Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Buffy characters and I make no cash off of this! I'm just playing around in Joss's world!
NOTE: excerpt towards end of chapter is from "Chosen", BTVS, Season 7
NOTE: Hopefully you will forgive me my rather generous interpretation of Spike's character...I realise that I'm being rather charitable but I can't help myself. :0)
All reviews, emails, and comments are welcome! To those who've stuck it out this far, thank you so much! I hope you are not disappointed with the ending! Mind you...I'm not opposed to writing an epilogue...
The house was silent when William left. He snuck out the back door and quietly walked down the path towards the patch of oaks that shaded the small family plot. Leaving the path, he set foot across the grass, and he reached into his pocket and took out the pack of cigarettes and lighter.
This was the only time he ever smoked. He'd never, as far as he knew, smoked in his life. But for some reason, when he came out to Beauvais Hall, he took the time to come out to this spot every night and smoke a cigarette or two. He was always very careful to bury the butts and hide all the evidence. Dahlia had been very vocal with her opinion of the disgusting habit the one time Jackie had come out to the plantation and had the nerve to light up a smoke after a very tense dinner.
Thinking of Jackie, William shook his head. Jackie, Lydia – he didn't know what to call her anymore! She was still Jackie to him and wondered how she was making out in California. She'd gone for a short vacation to spend time with Giles and his people. William was terrified that she was going to return to her previous career and leave him high and dry, but she'd promised to find him a replacement as competent as she was.
He only hoped that that was even possible, but he had his doubts!
His footsteps were soundless on the damp grass as he reached the cemetery and sat down on the lone bench facing the most recent tombstone.
He leaned back, lit his smoke, and took a deep drag.
"That is a nasty habit, William," Dahlia said sharply.
Startled, William sat up, dropped the cigarette to the ground and quickly covered it with his shoe. "Bollocks," he muttered.
"Oh, do not think that you have been successful in hiding that from me," she said as she sat down next to him. "I have known about it the whole time."
He grinned at her sheepishly. "Then you should have said something, love."
She chuckled. "Why? And make things easier for you? Have you smoking around the verandah like that awful woman you hired?"
He laughed and settled his arm around her, resting it on the back of the bench.
"What are you doing out here so late?" he asked.
She sighed. "Waiting for you, took you long enough."
He looked down at her in surprise. "Waiting for me?"
She nodded. "I need to talk to you and I wanted to do it here, just you and me."
He glanced over at the tombstone and the fresh flowers. "You miss her," he said softly.
She smiled, nodding. "I do, but not as much as I used to. It does pass, time does heal. As much as that is a cliché, it is true. And other things have helped."
He rubbed her shoulder and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I'm glad."
"You have helped."
He was surprised. "Me? How?" He thought about his novels and nodded in understanding. "The books, that's right."
She shook her head. "While that did help, there was something else."
He looked bewildered. "What else?"
She smiled at his naivety. "William, do you honestly not feel or understand that there is more going on here than what we see? That there are bigger powers at work? How can you, with all that imagination and all those stories in your head, not believe?"
He sighed and looked away from her. "If I give in to that, how the hell can I control it?"
"You do not, you just let it happen. You just let it be, accept what is."
"And what is?"
"You have been here before," she murmured.
He frowned. "Before? Before when?"
He stared at her, his face losing all its color. He looked at the tombstone and back at Dahlia. "Please, Dahlia, please tell me that I- that Spike didn't kill your granddaughter," he begged.
She reached up and gently ran a hand over his hair and down his cheek. "No, my dear, he did not." She took his hand in hers and she turned to the tombstone, needing to feel her granddaughter's presence even more strongly as she recounted the tale. "I did not lie to Miss Summers when I told her that Savannah had been killed while in the line of duty. Being a slayer killed her. Just not in the way that slayers are usually killed. You see, William, Savannah did not go down fighting and spitting and struggling for her very life. She was not a fighter, she was a poet." She glanced over at him and smiled sadly. "She wrote the most beautiful poems. I will give you one of her journals and you will see that I had reason to be proud. She was a beautiful girl, kind and gentle. There was no killer instinct in her. There was no fight in her." She exhaled deeply and looked at the tree beneath which her granddaughter was buried. "She hung herself there, from that tree."
