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Summary: A lost soul, striving to redeem himself, and the world with him. A long foregotten teacher, fufilling his purpose. And the one girl in all the world who can save us all.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Fantasy > ExaltedInDrkFR1818106,27643911,05312 Sep 1227 Feb 13No

Wind-Carried Passion

A/N1: The people on Twisting the Hellmouth have been very quiet lately. I wonder what happened. Was it something I said? Please come back, I can change!

Also, for non-Buffy fans, Buffy has a canonical phobia of hospitals. I'm saying this now, because otherwise she's gonna seem kinda stupid in this chapter.

–Spike, 12:15 A.M, December 18th, 1994 10 minutes after the last chapter–

Spike staggered up the to the parking lot of a dingy motel, wincing as he strode forward on his damaged leg, face scrunched up in agony as every step sent waves of nauseating pain reverberating out from his groin. He didn't know what the hell that girl had hit him with, but he had a horrible feeling that he was badly hurt. He limped up to a random door to one of the rooms and struck it with his open palm. The door was knocked off its hinges and he stepped forward and nearly fell, catching himself on the ugly blue, peeling wall and felt his way to the bathroom. Strewn clothes, dishes in the sink and a rumpled bed told him that the room was occupied, and if he'd been mortal he might have cared. The space was small, barely more than a closet, and smelled like old urine, but it had a toilet, a tub and a sink, so it would do, for now. He stumbled into the tub and collapsed, his broken leg sticking out over the edge, his good leg bent in the tub. Awkwardly, painfully, he struggled out of his jeans and kicked them to the floor. Then, he grimaced. His boxers, normally black, were stained red, with specks of yellow and white. That could not be good.

He tore his boxers apart at the edge and threw them on the floor with his pants. A dull thunk sounded as something fell from his boxers and the sudden movement sent another wave of agony through him. Then, at he looked down between his legs, he felt bile rise in his throat. He could instantly see that his pelvic bone was shattered, with small bones sticking out of his skin, and a gaping crater in his pelvis, but that was secondary to his main source of concern. Because he was staring at his bloody dick and it was no longer attached to his body. He was staring at the crushed top half of his cock, and it was on the floor of the bloody tub! It was barely even recognizable anymore. It was a chunk of torn, purple and red meat, the same as the crushed remnants that were still attached, though could just barely see it through the punctured crater. His scrotum wasn't even bloody there! He saw small shards of ruined white tissue falling from the deflated sack of skin that had once held his testicles. He nearly vomited at the site. That fucking bitch had pulped his damn balls!

With a deep, shuddering gasp, Spike closed his eyes and gathered his Essence. He bloody hated doing this. Essence flowed through his body as he reshaped his mind. He rejected doubt, rejected wonder, forced his mind to visualize himself as he truly was: a Green Sun Prince, a Champion of Hell, an Infernal Exalted. He was born to rule, a Prince of Hell and Earth. He had no rival, no man nor woman nor demon was his equal. He pictured himself, immortal, coated in the blood of fallen kings. He willed his body to reject the mundane injuries. His place was not that of a mortal, bowing to their frailties. His place was to tear Heaven itself asunder. Essence flared, and the pain began to subside. His injured leg straightened and knit itself, while the shattered pieces of his pelvis swam through torn and shredded muscle and skin, fitting itself together like pieces of a puzzle. The crater wove itself into new skin, pale and whole. Then, the skin darkened and warped as flesh extended and regrew, as testicle and phallus were restored from his flesh, spurred on by his utter conviction that such was how the world worked. Essence empowered his ego, altering his body to fit his perception of himself. In mere moments, he opened his eyes, the crossed blades of brass upon his forehead glowing with light enough to outshine the sun, viridian horns sprouting from his head and great wings of emerald fire extending from his back.

Spike stood up gingerly, testing his weight, and grinned savagely as it supported his weight fully, unaware of his radiance in his distraction.

“Now, I just need to get my bloody coat back,” he muttered, grabbing a pair of pants and a shirt from the ground and dressing quickly, resolving to head to the nearest clothing store to get something that actually fit. He stormed out of the motel room, and it was only as the radiant wings of emerald fire lit up the night around him and cast away the shadows, illuminating the city for nearly a mile around him with the hateful green light of hell that he paused, and turned around and walked back into the room and walked over to the bed and grabbed the remote from the nightstand and flicked on the small telly. It was going to be a long night.

–Buffy, 12:15, December 18th, 1994–

It was several minutes of running before Buffy paused to look behind her, and saw no one chasing her. She sighed a breath of relief and slumped against the building behind her. Pain was blazing brightly in her ribs, and she let out a loud groan as her mind caught up with her body and decided to remind her that she was in pain. She opened the front of the coat in order to look at her ribs and winced at what she saw. Large, angry red burns covered either side of her torso, waist to breast, and she saw deeper, darker burns where Spike had gripped her. Matching hand-prints were burned into her arms, and a dull ache seemed to pulse in her forearms where he had pinned her. Other, lighter burns and bruises covered her torso where his punches had struck, each breath causing a new cry of protest from her ribs, and she whimpered as she shifted and felt her back howl in protest.

