A Son of Cain A Daughter of Lilith
Alexa Willspet finds out that her curse isn't all curse and she finally has to face the slayer and her friends
It was raining outside. The sky was dull black with rolling grey clouds. Alexia watched silently as the water falling from above pounded a staccato beat upon the glass windows. She could remember some faceless Aunt from her childhood telling her that raindrops were really tears, made by the Angels as they cried for all of the lost and lonely people adrift in the world. Morbidly, she wondered if any of the raindrops were being shed for her and her family of demons and demon hunters.
It somehow seemed fitting that the sky would open up to try and drown the world in heavenly sorrow. It just wouldn't be right to deal with her churning thoughts and emotions if it were a warm breezy evening with lots of glittering shinning stars twinkling up above. Sudden blinding lightening sizzled with mindless fury across the sky, turning everything a stark colorless white-blue. It faded away with a booming roll of thunder to leave after-glow impressions of the naked city seared to her eyes, even as her reflection in the window slowly reformed.
Silently, she studied her pale and watery image in the old and warped glass. Dark hair that blended into the cityscape surrounded a pale pale face with overly large dark eyes. Eyes that had seen far too much pain and held far too many secrets behind them. They were the eyes of someone who knew guilt and torment and suffered from just a touch of madness. Haunted.
Holding herself still as stone, Alexa could feel the voiceless call of that soothing void of nothingness and a part of her longed to loose herself to it's empty touch. It was so tempting to just fade away and drift off into her own mind. She could empty herself of all feelings and thoughts so easily and just... forget. Wipe her mind clean of guilty thoughts about Buffy and Willow and Giles. Ease her conscience by letting her awareness transform into scented smoke and be carried away by the slightest breeze.
Yet... to go back there, to slip away to that non-place that had cradled her torn mind after her transformation was to give up so many things that she had gained since her... awakening. It would mean losing things she now treasured with every fiber of her being. She was... happy with her life now, and she was so angry with Riley for coming here and shattering that fragile glow of contentment.
She was a student again. Granted, Karate and cooking classes might not seem too important to those studying pre-med or pre-law, but for her, it was a delight to find two things she both enjoyed and was actually good at. She also had a job. She was Wesley's research assistant and she helped Cordy out with general office stuff. She had friends. Real friends who honest-to-God cared about her. Wesley and Gunn and Tim. And she had a new best friend, one who didn't try to make her feel as if she needed to be spoken down to or coddled like a little kid. Cordelia never pulled punches with anyone, not even her and she loved her for it. Her relationship with Angel was still tentative, but it was also a comforting one. They had each managed to forgive the other for past wrongs and they shared a bond of caring for the same people. Hell... she was practically his daughter-in-law. Which brought her to the most important reason for not fading off into her own mind.
The bleached blonde vampire had gone from one of her greatest enemies to an unwilling ally, to a sort-of-friend, to a fierce protector, and now finally, he was her lover. And deep down inside, where she was often too frightened to look, she thought she might be falling in love with him. She didn't want to loose Spike, but...
Ever since Riley had shown up at the office and demanded that Angel contact him about finding Spike and... herself, she had sunk further and further into a spiraling depression that was spiced liberally with fear. She didn't know what to do because she didn't know what had sparked this visit.
In her mind's eye, she cast backwards in time, recalling memories of those friends she had left behind, hurt and suffering. She could recall many victories over enemies, but she had to go back years to find ones that were actually good memories filled with happiness. There were very few good memories associated around the time right before Anya got her powers back. And of those few good ones from that time period, most of them included Anya or even Spike... but not Willow or Buffy.
And she felt guilty for that as well. It was almost as if her memories of her friends should be shinning examples of goodness and light in her mind's eye, but they weren't. She could look back from the distance of time, space and the maturing effects of unspeakable pain and anguish to see things from a new perspective. The perspective of an outsider looking in, one with a clearer and more precise view. And what she saw disturbed her greatly.
Giles didn't seem to be the vast font of wisdom and knowledge that he'd been to her back then. He wasn't the gentle caring father figure Xander had so desperately needed him to be. He was human and fallible and his blind loyalty to his Slayer hid many truths from him. Alexa could see that now. While she and Willow had been fascinating people to watch and guide as they simultaneously complicated and entertained him, they were, when stripped to the bare bones of it, nothing more than tools to be used to further the goals for his Slayer as set forth by the Council.
Willow was also seen differently now than she was back then. Alexa could reach into her memory and pull forth a hugeselection of different and ever mutable images of Willow. Everything from a young child in pig-tails to a sleek and sexy woman on the prowl. Yet, even though she had easily cataloged and noticed the changes in her physical appearance as they grew older, she'd had far more trouble accepting the changes in her personality. And she knew that was a problem they both had shared. Willow continued to see Xander as the neglected and abused friend who always needed a soft touch and comforting protection from his own life. And she had seen Willow as the innocent young girl with lots of smarts who was shy and quiet and afraid to step forward into the spotlight.
But that wasn't who either of them had been at that point in time. She, as Xander, had been facing trials and suffering beyond anything Willow had ever known about for years and she had survived. She had faced the darkness in demons, humans and even herself countless times without anyone to hold her hand and she resented anyone thinking that she was too dumb or stupid to understand anything important. And she had done the same to Willow. She had this idea in her head of sweetness and light, of innocence and sensuality. And if Willow did or said anything that didn't fit into that mold, then she, as Xander, would feel disappointed or she would just willfully ignore it. Alexa was as much to blame.
And Buffy? The Slayer had ceased to be the golden warrior of light and goodness that Xander had needed her to be. She could see the arrogance and self-absorbed pettiness for what it was now. For years, Xander had brushed off a thousand insults and slights from her because she was the Chosen One. She could remember thinking that it wasn't fair to Buffy that she had all of that responsibility thrust upon her and that if she seemed whiny and petulant, that was okay. She had the right to bitch and moan.
But now?... That seemed so far away. All she saw was a spoilt girl who had always been the center of attention, even before she'd been called to duty by the Council. What was worse, was that she coupled her insultingly superior attitude with a blind eye towards the true reality of the day-to-day things that everyone else was left to muddle through. If it didn't effect her personally, it didn't matter to her one iota. How many times had she been told, "Go home Xander, I don't need to be distracted because you are in danger." So many times Alexa had wanted to say that sending her home was just asking her to place herself in danger and that the only difference if she got killed by her father was that she wouldn't rise from her own grave. Yet, she never had.
And now Riley was in town and he wanted her and Spike. Why? Hell, it had almost been six months since their departure from Sunnydale. What did he want with them now?
Alexa was pulled from her depressing thoughts by the sounds of her lover, his Sire and their hunting companion Gunn walking into the building. They were in good spirits, Spike's deep lilting voice echoing off the rafters as he teased the big black man mercilessly. Gunn's sharp and cutting retort back at the blonde vampire earned him an amused and raunchy laugh. Alexa stared into the darkened glass as she watched Gunn's reflection. It was odd to see him interact with people that weren't there. It was... surreal. But then, so was her entire life.
Silently, she turned her head and looked over towards the three men, one human and two vampires, and a soft sad ghost of a smile flitted across her full lips. They were all soaked to the bone from the pouring torrents of rain, but none of them seemed to mind that fact. They had the air about them of victory and Alexa didn't even have to ask if they had killed the demon they had been hunting tonight. She could see the proof of it in Angel's satisfied relief, Gunn's hyped up energy and Spike's sparkling and dangerous eyes.
