Chp 6 Someone to Lean on
Splinters by Lilachigh
Chp 6 Someone to Lean on
“I think you’ve taught me everything I need to know!” Buffy shut her bedroom door in Giles’ face and leant against it, wondering if her legs were going to hold her. She couldn’t stop trembling; couldn’t quite believe what had happened.
Giles and Robin - conspiring to kill Spike! Okay, Robin, she could see why. A souless, unchipped Spike had killed his mother all those years ago. He couldn’t see past that to the Spike of today. Couldn’t understand that it wasn’t the same person under the black leather - which, being his mother’s coat really didn’t help.
But Giles? She felt nausea swell up at the back of her throat. Giles knew how important Spike was. In the battle against the First, he was her strongest warrior. And he knew more than that. He knew she thought the vampire could be a good man, knew that the connection between them was still there, strong and valuable to her.
How could he have done that to her? She felt bereft, abandoned. She sank down on the bed, staring unseeing round her room. What was it about her as a person that made men treat her in this way? Her father, Paker, Angel, Riley, now Giles whom she thought would have cut off his arm rather than toss her feelings aside like this.
“Their thoughts and feelings always come first,” she murmured out loud. “Whatever they say about loving or caring for me, at the end of the day, they truly believe that they’re right and I’m wrong. They always think they know best. Worse - they know they know best!”
Suddenly she needed so badly to talk to her mother. Even if Joyce hadn’t understood about Spike, even if she’d disapproved with every bone in her body, she would still have been on Buffy’s side one hundred and ten percent.
Buffy clutched at her stomach as a pain of longing shot through her. Oh god how she missed her. Her touch, the smell of her perfume when she kissed you, the softness of her cheek, the sparkle in her eyes when she’d had a good day at work. Her voice - praising, laughing, scolding, supporting, loving.
And most of all her hands; Buffy could see them so clearly: soothing, cooking, ironing, gardening, brushing her hair, tickling Dawn, tying up Christmas presents, decorating eggs at Easter. Pretty, hard working hands. She stared down at her own. They didn’t look like Joyce’s. Too rough, nails too short. They’d been scrubbed of blood too many times recently.
The burden of being the Slayer sometimes came bounding up out of the dark and draped itself round her shoulders like some dreadful iron cape. If her mother had been here, she would have lifted it off - if only for a little while. if she’d been here....
Running! Down the stairs, out of the door, into the dark Sunnydale night. The town flashed past her, the air cool on her face as she sped on. There was the gate, grassy paths, up a slope to where they’d lain her to rest looking out over the town, keeping a watchful eye on all of them, as Xander had said, his voice thick with tears.
And she was no longer alone. Strangely she wasn’t surprised to find him at the graveside, kneeling, the black coat spread around him like a carpet. His hands were buried in the thick grass and he was staring, motionless at the headstone.
Buffy knelt down beside him.
“Heard you coming a mile away! Should have left. Sorry, Slayer. I expect you want to be on your own.”
“No. Stay. Please.”
They were silent for a few minutes, then Spike said, “Funny how much I liked your mom, pet. She was special. I needed to talk to her tonight. Tell her....Ask her.... Woods brought it all back to me with that song - my mother, how ill she was, turning her, killing her. Not good.” He laughed - it wasn’t a happy sound. “She loved me, though. That’s as clear in my mind as if it was yesterday. As Joyce loved you and Dawn.”
Buffy reached out a hand and curled her fingers into his. She felt him flinch, as if he was going to pull away, then his grasp tightened and she remembered when he’d come to find her at this same grave just after her mother had been buried.
Everyone had wanted her to be strong - for their sakes. She hadn’t been allowed to grieve properly; she’d had to be calm and in control, especially for Dawn. Admittedly Angel had come after the funeral, but he’d gone again when her emotions had spilled over. Her father hadn’t appeared at all. And Giles had been in England. She’d needed someone to lean on, and, strangely, Spike had been there. As he was tonight.
“It helps to know that,” Buffy said at last. “But I still miss her dreadfully. So much it hurts. And tonight - Giles - you - he was deliberately distracting me, Spike. He’d planned it all with Robin. How could he do that to me? I thought he - ”
Buffy gave their linked hands a shake. “No, of course not, that’s the wrong word. But I did think he cared for me - a little, you know.”
Spike sighed. “He does, Buffy. In his stiff-upper-lipped, English way, Rupert cares for you a lot.”
“Then why did he act like that? Mom would never have gone behind my back. She would have trusted me - especially where you’re concerned.”
Spike turned to look at her, his eyes a tender silver-blue in the moonlight, his hair bleached to white. He swung round and sat cross-legged, facing her, his hand still tightly grasping hers. He had his own private thoughts about Rupert Giles and his feelings towards Buffy. He could sense the bitterness in the older man; the never resolved conflict of Angelus who’d killed the woman he loved, Jenny Calendar.
