Some small part of Spike expected to feel drastically different, for there to be some indication that his life had undergone an unbelievable change. But there was nothing. Life continued, much as it had before. He lived for rehab; Sirra would come around noon, work him, test him, invent new forms of torture for him, and help him get in and out of the special (NOT handicapped!) shower. Leto would come by later, generally with Alanna in tow, and they'd watch the sunset and stroll around Haven. He had good days and bad days and some really bad days. And Alanna and Leto were with him every step of the way.
Spike threw a party when he was able to get in and out of the chair by himself, which also meant that he could shower himself and even roll around Haven unattended. He convinced Alanna to bring him a handle of Jack and drank himself silly, going so far as to challenge Leto to a drinking game. An amused slayer watched over them, helping all the good little vampires into their beds when they were too sloshed to sit upright. Spike reveled in his increased mobility, even going so far as to wheel around the city by himself, but there was still something at the back of his head, something dark that pressed against him.
"Satan." Sirra scowled at her friend. "That is what Spike's taken to calling you lately, right?"
"You do not have to encourage him, Alanna." The slayer laughed and savored her chocolate cake.
"So what's the word on Mr. The Bloody?"
"Complicated." Alanna snorted.
"Tell me something I don't know."
"He's..." Sirra sighed and tried to put the mess that was Spike's emotional state at any given time into some kind of linear, quantifiable description. "He's jumbled. There's still a lot of anger and resentment simmering below the surface, though it's not as backed up as it was. He tends to let it some of it out now when it gets too bad, blowing of steam as it were. But...the spell's going to give. It has to, because it's blocking out too much." Sirra had known Alanna for a long time; anyone else would be fooled by the nonchalant shrug, but Sirra could trace the lines of tension flowing through her.
"You think Leto's relationship with Spike is strong enough?" Sirra felt heartbreakingly sad for her friend. Because Alanna was really asking "Do you think Leto's relationship with Spike is strong enough to support the younger vamp through everything when he decides he never wants to see me again because I did something unforgivable by casting a spell over him that took away a good chunk of his memories."
"I think it will have to be," Sirra said, wishing she could do more.
Alanna and Sirra were both watching him closely. Spike knew this. He could feel it in his bones. And it made him irrationally angry. Their constant watching, feeling their eyes on his every move, made the feelings of restlessness that had been steadily growing within him worse. He started lashing out and having more bad days than good.
He was distracted during Sirra's sessions, and he was standoffish with everyone, even Leto and Alanna. As a result, he became increasingly frustrated with his inability to understand WHY, and would get take his anger out at the smallest provocation. No one was spared his wrath, not even the serving people in the cafeteria. Sirra's insistence that he was moving along marvelously just made him angrier. He still couldn't walk, could he? He tried the other day and all he got was a huge bruise across his cheek and a mortally wounded ego. He couldn't even really write out his frustrations because his chicken scratch was barely legible, his hands still unaccustomed to using his finer motor skills. What, exactly, had he been doing the past four months of rehab? Rolling around the town when he should have been working at getting better, stronger. Spike ignored the voice that tried to remind him even three months ago he could barely hold a mug of blood.
A cloud seemed to settle over Spike, and nothing seemed to pierce it. He was aware of the glances Alanna and Sirra shared, of the worry and concern he could see reflected in their eyes. And it fed his anger. He didn't want their concern, or their pity. He wanted to walk, damn it; he was tired of being helpless!
The anger built, a helpless impotent creature that had no where to go.
Sirra's temper was severely frayed by the time she got to the massage portion of the session. Spike had been moody and snappish for weeks now, and she'd just about had it. She could do nothing right, and he was being absolutely unbearable.
"You're not doing it hard enough," Spike said, "try harder." Sirra gritted her teeth and wrenched the muscle under her hands; harder he wanted, harder he would fucking get. "OW you stupid bint! Sod off if you're gonna be like that!"
