This chapter takes place less than two weeks after the previous chapter. Will, angst - what would Will be without angst? Poor, noble Will. Life weighs heavily upon his broadening shoulders, I’m afraid.
Please, as always, read and comment! Buffy!Muse and I have been fighting tooth and nail to get the words out on the page, and for the moment, we’ve managed to come to a small understanding.
Feedback is always welcomed.
Goddess bless Willa, my first and foremost mentor, gillo, the hyphen queen one more rears her necessary presence, celesteavonne for helping to guide my way, and just_sue because she’s always on my mind.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go to my Live Journal Here or to simply_beloved: chapter 1.
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Beloved – Chapter 37 – Torn Asunder
Roused from a deep sleep by a howl of despair, Angel ran into Will’s room to find Nina collapsed in tears on the floor next to the bed.
“What’s wrong? Nina, what’s happened? Is it Will?” Angel asked, needlessly. Nothing else could provoke such a response from his wife.
Nina held up a crumpled piece of paper, her hand shaking so hard it took Angel three tries to retrieve it. Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry. I just can’t do this anymore… the letter began. Angel’s knees buckled and he sat down hard on Will’s bed, phrases jumping out at him: Too dangerous to stay...endangering family…all my fault… no more deaths because of me… I love you all. .
“How? How can he do this to us, Angel?” Nina’s eyes were full of pain and tears as she clutched her shirt above her heart. “Doesn’t he understand he’s safer here than anywhere else he could go?”
Angel enfolded his distraught wife in his arms, softly stroking her hair. “He’s not thinking of himself, my love. He’s worried about Liam and Bethany, Connor and Dawn; all the people he loves. He hasn’t been able to move on since the deaths of his friends.”
“He’s already quit college,” Nina sniffled against Angel’s chest. “How much more does that boy have to endure?”
The past few weeks, Will had seen more suffering than most people would have known existed, but he knew it all too well. He’d gone to the first two funerals held for his friends; his already-broken heart was shredded just a little bit more by the looks of sorrow mixed with anger from the families. Why had he survived when their loved ones were dead? He wished he had an answer.
He might not have been starving, or without a roof over his head… before. He guessed there was always something left to learn… to lose.
Will huddled in the corner of an abandoned third-floor apartment on the sleazy side of town. He’d rolled up his cash earlier in one of his t-shirts and hidden it in a hole in the wall, just in case he got mugged. He clutched his guitar to his body, softly strumming a sad melody. It wasn’t the wisest thing he could have done… making noise and possibly attracting attention to himself, but it was soothing, and his nerves were jangled enough.
Earlier that morning, his father had called his cell and begged Will to come home; for his own sake, for his mother’s sake… it was humbling to hear Angel reduced to such a state, but Will hardened his heart. He told his father if he tried to have him followed, he would leave the state. “I’m all right, Dad. I can take care of myself. You and Mom don’t have to worry about me, and now I don’t have to worry about you and the rest of the family,” he said, voice cracking.
With a lump in his throat, and an air of finality, Will threw his phone to the ground, and stomped it into little pieces. His last link to home and hearth was gone, and he felt oddly lighter for it. He was fairly sure he would make it if he were totally on his own, but…
There was Buffy. There was always Buffy. Through thick and thin, through hell and back, she was always by his side. It was his one saving grace. He was never totally alone. Will might be able to run from his family and friends, but he couldn’t and wouldn’t run from his girl. His Buffy. He remembered the physical ache he suffered when she refused to see him, and was profoundly grateful he wouldn’t be able to shake her now.
She was sitting besides him now, close enough to him to feel the ‘tinglies’, her eyes closed, smiling along with his music. Will wished he could gather her up in his arms. Since he couldn’t, however, he wished for a way to soothe himself to sleep quickly, instead of lying awake for hours at a time, staring at the stained walls, and the mildewed ceiling.
A sharp rap at the door startled both Will and Buffy.
“You’re not expecting anyone, Will. Make sure you don’t invite them in,” Buffy warned.
“I’m not that stupid,” he retorted. “You forget how I grew up.” With that, he put down his guitar and rose from the floor, calling out: “Who’s there?”
