|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
I Believe In You
Now it’s up to Gift-less!Spike.
Click here to view history timeline and key dates.
Allison Kraus (originally by Bob Dylan), I Believe In You http://youtu.be/qadnY8p-Hi8
Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more). http://broken-innocence.net/index2.html and also from BuffyWorld.com
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for 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:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Late Tuesday night, May 11th, 2011 – Wednesday Morning, May 12th, Gift-less Universe:
Gift-less!Spike ‘ooomphed’ even though Buffy and Bess laid him down as gently as they could on the mattress that Buffy had shared with William the night before. He was unconscious – he had been for a while. Andrew came running from somewhere when he heard them, looking behind them for the other Spike.
“What happened?!” he asked frantically as he grabbed his medical supplies and headed for the downed warrior. “Where’s the other one? He didn’t dust … tell me he didn’t dust!”
“Sp… William stayed behind,” Buffy explained dully. No one else knew that Spike, her Spike, had come back to her at the last moment. It would be easier to just continue to call him William; it would be less confusing.
“What!? Why!?” Andrew exclaimed as he began cleaning Spike’s wounds and trying to assess how bad they were.
“So the Reds wouldn’t follow us looking for … him,” Buffy told Andrew, tilting her head towards Spike.
“Oh, Yoda help me,” Andrew breathed when he turned Spike over to look at the wounds on the backs of his legs.
“Can you fix it?” Buffy asked.
Andrew looked up at her with wide eyes, shaking his head slowly. “Fix? I … it’s … his hamstrings and muscles are … shredded. Who … how?”
Buffy’s stomach turned when Andrew cut away the fabric of Spike’s jeans to reveal his wounds. She had to look away from the gruesome, bloody mess of torn sinew, muscle, and skin. “The Reds did it. They wanted the scroll and the book he took. He wouldn’t tell them anything.”
Buffy swallowed hard and concentrated on looking at Andrew instead of Spike. “Can you just bandage him up, stop the bleeding and … wake him up?” she asked.
Andrew frowned and looked back down at Spike’s wounds. “I can try,” he muttered under his breath. Why did everyone think he could just wake people up at will? Seriously? He’d tried for days to wake Spike up after getting him out of Bob’s pit with no luck. What made her think he could just snap his fingers and wake him up now?
“Good. When you’re done, I need you to get your priest gear, grab about a gallon of sea water, and bless it for me,” Buffy continued.
Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Spike’s gonna use the red-goo to go back in time and fix things.”
Andrew gave her a surprised look. “He won’t be able to walk for … weeks, maybe months!”
“He doesn’t need to walk – he just needs to be awake. Get him fixed up and get that holy water. I’m gonna gather up some of the ruby dust from the common area,” Buffy told him as she started to walk away.
“Oh, by the way,” Buffy called back over her shoulder. “This is our daughter, Bess. Bess, this is Andrew. Play nice – I’ll be right back.”
Andrew and Bess eyed each other a moment, then Andrew offered, “Welcome to my humble abode.”
Bess smiled slightly and looked around. “I’m thinking it’s not much of an ‘abode’ … no vamp barrier.”
Andrew snorted as he continued cutting Spike’s jeans off so he could see the full extent of the injuries. “I did my best to make it homey! It’s not my fault mysterious, magical barriers don’t recognize lairs as sacrosanct. Apparently, that’s an evil loophole that needs to be addressed with …” Andrew stopped talking and looked up at her with narrowed eyes. “How to you know there’s no vamp barrier?”
Bess smiled wider but didn’t answer him. “Do you need help?” she asked instead, motioning with her head at Spike.
“No – I’ve got it,” Andrew declined, suddenly wary and feeling protective of his unconscious patient.
Spike? Buffy called through the bond when she was out in the common area and alone.
Hey, pet. Miss me already? he sent back.
Buffy smiled. Yes – terribly. Are you alright?
Right as rain. Any trouble gettin’ out?
Not much, Buffy replied. Ran into a couple of Reds down near the gangplank, but we took care of them. Are you really alright? The Reds … haven’t gotten in yet?
Oh, yeah, they got in, he acknowledged. Lost a few fingers and arms along the way, they did. Then I took ‘em on a little romp ‘round the ship – up the escape hatch. We did a little dosado ‘round the deck. Now we’re playing hide n’ seek … it’s a slap and a tickle.
Buffy laughed lightly and shook her head as a small bit of relief flowed over her. Well, if you can keep one step ahead of them for a while longer, maybe …
Gotta run, pet! Sorry … love you! he cut her off and Buffy felt the bond close. The relief evaporated like raindrops on hot pavement. She pushed her worry down, reminding herself that he had the Gem and he would be alright. He was smart. He was fast, he was devious, he was strong, he was dangerous … he was Spike. Of course, the other Spike had gotten captured just a few hours ago by those very same vamps that were now chasing her husband. Shit!
Buffy grabbed a small, plastic garbage can, scooped up some of the red glitter dust from the floor, and headed back to Room 314. Hopefully, Andrew had Spike woken up by now and Spike … the other Spike, her Spike, wouldn’t have to dance too much longer.
