Title: Fools Rush In
Chapter 4: Nole Mi Tangere
Spike sat on the back steps of the Summer’s house, smoking thoughtfully as he kept watch over the unconscious Slayer lying a few feet before him in the soft summer grass, completely encased in a chrysalis of pale green light.
Truth be told, the thought of what would come next bothered him more than he’d been willing to admit, to himself or the witch. Didn’t fancy seeing the Slayer turn vampire — just wrong, that — and knowing how much Buffy would be sickened by it afterwards made him ache for her. The spark of hope she’d ignited with that gentle kiss in his crypt — hope that she might come to trust him, perhaps even care for him — wouldn’t survive the aftermath of this debacle, he knew. She would hate that he had been a part of this, no matter that it was for her own protection. And she would hate most of all that he was here to witness what was coming next — the Slayer in thrall to a demon like his own.
In the end, he hadn’t been able to make himself use Willow’s chains. Reminded him too much when he’s chained the Slayer to the wall of his crypt during that disastrous reunion with Dru. He’d take his chances with Vamp Buffy, thank you very much. Witch knew what she was about — the ward would hold. Worst that could happen would be that Buffy would somehow best him, stake him. And since that would likely be the outcome of this whole bleedin’ circus anyway, why not sooner rather than later? At least it would be Vamp Buffy putting an end to him, not the woman he loved. All in all, it seemed the practical approach. And practical as well to keep the smackdown part of the evening outside, spare the Summers women the wreckage that was sure to result.
Impatient now, ready to have this over, Spike rose to his feet and approached the cocoon. Its surface was oscillating hypnotically, shining almost too brightly to look at, and he squinted, trying to see through to what was happening inside. As he watched, a low, steady hum began to emanate in time with the pulsing light, growing louder and louder until suddenly, with a flash of green so bright it backlit the night like a cosmic x-ray, the chrysalis exploded in a burst of sparks, and disappeared.
What was left on the grass was roughly human in form, bent over in a low crouch, head down. Seemed to have a caul around it, Spike noted. Some kind of Drith Nac afterbirth, maybe. As he watched, the creature rose, the caul unfurling up and out, until at last it stood fully revealed.
Spike gaped in astonishment.
It wasn’t Buffy anymore, this much was true. But it certainly wasn’t a vampire.
The creature before him was slim, shapely like a woman, but well muscled, skin and hair shimmering like mother-of-pearl, with breasts high and lovely, nipples slightly uptilted. Its legs were long and lean, delicate ankles tapering to slender, muscular feet, taloned for gripping. Its arms, too, were womanly yet powerful, ending in long-fingered hands tipped with wickedly sharp golden talons. But the most shocking physical change was its wings — bone-white cathedrals shot through with gold, sweeping out gracefully from each superbly muscled shoulder.
If feathers were composed of liquid, this is what they would look like, Spike thought, mesmerized, watching them eddy and vibrate in tandem, although the night was perfectly still.
Wresting his gaze from the hypnotic effect of their motion and back to the creature’s undeniably female form, Spike saw much there that was the Slayer, in strength and in build. Yes, he could easily trace Buffy’s features in that lovely visage, but the sharpened cheekbones, slanting eldritch eyes, and imperious expression rendered it jarringly alien in a way that was making him downright twitchy. No vampire, then. Yet certainly a demon. But what kind, exactly?
And then it clicked.
“Jesus wept,” he breathed, and had to resist the urge to retreat. No wonder she was giving him the cold nasties. Standing before him, naked, yet proud and unutterably beautiful, was a seraph, a by-damned bloody angel. Disbelief and wonder warred in Spike’s face, and despite himself he took a step closer, moving deeper into the creature’s silvery aura.
“Buffy?” He cocked his head. “Slayer. You in there?” He reached out as if to stroke the gleaming edge of one alabaster wing.
“TOUCH ME NOT, VAMPIRE.”
The voice rolled over him in a wave of chordal harmonies so knitted and dense they seemed to penetrate every bone in his body, stilling him utterly before his hand could complete its arc.
“THIS VESSEL BEARS THEE SOME REGARD, AND I WOULD KNOW WHY BEFORE I SEE THEE DESTROYED.”
At the sound of the seraph’s voice, Spike was thrown back in memory to a moment decades gone: Midnight, 1908, outskirts of St. Petersburg. Dru riding him like the hellcat she was against a background of frozen stars, both of them naked and bloody in the snow. They’d just slaughtered every living soul aboard the express from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or so they’d believed. Suddenly the engine’s whistle shattered the night with a blast that nearly took his head off, and Dru screamed in delight, closing around him like a vise, his roar of pleasure lost in the train’s primeval shriek.
The angel’s voice was just as shocking, just as soul-splitting (if he had had a soul), and his whole body rang with its power. When he could move again Spike took a step backwards, then another, sitting down hard when his calf met the edge of the wooden steps. The seraph simply stood there, regarding him impassively, violet-on-violet eyes nearly raptor-like in their intensity.
“THOU ART CORRECT TO FEAR ME, VAMPIRE.”
That voice again, a wall of sound. Spike winced, clapped his hands over his ears.