Instead of a reply, the door crashed open, falling to the floor as the rotted wood made the hinges give way. There, standing at the threshold, was…
“Drusilla!” echoed both Will and Buffy.
“How nice of you to remember who I am,” the vampire sing-songed as she swayed into the apartment.
“Oh, shit,” Will backed up. Obviously the PTB didn’t consider the sanctity of a threshold in a place Will didn’t actually own. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Will, be careful,” Buffy warned. “She may be loony, but she’s very dangerous.”
“Sunshine speaks the truth,” acknowledged Drusilla, “but she can’t keep my Willie-boy away from me now. Old enough and strong enough to take care of Princess now.”
“I don’t want to have anything to do with you, much less take care of you, you crazy old bat.” Will tried to back away slowly, only to have Drusilla grab hold of his chin and wrench his gaze to hers.
“Look into my eyes, my Dark Prince,” Drusilla crooned. “Be in me.”
“Drop your gaze, Will,” Buffy pleaded. “Try to avoid looking into her eyes. She’s got thrall.”
It was too late. Will stood transfixed, barely even breathing as the crazy vampire danced and whirled about him, arms weaving strange patterns in the air.
“You’re my bad dog,” she said, tenderly stroking Will’s cheek. “Born to smash and bite. You were always mine, and always will be. Your pesky light will fly, and we’ll be free to wreak bloody havoc once more.” Her jaws snapped shut as she growled, looking like the predator she was… feral.
Buffy could do nothing but stare in horror, as Will’s seemingly imminent turning played out before her eyes.
Drusilla bent her head and licked a swath up the side of Will’s neck, before the familiar crunch of bone and cartilage heralded her demon emerging, and the elongated fangs that spelled doom for the young man. Before she could sink them into his carotid artery, however, Will leaned forward, and then snapped his head back into Drusilla’s nose.
With a shriek, she let go of Will, watching in surprise as he bolted from the room, out of the apartment and thundered down the stairs. Drusilla sneered at Buffy, who gave a triumphant fist pump into the air. “The time will come again, Sunshine,” she gloated “and the lamb won’t escape the blackberry patch forever.” She clicked her teeth together and her eyes twinkled feverishly. “The thorns will catch on his fine skin and he’ll bleed pretty colors for me once more.”
Drusilla’s words hung in the air as she turned on her heel and waltzed across the broken threshold.
Buffy blinked to Will’s side as he wandered along the dirty alleys, trying to clear his head after the crazed vampire’s appearance. “Are you okay?” she asked, grateful that Drusilla hadn’t managed to rip into his neck.
“Fine, I guess,” Will huffed, not even looking at her. “I mean, I’ve gotten what I wanted… kept that loony bitch away from my family, but it’s still unnerving to have her come after me. I don’t know how she even found me.”
Buffy shrugged, because the truth was that she really didn’t know how. “Drusilla might be loony, but she has some kind of second sight – she used to commune with the stars or pixies or some such. It’s what always made her unpredictable and scary. I – I wish I could keep her from hurting you, Will.”
“I had a feeling she was gonna find me no matter where I went,” he sighed, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets. “I’m just hoping I won’t have to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life.”
“Look at what we’ve got here, guys.”
Will jerked to attention and found himself looking at a trio of ragged-looking men blocking the way in front of him.
“What kind of freak walks around talking to himself?” the middle guy in the red plaid jacket asked his friend to his left.
“Dunno,” sneered Ripped Jeans. “Looks like he’s loaded. We could help with that, don’cha think?”
“I’m thinking we should send the brat home to his mama,” the third man retorted, smacking a fist into his other hand. “But not before we teach him a lesson.”
Will straightened his shoulders, standing as tall as he could. “What’d I ever do to you guys?” he sighed, hoping they’d just leave him alone. How much more would he have to deal with today?
“Enough of your lip, smart ass,” spat Plaid Jacket. “Just hand over any money ya got and ya won’t get hurt.”
“Yeah, right,” Will mumbled mostly to himself.
“Don’t do anything stupid, Will,” Buffy pleaded. “Remember the first rule of slaying and survival is ‘don’t die.’ There’s no shame in running when the odds are against you.” Unfortunately, Buffy could tell from the set of his shoulders that he was bracing for a fight. She’d seen that posture often enough in Spike.
