by Megan & Schehrezade
It was mid morning and the Scoobies were gathered together in the Magic Box to discuss the shredded Bot situation.
Giles flipped the sign over signalling that the shop was closed; blatantly ignoring the glare that Anya gave him. "It's only for an hour or so," he muttered defensively as he rejoined the others at the research table.
"We have to address the problem of Spike destroying the Bot. Until now we have managed to cover Buffy's d...Buffy not being here with that infernal machine. But now that it's a pile of scrap metal, the demons are going to know that the Hellmouth lacks a Slayer’s protection." Giles sighed wearily. "We need to find a solution- and rather urgently - otherwise it will be chaos out there." He gestured with his glasses to the shop front, then laid them down in front of him in a distracted manner.
"Spike really needs to learn some control," Anya huffed. "I mean, really. What are we going to do now? We need a Slayer! Xander is not built for being pounded every night...well except...Mmphh!" Anya glared over the top of Xander's hand that was now pressed firmly against her mouth and rolled her eyes at him, before finally nodding in acquiescence and sat back quietly.
"Yes, we do need a slayer, Anya." Giles chose to ignore the rest of her comments. "However, we are at an impasse here."
"What about Faith?" Tara hesitantly offered. Her contact with the dark Slayer had been limited to the one occasion that she had swapped bodies with Buffy. She had heard from Willow that Faith had voluntarily turned herself into the LAPD and was serving her sentence, which sounded hopeful. The gentle Wiccan followed the White way and felt that all who tried to redeem themselves were allowed a second chance. "Could the council possibly..."
"No way!" Xander exclaimed as his hand shot to his throat. Shuddering in fear, he could feel her long fingers digging into his windpipe as she straddled him. If it hadn't been for Angel's timely intervention with a baseball bat then, he could have easily been another victim of Faith's.
Willow frowned, trying to suppress the feelings of inadequacy that were evoked at the sound of Faith's name. She knew it was a hangover of her timid teenage years in high school. She had always felt threatened by the dark haired slayer because of her closeness with Buffy and their shared slayer heritage. Something she could never fully understand or be able to share with her best friend. In the deepest, darkest recesses of her soul, Willow had rejoiced at Faith's fall from grace. But now it was time to be mature about things, they needed help and fast.
She looked over at Giles. "Could the Council spring her?"
"I imagine they could, but what assurances would we have that Faith would help and not turn to evil?" Giles slipped his glasses back on and gazed worriedly at Willow. He had always felt he had failed Faith and the idea of her coming back to Sunnydale was not something he relished, but the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few.
"Another Slayer? Hmm…Oh! I know! I know!" Anya held her hand up and bounced
in her seat excitedly, her enthusiasm immediately pushing any further thoughts of Faith out of the other's minds.
She turned to Xander and whapped him across the back of the head "and stop thinking about sex with other women, Alexander Harris! Especially ones that try to kill you after sleeping with you …” Anya had managed to get the full story of Xander’s de-virginizing at the hands—well, body-- of Faith from Buffy and Willow one night in the Bronze. She had been curious about Xander’s sexual experiences before her, and it read like a Hammer House of Horrors guest list. Willow had made a flip remark about Xander and Faith and of course Anya had been hooked. She had grilled Buffy until she spilled, and Willow had sat there pouting, realising that her attempt to throw a spanner in the works had failed.
"Hey! No hitting of the Xan-man! and Ahn, soooo not thinking of sexage with the homicidal Slayer, trust me!"
"Good. Now shush, I have a brilliant idea!" Anya's eyes glittered with delight.
"Oh, out with it, Anya, please!" Giles grumbled.
"We need a Slayer, right? Well, think outside the box, guys!" Anya exclaimed excitedly.
"What box, hon?" Xander frowned in confusion. Tara smiled fondly at Xander, her face lighting up with a genuine warmth that calmed whoever witnessed it.
Anya rose and began to pace. "Willow, you recall when we first met, right? You tried to help me get my necklace back?" Anya looked over expectantly at Willow.
"What has this got to do with anything, Anya?" Giles asked irritably.
"Honest to goodness, you people have no memories! Willow, do you remember your vampiric version?" Anya folded her arms and tapped one foot impatiently waiting for Willow to catch on to her idea.
The redhead's forehead was creased as she remembered all the events of those days and then she sat up with a start. She gripped Tara's arm hard in her excitement. "Do you still have the spell?" she yelped.
"What are you talking about?" Giles asked as he ran his fingers through his thinning hair.