Buffy was the daughter he’d never had, but it was that daughter’s vampire boy friend who killed Jenny. Perhaps Giles could never trust another vampire not to do the same amount of damage, given a chance. Maybe in killing Spike he was exacting a sort of revenge on Angel.
“I’ve never understood why Joyce didn’t throw me out of the house every time I turned up. She had no trouble hitting me on the head when we first met. Remember?”
‘Nobody lays a hand on my little girl?”
He smiled at the memory. “She was such a brave lady. I loved my mother, but I can’t see her wielding an axe in my defence!”
Buffy found she was rubbing her thumb over the cool skin of his palm. She stopped alarmed that she could fall back into this possessive owning of his body so easily.
“Mom always liked you,” she said slowly. “She said....”
Spike looked up sharply. “Yes?”
‘She once told me - ‘he might be your enemy, but one thing I know for certain - when it really matters, he’ll always be there. And he’ll never, ever leave you’. Yes, she liked you, Spike. Perhaps - ” she hesitated, then went on, ‘Perhaps she saw the good man you’ve become, even before I did. Even before you knew yourself that you were changing.”
Spike closed his eyes and lifted his face towards the heavens. As Buffy watched, some of the tension drained away and he looked younger, boyish.
‘Oh Joyce, you were so right,’ he said at last. ‘I told her once, I would do my best to look out for her girls. And see, I’m still here, Buffy. Through good and bad, and let’s not pull any punches - there’s been plenty of bad - I won’t leave you. Ever!’
Spike jumped to his feet and pulled her up to stand next to him. He held up his hand and ticked off five words against his fingers with a reminiscent grin - ‘You - have - my - word - pet!”
Hand in hand they walked away from the grave, back towards town, back towards the First and the battle they knew would come only too soon.
* • • • • •
Funny what you remember when you’re double dead, Spike thought dreamily. Flames that tickle, light that burns into the heart of you, searching for a soul to set free.
Other things - Buffy’s fingers curling round his, the sheen on the Little Bit’s hair when she brushed it; the affection in Joyce’s eyes, Xander’s laugh, Giles turning into a demon, Andrew’s dog like devotion - further back, Dru and a hundred years of bloody mayhem, dangerous Darla, a brooding great Mick who wouldn’t now be needed to fight a second front and -
“Why the sodding heck aren’t I in Hell?” Spike pulled himself out of his dreams. It was misty, he was walking but couldn’t see his feet, or his legs or anything come to that. He was drifting through a fog; damp like the ones in Victorian London he could just recall, but at least this one didn’t make you cough.
He’d been expecting Hell to be, well, flames and brimstone and great pits, he supposed. He appreciated that his ideas were probably a bit story bookish, but he’d been educated as a staunch member of the Church of England until the day he’d met Dru. She and Liam had both been Catholic, of course, so their ideas of Hell were even more entrenched than his.
He wondered vaguely what religion Darla had been. Not a Quaker, that was for sure, although he remembered her feeding off a whole congregation of them once.
Anyway, no flames, not devils with pitchforks, just this bloody cold mist and, god it was boring! Had he died just to plod along like this for ever? Was this what Hell was.
“I reckon I’d prefer the molten lava and endless torture. Least see a bit of action. Bloke could go barmy wading through this for all eternity.”
“Honestly, Spike, do stop whineing. You’re not the only one who died today, you know. And some of us weren’t ready to go.“
“Yes, of course it’s me. Who else sounds like me? If it’s my voice, it must be me. I mean, it isn’t going to be Jennifer Lopez or the President’s wife, or - ”
“I can’t see you. When did you - what happened - God, I’m sorry!’
“I went just before you made the Hellmouth explode. Swish, right through me with a long, pointy sword thing. I suppose, if I was being picky, I could say that it would have been extremely useful if you’d done your amulet trick ten minutes earlier, then I would be on the bus on the way to Cleveland with Xander, rather than here with you.”
“Sorry. Hard to please everyone all of the time.”
A long suffering sigh was his answer. “No need to be sarcastic, Spike. My dying can’t be helped, I suppose. I fought as well as I could. I hope Xander is upset and grieving, but I’m sure it won’t be for long. Did you see the way that little red-headed would be Slayer was looking at him, yesterday? I’m not quite sure why she couldn’t have died instead of me. ”
“Who else - oh god, did Buffy - ? Dawn ?’
“Oh, they’re fine. On the bus, too. Lots died, but they’ve gone ahead. I had to wait around for you, which, believe me Spike, isn’t how I’d planned on spending my first day dead.“
Spike felt he was reaching out a hand towards her, but there was nothing but mist. “Where are we going?“
“Not far. You know what it’s like - you get the mystical instructions, the plan, the route, but never a proper explanation. I can’t even begin to reckon how much it all costs. The amount of administration involved is – “
“Anya, my little vengeance demon, is this Hell?”