“Oi, bird woman! Do us a favor and take it down a notch. Predator here. Sensitive ears an’ all.”
The seraph gazed at him curiously for moment. Spike felt something cool and feathery touch at him behind his eyes, a delicate lick of sensation.
“Gah! Stop that!” He jumped to his feet. “Bad enough, humans rummaging ‘round in my head. Don’t you start.”
“I am merely … adjusting.” The seraph’s radiance dimmed even as she spoke, her voice emerging at a tolerable level now, sounding much like Buffy’s, but with a resonant edge that bled music into the air.
“Well, leave off! Go adjust someone else.”
“I have not truly touched thee, vampire.” The angel seemed to shudder delicately at the thought. “I have merely tempered my powers to accommodate thy bastardized state.”
“What’s that, then? Mum and Dad were sufficiently married last I checked.” Spike shook his duster into place with studied nonchalance, patted his pockets in search of smokes, and began a leisurely prowl of inspection around the seraph, lighting up and inhaling deeply as he moved.
“I speak of thy demon, vampire, and the ill-considered bargain to which it gave assent when thy race first fledged.” The seraph seemed unperturbed by Spike’s appraisal, not bothering to track his progress with her eyes, although her wings trembled directionally in his wake.
“Present for the primal moment, were you?” Trailing smoke, Spike came full circle and leaned against the deck, his interest piqued.
“I am charged with the keeping of the origins of demonic orders, both celestial and vulgar.” The seraph’s voice was neutral, almost patient, as if speaking to child or an idiot. “Thy history is well known to me.”
“Ah, ‘celestial’ and ‘vulgar’, is it? One guess which group me and mine fall into.”
“Thou art of the lowest orders, surely, those who bargained for blood, darkness, and the pleasures of the human form, else thee would not be in mortal danger from my touch.”
“And a lovely little bargain it was, too.” Spike flashed a feral grin. “Not mortal, though, am I? What’s your touch to me?”
“I am the archangel Seraphiel, of the order daemons luminati, supreme across hierarchies. Love is our art, our being. Thou art a vampire, the antithesis of love. It is doom for such a one to lay hands on my kind.”
“This a Trekkie thing, then? Matter, anti-matter, whatnot?” Spike squinted at the angel in feigned confusion.
“Thee mock me, vampire. But do mock me with a touch and by cold fire will thee be consumed.”
The seraph dismissed him with a glance then, eyes leaving him to roam the yard, as if Spike, the susurration of leaves, the whirring of neighborhood sprinklers, were equal in her regard.
“Because I can’t love, is that it?” Spike’s voice was scornful now. “That’s your argument? Well, got news for you, eaglet, love’s been hanging me by the balls for over a century now, and no sign of stopping yet.”
“Thou speaks of lust.”
“Noooo. Love. Oh, not the airy-fairy version you lot profess, floatin’ up there in your candyfloss world, all clouds and halos and such.” Spike rolled his eyes, blew out a breath through pursed lips. “Real love is what I mean. The kind that roars into your life like a hurricane, bearing down, and down, and down on you, until the levee breaks and you spill everything, everything for love. For her.”
Spike stopped, jaw clenched. He glanced sidelong at Seraphiel.
“But you’ve never felt it, have you?” he continued slowly, almost to himself. “That kind of love, that kind of passion. Changing you out of all recognition. Don’t know what it’s like to wake up one day and not recognize where you are. No landmarks left. Only her. The path that leads to her.”
Spike seemed to have momentarily forgotten the angel’s presence.
“Do anything to walk that path. Twist yourself out of true, into whatever pleases her. Devil to angel, if that’s what she needs.”
Seraphiel turned in a blur of quicksilver. For the first time her wings ceased their delicate eddying, her luminous gaze riveted now to Spike’s face.
“Vampire, you strive toward the light?”
Unsettled at this change in Seraphiel’s mood, the laser intensity of her sudden regard, Spike shrugged dismissively.
“Don’t know as I’d go that far,” he said, recovering himself somewhat, “seein’ as how sunlight’s a tad fatal for my kind. But it’s true, I’m not the Big Bad I was. See things differently now. Do things differently. Try to, leastways.”
“And this thou dost for love’s sake?”
Seraphiel’s unearthly eyes bored into him as if by strength of will alone she could penetrate his mind, his very heart. Spike wondered what kind of tripwire he’d stumbled across in that strange internal landscape of hers. Didn’t really want to find out.
“Love Buffy, yeah. Love the Bit.” Spike took a considering drag off his cigarette. “But it’s more than that. Got feelings for humans in general now, and it’s cocked me up proper. Not just food or toys, not anymore. Growing a conscience of sorts. Unnatural, is what it is.”
“Yet thou art purely evil. A daemon malum riding a corpse. Thee cannot know or inspire love. Is this not so?”
Spike snorted, released the smoke he’d been holding.
“Sounding like the Watcher now. Same made-for-TV-movie version of the world he’s always blathering on about.” Cigarette in mouth, Spike shrugged out of his duster, set it carefully on the steps as he sat down. Then he leaned back and stretched out his long denim-clad legs, as if settling in for a friendly chat.