"LIKE THAT?" Sirra snapped. "Like what, SPIKE? I don't know what's gotten into you, but you had better shape up, because I'm not going to take your abuse. You know, I'm putting my time into helping you, you could at least be a little grateful."
"Bitch," he muttered under his breath.
"That's it. I'm done for the day. I really don't care if you ever walk again." Sirra slammed the door closed on her way out.
"Sirra?" She growled at Alanna and continued stomping down the hall. The combination of her own frustrations and the emotions she'd been picking up from Spike had frayed her temper to the breaking point. She was usually so much more level-headed than this. Soothing thoughts began to snake through her, and she growled at the slayer beside her. "Stop it." Sirra wasn't in the mood to be 'talked down' as it were. The soothing feelings retracted.
"OK. What happened?"
"Spike," she ground out tersely.
"Spike. Of course."
"What?" Spike snapped, then winced. Alanna's tentative question should not have solicited this response.
"Ah, I was wondering if you wanted to go for a walk?" Spike growled and rolled on his side, away from Alanna.
"Can't walk," he said, as if talking to a child. i Or Harris /i floated through his mind, another one of those increasingly annoying thoughts that had no context, no grounding in reality. Alanna's soft sigh grated on him.
"Right. Can't walk, can't socialize, can't be nice--"
"FUCK YOU," Spike snarled, twisting into a sitting position, eyes blazing yellow. Alanna crossed her arms and arched an eyebrow at the pissed off vampire. "You, who waltz around here with a grin and everybody just fucking loves! You're not the one in the wheelchair! You're not the one who signs up to get tortured every day for hours to...what? Get excited about being able to i stand up by myself? /i Right, excuse me if I'm not Mrs. Mary bloody Sunshine you sanctimonious bitch!"
"You done yet?"
"No, I think I'll lay here and wallow in my misery a little longer," Spike snapped, anger surging hot. He could feel something straining in his head, pushed to the breaking point, that annoying little place that rubbed him the wrong way.
"That organ killed some brain cells," Alanna muttered, too low for a human ear to here. Spike went still. Organ? He felt something leak through, a wisp of a memory.
"How do you know that? You...you can't know that..." Spike's mind was racing a mile a minutes, and he came across a sudden blankness. He was sitting in a strange bed, a green comforter spread across his legs. He sniffed the room, and smelt the linger scent of himself, indicating he'd lived here for a while. There was a woman in the room, red hair, spicy scent who'd apparently spent almost as much time in this room as he had. Scents were layered over his own, but he had no idea what was going on. "Do I...know you?" A look of alarm flashed across the woman's pretty face.
"Spike? Are you alright?" Spike. That's right, his name was Spike.
He wracked his brain, frustrated at the emptiness that had been there. "I...I don't know? I'm not...where am I?"
"Spike, what do you remember?" she asked, fear entering her carefully controlled words.
He remembered...dreams, faceless people who haunted him, who he couldn't quite remember. People bloodied and screaming, but also laughing and...home. They were there, his memories, pushing at the surface, and he clawed at them desperately. "There...a girl. Blonde...and brown...I-I-I failed, and I...loved..." Spike trailed off, fighting a battle in his mind, trying to fill in the gaps, trying to catch at the ephemeral ghosts of himself. He started shaking, clawing at his head as he grasped at the memories, but his head felt oily and disconnected. He screamed, but he didn't notice, trying desperately to crawl inside of himself, to rescue his essence that he could feel drowning in the void of his mind.
"Oh shit!" Alanna scrambled in her pocket, searching for the delicate crystal she always kept on her person. Her fingers clasped around it, and she pulled it out. It was turning black, fine cracks appearing in it's surface. She raised it and threw it to aground, breaking it into a million little pieces.
"Buffy!" Spike arched off the bed, his body rigid with unreleased tension. Alanna held him down as he seized, numb with fear; he was fighting against himself too strongly, this shouldn't be happening. But she knew, better than most, how unpredictable magic really was. She pressed against him, trying to keep him safe and unharmed.
