Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.The Hellmouth - Sunnydale - May 2003
‘You've got to wonder’ Wesley began, looking down into the cavern below, ‘how many of the bloody things were down here before
Illyria blew this place all to hell?’ he asked in wonderment staring at the teeming mass of Turok-Han before him.
Buffy shrugged. ‘You should have seen it in the vision the Shadow Guy gave me’ she replied. ‘Trust me, this is nothing’ she told him. ‘It didn’t look so black and charred before either’ she noted. ‘Those thermy-barry bombs really did a number down here.’
‘Thermobaric’ Wesley corrected her.
‘Like it matters’ Buffy responded. ‘Can’t see why they’re not attacking though. I thought we’d be more rushed’ she said, turning her head to see equipment being passed along back from the seal entrance. Some of the girls were already opening wooden crates whilst others were starting to assemble their new weapons.
‘They’re waiting for me to give the word’ her doppelganger replied, walking towards them nonchalantly, its hands behind her back.
‘Hey it’s The First’ Buffy announced. ‘If you’ve decided to taunt me some more, or maybe make threats you can’t possibly back up, feel free’ she encouraged it. ‘It would lighten the mood to have some comic relief’ she told the incorporeal figure in the most scornful and dismissive tone she could muster.
The First looked around. ‘Nice trick with the Portal’ it remarked. ‘Got to admit, didn’t see that one coming’ it told her. ‘Where is that blue bitch anyway?’ it asked, looking around for Illyria.
‘We gave her the morning off’ Buffy replied. ‘No need to trouble her for the minor stuff.’
The First snorted. ‘You’ve done a hell of a lot better than I thought you would’ it conceded, ‘but I’ve still got better than a hundred of my boys for each one of your girls down here. Why throw their lives away?’ it asked the slayer.
‘You know B’ Faith interrupted. ‘If Firsty here was really
that confident it wouldn’t be up here feeding us this line of bullshit’ she opined.
Buffy nodded her agreement. ‘Yeah, that’s pretty much what I was thinking too’ she concurred. ‘We’ve got you running scared’ she told the First. ‘You don’t like the new rules of the game because you’re not the one writing them, and even worse you’ve got no idea what we’re going to do next right?’ she asked rhetorically before turning to address the line of slayers forming up behind her. ‘The big bad here is feeling insecure’ she mocked, ‘it’s all “I’m the invincible source of all evil” when it’s winning but kick its ass enough and it gets all whiney and starts backing out of the fight’ she declared before turning back to the First itself with a stony expression on her face. ‘Listen up you egotistical, delusional, arrogant prick’ she said to it coldly. ‘You started this war, you slaughtered our people, you tried to kill every single one of us, but you’re going to lose and we all know that for a fact’ she stated with conviction. ‘And I’d bet my perfectly toned ass that you think so too’ she added, ‘which is just the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned’ she said.
The First snarled. ‘I can still bring most of you down with me’ it insisted.
‘No, you can’t even do that’ Buffy replied, shaking her head. ‘Okay that’s enough talk, that’s your style not mine’ she told it. ‘Let’s have some action’ she said with a wink, turning and giving Wesley the nod.
‘Front rank kneel and prepare to fire’ Wesley bellowed. A dozen slayers with a mix of shotguns and crossbows dropped to one knee and aimed down into the pit.
Buffy turned to Faith. ‘As Giles put it let’s go “classical” on their ass’ she instructed her.
‘Second and third ranks’ Faith called out.
Lined up behind the first rank the next line of slayers lowered a line of pikes between the gaps in the first rank and behind them another line did likewise, presenting a solid double wall of twelve foot long spears, each one was a thick steel tube with a sharpened wooden stake on one end and they had to be lowered down the seal in two sections and screwed together. The pikes cut down mobility far too much to use normally but when all you wanted to do was hold a line they were perfect, meanwhile anchoring the line at one end, with the best angle to shoot into the cavern, were Xander, Gunn and Wesley who took aim and prepared to fire into the mob below, they could each launch grenades hundreds of yards with fair accuracy and it wasn’t as if they were short of targets.
