Title: There's a Hole in the Roof (1/1)

Author: Sandy S.

E-mail: ssoennin@juno.com

URL: http://darkprophecies.net/eternaldevotion

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Joss and UPN.

Spoilers: Set after "Same Time, Same Place" and "Help!" Quote from "Flooded" and from "Dead Things."

Summary: Buffy moves Spike into her basement. What happens now that Willow's home? Sequel to "What's Hair Got to Do with It?"

Author's Note: Again, this story is unlikely to happen on the show! :o)

There's a Hole in the Roof

"The rules are:" Keeping my voice firm, I peel a finger out with each rule I set, "One, stay clean. You may use the bathroom downstairs. And you know how to use the washer and dryer, right?" Spike nods. "Two, keep the basement clean and pick up after yourself around the house. Three, don't get in the way. Dawn has homework, and I have to keep everything in order around here."

Clutching his armful of belongings in both hands, a slightly cleaner Spike stands before me, eyes wide as a child's as if he is absorbing everything I'm saying. He better be!

I am still torn about allowing him to live in the basement of my home, but for some reason, the move seems logical. If the layout in the high school basement is changing each time one of us enters the place and if a great evil is brewing at the high school hellmouth, Spike's insanity will probably best be alleviated by removing him from that setting.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself this hour.

"Are those all the rules? Because if so, I'm going to go to sleep now. Is that okay?" His tone is hesitant, and he qualifies statements he didn't used to qualify, which is somewhat disconcerting.

When I don't respond, he makes a move to head downstairs.

"Actually, there's one more rule."

The last rule is the most important one of all, but I dread saying the words aloud.

From the basement doorway, Spike's waiting expectantly for me to continue, so I do, ensuring that I sound as neutral as possible even though I'm sure he hears my heart thundering in my chest, "The fourth rule is that you don't ever go upstairs to the second floor. . . for any reason."

I bite my lip and shift my gaze away from the unfettered hurt spilling onto his face.

Before he has a chance to breakdown about himself and what happened between us in the bathroom, I hurriedly add, "Dawn and I need a little privacy to do our own thing. You know?"

As if he is paralyzed, Spike openly stares at me, unmoving and frozen. I know he doesn't believe my flimsy excuse. Finally, he manages a small, "I know." By the time I muster the courage to react, he is gone, down the stairs into the darkness. . . a place that he will never take me again.

I shut the door quietly behind his retreating form and head to bed myself.

* * *

Struggling with the multitude of grocery bags I'm carrying, I prop the back door open with one foot and re-scoop up the milk jug from where I set it on the ground. I mentally shake my head at myself. Why I try to carry everything in at once is beyond me because outside slayer strength, I always trip all over myself or drop something.

Scattering the bags atop the kitchen island, I start to head out to the car for the rest of the purchases when I notice the basement door is wide open. The sun's still shining, so Spike's probably somewhere in the house. Then again, the sun's rays never stopped him from wandering around outside before he got his soul back.

Slipping the milk and ice cream in the refrigerator, I begin a mini-hunt for the vampire in my house.

Twenty minutes later, I come up empty-handed and wonder back into the kitchen to put away the rest of the groceries that need to be kept cool. Starting to swing closed the basement door, my ears detect the faint sound of someone speaking from the room below.

Curiosity getting the best of me, I toe off my high heels and tread softly down three stairs. "Did you know this place was flooded?" Goosebumps tickle across my skin as Spike's words from the previous echo through my mind, bringing up memories of excruciating pain. . . pain he eased by merely being present. Now the very creature who aided me huddles in his own well of deep, consuming hurt.

To my surprise, I recognize Willow's voice sweeping through the air to reach my ears. She's near the base of the stairs, but her words aren't for me. "Spike, why are you all huddled up like that? Come on, I just want to talk with you."

Silence.

As I carefully lower myself to the step behind me, I strain to detect the smallest sound.

Then, "I don't deserve to have anyone talk with me. Go away. Let me be."

Glancing to my right, I notice the cracked, full-length mirror propped against the wall. How convenient. Now I have the scene in living-color, too. I watch intently as Willow who's settled on the ground leans forward toward the space under the stairs, presumably where Spike's curled himself into a ball. A desire to see him spreads warmly through my chest, but I'm also reminded that Spike is a reflection-less creature. . . a vampire.

"Spike, I've been through a lot. . . like you. I want to help you if you'll let me." She pauses, and the regret is evident when she continues. "I mean, we have a lot in common, you know? We've both killed. . . people. . . done things we had no right to do."

