Almost Heaven

Failure

Rufus growled and kicked the post of the California-king bed that took up half of his bedroom. He cried out in pain and fell onto the silk covered mattress. He rubbed at the third eye painted on his forehead. He didn't need to see anything else.

"Damn that stupid bitch," he muttered, angrily, "and her dumb ass vampire!"

Rufus laid back and closed his eyes. He wouldn't be able to do anything if he didn't get his anger under control. He calmly searched for the solution. She escaped his spell because of her connections to the world, friends, family, her vampire lover; they made a wall around her, protecting her from much of what he could do to her. The answer struck him and he jumped off the bed.

"Kill her from within," he muttered as he searched his magic supplies.

The only question was which of her friends could do the job? He gathered several candles, Jezebel root, cascarilla powder, woodworm and red brick dust. The witch would have been the way to go months before, but her recent meditation and training strengthened her against the type of spell he planned on using.

Rufus used the red brick powder to create a circle and made a five pointed star inside with the cascarilla powder. The boy, Xander, was too protective to kill her. He might be useful for something else in the future however. A thick black candle was set on each point of the star with wormwood sprinkled over the top of them.

He sighed as he lit each wick. It was much harder to summon and control the dream demons than use the spell he tried on the slayer, and killed the two hell spawns, the father and son, the other night. He'd rather not have to go through all the ceremony, but he had planned far too long, risked far too much to stop now. He looked over at the orbs he took from the hell demon. If that was ever traced back to him he'd be dead.

"It won't happen," he told himself as he sat in the middle of the star. It was between the Watcher and the vampire, they were the weak links. One concerned about the big picture, and the other hung up on the past, and the betrayal of the "good guys." But which would be the better target?

"Somnia daemonium, help me. Do my bidding. Corrupt the dreams of whomever I wish."

He spoke the next verse in Latin. "Morpheus, da quod vis, dona mihi imperium Willelmus et Aegid. Obsequor voluntati eorum somnia, animos flectere ad consilium meum"

He felt his will well up inside his chest until he swore he was going to explode. It left him in a gush, going out to complete his plans.

"Ha, take that, slayer."

Rufus stood and stretched. He was ready for a cup of tea and a little break. His relaxing plans were interrupted by a knock on his door. He sighed and moved towards it.

"If you're a girl scout, I swear I'll shove your damn cookies up your…" He swung the door open, but no one was there.

He stuck his head out, looking left. No one. He was grabbed from the right and thrown into the wall. Just his luck to look the wrong way.

"You plan on killing the slayer, I can't let you."

Rufus looked at the pretty blonde pinning him to the wall. Maybe it was the pale skin or the twinkle of gold in her furious sky blue eyes, or maybe it was the fact she didn't breathe, but anyway, he could tell she was a vampire.

"And why, may I ask?" Rufus asked with an air of superiority.

Darcy's fangs crept down. "Because my sire, the Master will have her blood on his hands, and his hands alone."

"I, a powerful warlock have tried and failed once already, how do you think some vampire will do what I cannot?"

"Because he's already succeeded once," Darcy growled.

Rufus raised his eyebrow. "Really? Well dear, lead with that in the future. I want to meet your sire. Just allow me to get my jacket."

Darcy stepped back, dragging him down the hallway. "You can meet him, I'll bring you there, but I warn you, it will be the last thing you do. He will kill you."Rufus shrugged, unconcerned. "Maybe, but I think I can offer him something he can't resist."

Darcy growled at the arrogant man and shoved him outside the apartment building. "I'm gonna enjoy watching you die."

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

William looked around him. He was in his old house! The momentary raise of his hope was dashed when he realized he was dreaming.

Early he had refused to answer questions, or speak other than to tell them he was going to the basement. Emotionally and mentally stressed and well as physically strained he was out as soon as his head hit the cot.

Determined to make the best of his dream, William ran upstairs, searching for his room. He looked around the familiar surroundings- everything was the same, down to the neatly placed journal, ink well and quill on his desk. He ran his fingers over the leather of his poetry book. It was much nicer that the notebook that he was forced to use in his horrible future.

"William, dear."

William twisted to see the sweet, healthy face of his mother. She smiled up at his from her seat on the end of his bed.

"Dear, give me a hug. I miss you so," she said.

William happily followed her request, dropping onto the bed and hugging her. He kissed her forehead, surprised, but delighted to see her again.

"Mother, I'm so… Are you apart of my imagination? You feel so real."

She touched his cheek. "I've come to warn you. Do you trust me, William?"

He nodded exuberantly. "Yes, of course. Mother, I know you wouldn't harm me."

She patted his shoulder. "William, you won't like what I have to tell you. You won't want to believe me, but I am your mother, and I'm going to tell you this for your own good."

He furrowed his brow. "Mother, what's wrong?"

"The slayer, Buffy, you care about her, possibly even love her."

"I don-" he tried to argue, but she stopped him.

"I know you, William, you have the heart of a poet. You're just like your father. But William, you can't trust her. She wants to hurt you."

