Beauty Effulgent

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Fading by uberaeryn
Part Two

“So . . . how? How the fuck does a vampire become human but still be a vampire? And is Angel still in there? Wil, is he still there? Can you bring him back?” Faith was angry, desperate, pacing.

Spike slouched on the sofa in Giles’ study, head in his hands, still shaking from the pain of his wounds but more so from the shock of seeing Angelus again. The past two hours had been a blurred rush of movement and confusion; binding Angelus, hurrying to the car, the drive out to the estate one of utter silence, Spike and Giles and Willow staring at Angelus’ unconscious body, each of them lost in their own memories, asking themselves innumerable questions. Spike could feel Willow trembling and the hate and fear radiating off Giles, and he felt somehow that this was his responsibility, that he should be able to reassure them that they’d done the right thing, riding in to the rescue – but he wasn’t certain at all now that a rescue should have been attempted.

If he’d known this was what things would have come to, he would have killed Angel himself.

They arrived at the house, finding an exhausted Faith and Xander waiting for them, immediately assaulting them with questions they couldn’t answer; Xander fending off young, curious Slayers while Faith stowed Wesley’s body in the cellar, Faith trying to fight back tears and failing and nearly coming to blows with Ilyria over who would lay Wesley’s body out; and then chaining a still unconscious Angelus beside him.

And Spike had just watched, silent, knees trembling.

And all Spike could think was no, no, no, no . . .

Fucking unfair. All that work, and that suffering, and then fucking Angelus wins?

Willow was trying to answer Faith’s question. “I know Angel is still in there Faith, I felt him; but the rest . . . Giles, what do we know about the prophecy? Anything?” Willow was frantic, also pacing, wringing her hands.

Giles was already up to his neck in books, sorting them in some manner only he understood, sometimes cursing softly and shoving one back onto the shelves if it wasn’t what he was looking for.

Xander plopped on the other end of the sofa with a sigh. “All right, all right, just . . . wait. This is time for the calming down part and the talking part, right? Information, from all sides. Except from the Council side; they’re so not feeling the Xander love right now.” He grimaced and scratched under his eyepatch.

Giles sighed and sat back. “You’re right, of course. Everyone just sit, we’ll go through this from the beginning.”

Faith sighed and brought back up her walls; attitude now cocky and mocking, hiding her fear and rage and grief for the moment, slumping down next to Spike while Willow perched nervously on the arm of the sofa. Ilyria stood still as stone in the corner of the study, the only thing moving her eyes, tinted with ice and flicking in turn from Spike to Willow and to Faith. Those eyes lingered on Faith the longest, unreadable, and in the middle of the fervent torrent of thoughts assaulting his brain Spike reminded himself to tell Rupert to not leave the two of them alone in a room together.

“A drink, Rupert?” Spike asked wearily. Giles looked at him and nodded, indicating with a jerk of his head the liquor cabinet in the corner. He started to haul himself up but Faith stopped him, hand on his shoulder, pressing him back down onto the sofa.

“I’ll get it, Slick. A double of Giles’ finest? I highly recommend the scotch,” she said, grinning when she saw Giles glaring at her. “What? I thought that was one of the perks of the job; being able to raid your liquor cabinet whenever I wanted.”

She winked at Spike and he almost managed a smile, then she poured one for him and herself.

“I’ll take one, too, Faith. I don’t have to tip, do I? Because I am all outta cash. The current job situation – I seemed to be paid more in bruises and cracked ribs and orders to go out and buy tampons wholesale,” Xander said.

Giles sighed again.

Faithe looked over Xander over her shoulders. “You can pay me later, baby,” she said, and blew him a kiss.

“Oh, the joys of having a beautiful Slayer toy with my heart, and only with my heart. You know, there are plenty of other areas of my body that could be used as toys . . .”

“All right, if you two are quite finished,” Giles said irritably. “Let’s everyone get settled and start from the beginning. And then we will all rest.”

“Someone has to watch him. He may be human, but he’s still Angelus,” Xander said.

“We’ll discuss that. But first – Spike, what do you remember? When exactly did this happen?” Giles stared at him intently, pen poised, ready to take notes.

Spike sighed and let his head fall back, closed his eyes, remembering . . .

