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Strip Snap by Lilachigh
Chp 24 The other brother
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Strip Snap

Chp 26 Our other brother

Xander’s chair thumped back down onto four legs from where he’d had it tilted back while Buffy explained what had been happening. “OK, sitting right here, listening, realising I’ve never been the brightest button in the Sunnydale box, but let me get one thing clear in my mind – ” He stared at Spike and William and shuddered. “You want to zap Spike again to bring out the pure demon inside him?”

“I think it’s the only way we’re going to defeat the Master, send him into another dimension and fulfil the charm. You remember, ‘love, desire and need – ”

“ – times three! Hey Will, yes, I can count. Not as well as you, perhaps, but hey, up to three I can do! Even ten if I use fingers and thumbs!”

Dawn was sitting curled up on the sofa. She’d stared in bewilderment at William and Spike when they came back to the house, her face lighting up at the sight of Spike, but since then she’d been unusually quiet. Spike had glanced at her several times, and once or twice looked as if he was going to speak to her, but hadn’t.

Buffy sighed at Xander‘s tone. She’d known she was going to have problems with him over this. Not that that was going to stop her, but it would be so much easier if everyone was on board.

“ So perhaps I missed the memo – the newspaper article – the TV show when we were told that the demon inside a vampire is really a nice fuzzy pink bunny with big ears who only eats chocolate instead of a cold-blooded, evil thing who will kill us all as soon as look at us!”

“Xander!” Anya was freaking out at the thought of a demon rabbit.

William peered at Xander over an old pair of Giles’ spectacles that Buffy had found for him, abandoned in a drawer. She’d noticed the way he was squinting a bit and realised that that particular pair of blue eyes was looking very tired.

“Mr Harris, you seem to have some doubts about our progress in this matter.”

“Doubts? Doubts?” Xander shrugged in despair. “Oh no. Not at all. We’ll just shake the demon’s hand when he arrives and explain exactly what we need him to do. I’m sure he’ll just stand there, nice and peaceful like, and do what we ask without arguing! I mean, demon, pure evil, why shouldn’t he!?”

“Buffy, he’s right about that. We can’t just let the demon appear without containing it in some way,” Willow chimed in.

“Then here’s a thought – don’t let the demon appear in the first place!”

“Xander – we’ve got to.” Buffy looked grim. “I’m not sacrificing Spike and William by killing the Master now unless I have to. We can still do this dimension thingy if we get the demon to make up the threesome.”

“What happens afterwards?” It was Dawn’s voice, very small, very tight, coming from the depth of her chair. “I mean, good, we get rid of the Master, but we’re still left with three guys, Spike, William and Demon. What happens then?”

Buffy bit her lip. “I don’t know, Dawn. I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

“I have to go back.” William sounded exhausted and Buffy glanced at him sharply, wondering if existing in another body, years away from his own time was somehow diminishing his energy.

“You could stay!” Dawn sat up straighter, her face suddenly determined. “You like it here, don’t you. You get on with Spike. You could share his crypt.”

Two pairs of very blue eyes immediately showed the same horrified expression. Spike started to speak, but William put out his hand and for once the vampire fell silent.

“That’s a – nice – idea, Dawn. Yes, I do enjoy being here with you all. But, don’t you see – ”

“He has to go back!” Spike couldn’t contain himself any longer.

“Why? Just because Buffy likes him as well as you?” Dawn shot the question at him and Buffy realised with a start that her little sister wasn’t nearly as sweet and innocent as she’d once believed. She was growing up – fast!

Spike glared round and Buffy winced at the expression on his face. She sighed inside her head. They were going to have ‘the talk’ soon. Although why she had to apologise to Spike for sleeping with William when they were the same person – well, sort of – was beyond her.

“No, William and Buffy can have the love affair of the century if they want to,” he said. “But it won’t solve the problem. William has to go back, otherwise – ”

“Otherwise Spike can’t be here now,” William finished for him. “I have to return to meet the people who turn me into a vampire.”

“Angel, Darla and Dru,” Willow said.

Spike laughed, but it wasn’t a pleasant sound. “Perhaps you’ll walk down another road and none of this will bloody well happen. Now you know what lies ahead, I suppose you can change it.”

Buffy glanced across at Willow. “Is that true, Will?”

The witch shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t imagine William will remember any of this when he gets back inside his body again. But we know he was turned, because Spike is here.”

“My head hurts thinking about it,” Buffy moaned. “So, we’ll deal with all that once we’ve sent the Master on his way.”

“Buffy!” Xander stood up, appalled written over every inch of his body. “Please listen to me. Don’t do this!”

“Xander, I am listening and hey, input always good, but it’s my decision.”

And when wasn’t it her final decision when the big bad choices had to be made? she thought grimly. When did she ever get the chance to say, “Hey, let’s do what you suggest this time.”? And would she want to?

“We’ll need some sort of cage,” Spike said. “Something me and ‘guess who’s coming to dinner’ can’t get out of quickly.”

“Or at all!” Anya added brightly.

“Or at all,” Spike agreed quietly.

“Xander?” Buffy turned to him. “Can you rig something up downstairs? Please!”

Xander stood, staring at her, for a long while. Then he shrugged. “Ok, come on Dawnie, you can give me a hand.”

“Oh, can I use the power drill?”


Their voices faded as they clattered away down the stairs.