“Ow...” she said softly, face scrunched up in pain. She looked down at her right hand, willing the ring to heal her as it did earlier. The ring glimmered golden as it usually did, but was otherwise dormant.

“Come on, you stupid ring,” she muttered, shaking her wrist and the gasping in pain as waves of agony shot up her arm.

“Damn it,” she hissed, the pain quickly threatening to overwhelm her. One of the first things she had learned after Exalting was that she had a much higher threshold for pain than before, but this was quickly approaching it. She knew a bit about medicine and injuries, but only what Giles had taught her, and that wasn't enough other than to know that she wasn't hurt badly by Exalted standards, but still badly enough that she shouldn't be fighting. Suddenly she wished that she'd paid more attention to his attempts to teach her pain-relieving Charms. At the time she'd been more interested in learning Solar Hero Style, but in retrospect she was seriously regretting that decision.

Of course, she thought as she closed and buttoned the jacket and climbed painfully to her feet, Giles' teaching was now completely called into question. She hadn't been using her lie-detector the whole time she was talking with Spike, but she had during his revelations about Giles, and when he said that Solars weren't evil, and she knew he had been telling the truth. Absently, she knew she should be hurt by that, but, in the wake of the fight, in her injured state and the general crappiness of her night, she was having a hard time caring. She had liked Giles, she did enjoy his lessons, despite her teasing of his for his Britishness, and, for awhile, she'd hoped that, maybe, he could be like her dad. But all he'd ever done was push her and push her for her training, yell at her for every little mistake, and tell her she was one misstep away from turning into an evil monster. And now she found out he was lying to her. She didn't usually use her lie-detector on people, since it tended to go off like eight times in every conversation, but she needed to ask Giles some questions, and it should come in handy for that conversation...

She staggered as she tried to walk off in the direction of Giles' house as pain overwhelmed her, and she moaned as she fell to her knees. Maybe she'd visit him once she healed these injuries. Now she just needed to figure out how to get home. She looked around the street, trying to gauge just where the hell she was. She'd started out at Angel's, got beaten up by those vampires somewhere down (or was it up?) the street, got healed by her ring (which she really needed to thank Angel for, and ask why it didn't work now; maybe it was a one-use spell?), met Spike, spent half an our walking to a strange bar, got thrown in a direction she wasn't sure of, ran off in another direction she wasn't sure of...

She had no idea where she was, she realized with a sigh and a wince of pain from the sigh. She reached into the pocket of the jacket, instinctively going for her cellphone, only to pull out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, and remember that Spike had vaporized her clothes, and, apparently, everything in them.

“I had fifty bucks in my pocket,” she groaned, and then laughed at the absurdity of her statement, despite the pain it caused her ribs.

“Way to prioritize, Buffy,” she muttered to herself. Just then, she heard the sound of an engine down the road, and saw a large SUV driving up the street, its headlights on. She waved at it, preparing her most winning smile, when it pulled over and the window rolled down, revealing a somewhat startled but familiar face.

Buffy?” the driver exclaimed in a psuedo valley-girl accent, and Buffy literally collapsed in relief at the sight of Cordelia’s face, falling with a thud against the silver door of the car, then with a softer thud against the pavement as she fell on her rear, waves of pain echoing through her as her body protested the sudden movements. Cordelia opened the door and stepped out of the car to help Buffy up, only to catch a glimpse of something she would much rather have not have seen as she did so.

“Oh dear Lord, Buffy, please, please tell me that you don't moonlight as a prostitute,” she pleaded, smiling slightly to show that she was teasing. Buffy snorted and shook her head, wincing in pain as she did so.

“No, Cordy,” she muttered, “It's a...a long story, and I'm hurt,” she met Cordelia’s eyes, and for the first time the high-schooler noticed the bruises all over her classmate's face. Sympathy welled up inside her, alongside a nagging suspicion and horror, and she gently helped Buffy into the back seat of the car, carefully buckled her in and got back into the front seat of the car and pressed down on the gas pedal.

“Do you need to go to the hospital?” Cordelia asked bluntly, watching Buffy in the mirror. The beaten girl shook her head.

“Just take me home,” she said, “I'll be fine in a few days.”

“Uh-huh,” Cordelia nodded, “You know that for sure?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Buffy answered tiredly, her eyes closed.

“So, you get hurt like this a lot, then?” Cordelia pressed, wanting to be sure before she jumped to any conclusions. Buffy seemed a bit too...calm, for what she was worried about, but if she'd been roofied or something, and had fallen, that'd be bad. Normally, Cordelia despised tact, it was just not saying true stuff, after all, but here, it would be better not to just blurt stuff out...

