Sang et Ivoire

Author: Holly

Rating: R

Timeline: Post Season 6 with no reference to Season 7

Summary:  Spike, struggling with his soul and his love for Buffy, is offered redemption from a very surprising source.  However, when signs of an uprising evil begin to appear, he must face his fear and guilt and return to the place it all began for him—Sunnydale.

Disclaimer:  The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon.  They are being used for entertainment purposes and not for the sake of profit.  No copyright infringement is intended.



He felt it.

An ache streaked across his back, and he felt it.  A pounding echoed in his ears, and he felt it.  Water dripped against his skin, and he felt it. 

It felt so good to feel.

What an amazing sensation.  Nearly a century and a half dwelling only the memory of human candor rendered all vibrations new and unexplored: lodged somewhere within his conscious as the oddest sense of déjà vu.  Something that existed within the depths of logic.  Cold, dark, and unidentified.  Feelings he never expected to again experience enveloped him with chilling possession, tightening every muscle in his body, stretching his brain until he thought it would ooze from his ears—forcing his eyes to escape behind their sockets as a silent scream fought its way to freedom.  Agony?  Perhaps a bit.  But what was done was done.

Perhaps some disconcertion was in order.  A restored soul was not supposed to do that.  All at once, he felt limber and energetic, though he remained stationary on the ground.  His lungs filled with air that he didn't need, veins coursing with life—as though reflecting the best feed of a century. 

It was odd to feel pain and bliss at the same time.  It was even stranger to not crave pain as he had with such fervor. 

It was odd for pain to hurt. 

The soul was supposed to make him ache.  Instead, it made him feel alive. 

Good things never last, of course.  Vampires in all senses were forbidden to feel alive.  Consequences weigh heavily when they breech that unspoken barrier placed by nature between themselves and mortal man.  A few minutes were granted before the first wave struck, attacking his gut with such force that it would have killed him were he not already dead.  The next did not wait, nor was it any simpler to endure.  Again and again, a foray of long-forgotten faces, long forgotten kills swarmed accusingly before him.  Eyes flashed with the continuous silent recitation of Why? Why? Why?  Do I dare? His throat tightened with a soundless scream, a hand struggling to find his eyes, to bat the images away.  But they would not leave him.  A soul was a curse for any aged vampire. 

It was not his curse, though, and William recognized this.  After witnessing the self-inflicted torment Angel put himself through, he had vowed never to let himself lower to that stage of desperation should a similar disadvantage befall him.  Of self-loathing for something he could not change, could not have prevented.  The promise had been empty at the time.  Never had he seen himself in this position.  Enduring the silenced pleas of those long dead.

He understood pain.  He had tasted his share time and time again, enjoying it often.  The thrill of the hunt, of the kill, of a good torture session involving railroad spikes.  The taste of good blood.  Motives came in all shapes and sizes, however ineffectual.  Because he was bored.  Because he was irritated.  Because it was fun.

It wasn't a curse.  William knew the difference between himself and the demon Spike—knew because he felt the monster's humanity, had for a long while.  Toward the end, the line separating him from the killer had become so pale that it was nearly nonexistent. 

Because of her.  All because of her.  She whom had led him here.  She who had fueled his holy crusade.  She who had given him life after taking it so many times.  She who supplied his lungs with such blissfully unnecessary oxygen.  Over and over again she had gone to him to die, and yet he was the one who fell cold.  Spike had placed himself in the midst of the deadliest stare imaginable all for the feel of her skin under his.  He had endured bitterness that came in the guise of pointed hate to cover her self-resentment.  For her, he allowed himself to take the fall.  Oh and how that stung!  To be hurt time after time for her own misgivings.

How it felt to hurt her…

Spike…no…no Spike…please don't do this.

William's eyes snapped shut as a sharp pain jittered up his spine.  An ache harboring in his chest begged for a second gulp of futile air and was denied.  His insides were too clogged with the barriers of self-loathing for anything to pass.  The back of his head began to pound with echoes of her protests, each stabbing at his brain with painfully sharp intent.

The biting venom of her rebuttal—(Ask me again why I could never love you)—was the most difficult to endure. 

