Setting: Post-Older and Far Away
Entry 6 - Reasons
The cheeriness in Anya's voice made Spike pause on the steps that led down into the central portion of the Magic Box. A grim-faced Whelp seated on a stool in front of the counter did little to reassure him he wasn't about to be accused of something.
Even as he hesitated, Anya was around the counter and grabbing his arm to pull him forward. "I need your opinion on something."
Xander just looked grimmer and Spike had the terrible feeling he was about to be used to settle an argument. A wedding-related argument. "Um, vampire, remember? We're not known for our taste."
"That's for sure," Xander grumbled under his breath. Spike decided it wasn't even worth it.
"Nonsense. I've known lots of vampires in my thousand years, and a great many had wonderful taste." She indicated the fabric samples on the counter. "Xander and I are having a disagreement as to whether or not the napkins should match or contrast with the tablecloths. I'd like your opinion. The green is the color of the tablecloth."
And a hideous green it was. What was it about becoming a vengeance demon that gave women such awful taste? Wait. If they'd exhibited good taste in, say, men before they became vengeance demons, they wouldn't have taken such a route. "Um, matching?" Spike offered, wondering whose side he'd come down on. Matching wasn't great, but it was better than the alternatives.
Xander looked relieved and a moment of male solidarity was achieved. "See, Ahn? Even Fang Breath thinks we should do matching."
It clearly wasn't the answer she wanted, given the way Anya was pouting. "If it was up to you, what would you choose?" she demanded.
"Classic white." He flashed her a smile. "Anything other than that would have me poor mum rolling in her grave. Anything from Giles?"
Anya reached over to pull an envelope from the space next to the cash register and thrust it into Spike's hands. "I should have known better than to ask another man."
As he beat a hasty retreat toward the front door, Spike heard Xander saying, "He has a point about the white…"
Glad to have escaped the land of wedding preparations, Spike wandered down Sunnydale's main drag, heavily populated in the early evening. He was eager to read the Watcher's latest news, but he didn't feel particularly like wandering back to his crypt. The night was pleasant, hinting at an early spring.
On a whim, he stopped at the Expresso Pump and ordered up a large cocoa. A single sip told him it wasn't anywhere near as good as Joyce's, but it did buy him the right to occupy one of the establishment's tables and he claimed one that allowed him a clear view of the people strolling by. Settling into one chair, he propped his feet on another and pulled the envelope from his pocket.
Glad to hear that you received the thesis and I do understand your difficulties in getting through it. Miss Chalmers' style is, unfortunately, just as solid as her research. The comments will be welcomed. She knows I maintain some form of contact with you (though I have intimated it is through Anya rather than directly) and was pleased to learn you'd begun reading.
Feel free to make as many comments regarding Angel as you wish; they will be more than welcome. There's been an increased interest in him due to certain recent events and several younger members of the Council, Miss Chalmers among them, are competing to see who can produce the best paper. I am certain that your particular…viewpoint of Angel will be greatly prized, and I trust you will express yourself in your own inimitable style. I, for one, would like to hear the origin of the nickname "Peaches."
So the news of Angel's fatherhood had made it across the Atlantic; it was the only possible spin Spike could put on the phrase "certain recent events." Not surprising, really. Every demon on the West Coast knew and more than one had been more than happy to communicate the news to Spike -- at least until he made it painfully clear the topic was off-limits with him. He'd spin Miss Chalmers a right pretty tale about the Great Poof, include all the embarrassing details he could remember. Rupert should enjoy that.
There are more mentions of Angel to come; I especially look forward to your comments on the theory that Angel sired Drusilla out of his jealousy over your liaison with Darla.
Spike choked on his cocoa and barely managed to avoid upsetting the cup as he hastily set it down. Darla? Him? Sure, when they were drunk and Angelus wasn't available, but he'd spent a hundred years blotting out those particular memories.
Wait a sec. He reread the paragraph and smiled. The Watchers' precious records had gotten it wrong yet again, and Giles knew it. Spike wondered if the theory was Miss Chalmers' or belonged to someone Giles had a particular dislike for. He'd have to skip ahead to check.
The Council continues to plod on the subject of research into the protocols of Osiris, and I have formed my own small group to see what we can uncover. This is strictly unofficial, so not all of the material is available to me, but we will do what we can. There are certain items the spell requires and I need to see if you can uncover where Anya procured the Urn of Osiris and what happened to it after the ritual. This could have a powerful impact on our findings.