“Not often, but enough,” Buffy murmured in response.

“So, how did it happen?” she continued nonchalantly.

“Got in a fight,” Buffy responded through a yawn.

“You lost your clothes in a fight?” Cordelia said incredulously.

Buffy was silent for a moment, and then burst out chuckling.

“Oh, God, I just realized how this must look to you,” Buffy giggled, then gasped and clutched at her ribs.

“How's that, then?” Cordelia returned, turning onto the road that would lead her to Buffy's neighborhood, “And what's your house number?”

“Ten-twenty-two five, and really, you don't need to worry,” Buffy assured her, “I promise. Would I be giggling if what you think happened had happened?”

“Point,” Cordelia admitted, “Still, if you didn't get attacked-”

“Oh, I got attacked,” Buffy grinned, and Cordelia saw her smile ferally in the mirror, “It's just that you were assuming I had lost.”

“Well, you are almost naked and beaten up,” Cordelia said irritably, forgetting he resolution of tact.

“Seriously, Cordelia,” Buffy said with a reassuring smile, “I'm fine, just hurt. You don't need to worry about me, okay?”

Something in Buffy's voice made Cordelia believe her. A powerful confidence seemed to radiate from the girl, and the smile Cordelia could see in the mirror filled her with a sense of security. She knew she could trust Buffy. She didn't know why, she just knew.

“Alright,” Cordelia relented, then frowned as a thought occurred to her, “But maybe we should still call the cops. You did still get mugged, right?”

“Just let me worry about that, okay?” Buffy said firmly, with a soft smile that took any sting out of the words, “Everything'll be just fine.”

“Oh. Well, I'm glad to hear that” Cordelia said, then smiled as she pulled to a stop in front of Buffy's address, “We're here. You need me to walk you to the front door?”

“No, I'm good,” Buffy shook her head as she stepped out of the car, wobbling at first, then steadying herself, “Have a good evening, Cordy. See you later.”

Buffy's use of her nickname made Cordelia smile, and as she drove off, she didn't even notice Buffy collapsing to her knees in her driveway.

–Angel's Basement, 12:30 a.m., December 18th, 1994–

Angel paced restlessly around his basement, teeth bared in a fanged snarl, more reminiscent of Angelus than he was normally comfortable with, but this was hardly normal. Angel looked upon his Exaltation as his divine redemption, proof of the faith Luna had placed in him, but it carried a price. His temper, normally constrained by his self-control, would occasionally break out, unleashed and untamed. He was as a cornered beast, wild and savage, and it was beyond his ability to fully control it. With great effort, he could hold back his most violent impulses, but not completely. He could not stand those who did not bow. He could not allow disrespect and rebellion to go unpunished. All around him needed to know that he was in charge, in control, and he would lash out with only his words, with great difficulty, but only if all showed him the respect he deserved. If they didn't, he would force them to. Such was the limit of his control: to offer that one chance to submit before he struck. He could no more control himself in those moment than he could influence Angelus.

The rage was too much, a great fire blazing within him, burning and eating away at him, consuming rational thought and compassion and mercy and self-control and honor like burning sulfur consuming bared flesh. He held onto his mind by his fingernails, the fire roaring as it tried to suck him in, his willpower to resist burning in place of his mind. The effort spent was exhausting, and during his rage he knew not why he tried, simply that he did, and that it was important, immensely so. And so he paced, back and forth, his mind pressed into a blazing edge, a burning razor cutting into nothing at all. Every so often, he screamed his rage to the world, and the world remained silent. It drove him mad, that he had nothing to hurt, nothing to tear, to rend, to kill. He felt his immense power, his potential, and wondered why he didn't simply use it. Why hide behind his Excellencies, pretending to be less than he was? Why dodge and weave around the issues behind Buffy? Why not hurt her, like she had hurt him, pay blood back with blood and be done with it?! She'd understand, once she remembered, and then they could be as they once were, in the old times. Aila and Bertrand had known how the world worked. The strong ruled the weak, and if the weak rebelled you put them in their place. Buffy was the Lawgiver, and he her Steward. His purpose was to rule where his Solar could not. Buffy didn't have the experience to rule, so why not do it for her, until she was ready? He could see his rage directing his mind, see the path running out before him. He saw Buffy's Charms forcing the leaders of the world to stand down, saw those with will enough to resist rebelling, saw the rest lead by a golden goddess, striking down those who did not know their place. Saw his hands tearing armies asunder, saw Gold and Silver fighting side by side, as they were always meant to. Saw the Sidereals leading their Dragon-Blooded against the rightful rulers of Creation, saw the newly reborn Solars taking the side of righteousness, saw the Dragons dominated by Buffy's words, saw them turn on the Sidereals in a orgy of blood and slaughter.

He saw it all as clearly as though it was happening now, and he smiled as he lost himself to the fantasy, and something deep within him was relieved that now he wouldn't hurt anyone.

