Almost Heaven

The Past

Buffy watched Giles sip his tea. He was supposed to tell her about some evil, world ending prophesy, but he barely said two sentences pertaining to it. He seemed perfectly happy to pretend that there were other matters of higher importance. He had wasted the whole day with excuses and shifty stares. The sun had begun to set and Giles' twitchiness was driving her insane.

"Alright Giles, dish. What's got you all tense and Britishy?" Buffy asked in an attempt to save her sanity.

Giles set down his twelfth mug of tea and straightened his glasses. "Well, erm…There's a rather disconcerting prophesy involving you and your, um, death."

The last word was muttered so softly that Buffy almost didn't catch it. She glanced at the other two dumbfounded occupants of the table before looking back at Willow and Giles.

"Okay."

Giles sputtered, "W- ch… What do mean 'okay'? Surely you don't plan on taking this laying down?"

Buffy clasped her hands and shrugged. "Laying down? No. But I'm a slayer, Giles, I'm supposed to die young. This prophesy is just giving me an exact date."

"You can't leave me again!" Dawn cried, gripping her sister's arm almost painfully hard. "I can't lose you."

"Dawnie..."

Xander stood up abruptly. "Alright. Okay. Prophesy, right? That means we know what's going to happen. So we stop it. Kill the big bad; slay the demon, save the world and our Buffster."

Willow spoke next, her voice soft. "It's not that simple, Xander. We don't know much. We haven't been able to decipher very much. Just the part about Buffy dying."

"Dammit, it is that simple! Buffy is our friend, if I have to die saving her then I'll die. Buffy is going to live."

Dawn spoke up, still clinging to her sister. "Second that."

Giles nodded. "I know you would give your life for that of your friends, Xander, but Buffy would give hers for the world, and that may be what we're looking at."

Buffy waved her hand in the air. "How about you tell me what you know, and we stop talking about anyone dying for a minute?"

Giles dove into the leather bag next to him, pulling out and big, old, ugly cracked leather book. "The prophesy is in here. I came upon it by mistake, actually. I didn't even know I owned this volume. I haven't even heard of it."

"That's because you didn't own it, gramps."

Every head at the table swiveled to see who owned that annoy, overly cheesy New York accent.

Whistler walked into the room, twisting one of the chairs out to sit on. "How's it going, slayer?"

"What do you want?"

Giles' eyes flicked from Whistler to Buffy. "You know this man?"

"He gave me the sword that sent Angel to hell. I repeat, what do you want, Whistler?"

Whistler touched his chest. "You remembered my name, I'm touched."

"You're gonna be touched," Buffy muttered, annoyed.

Dawn perked up. "Whistler? Are you the one that helped Spike?"

Buffy briefly wondered what William was doing. She had only seen him once that day, and he kept his eyes on the ground the whole time as he gave Giles several pages of paper with neat, flowery hand writing.

"Yeah, sweet guy. Too bad he's been cast such a crappy lot in life." He eyed the angry slayer. "But, uh, on to business. I'm here to give you guys a few hints, help lead you mules to water."

Xander stared narrowly at Whistler. "Is he a demon? Can I kill him?"

"Hey, Hey! I'm here to help, no death threats. Now, the book was placed in Mr. Watcher's possession by the PTB, Powers That Be. They hope to keep this plane of existence intact. Since it seems you bozos won't figure out the prophesy in time, good ol' uncle Whistler's here to do it for ya."

"And how do we know that you are trust worthy?" Giles asked, coolly.

"Helped with Acathla, didn't I? Hell is where it belongs, and you guys are still wearing your intestines on the inside."

"We can trust him, Giles." Buffy warned, "But one wrong move and I will be forced to punch you."

"Fair enough. Give me the book." He snatched it from Giles, who in turn growled quietly. "Geez, old guy's got teeth."

"Whistler…" Buffy left the threat off, knowing that he'd think up something worse than she would.

