Chapter 3 - WTF?

Anya stood in the open doorway, the broken door on the floor in front of her, the afternoon sunlight highlighting her rippled demonic complexion. Rage oozed out of her like an unpleasant aura, an expression that was reinforced by the red dress flapping around her

For a moment, she just stood there while the dust twirled around her, her hands hanging in tight fists by her sides. Then her eyes narrowed, and her right hand flew up, pointing a trembling index finger at Xander as she stepped into the living room.

“I will make you pay!”

Xander slowly backed up against the wall, staring in terror at his former fiancee. Dealing with an ex wasn’t this hard for most people, but most people’s former lovers hadn’t spent centuries perfecting the art of maiming and torture in the name of venegance.

A few weeks earlier, the trio had spent dinner playfully discussing how Sunnydale really could use a therapist that knew how to deal with the issues that only citizens of Sunnydale struggled with an a daily basis - like a supernaturally-themed "Dr Phil".

Now this suddenly seemed like a really good idea.

Buffy surely needed serious therapy regarding her post-death, then post-resurrection depression, and Willow could certainly use some help dealing with how she had handled her grief over Tara's death by almost killing everyone on planet Earth. And, if there was a supernatural Dr. Phil, perhaps Anya might have found a better way to channel her anger than to return to the demonic community, and then she wouldn't be standing in their living room like some sort of Prada-sponsored Grim Reaper.

"Doesn't anybody knock these days?” Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed.

Xander and Dawn stared at her, confused about the slayer’s calm reaction.

“Oh, please," Buffy crossed her arms, and looked at her baffled friends, "Don’t you know that vengeance demons can’t retaliate on their own behalf? Do your homework, guys.”

Strangely enough, even Anya looked surprised.

“Dammit," she cursed to herself.

It took a little more than a bitter demon with a bad memory to stir Buffy up.

“I’m gonna call the insurance company about the door, since I guess you’re not going to pay, Anya. I mean, since you’re obviously evil nowadays," she sighed again, “Oh, how I’m so NOT their favorite client. If there was any justice in the world, the Watcher’s Council would pay for the Apocalypse - and demonic-related insurance fees.”

Without another word, she walked into the kitchen. A second later, she stuck her head out in the doorway.

“If she tries to hit you or something," she called, "just yell. Now, behave, kids.”

Dawn and Xander looked at each other in distress as to say “now what?”, and Anya appeared to have completely lost her train of thought. Buffy had ruined her well thought-out entrance, and now she was trying to figure out a way to save the situation with her honor intact. To an outside observer, it must have seemed a lot like a scene from a whacky "Twilight Zone" variant of "Days of Our Lives".

The only thing missing was a really big hour glass...

The room was taken over by one of those very uncomfortable silences, the kind when you just know that somebody is going to say something stupid just to break the silence.

And, of course, this somebody was Xander.

“Demon again, huh?“ he said the words a little too loud.

His expression changed, moving from lingering terror to heartfelt pain, as he looked at the woman he almost married.

She stared back at him in slient rage.

“So," Xander felt his tension growing, "the vengeance job… good dental plan?”

“Demons don’t get caries, you moron!” Anya eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms, “And by the way, seems kind of stupid for you to care about my teeth when you obviously had no problem tearing my heart out of my chest a few months ago!”

Anya's voice was soaked with hurt. Although she had lived her life as a bringer of death and pain, she was more sensitive than the Scoobies ever had understood. Her heart was the reason she got into the demonic business in the first place, and her heart was the reason for her relapse.

Xander remembered all the times she had been snuggled up against him, her smooth chin against his, her soft body close to his. Oh, he knew so well that there was more to Anya than blunt remarks and fashion sense. When he had looked into her eyes he had seen her soul, but now he only saw bitterness.

And he had a hard time remembering why he decided to give it all up.

