Than Serve In Heaven
Morghane lay back in a chair in the garden of Angel's mansion. The night was still, waiting for the storm which had been threatening all day. She was staring at the sky, distracted. Clouds gathered around the lunar orb, draining its milky light. It looked like the moon was dying.
She could relate.
< What with the stealth? > Did he think she couldn't feel him coming from a mile away?
She fingered the gun in her lap with a small smile.
He finally worked up the courage to approach her, weary. His customary smirk distorted his sharp, handsome features, but he wasn't as unflappable as he wanted her to believe he was. She scanned him quickly and picked up concern.
"You're not thinking about using this, right?" he asked, pointing at the gun.
She smiled without looking at him.
"I don't know, I'm... considering."
He didn't move.
"Come on, Will. Take a chair."
He took a seat next to her, grumbling. "Not that I have a choice in the matter... And if you would bloody stop calling me Will, I would be much obliged," he added with a sneer.
"Buffy made it back to Giles' from patrol okay?"
"Yeah," he muttered. "I swear... first looking out for you, and now the bloody Slayer. What's the world coming to, I ask you?"
Morghane ignored his rant. She lightly fingered the puckered scar on his forehead - and he flinched.
"Must have been painful."
"No kidding. But he'll pay. Someday. You take a good look. Get used to him looking like this. 'Angel', my arse."
Went back to looking bored.
Waved her gun absentmindedly.
"Fuck you, Will. You're a player, are you not? You played, you lost. He was stronger than you, and more resourceful. Don't make this personal again. If I remember correctly what Doyle told me, you had just spent a whole day torturing him. Taunted him with Buffy's little indiscretion, right? Now that's personal. What's a little sunburn? It'll heal. Coffee?"
He let his surprise show at her strange segue, then frowned, suspicious.
"You're not gonna off yourself in the kitchen, are you?"
"Committing suicide while the coffee's brewing. Now that would be undignified, wouldn't it? But thanks for caring."
She disappeared inside the mansion, then returned a few minutes later with a steaming cup. She was limping badly, but he refrained from comment. She would just bite his head off anyway.
Besides he was a nasty, big bad vampire. He didn't give a shit about her well-being. Really.
"Sugar, two spoons, no cream."
He looked startled.
"How d'you know?"
He hadn't had coffee since his days with Angelus in nineteenth century London, when they had been preying on the bourgeoisie - who thought drinking coffee was oh so deliciously decadent.
She pointed at her temple, shrugging.
"Fucking eidetic memory, what d'you think? That I just cared enough to remember?"
He refused to pick up a fight. Just because she wanted one.
"Why are we here, Guardian? Why Sunnydale?"
"I have to talk to the Watcher. Let him know what's happening."
"Won't be happy to see you."
"No shit, Sherlock."
He ignored her biting tone.
"Do you know him personally?"
She nodded. "I've met him a few times at the Council's headquarters. He agreed with me that protecting the Guardian was an unnecessary burden for the Slayer. Well, except when the time comes for a new Guardian to rise. So here we are."
He mumbled. "How long?"
"A week at the most," she answered mildly.
He looked at her. Hard. Didn't think she would last that long.
"Why not go to my poof of a Sire? Why me?"
She shook her head, fiercely. "No, I don't want him involved in this. He deserves a break. Well, he deserves much more, but that's all I can give him right now. Maybe..." She trailed off. "I don't give a fuck about anything anymore, except the welfare of the people I love."
"You love him?"
"Of course, Will. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"What do you care?" he retorted angrily.
The situation was so unnatural, it pissed him off no end.
She didn't answer. She looked tired. Well, exhausted really.
"When you tell him the whole story, the Watcher might just shoot you on sight."
She stared back up at the night sky. The rain was coming. She could hear thunder in the distance.
"Who cares, Will?" she thought out loud. "I'm dying already."
They remained blissfully unaware of the startled pair watching the whole scene unfold from the bushes across the street.
Buffy tried to smother another yawn behind her hand, without much success. All the while, Giles kept on lecturing them on the relative quietness of the last few days. Well, as far as paranormal activity was concerned anyway. It couldn't be good, yadda, yadda, yadda...
< Tell me something I don't already know. >
She didn't care much one way or another. She didn't care about a lot of things these days. Parker would pretty much be a distant memory by now, if only Willow didn't insist on making those funny Parker-voodoo dolls with lots of needles stuck in uncomfortable places. Buffy didn't know if the dolls had any effect at all - although in the dark recesses of her mind, she kind of hoped they did.
Sometimes, she pictured similar dolls of herself. It would serve her right for being so stupid and gullible in the first place. Then again, maybe she should give herself a break. She was the Slayer... and life was so damn lonely these days. Too bad that the relief she had been seeking had come in the form of a pathetic jerk. Too bad that there was no relief to be found anywhere.
Just plain too bad.
She made a conscious decision to pull out of her funk and start paying attention to what was going on around her. Slayer Central had been transported from the now defunct high school library to Giles' place. It was nice and already felt like home. Lots of space to lounge around. Willow was sitting in Oz's lap, ensconced in Giles' favorite love seat. As usual, they were too cute for words, so Buffy didn't try to find any. Giles was standing next to the fireplace with a cup of tea in one hand and a jelly-filled doughnut in the other. An amusing sight.
She didn't smile, just sat straighter on the couch. She had just realized that Anya and Xander hadn't reported back from duty yet, and she was starting to worry.
Just as Giles was crossing the living room to the kitchen to refill his cup, taking a break in the lecture she hadn't been listening to, the front door opened forcefully and a disheveled Xander rushed in, followed by an equally wild-looking Anya. They had obviously been running.
This was never a good thing. Running usually meant trying to escape the fangs of something big and scary. And hungry.
Before either of them could offer an explanation, Buffy was on her feet, battle-ready, adrenaline pumping. "What happened?"
Xander bent at the waist, hands on knees, trying to catch his breath. Anya filled in for him.
"Spike is back in town."
All the blood drained out of Buffy's face.
She was vaguely aware of Giles swearing colorfully behind her back, but she ignored him. She couldn't think beyond the red haze which descended on her at the simple utterance of that name.
Spike was back.
The score she had to settle with him was so big, sometimes she thought she would have to take notes just to keep track of it.
It hadn't been easy, but she had gotten the details of the L.A. fiasco out of Oz. He had been reluctant to share anything beyond the brief assurance that Angel was okay - or would be soon. But she hadn't settled for that. And in the end, he had told her what she did not really want to hear, in that quiet, understated way of his. And she had felt like throwing up. Because she had sent Angel the ring and he had been tortured for it. Because he might have seen it as a punishment rather than a gift. She had dumped her problem on him and she hadn't bothered to do it in person. Not even a phone call to check on him. She sent Oz. Deep inside her mind she knew that her noble, sweet, self-sacrificing idiot of an ex-boyfriend would never see it that way. But she did. She did.
And now Spike was in town.
And there would be hell to pay.