Chapter Nineteen: The End of the Beginning
“Get down!” Dawn shouted just before the door burst off its hinges and flew across the room. She moved quickly, knocking Xander and Anya to the ground and out of harm’s way as Spike and the others came running in.
“What’s going on?” Willow shouted over the din.
“Hurry! We’ve got to get out of here,” Dawn cried. Something was coming through the wall and Dawn stood up quickly. She turned and the air around her crackled ominously. As she threw her hand up something that looked like a bolt of lightning shot from her palm and slammed into the creature intent on attacking them. It squealed in pain and fell away from the wall. Dawn hurriedly gathered everyone together, and they linked hands immediately. They flashed into Spike’s apartment and everyone except Spike and Dawn collapsed. Xander, sick and gasping on the floor, looked up and said,
“Well, that sucked. What the hell was that and how did you do that…whatever you did to kill it?”
“I didn’t kill it; I just wounded it.” She paced nervously around the room, stopping to peer out a window. “I don’t know if we’re safe here.”
“Do you think it could track us?” Spike asked.
“I’m not even sure what the hell it was; I didn’t get a very good look.”
“I think it was an Eversor demon,” Anya said. “I’ve only seen one once before. They’re pretty scary.”
“Eversor, Eversor,” Dawn muttered. “No, they can’t track dimensional travel. They could’ve tracked us if we’d gone on foot, but since we didn’t we should be safe here. But not for long. They have to be summoned so I’m guessing whoever summoned it isn’t through with us.”
“They left the house, just as you hoped they would.” Sorcha greeted the news with a smile.
“Did you follow them?” she asked.
“No they didn’t go by foot, but the prophets sensed a dimensional shift and we believe they have gone to the vampire’s home.”
“At last, the prophets prove useful! Spike’s home, hmm? We need no invitation there. Gather your men and wait for my order; it is time to take care of our little problem.” She smiled and left to prepare. Stupid humans! she thought. They had played right into her hands. The girl would, of course, be killed immediately along with the others, but it was no longer necessary to kill Spike. He had already done whatever damage had been prophesied. She smiled slightly; maybe she would keep him around to play with. He’d be an exciting partner if he would only remember what he was and stop playing at being human. She would just have to remind him.
“So what’s the plan?” Xander asked. Dawn continued to pace without answering. “There is a plan, right?” He looked at Spike then at Giles and then back to Dawn before sinking onto the sofa, a sick expression on his face. “Oh, god! We have no plan.”
“Something isn’t right,” Dawn said looking around the apartment. “Spike, do you have any weapons here?” He shot her a look before replying,
“What do I look like, a bloody ponce? Course I got weapons!” She smiled at his insulted tone of voice.
“Sorry honey, I forgot you’re like a walking armory. I think we need to prepare for battle. If I had to bet on who summoned that thing, smart money would be on Sorcha.” She looked at Giles who nodded in agreement. “She wants us where she can attack.”
“I don’t get it. Doesn’t she need an invite?” Xander asked, puzzled.
“Not if the guy who lives here is a dead man,” Anya noted as she began to understand what was happening.
“We need to grab weapons and get the hell out. If there’s going to be a battle I’d prefer to be somewhere with a little more maneuvering room,” Dawn said.
“Why don’t we go back to Sunnydale?” Tara asked. “She couldn’t get into our houses without an invite.” Dawn shook her head.
“She’d just keep coming, driving us out. No, I have to fight her here. Now. You don’t have to stay, but…” They all broke in with assurances that they would stay and help. Willow looked at Spike in confusion and pointed out,
“You said you have weapons, but Tara and I stayed here quite awhile and I didn’t see any.” Spike grinned.
“You have to know where to look.” He stood and led them all into the bedroom.
“Hey, this better not be about to get weird,” Xander started jokingly, but wisely shut his mouth when Giles gave him a censuring look. Spike opened a door to reveal a tiny closet that was barely big enough to hold the clothes that were in it.
