My way of meeting the four wonderful challenges put forth in March 2007, by Seven_Seasons . All four will be on this one page, with a suitable summary/warning before each one. One is nothing but fluffy Spuffy, one is terribly grim, and two are suitably angsty for what is going on at that time. Each one is based on an actual episode that has been twisted to meet the challenge requirements – any dialogue that sounds familiar was probably written by those much more talented writers at Mutant Enemy, rather than by me. J
Here are the challenges as put up on the Seven Seasons community:
1) Giles doesn't leave, and he's there when Xander finds Spike crying against the tree. How does Giles find out about Buffy and manage to be at the house when all the Scoobies return? How does he react to seeing Spike in tears at Buffy’s return?
2) What if Spike isn't the only one to hear Buffy say that her friends dragged her out of Heaven? Who has overheard her and how do they react to the news--as well as the fact that Buffy confided in Spike and not her friends?
3) Riley returns-absent any rebound wife. How does Buffy react while remembering how desperately she'd run to catch him and stop him from leaving her? Does she still want him back?
4) Spike knew about the resurrection and tried to stop it, afraid that Buffy would 'come back wrong.' What is he afraid of?
And my responses
Summary: In an alternate season VI, Giles has not yet left for England and when he makes his way to Revello Drive to check on the Scoobies, he finds Spike crying against the tree just after Xander and Anya have left. They did not notice his approach or realize that he may have heard Xander’s “Tell me this isn’t the happiest day of your life!” as he shoved an angry Spike into the tree. Willow and Tara are still in the house with Dawn and Buffy.
Title: Someone Will Pay
Word Count: 2601
Disclaimer: Joss didn’t write it this way – but he could have, if he’d wanted to – it’s his playground.
Spike remained where the boy had pushed him against the tree, making no attempt to wipe away the angry tears still streaking his cheeks. His head was pressed into the rough bark behind it, his eyes squeezed closed as he tried to erase the image of Buffy’s shredded nails and torn knuckles. So absorbed was he in his conflicting emotions that he didn’t notice the arrival of her watcher until the man ran up and grabbed him by the lapels.
“Spike? What’s going on? Why are you out here? Where’s Dawn?” He stopped shaking the silent vampire, his face falling into too familiar lines of grief. “Oh my god…the demons…did they…?”
The vampire shook his head and tried to focus on the other man. His brow wrinkled for a second, then he realized that Giles had misunderstood his tears.
“The Bit is fine, Rupert. She’s inside.” Spike’s voice was flat and quiet as he pushed himself away from the tree and rubbed at his face, ashamed to have been caught crying.
“Well then, what’s wrong with you? And why aren’t you in there taking care of her?”
“Pushed me out, didn’t they? Don’t need Spike anymore – got back what they wanted. Never mind the consequences…don’t hang around to help her out…just work the bloody spell and leave…leave her…make her…” He made a choking noise and turned his face away from the puzzled man.
“What spell? Make who do what? What the bloody hell are you talking about, Spike?”
“Buffy.” The vampire’s voice was barely a whisper, only the movement of his lips as he turned haunted eyes back to the watcher allowed Giles to recognize what he had said.
“Buffy? What about Buffy? Is that what this is about?” Giles let out a relieved sigh and dropped his hands. “I thought we were past this,” he said quietly. He looked towards the house, wondering what could have happened tonight to start the vampire grieving again. “Look,” he began as sympathetically as he could, “I understand. We…we’re all still suffering from--. But you need to pull yourself together, man. It does Dawn no good to watch—“
“Buffy,” the vampire repeated stubbornly, continuing when Giles just stared at him without speaking. “Buffy…here. In the house. With Dawn. With those stupid, arrogant children who brought her back.”
He clutched the other man’s jacket, much as Giles had done to him. “Do you understand me? They brought her back. Didn’t tell the Bit, didn’t tell you, didn’t tell me. Didn’t tell any of us, did they? Didn’t let anyone in on it who might have known better. Who might have worried about the consequences…”
“Consequences?” Giles frowned, absently brushing Spike’s hands away.
“Magic always has consequences, Rupert. You should know that. And dark, powerful magic has powerful consequences. Dark consequences.”
The ex-watcher’s face darkened and his eyes widened with understanding.
“Oh, good lord! Willow…? Willow did… she did this?” He looked at the house with trepidation. “Wha—how is Bu-- what does she look like?” He mentally prepared himself for whatever he might have to do if Buffy had come back wrong.
“She looks like someone who was peacefully dead and woke up to dig herself out of her own bloody grave. That’s what she looks like!” Spike snarled, then folded in upon himself. “She looks lost, Watcher. That’s how she is. She’s lost.”
The older man squeezed his eyes shut briefly, then squared his shoulders and stared at the front door. “Right then,” he said quietly. “I’ll need to go in and see what’s what. Are you coming?” He cast an eye back at the now calm vampire, surprised when Spike shook his head.
“I’m not wanted by anyone right now – least of all the ones who did this to her. They want praise and thank yous, not reminders of what kind of forces they’ve awakened. You go in. See your girl.”
Giles nodded and began to walk towards the door. From the corner of his eye, he watched Spike slide down the tree to sit at its base, his back against the trunk and his hands dangling between his knees.
He entered the house to hear Willow’s voice raised in what could only be anger.
“Spike? What do you want him for? Dawn doesn’t need him anymore, now that you’re back. You don’t need him. You have me. And Tara and Xander and Anya. We brought you back; Dawn and Spike had nothing to do with it. I did it. Me. I brought you back!”
“For which, I am, sure, Buffy will be happy to thank you.” Giles’ dry voice barely concealed the anger simmering behind his words. “Once she has recovered from the trauma you have inflicted upon her.”
The witch whirled, guilt and fear flickering across her face before the recollection of what she was now capable of doing stiffened her back.
“I rescued her from hell, Giles. Something no one else wanted to try. Of course she’s going to thank me. The demons scared her when they destroyed the bot, that’s all. She’s fine.”
“That remains to be seen, doesn’t it, Willow?” he responded coldly, moving toward the girl he’d never expected to see again. Ignoring the witch’s angry huff when he gently pushed her aside to kneel in front of Buffy, he stared into his Slayer’s eyes, praying that he would see nothing there that he didn’t want to. Buffy’s return gaze was bewildered and subdued, but gave no sign that she wasn’t the same girl who had plunged off Glory’s tower months earlier. He reached a shaking hand towards her face, pushing the damp hair back as he whispered, “It’s really you. You are really here.”
Her response was another whispered “Spike?” as she held up her tattered hands.
Giles’ gasp was muffled by Dawn’s quick explanation. “Spike was fixing her hands when everybody came in and made him leave. I think she wants him to finish cleaning them up.”
The watcher glared at the girls behind him, then said quietly, “Tara, would you please see if Spike is still outside and ask him to come back in?”
“Giles, what is wrong with you? She doesn’t need Spike. She needs us. Her friends. The people who saved her.” Willow’s voice held a pleading note as she realized that the watcher was not showering her with the praise that she felt her actions had earned.
“I believe, Willow…” His voice was soft and controlled, as he had already noticed that Buffy flinched from loud and sudden sounds. “…that what she may need at the moment is someone with an understanding of what it means to claw your way out of a grave and back into the world.” In spite of the softness of his voice, there was underlying steel to his tone and Tara obediently ran to the front door.
Rather than shouting for Spike, she slipped outside and ran to kneel beside the vampire where he remained slumped against the tree.
“Sp-Spike? G- G-Giles thinks you should come back inside. Bu-Buffy wants you.”
Disbelief and hope flared briefly as he flowed gracefully to his feet. “Me? The Slayer wants me?”
Tara nodded, hastening to keep up with vampire’s rapid steps. “He thinks that you could help her…help her get used to…”
“To being alive?” he finished for her, pulling open the door and moving into the living room.
“Exactly,” her watcher said quietly, observing the way his slayer’s eyes went to the chipped vampire. Her shoulders relaxed as she held up her hands.
“Fix?” she asked softly, her eyes pleading with the trembling vampire.
Spike’s expression softened even more as he fell to his knees in front of the girl he had made the center of his world. “Yes, pet. We’ll fix them for you. Make you all well, we will. I promise you,” he finished softly. The skeptical look she gave him was the first sign that the normally quippy slayer was still in there behind the dead-looking eyes.
His lips twitched at the look and he shrugged as he whispered to her, “Do my best anyway. I’ll do what I can.” He finished cleaning her cuts, trimmed her ragged fingernails and smoothed antibiotic ointment over them before gently wrapping her hands in gauze and tape. “There you go, pet. Let that Slayer healing kick in and you’ll be back to punching me in the nose before you know it.”
Buffy nodded slowly as she took her hands from his and put them back in her lap. The phone rang, startling everyone but causing Buffy to flinch and put her hands over her ears.
“Stop that thing!” Spike growled over his shoulder, sending Tara running to answer it. “And turn the bloody lights down.”
At Dawn’s curious look, he explained quietly, “Been someplace dark and quiet, hasn’t she? Gonna take her a while to get used to all the noise and light. Probably a good thing she rose—“ He stopped when the watcher made a strangled noise behind him. “Sorry,” Spike muttered, “force of habit. That it was night when she woke up – all the noise and the light of the day would have frightened her even more.”
Dawn had obediently dimmed all the lights and Tara’s voice was muffled as she took the phone into the kitchen. Only Spike’s vampire hearing could pick up her quiet explanations to Xander and Anya that Giles was there and not as happy about Buffy’s appearance as they might have thought.
Buffy had slumped back against the couch, shutting her eyes against even the dimmed lights and absently patting Dawn’s leg when her sister snuggled up against her. When Dawn whispered, “I’m glad you’re back. I really missed you,” Buffy squeezed her leg and nodded, without responding. After several tense minutes in which no one seemed to know what to say, Buffy opened her eyes again and spoke her first complete sentence.
“I’m tired,” she said quietly. “I’m going to bed.”
She stood up, Dawn hovering anxiously behind her, and walked towards the stairs. Ignoring Willow’s puzzled face and Tara’s worried one, she allowed Giles to hug her and whisper in her ear, “I can’t be sorry that you’re back, Buffy. I can’t. You are a miracle.”
She nodded her acceptance and gently ended the embrace. As she walked past the vampire, she stopped and met his soft gaze. “Thank you,” she whispered. He nodded, unable to speak – to tell her that he too couldn’t be sorry that she was back, that he was grateful that his promise to protect Dawn had kept him from lying on her grave to await the sunrise. The tiny smile that twitched the corner of her mouth gave him some hope that she had read his thoughts. As soon as she looked away, he left the house without a word to anyone else.
Once Buffy and Dawn were out of sight and they had heard the door to Buffy’s room close firmly behind her, Giles gestured to the couch and said with deadly calm, “Sit down.”
Years of habit had the two witches sitting before Willow could remember that she had just raised someone from the dead and had no need to be afraid of the old watcher.
“What’s wrong with you?” she immediately attacked. “You should be jumping up and down with joy.”
“The way Buffy is?” he asked quietly, with a pointed glance towards the upstairs.
Taken aback for only a few seconds, Willow quickly responded. “Buffy will be fine. You’ll see. Once she gets used to being back, she’ll be thanking me for getting her out of whatever hell dimension she was in.”
Giles nodded calmly. “Willow, do you know what it means to be Heaven’s Chosen One? The one who stands between the innocents of the world and the evil that stalks them? The one who is expected to give up her life if necessary to save that world?”
The red-haired witch frowned in confusion. Beside her, her girlfriend’s eyes were growing wide as the message behind the watcher’s words began to sink in. “Oh, Goddess,” Tara breathed softly.
Giles’ eyes flickered to hers briefly as he saw that his message had reached at least one of the girls. Willow stood up, her eyes flashing as she responded, “Of course, I know what it means. But just because she is expected to give up her life, doesn’t mean that she has to. She was in Hell, Giles. Did you expect me to just leave her there?”
“She was in a grave, Willow,” he said calmly; only his clenched fists gave away his distress. “Her body was in a grave. We put it there ourselves.”
“And now she isn’t in that grave. What’s your point?”
“Overlooking for the moment the fact that you left her to dig herself out of that grave,” he began, taking pleasure in the way that the self-confident witch blanched when reminded of how badly they had botched Buffy’s resurrection, “did it never once occur to you that if her body was truly dead, then her soul had been released to go to its proper place?”
He waited while Tara’s eyes filled with understanding and tears and Willow’s confident demeanor wavered briefly. Then the doubt was gone and the red-haired witch drew herself up to declare, “I did the right thing. You’re just jealous because you don’t have that kind of power.”
The Ripper’s violent past flared briefly as the man stood up to face the defiant girl he had known since she was a geeky sophomore in high school. “You don’t know what kind of power I have,” he said with quiet menace. “Do not challenge me, Willow. You have done a very stupid thing and it remains to be seen how much damage you have caused.”
“If I caused any damage,” she responded haughtily, “I’ll be able to fix it. You might want to think about what I can do before you go threatening me, Giles.”
With a last, cold glare, the watcher turned and left the house without so much as a “good-night”, vowing to call the Council’s coven as soon as he got home and ask them for advice on how to handle a very powerful, but untrained, arrogant and unpredictable witch.
He was almost to his car when he smelled cigarette smoke. He found Spike standing at the foot of the tree near Buffy’s room, staring up at the roof.
“What are you doing?” he asked, more roughly than he intended, his anger at Willow carrying over to the vampire.
“What I’ve done every night for the last four months,” Spike replied quietly as he prepared to leap up to the roof. “Watching over my girl – got even more reason now, don’t I?”
Giles shook his head. “I doubt, even as confused as she obviously is, that Buffy will need a bodyguard while she sleeps, Spike.”
The vampire turned haunted eyes on the other man. “There will be nightmares, Watcher. Trust me. She’s gonna be dreamin’ about that grave for a long time. Not gonna let her go through that alone.” Without another word, he leapt gracefully into the tree and swung his legs onto the roof. He settled down next to the window of Buffy’s room and closed his eyes, effectively shutting out the man staring at him from below.
Giles stared at the dark shape of the vampire who defied everything he’d ever been taught about demons. When he realized that Spike was through talking to him, he turned away, getting into his car and heading for his home and the trans-Atlantic phone calls he was going to have to make.
Second Seven Seasons challenge – What if someone had been listening when Buffy told Spike about being pulled out of Heaven?
Title -Tell It To Someone Who Cares
Author - Slaymesoftly
Rated – G
Word count – 504
Disclaimer – not mine, never were; but I love them
Tell It To Someone Who Cares
“I think I was in Heaven.”
The Slayer’s voice was soft, but audible as she turned to meet the vampire’s stricken eyes.
“They can never know,” she added quietly before moving out into the sunshine where he couldn’t follow. His hand stretched out, an automatic need to offer comfort causing him to forget momentarily that she was out of his reach. A muffled gasp reached his sensitive ears just as he snatched the smoking hand back with a curse; he ignored it, his eyes continuing to follow Buffy’s golden head as she moved out of the alley and turned towards her home. The sharp contrast between the warm sun, the glow with which it surrounded her, and the stark horror in her words left him speechless and bereft.
A choking sound reminded him that they had not been alone in the alley and he turned slowly to meet the haunted eyes of Buffy’s closest male friend. Trapped by the sun’s waning rays, Spike could only sit and watch as the emotions flew across Xander’s face. Horror, denial, dismay, acceptance, confusion; and then, the inevitable anger and jealously.
“Why did she…how could…why you? Why would she tell you something like that and not us…her friends…the people who love her…the people she can trust?”
Eyeing the distance between his shaded seat against the wall and the nearest manhole cover, the vampire stood up slowly and whispered, “Maybe because I’m the one who loved her enough to leave her there…”
“Oh, like you wouldn’t have done the same thing, if you could have! Save it, Spike.” The disdainful sneer could barely hide the trembling in Xander’s voice as his body continued to absorb and react to the full import of what he’d just learned.
Straightening up and suddenly appearing much less the annoying extra muscle that he had become to the Scoobies, and much more the master vampire that he actually was, Spike glared steadily into Xander’s eyes until the boy dropped them. His voice was controlled and cold.
“Do you really think, Whelp, that I couldn’t have found someone to do that kind of mojo for me, if I’d thought it was right? If I thought that she’d be grateful to me for bringing her back to the life that demands so much of her?”
“We thought…we thought she was in Hell. We thought we were saving her…” Xander’s voice was barely a whisper.
“Yeah, well - good on you, then.”
With a flash of black and platinum, the vampire was gone – the manhole cover dropping back into place before Xander had even registered his departure. With a moan that came all the way from his gut, the boy slumped onto the crate upon which Spike had been sitting, dropping his head back against the wall and shutting his eyes against the burden he now carried.
And now, the fluffy Spuffy challenge response:
What if Riley came back in “As You Were” without a wife? What would Buffy do?
Title: Not the Way We Were
Word count: 3100
Disclaimer: I’d like to think this is how it would have gone, if I’d been writing instead of that man who actually owns these characters…
AN: In this ficlet, Spike does not have the eggs – even to be holding them for someone else – he’s innocent of all charges. LOL
“R—Riley?” Buffy’s eyes registered his presence, but her mind was having trouble catching up. Only seconds before, she’d been counting the minutes until her break, wondering if the blond vampire would be waiting for her outside, as had become his custom lately. Suddenly, here, right in front of her, was her last human lover. The man who had left her when she wasn’t needy enough to suit him.
“Buffy, I’m sorry I didn’t call first, but this is an emergency. We have a situation and I need the Slayer.”
“Of…of course,” she mumbled, taking off her hat and ignoring the indignant shout from her manager. “Just let me…” She dropped the hat and apron, assuming, quite correctly, that she was going to be fired anyway. With a sigh, she flashed back to her rocky high school career and the inevitable consequences of having to put saving the world ahead on such mundane things as homework or attending class.
(I guess slayers just aren’t meant to live long enough to have actual lives. Yay me, for setting the precedent.)
She followed Riley out of the fast food restaurant and over to the big black SUV that he was driving. He hesitated for just a second before opening the door and she realized that he was wondering if he should hug her or not. Taking the decision out of his hands, she reached past him and yanked the door open, jumping in before he could react. If asked why she didn’t want to hug him, she would not have been able to say – it was just one of those things where her body responded before her brain could decide what it wanted to do.
“Okay,” she said cheerfully as he climbed in the driver’s side, “What’s up and what do I have to kill?”
He smiled at her enthusiasm, completely missing the artificiality of her return smile.
“Oh, Buffy. It’s so great to see you. I have so much to tell you – so much that has happened to me…” For the first time, she noticed an angry scar running across one cheek – clearly a fairly recent wound.
“I have stuff to tell you, too,” she said quietly, opening the package of special ops clothes that he had given her. “Things are really…different here.”
Barely pausing to acknowledge her words, he continued with his excited speech.
“I’ve done so much in the last year, had so much happened to me—“
“Did you die?” she interrupted somewhat abruptly.
“Wha-? No, of course not.”
While Riley drove, trying resolutely to keep his eyes on the road, Buffy struggled out of her uniform and into the black pants and shirt that he had brought for her. She noted idly that they were not her size, finding herself smiling as she remembered the extra shirts and underwear that Spike had begun keeping in his crypt. After listening to her complaining about having to go home half-dressed on nights when his enthusiasm for getting her naked took a toll on too many of her shirts, he had made an early evening trip to the mall where he stocked up on tee shirts, lacy bras and matching panties. Every piece had fit her perfectly.
Resolutely pushing thoughts of Spike out of her mind, she tried to concentrate on Riley’s description of the Sulvolte demons he’d been hunting all the way from South America. As always, he had all sorts of technological help for locating the subject of the search and they were soon standing and looking down into the place his locator had said the demon was hiding.
When he had hooked up his rappelling equipment and offered her his arms, she didn’t hesitate, stepping into his embrace and enjoying the warmth of his body as he skillfully dropped them over the edge and down the face of the dam. When they reached the bottom, Buffy found herself still being held tightly, her feet a good foot off the ground as Riley murmured into her ear.
“I’ve missed you, Buffy. I’ve missed you so much – I can’t tell you how often I’ve wondered if leaving was the wrong thing to do.”
(Ya think?) Aloud, all she said was, “I tried to stop you, you know. I ran as hard as I could, and I screamed your name, but the helicopter was taking off and you couldn’t hear me.”
“You did? You tried to---oh, God, Buff. I’m so sorr-“ He was interrupted by a roar as the Sulvolte demon that he’d been chasing burst out of the shadows and leaped at them. To Buffy’s surprise and disgust, Riley quickly threw her aside and tried to meet the demon head-on. Buffy’s flight had taken her only a short distance, just far enough to allow her to orient herself and land on her feet, facing Riley and the angry Sulvolte that was now pinning him to the ground.
Rolling her eyes at Riley’s typical “I need to protect you” actions, Buffy kicked the demon away from him, following its stumbling steps and kicking it again, bringing it to its knees. While it struggled to rise, Buffy grabbed its head and twisted until she heard a satisfying “crack”.
She turned to Riley triumphantly, dusting her hands as she said, “Okay, that’s one problem solved. What else have you got?”
“Uh…” His gaze went back and forth between Buffy and the dead demon. “I guess that would be the location of her nest. I was just planning to follow her to her eggs – not kill her. Not yet, anyway.”
“Oh.” Buffy bit her lip. “Well, it doesn’t matter, does it? I mean dead momma demon means no egg hatching, right? Or, nobody to feed the babies, anyway.”
“Not exactly, Buffy. The eggs can hatch just fine by themselves if the nest is in a warm, protected place; and the baby demons are born fully functional and voracious. They will decimate the population of Sunnydale if they are allowed to hatch. We have to find them- and the dealer who is selling them. He’s known as “The Doctor”.
“Um – probably would have been good if you’d told me that before we got here,” Buffy mumbled apologetically. “You know, like, before I killed her?”
“Yeah. Got that. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you would be able to take care of her so fast…”
“Slayer. The. Remember?” Buffy’s gentle smile took the sting out of her words and the big man shook his head and smiled back at her.
“How could I forget?” he asked softly, stepping closer to her. “Look, Buffy,” he began, running his knuckles over her cheek, “I know that this isn’t the time or place, but…”
“Okay!” she interrupted suddenly. “So we need to find some demon eggs and some guy known as “The Doctor”. Do we know if he’s human or what?”
Riley swallowed his disappointment and nodded his head. “Either human or a vamp – either way he doesn’t look like a demon. Not according to my sources anyway.”
“Well then, I guess Spi—“
“Spike! Of course. That’s brilliant, Buffy! I didn’t think of him because I just assumed you would have staked him by now; but, of course, if he’s still around something like this is right up his alley. All we have to do is find him, destroy the eggs and dust him…”
“I was thinking more along the lines of asking him if he’d heard anything about somebody calling himself The Doctor,” she said dryly. “Now, how to we get out of here?”
“The same way we got in,” he answered, indicating the rappelling equipment. “It’s made to pull us back up if needed.”
Once again, Buffy found herself wrapped in the arms of the man whose departure more than a year before had left her devastated. She briefly allowed herself to remember how sweet he could be, pushing aside any comparisons between the bland, boring love-making in which they had engaged and the spontaneous, mind-blowing and creative sex to which Spike had addicted her.
When they reached the top and he once again continued to hold her, she couldn’t keep the irritation out of her voice as she reminded him that they had demon eggs to find. He nodded reluctantly -- ever the good soldier -- releasing her and getting back into the vehicle. When he headed directly to Restfield Cemetery, Buffy groaned mentally.
(Oh, this should be fun. Maybe Spike won’t be home. He probably went to Willy’s or something…I hope.)
In spite of Buffy’s best efforts, Riley continued to bring the conversation back to her confession that she had run after him when he left Sunnydale.
“But, Buffy, I don’t understand. If you aren’t seeing anyone now, and if you really didn’t want me to leave…”
“I am seeing someone, Riley. Why would you think I wasn’t?” She frowned at him with genuine confusion, knowing that she hadn’t said anything one way or the other about her love life.
“When I went by the house – to find out where you were tonight – I…I asked Willow if you were dating. She said you weren’t. That you were…depressed, and not seeing anybody.”
“Oh.” (Think, Buffy, think!) Well, it’s kind of new, and I just haven’t…Look, Willow doesn’t know everything, all right?” (Oh, good job. That’ll work.)
“Are you depressed?” She could see his psych major mind at work, and shrugged.
“I was, maybe. I’m getting over it. I am over it.”
“Maybe I could help you with it,” he offered, with a smile. “I mean - since I was the cause, it seems only fair…”
“Huh? Wha? What does my depression – which I soooo don’t have, by the way – have to do with you?” Buffy’s obvious confusion and disbelief told him that he had jumped to the wrong conclusion.
“Well, you said you didn’t want me to leave…and you’ve been depressed for months, so I just assumed…”
“Riley, do you remember what I said about things being very different here? And about dying?”
“I thought you were speaking metaphorically.”
“No,” she said flatly. “I was not speaking metaphorically. I got my ass kicked by a god, I fought a freakin’ medieval army that wanted to get to Dawn before Glory did, I closed a portal to a hell dimension the only way I could – by jumping into it. I DIED, Riley. As in dead, buried, mourned and then, thanks to my idiot friends, resurrected. I’ve got issues you can’t even imagine. AND, I’m seeing someone.”
By the time she had finished, they had pulled up near Spike’s crypt and Riley had stopped the engine. He sat in silence for a minute, then shrugged and opened his door.
“Why don’t you stay here, Buffy? I can handle Spike. I’ll make him tell me where the eggs are and then I’ll get out of your hair. I’d kind of like to meet this new guy, though. Why isn’t he around?”
Buffy opened her own door and quickly got between Riley and the crypt. “I’ll talk to Spike. Why don’t you go to Willy’s and see what you can find out there?”
“I’m staying with you,” he insisted, stubbornly. “I still want to meet this guy—“
Ignoring him, Buffy pushed open the door to Spike’s crypt, hoping fiercely that he would not be home.
(Crap! So much for that plan!)
“Hullo, love.” His smooth, deep “I want Buffy voice” came drifting over from the kitchen area. “I was wondering when you’d get here. They said at the Doublemeant that you ran off with some…” As he walked out, his shirtless torso gleaming in the candlelit room, his voice trailed off when he saw who was standing behind her. “…soldier,” he finished in a much colder voice, setting down the two glasses of wine he’d been carrying.
“Um…yeah, see, Riley showed up and he needed some help to catch a demon – and I helped. Well, except that I killed it and it turns out that wasn’t the right idea and now we need to find some eggs and some guy called The Doctor…”
“And you’re here because….?”
Riley shouldered his way into the room, accidentally bumping Buffy out of the way and earning flashing amber eyes from the vampire and a loud, “Hey!” from the slayer.
“We’re here because we know you probably have something to do with this, Doctor. Where are the eggs?”
“Buffy?” Somehow Spike managed to put more into her name than she would have thought possible. She stared at him helplessly for a few seconds, then stepped closer to the glaring commando.
“Riley, I told you I didn’t think Spike was the Doctor – I said he might know something. What’s wrong with you?”
Riley looked from the shirtless vampire to the worried-looking slayer and back to the filled wine glasses that Spike had carefully placed on a table. His eyes roamed the crypt that had been so obviously a large grave the last time he’d been in it, noting the many candles, the quilts and cushions piled on the sarcophagus, the open door to what was obviously a downstairs – out of which the sounds of music were drifting.
“What’s wrong with me, Buffy, is that your friends don’t think you’re dating, you tell me you are, and this…this thing…wasn’t surprised to find you coming into his home at night. In fact, it looks like he was expecting company – female company. Do you care to explain, or should I just dust him now?”
“I don’t think either one of us owes you an explanation, soldier-boy,” the vampire growled when Buffy didn’t speak up. “You left her. Ran off to soothe your little ego, leavin’ her to face a hell-god by herself. What she does is none of your business.”
“It is if she’s doing it with you,” Riley gritted out. “I warned you, Spike. I told you if you touched her, I’d come back and use a real stake on you.” He turned to look at Buffy who was staring back and forth between the two men with wide, panicky eyes. “Buffy? I’ll give you one minute to convince me that this animal hasn’t somehow used your depression to get what he’s been wanting since last year- and then I’m going to do what I should have done before I left.”
Spike’s face was immobile, but Buffy recognized the tension in every line of his body. She wasn’t sure that a non-enhanced Riley was as fast as Spike, but he was certainly bigger and experienced in staking vampires. She moved quickly to stand in front of Spike, still without answering Riley.
“Tick tock, Buffy,” he said coldly, taking a stake out of his pocket. “You’ve got thirty seconds left—or else.“
Finally, the Slayer found her voice. “ ‘Or else’? EXCUSE me? Have you gone crazy?”
“I was crazy to leave you here without taking this thing out before I left. I should have known he’d find a way to—“
“This thing, as you insist on calling him, stayed to help me fight a hellgod after you ran off. He was tortured almost to death because he wouldn’t tell Glory who the key was. He was stabbed and thrown off a tower trying to save Dawn’s life. And he stayed again – taking care of my little sister just like he’d promised me he would. He did that while I was dead and buried – really not good girlfriend material. When I…came back… he was the only one to let me be miserable, even before he knew where I’d been. He didn’t insist that I be all grateful and happy, he didn’t get all mad when I wasn’t jumping for joy about being alive again, and he never…ever…asked for anything in return except to be able to help me feel better about being here.”
She stopped talking, taking deep gulping breaths and trying to control the angry trembling in her body. Riley misunderstood the trembling and moved closer to her saying in a soothing voice, “It’s all right Buffy. I understand that you don’t want to stake him. That you’re grateful to him. That’s why I’m going to do it for you. Once he’s gone, you’ll realize how wrong this is and you can—“
“Spike,” Buffy said tightly, “go downstairs, please.”
“Oh no, you don’t, Slayer. ‘m not hiding behind your skirts…” His voice was filled with righteous indignation, even as he edged towards the ladder.
“I’m not asking you to hide behind my skirts,” she purred. “I’m asking you to go down to the bedroom and light some candles. I’ll be right down.”
“Oh, well that’s different then,” he agreed with a smirk in Riley’s direction. “Don’t be long, love. You know how impatient I get…”
“Don’t push it,” she warned with a meaningful glare over her shoulder before turning back to Riley whose face appeared to be taking on a purplish tinge.
“Now, Riley, since you seem to be so fond of ultimatums, let me give you one; I’ll give you three seconds to get out of this crypt, thirty seconds to get out of the cemetery, and, oh, say, ten minutes to get out of my town. We’ll find your ‘doctor’ and his eggs and take care of them.”
“You said an ultimatum,” Riley said stiffly. “What if I don’t?”
“Then,” she said sweetly, “I’ll shove that stake somewhere you really don’t want it and throw you into the first vamp nest I can find.”
To the man’s credit, he didn’t argue or insist that she didn’t mean it; he just spun on his heel and left the building without closing the door behind him. Visions of the way she had snapped the neck of the Sulvolte demon kept him moving as he saw her silhouette outlined against the open door, watching him until the had turned the car and driven out of sight.
With a sigh, she closed the heavy wooden door and dropped the bar across. A sound from the other side of the room brought her head up and she met Spike’s eyes as he slowly rose out of the entrance to his bedroom. He walked over to her, reaching a tentative hand towards her face but only ghosting it over her cheek without touching her.
“You alright, pet?” His obvious concern for her when he could have been angry about her bringing Riley into his home was all the reassurance that she needed that she had done the right thing.
“I’m fine,” she said, brushing her lips against his mouth. “I’m just fine. But I guess it’s time to tell my friends that I have a boy friend before they start fixing me up with blind dates.”
And this is the grimmest of the challenge responses. Read at your own risk! The challenge was – Spike knows about the resurrection spell and tries to prevent it. What was he worried about?
Consequences by Slaymesoftly
Word Count: 2158
“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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