She watched them as they joked and bonded with each other in the moment, when suddenly her beloved protector came to a halt. His stillness was sudden and absolute, the preternatural silence of those who were undead. Slowly, his head swiveled on his neck until he had turned to spy her sitting in the corner in the dark. Alexa watched as a puzzled frown rippled across his face quickly only to be replaced with deep concern underlined with a cold anger at whatever had hurt her.
Moving swiftly, Spike stalked over to her and gathered her up in his arms. A hitched gasp that was almost a sob tore lose from her throat and she clutched at him tightly. Vaguely, she was aware of Angel and Gunn coming up to them, but all that mattered to her in that instant was Spike. With a soft shudder, she buried her face in his muscled chest and savored the feel of his strong arms wrapping around her. It was as if she could hide from all of the hurt and pain in her heart by clinging to him and huddling within the safety of his embrace.
"Pet?... What is it? I can't fix it if you don't tell me what's wrong."
A cry of relief that he was here and that he would stand by her side no matter what rolled through her and a single tear slid down her cheek. She could only hope that the rest of her family would stand with her and Spike on this... issue.
"Um... while you were out... ah, Riley came by. He... uh, he asked for Angel. He didn't recognize me as me... but he said he wanted Angel to help him find us. But I don't now why. I only know that he was so angry."
Alexa felt Spike shift slightly to exchange a look with Angel, but she didn't lift her face from his shoulder, so she wasn't sure what passed between Sire and Childe. She only knew that she was upset and she didn't ever want to leave the comforting arms of her lover. Suddenly, Spike lifted one hand and ran it in soothing circular rubs against her back and she melted into him.
"Shhh... Pet, shhh... Spike's here now. I'll take care of you. Always. You know that."
Alexa walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out the large container of blood. She carried it back over to the counter and set it down between Spike and Cordelia. Ever since she had started her cooking classes she'd found herself working out her own fear and nervous energy in the kitchen. And right now, she was very nervous.
In about an hour or so Riley Finn was scheduled to keep an appointment with Angel. From what little Angel could gather from the tense and terse conversation over the telephone, something had happened to Riley. Something to do with the Initiative and he was pissed and Buffy was "coddling" him because of it. He wanted to prove that he could still fight at her side by doing something that she wasn't willing to do. Confronting Spike and Xander. It was his goal to drag them back to Sunnydale to be "punished" for their crimes.
Angel had, of course, denied any knowledge of his Childe's location, but Riley wanted to talk in person anyway. Alexa figured that Riley knew Angel was lying since the souled vampire wasn't a very good liar. His sense of guilt always got in the way. She could only assume that the ex-commando thought he could intimidate the dark vampire if they met face to face. What's more, he was coming here because he had refused to let Angel into his motel room and he didn't know the city well enough to meet elsewhere.
She and Spike had been ordered to hide themselves away. Alexa didn't mind that thought, but Spike wasn't very keen on it. It was at that point that Cordy suggested that they take 'the bleached menace' into the kitchen and use him as a guinea-pig on recipes to 'spice-up' Angel's pig and cow blood. Everyone knew Spike's often vocalized opinion on the way the stuff tasted and even Angel had broken down and admitted that it was a 'fill your stomach while torturing your taste-buds' kind of meal. Cordelia had even gone so far as to mention that she had once tried to spice up a glass of blood for Angel by adding cinnamon. Spike had shuddered in horror and offered his Sire up a truly sympathetic glance, so... here they were.
Taking out a few glasses, she poured a small amount of blood into each one. Then, she looked around at all of the things she had collected for her cooking assignments and began grabbing things to spice up the blood with. Salt. Sugar. Vanilla. Chocolate milk powder. Cooking sherry. And a knife.
"What's the knife for pet?"
Alexa blinked and started. She had been so lost in her own thoughts that she had forgotten that she wasn't alone in her private little world. At one time, the thought that she would be so comfortable in the presence of an unsouled demon that she had tuned him out would have been met with a scathing glare and a harsh snort, now it was fact. Spike was almost an extension to her own body at times and she never felt unsafe in letting all her guards drop near him. In fact, she felt safer to do so in his presence, she knew he would watch her back for her.
"Oh. That. I thought that maybe a drop or two of human blood might help to mask the taste."
Spike nodded and frowned slightly.
"It might. It's much more robust than animal blood, but... I don't like the idea of you bleeding yourself for Angel. I don't care if that pouf is my Sire, you don't bleed for no one but me, got that?"
Alexa looked over at him and saw his blue eyes blaze fiercely with possessiveness and the expression on his handsome face was one of total seriousness. She quickly nodded her head in agreement.
"Right. Um... no problem there. I wasn't really planning on letting anyone else taste me anyhow. I was just gonna do it because you volunteered to taste our concoctions. Someone else can do it if it really does work."
Cordelia waved her hands in the air and shook her head no.
"Well, it's not going to be me. Hey, I like the boss-man as much as the next person, but my job description clearly states that Angel does not drink my blood. Ever. He gets staked if he even tries."
Alexa frowned. She was sure that that would be the one thing to help the most, but if no one was willing to donate... Then a really wicked thought struck her and she let a smile full of mischief slide across her lips, even as she turned to wink at Cordelia.
"Well... I can't do it or Spike will lose his mind over the whole thing, and to be honest, I gotta agree with you. If Angel tried to drink from me, I'd stake him too. But who do we know who wouldn't mind it? Who do we know who wants to make Angel's life a bit... easier?"
Cordy stared at her blankly for a moment and then grinned wickedly. They both spoke at the same time.
Spike snorted in amusement and chuckled.
"That ponce! Figures. I swear the man puts out enough 'fuck-me now' pheromones to give a dead elephant a stiffy whenever he gets near my wanker of a Sire. I'm a bit surprised that Angel hasn't thrown him down and shagged him stupid by now."
Alexa and Cordy giggled at the images that Spike brought to mind, but as usual, it was Cordelia who brought everyone back to hard cold reality.
"I think it's the soul. I mean... no one wants Angelus back. Especially Angel."
That thought sobered everyone up quick. Spike sighed and shook his head sadly.
"He wasn't always like that you know. Back before the soul ever showed up he was a right fun-loving demon. But now? Angelus is insane. 'Course, I don't know how well wrapped I'd be if I were trapped inside the same skull as Angel sharing all his guilt and nancy-boy soulishness."
Alexa felt Spike's confusion and sadness wash over her own heart. She knew from their long middle of the night talks that Spike had been torn up over the way his Sire had acted the last time Angelus had gotten free. He had been abused, ridiculed and then tossed aside as so much trash because of his injuries. Alexa knew how it felt to be considered unworthy by her own father, but she at least, hadn't fallen from grace as 'the favorite one' before that.
Falling back on old patterns, she tried to lift everyone's flagging spirits. Popping one of the glasses into the microwave she set the timer to warm it up and turned back to face her sullen friend and gloomy lover.
"Okay guys... enough poor Angel, let's find ways to tease his taste-buds instead. I say we let him try the best concoction we come up with as well as the worst."
Spike glanced up at her, a wicked gleam coming back into his lovely blue eyes.
