A Buffyverse fanfic by Sisiutil
Part 3 of 3
Dana pushed open the last door, her breathing heavy not from exertion but from excitement. She stepped through it and out into the cool air of a California night in late autumn. Her eyes, wide and watchful, looked up and took in the dark, moonless sky, the stars all but blotted out by the ambient light of the city. The sound hit her then and nearly made her jump back through the door, but she stood her ground. Cars. Music. A siren. And voices. Muted, distant, but so many. She looked across the grassy lawn she had last seen only once before in daylight.
There, just on the other side of a fence of thin metal rails, was one end of a commercial strip. It was brightly lit by the streetlights and the signs for shops and bars and clubs. Cars cruised along it. People were on its sidewalks, not too many, but enough. Enough to make her pause. But only for a moment. Dana looked toward the fence. She got ready to break into a run. She was a Slayer. Strong. They couldn't stop her. Couldn't hurt her. And if they tried...
"Go on then, Looney Tunes. You know you want to."
The voice--his voice--came from right behind her, so close she could feel his breath--no, not his breath, he didn't breathe, it doesn't matter--on her neck. She gasped and sprang forward while she swung her arm around and back.
Spike easily ducked the blow--he'd been expecting it--and chuckled softly as he danced away from her and out into the night alongside her. She glared at him, her hands clenched into tight fists, her body in an attack stance she had never learned directly but knew from the shared Slayer memories. It looked like one of Buffy's, and one of Nikki's too, and that made Spike's smile grow broader. Bloody Slayers. Always bring the same moves to the dance, not that they realize it.
"Nice try, luv, but I'm not lookin' to go best out o' three," Spike said as he moved a safe distance from the hostile, unbalanced Slayer. "Truth is, I'm the one that sprung you." Dana only glared back at him. Spike's eyes rolled impatiently. He was sure that only every third word, if that, penetrated her warped brain. "Me. You. Out. Let. You catchin' any of this?" he practically barked at her, his hands gesturing meaningfully. "I opened the door, let you out, you crazy cu--"
The question, perfectly reasonable and following logically from what he'd told her, surprised Spike a little. His brows raised and his hands dropped to his sides.
"Why?" he repeated. "Why do you think?" Dana frowned at him and maintained her fighting stance. "Oh. Yeh. Right. You're incapable of rational thought, aren't you? You'd think I'd be used to that after one hundred years of Dru."
"WHY?" Dana repeated, forcefully, her teeth clenched.
Spike cocked his head slightly. His lips curled into a smug grin. "Cause I like you. You're a right precious piece of work, you are. Off the deep end. Loose cannon. A crazy Slayer!" he declared with a derisive laugh. "Sounds like something Angelus would've dreamed up. But never 'ad the wrinklies to pull off."
"WHY?" Dana asked again.
Spike clenched his teeth impatiently and leaned towards her a little. "Because, you barmy bint, you're just. Like. ME."
At first, Spike saw no sign that his words had penetrated her scrambled thought processes. But then, after a few seconds, he saw her shift her stance, ever so slightly. And her eyes left him, just for a moment. One corner of his mouth curled upwards.
"Yeah, you know I'm right, don't you, pet?" he murmured to her. "You're a monster. Like me."
"No," Dana growled at him, her voice starting to waver. "Slayer. Vampire. Good. Evil."
Spike shrugged. "Tom-A-to. Tom-AH-to. Marzipan. Fruitcake. Chair. Sex." He took a step back and then reached into the pocket of his duster for his smokes and lighter. "Never went in much for the free association crap meself. Do shrinks still do that?" he asked as he casually tapped a cigarette from the pack. He placed it between his lips, put the pack into his pocket, and flicked the lighter aflame. "Face it, pet. You're bloody bonkers. And you're a Slayer. That makes you dangerous as hell. And I know a thing or two 'bout that."
"No. Slayer. Protect," Dana said insistently, frozen in her fighting stance now, unsure how to proceed in the face of her opponent's nonchalance. And his insinuations.