‘You’re old enough to know what a phalanx is’ Faith said to the First, ‘Giles had to tell me’ she admitted. ‘Let’s see your ugly friends down there get through that’ she challenged, indicating the pikes. Turok-Han were strong but slayers were stronger and couldn’t be easily pushed back. They were also up on a ledge so the uber-vamps couldn’t form up in mass and force the line by weight of numbers either.
‘I suppose you like “Sympathy for the Devil” more when it comes to the Rolling Stones’ Buffy said to the First, ‘but I think “Time is on my side” is more appropriate here’ she suggested before turning to Spike. ‘Getting anything from the Amulet yet?’ she asked.
‘Not yet Love’ Spike replied. ‘This thing makes me look like Elizabeth Taylor’ he remarked to Angel, as he played with the Amulet hanging around his neck.
Angel agreed with Spike's sentiment, the thing was gaudy in the extreme. ‘Good thing Richard Burton’s not around any more then’ he replied. ‘I went to one of their weddings’ he told him.
‘Really?’ Spike replied, raising his eyebrows.
‘I was drunk so they assumed I was with the groom and sat me down on his side of the chapel’ Angel explained.
‘No hurry Spike’ Buffy announced. ‘Kennedy, you ready there’ she checked.
‘We’re ready’ Kennedy replied.
‘Then burn them’ Buffy ordered, a vindictive smile forming on her face.
Kennedy lit the cloth wick on the Molotov Cocktail in her hands and threw it over the top of the lines of slayers into the pit, the other three girls with her doing likewise. The primitive firebombs exploded into in sheets of flame below, setting groups of uber-vamps alight as the girls each picked up another firebomb from the crates next to them.
The Turok-Han below howled in pain and fury.
Buffy looked to Xander, Gunn and Wesley. ‘Blow ‘em back to hell boys’ she ordered.
‘’Yes Ma’am’ Gunn replied and aiming for a cluster of Turok-Han below he fired his grenade launcher into the mob, as simultaneously did Wesley and Xander. The latter had to reload his single shot under-barrel launcher immediately but the former pair just re-aimed and fired again. There were so many down there you couldn’t help but hit something and the grenades blew Turok-Han, and pieces
of Turok-Han, in all directions.
‘Here they come’ Vi called out, taking aim with her assault rifle.
‘Fire at will’ Buffy ordered. ‘See you in hell’ she told the First. ‘I’ll be the smug one looking down from heaven in about seventy or eighty years I’d think’ she told it with a smirk just before it disappeared in a flash of light.
‘Just one thing there B’ Faith said, drawing her sword. ‘If you think that ass is perfectly
toned then the First ain’t the only delusional one down here’ she told Buffy who pouted in response.
Kennedy threw another Molotov-Cocktail into the onrushing horde. ‘I was right you do throw like a girl’ Connor told her and hurled the first of his white-phosphorus incendiary grenades off into the distance, dropping it amongst the closest packed group he could reach. The guys with the launchers were using their extra range to engage the most distant targets leaving the closer groups for thrown weapons, not that Connor couldn’t throw a ridiculous distance because he could, easily throwing the things out to a hundred yards or more with pinpoint accuracy.
Vi opened up with her rifle, putting short bursts into the leading Turok-Han aiming for their torso, or “centre-mass” as Wesley called it. This not only made it difficult to miss but it also meant that those bullets that punched right through and out the back, and most did, ended up going through the Turok-Han directly behind them too. The G36K was sighted out to eight-hundred metres, and had a muzzle-velocity of over nine-hundred metres a second in order to get out there, so at this near point-blank range its supersonic ammunition wasn’t going to be stopped by something as insubstantial as the thick armoured chest plate of a Turok-Han. Any bone hit did do a nice job of splintering when it was struck though, further increasing the physical damage caused as the bullets ploughed through the opposition.
The first line let the vampires get within twenty-five yards then started firing themselves. Those with crossbows aimed carefully for the heart, but those with shotguns simply blazed away, firing volley after volley of buckshot that tore ragged holes in the Turok-Han, the wounds getting ever more horrific as they closed on the line. The lead vampires fell due to horrendous damage, or were dusted by crossbow bolts, but those behind them kept coming, completely mindless of the danger.
