All About Spike - Print Version
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By Cody Nelson
SPOILERS: Through "The Gift."
SUMMARY: How they get her back.
FEEDBACK: Please, to firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMERS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and probably some others who aren't me.
Spike shifted uneasily in his sleep, one
hand bumping against the arm of the chair, awareness slowly rising through
drifts of stray thoughts and random slivers of emotion. He was vaguely
aware of resisting that rise to consciousness, knowing what it would bring.
But the resistance only pulled him further awake. And then came the pain.
Buffy's dead. It hit him like a
stake in the heart, savage burning pain. Every time, the moment he woke
up, pain as fresh as the day it had happened. Spike curled in on himself,
arms clutched across his chest, as if fending off blows. One harsh sob
wracked his throat. He swallowed hard and forced his eyes open.
The television still played quietly, although
the afternoon soaps were long over. He rarely turned it off any more.
He barely knew what he was watching, but the low chatter and flickering
images numbed him, took a tiny bit of the edge off the unbearable days
The program was some black and white melodrama.
He didn't particularly want to watch it, but he was too uninterested to
get up and change the channel. He'd always meant to steal a remote, but
somehow had never gotten around to it. The picture shrank in on its sides
and started to flutter. It had never worked properly.
Suddenly, the picture cleared and expanded
to fill the screen and burst into color.
Buffy stared out at him. Her green eyes
were wide open and intense.
Spike pushed himself upright, shocked gasp
caught in his throat.
"This is the portal," Buffy said. She spoke
carefully and clearly, as if reciting a lesson. There was a touch of irony
in her voice, as if to say, I know how Poltergeist this is. But what
can I do? Then she disappeared in a burst of static, and once again
a grainy monochrome mother wept at the rejection of her ungrateful daughter.
He reached out to the screen. "Buffy!"
But of course she was gone. If she'd ever really been there in the first
place. Just a dream, another desperate dream, like all the others. He
let himself slide back down in the easy chair, hands covering his face.
* * *
Willow pulled Tara closer, staring over
the softly rounded shoulder at the moonlight in the open window. She stroked
Tara's back. Tara stirred slightly, made small sleep noises, but didn't
wake. Willow envied her her sound sleep. Willow herself hadn't slept a
full night through since Buffy -- since the final battle with Glory. Her
days were full of studying, helping at the magic shop, visiting with Dawn,
loving Tara. It had gradually become possible to go minutes, sometimes
even most of an hour, not thinking about Buffy and how they'd lost her.
But not at night.
There was a face in the window. Long blonde
hair, bright green eyes. Buffy.
"Bring me home," Buffy said. Her voice
was clear, even through the window glass. Willow sat up, her sudden movement
causing Tara to open her eyes and sleepily mutter, "Willow?"
"Buffy, what's happening?" But Buffy had
Tara's hand touched Willow's arm. Willow
looked down at her, forcing a smile. "I saw Buffy at the window."
Tara looked out at the black night. "Sweetie,
it was a dream."
"No. I've been wide awake for hours. It
was... I don't know, a vision? A visitation? But it wasn't a dream."
Tara glanced at the window again, then
looked back into Willow's eyes. She nodded. "What do you think it meant?"
Willow settled back down into their bed,
wrapping her arms lightly around her precious girl. How good it was to
be understood! She started to tell Tara what she'd seen.
* * *
Giles sat at his desk, poring over the
records of the magic shop. Not that there was that much to pore over --
Anya kept the books with religious fervor. Not a stray penny would dare
slip out of place. But he found it comforting, the spare, clean march
of numbers. He buried himself too deeply in it, perhaps. Ledgers and balance
sheets, inventories and revenues. Descriptions of things, rather than
the things themselves. Although, how else was he to occupy his time? Without
a Slayer to watch... no, best not think of that.
They should order more wolfsbane; there
seemed to be a fad for it in amulets lately. And put the aesclepios on
sale; it wasn't moving well. Anya disliked sales, but she seemed more
amenable to them lately. Her engagement to Xander had mellowed her a bit.