“You’re not blessing it right!” Buffy accused Andrew a little while later. She clenched her fists in anger, trying very hard not to throttle the Jedi Priest.
“I am so!” Andrew whined, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m doing it just the same as before!” he insisted.
“Then why isn’t anything happening to it?” Buffy asked, sloshing the red glitter and holy water around in the garbage can. It wasn’t expanding like it had before. She’d even put her face above it and inhaled deeply. Absolutely nothing had happened.
“How should I know!?” Andrew snapped back, stomping his foot down for emphasis.
Buffy looked up at the ceiling. “Fuck! What the fuck else could possibly go wrong?”
“There you are with that pretty word again, Slayer. I’m still waiting for you to explain the meaning of that t’ me,” Spike teased as he lay on his stomach on the mattress. His legs were bandaged from hip to knee and his jeans had been made into cut-off, Daisy Duke shorts. He’d simply loved that – much like cats love baths. Andrew, on the other hand, was quite pleased with the wardrobe change. The Jedi Priest was careful not to let it show, though, or stare too long at Spike’s bare calves. It was a shame the vamp’s thighs were completely covered with the bandages … a real shame.
“’Course …” he continued, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply. “I reckon you showed William what it meant right ‘ere just last night.”
“Spike – this isn’t some kind of game! This has to work! It has to … it just … fucking has to!” Buffy scolded him as tears of frustration burned her eyes.
Spike sighed. “Sorry, pet. I know … I just …” He shook his head and then dropped it down heavily onto the pillow. “You got a lotta faith in …” his voice trailed off and he shook his head again.
Buffy knelt on the mattress next to him and laid a hand on his back. “Spike, I have faith in you. I know you can do it. I just know you can. Everyone’s counting on you. Me, Annie, Dawn, all the Scoobies – hell, the whole world is counting on you … and Buffy is too.”
Spike snorted. “No pressure then. Brilliant,” he moaned, rolling his eyes behind closed lids. Who did she think he was, anyway, bloody Atlas?
“Can I ask ya something, Slayer?” Spike questioned solemnly, looking up at her.
“Of course,” Buffy replied as she kept looking at the inert glitter floating in the water.
“How do I …” Spike swallowed and faltered.
When he didn’t continue, Buffy looked up at him. “What?”
Spike took a breath and started again. “If I can ... do this – go back, how do I make ‘er … love me? What’s the secret o’ Buffy?”
Buffy gave him a small, sad smile and set the garbage pail down. “I forgot you never got the chance to see …” she took a deep breath in through her nose and blew it out through her mouth. “Her demon. Slayer's are made from darkness, just like vampires. Try to reach the demon inside her. Try to get her to accept it instead of … denying it. She won’t want to, but you can show her how to … how to live with it – how to even enjoy living with it … well, most of the time, anyway. And let her come to you – don’t push her, that’ll just make her push back.
“But you’ll have to show your true self to her, Spike. You’ll have to show that little bit of William’s soul to her.”
Spike started to object but Buffy laid a finger on his lips, silencing him. “It’s there. I can feel it inside you. You’ve just forgotten – let yourself feel it, Spike. Trust William. He really isn’t as big a ponce as you’d like to think,” Buffy assured him. “She has to trust you; she has to know she can count on you, no matter who or what stands in your way, and you’ll need William’s soul for that. But she also has know, and accept, that she has a demon inside her too; just like you.”
Spike nodded thoughtfully and Buffy pulled her finger away from his lips. "How do I ... reach it ... 'er demon?"
Buffy shrugged slightly. "Sex sells," she advised. "But don't push. Just ... lay it out there and wait for her to make the move."
Spike cocked a brow at her, but Buffy had turned her attention back to the holy water in the garbage can. Specks of red glitter floated in it benignly – absolutely nothing was happening to it.
Bess, who had been waiting as Buffy talked to Spike, dipped her hand in the water and pulled it out with a squeal as it began to burn immediately. “Shit!” she swore as she rushed into the kitchen to wash it off with tap water.
“See! I told you so!” Andrew announced, vindicated. He had finally deduced that Bess was a vampire. This epiphany came a little while after Spike woke up and told him to get them both some blood.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Fine – it’s not you. Something else is wrong.”
“It’s the dust,” Bess announced as she came back from the kitchen, her burnt hand wrapped in one of Andrew’s good, hand-embroidered tea towels. He scowled at her; she didn’t notice.
Bess picked up a pinch of the red glitter off the floor. “It doesn’t smell right,” she explained further, lifting it to her nose. “It’s like it’s … stale or …” she smelled it again and wrinkled her nose up, “… maybe contaminated with something.”
Bess held it out to Spike for him to smell. “Bloody hell,” he moaned. “The girl’s right. It’s been depleted by the holy water it was soaked in before! All the … mojo or whatnot’s gone out of it.”
Buffy let out a relieved breath. “Ok, so we need some fresh Red dust. I think there’s some right outside the door,” she began as she started to stand.
“No – that won’t be any good. Those Reds dusted from the holy water – be the same bloody problem,” Spike asserted. “We need some from somewhere else – maybe by the tower or…”
“Crawford Street,” Bess interjected. “The basement floor’s covered with it. Do you want me to go get some?”
