Chapter 7 - The Young and the Restless

The store clerk on the floor behind her made small, annoying wincing noises as she slowly crawled away, dragging her broken leg behind her. Buffy knew that she easily could silence her, but she didn’t want to risk accidently getting blood on the pretty new dress she'd picked out. Instead, she just hummed happily while she let the old one drop to the floor together with her underwear and looked over to the terrified woman.

”Miss”, she said, smiling pleasantly, ”You wouldn't mind if I borrowed the bathroom, would you?”

She looked down at her dirty, blood-stained body and sighed, ”It seems like I need to freshen up,”then her smile disappeared.

”Don't. Move,” she said.

As she walked past the racks of expensive, but yet surprisingly un-classy outfits, she let her hand slide over the fancy fabrics, and she took a deep breath, relishing the pleasant scent of fashion. Once she found herself in front of the mirror in the small pastel colored bathroom and inhaled the way-too-artificial rose scent from the air freshener, she smiled broadly at her reflection.

”Oh, you’re a pretty girl, aren’t you?”, she said to herself as she soaked a few paper towels and started to wash up.

Fifteen minutes later, she exited the shop.

”It’s been a pleasure shopping at your store!” she shouted through the door as she left, ”I will recommend you to all my friends!”

The dress she had chosen was considerably shorter than the one that she left behind in a pile in the store, not to mention that it had a much tighter fit. The back was open, and was much more revealing than anything she had in her wardrobe. She had walked past this storefront before, but never taken a look inside since there was never anything in her style in the window until now.

God, she could be such a goody two shoe some times. Speaking of which, what the hell had gotten into Spike anyway? Since when was he such a boring prude? He’s a vampire, for crying out loud, not to mention usually the poster boy for decadence and everything kinky. A pang of irritation and frustration shot through her as she was reminded of the vampire. She really needed his hot, tight body, and he had the guts to put her own stake to her chest! Now she was all hot and bothered, which was only fueled by her lingering anger. The pace of her steps speeded up, and she started surveying her surroundings.

As she left the small side street where the store was located and continued through the crowded main street, she could feel the male pedestrian’s eyes turn to look at her, and she heard a few stray whistles from behind her back. Women’s eyes followed her with sharp looks, while they tugged at their boyfriends, knowing that she was that kind of woman that they would pursue if she wasn’t out of their league.

The afternoon sunlight lit up the busy shopping street, bringing out the colors of the awnings, signs and advertisement flags. She looked around and felt a flash of contempt for these weak, naive people that covered the area like vermin. How could they live with themselves? Buffy stretched out and felt the strength of her muscular body surge through her as a growing wave of energy. She needed to let off some steam, and she needed to do it now.

Her eyes finally fell on a man on the other side of the street, who was sipping from a mug by a table outside a small coffeshop while talking to a couple of other guys. Muscular, cute. He’ll do. Her steps turned to the street, and with the sound of screeching tires in her ears she headed straight at her target. After a few seconds, the men at table noticed her, but before they could form any theories on her motives, she stood next to them. Her hands yanked the surprised man from his chair and pressed her lips against his, not meeting any resistance. Her hand grabbed his, and in front of his company friends she tugged him towards a nearby alley.

“I need some sex”, she said cheerfully. “You don’t mind, do you?”

* * * * *

Anya had always thought that the scent of really old books had sort of a comforting effect. It smelled a lot like old leaves and stuff that was murky and frail, and it made her kind of nostalgic for the good old days when evil was evil and good was good and Celine Dion hadn’t released any records.

She and Spike were sitting on a couple of broken chairs in the remainders of the magic box, looking through the piles of books that were scattered on the table in front of them, impatiently flipping through page after page without success.

There was a thick coat of icky dust on everything from the unwanted re-decoration, and it probably was quite unhealthy to inhale. Luckily, neither of them had any human lungs to consider. The place had been out of business since that little incident, and it would need a lot of work if it would ever open for business again. Too bad that Anya no longer had a construction worker as a boyfriend.

