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Bonfire Night
By Ariana

Buffy & Spike - [PG] - 06/11/2002
Set after "Selfless" (7.05) Spike celebrates an old tradition.

The flames rose high in the clear night air, casting dancing orange shadows on the peaceful park lawn. She had run all this way just for this? He looked all right. Calm. Just sitting beside the fire with a bottle of beer in his hand. Buffy sighed to catch her breath again, and then advanced.

"Spike, what are you doing?" she demanded. "Xander called and said you were setting fire to a pile of...desks?".

"Bonfire night, pet. Remember, remember, the fifth of November and all that rot." He pointed at a half-melted sweater in the fire. "Made myself a nice little William to burn. Far more deserving than Guy Fawkes."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "What are you on about?"

"Guy Fawkes," repeated Spike with irritation. "Tried to blow up Parliament. Ended up hung, drawn and quartered. Not a nice thing; probably quicker to be drained by a vampire, if you ask me. Though that's no picnic." He ran his hand through his hair. "Rotten luck for something he didn't finish. But got to punish the sinner, you know. Burn him at the stake every year now."

"Nice tradition."

"Yeah, lots of traditions. Penny for the Guy, and flowers on the graves, and poppies. I remember the poppies. And then shell-shocked kids begging on street corners cos they got their brains shot out at Verdun and they lungs gassed out at Ypres. Remember it all." He shook his head. "Didn't hurt back then. Didn't care; it was an easy meal. But now, it's all pain. Thought I'd feel bad about what I did. Never thought I'd feel bad about all the rest. Things I saw but didn't do." He looked up at Buffy standing beside him, his expression puzzled. "Do you feel that too; the pain of everyone else? All the suffering of all the people. It's enough to drive you potty. Do you know how it feels?"

The thoughts and suffering of all the people around her in her mind, driving her insane. Buffy knew exactly how it felt. But Spike couldn't possibly be feeling the same thing.

"No," she said curtly. "I don't."

"Course not. Heart of stone." Spike shook his head again. "Where's the girl I fell in love with? The one who fought and laughed and loved, and danced with her friends."

"She died."

"Well, so did I, pet. So don't think that's some kind of excuse. There's no excuses. Just what you do and how you deal with it." He turned away, burying his face in his hands. "Fat lot you would know about that. Great at not dealing with things, but now's the time. Got to deal and sort things out. Otherwise, it's no good. William's got to be a good boy."

There had been a time when Spike had been fearless and confident. Now, he was cowering by a pathetic little fire in the school grounds, muttering incomprehensibly. Buffy crossed her arms.

"You're a wreck, Spike."

"For God's sake, woman!" he exclaimed, startling her. "If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all. Did your mother teach you no manners?"

"I don't have time for this," said Buffy, turning away. She had only taken two steps before he spoke again.

"I know why you hate me," he said. Buffy stopped with an irritated sigh. "It's because of him, isn't it? You hate me because I did what he wouldn't. He didn't love you enough."

Livid with rage, Buffy clenched her fists. "You don't know anything about Angel."

"Knew him about fifteen years longer than you," said Spike with a shrug. "Didn't hang around the souled version, mind you. But if I still feel like Spike, he must still feel like Angelus, so I really did know him. He messed you up right and proper, didn't he, pet? Fucks you, kills your friends, dumps you. Probably weren't pure enough for him by then. Always had a thing for virgins, old Angelus. You, Dru... me. Screwed us all over right and proper."

Touched by his words, Buffy wanted to hit him, hurt him, rip his head off and pummel him into the ground. But he was helpless, insane and ensouled. It would be wrong, and Buffy never did anything wrong. So instead, she stood in silence, her nails digging bloody crescents into her palms.

"You're disgusting," she hissed between clenched teeth.

"Oh. Hadn't heard that one for a while. You need a new scriptwriter, love." Spike threw his beer onto the bonfire. "And as the flames climbed high into the night, too like the sacrificial rite. I saw Satan laughing with delight... Am I Satan? No. Not bad enough. Bloody awful, horrible person, but not bad enough. Never good enough either. Used to be a good little boy. Curly blond hair. Like a cherub, Mother said. But turned out I was evil anyway. Discovered that when I was seven. Teacher looked at me and said 'You're evil'. Switched my hands so hard I couldn't write for days."