“If this is the armory I think we’re screwed,” Anya declared. Spike just shook his head as he pushed aside the clothes and opened a hidden panel behind them. They all stepped into a much larger room filled with stakes and knives, crossbows and swords of various sizes and one mean looking flamethrower.
“Holy shit!” Xander exclaimed.
“This storage area was here when I moved in, but I built a false wall so it would look like an innocent little closet if anybody ever searched my place,” Spike explained. “Someone found all those weapons they might think I was up to something.”
“Very cool!” Xander enthused as he took it all in. Giles nodded approvingly.
“Yes, very,” Dawn agreed with a smile. “Now grab whatever you can carry and let’s move out.”
“They’re on the move again.” Sorcha spun around to face a vampire named Dalton.
“They’ve left the vampire’s place,” he informed her.
“Are they on foot?”
“The scout we had watching his place says they left on foot, but then he lost them and another dimensional shift was detected.” Sorcha watched him while she thought.
“Why did they leave? They should have assumed they were safe and settled in.” The vampire across the room just shrugged.
“Maybe the girl is smarter than you thought. She’s obviously not a normal human.” Sorcha glared before stalking across the room to stand in front of him.
“Are you questioning my plan?”
“N-n-no, of course n-not,” he stuttered.
“You think I can’t outsmart this child? I, who have existed since before Christ himself was born?”
“No, of course that’s not what I meant at all.” He paced back a step to escape her fury.
“I am more powerful than your tiny mind could imagine. I will not allow some little girl to best me!”
“She doesn’t stand a chance. I am certain of it.” She watched him closely before turning angrily on her heel.
“Leave me!” she commanded with a wave of her hand and he exited quickly.
There was another round of sickness and recovery when they arrived at the spot Dawn had chosen for the battle. It was a large abandoned warehouse on the far side of town. It was scattered with old packing crates, and there was an office on the second level with a small balcony overlooking the first floor. She figured it would work well for their purposes. She and Spike secured the area, making sure no innocent bystanders were around to get caught in the crossfire. Anya sat on the floor with her head in her hands. She peered up at Dawn.
“Now why exactly did we have to go on that particular ride again?” she asked tremulously. Dawn watched her with concern; she had been through so much. Dawn knelt down beside her and rubbed her back comfortingly.
“I’m sorry. Someone was following us and we needed time to set up here. I couldn’t let them find us too easily so…”
“So the sick-making trip again, I get it. I don’t enjoy it, but I get it,” Anya interrupted with a tiny smile. Xander helped her stand up and Dawn hurried back to Spike. They set up a few booby traps and a perimeter alarm to let them know when someone approached. They planned their strategy for who would do what and where everyone would start. All that was left was the waiting.
Spike and Dawn sat in the near darkness next to a large empty crate. He watched her silently for a moment as she thought about what lay ahead for them. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a pack of smokes. As he shook one free he paused and looked at Dawn.
“You mind?” She turned her head towards him and gave him a small smile.
“It’s odd but I think I’ve begun to appreciate the smell of cigarette smoke.” He grinned and lit one. He took a drag and pulled the smoke into his lungs as he slipped the Zippo back in his pocket. Exhaling, he leaned forward to rest his arms on his legs.
“You ready for this?” Spike asked and was pleased when he saw fierce determination light her face.
“I’m ready. I’m worried about Anya though; she looked sicker than the others after that trip and kind of weak.”
“Yeah, I noticed. I think the stress is getting to her. You healed her physically, but she’s still dealing with all of it in her mind.”