“Dated this guy a couple of hundred years ago,” she pointed out one of the reptile-looking demons to Spike. “Didn’t last though, I liked long walks and nice dinners, he liked eating his own scales and praying to the devil.”

Considering the situation and his psychological state, Spike was surprised by the fact that he actually felt a bit of genuine amusement, and he figured that was a good sign. After all, he didn’t want to follow Angel down Mopy Ave. just because he had a soul now, too. Unfortunately, the angst didn’t go far around the corner, but he tripled the effort to keep himself together. He had to.

Anya looked up at Spike while reaching for another book. “Did you find anything?”

“Not really” he slammed the book shut and sighed, then he stood up and started pacing impatiently.

“I can’t stand not knowin’ how Dawn is,” he made a few nervous gestures, “or what’s goin’ on with Buffy. What if she… does somethin’ bad? Kills someone?”

The thought gave him a knot in his stomach.

“I need to do somethin’ about it!” He wrapped his arms tight around his body.

“Calm down!” Anya continued to flip through the pages of the ancient text. “The most important thing right now is that we find out what we can do to stop what’s behind it. Cause it seems like it’s pretty much up to us now.”

Neither of them was especially keen on the idea of assuming responsiblity for finding the solution to the situation. Usually "they" - Buffy or Giles or someone else who was responsible and leadership-y - figured stuff out and pointed at who/what should be killed and alternatively, what they should hide behind tombstones from.

“You're making me nervous!”, Anya continued, while tightening her jaw, “Sit down and do the research!”

Spike obeyed with a displeased grunt, and opened the book again.

After a few moments of silent reading, Anya suddenly lifted her head and looked at him.

“What’s up with that soul thing? How did that happen anyway? Ooh, I know this one,” answered herself excitedly before he could answer, “Gypsies, right?”

Her face got a sad look.

“Sorry about the sex, though," she shrugged, "No more shagging for you, huh?”

Spike’s face twisted in anger and distress. Not only did she stir the memory of the events preceding his quest, but she'd brought Angel into the story as well. Not to mention Angel’s sex life, or rather, the lack thereof.

“Ehm… it wasn’t like that. No gypsies or anythin’,” he ran his fingers through his hair, deciding that if he didn’t tell her anything, she probably would never let it go. She could be such a little schnauzer sometimes.

“I went to Africa. Went through some trials. And then it was… returned.”

Anya stared at the tense vampire at the other side of the table.

“What do you mean?” she had trouble comprehending and sorting the information according to the world as she knew it, “You… chose to get a soul?”

She tilted her head a little, still staring, “But you’re evil, why would you…? Oh, I mean evil in past tense. Kind of hard to keep track these days.”

Spike looked down at the floor.

“I… I hurt her, hurt Buffy. And I needed to…”

Anya instantly realized that she had touched a sensitive subject, and she went silent for a moment. The whole vampire/slayer thing was pretty crazy, especially considering the specific vampire and slayer in question. Not exactly unexpected that something would go terribly wrong. But still, get a soul?

“Well, I guess that’s the opposite of what I did”, she sighed, “I mean, surprise, demon again! Definitely a theme for Jerry Springer. There’s fighting and everything! Do you think there could be compensation involved?”

Spike stared at her and stumbled up from his chair, “Demon?!”

Dammit, he had felt that there was something wrong, but… What was he supposed to do now? It’s not like he would chop her head of or anything.

“Take it easy, I won’t hurt you!” she stood up, trying to look convincing and non-threatening.

“But you’re a demon!”, Spike blurted out.

“And you’re a vampire!”, she pointed an accusing finger at him.

They both stopped shouting atthe same time, and suddenly there was an uncomfortable silence in the room. Anya's arms fell to her sides, while Spike put his hands in his pockets and fidgeted a little. After a couple of minutes Spike spoke up.

“Yeah. True.”

There was another minute of silence.

“So, what’s up with that demon thing?" Spike paraphrased, still not looking at her, "How did that happen anyway?”

“I was angry and broken-hearted”, she replied quietly, “and I obviously did something stupid.”

Spike felt a pang of pain in his gut and looked up at her.

“Well, I sure know what that’s like.”

