Only one more to go after this…
He hurt. Every bloody cell in his very old body was crushed beyond repair thanks to one overly diligent hell bitch. He felt he would never stop spitting up blood despite the impact of her fists quitting hours ago. The blood good ol’ Rupes had been feeding him had turned sour in his gut and maybe that’s what gave Spike that tinny taste in his mouth. Hard to tell as his lips were torn and dry. He was trying not to lick them—trying not to imagine himself lying quite still on his bier in his nice uncomfy crypt. He needed to recuperate from being the bitch’s pin cushion—shuddering at the psychological memory of her filthy fake nails poking through his guts—instead of traipsing through a desert without any kind of map.
Ordinarily he’d whiff the air and pick up the Slayer’s scent—even in the great beyond of sandy uselessness—but it being broken was putting a bit of dampener on that option. As much as he thought he loved the bint, he wasn’t about to court extra pain on her behalf. He was hard pressed even thinking of Buffy past his goal of finding her. It was difficult to shift his focus from the ribs scratching together, the burn in his gut and the mangle of flesh and bone that he guessed was his face. Well, if nothing else, now he knew it didn’t pay to poke fun at a bint’s hairdo—or the size and balance of her ass.
He chuckled and got a glare from the cat in response. “Oh, bugger off,” he said. The cougar growled in warning and Spike grinned as best he could past the scabs breaking open on his lips.
His boot struck a pebble and down he went, falling hard into the soft sand. Spike lay there for a while, wondering how he was going to get up when the call of a good, long sleep was so strong, but once again the cat growled before it padded its way to Spike and started licking his face and nuzzling his broken ribs.
A roar of agony burst from within and Spike launched upright, his shaking finger waving at the animal. “You bloody did that on purpose,” he accused, tears of pain in his eyes. He could have sworn the bastard grinned, eyes glinting with humour in the moonlight. Spike felt a nasty urge to rip its head from those powerful shoulders, but he wasn’t sure if the chip would fire or not. Especially as the animal was a vessel of the Powers That Fuck Everything Up.
“Do that again and I’ll see if your mystical blood might not repair a thing or two,” he promised melodramatically, and quivered a little at the glare the animal aimed at him. The cat seemed to consider him no threat, however, and with what Spike assumed passed for a grin, it turned its sleek yet lethal body back the way it had been heading and picked up the pace.
Spike moaned, stumbling slowly behind it while gently tugging at his hair. He’d pull harder except for it felt loose and he was terrified he’d end up with bald patches. He was far too fine to risk losing his locks over some wanker of a puss that didn’t know he was a little under the weather and probably far from being up to par for a recovery mission.
He’d swear at Giles if he didn’t know that, under it all, it was urgent he found Buffy and brought her back to the warm bosom of her watcher and friends.
Only, he had other bosoms on his mind as soon as the old fashioned word tumbled through his head. Tits. The size of ripe plums and juicy enough in his imagination to make his bruised mouth water.
The cat growled in disgust, its great lumbering frame stalling for a second to stare him down until Spike got the point.
“Right. No lurid thoughts about your precious Chosen One then. I’ll just think about the bloody Queen then, shall I? Not like I need anything enticing at all to make me forget about the pain.” Spike knew he was whining and was a little ashamed of himself, not to mention impressed as hell the cat could read his thoughts. Still, probably didn’t do to think of the Slayer naked and servicing his needs when he was out in the middle of nowhere trying to find her before she died.
As flippant as he’d meant that phrase, it suddenly hit him hard in the gut. Spike may have been many things—a ruthless vampire that killed women and children indiscriminately, a bloke who enjoyed a good game of pool as much as turning and twisting the Scooby’s minds until they snapped—but the one thing he wasn’t, was stupid.