“Will, Anya, I need you to double check everything there is to know about the Ferry-Gemmy stick thing. We saw what happened when Toth used it and we got Spike back when we used it on William. I have to be sure that I can get the demon out of Spike.”

“Ferula-Gemina,” Willow said absentmindedly. “OK, come on Anya. You take the books, I’ll dive into the Internet.”

William, who’d been leaning quietly against the door, straightened up. He glanced at Spike, then at Buffy, sensing the tension between them. “I’ll assist if I may, Miss Willow,” he said cheerfully. “You never know, my knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek may be useful.”

The room seemed very quiet when they’d gone. Buffy opened the door onto the dark yard and walked outside. She sat on the top step and waited. She refused to ask him to sit with her. But then, she knew she didn’t have to.

“Reckon it’s safe to be out here, Slayer?” he said, throwing himself down beside her, but, she noticed with a wince, making sure he didn’t actually touch her. “Can’t imagine the Master will be standing around drinking tea and discussing the weather with his mates.”

“Ten minutes. I reckon we’ve got about that long before another attack. He’ll go to the Magic Box first, then work out that we’re here. Thirty minutes or so to make big speeches to his followers, then he’ll hit us.”

“So by then we need to get Demon Boy out of me and in the mood to help. That’ll be a fun conversation.”

Buffy took a deep breath. Everyone was taking it for granted that they could pull this off. That the demon would appear. But what if they were wrong? What if it all went horribly skewy and she lost Spike. There was so little time but just in case, she had to have told him –

“About William!” she blurted out.

“Your lover?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s not my lover. He’s not my anything!”

“If he’s not your lover, why can I smell him – me – no him! – all over you?”

Buffy glared at him. Why the hell was he being so jealous? They weren’t engaged, for god’s sake. OK, they were together in lots of ways but he had no right to think he had some sort of right to –

“And don’t pretend you thought William was me! He’d only have to open his mouth for you to know he wasn’t. Oh, wait, maybe you didn’t give him a chance to open his mouth. Too busy shoving your tongue inside it. Or some other part of your anatomy!”

Buffy’s fist was heading for his nose before she could stop it, but his hand was faster and grabbed her fingers before they could smash into his face. She could feel her temper desperate to escape. “Pig! Rotten pig! OK, I admit I knew he wasn’t you. But he was! You, I mean, in a way. William is you. The you before you. I’m fond of him. But that’s all. And anyway, who I have sex with is my business.”

Spike pulled her closer and glared at her, shaking with anger, his eyes a furious navy blue. “So, what’s going to happen when Demon Boy arrives? He’s a sort of me, too. Will you be fond of him as well? Are you going to open your legs for him to welcome him home? Perhaps we can all oblige. All four of us in bed together. Does that tickle your fancy, Slayer?”

Buffy dragged herself away from him and stood up. She was shaken at the pain and bitterness in his voice. She’d known he was upset – she’d sensed that right from the second he’d reappeared, but she’d had no idea just how badly he’d taken her sleeping with William.

This hurtful, crude, sarcastic Spike was someone she didn’t know. Or never admitted knowing, a voice inside her head said.

“You’re sick!” she spat out. “I just wanted to explain. God knows why I bothered if all I’m going to get from you is this jealous crap. Geez, Spike, perhaps I will fancy Demon Boy. He might have better manners than you! Although I’m beginning to think I should just kill the Master and get rid of you once and for all!”

And she spun round and marched back inside the house, banging the door behind her.

Spike sat on, hunched up, glaring out at the dark night sky, wishing the Master and his friends would appear so he could kill, destroy, hurt, anything to get rid of the ache inside his chest.

“So, I get turned into a vampire and become a foul-mouthed fool as well. I declare that is something to look forward to!”

Spike groaned as William came out onto the porch. “You heard?”

The second blond vampire sat down where Buffy had just been. “I believe the whole neighbourhood probably heard you both.”

“Sodding Slayer! Bitch! I hate her.”

William stared at his own face, wondering at the pain he saw etched on it so clearly. “But you love Buffy.”

“Of course I bloody love her!” Spike roared. “Why do you think it hurt so much that she slept with you?”

“But you don’t hate me? I was also, er, involved.”

Spike glanced across at him. Odd, that this was what he looked like. Bloody hell, it was weird. He should hate William; he should want to tear out his throat, but he didn’t. He – he found himself smiling – against his will he liked William! OK, the man was a weak, romantic fool, and that was a side of himself that he’d despised, but he was a brave romantic fool and he didn’t blame him for sleeping with the Slayer when he had the chance.

“No, I don’t hate you,” he said wearily.

“Miss Summers loves you,” William said and stood up, towering over his future self. “I may not be very wise in such matters because, as you know, my feelings for Cecily are on a far purer level, but I think you would be unwise to throw away such a love.”

Spike stood up, too. He wondered idly if William’s feelings for Cecily would remain pure when if he got back to his own time. He somehow doubted that after his encounters with Buffy that he would see Cecily in the same light.

But then he remembered that William wouldn’t remember anything that had happened here. Poor bloke! All that sex and passion and no memory of it remaining.

William frowned. “I came out to tell you that they have finished with the research into the Toth staff. I believe Mr Harris has constructed a cage in the basement and so we are all ready, if you are, to bring forth our other brother.“

Spike looked startled. “Brother?”

William smiled and held out his hand. “Oh yes. Our brother. And one we must protect – as much as he will protect us!”

To be continued
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