Elaisias


by Saber ShadowKitten
PG-13 Version





Part Twenty-two



"I swear, this is the sixth bloody time we've passed that statue," Spike grumbled as he trudged along beside Buffy. They'd been walking for what seemed like hours through the never-ending, torch lit corridors of the castle and it was really starting to tick him off. "We're walking in circles here, people."

"No, this gargoyle has a tongue," Buffy said, poking the rock as they walked by. "The last one didn't."

"I thought that the end of the game came with killing the gorgon," Spike went on whining.

"We still have to get the Princess back home," Willow said over her shoulder and past Princess Kalika to the blond vampire. "And then we have to figure out how to get ourselves back home, too."

"And figure out why I'm dead," Buffy said.

"And if my soul is really permanent or not," Angel added, speaking softly to the redhead walking beside him. Willow gave him a startled look, which rapidly fell into unhappiness, and he put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed briefly. "We'll figure something out, Willow."

"Yeah," Willow said sadly.

"When I get back to the castle, my father will undoubtably want to throw a gala due to my return," the Princess spoke up. "We'll have minstrels and the finest foods and pastries from the kitchen, and he will present you all to the court as heros."

"Or he shall be presenting your body to the court for viewing at your wake, Princess."

The five came to a halt when the deep voice reached their ears. They heard the male chuckle evilly at their search for a body to go with the voice. "Having problems, are we?" he asked.

"The Duke of Tarsahk," Princess Kalika whispered. "I'd recognize his rude voice anywhere."

"You flatter me, your highness," the Duke's voice floated to them again. "So much that I don't wish for you to leave my company...ever."

"It ain't gonna happen, buddy," Buffy said loudly, moving in conjunction with her friends closer to the Princess. "We're taking the Princess home-"

"If we ever get out of here," Spike muttered to himself.

"-even if we have to rip out your spine and beat you with it to do so," Buffy finished.

Spike, Angel and Willow all looked over at the Slayer. Buffy gave them a sheepish look. "Um...I'm a member of the evil dead. Blame Spike," she said quickly.

"You're not a vampire, pet, just a bit corpsy," Spike said, but he gave her a grin. "However, I love the way you're thinking."

"An archer with sass," the unseen Duke, Dalagar the Cold, said. "I shall enjoy threading your short bow with your intestines, my dear."

"Now that sounds like something the poof would do," Spike commented thoughtfully.

"Spike, shut up," Angel growled.

"Enough of this blathering!" Princess Kalika abruptly exclaimed. She stamped her foot. "I am Princess Kalika, daughter of King Waldo-"

"Where's Waldo?" Buffy and Spike chimed quietly at the same time.

"-of Elaisias," the Princess continued without pause. "And I demand that you release us at this instant!"

Silence. Then a loud sigh. "Oh, very well. You all may go."

A section of the stone wall near the gargoyle they'd just passed slid open. The four misplaced friends looked to the opening, then at each other.

"Trap," Buffy said.

"Oh yeah," Willow agreed.

"But it's a new way to go," Spike said. "I'm sick of going round in bloody circles."

"Willow, you and Buffy stay here with the Princess," Angel said, making the decision as to what to do for everyone. "Spike, we're going to find out what's through that hole in the wall."

"Watch yourself," Spike warned Buffy before he followed his Sire.

As soon as the two vampires had left the corridor, Buffy turned to Willow. "We give them five minutes, then are going in."

Willow nodded. "Got it."

*****

Spike and Angel dove apart as the ogre slammed his mace down between them. They both rolled to their feet easily, adopted fighting stances and quickly surveyed their opponents. Two large, hulking ogres, several elves and several humans, all armed, stood in the enormous throne room. A rugged looking man, with tilted black eyes and ears that came to points, sat on a raised dias on an ornate throne, looking out over the floor with a bored expression on his face.

"Tarsahk?" Spike questioned before throwing a punch at an elf. He grinned happily when no pain exploded in his head, then grimaced when he realized that the elf was an animated corpse as rotting skin came off with his hit.

"Ah, I see my reputation has proceeded me," Dalagar said, his deep voice echoing in the throne room. "How lovely."

"Sounds a bit like you again, Angelus," Spike called over to his Sire. He ducked under a staff that was sung at his head by a living human. He quickly grabbed it on the next swing and yanked it out of the human's hands.

"Not the time, William," Angel snarled, spinning in order to back-kick an elf. His fist shot out and cracked a human across the jaw, sending the man falling to the ground.

Buffy, Willow and the Princess came rushing into the room, the Slayer immediately barreling into the fight. "I knew we shouldn't have let you go alone!" she shouted to Spike, double-kicking two elves at the same time. She landed lightly on her feet, grabbed a human's arm and tossed him partway across the throne room. "You never could stay out of trouble!"

"Me?!" Spike shouted back to her. He thrust the staff he'd taken from the human into the dead elf, skewering it.

"Luckily..." Buffy slammed her palm into the chest of another human, sending him flying backwards. "...I happen to love trouble."

"Love you, too, pet," Spike said quietly. Then he gouged another dead elf's eyes out.

Angel sent a hard side-kick into one of the ogres' chest. He jumped aside when the tall, bulky humanoid's mace whizzed past where Angel's head had been. The dark-haired vampire slammed his fist up under the ogre's ribs seconds later, the ogre grunting in pain at the hit.

Willow kept the Princess at her side near the stone wall of the throne room. She alternated looking between the fight, the man sitting on the throne and her spellbook.

