When Darkness Falls
By L.A. Ward and Sanguine
Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They're going to destroy our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town
Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours we linger
Bodies confused, memories misused
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone
Jim Morrison, The Doors
Chapter Four: Strange Days
Spike raked his hand through his hair.
=Bloody hell!= He handed Simon a twenty for his bar tab and walked into
the night, not thinking about where he was going, just knowing he had to
In nineteen-seventy-seven Spike and Dru
had been in Paris drinking champagne and hippies over Jim Morrison’s grave.
But something had worried his wicked, ripe plum. With her hand on his crotch
and her lips at his ear, Dru had sung, "Strange days have found us. Strange
days have tracked us down."
Spike had maneuvered her against a gravestone
and hitched up her skirt. "I know the lyrics, love."
But when their graveyard games were over,
Dru had had refused to be deterred. She had pleaded to leave Paris. "The
moon tells us to go. Can’t you hear it whispering?"
Of course he hadn’t, but what his dark
princess had wanted, his dark princess had got. They had hopped the ferry
"What strange thing are you?" She had asked
as they stood on the moonlit deck.
"I’m not a stranger."
"Not stranger but different." Dru had touched
his hair. "It goes all white."
Spike had laughed. "I can’t go gray, love.
No more than you."
Dru’s gaze had narrowed as she stepped
away. "London is calling, and you’ll be different there."
Looking back from the twenty-first century,
Spike could see that Dru had been right. A shag over a dead poet’s grave
in Pere-Lachaise hadn’t been the only thing Jim Morrison had inspired.
In those days Spike had been stuck in his Lizard King phase. His hair had
been longer and still sporting its natural shade. His pants had been leather
and slung low across his hips while his shirts had been loose and often
unbuttoned. However, when he had reached London, things had changed.
Dru had disappeared. That had often been
her way. The first time Dru had done it had been back in 1881, and Spike
had been frantic to find her, worried that she’d been caught in the sun.
Angelus had laughed at Spike’s concern, saying his crazy little girl would
be back when she wanted to come. Spike had eyed the son-of-a-bitch suspiciously,
causing Angelus to backhand him across the jaw.
By the 1970s Spike had grown used to Dru
wandering away and knew that all he could do was wait. Not wanting to stray
far from the place he had seen her last, Spike had used the money he’d
taken from the banker he’d killed on the train to rent a flat in Balham.
The same flat he was walking to now, although these days he was paying
the rent in a slightly different way. He still had a few thousand dollars
left from agreeing to harbor demon eggs in Sunnydale, and a dead Suvolte
wasn’t about to ask for a refund.
Spike stared at the building where—for
lack of a better word—he ‘lived.’ It was identical to every other building
on the block, all weathered red brick and unwashed windows. Nothing distinguished
it from its neighbors except its address. Everything was in an equal state
Spike pushed open the front door and toed
aside a small mouse who scurried into a crack in the wall. He climbed the
stairs by the light of a single, naked bulb to unlock the door to the upstairs
flat. Small, dark, and dilapidated, it wasn’t a place that inspired thoughts
of hominess or comfort. It was just a hole to hide in.
There were only two rooms other than the
bath. The first held a broken down chair and tele with a kitchette situated
along the rear wall. The other had a mattress sagging on an iron bed frame
and blackout blinds. Spike had cleaned the place well enough. It was marginally
less filthy than it had been before, but the floor remained stained, the
wall plaster still crumbled, and when Spike laid down he couldn’t help
counting the water marks on the ceiling. There were seventeen. The night
he had first met Emma, there had been only ten.
He’d been different then--more pissed and
less likely to consider walking out to face the sun--and the floor had
trembled with an erratic bass beat which drowned out his eight-track copy
of Morrison Hotel by The Doors. Spike had considered ignoring it for all
of three seconds before his quicksilver temper demanded he go downstairs
to rip out someone’s lungs.
He had stormed out the door intent on causing
carnage and mayhem only to find Emma sitting at the base of the steps.
She’d been a kid of fifteen or sixteen—the same age as Bit was now—and
she had looked at him with tears in her eyes.
Bugger it all to hell, he’d always been
a sucker for tears. If hers had been the loud, blubbery kind, he would
have killed her without a thought. But Emma had sat silent with her chin
up and tears filling her eyes, and Spike had respected her for that. His
murderous rage had faded, giving him time to notice the bruise on her cheek.
It had been as much green as purple and black. Someone had hit her.
The door to the downstairs flat had opened
revealing a boy not much older than Emma.
"Emma!" The boy had come out into the hall
and knelt in front of her as he gently touched her bruise.