–Buffy, 12:33 A.M.–

Buffy fell to her knees with a slight gasp of pain as Cordelia drove off. She took a deep, steadying breath and then whimpered in agony as it stressed her broken ribs. She tried hesitantly to stand, using her right arm to push herself up, only for pain to flare, bright and nauseatingly intense, as she put pressure on her fractured bones and burnt muscle. Her arm collapsed under her weight and she fell on her side, breathing in short, sharp gasps, each breath seemingly to fill her chest with broken glass. Tears ran down her face as she cried silently. She had thought the pain would be lessening by now, not getting worse! Gritting her teeth against the agony, Buffy reached out and began to crawl her way towards the door to her house. The pain from the deep burns on her chest was unbelievable, and she thought she could almost feel her strength draining away. Finally, though, she reached the front door and pulled herself up on the doorknob, crying out softly as her arms screamed their protests at her. She ignored them, and tried to turn the knob, only to find it locked.

Fuck my life,” Buffy hissed softly, and twisted the doorknob with all her strength, swearing violently under her breath as the pain brought new tears to her eyes. Finally, she felt a snap and heard a click in the door as the lock broke and the doorknob twisted in her hands. Slowly, she twisted to the side as she opened the door outwards and crawled inside, forcing herself not to breath heavily from the exertion. She made her way to the stairs and began to climb on her hands and knees towards her room. Halfway up, however, her right hand slipped on the hardwood staircase and she fell forward, ramming her chest into the edge of the stair.

Pain exploded and she let out a small, strangled cry, in too much pain to properly scream or swear. Choking sobs warred with the urge to vomit as she twisted into a small ball of complete and utter agony on the staircase. Bright spots burst in her vision, and she tasted bile in her throat. After what felt like an hour but was probably mere minutes, the pain had died down to merely excruciating rather than intolerable. Gasping for air, she barely noticed the sharp pains in her ribs as she resumed her crawl up the stairs. The pain seemed more like an afterthought now, at least compared to the blazing agony of her burn wounds. She pushed on in spite of it, however, until she reached the top of the stairs and the level plane of the floor. She wanted nothing more than to just go to sleep where she was, but she knew that wasn't an option, not if she didn't want her mother to have an aneurysm upon finding her eldest daughter beaten, burned and nearly naked on the floor. She gathered what remained of her strength and pulled her way towards her bathroom, which was mercifully open. She got to her knees as she crawled into the bathroom, gripping the doorknob and pulling the door shut behind her and falling against the wood, and nearly falling asleep. She resisted the urge, though, and lifted her arm, ignoring the throbbing aches of her fractured bones, and turned the lock on the door before gripping the doorknob once more, and hoisting herself to her feet, using her other arm to grasp the sink for support. She released the doorknob and pushed herself forward, grabbing onto the edge of the sink and then the toilet seat as she pulled herself to the tub. With herculean effort, she managed to climb into the tub and turn on the shower, breathing out a sigh of relief when the warm water hit her face and ran down her neck through her stolen coat. Pain blossomed once more, and blood ran down her chest and legs, turning the stream of water running to the drain red, but Buffy didn't notice. After a moment, the pain lessened, and though still intense, it had fallen to a level that she could ignore. She finally relaxed her body under the warm spray, and allowed herself to fall into blessed unconsciousness.

–12:40 A.M.–

Xander lunged to his left as ghostly claws slashed at him, stumbling over a rock as he did so and yelped in shock as one of his other assailants tackled him from behind and sunk it's teeth into the chains protecting his shoulder and began trying to gnaw through them, even as it tightened its arms and legs around Xander's midsection, trying to crush the life out of him. Xander stabbed his spear backward and drove the small emerald spike at the end of the lance into the thigh of his attacker. It howled in pain and moved its head back, allowing Xander to slam the back of his head into its face, stunning it. Its two brothers took this as their cue to charge him again, and Xander spun around just as they struck, and kicked backward as the creature on his back screamed as its fellows claws tore into ghostly flesh. He knocked one of his attackers down, pinning it with his own weight and the weight of its brother, and weakened the grip of the one trying to crush his ribcage enough to squirm free, just in time to take a swipe of ghostly claws across his face. Pale talons tore deep into soft skin and muscle, tearing three deep gashes down from his forehead, nose and cheek to his jawline, barely missing his eyes but nearly blinding him with blood all the same.

“Crap ow dammit that hurts! Xander cursed violently as he slashed his spear at the hungry ghost's chest, tearing a deep gash in the ghost's torso, making it recoil. He blinked heavily as he stepped blindly back, trying to clear his vision, only to see a pale glow rushing at him through the blood flow. He jumped back just in time to avoid another tackle from one of the fallen ghosts, and staggered as a heavy blow from its fellow nearly knocked him off his feet. He used his left hand to wipe the gushing blood from his eyes, and stabbed out with his right, catching one of the bastards at it lunged again, using its own momentum to drive his spear into its chest. Even as it died on his spear, however, its fellows were charging him, and Xander felt a burst of fear and annoyance as he realized that his damn weapon was stuck in the other ghost.

