::waves to Lis::
The lovely Richard helped beta this part. Poor guy sat through numerous rewrites, and didn't run screaming when I kept making the same mistakes. He deserves a hug. :)
More parts will come, as they are finished.
For several minutes Angel ignored the pounding on his door. He had been sitting in the same position for hours just thinking. He wasn’t sorry about his feelings towards Spike, he had never liked Spike and wasn’t about to start now, but the pained look in Faith’s eyes gave Angel pause. He didn’t understand how she could ever identify with the monster Spike was. He was evil, this Angel knew for a fact. It had been his soulless half that had taught Spike everything he knew about being a vampire. Faith was a slayer, a chosen warrior for the Powers and therefore inherently good. Angel just wished she could see, because he was positive once she did, Faith would get over the silly notion she had anything in common with Spike.
As the pounding at his door grew more insistent, Angel exhaled a weary sigh and slowly climbed to his feet. Reaching the door he made sure to give no warning before pulling the door open and glaring at the harried figure of one Xander Harris.
“What?” Angel growled, clearly not in the mood for whatever it was Xander needed to tell him.
“Shove the attitude Evil-No-Longer-Dead,” Xander snapped. “Buffy wanted me to tell you, out of courtesy only, that Dawn’s been taken…”
“Dawn!” Angel yelled as he roughly shoved Xander out of his way and closed the door to his room. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was trying to! But someone thought that brooding was more important than answering his door,” Xander grumbled. “And what part of ‘this is only a courtesy’ did you not get?”
“Pfft!” Angel snorted with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Dawn needs help so it’s obvious that Buffy will want me there.”
“It’s your funeral.” Xander muttered as he rolled his eyes at Angel’s rapidly disappearing form. Grumbling under his breath, Xander quickly picked up his pace as he followed the overconfident man back to Giles’ room.
“But Buffy,” Angel whined. “You’ll need me.”
“No Angel,” Buffy said as she turned to look him in the eyes. “I won’t. Wills are you ready?”
“Yep.” Willow replied. She was standing near the scorch mark left on the carpet from Dawn’s departure. From there she was going to use the residual energy to open a portal, enabling them to go into the same world apparently both Spike and Dawn now resided in.
“Buffy,” Faith called as soon as she came through the doors. “I’ve got everything packed and ready.”
Looking over the crowded room, Buffy took a deep breath and launched in on her preplanned speech.
“Alright everyone, listen up. This is a search and rescue mission that involves going to another dimension. All we know is somebody on that world took Dawn and because of this we think they may have Spike as well. We do not know what type of world this place is nor do we know who the good guys or the bad guys are. This place could be filled with fluffy little kitties for all we know, though I seriously doubt it. Now Faith, Xander, Willow, and I are definitely going. For the slayers who are staying, Kennedy is flying in as we speak with another group of slayers to help out anyone who stays behind with Giles. We only have nine of these nifty crystal necklaces, and since four are taken, that means only three places remain since the last two are for Spike and Dawn. And to explain these in more detail I’ll let Willow take over.”
“Okay see these necklaces?” Willow asked as she held hers up. “Giles, the Coven, and I managed to tie their energy to this world, sort of like a homing beacon. To activate the spell all you have to do it hold it in your hand, concentrate, and say “home”. Hopefully these will work and bring you back here. But you need to know there is a chance they won’t work and we could all wind up stuck in a foreign dimension.”
“Are we clear?” Buffy asked as her eyes scanned the occupants of the room.
“Buffy, I’m going,” Angel stated once there was a lull in the conversation.
“No B,” Faith interrupted. “Let him come. It’s his fault this whole mess got started in the first place.”
“No it’s not! I did not force anybody to fight alongside me against Wolfram and Hart,” Angel cried out in denial.
“Maybe you didn’t but from what I’ve gathered you didn’t really give them much of a choice either,” Faith snapped back, not willing to let Angel pass off blame for what was happening.
“They knew exactly what they were walking into,” Angel objected, his anger rising. “They could have walked away at anytime.”
“Really?” Faith sneered. “And leave their ‘friend’ to battle the armies of Wolfram and Hart all on his own? Not likely. I know for a fact none of them would have done that!”
“They chose to fight!” Angel yelled once more as he stood nose to nose with Faith.
“You led them into a slaughter!” Faith screamed back. “And now Wesley’s dead because of you! They’re all dead because of you!”
“Don’t you think I know that!” Angel shouted in response. Lowering his voice Angel continued in a harsh whisper. “I have to live with the fact that if I hadn’t taken Wolfram and Hart’s deal they might all still be alive. But what other choice did I have? Connor…he was going to kill himself and Cordelia was gone…I had no choice! The least I could do was take out the Senior Partners when I had the chance.”