The sound was deafening, explosions shook the cavern as the grenade-launchers continued to hurl explosives straight into the mass of Turok-Han, opening up huge holes in the throng, but nonetheless they still kept coming. Firebombs and incendiary-grenades rained down, setting the uber-vamps alight and started to fill the cavern below with thick white acrid smoke from the white-phosphorus but on they came regardless.
‘I think they’ve got more guts than we have Boyo’ Wesley joked in his best impression of a Welsh accent, reloading his grenade launcher.
Gunn saw one of his grenades hit a Turok-Han square in the chest and blowing it to pieces. ‘I think you’re right’ he replied as chunks of the vampires mid-section rained down over its peers. ‘That’s nasty’ he added with a grimace, watching other vampires tear at the pieces of flesh with their teeth.
‘No more Willie-Pete’ Connor yelled, switching to his supply of concussion grenades. They would blow groups of Turok-Han apart but simply weren’t as effective as the incendiaries, or even perhaps the napalm filled bottles some of the slayers were throwing. When it came to actually breaking up the uber-vamp ranks, bullets and bombs just didn’t scare or hurt a vampire the way fire could.
‘Get ready’ Buffy bellowed over the ruckus as the first vampires were about to hit the line. The lines of spears gripped more tightly as the Turok-Han simply impaled themselves onto the slayer lines, many exploding into dust and ash as the wooden tipped spears penetrated their chests due to their own momentum alone.
The pikes were long enough to hold the vampires clear and protect those on the front line who were alternately reloading or firing point blank into the creatures. At this pitiful range missing was almost impossible for crossbows and the slayers simply dusted one, reloaded their arbalest and took out another, doing so again and again as the vampires tried unsuccessfully to force the line. A few of the vampires tried to get around the slayers via clambering on walls or ceiling but Willow starting knocking them down with fireballs as fast as she could with Vi redirecting her rifle fire to the same purpose, Xander got into the act too having used up his small number of M203 grenades and he began to put bursts of fire from his M16A2 into those Turok-Han that were seeking to get around the other way.
A vampire leaped from a wall and landed behind the lines, before it could do anything Buffy effortlessly decapitated the creature with the scythe then moved to intercept another trying the same thing, she caught it mid flight, chopping it clean in half.
Angel took her side, broadsword in hand. ‘So do you come here often?’ he asked.
‘Twice now according to Illyria, the other time was worse apparently’ she replied. ‘Hold the line’ she implored the girls. ‘We just need to hold a bit longer’ she promised.
‘I’ll shoot the first one of you that runs in the back’ Wesley hollered at the slayers at the top of his lungs before firing his grenade launcher again, Gunn taking his turn at reloading.
‘Got to admit boss’ Faith observed. ‘His way’s a fuck-load more motivating’ she told Buffy.
‘They just don’t stop’ Amanda moaned, gripping her pike tightly. ‘Think he’d really
shoot us?’ she asked.
‘Hell yeah’ Rona replied honestly.
‘So do I’ Amanda responded glumly.
‘Spike is that thing on?’ Angel called to the other vampire who was still fiddling with the amulet.
‘No’ Spike called back. ‘No wait, I’m starting to feel something’ he announced.
‘What?’ Angel replied.
‘I’m starting to feel pissed-off at you yelling at me if this thing’s on’ Spike told him angrily.
Connor threw the last of his grenades then turned to reach for a firebomb only to find most of the crates already empty. ‘Shit’ he swore and pulled his sword from its scabbard. ‘I’ll leave the rest to you’ he told Kennedy and went to join the line.
‘That’s it’ Wesley told Gunn, slinging his empty grenade-launcher over his shoulder by its strap, they were too difficult to get, even with plenty of money available, to leave it down here he had decided.
‘I've got three rounds left’ Gunn told him.
‘Make them count’ Wes replied, patting him on the shoulder before Gunn took aim again.
Wesley pulled his dual Colt Automatics from their shoulder-holsters. ‘Alright then’ he yelled. ‘Let’s have ya’ he challenged and fired his first shot right into the face of the nearest Turok-Han, knocking it back from the pike it was impaled on.
