trapped in the mediocrity that had been my life for so long. My sister had battled demons in secret and I’d despaired because of my grades and love life. I’d been happily one-dimensional. Then I’d become a vampire and truly found myself.

I told as much to Spike, and he shook his head. “You’re wrong, kitten. I was in love with you before this last transformation. You’ve been downplaying your strengths for so long that you never even recognized them.” He pressed a kiss to the top of my head.

I shrugged, feeling suddenly dismal. “Why did you even love me? I was ditzy, and weak, and not nearly as beautiful as Dru…Okay, I was saner than she was, but-“

“You’re brave, Buffy. You’re strong and smart and you gave me a chance.” He smiled ruefully. “I think I fell a little in love with you that first night when you let me in. You were so unafraid of me…”

“What are you talking about?” I rolled my eyes. “I was terrified.”

“But you fought.” He stroked the skin on my neck near Angelus’s mark. “As far as you knew, I could have killed you right then, and you still fought back. And then, when I begged for shelter, you gave it to me and went straight back to sleep!” He laughed. “That’s what makes you the most courageous person I know.”

“But I’m not, inside,” I insisted. “I’m not any of those things. Because sometimes I’m scared and weak and I get all judgy. You don’t see the real me.”

Spike pulled me closer to him. “Pet, I see the real you. And I love it, all the same. I’d love you no matter what.”

And that was it, I knew. The real me wasn’t a human, or a vampire, or even a demon or zombie or Slayer. It was just me.

And the real me belonged to Spike.

It was only fair, I knew.

After all, he belonged to me, too.

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Warnings for this chapter: Buffy/other (last time, I promise! :D), character death, and some pretty nifty violence.



 
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