Imaginary Images

Chapter Thirty-One

Spike tried to shake Xander awake. "Wake up, mate! Címon."

Xander, bleary eyed and still disoriented from the mind-blowing sex a few hours earlier, slowly woke up. "I donít wanna." He tried to roll over and go back to sleep.

"Címon, you bloody stubborn git. I had another vision." Spike started pulling the sheets off the bed, trying to get Xander to move.

"Oh crap, hang on. Iím waking up now. Have I told you lately how much I hate these things?" Xander grumped as he climbed out of bed.

Spike impatiently waited for Xander to throw on some shorts and get some coffee. He paced back and forth in the kitchenette area, totally nude.

"Spike, would you go get dressed? We donít need the girls coming out here and seeing you in all your glory."

"Jealous of someone else seeing the merchandise, pet?" Spike leered, and with his hands on his hips, he twisted back and forth, showing off. Even in the sickly glow of the small fluorescent light over the sink, Spike looked amazing to Xander. Spike turned partly away and clenched his ass, emphasizing the muscles.

Xander forgot about his coffee and stared as his face flushed. Totally distracted, he asked, "Uh, what were we talking about?"

"I knew thatíd wake yer arse up." With a smirk, Spike went and threw on a pair of jeans. Finally settled on the couch, Xander took Spikeís hand as he started to describe the vision.

Once again standing behind The Hyperion, Spike let out a frustrated growl at seeing nothing and no one, just the usual abandoned alley.

"Easy there, Blondie Bear." Gunn suddenly appeared right next to Spike. This time Gunn had on one of his gray pinstripe suits and was carrying a briefcase.

Spike jumped. "Christ, donít do that. Whatís this about this time? Iíve got some shagginí to get back to, ya know."

"I see that. However, weíve got business. Wes and I are glad to see youíve made progress on the books. We noticed youíre stuck on the power issue, though. Shouldnít be. Think about it Spike. I mean, think about Pavayne. Heís still down there, ya know?"

"What the bloody hell are you talking about? Pavayne? Not touching that one."

"Spike. Donít be dense. Go show your boy. Heíll see." Throughout the entire conversation Gunn kept circling Spike, making him spin around to keep up.

Off in the distance a loud screech echoed back and forth between the vacant buildings. Gunn finally stopped walking around Spike and looked up, worried. "Blondie Bear, you and yours have to figure this out fast. Hear that? Thatís the dragon. I think heís getting tired of Angelís soul. Word on the street is, heís after yours, that he wants to negate Angelís contract. The Senior Partners might be looking for some new blood to mess with. That would be you." Gunn poked Spike in the chest to emphasize his point. "The Powers can only hold him off for so long, so itís up to you."

Gunn looked up again as the screech echoed for a second time. "I gotta go now; canít risk him finding this signal. Gotta get you back to your vision. Take care, buddy. Weíll see you on the other side, hopefully."

Spike threw his arms wide in frustration, as he spun around yelling, "Wait, I donít bloody get it!" but Gunn was already gone.

An old warehouse is visible. It looks to be full of a bunch of electronics parts and a nest of vamps. A shadow is lurking in the darkness.

Xander yanked his hand away. "Pavayne? Whatís a Pavayne?"

Spike impatiently growled. "You didnít let me finish with the warehouse!"

Xander waved him off, "Got it, a warehouse on Beechnut Street, nest of vamps, blah, blah, blah. It was an easy one. What about the power? Tell me more about Pavayne."

Spike looked at Xander in amazement, "You got the location that quick?"

Xander looked smug and took Spikeís hand again. "Yeah, I did. Now tell me more about Pavayne."

Spike took a deep breath. "Pavayne is Hell. Or has the ability to control it, to keep himself out, by sacrificing others. Almost got me, but Angel locked him up down in the belly of Wolfram and Hart."

"Oh. Your fear," Xander stated quietly.

"Yeah, pet. My fear."

"Do you think heís still there? Locked away like that?" Xander asked cautiously.

"I bloody well hope so. I wouldnít be surprised. That was some strong mojo they used to hold him. It had to be powerful to stop the likes of him."

Xander looked thoughtful. "Gunn is trying to tell us something beyond the obvious. I think we need to go visit Pavayne. Maybe thereís a way we can use the power thatís holding him."

"Bloody wonderful."

Chapter Thirty-Two

Both Spike and Xander knew that the vamp nest had to be dealt with before they went to see Pavayne. Not bloody lookiní forward to a visit to that walking nightmare, anyway. Probably no way to keep Xander away from him, either. Xander and Spike headed to the address Xander had provided. The vamps put up quite a fight, but the two handled them efficiently and quickly. Most of the vamps seemed to be newbies and while ambitious, had little clue how to fight.

As the dust settled, Xander waved around a lantern they had brought with them. "Spike, check it out."

Spike was already poking in a box of electronics that had broken open during the fight. "Pet, think we can use this stuff?"

Xander pulled the list Illyria had given him out of his pocket. "Yeah, weíll have to look around, but I bet we can find a lot of the stuff here, with plenty of spares."

They loaded up the stuff they were going to take on a cart. As Xander bent over the cart, strapping items down, Spike sat on a crate and lit up a cigarette.