More and more Turok-Han were trying to outflank the line, Willow found she couldn’t generate and launch fireballs fast enough to keep up but before they could swamp in Kennedy and the girls who had been throwing Molotovs moved up to plug the narrow gap at that point, slashing the vamps down before they could make any progress in turning the line.
Spike suddenly felt very strange, his skin started tingling, power flowing through him. ‘I think it’s on’ he yelled out.
‘Finally’ Angel said with relief. ‘I was this close to putting it on myself’ he said.
Wesley started walking along the line, firing past the heads of slayers into the Turok-Han with his pistols.
‘Please don’t fire that next to my…’ one requested before he pulled the trigger. ‘Shit I’m deaf’ she cried out, her ears ringing with the pistol report right by her ear. ‘Asshole’ she swore at him.
‘Pardon?’ Wesley replied. ‘Sorry I couldn’t quite hear that Lucy’ he continued, grinning as he lined up another shot with his other hand. ‘And for my next trick watch as I blow a vampires fangs through the back of its head’ he announced and pulled the trigger to do so.
‘There’s really something wrong with him’ Buffy told Angel. ‘Too much job satisfaction, it’s not healthy.’
Angel shrugged. ‘We could get him a shrink but they’d commit him’ he replied.
‘Oh come on he’s smart enough not to mention vampires and demons’ Buffy responded.
‘That’s not why they’d commit him’ Angel told herwith a wry smile. ‘Any time now Spike’ he said loudly.
‘Yeah, right’ Spike said as the power flowing through him started to rise sharply in intensity. ‘Oh bollocks’ he said doubling up in pain then inexplicably he suddenly felt fine again. ‘What the bloody hell’ he said in confusion. ‘It’s stopped working’ he announced.
‘What?’ Buffy responded in confusion.
‘It’s stopped bleeding well doing whatever it was doing’ Spike replied. ‘And it’s getting hot
’ he added.
‘Look!’ Xander cried out, pointing towards the centre of the cavern.
‘Portal’ Wesley responded, looking where Xander was pointing. ‘Someone’s opening a portal’ he said.
‘Illyria?’ Buffy queried. ‘I thought she needed Dawn to do that?’
‘It’s not her’ Willow told them. ‘It’s the Senior Partners’ she said. ‘I can feel their power flowing out from it’ she said. ‘They’re jamming the Amulet.’
‘They’re doing what
?’ Buffy responded.
‘We got the Amulet from Wolfram and Hart’ Angel reminded her. ‘It’s tied to them. They must have some power over it’ he theorised.
‘They don’t need to generate a portal big enough to send something through physically
’ Willow said. ‘Only big enough to project magical force, so they can keep it open longer despite the power needed to force one down here’ she said.
‘Shit’ Buffy swore. ‘What the hell are they doing?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘They don’t want the First to win either right?’ she directed the question to Angel who had far more experience than her at dealing with the machinations of the Wolf, Ram and Hart.
‘No, but they wouldn’t mind him killing off most of us
before he loses’ Angel replied. ‘Bastards’ he almost screamed up at the whirling vortex.
‘Can you close it Willow?’ Buffy asked, running across to the Witch.
‘I can’t do it’ Willow replied apologetically. ‘I can open ordinary portals, maybe even seal one if it’s not too strong, but I don’t know
enough about them to do something about power like that
’ she said, indicating the vortex.
‘Oh yeah we’re screwed’ one of the slayers moaned as she reloaded her shotgun. She was getting low on ammunition, most of the crossbows were already out and many of the girls on the front line were now reduced to firing their pistols. Emptying clips into the horde as fast as they could, slowing them not stopping them.
‘We can’t do this much longer B’ Faith told Buffy urgently. ‘I think we might need to bug out before we start leaving people behind’ she suggested.
‘And then what?’ Buffy asked in anger. ‘What the fuck do we do then?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘Let Illyria nuke this place?’
‘It would have been much simpler if you had’ a voice declared as a figure made its way down the spiral stone steps leading down from the seal. ‘As it is I
will close the portal’ it said.
Buffy span to face the newcomer. ‘Illyria, thank God’ she said with relief.
