Chapter Ten: Smoke
“Good morning.” I reach over and kiss him. “Last I recall we were up to no good at your crypt. When did we come back here?”
He rolls onto his back, stretching like a cat. “I carried you here while you were sleeping. I knew you wouldn’t want to stay at my place, when you need to be here for Dawn.”
He looks absolutely gorgeous, tousled with sleep and bruised and battered a bit from last night. I run my hand across his stomach and chest. “Sexy and thoughtful. Who knew?” I kiss him again, this time more intensely.
Spike smiles, then lunges, rolling on top of me “I’m very thoughtful. Chock full, in fact, of some very entertaining thoughts.” His eyes are dark with lust. He looks down at me, licking his lips. Holding my hips and rubbing his stiff cock against me, he leaves no doubt of what he has in mind.
He leans his head forward and sucks in my nipple, his hand trailing down to caress my clit. He continues rubbing against me, the movement making me warm with desire. I feel him harden even more as I grow wet, and then with one quick movement he is inside me.
I reach up and grab his shoulders, digging my nails into his skin. He still suckles my nipple in his mouth, bracing himself against the bed with strong arms. He moves slowly in and out, in no hurry. Letting my nipple free with a small pop, he gazes down at me as if I am an object of worship. If I ever doubted his love for me, it is there, radiating out from his eyes in waves of adoration. He moves his hips in circles, staring at my face. His movements grow deep, faster, building upon themselves in gradual cycles. When I can wait no longer, needing to come, I slowly rake my fingernails down his chest. I watch him begin to fall apart and pull his mouth down to mine. His body jerks and shakes, taking me over the brink, undone by the intensity of his orgasm.
I break free of our kiss, gasping for breath. A gentle tapping knocks at the door. “Buffy?” asks Angel’s voice.
“Coming,” I squeak, in a high-pitched voice, still lost in orgasm.
“Damn right you are,” growls Spike. He nips me on the neck and I moan.
“Um, I’ll be downstairs. Tara’s making pancakes,” says Angel, his voice sounding oddly distorted. His footsteps hurry away.
Spike still moves within me, drawing out every drop of pleasure for us both. We both sigh and curl together for a moment. I feel utterly at peace with the world. Then it sinks in. Angel. Angel, someone I used to love, right outside my door, hearing us moaning. Knowing we were-
“God, how embarrassing. Poor Angel, ” I say to Spike, pulling away. “He can’t have what we have. It’s not fair to rub his nose in it.”
He gives me an icy look. “Right, pet. Wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of the same sod who fucked Dru six ways from Sunday within earshot while I was in a bloody wheelchair.”
I’m a little thrown by this. He’s still jealous about Drusilla? Isn’t he utterly over her now?
Getting up, he stalks over to the door. “Spike, you’re naked…”
He opens the door to reveal Cordelia exiting the bathroom in the hallway. Cordy gives Spike the once over. “Hey, Buffy, good for you. I mean, really. The boy is hung like-“
Spike slams the door in her face and turns back to me. He is blushing from the roots of his hair down to his chest. “Wow, Spike. I didn’t think vampires could blush.” He looks like a cherry tomato.
Shooting a glare at me, he pulls on his pants and shirt. After throwing on some sweats, I go over to him.
“I know you’ve got issues with Angel, “ I say. “I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to feel that way. But all three of us have done some pretty awful things to each other, so we’re all just going to have to let go of the baggage.”
Spike looks down at me, thinking hard. He pulls me tightly to his chest. “As long as I have you, I can try to be the better man.” He looks down at me, smiling. ‘Of course, taking the high moral ground will be an new experience.”
Holding hands, we go downstairs. Cordelia, Willow and Dawn are having breakfast. Angel is holding his son, feeding him a bottle. He gives us a dark look, but doesn’t say anything.
Willow looks up at me. “Xander is coming to move out my stuff. I’m going to stay with him and Anya.”
She gives Spike a look of seething hatred. ‘He’s asked that Spike not be here.”
