Im gonna kill Chronozon when I get my hands on the bleeding bastard!
This and many similar thoughts of murder and mayhem filled Spikes mind as he found himself in the unsavory position of having to trust Giles and Angel to find a way out of this crazy reality he was now trapped. Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, the one he had been tied to the last few hours, he felt his limbs ache from their confinement and came to the conclusion that he did not dislike them as much as he disliked himself at this moment. Why was he enduring this humiliation, tied to a chair like some kind of animal, with the cheerleader and the witch armed with crossbows, ready to shoot him at the slightest show of danger? There was no chip in his head so he could happily kill all of them, starting with Peaches. For so long he wanted the damn thing to be gone and now that it was, what was he doing? He was consorting with the enemy in order to get it back! He should have been reveling in the freedom of this reality where vampires ruled the night; instead he was unable to stomach any of it because Buffy did not exist.
There was no end to Fates cruelty, Spike decided.
Still when he looked at the cheerleader, at Cordelia, he saw that in this reality she was much changed. Sure, she was never very smart, the beautiful ones seldom were, except for Buffy - of course in that instance he was somewhat biased. Yet as he studied Cordelia now, there was hardness in her eyes and a grim determination that did resemble Buffy to some degree. She had seen a lot. In the other world, she had been a flighty thing with nary a thought in her head that did not believe that she was the center of the known universe. However, there was none of that here. Even Tara who was as sweet and unassuming as they come, seemed to have that same steel in her eyes but Spike supposed that in this place, that kind of nerve was needed for survival.
"Hey Cordelia," Spike called out, curious as to what had turned a party girl like Cordelia into a vampire hunter. "What are you doing here? I thought youd be more concerned about becoming prom queen or the next it girl."
Cordelia glared at him. "Thats none of your business."
"Oh come on," Spike urged. "Im interested, really."
"Shut up Spike," Tara ordered, glancing anxiously at Cordelia whose eyes had suddenly softened with something Spike recognized immediately as terrible sadness.
"I was just asking," Spike returned, his voice no longer taunting but somewhat gentle. "Im just surprised to see you with Peaches thats all. I thought youd be with the whelp."
"The whelp?" She knotted her brow in confusion.
"Xanderrrr." Spike replied in his best American accent.
"Xanders dead." Cordelia returned. "Or might as well be."
With that she lowered her crossbow and walked away from Tara and Spike, unable to face either as emotions she could not bear to have them see surfaced within her. Spike watched her go, feeling a little sorry for hurting her on such a personal level. He did not mind the odd taunts that annoyed but he did not relish pain that cut to the heart because he knew all too well how that felt from the thoughtlessness of others. He also understood now what had driven Cordelia to Angel and to this group of vampire hunters; Xanders turning. It also made sense that upon being turned, Willow would seek out Xander first. They were after all best friends for most of their lives and now it appeared they would be soulmates through eternity as well. It had to hurt Cordelia a great deal.
"Im sorry," Spike apologised but she did not hear.
"Youre such a jerk," Tara frowned, looking worriedly after Cordelia.
"Were you and Red an item too?" Spike asked.
"Red?" Tara stared at him in confusion.
"Willow," Spike retorted impatiently. "Were you and Willow together?
"The vampire Willow?" Taras face evaporated in shock.
"Im guessing thats a no." Spike deduced by her astonished expression. "So when did Peaches enter the picture?"
"Why do you keep calling him that?" Tara asked wondering what other curve balls Spike was going to throw at him.
"Its an old joke," he replied with a little smile. "Whats the story with him?"
"He came here to stop you and Drusilla from awakening the demon Acathala," Tara spoke and then recanted. "The other you."
"I decided to wake Acathala?" Spike shook his head in disbelief. "Manchester United must have lost the Cup or the bloody Aussies have won the damn cricket again, cant think of any other reason to be that depressed enough to want to end the world."
"You killed the slayer that night." Tara declared, as if defying him to remember. "You killed Kendra but Angel stopped Acathala. When it was all over, he stayed here to help us with the Master."
Spike remembered. He knew how things had gone in his reality but he also remembered the way it had transpired in this one. The Master had been furious at him and Drusilla for almost ending the vampire paradise he had created for himself and only his fondness for them had kept him from killing them both. He remembered fighting Kendra and how he had taken her life and his third slayer. It had been an exhilarating experience and one that worthy of the keeping. However, he knew that it was false. It was a phantom created by Chronozon to torture him with Buffys non-existence and once again he wished he could have killed more than just the demons host.
Spike was about to comment when Giles and Angel returned, obviously having conferred about the legitimacy of Spikes claim. Angel would be the skeptic, Spike decided, even with a soul Peaches knew what he was and how dangerous he could be. Spike just hoped he did not manage to convince Giles the same. At this moment, the watcher was the only person alive who might be able to help him return to the world he knew and Spike could not afford to alienate him. Giles gave him a hard stare as he approached, as if trying to discern whether or not Spikes words were genuine or was this some trick to end the threat of the vampire hunters.
