Chapter 30 and Epilogue
A/n Look, I've actually finished a story. Thanks so much to everyone who's left me reviews and a really big thanks to [info]slackerace and Linda my betas who I don't give nearly enough credit to, and they really really deserve it.
A series of nondescript white vans rolled down the highway, heading away from L.A. and towards Sunnydale. If it hadn't been dark out, the only strange thing anyone might have noticed about them was that all the windows had been blacked out. But then Spike had originally intended to attack the Master during the day when the vampires would be sleeping.
Maybe this would be better? he hoped. After all, at the time of night they would arrive in Sunnydale, many of the vampires would be out and away from the blood factory.
If they killed the Master, they wouldn't have to worry much about the other vampires. He was the only thing holding them together. Without him they would splinter off into much smaller groups, and Spike couldn't care less what they did after that. Not as long as he destroyed the factory.
The biggest problem was going to be finding Dru and getting her out safely. He just hoped she was a little more on the lucid side and wasn't going to stop to try and pick flowers that weren't there.
He looked over at his youngest childe, sitting across from him in the back of the van. She could be another problem.
"Look, Buffy." She looked up at him at the sound of her name. "About Dru. . ." he trailed off, unsure of how to continue with what he had to say.
Seeing his discomfort, she smiled a little. "Are you about to try and explain the Sire/Childe relationship to me? Cause I think I get that."
She moved across the van to sit next to him and rested her head against him. He put his arm around her, wondering if she really did know what he was trying to explain.
"I get it about Dru, that she's your Sire and stuff. It's not the way I'd make things if I were queen of the universe but. . . I like her, and she promised to teach me lots of fun games."
"So you know that. . . I mean once we save her, it's not going to be just you and me anymore?" he asked, a little worried.
To be honest, he wouldn't mind if it were just him and Buffy. Some part of his heart had moved on from Drusilla. But things weren't that easy. He couldn't not love Dru, even if she was no longer his world. She was still the woman who'd saved him, who'd made him into something. He just hoped that Dru was as understanding about the whole thing as Buffy seemed to be.
"I know," she replied. "Are we going to be there soon?"
"In a bit," he said. Then he dug into his pocket to pull out the Gem of Amara. "You should put this on," he told her.
"Me? No you're the one who should wear it."
"Not going to happen, pet. Look, the Master knows by now that you've been turned. So once the fighting starts, he's going to have everyone concentrate on you. He'll see you as the biggest threat. Me, he'll want alive so he can torture later. Make an example of, that sort of thing."
"But. . ."
"No buts, pet. Besides, with an invincible vampire slayer on my side, nothing's going to happen to me. Now be a good girl and put it on."
She looked at him for a moment, considering. Then she took the ring and slipped it on her finger.
"I don't feel any different," she said.
"It's working though, trust me," he told her as he squeezed her arm.
They spent the rest of the drive in silence, simply enjoying each other's company. Both of them silently fearing it might be the last time they would be together.
As the caravan passed the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign, Spike couldn't help but wonder if all his planning would end up meaning anything. If it all would just come down to dumb luck. After all, although he was an excellent fighter himself, what did he know about leading a small army of vampires?
And just like that they were there, and his troops began pouring out of the vans, hitting the front door guards before they knew what was happening.
On the way over Spike had debated what his first priority should be: finding Dru or killing the Master. He'd decided that until he knew Drusilla was safe, the Master could wait. After all, it could throw a monkey wrench into all his plans if the Master used Drusilla as a hostage.
With the guards gone, Spike led the others inside. Even so, it didn't take long for the alarm to sound. The vampires the Master had gathered to him began to swarm down on Spike's small band of followers and chaos erupted.
In the middle of it all was Buffy. She moved with deadly grace, her stakes finding mark after mark. She seemed to be dancing amid a cloud of dust. But what was most important was that they were moving forward.
