Chapter Six: Drink Deep
A group of vamps sucks the life from a girl in an empty crypt. One feeds at her breast, one at her thigh, and one at her neck. They are all dead before they even know I’m there. Rivulets of blood flow from the girl’s body. She turns her head and looks at me. “The blood is nearly gone,” she whispers.
It is Drusilla. Sitting up, she stretches out her arms, beseechingly. “Help my child,” she says. Her face shifts.
“Hold my child,” says Darla. An infant rests in her arms. I take it, cradling it close to my chest. “He has his father’s eyes,” says Darla, in a voice filled with love. Looking down, I stare into the midnight blue of Spike’s eyes. I lose my grip on the baby, and he begins to fall. Slowly, slowly, he falls, and I am helpless to stop it.
I awaken to a knock at my bedroom door with a start, my heart pounding. “He’s here,” says Dawn, her face swollen from crying.
I kiss her gently, smoothing her hair. “Everything is going to be alright, Dawnie.”
I try to compose myself as I go downstairs. He and Cordelia are waiting there, Angel holding an infant in his arms. “You brought the baby,” I say softly.
Angel smiles at me.“Would you like to hold him?” I take a step back. “No, no thanks.”
I grab my coat from the banister. “Well, let’s do this thing.”
Angel kisses his child and hands him to Cordelia. “You know what to do.”
She sighs impatiently. “Yes, Mr. Overprotective, I can handle it.” She grabs the blue and white bunny blanket off his shoulder and steps into the living room.
Angel and I walk outside through the dark, quiet streets of Sunnydale.
“Seems like old times,” he says.
“Yeah, just like.” I wish it were like old times, it was a lot simpler then.
He gives me a thoughtful look. “How is he?”
“He’s worse. Worse than I can describe.” I find myself hurrying a little.
“I’m so sorry, Buffy." It seems like he really means it. "I came as soon as I could. Things are really complicated right now.”
I give him a small smile. “I understand complicated.” We reach Spike’s crypt. It is empty and bare, devoid of any personality.
We climb down the ladder to the lower level. The interior is welcoming, flooded with light. Tara is sitting next to Spike in his bed. She is reading to him from a book on her lap. “Come to me in dreams, that I may live my very life again though cold in death-" She breaks off, looking over at us.
Angel stares at Spike, his face rigid with shock. My lover is dying. His skin is as pale as the white sheets he is lying on, his cheeks sunken. There is no movement, no spark of animation there at all. His body has become a bloodless husk. I touch him, reaching out with my mind to feel the link between us. There is nothing there. “I can’t feel him anymore.”
Angel takes my hand. “Oh, Buffy, I didn't realize it was this bad.”
I drop his hand and move to Spike. “Please, just help me make him better.” Tara and I exchange a look. “Let’s get this started,” I tell her.
Tara sets down a wooden tray on the bed. With a long wooden match, she lights several tapers and a cone of incense. The smell of sandalwood permeates the crypt. Touching us gently, she marks a crescent moon on each of our foreheads with oil.
Next, she lights a bunch of sage. “Define our circle," she intones. White smoke fills the air, then forms into a visible barrier enclosing the four of us. “Lilith, we invoke you." She cuts her wrist, dripping the blood into a bowl, and repeats the action with Angel and myself. “Lilith, accept this blood as our offering.” She lifts the bowl with both hands. “We implore you to restore what has been broken.” The blood begins to spiral and churn inside the bowl.
A red mist envelops Spike. Beginning at his head, the mist swirls down his body. As it reaches his chest, it spits forth several splinters of wood. He shakes and twitches, his back arcing in a seizure. I move to go to him. “No!” says Tara firmly. “You must not interfere.”
The mist continues down to his feet and fades away.“With the force of love the claim was made, " Tara chants. "With the blood of the kindred the bond was forged. By the will of Lilith may the link be restored.” The bowl shakes and spins, the blood draining down to the bottom until it is empty. A metal chain appears on my wrist, the long silver links reaching to a similar cuff on Spike’s.
