By Kita (Donna M.)
DISTRIBUTION: Yup, just let us know where.
SPOILERS: Through "Wrecked."
COUPLE PAIRING: Spike/Buffy. Yes, Donna and Jess are writing Spike/Buffy. The moon should be turning to blood any day now.
SUMMARY: Resurrection is a bitch.
RATING: Errr. Ummm... R? Sex. Violence. Dead squirrels. Really gross French poetry.
FEEDBACK: "To coin a popular Sunnydale phrase, 'duh.'"
DISCLAIMER: What's the Numfar of this fic? Joss is the malevolent god that owns all.
No one really remembers birth. Which is good, she supposes, because who wants to remember that? The cold, the violence. The feeling of alone-ness chewing up your cells.
But after, if we are blessed, we aren't alone anymore. After, there are warm blankets and the steady thrumming of a heart. Milk and lullabies. The safety of being kept, the surety of being held. This, Buffy remembers. Except that in her memories of Mother, she is not an infant.
She is not made of flesh.
But she knows Love.
She knows Peace.
She knows Heaven.
Spike doesn't know much of anything for the first three days.
He knows he needs a cigarette. He's stretched out in the back of Xander's car, too battered from his ten-story fall to sit up straight, a blanket shielding him from the early morning sun. He needs a fucking cigarette, and if he can just concentrate on the intricacies of lighting and inhaling then everything. will. be. okay. But one of the broken ribs has pierced through his skin- he can feel blood pouring from the wound, soaking his jeans, and when he digs his cigarettes out of his pocket they are soaked with blood.
There are hands- Xander's? Tara's?- that carry him to the back room of the magic shop, draw the shades tightly against the sunlight. Willow, her eyes distant and hands shaking, perfunctorily examines his wounds and declares that most of the bones that had scarcely healed from his tryst with Glory have been re-broken in his fall from the tower. And that's when he figures it out: it's not supposed to get better, he's just supposed to get used to it. She disappears then, joining the others in the shop- he can hear the low murmur of voices making plans, deciding what Must be Done. Only Dawn stays, holding his hand, her small, bloodstained fingers tightly clenched in his broken ones. He can't look at her; her eyes are the same color as her sister's. He concentrates instead on a small shard of sunlight cutting through the blinds: if he stares at it long enough, he thinks, maybe his brain will shut the fuck up. Maybe that voice in his head will stop screaming her name over and over and over again. The arm that isn't fractured stretches towards the window and his fingertips brush against the light. The burning makes his mind stay quiet for a few seconds until Dawn reaches up and bats his hand out of harm's way.
"Don't," she says softly, and there is something frightening in her voice, something so much older than her fourteen years. "Not you too, Spike. You're not going anywhere."
//counting on you to protect her//
But it *is* the end of the world, he thinks. Dear God, it's the end of the fucking world.
Night comes, and Giles wakes up Dawn, who has fallen asleep on the floor next to the vampire's makeshift pallet. "Will he be okay?" she asks sleepily as Giles leads her away. Spike doesn't answer. The bleeding hasn't stopped and he can still feel his ribs shifting underneath his skin, trying to knit themselves back together without even asking his fucking permission. It hurts too much to move. Xander pauses at the doorway, looks back at him. There's something vaguely akin to sympathy in his exhausted, bloodshot eyes.
"What do you need?" he asks.
Spike screws his eyes shut, swallows hard, and speaks for the first time that day.
"Tequila?" he says hoarsely. "Whiskey. Anything."
Xander gives a curt nod and leaves. When Spike wakes the next morning there are three bottles of Jose Cuervo beside him. He doesn't know, until much later, about the hypnotic spell Willow is forced to cast on the undertaker so they can procure a coffin without producing a body, or the grave that Giles and Xander dig without Spike's aid. The next two days are a merciful blur.
"They wouldn't let me help," Dawn says petulantly. "I mean, I know her fashion sense better than anyone. I've stolen her clothes often enough."
