Transizione (Incubo Anno)
With a shaking sigh, Buffy turned her attention back to the scenes playing out before her. She knew instantly what she was seeing. Spike with a look on his face as if he were suddenly in the presence of a benevolent divinity. Buffy would forever remember that image as the living embodiment of awe.
She was in a state of shock at the time and yet that look had registered even then as she looked down at the vampire standing at the base of the staircase. Buffy knew at that moment Spike’s professions of love had been real. She also realized that however her return to life had been accomplished, the vampire had no part in it.
Buffy watched as Spike tenderly tried to help her recover from the horror of fighting her way back from the grave. He had been so gentle, so loving.
All too soon the chaos of her friends’ arrival broke the mood. Voices talking over each other as the questions and demands began. Spike slipped away without that Buffy even noticing his absence.
Blessedly, instead of having to watch the ‘look what we did, why aren’t you happy’ show, Buffy was outside instead watching Spike sob his confused emotions to the wind. He was so torn between anger, joy, fear and hope. Everything he was feeling was clearly written on his tear-streaked face.
Buffy got a front row seat to Xander’s attempt at removing Spike from the inner circle. The vampire’s strength and fighting skills were not needed any longer and Xander apparently felt no need to try for even cursory politeness.
“Gee, Xan, if you didn’t believe Spike loved me, why did you point out that my being back had to be the happiest moment in Spike’s entire existence?” Buffy raised her eyebrows when Xander’s slip proved her human friend saw all too well that Spike did indeed love her.
“Of course Xander knows the truth of how Spike feels about you. They all do,” Joyce agreed. “They are just like you, dear: able to deny anything they aren’t comfortable with. Even Mr. Giles knows the truth, if he would only think for a moment or two.”
Buffy went back to watching those first few days again. She could see how she was going through the motions, as she later had sung while under Sweet’s spell. She also saw the happy face she tried to put on in front of her friends.
“I don’t understand, Mom,” Buffy whined. “The only two who had nothing to do with bringing me back were Dawn and Spike…and I treated them the worst! I went out of my way to be nice to Willow and the rest. Meanwhile, I ignored Dawn and used Spike. Please tell me that was because of the parts I was missing?”
“Partly, dear. Another reason was stated by Spike: ‘you only hurt the ones you love.’ He is insightful, honey.” Joyce smiled at her troubled daughter.
“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Buffy argued.
“Since when are humans sensible?” Joyce chided. “We have a bad habit of taking out the ugly emotions on those closest to us. It’s as if when we KNOW we are loved, we feel safe enough to just let go. We expect them to still love us, and they generally do. Deep down, you knew that Dawn and Spike really loved you, all of you. You felt safe enough in their love to just dump on them without fear of losing that love. As for the others…well, you knew their love was conditional, or at least felt it was. You were terrified of losing them, their love.”
“That’s not right. That’s not how it should be.” Buffy mulled over the concept and could find no way to make it come out as an act of fairness or love.
“No, it isn’t,” Joyce agreed. “As you mature, you do that less, or that’s the goal anyway. Some people never get there.” Now, Spike didn’t know any better and his accepting your treatment wasn’t the best idea either. He became an enabler, even though he meant well. Then again, Spike is a vampire and not a trained psychologist,” Joyce laughed.
“Not too many trained psychologists would know what to do with my set of problems anyway,” Buffy joined in the laugh.
Buffy resumed watching as her dream self drew closer and closer to Spike. “Wow, I didn’t realize just how much down time I was spending with him!”
“You relied on him quite a bit there at first,” Joyce nodded.
“It was nice, peaceful. I didn’t have to do or be anything except just be me. He made it better.” Buffy frowned and wondered why it all had changed so drastically.
“Was it the sex, Mom? Did I turn into the monster this time when I had sex?” Buffy shuddered at the thought that she might be doomed to repeat variations on her first experience her entire life.
“No, sweetie,” Joyce sought to reassure her. “You were filled with fears and you were also unable to deal with what you had started to feel for Spike even before you died. Better just watch, honey. Just remember that the softer feelings weren’t there for you like they should have been, but the fear was easily tapped into.”
Buffy smiled as she watched the budding relationship with Spike, the relationship she scuttled by demanding the physical release and withholding the emotional. It had been sweet and unforced. She could watch and see a traditional courtship between a loving man and a fragile girl laying the sort of foundation that could easily last a lifetime.