"The Duke is a most despicable person," the Princess commented.

"He looks like it," Willow said. She darted her glance to the Duke, who was still sitting casually on the throne, then looked back at her spellbook. Her eyes alighted on a certain spell and she cheered. "Yes!"

Rising here hand, she quickly chose a target that was furthest away from her lover and friends, and began tracing signs in the air as she spoke the spell.

Head count, Spike thought, dodging out of the way of another living human's strike. His gaze roved quickly around the throne room, taking stock of his opponents. He saw one ogre fighting with Angel, the second one on the ground with a mace buried in his skull; Buffy fighting three opponents at the same time; the Duke; several unconscious or dead; one human sunk up to his knees in the rock floor; and the three living humans directly in front of the blond vampire.

Make that two living humans. The third had started to sink into the rock floor. "Thank you, Witch," Spike said gratefully. Sometimes he really hated his implant.

Angel kicked the second ogre in the kneecap, snapping it. As the large humanoid started to fall, the vampire grabbed the top of his head and his chin. With a quick, oft-done twist, the ogre's neck was broken. Angel dropped him to the floor with little thought and went to help his Childe, knowing that Buffy could hold her own in this situation.

He cold-cocked one of the humans, sending him down for the count. Angel flipped up a staff on the floor with his foot, caught it and smacked a second human on the back of the head. The third and final one received a hard blow to the stomach, sending him flying back several feet before landing in a heap on the floor.

The dark-haired vampire kept the pointed staff at ready and looked at Spike. "You okay?"

"Just ducky, peaches," Spike answered with an nod.

Buffy slammed her knee up into an elf's crotch and smiled wickedly. "Oh, did that hurt?" she asked as her final opponent dropped to the floor to writhe in pain.

Willow motioned to the Princess and the two girls hurried over to where Buffy, Angel and Spike had gathered near the center of the throne room. Almost unconsciously, they adjusted their positions so the Princess was protected between all four of the friends.

"We're leaving now," Angel told the Duke.

"Do you really think I'm going to let you leave just like that?" Dalagar asked, lifting his hand to examine his nails.

Angel hefted the staff like a spear and let it fly. It embedded itself in the cushion of the throne directly between the Duke's legs within seconds.

The Duke's startled gaze shot to the group. Angel held out his hand and Spike placed a second staff in it. "Next one, I'll aim just a little higher," the dark-haired vampire said.

The Duke smirked. "Really?" he said, pulling the staff free from the cushion.

Before anyone could blink, the staff was flying through the air, straight at Buffy. The blond Slayer hissed in pain as the pointed end of the staff went straight into her stomach.

"Slayer!" Spike exclaimed, hurrying to her side. He was immediately relieved to find more anger in her eyes than pain.

"Why is it," Buffy grunted, as her lover yanked the wood free. "That I keep getting holes in me?" She looked down at the bleeding wound and gasped as the skin closed up within seconds. "Did you see that?"

"I saw it," Spike replied, gaping at her. "And I don't believe it."

Angel's eyes flashed in anger as he stared at the Duke. "That wasn't very wise," he growled.

"Oh, are you still alive?" the Duke said in a bored tone once again. "Let me fix that problem."

Dalagar made a gesture and Willow and the Princess began to gasp, their hands going to their throats. The redhead looked at Angel in panic. She couldn't breathe!

Angel roared in anger and, instantly, Spike echoed the sound, feeling and following the pull to support his Sire. The two vampires shifted into game face and attacked as one. Over a hundred years disappeared in a second as Sire and Blood-Bonded Childe fell in perfect sync with one another.

The second staff left Angel's hand as he tore across the room towards the throne. The Duke jumped up to his feet on the dias and deflected the staff just as Angel tackled the elf. They both crashed into the throne, sending it and them falling to the floor.

Buffy rushed to the choking Willow's side, her eyes wide with panic. The Princess was kneeling on the floor, clawing at her throat beside the hacker. "Willow, what do I do?"

Willow gestured frantically towards her spellbook, which had fallen to the ground when the redhead's windpipe closed up. The Slayer scooped it up and held it open for the Witch, who began to rapidly flip through the pages, even as her face turned a bluish hue and spots started to dance in front of her eyes.

Dalagar rolled Angel until the elf was on top, but before he could throw a punch, Spike was there. The blond vampire yanked the Duke off his Sire and slammed his fist in the elf's face. When pain didn't sear through his head, he smiled evilly with his mouth full of sharp teeth.

The Duke broke Spike's hold and leapt to his feet. He shot his foot forward in a snap-kick, causing Spike to stager back several steps. Dalagar then spun and blocked Angel's high-kick and retaliated with one of his own, catching the dark-haired vampire across the face.

Angel snarled in rage at the elf. He ducked under a second kick before closing the distance between them. He smashed his fist into the Duke's sternum at the same time Spike kicked Dalagar in the lower back. The elf bent awkwardly at the dual blows and Spike snaked his hand out to grab the elf's dark hair.

Willow was close to passing out from lack of oxygen by the time she found the breaking spell. She jammed her finger down on the page over the spell with a frantic look at Buffy.

"But I'm not a magick user!" Buffy exclaimed. She darted a glance at the blue-faced Princess who was going into convulsions on the throne room floor.

The redhead reached out and took Buffy's left hand in her right, her projective hand to Buffy's receptive one. She allowed some of the magick that was always present in her body to flow to Buffy, linking them together.

