When Darkness Falls
By L.A. Ward and Sanguine
Chapter Six: Ouroborus and Macchiavelli
Spike paced up and down the sidewalk.†
He was only a block and a half away from the Council, but he couldnít bring
himself to turn the corner.† It wasnít that he hadnít made his decision.†
He was going to go.† He had to go.† Heíd given his word as a
=Bugger!=† Had he just thought that?
Spike stopped pacing and raked his hand
through his newly cropped and bleached hair.
Yes, he had thought that.
Spike rolled his eyes.† =Bloody hell.=
Thatís what a conscience did for you--made
you ignore your survival instincts, talked you into walking into a lionís
den because it was the 'right thing to do.'† It was bloody stupid.†
A vampire trusting the Council was stupid. Traditionally, what the Council
wanted was a vampireís dusty death.† And if the Council wanted something
*other* than his death, Spike suspected it would resemble Captain Cardboardís
Dr. Mengele medical experiments.†† Heíd have to be insane to
walk into something like that.
Then again, there was nothing the Council
could do to him that he didnít deserve. A killer with a survival instinct
was an obscenity.† After all the lives he had taken, what right did
he have to preserve his own life at anotherís expense? And Rupert had been
quite clear about the threats the Council had made in regards to Red.
=Oh bugger it all to hell.=† Spike
had been many things in his existence, but heíd never been a coward.†
He turned the corner.
"I wonít allow you to harm him."
Quentin Travers looked to find Rupert Giles
standing in his office doorway.† Surreptitiously, Travers moved a
stack of papers over the parchment lying unfurled in the center of his
desk. He clasped his hands together and gazed at Giles in a suitably attentive
manner.† "Is there something I can do for you, Rupert?† Some
fear you wish me to assuage?"
"Donít be coy.† Itís annoying."
Travers indicated the chair in front of
his desk.† "Do come in.† Sit down."
Giles entered the room but did not sit.†
Travers respected the tactics of such a move. His own seat behind the desk
was a power position.† By refusing to sit, Giles was refusing a subservient
"Quentin, I am uncertain of your ulterior
motives in this matter, but you clearly have them," Giles stated.†
"I do not know why you were so quick to agree to Lydiaís suggestion, but
I will tell you that I will not allow you to harm Spike."
"Are you protecting the vampires now?†
Have you changed allegiances?"
Gilesís gaze narrowed behind his glasses.
"Donít be ridiculous.† I simply have good manners.† You do not
harm creatures who are trying to help you.† It is unpardonably rude."
"Help?† Rupert, you do remember we
are discussing a vampire."
"Nevertheless, whatever Spikeís-ó" Giles
paused "--deficiencies, he is coming here at our request.† He chose
to do so of his own free will.† And as long as he poses no threat,
I will not see him abused."
"He has the blood of countless men on his
hands. Does that mean nothing to you?"
"I am neither naive nor a fool.††
Stop behaving as though I am.† Whatever Spikeís moral status, we do
*not* harm creatures who cannot defend themselves and who are not a menace
to society. We are not bullies, nor are we God.†† If Spike needs
to be killed because he is a danger those around him, we will kill him.†
But we do not ask for his help, request his trust, then harm him.†
It is not a matter of his moral status but ours."
Travers scratched his chin.† "And
if I agree to this request?"
"This is no request, and there is nothing
to agree to.† This is the way things are.† Accept it."
Knowing it would do no good to lose his
temper, Travers slowly counted to ten as Giles left the room.† First
and foremost, Travers needed to stay in control.† The head of the
Council always needed to be in control.†† Rupert Giles didnít
fully comprehend that fact.
Travers pushed aside ordinary business
papers to uncover the aged, yellowed parchment he had stretched across
his desk. It wasnít the original document.† It was a twelfth-century
translation of an ancient Philistine scroll that was locked in the Councilís
secret vault.† Travers had seen the original manuscript, but as far
as he knew, he was the only living soul who had.† It contained the
Councilís most guarded secret.† A secret that the head of the Council
was sworn to protect at all costs.