Giles smiled wistfully to himself. He was
glad Xander and Anya had found each other. It was a strange relationship,
but a strong one. And Willow and Tara grew closer every day. Dawn had
been amazingly resilient. She still grieved, of course. They all did.
But whatever Buffy had said to her before leaping into the portal seemed
to have given her extraordinary strength. And caring for her had given
him a purpose that eased the pain of his own loss. They were all surviving,
or learning to, little by little.
Except for Spike, alone in his crypt. He
was healing from the terrible injuries he'd received being thrown from
the tower, but not from the grief of Buffy's death. The poor vampire had
been devastated. Giles had had a hard time convincing him to come away
from wreckage where Buffy had fallen before the sunlight came to take
him. They'd only been able to prevent him from staking himself by reminding
him of his promise to Buffy to protect Dawn. Not that he was doing much
protecting these days. He barely left his crypt.
It was hard to know what to do for him.
They all visited him, brought him blood to drink to help him recover.
Tried to tell him how much they appreciated his help, and his loyalty
to Buffy and Dawn. Nothing seemed to help. Was it an aspect of his long-lived
and slowly changing vampire nature that emotional wounds took so long
to heal? Or was it a peculiarity of Spike himself, isolated from his own
kind, emotional and far more susceptible to love than the average vampire?
Without Buffy he seemed to have no center, no purpose. In a way, Spike
had lost more than any of them.
Giles sighed, and turned over the paper
he'd been studying. The next page was the inventory of orbs and crystal
balls. These were steady sellers; no adjustment needed. There'd been a
nice bump in business right after the portal opening until all the invading
demons had been cleared away, but it was settling back down to normal
The numbers on the page suddenly seemed
to swim before his eyes. He paused to adjust his glasses. It was late;
he should be in bed.
The page came clear again. But it no longer
held lists of items, quantities, costs. It was an image of Buffy, a serious
look on her face. Beneath the image, in Gothic script, were the words
"Come to the Hellmouth."
Giles started, pushing himself back from
the table, his heart racing. Oh god, dear Buffy -- how could she have
done it? How could she have left them all like that? He rubbed his burning
eyes with thumb and forefinger, then stared again at the page.
It was now just numbers, lists of crystal
balls and orbs.
* * *
Xander groaned, untangling himself from
Anya's arms, and slid out of bed as quietly as he could. He shuffled off
to the bathroom, where he peed and washed his hands. He stretched in front
of the sink, hands pressed into his lower back. Sometimes he thought Anya
was going to kill him. He turned and craned his neck to inspect the scratches
across his shoulders. A slow grin spread across his face. Since they'd
gotten engaged, Anya'd been more inventive than ever. He wondered what
would happen when they actually got married.
He turned back to the sink, leaned in to
check his face in the mirror. He looked tired, but that was no surprise.
They'd only gotten to sleep an hour or so ago. And sleep was where he
should still be, only... he wasn't quite sure what had woken him up.
Xander stepped back and yawned widely.
When he opened his eyes....
Buffy. Buffy in the mirror. "Midsummer
night's dream," she said plainly.
"Buffy!" he squeaked. He jumped back, crashing
against the towel bar. He and it fell to the floor with a crash. One of
the towels tangled around his arm.
"Xander!" he heard Anya cry from the bedroom.
Before he could unwind himself from the towels, she was on the bathroom
floor beside him, holding his head in her hands, inspecting him for damage.
"Are you all right? What happened?"
"Buffy!" Xander managed to say. "In the
Anya stood up and looked in the mirror.
"I don't see Buffy. I see myself."
Xander struggled to his feet, still fighting
the towel around his arm. "She was there. She said 'Midsummer night's
dream.' And then... well, then I was attacked by the bad towels."
" 'Midsummer Night's Dream'? Buffy appeared
to you in a vision to recommend Shakespeare plays?"
"No. I mean, I don't know what she meant
by it. I don't know what...." He shook his head. "I don't know what I
saw. Or heard. Maybe it was just...."
Anya slipped her arms around his waist.
The towel fell to the floor. Other parts of him rose. "You're probably
just feeling guilty."
"Guilty?" Xander started.
"For having a lot of great sex and not
thinking so much about Buffy."
He looked at the floor. "Yeah. I have been
awfully... happy lately."
