By Devil Piglet
Disclaimer: All characters of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are used without permission.
Author’s Notes: I will go down with this 'ship/I won't put my hands up and surrender.
Feedback: Reviews are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.
He’d failed. Again.
He was standing among the bleached-out concrete bones of Sunnydale. Sun shining on his face, flaming death markedly absent and wasn’t that as sure a sign as any? Not a living thing in sight; just him and the circling vultures, attracted to what was once more desert and scrub and human detritus.
He started to dig.
He’d been so sure they would win. So confident. It had all come together, there at the end. Even had the strength to push – her – off and go it alone. Idiot. Should have known he’d fuck it all up. Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The First seemed to have abandoned the site of its triumph, which left Spike to sort through the messes. He’d done it often enough before.
They had to be down there. All those little girls, with their big eyes and scared faces. The Watcher, the witch and the Key. He laughed hysterically at the cadence of his own voice as it echoed off the walls of the crater. Xander; the dark-haired Slayer who’d smoked and smiled with him. And her. Oh, God, her. She must have been so disappointed, so horrified and ashamed and sorry that she’d trusted him to finish things. She’d died knowing that he hadn’t.
Day passed into night and back again. There was pain, unfamiliar pain, that grew. He felt he should have been able to work faster, lift the stones with more ease, not tire so quickly. But then he’d always been weak.
On the third day he found Anya.
Oh, she’d been cut. Bastard Bringers for sure. He could still see her face, her funny inquisitive gaze and unexpectedly sweet smile. There were flies gathering now, where it had been.
He’d see his girls like that, soon enough. Couldn’t bear the thought but couldn’t bear the idea of them down there one more second, either. They must be so cold. His Bit got the shivers just from visiting him at the crypt. And Buffy with her silly useless scraps of clothing, no protection at all.
He’d find them and wrap them up snug. Dawn would wriggle and squirm away, but without any real effort. She loved to be cuddled and couldn’t hide it. Buffy…Buffy would be harder to care for but he would just the same. Even if she pushed him away as the evil useless thing that he was. He’d sit with them beside him, he’d watch over them. Dawn would chatter and Buffy would gradually relax. Dawn’s head on his knees as she sleepily counted stars. And if he sat very still, Buffy might lean close, nestle against his shoulder. “Mmm,” she’d murmur. “This is nice.”
He sat there among the rocks and choking dust, holding Anya’s broken body in his arms. Buffy’s breath in his ear.
“Oh, Spike. You take such good care of us.”
Burning, burning, burning. End. My. Torment. Snippets of conversation that floated in the air, gone before he could grab them.
“…Delusional. It’s a common side effect of heatstroke –”
“Then it’s true? He’s really…?”
“— from the local authorities.”
“He doesn’t seem dangerous –” Footsteps coming closer and now hands on him –
“Watch it, Fred! Watch it! Gunn, hold his arms!”
“Spike, can you hear me?”
“He’s unresponsive. Angel, even if he wanted to speak the swelling around his vocal cords –”
“...Call Buffy? I mean, she’ll want to …”
“…Instructions were clear. We’re not to contact her until we can be sure –”
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Continued in Part 2: The Wayfarers' Lodge