“What? No, of course it isn’t. Why should I be consigned to Hell? I’ve become a very useful member of the democratic consumer society. I know all the words of all the verses of the national anthem. And just because I decided to revert to being a demon for a while, there is no need for those in authority to be touchy. You probably deserve to be in Hell, Spike, but I suppose because you’ve just saved the world, etc. etc. you’ve been given a sort of time out.“
Spike growled. Bleeding bloody bollocks, she could talk the hind leg off a donkey. Didn’t know how Long John Xander had put up with it all these years. “Time out for what?“
There was no reply. “Anya. Anya! I’m sorry. Come back. Anya!’“ He stood still and flailed around in the mist, but there was no one there. Just complete silence and a soft cloying whiteness that clung to a face he knew no longer existed.
For a minute he panicked. He was totally and utterly alone. The guy who liked people, his happy meals on legs, loved the buzz, the excitement of things going on all the time was now alone. This was his punishment, of course. No Hell, no flames, just being alone with no sound, no voices, no one in the entire world but him for ever....
OK. He shuddered and stopped flailing. He’d never grovelled to anyone either in his first life or his second. And he certainly wasn’t going to now. He would walk on. If this was his Hell, then so be it. At least the world was safe. And his girl would live a different life, a good life. He loved her so much and had given her what no one else could.
“They know that.” A gentle voice, like morning honey on soft white bread. A voice he hadn’t heard for a long time, but one he always remembered with warm affection.
“I don’t understand.”
“They know that, too. Anya has brought you as far as she can. I have to take you a little further.“
“Are you OK? We all miss you. What happened - I was away at the time. Don’t know if you know. I’d have gutted Warren and strangled him with his own entrails if I’d been in Sunnydale. Although Red did well in the end, although I suppose it wasn’t right for her to try and end the world as well.”
He thought he could hear Tara giggle, but decided it must be a ringing in his ears from the explosion at the Hellmouth.
“I think you’re supposed to be thinking good thoughts, Spike, not talking about entrails and strangling.“
“Oh, sorry! But hey, vampire here, can’t think that a few good thoughts now are going to outweigh a lifetime of murder and mayhem.”
“You were in Africa getting your soul when I died, weren’t you?”
“Oh, you do know about that, then?”
“Why did you think you needed one, Spike?” Tara’s voice was as gentle as ever but, he realised, the stammer had gone.
“Well - always a nice thing to have, luv. And Peaches has one, so why shouldn’t I?“
“Warren had a soul.”
Spike batted again at the mist. If only he could see her face. If only he could see something instead of sodding white cotton wool!
“Oh god, he’s not around, too, is he. I don’t think I can be trusted not to kill him all over again. Are you saying it was all a waste of time? That it doesn’t matter if you have a soul or not.”
“No, Spike. I just feel that a soul gives you a conscience, but you had one of those before. And you didn’t go and fight for one just because of Angel . Let’s face, it, no one is that petty and over eight years old.”
Spike raised a scarred eyebrow in her general direction, glad suddenly that she couldn’t see him. Tara’s belief in the general goodness of people was alarming. Even getting shot didn’t seem to have dented that at all.
That was weird in itself. Did that mean that when you died, you just went on the same person as you were before, making the same judgments and the same mistakes about people. Bloody hell, did that mean he was going to have to meet all the people he’d killed over all these years and have long, meaningful conversations with them?
“They’ll need a sodding great football stadium to put them in if I do,” he muttered.
Spike knew quite well why he’d gone seeking his soul. The reason was a small, slim, brave woman back in Sunnydale. His grandsire thought he’d done it just so he could go on having sex with her. Spike knew he was wrong. He’d done it out of love.
“So - you were sent to meet me?” he asked into the mist. “Why you, pet, if you don’t mind me knowing?”
“You need a guide. I thought a friend would make the journey less - painful.”
‘Well, you’re certainly less annoying than Miss Ex Vengeance Demon,”’ he said dryly.
“How long is the journey? Where are we going?”
“Time doesn’t have much meaning here, Spike. I look down at Willow and feel it is only yesterday we were together, but she has moved on now. And I’m sort of glad.”
“Only sort of?”
“I’m not an angel, Spike. I want her to be happy, but I don’t like - ’
“She’s very brave, I suppose. I was never brave. Willow likes brave.”
Spike yawned. He felt he’d been walking for hours and no offence meant, but the whys and wherefores of lesbian lovers weren’t at the foremost of his thoughts at this precise moment. “So, I’m going to a meeting,” he broke in at last as Tara was listing all the things about Kennedy that made her right for the witch.
“Two people need to see you, urgently - before - before - ”
Spike groaned. “Before I go down to Hell, is that it? Okay, bring them on.”
And he clenched fists he couldn’t see and felt his face change as his fangs lengthened. Whatever was about to happen, he’d go down fighting to the very end.
to be continued
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