Buffy swallowed nervously, nodded, and began to read the spell.

Spike yanked the Duke up against him, wrapping his arm around the elf's throat. Angel punched Dalagar several times in the stomach as the blond vampire held him captive. Dalagar kicked out, but Angel blocked as Spike tightened his hold.

Angel stepped forward and pressed the heels of his palms on either of the Duke's temples. "Release her," the older vampire ordered in a deadly tone. His golden eyes flashed with fire. "Now."

Dalagar the Cold spit in Angel's face in response.

The dark-haired vampire slammed his hands together with all his strength. The Duke's skull caved in with the vicious blow, his eyes bulging almost out of their sockets. Blood spurted from his nose and he made a gurgling sound as his body became limp in Spike's arms.

Buffy's voice shook as the unfamiliar words tumbled from her lips. She could feel the magick running through her and it made her even more nervous. Give her the physical violence any day and leave the spell casting to Giles had always been her moto. As she stumbled over the last words of the spell, she heartily wished she'd allowed her mentor to force her into learning the more mystical aspects of slaying.

But she needn't have worried, for as she finished the last line, Willow and the Princess suddenly gasped in great gulps of air. "Thank god," Buffy said in relief as the redhead began to regain her natural color again.

Spike dropped the Duke's body unceremoniously to the dias as Angel turned and ran back to the center of the throne room. Without stopping, he scooped Willow up in his arms and pressed his ridged face to her neck, listening with thankfulness to her heavy breathing.

"Um, Angel," Willow said after a moment's comfort in her dark-haired love's embrace. "I just started breathing again and I'd like to keep it up."

"Oh," Angel said somewhat sheepishly as he set her back on her feet. "Sorry."

"'S'okay," Willow said. She smiled up at him with exhaustion written on her features. "Just let's not do the not breathing thing again anytime soon."

Spike rejoined the group as Buffy was helping the Princess back to her feet. "You alright?" he asked the raven-headed young woman.

"Yes," Princess Kalika. She looked over to where the Duke lay. "Is he alive?"

"Nope, he's as dead as us," Spike replied.

"Well, most of us," Buffy said with a smile for Willow. "I'm glad you're okay."

"Me, too. One death on this adventure is enough...even though you're only kinda dead, cause you're walking and talking and all," Willow said.

Angel noticed that a few of the unconscious humans were starting to come around. "Let's not tempt fate too much," he said, tucking Willow into his half-embrace. "The sooner we leave, the better."

"But which way?" Spike said, gesturing towards the edges of the throne room. "There's five soddin' doorways."

"This way," the Princess said, starting towards one of them.

"How do you know?" Buffy asked.

"My late father's brother was the Duke of Tarsahk before he died and Dalagar the Cold became Duke," Princess Kalika replied. "When I was a girl, I used to play in this throne room."

"Then why'd we spend all that bloody time roaming the hallways, looking for an exit?" Spike said, as the four friends followed Princess Kalika's lead.

"Because I was not allowed out of the throne room except to go to our rooms on the upper floors of the castle," the Princess explained. "And a proper lady did not venture where she was told not to go."

"Guess that means I'm not a proper lady," Buffy said. "Because I always go where I'm told not to."

"And you've given me many an epy over the years, luv," Spike told Buffy. "I can't count the number of times I've wanted to take you over my bloody knee and spank some sense into you."



"Like Angel did to you?" Willow chimed in, winking up at the dark-haired vampire.

Spike's cheeks reddened with embarrassment and he was unable to retort for the first time in decades.



Part Twenty-three



King Waldo of Elaisias looked like Saint Nicholas. That's what Angel thought as the four friends witnessed Princess Kalika rushed into her father's warm embrace on the stone steps leading up to Castle Briglynn. With his rounded belly, full white beard and mustache, teary blue eyes and a head of curled white hair, the King was a Christmas icon come to life.

"Kalika!" the King exclaimed in joy. "You're safe!"

"I'm home, father," Princess Kalika said, hugging her father back. "And I'm so very glad of it."

"And I'm so very glad, as well, my daughter," King Waldo said.

"Anyone else going to heave?" Spike mumbled. Buffy shot him a glare.

"Father," the Princess said, pulling out of the King's embrace and turning to the four friends. "I'd like you to meet my rescuers -- Willow, Angel, Buffy and Spike."

"Sir," Angel said politely, giving the man a cordial half-bow. "It's an honor."

"It's more of an honor to meet the people who rescued my daughter," King Waldo said. "And I thank you profusely for doing so."

"Rescuing damsels in distress is our specialty," Spike said. "Especially when there's a reward involved."

"Spike!" Buffy hissed at the blond. "Shut up!"

"Contrary to what my pig-headed friend says," Angel said to the King after shooting a glare at his Childe. "Returning your daughter to you is reward enough for us."

"Says you," Spike muttered unhappily.

"Nonsense," King Waldo said. "I gave my word there would be a reward for the safe return of Kalika, so a reward I shall grant. Now, come in, come in. I would bet all of you could use a rest and something to fill your bellies."

The King and the Princess turned and started into the castle. Willow and Angel followed silently, both happy that they helped the family reunite. Buffy and Spike, however, were anything but quiet.

"I can't believe that you said that!" Buffy smacked Spike on the arm.

"You don't think I rescued the chit out of the goodness of my soulless heart, did you?" Spike retorted.

"No, but you don't have to act like an IRS agent!" Buffy snapped at him.