“We were fightin’. They were comin’ at us from all sides, demons, vampires, the lot; hundreds of ‘em. They were hurlin’ steel but also a lot of magic, dark, every wound kinda . . . sucked it in – we were gettin’ weaker, good ol’ vampire constitution failin’ on us.” He winced, remembering the pain of the strikes. “And then . . . then I took a hit, knocked me barmy and I went down and everything went black.” He paused, trying to bring the next fuzzy memory into clarity.

“Angel slew the dragon,” Ilyria added. “A magnificent strike, into the belly of the beast but then he faded.”

“Wow,” Xander mumbled under his breath. “Dragon Slayer.”

“Faded?” Giles asked.

“As if he had only been an apparition from the beginning, not solid, no longer helping, abandoning the fight.”

Spike shook his head. “Not that, Blue. Not in him to abandon any fight. He . . .” Spike paused again, fighting to find the words. “It was like I was watching through warped glass, yeah? He was in a room, all made of stone, bleedin’ and half-dead and talkin’ to someone or somethin’ I couldn’t see.”

“What did he say?”

“I couldn’t hear, just see, but he was shakin’ his head, like he was sayin’ no. And then somethin’ picked him up, shook him like a rag doll, and then it was like . . . there was light and dark, like there was some kind of tug of war goin’ on over him. Then he was just standin’ there, healed, strong and I could feel this . . . wave wash over him, and I could feel it, feel every cell in his body changing. Human.”

He took a sip of his scotch, staring back into the past. “And then it was like he knew I was there, and he looked at me and smiled . . . then he . . .”

Spike frowned. “That must have been it then, right there; suddenly he was on his knees, seemed like he was begging, I didn’t know what for, I thought maybe for Wes or Fred but then . . . then I woke up and Blue was dragging both of us through the streets by the scruff of our necks. I could tell he was human; could smell it, and I thought if we could just get someplace safe then he’d get better, have his soddin’ reward and be done with the whole thing, but he wouldn’t wake up. . .”

He looked up at Willow, who was already nodding her agreement. “That’s why he refused to wake up, tried to die. Not just because he paid such a high price but because he knew Angelus was still there. He must have been fighting him all this time, inside.”

Faith groaned, hand over her eyes. “Fuck me. I’ve been in between those two and it is not a pretty sight.”

Giles looked down at his notes thoughtfully. “Angelus said he had Angel ‘in a corner.’”

“Either he’s too scared to come out, or he can’t. I’m bettin’ on the latter,” Spike said, downing the rest of his scotch and sighing his appreciation when Faith stood to get him more. He watched her, saw her rub her eyes across her shirt sleeve. She was hurtin’, he thought, losing Wes and Angel . . .

Giles sighed and sat back. “Well, the first order of business is to make sure this is kept quiet. If word gets out that Angelus is back but it human, all manner of human and demon will be after him, so not a word to anyone except the coven, am I understood?”

Everyone nodded wearily. “And then . . . Willow, I want you to contact the coven. Tell them everything you know, and then I want you to get some rest. You can join them in the morning, assist them any way you can. Xander, how did things leave off with the council?”

“Eh, not so bad considering we kept them locked in a room for three days and Faith decided to use Locke as a punching bag.” He glared at Faith.

“He was gettin’ mouthy. When I tell someone to shut up, I mean it,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Anyway, at the end they started to come around to our side.”

Giles looked startled. “How on earth . . .”

“Buffy. She called, made us put her on speakerphone. I love her, you know, but the speeches? Makes me sleepy,” Xander said, yawning.

“No kiddin’,” Faith added. “She must have yapped for three hours. By the time it was over I was beggin’ Xander to shoot me.”

“Bloody hell,” Giles sighed, rubbing at his forehead. “What did she say?”

“She told them about the dream.”

Spike frowned. “What dream?”

“Prophecy dream. Told it over and over. In great detail. Over and over again. I don’t know if they caved because they believed her or because she wouldn’t shut up. Don’t tell her I said that!”

“Too late. And you are so gonna pay for that . . .”

“Buffy!” Willow leapt off the couch and ran to her, hugging her so hard she squeaked.

“Jeez, Wil, you been working out?” she asked, pulling back and smiling.

“No, just tremendously, gigantously, enormously, hugely relieved that you’re here.” Willow smiled and hugged her once more before offering her up to the greetings of Giles and Faith and Xander, who received a hug and then a hard pinch on the arm for his earlier comments.

Spike watched her, something inside him . . . easing. Similar to the feeling he’d had when Red had appeared. Here was help, reinforcements – and of course, in spite of everything that had happened since he’d last seen her, a bit more than that. He smiled at her as she walked across the room to stand in front of him. Her hair was darker, her skin was fairer, but the smile was the same.