Spike lit the cigarette and took a drag. He pulled it from his lips and blew the smoke out through his nostrils. "Yeah, sure, whatever. Go on, then," he said, gesturing towards the shopping strip. "Go 'protect' those fine people. Like you did last year, that security guard you put in the hospital. Good work, ace," he went on, giving her a mocking thumbs up. Still Dana didn't move. "Look, I'll even give you a pointer, for free," Spike said cheerfully. "Kill the men first, then the women and children. 'Cause then? You get to hear the wives and wee ones screamin'. That's the best part, the screamin'," he told her, then took another pull on the cigarette. "Okay, that's a lie, the best part is the blood. But for you, I 'spect, it'll be the screamin'. That, or the feelin' of bone crackin' 'neath your fingers..." he added with a vicious smile as his hands clenched as though they were throttling an invisible victim.
"NO!" Dana shouted angrily. She stepped forward, jabbed her right fist at Spike and barely missed the vampire, who ducked and weaved away, chuckling condescendingly. Dana threw a left uppercut at him, but Spike deflected the blow, grabbed her wrist, and twisted her around while stepping behind her. He kept her wrist held tight and pressed that forearm against her windpipe while he threw his other arm around her waist, pinning her left arm and pressing her body against his. She writhed and grunted angrily in his grip, but he held her fast. He held his lips less than an inch from her neck.
"Once you start killin' grown men," he whispered, "doin' the women and the brats is easy. Just think, all those little boys and little girls, dead in your grip. Makes you feel powerful. Makes you feel like a bleedin' god, it does."
"Little boys..." Dana muttered, her eyes widening, her voice tight.
Spike heard it and knew it meant something to her. He didn't know what it meant, but he knew he could use it. He released her and pushed her away from him. Dana stumbled forward and turned quickly to face him.
"Oh, don't tell me you're squeamish about offin' a few schoolboys?" he said with a broad smile. "Little boys, they just grow up to be men. Big, bad men. All the same. Catch 'em early, I say. Do 'em while they're young. Go on now. GO ON!" he shouted, waving towards the crowded street only a few yards away.
"No...protect..." Dana insisted.
"Protect? You? That's a giggle!" Spike scoffed. "You're the one they need protectin' from!"
"No! Slayer..." Dana replied. Weakly. Hesitantly.
Spike could see the cracks starting to appear. Time to put this ball in the net, he told himself. "Yes. Slayer. Killer."
"NO!" Dana responded, her eyes widening in horror. "SLAYER!"
Spike shrugged. "Same diff, pet," he said, raising the cigarette to his lips again. "You hunt. You slay. You kill. It's what you are."
"No..." Dana said. "NO!"
Her head shook slowly in denial; her eyes were brimming with tears. The memory-dreams were flooding back in on her now, hundreds, thousands of girls, down through the ages, all like her, but not like her. She, alone among them, was wrong, was a mistake. She could seem them all, in her mind's eye, fighting for good, fighting the monsters, protecting people. People. Monsters. They all looked the same to Dana. How did the other Slayers know? How did they know who to protect, who to slay--to kill? She didn't! She searched through the memories for something, anything, to tell her how to do it.
Then, in a flash, she saw him. She saw his face. Saw him in her mind until he was all she saw. His sweet face, his big dark eyes looking up at her like she had all the answers, like she was his whole world, because she was. Those delicate little hands, the chubby cheeks, the chocolate skin. Dark skin. Like the man in the store, when she took the clothing, who tried to stop her, but she hurt him, she...
Was that him? Was that the boy? The one she protected in the big city, the one she loved? Had she met him, all grown up, and hurt him? Had she? No, not her. Someone else. Yes. No. Her, yes, her. She was wrong. She was bad. She was a Slayer. She was a monster. She was...she was...
"Robeeee!!" Dana cried, then dropped her arms to her sides. The tears spilled over, ran down her face, as she fell to her knees. "I'm soreee..." she wailed.
Spike watched Dana collapse, watched her begin to cry as she wrapped her arms around herself and squeeze her body in a hug no one else would give her. His heart, unbeating though it was, went out to her. He grunted and shook his head, contemptuous of the sudden rush of feeling. William. William the Bloody. Bloody William, Spike thought. So sensitive, so sentimental. Had he always been there? He'd fought to get his soul back, but he'd taken to wondering lately if it had ever completely left him. Whatever the sodding case, Willy, keep your festering gob shut. I'm not done here, Spike said to himself.
"I know why," he said aloud. He waited for her to pause in her sobbing, then said it again. "I know why. I do. I know why you want to go and hurt them. Hurt them all back. I really and truly do. I know why."
Spike waited. He'd lived over a hundred years, and though he didn't think of himself as patient, and certainly wasn't known for possessing that virtue in abundance, he could sometimes surprise himself.
