DL 1.13

Aug. 13th, 2005 01:36 am
[identity profile] eee1313.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dancing_lessons_archive
Lesson the Thirteenth: On the Run

by alkibiadhs
Free by VAST

My Way by The Sex Pistols


A big shout out to all of redemptionistaville for being patient while I got my life in order. It caused some disruption on this end, and I was sorry to make people wait. Another shout out to Joss Whedon for his wonderful Buffy closer, even though we all know she's not really dead.


*
"They're not leaving," Anya grumped, peering out her window.

It was true. The Knights of Byzantium, in spite of the energy barrier and the guns, were laying siege to Giles' home.

"Okay," Buffy said, turning to the tattooed man on her left. "How do we make them go away?"

"The warriors of Byzantium are proud warriors, and adept in the mystic arts. They will bring your mage's shield down, given enough time," He replied. His name, it turned out, was Gabriel. He claimed to be a Commander.

Tara nodded. "He's right. I can feel it weakening."

"They've got two guys in brown robes out front chanting. Willow, you can't set them on fire or anything, can you?" Anya asked.

"Sorry," Willow told her. "Aside from that being grotesquely cruel, I can't get any magic through my own barrier."

"IRONY!" Xander shouted. He looked overjoyed for a moment, then noticed a light switch and became sullen.

"Indeed," Giles replied. He took a large assault rifle from Spike's duffel bag and began loading a clip into it. "Anyone for fighting our way out? There are about twenty of us now, and we have superior armaments."

"The Knights of Byzantium do not use the weapons of the Beast," Gabriel told him.

"Pardon me?"

"The advent of what you would call technology has heralded two world wars, environmental ruin, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Ask yourself--who do your toys truly serve? You, or the Beast?"

Giles sighed. "We are in a life or death situation and we have a tactical advantage. I suggest we use it."

"It will not happen." The eight or so knights behind Gabriel made various grunting noises of agreement.

"You," Buffy said to Giles. "We are not going to fight our way out because the Knights of Byzantium aren't bad guys and we're not going to kill them unless we have to. Gabriel, if I tell you to use a gun you will use a gun. We don't have time for religious niceties right now."

The Slayer turned and looked at the witches.

"We need to sneak out of here," Buffy stated. "Can you make us invisible?"

"Not without making us all blind," Willow told her, apologetic.

"Well that's out," Anya said. "I blinded a lot of people in my time, and let me tell you, they didn't look happy."

"Dark! Dark! The time is coming!" Xander shouted, causing his girlfriend to wince. His eyes shone with an undiscernible intensity which passed as quickly as it had come. "Cookie?" He asked.

"Later, honey," Anya told him.

"What is wrong with the boy?" asked a knight.

"Glory," Buffy replied.

"Ah yes, the weakness of the Beast."

"Weakness?"

"And her strength," Gabriel explained. "Glory steals the sanity, the essence of her victims. It is this act which allows her human form its strength and speed, even her own sanity. Without feeding, she would be weak."

Giles looked interested. "How weak, exactly?"

Gabriel shrugged. "Who can say? Glory is a God. Even without the essences she's stolen from her victims, she would be formidable, difficult to kill. But it could be done."

"Well what about magic?" Willow asked. "I mean, if I could get all that power out of her, Buffy could beat her, right?"

Gabriel nodded. "I have heard rumors of such a ploy being tried before."

"And?"

"The Beast remains. Those who opposed her do not."

"Ah."

"We're running out of time," Tara told them. "The barrier is getting pretty weak."

"Any ideas?" Buffy asked, then looked at Giles briefly and added "Other than violence?"

Willow raised her hand. "I have a really bad one."

***

Spike was feeling better than he had in a long time.

There had been something in his conversation with Joyce. Something that made this all okay. It was strange--he didn't want to die, of course, but some part of him believed that maybe dying to save the universe, not to mention the Summers girls, might go a little ways towards washing some of the blood off his hands. That was a good thought. And there was something else. For maybe the first time since he'd been neutered by the initiative, Spike was completely sure of his course. That was good, too.

Time to get started, then, he thought. Not like Dawn's likely to show up in a bloody graveyard anytime soon.

At that moment, a flash of light sent the vampire ducking for cover, some part of his demon soul fearing that the sun had risen in the middle of the night just to thwart him. The light, however, was fleeting, disappearing as quickly as it had come about. Nevertheless, enough light was left for Spike to see where it had come from.

Buffy!