"Pet? You'd knowingly and willingly offer up the great and magnificent pouf the worst tasting cup o sludge to drink?"
A twinkle in her own dark eyes, Alexa grinned and nodded. Spike stared at her for a long moment and then threw back his head and laughed with delight.
"That's my girl! Wicked to the last."
Alexa stared down at her blood coated hands with stunned fascination that bordered on hysterical horror. She wasn't sure how she had done what she had. Hell, she wasn't even sure what had happened to make her do what she did. Everything that led up to it seemed hazy and unsure. Trembling violently in shock, she felt Spike's cool arms wrap around her and drag her back from the perfectly healthy, yet still unconscious form of Riley Finn.
"Shhh... Pet. I've got you. It's okay, it's okay. Shhh..."
And suddenly, she was safe, she was in his arms and she was safe enough to let go and drift. Slowly, the world became hazy and indistinct as she hid from everyone and everything within the confines of her own mind. However, it was different from before. When she had first been transformed, she had become lost inside of her own head, seeking sanctuary in the velvet mists of nothingness. Now, she was treated to a full version surround sound and technicolor replay of everything that had just happened.
She had been in the kitchen with Spike and Cordelia. She and her friend had been giggling over the expression the blonde vampire had made over the combination of warm blood and hazelnut extract. Then, Spike had held up one hand for silence, tilted his head and hissed 'Slutty's fuck-toy is here and he's mouthing off to Angel.' Alexa had stood in frightened immobility as she'd watched Spike's face shift from disgusted curiosity to indignant anger to out and out rage.
With blinding speed from preternatural reflexes, the bleached blonde vampire had howled in unfettered fury and ran from the cluttered kitchen. There had only been a brief moment to pause while she and Cordy had exchanged identical expressions of terror filled surprise and then they had dashed out after him.
Alexa had skidded to a halt in front of a scene of absolute horror. Spike had literally impaled Riley on his clawed fist, reaching into the mortal's body cavity to squeeze his living flesh. At her own high pitched scream of denial, Spike had flinched slightly, causing Riley's body to slide off of his hand with a sickeningly wet plop. Gore coated her lover's fist and blood gushed from the gaping hole in the ex-commando's torso. Then, he crumbled like a broken doll onto the once pristine tiled floor.
Alexa threw herself to her knees beside him and tried to press her hands against his wound, desperate to keep his life from pouring out from between her fingers. Shock and horror and fear filled her to the brink, and yet, it was not Riley she feared for... but Spike.
"Oh! What have you done! He belongs to Buffy! The Slayer is gonna kill you for this Spike! I can't loose you now! I just... he has to live. He HAS to!"
And then a sizzling rain of electric tingles washed over her skin and something deep inside her mind flared bright white and she felt the whole universe bend out of shape as all of her fear and anger and desperation slammed through her body and into her blood stained hands. She glowed a deep burnt yellow with red shimmers and sparkles and she felt the rush of energy in her hands shift and mutate into something green and cool with washes of silky blue and then it poured from her hands and into Riley Finn's quickly dying body. Not truly understanding, but helplessly unable to stop, she pressed against his chest and willed him to heal and thrive and to live.
A ring of gasps echoing in her ears, Alexa watched as Riley's wound began to heal. The torn flesh rewove itself even as the bruises faded and his heartbeat and breathing steadied. And then Wesley's thready voice whispering with stunned awe tilted her world on it's axis.
"My God! She's a faith healer!"
The shock and frighteningly harsh certainty of what her own mind kept trying to tell her by showing her this scene over and over again became too much. She wanted to forget, to disappear inside her own head like before, but even that comfort was torn from her. She kept seeing Spike murder the Slayer's boyfriend only for her to resurrect him again with her bare hands.
It was far too much strain to carry alone. If she couldn't escape what she had done... what she was, then she needed her friend, her protector, her lover by her side. She needed Spike. With a shudder of absolute regret and horror she flung her consciousness back out of her head and into the real world. She found herself being cradled in Spike's arms as everyone argued around her.
She threw back her head and screamed out her rage and denial.
Everyone shut up instantly. The silence was almost deafening as all eyes snapped to her. But she didn't care, she didn't even notice. All she saw was a future of pain and fear, of responsibility and endless giving of herself to those that would shun her. Turning her large haunted dark eyes to face Spike she shivered in fear and she begged him for answers to things he could not possibly know.
"Why?! Spike why did she do this to me? Why! Wasn't turning me into a woman enough pain for me to deal with? Why did she have to make me this... this... freak as well? My God! What did I do that made him come back to life? I don't want to raise zombies! The only corpse I want in my life is you!"
She knew that she was being hysterical and that she was heading straight for a full blown panic attack that would leave her a shattered wreck, but she didn't care. She couldn't stop even if she did care. Her heart rate soared to dangerous levels and her breathing became quick and shallow. She felt as if she were drowning and she had the horrible notion that she needed to escape, but from what, she had no clue.
It was finally Cordelia who pulled her out of histrionics with a neat slap to the face. She sobered up instantly and the only thing that prevented Spike from gutting her as well was the fact that Alexa was literally wrapped around him. But then, with throwing little more than a dangerous growl and a frightening glare at her, he turned his attention fully on Alexa.
"Shhh... Pet. The stupid git's not a bloody zombie, I promise you. He's perfectly alive and mortal. You're not a freak at all. You healed him pet, you didn't make him the evil undead or anything like that. He's fine and so are you."
She shook her head, trying to deny it, but he wouldn't let her.
"No Pet. You're perfect and don't let anything make you think differently. You did a good thing. You were right. The Slayer would have been most brassed off if you had allowed the bloody wanker to die. I shouldn't have tried to eviscerate him. And I won't do it again as long as he doesn't attack me first. Promise."
Alexa felt as if her head was reeling. This was too much information to process all at once. She wasn't sure how to deal with all of this. She felt as if she wanted to sleep for a year because her body and mind were so very tired and worn out. Yet she was angry and frightened as well.
She was still hoping to wrap her mind around the fact that Riley was going to be okay and that she had been the one to mentally stitch up his wounds when Angel did the one thing that she had been far too frightened to do. No matter how much she needed to know. Raising his face to the ceiling, the dark vampire screamed out a one word summons.
It had been two weeks since Alexa had discovered her ability to heal others and Angel's subsequent summoning of the Vengeance Demon. Even now, huddled in the warmth of her bed with Spike spooned up behind her, she felt chills as she recalled that reunion with her ex-girlfriend. She still had a bit of trouble understanding everything that had happened and she could only blame what she had done on the shock and stress. Although, so far it was turning out to be a good thing.
Anya had appeared to everyone in her full blown demon visage in a flash of light and a puff of sulfuric smoke. Alexa had paused only a brief moment before she had slid off of Spike's lap and hurled herself at the demon. Throwing her arms around her ex-girlfriend, Alexa had broken down into tears once again while babbling incoherently about cooking classes, menstruation and healing sucking chest wounds with her bare hands. Anya had merely stiffened in shock for a brief moment and then hugged her tightly.
"Xan... Xan... calm down. It's no use to be all weepy about it. What's done is done and I know you're strong enough to handle this. It's just... weird for you right now. Believe me, I truly understand. When I first became human I thought that I would never figure stuff out, but you were there for me and you helped me through it all. Just like Spike is here for you. And... once you get past this one last thing, you'll be fine. Honest."
