Summary: On a quiet, moonlit night, Spike and the Scoobies bury their beloved Slayer. Post “The Gift” Rated: G
Author’s Notes: Although the Scoobies are involved here, this is really a fic about Spike’s feelings for Buffy and how he copes with laying her to rest. The poetry is excerpted from “The Daydream” by Tennyson, published in 1842. If anyone knows their Victorian poetry, it’s Spike.
Disclaimer: Nope. I don’t own Buffy, Spike, or any of the other characters in this story. Everything belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and whoever else has a legal right to it.
The night was calm and still; the air heavy with an oppressive weight that had nothing to do with the hot, spring evening. They stood in a semicircle, around the open casket, staring down at it in the moonlight. Willow, Xander, Tara, Dawn, Anya, Giles and Spike; the little clearing in the woods providing the perfect place for their last, final goodbye to the woman they all loved so dearly that words failed them.
She looked so peaceful, so serene, as Spike stared down at her in her casket, his eyes blurred by unshed tears. In death, she had found a peace that she had never known in life. As much as he missed her, as much as he would spend the rest of his days missing her, he knew she was safe now; safe and happy and at rest.
There had been no proper funeral, no wake, no church service, not even a small obituary in the local newspaper. There couldn’t be. Buffy’s death had to remain a secret at all costs. And so, her friends had done their best to give her a proper goodbye. Still, she deserved more, better. They all knew it. But they had done the best they could.
Giles had arranged for the casket and the headstone. Xander and Spike had scouted the location and had spent the better half of the previous night digging the grave. They had worked silently, neither one ever acknowledging what they were there for. When they had found the right spot, they had both known it instinctively, and had immediately set to work, channeling all their rage and frustration into the rhythmic cadence of their shovels hitting dirt. Now the grave stood empty, just waiting for Buffy’s casket to be lowered inside. A moment they were all putting off for as long as they could.
Dawn stood beside Spike. She was shivering, even though the night was uncomfortably warm. Spike wanted to pull her close, to comfort her, to hold her, to connect with the person who was closer to Buffy than anyone else ever had been. But he couldn’t. He knew Dawn was trying to be strong, trying to prove to herself that it was okay, that she was going to make it through this on her own. She would come to him for comfort in her own time, he knew. And when she did, he’d be right there waiting.
The silence drew on as the mourners all gazed at Buffy, each one trying to say goodbye in their own silent way. Dawn inhaled a shaky sigh, her ragged breath betraying the tears she was silently crying. “Isn’t anyone going to say anything? Shouldn’t someone say something?”
Spike tensed. He didn’t want anyone to speak. He didn’t want to hear Buffy’s friends praise her and offer platitudes about her being in a better place. He knew she was in a better place. Anything beat this godforsaken world. He just didn’t think he could bear to hear the words, because nothing that anyone could ever say, could ever do Buffy justice. They could eulogize her all night and all day, and not one of them would ever come close to capturing what it was that made Buffy so precious.
“Xander? Willow? Say something, please,” Dawn pleaded, her voice heavy with tears.
Xander stepped forward, breaking the chain of mourners and moving closer to the casket. He didn’t look at Dawn, he didn’t look at anyone but Buffy, lying silently beneath him. “I don’t . . . I don’t know what to say. If it hadn’t been for Buffy, I’d still be just some loser making inappropriate jokes and trying to coast my way through life. But Buffy . . . Buffy made me a hero. She made us all heroes. She . . .” A sob caught in the back of Xander’s throat, along with whatever words he had been about to say. He took a moment to compose himself, before managing a simple, “Goodbye Buff,” and stepping back into the semicircle.
Another long silence followed. Finally, Willow stepped forward. She looked surprisingly composed, but Spike knew it was just a front. He knew she was being torn apart inside.
“No matter how many times we’ve done this,” Willow began, “no matter how many people we’ve said goodbye to over the years, this . . . this is different. There is no one like Buffy. And there never will be again.” Willow looked up, her eyes scanning the small group standing around her. “She’s changed each and every one of us, for the better. And our lives will never be the same without her. I don’t . . . I don’t know how we’ll get through this, but we will. Because it’s what Buffy would have wanted, for us to remember her fondly, without tears,” Willow forced an optimistic smile, “and to go on fighting the good fight. That’s all what she would have wanted.” Willow’s smile crumbled as she was overcome by emotion. Tara rushed forward and embraced her, pulling her close, and drawing her back into the semicircle.
Spike’s insides tensed and he tried not to lose his temper. What Buffy really would have wanted was to still be alive. To be there with them fighting, saving the world. He suddenly felt the urge to run away, to disappear into the night and work out his rage and frustration on some unsuspecting demon. He couldn’t do the sedate mourner thing for much longer, couldn’t control the emotions inside of him. He just wanted for it to be over, but he knew, once that casket closed, once Buffy was in the ground, he’d never see her again, and he just couldn’t pull himself away. Not yet.