"I've killed a hell of a lot more," Spike replies in a muffled tone. "Lots of people, lots of lives. . . snapped away like squishing spiders."

"Yes, but look at the other things you've done," Willow insists, tucking a strand of scarlet hair behind her ear and shifting to balance on her opposite arm. She winces slightly, and her free hand covers the spot where her stomach wound from the skin-eating demon is jerked. Although she's mostly healed, she's still sore.

Almost sounding like his old self, Spike snorts. "Like what? Hurt. . . hurt the one person I care the most about? The angel?"

In sharp contrast to his sarcastic comment, Spike begins to sob like he's going to shatter, and my heart sinks into my abdomen.

Maybe I shouldn't have brought him here.

Bringing my knees to my chest, I sink my head into their valley, my mind screaming at me to plug my ears. . . to run down the stairs and punch him. . . to shout at him to grow up. . . to inform him that there are consequences to his behavior and that he just can't waltz back into my life with a new soul and expect everything to be resolved.

Life doesn't work that way. One who stabs and guts another person with words or actions can't just say sorry and have a happy ending. . . right? Maybe, just maybe, the Angel theory of "soul equals 'good'/no soul equals 'bad'" doesn't work anymore. The very thought frightens me more than fighting any demon ever will.

Willow whispers, "You mean. . ."

"Yeah, I mean that I tried to. . . you know. . . with Buffy," comes his hoarse response.

Rape! You tried to rape me, Spike!

I turn my head, laying my cheek against my knee. To my surprise, my skin is drenched in tears. How odd that I don't seem to realize my feelings until they overcome me.

I witness my friend reach out a tentative hand to stroke an invisible shoulder. Distantly, I wonder if Spike feels invisible sometimes.

"I-I know what you did, Spike." Her words are tender. "And, if it helps, I forgive you."

My head straightens at her words. She *forgives* him?

This time, Spike doesn't hesitate. "You shouldn't because I'm evil, so evil. . . worthless, in fact. I don't deserve kindness." A moment passes. "Why don't you run from me like all the other villagers?"

"I don't run because I understand. . . because people forgave me, and I know how much it's needed sometimes. . . even if we don't deserve it."

Willow's hand starts moving back and forth even though she's not putting any effort behind the motion. Spike must be rocking back and forth.

"You didn't do what the monster did."

I am surprised when a chuckle tumbles forth from Willow's throat. "Oh, yes, I did. My behavior was more than a little monstrous. . . with Tara. . . with Warren. I didn't physically do what you tried to do. I just did the same thing magically. . . I-I raped Tara's mind in a way by erasing the memory of our fight about magic. I was lucky she forgave me. And the thing with Warren. . . I still have nightmares about that. I probably will for a long time."

"I have nightmares. Lots of people yelling at me."

"Yeah." She resumes patting his arm. "But you know what? My *behavior* was monstrous. And my behavior's not who I am. It doesn't matter what we do. . . how we change in a good or bad way. . . we're always the same at heart. And I am a good person even if I did bad things. The *same* thing holds true for you. Your behavior was evil, but that's not what defines you. Was William a good man. . . at heart?"

Yes, William was a good man.

His voice is so faint that I barely pick up, "I think so."

"Then, you're still a good man. . . who's done some bad things. And you can be forgiven. I forgive you. Don't refuse it, please. People have given me so much forgiveness that I want to give some back."

An image of Tara's kindly face flashes before me from the time I told her I was using Spike. My words to her flood my senses, "Please don't forgive me." I swallow the lump in my throat. I'm certainly no angel either. How does Spike keep forgiving *me*?

When Spike is quiet, Willow starts again, "Do you want Buffy to forgive you?"

My heart jumps, and I hope the thumping is not loud enough for Spike to distinguish because I want to be privy to his answer.

"She can't forgive me; she shouldn't forgive me."

I suck in a deep breath and hold the air in my lungs.

"But do you *want* her to?"

I've never heard him sound more broken when he says, "Yes, but it won't do the devil any good."

Willow asks the question that's thundering through my brain, "Why not, Spike?"

"Because I don't think William can forgive me."

* * *

"I can't believe it's finally the weekend!" Dawn calls from her bedroom. She bounces into my bedroom, wearing the jean skirt I bought her a few weeks ago and a sheer white- and red-flowered peasant top with flowing feminine sleeves that just shows her belly button.

Attaching a long earring to my ear lobe as I look my sister up and down, I grin and note, "You look gorgeous. Bronze night is much needed after the week we've had."

"No kidding. Now which pumps should I wear? The black or the red?" She brandishes two pairs of heeled sandals for my inspection.

