Giles looked at the scribbled words that the small demon had written for Dawn and worked out the actual words from the phonetic spelling. "Good Lord, no wonder. Well that certainly explains everything." He shut the F’josdrg/English dictionary with a dull thud and sipped at his single malt. "Now what’s to be done with the good lady?"
The spell was not for actual resurrection but it would designed to bring the target from a time just prior to their death into the current time. Giles puzzled over the health issues of Mrs. Pratt. Yes in her day consumption, or TB as it was now called, was a death sentence. The slow and painful wasting away would have been horrific for her and all that loved her. Still, she had not appeared to be in those final stages of the disease. Giles determined to talk with Spike tomorrow to discover the true cause of his mother’s demise. He rather heartily disbelieved she had succumbed to her illness that quickly. From the solicitousness of Spike’s behavior towards the lady Giles suspected her death was not the result of a fledgling’s first feedings either.
The books had no spell to reverse what Dawn’s actions had wrought, however, so the lady’s health was a consideration. The sooner Mrs. Pratt could be seen by a physician and begin the long but usually successful treatment the less likely it would be for her to pass on her illness to any of those children now surrounding her. Giles wondered idly if William had been infected prior to his being turned long ago and far away.
It had been interesting to see the difference in the vampire when speaking to, and interacting with, this woman. Giles found himself more curious than he could remember since Watchers school. Spike had always been a curiosity, now he appeared to be a paradox. It was obvious that the records in the tomes that the Council had gathered about William the Bloody were flawed at best. Giles wondered how much was deliberate on their part and how many other "facts" might not be reliable.
There was little to mark Spike as a demon at all in his dealings with Mrs. Pratt. Indeed he was the picture of a solicitous, loving human son. Had Giles not been aware of just what Spike was he would never have guessed that he was a vampire at all. The strangest part of it was there was no artifice at all in Spike’s behavior. Spike’s concerns for the older lady were genuine as if he truly looked upon her as his mother.
Giles had been taught that vampires felt no real emotions. He had been clear in stating that fact to Buffy more than once since he had taken over as her Watcher. The human was gone, utterly replaced by a demon.
Spike had irritated Giles for years with his contrary behavior.
The slavish devotion and self-sacrificial love the vampire had appeared to show for his deranged sire had been a strong argument that there were some emotions possible. Still, Giles had been able to give different, more demonic labels to Spike’s relationship with Dru. When Spike claimed to have fallen in love with Buffy, Giles had easily determined that the only thing the demon was "feeling" was obsession born of the frustration from not being able to kill his third Slayer.
That was one of the reasons Giles felt so bloody uncomfortable around the punked out vampire; Spike was a walking contradiction to all the things Giles had been trained to know about vampires and their nature. Giles spent far too much of his think time rationalizing away what his eyes told him. Nothing grated on an educated person more than to have their core beliefs challenged with imperical evidence to the contrary. He made Giles antsy! This new revelation merely added to Giles’ discomfort.
He poured a last nightcap and firmly shelved the troublesome thoughts for the night. Time enough tomorrow to try to get to the bottom of the mystery that was Spike, the itch Giles just couldn’t scratch away.
Anne was exhausted. The wild story her boy told her had her head spinning. Still there had been proofs beyond the lad’s basic honest nature. The thing he called a television had been rather hard to explain away as were many other devices that gave truth to his tale of monsters, vampires and movement through time and space. In truth if Anne quietly accepted what William had said it neatly explained everything she had seen and heard since arriving. Sometimes the simplest explanation was the correct one after all.
Deciding to simply trust her son and his explanations was not as difficult as one would think. What was more difficult for Anne to accept was that William, rather than she, was technically dead. Anne had never met this dark temptress he called Dru who had murdered her son, she didn’t wish to. Still, William seemed unchanged at his core. He was still the same thoughtful, loving, gentle man she had been so very proud of in the past. Perhaps he had not been murdered at all but merely physically changed in some ways. Yes, that made more sense.
William had been deeply shamed as he admitted to her that he had engaged in actions that he knew she would be horrified to discover. He had tried to explain that he had a different nature now, different needs. Those he had traveled with in the early years had taught him how to behave, how to survive. William had always learned his lessons well and been eager to please those in authority. Anne knew many of those details he withheld out of shame could be laid at the feet of those who initiated him into his new life.
Perhaps she didn’t need to hear the details of those years. It seemed enough that William was living amongst humans and interacting the way he always had in the past. He had assured her that he was not killing despite that being the norm for a vampire. She hadn’t asked for more information about the years when her son, evidently, HAD been killing.
So, here she was in the twentieth century! In a far distant country as well! Anne had to cling to what she WAS sure of and that was William. She knew her son. All would be well.
Anne also knew that the young girls who had just buried their mother were in need of guidance and care. William appeared to love the two greatly if she were not mistaken. Indeed, she had never seen her son so concerned for anyone outside their own family circle as he was with this Buffy and her young sister, Dawn.
That William had tried to help young Dawn work witchcraft and defy death itself to bring back her mother said much. Anne remembered the way William had discussed the tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice after he had presented his paper on the myth during his last term before having to leave university. The story had touched her romantic son deeply yet he had expressed a surprisingly fatalistic attitude about the futility of trying to cheat death. Perhaps his transformation, his own form of cheating death, had altered his views on the subject.
The lovely girl must be so very disappointed to be faced with a stranger, and a terminally ill one at that, instead of the beloved mother she had expected to hold in her arms. The child had been gracious and generous towards Anne, however, and she was grateful to her.
While it was obvious that William had never expected to see her again, he clearly was happy in her presence. Perhaps Mr. Giles would have an answer as to how she came to be here and if she was likely to remain.
In the meantime, Anne decided to retire to her borrowed room and allow her subconscious mind to try to absorb all the events of the day. Time enough tomorrow for questions and possibly some answers as well.
Spike gingerly bandaged up the wound left in his side by the mother Ghora. In all the excitement and confusion he had ignored the searing pain until his mother had been seen to. Luckily the bleeding had stopped before that good lady had noticed anything amiss.
Spike was leery of magic at the best of times and certainly the Bit’s plan was far from the best of times. Still it had been a complete shock to be faced with his mother’s beloved face and form when Joyce had been the expected result. Dawn had to be terribly disappointed.
It was a miracle though to see her alive, unturned and undusted. The memory of his rash rush to "cure" his ailing mother when newly fledged and the nightmare producing results that had haunted him all the years after rose up to taunt him. To think he had a second chance, a way to NOT be responsible for her death, was too good to be true. A large part of Spike wished fervently that all his worst sins could be wiped away that easily.
He felt a bit guilty at putting the Slayer on the spot by asking her to shelter both him and his mother this way, but he really couldn’t see his poor confused mother having to adjust to a crypt as her new home. He’d have to see about finding a place more appropriate if she was to remain in this time. He heartily hoped she would remain even if bringing her here wasn’t the plan.
Spike felt a jolt of fear as he realized his mother might reveal more about him than he was comfortable to Buffy and her band of scoobies. He just knew the Watcher would be all over his mum taking notes and asking pointed questions. Still the chance to undo his worst mistake by having her alive and human was worth any embarrassment caused by her presence. Perhaps he could find a way to ignore the chip long enough to drain the Whelp before he had more ammunition to turn Spike’s ego into Swiss cheese however.
"And so you see, these words in the original F’josdrg make it clear that the connection is with the one who actually gathers the Gorah egg. As Spike was the one to snatch it from the nest, the spell naturally selected HIS mother for transferal to our time." Giles had explained just what the spell had done and why to the startled group.
"So if I hadn’t dropped the one I had first, mom would be here now?" Dawn looked at Anne with a shy apology for the sadness in her tone.
"Don’t even think about it Dawnie!" Buffy had to push back the urge to go right along with Dawn’s unspoken plan to try it again. "It wasn’t right the first time and it wouldn’t be right this time either. Mom’s in heaven and as much as we want her here with us, she deserves to be in a place like that."
Dawn pouted at her older sister and began to argue. "Why not, Buffy, we need her more than some god or bunch of angels or something. You’re too busy trying to keep Glory from getting her key back and saving the world every night to do the regular stuff a kid needs growing up! I need mom even if you don’t."
"You think I don’t need her too?" Buffy looked stricken at the words her sister had thrown at her. "Who do you think kept me sane ever since I found out the world was actually a monster movie and I was the only chance anyone had to not be the bloody victim? I was only fifteen years old, Dawnie, when I had to start saving the world every night as you put it. Mom was the only one who let me be Buffy, made me feel safe and loved. You say you need her? Well, so do I."
Buffy drew a deep breath before continuing. The two Summer’s girls had long since forgotten the room full of other people silently witnessing this scene. "I’d give anything, ANYTHING, to have her back. But sometimes, even if you can’t believe it, I can actually think about someone other than myself. Mom’s in heaven. Leave her there. Nothing would be worse than to be pulled from a place like that just because we still felt like we needed her."
The room was deadly silent. Giles had removed his glasses and was pinching the bridge of his nose the beginnings of a tension headache making itself known.
Willow shuffled her feet nervously; she didn’t dare voice her opinion that Dawn wasn’t wanting anything unnatural or wrong.
No one put their thoughts into words as the silence stretched.
Anne had listened with as much interest as anyone else in the room, more in some places as it concerned herself directly. "Mr. Giles," she spoke softly and with slight hesitation. "I heard you explain that this magic spell took me from a time just before my death and brought me here. Does that mean that I am soon to die?"
"NO!" Spike leapt to his feet and shot to his mother’s side. "No, you won’t die any time soon. You aren’t that sick yet, mother."
"Yes, Spike is quite correct about your illness." At Anne’s skeptical looks he continued, "In this time TB, or Consumption as you know it, can be put into remission. Cured, if you will. Even stages more advanced than yours have a high success rate for treatment. No, whatever ….. accident befell you that brought about your demise, it wouldn’t be your illness. It would be safe to assume you have many years ahead of you, wouldn’t you say so, er, William?"
Spike looked at the Watcher and could see that the other man knew his part in his mother’s death in some way. He felt shame course through his system and fought back hot tears of grief and guilt.
Giles was once more flummoxed to see the play of emotions on the vampire’s face. Damn the creature with his constant shaking of long held beliefs! "Spike, if I might have a private word with you," he suggested.
Spike looked from his mother to the Watcher and knew he would far rather have this discussion away from her. He shot a grateful look to Giles and readily agreed.
When the two men were far enough from prying ears to get at the matter at hand Giles gave voice to his suspicions. "I have the feeling that you are well able to give the assurance that your mother is in no danger of meeting the same death she endured previously?"
Spike ducked his head and sighed deeply. "No. Not gonna die like that. Not even thanks to the chip either. Always wished I could undo that fuck up."
Giles leaned against the counter and narrowed his eyes in derision, partly happy that some of his training about vampires appeared to be the truth after all. "I see." He cleared his throat before putting the horror into words. "It is a well known fact that a fledgling will first feed on those closest to the human. Am I correct that this is how your mother died?"
Spike glared at Giles at the implication that he had looked upon his beloved mother as food, ever! "No. Not exactly anyway."
Giles quirked an eyebrow and looked at Spike as if waiting for a lie or a feeble excuse for the inexcusable.
"You see her, Watcher," Spike started laying his heart bare before the man. "When I rose I felt powerful, strong, alive. All my years of living and I’d never felt as alive as I did after death. All I could think was how I could finally, FINALLY, do something to help my mum. All those doctors, all that medical science couldn’t give her a single day of life but I could!"
Giles’ eyes widened as he began to understand what must have happened. "How long had you been a vampire?"
"Days. Dru’d not even taken me to meet the Poofter and his whore yet." Spike fumbled in his pocket and drew out a cigarette. Giles, in uncharacteristic charity towards the vampire headed to the back door to allow the conversation to continue where Spike could smoke.
Spike lit up and leaned against the railing facing his confessor. "Didn’t know it at the time but Dru thought like you do. I brought her there to meet my mum and give mum the gift only I had to give her. Mum had been worried. It wasn’t like me to be gone as I had been. I told her what had happened, what I was and I turned her." He blew out a long stream of smoke that did nothing to hide the haunted look to his eyes.
"She agreed to this?" Giles asked in amazement. The lady in the other room didn’t seem the sort to embrace becoming a monster.
Spike let out a bitter puff of laughter. "Not exactly. Trusted me though, poor mite." Spike closed his eyes in obvious emotional pain at the rush of memories. "Let’s just say that she wasn’t quite herself when she rose."
Giles kept silent allowing Spike time to gather his thoughts.
"Funny thing," he said in a bitter voice, "I didn’t see it coming. See I wasn’t too different after Dru turned me. Sure there were changes, but they all seemed positive to me. Like that bloke in the old adverts on the back of comic books. You know, the ‘ninety-eight pound weakling’ who sent off for this body building program and no one kicked sand in his face anymore?" Spike could tell from Giles’ nod that he knew the ad’s as well.
"And the changes were not positive with your mother?" Giles urged him on.
From the stricken look on Spike’s face they clearly had not been. "No. Didn’t see a bit of my mum there. Like Angelus she was, even if I hadn’t met the wanker yet to know it. Demon in the drivers seat, evil as they come. Some … things were said and I knew I couldn’t…," Spike broke off a sob breaking through.
Giles felt awkward at witnessing the obvious painful remembrance. He felt the most unlikely urge to place a hand of reassurance on Spike’s shoulder and firmly thrust the urge away.
"Mother wouldn’t want to live like that, be like that," Spike said decisively. "I made the mess and I had to fix it." He looked directly into Giles’ eyes as if daring the Watcher to say he had done wrong. "I staked her. She’d never even fed. Figure she had to have still gone to heaven, yeah?"
Giles shrugged uncomfortably. "I really couldn’t say, Spike. As you say, she had not taken any lives as yet so I would imagine there was no stain on her from your turning her at least."
"No that’d be stains on me," Spike said in a near whisper. "Only person ever loved me and I killed her twice." He stared off into the distance his expression as haunted as it had been at the beginning of the conversation.
"Well," Giles said in a spontaneous attempt to make Spike feel a bit better, "She’s not been turned or staked now. Her illness can be treated. You may have managed to get her that cure yet."
Spike looked at Giles in amazement. Had the Watcher actually offered comfort and hope? "Think she’ll hate me when I tell her?"
Giles’ smile was a genuine one. "No, Spike. In the short time I’ve known your mother I don’t think she could ever hate you for anything. I don’t think she’ll push you for this information either so you may not have to tell her at all."
"Don’t want her worrying about dying." Spike looked at Giles in all seriousness then laughed, "Who am I kidding? Gotta tell her, never was a good liar, especially to her."
"There is that," agreed Giles.
"Whatcha talking ‘bout?" Buffy’s voice broke in.
"I was telling Spike that the local medical staff at the hospital would be able to treat Mrs. Pratt with little difficulty." Giles was looking at Spike rather than Buffy as he spoke his half -truth. The vampire had been so very candid in his revelation and Giles knew Spike would not want Buffy to hear this particular story.
"Now that I think about it, I may have some work to do before we can get her decent medical care." Giles had the look of a person finally comfortable with a course of action. "I’ll need to look into the paperwork to explain Mrs. Pratt. Perhaps some insurance papers wouldn’t go amiss either. There are elements of Council training that are still of use after all."
Giles headed back into the kitchen feeling far more comfortable dealing with the simple enacting of a plan rather than dealing with the possibility that all his hard earned knowledge of vampires should be tossed out the window, at least where this vampire was concerned.
"There’s that cute, nice, doctor that helped take care of mom," Buffy suggested. "You remember Ben …. Um, I forget his last name."
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