Rating: PG 13
Spoilers: Post-"Storyteller". Period. No spoilers!
Summary: Season 5 Joyce returns to the Season 7 Scoobies.
Previous parts: http://www.the-sandlot.com/fic.php?mode=fic&fic_id=923
Feedback: You beta, you beta, you bet!
Disclaimers: All Joss, all ME, all the time...
A/N: To Walt Whitman, who gives us the body and soul connection in words even a high school student can understand.
And all hail the team! Chris, Colleen, Cindy, Chen, Kelly and Mezz.
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul."
He was sitting on the edge of his desk, reading aloud from Whitman's writings - low, sensual voice caressing every syllable. Reading straight-forward, powerful words that made her all hot inside. His weight was on one hip, head cocked to the other side. His accent was firmly British, but he wasn't at all what all those old movies led you to expect.
"Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves;
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?"
She wondered if he even noticed that her nails were freshly done and that she was wearing glossy lipstick that matched.
"The love of the Body of man or woman balks account - the body itself balks account;
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect."
He was so mature. Even if he did look young. In fact, none of the boys in her class would ever be like him, even when they were older. She let the sound of his voice melt into the background of her thoughts and watched his lips move.
"Within there runs blood,
The same old blood!
The same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart-there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations..."
Not the least bit stodgy. He was vibrant, so sure of himself and who he was. What he was about. That must be wonderful. To know.
"...You would wish long and long to be with him - you would wish to sit by him in the boat, that you and he might touch each other...."
Willow leaned over. "Mmmm. Earthy *and* romantic," she said, a wicked sparkle in her eyes.
Coloring slightly, Buffy looked down sightlessly at the book in front of her. "Um, yeah."
Her teacher looked up and smiled, making certain they were all listening. He needn't have bothered. No one ever acted out in his class. The first attempt by any of the boys was squashed with a raised eyebrow and a sarcastic comment that made veiled references to the offender's obvious feelings of inadequacy in his masculinity.
No girl ever acted out at all. Like her, they were enrapt. The worst he had to deal with were the major pleas for private explanations and help with out-of-class reading.
She herself wanted to fall... into his embracing voice, his intense blue eyes, his arms. To be wrapped up so tightly, she would be safe even if the world gave way under her.
"...To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment - what is this, then? I do not ask any more delight - I swim in it, as in a sea...."
Xander leaned forward and caught Buffy's attention with his own inimitable stage whisper. "Hey, is it hot in here, or is it just me?"
"...The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body, The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in and out..."
Her breath caught as his words flowed over her, around her, through her. She wondered how it would feel to have those words whispered in her ear. How it would tickle. How it would inflame.
"...The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees..."
She watched him carefully turn the page of the book. The gesture was soft, gentle, reverent. She imagined that that was exactly how his hands would touch her. Her body went hot with the path her thoughts were taking. Would anyone notice?
Would *he* notice?
"...The thin red jellies within you, or within me - the bones, and the marrow in the bones...
Buffy frowned, slightly disturbed. Blood as jelly? It niggled at her.
"The exquisite realization of health;
O I say, these are not the parts and poems of the Body only, but of the Soul,
O I say now these are the Soul!"
Buffy jumped as the door of the classroom slammed against the wall. All eyes flew to the door as the principal made his entrance. He was angry. Flushed.
Striding to the desk, he snatched the book from her teacher's hands. He glanced at the open page, winced, and looked around the room at the students. His eyes found Buffy's.
His head spun around to fix glassy eyes on her teacher.
"This is most unseemly, William! All this twaddle about the soul."
He threw the book in the trash.
"It is *not* a part of the established curriculum!"
Buffy's head came off the pillow with a start. She was tangled in her sheets. Which never happened. Attempting to steady her breathing, she wiped a hand across her head. Her hair was wet and sticking to her face.
Guiltily, she looked around, but the room was empty. She remembered that all the girls were either in the basement or downstairs. Except Kennedy, who, as her mom had told her, had 'volunteered' to stay in Willow's room until the rest of the beds were finished.