"Right." He waved his hand over the book and the words became old styled English. "Here ya go. This is all I can do." He stood and handed the book to Giles. "Oh," He turned to Buffy, "William the Bloody has his soul. Trust the kid, all he wants is to make up for everything he did. He's a good guy. I mean a really good guy, and you'll need him so keep him safe, he'll do the same for you."

Whistler blinked out, leaving everyone to puzzle over his words.

Giles' attention dropped down to the pages of damning words predicting a bleak future. "Hmm, oh dear."

"What?" Xander asked.

"The prophesy, it talks of the hero, Buffy, dying at the hands of one that wishes to open up the world to hell. Her death will, her blood, it will, erm, seal the entrance to hell. There's more, about, er, someone rising from ashes and the past. It cryptic, but at least it's English. I'll be able to figure it all out before too long."

"The past and ashes? What the hell does that mean? Am I gonna have to fight against all the vampires I've ever dusted? Oh god, it isn't Angelus again, is it?"

"Buffy, calm down, breathe. I'm not sure. I'll work it all out, I swear. Yes it talks about the past of the hero, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with your past foes. Everything will be fine."

No sooner did the words pass his lips then a flaming rock crashed through the dining room window.

"Bloody hell!" Giles cursed, yanking the book back to the safety of his bosom.

Xander whipped off his over shirt and smothered the fire before it could catch on anything else. "Yuck, it smells like someone ate something wrong." He looked at Giles.

"It's sulfur, you idiot," Giles hissed.

Buffy jumped up and sent Dawn upstairs to get her weapons. "Xander, go to the living room and look outside. And Xander, don't get hit by a flaming rock."

Buffy moved to the front door and waited for Xander to tell her what he sees. She jumped at the polite knock on the door.

"Xander, who's out there?"

"I can't see through wood and plaster, Buffy."

"Slayer!?" a voice outside the door called. "I'm sorry about the window, my ill-tempered brother did it. Can we talk? I swear, we won't break anything else or hurt anyone."

Buffy steeled herself and opened the door. Three uniformly seven feet tall and four feet wide, sizzling rock looking demons stood on her porch.

The one in front, the one smiling, ducked his head down so Buffy could see his face.

"Hi, I'm Horzstler the Horrid. Call me Hurtz." He pointed to his left. "That's my brother Murdzstler the Murderer." He pointed to his right. "And our sister, Susie."

"Uh, hi?" Buffy bit her lip and noticed Dawn, who sneaked behind the door with a battle axe in hand.

"You have a vampire named William the Bloody in your possession?"

Buffy squinted. "Who wants to know?"

"He killed our father and baby brother. We want to bring him back to hell with us."

"Ooh. No."

Hurtz gripped the doorway, splintering the wood under his mighty hand. "You don't understand. I don't feel like fighting you, how pathetic you'd be notwithstanding, so I'm offering a trade. Your life, and the lives of all the humans in your charge, for the life of the vampire. That's a pretty good deal, I'd suggest you take it."

Buffy took a deep breath and nodded. "That is a good deal." Hurtz grinned triumphantly. "But, you insulted my fighting, and I just can't stand for that."

Hurtz face transformed into a mask of pure fury. "How dare you!"

Buffy grabbed the axe from Dawn and swung it at the hand in the doorway. The blade sliced true and bit into the wall, Hurtz detached hand fell uselessly to the floor. He pulled his arm back, glaring balefully at the stump oozing his black blood. The wound instantly cauterized.

"You bitch!" he boomed. "You shall die a hundred times for this!"

"Blah, blah, blah. You demons all talk alike. Give me a new one." Buffy jumped up a little, kicking out her foot. It landed square in the middle of his chest and sent him tripping back into his siblings.

"Buffy?" William's uncertain voice sounded from behind her. She turned to look at him and Hurtz took advantage by grabbing Buffy from behind. Though difficult with only one hand, his hold was unbreakable.

