25: Choosing Sides
Chapter 25: Choosing Sides
Almost to her house, Buffy could feel another vampire waiting for her in the shadows of the trees by the park. Spike.
Spike wasn’t Angelus. And if he was still feigning injury, then that probably meant he hadn’t had anything to do with Ms. Calendar’s death. But Buffy wasn’t too sure that Giles would see it that way. Right now Giles was liable to do anything, and she wanted to keep him as far away from her vampires as possible, until she made her own decision on what to do with them. If anyone was going to kill either of them, it was going to be her – and no one else.
Perhaps Spike could serve as her sounding board, help her separate truth from falsehood. He’d offered to help her dust Angelus before. Would he still be in favor of such an action, or would he try to talk her out of it?
They fell in walking together. Buffy didn’t say a word. She wanted to see what Spike had to say first.
“I had nothing to do with it, Slayer. Stupid Ponce still thinks I can’t even stand. Angelus had that bright idea all on his own.” Apparently it was obvious that Buffy knew what had happened, and that she was just about ready to kill someone over it.
“I’m sure he explained that he never broke his promise to you,” Spike defended his Sire. “It’s a point of pride with him, the arrogant bastard. He broke her neck, didn’t drink from her. And of course he was right – she was dangerous. Now he actually thinks you’ll accept his excuses.” Despite Angel’s tenure with a soul, Spike still thought he understood humans better than either Angel or Angelus. “You won’t though – will you?”
“She’s dead Spike. And whatever else she was, she was my friend. Whatever the terms of the deal, Angel should have known better. That he could never blatantly kill a human and expect to get away with it. Especially not one of my friends.” Buffy blushed and apologized, “That didn’t quite come out the way I meant it to. It wouldn’t matter who she was. He killed her, and didn’t even try to deny it. Didn’t even try to hide it. Even if she really was a threat, then he should have come to me! We might have been able to work something out. I don’t know, find a way to distract her, or get her to leave Sunnydale. She didn’t have to die Spike!”
“That’s as may be. But I can see his point. He’s not wrong; the gypsy was a danger to you. If I felt that you needed protection… well… Let’s just say I wouldn’t let anyone or anything threaten someone I love.” Almost shyly he let his glance linger on the Slayer. “I wouldn’t want to take any chances.”
“But it didn’t have to happen this way, Spike. Even if Ms. Calendar knew what was going on, even if she told Giles, they would never be a threat to me. It wouldn’t come to that.”
“Wouldn’t it, Pet? Care to bet your life on that?” Spike grabbed her arm and stopped Buffy from pacing, forced her to look him in the eyes. “Cause that’s what you’d be doing. Wouldn’t matter much what your Watcher did or didn’t do though, if the Council got wind of what’s been going on here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, come on. You think that they’re just gonna sit back and allow their precious Slayer to consort with the enemy? Even if they didn’t know the details, how far in your are, that you’ve been sleeping with us both… you’re tainted in their eyes. They don’t hold with Slayers who get too close to their work.”
“Angelus said something like that too. But how can you possibly know anything about how the Council would react? I admit that they wouldn’t be happy if they knew the whole truth, but what could they do about it? I’m the Slayer. They need me.”
“You’d be surprised at how much they don’t believe that.” Spike sat down on a nearby bench and pulled the Slayer down with him. “Listen, I’ll tell you a story, pet. I was stalking a pretty dark bird once, 20 – 30 years ago, back in New York. She was the best Slayer I’d come across, to that point at any rate.
“We’d fought two or three times, but neither of us was able to get the upper hand. Watcher had reported it, and they’d figured out who I was – knew I’d killed at least one other Slayer before.” Spike smiled in the dark, remembering. “That got them scared. And they don’t like being scared. They couldn’t understand why one or the other of us wasn’t dead. Why we kept coming to a stalemate. You know that’s not how things usually go. You slay or you get slain. End of story.
“Finally the Council of Wankers decided I must be playing games, trying to get the Slayer under thrall. Either that or else she just wasn’t a good enough fighter, was afraid of her calling. Either way, they had the same solution. Next time we fought, she was to make sure it was to the death. Hers or mine, they didn’t care. She’d either kill me, or else they’d do my job for me, and get themselves another Slayer.”
“You couldn’t know that.” Buffy couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Spike pursed his lips and shook his head. Then he explained. “I was stalking her, yeah. I was there listening, outside the window, when the Watcher got his orders. Stupid git made the mistake of telling the girl the truth. Passed on the order. Next time we fought, it was to be to the finish. She was not to retreat until one or the other of us was dead.” Spike snorted. “Like what she really needed was motivation! I still think that’s what made the difference in the end. It tore her up inside, that they had so little faith in her. Midway through, she just gave up fighting.
