Story Title: Spirit Indestructible


Season 5. Begins with ‘Spiral’ in the abandoned gas station, and goes far off-canon almost immediately.

When Dawn makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister, friends, and the world, Buffy’s mind snaps. When Buffy's friends give up hope of her ever recovering, and become afraid that she’ll turn violent and uncontrollable, they call in the Council to help. Fearing what the Council will do, Spike, forgotten and ignored by her friends, steps in. Will he be able to reach the Slayer when no one else could? Will he be able to keep her out of the hands of the Council and away from her ‘helpful’ friends? How much heartbreak, guilt, and failure can one girl stand before her indestructible spirit finally resigns the fight and gives up hope?




46. One More Step


Music Referenced:

Billy Doze - One More Step Along The World I Go

Nelly Furtado - Spirit Indestructible


Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more). and also from


Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to those of you who take the time to email me feedback! Love hearing from everyone! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions ROCK!  All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.

Rating / Warnings:

Rating: 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 that night…


As Buffy set the eye-dropper down, the last drop of blood still clinging to the small opening, she fought to keep her tears from building and falling again. She’d managed to finally get the pantry and kitchen cleaned up and restocked, shopping at a store across town, far away from the debacle with the vegetable pyramid. She’d gotten the twins fed and bathed and off to sleep, and she’d even managed to get a full mug of blood down Spike, one small drop at a time. Even with those accomplishments, she was frayed at the edges, mentally and physically exhausted, and feeling so very, very alone.


Buffy looked at Spike’s still bruised, swollen, and disfigured face and the flood of frustrated sorrow began to pour from her eyes yet again. Despite the things she’d done right, the only things her mind could conjure were the things she’d done wrong over the last days. They kept running through her mind like a broken record, berating her, weakening her, beating her down. Then things she’d done wrong weeks ago chimed in, and months ago, years ago. Soon, there was a full orchestra playing at her pity-party, and she felt helpless to stop the music.


Buffy’s shoulders shook with her heartache, her guilt, and her sorrow. Still in the same clothes she’d had on for the last twenty-four hours, she crawled into bed beside her husband and curled up as near to him as she dared, just barely touching him.


“Spike, please, please help me. I can’t do this alone. Joan’s gone … you’re … you’re … God, Spike … I need you. I’m so afraid. Spike, please … help me,” Buffy begged. “What if I mess up with the babies? Spike … I’d die. I’d die if anything happened to them. I can’t do this … I can’t … I can’t…” Buffy chanted the last like a mantra, her voice growing weaker and wearier with each passing moment, until she succumbed to the sleep she so desperately needed.




Buffy blinked her eyes open, rubbing her aching head and bleary eyes, trying to figure out where she was.  She sat up slowly, pushing up against the hard, stone top of the sarcophagus in the center of Spike’s old crypt.


“And Sleepy Beauty awakens…” Spike taunted, setting the bottle of whiskey he'd been drinking down on the floor before standing up from his worn easy chair.


“Spike ... What … what’s going on?” Buffy asked groggily, swinging her legs around and off the edge of the tomb, still rubbing at her eyes and forehead, trying to clear the fog.


“Reckon you know better than me, luv. I been a bit outta it since ya crashed my soddin’ car through the bleedin’ wall o’ that warehouse. That’ll cost a pretty penny t’ fix, I’d wager, if I can even find parts,” he asserted, stalking over to her.


Buffy shook her head and looked up at him. “You’re worried about the freaking car?!”


“It’s my bloody car! Why didn’t you use yours, for fuck’s sake?” he growled, his hands balled into fists, as he neared her.


Buffy dropped her head, tapping her fingers against her forehead and began to laugh.


“Not bloody funny, Slayer. Had that car a long time, I have,” he defended, frowning down at her, now within arm’s reach of his wife.


Buffy began to shake her head as the laughter wracking her body morphed into sobs. In the next moment she flung herself off the sarcophagus and into Spike’s arms, wrapping around him with arms and legs. She buried her face against the crook of his neck and cried against him. He smelled of tobacco and leather and whiskey … like she remembered. Not of blood and bandages and the baby wash she’d used to clean the dried blood off him.


“Joan’s dead … India’s dead. Spike, I’m all alone. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to fix you.”


Spike sighed and wrapped his arms around her. “Is alright, luv,” he soothed, his voice soft. “You’re stronger than ya know, Slayer.”


“No, I’m not…”


“Yes, you are. You’re the heart, Buffy. You’re the heart of us … the strongest part, luv.”


