All About Spike - Plain Version
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Sequel to Dangerous
Sequel to "Dangerous", post-Season 7. Set 30 years after the events of the previous story. Rated NC-17
Thanks to my beautifully ruthless beta, Soundingsea, and to the LiveJournal Community for their encouragement and support.
It was slow going, walking back. He figured Buffy would wait about ten minutes before she came out and found him gone. Fifteen, tops. There was no way that she wouldn't come looking for him once she figured out he'd left. Every time the distant headlights of an automobile crested the horizon behind him, he did a quick fade into the bushes, waited it out in the shadows. Cowardly, yeah. But then, he was still trying to work it all out - why he wanted it gone, why he'd still said no.
He was miserable the way he was; couldn't go on like this. Here she was, offering him the lot - an end to guilt, her company that he'd craved all these years - and he just couldn't let it go, not really even knowing what it was that he held onto. He hadn't thought what he'd do beyond reaching the apartment - he wasn't really sure he'd make it back to the city before the sun rose.
An hour down the road, he seemed little nearer than before, the city lights spread out twinkling before him. Figured. Nothing for him could ever be easy. A nearby rock provided a convenient perch, and he sat down to smoke, staring at the horizon just starting to change color, the dark just barely lifting at the corners of the world. Maybe he should just stay here. Burn it all away, let himself be taken down to hell. It had never been more tempting than tonight.
He tapped the ash into the wind, imagined it was his, dancing, spiraling down to the earth, the white shining against the blackness of the air. Beautiful. Poetic, even. Too bad he wouldn't be here to see it. He wondered what it would feel like, letting himself burn. Wondered, too, if anybody would even think to ask where he'd gone. Well, Dawn might. But she was young, and canny. She'd survive - and be better off without him. He lifted his chin defiantly. Least he could do was take it like a man.
So of course it came to nothing. He sat there, waiting patiently, for a good five, ten minutes. 'Bout the time he reached for another cig, it started to rain. Just pitter-patter at first, but gradually got harder and harder, 'til it was beating down on the earth like a drum, black clouds giving the lie to the coming sunrise. Fuck.
He sat there, water rolling off his hair and face, drenching his coat, trickling down inside his boots. It was just all too much. "What the FUCK is the matter with you!" he shouted to the sky. "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?! I did everything, everything to make it right, and it's never good enough, oh, no, got to kick him when he's fucking down - well, I'm DONE, do you hear me?"
He was pacing now, the anger flowing white hot from his soul, giving vent to all the rage he'd carried for years now. Damned to hell already, there was no point in softpedaling it now. "That git I was, that fucking nancy mama's boy," His voice trembled. "He did everything you ever asked. I did everything I was supposed to do. Loved my Mum, went to church, did my work, feared YOU, and what did I get for it? Where were you in that sodding alley? Where were you for my Mother? Ok, so that wasn't want you wanted, I get it. Followed Dru, and got to be so good at what I did, so, so very good - and that wasn't good enough for you either! Saint or devil, make up your mind! What do you want me to be? TELL ME!"
He slid to the ground, legs betraying him at last, head bowed, but not in prayer. "Can't you even let me die?"
From behind him, he heard an unfamiliar voice. "Well, that could be arranged."
The voice was attached to a girl. Skinny, long-legged, her boyish hair slicked down to her head by the rain. She wore sturdy boots, some kind of lined nylon pants. Her voice was light, but her eyes – even in the dim light, he could see her eyes were hard. She was fifteen, maybe, certainly no more than seventeen. A mocking smile played around her mouth.
He knew a Slayer when he saw one. Perfect. Just bloody perfect. The laughter bubbled out of him, dropped him to his butt in the mud, made his shoulders shake.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked in a flat, angry voice.
"You, darling." He jabbed upwards with his thumb. "He certainly has a strange sense of humor." He wiped the water from his eyes, smiling ruefully. "You know how some folks just get everything they ever wanted? Appears I’m not one of them. Come to kill me, then? Get on with it, if you can."
She spat on the ground. "You things always think you’re so invulnerable, think nobody can kill you. Aren’t you in for a surprise."
He laughed again. "Oh, I am?"
"You must not know who I am." She postured with her stake, one hand on her hip. In the day, he could have killed her before she knew what hit her.