Alexa hadn't been aware of Spike getting up and following her over to Anya, but he was suddenly there, one hand on her shoulder as he leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on Anya's wrinkled gameface.
"Long time no see luv. How's the Vengeance Business?"
Anya had given a gleeful chuckle that rumbled against Alexa's check where it was pressed against her ex-girlfriend's throat.
"Lot's of fun and very busy. Of course, being busy is why it's lot's of fun. How's anti-chip hunting with you?"
"Smashing pet, absolutely smashing. Can't thank you enough for removing the buggery thing. But... ah, I'm not quite sure what to do to help Alexa here. She was doing just fine until this whole Riley thing. Now, as you can see, she's a bit upset. Wasn't really my fault though. I've been a good vamp, I have. Haven't even shagged the virginity out of her, or nothing."
Anya had snorted and waved her hand in dismissal.
"What? Why not? I'm not worried about that, although her healing abilities will make her... um, fertile so safe sex is a big thing, but as for the rest... it'll just take time to get used to it."
That was when Angel cut in. He was in full-blown over-protective mode, which seemed odd to Alexa. She had seen the dark vampire do that with Spike, Cordy, Wes and even Gunn, but never her. She thought that it was perhaps a big step in their relationship, but at the time it had been such a small detail lost in a lot of overwhelming issues. So, the next real clear memory she had of that night was Anya offering to answer Angel's question of why Anya had done what she did if they could just go sit down.
Once she was firmly ensconced on the couch between the two demons, one Vengeance and one Vampire, Alexa had everything laid out before her to finally understand. She could clearly remember the words that Anya used to describe it.
"I'm a demon, so by my very nature I can't grant blessings, only curses. A demon's gift is a double edged blade. One side will defend and cut your enemies while the other side attacks and cuts you. So... I cursed you. With healing abilities. The only way for that to be possible was to turn you into a female. Females have the power of life and creation within their very blood and DNA. They give life, created out of blood and bone and pain and hurt. If I were an Archangel, I could have blessed you and then the changes would have come to you easily and without any torment. But I'm not. I'm an Archdemon and my gifts carry a stern price. You will never age nor grow sick. You'll be able to heal others with the power of your mind, but you'll always struggle to accept that with any sort of ease and you will have to swim at the edge of madness. It's undertow can... and has dragged you out into it, but you found your way back to shore and with Spike's help you'll stay there. I'm sorry for that, but... it's necessary. As for Buffy and her little gang of I'm-so-good-and-pure-so-do-as-I-say-or-else, well... I didn't mean for the curse on them to be permanent. They can be healed... It's up to you Xan."
And then Anya had made as if to leave and Alexa's head had flown up only to see Wesley sitting in a chair with Angel standing behind him looking all broody and stoic. Alexa still didn't know where the idea came from or why she even voiced it. She figured that she was still feeling a tad on the crazy side and all she wanted to do was thrust her own situation out of her head and so she had latched onto someone else's problems as a diversion. She remembered Wesley's little speech about Angel's curse and it's deadly loophole. She recalled all of the times she had watched her friend suffer in silence because of his undeniable love for her lover's Sire. And so, in her usual fashion, she leapt into the abyss on instinct without stopping to consider the consequences.
"Anya? I... I would like to make a wish."
Stunned horrified silence descended upon the room. Alexa could see that everyone had the strong urge to run even as they felt compelled to stay and witness what could undo all of their lives in a heartbeat. All, that is, except Anya herself.
"Yes Xan, what is it you wish for?"
Taking a deep breath for courage, Alexa had then taken one soul and the entire world's lives and held them in her hands.
"I wish... I wish that Angel's curse would be modified so that he can never lose his soul again. Angelus hurt me and countless others. I never want him to have control of Angel's mind and body again."
Shocked gasps echoed in the high ceilinged room. Anya just smiled and snapped her fingers. Angel was enveloped in a wash of bright green energy that hummed with power. After a brief surge of brightness, the green sank into his skin and he shuddered, gasped and collapsed to the floor.
Then, with another flash of light and a puff of sulfuric smoke, Anya was gone.
Now... now Alexa was left trying to sort it all out in her mind. Everything still felt out of place slightly, as if she just needed the whole planet to shift slightly to the left. But, from what she understood of what Anya told her, she would always feel this way. She was cursed and her soul would always feel that burden. No matter how many acts of good that she did, or how many people she helped, just like Angel, she was forever cursed. Darkness lived inside of her, strengthening her, marking her apart from the rest of humanity.
And she had so many things to deal with. One, she was a woman. Two, she was for all intents and purposes, immortal. Three, she was a faith healer with the power of Hell behind her. She could heal mortals and demons alike... as long as they had a touch of darkness within them, she could heal them. And four, she was... fertile. She could get pregnant. That still wasn't really an issue, since she was still a virgin, but even then, her lover was technically dead, so... But it was still an oogy thought.
That was another thing altogether. Anya had practically given Spike permission to fuck her. She wasn't sure if she was ready for that step. She had worked up the courage to give him oral sex and she had to admit that it was lots of fun and she loved to do it. But, now that the niggling little fear that Anya would come back and seek vengeance on him if he did have sex with her was gone, Spike really wanted to shag, as he put it. She could still hear his attempts to convince her.
"Hell Pet. Even that mincing pouf of a souled up Sire of mine is bumping uglies with that bloody wanker of an ex-Watcher. Let's shag luv. It'll be lots of fun, promise."
Alexa couldn't help grin at the thought of Angel and Wesley though. At first, when Angel didn't seem to be effected in anyway by Anya's spell, the dark haired vampire had not wanted to test it out. He'd been afraid that it hadn't worked and that Angelus would get free. Wesley had finally gotten tired of the broody wistful sighs and long lingering looks and simply tied the vampire to his own bed while he was sleeping. Then, holding a stake firmly in one hand in case it turned out to be needed, he climbed on top of a startled Angel and rode him into the first real moment of happiness he'd had in far too many years. They'd been sharing a bed ever since and Angel walked around with this silly dazed smile on his face while Wesley alternated blushing himself out of the room or smirking smugly.
And now that Angel didn't fear his soul would disappear like smoke on the wind, he was opening up more and more. His true personality was beginning to shine through and he routinely laughed, loudly and with great joy. The other edge of the curse, the one Anya warned about, was that Angel had less control over the parts of his mind that were fueled by Angelus's passions and desires. The dark vampire may be more friendly and happy, but his temper was now easy to invoke and his violent tendencies were rising. Angel and Angelus seemed to be more merged now than ever before. It made a weird sort of sense though. Wesley was convinced that Anya anchored Angel's soul to the demon Angelus... thus making it permanent. And Spike was thrilled with the changes in his Sire.
But, to be honest, it was all overwhelming her, no matter how much she might enjoy any one single aspect of it. Thrown together, she felt just as mixed up and turned around as she did when she had first been transformed. A part of her wanted to slip back into the hollow depths of madness and forget, but she knew she couldn't take that way out again. She had to face up to this, no matter how hard it was.
However, she still couldn't go anywhere or do anything without Spike at her side. Just like before, she needed him to be there every second. She would fly into a panic whenever he was gone from her presence for too long. She stayed aware, mostly, but she needed his strength and his fierce personality to act as a buffer between her and the world. Even Cordelia wasn't enough, although if Spike had to leave her, he always made sure that Alexa was with Cordy and then he returned as soon as he could.