Travers pushed his chair away from his
desk, stood and crossed the room to stare at the garden below.† A
copy of Macchiavelliís 'Il† Principe' sat on the table next to the
window.† He had been re-reading it recently and had decided the Italian
thinker had been unfairly demonized.† Macchiavelli had not been a
villain but a pragmatist.† A rulerís task was to survive in the face
of harsh realities.† In order to succeed, rule must be absolute and
ruthless.† Any means were justified to maintain authority.† This
had been the credo of Travers's career.† How could a field Watcher
such as Rupert Giles ever understand?
A field Watcher had the luxury of affection.†
He had only one chargeó-his Slayer-óand one goaló-to save the world.†
The head of the Council had a far more difficult task.† He had to
preserve the future and the unity of the organization.† He had to
Unwillingly Travers's gaze drifted to the
illuminated parchment. Depicted on the upper left hand corner was a dragon
biting its own tail, devouring itself. It was an ouroborus, a symbol common
to many cultures.† Sometimes it was a dragon.† Sometimes it was
a snake.† In Hindu texts the dragon circled a tortoise which supported
four elephants which formed the foundation of the world.† Many meanings
were attributed to the symbol.† Some believed it to represent the
gateway between this universe and the absolute.† Some interpreted
it as the relentless onslaught of entropy, and others saw it as an island
in the river of time.† In this manuscript it meant destruction and
death.† It meant the end of the world. . .which was the crux of Travers's
His job was to protect the Council and
its secrets at all costs, but there would be no Council to protect if this
truly was the end of the world.† And what if he revealed what was
in the scroll?† What if he broke his oath to keep the secret and the
world survived but the Council did not?
There had to be another way.† There
had to be a way to bring pertinent information to light without resorting
to the scroll and its secrets.
A knock on the door caused Travers to cover
the parchment again.† "Come in."
Alex Kingsley opened the door.† "The
vampire is here," the young Watcher announced with a curious mixture of
interest and distaste.† "Heís downstairs."
"I will be along in a moment."
Once alone, Travers carefully returned
the parchment to his personal safe.† It had been uncannily fortuitous
that Lydia Grant had requested permission to interview this particular
vampire.† She had stumbled upon a possible solution to Traversís problem.
"Ew!"† The disgust in Dawnís voice
only partially reflected the disgust on her face, which was vividly expressed
with a scrunched nose and curled lip. She stared at the dark crimson slime
lining the walls of the sewer.
Buffy aimed her flashlight at her sister
and said impatiently,† "Dawnie, if you want to come on patrol you
canít complain about every littleó"† Her foot slid in red muck as
the broadsword she carried clattered to the ground. "óew!"
"See!" Dawn caught up to Buffy and Xander
who had been several yards ahead of her.†† "Iím am *so* not a
wuss.† Itís just icky down here." She waved her hand under her nose.†††
Xander nodded. "Iím gonna side with the
Dawnster on this one.† Icky and rank† plus Ďew,í Ďgross,í and
remind me again why weíre doing this?"
Buffy picked up her sword and gazed at
her friend with disbelief. "Uh, hello! Blood red water usually rates on
the Ďgee, whatís that aboutí scale."
"Oh, Iím all up on the Biblical ickiness,"
Xander assured her.† "But shouldnít we be looking where the water
comes from not where it goes to?"
Dawn nodded eagerly.† "Right, we should
be at a water treatment plant or reservoir or something.† Iím voting
for a reservoir. Then we could have swimsuits and sunblock, and work on
those summer tan lines."
Buffy asked, "And when has evil ever come
from a reservoir? Gotta look in the stinky, yucky places for theó"†
Something scurried across the beam of light cast by her flashlight.†
"Whatís what?"† The light from Xanderís
flashlight bounced wildly across the walls.
"There, that."† She grabbed Xander's
hand and aimed his flashlight. Whatever it was jumped back into the darkness.†
"Ugh!† Where did it go?"
There was a wet, smacking sound as it ran
across the muck, and Buffy decided she'd willingly to sacrifice her DMP
paycheck to see what it was.† She felt a hand twisting the back of
"Buffy?"† Dawn said anxiously.
"Wait! There!" Buffy aimed her light down
the pitch-black passageway to illuminate a moist-skinned, foot-and-a-half-high
Xander said, "Looks like a gremlin."
Buffy frowned.† "Gremlin like the
Spielberg movie or Gremlin like something Giles would look up in a book?"