On his knees in the mud, he couldn't help but smile. "Love, I know what a Slayer looks like. I’ve seen a few in my time. You must not know who I am."
She scowled, her tiny white face darkening. "I know who you are. Spike. Isn’t that what they call you?"
"That it is. Doesn’t much fit these days, but what can you do?" He levered himself to his feet. "I’ve fought three Slayers, killed three Slayers. I don’t doubt that I could kill you, too." And he probably would. One more to add to his tally – At least their deaths didn’t eat at him in the night, though he never thought to add another. Soldiers, and enemies, and he took as much as he gave, nearly, and even without his soul, he’d honored them, in his way. He could just let her kill him, of course. Would solve a lot of problems. More than he deserved, he imagined, to have a bit of dignity in his passing.
But even as the thought flitted across his mind, he knew he wouldn’t. What kind of honor would that be for her, to kill someone who wouldn’t fight back? No, he’d fight, if it came to that. And probably win. Was that the lesson he was supposed to be learning, here? Damn the ambiguous signs and symbols. Dru could always figure for him on that count, but it always made him feel slow of study. He shook his head slightly. Probably meant nothing at all.
"I don’t want to kill you," he said.
"Well, no worries," she replied. "You’ll never get the chance."
In a flash, he was on her, stake knocked into the shadows, and her thin frame pinned beneath him. A faint smell of fear lingered. New. She had to be new, hadn’t figured out that he was weak and ill-fed, marked with wounds all over. She couldn’t throw him off because she thought she couldn’t. Stupid for her watcher to let her out like this, half-trained. Fangs ready, he bent to her throat, laying one thin scratch along her skin. The smell of her blood was like a glimpse of heaven, and he shivered as he dragged his tongue to catch the droplets that oozed through the break in her skin. "I don’t want to kill you," he repeated. "But I will if you fight me."
"Sure you don’t," she said acidly. "Just like you didn’t want to kill the others, right?" She struggled again, harder, her heart racing faster.
His laugh was cold. "Course I wanted to kill them. I enjoyed killing them. Liked it so much I sought it out, went after them special." His voice grew wistful. "Only decent fights I’ve ever had. After all, they might have killed me." He focused back on her face, twisted with anger and fear. "Just like you might kill me. But I doubt it."
She strained beneath him, trying to shift away, but her voice shook - from anger, or fear, he couldn't say. "The Council’s been hunting you for years now. If you’re so hot to fight Slayers, why were you hiding?"
His mouth turned downward. "Told you – I don’t want to kill you. Don’t want to kill anybody, anymore."
"Right." Her voice dripped with sarcasm. "Cause you’ve got a soul. Didn’t stop you from leaving a trail of bodies across the country. Or from turning Buffy Summers into a thing like you."
In a low, mournful voice, he said, "Thought it was what she wanted. I was wrong." He looked at the girl beneath him, nowhere near a woman, nowhere near ready to shoulder the burden of a short life and brutal death. He pushed away from her all at once, let her scramble for her stake. "Kill me. Do it. You’re right, you know. I’m still a monster. I still crave it, you know, still long for the blood and death and fear. Only now, now I lie in bed and it eats at me. Now I get to hate myself for it."
He could see her in the half-light, stake back in hand, surprise and fear all gone now. Now she’d kill him, and feel nothing but a passing sense of satisfaction, a mental tick mark against a long-term Council job finally completed. Not the way he imagined going, but he supposed it would do. Far better than some. His mind strayed, unbidden, to the girl in the bar, the one he’d failed to save. No, refused to save. You could only fail if you bothered to try.
The stabbing guilt nearly dropped him; she wasn’t an anonymous victim, didn’t go quick. He didn’t even try. But maybe he could save the others. He saw the Slayer gather herself for the fight; shouted desperately in response. "Wait!"
She didn’t hesitate, not really, just changed the speed of her motion, cold rage writ large across her features. "Change your mind about the assisted suicide? Tough shit." Her fist was a blur in the air as she struck at him, threw him staggering back toward the road.