“So”, he continued after a moment of contemplation. “What does this make us? Are we the bad guys or the good guys?”

It wasn’t a rhetorical question.

“Perhaps there aren’t any such things as good guys and bad guys?” Anya didn’t look like she was sure that she believed that, but that really, really wanted to, “Um… like it’s a work in progress, you know?”

To his surprise, for the first time, Spike felt a small flash of hope that perhaps there were such thing as absolution.

“That doesn’t matter now”, Anya said with a soft voice while getting down at the table again. “We need to get this done.”

Spike sat down too, and opened the dusty book again, couching a little.

Half an hour later, Anya let out a small, frustrated groan.

“This is impossible!”, she complained , “It could be anyone!”

She threw the book she was using onto the table, where it thumped and fell wide-open in front of her.

“It could be… Hey!” her eyes focused at the ink drawing on the page before her, “Doesn’t this look like the one in your description?”

Spike grabbed the book and turned it around, and when he saw the picture, his face lit up.

“That’s him! That’s the bloke! It must be!”

“Great!” she looked at him with enthusiasm, “So who’s our lucky winner?”

“Apparently," Spike read, following the ornate text with his finger, "he’s called “Koz’sha”."

“Not anyone I have heard of”, Anya replied, “Probably a good thing though, that means that he isn’t a world famous world-destroyer. Those big, bad apocalypse guys usually are big divas too, all “look at me! Look at me! I’m gonna crush your pathetic universe like a cockroach!””

When she finished her exposition on demonic media whores, she looked over at Spike again, finding him staring down at the text with a horrified expression, his face more pale that what was normal even for a dead guy.

“What is it Spike? she looked down at the book, What’s wrong?”

“Koz’sha,” he said, "It means “Soul consumer.”

They stared at each other.


“Oops!? This is why Xander and Buffy have been loosin’ it! They are soulless!” Spike took rapid, unnecessary breaths, “Bloody hell!”

He slammed his fists into the open book.

In the corner of his eye he saw Anya dashing off with furious steps, heading straight to the small weapon stash behind the counter. A few weapons within reach came in handy when she needed to kill various intruding monsters or threaten shoplifters. With a furious look she reached her hand down behind the counter and pulled out a big blood-stained mace.

“He better give back those souls. Xander is mine! All of him, soul included, and I’m not lenient when it comes to robbing me of my property!”

“Anya, that bloke didn’t seem like one that you simply could slice and dice.” Spike’s eyes turned to the text again, “We have to find out what he’s about first.”

Anya reluctantly walked up to the table again and squatted next to him, dropping the unsanitary weapon on the table, “Ok, find out more so I can kill the bastard!”

Spike peered, trying to make out the ancient text, “It says something about… time shift. It seems like he has got the ability to sorta shift out of phase with time.”

“Sounds like a cool party trick," Anya commented.

“Apparently he also has the ability to move between dimensions," Spike looked closer, trying to make out a few blurry words, ”It seems like he… feeds on souls, it keeps him alive.”

“So he has eaten Xander’s soul!" she shouted, “That gluttony asshole!”

“Well… Lemme see,” Spike continued reading, “His goal is to do a kind of mass theft of souls. This is when he actually consumes them. Apparently he has done this in other dimensions, with really creepy results.”

“Bloody hell!" his eyes widened, "If I’ve understood this right he has the power to steal the souls of half of North America!"

“Sweet mother of God!” Anya replied, clearly horrified, “Not that I know if the rest of the world would tell the difference, but still… Ok, what else does it say?”

“In the first phase, he needs a... core, an engine to remove the souls from the bodies. In order to acquire this engine, he might make collect souls of individuals that he thinks could try to hinder the ritual, in an effort to distract them. We’re probably not affected ‘cause we’re not human enough.”

“Well, it doesn’t seem like there has been any epidemics,” she leaned over the book, “So perhaps that is the case? Any indication on how that works?”

“He uses some kind of vessel, a... a pet of some sort that can change into things,” he looked closer, trying to make a half-decent excerpt for the worried demon out of the old, complicated text, “The vessel starts the capturing the souls of people when they come within it’s reach, then they don’t even need to stay there, it has already started.”

