Chapter 6 - Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

There were many kinds of uncomfortable emotions that plagued humanity. There was that feeling that occurred when you had eaten way too much cake. There was that feeling that came when you were at an awkward family dinner and your uncle started making corny comments, nudging at you with his elbow.

And then there was that feeling of waking up with dried tears in your eyes, leaning with with your cheek against a plastic toy tractor.

Xander sat up, wiped some drool from his face, and immediately felt that nausea and a pressing headache were approaching. He sat up on the hard waiting room bench and looked at the clock. It was twelve o'clock, and the noon sunlight fell on him with tauntingly joyful light.

Before he could get himself together enough to go force his way into the treatment room and demand answers on Dawn's condition, one of the doctors spotted him through the glass of the swinging doors.

Xander stood up and went to meet him half-way.

“Mr Harris, isn’t it?” The tall doctor said as he entered the waiting

Xander looked really hard, trying to decipher the doctor's facial expression to see if the news was bad or good, but the doctor's face give no hints.

“How is she?”

“I’m sorry, but she hasn’t regained consciousness yet. She has serious internal injuries, and for the time being, at least, we just have to wait and see.”

Xander found himself growing increasingly angry about the man’s neutral expression. He wanted him to seem at least a little bit upset - not this professional, this calm.

“What do you mean ­ wait and see?”, he blurted out, “This is your job for crying out loud, surely you can do better than that!?”

“Calm down Mr Harris," The doctor seemed stressed by the younger man’s bad temper, "We’re doing all we can.”

“Do better!”

“Perhaps," the doctor placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to bring out his friendliest voice, "you should get away from here for a while? Spend some time with friends? We’ve got your number, and we’ll let you know as soon as there’s a change in her condition.”

As the doctor left him and returned to his work, Xander sighed loudly in frustration.

Coffee. He needed coffee.

Xander's gaze once again fell on the vending machine. This time he was determined to make it give him at least some kind of liquid. He put a coin in the slot, and pressed the button, but once again the machine produced nothing but a few noises. Without a second’s hesitation, his fist hit the display, breaking the plastic into little jagged pieces.

Sudden, intense pain in his knuckles chided him for the angry gesture.

“Friends!” he said to himself sharply, watching his injured knuckles turn bright red, then purple, “Perhaps I should spend time with some friends.”

* * * * * *

He took a deep breath.

Her scent was the only thing that existed. It soothed him and killed him over and over, almost like a Sisyphus thing, a path that never ended and a heart that never healed.

Hell was this.

It was the resuide of her presence that broke him and the horror of her absence that tore him apart. If he wished hard enough, would she come back to make it all right? Would she clean his wounds and tell him it was all a dream? That she had been a dream?

She was heaven and hell, and when she touched him she left him in ashes.

* * * * * *

As Anya stepped into the Summer’s house, she could do nothing but stare.

Yesterday, this was a lovely little household that would have made Martha Stewart proud. It was a well known fact that when there weren’t any apocalyptic battles going on, they always kept things neat and cosy, with matching fabrics and nicely organized bookshelf contents, but now she found herself in what looked like one of those “C.S.I” crime scenes, save for the missing “Police line. Do not cross”-ribbons at the front door.

She stepped over a messed-up rug and found herself standing in a pool of blood. She felt a growing queasiness, tried to push it away, but the worries wouldn’t leave her alone.

Who’s blood was it? And did she even want to know about the bloody copy of "Remembrance of Things Past"?

Whoever was the cause of this still might be in the house.

Or perhaps there was someone who needed help, she thought, embarrassed about her lack of demonic indifference. It was bad enough that she had come here to apologize and to see Xander again. It was now official ­ she was the worst vengeance demon ever. Once she was feared all through the realms, and look at her now!

She silently cursed the humans and their corrupting company. They were like one of those street gangs with lame names, only with compassion and other crappy things instead of guns and powder that made people funny.

She stopped and listened for a minute, but there were no sounds. Then she heard a small noise from the second floor. Cursing her curiosity, she silently made her way up the stairs, trying to locate where the
sound had come from. A moment later, she was standing outside of Buffy’s room, with her demonic heart pounding in her chest. There were drips of blood leading to the doorway, and a red smear on the door knob.

That never was a good sign.

She gathered up her courage and pushed the door slightly open and peeked into the dark room.

She noticed a figure that lying in the bed, and as she took a small step past the threshold, she studied it intensly, trying to make out who it was, and if this someone was friend or foe. She realized with discomfort that those categories were somewhat vague for her at the

As she moved closer, she started to amke out out some features, and when she got to the bed, she felt a kind of tentative relief that the figure was Spike.

