You are the Slayer. You killed Lothos when you were barely fifteen years old. You burned down your school gym. You killed the Master when you were sixteen. You stabbed your boyfriend with his own sword and sent him to hell when you were seventeen. You survived months on the streets of LA on your own. You blew up a giant snake and destroyed an entire highschool. You’ve stopped four apocalypses in your life. And now, happy birthday. You’re about to destroy a secret government operation that’s experimenting on anything that’s slightly not human. And you haven’t even hit the two decade mark. You can do this, Buffy.
And then you can go home.
She kicked and punched. Dodged. Rolled. Countered. And the demons just kept on coming. But so did she. For every hit one of them landed, she got in at least three of her own. And damn, did it feel good to hit something. To have a target for her frustrations and anger. Even if they weren’t the ones she wanted to be hitting. They wanted her dead, and that was reason enough.
This was what she was born to do. It was her calling. Her art. It was what she did day in, day out, never any rest until something killed her. She was the Slayer. The last many weeks, cooped up in that tiny cell? She’d been missing something that was core to who she was. And this was it. The fight. The kill. The exhilaration and fear and excitement that came with it. The unknown. Was this the thing that finally did her in? Was this her last fight? Her last stand?
The adrenaline coursed through her veins, lighting her senses on fire. The demon tinglies ran down her spine, over her skin, leaving goosebumps in their wake. And mingling in there amongst them, was Spike. Fighting right alongside her, instead of against her. She didn’t want to think about him though. Or what the future held for them. What it didn’t hold. He was right. Focus on the fight, worry about other things later.
She didn’t have time to think about budding feelings, or what they meant. No considering what came after their escape. No thinking about why she’d been so afraid to lose him, or why she was as attached to him as she was. Or how it had come about. How she didn’t want to kill him. How much she really wanted to be able to believe the things he’d said to her, about being able to change. She couldn’t think about any of it.
Because at that moment, she was in a fight for her life, and for his. Their freedom. And even though they were holding their own, it only took one demon to change that. One demon to sneak under her defenses, get in one good hit. One blow to knock her off balance. In an instant, she could be vulnerable to a strike that would end her, and there wasn’t a damn thing anybody would be able to do to save her from that fate. She had to be on her game, and that meant pushing everything else aside and letting herself act on instinct.
So that was exactly what she did. But no matter how many she knocked down, or how many bones she’d broken, they just. Kept. Coming. And she was starting to get tired. She could feel her reflexes starting to slow by a fraction of a second. Her muscles ached, just a tiny bit. Just enough that she wasn’t using her full force anymore.
Walsh was still watching from the balcony, stoic as ever. And Buffy knew that she needed to get up there to bring this fight to an end.
But surrounded like she was, it wasn’t exactly an easy thing to do. Every time she thought she had an opening to make a running leap for it, another demon got in her way. A very annoying roadblock. I’ll throw you if I have to. Spike’s words came back to her. He’d known it wasn’t going to be an easy fight for them. But if Walsh had some way of controlling the demons, or stopping them in their tracks, it would be up there – well within her reach.
She called to him as she threw a snap kick at another demon and sent it flying into two others, knocking them over like bowling pins. He was next to her in an instant, abandoning his own fights to help her. Again. He’d dragged another demon with him and threw it into the crowd in front of them, making a slightly bigger path.
“I’m here, Slayer.” She glanced up at Walsh, then back at the demons in front of her. And Spike needed no explanation. “Whenever you’re ready.”
They stood shoulder to shoulder, his right to her left. That’s right, she remembered. He’s left handed. He wouldn’t be getting in her way, and she wouldn’t be in his. A perfect fighting pair, really. And she couldn’t think of another person she’d rather have by her side at that moment. She gave him a subtle nod, and he sprang into action.
With a low snarl, Spike grabbed the nearest demon by the face, fingers digging through flesh to crunch into bone. He pulled it closer, then used his other hand to punch it to the ground. Buffy moved, positioning her back against his as she kicked into the mass of demons trying to get at her.
She knocked two of them back before a pained groan came from behind her. Spike doubled over, and she dared a glance back. A massive demon with claws stood in front of him, arm raised to deliver a brutal blow. It was a split second decision. She rolled across Spike’s back, landing in front of his opponent and snapping a savage kick into its chin.
Spike recovered quickly, striking out with a mule kick right at the demon she’d been fighting. He turned, back to back with the Slayer once more, and punched into the crowd. She couldn’t see him directly, but quick flashes from the corners of her eyes and her situational awareness gave her a solid idea of what he was doing.
