And that’s all she wrote! Yaaaay – thanks again, mods!
The Page of Wands
Post-Series/S10 | PG-13
It’s an odd place, Spike’s head. The heart of it is difficult to find.
“By the time the story started spreading, of course,” Spike finished, “and by the time Dru did come back…” He was staring up at the ceiling, while Buffy was watching his face. “That whole night seemed like a dream. It wasn’t until I told you about Nikki that I remembered the most of what she said.”
Buffy snorted, looking at her guy in his armour. The story was in her ears and she’d just about followed it, but even with the ring of truth this time it sounded ridiculous. They were in San Francisco, but the sheets were blood-red, swathed around them like history. “You loved her,” she said, because it was obvious – ridiculous.
“Eh?” Spike asked, looking down at her. He had a frown between his eyebrows and Buffy figured he thought she was talking about the hooker.
“Nikki,” she pointed out. A kitten was pawing tiny claws into her hair, but Buffy batted it away. “I don’t mean in a stalk-her, fight-on-her-side, get-a-soul-and-die-for-her way,” she explained, when Spike still looked confused. “Although,” she added, bumping her forehead into his shoulder, “you did stalk her…”
“No.” Spike shook his head. The room darkened, spun, and they were back on the crypt’s silky bed again, cigarette smoke clinging to the air. “You’re wrong.” He sat abruptly, swinging his legs around until he was on his feet and pacing back and forth amongst what would have been their clothes.
“It’s OK,” Buffy tried to tell him, as the storming darkness around him made the sheets cling and slide across her clothes. “It’s OK to have these twisty, weird emotions.” She put a hand on her chest. “Believe me, I get it. I didn’t want to, for a long time, but…”
“You want to know what I think about these dreams?” Spike interrupted her, abruptly turning on his heel to drag Buffy off from the bed and over to the back of his bedroom, out of the storm door –
– but it didn’t take them into the sewers, not this time. Instead, they were pulled out into an alleyway, where the wind howled and cars groaned in the distance.
It looked a little like the alley behind the Bronze. Else it looked like a dozen alleyways Buffy knew from SF. Else it was New York. The location wasn’t really the important feature, unfortunately, so much as the spread of corpses littering the ground. Half of them weren’t wearing modern fashions, and to one side, with light flashing over her from no source at all, there was an African American woman in what looked like her early twenties, with a halo of black hair and flared jeans.
“I think I killed them,” Spike said, his conscious will adamant as his subconscious refused to detail the vanishing point of the alley, sending Buffy’s gaze back and further back down into darkness and always more bodies. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m sure I killed them. Evil’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at. You can say the only thing I need is some control, but the fact is I don’t have any.”
Buffy couldn’t stop staring at the bodies. She wondered what it would look like, all the vampires she’d killed laid out in the line. Hell, maybe all the humans. “If you killed them,” Buffy insisted, steadily, with a swallow, “then the knowledge is still here inside of you. We can find it. You can find it and we can use it.”
There was a sound of breath as Spike sighed. He looked tired, when Buffy finally wrenched her eyes back to his. The streets morphed a little, shifted angles and lighting, and then they were definitely outside Spike and Xander’s apartment building. “I just don’t know how to keep going sometimes. I honestly do not know.”
“Me either,” Buffy replied, pressing her lips together into a smile. Spike looked doubtful, but Buffy wasn’t sure now was the moment to try again to break his faith in her. “Come on, Spike,” she said, taking him by the shoulders and turning him physically away from the alley. Come on. “We don’t have to solve everything right now. Just… Just this one thing.”
Spike clenched his jaw, pulled his coat around himself. “Yeah,” he agreed, shutting his eyes. Buffy blinked and the alleyway was on their other side, empty like it usually was when they came home. “OK,” Spike added, nodding at her and centring himself. He reached out, took her hand. “All right.”
Buffy nodded, smiling what she hoped was an encouraging smile. They turned and breached the mouth of the alleyway –
– and found themselves heading straight back into Spike’s crypt from Sunnydale.
“Bloody, sodding… Grraagh!” Spike swore, letting go of her hand to kick the door that swung shut behind him. “What the hell is wrong with me?” he demanded, glaring at Buffy as though she had the answers. “Why are we here?”
