The Prophecy of the Defender & the Determined Protector


by
Skargasm



Part Sixteen

Nothing had been heard from Willow for the past five days, days in which Xander and Spike settled into their mutual claim, Giles and Leslie worked on the spell to bind Willow's powers, and Angel and Buffy patrolled, argued and made love.

"I don't know what's wrong with him. I mean, thank God for slayer healing is all I can say!" Xander and Buffy were sat in the gardens of the mansion, licking ice cream cones and soaking up some rays.

"Is he hurting you?" Xander exclaimed, half getting to his feet.

"What?! No. And Hell no!! It's just - ok, Angel has always been, well, vigorous, but lately it's like he's trying to stamp his mark on me or something. He's worse than the energiser bunny - every time I turn round he's all over me!"

"Ewww! with a side order of positively way too much information!" The pair snickered. Living in the mansion it was next to impossible not to hear the two couples when they were in the privacy of their own rooms, and blushing was practically a thing of the past.

Giles now knocked before entering any room in the house, having walked in on one of Spike and Xander's training sessions and caught them christening the training mats.

"Seriously though, Buff, did you hear what you just said?"

"What?"

"About him trying to put his mark on you? I know you and Angel have talked about him claiming you - maybe he's just struggling with the urge and sublimating."

"Ooooh, big word there Xander!" she punched him on the arm as he blushed.

"Yeah well, Spike likes reading to me in bed and I - well, I enjoy it more than I ever liked school. So yeah, I'm learning a lot - and I don't mean about that so get your dirty mind out of the sewer!!" He sneaked a glance at her. "Ok, not just about that!!"

"I kinda gathered things were going well in that department."

"Yeah, no complaints here," he smirked. They looked at each other again, and collapsed in giggles. Sobering up slowly, Buffy turned to him again.

"So do you really think it's this claiming thing?"

"Yeah, I really do. Spike's told me a lot about that stuff, about how his demon feels all possessive and stuff. It must be really hard for Angel fighting his demon all the time, wanting to claim you but wanting to protect and respect your right to choose. And I think it's harder for him since Spike claimed me - Spike's his childe and has something he doesn't, but something he desperately wants. It's gotta rankle and a rankled demon is gonna be difficult to calm down."

"Yeah. Yeah, I see what you mean."


~*~*~*~*~


"You gonna claim her?" Spike and Angel stood just back from the window, watching their lovers in the sunshine.

"I want to. But she's not sure. And I can't say I blame her. Let's be frank, Angelus is not the poster child for 'the demon you want to tie yourself to for eternity' and that's what she would be doing. I know she still struggles with the things he - I did."

"If you don't claim her, are ya gonna be able to hold it together?" Angel turned and looked at Spike for a moment, then shook his head.

"I really don't know Will. It's getting harder and harder, it's like every time she's away from me I have to stake my claim, mark her with my scent because I want everyone - demons, humans - to know that she's mine." Spike sighed, well aware of the struggle his Sire was dealing with. "I want what you have. I envy you."

"I know how lucky I am, believe me. The Whelp is fuckin' amazing, just accepts everything about me - no soul but no fear. It's - I dunno, it just stuns me all the time. I mean, I know what's in his heart and I've never felt anything like it." For a moment, Spike looked vulnerable and young, and Angel felt a twinge for what used to be. If Angelus hadn't been such an evil bastard, if he'd handled the soul better, Will could have been his. He would have come to him when he was chipped and they could have..... Shaking his head, refusing to consider what might have been, Angel knew he was hiding from the situation with Buffy. She either had to accept him as a vampire as well as a man, once and for all, or they would have to go their separate ways again. It wasn't safe to keep pushing himself this way.


~*~*~*~*~


"We're ready." Giles and Leslie stood in the doorway, spell components packed safely in a satchel as they watched the foursome load up with weapons. It seemed strange to be doing this when it was just Willow they were facing, but they wanted to be ready for anything and everything.

"So you're sure of where she is? No chance she's messing with your locator spell?" Buffy asked, shoving some stakes into her jacket.

"She's in the basement of the school. It's worrisome that she's so close to the Hellmouth - it concerns me greatly that whatever darkness is inside her may grow stronger while she's there." Giles was grim-faced but determined. They needed to deal with this now, before Willow became more powerful.