"It could work, couldn't it?" Anya asked excitedly.
"I still have the spell. It's in the safe, in the office.”
"We'd need something personal of hers," Willow thought out loud.
"Honey, what are you two talking about?" Tara asked gently.
"What? Oh...Well, my vampire self," Willow explained as she mentally ran over what she could remember of the spell.
It had been her first contact with one of the darker aspects of magic - not as dark as the other ritual she was researching. Willow's eyes filled with guilt at the thought of what she had begun to research. It was bordering on the darkest magicks she had ever used. Which was why she had never said anything to anyone, particularly Giles or Tara. Not until it was all ready to go, and since she had no idea how long it would take, Anya's idea would be an excellent stopgap until she was ready.
"What about your vampire self?" Xander interrupted her thoughts, drawing Willow back to the conversation.
"We can bring that Buffy through, Xander. She can be the one to protect the Hellmouth!" Anya explained.
"There's another Buffy?" Xander's faced filled with the conflicting emotions of hope and sorrow.
"Of course! There are probably several in different dimensions, silly!" Anya rolled her eyes impatiently at her secret fiancée.
"Mr Giles, what do you think?" Tara looked over at the silent Watcher.
"I think that it is an appalling idea. What about the people in that dimension? They need a Slayer.” Before he could continue Anya interrupted him with a wave of her hand.
“Pish to that, Rupert. Just before you smashed my necklace - which, by the way, I am still mad about-- the Master snapped her neck. We can just pull her out a few seconds before she dies.” Anya nodded decisively. As far as she was concerned, they needed Buffy and this was as good an idea as any they were likely to come up with. She silently thanked the gods that despite her amulet being destroyed Hallie still considered her a friend and dropped in for a chatter every now and then. It had been her fellow Vengeance demon who had filled her in on all the events that lead up to the sorry reason for her becoming mortal. As Hallie had begun telling the tale, slowly the lost memories had returned and Anya remembered everything. It was invaluable information, which would probably save their lives now.
“She died?” Tara interjected sadly. “Like ours?”
“Hallie mentioned it in passing. Yes, the other Buffy died,” Anya answered softly, realising that her mentioning the passing of the other Buffy had reminded the other Scoobies of their loss. She knew that hearing about another Buffy dying was not good, but she was a practical girl. They needed a Slayer – and if it meant yanking one out of another dimension, then so be it. In a way, they’d be saving her as well.
“Hey, if this is such a powerful spell, why don’t we just bring our Buffster back?” Xander looked over at Willow and Giles hopefully.
There was a moment of silence while they all considered the possibility.
Eventually Willow sighed and broke the silence. “It’s a good idea, Xander. But from what I remember the spell is worded in a way where only something from another dimension can be brought over…”
Giles nodded in agreement. “Yes, I imagine it to be so. I will need to review the spell, Anya.”
“Sure, I’ll get it now.” Anya disappeared into the office and almost immediately reappeared, a crumpled sheet of paper clutched in her hand. Handing it over to Giles, she glanced over at the closed door.
“Can we open the shop up now?” she smiled brightly.
“Thank you,” he muttered as he read through the incantation. Willow and Tara came over and read it over his shoulder.
“In a moment, Anya. We need to discuss the Spike situation.” Giles rubbed his forehead tiredly and handed the sheet of paper over to the two wiccans for them to study.
Memories of standing over the grieving Master vampire with a stake in his hands still chilled him. “Something needs to be done to break him from this destructive cycle he’s in.”
“I know, Giles. Buffy wouldn’t like it if we lost Spike.” Anya glanced over at the door to the shop and checked there were no hordes waiting to give her their money. “If he does succeed in dusting himself, I would miss him. We need to do something – anything.”
Willow took Tara's hand and began to speak.
"Yes, we do need to do something about Spike. It's getting worse - we can't keep guard over him 24-7. I...I...think he will eventually succeed in dusting himself...and well, we can’t let that happen. I don’t think Dawnie would survive another loss.” She took a deep breath and stared evenly at Xander. “I don’t think any of us could cope with losing another one of us.” She waited for Xander rant number one on the evils of Spike and how he wasn’t a member of the gang.
But she was surprised – pleasantly surprised- when. Xander nodded and gave her a half-hearted smile. “Yeah, Wills, he is one of us – okay, the evil black sheep of the family, but he is ours and Dawnie would never forgive us if we let the Big not-so Bad Vamp go poof!”
