All About Spike - Plain Version
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CHAPTER 10 - WELCOME TO SUNNYDALE
It was hard to breathe. She'd come to take him home, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. He gazed at her and managed to choke out, "Thanks, luv."
And Angel came in the room. "Buffy?"
"Angel!" End of quality time for Spike. Buffy stepped across the room. As easily as Dru, she left him for the arms of his sire. The two of them smiled at each other with an ease and comfort she had never felt for him.
Why not? Peaches is her bleeding soulmate, the superman with the soul.
He looked down at his papers, afraid of what his face might show them if they looked back at him. He carefully straightened the paper like the proper scholar he used to be. A quick glance up showed his sire looking all-suffering and noble and Buffy holding a hand to his cheek. Right, the same thing she had done to him a couple of minutes ago and he had felt so soddin' happy about. No big thing, he told himself. If she came across a hurt hamster, she'd probably touch its puffy little cheek and gaze sympathetically at it. His blasted human hearing was too dull to hear what they were saying, but it was probably better that way.
Dawn came in with the hot chocolate and it was all hugs and warm fuzzies when she saw Angel. The Ol' Poof still looked pretty devastated over the loss of his kid, but he managed to rise to the occasion, looking noble, suffering and ever the gracious host.
"Angel, I think these scrolls might be important." It was a shame to break the little Walton's reunion scene but a bloke could only tolerate so much before he heaved. "Is there a chance I can take them with me?"
His ever so generous Sire consented, so Spike gathered the papers and carried them off to the lobby. It didn't help that he saw the Fred girl sitting behind the desk and Gunn sitting next to her, the two of them dripping sappy romance.
He felt the old familiar pain and smiled bitterly at the irony of it all. For weeks he had been telling himself that it must be some bizarre malfunction in the chip, twisting him until he wanted to love and protect the woman he should kill. Now he had no chip and he was still in love with the girl. If he had ever thought about turning human, (and he rarely had) he had assumed that his emotions would be less passionate, more Victorian and proper. They weren't. Here he was, no chip, different body, complete with a soul, still desperately in love with Buffy. There had been no miracle change of personalities, no switch from an Angelous to Angel. He was still the poor wanker who loved a woman who didn't want him.
He looked down at the papers ruefully. Did he really think having a soul would make a difference? Hell, if having a soul made a difference, monkey boy would have bedded her years ago. Captain Cardboard would have been the long haul guy.
"Spike, here you are." He turned with relief and saw Dawn coming toward him. "Let's get to the car. Do you need any help with those." When he shook his head, "What are those for, anyway?"
"Just some records. Angel said it might explain what's happened." Dawn bopped over to say good-bye to Gunn and Fred and he joined her and thanked the couple. Part of him cringed at displaying proper English manners.
The doorway was in shade, but beyond that was the bright California sunshine. Over a century of reflexes made him pause at the edge of the shade, then he stepped out in the sun. For a moment he just stood there feeling the warmth bake in his skin. Back when he had briefly worn the Ring of Amara, he had been too intent on killing Buffy to pay attention to the sun. But now the light surrounded him and the radiance was like a blessing. Colors were brighter, even the colors of his loathsome clothes, and he was dazzled. He found himself grinning like an idiot.
He was looking up at the intense blue sky. "It's beautiful, Niblet. I can't wait to see if I freckle." He turned and saw Buffy behind him and flushed, remembering that the last time he had said that he had tried to kill her.
Buffy's face was still. "Do you want to drive?"
"Please Spike. Drive us home. You don't want to see Buffy drive."
"Sorry, pet, but I can't. My eyes aren't working very well."
Dawn groaned and got into the front. The Slayer took the driver's seat with reluctance. Spike stood for a moment, reluctant to leave the sun for the darkened car interior. He glanced over and saw Angel standing in the hotel doorway. A moment ago he had been so jealous of his sire he could hardly endure it, now he felt a flash of pity. For all his strength and experience, the souled vampire could never know the simple pleasure of walking in the sun. Angel was trapped forever in the dark. He gave his sire a rueful glance and got in the back seat.
* * *
It was the road trip from Hell. Sunday morning freeway traffic had been scary enough for Buffy, but by afternoon, Interstate 5 was busy. Traffic crawled, it was impossible to change lanes and they had to pass two accidents. After the first fifteen minutes, both of her passengers had gotten very quiet and let her concentrate on getting them home alive.