"Ouch," Spike said. "That's hitting well below the belt, pet."

"You're an ass."

"And you're in love with an ass," Spike countered. "Doesn't that make you even worse?"

"It makes me certifiable, that's what," Buffy said.

"You'd look cute all wrapped up in a straight-jacket."

"And you'd look cuter as a pile of ash."

"Are you two children done yet?" Angel asked over his shoulder. He looked pointedly at Spike. "Or do I need to take you over my knee again?"

"She started it!" Spike exclaimed quickly, pointing at Buffy.

Buffy smiled innocently and batted her eyelashes at the dark-haired vampire. "Who me?"

"Buffy, I can spank you just as easily as I spanked my Childe," Angel warned her.

"Hell no!" Spike growled at his Sire. "You keep your hands away from my Slayer or I'll cut 'em off!"

"Shh!" Willow stopped walking and glared at all three of her friends. "We're guests and we're supposed to be the heros and all we're doing is making a terrible impression. I won't be surprised if we're thrown out on our ears!"

"I thought it was 'our rears,'" Buffy said. Willow shot an evil look at the Slayer, who ducked her head. "Sheesh, sorry."

Willow nodded once. "Now behave."

"Yes, Mom." "Yes, Mum." "Yes, Ma'am," the three chimed at once.

Willow made a sound of distress and put her hands over her face. "Why me?"

"We'd better catch up before we get lost," Angel said, smothering a laugh. He started forward again, putting his arm around Willow's waist.

They caught up easily with King Waldo and Princess Kalika, both of whom had paused to speak with a distinguished-looking gentleman dressed in fine clothing of a deep navy in color. The man looked over the four disheveled friends and sniffed disdainfully.

"I shall have baths drawn up immediately," the dark-haired man said to the King.

"Very good," King Waldo said. He turned to the group. "This is my valet, Rasmin. He shall escort you to your rooms and provide for your needs; and tomorrow eve, we shall have a gala in your honor and celebrate my daughter's return."

"Walk this way," Rasmin instructed, turning and walking stiffly down the hall.

Buffy and Spike exchanged mischievous looks, then pulled themselves up to full height and mimicked Rasmin's walk as they followed him. Willow giggled and Angel just shook his head as they followed as well.

Castle Briglynn was as opposite as the Duke's castle as it could be. Even though it was nighttime, the castle seemed light and airy. Windows were decorated with gauzy off-white curtains, the walls decorated with portraits of rolling hills and pastures separated by torches set in gleaming brass holders. People, both human and non, bustled about, calling out greetings to the newcomers as they passed.

They walked down several corridors and up two flights of stone steps before Rasmin stopped in front of a wooden door. "This shall be the ladies' room," he said.

Rasmin opened the door and stepped inside to hold it. Willow and Buffy gaped at the richly gilded bed chamber. A large canopy bed stood central in the room, dressed with a downy, gold hued coverlet. Two ornate, dark cherry wardrobes guarded either side of a shuttered window draped with pale green curtains. A privacy screen blocked the corner of the bed chamber, with an extra-large, oval washtub hidden behind it.

"A maid shall be up shortly to draw your baths and another shall bring up a late supper for you both," Rasmin told the girls. He gestured for Spike and Angel to precede him. "Gentlemen, if you please, your room is further up the hall."

"See you later, guys," Buffy said without even a glance over her shoulder. She was too busy looking in one of the wardrobe closets.

"Ooh, this even has a heating pan!" Willow squealed, ignoring both men completely at her discovery.

Angel and Spike both shook their heads as Rasmin pulled the ladies' door shut. "Women," Spike scoffed.

"No other way to describe it," Angel agreed as they walked up the hall behind Rasmin.

The valet opened another door and stepped aside to allow them to pass. "Gentlemen, this shall be your bed chamber. Two squires shall be up to draw your baths and bring you both a late supper, as well."

The two vampires walked into the bed chamber even larger than the one Willow and Buffy had been given, with an enormous canopied bed, a fireplace and a writing desk in one of the corners. Two dark wooden wardrobes also stood on either side of a shuttered and white-laced curtained window.

"Cor, mate, look at this," Spike said in amazement, picking up a quill pen on the desk. "I haven't seen one of these in ages."

"Uh-huh," Angel said, not really paying attention to the blond. He was too busy looking through the silk and velvet clothing in one of the wardrobe closets.

"If either of you need anything, ask one of the squires or maids," Rasmin said, an amused smile quirking up the corners of his mouth. "Goodnight, gentlemen."

*****

Forty minutes later, Buffy and Angel met each other in the hallway. Buffy's eyes danced as she looked up at the clean, dark-haired vampire. "Going somewhere?" she asked devilishly.

"What about you?" Angel countered, grinning at the barely dressed, clean Slayer in front of him. Her braided hair was coiled on the top of her head in a way he hadn't seen in a very long time.

"Oh, I thought I'd just go down to your room, see if Spike needs a hand washing his back," Buffy said. She winked. "I know that Will does."

"You don't say," Angel commented. "Well, I guess I really should go offer my services. Just to be nice and all."

"You do that," Buffy said. "Now, point me to your room."

"Three more down on the right," Angel told her.

"Thanks," she said. She started down the hall, then stopped abruptly and turned to see him almost to her door.

"Hey, Angel?" Buffy called. Angel looked back at Buffy with a questioning arch of his brow. "Thank you."