Spike stares out the window at the late afternoon sun and tries to block out the sound of Dawn's voice. She's babbling like a goddamn idiot, sharing all the funeral-preparation details that Spike would rather gargle holy water than hear, but he's not about to tell her to shut the hell up. The funeral's scheduled for two hours after sunset, just long enough for Willow and That Fuckhead to drive back from L.A. That should give him plenty of time to get good and intoxicated before the event. No way is he facing the ponce sober. No fucking way.
"And Willow was all like 'but Buffy hated that dress, she'd never forgive us if we buried her in that' and then Tara just said 'for God's sake, Willow, just pick out a dress already' and you should have seen the look on Will's face. She looked like Tara'd slapped her or something. And then she started just screaming and crying and stuff started flying all over the room like in *Poltergeist* and I figured it was time to bail." She takes a sip of her first beer, wincing at the taste, as he drains his sixth and tosses the bottle into the trashcan behind the magic shop's counter. They'd kick his ass if they knew he was giving the Niblet alcohol hours before her older sister is to be buried.
"Can I have a cigarette?" Dawn asks abruptly. She looks anxious, as if he might refuse or even reprimand her. He takes one from the pack, lights it, and hands it to her silently.
She coughs slightly at the first drag, then smokes in silence, watching the smoke curl around her fingers. "I feel like I shouldn't."
"Be here. Like I was made to open a door that's closed and locked for good." She stares out the window and blinks hard. "Kept alive to save a world that doesn't need me and wouldn't notice if I was gone."
He stubs his own cigarette out on an Orb of Thesula. "I know how you feel."
He hates funerals. He can't remember his own, but remembers crawling out of the dirt to find a tall Irishman he didn't recognize standing at his graveside, smoking a cigar.
"She was supposed to meet you here," he said dryly, "but she forgot."
They always forget.
((you taste like ashes))
He fucking *hates* funerals. Remembering human life as if it's something important. Recognizing death as if it's something monumental. Bollocks. Fucking melodramatic humans. Just part of the process, is all. He'll get through. Three, three and a half, three and three-quarters and there's alcohol waiting for him back at the crypt.
Whatever movie-of-the-week image of Buffy's funeral he might have cultivated in his mind, the event itself proves something of a disappointment. He keeps on the edge of the group, chain-smoking, Dawn hanging on his arm, while Angel stands next to the coffin as if it's his God-given right, and that's enough to piss Spike off from the get-go; silly Spike, to think he has any rights in this matter when he's never even fucked the lady in question before expediently leaving town. No, it certainly wasn't supposed to turn out this way. In one final, humiliating display of bad taste, they get into a fistfight at her graveside following the funeral.
Spike never quite figures out who started it- too little blood and sleep and too much tequila for three days now. He remembers- much later, when he is sober- that Angel said he had no right. No right to have been there when it happened, and no right to be here now. And Spike wishes it were true. Wishes that it had been Angel, instead, on that tower.
Angel wouldn't have fucked up.
And he realizes, of course, that the fucker has a point, that he has no sodding place here, but he'll be damned if he's gonna stand there and listen to that overgelled wanker *say* so when he was a hundred miles away when it happened. It's a really fucking bad idea, he knows, but can't bring himself to care. Kicking Angel's ass- or getting his ass kicked by Angel, whichever it is- makes him feel alive for the first time in three days.
He keeps expecting Will to do her "separate" bit again, but she stares right through them both as if they aren't even there. He punches Xander in the nose when he and some skinny, bespectacled mini-Giles attempt to pry the two vampires apart and is rewarded with a splitting headache to supplement the black eye, bleeding nose, ribs cracked for the third time in two weeks. He can hear Dawn weeping hysterically.
((not now spike *please* not now))
Not now. Not while it's so inappropriate, so fucking inconvenient, and she's oh so sacrosanctly *dead.* And he never wanted this, to be the one expected to behave in front of the children. He killed his parents and siblings well over a century ago and he doesn't want to be Dawn's big brother now. He can't stand to be around them anymore, to look into living, breathing faces marked with regret and stupid Shoulds and Have Tos. Fucking wankers. He wants out, but. He fucking *promised,* didn't he? Idiot.