"Like Spielberg." His gaze never left the
Buffy tilted her head slightly to one side.†
"Really?† ĎCause Iím thinking it looks more like the little dinosaur
that spit on Newman, the Seinfeld guy, in Jurassic Parkó-only without the
multi-colored fan thing, the spit. . .or the Seinfeld guy."
Dawnís jaw dropped.† "Youíre kidding,
right?† Youíve got to be kidding."† She swiveled her own flashlight
in the direction of the green-tinged demon standing in a puddle of dark
crimson slime.† "Heís an evil Kermit the frog!"
"How do you know itís evió-"
Dawnís screamed as the creature launched
itself into the air.†† "Kill it!" she cried as it landed near
her feet. "Kill it now!"
Buffy pushed her sister out of the way
as the demon again hurtled itself, spread eagled, toward Dawn.
"Evil," Xander said breathlessly.††
Dawn hit the ground and skidded across
the slime.† Even Buffy lost her balance, slipping, then regaining
her footing.† "But itís so little," she said.† "I could kill
it like--" Buffy sliced off the creatureís head with a single stroke of
her broadsword.† "óthat."† Buffy looked at Dawn and Xander.†
"That was sort of easy."
Dawn examined her hands and shirt.†
She was completely covered in the blood-colored ooze. "This is never coming
out." She looked at the headless green corpse then at her sister.†
"Easy is good, right?
"Of course it is."
Xander frowned.† "Um. . .maybe not."
Buffy turned to see the decapitated demon
growing a new head. . .a meaner-looking one.
Xander backed away.† "Thatís not good."
"Why didnít cutting off its head kill it?"
"Maybe we should worry about that later."
"Buffy. . ." Dawn said anxiously.
"Think about it when, Xander?† We
need to kill it now."
"Buffy. . . "
Xander looked at Buffy.† "Okay, we
need to kill it.† Any idea how?"
"We could set if on fire. Got a match or
"Yeah, sure. 'Cause I carry those around
for all the cigarettes I don't smoke."
"Buffy!" Dawn cried.
"It brought friends."
Buffy became aware of the thousand iridescent
points of light glittering in the darkness, little green-gold eyes blinking
"Crap!"† Xander swore.† "Theyíre
In a way, it was pretty, like twinkling
Christmas lights.† It even had a nice glittery effect on the slime.†
But the pretty factor was mostly nixed by the spooky 'I think they want
to kill us' vibe.
"Now what?" Dawn asked as the Evil Kermit
with the brand new head started chattering. It was a high-pitched staccato
sound.† Dawn clapped her hands over her ears as Buffy longed for ear
plugs.† Unfortunately -- damn, Slayer duty!--† she was stuck
holding a dumb sword. When the Evil Kermit moved, Buffy lunged, stabbing
it through the center of its little chest.† It gave an unearthly scream
of pain, but when Buffy pulled her sword free the thing stood there unharmed.†
It even looked kind of amused.
"Crap," Xander said again as the blinking
creatures in the darkness also started making the deafening sound.
Dawn swallowed.† "What are we gonna
The chattering grew louder and closer as
Buffy touched her sisterís shoulder in a vain effort to comfort her.†
"I donít know."
"I know," Xander said as the noise reached
an eardrum bursting decibel.† "Thereís only one thing to do."
Chattering and hissing, the creatures attacked
as Buffy, Xander, and Dawn careened down the passageway. The little monsters
were everywhere, and the ear-splitting sound was enough to make heads pound,
eyesight go blurry, and inner ears feel like they were being stabbed with
"This is *so* not good. Not good at all,"
Xander chanted as they rounded a corner.
"Where are we going?" Buffy asked.
Dawn warned, "Theyíre gaining on us."
Xander glanced back.† "Look at that.†
Itís CGI madness.† Looks like the beetle swarm in The Mummy."
"Uh. . .yeah. . .only† itís evil Kermits.
We've got to get out of here."
Buffy stopped running and took several
swipes at the demons with her sword. She decapitated at least a half a
dozen of them.† Blood splattered against the wall, mingling indistinguishably
with the sewer slime.
"That only slows them down, Buff," Xander
"You prefer they eat you faster?"
Dawn interrupted, "Hereís a thought. Youíre
the Slayer. *Kill* them!"
"I donít know how!"