"Tell us everything thats happened to you since you emerged in this reality." Giles spoke upon reaching him. Angel was glaring at him with stake in hand and Spike knew that the vampire with a soul would stake him at a moments notice if he so much as breathed wrong.
Spike let out a deep breath, aware that it was necessary even though he had no wish to relive the whole sorry tale of how he had come to be here. He omitted a few facts however, like Chronozons cruel taunts about Buffy not loving him. They did not need to have that much detail. Giles listened closely while Angel seemed to take his words with a grain of salt and the two vampires spent much of the narration glaring at each other. When it was done, no one was more grateful than Spike He did not much care for justifying his reasons for wanting Buffy back and having to do it to people he did not think too highly off was even worse.
"How extraordinary," Giles said after a moment of silence following the conclusion of Spikes tale.
"Im glad you think so," Spike returned sarcastically. "Can you help me or not?" He asked impatiently.
"I dont think its that simple," Giles retorted with a frown. "The spell that Chronozon used could be any number of things, attempting to break it would be extremely difficult."
"Im kind of curious to know why every memory of your past before coming to Sunnydale is identical except the time in the old west." Angel added, showing that he was listening and giving some measure of credence to Spikes story even if he did not want to trust his former minion.
"I wondered about that," Spike nodded in agreement. "Everything else is the same except that. What I remember is that we never came to America, until the next century. Darla liked the high life in Europe, at least until you got your soul back and then we went our separate ways. I think she came to Sunnydale before any of us to join the Master while me and Dru stayed in Europe."
"I remember," Angel said quietly, trying not to think too much of his demons feelings for Darla and how a part of him would always be attracted to her. Cordelia shifted uncomfortably as if she knew what he was thinking and was not happy about it.
"You killed someone there you said?" Giles looked at him.
"Yeah some gambler named Standish," Spike responded and something about that bothered him a great deal. "I remember that I did it but I cant for the life of me remember why. Most of them time I couldnt care less about killing anyone over bleeding poker. Thats a mugs game if you ask me, killing someone just because you couldnt win fair and square. Im no welcher."
Giles pondered the question for a moment before he found himself glancing at Spike again. "What do you know about Buffys family?"
"Her family?" Spikes brow shot up in confusion. "She had a mum and a little sister, the niblet but theres a long story behind how that come to be and Im not in the mood for telling it. Her mum was a nice lady though, use to make me hot chocolate with marshmallows in it. Joyce would listened to me prattle on like a git about Dru after she left me, like she really cared you know? I was sorry when she died."
He looked up to see the others staring at him.
"Marshmallows?" Angel snorted.
"Sod off." Spike growled and felt intensely annoyed by the snigger that came from Angel at his chagrin.
"Could we get back to the subject?" Giles frowned, lowering himself at the nearby desk in front of a thin laptop. "What was her mothers name?"
"Joyce," Spike retorted. "Like I said."
"I mean her maiden name." Giles hissed.
"Oh," he replied quietly, searching his mind for the answer and remembering that Joyce had told him once. When the answer came to him, his eyes flared open and for a second his heart turned even colder in his chest. "Bloody hell," his voice escaped him in a strangled whisper. "It was Standish. Her maiden name was Standish."
"Just as I thought," Giles thought as his fingers flew across the keyboard and he found the information that he was looking for. "There is a record of a Hank Summers but not of a Joyce Standish."
"THAT SON OF A BITCH!" Spike growled, his face turning into a vampire with such rage that the ropes binding him snapped free when he stood up, wanting to kill something, anything. "THE FUCKING BASTARD!"
Cordelia and Tara started to raise their crossbows but Angel shook his head, believing there was no danger because he had seen the realization sink into the younger vampires face and it was the horror of what he had done had inspired this bout of fury.
"I KNEW IT!" Spike ranted, feeling such an unbelievable surge of rage that he could barely contain it. He should have known that there was more to Chronozons revenge than simply taking his Slayer away from him. He wanted Spike to suffer, to know that he was the one responsible for her absence because it was he who had killed her ancestor, thus negating her entire existence. "He made me the one to destroy her! Ill kill the bastard! Hey Peaches you can stake me now! Im going to hell to tear that fucking demon apart!"
"Sure," Angel started to take a step towards the ranting vampire with a stake in his hand.
"Steady on!" Spike glared at him. "I was raving!"
"You expected to just let that lie there?" Angel smiled.
"So we now we know whats happened," Giles returned to the small group. "You caused the death of Buffys ancestor that had altered the timeline."
"I guess so," Spike hissed, still seething in fury. His features shifted back to his human face but he was still furious. "The question is what can I do about it? Unless one of you have a HG Wells time machine so I can go back and stop myself from doing it, were screwed."
