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Three Lions
By Lesley

Part 13. Should I stay, or Should I Go?

It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Offering myself up to Lurky - piece of piss compared to this. One on one against a Slayer - been there, done that; got the scar and the coat instead of the T-shirt. Even if I did leave the coat behind, along with the old me. I'd prefer another bout of Hell-god torture. I let the girl I love batter me senseless, and leave me to die alone in an alley - again. That one I'd do again in a heartbeat if it'd make her feel one iota better. And, yes, I do know the shrink would frown at that one - self esteem issues and all that rot. I don't care; I love her.

I'd do anything to stop her hurting. Bloody well did, didn't I? And oh boy it hurt. It hurt getting the soul. It hurts living with the bloody thing, and all the bloody things I did for over a century. It hurts living with myself over what happened with Willow, even if I l know there wasn't a choice in the matter, and we all tried everything we could to help her. Now, to stop Buffy hurting, I've got to do the one thing I haven't faced up to since I got here.

I've got to tell him why I left Sunnydale and got myself fixed with a soul.

I've got to tell him what I did in that bathroom, and why she may not want me to come back with him. It has to be her choice; not mine. I won't hurt her again. If she wants me to come home only so she can beat the shit out of me, then dust me, I'll let her. If she wants me off the planet I'll see if NASA's ever thought about using vamps for long term exploration missions. If she wants me far away from her, but for me to fight the good fight somewhere in the World, I'll do it. If she wants me to stake myself I'll do it. I've got the pencils now.

If he wants to stake me I won't stop him. Hell, I'd give him the bleeding stake myself if I had one. Be more than I deserve anyway.

She's the one subject we haven't talked about. You'd think we would have, wouldn't you? She is the big one after all. Well before Willow anyway. I really thought she'd have told him. Part of me was surprised I wasn't staked on sight when I arrived on his doorstep. The part of me that found the idea of sunbathing appealing at that point was a bit disappointed, to be honest.

But I've got to be honest, even if it kills me. It just might too - especially after what happened with Willow. It's better too if I tell the truth, rather than have this come out from someone else, if he doesn't already know.

I'm a terrible liar; I know that. My face gives me away every time. What I always have been able to do is not mention things, select what I do mention - sins of omission. Must be the English gentleman buried beneath the demon. After all being economical with the truth was good enough for Government Ministers; never used to be a problem for me. It was the result that counted. See want get; and all that. On the subject of Buffy, it was a sin of omission. I couldn't bring myself to talk about what happened. He didn't ask; so I didn't have to either try lying and fail miserably, or confess and face staking. I don't know why he didn't ask. Without knowing what she did say to him I can't know. I couldn't face talking about her, so we didn't talk. Maybe we were both living up to the national stereotype, for once.

Of course it was also the one thing I couldn't face and wail about. I couldn't even face talking about it to the shrink. Just told the guy I'd done something unforgivable, and had no choice but to change. I only got up to 1923 in my little book. That filled enough pages as it was. From what Red and Giles said he took her pretty much straight back to the Coven, to bind her powers, once she'd come down. Didn't pass Go; didn't collect 200. No time for her to talk to Buffy I guess, cos she certainly didn't know. If she had I've no doubt she'd have thrown it in my face at the worst possible moment. So, with all that, unless Buffy'd told him he wouldn't know. Once we'd both started the, don't ask; don't tell, there was never the right moment to talk.

If I'm selfish, and I know the demon in me is selfish, I didn't want to lose the warmth, the friendship, and the support I'd found here. I needed it so badly. I've never really had it before. Didn't have it when I was alive; didn't have it when I was dead. I just wanted, and needed, to feel warm - even if it was only for a little while.

I respect him too. Always have. He was there for me, when nobody else was. I don't want to lose that. I know this thing with Willow is killing him. I want to be there for him, like he was for me. But I can't lie to him either. He'll be making the travel arrangements next, and if she won't have me there I can't go.

