Rating: Very Safe
It wasn’t how she thought she would spend her latest might-be-her-last-night–on-earth. Sitting on a cot in a dimly lit basement next to Spike and a six pack of once-cold beer. Ever the gentleman, he’d nabbed most of the beer but obligingly given her all of the pillows.
She’d nursed her single bottle for the past two hours, and still had more than half of it left.
“Tell me”, she asked. “When you think back about everything that happened this year, do you regret anything?”
Spike took the time to think about it. “Biting Andrew, I guess.” he finally answered. “Now he thinks we’re spiritually bonded for eternity.”
“For real,” she laughed. “Although, I do think the two of you make an adorable couple.”
“No point in regretting things,” he said. “If you don’t like what happened, you just remember that, and do it different next time round.”
“Spike, remember that day when we were engaged, back when Willow did that spell.”
“Uh…yeah,” he said absently, as though he’d never thought of it again until this very moment. He sucked at pretending.
She settled herself a little more comfortably on the cushions. “Remember, after we had the argument about where to hold the ceremony, you wrote me this poem.” It was dark in the basement, but not dark enough to miss the look of annoyance on his face when she pulled the small piece of paper from her pocket and unfolded it. It had been written on the back of one of Giles’s utility bills.
“Christ,” said Spike. “You promised you were going to burn that, you told me you’d burned that. You told me you’d bloody photocopied it so you could burn it five bloody times.”
“I was going to,” she insisted. “I even bought a can of lighter fluid. But I’d put it in my jewelry box and when I took it out and looked at it and I realized that it was the only poem anyone had ever written for me, so I thought I’d keep it until I got another and then I’d be able to burn it.” She let out a deep breath. “But no-one else ever wrote me one, so I had to keep it.”
She sat up on the cot and held the paper out in the dim light. “Hey, why is that?” she asked. “Why don’t I have a box full of poems from a dozen ardent admirers, all immortalizing my ethereal beauty and uncanny ability to wield sharp, pointed weapons?”
“Ah, but you’re a very hard woman to write about,” he said. “There’s not much that rhymes with Buffy.”
“Well,” she said as she traced her fingers over the lines. “It can’t be that hard. You used toughie, and un-stuffy. And rhymed Slayer with mutilator.”
“It was one of my better works,” he admitted. “It does flow nicely.”
“I should have it carved on my tombstone,” she said. “I mean, my next tombstone.”
Unconscious adult male (Caucasian) covered in blood, multiple wounds, none life-threatning (sic). Found in middle of Riot area, behind old Hyperion Hotel. No ID. Had sword, and axe.
At the beginning of time, which for him was not so long ago, the hospital people were dutifully ambiguous and open minded in their diagnosis. The overworked doctors made thoughtful suggestions such as Possible Permanent Memory Loss resulting from Post Traumatic Stress following Localized Urban Altercation, while the police officer who’d tripped over him in the alley got right to the point and scrawled Hit Head and Got Amnesia across the bottom of the file.
He was found with multiple weapons in his hand and upon his person, and the police took special note of this. Not that a horde of personal weapons were unusual in LA, even out of riot season, but the classic trend was towards semi-automatics and machine guns, not broadswords and axes.
He knew his first name, but little else. He didn’t know his last name, although that was not much of a handicap in L.A. He spoke English with a vaguely Californian accent, and knew how to ride a motorcycle, use a remote control, and was left-handed He did not have driver’s license, or passport, or any form of government approved ID. He had perfect teeth, with no cavities or traceable dental work.
He had come into the world wearing a black leather and denim ensemble which was now folded up neatly and hidden at the back of the only closet in his tiny studio apartment. His meager possessions included a half-empty lighter, and a crumpled bar napkin on which a short poem had been penned in a shaky script. The feminine name Cecily had also been inscribed on the napkin, and underlined twice.
The doctors and police and Latisha, his case-worker from the Temporary Relocation Center, had been as helpful as they could be in the circumstances, and were relieved that he didn’t pester them with demands to find out who he was. It gave him a headache, so he didn’t like to think about the past very much, and that was fine with them since the riot clean-up was keeping them pretty busy.
