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The Darkling Plain - Episode
Spike's eyes said all that needed to be said, and with a small, choked sound, Lilah repeated, 'I know how to bring him back.'
Sam stepped between them and said to both and neither, 'I'm really not liking the sound of… I mean… bringing someone back from the…. Can this be right?'
Lilah winced at the emotion she heard in Spike's voice but replied evenly, 'It's been done before- he'll be human though.'
Sam tried to get them to look at him, but they stared at each other as if listening to the beat of an entirely different drum.
'Babe, this is SO of the wrong…. Look, why don't we ask Wes first?'
Suddenly, he found himself propelled against the wall, and Spike said hoarsely, raggedly, 'No!'
'I already know.'
Spike spun around and watched as Wesley came slowly out of the stairwell.
The vampire stood in a defensive posture, as if already protecting Angel's body- not just the promise of it. 'Fuck off, Wesley. This is nothing to do….'
'I say do it.'
Spike snapped his mouth shut. Sam pushed off the wall nervously, 'Now I'm really worried. You're supposed to be the voice of reason, Englishman. You go along with this madness and….'
'It's anything but madness. I've seen it done- Darla. I say do it.'
Sam swallowed. 'Okay. Darla, whoever the fuck that is.' He looked to Spike for some kind of recognition, but Spike had turned. He was staring at the bed with such a fixed look of anticipation, that his friend didn't have the heart to disturb him.
Wesley came and stood alongside the other man. 'Darla was Angel's sire. He staked her, but they - Lilah's old firm - brought her back as a human.'
Sam leant wearily on the counter and ran his fingers through his hair. 'Okay. I didn't know that. So, she's okay? Happy? All… normal?'
'Well, no, actually she got turned back, but that doesn't change the fact she was back.' He didn't catch Lilah's eye and reminded himself to thank her later for her silence.
Spike suddenly turned and looked at Wesley in astonishment. 'Are you still here? Why aren't you… doing it?'
Wesley nodded. 'Okay. Good. I'll take care of it.'
He turned, but Lilah caught at his sleeve. 'Let me help. I want to help.'
Surprised, looking down at the familiar fingers on his arm once more, Wesley nodded. He looked up and into her eyes. He gave a small smile of remembrance for what they had once shared. Despite the confusion in her face, she smiled back. They went to the elevator together.
Just before the doors closed, a hand slammed in between them, and Sam strode into the elevator. He waited until they began to descend, and then hissed furiously, 'You need to stop this!'
'No, I don't.'
'Jesus, man! There are SO many reasons why this is wrong!'
'One being that you won't have Spike all to yourself at last?'
Wesley reeled from the blow Sam gave him, his nose bleeding.
'How DARE you, Wesley! If I could restore Angel to him, I'd cut my own fucking throat! But you're not going to restore Angel; you're going to do what he didn't want- make him human! Because YOU can't live without him! You're his parasite, forever feeding off his life force. You can't exist without him! He didn't WANT TO BE HUMAN!' He turned frantically to Lilah. 'Please, don't do this to them.'
She looked down at the floor, confused. 'He's my sire; I feel his pain.'
'I'm his fucking lover! Do you think I don't? I've been there, day after day- all this freaking time! I've watched him, fed him, washed him, and listened to him cry until the fucking angels cried with pity for him!'
'Then why are you trying to stop us?' Wesley wiped his nose angrily, and cast him a baleful look, pushing past and making to leave the elevator.
Sam tried to calm down and caught at Wesley's sleeve to restrain him. 'Tell me what Darla was like. Was she mentally able to cope with the adjustment? Was she… healthy?'
Wesley licked his lips. 'The circumstances are entirely different.'
Sam nodded as if this answered his question.
Wesley tried to pull away, but Sam held on tighter. 'What if Angel doesn't thank you for this?'
'I'll be bringing him back to Spike- how could he not?'