“There’s no ‘us’ to be the heart of … Joan’s dead …” Buffy cried against him, clinging to him tightly.


“There is an ‘us’,” Spike insisted. “You hold us together, Buffy. Me, Will, Jade … it’s you, luv. Always been you that’s been the strong one.”


“No … no … not me. I’m the one that keeps falling apart! I’m the one you had to save … don’t you remember?!”


Spike pushed her back, disentangling himself from her grasp, so he could look into her eyes. Buffy let go, allowing him to set her down onto her feet in front of him.


“Look at me, pet,” Spike began, holding her upper arms and dipping his head to be at her level.


Buffy sniffled and wiped her nose with the back of her hand before lifting her eyes up to meet his. His eyes. Those azure orbs of love and strength. Her heart lurched in her chest as she gazed into them, wanting nothing more than to get lost in them forever. To leave all the misery and pain behind and just float in the cerulean depths of his eyes.


“Listen t’ me now, luv,” Spike ordered gently. “You’re the one who was yanked outta 'er Malibu Barbie life and thrust into the life of a Slayer. You’re the one who’s stood against the demons. You’re the one that stepped up when her mum passed and took care of the little bit.”


Spike held a hand up, stopping her protest and quickly continued, “You’re the one that came back from the edge when little sis did what she had t’ do to save you … t’ save the world. She did what you would’ve done, Buffy, if you could’ve … the brave thing, the right bloody thing. 


“You’re the one that gave little sis new life … brought her soul back from Limbo. Gave my soul new life too, pet. You were the one brave enough t’ take that risk. Could’a taken the easy road, dusted me, set Dawn free, but you didn’t.


“You’re the one that did everything in your power t’ protect that life from that bastard the Watchers sent after ya. You, Buffy … you survived that, and you saved our babies.


“Bloody hell, Buffy! How much stronger do ya think ya need t’ be? You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known. Anyone else would’ve been broken by now, pet … their spirit snuffed, but ‘ere you are … indestructible, still fighting, struggling … trying.


“Love how you try, pet.”


Tears flowed down Buffy’s face, her chin wobbling, her body trembling with emotion. “But … I keep failing…” she rasped out, her throat tight with emotion. “Everyone keeps dying.”


Spike sighed and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her and holding her tight. “People die, Buffy. It’s the nature o’ life, pet. Dawn and Joan … India, they gave their lives for you … for us … for our bits.


“Ya can’t give up now, luv. I need you too bloody much. The bits need you, Buffy. You’re our heart, pet. You’re the one, Buffy. Always been the one. You’ve got the heart of a Slayer. Let yourself be what ya are, luv … be the Slayer.”


Buffy shook her head against his shoulder, hugging him tightly. She didn’t want to be the one; didn’t want to be the heart, didn’t want to be the Slayer.


“I’m so afraid,” Buffy admitted as she clung to him, never wanting to let go. “I need you, Spike. I need help…” she sobbed against his shoulder, dampening his t-shirt with her tears.


“Got all ya need, luv, right inside ya. We’re all there, pet, lending you our courage, traveling along with ya. Know you can feel it, Buffy … your mum, Dawn, Joan, India … me. Right there in your Slayer’s heart, every bloody one.


 “’M always with you, pet. You’re never alone, Buffy. I’ll never leave your side. I love you. You’re the one, Buffy.”




Buffy woke with a jerk when Spike moaned in pain. She blinked her eyes open and tried again to process where she was and what was happening. It only took a moment for her to realize she’d been hugging Spike tightly in her sleep and had hurt him. She jumped back, horrified, releasing him immediately.


“Oh, God … I’m sorry … Spike … I’m sorry,” she apologized through her tears, running her hands over him gingerly, trying to check to make sure she hadn’t damaged anything worse than it already was.


Buffy’s hands slowed, then stopped as Spike settled back into the state of uneasy unconsciousness he’d been in for the last day and a half. She pulled her hands away, wringing them in her lap as she knelt next to him on the bed, and the dream replayed in her mind.


We’re all there, pet, lending you our courage, traveling along with ya. You’re never alone, Buffy. Be the Slayer.


Buffy closed her eyes and tried to recapture the images, the aromas, the feeling of comfort she’d had in the dream, but it seemed to slip through her fingers like a mist. It felt so real and yet was too delicate to touch without falling apart in her grasp, disintegrating as if built from ashes.