“I never told anyone this, but I think she let me kill her. That’s why I didn’t drain her – I wanted them to know that I’d never bitten her – she wasn’t under any bloody thrall. She’d always done her best to kill me. She was a right good fighter, one of the best. She did right by that Council of Wankers, and they were the ones betrayed her in the end….Funny thing is, I can’t even do a thrall. Never had the patience to learn it. Not even with a bite. Bit too much like cheating for my taste. But the almighty Council didn’t care. Soon as one bird bites it, another one rises. So what’s it really matter to them?”
It was going to take more than a few minutes for the Slayer to process the Council’s duplicity. Instead she focused on the part that might relate directly to the here and now. What had already happened, rather than what might happen in the future.
When she did speak it was in a small voice. “Can Angelus do it? Is that’s what wrong with me? He’s got me in some kind of thrall?”
“If you were, you’d be the last to question it. Besides, it’s not his style either. He wants you to choose it, Buffy. To choose HIM. He wants you to choose it of your own free will. I’m sorry, luv, but this mess you’ve gotten yourself into, you’ve only yourself to blame. Which is not to say that he isn’t damn persuasive when he wants to be.”
“But the bloodlust. Let’s not forget that.”
“Not denying it’s a right good kick in the gut, but it can’t make you do things you don’t want to do. Besides, you let things progress awfully far the other night without even a drop. So what’s your excuse now?”
“It’s just different, somehow. I know you both now. And not just in the Biblical sense. I know you as people. And I am not in the habit of slaying people I know.” Some how it was different when it was personal. Like Ms. Calendar’s death. It shouldn’t matter that she was a friend, but it did. Buffy tried to smile, “Besides, it’s not like I’m turning evil, I’m helping you both learn to be good.”
Spike just looked at her.
Buffy sighed. “They’ll never believe that, will they? The Council. Certainly not now.” Buffy thought some more. “I should tell you to leave, to walk away. Only I don’t think that you would, and I’m not sure that I could let you go. I don’t want to have to kill you, Spike, but I really don’t see a good way for this to end.”
“You know your pillow talk could use some improvement, Slayer. If either of us wanted you dead, pet, you’d have been dead a long time ago. Could cut us some consideration for that at least.”
“That’s why I’d let you leave.”
“Umm.” He pulled the Slayer closer to him on the bench, and buried his nose it her hair. He loved the smell and feel of her hair. “Somehow I think you’re right. I don’t see Angelus ever willingly giving this up.”
She pulled away from his embrace and let her hand cup his face while she searched his crystal blue eyes. “And what about you, Spike? Would you leave if I asked you to? Could you leave me?” She had always thought of herself as in love with Angelus. She had never realized until now just how deeply her feelings for Spike ran. Briefly, she wondered if it was just her and Spike, whether they could find a way to make it work.
Spike considered the slip of a girl pressed up against him. His first thought was to say no, that he’d never willingly leave her. But as he thought about it, really thought about it for the first time, he considered. The consequences of their actions – what her Watcher would do, what the council would do, and the fact that he had already given his word that he wouldn’t let Angelus turn her- he couldn’t see any other way for this to end happily for her. He took her hand in his as he looked away.
“Yeah, pet,” he sighed. “If that’s what you wanted. If that was the only way to make this come out right for you. I’ll do what you want.” Damn, he didn’t want to walk away from her. He wanted to keep this girl forever, as his alone if she was willing to get rid of the Poof.
She held him tight. “God, Spike I don’t want to lose you.” His heart soared as she said the words, so close to what he longed to hear her say. But it turned to ash as she continued. “I don’t want to lose either of you.” Spike hoped she meant him and Giles, rather than the Poof, but it wasn’t clear. “I don’t know what else to do. If what you say is true… Giles, the Council. They’re sure to figure it out eventually. Just all of us still inhabiting the same town must be suspicious to the Council, if they’re at all like what you said. And after Angelus murdered Ms. Calendar, Giles is not gonna turn a blind eye to this. He’s gonna want revenge …”
Buffy sat up so suddenly her elbow hit Spike in the eye. “Giles doesn’t know about the mansion, but he does know that a bunch of you hole up in the old factory. He’ll go there. Oh, God, Spike! He’s gonna go after Angelus himself!”
How could she be so stupid? Without a backwards glance she sprinted away from the park, leaving Spike to wonder whether she was running to try to save her Watcher, or her lover.
Buffy could only hope that she would be in time to stop a confrontation. Giles at his best was no match for Angelus, and with the state he was in now… it was suicide. Her home was closest. From there she could get her Mom or Xander to drive her over to Giles’s apartment.
The short ride seemed to take forever. Hoping she wasn’t too late, she crossed the yellow tape and entered the flat, Xander, Willow and Cordelia at her heels. It was no good. The apartment was empty. Giles was gone. So were his weapons.
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