"Hey, Mr. Lazy-ass-vamp, wanna give me a hand here?" Xander looked over his shoulder, up at Spike, frustrated. He was hot, dusty, and tired. He wanted to go home.

"Just enjoyiní the view, pet." Spike smirked down at Xander.

Xanderís face turned red. "Are you staring at my ass?"

Spike was just about to respond when another voice cut in.

"You two never quit, do you?" Charly walked out from behind a large pile of crates, where sheíd been lurking.

Xander jumped up and took a step closer to Spike before heíd even realized heíd moved. He looked around wildly. "Charly? What are you doing here? Is AngelÖOh Crap." I guess I should have let Spike finish sharing this part of his vision. Note to self: ALWAYS let the vision finish!

She cut him off as she stepped closer. "No, Angel isnít here. Itís just me." She looked at what they were doing, curious. "You two geeks trying to build your own sexbot?"

"Something like that, pet. Whatís it to ya?" Spike watched her with a critical eye.

As she stepped closer and more fully into the circle of light from the lantern, Xander got a good look at her face. He gasped. "Cripes, Charly. What happened?" Her face was a mass of bruises, new and old.

Spike hopped down off the crate and stepped up beside Xander. "Look, you silly bint. I donít know what youíre playiní atÖ"

Charly interrupted, "Look you stupid vamp, I just came to talk!"

"Spike. Letís hear her out." Xander put a hand on Spikeís arm to stop Spikeís tirade before it could really get going. Spike gave Xander a dirty look, but remained quiet.

"Charly. Letís call a truce, ok? Right here, right now, in this place, ok?" Xander gave her a hopeful look.

She looked wary, but nodded.

"Ok, so what do you bloody want?" Spike stood with his arms crossed, and his legs apart. His stance screamed, ĎState your business, then drop dead.í

"IÖ" She paused and looked at the ground.

"Charly, why donít you start with your bruises. What happened?" Xander tried to give her somewhere to start.

Charly looked up at Xander through her bangs. "Angel."

With a quick step back, Xander asked, "Angel did that?"

Charly looked down at the ground and wouldnít meet Xanderís gaze. "Yeah, he was mad you got away. Youíve gotta help me." She stepped closer, and raised her hand as if to put her hand on Xanderís arm, but hesitated. "He hurt me."

"Did you run away from him?" Xander looked unsure.

"Yes. Iíve been trying to find you guys. I figured wherever there was a lot of vamp activity Iíd probably find you two doing your vision thing." She waved her hand at them in a vague gesture. "Can you guys help me? You wonít regret it, I swear. I can help you guys. Iíll do anything to make up for things."

Spike, who had been just watching the exchange, stepped up to Charly. He leaned down and nuzzled up one side of her neck. He whispered in her ear, "Oh yeah, you can help us guys out. Will you really do anything?" He gave her a leer.

Xander watched, expressionless, as Spike leaned into Charly. She responded by bringing her hand up to Spikeís back. She whispered, "Yes."

Spike placed his left hand on Charlyís side. He started to slide her blouse up until he reached her bra. With a flick of his wrist he pulled a small wireless microphone from the lacy material as he roughly pushed her back with his right hand. "Wrong answer, pet. You donít actually think weíre that daft do you?"

With a sad shake of his head, Xander spoke up. "Charly. Donít you know what Angelus did to me?" Xander put his arms around Spike, who hugged him back. "How can you work with him?"

Charly pleaded with them. "You donít understand, he made me wear the wire. He wants to know what you guys are up to, but I can help you guys! He did hurt me, he really did." She added a pout at the end of her statement.

"Pet, Iím thinking you get off on a little pain. Probably asked the broody bastard to smack you around a little. In case we saw the wire, you had to make it look all authentic didnít you? He probably set this little nest up just so he could find us."

With a look of rage on her face Charly started to yell. "You bastard! Iím offering myself up to you two. How dare you! Iíll do anything!" She tried to turn her rage into something sultry. She put her hand on Spikeís arm and stroked lightly while she gave Xander a coquettish look.

Xanderís eye went wide. "God, Charly. You donít give up do you? Youíre something else. I almost fell for the Ďhelp meí act, but you never change, do you? You expect us to suddenly feel for you, when you screwed us both over? You think weíd bothÖtogether?"

Spike grabbed Xanderís hand and pulled. "Weíre gone. Iíd get gone too, ya stupid bint."

Spike pushed the cart away, with Xander trailing behind him by one hand. Xander looked back. "Charly, you need help. If you asked, Iíd be there. You know that, right? All you had to do was ask for help. I guess Iím stupid, I would have fallen for it. Just promise me youíll get away from Angelus. You have no idea what heís capable of."

She just screamed after them, "I can take care of myself. I donít need your pity. I donít need you!" The look on her face was pure hatred.

When they got outside, Xander turned to Spike, "Howíd you know she was wearing a wire?" Xander looked at Spike with awe.

Spike replied. "I didnít, not for sure. I just donít trust her, no matter how many bruises she has. ĎSides, she smelled off. Not scared, just nervous, like she was hidiní something."