"Right. Giles, you and Leslie hang back until we've given the area a proper sweep. We clear it of vamps and whatever other oogly booglies are hanging around, then we get in there and we get our Wills back. Any questions?" The strategising and organising of the plan had all come from Xander, the soldier memories coming to the forefront as he discussed with Spike and Angel the best way to approach the situation. It was yet another side to the young man, and Giles was kept busy cataloguing the changes he was going through without being too invasive. “Ok, let's go.”

They took two cars to the school, Xander snuggled in the back of Angel's convertible with Spike.

“Luv, you don't take any chances, you get me? I know you've got more control over the hyena, can call her up when you need her, yeah, but just – mojo frightens me and I don't wanna lose you, ok?”

“I know Spike, I know. But I worry more about you – Willow really has it in for you, so you need to stay out of sight, ok? I've never felt about anyone the way I feel about you – I don't want to lose that, so you keep yourself safe or else buddy!”

“Right pair of poofs we are!” Lighting up, Spike looked out of the window. He was so scared – the bint had been right powerful before, who knew what sort of power she had now she was based over the Hellmouth?


~*~*~*~*~


The area round the school was very quiet – no demons, no vampires, nothing. As a group they felt slightly over-dressed, weighted down with so much weaponry with no visible enemy to engage. As they entered the basement, the atmosphere became heavy and menacing.

“I know you're here – you might as well put the lights on.” Willow's voice echoed slightly in the large room causing Buffy and Xander to jump, Angel and Spike stiffening. They fanned out to make themselves a more difficult target, all of them jumping when they heard her say “Illumine” and a bright white light appeared, lighting the whole room.

Willow was huddled in a corner. Her clothes were torn and dirty, her hair bedraggled, her hands with broken nails digging into her head.

“Willow....”

“I can always tell when you're there. Even when you think I don't know, I do. Sometimes I light up the room and you're not visible, but I know you're there.”

“Willow – we want to help you.”

“No, no you don't. The voice told me – you want me to stay weak, to be a good little girl and stand behind you. But I can help, really I can. I just – the spells can make so much difference, the voice told me. It's worth it – don't you see Buffy? It's worth it if it keeps us safe and together. Just the Scoobies, because we belong together. I just want things back the way they were, you know, before – before everything.” She shook her head, rising to her feet and drawing a gasp from Buffy and Xander as they saw her properly for the first time. Her hair was jet black, her skin marked with jagged dark lines, eyes pure black with no green to be seen. “I didn't mean to hurt Xander, but he chose. He chose Spike – I can't believe he chose Spike over me, but he did. And I didn't mean to kill him – I really didn't. But the voice says if I can just soak up a bit more power, can just hang onto it, I can bring him back. Not – not like your Mom, Buffy, when we tried that I wasn't strong enough – but now, now I can do it. I can bring him back and we can be together again. And – and, if I bring him back – when I do it – he won't be claimed anymore. Spike won't be able to get his hands on him and Xander can go back to being our Xander-shaped friend, and be there for us. Won't that be good Buffy?” her voice rambled on as she paced back and forth in a small line, never venturing far from the wall.

“Willow, you didn't kill Xander! He's here Will, he's here and he wants you safe.”

“No – no, you keep lying to me. You just want to trap me, take me away from the power. Keep me stuffed down in a box like – like my parents, and the teachers and everyone! Little Willow Rosenberg. Well I'm not her anymore – not little Ms Nobody!! I'm strong now – just watch!” Gesturing with her hands, Willow aimed unerringly for Angel, the lightning bolt striking him cleanly in the chest and sending him flying backwards.

“ANGEL!!!” Buffy rushed over to him, petrified. “Not dust – that means he's ok – he's not dust! Willow, we need to get you out of here – you don't know what you're doing!”

“Yes I do – I do know. I'm not stupid, I'm not. And I'm not going to be left behind anymore – you're off with Angel, and Xander – I hurt Xander, oh Goddess I didn't mean to, but I hurt Xander. What am I going to do? No, I can get him back – I can. I just need to hold on a bit longer and I can bring him back!”