Buffy shook her head. “No – I don’t want us splitting up any more; it’s too dangerous. We’ll all go. We can do it there just as well.”
Spike’s wounds began bleeding again on the trip to the mansion on Crawford Street. Buffy had carried him this time – she wasn’t as gentle as Bess had been on the trip from the docks. At least, the part he remembered of Bess carrying him had been smoother – right up until he had passed out from the pain. He thought it best not to mention it to the Slayer, though – she might just drop him. His head still hurt from where she’d purposely banged it into the wall in the passageway of the ship.
Andrew had brought a clean blanket, which he spread out on the dirty floor of the basement to try and keep Spike’s wounds and bandages clean. He knew vampires didn’t get infections, but still … dirty wounds were just unhygienic and gross. Bess and Andrew helped Buffy set Spike down as gently as possible on the blanket.
Spike closed his eyes and willed the pain to subside. His legs weren’t the only things that hurt. He was pretty certain he had some bruised or broken ribs, his head hurt, not only from Buffy’s mistreatment of him, but from blows he’d taken from the Reds during their interrogation. Adding to his misery, his dislocated shoulder felt like it had a dagger being twisted in it, which had been made worse by all the dangling over little girls’ shoulders as he was carted all over town. And, the pièce de résistance: he was wearing short-shorts and being ogled by Andrew, which wasn’t physically painful, but being unable to throttle the little poofter was wearing on his finite supply of patience.
The very worst pain, however, was one that he couldn’t attribute to anything physical – it was the weight of the world that rested on his too-narrow shoulders. Everyone, Buffy had pointed out, was counting on him to do this. He was supposed to find a way to communicate with his past-self at just the right moment as his life flashed before his eyes. And, according to Buffy, it didn’t run in sequence, so he couldn’t just sit back and wait for the right moment to arrive; he had to be ready to … to what? To get past-Spike to listen to his future self. And, since that alone wasn’t gonna be hard enough, make sure you don’t let the rollercoaster ride of emotions overwhelm you and turn you into a blithering idiot. Sounded like a bloody cake walk in the park.
“Ok, you ready?” Buffy asked Spike as she crouched down in front of him.
“No,” he answered honestly.
“Good. Here we go. Ok, remember to keep in mind what you want to get through to yourself. It needs to be short and fast – you never know how much time you’ll have in any particular moment in time,” Buffy advised.
“Buffy … I …” Spike began and faltered, pressing his eyes closed so he couldn’t see her looking at him with those hopeful eyes. He’d done nothing but let the Slayer down – in all honesty, he’d let everyone he’d ever truly loved down. He’d let his mother down in countless ways, he’d let Dru down by falling for and helping the Slayer, and he’d let Buffy and Dawn down by not keeping his word, not protecting them when he’d promised to. He’d let this woman in front of him down by goading her into going on patrol with her daughter – and it had cost the girl her legs. Everyone. Everyone he’d ever cared anything for, he’d let down one way or another. What made her think this was going to be any different?
Buffy laid her hand on his cheek and Spike slowly opened his eyes and met her gaze. “You are the strongest person I’ve ever known, Spike. You have the heart of a lion, and you may not believe it, but you have the soul of a champion. I can feel it inside you even now. I know how much you love Buffy – this is your chance at redemption. This is your chance to win her love. Most people don’t get second chances – don’t blow it. Don’t get weak-willed and weepy on me now. Get mad. Get stubborn. Get proud and growly and fight like the mule-headed, vampire bastard you are!”
Spike cocked a brow at her. “I was likin’ that right up to the end bit. Not exactly the St. Crispin’s Day speech, luv.”
“Yeah, well, I’m an Original Recipe girl myself. Take what you can get,” Buffy advised him without cracking a smile.
“You’re a piece o’ work, Slayer.”
“So I’ve been told,” Buffy admitted with a sigh. “I got no more inspirational speeches for you. It’s up to you now. You ready?”
Spike took a deep breath and nodded. “Ready as a deer in headlights, I reckon.”
Being careful to keep it away from her own nose, Buffy lifted a bowl of the newly-mixed holy water and Red dust up to him. It looked just like jiggly, cherry-flavored Jell-O. “Just smell lightly at first – if that doesn’t work, then we can do more. I don’t know what will happen if you take too much, especially with your extra-strong vampire sniffer.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Bloody comfortin’, that is, Slayer.”
Spike sniffed the glittering red sludgy concoction from a few inches away. Nothing happened. He lifted it closer … and closer and closer. Finally, with it just an inch from his nose, he breathed in deeply.
“My little Spike just killed himself a Slayer,” Dru trilled, her voice full of pride and excitement. Darla and Angelus stood in front of him with Dru at his side. The streets were filled with fighting and fleeing humans. The smell of fear filled the air like sweet perfume.
Spike watched the scene through his own eyes, but could tell that he wasn’t actually in charge of what came out of his own mouth. In the basement, his physical body shuddered and he hardened with the ecstasy of the Chinese Slayer’s blood that warmed him, just as it had done that night over a century ago. The memory of the fight, and the bliss of sharing his victory with Drusilla, was still forefront in his mind. It was intoxicating.
“Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you wanna dance.”
Spike spun around at the sound of his own voice. Suddenly, he found himself in the alley behind the Bronze, looking a Buffy. Buffy! Alive and well and … angry.
“Say it's true. Say I do want to. It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you.”
“No … no, no …” Spike moaned to himself, but the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth. “No, Buffy … don’t. Please don’t say it…”
She shoved him hard and he felt himself fall to the ground. Spike knew what was coming next, but he was powerless to stop it. He could only watch as Buffy tossed a wad of cash at him as he sat, stunned, on the pavement.
“You're beneath me,” she spat at him before turning on her heel and striding off.
Spike’s heart crumbled … shattered into a million pieces. Tears came to his eyes as he gathered the money up. And then … anger. Fury! Utter, unmitigated rage engulfed him.
Spike could feel it all as if it had just happened … as if it was still happening. He could feel his chest heave with the ferocity of the loathing he felt for her at that moment. It was a hatred that could only be fueled by being discarded so carelessly by someone you loved so much. She would feel his wrath! He would show her what it was to be beneath him! Six bloody feet beneath him!
“Come in, Spike.”
Spike whirled around again. He was standing on Buffy’s threshold. The vamp barrier had been keeping him out until she uttered the three sweetest words he could ever hope to hear from her. His heart soared.
“I'm counting on you. To protect her,” Buffy was telling him, her voice solemn.
“'Til the end of the world – even if that happens to be t’night.”
Spike could feel the determination in his own words. He could feel the faith she had in him, the trust she’d put in him to protect Dawn. He was lifted up from the depths of hell in that single moment. He watched as she slowly turned away from him and mounted the stairs.
Now! Spike thought. Tell yourself now!
Before he could even get any words out, he was spun around again and found himself reciting poetry to his mother in the parlour of their home. Oh, bloody hell…
As disappointed as he was that he missed that chance to talk to himself, Spike couldn't help but feel the love and affection that his mother had for him; and his for her. It made him feel … human again. He could actually feel hot blood coursing through his veins, feel the need for air as he breathed in and out, and feel the warmth of the fire prickle a bead of sweat on his brow. It was something he’d never dreamed of experiencing again and he embraced it with open arms. He was alive! He was a man! He wasn’t a monster.
In the basement, he laid a hand over his heart and could feel his pulse beating an even rhythm beneath his palm. He wondered if he could feel his soul in the same way … where was it, near his heart? Buffy said she could feel it, surely he could feel it, as well…
“Now, now, William,” his father’s voice scolded lightly. “There’s no need for tears.”
Spike spun around. He was five years old. His father was kneeling before him, dressed smartly in his military uniform, his helmet tucked under one arm. “I’ll only be away for a short while. Queen and country call, my dear boy. You’ll be the man of the house while I’m away. Are you up to it?”
Spike felt himself sniff back his boyish tears and nod resolutely.
“Do you promise to watch over your mother?” his father asked him solemnly. “I’m leaving her in your care.”
Spike felt his five-year-old heart swell with pride and resolve. “I promise, father.”
“That’s a good man.” Henry Weckerly ruffled his young son’s curls and stood up to go.
Spike felt his small hand wrap around his father’s fingers and tug on them. His father’s hand was so big; it felt so strong in his small grip – larger than life. When his father looked back down at him, William asked, “Do you promise to come back soon? I must return to school in just five weeks. I won’t be able to watch over Mother properly while I’m at school.”
His father smiled down on young William. “Indeed, I do promise to return forthwith. You may count on it.”
Suddenly, the most heart-wrenching wail he’d ever heard split the air. He turned again and felt his mother’s arms engulf him in a desperate hug. He could see some sort of paper in her hands, but couldn’t tell what it was. She was crying uncontrollably – that was the sound he’d heard. He could feel his own confusion. Even though Spike knew, the boy he was inside didn’t know why she was crying, didn’t know what was wrong. She just clung to him, squeezing his small frame painfully in her grief. If she would only tell him what was wrong, he would fix it. He was the man while his father was away.
Finally, she released him and brought the paper up to read again, as if, in those few minutes that had passed, the words on the paper might’ve changed. They hadn’t.
“William …” she began through her sobs. “It’s your … father.”
Spike felt his heart thundering in his chest, just as it had done that horrible, horrible night so many years ago. He felt tears well in his eyes and swallowed hard. He had to be the man. Men, he had been told, do not cry.
“What is it, Mother?” he asked, his young voice small and quivering with fear.
“Your father,” Anne began again, “has been killed on the battlefield.”
Spike felt his heart break, just as it had done when he was five and his mother delivered this news. He felt the tears win the battle of wills over the boy’s resolve, and flow down his cheeks in earnest. Words of denial sprang to his mind and flowed from trembling lips. “That can’t be, Mother. It must be … an error. Father promised! He would be back … forthwith!”
“I'm counting on you. To protect her,” Buffy’s voice came to him again, full of
“'Til the end of the world – even if that happens to be t’night.”
