TITLE: Settling In

AUTHOR: Shadowlass

EMAIL: shadowlass2000@yahoo.com

SUMMARY: It's Spike's first night at the Hyperion, and everyone has a little adjusting to do. Each chapter from a different POV. BtVS post-"Chosen," AtS post-"Home"


DISCLAIMER: I don't own BtVS or AtS, and surprisingly few other TV shows.


He's upstairs. He's got the door shut, and he's been quiet, and neither of those are much like Spike, but it's him. It talks like him, it moves like him, it looks—

Like William. He looks like William, not Spike. Spike was the name he took when he decided he was the baddest vamp ever to start a riot, much less tear his way through the populace of London. He wasn't bleaching his hair yet, but the punk that he became, with his duster and his skintight jeans—that was Spike to a tee. The quiet human who showed up at the Hyperion this morning didn't look much like Spike at all.

"You're dead," I said.

"No, I'm not," he replied calmly. He looked at me steadily, and I understood that he didn't mean that he hadn't become dust when the Hellmouth collapsed. He meant he wasn't dead any longer.

Not like me.

He Shanshued. He Shanshued, instead of me. Lilah handed it to me, the pendant that would bring Shanshu, and I didn't recognize it. I handed it over to Buffy without much of an argument, and she gave it to him, and he Shanshued, and I never will, because the prophecy? It was about one vampire who became human. Not two vampires, or three, or an endless supply of vampires, one after the other. Just the one.

It all hinged on Buffy. She could have worn the pendant herself, although it was risky, or she could have given it to Faith, or she could have given it to half the people in her damn house.

But she chose Spike. He was her champion, and he wore the sign of her favor into battle.

And now he's upstairs. He's probably sleeping; he isn't as strong as he once was, doesn't have the stamina he used to. His face, sunburned and surrounded by a shock of curling sandy hair, looked tired when he came in.

He hasn't mentioned Buffy.

He will, I know. Soon, probably. I don't know what to tell him. She hasn't settled down yet. Or she has, and just hasn't told me. I don't know which.

He ate breakfast with Fred and Wes and Gunn and Lorne this morning. I sat there, too, although I didn't eat and I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. I couldn't bring myself to go upstairs. I kept watching him compulsively, trying to see what was different about him.

The answer was, not very much. It was frustrating: this thing I'd worked towards for so long, and Spike mostly seemed like … Spike. That wasn't how the Shanshu was supposed to work, right? He was doing it wrong. Breathing? Blinking? Sniffling? It had to be wrong. How could he seem so casual about it? Didn't he understand what it was, the gift he'd been given?

How—how—could it have been him? Spike, who got us chased out of tiny villages and magnificent cities. Spike, who could only have sprung from a sire as mad and powerful as Drusilla. He inherited her power and recklessness, but not her insanity; he was a legend in his own time. Every meal he stalked, every amusement he sought, was pursued as avidly as if it was his first Slayer and he was, as he liked to put it, back against the wall.

It was Buffy who told me about his death. It was just a footnote to the story, really. She  and her friends, including a busload of strange girls who shrieked and giggled incessantly, came by and she told me that the world wasn't ending and she wasn't alone anymore. There were Slayers all over the world, now.

At first I thought it meant something. To us.

But no, she was just telling me as one champion to another. Keeping me up to speed on the latest apocalypse. She told me the First Evil had been defeated, and that Spike saved the world.  She'd left before the very end, but considering the entire town was essentially sucked into hell, she was working on the assumption that he was dead.

She didn't seem very broken up about it, if you ask me.

I mean, not that I'd know. They only stayed here for a couple of days while they crashed after the big battle. We haven't spent a lot of time together in the last few years. But I knew. I've always known, with her. At least that's what I thought.

He hasn't asked about her. He will, I know. He has all the patience of a toddler on a sugar high, so I'm surprised he's managed to wait as long as he has.

Maybe he's different now; I don't know. I never knew him when he was human, although I saw him—stalking down the boulevard, ripping some paper to shreds, tears running down his face, expecting other people to get out of his way. Emotional and impulsive.

Come to think of it, not all that different from how he was after he was turned.

Maybe he doesn't remember Buffy. It doesn't seem very likely, but him coming here, with my Shanshu—no, not my Shanshu, obviously—well, Spike receiving the Shanshu doesn't seem very likely either, does it? Spike, who lived to run wild, whose salvation was found the first time he sank his fangs into someone's neck, being found worthy.

They found him worthy, despite the fact that he would have torched the world if it would make her happy.

Christ, I don't even know which her I mean. Does it even matter? Spike doesn't "love" somebody because of her virtue. He just develops some weird fixation, grabs on, and won't let go.

Is that why he was given it? Because he could love? Because that greedy little brawler "loved"? Doyle told me, years ago, that I needed more contact with humans. I needed more of a sense of connection with others, otherwise I'd eventually just view them as food. And so I'm around them now, every day. They're at work with me at Wolfram and Hart, and they're here with me at the hotel. I can't turn around without someone being there.

When he came in, Wes and Fred were just walking downstairs. The company limo, which had just dropped me off, was waiting to take us, any of us, wherever we wanted. Then the door opened and I turned from where I was leaning against the counter, chatting with Lorne, and he walked in, the sunlight creating a corona around him and leaving his face in shadow. For a moment I thought it was a Wolfram & Hart employee coming in to tell me the one-thousandth Very Important Thing that had happened in the twenty minutes since I left the office, and then I recognized him.

He's not the reason I'm upset. He hasn't got the power to make me feel lousy. He's just an annoyance; he's never been more than that, no matter what he tells himself.

So he's here, this unfortunate progeny of mine, while the son I love has faded from everyone's memory but mine.

And now I have eternity to appreciate that irony.

This is the kind of night I have more often now, when I reach first not for Rimbaud or Descartes or even Manilow, but for Scotch, good Scotch that can make me forget as thoroughly as the others have. Because remembering hurts.

Every regret Spike has will be wiped away. In a half-century he'll be mouldering under clods of dirt and won't be coming back. He'll be released from life, from unlife. The sins he committed while he was a vampire were washed away by the Shanshu, and the pains of his human existence will be cleansed by the afterlife.

And I'll still be here, looking forward to the rest of my unlife, stretching out before me endlessly. For a moment I remember, sharply, how I felt when Buffy told me she held Spike in her heart. I was sore with grief at losing Connor, but what she said still hurt.

But if two hundred years of existence has taught me anything, it's that no matter how bad things seem, they can always get worse.

So drink with me. Here's to unlife! The times I'll turn into Angelus. The friends I'll outlive. The son I gave away for his own good, who'll die in a fraction of the time I've spent on earth. All the times I'll shy away from love, so I won't tempt fate.

It's been tempted too much already, and its reactions are never kind.