Entry 2 - Intentions
Anya held the letter out of Spike's reach. "No joke. I need someone to watch the shop for a couple of hours. Xander and I have a meeting with the caterer. Buffy's working and I trust you with the cash register more than I trust Willow with the merchandise. Besides, being here isn't good for her recovery. So, since I'm letting you use this address for a mail drop, I think you can do me the favor of watching the store this once.
With a sigh, Spike relented, figuring the letter was more important than the indignity of playing shopkeeper. "You can hang your coat on the rack, and I've left instructions on how to write up sales and run credit cards," Anya said as she headed for the door. "Use your discretion if anyone wants anything from upstairs; I think you have an idea what's dangerous."
She paused on the threshold. "And, Spike, I know how much is in the register."
With that, she was gone, leaving Spike alone in the shop. Grumbling, he hung up his duster and returned to the counter where the letter lay waiting for him. He should be glad she hadn't insisted he wear an apron or one of those stupid tags Buffy had told him about -- "My name is Spike. Ask me about our curses!"
He opened the envelope and extracted a few sheets covered with Giles' impossibly tiny writing. He'd been waiting weeks for the response, popping into the Magic Box through the sewer entrance every few days, trying to pick the times when it was most likely no one but Anya would be there. Which is how he now found himself manning the shop during the mid-afternoon when all good vampires should be asleep in their crypts. Ah, well, his sleep cycle had been shot to hell months ago.
Dear Spike, the letter began formally, giving Spike cause to smile. Habit could be the only explanation for such a convivial greeting.
I will confess to some surprise and even a bit of pleasure at receiving your letter. Communication from Buffy and the others have been spotty at best, so any news is welcome. I'm certain Anya is currently driving you all mad with the wedding preparations. Well, perhaps not you since I don't believe you're part of the wedding party, but given your proximity, I seriously doubt you will escape unscathed.
I received my invitation, but I must confess to some trepidation as to whom she might be planning to invite from her acquaintances. After a thousand years of being a vengeance demon, I'm certain some of her friends are interesting. There are moments I wonder if Xander truly understands what he's getting into. Demon/human matches are never easy and very few of them ever work out, though I have some hopes for this one since Anya has chosen to live as a human.
By the way, if she hasn't mentioned it, I'm certain Anya will include you in the list of those whom she expects a gift from. She and Xander have registered at Robinson's-May, so be forewarned.
Spike frowned. The watcher was probably right, and a gift wouldn't be out of line if he wanted to stay on Anya's good side. Not that he cared, personally, but it could be important to Buffy.
The bell over the door tinkled and three girls entered, busily whispering to each other and giggling. They were about Dawn's age, he reckoned, and immediately headed for the table not far from the counter where Anya had arranged a display of candles. Keeping one eye on them to make certain they didn't nick anything, Spike returned to his letter.
I'm sorry to hear about Tara. There's a certain steadiness about her I had hoped would be a good influence on Willow. However, even without her experiences with Glory, the idea of having one's memories manipulated by someone you care for is repugnant and I respect her decision. If you should see her, please give her my warmest regards.
As to Willow, it is precisely as I feared. When she performed the resurrection spell, she was working with forces she truly didn't understand and it has left its mark. Perhaps I am to blame for all of this. I should not have allowed her to perform the ritual to restore Angel's soul to him; she was not ready for such forces. Since then, she has been steadily increasing in power with no true guidance.
Although I do not know this "Rack," I have an excellent idea of the type of lowlife you are describing, having had my own experiences with that element. I fear you are right in your assessment that she has not seen the last of him -- or of Amy. If Willow's power is now truly out of control, Rack will be drawn to it, and he may threaten to cut off her "friend" as a way of compelling Amy to bring her back. And yes, I do know the story behind her ratting, and there are a few items you should know as well.
A burst of giggles, and Spike looked up to discover the girls were casting surreptitious glances in his direction as they pawed through the set of candles that were supposed to help one's love life. Unable to resist, he flashed them a smile and they dissolved into more giggles before turning away to chatter among each other.
Amy's mother was a powerful witch who managed to wreak a great deal of havoc and pain with her pursuit of her youthful dreams. When we attempted to break the transposition spell she had cast on Amy, she attempted to kill Buffy, but only succeeded in destroying herself. Amy, despite her own trauma, seems to have followed in her mother's footstep. You might recall the love spell which had every woman in Sunnydale -- including Drusilla -- pursuing Xander. Amy was responsible, and turned Buffy into a rat. Later, she used the same spell on herself and was unable to reverse it. Willow took care of her until, well, such time as she managed to uncover the reversal spell. Watch for her; there will likely be more trouble.