He was with her right now, snuggled up behind her, his body a physical shield between her and the world as he held her tightly to his chest while he slept the sleep of the undead. Somehow, she knew that this wasn't the end of everything, but she hoped that whatever it was she could feel hovering around the edges of her mind would go easy on her.
Settling back against her lover, Alexa tried to drift off to sleep once more... in the hopes that this time, her dreams would be gentle ones...
Alexa stood at the kitchen counter slicing honeydew melon. She watched silently as one pale long fingered hand reached out and grabbed a slice of the juicy fresh fruit. This was followed by soft chewing and slurping noises and a quietly hummed 'yum-yum'. Instead of admonishing the blonde vampire for his insolent fruit thievery, she merely scooped up the remaining slices and put them in their designated spot on the tray. Then she reached for the oranges, but before she started slicing up the first citrusy treat, she paused and glanced up at her grinning lover.
"Spike?... What's it like to live forever?"
She watched those bright blue eyes she adored so much go wide and she could almost see the wheels in his head turning. But thankfully, he didn't laugh at her or make fun of her question. Scathing comments and bitter sarcasm were all well and good when joking around, but this was a subject that had been literally keeping her awake at nights and he was taking her worry seriously.
"I don't rightly know Pet. I haven't lived forever yet, only a little under two centuries. Even still, I think that you and I would experience time differently. I mean... you got a soul and I got a demon. Maybe you should sit down and talk to Peaches about how his soul deals with the concept."
Alexa frowned in confusion. Laying the knife down on the counter, she turned to fully face the bleached blonde vampire.
"Why? I mean, why would that make a difference in how we see time? Time is time... it doesn't change."
Spike shrugged his shoulder's slightly and made a vague gesture that could take in the kitchen, the city or the entire planet.
"I don't miss things when they're gone Pet. Sure, there are one or two exceptions to that, but... I mean, in general. I don't get homesick for any city or town or place, no matter how much time I spent there before I leave again. Souled beings tend to get attached to places. A quick look at history and all those lovely little wars started over a patch of grass and rock could tell you that. Demons can be territorial, but that's more about the prey they hunt than the location. If their prey leaves to a new place, the demon will follow. Like following a nomadic herd."
Alexa could feel her head shaking, but she wasn't sure what it was she was disagreeing about. Finally, a thought occurred to her.
"But, but... you're English. You go on and on about England and how the English are better than everyone else."
Spike grinned wickedly at her and nodded.
"Too true Pet, too true. Annoys the bloody hell out of people too, don't it? If I was so fond of the place, I'd go home. Granted, there are things about England that are far superior than anywhere else, but that's true of all places. They all have at least one thing to set them apart. I go on about being an English bred Demon all the time for a simple reason really. It brasses off the two Watcher's and my Mick of a Sire. All three of 'em got souls and they tend to be rather attached to their homelands."
Spike offered her up a smirk and a nod of his head.
"Mark my words Pet, one of these days I'm going to trick that mincing pounce Angel into admitting that he has a thing for English blokes."
Alexa watched with a slight grin as his smirk turned thoughtful.
"I think it's the accent. After all, we English invented the language, so of course we speak it best."
Alexa felt herself begin to cheer up slightly. Spike had this way of making things that were out of control and out of hand seem manageable in his own demented way. It was that freaky ability he had to cut through the bullshit that Alexa seemed to lack. She had a feeling that her troubles in the emotional agility department was an aftereffect of the curse. Anya hadsaid that she would always feel a touch 'off' and Alexa figured that this was one of those ways.
"So... I'll probably find myself growing attached to a specific town or city or something. I'll either want to stay there for long periods of time or keep coming back for visits? That's... not so bad. I mean, there are worse things than thinking of L.A. as home, right?"
Spike nodded and his grin faded away. His eyes grew serious again, the blue deepening in response to his mood shift.
"Well... you'll probably end up thinking of Sunnydale as home, with L.A. as an acceptable adjunct. But... that's not what I think you should talk to Peaches about. I can't really help you when the mortals around us start getting old and dying off. I'll be honest and tell you that even though I'm close to hitting my two hundredth year, that's not something that I've had to face before. I never had mortal friends before. I've never spent any real amounts of time with them, just the usual 'Hi there. Tastes great. Oh look, you're dead.' So, I'm sort of in the same boat as you with that."
Alexa tried real hard not to think about everyone she cared about dying, even if a good percentage of them were already dead. Instead, she latched onto what Spike had said about himself. Seeing things from his position might give her a clue as to how to begin dealing with this whole situation.
"I don't understand, Spike. You've seen hundreds of mortals die. Why is now different?"
Spike sighed and shoved his hands into his jean's pockets as he slummed against the edge of the kitchen counter. He looked past her and his bright blue eyes unfocused as he considered the reasons that things had changed for him.
"It started with the chip actually. At first I couldn't stand being forced to spend any amount of time around humans. I didn't have any choice though, so... Anyway, after a while, I guess that I just, I don't know,... got used to you all. Names and faces became... familiar. But not like they had been before. I mean, up until then, you were all just the enemy and you each had a little nick-name or title in my head that I referred to you by, but that's it. Suddenly, I learned much more than I ever wanted to learn."
Alexa grinned softly. They had never spoken about what it was like for Spike to adjust to having the Scooby Gang in his face 24-7 all of the sudden. Oh, she knew that the vampire hadn't liked it, but he'd never opened up on his real thoughts about that time period.
"I'll be honest pet, it was frustrating to find out that all of my excellently laid out plans had been foiled by you guys. I was not exactly impressed by you lot. However, that was when I first discovered that humans could amuse me in ways other than killin' them. You and Anya were a walking talking soft porn show and the Slayer was delightfully stupid and self-absorbed. It was a riot to watch her bumble from one thing to the next while everyone scrambled to keep her life from falling apart at the seams. Giles was stuffy and easy to provoke and Willow... well she was the first one to try and make nice."
Alexa watched as a slightly pained expression blurred across her lover's eyes. It was there and gone in an instant and if she hadn't been staring, she'd have missed it entirely. As it was, she figured that only she or Angel would be able to recognize it for the sorrow and disappointment that it really was. Silently, Alexa reached out and gently slipped one of her hands into his.
"I'd never had anyone try and be nice to me before. Not while I had been alive and certainly not since the great pouf turned me. But Willow was real nice. It confused me at first, but then I just accepted that she was so sweet and innocent that she could put aside my past and like me for me. That changed my whole outlook on unlife right then and there. Of course, that's when I overheard her and Tara talking about me. Tara asked her why she was so nice to me. Know what the witch said Pet?"
Silently, Alexa shook her head no and squeezed his hand in unspoken support.
"She told the blonde witch that she was nice to me because she knew that someday I'd get my chip out and she hoped that maybe I'd pass up the opportunity to kill her because she'd been friendly and helpful to me during my time of need. Or if I did kill her, I'd be merciful and make it quick and painless."
Dark blue eyes turned and caught her own dark ones and her heart ached for her lover.
"That hurt Pet. That hurt a lot. Needless to say, I wasn't too quick to try and be friendly with the rest of you after that. I didn't start to open up again until Anya and I started talking one day. We were both missing our 'demon powers' so to speak and we sort of bonded in our pain and misery."