"It’s alright, Pete," Emma had protested.
"’S not alright. That bastard Ned Dix did
this to you, didn’t he? I’ll kill him. Touchin’ my sister like that. I’ll
kill him. "
=Appropriate reaction,= Spike had thought.
Peter had stared at Spike. "Who’re you?"
Emma had pulled herself to her feet. "He’s
the one livin’ upstairs always listening to The Doors."
Pete had rolled his eyes, looking young
and petulant and not nearly as intimidating as his raggedly cut hair, tattooed
knuckles, and black leather jacket implied. "That stuff."
Spike had bristled. "Better than that screeching
you call music."
"’S not the point." He helped Emma inside
the flat, then looked back at Spike. "Well, are you comin’ in then?"
A dangerous invitation to issue to a vampire,
especially dangerous if the vampire had been plotting your death only moments
before. But somehow, that night Spike hadn’t been in the mood for killing
and had enjoyed the novelty of being invited inside. He’d told himself
it wasn’t because he was lonely. It wasn’t because Dru had been gone for
a fortnight, Darla for two and a half decades, and Angelus for nearly a
century. It wasn’t because he was desperate to talk to someone, and be
spoken to in return. He wasn’t lonely. It was just boredom.
As the weeks passed Spike had become a
regular visitor to the downstairs flat. He’d met Emma and Peter’s father
who had once worked for The Underground but who had lost his job and lived
on the dole. He’d accompanied Emma and Pete to concerts by the Sex Pistols
even when they had performed under such names as Tax Exiles and Acne Ramble.
The three of them had seen the great Roundhouse
triple bill of the Ramones, Talking Heads, and The Saints. Pete and Emma
had even tried to make it onto the infamous boat party on the Thames. Spike
hadn’t attempted—daylight issues he hadn’t wanted to explain—but it hadn’t
mattered anyhow. The kids had never made it onto the boat, and Spike had
met them later that night at the side door of the Earls Court Arena where
they had slipped in to see Queen live.
Spike had never told Emma and Pete what
he was, and somehow he had managed to restrain his ways to keep them from
finding out. Oh, he snacked often enough, making meals of everything from
tourists to punks, but always out of sight of his young friends.
Then one night Spike had returned to his
Balham flat to discover Drusilla had come home. He had sensed her the moment
he had entered the building, or at least when he had heard hearts pounding
with a rapid flutter and smelled the scents of sweat and fear.
The door to the downstairs flat had stood
ajar. A streak of yellow-white light had striped the darkened hallway as
Spike laid his hand against the painted wood door. He had silently opened
it to find a familiar sight—pain and death.
Emma’s father had lain in a sloppy sprawl
across the floor, his eyes open but with a glassy stare. Dead, of course.
What else would he have been with that gash in his throat?
Spike had heard a squeaking, terrified
sound and lifted his gaze to meet Pete’s pleading stare. Drusilla had held
the boy in her clutches as she grinned in gameface at Spike. "I followed
the biscuit crumbs home."
Emma had cried, "Spike!" She had probably
believed he would save her, but Spike had casually crossed his arms and
leaned against the frame of the door. He had watched Dru murder Pete.
"No!" Emma had screamed, her sobs becoming
gut wrenching and loud. There had been no stoic dignity in her then, just
grief and fear as she sensed the exact moment her brother died. "No. .
." she whimpered before something caught her eye. "Ned?"
Spike had turned to find Emma’s erstwhile
abusive boyfriend standing behind him, an expression of horror etched on
the teen’s face. Spike hadn’t thought about it. He hadn’t needed to. Instinct
had kicked in and, shifting into gameface, he had reached out and grabbed
the boy around the neck, twisting it with brutal strength until the boy’s
spine snapped and his lifeless husk dropped to the floor. Stepping over
the corpse, Spike had walked across the room, taking Dru’s hand and lifting
it to his lips.
"Did you miss me?" Dru had asked.
"Always, love." He had slipped his hand
around her waist. "Come with me and I’ll show you how."
Dru had held back, looking over her shoulder
at Emma. "But the biscuit tin is still half full."
Spike had nuzzled Dru’s neck, giving soft
kisses before nibbling her ear. "I’m hungry, pet, and not for cookies."
"Mmmm, my tummy *is* full. . ."
And he had led his dark princess from the
room saying, "I think it’s time I change my look, pet. What would you think
if I got a haircut, something new?"
Spike had never looked back. Not once.
