Chapter Twelve-Nothing Ever Stays in the Past
Chapter Twelve: Nothing Ever Stays in the Past
The door leading out from the Summers’s kitchen to the backyard swung open as a crowd of physically exhausted Potentials swarmed into the house. Giles, who had been the last to enter, couldn’t help but grin smugly as he watched the group of tired teenaged girls trudge along to bed, too drained to protest the early curfew.
Locking the back door, he mentally patted himself on the back. It might have been ages since he had put his Watcher skills to use but he was anything but rusty. The aching groans and embittered mutterings coming from the girls as they set up their sleeping bags in the living room, eager to get to their remotely comfortable slumber, was testament alone to his skills as one hell of a Watcher.
Giles couldn’t remember the last time Buffy had truly needed any real guidance. A sad smile crossed his face. She really didn’t need him anymore and for that he honestly couldn’t be prouder. Hopefully it would be some time before Buffy arrived to that realization herself. For now, Giles was purely content playing whatever role she had set aside for him in her life, even if it was simply filling the position of surrogate father. He could live with that.
Andrew and Xander were quietly sitting at the breakfast bar, jointly munching on a bag of chips. “How were the recruits?” Xander asked with a mouthful of snack food.
Giles slipped into one of the chairs next to the young men. “The girls demonstrate much promise,” he optimistically stated. “Mind you, their strengths and agilities are no where near that of a newly chosen slayer, however, I did find that their combat knowledge and their enthusiasm to be quite refreshing.”
“You can thank Spike for that,” Andrew piped up. “He’s been like their Obi Wan,” he added, his eyes taking on a dreamy, glazed over quality. “A little reluctant at first but with a little time and effort, he was able to show them their first real taste of being warriors of the light.”
“Uhh…yes…so I’ve heard. More or less,” Giles replied, uncertain how to respond to the boy’s exaggerated admiration of Spike. “I knew he was assisting Buffy with the training of the Potentials but I was not expecting this level of dedication on his part.”
Andrew turned on his trusty camcorder and presented it to the Watcher. “If you wanna see what he’s already taught them, I got it on tape,” Andrew offered.
“Thank you,” Giles said as he took the camera, his eyes focusing on the device’s small screen.
Getting up from his seat, Andrew reached over the Watcher’s shoulder to press a button. “Just gotta rewind.”
Giles watched patiently as the images played in reverse, trying not to pay attention to the fact that Andrew was still looming over his shoulder. The annoyance instantly faded when he caught sight of a familiar figure on the tiny monitor racing out of what looked to be the front door.
“Wait a minute,” he spoke up apprehensively, playing around with the camcorder in his hands, trying to get the rewinding images to play.
“Oh, that footage still needs to be edited. It’s from this afternoon,” Andrew informed an uninterested Giles.
The image playing before him was that of a group of Potentials listening closely to Dawn as she lectured on about the histories and traditions of slayers. Dawn paused for a moment as the unexpected sounds of the slammed basement door and rapid stomps of footsteps loudly echoed throughout the house. The camera turned suddenly in the direction of the front door, just in time to catch Robin Wood dashing out of the Summer’s home.
“What’s up Giles?” Xander concernedly asked, seeing the solemn expression on the older man’s face.
“Robin left?” Giles asked in grave seriousness.
“It was weird,” Andrew answered. “Dawn was in the middle of her lesson when all of a sudden we see Principal Wood sprinting out of the house.”
“And you thought it best not to inform me?” the Watcher asked, clearly irritated.
Andrew paled slightly at the older man’s admonishment. “Uhh...we didn’t think anything was wrong. I figured he just needed some air. Things have been kind of tense lately,” he tried to defensively explain. “And Dawn didn’t tell you either,” he childishly added, trying to displace the blame on the Slayer’s little sister.
Giles exhaled with annoyance. From what he had seen on the camcorder, it would appear that Wood had slipped into the basement and then, sometime later, had fled from the house like a bat out of hell. Giles could only deduce that some altercation must’ve taken place between Buffy, Spike and the over zealous Principal. It would, however, require further investigating on his part.
The Watcher placed the video camera back on the counter. Getting up from his seat, he moved toward the basement door.
“Giles, where are you going?” Xander worriedly inquired.
“I believe that unbeknownst to all of us Robin Wood decided to pay Spike and Buffy a little visit,” Giles finally enlightened the two confused young men. “I need to check and see what damage has been done.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Xander openly doubted. “I mean…” He pointed to the healing gash on his forehead.