Sam frowned and lifted his eyes to the ceiling for a moment. 'If it could work…'
Wesley seized on the change in the man's tone. 'Sam, we have nothing but the best intentions in this- that will affect the outcome. Angel will want to come back- that will affect it, too. Angel already had a soul- that will also affect it. Yes, all right, he won't be a vampire, but…. Oh, Sam, until he started this thing with Spike, believe me, being human was his dream. He saw being a vampire as being damned. He was desperate to be human again.'
'He didn't want it now, though.'
'No. He didn't want to lose Spike. There's a subtle, but extremely important difference between those two things. He believed being human was incompatible to being with Spike. This way, he can have both.'
'What's changed? He'll be human… still incompatible…?'
'Spike has changed. Do you think Spike will care that Angel is human now? He just wants him back.'
Suddenly, Sam's eyes filled up, and he bit his lip. 'I want him to have Angel back, too. But, Wesley, ya know… I'm gay. I know some things about death. I've seen it so many times- had to say goodbye so many times. And we do; we say goodbye; we move on. It's the order of things. It's balance. Doesn't the world need that balance?'
'No. Not in this case. Angel never had a bloody chance. He was fucked over as a child, fucked around as a man, and then bloody fucked up as a demon. But then he fought back. He made something of his unlife- something good, something incredible. But what do you know? He got bloody fucked up in that, too. So, I'm going to restore some damn balance to the world. I'm going to bring Angel back and give him the chance no one else bloody gave him!'
Sam's eyes flicked over Wesley's face as he spoke. When he was done, Sam gave one long blink then said in a low voice, 'What can I do to help?'
Wesley let out a long breath of released tension, and they both chuckled softly at this small indication that he'd had been nowhere near as certain of his case as he'd sounded. He put a hand on the other's arm. 'Thank you. We'll handle the preliminaries, but I think you should be at the… raising.' He paled as the word crossed his lips. 'My God.'
Sam only raised an eyebrow with an I-told-you-so look and rode back up in the elevator alone.
Spike was staring at the empty closet, the puppy held tightly in his arms.
Sam came up behind him and slipped his arm around the too thin waist. He leant his head on Spike's shoulder. 'I'm sorry, Babe. If you want this, I want it for you; I'm just scared for you, that's all. I'm not… used… to all this spooky stuff. Jesus, raising someone from the dead!'
Spike twisted his head to look down at him. 'I'm dead.'
'Me. I'm dead now.'
Sam straightened. He twitched up his lip. 'Well, yeah, there is that.'
Spike smiled fondly and returned to his contemplation of the closet.
'So, I'm guessing you want all the clothes back? The black ones? The grey ones? The charcoal? Oh, and don't forget the dark….'
'Yeah. All of them.'
'I'm so scared.'
'I've got nothing to lose.' Spike bent his head toward Sam and looked down at the puppy now asleep in his arms. 'One minute more. One minute….' He chuckled. 'Angel named him well.'
Spike took very little interest in the preparations for the ritual. He had his own preparations to make. That night, he began on the apartment. He cleaned until everything shone. Anything that was broken was thrown out and replaced. He re-hung all Angel's clothes and put his shoes back where they should be. When he'd done that, he fished his clothes out from under the bed and put them back as well. There were two people sharing this life, and he wanted the closet to reflect that. He bought a new battery for Angel's watch and held the expensive timepiece in his hand, watching the seconds tick away, bringing them closer together.
He stocked the fridge with blood, and when he was entirely happy with everything, he sat at the table and looked around, pleased.
Suddenly, he frowned and glanced back at the fridge. He felt a shudder run through his body. Very slowly, very deliberately, he went back and took out half of the blood. He put it on the drainer and bent down very close to stare at it.
It was what joined them- what had joined them.
It was what they were- what they had been.
Blood would never join them again.
For the first time since he'd heard Lilah's words, they actually sank in. Angel would come back human. He would be someone, something, entirely separate from him.
One by one, he opened the blood bags and poured Angel's share down the drain.
Then he went out and stocked up with human food.