Spike heard a quiet whisper beside him. It was Dawn.
He turned his head to look down at her. She was staring up at him with sorrowful brown eyes, swimming behind pools of tears. Bloody hell. He was supposed to say something, wasn’t he? He could barely keep the tears from coming, much less speak, and yet Dawn was looking up at him in a way that tore at his unbeating heart. She needed him to say something. Needed him to express how he was feeling so that she could begin to heal. He didn’t have the faintest idea what to say. Words failed him.
Spike shook his head, trying to make her understand that he couldn’t do it, couldn’t speak. Dawn’s eyes clouded with what he knew was disappointment, a feeling of betrayal. She quickly looked away and began sobbing in earnest.
Spike rubbed his palms on his jeans. He was sweating. He was a vampire, he wasn’t supposed to sweat, and yet he was. His whole body felt surprisingly mortal. He felt more alive than he ever had in his undead life. He was so overcome with emotion that every nerve in his body was betraying him, every inch of flesh and muscle trembling uncontrollably. Without thinking, he stepped forward, his eyes moving from Dawn to Buffy.
Spike’s throat instantly closed as he stared down at her, his heart seizing painfully in his chest. What could he say? What words could ever express how he felt for her? There were none. He couldn’t even try.
Instead, his glassy eyes fixated on her still, silent beauty. On the air of peacefulness surrounding the most beautiful and courageous woman he had ever known. Without a thought, the words poured from his lips. A long forgotten verse he had known in life.
She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
In palace chambers far apart.
The fragrant tresses are not stirr’d
That lie upon her charmed heart.
She sleeps: on either hand upswells
The gold-fringed pillow lightly pressed:
She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
A perfect form in perfect rest.
By the time the final words passed his lips, Spike’s tears flowed freely, streaming down his cheeks. He swiped them away with the back of his hand, trying desperately to stop his body from shaking. He took one last look at Buffy before rejoining the semicircle. He couldn’t look at her again. He just stared at the grass waiting for it to all be over.
More silence followed. Finally, he heard Giles clear his throat beside him. Without moving forward, Giles began, “You all know that Buffy was like a daughter to me. It is generally a Watcher’s fate, after all, to outlive his Slayer, but I’d always hoped… I’d always thought, Buffy would be the exception. I was so proud of her. More than any of you will ever know. I… loved her deeply, and she will always be a daughter to me.”
Once again, silence gripped the night. There was not even a breeze among the trees to break the stillness. Finally, Dawn stepped forward. Spike watched as she looked down at her sister, making sure not to glance at Buffy himself. He had said his goodbye, he couldn’t do it again.
Dawn looked down at her sister, her expression pained, her body trembling. Five softly whispered words escaped her lips. “Goodbye Buffy. I love you.”
Dawn reached forward and lowered the lid on the casket, closing them out of Buffy’s solitary world once and for all. A small gasp of air escaped into the night as each and every last one of them realized that it was over, Buffy was gone, and she would never be coming back.
Willow and Tara came forward, wrapping their arms around Dawn and leading her toward the edge of the clearing. There was work to be done. Xander and Spike had to lower the heavy casket into the ground and then begin the painful, arduous task of filling up the grave. It was going to be a long, painful night.
Spike stared down at the closed casket as the Scoobies said their goodbyes to one another. He didn’t even want to touch it, much less bury it, but it was only fitting, after all. Buffy had taken his heart with her to her grave. It was only right that he should be the one to bury it in the ground himself. He would never love again. Not the way he had loved Buffy. He would take care of Dawn, show her all the love and affection a big brother could, but he would never open his heart to anyone again, not like he had with Buffy. There wasn’t enough of it left to give.
Slowly, the area around him cleared, and before he knew it, Spike found himself standing alone with Xander. Spike looked up at the boy, the boy who had known Buffy in a way he never had, the boy who had been Buffy’s friend – not her stalker, not a convenient ally – but her friend. The jealousy rose like bile in the back of Spike’s throat, but he forced himself to push it down. Buffy had given him more than he had ever deserved. So what if she had never called him friend? She had trusted him. She had accepted him. She had treated him like a man. That was more than he could ever have asked for.
Xander nodded silently at Spike, and Spike returned the gesture. Without speech, they went to work, putting aside their differences and laying to rest the woman who had changed them both forever.
As Spike laid his hands on the casket, his body convulsed involuntarily and it took all of his strength to steady his trembling limbs. He did most of the work of lowering the heavy box into the ground, his vampire strength a godsend. Once the box was lowered, they began shoveling; that first, ominous thud of dirt against casket sending a tremor through Spike’s entire body.
His mind instantly shut itself off and he began working mechanically, refusing to acknowledge what he was actually doing. If he let himself dwell on the truth, he’d simply collapse beneath the weight of it, and throw himself onto the casket, desperate to be buried with her. No. Instead, he let the rhythmic sound of the falling dirt lull his weary brain into a stupor, as he slowly, methodically, laid to rest the woman he loved.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/342773.html