I certainly hope someone is actually watching Willow when she's allowed in the Magic Box, rather than just accompanying her and leaving her at the table once they get inside. There's a reason why I put the more dangerous texts and items upstairs and I imagine Anya would be the first to notice if she tried to go up there. However, even the simplest of spells could prove destructive in her current state. I fear the only way to "cure" this is for her to go back to ground zero and decide whether or not she really wants to do magic and why. Given life on the Hellmouth, I imagine there are numerous temptations vying for her attention.
Which brings up a point I've been pondering, Spike -- just how much magic do you know? You seem to have a fair knowledge of the demon world and I know you have done at least one major ritual, but how extensive is your knowledge? When Willow's spell blinded me, you seemed to have a good idea where to look for a reversal spell. I'm asking partly for my own curiosity, but also to know how to explain what I do uncover.
That brought a frown to Spike's face as he wondered how much he should share. He couldn't lie and claim he'd done little or none, as Giles would see through it instantly. He had to know how much research had gone into the ritual to restore Dru's health and that it wasn't something to be undertaken by a rank amateur. Of course, Red had been close to that when she'd ensouled Angel and only a little better when she brought Buffy back.
As to Dawn, it was probably best that you enforced Buffy's desires as to her visits to your crypt. I do hope you are making some time to visit her, though, as you said you would attempt to; she grew quite attached to you during the summer and I have the feeling from your letters that Buffy might not be providing all the attention that she needs. If more comes of the Social Services issue, please let Buffy know I'd be happy to do what I can to provide a reference for her. I know she won't tell me herself until too late, so I fear I will have to rely on your good graces once more.
I must confess that the anniversary of Joyce's death had slipped my mind. Strange, but sitting here so far away, it's easy to think of her as still with us, perhaps just stepped out to the kitchen to fetch more tea or cocoa. She was a great source of strength and I sometimes wonder if Buffy has ever truly grieved for her loss.
Joyce and I did discuss you once. It was after the disinvite spell, though I'm unsure as to whether it was before or after you spoke with her. She was worried -- and with some justification, I might add. Angelus caused her a great deal of distress when he told her that he and Buffy had been together and with the death of Jenny Calendar and his other tricks, she was not at all happy at the idea of yet another obsessed vampire stalking her daughter. To my surprise, she was upset you had behaved in such a manner because she held a genuine affection for you, far more than she ever did for Angel. I believe she hoped the two of you could make your peace with one another eventually.
Spike blinked and the words on the page momentarily swam out of focus. Dear Joyce. What would you think of me now? I hope you know I'm doing my best with your girl and I'll make her happy if she lets me.
I've wired a request for flowers to Sunnydale Florists to mark the anniversary and sent word to Anya to pick them up and make certain they're placed on Joyce's grave. Could you please check with the florists before they close that evening and deliver them if Anya should forget? I didn't think you would mind the imposition.
Once again you prove to be my only source of news, much to my annoyance. I have heard nothing from Buffy regarding the incident with the girl you describe, though her behavior is not as out of character as you might think. Remember Faith, the rogue Slayer we were looking for at one point? After you had left Sunnydale the first time, Faith worked with us for a while. She was somewhat uncontrollable, giving in to her darker impulses and one night accidentally mistook the Deputy Mayor for a vampire, plunging a stake through his heart. The man died and Faith disposed of the body over Buffy's objections. Faith turned rogue shortly thereafter, joining forces with the Mayor. To make a long and complicated story short, she is now serving time in prison for what she did, but not before causing a great deal of havoc and emotional upset.
Spike frowned, remembering. He'd snarked at Giles' request for help, saying he'd point the girl in their direction, but he'd walked away with a firm intention to avoid the woman. Rogue slayers were nothing to laugh at; he'd seen only one, a girl in Chicago during the Twenties. He had watched her fight four of his minions at once, high on bathtub gin and cocaine. Angelus would have been impressed with her viciousness.
It was just his luck; he'd tried to help Buffy and bollixed it in more ways than one. How was he to know Faith had committed murder? He'd been fruitlessly chasing after Dru at the time.
