Title: Ficlet: Seven Minutes (A nod to MW's Gutter post)
Spoilers: None. Post Beneath You.
Summary: The missing scene. (I wish!)
Feedback: You beta, you beta, you bet! Just don't hate me, okay? *whimper*
Disclaimers: All Joss, all ME, all the time...
Author's Notes: I'm not sure what happened here. I was feeling the love and then Sunday night, wham! I realized we were not going to get an aftermath. Just like after DT. Forgive me, Joss, for I have sinned...
For Chris, who beat me over the head to get this done and out! To Chen, who liked it! And to Colleen, who always gets the last word!
Buffy stared in fascination at the plumes of smoke that were rising around Spike's shoulders and head. Frozen, she tried to take in the enormity of what he had done. The figure draped over the cross barely registered on her shocked mind.
"Jeez, Buffy," Xander said as he strode down the aisle to the front of the church. "What are you waiting for? Some nails? Big ole mallet?" Xander reached under Spike's arms and pulled him away, wincing at the sound of tearing. Buffy numbly stared at the strips of skin still smoking on the large cross.
Xander laid the unconscious vampire back on the floor and looked at the wounds. A wide stripe of blackened skin started in the newly- bleached hairline, traveling down Spike's ear, jaw and neck. His chest was a travesty of the carved cross he'd grabbed onto for comfort. Runes stood out in charred relief against his skin. Xander wrinkled his nose at the smell. "And eww, Auschwitz here."
The man sat back on his heels, staring at the contrast of roughened black against smooth white. "You'd think a 100-year-old dead guy wouldn't smell, right?" he mused.
Buffy was silent.
Xander looked up, dark eyes snapping. "Wouldn't a stake have been a lot less messy?" he asked rhetorically. "I mean, if you're gonna destroy the guy and all?"
The slayer started at the sarcasm in her friend's voice. Stepping forward, she opened her mouth to speak, but no words would come.
"You know, I couldn't believe it when Anya told me," he said tightly, as he arranged Spike's limp limbs. The skin had started to crack and ooze. He continued speaking, if only to keep from throwing up. "She tried to stop me from following you, but hey! Serve and protect, right?" He laughed bitterly. "Looks like it was my bad. Cause all of a sudden, the Big Bad vampire's got victim written all over him." He squinted at the designs on Spike's broad chest. "Literally."
"Xander, I didn't..." she finally managed to choke out.
"Didn't what?" he shot back angrily. "Do this? I was here. I listened. But okay. I'm all up with not taking responsibility for someone else's actions. I get that. But you slept with him, Buffy! Not once. You slept with the evil undead thing for *months*. Maybe it's just me, with my old-fashioned sense of morals, but I'd call that encouraging the guy."
"You don't understand. You never understood. Spike and I..." she began, going on the defensive.
"Well, I understand *this*," he broke in sharply. "The idiot went out and got a soul. So you could love him. Instead of just screwing him. There's got to be a joke about dumb blonds in there somewhere," he muttered. Shaking off the thought, Xander fixed Buffy with a hard look. "Oh, and lucky us! He's insane. Certifiably asylum-hoppin' crazy!"
"I thought he was better," she said quickly. "He seemed better when he came to the house."
"Well, he's not better," Xander said as he jumped up and walked up to Buffy. "Guy's trashed. Fruity as a nutcake. You knew how he felt about you, knew how sick it was. He's a vampire. You're the slayer. What part of that do you not get?"
"I ended it. I..."
"As if you could ever love him, anyway," Xander continued, as he looked over his shoulder at the vampire. He looked back into Buffy's wide eyes with an appraising stare. "Ever love *anyone*. Bad News Buffy strikes again. Never thought I'd say this, but seein' the debris here, I'm having a major happy that I was never your type."
"What?" She stared at Xander in disbelief.
"Well, look at Riley. Man, I should have seen that one comin'. He did. But I thought, nice guy, strong, all true blue. Not good enough for you, though. Or bad enough, maybe. He starts treading on the wrong side of the tracks. And whoosh! Gone!"
"So then you start beddin' down on the wrong side of the tracks. What is it with you, anyway? Sleep with one, he loses his soul. Sleep with this one, he goes out and gets one. Makes you wonder, right? Makes *me* wonder. And it makes me all sick and sad and churny inside." Xander looked at Buffy, shaking his head. "And did you see Anya all with the veiny and purpley? More ammo for the churny."
Spike started to groan and stir slightly. The man turned back to the vampire, walking to his side.
"So. What do you want to do with him?" Xander asked conversationally, as he knelt beside Spike. "Staking him would be a mercy, I guess. Chip *and* a soul? Whoa! And the whole vampire `slash' cross thing was uber-big on the unmixy list – a dustin' just waitin' to happen." Xander put a hand down on the vampire's shoulder softly, as Spike started to move. The man shushed him, making sure he stilled before speaking again. Looking up, Xander tilted his head questioningly. "What? No dust, Buff?" he asked ruefully. "Oh, I get it now. More suffering. Cause the unrequited looks so good on him, right?" he said, looking down at Spike.
Xander reached down and put both hands on broad shoulders as hazy blue eyes opened. "Hey. Lie still," he said softly. "Still figurin' this one out." Spike's eyes closed.
Buffy ran her hands through her hair, patting the lose strands behind her ears, nervously. "I didn't ask him to do it!"
"Are you kidding? We all did. Every time `evil soulless thing' came out of our mouths, we asked him to do it!"
"I know," she sighed. "I just..."
"What?" he said mildly. "Don't care?" His eyes narrowed. "Toy's all broken now, anyway, right?" Xander reached down, grabbed Spike's arms and hitched him into a firemen's carry. He chuckled. "Spikey, you are all about the dead weight," he murmured. A muffled groan was his only answer.
Buffy almost leapt across the space, reaching for Spike. "What are you doing?" she asked shrilly. "You don't..."
A cold look from Xander stopped her. "Clem still living in Spike's old place?"
Relief played across the slayer's face, as she stepped back. "Yes. Yes, of course."
"I'll deliver him. See if I can help Clem out when Mr. Not-So-Evil- Anymore comes to. The least I can do. You've done plenty already," the man said meanly.
"Xander, he got a soul," Buffy said, pleading for understanding. "For *me*. What am I supposed to feel about that? What could I possibly say?"
Hitching his burden up, Xander headed toward the church door. "Obviously, Buffy, not a damn thing."