"Quick! In here!"† Xander ducked into
six-foot-high pipe shooting off the main passageway.† Buffy and Dawn
followed, and he closed the grate behind them.
Dawn leaned against the wall and tried
to catch her breath. "How can you not know how to kill them?"
"Decapitating, skewering, poking with a
stick, this I know.† Anything more complicatedó"
"Was Gilesís job." Xander doubled over
Buffy admitted, "I was never big with the
knowledge and research."
Dawn blinked.† "So youíre saying weíre
Buffy hated to confess the awful truth.
"We donít know how to kill them."
"Weíre screwed."† Dawn closed her
eyes and sighed.† "What we need are smart people."
"I am not Louis," Spike protested as he
looked at the array of faces surrounding him.† The bird interviewing
him was nice enough, and Rupes and Will were familiar faces-óalthough Spike
was a bit surprised the Council allowed Willow to be out and about--but
the half-dozen strangers in the Councilís library stared at him with cold
eyes and treated him like a snake in the reptile house at the zoo.††
"Louis was a whining, moaning, brooding wanker.† If I have to be compared
to a character in that loony bintís books then at least make it Lestat."†
He crossed his arms and gave a good impression of a pout.† "The poofter
can be Louis.
Lydia adjusted her glasses.† "So,
you have read the books."
Spike eyed her suspiciously.† "Yeah.
What of it?† Lot of time to kill during the day.† I have sunlight
issues, you know."
"It has been widely speculated that you
"What?!"† Spike felt outraged.†
He had attended Charterhouse and Cambridge. . .or at least, William had.†
But he was William. . .wasn't he?† Bloody hell, he wasn't sure who
he was any more.
"Oh, yes." Lydia nodded.† "I am afraid
so.† In some of our texts it is theorized that as a human you were
a Dickensian Artful Dodger-type-óunschooled except by the streets and very
possibly a killer even before your transfiguration."
"Unschooled?† Illiterate?"† Spike
fixated on this point.† Either his underlying persona or the translucent
overlay of Williamís soul was deeply offended.† Spike stood and paced
the length of the library.† Watchers scattered out of his way like
pigeons on a sidewalk.† "If I am so bloody ignorant, how did I translate
the texts to resurrect the Judge?"
Lydia looked flustered.† "I. . .uh.
. .believe you had a minion by the name of-ó"
"Dalton?! Debase-the-beef-canoe Dalton?†
His Latin wasnít worth sh-óum... it was lousy."† Spike collapsed into
the chair on the opposite side of the library table from Lydia.† "Although
it wasnít truly Latin.† It was a demonic derivative."
Giles, who sat at the head of the table,
coughed.† "I believe I can verify that Spike is not illiterate, though
he frequently exhibits abysmal taste in reading material."† Giles
addressed Lydia and the other observers.† "I can testify that Spike
has an impressive knowledge of Shakespeare and Donne and can read Latin."
Giles looked at Spike.† "When you sought the general reversal spell
for Willowís ĎWill Be Doneí mishap, you referenced my Latin texts."†
Giles focused on Lydia.† "I have also found Spike to be conversant
in Fyarl, French, Italian, and Spanishó-though sadly that last discovery
was due to Spikeís penchant for watching soap operas on Spanish Univision."
Spike nodded.† "Right.† Not illiterate."†
He didnít add that he could also read Greek and speak conversational German,
Nyar, Farquart, and Trombli.
Lydia looked almost smug as she peeked
up at Alex Kingsley.† "I theorized as much in chapter five of my thesis."†
Kingsley huffed and walked to the back of the room to stare out the window
as Lydia folded her hands and returned her attention to Spike.† "Is
there anything else you can tell us about your human existence?"
"No, there bloody well is not.† What
does it matter?† I thought Council dogma said I never was human.†
Iím what killed this body."
Spike had always thought the Council were
wankers for believing such rubbish.† How could he have killed William
when he was William?† The only life he remembered was Williamís. The
memories hadnít come with the soul. They were *his,* his thoughts and knowledge,
his weaknesses and desires. What William had felt, he felt. And what was
he if not the sum of his thoughts and emotions?
The only difference that Spike felt was
that prior to the return of his soul, he had lacked Williamís conscience.