He’d forgotten how hard those little fists could hit; his head rang for a moment, even as he instinctively moved. "Dammit, you have to listen. There’s people – there’s a bar up the road." He ducked her second blow, moving away from her grim advance. "Demon bar. Dozens of folks strung up in cages. Get ‘em out. I couldn’t…" He trailed off. Couldn’t wasn’t the right word.
"I know where it is," she spat. "Where do you think I was going? Figured you’d both be there, especially when your little friend wouldn’t give you up."
He went cold all over. "Dawn?" Oh, god, she’d found Dawn?
"That tall chick? Thought she was some kind of ninja?" Her lips curved in a nasty smile. "Friend of yours? Ooops."
His heart cracked wide; gone, she was gone. His vision narrowed; no self-pity, no guilt, no thought for Buffy or himself. Just white-hot anger releasing the monster from whatever flimsy pen he kept it in. His demon face rippled outward with a roar. He’d kill her, tear her to pieces, scatter her filthy heart on the blacktop. He lunged toward her with a cry.
She met him with a kick, overbalanced on the rocky soil, and dropped backwards, rolling out of the way of his grasping hands. As he turned to follow, there was an explosion of light that made the Slayer dive behind a rock; it filled his eyes and ears, till there was nothing left but white-hot brilliance. There was a tearing sound, a sense of falling, and a single shaft of slicing pain that left him gasping helplessly.
And then, he was just an empty shell.
The Slayer might have been new, but she wasn’t an idiot. She was on him in a second, stake aimed at his chest, striking before his wits returned. Intent on him, she rode him to the ground, oblivious to what was happening beyond the immediate curtain of rain. So she never heard the car, or saw Buffy top the hill. When the rock bounced off her skull, she had just enough time to register surprise before slumping to the ground.
Spike’s vision hadn’t cleared, but he caught the comforting scent as Buffy dragged him to the car. The tires shot a shower of pebbles as she sped back towards town.
"You are way more trouble than you’re worth, Spike." Her voice was tight and angry. "What the hell did you think you were doing, fighting her? Killing yourself the slow way? Did you really think I was going to let you just run off?"
"I was…" His voice was halting, weary. "It’s gone."
"I don’t feel it anymore, the guilt. It’s gone." There was only blessed stillness where once that endless, harping voice had beat at him, made him hate his own existence. "The soul, Buffy. It’s gone."
His tone was mournful; it must have given her pause, because her eyes cut towards where he slumped against the door. "Well, that's a good thing, right? The Shaman guy said something about a threshold period - you might be a little disoriented at first, but you'd remember. Eventually. Which you'd have known if you hadn't taken off like a big baby."
He slowly became aware of the road stretched out before them, the lights of the city slipping by, faster and faster. "Where are we headed?"
"Out of this one-horse town, and back to someplace with some real shopping. Why?"
"For what? You're not thinking of going back there, are you? God, Spike, what is it with you and Slayers? It's not heroic, or anything, just for the record. It's just creepy." She spared a hand to stroke his hair. "Don't worry, you'll be strong soon enough. A few regular meals, a little fun, some sparring - god, I've missed fighting you - and you'll be as good as new. Better, actually, cause you'll be with me. Then we'll go back and kill her. Together. It'll be fun."
"I said, turn around." His eyes were hard, glittering from a strangely feverish face. "Back to the apartment, I need to go back. Do it."
"Oh, Spike, don't be-"
"Do it now, you stupid bitch! There's something I have to -- just do it." He spat the words at her, his mind whirling with pain and anger. Leave town? He wasn't going anywhere. He'd kill that little teenaged girl; he'd killed others. No quick warrior's death for her, though. He'd leave her a long smear on the road, and sprinkle Dawn's ashes over her mangled corpse.
It didn't take long. Two quick turns to the right, and there they were. The door hung crazily askew on its hinges; Spike was surprised the police hadn't been called. He supposed they would be come the morning. He'd have to take whatever he could carry when he went. They couldn't go back to the bar, either, not for a couple of days. The stairs felt like they went on forever; his feet didn't want to go up and see.
"What the hell do you need that was important enough to come back here for?" Buffy asked.