"Spike, you are coming with us. And so are you, slayer."

The three humans and key stood on the sidelines, wishing they knew how to help, but knowing that they'd hinder.

"No, she isn't." William stepped closer, his face hard, the muscle in his cheek jumped like it was trying to escape his skin.

Since the first time she saw him scared and laid out on her grass by Xander, Buffy saw Spike in the face of the man who insisted on being called William.

"You have no choice in the matter. Be happy we don't slaughter the whole household." Hurtz tightened his grip on Buffy, hard enough to make her cry out. "You killed my father and brother, now you and your slutty slayer with pay."

"Slutty?" Buffy cried incredulously. "Where the hell do you get that? You should see the other slayer. She's slutty."

William stepped closer until he stood directly in front of Buffy. "Yes, well it wasn't all that hard. I'd say it was time your father was put down, the cowered was pathetically easy," William spat, the demon that still laid dormant inside cheered even as the man felt frozen with fear.

Hurtz roared in anger and threw Buffy aside. "You will die!"

He charged William, intent on ripping him to shreds. His broad shoulders tore through the doorway like paper as he leapt. William jumped aside, barely escaping the giant's attack.

"Bloody good plan, William," William muttered sarcastically as he scrambled to his feet.

"You can't escape me! I am the monster demons have nightmares about." Hurtz' one large hand swooped through the air. Had it hit William, he would have been knocked through the wall. But as powerful as the blow was, it wasn't nearly fast enough to catch a vampire.

William dodged past him and tore out from the front door into the rapidly darkening yard. He had not been ready for the hard punch that awaited him outside, though. He rubbed his jaw, dazed, and looked between a snarling Susie and her brother Hurtz, who was rapidly approaching from his other side.

Buffy, several feet away, was hard pressed to keep from letting Murdzstler crush her. It really wasn't fair. He was taller than humans, and she was shorter than average. Not to mention he was as wide as three of her.

"Come on, Murray, you can do better than that. I'm a girl, shouldn't you be stronger than little old me?"

"You are too mouthy. I will enjoy ripping it off."

"Well, gulp to that."

Buffy danced out of the way of his fist and threw her weight into a kick to his leg. Heavy or not, hit someone's sweet spot and they're going down. Murdzstler fell to his knee, gripping his shin.

"Hurts, don't it?"

Buffy's foot flew for the side of his head, but he caught it and swung her into a tree.

"Ouch." Buffy whined and rolled away from the big guy's foot as it slammed to the ground.

A glitter caught William's eye. The axe Buffy dropped! Susie threw a punch and William waited until the last second to drop bodily to the ground. Her fist went over him and instead sent Hurtz flying back a foot into the stair case.

William snatched up the weapon and embedded it in Susie's ankle. She cried out and fell back. William darted to his feet and ran out where Buffy was in the middle of her yard.

"I don't suppose sorry will work here?" he asked the three demons that closed in on them. Murdzstler snapped a thick branch off and threw in at them. Buffy and William ducked.

"I'd take that as a no," Buffy answered.

William turned the axe in his hand, his mind searching furiously for a way out of this mess. He formed a plan, chancy and uncertain, but a plan. He stepped forward and did his best to look unconcerned. He spun and flipped the axe easily with his vampire reflexes.

"I wouldn't want your mother to be childless, so I think I should warn you, if you kill me, you'll be dead within twenty-four hours."

"What does that mean?" Hurtz spat.

"I've been alive a hundred and twenty four years, I've made deals, I've made enemies and I've made friends. I helped this demon, nasty man, he owed me. I made a deal, he'll avenge my death. Now, you wouldn't want my friend to hunt you down."

Hurtz' eyes narrowed dangerously. "And who would your friend be?"

"Oh, he goes by many names. He's akin to the devil, really. He most recently was Ripper, um, that's Jack the. He's had others. Really, I thought you'd recognize that first one. Listen, if you want to check on it, go ahead. I'll wait here for you."

