Author: spikes_heart and liliaeth in their first ever joint effort
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Pairing: Angel/Nina, Gunn/Anne, sort of S/B, with hints of A/B
Setting: One year post NFA
Disclaimer: If they were ours, would we be writing fanfic?
Feedback: Yes, please!
Archive: Ask us, nicely.
Warning: Not a B/A fic
A/N: Spoilers for the entire run of BtVS and AtS - our take on what happened after the lights went out
Beta'd by: A sneak appearance by Willa!
Summary: Before the Powers that Be withdrew from the playing fields, they made one last move with their favorite pawns - leaving Angel to clean up their mess.
Buffy’s entire world had narrowed over the span of her incarceration to one little boy – William. He who used to be Spike; once known as William the Bloody. She heard him in her head all the time now. His incessant babbling until someone paid attention to him upon awakening; his discomfort when he needed his diaper changed. On occasion, she could even hear faint snatches of speech from whomever William was interacting with.
William! Buffy thought his name as loudly as she could, and was rewarded with a delighted whoop. She could feel his proximity, and sure enough… he came toddling through the garden door and made a beeline straight for her feet. A hug was his standard greeting. Buffy looked forward to them with relish. Nobody else entered the garden, but she could sense what’s her name? Something that started with a C… Charlotte, that’s right, nearby.
She wanted to push the mental connection a bit further. Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies…” she sang, thrilled when Will responded by bopping up and down in place, bending his knees as he clapped his hands in time to her tune.
“Asses, asses, down!” he trilled, falling onto his bottom, then scrambling up to do it all over again.
Their fun came to a halt the moment Buffy felt a familiar tingle down the center of her spine.
Vampire! And it’s not Angel.
Will! she cried, desperately hoping he’d listen. Run to Charlotte. Run home..
The little boy looked up at her, confused. He offered up a small blue flower clutched in his chubby fist.
No, baby, it’s not a game, Buffy insisted, trying to change tactics. Let’s play something new. I close my eyes, and you run home..
Nada. Will stubbornly sat down.
Buffy was totally helpless when Drusilla glided into the garden enclosure sporting her gameface, unnoticed by Charlotte, squatting down directly in front of William.
She had to try once more. Please, Will. Get up. Still no response from the boy.
“Hello, my William,” Drusilla cooed, lifting the boy’s face to meet his eyes. “Princess has missed you.”
“Pwetty,” he said, bopping the vampiress on the nose before returning his attention to a patch of wildflowers. He ripped a pink one from the ground and offered it to Drusilla, giggling as the dirt dropped onto her shoulder.
“Not now, little one,” Drusilla admonished. “We will have time to play our games later. It’s more important to leave the naughty children before Daddy gets home. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Will turned to Buffy and waved. “Buh bye.”
The vampiress grew agitated. “No, no, my sweet Willy. No words for mean old sunshine. She’s not deserving of your gifts. She never was.” She scooped the boy into her arms and turned to walk away.
It’s a trick, Spike! Don’t go with the bad lady. She’ll hurt you all over again! Buffy screamed so loud in her head she could feel the shrieks reverberating inside her marble prison.
William held his hands to his ears. “Boo boo!” he cried, shaking his head back and forth.
“Naughty sunshine; hurting the poppet.” Drusilla stuck her tongue out as she waltzed the boy around the statue. “Ring around the rosy, Sunshine’s being nosy.” She stopped in front of Buffy and tapped her on the nose. “Mummy will take her dark knight somewhere safe.”
“Go Dada?” Will pulled Drusilla’s long curly hair, pointing in the direction of the hotel.
Buffy heard a commotion from the inside of the building. As if seeing through Will’s eyes, she could make out a panicked Charlotte running into the garden, dragging an extremely reluctant Hugh after her.
About damned time someone noticed the kid was in trouble. Wouldn’t she love to give Angel an earful!
“No need for Daddy, little one,” Drusilla cooed, dragging her nails along his delicate neck. “Don’t be afraid, poppets,” she said, holding her free hand up to stop Charlotte in her tracks. “William is perfectly safe now that Mummy is here.”
She turned her head on Buffy for the last time. “Say bye-bye, sweet Willy. We’re going home,” Drusilla backed away slowly, seeming to draw Charlotte after her. “Do be good pets and tell your Master Will is with his mum.”
“Oh dear Lord,” Hugh gasped, turning a lighter shade of pale. “Drusilla!”
“So Council’s little worm knows his betters? Smart boy!” She snapped her fangs together in his direction, delighting in the scent of pure fear rising from the man.