I must thank you for confirming what ritual Willow used to bring Buffy back. Not surprisingly, the Council is highly interested in Buffy's return and are busily involved in their own research. I used your information to steer some of my friends in the right direction without mentioning the source. I didn't think you would particularly mind if the Council didn't know of your involvement. The spell is indeed a powerful one, with a heavy cost to those who use it. I imagine Willow kept most of the details from the others, though Tara should have had an inkling and Anya certainly should have known better. Anya was probably also the source for the artifact they used; not all of her suppliers are above board or human.
It is no mistake that you and I were excluded from this plan. Dawn I can understand; she had been through enough and it would be best not to get her hopes up. But we would have tried to stop this insane plan and Willow knew it. You know how powerful blood magic is; it is, after all, at the very heart of a vampire's creation. Despite our differences, I do believe you care enough for Buffy that you would not have risked the possibility of her coming back wrong.
The girls approached the counter and Spike reluctantly put the letter aside. "These are supposed to help make a boy fall in love with you, right?" the leader asked as she put the candle on the glass top.
A quick sniff told him they'd grabbed the combination of vanilla, cinnamon and amber, a scent designed to invoke passion. He considered telling the girl what she wanted to hear, but looking at the long dark hair and eager eyes, he decided she was a little too young for passion. "Not the best. Try this."
He moved from behind the counter and fetched another candle from the display. This scent was lighter, purer, a blend of ylang-ylang and moss, suitable to promote mild romantic and happy feelings. "If it's love you're wanting to find, this should work much better. And this," he hefted another candle, "will help reinforce it. Light it first and extinguish it last."
Spike did not mention that his second suggestion would provide an aura of protection for any silly spell they might be considering. It'd be best to tell them they were too young to be dabbling in such things, but he had enough experience with Dawn to know exactly how well that would go over.
With the sale rung up and the sound of giggling thankfully absent, Spike returned to the letter. He was nearing the end and he hoped there would be no more interruptions.
What you write about Buffy concerns me in more ways than you can imagine. I had hoped that my departure would help her see that she needed to take more control and interest in her life; I fear I was wrong. Perhaps I should have stayed, tried to talk more directly with her. Difficulty is, every time I attempted it, she shied away, content to let things rest in my hands. Even after that appalling incident with Dawn at Halloween, she preferred to leave the discipline to me. I should let you know that I heard Dawn complaining to you on the back porch later that night about how mean I was to her. Hopefully your speech on why vampires are bad and what boys really want took root better than mine.
As to the other matter I imagine it will not surprise you that I was not particularly cheered by what I read. Firstly, Buffy's behavior is quite out of character and may be the sign of another, more serious problem. Secondly you were frank with me, so I will be frank with you. I would be happier if you were far away from Sunnydale and from Buffy. I think a relationship with you is the worst possible thing for her to be involved in at this or any other time. That your chip does not appear to work on her does nothing to ease my worries. Your behavior in the past regarding Buffy has been reprehensible and somewhat unstable. Nor is that my only concern. You are a vampire. She is the Slayer. I have never believed that such a relationship is either feasible or desirable. And before you convince yourself that this is simply because I do not care for you personally, let me add that I had many of these same objections regarding Angel.
Unfortunately, for all my objections, I have no power to stop whatever relationship the two of you are engaged in at this point. As you so rightly pointed out, the time has come for Buffy to stand on her own, make decisions and stand by the consequences. That you wrote me about your concerns has eased my fears slightly -- but only a little.
I do make this promise: if you harm Buffy in anyway, if I hear you have mistreated her or harmed her or Dawn, I will not appear in Sunnydale to stake you, assuming Buffy does not do so herself. That would be far too simple and too painless. But you will pay.
If the research on the Protocols yields useful information, I will let you know. Please, write again. Much as I dislike it, you are my only correspondent and my only coherent source of news and I would like to remain abreast of the latest developments. I will end now, as I would like to post this before it rains and the clouds are gathering. Are you familiar with Bath? My flat is near the Crescent and I am within easy distance of the old Roman baths.
Spike folded the letter and slipped it into the pocket of his duster. Glancing at the clock, he wondered how long before Anya returned and he could get away. He needed to think and he desperately wanted a cigarette.
Continued in Entry 3 - Research