Spike could sense Drusilla's presence, and so he directed the charge in her direction. He wasn't terribly surprised when he realized he was leading them to the Master's 'throne room'. He was sure the Master knew exactly who was attacking him by now, and he would also know that Dru could make an effective hostage.
Bit by bit they pressed the attack forward. By the time they made it to the Master, more than half of Spike's minions were dust. He was forced to rely heavily on his right arm now, because he'd taken a stake on his left side. But considering that if he'd turned a second later he would have been dust, trying to fight as with his right hand was only a minor inconvenience.
As far as he could tell, Buffy was uninjured although she was covered in blood and dust. Of course in theory with the Gem she was invincible, but there was always the worry that someone would figure it out and chop off her hand. That was one of the reasons he'd been so careful in keeping the Gem secret. Its value was easily halved if your opponent knew about it.
And then there they were, through the thick of it and facing the Master. He stood, surrounded by his guards and with a wicked looking knife at Drusilla's throat. Spike knew the elder vampire would be able to decapitate Drusilla and he slowed the charge of his followers into the room, having no choice but to let the Master make the first move.
"I hope you didn't expect me to be surprised or hurt by this little betrayal," the Master said. "But you've never been anything more to me than an impudent fledgling."
"Well," Spike retorted. "Considering my youthful good looks and impudence get me all the girls, I'm not really going to complain."
Normally Spike was eager for a little banter, but right now he was too worried about what the Master might be planning, and whether Buffy might do something that would endanger Dru. But there was little else he could do at the moment, but try and get under the Master's skin.
"But then," he continued, "you've never been any good at keeping a woman. From what I heard Darla ran out on you first chance she got."
The Master barely batted an eyelash. "And that turned out so well for her. But today, my boy, is your lucky day. Since you seem to like playing at being in charge, I'm going to give you the chance. Just you and me, and if you win, you'll be the undisputed master of the Aurelian line."
Spike couldn't care less about any sort of official title, and fighting the Master one on one wasn't the smartest plan, but it was the surest way to get that knife away from Dru's throat.
At the same moment Spike said yes, Buffy said no.
He looked at her annoyed for a moment, before she spoke again.
"You said I could kill him. All those meetings and strategies, and you always said I could be the one to kill him. Besides," she added, "you're hurt."
Before Spike could answer her, Dru piped in. "Do you see?" she asked the Master. "She's a bad dolly that William's made for me."
The Master ignored her, except to press the blade harder against her throat.
"Either you fight me," he told Spike. "Or Drusilla looses the rest of her mind right now."
Dru only laughed and said to Spike, "He wants crumpets, but no one's set him a place."
Ignoring the others for a moment he turned to Buffy.
"Look, pet, I'd be more than happy to let you kill the Master, but I'm not the one making the rules here. Can you play along, just for a bit?" he asked hopefully.
She crossed her arms over her chest and jutted out her lower lip in a pout that at any other time Spike would have found irresistible. But now he had too much else on his mind.
"Okay," she said reluctantly, but Spike had a feeling he was going to hear her complain about this later, if there was a later.
"You should really instill better discipline in your fledglings," the Master said as he passed Drusilla to one of his guards.
Spike was moving towards the center of the room, and about to answer, when the Master suddenly charged him. The only thing that prepared him for the elder vampire's sudden onslaught was the sparring he'd done with Buffy since he'd turned her.
She was actually faster than the Master, although from the Master's first blow, Spike judged that she wasn't quite as strong.
And then he had no more time to think. It was all he could do to stay out of the Master's way. He could feel every blow jolt painfully through his wounded side, and soon his right arm was going numb. Maybe if he'd been fresh, and hadn't just fought his way through an army of vampires, he could have taken the Master. But before he knew it he was lying flat on his back, the Master's sword raised in a killing blow.
And then just like that, the Master's look turned from triumph to surprise.
"You cheated?" he said disbelievingly as his body slowly began to turn to dust.