A bitterly amused smile flickered across Spike's face only to fade into a smirk.
"You know, she's an odd duck, that Anya is. Some things she just doesn't get at all and I doubt that she ever will, yet other things... she sees right to the heart of the matter. She started making general observations about you and the rest of the Slayerettes. Once she did, things just started to snap into place for me. It was like an eye opener as I began to see for my own self what she had said. I also started noticing things on my own."
Spike squeezed her hand gently and she smiled softly at him.
"That's around the time that you and I started to become friends. I guess you could say that I began to see you through Anya's eyes. Things that hadn't meant anything to me before except as random fact suddenly took on meaning and significance. Once I started paying attention, I'd found that we had a lot more in common than I'd ever expected and I started to actually like you pet."
Now... Wes and Gunn aren't too bad as far as human's go I guess, but I really do like Cordy. She treats me fair and she doesn't back down from me and cringe even though I could kill her easily enough. And she treats you like a real friend should, not like those idiots back in Sunnydale. One day, she'll be gone and as much as I hate to admit it, I'll miss her."
Spike looked at her with a deadly serious expression on his face.
"I've never known a human that I'd miss if they up and died before. I'm not real sure how to handle that... And if some bloody dumb-fuck is actually stupid enough to murder her, then I'll hold the fool down myself while Angel rips his still beating heart out of his chest."
Alexa pulled Spike to her in a fierce hug and glanced up only to see Angel standing silently in the open doorway. She nodded slightly to acknowledge his presence and then turned her full attention back on her lover.
"I love her too Spike. She's my best friend. There are only two other beings in the whole world that I love more and that's you and Anya."
Spike's arms tightened around her briefly and he buried his face in her long midnight curls.
"You too my Pet, you too."
The sun hadn't even set when a slight knocking on their bedroom door pulled her up out of sleep. She stiffened slightly against Spike's chest until she heard his sleep roughened voice rasp out into the silence.
"Bloody Hell. What do you want Peaches? We're sleeping here."
With a murmured protest over being woken up, Alexa relaxed again and cuddled closer to the firmly muscled body laying half under her and rested her head back on Spike's shoulder. Automatically, and probably without thought, Spike's hand raised up and traced a light feathery trail up and down her spine in a soothing and sleepy rhythm. She had almost drifted back into a light slumber when Angel dropped his bombshell, totally shattering any remnants of calm and contentment she had been feeling.
"I, uh... I just got off of the phone with Giles."
Twenty minutes later, the entire gang, with the exception of Gunn who had been paged, was gathered in one of the more down scaled and cozy sitting rooms in the hotel. Alexa still felt the bizarre mixture of stunned shock and imminent panic. After Angel had made his startling announcement, she had gone into immediate hysterics. Spike had chased him from their rooms and then had spent the next fifteen minutes calming her to this point. Then they had dressed and headed down to meet with the others.
Now, here they were and everyone was tense and upset. Cordelia and Spike expected the worse, she knew, but Wesley just seemed... depressed. She figured that it was because he didn't like anything that brought Buffy into Angel's mind, but she was too carried away with her own inner demons to truly figure out his.
Alexa was pulled from her morose and dejected thoughts by Angel clearing his throat. He slowly gazed around the room, meeting every eye before resting his intense stare on her. His visage softened slightly in sympathy for the pain this was giving her, and he finally spoke with a low voice tempered with sadness and worry.
"Um... I've only had limited contact with the gang in Sunnydale since this whole episode with Anya began, so I was left out of the loop on several important things. But, something major happened, and Giles felt that I should be made aware of it."
Angel shifted uncomfortably for a swift moment and then looked off into the distance before continuing.
"Um... When Anya took Willow's ability to speak, apparently she got together with her girlfriend and they worked a spell that gave Willow telepathy. She's been using it ever since then and according to Giles's, she has gotten very good at it. Too good perhaps. See... when Riley got back to Sunnydale, he never said anything about what happened during his visit here, but he was obviously upset. According to Giles, he began to avoid them all and he would literally cringe whenever anyone mentioned Spike's name in his presence."
Angel, Wes and Cordy spared a quick moment to glare accusingly at Spike, but the blonde was painfully unrepentant. He was glad he had traumatized the ex-commando that had caused him so much grief in the past.
"So... Buffy talked Willow into stealing the memories out of his head. When she did, Willow found out about Spike nearly killing him and Alexa healing him up as good as new. Then she found out about Anya's visit. We all thought Riley was still unconscious while she was here, but he woke up half-way through the whole confrontation. He... didn't want Buffy to know about the change to my curse or face Spike for fear he'd kill her like he almost did to him."
It was at this point that Cordelia interrupted. Her voice was angry, her body language was defensive and her eyes held fear. An angry and vengeful Slayer was nothing to be taken lightly.
"So... Buffy and Willow are on their way here? Do we need to fight them? What did Giles say they were planning?"
Angel finally held up one hand to stop the flow of her panicked babbling and winced slightly.
"No... Um, Buffy and Willow aren't on their way here. At least... not yet that I know of. As of right now, Buffy doesn't know anything. When Willow finally was able to get inside of Riley's head, Buffy was at a special class the college offer's for the hearing impaired. So... Willow went straight to Giles and simply... transferred all of the knowledge she'd gained from Riley directly into Giles head. Giles said it was almost like living the events from Riley's point of view. Well... he convinced Willow not to tell Buffy until he'd had a chance to confront me about what transpired."
Angel grew silent and took a deep unneeded breath. A pensive and apologetic look crossed his face and it seemed he was going to bite back the words on the tip of his tongue. However, after squirming a moment, he sighed and then turned back to face Alexa. He looked her right in the eye, holding her sad and frightened gaze with his own regretful and pain filled one.
"Alexa. Giles wants you to try and... heal them of the injuries that Anya laid on them. He's not sure if it will work since it's really a curse and not actual physical injuries, but he wants you to try. He said that, while they would still be angry at Anya and Spike, they would forgive you. Even if it didn't work."
Everyone gasped in shock and Alexa felt her heart skip a beat as a huge wave of emotional anguish threatened to drown her soul. She felt like a fruit left to wither on the vine, dry and rotting through her core. Spike however, was beyond anger and headed straight into unthinking fury. He's shifted into full blown gameface almost instantly and leapt to his feet with a roar.
"What the BLOODY FUCK!!! She didn't do anything wrong to be forgiven for!!! My Pet was ten times the victim in this mess as any one of those self-centered idiots!"
Spike began to pace the room in overwhelmed agitation. His booted feet stomped on the tiled floor and he waved his arms with dramatic gestures through the air while everyone just watched in amazed fear-laced shock as the vampire known and feared the world over as William the Bloody threw a first class temper tantrum.
"Of all the arrogant vicious mean and down right inane things to suggest! How dare they even consider waving such a thing in her face?"
Spike stopped his pacing long enough to kick a wooden chair into splinters. Cordelia made a gesture as if to make Angel intervene, but the dark haired vampire shushed her quickly. Spike was way too dangerous right now and he wasn't thinking clearly at all. His anger was far too raw just yet.
"I should bloody well kill them all. Rip out their innards and dangle their slippery slimy parts from the brightest light pole I can bloody well find."