It didn't help that Buffy found herself distracted by Spike's reflection. She looked in the rear view mirror and saw him looking quiet and thoughtful. His bruised face looked so familiar. It's the way he looked after I beat him in the alley. He was just a thing, a soulless thing. The face behind her looked injured and human. He was human with the memories of how she had hurt and used him. She tried to concentrate on the traffic while she remembered beating him, insulting him and rejecting his every attempt to act like a man. And now he was a man, one who had seen and experienced her darkest side.
By time they reached Sunnydale, Buffy was tired and hungry. It was after five and they had skipped lunch. She should have picked something up, but she had paid the electricity bill and barely had enough money to get through to the next payday. She pulled by the cemetery.
Spike got out, then peered back into the car. "I've got a little money stashed away in my crypt. Let me get you some pizza or something. You're in no shape to cook."
Buffy started to protest, then Dawn over ruled her. She gratefully lost the argument. He went into the crypt and changed into his standard jeans and black T-shirt before returning.
She was a spectator at the meal. Dawn and Spike argued about the pizza topping and finally compromised on a half vegetarian, half extra meat and cheese combo. Her sister insisted on a salad, which Spike reluctantly sampled. He grumbled but seemed to secretly enjoy it.
The whole time, it was as if he was using her sister as a shield, a way to keep from talking directly to her. This was the being who had constantly followed her, demanding that they talk. Now, when he glanced at her, he looked almost shy.
When Dawn demanded that he tell them about how he had become human, he spun it into an epic. This was the Spike who could make even a story of killing families an entertaining tale for her sister. The whole weekend sounded like an almost comical adventure. Dawn laughed and Buffy wondered why he had fought so hard to keep from being turned back into a vampire.
The meal was almost over before she asked. "Where are you going to stay, Spike?"
The smile he had been wearing for Dawn faded slightly. "I'll be alright in my crypt."
"In a cemetery. Surrounded by newly risen vampires. I don't think so."
"I can take care of myself, Slayer. Been doing it for a century."
"It's not safe. You need to stay someplace else for a while, at least until you recover from your injuries."
"They aren't that bad. Besides," his voice was quieter. "I don't really have anywhere else . . ."
"Buffy, he could be with us. At least until he gets stronger. "
He frowned, "You don't need to worry. If it gets too bad I might be able to make some sort of arrangement with Clem."
"Buffy, you can't let him go back to the cemetery. He's human now and they'll get him!"
Buffy decided. "Spike, you should stay with us." When he started to protest, she added, "Dawn worries about you. It'll just be a few days until we can get you settled someplace better."
Dawn looked at him with big puppy-dog eyes and he snarled and agreed.
It must have been an act, Buffy decided later. Despite his grumbling, he fell asleep on the couch within five minutes of their arrival. She had gone to the back room to fetch his duster and pictures to return them, but by the time she was back, he was sleeping. He was leaned back, still sitting, so she coaxed him to lie down. She pulled off his shoes, looking at the blisters and cuts on his feet.
Dawn brought a blanket and Buffy covered him up. No one was looking, so she allowed herself to tenderly brush the hair back from his sleeping face.
* * *
She stood by the woods, slowly scattering Spike's ashes. The breeze swirled them around her and they smelled of leather and whiskey and cigarettes. She inhaled, then began to cry softly.
Her head was in Tara's lap. The blond witch was stroking her hair as she cried. "Do you love him? I-It's okay if you do. He's done a lot of good, and, and he does love you. A-and Buffy, it's okay if you don't. You're going through a really hard time, and you only have five days left."
"Five days?" She looked up at the Tara's face, but the wicca was staring up in the air, terror in her face. Buffy looked up. The dust was swirling faster, and flames were shimmering in the swirl. The flames were white and in them shone the image of Dawn, tied up in the tower, blood flowing from the slash in her abdomen. She was crying.
Buffy hugged Dawn, trying to stop the tears. But Dawn was staring up at her with frightened eyes. "I know. Buffy, I know about the ritual! I have to stop it."
"I have to! Look at what's happening! Buffy, you have to let me go! Blood starts it, and until the blood stops flowing it'll never stop. You know you have to let me ... It has to have the blood..."
Buffy was running now, diving into the open portal. Amid the fear and the pain, she smelled the faint smell of leather and whiskey and cigarettes. The dust brushed her lips.
She woke up. She shivered, praying that the dream was just a nightmare. Don't let it be a Slayer dream! Please, don't let any of that be the future! But in her gut she already knew the truth.
Continued in Chapter 11 - HUGS AND BAR FIGHTS
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