Fic: In the Living Season

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Title: In the Living Season
Author: Jen
Medium: Fic
Rating: R
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss. I just play here. I receive no payment; Spuffy is my reward. ;)
Summary: 100-word snapshots of love, longing, loss, and hope.
A/N: readerjane is a beta rock star. Seriously. Her comments and suggestions were absolutely invaluable, and all remaining mistakes are mine. Thank you *so much* for all of your help and encouragement! Big thanks as well to the lovely enigmaticblues for her hard work on this community and to the other participants for the daily dose of Spuffy goodness. Can’t wait to catch up here at last, and thank you for reading!

Day 148

He looked up and saw the impossible.

He’d known even as the words left his mouth that it wasn’t the robot. The vision was familiar, though, for he knew what this was. He’d had this dream before.

In his mind she was always coming to him, and he was always waiting for her. Sometimes he even imagined her on the stairs, like this, as she’d been on that last night when she’d invited him back in. When he’d talked of love, made his promises.

Her presence, like her absence, was constant.

Then he looked harder.

No, this dream was new.

Day 1

This was what happened after the world didn’t end.

Willow and Tara clung tightly to each other. Xander sank to his knees, Anya in his arms, and wept silently. Giles pulled Dawn to him, angled his body to block her view of Buffy.

Spike remained alone. Apart.

It was Xander’s voice he heard as he came back to himself. “No. No way. We are not leaving her here.”

“No one wants that, Xander, but you have to carry Anya, and Giles can’t manage—”

“We don’t leave her, Willow.”

“No.” Was that the sound of his voice? “I’ll do it.”


Surely he’d spent a moment in the light when he’d picked her up, but he had no memory of it. Knew nothing now but the feel of her soft cotton sweater against his hand, the sound of her heels clicking faintly against each other, here in the shadows as he made his way back to the Magic Box.

He would not look at her, search for peace in her still features. Wouldn’t imagine a sudden intake of breath, eyelids fluttering—

This was just the empty shell of the girl who’d died to save the world.

Because he couldn’t save her.

Day 2


He decided he would not respond. He’d half-convinced himself that if he waited for her in this quiet, dark place, unmoving, she would come back.

But that might have been the alcohol doing his thinking for him.

“You can hear me, right, Spike?” Willow paused. “We’re burying Buffy tomorrow. No one can know, or they’ll take Dawn away.”

She said more, but he’d stopped listening.

No obituary or priest, then. Would she have minded?

“It’s at sunset. You could come.”

He didn’t imagine they actually wanted him there. Probably just needed another grim-faced mourner.

That much he could manage.


He wasn’t done drinking, not by a long shot, but figured he could suspend efforts to distance the pain by virtue of bourbon/whiskey/whatever-else-was-left-in-the-crypt long enough to help them put Buffy in the ground.

He was good at putting things in the ground.

He ignored the pounding in his head to survey his wardrobe for funeral clothes, discovered nothing suitable except the costume he’d put on to woo Buffy, when he’d wanted her to see him as something other than Slayer of Slayers. He stumbled outside and emptied his stomach at the thought of wearing his date clothes to bury her.

Day 3

He found them waiting in the corner of the cemetery, in the place Willow had described.

Had this spot meant something to Buffy, or was it simply selected for its isolation? He wasn’t sure he could bear to know.

He watched her friends choke on their farewells and talk of heroism.

He said nothing.

Xander shook his hand. Giles clapped him awkwardly on the shoulder. Dawn hugged him, and he murmured useless platitudes in her ear while he stroked her hair. Tara brushed his arm with her fingers, and he felt solace in her touch.

But only for a moment.


He was surprised to find himself walking them back to her house afterwards, more surprised when no one objected.

When he saw her sitting on the couch, his knees gave out, and he fell awkwardly into the doorframe. She rose to help him up, but he backed her off with an outstretched hand and whatever wordless sound it was that tore from his throat.

Buffybot turned to Willow, puzzled. “Did Spike get broken, too?”

He gaped at her. “What the fuck?”

He crawled away from their explanations, from the thing that wasn’t Buffy. When he could stand again, he ran.

Day 4

“Shouldn’t be here, Little Bit. Not really fit for company.”

“I don’t mind.”

He said nothing, just picked up his bottle again, drank deeply.

“Everyone’s really sorry. About Buffybot? Willow said she told you.”

He shrugged. “Probably did. I was only half-listening when she was here.” He paused. “You managing?”

What an idiotic word. Like losing Buffy was a chore to be completed.

She twitched her shoulders. “Sometimes I think they wish—”


He eyed her. “What?”

“Nothing.” She looked away. “It’s hard sometimes, to be around them.”

“Guess you can be here, then. When you need to be.”


