Chapter 14—Stars Fall Silent

Buffy fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Which was fine with Spike. He knew she had had a long night, and she needed her rest. The shower adventure was his not so subtle way to ensure that she would fall asleep quickly. It was also his tried and true defense mechanism.

He realized that he was falling into last year's pattern. Make love to her, make her come, make her scream, to prove that she needs him. If he could do those things, she'll keep him around because nobody else could pleasure her like he could. As long as he was completely devoted to her in every way, she wouldn't leave him. Only, that didn't work before and he had no reason to believe it would work now. But he didn't know what else to do. How else could he convince her not to go with Angel, other than showing her all the things she'd lose if she left?

Spike knew he should sleep, but instead he watched her. She looked…content. Which, for the moment, was more than enough for Spike.

"You should have just kept going last night."

Spike tensed and vamped. Angel stood in the doorway, arms crossed, looking casual and slightly bored.

"Why did you come back?" He asked.

"You know why." Spike extended all of senses, feeling an undercurrent of panic. Was he talking to Angel or the First? There really was no way to tell.

"She wouldn't have even noticed, you know. I'm more than enough to keep her happy."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Right, because you guys were so insanely happy before."

Angel morphed, and suddenly, Spike was looking at himself. "You know that you've never made her happy. Except when she closes her eyes and pretends it's Angel with his tongue lodged up her…"

"Get out," Spike growled.

"No, I don't think I'm going anywhere. We have so much lost time to make up for, don't we? We're old mates, you and me. So, what's the latest gossip?"

"Buffy, Buffy love, wake up."

The First looked over at Buffy with disinterest. "She won't be waking up anytime soon."

"What did you do to her?"

"Nothing. The poor girl is just exhausted after her night with Angel."

"Get out." He knew the words wouldn't have any effect, but he was completely powerless.

"Does Buffy like lullabies? How about old folk songs? Do you ever sing to her?" The First asked casually.

Spike narrowed his eyes, but otherwise didn't respond. Next to him, Buffy stirred but remained asleep.

"Don't you think it's time to teach her one? Here, I'll get you started. Early one morning, just as the sun was rising…"

Spike howled and jumped off the bed, his eyes darting around wildly, muscles bulging, his face contorted with a primal hunger.

"Why don't you wake up the Slayer?" The First suggested.

Spike pounced on the sleeping girl, ready to tear her throat out. She would be dead before she even had a chance to open her eyes. Her hot, sweet blood gliding down his throat, singing through his veins. After he was through with her, he could take all the sweet, succulent little girls.

The First morphed again. "That's my guy," she said approvingly. "Do it."

Spike roared, and this time Buffy heard him. She opened her eyes, confusion and fear chasing the sleepiness away. "Spike?" She didn't wait for a response, instead, she pushed him off with her hands and feet. For a brief second, she had a startling flashback to the last time she had to push him off like that.

Spike flew across the room and landed on  his ass, but he didn't stay down for long. He rebounded immediately and charged, barely giving Buffy enough time to stand and brace herself for the renewed attack. She knew from experience that it would do no good to try to talk to him, so she prepared to simply hold him off until she could get some help.

Their fight was like a bizarre parody of their former battles. Spike lunged for her without grace or style, intent only on bashing and killing. There was no flair, just mindless destruction. Buffy didn't fight back. All of her moves were defensive, designed to keep him away without actually harming him. She called for Willow, Giles, the girls, anybody and it was long before they all burst into the room.

"Chains!" Buffy shouted.

"Do you want any weapons?" Xander asked.

"Something to knock him out," Buffy answered as she ducked one of his punches and dodged a kick.

Xander rushed out and returned with a large axe. "This is all I could find."

"It'll do." She ducked and dodged as she worked her way over to the door. As soon as she got the axe, she swung the blunt side in a large arc and connected squarely with Spike's head. He fell like a ton of bricks.

"What happened?" Willow asked.