“Then why didn’t you call?” Faith asked, her own voice having lowered. “You know we would have helped.”
“I was told we were no longer trusted.” Angel responded his words containing a bitter edge.
“We didn’t trust Wolfram and Hart,” Buffy said as she turned to face her former boyfriend. “That had nothing to do with you.”
“Speak for yourself,” Xander muttered loudly. Seeing the glares being sent his way, Xander held up his hands in a sign of surrender. “Hey! I never liked the guy and never will. That’s why I leave the big apocalyptic decisions to you guys.”
“Look, when Andrew was in L.A…” Angel began only to be interrupted by loud choking noises coming from Xander.
“You took Andrew’s word at face value? Please!” Buffy said as she waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. “Andrew exaggerates everything and you know that. If you had wanted the real scoop you should have just called.”
“I did,” Angel snarled. “Giles refused to help.”
“Ummm…Angel,” Willow said softly, gaining the former vampire’s attention. “We did help.”
“Giles said you were busy on the astral realm and couldn’t be interrupted.”
“I was,” Willow confirmed. “See the Coven’s Seers felt it when Illyria was released and with their help I was trying to find a way to save Fred’s soul and we did. We managed to pull her soul out before it could be completely burned up.”
“Fred’s in heaven Angel,” Buffy finished, her voice soft and filled with memories of peace.
“Then why didn‘t…” Angel stammered. Eyes shooting to Buffy he pointed an accusing finger in her direction. “You knew Spike and I were in Rome! You could have said something then but you were too busy partying with the Immortal. Then after the battle you still didn’t say anything.”
“I was busy trying to figure out how to kill him,” Buffy countered. “Turns out he’s was not as immortal as he liked to think.”
“There was also the shock of hearing about the battle itself, not to mention the ‘everyone is dead but me even if I have no proof’ speech.” Xander interjected on his friend’s behalf.
“You still should have called,” Willow said, her voice carrying a soft reprimand.
“But he didn’t,” Faith replied her voice cracking slightly. “And now they’re all gone.”
Taking the necklace from Buffy, Faith turned back to look Angel in the eyes.
“Now you get a chance to try and make things right,” Faith said as she placed the necklace in his large hand. “Starting by helping us save Spike and Dawn.”
“Okay,” Angel agreed sounding more subdued than any of them had ever heard.
“Now that that’s settled who’s next?” Buffy asked as she pointedly changed the subject. “Only two more left.”
Not surprisingly it was Vi and Rona who stepped forward to take the last two necklaces.
“Spike saved our asses in Sunnydale. Now it’s our chance to save his,” Rona said with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
“I guess that’s everyone,” Buffy said and with a final look around the room she quickly picked up one of the large packs they were taking with them, signaling for the others to do the same.
Soon everyone was in their place and with a slight nod in Willow’s direction the spell to take them from their home and into a foreign and possibly hostile world began.
Snow was falling in big white flakes, sticking to everything it
touched. The ground had become extremely slippery and the path nearly
impossible to follow. The howling wind did not help as it created snowdrifts that were already knee-deep and getting higher. According to Einarr such was life in the mountains and only to be expected.
“Missing your horse already my friend?” Einarr chuckled as he heard Spike’s loud swearing coming from behind him. Casting a quick glance over his shoulder, Einarr’s laughter grew louder as he witnessed Spike’s frantic movements. He was trying to brush away a glob of snow that had landed on his head; and having very little success in his endeavor.
“Bloody hell, no!” Spike yelled while wiping more snow from his face. “Damn thing liked to bite me. You sure I can‘t bribe your friend back at the stables? Maybe he could have it turned into paste?”
“I‘m sorry Spike but that‘s not possible,” Einarr answered as he shook his head in amusement. “You’ll undoubtedly need the horse again at some point in our journey.”
“You’re not sorry, you just like seeming me get bit. Besides, I don‘t need that bloody horse, I‘ve got Draco.” Spike grumbled as more snow was blown down the back of his cloak. Despite the thick fur-lined wrap given to him for this journey, Spike was still cold and miserable. He would much rather be making the long trip on his friend’s back than walking the entire way to King Aneirin’s castle. At least being a vampire made it so he didn’t have to bundle up in as many furs as Einarr did.
“Hey? Why can’t he just fly us to this bloke’s castle huh? It’d be a hell of a lot easier than walking through this white crap.”
“Draco, as you seem intent on calling him, had pressing business to attend to,” Einarr said and then with a sigh continued, “Besides, King Aneirin and those who rule the other Kingdoms are not all that fond of the dragons.”