“Xander telling me not to have my boyfriend in my own house? That’s so not gonna fly.” The boy’s lost his mind.
“Try having respect for someone else’s feelings, Buffy. It’s a human trait, and I’m guessing you’ll need to be working on those now.” Shoving her chair back, Willow leaves the room, stomping up the stairs. Distantly, her door slams.
Dawn looks up from her plate, her eyes sad. ‘I wish that everyone could just get along with each other. I hate all the fighting.”
I pat her on the shoulder. ‘It’s okay, Dawnie. Things will be back to normal soon.” I stop, considering that. “Well, not normal, but as close as it gets for us.”
“I wish she wouldn’t leave,’ Dawn says. “Dad, Mom, Tara, Willow. And you were gone…” She looks like she is going to burst into tears. “I have to go to school. “Grabbing her backpack, Dawn dashes out the front door. Turning to Spike, I sigh. “Well, that went well.”
Tara comes in from the kitchen, bearing a platter of pancakes and a paper sack. “Round or funny shapes, I made both. Eat up,” she says, putting down the platter. Looking around, she turns to me. ”Where is Dawn? I have her lunch.”
“Thanks, Tara. I’ll catch up with her.” Grabbing the sack, I run out the front door. Dawn is just turning onto the sidewalk.
“Dawn, wait. I have your lunch here,” I call. As I walk towards her, I feel odd. My skin feels heated, like I have bad sunburn.
“Buffy? You’re smoking.” says Dawn, her eyes wide. I look down at my hands, seeing the smoke rising up.
“Oh My God,” I scream, as I turn and run back to the house. I feel the heat rising as I run. Clouds of smoke surround me, making it hard to see. I trip and stumble, finally making it up the stairs of my house. I am screaming, over and over, burning with pain. “Stop, drop and roll,” says my mind, as I collapse inside my open door. I feel my back ignite into flame.
‘Christ, Buffy!” Spike yells, as something presses down on my back. The last thing I hear is my sister’s screams, ringing in my head. I fall through spinning stars, landing in a blanket of darkness.
Later, I hear distant voices, echoing from far away. “You have to take her to a hospital,” I hear Xander say.
“They won’t know what to do with her, monkey boy. Not to mention, taking her back outside will cause her to burst into flame again!” Spike’s voice is dripping with sarcasm, and an undercurrent that I can’t place.
“And whose fault is it that, huh?” says Xander. “You got her into this mess. This is your fault, Spike! You did this to her. Just to satisfy your filthy-” I hear a scuffle, and the two large thumps.
“Knock that crap off, now!” growls Angel.
I hear sobbing in the background, familiar cries falling and rising. Dawnie? I try to lift my head, but it hurts too much. The dark is sweet and soothing, and I drift back into it.
My love lies on her stomach in her metal bed. She looks so delicate and frail. The skin of her back is glossy from Tara’s salve.
I turn to Tara. ‘What did you say was in that stuff?”
“Comfrey, coltsfoot, heals all. Just herbs, ordinary stuff for healing spells. Plus dragons blood, yarrow, mandrake root. Angel told me to what to put in for the vampire side of the house.” She gives me a smile. ‘We’re covering both bases.”
“I never wanted this to happen to her, Tara. I wanted her to acknowledge the darker part of herself, to feel an affinity for it. I never wanted it to swallow her, to eclipse her humanity entirely.” I look over at Tara, and her face is full of understanding. “The binding, Tara. It can’t be undone. But we have to do something.” When I look at Buffy, all I can see is my sweet vibrant girl, trapped in darkness forever.
“We need to talk to Giles, pick Angel’s brain, research on the Internet. Fuck, let’s hop on the ouija board and channel Darla and the Master,” I go on. “ I don’t care what we have to do. We need to see if there is any way around this.”
