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She came into his tent when it was all over and wrapped herself around him, a warm body in his arms so that he would have liked both to be hers, his midnight lady, and to bite down. Her flesh looked yielding as it melted into his own. Whatever she’d wanted him to understand the other night in her eyes. Someone save me, he thought, from falling in love with such deadly women.
Spike lay awake. Incessant hunger panged, and so it took him longer than altogether necessary to recognize that something was off. To his shame, it wasn’t until a shadow flickered across Buffy’s bare arms that he took note, and then something thudded sickly within his center, as if his heart still beat and everything. Imagine that.
He couldn’t be certain, but he thought he recognized that shadow.
Silently, he left the tent. The night was cool. Mist clung to his skin, and even his gaze couldn’t cut through it entirely. He saw only a tree with sparse branches, a rock, the other tents. The nearest one with the flap open. With foreboding, he held it back and looked on in. Two Slayers, and sod him, but he couldn’t have recollected their names worth anything. Broken necks. He stared for a moment at the cheeks that were still a cheery pink, as if in admiration, and then stepped back hurriedly.
“Come, now. You would look away from such things?” Drusilla said, next to his ear. The tent flap blew in the breeze.
He found then that he wasn’t surprised to have her show up in this place, his lover for over a century. She’d been so constant. Still, he touched her face to know that she was real, and then didn’t know what to do when she was. Her own cheek was pale and tepid. “No,” he said. “No, I—”
He thought then of that girl. Vi. How had he forgotten her name? Nearly killed her himself and now her blood was cooling in her veins.
“You’re so very lost to me,” Drusilla said sadly. “I had thought otherwise. That perhaps— but no. The hand has been dealt. The King of Cups has—”
“The King of Cups can stuff it up his arse. Why did you do this?”
“Don’t be cross. Nasty little Slayers lying about in every which direction. I couldn’t bear it.”
Someone stirred off to the left. On instinct, Spike took his mistress’s hand and dragged her into the woods. They watched, her predatory, he something not entirely separate from that, as Buffy left the tent, rubbing sleep-swollen eyes. “I can’t bear it either,” he said, and hid his face in her hair that smelled of lavender, old wool.
“Shush. You don’t have to. I found you. I found you, even here at the end of everything. Come along with me, sweet. There are tea parties in the streets! Everything’s gone red. We can be for each other what we once were.”
He wondered at this. With Drusilla, he’d made love for the first time, awkwardly, insatiably. He hadn’t quite known what to do with himself or his hands, and so she’d shown him. How to come and how to cry. His mother, his lover. His sweet dark voodoo goddess, dancing for rain. He made the mistake of voicing his enchantment with her. “Human emotions,” Darla had scoffed, and left him in the cellar for five days, or six, perhaps longer. He couldn’t be entirely certain. By the end of it, he would have gone for any throat that crossed his line of vision, pulseless or not. Of course it was Drusilla that they sent down to free him from his constraints.
It was just that he’d been so goddamn hungry, that he’d—
She leaned in and kissed him then, hard. Her lips were cold and rigid and he was unaccustomed to that by now. Unbelievably, perhaps for the first time, he broke away, saying, “It’s a nice thought, love. But I’m not what I once was, you must—”
“No?” she asked slyly.
“Dru, damn it—”
“I see,” she said at his impatience, and in the next moment her face abruptly changed in all kinds of ways.
Then she was at his throat, like before, like that time of being born, but all he could think of was himself at hers, the tearing of that flesh, and then for awhile there was a kind of peace.
Harris was the one to find him.
Spike didn’t know this until they’d stumbled halfway somewhere, and the person holding him upright had to pause to readjust his hold on blood-slick skin, and Spike saw a shape, blurred and distorted. Dark hair. The boy?
“Wanna sit,” he managed. This feeling like being much too drunk, forehead to sidewalk. His mind wasn’t quite so peaceful anymore.
It was Xander, manhandling him awake. “Look, whatever got a hold of you comes back for seconds and we’re both dead. Keep moving.” In the end Spike tried his best, but tumbled right to the ground anyway. Predictable. Ribs shifted upon impact, splintered, poked at internal organs. To his utter humiliation, all he could do was lay there and weep at the pain, shallow, tearless sobs that hurt worse than anything.
The boy pat at his shoulder awkwardly, which probably spoke to the level of fucked he was at. What had she done to him? He recalled nothing beyond that first love-bite. “Okay. Okay, I’m going to get Buffy. Hold on.”