’ Illyria replied sardonically. ‘I am however weak’ she admitted. ‘I cannot close the portal from here I will need to get closer’ she said.
‘Closer?’ Xander responded, continuing to fire his rifle and not turning around. ‘I think you might find that difficult’ he told her, shooting the last few rounds of his magazine into what must have been better than five-hundred Turok-Han and those were just the ones directly in front of him.
‘I dunno’ Gunn responded, looking back at her ‘She looks like she means business’ he said.
Xander's rifle ran out of ammunition and he turned to look for a second as he reloaded.
Illyria stood there imperiously, she had cracks in her cheeks that seemed to be radiating a gentle blue light in places where they had not fully closed up, she was in her armour and ready for battle but that wasn’t what Gunn had meant. When Illyria reached the bottom of the steps she took a step into the clear and extended her arms outwards, leaning her head to the side half smiling.
Illyria revved up the twin chainsaws she was holding, one in each hand, gripping them as if they were swords. ‘I will be able to get close enough to the portal to close it before I am overwhelmed’ she said. ‘Spike should hopefully be able to clear my way back once it is sealed’ she continued. ‘I doubt I could fight my way through twice’ she told them honestly.
‘You said you were weak’ Buffy responded.
‘Too weak to alter the flow of time’ Illyria replied. ‘Not too weak to do battle’ she insisted.
Wesley looked at her with a concerned expression. ‘You could die’ he told her. ‘The odds are… well they’re ludicrous’ he said realistically.
‘Do you care Wesley?’ Illyria asked him.
I bloody care you dozy bint’ Wesley told her forcefully.
‘Then I shall have to make sure to return so you can prove it’ Illyria replied with a smile and with that she took a running jump over the heads of the slayers landing in a small clearing. For a split second she looked the nearest Turok-Han in the eyes and then with a savage grin she attacked, swinging her whining chainsaws around her as she simply hacked her way into the uber-vamps.
‘She enjoys the work too much too’ Faith noted. ‘They’re going to have really psychotic kids’ she decided.
‘What’s the chances they could have children?’ Buffy asked rhetorically, ‘I doubt Illyria's got the right plumbing in there’ she reasoned.
‘Yeah, because it’s not like a kid's ever been born to a couple where it’s impossible before or anything’ Faith replied, pointing to Angel then Connor.
Connor laughed. ‘Hey Dad if you give Wesley the same safe-sex speech you gave me try not to act so nervous’ he said. ‘Its difficult to take you seriously when you can’t make eye-contact’ he told him.
Wesley ignored them, he was watching as Illyria almost seemed to slice her way through the Turok-Han, limbs being thrown everywhere and vampires exploding into dust whenever she decapitated one with her chainsaws. She was simply magnificent, he thought, but she was so outnumbered, he would have gallantly rushed to her side but he wouldn’t have lasted a minute out there and he knew it.
‘You can kick my arse later Willow’ he said quietly and holstered his pistols. There was something he could
do from back here to help her.
Wesley took a steadying breath to help his focus and held out his hand palm upwards, mouthing the silent spell he had been using earlier. The fireball he generated grew quicker than the first of those he had used before, the magicks still flowed through him which was why his eyes had remained jet black since the fight above in the school.
Willow felt his aura change and turned just as he launched the fireball into the mob, aiming into the crowd near Illyria. ‘Wesley stop’ she called out.
‘Leave me be Willow’ Wesley replied, generating another fireball and launching it, the sphere of mystical energy bursting against a trio of Turok-Han who were attacking Illyria down in the cavern as she continued to hew her way through the vampires.
‘Wesley you could lose yourself’ Willow warned. ‘You’re not ready, you don’t know how to handle the power’ she told him.
‘I could lose her
’ Wesley retorted, launching another fireball, this time it was even easier and he felt the darkness starting to play across his mind. His expression turned feral as he fired yet again.
Willow considered stopping him but she didn’t have the right. It was his life, she wouldn’t have cursed her worst enemy with what Wesley was going to face afterwards, the magical withdrawl after using such dark magicks was horrible, but strangely she was going to let a friend do so.
‘Shouldn’t you stop him’ Buffy asked the witch.