In spite of herself, Buffy looked at him with concern. "Why? What did you do?"

"Do?" Spike laughed and hugged his knees. "It was nothing I had done. It was what I was." He lifted his hand. "Left-handed. Evil, you see; only right-handed people go to Heaven. Didn't matter how hard I tried, the letters always came out wobbly." He shrugged. "Doesn't matter anyway. Me and my hand got revenge in the end. Just shows you he was right."

"Guess so." Buffy turned to walk away. The last thing she wanted to do was talk about Spike's childhood.

"Yeah. Run away. Always the easiest solution. Used to do a lot of that too. Don't have anywhere to run to now."

"You're just doing this to make me stay with you," said Buffy, turning to face him in exasperation.

Spike gave her one of his trademark 'duh' looks. "Well, yes. Solitude's not all it's cracked up to be, you know, pet. No one to comfort you in the dark. Nothing to do but worry about things to come." He pointed at her. "I'm out of my basement. When are you going to get out of the grave? You have work to do, pet."

"Oh yeah? 'From beneath you it devours'? Kinda getting tired of that one."

"You should try having it in your head." Spike tapped his temple and gave her a charming smile. "You'll be a busy bunny pet. Might as well have fun in the meantime."

"Yeah, and I guess you think I should be having fun with you?"

Spike shrugged. "No, I'm not much fun. But you should have fun with your friends, your little sis, your job upstairs."

"How do you know I don't?"

"Wouldn't be trying to dump all your frustrations on me, just like old times. And getting annoyed because you can't," he said in a matter-of-fact voice. "Might leave me alone if you were happy."

Buffy crossed her arms. "Is that really what you want, me to leave you alone?"

"No. I want you to be happy. Shagging miserable Buffy wasn't all it was cracked up to be." Spike shook his head. "And now look at me. Bloody wreck. Not even convenient anymore. I didn't want you to know; thought it would be better if you could just whack me and run away. Fight or flight. That's how you deal, isn't it, pet? Beat 'em up or run away."

Unable to do either without proving him right, Buffy shifted from one foot to the other and waited to hear what else the crazy vampire had to say. The night was chilly, but it was warm by the bonfire.

"You could sit down, you know," said Spike. "You don't have to be nice to me, but you could be comfortable."

"I'm not sitting down with you."

"Too close for comfort. Is that why you hate me?" Spike looked up at her, his expression bewildered. "I didn't think I could hurt you. Didn't think I mattered that much."

"Believe me, you don't." Buffy sighed. "Look, why don't you tell me what you know about this thing that's coming?"

"Don't know any more than anybody else. Must be a broadcast message to all the demons. Nice cryptic message like crossword puzzles or the messages the Free French used to broadcast out of London. 'The cow is on the table. I repeat, The cow is on the table.' From beneath you, it devours... Reckon it's an anagram? Maybe not." Spike frowned. "I don't know what'll happen, but I just know it'll be terrible." He looked up at her. "Promise me you won't die again."

"I won't," said Buffy softly, caught unawares by his pleading tone.

Spike gave her a bright smile. "Thanks! I worry about you, you know."

I worry about you, too, thought Buffy. "You gonna stay out here all night?" she asked.

"No. Just wait until the fire dies down. Wouldn't want the school to go up in flames. Bitty Buffy needs an education."

"I don't know. Burning down the school isn't such a bad idea. Worked out great last time." Buffy smiled, but then realised Spike had no idea what she was talking about. She sighed. "Do you think I can face what's coming?"

"Of course you can!" Spike's certainty made her smile again. "You always do. With a little help from your friends." He lowered his eyes. "And I'll help too, if I can. Wanted to be human, really, cut out all the bad things, start afresh. But not much use then. Thought vampire strength would come in handy, even before Radio Evil started up in my head." He smiled almost bashfully. "It was the only thing you liked about me."

Buffy thought back on their haphazard, miserable relationship, then dismissed it again. Leave the past to the past; things were different now. She sat down on the grass beside Spike.

"So, tell me about this Bonfire Night..."

This story is copyright 06/11/2002 by Ariana. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the property of Mutant Enemy.

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