“Oh!” His face lit up. “But this first small-scare soul-suckin’ isn’t necessary forever. If it’s stopped in time, a day or so, their souls come back! We can save them!”

Spike felt a sudden rush of joy. Buffy and Dawn weren’t lost!

Anya sighed in relief. She felt a little tear trickling down her face.

“How!? How do we do it?” she asked.

“It says”, he continued, “that we have to destroy the vessel. Seems easy enough! And then we’ve got Xander and Buffy to help us stop the bloke. Buffy’s good with demons you know!”

He looked at Anya with enthusiasm. “We can do that!”

“Yeah! Go team!” she looked back at the book, “So, tell me more about this vessel thing?”

“It changes into a thing, somethin’ that’s placed in the house I suppose,” his eyes widened, “He takes some kind of sample in order to create the spell to be able to use the engine.”

He paused for a second, “The engine is… an essence wrapped in dead flesh.”

Anya gasped.

“He needs the soul of a vampire,” he lifted his head, “Of me.”

Spike’s eyes became empty, and he stepped up from the chair, stumbling away from the book as if it was poisonous. He froze and took a shallow breath.

“I’m… I felt that I had a part of it, but I… I didn’t want to believe that… He did this to them so they wouldn’t protect me.”

He looked confused and his gaze fluttered around, revealing a growing pain. Finally he got down on his heels while leaning against the counter, covering his face in his hands. Inside of him there was a darkness, a big black spot that quickly covered his mind like spilled ink. Why did he even for a minute believe that he could make things right? That he could be a source of something good? How could he think that…?

He vaguely noticed that Anya had put her hand on his arm.

“It doesn’t have to end like that,” she took his hand, pulling him up from the floor, “Let’s go to the house and find the vessel. Then Buffy will save the day, ok?”

He didn’t answer, but followed her passively when she pulled him towards the door, picking up his blanket on the way for the dash to the rental car outside.

”I don’t want to hurt them” he whispered.

”I know”, Anya replied. ”I know.”

* * * * *

First there was a flash of light, then the diffuse, but very unpleasant, sensation in her body. Her tongue felt like sandpaper and there was a thirst growing in her throat. Her mind spun around in confusion, and as she slowly opened her eyes she found herself staring at a nest of tubes that surrounded her, Dawn panicked. Her arms started to wave around, attempting to free herself from all the things she was connected to, and her breaths came in shallow, panicked gasps.

Then she stopped.

The memories started to trickle back, first in little pieces, then in an overwhelming flood. With a deep breath, she tookhold of the IV-needle that still was attached to her trembling arm, and yanked it out, twitching a little from the sudden pain. Then she became aware of the small sound from the machines.

This was a hospital. Nurses, doctors.

The awakening probably set off some kind of alarm, and they would no doubt come here soon to check on her condition. Then they would keep her here for days, and she had no intention of staying.

She remembered now. And she had places to be, not sure where, but not here.

Dawn finally sat up, and with an impressive effort, she managed to get her feet down onto the cold floor, and finally to stand on weak legs while leaning against the bed. She tried to take a small step, but immediately fell to the floor, landing with her cheek hard on the floor, scraping her skin against the cement. With tears in her eyes, she got up on her knees and finally on her limp legs again, and stumbled to a linen closet on the other side of the room. She was fumbling, but managed to get it open and get inside.

As she closed the door behind her and crawled up against the back wall, panting from the effort, she heard a few people enter the room, chatting casually, but then their voices were raised, and she could hear them hurrying out of the room to find their lost patient. As soon as they had left the room she exhaled, not aware that she had been holding her breath for a moment. Then her hands fisted in her lap.


Dawn looked down at her bruised arm. Buffy did this to her. Her own sister. She left her here in a hospital bed, hooked up to creepy machines and poked at by creepy doctors.

Buffy was gonna pay for this, she thought as she leaned her head back against the wall, taking another deep breath while closing her eyes tightly. She would really get what she deserved.


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