"Well, yeah." Buffy said from behind the Master. "I'm evil. And even when I wasn't I knew better than to expect the evil vampires to play by the rules."
Spike scrambled to his feet, as the Master's body collapsed into a pile of dust and bone.
"It is okay I cheated, isn't it?" Buffy asked, suddenly concerned.
Spike's brain was trying to move from the thought that he was going to die to the realization that he wasn't.
"Bloody brilliant," he said as he hugged her. "Now mate," he said turning to the vampire who was holding Drusilla. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way."
As it turned out, they did things the easy way. Seeing the Master's demise, the vampires who had been loyal to him quickly left. Their loyalty came more from intimidation than any real interest in the Master's 'vision of the future'.
It was unlikely that any other vampire would try and continue the blood factory, but Spike didn't want to take any chances. The whole thing was somehow wrong to him. A denial of everything a vampire should be. Besides, Dru had always liked a good fire.
Setting the factory on fire though, was a bit more difficult than he had anticipated. In fact he was ready to give up on the whole notion of burning the place down, but Buffy insisted. She wanted no trace left of the place that had been her prison for so long.
As the flames finally rose up along the walls, Buffy broke away from him and rushed towards the fire. Confused he tried to stop her for a moment, before remembering that she was still wearing the Gem of Amara, and the flames shouldn't hurt her. Still he wasn't sure how he felt about her so recklessly testing the Gem's power.
She spun in the flames, her arms spread wide, and next to him Drusilla shared in her laughter. "Oh, yes she's such a nice dolly. We'll have lots of fun with her."
But Spike was paying attention to Buffy. He couldn't get over the feeling that she shouldn't be standing there in the flames.
"Luv, come out. You're clothes don't seem to be immune and you'll ruin your favorite pants."
That seemed to get to her, and next thing he knew she was rolling out of the flames, extinguishing her singed clothes as she went. She ended the roll just in front of him, gracefully rising to her feet, still laughing.
"You have to try it. It's amazing," she said.
"Oh, yes I want a turn," Drusilla said before Spike could reply.
Buffy took off the ring and passed it to her grand-sire who slipped it on her finger. Then Dru took off much as Buffy had dancing in the fire. But unlike Buffy she didn't seem to care that her clothes were burning off of her.
Finally she emerged, unscathed, but also unclothed. Spike slipped off his duster and put it around her shoulders, surprised to find that her skin was cool to the touch.
"Now it's your turn," Buffy declared even as Drusilla pressed the ring into his hand.
"Oh, what the hell," he said. After all Dru had his duster and he could always buy more t-shirts.
Still he found it harder than either of the women had to walk straight into the flames. He could feel the heat of the fire brushing against his skin but it didn't burn. It was more like a hot caress. He turned to look back at Buffy and Drusilla.
Dru was whispering something into Buffy's ear and Buffy was giggling. From the looks she was giving Spike he guessed that it had something to do with him.
As the fire rose in front of his eyes, he had a sudden feeling of deja-vu. The flames reminded him of the bars of the cage he'd first seen Buffy through. As he watched the strange camaraderie that had so quickly risen between the two women he had the sudden feeling of being trapped.
But as his eyes met Buffy's he thought that might just be okay, so long as the two of them were trapped together.
It was a disgrace. The sort of thing that just wasn't supposed to happen in a respectable establishment like the Black Quill. This was London after all and there were plenty of other establishments that catered to that sort of thing, but the Black Quill was certainly not that sort of place. It was a quiet respectable pub, whose customers just happened to mostly be Watchers.
Of course all of the regular patrons were very careful not to look at the two women who'd come inside and started kissing and giggling in one of the booths. They did however from time to time look at Quentin Travers as if expecting him to do something about it. It was not, however his place to eject women from the pub.
But before anyone could do anything about it, the front door opened, and one by one all eyes turned toward the new comer.