“I’ll take my chances,” the Watcher somberly responded. He wasn’t so much concerned with Spike’s unpredictable mental state as much as the possibility that Buffy may at the moment be weeping into a pile of ashes.
His trek out of the kitchen was abruptly cut short by the unexpected sound of ringing. With one last uncertain glance to the basement door, Giles picked up the phone.
“Summer’s residence,” he automatically answered, somewhat anxious to get off of the telephone to check on his Slayer.
A familiar voice greeted him. “Ah, Willow good to finally hear from you,” the Watcher said into the receiver, glancing over to Xander whose ears suddenly perked at the mention of his best friend’s name. “How was L.A.? Were you successful in assisting Ang—”
Giles paused as the voice on the other line abruptly cut him off, his brow furrowing as Willow began to speak at a rapid pace.
The room was dead silent, yet the witch’s frantic words were still muffled to Xander’s ears. Even though he couldn’t understand what was being said, he recognized the tone, which worried him since it was one Willow only used when she was really freaked. And if all mighty Wicca was scared then there really was something to be worried about.
“A girl? The hospital?” Giles repeated what he had just been told. “Alright. I’ll inform Buffy. Just get back as soon as the doctors inform you that the girl’s condition has stabilized,” he instructed. “Please hurry…uh…Yes, Willow?”
Giles listened intently as Willow went on to explain a bit of hesitant news. His expression gradually shifted from perplexed to bewildered to finally settling on distressed. Pulling the specs from off his face, the Watcher pinched the bridge of his nose. “Now I might have heard you incorrectly, Willow, but do you mind repeating who it is exactly that you are bringing back from L.A.?”
Xander strained to hear the barely audible response, but he simply couldn’t make out whose name had been uttered through the phone’s earpiece. He would have to get the details from Giles later.
Giles nodded as he put his glasses back on. “That’s what I thought you said,” he sighed, nearing vexation. “Yes, I’ll inform her. See you soon, Willow, and do be cautious. Who knows how many more servants of the First are out there.”
The Watcher warily hung up the phone.
“What did Willow say?” Xander restlessly inquired.
Giles turned to his gaze back on the basement door. Perhaps Wood’s intrusion had been harmless and Buffy had been successful in assisting Spike with the deactivation of his trigger. The Watcher could only hope that was the case because his Slayer would need all her wits about her for what was to come. Actually more like who was to come, really.
“Willow came across a girl who was apparently attacked by a subservient of the First,” Giles vaguely answered Xander. “We’re also to have a guest,” he ambiguously added. “I need a scotch.”
Buffy ran her fingers through the short hairs at the nape of Spike’s neck, his head resting gently on her shoulder. They had remained there, nearly motionless, since the confrontation with Wood for little over an hour. Spike’s sobs had eventually quieted and now the two were in a state of calm, silent comfort.
Then suddenly, without any real rhyme or reason, Spike pulled away from Buffy, surprisingly letting out a harsh chuckle. “You gonna hold this bout of girlishness against me too, luv?”
Buffy stared curiously at the vampire, closely observing the way his head was bowed in shame. She tentatively placed her hand on his knee, which caused him to slowly lift his gaze to hers. She smiled to reassure him. “This doesn’t count.”
Spike shrugged. “Even so, my sulking must be getting a little old,” he self-deprecatingly muttered.
“I don’t know,” Buffy replied, her tone light as she laid her head on Spike’s chest. “I kinda like being able to see you this way.”
The vampire pulled away once again. “Gee, thanks pet. Good to know my constant sniveling brings you some kind of morbid gratification.”
Buffy sighed in frustration. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Oh really? ‘Cos for a second I thought you just said that you like seeing me all teary eyed and weepy,” he incredulously accused.
The Slayer groaned. “What I was trying to say was that I like that you show me this side of you, you dope.”
“And you shouldn’t feel like your burdening me or that you’re a total wuss because all your so called ‘sniveling’ just means you trust me,” she carefully explained, her glistening hazel eyes focusing on the spellbound look on Spike’s face. “You’re the only one who’s truly seen me at my worst, Spike. I guess even in my darkest of moments, I trusted you.”
“So what’s all this trusting between us signify then?” Spike hoarsely wondered.
Buffy kissed him gently on the lips. “No more lies. No more secrets,” she whispered. “We can put all the horrible things we’ve done to each other behind us and finally be equals in this, Spike.”
