All About Spike - Plain Version
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Journeys Part Two: Awakenings
Sequel to Journeys; part of Journeys Series
He hadn’t discovered a bloody thing.
He’d spent nearly a week arsing about in the world of leaded glass windows, green shaded desk lamps, and endless acres of oak and mahogany polished to a glossy finish that was the Council Headquarters in London. Nothing tangible. Only one somewhat promising lead that had taken him out of his hotel and up to the Lake District for an additional ten days. And, in the end, that hadn’t panned out either.
The Council itself had had nothing to contribute. Either they honestly didn’t know anything, or they were once again hiding their knowledge. This time, Giles was relatively sure it was the former. He’d been careful to keep many of his real questions to himself, and he’d certainly avoided mentioning Spike. Instead, he’d concentrated on the words themselves, trying to find them, or anything approximating them, in any written form; legends, prophecies, myths, the recorded dreams of former Slayers, notes in the diaries of their Watchers, obscure writings of known or unknown origin, someone’s jottings on a napkin. Anything.
And he’d found nothing.
He’d made some other contacts, selected sources and friends from his less reputable youth, but they hadn’t been a great deal of help either. One or two had agreed to look into ‘things’ more deeply, and one other, perhaps the most promising, had frowned and told him the words seemed to ring a bell. Could she get back to him? Giles had given her his number in the States.
He hated going home empty-handed, but he’d been gone nearly three weeks, and felt he really needed to get back to Sunnydale. He would just have to keep in touch with these old acquaintances, and hope they discovered, or remembered, something. At the same time, he’d need to keep up his own research.
One of his old friends had directed him to several web sites that specialized in just the sort of obscure information he was seeking. Giles almost cringed. Computers continued to terrify him. Would he now have to force himself to adjust to them in order to access these sources of information? He tried to see a bright side to this idea. Oh! Perhaps the computer would actually reveal information to him, rather than concealing it as the Council seemed to enjoy doing. Of course that would probably only happen if he learned how to turn one of the dreadful things on.
By the time he let himself into his apartment, Giles was feeling tired, and frustrated, and quite out of sorts. The flight had been long, and rough, the in-flight food deplorable. It had taken him nearly an hour to get a shuttle to the remote parking to retrieve his car at L.A.X. He should’ve paid the extra fare and gotten a connecting flight to Sunnydale. Next time, he promised himself.
He hadn’t been out of touch with Sunnydale for this length of time since he’d first come to the States. To be honest, he was a bit nervous about what Anya might have done with the shop in his absence. He tried to assure himself that whatever it was, it would, if initiated by Anya, probably be good for business.
There were several messages on his machine. Only a few interested him. Three from Willow, two from Dawn, and one, rather to his surprise, from Spike. They all said basically the same thing.
Call me as soon as possible. Followed by a complete lack of any remotely helpful details. Really! You’d have thought they could be a bit more informative than that.
The last time he’d been gone for any length of time, there had been that somewhat distressing troll incident. Had something similar happened? Or, had the store burned down?
Dear Lord, please don’t let it be the foretelling of yet another apocalypse! It hadn’t been anywhere near a year since the last one. Surely they were entitled to some time to regroup? Especially now, without… Or – oh, perhaps the others had already averted it while he was blessedly oblivious on the other side of the world? He much preferred that scenario.
He called the Summers’ house, and when he got no answer there, he tried Xander’s. No luck. He couldn’t remember Spike’s cell phone number offhand, and wasn’t sure where he had it written down. New-fangled contraptions. They just had to be ex-directory, didn’t they? Don’t I pay the bill on the blasted thing? he thought. I should know the number. It was late, and the Magic Box would be closed, but perhaps he should drive by, assure himself it was still standing, and see if any of the young people were there.
Or he could just go to bed, and deal with whatever needed to be dealt with in the morning. Tempting as that sounded, he decided he’d better make the effort, regardless of his state of exhaustion.
He was, after all, a soundly reliable fellow.
Sod it all.
There were several lights on in the Magic Box. Giles parked his car in front of the shop, and climbed out. The door wasn’t locked, which either meant that someone was still here, or that someone was going to receive a stern lecture on carelessness tomorrow.
He heard a murmur of sound from the direction of the training room. He started in that direction, but then paused, debating the wisdom of continuing. At this rather late hour, it was most likely Xander and Anya, creating new and ever more unlikely sexual uses for the gymnastics equipment. He sincerely hoped the two of them always wiped the equipment down thoroughly after, er, using it. He shuddered lightly at the thought. He would never grow accustomed to the former demon’s penchance for sharing intimate details of her life with him. He had asked her quite bluntly to cease and desist, but he still had to glare at her with his piercing eyes at least once per week in order to avert further unwelcome knowledge and the accompanying visuals.
As for the time he had inadvertently walked in on the young couple? Well, he preferred to pretend that had never happened. He wasn’t always successful. Further, he remained disturbed by the pleasure he sometimes took in remembering how really beautiful Anya’s breasts were.