“Damn it, no, you stupid stick!” he cursed as he turned the spear and the body stuck on it to face his enemies as he tried to shake it free. He pulled the body close to him and shoved it at one of his attackers, knocking it back, and then kicked with all his strength against the chest of the dead ghost as he tried to pull his spear free. He fell flat on his back, eyes stinging as yet more blood ran into them, his deceased foe pinning his weapon on top of him, and watched in a panic as the other two ghosts rushed towards him, only for two lances of golden light to flash through the air, striking each ghost in the face, directly between the eyes, killing them instantly. Hastily, Xander pushed the remaining corpse off of him and stumbled to his feet, only to jump back with a yelp of shock as his savior was suddenly in front of him.

His rescuer was a young woman with dark skin and long, wavy black hair tied at her back. Fierce black eyes stared at him from a stern, almost regal face, with strong cheeks and a firm jaw and full lips. She wore a long, black trench coat, closed and covering her from her knees to her neck, but he saw tarnished gold on her legs out of the corner of his eyes. A large golden bow, almost as tall as him, was held in her right hand, and a quiver of mixed gold, black and brown arrows was slung over her shoulder. She tilted her head slightly as she observed him, and, after a moment of uncomfortable silence, finally spoke.

“What are you doing here, mortal?” she demanded in a heavy Jamaican accent.

“Um, I'm kind of trapped,” Xander said, blinking, “and thanks for saving my life,” he added as his brain caught up with the situation.

“It wasn't intentional,” the woman said curtly, narrowing her eyes, “You are wearing jade, are you not?”

Xander looked down at the shredded remains of his long sleeved shirt, through which the gleaming green jade shown clear.

“Yeah, I-” he began, but was quickly cut off.

“You are a Janissary, then?” the woman was now circling him, and Xander turned with her, unconsciously remembering the commands drilled into his head: 'never show a strange warrior your back'.

“No,” Xander shook his head, “I just know a bit of the style,” and then, with a touch of irritation at the woman's curtness, he continued, “and who are you, exactly?”

“I am asking the questions,” the woman snapped, “and it would do you well to show some respect! However, since you are clearly ignorant, I shall enlighten you.”

With those words, a hollow golden circle burst into existence on the woman's forehead, cutting through the fog and gloom around them with its brilliance.

“I am Kendra, and I am the Night,” she smiled, almost smirked, imperiously.

“Oh,” Xander said in confused surprise, “you're a Solar. But what are you doing here?”

The woman, Kendra, blinked in surprise.

“You...are aware that is it usually customary to bend one's knee when greeting a Solar, do you not?” she inquired pointedly, eyes narrowing again.

Xander frowned.

“No, actually,” he said, “I didn't. Which is odd, considering one of my best friends is the Dawn Caste-”

“You know Buffy Summers?” Kendra interrupted sharply, “You will take me to her, immediately.

Xander stared at her.

“Well, I'd love to, but there's just one problem,” he said, and Kendra glared at him in sudden shock and fury.

“You would dare to defy a Lawgiver-?!” she began to shout, stepping forward as if intending to strike him. He threw up his hands defensively.

“No, no, not at all!” he said hastily, suddenly very much aware of just how much more powerful this woman would be, if she was even half as strong as Buffy was, “It's just that I'm trapped in here! I don't know how to get out!”

Kendra stared silently for a moment, before suddenly calming down, quickly going from furious to arrogant in mere seconds.

“I am well aware of that!” the Solar snapped angrily, “I meant immediately after dawn's first light!”

“Of course, I'm sorry, no offense meant!” Xander said hurriedly. Kendra nodded, seemingly mollified.

“In any event, you did well to clear this area of pests,” she said, “It would have been tiresome to do so myself, so I am grateful that you spared me the trouble, even though you were injured in the process.”

Xander opened his mouth, fully intending to quip that it hadn't been intentional, only to bite his tongue as he remembered the short temper Kendra apparently had. Kendra went on as though she hadn't noticed the motion.

“I shall heal your wounds, in return.”

“Wait, what-” Xander began, but Kendra reached out and gently caressed the wounds on his face, dragging her fingers along the gashes, the tips of her digits glowing softly as they knit the skin they touched, pulling the wounds shut and not leaving so much as a scar behind.

“Wow, that's...thanks,” Xander stammered, blushing as much at the apparent intimacy behind the touch and the suddenness of the healing alike.

“It was no trouble,” she said dismissively, “Now, I am going to make some breakfast. Keep an eye out for any more ghosts or vampires.”

“Sure?” Xander said, frowning slightly at the sudden dismissal, but finding himself doing as he was bidden, and began watching the distant fog for creatures of any sort, as the Solar began pulling supplies and food out of seemingly empty space.


