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With this Ring.... by Lilachigh
Chp 8 All over again
With This Ring.... by Lilachigh

Chapter 8 All over again

Buffy stared down at the scene below her in disbelief. Even as she watched, frozen, Angel flicked the knife across XanT’s chest and a thin line red appeared on his pale skin. She must have cried out as her friend in both Sunnydale’s gasped in pain and writhed against the ropes that bound him. AngelT, CordyT and HarmonyT spun round to see where the noise had come from.

“Spike - ” Buffy forced her legs to move.

“Easy, sweetheart,” he murmured in her ear, his hand under her elbow. “Remember, it isn’t our Angel. We don’t know who he is in this world.”

AngelT stood up, snarling, blood dripping from the point of the knife. CordyT grasped his arm. “Well look who’s come to join the party, lover. It’s my friend Buffy and Spike. I told you about them.” She gazed up at Buffy, her dark eyes glinting. “You should have kept on driving back to town, Buffy. This isn’t your concern.”

Buffy slid her way down the loose rock onto the cave floor, Spike following at her back. She circled warily round the three of them, desperate to see if XanT was badly hurt.
“What the hell are you doing, Cordelia?”

“Hi, Buffy. Hi, Spike. Long time no see.” It was HarmonyT who was still sitting cross-legged besides XanT’s bound body. “How you doing?”

CordyT stepped away from AngelT but Buffy never took her eyes off the dark haired vampire. Spike was right. This wasn’t the man she’d known, loved and lost. He looked the same but his eyes were hard, like stones, and the mouth that could be tender, looked cruel in this world. He still hadn’t spoken, but shifted easily on bare feet, tossing the knife from hand to hand. Angelus? No, there was nothing of the cold evil that emanated from the vampire when he was in that stage of being. This vamp was just cruel and sullen.

“He’s a vampire, Cordy,” Buffy said, sensing that whoever else Angel was, that was still the same.

“Of course he is,” CordyT said impatiently. “Why do you always think that you’re the only person in Sunnydale who can have a relationship with one? You always were the drama queen. You and Spike, your great love. Oh no one has ever loved like us. Slayer and Vampire. What a mixture. God, I got so tired of hearing about it. He doesn’t kill humans because he loves me. He controls his vamp side because of our love. God, I’d like to throw up. On and on. Well, Angel is my boyfriend. I told you earlier I wanted you to meet him. Well, now you have. A pity it will only be for a few seconds before you die, but hey, that‘s life!”

“So this is the Slayer,” AngelT spoke at last with a thick Irish accent. “Who’s the other vamp?”

Buffy sensed Spike circling the cave behind her. She knew he had CordyT in his sights.
“You don’t recognize me?” Spike sounded surprised and, Buffy realised, a little hurt.

“Never seen you before, boy,” AngelT sneered. “Why don’t you clear off and go and find your own meal.”

“You’re feeding from Xander?” Buffy asked, horrified. “Cordy, Harmony, you’re not vampires. How could you - “?

“Oh, grow up, Buffy,” CordyT snapped. “We don’t have to be vamps to join in the ceremony of Turckpai. You must know that. You’ve been the Slayer long enough.”

“Turkey Pie?” Buffy moved again, trying to force AngelT away from XanT who she could see was struggling to free one of his hands where the ropes looked a little loose.

“Turckpai, pet,” Spike said from the shadows. “Haven’t heard that one since - well, for a very long time. It’s a sort of ancient initiation test vampires used to do on humans who consorted with them. You each make a cut in turn and the vamp drinks. Trouble is, you have to keep on cutting until the victim dies. Dracula was a dab hand at it. But I’ve never seen it done. Angel and Darla never did it, far as I know. But then they never hung round with humans long enough - until you came along.”

“Who are you talking about?” Angrily, AngelT spun round to Spike. “Don’t use my name when you don’t know me, wanker. And who the hell’s Darla?”

“We get a badge,” HarmonyT said eagerly. “Well, not a badge, exactly, but a sort of little mark on our arms. It’s fun. Far better than all those boring law books I’ve been studying. They are so dull, you would never believe it.”

“Harmony - ”

“I never wanted to be a lawyer,” the blonde rattled on, seemingly unaware of the tension all around her. “My parents were so keen. I want to be a model or a film star. When I get my mark, I’m going to Hollywood. I reckon I could be another Reese Witherspoon or perhaps - ”

“Harmony - ” Spike tried this time. “Shut the fuck up and get out of here now.”

His voice sliced through the damp air in the cave and the blonde stopped in mid-sentence. She glanced up, startled, caught the sapphire blue stare and stood up, hesitantly.

