Beauty Effulgent

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Fading by uberaeryn
Part Seven

. . . break your back . . ..

. . . torn apart by the black . . .

. . . protected by the white . . .

. . . the wolves, running through the dark, howling, claiming their prey . . .

. . . and Angelus, howling with them, claiming victory . . .


They spent the greater part of the day arguing about what to do and how to do it; Giles adamant that he was not about to send any of them into the path of the senior partners without knowing what they had planned, and Buffy, Spike and Wesley arguing that it was now or never, they either found Angel and Illyria and took care of the situation or the senior partners got what they wanted; Angelus as their new weapon and Angel with him.

Not to mention what may happen with Fred.

Finally, Giles had given in, albeit reluctantly, and it was almost nightfall when Willow sat down on the floor to attempt a locator spell.

“Willow?” Giles prompted, pacing and keeping an ashen-faced Wesley supplied with water in turn.

She studied the roughly sketched map of the surrounding area, and with a quick movement of her hand a small pinprick of light appeared.

“Here,” she said. “They’re heading north, through the woods.”

“Fine. Faith?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she sighed, still rubbing at the back of her neck.

“Right, then. You and Xander take four of the girls, stay wide and circle round to the north, try to cut them off. Keep them where they are but don’t take them on; their contact from the senior partners may be out there and we have no idea what we’ll be facing. However, if you get a clear shot at Angel, take it.”

Spike sat up suddenly from where he’d been slouched on the love seat. “No. No, Rupert. We take him alive, bring him back here.”

Giles sighed, wiping his hand across his mouth. “Spike . . .”

“I promised him, all right? I told him I was gonna do this and I damn well am.” He’s not gonna die alone and in the dark, he thought bitterly.

They stared at each other for a long moment.

“Very well, Spike. We’ll attempt to capture him, but if it looks to me as if any of you are in danger, I’ll kill him myself, promise or no promise. Understood?”

Spike nodded wearily and fell back on to the love seat.

“Faith, get the girls and head out, but stay back. Don’t go near them.” Faith hauled herself up off the love seat and she and Xander left after taking one quick look at the map. “Buffy? You, Willow, Spike and I will try to take them from behind. Willow, considering Illyria’s strength, you should be prepared for anything.”

She nodded absently, already pulling her bag over her shoulder and grabbing a crossbow from the weapons cabinet. Buffy was already armed to the teeth, and was handing Spike weapon after weapon.

“Slayer,” he said, smiling wearily. “Slow down. I can’t carry as much as I used to.”

She stopped abruptly, then sighed. “Right. Sorry. I forgot.”

“Wish I could,” Spike muttered, and settled for a crossbow and a long-bladed knife.

“I’m coming,” Wesley said, standing unsteadily.

Giles turned to face him. “Wesley, you can’t possibly come with us. You’re hurt, you’re weak. You’ll slow us down.”

“No, I won’t,” Wesley said, a hint of steel in his voice and his eyes void of any expression. “I’m coming with you. I have to, Giles.”

Giles stared at him. “You’ve seen something, haven’t you?”

Wesley walked over to the weapons cabinet and pulled out a rifle, checking to see if it was loaded. “Yes,” he said, checking the sight.

“What was it?”

“That doesn’t really matter, Giles. The vision was for me and me alone. All I’ll tell you is that I’m meant to be there,” Wesley said coldly.

“Bloody hell,” Giles muttered. “Fine, then. Let’s go.”


They marched through the woods, ignoring the chill in the air, Buffy on point, following the tiny pinprick of light Willow had conjured. They had covered about a mile when the light stopped abruptly and then winked out.

“Here,” Buffy whispered. “Giles, take Willow and Wesley and go east, wait for us to make our move; Spike and I will head west.”

They separated and Spike followed Buffy, tense with dread and adrenaline. He’d seen what the senior partners were capable of, and whatever scene they were about to walk in on was likely to be ugly.

Buffy dropped to the ground suddenly, pulling Spike with her. “There,” she nodded.

Spike looked. In a small clearing stood Illyria. And across from her was Angel, head bent to the side, being held by Dru. Buffy cursed under her breath.

“Fuck!” Spike hissed. “She’s gonna fuckin’ turn him!”