“Hey Wills.” Xander stepped forward, unable to stand back any longer. “What ya doin'? Come on, Wills, let's get out of here. We can sit back, eat twinkies, I'll even watch your choice of movie – whatdya say?”

“Xander? Is it really you?”

“Yeah, Wills, it's me. See, look, I'm not dead. So you don't need to soak up any more power or anything like that. I'm here and if you come with me, we'll be safe. Ok? Let's do that, Wills, how about it?” Stepping closer, he held out his hands to her.

“Oh Xander, I was so scared, I - “ Suddenly her head whipped round and she glared at Spike. “I knew it was a lie, I knew it!!! YOU! It's all your fault – all of this, is all your fault!! Do you think I didn't see you – watching him, pretending to be his friend – when all the time you just wanted to get your nasty hands on him.” She stepped towards Spike, hate sparkling in her eyes. “I figured out how to kill your chip ages ago but there was no way I was going to help an evil soulless monster like you. And I'm not letting you touch my Xander – not ever again. And I don't have to kill you – I can just keep you in pain forever and ever, make it so you can never come near him again!” Fingers splayed, palms upward, head thrown back, Willow began to levitate, a chill wind ripping through the room as she gathered the power towards her.

“Willow – please, Willow – don't do this – please...”

She turned to look at Xander, the sight eerie with her eyes all black. She looked almost mournful. “I have to save you Xander – I have to.”

“Willow stop!”





Part Seventeen

It felt like everything was going in slow motion but speeded up at the same time. Willow turned back to Spike, an incantation on her lips as she rose higher, the wind whipping her black hair around her, lightning crackling at her fingertips. Spike was frozen in place momentarily, eyes caught by Xander's as he realised there wasn't time for him to escape whatever curse she was getting ready to throw at him. Screaming at Willow to stop, Xander sprinted towards her, determined to stop her doing something she would forever regret if they got her back, aware of Spike moving forward at the same time.

He threw himself at her, smacking into the boundaries of the spell protecting her and falling to the floor in front of Spike. She turned to him, striking out with the lighting and catching him across the head. Shaking it off, he tried once more to get to her. Again, she gestured with her hands, pushing him back as she continued to intone the curse, knocking him into Spike til they both fell to the ground. Refusing to give in, Xander scrabbled to his feet along with Spike, one hand pushing Spike behind him, the other swiping at the blood slowly dripping down his face.

“Willow – I love him. Please, Willow, don't do this.”

“You don't know what's best for you. I have to save you – I'm doing this for you Xander.”

“My Willow wouldn't do this, knowing how much it would hurt me. My Willow would know this would mean the end of my world if she took away the man I love. And I love that Willow. I will always love that Willow. I would go to the ends of the earth for that Willow. Because to me she's always going to be the little red-headed girl who broke the yellow crayon, who helped me get through school, who was there for me when I needed to escape my parents. And who couldn't love that Willow?”

“Stop it – I have to - ”

“I love you Willow. Please, don't do this. Please.”

The wind stuttered, the lightning at her fingertips skittering haphazardly around before fizzling out.

“Xander, I have to – the voice.....”

“I don't care about a voice, Willow. I care about you. I love YOU. And I will always be here for you, always. Please, Willow, don't take my heart away from me. Please.” Stepping closer, Xander reached out for her.

“But – I don't know how to – how do I stop Xander? I can't get away from the voice, it's always in there - talking at me, telling me to do things – I've done so many things wrong...”

“It's okay, Willow, it's all going to be okay. Please. I love him.” He stood directly in front of her, eyes calm, looking her in the eye. “I will always love you Willow. And I will always love him. Please, don't make me choose. Please.” The wind died completely, Willow's feet coming to the floor and she slumped.

“Oh Goddess, Xander, what have I done?” Horrified, she fell to her knees, crying as the realisation hit her all at once. She had attacked her friends, almost killed Xander, and even knowing that hurting Spike could damage Xander she had almost cursed him for eternity. How could Xander ever forgive her after all of that?

As she crumpled to the ground, Xander was right there with her, taking her in his arms and pulling her close.