‘His choice’ Willow replied sadly, continuing to generate fireballs of her own, more powerful and more rapidly than Wesley could manage despite his increasing strength. ‘If I have to break him later I will’ she said with regret at the prospect.
‘Christ’ Xander exclaimed, watching Illyria. ‘It’s like watching a live-action Taz Devil cartoon’ he continued in awe as the God-King slaughtered her way down through the cavern whirling her chainsaws around in a ballet of destruction. The pressure on the slayer lines started to lessen as more and more of the Turok-Han moved to attack Illyria instead and Willow was able to redirect her own fireballs to support Illyria’s brutal, butcher-like advance.
‘She’s nearly there’ Gunn called out having slung his grenade launcher and now standing ready with his battle-axe.
Illyria reached a point directly below the portal and dropping one of the chainsaws she held the Turok-Han off as best she could with the other while extending an arm upwards.
Even with the fireballs streaming down the horde soon overwhelmed her and she disappeared under a mass of Turok-Han, the last thing visible of the God-King her still upstretched arm.
‘No!’ Wesley howled as she disappeared. Lightning started to crackle around him as he started to summon all the power he could.
A fist shot out and knocked him unconscious before he could go any further. Kennedy looked down at him apologetically. ‘Sorry Wesley’ she told him. Willow had instructed her what to do telepathically.
‘Portal's closed’ Xander called out.
‘Big bad is back’ Spike bellowed as power started coursing through him again. Buffy span around to watch a column of blue energy form around him which suddenly shot upwards from his body and punched a hole through the rock above.
The energy kept going, right through the school overhead, shearing through floors and ceilings, instantly destroying or knocking aside anything it encountered on the way.
‘Holy shit’ Faith exclaimed as a radiant beam of yellow sunlight shone down and fell on Spike who somehow didn’t disintegrate as a result. Instead it seemed like he was redirecting and focusing the beam into several others which began to shine around the cavern like searchlights, exploding any Turok-Han they touched. The massed group in front of the slayers simply vaporised as the beams almost seemed to seek them out and played over them.
The cavern started to shake. ‘Earthquake’ Xander warned.
‘Everybody out’ Buffy ordered.
Angel ran over and quickly picked up Wesley’s unconscious body throwing it over his shoulder before heading for the exit. Meanwhile the slayers with pikes dropped them and started running as did all the rest of the girls as the beams played out everywhere making it safe to turn their backs on the beaten enemy.
The First Evil watched from the other side of the cavern with a grimace. ‘Screw this’ it said eventually, ‘I’m going to Cleveland’ it announced. ‘Sorry guys’ it told the Turok-Han and disappeared leaving them behind to be annihilated.
The slayers fled leaving Buffy, Willow, Faith and Xander the last ones left behind in the cavern. ‘Yup I still miss prison’ Faith remarked, looking around one last time before joining the retreat.
‘Your ass ain’t perfect either’ Buffy told her as she watched her run up the steps. ‘Okay you two get moving’ she told her friends. ‘See you up top.’
Willow took Buffy’s hand for a second before following behind Faith.
Xander turned to Spike. ‘I still don’t like you very much Spike’ he admitted, ‘but you’ve got balls and I respect
you’ he told him. ‘Just thought I’d let you know’ he said.
‘Care to guess how much your respect means to me?’ Spike asked him.
‘Bugger-all?’ Xander asked with a smile.
‘Maybe a bit more than that’ Spike replied. ‘Now piss off so I get my glory moment with the girl’ he told him.
As Xander followed Willow Buffy took Spikes hand gingerly, not knowing what the energy still flowing through him would feel like. ‘I always knew you could be a good man’ she told him, her eyes starting to tear up.
‘Good?’ Spike responded. ‘Sod that understatement. I’m a bloody hero
’ he declared with a grin, ‘and I want a statue somewhere’ he requested, ‘ just don’t let Angel have anything to do with designing it, he thinks he’s artistic but he's not.’
Buffy kissed him on the cheek. ‘White marble’ she promised. ‘See you in heaven’ she told him. ‘I think you’ll make it now’ she said.