He looked at Buffy. “Listen, Slayer, you go after Dru. Whatever it takes, all right?”

“Gladly. But are you sure?” she whispered.

“Yeah,” he muttered. He was sure. But it didn’t make it hurt any less. “I’ll grab Angel, and we’ll leave Blue to the others.”

Buffy sighed. “You got it,” she said, and started circling around the clearing quietly so that she could come at Dru from behind.

In the clearing, he could hear Dru crooning to Angel. “Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home . . .”

“That’s right, Drusilla, I’m back,” Angelus said hoarsely. “Now just do what needs to be done; we’ll be a family again, right? Stronger than ever, my love.”

“Oh, yes,” she giggled, stroking the side of his neck. “Black, black, break your back . . .”

Now, Dru, you crazy, fucking bitch.”

She whirled him around to face her and slapped him, hard. “You must play nice, Daddy, or you will be punished,” she said, as if scolding a child.

“Fine, yes, Dru. I’m sorry,” he rasped.

“Much better. Break your back, leave you to the wolves in the dark and the dirt and then wake up again, broken and all better . . .”

She turned, teeth bared, and started to lean in to Angel’s neck. Spike thought he heard Buffy about to make her move when Illyria spoke.

“Stop,” she ordered. “You will give me what I am due.”

Dru turned back and looked at her with wide eyes. “Yes. The goddess, the queen, the unconquerable. The tiny, dirty scattered pieces of the girl, shoved back inside you, make you like a broken dolly, never to be fixed again,” she said sadly, and then her hand moved and Illryia was hit by a dirty, golden light, bent backward and frozen in place.

Suddenly everything seemed to happen at once: Buffy jumped on Dru from behind, pulling her away from Angel who fell to the ground, cursing; Spike fell on Angel, rolling him over on his stomach, binding and gagging him, faintly aware of the sounds of fighting between Dru and Buffy behind him; then there was a scream, shrill and high-pitched, and he looked up to see Fred, naked and cowering on the ground. He stood, leaving Angel tied up on the ground, and hurried toward her when Wesley stepped out of the shadows, rifle in hand.

“Move back, Spike,” he ordered.

“Wes . . .”

“Move!” Spike did so, slowly, noting absently that Buffy had moved to stand by his side.

Fred screamed again, clawing at her chest, then looked up at Wesley. “Wesley! God, Wesley, please don’t let her do this, it hurts!”

“It sure does,” Buffy murmured. Spike winced.

“Wesley, wait!” Willow said, coming up behind him. “It’s her, it’s Fred!”

“I know,” Wesley said quietly.

“Please, Wesley,” Fred said, sobbing. “She’s still here, inside me, and it’s all going to happen all over again, please don’t let it happen again, please!”

“Fred,” Wesley said, voice hoarse. “I’m sorry.”

Fred stilled, and then smiled, even though she was still shuddering with pain and fear.

“It’s all right,” she said softly. “Just do it, please.”

Wesley raised the rifle and took aim.

Spike was the only one who didn’t look away when he fired. He figured he owed the both of them at least that much.


“Dru?” Spike asked.

Buffy shrugged. “She ran.”

They were almost to the house, walking in silence, Giles and Spike hauling a weakly struggling Angel between them and Wesley carrying Fred’s slight body, when Willow suddenly pulled up short, eyes wide, and then started running full tilt toward the house.

“Will?” Buffy called, but Willow was already gone.

Giles sighed and they struggled through the front door of the house. “Spike, let’s take him to the cellars; I suggest we take care of this as soon as possible.”

Spike’s stomach tightened. He wasn’t ready for this, he’d never be ready for this.


“I’ll lay her out in my room,” Wesley said, voice empty of any emotion, and started making his way up the stairs.

Giles sighed, and then he and Spike stumbled down the stairs with Angel and laid him out on a cot, tying him to it and leaving the gag in place. For the first time since capturing him Spike looked in his eyes, and the hate in those eyes was so intense it almost burned. Spike leaned back against the wall, sighing heavily.


He looked up to see Giles’ offering him a knife. He hesitated, and then reached out with a trembling hand to take it. He looked down again at Angel, seeing Angelus but knowing Angel was in there.