"Dawn. She - the Slayer - she said she killed Dawn. I want…" Wanted something of hers, a photo, a keepsake. Something to hide on him, remind him of his girl. He stood in the doorway, looking at the remains of his life. The furniture was in pieces, television smashed, cabinets gouged. The smell of blood hung heavy in the air. Bit gave as good as she got, it appeared. His voice was thick as he said, "She made a good vamp, didn't she? Loved the chaos, the destruction." Loved me, he thought, but didn't say. The only woman who had really loved him, he supposed.
"Oh, please, Spike." He could hear the eyeroll from where he stood. "She was just like you. So damn desperate to show off, have somebody like you. It's disgusting. I'm hoping this little soul-loss thing sucked the rest of the loser out of you." She shook her foot free of a tangle of cords. "Look, just get whatever you came to get and let's go."
"You don't care?" His fists clenched; he itched to hit something, kill somebody. "She's dead, and you don't care?"
"Yeah, she was my made-up sister and all around pain in the ass. I should care…why? Tell me what you're looking for, so I can help you find it and we can book it before little Miss Slayer 2033 gets back over here."
"Ashes. I'm looking for her ashes. Dawn's. I'm gonna….gonna make that bitch pay when I catch her."
"Oh, god. You and Angel, with your big artsy gestures." With a shake of her head, she strode past him to the hallway, heading for the bedroom. He saw her stop at the door, and she turned, a sly smile on her face. "This might do you for a souvenir, maybe. Kind of big to fit in a sandwich bag, though."
He didn't want to see. He was afraid to see. Buffy was smiling, that cruel, happy smile he'd spent so long repenting. At least that part was over. Unwillingly, he moved to the bedroom door.
The smell hit him first; it was overwhelming. And everywhere that his eyes looked, there was blood. Spattered on the walls, and dripped along the floor, sludgy footprints circling the room, half-dried in sticky blotches. Whose blood, he didn't know. Didn't want to know, to think about it. He shoved the grief down underneath his rage. His gaze swept the floor, looking for that tell-tale grey film, the remnants of the girl that he'd had. He didn't see the body on the bed. Not till Buffy gave him a shove, and he stumbled into the room, dragging his boots through the markings. He caught hold of the dresser, and he saw.
Saw the pole, first. It ran her through like she was a pig on the spit, all the way through bedclothes that were soaked, still wet, with blood. Thin limbs, ghost-white, trailed off the edges of the bed. The bed was littered with wooden crosses, atop red blisters where they'd burned for hours now. Great patches of her hair were missing, where it had been ripped out by the handful, and her face was bruised, and swollen. But still he recognized her: Dawn.
The keening, groaning sound that forced its way out of his throat he'd made only once before, in the predawn streets of Prague. He was there in an eyeblink, reaching desperately for her. She was cold, so cold, and he shivered at the touch. The pole was pulled out, thrown hard against the wall; she'd so little blood left inside her that the wound barely oozed after its removal.
He felt coldness on his face; he was crying, couldn't stop crying. "Dawn, sweet bit, come on, wake up," he whispered. He had to get her out, get her some blood, find a safe place for her to heal. Over his shoulder, he snapped out orders. "Get some towels, and a change of clothes. There's bandages in the bathroom. Bring them to me, and then take her clothes to the car. I'll…" His voice broke. "I'll wrap her up and get her in the car. We've got to get her out." He lifted her from the bed; crosses slithered to the floor. She hung, unmoving, in his arms, his face buried against her shoulder.
From behind him, there was silence, and then a drawled response, "You've got to be kidding me." There she stood, pert nose wrinkled in disgust, and arms folded tightly across her chest. "For god's sake, Spike. We don't have time. The little bitch will be suiting up and coming for us just as soon as she shakes off that headache. We've got to get the hell out of town and find someplace for you to get ready. We can't be dragging around a big corpse; it'll slow us down. What, did the de-souling brain-damage you, or something?"
"I'm not leaving her." He gripped her tighter, felt her blood soaking through his t-shirt. "She's not dead yet; she can be fixed."
"Yeah, maybe in six or eight years. Or, I don't know, maybe never. How many years did you drag around that slut Drusilla? Thirty, forty years? Screw that. Put her down and let's get the hell out of here."
"You'd abandon her, wouldn't you? Just pitch her out like garbage. Well, I won't. She's mine, she's only ever been mine. I won't leave her to die." She'd leave Dawn, course she would. Like she left before, like she left him every single time. Never did care for anyone but herself, even when she was alive. He'd been a bloody fool to think that anything would make a difference. "Go on then," he grated. "Get out. We haven't needed you for years, we don't need you now."