Not until tonight. Now, Spike sat up on his sagging bed, and his hand shook
as he reached for a half empty pack of cigarettes. =Bloody hell. I *am*
a monster.= He’d said it before. He'd known it was true, but he had never
understood the enormity of that confession.
Spike stood and anxiously paced the room.
Emma and Pete had trusted him. They had thought he was their friend, and
he had betrayed them.
"Our girl has issues," the barfly had said
=And why shouldn’t she? She saw her entire
family murdered in front of her eyes. God.=
Spike felt sick. He’d done that. It had
been him. Angel had always liked to claim that he and Angelus were two
different beings, but Spike didn’t see that. He didn’t feel that. It was
him. He’d just never cared before now.
Spike stubbed out his cigarette. What was
he supposed to do? He had convinced himself that he was prepared for this.
When he’d sought out Lurky, he’d been so sure he knew what he was doing.
Buffy had demanded change, so he would bloody well show her change. He
just hadn’t known it would be so hard or that it would hurt so much. When
he looked at the last century from his new perspective—
Spike ran to the bathroom and vomited into
the toilet. There had only been pigs’ blood and beer in his stomach, but
there was even less there now. He laid his head against the cool porcelain
and wondered what in the hell he was doing. How had he ever arrived at
a plan as insanely stupid as this?
If he’d felt guilty for what had happened
in Sunnydale, he should have walked out to face the sun. But, no, he’d
gone off on some half-cocked plan, determined to prove Buffy wrong, to
fix his mistakes, to do. . . *something.*
He’d done ‘something’ all right. He’d gone
and gotten himself royally fucked.
Spike now had the conscience of that oversensitive,
idealistic fool Dru had killed in an alley. A century’s worth of sins now
plagued his innocent old soul. What was he supposed to do with that? What
was he supposed to do with any of it? He had committed more murders and
atrocities than he could count, and he couldn’t change a thing. He couldn’t
take it back. He couldn’t fix anything. Nothing could be made right. How
could he possibly go on like this? Was there a reason to go on at all?
He’d told Willow that death was the easy
way out, that facing yourself was the real challenge. =And you were right,
you bloody arrogant fool!= But how was he supposed to pull it off? How
was he supposed to find his way out of this pit he had dug himself into?
=Pull yourself together, mate. You’re barely
two steps away from becoming the poof, and you wouldn’t want that, now
would you?= Brooding didn’t accomplish a damn thing. It was paralyzing
and made it all too easy to become weak and ineffectual.
=So don’t be a wanker. Get up. Get your
arse in gear.=
Spike pulled himself to his feet and splashed
water on his face.
He had to do something. He couldn’t sit
still. He could never sit still. . .or hide. He’d go back and face Emma.
He’d apologize. Yeah, he knew it wouldn’t do a bit of good. Saying ‘I’m
sorry’ didn’t change a thing. She would only hate him, and she had every
reason to. But it was the only thing he could offer. He could stand and
face her anger and hate. Who knows, maybe it would help her in some small
Spike looked up and laughed. "Who do you
think you are to think you can help?" The mirror reflected everything in
the room but him. "That’s what I thought."
The next night he paced for a half hour
before working up the courage to return to the pub. When he walked through
the door Simon elbowed Tony.
"Just the bloke I was lookin’ for." Simon
pushed away from the bar. "What would you say to a ticket to the show."
Spike frowned. "Show?"
"You’ve got to be kiddin’ me! The show.
Carling Live. The Sex Pistols’ jubilee."
Not believing what he was hearing, Spike
shook his head. "Twenty-five years of mocking the old bird, and now they’re
cashing in on her jubilee?"
Tony sipped his lager. "It’s called selling
Spike tried to wrap his mind this new bit
of information. "Sid must be rolling in his grave."
"That’s the truth. All the real ones are
gone." Simon raised his glass. "To Sid."
Tony raised his glass as well. "To Dee
Dee and Joey Ramone."
Simon wiped a tear from his eye. "And our
That caught Spike’s attention. "What?"
Spike glanced from Simon to Tony. "What are you saying?"
Simon sat down. "I’m sorry, mate. It’s
the extra ticket. It was Emma’s. She—"
Tony bowed his head. "Kicked it last night.
It was always gonna get her sooner or later."
"It? What it?" Spike felt like the floor
had fallen from underneath him.
"You noticed the tracks didn’t you? On
Spike’s brows furrowed and there was a
sinking feeling in his gut. "Heroin?" She was an addict. It was obvious
Simon stared intently into his lager. "She
tried getting off the stuff once or twice. Never worked. Like I told you—issues."
"Tragic history," Tony explained.
"Don’t know how she lived with it all.