As they walked away, Xander shook his head and tried to give his armpits an inconspicuous sniff. "Again, with the smelly stuff. Remind me to shower when we get home; you vamps make me paranoid."

Chapter Thirty-Three

Dawn was appalled that Charly would attempt to infiltrate their group. She couldnít understand how Xander could be so sympathetic. Spike and Xander had already shared the part of the vision about Pavayne and were now trying to explain about Charly.

"Xander, you used to be all Ďkill everything evil!í Now, you offer to help her?" Honestly confused, Dawn kept pushing. She sat at the table, pointing a bottle of water at Xander as her voice reached Ďwhineí pitch.

Xander and Spike were sitting on the couch. Spike had a hand on Xanderís knee. Xander stared at the floor while he gathered his thoughts. When he finally looked up at Dawn, there was a sad look on his face. "Dawnie. You remember Faith, right?" At her nod, he continued. "Well, she wasnít all evil. She Ďgot better,í didnít she?" Dawn nodded again. "Besides, losing an eye, watching Sunnydale disappear into a huge hole in the ground and getting to really know SpikeÖI think Iíve grown up, changed. Things arenít always black and white for me anymore. For slayers I suppose it has to be, but for me, not so much. I know I wasnít always this way. Look at the way I used to treat Spike, but now Iíd just hate to write somebody off that I know is capable of good. Does that make any sense?"

With a thoughtful look on her face, Dawn nodded. "Yeah, I guess it does."

To clarify, Xander added, "Not that I trust her at all, but I would like to give her a chance if she asked for real."

Dawn asked, "Do you think she had any idea what weíre up to?"

Illyria stepped out from the corner, where sheíd actually been spending less and less time, to speak. "It does not matter. We will need to draw Angelus out eventually, anyway. If the half-breed suspects that what weíre doing involves him, his arrogance will bring him to us." Dismissing Dawn, she turned to Spike. "I will accompany you two to check on Pavayne. The females will stay here."

Spike didnít want to go visit Pavayne and he sure as hell didnít want Xander near him. He also knew, though, that Gunn had specifically told him to show Xander. With Illyria with them, he at least felt a little better about bringing Xander along, though.

A little while later Spike, Xander and Illyria all stood in an alley across the street from the abandoned Wolfram & Hart building. They were checking to make sure it really was deserted before they tried to go inside. Xander let out a low whistle from their hiding place. Most of the building was simply gone. Only about four badly damaged floors remained. Xander looked at Spike and Illyria and asked, "Weíre going in there?"

"Yeah, pet. We are." Spike didnít look too thrilled with the idea either.

Illyria thought the best access would be through the garage. To Spikeís happy surprise, some of Angelís cars were still down there and most appeared unharmed. There it is, the Viper! Spike wandered over to the red Viper heíd borrowed in the wild goose chase race against Angel to find the Cup of Perpetual Torment.

"Earth to Spike." Xander pulled on Spikeís arm as Spike ran a finger through the dust on the hood of the Viper.

"Sorry, luv. Just admiring this beauty. Sípose we need to get this over with though, huh?"

Spike led the way to the sub-basement, and they only got lost a few times on the way. "Was bloody easier when I could walk through the damn walls." Spike groused to himself as they passed by the same set of doors for the third time.

The sub-basement was strangely undamaged and the cells all appeared intact. The power was out there as it was everywhere, so it was completely dark. Illyria waited by the stairwell entrance as Xander and Spike walked down the long hallway to where Pavayne was stationed. The hallway was pitch black, the only light coming from the beams of their two flashlights.

"Itís pretty damn creepy down here, isnít it?" Xander whispered as he pointed his flashlight at the rows of unmarked doors. Even his whisper echoed back and forth in the hallway. He jumped back in surprise when his flashlight reflected off of a set of eyes at the end of the hall. "Gah!"

"Easy, pet. That would be Pavayne. As he put it, Angel left him in a room with a view."

Xander looked at Spike out of the corner of his eye and whispered, "Angel can be a sick bastard, can't he?"

Spike nodded, but didn't respond as they walked slowly the rest of the way. Their soft footsteps seemd to echo too loudly in the confined hallway. They looked inside Pavayneís personal Hell. Still encased in a metal box and in stasis, there was no movement from the paralyzed man. His eyes just stared ahead, without blinking.

"Have I mentioned how creepy this is?" Xander whispered nervously as he stared at Pavayne.

"Yeah, pet. You have. In complete agreement with you, though." Spike looked nervous being so close to the man who had almost sent him to Hell.

Xander noticed how uncomfortable Spike looked and took his hand. Trying to distract Spike a little, he asked, "Will you tell me about the vision again? Maybe it will make sense now, and we can get the hell out of here."

Spike tore his gaze away from Pavayneís staring eyes. Angel said he could still see. Donít want that tosser lookiní at me any more than necessary.

As Spike recounted the vision, he chose to look at Xander instead of Pavayne.

"Oh! I know!" Xander proclaimed in an excited whisper, as he started to bounce. "Itís not the power holding Pavayne as much as Pavayneís own power! I think we have to use both. I mean, he knew how to manipulate the power. We have to harness that so we can manipulate it!"

Having heard Xanderís exclamation, Illyria soundlessly came up to them, startling both Xander and Spike.