‘Don’t think I deserve it love’ Spike told her, as ever-larger pieces of rock started to fall around them, the cavern now coming apart in earnest. ‘But it’s nice to think that you
do’ he told her. ‘Now get moving’ he said. ‘I want to see how it ends’ he declared, grinning defiantly at the universe.
As Buffy ran up the steps and leaped out of the seal to join the line sprinting to the outside, the sunlight streaming down finally started to effect Spike. He felt his flesh start to char and the pain was indescribable, perhaps this was enough penance for his sins, he hoped. Heaven always sounded nice, and maybe the girly wings were optional?
Spike disintegrated completely as the cavern started to collapse totally, taking the school with it first as the town began to crumble into the Earth.
The transport was waiting ready to go, two school buses loaded with medical supplies if needed. The slayers jumped aboard and the first bus was already on the way before Buffy arrived.
Angel had made the run covered by a blanket having passed Wesley to Vi who had offered to carry him, Angel was still sheltered underneath it at the back of the bus when Buffy got aboard and with Cordelia driving they set off as fast as they could, chasing the other bus out of town.
‘She wasn’t kidding about the town collapsing’ Xander said, running to the back of the bus and looking out the rear window, Buffy moving to to join him. ‘Cordelia if you can go any faster than this you really want to’ he told her with as much urgency as he could muster.
Cordelia muttered something obscene and ignored him. She already had the bus going as fast as she could.
It almost seemed like Sunnydale wasn't willing to let them go. The town collapsing into the sinkhole almost as fast as they could drive, almost but not quite, they kept ahead of it as the small California Town fell into the abyss.
‘Should have looted more’ Xander remarked regretfully. ‘No way would we have got caught’ he said.
‘When did you go criminal?’ Angel asked from underneath his blanket. ‘And what's going on out there?’ he wanted to know
‘Not criminal’ Xander replied, ‘practical’ he said. ‘And you’re better off not seeing’ he told him, strangely entranced by the sight of a building crumbling behind him and sliding as rubble into the hole.
‘How far do we have to go?’ Cordelia asked.
‘Just outside the city limits on the main road Illyria said’ Buffy replied.
‘Where's Illyria?’ Cordelia asked. ‘I didn't see her get on the other bus’ she said.
Buffy blinked. ‘She didn’t make it’ she explained.
‘Shit’ Cordelia swore. ‘Does Wesley know?’ she asked.
‘Pretty much the reason we had to knock him out’ Willow told her, joining Cordelia at the front of the bus.
‘We’ll have to deal with Glory and Ben now’ Angel said.
‘Faith is on the other bus with Ben and she's got the scythe if Glory appears’ Buffy told him.
‘Not a long term solution’ Angel responded.
‘I know’ Buffy replied. ‘But Ben's helping the wounded on the other bus right now’ she said. ‘When we stop at the city limits we’ll deal with it.’
‘I’ll kill him’ Angel said flatly. ‘You shouldn’t have to’ he said.
‘From under your blanket?’ Xander asked wryly. ‘I’ll do it Buff, assuming Giles doesn’t’ he offered. ‘No other choice’ he said sadly. Slayers shouldn’t be murderers he thought, that was a burden he could take for her.
Buffy sighed. ‘Whoever does it make it quick’ she said, looking out of the window for what seemed like a long time. Goodbye Sunnydale, she thought, goodbye innocence.
‘Nearly there’ Cordelia yelled out, breaking Buffy out of her trance.
The bus braked to a halt beside the other one which had already stopped just by the sign that welcomed people to Sunnydale. The passengers bailing out to join the others already standing there watching the town come apart.
‘They can’t bill us for that can they?’ one of the slayers asked.
‘I only signed to pay for an equipment belt’ Rona replied. ‘And I’m still wearing it’ she added, turning to Anya. ‘So I heard you were dead by now originally?’ she asked.
Anya nodded ‘So I was told’ she replied, looking out into the sink hole, the dust generated by the towns’ collapse finally starting to settle. ‘Thank you Illyria’ she yelled into the chasm.
‘I was dead too’ Molly said, a tear rolling down her cheek. ‘Thank you Illyria’ she called out as well.
‘Crazy Blue bitch’ Faith said, shaking her head.