"The First. Triggered him while I was asleep." She held up her hand when everybody opened their mouths to speak. "Don't say it. Where are the chains?"

"Right here," Giles said. "Should I tell Angel to clear out of the basement?"

Oh fuck. She had completely forgotten about Angel. "Um, yeah. I guess it will be best to chain him up downstairs."

Within ten minutes, Spike was safely chained to a wall, and they were all gathered in the basement, studying the unconscious vampire carefully.


"We have to do something about this now," Buffy answered. "Right now."

"I agree, Buffy, but I don't know what we can do."

"Haven't you guys been researching?"

"We have," Dawn answered, "But it's hard because we don't know what kind of mind control we're looking for."

"What's going on?" Angel asked.

"The First has triggered Spike to attack. We didn't know if the trigger still worked, but apparently it does. We have to find a way to break it."

"Do you know what the trigger is?"

"We think it's a song. I heard it right before he went berserk last time and bit Andrew."

"What song?"

"Uh….all I can remember is early one morning. I didn't recognize it though. Can you help them look? I mean, if you can't stick around, it's cool…"

"No, no, I'll help," Angel promised.

"Great."


She turned her attention to the rest of the crowd. "This has just become our number one priority. We need Spike to fight, and we need him for your training, and we'll need him for the final battle. That means we can't be worried about this stupid trigger anymore. All of you are on research duty. Giles and Dawn will tell you want to do."

There was some grumbling, but everybody trooped upstairs, ready to do whatever the watcher told them to do. Even Angel. Buffy was the only one left behind in the basement. She sat down on the cot next to him and waited for him to wake up. Hopefully he would be normal, and she wouldn't have to knock him out again.

She didn't have to wait for long.

"It happened again." Not a question, just a bleak statement in the dark room.

"Yeah," she said softly. "Do you remember anything? We're researching, but we need all the details we can get."

"It talked to me a bit," Spike said softly. "Standard evil stuff, you know? Then it started singing…"

"I knew it!" Buffy announced, triumphantly. "I knew it was the song."

"Yes, well, you're very clever."

"We can fix this, Spike."

"I think you should have just staked me the first time I told you too."

"There will be no staking. They're researching right now, Spike."

"And you think they'll figure it all out?"

"I do."

"Don't you have to go to work today?"

Buffy shook her head. "The end of the world is coming, I'm quitting."

"Does that mean he'll stop coming over?"

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, I'm going to tell him he's not part of the team anymore."

"Why?"

"Kennedy told me about an interesting conversation she had with Wood the other night. I'm tired of his shit."

"Took you long enough."

They lapsed into silence. Then finally Spike asked. "What if they can't find anything?"

Buffy shook her head, "That's not an option."

"Buffy, it won't happen just because you say so."

"No, we need you. I need you. I'm not going to let the First take you from me. Not now. Do you need anything?"

Spike shook his head. "I'm good."

Only, he wasn't, and Buffy knew it. She excused herself from the basement, explaining she needed to check on their progress, call Wood, and get herself something to eat. She wanted to stay with him, but she didn't know what to do. After what happened last night…oh, she knew what he was doing in the shower. Buffy may not be the smartest girl in the world, but she wasn't stupid, and she understood Spike.

He was trying to please her, trying to prove he loved her, begging her to not kick him out cuz look at all the tricks he could do. Did she like it? Was she pleased? Would she want more? Just call if she did! How can he be so arrogant and so uncertain of himself at the same time? Was that her fault?

Well, probably. Didn't she train him that way with the standard reward and punishment system? Of course she did, and now she had to untrain him somehow. She had to prove to him that she really didn't just need for his body or his skills as a lover. She honestly, truly genuinely loved him. He didn't need to doubt her.

She had to dial the phone five times before she had the courage to talk to Principal Wood. It wasn't every day she quit a job she desperately needed. But she had a feeling that after the big fight went down, there wouldn't be a job for her to go back to anyway. In the end though, she didn't quit. Just took the rest of the week off.