Being back was all that mattered.
Finally, Wesley said they were ready. He'd prepared a crypt in a local cemetery, but for the first time, Spike intervened. He insisted they do the ritual in the warehouse where Angel had gone. Wesley tired to point out that it had to be hallowed ground, holy, but Spike only shrugged and said it was holy enough.
So, one evening, they gathered in the place where they'd shared so much pain: Spike, Wesley, Sam, Lilah, and Jordan. Five people, determined, facing five creatures they tried very hard not to look into the eyes of. They killed vampires on a daily basis without a thought, but chaining them up and sacrificing them in a ritual seemed unworthy of their mission somehow.
Spike had refused to allow them to use a cage either, arguing that Angel would be… Angel. The vampires, therefore, were chained to a ring that Jordan and Wesley had bolted into the floor.
Wesley held the scroll and began the incantation. Spike lit a cigarette and watched the moonlight with a small smile on his face he made no attempt to disguise.
'We have prepared a holy place….' Wesley tried not to look at Lilah's anxious expression. She too shared his concern about the location. 'We have gathered together the living dead. As it is written, they shall prepare the way, and the very gates of hell shall open.'
Sam tried not to, but he took a step nearer Jordan, and then had to stifle a giggle as they collided, Jordan having the same thought at exactly the same time. They exchanged small glances and shared a moment of total understanding: they were completely out of their depth and only there through the unquestioning love they felt for Spike.
'That which is above shall tremble. That which is below shall arise.' Wesley took a small breath and began to walk slowly around the increasingly agitated vampires. 'Five are without breath….' He waited patiently, and when no response came, coughed, annoyed.
Sam suddenly jerked to life and said very quietly, 'Yet they live.'
Looking censoriously at him, Wesley continued, 'Five are without time….'
Jordan joined in with Sam, and the response was more confident. 'Yet they live.'
Spike stubbed out his cigarette and lit another one, idly clicking his lighter, making a small, intermittent flame in the dark.
Not fooled by Spike's nonchalant stance for a moment, Wesley gritted his teeth and continued to pace around the sacrifice. 'Five are without soul.'
This time, a strong, confident 'Yet they live' from his assistants made him pick up speed.
'Five are dead.'
Sam had hardly begun to say 'Yet they live,' when a furious wind blew him against Jordan. The tempest circled the chained vampires, sucking them into its power, stripping their demonic life force from them, taking the sacrifice that had been offered, returning a balance to the world.
Wesley shouted a warning about the powerful light he expected, and they all cowered.
The wind continued to howl around the now empty, hanging chains.
For the first time, Spike appeared to take an interest in the ritual. He almost tore Wesley's arm from its socket. 'What the fuck is happening?'
'I don't know! It should have worked by now. Five sacrifices. It's what the ritual demands.'
'Why isn't he here?'
'I DON'T KNOW!'
Suddenly, staring at her hands, Lilah said almost too quietly to hear over the maelstrom, 'He's too far gone to bring back.'
She hardly reacted to Spike's scream of anguish, but she did look up when Wesley grabbed her arm. 'What do you mean?'
'I think he'll be held too tightly. They'll want to keep him. Five weren't enough for Angelus; don't you see? It's why I wanted it to be him- the most powerful of them all.'
Jordan tore the scroll from Wesley and screamed at him to continue with the ritual.
No one saw him move.
Suddenly, they felt someone moving like light toward the storm.
Wesley tried to catch him.
Spike threw himself into the circling wind, a willing sacrifice to bring Angel back into the world.
All was confusion. A bright light shot out from the centre of the howling wind, and suddenly all was calm. Two figures lay on the hard concrete. The naked one lifted his head and looked around, bewildered. The clothed one lay as if truly dead, unaware that his sacrifice had completed the ritual.
Wesley, crying for no reason he could determine, crouched to Angel and laid a hand on his bare shoulder. More practically, Sam came forward with some clothes.
Angel blinked and looked at them all helplessly for a moment, but then he saw Spike.