Poor Watcher. Did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea. How very amusing, Spike, he thought sarcastically, and not for the first time, as he remembered the words the vampire had spoken after a nasty fight on patrol one night near the end of the summer. Unfortunately, they were also true. He needed to start socializing again. Soon. With women. A woman. There must be someone suitable in the area. Someone the right age, with intelligence, and who wouldn’t think he was completely barmy because of his interest in the, er, – occult – for lack of a better word. Unfortunately, experience had taught him that that last bit often provided a major stumbling block in building a relationship.
He listened for a moment, trying to decide whether or not to continue into the other room, or to leave. But then he heard a distinctly British voice, and a lighter, answering grumble. Dawn. He remembered Spike’s stated intention of starting Dawn on some basic self-defense training, and glanced at the clock. 10:30. It did seem a bit late for Spike to be working with the young girl tonight, but at least he felt safe entering the room.
“Chill,” Dawn said with exasperation. “I’ll get it.”
“I don’t need to chill, pet. ‘m there. And I know you’ll get it, because we’ll be working on it ‘til you do.”
Apparently, Dawn was more successful in the next attempt, because she laughed lightly as Giles moved far enough into the room to see them, and Spike made a sound of approval. The bot stood nearby, watching with quiet attentiveness.
He had to admit, Spike’s protectiveness of Dawn, his seeming absolute loyalty to her, had taken a great deal of stress off his own shoulders. He’d had a lot of trouble forgiving Dawn for being alive when Buffy was – not. He knew that attitude made no sense, and he’d often felt it made him much less of a man to even be thinking such a thing. But even that self-disgust hadn’t prevented him from continuing to feel that way.
As the summer had moved into fall, and a good deal of his depression had lessened, Giles felt he had been able to rid himself of such thoughts, and start to accept that Dawn had had nothing to do with anything that had happened with Glory. To be truthful, she’d had no control whatsoever over anything that had happened around her or what had been done to her – by the monks, or Glory, or Doc. To continue to somehow hold her responsible was ridiculous and petty. Of course he’d known that from the outset, but he was glad he’d finally been able to really feel it – emotionally as well as intellectually.
By the time school had gone back into session, his long held love for Dawn had experienced a rebirth of sorts, and he remembered the intense joy he’d felt at being able to freely admit to it again. The joy had been mixed with a great deal of relief as well. Perhaps he wasn’t quite the unfeeling monster he’d sometimes thought himself during the early months of the summer when he’d barely been able to look at the girl.
He’d just been – human – and hurting.
Depression could do such odd things to people – affect them in so many ways, many of which were completely unreasonable. Now that he seemed to be recovering from his depression, he needed to learn to forgive himself for some of the less than generous feelings it had led him to experience.
Giles watched the three of them now, his lips curling upward. They looked like such a – well, almost like a family.
Then his eyes narrowed. This wasn’t right. Unless he was forced to patrol with it, Spike avoided the bot like the plague, and he couldn’t imagine the blond willingly allowing the robot to intrude on his time with Dawn. Just as these thoughts were registering, Spike seemed to sense his presence, and he whirled toward him. That, in itself, was almost shockingly unusual. Normally Spike would have sensed him before he even entered the room. He watched the curious expression that came over the vampire’s face.
At the single word, a stillness fell over the room, and Giles felt something run through him, something strange. A – an anticipation of some sort. He tried to read Spike’s expression, then he shifted his eyes to Dawn. The teenager’s eyes were wide, and he could see that she was practically bursting at the seams, longing to blurt out an excited stream of words, and was restraining herself with the greatest effort.
“Rupert...” Spike began again. Then he continued very softly, his tone decorous. “We have news, my friend. You may wish to sit down.”
But Giles’ eyes had already gone past the vampire and settled instead on the being behind him. The one he had initially thought was the robot. And which he now knew was not.
He stared, his face raw with wonder.
“Buffy,” he said softly. “My beloved girl.”
Shock held him immobile for a long silent moment before he crossed the room, sliding his arms around her when he reached her side. She was here, a warm and living miracle. He bent his head over hers.
“My darling girl. You’ve come back to us.”
“Yes,” she whispered, and he began to cry.
Later, when he thought about it, Giles realized that they’d really said very little of any consequence. Mostly he’d gazed into her eyes, trying to assure himself that he wasn’t hallucinating.
Dawn and Spike had decided to go to the Summers house, giving them some time alone. Spike had stood nearby as Buffy hugged Dawn goodbye, and there had been a moment, somewhat tense, and almost suggesting indecision – on the part of Buffy or Spike? – but then Spike had touched a hand briefly to the small of Buffy’s back, and left the shop with her sister. Giles, standing in stunned amazement across the room, had only vaguely registered the exchange.
His beloved girl, his child, restored to him.
That phrase was playing over and over in his mind.
His beloved girl, his child, restored to him.
They talked, and gazed at each other, and he shed a few more tears. Giles was sure he appeared quite dazed with a mixture of pleasure and shock, but if he did, Buffy’s expression did not mirror the emotions of his own. Her eyes were intent on him, interested. But they were somewhat guarded as well. He could almost feel the fine tension that was running through her.
“How long?” he finally asked, after a prolonged silence.
“Only a few, um, not very long, really…”
“And you’re okay? All your fingers and toes?”
That brought out a smile. She held up her hands and wriggled her fingers. “Would you like me to take off my shoes?”