Time passed, and then there was another hot hand at his shoulder, hers. She propped him up against her and then waited while he choked on blood. Her heart was as a hummingbird. She said something, perhaps his name. Trying to answer her, he choked on even more blood. He couldn’t breathe. He didn’t have to, but that didn’t matter, he couldn’t breathe. He gasped for air anyway, inanely.
“Spike, shh,” he heard. “Listen to me. I brought you this. Here.” And she tipped something to his lips, which were numb and bloodless. Penny scent. He batted at her as best as he could.
“N-no, no, no,” he chattered, feeling everything inside of him slipping out red. No more.
“Shut up!” she hissed abruptly. “You need this!”
“C’mon, Buff,” Harris cut in. “He’s—”
“A moron is what he is. Spike, I swear to God, if you don’t drink this—”
“What the hell are you trying to pull? At least tell me what did this to you.”
He debated lying, but found he couldn’t. “Dru.”
“Dru,” she echoed after a pause. “Drusilla’s here. She did this?”
“She killed—” he tried to say, tried to tell her who, but he’d lost the name again. He was shivering, ice in his gut. He shouldn’t be cold. Vampires didn’t get cold. He recalled telling her that, (I’m dead, aren’t I?) and it was true, but he was shaking just the same. Everything jostling against everything else.
He bit his own lip straight through, feeling the Slayer’s arm slip around him, hair falling across his face like a curtain. “We know. Everyone’s awake now, don’t worry. She’s lost the element of surprise. Just. Would you drink this? You’re driving me insane, here.”
“Vi. It was Vi. She killed her, and—”
“Her name doesn’t matter,” Buffy snapped then. “You have to drink this.”
Then that something at his lips again, (a blood-bag, he realized) the plastic not quite like skin, but slippery and almost, almost. He couldn’t resist then.
He could feel things knitting back together, sinew and muscle, his circuitry. His bones made a slow rasping sound as they realigned, like icebergs crashing quiet and white into each other. He had some time to listen.
At some point the witch came and waved her hands around a bit, which cleared his head a bit if nothing else. Enough that he not only heard, but saw. Enough that he knew. “Red, I have to see the Watcher, all right?” he said with a sense of urgency.
She pursed her lips, but left and returned with Giles, who crouched next to him with a cursory, neutral greeting. “Spike.”
“She been back?” He had no idea how long he’d been out and was certain he didn’t want to know. Losing time. He hated that, had ever since all that ugly business with the First, although perhaps this had potential to get even uglier, at least for him.
“We’ve had two girls doing sentry duty at all times. She hasn’t been back.”
“She will be, of course. You realize that.”
“Spike, we’re taking all the necessary precautions for the time being, but I really think we must consider the possibility that she hasn’t made it.” Giles looked at him carefully as if gauging his reaction. “Where would she take shelter, for example?”
“She’s mad, Rupert, not dim. Knows what she wants, that one, and whatever Lola wants Lola gets, right? Not just a stupid song, that.”
Giles sighed. “And what does she want, then?”
“It seems to me it’s probably safe to say, I don’t know—” He waved a hand at himself as best as he could.
“It seems to me it’s safe to say that she wants you dead.”
“She wanted me dead; I’d be dead. No, it came as a surprise to her, things not going her way.” He closed his eyes, said quietly, “She doesn’t mean to be so young, you realize. She just always was.”
Giles was fed up by now. “Spike, if you called me in here to commiserate—”
“I called you in here to— Listen, Watcher,” he ground out. “You remember her eyes. What she did to you. You tell those girls not to look into her eyes.”
“I’ve told them,” Giles said steadily, though after a faltering moment. “All right? Are we finished?”
“Tell them again, yeah? Stress the point. Make up some fancy tale; I don’t give a rat’s arse what you say, just make them see. They wouldn’t ask me to show off my fangs, would they? Same bloody thing. Tell them that. Tell them if they’re stupid enough to get themselves killed, I’ll sodding well kill them again myself. As soon as I can manage it, that is.”
“You’re really frightened, aren’t you?” Giles asked him then, as if in surprise.
Spike was sure that if the Watcher had ever written a book, he would have included this moment, a vampire showing such an unnatural emotion, but really everything he felt was unnatural, wasn’t it? Since Giles wouldn’t ever write a book now, Spike revealed, “’Course I am. I love her still.”