"W-why?" Dana asked shakily, a few minutes later, as she rocked back and forth, kneeling on the grass, her arms still wrapped around herself.
Spike squatted down in front of her--still a safe enough distance away, but close enough so he could speak to her in an intimate murmur and still be heard.
"Because, pet," he said, "It doesn't make sense."
Dana frowned and snuffled. She loosened her arms' grip around her body and wiped some mucous from her upper lip. "Doesn't make sense..." she repeated.
"No. The world," Spike explained with a glance towards the people walking along the shopping strip a few dozen yards away. "It don't make sense. Never has, never will. Doesn't matter when or how you learned it. Whether it was some wanker pulled you out of your warm and snuggly little bed and tortured you, or whether you tried to help the most important person in the world to you and had it thrown back in your face, so you had to..." Spike paused and pressed his lips together tightly. He pushed himself back up, straightened, and took another drag on his cigarette. He glanced down at Dana and saw her staring up at him expectantly.
"It doesn't matter," he told her. "The world stopped making sense. For both of us. Well, sod the world then, eh, luv?" He declared, spreading his arms, then letting them drop and slap at his sides. "It's all blood and carnage and chaos. Might as well embrace it. May as well sow a little chaos yourself. Show some other stupid gits it doesn't make sense," " he muttered, tossing his spent cigarette butt onto the grass and crushing it out. "Or at least, that's what I thought. For a hundred years. Until..."
Spike fell silent. Dana wiped the tears from her cheeks and gazed up at him. "...until?" she prompted him.
"Bloody hell," he grumbled, glancing down at her, "you still payin' attention? Bleedin' miracle."
"You're...different," Dana declared, and the words made Spike's eyes go wide. He stared at her, incredulous that the crazy Slayer could actually make a statement that made sense. Perhaps Faith had been right about her. "Shanghai. New York. You're...different," Dana repeated.
"Bugger me!" Spike swore softly. "Forgot about those Slayer memories. Yeh. I am different. Though I wish you'd noticed before you went all home improvement on me soddin' arms."
"How?" Dana asked, and Spike could hear the desperation in her voice. And...the hope? Because if he could change, if an evil, soulless vampire, a merciless killer, could change, then...maybe...she...?
But how to explain it to her? Love, souls, Buffy, champions, the end of the bloody world... It was all too complicated. He could see it in her eyes: she was struggling just to hear his words right now, let alone make sense of them. He knew whatever he said next was crucial, could save her or lose her. He paused a moment, and did the only thing he could, called upon the only part of himself that could hope to reach her. William, you bloody sad, pathetic little man...I sodding need you! Tell me what to say, and if the word "effulgent" is in it, I swear, I'm takin' this soul back and exchanging it for a bloody toaster oven!
A moment later, Spike squatted down again in front of Dana. He looked into her eyes, which were dark and uncertain. She was skittish as a trapped animal, he could see that now.
"The thing you have to do," he said quietly, "is find something. Just...one thing, in this whole stupid, bleedin', cocked-up mess of world, one thing that makes sense. Something. Someone. They might...heh...they might seem all wrong, at first. Might be your bloody worst enemy. But...they just...make sense, when nothing else does. And...you hang on to them. With all your strength, for all you're worth. Even if..." the vampire's voice caught, taking him by surprise, and he looked up at the dark sky. He coughed and continued. "Even if it's only in your heart," he finished softly. "That's...that's all I know." He shook his head and stared at the grass.
They remained there for some time, kneeling on the grass as though in prayer, the vampire and the Slayer--mortal enemies, and kindred spirits--each lost in their own thoughts, his clear and despondent, hers jumbled and terrifying.
"Well," Spike said finally as he began to push himself back up to his feet. "Here endeth the lesson..."
The vampire's voice froze in his throat when he felt her hand enclose his wrist. He looked down, startled, searching for the attack. None came. He looked down at Dana and saw not a dangerous, homicidal maniac with super-powers, but a young woman, her eyes haunted and wounded, and looking to him--him, of all the creatures on Earth!--for answers. Her grip was like steel, but it held no threat. She held onto him like a drowning girl would to anything that would keep her head above water. When she spoke, her voice was so soft he barely heard her over the nearby din of the city, but heard her he did, and what she said shocked him and shook him to his core as few things he'd heard in over a hundred years ever had.