“Thanks, Xan – that’s really good of you.” Willow’s eyes filled with tears. They had all grown up in the last six miserable days since Buffy had leapt from the tower. Even the most narrow minded of them had accepted that Spike loved Buffy and Dawn. “I never thought you would accept him or that he could…” she choked and began to cry.
Tara ran her hand over Willow’s hair soothing her. “That he could love Buffy and Dawnie,” she finished for her distraught lover as she frowned at the wording of Anya’s spell.
“Man, I always said vamps couldn’t feel love, but after seeing Spike these last few days I…I…just don’t know anymore…” Xander looked down at his hands, feeling off for sympathising with a vampire – but Spike’s real grief had jolted him out of his knee jerk reaction that all demons equalled evil and unfeeling creatures. He recalled his words from the previous night and shook his head. Spike was dying because of Buffy, but instead of going out in battle with her, he was wasting away from a broken heart. A much harsher and more destructive way to die. Which, they had to somehow stop
“Aurelian Vampires are notorious for their ability to love,” Anya supplied. She shrank back at the looks directed at her. “What? Everyone knows this! Well - everyone in the demon community – it’s almost like they retain some essence of their humanity. Darla was obsessed with Angelus – she even left The Master’s court and followed Angelus after a century of following her Sire! Their relationship lasted for over a century and a half – well, until he sunk his fangs into the wrong gypsy girl, that is. And even then the level of her hatred showed the world her love for her Childe.”
She paused for a moment tapping her finger to her lip, “though I have to say, Angelus was an odd duck – he was more in love with torture and the suffering of his victims.” Her face brightened, “but look at Spike and Dru – he adored her and well, she adored her daddy…”
“And broke Spike’s heart and as a result, my head,” Xander interrupted.
“Hey, bottle in the face gal here!” Willow interjected.
“Indeed,” Giles added. “However, this still doesn’t address the issue of Spike slowly destroying himself – we need to find a solution fast. Willow can’t keep knocking him out with a spell…”
“Is there any way we could appeal to Angel?” Willow asked hopefully. “I mean, he’s Spike’s grandsire and might know what we could do?”
Xander shook his head. “Naa, Wills. Angel hates him even more than I used to.”
The remaining Scoobies sighed in unison as they pondered what to do with the grieving Master Vampire currently chained to the bed of his lost love and the one Slayer he had never managed to best.
Later that day…
Willow slipped quietly into Buffy’s room. The redheaded witch had left the others at the Magic Box and had come back to retrieve something personal of Buffy’s for her to use in the spell to call the other incarnation of her lost friend over to their dimension. They had managed to re-word the incantation to allow for them to pull the other Buffy through before she died at the hands of the Master.
Willow had volunteered to head over to Revello Drive and then meet the others at Spike’s abandoned lair in the burnt out factory. They had chosen to do the summoning spell there. It was out of the way and in the last place that the other Buffy had been before she had died, and they all felt a familiar environment was necessary.
She paused at the side of the bed and watched Spike as he slept. His drawn face was pulled into a mask of misery; the dark shadows under his lashes were a stark contrast to his pallor. Willow could see a faint network of blue veins under his skin, something she had noticed last night when they had dragged him up the stairs, ‘he’s really starving himself…’
His cheekbones were razor sharp under the parchment thin skin, throwing his sunken cheeks into sharp relief. She spared a quick glance to his wrists, which still bore the marks of his fangs where he had tried to free himself. They weren’t healing- another sign that he was starved.
“Oh, Spike. What are you doing to yourself? You know Buffy would hate you for doing this.” Willow sank down onto the mattress and rested her hand on Spike’s head, stroking his dishevelled curls and marvelled at the love that the peroxide vampire had for her fallen friend.
The anguish that was pouring off him was almost palpable to the Wiccan. Willow reached down and gently wiped the tears that ran constantly down the recumbent vampire’s face. Soothing him with her gentle touch, Spike turned his face into her hand and sighed. For a brief moment the tears stopped, until Willow pulled away and they restarted as Spike whimpered at the loss of her touch.
“Don’t worry, Spike. We’ll fix it. I’ll get her back, I swear…just don’t tell, okay?”
Willow bit her lips anxiously, this was the closest she had come to sharing her idea of resurrecting Buffy, and she wasn't even sure how conscious the vampire was to hear her almost admission. Not even Tara knew what she was planning. The grieving Wiccan figured Anya’s idea would be a sufficient distraction for the other’s until she had the ritual ready to go – then she would tell them all. Well, not Giles, but she knew that she could get the others to help her.