"It's okay." Anya stroked his face. "I
think Buffy would want us to."
"I know." He kissed Anya thoughtfully,
then stood looking over her shoulder into the mirror. All he saw was his
own face, and the back of Anya's head. "I do think about her. Every day."
Anya sighed. "Me too."
* * *
Dawn sat on the floor of Giles's spare
bedroom, books and potions gathered around her. An 8 x 10 photograph of
Buffy lay in the middle of the pile. She stared at the makings of a terrible
Buffy had told her it was wrong. Willow
and Tara had told her it was wrong. And finally, she had decided for herself
it was wrong. Her mother was dead, and shouldn't be brought back. She'd
just have to learn to go on without her.
But Buffy -- how could she go on without
Buffy? Buffy had told her she had to be strong, and take care of everyone,
and she tried, but she was just so tired and it hurt so much. She only
wanted to cry all the time. She wanted to be the one who'd died. Buffy
told her that living in the world was the hardest thing, but she had no
idea how hard it really was.
She could do the spell. She knew she could.
It had worked before, but she'd torn up the picture of her mother and
ended it. She still had the books, the incantation that funny little man
had given her. That funny little man who turned out to be a horrible demon,
who threw Spike off the tower and cut her and made Buffy jump into the
portal and die. But the spell had worked. All she needed was a Gorah demon
egg. That would be the hard part. She remembered where the demon was,
but she couldn't get the egg by herself. She was afraid to ask Spike to
help her this time. She'd meant to, but when she went to his crypt, she'd
been tongue-tied by the way he just sat in his chair and stared at her.
He looked... dead. He was so skinny and blue-white he reminded her of
a fluorescent light bulb, and his eyes looked cold, like they'd been in
a freezer. He'd feel better, too, if Buffy came back. They all would.
They couldn't be mad at her if the spell worked, could they?
Maybe she could get one of the boys at
school to help. She thought Kevin kind of liked her, and he played baseball
so he was strong and quick. She couldn't tell him what she wanted the
egg for, though. Tell him it was... an adventure, a dare, tell him anything,
just get the egg and do the spell.
Her eyes started to sting, and she sucked
in a sob. Tears fogged her vision. The photograph of Buffy swam before
her eyes. Then, suddenly, it seemed to deepen, grow, float up off the
paper. And then it was Buffy smiling gently at her, alive and real.
Dawn blinked twice, her eyes widening.
"I'm alive, Dawn."
"Buffy, how... ? Where are you? What can
"You're the Key," Buffy said. Then her
expression froze, and suddenly she was chemicals and paper again.
Dawn snatched up the photograph, turned
it over and over. She put it back on the pile of spell-casting ingredients
and stared intently at it. "Buffy! Come back!"
The photograph remained a photograph.
"Buffy!" Dawn began to sob. "I need you.
Please come back."
* * *
Spike groaned, fighting his way to consciousness.
Someone was touching his hair as he lay on his sarcophagus. Someone's
hand stroked the back of his head, sending tiny little shivers down his
spine. "Buffy...," he moaned.
Buffy's dead. The pain sliced through
him. He gasped, pulled away from the dream hand, and sat up.
It wasn't a dream hand. It was Willow,
standing there looking at him like he was a pitiful excuse for a demon.
Which he was.
He bent forward, rubbed his eyes, coughed
once. "Will. What d'you want?"
She sat down beside him and touched his
shoulder gently. "Sorry to wake you, Spike. How're you doing?"
He stared at her. Some questions didn't
deserve an answer.
She tried to smile. "We're having a meeting.
We think you should come."
He shrugged. "Dunno."
"It's important. It's about Buffy."
Even the sound of her name hurt. "Yeah?
What about her?"
"Spike, did anything, you know, weird happen
"Joan Crawford let her creepy daughter
walk all over her, but other than that...."
Willow's smile grew a little easier. "You
didn't see anything? Like Buffy?"
"What d'you mean?" he asked sullenly. No
way he was going to tell this lot about seeing Buffy on the television.
They'd think he'd gone mad.
"Spike, we've all had, I don't know, visions
or something. Of Buffy. We think she may be alive."
* * *
On the way to the magic shop, Willow explained
what they thought had happened. "When the portal opened, the walls between
all the dimensions broke down. Not just ours and Glory's. Lots of demon
dimensions, lots of others almost like ours. Like the one the vampire
me came from."
Spike raised an eyebrow. "Vampire you?"
Willow as a vampire? Now, that would be a lovely sight.
"Oh, that's right. You weren't around when
that happened. Anya and I conjured her up by accident. She was... well,
it was really weird. Spike, stop looking at me like that."
Spike quickly looked away, still picturing
her with fangs and forehead, fresh blood on her mouth.... But no. Not
in this world. "Do you know who her sire was?"
"No. We weren't exactly best pals." She
stopped. "You think it was you? The other you, I mean. In her dimension."
He shrugged. "I did try to do you that
one time. If not for the chip, you'd be vamp Will yourself."
"This does not make me feel warm and fuzzy
towards you, Spike."
"Sorry. Wouldn't do it now, you know. Even
if I could."
"It's okay." She patted him on the arm.
"Anyway, we think our Buffy fell through the portal into Glory's dimension.
But at the same time, some other Buffy in some other dimension jumped
through the portal in her world. And fell into ours."
"So you're saying the Buffy we buried...."
"Was a Buffy. But not our Buffy."
"And our Buffy...."
"Is alive in Glory's Hell dimension. Trying
to get home."
* * *
Buffy alive. Buffy. Alive. The words spun
around and around in Spike's mind, but he couldn't get them to make sense.
Buffy alive. He wanted to be happy but it hurt too much. The words twisted
and cut inside him like a knife. Like Doc's knife in his back. Like the
look on Dawn's face when he went off the tower. Like Buffy's broken body
lying in the rubble.
They walked on to the magic shop in silence.
Could it be that somehow they'd get her back? Alive? Buffy walking, talking,
fighting, slaying. Of course he wanted it, but -- Buffy hating him. Buffy
knowing how deeply, completely he'd failed her.
"Willow. Spike. Good, you're here," Giles
said as they entered the shop. Xander and Anya, Tara and Dawn were with
him, gathered around the table. On the table was a sheet of paper, on
which were written the words:
I'm alive. You are the Key.
Bring me home.
Come to the Hellmouth.
Midsummer Night's Dream.
"These are the messages we've received
from Buffy," Giles explained. "She's appeared to me and Dawn, Willow and
Xander. We think she's trying to tell us how to get her back."
" 'Come to the Hellmouth' -- that's where
we're supposed to go to bring her back," Willow said. "It makes sense
-- the Hellmouth is a door to the demon dimensions."
"And midsummer -- the Summer Solstice --
is a time when the walls between worlds are weak," Tara continued. "This
year the solstice is on June Twenty-first. That's three days from now."
"And I'm the Key," Dawn spoke softly, but
her voice was strong. Her eyes shone. "I can open a portal for her to
"NO!" All heads turned to stare at him.
Spike spoke tightly. "Have you all gone mad? You can't let Dawn open another
portal. She'll die."
"No, I won't, Spike -- " Dawn insisted,
"Just shut up and listen, Deadhead -- "
Xander said at the same time.
Giles stopped them both. "No, Spike's right
to be concerned." He turned to Spike, all patience and restrained sympathy.
It was the same look on his face as when he'd urged Spike away from the
rubble under the tower. It will be light soon, Spike. Come away. You
know Buffy wouldn't want this. "We've discussed it. We believe that
if Dawn can open a portal in the right place and time -- as Buffy has
indicated -- then Buffy can jump through and close the portal after her.
Dawn won't be harmed, beyond a small cut."
"And we get another dead Buffy. Brilliant,"
Spike muttered bitterly.
"Her heart will stop," Willow said. " 'The
blood stops flowing' -- that's what the ritual says. We think we can revive
her. The other Buffy -- the one who fell into our world -- was killed
in the fall from the tower. This time, if we can control the portal so
it's close to the ground, she won't have so far to fall."
"How d'you know it's even really Buffy
sending the messages? Suppose it's some mimic-y demon impersonating her,
trying to get you to open him up a doorway into our world for fun and
"It's Buffy," Dawn said stubbornly. "I
know my sister. And she wants to come home."