"I know, I'm a big coward."

Buffy checked on Spike, and found he was asleep. Good. Sleeping was good. She was contemplating what her next move should be when she heard a shout from upstairs. "Buffy! Get up here!"

She ran up the stairs, two at a time, and burst into the kitchen. "What? What is it?"

"I think I found something," Amanda said excitedly.

Giles nodded, "It's quite interesting. Here, Buffy, have a look."

Buffy scanned the open book they handed to her, and then looked up, a blank look on her face. "Splainy?"

Giles sighed, "We can untrigger him using this spell. The First is probably using a traumatic moment in Spike's life to disturb his psyche. This spell will pinpoint that exact moment and force Spike to face whatever it is that is still effecting him."

"So we're going to dig up a deep-seated, disturbing, traumatic memory and force Spike to deal with his demons?" Buffy asked.

"Basically."

"And you think this will work?"

"I think this has to work, Buffy, because we don't have any other choice."

"When should we do it?" Kennedy asked.

"Now. Giles, Willow, get whatever you need together. I'll go down and explain it to Spike. During the actual spell, I want all of you guys up here. We don't know what will happen. The only people downstairs will be me, Giles, Willow, and Xander."

"We'll need about thirty minutes," Willow said.

"Perfect. I'll see you downstairs then."

Spike was less than enthused about the idea. Buffy got the feeling that he knew exactly what moment the spell would call forward, but he wasn't offering any details.

"Spike, I know this is personal, and you don't have to tell me, but I want to help you."

Honestly, Spike did want to tell her. Buffy had been different this past month. She had been trying very hard to shape their relationship into something worth having, and he appreciated all of her efforts. He knew her well enough to know how difficult it was for her to reach out like that. But how could he explain what happened in a way that she would understand? A part of him couldn't help but believe that she would only see him as a sick monster. And maybe that's all he was.

He sighed, "I've done a lot of horrible things, Buffy. But there's one thing…"

She made small, encouraging noises, and he gathered his nerve to continue.

"Shortly after Drusilla turned me, I returned to my house. My mother was very…ill. Tuberculosis. I wanted to save her. I wanted to keep her safe and happy forever."

"So you turned her."

Spike nodded, lowering his eyes. He had no desire to see the shock and revulsion on her face.

"What happened?"

"She said some things. Things that have been weighing on me for a long time. We fought. She was the first person I turned and the first vampire I staked." His voice was low and even, but Buffy knew that there were many raw emotions just below the surface. "Early One Morning was her favorite song," he added.

"Spike, I'm sorry you have to go through that again. I really, really am. But there's nothing else…"

He held up her hand. "It's ok, Buffy. I understand."

"We're ready!" Willow announced at the top of the stairs. "How about you two?"

"Yeah," Spike said softly, "we're ready."

Buffy clasped Spike's hand. "I'll be right here. Don't worry."

He spared her a small smile, then turned his attention to the party that just entered the basement. "Let's go."

The spell was rather straightforward, nothing that Giles and Willow couldn't handle in their sleep. A few words in Latin, a few in Greek, and some muttering in a language Spike didn't recognize. The standard smoking incense and supplications to the Powers for guidance and then wam.

The whole basement was full of blinding white light, but it was centered on Spike. He screamed as the light pierced is skin and came out through his eyes and mouth. Buffy yelled Spike's name, but it was lost, the light as loud as it was bright. Then as quickly as it had started, it was over.

Spike lay on his cot, unconscious again, blood leaking out of his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.

"What just happened?" Buffy asked, frantically.

"I…I don't know," Willow answered shakily.

"We won't know if it worked until he wakes up," Giles stated.

If he wakes up, Buffy added silently. She had never seen the vampire look so pale. "We'll need blood for him when he wakes up."

"Right," Willow said, "I'll get on that."

"Thank you."

His eyes fluttered and a low, anguished moan escaped his lips, but otherwise, Spike didn't stir.

"I guess now, all we can do is wait."