Giles seemed to breathe this in. “This won’t end well for anyone,” he said softly. “I know it’s not in your nature, but please, for all of our sakes, try not to do anything rash.”
“Can’t move, can I?” Spike huffed indignantly.
“If you have to choose sides, Spike, is what I’m referring to.”
“See, now that’s the awful loveliness of this whole situation, Rupert. No matter what I may feel for her, there’s no other side for me to choose, now. Soul and all.” As an afterthought, he added discontentedly, “S’like my love doesn’t even matter, innit it?”
“Don’t lie there and speak to me like you’re anything like noble, Spike. You killed a man.”
“Yeah? You would have killed me.”
Giles visibly drew away. “I had my reasons.”
“Be that as it may, I’m not some soulless creature anymore, am I? No, I have a soul just like yours truly. Might not want it around and mucking things up half the time, but that’s a different story. So, don’t you sit there and speak to me like you’re all high and mighty when we both know you’re anything but.” He had to stop then; pain lapped at him wetly. He felt as if he were sweating, terrible and feverish and he was losing himself to blindness again. The world swam.
The Watcher let him be for awhile, let that sit.
“What you did, Spike, was unprecedented,” he said finally. “Seeking out your soul. Remarkable, really. But what have you done with it? You keep on like this and you’ll be right: your love won’t matter.” That last part hit like a blow to those still shifting ribs.
It was a marvelous bloody parting shot, that, Spike decided. Couldn’t stop thinking of it after Giles left, thought of it the whole night long. Made his own just fall to pieces. Tactically brilliant. Tactics. Tactics. What course of action would she take? Whatever it was, he knew she’d go for the jugular again. Tactics. Think.
But in the end all he could think was your love doesn’t matter.
“This is always happening to you,” the Slayer said when she came to see him that first time after Red had done her bitty spell. She was clutching a fresh blood bag.
“What, getting beaten senseless by crazy hell bitches and the like?” She frowned at him, mouth turning down. “C’mon, love. I’ll be back on track in no time. An’ really, this kind of thing is almost like foreplay to Dru.”
“I don’t want to know that,” she said emphatically. “It’s wrong. And, ew.”
“Think of the things we did to each other, then,” he said before he could stop himself. Knew he shouldn’t provoke her, the subject, but sometimes he knew not what else to do with himself, especially all laid out like this.
She wouldn’t look at him, but to her credit she stayed put. “You want this?” she asked him eventually. He did. While he drank, she turned back to him and watched his throat work. “I do think of it. More, lately.”
He would have liked to ask her what she meant by that, but then Rupert was peeking in on them intolerantly. “Buffy, a moment?”
She gave him one final, thoughtful look. He averted his eyes, taking his last sip of O neg.
He got so that he could move again, albeit slowly.
Everyone was on edge and each time the Slayer saw him shuffling about like an old man she set her chin in a way that he recognized. He supposed she felt proprietary towards him; he knew that when he’d first set her in his sights, she’d been his to kill and his alone. When she’d died he wept, of course, because he loved her. She made him want to be that which he wasn’t.
Yet at least part of him had been thinking something else during that time, something perhaps more sinister than love, even. It should have been him.
Really, though. Could anything really be more sinister than love? He watched her often in those days when he could do nothing else. She’d withdrawn back into herself, a little. Her beauty was cold and was in her silence. It made him miss hearing her scream, scream for him, at him, didn’t matter, all night long screamingscreaming. What did that say about him?
He recalled Dru’s sly no.
He knew when she came back.
Something slammed open in his heart apropos of the nothing that was her return. Outside, he wasn’t at all surprised to see the current sentries crumpled across one another. One neck was twisted at an odd angle, like metal, like Buffy’s had seemed to be both of the last times The First had taken him out for a spin. Well, this didn’t bode well, did it?
“Four Slayers now, love,” he noted, dragging his gaze to hers. “Who would have thought you’d best me in such an arena? Pity you don’t play fair though, innit?”
He could tell one of them was still breathing strong at least. Poor, idiot children. Knew he should call out right then; Buffy and him could have taken her down together, certainly, but he didn’t, and Dru was speaking distantly already, not answering him, never answering. “I’ve decided what I mean to do with you.”
“What’s that, then?”