"For what?" Angel asked, surprised by the sincerity of her tone. He didn't think she meant for telling her which door number Spike was hiding behind.

"For loving me," Buffy replied. She laid her hand on the wood separating her from Spike. "For loving him. For bringing him into my life."

"Just be happy, Buffy. That's all I ever wanted for you," Angel said. He gave her a wry smile. "Although I never would have guessed that bleached idiot would be the one to make you happy."

"Since when has my life ever been normal?" Buffy said. With that, she went inside the bed chamber and shut the door behind her.

And was immediately attacked by a half-naked vampire.

"Spi-" was all Buffy managed to squeak in surprise before she was involved in a highly volatile kiss. She was slammed back up against the closed door, her head banging against the worn wood. Her hands clamped onto Spike's shoulders, her fingernails digging into his bare skin, as she was swept away by the furious passion of his kiss.

*****

Angel knocked on the door in front of him, then opened it and stuck his head inside. "Willow?"

"Come in, Angel," Willow said from behind the privacy screen. "I'll be a few more minutes. Buffy hogged the bath and then I had to wait for the maid to empty the tub and bring up fresh water..."

Angel smiled as he shut the bed chamber door behind him. He began to undress right there, pulling off the silk shirt he'd found in one of the wardrobe closets and removing his boots and hose.

"...And did you see what she was wearing?" Willow continued speaking without pause. "I tried to tell her that it was a slip, but then she just laughed and told me it didn't matter because she wouldn't be wearing it for long. Sheesh! Like I want to know about her sordid affairs with Spike. He's...he's...he's Spike!"

Dressed in only a pair of brown satin breeches, Angel headed around the privacy screen to where his redheaded siren was bathing. "I couldn't have summed it up better myself," he commented.

"Angel!" Willow exclaimed when she saw the dark-haired vampire. She pulled her knees up towards her bare chest and sunk further into the cooling water in the large washtub. "I'm bathing. Go away."

"Not a chance, my sexy little water nymph," Angel said, walking around the tub until he was behind her. He dropped down to his knees and slid his hands onto her shoulders, lightly massaging them. "Buffy told me you needed someone to help you wash your back."

"Oh really?" Willow said in a higher than normal voice.

"Mm-hmm." Angel bent his head and brushed a soft kiss on her shoulder. Then, he slowly slid his hands forward and down the front of her slick body. "So, do you?"

"Do I what?" she asked breathlessly

"Do you need someone to help you wash your back?"

Willow inhaled sharply. "That's not my back," she gasped.

"Oops," Angel said rakishly. He moved one of his large hands further down her body under the water. "I was never any good at anatomy."

"I bet...oh!...you got...mmm...straight A'sssss...oh goddess that feels good..."

"Straight A's in what?" he asked.

"S-s-s-s-sex education."

*****

They didn't even make it to the bed. Buffy and Spike rolled together on the floor in a tangle of limbs -- clawing, scratching, bruising, biting. The slip Buffy'd been wearing had been ripped from her body; Spike's breeches had been torn in two. Anywhere there was bare skin they touched or kissed or licked or nipped.

Moans of excitement mixed with growls of desire echoed against the stone walls in the lavish bed chamber. The lantern on the single table in the room cast a flickering light over their sweat-slicked bodies. Outside the shuttered window, the wind howled, sounding like a woman's scream of ecstacy.

Spike pinned Buffy down to the rough, woven rug on the floor. His eyes flickered back and forth from blue to gold as he loomed over her, his lips drawn back ferally. "I'm going to take you, Slayer," he snarled. "I'm going to take you how I've always wanted to but couldn't because of this soddin' chip in my brain."

"Please," Buffy hissed.

Spike let out a roar of triumph before he smashed his lips to hers. His tongue plunged inside her mouth, ravaging her with a kiss. His fingernails cut into the skin around her wrists as he tightened his hold on her. His fangs descended as he let go of his control and the sharp points cut at her lips and tongue, the sweet taste of her blood driving him wild.

Buffy cried out in dismay when Spike tore his mouth away from hers. Her entire body was like a live wire, tingling with electricity that ran under her skin that was making her insane with want. The rapacious gleam in Spike's golden eyes made her feel like she was going to be his first meal after years of starvation.

Their loving was wild and vicious and primal, cumulating with Spike burying his fangs in the nape of Buffy's neck as they both flew over into oblivion. Afterwards, the two collapsed to their sides on the floor. Spike somehow managed to curl himself around Buffy, pulling his knees up under her thighs, his arm sliding down over the womanly curve of her lower abdomen. He removed his fangs from her and lapped at the twin puncture marks, soothing the already almost fully healed wounds with his tongue.

Buffy's non-beating heart expanded with happiness and contentment when she heard her lover start to purr.

*****

Angel slowly lowered Willow onto the bed, his dark eyes twin pools of melted chocolate. Willow's breath caught at the intensity behind his gaze, her heart pounding an excited rhythm beneath her breast. She watched him as he removed his satin breeches, drinking in the strong planes of his hard body, her face coloring slightly.

When he was fully unclothed, she held out her hand to him, inviting him into the bed with her. Angel lightly clasped her hand with his and accepted the invitation, climbing up onto the soft mattress beside her. His mouth captured hers in a gentle kiss, their fingers intertwining as their tongues did the same.

Angel purred in contentment in the back of his throat as Willow's other hand came up to weave into the back of his hair. He angled his head and deepened the kiss, allowing his desire for her to surface. The soft sigh of happiness and pleasure she made was music to his heart.