“You're missing the point, Desus!” he exclaimed animatedly to the man across from her, “They already worship us, we don't need to instill reverence. What we need is a Charm to warp their perception of right and wrong, so that they don't question us because they agree with us.”

The dark-haired Exalt was shaking his head, smiling that infuriatingly smug smile, and he wanted to punch him through a wall.

“You're over-thinking this,” he chuckled, and glittering black eyes met her blue ones, “Changing basic perceptions and morals like that takes far too much energy. It's tantamount to ordering them to kill a loved one, which, believe me, is much harder than I make it look. What you need to do is make them love you more than they love themselves. It's much simpler, it's already something they're brought up to do, so it doesn't defy their basic nature, and it leads to the same results: They willingly accept everything you do, because they know that it's you doing it.”

“Actually, that's not a bad idea,” he said thoughtfully, “I've been using something similar for my Lunar Mate recently. Stupid bitch keeps saying no when I tell her to go kill some uppity mayor, or some Dragon-Blooded whore who steps out of place. So, I made a Charm to remind her how much she loves me. Bitch gets all pissy about it afterwords, though, so I usually have to use some, what was it that newborn called it? Negative reinforcement, that was it. Which is pretty fun in and of itself, so I don't mind too much.”

Desus chuckled at that.

“That reminds me, I was actually testing a proto-Charm like I was telling you about on Lilith last night.”

“Okay, now this I've gotta hear,” she grinned, “How'd the bitch take it?”

“Oh, it was priceless,” Desus chuckled in amusement, “I cast it, and then broke her arm. She screamed, of course, but at the same time she was thanking me for it, apparently because I always know when she's thinking bad thoughts, and how to correct them. So, naturally, I ask about these bad thoughts, and guess what the stupid whore was thinking?”

“She thinks?” she exclaimed in mock surprise, to Desus' amusement.

“That was my first reaction, too,” his friend grinned in amusement, “But then she tells me she was going to poison my dinner that evening.”

“You're shitting me,” he leaned in closer, grinning, “What'd you do to her?”

“Set her on fire,” Desus shrugged, “Not particularly inventive, but neither is poison, so fuck her. Which I did. After using appropriate fireproof charms, of course.

“Of course,” she nodded seriously, “Dick burns are the worst. Or so I hear.”

“So, your Mate ever try to pull something like that?” Desus asked curiously. He shook her head.

“No, bitch knows her place; well, most of the time, anyways,” he said proudly, “When she does get out of line, I just break a few bones, hit her with some Shaping charms, and make sex very unpleasant for the next few nights straight, and she gets the point pretty damn quick.

Desus looked at her with something like jealousy.
“I've gotta admit,” he said seriously, “I'm envious of what you two've got.”

“Yeah,” she smiled happily, “It's pretty great. She knows that I'm the Solar, so I'm in charge, and the few times she makes mistakes, I can go pretty easy on her, because she doesn't make 'em often, you know? I mean, she's pretty good, for a Lunar. Not everyone can be perfect, like us.”

“I'll drink to that,” Desus grinned, raising his glass.


–7:15 A.M.–

Buffy awoke with a start and a gasp. She tried to leap to her feet, only for pain to burst in her chest. She fell down with a groan of agony and a thud as her knees hit the solid plastic floor of the tub and her head cracked against the metal faucet. Cold water was still pouring down on her, and she shivered suddenly, and realized out cold she was, before warmth suddenly flowed through her, and the cold receded. Slowly, she pushed herself back until she was leaning against the back of the tub, her head resting against the cool wall, and she began to take in her surroundings. Bright white light was shining from the fluorescent light in the ceiling, and a loud banging on the door was sending waves of pain through her head. She pushed herself up, tried to climb to her feet, and then slipped on the heavy leather jackets she was still wearing and fell against the edge of the tub. She choked in pain as she slammed her chest where her gut met her ribcage and vicious, sharp pain shot through her. She gripped the edge of the tub and pulled herself over the edge of the tub, falling out onto the floor with a groan.

“Buffy? Buffy, are you okay?” came Dawn's worried voice from the other side of the door, “I heard a bang.”

Buffy opened her mouth to respond, and only managed to devolve into a hacking, painful cough. Each exhalation of air sent sharp spikes of pain shooting through her chest, and Buffy absently realized that her ribs were still broken. She tasted copper in her mouth, and mentally cursed. She was coughing blood. That could not be good.

She heard a click from the other side of the door, and the knob turned and Dawn forced her way in, and then froze as she saw her sister's condition. Buffy saw Dawn opening her mouth to scream, and with a surge of Essence shook her head, managing to speak through her coughing.

“Qu-quiet-” Buffy gasped out, “Don't-” another fit of coughing, and Dawn paled and rushed forward to kneel by Buffy's side as she saw the spots of blood flecking the white tile floor, “Don't wake mom!”