The three paused and looked at each other. They made a silent decision.

"We'll check on this. I can't see the Ripper making that kind of deal with scum like you, but better to be safe. If this is a lie, we'll be back." Hurtz took his siblings hands and in a swirl of fire and brimstone, the three were gone.

William stumbled back and leaned heavily on the tree. "Oh dear lord."

Buffy leaned next to him and the other four poured out of the house. They crowded Buffy with hugs.

"Guys. Breath. Needed," Buffy squeaked. They backed off a little and Buffy looked over at William. "Was that true? The Jack the Ripper thing?"

"Not that I know of. Not that I can remember anything."

Xander tilted his head. "You sure sounded like the old Spike. All cocky and swaggering."

"Yes, well I was bluffing. This is possibly the most terrifying experience of my life."

"Well you held your own really well." Buffy pushed off the tree and hissed at the pain in her leg.

William's hands shot out to steady her and help take weight off her injured leg. She smiled a little at him and he felt his entire body tingle.

"Hands off, dead boy," Xander growled as he pushed William back, taking his place by Buffy's side. "You okay Buffster?"

"Yeah, but we better get ready. Those guys are going to be back when they find out that William lied."

"Why don't we just toss him to them? He's all they want."

Dawn, not able to look up from her feet voiced her agreement. "Xander's right. Maybe we should just…" She couldn't finish the sentence.

William felt each of her words like a knife to his heart. He thought she cared about him, but it seemed that she thought as little of him as Xander did.

"Yes, indeed," Giles agreed, nodding. "It makes sense. It might be our only choice."

Willow refused to add her opinion.

William took a shuddering breath and before Buffy was able to speak he answered the groups' agreement to send him off to his death.

"Okay."

Buffy's mouth opened and closed. "What?"

"If my life saves yours, your sister's and your friends' lives than I'll do it." William's crystal blue eyes bore into Buffy's green ones. "I'd die for you."

Buffy pressed her mouth into a thin line. "No."

Xander cried out, "But Buffy!"

"I said no. End of discussion." She pulled away from the group and did her best not to limp as she walked to the house.

William felt something swell inside his heart. The moment of unspeakable warmth was ruined by Xander, who grabbed his shoulders and slammed him into the tree.

"If Buffy dies because of you, I swear I'll feed you slowly feet first into a wood chipper."

"I told you I'd die before letting her get hurt," William said quietly.

"Hell to that. I know you're playing Buffy, and I refuse to be tricked. Those demons come back and attempt to hurt Buffy to get to you; I'm throwing you to them."

"If that happened, I'd jump." William pushed Xander back enough to escape his bruising hands. Empowered by the fight he just had and by Buffy's refusal to that him be dragged away into hell, he calmly set Xander straight.

"I don't care what you believe. I don't care what you think of me. I'm here, I've been forced from heaven, forced to be in this hell where I attacked a woman I clearly have feelings for. As long as I'm here I swear that I will make up for my sins. That does not include taking your abuse."

With that said William turned on his heels and followed the path Buffy took to the house. His insides shook but he refused to let his fear show. That was the most outspoken he had ever been, not counting what he said to the demons.

William found Buffy in the kitchen. "Thank you," he said softly.

"Hey, first rule of slaying, never feed a man to evil hell spawn."

"Yes, but I'm not a man."

"Yeah, well you're close enough."

William smiled and tipped his head in thanks.

Outside Xander seethed silently and the four made their way inside.

"Giles, we may have a problem," Xander whispered to the man he thought of as his mentor. "Buffy has a soft spot for Spike that will get her killed."

Giles nodded. "I know. I just don't know what to do about it."

"Why don't we just get rid of the problem? She'll thank us later."

Giles looked grimly into the kitchen where Buffy and William were moving about in comfortable silence. "You may be right."

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