“Mighty Lilith, dark goddess, we thank you for your favor and entreat you to depart.” The bowl turns to dust in Tara’s hands. “Dissipate.” The circle around us disappears. Tara collapses, and Angel holds her up.
I lean over Spike. The bandages that cover his chest are intact. I rip them off, using them to wipe off the blood around the wound. As soon as I wipe it clean, it begins to seep blood again.I shut my eyes, pulling along the cord that ties me to him. I follow the chain, moving through a series of black rooms. All I can see is darkness. For what seems like hours, I search, finding nothing. I return to myself. “I can’t find him. I can’t find anything.” I turn and look at Spike. He is fading away before my eyes.
Tara takes my hand. “We’ll do this together.” She takes Angel’s hand. I take his. We form a circle, bound together. I am walking through the dark rooms again. “Illuminate,” says Tara.
The room floods with light.
She and Angel follow behind as I trace the chain to its source. We walk through room after room. Some are recognizable, some obscure. None seem familiar. I walk through a doorway and stop. The chain has ended in nothing. I look around the room. In the farthest corner, Drusilla sits next to a roaring fireplace. She is curled in an armchair, reading a book. I turn to Angel and whisper. “My chain has ended. But Drusilla is in here. Do you think she knows how to find Spike?”
Angel grimaces. “It’s worth a shot. Depending on her mood, we could just get a bunch of gibberish.”
He walks over to her, kneeling in front of her. “Hello, Dru.”
She drops the book in her lap, clapping her hands. “Angelus! You came for the farewell party for my William. ”
“Do you know where Spike is, Dru?” he asks patiently.
She nods her head, eyes flashing with excitement. “He was in all these lovely books.”
Drusilla gestures behind her to the empty bookcases. She holds up the one from her lap.
“Now there is only this one left.” Angel grabs it from her and tosses it to me.
Drusilla turns to stare at me, amusement washing over her face. “The quest is over, princess. The blood is nearly gone.”
I turn to Tara. “Get him out of there. Now!”
“It’s up to you, Buffy," she tells me encouragingly.
“I don’t know what to do.” I open the book on a table and look at it. There is a watercolor, covering two pages. A tranquil field stretches to a wide blue lake. At the edge, there is a figure. I lean forward, as if diving into a pool and find myself sitting on the grass, watching the play of sunlight on the water. Spike turns and smiles at me. His hair is a glorious blond in the sunlight. His cheeks bloom with health. He's wearing chain mail, bright and unmarked.
He reaches out and touches my face with a warm hand. The chain on his wrist pulls on mine. “I’m glad you’re here, pet. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” He kisses me, deeply and sweetly.
I grab his hand, placing it on my heart. “It’s not time to say goodbye. What we are. What we have. It has only begun.”
“Too much time has passed. Love has failed. The quest is done,” he says, staring at the horizon.
I stand, forcing him to his feet.
I pull my arm over his head, wrapping the silver chain around his neck. “Angel, Tara,” I speak in my mind. In my free hand a chalice appears, golden and bright. “Drink,” I say, raising it to his lips.
He looks into my eyes. “You don’t understand what this means, Slayer.”
Power rips through my body, blazing across the chain that connects us. The words come to me unbidden. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.”
His eyes blaze defiance.“You need to release me, Buffy. You don’t understand what you’re playing at here.”
I pull tightly on the chain, forcing his head downwards. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.” Slowly, unwillingly, he drinks. I release the chain.
The sun disappears under a cover of clouds. Darkness falls, a crescent moon visible in the sky. The wind whips the water into fierce, churning waves. Spike stands before me, his leather coat whipping around his legs. The moonlight reflects the stunning white of his hair.
His eyes burn into mine over the rim of the chalice. Draining the cup, he hands it to me. Blood stains his lips. “The ritual is done. The claim is made. We are bound, as one.” Jerking my wrist, he pulls me close. He whispers in my ear. “Bound for eternity.”
Continued in Chapter Seven: Ties That Bind