It was as hopeless arguing with her as
it ever was arguing with her big sister. But he couldn't bear it, her
putting herself in danger. Even to bring Buffy back. Spike took a step
towards her. "Suppose it is, Little Bit. But what if something happens
on her end, and she can't make it through? Then the only way to close
the portal is for you...." He looked away, unable to finish.
Dawn flung her arms around him and held
him tight. He started, and had to stop himself from pulling away. She
said, "I know you want to protect me. But this is what Buffy wants, I
know it. It has to be okay, or she wouldn't ask me to do it. I have to
He patted her back awkwardly, then let
her go and stepped away. "How do you know it will even work? I thought
using the Key was supposed to be a one-time opportunity."
It was Giles who answered. "I've been studying
the ritual texts. It appears that minor portal openings like these are
possible, in the wake of a major opening such as the one Glory started.
Somewhat like the aftershocks of an earthquake. It will be smaller, thankfully
-- we won't have to worry too much about all the legions of Hell coming
through at the same time -- and it will require a focus -- something to
channel and direct the portal energy. We're not sure yet what that will
be. We were hoping there would be another message...."
" 'This is the portal,' " Spike quoted
dully. Buffy's face on his television appeared before his eyes. Bright
and intent and so beautiful.... "It's what she said to me. On my TV."
"Then you did see her!" Willow exclaimed.
"I thought you said...."
"I saw her." Spike shrugged. "I see her
* * *
He was halfway back to his crypt when Willow
caught up with him. "Spike, we need your television."
He kept walking, his long stride making
Willow half-run to keep up. He glanced sidelong at her, one eyebrow raised
to ask the obvious question.
"For the ritual. To channel the portal
energy. That's what Buffy meant when she said, 'This is the portal.' We
"It wasn't easy nicking that TV. Why don't
you use one of yours?"
"Yours is the one she appeared in. We think
it's the one she wants. There may be something about that particular TV
-- we don't want to take any chances."
"It's just a TV. Nothing special about
"Spike." She tugged at his sleeve. Finally,
he let her stop him. "I don't understand. I thought you of all people
would do anything to get Buffy back. You're acting like you don't even
He jerked his arm from her grasp. "Don't
be daft," he spat. " 'Course I want her back."
"Then why won't you help? It's not just
the TV, you don't even want us to try it."
"Promised I'd protect Dawn," he said tightly.
And failed. "If Buffy comes back, and anything's happened to her
sis, she'll kick my ass."
"Didn't you promise to protect Buffy, too?
She's out there, Spike, alone in some Hell, and she wants to come home.
Dawn wants her home. We all want her home." Her voice was rising, words
rushing after one another.
"You think I don't?" And he was next to
"You're afraid to lose her again, aren't
you? Afraid to believe that we might get her back, in case it doesn't
Bloody hell, yes. He was afraid it wouldn't
work, afraid it would work, afraid that no matter what happened he was
stuck in his own hell forever. " 'Course not," he insisted.
"Or you're afraid she'll come back and
she won't like you any more, now that the danger from Glory is over."
Before he could stop himself, his fist
came up. Willow flinched back, a spark of fear in her eyes, then she steeled
herself and glared at him. He swore under his breath. "Fine, take my telly.
Need a new one anyway. Now piss off."
Her voice was softer now, but still edged
with anger. "That's your answer, Spike, isn't it? Get mad and yell at
everybody instead of dealing with what you're feeling."
He crossed his arms and set his jaw, saying
Willow shook her head and turned to go.
Spike stood for a while watching her. Then his shoulders slumped, and
he headed back to his crypt.
* * *
Midsummer. It was Spike's least favorite
time of year. All that depressing sunlight. Too hot to wear leather. Nothing
good ever came of it, not for him anyway.
Almost unbearably keyed up, he paced at
the back of the cavern, while the Scoobies made their arrangements around
the pit that was the most direct entrance to the Hellmouth. Willow and
Tara fussed over the exact placement of Spike's television. Giles kept
his eyes on his watch and called out the minutes until the solstice. Xander
and Anya organized supplies from a first aid kit -- bandages for Dawn,
once the portal closed, and whatever might be needed for Buffy, in case
she was injured when she came through.