She pressed her fists against her chest, her eyes clamped shut, trying desperately to feel the courage Spike had promised her was there; her Slayer’s heart. But, like the remnants of the dream, it seemed to be just beyond her ability to grasp. It was like a word right on the tip of her tongue, familiar but utterly elusive … a ghost, a phantom that she could almost see, but not quite. Buffy opened her eyes and sighed, wiping her tears away.


She gave her broken, beaten, shattered husband a sad smile and touched a hand down gently on his bare shoulder. “Thanks for trying, Spike …”




Early the next morning …


Buffy leaned heavily against the counter near the microwave, warming yet another mug of blood that would most likely be wasted. The babies were still asleep; she’d feed Spike first – or attempt to feed him, anyway – then get them up. She let her eyes fall closed as she waited. She was utterly exhausted but her mind was racing nonetheless.


She had to get back to Dripping Springs and keep her promise to Joan – she would not leave any bits of her there. She also wanted to make sure there were no injured vampires still undead in the rubble. But she couldn’t take the babies out there with her … could she? That, Buffy thought, would be a very bad idea. She was pretty sure Mrs. Michaels would not want them back for another play-date anytime soon, and the only babysitter they’d ever used had been India.


And then there was Spike. He was only getting weaker as the hours passed by. He certainly showed no signs of healing, but how could he with only small dribs and drabs of blood? He was swallowing from the eyedropper, drop by drop, but nowhere near enough to do him any real good. She had no idea what to do to get more blood into him. She was at her wit’s end and becoming more and more consumed with fear, guilt, and worry over him.


“Be the Slayer,” she said aloud, repeating the little she remembered from the dream the previous night. “Yeah, ‘cos that’s worked out so well for you in the past…” she groused.


Buffy opened her eyes when she heard the microwave ‘ding’, but her brow furrowed when she realized it hadn’t finished yet. She heard the ‘ding’ again and looked to see Spike’s cell phone on the table where she’d left it after finding it in the grass … two nights ago? Three? She couldn’t even remember any longer.


She stepped over and picked it up. The ‘low battery’ warning was flashing, as was the announcement of ‘one new message’. She was sure she’d erased all the messages she’d left on there. Her brow furrowed further as she wondered who it would be from. Perhaps Mrs. Michaels had called him when no one had come to pick up the twins. Buffy touched the screen to retrieve the message and waited as it connected.


“You have one new message,” the automated voice came over the speaker.


Buffy rolled her swollen, blood-shot eyes. “I already know that,” she sassed the phone as she waited.


“Message one,” the flat voice continued, making Buffy roll her eyes again.


“Hello, Buffy and Spike. This is me … Joan D’Arc.”


Buffy’s breath caught in her chest and she nearly dropped the phone. She set it down on the table with shaky fingers and dropped down into the chair, her knees suddenly unable to support her weight.


“Joan …” she moaned, looking at the phone as if her doppelganger would suddenly materialize out of it.


“If you are listening to this, then there is a high probability that I did not return from Dripping Springs.  I believe my logic logarithms have been corrupted, as that sentence is completely superfluous. If I have returned, I would have deleted this message; therefore you would not be listening to it. If you are not listening to it, then there would be no necessity to leave it. Hence, I must assume that you are listening to it and that I did not return or this whole exercise is irrelevant.”


Buffy shook her head as a small laugh burbled out through her tears.


“I find myself uncertain what to convey to you at this juncture. I believe first I should say that I love you both and also the small humans, Will and Jade, who have been quite fascinating to observe as they have grown. I would have preferred to monitor their development over a longer period of time. I had looked forward to the role of Aunt Joan, and believe I would have performed the duties required of that position exceptionally well. I regret that I will not have that opportunity.


“Please tell Jade and Will that I loved them and I what I’m doing now is for them and their future. They need a mother and a father. Studies have shown, children who lost fathers before age five scored lower on the Otis Quick Test and the Stanford Achievement Test as junior-high and high-school students. They are also more likely to drop out of school and less likely to attend college. There are no studies, to my knowledge, regarding the loss of an aunt before age five for me to compare this data to. I must therefore assume that the loss of a father would be more detrimental to their future prospects than the loss of an aunt.”


Buffy held her head in her hands, her elbows propped up on the table on either side of the phone, as she continued to shake her head. Leave it to Joan to make her death seem like the most logical and sensible thing in the world.


“In addition,” Joan’s voice continued stoically, “I have an overwhelming desire to kick our nemesis’ murdering, axe-stealing, ass-insulting, innocence-taking, loathsome, detestable, despicable asses," she snarled angrily. "I am hopeful that I accomplished this goal before my demise.”


“You did…” Buffy croaked out through her tears.