“That shan’t be necessary,” he assured her. His eyes ran over her face. “You’re the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen…”
She actually blushed lightly, ducking her head, and another smile appeared.
“How did this happen? How? Were you brought back? Sent back? Do you know?”
Her smile faded. “The others – they brought me back,” she told him. “But I don’t know very much about it. I’m sorry. You should probably ask one of them.”
He leaned toward her. “Where were you, my dear? What was it like? Were you aware? What happened?” Tell me what its like to be dead.
As soon as the words were out of his mouth he could have kicked himself. Apparently, his shock had also made him, temporarily, he hoped, extremely stupid. She’d finally relaxed enough to smile, and now he could see her withdrawing back into herself.
“I – I can’t talk about it. Not yet. I don’t know… Maybe later… I’m sorry.”
“Don’t,” he stopped her stumbling apologies. “I should never have asked. Certainly not now. It was unbelievably clumsy of me, and I should be apologizing to you. Which I am. I’m sorry.”
She couldn’t talk about it. So, she had been aware on some level. And had memories. Memories too horrific to be talked about? Too terrible to share? Had she been in a hell dimension then, he wondered? Had the portal opened by Dawn’s blood thrown Buffy into one of the dimensions they’d read of when they were researching Glory? They’d hoped that if they were able to discover which hell dimension Glory came from, they could, perhaps, find some weakness, something, anything… Glory kryptonite, Xander had called it. They’d been spectacularly unsuccessful. Giles felt the remembered hopelessness fill him for a moment, and he had to forcibly push it away. Glory was gone, dead. Their helplessness against her was something he no longer had to worry about.
And, in the end, they’d defeated her, hadn’t they? Just moments too late, though, to avoid the terrible, terrible cost…
Or were her memories too painful in some other way; or simply too personal to share, not terrible at all?
He wouldn’t push Buffy now. He thought of the past; thought of the other times she had been faced with traumatic situations, and how she would eventually share with him what he needed to know. That had been the case with Angel, at any rate, when she’d had to send him to hell, even though his soul had been restored. It had taken time, but she had finally shared. Maybe she would this time, too. When she was ready. He had dozens of questions, but he could wait to ask them.
“You know I’m here for you,” he told her. He was unbelievably happy to see her, couldn’t quite grasp that she was here and alive. He tried to put those feelings into his voice, into his expression. He wanted her to know what he was feeling, how much he loved her.
He reached for her hands, taking them in his, and received his second great shock of the night.
She tugged her hands away quickly, jerking them close to her chest as she cringed away from him, and he felt a terrible jolt of pain at the rejection. Almost just as quickly, she reversed her action. Even before he could drop his hands into his lap, her mouth curved itself into a smile, and she offered him her hands again, her eyes apologizing.
“I’m sorry,” she said. Again. “I’m, um, a little nervy sometimes. I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything.”
She didn’t sound too sure, though, and he thought her phrasing a bit odd. Shouldn’t she know if it meant anything? He took in the rigidity of her shoulders and the strained nature of her smile, and he knew without doubt that she was forcing herself to allow his touch, to entrust him with her hands. It pained him deeply, hurt in a way he couldn’t have imagined, to know she didn’t want his hands to touch hers. Belatedly, he realized that she hadn’t really returned his embrace when he’d first recognized her, either.
He squeezed those small hands gently, and released them. He might appreciate the gesture, but he wasn’t going to make her any more uncomfortable. His track record through this miraculous encounter was rapidly worsening, and he felt disgusted at his own awkwardness. He hadn’t always been good at conveying his feelings for Buffy to her, but in the months just before her death, he’d thought the two of them were improving in that area, finally able to tell each other how much they cared for each other.
Giles let his eyes drink her in again. She’s really here, he thought. Alive. He chose his next words with care, hoping to keep his foot well clear of his mouth. His excitement at her return was being tempered now with concern about her well-being. She looked to be physically fine; too thin, but otherwise healthy, and more beautiful than he’d ever seen her. But it was becoming increasingly clear that in other ways, she was perhaps, not quite herself.
Which was only to be expected, he assured himself. She’d been dead for several months, after all.
“I don’t know how you’re adjusting. I get the impression you were aware, to some degree, on some other plane, and I hope that, when you’re ready, you’ll share that with me if you feel you can. I shan’t press you. But even if I’ve misread that, and you weren’t aware, just being brought back to life must be an enormous trauma. If you’re having trouble getting on, please remember that I love you, and that I’m here for you. Anything you need to share, to talk about… When you’re ready, I’ll be here. Promise me you’ll keep that in mind.”
“In the meantime, take life slowly. Don’t try to rush back into things. You’ve always had so many responsibilities, and I don’t want you trying to take them all on again immediately. Your friends and I are here for you. Dawn and Spike, too, I’m certain. Let us help you.”
He smiled at her gently, and resisted the urge to reach for her hands again, even though he longed to squeeze them in reassurance – for her and for himself.
“Will you do that?”
“I’ll try,” she said quietly, and he could see his words had warmed her. He felt a bit better. She stood up and reached for her coat. When she faced him again, much of the softness had left her eyes, revealing some determination, a glimpse of the girl he had known. “I don’t want you to worry about me. Things have been a little odd, but… I’m going to be okay. Soon. I promise.”
