Disclaimer: I own nothing but the actual words on the screen.
Summary: An alternative season 6 and 7.
We are but a breath; our days are like a passing shadow.
I've been at the whole Slayage thing for what-almost six years now? Gotta say, I've seen some really gruesome things: people with their guts ripped out and spread all over their laps, and vampires turned as children that'll never grow up, and the lost and broken way that Ben looked when I beat him to a pulpy mess. I've even died-twice, now, in fact. But there are two really disturbing pictures in my head that I can't seem to shake no matter how hard I try. One of them is the image of my mom, lying there on the sofa, the way I found her that day. I'd really like to be able to forget that one. Giles says I need to give it time.
The other is the image of Spike lying on the floor of his crypt where I found him-and it felt so much like my mom, so much like that nightmare all over again-with his eyes gouged right out of their sockets.
I haven't thrown up in a really long time-again, not since my mom. Along with the Slayer strength comes this whole constitution-of-a-Clydesdale thing that I'm really grateful for, otherwise I'd be puking my guts out all the time, if not from the actual gore-aspects of the job, then from the stress of needing to save the world every five minutes. But it was a close one, that night. If it hadn't been for the adrenaline rush and the absolute, pure rage that I felt, I probably would have vomited all over him and then passed out cold right next to him.
'Cause he was out cold, and that was most definitely of the good. If he'd been awake...if I'd had to watch him suffer like that all alone, I might have been tempted to stake him, just to put him out of his misery. Thank God, or Fate-or even the fucking bitch that did it to him-that he wasn't and I didn't.
He couldn't have been lying there like that for very long...at least, that's what I keep telling myself. He says he doesn't remember, but sometimes I think he's lying.
I hadn't seen him in two nights-maybe three-and I'd just stopped by to see if he wanted to patrol. No biggie, we did it all the time, at least once a week since my return from the great beyond. And to be honest, I'd wanted to talk to him about Dawn. Things with Dawn were not OK, and he always seemed to have a good perspective on that situation. Took the time to remind me what it was like to be young. Sometimes it feels like I haven't been young in a million years.
So there I was, standing at the door of his crypt, thinking maybe I should knock. I never had before-not real sure if he would even hear me if I did, 'cause that door is pretty thick. And it was weird to even be considering it, since I usually just slam my way in. I've found that the confrontational approach works best with Spike, keeps him on his toes. But the door was open partway anyway, so I just gave it a push and went in.
Blood. Puddles of it, all around him. Even in the dark, no candles burning, nothing but the moonbeams through the doorway, I could see the blood. And other stuff that I couldn't identify at the time. Not gonna dwell on that, though.
He was facedown on the floor, so I didn't see at first. I knew something had attacked him and I knew it was probably bad, but after all, how bad could it be? He wasn't dust, so he wasn't dead, and anything else would heal, eventually. So I flipped him over.
I screamed. Big. Big, noisy screaming from me.
And then I gagged and turned away, 'cause looking at the mess that had been his face was not of the possible at that point.
Don't know how long it took me to pull it together. Probably not more than twenty seconds or so. I'd like to think I'm pretty good in emergency situations, but ever since that day with my mom...
I know. I keep coming back to that. Not sure why.
I was afraid to move him by myself. I could have carried him, but to be honest, I just couldn't deal. I needed serious backup and I needed it fast and bless Giles for insisting on the whole cell phone deal.
I sat by him and waited for the cavalry. He never moved a muscle the whole time and I was really, really glad. I sat there and thought about how bad I was going to tear into whatever had done this to him. I was gonna give it a big, large, tremendous hurt before I killed it. Really.
I tried not to look at his face. I took one of his hands in mine and just looked at that. Funny, I never noticed that he had stopped painting his nails. And they were nibbled right down to the quick, but I don't remember ever seeing him bite them. Must be something he does when he's alone.
I heard them coming and met them outside the door. Felt like I had to warn them. Giles went in first with the first aid kit. I heard him make a little sharp noise and then a deep sigh. I told Willow and Tara to wait and I followed him in.
He was wrapping white gauze around Spike's head.
"We'll have to take him with us. I can't tend to him properly here."
I just stood there, watching, feeling that sick, helpless feeling that I remembered from when...well, you know.
Willow and Tara came in then, and they began to gather up a few of his things and put them in his old duffel bag. His cigarettes and lighter were on the table by the chair. Tara opened a book that had been facedown on the tomb: The Complete Works of John Donne. She read from a marked page, "Busy old fool, unruly sun..." Then she closed it and put it in the bag with the other things.
Willow looked around. "Seems like a lot of blood for just...you know, just his eyes."
Giles glanced up at me. The bottom half of his body was still turned partway toward the floor. His left leg was bent at the knee and that covered the worst of it. When we moved his leg and turned him completely onto his back and got a really good look, we all just sort of...moaned.
Giles cut his jeans off of him. I'm pleased to say that, unlike Tara and Willow, I didn't get dizzy and need to leave the crypt, but it was a near thing.
There were...chunks...missing. Actual, bite-sized chunks of flesh. This is hard, really hard. Remembering this, I mean.
Giles examined him. I had to look away, not just 'cause of the gore, but because he was naked from the waist down and it just seemed...I don't know-disrespectful? I know. That's just stupid. But he was so vulnerable, lying there like that, and I know I wouldn't want him ogling if it were me.
After he was done bandaging what could be bandaged, Giles said, "Well, nothing...er...important looks to be missing, but these wounds are deep. It appears as if something tried to rip his...that is to say...Spike is very, very lucky."
"Oh, yeah. Let's make sure and tell him how lucky he is, if he ever wakes up." That came out a lot snottier than I intended it. But Giles just looked at me and gave me kind of a weak smile.
"He'll wake up, Buffy."
"And that's a good thing?"
He didn't answer me that time.
Between the two of us, we carried him out of the crypt and were halfway to the cemetery gates when I remembered.
"Wait! His coat! Willow...go back and get his duster..."
"I...I don't think it's there. I looked around for it, but I didn't see it."
We put him in Giles's car. I was tempted to go back myself and look for the coat, but while I was standing there considering it, Spike twitched.
It was just once. His hand kind of jumped and jerked against his thigh, and that was all. But it scared me, 'cause I knew if he woke up then and there, we'd be in trouble.
Wasn't very long before I realized that anyplace Spike woke up in that condition was a place of trouble.
Continued in Chapter 2