“Keepin’ my promise, right?” he whispered. “I’m sorry.” So fuckin’ sorry . . .

He bent over Angel, pressing the tip of the knife to his throat.

“Quick and clean, Spike.”

“I know, Watcher.”


Spike jumped and pulled back as Willow hurried down the stairs.

“Giles! Lucinda is here; she and the coven think they’ve found a way to get rid of Angelus!” she said breathlessly.

Spike tried to damp down a desperate feeling of rising hope. The knife clattered to the floor.

“What? How?” Giles demanded.

“It’s complicated and I need to know something first. Spike, sit down,” she ordered, pointing at a chair in the corner.

He sat. “What’s going on, Red?”

“Just trust me. Close your eyes . . .”

He did so.

. . . remember . . .


“Angel! Angel!’

“Sorry, Spike, he can’t hear you. He’s got his own vision thing going on, and to tell you the truth, it ain’t pretty.”

Spike looked up in shock. “Cordelia?” he whispered.

“The one and only, you lucky dog, getting me as your vision guide thingy.” She smiled.

Spike looked over to where Angel was still fighting with invisible enemies. “Can’t I help him?”

She sighed. “Not right now. But soon. Spike, look at me.”

He did. She looked exactly like she had the last time he’d seen her, the day she’d died.

“Spike, I can’t stay long and I have to be frustratingly vague, as per usual.” She rolled her eyes. “But there’s something you need to know.”

She knelt down beside him. “The Shanshu was never about Angel. It was about you. When you wake up, you’ll be all human again.”

“Bloody hell!” he spat, covering his face with his hands.

“It’s a reward, Spike. You could show a little gratitude.”

He sighed. “But what about Angel?”

She glanced at Angel, who was still fighting. “Well, there’s a lot going on there. He’ll be made human as well, but for a much different reason.”

“What reason?”

“Vague part. But you’ll figure it out soon enough. Listen to me, Spike, there is a reward waiting for Angel; there are always rewards for champions.”

“Well . . . what is it? When?”

“Well, he’ll . . . get what he wants, if you make it happen.”

“If I make it happen? Are you fuckin’ serious?”

She sighed. “Sounds weird, I know, but you have to find the way.”

“How?” he demanded.

“Vague again. But I can tell you one thing; take him and go to the most powerful person you know.”

“But who . . .”

“Sorry. That’s all I can say. But please, Spike,” she said softly. “You can do this. Help him get what he deserves. And remember, the most powerful person you know . . .”

She was gone, and his vision began to swim, and he saw a flash of red hair and white light . . .


“ . . . and that was it,” he said, not even realizing he’d been speaking. He stared down at Willow, who was kneeling in front of him, smiling slightly. “It was you,” he said. “That’s why I wanted to get to you so badly, why I needed you.”

She reached forward and hugged him tightly. “Yep. Think so. And I think we can fix this, get him back.”

He leaned heavily into her arms and hugged her back, burying his face in her hair. “Thank God,” he whispered.


They left Xander on watch and everyone again gathered in the study. Lucinda, leader of the coven, an older woman with long, grey hair and a manner of tranquility about her, explained the spell.

“Normally, in a case of demonic possession, it’s usually just a matter of exorcism to rid the body of the demon. This is much different, however. Angelus has become so strong that he refuses to leave Angel’s body. If we forced him out with magic, he’d simply leap into the next warm body, dragging Angel’s soul with him and killing him in the process.”

“So what do you intend to do?” Giles asked, rubbing at his eyes.

“It’s a long and complicated process, and it involves a great deal of magic and a lot of luck, but essentially the first thing we do is kill Angel ourselves,” Lucinda said. She waited patiently until the outcry died down.

“Let me explain,” she said. “During the ritual, Angel’s throat will be slit and his blood spilled on to the ground that has been blessed for just this purpose. As he dies, both Angel and Angelus will be forced to leave the body; they’ll have no choice. But because it’s death, and not magic, that frees them, they’ll be separated. We’ll direct Angel’s essence into one vessel, and Angelus’ into another, where he can then, hopefully, be destroyed. At that point, we begin the ritual of resurrection, healing Angel’s body and returning his spirit to it.”

