|Chapter Title:||Lucky to have you, Chapter 23|
February, 2001. Annie is 2 years old. Buffy and Spike have been married 2 years, as well.
Disaster strikes in Buffy’s life; Spike is her strength.
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, violence, sex and adult themes which may include rape, attempted rape, blood play 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. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.
“Yes. Yes. I understand. We’ll be right there.” Spike hung up the phone. Tears stung the back of his eyes; he closed them and swallowed hard to keep them back.
“Who was that?” Buffy asked brightly, looking up from yet another book as she tried to help Giles and Willow with their research on Glory. “Something to tear us away from all this I hope!” She waved her and at the stack of books and smiled.
“Buffy . . ." At Spike’s expression, Buffy’s mood sobered.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Buffy was on her feet, moving towards Spike.
“Buffy, sit down here.” Spike tried to direct her to the couch.
“NO – tell me what’s wrong!” Buffy stood firm.
Spike sighed. “Buffy, it’s your Mum, she collapsed at the gallery this evening.”
“Mom! But she’s ok, right? We have to go pick her up?”
Spike closed his eyes again to fight back the tears. “No, Buffy.”
“She’s in the hospital?” Buffy tried to search Spike’s face for the answer she wanted. Willow and Giles had stopped reading and were now paying attention to what Spike was saying.
“No, Buffy . . . I’m sorry. You’re Mum, she’s . . . she’s dead. They couldn’t save her.”
“WHAT!? No, no, no, no . . . you . . . you misunderstood them! That’s not possible! She’s fine! She was fine!”
Spike pulled Buffy into his arms, all she could say now was, “no, no, no” and all he could say was, “I’m sorry, Buffy, I’m so sorry.”
The next days were a blur for Buffy, Spike made the arrangements for the funeral, showing Buffy different choices in coffins and headstones and flowers and the hundred other things that had to be decided, letting her choose when she could, making the decision himself when she couldn’t.
Spike arranged for the funeral to be held after sundown, it was a candlelit service at the graveside. Buffy held Annie to her as the minister spoke. Buffy didn’t really hear any of it. Then it was over and people were hugging her, but she wouldn’t let Annie go, so they hugged Buffy and Annie. Angel, Faith and Cordelia had come down from L.A., even Wesley came.
As everyone finally dispersed after the service, Buffy just stood there, staring at the open grave, at the coffin now lowered into the ground. She wondered idly when they would cover it . . . surely the cemetery workers don’t work at night. She looked around the area but didn’t see anyone that looked like a worker.
“Spike, we need to get her covered. We can’t leave it like this,” she sounded desperate.
“It’s ok Buffy, they have people that do that,” Spike assured her.
“NO! Now! It needs to be done now! She can’t be like this all night!” she looked at him wide eyed, panicky.
“Buffy, luv, it will be. Just as soon as we go, they’ll take care of it,” Spike reassured her.
“NO. I’m not leaving until it’s done.” She clung tighter to her daughter who was trying to squirm away and get down.
“Buffy, let me have Annie for a minute, ok? Just a minute and I’ll get them to take care of this now, ok? Just hand me the Niblett.” Buffy was holding Annie so tightly, Spike was afraid she’d hurt the child accidentally.
“They’ll do it now?” Buffy’s voice like that of a small child.
“Yes, luv. Just give me the Niblett for a minute, ok?” Spike reached out his hands to take Annie and Buffy released her for the first time since they’d left the house for the funeral.
Spike waved to Willow and Xander. “Stay with her a minute, yeah? I’ve got to take care of somethin’.” Her friends nodded and went to stand next to Buffy, but she didn’t really know they were there, her whole being focused on the open grave. It was something solid, a problem that could be solved, something to focus on other than the fact that her mother was gone.
Spike returned after a few minutes. “Ok, Buffy? Come on over here a few minutes, luv. They’re gonna get that taken care of right now, but you have to move back. Buffy?” He grabbed her arm and guided her back away from the grave several feet then nodded at the workers who had shown up.