The worst bit is that he only really wants me to come because he's worried about me.

I want to go. I want to help him through this. I want to apologise to Buffy. I want to make things right. I want to give her the choice to kill me if it'll make her feel better. I want to try and help Anya sort out her life. Neither of us wanted to hurt anyone, but I know we both did. I want to see my little Nibblet - if she'll let me. If Giles doesn't know, maybe she doesn't either, and there's some hope there. I want to make everything up to her too. Clem's been a good mate to me. I've never really had one before. I can appreciate him better now. It'd be good to see him. I want to pay my debts. I want to pay my debts to all of 'em. I do except Angel from that though. He's still in deficit to me. And I'm very much in two minds about the whelp. I know I should; I just don't really want to, not after the way he treated Anya and me recently. Gotta soul; not become a bleeding saint.

I don't want to go. I'm scared, and I hate that feeling. It's gonna be ugly. I'm still only hanging on by a thread. I'm not sure how much more tugging that thread can take. I'm not sure I can hear her voice in person. I sat there, to give support, while he made the call. God, that was hard. Heard her voice then. Heard her scream. That tore me well up. If I have to see her I might not be able to stand it. It might destroy me - whatever the new me is. But then I didn't exactly make it out of Sunnydale in one piece last time either. The old me's gone after all. Or if it's not gone, it's well buried under this bloody soul.

It's like I've got that bloody Clash song going through my head on auto-replay. Not for the first time in recent years either.

Should I stay or should I go?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double

Why couldn't it be 'White Man in Hammersmith Palais'? I like that song much better. Great memories that one had. I was a very white bloke down the Hammersmith Palais after all. Had a bloody marvellous time down there an all - me and Dru. God, all that blood mixed with the safety pins, the music, the beer bottles, and the gobbing. It hurts so bloody much. I hate this soul sometimes. I know I shouldn't, but I do.

So, time to tell him. It's been a short soulled un-life, and mostly miserable, but with some moments of joy.

***

"Giles. There's something I need to tell you. Dunno if you already know, but if you don't I've got to. You're gonna hate it; but believe me, you couldn't hate me more I do. It's the reason I went off and got the soul. If you want to stake me afterwards I'll stand outside, so you don't have to dust the house. If you can't bring yourself to touch me, to dust me, just give me the stake; I'll do it myself."

God this is hard, but I gotta continue. "If you don't trust me outside, and don't want to look at me, once I've told you, I'll go upstairs with it. I might be some time." My voice cracked a bit on that one. This is bloody hard enough. No mocking of National Heroes while I'm doing it. Even if the idea of Polar! Explorer! Me! is a classic. My sense of humour's gonna kill me one of these days. Why the bloody hell does it always come out at exactly the wrong moment? I wouldn't mind. I meant every bloody word, and now I sound like a right pillock.

"I'll say this now, in case I don't get the chance later. Thanks for helping me. Know I don't deserve it. Appreciate it more than you could know. Wanna help, if I can. Make up for everything you've done for me. Be there for you two, like you were for me. Make up for a few things. But it can't be my decision. Gotta be hers."

"Ok, you've got my attention. What's so bad to bring on this attack of the drama queens?" Giles said, from the comfy chair.

Deep breath. Might be the last after all - better appreciate it. Plus I need it to talk. OK.

"Dunno what you know about what happened with Buffy and me."

"She told me you'd slept together. We didn't exactly have a great deal of time for Giles as Agony Uncle; the repeat. We did have Willow to deal with at the time. Then there wasn't exactly the time for a long talk afterwards. Too much had to be attended to, and too many injuries fixed up. Is this really the time to deal with this? I've got the flights to arrange, and, to be honest with you, I'm not really sure I want to talk about this. Except to say that if you hurt her I'll kill you."

Bugger.

Well honesty is the best policy, if the most fatal in this case obviously.