He was lying with his back to her, curled up in a strained fetal position. The faint light from the window created a blueish outline that gave his silhouette an almost mysterious appearance. His body was shaking a little bit, and Anya could see his muscles moving in erratic rhythm as they alternated in tensing up and relaxing. His pale, bare back was covered in wounds that had left small spots of blood on the linen bedding, but the wounds didn’t seem like something that his vampire healing wouldn’t take care of.

What took her a moment to notice was that he was holding a pillow in a tight embrace.

Buffy’s pillow.

As she leaned forward a little bit, she saw that he had his face burrowed deeply into the soft material. Leaking out from the fluffy fill of down, she could hear muffled sobs.

This couldn’t be good, she thought, especially considering his unknown friend/foe-status and thus, his possible involvement in the unknown events downstairs.

Anya was taken completely off guard. What did humans do with crying vampires? Was there some kind of etiquette regarding this, cause in that case she must have missed the memo.

Ok, crying called for… empathy, right?

For the first time, she actually missed Xander's annoyed comments.

With a sigh, she leaned down and patted him gently on the arm.

“Ehm… there, there.”

She waited for a response, but there was no change in his condition.

She patted him again, this time a little bit harder.

“There, there. There, there.”

Ok, now she was officially out of options. She left the room briefly, only to return with a bucket of Plan B, which she unceremoniously poured over the trembling vampire.

As the cold water rushed over Spike, he jerked onto his knees on the bed, staring around him like a startled animal.

“Hey, I’m not gonna hurt you! It’s me, it’s Anya!”

He remained on the bed, wet and shivering, and looking at her without recognition. Then the pain seemed to push the shock away, and he peered out into the dark hallway.

“Buffy”, he slid to the edge of the bed and sat there with slouching shoulders, his eyes to the floor.

“No”, the demon girl replied, “Anya. An-ya.”

He lifted his head again and looked at her.

“Buffy”, he whispered.

Anya felt a sting in her heart. The poor vampire was really messed up, not to mention lovesick. For a moment she found herself pondering on her own soul status. If she had a soul, wouldn’t she be loosing her mind over her history too? On second thought, souls might be an overrated commodity since it seemed to have the side effect of insanity and, apparently, a pillow fetish.

“What about Buffy?”she asked.

He looked away again.

“Did something happen to her?”, Anya continued cautiously.

There was a look on his face that she couldn’t decipher, but it reflected a pain that she couldn’t shield herself from. She took a step closer and sat down next to him on the cold, wet bed. They sat there for some time without looking at each other or speaking. This probably wasn’t the time for interrogations.

“I’m bad," he finally spoke, still looking away, "and she punished me.”

She looked at the pale, chilled vampire next to her, silently hoping that it was some kind of kinky sex metaphor, ‘cause kinky sex she could deal with. Perhaps Buffy had a thing for crazy people?

“I tried to save her, but I failed. I failed, and she punished me.”

She looked at him, now with worry in her eyes. That didn’t sound like sex. Then her eyes once again fell on his wounds, and she felt a lump in her throat.

Slowly she reached out her hand, and as she touched his bruised skin, he flinched a little bit. She felt that she probably was way out on the limb, but she needed to know.

“Was it Buffy who did this to you?”

“I’m bad," he was weeping, "and she punished me.”

What the hell?

“So it’s your blood downstairs?”, Anya asked, trying not to picture the scene.

Suddenly he lifted his head and looked at her like there was something he had forgotten, and then he was quickly on his feet.

“Dawn! Where is Dawn!”

Anya stood up, placing one hand on his shoulder.

“I don’t know," she told him, "Calm down and tell me what happened!”

Spike stared straight at her for a second.

“Did she die?!”, he shouted.

“Die?!” Anya asked. Not good, not good.

“I don’t know," he went on, "She was here, and then she hurt her!”

“What do you mean? …Buffy?” Not good at all.

“Did Buffy… hurt Dawn?”

Anya was horrified and confused. What the hell was going on?

“Is she here?”, Spike rose, then ran out into the hallway, calling, “Dawn!”

“Oh my God. Xander,” Anya walked up to him, grabbing his arm, “Where is
Xander?! Is he ok?”

“He’s fine. He was here but… he left with Dawn. After Buffy…”

He fell to his knees and covered his face in his hands.

“It’s my fault," he wailed, "I should have helped her. I should have seen…”

Anya sat down in front of him, not knowing what to think. She reached out and pried his hands away, holding them while she met the guilt in his eyes.