“Spinning!” she called out, her only warning before darting forward and breaking into a spin kick.
Spike ducked, keeping out of her way and doing a leg sweep on the demons she hadn’t knocked back. She realized… They were so good at fighting together. Using the other’s momentum to make moves of their own. She barely had to think about where he was, they were so in tune. And he must’ve noticed it, too.
“Incoming!” he shouted, bounding forward and grabbing her hands. “Ice skater spin!”
He spun her, her legs lifting up off the ground to lash out at the horde, giving them a bit of breathing space. For a moment, she forgot about the desperate situation they were in, letting herself revel in the feel of it. It was like flying, sweeping through the air, free while her body sang in pleasure from the use of her full slayer abilities.
They were making real progress now.
Spike rolled ahead of her, one boot striking out and connecting with the knee of a demon. Even above all the snarls and carnage, she could hear the crunch of bone breaking.
She kept close to him, throwing flurries of kicks and punches at the enemies he didn’t take out. The demons had started backing away, finally giving them some berth. It made it far easier to go one on one, deal real damage, and move on to the next.
Left kick, right kick, parry, jab, jab, round house.
She sent one flying just as Spike tapped her left shoulder. She turned in time to duck an incoming blow from a big ugly thing with way too many phallic horns.
She was side to side with Spike again, squaring up. The demon lunged for her, and she ducked again, getting behind it and kicking it in the lower back. It stumbled, just enough for Spike to get his hands on it and break its neck.
Finally. They’d made their way to the wall. Spike positioned himself in the corner, hunched down with his fingers intertwined. A foot hold. She gave him a nod, got a running start, and landed perfectly on his hands. She surged upward an instant later, leaving the fight behind.
Her fingers gripped the edge of the balcony, and she held on desperately, forcing herself to get a better grip on it before swinging one leg up. She took a moment to glance down at Spike. He had his back in the corner, and he was holding his own. For now. She had to move fast. She hauled herself up the rest of the way, sliding her body beneath the railing and pushing herself up onto her feet.
The unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked came from behind, and her blood ran cold. She turned to face Walsh, who held a gun at her hip. Buffy was determined that whatever happened next… She wasn’t going down without a fight. After everything she’d been through, so close to finally being free, and now the evil bitch wanted to end it with a bullet.
“Forty-Nine. I was so hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I’ve spent so much time trying to figure you out. How to get you to see the light, to come to our side.”
“Did you try not kidnapping me? Or maybe, I don’t know, not torturing me? Showing some kind of basic human kindness?”
“We acted on the information we had. You must understand that.” She took a step toward Buffy, the gun still raised at her side.
“No, I really don’t. You guys just- You think every single thing that isn’t human is evil. You don’t bother gathering any information on them. You just throw them in a cell, do experiments, and call it good.”
“We’re working to protect humans. Is that not right to you?”
Buffy gave her a confused look. Walsh couldn’t really believe the words she’d said, could she? “You think what you’re doing is right? No. It isn’t. You see a demon trying to eat somebody, you kill it. You see a vamp out on the prowl, you kill it. You don’t… bring it back to your bunker and cut it open and see what makes it tick. You just…”
“You don’t understand scientific progress. I wouldn’t expect you to. The work that we’re doing here… It’s vitally important. It saves lives.”
“This isn’t science. This is sadism. How many have you captured or killed since I’ve been in here? A dozen? I take out ten or more a night. Every night. Tell me about the lives you’ve saved.”
Buffy took slow calculated steps, trying to work her way toward Walsh without her noticing. She’d managed to close just a few feet of distance. Not nearly enough
“You know, before you guys caught me? I was on patrol. Out doing my nightly sweep of the town. Did you guys… Finish it? Or did you just drag me down here and call it a night? Do you even bother to do patrols? Check the local papers every morning for vamp related deaths so you can sit on their graves until they rise?”
“Regardless… There’s really no choice left. I’d prefer you alive, of course, but… You would never agree to cooperate. With Adam gone…”
“I don’t care about your science. I don’t care about this bullshit operation you guys have going on here.” I don’t care about that gun in your hand either, you hateful bitch. “You’re a monster, Walsh. And I’m a Slayer. And I’m gonna do what I was born to do.”
Walsh raised the gun just a fraction, just as Buffy made a leaping roll toward her. Then the world dropped into darkness, before fire spread through her abdomen.