“If my estimations are correct, Spike will have been seriously injured, possibly severely, critically, or even gravely. If, by some unexplainable circumstance, my judgment is incorrect, then you may disregard the remainder of this message,” Joan continued. “If, however, Buffy is listening to this message unaccompanied by Spike, then please allow me to offer one piece of advice:”


Buffy sniffed and wiped at her eyes, suddenly more alert, her eyes glued on the phone, waiting, praying for Joan to help her; to show her the way; tell her what to do now, as the android, her friend, had done so many times in the past months.


“Be the Slayer.”


“That’s your advice!?!?” Buffy growled when Joan didn’t say anything further for several moments. She picked up the phone and glared at it, barely resisting the urge to smash it against the wall.


“I know you can do it,” Joan continued finally. “I … I will … I will send my heart back to you. You formed it … it is from you that I was made; it is from your kindness that I have grown. It is because of you that I have known love. That is more than many humans know in a lifetime.


“Spike gave me life, but you showed me how to live. You showed me how to fight; how to love; how to be brave and never surrender. My Slayer’s heart came from you. It is all I have left, and now I will return it.


“I will travel through life with you. I will forever walk at your side, forever be part of you – sister Slayers. I love you, Buffy. Be the Slayer. It is up to you now. Our family is depending on you; you are the one.”


“No … no, I don’t want to be the one,” Buffy sobbed, dropping her head down onto her arms on the table. “Please, Joan …”


“Be the Slayer, Buffy. It is what we are.”


Buffy looked at the phone and waited for more, but after a moment the automated voice came on asking if the message should be erased or saved. Buffy dropped her head onto her folded arms on the table and cried, sobs wracking her body. Be the Slayer. Be the Slayer … everyone wanted her to ‘be the Slayer.’  She just wanted to be Buffy. She just wanted to be ‘Mommy’. She didn’t want to be ‘the one’.


But she was.


Joan was right. Everyone was depending on her now. It was up to her.


Buffy wrapped her arms around her torso, hugging herself tightly, her eyes closed, fighting back her never-ending tears as she sat there in the empty kitchen.


“Be the Slayer…” Buffy whispered to herself. “What would the Slayer do? … … Beat something up.” She sighed and opened her eyes, looking down at the now-dark phone.


“What would Joan do?”




Later that day…


Buffy strode down the long hallway, trying to not gag on the putrid air. There was little she hated worse than that smell. It was repulsive to her senses, smelling of death and disinfectant. This was one time she wished she was a vampire and didn’t have to breathe. Jade and Will were apparently not entirely pleased with it either as they fussed in their separate carriers, one in each of Buffy’s hands.


Buffy found the number she was looking for and pushed on the door, not even bothering to knock.


“Okay,” she began speaking sternly before the door had even opened all the way. “Here’s the thing: I need data. You’re the only one I know that has data or can get it in your musty old books. You’re gonna help me—”


She stopped abruptly when three sets of eyes turned toward her rather than the one she was expecting.


“Buffy!” Willow exclaimed, her eyes lighting up with surprise. “Oh goddess!”


“Will … Xander …” Buffy stammered, her expression shocked, taken off-guard. “What …?”


In the next moment she was engulfed by both Willow and Xander, being hugged tightly, albeit awkwardly, with the baby carriers in her hands.


“What…?” she stammered again as they continued to hug her tight.


Buffy’s mind raced, her body tense and unmoving in their embrace. She’d come here to get information from Giles. The hospital said he was healing, out of ICU, and able to have visitors. What Joan would do, she realized, was get ‘data’ … get information. The Bot would hook up to that computer in her room and learn how to fix Spike’s ribs, learn how to get more blood down him, learn everything she needed to know to fix him. Buffy had no idea how to use the computer, but she knew someone who knew how to get ‘data’: her ex-Watcher. And she was determined to make him help her now. He owed her. Big time.


She hadn’t expected to find Willow and Xander with him, not at all.


Buffy had imagined this moment for years. She didn’t know if it would ever come, but she couldn’t help running it through her mind late at night when the house was dark and quiet. In most of her scenarios there had screaming and punching and fury. There had been blood and bruises and utter madness when she imagined this moment. Her friends had been ready to sell her out; send her off to the Watchers Council for ‘treatment’, even though they knew how much she despised the tweeds. And, in fact, Giles had succeeded in that. He’d called them after she, the Bot, and Spike had thwarted Angel's 'rescue' attempt and disappeared; Weatherby had found her.