Spike’s mind recoiled from Willow’s promise – he knew she was only trying to cheer him up by offering such an insincere promise, his Slayer was worm food – gone, never to been seen again. He mentally railed at her for offering false platitudes, but part of him shuddered at what she may be considering. ‘Leave her be, let her rest in peace. Red, luv, whatever you’re thinking, don’t… please, for the love of all that’s holy, please let her just be making nice for the sad git chained to the bed.’
“Just better be safe – can’t have you saying anything to the others.” Willow crumbled some Lethe’s Bramble over Spike’s supine form and whispered a chant of forgetfulness.
Nodding to herself, she turned and grabbed Buffy’s hairbrush and carefully extracted some fine long blonde hairs, tucking them into a baggie that she had extracted from her purse.
“Sleep, Spike.” Willow brushed her lips over Spike’s cool forehead and left the room quietly.
Spike’s hands clenched around the handcuffs, which bound him to the metal headboard and then relaxed as Willow’s magical suggestion of sleep washed over him, letting him descend into the blissful oblivion of slumber once more.
Dawn peeked out of her bedroom door and watched as Willow ran down the stairs and out the front door. She had been frantically reading through the spell book she had stolen from Giles and had finally found a spell to save Spike. She just needed to talk to Spike once more before she cast the spell, as she knew once it was done, she and Spike would never be able to grieve together again.
Determination filled her and she looked down at the book that she grasped in her sweating hands. Even though it meant losing their talks and the comfort she got from them – she knew it was the only way to save Spike. She had lost her mom and Buffy and there was no way she was gonna lose Spike, too. The youngest surviving Summers knew deep in her heart that Spike would eventually kill himself, and then she would really be alone.
Putting the precious tome down on her dresser, Dawn crossed the hall and into Buffy’s room. She liked to come in here – it was all she had left of her sister. Kicking off her shoes, Dawn lay on the bed and wrapped her thin arms around Spike and dozed off.
Spike shifted as the scent of Buffy got stronger in his nostrils, fighting against the magic that kept pulling him into sleep He forced his eyes open and a sad smile softened the harsh lines of his face when he saw his Nibblet curled next to him with her face tucked against his shoulder.
“Lil’bit, wot you doing?” he whispered. His voice was hoarse from drink and his screaming at the bot as he shredded her organic form.
Dawn yawned and stretched. She sat up and loosened the chains and cuffs that held her protector immobile. “Sorry, just was a bit tired after last night…are you okay?”
Spike stood slowly, still feeling the effects of the spell trying to pull him under. He shook it off, determined to not let this time with Dawn go to waste. He stretched and cracked his neck, feeling the heavy cloud surrounding his brain beginning to lift. He eyed his only friend and raised his scarred brow. “Okay?” he snorted and stormed out of the room. He could still hear dream Buffy’s words echoing through his head, stuck on repeat. He was nowhere near okay.
Dawn chased after him.
“Spike, wait! I’m sorry, it’s just I was worried you were gonna, you know…” she skidded to a halt at the kitchen door and watched as Spike lit a cigarette and puffed on it furiously. Behind him the microwave hummed as it heated a mug of blood.
“Don’t Nibs – leave me be, alright?” Spike puffed on his cigarette and stared blindly out the backdoor, watching the sunset.
Dawn wrapped her arms around her waist and sniffed her tears away. Determined that their last talk before the spell wouldn’t be an argument. “You want some Weetabix – Giles left some for you…” She shuffled over to a cabinet and pulled out the yellow box and handed it to her vampiric big brother.
Spike stared at the box in surprise – he was amazed at how quickly he had gone from being a reviled outsider to being one of the Scoobies. Giles’s gesture of providing Weetabix without moaning was just a small example of the change in his status – that and how they dragged his sorry arse back every night to safety.
“Ta, luv.” He reached into the microwave and pulled out the mug, crumbled a Weetabix into it and settled himself back to drink, ignoring Dawn’s eww face. He stared into the mug, the crimson blood liberally coated in crumpled breakfast cereal, which had given him a momentary sliver of pleasure. Now his stomach rebelled – he couldn’t do it – not even for Dawn. He slammed the mug down on the counter and thrust it away with a jerky movement. The blood spilled over the edges and dripped onto the counter. Marring the clean white tiles.
“Gross, Spike!” Dawn sank down onto one of the stools next to Spike and rested her head against his shoulder, drawing comfort from the ease at which they interacted.
