Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, UPN, Mutant Enemy, etc.
Summary: Spike’s holidays
Setting: Between Bring On the Night and New Year’s Day, 2003
A/N: All quotes from the dramatic poem “Pippa Passes,” by Robert Browning, which takes place entirely on one New Year’s Day.
* * * *
“…as we lay,
Rising and falling only with our pants,
Who said, ‘Let death come now! 'T is right to die!
Right to be punished! Nought completes such bliss
But woe!’ -- Who said that?”
* * * *
Spike looked more like himself, at least, Buffy decided, watching him sleep. His face wasn’t so puffy, though it was still purple with bruises; the elegant lines of his cheekbones were beginning to re-emerge. She found that oddly comforting. He had changed a great deal about himself – she didn’t yet know how much – but those cheekbones remained, a memento of the old Spike she’d known, and battled, for so long.
Despite the inconvenience, difficulty, and actual danger, she had insisted that Xander and Giles carry him, inertly draped on an old door they’d found and used as a stretcher, out of the basement, into Xander’s van, and, eventually, up to her own room. There was no such thing as vampire medicine; she couldn’t do anything for Spike except keep him warm and safe, and hope he got better. So that’s what she did, with an unspoken but passionate determination. More than once, Buffy had seen Giles, and Xander, and even Willow, look at her oddly, start to say something, and then stop themselves, as if aware of the futility of protest. But she didn’t care. No one understood. Perhaps no one could understand. Spike was hers now, in a way he had never been before, despite their capitulation to love and lust last year. Because of the momentous step he’d taken, for her, he had become her responsibility and her trust. He WOULD recover, in HER home, in HER bed. She was the Slayer, the one girl in all the world, and she would see to it.
Without warning, she felt his eyes on her. So, he was conscious – but was he himself? Very quietly, she moved toward the head of the bed, and smoothed a strand of hair back from his forehead with one finger.
“Spike?” she whispered. “Do you know me?”
Something like a smile touched his battered face. “’Course I know you, Slayer,” he murmured, his voice dry and hoarse. “It can’t fool me. Not anymore.”
Buffy smiled, trying to keep her lips from trembling; then she leaned over and kissed his brow.
“I know this is really you,” he rasped. That glow was behind his blue eyes, the glow she’d seen there ever since his return. And now she could finally admit that she knew what it was. Now she could show her faith in him. She let herself meet his eyes, open and unguarded; he continued, in a shaken voice, “Buffy, I think I can – I can see your soul.”
“I know.” She felt a tear slip down her cheek, and brushed it away with her hand. “I can see yours, too.”
* * * *
“…Though I be lost,
I know which is the better, never fear,
Of vice or virtue, purity or lust,
nature or trick! I see what I have done,
Entirely now! Oh, I am proud to feel
Such torments -- let the world take credit thence --
I, having done my deed, pay too its price!”
* * * *
He opened his eyes, momentarily disoriented. The room was dim, but he could see much better now, and even move a little without seizing up in agony, though the person speaking was outside his field of vision. Who was that?
“Wills?” he said.
“Buffy had to go out and, you know, kill stuff, but she wanted you try and eat something,” she said. She leaned closer, with something in her hand, and Spike could finally see her. The same Willow, red hair, green eyes, fuzzy pink sweater, and all – but sadder, and wiser, somehow, he noted with regret. She was too young to be sad and wise. “Or, I mean, drink something, I guess.”
With that, she held a straw to his lips, and he smelled the blood before he saw the mug she held. Fleetingly, he recoiled; but Willow’s expression was determined, and he forced himself to swallow. The girl was trying to help him, after all. It was only pig’s blood, heated to a comfortable temperature; but nowadays, he had to stop himself from thinking that pigs wanted to live, too. After drinking about half a mug full, he pulled away.
“I guess that’s enough for now,” she conceded, her tone concerned and friendly. “So, how do you feel, Spike?”
“Could be worse.”
“Gee, ya think?” she exclaimed. “Because you sure don’t LOOK like it could.”
“Guess I pissed off the wrong Big Bad this time,” he said.
