Rating: PGish now. Maybe going up later
A/N: Follows “Beneath You” and going mostly AU after that. Oh, it will stick with the basic theme of Season 7, but more focused on what Joss started in the chapel scene and then just left hanging. Darn you, Joss!
Second post today. I’ll do my best to get more chapters up on free-for-all day.
Many thanks to blondebitz for the super banner!
Spike dozed fitfully. He hadn’t slept properly since he’d gotten his soul back. Every time he tried, the voices haunted him, telling him to go to Hell. And worse. He could barely keep them at bay when he was awake. When he slept he had no defense from their ceaseless clamor.
In his few semi-sane moments he figured the lack of sleep was most of his insanity. But when he started to drift off, and the voices started in again, insanity didn’t look so bad. Tonight, however, he dreamed. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d dreamed.
He tossed. No! Not that night!
He entered Buffy’s bathroom. She was in a robe, moving stiffly. She saw him and told him to leave.
Spike moaned and tried to get away. But he was already pressed against the wall. There was nowhere to go.
He threw her to the floor and lay atop her. She screamed and tried to push him off. But he was too strong. This time he wouldn’t let her get away.
His nails scrabbled against the wall, as if he could dig himself away from what happened next.
He tore her robe, revealing Buffy’s perfect breasts. He would have her. She loved him. This time he would make her admit it.
He tore the robe completely off her. Fumbling at his jeans with one hand, holding her down with the other. The fear and agony in her eyes. The scent of terror rising from her skin.
He felt his fangs drop. This time he would make her his. Forever.
Spike tore into her white throat.
And woke, screaming, “No!”
The exclamation ripped from his throat in a long, anguished howl.
Buffy dreamed. Horrors stalked her nights, both in reality and in her dreamscape.
She dreamed of that night. And not for the first time.
Her back ached, and all she wanted was a hot bath to ease it. In her pain, she didn’t hear him enter. It wasn’t until she turned to take off her robe that she realized he was there.
They argued, like they always did. Love and fighting defined their relationship. She’d had enough of it. Time for Spike to finally move on.
He moved with such speed. She was helpless. Before she knew it, she was on the floor, and he was on top of her, ripping at her robe.
She turned over in bed, whimpering softly into her fist. No, not again. Would she never be free of the memory? And the fear?
Spike was on her, ripping at her robe. She was exposed to him. He fumbled at her waist. No, at his waist. He was unfastening his jeans.
She knew what was coming, and she whimpered, more loudly this time.
But this time her dream self had enough. She stopped struggling. In surprise, Spike looked at her. “No,” she said firmly.
A sense of wonder came over her. She had power. She had the power to decide what she wanted. Spike couldn’t force her unless she let him.
“Enough, Spike. This time I mean no.”
Peace flowed over her. Last year she hadn’t known what she wanted. So she had gone back and forth. Whispering in a dead man’s ear one moment. Hating and hitting him the next. No more. She knew what she wanted. And now she could say it and mean it.
She woke, feeling better than she had in years. She was the Slayer. That meant she was in control of herself.
She smiled and started to roll over to go back to sleep.
That’s when the screaming started.
She vaulted out of bed and into the hallway. Dawn was standing in her doorway, looking scared. “Buffy! What is it?”
Buffy paused just long enough to answer, “It’s Spike. Stay here.” Whatever could make Spike scream like that was for the Slayer alone.
She ran down the stairs, skidding into the living room just long enough to grab an axe. She hoped it would be enough. Then she tore for the kitchen, ripped open the door to the basement and pelted down the stairs. The screaming continued, deafening in the enclosed space.
At the bottom of the stairs, Buffy glanced left and right, taking in the entire room in her quick sweep. Spike wasn’t on his bed. In fact, for a moment she couldn’t see him at all. Then she found him, huddled in a corner, pressed so close to a wall he looked like he was trying to crawl into it.