He was on his own now. He could only hope the Slayer was able to do whatever it was she had planned up there with the evil bitch that had had them locked up together for so long. He didn’t have time to focus on how well she was doing. He was backed into the corner, with the entirety of what was left of the demons all coming for him. Little buggers didn’t know when to bow down to a master vampire and admit defeat. For that matter, they didn’t know when it was smarter to run from a slayer rather than try to fight one.
He was holding his own just fine, for the most part. As long as he didn’t get overwhelmed by them, he’d be alright. Sure, they’d got a few good hits in here and there, but… He still had plenty of fight left in him. Really, what was a few hundred sodding demons? He could take them out in his… sleep. Sleep suddenly seemed fan-bloody-tastic, and he was more aware of the ache in his muscles. He could keep going. He could, but….
Come on, Slayer. Haven’t got all bloody-
His night vision kicked in the moment the lights went out, and the horde stopped for a moment in confusion. He thought he’d get a chance to take a breath, recoup maybe, then he heard it. That unmistakable sound. A gunshot. Just one. Then his nose was filled with the scent of Slayer blood. If his heart could have dropped, it would have fallen right out his arse. He had one thought then; he needed to get to her, no matter what it took.
Grabbing the demon closest to him by the horns, he whipped it around, slamming it into the confused masses. They grunted and growled in pain, some of them falling back. He rammed its head into the wall, effectively knocking it unconscious. He let it fall to the ground in the corner before turning back to the crowd. He picked off a few of the smaller ones easily, knocking heads together and snapping necks in a matter of moments. He tossed their bodies on top of the horned demon, making himself a nice little launching pad. He made a desperate running jump up the wall, his boots connecting with the concrete and gripping just enough for him to get his fingers onto the ledge. The scent of her blood was stronger up there, and his stomach flipped.
He pulled himself up, enough to see over.
Oh, God no…
Walsh stood over his slayer, gun still pointed in the darkness, though it was clear she couldn’t see a damn thing. His vision went red.
The next thing he knew, he was up on the balcony, with his teeth in Walsh’s throat. Hot blood, spiced with fear and resentment, poured down his chin. She choked and gurgled and struggled in vain in his arms. Three loud pops rang out in his head, and pain spread through his chest like wildfire, but he didn’t care. She was dying, now, for what she’d done to Buffy. He let her body fall from his arms, and it hit the floor with a very satisfying thump.
There was something very final about the sound.
His attention turned to Buffy. His Slayer. He knelt at her side and gathered her up against his chest, cradling her. As something precious. Something he was now losing. Something he’d probably never find again as long as he walked the earth.
He was losing a future. One that involved her, and everything that came with. He’d never get to agonize over gifts, or how to give them to her. The intricacy of wrapping them so they looked remotely presentable. He’d never get to sit up late at night with her and clean and sharpen weapons. Never get to take on a big bad at her side. There’d be no oddly shaped pancakes on Sunday mornings. This would be the last time he felt her warmth against him.
And God, it broke his heart to even think about it.
The next time he had hot cocoa with Joyce… He’d be telling her about how he’d failed to save her daughter. How he wished it had been him. How the world was dimmer, without Buffy in it.
Tears poured from his eyes, and his body shook with the sobs.
“I’m so sorry, pet…”
She turned her head, just enough that her lips could brush against his, and it was almost more than he could take. He felt like he’d fall apart, disintegrate into dust.
“I… I want to go… Home…” She whispered weakly, before letting out a shaky breath.
He could do that. Get her home to Joyce. Even if she didn’t make it all the way there, Joyce deserved to be able to bury her baby girl. She deserved a funeral.
“Sure thing, sweetheart. Get you home to your mum,” he sniffled, trying to hold back more tears. “Get you patched up.”
There was a sudden sound, and a familiar voice growling at him to get away from her.
Spike looked up, his eyes meeting the watcher’s accusatory look. Something… off with the man. A wildness he’d never seen there before, not even when Angel had held him captive.
“Please, help her,” he said simply, hoping that would be enough for suspicions to be set aside for the time being. “She’s… She’s been shot, watcher. We need to get her-“
Giles dropped to his knees in front of Spike and pulled a cloth from his pocket. “I’m here, Buffy. Here, let’s- we need to get pressure on it.” He pushed on her abdomen, and she cried out in pain. “Spike, can you carry her out of here?”
Spike gave a nod. He’d carry her through the fires of hell if it meant she’d make it. The pain from his own injuries was shoved to the back of his mind as he adjusted his hold on her and rose to his feet.
“Good. We need to move quickly. There’s not much time.”
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