Suddenly, he jumped to his feet and ripped the clothes from Sam's hand, dressing, shouting instructions.
No one moved. No one could take it in. He saw their confusion, but didn't have time for it. He didn't even have time for his own terror. He bent to pick up Spike, but felt as if he were trying to lift someone stuck to the ground. He made a soft sound of distress, and at that, the others crowded around to help. No one spoke about Angel's weakness, why he couldn't carry the unconscious figure, why he had made that small, distressed sound.
Questions they didn't ask had answers they didn't want to hear.
No one really took in the ride back to the apartment. Sam and Jordan were too intent on Spike. Wesley allowed himself to focus on nothing but the fact that there were now no empty seats. This seemed right, and other, more insidious thoughts were banished.
Again, Angel made to lift Spike out of the car, but it took three of them to get him inside the building. Only when he was laid on the bed, did the individual excuses not to face what they had done dissipate. Wesley straightened and looked at Angel's hand, then reached out and just touched it lightly, withdrawing as if he'd been stung. Suddenly, he cried out and ran for the stairs, crashing down them just as wildly as he had when the realisation that Angel was dead hit him.
He heard someone behind him on the stairs and increased his speed. Suddenly, there was a curse, something hit him hard in the back, and entangled with Angel, he tumbled the last few feet of the spiral staircase.
Wesley sat up and held his head. Angel curled into a ball, moaning. 'Ow. Fucking hell! Did I just trip?'
Wesley stared at him incredulously. He felt something bubble up inside, and however hard he tried to hold it in, he couldn't. It burst out as a hysterical giggle, and then turned into an anguished cry. 'What have I done? Oh, God, what have I done to you?'
Suddenly, his arm was seized, and Angel dragged himself across the floor until they were eye to eye, faces only inches apart. 'You've brought me back to him. You've brought me back, Wes. It was so dark. I could sense you all somewhere, just out of reach in the light, and I wanted to be with you, but I couldn't. I couldn't. I've been to hell, Wesley, but this place was worse. I remembered everything; I wanted it all back. I wanted him, but I couldn't reach him. But you did it. You brought me back.' With no warning, he grabbed Wesley's upper arms and kissed him passionately, only pulling away to say desperately, 'You brought me back!'
Wesley's eyes filled with tears, and he wiped them away, trying to laugh. 'You're… bleeding.'
Angel felt his temple. 'I tripped. Wesley, I tripped and hit my head, and it… hurts! Ow!' Suddenly, he glanced up. 'Spike.' Rising stiffly and saying under his breath, 'Ow,' he went as fast as he could manage back up the stairs.
Spike was still unconscious on the bed.
Angel sat alongside him and said to no one in particular, 'What happened?'
Lilah replied softly, 'Five weren't enough this time, Angel. You were harder to bring back than Darla. Everything froze, and then Spike threw himself into the wind.'
Angel looked up at her and then at the others for confirmation of this. He looked down and suddenly shook Spike angrily, getting up to pace around, talking to himself in an agitated voice.
Jordan put a hand on Sam's arm and twitched his head at the exit then, catching hold of Lilah, began to ease her away, too.
They passed Wesley standing quietly by the top of the stairs, and he nodded wearily at them.
'We'll be downstairs, Angel. If you need us, just shout.'
Angel hardly heard; he continued to pace and talk.
He only stopped when he heard an odd noise behind him, and turned warily to find the puppy wheeling himself out from under the bed. Droc looked at Angel, then turned with difficulty onto his back, thumping his tail on the ground with pleasure. Angel smiled and knelt to him, picking him up and examining the cast. 'What happened to you, little one?'
'He missed you, that's what.'
Angel jerked up at the unexpected sound of Spike's voice. They looked at each other, weighing things up, and Angel slowly put the dog back to the floor. Spike swung his legs off the bed and stood up.
'He missed you, Angel.'
'But he's okay now?'