“Why not?” Spike asked, truly puzzled.
“It was their word the Kingdoms and their people placed their hope in. The Dragons swore one day the Key would return and the Father would arrive, but after many years of waiting and nothing happening there were many who began to doubt the dragons. After Ktulu and his armies invaded the southern Kingdom of Borhiegn thirty years ago, this doubt turned into anger. Those monsters control the area to this day.”
“So these bastards are blaming the dragons because Dawn and I didn’t show up when they wanted us to?” Spike asked with a disbelieving look on his face.
“In essence, yes.”
“Bloody hell!” Spike cried. “They’re pissed because the slayer didn’t sacrifice her sister!”
“What do you mean?” Einarr asked, stopping his unhurried pace as he favored Spike with a genuinely confused expression.
“Few years ago in my old world there was this hell God. Nasty bitch by the name of Glory…”
“Would this be the same hell beast you told Draco about?”
“Yeah mate, that would be her,” Spike answered. “Anyway, in order for her to get to her own world Glory needed to bleed the Bit to open a portal. Unfortunately that would have caused all dimensions to merge together and we both know what kind of hell that would have created.”
“I can see how that would have been a terrible thing to happen.” Einarr agreed with a slight shiver that had nothing to do with the cold.
“Well the night this was to go down one of Glory’s minions managed to bleed Dawn. I failed and instead of tossing her sister off that bloody tower Buffy jumped instead. Since Dawn was made from Buffy they shared the same blood and the Slayer was able to close the portal.”
“And how did you fail?”
“I didn’t stop Dawn from getting cut.” Spike replied as old wounds were reopened. “If I had…then…maybe Buffy wouldn’t have had to jump. And if she hadn’t died that night her friends wouldn’t have pulled her from heaven…and she never would have been so bloody miserable.”
“And yet without your actions that day, our world would still be waiting for both you and Dawn to arrive. Because if she had died then…” Einarr trailed off, hoping to make his friend see all had not been lost on the night he spoke of.
“This bugger Ktulu would just keep slaughtering everyone because Dawn wouldn‘t be alive to help me get rid of him,” Spike finished, a thoughtful frown flickering across his face. “Huh, never quite though of it that way.”
"Often when we perceive a failure on our parts, we tend to be blind to the victories along the way," Einarr concluded before he continued his slow trek forward.
They managed to walk quite a distance in a comfortable silence while Einarr deftly navigated the snowy terrain and Spike mulled over his friend’s words. But as the sun began to set and the snow started coming down harder Spike was unable to suppress his worries.
“So how the bloody hell do we know if we‘re going in the right direction?” Spike spoke up as he tried to peer through the now blinding snow. He hoped they weren't lost since all of this snow made any landscapes they passed look identical to him.
“If this crystal goes out we know we‘ve gotten turned onto the wrong path,” Einarr said as he held up the softly glowing stone Draco had given them.
“Thank God for dragon-made GPS,” Spike exclaimed earning a curious look from his travel companion. “The dragons aren’t the only people who can make tracking devices. We’ve got a few interesting ones back on my old world.”
“Of course,” Einarr said with a slight smile, causing Spike to grumble some more. “Is it my fault I find tales of your world so fascinating?”
“Nah, mate,” Spike replied with a shrug. “Not as long as you’re willing to share a few of your own stories is all. Need to know all I can of Airworld if I’m going to be living here from now on. Starting with how the bloody hell do I pronounce Airworld! Feel like the Slayer when she tries to say some new demon’s name. Did I ever tell you that girl has a talent for slaughtering the English language?”
“So ‘English’ would be what your world calls the common language of Ærworuld?” Einarr laughed as he deliberately used the proper name of his world in order to tease his friend.
“Ha bloody ha!” Spike grumbled trying to convince the other man of his bad mood, however the grin on his face quickly gave him away. “You just want me to make a fool of myself in front of all the royalty. That way you can have a good laugh at my expense. I’m on to you mate!”
“Damn!” Einarr swore in a mocking tone. “You have discovered my nefarious plan! Now I’ll have to think of something else.”
Hearing Spike’s snickering from behind him caused Einarr to lose his fragile hold on his stern expression. Laughing at their equally juvenile behavior, he quietly turned his attention back to the trail before them while he began to tutor Spike in how to properly say the name of his new world.
This was both a relief and a heartbreaking process for the old soldier. Einarr’s world needed Spike, he was the Father of the Key after all, but that also meant Spike had to leave his own world behind. Silently, Einarr vowed he would help in anyway possible to make the transition a relatively painless one for his new friend.