Charlotte had crept closer while Drusilla was pre-occupied with Hugh, holding her arms out to grab Will.
The vampiress moved swiftly, scoring Charlotte’s cheek with her sharp nails. “Like dark chocolate you are. Don’t try it, dearie,” she hissed, licking the girl’s blood delicately from her nails. “He’ll be dead before you touch him.”
Charlotte fell at Drusilla’s feet, clutching her face as the blood dripped through her fingers. “What kind of monster are you?”
Tsk, tsk! “The girl lives with the wolf and Daddy, and yet has no clue when faced with his childe. Silly creature, my William – she won’t last long, living in ignorance of his true self.”
With an indignant squawk, Charlotte attempted to staunch the wounds on her cheek. “Hey, I know he’s a vampire, and I know all about…”
“In a bloody cage, he is,” Drusilla hissed, baring her fangs once more. “And my William used to rattle the bars with the worst of them – his fangs would have rent you open from collar to hem without a second thought. Now Princess will have to teach him all over again.”
Buffy felt like crying. She knew there wasn’t a thing she could do to save the boy – the horror of such a young child being turned made her stomach roil. She wasn’t used to praying… she was far more of a take things into her own hands kind of gal, but being statuefied had taken away her other options. Buffy prayed for the boy’s innocent soul to be saved… Spike had earned that soul with his pain and suffering the first, or was it the second time around… it would kill him to lose it to that bitch once again.
Why didn’t Hugh do something? And where the hell was Angel? This was his loonytunes relative. His responsibility.
I should have staked the ho years ago.
Staring at the Watcher in question, Buffy noticed a strange, silvery mist form above Hugh’s head. As if shot from a bow, it entered the man’s head with enough force to break him out of his stasis.
Holy crap. What the frilly heck was that?
“Must. Get. Help,” he spat out with some effort. “Can’t do this…” Instead of rushing forward to help, he grabbed Charlotte’s hand, attempting to pull her from the floor and back towards the safety of the hotel.
Drusilla’s thrall broken for a moment, Charlotte turned back and reached out for William one more time. “Come to me, Will…come to Lotte. Time for bed, and Daddy will come up and read you a bedtime story,” she begged, encouraged when the boy began to strain towards her. “That’s right, cutie – come back to me.”
Drusilla snatched William closer to her bosom. “No, my little blackbird. T’isn’t time for bed yet. We’ve still got so many games to play before naptime… and look,” she cried delightedly. “We’ve got more guests for our party!” just as Angel and Connor burst into the little garden, followed by Hugh.
“Put the boy down, Drusilla.”
Thank God! Someone listened for a change.
Taking advantage of her distraction, Charlotte grabbed the small gold cross she wore around her neck, and pressed it into the vampiress’ ankle, causing her to lose her tight grip on Will for a moment.
“Dark as the night sky – lit by pixies, so sure you know what keeps you safe… aren’t you, dearie? Are you sure?” she growled, dangling the boy by one leg. “Sometimes the pixies lie.”
William showed his indignation at being treated like a rag doll by whining as he thrashed about, trying to right himself. During the struggle, one of Drusilla’s talon-like nails caught in his baby-round calf, causing a thin line of blood to soak into his pants leg, attracting the attention of both vampires.
“Charlotte, back the hell away from her,” Angel barked, his own growl superceding his childe’s. “Dru, put the boy down or so help me I’ll tear him apart limb by limb. I’ve set you on fire once before. Believe me, it will be a great pleasure to light another match and watch you burst into flame.”
Even the crickets stopped chirping at Angel’s threat to his youngest son.
Charlotte crabwalked back to Connor, who helped her up from the ground. Pushing her behind his body for safety, he raised the crossbow he’d been carrying, cocked the bolt and moved the sight between Drusilla and his father. Something was very wrong here.
“Daddy? Have you come back to Princess?” Drusilla’s manner had changed from predatory to meek and submissive. She pouted and stamped her foot. “I just wanted my dark prince at my side.
He swore he was my destiny.”
“Oh come on, Dru. You know how bad you were when it came to taking care of your pets.” Angel inched closer to his mad childe, keeping his eye on the boy at all times. “You remember all those desiccated birds and cats we had to bury because you kept forgetting to feed them? And how about all those little girls you loved to turn – little dollies, you called them. After a few hours of combing their hair and dressing them up you couldn’t take their demands any longer, and staked them.”
Drusilla whimpered, pulling William back up into her arms. “I’ll take good care of him, Daddy, and then he’ll take care of Princess, like he used to.”
Angel chuckled with amusement. “No can do, Dru. You’ll get tired of the boy before the week is over, and who’d be left to clean up the mess? Me, and all you’d have left would be a dead shell, a boy too young to dance with you, or care for you. He’s a baby, Drusilla. He can hardly walk.”
Will struggled to escape his captor’s hold. With Angel so close, the little boy’s priorities shifted. “Da! Go dada!”
Atta boy, Spike. Tell that nutbag where you wanna be.
“Daddy can’t save you now, sweet Willy,” she murmured, swaying back and forth..
“Let him go now, Drusilla, or the only thing you’ll be doing is fertilizing the flowers at Buffy’s feet.”
“You wouldn’t kill him! The Angelbeast wouldn’t let a child die, would you? Would he?” Insecurity poured off the vampiress, looking at Angel with hope in her almond shaped eyes.
He shook his head, looking around at the frightened, angry humans behind him, then focused his attention back on his childe. “Can’t let you take the boy. I’d rather see him dead, first. And I’d rather it be at my hand than your fangs.”
Connor’s growl was nearly as impressive as his father’s. The threat against the brother he’d just found didn’t sit well at all with him.
Had he really slipped the soul’s shackles? Was that Angelus threatening to kill Spike again? My god, what if this was a way to finally get rid of him? Buffy stared hard at the scene before her, desperate to find the soul in the vampire.
By now, Will’s struggles had increased. His whines had progressed to full fledged wails as he tried to push Drusilla away. “Want Dada. Want Dada now,” he cried, turning red in the face from his displeasure.
Drusilla’s face took on a cagey expression. “No, not Daddy after all. Not yet. But he’ll show you the way home, yes, he will. And he’ll remember his mummy, won’t he?” With a mad cackle, Drusilla tossed baby Will at Angel, who only just managed to catch the boy before he hit the ground. If she’d had a heart of flesh, not stone, Buffy would have had a major coronary – but thank God, Will was safe. For the moment.
Without another word, the vampiress backed out of the garden and was gone.
Connor walked in front of his father, crossbow now aimed directly at his heart. “Put the boy down, Angelus.”
Hugh stood with his mouth open, ready to run for his life if Angelus was back on the scene.
Angel groaned, throwing his head back in annoyance. “What is it with you people? I save the kid, and all of a sudden I’m evil?”
“Do you still have that cage in the basement? Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to lock yourself in for a day or so for everyone to feel more secure. You’ve got to admit, Dad… it really hasn’t been all that long since Angelus’ last visit. You were pretty convincing there for a bit.” Connor lowered the crossbow with reluctance, torn between safety first, and his feelings for his father.
“What do you mean about Angel going evil,” Charlotte asked Connor, her wide brown eyes still showing the trauma of earlier events. “And who the hell is this Angelus you’re talking about?”
Hugh seemed to have recovered his wits somewhat, and walked with Charlotte back into the hotel. “That’s a story for another day… once we’ve all rested.”
“And I bet he twists it all up and sends that girl running for the hills,” Angel grumbled. “C’mon, William. You’ve had enough excitement for one day.
Buffy watched them trudge back inside the hotel, relieved that Drusilla was gone for the moment, and that Will was safe. The babble in her head was relaxed and happy as the boy played with his father and brother in a soothing bubble bath. She could almost feel the tickle of the popping bubbles against her skin.
The ticklish feeling continued, even as Will fell asleep, and Buffy wondered what it could be… like someone trying to contact her?
Oh! Maybe Giles or Willow found a way to free me?
The feeling of a whisper against her skin… followed by the knowledge that someone else had joined the party in her head. Almost familiar and definitely comforting, Buffy let her mind be soothed. As she drifted, a sudden tug of war took place… within moments, she found herself lying on the ground, looking up at her marble prison.
“What the fuck?”
Buffy stood, watching as she walked through large rocks and grass. However, when she tried to walk through the door to the hotel, she bounced back, landing on the ground.
“Great, the one thing I can feel is a Buffy barrier.” She pouted, not that there was anyone around to see it. She looked at herself, able to see through her shimmery limbs. So many questions to be answered. Could she be seen by someone else? Or heard? Was she permanently free of the statue, but condemned to exist just in the garden?
“To hell with it all,” she yelled, dancing around the place in an ironic imitation of Drusilla. “What a relief to have surround-sound vision!”
She was free, and that was all that mattered.