He loved Buffy. It might have been difficult for him to categorise that love, to explain it to himself or to her—and not a hope in hell did he have in making anyone else understand it—but it was enough for him to be certain what he felt was real. He wasn’t just obsessed. Sure, he’d done everything he could think of to ingratiate himself into her life—helping at every opportunity, babysitting at every turn—but despite views to the contrary, it wasn’t solely to get into her pants. Not that he’d say no if that lucky stroke was ever offered. He knew that his feelings were genuine enough that if Buffy wasn’t around anymore—if he failed to find her in time and she died in this sandy hell hole, he’d be gutted in a way he’d never been before. Not even being dumped by Dru would come close to the coldness that already crept into his dead heart at such morbid possibilities. Never having the Slayer punch him in the nose again, or hearing her whiny, over-confident puns as she did her job and saved all the unknowing idiots of the world from his kind, quite measured up against the degree of pain he was wise enough to expect should anything happen to the shortass blonde that had captured his heart good and proper.
Still, Spike could feel himself wilting. He’d mended a bit with the blood Rupert had pumped into him but it wasn’t enough to do the job a good old-fashioned rest would have done. A little respite from the do-gooder mentality Buffy’s friends were slowly instilling in him with their brave devotion to their leader was very much in order.
Jesus Christ, he was feeling revoltingly poetic all of a sudden, reminding himself too much of the git he’d fought himself to bury as deep into his missing soul as he could. There was no place in this desert for William. The prat wouldn’t have had the first clue how to find Buffy—how to save her even if he did.
“You won’t mind if I take a load off, yeah?” He didn’t wait for the beast’s consent, spying the first convenient boulder and parking his arse on it.
Fuck he ached. From the tips of his hair to his littlest toenail. That Glory bitch had worked him over like no other before her. Her fists had felt like buildings smashing into his face, her finger a burning lance as it gored into his belly and searched him for something he knew wasn’t there.
He was all too aware the punishment had been completely voluntary on his behalf. Sure, the hellbitch knew he wasn’t her bleeding key. She was a vicious, cruel mistress of the world she’d been banished from, and Spike knew from experience that that kind of background was hard to let go of. Was bloody impressed if the truth be told. Still, he knew who the key was and he’d have saved himself several worlds of pain if he’d been open with her and handed |Dawn over on a silver platter.
Except, he couldn’t.
Months ago he’d have ratted on the Scoobies without a second’s thought. Now, though, he was in love with the one woman in the world who’d never love him back. Handing Dawn over would have killed her and while that fate lay ahead of Buffy some day, be damned if Spike was going to help it along.
Sitting might not have been the best idea, Spike thought as his head throbbed so hard he thought it was going to split down the middle. The Power’s guide sat at his side, a little closer than Spike should have been comfortable with, and seemed to be waiting patiently for him to gather the strength to haul himself once again to his feet. Weakness lived in his veins, however, and before Spike could infuse enough will into his bones, his eyes fluttered shut. Sleep was his enemy, but it was hard to fight what his body craved so badly. Hard to resist when deep down Spike knew it was what he needed to do in order to find Buffy.
The flames warmed his face, waking Spike with a jolt and all too familiar fear of being turned to dust. Being flammable didn’t have any perks whatsoever when he was left defenceless in the desert. Giles had cast him off into the wild blue yonder without so much as a blanket to stave off the beginnings of the sun. Not that it would have saved his skin for longer than a minute. The sun showed no mercy when it exposed a vamp—could get under almost anything and turn him to ash given long enough.
His eyes slowly adjusted to the glare of the biggest bonfire he’d seen since possibly his last days in Prague—the ones where he’d barely escaped with his and Dru’s existence intact. He was sure there should have been even more heat behind the flames and while he sat and wondered about singed limbs and smoky hair, an image began to materialise and he gasped in pained recognition.
His face softened and his eyes teared up in wonder, his lips falling slack around a silent cry for forgiveness. She smiled at him, the way she always had and he knew without being told that she’d always forgive him, no matter what evil he committed in the world.
“I understand, William.” The gentle smile was one she’d bestowed upon him throughout his human life; it was the smile of a mother who could do nothing but love the insipid sop she’d borne to the world—no matter how pathetic his contemporaries had thought him.
Weariness exhausted him, but still an urgent need to hold his mother once again in his arms overwhelmed him and he stumbled to his feet, one arm outstretched for her while his boots struggled to find traction in the sand.
Her own hand was held up to hold him at bay, to implore him to step no closer to the flames.
“This fire might indeed be symbolic, William, but it will still turn you to ash. The Powers are far less merciful than I, my sweet.” There was no judgment showing in her eyes and Spike shook with the wonder of it.
“Why?” he asked, his voice cracking in a way unseemly for an evil creature of the night. “Why are you here?”
Her love for him shone in every part of her face: the gentle turn of her lips, the rosy blush to her cheeks, the soft light of acceptance that sparkled in her eyes. Spike wasn’t sure he cared why she’d appeared to him, pinching himself belatedly and howling when the pain added to his woes. He wasn’t dreaming. His mother really was standing behind the blaze conjured up by the Powers, showing him the love and devotion he’d only ever received when he was William; when he was her son.
“Because you’ve taken your first steps and this night will ensure you stay firmly on that path.” Her voice cracked with emotion, but rather than sadness, all Spike could see was pride. In him. He was sure he was reading her all wrong; none of it made a lick of sense. There was nothing about him that should have inspired such parental approval.
Puzzled, he watched his mother closely as he tried to nut out this confusing declaration in his head. After what felt like hours he admitted to himself he was coming up with absolutely nothing to explain this elaborate hallucination, and shrugged, an embarrassed grin tickling at his lips.
“You got me,” he declared. “If I’m supposed to walk some particular path to find Buffy, one of your almighty poofs up there will have to light it up like the Yellow Brick Road or I’m not sure I’ll find it.”
“William!” The reproving tone did everything to make him sheepish, regretting at once his use of Spike-speak when conversing with his mother. She relaxed, and once again that look of indulgence flourished where there should have been disgust and hatred. “Your journey is one of discovery. We cannot force you upon it, but we can enlighten you of the consequences should you choose not to follow it.”
He had no time to panic in the split second his mother stood before him and then disappeared as visions of events he’d never seen—but had heard of some—battered his senses.
The ugly mug of his great, great, great grandsire—the Master—as the sodding short-sighted nit sank his diseased fangs into Buffy’s throat and left her to drown in a puddle. Spike’s body froze, despite knowing old batface was dead and little more than scattered salts of the earth.
Buffy, stabbed with her own stake as the Eighties reject vamp made off with a spectacular story to tell. Spike felt the pain this time like he had the first, though not with a searing zap to his head. This time it felt like an ice cold lance to his heart. The thing may not beat but it felt well enough. Felt love for the Slayer, as much as he wished it didn’t.
And then calamities he’d never known made a private viewing in his head, warning him of future hurts the past couldn’t hope to surpass.
A brave, stupid swan dive off a tower built by mentally challenged followers of Glory; it left Buffy a mangled corpse amongst the building materials left scattered about the ground. A cry of horror tore from Spike’s throat. He collapsed to his knees, the scenes of death and near death overwhelming his senses, his body suffering every crushing loss as if it were happening right in front of him. As if he had the ability to prevent it all, but for some completely cracked reason, chose not to.
And, impossibly, when he’d felt like he’d lost it all, she was back, broken and in pain, but alive. His first relieved gasp died in his throat as the horror continued and Buffy was attacked—humiliated in her bathroom—and he was the cause. Wounded, Spike sobbed, the pain of his own evil attacking him internally and leaving him gasping in anguish as he reconciled his love to this cowardly act of force.
And then a gun in the daylight—a place he couldn’t have saved her even if he’d wanted to. Not against a human—even if that human was evil and deranged on levels Spike would once have recognised and appreciated, if not rewarded.
“Stop,” he screamed, the pain of these revelations breaking him to the ground. “Bloody stop.” His voice broke and against his cracked lips he could taste the bitter tears of his loss.
Anne, his mother, stepped forward, sympathy and knowledge sweeping over him from eyes that matched his own.
“You love her.” It wasn’t a question and Spike was grateful he wasn’t really required to answer. He nodded, unable to tear his gaze from her, desperate to be offered a way to stop these events from ever taking place, for a world without Buffy, he discovered, was a world where he didn’t wish to live.
Eventually the silence was too much and Spike pleaded for the answers. “What can I do?”
He felt her loving touch on his cheek and closed his eyes, even while he knew she was on the wrong side of the fire to touch him for real.
“You’ll know, William. Love is your gift.”
And then she was gone, leaving Spike to muddle through the horrific thought that occurred to him as her words settled in his head.
Buffy didn’t see his love as a gift; but she would his soul.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/358848.html