No one else was down here, but Spike was still screaming. His eyes were open, but she wasn’t sure he was seeing the basement. She dropped the axe with a loud clunk. The vampire winced but otherwise didn’t react to the sound.
Buffy stepped forward, not sure what to do. She reached out to touch him but remembered at the last minute that he didn’t like to be touched. She let her hand drop. “Spike.”
She tried again. “Spike!” A little louder this time.
He took a shuddering breath and stopped screaming. Buffy stifled her sigh of relief at the sudden quiet. His eyes moved, but she still wasn’t sure he was tracking reality.
“Spike?” She tried to put both reassurance and concern in her voice.
He shook his head and murmured a low, “No.”
“Hurt the girl. Can’t hurt the girl. William is a bad man.”
Suddenly Buffy thought she understood. “Spike? Were you dreaming?”
His blue eyes finally tracked and fixed on her. “A dream. But also real. It happened. Hurt the girl.”
Buffy started to ask, “What girl?” but she stopped. She knew. “You dreamed of that night, didn’t you?”
He cowered back against the wall and put his hands over his face. “Don’t look at me.”
She sat back on her heels. She wished Giles were here. Surely he’d have some idea of how to deal with an insane vampire. The Watchers had a book about everything else. Did they have a book on this too?
Suddenly, Giles’s words from long ago came back to her. To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It’s not done because people deserve it. It’s done because they need it.
Angel said Spike needed love, but was that really what he needed? Maybe not.
“Spike, look at me.” She put as much command into her voice as she could, and to her surprise, he put down his hands and raised his eyes to her. For the moment, his gaze was clear and almost sane.
She took a deep breath. She wasn’t so good at the emotional stuff. Hitting things was much more comfortable. “Spike, I forgive you.”
His eyes went wide, and he shook his head. “Buffy. No, I…”
She cut him off. “It’s my decision to forgive you or not. And I choose to. It’s your decision to accept it or not.”
“No. No buts.” She paused, searching for the right words. “Giles said once that we forgive because it’s needed. It’s not about deserving. I didn’t understand it then, but now I do.”
Spike opened his mouth to speak but then stopped. She could see him thinking, but she wasn’t done, so she continued. “And I think you deserve it. I was messed up last year. No, don’t deny it. We both know it’s true. You sang it to me. Remember that? ‘Whispering in a dead man’s ear doesn’t make it real.'”
He nodded and said, very softly. “I remember.”
“You were the only one who understood, the only one who didn’t expect me to be happy to be back. At first I wanted to die. Then I started to want to live again, but I didn’t know how. When I was with you, I felt alive. But even that didn’t really work. I knew it was wrong. I was just using you, but it felt good and I told myself I didn’t care.” Saying even that much left her exhausted.
Spike’s face held understanding.
“You knew all that, didn’t you?”
He nodded. “I knew. I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be real, but I knew it wasn’t.” His voice broke. “But I could pretend, and it felt good.” A tear slowly rolled down his face.
For that moment, Buffy’s heart went out to him. In that moment, maybe she loved him. “You’re not the only one who needs forgiving. Can you forgive me?”
He tilted his head. “What’s to forgive?”
She shook her head. “Shame on you, Spike. You know better than that. I sent you so many signals, you couldn’t have known up from down. I said no when I meant yes and yes when I meant no.” She met his sad, blue gaze firmly. “Yes, you did wrong that night, but how could you have known what I really meant? I didn’t know most of the time. So I led you on and used your love when I had no intention of returning it.”
There. It was an ugly truth, but it was the truth, and it needed to be said.
Spike closed his eyes, and she could see the shiver of pain that went through him. For a moment, she feared he was too broken to hear the truth. But then he opened them again, and she saw sanity in those blue depths for the first time that evening. “I forgive you.” His voice broke halfway through the sentence, but he got it out. “Please leave me now. Forgiving you doesn’t make it any easier to give up on the dream.”
There was more she needed to say. She forgave him. He forgave her. But what really needed to happen was for him to forgive himself for everything he’d done. Only then would the voices stop tormenting him.
But now wasn’t the right time. So she just said, “Thank you.” And left.
Spike slept, which was good. And he didn’t do much dreaming, which was even better. When he finally awoke, he lay on the camp bed, disoriented. He had only vague memories of the previous night. He frowned, trying to put the pieces together.
He’d almost killed the boyfriend who had been a worm. What a balls up! Then he’d gone to the chapel with the half-formed hope that perhaps God, if there was one, or the Powers That Be would strike him dead. Right then, being dead (really dead) had sounded good.
What had happened next? Suddenly, he remembered and sat upright, shock and horror running through him. Buffy knew. Buffy knew about his soul. He put his head in his hands and nearly wept. It wasn’t the right time. He was still insane, getting better, he thought, but still pretty crazy. He hadn’t wanted to tell her until he’d gotten the voices under control.
Spike blinked. The voices? Right then, they appeared to be gone. No one telling him to go to Hell. No one tormenting him with what would happen when he arrived there. Why? What had driven them away? And was it only temporary? He hoped not. He was getting used to the idea of carrying guilt for the rest of his existence. But the voices had been too much.
He glanced around. Buffy’s basement? Really? How had he gotten here? And why? Surely she didn’t want anything to do with him. Flashes from last night came back. Lying on the cross. That memory made him aware of his chest, neck and face. Right. Lying on a cross was not the best idea he’d ever had. He gently touched the burns. Better than last night, but still painful.
Walking here with Buffy and her telling him she’d take him home. But why? A half-heard conversation with Dawn and then…Angel? Had he heard that right? He stood up and paced, struggling to remember. Yes, Buffy had called Angel. Something about needing Spike sane to fight whatever was coming.
His heart sank. So that was why she wanted him here. She needed someone tough enough to stand up to a fight. He frowned. No, that wasn’t all of it.
Memory rushed the rest of the way in, and he sat back down on the bed. He remembered dreaming of the night he had tried to rape her. And of her coming downstairs and telling him that she forgave him. The memory of forgiveness sat uneasily on his still-tender soul. But remembering her tell him that she had used him and his love last year with no intention of loving him back. That was like a knife to his soul.
Tears spilled down his face. He’d known, of course, that she had been using him. He wasn’t dumb, maybe no genius, but smart enough to figure out that she didn’t love him back. Didn’t stop him from hoping, though. And having her, even like that, was better than not, or so he’d told himself at the time.
But to hear her say it so baldly last night. Yeah, truth hurt. And now, what to do about it?
He’d help her, of course. He couldn’t do anything else. When he’d gone to get the soul, he’d known there were no guarantees. He’d wanted to become the kind of man she *could* love. Didn’t mean she *would* love him.
He sighed and lay back on the bed. Spike knew what Buffy had been up to last night. Forgiving him. Asking him to forgive her. She wanted him to see that he could forgive himself. She hoped that would quiet the voices. And she might be right. But forgiving himself was going to be a tall order. He’d had over 100 years to do some awful stuff. No one walks away from that much murder and mayhem in a few days.
Fighting the good fight against whatever it was, that would help. Might even the score a little bit.
His mind shied away from the memory of the evil which had taken several forms in the school basement, including Dru and…and Buffy. No! He couldn’t think about that. Not right now.
Instead, he listened to the house. Where were Dawn and Buffy? Ah, there. Buffy was awake, her heartbeat steady and sure. She wasn’t worried about anything more complicated than picking out clothes. And Dawn? She was still asleep, her heart beating slowly.
He put his hands behind his head and smiled. Not even the Slayer knew how much of his “view” of the world was through sound and smell. And not the sounds most humans could hear. No, he could hear much more. Vision was important, but only a part of his picture.
