Title: DESPERATE HOPE
By: Vernon Bruce
Summary: The hellmouth is opened do the treachery of Tara. Now mankind fights a losing battle to keep the world of men. Those scoobies left alive perform a desperate mission to close the hellmouth using the only power great enough to banish hell itself.
Sexual encounters featured, Willow/Giles, Xander/Joyce, Others that are not nice.
Spoiler Warning: None.
Rating: 18. Heavy violence. Torture.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whendon Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Productions 18 Century Fox, WB Network, etc. The situation is mine, and I don't mean to infringe upon any
All song Lyrics are taken from Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War of the Worlds copy right 1985 Sony Music Entertainment INC/.”Columbia” Based on the Science Fiction Classic War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. (It’s a fantastic album.)
The Wine Blessing is the standard wine blessing for the Wiccan Church or Canada as written by Lady Melusine, Tamara James and Lord Gwydion. Published in “Rituals for a Pagan Congregation volume one” by D.L. Dillon.
Notes: Feed back is greatly appreciated.
Dedication. To all those who maintain websites etc. so there's a place to share our fan ficks and to Michele for doing a great Bata.
SPECIAL WARNING: This is a dark nasty fic. If you don’t mind a walk at midnight, I think it’s a good story. If you are bothered by darkness, stop reading now.
Also. I hate Tara! This fic reflects that. If you like her, let’s just agree to disagree and you don’t have to read any farther. If you do read on, I have gone the extra mile and warned you. I expect no flames.
As to Amber. I do not know the lass and wish her the best in her career. It is Tara I dislike not the person who portrays her.
Chapter 1 - FAIR WELL HOPE
The Spirit of Man
Parson: Listen do you hear them drawing near in their search for the sinners.
Feeding on the power of our fear and the evil within us.
Incarnation of Satan’s creation of all that we dread.
When the Demons arrive those alive would be better off dead.
The two black zodiacs sped noiselessly towards the shore. Their four occupants were silent, their attention focused forward. The two men who sat in the bows knew they were already dead, all that remained was to see if they’d died in vain. The red glow of magma lit the horizon and the younger man sniffed the air, detecting a faint hint of sulfur.
“Beach ahead,” spoke the older man in the bow. He, like his companions, was dressed fully in black Kevlar body armour and wore a backpack.
“Give me the range,” whispered the man at the tiller.
“Ten metres. Kill the engine. Five metres, four, three, two, one.” The bow scraped onto the beach.
Giles leapt ashore placing the anchor. He scanned the area with his night vision goggles then clicked a snapper on his chest twice.
The second bow man leapt ashore, placed his anchor, looked around then hit his snapper twice, confirming the all clear. The men still in the zodiacs began tossing out duffels of supplies. The two on shore caught the bags and sorted them into piles.
“Where are they?” Giles whispered when the last duffle was unloaded.
“Joyce will be here. She hasn’t let us down yet,” replied a gravelly whisper from the other man.
“I hope you’re right, Xander. Too much is riding on this.”
“Snap Snap. Whoo Whoo,” sounded in the stillness of the night.
Giles hit his clicker twice then paused, counted to five, then hit it again. Shadowy figures stepped into view.
“Hurry,” growled Xander. Who pointed to the larger of the two piles of duffels. The dark figures moved closer resolving into people wearing ragged clothing.
“Come on, move!” added Giles as he directed a group that separated from the others towards the zodiacs.
“Darling,” whispered a voice in the darkness. Giles and Xander turned to see Joyce move out of the shadow. She was dressed in ragged camouflage slacks and jacket. Her hair was cut close to her scalp and there was a rifle slung over her shoulder. She was lean and limped slightly on her right leg.
“My love,” rumbled Xander. He strode forward, took her in his arms and held her close.
“If you too are quite finished,” whispered Giles. He passed the anchor from the first of the zodiacs to the people who had boarded and pushed it out to sea.
“Right,” agreed Xander, who joined him. The first boat launched they moved to the second and sent it on its way. The two small craft disappeared into the distance.
“Standard pick up?” asked Joyce.
“Sub is two miles off shore. Let’s go.”
The shadowy figures that had taken the first pile of duffels had disappeared into the night. Giles picked up one of the three remaining bags, Joyce and Xander took the others. Joyce led the way to a storm sewer access. The tunnels were pitch black and all three humans activated light intensification goggles that showed the world in shades of green.
Joyce paused and hit a clicker twice.
Two clicks answered from down the passage.
Joyce clicked once.
Ten seconds passed then three clicks answered. She sighed and moved on. A second later they passed a side tunnel where three people crouched with their guns trained on the newcomers. No words were exchanged as Joyce led them into the maze of passages. Hours passed before the thing they had all been dreading occurred. There was the sound of scales being drawn over concrete.
In seconds Xander had his night vision goggles off and the scope of his rifle to his remaining eye. The tunnel was cast in shades of green. He scanned over Joyce who also had her gun ready and Giles who had drawn a sword incase the beast they faced was impervious to bullets.
The wall burst in, throwing concrete and crushed rock into the corridor with explosive force. Xander threw himself on Joyce, knocking her to the ground and laying on top of her, allowing his body armour to absorb the brunt of the attack. A creature loomed out of the hole in the wall. It’s face was vaguely humanoid but its body was that of a centipede and it was the size of a large crocodile. Twin rows of spikes ran the length of its back, with a small vent behind each spike. The beast sucked air in through the vents and expelled a stinking cloud.
“Masks,” ordered Giles. He ripped down the veil that covered his face and slapped a compact breather, that had been clipped to his belt, over his nose and mouth. Xander rolled off Joyce and mimicked Giles’ actions. Joyce scrambled to her feet and fell back along the tunnel, firing at the beast.
“High low,” ordered Giles.
“On it,” replied Xander. The beast lunged into the corridor and turned towards Joyce. It started after her but a burst of automatic fire from Xander’s rifle caught its attention. The bullets bounced off its armoured sides, no more than mosquito bites to the creature.
“Come on ugly. Your father was a lady bug.” Xander remained on the ground. Firing. “Shit!” he swore. ”I’m jammed.”
“Bloody hell!” Giles pulled a small round grenade from his belt and rushed the creature from its side.
The beast turned towards him, snapping at its attacker with a set of pincers that came off its lower jaw.
“Hay, it’s me you want ugly!” Xander pulled his side arm and fired into the demon. It turned to face him and he kept firing.
Giles leapt, landing on the creature. The stinking cloud expelled through the vents then it began to inhale. Giles dropped the grenade into the air hole and leapt away.
“One one-thousand,” he shouted.
“Giles, could use some help here,” called Xander. Before Giles could react a shot rang out from down the corridor. Joyce had taken up position and was now shooting at the beast.
“Two one-thousand.” Giles pulled his side arm.
The beast turned towards Joyce, leaving Xander behind.
The demon rushed Joyce who kept firing.
Giles fired at the creature, the bullet causing it to pause about half way to Joyce.
“Five one thousand.”
A sound like a very large belch filled the cavern. A blast of liquefied guts shot out the demon’s breathing holes. Its eyes flew out, propelled by streams of gore, then its hard shell collapsed.
The two men picked up the packs and rushed to rejoin Joyce.
“Nice work,” she commented. Giles and Xander removed their breathing masks.
“Fortunately centanaturalas tend to be solitary, but we shouldn’t stay here,” said Giles.
“Still Giles, isn’t he?” observed Joyce.
“Would you want him any other way?” asked Xander. He took a moment to scratch at the mass of scar tissue that covered the left side of his throat before returning the defensive suit’s veil.”
“No, I guess not.”
“Did I say something amusing?” asked Giles.
“Giles, I’m resistance. The demons have been using those things as sewer guards for three years now. I probably know things about them you couldn’t even guess at.”
“Oh. I did not mean to be...”
“Relax. It’s comforting that some things haven’t changed. I’ll send a team to harvest the beast in the morning.”
“Yes. The legs taste just like lobster if you boil them.”
“Xander, please tell me she’s joking.”
“Personally, I think they taste more like crab,” replied the younger man.
“We better get going. The sooner we’re out of the tunnels the safer we’ll be,” said Joyce.
The rest of the journey was little more than a stress filled slog in the dark. They finally emerged through a secret passage into the basement of Joyce’s house. Without a word the three of them raced to close the trap door in the floor and pile the boxes over the hatch.
“Good. The equipment you brought will be dispersed through the underground. Did you get the plastique?” demanded Joyce.
“Of course. Nothings too good for my girl,” said Xander. He dropped the obscuring veil that covered everything but his eye and kissed her.
Joyce smiled, focussing on the right side of her young lover’s face. There he was Xander, late twenties but still the handsome expressive face she had known as Buffy’s friend. The other side of his face was a mask of scar tissue, with the empty eye socket covered by a patch. “I missed you.”
Xander ran his fingers lightly along the scar that parallelled her jaw line from ear to chin. “And I missed you.”
“I hate to interrupt. But it has been rather a long night. If you could see fit to providing me with sleeping accoutrements I’ll leave you two to um... Get reacquainted.”
“Ever the diplomat, Giles. But thank you. There’s an air mattress and sleeping bag in the corner. It’s safer to sleep days and work nights. The demons believe this house is deserted and still avoid, it since the slayer once lived here, but try to keep a low profile.”
Joyce took Xander’s hand and led him up the stairs as Giles prepared the sleeping mat.
Chapter 2 - DESPERATE HOPE
The Spirit of Man
BETH: There must be something worth living for.
There must be something worth trying for.
Even some things worth dying for.
And if one man can stand tall
There might be some hope for us all
Somewhere; somewhere in the spirit of man.
Xander followed Joyce into her bedroom. The sheets were worn but clean and the windows were covered.
“I have missed you,” he said as he pulled her to a stop and kissed her. His tongue drove against her lips and they parted to admit him. Her tongue met his and they caressed each other. Her mouth was sweet. He ran the fingers of his good hand through her short hair. It felt like silk to him.
“I love you, Xander. Oh god, hold me. Just hold me and make it all go away for a little while,” Joyce pleaded when the kiss broke.
Xander held her tight. His right cheek pressed against the side of her head.
She ran her fingers over his back and began undoing the clips that secured his armour.
Xander jerked away and caught her hand. “Better let me, my love. Have a few nasty surprises.”
Xander undid the clips in a specific order often pausing to remove almost invisible wires as he moved along.
Joyce watched for a few moments, then began pealing off her own cloths. She finished first. Xander paused and smiled at her. She was lean and fit despite her age and the occasional patches of scar tissue that marred her skin. Her breasts drooped slightly but were still full and attractive. The lines left from a slavers whip crisscrossed her back but a fire in her eyes spoke to the effect that experience had had on her. He thought she was beautiful and in the world he now lived in, she was.
Joyce watched Xander remove the armour and smiled.
If one good thing came of this it’s us, She thought. Xander dropped the top of the outfit. His chest was broad and solidly muscled. The right side was almost perfect, just occasional thin scars. The left was mutilated from shoulder to waist. Scar tissue stood out in large patches. His left arm was almost completely covered in scars and his left hand consisted of two fingers and a thumb. He dropped his pants. The scars arced away from his genitals then down the side of his left leg. He removed the last piece of clothing and stood before her.
“Let’s wash up. The demons are still running the pumping station. You can’t drink it but it tests out clean enough for bathing,” said Joyce.
“As my love commands,” agreed Xander.
She strode up to him and kissed him gently on the lips. His fingers traced down the line of her spine. Then he pulled her close. His penis rubbed against her Venus mound as he devoured her mouth.
“Come on, we both stink.” Joyce took his hand and led him into the bathroom. They stepped into the tub and she turned on the hot tap. The room temperature water sitting in the tank flowed out and they both raced to wet themselves before closing the valve.
“I dream of taking a real bath with you.” Xander picked up a bar of soap and began rubbing it over Joyce’s body.
“Yes, with hot water and bubbles.”
“God yes. I’d love to see you in a bubble bath. So sexy.” Xander drew the soap over her breasts and gently massaged her nipples, he then trailed one hand down to her sex and stroked her clitoris.
“Hmmm, and champagne and strawberries,” added Joyce.
“We’ll have room service bring them to the honey moon sweet.”
Joyce pressed her buttocks against his penis as his fingers played. “Why, Mr. Harris, is that a proposal?”
Xander paused in his play and turned her to face him.
Joyce looked into his eye and saw something there she didn’t recognize. After all the battles and fire fights they’d seen together, this was new.
“If it was, would you say yes?” he asked.
“Xander. We... I mean if we humans win the war... Well... wouldn’t you want someone your own.”
“No! I want you. The only good thing to come out of this damn war has been us. Win or loose, I don’t want to give that up.”
Joyce stared at him, shocked to hear her own thoughts coming from his mouth.
“Yes,” she said.
“That would be my answer.”
“I love you, Joyce. Marry me?”
Joyce smiled at him. His eye was so earnest and his voice, despite the roughness his injuries lent it, so gentle.
“I love you too. And yes. Now hurry up before we’re too dry and have to use more warm water.
Xander kissed her, pulling her close. He soaped her anal cleft and back then built up a lather and rubbed it into her hair.
“Your turn,” said Joyce. She took the soap and played it over his chest, spending extra time where the line of scar tissue and healthy flesh met. She carefully lifted his penis and scrotum as she soaped them. He quickly grew firm with her touch and when she gripped his penis and gently masturbated him, he groaned.
“Let’s rinse off,” he suggested.
Joyce smiled and turned on the shower.
They quickly removed the soap and the water was just beginning to chill by the time they were fished. Taking a tattered towel from the bar on the door Xander began to pat dry his love. Her mature body was warm under his touch and Joyce sighed and moaned as he used the drying as an excuse to caress her. She took the towel from him and rubbed it gently over his healthy skin, then with vigour over his scars.
“How is it you can make dead nerves feel?” asked Xander, as she left a trail of bites along his left shoulder.
“The same way you made me feel again, my love.”
Xander pulled her close, kissing her, then he picked her up and carried her to the bed. He lay her down at the edge of the bed with her legs hanging over, then kissed her ankle.
“Xander Harris, What do you have in mind, young man?” asked Joyce in her best mother voice.
Xander smiled at her, knelt then kissed his way up her leg to her sex. He licked the length of her vaginal slit before taking her clitoris into his mouth and sucking gently.
“Oh God yes, Xander. Just like that,” whispered Joyce.
Xander brought the two fingers of his left hand up and inserted them into her vagina as he continued to suckle her clitoris.
“Xander, Oh Xander, Yes, my love.”
Reaching up with his good hand he tweaked her nipples and stroked the flesh of her torso.
“Xander, I want you inside, now. Please.”
Xander enjoyed the tone of her voice, even if it was kept to a whisper. He stood and positioned himself, feet on the floor, and slipped in. She was moist and warm. He bent kissing her as he began a slow pumping action. Straitening he brought his good hand to her clitoris and toyed with it while allowing the roughened scars of his left hand to scrape gently over her legs.
“Xander, Yes, Faster, Faster, Owwwwwwww,” breathed Joyce.
Xander clamped his lips shut as he came with her. His seed shot deep and it was like his entire consciousness centred on his penis. Everything else was forgotten. He collapsed on top of her and their lips met.
Minutes later they lay on the bed entwined in each others arms.
“I meant it you know?” said Xander.
“I want to marry you. Giles is a Wiccan priest, he could do it this afternoon.”
“Xander, this isn’t make believe, there are real consequences.”
“I know consequences, Joyce. You know my rank. When the war broke out anyone with experience fighting demons got a commission. I’ve had to send men to their deaths. Believe me, I understand consequences. I’m not the boy who grew up and went to high school here anymore. The one consequence I know I want is you. I want Giles to marry us this afternoon, even if it’s only to sign the papers.”
“I have the license and rings in my pack.”
“Oh, Xander,” Joyce teared up.
“You said yes.”
“And I meant that too.” She kissed him for a moment leaving the hellmouth and the war behind.
Giles sat on the battered lounger the material was torn in several places. Joyce and Xander sat side by side on her decrepit couch. Xander’s left arm encircled her shoulder. His remaining fingers making little patterns against the skin of her upper arm.
Evening light crept in past the tattered curtains and around the boarded over windows.
Giles straightened from signing the document on the coffee table. “Congratulations. I am happy for you.”
“Thank you, Giles,” said Joyce. “Now why are you here instead of networking the entire west cost underground.
“We’re losing,” said Giles.
“The Canadians are holding along the 49 th, by using hit and run tactics. They have the training and skill but not the numbers or equipment. If the European coalition hadn’t thrown in with them they would’ve collapsed months ago. As it is, it’s only a matter of time.
“The US forces?” asked Joyce hopefully.
“No hope, Sweetheart. The line’s back to Montana and Wyoming. If it wasn’t for the Islamic coalition and the Israelis we wouldn’t even have them there. Those boys took the Texas and Colorado fronts. The air war is the only place we’re really holding our own, just barely. The Demons have started vamping any captured pilots and are setting up night squadrons. If they get them in place, we’re toast in the air as well.”
“I heard rumours that the South Americans were making a push to retake Mexico.”
“Done and failed. The good news is the Asians are holding their borders, the bad news is, it’s only because they’re willing to throw away solders like tissues,” said Giles.
“There may be a way to close the hellmouth.”
“What good would that do? The demons are already here?”
“Sweety, the main problem we have on the front is for every one we kill a hundred show up. Close the hellmouth, we cut off their reinforcements. If we can do that we stand a chance.”
“They’ll just open it again,” objected Joyce, who pulled away to look her new husband in the eye.
“Maybe not,” explained Giles. “If the spell we wish to cast works, it will seal the hellmouth completely. Now admittedly it will reform, that is cosmic law, but it will reform elsewhere. Some other nexus on the ley line system. It will also reform in its closed state. If that nexus is on lands held by the humans, we can guard it. Keep it closed.”
“Good, do it. Close the accursed thing.” Joyce’s voice sounded strained.
“That’s the prob, honey. We need to be almost on top of the hellmouth for the spell to work. And well...”
“I need, Willow,” said Giles.
“God! You don’t want much. Of course on top of the hellmouth is the place you’ll find her.”
“Have you...?” began Giles.
“She E-mails me info when she can. Giles, I... She isn’t the Willow we use to know. That Tara creature has done things to her.”
“As I feared. As I knew. But she is essential.”
“What’s the plan?”
“The higher powers have found a way they can intervene with out breaking the truce they hold with the demonic forces.”
“Mighty big of them to finally get off their butts.”
“Don’t judge them too harshly. Earth is not their only concern and an all out war would do far more harm in a cosmic sense that what they see as this little skirmish.”
“So, what have our good and dear friends decided they can do?”
“The hellmouth relies on corruption and destruction. If a pure essence of creation is introduced into it, the reaction will seal it, forcing the powers to realign.”
“And you are going to introduce this element. Why do you need Willow?”
“You ever hear the Oddician Wiccan wine blessing?” asked Xander.
“Final line and gist of it is, “For there is no greater power than that of a man and a woman joined in the bonds of love.”
“What the heck does?” Joyce paused in thought. “Oh my God, the Wiccan creation myth. You want to reenact it with Willow.”
“Giles, like, Ok. I’m not one to judge, considering how many years Xander and I have separating us, but Willow? Wouldn’t Oz be a better choice?”
“Oz fell in the battle of Denver. His company was pinned down. The moon was rising, he decided to forgo his herbs and threw himself among the enemy at the start of the change. During the fight his men managed to escape but they report seeing him literally ripped limb from limb.”
“Oh God. But Giles, why you?”
“Because Willow and I were lovers.”
“You knew she and Tara ended the physical aspect of their relationship some months before the hellmouth opened.”
“Willow was confused after that. She wanted to, needed to, reaffirm her femininity. She asked me as a friend, a mentor, to be her lover. To help her decide who she was. Sex can be a powerful thing, we fell in love. Although to say we fell in love is misleading. I think better, we finally admitted we were in love and had been for quite some time. We kept it to ourselves. We wanted to be certain of our feelings before adding the complication of telling the others. Buffy was- - -”
Joyce glared at Giles. “What was my daughter?”
“Joyce, I loved Buffy like she was my own but can we not be honest to her memory. She was brave, strong willed and a loyal friend but she was no saint.”
“I don’t need...”
“Honey, it’s true and we both know it. Buffy would have been freaked by Giles and Willow. Heck she would have been ballistic about us.” Xander smiled at Joyce, the good side of his face looking like the goofy teenager of years before.
“OK. Go on.”
“When Willow was lured to the hellmouth by Tara it was as a friend, nothing more. We had decided to announce our engagement and convention be dammed.”
“I still don’t see why you need Willow. Couldn’t any Wiccan priesthood do this consecration thing?”
“Willow has been at the hellmouth since its opening. She knows instinctively the nature of its power. That knowledge will govern the energies that flow into the Chalice. It is essential she be there for the blessing. Otherwise the consecrated energies will only dissipate amongst the profane. The sacred energies must shatter a specific thread of the forces that hold the hellmouth open. Willow is the only human alive who might be able to instill the knowledge of which thread that is.”
“OK then. What do you want from the resistance,” demanded Joyce, all business.
Chapter 3 - WE ALSO SERVE
The Spirit of Man
Parson: Once there was a time when I believed without hesitation.
That the powers of love and truth could conquer all in the name of salvation.
Tell me what kind of weapon is love, when it comes to the fight?
And just how much protection is truth against all Satan’s might?
Willow nestled into the warm body that held her. A strong masculine arm encircled her waist and she felt a safety she had never known anywhere else.
“Rupert, you awake?” she asked.
“Hmmmm,” he replied and kissed the back of her neck.
She smiled. “I was just thinking.”
“About?” his hand shifted to play across her small firm breasts and gently caress her nipples.
“About us. I’m a little scared.”
Rupert paused and he shifted position, drawing her around so he could hold her and look into her beautiful young face. “Do you mean about telling Buffy and Xander. They will simply have to adjust.”
“No, I mean about us. I mean. I’m happy with you and very satisfied.” she smiled at him.
“I am pleased to hear that. I will endeavour to maintain a standard of excellence.”
“Rupert, I’m serious. Suppose in a year or two I start, well, wanting a woman. I can’t deny that that’s part of me. It’s almost like having two separate libidos. I don’t know if either alone would be, well... enough.”
“Do you want to leave me?” Rupert looked stricken.
“Goddess, no! Rupert, you’re the best lover I’ve ever had, and the finest person I’ve ever met. I love you. I’m Just...”
“Afraid. Willow, Love. I fear the same thing. I do not have any answers but I do know this. I love you. And I honestly believe there is nothing that can destroy what we have so long as we are honest with one another and respect one another.”
“But suppose in a year or two I...”
“Willow, I would much rather have you to myself. Just the two of us, but if my choice was to share you or not have you at all, while it would gall me to do so, I would rather have a part of you than none of you. Does that put your fears to rest?”
“Rupert, I am marrying the most wonderful man in the world. I... I want it to be just us two. I’m being silly.”
“No, love, you’re being honest. That as much as anything else is why we belong together.” Rupert kissed her. The kiss began as a mirror act of affection but Willow pulled him close and parted her lips. Her tongue tip entered his mouth and his tongue played with it. His hands strayed over her body caressing her breasts and stroking down her sides. One of his thick strong fingers parted her vaginal lips. slowly teasing back and forth the length of her slit. She took his penis in hand and stroked it.
“Lay on your side?” she asked.
Rupert smiled and followed the instruction. This was always the position she wanted when she needed reassurance. She snuggled her back into him, spooning, and positioned him at her opening.
“I love you, Rupert,” said Willow as his arms went around her. His left arm passed under her slender chest and he massaged her breast. He caressed her clitoris with his right hand as she slowly eased onto him.
“My Willow, My love. I want to call you my wife. I want nothing more than that.”
“Pretend, It will be true soon enough. I want to hear it.”
Willow eased fully onto him and he began kissing the back of her neck and her shoulders. He held her close against him. Skin touching skin. She was enfolded in his arms, almost cocooned. For her it was like being in a impenetrable fortress of warmth and safety and love. She slowly rocked her hips. The feel of him inside her was exquisite. His hands roamed over her skin and he nibbled her earlobe. Her orgasm built like a warm fire in her genitals then suddenly arced out over her entire body.
“Awwwwwwwww, Rupert, My Rupert,” she groaned.
“Willow, My love,” the voice whispered in her ear.
They nestled together for a long time then the door bell rang.
“Who could that be?” asked Willow.
“I haven’t the foggiest. I’ll answer it. Perhaps you should get dressed,” suggested Rupert.
“Don’t want to shock them too badly,” Willow replied with a coquettish smile.
“Exactly.” Rupert kissed her and went downstairs.
Willow began pulling on her cloths. She paused staring at the jewelry box on the night-stand. What it contained was hers and she had worn it proudly when they were in Maine. She nodded.
“If they don’t like it, they’re just being poop heads,” she whispered and opened the case. She slipped the engagement ring onto her finger. “And there you stay, time to tell the world that Willow Rosenberg is in love.”
“Giles. I need to sp sp speak to Wi Wi Willow,” Tara’s voice came up the stairs.
“Tara, What is this about? And why do you believe she would be here?” demanded Giles.
“I... I followed her after we br br broke up. I k k know y y you and her a a are l l lovers.”
“Bloody hell! If that is the case I am sure you can understand why I might feel some trepidation about you wishing to see her?”
“Rupert, you have no worries. Tara is just a friend now. Aren’t you Tara?” said Willow as she came down the stairs.
“Y y yes. I I I need you’re help. I w w was walking b b by the high sc sc school and s s saw something.”
“The hellmouth?” blurted Giles.
“I’ll call Buffy,” said Willow.
“I’ll investigate,” agreed Rupert.
“No No. I I I already ca called B B Buffy. She sent me to g g get you. She said it was some kind of demon trying to open the hellmouth. Said it looked like a cross between Racal Welch and a leopard.”
“Oh gods, a Libidical. Was there only one?” demanded Giles.
“Yes,” replied Tara she seemed to be standing a little straighter.
“Libidical?” asked Willow.
“Men have no power over them. We can’t harm them in any way. You best hurry, Buffy will need all the help you can give. They are powerful. I will research and see if I can find a weakness,” explained Giles.
“OK. Rupert, I love you,” Willow kissed him and ran out the door.
The two women raced to the library. Willow failed to notice how Tara kept pace, a thing she was never able to do before. Soon they were at the rebuilt high school. Despite the fact it was Saturday the doors were unlocked. They burst in and ran to the library. Willow entered the room with its modern Formica tables and metal book shelves. It was efficient and completely devoid of charm.
“Where is she?” demanded the redhead.
“No one leaves me, bitch,” snapped Tara’s voice from behind Willow. There was a brief moment of pain in the back of Willow’s neck then blackness.
She came too, chained to a heavy throne set in one corner of the library. Tara sat on the throne, only now she was grotesque. Her belly grossly distended and her lips huge and a leach like grey. Her eyes were black and life less, like a sharks.
“Tara,” breathed Willow.
“Aw, my pet, you are awake,” breathed Tara.
“I banish thee. I send thee to they proper plane and place. I command thee begone!” Willow spoke and gestured but nothing happened.
“Oh do it again. I’ve shared power with you, little witch. There isn’t a spell you can cast that I am not immune to. It was a precaution I took after you almost found me out with that demon locator spell.”
“What do you want?” demanded Willow, a sick feeling rose in her guts.
“You. Buffy dead. Riley as my willing dog. Xander as an appetizer and Giles as an entree. Oh yes and to open the hellmouth so my mistress may enter.”
“Why did you help us?”
“Oh, Willow, are you so naive? Hell has its nations. My mistress rules a rather small queendom. Now if I had let some other demon defeat you’re precious scoobies, they might have opened the hellmouth, then my mistress would have missed out. This way. She controls the entry way and all the other demoniac lords have to bargain with her to reach this pleasant little world.”
“The hellmouth isn’t opened yet. Buffy will.”
“Buffy will open it. There is an interesting spell I found. It uses the slayer’s life force to open the gate. It is quite remarkable really. It also traps her spirit. A living soul encased in dead flesh. Isn’t that a wonderful torture. And I have ways to make it all the more exquisite.”
“You lost your stutter.”
“Of course. I needed to play on your sympathies, to infiltrate your little group. Then your ego. Remember, You’re special or I am, you know, yours.” Tara laughed.
“You are a bitch.” Willow launched herself at the demon but was repelled with a simple hand gesture.”
“With you on that one, Will,” said Buffy. She leapt towards Tara, landing a kick against the side of her head.
Riley raced down the stairs from the landing, a tazer rifle in hand. He took aim and fired, stunning Buffy.
“Riley no!” screamed Willow. A second Riley burst through the door and ran towards Buffy. The first Riley’s face vamped and he dove on the second one, pounding his forehead into the floor until he was unconscious.
“No,” screamed Willow.
“Yes, my pet. Actually, I have you to thank for this idea. When you told me of your vampire double from the other world, I simply couldn’t resist.”
“May I play now, mistress?” asked the vamp Riley.
“Just be sure he’s securely chained.”
Willow wanted to close her eyes but couldn’t. The horror enveloped her. Tara chained Buffy so she hung upside down over the hellmouth. The vampire Riley stripped his human counterpart and tied him face down over a desk. The human Riley slowly regained consciousness.
“He is ready, mistress,” said the vampire.
“One second.” Tara threw water into Buffy’s face, the slayer regained consciousness.
“God,” breathed Buffy, as she took in the scene.
“He isn’t invited,” snapped vamp Riley.
“Riley, what are you doing to him?”
“Oh didn’t I mention that your Riley has some urges buried very deep in his psyche. You see, vamps just do what feels good. Don’t they Riley.”
“You may begin.”
The human Riley screamed as his vampire version savagely sodomized him, driving in in a single flesh tearing thrust, then pounding back and forth.
“No! You monster,” screamed Buffy. Tara silenced her by slitting her throat and allowing the blood to spill down onto the hellmouth.
“Enjoy the show, it’s one you’ll get to experience soon enough yourself, slut,” snapped Tara. She began to chant and as Willow understood the just of the words and felt the energies gathering what little warmth was left in her fled.
“Now,” ordered Tara.
Vamp Riley pulled back real Riley’s head by the hair and with out missing a single thrust of his hips slit the human’s throat.
Riley’s blood spilled out mingling with the slayer’s. The Vampire roared in orgasm. Riley and Buffy died. The hellmouth opened wide and the nightmare began in earnest.
Willow started awake. She lay on a filthy mattress on the library’s floor. The chain around her neck secured her to Tara’s throne. The demoness lounged there. Willow shivered. Her only blanket was a tatted piece of wolf hide Tara had thrown to her months ago. No one had needed to tell her its source. She wrapped herself in it, remembering how she had once been wrapped in Oz’s arms.
“You are awake. Good. I need a service,” snapped Tara.
“Yes, Mistress,” said Willow.
“I need a data search. The Canadians are proving troublesome. I want their military history.”
“After that I will grant you the honour of pleasuring me, slave.”
Willow’s guts churned and hatred blazed in her eyes but she replied. “Thank you, Mistress.”
She moved to the computer and began surfing the net. As she did this she also sent information on the demons that had recently come through the hellmouth to secured data bases known to the resistance and the human forces. She probably knew more about the war than any general human or demon, and what she knew made her weep. As she waited for a download she examined the library. The books had been destroyed and the walls draped in satin curtains, cushions littered the floor. Human women performed for Tara’s benefit, each couple taking shifts so the show never ended. A mechanical whirr thump sound forced her unwilling eyes to look at the library’s balcony. There Buffy’s and Riley’s stuffed corpses committed a perpetual act of sodomy and auto erotic strangulation. A small electric motor drove a gear system that kept the taxidermic specimens in constant motion. For five years Willow had faced that disgrace and still it tore at her soul.
There was a horrible screeching sound. Willow jerked around to see something huge and scaly move by a place where a hole had been knocked into the library’s wall. It was closed off by a steal grill and she knew if she moved closer she would be able to smell the stench of the sewers the passage behind it connected to.
She carefully brushed her thumb against the thin diamond band on her left ring finger. It was the only thing she been able to conceal from Tara with her magic. The ring Rupert had given her. It was her only comfort. She knew that he was out there, a force to be reckoned with even in a swiftly darkening world. Colonel Rupert Giles, chief liaison office for the underground. Her Rupert and as long as he was free she dared keep a sliver of hope in her heart. She focussed on the ring, using the pure gold and the amplification nature of the diamond to cleanse yet a bit more of Tara’s energy from her system.
Soon, you bitch, your blocking spell will fail then we’ll see how much you like my magic, Willow thought.
The computer bleeped.
“Mistress, the military history of Canada is now compiled. Do you wish hard copy or disk?”
“Later, my pet. Come show me you remember what I taught you.”
Willow shuddered but knowing she had no choice stood and moved to kiss the demon.
Chapter 4 - WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE
The Spirit of Man
BETH : There must be something worth living for.
There must be something worth trying for.
Even some things worth dying for.
And if one man can stand tall
There might be some hope for us all
Somewhere ; somewhere in the spirit of man.
“Angel and Spike are leading the defector companies. There has been no shortage of vampires who saw the writing on the wall, as it were. They know that when the demons have wiped out the humans, vampires will be next. Frankly, they are a reprehensible bunch, but with things as they are, one takes one’s allies where one can,” explained Giles.
“I know it is extreme but why haven’t they tried using nuclear missiles?” asked Joyce. They now sat around her coffee-table sipping tea heated on a small camp burner.
“They did, Hon.” Xander set his chipped mug down on the coffee table. The need for coasters had long since been lost. “They nuked Phoenix. Slowed them down for a couple of weeks. Then they brought in... Giles what were those damned things called?”
“Yeah right. Anyway, these things eat Gamma rad. End result, killed all the humans, left the bad guys standing.”
“That is another problem we face. Every time we come up with a bio-agent that turns the tide of battle, the demons find a form that is resistant to it and we are forced back,” added Giles.
“So closing the hellmouth is really the only hope,” said Joyce.
“Yes. We must reach the hellmouth and Willow.” Giles took a sip of his tea but before he did both Joyce and Xander saw the pain cross his face as he mentioned his lover’s name.
“A frontal assault is out. We’ve looked at that possibility, the old high school is now demonic headquarters for the region. It’s guarded like Fort Knox.”
“We have no choice, perhaps the sewers?”
“Closed up tight and packed with things I don’t even have names for, but they are deadly.”
“Bloody hell!” Giles stood and began pacing the floor. “If a direct assault is out, is infiltration a possibility? That was always my favoured plan of attack.”
“The Mayor?” said Xander.
“Beloved, he’s nothing but a collaborator. He won’t help us,” said Joyce.
“Mayor?” Giles paused in thought mentally accessing the reports he’d read about Sunnydale.
“He’s a puppet. Keep the humans in line, report to the demons, see to the day to day running of the town. A useless collaborating coward.”
“Ethan,” growled Rupert, his mental review having brought forward the desired information.
“Got her in one, G-man,” said Xander.
A cold smile touched Rupert’s lips at the use of the old nick name. He knew Xander was defusing him, distracting the cold rage that boiled up inside when he thought of his old ‘friend’.
“Does he have access to the hellmouth.” Giles’ voice was ice and steel.
“He sends in work crews and food for the demons.”
“Food? Oh Gods, you mean?”
“Victims to be eaten.”
“Gods and Goddesses all! Work crews though. That is a possibility. That could get us past the perimeter defences.”
“Giles, Ethan is a collaborator. He won’t do anything without a fight.” Xander picked up the kettle with his left hand and poured hot water into his cup.”
“Honey, you have the kettle by the metal part,” warned Joyce.
Xander finished pouring and set the kettle back on the burner. A blacked line ran across the palm of his left hand. Small wisps of smoke curled off it.
“Do be more careful, Xander. You may not feel it but injuries can still incapacitate you and I need you for this mission,” admonished Giles.
“What he said but drop the mission part. I just need you,” added Joyce.
Xander stared into her face then kissed her.
“Harrummm,” Giles cleared his throat as the couple on the couch proceeded as if they’d forgotten his presence.
“Sorry, G-man,” said Xander coming up for air.
“Um... Yes. Sorry Giles.”
“Quite all right. Joyce can you get us in to see the mayor within the next week? The assault must be on the night of the full moon to grant the spell its greatest power.”
“I think that can be arranged. We have an inside man in his office. Bit of a weasel, will do anything for the right price.”
“And you suspect his price will be?”
“For something like this. Three tins of beans, maybe four.”
“Whatever happened to gold watches?” said Xander.
“Times change.” Joyce took his good hand in both of hers.
“Beans we have,” said Giles disparagingly, as he though of the stock army supplies in their mess kits. “Arrange the appointment for us, Joyce. Just Xander and I. If this goes badly I want you clear of it.”
“Now wait just a minute,” she objected.
“He’s right, honey. I won’t be able to think straight with you there. For me, stay clear of this. Please,” asked Xander.
“Oh... All right. For you. But this is my resistance cell, either of you do anything to endanger it and I’ll kill you myself.”
“Understood. Make the arrangements,” agreed Giles.
Joyce moved to the front hall opened the closet door and pulled on a tattered overcoat. She checked a series of pockets sewn into the lining, pulling out a revolver, two semi-automatic pistols, a Bowie knife, a garrote, a hand grenade, two vials of holy water, a cross and two stakes. She returned each to its hiding place after it passed inspection. The men looked on in silence. A smile played across Xander’s face and Giles wore a mask of disbelief. Inspection passed Joyce slipped out the back door.
“She is... Impressive,” remarked Giles.
“That’s my Joyce,” agreed Xander.
“I always wondered if all of Buffy’s, um... specialness was the result of being the slayer.”
“Hell no! She got it from her mum. I think the part of her I had that crush on was the bit Joyce gave her. She’s one hell of a woman.”
“I have no doubt.”
Xander picked up his tea and sipped it as he tried to decide on how to open an old discussion. Finally the direct approach seemed the only way. “We should tell her.”
“We have been over this, Xander. We need her support, if we tell her she may withdraw it.”
“If the underground knows they can at least evacuate some of the humans before the assault.”
“And tip our hand. Gods and Goddesses man, this mission is next to impossible as it stands. If the demons know something is coming, we have no chance at all.
“She should know. Even if she does nothing.”
“And what good would that do? It would only include her in the devil’s bargain we face. Let the blood end on our hands, old friend. If you love her, leave her clear of it.”
“I still say she could mitigate the loss of life. Maybe have people prepared to evac at the start of the assault.”
“To what end? If we are successful, a few minutes warning will make no difference.”
“I still say - - -.”
“Major. No! I order you not to tell her.”
“You’re pulling rank on me?”
“Xander, I owe you that much. Enjoy the days and nights you two have left. Don’t ruin them for her with knowledge of what is to be.”
“You would tell, Willow!”
“I wish I had that decision to make.” Giles hung his head and stared at the floor.
Xander watched him, his own anger fading in the face of the man’s loneliness and grief.
“You really did love her.”
“With all my heart. I still do. I have touched her essence on occasion since the war began. My soul is only complete when I am with her. Do you know what that is like. Of course if none of this had happened, I would have been worried about our ages. Silly that. You know the years pass but inside - - -.”
“Inside you’re still the same. At least deep down. Giles, I would have understood you know. I saw how the two of you looked at each other. She was happier those last few months than I’d ever seen her. Will was like a sister to me. I wanted what was best for her. She found that in you.”
“Thank you. Perhaps there is a small mercy in this madness. She will not have to watch me age before her.”
“Take it from me. Wouldn’t matter. G-man, let’s end this, scoobies assemble.”
“What’s left of us.”
Joyce lay in a hollow dug by her basement wall. A piece of heating vent had been shifted so it carried sound from the living room to an old dryer port. She listened to her husband and her old friend discuss the assault. She had learned through hard experience to trust no one.
She’s gonna blow when they seal the hellmouth, thought Joyce. Oh, Xander, it’s a suicide mission. I won’t stop you, my love. We have five days. I’ll make them last a life time.
Crawling to the ditches’ edge she checked her surroundings then raced to the street. She dropped her gaze to the ground in front of her and shuffled along. Just another weary down trodden human, tolerated so long as she made a useful slave, then a meal for the beasts invading her world.
Chapter 5 - LOVES POWER
The Spirit of Man
BETH : No Nathaniel.
Oh no Nathaniel.
No Nathaniel, no
There must be more to life.
There has to be a way
That we can restore to life
The love we use to know
There must be more to life
There has to be a way
That we can restore to life
The light that we have lost.
Rupert lay on the sleeping mat. His mind was focused on one thing. One pure memory. His heart was filled with Willow. A sole treasured memento, a lock of red hair he had carried in his wallet with her picture, rested on his chest. His breathing steadied and his soul quested out. This was not the first time he had done this in the last five years but more rode on this effort than ever before. He floated up and turning stared down at his body. A thin gold thread connected his spirit form to the flesh and a line thinner still extended from the lock of hair. He touched this second line and was away.
Willow lay naked in the magic circle with Giles beside her. The alter candles blazed with the residual energy from their Tantric working. The flickering light painted her skin golden. She rose on one elbow and stared down at him. His eyes opened and he smiled at her.
“I think it worked.” she said and grinned.
“You think? We’ll be lucky if we don’t get a monsoon. Breaking a drought is one thing but really.” As if to punctuate the thought a boom sounded and the condo shook. Then the sound of driving rain striking the pavement outside penetrated the walls.
“Is it my fault we work well together.” Willow ran a finger down the centre of his chest.
Giles kissed her and playfully tickled her sides.
“Stop oh stop,” pleaded Willow.
The dream shifted the memory changing. Rupert stopped tickling where she knew he should instead change the tickle to a caress and begin a second love making session.
“Willow,” said Rupert. His face became care worn and there was more grey in his hair.
“Honeymoon in York, dining at the Golden Ram.” He spoke the facts that only the two of them shared.
“Rupert, what is it. The risk. If they sense your connection.” In the dream Willow sat up in the circle.
“I’m coming for you, love. We’re going to close the hellmouth.”
The dream image of Rupert took Willow’s hands. “The wine blessing. We’re going to introduce a creative principle into the hellmouth. I need you to determine which parts of its energy matrix have to be broken to close it.”
“Goddess. When it seals It will - - -“
“We’ll be killed.”
“I died when that beast took you from me. I would rather live a minute with you than a life time without.”
“Rupert, we’ll have to do the blessing, where my body is.”
“I’m. I no longer appear as I use to.”
“I love you, Willow. Your form is of little consequence.”
“Rupert, Look.” The dream image of Willow closed its eyes. The image shifted scars and tattoos of hideous creatures covered every centimetre of skin. The nose had obviously been broken and burn marks marred the cheeks. One nipple had been cut away and the hair either shaved or chemically removed.
“Willow.” Giles took the apparition’s hands.
“Can you, if it is necessary, perform the great rite with this?”
“Giles touched her cheek. “I can perform the great rite with the woman I love. Be the form symbolic or actual. I love you, your body is of little consequence to that.”
A tear tricked down Willow’s cheek and the form before Rupert returned to that of the young redheaded beauty.
He kissed her.
“Rupert, you should go. If they detect you.”
“They will not. Even in these times of hate, I’ll trust to love’s power. I’ve missed you.”
“And I you.”
Rupert kissed her and allowed his hands to caress the dream form before him. She kissed him back and reaching down stroked his penis. Spirit mingled with spirit, using the symbolic allegory of flesh. They caressed each other stroking away the hurts and cares. Rupert ran his fingers through her hair, feeling its silky quality. She lay on her back and he kissed her lips then suckled her. She was his Willow and, for a moment, they both let the last five years vanish into their love.
He entered her and the dream illusion dissolved. They melded one to the other, energy caressing, healing, touching. Two forces similar yet different, balancing each other and becoming more than the sum of their parts. Willow glowed a rich dark blue, shot through with gold and purple. Rupert was a deep navy with yellow and brown highlights. They flowed together a nimbus of light. A total sharing that made the physical act of love making seem clumsy and shallow by comparison. The degradation she had faced melted before an onslaught of total acceptance and support. His memories of harsh decisions, the deaths he counted as his fault, fell away before total understanding. They spiralled together, the energies intertwining. Orgasm was an explosion of gold fire that flashed through them both until they glowed like a newborn sun.
“Go, my love,” whispered Willow’s voice in the joined spirits.
Rupert reluctantly withdrew, knowing that if he was caught in his spirit form there were ways he could be bound.
Willow opened her eyes and looked at the perversion that had been made of her two friends. She turned the other way and saw the greater perversion that was the demon Tara. Tara spoke with a large monster with skin like a snakes, yellow slit pupil eyes and a head like a rams naked skull. Tara yanked the chain that secured Willow’s collar to the demonic throne.
“Waken slave,” snapped the female demon.
“Yes, Mistress?” asked Willow.
“Access the information on the Bthog company and print out their marching orders.”
“Yes, Mistress.” Willow moved to her small desk with its computer terminal and pulled up the files, simultaneously sending the number of demons in the company and the route they were taking to the resistance.
“Excellent,” said Tara. A long file of creatures identical to the one she had been speaking to emerged from the hellmouth and marched from the library.
The door opened and a filthy child of no more than six entered carrying a tray of steaming bowls. He paused by each of the female performers in the room, except for the couple actively involved, then carried a bowl to Willow.
“Thank you,” she said taking the bowl and spoon.
“Foolish custom to thank a slave,” snapped Tara.
“Yes, Mistress,” agreed Willow.
“Oh did you know a girl named Tabitha, would have been a year behind you in high school,” asked Tara. She lifted a large haunch of meat from the tray the boy carried and took a bite. Slaver spilled out the sides of her mouth as she chewed. Bits of gristle fell onto her distended demonic belly.
Willow knew what was coming. She had smelt this stew before. “Yes, Mistress. I taught her computers.”
“You didn’t do a very good job of it. She fell below her quota in the data processing division. You can apologize to her before you swallow.”
Willow kept the scowl from her face. She remembered the golden light that she had shared with Rupert and played the game of survival.
“I am sorry, Tabitha,” she said then spooned the soup into her mouth. No one in Tara’s entourage wasted food that might not come again.
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