“Listen”, she said with a soft voice, “I don’t know what really happened here, but I’m sure we can figure it out. It’s gonna be ok.”

Yep, definitely the worst vengeance demon ever.

* * * * *

“So, let me get this straight, Buffy went completely crazy?”

They were sitting in the sofa in the living room, both slightly shivering from the wet clothes that stuck to their bodies like uncomfortable second skin. There weren’t exactly piles of men’s clothes lying around in the house, and Anya would rather get a urinary infection than wear any of Buffy’s ugly skirts.

Anya insisted on making some coffee for herself and the vampire. Spike didn’t have the energy to tell her that caffeine made him strange and that it often tasted like liquid cardboard, but at least the hot liquid helped a little in warming himself up.

After a while, she managed to make some kind of sense out of Spike’s depressing litanies, and she began to tie the loose ends together.

“Ok, so a ringwraith came for a visit, made you glow in a non-post-sex related way, and gave you a personal preview of coming attractions. Then Buffy does a Faith in the spirit of your visions? Well, it’s another Friday in Sunnydale. Come for the food, stay for the

She took a sip of the coffee, and looked over at Spike who, to her
relief, had finally stopped crying.

“It seems to me," she commented, "that the Big Bad of the week is the prime suspect...Elementary, dear Watson.”

She took another sip, then continued in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Evil people never do things for no reason. I should now. It’s not like I would appear in someone’s bedroom and do some cool special effects just for the fun of it. There is always some pretentious scheme, usually involving taking over the world or making people sing horrible little tunes.”

Spike felt too disoriented to comment on the demon’s conclusions, so he closed his eyes and Anya’s voice started trailing off. But there was no rest to be found in hiding in the dark corners of his mind. The pain wouldn’t leave him alone, it kept haunting him, covering him like a sticky pale fuzz, and he couldn’t help seeing the Slayer’s eyes staring at him. He couldn’t turn away from her.


He gave off a quick gasp when he felt Anyas hand nudging him.

“Could you point him out?” she asked.

He was quickly pulled back to reality, and for a split second not really sure where he was or what was going on, and he jumped back a little bit then he saw Anya next to him.

“Point out?”he asked.

"The ringwrait, of course," she sighed a little, putting down her mug at the table. "Pay attention.”

“A lineup would be great," she tilted her head a little bit, looking thoughtful, "but we haven’t got the suspect in custody, so you have to pick him out from pictures.”


“You know, like those binders with photos. Geez, don’t you ever watch “Law and Order?” I still have a lot of books on demons left in the Magic Box. Willow actually didn’t manage to destroy all of my assets.”

A look of capitalistic bitterness flashed across her face, then she
stood up.

“We should go there and identify the bad guy. We don’t know where the others are, so we might as well try to find out what is going on and how to stop it. I’m confident that this day still might end in happiness and funny paper hats!”

He stood up too, not sure what was expected of him.

“Paper hats?” He fidgeted a little, wondering if he should know where she was going with that.

“You know, stupid colorful little things that people wear when they are happy?”

Spike's head was spinning and he felt more tired than he'd ever felt before. He saw her lips move, but his brain refused to register most of the information, and he draw shaky fingers through his thoroughly tousled hair while trying to gather his thoughts. He wasn’t entirely sure what to think of Anya’s sudden reappearance. She had been there earlier that day, at least he though so.

Hadn’t she been in the living room? Hadn’t they talked to her like she was the enemy? But he was losing track of the line in the sand. And on what side of that line was he standing? He had forgotten. Once he had known, but now he had forgotten. Perhaps if he thought hard enough, he could find it again, the line in the sand that was scattered around him as dust.

Suddenly he became aware of the sound of someone approaching the house.

“Anya!” he grabbed the demon’s arm, pulling her against him, away from the hallway.

“Hey!"She pulled her arm away, "We’re not in that category of friends! It was only a one-time thing you know!”

He shook his head, not at all pleased to be reminded of that little incident.

“Someone is coming,” he whispered.

Before Anya could turn to the doorway, she heard Xander’s voice ring through the room.

“You slut!”

Anya and Spike stared at the enraged scoobie that stood in the hallway, looking at them like they were guilty of a capital crime. His chest was heaving, and his face had quickly gotten that distinct color of too-ripe strawberries, which matched the dried blood that covered his shirt.

"Xander!" Anya was clearly embarrassed and hurt, "What are you…?”

“After yesterday I couldn’t wait to find you and tell you that I missed you, and now I come here and find you with that monster! Again!”