The raging blonde vampire snatched a ceramic vase with light blue flowers painted on it's glazed surface off of an end table. With a heave, he launched the hapless thing at the wall. It shattered into a hundred clay fragments and fine powdered dust.
"They deserve to suffer. All of them. They didn't even care that my Pet was suffering. Not once did they bother to find out if she was okay. They just whined and whimpered about their own miserable lives... like always and it's all so stupid!"
Spike stormed over to the fire-place and grabbed up the wrought-iron fire poker and hefted it's weight in his hands quickly. Then he swung it back over his head in preparation to swing it with blunt force at a glass framed picture hanging on the wall. That's when Alexa opened her mouth and spoke up in a soft and sorrowful voice.
"I'll do it."
Her words startled everyone, including Spike, and as such, his aim was horribly off. The metal fire poker went flying threw the air towards the door just as Gunn stepped into the room. Only his battle honed reflexes allowed him to duck in time to prevent being brained by the tool turned projectile weapon. However, Spike didn't even spare the glaring and sputtering Demon Hunter a glance. Instead he dashed across the room to drop to his knees in front of her and he gently cupped her face in his hands.
"Luv... Alexa. You don't have to do this. You don't need to be forgiven. You've done nothing wrong!"
Alexa gave him a watery tear filled smile that wavered just a bit.
"I know. I don't even want their forgiveness. But I don't want them to suffer either. The work they do is too important and the world needs them. So... I'll try. If not for them, then for the innocent people that they can save."
Two nights later found her, her lover and her lover's Sire pulling into Sunnydale. Wesley, Cordelia and Gunn and been wary about letting them head off to visit an angry Slayer, but neither Spike nor Angel wanted Alexa to face them alone.
As they drove slowly through town, Alexa found herself gazing about, amazed at how different everything seemed to her now. Part of it was because she was female now and had started to look for certain things that she'd been oblivious to until Cordy had pointed them out to her. She noticed shops and restaurants and social activities that had never been important to the old Xander.
She also noticed other things. Things that had never felt odd before since she had been born and raised on the Hellmouth, so she'd had nothing to compare it to. For one, Sunnydale was small. L.A. was so much larger and dirtier and... complex. Secondly, the population here was... disproportionate. Yes, she knew the college kept the number of younger people high, but still, it was out of balance.
What's more... she wasn't afraid of the demonic population. At all. Yes, she'd spent years as a Slayerette and had faced more mean and ugly then most townies ever did, but it was still... different. Maybe it was because she was sitting in a car with the two strongest demons on the entire Hellmouth. Or maybe it was because Anya's curse made it so she couldn't die. Not even Buffy could kill her. The Slayer still had the power to destroy her emotionally, yes... but physically, she would simply... heal.
In fact, her only real fear was that Buffy would either attack Spike on sight, or that she'd manage to piss him off enough that he'd attack her. While she didn't want to see Buffy dead, there was no way in hell that she'd let the Slayer dust Spike. If Buffy died, another Slayer would be called to take her place... there was no one who could ever replace her lover.
But there was something else as well. Something that wasn't explained in the physical, or even the emotional. It was all of these things and yet so much more all at once. It was... spiritual. It had started as a faint hum in the back of her skull when they first crossed the borders of town, and it had grown steadily the further into the heart of Sunnydale they traveled. It was something intangible and yet achingly familiar to her.
Letting her eyes drift shut and her mind spiral open to catch hold of the euphoric wisps and threads, she felt the faint hum crest into a pulse, like an extra heartbeat. One that vibrated through her, not physically, but spiritually. With mild curiosity and childlike wonderment, she searched her mind for what this sensation could be. It was something she knew, yet she was sensing it in a whole new way. Then, in a flash of illumination, she understood what it was she could sense so clearly.
She had spend countless hours literally sitting on top of it. Her whole life had revolved around it in one way or another and in it's own mindless way, it knew and recognized her as well. And now, with her curse and hell-spawned abilities, she could feel the power it radiated. She was becoming more intimately attuned to it with each passing second.
She smiled softly. She had come home... not to the Scooby Gang, but to the Hellmouth.
Alexa found her mind bathed in an eery calm as Angel pulled his car up in front of Giles's home. She stayed silent as the trio got out of the car and walked up to the front door. At one time, before Anya's curse, she would have been welcome to just walk in. Now, however, she knocked on the door and waited.
After a brief wait, the door swung open to reveal Willow. The petite red-headed witch looked up at her, a puzzled expression on her face. Then, her bright green eyes swept past her to take in the sight of Spike and Angel standing behind her and recognition flickered in her eyes. Alexa watched, acutely uncomfortable, as Willow's eyes snapped back to her. Her once best friend, stared at her with an intensity and curiosity that was unnerving even as her open face revealed the extreme level of shock she was feeling. Alexa shifted slightly under that gaze and then took a deep steadying breath.
"Invite us all in, or have everyone meet us somewhere neutral. I won't come in alone."
The word 'unguarded' hung between them unspoken although everyone knew that was what Alexa meant. A slight frown appeared on Willow's face and then her eyes unfocused slightly. She could hear movement coming from deeper inside Giles's apartment and then suddenly, Buffy appeared leading her blinded Watcher gently by the arm. It was obvious that the blonde girl was furious by the heated glare she leveled at the three standing outside the door and her voice was a hissed snarl.
"So Xander... ran straight to your demon friends, I see. Well... we don't want them here, so tell them to leave before I decide to dust them."
Alexa tried so very hard to keep her face a blank and uncaring mask, but she was sure that her eyes flashed with anger at Buffy's words. As calm and unaffected as she tried to appear, her words still came out clipped, almost as if she had bitten them off.
With that, she turned around and started to head back down the stairs, the two master vampires following her. Buffy's shrill demanding tones halted her in her tracks however.
"Wait a minute. You can't leave. You have to fix us! It's only them I want out of here."
Alexa turned around to face the people who had once meant everything to her and ground her teeth in angry frustration. She balled her hands into fists and trembled for a minute until she could let the tension drain out of her enough to speak.
"I was asked to try and remove Anya's curse and I'm willing to attempt it. However, I will not be separated from Spike and Angel. If you don't want to invite us in, then we can go somewhere else. And if either of them gets dusted, I will devote the remainder of my life to inflicting unspeakable torture and agony upon all three of you as well as all of your blood descendents until the very end of time."
Alexa made sure to catch both Buffy and Willow's eyes. She wanted them to know that she was very serious about her threat.
Willow's eyes went unfocused again and Alexa was sure that the witch had all three of them in some bizarre telepathic communication. For long moments, everyone was still and the night of eerily quiet. It was finally Giles's soft melodious voice that broke the silence.
"Do all three of you swear not to become violent if I let you in?"
Immediately, Buffy began to argue, both out loud, and Alexa was sure... telepathically. Her Watcher would have none of that, however, and he gestured her to silence.
Alexa had known that Angel would agree. Everyone's head turned to Spike. The blonde vampire was glaring distrustfully at the Slayer.
"I won't start anything, but if Buffy, or anyone else for that matter, come's at any of us then all bets are off and I start eating people."
Buffy opened her mouth, most likely to object, but once again, Giles cut her off.
"Deal! Please, do come in."
Buffy snorted in anger and stomped off into the living room. Giles sighed softly and Willow took his arm and carefully led him back to where the Slayer was waiting. After a heartbeat of hesitation, Alexa and her vampire escorts followed.