Looking at the clock, she heaved a sigh. Five a.m. But Sunday, and therefore, plenty of time for more sleep. If she possibly could after that roller-coaster of a dream. Freudian much?
She'd been sitting with Xander and Willow in class at the old high school.
English Lit. Walt Whitman. Spike as teacher. In black slacks and a blue shirt, open over a gray tee-shirt. Hair longer than usual, curly, brown tipped with gold.
She raised her head again and slammed it against the pillow at the thought that she'd actually noticed what he was wearing.
The scary part, though? Giles in the role of Principal Snyder. But with a British accent.
Buffy snorted. One crazy dream. And in Technicolor, too. Bizarro Land extraordinaire. As if Spike would view anything other than some Ramones lyric as poetry anyway...
Her old teacher Maggie Walsh would have had a field day with this. She stared at the ceiling. At least it hadn't been a slayer dream.
A shallow thought crept into her brain. Maybe she'd been a little more fascinated with post-Soul, insane-Spike hair than she'd realized.
He was signing copies of his book of prose when she arrived at the table.
The lines had been long. He was pleased that so many had turned out to meet him. These were people who had all bought his book. People who cared about his words. At one point, he had despaired of ever signing them all, but now the line was manageable. His hand cramped but it was all right. He owed this to them - each and every one of them.
Prose was a wonderful thing. You could express yourself without worrying about the meter. Much. Or finding rhyming words. They happened or they didn't. It was all one in prose.
Taking a second look at the girl, he realized how lovely she was. All sunkissed cheeks and nose with a glorious head of golden hair.
The effect was ruined by the condescending look on her face.
"This is for a friend," she said as she laid the book on the table and pushed it toward him.
He glanced down. It wasn't his book. His book was small, seventy pages at best. Instead, he was looking at a thick, moldering tome.
"Excuse me. This isn't my book."
She stared at him impatiently. "Of course it is. Read the title."
Helpless under her assault, he turned his gaze to the cover. It was marred. Impossible to make out.
With a disgusted noise, she flipped the cover of the book open and showed him the faded title page. His eyes widened as he read.
Spike looked up in confusion. "'A History of William the Bloody'?"
The girl smiled conspiratorially. "See? It's all about you. It even has a list of everyone you killed." She frowned. "That's the biggest section of the book, by the way. I understand there have been new editions since this one was published, but I thought this particular one would make a wonderful gift. My friend is older. Likes old books. This one is a classic."
"But I'm not this person anymore..." he protested.
She shrugged. "Maybe not. Doesn't make it go away, now does it?" Flipping her hair back, she folded her arms. "The line's not getting any shorter."
He looked behind her and saw that the line had grown. And no one was holding the small book of prose. They were all holding thick books in all different types of condition. There was even a paperback.
Spike woke from his restless sleep. He'd only dozed off for a moment, he thought shakily. Sitting up, he threw his legs over the side of the cot and put his head in his hands.
This was not going down as his favorite Buffy dream ever, that was for certain.
He seriously needed a cigarette.
"Don't you sleep?"
The question was delivered in a blunt, irritated tone of voice. Not the way to be talking to Buffy's mum, but dammit, he was pissed. Had fallen into a troubled sleep long before sunup, because he'd been trying not to disturb anyone, and had had that wretched dream. His nocturnal ramblings around the basement hadn't been noted, and so he could count on sleeping when he should. But now that he was in the 'living' part of the house, he noticed every creak of the old cot as he tossed around. He even felt odd about turning the pages of a book.
He winced. Best not think about books.
Or the tobacco situation. Never should have taken that back up, Big Bad or not.
Soon the sun would rise and the house would begin to stir. Spike hoped that at some point he'd simply pass out from exhaustion. God, he missed his crypt!
Joyce looked up at the frowning vampire. His hair was disheveled and he looked tightly wound. "Dawn was hogging the covers. Moving around a lot. I finally decided to get up - start the day."
Spike was concerned. "Bit's okay, though?"
Chuckling, Joyce nodded. "She's always been hard to sleep with. Even when she was little. Now that she's so tall - well, it's harder."
