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The Darkling Plain - Episode 7

Chapter 2

Rooted to the spot, Spike received a large axe into his shoulder blades, only bad aim by his attacker saving his head. As it was, he went down like a stone, almost cut in two, bleeding and unconscious.

Suddenly, the three were left alone to fight. No one could process what had happened, but they needed to survive, so fought desperately.

Spike became the vampires' target. Vulnerable, down, he was repeatedly attacked. His friends circled his body, protecting him, but fearing that one attack would get through, Sam suddenly turned and flung himself on the prone figure, covering the smaller form completely. Now when stakes were plunged at Spike, they did no damage to him and little to his protector, other than painful, bleeding stab wounds over his back.

Left even more alone, Wesley and Jordan fought like men possessed, and finally it was over.

Only, then it began: the total confusion, the disbelief, the panic. Sam began to shout for help, trying desperately to stem massive blood loss from Spike.

Jordan ran to help, but Wesley had fallen to his knees, staring in pale shock at the spot where he'd seen Angel die.

He could hear them shouting, but could not understand their words. Finally, Jordan dragged him to his feet. 'Keys! For the car! Get the fucking car!'

Wesley suddenly began to laugh. 'They were in Angel's pocket. They'll be just dust, too….' His laugher became manic, and Jordan slapped him hard. Wesley punched back automatically, and it was only when they heard Sam crying that they stopped fighting.

'He's gonna die! Please! A car!'

Jordan turned. 'We'll carry him- I'll hotwire it.' Together, they tried to pick Spike up, but there was so much blood their hands slipped carrying him. Neither of them wanted to comment on the wobble of the head as it hit the ground.


Wesley came over at last, but a dull look made his face grey and lifeless. He took a limb, and the three of them staggered to the car.

Sam and Jordan cradled the body on the back seat, and Wesley drove. No one looked at the empty seat in the front.

Wesley helped them into the apartment, but he was like a man in a trance. Sam and Jordan got Spike onto the bed and took off his shirt, crying out at the injury to his spine.

Wesley sat at the table and stared at his hands. Only when Jordan came and dragged him to the bed, did some colour return to his face.

'What do we do? Wesley! Vampire injuries like this?'

Wesley took a while to find his voice, but replied, 'Bandage him up and feed him. That's all you can do. Blood- lots of it.'

Jordan went to check on the blood supplies in the refrigerator, and Sam located some bandages, beginning to methodically bind the pumping wound.

Finally, it became quiet; so quiet, that for the first time, they heard the pitiful whining coming from under the bed.

It was the catalyst to their own shock.

Sam began to cry: choked, debilitating sobs that made him unable to see his patient. Jordan slammed his forehead on the door of the refrigerator, his back firmly to the other two. Wesley stared at them both wildly, and then turned, running from the apartment, crashing dangerously down the stairs, stumbling on their steepness.

At last, Sam felt a hand rest lightly on his shoulder and a voice, worn out from suppressing emotion, say, 'Go home and rest. I'll watch him.'

Sam shook his head. 'No. I'm staying.'

'You need to rest. Go lie on the couch.'

Reluctantly, Sam got up and walked like a reanimated corpse to the other room. Jordan sat on the bed and began the difficult task of getting blood into the unconscious vampire.

After a while, Sam came back out. He hesitated, looking at the scene on the bed, then sat and put his arms around Jordan's waist. Jordan clasped the hands tightly to his belly, and said in a very low voice, 'I think it would be better if he never wakes up.'

Sam felt tears coming again and tried to blink them away. 'Is this real? I mean, so many fucking spells and time shifts and weirdness since we've met them. How can this have happened? I mean- Angel!'

Jordan nodded sadly. 'Didn't you ever wonder how they'd lived this long? Being so….' He ran his fingers through Spike's damp hair. 'Essentially vulnerable?'

He turned. 'Let me look at you.'

'I'm okay.'

'Sam, he'll need us for a long time, I'm thinking- both of us: well and healthy. Let me look at your wounds.'

Sam took off his shirt with some considerable difficulty. Pulling off the stuck material only opened the wounds once more. The pain, on top of the bewilderment and depression of spirits, made him cry again. Jordan just hugged him close, stroking his hair. 'Shit happens, Baby. People die- even the best of them.'

'What's he going to do, J? Oh, my God- what's he going to do?'

'He'll have to survive- like everyone else. We'll have to help him find his way.'

Sam nodded sadly into Jordan's shoulder then kicked off his shoes and climbed into the bed next to Spike. He pulled him into his arms. 'Patch me up later. Maybe he'll heal quicker if he feels someone with him, ya know?'

