See A/N in Chapter 11 for notes on dialogue from series
Poem at end is Love Sonnet LXXIX by Pablo Neruda (I’d pay to hear JM read his sonnets!)
Chapter 12, Called to Life
“Morning.” Buffy looked like she could use another eight hours of sleep, even though her smile indicated she wasn’t begrudging the reason for her state. “Coffee made?”
“In the pot,” Giles pointed to the obvious.
“Did you get your witchy friends all up to speed on Operation Willow?”
“Yes. They will be expecting us in two days’ time. Now that we know what went so wrong with Willow, they will be able to put together a plan that should restore Willow’s sense of self as well as help her channel the remaining magic that was always hers.
“Did Tara decide to take you up on the offer to go with?”
Giles nodded. “She wants to give Willow the chance to prove that she can be trusted once more. Tara is one of the most forgiving creatures I’ve ever met, a pure soul by any definition.” Giles smiled tenderly. “Willow is very fortunate.”
“Yup, for lots of reasons,” Buffy agreed. After hearing the entire story from Spike, Buffy was in a more forgiving frame of mind herself. “If it had been just her own thoughts that caused her to do what she did, I don’t know if I’d ever want to see her again, even if the coven did help her get control.”
“Magic is always something that has a price to pay if you do not follow the natural order and laws.” Giles nodded. He could understand Buffy’s feelings. All these many years past and he had yet to fully forgive Ethan Rayne for his dabbling in the darker aspects of magic, even after they had all been badly burned as youths. Somehow it was harder when you knew it was only the person you loved and their desire for power.
“Consequences,” Buffy added. “Spike says there’s always consequences. He’s right. Consequences equal bad, reward equals good. Willow could have had so many rewards for her talents if she had only been more careful. Maybe it won’t be too late for her though. It’s good of you to take her on.”
“I’m not, actually. Athenea will be working with both the girls; I am merely the go-between.”
“Is Spike still sleeping?”
“Like the dead.” Buffy grinned at her own quip.
“I had hoped to discuss this Rack with him, but no doubt there will be some time before I have to bustle about preparing for the trip to Devon.”
Buffy frowned, remembering the mild argument she had with Spike the night before regarding Rack. Spike was intent on taking the mage out on his own. He blamed him for many of the bad things that had happened since Buffy had returned from heaven. Besides preying upon Willow’s insecurities and desire for power, he had facilitated the dream creature’s existence that had led to Dawn’s broken arm and recurring terror.
“I told him he can’t kill Rack, even if he is sooo asking for it,” Buffy revealed. “Rack is human…barely. Not only is it wrong to kill a human, but Spike’s chip would probably put him out of commission for quite a while. Rack’s not worth that!”
Giles had thought about the situation and decided that there was no recourse for dealing with Rack’s crimes using human justice and that Spike had the right of it when all was said and done. “You may be right.” Giles didn’t let on that he only meant the part about Spike not being the one to do the deed. ‘I’ve made the hard choices before. Ben for one, and he was an innocent for the most part.’
“I have looked into his sect. He belongs to a renegade branch of the Temple of Set. They branched off from the Church of Satan in the Seventies. Seems Rack had aspirations of succeeding the high priest in time and sought to increase his power by tapping into the Old Ones through Willow.” Giles frowned again. “Nasty bugger.”
Buffy laughed. “That’s what Spike called him too.” She felt sorry for her friend having to carry those memories with her once she was healed. So many people had been hurt and so much damage done. Willow would never be the same.
“So they have a Church of Satan and a Temple of Set? Is that like a church for demons and vampires?” Dawn had caught the end of the conversation.
“No,” Giles explained. “The Church of Satan was begun by Anton LeVay and it was more about self-indulgence and flamboyance than actual worship of Satan. Love of self was more the theme. They still exist, though the era when they were rather a pop fad has ended. The Temple of Set was founded when Aquino was a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army and broke from the church. He got recognition for it by the U.S. military as a viable religion. Claims to have spoken to Set himself and used that as the basis of his teaching. In Egyptology, Set is often referred to as the evil god, but that is not exactly correct either. Surely Osiris and Isis have grievances against him, as he was responsible for the death of Osiris, but Set was originally the god of the desert and storms and chaos.” Giles thought again of Ethan and his love of chaos. ‘No doubt he has a connection with this group.’