"But-"

"No, William, listen. She knew about what her friends did. She told them to. She'll deny it, she might pretend to care, but you can't fall for it."

"She wouldn't-"

"Yes she would. She did."

William ran his fingers through his hair. "how do you know?"

"I'm in Heaven, William, I can see the past, present and future. Which brings me to the next thing I want to tell you about." Her voice turned remorseful, dreadful.

"What, mother?" His leg began to jitter as he waited for the bad news.

"You must kill her."

"What!" He jumped to his feet. "No. No, I can't. I don't even know that this is more than a dream."

"William, please." She stood, taking his hands. "I know you don't want to hurt her. You're such a sweet boy. A good boy. But you must."

He shook his head. "No. I refuse."

"You will spend your days in hell if you don't. She will sabotage you, force you back to those demons."

His jaw set into a hard line. "Fine. I deserve it for what I did to her. She deserves vengeance. I will go…I'll go back, but I won't hurt her."

She cupped his face in between her hands. "William, you aren't the only one. She fails, she makes a huge mistake. One that cost the world. Souls in Heaven aren't even safe. Many will be lost to Hell's fires. Please, William, you're my only hope."

His eyes widened. "No, you've been… you can't go to hell. It won't happen."

"It does. It will, unless you stop her."

"Tell me what she does, I'll stop it. I'll intervene." He tried desperately to find a solution that didn't end with Buffy's death.

"From hell? William, you can't stop her, not unless you kill her."

"No!" he yelled, turning on his heel and pacing.

"You have to. To save me, to save yourself, to save the world," she said softly.

William gripped his head. "I can't."

"You must."

He turned to her. "But I love her."

She smiled sadly. "I know. The sacrifice is great. But she'll be in Heaven. She'll be home. If you don't, the demons will take her to hell. If you love her, you'll kill her."

William shook with the emotions running though his body. He looked at the face of his mother. He had to protect her, but he didn't know if he was strong enough.

She pressed her index and middle finger against his temple and images flowed from her to him.

"I'm sorry, William."

He tried to block out the scene of himself, and his mother dangling from a wall, the hell beasts slicing them.

He sat up, gasping for air, his legs tangled in his sheet. He closed his eyes, but the horrendous picture of his mother being tortured awaited him. His eyes snapped open.

He had to kill Buffy.

He couldn't.

William growled and drove his fist into the wall, cracking the cement. He grimaced and watched the blood drizzle onto the cot. The pain washed over him and he looked at his hand. Two broken knuckles for certain, and possibly a third. He dropped his head into his hands, ignoring the searing pain that spider webbed up into his shoulder.

William wished momentarily that he was back in hell. There he wouldn't have to make such a terrible choice.

"William?"

He looked up, frightened by Buffy's voice.

"Are… are you alright?" She stepped slowly down the stairs. "Is that blood?"

William stared dumbly down at his hand. "Yeah," he rasped.

She stopped at his side, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Were you attacked by your dreams?"

He shook his head. "No, I did it."

She took his hand into hers, looking it over. "Why?"

"Bad dream," he whispered.

Buffy brought her eyes to meet his. His crystal blues brimmed with tears, and she couldn't stop herself from raising her hand to gently brush them off his chiseled cheeks.

"I'm sorry."

His bottom lip trembled, but he took a deep breath and pulled his hand out of hers. The jarring caused pain to thrum up his arm.

Buffy stood and walked over to a shelf. After a minute she returned with a first aid kit. Without a word she took his hand back, going about fixing his self-infected wound.

"Angel had nightmares too."

"What?"

"I'm going to put these back in place, it's going to hurt."

"But what did you-"

William cried in pain when Buffy jerked and twisted his bones into place. It only took a few seconds, but it felt like forever. The pain was excruciating.

"Shh, you're going to disturb the others."

He glared at her, the pain stole his verbal capabilities. He had felt worse, but he was certain he'd never get used to pain.

"After Angel got back from hell, he had nightmares."

William nodded. "I suppose that is a side effect."

Buffy set his hand on his thigh when she finished wrapping it. "Try not to hit things with this hand for a while, will ya?"

"Good advice. I'll keep it in mind."

Buffy snorted. "Good." She stood. "You, uh, you should have some blood. I got you some after you fell asleep. Xander and Giles weren't thrilled. I hate to break it to you, but I don't think they like you. Probably the whole vampire thing."

William smiled ruefully at her comment about her friends. "I dare say they don't."

"They'll get over it. At least they aren't trying to kill you."

William scoffed, "Yes, praise the Lord."

Buffy started up the stairs, giggling. "You are so English."

He watched her retreat up the stairs. How could she have been a part of the plan to get rid of him? She truly didn't seem to know anything about it.

William touched the hand Buffy had so carefully bandaged. "To kill or not to kill." He didn't know what to believe, or who to trust. Everything was muddled. His life was hell on earth, and occasionally hell in hell. Why couldn't he just stake himself and be done with it all?

The images his mother shared still haunted him, and he laid back down, staring at the ceiling. He couldn't do it, could he?

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