Sitting down on a stool, Spike cast around for subject matter. A discussion of dreams and their meaning was not on the menu.
"Anya come back last night?"
Joyce smiled. "Finally. With a suitcase full of clothes that are now in my bulging closet. She's sleeping on the floor in our room."
Something else to think about, he thought. Good! "As far from Harris as she can get, then," he commented.
The woman frowned. "I hadn't thought of it that way. But she didn't have much to say to him last night when she got in. What's going on with those two?"
"Joyce, if you manage to live another hundred years, you'll never catch up on all the goings on. I was away for six weeks. Missed two shootings and an apocalypse." He toyed with the cigarette pack in his pocket. "S'like 'Passions' around here."
"Buffy told me about Willow trying to destroy the world. I was sorry to hear about Tara. I thought she was a sweet, sweet girl." She leaned forward. "It's Rupert I don't understand."
He shrugged, unconcerned. "Can't help you there. The Watcher and I have an uneasy truce at best. At worst, it's open warfare. Was a bit different when Buffy was gone, but we were never mates. Got drunk with him once or twice, though." He smirked. "I think he takes umbrage at the whole undead, blood-drinking situation. That and the chip bein' out. Doesn't trust me." He nodded. "I understand that."
"Then, why does he let you patrol with Buffy alone? I asked Willow and she couldn't really give me an answer."
Spike got up. "Couldn't tell you." He indicated the porch. "Goin' out there for a bit. Then, to bed. Again." Holding up a cigarette, he nodded. "Won't go far."
Joyce looked at him disapprovingly.
"What?" he said in annoyance. "Not like it'll kill me."
"Just pick up the butts when you're done," she called after him.
Once again, Xander's right of place in the kitchen had been usurped.
Buffy's mother was making a chart. He smiled as she glanced upward and raked a self-conscious hand through his unruly hair.
"Early bird?" he asked.
"Ugh. No worms please. Just trying to get a head start on a routine around here."
Xander walked around and looked over her shoulder. "Not a bad idea. After all, you *do* have plenty of minions around here."
Puzzled, Joyce looked up and caught the glint of amusement in his warm eyes. "I have minions?"
He made a respectful bow. "A whole houseful... several houses-full, actually." Walking to the coffee pot, he poured a mug full. "Nice not to have to do early morning java duty. Thanks."
Returning to the chart, she bit her lip and worried at it for a moment, before answering. "You're welcome."
"How early do you think I can start downstairs?"
She looked at the clock. "Still a little early yet. It's 6 am."
"Yeah," he said in an embarrassed voice. "I slept in."
Her eyes flashed with laughter. "Working man, right?"
Xander's pride swelled at the idea of being called a 'man' by Buffy's mother. Circle of Life, right? Even Xander Harris could grow up. "Yep. But never on Sunday. Unless it's for you."
There was a knock on the dining room door. Spike opened one eye and stared across the room belligerently.
He was never going to get a bloody moment of sleep today! It was eight in the morning and the house was beginning to stir. Might as well get used to the fact and get the hell up.
Buffy. The last person he wanted to see right now.
She opened the door, slowly. As if she expected him to be lying around starkers in the dining room, he thought sarcastically.
"Hi." Her voice had a false brightness to it. She seemed nervous. "You up?"
He sighed. It was just a dream. No use taking it out on her. "Am now. What's goin' on?"
With a frown, she walked in and sat on a chair near the transplanted cot.
"Do you know who Walt Whitman is?"
Spike sat up, completely outraged. His eyes flashed in anger. "Do I know...? Christ, Buffy, what do you take me for? Some under-educated pillock?"
"Yes," he said slowly, trying to control his temper, "I know *exactly* who Walt Whitman is. American poet, though there were rumblings about him in some drawing rooms in London right before I met Dru. A lot of his work was about the physicality of the soul. He was a bloody damn more accessible than most of those namby-pamby poets everyone else was always natterin' about. Can even quote you a few lines."
"Oh." She looked at him wonderingly. "You can?"