It was the first time all evening she’d even sounded familiar to him.
His eyes studied her carefully. “I’ve always worried about you, my dear,” he reminded her. He longed to put her at ease. “But if I become too exuberant, you have my permission to tell me quite firmly to bugger off.”
The offer raised another smile, brief but genuine.
“I want your word that you’ll remember that I’m here for you; that I love you,” he repeated.
“I’ll remember,” she promised him.
“Good.” He smiled at her, and continued in a light vein. “Now, it’s late, and I’ve had a very long day. I’m quite sure I shall be suffering intense jet lag tomorrow.” He stood. “I have my car. May I give you a lift home?”
“All right,” she replied readily, but he could hear that uncertainty in her voice again. “Thank you, Rupert.”
Giles rarely smoked. It was a habit he had painstakingly broken long ago, one small detail among many in expunging his past, and he almost never allowed himself to indulge any more. But some circumstances just seemed to call for the inhalation of large amounts of carcinogens, and this, apparently, was one of them.
He was saving the alcohol for later.
How many nights had he sat like this, here in the quiet darkness of his apartment, in those first weeks after her death? Too many, perhaps; brooding, mourning, waves of guilt and sorrow and pain lapping steadily at the edges of his mind. He was sorry that Spike had suffered, but he had to admit that the discovery of the vampire, wasting away in his crypt, had jump started his life again, shocking him into having to take action, to move, to make decisions, to go on.
He wasn’t brooding in the same way tonight, he assured himself, and to prove it, he’d lit a fire in the grate. It had died down rather quickly, though, as fires tend to do when they’re not provided with fuel. He’d hardly noticed that little was left but glowing embers.
His beloved girl, his child, restored to him.
He honestly could not remember a single instance in his life that even approached the depth of joy and wonder he was currently feeling.
And the terrible underlying fear.
“Do you need a spot of bourbon to go with that smoke?”
The low voice reached him just before the flare of a cigarette lighter sent an artful pattern of light and shadow across the sharp features of the only vampire to currently have an invitation to his home. Spike touched the flame to his own cigarette, and snapped the lighter shut. Giles hadn’t heard him come in, and he was reminded that the other man could move very quietly when he was of a mind.
“I promised myself I’d hold off on the alcohol until later,” Giles responded evenly.
“You mind if I start without you?” Spike inhaled deeply on his cigarette, blowing the smoke into a room already thick with the stuff.
“Be my guest,” Giles offered. “Am I going to regret my decision to wait?”
“You might,” Spike cautioned, crossing to the small table that held Giles’ limited supply of spirits. He glanced back at the Watcher. “Care to change your mind? Might ease the shock a bit.”
Giles shook his head. Even in the near dark, he noted that the vampire reached unerringly for the decanter that held his best stock. Of course, Spike had excellent night vision, and apparently his memory for good alcohol was equally good.
When the blond had been living with him, the alcohol levels in the apartment had gone down in dramatic fashion each week, due not only to his reluctant guest’s consumption, but to his own. That had not been a particularly happy time of his life. He’d felt so useless for several months, struggling with Buffy’s growing independence, and his fears that she would no longer need him, that he had little to offer. It had been a perfectly dreadful feeling, and it had been such a wonderful relief when she’d strongly disabused him of such notions after Dracula’s visit.
Feeling needed, he thought, was very important to the human psyche.
Spike splashed about an inch of the amber liquid into a short, squat tumbler. Cigarette and glass in one hand, he hefted a chair from the dining room and swung it over near the chair Giles occupied, straddling it. He rested his arms on the chair back, and settled in, taking a swallow of bourbon, and another hit off his fag.
“Got your mind all worked around things?” the vampire broke the silence.
“Hardly,” Giles admitted. “I feel incredibly happy, yet at the same time, almost paralyzed with fear.”
“Yeah, that sums it up nicely, doesn’t it?”
“Were you a part of this? Did you help to bring her back?”
“No. Didn’t know a bloody thing about it.” Spike’s tone was hard. “I’m not trusted, mate. And I’m pretty torn about the whole thing. Happiness and fear, like you said.” He looked into his glass. “Not quite sure ‘m over the shock yet, myself. Been an interesting few weeks, I’ll say that.”
Giles was aware that Spike’s actions over the summer had not earned him a position of trust, at least not with everyone. Dawn, clearly, was completely in Spike’s camp. The two seemed to grow closer on an almost daily basis. And, if he possessed any ability whatsoever to read facial expressions, Giles would guess that Tara had developed something of a soft spot for the vampire as well. The others remained at best, neutral, and at worst, hostile. Even this much more silent and remote incarnation of Spike didn’t seem to leave many people feeling ambivalent.
He’d already admitted to himself, well, furtively at least, that he rather liked Spike, and enjoyed spending time with him. The vampire, against all logic, and everything he’d ever been taught, had become a friend.
Occasionally, Giles still gasped in shock when he admitted that to himself.