“She hasn’t been sleeping or eating well; I hope she can handle this fight.” Spike nodded and said,
“She’s got the flamethrower so she shouldn’t have to do too much actual fighting.” Dawn glanced around at the setup. Giles was on the balcony with a crossbow prepared to take out as many vamps as possible from above. He also had a couple stakes and a sword in case he had to go hand to hand. Willow and Tara each had a stake and a crossbow while Xander had a sword, some stakes and a couple knives. Anya, of course, had the flamethrower. Spike and Dawn had both opted for just a couple stakes. They were all in specific locations around the ground floor each couple grouped together, although Dawn figured she and Spike would move around as needed. There were other weapons hidden strategically around the warehouse for easy access once the battle began.
“Do you think I’m ready for all this?” Dawn asked him curiously.
“I think you’re a great warrior with mysterious powers, and I think you know better than I do what we’re dealing with and whether you’re ready. But if it matters to you I do think you’re ready.” He leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. She reached up to caress his cheek and whispered,
“It matters.” She smiled and his heart ached at how she looked in that moment. She had changed into a pair of his sweatpants and an old t-shirt before they left; she wore an old pair of shoes that Red had left at the apartment and her hair was piled messily on top of her head. Her makeup was smudged and she had a scratch on her cheek, but he thought she had never looked quite so beautiful. He heard a noise and at first it didn’t quite register, but when he realized what it was he tensed in anticipation.
“Here we go.”
Sorcha was filled with excitement as the vampires slowly surrounded the building. Six humans and Spike against an army of her best soldiers, they didn’t stand a chance. She turned to Dalton.
“Kill the humans and bring Spike to me. Do not kill him; he’s mine!” He started towards the building. “Oh, and Dalton?” He turned and lifted his head questioningly and was surprised when she smiled. “Make them suffer!”
“My pleasure,” he said, returning the smile.
Brigham sat with Drusilla in her room. They had been left behind while the others went out to start a war. Sorcha thought he had lost his mind just like Drusilla, but that was what he had wanted her to think. He had been a little confused at first, but everything had quickly become clear to him. He knew what needed to be done. He watched as Drusilla swayed back and forth, swirling her hands through the air. Her expression grew distressed and she whimpered quietly.
“It’s here; I can see it. It cries out to be free.” Her whimper grew to a whine as she wrung her hands. Brigham took her shoulders, shaking her gently.
“Then we shall go and release it.” He took her hand and pulled her along behind him.
“Oh goody! Are we going to a party?” She looked up at him and he could see the child she used to be looking out at him through her eyes. He smiled.
“Yes. The most wonderful party you could ever imagine.” She clapped her hands together in delight and they left quickly.
They poured through the door like insects; Giles took out six of them with the crossbow in a matter of minutes. Five of them immediately tripped the booby traps and lost their heads for their troubles. Spike rushed into the fray with fists flying, dusting vamps as he went. He had begun to feel like this battle was going to be one of his easier ones when a vamp suddenly grabbed him by the throat and lifted him high in the air. He struggled and fought but couldn’t get free. A bolt of lightning hit the vamp in the back and Spike fell unceremoniously to the floor as the vampire burst into flames and turned to dust. He looked up to see Dawn holding her hand out to him and pulled himself up with a smile.
A group of vampires attacked Xander; he was able to stake two of them before they pinned him down. Willow and Tara staked two of them from behind and Anya laid out a burst of flame. The vampires stumbled back in an attempt to escape it, but they all went up in the blaze. Giles continued to take out as many as he could from the balcony but a couple of them had worked their way up to him so he had to put aside the crossbow and fight them off. As Dawn fought, she touched random vampires causing them to stop fighting and stumble off in a daze. Some were susceptible and some weren’t, but every little bit counted and would eventually work to their advantage. Spike noticed the affected vamps and worked his way over to Dawn.
“What are you doing to them?” he asked. She smiled mysteriously as she plunged a stake into the vampire she was fighting.
“I’m showing them the way.” He ducked a punch and landed one of his own before muttering,
“Thanks for clearing that up. What about the other ones, the ones that don’t wander off all confused?” He blocked another punch and kicked the vampire in the gut. She turned to another vamp that didn’t appear to respond to “the way” and shot a bolt of sizzling electricity into him. He caught fire and turned to dust at the same time Spike dusted the one he was fighting. She smiled at him through the hazy cloud and said with some satisfaction,
“They die.” Spike nodded with a shrug and surged back into the fight.