“But who d’you think crafted all those fancy Latin definitions and high falutin’ rules, birdling? Powers That Be, that’s who. Always looking to keep it simple. No grey area. No coloring outside the lines.”
Spike pointed the glowing tip of his cigarette at a still motionless Seraphiel.
“Not that cut and dried, though, is it? Yeah, got my demon on, that’s sure. But there’s more than a little of poor, poncey William thrown into the mix. What’s made my unlife one long letter to an Agony Aunt, innit? Bit of a mongrel, when all’s said and done. Not purely anything.”
Doubt and something else, something that looked suspiciously like hope, washed over Seraphiel’s face.
“And I’ll warrant it’s the same for you,” Spike continued, giving her a piercing look. “Clearly not all sweetness and light, are you? Got thrown out of heaven for some reason, else why muck about down here among the rabble, jacking the body of a slayer, chattin’ up a vampire? Running your own game, and I’d bloody well like to know what it is. So don’t give me that fifth-form twaddle about good and evil. Save it for the nuns.”
If an angel could be said to bristle, Seraphiel did so now.
“What thou sayest is true. I have been cast out of celestial orders for commission of sins judged most grievous, else I would not have been close enough to hear the Drith Nac’s call.”
“And what sins might those be, gosling? Forget to file those pretty talons of yours?”
“Mock me not, vampire, for the nature of my fault is twin to thy most precious concern, and I believe there is more purpose than chance to our meeting this night.”
“ ‘O my prophetic soul!’ ” Spike rolled his eyes. “Don’t go all destiny on me, luv, just to pretty up a minor rebellion in paradise. What’s the terrible deed, then? Can’t be a spot on what William the Bloody racked up in his prime.”
Seraphiel hissed. “I have done nothing approaching the mayhem and murder that stains thee, vampire.”
Spike grinned, a bit too obviously chuffed at this estimation of his deeds.
“Thou mistakest me if thou thinkest that a compliment,” added Seraphiel stiffly.
“You say po-ta-to….” Spike lobbed his cigarette end into the grass. “C’mon, then. Out with it.”
Seraphiel drew herself up to full height, towering a good six feet or more. Her wings opened fully in a great rush of air, arcing up behind her with a luminous intensity that seemed to set the sky aquiver. She raised a taloned fist to the stars.
“And lo, Seraphiel did preach the power of love to transform blackest evil to good, in transgression of all hierarchies, above and below. And the Archangels did condemn her heresy, demanding recant. None forthcoming, they cast Seraphiel out of the heavenly spheres, banished upon pain of death until such time as she proves the worth of her claim.”
Seraphiel held the pose a few moments.
Spike waited a beat, then clapped his hands together slowly, one eyebrow raised. Rising from the steps, he sauntered in Seraphiel’s direction.
“Delivery’s a bit Biblical, but I get it, and no mistake! Theoretical kerfluffle in la-di-da land, is what it is.”
Seraphiel looked distinctly annoyed, borrowing an expression so exactly Buffy’s that Spike couldn’t hold back a snort of amusement. At the sound of his laughter, the angel seemed to deflate like a spent balloon.
“What meanst thou, vampire?”
Spike rocked back on his heels and lipped another cigarette out of his pack, a nimbus of gold flickering briefly around his face as he drew it to flame.
“Not sayin’ you’ve no cause for complaint, mind.” He snapped the lighter shut and tucked it into a front pocket. “But it’s all hypothetical to you lot, innit? Easy enough, running on about changing evil to good. Got a natural advantage, haven’t you. Angel an’ all.”
Spike suddenly closed the distance between them until he was within inches of Seraphiel’s face.
“But you don’t really know sod all about, it do you, godlet?” he continued, voice low and ragged. “Wouldn’t know an evil impulse it if came up and bit you on the arse. Me, now, I’m down in the trenches every hour of every day. Fighting my nature. Chasing a dream. Trying to be worthy of it.”
Seraphiel was motionless, seemingly mesmerized by Spike’s performance. He turned pensive eyes to the night sky for a moment, then scowled and met the angel’s intent gaze once more.
“So don’t imagine you’ve anything to say about what’s involved in a demon like me moving uptown. Christ knows, I wrote the flippin’ book.”
“Yet my heresy is recorded, vampire,” said Seraphiel, her voice a plaintive, musical whisper. “My punishment real.”
“Suffering much, then, are you?” Spike stepped back with a smirk, blowing a stream of smoke the angel’s way in one cool rush.
Seraphiel raised her arms as if to strike him, amethyst eyes sparking silver fire.
“I am cut off from all I am!” she cried, wings coming together like a thunderclap. “Torn from the source of my powers and condemned to roam amongst lesser beings! What thou seest is but a shadow of my true glory! I am crippled in this realm!”
Spike watched as two glistening tears coursed slowly down the seraph’s beautiful face and fell to the grass in drops of molten silver.
“Join the club, pet,” he said then, quietly, wearily. “Join the soddin’ club.”
A/N: Credit and homage to Kalima (aka ) for use of the term daemons luminati.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/155525.html