Smooth and gentle, their loving lasted for a long time. Eventually, they both slid into ecstacy together, a waterfall of sensations blinding the lovers to everything except each other.

Soon afterwards, Angel collapsed down upon her as the strength went out of his arms. Willow moved her hands over the back of his hair as she held him pressed to her. Her warm lips brushed one side of his neck and shoulder as he tried to catch the breath he didn't need.

Finally, he raised his head and met her eyes once more. "I love you, Willow," he declared softly.

Willow's mouth turned up in a tender smile. "I love you, too, Angel. No doubt about that."

Angel chuckled, placed a brief kiss on her lips, then moved off of her. He maneuvered them both so her head was pillowed on his chest, his arm wrapped around her smaller form, and they both slipped off to dreamland accompanied by the dark-haired vampire's quiet purr.



Part Twenty-four





"Can you tie it any tighter, Will?" Buffy said sarcastically as the redhead cinched her dress.

"Oh shush," Willow scolded. "Right now, you don't even breathe...which is still very odd."

"Tell me about it," Buffy said. "I'm not a vampire. I'm not a zombie. I'm not a possessed corpse. I'm just a dead Buffy...with really, really fast healing."

"Well, tomorrow we'll go see Ellie and find out what the exact ensorcellment was," Willow said. "Then we'll figure out a way to bring you back to life."

"What if I don't want to be alive again?"

The redhead gasped and stared at the back of Buffy's head in shock. "What do you mean you don't want to be alive again?"

Buffy shrugged and turned to face her friend. "It's just that, you know, Spike's a vampire and he's very...passionate."

Understanding dawned on Willow. "And with that thing in his head, he can't be 'passionate' with you without serious ouch happening, right?"

"Exactly," Buffy said. "Plus there's that whole he's going to live forever and I was living on a long-expired Slayer's license hoping not to get picked up by the death cops."

"But we don't know what's going to happen when we get back home," Willow pointed out. "You might be alive again and-and Angel's soul mind not be permanent-"

"And we might not find a way home at all," Buffy interrupted.

"That's true," Willow said somewhat sadly.

Buffy shook her head and sighed. "Let's not talk about this anymore. We have a party to go to and I'm hog-tied into this dress, and I'm not going to suffer wearing this without getting some pretty serious compliments."

She smoothed her hand down the front of the butter yellow dress she was wearing. The vee-neckline plunged daringly to just beneath her breasts, a thin piece of sheer white lace sewed to either side of the vee. The dress was off-the-shoulder, with long sleeves that ended in points over the backs of her hands. It was cinched at the waist, and the full skirt went down to the floor, covering her soft boots she'd insisted on wearing "just in case of emergency slayage."

Willow was adorned similarly in pale blue. The heart-shaped neckline was emphasized by a single teardrop sapphire she'd found in a small drawer in one of the wardrobe closets. An intricate pattern of knot-work ran up the back of the bodice, molding the material to her form. The skirt was also floor-length, flaring out in the back slightly like a train. Her feet were encased in simple, pale blue slippers that matched the dress.

"I'm ready when you are," Willow told Buffy.

"Just let me run a final brush through my hair and we're gone," Buffy said. "I can't wait to see the guys' reaction."

Willow shared a purely feminine smile with her friend. "I can't wait, either."

*****

"I feel ridiculous."

"You look ridiculous."

"Oh, thank you so bloody much, mate," Spike said sarcastically.

Angel smirked at his Childe, then rolled his eyes as Spike began fussing with the silk cravat at his throat. "Will you cut that out," the dark-haired vampire sighed, brushing the younger man's hands away to readjust the knot.

"I don't see why I have to wear it," Spike grumbled, tilting his chin up to give Angel better access.

"Because we're going to a party in our honor and I won't have any Childe of mine looking like he just escaped from the zoo," Angel said patiently.

"I never liked getting dressed up like a soddin' toff," Spike continued to complain.

"But you did because I told you to, and I'm telling you to now," Angel said. He lightly patted the cravat and took a step back. "There. You're gorgeous."

"Bugger off."

Angel chuckled as Spike ran his hand through his still-unbound, longish hair. It brushed over the shoulders of the younger vampire's black waistcoat, the white-blond hue contrasting greatly. Two simple gold button-ties held the dress coat together over a bright white, three-buttoned shirt currently done up to the top most button. The black cravat was tied around the high collar of the silk shirt and tucked in beneath the second button. The dress outfit was finished off with a pair of tight, black breeches, white hose and the scuffed boots Spike had worn the entire adventure "just in case the soddin' world goes buggery."

The dark-haired vampire himself was dressed in black as well, but instead of a white shirt, he wore one made of blood-red silk under a long coat that brushed the backs of his knees. The shirt was left untucked over the black breeches he wore with black hose and polished calf-high boots. A black cravat also adorned his neck and his hair was spiked up in its usual disarray from toweling it dry.

"Can we skip this thing, find our women and shag them into unconsciousness instead?" Spike asked hopefully.

"No."

"Bloody hell, you're a real pillock, you know that," Spike muttered.

"Yes," Angel said simply. "Now let's head downstairs. The ladies said they'd meet us at the gala."

"Fine," Spike sighed, trailing behind his Sire out the bed chamber door.