I think of Drusilla, of the message that she sent me. She knew this would happen. One of her visions, no doubt. She had seen the claiming come to pass, and the affects of it. Most likely, she really did know how to undo it. But what would be her price? “She deserves better than this. It takes too much away from her.” I press a gentle kiss into Buffy’s hair, and stand up. “Tara, I need a smoke break. Can you call me on my cell phone if she wakes up? I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Tara looks up at me, holding Buffy’s phone. “She’ll probably sleep for a while. She needs her rest. But I will call if anything changes before she gets back.”
Walking through the house, I step out into the bright light of day. The wind rushes around me. It is a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and here I stand. I am surrounded by the glory of a Southern California day. I can’t think of anything I have enjoyed less than this. The price of admission for this moment has come at much too high a cost.
Snapping open my Zippo, I light my cigarette and breathe in deeply. “Spike?” says a small voice.
‘Dawn?’ I turn and see her peer around a corner. “What are you doing here, love? Xander dropped you at school an hour ago.”
“I couldn’t just sit there not knowing what was happening.” Her long hair blows in the breeze, falling across her trembling lips.
“Niblet, you know that if you ditch school it’s only going to make things harder on Buffy. Give her more things to worry about,” I tell her in my best “parent” voice.
Dawn turns her back to me. Her breath hitches and I realize that I have made her cry. I toss aside my cigarette and wrap her in my arms. “Shh, sweets, its alright,” I say. “ I’m a sodding idiot, pay me no mind. I wasn’t trying to make you feel worse. This whole thing’s not your fault.” My throat tightens. “It’s mine.”
“I don’t blame you Spike,” she says earnestly. “I think Xander and Willow are wrong. I know how much you love her. I know you’d never hurt her.”
“But I sure enough did a good job of it.” I kiss her forehead. “Don’t worry, pet. I’ll get this figured out and she’ll be right as rain.”
I lead her into the house. Angel is talking on the kitchen phone. “Yes, we need a California King delivered today. Uh huh. You got any sheet sets? Uh huh? Okay, I’ll make another call for that. Be here by three, I’ll throw in an extra fifty bucks.” He hangs up the phone, making a notation on a large sheet of scribbled notes. “Well, it was handy of Willow to clear out today,” he says. ”Cordelia is tired of sleeping on the cot in Dawn’s room and I’m sick of sleeping on the couch. “
‘So you’ll be sleeping with Cordy in that nice big bed?” It seems unlikely, but who knows?
He shoots me an exasperated glance. “No, I’ll be sleeping on the other bed that is being delivered. We’re setting up camp down in the basement.” He gives me an appraising look. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to L.A. anytime soon. Which is actually good. With you and Buffy here, it’ll be the last place anyone will look for us. So, Cordy and I are getting comfortable. Buffy had said we could stay as long as we liked. So, we’re going to. Beds, crib, clothes, couch. It’s all coming today.”
Cordelia comes in, carrying Connor’s baby carrier. The baby is wide eyed, sucking happily on a pacifier.
Angel sighs. “I told you, Cordy, I don’t think pacifiers are good for the baby. And he should be in his baby sling. Dr. Sears-“
Cordy holds up her hand. “Stuff Dr. Sears! I’m not buying any of that attachment parenting crap. Dr. Spock was good enough for my parents-“
‘What does Star Trek have to do with taking care of a baby?” I honestly don’t see a connection there.
They give me identical glances of infuriation. “Uh, I’d better get back to Buffy,” I mutter.
Dawn and I retreat hastily, leaving Mum and Dad to duke it out downstairs.
Tara is laying crystals around Buffy’s body, waving a smoking stick of sage in the air. A black cauldron next to the bed holds herbs smoldering on the red-hot coals within. “Great mother, hear my plea…“ Seeing us, she waves us out of the room.
Dawn looks up at me. “There doesn’t seem to be anything for me to do.” Her face is tight with strain. “I can’t deal with this, Spike. I need things to stay the same. I’m tired of everything being up in the air all the time. I just want something normal.”
“Everything will work itself out, love.” I try to think of something fun to do. “You want to play some cards? Paint our fingernails?” I get a faint smile out of her, and then a shake of the head. “Why don’t you rest, sweets? I’ll come and get you as soon as anything happens.” She shuffles down the hall. The door closes behind her, and the faint strains of Enya pour out. I remember Joyce playing it when she was feeling blue, and when she was sick.
Going into Willow’s empty room, I brace my back against the wall. I bang my head against it, over and over again. The pain is familiar, reassuring even. I slam my head against the wall until it is wreathed in a dull throbbing pain. I feel something snap inside of me, and I hear myself sobbing, sobbing so mournfully. I cry, waves of tears that seem as if they will never end. Grieving, again, for Buffy.
I am lying on a bed in the middle of Spike’s crypt. The sun shines through the windows and the open door, hitting my skin. It feels soothing and peaceful. My lover lies next to me, staring at me. I reach out and touch his hair. “Time to go, sweetness,” he says. “We have places to go, disasters to avert.”
I smile at him, still feeling heavy and drugged with sleep. “I like it here. Things are better, easier.”
Spike’s eyes are dark and deep, and seem sad. “We need to face the world, slayer. We can relax after everything gets worked out.”
I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him close. “I’m tired of dealing with the world. I just want to stay here with you.” He kisses me, the sweet gentle kisses that I love best. After a few minutes, he pushes me away, sighing.
“We have forever to kiss, love. But there are some kinks that need working out.” He reaches over and scoops me in his arms. “Time to go.”
“I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy.” I am exhausted, much too tired to go anywhere.
He looks down at me, his face pained. “Do you want to drink?”
“I do,” I say, realizing that is what I need, what I’ve been missing.
Settling me down in the pillows, he moves to cut his arm. “Not there. I want your neck.” Staring in my eyes, he tears open the skin of his throat. Pulling me to him, he holds me tight as I seek out the wound and drink. With every sip, I feel stronger, clearer, better in every way. When I am fully satiated, I let him go. His head is thrown back, his mouth wide with the pleasure of our embrace. The wound in his throat is nearly closed.
He lifts his head, looking at me with eyes a deep turquoise. “We have to go now, Buffy. I need you with me.” I rest my head on his shoulder, feeling replete and content. I edge back into slumber.
Grabbing me by the shoulders, Spike recites the blood vow. “For love I have claimed you. By blood I have bound you. Return to me.” I feel myself pulled towards him, returning to the missing part of myself, and becoming whole.
Suddenly, I am elsewhere. I am lying in my bed. “My back hurts.” Spike gently helps me sit up. He hands me two pills and a cup of water. “Take these,’ he says, and I do. “The pain will be better in just a few minutes, love. We have to get you dressed and downstairs.” His tone is dark and serious. He looks at me. “Your father is here.”
“Why is he here now? He didn’t even come for Mom’s funeral.” I roll my shoulders, wincing with pain. “I don’t think I can do this, Spike.”
“You have to, pet, “ he says. “You have to put on a good show for your Dad, right now, or we could lose Dawn. Why else would he show up here today?” Spike bandages my back and dresses me in an oversized black silk shirt. He pulls soft suede slacks up my legs and guides my feet into black leather mules. He takes me in the bathroom, and I am pleased to discover that I can walk on my own.
Spike brushes my hair gently, smoothing it back with a wide headband. With delicate strokes, he blends foundation into my skin, covering the pallor with a healthy tint. He powders my face softly with the puff of my compact. He smoothes blush on my cheeks and eye shadow on my lids, even lining my eyes with a steady hand. Lastly, he fills in my pale lips with pink, expertly tracing their shape.
“How do you know how to do this?” I ask curiously.
He looks at me, eyes blank. “Drusilla. She wasn’t always in control of herself, but I knew she always wanted to look pretty. So I made sure she did.”We go downstairs. No one is in the living room. Sitting at the dining room table is Dawn, and my father. Spike looks at me, and I nod reassuringly. He walks into the kitchen.
“Hi, Dad.” He looks up at me uncertainly. Coming over to me, he gives me a tentative hug. It is so gentle; I don’t even feel any pain.
He pulls out a chair for me. I sit down, looking up at him. “Before you say anything, Buffy, let me tell you about my day. I get in this morning from a business trip to Spain, and there are two messages waiting for me. One is from your friend Willow, telling me that you girls are in trouble, and the other is from your friend Xander, telling me I need to come to Sunnydale. I go to a briefing, am gone two hours, and then I get a phone call from Dawn. A very illuminating phone call, I might add.”
He shoots me an icy look. ‘I know exactly what’s going on here, young lady.” My father leans forward, staring in my eyes. “You have been trying to play the hero. Trying to solve all of the world’s problems. You think that it’s up to you to slay the demons for everybody else?”
Taken aback, I start to interrupt. “But Dad, I’m the-“
He hits his fist on the table. “Shut it, missy. I know the score. Dawn explained to me exactly what is going on here. ”
I look over at Dawn, and she looks at me reassuringly, giving me a small smile. He reaches behind him and pulls papers out of a briefcase. “Dawn’s school records. Abysmal. Your school records from UC Sunnydale. Doing fantastic until your mom fell ill, then you withdrew and didn’t sign up for the fall semester.” He takes more papers off the table in front of him. “The mortgage on the house has fallen behind. There is nothing in the bank, nothing in savings. I understand that your mother’s car was repossessed over the summer.” He looks up at me, sorrow in his gaze. “I can’t even begin to tell you how horribly disappointed I am.”
I thought there was nothing else that my father could ever say to me that would hurt so much. I was wrong. I feel the tears burning at the back of my throat, and I try with all my might not to cry. Not in front of him. Not again.
He gently puts his hand under my chin and pulls up. His eyes are so much like mine. “I am so very disappointed in myself, Buffy. I let you down, and I let Dawn down.” He looks down at his hands, his fingernails bitten to the quick. “I let your mother down.”
Leaning back, he sighs, running his fingers through his hair. “It never occurred to me to dig deeper. I assumed that what Dawn told me all summer was true, that things were just hunky dory here. I should have known that you girls had too much pride to come clean.” He smiles at us both. “Summers pride, girls. That, you got from me.”
Reaching back in his briefcase, he pulls out more documents, and three checkbooks. “The mortgage is paid off, Buffy. I spoke to the lender this afternoon, and it is taken care of.” He tosses Dawn a set of keys, and places another set in my hand. “Cars for you both. You’ll need them to get between home and school.”
He hands me a set of forms and catalogues for UC Sunnydale, handing another packet to Dawn. “Buffy, I expect you to select your classes as soon as possible for the spring semester. You have been reenrolled, but the classes are filling up quickly. Dawn said that evening classes would be best for you, and there seems to be more availability in those anyway.” He picks up the schedule of classes, showing me where he has highlighted class sections. “These are the next series of classes for your psychology major. You should focus on those first, I think.”
“Dawn and I discussed this and she would like to go to Mission Grove Prep here in Sunnydale. She will be a boarding student during the week and is free to come home on weekends. This way, you will both have the time and energy to focus on academics and lead your own lives without worrying about each other every minute.”
He hands me the checkbooks. “One of these is for household expenses, one for yours and one for Dawn’s. There is ample cash in these funds for the next semester, and the same amount will be coming until you are both done with school.” He rests his finger together on the tabletop. “I expected you girls to show some initiative. You have done that, and I am so proud of you both. But you need someone to take care of you. Right now, that’s me.”
He gives Dawn a hug and kisses her cheek. “I want a word alone with your sister, sweetheart.” She leaves the room, looking over her shoulder at me.