He could identify people by their heartbeat, in addition to scent. He knew each of the Scoobies. Willow’s rapid pitter patter. Spike rather missed her and it. Rupert’s strong, slow drumbeat. The Watcher might be aging, but you wouldn’t know it from the steady heartbeat. Unlike Xander. If that boy didn’t lose some weight and soon, he was headed for an early grave.
Then there were his girls, Dawn and Buffy. Dawn’s was the most perfect heartbeat he’d ever heard, almost like an infant’s in its newness, but with the strength of youth. He guessed it was because she hadn’t really been alive for more than a few years.
Buffy’s, though, was his favorite. He’d listened to it for hours as she lay beside him in his crypt, thinking him asleep. It was strong like Dawn’s and as steady as Giles’. But it was different somehow. He’d listened to it, trying to identify the difference, but he couldn’t quite get it. He just knew he’d recognize it anywhere, and he loved it as an integral part of Buffy. He supposed her Slayer power came from her heart, if anywhere.
As he listened and thought, the sound from Buffy’s room changed, becoming quick and light. He smiled. She was awake. Yeah, he’d help her even if she didn’t love him back. It was enough to be near her, to hear her and breathe in the sweet, spicy scent that was the essence of the Slayer.
A few minutes later, she came down the stairs and began to move around the kitchen. He smelled ground coffee and wrinkled his nose. Spike was still English enough to prefer tea. When he couldn’t get cocoa. Then he heard a gentle ripping of paper, and the scent of English Breakfast drifted downstairs.
Suddenly he realized he was starving. How long had it been since he’d eaten? He thought back. A couple of rats in the school basement hardly counted. If he was going to be any use to the Slayer, he’d need blood. And soon.
Sighing, he levered himself to his feet. Enough musing. It was time to face Buffy and find out if anything had changed after their talk last night.
As he came into the kitchen, Buffy looked up and smiled at him. “Good morning. Want some pancakes?”
Spike decided that was a good sign. “Uh, sure.”
She stopped what she was doing and really looked at him. He had to force himself to meet her gaze, not sure what she was looking for but afraid of what she might find.
“You look thin. How long has it been since you’ve fed?”
“Couple of rats yesterday, I think.”
She shook her head, eerily echoing his thoughts from a few minutes ago. “That’s not feeding. That’s bare subsistence.” Her eyes went unfocused for a moment while she thought. “I can grab some blood this afternoon on my way back from work. You’ll last that long?”
He nodded. “Yeah. It’s better than I would have gotten if you hadn’t…well, invited me here.” Gratitude didn’t come easily to him, but he made the effort. “Thanks for that.”
Buffy smiled. God, what could he do to get her to smile like that more often? “I’m gonna make you work for your keep. Whatever’s coming isn’t going to be a walk in the park.”
He essayed a small smile. “Probably won’t even be a walk in the graveyard.”
The smile he got in return was more than the jest deserved, but it warmed his non-beating heart.
They both turned to the sound of footsteps upstairs. Without thinking, Spike said, “Dawn’s in a good mood.”
Buffy frowned as she tipped a couple of pancakes on his plate. She spoke while he dumped half the syrup onto them. “God! Good thing you can’t get fat. And how can you tell Dawn’s in a good mood?”
Oops. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. But since he had, he said. “From her footsteps.” He paused. “And from her heartbeat. It sounds different when she’s happy.”
He could tell Buffy wanted to ask more, but Dawn bounded in at that moment. She dropped a quick kiss on the top of his head and then smacked his arm.
“Hey! What was that for?” He had to work at keeping the grin off his face. Having Dawn happy with him felt good. He’d missed her.
“For taking all the syrup, you dope.”
Calmly, as if she hadn’t just said something to him about it a moment ago, Buffy said, “There’s more in the cupboard.”
As Dawn flounced off to get more syrup, Spike dug into his pancakes. Buffy was a terrible cook, but it didn’t matter. For the moment, he was on the good side of the Summers girls, and he wanted to stay there as long as possible.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/419723.html