He was startled to see Willow’s eyes grow large and soft. “Spike, Buffy told us – we understand what happened to you, how It was messing with your head, how It went for you, after you did – what you did.” Her voice was tentative, as always, but sincere. “I want to say – it wasn’t your fault. It really wasn’t. You would never betray Buffy. And she never doubted you, you know.”
In fact, he hadn’t known that. His heart swelled with aching joy – though he didn’t deserve Buffy’s trust, in the end, did he? “Thanks, Will,” he choked out. “But she must have told you – you must know what happened…”
Gazing down at her fingers, twisted together, she shook her head. “You wouldn’t have hurt her even when you were bad, on purpose, I mean. Some big evil MADE you do it. You had no choice. I know something – awful – happened between you and Buffy before, but I also know…” her color heightened as she continued, not lifting her eyes, “Believe me, I know, you can hurt someone you love so much, even when you don’t intend to.”
“I was sorry, about Tara,” he said, answering her thoughts rather than her words. “She was a good person.”
Then Willow did look up. “She WAS good. And I – I tarnished her love by what I did. I HAD a choice – I just made the wrong one.” Her eyes blurred with tears. “I can’t ever forget that. And I can’t ever undo it.”
“No, Will. No. She loved you, anyone could see that. She saw so much that was good in you.”
Both finding it difficult to speak, they were silent together for a few moments.
Then Willow said softly, “Maybe that’s what we all should do – find the good in each other.”
* * * *
“I cannot afford to cast away a chance.
I have whole centuries of sin to redeem,
and only a month or two of life to do it
* * * *
“Spike? Are you awake?”
He woke with a start, out of a dream of snowflakes in the darkness, and his mother’s voice, singing old, half-forgotten songs. “Niblet – I mean, Dawn?” he croaked.
He heard her approach the bed, and wondered warily if she was carrying anything flammable. Last time they spoke she’d made certain threats.
“Buffy said you shouldn’t try to talk,” she said, in a firm little voice. “But you’ve got to have food so you’ll get your strength back. And it’s not like I like you again, or anything, but it’s Christmas. So drink.”
Christmas? Good Lord, was it? He’d never even noticed. Dawn flicked on the bedside lamp, sat down near the head of the bed, and held the inevitable straw to his lips. As he obediently drank, he studied her. She looked apprehensive, but was putting a brave face on it, and he didn’t see the hostility she’d shown him previously. But they weren’t friends again, either. She avoided his eyes, and chewed her lip. After a few moments, he turned away, wincing.
“No more,” he said. “I can’t…”
She was quiet for a few moments. “Does it hurt?” she blurted out, finally. “It looks like it hurts.”
“Yeah, it hurts.”
“Why do you need all this blood?” There was a quaver in her voice, and her words tumbled over each other. “Buffy said there was hardly any blood left in your whole body. I don’t understand. What happened to you?”
Well, he’d always been honest with her before. “Drained it out of me, they did.” He gestured at his bandaged torso. “Before the rest of it.”
“The bad guys?”
He had to smile at that. “Yeah, the bad guys.”
“They needed a lot of blood in a hurry, I s’pose.”
“I mean, why did they hurt you? Weren’t you with them? On their side?”
That wounded him, as much as another blow would have, but Spike didn’t let himself react. Of course, she’d think that; why shouldn’t she? He closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see her stubborn, beautiful little face anymore.
“No,” he said tiredly. “I wasn’t on their side.”
Once more, Dawn was silent for a while. When she spoke again, her voice was small and uncertain.
“So It made you do things, like Buffy said? And you didn’t even know?”
“Yeah. It made me.” He fought off the growing weariness that drove him toward unconsciousness, and looked at her again. It hurt – God, how it hurt – but she should know the truth; she had a right to know what he really was. She’d come to trust him before, and it had only caused her pain. “But It probably couldn’t have, if I wasn’t bad to begin with. Soul or no soul. So you lot were right about me.”
“I don’t know,” Dawn whispered. “It made other people do things, too. It lies and cheats. I don’t think Jonathan was bad to begin with - or even Andrew. And…”
Damnation. It was hard to be self-sacrificing when you were constantly interrupted by irrelevancies.
“Who the bloody hell is Andrew?” Spike asked impatiently.
Continued in Part 3