A gasp escaped William's lips and his heart sank. He looked over at the tree, trying not to, but unable to stop the image of a beautiful teenage girl swinging limply from a tree limb. He didn't know what to say.
"Aah, bloody hell," he whispered hoarsely, fighting back the tears.
"I should have seen it coming," Dahlia said and wiped a tear from her cheek. "But I was stupid and naïve. All the signs were there, but I just put it down to being a teenager. I even spoke to her Watcher about it, but he dismissed the concerns. It is difficult being a slayer, he said. And I left it at that." She took a deep breath and squeezed his hand. "It was a week after her eighteenth birthday. She had been particularly quiet, writing in her journals. She spent a lot of time with me, just sitting and reading. And then, at about midnight, I heard her leave. I thought she was going patrolling and thought nothing of it."
William thought back to her earlier version of the story and his heart pounded. "Did Isaiah find her?"
She shook her head. "No, he did not. I did."
William drew her close. "Christ, Dahlia, I'm so sorry."
She closed her eyes, but she could not escape the memory of that night. It was still as vivid to her as if it had just happened. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to continue. He needed to know the rest.
"I put my robe on and decided to go looking for her at about three. She was usually in by then. As you can imagine, there are not that many vampires out here. She often went into Charleston and came back as the sun rose. But sometimes she just went out and stayed in the area. I had not heard the car leave, so I knew she was not far."
William didn't understand why Dahlia was putting herself through this. He pressed another kiss to her soft, white hair, hoping that somehow, the telling of this story was giving her some sort of comfort.
"I walked across the lawn towards the copse of trees and I heard some noise, a rustling and some cursing." She shook her head at the memory. "I remember the cursing and the smell of cigarettes."
"When I stepped into the clearing, I saw him." She looked up at him. "Spike was standing there, cutting my granddaughter down from the tree. He – he had laid her body down on the grass and was trying to get the noose from her neck."
"Bloody hell," he whispered.
"I fell to my knees. I think I cried out. It – it was obvious what had happened, even to me, to someone who in a million years would never have thought it possible."
"What did he do?" William asked. He was terrified of her answer. What else would a soulless demon have done? His entire body was strung tight, waiting for her answer.
"He cursed, my goodness, and he cursed even more when he saw me," she said with a trembling smile.
"What the bloody hell are you doing here?" he'd asked her.
She'd simply stared at her granddaughter's body lying in the grass, the face discolored and her eyes bulging.
"Not supposed to see this," Spike said as he threw his leather coat over the body, hiding it from her. "For Christ's sakes, go back to the house. Forget you ever came out. Send someone out in a bit. Tell the watcher a vampire got her."
Dahlia looked up at William, his face in the moonlight exactly like the one of the vampire that night.
"He was trying to cover it up, you see. To protect me, to protect Savannah. He did not want me or anyone to know that Savannah had killed herself," she explained.
William shook his head. "Why? Why would a sodding vampire care what you thought? Why would he care how a slayer died unless he'd killed her himself?"
She shook her head, smiling gently. "Because he was different," she said. "I did as he asked, and I asked Isaiah to go look for her. When he found her, there was no sign of the noose, of the rope, and there were two tiny puncture wounds in her neck."
"Did he drink from her?" William asked in horror.
Dahlia shook her head. "No, he did not."
"How do you know that?"
She laid her hand over her heart. "Because when I looked into his eyes I did not see evil. I saw confusion, despair, compassion, and anger. But I did not see evil."
William removed his arm and he leaned forward, bracing his arms on his knees. He bent his head and stared at the grass.
"Why tell me this?"