“God, Buffy, you're coughing blood!” Dawn said, her voice filled with horror, “you need to go to the hospital!”

“No-ow, dammit!” Buffy cursed as she coughed particularly hard and pain shot through her chest like a spear in her lungs, “No hospitals,” she insisted wearily, and with some relief as her coughing finally subsided, “Just help me to my room.”

“Buffy-” Dawn tried to argue, but Buffy grabbed the hand on her shoulder, her piercing green eyes meeting Dawn's bright blue ones.

“Take me to my room. Tell mom I'm not here. Act like,” Buffy paused with a grimace of pain as a shudder wracked her body, “Like you're tattling on me, or something, for not coming home. Just-owww,” she groaned as Dawn pulled her to her feet, “Just get me to my bed.”

Dawn still looked unsure, but looking at her sister's desparation, she felt compelled to help her.

“Okay,” she said quietly, and gently pulled Buffy's arm further around her shoulders, then winced as she saw through the open coat for the first time.

“Jesus-!” Dawn started loudly, but stopped at Buffy's glare, “Jesus,” she whispered, “You're covered in burns and blood!”

“It looks worse than it is,” Buffy lied, “I'll be fine, I just need to rest.”

At Dawn's disbelieving look, Buffy forced a smile and gripped her sister's hand.

“I'll be fine, really, you don't need to worry,” she assured, Essence driving her words, and Dawn nodded and seemed to relax.

Dawn slowly, quietly helped Buffy limp out through the hall and to her room.

As she lead Buffy into her hyper-pink room and towards the bed, she pulled the covers back with one hand and helped Buffy climb into the bed, biting her lip and trying to hold back tears as Buffy shrugged off her coat and Dawn saw just how badly burned and bruised her sister was. As Buffy slid into the bed, Dawn moved her hand up, supporting Buffy's head as her sister laid against her pillow, until she was finally laying flat and stiff, her jaw tense and her face screwed up in pain. Dawn gently covered her sister's battered body with the comforter, slowly lowering the blanket so as not to aggravate her sister's burns. Once Buffy was covered and tucked in, Dawn waited a moment for anything else her sister might need, before realizing that Buffy was already asleep. Dawn leaned down and gently kissed Buffy's forehead, before tiptoeing out of the room and quietly closing the door behind her. Now, she just needed to find a believable lie for her mother to think Buffy's not home...

“Dawn! Dawn, are you up?” came her mother's voice from the kitchen, making Dawn jump.

“Yeah!” she responded, “I'm awake!”

“I need to leave early for the gallery, some major buyers are looking to purchase some big pieces, and I'm the only one who can authorize sales, and I need to go get things set up, so you'll be taking the bus today!” Dawn couldn't believe her luck as she heard her mom running frantically through the kitchen, looking for something, “Make sure your sister wakes up for school, and I'll be working late, so I left thirty dollars on the counter for dinner! You can get pizza, but I'm trusting you to not get soda as well! Your lunch and Buffy's are on the table, breakfast is cereal and milk! I love you, be safe, and I'll see you around ten tonight! Bye!”

The front door opened and slammed shut with a thud. Dawn stood still for a moment, processing what had just happened.

“Well, that was a freebie,” she murmured in surprise, blinking in confusion, then walking down to get her breakfast.


Angel's eyes shot open. He was propped sitting up perfectly against the wall, Luna's Grace laid across his thighs, the shimmering silver blade forming images of battles long forgotten and foes long dead. Great gouges were cut into the blue padding on the walls, some blade slashes, some rips torn like a great spiked limb or tail had torn it apart. Buffy's Daiklave was imbedded in the ceiling. With fluid grace, Angel stood, rolling his neck with a loud cracking sound.

“I hate it when that happens,” Angel murmured, stretching out his arms and popping his elbows, before reaching around his back and popping it as well. He blinked his owlish eyes as he tried to recall the previous evening, and leaned back against the wall with a groan as he did so.

“No, no, nonono,” he moaned, “Oh, god damn it, not her.”

This was not how he had wanted to break his 'episodes' to Buffy. He sighed. No wonder he felt so bad, he mused, whenever he had to restrain himself, it always felt terrible afterwords, rather than like a release. Though he typically could feel these things coming on, and could plan accordingly-

He froze as he remembered the events immediately prior to his episode. His hands clenched in mixed horror and fury. Rage tore through his chest like a fiery serpent, ripping at his self-control, the thin veneer of calm he maintained at all times, threatening to unleash all the pain and guilt and fear-

How could she?! How dare she?!

He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. He could not afford to approach this with anger.

“She didn't know,” he said aloud, exhaling heavily through his nose, “She's young, she doesn't understand the implications of her Charms.

Angel pushed himself forward and stepped towards the large door at the opposite end of the room.

“Really, this is Giles fault,” Angel continued, “not hers. He should have taught her more about-”

Angel froze as his great golden eyes widened in realization.

