No Time To Choose
Prequel to the House of the Setting Sun Series


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PART THREE
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Chapter Thirteen: Battle on the Hellmouth

The cut didn't hurt; she hardly even felt it, the adrenaline was pumping so hard through her veins. She passed the knife to Faith. Their eyes met. This wasn't a time for smiles but their eyes showed they were thinking the same thing. The Chosen Two back in action and ready for war. They hadn't spoken since out on the porch last night. There hadn't been time, the morning had been filled with going over plans, handing out weapons and shouting out orders. Nothing else mattered. If they didn't get this right, nothing would ever matter again.

Everyone was ready, they turned their hands over and the blood dripped down...


Standing on the lip of Hell, Spike knew he had never even been close before. The pit was seething with the terrifying, nightmarish horde that went deeper than he could hope to see. It took a lot to give a Vampire nightmares, and right now, Spike never wanted to sleep again.

Buffy was standing so close he could practically feel her tremble. She kept repeating she wasn't worried but the smell of fear was rolling off her like heavy cologne and making his hackles rise even further. There were no bounds to how much he admired this woman. Here she stood, facing death square in the eye and she was still putting the girls first, boosting their confidence even when hers was tattered.

She was talking now, something about Willow's spell, but he was too busy looking down to really listen. Then the things down below, all looked up, and the moment of truth was upon them.

The battle had begun...


'It's not going too bad, it's not going too bad.' Buffy repeated the mantra in her head as she dusted another Ubervamp. She saw some dash for the steps. 'Damn.'

"Keep the line together! Drive them to the edge! We can't let them do..." The blade slid through her stomach blazing a trail of fire behind it. She looked down at the tip, protruding from her shirt and watched it disappear with a fresh burst of pain.

Buffy fell forward, the scythe in her hands the only thing stopping her from smacking into rock face first. She tried to remain conscious, but the pain was so bad, she didn't think she'd live long enough for the Slayer healing to kick in. 'Please don't let them bring me back again,' she prayed, as she felt the strength draining from her.

"Buffy!" Suddenly Faith was kneeling in front of her and Buffy struggled to look up at her. The thoughts of everything that might have been flowed through her and she wished she'd seen it all three years ago. Still there was one thing Buffy could give her wild child little sis, the mantle that she'd always been denied, that of The Slayer, in theory anyway.

"Hold the line!" She croaked and handed Faith the scythe.

Faith was shaking her head imperceptibly like she wanted to refuse this gift, but she took it anyway. Buffy wanted her to go, to fight - she was too vulnerable sitting there - but Faith stayed, her eyes locked on Buffy's, lower lip trembling and Buffy knew then and Faith didn't try to hide it.

Buffy pressed her lips firmly together and tried to tilt the corners up, she didn't know whether it looked like the smile she was trying to give, but it spurred Faith back in to action and Buffy watched as she leapt up with a spinning kick and used the scythe to take out vamp after vamp.

'There's my girl,' she thought fuzzily.


Faith had three of these nasty ass vamps on her and she was going down. She hefted the scythe up.

"Rhona!" And threw it with Slayer accuracy to the nearest new Slayer.

Rhona caught it easily, even with only one working arm and made short work of the Vampires around her.

Faith struggled and struggled. She felt one of the vamps graze her neck with his fangs. He missed the mark that time and she started thrashing even more so he would the next time too. A part of her wanted to give up, let the bastards drain her dry. Buffy was dead - what was the point? But a bigger, better part of Faith knew exactly what Buffy would say to that. 'A Slayer never gives up, no matter what the odds.'

Just as she was starting to think her opinion wasn't really gonna matter at this point, she felt a sudden surge of strength. It coursed through her body, lending renewed vitality to her aching muscles. She felt like a super-superhero. With that thought she redoubled her efforts and chucked the parasites off of her. Looking around she saw Kennedy send a vamp flying over the abyss, Vi slashing, staking and dusting like she'd been doing it for years and Rhona chucking the scythe to...Buffy.

Buffy was back on her feet and looking...well, okay she'd looked in a pretty bad way actually, but who cared, the feet part was the important part. She sent a big smile her counterpart's way and felt her heart melt when it was returned. Then they were both back in the fray.


"Oh bollocks!"

Spike fell back against the wall as the geyser of yellow light shot from his chest and burst through the roof.

'Oh this can't be good,' he thought.

"Buffy!" He called.

"Spike!" She screamed back and made way towards him.

In the same instant more beams shone from his chest, and the ground, the walls and the roof began to shake. He faintly heard Faith shouting at everybody to get out and then Buffy was next to him and as usual his world shrank and only she was in it.

"I can feel it, Buffy." He looked down at her, awe and wonder written plainly on his face,

She didn't get it. "What?"

"My soul. It's really there. It kinda stings." He tried to shrug but the light wouldn't let him.

Around them the Ubervamps were bursting into flames and then dust. Nearly all the Slayers were out.

"Go on then." Spike waggled his head in the direction of the steps, urging her to get out before it was too late.

"No, no you've done enough! You could still..." Buffy didn't want to leave him. She couldn't leave him to die down here on his own. If they could just figure out a way to turn this thing off, they could both get out of here before the roof came down.

Spike was firm. "No you've beaten them back. It's time for me to do the clean up."

"Buffy, come on!" Faith was crouched on the bend in the steps, waiting for her.

Buffy had thought she had already gone with the others. She felt torn between rushing to Faith and staying with Spike. She made a helpless face and her fists clenched and unclenched at her side. Faith and Spike both understood instantly. Faith gave her one last look and bolted up the stairs, she didn't want to make this any harder for Buffy. Spike urged her to follow.

"Gotta move lamb, I think it's fair to say, schools out for the bloody summer."

He had his sexy smile working for him again, Buffy noticed.

"Spike."

Spike shook his head at her and held up his hands. "I mean it, I gotta do this!"

He was smiling slightly, his tongue just poking out from between his lips. It was obvious the shafts of light were giving him discomfort but he was determined to ride it out, come what may.

Buffy looked from his face to his hand and wanted to be there to ride it out with him. She reached out and placed her palm against his. Their fingers intertwined and as they both watched, their hands burst into flame. 'We always were hot together,' she thought stupidly at the same time as wondering why she wasn't screaming in agony at having her flesh burnt off.

She forced herself to hold back the tears and smiled at him, trying to show him how much he meant to her in a way words never could. It seemed to be having some affect. He was looking at her with the same shocked reverence, with which he'd greeted her newly resurrected self. Like he couldn't quite believe his own eyes.

She was so going to cry, but until that happened she looked him calmly in the eye.

"I love you," she said simply, knowing it didn't cover half the things she felt, but were the only three words that truly mattered. The only ones she'd never let herself say before.

He smiled, he looked like he might have wanted to brush her hair out of her eyes if they're joined hands weren't still extra flamey.

"No you don't... but thanks for saying it."

They held each others' eyes. He knew what she meant, and she knew that so everything was okay as it could be anyway.

There was a loud reminder that things were far from perfect when a large section of the cavern roof fell.

Spike yanked his hand back, "Now go!" He shouted.

With one last look she did as he bid and ran to the steps and up out of sight. Spike grinned like the Big Bad he was.

"I want to see how it ends!"

The rocks tumbled down around him as his soul slowly burned through him. His last coherent thought was 'Better than Woodstock.' And then there was just his laughter left turning to dust under the weight of Sunnydale High.


Chapter Fourteen

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Part Three Quick Jump:

Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen


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