Buffy’s tense, stiff body shuddered with the memory. She closed her eyes against the emotions churning inside her, but she felt hot tears sting them, nonetheless. There had only rarely been tears in her imaginings of this moment, and even more rarely had the tears been hers. But neither had there ever been a ferocious hug involved, either … or babies. She’d always been angry and vengeful, not exhausted and heartbroken when she’d thought of this moment on those dark, quiet nights.


Finally, both Willow and Xander pulled back from her and an awkward silence fell over the room as the three friends – former friends – simply stared at each other, waiting for someone to say something.


The uncomfortable pall was lifted when Will screamed, “BOO!” and pointed at Willow’s bright blue pants which were nearly within reach of his small, bruised hand.


All eyes went to him and everyone smiled at the innocent announcement. Willow knelt down in front of the boy and took his small hand in hers. “That’s right … blue. Aren’t you a sweetie? Look at those curls! So cute! Such a little doll! I could just gobble you up … yes I could … ohhh yes I could,” she baby-talked the child as he giggled, waving his free hand in the air happily.


Buffy and Xander watched Willow tickle Will and pinch his little cheeks lightly as he laughed, eating up the attention she was lavishing on him.


“What’s your name, little man?” Willow cajoled, tickling the baby’s sides lightly.


“W-w…” The name caught in Buffy’s throat, unable to escape past her heart. She swallowed hard and cleared her throat. “William …” she rasped out finally. “Will.”


Willow nodded, unable to meet Buffy’s eyes. Instead she turned her attention to Jade, on the other side of Buffy, who had been untying her shoes. “And what’s your name, pretty girl?” the red witch sweet-talked, taking the opportunity to retie the laces Jade had worked so hard on loosening.


Buffy cleared her throat again, unable to keep her emotions from closing her windpipe, before finally answering, “Joyce … Jade … we call her ‘Jade’.”


Willow nodded again, blinking back her tears as she finished tying the small shoes. Her task complete, Willow looked up at Buffy, her eyes glistening, the sweet smile turned sad on her lips. “They’re beautiful, Buffy. I’m … so sorry …”


The tears that had been threatening filled Buffy’s eyes as she set the two carriers down on the shiny, linoleum floor. In the next moment, the two women were embraced in a genuine hug, each of them crying against the other’s shoulder.


“We looked for you …” Willow burbled against her. “We were so worried. Giles sent Angel to try and find you. I’m so sorry. I missed you so much! God, Buffy … you’re a mom!”


Buffy sniffed and cried and nodded against her, unable to speak. Despite everything that had happened, it felt so good, so right to be with her friends again. It was nothing like she'd imagined, but nothing ever seemed to turn out quite as she'd imagined. And she couldn’t forget, Willow had also lost someone she’d loved very much: Tara.


Still crying when the hug ended, Buffy wiped at her eyes and turned to Xander. He looked like a lost puppy. His hair was longer and shaggier than she remembered, and he’d put on a few pounds, but the real change was in his soulful, brown eyes. He simply looked sad. Sadder than sad, heartbroken or perhaps just broken. He spread his arms to her and Buffy fell against his chest, accepting the comfort he offered.


“I’m sorry, Buff … We just … you know we love you. We only wanted to help you,” Xander explained plaintively. “God, I missed you,” he breathed, holding her tight.


“I missed you guys too,” Buffy admitted through her tears.


Buffy felt like a weight was lifting off her. The dark, ominous clouds that had been surrounding her heart began to clear and, for the first time in many days, a glimmer of sun shone through. The golden light seemed to illuminate a part of her that had been hidden from her senses. It was one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments; a moment when you can grasp what had previously been beyond your reach; a moment when the word you couldn’t think of explodes off your tongue; a moment when the ghosts and phantoms you couldn’t quite see become corporeal.


Buffy could feel them, all of them, in her heart. Spike, Joan, India, Dawn, her mom … they were all there, just like Spike had tried to tell her in her dream. They’d been there all along. She’d just needed that small glimmer of hope to clear the shroud and let her feel them; feel their strength supporting her, feel their courage guiding her, feel their love keeping her from coming unraveled.


She was the Slayer, but she wasn’t alone. She’d never really been alone, after all.




Billy Doze - One More Step Along The World I Go



One more step along the world I go
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me traveling along with you.

Round the corner of the world I turn,
more and more about the world I learn;
all the new things that I see
you'll be looking at along with me.

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.

Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough;
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me traveling along with you.

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.

You are older than the world can be,
you are younger than the life in me;
ever old and ever new,
keep me traveling along with you.

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
keep me traveling along with you.

Keep me traveling along with you...


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