Dream the Fourth
“Crap!” Buffy had fallen into sleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. As feared, in came the next installment of ‘The Secret Loves of Buffy Summers“. The scenes were flashing fairly quickly, but she recognized each one. Spike in the alley that first night, so hot and intriguing. She had actually felt a trickle of fear as he announced he was going to kill her. The school attack and the way he had backed down at the end of an axe held by her pissed off mortal mom. Buffy had always wondered why Spike hadn’t just killed her mom then; it would have been all too easy. Their many dances always ended with one or both of them backing down from anything permanent.
Along with the memories of her interactions with the bleached wonder were memories of seeing Spike with Dru. She remembered the love that clearly shone on his face when he was looking at the nutcase. He had been tender and dutiful and never once complained about the strains of caring for the enfeebled and loony vampiress.
Buffy looked again at Spike’s face as she held the stake against Dru and demanded that Spike call off his minions and let her go. If soulless vampires really couldn’t love, why had Spike refused to sacrifice his sire then? Buffy had been alone in that basement with feral vampires and no way out safely, yet Spike let her go without batting an eye just to secure Dru’s safety. Surely that had to be love, and selfless love at that.
Buffy remembered the pained look on the wheelchair-bound vampire as his love cavorted in the arms of her sire, Angelus. Funny, Spike had never brought up to Buffy about that period and how she was responsible not only for his being in that wheelchair, but for Angelus being out to play with Dru and to torment him. You would have thought there’d at least have been one accusation, one rubbing of her face in it.
Buffy suddenly remembered a more recent time when a battered Spike refused to bring up how he’d gotten so beat up and merely took part in her birthday celebration.
“You left after stopping Acathla,” Buffy heard Joyce remind her. “You didn’t revoke Spike’s invitation to our home. Didn’t once expect him to come back and kill me. You knew he would fulfill his part of your bargain even then.”
“I guess so,” Buffy replied. “I never thought about it, but you’re right. He could have lied. I should have expected him to lie! Even with me gone there was no reason for Spike not to come and kill all of you.
Angelus would have.”
“Exactly so, honey.” Joyce was proud that Buffy needed so little guidance to see the difference in vampires. “And what do you think a chipped Angelus would have done?”
Buffy let her mind run on that thought and shuddered. No way would Angelus have turned to her or made the adjustments Spike had made after being chipped.
“What about when Glory captured him, what do you think Angelus would have done?” Joyce wanted to drive the point home.
“He’d have probably already been working with her against me,” Buffy admitted. “You’re right. I’ve spent years comparing unsouled Spike to souled Angel. Spike without a soul is really different from Angelus, even before the chip. With the chip, it was almost like Spike had a kind of soul eventually.”
“You do know that much of those ‘facts about vampires’ that Angel told you were self-serving, don’t you?” Joyce asked.
“Like what?” Buffy felt herself immediately go on the defensive out of habit. “Giles said the same things!”
“Well, Mr. Giles would, wouldn’t he? Rupert was trained by the Council of Liars, after all–the group that tried to kill my baby. Think, Buffy, those books of theirs had lots of errors that you found out the hard way. Why believe things just because they said them? Angel told you about himself. But not all vampires are like Angelus. Spike is proof of that.” Joyce shook her head in disgust at the web of lies that had ensnared her lovely daughter.
Buffy watched the Spike scenes again, trying to really see him for himself this time. She watched as the chipped Spike tried to find his footing in a world where he was neither the Big Bad nor the Good Man. She cringed as she watched herself, her friends, and her watcher taunt him about his handicap and remind him of his evil nature. ‘Hard to learn how to be good when everyone is telling you you’re bad and always will be.’
She watched his oh so expressive face with each jibe, each cruel taunt. She began to recognize his facial expressions as hurt morphing into his mask of the Big Bad as he hid behind the appearance of not caring what they thought of him. “It’s an act! Wow, even Xander’s crap mattered. We all just kept verbally staking him over and over and he acted like he didn’t feel anything!”
“You didn’t do it knowingly, sweetheart. You’re too kind to have done that. You believed those lies that Spike had no real feelings and never noticed the truth that he did.” Joyce tried to take some of the sting from the truths hitting her daughter. Buffy did have a kind heart and now that she was facing up to a few facts, she would be guilt-ridden. The whole purpose of these dreams was to nudge Buffy in the right direction, not send her into an Angel-worthy broodfest.
Buffy looked on as dreamBuffy was promising the completely thrashed Spike, “What you did for me and Dawn, that was real. I won’t forget it.” She felt shame at how quickly she appeared to have forgotten, how soon they had all started to treat him as they always had done. Still he had helped in the fight against Glory to the bitter end.
The scenes slowed down after she saw Spike sobbing in the shadows as her crushed, dead body lay at the foot of Glory’s tower. She watched as her friends and Dawn grieved and consoled each other and the vampire was once more forced to keep himself apart.
She marveled at the scenes that showed her what had taken place while she was in heaven. Buffy had been told that Spike had been of help, but to actually see the soulless vampire fighting what should have been her battles was quite another matter. Spike fought alongside her friends and played nursemaid to her distraught sister, drying Dawn’s tears and making her eat her meals. And all the while, her friends continued to withhold respect or friendship. It was an eye opener.
He had no hope for winning any favor from Buffy in this sad scenario. That excuse for Spike helping held no water under the circumstances.
