Title: More Conversations with Dead People
Summary: Immediately post-Chosen. No matter how hard you fight, you can’t destroy the source of all evil.
AN: It’s 12:01, but I am totally counting this as “my day” anyway. No lie, I had to explain that I am participating in a romance-novels-about-Buffy festival and need to borrow your computer, law school colleague! So chalk this one up to straight Buffy love.
And chalk this story up to seasonal_spuffy. This was my very first story in the Spuffy fandom, nervously posted here. I had no idea how important Spuffy, and mostly the people it’s brought me, would be in my life. I’m so happy to be able to keep “More Conversations” going where it came from.
Also, can I extend the maddest of props to Gillo? No, seriously. She gets more props than I can shake a stick at for managing an emergency beta of this chapter with literally no warning. And let me tell you, without her it would really have come to nothing. No scary, no fun. It’s all Gillo, folks. I owe her forever.
In addition Gillo, Queen of All People Basically, I’d like to dedicate this chapter to my fellow WIPP (work-in-progress princesses) kcarolj65 and boschette. We all fell upon hard times at about the same time, so heres hoping this heralds a comeback for the lot of us!
Previously On More Conversations with Dead People…
Sunnydale’s gone and so are a lot of heroes, but someone’s coughed one back up. The First’s around with a new plan, centerpiecing Buffy. Or maybe a half-dead, de-souled Spike, bled dry and remarkably not burnt-to-crisp, is the key to the First’s plot. If said plot is, you know, real. Who’s good? Who’s evil? And did Angel ever send that promised plane to England?
Find out on this week’s episode of More Conversations with Dead People: Now with 100 Percent More Dawn POV!
Wrapping it was kind of stupid. It wasn’t a present, exactly. Did you wrap a peace offering? If you even could declare peace after you’d jumped on someone, sobbing and screaming, and knocked them down and made them bleed. If it was even anything other than hating to see him in Giles’ bloody undershirt when her Spike would never, never have just lay there looking all small and scruffy while everybody gossiped about him.
There it goes again. Weren’t you supposed to stop romanticizing dead people once they weren’t dead any more? Because he hadn’t been right, and maybe she hadn’t but she was closer and… It was hard to get her brain off loop. It wanted to run in little circles screaming “probably evil! probably evil!” even though she knew better, support staff for Team Slayer for years now, hello.
Even if part of her was kind of relieved. Which it wouldn’t be, if she wasn’t at least a little evil. Or maybe just scarred for life, really, and hadn’t she been telling Buffy that for years? But it felt good, really, guilty, good that he was back. He was right. Because Spike last year… It had been like Buffy, right out of the grave. Buffy but, not, you know? But Spike was going to be stuck like that forever, just a little wrong, just a little off. He just wasn’t supposed to be all quiet and chained up in the basement making woe-is-me faces. It made her teeth ache. It made her want to cry, and she was getting a little old for that.
Not that he had exactly been sneaking her cigarettes on the plane. Wouldn’t it figure if Buffy’s blood messed him up?
And it was definitely time to stop this and just give him the stupid shirt. If she could sneak past Buffy. Which, also weird About a million beds, and Buffy was dozing in a big chair in the coven’s study, fingers twitching around the handle of a sword. Sword? Since when did Buffy? Enough stalling.
The door was kind of hard to open but it seemed fair, kind of, to give him a little warning. “Dawn,” he said, kind of ducking his head, which was so not a regular Spike thing. Maybe he wasn’t right after all.
Or maybe he was just waiting for her to say something not about setting him on fire. “It’s even worse than I thought. Embroidery?”
He snorted, picked at the hippie pattern running down the front of the smock he was wearing. “Yeah, well, still better than reeking of ol’ Rupert’s cologne.”
She tossed the bag at his head and he moved fast enough to snatch it, not even wincing really. It was like time elapse. You couldn’t even tell that he’d stumbled up the ramp of a jet half-propped by Buffy like 10 hours ago.
“A shirt.” He raised an eyebrow. “So I don’t have to listen to anybody else twitter about how white is so your color.”
His eyes were too big in his face, all of a sudden, dangerously big because the urge to just kind of start talking until it all came out in a rush because he would know, wouldn’t he, because it was like they were tied or something, the two of them, and he’d know just what it was like to sit around knowing you’d failed Buffy and for special bonus points she was screwed up even more than usual because of it. But she just swallowed and he just stared and it was too quiet until he kind of cleared his throat and drawled “Told ‘em they should have let me on the plane half-naked. Girls deserve a bit of a treat.”
Ok, it was awkward, and her giggle was awkward too, but it was almost like normal. “Good luck getting that one past Buffy.”
“Speaking of which.”
“She’s asleep. Still doing that Xena thing.” Not that this was cause for alarm, or anything. Not like she’d been with her sister long enough to know what Battle-Ready Buffy looked like, and this was it, right down to the rigid shoulders. Who did Buffy think she was kidding, anyway? Sure, she’d sat on the plane not-touching Spike, but she was right up next to him and kept jockeying around for maximum protection angle, and then insisted on quarantining him away from everybody else. And now, asleep in his doorway “protecting” him? She ought to think about protecting herself. Everybody was freaking out, what with the new super-strength, and all of this gossip.
But somewhere along the line she’d lost it, the ability to tell if this was just her sister’s weird way of dealing with half of the people they knew dying in a pit or whether it meant there was something else coming.
Maybe it was just the quiet. You could feel it, a whole year of not talking pressing down on her. Before she’d never had to waste her time pretending everything was all right. Before she would have just spit it out and Spike would give her the 4-1-1 and there’d be a terrible plan that worked, more or less, and that was that. He was looking at her now, a scary shadow of the looks he’d given her that summer.
