Hi. It’s my posting day today, and, as usual, I’ve just gone with the theme of the round.
Setting: Between BtVS seasons 5 and 6
Rating: PG-13/R (for a couple of bad words and a vague suggestion of m/m slashiness)
Beta: dwyld read it through for me.
Disclaimer: Not for profit, don’t sue, no money
A Hundred and Forty Seven Nights To Save Your Lover
The first night he saves her, his body’s in shreds, legs broken in half a dozen places- a husk of…well, not a man. But when she leaps, he’s ready – darts forward, catches her before she can hit the ground.
‘Course, the world ends a moment afterwards, but who cares about that?
When his eyes blink open, the ceiling of his crypt looms overhead. Questing fingers find cold stone beneath him. His bedding – which he nicked off someone’s washing line – must have slipped off onto the floor. He tries rolling onto his side and reaching down for it, but gives up. It hurts too bloody much.
He can’t even remember how he got here, can’t remember anything past the sight of her body smashing on concrete. Probably, the Watcher brought him back, though. He does have a vague recollection of asking the poor bastard how she could still look so beautiful with every bone in her body broken.
In retrospect, he’s lucky not to have been dusted on the spot.
The second night he saves her, it’s at the top of Glory’s tower with the tear in reality widening above their heads. It spews out monsters while the crazy structure creaks and groans, listing in the wind. He’s too late (again) to stop Doc cutting Dawn, so he stabs her through the heart to make it quick and casts her body into the howling void. The rift closes. No more monsters. Glory dies. The world doesn’t end.
When he turns, Buffy’s standing white faced at the top of the rickety stair. She stakes him, of course. He crumbles to dust with her cries of grief (not for him) echoing in his ears.
The third night he saves her, infection has set in (some magic of Doc’s, maybe, he looked the venomous type) and he’s running a fever for the first time since Dru sired him. Someone’s been here, thrown some blood bags in the corner near the door. He can smell them, and his empty belly growls. But he’s too far gone to crawl all that way across the crypt. Anyway, he has more important things to do than heal, like saving an imaginary slayer.
It’s just him and Doc again, to the death. But he wins this time. Tears the vicious little bastard’s lying tongue right out and strangles him with it. Dawn’s crying in his arms when Buffy reaches the top of the tower and her eyes glisten with pride when she looks at him.
He really is off his head with fever, isn’t he?
The fourth night he saves her, he’s aching all over and in no condition to run up those imaginary stairs to save anyone, so he ambushes Ben somewhere and kills him – whether that stops Glory, who knows? He’s too bloody ill to care. As long as Buffy doesn’t die, it’s a win. He frees Dawn and takes her back to her grateful sis.
Even Harris looks impressed.
The fifth night he saves her, his fever’s at its worst. Drenched in sweat, he’s cursing and tossing his head this way and that while someone tries to force blood down his gullet.
“Watch his fangs, Will!” Harris’s voice exclaims. Hot, nervous hands grab the sides of his face, holding his head still. The gush of blood catches the back of his throat, making him cough. Blood spurts out through his nose.
Dawn’s crying. “Please, Willow. Please help him!”, and he thinks, bloody witches. Always interfering where they’re not wanted. Doesn’t she know he has important slayers to save?
Soon, though, he’s too busy killing imaginary Willow to care what real Willow might be up to. Breaking her skinny little neck is very satisfying, as it turns out, even if the Watcher does drag his horrible lingering death out for a week or so afterwards. Anyway, it’s worth it, because without Willow around, Buffy can stay safe, locked inside her own mind while Glory murders Dawn.
She’s better off there, isn’t she, so it counts as saving her. ‘Course it does.
In the end, they must have got some of the blood down him, because he sleeps better afterwards, despite the raging fever.
The sixth night he saves her, they’re out in the desert, under siege by the Knights of Byzantium. Their chanting priests make his skin crawl, like he’s infested with holy fleas. The midday sun keeps trying to catch him unawares through gaps in the wooden walls of the abandoned gas station – can’t explain otherwise why his body feels like it’s on fire. When Ben morphs into Glory and grabs Dawn, he manages to slow her down long enough for the knights to break through Willow’s mystical barrier and finish the job.
All right, so in reality she’d killed every one of the stupid gits without even breaking a nail, but if he’s not up to killing imaginary Glory, he can make her as weak as he pleases so those idiots can do it for him.
Imaginary Buffy can be as grateful as he pleases too. This time she’s very grateful.
He always knew she wasn’t a natural blonde. Which is why when he gave that little creep Warren the specs for the ‘bot…
No, he’s not going to think about the ‘bot, except to wish it had taken that swan dive off the tower instead of the real thing.
The seventh night he saves her, he steals a Porsche instead of a clapped out Winnebago, and just the three of them run away, him, Dawn, and big sis. Glory doesn’t catch them, but they know she’ll never give up looking so they keep on the move, never staying long anywhere. He and Buffy take dead end jobs to make enough money for gas and repairs.
It’s a grim life, full of roach-infested motel rooms on the bad sides of towns that don’t have good sides. There are times when he’s ready to say sod domestic bliss -let Glory have Dawn, let the world end, as long as he gets to keep Buffy.
But then Buffy gives Dawn that I-can’t-live-without-you look, and he knows he’ll keep running till she says stop.
The eighth night he saves her, he’s decided the mind-broadening effects of travel have been greatly exaggerated, so they hide in the Initiative tunnels. Despite her minions’ efforts (and high mortality-rate), Glory doesn’t find them. The stars align, but there’s no Key to open the dimensional door so she dies screaming, or turns into Ben for good, and serve the bloody bitch right.
The three of them emerge from the tunnels to find she’d slaughtered half of Sunnydale in the course of her search, including Giles and the Scoobies. Buffy’s not as grateful this time.