“Harmony, sit down!” It was AngelT. “We haven’t finished with the victim.”

The blonde tossed back a riot of curls and stared nervously back and forth between him and Spike. “Well, Angel, I’d like to stay, I really would, cos, great fun and all with the cutting and the blood, but this was always yours and Cordelia’s game, wasn’t it? She only invited me because I was staying with her. And if I hurry, I can just make the mall.”

“Harmony - run!” Buffy snapped and the girl turned and fled out of the cave without a backwards glance.

AngelT smiled at Buffy and her blood turned to ice. She had once lived to see that smile. Now, in this world, it spelt out evil and a complete lack even the smallest hint of compassion.

“Angelus?” she whispered. “No, someone else.”

“Who’s he, Slayer? Another vampire boyfriend? Don’t know why you don’t just join Cordy and me in our little drinking session if you’re so keen on our company. Make you hot, do we? Well, I wouldn’t throw out of my bed, acushla. Bet I could show you a good time. Here - take the knife, make a cut. Sure, you don’t know what you’re missing unless you try it.”

Buffy swallowed and reached for the stake in her pocket. She felt sick and her limbs were heavy and lifeless. How could she kill Angel all over again? OK, it wasn’t her Angel and - the thought blazed through her brain like a comet - she no longer loved him. No her passion for Spike had wiped all that away like footprints in sand, but the memory of love was still there.

And she couldn’t let Spike harm CordyT. She was still human, Spike was a vampire and Cordy hadn’t actually killed anyone yet. “Just let Xander go,” she said.

“No way!” CordyT snapped. “You don’t know what trouble I went to getting him here. ”

“Why Xander?”

CordyT shrugged. “Oh geez, Buffy, who’d miss him? He’s the town drunk. His new girlfriend would worry for a couple of days and then move on. His parents hate him and his best friend is far more concerned with her boyfriend than him. He was the perfect choice.”

“Sure, I’ve had enough of all this talk!” With lightning speed, AngelT leapt forward, the knife arching upwards in a vicious swing. Buffy leapt to one side, kicking out as she did, catching the vampire on the knee with her foot.

She was aware of Spike and CordyT struggling together. “Don’t kill her, Spike!” she screamed as Angel swung again with the knife, cursing as he did so.

“Fights like a hell cat!” Spike yelled, dodging to avoid the razor sharp, blood red nails that were aimed at his eyes. Bloody hell! It was all very well for Buffy to say not to kill, but it wasn’t going to be so easy. He sometimes wished he were chipped in this world, as he was in the other Sunnydale. It was easier not to kill when blinding pain stopped you. His will-power was strained to breaking point at the moment.

The fight raged on and Buffy winced as the knife slashed a thin cut down her arm. AngelT growled in delight at the sight of Slayer blood and charged in for the kill.

“Buffy! Watch out!” Spike yelled anxiously, and let CordyT go as he tried to reach his wife and put his body between hers and the black haired vampire.

Buffy spun round, backed away from AngelT’s charge, tripped over XanT and went tumbling to the floor. As she rolled across the cave, she saw XanT free one hand, and lift it above his head as if to ward off a blow as AngelT bent over him.

Then, in disbelief, she realised he must have been holding the wooden peg they’d used to fasten the rope to the ground. It caught Angel full in the chest and with a roar of disbelief he went from flesh to bone to dust.

And was gone.

* * * * * * *

“Who was that guy?” XanT was walking up and down, muttering to himself, rubbing his wrists where the ropes had cut. “He was going to kill me!”

“His name was Angel,” Buffy said distantly. She was sitting on the grass under the trees, watching the horses grazing a few yards away.

“You seemed to know him, Buff.”

Buffy stared sightlessly across the paddock. “No, I never knew him at all,” she said softly at last.

“A vampire, that’s who he was! An Irish vampire.” XanT seemed to have the same gift of stating the obvious in this universe as he did in the other Sunnydale, Buffy thought.

She glanced round but there was no sign of her husband. Spike had taken CordyT back to her house, insisting that she packed a case and got out of town immediately. Of Harmony there was no sign at all. She’d long gone. Harmony was a survivor, Buffy realized, whichever world she was living in.

She wished she was. She felt drained, hollow, weary beyond belief. And she didn’t know why. She had told XanT the truth. She didn’t know this Angel. His death should have meant nothing to her.

“So, who was that guy?”

Buffy found she was pulling up handfuls of grass, angrily, compulsively. “Xander, why don’t you go back to town? Tara will be so worried about you. You need to let her know you’re OK.”