“There is something going on here that I would like an explanation for, Buffy.” Dad looks at me searchingly. “I know you’re an adult, and you don’t answer to me. Both Xander and Willow said that you were in a bad relationship, that some guy was making you do things that you don’t want to do. That he was a monster.” My father’s brow wrinkles in consternation. “But Dawn said that you were in love with Spike, the same Spike that I’ve been hearing so many good things about from her for years now. I know how much he helped her through the rough time she has after your mother passed. So is he the monster that your friends say that he is, or is he a good man?”
My father looks at me seriously, and I can tell that whatever he has failed to do before, he cares. He really is concerned.
“Spike comes from kind of a rough background,” I explain, searching for the right words. “He made a lot of mistakes. But he really has changed. He loves me, and he loves Dawn. I would trust him with my life.”
“Are you really serious about this boy? In a long term kind of way?”
I smile at my dad. “As long term as you can get, Dad.”
He pats my cheek lovingly, and then rises. ‘And what this Xander fellow said about Spike being violent, attacking him?”
“Well, Dad, Xander accused Spike of just using me for sex…”
He holds up his hand. “Say no more, honey, please. Good for Spike. I’d have done the same thing.” He smiles at me. “I shouldn’t have doubted him, based on gossip alone. But you know that old saying, ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’. Just wanted to look out for my girls.” He stops, looks at me questioningly. “I think you may need to reevaluate who your friends are, honey. I don’t think those two acted very loyally, coming running to me telling tales.”
Dad frowns, looking at his watch. “I’m taking Dawn over to Mission Grove. The headmistress is expecting us for dinner at her home in a half hour. Then Dawn’s going to spend the night over there, meet her new dorm mates.” He gets up and goes in the kitchen and I follow him.
Dawn and Spike are eating peanut butter out of the jar. She is speaking in a low voice, brandishing her spoon in punctuation. Spike’s eyebrows are raised high, looking completely shocked.
“I think it’s time we met, young man,” says my father, in a serious voice.
Spike jumps, startled. “Yes, Mr. Summers. I’m, uh, Spike.” He offers a peanut butter streaked left hand to my father, and then offers his clean right one. My father shakes his hand firmly.
“You got any other name, son, or is it just Spike?”
“William, sir,” says Spike, his posture stiff and formal.
“That’s a bit more like it,” My father says with a grin. “Makes you sound like a real person instead of something you’d find at the hardware store.”
A tiny smirk passes over Spike’s face before he quashes it.
“Dawn? Can I speak to you outside for a minute?” I ask. Dawn and I go to the back porch. We both look up for a moment, watching the stars twinkling in the night sky.
She turns to me, clearly scared. ‘Do you hate me for calling Dad? I just didn’t know what else to do to help you, Buffy. Things have gotten so screwed up.”
“No, Dawnie, no. I haven’t been taking good care of things since I got back, or before it, really. Calling Dad was what I should have done, a long time ago.” It hurts to admit that I haven’t been doing as well as I wanted to. “But going to boarding school, Dawn? Are you just trying to get away from me because you’re afraid of me?” My voice starts to crack as I say the last words, and she pulls me into a hug.
“I’m afraid for you, Buffy. I lost you once and I can’t bear to lose you again. You need to figure out all these changes that you’re going through, and to how to deal with them. I don’t want to see you hurt, not physically and not with all the fighting. “ She sighs. “And I don’t want to hurt you too, Buffy, but I need more than this. I need to be a normal girl for a while, and I can’t do that here. Not while all of this is going on.”
“And you think you’ll like it there?” My voice is tinged with disbelief.
“Janice’s mom sent her to board at Locust Grove after Halloween,” she tells me. “She really likes it there, and we’re going to be roommates. It’s going to be great, Buffy.”
“And if you hate it you’ll come home?” I know the answer, but I need to hear it just the same.
“Cross my heart, Buffy. I’ll always come home to you.”
She hugs me again. She smiles at me, dangling her car keys. “Can we go see the new cars now?” Grabbing my hand, she pulls me around the side of the house, giggling like the teenage girl she is.
Continued in Chapter Eleven: Old Friends and New