Even imaginary Buffy doesn’t always do what he wants her to.
The ninth night he saves her, his fever’s broken and he’s feeling more himself. Enough himself to tell Dawn to piss off when she sneaks into his crypt, climbs onto his stone bed and lies down next to him on the sweat-stained coverlet.
She doesn’t piss off. Instead, she huddles closer.
In the end, he puts his arm around her, pulls his ratty blanket over their heads and holds her tight, trying to ignore her silent sobs, while he carries on with his slayer saving.
Maybe it’s guilt over the piss off comment that does it – and if so, where the fuck did that come from? – but this time, he’s back in Glory’s torture chamber, the bitch’s fingers rammed into his cold, dead heart, squeezing the juice out of it, before dragging it bodily from his chest. There’s other nasty stuff too, to do with entrails, and eyeballs. But he withstands her torture so long, Glory misses her shot at going home.
She kills him, of course, but at least Buffy looks sad when she finds his dust. Anyway, as far as imaginary torture goes, Giles was better at it.
The tenth night he saves her, it’s not just her and Dawn he saves, but Joyce too. He’s killed Glory – somehow or other, it doesn’t matter how- and found a spell that cures brain cancer. Joyce gives him her permission to woo Buffy. She’s wearing a crinoline and a lace mob cap at the time and he’s in a morning suit, complete with stiff wing-collar, and with little gold-framed glasses perched on the end of his nose.
He jerks awake from that one in a panic, to find himself covered in sweat again. He must still have a touch of fever.
From the tenth night onwards, he’s back on his feet after a fashion. At any rate, he can hobble around the crypt on a pair of crutches and put an almost-sneer on his face when Harris drops by with another blood bag. There’s not much in the way of conversation between them. Harris is only doing it because of her, after all. But their eyes meet and there’s…something that wasn’t there before.
Never thought he’d share anything with a human again, least of all grief.
He wonders how long before they get around to blaming him (the way he blames himself) for not saving her when it mattered.
Dawn comes by, lets slip they’ve buried her out in the woods somewhere. There wasn’t really a funeral, but the lack of an invitation grates anyway. Seems they thought Angel wouldn’t like him being there.
That night, Captain Forehead comes visiting in person. It’s not a social call. Angel says all the bitter, hateful things the others haven’t said, but of course the old man’s giant ego insists he could have saved her if he’d been there instead of off jaunting in another dimension, and therefore it’s all his fault that she died.
It’s always about him, isn’t it?
In the end, they share a bottle or three (well, more like five) of Jack and…other things they used to share. Afterwards, they both cry (pissed as newts, don’t forget) and Angel falls asleep on top of him. He doesn’t sleep. Bastard’s too bloody heavy.
Not surprisingly, when he saves her that night, she thanks Angel, not him.
By the thirtieth night -a whole month after she died -he’s ventured back into the outside world, to find everything’s changed.
Willow and her witchy girlfriend (not crazy any more) have moved into Buffy’s house and Willow’s become the ipso facto leader of the Scooby Gang. Until recently, he’d have bet on Giles, but Willow’s clearly in her element. Besides, the Watcher’s too broken by grief.
As for himself, within minutes of his first hesitant knock on the front door, he’s been co-opted as part-time Scooby-cum-babysitter.
Which is a bit of a turnaround. He’d half-expected they would’ve disinvited him again. On the other hand, he’s the only ally outside their pathetic little group strong enough to protect Dawn, and they all know that.
Even Giles doesn’t say anything. The Watcher puts up a good front for Dawn, but it’s obvious the heart’s gone out of him. His war’s over.
For the briefest of moments, he finds himself wondering how they felt afterwards- Nikki Wood’s Watcher, and the Chinese slayer’s, whatever her name was.
Not that he cares (his guilt doesn’t stretch that far), but it must have felt like having their guts ripped out and trampled on, going by Giles’s expression.
He shrugs, puts the thought out of his head and deals another hand of cards. Turns out they’re quite happy to leave him in sole charge of the Slayer’s little sis -more and more, as the months pass – and Dawn’s a natural at poker. As for him, he can play almost without thinking – can laugh at stupid teen flicks on the telly, tell tall stories of his killing days – even teach the Niblet how to cheat – while inside his head, he goes on saving Buffy.
He knows it’s stupid, but he’s become obsessed with it.
It’s like if he can’t find a way to save her every night, he has to face up to his own failure once and for all. Worse still, she dies all over again.
Sixty nights have rolled around by the time he’s refined every scenario to do with Glory so they’re bloody near-perfect. In each one, even if he doesn’t get to live, Buffy always does.
On the sixty-first night, he decides to widen his scope. He’s bored of Glory (always was, truth be told), so he saves Buffy from Adam instead. This lasts him a week or two, and then he saves her from that crazy slayer who stole her body.
From the seventieth night onwards, he’s saving her from Angelus.
She’s especially grateful to him every single night while this lasts, having realised (finally!) what a ponce her ex is.
After a while, though, even the Angelus scenario’s played out.
When that happens, he panics at first, because he can’t let even one night go by without saving her. But in the end, he goes back to the beginning – to Glory’s tower. There must still be ways he hadn’t thought of, to be faster, cleverer – to save her even better.
By this time, Dawn is better at poker than he is himself and Giles is talking about going back to Blighty. Meanwhile, the Scoobies have secrets in their eyes which they don’t share with him.
He doesn’t care. He’s never kidded himself that they were friends.
Let them glance sidelong at him and whisper together in corners. Let Willow come home with darkness in her eyes and stinking of animal blood. Let them do what the hell they like.
None of it matters as long as he gets to go on saving her.
In the end, he saves her for one hundred and forty seven nights.
The one hundred and forty eighth night doesn’t count.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/815412.html