Setting the Stage...
Disclaimer: Me? Own? Get Real. I Rent... okay, I don’t even Rent. I... borrow.
Angelus stood, the gaping maw of the beast widening as the world around him was absorbed into a cacophony of silence. Blissful silence. He peered behind him at the Slayer, her Blessed Sword raised and ready, eyes filled with pain for a deed she had not yet committed. He swung the sword in his right hand, the feel of warm steel lifting his spirits. The fight of the century.
Buffy lunged, sword swinging down, and the vampire easily parried. Foolish girl. He was over ten times her age - he had seen the rise and fall of an era... albeit, at the end, through the half-lidded eyes of shame... but nonetheless. He was greater. Stronger. He let her strike again, and again parried with the utmost ease.
On the other side of the clashing steel, the Slayer raged. She sent her blade from above, and just as the beast countered, redirected, instead swinging from below. Angel fell back, surprised, but unharmed. The sound of buttons tinkling to the ground alerted him to the ruin of his shirt. Damn.
Buffy smiled. "Didn’t see that coming, did you?"
Angelus smiled back. "Didn’t have to." He swung, unexpected, but far enough away for the girl to parry - she mocked him now.
Growling, he thrust forward, and fully lost himself to the dance of steel.
Willow looked uncertainly at the room around her. A fire alarm above her head - which made sense, this being a hospital room - and a tiny not-quite shelf that Cordelia and Giles had placed the herbs on. She took a deep breath, reminding herself that this decision was hers.
"Are you alright, Willow?" She opened her eyes to see a frowning Giles. "If you don’t want to do this..."
Willow shook her head. "I do. Want to, that is." She paused. "It’s just... I’m a bit scared, y’know? Trying a spell, the fate of the world hanging in the balance..."
Giles set a gentle hand on her shoulder. "No pressure."
She nodded. "Not for you." She took another deep breath. "Okay, let’s get this started..."
Dean stared out at the cold night, and the road ahead. A glance showed him Sam was sleeping, like a baby. Like he used to. Seeing Sam like this... it dredged up old memories. Memories of when they were little, when his baby brother in the seat next to him looked to him, as the older sibling, for so much. For life, itself, it seemed.
He felt a bittersweet tinge at the reverie, still getting accustomed to these unexpected returns to childhood. These moments when time itself would stop, and he was a kid again, and Sammy was just a toddler, and they relied on each other as much as on their father...
The car sped past a sign, and had Dean not been so absorbed in his thoughts, he would have noticed the twin glowing eyes.
Angelus parried, feeling the blade begin to bend under such stress, and realized that it was time to alter his tactics. Buffy had already left him on the defensive, mocking his swings and thrusts with a simple parry or a turn. She was somehow better than he had expected. Giles, no doubt, had taught her these moves, but now wasn’t the time to speculate on how she got them - it was the time to adjust to the fact she did.
The vampire spared a glance for the demon-statue, it’s portal-mouth widening as the seconds ticked by. Alright, he decided, I’ll simply buy more time... another minute should do it. He turned back to the Slayer in time to dodge another swing - barely.
"C’mon, Buff... you’re better than that. Even if your bedroom manner is abysmal, I know you can fight."
Buffy’s face hardened. "You don’t know me."
"Like I don’t know how much
you love ice skating? I was your lover,
remember? I know more about you than anyone!
"You don’t know more about me than I do."
"Prove it," he smiled.
The demon cracked it’s neck, returning for the moment to it’s makeshift altar. A little girl was sprawled on top of the stone formation, her neck slit, and her blood bathing the rocks and ground beneath her. A hapless camper, in the wrong place at the right time. The demon stepped forward, raising a blood-drenched dagger. He began speaking in Latin, chanting the verses to an unholy spell.
The wind picked up, whistling through the trees, and storm clouds gathered overhead. He picked-up the pace of his chant, and the wind gained speed. He then placed the dagger over the girl’s body, drawing an arcane, and long-forgotten symbol in the air over her. A crack of lightning pierced the sky.
Willow was struggling. Energies flowing in and out and all around her, making her concentration fade and flicker. Herbal smoke filled her nostrils, her mouth, making it impossible to breathe. She felt the weight of her head, suddenly increased by some unseen gravitational force. But she had to press on.
Then she felt it. A presence unlike any other she had ever known. Some ancient spirit, set on vengeance and blood, and it had found her. The spirit fought with her, and Willow felt her will seep away as one too many things fought for dominance. She needed to do this... for Buffy... for Buffy... all for...
The fire alarm overhead blared, and the sprinklers showered the four Scoobies. Willow felt the energy disperse, broken by the disruption, and the spirit fade back into the ether. She fell forward, screaming: "NO!"
Buffy waited. Patience was key here, she reminded herself. Angelus had moved from physical fighting to trying to distract her. To some degree, she admitted, it was working. She was more provoked, and that meant she had to be more aware - and more in control. She thus decided to channel her rage into finding the perfect moment to end this. After almost six months of pure hell, this was the path that was needed.
"Buffy, do you really think you can kill me?" Angelus raised an eyebrow. "Can you do it?"
She shrugged. "After all this? Sure."
He chuckled. "Right. Just like you could take the Master?"
"I did," she reminded him, reigning in her flare of anger.
"After he killed you."
"Do we just talk all day, or do we fight?"
"Who said we had to stop fighting?" He lunged forward.
There it was. The perfect moment. Buffy sidestepped the lunge, and thrust her sword forward, embedding it easily into the vampire’s heart.
Angelus staggered back, almost flush with Acathla. "You... you killed me?" He looked down, then returned his gaze to her. "Bitch."
At first, nothing happened. Angelus just stood before the Slayer, skewered. Then the vampire was sucked into the demon’s portal, leaving only a stone sleeper and a bloody sword behind.
Winds howled through the trees, coming from any direction possible. Lightning streaked the sky purplish blue, and hazy. Streams overflowed with water, spurred by the rise in power. A little girl, long dead, began to dissolve atop a formation of rocks.
The demon above her smiled his triumphant smile. Soon... so soon, his work would be done. All was ready, and the stage was set. He took the bloodied knife, and looked at it, almost lovingly, before plunging it into his own chest. An inhuman howl filled the forest, and he, too, dissolved.
Dean felt sleep begin to take hold. Not a good sign - and the weather wasn’t helping. He began scouting a place to stop, so he could wake Sam and switch. A shoulder road nearby seemed to be protected by an overhang of trees. Dean nodded; it would do. He shook Sam awake.
"Whu...?" Sam stirred. "What’s up?"
"Gonna switch, 'kay?"
Before Sam could speak, lightning bore down directly in front of the car, sizzling the street and flowing out in all directions. Dean slammed the breaks, twisting the steering wheel to avoid the spike of energy. The car swerved, colliding with a nearby tree. Sam and Dead jerked; Sam’s forehead smacked into the dashboard, and Dean was smashed into the steering wheel.
Outside, where the bolt of lightning had struck, a form huddled, bleeding and confused.