|Mask and Mirrors by pfeifferpack|
|Chapter #1 - Chapter 1|
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Masks and Mirrors
Spike was still smarting from the none too subtle cruelty of Harris’ taunts. Joyce Summers had meant the world to Spike. The woman who had entered his unlife axe swinging, had been the first person to treat him with any regard since his own mother. She had no illusions about the lifestyle that Spike lived at the time yet she had gifted him with her trust and friendship. No matter how long it might be before Spike became a coating of ash on some surface or be blown to the four winds he would cherish the memory of this lady. For once, this had nothing to do with his love for Buffy.
The funeral had been in the bright sunshine that forbade any vampire from attending. "Not that the poof would’ve wanted to say a goodbye. Joyce hated him and he knew it. Lady had taste as well as class," Spike smiled at the thought.
He had dropped by Brown Brothers mortuary to pay his respects the night before. Those breaking and entering skills still proved a plus for the vampire.
He hadn’t dared to approach Buffy and if the reaction of her friends to his attempt to offer a small flowery token of his love for Joyce were any indication he’d been wise. "Miserable Whelp sayin’ it was about my ‘pathetic obsession’. I didn’t even want Buffy to know they were from me. Harris can’t stop my puttin’ ‘em on the lady’s grave though," he thought as he approached Joyce Summers final resting place.
His smile faded as he neared the grave in his second attempt at a floral remembrance only to see his grand sire and Buffy cuddled together under a tree. Angel appeared to be offering his brand of hit and run cold comfort to the grieving girl. Spike once more threw his bouquet of flowers to the ground and stalked off into the night. "Least I actually cared for the lady. Not hanging about to score points with the slayer. Bastard probably won’t even stay to make sure Buffy and Dawn’ll be okay. Chit’s got a lot on her plate, hell god on her heels, lost her mum, and now the Poof has to show up to mark his territory!"
Spike sighed deeply and admitted to himself that he didn’t really mind Angel’s visit as long as it helped ease the pain he knew Buffy was feeling, if only a little. "Wouldn’t hurt the bugger to sick around a bit, make sure the ‘love of his unlife’s’ gonna make out okay. Maybe add his great bulk in the fight against Glory, protect the Bit. Wanker wouldn’t even have to sniff around temptation, could just stalk the girl like he did in the beginnin’. Buffy wouldn’t even have to know he was still here."
The grief filled, pissed off vampire turned and headed for his own cemetery and a date with the sulks. He’d check on his girls later when he stood a better chance of actually getting within a city block of either Summers girl.
Dawn had chosen to go and stay in Willow and Tara’s place after the funeral. Buffy was being all stoic girl and Dawn needed to emote. The two witches seemed to really get her need and let her rant and cry as much as she needed to.
Dawn was bereft and more than a little lost. Joyce was her anchor to this entire world.
Finding out that all her memories were false and that she really was some weird swirling energy thing had taken a toll on the girl. Joyce’s continued love and constant reassurance of Dawn’s place in the family, in the world, had been the only comfort the adolescent had and now that was gone.
Dawn knew that Buffy loved her, the monks had made sure that she would. That was the whole point really, how real was love that some guys in cowls ordered ready made?
The only person Dawn had made her own memories with, her own relationship, was Spike and that was just a beginning friendship.
Dawn had missed his presence at the funeral. It seemed wrong that he wasn’t there to say a last goodbye. Dawn knew that Spike genuinely cared about her mom, had visited often even when Buffy was living in the dorm.
Tara offered her motherly warmth and comfort and Willow raged with her over the injustice of such a bright light being snuffed too early. Dawn felt as drained as any victim of a vampire attack without the sweet release of death.
Dawn had rolled out her sleeping bag on the floor of the girl’s room but had yet to come anywhere near to sleep.
Willow wished she could just make everything better for the girl, for Buffy too. She had toyed with the idea of a spell earlier in the day; just a simple one to take the edge off the pain of loss, but Tara had been horrified at the idea. "You can’t use magic like that Willow! It’s wrong. People need to grieve, hurt and heal. It’s a natural part of the cycle of life. It wouldn’t be fair to Buffy or Dawn. Besides, Joyce deserves the emotions of her daughters to be real. They’ll get through this. We’ll help them, but not with spells and rituals."
Somehow seeing the distraught teen struggling with those natural emotions made Willow wonder if Dawn might just thank her if she decided to ignore Tara’s wise advice. "Oh, Dawn, I wish I could help more. The only thing is … it’ll get better. I promise."
Dawn looked up at her sister’s best girlfriend and glared at her. "You don’t know that." Really! How much better could things be expected to get? Dawn’s mom was gone, her sister was a cold block of ice and there was a crazy hell god trying to do who knows what to her! Dawn sniffed back tears and tried to accept Willow’s platitudes in the spirit intended but just couldn’t swallow the lie.
Tara understood some of what Dawn was feeling having lost her own mother some years before. She smiled tenderly at the girl and tried to lighten the mood somewhat, "Sure she does. We’re witches, we know stuff."
Ordinarily Tara’s gentle manner would have made Dawn smile at least but her pain and fear ran too deep. "What? Life goes on, and I forget mom?" Dawn felt the anger build. "Is that what you’re saying?"