“It's going to be okay, Willow, I promise. I love you. We all love you, and we're going to do everything we can to help you. It's okay.” Stroking her hair, he watched as the black slowly faded, her eyes bleeding back to green. Looking over her shoulder, he nodded at Giles and Leslie who were in the doorway, ready to do the spell. “It's okay, we love you just the way you are, Willow, and we are here for you – always.”

As they spoke the incantation, he heaved a sigh of relief, catching a glimpse of Buffy cradling Angel who was just coming to. He turned slightly, still holding her close and looked directly at Spike who was staring at him. Until he thought he was going to lose him to whatever curse Willow had been incanting, he hadn't realised just how much Spike meant to him. To lose Spike would mean the end of his world, and he knew that Spike felt the same way. And now they had Willow back and they could help her, maybe now they could have some peace.

Willow passed out as the binding spell took effect, and he lay her gently on the ground, getting to his feet and walking up to Spike.

“I do you know. I love you so much – you are my heart.” Spike pulled him close, wrapping his arms around him tightly as though reassuring himself that he was there – whole and alive.

“Love you too. And that's the second time you've thrown yourself in front of magic for me. If my heart beat, it would have stopped right then. Love you Xander, don't know what I'd do without you. Probably go bug-shagging crazy. Don't do it again - you hear me luv?”

"Yeah, I hear you. And I have no current plans to get in front of any mojo ever again!"

Resting his head against Spike's, Xander wallowed in the feeling – they were all safe, Willow was going to be alright, and they had made it through another apocalypse. Sometimes you just had to relish the moment.




Epilogue

“Giles says Willow's settling in at the Coven really well, that they're considering loosening the binding spell.” Cradling her coffee cup, Buffy looked over at Xander who was tucking into a huge lunch. Since returning to work and college respectively, they had made a point of meeting up at least once a week during the day to spend time together and catch up without their respective vampires in tow. The loss of Willow was huge for both of them, and the knowledge that she might not return from England for quite some time made them both very aware of how important their friendship was.

Swallowing his large mouthful, Xander looked up and grinned. “Yeah, I got a letter from her – she sounds good. Promised me a whole heap of 'I'm sorry I tried to curse your husband' cookies again! I told her not to worry, just to put my name down on the betting pool for Giles and Leslie.”

“The what?”

“Come on, Buffy, don't tell me you didn't realise Giles and Leslie were getting serious?? D'uh, like Leslie couldn't have taken Willow back to England alone. You are so blind sometimes!” Laughing at the squicked look on her face, he took a long drink of his soda. “There's a pool going on at the Coven as to when they get hitched – I already scooped the pool on when they'd start doing the nasty!”

“Xander!!”

“What? Construction pays well but every little helps. Gotta keep my vamp in the style he's become accustomed to.” They both laughed at that. Spike had cashed in roughly half of the treasure he had found along with the Gem of Amara, and money was most definitely no longer a worry for any of them. Despite the lack of money worries,it had been a difficult six months for all of them - a major period of adjustment but they were starting to come out the other side.

Every day, Xander was learning more about himself – what he could do now that he and the hyena were fully integrated. And Spike was helping him a lot – training with him, letting him talk things through, believing in him. He hadn't realised how low his self-esteem and confidence was until he had someone who believed in him unconditionally – now he actually looked back and saw the good things he had achieved rather than calling himself the Zeppo and Donut Boy.

He still didn't feel worthy of the title “Defender of Mankind” - after all, he hadn't done even half of the things that Buffy had done – but Spike said there was time, they had nothing but time and no doubt there would be future apocalypses that Xander could and would help avert. The two of them were helping Buffy keep control of the Hellmouth whilst Giles was in England, regular visits from Angel and Wesley filling in any gaps.

“Any decisions about Deadboy?” He looked up at Buffy, aware that this was a sore topic of conversation. Spike had explained to him how difficult Angel was finding the situation, that he struggled every day not to try to impose his will on Buffy. Xander wasn't sure which way she would fall – there was little doubt that she loved Angel, it was obvious even to him and he used to be the biggest naysayer of their relationship. But love wasn't always enough and he feared what would happen.

Absentmindedly tearing her napkin into little pieces, Buffy avoided his gaze.

“I just don't know. I'm needed here – he's needed in L.A. I don't see how we can do the whole claimed thing and still take care of what needs taking care of.”