He had come to trust Spike in a good many ways. That didn’t mean he didn’t remain somewhat wary. He could never allow himself to forget or ignore that Spike was a vampire, that, at the very least, a demon resided in him. And that he had no soul. The specter of Angel/Angelus hung over him – over all of them. The difference in the souled and unsouled versions of Spike’s grandsire had made a lasting impression on them, and had given them to very much fear the lack of a soul. Although Giles knew intellectually that it was unfair to judge all of a species on a single specimen – and didn’t that sound coldly scientific? – emotionally he still had some trouble getting past that. And past all those years of study with the Watcher’s Council… Unsouled Spike was proving vastly different from unsouled Angelus, yes, but it still seemed wise to remain – alert.
Over the summer, however, he had made the decision to start putting some faith in Spike. A little trust. Just a bit at a time. He could then stand back and see how Spike handled it. He was cautious, but he had every intention of continuing on that course unless Spike proved himself unworthy of the consideration.
Giles pushed aside the knowledge that Buffy’s return might cause that tentative trust to be stretched in ways he hadn’t thought would be possible ever again. Time enough to think of what to do in those circumstances if any of them arose, he told himself now.
“So this happened right after I left?”
“Yeah. A night or two later.”
“How interesting,” Giles intoned with some sarcasm.
“Gotta admit, that crossed my mind once or twice. The timing.” Spike paused. “Not for a week or so, though. Think it took that long for my brain to start functioning again.”
“I can completely sympathize with that feeling,” Giles assured him. They mused on that briefly. “Buffy mentioned that ‘the others’ brought her back. I assume by that she meant Willow and Xander, Tara and Anya. Were they all involved?” he asked. “Dawn, too?”
“No. Little sis was on the Do Not Consult list along with you and me, but the others – yeah.”
“Do you know anything about the spells they used – the powers they summoned? Any specifics?”
“’Spect you’d need to talk to Willow about that,” Spike confirmed what Giles had instinctively known.
“Yes, I rather thought that might be the case. I had hoped… Oh, bugger. I think I will have that drink.” He rose. “Can I get you another?”
“No, I’m good.” Spike refused. He drained his glass, and set it on the floor.
Giles brows rose, but he didn’t comment.
“Tell me about Buffy.”
The words seemed to be absorbed into the darkness of the room. Spike didn’t respond. Instead he stood as well, and moved to the fire. He grabbed the poker and hunkered down; nudging the remains of the wood Giles had fed into the flames before he’d called Spike. (The cell phone number, it turned out, was revealed in the current month’s bill.) The vampire had sounded reluctant to abandon his vigil on the Summers’ roof, but he’d made it pretty clear he expected the blond to appear shortly at his apartment.
‘I’ll be waiting, Spike. Ten minutes.’
Nothing half-arsed about that. It had taken the vampire nearly twenty minutes to arrive, but Giles had never doubted for a minute that he would show.
Spike carefully added a few logs to the glowing embers, mindful, Giles thought, of his own flammability. The flames began to lick lightly at the dry timber.
He’s building up the fire because he has things to talk about, Giles realized. He frowned. He could practically feel the tension rolling off the vampire, making the tension he’d felt in Buffy earlier pale in comparison. Curious. He’d spent endless hours with Spike over the summer, and Giles thought he’d gotten rather good at gauging his moods, at reading his expressions and body language. But he wasn’t having much success so far tonight.
The vampire’s guards were up.
He’d almost asked Spike to meet him back at the Magic Box, rather than here. There, in the training room, they could be holding this meeting over the chessboard. Giles had learned that Spike often relaxed to some extent over chess, and opened up more. He never opened up a lot – that didn’t seem to be in his nature, at least regarding anything personal. He’d unloaded his pain and guilt once or twice over the summer, but, for the most part, he revealed little, and indeed, seemed to guard himself almost rigidly.
Playing chess quite often enabled Giles to draw little pieces of information out of Spike. Not only did the game seem to open the door to information and news, it also, and much more importantly in Giles’ mind, sometimes revealed little flashes of Spike’s intuition. Giles thought he had rather a gift for that last bit. He didn’t think the vampire was psychic, exactly, but often Spike would become restless – edgy, as he himself referred to it – and it often meant something. Something they should be taking note of, something they should be paying attention to. Had he inherited that from his Sire, Drusilla?
On the other hand, the edginess could also mean he was refusing to reveal something, lying, or was just in the mood to kill something. Giles sighed. It was so difficult to tell sometimes with Spike.
Perhaps the chessboard wouldn’t be missed – even thought his guards appeared to be up in force, Spike seemed to be settling in for a lengthy natter.
Giles poured his drink, and returned to his chair. Spike remained in front of the hearth, poking desultorily at the fire.
“What did the Slayer say?” he hedged, and Giles’ eyes narrowed. He certainly recognized that tone and the accompanying little shift of his shoulders. He might have things to share, but as well as having his personal guards up, he also had information he intended to keep to himself. What, Giles wondered, feeling a touch of anger mixed with resentment, and why did he feel it necessary to withhold it?
“She said very little to me,” Giles’ voice was clipped. “She apologized to me more times than she has in all the time I’ve known her, told me ‘the others’ had brought her back, cringed away when I touched her hands, and called me Rupert.” Giles let his words sink in. “You’re an observant fellow, Spike.” There was a dangerous undertone to the Watcher’s voice. “Why don’t you fill me in?”