"He's sorry," Cordelia says, rubbing mascara tear tracks from her cheeks with grimy fingertips. "He won't say so, but he is. He feels bad about what happened." And Spike isn't sure if she means what happened tonight, or everything that's happened for the last hundred and twenty years, but it hardly matters anymore. In the car, the ex-Watcher mops blood off Angel's upper lip.
He doesn't deserve any comfort. Neither one of them do. But- fuck it.
"He always feels bad about something." Shuffles out his cigarette, staring at the dirt. Lights another. He feels uneasy around Cordelia and her raccoon-smudge eyes, embarrassed to grieve in front of someone who called Buffy a friend back when he was still trying to kill her. Because Angel was right. He doesn't have any right to be here. Shouldn't.
((i'll dance with you, pet. on the slayer's grave.))
He looks around, half-curious, for someone to dance with.
"There's nothing here," she responds flatly, gaze sweeping across the desolate cemetery. It's been how long since she's been back in Sunnyhell- a year, two? He wonders if she misses this fucking hellhole. "There's nothing for anyone here, especially you. Sooner or later you're gonna realize that, Spike." She sneaks a look over her shoulder for her coworkers, then plucks the Marlboro Red from his fingers and takes a deep drag. "This stupid town's made up of cemeteries, you know?"
"It's like that everywhere, I guess."
"No. Not like it is here." She takes another drag and watches a vacant-eyed Giles shepherd Dawn into the car, and he wonders, briefly, if she misses Buffy. Misses gossiping in homeroom or sipping lattes at the Bronze or whatever the fuck it is they did in years past. He doesn't miss her, because she never gave him anything to miss. Nothing but a few fading bruises and some halfassed regrets, and he's not crying because he hasn't anything to cry about. He hasn't. And he really shouldn't be here.
Three. If he can just get past today. Then it will be four and that, at least, will be something different.
"Everyone spends their time here waiting on each other to die," Cordelia muses. "It's such bullshit."
He snatches his cigarette back and wonders what it would be like to follow. Taking refuge with a Grandsire who isn't any less dead or grieving than he, and they could take their pain out on each other in spades and the hating would feel good, like something sharp and clean, like blood that flows in bright trickles and never dries in dark-brown patterns on concrete or hands. Like something that still made sense. In the car, Angel angrily shoves Wesley and his handkerchief away, and Spike sighs and shuffles out his cigarette. He wishes he could be like Angel, pushing love and affection away with a martyr's complexion and an oh-I-must-be-going-now voice; surely it must be easier to live that way, to love that way. But he can't. Spike reaches out with both hands, grasping anything resembling love with greedy claws, and pulls it tight to his chest, snarling at anyone who attempts to take it away. It has always been thus, and Spike knows he won't go where he's not wanted; he's already died once this month. "Go home, Cordelia."
"So you just- quit on her? Is that how it is?"
Snapshot of your fucked-up life: defanged vampire standing in the Hellmouth's largest grocery store with the dead Slayer's best friend's recently un-brainsucked girlfriend, arguing about your responsibility towards a teenager who doesn't technically exist. He should have fucking stayed in Prague.
"She asks about you every day."
Tara's eyes are fiery, her jaw firmly set. Spike awkwardly swings his basketful of Guinness and Marlboros back and forth in one hand, avoiding that gaze. The witch and the Key are on aisle seven, picking out breakfast cereals. "I can't, okay? I just can't." Can't go back to the Summers house, full of dead memories of dead women who gave him ax-blows to the head and pipe organs to the spine. Can't go back to that house where he drank hot chocolate and stole sweaters. Can't.
"She thinks you blame her," Tara says seriously. "For what happened to Buffy. Do you?"
He almost laughs in her face. Because it's so ironic. In, you know, a sick kind of way.
Tara glances around for her lover and then drops her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "I know you loved her," she says, almost tenderly. "The others might not believe it, but I do."
He tightens his grip on the shopping basket and looks away, his throat tightening. God, this was so fucking much easier when he was trying to kill them all the time.
"And you know it's what she would have wanted," Tara presses. "For you to be there for Dawn. For us all to take care of her."