She knelt down on the floor in front of him. “So. Look who’s not all burnt up,” she said quietly.

“Sorry to disappoint, love,” he murmured, too tired and too worried about Angel to come up with anything cleverer.

She smiled slightly. “It’s good to see you again, Spike. Even though you’ve brought Angelus to our door and the Black Olive guys after us.”

“Thorn,” he corrected, propping his head in his hand and staring at her.

“Whatever. These guys have really got to start finding scarier names, like The Unholy Order of the Hideous Smelly Pus Demons or something.”

“And, eww. Drink, B?”

“Yeah, tiny bit if you don’t mind. Tiny, not Super Faith Sized. So . . .” she said, moving to lean against Giles’ desk. “Lemme see if I got all this: There’s one of my ex-vampire boyfriends who is now also an ex-vampire but still the most vicious vampire of the past 300 years but is now human; another ex-vampire boyfriend who burned to death to save the world and is now unburned . . .”

Spike blinked in surprised to referred to as an ex-boyfriend.

“. . . a bunch of pissed off demons after them; a . . .” she looked Illyria curiously, “ . . . a blue girl, and . . .”

There was movement at the door and her mouth dropped open and she stared. “And a dead former Watcher who is now apparently . . . formerly dead?”

Xander, Faith, Giles and Buffy were immediately on their feet and pointing various weapons as Wesley staggered into the room. Spike stood as well, but more slowly, staring in shock and feeling a wave of sudden, desperate hope run through him.






She stood in front of Wesley, who was listing to the left, the expression on his face one of confusion. She made a motion with her hand. “Reveal,” she whispered, and the air in the room shimmered, like silk against the skin, and she watched Wesley closely before smiling broadly. “To me,” she said, and the air righted and she turned to Giles and grinned. “It’s him. It’s Wesley, only . . . more.”

Spike grabbed the arm of the sofa as his knees started to buckle.


“Yeah,” she said in soft wonder. “He’s been made whole, and something, something has been added . . .”

The weapons were lowered and both Faith and Illryia moved to Wesley, who looked like he was about to fall on his face, but he brushed them both back with ease and suddenly all of his attention was on Spike.

“Spike,” he murmured, voice hoarse, taking brief stumbling steps toward him. Spike met him halfway and caught him before he fell. “Spike,” he whispered, running his hands over Spike’s face. “I’ve been looking for you. Where were you? I needed you. Needed you and . . . Angel! Where is Angel? I must find Angel . . .”

Spike’s stomach twisted. “He’s . . . we’ll find him, Wes, all right? Right now, let’s rest, yeah? Rupert?”

“There’s an empty room, two doors down on the left. But Spike . . .”

“It’s all right, he’s all right,” Spike said, eyes on Wesley’s face. “Lemme just get him settled, get some rest. Blue, I think it’s best . . . you stay, with Harris, all right? He’ll keep you company.”

He ignored Xander’s sigh. She cocked her head and something flared in her eyes but she stayed silent.

“Someone call me if Angel . . .”

“Yeah. We got it, Spike. Get some sleep,” Buffy said softly and he felt again the relief that help was here.


He struggled to help Wesley out of his clothes, a difficult job with Wesley continually grabbing at him, holding on to him, desperate for contact.

“Cold,” Wesley muttered, wrapping his arms around Spike’s waist and pressing his face against Spike’s stomach. Spike sighed and ran his fingers through Wesley’s hair.

“I know. Lay down, we’ll get you warm, right?”

He managed to convince Wesley to get into the bed and then stripped off his own clothes, sliding in beside Wesley and wrapping his arms around him. Wesley shuddered and turned into his embrace, burying his face in Spike’s neck. “Was looking for you,” he whispered against Spike’s skin. Spike shivered and pulled him tighter. “Needed you. You and Angel.”

Fuck. What in the hell had happened to him? “Sorry, love, but I’m here now, right? Everything’s gonna be all right.”

“Promise?” He burrowed into Spike like he was trying to crawl into his skin.

“Yeah.” Gettin’ good at making promises he couldn’t possibly keep.

“Mmm.” A final soft murmur and then suddenly Wesley’s body relaxed completely as slept swept over him.

It took a long time, but finally slept came to Spike as well, restless and haunted by images of Angel alone, in the dark, in the cold, weeping.


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