Spike spun again. He was reeling from the emotions that rolled over him like a summer monsoon. Torrents of tears streamed down his face and he tried to reorient himself. He was back in Buffy’s living room, gathering weapons before the fight with Glory.
“DOC! KILL DOC!” he screamed at himself. “He’s a Reptilian Demon! Cut his soddin’ head off! Burn the body!”
“I'll be a minute,” Buffy continued, turning and starting up the stairs.
"Or Ben! Ben is Glory! Kill Ben, kill Glory!" Spike continued to scream at his past-self. "Tell Buffy! Ben is Glory!"
“I know you'll never love me. I know that I'm a monster. But you treat me like a man, and that's...”
Spike felt the fluttering in his chest beat harder. It felt like a million angels had gathered there … a million angels that were embodied in just one woman – the Slayer. His love for Buffy at that moment was overpowering his ability to think. Worse, his past-self hadn’t seemed to hear a word he’d said. Spike gathered every ounce of anger, every fallen tear, every bit of rage, every broken promise, every speck of courage, and screamed at himself again to kill Ben before it was too late.
Spike’s eyes flashed open. His chest heaved with gasping, rapid breaths of heartbreak mixed with panic and effort. He looked around – he was in the basement of the mansion on Crawford Street. He was sitting on the floor and someone was holding him from behind. Strong arms wrapped around his chest tightly. They were keeping him in place, keeping him from injuring himself further. Buffy.
He closed his eyes and wiped at his damp face, letting out a deep breath of relief that the nightmare had ended. Suddenly, he felt weak and light-headed, as if every bit of energy had been wrung out of him. His body felt like a wet rag, heavy and formless, and his eyelids slid closed again.
“Spike?” Buffy asked, her mouth right near his ear. “Spike, what happened? Spike?”
“Told ‘im,” he muttered, his voice drunken with exhaustion. It was all he could say before he slipped into the peaceful oblivion of unconsciousness that beckoned him from the darkest corners of his mind.
Andrew and Bess looked at Buffy as she loosened her grip on Spike. He’d gone completely limp in her arms. His flailing and thrashing limbs had stilled, he’d stopped moaning and crying, and he’d even stopped breathing.
“Did it … work? I don’t feel any different. Shouldn’t I feel different?” Andrew asked nervously.
Buffy shook her head. “It didn’t work.”
She laid Spike down gently and slid out from under him, then stood up. “Get some more holy water ready – he’s gonna have to try again when he wakes up.”
Andrew looked dubious. “He doesn’t look like he can take much more of that,” he pointed out. “He’s lost a lot of blood and he keeps ripping his wounds open more,” he added protectively. “Maybe we just need to forget…”
Before he could finish the thought, Buffy slammed her fist into the basement wall less than an inch away from his head. Andrew jumped away and squealed like a frightened child in a haunted house.
“He can do it. He has to do it,” she snarled at him. “Get some more holy water ready. Now.”
Andrew swallowed hard and nodded, slipping away from her quickly.
Bess walked up to Buffy just as the Slayer yanked a bruised and bloodied hand out of the concrete block wall, raining cement dust and sand down on the floor. Bess bit her bottom lip and put her hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “Andrew’s right about one thing,” Bess ventured. “He’s lost a lot of blood. He may need …” Bess let her eyes wander to Buffy’s bleeding hand and then met her mother’s eyes.
Buffy nodded slowly. It suddenly dawned on Buffy why her husband told her ‘to do whatever she had to’ to help Spike. He must’ve known something like this would be needed. He was giving her permission to share her blood with this man that was not her mate; she just hadn’t realized it until now. Tears burned Buffy’s eyes and she looked back at the unconscious vamp.
She would do whatever it took to help him, but in the end it was up to him to find a way to get through to his past-self and change things. She again wondered if he had changed too much to succeed in this mission. Had his heart hardened too thoroughly to believe that he could actually change things? ‘He just needs to want it badly enough’ her subconscious had told her. Did he?
Buffy was just about to open the bond with her Spike when she felt his frantic ‘pounding’ in her mind. Spike!?
Buffy! They figured it out! Get outta there – they’re comin’ for him!
It’s ok – we aren’t where they think we are. We’re at the mansion, she sent back. Where are you? Are you alright? she asked worriedly.
She could feel relief wash over him. I’m alright … for now. Pretty sure they’re starting to figure out I got the Gem, though. If they catch me again …
Again! They caught you? Get out of there, Spike! Just … run! Come to the mansion! Buffy sent back frantically.
Yeah … well … might have a bit of a problem with that, pet. I’m just slightly trapped at the mo’. Who knew you couldn’t actually get outta the bloody bilge? Thought there had to be a way out – through the pump or a scuttle hole or whatnot … but, so far, I haven’t found it.
Buffy moaned and rubbed her eyes tiredly. They were running out of time. If the Reds caught Spike and started shredding him to find the Gem … she shuddered at the thought. On top of that, after they went to the base camp and discovered everyone was gone, they’d no doubt be able to follow their scent trail here.
Enough about me, how’re things going with you? Spike asked, as if he’d just met an old friend on the street and was making polite conversation.
Peachy. Spike tried but … it didn’t work. Now he’s passed out.