Latisha, who went out of her way to help clients who didn’t pester her, pulled some strings and got him a job in a bar very close to the alley in which he’d been found. Bars were the one legitimate local industry that had not only survived the riot but actually prospered.
He seemed to have a knack for tending bar, although he sometimes mixed drinks randomly and gave them made up names. When he left work he always grabbed an extra handful of bar napkins so he could inscribe more of them to the unknown Cecily.
Cecily was an impossible name to work with, and he was forced to venture into modern, non-rhyming verse.
He didn’t do very much apart from going to his job in the bar and then right back to his apartment, except on Sundays when he sometimes went to the Library.
That’s when he saw the blond woman again, and this time she spoke to him.
She’d been around for a few days, lurking in the background and following him down the street, but she’d never talked to him before. This time she stood in front of him, called him by the wrong name and said some very strange things. At first she seemed contented to be talking to him, but after a minute of two of him not replying and trying to edge away, her voice became tight and sharp.
She continued to ask a lot of demanding questions to which he did not know the answers.
She seemed to know who he was, and he considered the ramifications of this for a moment, but then he felt the sharp prickling of the dense grey fog that always settled in his head every time he thought about What Had Come Before.
He tried to leave.
She didn’t like him leaving, and in a startling turn of events she actually hit him in the stomach. Not a punch, more of a sharp poke, really, but enough to make him go “Ow!”, and back away in indignation. That’s when she burst into tears and tried to hug him.
He escaped down into the subway and went home. It was eleven stops to his station, and every time the door slid open he held his breath in case she had somehow raced ahead to overtake him.
The next day he saw her ducking behind a soda display two aisles over at the E-Z-Mart. Hernando, the manager, refused to call the police, since she was very small and didn’t seem to be armed. I theenk she likes you, Hernando insisted, and merely shrugged his shoulders when Will explained about her hitting him in the stomach.
He felt he had no other option but to leave the store when the grey fog seemed to ease for a just a moment and a strange awareness crashed into his mind. He stopped as suddenly as if he had walked into a brick wall, then turned back and rushed over to her, holding his grocery bag in front of him for protection. It had cans in it.
She looked very, very happy that he’d come over to her, and when she smiled he realized she was actually quite pretty. He felt a thrum from somewhere deep inside when she held out her hand to him, and after a moment of hesitation he wrapped his fingers around hers and squeezed.
“Spike,” she said, “do you remember me now?”
“Are you Cecily?” he asked breathlessly. “Do I love you?”
Her face pinched up in annoyance and she took her hand back as though she’d been slapped. “No, to the first” she answered. “And not anymore, it seems. What’s with that, anyway? ”
“Oh.” he said, “Never mind then.” And he left her standing alone by the Coke cooler.
“Who’s Cecily?” he heard her ask. “And what has she got that I don’t?”
He didn’t look back when he left, but as he walked out of the store he stole a quick glance at her reflection in the window.
She had her hands on her hips, and she looked like she had a plan.
He wondered what her name was, he really should have thought to ask her, but then the grey fog came rushing back and he got another one of those damn blinding headaches that practically forced him to his knees.
“Really, I don’t see why you can’t spend the afternoon with Buffy.” Giles complained. “You live there, after all. Why aren’t you tormenting her instead of me?”
Some things in life were constant no matter what tricks the Universe played, even if The Universe had no mercy and a wicked sense of humor. The last three weeks had certainly been proof of that.
He still didn’t like Spike/Will/William/Whatever-name-he-was-using-this-week. Giles had considered forcing him wear a name-tag so the rest of them didn’t have to speculate based on current hair-style or shirt colour.
But rules were rules. As long as the living, breathing intruder offered no physical or psychic threat, and was at present curled up harmlessly in the only truly comfortable chair in the living room, said intruder could not be throttled. Even if he deserved it utterly. He’d found the expensive bottle of scotch that Giles had thought had been carefully hidden.
