Spiegel Im Spiegel
Part Three: Contrast
He opened his eyes and saw light. Light everywhere, pouring onto every
surface and bringing all into harsh contrast. Light. It burned at his
The world was only black lines and dazzling, incomprehensible light.
It fell against his skin and made it crawl, like scores of tiny beetles
running up his body.
And there was the noise. Rushing, like a waterfall-- thunderous. Its
momentum raged and gathered, growing beyond all ability to understand. He
sensed the sounds within that horrible rushing-- sounds of splitting
asphalt and shattering brick.
Collapsing buildings. Trees uprooted. Moaning metal hinges.
Roaring. Mythic and beating wings. Human fear.
He moved his head. He saw some of the others, and struggled to process it,
bring his brain to harmony with what he saw. Their figures were like
negatives, brilliant and white, strange silhouettes of these children he
knew. One of them stepped forward, like a little stop-motion cartoon in
that moving, vibrant light. The groaning sound of metal continued, and he
saw her lips forming words as she moved.
"Spike!" she had cried out, breaking from Willow's side and rushing
forward. Through the haze of his vision, he saw Tara running towards him.
She was the only one that had noticed.
"Spike!" she called again, seizing his wrist. It was only then he realized
he was falling, sliding down as the asphalt beneath him broke off and began
to shift towards the black void he sensed at his back.
Of course it would be her. She's like that, in her quiet way. Always had
been. The good bird, the white witch. Any of the others would probably
have let him fall.
Probably. And she-- she was probably dead, now.
At the sensation of falling, he started violently. With instinctual speed,
he moved his other wrist to her arm, trying to push up with his feet, gain
purchase onto more stable ground. The tower above them was swaying, the
fault line a few feet away from him collapsing through the earth on which
it stood. The metal cried out like it was in pain.
She tugged on his arm, her little hands desperately tight on his wrist.
She wouldn't let go.
He became suddenly aware of living things inside the fissure beneath them.
Living creatures, moving and spilling over themselves in a giant
conglomeration. He could hear their cries. He tried to ignore their
strange, animalistic chirping as he struggled to escape. Those somethings--
a great and terrible mass of somethings, were waiting should he fall.
He focused on the white pain of his broken bones as he pushed forward--
white as the blinding light burning and twisting before them.
And the asphalt beneath him slid away in earnest, and Tara cried out as his
weight jolted her forward, towards the void. With a cry of exertion, Spike
pushed one last time against the hard surface, while it fell away from his
He found himself thrown forward onto Tara, an ungainly tangle of limbs
against the sickly edge of the rift. Her skin was warm and soft, her pulse
fluttering and terrified. There was a time he might have lingered on that,
savored it. Embraced the chaos.
But that was a thin game, a world fallen away. That horrible white light
cut through it as if it were nothing.
The chirping inside was growing in intensity, and he saw a steely grey,
spidery arm move against the rift's edge. He pulled Tara up, hurrying her
away from the unknowable brink.
And suddenly, the light grew a fraction brighter still, the roaring sound
of it a riot of blinding cacophony.
The temperature of the air suddenly dropped some thirty degrees.
Noises. The metal tower crashing into the void. The sounds of a million
whispering voices in a million languages. Prayers and curses and
lamentation. And roaring screams like the mobs at a soccer game, and dust
falling down from the sky in soft white masses.
And then it was all gone in a second.
The gloom was deafening in its empty darkness.
A feeble sound of crackling fire filled air that was now freezing cold.
Tara crouched beside him on the pavement. He could hear her ragged
breathing. The dull light made her skin look blue. The others were a
distance away, across a spider-web of cracks and fissures and broken earth.
He thought he could see Buffy, doubled over beside Giles, vomiting.
Tara's eyes were glazed with terror. And he suddenly realized Willow had
succeeded with her. She'd regained her sanity-- been cured.
And just in time.
Dust and ash fell into her light brown hair as the orange, smoky light
stretched over edge of his vision. He could smell a great deal of blood in
the unnaturally cold breeze.
They just stared, eyes wide.
He made no motion as she took his hand in fear, old conflicts and alliances
forgotten. She squeezed it tightly in her own.
He walked uphill on the worn road. Muddy ruts were frozen in place, snow
clustering in the recessed, dry cracks. The pale and meager vegetation
grew in tall bunches to the left and the right of the path. Behind him,
the expansive plains stretched out like a great ocean of grasses. When he
had intercepted the road, curving off into the distance, he knew his
journey was reaching the final stretch.
A chipmunk skittered across the mud, small and natural and good. It had a
clutch of food stored in its cheeks, and disappeared into the brush.
He wondered, for a moment, how much the chipmunk noticed the difference
between this and what had come before.
And suddenly, for no reason he could name, it made him wonder where Buffy
was. If she was allright.
The dull ache moved in him as he reached the crest of a hill. He stood and
looked down its long, graceful slope. Overhead, a crow flew, its wings a
quiet rustle against the soft wind.
The blue halfling-light fell on the frozen earth, shaped gently into hills
and valleys. It was harsh and barren, but he could see something in it--
something oddly tender. Something in the curves of the landscape seemed
made-- hand-carved. Sculpted.
And the hand that made it had dissolved into an ever present, flowing
energy, holding the creation together. Pure Spirit. Binding death to life
with its impersonal force.
He wondered, then, wherever she was-- he wondered if Buffy could sense that
green and writhing power-- the strength behind the long-haired girl who had
once spoken to him in tears-- once told him that she was evil.
He knelt a moment, against the earth, and brushed his fingers, almost
reverently, against the frozen clay of the road. Crumbling powder came off
on his fingers, and, as he rose, he rubbed his thumb against them softly,
feeling the grit move and shift on his fingertips.
And then, he heard a noise break the silence. His muscles tensed. Behind
him. He turned towards it, listening intently.
Further down, on the crossroads, he could hear it. The inevitable sounds
of attack. The cries and the shattering of wood.
He drew his dagger and stalked toward the sound, moving into the brush,
melding into the landscape.
Continued in Part Four: Moving