Jordan looked at the two of them. His jaw wobbled, and he got up swiftly and went into the other room, sitting heavily on the couch. He felt like crying, too, but the thought of Spike's return to consciousness scared him too much to find any release in tears.

Spike returned to consciousness two days later. There was no great moment when he came too, no shout, not even a movement. He'd taken the memory of Angel's death into unconsciousness with him, and still carried it in his heart now.

He could hear voices, but did not want to open his eyes. They were a very long way away from where he was. He was standing in a fearful place where he was utterly alone, and it just stretched away from him on every side, more scary and more isolating than he could ever have imagined. He was so scared he was paralysed with the fear. He was alone. Something pressed down so hard on his chest that he couldn't breath, and he felt this shouldn't matter- that being a demon, he shouldn't be breathing anyway, but he was, and it did matter, for he couldn't catch enough breath to be calm, to push away the fear. Fear held him in a vicious grip. He did the only thing he could think of; he curled into a tiny ball and pulled the covers over his head. It was dark, and it was quiet, but he was still utterly alone.

Sam saw the movement on the bed and put a hand out to Jordan. They'd been there through the long two days: watching him, feeding him, holding him. Sam made to go over, but Jordan shook his head, frowning. 'Give him some space.'

They gave him space the remainder of that day, all the following night, and long into the next day, before even Jordan felt unnerved at the silent, motionless huddle on the bed.

Suddenly, late in the second day, they jumped. Covers were flung back, and Spike levered himself determinedly off the bed.

It had been so still and quiet in his dark place he'd had time to think. He'd worked it all out: this was just a thing, and someone would come up with a spell to bring him back. He'd made up dozens of bringing-back spells in his head, each one more complex than the last, in lots of different languages. He needed something physical to make them work though. He needed something of Angel. He flung back the covers and pushed off the bed. He was in agony, but the pain was a very long way away, and he didn't let it stop what he had to do. He began in the nightstand: hairbrush, comb- there had to be something containing some physical evidence of Angel's life. Nothing. He cursed and went into the bathroom, sensing someone following him, but ignoring them. He ran his hands over the walls: so many times they'd fucked against these cool surfaces, surely something of Angel remained. Nothing. He staggered to the kitchen and began to smash out mugs and cutlery, pulling drawers wildly to the floor. Angel's lips and hands had touched all these things, but he'd been thoughtlessly washed away. Nothing. He went into the living room, but the irony of that was too much, so he swung away and stood on his dark plain, panic making him swallow vomit.

There was only one thing to do. He got back into his protective mound and covered himself once more. It was still dark, and he was still alone.

Sam flung the doors open to the small balcony and leant on the wall, sucking in huge breaths of cool, fresh air. He felt Jordan at his side. The demon watched the human's profile for a while, and then said sadly, 'I saw him kinda like this before. When we first met.'

Sam turned with a tiny spark of hope in his eyes. 'So, he'll get better?'

Jordan frowned- he'd not meant it to be encouraging, and added sadly, 'He recovered by falling in love with Angel.'

'Oh! Fuck!' Sam began to cry again, his face clearly saying that he was sick of the tears, but that he couldn't stop them.

In his mind, Spike was hunkered down with his arms folded over his head. He crouched very still, letting the mind-numbing fear overtake him. He was alone. He was going to be alone forever. None of his spells would work- there was nothing of Angel to use. He'd gone. He had no sense of time passing; there was only pain: pain from his body that was so bad he felt like screaming, pain in his heart, and pain in his mind. It seemed he had lain there forever in the dark when he felt strong hands on him, uncurling him, causing him so much more pain that he wasn't strong enough to fight them. Blood poured down his throat. Blood, and something in the blood that made the pain subside- made him uncaring that the blood sustained what he would wish not to be sustained.

It didn't take away the knowledge that he was totally alone.

On the fifth day, Jordan lifted his head from folded arms, where he rested on the desk, to see Wesley standing at the top of the stairs.

Wesley looked like a man who had been to hell.

Jordan got up and went hesitantly to him. Wesley blinked slowly, and then they met in a hard, possessive hug. Jordan whispered something meaningless in Wesley's ear that encompassed all the understanding of pain and grief that was needed, and Wesley nodded his gratitude. He pulled away and went over to the bed, sitting alongside the lump. 'Is he conscious?'

Jordan came and sat on the end, putting a finger to his lips and flicking his eyes to the living room. 'Sam's asleep.'

Wesley nodded and whispered, 'Spike though?'

'Yeah. He came to a couple of days ago. He's… under there.'

'Oh. Does he remember what happened?'

'He's not said, but I'm guessing - wild stab here - yeah.'

'Oh.' Suddenly, Wesley eyes welled with tears, and he bit his lip and stared up at the ceiling.