“You’re right. Tara - worried - so me make her better. God, I could do with a drink. Don’t suppose Spike’s got any whisky in your car, has he?”

Buffy looked up at him. It was so weird. The same dark hair, dark eyes, friendly, funny face. And yet she didn’t like this Xander. She sensed that inside he was weak where her Xander in the other Sunnydale was strong.

“No, no whisky. Take the car and go, Xander. We’ll come back when we’ve finished up here. There’s a truck in the barn we can use.”

“OK, see you later.” and he moved away, still muttering, “Who was that guy?”

Buffy sat on in the shade. She felt she had lost all power of movement. Her legs seemed dead and she had a thumping headache. She wanted to be home, curled up in her bed where the sheets were soft and cool and smelt of her mother’s vanilla fabric softener.

The hairs on her back of her neck stirred and then relaxed as thin cold fingers began to massage the tense muscles across her shoulders, digging into that spot inside her shoulder blades that ached so much. Buffy rolled her head round. God that felt good.

“Not happy pet, are you?”

She couldn’t lie to him. He knew her too well. “No.”

“He wasn’t our Angel, you know. He never sired Dru. Didn’t know Darla. He never loved you in this world. You never loved him.”

“I know.”

She felt him sit on the grass behind her, then his legs were stretched out on either side of her and he pulled her back between them to lean against his chest. He rubbed his chin on the top of her head. “So, did this Angel dying make you realise you still love him back in our Sunnydale? Is that what all this angst is about?”

Buffy tried to turn, but he held her still and after a second or two she stopped struggling and just relaxed back against him. “No, Spike. I don’t love him in either world. I did love him, once, but that seems a long time ago when I was very young.”

“Oh yes, and you’re so old now, of course! Ancient, even.”

“I feel it.”

She felt the muscles in his chest tighten. “God, Buffy, sometimes you can really irritate me, do you know that?”

She shrugged, hurt but determined not to show it. “You don’t have to stay around if you don’t want to.”

“Buffy, we’re married. Husband and wife. Or have you forgotten that? Just because I get irritated with you or you get annoyed with me, doesn’t mean either of us needs to walk away. Married people have rows, disagreements.” He dropped a kiss on the blonde curls tickling his nose. “Then they make up. It’s fun.”

“And sometimes they walk away and never come back,” she said softly, a picture of her father loading suitcases into his car flashing into her brain. “So why do I irritate you?”

“It’s all you, you, you, all the time. OK, you felt weird seeing this whelp dust Angel. Great teenage love affair all angsty and broody and one perfect moment of happiness and bam, here’s our good old pal, Angelus. Then a spell and hey, honey, I’m home! Then dead again, then back again. Even I can see it would be upsetting watching him being dusted.”

“It was,” she whispered.

“So did you ever stop to think how I felt?”

Buffy wriggled round until she was kneeling, facing him. “You hated Angel.”

Spike sighed, his dark sapphire eyes shadowed. “Sweetheart, he was my grandsire. The head of my little family for more years than I care to remember. I fought him because I was young and silly, but he taught me to be a vampire. He was my role model, father figure, you name it, Angel was it. Of course I hated the great Irish poof. He loathed me. Always figured he wanted Dru and Darla all for himself, and then I came along and spoilt his little threesome. But whatever he was to me, it was real and seeing him go like that hurt me, too.”

“But it wasn’t our Angel,” Buffy said hurriedly, hating to see Spike miserable.

“I think those are my words.”

Buffy bit her lip, slipped her arms round Spike’s neck and let him hold her tight.

“So what else is bugging you, pet?” the vampire asked at last. “This mood has been coming on for days. It isn’t just Angel torturing XanT and CordyT proving to be a first class bitch, is it?”

There was silence for a while. The leaves above their heads rustled in the breeze but the shadow was still deep enough to keep Spike safe.

“Do you realise we both talk about ‘our’ Angel, and ‘our’ Sunnydale, as if they were real and this world isn’t. Is all of this slipping away from us?” she said eventually, airing her deepest fears, safe in his arms, knowing that once there, nothing could hurt her.

Spike nodded. “I’ve realised that, too. I think - ” He stopped and she nudged him to continue.

“I think you can’t live fully in two worlds at the same time. Whatever the magic was that Willow used to make the portal, it’s fading. We can either be there or here, but I don’t believe we can go backwards and forwards between the two Sunnydales any more.”

‘Are you saying we’ve got to close the portal?”