“Speaking of which.” Might as well bite the bullet. “Are you guys, um…”
“Search me, Nib-“ His hand froze mid-pluck. “Dawn.”
“It’s ok.” But somehow it was even more awkward than before. OK, time for her best Anya impression – and oof, suddenly it wasn’t so funny to think about that anymore because it seemed mean to think of how awkward she was, somehow. Still, inner Anya activate. “So, did you see Faith’s face when Giles told her and Angel to go to the hospital? I mean, I know she’s with Wood now…”
“Thought the bint had better taste.” There was a real edge to his voice, like Riley level rage there, but one look at him told her he wasn’t gonna give juicy backstory anytime soon.
Even Dawson level gossip wasn’t working. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be at all. “Well, maybe I’d better, um…”
“Wouldn’t mind a spot of company.” He was back to picking at his shirt. “Bloody Wiccans don’ have a telly, much less cable.”
“Sure.” The little squashed footrest things that passed for chairs in this place weren’t too comfortable, but she folded into one anyway. Here goes nothing. “I was sort of hoping we could talk. About stuff.”
He stopped fiddling with the top, kinda slid off his footstool and onto the floor. “If it’s that bloody Andrew…”
He was making this way too hard. “You know that’s not it.”
He smoothed a hand over his gel helmet. “Jus don’ know what you want me to say.”
“I don’t really know what to I want to say, either.” God, talking to him was like an out-of-body experience. Things just slipped out of her. “I’m not sorry.” He was sitting straighter now, his face in full I-Don’t-Care mode. “But I know I don’t get it, either. Because there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know.”
He sighed. “Got that right.”
She wasn’t an idiot. Some stuff he didn’t know, some stuff he wouldn’t tell her. And maybe that was kind of the point of Spike, right? Because how could she ever tell him stuff if she knew he would just spill anybody else’s. And, ok, maybe she was rationalizing a little but she missed him. And he’d totally spill the good stuff if she found Giles’ scotch, anyhow.
She let herself slide to the floor beside him. “The girls wanted me to bring you some stuff, but I told them you so wouldn’t read Cosmopolitan.”
His eyes got all warm again – right Spike warm, none of the cold, dead looks he’d been giving them all for a year – and he smirked. “Dunno, Nibblet, never know when a bloke needs 150 new ways to drive himself crazy.”
“Ewwwww, Spike!” A friendly punch, just a touch to his shoulder, and ohmigod this hurt, worse than Glory, worse than anything, running through her and something was pulling and ripping and winding inside, wrapping up like greasy twine. Spike had shot up next to her, rigid, staring at something that she couldn’t see. His mouth was opening like he might scream, like he might something, anything other than the weird mumbling she’d never heard, his voice wasn’t like that and OHMIGOD this hurt. He was pushing back, now, with his legs and a cut must have reopened somewhere because he was bleeding and backing away like the danger was over there and not inside her. Was it her, started this by touching, maybe she could stop it but it hurt to move. Gotta do something, gotta do it. Her hand brushed his shoulder, he jerked and hissed and inside it pulled tighter, like burning, like something was going to snap. She was screaming, when had that started, screaming high and long and bam! The door flew open, Buffy kicked through it, wide-eyed, and whatever it was just… let go. Spike lolled onto the floor but it had come because she touched him and besides, Buffy had already shouldered her aside.
The door slammed open again and Buffy whirled, almost too fast to see. Had she always been holding her sword? But it was just a rumpled-looking Willow and a very, very pissed-off Kennedy. “I felt it, Buffy.” OK, Jedi mind-lock much? Buffy was always big into the stare-don’t-say, but usually Willow was a little more… verbal.
Spike stirred, shook his head slowly. Buffy’s eyes snapped back to him and he flinched. God, those two. You could tell she saw it because her lips were suddenly pressed to nothing, and he saw her seeing it – he was making that haunted face, the I Hurt Buffy face. It had gotten scarier, somehow. Because even though the new official Dawn policy was Not Thinking About It, she couldn’t help but think about it a little, what it must have been like to have him turn, all of a sudden, from a big pile of adoration into a threat.
Not that he was much of one now. He was kinda half-leaned back and looked pinched, like he had earlier. “The First,” Spike muttered. Buffy’s mouth went tighter. “Think it did somethin’ to Dawn.”
Buffy’s eyes were on her now, wide and guilty. It was weird, this feeling that she ought to be pissed off that her sister hadn’t bothered to worry about her until now. But it was kind of refreshing, not to have Buffy breathing down her neck like she might die any minute. Even if maybe, this time, she might’ve. “I just touched him and it was…” There weren’t words for it. Even know her insides were squirming, trying to shake off the feeling. “Something was in there.”
Willow was staring, muttering something, then shook her head. “Sweetie, go get my bag?”
“Which bag?” Kennedy looked calmer now, a little pale.
“The kinda green, beady one?”
Something was going on here. Kennedy was glaring, Willow kinda slumping in on herself. “You know I don’t like to touch that stuff.” She rolled her shoulders, like she was shaking it off. Yeah, because Willow’s sequiny knitting bag? Terrifying, right?
But Willow was smiling again, her sort of nervous half-smile. “Or, I go do my own getting.”
She swept out, and Kennedy went with her. Like they thought nobody would notice they weren’t looking at each other, not even when they jostled their way through the door.
Which left Spike, slumped on the floor with his mouth half-open and Buffy, who’d pushed one of the footstools against the wall and was sitting with the sword clutched in her lap, her eyes darting all over the room, her face grim.
It so wasn’t fair to blame it all on Buffy. But they’d been talking, Dawn and Spike together again, more or less. But as usual, Buffy was the official sponsor of creepy, awkward silence and now there was nothing to do but stare at her shoes and squirm.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/229335.html