Uneasy Rest by Djinn

The cemetery was silent. It was the hour just before dawn. Spike finally felt safe being here now that he was sure the slayer was home keeping her not-sister protected. He still made his way carefully. All of the Scoobies were mad at him. No need to antagonize them by showing up where he wasn't welcome. And he knew he wouldn't be welcome here.

But the spot was deserted. Only the freshly turned dirt bore witness to the recent activity here. The headstone wasn't up yet but he knew it was the right place. He stood awkwardly in front of the grave. He had been the cause of so much death yet had known little reason to mourn anyone. He saw that the flowers piled onto the dirt were already starting to wilt. Suddenly it seemed very important to fix them. He knelt down and began to remove the blossoms that had yellowed.

Should get you some new ones, he thought. Looking around, he saw that there were plenty of bouquets nearby, many with fresher flowers.

"Don't you dare."

Spike froze. He had been fond of Joyce and all, but hearing her voice chastise him seemed a bit over the top.

"I'm really here."

He turned slowly. She really was there. He cocked his head to the side as he studied her. "Haven't seen a ghost for a good long time. Rather surprised you'd show up this way. I mean considering how you turned on me at the end."

Joyce looked chagrined. "Well, Buffy was so disturbed by your confession. I had to support her."

He knew he was pouting. "Uh huh. Well I thought we had a connection. You know...a bond."

"I'm here, aren't I?"

He nodded slowly, frowned. "Yeah, you are. But why are you?"

"You know why."

He raised an eyebrow at her as he snorted in derision. "Aren't you the mystical one? Cut the crap, Joyce. What do you want from me?"

"I need you to tell Buffy that I'm all right."

"Ok. Sure. I'll just take a little stroll down to your place and ring the bell and say 'Oh, hi Buffy. Just wanted you to know your mum says she's swell.' Yeah, that's a great plan...for getting me staked." He rose gracefully and stalked away. "I've got a better idea. How about you tell her yourself."

"I can't reach her." Joyce suddenly appeared in front of him, causing him to start. She made a sheepish face. "Sorry, I'm still getting the hang of this."

"What do you mean you can't reach her?"

"She's in so much pain, Spike. It's blocking her receptivity. Same with Dawn. I go there and try to contact them but they can't get past the grief they feel."

Spike's face grew sad as he thought of the two young women alone and hurting. Then he remembered Buffy's face as she rejected him. "Well, too bloody bad for them." Again he took off toward his crypt.

"Spike, I'm asking for your help." Behind him, Joyce's voice was gently pleading. "Please?"

Don't fall for it, he begged himself. Bugger it. His resistance was nonexistent. "Fine, what do you want me to do?"

Joyce moved closer. "Someday she'll be ready to hear this and when she is I want to you tell her that you saw me. That I came to you and I was fine. She needs to hear that. She needs to know that we go on, we don't just die." Joyce seemed very far away for a moment, then she looked at him squarely. "Tell her how proud I am of her. How proud I've always been of her. She was so strong the day I died. She doesn't think so now, but she was. Tell her how sorry I am that she had to find me that way."

"Can't have been easy for her," Spike agreed.

"No. Not easy. And she has to take care of Dawn now too."

"Little Bits was already confused. This isn't going to help."

"I know. You have to tell Dawn that I miss my baby. That I loved her so much. I always will. She was my daughter, no matter what. I loved her. Tell her that. Tell them both that."

"Buffy may never let me near them again, Joyce."

"She will. Someday. I'm counting on it." When he looked at her curiously, Joyce just smiled. "I chose to come to you, Spike. I could have gone to Giles or probably to Anya."

"Or Angel."

"Never really liked him," she said with no apparent regret.

He found himself grinning. "Just one more reason I like you so much." His grin faded. "And I did, you know. Like you."

"I know you did." She touched his hand. "Thanks for coming here to see me. It means a lot."

"I wouldn't have stayed away. You were special, Joyce."

She leaned in and laid ghostly lips on his cheek. Then she was gone.

Feeling considerably cheered, Spike whistled as he walked back to his crypt. Just before he got to the door Joyce appeared directly in front of him, again causing him to jump. "Bloody hell, Joyce! Did you forget something?"

She smiled evilly. "You didn't really think I'd go away before we had a chance to talk about that robot, did you?"

FIN