His memories returned in a rush: that night at the Bronze, his appreciation of the youthful form moving with burgeoning sexuality on the dance floor, his instant lust and appreciation, the slow clap and threats; their first fight, all fists and fangs, and Joyce...he took in a sharp breath as his thoughts skipped forward, the pain of her death hit him again, wrenching a small screaming sob from his lips. Joyce was gone, dead, one of the few people in this world who had readily liked him. The Scoobies flew through his mind, scents and impressions colliding together in a torrent of emotional scent-memory; Glenda-Tara who'd always been nice to him and hadn't deserved to die that way, the Xander-Whelp who needed a hard dose of reality and a greater understanding of what a bigot truly was, Red the out-of-control witch whose crimes were somehow worse because she meant so well, and Rupes who had become a brother in a sea of misinformed Yanks and whose Watcherly exterior hid a dangerous, hardened man.
But Buffy overshadowed everyone of them, those memories such a confusing mix of love, hatred, and loathing: his slow and detrimental battle with denial; Dru leaving him for a Chaos demon, the Buffybot, Glory...DAWN. His love and devotion to the young girl slammed into him, and fresh tears springing from his eyes. The girl who was not a girl. She would miss him, she was like her mum, looking up to him and accepting him without making him jump through hoops. Did she even know he was alive? A horrible thought raced through his head as he searched frantically through memories of that final battle with the First. "Buffy! Buffy! Did she...no! God, I—f-f-failed again, I—" Someone ripped his hands from his head, held him down as he tried to drive the emotional pain away with the physical. Words broke through his haze.
"She fine, Spike! She made it! She's OK." Alanna was rubbing soothing circles on his back, trying to calm the freaked out vampire down. Tears ran unchecked down his cheeks and he looked...dead. Spike suddenly raised his blazing blue eyes to her, the scathing look causing her to involuntarily snatch her hand away and scrambled back on the bed.
"You knew." His voice was raw and angry. His attitude had shifted; gone was the frantic, overwhelmed man. Here was a highly pissed off, betrayed Master Vampire. "You did this." Alanna didn't insult him by making excuses or trying to explain; she gravely acknowledged his claim, waiting for him to continue. "A spell. A bloody spell. You--" Spike broke off, shaking his head. He'd trusted her. Trusted her implicitly. And she'd stolen his memories, taken away his love, his family, part of what made him him; she'd violated him in ways not even Buffy at her worst had managed. He couldn't help the strangled why that escaped from numb lips.
"Spike," the emotion he heard in his name jerked him up, eyes blazing in defiance that she could dare pretend to care for him after what she'd just done. "I...I can't...Jesus, I knew that if you woke up and remembered her, knew Buffy was alive, you'd want to go to her, regardless of what we said. And I couldn't let that happen." Spike stared at her, unable to comprehend what was going on. Was this the same woman who encouraged him to work at therapy, to work at achieving the independence he so desperately craved, who had seen him at his worst and still said she believed in him... only to take his freedom of choice because he might act in a way she didn't approve of?
"You bloody FUCKING hypocrite," he growled, viciously gratified at the way she flinched from him.
"Please, Spike, you don't understand--"
"Then bloody well explain it to me, i Alanna /i ," he ground out.
"You...you have to be here Spike. If you had left...God, you don't even know. Bad things would have happened. And I couldn't stand by and watch it. I know you, Spike; I care about you. And I didn't think you deserved to have life shit on you again! I wanted to protect you--"
"By taking away my memories? By casting spells on me so I wouldn't question you? Taking away my free will? Bad things happen. Shit happens. You're like a dictator on a power trip, messing with my life!"