Bloody wanker! And he called me ‘namby-pamby’. Wake his soddin’ ass up! Tell him he can sleep when he’s dead! Spike advised. I’m swimming around in this stinking bilge water, the least he can do is play footsies with some of our old ghosties.
Buffy nodded. I’ll … I mean … Bess suggested … Buffy took a deep breath. I’m gonna have to give him some blood – probably more than a little sip.
I know, pet. Do what ya haveta to do, Buffy. He can do it – he may just need to be reminded what he’s fightin’ for.
Ok, I’ll … let me see what I can do. Please … get out of there, Spike. If this doesn’t work, I can’t … lose you, too.
Working on it, pet. No worries, now. Do what you have to there – don’t worry about me.
I love you, Spike.
I love you too, Buffy. See you soon.
And with that he was gone, the bond closed.
Buffy took a deep breath and firmed her resolve. If Spike needed to be reminded of what he was fighting for, then she’d just have to remind him.
Spike felt himself waking up from the most pleasant dream and he fought to remain unconscious, or asleep, at least. It wasn’t as vivid as the dreams he’d had when Buffy had been here before, but it was an old favorite that he’d had many times. She’d come to his crypt to stake him for something or another and they’d ended up fighting, then snogging, then making love. Now she was holding him, kissing his neck and face gently. He could feel her warm lips, her soft breath against his skin. He could even smell the fragrance of her and feel her hands where they rested against his body. She was murmuring his name between the kisses and her voice poured over him like silken fire, setting his desire ablaze again.
“Spike? Spike, wake up now.” Buffy’s lips whispered over his brow as softly as her words.
“Spike, I need you to wake up. You need to eat … you need blood.”
Spike shook his head slowly and a saucy grin quirked across his lips. “No, pet … just need you.”
Buffy sighed and looked up from her position on the floor where she held the unconscious vampire. How was she supposed to remind him of what he was fighting for if he wouldn’t wake up? She’d tried talking, tried kissing him awake, tried nibbling on his ear, and even shook him a bit. He wasn’t waking up.
Bess stood near and met her gaze, giving her mother a shrug. “Maybe if you, ya know … slapped him or something,” she suggested.
“No! You can’t slap him! He’s defenseless and … injured and … you’ll hurt him,” Andrew objected, looking up from his priestly work of blessing more seawater.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Fine, no slapping,” she agreed. “Hand me that sword,” she requested of Bess, pointing at one of the weapons they’d brought with them.
“No stabbing either!” Andrew shrieked, jumping up from his task. “I forbid it!”
Buffy looked at him incredulously. It was all she could do to not laugh at him. “You … forbid?”
Andrew had started moving towards her, but faltered at her glare, and stopped short. “I mean … I … uhhh .. don’t think it … would be a good …” He stopped talking when Buffy took the sword and sliced a long gash along her palm. “Oh…” he muttered as he watched the Slayer lift her bleeding hand to Spike’s lips. “Well … yeah, that might … work.”
Spike was suddenly back in the bathtub at Giles’ flat – chained up and at the mercy of the Watcher, the Slayer, and her little gang of miscreants. Buffy was taunting him, running a finger slowly up and down the side of her neck and saying, “You want something nicer? Look at my poor neck. All bare and tender and exposed … all that blood just ... pumping away...”
He’d had this dream before too – it never ended well. In fact, it was one of the most frustrating, infuriating, and degrading dreams his subconscious conjured. Maybe he should just try to wake up, after all.
As the dream continued, Spike lunged at her and, unlike every other time he’d had this dream, he broke free of the chains that were holding him. He fell atop her and they both tumbled to the floor in a heap. Then her warm, sweet blood was on his tongue and down his throat and it was glorious. She was moaning and writhing under him, but it wasn’t in pain or distress, it was in pleasure. The chip didn’t fire, he realized, because he was giving her pleasure – not pain. It somehow knew that he wasn’t going to hurt her – he’d never really been able to hurt her, even when he was trying to kill her.
“Spike,” her voice sounded so real, so close. “Spike, open your eyes – look at me.”
Spike blinked his eyes open at her command – he longed to look into her eyes. He longed to see compassion there, trust, respect. What he saw was so much more.
“Buffy,” he moaned, her name garbled as he suckled the wound on her hand, slowly closing and healing it as he did so.
Spike pulled back, suddenly aware that he was no longer dreaming. Her eyes were right there, right in front of his. There was a softness to them that he’d never seen directed at him before. She smiled at him, a sweet smile that reached her eyes and made them glitter in the dim light.
“Buffy? What …” His head spun slightly, both from the Slayer blood he’d just consumed and the aftereffects of the dreams. He couldn’t quite get a handle on what was going on. Had what he’d done worked? Was this some alternate future that had been borne of his success in protecting Buffy and Dawn from Glory?
“Welcome back,” Buffy offered, keeping the smile on her face. “I hate to tell you this, but … it didn’t work … yet.”
