By Annie Sewell-Jennings
Sequel to The Waiting Season
Chapter Sixteen: Awakenings
To the naked eye, he was just another man in love.
Giles stood silent in the doorway, never taking his eyes off of Spike. He'd only seen him asleep since he'd come back to Sunnydale, but he hadn't really seen him in months. Now that he was there, sitting at the kitchen table in absolute agony, Giles found that he couldn't stop staring. Like if he visually dissected him, he could figure him out.
Fascination, perhaps. Spike was a puzzle. A paradox. He was not supposed to do such things. He'd changed his very nature. Giles was desperate to ask him about it, anxious to learn how on earth Spike had even accomplished such a task. How had he done it? Where did he get it? What on earth would compel him to do such a thing?
Oh, what fools love makes of men.
"You still gawking at me, Rupert? Take a bloody picture, it'll last you longer."
A dry smile curved at the corner of Giles's mouth. Rather comforting to know that some things didn't change. "Hello, Spike."
"Do you think she'll kill me if I smoke in the kitchen?"
Giles slowly walked to the kitchen table and took a seat across from the vampire. He reached across him, picked up the pack of Marlboros, and withdrew two cigarettes. “Well, she’ll have to kill the both of us, now won’t she?”
A dry look of appreciation crossed the vampire’s face, and Spike lifted his eyes to look at Giles. Instantly, the Watcher wished that he hadn’t. They were too naked, too open. His eyes had always been like that, but not the way they were now.
Oh, yes. He most certainly had a soul.
Giles nearly coughed up a lung when he took a drag from the cigarette, and Spike gave him a sly grin. “Been a while, has it?”
“Shorter than you would think,” Giles said. “Actually, I took up the habit again while I was in Bath after a while.”
“You were bored.”
Giles didn't answer. Instead, he just took another drag from his cigarette and kept his eyes on Spike. "You did a good job of scaring that poor boy," he said evenly. The reaction shook him. Simple things; Giles had to remember that. It was always the simple things that gave a person away.
The way that Spike flinched said quite a lot. "Didn't mean to," he muttered, averting his eyes. "Just got a little mixed-up, is all."
"Yes, things have been rather mixed-up for you lately, haven't they?"
Spike narrowed his eyes and tilted his head at him. Like he was looking at something that he didn't understand. Perhaps something that surprised him. "Yeah," he said slowly. "Things've been... weird."
Well, weird was one way of putting it. "I know about you and Buffy, Spike," Giles said. "I'm not exactly pleased about it."
Spike was instantly on the defensive. Pulled back and took a pull from his cigarette, blew smoke out of his nostrils like an indignant bull. "What, am I supposed to ring you up and ask your permission to court the bloody Slayer? Not my style, mate, and--"
"I'm not your mate," Giles said sharply. "Let's get that clear from the start, shall we? I've never liked you, and I never will. You've lied to us, you've attacked us, and you've tried to kill us more times than I care to recall, and I won't even start on your personality."
Spike clenched his jaw and glared right back. Good, good. He could see that passion rising up. That fury, that rage. Looked like himself right now. Looked like he might have a fighting chance at this if he didn't give up on himself.
"So no," Giles continued, "I don't like you. I'm not happy with the idea of Buffy having anything to do with you that didn't involve your very dusty end." He paused then, and softened his voice. "But I do respect you."
Spike stared at him for a moment. There was something akin to surprise in his eyes. Suddenly he laughed. Dry and bitter, like something was burned out of him. "Right. She didn't tell you."
"She told us all about the soul, Spike--"
"But she didn't tell you what made me go get it."
Giles paused for a moment and frowned. She hadn't said anything about that at all. Not at any point in any of their conversations had she ever mentioned the reason behind Spike's disappearance. He'd once tried to ask her about it, but Buffy had dodged the question and quickly changed the subject. "No, actually," he murmured. "What exactly was it that compelled you to do such a thing?"
Spike gave him a tight smile. Absolutely predatory. The monster was still there, after all. “I tried to take what I thought was still mine,” he said. When Giles stared at him, confused, he arched an eyebrow. “What? Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Need a little more than that, eh? You Watchers always were sticklers for detail.”