Spike didn’t even bother to take his eyes off the telly. “Uh…can’t. It’s bloody horrible, Willow’s there,” he said. “And Dawn, and Willow’s new bird, and a pile of girly Slayers, and I was hiding in the kitchen when I heard them talking about me, so I escaped out the back door.” He put the bottle of scotch on the table and reached for the television remote. “I’ll just watch the game in peace, and then I’ll be gone. Got any chocolate biscuits?”
“Could you be gone a little sooner, perhaps? Go and watch the game down at the pub.”
“Already went. Satellite’s not working. You know,” said Spike. “I’m starting to think you don’t want me around.”
“How very astute you are,” Giles admitted. “I don’t want you here at all. Please go away.”
Spike reached for the bottle again. It was still mostly full, which was one of the telling differences. Old Spike would have polished it off entirely by now. “Then why did you bring me here?” Spike asked. He twirled the remote around in one hand and flicked the telly off. “You never told me that.”
“Let’s not get into that again,” said Giles. He’d regretted it from the moment he’d found the restoration spell. How many times had he tried to drill it into the children’s heads that some things were just meant to be left alone, and then at the first opportunity he’d folded and used magic to make things better.
Spike ignored him, and continued on. “There I was, gainfully employed on another bloody continent, good prospects, neat digs, blissfully unaware of any of you lot, until this woman practically mugs me in the street and then a month later you walk into my bar, chant a funny rhyme, then chuck a handful of fairy dust in my face and after I finish choking I wake up and realize I’ve been walking around in public, not to mention full direct sunlight, wearing a t-shirt that says Save the Humpback Whales on the front.”
“Yes, I can see that would have been traumatic,” Giles told him. “Being pulled out of a supernaturally induced stupor to realize that the woman you’d been in love with for the past several years had taken the time to track you down and have you returned to your so-called sensibilities. And then bring you to England and move you into her own apartment and buy you a very large television of your very own.”
Spike shook his head. “I can understand that bit,” he said. “Makes perfect sense. I just don’t know why you were there. She didn’t even know I was alive till you told her. How’d you know, anyway?”
“I found you by accident,” said Giles. “I was looking for Wesley, and perhaps Angel, and then a few simple locator spells later I had you. This was quite a surprise you can imagine, as I thought you’d been incinerated at the Hellmouth.”
“I think I got incinerated in the alley, too,” Spike said moodily. “Bloody dragon.” He stared up from the depths of the arm chair. “So why did you tell her?”
Giles took a deep, needed breath. “Whatever history you had with her, I couldn’t keep from Buffy the information that a known vampire was now alive and breathing. And once I told her it was inevitable that she would look for you, and when we found out what state you were in, she was naturally quite distressed.”
“Ah,” Spike muttered. “She bullied you into it.”
“Bullied would be a mild word for it,” Giles confessed. “She was quite insistent. It took Willow and I several weeks to work out the spell for getting back your memories.”
“And why did you do it, and not Red?”
“I didn’t want Willow to be responsible for that sort of violation. We weren’t sure at the time if your memories had been forcibly removed, or if you’d simply been recreated without them. It makes a difference. But the fact that you seemed to have no memories at all from the time before you were found, rather than implanted false memories, was the only reason I agreed to do it.”
“Oh,” said Spike, as though that had answered everything. “I just wondered why I was here.” He reached out for the remote control again and Giles snatched it away from him.
“Spike, are you not in the least bit curious why you are alive in the first place? It doesn’t seem to surprise you at all.”
“I think it was a reward,” Spike said as he unfolded himself out of the chair. “For doing good deeds and helping the helpless and rescuing small dogs and finding nice homes for werewolves.” He walked past Giles and opened the front door cautiously.
“And you did these things,” Giles asked disbelievingly.
“Well, they were all done, but not necessarily by me,” Spike told him. “I might have had a bit of help there.” He stuck one foot out into the sunlight first, like he was waiting to see what would happen. “So here I am, alive and kicking and getting older by the second. What do I do now?”
“Go home to Buffy,” said Giles, “before you get any older.”
“Going,” said Spike, who then stepped out into the daylight.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/148143.html