"I did. I didn't intend to. I never wanted to. Last thing I ever bloody wanted in fact. But, fact is I did. I didn't take no for an answer, until she clocked me one. I couldn't hear her; it hurt too much. I just flipped Giles. I hurt her, and she had to knock some sense into me. Well, I saw sense. Went and got the soul and..."

He sprang up from his chair and his fist slammed straight into my nose.

***

On the plus side I'm not dusty yet. My nose, however, is definitely broken. But I'll take this one as totally deserved, unlike others - which weren't.

***

Wesley stepped in between us. He put a hand on each of our shoulders, not hard, but enough so that you knew he was there, and just looked at Giles for some time. It seemed to work, and they nodded at each other. Wesley threw me the box of Kleenex for my nose. Then they went into the kitchen and shut the door.

Reprieve or stay of execution? I know I should listen. I can after all - vamp hearing and all. Right now I don't think I really care. I'm too drained. There's a limit and with all that's happened recently, and forcing myself to do this, I just past that limit - with one hell of a speeding ticket.

Oh, I can hear some things without even focusing. I could hear Wes talking about not throwing away a useful ally. I could hear Giles screaming at Wes for wanting to protect someone who'd hurt his girl; that he'd had more than enough of that from Angel, and he that wasn't about to sit through a replay. Then of course he said he'd thought that I was better than Angel, and that he was clearly wrong. That hurt - a lot. I think that's the point I started crying. I might be wrong, right now I can't think too clearly.

I did hear ever logical Wes say, "But he clearly is better than Angel. He saw he did wrong, and went to fix the problem, to stop it happening again. From my brief experience of Angelus, and your reports of him, it's a quite different situation. He's obviously sorry, and willing and eager to make reparations and apologies. Again, somewhat of a contrast to Angelus, or even the soulled smothering version."

The swearing from Giles muted at that, though it did continue for some time. Then Wes continued with, "You need to get out of here for a bit, away from Spike. Talk things through, away from here. It's early yet. We can go round to the local for a swifty, or two. Come on, let's go and talk things through, away from here."

Giles voice segued out of swearing in Arabic. My mum would have been mortified at some of the insults, but fortunately she didn't find out what her boy became, and didn't speak Arabic either. I do and I deserve every word of it. Giles must have agreed because they came out of the kitchen. He said, "Spike, I know you heard that. Be here when I come back. I want your word on it."

Well that was a no-brainer. "Of course. I'll be here, and thank you."

He snorted, "I wouldn't," and they left.

***

They were gone for hours. Yes, I could have done a runner. I could have continued running. Running from them, from her, from the Council and its lackeys. Yep I could have done that. I didn't. I'm through running. He wants to stake me when he comes back; he can. If she wants to, she can too. I've done what I can. I've done the work. I've made the changes. I'm not running, and I'm not hiding. I'm facing up to what I've done, and I'll pay the consequences for it. I'm also a bloke of his word. Always have been, and I'm not changing now.

***

The half-open whisky bottle sat on the living room table. I'm sure it was watching me. I'm pretty sure I could hear it calling me. It was bloody tempting to let it work its magic. I didn't. Dunno if leaving it there was a test. I doubt it. Not with me springing that little bombshell. It worked like a bloody test though. This test I passed. The bottle remained untouched; not a drop for old Spike. Hey, new start and all that. Gotta continue as you mean to go on, and I can't see Giles being too impressed if I'm hammered when he comes back. Assuming that is he doesn't call in the wetworks boys he was cursing yesterday if he doesn't want to soil his hands with the likes of me.

He came back. They both did.

He sat down, glared at me, and said, "We talked it over. We both agreed with you that it's buffy's call. Well, I made that call. She doesn't want you staked, and will accept your coming back with us. I think it was a shock, and I'm worried since she was alone in the house with nobody to discuss this with, but - you're coming. Get packed! And Spike...you're on your last chance here. Don't blow it."


Continued in Part 14. Bittersweet Symphony


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