‘Think she’s in heaven?’ Amanda asked.
‘Think Saint Peter’s got the guts to say she’s not on the list to her?’ Xander joked. ‘She’d kick the pearly gates down anyhow.’
‘Look out for badly bruised falling angels with bent halos’ Rona added. ‘See ya around Blue’ she yelled into the sink hole.
Wesley regained conciousness and found himself in the sunshine outside being leaned against the back of a bus. His jaw hurt like hell, the world looked very strange like he was wearing polarised sunglasses or something, and his head was woozy.
Reality caught up with him eventually and he howled before burying his face in his hands and starting to cry.
Buffy heard him and walking over sat next to him on the ground putting an arm around him.
Giles walked over to Gunn and had a quiet word in his ear. Gunn nodded and passed him something before positioning himself between Giles and the girls who were lined up looking into the pit.
Ben looked Giles in the eye. ‘Make it quick’ he requested. ‘You didn’t last time’ he added, turning around as the watcher put the nine-millimetre automatic he had borrowed from Gunn to the back of the mans head.
Someone’s radio crackled.
‘Whoever’s transmitting stop, because we’re all right here dumbass’ Faith said loudly.
Cordelia pulled on her headset. ‘I wasn’t transmitting I’m still receiving’ she said. ‘I forgot to turn it off’ she announced, her eyes starting to widen. ‘Illyria is on the radio and she sounds pissed
’ she announced. ‘Didn’t any of you jerks bother to check she was actually dead down there?’ she asked sarcastically.
Wesley raised his head open-mouthed. ‘She’s alive?’ he asked in amazement.
‘Yes and like I said she’s pissed’ Cordelia replied. ‘She’s walking out and says it would be nice if we waited for her this time’ she added.
‘How the fuck could anything live through that
’ Xander asked incredulously, pointing out into the collapsed, utterly demolished town.
‘Willpower’ Wesley replied smiling, looking up into the sky and feeling the sun on his face drying his tears, ‘pure unadulterated willpower’ he said, ‘and a really, really
hard head of course’ he added.
‘And you get to live’ Giles told Ben. ‘Enjoy the continuing slavery’ he added.
Ben turned back to him. ‘Thanks for adding the proviso’ he replied scornfully.
‘Long walk’ Kennedy noted looking into the hole. ‘If we’re waiting, and we’d better because if we don’t she’ll track us to the ends of the Earth to kick our asses, we could be here a while’ she pointed out.
‘I put a couple of cases of beer in the bus there, and some champagne too’ Gunn told everyone. ‘And no I didn’t loot it’ he continued. ‘I didn’t pay full market value but the store owner was motivated to sell quickly so I got a great discount’ he said. ‘ There's snacks too’ he announced.
‘And how many of these girls are old enough to drink?’ Buffy asked rhetorically.
‘Do you card?’ Rona asked Gunn, smiling winningly and fluttering her eyelashes at him.
‘Disgraceful encouraging young people to drink’ Robin Wood chided Gunn in his best Principals manner. ‘Before letting the grown-ups reserve themselves a few bottles anyway’ he added with a grin.
When Illyria eventually arrived, seething with rage, covered in dust and bleeding from several wounds she was even more annoyed to find the humans were getting themselves drunk. To her surprise however Wesley ran over, threw his arms around her and kissed her full on the lips which almost made up for it all as she kissed him back with more than a few cheers going on around them.
When the embrace broke Illyria threw something to Buffy who caught it. ‘I didn’t want a souvenir’ Buffy told her looking at the amulet.
‘No but I thought you might like Spike back’ Illyria replied.
’ Buffy responded in a hurt tone.
‘As I told you he would be’ Illyria replied evenly, ‘but at any point did I say he wouldn’t get better?’ she asked the slayer with a smirk. ‘We need to return to Los Angeles’ the God-King told Wesley, ‘once established there we will need to track down Lindsey at some point’ she continued. ‘Spike disliked being a ghost as I recall and I am only aware of Lindsey having the knowledge required to alter that state very easily’ she said.
Buffy stared at the amulet, everyone else was looking at Illyria in confusion. ‘What do you mean he gets better
?’ she asked Illyria, rattling it.