"No, it wasn't...it's not like that, not meant to be like that, I--"
"How did you know about me? And how much do you know about me?" Spike interrupted. He couldn't take the lies and the pain of her trying to rationalize her actions; he was still coping with the fact that their entire relationship had been built on a betrayal. The abrupt shift in topic caught Alanna by surprise, and she stared stupidly at him for a moment. "How do you know all the details about my life," he repeated slowly. He watched with detached interest as she collected her thoughts, numb. His emotions had taken a hike for the day. He knew Alanna well enough to recognize that she was preparing for a fight. Another round of half-truths, he thought dryly.
"The Seek...since it was formed, the Seek has watched the Slayer. When there was only one. We watched her, and the ones around her, both enemies and friends. You fell into both of those categories with Buffy." Spike felt a new, cold anger building inside of him.
"You watched. From the day she was Called." His voice was flat and emotionless, a tone which alarmed Alanna more than the fiery accusations; hot anger was intense, but it burned out soon enough. Cold anger...that was more deliberate, an anger felt in the depths of the soul and, if not released, froze into hatred. But Alanna had sworn that when this day came, she would tell Spike whatever truth he wanted to hear, without reservation.
"Yes. From the second the Slayer before her passed." She finally saw emotion on his closed face and hardened eyes. A cloud descended over him, transforming his features into the cold facade of a man who knew killing and did it well...and had his sights trained on her.
"So for almost eight years, you watched Buffy fight; you've watched her die, watched her suffer, watched her get yanked out of heaven...and done nothing." The viciousness behind the word caused Alanna to step back; Spike's generally affable and easy-going nature made it easy to forget that he had a very real demon lurking under the surface. "I've been in this place, seen only a portion of the resources you have here, and a fraction of it would have saved Buffy countless hardships and suffering! And you stood by, in your pretty little utopia and comfortable beds while SHE saved the world time and again, against insurmountable odds! I never thought I would say this, but you're worse than the bloody Council! At least they occasionally did something useful; you just sat silently by and enjoyed the fucking show." He was breathing hard, his anger consuming him. Alanna thought briefly that she should have known, should have predicted that Spike would get much angrier over the plight of others than his own betrayal.
"Spike, we couldn't interfere--"
"Fuck that bullshit! I've seen you interfere, I've heard about your missions, you yourself have shown me what you do! I'm getting tired of the lies." His body was trembling with impotent rage; he wanted to beat something up--preferably the bitch in front of him--but his legs wouldn't hold him. Anger at his own weakness merged and amplified the helpless, directionless rage building within him. That wasn't true. He had a very convenient target right in front of him.
"I can't directly interfere with the Slayer--"
"Why not? Is there some reason they have to go out a risk their lives ever night with the knowledge that they probably won't survive until they're twenty? When there's a very powerful organization that could--"
"Because the Slayer can't know I exist!" she snapped. She could deal with Spike's anger at her actions; there was a reason she'd taken the onus of the choice on her shoulders alone. But he had no place to cast judgment on things he had no understanding or conception of.
Silence, thick and tense, descended between them, Alanna fighting back her own anger (and yes, fear that Spike would end their association), Spike trying to asses the woman in front of him who was rapidly proving that he didn't know her at all.
"Really, your ego," Spike sneered, "is un-fucking-believable." This girl really had a superiority complex. "How special do you think you are, one little slayerette--"
"I'm not a slayerette, Spike." The sheer weariness in her words cut through Spike's haze of anger. She looked defeated and downtrodden, so very tired. "I am...was a Slayer. As in the Chosen i One /i ."
"Please, I can sense your power, feeling your Slayer. You feel like you were born yesterd—" Spike broke off as her power signature suddenly increased, her presence unlike anything he'd ever felt before. It swallowed his senses, her power permeating the little room, blinding him to anything else. It was pulsing and alive and...amazing. It was like everything he felt with Buffy magnified ten fold, and it was quickly consuming him. He was doubled over, the force of it a physical sensation. And just as soon as it had appeared, it was gone. A small, slightly sad smile played over her lips.