Spike was utterly dumbfounded. Could he really let go of his guilt? He had always considered himself beneath Buffy, even though he wouldn’t have admitted to it before the soul had hammered away at his confidence. As much as he wished to be Buffy’s equal, to one day be considered worthy of her love, he knew that he never really would. He was a vampire after all, his hands forever tainted with the blood of the innocent. How could he ever be seen in the same light as Buffy?
Spike began to shake his head. “We’ll never be equals, luv,” he firmly disagreed, his voice filled with devastation.
The Slayer lifted her brow unbelievingly. “Didn’t I just say it’s all in the past?” she asked, aggravated by Spike’s stubborn self-loathing. “I’ve already forgiven you for what you did, William,” she stated softly.
He hadn’t said it outright but Buffy knew Spike was still dwelling on the incident last year in the bathroom. It was why he refused to see himself as the good man she knew he was.
“And what if I haven’t forgiven myself?” he sadly posed the not so hypothetical question. “What then?”
Buffy’s frowned. “Does this have anything to do with what the stone showed you?”
Spike grudgingly nodded. “It might.”
“Spike, what did you see?” she asked uneasily. “One moment you were just fine and then the next you’re biting me, which you’ve never…And then you’d switch between uttering complete psycho babble and going all space cadet on me,” Buffy slightly ranted, feeling herself getting flustered as her throat closed with emotion.
“I saw my mum,” he miserably told her.
Buffy expected as much considering Spike’s unexpected confession to matricide hours earlier. Wood had accused the vampire of being so callous in his lack of remorse over the killing of the New York based slayer all those years ago. It wasn’t that Spike was unremorseful about murdering Robin’s mother but he had another, more heart wrenching grief to contend with. It must’ve been that guilt which the First had used to keep Spike under Its thumb.
“And I saw you,” Spike bleakly added.
Buffy’s suspicions were confirmed. The First had also used Spike’s guilt where she was concerned to control him too. She wasn’t surprised by this admission yet there was one thing that still confused her. “How am I linked to your mom?”
Spike bowed his head in disgrace, unable to look Buffy in the eye. “‘Cos I hurt her like I hurt you,” he said gruffly. “I tainted you and like I tainted her, with my presence in your lives. I…I violated the both of you.”
Buffy was taken aback by Spike’s last statement. He had warned her once that she never truly knew the real him, that she had no clue of the evils he was capable of committing. He had told her but she had refused to believe him. Now she was faced with the possibility that Spike might have raped his mother before he had killed her. The thought of such a crime naturally repulsed her, making her stomach involuntarily churn. She prayed she was simply jumping to conclusions.
“Spike, what did you do?” she hesitantly asked, her heart loudly drumming in her chest.
“I made her like me,” he dejectedly whispered. “I made her a vampire and when she turned against me, I killed her…again.”
Buffy felt a little ashamed to feel relieved that Spike’s reference to the violation of his mother was in regards to making her a vampire and not in the literal sense she had first interpreted. She knew there was still more left to Spike’s catharsis but he wouldn’t divulge unless she pushed him, which she did with her next question.
“Why would you turn her, Spike?” she steadily asked in her most non-judgmental tone of voice.
The idea of a vampire returning to his home the first night he rises from his grave and slaughtering his family wasn’t a concept lost on Buffy. She’d seen it countless of times before and even Angel had done it himself. You could say that it had become an expectation, perhaps even a stereotype, for vampires to first kill their loved ones, to do away with all remnants of their mortal existences before setting off on their new lives of mayhem and bloodshed. Buffy didn’t expect anything less from ruthless demons. It was why Spike’s declaration of siring his mother had been unexpected. It was a rarity. Vampires wanted to be rid of reminders of their humanity, not hold onto to them for an eternity.
“She was sickly,” he croakily began to clarify. “Consumption…what you would call tuberculosis nowadays. I just wanted to make her better.” He glimpsed up at her, his clear blue eyes pleading for understanding.
Buffy released a shaky breath. “When my mom got sick, I thought someone was out to get me through her. So I did a spell to find out what was really wrong. It had something to do with pulling away curtains,” she said quietly, noticing Spike nod his head, indicating that he knew of the mentioned incantation.
Buffy continued. “It’s when I first found out about Dawn being the Key, but it didn’t tell me anything about mom. Even when evil mystical vengeance checked out, I still tried to find some kind of spell to fix her. I was desperate because the truth that my mom was dying and there was nothing I could do to stop it was just too unbearable.”