He wished he could reach out and touch her, hold her, and tell her that "everyhing’s gonna be alright", but that wasn’t going to happen for a multitude of reasons. He'd lost his chance, and suddenly it didn’t seem to matter if she did tear him in half and feed him to a pack of hellhounds.

"If it’s worth anything," Xander avoided her gaze, “I’m sorry. I’m an idiot.”

“Well, what else is new?” Anya replied.

Without noticing it herself, Anya’s face morphed back to her human appearance. Her vengeance mission had officially lost all it’s momentum.

“If you want to, you can beat me up," Xander offered.

“Oh, please!” Anya snapped, “I came here to turn your body inside out.I don’t beat people up, that’s amateur stuff.”

Xander looked down at the floor, and Anya’s eyes begun to wander,
looking at everything but Xander. In the background, there was the faint sound of Buffy’s voice as she was finishing her call.

* * * * * *

His sheets were tangled around him, like a big cocoon. He lay as still as he could, hoping that the demons would pass him by.

But they never did. The blackness covered his heart like tar, and the whispers never stopped. They told him that he should die, that he was evil and bad.

A murderer. A plague, a dagger, a poison.

But she came to him. She held him, and wiped his tears with her small, pale hands and caressed his hair. The golden strands of hair fell against his face like soothing fabric, and the soft lips touched his forehead.

She would save him, he knew that. The touch of her skin reassured him, the scent of her body told him that there would be peace for him, salvation.

But then she disintegrated in his embrace.

His love was an illness, and everything he touched fell to ashes. There were quick flashes of a shower curtain, a sink, an arm struggling to free itself from his grip, eyes.

And then nausea swept over him like an tsunami.

In his misery and madness, Spike didn’t notice the Being materializing in the shadows in the other side of the room. Then something stirred his senses, and he turned.

The Being looked down at Spike, pleased about the pitiful vampire before him. It was amusing that William the Bloody stared at him with the eyes of an innocent, terrified child, ready to beg for mercy.

Indeed, William was going to be of tremendous value.

It had really only been luck. The other one hadn’t been useful for his purposes. He was way too strong, so there was no point in even trying. But here was the answer to his prayers, an unexpected blessing.

Well, he didn’t actually pray, but he liked the human’s quaint expressions.

He reached down slowly and touched the terrified vampire. Spike backed away, only to find himself trapped against the wall. The dark figure pushed a long, pointy figure into the dead flesh of Spike’s chest. A small, ring of light appeared around the pierced area, and the glow
became increasingly brighter.

At first, Spike gasped in surprise, then the pain struck, and he screamed like he never had screamed before. Through the agony and, he suddenly saw a flash of images.

No, more like emotional messages than images.

Not like the memories he struggled against earlier, but dark, disturbing visuals that he never had seen before, and wished that he would never see again. He screamed once more, and this time not from the physical pain, but of the horror that filled him.

The agonizing screams jolted the little group downstairs.

Dawn immediately headed towards the stairs. Buffy followed reluctantly, suspecting that this time was about something worse than ordinary insanity.

When they got there, they saw Spike’s pale figure pressed up against the wall, with his face twisted in agony. On his bare chest there was a strange glowing circle.

Buffy approached him carefully, reaching out her hand to examine the bizarre mark, but when he saw her, he jumped to his feet and backed away, moving into the corner beside the bed and crouching there, trembling.

Buffy hesitated, but Dawn walked over to him, and got down at her knees before him, trying to catch his eyes.

“Spike? What is it? Tell us?” she asked.

When she spoke she noticed that something was off. Something about Dawn herself. She couldn’t really put her finger on it, but she felt a wave of something. A numbness, kind of. And was it… amusement? But this was not the time for introspection.

Finally, he looked at her. She was shocked by how tired and worn he looked. After a second, he tilted his head as if it was to heavyfor his neck, and his shoulders slouched.

Darkness is coming," he spoke with a broken voice, "And I’m the one who will bring it.”

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