All About Spike - Plain Version
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CHAPTER 9 - BUFFY
Dawn had not taken Spike's dusting well. If she had screamed or whined, it would have been a comfort, but the teenager had been quiet, too wounded to cry.
"Do you want to talk about it, Dawnie?"
Dawn had shaken her head. She had looked at her older sister with stricken eyes. "What's the use Buffy? It's not like you cared. I'm the only one that liked him and now he's dead."
Buffy wanted to protest, to say. . . What could she say? That sometimes she had liked him and sometimes she had almost loved him and other times she had hated him and loathed herself for wanting him. That the world without a bleached, swaggering vampire was suddenly a very empty place. She envied Dawn for the uncomplicated affection she had shared with Spike and the uncomplicated grief she could feel at his passing.
Tara had come over and taken care of Dawn last night while Buffy worked late shift and patrolled. It was the first time the blonde witch had spent the night in the same house with Willow since the breakup, but both Wiccas were concerned about the teenager and had put her needs first.
When Buffy had returned she had tried to get some sleep. She had only a few hours until the morning shift and she needed the rest. But sleep eluded her. She had too many memories.
Finally she had gotten up and gone out again. She was restless. With her mother's death there had been a funeral to arrange and things to do and a dozen activities to distract her from the raw pain of her loss. With Spike, there was nothing. No one holds a funeral for a vampire. There was no ceremony to mourn their passage. You couldn't even pray for them; they were demons. A dead pet received more respect than the dust from a complex and intelligent being.
She was going to his crypt to get his duster, she told herself. It would comfort Dawn. She entered the crypt and picked up the coat and almost unconsciously wrapped it around herself. It smelled like him, leather, tobacco, whiskey and something subtler, unique to her lover. My ex-lover, she told herself, and tears finally began to fill her eyes as she remembered the anguished look in his face when she had ended everything.
She decided to take the pictures with her as well. She lit a candle with his lighter and went down into the lower chamber. While she was there she looked around, drowning in the memories. The poor charred bed that they always seemed to miss. The dozens of candles he had used to try and make his dark world romantic. But of all his tattered property, only the pictures and the coat were worth taking, the rest would be left to decay.
She climbed back to the upper level, staring at the crypt for a last time. Her eyes fell on the pile of dust again. It somehow seemed wrong to ignore his remains, to leave it there for bugs and rodents to root through. She finally decided to use one of the cardboard boxes he had been using to clean up his crypt. She swept the ashes up and took them outside.
She carried them over to the woods outside of town. It was a distance and she was tired and sad. When she was finally there, she leaned against a tree and tried to figure out what to do next.
The sky was streaked with the first signs of dawn. If he was alive now, she thought, he would be returning to his crypt, preparing to spend another day hiding from the sun's deadly rays. He had spent over a hundred years in the dark.
As the sun rose, a breeze began to blow. She slowly took out a handful of the dust and watched the breeze lift and scatter it. Handful by handful she scattered the dust. She longed to think of something appropriate to say, some final benediction, but to say anything would be to admit that he was gone from her life.
Finally the box was empty. She was completely drained and exhausted. She made the long walk home and only had time to change before her shift at the Doublemeat Palace began. She buried herself in the mind-numbing job, because for now, anything was better than thinking and feeling.
"Welcome to Doublemeat Palace! May I take your order?"
"Buffy. Earth to Buffy"
Buffy's eyes focused. Willow was standing on the other side of the counter, smiling. A big glowy smile. Buffy glanced over and saw Tara and Dawn standing near the back of the restaurant. Smiling. Everyone was happy. Misery rose in Buffy's chest, threatening to explode. "Willow?"
"Buffy, Spike called. He's in LA."
It was suddenly hard to breathe. She tried to say something but the relief was so painful it choked her. Relief, joy, then anger. How dare he scare her so badly? The emotions battled within her, as she stood, speechless and paralyzed.
Willow leaned forward, speaking in a low voice. "Look, I didn't tell Dawn this, but he's been hurt. Really bad. And they say he's in a lot of danger and needs someone to get him away from the city. "
Fear joined the battle and won. Buffy turned and stepped over to the manager. "I'm sorry to do this, but an emergency has come up. I have to leave." The manager started to protest but Buffy was firm. "Look, you can put me on double shifts next week if you need to, but I'm leaving." She took off her hat and joined the Wiccas and Dawn.
Dawn was radiant. "Buffy, I got up this morning and Spike had left a message on the answering machine. He's at Angel's. So Willow called Angel and they said he's alright."
Willow took over the narrative. "I called Angel's office and there was someone there and they said that Spike really needed someone to take him out of LA." She glanced back as Dawn, clearly not wanting to say everything she had been told. "So I told them that you would come and get him. "
"Me? But. . ."
Tara joined. "It should be you," she said firmly. "And you should take Dawn. She needs to see him."
"But driving to LA?"