“Not as gross as some of the crap you cook up and force feed me!” Spike retorted, a faint smile pulling at his cracked and chewed lips. Spike leant his head on the crown of hers and fumbled under the counter for a bottle he had stashed there the other day. His questing fingers found the narrow neck of the bottle and he pulled it out with a flourish, ignoring the grumbles that emanated from Dawn. He took a long pull on his preferred form of emotional analgesic.
“Hey, Buffy likes…liked my peanut butter banana pancakes.” Dawn winced at the closed off expression on Spike’s face at the mention of her sister. “Sorry, Spike. I didn’t mean too…I miss her too.” Dawn watched sadly as Spike drained almost the entire bottle of Whiskey.
Spike turned and wrapped an arm around Dawn and rested his chin on the crown of her head. “Me too, Nib…me too…” His body began to shake as he cried, and Dawn turned her face into his chest and cried with him. The two of them united in their grief for one last time.
Dawn eventually pulled away – it was time. “Spike, could you make me some dinner?” she asked hopefully. Knowing that she could slip upstairs while the vampire cooked and cast the spell.
“Turned into a soddin’ nanny, haven’t I?” Spike tried to smile as he wearily stood and headed over to the fridge. But he failed- instead, tears glided over his sharp cheekbones
“Thanks, Spike. I’m just going to go wash my face, be right back.” With that Dawn ran from the kitchen, leaving Spike to pull out the makings of a cheese omelette.
“Okay, Buffy. I know that you don’t like me messing with magic, but Spike really needs my help, so don’t be mad, okay?” Dawn looked up at the ceiling as she opened the small spell book at the page she had marked earlier.
She took a deep breath and began to chant. Dawn was relying on her residual keyness to help her with the casting – she was a mystical construct so Dawn was hoping that she would be able to make the spell work.
Let the object of heartbreak be forgotten
Aphrodite Goddess of love I call on you to remove the heartbreak of the one called William the Bloody.
Allow him to forget his love for my sister Buffy and no other.
Let his grief be healed and his yearning for his lost love the fallen Slayer be gone
So mote it be…
Dawn took a deep breath and hid the book under her bed. She was shaking at the powerful surge of magicks that had passed through her. The teen had not been expecting the power that had erupted from her as she chanted – but she figured that it must have worked.
Spike straightened and glanced around suspiciously. Something had just happened, he could feel it in his bones – but he wasn’t sure what it was.
“Oi, shortbread. Get down here, your nosh is ready,” he yelled.
Spike deftly served the fluffy omelette onto a plate and put it on the breakfast bar next to the glass of orange juice he had poured earlier.
“Jeez, I’m right here, Spike.” Dawn appeared in the kitchen and eyed the vampire closely. She could see the difference already. The fine lines that had been etched around his eyes and mouth had eased and Spike’s blue eyes were clear of the grief that had been a constant presence since Buffy had jumped from the tower.
“Right, grubs up.” Spike glanced out of the window and watched the sun set.
“Thanks, Spike.” Dawn tucked in hungrily as she watched Spike out of the corner of her eye. Spike rubbed his stomach absently; watching his girl eating her nosh was making him hungry. He hadn’t felt this starved since the early days of his chip, when he had first turned to the Scoobies for help. His demon began to surge and rail against the hunger.
His eyes flashed gold and his fangs itched to extend. With a growl, Spike threw open the fridge and yanked out a gallon carton of blood and drained it in seconds. Reaching for another he finished it off just as swiftly, gorging himself of the chilled blood.
Dawn watched Spike’s antics as she ate, secretly relieved that finally Spike was eating – she figured that he would need a hell of lot more blood to make up for all he had missed out on over the last few days. She made a mental note to visit the butcher’s and stock up for him.
Spike sat down and reached for the mug he had left on the counter, his pink tongue lapped around the edges cleaning up the sides and then with a satisfied groan he drained the lukewarm contents and chewed the soggy Wheatabix, unaware that he was making yummy vampy growls. Much to Dawn’s amusement, they settled into a comfortable silence, Dawn eating and Spike rubbing his for once full stomach.
Spike watched Dawn eat for a few minutes. “Look luv, you alright to stay here until the lover wiccans get back? – I need to head out and stake a few of me old mates.” Now that his hunger was sated, Spike wanted to go and release some energy fighting.
“Uh, sure – Willow and Tara should be back in a few minutes.” Dawn smiled tentatively as she heard Spike humming under his breath. ‘It worked, he’s feeling better…’
Dawn sighed as she watched Spike stalk out into the night. Feeling even more alone than ever now that Spike wasn’t mourning Buffy with her anymore, but at least she was comforted by the knowledge that he wouldn’t dust himself.
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