"Willow gave me a book of his poetry once. There was one I really liked. Of course, I only read the one. I dreamed..."
"One?" Spike looked astonished. "Slayer, you never cease to amaze me. Was it this one?
"... Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth..."
He rolled through the passage, as her color went higher and higher. Finally, she fixed her eyes on her hands to avoid looking at him. He was beginning to enjoy this, in spite of his bad mood. Almost worth the 'wake up.'
"...These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of itself..."
He let his voice trail off into silence, watching her.
Finally, she gulped once and broke the quiet with a whisper. "No. I don't know that one."
"Well, they're pretty much all like that," he said dismissively. "Should have kept reading, pet."
Getting up quickly, Buffy headed to the door. "Okay, you can go back to sleep now."
There was a click. The slayer could move quickly in a fight - even faster when a conversation became uncomfortable. Slightly amused, Spike stared at the closed door. What the hell had that been about anyway?
Sleep might elude him for a while longer, he thought grumpily as he lay back down.
Despite his offhandedness with Buffy, Whitman was not at all conducive to a good day's rest.
Promptly at ten a.m., there was a firm knock on the front door at 1630 Revello Drive.
Spike was once again attempting to sleep, this time lulled along by the sounds of the over-burdened water pipes in the upstairs bathroom combined with the staccato rhythms of 'Bang, Bang, Xander's Silver Hammer' in the basement.
Joyce hummed the Beatles tune as she hurried to the door. Willow was in the kitchen trying to wake up. Anya was still asleep on the floor near Dawn's somnambulistic form. Andrew had cleared a place on the kitchen counter to work on the 'Big Board' Joyce had commissioned for chore assignments. Buffy was in back working off some pent-up 'excess' energy with some of the Potentials.
Which left the woman to do 'door duty.'
The door opened to reveal Rupert Giles, wearing sunglasses, a light-weight, decidedly un-tweedy, sweater, and khaki pants. In his hand was a bundle of notes. She squinted. Impossible to read, crabby hand-writing.
"In and of themselves," he stated concisely, "the Harbingers seems to be incapable of any sort of real coup for the First. Its real power lies in those it can manipulate to its own ends."
Joyce looked at him.
Giles reached up and pulled off his sunglasses and placed them in his pocket. "May I come in?" he asked respectfully. "I believe I have some notes here that could lead to some solid information if properly researched."
Stepping aside with a nod, she gestured the man inside. Giles reached into his pocket and pulled out another pair of glasses, clear lenses this time, and walked into the foyer.
"I'm still angry with you, Rupert."
"And I still think you were quite unfair. I am not Buffy's father. I was her Watcher. There is a distinction there I think you might have missed."
Joyce looked abashed. "I didn't..."
"Oh, yes, you did. And unfortunately, my training as a Watcher did not include the sort of personal instruction that goes with having a slayer survive as long as Buffy has." He wiped his glasses and put them on. "A serious shortcoming."
"So you're here to work?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes. Yes, I am," he answered candidly. "I thought about the things we discussed last night. I don't agree with what you said, for the most part, but it did make me think." He held up the notes. "Which led me to this line of research." He smiled. "Shall we call a truce?"
Joyce nodded. "I'll just make us some tea. Buffy's in the backyard."
"In the kitchen."
"And Xander is still banging away in the basement?"
She chuckled. "But making progress."
"Spike?" His mouth wrapped around the single syllable with a touch of distaste.
"Trying to sleep."
"Ah." He headed toward the kitchen through the hallway, Joyce following along behind. "There is something I haven't been particularly forthcoming about. I'm prepared to change that. But everyone concerned will have to be equally as honest."
Joyce walked past him as he stopped to greet Willow and gaze abstractedly at Andrew's project.
"I'm sure that won't be a problem," she said as she filled the teakettle with fresh water. "Why would it be?"
Giles looked up and met her eyes. "Honesty can be extremely painful."
Final note on this chapter:
The stuff of Buffy's dream is from Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric," while Spike quotes lines from "A Woman Waits For Me."