Willow grinned. "I know your driving isn't pretty. But it's not a bad drive. Just get on Interstate 5 and get off at Sepulvida Blvd."
"Not pretty" was an understatement. Buffy and cars were very un-mixy. She could fight demons and slay vampires but driving on a freeway scared her. You had to change lanes and no one would let you in and there was always the risk of being in the wrong lane and discovering that you would have to exit to Bora-Bora. She had barely had a chance to shower off the grease and dress before she found herself behind the wheel of the SUV on the Highway to Hell.
It didn't help that Dawn was excited and bouncing and wanting to chatter. Buffy gritted her teeth and tried not to run into the truck that pulled right in front of her. She didn't even notice when Dawn turned the radio on to some obnoxious whiney boy band. "Sepulvida, Sepulvida," she kept whispering to herself, praying the she wouldn't have to change lanes to get to the exit.
It took three hours, but she finally pulled in front of the Hyperion. The fates were kind and she didn't have to parallel park. She shakily got out of the car and followed the bouncing sister up the steps and into the hotel's lobby.
Gunn greeted them. He introduced himself and explained that Angel was sleeping. "Spike's in the study. I can take you to him."
The study? Spike? Buffy was suddenly nervous. For three hours she had been concentrating on keeping the car on the road and hadn't had a chance to think about the blonde vampire. Now she realized that she didn't know how to react. She should be angry because he had broken his word to Dawn and scared them all to death, but another part of her wanted to hold him again.
Gunn showed them the door and she opened it and looked inside. And froze. Who? Spike? It couldn't be. Was he wearing a wig? And where had he dug up those clothes? Then he turned and looked at her and her heart ached when she saw his poor battered face. He was wearing glasses, which he awkwardly whipped off and tried to hide. One poor eye was swollen shut and the other looked so blue and vulnerable.
"Spike!" Dawn broke the silence, surging past Buffy and throwing herself into his arms. He winced in pain, but tried to hide it. She hugged him with tears of relief running down her face, "We thought someone had killed you. We found some dust in your crypt and you were gone!"
Buffy was almost envious as she saw his face relax into that tender grin he saved only for her sister. He hugged the girl and reassured her. "I'm fine, Niblet. I'm sorry if you were scared. But I definitely wasn't killed. In fact. . ." His grin became almost mischievous as he shifted the girl, laying the side of her head against his chest. "Listen."
Buffy started to protest, then she saw Dawn's eyes widen in wonder. "Spike! What's that?" Dawn drew back, looking at him questioningly. "Your hearts beating!" She reached out and touched his forehead. "You're warm. You're human?" Her mouth was open with astonishment. "How'd you get to be human?"
"Just lucky I guess. I got staked and someone worked some mojo and brought me back."
"Was it Willow?" Oh great, Buffy! She mentally kicked herself. Stupid, stupid thing to say.
Spike turned towards her. It hurt seeing how his face changed from the grin he had been sharing with her sister to uncertainty. "No, Red's in the clear on this one. It was some bloody lawyers!"
"What's with the hair?" Dawn reached over and ruffled his long sandy curls. He drew back and almost growled, despite being human. "Hands off, girl. I have you know this was the height of fashion a century ago. It made the birds swoon."
"Right," Dawn snorted. "And the clothes? Did those make them swoon or hurl?"
Spike grinned. "You got me there, Dawn. They're loaners and they look a lot better if your skin is green."
"Who hurt you?" Buffy finally was able to move. She walked closer to him. She wanted to reach out and touch his face. He looked up at her, and she could have drowned in his gaze.
He swallowed, then looked back at Dawn and tried to keep it light. "Nothing to worry about. I just had forgotten how delicate a human body is. I keep breaking it."
"Dawnie, could we have a moment alone?"
Dawn looked at Spike doubtfully. He nodded. "Look, Niblet, I think your sister had a rough time driving here. Why don't you go to the lobby and get one of the blokes there to help you fix her some hot chocolate. They have the type with the marshmallows like your mom made. It might settle the nerves."
"OK. Because you asked." She marched out, pausing only to look down at her shorter sister. "But you should have seen her; her knuckles were white the whole way down."
Dawn left. Buffy watched as his smile faded and he looked back at her. Involuntarily she reached out and stroked his cheek. It was warm, slightly whiskery. He closed his eyes.
Her hand moved down and felt the cut. Alarmed, she looked down and saw the ragged slash along his jawline. And below. . . Her hand reached up to her own neck and self-consciously touched the scar. "You've been bitten."
"Uh, yeah," He rubbed his neck. "Having a bit of a problem with Dru. She wants her old cold Spike back." He looked up at her again. " Lorne, that's the bloke that loaned me these spiffy clothes, suggested I get out of town."
For the first time in this entire awkward conversation, Buffy finally knew what to say. "That's why I'm here, Spike. I've come to take you home."
Continued in CHAPTER 10 - WELCOME TO SUNNYDALE
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