"Blue! Donít bloody sneak up on a body down here. Do you understand me?"

Xander jumped back from her as well. Putting a hand to his chest he yelled, "Holy Moly, would you not do that?"

Unapologetic, Illyria responded to Xanderís revelation. "This makes sense. Based on what Iíve deciphered from the books, we can use this Pavayne as the conduit to the buildingís power. It will require access to his flesh."

When Xander looked at her in horror, she clarified. "I simply mean, we will have to open the box to attach him to the machine."

They brainstormed awhile longer, deciding that the machine should be built
within Wolfram and Hart in order to utilize the power held within the structure itself. After a few minutes, Xander put a halt to the conversation. "Guys, this is too creepy. Can we get the hell out of here?"

Illyria disagreed. "It would be best if we stayed here while we finish assembling the machine to reduce the risk of Angelus finding out too soon."

"Not bloody liking this one bit," Spike helpfully supplied.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Xander, Spike and Illyria did leave Wolfram and Hart long enough to go back to tell Dawn and Di what they'd figured out. Then they gathered their supplies and headed back to the ruined building. As had become their habit, they found some useable storage rooms and moved in, careful that no one saw them. They brought all the supplies they could carry, such as; food, water, as well as the machine parts and any other materials they thought theyíd need. They even reverted to feeding Spike themselves so he didn't have to risk being seen on the street while the machine was being built.

Illyria and the other women performed many preparatory spells that would then be chained together and used for a larger spell to actually activate the machine. To Xander, the chanting sounded suspiciously like, "Klaatu verrata nekt agh agh ahh." from the movie Army of Darkness. When Xander shared that thought with Spike, the bark of laughter Spike let loose resulted in a stern lecture on why they shouldnít be interrupting spells. Xander tried to keep a straight face as he and Spike ran off to a secluded room so they could practice a few spells of their own.

The machine came together quickly over the next few days. The women had continued to do the spell preparations while Xander did most of the mechanical assembly work. Spike had spent his time watching Xander. They only left the building if absolutely necessary. There was a hole in the ceiling of the third floor that continued straight through the fourth floor, revealing the open sky above. They had built the machine there, directly below the hole. During some of the assembly phase, Spike had sat in the shadows while Xander, Dawn and Di had enjoyed the rare opportunity to work in the sunlight.

Three days into the project, the machine was almost complete. Once the sun had gone down, they hauled Pavayne, still encased in his metal box, up the stairwell with ropes. Di and Dawn went up to the fourth floor to mount a metal pole to the edge of the hole of what was now the roof, to use as a lightning rod.

There were a few tense moments when Illyria opened the box to connect electrodes to Pavayneís chest. Spike made Xander stand way, way back. Dawn and Di watched from the upper floor. In order to hook up the electrodes Illyria had to temporarily remove the unit holding Pavayne in stasis. As soon as she removed it, Pavayne let out a huge bellow that echoed around the ruined building. Unfortunately, Spike was standing right next to Illyria, so he was almost the first thing Pavayne saw. Pavayne's booming voice filled the building. "William! Hell is still hungering for you, boy!"

Startled, Spike took a quick step back before he caught himself. The look on Spikeís face quickly switched from surprised to smug when he realized Pavayne was still chained up. "Like I told you before, you stupid git. Not. Today. ĎSides, you talk too bloody much." Spike threw an elbow, clocking Pavayne right on the temple, knocking him out. "Ok, Blue, do yer stuff." Illyria quickly attached the electrodes and reattached the stasis unit as Spike walked back over to Xander.

Xander tried to put a hand on Spikeís shoulder, but it was shrugged off. "Spike, are you ok?"

Still looking at Pavayne, Spike answered absently. "Yeah. You guys best get back to work, yeah?"

Xander gave Spike a worried look before squatting down to bolt the machine to the floor. Illyria turned to Xander. "I need to go up to the next level and connect the conduit to the lightning rod." Illyria didnít wait for a response. She simply jumped straight up through the hole in the ceiling and disappeared. The girls followed her out of sight.

Spike came around the side from where he had finished connecting Pavayneís box and wiring to the back of the machine. He was agitated and still a little shaky. "Pet, you stay away from him. Do you hear me?" Spike grabbed Xanderís arm and drew him close. "Donít bloody care if heís human, in stasis and locked in a box."

"Yes, Master!" Xander joked as he willingly went into Spikeís arms.

With a serious look on his face Spike growled. "Iím bloody serious. If he were to get out of thatÖI know heís human now, but heís still dangerous."

"Spike, I know. I hear you. I do. You need to relax, itíll be fine." Xander leaned in and kissed Spike, he softly nibbled at Spikeís lips until Spike opened up and started to relax. Totally into the kiss, Spike didnít notice Xander reach into his coat pocket and pull out his cigarettes and lighter. Xander pocketed them in his own jacket before pulling back from the kiss. They were both flushed. With a laugh, Xander looked at Spikeís face and added, "There, thatís better!"

"Cheeky git. Iím serious." Still uptight, Spike reached into his coat pocket to grab his cigarettes. Confused, he searched all of his pockets twice. "Where the bloody hell are they?"