The Vampire Slayer was standing in a large group of people, about half of whom were Scoobies. The rest were Ben's knights. Only that wasn't right, was it? Because the Knights weren't exactly working for Ben. Back at Buffy's house, it had become clear that they were willing to accept that "Lord Benignus" could be "wrong" and decide to ignore him. Which meant that one of these crazies was crazy like a fox. Spike felt his confidence of a moment earlier vanish, leaving the vampire with a simple question. What in the sodding hell is going on now?

Spike got closer, using the stalking skills he'd perfected as a predator to avoid being noticed. As it happened, his stealth was hardly necessary. Buffy's friends were about as alert as the corpses they were standing above. It continually amazed Spike how effective Buffy's friends could be given their complete incompetence at times.

"....she'll be okay, right?" Buffy asked, looking down. Willow was lying on the grass, unconscious. Blood soaked the underside of her mouth and nose.

"I wouldn't have let her do it if I thought it would be like this," Tara fretted. "There are just so many of us."

"She's breathing steadily," Giles put in, kneeling over the witch. "I believe she'll be fine."

Spike got it pretty quickly. Willow'd had to use a teleportation spell. Which meant that they were facing someone which the whole lot of them couldn't defeat, even using the weapons which Spike had so generously provided.

Who? Glory? Ben, maybe? The Knights? But the Knights are right there!

"All right. We need to move her," Buffy was saying.

"I thought you didn't want to go to the crypt," Anya said. "I know I don't."

"I don't. But it's the most defensible location I know of, and it has a sewer access we can use to run if we need to."

"A wise choice then," said one of the Knights. He motioned to two of his compatriots, who lifted Willow and moved to follow the Slayer.

Spike watched them go, considering. It was clear that however much he'd been willing to trust Ben, he could no longer afford to do so. It was possible that Ben wanted Spike to help him stop Glory. But it was beginning to look equally possible that Ben had simply sent him out to fetch Dawn's blood for some other, less savory purpose. Buffy seemed to trust the knights he'd seen her with, but on the other hand, she'd looked desperate, and the knights were religious loonies, and the only ones he'd ever spoken to had seemed very sure that the Key had to be destroyed. Spike trusted them about as far as he could throw them--with the chip.

So that left what, exactly? Buffy Spike could trust, but he couldn't ask her for an explanation without being turned into ash. Spike trusted Glory, too--she was evil, and if Buffy tried to skip town, she'd start killing people--or would she? Ben had given him a day to become the Key and come back. It must be getting pretty close to the wire, then, Spike reasoned. Glory might not have time to chase after anybody at this point.

If I leave Dawn with those knights, they're eventually going to say that killing her is the only solution, and if Buffy can't stop them, they will. If I take her to Ben, he'll kill her, or me, and it isn't as though he's got a hell of a lot of credibility right now. Glory wants to use her, Buffy wants to protect her...bloody hell!

Spike had a headache. He was very nearly at the point of going down to his crypt and hoping Buffy could restrain herself long enough for him to work things out better when the perfect solution struck him. It was stupid and dangerous, but that, Spike felt, was a perfectly adequate description of the present situation in any case. And this, at the very least, would be fun.

***

"Dark!" Xander observed.

"Light!" Tara countered, and a tiny ball of light illuminated the tomb.

"All right," said Giles. "We're relatively safe for the time being. But we're going to need a plan."

"I thought Willow's idea sounded pretty good," Dawn said. "But I guess we kinda need Willow for that, huh?"

"I'd know the spell if I saw it, Dawnie," Tara told her, "But I'm just not powerful enough."

"So we need some research," Buffy said. "Can we get Tara to the magic shop?"

"No," Gabriel replied.

"No? Why not?"

"I mean, it would be fruitless. The spell you seek is in our possession."

"Then get it."

"I would need your mage," the Knight replied. "I have no knowledge of magic myself."

"Tara?" Buffy asked.

"Of course I'll go. Take care of Willow."

Buffy nodded.

Gabriel opened the crypt door and followed Tara out into the night.

***

Dear Buffy-

I'm really sorry about this. I don't mean to upset you any more than I know you already are, but this whole situation has gotten way out of hand. Tonight, Ben told me there was a way to give my life to save yours and Dawn's, and I was going to do it, I really was, except I really don't think we can trust Ben at all. Aside from being a poofter, he's a hell-goddess half the time, and he's probably responsible for these idiot knights, who I really don't think you ought to be hanging around with. Anyway, I'm sure this hasn't made you much happier with me, but think of it like this--you can stop worrying about Dawn and just wipe out Glory. I'm sure you'll find a way. You're a hero. It's what you do. In the meantime, I'll keep your sister away from all these lunatics trying to kill her.