The battle wore on and no matter how many vampires they killed there seemed to be more to replace them. Dawn and Spike were doing alright, but the others were slowly losing ground. Xander and Anya were barely holding off an attack while a group of vamps backed them into a corner. If Anya hadn’t had the flamethrower they’d be out of luck. Giles was faring only slightly better with his sword and tiring quickly. Willow was trying to wake an unconscious Tara while keeping the vampires at bay with a magical barrier. Dawn glanced over to where Spike was fighting off three vamps at once.
From the corner of her eye she saw a vampire coming up behind him quickly with a stake raised, ready to strike. She began to call out when suddenly Drusilla was there, her hand grasping the vampire’s wrist and halting the downward momentum of the stake. Dawn watched in astonishment as Dru effortlessly snapped the vamps wrist, twisting his arm so the stake pierced his own heart and he disappeared in a cloud of dust. Drusilla caught Dawn’s eye and smiled. Not the mad, gleeful grin she usually wore, but a smile of peace and contentment. Spike spun around and watched his former love in confusion, but Dawn understood and turned to watch as all the vampires affected by her touch joined in to fight alongside her and her friends. The tide had turned; the odds were definitely in their favor now.
Sorcha watched in shock as half her army turned against the other half. She didn’t understand what had happened but she knew it must be the work of that damn girl. Time to finish this, she decided, spotting Dawn in the crowd. Sorcha stalked toward the girl, shoving her way through the battle that raged around her. She noticed a fallen sword and picked it up without missing a step. The girl was fighting a vampire, seemingly unaware of the danger behind her; Sorcha smiled with anticipation as she raised the sword and prepared to strike. As she brought the sword down she was surprised by a kick to the gut; it was hard and quick and she stumbled back nearly dropping her weapon. She looked around swiftly, but didn’t see who had landed the blow. Sorcha glanced up as Dawn dusted the vampire and spun to face her with a grin.
“Thought I didn’t notice you, huh?” The grin widened as Dawn delivered a roundhouse kick to Sorcha’s head. This time she did drop the sword, but recovered quickly and blocked Dawn’s next attempt.
“You kicked me?” Sorcha blocked a punch and landed one of her own before receiving an elbow to the jaw.
“You’re not very stealthy; I didn’t even have to look,” Dawn taunted as she ducked the vampire’s kick. “You’re techniques not so great either.” Dawn stepped sideways kicking out and catching Sorcha in the hip, following it up with a quick one-two combination and another roundhouse. Sorcha had been caught off guard by the girl’s strength and skill, but as she recovered she began to block many of Dawn’s blows. When Sorcha received yet another kick to the head she became enraged. She knocked Dawn’s fists away and grabbed her by the throat, lifting her high with a crushing grip.
“I grow weary of this fighting; I think I’ll kill you now.” Dawn instinctively clawed at the hands cutting off her air supply as she began to panic. The battle around her seemed to move in slow motion as she fought to breathe. She saw Spike fighting a couple vamps with his back to her and closed her eyes briefly; her panic slowly subsided and she stopped the desperate movement of her hands. Sorcha smiled thinking the girl was losing consciousness, but when Dawn’s eyes opened and Sorcha met that steady gaze she was filled with a sense of foreboding.
Hands gripped her head suddenly and a burst of electricity coursed through her body. A scream was ripped from her throat as the pulse went on and on without end. Her flesh began to smoke although there was no fire and she couldn’t shake free of those tormenting hands; Sorcha decided it would be best to release the girl. As Dawn fell to the floor, she brought a hand down and slammed her palm into the vampire’s chest, delivering one last jolt that sent Sorcha flying backwards into a crate with enough force that it collapsed in around her. Dawn started over to finish her off, but was distracted from her task when another vampire attacked her. Soon she was back in the battle, too busy to think about the downed vampire.