Xander, who had turned back to what he was working on, replied absently, "Whatís up?"

"Whereís my bloody smokes?"

"If they were up your ass, youíd know." Xander laughed at Spikeís befuddlement. **

Xander quickly relented when he glanced at Spike and saw one very unhappy vampire. "Ok, Ok, sorry. I think I saw them down in the sub-basement, when we were rigging Pavayne up to haul his lazy ass up here. You must have left them down there."

Spike stood there for a beat, still confused. "I coulda bloody sworeÖ" His voice trailed off as he looked around the room and through his pockets again.

Keeping his back to Spike as he worked, Xander helpfully supplied, "Youíre distracted and distracting me. Go find your cigarettes. I have to get this finished, Illyriaís quite the task master."

Spike wasnít sufficiently distracted to forget to worry about Xander. "No, not leaving you alone."

"Iím not alone. Illyria is here. Di and Dawn are around too. Theyíre all right up there, through that hole. Theyíre only a shout away." Címon, Spike. Go, Iíll be fine, I hope. Xander pointed up at the hole, twelve feet above their heads.

"Fine, but Iíll be right back."

"Spike, just go. Iíll be fine." Xander kept working on the machine. Spike looked at Xander oddly before he headed toward the stairwell.

Xander worked in silence for a few minutes before slowly turning around. "Angelus, I know youíre there."

As he slipped out of the shadows, Angelus smugly said, "Lucky for me they left you all alone, isnít it, boy? Everybody seems to forget Iíve always been able to get in and out of Wolfram and Hart without being seen." He stalked up close to Xander and got right in his personal space. "Been waiting for Spike to screw up, he always does."

Xander backed up against the machine, his hands at his sides. His voice shook when he replied, "Thatís where youíre wrong Angelus. Spike didnít screw up, you did! Weíve been waiting for you." Driving hard and from down low, Xander jammed a screwdriver straight into Angelusí balls. Angelusí eyes went wide with pain as he howled. Xander reached up with a large metal collar that had been lying among the tools and parts sitting on the machine, and snapped it around Angelusí neck. Trying to hurry as he jumped to safety, Xander didnít notice that the collar didnít quite latch. He rolled away to safety as Angelus let out a mighty roar and lunged towards Xander, the screwdriver still sticking out of his groin. Blood ran in rivulets down his leg. The collar was connected to the machine by a thick chain, so Angelus was pulled up short as he reached the end of the three foot chain. He continued to furiously bellow and pull on the collar.

Xander yelled up through the hole in the ceiling, "Now!" Just as Spike ran back in from the stairwell, looking pissed as hell.

The sounds of chanting came down from above as Spike ran up to Xander and slammed him into the wall, away from Angelus. The machine kicked on with a large hum. The hum quickly increased in frequency and approached a whine. Illyria, Dawn and Di came into view and watched from above as the machine started to twirl to life and various lights along the base flickered on. Spike was too busy being pissed off to notice the sky above the building as it darkened even further with black clouds or to hear the ominous roll of thunder.

"What the bloody hell are you playing at, Harris! Are you alright?" Spike had Xander pressed up against the wall. His hands, which were on Xanderís biceps, shook.

"Spike, relax. I told you it would be fine. See, weíve got Angelus. The machine will do its work in a few minutes." Meanwhile, Angelus was still raging and pulling at the chain attaching him to the machine. He had already pulled the screwdriver out of his injured groin and tossed it away. Blood continued to drip down his pant leg.

Shaking Xander, Spike ranted. "He could have bloody killed you!"

"Spike! Iím sorry. It had to be this way. It was the only way to draw him out." Xander looked apologetic.

Spike calmed slightly and hugged Xander hard. "You better explain yourself."

"Ok, ok. Itís like thisÖ"

Twenty four hours earlier

"Itís the only way." Xander pleaded with Dawn, Illyria and Di.

Dawn looked unsure. "Heís going to be mad, Xander. Really mad."

"I only need to be alone for a minute, once we know Angelus is around. Now that weíre almost done with the machine it wonít take him long to know. He may already know. Illyria only needs to give me a signal when the machine is ready, and Iíll figure out a way to get Spike out of the room for a minute. She can let me know when sheís ready to hook up the lightning rod. Itís the only way." Xander looked proud as he outlined his plan, telling Illyria, Dawn and Di where they needed to be, but also saddened, knowing it would probably piss off Spike.

To help convince himself as well as the others, Xander repeated himself. "It's the only way. Besides, I've sort of been making Spike think we're still a few days out from finishing this thing. I know it'll piss him off, but I can't think of any other way to draw Angelus out. This way it'll be on our terms."

The anger on Spikeís face was obvious as he raged. "Sheís bloody damn right about me being mad, pet. So bloody reckless of you. Always ready to run headlong into trouble. You and I need to have a little chat about this later."

Xander looked even more sorry as he tried to explain. "Iím sorry, Spike. I knew youíd be mad, but I also knew that it would be hard to get Angelus to come out of hiding all by himself. I had to be the bait. Iím what he wants."

Spikeís angry stance softened some as he looked at Xander with awe. "Good plan though, you did get Angelus. Stood up to him by yourself and everything."

Xander and Spike both turned to look as Angelus roared yet again, just as the collar snapped in two. As it did, Charly and several of Angelusí minions crawled out of the woodwork.

Xander and Spike spared each other a glance and both said, "Oh shit."

** That line comes straight from my other half, who has a REALLY annoying habit of giving that response if I'm asking him if he's seen; the remote, the dog, the newspaper...Spike didn't like it any more than I do! LOL.

Chapter Thirty-Five

As the fight started, the machine continued to rev up. Lightning flashed above the building and rain began to pour into the hole, throwing everything into further chaos.

Illyria jumped down from the upper floor to start taking on the minions. She was easily taking them out in twos and threes. Spike jumped at Charly and the two started to fight hand to hand. In a fit of frustration and anger Spike grabbed a piece of rebar that was lying on the floor and drove it towards Charly, but Xander knocked it away and yelled, "Spike, No!"

Spike looked at Xander in amazement, but there was no time to argue. Angelus used the distraction to launch himself at Xander. In a surprise move, Charly spun away from Spike and blocked the knife Angelus had thrust towards Xander, taking the blow herself.

At the same time, a horrible screeching filled the air as the dragon appeared and hovered in the air above the hole. Spike saw it and froze as it pointed at him and continued to screech. Xander screamed Spikeís name, trying to get his attention over the cacophony.

Angelus yanked the knife from Charly as she fell, and with no hesitation turned to counter Illyriaís attack, as she ran up behind him. Xander turned to Spike, who responded to Xanderís scream. Spike shook off his initial shock at seeing the dragon again. No time for you, you big fire breathiní tosser, got work to do. Spike turned his back on the dragon as it screeched again, trying to get into the building and at him.

Di and Dawn were still on the fourth floor, fighting a couple minions that had raced up the stairwell after them. The dragonís huge wings beat at the opening in the ceiling, knocking debris loose. One large chunk hit Di, who fell to the floor. After dusting the last minion that was still a threat, Dawn dragged her out of harms way and into the stairwell. Luckily, the dragon was still bigger than the hole it had made, but itís wings and claws were making short work of the brickwork. The dragonís screeches were deafening, echoing around the inside of the building.

Spike looked at Xander through the chaos, and Xander didnít have to see to know what Spike was about to do. We need to bloody end this, NOW.

Spike mouthed, "I love you."

Xander gave him a lopsided grin and mouthed, "I love you, too."

Spike turned and slammed at top speed into Angelus, knocking himself, Angelus and Illyria into the side of the machine, just as the high-speed whine reached a fever pitch. Simultaneously, a bolt of lightning came down, hitting the lightning rod, its power sizzling straight down the line to the box holding Pavayne. For a brief moment, everything lit up brighter than the sun. Even Pavayneís skeleton was visible through the thick metal as the glow made the box appear transparent. Pavayne writhed in pain, when the flash blew out the unit controlling his stasis. For a brief moment he was free as the box disintegrated.

A flash of light emanated from Pavayne so bright that it obliterated everything as he threw his arms out wide. Pavayneís screech was even louder than the dragonís. Along with the flash, an explosive noise radiated out from the machine and shook the entire building, sending debris falling everywhere. The concussion knocked everyone off of his feet. The dragon had almost succeeded in getting through the ceiling, but at the last second was blown out of the hole and it disappeared with a blink and a small pfft sound.

The silence that followed seemed even more extreme than the noise that had preceded it. The thunder and rain had stopped, and the machine was silent. The room was filled with smoke, the smell of charred flesh, and there were bodies lying everywhere. Spike was face down, amidst the rubble. The fingers on his left hand twitched.


Spike found himself standing near the Soul Machine as Gunn and Wesley walked up to him. At first Spike flinched when he saw the sun was shining through the holes in the ceiling, but then he realized this was a vision, not reality. After taking a moment to bask in the sun, he took a peek at Pavayne. Nothing but a blackened shell remained.

Spike finally turned to Wesley and Gunn. "Where the bloody hell is everybody?"

Gunn reassured him. "Blondie, donít worry about it. Theyíre fine. Some are more than fine."

Wesley also strove to reassure him. "Quite right, theyíll be fine. We need to talk to you Spike."

"Well, speed it up. I got my boy to check on."

Wesley replied. "Quite right. Anyway, The Powers are impressed, Spike. Pavayne is gone and no longer a threat on any plane of existence. Angel has his soul back, for good this time." Wesley paused and then grinned. "Fredís back as well. She has to share her body with Illyria Ė itís all I could manage, but they should be fine." Wesley paused again for effect. "Youíve worked hard and earned this, Spike. You can Shanshu. Be human again."

Without pause, Spike responded, "What if I donít bloody want it?"

It was Gunnís turn to speak. "Huh? You donít want it? What gives, Blondie Bear?"

Spike took a deep breath. "Itís like this. I can do more good continuing with these visions, right? Even if it means the Bat Vamp gets to Shanshu I get to keep helping. ĎSides, Iím not redeemed until I feel like Iím redeemed, if that makes any bloody sense. Iím done beiní controlled and manipulated. Iím done when I say Iím done. Plus, Itís the right thing to do."

Wes and Gunn both smiled. Wes nodded, "Very well, Spike. Wise choice. The prophecy still exits, but is for another time. Itís not written in stone, itís still open. Just remember, weíll be here when you need us."

Spike looked thoughtful for a minute. "One last thing. Even if it means giving up Xander. Let him out of the visions. He hates not having a choice. He never asked for this."

Gunn smiled knowingly and said, "Done. Iím sure we can work something out. Now weíve got a few places to show you, a few visions to share. You didnít think youíd get stuck in just L.A. did you?"


Chapter Thirty-Six

As people started to stir, Spike ran to help Xander, having woken from his vision first. Spike helped him up and touched him all over, making sure he was safe.

"Spike, stop it. Iím fine, really." Xander pulled off his patch and shook the plaster dust and debris from it, before replacing it.

"Ungrateful git. Just worried about you, is all." Spike still hadnít stopped touching Xander.

Spike looked up and watched Dawn help Di walk in from the stairwell. They were covered in dust from head to foot. Dawn was holding a rag to the side of Diís face where she had a large cut.

Though still somewhat groggy and unsteady on his feet, Xander turned and saw Charly lying nearby. He ran to kneel beside her, with Spike close behind.

Xander tried to lift her in his arms, but she gasped in pain. "We need to get you help, Charly. Youíre hurt."

Charly looked up at Xander and whispered, "No, you already saved me. Not sure why, not worth it." Blood started to bubble at her lips, and her breath had a liquid sound to it.

"Charly. Come on. Hang on!" Xander could see it was too late, though. A large pool of blood was spreading out from under her.

She managed a few more words before she fell silent for the last time. "Iím sorry, Xander." She fell limp in Xanderís arms, her eyes closed.

As Xander bowed his head, Spike placed his hand on Xanderís shoulder. "She turned out to be alright, didnít she, mate?"

Xander gently placed Charly back on the floor, then stood up and put his arms around Spike. "Yeah, she did. Saved me. I wonder why she changed her mind."

"You blocked my shot and saved her. Maybe she just needed someone to do something nice for her. Maybe itís as simple as that." Spike put his arm around Xander, not really sure what else he could say.

Finally noticing Angel on the ground, still unconscious, Xander walked over to his prone form. "Is he Angel again?"

Spike put his hand on Xanderís shoulder. "He sure is, and no little curse anymore either."

"Thatís nice." Xander spoke in his most sarcastic voice. "I think we should forget to mention that for a year or two, though." Xander stared down at Angel for a beat and then turned to Spike with an absolutely evil grin on his face. "Spike? Can I?"

At first Spike wasnít sure what Xander was referring to, then got it. "Go ahead, mate. Give him one for me."

So Xander did. He hauled back with one steel-toed boot and kicked as hard as he could. Even unconscious, Angel doubled up, with his hands to his already wounded groin.

"Hey, yíall. What are you doing to Angel?"

"Is that really you?" Spike looked up to see Fred trot from behind the now silent machine, towards Angel.

As Fred walked toward them, she seemed to shimmer to blue and back a couple of times. "Yep, itís me, Spike. Iím a little confused, but weíre both in here. Sheís not alone anymore. IÖshe feels balanced now." Referring to Illyria. She paused and tilted her head, as if in the midst of some internal conversation. "And Iím not...lost."

Xander looked at her in amazement. "Thereís two of you in there? Howíd that happen? We screwed up, didnít we?"

Fred/IIlyria tilted her head for a second. "She says that there was some of my soul left after all. Not exactly sure where Iíve been, but she told me sheíd fill in the blanks later." Fred looked confused and a little saddened. She looked as if she knew she was going to hear some unhappy things.

Spike picked Fred up and twirled her around. "Glad to hear it, pet! You helped me, and Iím glad I finally got to help you." He gave her a hard hug and whispered in her ear, "Itís ok, Fred. Wes and Gunn are still helping us." She nodded before Spike put her down, then stumbled slightly and giggled before she focused back on Angel.

Spike made the introductions. "Xander, meet Fred. Fred meet Xander. Heís mine."

With a curtsy, Fred held out her hand. "Iím please tí make your acquaintance, Xander."

Xander shook her hand with a laugh, "Wow, so very different from Illyria! Sheís still there though, right? Iíd miss her if she was gone."

Before Fred turned to kneel down beside Angel, she shimmered to blue briefly and gave Xander a nod, and in an oddly out of character gesture, she winked.

Xander grinned in response before he looked back down at Angel without sympathy. As Angel sat up with Fredís help, he looked up and saw Xander.

"Xander? Thank you." Angel paused as his memories of the previous months came back. "Oh, God, IímÖ"

Still looking at him coldly, Xander cut him off. "Donít you dare apologize to me. Someday Iíll talk to you, but not today. Maybe the world so isnít black and white for me anymore, and Iím more into giving people second chances these days. Iím just not really feeling the love today, Angel. Ya know?"

Spike barked out a laugh, "Give him hell, Pet!"

Angel looked around, trying to figure out what happened. "What now?"