“TMI for early morning, but thank you for the lecture, Professor Giles,” Buffy teased. “Guess they’ll just have to look for someone else for the priest job, ‘cause Rack’s out of the running.”
“Uh…Buffy?” The voice was so soft and low that they barely heard it. “Can I talk to you?
Alone?” It was Xander and he looked like he had gotten even less sleep than the Slayer.
Buffy grabbed her coffee and motioned toward the back porch. “Okay, but if you plan to lecture me on the one hundred reasons why I shouldn’t be with Spike, you can save your breath.”
They sat side-by-side in uncomfortable silence for a while as Buffy sipped her java. “How did we get here?” he asked plaintively.
“Here as in ‘the meaning of life’ here, or here as in ‘Xander tried to run Buffy’s life and now they aren’t pajama party buddies anymore’ here?” Buffy tried to make it sound lighthearted, but there was bitterness in her tone.
“That last one.”
“Scenic route, long drive and back seat driving…lots of back seat driving.” Buffy was not in the mood for any nonsense from her friends, not any longer. They had all lost that right by the choices they had made along the way.
“I wish you had talked to me about Spike,” he began.
“Well, maybe I would have if you hadn’t given me so many reasons to think you’d be an ass about it. Still wearing the scars from my time with Angel, and I didn’t need you picking at those scabs. Spike’s not Angel. He wasn’t Angelus even back when he was still intent on being evil.” Buffy looked her friend in the eye, searching, reading, trying to decide what was going on in there. “Apples and oranges…only thing in common is that they’re fruit. Same with Spike and Angel.”
“They’re fruits?” Xander looked flustered.
“No, and you know that’s not what I meant. I meant the only thing they have in common is that they are vampires.” Buffy rolled her eyes at Xander’s quick attempt at the funny.
They smiled at each other tentatively.
“Suppose you’re right. I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’m kinda out of practice, but I pulled it off.” Xander had been wracked with guilt ever since Willow had played David Copperfield with Spike. All he had done since was think and he was heartily sick of it. “I was remembering Angelus and putting him in Spike’s place. If Angelus had been the one chipped, I don’t think he would have ever come to us for help. More likely he would have had minions burn us out or bring our bodies for his dinner, like the Master did. He wouldn’t have ever tried to change sides either. I guess I can give Spike the benefit of the doubt.”
Buffy looked at him with such hope in her eyes that it broke his heart a bit that his disapproval had clearly caused her such pain. “I just want you happy and if he’s the guy…well…I’ll be watching him, I have to be honest, but I won’t cause trouble.” He offered his hand as a sign of truce. “I don’t know what I’d do without you and Will. You’re my only close friends, my family.”
“Let’s not find out,” Buffy agreed and drew him into a hug. “I love you. You do know that, right?”
“I love you too–and in entirely appropriate ways, as I’ve had to reassure Anya more than once.” He let out the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding and relaxed for the first time in weeks. “So how’s Will?”
“Subdued. Giles did something to expel that Egyptian hitchhiker and she’s pretty ashamed of a lot of stuff she was doing. On the other hand, I’ve had to threaten Amy with stakage to get her to stay away. That girl is a menace just like her mom was! Think the new high school might want another special cheerleader trophy for the case?” They both chuckled at the memory.
“Amy and Rack, both human, and look at the trouble they caused!” Buffy had a faraway look and then grinned at Xander. “Maybe Spike’s right and some humans deserve to be eaten.”
Xander paled. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Afraid you’d be on the menu?” Buffy teased. “You’re safe, and not just because of the chip. He’d never hurt anyone that matters to me, even if he could.”
“You’re that sure of him?”
“That’s good enough for me then.”
The next morning’s newspaper carried the story of a body that sounded suspiciously like Rack’s being found behind a dumpster in an alley near the Sunnydale police station. Buffy hadn’t seen Spike suffer a headache, so she chose to just believe it was a happy coincidence that the warlock was now history. She never saw the gouges on Giles’ arms that indicated a struggle of some sort.
It was better that way.
Tara had taken Willow by her family home to say a goodbye to her parents and make a plausible excuse for the prolonged trip to England. It was one time that the Rosenbergs’ disconnection came in handy.