Dawn herself stood rigid behind the TV
set, knife in her hand. She insisted on making the cut herself, which
the others seemed to think was not a good idea, but made perfect sense
to Spike. She was so pale she looked nearly bloodless, like a vampire
child waiting to feed. He still didn't like her risking herself like this.
Protect Dawn was burned into his brain like a mantra, and this
felt wrong. But there was no stopping her. It was all going to happen
again, and again he could do nothing to prevent it.
His own job was to watch the portal once
it opened, deal with any stray demons that might manage to come through.
He carried an axe, but he didn't like the way it lay in his hand. It reminded
him too much of that night gathering weapons at Buffy's, overwhelmed to
be invited in, feeling on top of the world, even as it threatened to end.
Buffy trusting him. Buffy counting on him. He'd have promised her anything.
With his life, he'd protect Dawn. Gladly he'd die for her.
But in the end he'd done neither. He'd
been left to carry on his sorry existence, while Dawn bled and Buffy lay
dead at the bottom of the tower. A Buffy. Whether they got their
Buffy back or not, someone's Buffy had died for his failure.
He tossed the axe aside and paced. He hoped
some nasty thing would come flying out the portal. He wanted to fight
the way he was meant to fight, fists and fangs and fury. His jaws itched,
game face wanting to come out, and he determinedly shook it away.
"It's time," Giles said.
* * *
Without hesitation, Dawn lifted the knife
and drew the blade across her palm. Three drops fell in slow succession
onto the top of the television. Her blood smelled hot and rich and full,
all the way across the cavern to where Spike was standing. He heard himself
growl, felt his fangs lengthen, his forehead thicken, the crotch of his
jeans tighten. He shifted his weight, shaking his head, trying to force
the unwanted bloodlust away, but he was too deep in it now. Fortunately,
no one was paying him the least mind. Everyone's attention was riveted
on the television.
Dawn stepped back, cut hand curled into
a fist to stop the bleeding. On the TV, the three drops smoked, then sparked.
The television screen erupted into static.
A brilliant white glow pulsed from it. A whirling vortex formed in the
Spike stepped forward, fists clenched,
willing Buffy to come through. His whole being focused on the portal,
as if by sheer concentration he could bring her back. He wanted to jump
through the portal himself, find Buffy and fling her through.
"Come on, Buffy." Was that his own
fevered plea? No, it was Xander. No, it was all of them, begging her to
And there, was that a flash of blonde hair?
A pale fist slashing through the swirling light?
With a crack of thunder, a body flew through
the vortex and fell to the ground with a thump. The portal sucked in on
itself and disappeared. The others rushed to Buffy, turned her over, tilted
her head back. Giles began to pound her chest, then bent down to pinch
her nose and breathe into her mouth. Dawn dropped the knife and began
to sob. Willow's eyes grew huge and black as she murmured spells. And
Buffy lay still and lifeless.
It's taking too long, Spike thought
savagely. Please, Buffy, please come back.
Suddenly, Buffy sucked in air and coughed.
Her hand fluttered up to grasp Giles's arm.
"She's alive!" Anya shouted, and for once
no one minded her announcement of the bleeding obvious. Dawn's sobs turned
to joyous laughter, while tears still streamed down her face. And they
were all crying, and crowding around Buffy, touching her shoulders and
arms and laughing.
"She's alive," Spike whispered. And suddenly
he was sobbing, too, his game face finally receding while his heart broke
again and again. Alive. Buffy was alive and Dawn was safe, and there were
no demons to slay today. She was with her friends, and he --
Spike took a step back. And then another.
Then he turned and crept quietly away.
* * *
He sat on the floor in the corner of his
crypt, knees drawn up, tears tracking down the hollows of his cheeks.
Buffy was alive. Buffy was home. He was so happy it hurt, and so miserable
he wanted to die. He'd got her back, only to lose her again in another
way. She'd be so disappointed in him. He couldn't bear to face her, knowing
how completely he'd failed her.