“It was a couple of nights after your flight out, like I said,” Spike began. “Big gang of hard ass demons rode into town on motorbikes and had themselves a real good time terrorizing the locals. The bit and I were at a movie – Friday night, you know – and when we came out of the theater, there was a good size group of the rotters hanging about just a block or so down the road. I think they were L’ubakm-Etyk demons, but I didn’t get a good look. I hid Dawn in an alley, rustled up some transportation for us, and when I went back for her she was gone.” He jabbed viciously at the wood, sending sparks flying in every direction. He took a minute to collect himself.
“Seems the Slayer wandered into the alley, Dawn saw her, somehow managed to keep her head, and towed Buffy home. I met up with them there. Not long after, the Scoobies arrived, made it clear they’d done some spell to resurrect her. They didn’t think they’d succeeded.”
Very slowly, Spike stood and, with careful, controlled movements, he replaced the poker in its stand. “They left her,” he grated out. “In. The. Ground.” His right hand was fisted tightly, but his left was clenching rhythmically. “Alone.”
“Dear Lord,” Giles breathed, horrified.
“Clawed her way out.” Spike’s head came up. “She had to fucking claw her way out of her coffin. She’s having nightmares about that – all the time. Panic attacks during the day, too. Can’t breathe, can’t…”
Spike moved back to the dining room chair, and swung his leg over it. His movements were sharp, angry. Giles could see he was still calming himself.
“Does she talk to you about these coffin dreams, then?” Giles was curious.
“Yeah. ‘Cause I’ve been there myself, I guess.” Spike lit a cigarette. “And they’re not dreams. They’re nightmares. There’s nothing dreamlike about them at all,” Spike clarified.
“Aside from these nightmares and panic attacks, how does she seem to be adjusting?”
“She’s confused a lot. Says things are ‘fuzzy’. It seems she’s having a lot of trouble remembering people, and her old life here. I don’t know what would cause that – shock, maybe? She told me she remembered you, but if she called you Rupert… Bloody…” Spike broke off. “I called you Rupert – in the training room, when you came in. Should’ve known better… If I’d’ve clued her in a little…”
“So she doesn’t know who I am?” A feeling of hurt curled through him, similar to that he’d felt when she’d pulled her hands away from him. The hurt joined a fairly large number of other emotions roiling through him.
“No. She does. Least that’s my guess. She called you her Watcher the other night when I asked her. She’s just having some trouble making all the connections, has to think things through a bit longer than normal.” Spike tipped his head. “Few days, sometimes. She says it’s getting better,” he added off Giles’ shocked expression. “And a lot of it sort of comes and goes.”
Giles’ kept his eyes firmly trained on Spike. “Go on. I’m sensing there’s more.”
“She drifted off the other night. In the middle of a sentence. It spooked me. She was talking; then she was just gone. Lasted a few minutes. I’m not sure she was aware it happened.”
“Some kind of seizure, perhaps?”
“She wasn’t shaking.”
“There are silent seizures, too. They can appear quite like you just described.”
“Yeah, petit mal seizures,” Spike acknowledged. “Don’t they usually involve blinking, or chewing motions, or twitching facial muscles, though?”
Giles took a moment to gather himself. For some reason, Spike’s ability to sometimes come up with these rather obscure pieces of information never failed to surprise him.
“This was more like she just went somewhere else for a bit. A little side trip to Neverland. Like when Glory snatched Dawn, except much shorter. And she came back on her own, didn’t need the witch traipsing through her mind. I told her I didn’t think she should patrol alone ‘til she’s feelin’ more her old self.”
“Has she patrolled?”
Spike sat up a bit straighter. “Just started the other night. Had a bit of trouble the first time out, but she’s doin’ a lot better already, gettin’ her form back. She joined me tonight at the Magic Box for a bit of a work out while the bit was finishing up with Anya.” He took a drag off his cigarette. “Nowhere near the top of her form, like I said, but if you’d seen her last week, you’d be right proud of her progress.”
Giles was frowning, running the pieces of information through his mind.
“Perhaps I should run a series of tests on her…” he began.
“No,” Spike interrupted harshly. “Not yet.”
“I assure you, I would never –” He was feeling somewhat annoyed with Spike and he wasn’t quite sure why. Resentment that he knew so much more about what was going on? That Buffy had quite obviously shared with him? That made no sense. Spike had been here, he had not.
Emotion was often not terribly logical.
“Just give her some time, Watcher.”
“Look, I know you care about her, Spike, and I have no intension of getting into any type of pissing contest with you over who knows better what’s best for her…”
“Do you?” Spike asked, his own low tone containing an element of danger now, too.
“Do I what?” Giles asked in exasperation. He hated being interrupted.
“Know that I care about her?”
“Willow and Xander came to see me yesterday while I was working out at the Magic Box.”
Giles felt the tension in the room thicken, and he knew he was about to be told the reason it had been hanging in the air since Spike’s arrival. With that opening sentence, though, he was already relatively certain of the cause.
“Yeah. I figured it must be important if Harris took the time off work. They wanted to offer me a bit of advice. Make a request, I guess.”
“And that was?” Giles kept his tone carefully even.
“It had come to their attention that the Slayer was having some problems adjusting to being back. They thought it might be best to try to make things as ‘normal’ as possible for her. Backtrack a bit. Try to make everything like it was before.”
“I see. Less Spike.”
“Lots less.” Spike confirmed. “They thought the time I spend with the bit, the patrollin’ and stuff, might be making the Slayer feel unneeded.”
Giles felt a momentary flash of sympathy, recalling his earlier thoughts of the emptiness of not feeling needed. Apparently Spike didn’t like whatever expression moved across Giles’ face, because his pent up tension exploded into the room, and he surged to his feet furiously.
“Oh, right!” He grated. “Don’t tell me you buy that tripe. Or doesn’t it really matter?” he went on. “One excuse is as good as the next, is that it?”
Giles hadn’t really comprehended that his own tension had been building, simmering just under the surface, but quite suddenly, he was on his feet as well, and the two were arguing loudly, words flying back and forth, covering and drowning out the words of the other. Violence permeated the room.
“…not gonna abandon her now…”
“…help her in any way…”
“…give a rat’s arse…”
“…guard her, protect her…”
“…do my utmost…”
“…never hurt her…”
“…never hurt her…”
“…bloody well love her…”
“…bloody well love her…”
They both stopped. Cold. Their shouted words seemed to echo in the dark room, as the two men stood frozen, only a couple of feet apart, their bodies thrumming with aggression.
Giles was quite sure the pounding of his heart must be nearly deafening to the vampire.
A log shifted position in the fire, sending up a shower of sparks. The sound seemed to break some of the tension.
Giles moved first. His shoulders slumped, and he took a step back, plopping down into his chair. He removed his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose tiredly. So much for putting this issue off.
Minutes of silence stretched out.
At last, Giles spoke. “I know you love her, Spike,” he said with quiet sincerity.
Spike’s back was to the fire, casting his face into complete shadow. But even though Giles couldn’t see his features at all, he knew those blue eyes were riveted to his own face, and he could feel the blond’s shock. After a moment, Spike spun away and went to the fireplace. He braced a hand against the mantle and lowered his head, staring into the flames. A black booted foot kicked lightly at one of the logs.
There was another lengthy silence.
“I can’t believe she’s back,” Spike said, at last, very softly. “Can’t believe she’s alive.”
“The greatest wonder of my life,” Giles’ voice was equally soft.
“Yeah,” Spike murmured his agreement. He turned his head to look at the other man. After a moment, he inclined his head slightly. Giles echoed the gesture, as they both acknowledged the love the other held for the Slayer. Acknowledged it, and agreed to respect it. Spike looked back into the flames again.
Giles watched the vampire. He’d been bracing himself for it, Giles realized. To be shown the door. ‘Thanks for all you did, not needed any more, let me show you the way out – of the house, the town, our lives – don’t really wish to see your face again, business end of a stake if I do, but it’s been quite nice, really…’ Though he’d never said it, Spike must have known that it had been easier for Giles to accept him once Buffy was gone, and the vampire’s feelings for her no longer seemed to present any type of a – threat. Easier, safer. Giles guessed he’d subconsciously been preparing himself for the rejection since Buffy’s return. Perhaps he’d even considered this meeting a test of their still new friendship, which could further explain the tension Giles had felt almost as soon as Spike arrived.
“I know you’d never do anything to hurt her,” Spike said, carefully reintroducing the subject. “And there are things I’m concerned about myself. She’s just – she’s feeling kinda crowded right now. The Scoobies are worried about her, and that just seems to make her more…” He shrugged. “It upsets her, I think, and if she feels like you’re gonna start pokin’ and proddin’ at her…”
“You’ve obviously been spending time with her.” Giles’ voice was also careful. “And have had a far better chance than I to take stock of the situation.” He paused, letting Spike absorb that. “I have a question, though, and I’d like you to give me an honest answer.”
Spike straightened, and his hands slipped into the pockets of his duster. His tension, while not completely gone, had obviously dropped back to more normal levels. He was waiting.
“Do you feel there’s any possibility whatsoever that it isn’t really Buffy?”
Giles expected a quick, perhaps even angry, denial, but Spike seemed to be giving the question careful thought.
“No,” Spike said at last. “No. It’s her. She’s different, yeah, but inside… It’s like I can – feel it, feel her. Recognize something inside her. But…”
“She’s not quite herself. The bit has noticed it, too. She feels like some parts of her sis are missing. But I don’t know if parts are missing or if it’s more that some pieces haven’t quite clicked into place yet.” Spike paused, smirking a little. “Dawn compared her to the bot with a short circuit.”
That drew a reluctant smile from Giles as well, and the remaining tension in the room dissipated.
“Could just be the memory problems.” Spike took a moment to light another cigarette before adding with some humor, “’Course the politeness is ‘freakin’’ Dawn out a bit, too.”
“Yes, it rather threw me, too,” Giles agreed. “We shall have to make every effort to see that that characteristic stays firmly in place as her, er – misplaced pieces – continue to reassert themselves. I fully expect you to back me up in that endeavor. I found it quite refreshing, I must say.”