Giles was packed and ready. ‘The sooner we sort Willow out, the safer we shall all be.’
“Headed back to the land of tea and brollies now?” Spike was dipping his pancakes in blood and making the Watcher vaguely nauseous. He shuddered at the thought that there would likely be many occasions where he would be required to dine with Spike, and knowing the vampire it would never be a pretty sight.
As if reading the Watcher’s mind, Spike smirked and admitted it. “Gotta get my evil any way I can. ‘Sides, you and the whelp could do with a diet. Just doin’ my duty lookin’ after your best interests.” He took another large, dripping bite and smiled to himself at his success.
“In answer to your question, yes, we are all ready for the trip home. The girls will have a day or so in London before we journey to Devon. I promised to play tour guide, at least where the museums are concerned. I doubt I can stomach another trip to the Tower even in the company of such charming ladies.”
“Buffy’s after me to take her to London, show her about. I tried to explain that her bloody Council would have a welcomin’ party if I try that, but she’s not buying. Won’t be able to put her off forever,” he sighed.
“I don’t plan to inform the Council about your…relationship…if that’s what you are wondering,” Giles reassured the vampire. “I love Buffy too much to expose her to the inevitable response of the Council to your liaison. She deserves accolades from them, not admonishments.”
“They’ll be old news before too long,” came a voice unfamiliar to Giles.
“Bloody hell, warn a bloke, why don’t you?” Spike glared at the small demon in cheap clothing. “Do you have to stand upwind? Tryin’ to have my brekkie here and your stench isn’t helpin’.”
Giles bit back a retort and chose not to be side-tracked. “Just who might you be?”
“Name’s Whistler. Mr. Melanin Challenged here met me in the between place a while ago.”
“I see,” Giles nodded. “I take it you are an emissary of the Powers?”
“You could say that. They don’t know I’m here at the moment.” He looked behind him with a bit of alarm. “At least I hope not.”
“If you’re here to take me back, I’m not goin’,” Spike vowed. His stance brooked no argument.
“Naw, you’re here for the duration. Figured I owed you one’s all. Since I got the wrong vamp involved and messed up the Slayer–I feel really bad about that, by the way. Besides, you’re here for a hero’s reward, remember?”
“I doubt Spike is a worthy reward for Buffy,” Giles opined.
“Buffy’s not the one getting the reward; this fashion reject’s the hero getting rewarded.”
“You’re a fine one to give critique on my clothes,” Spike huffed.
“I fail to understand how Spike is worthy of any reward, other than a sharp piece of wood through the heart.”
“That’s why I’m here. Slayer doesn’t need her Watcher being full of suspicion and disapproval. You not trusting Spike led to major bad before. Don’t want that happening again when that Slayer’s kid shows up. Gotta keep what I’m gonna tell you under your hat though.” Whistler nodded towards a squirming and vaguely embarrassed looking Spike. “He’s already changed things enough that not much is likely to go down like it did the first time, but some could still come back to bite him in the ass. Figure they don’t need you making matters worse.”
Giles was ashen. He couldn’t even look Spike in the eye. If what he had just been told were true, it went against everything he believed possible about vampires. To think the annoying berk and perpetual thorn in his side had voluntarily dusted in order to save Buffy and close the Hellmouth was astonishing. That he later fought in another apocalypse trying to make the outcome something other than mere slaughter and dusted yet again was beyond belief. Still, this Whistler was who he said he was. Giles had run a check using the most reliable magic to be certain.
“There’s more. You’re gonna find out anyway in time, first time she gets hurt bad enough to die.”
Spike growled lowly at that thought. “Not happenin’, not on my watch.”
“Relax, Big Bad. It’s not happenin’ at all. Little side-effect of your witch friend’s ritual gone wrong. Seems when she called the warrior of the people that pretty well focused the Slayer essence into Buffy. She’s it. End of the line. No more Potentials. Same with the jailbird. Your Council is already having kittens over that, even though they don’t know why it’s happened.”
“Good Lord!” Giles was horrified. “That cannot be permitted! There must be a way to put things right.”
“Already done. There’s no need for any more Slayers, ‘cause the one you’ve got has no expiration date.”
“Just what does that mean?”
“That means Buffy’s immortal. No Achilles’ heel either. Your Council are already unnecessary baggage, even if they don’t know it yet. Just a matter of time before the Slayer gives them all a nice retirement party and keeps just a few to help with research and the like.”
Giles blinked rapidly. “Buffy is going to live forever?”
“’Til the real apocalypse, yeah.”
Giles turned to Spike. “And you knew this?”
Spike was looking gobsmacked. “First I’ve heard of it. Don’t know how she’s gonna take it. Always goin’ on about wantin’ to be ‘normal’ and not wantin’ to be the Chosen One. Now she’s stuck.” Spike looked down at the table, a small smile creeping across his lips, “Course, I’m not complainin’. Never would’ve turned her, but wasn’t lookin’ forward to watchin’ her age and die.”
“You want to tell her or should I?” Giles asked.
“Why not let him?” Spike quirked his head in Whistler’s direction.
“HEY! Not me! Last time I had news for the Slayer, she threatened to pull out my ribcage to wear as a hat.”
“I wouldn’t worry, girl’s got a better sense of fashion nowdays,” Spike quipped. “Think you’d better let her know before your bosses find out you’ve been down here spillin’ my beans all over.”
“About those beans,” Giles began. He wanted a first-hand account of the wild story Whistler had told about the next couple of years as they had played out before.
Thankfully for Spike’s sake, Whistler had left out the whole soul getting. Giles would be too inclined to demand a replay of that. Maybe one day perhaps, when Angel finally had his Shanshu, Spike would tell the old bugger if he was still around…or maybe not. He’d let Buffy decide about the soul when it was time. For now she would be his guiding light through the dark night of his soul.
They lay in bed limbs tangled and bodies replete. “Think Willow will come back when she’s all better or stay in England?”
“Don’t know. Likely depends on the little girlfriend. Got a feeling where one goes the other will always follow.”
“I know that feeling.” Buffy snuggled closer and kissed a trail up the column of his neck to his ear causing him to giggle in an unmanly way as her tongue began to play there.
“So you’re not pissed that Red put all of it on you forever?”
“If I was alone I might be pissed, but I’ve got you, so how bad can it get?”
Her fingers were making a delightful mess of his curls as her kisses became more focused instead of teasing. She drew back and leveled a grin at him. “I never knew vampires got goosebumps! Hmm…was it this?” She licked his left nipple and blew on it for good measure. “Or this?” Her attention then turned to running fingers softly on his groin bringing on deep shudders of pleasure that his moans gave voice to.
“You’re looking for more lack of sleep, missy, if you keep this up,” Spike warned.
“Oh, I’m thinking keeping things up,” she let her hand close round his cock to emphasize her point, “is of the good. The very, very good.”
Things did ‘keep up’ well until the sun was making itself known and Spike was feeling the lure of vampiric sleep. With his drowsy Slayer in his arms, surrounding him with her warmth, he was more than ready to let Morpheus sweep him away. He was glad neither of them had any pressing need to leave the bed. With the house empty and Dawn at school, they could sleep in all day if they wished. He was in heaven, his heaven, and that would ever be Buffy.
“Spike?” Buffy’s voice was a whisper as she fought off yawns. “Remember when I told you ‘I love you’ for the first time?”
“Never forget it, love. Best moment in my existence.”
“You recited a poem to me,” she said dreamily. “Got any more?”
Spike smiled. “Needin’ a bit of a bedtime tale then?”
“I love to hear your voice. You make poetry come alive. It’s not like just reading them.”
His inner William wept in joy. “Think I can come up with one that fits.”
“By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two
together in their sleep will defeat the darkness
like a double drum in the forest, pounding
against the thick wall of wet leaves.
Night travel: black flame of sleep
that snips the threads of the earth’s grapes,
punctual as a headlong train that would haul
shadows and cold rocks, endlessly.
Because of this, Love, tie me to a purer motion,
to the constancy that beats in your chest
with the wings of a swan underwater,
so that our sleep might answer all the sky’s
starry questions with a single key,
with a single door the shadows had closed.”
He kissed her closed eyes and smiled gently at his reward, now safe and happy in his arms. They would be defeating the darkness together now, the vampire and his Slayer. She had given life where none had been in a century. He had given her a reason to embrace it. Legends would be written of them, but THIS, this peace, that was theirs alone.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/263171.html