“It’s her,” she interrupted herself suddenly with condemnation, mercurial. “You reek of her. And it.” Her eyes widened. “Oh, William, what have you done? What have you done?”
She surged forward at once and her fingernails dug beneath his shirt, dug in. She clawed him towards her and he came. For a moment they stayed like that, flush to one another, skin and bone and breathless bodies, still as corpses, ha, and he saw that her eyes in that moment were clear, but more than that, entirely perceptive.
He regarded this, her. “But you already know what I’ve done, don’t you? How long have you known what would become of me?” He thought of his last breaths. Burning baby fishes, she’d said. Swimming all around your head.
She pressed her knee up against his groin. “Yes, yes, come out and play.”
“You duplicitous bitch!” he hissed, wrenching her hands from him. Tried to, anyway. He was still weak. Again he knew he should call out; again he didn’t. All he could think of was that neck twisted at that odd angle.
“There you are,” she said, seemingly pleased, even as she put the pressure on.
He moaned, made stationary. “How long?” he ground out. Burning burning burning burning, to Carthage then I came and got royally fucked over in the process.
“Don’t think me wicked, pet,” she implored him. “It wasn’t I who betrayed you.”
“Who was it, then?” he asked bitterly, but he thought he knew.
“It was you yourself, of course,” she said.
He jerked a bit at this answer, its plain truth, despite himself. “Be that as it may, we can’t— I can’t—”
Something in her face fell. “I do know,” she admitted at long last. “It isn’t that you don’t love me any longer.”
“No,” he said, taken aback, but quite honestly. “It isn’t that.”
She took that in, slowly, and seemed to come to a decision.
“Drusilla.” An inkling of fear niggled at his spine. She was a madwoman, his first great love. It wouldn’t do for him to forget himself here. But he’d gone and done it anyway, hadn’t he? “What—”
“Oh, oh. My Spike, did you truly think you could save the world with just the heat of your heart?”
“I thought no such thing,” he said, bewildered, desperate. “Dru, please, what do you mean to do with me?”
“I mean to— I meant,” she started over, her stare glossing over once again. “I meant to keep you forever.”
His heart, as dead as it was, seemed to spasm. “Oh, love—”
“Come then, look into my eyes,” she interrupted nearly inaudibly, and he was drawn once more to her gaze, which commanded him.
Fuck her to Tuesday, but she was putting him under thrall. He’d seen her do it enough times to recognize this, preached at the Watcher on the very subject, but she’d never turned on him in such a way. He’d never once thought she would. He tried to twist away from her but found himself immobilized. “Be in me.”
He was. And for a while, there was only that. White noise hissed in his mind. Rose to a crescendo. And he went under with her, once again. Deep.
When he came back to himself, Buffy was prying a splintered branch from his hands. He couldn’t seem to let it go, and clutched at it stupidly. When she finally wrestled it away from him she took it as her own. He looked at it in her hand, the way the wood bled black blood in the moonlight. Her pale white face.
He asked the question of the recently awakened. “What happened?”
The Slayer spoke quietly, perhaps in anger. “Drusilla took out some more of the girls.”
“I sodding well know that. Where the holy hell is she? Buffy?”
“You— she— Spike.” She floundered. Girls weeping to the side over the fallen. He heard and understood their grief in only a hazy sort of way.
“Spit it out, Slayer.”
“Spike.” She stumbled again, the way she did with him. Caught herself. “You killed her.”
Without thought, he hit her.
Her head snapped sharply, audibly, to the side, and what he could see of her eyes glittered. When she looked up, he had no name for the expression she wore, and wondered if perhaps that was what he had looked like to her during that time when she’d lashed out at him without provocation or reason. Thinking Break my face however many times you want, but we both know I’ll fuck you right back into the earth in the end, don’t we? and hoping it showed.
So he waited for her to hit him back, but she didn’t. That was a first, surely. What was this?
Oh Jesus, what had she said to him? What had she said to him?
“Yeah?” he asked blankly.
“Are you- are you all right?”
“I’m all right.” He stood up and started off past her, but he made a liar out of himself. His vision blurred; he knocked his shoulder into a tree and then had to lean up against it to get his bearings.
He kept going. She followed, not too far behind. At the circle around the bubblegum dead and wounded, all eyes met his. He saw nothing. Went back to the tent and fell into a terrible, dreamless awareness.
He remembered then, scatterings of snippets.
Love is not enough. You know that by now, surely. Silly boy.
Her blood calling his own, she’d made him push the wood through her heart. He understood that she’d wanted that from him, at least. He’d wanted to die once, hadn’t he? Of course.
The record in his mind skipped.
Do you want it? she’d asked him all those years ago.
Do you want it?
Do you want it?
The Slayer came in after him. Her lip was stained red. He was glad.
He wanted to
He would have liked to shoot the whole world down, but in the end all he had the strength for was the push her back and away.
There were splinters in his palms. They screamed at him. That old soul-burn. There was
A memory, of sorts: pressing his ear against the back of his childhood pet, its warm, sun-soaked fur. Grass smell. Watch out for the poison ivy, William. Don’t touch the nightshade. Don’t drink the water.
“Are you awake?”
He was. June bugs thumped against the tent-wall. Was it June, then? He hadn’t realized. “You ask stupid fucking questions sometimes.”
She shrugged, bit at a ragged nail like any sweet young thing. Took it. He was sorry for his words then and loathed himself for it. “Do you want to come with? For a walk? An actual walk?”
“Of course,” she said levelly. He saw then that the tent opened up to blackness, and nodded.
She took him to where the forest opened up to a field and sat down. He sat next to her. There was the smell of grass and something sharp beneath it. He closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said haltingly. “I am. I know that you— loved her.”
“Know I’m not supposed to love her anymore, right? But I can’t control who I— Can’t just shut it off, stop it, you know. I would if I could.” He laughed in a way that sounded alien to himself. “Of course you know. Of course.”
“I know,” she interrupted. “But I am sorry, and you can’t control that either, so just—”
“Sod off, Slayer - you hated her. You hated me with her.”
“You hated me back then, too,” she pointed out.
That was true. He pulled grass up by the handful as he redirected. “What will you do with the body?”
She wouldn’t look at him, or couldn’t. “We buried her earlier today. After.”
“Today,” he echoed flatly.
“Yeah. You were sleeping. I thought I should let you— sleep.”
He looked at her then emptily and something stabbed at him, despite the fact that his soul felt the way it did, atrophied. He saw that his fist had smudged her right cheek purple. Broken capillaries visible. She seemed strangely delicate to him in that instant, small and swatting at flies and all alone with such a creature. Under a full moon, even.
Her veins ran as blue and thin as spider webs across her neckline, and he leaned over and kissed her there. As he caught a sob in his throat, she caught the zipper of his jeans and unzipped him, unwrapped him. He was unraveling.
“Is this what you want?” she asked him softly, and with a pause that nearly did him in.
“Slayer,” he answered simply.
“It’s Buffy,” she murmured, and then she pushed him onto his back.
This would have been the point where he’d have taken her down at one point, taken her splayed out across the grain beneath a dead sky like a pretty little poem of violet and milk but by this point in time all he was able to do was say, “Buffy. Buffy, Jesus fuck—”
She slid down his body, hands went low, lower, and then her wet mouth found his cock and he looked up to find that swollen moon but couldn’t find it anywhere and he noted this absence and burst into helpless, awful tears.
She moved again, pinning his wrists in one hand while the palm of her other hand pressed flat to the ground, holding her up above him. He was inside of her and could do nothing but be in that moment, inside of her. Her eyes were open to him, and as green as the grass beneath them. Her hair tumbled into his face like a kind of benediction, sticking to his mouth, the tears on his face.
When it was over, he curled sideways into himself. Her arm wound round him, bruise-hot cheek crushed up against his back. Underlying the scent of grass, there was the smell of pine needles, cinnamon, rotted blood. Clutching at this earth, he wept.
It was overcast again the next day when she and Dawn took him to visit the newest shallow grave.
He was still a bit wooly on details, and on everything. “You’re sure she didn’t Turn her? Or either of the others?” he wondered anxiously.
“I’m sure,” Buffy said, though it seemed to him that she answered much too fast.
“Of course I— yes, I checked. Spike, she broke their necks.”
“Oh. Right, then.” He remembered as she spoke.
“Can you imagine?” Dawn asked, with something akin to awe. “A vamped vampire Slayer?”
It ran through his mind, a stream of consciousness: vampire slayer vampire slayer vampire slayer vampire slayer oh spike look at the wonderful mess you’ve made that’s a slayer you’ve done in a slayer a slayer a slayer a slayer a slayer a slayer
Continued in Part 5