A Rude Awakening
A/n: Sorry about the long hiatus. Life got busy.
When Buffy shifted on Faith’s lumpy mattress and opened her eyes she really didn’t expect to see Spike. So, naturally, there he was. Instinctively she threw the blanket up over her head to hide her bedraggled state. God, could the guy be any more unfair? Coming over without any warning and then watching her sleep? They had words for people like that. None of them flattering.
“Please go,” she murmured.
The chair he was sitting on creaked as he moved. “I was worried about you.”
“So you decided to sit right there and corner me before I even had a chance to brush my hair. I’m thankful for your concern,” Buffy closed her eyes and buried her face into the mattress.
“Where were you?”
“I was with my ex.”
There was a sound. “Angel?”
“No,” was all she said.
She turned on her side to face away from his general direction, still safely hidden under the covers. “Well it sure as hell wasn’t Parker.”
There was silence and not much else. Buffy opened her eyes and waited patiently for some sign he was still there. That was the problem with vampires – they could move so quietly, you’d never know. Eventually he let out a useless breath and she heard him stand up. She thought he’d question her more about Riley but then maybe he knew all about him. Them being from opposing groups and all. Just like old times.
“We’re going to open the portal.”
Buffy threw the blanket off. “You’re whatting the what!”
“Willow’s going to open the portal,” Spike replied, looking out of the window, hands in pockets. “Demonstrate where you’ve been.”
She sat up. “Sure, manipulating time and space sounds like a real good idea. It worked out well last time!”
He turned and looked at her then and there was a hard expression on his face. His jaw tight, he spoke. “Then come up with something better, Buffy. Make a suggestion. Help. Do something.”
She looked at him and then had to look away, smoothing her hair down she crawled up and out of bed, plodding to the kitchen area. It was day time and she had no idea where Faith was but she must have let Spike in. Buffy reminded herself to kick Faith for that. She was grouchy in the mornings. And afternoons. And often the evenings too.
“Or don’t,” he muttered to himself, returning his attention to the view out of the window.
Buffy stopped where she was and glanced over her shoulder at him. His posture was rigid, uptight, very reserved. Completely not Spike. In that instance he reminded her of Giles. Giles disappointed in her. She quickly looked away, blinking several times. It was not a good idea to think of her Watcher. Or Dawn. It led to nothing but confusion and hurt and she couldn’t go there. She had to push it back. Save it for another time. When that would be she didn’t know. Just not now.
“Is that why you came here?” She asked, opening the fridge.
She pulled a carton of milk out. “To tell me about the portal.”
Buffy got some cereal from the cupboard. “Then why?”
“I didn’t have a reason, Buffy.” He said softly. “I just miss seeing you.”
Buffy’s hands halted in the motions she was performing and her spine straightened. She looked down at her toes, cold on the bare kitchen floor. She wished he wouldn’t do this. One minute he was kissing her, then telling her they were in the past and now this. She had the brief fleeting thought that it was exactly how she used to treat him. God, things were confusing.
The Slayer lifted her head but said nothing.
“It’s still a novelty that you’re here at all,” he finished, still looking outside.
She continued making her cereal, awkwardly. “You’ll get bored of me soon enough.”
“One thing you never will be is boring, Buffy.”
She shoved a spoonful into her mouth. “Thanks, I guess.”
Spike turned on his heel to face her. “What did Riley want?”
“To say hello,” she swallowed the cereal. “And invite me to join his vigilante group.”
He didn’t look surprised. “What did you say?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I said I’d totally love to and that you’d be my first slay.”
Spike folded his arms. “The way you feel about vampires, I’d understand…”
“There are more important things,” she said ambiguously.
He nodded. “Get dressed. I want to show you something.”
+ + +
When Spike pulled up outside a very ornate looking cemetery a dull ache appeared low in Buffy’s stomach and she didn’t want to get out of the car. Spike looked over at her and must have seen something on her face because he reached over and touched her hand lightly before getting out. Grudgingly, Buffy unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the passenger door, stepping out into the bright Californian sunshine. She glanced over at the vampire shielding his eyes as he walked up to the gates. It was still strange to see Spike in the light. At least without the Gem of Amara on his finger and him punching her in the face.
He pressed a button on the wall and the wrought iron gates began to open inwards slowly, granting them access to the graveyard. Buffy hung back beside the car, warm breeze shifting the floaty skirt she was wearing. She felt wrongly dressed to go and pay a visit to the dead. She didn’t want to go in. She really didn’t.
Spike stood waiting for her patiently. Sighing, she looked down the road and wondered if it really was that far to walk back home. Shifting on her feet Buffy shook her head and walked slowly towards where he was. He pulled an encouraging face that really served to only make her feel worse. This was a bad idea.
Once she had reached level with him he started to walk and she followed a couple of steps behind. The cemetery was the kind with lots of greenery, trees that would probably look all nice and serene if it wasn’t for the fact that this was a place of death. She hated cemeteries. The pathway they walked was gravel that crunched beneath her stupid sandals.
Spike clearly had a specific spot in mind and he moved with a purpose. Buffy began to drag her feet and fell back a little further. They came to a sort of tunnel that held plaques on both sides. The walls were white marble, the plaques polished silver. Each plaque held just a name and nothing else. She noticed Spike instinctively ran his hand along one particular one but carried on past it without looking. Buffy did look. Claire Pratt. All she could think for a moment was Spike’s last name is Pratt? And then she pushed it out of her thoughts and continued on.
Spike came to a stop near the end of the tunnel. His gaze fixed on the plaques in front of him. With a sense of dread Buffy came to stand beside him. There were three names on the wall that she recognised. The most important three names she would ever know. Joyce Summers. Dawn Summers. Rupert Giles.
“Thought it best to keep ’em together,” he said.
Buffy remained fixed on the names. “Yes.”
She didn’t say anything else, couldn’t think anything else to say. To think that these had all been people she loved unconditionally and now they were just names on a wall. They’d all died needlessly. Not that there was ever a need for it. The last time she’d seen Dawn she had been helping to open the portal that took Buffy away from her life for all those years. Now she’d never see her again. And she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d spent with Giles. It had all gotten jumbled up. She was angry at herself for not remembering.
She was already starting to forget things about them. Could barely remember the scent of her mother’s perfume.
Buffy turned abruptly on her heel and paced quickly back the way they had come. She heard Spike calling her name but didn’t respond, just kept walking, her sandals slapping loudly on the cold floor of the tunnel. Soon she was outside and making her way back through the main cemetery, kicking up gravel as she went.
The Slayer felt the overwhelming need to run. She couldn’t handle cemeteries in the daytime. At night they were nothing but a place to hunt demons but by day they held too much significance, peppered with the cloying scent of human grief.
She reached the gates and came to a stop, holding onto one of them with a death grip.
Spike appeared beside her. “You alright?”
“Why…” teeth gritted she spoke, “…why did you bring me here?”
“Thought you might like to see them.”
“That’s not them,” Buffy replied.
He nodded. “No, it’s not. Still. I find it helps.”
“Well it doesn’t help me,” she looked at him with hard eyes. “I’m not like you. I can’t deal with this. I need to keep it…away.”
Spike put his hands in his pockets and sighed. “They’re gone, Buffy. You have to accept that and work through it. I want to help.”
She moved away from the gate and towards the road. “I don’t have to do anything. They’re dead, Spike. I’m well aware of that, okay? Just leave it.”
He pressed the button on the wall to shut the gates and the followed after her, walking towards his car. He seemed to realise eventually that she wasn’t heading for the car and instead came to a halt as he watched her plunk down on the curb. Spike paused for a moment longer and then sat down next to her, car keys jangling in his hand.
“You’ve lost a lot of people in your lifetime,” Spike acknowledged. “People you love. So have I. It never gets any easier.”
She looked down at her toes peaking through her sandals. “So, how do you…deal? Keep on going? ’Cos I keep thinking – If just one more person I care about gets hurt, gets…gone…I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
Spike nodded. “And you’ll always feel that way.”
“Great,” Buffy muttered.
“It’s part of what makes you human,”
She looked sideways at him. “Don’t you mean humanoid? I mean, that’s what you are now, right? And you feel things. Things a demon shouldn’t feel. You care when people die.”
“I think you’ll find most species tend to care about death,” he replied. “Even vampires. Or yeah, if we’re being pc, humanoids. The ability to take the hits, weather the storm, and still see it through to the end – that’s what makes you what you are. And me. All of us. Whatever. I’m getting sentimental now and that’s never a good look. Shall we go?”
Buffy nodded. “Yes, please.”
He stood up and offered her his hand. She took it and stood. She didn’t let go and he glanced at her questioningly for a moment before starting back to the car.
“Anything gets too much…with Faith, or the trial or anything – you let me know, okay?” He said to her as he unlocked the door and opened it for her.
She slid onto the seat. “Sure.”
He gave her a look that clearly said he could see right through her. He knew she wouldn’t confide in him about how scared and confused she was. Buffy wished she could, she wished she could share that vulnerable side of herself with him or with anyone but she couldn’t. She never would. She just wasn’t made that way.
Spike got into the car beside her and pulled away.
Almost immediately a loud buzzing sound filled the car and Buffy frowned in annoyance. Spike sighed and shifted around on the seat strangely.
“What is that?”
Spike kept his hands on the steering wheel. “My phone. Sod it, let it ring.”
“I’ll get it. Where is it?”
“In my pocket. Just leave it.”
“It might be important.” She reached over and slid her hand across his thigh.
Spike jumped violently and the car swerved to the left. “Buffy! Hang on; I’ll put it into auto drive.”
“Spike, I’m getting it,” she pulled the phone from his pocket and pressed the answer button, holding it to her ear. “Hello, Spike’s phone.”
“Oh…hello,” a somewhat confused male voice said on the other line. “Is Spike around?”
Buffy reclined in her seat. “He is. May I ask who is calling?”
“Yeah…it’s Michael. From work.”
Buffy looked at Spike who was eyeing her warily. “Michael. From work.”
He held out his hand for the phone and she gave him a bright smile and slapped the handset into his palm. Spike held the phone to his ear and said hello. Buffy could hear a muffled conversation from the other end of the phone.
The vampire glanced at her but spoke to Michael. “…Buffy…yes…oh, shut up. What do you want?”
Buffy tried to figure out what was being said but gave up about halfway through and instead turned and looked out the window.
“Bloody hell. Yeah, alright. Cheers.” Spike hung up the phone and placed his hands back on the steering wheel.
She didn’t look at him when she said, “Let me guess; they can’t do without you and they want you back. For the record I think you should do it. Go back. It seemed like you really liked –”
“Buffy, it was nothing like that. God, I wish it was in comparison,” he sighed staring straight ahead. “He was giving me some warning. The trial…or the preliminary meeting, it’s the day after tomorrow.”
Buffy turned and met his eyes. He looked worried, really worried.
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