Spike was on his knees professing himself her slave in a voice that was surprisingly melodic. She saw the torment in the vampire’s eyes as the words spilled from him like rain on a parched earth. She so needed and wanted the love he was offering, even though she could feel nothing except trepidation at what it might mean.
“Yet another thoughtless act by one of your friends,” Joyce commented. “Dawn nearly became the forced child bride of that creature and I certainly have no desire to be a mother-in-law to some Broadway wannabe!” Joyce smiled as Buffy laughed at her lame joke. “Did Xander even ask how many people died thanks to that little attempt to cure his cold feet?”
“No, not really.” Buffy scrunched her brow as it occurred to her for the first time that no one had ever called him on it!
“Well, it stands to reason,” Joyce offered. “Xander has created mayhem more than once with no repercussions. This last time led to painful deaths though. You’d think that at least Mr. Giles would have brought it to Xander’s attention.”
Joyce gathered her nerve and tackled yet another illusion that needed to be shattered. “Buffy, have you given any thought to Anya?”
Buffy shook her head in confusion. What did Anya have to do with this dream and its importance to her life? “I thought these dreams were supposed to be about me, Mom. Anya isn’t even that close a friend!”
“Maybe she should be, actually. You have a valuable resource in this thousand-year-old ex-demon that none of you have ever tapped.” Buffy looked thoughtful at that. “That isn’t what I mean right now though.
“Anya was a vengeance demon for eleven hundred years, sweetie. You’ve heard her stories, proudly told, of the killings, the maimings, all in the name of vengeance. Anya has never once expressed any regret over any of those, has she?”
“No. We usually just ask her to shut up about it,” Buffy admitted. “Xander gets really nervous, even more than when she starts in about orgasms. I think he hates to remember that she was a demon once.”
“Sweetheart, none of you will let Spike forget for a moment the fact he was a killer when the demon was in charge,” Joyce began, “But none of you even mention Anya having been a killer when her demon was running the show.
Spike has been a vampire for one hundred and twenty two years. He hasn’t killed for the last two, but we’ll go ahead and count them anyway. If he killed five people every single day of those years, he may be responsible for two hundred twenty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty deaths. That’s a lot of blood and likely overstated. Still, if Anya was only responsible for a death a day her total would be nearly double that and that doesn’t even take into consideration her assertion that she was responsible for the Russian Revolution!”
Buffy had a look of shock on her face as the amount of shed blood became clear to her. She barely registered her mother continuing, “Your Angelus was killing for twenty-five years longer than Spike before he finally stopped and those last two years he had his soul!”
“No, Mom,” Buffy insisted, “Angel stopped killing when he was cursed!”
“Not really,” Joyce reveled. “He continued to travel with the others and tried to adjust by killing criminals and the like. Darla didn’t put up with that for long, but he was still killing humans.”
Buffy suddenly pictured a scene in a Sunnydale alley with Spike sputtering indignantly while holding his pain-riddled head. “You’d think if the government was gonna put a chip in my head, they’d at least make it so I could attack criminals and that sort.”
Buffy felt embarrassed to remember her sarcastic reply. “Yes, because muggers deserve to be eaten.” Spike had to have known she didn’t know about Angel’s two souled years of killing, yet he had not said a word. ‘Probably knew I wouldn’t believe him.’
“Buffy, you need to learn that you have to leave the past in the past. You have to accept people the way they are now and realize they can change. Not one person is perfect; no one has led a perfect life,” Joyce admonished. “Accept Anya as she is now and treasure the knowledge and friendship she has to offer. Likewise, you must put Spike’s past in the past and judge him by his current actions. You know he has changed. It isn’t the chip anymore; it’s love for you and Dawn and it’s also because he’s socialized with humans again. People are more than just food to him again and he’ll never go back to what he once was.”
“You sound like Rafiki, that baboon in Lion King with that big stick, telling Simba ‘it’s in the past’,” Buffy smiled. “Glad you aren’t whacking me with a tree limb.”
“I prefer to avoid corporal punishment,” Joyce laughed.
Whether it was from the memory of that exchange in the alley or Buffy no longer paying attention to the previous scenes, the revue moved ahead to her encounter with Spike outside the museum later that night. “God, I said such awful things to him!” She saw Spike on the ground as she threw out the words ‘evil, disgusting thing’ all because Spike had dared remind her of their kisses. Kisses she had instigated, truth be told.