And so she stayed, eventually brought their conversation around to what happened at the top of the tower.

He couldn’t very well stop her. Knew he didn’t deserve to. This was part of his penance.

“She wasn’t afraid, said it was what she needed to do. Said that living was the hardest thing in the world to do, that I should be brave and live. For her.”

Fucking death wish. Had he put that in her head?

Dawn sniffled. “Don’t you leave, too, okay?”

Fingers met palm through the bottleneck he’d shattered. He shook away broken glass and held her.

Day 10

It was hardest at night.

Night was when he most wanted to act out his own death wish, so he had to get up, get out, get killing. He wasn’t reckless, exactly, but he wasn’t careful, either. If he had his way, not a damn thing would be rising in Sunnydale for a good, long spell.

So far, he was having his way.

And afterwards, he always found himself here. He sat on the back steps, or leaned against the tree in the front yard, and watched her people, made sure they were safe.

Better late than never, he supposed.


They were arguing about him. Again.

“Geez, you act like he’s dangerous!” Dawn huffed.

“I really don’t see the harm in her visiting him, Xander.” That was Tara.

“He is dangerous. Why am I the only one who gets this?” Xander sounded incredulous. “Think about what he is.”

“We don’t have to think about it. Some of us can see what he is every time he comes around,” Dawn shot back. “And he doesn’t act like it should have been me instead of her!”

He rubbed out his cigarette, decided he’d go in now, before they said things they’d regret.

Day 19

Part of him yearned to remain in a pose of suspended animation. It seemed the more poetic thing to do. She’d stopped, and he loved her; why couldn’t he just stop, too?

Sometimes Spike imagined the size and shape of Angel’s grief, knew Angel was off alone at the edge of the world, meditating or whatever the fuck he did with his pain, surrendering to the same dark current threatening to carry him away, too.

He didn’t know if it was strength or weakness that kept him here, but he’d made a promise.

Keeping it was all he had left.


He was self-aware enough to know he was a social animal, even in grief. The need for others had kept him surrounded by minions for a hundred years, drawn him to the slayer and her people like a moth to a flame, even when it meant being chained in a bathtub or stuck in Harris’s basement.

So he listened when Anya came by to fill him in on the first post-Buffy apocalypse.

“Giles thought you might want to help,” she concluded.

“Said that, did he?”

“Well, his exact words were, ‘Spike would be useful.’”

Useful was something.

“Let’s go then.”

Day 37

He imagined that they’d finally come to the end after all.

It’d been their last chance to stop the ritual, but the plan to draw the demon out of the cavern failed. While the others organized a final, desperate attack, he charged in by himself.

There was no time for regrets, even when he realized the demon was going to rip him apart. There was only satisfaction at going down fighting. And relief it would all soon be over.

But then it wasn’t.


The others pulled him out, howling, weeping. They thought it was the pain.

They were right.


They’d half-dragged, half-carried him back to the Magic Box afterwards, back to their make-shift war room, and he woke to find Xander taping gauze around his ruined wrist. He tried to sit up, failed. “No more apocalypse?”

Xander sat back, studied him.

“They think you’re brave. Me? I think you’re a selfish bastard,” Xander hissed. “They need you. Hell, I need you. We can’t do this on our own.” He exhaled. “I miss her, too. You haven’t cornered the market on grief. You just act like it.”


“No more attempted suicides, okay?” Xander paused. “You want a cigarette?”


Day 51

He stood smoking under the tree in the yard, back from patrolling with Xander and Anya.

It had been a pleasant surprise to learn that Harris could handle himself in a fight, and Anya could be damn frightening when the occasion called for it. He hadn’t noticed before. But now they’d all fallen into a rhythm. He’d come to know their moves, and they his.

They actually made a decent, if surreal, team.

He wouldn’t patrol with the bot, left that for Giles, the others. She made it difficult for him to concentrate.

That was weakness, but he didn’t care.


“Waiting for me?”


He didn’t turn around. “No, not for you, pet.”

She snaked an arm around his chest, another around his waist, rested her cheek on his shoulder. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Was me who did wrong.”

“I forgive you,” she murmured.

Now he twisted to face her, touched her hair, let her lean into his hand.

But it was too hard to pretend now.

He pounded on the door, pushed the bot inside when Red answered.

“I can’t—”

Whatever Willow saw in his eyes made her promise to alter Buffybot’s programming.

He hadn’t even asked.

Day 74

He sensed her before he saw her.

She was standing in the middle of the crypt, swaying slightly amidst the rubble. At some point during the first weeks, he’d systematically destroyed everything in the place in a blinding rage and hadn’t bothered to clear things away. Seemed fitting to live in ruins.

Dru fixed him with a disapproving look.