There was a flash of blond and suddenly Spike was inches from his face. Those blue eyes were right there in front of him, and his features were too sharp, too harsh, too much. “Had her in the bathroom, I did. Put my hands on her, all over her, and she told me no, but you know how she is. Always means yes. Pushed her down, climbed on top of her, and she was screaming—“
The smack of his fist into the monster’s face was deliciously satisfying. Spike reeled backward and onto the floor, and Giles was on him in an instant. Fury and rage boiled up inside of him as he hit him again. He'd had pity for this monster, harbored sympathy and bloody respect for this thing, and it'd tried to force itself on Buffy, and—
And Spike wanted this.
Giles froze, his arm still reeled back for a third punch. Spike had his eyes closed, and there was a look of absolute resignation and almost bliss on his face. He wanted to be punished. Hated, reviled, beat, destroyed. Spike opened his eyes and stared at Giles. “What are you waiting for? What, still aren’t sure? Want me to tell you about—“
“I’m not going to do this with you, Spike,” Giles said. He released him from his hold and stood up. Looked down at the vampire sprawled out on the kitchen floor, his leather pooling around him in a swirl of black. “It’s not going to help, you know.”
“I need it,” Spike hissed. “You stupid fuck, I need it.”
“You need to get a hold of yourself,” Giles said roughly. He narrowed his eyes at Spike, crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t know what went on between the two of you before, and frankly, I don’t want to know. It’s not my business.”
“Damn right it’s your business! She’s your Slayer!”
“No, she’s not. She’s not anybody’s Slayer.”
Giles sighed, ran a hand through his hair and sat back down at the table. Reluctantly, Spike picked himself up from the floor and eased back down into a chair. He picked up his cigarette and took a long drag from it, glaring sullenly at the Watcher all the while. Sulky bastard. “Buffy is her own person. She makes her own choices. And while I might not always agree with her, I respect her for doing so. She’s chosen you, for whatever reason on this earth, and I won’t be a party to your destruction.”
He looked at Spike seriously. “You’ve got to pull yourself together, Spike. If not for your own sake, then for hers.”
“I don’t deserve her,” Spike said softly, and Giles sighed. Shook his head.
“No, you don’t. But you have her all the same.” He lowered his voice. “I know that it hurts. That it must be very difficult. But you have to try to get over it. She needs you to be strong.”
A tight smile pinched Spike’s inhumanly pretty face. Giles had always thought that Spike’s sharp, cutting face was always proof that God was indeed an arrogant bastard. “I did it for her,” he said. “The soul. Thought it might change me. Make me something better, something more worthy of her, you know?”
“It didn’t work, did it?” Spike said nothing, just turned away. “A soul doesn’t mean instantaneous change, Spike. It means that you have a choice. A chance. But as long as you sit around on your ass and beat yourself up about the things you’ve done, then everything you’ve accomplished means bugger all. You say you love her. Prove it. Not just to her, nor to me. Do it for yourself.”
For just a moment, Giles could see it. That thing that she loved about him. It was there, just a flash of something in his eye. A spark. There was vitality in him, passion, and something that Giles didn’t like at all. There was something in Spike that reminded him far too much of himself.
The doorbell rang, and Giles turned away. “That must be Willow and the others,” he said. “Apparently, they have some information on our latest bit of trouble.” He arched his eyebrow at Spike. “Are you coming?”
A dry smile touched the vampire’s face. “Yeah. I’m coming.”
He stood up and stretched for a second, extinguished his cigarette, and straightened his shirt. Gave Giles an amused look. “Got no idea why you’re helping me, you know.”
Giles just smiled. “Neither do I. But I’m sure that one day, we’ll figure it out.”
There were things she would never tell them. Little things, nothing important. Just stuff like the fact that she’d thrown up after she found her mother’s body, or that when she was fifteen, she used to shoplift from Nordstrom’s back in L.A. Stupid things, hurtful things. Things they didn’t need to know about.
They didn’t need to know that she’d kept the dress she was buried in.
Still smelled like that night. Rot and death and dirt. Grime and soil were ingrained into the black threads, and there were rips and tears in the fabric. The slit down the back, traditional funeral home style.
Gently, Buffy ran her fingers over the skirt. Touched the fine fabrics, smelled its awful scent. She’d never really understood why they’d chosen this dress. It wasn’t something she would ever wear, not something bright or colorful. It wasn’t her. Too baggy, too bunchy. Too black. They should’ve known that this wasn’t her, this wasn’t her at all. Who were they burying in this awful sack? Who were they laying to rest? Whose sleep had they disrupted?
They didn’t need to know that sometimes, she still hated them.