"No, nothing like that, unfortunately," Giles answered. Despite Spikes crude description of their situation, Giles had to admit he was right, there might not be anything they could do to change things back. "I dont know if theres anything that can be done."
"I refuse to believe that," Spike said in a perfectly sober voice. "I wont let her end this way. If she is to die, she deserves a slayers death. She shouldnt end like this without even being given a chance to face her killer."
"Youre her killer." Cordelia pointed.
"Thank you for pointing that out," Spike threw a dark look in her direction and then said to Angel, "you always liked the dumb ones."
"Theres a spell," Tara who had been silent all this time announced, silencing Angel before he had a chance to defend Cordelias IQ and capturing their undivided attention.
"A spell?" Giles looked at the young woman. He was aware that she dabbled with magic on occasion. Tara never spoke about such episodes but the proof of her ability was considerable even if Giles never considered she might have the power to conjure a spell as complex as the one she was proposing. It worried him that she would try it and yet he could not imagine any other way that they might undo what the demon Chronozon had wrought by his vengeance on Spike.
"Yes," Tara nodded shyly, hating it when everyones attention was her. Spike was staring at her with hope as if he believed she could do it or needed to anyway. "There is spell that could send Spike back to the West, to the town where he killed Buffys ancestor. If he could stop what he did back there, it might return things to normal again."
"Is it dangerous?" Cordelia asked, concerned not for Spike but rather for Tara. Since the Masters return from exile, Cordelia had seen those she loved die one after the other. First Willow, Xander, Harmony and so many others she could no longer count. When she had joined Giles to fight the vampires, Tara had become her friend and in this world where so much was uncertain and death was a constant, Cordelia strove to keep the few friends she had in her life. "I mean could you get hurt?"
"I dont think so," Tara answered. "But it is a difficult spell and hell still have to be brought back. I would have to go with him."
"No!" Angel and Spike said simultaneously.
"Theres no way!" Cordelia added.
"Ill go with her." Giles stated.
"Oh this is bloody great!" Spike retorted. "Not only am I going to have to stop myself from killing this Standish bloke, I also have to do it while protecting you two?"
"It wont work any other way," Tara stated. "Do you want Buffy back or not?"
That stopped any further protestations but Spike was not happy about it. He did not reveal that it was not just his past self he would have to deal with but also Angelus, Darla and Drusilla who would undoubtedly be accompanying him. How was he going to deal with three vampires on his own?
"Giles," Angel spoke up. "This is dangerous. Youre needed here."
"I know," Giles swallowed, not about to hide the fact that he was worried about his life and the world he would be leaving behind. "However, if this works, there will be no Master and," he paused and gave Spike a glimpse. "I am her watcher."
"You dont know that for sure." Angel returned.
"No I dont," Giles sucked in his breath. "But I have to believe that theres something out there better than this."
"Trust me," Spike returned. "There is."
Giles stared and him and retorted, "dont take this personally Spike but it doesnt comfort me knowing that coming from you."
+ + + + + + +
"I should be going with you," Angel said to Giles as he saw Tara finishing her preparations for the time travel spell.
"No you cant," Giles shook his head even before Angel could complete the sentence. "You need to stay because if we fail and were trapped there for any reason, you will have to continue the fight without us."
"Dont say that," Angel responded, a stricken expression on his face. They had been through so much together over the years that the thought of losing the thoughtful and brave librarian was more than Angel could stand. He had learnt a great deal from Giles, more than he had learnt in almost two hundred years of existence and could easily say that he had been influenced greatly by the association. "Of course, youll come back."
"Im sure I will," Giles was not about to repudiate that statement, wondering of Angel had fully considered the consequences of what would happen if they were indeed successful. This entire timeline would cease to be. Their friendship, his love for Cordelia and everything he had become since coming to Sunnydale would also disappear. There was also the possibility that Spike was lying to them and if he was, it would be best if one of them was on hand to discover what his intentions was. However, inwardly, Giles did not believe that Spike was lying and if he was not, then there was a chance to restore the timeline and erase this terrible world from ever coming into being.
"But it is also wise to take precautions." He added, hoping that would make it easier for Angel to accept.
Angel nodded begrudgingly, aware that Giles words had been spoken to appease him and was no reassurance in itself. However, Giles was correct, an existence where the Master was not the lord over a kingdom of vampires was too good to risk slipping by. They had one chance at it and Giles had to take it for all their sakes.
"Were ready," Tara called out once she and Cordelia were done with the preparations. "We should begin."
Giles swallowed thickly, unable to deny his apprehension and noted that Spike had already stepped into the circle that Tara had created. The vampires face revealed no sign of fear, just an eagerness to begin and at that moment, Giles could well believe that he had lost his heart to a slayer and was desperate to get her back at any costs. The irony of it seemed straight out of a Shakespearean tragedy.
"Alright then," Giles speaking with a confidence he did not feel. "Lets get on with it."
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