She looked at him; he looked so vulnerable and so fragile. "Because you need to understand and to accept that there are two sides to you. You are both Spike and William. Your memories are not just your own, they are shared. You come here and smoke those cigarettes because this is a sacred ground for you. You write those stories and those poems and you toss at night from dreams that are memories and they are a part of who you are. William, you will not be happy until you embrace your past and accept who you are."
"A demon? A killer?"
She shook her head. "A man who was cursed with the loss of his soul. A man who sometimes tried to be good. Who loved and was loved."
"He was a killer," William whispered.
"Sometimes the darkness won," she said. "William, there is darkness in all of us. The difference is that some of us have souls protected by the Gods and that helps us vanquish the darkness. Spike had his soul taken from him, and all he had left was a little spark; sometimes he was able to use that spark and win his battles, as I saw that night."
"Buffy loved him," he said suddenly.
Dahlia nodded. "She saw good in him. It is to her credit that she was able to see that part of him. Most couldn't see through the darkness."
"Can I make her love me?"
Dahlia grinned. "She already does, William. She loves your goodness because it is so easy to. There is no work here, there is just love."
"I don't think she's over him," he said. "I don't think she'll ever be able to put him to rest. She has this crazy idea that she has to fix things with him, apologize for something. And she can't, he's gone."
"He is not gone completely," she said. She tapped his chest, over his heart. "You share a soul." Dahlia looked up at the moon and smiled mysteriously. "There are ways to soothe the soul and heal the past," she murmured. "You both need it."
He sighed and sat back and stared at the tombstone. "So he wasn't all fangs and blood sucking?"
She took his hand in hers and stood up. "No, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be at peace and one with yourself."
He nodded and they began walking to towards the house. "I'll try," he said. Stopping, he leaned down and kissed her cheek softly. "Thank you for telling me, love. It couldn't have been easy."
She smiled softly. "Having you here, all these times, has made it easier. It was almost as if I was able to say thank you to that man for trying to protect me from the truth, and for trying to protect Savannah's memory."
William looked up at the house and the room where Buffy slept. He could only hope that other memories could also be laid to rest.
Dahlia stepped into the potting shed. She glanced behind her, making sure that William had gone into the house. She saw the light in his room extinguish, she nodded to herself, and then shut the door to the shed behind her. She went to the table in the middle of the room and looked over the items spread out before her. She laid down the last item she'd needed, a crumpled cigarette.
She lit the candles on the table, calling on each of the elements as she did so, as if she were calling out to old friends.
"I call on thee, the northern wind, to soothe the spirit with thy cool breeze." She lit the white candle and faced north. Then she turned clockwise and faced the east. "I call on thee, fire of the east, to burn away the nightmares." She lit the red candle and bowed her head. Then she faced south and lit the green candle. "I call on thee, earth of the south, to help root the seeds of love." Finally, she faced the west and lit the blue candle. "And I call on thee, water of the west, to cleanse the soul."
Dahlia felt the magic rise in the circle she'd cast and she thanked each of her guiding goddesses for their power. She lit the charcoal disc in the brass urn and then she turned her attention to the silver basin in front of her. Into it, she crumbled the cigarette, and then added some of Buffy's hair that she'd had Annabelle steal from her hairbrush that morning. To this mixture she added the Gris Gris herbs that she ordered in special from New Orleans. Sprinkling the mixture with her own, special concoction of dried sage, lavender and sandalwood, she called upon Savannah's spirit.
"Using the night, let William's dreams take form and flight. Let Spike's spirit brighten the dark corners and in William's darkest hour, let him see the light." Carefully, she stirred the mixture clockwise as she spoke the incantation. Then she took a small silver spoon, her granddaughter's baby spoon, and she collected some of the mixture and sprinkled it over the smoldering charcoal. The herbs began to smoke, filling the air with that familiar scent of cigarette and lavender. Tears smarted her eyes as she felt Savannah's presence in the shed.
"Hello, my baby girl," she whispered, closing her eyes and smiling. "It has been a long time."