“Well I don’t know!” Buffy shouted back, throwing up her hands. “This is not my favourite scene in Buffy and Spike’s star-crossed romance.”
Spike clenched his jaw, livid and suiting it in his ridiculous Big Bad outfit. The room darkened, the air cold and a smell rising that was bitter, like tar.
“Calm down, OK?” Buffy kept shouting as blood pounded in her ears, for reasons she wasn’t sure why. Grime was gathering on the brown leather chair; the candelabras weren’t upright, clattering and breaking. There was a smell like burning matches, burnt meat, and the sarcophagus had a rumpled sheet on it, smelling like sex.
All of the smells were more vivid than Buffy could have remembered: they were giving her a headache, stabbing in her left temple.
There were voices, coming from below them, her own and – Riley’s; sounds of gunfire.
There was a crash and behind her there was Spike, half-naked and lean and bruised, one foot held up where he’d kicked his own TV from the stand. There wasn’t a single straight line in his body; every part of him was cracking inward.
Without even thinking, Buffy began rushing over to him, but she was held back by a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t,” Spike told her, and they watched as this other image picked up his duster and left the crypt – noise and smell and adrenaline still an assault on Buffy’s every sense.
“Why are we here?” Buffy whispered. The noises went on. They weren’t a loop, but the explosion wasn’t due in Spike’s memory. She felt tired.
Was this what they were doomed to come back to? Buffy didn’t want to believe it, but in some ways it seemed inevitable. Here they were again, in the dark, without escape, and here they were knowing exactly how it felt.
“This is when I hated you,” Spike’s voice explained, as she squeezed her eyes shut against it. She didn’t want it to be true. “For the first time since you’d come back – for the first time ever, really.” He sounded resigned to it, as though he’d given up on hiding it. “I promised myself I’d never let you back in,” he added. “Not all the way.”
As she turned around, the clamour faded in Buffy’s ears. The smell dissipated, leaving only the smell she last remembered from this place: earth and green grass, sunlight filling the space that he’d left and she’d cleared out. “You’re gonna have to,” she told Spike, looking at the last warden he had for his soul. “Not only to fix this mystery, but if we’re gonna…” If we’re ever gonna work out.
He hadn’t told her the full story, not about what had happened that night in New York. Buffy couldn’t be sure what was missing, but there was something. Of course, she wasn’t sure if she needed to know. It didn’t really matter, just the realisation that he wasn’t telling her – that he wouldn’t.
“You need to let me…”
“I know,” the image of Spike’s will interrupted her, walking away and hopping up to sit on the sarcophagus. There was no emotion in his voice, though when he’d made his peace with it Buffy had no way of telling. His legs dangled against the stone, spread wide, and he rested his hands on his belt.
Standing awkwardly, Buffy tried to figure out how she could ever reassure him. What was there to say? It was always going to be risk, just like it always had been. “If it helps,” she told him eventually, “this is the place I realised I’d let you in my head.” She nodded towards the ladder. “Downstairs, a few weeks before the whole… With the rugs?”
Spike snorted in surprise, his gaze darting away with what seemed like bashfulness.
Buffy figured he remembered. She continued to explain, “I hated myself; refused to believe it.”
That was the thing, wasn’t it? Even now, of course, she could remember the feel of the heavy warp threads on her chest, blushing from the feeling of exposure. Everything else she did with Spike, there had always been a part of her who imagined what it would be like to explain it to someone else, how shameful it would be. That moment, however, she’d realised what she’d done was inexplicable. They’d only been talking, but it had been something else. A conversation, like Spike had called it, but something more than that as well.
“I never got you out again,” she promised.
Still suspicious, the Spike on the sarcophagus looked up. His eyes were narrow and there was a white kitten peeking out from just behind his back, between his wrist and his hip.
Buffy walked over, her heels clacking on the stone floor as the empty crypt echoed around her. She stood between his legs and put her hands on his knees, solidly holding his gaze. “Let me see what you remember,” she asked him, her face angled to his, “and we’ll figure this out. You’ll figure this out.”
With a ragged breath, Spike closed his eyes and leant forward, touching their foreheads together as he covered their hands. A moment passed, and then finally his touch felt like the man Buffy knew.
“All right,” he said.
Buffy nodded, and let him spin the world around them.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/537124.html