"Help me," she said.
His first instinct was to yank his arm away, the arm she'd sliced through only a year before, and run like hell. Are you out of your bleedin' mind? he wanted to shout at her, Of course you are, but this...! Not me, ANYONE but me, you poor, pathetic, crazy bint! Not me, not bloody ME!
"Help me," she repeated, raising her other hand to enclose his forearm pleadingly.
No one, in all his short unhappy life, in all his century of un-life, had ever asked him that. Not his mother. Certainly not Drusilla. Not even Buffy, not even when she was at her lowest. He stood, staring at her, immobile and not knowing how to respond. The whole world seemed to freeze for Spike as he struggled to come up with an answer, any answer, other than the one she craved. But in the end, that was the only answer he could possibly give.
"Uh, okay," Spike muttered. He coughed, clearing his throat. "I mean, yeh. I'll...do what I can, pet."
He watched her as he gave his answer. He didn't think anything else she could possibly do would surprise him more than what she'd just asked, but he was wrong. It was a mere flicker upon her youthful face, lasting only the briefest of moments. Spike even wondered if he'd seen it. But just for a second, the corner of one side of her mouth had curled up in the very slightest, the most tentative of smiles. Then it was gone. But it had been there, and he'd seen it.
He raised his eyes and looked away from her, his eyelids blinking rapidly. He gently eased her back up to her feet.
"All right, come on, little bit," he said, his voice rough with emotion. "Past your beddy-bye, i'n'it?" He began to slowly walk with her back into the Watcher's Council safe house, Dana still clinging to his arm and accompanying him willingly.
He could see dark figures in the doorway, slender female figures, and one man. Two of the girls stepped forward, their arms held out gently to Dana. She whimpered softly and pressed herself closer to Spike, like a frightened kitten to its sole protector. The two Slayers stepped back, and Spike could see the surprise on their faces.
"S'alright," he said, "I'll get her tucked in." He caught an arch look from one of the Slayers and glowered at her. "Not like that, you stupid bint! Get your mind out o' the bleedin' gutter or I'll scoop it out and leave it there!" he snarled, making the young woman shrink back and lower her head in embarrassment. Spike placed one arm, tenderly and protectively, over Dana's shoulders, and walked with her through the doors and back down the hall.
"The council has granted me permission to train you. You will be a Jedi, I promise," Andrew intoned softly and reverently as he watched the Champion leading their mentally crippled Slayer back to her room.
"Right, whatever," Faith muttered from beside him. She sighed. "How much time did Angel spend with her?"
"About a month," Andrew answered.
"And Spike makes more progress with her in one night..." Faith muttered.
"An extreme case for an extreme case, little one," Andrew said knowingly, oblivious to Faith's annoyed glance at him. "Told you my boy would come through for us," he added with no small amount of self-satisfaction as he placed his unlit pipe between his lips. "I believe a certain sultry Slayer of the vam-pyres owes a certain Watcher-in-training a case of Jolt."
"This is just gonna kick you up a notch on the insufferability meter, isn't it?" Faith said tiredly. "Not that I thought that was possible..."
"Let's just say that I'm feeling...five by five," Andrew said smugly.
Faith just rolled her eyes and exhaled heavily, then followed the other Slayers back inside. Andrew waited until the doors closed behind them. He then walked a few paces out onto the lawn and looked up at the roof of the safe house. It wasn't a house, except in name. It was a former private school, its century-old brick covered in ivy. Much of its once-extensive grounds had been sold off, resulting in the proximity of the commercial strip just outside the fence. But the facility nonetheless served the Council's purposes quite nicely. The roof was flat, covered with gravel, and surrounded by a waist-high cornice that served as a perfect mounting point for sniper rifles.
The Watcher-in-training gave the all-clear sign to the two men on the rooftop. He had ordered them to shoot to kill if the unbalanced Slayer had gotten within a yard of the fence. Fortunately, that had not proven necessary. Spike had come through for them. Again. Andrew had never doubted it, but Mr. Giles had been adamant about taking every precaution.
As the men retreated from their rooftop vantage points, Andrew returned his pipe to his lips and sucked the faintest of tobacco scents into his mouth. Someday, he was going to have to figure out how to light the thing. Perhaps the next time he saw Mr. Giles, the senior Watcher could show him. His decision made, Andrew nodded and went back inside the building.
The End...for now.