Stupid children. That was all they were. Dabbling in things that they couldn’t understand, all because they didn’t think they could handle it alone. Always needing Buffy, always whining for her attention, her protection, her love, her strength. Taking, always taking. But they’d fucked themselves over, because now she was back, and she didn’t have anything left to give them.
Give them pain. Let them know how this feels.
No, no. They were her friends and they didn’t know. They thought they were doing the right thing. Thought they were saving her. And they were sorry when they found out that they’d damned her instead, oh yes, very sorry indeed. It didn’t matter that sorry didn’t make the pain go away. Didn’t matter that a part of her had been left in the earth, or that it had been her time to go, or that—
Buffy sighed. Closed her eyes and swallowed hard to keep from crying.
They didn’t know that sometimes, she still dreamed of heaven.
Carefully, Buffy folded the dress back up and replaced it in the corner of her closet. She opened the weapons chest and removed her crossbow, her sword, her daggers, her stakes. Brushed her hair. Straightened her clothes. Looked in the mirror and saw the girl she’d always been. The girl she’d always be. A little too skinny, a little too tired, and a little too much death around the eyes.
Her resurrection had unhinged her. Made her dark, made her desperate, made her terrified and afraid. She was getting better, she really was, but Buffy knew that she would never fully recover from everything that had happened to her. Nothing in her life had been as painful as losing paradise.
She would not let that little boy share her fate. It did not matter what she had to do, or who she had to sacrifice, or even if she went to her grave again. She could not let that child be ripped out of heaven and thrown back on this earth.
And she would never let them know that she wasn’t all right.
Trey still didn’t quite understand what was going on.
Sure, Mr. Giles had explained everything to him. Vampires were real, and so were demons. They all hung out in Sunnydale, and Dawn’s older sister was some kind of superhero who fought them. A Slayer. And that guy, Spike, was one of them. “But he won’t hurt you,” Mr. Giles had said. “He has a soul. He’s really quite harmless, all appearances aside.”
Spike sure didn’t look harmless to him. Warily, Trey kept an eye on the black-clad freak hanging out in the shadows, away from the rest of the group. He looked so normal like that, just chilling with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, with his bleached hair and his leather coat. Didn’t look much like a vampire now, not like he had earlier.
Spike cast his cool blue eyes in Trey’s direction, and Trey shuddered and turned his head.
Buffy was standing by the stairs with a brown-haired girl, her arms crossed over her chest and a hard-ass look on her face. Superhero. Slayer. Who would’ve known? She looked like an average blonde chick to him. Pretty, yeah, but tiny. Yet there was this funny look on her face, like she’d been around the block more times than she cared to remember.
The redheaded girl was talking. Willow. She seemed all right. Normal. Human. She sat next to him on the couch, and she smelled like that New Age store back in LA that one of his old girlfriends liked visiting. She had a big dusty volume open on her lap, and Trey tried to read it, but the language was odd and old. “We found this in the stockroom at the Magic Box,” she said, and the brunette raised her hand and interrupted.
“Excuse me, but I found it,” she said. “I was the one who did the finding and the heavy lifting.”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Okay, so Anya found it. Anyway, it listed an old Greek resurrection ritual that I hadn’t ever seen before. When we…. We used an Egyptian spell. This one’s old, and kind of tricky. It requires that four people be sacrificed to the god Hades, and in return, the dead will be allowed to crossover. It’s kind of an exchange.”
“’The blood of four will open the door,’” Buffy murmured to herself.
The other guy, Xander, shook his head. “So this Glaze guy wants to kill four people so that he can get little junior back. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.”
“It’s never worth it.”
All heads turned to look at Buffy, and Spike crossed the room to go to her. Trey watched carefully as the vampire put a hand on the Slayer’s arm. He didn’t say anything. He was just… there. Man, Trey didn’t get this shit at all. Superheroes and bad guys and spells.
“There’s more,” Willow said. “Like I said, the spell is tricky. It requires the presence of an experienced necromancer.”
Xander frowned. “Isn’t that one of those guys who has sex with dead people?”
“Oo!” Anya said enthusiastically. “We have one of those! Buffy does that on a regular basis.”
Horrified, Trey glanced over at Buffy, who just gritted her teeth and tried not to look exasperated. Spike snickered, and Giles quickly intervened. “A necromancer, not a necrophiliac, Xander. A necromancer is one who has an affinity with the dead. They’re quite rare and very secretive. They can raise the dead, create zombies, hold souls….”
“Souls,” Buffy murmured, and then she looked in Giles’s direction. “Could a necromancer do what Drake Lucas did? Making sure that vampire kept her….”
“I don’t know,” Giles said. “Possibly. It would require a great deal of power, preserving the soul during such a transformation. But I suppose that if a necromancer were skilled enough….”
“Then that’s the link. Drake Lucas is working for Martin Glaze to help him resurrect his son. He’s the necro-thingie.”
“Necrophiliac?” Xander offered, and Anya shook her head.
”Dead people fetishist, remember? Get it straight.”
Trey was getting a headache. It was just wild, sitting in this room, listening to all of these seemingly normal people throwing around all of these crazy-ass ideas that didn’t make any sense and treating them like they were real, and Dawn was in danger and--
He couldn’t help it. He started laughing. Just giggles, and everyone all turned to look at him. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, and then he burst into loud, uproarious laughter. “This is some crazy shit right here! Y’all are all sitting around talking about raising the dead and fucking the dead and that dude over there actually is dead and y’all treat it like it’s nothing big!”
Gently, Willow patted him on the shoulder and gave him a sympathetic look. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but you’ll get used to it.”
“Get used to it?” Xander asked. “Hell, it’s been seven years and I’m still not used to it. When does that happen?”
Spike raised his hand. “I’m used to it.”
“Well, yeah, but that’s because you’re a vampire,” Willow answered.
“Ah, good point.”
Trey couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up and moved away from the couch, couldn’t stand being still any longer. “Well, it’s fucking crazy, that’s what it is. Vampires and Slayers and shit.”
“Do you want to save Dawn?” Buffy asked sharply.
Dawn. Trey stilled for a moment. He could see her right in front of him if he tried. Remembered the way that she’d smelled in the car earlier, like honeysuckle and cherry trees. And he could still hear the way that she screamed when she’d been taken. Trey bowed his head. “Yeah. God, yeah.”
“Then you have to trust us,” she said. “I know that this sounds kind of insane, but it’s all true. Fortunately, we know how to fight this. And we are going to save Dawn.”
Buffy turned to look at the rest of the people. “Okay. So we know that Lucas and Glaze are working together. We know how they’re going to bring back the boy. Where is he buried?”
“North Hill Cemetery,” Willow replied. “I’ve got a plot number.”
“Good. The sun’s down, so let’s ante up.”
“Uh, just a second,” Xander interrupted. “Can I just have a moment here to point out that this whole thing is a trap? I mean, come on. The guy walked into the Magic Box and handfed us that ‘blood of four’ line. And why else would he take Dawn? We’re playing into his hand.”
“And what are our other options?” Buffy shot back. “Sit around and wait for this guy to kill Dawn and three other people? Let him raise the dead? No. It’s not going to happen. I don’t care if it’s a trap or not.”
With brisk, purposeful steps, Buffy walked to the dining room table and picked up a broadsword from a pile of weapons. The blade caught the light and shone as she wielded it, and the look on her face was one of cutthroat ruthlessness. She held the sword like it was nothing, like it was merely an extension of her own body, and for the first time since this entire fiasco started, Trey believed.
“I’m coming with you,” he said, standing up.
Buffy’s reply was almost instantaneous. “No.”
Trey looked at her indignantly. Raised his head in pride. “Why not?”
“Because you’re weak and you’re untrained. You’ll get yourself killed, and I don’t want to tell Dawn that her prom date got murdered on my watch.” Buffy tossed a crossbow to Spike. “You’ll stay here and keep watch in case something happens. If we’re not back in three hours, call a cab. Don’t walk home alone. Not tonight.”
“I said no,” Buffy said darkly, and then she sighed. Closed her eyes for a second and walked over to him. Gave him a small smile that was almost warm. Almost. “But thank you for trying.”
As they filed out of the house, Trey stared after them, dumbfounded and despairing. Dawn was out there, and he’d failed her. Failed her before he’d ever even started to try. Not good enough, not smart enough, not in his world or this strange new world he’d come across today.
Dazed, confused, and bewildered, Trey hung his head and tried very hard not to cry.
The night was warm and heavy with leftover humidity from the earlier rain, and a heavy fall of mist and fog covered the sloping hill of the graveyard. Everything looked eerie, surreal, as they approached the newer section of North Hill Cemetery. Funeral flowers and marble statues, warriors and weapons. Just another average night in Sunnydale.
But Willow could smell the truth.