Willow was appalled at Dawn’s interpretation and a little miffed at the snarky voice she had used towards Tara. "Not forget, no! I ….., she struggled to find the right words.
Tara, as usual, knew just what to say. "You make a place for her in your heart. It’s sort of like she becomes a part of you. Does that make sense?"
Tara’s words were somewhat soothing but still the big gaping hole in Dawn’s heart ached to be filled with her mother’s love again. She looked at the magic supplies all over the room and suddenly she hit on a way to make everything right again. "I know what I wanna do now. You guys are witches, like you said. You do magic and stuff."
Willow brightened as Dawn seemed to be interested in something she could handle instead of messy emotions. "You want us to teach you something? Maybe a glamour! You could trick all your friends at school…or, or maybe make a stuffed animal dance."
Dawn looked at Willow as if she’d grown an arm from the top of her head, "I wanna do a useful spell. I want to bring mom back."
Willow’s mouth opened like a landed bass and all the magic in the world couldn’t supply the words she needed to respond to the teen.
"Of course you can’t mean to bring your mother back and I wish we could," Tara truly did understand the feelings that had prompted Dawn’s quest. "It’s not possible."
Dawn was undeterred, "Why not? You guys do magic for all kinds of things."
Tara tried to explain. "This is different. Magic can’t be used to alter the natural order of things."
Dawn snorted, "All you do is mess with the natural order of things. You make things float and disappear. Besides there’s nothing natural about losing your mom when you need her most."
Tara slipped an arm around the girl’s shoulders, "But we don’t mess with life and death. It may be awful and unfair, but it is natural and this isn’t the way."
Tara didn’t care for the look she saw flicker in Willow’s eyes as Dawn had made her request. Willow caught the look of caution Tara had given to her before she added her two cents. "I’m not even sure it’s possible, Dawn. I mean, I’ve seen things on resurrection, there’s books and stuff." Tara looked alarmed at Willow’s train of thought. "I guess the spells … backfire?" Willow looked to Tara for reassurance or maybe permission to take on the project, Tara couldn’t tell which.
Tara gave a determined look at her lover and reminded her, "That’s not the point! Witches can’t be allowed to alter the fabric of life for selfish reasons. Wiccans took an oath a long time ago to honor that."
Dawn had a calculating look in her eye as she latched onto the pertinent parts of what the witches had said. In all those words the ones they had not said were that it could not be done. "So, it’s possible to bring someone back? They wouldn’t have taken an oath if they didn’t know they could do it."
Dawn could see the answer on the faces of the girls. She could also see that they wouldn’t lift a finger to help her find the proper spell. Maybe Willow could be softened up, Dawn could see the idea of performing such a powerful spell appealed to the girl but there could be no help from Tara’s corner.
As Dawn’s hostesses headed for bed Willow passed the bookcase next to where Dawn lay. With a discreet circling motion of her fingers one of the books slid out of place sticking out from the other books.
Dawn saw the movements and the sly wink Willow had leveled at her as they left her alone to sleep.
As soon as she was alone Dawn pulled out the book that Willow had obviously wanted her to read. It was a general history of witchcraft. She looked at the index and whispered the chapter titles aloud, "Age of Levitation. War of the Warlocks. Resurrection, a Controversy Born." With the first smile since Joyce’s passing Dawn quickly opened to the section she wanted and began to read.
The next night Spike finally managed to bring his flower offering to Joyce’s gravesite. It was a peaceful location and he knew Joyce would have approved the choice. He placed his flowers under the temporary marker running his finger over Joyce’s name written there.
"Well, Joyce, ‘s me again. Bad penny and all. Eldest had a visit from the poof. Didn’t seem to help much, wanker left her again. Promise I’ll keep an eye on ‘em both whether they want me to or not, Joyce."
He paused to swipe at the wetness on his cheeks before continuing. "Not fair, ducks. I died a century ago and still standin’ here, worthless as ever. You had too many good years ahead of you to be in the ground permanent like."
The night wind blew his hair releasing the soft curls that Joyce had tried to get him to free from the confining gel. Spike smiled at the fancy that it was her hand loosening them now. "Always did say you wanted to release this mess from the goop. Never thought it was fair of you to say I used as much gel as the poofter though!"
"Speakin’ of the Summers women’s bad taste in men, that wanker you were married to hasn’t shown his face. Overheard Buffy tellin the witch she couldn’t even track the bastard down." Spike wished he could rid himself of the chip for an hour with Hank Summers for the pain he put these wonderful women through. "Don’t expect he’ll be strollin’ into town to take the Bit away, too much responsibility involved. I remember all those things you told me ‘bout the bugger. Still, that’ll let me keep a close eye on the Niblet, make sure she gets a good fella when it’s her time…..maybe another thirty years or so." Spike could almost hear Joyce chuckle at that.
"Anyway, plannin’ on figurin’ out how to deal with this Glory bint. Don’t want the Slayer havin’ to deal with the likes of her at a time like this. Watcher’ll not desert them either." Spike choked back a sob. "You don’t need to worry, Joyce, you can rest easy. I’ll take care of ‘em both, you’ve got my word."
The wind ruffled his hair again in a gentle caress and he just knew it was her response. "Thanks for carin’ about me; not a soul out there that does. Gonna miss you, fair lady."