Setting: Post-Normal Again
Entry 9 - Support
There was quite a bit of mail piled up on the floor under the slot, along with a few notices for packages being held because they couldn't fit through the slot. Spike scooped the material up and carried it to the counter. Quickly, he sorted through the stack: circular, circular, invoice, circular, circular, chamber of commerce birdcage liner, circular
The envelope was there, about halfway down, so he had no idea how long it had been waiting for him. For the first time since their correspondence had begun, Spike felt some trepidation at the idea of opening one of Giles' letters. He'd had few regrets in his one hundred and twenty-odd years; letting Harry mail his pitiful wailings was one. He couldn't remember everything thing he wrote, but what he did was pretty pathetic. How the Watcher would respond had been weighing on Spike's mind ever since.
Fairly confident that no one would interrupt him in the shuttered store as long as he didn't turn on any lights, Spike tore open the letter, tilted the pages to catch the filtered light from the windows and began to read.
My dear Spike,
I received and read both your letters. You may not believe this, but your news did sadden me, if only because of the pain it has clearly caused you. I am glad Buffy has broken it off because I feel it is the best thing for her to do -- which I am certain is no surprise to you -- but I am sorry for the manner in which it happened. While I may question some of your actions, I have come to believe you have honestly tried to make things better for Buffy and to care for her as best you know how.
Of all the things Spike had imagined Giles would write, nothing had prepared him for this. He swallowed, unable to continue for the moment. There was a part of him that longed for someone to acknowledge he was trying to do right by her, and here it was from the last person he'd expected it from.
The end of a relationship is never easy; it is far too easy to get caught in the trap of recriminations, bitterness and might-have-beens. From what I know of your history, while you have a number of years on me, I believe I may well be your elder in this arena. If you will allow, I would like to trespass on our familiarity and offer some advice.
I will not insult you by mouthing platitudes; the pain you are feeling is quite real and will not be dismissed by a few quaint phrases. Only time will dull the pain and that process is individual to each of us. Remember that for all she has been through, Buffy is still very much a young woman and finding her way in this world. For all the hellgods and apocalypses she has faced, she is still somewhat sheltered and unsure of herself. I say this not to excuse her, but to remind you that your own experience is much broader. Even laying aside the issues of a vampire and a slayer, you were reared in a very different time and place with a different set of ideals and values. You each see the world in a way that may not be fundamentally compatible.
You say that you spoke at the wedding; do not try to read too much into it. I left Sunnydale not because Buffy could not stand on her own two feet, but would not, despite my efforts to help her do so. As far as I know, Buffy has never spoken with Dawn about the incident at Halloween; she left that completely in my hands, despite my prompting that she needed to provide some guidance for her sister. I had hoped that by removing myself, she would be forced to take up her responsibilities. Instead, she simply found another place to hide.
Just as Spike had accused her of doing. Another swallow, and he decided that it was best to settle himself on the floor. He'd likely be here for a while.
Admitting this failing in someone I care for as a daughter is neither easy nor pleasant, but I think we are both keenly aware of Buffy's flaws. They are a part of her and their presence has done nothing to diminish our feelings. But we should not ignore their presence or let them cloud our judgement. If Buffy is to ever find a place for herself in this world, she must learn that she cannot simply place her future in the hands of others. If you truly love her, do not let her use you as a way to avoid her responsibilities.
First and foremost, you need to tend to yourself and your needs. Allowing yourself to be used only diminishes you and I feel you have far greater potential than what we have seen. Yes, when we lost our memories I said that when I looked at your I felt familiarity and a vague sense of disappointment because it is true. I have seen you show courage, fortitude and loyalty in the face of insurmountable odds; I have also seen you act maliciously, cowardly and for your own gain with no thought for those around you. You are better than that. I still feel that the placement of the chip in your head was for a higher purpose than mere government experiments, but only you can uncover that purpose. Perhaps the time to do so is now.
Do not let your love for Buffy so consume you that everything else in your life is lost. It might be time for you to leave Sunnydale -- not because I desire you to be away from Buffy, but so you can discover who you are. Do not, under any circumstances, however, go to Los Angeles and confront Angel. It would not please me to learn he had dusted you.
That provoked a smile. Maybe old Rupert was just being polite, but he certainly had a way with words. If he didn't want Spike dusted by Angel, it was most likely because he wanted to reserve the pleasure for himself.
Perhaps a visit home would prove a restorative for you and I am certain there are ways to smuggle you into the country even with the heightened security that accompanies travel these days. If you do decide to return to England, you have a place to stay, William -- as long as you promise not to eat all my Wheatbix and rinse your mug once you've finished your blood.