Spike looked around, finally able to put everything together. He sighed heavily and shook his head in defeat. “Sorry, pet. I … bloody hell, I did everything I could…”
Buffy sat beside him, facing him. She pulled him to her and Spike dropped his head on her shoulder, accepting her solace gratefully. “We’ll just have to try again,” she whispered to him, stroking a hand down the back of his head to his neck.
He shook his head again, still leaning against her shoulder. “Can’t do it … just ain’t got it, Buffy. I’m sorry, luv. I just … don’t know what else I could do.”
“Spike, listen to me now,” Buffy admonished him, pushing him back so he could see into her eyes. “You can do it. I know you can – I know you. You’re strong, you’re a fighter, you’re a good man; you don’t give up – ever.”
Spike looked away from her eyes and shook his head again. Buffy grabbed his face between her hands and made him focus his gaze back on her eyes. “You may not see it, but I do. I know what you are – I know your heart. I believe in you, Spike.”
Before Spike could respond and tell her what a fool she was, a loud pounding began on the basement door that led into the sewers. At nearly the same time, more banging and pounding started on the door that led into the mansion itself. The Reds had found them.
There was little in the basement to pile against the doors to block them, but Bess had moved the trunk of old clothes and wedged it in front of the door from the sewers. There were a few other discarded boxes, and the other trunk, under the stairs which she’d hauled up and placed against the other door. It wasn’t much. The doors wouldn’t hold long. Bess took up a position near the sewer entrance with the scythe; Andrew took up a position at the top of the stairs with squirt-bottles full of holy water and a stake.
Spike tried to get up when the assault began, momentarily forgetting about his ravaged legs. He didn’t get far before he fell back onto his ass with a hiss of pain. Buffy turned to him, her eyes wide with concern. No, more than concern, he thought – fear. “You have to try again, Spike. It’s our only chance. I know you can do it,” she urged him. “Do it for me. Do it because my love is within your grasp. All you have to do is reach for it.”
Spike’s jaw clenched and he nodded, but he knew that he’d already done everything he could to get a message to his past-self. Doing it again would make no difference. How many times would he let this woman down? How many times would he fail? Perhaps, he thought bitterly, the Reds would make sure this would be the last time. A small part of him actually hoped so.
Suddenly, there was a burst of light and a fierce wind whirled around the interior of the basement. Everyone shielded their eyes from the flying dust in the air and the unexpectedly bright light. When the wind died and the light faded, they all looked up to see Cordelia and Charles Gunn standing there, crossbows loaded and at the ready.
“What the hell?” Buffy exclaimed, jumping up and heading toward the pair.
Cordy leveled her weapon at Buffy’s chest and Buffy stopped abruptly. “Where’s Angel?” the brunette asked without preamble, keeping her weapon trained on Buffy.
“He’s not here,” Buffy answered opaquely.
“Wolfram & Hart says different,” Gunn chimed in. “Where is he?”
By now Bess had come up and stood about three feet to the side of Buffy. The Reds were pounding on the doors and the wood was starting to splinter and crumble under their attack.
“Well, they’re wrong!” Buffy insisted. “And I really don’t have time for this right now. We’re gonna be overrun here in about sixty seconds, so why don’t you make yourself useful and aim those things at the demons that are about to kill us all?”
Cordy and Gunn looked around the room warily, trying to find Angel. Gunn pulled out some kind of electronic device the size of a smartphone and was waving it around like a Geiger counter. He stepped over to check in the dark under the stairs, but shook his head, silently telling Cordy that her husband wasn’t there. From there, he continued moving around the basement, slowly scanning the area with his small, hand-held machine.
“What did you do to him?” Cordy snarled at her. “What happened? He wouldn’t screw you again so you beat him up and left him somewhere to die? Or did you drop him back under the ocean? Is that it? You know, he’s told me about all your tricks.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” Buffy exclaimed, throwing her arms out to the sides in exasperation. “I didn’t hurt Angel! I haven’t even seen Angel here!” Buffy offered truthfully. “And I certainly don’t want him! He’s the one that stalked me for years! God, what does he have you under some kind of thrall? Or has life in L.A. finally rotted what was left of your pea brain? I know you’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, Cordy – but p-leeease!”
Before Cordy could retort, Buffy spun on her heel and headed back to Spike, picking up the bowl of shimmering Jell-O-like, red goo that Andrew had prepared as she passed. “I don’t have time for this bullshit,” she called over her shoulder.
“Keep them out as long as you can,” Buffy ordered Bess, nodding her head towards the splintering basement door. Bess nodded and headed back to her post, ignoring the two newcomers.
Buffy dropped down to her knees in front of Spike, holding the bowl that contained the time-travel goo. She took a breath to try and calm her nerves and put Cordy’s insanity out of her mind. The entire room seemed to be filled with the sound of the Reds battering the doors, but she tried to ignore it; she needed to stay focused on getting Spike to try again. Their pounding felt like an earthquake, and Buffy half expected the whole house to collapse atop them at any moment from the vibration, but she put that thought out of her mind too.
Behind her, Gunn shouted for Cordy, but Buffy didn’t hear. He was standing in a dark corner of the basement where a mixture of dirt, dust, and red glitter had been blown from the whirlwind that had accompanied their arrival. The machine in his hand was clicking like he’d just found pure uranium ore.