Buffy slipped into Spike’s side, wrapping her arm around his waist. “Had there been some kind of anti-brain tumor spell somewhere, I would have used it. Despite Giles and Tara and everyone else telling me it wouldn’t be right, I would’ve used it,” she mournfully stated. “I would’ve done anything to save my mom.”
Spike lifted his head slowly until his line of sight met hers. His eyes were shining with unshed tears as he looked at her with a blend of adoration, relief and thankfulness. The vampire wrapped his arms back around the petite blonde next to him, pulling her into a fierce hug. Buffy smiled into his shoulder as she happily returned the embrace.
“She wasn’t my mum anymore,” Spike allowed himself to continue, Buffy’s understanding and acceptance making it easier for him to reopen old wounds. “When I turned her, I set loose a demon, and it tore into me. For the longest time, I believed the horrible things she’d said,” he rasped, tightening his hold on the Slayer.
“But it was the demon talking, not her. I realize that now. My mother loved me with all her heart,” he confidently remarked before adding. “The guilt is still there, but I’ve made peace with it. The First can’t use it against me anymore.”
Buffy slowly pulled out of Spike’s arms, taking his hand in hers instead. “You said that you saw me, Spike, when you were under the stone’s spell, but you don’t have to tell me what was shown to you, because I have a pretty good idea. Just tell me that you were able to make peace with that guilt too,” Buffy softly entreated.
“I…I think I have. I don’t know,” Spike doubted tensely. “I meant what I said. I haven’t forgiven myself for what I did. The guilt is still there, like a ball of fire in my heart.”
“But can the First still use it to control you?” she urgently inquired.
Spike released a trembling breath. “The monster I turned my mum into had in not so many words told me that I wasn’t worth loving. A century’s worth of distractions made it easy to forget her words but they were always there, beneath the surface somewhere,” he enlightened, pain flashing in his cerulean eyes. “But that night…when I almost…to you…I knew she was right.”
“Spike…” Buffy began to object, her hand squeezing his.
“No,” he firmly refused to listen to any more of her protestations. “She was right. It’s why I got the soul, so that I could be one step closer to being the man that’s deserving of your love. I wanna be that man, Buffy.”
“You are,” she asserted.
“No. I’m not,” Spike miserably contradicted. “But I realize something now.”
“Yeah? What’s that?” Buffy hesitantly wondered.
“Even though I don’t deserve your love, Buffy, I still have it,” he whispered, glimpsing tentatively at Buffy’s face.
He wasn’t certain how she would react to his statement. Spike knew Buffy was hesitant to tell him how she felt but he knew. After all they had been through since she had come back from that portal, how couldn’t he think Buffy loved him?
Spike didn’t let her respond. “I know you haven’t said it but I see it everyday, even in just the little things,” he began to elaborate, feeling as though he has to defend his previous statement.
“When you’re lyin’ in my arms at night; when you kiss me; when you laugh at my piss poor attempts at cheerin’ you up; when you stand by me; when you defend me; when I tell you I love you and you look at me like no one has ever spoken those words to you; those are the moments when I know you love me,” he hoarsely stated.
“I’ll always feel like I’m not good enough for you, pet, but the First can’t play me with that card anymore. It can’t turn my guilt over what I did and my fear that you’ll never love me because of it against me because I can see now that in spite of all I’ve done, you love me,” Spike finished, his words certain, though his demeanor screamed with old and new insecurities.
For a few excruciating moments Buffy remained completely silent. When she didn’t reply, Spike grew concerned, ready to take back everything he had just said. He wasn’t given the chance.
“The trigger, does it still work?” Buffy evenly asked.
Spike exhaled, half relieved, half disappointed by the deliberate disregard of his heartfelt declaration in her response. “Dunno.”
“Why don’t you sing the song,” Buffy gently suggested.
Spike gave her a quirk of his scarred brow. “Don’t you think I’ve made enough of an ass out of myself for today, luv?”
Buffy gazed at Spike with lighthearted annoyance. “C’mon. I’ve heard you sing before.”
Spike couldn’t help but smirk at the memory. “Yeah, well, wasn’t like it was voluntary. If it hadn’t been for that tap dancin’ ponce of a demon, I would’ve never belted out a tune around the lot of you.”
“You were good,” Buffy reassured. “Your voice was all deep and rough,” she huskily added, her cheeks burning slightly when she caught sight of the smug look Spike was giving her.