“Wonder why Angel didn’t drop in to help with the hellmouthy patrolling every once in a while? I can see him passing on Dawn duty, but didn’t they even tell him I had died?”
“They told him, dear,” Joyce revealed. “When he heard the news, he immediately went on retreat to a monastery.”
“Monastery?” Buffy knew that Angelus had spent a lot of time in convents and monasteries, but only as all-you-can-eat buffets, not grief control! “What, did he need help with the brooding?”
Joyce had to laugh at Buffy’s reaction. “No, dear, he has that down to an art form. Personally, I think he wanted to go to a place where he could sort out hislack of feelings without an audience to wonder why he wasn’t moved by the loss of the love of his life, but I can’t prove that.”
“He was so cold and rushed when I did get back…it was almost like the whole ‘Buffy died and was brought back’ thing was just a blip on his radar.” Buffy filed that epiphany away for future reference.
“Well, as you see, your other vampire was quite affected.” Joyce drew Buffy’s attention back to the scenes of Spike’s summer without her. Buffy saw those restless nights Spike had alluded to when she returned. She saw him wake startled from yet another dream of how he could have saved her. She saw the drawn look on the exhausted vampire’s face as he would finally give up on rest and rise to go kill demons or take up sentinel duty beneath Dawn’s window.
Spike had proven to be the poster boy for devotion to Buffy’s memory. “Didn’t they ever invite him to just hang out?” Buffy had seen the Scoobies turn to Spike for muscle in the fight and for dealing with the emotionally volatile teen, but never a pizza and movie night. “Xander still sniped at him, for heaven’s sake!”
“Spike wasn’t doing it for them, sweetheart,” Joyce reminded her. “He was doing it for the love of you and Dawn. He loves you both very much.”
Buffy was glad that when the scenes began to play out again, they were still from the perspective of Spike. She had no desire to watch herself claw her way from her grave. “Damn! What was Willow thinking?! Not only did she think I went to hell, but she didn’t even dig up the grave she expected to call me out of! I don’t think I’ll ever understand that.”
“She wasn’t thinking of anything, Buffy. Her only thought was to get her friend back and have their lives return to normal.” Joyce shook her head sadly at the implications. “It was selfish and wrong, but not intended as evil. Willow is beginning to understand the depths of wrong now. She paid a high price for her arrogance. Tara’s life was the cost and it proved far too high to imagine.”
Joyce decided that Buffy was strong enough now to hear the whole of it. “You know the reason you had such difficulties when you returned, don’t you?”
“Well, I was in heaven and happy, then I was panicked and trying to claw out of a coffin and through six feet of packed earth. That’ll make a person cranky.” Buffy rolled her eyes as she snarked.
“True,” Joyce agreed with a slight smile, “but you had other problems as well. All those magical friends of yours, yet not a one questioned the significance of Willow’s ritual being interrupted? The ritual was never completed, Buffy, and if the Powers hadn’t interfered, you would have truly been damaged. Only during the recent time after you were shot and dying once again were the Powers able to completely restore you to life. Your ability to feel a full range of emotions was never brought back until then.”
“What do you mean? Spike said I came back wrong. Was that it?” Buffy was horrified.
“Spike couldn’t tell what was wrong, but it was clear something was. You jumped off that tower because you loved your sister, you loved the world. You refused to even think of destroying Dawn to close that rift. Yet you couldn’t even talk to her when you returned! It was as if you were back, but your ability to connect, to feel, was left in that grave.” Joyce pulled Buffy into an embrace. “You tried and Spike tried to help you, but the only emotions you were able to tap into were the base ones like anger and fear.
“When you came close to death again after being shot, you were close to the veil that separates life and death. The Powers returned your ability to feel the higher emotions to you. That’s why you were finally able to bond with Dawn again, to love and forgive. That is why you were able to forgive Spike for his actions enough to trust Dawn with him.” Joyce nearly wept at the pain her girls had endured, all because of ineptitude and lack of care by those choosing to play God.
Buffy looked terribly stricken to think of that lost year, of those she had hurt without seeming to care. Now Spike was gone who knows where and Dawn was barely speaking to her. Xander’s blurting out what had happened in the bathroom between her and Spike had put Dawn even further into the shell she had retreated into over the last year.
“Buffy, nothing that happened is unfixable!” Joyce knew that her daughter would need to hear this. “There was a lot of damage done, true. But the two people you hurt the most are also the two who love you the most. Forgiveness comes with love, sweetie. Some honest talk, some time and lots of determination will mend any harm done.”
“Can’t talk to Spike. He’s gone. I finally drove him away.” Buffy muttered sadly with a small sob at the end.
Joyce chuckled lightly, “You really don’t know him like you think you do if that’s what you think! I can’t tell you exactly where he is now–not until you are seeing the past in a clear light–but believe me, the only way you will ever make Spike stay away forever is when he is dust.”
“Do I have to watch this last year, Mommy?” Buffy’s voice was plaintive and low as she asked. She understood the sort of fear Old Scrooge had felt during his third dream. The memories were still clear enough that she wasn’t sure she wished to see them from another perspective.
“Sweetheart, this isn’t to punish you!” Joyce smoothed Buffy’s hair and reassured her. “I already explained that you weren’t yourself last year. This is just so that you can know your heart and know the wounds that need mending in time.”
“You’ll be here with me?” Buffy pled.
“Always, poppet,” Joyce promised.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/115907.html