A Spike-like sneer lit his face at Buffy’s words. “I don’t have any money,” Will said, chin up, shoulders squared, staring defiantly at the men who’d accosted him. “I’ve got nothing left for you to take from me, so if you wanna fight, come and get me.”
The three men split up, surrounding Will. One by one they took turns throwing punches and backing away. Will managed to dodge most of them, as the men were somewhat clumsy and slow… and more than a little inebriated. Unfortunately, they soon got frustrated and attacked at the same time. Will was unable to throw them all off and was soon overpowered. Plaid Jacket landed a powerful uppercut to Will’s chin, decking him and knocking him unconscious.
“Hurry up, man,” Ripped Jeans hissed.
Plaid Jacket rifled through Will’s pockets, and finding nothing whatsoever, kicked his inert body, hard; there was a muffled crack as a rib broke. “Dude wasn’t kidding when he said he had nothing.” He shrugged, kicking Will one more time for good measure. “Let’s go. This isn’t worth getting caught for.”
Buffy watched the three as they retreated down the block and into another alley. “There has got to be a better way,” she murmured to herself. “How many more times am I going to have to stand by, helpless, as you get hurt?” she cried, attempting to shake him awake.
She sat on the floor next to the unconscious young man, ghosting her hand over his head, taking in the bruise blossoming on his jaw. “Poor baby,” she whispered. “If only there was something I could do for you.”
Suddenly, Buffy snapped to attention, her Slayer sense going wild. She looked around, praying that whatever was watching Will wouldn’t hurt him. A sharp whistle broke the silence and Buffy focused her attention in its direction.
Standing just behind her was a group of five very tall demons holding covered baskets. Red-eyed, snake-like scales for skin… Buffy tried to remember where she’d seen them before, but failed. The leader put down its basket and sniffed the air before it started a slow approach.
“We-il,” he said, before holding his hand under Will’s nose. Obviously satisfied that he was still alive, the red-eyed demon looked around. “Bu-fee?” he called out, much to her surprise.
Huh? Oh. Oh! “Whistler!” Buffy exclaimed, relieved. “Wow, have you grown since I last saw you. You can see me?”
Looking in every direction except hers, Buffy figured he couldn’t. She did remember he could feel her touch, so she put all her concentration into tapping his shoulder, and was rewarded with a big, toothy smile.
Whistler put his basket down, securing the lid when a cat almost managed to escape, much to Buffy’s chagrin. He made several melodic sounds, handed the basket to one of his companions who then departed and said, “Take We-il home,” He scooped him up with his arms. “Needs help.”
Buffy sighed in relief, touching the Rumpari on the shoulder again, and then blinked out.
Nina’s sharp cry brought everyone in earshot to the Hyperion’s lobby. Standing just inside the door was a six-and-a-half foot tall Rumpari holding the body of her son.
“We-il hurt,” he said to Nina. “Bring home,” he said to Angel as he rushed to Nina’s side.
Gently, Angel slid his arms under Will’s body and cradled him to his chest.
“Oh god, Angel… his poor face!” Nina softly tousled Will’s hair, and then softly stroked the skin over his bruised jaw. “But… he’s home! Thank god he’s home with us again.”
“Call Dr. Br’zzic. See if he’d be willing to make a house call.” Angel laid his boy down on the sofa and turned to the Rumpari. “Whistler?” he asked, amazed that he remembered the name of the little demon they’d rescued all those years ago.
Whistler trilled an affirmative.
“I can’t thank you enough, man,” Angel said, extending his hand to the Rumpari, who grasped it carefully in his own hand, claws retracted. “Can I get you anything? Do you need…?”
“I go home now,” Whistler replied, shaking his head. “Still need catch dinner. Tell We-il feel good.” He stopped to warble a few moments with Hugh, before leaving.
As the door closed, Hugh, Charlotte and Bethany gathered around Nina, followed by Connor and Dawn closing ranks around Will.
Buffy sighed and wiped her eyes, wishing more than anything she could be part of the family… could be there to share in the pain and joy and worry with her baby sister, who was now a good many years older than her, and everyone else. All she could do was wait and watch and pray that the Doctor would be able to take care of her Will and that all would be well. At least for this week.
“One day,” she swore. “One day.”