That's all,

Spike

P.S. I love you.

P.P.S. I promise I'll get out of your life after this, if that's what you really want.

P.P.P.S. I stopped them burning your house down. You're welcome.

It was not, on the whole, the most romantic letter ever written. On the other hand, Spike had to admit that it would probably go over better than most of his poems had. At the very least, it was unlikely to make Buffy laugh at him.

Spike folded the note carefully, tied it to a rock, and made his way into the sewer grate.

***

Willow woke up about an hour after Tara left.

"How are you feeling?" Dawn asked her.

"Pretty much okay, other than the searing pain. Oh! And I think there's a marching band in my head. That's pretty neat."

"You really think you can do this spell?"

"If Tara can find it, I can. From what it sounds like, it could be what we need to help Xander."

"Dawn," Buffy said, putting a hand on her younger sister's shoulder, "You should let Willow rest, okay?"

"It's all right," Willow said. "I'm in too much pain to sleep, anyway."

"It was a really amazing spell," Anya told her. "I didn't think anyone could teleport that many people."

"Well," the witch replied, "I can tell you why nobody would want to."

A crashing sound caused everyone to look in the direction of Giles, who had just finished smashing a piece of tomb against the wall. "I'm sorry," he said. "Just relieving a bit of anxiety."

"I thought Watchers were supposed to be the voice of reason," Buffy said.

"Yes, well, typically, knights in armor don't attack their homes during their attempts to avert the apocalypse."

"Big week for that, it turns out," Buffy replied, smiling ruefully.

Dawn screamed and vanished.

Buffy whirled. "Dawn!" she called, looking in the place where her sister had last been standing. There was nothing there but Spike's rug...which he used to conceal the access to the lower half of his crypt. Spike. Dammit, what the hell are you doing? The Slayer flung the carpet aside, lifted the hatch, and jumped down into the cave below in time to see Spike exit the tomb by way of the sewer access. He was carrying Dawn and running as fast as he could. It won't be fast enough. Not if he's carrying someone. Especially if it's my sister.

As she braced herself to pursue, something came flying at her head. She caught the rock with Spike's note wrapped around it, and was about to discard it when an explosion sent the cave walls around the sewer access tumbling down, blocking it. There was nothing she could do to follow him.

Spike had kidnapped Dawn from right under her nose.

***

"You do realize that you've completely lost it, right?"

"Look, pet, when you're older, you'll understand. And stop stealing my fries, you little delinquent."

Spike was actually feeling pretty good about his plan. He'd stolen a car--a Porsche, in fact--and put a good hundred miles between Sunnydale and Dawn, which he felt had to be a good thing.

"Hey, I know you think you're all hip vampire with the coat and the hair and everything, but Led Zeppelin is over, okay?"

"And the sodding Backstreet Boys are the wave of the future, are they?"

"Duh! Look at the record sales."

"First of all, they're still being outsold by the Beatles. And second, it's my car, so I pick the station."

"Okay, first, that's the Beatles. They're always cool. And second, you stole this car."

"Which makes it mine."

"Does not."

"Does too."

"Does not."

"You know, we vampires have a word for the kind of person who would join one of those boy bands you're so keen on. You know what that is?"

"Lunch?"

"Clever girl."

"Glory'll come after us, you know."

Spike nodded. "Maybe. But she'll have to find us. And that won't be as easy as all that. Especially considering we'll be a few hundred miles away in a different bloody state by the time she even knows we're gone."

"But she will find us. She's a god, Spike. We can't run forever." Dawn's expression had lost its former playfulness.

"You know what, nibblet?" the vampire replied. "She calls herself a god. It's written that she is one. But I've met her, and you know what I see? I see just another big, tough baddie for your sister to put in traction. And she will. The only danger is you gettin' caught up in the crossfire. And now that's no longer an issue. Didn't you already tell me that they're working on a way to beat her right now?"

"Yeah."

"Well there, you see?"

"I'm still not sure this is a good idea."

"That's the beauty of it. You don't have to be sure. I have to be sure. And I am." He paused. "Look, think about it this way: are you in any more danger now than you were before?"

"I guess not," Dawn replied, doubtful.

"Then it can't be all that bad, now can it?"

Dawn chewed thoughtfully on her Big Mac. "You really think Buffy can take her?"

"Without a doubt."

Dawn smiled, and the two of them continued down the road at well over the speed limit, still arguing about music, french fry ownership, and the particulars of Armageddon.

They were already being pursued.

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