The vampire smiled slyly at the compliment before his low baritone voice broke through the silence. “Early one morning, just as the sun was shining, I heard a maid sing in the valley below. ‘Oh, don't deceive me. Oh, never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?’”
“Guess Giles’s 'hunk of rubble' actually worked, huh?” she cheerfully remarked, using Spike’s own skeptical words against him.
Spike’s smile grew. He had passed the test. He was free. “That it did,” he minimally replied.
Buffy’s attention shifted from the vampire to the stairway which led from the basement to the main floor of the house. She wasn’t sure how long they had been down there, but she knew that it was time to head back up.
“Spike, are you gonna be okay?” she wondered, looking for a bit of reassurance herself.
“Yeah, pet. ‘m gonna be just fine,” Spike promised, his azure eyes never looking as bright as they did at that very moment.
“Good because I really should check on Xander. You nearly knocked him out with all you bed throwing,” Buffy mildly chastised.
Spike scoffed, unaffected by her attempts at making him feel bad for clobbering Xander with the cot a few hours earlier.
“Whelp deserves it,” he retorted, his tone unforgiving. “The way I see it, it was simply karma takin’ into affect. Was poetic justice, really, him being walloped by the very same bed he sullied,” he reasoned unapologetically.
Taking one long dramatic sniff of the cot he was sitting on, Spike grimaced. “Still reeks of him and the demon girl.”
Buffy’s face scrunched at the vampire’s last statement. “Ewww,” she whimpered, jumping off the defiled bed. “You mean Xander and Anya had sex on that?” she asked in bewilderment, pointing at the now offensive mattress.
Spike nodded, inwardly laughing at the look of revulsion on her face.
Buffy suddenly paled. “Was that before or after I had that nap on it with you?” she fretfully inquired.
“Before,” Spike curtly answered, his own distaste for the situation evident in his expression. You think people could at least respect him enough not to shag on his bed.
“Oh gross!” the Slayer exclaimed in horror, shuddering in disgust and furiously wiping her hands on her denim clad legs.
“Tell me about it,” Spike bitterly said. “Believe me, heightened sense of smell is a definite disadvantage in these sorts of circumstances.”
“I need a shower. A very, very hot shower,” Buffy announced.
Images of Buffy’s nude body covered in soapy suds involuntarily popped into Spike’s head, but he quickly shook them off. No point in torturing himself over the momentarily unattainable, though he wouldn’t have minded celebrating his newly restored freedom with a good old shag in the shower.
Spike paused briefly when he realized that he could think of sex and Buffy in the same thought without some internal form of reprimand. The guilt was still there, strong as ever, but something else was there that he’d never felt before. Hope. Hope that one day, when they were ready, he and Buffy could at last have a healthy sexual relationship. It wasn’t a guarantee but it was enough.
Getting up off of the cot, Spike took hold of Buffy’s hand, lacing his fingers with hers as he headed toward the stairs. “How ‘bout you sneak on up and take that shower of yours. I’ll stay behind and sacrifice myself to the barrage of questions that’re most likely waitin’ for us upstairs. I’ll make my way up to bed when ‘m done,” he generously proposed.
“Just don’t take too long,” she perkily ordered. “It’s been a long day and I can’t sleep if you’re not there with me.”
Kissing her lightly on the temple, Spike whispered, “Know what you mean, luv.”
Walking hand in hand, the couple ventured up the stairs, ready for whatever third degree they were about to face. Buffy could only assume that when Wood had fled the basement, he had also left the house, which would without a doubt spark a multitude of questions. Everyone residing in the house would want to know if it was now safe to be around Spike and Buffy was also expecting some fevered remarks concerning the healing bite wounds on her neck. Glancing over at Spike, she was somewhat put at ease by his composed and confident demeanor. If everything else went to hell, she’d at least have him by her side. That much she was sure.
Spike pushed open the basement door, permitting them entrance into the main hallway. Buffy wasn’t surprised by the group congregated there, if anything she was amazed that all the SITs hadn’t joined in as well.
It was only when she noticed that everyone’s backs were turned that she realized something was going on. What could’ve sidetracked everyone’s attention away from her and Spike? Was Willow back?
Pushing through the small crowd, Buffy stopped dead in her tracks when she finally caught sight of the person who had captured everyone’s interest. It wasn’t going to be a joyful reunion, that much Buffy was certain.
A/N: Some dialogue taken from Lies My Parents Told Me.
Thanx to Darkezza for an awesome beta job.
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