They followed the sounds of a multitude of voices to the main audience chamber on the first floor of the castle. They both paused in one of the doorways and surveyed the vast room crowded with men and women of various races all bedecked in their finest. Tapestries and overly large portraits lined the walls, tall candle holders with long, lit tapers stood scattered about the room. Above their heads, a low-hanging chandelier lit with hundreds of candles cast a pleasant glow on everyone.

In the far corner of the large room, musicians sat playing a lively tune. Couples danced together near them, a space on the stone floor cleared by courtesy rather than design. Along the northern wall, up on a raised dias, sat King Waldo and other members of his intimate court, talking animatedly with one another. The two vampires recognized Princess Kalika sitting up beside her father, and they both noticed she kept darting glances at a certain semi-dressed up youth.

"Aurin the Stableboy," Angel surmised.

"Undoubtably," Spike agreed. He ran his eyes over the people in the room and sighed heavily. "All this prey and I can't eat a single bloody one of 'em."

"I don't feel sorry for you," Angel said.

"I didn't expect you to, you big soulful poof," Spike said. "I was just making an observation."

"What would you do if you could feed from them?" Angel asked him suddenly. "What if you didn't have that implant any more, what would you do?"

Spike frowned at his Sire. "That's easy, I'd...," he trailed off, the furrow between his brows becoming more pronounced. He pulled at the cravat and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. "You know, I don't know what I'd do. I've had this thing so long now, everything in my unlife has changed. Plus, there's the Slayer. If I went off killing those she's supposed to be saving, I can kiss her sweet twat goodbye."

"Very poetic," Angel said dryly. Inside, however, he was smiling. His feelings of responsibility to his past love led him to make certain Spike would not hurt her, and his one worry had been assuaged.

Spike shrugged. "Shagging's more fun than killing anyway. Especially shaggin' that ripe piece of-"

Angel looked at Spike when the blond stopped speaking abruptly and he saw his Childe was standing there with his mouth hanging open, staring across the room. The older vampire turned and followed Spike's gaze, and his own mouth parted as he inhaled sharply at the sight of the two women who were making their way across the floor straight to them.

"You look-" Angel started, focusing solely on Willow.

"-Absolutely amazing," Spike finished, his eyes drinking in the sight of the Slayer in front of him.

"You don't look half-bad yourself," Willow complimented Angel.

"You left your hair down," Spike said to Buffy, his tone filled with awestruck warmth.

Buffy smiled at her lover, suppressing a giggle at his already disheveled appearance. She reached out and fingered a strand of his unfettered hair. "So did you."

"I think this is normally when Spike says: 'I think I'm going to heave,'" Angel joked. Willow giggled as did Buffy, while Spike scowled at his Sire.

"Should we go say hello to the Princess?" Willow asked.

"We should," Angel said. He glanced down at the beauty at his side. "Then I want to dance with you."

"Okay," Willow agreed. "But I have to warn you, I have a right foot and a left one."

Angel chuckled and offered the redhead his arm. "M'Lady."

"Thank you, kind sir," Willow said, curtseying before accepting his arm.

"I guess we'd best follow them," Buffy said to Spike.

"We could just skip the soddin' party and go back to the room," Spike suggested hopefully.

"Huh-uh, loverboy," Buffy said. "It took forever to get strapped into this dress. I'm going to wear it more than the five minutes it took to get down here and see you."

"Bugger," he sighed morosely. Buffy rolled her eyes, looped her arm through his and led them towards the dias.

"Ah, good evening, good evening!" King Waldo greeted the four friends jovially. He motioned for them to approach. "Please, join us."

"How are you this evening?" Angel asked the King politely.

"I am wonderful," the King replied. "I have my daughter back, we're having a celebration and the musicians are actually in tune this night!"

Spike groaned plaintively, wishing he could make his escape, and Buffy stepped on his foot. "Behave," she whispered to him.

"Your dress is beautiful, Princess," Willow told Princess Kalika, smiling at the young woman who obviously wanted to be elsewhere.

"As is yours," the Princess said.

"Well, let us dispense with propriety first, then we can get on with the celebration," King Waldo said. He rose from his seat in the center of the long, wooden table and rapped his goblet with a knife. It took several moments for the musicians to stop playing and the revelers to quiet down.

The King cleared his throat and began to speak, his voice commanding the room, showing what a powerful leader he really was despite his jolly demeanor. "Family and friends, it is my great pleasure to have you all gather here this fine summer's eve to celebrate the return of my daughter," he said, gesturing to the Princess.

Princess Kalika stood and curtseyed to the polite applause. The King held up his hand after a moment and the guests quieted down. "And now, it is my honor to present the four brave souls who have risked life and limb to save my daughter, who had been kidnapped from this very palace three fortnights ago," the King said. He motioned for the four friends to step forward. "Lady Willow, Lady Buffy, Sir Angel and Sir Spike, you have my utmost gratitude and th-"

A flash of blinding white light lit up the room accompanied by a loud clap of thunder, cutting off the King mid-speech. Buffy and Spike fell into fighting stances, their eyes searching for danger. The four friends were startled when a booming, familiar voice filled the room.

"You may have won this round, peasants," Dalagar the Cold said ominously. "But I shall have my revenge!"

The Duke's cackling laughter rolled through the room, causing party guests to shiver in fear. It stopped abruptly with a secondary clap of thunder that shook the dinnerware on the tables.

Willow shook her head and looked at her friends. "If that isn't an advertisement for the sequel, I don't know what is," she said, her voice barely carrying to her friends over the excited and frightened murmurs of the guests. Buffy and Spike relaxed their stances, moving closer to the others in order to hear better.