It didn't take them long to all get seated in Giles's comfortably overstuffed living room. The three from L.A. ended up sitting close together and the three from Sunnydale also huddled in a group. An empty space filled with animosity and distrust lay between them. Riley Finn was conspicuous by his absence.
Feeling uncomfortable and distinctly unwanted there, Alexa had a growing urge to complete her task and return to L.A. She wasn't sure when Angel Investigations had become a necessary part of her life, but she found that she missed it... and the humans they'd left behind there. Especially Cordelia. Alexa suddenly longed for the brash and blunt, yet completely supportive woman who had become the second most important being in her life. She wanted this whole confrontation to just be over with so she could head back to her friends, her real friends. With that thought in mind, Alexa was about to ask who wanted to attempt it first when Angel suddenly whipped his head around to stare at Willow and grimaced.
"Willow... you should really get out of my head. There are things in my mind that you don't want to find."
Alexa felt a bolt of shock and dismay that her one time best friend would attempt to leach into Angel's head and try to steal his memories and thoughts. She found the whole idea to be disturbing and... evil. She knew that the witch had... changed, but she didn't realize how much until just now. At least Willow had the grace to look chastised, but Buffy leapt on this as another excuse to offer up threats and taunts.
"Why? What are you hiding inside your head that Willow shouldn't see? Are you planning on secretly attacking us? Maybe we shouldn't have trusted your word after all."
Angel blanched and that was a difficult thing for a vampire to do. Buffy's words had cut deeply and Alexa found herself clenching her hands into fists again. But as obviously upset as he was, Angel still managed to answer her accusations with a measure of calm.
"Actually, I was trying to protect her. She would not like it if she delved into Angelus's memories. God knows I don't."
Willow paled at that thought and even Buffy drew back slightly, but Spike smirked. Evilly. Making a broad sweeping gesture with one hand, he invited the red-head to try it on him.
"I don't know. Sounds like a bloody lovely idea to me. Go ahead Red, sink your mental claws into my mind. From what I understand, it's as if you actually experience what the memories are about, right? Well... what would you like me to concentrate on, huh? What it feels like to be turned? First the painful death from severe blood loss followed by the blood-demon being born inside your body while your soul is torn away. Or perhaps you'd like to delve into my memories of torturing and slaughtering humans... I could even dredge up the memory of how their hot living blood tasted as it slid down my throat. Or maybe you would rather me remember the time I was presented to the Master's Court as a young fledge and they passed me around like a bitable screaming clawing fuck-toy? Your call ducks, tell me what part of being a bloodthirsty demon you want to experience and then dive right into me brain."
Alexa watched as Willow sank back further and further into the couch cushions, her horror clearly etched onto her face. She could almost... almost feel pity for the witch, but not quite. She just hoped that Willow got the point. She wouldn't like or enjoy what she found in any of their minds. And if she dipped in without asking and got caught, she'd find herself treated to the worst memory they could dredge up as punishment.
Still, Alexa didn't want to draw this out any further. She knew she had to act quickly, or someone else was going to say something or do something and things would continue to deteriorate around her. In the hopes that it would work, she cleared her throat loudly. All eyes tracked to her.
"Um... okay. Before we go for round two, could we just get started here? I'm nervous enough about this as it is, and this snipping and snarling at one another is not helping. I'm not sure how long this will take or if it will even work. I'm willing to try, but I won't be able to concentrate if you all are arguing. Now. Who's first?"
Alexa was exhausted. Wearily, she leaned up against Spike in the back seat of Angel's car as they headed towards LA. All she wanted to do was sleep. Or possibly eat. Maybe both? In either case, she didn't think she would manage to stay awake long enough to get somewhere that offered food. Between her mental, emotional and physical energy being drained to extremely low levels and the smooth lulling motion of the big car and Spike's warm and tender embrace, she knew that she would soon be fast asleep.
The task she had set herself of healing the Slayer, the Watcher and the Witch had been both stunningly simple and horrifyingly difficult all at once. In each case, she only had to make minor changes and adjustments wherein with Riley, she had literally yanked him out of the maw of death.
Buffy's ear canals had merely grown a fleshy plug that blocked all sound from reaching the eardrum. The fact that she could hear her heartbeat was because the plugs each had an artery running through them. That was the only sound that made it's way into her innermost ear. All that Alexa had done was coax the growth to shrink back to it's normal size and shape. Instant perfect ears and hearing.
Giles's eyes were much the same. Anya's spell had forced milky white cataracts to cover his still perfectly functioning eyes. Once Alexa healed the cataracts, his vision was the same as it had been before. Feeling generous, she'd gone one step further and corrected the stigmatism that forced him to wear glasses. The Watcher could now see better than he ever had before.
Willow was a bit more difficult. Her larynx had been altered to the point where her vocal cords were immobile. It had taken more effort to remove the obstruction and to cause those long tendon like cords to become elastic once again. After several trials and errors, however, she had hit upon the correct sequence of necessary steps, and now Willow was able to babble once more.
Admittedly, it didn't sound like a lot when compared to the extensive and life threatening injuries that Riley has sustained. But there was one major difference that Alexa hadn't really considered until now. Riley had been an emergency and she had acted on instinct to use abilities she hadn't even been aware existed. Fear and adrenaline had fueled her actions and she didn't even think about it. She just... did it.
This time, she had to stop and actively will her abilities into play and she used her mind and not her instincts to guide her. On top of that, overwhelming emotion hadn't been the power source that gave her the energy and strength to use her power. All of the energy had come directly from inside of her own body, even as she pulled in more power and strength from the Hellmouth itself. She had fed her healing gifts with her own lifeforce and her lifeforce was sustained by demonic energy. It was akin to straining weak spiritual muscles that had only barely been flexed before and now she was experiencing a sort of psychic backlash.
She couldn't even drum up the energy to be mad at Buffy for her unthinking callousness and arrogant self-indulgence. After she'd finally finished with Willow, she'd lurched to her feet and staggered towards Spike. Her lover had leapt forward and caught her before she crumbled to her knees from the exertion. He had pulled her into his arms and carefully carried her over to his Sire. In a breathy and shaky voice she had pleaded with the two vampires to just take her home so she could fall into bed and sleep. Neither had argued. Instead, they had helped her put her coat back on and then began to lead her back to the front door. That's when Buffy called out to her in confusion and disapproval.
"Xander... er... Alexa or whatever you want to be called. Look. You don't have to leave with... them. We forgive you now. You can stay. I mean, this is your home and we forgive you."
All three of them stiffened up in anger at her words. Alexa felt as if she had taken a punch to the stomach and all of the air whooshed out of her lungs. From the corner of her eye, she could see Spike's eyes flash deep gold as he tried to control himself. Angel's tortured whisper asking himself how he could have loved her once was spoken so softly that Alexa knew only she and Spike could have heard it. In the end, it was she who answered the Slayer, and all without turning around to look at her. With her back still turned and only a step from the door, she spoke in a tired and sorrowful voice.
"Yes... but I have not forgiven you. And the Scooby Gang was never my home... The Hellmouth itself is my home. You merely tolerated me, but I was not wanted. Goodbye Slayer."
And with her tattered dignity wrapped around her like a cloak, she and her lover and her lover's Sire walked out and into the night.
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