'Til the end of the world, Spike thinks again. Even if that happens to be Day Nine. "Fine," he says hoarsely. And thus becomes a reluctant quasi-member of the fucking Scooby Gang.
"You know," Xander snaps, eyes blazing, "you really have the *least* right, of any of us, to be complaining about this." He kicks a spool of wire out of the way and glares at Spike.
((spike, I can't help myself. I love you))
"I just don't see why we're looking for the goddamned thing."
((should I start this program over?))
They found the body about an hour ago, wires tangled and twisted in heaps of rubble; he closed his eyes against the cracks. They still can't find the head. They've been looking since nightfall.
They found blonde strands in a pile of wreckage awhile ago, but aren't sure which Buffy they belonged to. Patterns of fluid on the ground from the fractured skull. Fucked-up Rorschach that doesn't want interpreting. He remembers watching the broken bones shift beneath her skin as Giles carried her body back to the car.
((should I start this program over?))
She was dead when she hit the ground. He *knows* she was dead when she hit the ground. Mystical energy, Willow said a dozen times or more, like a mantra. That doesn't make it any easier. She cracked the concrete when she landed, frail body hitting hard enough to bounce. He saw.
((should I start this program over?))
"We need it," Xander says stubbornly. He grinds his teeth and paws through a pile of scrap metal. Nothing. Rats and rubble and dust.
"The hell we do."
"We can't do this without her," he says plaintively, and Spike knows he doesn't mean the robot.
Quiet footsteps behind them- "Found it," Dawn says softly. She holds the head carefully, wrapped in her fuzzy powder-blue sweater. "Let's take her home."
The first thing thing he sees when he entered the living room is her head on the coffee table, wires trailing from her neck like bright silver entrails. The body lies sprawled on the floor, legs akimbo, plastic flesh glaring brightly through clothes tattered from the fight. The synthetic skin has torn and pulled away in places, exposing dull nickel and gleaming copper, snaking along the curves of her body. As he watches, a sallow-faced Willow plugs a cord in the back of her neck and taps the keys of her laptop until lips twitch and eyes snap open.
"Spike!" the head says enthusiastically.
He fights the urge to vomit and runs headlong from the house. After that, the nightmares get worse. It takes Dawn a week to convince him to return.
He's the bitchboy, he knows, and can't bring himself to care. They only call him when they need something and ignore him otherwise. They bitch when he can't be reached; he got a cell phone for that very purpose. Well, stole a cellphone, and they bitched about that, too; Slayer of Slayers, former Master of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, and the wankers won't even let him get away with petty theft anymore. He starts baby-sitting Dawn in mid-July, when Giles abruptly stops filling the post. "He isn't feeling well," Willow explains hastily. Giles is drunk. In the unabridged, thou-shalt-not-speak-of-it Scooby lexicon, it means that Giles is drunk. Spike is very proud of the fact that he's falling to pieces in a much more subtle manner than the ex-Watcher is. The vampire is, after all, Coping. Or at least the closest semblance of it that anyone's likely to see.
They yell at him for being mean to her, as if he's hurting her fragile little plasticene feelings; and it's fucking ironic, he thinks, that he's the only one who seems to remember that it isn't real. Bits of plastic and programming and wisps of fake blonde hair and he's the only one who still realizes that it isn't. her.
He suspects that, six months ago, Willow would have gone crying to Buffy if the Big Stupid Vampire had hurled the better part of Joyce's crockery at her head. Now she just narrows her eyes and deflects the pots and pans with a light gesture and some muttered Latin, doubtless aware that he wasn't aiming that well anyway. Pavlov's dog caught on eventually, after all, and contrary to popular belief Spike isn't *that* bloody stupid.
"I don't see what right you have to complain about it," she says hotly. "You're getting what you paid for, after all."
A casserole dish shatters inches from her head and he winces at the searing flash of pain behind his eyes.
"Will you calm down?" she screeches, fear starting to tremble at the edges of her voice. "I'll reprogram your fucking sexbot if it bothers you that much. Just get out."
He goes home, and there's pictures of her, and stakes, and sweaters, and goddamnit if he can't bear to look at those either.
Continued in II