The only difference William had felt after Dru had turned him had been
surcease of embarrassment and shame.† But surely there was more.†
There had to be something more. Spike couldn't name what it was, but it
had to exist. . .didn't it?† There had to be more to a man than his
regrets and remorse.† There had to be more to William and to Spike
than a guilty conscience.
Sitting across the table from Giles, Quentin
Travers looked impatient with the growing silence.† "Miss Grant, perhaps
you should return to the approved list of questions."
"Oh yes.† Quite." She shuffled through
her papers, then adjusted her glasses and looked at Spike.† "Your
"What about it?"
She fiddled nervously with one of the papers.†
"There seems to be some controversy."
Spike smiled; it was a deliberate, charmerís
smile devoid of any real happiness because he had none.† But he did
know how to fake it.† "What do you have there, pet?"
She handed him the document that looked
like a diagrammed family tree.† "There is some confusion about your
"No confusion.† It was Drusilla."
"But in some accounts itís listed as Angelus."
Spike sniffed.† "Angelus liked to
consider himself my mentor in the ways of the evil dead. Called him my
Yoda once."† Mmm...you will kill this person, you will.† Feel
the evil.† Feel it flow through you.
~A real kill, a good killóit takes artistry.~
Spike had hated the bastard even then.
Angelus had counseled targeting innocents and those without protection.†
Spike hadn't seen the purpose of it all. If it wasn't about food, the challenge
facing down death, or fun...why bother?† Looking back, both Angelus's
and his own tactics sickened the person Spike was now.
"Angelus was never my sire," Spike dismissed.
"Donít know how that rumor got started."† He examined the diagrammed
family tree.† "Itís very simple.† You have the Master.†
Met him once.† He was an annoying pillock. The Master sired Darla.†
Darla sired Peaches.† Peaches tortured and killed Dru, drove her mad
and turned her into a travesty.† And Dru chose yours truly.†
Thereís your bloodline."
"What about the Anointed One?" Lydia asked.
"What about him? He toasted quite nicely
when I hoisted him into the sun."
"And the Master sired him?"
"None other.† Theyíre both dust."
"And no one else?"
Spike frowned.† "Excuse me?"†
Damn, the prat he used to be kept coming out to play.† He lifted his
chin defiantly.† "What are you wantin' to know?"
Lydiaís gaze fell to the table.† She
looked intimidated by Spikeís glare.† He felt bad about that.†
He softened his voice.† "What do you want to know, luv?"
"Have *you* sired anyone?"
That surprised him.† "Me? No."
Giles looked irritated.† "If you are
not going to tell the truth, Spike, this is pointless."
Spikeís ill-fitting conscience balked at
being called a liar.† He had always been a bad liar, but now he was
actually *bothered* by the thought of lying or being thought a liar.†
"And what, pray tell, am I lying about?"† Bloody hell, he even *sounded*
Giles sighed.† "Buffyís friend, Ford."
"Oh. Him. No, that was Dru.† Pet wanted
him for a treat.† Never could deny her anything.† Donít know
what the boy was thinking. Demanding to be turned like that was idiotic.
After double-crossing Buffy, did he actually believe she would allow him
to walk away?† He was dust even before his heart stopped beating."
"And your various and sundry minions?"
That was a distant memory.† He hadn't
had a minion in years.† "Told you.† Druís treat.† Look,
I realize itís a technicality.† I usually brought the unfortunates
to her.† Not saying I wasnít responsible, just that *technically*
I never sired anyone.† Only one person I ever offered to turn."†
He looked at Willow.† "That would be you, Red." =Iím sorry. Truly
sorry.= "But youíre sitting here among the living.† Iím no oneís sire."
Spike leaned back in his chair, propping
his feet on the highly polished walnut table as a couple of Watchers stared
at him with dismay and Quentin Travers watched him with disgust.†
Spike smirked.† "Anything else you want to know?"
Lilah caught him looking in her date book.
Wesley had been spying, curious, invading her privacy. . .all of the above.
Wesley knew he should feel ashamed.†
Ten minutes ago they had been sweaty, naked, and intimate.† His fingertips
had traced the line of her spine, feeling the warm velvet of her skin.†
Her thighs had pressed against his hips, holding him tightly.† They
had shuddered and gazed into each other's eyes--then looked away.†
He had rolled off her and silent minutes had passed.† They hadn't
Lilah had been the first to choose to leave.
Wesley, who once would have expected Lilah† to be bold, had watched
her don her discarded blouse before she rose from the bed to walk into
the bathroom. It could have been an action born of modesty, but Wesley
suspected it was a symbolic barrier between them.† Their intimacy
was only physical.
Lilah had closed the bathroom door behind
her, and when Wesley had heard the sound of water running, he had grabbed
her briefcase.† He had rummaged through her things searching for.
Wesley didn't know what he had hoped to
find.† Something.† Anything.† Perhaps it didnít matter.†
Perhaps all he had wanted to do was violate her privacy, betray her non-existent
trust.† He had found her datebook and begun turning the pages only
to look to find Lilah standing in the bathroom doorway, her slender body
clad in an expensive white lace bra and French knickers.
Refusing to be flustered, Wesley adopted
an insolent expression. He showed her the ouroborus symbol.† "Whatís
She smiled. It was a cool and challenging
expression.† "Donít you know?"
"Ouroborus.† Symbol of light and dark,
creation and destruction."
"The end of the world."† Lilah walked
into the room, her languorous movements distracting and seductive.†
"Wesley, after all these years of looking at dusty scrolls, surely youíve
seen the prophecy of the End of Days."
"A partial one," he conceded.† "I
believe we stole it from your law firm.† You remember that, don't
Lilah's expression became remote. "I remember."
"Something of a defeat, wasn't it?"†
His hand lightly skimmed up her arm.
"Lost the battle, not the war."† She
shrugged.† "Doesn't change anything."
"Mmm. . .after all there are so many prophecies
"But only one End of Days," she reminded
him. "Only one day when the calendar runs out."
Wesley looked at the depiction of a snake
swallowing its tail.† "A rather morbid symbol to keep around."
"Keeps me sharp.† Keeps me on my toes."†
Lilah threaded her fingers through his hair.† "Reminds me of whatís
"What is important?í
"What I want when I want it."† She
knelt on the bed, her right calf pressing against the outside of his left
thigh.† "Instant gratification."† Her left calf glided against
his right thigh.† "Money.† Power.† Prestige."† She
straddled him.† "Sex."
"Eat, drink, and merry?"
"Something like that."† Lilah pressed
him back against the pillows.
"And what then?"† Wesley rested his
hands on her hips.† "What of true value have you gained?"
She laughed.† "Youíre thinking like
the good guys.† Iím not a good guy."† She nuzzled his neck.†
"What will I gain?† I told you.† Money, power."† Her teeth
nipped lightly at his earlobe. "Sex," she whispered.
Wesley glanced at the datebook lying open
on the bed.† "You canít take it with you."
"And what can you take with you?"†
She tossed the datebook into her open briefcase then settled on his lap,
her damp silk knickers rubbing against him.† "Did I ever tell you
about Wolfram and Hart's retirement plan?† Itís quite. . ."†
She smiled into Wesley's eyes. "Impressive."
He moved his hands from her hips, to her
waist, to her rib cage.
She shifted her weight. "There is something
to be said about making pacts with the eternal forces of darkness."
Wesley found the clasp of her bra.
The garment fell away as Lilah told him,
"Wolfram and Hart employees have nice golden parachute plans with the darker
"Better to rule in hell, I suppose."
His lips brushed her collar bone. "Mmm-hmmÖ"
Lilah sat back.† "Donít be judgmental."
"You donít honestly believe evil things
keep bargains, do you?"† Wesley gripped her waist firmly.† "They
donít honor agreements."† He tossed her over and moved quickly so
that he was on top of her.† "Surely someone like you understands that."
"What I understand is that you canít trust
anyone.† Evil things donít make good friends or keep promises?"†
She laughed.† "And the warriors of† light do?†† Look
at yourself, Wesley.† Where are your do-good friends?† What did
trying to save the world and Angel's son do for you?† Did it bring
you happiness?† Respect?† Friendship? . . .Love?† Did they
keep their promises to you?"
He grabbed her hands and dragged them over
her head. "It brought me one thing."
Only what was between them wasn't even
sex.† It was something else, a guttural four letter word.† A
word he had been taught a gentlemen did not use to describe his activities
with a ladyÖ only Lilah was no lady, and Wesley no longer considered himself
Continued in Chapter Seven: In Need and In Deed