"Do me a favor?" Angel said to her. "Don't be the person who tests it."

"I prom-"

Willow was cut off in mid-word when she, Angel, Buffy and Spike vanished off the dais.



Epilogue



"Sweetheart, I love that you're on top of me, but your knee is crushing my knackers."

"Sorry," Buffy apologized, moving off of the prone vampire. She rose to her feet, brushed off her butter yellow dress, then gaped when she recognized the carpeting on the floor. She quickly looked around the familiar surroundings and laughed happily. "We're home!"

Spike glanced left and right as he sat up, recognizing the furnishings, beige walls and duster on the hook near the door. "That we are, pet."

The phone rang. "That must be Willow and Angel," Buffy said, lifting her skirt and hurrying into the kitchen. She picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"You're home!" Willow exclaimed on the other end of the line.

"You betcha," Buffy said. "Spike and I are both here, still wearing our dress clothes."

"Us, too," Willow said.

"I'd better call my Mom and Giles and let them know we're okay," Buffy told Willow.

"Okay, Buffy," Willow said. "Talk to you later."

"Bye." Buffy hung up the phone and peeked her head out of the kitchen. Spike was sitting on the couch, eyeing the laptop that he'd moved to the coffee table as if it were a cobra. "Willow and Angel are back, too."

"That's good, luv," Spike said. He glanced up at her. "Hurry up and call your mum. I want to get you out of that dress and slip you onto something much more comfortable."

"Funny." Buffy wrinkled her nose at him, then returned to the phone. She quickly dialed her Mom's house.

"Hello?" Joyce said from the other end of the line, answering on the third ring.

"Hi, Mom," Buffy said.

"Oh, hi, honey," Joyce said. "I was hoping you'd call. I wondered if you were going to be home for dinner tonight."

"Home for dinner?" Buffy asked in confusion.

"Yes," Joyce said. "I was debating either making real food or just ordering a pizza."

"Um, this is going to sound weird, but how long have I been gone?" Buffy said into the receiver.

"I don't know, dear," Joyce said. "You'd already left by the time I got home from work."

Buffy's mouth opened and closed a few times as her mind processed what that meant. "When was the last time we ate together?" she finally asked.

"It was just this morning," Joyce replied. "Buffy, are you okay? You sound a bit perplexed."

"No, Mom, I'm fine," Buffy said. "Um, go ahead and order your pizza. I'm staying at Spike's tonight."

"Sounds delicious to me," Joyce said. "Have a good night, honey. Stay safe."

"I will," Buffy said. "Bye."

"Well?" Spike asked. He had moved to the kitchen doorway and was leaning casually against the doorjamb. "Did you get the guards called off?"

"Spike, it's the same day that we vanished into the game," Buffy told him in an amazed voice. "No time has passed at all."

Spike stared at her in shock and confusion. "But how can that be? We were gone for six weeks!"

"I have no idea," Buffy replied. "It's like what happened to us never really happened."

"Does this mean you're alive again?"

Buffy focused on Spike at the odd tone in his voice. He was looking right at her, his face blank, but she could see both hope and fear reflected in his blue eyes. She knew immediately that his feelings were opposite of what anyone else's would be -- he hoped that she wasn't and feared that she was again.

She held out her hand to him and pulled him close when he accepted it. Gently, she slid her hand into his unbound hair and guided his head down to her breast. His ear was pressed against the lace material covering her skin and she lightly ran her fingers through the soft strands of his hair as she waited for the verdict.

Spike wrapped his arms around Buffy's waist and closed his eyes as emotions churned through him. When he was certain he wasn't going to cry, he lifted his head from her breast and met her eyes. "I don't hear a soddin' thing, Slayer," he said with happiness.

He bent his head and kissed her hard on the lips, then hoisted her up in his arms with a squeal from Buffy.

"Spike! What are you doing?!" Buffy exclaimed.

"I'm taking you into the bedroom to try and shag you back to life so I can shag you to death again," Spike replied, carrying her out of the kitchen back towards his bedroom. "Then sometime next week when we get out of bed, we're moving you in here with me."

"Who said I was going to move in with you?" Buffy said.

"I said," Spike answered.

"You're not the boss of me," Buffy told him.

"You're mine, Slayer, and if I want you here, here you'll bloody well be."

"I'm not going to be told what to do by a cro-magnum vampire."

"Want Slayer. Have Slayer. Shag Slayer."

"You're pathetic."

"And yet, you still love me."

"Okay, make that 'I'm pathetic.'"

"You won't get any disagreements on this end, luv."

"Spike? Shut up and kiss me."

*****

Willow slowly brushed herself over Angel's equally bare chest as she moved forward over him. He licked her salty skin, causing her to gasp and freeze for a moment. Then, she took a deep, shuddering breath and continued what she was doing.

The manacle snapped shut around Angel's second wrist.

"Now," she said, sliding back down his body. "Let's find out if your soul is permanent or not."

And, while Willow had Angel tied down, she tested the permanence spell a second time, just to be doubly certain.

And then a third time, because it was fun.

*****

Welcome to Elaisias, a land of enchantment and adventure, magick and violence. Create a character and embark on an interactive quest to rescue the Princess from the evil clutches of the Duke of Tarsahk. Pit your strength and mind against Tower of Seven Woes and battle creatures both mystical and non in this online, multi-player game.

So, gather your friends and venture into a world where fantasy and reality collide....



End