Giles was now staring at Willow, his eyes hard. “What do you mean by ‘vessel’?” he snapped.

“Human vessels. The rest of you will be protected by wards, but Spike will hold Angel’s soul,” Willow said quietly. “And I will hold Angelus.”

“You bloody well will not!” Giles bellowed, slamming his hand hard on his desk. “Do you realize how dangerous that is, Willow? If Angelus gets any idea of how powerful you are, what’s going to stop him from deciding to use you as his means to an end? He could kill you, Willow, or worse, pull up that darkness again. You do recall what happened last time, do you not?”

“Of course I do, Giles,” she said softly. “But I’m stronger now. I can fight him, destroy him.”

“Giles, I have to agree,” Lucinda added.

“No. I will not allow it. No,” Giles said angrily.

“Excuse me,” Wesley said. “Giles, I need a word with you and Willow and Lucinda.”

Giles stared at him, then looked at everyone else and with a jerk of his head ordered them out of the study. They filed out one by one, down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“What was all that about, then?” Spike asked.

“Dunno,” Buffy sighed. “But it doesn’t sound good.”


Half an hour later Willow hurried down the stairs. “It’s a go,” she said. “Everyone get bundled up, it’s getting cold out there.”

Spike grabbed her by the arms. “You all right, Red? You been cryin’?”

She sighed. “It’s gonna be hard, but it’s gotta be done. The coven’s already gathered, somebody grab Angel. Let’s get this done.”


They gathered, everyone bundled up in jackets and high collars against the cold, in a clearing not far from Giles’ house, the other members of the coven already there, a fire burning high in the center of the circle next to a stone altar. Willow and Lucinda huddled with the rest of them, talking hurriedly, and then Willow rushed back to Spike.

“Spike, I know this is gonna be hard, but we’ve got nothing to lose at this point, right?” she said.

He nodded and she handed him a knife. “Be careful. You know where to cut; I’ll tell you when. Now, as soon as you feel Angel, you tell me immediately so I can pull a ward up over you, okay? To keep Angelus away.” There was something wrong; she was avoiding his eyes.

“Somethin’ you’re not telling me, Red.”

“Just . . . Spike, it’s very important that no matter what you see, no matter how upset you might get, stay next to Angel, all right? Don’t move, don’t leave the circle, please.”

He stared at the knife and thought of Wesley’s visions. “Right,” he sighed.


Angel’s body was laid on the altar, Angelus struggling weakly and cursing under the gag against all the white magic, and then Willow led Spike to his side, Wesley and Giles standing at the head of the altar, and then the circle was closed. Buffy, Faith and Xander watched from outside of it.

The chanting started, and a slow, tingly heat began to flow through his veins. Power, ancient and without name, started to rise up from the ground, shimmers of white light streaking through the air, vibrating.

Suddenly something slammed through him; he felt as if he’d been filled with the echoes of power that had existed before time, strong, confident, ready. Willow.

He looked at her, and she looked back with eyes of black. He knew that his looked the same. She nodded, and without thinking he bent over Angel’s body and slit his throat, then thrust the blade into the blessed earth.

He watched without fear as the blood drained from Angel’s body, on to the altar and dripping on to the ground; watched as Angel’s eyes started to dim; saw the hate from Angelus and then the love from Angel, switching back and forth, and then Angel’s eyes were black, lifeless.

Willow murmured something, or perhaps she screamed it, everything had taken on such a dreamlike quality, and then he was knocked flat on the ground. He closed his eyes. Angel, deep in his chest. Purely Angel, no Angelus.

He looked up at Willow and nodded, and then was knocked back again as the ward slammed up.

The chanting grew louder and Willow spread her hands wide, turning in a circle as if looking for something, and then suddenly her arms were over her head and she brought them down hard, palms facing out.

Facing out toward Wesley.

A tremendous roar of rage and darklight surged forward and Wesley stumbled back, falling to his knees, and then a wind of the likes he had never felt swirled inside the circle, full of anger and fear and evil, and then the fire went out and all was black.

The chanting continued, even more forceful now, and Spike waited in darkness, feeling Angel frightened and angry, and then the fire flared up again, revealing that Wesley was gone.