Cordy’s eyes went wide as she realized the ramifications of what Gunn was showing her. Angel wasn’t just hurt. Her husband wasn’t locked somewhere under the waves. He was dust.
“You bitch!” Cordy screamed in rage, swinging around towards Buffy again.
Suddenly, Buffy felt a sharp, searing pain in her back and chest. She gasped, and the bowl of glimmering, crimson gelatin fell from her hand and spilled onto the floor. She looked at Spike with wide, frightened eyes, not comprehending what was happening. He had blood spattered across his face, which nearly covered his look of disbelief.
“Buffy!” he exclaimed, grabbing for her before she collapsed. “Buffy!”
He could only stare at the sharp tip of the crossbow bolt that protruded from her chest. Bright scarlet, arterial blood gushed from the wound with each beat of her heart. The thick red liquid flowed freely from the hole in her chest and pooled on the floor where it mixed with the gelatin in a gory tableau of shimmering scarlet.
“NO! BUFFY!!!!” he screamed again as he lay her down gently on her side, trying not to do more damage than the arrow had already done.
Buffy tried to speak, but blood burbled from her lips and she began to cough instead. A searing pain accompanied a feeling of drowning and she suddenly felt very, very cold. She blinked and tried to make her brain work, but it suddenly felt leaden and sluggish. She looked down and found that her blood-soaked hands were clutched around something protruding from her chest. She got mad for a moment – her shirt was ruined! Then she looked up and saw Spike in front of her.
Time seemed to slow, and for a moment her vision sharpened. The blue of Spike’s eyes were that of an azure sea and a small zephyr of warmth cut through the cold that had engulfed her. Where he wasn't bruised, his skin appeared even more pale than normal; it now looked ashen in the dim light. Flicks of crimson were spattered over Spike’s face and neck as if Jackson Pollack had used him as a living canvas. Spike’s lips were moving, but Buffy couldn’t hear what he was saying. She shook her head slightly, trying to clear the cotton from her ears, but still she couldn’t hear him. She longed to hear his voice. She reached one hand out and touched his lips, so soft and full, and they stopped moving. She traced them gently with her fingertips and left them stained with blood.
Buffy looked back to his eyes and tried to speak again, but was unable to find the breath. The frightened look that she saw in the blue depths of his eyes momentarily sparked something deep inside her back to life. A thought finally materialized: she was dying … again. And then, her vision blurred and the spark was gone.
“Slayer! Fight! Buffy!” Spike continued to yell at her, holding her now limp body as it slumped on the cold, dirty floor. He watched her eyes and he could almost literally see her spirit leave them. The fire that was within her, the brilliance that was Buffy, guttered and waned and then snuffed out completely. All that was left in its wake was bleak darkness and utter emptiness. Time seemed to stop and rewind to that horrible day when he held his own dead Slayer in his arms, and Spike’s heart shattered all over again.
Spike could hear screams around him: Bess and Andrew and the two newcomers were all yelling – he couldn’t focus enough to even know what they were saying. The Reds were crashing through the doors; they would be on him any minute. His mind whirled with fear, his body shook with rage, and his soul … yes, his soul, ached. There was an inexplicable emptiness inside him that hadn’t been there just a moment before. The feeling of completeness had been so subtle that he hadn’t actually noticed its presence until it was savagely ripped from him, leaving a jagged, barren crater in its stead.
Although he wasn’t even aware that he was crying, he could taste tears, salty on his lips and tongue. They mingled with the Slayer blood and burned his throat when he tried to swallow them back.
“Buffy … please … please don’t leave me,” he begged her. “Fight … you have to …” Spike’s voice quavered and vanished, then gave way to a sudden rage that surged within him. He raised his head to the ceiling and howled a piercing, mournful cry of heart-wrenching pain and fury that sliced the air like a razor. His roar filled the entire room, perhaps even the entire world, with a flood of guilt-laden anguish and torment.
When his scream disintegrated into nothing more than a whimper, he collapsed down next to Buffy’s body. Sobs wracked him and the inexorable weight of failure once again descended on him like a funeral shroud.
Cos you’re soul-mates. It’s like … a rule or something. She has to love you, Annie’s words from so long ago echoed forlornly in his mind.
Then it was Buffy’s voice, Do it for me. Do it because my love is within your grasp. All you have to do is reach for it. I believe in you.
I believe in you.
I believe in you.
“I’m sorry, Buffy,” Spike murmured to her, laying a hand over her face and gently closing her eyelids, covering her blank, unseeing eyes. He couldn't bear to have her see what he was about to do.
The room around him had erupted in chaos. The Reds were flooding in, the others in the room were battling them in vain, but he barely noticed. Spike lifted a fistful of the gruesome, blessed gelatin, now mixed with copious amounts of Slayer blood, to his lips like a poison pill. He felt the holy water begin to burn a swath of righteousness down his throat when he swallowed it. He would never have a chance to fail her again – the holy water, he knew, would take care of that once and for all.
Oh my goodness!! Is anyone going to get out of this dimension alive? We'll find out next...
Allison Kraus (originally by Bob Dylan), I Believe In You
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