"Gwendolyn?" one person asked.
She smiled as she walked into the room, enjoying the silence her entrance had brought. Except for the two giggling women in the corner booth. They chose that moment to find something particularly funny.
Gwendolyn Post strode across the room heading directly for Quentin's table. Quentin rose to greet her saying, "Ms. Post, how nice it is to see you. We had feared the worst when we didn't hear back from your team, although we do know you were a success."
"Oh no, mate." A man's voice came from the back entrance. "You were right to fear the worst."
The patrons turned to look at the newcomer, and the few who recognized him let out startled gasps of "William the Bloody" and "Spike". And just like that the whole mood of the room shifted. Suddenly the Watchers were preparing for something dangerous, even if they weren't sure what.
"Of course, just to be clear," Spike continued, "she didn't kill your Slayer. I did. So that makes three for those of you keeping score at home."
A few of the Watchers had risen and turned towards the front door, having realized that they didn't have any weapons and now might be the time to get some. Unfortunately while they'd all been distracted by the entrances of Ms. Post and Spike, the two women had risen and were now blocking the front entrance.
"Is he the one?" Buffy asked. "Is he the one who ordered me dead?"
"Now see here," Quentin started even as Ms. Post answered "Yes."
"That means I get to kill you," Buffy told him, leaving Drusilla at the door as she moved forward.
At that moment chaos erupted. A few of the Watchers decided this had gone on long enough, and despite the fact they were inadequately prepared, they knew they had no choice but to fight or die.
Against the four vampires though, they were hopelessly out numbered. Only a very few of them had ever faced a vampire themselves, and most of them had done it in 'controlled circumstances'. There was nothing controlled about the slaughter that followed.
In the end only two people were left alive. Travers, and a young Watcher.
As the four vampires moved in on the last victims, Travers spoke out, "Do you realize what you've done? This is an act of war. The rest of the Council will not hesitate to hunt you down no matter where you go."
"Oh, no, mate," Spike told him. "This is just a warning shot, that's why this lucky bloke gets to live to tell the tale. See, I figured sooner or later you lot would find out about my pretty girl here," he slipped his arm around Buffy's waist and licked some of the blood off of her face. "And I figured that you wouldn't stand for a slayer turned into a vampire. But you're going to have to. See, if you lot come after us we'll do this all again."
Quentin tried to interrupt but Drusilla placed a bloody finger to his lips and nodded for Spike to continue.
"Now I know what you're thinking." Spike continued as he began to pace around the room a bit. "After today you lot will be more careful. Will change the way you do things, stop going to your old hang outs like this. Anything you think Gwen here might tell us you'll try and change." He paused, broke off the leg of an over turned chair, and then strode back to the group. "Which is why she isn't really all that useful anymore."
He drove the chair leg through her chest and into her heart. "Sire?" she asked with surprise as she turned to dust.
"But we can always find us another Watcher to turn, to give us all your secrets. You got all that, mate?" Spike asked the Watcher they'd spared.
The man could only nod, struck dumb by the horrors he'd seen, and not quite believing that he'd be allowed to live.
"So can I kill him now?" Buffy asked.
But it was Drusilla who'd been finger painting on the bar in blood who answered her. "Oh not just yet, my sweet. It's fun to bash and to slash, but you must learn your lessons now."
She returned to the group and grabbed on of Travers hands, waiting for Buffy to do the same. Buffy pouted for just a moment, but she'd already learned that however effective it was on Spike, Drusilla was completely immune. So having no other choice she took Travers left hand.
"Now, this little piggy went to market. . ." Drusilla intoned as she snapped Travers pinky finger. She waited until Buffy followed suit, and was delighted when the younger vampire also recited the poem.
But then she really was a clever dolly, Drusilla thought. It would only take her a decade or two to properly train Buffy to take care of her William, for the poor dear couldn't take care of himself. And once that was done she would finally be free to go off and have her own fun.
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