He heard the door to the crypt open. He
stared at the floor at his feet, wishing whoever it was would just go
Buffy sat beside him. Her fingers brushed
against his arm, sending a shiver through his whole body, almost painful
in its intensity.
"Spike," she said. "Why'd you run off?"
"Thought you'd want to be with your friends."
"I do." She lifted his chin, turned his
face to hers. "Including you."
The sight of her tore him up inside. There
were scratches on her cheek. Dark circles under her eyes. The weeks in
Hell had not been easy on her. But she smiled gently. He could feel her
soft breath on his face. And she was so beautiful he thought it would
"Buffy...." His throat tightened. "I'm
She frowned slightly. "For what?"
He pulled away, buried his face in his
arms. "Letting you down." A single sob shook his shoulders.
Her hand rested lightly on his back. "Spike.
You didn't let me down."
Somehow, her kindness was even more painful
than her spite would have been. The words tore from his aching throat.
"Promised I'd protect her. But I didn't. My fault you had to jump. Everything
that happened... because I failed you."
She pulled him to her and held him, and
he wept helplessly onto her shoulder. He felt her arms tighten around
him, encircling his back, stroking his hair. His cheek pressed against
her breast, and he felt her heart beat. Strong steady pulses of rich,
flowing blood. Alive. He couldn't believe she was holding him, and oh
god, it hurt.
"It wasn't your fault." He felt her lips
move on the top of his head. "You did your best."
"Not good enough, was it?" he choked out.
"I let you die."
She continued to hold him, speaking calmly,
steadily. "Spike, listen to me. You didn't fail. You were brave and strong
and you did everything I asked you to do." She unwrapped her arms from
around him and took his face in her hands. She made him look at her, and
her face was bright with truth. And it hurt. But the pain was becoming
even and clean, not twisted and dark any more. "Everything happened the
way it was supposed to. I believe that. Even if I'd died in the portal.
It was what I was meant to do. You couldn't have stopped it, and I wouldn't
have wanted you to."
He didn't know if he believed it. But she
did. And he had his arms around her, and her hands on him, and that was
its own truth. She didn't hate him for what he'd done. So he supposed
he'd better stop hating himself.
She stroked his hair and put her arms around
him again, and he settled at her side, with his cheek under the hollow
of her throat.
She kissed the top of his head, just a
light brush of her lips against his hair. "I'm sorry you had to go through
"No matter," he murmured. And, just because
it seemed necessary, "I love you."
She held him for a while in silence. Then,
"Spike, back at the magic shop, when I said I love you all...."
He pulled away and looked up at her, and
she was smiling an impish Buffy smile. "Yeah?" he asked. "Right, then,
about that -- I mean, what did you -- ?"
Still smiling, she gave him a brief squeeze.
* * *
They sat together a while longer. Just
leaning against her, touching her, feeling her arm around him -- it was
so good he didn't ever want to move. Eventually, though, she patted him
on the back and straightened up.
"They told me there's another Buffy here,
who fell out of the portal and... didn't make it."
"Yeah." One Buffy alive -- but one Buffy
"I'd like to visit her."
He nodded and got to his feet, offering
a hand to pull Buffy up. She didn't need his help, of course, but she
let him do it. And she let him hold her hand as they walked out of the
crypt and through the cemetery.
Spike sat on the ground before the gravestone,
arms wrapped around his knees. Buffy Anne Summers, it read. 1981
- 2001. It troubled him to know that someone's Buffy was dead.
Buffy sat down beside him. She slipped
an arm around him, and he leaned into her, resting his head on her shoulder.
"What are you thinking?" she asked.
"Wondering," he said. "If there's a Spike
in her world, missing her as much as this one missed you."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"I wish there was some way of sending her home."
Her hair fell across his face, a silky
caress, and he breathed her scent. "Maybe your witches can figure out
"Maybe. Meanwhile, I hope her friends understand.
I hope they're taking care of each other."
He remembered Giles's insistence that he
come in out of the sun. Dawn's bravery. Willow's kindness. The blood they
all brought him, that kept him alive through those black days.
"Then they'll be all right."
They sat together by the grave, and watched
the silver moon rise.