"If I wasn't dumb enough to argue with you, I'd already be gone. She's been squeezed out like an empty yogurt container, Spike. There isn't enough there to keep her brain on-line, even. She'll be a fucking vegetable for years." There was a long, tense silence between them. "Fine. Get caught for all I care. I'm out of here. When you get over your fucking martyr complex, look me up, ok?"
She turned on her heel and was gone.
He made a sound something like a choking sob as he lifted her from among the crosses. Carried her to the living room, to lie on the couch, and ran for bandages. His fingers were clumsy as he tried to open them; they slipped from his hand, just as the door flew open. It was Buffy, her eyes shining yellow.
"She's here, damn it. Coming up the street. She'll be here in a few minutes. Where are your weapons? We're going to have to fight it out."
He stared at her for a long moment, but said nothing, just stood hovering over Dawn's still form.
"Are you deaf? Weapons? Where?"
She flew after them, wrenching the door open and reaching for the largest axe within. He watched her absently, almost as though she were someone else, someone he didn't know, and then looked down at Dawn's battered body. He made a decision.
She weighed almost nothing, light as a feather, though her long legs dangled over his arms to bounce against his thighs. He ran down the hall, left the door open on Buffy's search for weapons. To the right, third door. The only neighbors left who would speak to Dawn, tried to talk her into finding god, or some such. He hoped they were as stupid as he'd always thought they looked. Pounding wildly on the door, he began to shout. "Help! Please, god, help me!"
The door opened just a peek, the chain crossing the concerned face within. "Please, help us! It's my girl, she's hurt - hurt really bad, I think she's dying! Please!" He didn't have to manufacture the urgency or fear; he was sick with it. There was a whispered conference, and the door was thrown wide. The thin woman - Angie, his mind supplied - said, "Oh, my god, of course, come in!" She shut and locked the door behind her. He was babbling, spinning some story about men that he owed money, and how they'd tracked him here, threatened them, broken in to murder Dawn. He saw the wife touch Dawn's body, shake her head.
"I'll call the ambulance," she said, and left the men alone.
Her husband (Walter? Will?) took him aside, one hand light on Spike's dark sleeve, to whisper the dreadful news, your girlfriend is dead. Teeth sharp and eyes aglow, Spike said, "Yeah, I know."
He caught the wife as she dialed the phone. One quick blow to the back of the neck, and she crumpled, out like a light but heart still pumping. He carried her swiftly to the bed, and held her over Dawn, slit her throat so that the blood ran down into Dawn's mouth. Might not help much, but anything she could get inside could only help her. He drank some, too, felt his body healing and the leaden weight of his limbs begin to lift. Now he was ready to go.
He showered, changed some of his clothes. He wouldn't leave the coat, but his bloodstained clothes would surely bring attention. He washed Dawn's face, stripped her ruined clothing and bound her puncture wound with clean, dry towels and tape. The wife had been about Dawn's size; he dressed her in the loosest outfit he could find. The neighbor's wallet and car keys were easily found; they been so neat and clean. Always wanted to help Dawn, that's what she said. Well, now they had.
The sounds of battle were apparent even before he opened the door. This wasn't Sunnydale; the police would be here any minute, and it wouldn't go well for any of them if they were here when the cops showed. He slipped out, Dawn cradled in his arms, and slid warily down the first step. In their old apartment, two women moved, perfectly matched, trying to kill each other. Buffy caught their scent; he knew she did, because as he went down the stairs, he heard her voice, raised in fury, "Spike, you asshole, get in here!"
He didn't hesitate. Down the stairs, easing Dawn into the back seat, covering her with a blanket against any stray shaft of sun. The sky above was flat and grey, rain still sheeting down. He'd find a parking garage to hide them until tonight, and then they'd move someplace far away. Someplace he could take care of his girl.
He didn't see the stake rammed home, Buffy's features dissolving till nothing remained but dust. He was long past caring how the battle ended. Either way, he was leaving with Dawn. There was supposed to be a hellmouth in Cleveland. He knew how to make her better.
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