“You’re not supposed to be here, my Spike. Little bitsies whispered that you’d gone. I came to mourn you.”

He pushed his hands into his pockets. “Sorry to disappoint.”

She gazed at him. “You’re in mourning, too. Shall we grieve together?”


He closed his eyes as she pressed her cheek to his, flirted with the idea of letting himself sink into her. Supposed a tiny part of him would always crave her on some elemental level.

But he didn’t really want her. Not now.

He wanted a fantasy he couldn’t—wouldn’t—let go of yet.

She drew back. “You don’t want me anymore.”


She plucked something invisible out of the air next to him, waved her finger, scolding. “You can’t have her, you know. She’s ashes now. Like you.”

“I know.”

Her laughter lingered long after he sent her away.

Day 98

He was alone in the kitchen. Everyone else was apparently running behind schedule, but he wasn’t worried. Yet.

Instead, he was restless. And hungry. He’d forgotten to eat again. If he didn’t do something about it, he’d be tempted to sample whatever god-awful mess Dawn concocted for dinner, and that never led anywhere good.

He glanced into the fridge.

That couldn’t be what he thought it was.

He blinked, shut the door. Opened it again to check.

No, it was exactly what he thought it was.

Someone had made sure there was blood here for him.

Almost like he belonged.


Funny the way that three months could feel like forever, could change so many things about his life.

He didn’t need to knock on the front door anymore. He walked in now, no longer fearful of interrupting or being ordered away. Same with the shop. They accepted his presence, even welcomed him in a way that was starting to become comfortable. And necessary.

Almost like family. Not quite, but almost.

He had Buffy’s sister, her friends, her Watcher, her house, even took on her mission, but he had no real peace.

He didn’t have her.

That much stayed the same.

Day 115

And so the long, dry summer wore on without her.

He found it ironic that for all intents and purposes he was helping raise a child, wondered what she would have made of that.

He forced himself into a pattern of wakefulness and repose. At night he dreamed of saving her. The rest of the time he spent trying to avoid the hole of grief and regret she’d left at the center of him, the sucking chest wound of her absence.

He cleared away the debris from his crypt, started over again.

Though he didn’t want to, he went on.


When he found Tara in the crypt, he was sure he’d failed again. “It’s Dawn.”

“No. She’s fine.” Realization bloomed. “Oh. She’s…she’s okay. Promise.”

He closed his eyes, steadied himself. Resigned himself.

He asked her why she’d come.

“Xander and Willow, they think Buffy’s in hell. Is that what you think?”

“Dunno. Probably.” He stared. “Any particular reason you’re asking?”

“It’s been on my mind, I guess.”

“Yeah.” That made two of them.

Before she left, she pressed a crystal, cool and hard, into his hand. “It’s for grief.”

Such a foolish little thing, magic.

As if it fixed anything.

Day 146

Something was changing. The shift was subtle, but it registered nonetheless. He still patrolled with them. They still relied on him to watch Dawn. More often than normal, as a matter of fact.

But they had a secret. There was too much watchful silence now when he came around. He wondered what they were planning, supposed he was a little hurt that they hadn’t seen fit to tell him. He thought they trusted him. Had come to count on it, really.

Maybe he was just imagining things. Wasn’t like any of them could change the way things were, was it?


“I haven’t told the others yet, but I’ve decided to leave.”

Ah. So this is how it would begin, then. Not secrets. Departures.

Couldn’t say he was surprised. He’d watched Giles with the bot, knew something of what it cost him to be forever reminded of what he’d lost.

Aloud he merely said, “Off home, then?”

“Yes.” Giles cleared his throat. “I wanted to thank you for your help. The others can continue to rely on you?”

He shrugged. “No plans to move on.”

“She would have appreciated your fidelity, Spike. As I have.”

Wasn’t it pretty to think so?

Day 148

He looked up and saw the impossible.

He’d known even as the words left his mouth that it wasn’t the robot. The vision was familiar, though, for he knew what this was. He’d had this dream before.

In his mind she was always coming to him, and he was always waiting for her. Sometimes he even imagined her on the stairs, like this, as she’d been on that last night when she’d invited him back in. When he’d talked of love, made his promises.

Her presence, like her absence, was constant.

Then he looked harder.

No, this dream was new.


He looked up, saw the impossible made possible.

In a moment crowded with thoughts and emotions clamoring for attention, only one made its way to clarity.

She lived.

It changed everything.

He didn’t need to see into the future to know he’d lost them, the fragile family he thought he’d found in the dark chasm of his grief, her absence.

It hadn’t been pretend, exactly. But it hadn’t been real either.

Real was walking down the stairs in front of him, bringing him as close to life as a dead man could get.

He moved forward to touch a dream…


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