Angel suddenly realised that his need to explore this new humanity, to assess what had happened to him, would have to be postponed.
For the next few hours, he was too busy looking after Spike. It was a relatively simple task, for it seemed to consist of just being there and allowing himself to be touched and held; nevertheless, it was all-consuming and took his mind off other things he might have dwelt on.
Spike pulled him into an embrace so tight that one of Angel's ribs cracked, but the human let no pain show. He allowed himself to be lowered to the bed. Spike enveloped him, breathing him in, tasting his skin, listening to his heart. He pressed soft human skin; he licked up warm, salty flesh, and finally, he nuzzled into the hollow of Angel's throat.
Only then did the tears come.
Angel sat up with difficulty, wincing at the unbelievable pain from his rib and held Spike's head tightly to his chest, making soft, comforting sounds. 'I'm back, Baby. I'm back, and I'll never leave you again.'
The reply was muffled, but Angel didn't need to hear it. Spike's heart wrenching shaking said it all.
Angel just continued murmuring into the rumpled blond hair. 'Was I gone a long time? I can't tell. Everything looks great, Spike. Did you look after everything for me? Did you keep everyone safe? Hey… I'm back. Don't cry now; we've got so much time to make up for. I was so afraid you'd… ya know… do something.' At the thought of Spike throwing himself into the storm, Angel felt tears prick his own eyes, and he said more forcibly, 'I'd have come back and been alone, Childe! How could you.'
Suddenly Spike sat up, and wiping furiously at his eyes, he said in a tight voice, 'I'm not!'
'Your childe. I'm not. Not any more! Oh, God, Angel! I- .' Angel just pulled him back in.
At last, after some hours, Angel felt that the worst of the tempest was over. He ran his fingers through Spike's hair and kissed the damp strands. Spike sat up and hung his head, his hand still fastened tightly on Angel's arm, as if holding him like this could prevent them being separated again.
'You didn't want this.'
Angel pursed his lips and studied the tear-streaked profile. 'I didn't want to be dead more.'
Spike blinked. 'We thought this would separate us- this being human and demon.'
'Well, we'll have to prove ourselves wrong. As you so annoyingly pointed out: you manage with Sam well enough.'
Spike didn't reply, and they both knew he was thinking of Angel's depressing view of that scenario. Angel winced and swung his legs off the bed. 'We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, Spike. We're together. Nothing has changed between us now, has it? Do I… look the same?'
Spike turned to look at him with a thoughtful expression. 'You'll be able to see for yourself now.' Without letting Angel have time to digest this, he looked down to where Angel held his side. 'What's wrong? Are you hurt?'
'I tumbled from hell, and then I fell down the stairs. So, yeah, kinda… ow, here.'
Spike smiled softly for the first time in so long that his facial muscles felt stiff from lack of use. 'I missed you.'
'Hmm. I kinda got that.'
'And I didn't look after anyone. Not even the mutt. He got hurt, too.'
'How did it happen?'
'Helping to save you.'
They sat on the edge of the bed, just looking at each other. Angel made a small movement of his head. 'I am starving, by the way….'
Spike bit his lip and screwed up his face, then nodded and stood, moving toward the kitchen. Suddenly, he came back and carefully lifted Angel to his feet. 'You come as well. That was too far away.'
Almost automatically, Spike bent and swept up the puppy in his arms. 'What do you want, hey Mutt-face?'
'You're talking to the dog….'
Spike pouted. 'I'm hedging my bets.'
Angel looked puzzled but said softly, 'He's grown.'
'Yeah. Long legs- too easy to break.'
'But he's looking like a wolf hound at last.'
'He's aging seven times faster than….'
Angel felt that it was time for some distraction, and suddenly took Spike's hand and placed it over his heart. Spike frowned, a small, pleased frown, and then snatched his hand away, laughing. Angel caught him around the back of the neck and drew him in close, gently enfolding the dog between them.
'I'm back, Spike.'
Spike nodded, and finally, he actually believed it.
The End of Episode 7
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