Spike had never known remorse or guilt.  As the bloodsucking fiend, he had taken life after life, drank from countless suppliers, and did so with a song in his heart.  And that was the way it was—the way he accepted it.  The way all vampires accepted it.  A soulless demon was not supposed to bear a conscience.  No, no, that would get in the way.  Chip or no chip, nothing was believed to affect his Jiminy Cricket.  And truthfully, nothing had for a hundred years.  There was Drusilla, those months with Harmony—stupid bint—and the span of a thousand lifetimes simply watching the idiocy of people.  Long wasted years.

She had given him feeling.  Feeling!  He was Spike, the Big Bad, the baddest of the bad.  No woman, no human woman was supposed to make him feel.  But the demon could not lie.  The demon knew love and loved the slayer.  The enemy.  No matter how many times she brushed him off, he came back.  No matter how she attempted to push him away, how she hurt him without a care, he always returned whenever she was in the slightest danger.  Whenever she raised her voice in his direction.  When he saw what he had nearly done to her, he would have gladly shoved a stake through his heart, if only to save her from himself.

He had hurt her.  Hurt the woman he loved.

The demon whispered it was a fair trade for all the suffering it had endured in looking after her, and immediately silenced with the knowledge that she could never love anything so vile.  So dangerous.  So…him.

Irrefutably, things would have been easier had he never returned to Sunnydale.  If he had taken his chance when he escaped with Drusilla and never looked back.

Even then, had she called, he would have come.  Even then, she was his slayer.  His to keep and kill when he wanted.  His to enjoy fights with.  His to dance with.  The thrill of the century, despite how she annoyed him.  Despite how he wanted to rip her throat out with every encounter.

God, how things had changed.

You know, you got a willing slave…

He would have been, too.  For months it seemed he was.  There at her beck and call, there to help her whenever she inquired.  Periods of tenderness always preceded her venting of self-disgust in the only way that made sense to her—inflicting as much pain on him as humanly possible.  True, she wasn't sadistic, but the slayer loved a good fight, even if her opponent was rendered helpless.

Spike had been perverse.  He loved pain, fed off it.  Every punch seemed to satisfy more than hurt.  Or so things had before he knew his love for her.  Then it was thrust and parry; Buffy fought enough for both of them.  The confession of love buried within his throat only fueled her rage.  He was a demon, after all, and it was conventional knowledge that demons could not love.

But he had.  Spike had loved with more fervor than many humans ever experience.  Even before the dream changed his unlife, a softness covered by layers of rough exterior shaped him to care for Drusilla.  He knew that she had never wholly loved him—never like he had her.  A century has passed with her by his side, and he would have laid his life down for her if it was asked of him. 

Demons weren't supposed to know the humbleness of self-sacrifice.  They weren't supposed to know anything but bloodlust and mayhem.

For Buffy, though, he would have done so much more.  He had held a stake to his old love's heart, awaiting the word to turn her into dust.  What he felt for the slayer provoked a personal reform.  Everything he had built himself up for—thrown away in a heartbeat if he thought she could ever reciprocate his feelings.

The very same Spike that had bragged proudly about the two slayers notched in his belt.    The very same Spike that had told Angel that demons never change.  The same who ridiculed said vampire for being whipped and housebroken.  The same who had time after time plotted her death.

The same who had saved her.  Saved her so many times from vampires, demons, herself, in his dreams.

But never from him.  Never from whom she truly needed saving.

William's eyes slammed shut as the first wave of tears poured down his cheeks.  In a century, he had only cried over her.  Pain like he had never experienced shuddered through his system.  It was as if he had bathed in holy water, if he was surrounded by a shrine of crosses, if a priest were hovered over him, reciting holy scriptures. 

No.  Worse.  He had never known pain like this.

How could he have loved her and…

A demon felt guilt—the man beneath seethed in the repercussions and roared with the sacrament of consequences.  His chest constricted and he grasped at his shirt, vision blurred with tears.  A few seconds passed before he made the first fruitless attempt to stand, a few more before the second, and he finally conceded.  His weary form crashed to the ground without rite as screams tore at his vocals.  Long, agonized cries for the one he hurt.  Screams that sounded his plight to a never-ending foray of darkness where he would never be heard, much less saved.

William saw his victims, the many he had killed, but ignored them all but to behold her face.  That face wrought and twisted with the worse sort of betrayal.

All his victims were without ceremony.  Spike had killed, but they both loved.  Toward the end, it was both the man and the monster.  They had both loved, they both lost.

Neither would ever see her again.