Consequences by Slaymesoftly
Word Count: 2158
Another one of the challenges issued at Seven Seasons – what if Spike had tried to stop the resurrection? What was he worried about? Angst warning.
“Bloody stupid children”…faster, must run faster…”How could they think—can’t let them do it…not to her… gone to her reward, hasn’t she? What kind of cruel ‘friends’ would take her out of--” not fast enough, not fast enough… too late, too late…
Seeing the witch -- black eyes staring, snakes crawling, demons riding through -– watching the witch collapse, the smashed cup… must run, must stop them… save Buffy… save the Slayer. “Demons! Why are there demons? “ …running, everyone is running…too late… Falling to his knees on the desecrated grave.
I’m sorry, love…so sorry. I tried. Failed you again, didn’t I? Not fast enough, not strong enough…couldn’t stop…never fast enough…
Carefully picking up the pieces of the smashed chalice, kicking the scattered herbs and smoking embers away from the holy place. Game face keeps the still hovering demons away – they don’t know. Don’t know what they interrupted.
DID they interrupt it? Did a gang of ignorant demons do what I couldn’t? Did they save the Slayer?
Hope blossoms, flares and dies.
Saw the witch change, felt the magic, can still feel it…clinging to the air. ‘s all wrong. Didn’t finish the spell properly – what will happen? Buffy –the Slayer – did she wake? Is she in there?
Nothing to hear. Ear to ground. No sounds. No heartbeat, no gasping for breath, no screaming. It’s all right. Spell didn’t finish. Settling upon the grave, a guardian, until he remembers – Dawn! “Till the end of the world, even if it’s tonight” - Promised. Promised Buffy. Find Dawn. Keep her safe.
“What were you thinking?” The snarled question from the vampire bursting through the door sends a frisson of fear through the exhausted young people sprawled about the room. There is no thought of denial; no need – the truth is etched into Willow’s still discolored face. Guilt, defiance, exhaustion and defeat.
Dawn stares back and forth between her protector and her surrogate sisters.
“What does he mean, Tara? Willow? What did you do?”
Crashing silence, only uncomfortable squirming from the the whelp and his girl. “Anyanka. Demon girl. You, of all people, should have known better. You know what can happen.”
Anya – hands fluttering helplessly. “Willow was so sure…and Xander…he might get killed trying to—we all might be killed. The bot isn’t Buffy. She can’t keep us safe…”
“I” keep you safe.” Growling, unaccountably offended that they could still be afraid, even with a master vampire for backup.
“You keep Dawn safe,” Willow mutters, not even opening her eyes. “She’s your priority.”
“As she should be,” Tara hastily puts in when the vampire’s face darkens even more. “But, Spike…if Buffy is in hell, don’t you want her out…safely?”
“Tell me, you ignorant children,” suddenly sounding more like his 150+ years than anyone can remember, “exactly how do you figure that Buffy’s soul – Buffy, who saved the world more often than she changed her bloody shoes; who had been Heaven’s Chosen One for five years – how do you figure that she is anywhere but where she deserves to be?”
“She jumped into a portal,” Willow argues weakly. “We saw it. She was dead before she hit the ground. All that was left was her body.”
“And we buried that body.” Quietly. “If your little trick had worked, just what do you think you would have been bringin’ back? What do you think is in that grave? I’m telling you, there is no way her soul is anywhere but in Heaven. She earned that reward – she’s at peace, with Joyce. You need to leave her be.”
The boy opens his mouth to argue. “You can’t tell me that if it’d worked, it wouldn’t have been the happiest day of your life. That you wouldn’t want to have Buffy back to obsess over again. Tell me you don’t want that, Spike.” Deep brown eyes challenge icy blue, until the vampire looks away.
“Of course I want it. Dream about it every day, don’t I? But would never do that to her. Never. She earned her peace. Wouldn’t take that away from her if I could.”
Willow’s hand waves around. “It doesn’t matter, does it? It didn’t work. The bikers from hell broke the cup. I can’t get another one. Can’t try again.” She empties her deep pockets, dropping a stake, a short sword and what appears to be some sort of amulet onto the table.
“Wha—what was that for?” Dawn speaks for the first time since realizing just what the others had been trying to do. “Why did you have…weapons?”
“Because they didn’t know if she might come back wrong,” Flat voice, brooking no argument. “She was ready to do what had to be done. Isn’t that right, witch?”
“Someone would have had to,” Willow, in her quiet voice “Xander wouldn’t do it. Anya couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t ask it of Tara.” Shoots him a look. “Would you have done it? Mr–I-would–have-left-her-in-peace?”
“Let’s hope we don’t have to find out,” softly, his attention drawn to a sound from the front porch. Turns slowly to look at the door. Eyes watching as the knob begins to turn.
No heartbeat. Don’t hear a heartbeat. No breathing. Just…just…sounds…
Unconsciously, he steps between the witch and the door, his body creating a shield between the weapons and what is now entering the house. A collective gasp -- then Dawn – “Buffy!”
“No, Bit!” Strong arms around her waist, pick her up, hold her back. “’S’not her, love. ‘S ust a body.” Soothing murmurs as barely-born happiness turns to screams and cries. Puts the sobbing girl down, safely away from the creature swaying back and forth in the foyer.
Not her. It’s not her. Just the shell. Worse than the Bot. Just the shell… Straining to make himself believe, every dead cell in his body yearning towards the vision still staggering into the room.
Cold dead eyes stare past the vampire, making no eye contact with the stricken humans now huddled in the corner to which they have retreated. Clumps of dirt fall from its long hair as it swings its head around. The weapons now forgotten, they cringe away from the creature wearing the face of Buffy Summers.
Soft voice, choking on the words. “I’m sorry, love. Would never have left you to do that. Couldn’t hear – no heartbeat, no breathing – thought you were still at peace. Never would have left you there.”
Ignored, he can only watch as the cold eyes go back to the humans in the room. No flicker of recognition for the still-crying sister; no trace of emotion in the face of cowering friends and sobbing witch. An inarticulate moan comes from the creature’s throat, hands clench into fists and torn and bleeding knuckles are easily visible as it raises its hands and pulls on its hair. Seeming to notice the vampire, finally, it frowns and reaches towards him. Lays a filthy hand against his dead chest, feels; then moves the hand to its own chest. Another moan -- heartbreak and confusion -- matching moans from the watching Scoobies.
“Yes, love. Like me. You’re like me. No heartbeat, no breath…no soul.” Hard glare at the huddled humans. “Not human anymore, love. Not one of them.”
Not like me either. Nothing there. No demon to tell you what to do or how to do it. Just the shell of what used to be.
“You know what has to be done.” Willow’s shaking voice belies the cold, harshness of her words.
“I’ll take care of her.” Soft, almost pleading.
“That’s low, even for you, Spike. She’s a damn zombie, for god’s sake! You can’t possibly want—“
“Don’t finish that sentence, whelp.” Amber eyes flare, fangs extend – reminders of what he is, or used to be. Only Dawn understands immediately what he means by “take care of her”.
“No! Don’t do it. Spike….please…We can…we can help her…we can—“
“No, Bit, we can’t.” Kneels to meet her horrified gaze, his voice pleading. “Don’t you think I’d give my unlife to help her if I thought I could? If I thought she was in there somewhere? Don’t you know that I would happily spend eternity working at it? Working to bring her back. Back to you…to us.”
“But---“ Her voice trails off in the face of the horror that is in front of her. Nothing of her sister’s grace and agility, but a shambling, confused body—animate, but not. No soul behind the eyes, no recognition, no passion, no anger, no love…nothing.
“I’m gonna go now, Bit. I’ll take her…take her back.” Eyes on the two witches. “Keep Dawn here.”
Silent nods of assent, the humans still haven’t moved from their huddle in the corner. Happy to leave it to the vampire to do what must be done. To fix the problem they have created.
Without another word to them, he gently touches that which was Buffy Summers. Takes her arm and turns her around.
“What say, pet? Care to take a little walk with me? That’s my girl. Just follow me…”
The door shuts behind them and silence falls, interrupted only by soft moans from a newly-grieving sister. Despair too deep for tears, disappointment too sharp for comment, guilt too obvious to bear discussion – slowly, one by one, they separate to sit alone in the suddenly too small room.
Outside, a blond couple walks slowly. Except for the girl’s shambling gait and her dirty hair and dress, they could be any young couple out of an evening’s walk. Safer than most couples would be at that hour – nothing about these two to attract the attention of anything nasty. No food to be had here – only the coldness of the grave.
They reach their destination and he sits, gently tugging her to his lap. Arms go around her and his chin rests on her shoulder. She waits obediently, neither protesting nor enjoying his embrace. His eyes go to the disturbed ground in front of him and he absently raises a dirt-covered hand and kisses the torn knuckles there.
“I love you, Buffy. You know that by now, I guess. Way I carried on when you jumped, way I tried to hide in a bottle – only came out to keep my promise… I’ve kept it, you know. Taken care of the Niblet for you, just like I promised. Till the end of the world.”
A cool hand strokes dirt-encrusted hair. “Know you’re not in there, love. I know I’m just kidding myself here. Bloody hell, just the fact that you haven’t popped me in the nose yet, if I needed more proof…I know this isn’t you. Know you’re still up there with your mum. I know you wouldn’t want this. I’m so sorry…sorry I couldn’t stop them. Failed you again, didn’t I? You and the Bit. She’ll be havin’ nightmares about this for a long time, won’t she? My fault again. Too slow. Too stupid. Should’ve figured out what they were up to. I’m so sorry, love.”
As he speaks, his hands are grasping her chin and the back of her head. He nuzzles her throat briefly, but the cold, dead flesh there is nothing like the vibrant, warm woman he remembers and the intended kiss is dead before it can be born.
“Try to forgive me, Slayer,” he whispers, twisting sharply until the head separates from the still body. He waits, watches as body and head crumble back to the moldering bones that belong in the coffin beneath; then stands, places the skull with it’s burden of dirty blonde hair beside the bones and dust that fall off his lap; takes a deep breath and begins to dig. He allows his demon out, the powerful claws making short work of the loose dirt. In no time he is down to the coffin’s shredded top and has cleared out the dirt that had fallen into the empty space. Reaching up, he reverently collects the bones, scraps of fabric and hair that wait patiently, placing them inside the coffin and resisting the urge to lie down on top of it to await the coming dawn. Instead, he runs a hand over the now flesh-less skull, trembling fingers betraying the stoic calmness on his face. On impulse, he pulls a heavy silver ring off his thumb, lays it in the center of the bones before leaping gracelessly out of the hole.
It is the work of only minutes to push and kick the remaining soil back into the grave. He isn’t even aware that he has finished, still smoothing the disturbed grass and soil into some semblance of order and blinded by tears he is unaware of shedding. A soft breeze runs cool fingers across his cheek. Tears dried, serenity settles over his mind and body as he kneels there, allowing the breeze and the familiar scent it carries to soothe him. “Thank you,” the breeze breathes into his ear. “Thank you, Spike.”
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