Title: The Choice of Weapons
Author: Miss Murchison
Words: 1539, some stolen from Edna St. Vincent Millay
Years ago, someone commented to me that Edna St. Vincent Millay would have been a good vampire. Ever since, I’ve imagined that she had a fling with Spike at some point. She certainly knew Drusilla, whom she describes in Siege:
This I do, being mad:
Gather baubles about me,
Sit in a circle of toys, and all the time
Death beating the door in.
The second book of poetry I picked up for inspiration was a collection of her works. I borrowed the first lines of a sonnet for this fic. This isn’t the sort of thing I usually write. It’s not cheerful, and there’s no happy ending.
This is set post-NFA, the AtS finale, with no references to the comic book seasons, because I haven’t read any.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc.
You loved me not at all, but let it go…
It had been years. Spike still wasn’t sure how many. He vaguely realized that he hadn’t yet adjusted to being back in this dimension, and he was all too certain that time moved differently in the hellish one where he’d spent what seemed like centuries.
But here, in Buffy’s world, only years had passed since the battle in the alley.
Angel and the others had all died, the lucky bastards. Only he had been cursed to survive. Which wouldn’t have been that bad a deal if he hadn’t also managed to get captured. Even greatly reduced, the powers of the Senior Partners had been more than sufficient to make one vampire’s unlife a misery.
Spike had fought hard to hang on to the dregs of his humanity, through the pain of the torture and through the greater pain of knowing day after day passed and she didn’t come for him. It had taken years, centuries maybe, for him to give up hope. Stupid, because she couldn’t live for centuries.
Except when an internal dispute among the Partners had given him a chance at escape and he’d managed to slip through a portal, he’d found that although cell phone technology had advanced a bit, otherwise things weren’t all that different from the night he’d been dragged screaming into the first of a series of increasingly imaginative tortures, a fire that seared his skin without turning him into dust.
When he’d realized Buffy might still be alive, he’d also made the painful discovery that hope wasn’t entirely dead after all. Painful because hoping hurt more than despair, and when that hope was crushed again…
I loved you more than life…
The demon world was full of stories of Slayers now, even more than when he’d left. He’d followed a dozen leads before one had brought him to someone who knew him, who might tell him what had happened to his Slayer. Andrew’s joy at seeing him had been another kind of torture, but the annoying little bastard had babbled willingly enough. And Spike had managed not to kill him by stalking away as soon as Andrew revealed what he knew.
Buffy hadn’t tried to locate any survivors of the battle. Why would she? She had no way of knowing he had survived. Only love could have motivated her to what reason would call a hopeless search.
You loved me not at all, but let it go.
I loved you more than life, but let it be.
As the more injured party, this being so,
The hour’s amenities are all to me —
The choice of weapons…
Andrew hadn’t deliberately told him where Buffy was. The stupid git probably still hadn’t realized how much he’d babbled. Probably hadn’t even warned Buffy that a skeleton might be rattling out of her closet.
Spike hadn’t been able to wait until full dark. He’d made his way through the shadow of the trees, holding a jacket over his head, as he dodged fading sunbeams. A bit of singeing didn’t bother him. He’d lived with much worse for so long.
The choice of weapons…
So this was Buffy’s house. It didn’t look like the one in Sunnydale. It was posher, newer. More like the one in pictures Dawn had shown him, pictures of the place where Buffy had lived before her parents’ divorce. She’d want all that again, of course. She’d always wanted to pretend she was an ordinary girl, not the sort to have superpowers or demon lovers.
This was the house of a woman who had married Mr. Ordinary. Current Resident. Darrin Stevens. Spike couldn’t remember the wanker’s real name, but he could see him now, there in the back yard of the perfect little suburban home, smiling at his pretty wife and daughter.
Poncy bastard standing there, the last of the day’s sunlight on his hair, laughing as the little girl staggered around the yard, squealing the way brats did. She looked more like her father than Buffy; she had his dark eyes and dark hair.