She felt the air around her shift as it thickened with the spirit. Ghostly fingers played over her hair and she felt the breath of a kiss on her cheek.
"Go and help them," Dahlia whispered. "Give back to him the memories that will strengthen their bond and heal their past."
Dahlia bent over and taking in a deep breath, she softly blew the thick rising incense across the room and out the window. She opened her eyes and watched as the swirling cloud of smoke solidified for a moment. For a split second, she could see the fall of her granddaughter's hair and the graceful stretch of her arm as it rose in a wave.
"Good bye, my darling," Dahlia murmured. "Sweet dreams."
William turned out his light and closed the door to his room. He walked down the hallway and stood outside of Buffy's room. Raising a hand, he knocked softly.
"Come in," she called out.
He let himself in, his eyes adjusted to the low light and he quickly found her. She was lounging on a chaise over by the window, bathed in a beam of soft moonlight.
"Hi," he murmured, walking towards her.
She shifted on the chaise, making room for him. He sat down, leaned back and without question, she settled into his arms and stretched her legs out.
"What were you doing outside?"
He sighed, not surprised that she'd seen him. Glancing out the window, he noted that she had a perfect view of the yard.
"I went for a smoke out by that copse of trees there," he explained.
She didn't show any surprise at the mention of the cigarette. Simply took it as a given.
"Did you see Dahlia? She'd gone out a bit before you," asked Buffy.
He nodded. "Yeah, she found me."
"She okay? She seemed a bit preoccupied after dinner."
How could he explain it to her? Did he even want to? Did Dahlia want him to? Was that what this was all about? Did he need to tell Buffy that her lost love had tried to protect Dahlia and her granddaughter? Did Buffy need one more reason to love Spike?
"She had a story to tell me," William began. "About her granddaughter." Quickly, and without sparing any of the details, he recounted Dahlia's tale of the night Savannah had died.
Buffy watched him speak, noted the expressions on his face and she saw his struggle, but she couldn't tell which side was winning. The skeptic or the poet. When he was finished, she nodded.
"That doesn't surprise me," she murmured. "If Spike had killed Savannah, I would have known about it. He would have told me. Giles said that in the Watcher's Diaries it read simply that it appeared that an unknown vampire had killed her. There were contusions on her neck as well as puncture wounds. They put it down to strangulation." She shrugged. "As sad as it is, slayers are killed in the line of duty. No one thought to question it any further."
He drew her tightly to him and pressed his cheek against the top of her head. The thought of her dying, in any way, shape or form, terrified him. He didn't know how he was going to survive loving this woman.
"Did you – did you ever consider it?" he asked quietly.
She looked up at him. "Killing myself?"
She sighed. "There were times, after my mom died and everything was crumbling around me that it just seemed overwhelming. But I had Dawn to take care of, and there was Xander and Giles and Will to take care of me. After Glory and after I came back, it was worse."
"Came back? From where? Where did you go?" he asked in curiosity.
Without emotion, Buffy explained her plunge through the open portal and Willow's resurrection spell.
William stared at her in shock, jaw dropped, eyes wide.
"Right then," he said in disbelief. "You died, went to heaven and then were dragged back by a fucking witch and had to dig yourself out of your own grave."
She nodded. "That pretty much sums it up."
"Bloody hell, woman."
She shrugged. "It's ancient history. It's over. But the only thing that saved me after that happened was, Spike." She looked down at her hands, then up at him. "I was so angry at Willow and Xander for bringing me back and, Spike, well, he understood. He was the only one that understood the darkness in me. But killing myself? There were too many demons out there who wanted me dead, I never thought of doing the job for them."
He kissed her softly. "Thank God for that," he murmured. Then he leaned back and stared at her, frowning. "You're done now, right? All that slaying and dying? Retired, yeah?"
She smiled gently. "I'm done."
He closed his eyes and sent a small prayer heavenward.
She settled back in his arms and they watched as the dim light went out in the potting shed and Dahlia crossed the yard and came back into the house.
"So where do we go from here, pet?" he asked.