“Buffy..... that sounds like nothing so much as excuses. What is it – do you not trust him? What?”

“I just – I don't know Xander. There's something holding me back, stopping me making that final move. Maybe it's the whole Slayer/Vampire thing, maybe that part of me is rejecting it as wrong, perverse somehow? D'you know what I mean?”

“Yeah – yeah, I know what you mean. But Buff, you're gonna have to make up your mind and soon. Even I can see how on edge Angel is, and time is just going to make it worse. Try to remember, you're not just the Slayer, ok? You're a beautiful young woman as well, and you are entitled to life and love and all those things.”

She looked up at him with a tear in her eye.

“But I wouldn't have all those things would I Xander? I've lived longer than any other Slayer for decades, and it's like, what else is out there for me? Once I finish my course, I could actually do something with my life. Marriage, kids – what about all of that? I can't have that with Angel, not unless he gets Shanshu and we all know how reliable the PTB are.”

“Is that what you're holding out for? Marriage, kids and the white picket fence? Buffy – I know I said you're a woman too, but you are never going to be normal. It's just not going to happen. I'm not saying you can't have that, but what are the chances of you finding someone normal in your line of work?”

“I'm just so scared Xander. What if I make the wrong choice? If I do this – if I accept Angel's claim, that's it, done deal, no backing out. Doesn't that scare you – even just a little?”

“Honestly? No. It actually reassures me – Spike is never going to leave me voluntarily and I know he loves me. He's just – I dunno, don't laugh, just so determined to protect me – from everything. I know I'm safe with him, and it makes me so at peace. And he knows I'm never going to leave him and that I love him. It kinda removes a lot of the normal relationship bullshit fears – leaves the way clear to just be with each other.” The soft smile on his face made her wince, realising that she might never have that, even with Angel. She knew Xander loved all of Spike – the demon, the very proper English gentleman that was more and more in evidence lately, the Big Bad swaggering and posturing around. But she couldn't say the same about Angel, and that was what was holding her back. She looked up as Xander took her hand. “Buff, you gotta be honest – with yourself and with Angel. Talk to him, tell him what's holding you back. Before you lose him. He's fighting so hard for you, but he can't keep fighting forever, you know?”

She nodded, swiping at the tears she hadn't realised she was shedding. Yeah, she needed to talk to Angel. But she was so scared of what the result would be.


~*~*~*~*~


Eyes glinting green, Xander leapt and tackled Spike to the ground, rolling with him until he had him tucked beneath his larger body, trapped.

“Got ya!!”

“Oh yeah?”

“Oh ye – uh!” Grunting as Spike elbowed him sharply in the gut, Xander flinched backwards, losing his advantage and ending up tucked underneath his lover in a reversal of their positions! “No fair!!”

“Ah ah ah, luv, told ya before – no gloating til you know you've won!” Smirking in his face, Spike flipped Xander over onto his front and grabbed the length of rope he had tucked by the wall in preparation. Pulling Xander's arms behind him, he wrapped him securely from the elbows down so that he was unable to move his arms or struggle effectively. “OI!!” He lurched back from the vicious kick Xander aimed at his groin, slapping him sharply on the arse in retailiation. Jumping to his feet, he picked Xander up easily, throwing him over his shoulder and making his way through the warehouse to the bedroom.

They had found, purchased and remodelled the warehouse on the edge of Sunnydale, necro tinted glass everywhere making it safe for Spike to be in the sun without turning to dust, huge squishy sofas and armchairs scattered around along with soft rugs. The TV and hi-fi system was top of the range, although Xander took great delight in making fun of Spike settling down for his regular episodes of 'Passions' in surround sound.

The whole place was a sensualists dream of fabrics and textures, with tubes of lube to be found in many a nook and cranny since they made love wherever they happened to be.

Spike slapped him on the arse again, grinning as Xander yelled his objection. “To the winner the spoils, luv, and I am going to enjoy this. Got ya to myself for the whole weekend and I intend to keep you tied to the bed the WHOLE time and have my way with ya!” Xander wiggled happily, more than willing to go along with that plan.

Yeah, a whole weekend being fucked through the mattress and spoiled rotten by his gorgeous vampire. Who knew the words of a prophecy could work out so well for him?!




The End



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