William. It was that word that made the offer sincere and real. Oh, Giles would be glad for him to be gone from Sunnydale, but perhaps there was some genuine sympathy there. Whatever the motivation, Spike could feel the tug inside to see the Mother Country again. It would nice to walk green hills, enjoy actual weather. The last time he'd been in England, Dru had been sick and there was precious little time to do anything but worry over her and get them transportation to America, Sunnydale and the Hellmouth.
If he returned now, he could linger, think through things, decide what he should do without all the distractions life here presented. Wasn't sure how he'd feed, but Bath likely had a butcher shop that would be willing to sell blood.
If you truly believe there is a possibility you and Buffy to build a lasting relationship built on mutual trust and respect as well as affection, then you should follow your heart in this matter and stay. It is not what I wish for Buffy, but if you believe it to be possible, it is not my place to stop you. If, however, she cannot return your affection, I urge you not to pursue it. Doing so will only cause you more pain. Try not to let your heart blind you in this matter, but listen to your head as well.
All thought of England flew from his head. Was Giles giving him his blessing? Upon re-reading the words, Spike realized that was far from the intention, but the words were something much more. For whatever reason, Giles was actually giving advice based on what was best for him, not what the watcher wanted or what he might think was best for Buffy.
He leaned back, letting his head rest on the glass of the counter. Follow your heart. He wanted to so desperately, but he knew Giles was right. If she couldn't -- wouldn't -- love him, it was better to walk away. Problem was, it was difficult to know if there was any hope as long as she played the game of being kind in private, rude in public. Until the moment she admitted she could speak with him without having to justify it as shaking him down for information or some other foolery, they were locked in a game that wouldn't change and only hurt them both.
The final advice I can offer is to think before you act. When one is hurting, it is all too easy to lash out blindly in an effort to numb the pain. I know too well the temptation to give in to that urge and you were witness to one such occasion. The effect is only temporary and often causes more harm than relief. If you have managed to pass that point with only the attempt to parade another girl in front of Buffy to make her jealous, there may be hope for you yet.
On a happier note, I must confess to a bit of envy that you are able to watch Dawn blossom into a young woman. I'm looking forward to the pictures though I confess a bit of trepidation at your description of the dresses. Suffice to say Xander does not love Anya for her subtle and refined taste -- not that Xander would know such if he tripped over it.
So he wasn't the only one who thought the Whelp an uncultured oaf. That was a consolation.
I am still working on the compensation issue. Miss Chalmers has uncovered several situations where Slayers were actually paid stipends by the Council because of varying circumstances. We are attempting to work this into a coherent presentation as to why this should be extended to Buffy as a way of making certain she can perform her calling without resorting to seeking menial employment.
Do not rush to any decision concerning your status in Sunnydale. Think through your options and let me know. Take care. Be well.
He sat quietly for a long time when he'd finished, watching the light patterns on the floor slide into longer shadows. There was much to consider in Giles' words, some of which he didn't particularly want to. The man spoke the truth, though. He'd let Buffy use him and not called her on it, so glad to just have her near him for a little while, lose himself in the fantasy that she might care. Hell, in some ways it was like shagging the bloody bot -- only the bot didn't hit him.
He'd faithfully kept her dirty little secret, but the time for that was past. There'd been too many secrets since she'd come back: where she'd been, how she felt, what had passed between the two of them -- and she wasn't the only one. Willow casting spells that went bad, Dawn's stealing, there were others, he was sure. Problem with secrets was that sometimes vital information was hidden until everything blew up in the worst possible way. Even if it didn't blow up, it festered inside you.
Spike looked down at the pages in his hand. They weren't friends, not by any definition of the word. They seemed to understand each other, though, two men who loved the same woman and wanted to see her safe and well. Their methods differed, but the purpose was the same. Maybe he couldn't ask for friends; maybe the best he could ask for was an ally. If that was so, he could certainly do worse than Rupert Giles.
Feeling better than he had in some time, Spike levered himself off the floor and stuffed the letter in his pocket before heading for the stairs that led down to the basement. Making his way toward the trap door to the sewers, he considered snagging some Burba Weed, but didn't. Wasn't actually any fun knicking the stock when Demon-Girl wasn't there to complain or threaten to make him work it off. When she came back, then he'd do it.
He'd have to come back, anyway, when she returned to open the shop again. There might be more mail from Giles and Spike thought it wouldn't hurt to see how Anya was holding up. After all, he thought, us demony-types gotta look after each other. No one else will.
He patted the pocket that held the letter. Make that almost no one else.
Continued in Entry 10 - Back to Normal