Jordan just laid a hand on his arm, and they sat staring at the unmoving heap on the bed.

Suddenly, just as startlingly as before, it rose, and the covers were flung back. Spike got out of bed, talking animatedly. Smiling, Wesley rose too, but the vampire walked past him, ignoring him as if he wasn't there. Jordan restrained the human from trying to follow, and said sadly, 'He's not… here….'

Horrified, Wesley watched Spike go to the nightstand. It appeared to have been rifled before, but Spike didn't seem to notice this. He crouched down, blood immediately seeping from under his bandage as the skin was stretched over his increasingly starved frame. With a shout of triumph, he pulled out a watch and held it in his hand. He ran his fingers over it, but then dropped it as if it were hot, staggering blindly toward the living room.

Sam woke up and moved swiftly off the couch, his back against the wall, watching him as intently as the other two.

If there was nothing physical of Angel left, the thought had slowly come to Spike that something belonging to him might do just as well. He flung off the bed and immediately found what he wanted- Angel's watch, not worn because it needed a new battery. He frowned. He couldn't understand how this could be here, but Angel wasn't. He went into the living room and stared at the shelves of books, limped to the corner where Angel's sketchpad lay. Possessions. So many questions surged through his tortured mind: why had Angel wanted these things; what was he supposed to do with them now? They weren't his. They were Angel's, but Angel was gone. He'd gone, but he'd left all this behind him: clutter that filled the apartment. He didn't want it there. He wanted it all gone. Angel had gone and left him. He had no right to leave all this here.

Anger drove Spike back to his safe place, and he was still alone.

Sam came out and nodded at the other man. Wesley sighed. 'How are you bearing up?'

Sam didn't bother to reply, but after a moment, he said softly, 'I'm sorry, Wesley. You loved him more than either of us.'

Wesley nodded, too tired now to even cry. 'But not as much as him.'

They all turned to look at the bed.

'We're staying here.'

Wesley nodded. 'There's so much to sort downstairs. Everything is rather… unpleasant.'

Sam almost smiled at the characteristically English understatement, but was also too tired to bother. He said sadly, 'I'll do the money thing. I know where it all is.' He flicked his eyes back to the bed. 'It's all his now.'

Wesley looked at the huddled shape and murmured, 'Everything and nothing. Oh, dear…. I'm sorry.' He went to the kitchen and ran some water over his face, rubbing his hands tiredly over his flushed skin until he was under control.

He felt Jordan at his side. 'Sam's drugging his blood- sedative.'

Wesley nodded and looked sadly at the bed for the last time. 'Make it strong then.'

He hung his head for a moment, pinching the bridge of his nose, then patted Jordan's arm and left them to it.

Sometime in the night, they both roused to the sound of crashing and banging. They uncurled from the sofa where they were sleeping and ran into the main room. Spike was dragging the table up toward the elevator. Blood soaked the floor, and he slipped on it, cursing and talking in a fast stream of consciousness that they couldn't understand. Even his enormous preternatural strength couldn't make the solid wood table fit into the elevator, so he fell exhausted to the floor, gave it a furious look, and went back to his refuge.

It had been the changes he'd made when they were away. This had been Angel's space, Angel's place, and he'd burst in and thought they were sharing it. Angel didn't do sharing- he hadn't shared death, so why should he share his apartment? It had come to him as he huddled in that fearful place that if he could undo the changes, he could undo the death. It was so simple, so logical, but he wasn't strong enough. It seemed only fitting really- he'd not been strong enough to save Angel, so how could he hope to bring him back? He was weak, and he deserved to be alone. He went back to his dark place.

Fearful of returning to sleep, Sam and Jordan dragged the table back down into the well, picked up the smashed computer, and tried to straighten things so they looked as beautiful as they once had. The blood rather ruined the illusion - it wouldn't come up without leaving an odd stain - so they stopped trying. Sam straightened and looked at the bed. 'He needs to feed.'

'I'll heat some more blood.'

'Not Spike. The other one- underneath.'

'He won't come out.'

'I know.' He glanced at Jordan. 'I think he'll have to be forced now.'

Frowning, they knelt down and peered under the bed. The puppy appeared to be asleep, but when Jordan put his hand in, it snarled and backed away further. 'Fuck.'

'Maybe just push some food in? And water?'

Jordan nodded and went to the kitchen. He made something tempting for the dog, and they pushed it, together with a bowl of fresh, cool water, under the bed.

'What if he doesn't recover?'

Jordan knew Sam wasn't referring to the bewildered figure they had just fed.

'I don't know. Do you think he knows we're here at all?'

'I'm not sure he knows he is.'

Go to chapter 3

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