She watched as DreamBuffy walked off and Spike realized his chip had not fired during their tussle. She watched in surprise and fear as Spike stalked a timid version of herself and attempted to terrorize the girl. She also noted the way Spike seemed to have to talk himself into the Big Bad persona that had once been second nature to him. In the end, Buffy was left to think the girl was saved more by Spike’s lack of true desire to kill than the fact the chip did work. She had the feeling that even if Spike had started to drink from the girl, he would have stopped before draining her. The torn emotions had been too clear on his face. The act was an attempt to live down to the epitaph she had given him.
Buffy began to squirm as she realized the scenes that were soon to come. The wild, feral sexcapades that made up the next several months of her encounters with Spike were branded in her mind. Somehow the HBO NC-17 festival of images weren’t what she wanted to be viewing with her mother. “Um, Mom, do we have to actually watch this?”
“Well, sweetie, we have a different way of looking at some parts of being human once we cross over, but I remember that it might be embarrassing with me here,” Joyce sympathized. “If you need to recount some of these moments, perhaps I should give you a bit of privacy.”
“I think I know what I’d learn anyway,” Buffy admitted. “Spike really loved me. He made love to me each time, even if I was just using him. I was a mean bitch. I said and did hurtful things every time. I always left him hurting but with just enough hope to stick around.”
“Well, that is one way of looking at it,” Joyce agreed. “You might also realize that Spike really understood you. He knew you wouldn’t allow yourself to feel anything real for him, both out of fear and because of the history you had with Angel. He hoped in time you’d care enough to overcome it, but he was willing to be whatever you needed in the meantime.”
Joyce looked closely at Buffy before making a suggestion. “Why don’t you tell me anything else you’re noticing for the first time in remembering those events?”
“Well, my friends are idiots,” Buffy snorted. “I mean that time when I was invisible and Xander was looking for me. He walked in on me and Spike, and there is no way he couldn’t have added that one up!” Buffy had to laugh at the way Xander had grasped onto Spike’s alibi that he was doing pushups in bed. “They can’t be that stupid! Willow and Xander, at least, had to have suspected that Spike and I were…well…,” Buffy trailed off.
“Yes, you are all far too good at lying to yourselves… and to each other, for that matter,” Joyce nodded.
“And I did keep saying ‘can’t’ instead of ‘don’t’ when I told Spike how I felt,” Buffy realized.
“And he knew just what that meant too,” Joyce added. “He knew you were deliberately not letting yourself feel love for him. He didn’t know any more than you did that you couldn’t, not then anyway.” Joyce knew that Buffy would have had a hard time allowing herself to feel love for Spike even if she had been whole. Coming back incomplete had made it impossible, however.
“He did matter, though,” Buffy reminded her mom. “I finally saw how I was hurting him and stopped it.”
“What about the way you hurt him the most?” Joyce prompted.
“You mean when I beat him nearly to death and left him in the alley?” Buffy was deeply ashamed of that primitive act of violence and uncaring. Spike had been trying to protect her and she hadn’t even thought to be sure he got out of that alley alive!
“No, sweetheart, Spike could always take your blows. It was the words that pierced his heart from the start and did the most damage. It was when he was a human too,” Joyce confided.
Buffy remembered their first morning after. It had been a strange parody of HER first morning after, when she awoke to Angelus. Just as Angelus’ words had ripped away the joy she had felt after their shared intimacy, so too had her words ripped Spike’s crumbs away. ‘Convenient …freak show …evil …disgusting…the list went on and on.’ Buffy looked stricken. “God, I wasn’t that mean to him before he got the chip!”
“It was the fear talking, dear. You were reminding yourself of the reasons you shouldn’t give your heart to him. You were wrong, of course,” Joyce suggested. “He was very hurt, but he did know what you were doing. Those miscommunications where your words were so different from your actions did lead to that last awful misunderstanding just before he left though. Spike thought he was reading you right by reading your actions and discounting your words. That led to a tragic decision on his part to ignore your words when you really did mean them.”
“Yes, I see that,” Buffy said sadly. “I knew it that night. We were both at fault there and while what he did was wrong, it was also amazing. Spike’s chip didn’t work on me. If he really hadn’t changed, he should have been no different from the vampire I first met, a killer with a slayer fixation. Instead, he never hurt me, never tried to turn me. He never even licked any blood when I’d get hurt on patrol!