She was a strong person, but I guess she’d had enough."
"Or her body had."
=Or she saw me again,= Spike realized.
=The sight of me sent her off for a hit—the *last* one. I killed her. Wasn’t
even trying, and I killed her. =
Buffy walked through the graveyard in sunlight.
How weird was that? Most of the time it was the graveyard shift for her
-- ha-ha -- and for the last few days it had been the freaky fog. Now,
the sky was clear and blue and it looked like Southern California again.
She turned left and started down a familiar
path where she ran into a floppy-eared demon carrying a grocery bag.
"Slayer!" Clem, as always, managed to look
both surprised and pleased. "Here for a visit? I just bought blue corn
tortilla chips and peach salsa. Yum!"
"I think you’ve been hanging out with Dawn
The puppy-like demon’s happy face fell.
"But. . .I. . .If you think I shouldn't see her—"
Buffy rushed to say, "Relax. I’m kidding.
Honest. Dawnie lives on junk food too."
"Oh." Slowly his smile and enthusiasm returned.
"Oh! That’s different then. It’s just, you know, you Slayer, me demon.
I can be a bit jumpy sometimes. Wanna be on your good side, not tick you
"I didn’t mean to scare you."
Shifting his brown paper bag, Clem asked,
"What can I do for you? If you’re looking for—"
=No, don’t go there. Don’t mention *him.*=
"I just wanted to check how things were around here. The fog kind of made
"The fog? Yeah, that was weird. Haven’t
seen anything like that since ninety-four."
That surprised her. "It’s happened before?"
The demon nodded. "Anything come from it?" Buffy asked.
"Freaky. Monstery. Apocalypsy?"
"Not that I can think of."
"Well, that’s good." They stared at each
other and the silence stretched. It was getting kind of awkward. "That’s
good. I guess I’ll go." She turned to leave.
The fact that Clem used her name made Buffy
stop and become a nervous. Using her name meant what he was about to say
Clem tugged nervously at his ear. "I got
an e-mail from him today."
"You’ve got an e-mail account?"
"I’ve got DSL and an IMac and—" Clem took
a deep breath and blurted out "—Spike said he wasn’t coming back."
"He always comes back." Buffy knew she
sounded like a bewildered little girl. She hated that sound. She attempted
a more authoritative tone. "He’ll be back."
"I hope you’re right, Slayer." Clem
looked down at his feet. "He could be good company, you know. I mean, when
he wasn’t pissed or anything, he could be good company. I just. . .I miss
him, and I thought maybe you. . ."
What could she say? That she missed Spike
too? She *so* could not admit to missing Spike. It was wrong and squicky
and for years she’d been insisting he go away. How hypocritical would it
be to now admit she kind of missed him? "Don’t worry about it," Buffy said
crisply. "He’ll be back. He *always* comes back. He’s annoying that way.
Just be glad we got rid of the fog."
Inside the tomb the last of the mist faded
away, revealing the face and form of a man. He was handsome, with aquiline
features and fair hair, and his eyes were a clear, pale blue. He smiled
as he moved to sit and then to stand. He looked at his hands and arms,
admiring them. He touched his face with a degree of amazement, then he
moved toward the door. He paused at the threshold, looking uncertain about
crossing it, but he took a deep breath stepped into the sunlight.
Sunshine bathed his face and shoulders
as he spread his arms wide, embracing the light. He threw back his head
Dawn entered the house. It was big, silent
and empty. "Buffy?"
No answer meant that Buffy wasn’t home.
She would be back soon, though. Buffy had been all super-attentive lately.
It was probably an overreaction for eight months of pretending Dawn almost
didn’t exist. It could also be because just about everyone else in their
lives was gone.
Friend-wise they were pretty much down
to Xander, and Xander had turned into the king of the eternally complaining
bad mood. He complained about talking to Anya. He complained about not
talking to Anya. He complained about not enough work then about too much.
He complained about the X-Files killing off the Lone Gunmen, the new timeslot
for Farscape, and that the Yoda fight was the only decent thing in the
new Star Wars. If he complained much more, Dawn was thinking about smacking
She walked into the kitchen, opened the
refrigerator door, and stared at the contents. Not finding anything appealing,
she opened the freezer. Nothing there either--back to the refrigerator.
Maybe something new had appeared in the last three seconds. No luck. Conceding
defeat, Dawn pulled a glass out of the cabinet and turned on the faucet.
Liquid as red as blood flowed from the
tap, and through the window Dawn saw her sister latch the rear gate. "Buffy!"
Continued in Chapter Five: What You Can't Take Back