“There,” Willow murmured and Wesley stumbled out of the underbrush toward Giles.

“Do it,” he rasped. “Do it, he’s here . . .”

Giles looked at Willow, who nodded, and before anyone could blink Giles had planted a knife deep in Wesley’s heart, catching him, holding him as they both slid to the ground, propping him against his lap as they waited.

Waited for him to die.

Soon, Giles felt for a pulse, then looked up at Willow, expression grim, and nodded.

“Remove him from the circle,” she ordered. Giles pulled Wesley’s body outside the circle and sat on the ground beside it, head in his hands.

The incantation changed, sped up, and now there was a feel of hope and healing and joy, and Spike stood without being told and took Angel’s hand, felt it becoming warmer, a flush of pink returning to his ashen features, and then Willow held out her hand, palm up.

“To me,” she whispered and the warmth of Angel’s soul was gone from Spike’s body and he almost howled with the loss of it. Willow put her hand over Angel’s heart and whispered “Return.”

Then the three of them were surrounded by a swirl of tremendous white light, and Spike thought he could hear echoes of Gunn and Fred and Cordelia laughing, and to his surprise he found that he was laughing, too, and then the blackness came down like a hammer and he was gone.


“Spike. Spike, wake up.”

He opened his eyes. It was Willow. She looked haggard and drawn, but she was smiling.

He sat up quickly. “Did it work?”

“See for yourself,” she said, and he looked.

Angel, standing unsteadily by the altar, looking both confused and relieved.

Spike stood and approached him cautiously, holding back hope until he was sure. “Angel?”

Angel’s head whipped around. “Spike? Is this real?” he asked helplessly.

“Yeah, mate,” Spike said softly, holding out one hand. Angel took it and held it tightly. “Feel that?” Spike asked.

Angel brought his eyes to Spike’s. He smiled, even though he was crying. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.” And then Spike was swept into his arms and Spike held him tightly as Angel wept.


When they got back to the house, Spike got Angel settled in his bed, promising to answer all his questions later, and as soon as Angel was asleep he headed down the hall to the study.

“Spike,” Giles said tiredly. “I’m glad you’re here; I don’t want to have to explain this more than once.” He paced, wiping continually at his hands that were already clean of blood.

“Wesley told us that when he had been sent back, he’d been instructed to do one thing: Save Angel from Angelus.

Giles sighed. “He’d had several visions. One of them involved Fred; that’s why he came prepared with the rifle. The other was of him looking through Angelus’ eyes while I stabbed him in the heart. That’s why he volunteered to take Angelus within himself instead of allowing Willow to do it; he’d be performing his duty and then be freed. Frankly, I think he rather welcomed the thought of death, he saw it as a release.”

Giles rubbed hard at his eyes. “I didn’t want to do it, but he was determined. Both Lucinda and Willow read him and agreed that it was destined. So, now we have two bodies to bury tomorrow.” He ran a hand over his mouth. “I’ve got to get some air.”

He stormed out of the study. Buffy watched him go, then stood up and followed him.

Faith, Spike, Willow and Xander sat in silence for a long time, then headed off to their beds.


Spike was awakened by the warm feel of Angel atop him, resting heavily on his chest. Spike threaded his fingers through his hair and Angel groaned and held him tighter.

“You all right?” he whispered.

“Listening to your heartbeat,” Angel murmured.

Spike smiled. “Weird, ain’t it?”

“Nice,” Angel said. “Warm.” Angel propped himself on his hands and nudged up between Spike’s thighs, leaning down and kissing Spike deeply.

“Mmmm.” Angel pulled away, smiling.

Spike’s eyebrows rose. “You sure you’re feelin’ up to it?”

Angel thrust up against him, rubbing his cock against Spike’s. “Don’t I feel like I’m up to it?” He grinned and then buried his face in Spike’s neck, nibbling and sucking. Spike sighed and shudder, running his hands down Angel’s back.

“All right, love, but be gentle. I’m a virgin, you know.”

Angel snorted and licked his way up to Spike’s ear.

“I’m serious! I’ve never had sex as a human. Although I did try to fuck Willow,” Spike said thoughtfully.

Angel’s head shot up. “Willow?”

“Well, she was there and naked, I’m only human.”