“What do you mean, I was just…”

“Oh," Xander rolled his eyes in contempt, "I know just what kind of girl you are. I let you out of my sight for a second, and you get drunk sleep with vampires. That’s the kind of girl that you are!”

Spike stood as paralyzed. Why would Xander act like this? Was he supposed to take a side here, and what side would that be? He was vaguely aware of the mug of coffee slipping out of his hand and crashing to the floor in front of him.

Xander walked up to Anya, grabbed a handfull of her hair, then pulled her head backwards, making her wince in pain. Without hesitation, he pressed his lips to hers in a rough kiss. Then he let go of his grip and started to soothingly stroke her hair while talking to her in a soft voice.

“But it’s ok honey, I know it’s not really your fault.”

He gazed over her shoulder, looking at Spike with cold, empty eyes.

“I know who is to blame,” he said.

Without looking at Anya, Xander pushed her away, and she went tumbling into the hallway. When she stopped, she looked back at her ex-fiance with horror and sadness, but he paid no attention to her.

He took a step towards Spike, who backed up a little, not sure what was going on.

“Everything was just fine until you returned. Then it all went to hell. I wonder why that is?”

“I’m thinking," Xander smiled a disturbing smile, "that you have something to do with that. You and that slayer whore of yours.”

He took another step, closing in on the confused and twitchy vampire.

“You must be quite pleased with yourself," he said, "since you managed to completely corrupt her. Make her a monster, just like you.”

Then he paused for a second.

”You know, Dawn’s in a coma,” he said.

As he saw the reactions in Spike’s face, Xander snorted.

“Don’t put up a show for me, I know you love it ­ the blood and the pain. Don’t try that “I have soul now”- line. I know you. And I know what to do with things like you.”

Xander walked past Spike and yanked open the lid at the weapon’s chest. Spike stared at him as he pulled out a big shiny axe, grabbing it firmly with both hands as he looked back at Spike with hate in his eyes.

There was a loud scream from the hallway, and suddenly Anya came dashing through the living room, throwing herself over Xander and pinning him to the floor. The axe came crashing down into the floor, momentarily drowning the sound of Xander’s loud protests.

Anya waited until he stopped yelling and cursing.

“Listen," she told him, "something strange is going on, and it’s affecting you too. We’re going to figure it out, but until then we have to stop you from doing something stupid.”

She looked up at Spike.

“The basement door!” she said with a voice strained from the struggle, “Open the basement door!”

Spike did as she asked, and before Xander could grab on to something sturdy, she pushed him in and closed the door as fast as she could, leaning against it while she nodded at the weapon’s chest. Spike pushed the heavy box to the door as Anya moved away.

“Sorry!”, Anya shouted, futily trying to make her voice heard over the angry sounds that came from the other side of the door.

She walked away from the noises and went into the kitchen, while trying to make sense of the incident.

“Ok, it’s not just Buffy," she said, "Something is really, really wrong here, and we have to find out what it is.”

Spike followed her, and stood next to her as she leaned over the kitchen island. She was right, something was going on, something bad and dangerous.

Suddenly he felt a drop landing on his hand, and as he looked over at her, he met her teared-up eyes.

“You really love him," Spike said gently, "don’t you?”

She didn’t have to answer, it was written all over her face.

Spike wrapped his arms around her small body, and felt her pain reverberate against his own.

“We’ll figure it out. We always do.”

He wasn’t so sure he believed his own words, but at the moment that wasn’t important. She needed him. Someone needed him, and that was all that mattered, and for a moment it felt like there was a Meaning.

* * * * *

The strange, rumbling chantings filled the air around the small circle of beings that were deeply absorbed in the ritual at hand. They looked like identical quadruplets, and as one might expect of identical quadruplets they were all dressed alike, in blue shiny robes, but thankfully not with matching bows in their nonexistent hair. They were short and wrinkly, almost like human/mastiff hybrids except for the creepy faint reddish skin tone.

In the middle of their little circle there was a small glowing ball of light that flickered magically between solid and non-solid state, keeping time with their chantings. It lit up the place, but the light curved in an unnatural way when it reached the inter-dimensional area outside the circle.

Outside the light, in the fluctuating state that surrounded them, the dark being waited. The cloth around him billowed along with the light as he was watching his henchmen’s magical chores, and his dark eyes were fixated on the changing light, it was intriguing, almost hypnotizing.

With impatience he reached out to the mind of the chanterers.

“How long will it take?” His thoughts echoed through their consciousness.

“Not long”, they replied without halting their singing. ”Not long at all, master.”

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