As I tug on my ebony sleeveless silk blouse and smooth the material over my short ivory skirt that's just perfect for dancing. "The red cause I want to borrow the black; they go with my outfit best, and the red go with yours."

"Okay."

She hands me the black pumps, and we sit on the edge of the bed to strap them onto our feet.

"The whole gang's coming, right?" Dawn inquires.

"Yep. Willow and Xander went to a late dinner this evening. They're planning on meeting us there around ten-thirty or eleven."

"Cool." Dawn finishes with her shoes before I do and approaches the mirror to apply my mascara and fish through the lipsticks on my dresser. "Know what I think is just neat about their relationship?"

I tighten the strap and rise, studying myself in the mirror. "What?"

"That after everything that happened with Willow turning all psycho and all, Xander still loves her. . .still forgave her."

Xander forgives Willow like Spike loves and forgives me. "Forgiveness is a funny thing."

Dawn unrolls a lipstick and begins applying the makeup. "Yeah, it's. . ." She rubs her lips together and recaps the stick. "It's easy sometimes cause you just understand the situation so well, and you know there's a justifiable reason the person acted the way they did."

She twirls in a circle for me. "How do I look?"

"Beautiful."

She smiles and comes toward me, putting her hands in my hair and reaching for a hair clip. "But other times, forgiveness is so hard."

"Why's that?" Having Dawn pull my hair up for me is something I enjoy. . . something we haven't done enough of together.

"Because sometimes there's so much anger and hurt there, it's hard to wade through the mess to get to the truth to see that both of you are hurting equally badly and that you both need compassion. Like Xander and Anya."

"Yeah." Like Spike and me.

Dawn fastens my hair in place so that soft curls are piled on top of my head and a few stray ones becomingly frame my face. She steps back, seeming quite pleased with herself. "There."

I brush her cheek gently. "Thanks."

"You're welcome! Think they'll forgive each other and get back together?"

"Who?" I am confused but know I shouldn't be.

"Xander and Anya. I mean, if they can get through the hurt."

"Oh. I don't know, Dawnie. I think they both need time and space. And I don't know if they'll ever get back together. So much has happened between them."

"I guess so." Her expression a bit crestfallen, she inspects her purse. "Let's see. House key, check. I.D., check. Lipstick and mini-brush, check and check. Wooden stake, check. Mini-vial of holy water, check. Twenty-dollar bill, oops, wait a minute, no check on that one." She holds out her hand. "Money, please."

"Ha, ha. You know we don't have a lot, so we're sharing the twenty." I shoulder my small black bag.

"Can I at least carry it, so I can feel like I have the power?"

Following Dawn down the hall, I counter, "So you can do what, have the power to buy sodas?"

She skips down the stairs, laughing, "Yep! The queen of denial, the prince of thieves, the buyer of soda! All equally powerful!"

"That makes no sense, silly."

Dawn reaches the bottom and watches me, wearing a grin, "Wasn't supposed to. I sounded kinda like Spike, huh? Say, is Spike coming with us?"

I sober. "No, I don't think so, Dawn."

"Why not? He's clean now, got good clothes. It'd be good for him."

Recalling Willow's conversation with him from earlier today and Dawn's reminder of it this evening, I bite my lip. "Let me go see. Wait here."

* * *

Once at the bottom of the basement stairs, I flip on the light. "Spike?"

Low rustles emit from where the cot is located, and I round the staircase to view him lying on his side, eyes shut. He sleeps a lot more now. I guess to keep the voices at bay. Only problem is, I can't tell if he's asleep or not because he doesn't breathe except to talk.

Even after everything I've heard today, I'm more nervous than I thought I'd be as I squat beside him. "You awake, Spike?"

Nothing.

The vampire in front of me gives the impression of utter peace, but I know better because I feel the same way. A stray curl splays across his forehead, and I brush the hair aside, intentionally running a finger over his cool skin.

I've given him food, clothing, shelter. What's next on Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Love and belonging.

Butterflies dance in my stomach, and I'm not sure if I'm saying my next words aloud or in my head. "Spike, I want to forgive you; I really do. But, you see, I don't know if I can. Forgiveness scares me. . . more than you'll ever know. And I usually hide from scary emotions. I guess I figure if I can control my emotions, everything else in my life will be easier. . . less out of control. But this time, I'm really going to try. I can't promise the moon, and I'm sure I'll still be angry at you and hurt about what happened, but I'll give it my best shot."

Shakily, I stand to my feet, and without another thought, I snag a blanket from the basket of clean linens and cover his prone form. Then, I race up the stairs before I have a chance to be too aware of the hole I've created in my shelter.

The end.