The door creaks open, and Giles joins Spike on the front step. “Willow is staying with Xander for now. After a slight… discussion, the nurses decided not to fight her on it.”
“Smart choice,” Spike nods, not looking at Giles, because his vision is clouded with memory. He has been witness to so much torment and pain in his vast time on earth, but for some reason he cannot shake the image of Xander, and the blood, his mouth open in terror. The damage irrevocably done.
“Willow had a message for you,” Giles said. “She said to say thank you. For saving Xander’s life.”
Spike shakes it off, frowning, putting his cigarette out furiously under his boot. “I should’ve been quicker.” More useful. Like always. Never useful enough. Never fast enough. Just give up on being good, Spike. You are so, so bad at it. He shakes the thoughts away.
“It’s because of your speed, most likely, that Xander isn’t dead.” Giles stands up, sounding tired. Spike looks up at him then. Giles nods at Spike, and Spike nods back.
Like that, they make their peace. Giles goes back inside. Spike stares out across the dark yard and the street beyond, hoping that Buffy and Giles can do the same. Make peace. And soon.
He sits outside and smokes, cigarette after cigarette, waiting. An hour later, and still she has not come home. He wants to wait up for her, to sit on the porch with her and let her know it will be all right. But he knows it is not his place to do so, knows she does not want that from him now, probably never did. So he goes downstairs and sits, his mind full of questions, full of rage, trying to formulate a plan that remains always elusive.
He falls asleep, and is woken by a voice.
“Move over,” she says. “I can’t fall asleep up there.”
He obliges. She stretches out on the cot, lighting two cigarettes and handing him one.
Spike takes it from her, then says, “You should know… I, uh… can’t do anything with you.”
Faith just laughs, cruelly. “Dude, you got stuck with a happiness clause too? Man, that sucks.”
“No… no clause. Just that, I love her is all.”
Faith just grins. “I know. I saw it when you two were glaring at each other earlier. Oh, plus Andrew filled me in. The kids a freak but he grows on you. We bonded. You know, one murderer to another.”
When he is quiet, she ribs him with her elbow. “Get over yourself, Spikey. That’s not what I’m down here for, all evidence of me being a big ho to the contrary. You’re not really my type.”
This makes Spike pout a little. “How so?”
Faith lets out a laugh. “Well, for one thing, you seem intelligent. Plus, really not in the mindset to go after Buffy’s leftovers.”
“Thanks ever so,” he drawls.
“Plus,” Faith continues cheerfully, “You’re freaking dead. Whole heap of yuck right there. I’m into a lot of shit, but necrophilia ain’t one of them.”
“Never heard Buffy complain,” he says dryly.
Faith lets out a low whistle. “You two… together… damn, I can’t even imagine. If Angel ever found out…”
Spike shrugs. “Suppose he did. He’d never show up here anyway. Way I hear it, he’s got a whole new life, whole new crew, and he and that Cordelia bird have got something going on. Don’t tell Buffy that, though,” he adds, somewhat urgently.
“How the hell do you know that? I didn’t see anything like that when I was there.”
Spike opens his eyes wide. “Why, it was in the Souled Vamp Weekly, how else?”
She gives him a look that could give one of his head tilts a run for its money in the Major Attitude category.
“Okay,” Spike shrugs. “Found out, is all. I’ve got connections in L.A. Was informed that those two were almost in love, or in love… or something confusing. I know about a lot of things over there that I don’t tell anyone. Don’t want to get anyone upset, you know?. But I like to stay informed…”
"And make sure Angel has no plans to come back into Buffy’s life?” Faith interrupts.
“No... maybe.” Spike crosses his arms and shoots her an evil look. “Shut up.”
They smoke in companionable silence together, both lost in thought.
“How come you’re being nice to me?” Faith finally says.
Spike contemplates the ceiling for a bit, then turns his head toward her. “Well, you’re easy as hell on the eyes, pet. Just cause I’m mad for Buffy doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate beauty when I see it. Second, you give me cigarettes. Third, from what I’ve heard, what you’ve done… well, that’s nothing compared to what I’ve done. If I get a chance, everyone deserves one.”
“Yeah, but you have a soul now. Can you be held accountable for what you did without one?”
He shrugs. “What the fuck does that mean anyway? I don’t feel much different. Maybe it was cause of the chip, who knows. What’s a soul? That preacher may have a soul for all we know. You had a soul when you tortured Buffy’s mum.”
He doesn’t mean to be cruel, just says it, then wishes he hadn’t. Faith’s eyes drop. “Heard about that too, huh?” she says, her voice soft.
“Yeah. Buffy and I used to talk. Before… before it got ugly. Told me things.” He remembers those talks, misses them almost as much as anything else.
Faith runs her hand through her hair, nervously. “Jesus, I didn’t even tell her I was sorry to hear about Joyce.”
“Looks like Hallmark won’t be hiring you anytime soon.”
“Under different circumstances, Pet… under different circumstances,” he sighs, and she laughs.
“I have so much… remorse,” she says, struggling with words that don’t come easy for her to say. “It’s a pain in my ass. When I was with the Mayor, I let the hate take over, and it was such a rush. There was no time for remorse.” She looks over at him, frowning. “You feel remorse, right?”
Spike sighs, tries to smile it away but fails. “Yeah. Too much to name.”
“I guess that’s what free will is all about. The remorse reminds us we have a choice. I choose to be on Buffy’s side now.”
“That’s just cause you want to bone her,” she teases, then lets out yelp when he shoves her off the cot.
“So sorry,” he says innocently.
“Asshole,” she says with a smile. She stands up and puts out her cigarette on the ashtray on the floor. “Thanks for the talk.”
Spike just nods, smiling a little up at her. “You gonna be alright upstairs?”
Faith shrugs. “Yeah. The girls may need me. Not that I’m big with the hugs, but…”
“I bet you’re amazing at… hugging,” he says, smirking, giving her a once-over with his eyes. She smiles slowly in response and raises her eyebrows.
“Too bad you’ll never know,” she says haughtily, then turns, dark hair flying, and she wiggles her ass as she crosses the room and heads back upstairs.
And Spike cannot help but laugh a little.
Continued in Chapter 2