It was subtle. Not something that the others probably even picked up on. But there was a cloistering scent in the air, something sour and greedy. It smelled like sweaty dollar bills and rotting animal flesh. There was a sensation that permeated the atmosphere tonight. Power. It lurked all around them, just waiting for someone to pick it up.
Someone like me.
Willow shuddered and shifted the weight of her backpack on her shoulders. Her palms were sweaty and her legs felt itchy. The night was unseasonably warm, but she knew that it wasn’t the heat that was making her feel this way. It was the proximity to all of this sensation, all of this energy crackling in the air. It called to her. Sang to her in symphonies that only she could comprehend.
The magic was still within her; she knew this and accepted it. It was part of her punishment for abusing the power, and it would be with her for the rest of her life. Willow ached to be rid of it forever. She wished that she could just make it go away, just like she’d always done. But she’d learned her lesson. She had to pay for her crime.
She had to atone.
The backpack held the contents of her magic supplies. Herbs, candles, books and print-outs from the Internet, all brought to her by Xander (except for the online stuff – all that Xander knew about the Internet was how to download porn) in secrecy. Everything that she would need for a binding spell, particularly the kind of spell used to block access to the dimensions of the dead.
Atonement. That was what this was. She knew that she couldn’t get rid of the magic. It was there, permanent, inside of her forever. All that she could do was control it. Use it for the right reasons.
And pray to God that she could do this without losing herself.
Cigarette smoke wafted to her nose, and Willow looked up ahead of her to where Spike and Buffy walked side by side, she with a broadsword and he with a crossbow. Willow tilted her head and watched Spike for a moment as he brought his cigarette to his lips and coolly exhaled a stream of smoke. Everything about him had always been so supple, so smooth. Like a jungle cat looking for its prey. And he still had that kind of lithe, luscious grace about him. It was just a little… tempered. A little more restrained.
Funny, how things worked out. Willow never would’ve thought that she’d look at Spike with envy.
Suddenly, everything went very cold. The humidity and heat in the air plummeted and froze, and chills shivered up and down Willow’s spine. Everything in her body started humming and thrumming in time to the vibrations, and she could feel power focusing, pulling, tugging at her insides.
Let us in, let us play, use us and channel us….
Buffy had turned around and was staring at her, but Willow found that she could not say a word. There was too much coming at her, swarming around her like angry bees.
And then the vampires were upon them.
They came over the hill in a wave of death, snarling and running, dozens upon dozens of them. They cut through the mist like scythes, and Buffy raised her broadsword and then--
Oh, God. No.
All of the vampires were crying. Sobbing, screaming. Pleading with them as they began to attack. Buffy cried out when one of them tackled her to the ground and begged for its mother. “Please, I don’t understand what’s happening, I just want my mommy, I need my mommy….”
Things were not going well.
Buffy lunged at the sobbing vampire before her and swung the blade around, expertly beheading the miserable monster. It dissolved into dust and she quickly scanned around her for others.
There were too many of them; they were heavily outnumbered. At least a dozen, maybe two. Anya cried out when one of the vampires tackled her to the ground, but before Buffy could reach her, Xander rammed his stake through the vampire’s back, right through to the heart. She could not see Willow, but she saw Giles wrestling with his own vampire, and then she saw Spike.
His head whipped back in a blur of white as the female vampire rammed her fist into his face. “You’re like us, I can feel it, can’t you help me?” the woman sobbed. Desperation surged through her as she watched Spike turn his face away, watched him babble out something that didn’t even make sense. He should be killing her. Should be fighting back, defending himself, something other than this blind panic….
He panics because the world’s not all black and white after all.
The voice was low and dark. Full of wasps and hornets, flying through her mind and buzzing through all the noise. Everything dimmed in front of her, and Buffy blinked her eyes. Couldn’t remember…. There were things going on, important things, and there was something she had to stop, but....
There's a light over the hill. Have a drink with me.
Numbly, her fingers released the broadsword and it clattered to the ground with the sound of dull metal. Everything dull, everything numb. Shapes around her, moving, but they were just shapes and therefore none of her concern. Step forward. Another step. Another. There were noises in the background, blurry like static, but she kept walking and eventually, they faded away.
Walk through the woods, Slayer. You know these paths better than anyone. Come on over and we'll chat for a while. Everything will be just fine.
And so Buffy stepped into the crypt and stood before Drake Lucas.
Continued in Chapter Seventeen: The Blood of Four