“When he tried to force things in the bathroom, there was no reason for him to stop except that he had changed. Sure, I knocked him off of me, but the look on his face, Mom!” Buffy looked deeply into her mothers understanding eyes. “He was horrified at his actions! He was the one yelling ‘monster’ at himself, not me. He should have just pounced back on me and done it, but instead he tried to apologize and ran off in horror. What kind of vampire is that?”
“It’s Spike, Buffy. You can’t just say ‘vampire behavior’ any more than you can ‘human behavior’ and have it fit,” Joyce counseled.
“He was as scared as I was,” Buffy realized.
“Spike doesn’t go back on his word and he had promised never to hurt you,” Joyce explained. “He was shocked that he had done so. He really thought he could control himself better than that. He always had a tight grip on his demon, after all. Angel lost control of his with just a kiss, but Spike held back even when the two of you were beating on each other. He was shaken to the core, both by what he had tried to do and by his inability to continue. Spike suffered a major identity crisis that night. Finally, he saw that it was not the chip, but that HE was not the same Big Bad character he had cultivated for a century.”
Buffy was silent for a while as she thought back on the wild ride that had been her affair with Spike. Now in touch with her ability to love, she could see the missed moments, the feelings that had taken root even with her disability. She could see that there was love in her heart for Spike, love that might have grown in a healthy way had she been whole. She began to weep for them both and pray that it was not too late.
Joyce could see that Buffy was right on the brink. She had taken each lesson to heart and come to the correct conclusions. Now to drive the last points home. “You know that it was more than the rejection of his love that hurt, don’t you?”
“Huh?” Buffy asked, startled. “What could I have done worse than that?”
“Buffy, this isn’t judgement, remember,” Joyce reminded her. “The bigger hurt was the complete rejection of even his friendship. Remember how you treated him after you broke things off? Remember when you were stung by that unpronounceable demon and mentally ran in chase of a normal life?” Joyce prompted.
Buffy saw the scene play out. One minute she was sitting in relatively companionable silence with Spike, having just told him of the wedding fiasco, and then along came Willow and Xander. Xander had taken a cheap shot at Spike, as usual, and instead of just admitting she had been having a friendly chat with Spike, she had said, “I found Spike and was just trying to figure out what kind of dangerous contraband he had.” Buffy could see the betrayed look on Spike’s face as she placed him firmly in the category of ‘enemy, not to be trusted’. He had passed that point at least a year before when he had helped take on Glory.
“God, I’m so weak, Mommy,” Buffy wailed. “How can I face down demons and hell gods but be so afraid to even claim Spike as a friend?”
“Well, your reaction to the poison explains that. You were even willing to submit to life in a mental hospital rather than admit the less-than-normal parts of your life. It was a last gasp of that old dream everyone had that you could somehow be happy just being an ordinary girl. I think you’ve gotten past that finally. But I don’t know if your friends ever will, Buffy. It’s up to you to decide what you want and stand firm,” Joyce counseled.
“Okay, so now I can see that I can love Spike. Easily,” Buffy sighed. “Maybe I already do. Anyway, I can and it even makes sense, given our history.”
Joyce nodded her encouragement to Buffy’s journey into awareness.
“I see that I was pretty screwed up, but Spike got that, so we can work it out if he’s willing.” Buffy was nervous at that thought.
“Naturally he’s willing; he loves you,” Joyce said.
“If I ever see him again,” Buffy cried.
“Are you willing to be strong for him this time, as he was for you?” Joyce asked.
“What do you mean, Mom?”
“I’ll only show you the next part if you’re really willing to commit to working this thing out between you,” Joyce stated.
“So, you’re down with this then–me and Spike?” Buffy asked for reassurance. After all, her mother giving approval for her to have a relationship with yet another vampire was mind boggling, considering Joyce’s reaction to Angel.
“Buffy, I am not as deluded as when I was there. I’ve seen things from a different perspective. You are the Slayer and that means you live a very different, very violent, very dangerous life. With Spike at your side, you have a chance to not only be happy and fulfilled, but to actually live a fairly long life,” Joyce explained. “What mother wouldn’t want that? Besides, I always did like William.”
“Okay, bring it on. How can I fix this?” Buffy girded her loins for whatever her mom had to share next.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/116164.html