Spike traced his fingertip over her lips. He loved their shape, the soft fullness of her lower lip, the moist inside. He’d seen them bruised, smeared with his come, slack with passion, taut with desire. He would never tire of her mouth if he lived for another hundred years.

‘I don’t think I’d know how to close it, but I think maybe we’ve got to choose which Sunnydale to live in and stick to it.”

Buffy fell silent, feeling tears well up in her eyes.

‘Anyway, you’ve already made that decision, haven’t you?” Spike said heavily. “You want to go back to your ‘normal’ life, don’t you? We won’t remember any of this, you’ll be going out with soldier boy and I’ll just be the annoying chipped vampire who lives in a crypt. Not a brilliant future to look forward to, is it? So why, Buffy? Why choose that life. Is being married to me so bad?”

“No, it isn’t bad at all,” she whispered, twisting one of his platinum curls round and round her finger. “But Spike, it isn’t real. I’m the Slayer, you’re a vampire. How can we love each other? It’s all magic. Smoke and mirrors. And as soon as the spell vanishes completely, what will we have left? Can you imagine waking up one morning and finding yourself married to the Slayer? You’d stake yourself. You know that as soon as we’re home, you’ll go back to hating me, and I’ll go back to - ”

“Despising me?”

“No! I’ve never despised you. Loathed you, perhaps. Even admired you, sometimes. But whatever I feel, it won’t be love. It could never be love, Spike. You haven’t got a soul. For some reason I can forget that here, but I can’t when I’m home. I won’t when I’m home!”

“Won’t sounds more truthful. What’s the quote ”methinks the lady doth protest too much.” You won’t even give me a chance to persuade you that what we feel for each other isn’t just because of the spell, will you?”

Buffy pulled herself out of his arms and jumped up. She knew if she allowed him to go on holding her, she’d give in, agree to whatever he wanted. And that would be wrong.
“I’m sorry, William. Truly, I am. But I just want - ”

Spike stood up and leant against the tree trunk in the deepest shade, the leaves casting strange shadows across his face. “What do you want, Slayer?” he asked wearily.

“I want a chance!” she whispered. “A chance to live a normal life, like a normal girl. I know I’ll always be the Slayer, but I can be normal, too. As glorious as it might be, living here with you isn’t normal!”

Spike stared at her face, at the despair and the determination etched there. He could see all the different Buffys so clearly; the little girl whose father had walked out on her, the one whose boyfriends left, who would spend years searching for some perfect way of life, not ever realising that it was there for her, all the time, right under her nose. Glorious. She was so right and didn’t even know it.

“So we go back. Decision made. And what happens here, do you reckon?”

Buffy stared at him. She’d wanted him to agree; of course she had, so why was she feeling upset and irritated that he’d given in so quickly? What about all his protestations of eternal love? Perhaps they’d been just words, after all.

“I think if we go back and seal the portal, it’ll be as if I’ve died. Another Slayer will be called in my place.“


Buffy shrugged. “We don’t know there is a Faith in this world. Or if there is, she doesn’t have to be a Slayer. For all we know, she might be serving hamburgers in the local Double Meat Palace.”

Spike laughed. “Oh yes, I can just see a Slayer doing that!” He held out his hand and Buffy took it. “OK, luv. Back to town we go. Back to the portal, and then home.” He tugged her hand and she flew forward into his arms. He bent his head and kissed her, long and deep, holding her so tightly that any normal girl would have squealed for mercy as her ribs cracked.

“That’s one for our memory banks,” he said as he raised his head and stared down at crushed pink lips and green eyes blurred by tears. “And every time someone kisses you in the future, whoever and wherever you are, deep in your blood, you’ll remember this day.”

For a second he flared into game face and Buffy stepped back, startled. Then in a flash he was back to human. “You’ve got your opinions and I respect them but I think you’re wrong, luv. We belong together. Seems pretty obvious to me, but then I was never much with the thinking. More for the action. But bloody hell, Slayer, this time I know you’re wrong, but I also know it’s useless trying to convince you.”

“Spike - ”

His cool fingers covered her mouth for a second, then cupped her cheeks as he stared into her flushed face. “Hush up for a second or two, pet. Let me have my say, then we’ll be done. We‘re going home. I agree. I won’t fight you about it. But one day, back home, you’ll tell me you love me as often as you do here. And listen well to what I say - we’re still married, Buffy. And nothing, not all the magic in both universes, can alter that. Whatever the future brings for both of us - you, Buffy Summers, are and always will be, my wife!

The End

Hope you all enjoyed this story. I loved writing it. Be glad of your views.
The sequel will begin soon. It’s called SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT...