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Wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles - Hell's latest chapter - Even at the Turning of the Tide is now ready for you. Please, enjoy!

Cross posted to sickchicks and my regular journal.


Hell Is In the Details – Chapter 16 – Even at the Turning of the Tide

Hello, Peaches.

Angel paled visibly. It seemed that bluffing and brazening his way through just went out the window as options. Once again the proverbial bad penny had turned up at his doorstep.

~That’s my vampire!~ Buffy grinned. “Always did like to make an entrance,” she murmured, thinking back to a certain Parent’s Night.

They never listened to her, Harmony pouted. It would serve them right if Blondie Bear took everyone apart.

Wes stared as if he’d spotted the Golden Fleece.

Lorne and Gunn immediately leapt to Spike’s side for support just before his legs gave way.

“Gorgeous entrance, my little drama Queen.” Lorne whispered. “Can you stand any longer or do you need to put your tush down?”

Spike grimaced. “Barely holding on, mate. Sittin’ sounds like a wonderful idea. Lyin’ down would be better, but…”

Buffy shoved her way through the chairs blocking her path to Spike the moment she saw the injured vampire’s legs start to buckle. She’d argued against this foolhardy stunt but Spike had insisted on showing up. Said he wanted to ‘shove his survival in the twat’s face’ and made the trip to Wolfram & Hart out of sheer stubbornness.

She reached Spike just as he’d been gentled onto one of the sofas towards the back of the office. “You know you shouldn’t be out of bed, don’t you?” Buffy ran her fingers over the vampire’s shoulder. “Are you going to be alright or do you need to go back to Lorne’s place? I think you made your point just by showing up.”

“M’fine, pet. Leastwise for the moment. Go do your vengeful bitch thing. M’not missin’ a bleedin’ moment of it.”

Wes watched them guardedly. What he knew of Spike had been gleaned from Watchers’ Journals and Angel’s descriptions. He was unsure if Spike was baiting them all into believing he was weak; all the better to strike at them when their guard was down. However, noticing the solicitous way the Slayer was acting, and the ease with which both Lorne and Gunn interacted with the vampire, he relaxed enough to allow some common decency to surface.

Noting Spike’s weakened state, he pulled Harmony aside. “Do make yourself useful, dear, and heat up a thermos of the house special for our guest.”

The vampiress simply nodded, and left without an argument.

Unable to see through the small knot of people that had gathered around Spike, Angel became enraged, smashing his fists down on the hardwood desk with enough force to break it in two, driving splinters deep into the meat of his hands.

“What the hell is wrong with you people, fawning all over that sycophant like he matters to any of you? Buffy, really – is this what turns you on – danger boy? I mean he tried to kill you and all your little Scoobies for years.” Angel sneered, baring teeth that were almost fangs. “I could have stayed Angelus if that’s all it takes to keep you satisfied.”

Spike kept his eyes on the Slayer and smirked, as she performed a classic Buffy maneuver – she rolled her eyes. ~Elegantly put, luv.~

Harmony quietly let herself back into the room, handing the thermos of warmed otter blood to Spike.

“Thanks, pet,” he said, grateful for the warmth and strength it provided as he downed most of the viscous fluid in one swallow.

“I’m glad you’re back,” she whispered, pressing a kiss to his cheek. Turning to Buffy, the nervous vampiress said, “I didn’t have anything to do with this, I swear. I would never…I mean, killing? Yeah – vampire. But what he did was wrong.”

In a move that surprised them both, Buffy grabbed Harmony into a quick hug. “If I thought for one moment that you had something to do with this,” she said, “I’d stake you myself. But Spike can use all the support he can get, and I do know that you cared for him.”

Wesley walked over to the destroyed desk, intent on calming things down before the situation got even more out of hand. He wasn’t happy with the things his friend had done, or the attitude he was displaying – Wes just couldn’t bring himself to summarily abandon Angel after all their years together.

The irate vampire placed his hands on Wes’ shoulders… and pushed him to the floor without a word of apology for the rough treatment, acting more like he wasn’t there at all.

He turned his full, fiery attention to Spike, getting as close as Buffy would let him. “Just like a fucking cockroach, aren’t you Spike? Church organs, fire, Slayers… even dumping you from the Order... nothing gets rid of you. You’re still crawling around no matter how often you’re stepped on.”

“And that makes you what, you ponce - a dung beetle? All full of shite? Couldn't best me fists and fangs, could you, you bastard?” Spike fumed, wishing he could stand up and face his… this… enemy on a more level battleground. Being seated – looking up – was too damned reminiscent of all those months in a bloody wheelchair, listening to Angelus pontificate as he stole Spike’s life away piece by piece.

“Had to shoot me in the back to take me out. Why the fuck didn't you just drain me or dust me if you hated me so much? I could understand that. We’re vampires – s’what we do.”

Angel lunged past Buffy, knocking the almost empty thermos of blood out of Spike’s hands. “Didn't want to dirty my hands with the likes of you, boy. I was sure you'd be dust by the end of the week, and out of my hair one way or the other.”

Gunn rushed forward, shoving the elder vampire away from Spike. “What the fuck is wrong with you, man? First you do the dirty and sell out your kin, knowin’ he’s got a soul same as you. Now you’re trying to attack the dude for sittin’ on a damned sofa.

“Tell me, Angel. Tell all of us. What can we expect from you now? If we piss you off – you gonna sell us out, too?” Gunn shook his head. “True colors, man. Fucking vampire. Never should have trusted you.”

Angel remained silent, glowering.

Gunn turned to Spike. “Look, dude. I don’t know you enough to even think about trusting you, and if you ever flash a fang at me I’ll dust you so fast you won’t see it comin.’ But you were wronged, big time – and I’m all for giving you one chance. We cool?”

Spike grinned. “Knowin’ where I stand with a bloke s’a good start.”

Buffy could barely contain her anger. The unprovoked attack on Spike had her delving deep into Mama Bear territory. Grabbing Angel by the shirt, she flung him back towards his desk.

“You get off that chair again, and I’ll find Wes’ crossbow,” she threatened. “What happened to the compassion in you? I thought your soul guided you to be decent and good. Are you sure you still have the bloody thing?"

Her unconscious usage of Spike’s favorite word made Angel’s fangs itch. “You know I do, Buff.” Smooth as silk he sounded, despite his rage, unruffled by everyone’s stares. “Soul's all anchored... it was part of the reason why I agreed to work here in the first place. Wolfram & Hart agreed to anchor my soul.” With a wicked grin, he asked, “Did I go out and kill anyone after we fucked?”

“No, but apparently you attempted to before sleeping with me – when there wasn’t even a chance that your soul was lost.”

Angel’s frustration began to rear its ugly head once more. “You know, I really don't get what you're so upset about. This was vampire business, settled under demon laws and practices.”

Why didn’t he see how wrong he was? Maybe the soul anchoring spell was faulty. Buffy wouldn’t put it past the Evil Empire to screw it up somehow, on purpose. She tried to explain, slowly – like one would to a small, really stupid child.

“No, Angel. It wasn't settled at all. Spike was right - vampire business is settled with fists, fangs or
stakes. You ’settled’ it like a coward. When his back was turned you drugged him and dumped him on someone else’s doorstep.”

Buffy felt ill. The more she thought about just what he’d done, the more nauseous she became. “How dare you call yourself a champion? How can you justify what you did? Spike was never yours to sell off like chattel.”

Obviously there was no answer that would satisfy her, so Angel just muttered, “He was family – I was his Sire. I had rights where his disposition was involved and I sold ‘em. Not having to look into his damned face or hear his bullshit gave me peace and quiet. Simple. Done.”

Buffy stared at him for a moment, still not believing the words coming out of his mouth. How deeply he believed what he was saying. The set of Angel’s shoulders told her he’d given up trying to justify his actions – that they were just that… his, and he’d make no further explanations.

She had an epiphany as she recalled another time Angel had been so resigned to his own actions. ~Look, I'm weak. I've never been anything else. It's not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It's the man.~ It made things all so simple.

Spike was pretty much William… a good, decent man… without the moment-to-moment sense of insecurity and the bravado forged by time and circumstances. He was an elegant amalgam of evil since dampened, gentility and passion. No split personality for him – all that he had been and all that he will be was claimed and accepted.

And oh, how it all rammed home now! What had been niggling at her since she first arrived. The differences between the Angel she knew and what he’d become. What couldn’t be filtered through her maturity and experiences. This Angel was much more like Spike – more of a whole person. Only the person underneath it all was a self-serving, petty and vindictive man. Merge him with the demon and it was easy to see how he could justify the things he’d done.

She shook her head. “I knew that this whole Wolfram & Hart thing was a disaster from the start. You were a better vampire than you were a man, Liam. I can hardly see the Angel I used to know.” She turned her back on Angel, and sat down next to Spike on the sofa, deeply affected by what had come to light.

“Well, Wonder Midget might be done, but I ain’t. Lorne and me found out where you sold Spike… what they did to him there. You knew damned well you didn’t expect him to survive long. Question is… did you know what they were gonna do?”

“Yes, Angel.” Wesley was deeply curious as to how much of Spike’s demise had been plotted. “Do tell us what Dante’s had to offer that made you turn to them as a disposal-all for your unwanted family.”

“Dante’s had a rep for holding demon cock-fights. The strong triumph over the weak. Best of all, if one is targeted, they keep on fighting until he’s gone.” Angel smirked. “The idiot was so proud of his reputation, I knew it would be the very thing to ensure his swift demise. A second souled vampire, well known for betraying his own kind and working wth the Slayer? They were gonna line up for miles to be the one to take him out.”

A small scuffle broke out in the back of the room, followed by a muffled “Bloody tosser.” It took both Buffy and Lorne to restrain the furious vampire from attempting to fight a battle he was only going to lose.

Wesley gasped. He was utterly appalled that Angel – Angel - could be so cold blooded as to send Spike out to be murdered for no other reason than he hadn’t wanted to sully his own hands.

“You think that’s something, English?” Gunn was incensed. Something so simple as a fight to the death scenario? Nuh uh – they were gonna know the truth. “Demon fighting is only a secondary offering at Dante’s. Their spotlight attraction is fronting for a demon whorehouse. Forced prostitution.”

Spike shut his eyes tightly. He had known the revelations weren’t going to be pleasant, but it was affecting him far more than he’d ever admit. His recollections were generally hazy, but this was bringing things much closer to the surface. The urge to run was mounting in his veins, and he was just this close to begging someone to get him the hell out of there.

Then Buffy smiled at him. And Lorne rubbed his shoulders in a show of support. He could do this. He would do this. He was not ashamed. He was bloody well ticked off, and would see it through to the end.

“Oh, come on now, Charles,” Angel countered. “How bad can it be? Spike’s been gone for a year now, and he looks just fine – well, except for the whole not walking thing.”

“Fine, you bloody tosser?” Spike grated out between clenched teeth. “I've been free and clear of that soddin' place for almost five days - been gluttin’ on the best human money can buy... and I still can't stand for more'n a moment, and can't walk. I'm bruised and broken in places you'll never see again. This looks like fine to you?”

He struggled to stand, thankful for the added strength he’d gained from the blood. Assisted by Lorne, since it was obvious he was going to get up with or without the help, he shucked off his duster, pulling his shirt off over his head.

Spike trembled as he shook off Lorne's supportive hands. His torso was still deeply bruised, ugly patches of olive and plum making his pale skin look dirty. Black jeans slung low on slender hips, the inflamed scar from his navel piercing was striking. “Here’s fine for you,” he murmured.

All too soon, his knees buckled; his reserves gone. Gunn scooped him up from the floor, looking to Buffy and Lorne for guidance.

“I think our little party’s at an end, buckaroos. Looks like the kid’s reached his limits. I’ll meet you at the car, Charles. Just a little bit of unfinished business here.”

At the door, Spike asked the man to wait. Turning back towards Angel, he said. “You know, over the years I’d grown to hate you with a deep and abiding passion, as you did me. I was always yours to hate… until now. You set me free, and I publicly acknowledge that fact.”

As they exit the office, Lorne walked up to Angel’s desk, planting his hands on the broken halves. “You're no champion, bucko. You're a vindictive, petty, jealous bastard who hasn't grown a whit from the useless Irish sot he was as a mortal. I quit.

“And Angelcakes? Just so I make myself perfectly clear on this?” Lorne leaned in close to the elder vampire – and spat.

Harmony ran after the green-skinned demon, silently pleading with her eyes. He nodded, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and they headed towards the car.

Angel sighed as he watched them all go, one by one – listening to their condemnation. Only Wes and Buffy remained.

Wes cleared his throat quietly. “I’m going home, Angel. I need some time and distance on this whole matter.” With a final glance at a once trusted friend, Wes said, “I’ll call you when and if I decide to come back.”

Angel watched him go, then turned to glare at Buffy. “Happy now, Buffy? You came into town to start a new life with me, and ended up decimating mine.” Viciously, he started picking the splinters out of his hands. “So, any parting words of wisdom for me, Buff? Probably your last chance, since I doubt we’ll be traveling in the same social circles.”

Buffy shook her head, sadly. “I wish one day you’d understand how wrong your actions were, Angel. You were right all along – it was the man that needed killing after all.” And closed the door on another chapter in her life.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
slackerace
Apr. 29th, 2004 06:11 pm (UTC)
I started reading this chapter, but it did not make sense. Then I realized that I had MISSED the previous chapter!!! How??? I stalk you with a passion equal to the fire of a thousand suns. How did it slip through my grubby little hands?

So, now I am going to comment on 15 and 16 by saying that I love manhandling!Buffy kicking Angel's ass all over his office. It was pretty and made me happy.

spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 09:40 pm (UTC)
Um... missing a chapter can be bad for continuity. So glad you caught up. And Buffy tossing Angel around? Yeah... I liked it, too. **grins**
dragonflymuse
Apr. 29th, 2004 06:18 pm (UTC)
I know how hard doing this chapter was for you ~ all the voices, the debating/arguing/revelations, but you did a fine job :) I personally would not attempt such a mass-convo scene (my palm sweat if I have more than 2 people in a scene!!), but this came out quite well.

YAY YOU!!! ::claps::
spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC)
You know... I think I'm gonna stop saying 'I'm NOT doing this anymore' because no sooner do I say that, then I do it again. **sighs**

Happy Birthday!</font>
oboe_weasel
Apr. 29th, 2004 06:20 pm (UTC)
Oh that was wonderful. I just loved that Lorn actually spit. Oh and everyone was calling Angel Bucko. *hugs*
spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 09:45 pm (UTC)
Yup - Lorne is really, really disgusted with Angel. And I'm having trouble coming up with or remembering enough names for Lorne to call everyone. Don't want to upset Spike with the pastries route again.
oboe_weasel
Apr. 29th, 2004 09:48 pm (UTC)
yeah once you take out the pastries Lorn is kind of lost in the name calling arena.
glassslipper
Apr. 29th, 2004 06:27 pm (UTC)
This is so much fun. I can't wait to see what you do with it next -- what Angel is going to do now that his troops have abandoned him...
spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 09:57 pm (UTC)
Don't rightly know what he's gonna do - certainly can't play with his Willy. Schmuck that he was. Anyway I think I'll be concentrating on everyone else. In much smaller groups. I'm exhausted from making seven people talk to each other at one time.
glassslipper
Apr. 30th, 2004 04:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, that must have been hard to write (all seven) but it came out just fine.

Maybe Angel's soul-attaching spell did mess him up somewhat, sucked up more of Liam than the demon used to let get through? (This seems to be one of the possibilities you are suggesting). If so, maybe they could do a re-attaching spell, or just un-anchor it (back to having the gypsy curse, which is somehow required to make Angel the tolerable being he used to be - maybe without that gypsy curse, he is just yucky Liam, he needed it to balance him out). Just some ramblings - feel free to ignore!
whenbuffysmiles
Apr. 29th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC)
Very good. Writing so many people in one scene is a nightmare but you did exceptionally well. I loved that Spike is part of the gang now. Even Harmony didn't get left out. Almost...almost feel sorry for Angel but not quite. Can't wait to find out what's next. Oh and yeah, so glad Buffy realized that Angel was her past. Yep, I'm satisfied at Spike's triumpant return. I wait for more.
spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
Absofreakinglutely a horrid nightmare of epic proportions... and the last chapter will have even more people in it. But much better controlled. This free for all was a mess.

You made me cry happy tears by telling me it worked for you. **smooches you**
As for people looking out for Spike? Biiiiig kink of mine. Things would have been so different if ONE person actually went out of their way to be nice to Spike.

**glares at Joss**
(Deleted comment)
spikes_heart
Apr. 29th, 2004 10:22 pm (UTC)
Little Harmony might not be altruistic... but she does love her Blondie Bear. So glad it all worked for you.
edenfalling
Apr. 29th, 2004 07:40 pm (UTC)
I really like that anchoring his soul makes Angel more like his human self; it's as if he doesn't feel he has to watch himself so closely anymore, doesn't have to make absolutely sure he's being good. And that, of course, is his downfall, because his natural impulses are fairly self-centered. I always thought it was weird that souled!Angel acts so differently from Angelus, whereas Spike is pretty much the same person with or without a soul; yours seems as good an explanation as any others I've heard.

Also, that was a really good handling of the multi-character scene; nobody got left out and nobody dominated it too much. Plus, cool use of Harmony! That's always a bonus.
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:01 am (UTC)
I'm so happy you caught the whole idea behind this fic. Liam was a jackass, and fully integrating his soul with his demon did NOT produce Sir Galahad, for sure. I hated the way Angel was portrayed as two separate entities.

Harmony was supposed to just fetch some blood, but she was so cooperative about it, I had to find more for her.

Thanks for appreciating the intricate ballet steps involved in getting seven different characters to speak and make sense. **whew**
essene
Apr. 29th, 2004 07:45 pm (UTC)
::blinks::

Wow. I was amazed that Angel just sat through it all like some...mafia don. Calm, cool, fairly collectecd. Spooky.

And now? Alone. Good. Bastard. Go Lorne!

(okay, but I still like him on the show, k?)
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:03 am (UTC)
Wow. I was amazed that Angel just sat through it all like some...mafia don. Calm, cool, fairly collectecd. Spooky.

Love your description - works for me. And even I like him on the show, k? (and I'll probably deny it in real life) Just not so much in this fic. **grins**
ladycat713
Apr. 29th, 2004 08:36 pm (UTC)
It's official. I Love Lorne! I want to have a sex change and be his boytoy.



Loved Buffy hugging Harmony and Really loved her epiphany about Angel.

I can understand Wes being the last to let go. After all, he had to go further to trust Angel than anyone given his lifelong exposure to the Watcher's council and of the people working with him, he's been at it the longest.


“Happy now, Buffy? You came into town to start a new life with me, and ended up decimating mine.”

Get a clue, Liam, this you brought onto yourself.
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:08 am (UTC)
Liam needs himself some schoolin' for sure. Glad Buffy's epiphany worked for you, and Harmony was just being a real cutie.
snowpuppies
Apr. 29th, 2004 10:33 pm (UTC)
Love. And Lorne spitting in Angel's face?? Priceless.

*g*
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:09 am (UTC)
Had to show his contempt somehow, our dear Lorne. I should have had him sing, and puncture Angel's eardrums. Make him deaf as a post to go along with being thick as one. **grins**
snowpuppies
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:16 am (UTC)
Make him deaf as a post to go along with being thick as one.
LMAO!!

Yeah, but then there would be many deaf people, not just Angel...and we wouldn't want our poor Spikey deaf on top of everything else.... *pouts*
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:19 am (UTC)
And she shows me the error of my ways - no thinking plot points at 4:18 in the morning. **grins**
snowpuppies
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:45 am (UTC)
*smooch* I love you when you're all sleep-addled! *ruffles your hair*
hobbituk
Apr. 29th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC)
*sigh* that was very nice.... she really doesn't love Angel any more!

But you forgot about the part where Angel gets zapped with a taser and wakes up in Dante's in Spike's place. It is only fair that he gets a taster of what Spike went through! Will you be including it, or do you think I should just make up a little scenario of my own? I could take all the nasty bits I couldn't bear to read in the first couple of chapters and just do Find and Replace "Spike" with "Angel". Then I would be able to read it without getting all upset.

Spike being cossetted sends me to my happy place though. *goes off to get ready for work, humming cheerily*
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 01:11 am (UTC)
Spike being cossetted sends me to my happy place though. *goes off to get ready for work, humming cheerily*

Oooooh, she makes me smile!

You go ahead and make with the search and replace feature - not quite sure what I'm doing to Angel... but it will be something. Spike will get a bit of his own back, it's a promise.
needfire
Apr. 30th, 2004 04:43 pm (UTC)
Oh lass that was wonderful, Angel has found himself exposed at his very worst in front of everyone, and Spike walks [or is carried yum Gunn] away with every thing.
I wonder where they go from here, what will the AI crew do next?
What will Angel do next?
Just love this I really enjoyed this. It was well worth the wait.
Thanks lass
spikes_heart
Apr. 30th, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC)
It's about to get dodgy... sometimes in getting what you wish for, you wind up with more trouble. Hopefully, it will all work out in the end.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )