|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Spike’s made it through Buffy’s defenses. Will he be able to forgive her for what happened in the other dimension? Will she be able to forgive herself?
Fallen Performed by Sarah McLachlan http://youtu.be/5xyGOeG8vdo
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for the song suggestion (awesome song!), betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
Early morning hours, Tuesday July 5th, 2011. Inside Buffy’s subconscious…
“Buffy … what are you on about? What happened, pet?” Spike whispered softly, pulling back from her embrace. She sat in the long-abandoned planter where Spike had fallen after hitting the wall of the house, cradling him in her arms. His whole body still ached from being slammed against the wall of the mysterious death-house by the large vampires that had been guarding this nearly-lost part of Buffy’s subconscious. His skin was covered with scratches and gouges from the briars he’d crawled and dove through to get to her; the blood on them was now dried and caked with dirt. Apparently the Gem didn’t heal mystic wounds of the subconscious.
Buffy worried her bottom lip with her teeth, but didn’t answer. Unable to meet his eyes, she concentrated instead on his torn and tattered t-shirt, touching a finger down against one particularly deep wound on his abdomen.
“Buffy?” he prodded gently, lifting her chin so her eyes would meet his. “Tell me, luv.”
Buffy swallowed hard and lifted her eyes so she was looking past him rather than at him. She couldn't meet his eyes. “I … they … it …” she sighed heavily. “I didn’t mean to, Spike,” she said again. “I thought it was a dream … I thought … it was just a dream … of you, but it wasn’t – it was … them. And then … Annie … I was with him and she got hurt … I didn’t protect her…” she stammered the words out as tears flowed from her eyes.
Spike shook his head in confusion. “Who? What are you talkin’ about? The Niblett’s fine…”
Buffy finally shifted her eyes and looked at him directly. “No – she’s not. She’s … shattered and changed and it’s all my fault.”
“No, pet – she’s fine,” Spike argued, shifting in her embrace so he could hold her firmly by the shoulders, as if to convey his knowledge directly to her through his hands.
“NO! She’s not!” Buffy insisted angrily, pulling out of his grip and jumping up from where she’d knelt beside him. She began pacing back and forth in front of him, her arms waving out emphatically as she raved, “She got hurt because of me! Because of my stupidity and stubborn pride and … and … I let them fool me and I made love to them and I couldn’t even tell! You’ll see! You’ll see, Spike! You’ll see and you’ll hate me and I don’t blame you.”
Spike shifted and tried to scoot to the edge of the planter that he’d landed in so he could stand up too. His ribs felt like they were broken – all of them. He winced and stopped moving a minute to get the pain to subside as she continued pacing back and forth, her arms now wrapped around her torso as if just noticing the chill in the air.
“Buffy, I could never…” he started to object after a getting the pain to subside enough that he could take in a breath.
“Don’t say it! You don’t know! Don’t say you couldn’t hate me! Even Annie hated me! I hate me! You’ll hate me too,” she fumed at him.
Spike sighed heavily and swung his legs over the brick edge of the planter and got his feet on the ground. Now if he could just push himself up to standing. But he couldn’t, not quite yet – he just needed to breathe another minute.
As he tried to push past the pain in his body, Buffy grabbed up a broken piece of the thicket that the Reds had shredded in their effort to catch Spike and began scratching savagely at her arms and torso with it. Bright red blood, the color of an American Beauty rose, bloomed immediately from the deep gouges. The blood seemed to sparkle in the grey light, just as the demon’s had, like it was infused with glitter. It soaked into her now torn blouse and ran down her arms and body like thick, red paint.
Spike jumped up, ignoring the stabbing pain that shot through him, and encircled her with his arms, stopping her.
“Please don’t … it’s the only thing that helps,” Buffy moaned against him as her blood soaked through her clothes and into his.
“No, not gonna stand by anymore, pet,” Spike rebuffed her. “This ends now.”
Buffy shook her head and sobbed against him. He had no idea how right he was. As soon as he saw … as soon as he looked in the house, then it really would end. He’d hate her.
They stood there, not moving, not talking, for a good while until finally Spike said, “You gonna invite me all the way in?”
Buffy’s chin quivered in fear, but she backed up a step from him and nodded. There was no escaping it now. She offered Spike support, pulling his left arm over her shoulders so he could lean into her. When his pain subsided a bit and he relaxed slightly against her, they walked to the back of the house and up the steps.
At the back door, Buffy hesitated and let go of him. “You go… I … I see it all the time. I can’t stop seeing it,” she murmured, turning away from him and walking over to an old wicker rocking chair that sat on the wide veranda.
Spike sighed and watched her drop down heavily into the chair, resigned to her fate. The old wicker creaked and groaned in protest when her weight settled in it. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, then began to rock herself gently. The chair swayed slowly with her rhythmic movement. It seemed to moan with pain, as if it were too old for such an unrestrained, boisterous endeavor.
Spike studied her closely for the first time. The woman before him was only a shadow of Buffy. She was thin, concentration camp thin, barely more than skin and bones. Her skin was pasty and pale, with a sickly grey-green tint to it, and now caked with blood. Her eyes were rimmed in red and sunken into deep, purple-black sockets. Her hair was a mat of blood and grime, and Spike realized that there were long, sharp thorns tangled in it. Each time she moved, the thorns would jab into her scalp, scratching her, poking into the thin skin there, and producing more blood – more pain.
Around her torso he could see something glint in the dim light. He moved to the side to get a better look, and saw that she had a long strand of barbed wire wrapped around her chest. The strong wire was pulled tight, beginning just below her ribcage and wrapping round and round her torso, finally ending just under her arms. The sharp barbs, spaced every four inches or so along its length, cut through her shirt and dug painfully into her soft flesh. Blood glistened red and damp on the wire from where it had seeped out of the wounds it was inflicting. Each breath she took in tightened the homemade torture device around her ribcage, punishing her with the simple of act of being alive … breathing.
Spike swallowed and closed his eyes against the tears that welled in them. What had produced this tortured, broken part of her soul?
“Buffy, I won’t hate you – no matter what,” he assured her finally, unable to keep the tears and emotion from cracking his voice.
“You’ll see…” she replied softly, never looking up at him.
Spike ran a bloody hand through his hair and turned to the door. He took a deep breath and, as he stepped in, he was transported to the empty basement of their house on Crawford Street. The little play was already running. Bess was there, as well as … what was that ponce’s name? Andrew? They seemed to be trying to hold off more of the same vampires that he’d just had the pleasure of meeting. Cordy and Gunn were also there, but his eyes focused on Buffy, who was kneeling in front of him, holding some kind of bowl full of … Jell-O?
Spike’s brows furrowed. Was this something that had already happened or something that is going to happen? A portent of the future or was it some repressed memory? If it was a memory, then why didn’t he remember it? Why was the basement so empty? What was Andrew doing here? And Cordy and Gunn? And what the fuck were those red-eyed demons, anyway?
“What the bloody hell …” he murmured as he watched in confusion.
Suddenly, his attention was drawn back to Cordy, who was screaming, “You bitch!” Then, as she spun back to face Buffy, the cross-bow in her hand fired its bolt. It was like the movie went into slow motion for a moment. Spike could clearly see the projectile sailing through the air, right towards his wife. “Slayer!” he screamed in warning, but no one could hear him.
He watched in horror as the bolt embedded in Buffy’s back, piercing her heart cleanly, the tip emerging from her chest. Spike watched helplessly as his doppelganger tried to help her. The Spike in the horrible drama begged her to fight, to not leave him, but all along both Spike and this phantom that he didn’t remember, knew there was nothing that could be done. She was going to die very quickly.
As Spike watched, scenes began playing around the walls of the basement. Just like in the other houses, the memories that flashed through Buffy’s mind as she died were there for him to see. There were many of the same ones: scenes from her childhood, of her mother and father, a few with Angel, many more with Spike, and even more that included their children, ending with Annie screaming and holding her bleeding arm in the parking lot of the Green Grocer.
Most of these were familiar to Spike by now. Even if he hadn’t seen them in the other houses, some of the old ones of her childhood were exact copies of snapshots in photo albums they had.
Then things got unfamiliar: Annie falling into a portal; Buffy and Annie fighting giant bats and more of those same red-eyed demons; he, Buffy, and Annie at the vineyard north of town; Buffy trying to wake up Dawn. Dawn?? It finally occurred to Spike that the reason he didn’t remember this was that this wasn’t him.
It was some other Spike and some other dimension. He watched, transfixed, as bits and pieces of what had happened shown on the walls. He realized that he was missing pieces of her memories, and he turned around to look at what was being projected on the wall behind him. He and … Riley Finn were … kissing?
Spike’s face contorted like he’d just bit down on a lemon soaked in saltpeter. Then Finn burst into sparkling red and grey dust. Spike felt infinitely better.
Spike’s eyes were drawn away from the memories playing around him and back to the scene in the center of the floor, as his counterpart howled in utter agony. Spike watched himself crumble with the weight of the Slayer’s death. Then, as he lay in a heap of sorrow and regret, he apologized to her.
Tears swam in Spike’s eyes as he watched – he knew that feeling too well. He’d never get the image of Buffy falling from the fire escape out of his mind; he’d never get the feeling of failing her in that moment out of his heart.
Suddenly, all hell broke loose in the room as the red-eyed demons swarmed en masse. He saw Bess dust two or three before she was overrun. Andrew kept them back until his holy water ran out, then he was trampled. Gunn and Cordy, despite being armed and apparently dangerous, were easily overtaken, as well. Unlike the effect the weapon had on Buffy, the bolts from their crossbows did little more than agitate the large demons when they struck them in their wiry chests.
Spike looked back to where he and Buffy lay amid the chaos. He watched himself scoop up a handful of the Cherry Jell-O, now mixed with Slayer blood, and swallow it. It only took a moment before his twin’s body began to tremble and convulse as if in the throes of unimaginable agony. Then smoke began to rise from his body, as if he was being burned from within. Spike braced himself, trying to prepare himself to witness his own dusting.
The smoke increased steadily, as did the fits and convulsions of his doppelganger. He was thrashing and flailing on the floor now like someone having a severe seizure or epileptic fit. Spike clenched his fists and jaw, willing himself not to look away. He could feel the tension in his gut and his chest pulling tighter and tighter as he waited for himself to die … really die: dust.
Then the whole room began to spin like a top. Bright lights flashed and the ground tilted and bucked under his feet. And then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. For a moment, everything was still and quiet, then someone dropped a penny in the machine and the hologram began from the beginning, which he hadn’t seen before.
Buffy was on the floor, holding him … or not him – some other ‘him’, in her arms. “Welcome back,” she murmured. “I hate to tell you this, but … it didn’t work … yet.”
The part of Buffy that remembered sat in the old, wicker rocker and waited. Her knees were pulled up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, and her head rested atop them in defeat. She waited for what she knew was coming. Spike would see. He would know what she did. He would know how she betrayed him. He would know how she failed Annie. He would hate her.
She was exhausted. She’d been here in this dark corner of Buffy’s brain for weeks fighting to keep the secret, but it was over now. Buffy may not have been able to penetrate the cloak she’d put up around the house, or fight through the maze of overgrown rosebushes and briars that surrounded it and get by the guards she’d conjured, but Spike could … and did.
She’d been dead. She’d been in limbo, sprinting towards the wall of the spider pit, dozens of the ugly creatures right on her heels, when she’d suddenly been yanked back with a whoosh and a swirl of bright lights. Something had happened and everything had changed. She didn’t know what had changed. Had Spike succeeded in changing the past after she died? It seemed unlikely; the Reds were pressing in on them – there had been precious little time, but she had no other explanation for the reversal.
None of the other Buffys that resided in the Slayer’s conscious or subconscious remembered; only her, and that was best. But the Slayer couldn’t leave it alone. She kept looking, kept sending spies out to try and find the source of the discomfort that oozed out of the house like pus from a festering wound. Up until now, the part of Buffy that had been dead when everything changed, the only part that remembered, had been able to keep the truth hidden. She couldn’t stop the feelings that seeped out from around the house, but she could keep her failure secreted away here next to Death. Buffy didn’t visit this place often – it was the perfect hiding spot, or so she thought.
After spending a long time waiting for him to emerge, she heard Spike’s boots scrape heavily across the wooden floorboards, and stop in front of her. His steps were slow and to Buffy they seemed forlorn, not his normally confident stride. She didn’t look up. There was no need. She knew the hurt she’d see in his eyes. She knew what was coming next.
Spike dropped down into a squat in front of her and she felt his hand, so strong and yet gentle, touch her bowed head. She still didn’t move or look up. She couldn’t face him. Tears fell from her eyes as she waited for him to say something. Would he be angry, or just hurt? She hoped for angry; she’d rather have him beat her to death than simply stand there and look at her with tears swimming in his blue eyes.
She felt his hand moving in her tangled, bloody, rat’s nest of hair. His fingers, so long and graceful, began reaching into the knotted, snarled mess and pulling the thorns out. Buffy held her breath. What was he doing? Perhaps he planned on using them to poke beneath her fingernails. After a moment, both of his hands were ghosting over her hair, looking for the thorns and plucking them, one by one, out of her hair and scalp. It felt … gentle and loving and she wished with all her might that he would stop.
He didn’t. Not until every last thorn was removed and tossed to the side.
“Buffy,” he whispered to her after the task of removing the thorns from her hair was done. “Stand up, luv.”
Buffy shook her head against her knees, still not looking at him.
“You owe me this,” Spike insisted. “Stand up,” he commanded more firmly. She could hear the leather of his duster creak a bit as he stood up, then his boots shuffled backwards, giving her room to stand.
Buffy heaved a heavy sigh and the barbed wire corset dug into her flesh deeper - it was a comfort. There was no arguing with his contention – she did owe him. She finally unfolded her legs slowly – they’d grown stiff being in the same position for so long. When her feet hit the wooden floorboards she pushed up from the rocker, but kept her eyes trained on the floor, still unable to look at him.
His voice sounded angry when he’d spoken; that was good – she'd rather he be angry than hurt. He moved around her slowly and she moved stiffly forward, giving him room to get behind her between the chair and her body. She braced herself for a blow: a kick or a punch – perhaps even a bite. Instead, she felt his fingers tracing the barbed wire that was looped around her torso, apparently looking for the end of it. She drew in a breath and let it out slowly – yes, that would be better, simply pull the wire tighter and tighter until it cut her in half.
“Arms up,” he ordered. His lips were near her cheek, making her jump, his voice unexpectedly loud in her ear.
Buffy complied. As she stood there, eyes trained on the floor, arms over her head, Spike began unwinding the length of barbed wire from her torso. Some places were embedded deeply into her flesh and took some effort to free them. More sparkling, red blood began to flow from the fresh wounds that were created as he pulled it off her.
Buffy winced, but otherwise didn’t move as he worked. She tried to figure out what he was doing – why he was unwinding it. Maybe he wanted to use it to strangle her with or …
Spike dropped the bloodied barbed wire on the floor next to her. Buffy flinched back from it and brought her arms down, wrapping them around her torso. She could see the home-made torture device out of the corner of her eye as she kept her eyes trained on the floor in front of her and waited for whatever he was going to do next. After a moment, his boots and legs appeared in her field of vision – he was standing in front of her.
Spike reached out a hand and lifted her chin until her eyes met his. Buffy was physically trembling now, unsure what he was going to do, but sure that, whatever it was, it would probably be the last thing he ever did to her. After he took his revenge, he’d leave her. He’d hate her and he’d leave and she’d never see him again.
Her body tensed and a violent shiver ran through her when she met his eyes. She tried to keep breathing, but just the effort of it was painfully difficult. Heartbreak clenched at her chest as she waited for the inevitable – waited for the end.
“I love you, Buffy,” Spike said at last. It was said flatly, simply a statement of fact.
Tears swam in her eyes and she nodded slightly. “I love you, too,” she replied just above a whisper, using the last of the breath she had in her lungs.
“I know you do. That’s why I know you didn’t do that t’ hurt me,” he waved his hand at the house and the tableau that still played in there. “It wasn’t deliberate, pet. You were alone; you did the best ya could.”
Buffy shook her head and took in a painful breath. “No … not the best. I … let you down, I let Annie down. I … I’m so sorry, Spike.”
“Buffy – you died trying t’ fix it!” Spike argued with her.
“There shouldn’t’ve been anything to fix,” she objected, her voice full of resignation.
“Buffy, I saw what happened. You did your best. Why'd you think I’d hate you, pet?” Spike pressed. “Do you think that little o’ me?”
Buffy’s eyes went wide and she shook her head adamantly. “No! No … it’s just … I hate myself. Our own daughter hated me! I mean really hated me – not ‘you won’t let me stay out past ten p.m.’ hate … hate as in ‘you ruined my life’. And she was right! I ruined her life! I didn’t protect her. I was so stubborn and stupid and then … Riley.” Buffy closed her eyes and her trembling intensified as she shook her head in shame.
“Buffy, you’re the Slayer. You can’t change that and I wouldn’t ask ya to, luv. You did what you thought was best for the greater good. You went on that patrol to help. It’s who you are. If I’da been in your place, I would’a done the same.”
“I doubt that,” she muttered as she continued shaking her head. After a moment, Buffy looked back up at him. “I’m her mother. I need to put my family first. I … I can’t be the Slayer – I have to be a mother. I can’t … Spike, I don’t know how to be a mother and a Slayer. I … can’t do it.”
“Yes, you can. You’ve been doin’ it. You can do it,” Spike assured her.
“No, not really. I haven’t really been doing both – I’ve been doing one or the other. I haven’t had to choose before. In that moment, I chose to be a Slayer over being a mother. My brain knew … it knew not to take her on that patrol. I FUCKING KNEW!” Buffy screamed the last words at him, finally unwrapping her arms from around her torso and flinging them out to the side adamantly. “But I still went, I still chose the Slayer over the mother.”
“You let Faith be the General, stepped right away from that, you did,” Spike reminded her.
“Lip service,” Buffy spat. “You and I both know when it comes to it, I’ll be right there next to her. I’ll be right in the thick of it … putting the Slayer first.”
“I don’t know that, and unless you’ve grown a third eye, neither do you, pet,” Spike argued. “Buffy, give yourself a bloody break and give me a little fucking credit.
“You think I’d blame you for what happened to the Niblett? Well, I don’t. You think I’d be angry and jealous o’ what happened with Finn and … Spike. Well … yeah … ok, I am. But not at you – at them. He shoulda known. He’d had a bloody century with the bond – you’ve had a decade. He shoulda stopped it – he took advantage.”
Buffy shook her head. “I don’t think he knew…”
“Balls!” Spike spat. “He didn’ want t’ know! I can understand it. Mighta done the same m’self in that position, but don’t delude yourself, Slayer – he bloody well knew. Deep down, he knew. He knew somethin’ was off, it would've felt too real … he could tell the bloody difference, he just didn't want to admit it.”
Spike’s tone softened and he took her by the shoulders. “I don’t hate you. I don’t blame you. I’ve been around a helluva lot longer than you – you need to trust me on this. What happened was not your fault.
“T’ top it off – whatever was in that cherry Jell-O that ya gave him seems to have … fixed it. The Niblett’s fine. Apart from the stitches in her arm, she don’t seem t’ have any scars, mental or otherwise, from it. No one else seems t’ remember any of it, either, including me. Probably the only reason you have this … scar from it is ‘cos you were dead when things … changed. You need to let it go, pet.”
Buffy just kept shaking her head as she stood in front of him. He looked so sure, so confident; his voice was so calm and adamant. He almost made her believe him.
Buffy turned and walked slowly away from him. She stopped and leaned on the railing around the porch, looking out towards Death. “It doesn’t change the fact that I … I can’t be trusted to keep them safe, Spike. I … I’ll always be the Slayer. The mission will always come first. Even if my mind knows what to do, something inside me is … broken. Having Slayer inside is worse than a demon. It looks harmless enough, it sounds like it’s righteous and full of good, but really … it’s selfish – the mission is what matters. The mission always comes first.
“What happens if next time my Slayer-ness costs one of them their lives, Spike? Are you gonna forgive me for that? Just brush it off because that’s ‘who I am’?” Buffy asked harshly, never looking at him, but keeping her eyes trained on Death in the backyard.
Spike walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her, and rested his chin on her shoulder as he looked out at the bottomless, black crater that she’d crawled out of three times now.
“Buffy, all parents just do the best they can, pet. We’ve got nasties jumpin’ out at us from all directions, and the older the bits get, the more danger they’ll be in. I dunno the answer, pet, I really don’t. But, I know they’re better off, safer, with you there than not. I know you love them more than your own life. I know they need you. I know I need you. I wish we could run and hide far away from Hellmouths and …”
Buffy spun in his arms, eyes wide. “Why can’t we?! We could leave – go somewhere plain vanilla and safe! Somewhere … in the middle … Nebraska or … Kansas or something like that. I don’t have to be the Slayer … I can be … Suzie Homemaker and bake cookies and … Oh! I could be the annoying Soccer Mom that calls everyone to make sure they remember all the practices and…”
Spike was shaking his head and Buffy stopped talking. She gave him a pleading look and he dropped a kiss on her forehead. “You’re the Slayer, Buffy. You’d go stark ravin’ mad doing that.
“It’d be like me tryin’ t’ live on nothin’ but beer and crisps. Sooner or later, I’d crack and start feedin’ on the mailman. You can’t be somethin’ you’re not. You can’t deny your true nature, pet. It just won’t work.”
Buffy sighed and leaned against him and Spike wrapped his arms around her tightly. “I love you, Buffy,” he said again.
“I love you too, Spike,” she whispered against his chest. “I’m so sorry.”
Spike squeezed her tighter in his arms and dropped a kiss atop her head. “Everything’s alright, pet. I don’t hate you – I understand you better than ya think. My demon and yours are two sides t’ the same coin. I’ve lived with it a lot longer than you have, pet, and I know what it feels like to be at its mercy. I’ve done a lot of bad things in m’ life and most of ‘em were to appease the demon.”
“But you don’t now,” Buffy pointed out.
“Ahhh … got a soul now, don’t I?”
“Pretty sure I have a soul … at least in theory. It didn’t stop me from…” Buffy pulled back and looked up at him. “I couldn’t fight it – how do you fight it?”
“Easier for me t’ fight, pet. My demon is evil: clear cut, no grey area, died in the wool, evil. Now, not saying your demon’s better ‘an mine, mind you, but it’s … different. Still made from evil, but warped a bit – skewed to the side of goodness and light. It’s harder to fight ‘cos it feels right – it feels moral and righteous to do what it wants, yeah? There’s lots of shades of grey there ya gotta fight through.”
Spike backed up a step from her. “Do your sacred duty an’ help your friends fight the monsters,” he said, holding one hand out, palm up. “Or stay outta the fight, perhaps to the detriment of the greater good, and knit booties with the Niblett,” he finished holding the other hand out. He raised and lowered each hand slightly, as if weighing the options, then settled them both even with each other. “Not an easy choice, pet. They both feel right.
“It’s a lot easier for me,” he continued, leaving just one hand in the air, palm up. “Kill an innocent victim,” he began. “Or don’t,” he finished, raising his other hand several inches above the first. “Easy to judge that, yeah? No bloody grey area there.”
Buffy sighed and nodded slightly. “I guess,” she agreed grudgingly.
“What if ya hadn’t have gone and something had happened t’ one of the others, pet? You’d still be standing ‘ere second guessin’ yourself. In fact, if one of them had died on that patrol, you might not've gotten back at all – might not have had the chance to put anything right. We do the best we can in the moment – that’s all we can do,” Spike assured her.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she agreed unenthusiastically.
“O’ course I’m right, pet. Bloody hell – who you think you’re dealin’ with? I’m more than just a pretty face, ya know,” he told her, cocking a brow and giving her a small smile.
Buffy smiled back at him for the first time since he’d gotten here. “Yeah … your body’s pretty hot too.”
Spike snorted as if insulted. “And I thought ya married me for m’ brain and Freudian insights into the Slayer psyche.”
Buffy stepped forward and wrapped her arms back around his waist, and Spike held her against him for a long while. Finally, Buffy said, “I always thought you were more like Dr. Phil than Freud.”
Spike snorted. “Tosh! Dr. Phil wouldn’t make a bloody pimple on my lily-white arse.”
Spike and the part of Buffy that had been guarding the secret stood there for a long while, not talking, not doing anything but leaning on the other for support.
After a time, Spike broke the silence, “Got somethin’ you need t’ do for me now.”
Buffy nodded against him. “I know,” she answered softly.
“C’mon, pet, I’ll help ya,” he offered as he pulled out of her embrace and took one of her hands into one of his. His long fingers wrapped around her small hand comfortingly, giving her strength.
Buffy took a shuddering breath and nodded her assent. Spike started leading her towards the back steps, then down and onto the stone path that wound between the dead brambles and bushes to the front yard. The closer they got to the front gate, the more Buffy began to tremble again until she was shaking like a leaf in a summer storm.
“I don’t … I don’t know if I can do it,” she finally stammered, pulling out of his grasp just as he pushed the front gate open.
“You can,” he assured her, turning back to face her. “You gotta let yourself remember. It’s the only way to banish the ghosties. I need you to remember. I need you to stop hurting yourself. I need you back, the bits need you back … all of you.”
Buffy closed her eyes and pulled her lips between her teeth as she tried to summon the courage to step out of the ring of protection she’d put around the memory and set it free. She knew it was the only way for her whole consciousness to deal with it, and she believed Spike when he said he wouldn’t hate her, but she was still frightened of it. She’d spent so long being afraid – so long protecting the secret – that it was hard to simply step out into the light with it now.
“C’mon, pet – I’m right beside ya. We’ll do it together,” he encouraged her as he stepped back next to her and put one arm over her shoulders.
Buffy took a deep breath, looked up at him, and nodded. Then together they stepped out of the gate, out of the protection of the unmapped, half-hidden house, and into the public street – into her stream of consciousness.
Buffy opened her eyes. She was still lying on her side facing Spike in the tent in Willow and Tara’s back yard. Her heartbeat thrummed quickly and loudly in her ears as all the memories that had been hidden from her flooded back.
A moment later Spike opened his eyes. He reached out for her and pulled her close, holding her tightly to him. Buffy began to sob against his chest; her whole body shook with the force of her emotions.
Spike whispered to her softly and gently shushed her, and finally her sobs died down to soft shuddering breaths and silent tears. “I’m so sorry, Spike,” she rasped out at last.
“No worries, pet. I’ll always love you – never doubt that,” he whispered back to her.
Buffy dug down into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out the Swiss Army knife. She pulled one of his hands away from around her back and pressed it into his palm. “I’m sorry I made you …” her voice cracked and she shook her head against his chest. “I’m just sorry.”
Spike nodded as he took the knife from her. He stuffed it into his pocket then
gently kissed the tears from her face. “Welcome back, luv.”
The super-heavy angst is pretty much done now, but there will always be tears with my evil muse. Now that Buffy's conscious mind remembers what happened, can she find a silver lining in the experience? We also have the Slayer Olympics to look forward to, including a visit from Sue-Ann, and later, Spike and Xander go on a mission together.
And what became of the Gift-less Universe? What did that Spike do to change things? Did it work out better for him, or did it just turn into a different kind of torture? Although Unexpected!Spuffy may never know what he did, I promise that we will find out later.
More to come ...
Fallen, Performed by Sarah McLachlan
Heaven bend to take my hand
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