It wasn’t long before they had gotten the best of the little vampire army. Many had been killed while some lay unconscious around the warehouse. Dawn and the others wandered around and dusted them. When they were through they all gathered around Dawn, watching the vampires that had helped them. Spike turned to Dawn, puzzled.
“Why did they help us?”
“I showed them the way and now they want me to free them,” Dawn said as Dru stood looking at her.
“Free them from what?” Xander asked.
“Their demon.” Spike looked at her in surprise as she walked over to Drusilla. Dawn reached her hand towards Dru, pausing to ask, “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes, please!” she whispered happily. Dawn put her hand on Drusilla’s forehead as she chanted,
“Abiungo. Eximo! Abiungo. Eximo!” A green light moved from Dawn’s hand and spread through Drusilla’s body; her head tilted back as her mouth opened in a silent cry and she began to convulse. The light spread and grew until it became blinding and they had to shield their eyes in pain. There was one last flash and then the light was gone and Drusilla’s body dropped to the floor. Spike turned to her in confusion.
“I separated her body from the demon possessing it and sent the demon back where it came from.”
“So she’s dead?” Anya asked. “I mean, actually dead.”
“Her human body and soul are at peace the way they should have been when she first died,” Dawn explained.
“But she wanted you to do that…whatever you just did; why would a vampire voluntarily release the body it inhabited?” Willow asked.
“It didn’t; I forced it out. Drusilla’s human mind allowed me to.” Dawn looked at Spike. “I told you I showed them the way, but all that really meant was that I gave them a reminder. A reminder of how things should be.”
“I’m lost,” Xander sighed.
“Do you mean you gave them their souls?” Giles asked.
“No, definitely not. I don’t have that kind of power. What I did was allow the demon to be suppressed enough for the human side to take over briefly.” She approached the rest of the vampires and repeated the process until they were all on the floor.
“What about-” Willow was interrupted when Dawn closed her eyes and waved her hands over the vampires causing them to disappear, “-the bodies?” They all turned to look at Dawn.
“What...where are they?” Tara asked.
They went back to Spike’s figuring Dawn’s place might need a little fixing up before it was livable again. Everyone was bruised and tired from the battle and a little shocked at what had happened. Dawn had healed their wounds, but a pervasive weariness still filled their bodies and it wouldn't quite go away. Spike held Dawn tightly in his arms that night as they lay in bed.
“Hell of a battle,” Dawn said tiredly. Spike nodded, brushing his chin against her hair.
“Why didn’t it affect all of them?” Spike asked curiously. Dawn turned to face him, caressing his jaw tenderly.
“Not all vampires have any humanity to reach. Those are the ones I can’t help.”
“Maybe you should have kept them around; they could have helped us in the fight. They sure as hell helped tonight.”
“It wouldn’t last forever; eventually the demon would take over again and continue to wreak havoc. They’re not like you. All of you decided to change, for them it was just a temporary fix.” She leaned up to kiss him gently, pulling back with a smile. “You’re unique.” They held each other silently for a moment until Dawn said solemnly, “It isn’t over, you know; it’ll never be over. More will come.”
“We’ll be ready,” Spike said confidently. “This is what we were meant to do, right?” He glanced down to see her nod in agreement and kissed her knowing whatever happened they would face it together. They always did.
In the middle of the warehouse a pile of rubble moved slightly suddenly flying in all directions as Sorcha managed to pull herself to her feet. She trembled as she looked around at the deserted building. Her army was gone, the only evidence that they ever existed a fine layer of dust covering the floor. A growl started low in her throat as she thought about what that bitch had taken from her. There was no option now. The girl had to die, and Sorcha would make that death a reality if it was the last thing she did. The growl rose to a deafening roar as her mouth twisted into a feral grin.