All About Spike
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Spiegel Im Spiegel
By Fallowdoe

Part Five: Slayer

"My heart with the barrier, my mind with the key... my heart with the barrier, my mind with the key..."

She whispered the words over and over, legs folded beneath her. The dark night pressed close on all sides, and little flickers of movement flashed through her peripheral vision.

Stay calm, just stay calm-- concentrate and be calm...

"My heart with the barrier, my mind with the key... my heart with the barrier, my mind with the key..."

She tried to blot everything else from her mind, strained and struggled to ignore the violence of the attack. Tried to ignore the sobbing of a child beside her, and the figures of her other companions, crouching low, curled up in the old, rusty flatbed they'd taken apart and shaped to a horsecart when gasoline became impossible to find. The creatures outside, unable to kill the human travelers within, had already killed the horses.

She needed to stay calm, and her magical barrier would remain. They couldn't get in-- they couldn't get in, they could only throw things and shout with their horrible, distorted faces and pearly fangs.

"My heart with the barrier, my mind with the key... my heart with the barrier, my mind with the key..."

A translucent, green arch of energy covered the space from the walls of the flatbed. The dome was impassable, so long as she concentrated. So long as she chanted. An adept could hold it with mere will... but she was only learning. Only learning. Everything depended on her. Everyone around her depended on this.

She needed to concentrate on the casting...

And she wasn't very good at it. Casting spells... like any art, if you don't pick it up young, the chances of mastery fade away fast. And she was far from young now, fading into the tail end of a middle age that had felt much like the dull and drab darkness around them.

The flatbed lurched and fell suddenly at one corner, collapsing and pitching itself into a sharp angle. They were all thrown sideways and towards the earth with the impact. The others lunged to cling to her, trying to hold her steady. The sound of twisting metal split through the air.

They were pulling it apart... they were pulling it apart piece by piece...

"Oh my God..." a man beside her whispered, looking up through the slightly greenish barrier to see the vampires, now working on the second wheel. Their shapes were phantasmagoric silhouettes, illuminated by the green glow of the spell, shapes leering out of the black night darkness.

One of them smiled at him through the barrier.

She bit her lip, her greying hair falling over her face as she looked down into her lap. Concentration... she had to concentrate.

"My heart with the barrier, my mind with the key... my mind with the ba-- with the--"

The protection faltered a moment, and the dome above them flickered like bad television reception. She gasped, a tear running down her face as she quickly suppressed her fear and started again.

"My heart wtih the barrier, my mind with the key... my heart with the barrier, my mind with the key..."

---

He replaced the dagger with which he'd approached, and drew the sword from his side. He closed his eyes a moment in preparation, and then sprung onto the road in a fluid motion.

A shape moving next to him. A swift coup de grace. The first was dust before it hit the floor.

The second rushed him, running full tilt towards him with the bloodlust in his eyes. A stake deftly materialized in his free hand and it was gone. He turned to the others.

He moved as one with his blade, ducking to miss a blow and sweeping out with the brilliant metal. His veins surged with a sense of life, and he pushed onwards through the throng. He was awake. He was here. He was awake and this was real. These were the only times he felt at peace.

It had always been this way. He remembered it through the recesses of his movement-- action and reaction. Every long fight, stretching past into the heady mist of his memory. So much he remembered.

Drusilla, and chaos. The strength in his arms, the speed in his legs. Desperate brawls, back to the wall-- twisting little alleyways in Prague, Angelus laughing bitterly, bloody nose running. Balance and tempo. An empty subway car. Counter attack, second intention. The final gasp. Feint and defense. The perfection of instinct. The white noise of the moment. Deadly dance, jibes and blows. And Buffy.

And Buffy.

The fast hum of the conflict was moving like electric jolts through his arms, letting the long years of muscle-memory carry his actions faster than his conscious mind could process.

There was silence in that mind while the violence raged without. It was calm-- a perfect calm flooded through with the strange fire of exhilaration. Like the distant sunshine dancing on moving water. It was what made him alive with existence-- made him aware he really even existed at all.

Buffy probably wouldn't approve of that.

He yelled aloud, a formless, feral sound that echoed and twisted in the night. And he moved through the throng, rolling to miss an attack, falling gracefully and springing up like a wild cat in the hunt.

---

They clutched close to each other, hiding their eyes from the conflict without. The novice witch whispered her mantra, and they concentrated their attention on it. The words kept them safe.

They heard a strange yell outside the broken cart. It sounded like a wild creature in pain. And the inevitable, pressing sounds of terrible violence mingled with the harsh gasps of their breathing.

---

Quickly as it was started, it was done.

He walked away, down the road. He didn't know why he did it-- why he intervened. But he always, inevitably did. He took the dangerous roads, sought out the raiders and killers where they'd hunt. He didn't know why. He thought that, maybe, he should try to feel connected to them. But that simply wasn't the way of it, for him.

It wasn't about their distress-- that wasn't why he did it. It was something in him. Perhaps the thin platitudes had rubbed off more than he knew. Perhaps he hoped that, one day, he'd spring to the rescue, and find Buffy there first, fighting the fight she'd taught him. And perhaps it was the light spinning out around him, the fissures of green energy that pervaded everything he saw and knew. She was there. She was always there.

Dawn was watching him.

---

The night filled with a profound silence. A cold breeze floated over their refuge. The witch's green barrier swiftly faded to nothing, its purpose complete.

And a woman of twenty stood up on the shaky, slanted surface of the broken flatbed. She gazed out over the frozen road, and saw the receding figure where it walked away with such a towering, fluid confidence. Her eyes grew bright with a strange combination of awe and tears. The wind blew her hair back, throwing it away from her face, and her cheeks were bright and flushed with the cold.

"It's him..." she whispered, her tone hushed, reaching with one arm out into the night, "The Slayer of Evil..."

---


Continued in Part Six: The Orphaned Forest

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