Once again he noted Spike’s surprise, as he made it clear he was willing to accept, for now, at least, the vampire’s assessment of the situation.
“Now, why don’t you sit down again, and tell me a bit about Willow?”
Spike seemed reluctant to get into the subject of the young witch, but he complied, seating himself once more.
“It’s not like I spend much time with her, or even around her,” he began. “And there’s nothin’ I can put my finger on. She’s had power – we all know it. What she was able to do with Glory, other things. Goin’ into my mind that night – at the tower – and a time or two since…
“I think she’s pleased with herself right now, excited. Should be, I suppose. She brought her friend back from the dead, didn’t she? Gives her reason to feel proud.
“But her power…” He paused. “It seems to have altered a little. Shifted, maybe. ‘m not sure.” He looked up into the Watcher’s face, and Giles again regretted the darkness of the room. He would have liked very much to see Spike’s expression right now. “The Slayer told me that Red makes her a bit ‘twitchy’.”
Giles eyes narrowed. That sounded a lot like Buffy’s ‘spidey sense’. He told Spike as much. “Willow hasn’t developed an aversion to sunlight, has she?”
“Not to my knowledge,” Spike gave a snort of amusement.
“Trouble, do you think?” Giles asked with more seriousness.
Spike shrugged. “Dunno. Not necessarily.” He took a final drag off his cigarette and turned to toss the butt into the fire, which was dying down again. “Not all power causes problems. That kind, though, enough to bring our Slayer back? It usually comes at a price. Not the type of thing to just be handed over. And consequences… Guess it wouldn’t hurt to keep your eyes open.”
Giles fully intended to. He doubted he’d be far off the mark if he interpreted Spike’s words to mean; ‘If I had my way, I wouldn’t let her within a country mile of anyone I care about, and you’d be a bloody fool if you did, either.’
“Thought I might have a chat with her,” Spike went on. “Didn’t want to get into anything yesterday with Harris there.”
“Don’t be daft, Spike. I’ll talk to Willow,” Giles stated firmly.
Spike drew back, seemingly surprised, but didn’t say anything.
“I’ve known her for years, and I’ve never once tried to kill her,” Giles explained. “Those two reasons alone make me the obvious choice.”
Spike made a sound of amusement.
It was only a few minutes later that Giles walked his guest to the door, locking it behind him.
The initial shock of Buffy’s resurrection was wearing off, and his exhaustion was coming back. He’d gotten an overview of the situation, and nothing further could be done tonight, anyway.
It wasn’t until Giles had banked the fire and was preparing for bed, that he realized Spike hadn’t asked him a single question about what had happened in England; if he’d discovered anything. The vampire had tried to tell him he didn’t care about the possible meaning of words spoken to him in a vision. Actually, Spike had been rather less polite in his wording. But his complete lack of curiosity told Giles that, quite possibly, the blond really didn’t care. Had those words that had so captured his own attention become, after the first desire to understand them, only meaningless syllables to the vampire?
He switched off his bedroom lights and lay back on his pillow. It was always so good to be back in one’s own bed.
The next few weeks, and more, the next few days, were probably going to have more than their share of uncomfortable situations, and not a little stress. Aside from indulging himself with the pleasure of gazing on his beloved girl again, he wasn’t looking forward to one bloody bit of it.
He was worried about Buffy. Spike seemed to feel that the problems she was facing were, for the most part, only temporary, and Giles sincerely hoped that was the case.
He was more concerned about the possibility of lingering effects from the unknown spell or spells Willow had used. Magic could be so unpredictable, so filled with – consequences. Spike had used the same word, and, in his experience, it was a very appropriate one.
He didn’t want to go off half-cocked. He’d known Willow for years, and cared for her deeply. But this… Had she just not known the chances she was taking? The forces she was playing with? He was anxious – almost sickeningly so – to get his hands on the spells she’d used, the sources from which she’d obtained them, to have the opportunity to study them.
The coming confrontation with Willow weighed heavily in his mind. He hated the very idea, and would give almost anything to not have to carry through with it, but he knew he had little choice.
He was, after all, a soundly reliable fellow.
Sod it all.
Continued in Chapter Five
Feedback is a wondrous thing. Along with heaps of praise **snerk**, gently worded, constructive suggestions are welcome.
I had a reader contact me several chapters ago, wondering if this was going to become a Spike/Dawn romance story. (It’s not, which I hope is clearer, especially now that Buffy is back.) If you have a specific concern about some aspect of the story similar to that one, please feel free to contact me and ask about it. I don’t like to give out a lot of ‘spoilers’, but I’m always happy to address that type of question.
When I mentioned at the end of part one that Spike might have to deal with relationships from his past, and that he will be forming important new relationships with People. Who. Are. Not. Buffy. , a few people misinterpreted that. The only romantic relationship Spike will be having in ‘Journeys’ is with Buffy. The other relationships mentioned are of different natures – friendship, tolerance, camaraderie, overwhelming annoyance, seething hatred… Hey, it’s Spike! He has lots of things to work on, and, um, so do some of the people around him...
February 13, 2003
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