Angel snorted again. “I’ll be gentle, my little virgin.”

Spike scowled. “Don’t call me little. And you don’t have to be that gentle.”

Angel grinned.

Spike did, too.


Late the next afternoon, Spike and Angel made their way up to the clearing where Fred and Wesley had been buried next to a marker erected in Anya’s memory and another listing all the Slayers that had been lost in the last battle in Sunnydale.

Angel stared down at their graves. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe they’re all gone. Doyle, Cordy, Wes, Gunn, Fred . . .”

“Don’t start that. You’d be doin’ ‘em a disservice if you start broodin’ about them, now. They died fightin’, they were champions, that’s what champions do.”

“But how’s that fair? I get my reward and they die?”

“It ain’t fair, it’s just the way it is. Angel, didn’t you hear ‘em? When Red was bringin’ you back?”

Angel turned to look at him. “I thought I dreamed that,” he said softly.

“Nope, I was there, I heard it, too.”

Angel was silent for a while, then turned away and moved to sit in the grass, face lifted to the afternoon sun. “I want to go back to L.A.”

Spike flopped down beside him. “Really.”

“Yeah. There’s Connor, first off. And I want to finish what I started, finish the senior partners once and for all.”

Spike sighed. “Gonna be hard, just us, and just us bein’ human.”

“Well, you know,” said Faith, she and Xander coming up behind them. “Xander and I were just talkin’ about how we miss sunny California.” She grinned.

“Yeah, but you’ve gotta drive me by Sunnydale so I can spit in the huge gaping hole,” Xander said. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that while I was there.”

Spike frowned at Faith. “Ain’t you wanted by the law?”

Angel grinned. “Not anymore. Wolfram & Hart took care of that. But aren’t you needed here, Faith?”

“Nope. B’s movin’ back. So if you guys want help, count me in.”

“Me, too,” Xander said. “But I can’t emphasize enough the spitting part.”

Spike snorted, then nudged Angel with his shoulder. “There’s your crack team, boss.”

“Not quite,” Faith said. “Just got a call from the nicest demon. Says he’s bought the Hyperion with all the money he embezzled from Wolfram & Hart. Turned the ballroom into a club.”

Angel’s draw dropped. “Lorne?”

“Yep. Wants you to call, said to tell you the slate’s clean.”

“I’ll be damned,” Angel said. “A new team.”

“And no team’s complete without a witch.” Now all four of them stared in shock as Willow joined them.

“Willow? Are you sure?” Angel asked, dumbfounded.

“Yep. I talked to Giles; I can split my time between here and L.A. If you want,” she said.

“Yeah, hell, yeah, we want, don’t we, Angel?” Spike said excitedly, grabbing her and pulling her onto his lap. She grinned at him.

“Yeah,” Angel said, smiling. “We want.”

“Right, then. We’ve got the brains, we’ve got the brawn and then . . . well, then there’s me and you and Harris,” Spike said.

“Hey!” Angel and Xander said at the same time.

Angel stood. “Let’s go. If we’re going to do this it’s going to take some planning.”

The rest of them got to their feet and started following him back to the house.

I think we should plan on takin’ some time off.”

“I wouldn’t mind some time off; bringing people back from the dead really takes it out of you.”

“Not me, I’m ready to kick some ass and like yesterday.”

“Just nobody forget about the spitting.”


That night, Angelus opened Wesley’s eyes and smiled an ugly smile with Wesley’s mouth. Idiots, he thought. What did they think he’d been doing when he dashed into the woods during their ritual, taking a piss? He grinned in satisfaction. He could always count on Dru to do for her Daddy.

He started punching his way out of his grave and next to him, felt Illyria begin to the same. He grinned again. You can’t kill a hell goddess with a rifle, no matter how human she looks at the time. The irony wasn’t lost on him. Wesley and Fred would be together forever; just not in the manner they’d intended.

He planned. They would smooth over the graves, find Dru, and lay low for a while. Contact the senior partners. Get an army together, other resources.

And then, perhaps, a trip to L.A. would be in order. Pay a visit to Connor.

Angelus felt what was left of Wesley screaming with rage deep inside him, and he laughed.

Angelus was back.

And this time he was very, very bad.



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