Buffy watched as they worked, removing the chairs and the fake green Astroturf carpet from over the pile of dirt then, using a small machine, they began filling in the grave. Spike watched her, Buffy hadn’t cried during the whole funeral, she’d cried that first night when he told her, at the morgue when she saw the body she broke down and later that night in their bed he held her as she cried herself to sleep. But since then, she had been on autopilot, in a state of shock, the Watcher had said. It worried Spike, she needed to let it out.
When the workers were done, they placed a small, temporary marker on the spot, took all their tools, the fake grass and the chairs and left. Spike handed Annie to Willow and asked if she could watch her tonight.
“Sure, anything,” had been the answer from Willow as she took the toddler and she and Xander left Spike and Buffy alone.
When the workers had gone, Buffy went back to the now filled in grave. She dropped to her knees and ran her hands across the temporary marker. Joyce Summers it said, simply. Buffy’s bottom lip began to quiver and the tears welled in her eyes. “Joyce Summers,” Buffy said aloud. Buffy thought about all the things her mom would never see. Annie’s first day of school, Annie’s first dance, her first boyfriend, the prom, graduating high school, Annie getting married . . . having children of her own.
The tears flowed freely now as Buffy continued to run her fingers along the steel marker; Joyce Summers. The tears turned into sobs wracking her body, she sat back on her heels and laid down on her side on the ground, curled in a small ball next to the grave. “Mommy. Please no, please, please no. I swear, I’ll try harder, I’ll be better, Mommy please, please don’t leave me. I’m so sorry, Mom, please.”
Spike sat down behind her, pulling her to him, she turned and clung to him like he was a life preserver and she was drowning. “Shh, Buffy, it’s not your fault, luv.”
“I’m a terrible daughter! It is my fault! Mom, PLEASE, I swear I’ll be better! I'll do anything! Please, please, please, no.”
“Buffy, listen to me.” Spike pulled her up to look at him. “Buffy, your mum loved you, she loved you with all her heart and she was so proud of you, of your strength, of your life, of Annie. It is not your fault.”
“Spike, I’ve been a terrible daughter . . . you don’t know,” she sobbed against his shoulder.
“I do know, Buffy, and you have to trust me. Your mum loved you. You gave her a beautiful granddaughter. You made her proud of you.”
“Then why did she leave me?” she whispered so quietly, Spike barely heard her.
“She didn’t leave you, luv. She’s right here.” He pressed a hand against her heart. “And here.” He pressed a hand against his own unbeating heart. “And in Annie. She’ll always be with you, with us.”
“God, Spike, why do I feel so alone then?”
Spike didn’t have an answer for that, he felt the same way. Joyce had treated him like a man from the beginning, dared him to be more than he was. He felt that same emptiness within himself and wished he could do something, anything, to fix it for all of them, but there wasn’t anything to do but grieve.
Finally, he said, “We’re not alone, Buffy, we’ll always have each other and your mum will always be alive as long as she’s in our hearts.”
He held her against his chest as he rocked her, her sobs would wane but then come back again as some new hurt, some new memory would come to her, and so it went through most of the night, sitting at the graveside, holding each other in the dark.
Spike jumped slightly at the touch on his shoulder, looking around he saw Xander standing behind them.
“Time to go,” Xander said simply. “It’s nearly dawn.”
Spike nodded, Buffy had finally fallen asleep and he was loathe to wake her, but the Boy was right, he had felt the approaching dawn tingling down his spine for the last fifteen minutes. Xander bent down and lifted Buffy from Spike’s arms, she moaned lightly, but didn’t wake up. Xander carried her back to his car, Spike followed behind. Setting Buffy in the back seat, Xander moved around to the driver’s door as Spike climbed in the back with Buffy, pulling her against him, her head resting on his shoulder.
“Did she finally cry?” Xander asked as he started the car.
“Yeah,” Spike answered tiredly.
Xander looked in the rear view mirror, but, of course, couldn’t see Spike. He stopped at the cemetery entrance and turned in the seat to meet Spike’s eyes. “She’s lucky to have you.”
Spike simply nodded. Apology, nearly three years in the making, accepted.
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