He rested in the basement now—cold and dark—the only place fit for him. And I tapped my boots against the deck, the lone sound under the late-night sky.
The house was finally quiet. No nervous soon-to-be slayers chattering away about the indestructible monster—they didn’t have to worry about him anymore.
I smiled to myself. Been a long time since I’d made like a queen and killed all off-with-his-head-like. I drew in the cold night air, and the chilling air in my lungs reminded me of him.
They wanted to chain him—Xander and Giles—but one glance from me and they gently laid his broken body onto the blanket before marching obediently back upstairs. I watched his face wince, but he didn’t open his eyes. Like he was afraid to.
I sat on the step and tapped my foot again, glancing around the backyard. All the Bringers had left? Could’ve used a little fight to get this anger out of me. Where was all this anger coming from anyway? Was I this mad about what It did to him?
I hugged myself. Cold tonight. Bitter night. The bad and bitter kind of cold. I watched my breath twirl in the air as I spoke to myself. “Then what the hell am I doing out here?”
But I knew as soon as I had said it. I was waiting for him. I was waiting for Spike to wander up the grass and sit next to me. Waiting—wanting—to tell him about all what I had done, and all that was going on. But he wasn’t going to come.
He knew I was next to him. Underneath the puffy bruises I saw his tiny smile. It made me smile, too.
He sucked in air, and my smile grew. He didn’t need that air, he just wanted to smell it—smell me in it. Yuck. I just got done cutting off Supervamp’s head, don’t smell it!
But he reveled in it—holding the air tight in his chest. My eyes wandered down his body, squinting at the sliced patterns in his skin. I bit my lip, floating my hand just above the wounds, not daring to touch them.
His hand crossed over mine, pressing it down into the middle of his chest. He let the air out as I touched his skin. I couldn’t look at those wounds, so I faced him.
He was peering up at me, barely able to see through his puffed face. The slight smile faded, and he smoothed a finger over my bloodied knuckles.
My eyes wandered back down to his chest, where his hand still rested on mine. I heard him swallow, followed by quiet stutters.
“C-can you…feel it…there?” he exhausted himself to say.
“Feel what?” I looked at his face again, gently tracing my finger over the pattern.
His mouth parted as he tried to finish. The whispers were too soft for me to understand, so I brought my face closer to his. He hissed, and stopped trying to talk, closing his eyes and breathing me again. His hand pressed mine harder into his chest, as if he had to force this out of him.
“The…the sp-spark?” he uttered, closing his mouth into a smile again.
I let air out of my tense body, and my parted lips opened into a comfortable smile. His hand slid back to his side, leaving my tiny fingers alone to trace his wounds. I brushed them around the triangle before I lifted my hand and stood.
He sighed and sank into the pillow, begging for me to stay. He knew I was already gone.
My sleep was quick—the short hours filled with visions of shattered buildings and burning streets, and me, standing alone at the center of it all. And I couldn’t move.
I clenched the bathroom doorknob. Locked. I heard two of the girls in there. I certainly don’t remember being so damn vain at that age. I peeked in the kitchen, seeing three more girls with Willow and Dawn.
“He did.” Dawn sat with two of them, eyes focused and voice intense, “And after that, he—Hi Buffy!” she scooted off her stool and fidgeted.
I nodded, and walked towards Willow and the third at the stove.
“Mm.” I sniffed. “Blueberry?”
Willow smiled. “Kennedy knows how, even though, you know, she used to have her own cook and everything…”
This one was Kennedy. Thought it was Chloe. So hard not to mix them up.
“It’s not like it’s that hard to learn.” Kennedy scraped the pan with a spatula. “Except…well, it’s kinda hard to flip’em when they’re like this.”
The misshapen pancake flopped onto itself. “Funny shapes.” I said.
Willow smiled. “Just the way I like’em.”
“Hey, you guys, or…girls, have you seen Giles around?”
“Oh, I did!” the perky one called out. “He took his tea ’round to the front.”
I stepped down the hall.
“Hey, Buffy.” Kennedy stopped me. She was still holding the spatula.
“Hey, Kennedy,” I smiled. “How’d you sleep?”
She nodded. “Better than ever. Even better than back in my old bed. But, look… I just wanted to tell you—” she tapped the spatula. “You really kicked his ass.”
I smiled. “So will you. Just give it some time.”
Her eyes lit up as she bit her lip.
“Kennedy!” Willow shouted from the kitchen, “We need the spatula!”
“Did you see them, on his chest? Those markings, Giles, what are they?”
Giles sipped his tea. “Y-yes, I saw them Buffy, but I don’t know what to make of them yet.”
“We need to find out. Giles, they might give us something.”
“And we will, Buffy.” He assured me, then after a pause added. “You can’t think I just jump into the books first thing in the morning.”
“God, no. Especially not the books I’m going to be looking into.”
“Big dusty Watcher’s Council ones?”
“No, I’ve…I’ve got somewhere else I plan to look for…those markings.”
“Well, if you’re planning to leave the house, don’t even plan on using the shower! Two of them locked up in there right now…even though some of us are coated in Big Bad dust!”
“Indeed.” Giles sipped his tea.
“Dawn?” I asked.
She gasped and slammed the basement door shut. “Jeez, Buffy! Did you take lurk-lessons from Spike or something?”
I shrugged, peeking around her. “What’re you doing?”
“Nothing.” Her wide eyes told me different. “I just wanted to see…if it was as bad as they were all saying.”
“Dawn, could you do something for me?”
“Go to the butcher shop and get some blood for him?”
She started to pout. “Buffy—”
“Take some of the slay-girls with you. Show them around. They need to get out of this house—and not just when they’re running for life.”
She jogged up the stairs. I opened the basement door and walked down.
A sheet was draped across him. He lay motionless with his back to me. I stepped closer, focusing on the lashings across his spine. Some were still red, but others had already faded to scars. A muscle in his shoulder twitched, and I backed away as he rolled over.
His open eyes squinted at me, one still too puffy to open all the way. “Don’t go away.” His voice came easier now.
“No, just…” he closed his eyes. “Just, a little closer.”
I stepped towards him, keeping my eyes on my boots.
“No shower this mornin‘, love?”
I laughed almost inaudibly, but he could still hear it. He smiled, waving me closer.
“Did you talk to Dawn?” I asked him.
“Think she came halfway down the stairs before she packed it back up.”
I was standing alongside him now. “She’s just scared.”
He broke eye contact. “Got quite a bit to be scared about, doesn’t she?”
I shook my head. “Not down here.”
He nodded towards the dryer. “Watcher set the chains down over there.”
“Spike, I’m not—”
“No,” he faced me again. “I’m not. Not again, Buffy. C’mon, put’em on me. They’ll stop me from it.”
“I’ll stop you.”
He chuckled, “Spose you have the upper hand at the moment.”
“I always have the upper hand.”
“Not this time,” he became concerned. “Buffy, we’re weak…and It knows that. It knows that too bloody well.”
“Then I’ll stop It.”
He clamped his mouth shut. Always holding back. Just say it, Spike. Say it.
“You don’t think so?” I asked.
We were quiet for a long time—and still, very still. After the pause, I turned my back on him to go back upstairs.
His deep voice halted me, and I turned from the third step. He struggled to sit up, and tried to make our eyes meet, but I fixed my gaze to the beams above.
“You’ll stop it. I believe in you, Buffy.”
Continued in Part 2