Rating:  PG for some language 

Feedback:  Thank you.  Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through season seven's "Help," episode four.

Distribution: The Warren and Fanfiction.net.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Spike asked Buffy to sit with him to keep the monsters at bay.  Here's my take on what might happen if someone stayed with him.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Author's Note:  This is a series of vignettes, all occuring on the same day.


9:45 a.m.

I'm not sure I should be down here.

Okay, technically, I'm trespassing on school property, which is a pretty big no-no to begin with, and I really don't want another run in with the Sunnydale Police Department… even though I'm pretty sure they wouldn't recognize me.  Add on to that I don't think Buffy would be too crazy about me being here either, and neither would Xander, but I just sort of had to come back again.

When Anya first told me he'd gone insane, I have to admit, I didn't particularly have any reaction to it.  Not a thing.  Spike's gone nuts, and I didn't even care one way or the other.  I just went to ask him if he'd seen anything weird around the school besides, you know, me.  It wasn't until later, after my pseudo-spell wore off and things started moving normally again that I really thought about it at all.

See, Spike wasn't what I'd call a nice guy, but he kind of grew on me over the last couple years.  He must have figured out what was going on between Tara and me before anybody else did, but he was the only one who didn't make a huge deal over it.  When her family showed up to take her back, he was the one who proved she wasn't a demon.  If he hadn't, I'm not too sure what the others would have done.  After Buffy died, he was good to Dawn, and I mean really good.  He didn't let her build her whole world around grief, even though it was probably what he wanted to do himself, and he made her get out and enjoy the life Buffy had let her live.  When Buffy came back… when I brought her back… he even had the guts to say I'd done something wrong long before any of us realized what happened.  Let's face it, I was not a nice person at that point, he couldn't possibly have done anything to me, and I wouldn't have thought twice about turning him into a toad, but he actually said I was wrong rather than mollycoddling me like everyone else did. 

Now, Buffy never told me what happened last spring, but Xander let drop some not-so-subtle hints, and I think I get the picture.  I am the one who gave Riley the infamous shovel talk, after all.  Technically, there's a big old garden implement with the word "SPIKE" written across the handle, and that's probably the end I'd use first on him after what he pulled if he were still… well… Spike.

But he's not.  Right now, he's sitting with his back against the wall, his head on his knees, being so still I'd swear he was nothing but a statue if I didn't know better.  No wonder no one from the school has found him down here yet.  I probably wouldn't have, either, if I hadn't literally tripped over him.  He didn't even flinch.

Spike has messed up royally, so I guess that makes us members of the same club.  The Sunnydale Chapter of the People Who've Gone Homicidal and Want to Be Redeemed Now Club, if we're going to get technical about it.  I think the membership list is up to three, but one member is on permanent hiatus in L.A. It seems like I got to be a little bit luckier than Spike, though.  I've had the very weird experience of meeting myself as a vampire, and I can say that is definitely not someone I want to be.  Then, last year, I all but turn into her.  And the scary thing is, I can feel that inside me still.  I remember the power, and part of me wants it. 

My friends are willing to let things go, which is something I'm really grateful for.  Because, see, I know I don't really deserve it.  They're doing it because they love me, so I get double bonus happy points.  I'm forgiven, and I'm loved, and those things make it easier for me not to go kerblooey again.

And Spike?  He's living in a basement alone.  And there, to quote Buffy, but for the grace of not getting bit, would be me.  Only I really don't think SuperTrampVampWillow, complete with leather ensemble, would have gone out and gotten herself a soul, though. 

Forgiveness is a strange thing.  Other people can give it to me, but the one who seems to be having the hardest time forgiving me is me.  The support has made it a little easier, though.  I'm not being treated like a dog who keeps getting her face rubbed in her mistake.  Spike, on the other hand, is literally beating himself up over this. 

He's staring up at me now, or, well, not really at me, I guess.  He's looking about three feet above my right shoulder. 

"You feeling better now?"

His voice scares me for a second.  It's been so perfectly still down here.

"Um, yes.  Much less psychotic.  And, uh, you?"

His eyes flicker to mine, and he giggles.  There's no other word for it.  But there's something cold underneath, something self-mocking and shamed.  He doesn't answer the question.    

"Nice of you both to drop by for tea.  Must go. Ta then," he mumbles, sounding a lot like the homeless guy on the corner, only more British.  He stumbles to his feet and walks away from me, moving close to the wall, making himself as little as possible.

For one moment, as I see him leaving, I really want to forgive him.  I want to bake chocolate chip cookies and hear him snark about American TV and see his eyes roll at something stupid Buffy says.  It'd be nice to be the one forgiving somebody else for a change.  I consider going after him to say something, anything, to give him a little bit of hope, but I don't.

I'm just not ready for that yet.  But I think, just maybe, I'm ready to make a phone call.