Buffy smiled, a tiny secret smile.
"We both go on living," she murmured.
He nodded. "Sounds good."
Buffy closed her eyes and they drifted off to sleep.
Spike felt the heat as the blue light exploded from his chest. It burst a hole though the ceiling, right up through the principal's office into the night sky. All around them the Turok-Hans exploded into clouds of dust. The ground shook beneath their feet and parts of the ceiling and floor caved in.
"Everybody out, now!" Faith called out.
Buffy hurried to Spike's side.
He looked down, a wild grin on his face, as Buffy stared up at him. They'd fought so hard and they were almost there, victory was in sight.
"I can feel it, Buffy."
"What?" she asked, her voice shaking with intensity.
"My soul. It's really there. It kind of stings."
She stared at him, the scythe in her hand.
"Go on then," he said, gesturing to the crumbling staircase and escape.
She shook her head. "No, no. You've done enough. You could still –"
"No. You've beat them back. It's for me to do the clean up."
Faith yelled down as the walls crumbled around them. "Buffy! Come on!"
Spike glanced up at Faith, then looked to Buffy. "Gotta move, lamb. I think it's fair to say that school's out for bloody summer."
Buffy looked frantically between him and her escape, her eyes wide with worry. "Spike!" she cried.
"I mean it!" he shouted. "I gotta do this!"
He held his hand out to her, needing to stop her, needing to push her away, needing to touch her one last time. Buffy intertwined her fingers with his. She could feel the incredible, beautiful light that emanated from him like a beacon. Their hands burst into flames. And she looked into his face, her eyes brimming with tears.
"I love you," she called out over the roar of the crumbling walls.
He shook his head. "No you don't. But thanks for saying it." The ground beneath his feet swelled and buckled as another earthquake hit. He lost his contact with her. "Now go!" He watched as she turned and ran. A wild grin split his face as he looked up, the flames eating away, searing his flesh. "I wanna see how it ends!"
William shifted uneasily in his sleep. In his dream, Spike burst into light and William sat up suddenly. "No! Don't!"
Buffy jumped, landing on her feet quickly, arms poised out in front of her. She looked around the room frantically. "What? Who's there?"
He bent over and buried his head in his hands. "Christ!" he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck. "Shite."
Buffy sat down next to him and put her arm around him. "William, what's wrong?"
He looked up at her, his face ashen, his eyes wide with remembered horror. "My God, Buffy. I – I just had the most vivid dream!"
She took his hand in hers. He looked down at their entwined hands, remembering how in the dream, they'd caught on fire. He remembered the searing heat. He remembered her frantic face, the look in her eyes and suddenly he understood.
He gazed at her, searching her eyes.
"Buffy, tell me, how do you see me. What – what are your feelings?"
She looked startled at the turn in the conversation. But she knew that here was her opportunity to set things on the right path. Whatever his nightmare had been, she would heal him.
"I love you," she said gently.
He opened his mouth to speak and quickly she covered his lips with her finger and shook her head. "No, don't say anything." She said. "Just – just let it be what it is."
A warm, gentle light filled his heart and spilled over into his bleu eyes. He carefully removed her finger from his lips. "Why do you do that? Why do you cover my mouth like that when you tell me love me? You did it before, back in Charleston."
"I – " she faltered.
"Are you afraid that I will just deny it? 'No you don't. But thanks for saying it." He murmured.
Buffy's eyes widened.
William grinned and pulled her into his arms. "I don't know how. But I remember that night. I remember every bloody second."
Buffy tightened her arms around him. "Thank God!"
He pulled back and looked down at her. "Now, let's do this right and proper."
With tears in her eyes, she framed his face with her hands. "I love you," she whispered, staring into his eyes.
William smiled. "I love you too, pet. I love you too." He leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips.
Buffy's lips curved in a smile. She'd gotten her chance to fix things after all and from the ashes of the Hellmouth and William's nightmare, Buffy knew that they both had a chance to heal.