Spike was unprepared for the primal rage that rose in him. He’d given up all he was for Buffy, made himself into something else, and it still hadn’t been good enough. Not good enough for her to love him. Not even good enough for her to look for him. Instead, she’d found her Darrin and was sitting in her deck chair, wearing chic but casual clothes, enjoying her bloody middle class lifestyle.
The brat ran up and plopped down on her arse a few feet away from Spike. She was fascinated by something on the ground; a shiny stone maybe. Fat fingers closed around it and a dirty hand raised it to her pouting mouth.
Spike realized he’d clutched a sapling so tightly the green, supple branch had twisted in his grasp, the bark splintering and stabbing his fingers. He let go and looked down, examining the damage. The wounds were small, but they had been made by living wood and would take a long time to heal. He made himself concentrate on them until the toddler wobbled to her feet.
He’d never hurt the child. Never hurt any child, ever again, no matter how delicious the vital young blood smelled or how much the thudding of the tiny heart stirred his vampire senses. That conviction had nothing to do with Buffy. That was something he owed to himself, to the man he’d become.
He looked up from contemplation of his palm to see that the child had run to her parents and was pulling on Buffy’s hand, obviously asking for something. Mother and child went inside, leaving only the Current Occupant outside in the deepening twilight. He was only a few yards away, and it was dark enough for Spike to cover that space and…
The choice of weapons…
This new bloke didn’t know, Andrew had said. Had no idea Buffy had slept with the enemy–with more than one enemy–once upon a time in California.
Spike realized he wouldn’t have to harm a hair on that blow-dried head. He’d just have to step forward and introduce himself as the ex. Smile, fangs bared, and say, “Oh, didn’t she ever mention her little fetish for boinking the undead? Sorry, mate, I know she’s good at denial, but I’m sure the yen will strike her again one day. I’ve seen it before. Tries to stick with the blokes with heartbeats, but sooner or later…”
He could drop the words, like slow poison in a well, and watch the prolonged agony that resulted. The suffering wouldn’t be as long or as harsh as what he’d been through, but it would be a sure, ruthless strike.
He didn’t move. Not then, and not when the Current Occupant went inside. He lit a cigarette and wondered why he hadn’t until the ash burned down to his fingers and Buffy stepped back into the yard.
She was still blonde, still too thin, and when she wasn’t looking at the child, Spike fancied he could still see that lost look in her eyes. Or maybe she was just bored with her task of tossing the brightly colored toys that were scattered over the yard into a plastic bin. The good little housewife.
Then she looked around, suddenly alert, and she moved in a careful circle, graceful as ever, still the warrior. Her Slayer senses were telling her something dangerous was nearby.
Or maybe she just smelled the nicotine from his fag.
The choice of weapons…
Him and Buffy. The two of them, now that had always been a fair fight. He could meet her with a weapon of any kind, of words or of violence, and it would still be fair and honorable. His blood pulsed with the need to attack, to bludgeon her with curses, or fists, or both. To show her, to make her see…
It would take something much greater than honor for him to back down from this fight.
She was standing in the center of the yard, facing him but not seeing him, the toys she had been collecting fallen at her feet. Just a few feet away. His greatest adversary and his greatest love.
He wondered if there was hope inside her too, buried somewhere deep, not acted upon, but still there, hope that the crazy vampire who’d let himself burn up for her and for the world still existed somewhere. Still loved her.
That would be his victory, if he could dredge up that hope, shatter this illusion of happiness she’d created. Because it must be an illusion. It had to be an illusion. He wanted so desperately for it to be an illusion.
The choice of weapons; and I gravely choose…
He dropped his cigarette in the dirt, scuffed out the last spark, and left the way he had come.
I gravely choose
To let the weapons tarnish where they lie
Spike knew that he had won the battle, but the bitter victory tasted fouler than ashes on his tongue.
From Sonnet cviii
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
I’ll have one more fic based on a different poem posted by the end of the day.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/345938.html