Again, it was Xander who spoke. "Not sure Angel. Youíve got lots of options. Fixing L.A. might be one. Being anywhere near me or Spike, however, is NOT. Might be time for us to hit the road, anyway. I have a feeling that the borders are about to open up."

Angel saw Di and Dawn go over to Charlyís body with a blanket. He looked back up at Xander and stated, "Iíll take care of Charly."

"Thatís right. You will, Angel." Effectively dismissing Angel, Xander turned and put his arms back around Spike, "Are you ok? Soul still there?"

Spike looked smug. "Soulís still here. Iím just dandy." Spike paused for a beat. "I do, you know."

"Do what?"

"Love you, you git."

Xanderís face lit up with a huge smile. Iím not going to do the Snoopy Dance, Iím NOT going to do the Snoopy DanceÖ

"Oi, Harris, I think I know you too well, I can damn well tell you want to do that daft dog dance!"

"For your information, itís the Snoopy Dance, and I love you too, Spike." Xander reached out, drew Spike close and kissed him hard.

With a big squeal Dawn ran up and hugged them both. "Itís about time. Now when we get out of here, Buffy will have something else to freak about other than the fact itís my fault we got stuck in here in the first place."

"God. Sheís going to freak about ALL of this." Xander got a wild look in his eye. "I mean, we got stuck here, Angelus has been loose causing God knows what kind of havok, Spike and I are doing the nastyÖ"

Spike interrupted. "Pet, the fact the two of us are together ought send her right Ďround the bend, if the fact I never told her I was alive in the first place doesnít do it first. Angelus is nothing in comparison. Weíll deal with it, though. First weíve got to deal with this." He gestured around them.

Fred had Angel leaning against the wall and went to check Pavayne. One look at the crispy shell and she turned green.

Spike reached over to Fred and drew her away. "Heís gone, pet. For good. I suspect Hell finally has its hands on Pavayne."

Fred looked up at Spike, "But how? Canít he still cause trouble?"

Shaking his head Spike explained. "I think we pretty much tapped the power right out of him and this place, overloaded it. Ask Illyria."

Fred shimmered to blue and back, "Yeah, she agrees. She thinks it totally drained this area."

"I suspect that a blade of grass wonít even grow on this spot anymore. In fact, I donít think any of us should stick around here too long." A large crack sounded from what was left of the ceiling. Debris started to fall from above.

Spike started to herd everyone towards the door, but turned to Xander, a serious look on his face. "I do have something to talk to you about, Xander. Since you mentioned leaving town and all."

Xander interrupted Spike to blurt out, "I need to talk to you too, Spike." Xander was literally bouncing on his feet as they headed into the stairwell. Fred looked up from where she was helping Angel down the stairs to laugh at him. Dawn and Di smiled as well, even though they had their hands full with Charlyís blanket covered body.

As they continued down the stairs, Xander continued. "I had my own vision when that thing blew. They gave me a choice, and I kept the visions. I know itís the right thing to do, even if I bitch about it. I told them to let you get out of it, but Wesley just laughed at me. He said we were a couple of unlikely heroes if he ever met any, each trying to be more noble than the other. Can you imagine, us being noble?" The last part added with a laugh.

"Well, Bloody hell. There goes my big Ďyouíre freeí speech. They gave me a choice too, pet. How Ďbout this then? How do you feel about London, Belgium, or maybe Greece? Your choice, luv."


"See for yourself." Spike took Xanderís hand as they ran across the basement toward the Viper as he described his latest vision.

Spike interrupted the vision sharing to yell to Fred/Illyria, "Blue, give us a hand with that door, would ya?" He pointed at the badly bent garage door.

Fred helpfully shimmered to blue and then ripped the door completely off. Spike knew right where the keys were and had them in an instant. Spike and Xander jumped in the car and sped out seconds behind everybody else as they rushed out on foot.

As Spike raced down the street in the Viper, his hand firmly in Xanderís, the wards around the city started to fail. Any streetlights that hadnít been broken, started to flicker back on as they passed by. Engrossed in Spikeís visions of the places they could go, Xander never even noticed.

A radio warbled off in the distance. A few working televisions in a badly damaged storefront kicked on, showing news broadcasts from outside the city. The demons started to head into hiding. The remaining humans slowly began to venture out. They knew something had changed and looked around their ravaged city with a look of hope in their eyes.

Xander looked at Spike and asked, "Wherever we go, weíre taking this car, right?"

Spike grinned and held onto Xanderís hand a little tighter. "Yeah, pet. You, me and this sweet ride."

The End

I just wanted to thank everybody for reading this, and commenting. Everybody's comments certainly helped me learn, and helped actually shape the story.

I definitely want to doubly thank my betas:
altyronsmaker, She helped make Xander into something other than a crying infant!
lunabee34 , She helped push Angelus into WANTING to try and break Xander and turn him into a crying infant!
laazikaat, For her lovely comments and support. Be sure to go check out her Spander archive site: The Spander Files. It's still a work in progress, but I actually found some stories I had NEVER read before. I didn't think there were any more Spander stories I hadn't read!

Feel free to give me any feedback on the story, I enjoy reading it all. I'm proud I was able to create a character that you all loved to hate. Hopefully, the ending isn't too lame or cliche! God, I hope it doesn't suck!

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