Buffy felt very strongly that Faith's behavior was wrong, that she should have gone to the police immediately, even after I told her the Council had ways of dealing with such matters. Believing herself to be in a similar position, I have no doubt her first instinct was to turn herself in and that she was unhappy with your efforts to help her. She might have well viewed a confession as a possible escape from her current unhappiness, but it is also in keeping with the girl I know. For what it's worth, I believe you were honestly acting in her best interests -- the repercussions you mentioned with Social Services were all too possible, especially when one considers Buffy was previously accused of Kendra's murder.
It made some sense, but Spike couldn't help but think Giles was wrong in this. That Buffy would be horrified at the idea of causing an innocent girl's death he had no doubt, but Giles hadn't seen how she'd been that night. More than ever, he wished the man hadn't decided it was necessary to return home.
In other ways, however, I fear your behavior may be less than helpful. I am not at all surprised that Buffy is feeling some separation from Xander, Willow and the others -- I imagine she still harbors resentment toward them for bringing her back. If you encourage her to slip away from them, no matter how delightful the process may seem to you, she won't have a chance to work through these feelings. Will her friendship with them be the same as before? I doubt it, no matter how hard they try to make it so. Too much has happened for them to fall back into the simple, trusting ways and I predict stormy weather before all is done. Buffy needs to face her issues, rather than hide from them.
As much as I don't wish to pry, you mentioned the existence of a bond between yourself and Buffy. I will accept your statement that you have done nothing that would allow blood to call to blood (and yes, I know exactly what that means -- the by-product of being too well read on the subject), but I cannot help but find myself curious as to what could be causing such a pull. Aside from the obvious, can you think of anything that might be the source of this?
Poor man; he really didn't want to know about Buffy's sex life -- probably didn't want to admit she had a sex life -- but his concern was obvious. Spike hadn't given the words a second thought when he'd written them, but they'd clearly sent Giles into a panic. He was probably imagining some horrible dark ritual Spike had performed without Buffy's knowledge, evil doings that should not be spoken of by any decent man. Likely the Council had books full of such things, locked away in a "special" section where those who were too innocent for such prurient knowledge could not be harmed.
With a chuckle, Spike reached for his cup. If he was cruel, he could have a great deal of fun with this. Of course, too much fun and Giles would appear in Sunnydale to stake him. Discretion was the better part of valor.
A card has been dispatched for Buffy's birthday. Let me know what disaster decides to befall Sunnydale this year. As you might have noticed, her birthdays never pass quietly.
He folded the pages and tapped them idly against the table. They were speaking past each other at the moment. Was it because of the distance that separated them or because Giles didn't want to see how tangled the situation was? Spike didn't want to believe the latter and knew it wasn't merely the former. Maybe it was him projecting his own fears onto the situation. Maybe he was so deep into the thing that he couldn't see straight.
It hadn't been his intention to open this dialogue with Giles, merely to get help. Now he found himself enmeshed in a conversation that was veering far from its original course. Unfortunately, what he'd said in that first letter was still true -- he needed to talk to someone, and no one in Sunnydale would do.
"Taking up public space now?"
The voice brought Spike out of his reverie. Xander was standing on the street side of the low cement wall that surrounded the Expresso Pump. "Man's got the right to enjoy a cuppa, Harris."
He reached for the cup and shook it to find it empty. Shoving the letter back into his pocket, he stood, eyeing the trashcan thoughtfully. He was about to attempt a basket when one of the servers stopped and held out her hand. With a shrug, Spike handed the cup over and prepared to leave.
Xander was still standing there as he reached the sidewalk. "I think Anya might be re-thinking green for the tablecloths."
"Where the hell did she find that color? I've seen six-day corpses that looked better."
Xander shrugged. "Must be Martha Stewart's color of the moment. What can I say? I'm just hoping that once this wedding is over, some sanity will be restored."
Spike snorted. "This is Anya we're talking about, remember?"
There didn't seem to be anything else to say, so Spike started away down the sidewalk. After a moment, he heard Xander call after him. "Spike."
Wondering what could possibly be going through the Whelp's head, Spike turned back, fully ready to fall into a nasty mood. Xander didn't speak immediately, staring at the sidewalk. Then, he looked up. "I wanted to say good job the other evening -- with the thing and all at Buffy's. Glad you were there."
It wasn't actually a thank you, but it came pretty damn close. A hundred smart replies flitted across Spike's brain and he rejected them all. "Not a problem. 'Evening, Harris."
With a smile and a touch to his forehead, Spike headed on down the street. If Xander could say a kind word, maybe there was hope after all.
Continued in Entry 7 - Many Happy Returns