“Oh God damn it!” he exclaimed as he pulled at his hair in frustration, “That's what he was doing!”

Angel screamed and spun around, slamming his fist into the padded wall, punching through the blue fabric and gel and into the stone on the other side. He tore his fist out violently, crumbles of stone following the unmarred hand as he cursed again and strode towards the door.

“This is my fault,” he muttered as he stormed out the double doors and up the stone steps towards daylight, “I interrupted his lessons, he is never going to let me live this down!”

He needed to find Buffy and start fixing this, now. Before Giles found out about it. He and the Sidereals had never got along, neither before his Exaltation nor after, but only for only one common reason between them. Neither Angel nor Angelus had ever been able to stand the sheer smugness the Viziers brought to any gathering. Angel had the added displeasure of remembering Giles from their former lives. His lips curled in remembered disgust and rage as he pulled open the door to the first floor of the apartment building he'd commandeered for his use and headed towards the glass doors at the from, daylight and the noise of men and women driving their cars to work, voices coming in from the street. Lost in his thoughts, Angel pushed open the doors and wandered out into the sunlight, absently filtering through the sensory information surrounding him.

Chejop Kejak. Aila had spent centuries despising that man. Chejop had been a survivor of the Primordial War, alongside Bertrand and Aila. He'd maintained contact for nearly twenty-five hundred years after the Solars and Sidereals had split. He'd spent two and a half millenia eating dinner once a week with Bertrand and Aila. He'd spent centuries of that time ignoring the abuse heaped upon Aila by her Solar mate, centuries ignoring her silent pleas for help. Because Bertrand's evil was lessened through her pain. With Aila as an outlet, Bertrand was able maintain sanity and heroism in public, saving the millions of mortals under his rule from the excesses of the Solar Deliberative.

Chejop Kejak was aware of it all. After all, he'd engineered it. The one time, for the one week each year Aila's mind was her own, she'd managed to escape. She'd slaughtered Bertrand's honor guard with ease, beat her mate into unconsciousness with her bare hands, and ran for the border. She sent a message to Chejop Kejak, begging for asylum. He met her at the border, and then waylaid her long enough for Bertrand to catch up to them, using the coordinates Aila had given Chejop.

As Bertrand pinned her to a tree, imposing his will on her once more, Chejop explained to her, whispering words for her alone to hear, telling her of his scheme. Of the good her pain was doing the world. Aila had never hated anyone more.

Then, he'd had the nerve to lecture her when she refused to help him and the Dragon-Blooded slaughter the Solars. It was only near the end, when she saw Bertrand, covered in blood, an infant's-

No,” Angel muttered, gathering stares from the people he passed, gracefully side-stepping those who might have walked into him, “You're Angel, not Aila, you're a boy, not a girl, he, not she.”

He sighed. He was old. Very old. He'd died when he was twenty-one, and had been reborn nearly one-hundred-and-eighty years later. He'd been Liam for two short decades, then Angelus for nearly two long centuries, then Angel, and he still was. But before all that, at least in his mind, he'd been Aila. And Aila had lived for over five thousand years before her death. Angel had spent nearly a decade not knowing who he was, as the memories overwhelmed his consciousness. He eventually learned to filter her out, but Aila was still an important part of him, and he'd only ever seen the smallest fraction of her life. Over five millenia, and Angel had seen a scant few centuries of that abyss of time. Aila was ancient. Aila had been unimaginably powerful at her death. Angel had gained power from those memories, but also pain, and prejudices. He hated the Sidereals with all his being. On some level, he knew that his hatred was irrational. But he couldn't forget what they'd done to Aila, nor to the world. He couldn't forget the Broken Mask, nor the cowardice of the Five-Score Fellowship that resulted in the deaths of millions of mortals and Terrestrials. The cowardice of throwing the world at the Solar Exalted, all for ensuring their own survival at the end. Cowardice which had proved disgustingly effective.
The end tally of the Great War had been three hundred dead Solars, two hundred or so dead Lunars, millions of dead Terrestrials, and one dead Sidereal. Said Sidereal had died of old age during the war, and due to the chaos hadn't located any life-extending methods in time. Aila had hated them so much-
Angel shook his head, blinking his large, owlish eyes. He didn't want to risk slipping into Aila again. Whenever he did, it always took him days to return, and he couldn't afford that now. He needed to get to Buffy, explain the previous evening, apologize, and explain to her why she shouldn't use her Charms like she had been, at least not without warning someone.
He hastened his stride towards Buffy's house, pushing out Aila's memories with a surge of willpower. He focused on himself, on his own desires and fears, restoring his own thoughts to the forefront of his mind.

After a few moments, he was fully him again, and prepared to talk to Buffy.

Also, seriously, please comment on this chapter. I really need the feedback on it, otherwise I'm lost on how the next one's gonna go.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Ascendent Sun, Burning Moon" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 27 Feb 13.

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