Spike didn’t know how long he’d been there, clinging to the edge with Illyria hanging from his right hand, unconscious. A human wouldn’t have lasted a minute like this. Spike wasn’t human, but he didn’t have much longer here, either way. Fred’s (Not-Fred’s) body wasn’t heavy, she was such a thin little bird, but every pound counts here, when his arms are burning and his left hand begins to shake and bleed, fingertips mangled where he’d driven them into the cracked concrete. They’d been falling fast when he’d found the meager handhold, and Spike’s shoulder had pulled out of its socket.
Spike would have to make the decision soon, to drop (Fred)Illyria or fall with her. He looked down at the chasm that had appeared in the middle of the street. It didn’t even come close to the dizzying heights of the Wolfram & Hart offices or that bloody tower, and he’d walked away from both of those falls. But there were demons above and demons below, and he felt like he was back at the Deeper Well. It was five stories down, if that. But he knew that he wouldn’t walk away from this fall, if (when) it happened. So he waited, and prayed that help would arrive before he had to find out if he would chose his own survival over holding onto one of his girls. Another girl he couldn’t save. He waited and wondered if Angel and maybe even Gunn were still alive somewhere, though it seemed unlikely. Wondered if Robin and Faith were out there, fighting. Thought he heard voices. Wondered if he was going crazy again, or if he was just hearing ghosts.
Spike’s fingers grew numb, and as his head began to swim, and his vision darken, he realized that he wouldn’t have a choice here after all… He felt something touch his wrist, then, and looked up to see what it was. It was a hand. Not Angel’s. It was a tiny little hand, with delicate fingers and perfectly manicured nails. No reason at all for him to feel like that hand could crush every bone in his wrist, or pull him straight out of this mess. But he knew it could. Because he knew that hand, and he looked up at the face of its owner in awe.
“Was wondering when you’d show up.”
Robin pulled the SUV into an alley when he saw the vans up ahead. No emergency crews yet, no super-secret military groups, though they’d probably get here eventually. Nobody had been called to rescue. But someone had gotten through to the press before the phones went down.
There were at least three different TV news crews parked outside the worst of the chaos, a couple radio reporters. A newspaper. Hell, Robin wouldn’t have been surprised to see a rogue blogger out there somewhere. None of them were quite stupid enough to go any further, try to get a better look. Not that it would matter. If the enemy decided to come down that street, which they probably would… it wouldn’t matter how far away they were. They were already too close.
“This is where we get off, isn’t it?” Marie asked. She had unbuckled her seatbelt and was retying her bootlaces for the thousandth time. “I can’t ever seem to get these adjusted right.”
“No one ever can when they’re nervous.” Robin smiled a little, staring down the alley. They were parked perpendicular to the apocalypse, so it looked just like any other night’s patrol. Nothing but brick and steel and rain. Nothing out here in this weather, let’s go someplace with more people. Yeah, right.
“It must suck to be in the army. Every day, wondering if you’re going to get someone killed because your boots weren’t tied properly.” She twisted around and pulled the weapons bag up from the back seat. “I mean… This is the part where we charge into battle, right? Like some sort of movie grand finale?”
“Let’s not try for too grand, alright? We’ll stick to the sidelines, pick of any that break off from the main force. Maybe that way we can avoid the finale.”
“Okay. Yeah. Okay.” Marie punctuated the three words with deep breaths, her face settling into an expression that was all pursed lips and glare, then back again was her usual flippancy. “And hey, if we don’t make it, at least we’ll have died with our boots on. Assuming I can get these knots to stay put.”
Robin watched her retie her boots one last time, finally tugging the legs of her jeans down over the laces and sitting back up. Silently, they each pulled their favorite weapons out of the bag and stepped put of the car.
Buffy tightened her grip on Spike’s wrist and tried not to laugh. Now would be a bad time for laughing, but she’d never been so glad to hear him being a smartass.
“So, Spike… How’s it hanging?” Damn, he must be in bad shape, if he’s laughing at one of her puns.
“Not bad, not…” he winced and trailed off as Buffy reached down to grasp his forearm, taking the weight off his hand, but still he managed to shift his grip from the wall to her wrist.
“Ouch. That’s going to make this interesting.”
“You could say that.” He sighed and closed his eyes, his head leaned against his arm.
“Hey! Don’t you go drifting off on me, okay? I’m going to need your help here.”
“’M sorry. I think my brain got a bit stirred around during my time airborne.”
“It’s okay, Spike. It’s okay. Just… try not to pass out until I’ve finished rescuing you, alright?” He nodded slowly, and took a deep breath. “Good. Now, can you lift your other arm? It’s kind of slippery up here, and this would be a lot easier if you could hand whatsherface up first. Which would be a lot easier if….” Buffy looked over her shoulder to where Angel was crawling to her side.
“You know, I would have been here helping already if you hadn’t dropped me on the other side of the roof,” he grumbled, pulling himself up partway onto the roof edging.
“Well, I’m sorry, I thought it was more important to stop him from falling into a horde of demons!” Angel sighed, and wondered how he always forgot how snappish Buffy could get. Leaning over the edge, he reached a hand down near Spike. Without further prompting, Spike began to lift Illyria, but stalled once his hand came level with his shoulder.
“C’mon, Spike, the concussion shouldn’t bother you, you don’t use your brain anyways,” Angel goaded, but the younger vampire seemed to be fading fast, “And don’t give me any crap about your shoulder, I’ve seen you go into fights with worse.”
That seemed to help a bit. Buffy looked over at him with a strange look in her eyes, as Spike gulped down unnecessary air, preparing for another lift. Stupid boy. Angel never understood why Spike breathed so much. Always panting, gasping, just plain inhaling for the fun of it. Angel rarely breathed unless he wanted to speak or smell something, couldn’t even figure out how Spike kept doing it on reflex.
“Brace yourself, okay?” Buffy said, shifting her grip slightly on Spike’s arm, “I’m going to lift you up a little bit this time.”
Buffy dragged Spike up the wall a few more inches and Spike swung Illyria upwards, into Angel’s waiting hand. Angel somehow managed to manhandle the unconscious dead god onto the roof, though he failed to keep her from landing on his broken legs.
He looked over just in time to see Buffy hauling Spike up by the collar of his duster. They landed in a heap, all efforts towards remaining upright sacrificed in favor of moving away from the edge. When they managed to get themselves sat up… Well, Buffy sat up. Spike tried, but only got halfway there before he started to wobble. She steadied him, kept him from falling back down. Her hand never left his collar, and she pulled him into a hug.
“It’s alright. You’re okay. You’re alive…”
Angel supposed he should be jealous. But then again, perhaps a hug was called for in such circumstances. After all, it wasn’t every day that someone you’d seen burn to death turns up undead and well. And Angel had gotten a hug, too. Although not a kiss on the top of his head. Maybe he was a little jealous.
The slight reprieve didn’t last long. The pursuing army would find their way up this building, too. Going by the noise, future tense would cease to be accurate very soon. Buffy and Spike seemed to realize this as well, and pulled apart.
“That, pet… That was excellent timing.” Spike winced. Perhaps he picked up a couple of cracked ribs on his flight, as well.
“Oh, yeah?” Buffy snapped. Spike prepared to look sheepish. “Well, I would have been here a lot sooner if--” she was interrupted by a pained moan from somewhere to the left of Angel’s knees.
“Now she wakes up. Figures.” Angel sighed. “Could someone get her off my broken legs, please? Thanks.”
“No need for sarcasm, Peaches.” Spike said, while Buffy moved to lift Illyria.
“That never seems to matter to you, Bleach-for-Brains.”
“Will you two cut it--” Illyria interrupted Buffy again, this time by tossing her across the roof. Fortunately, she was still a little out of it or Buffy would have gone clear over the edge.
“Where am I? What has transpired?” Illyria rose quickly, looking all around herself.
“Take it easy, Blue.” Spike got unsteadily to his feet, “You all right, Slayer?”
“Yeah. Ow.” Buffy was already walking back, rubbing a hand over her ribs.
“You’re alright, Smurfette. You just got whopped upside the head, picked up by a dragon, shaken about a bit, and then dropped. Actually, that does sound a bit bad, doesn’t’ it?”
“What is she?” Buffy asked quietly, while Spike was trying to explain the situation to Illyria.
“An Old One.” Angel grunted, trying to sit up straighter. “We shou--”
“An Old One?! Like the things the Master was trying to summon way back when? You have one of those on your team?”
“Yes. She’s been depowered, so she’s not quite as… powerful.”
Spike looked over from an unresponding Illyria. “She’s about on par with Glory. Only less with the brainsucking. And she likes us.”
“I do no such thing.” The god’s head tilted, insect-like, gazing off into the distance. “Did the dragon die?”
“Uh, yeah… that’s why it dropped us, right?” Spike answered, looking over for conformation.
“It landed about a block that way,” Angel nodded, “Look, we should get moving…”
A battle cry sounded from the edge of the roof. The demons had found their way up, and they were out of time to run.
“Hey! Turn it up!” Faith not-quite-shouted to the guard. It was long after light’s out, but they were the last on the row and they could hear
him listening quietly to the radio coverage of the latest disaster.
“What’s that, Lehane?” The guard replied.
Dianne sighed. It was two a.m., and her cellmate was so wound up over God knows what that she hadn’t even tried to sleep. So naturally, Dianne didn’t get to sleep either, but that didn’t stop her from pretending otherwise.
“The radio! Turn it up! My man’s down there in that mess.” She did the best she could to look imploringly through the bars.
“Yeah, alright,” The guard acquiesced, “Just keep it down in there, you hear?”
Dianne gave up pretending and walked over to Faith, blanket wrapped tight around her shoulders.
“Your man? He a fireman or something? ‘Cause that picture you got, he don’t look like gang material.” Although after that emergency phone call last night, Dianne could be convinced otherwise.
“He’s a high school principal,” Faith replied with a distracted air, “Doesn’t stop him from playin’ hero.”
“That hottie? Damn, girl, if I’d had a principal looked like that, I’d have never dropped out.”
Faith stayed quiet, pressed up against the bars and focused on the radio. They were talking about some kind of mess in downtown, but none of the reports could decide what. Some said it was a storm, others said riots. There was some wacko talking about demons.
Faith got all tensed up and grabbed the bars to their cell when the wacko said there was a teenage girl and a tall man fighting the demons with swords. Dianne could swear that the bars bent a little.
“Oh my God, what the Hell is that?!” One of the voices on the radio said, then things went all staticy. After a few seconds, another voice came on: “W-we seem to having technical difficulties with the feed from Hyperion Way…”
Faith was paler than Dianne had ever seen her, just staring at nothing. A green glow started to fill the cell, and she went all wild-eyed, looking around trying to see where it was coming from. Which was useless, because it was kind of coming from her. Grass-green lightning crackles of energy were crawling over Faith’s body, and a wind started swirling around almost stagnant space like a miniature tornado.
“What the fuck?” Faith inquired of her sparking right hand, while the guard said just the same thing in a more startled tone. Then the winds stopped, the glow was gone, and Dianne was alone in the cell.