Title: Watchers

Author: Starbaby

Series :BtVS

Rating: um…PG, I guess.

Disclaimer: We're seizing Spike because he's been kicked around enough this season.

Summary: A little post-ep for "Hells Bells." Buffy ponders love and friendship on the Hellmouth.



I should be tired after the wedding fiasco.

When Xander left the church that final time, damage control fell to Willow and I, while Tara tried to comfort a crying Dawn. Thank heaven for Tara. I seem to be saying that more and more these days. Anyway, we steered a dazed Anya back down the aisle, blotting at the bleeding scrape on her arm, and finally turned her over to D'Hoffryn when she resisted us. Now I think that might have been a bad idea.

I should be exhausted after breaking up three more fist-fights, dispatching the guests, peeling Xander's Uncle Rory of that poor caterer, and forcing his dad to finish paying for it all. When all was said and done, we were left with a trashed lodge, wilting flowers, uneaten cake, and a dead demon lying under the--badly stuffed, according to Rory--moose head. Hey, it wouldn't have been a party if I didn't kill something before the main event. There's always some evil afoot, be it a sword-happy demon on my last birthday, the Master at Homecoming, or Glory on my death day. The Watchers Council should print a pamphlet-- Slaying in Formal Wear, a How-To Guide for Chosen Ones not dead and buried by Prom Night. For Resurrection Tuesday, I slayed bikers and wore basic black.

I shouldn't be restless, wandering from here to there, checking on Dawn and Willow long after they've found the rest that eludes me.

I watch over Dawn for a long time, wishing I could keep her this innocent forever. Love on the Hellmouth is different, more dangerous and intense than anyone on the outside could ever understand. There's vampires, werewolves, demons, witches, warlocks and zeppos, and each does love, in their own intense way. I'm beginning to understand that now, after years of struggle. I wonder what creature Dawn will bring home someday and present as her one great love. I hope she does better than the rest of us. Only Willow and Tara appear to be inching toward normal--whatever normal is for Lesbian witches on the Hellmouth--after this devastating year.

I run my fingers over the frame surrounding my mother's face--if only she was here, to give us hot chocolate and sympathy. Things would be so much better. I touch Dawn's backpack and Willow's empty mug, fragrant with chamomile. My hand rests, ever so briefly, where Spike sprawled in a thoroughly disreputable heap in front of Doris Kroeger, before my palm lands on the new weapons chest. I remember how together they were that night, and wonder what happened between then and now. Of this I'm sure…it wasn't lack of love for her that drove Xander away. It was something lacking within himself, some void that he filled with fear and self-contempt. Maybe all these years he knew us better than he knew himself. It was not enough to form a liking.

Yeah, I know. The pot and the kettle.

I leave a note for Willow and Dawn, arm myself, and head out into the night to look for Anya's wayward groom. The last time I saw Xander, he was heading away from the church, as alone as any man I've ever seen.

I give up after two fruitless hours of wandering, questioning, and shaking down the locals for information. Xander doesn't want to be found. That's okay, I guess. I know what it's like to want to disappear from this life, for just a little while.

The only reason you're here is 'cause you're not here.

As if on a pivot, I turn automatically at the memory of his words, spoken not so long ago, but, oh, so far away from where we are now. I'm not sure why I move in the direction of Spike's cemetery, but here I am, passing under the angels who watch over the dead, including the one who walks among us. I decide not to break with tradition by knocking. We've never been formal with each other. Personal space? That's funny. The guy stole my underwear, for God's sake.

I find him where I expected to, in the upper crypt. I suppose the downstairs is still Kentucky fried, another casualty of us. The television is off, which is surprising and a little alarming. He's in front of it, which is comforting. I'm strangely relived that his TV survived the egg fiasco.

I lean my hand on my hip. "You should have stayed for the brawl."

A smile tugs at his fine lips. "Might have enjoyed that." He throws one hand to the side. "Evil," he reminds me, smirking as only Spike can. I missed him, as we sorted through the wreckage, and how he could distract me from my sorrow with a quip or a lewd comment. I missed his unique and colorful perspective on disasters such as this.

"Of course." I agree, just like before.

Its dark in here, lit only by few flickering candles. I notice a book resting on his thigh.

"What are you doing?" He's so rarely still, always fidgeting, or smoking, causing an uproar or thinking about one.

He gestures to a blanket-covered lump in the corner. "Watching."

I tiptoe over and pull the edge of the blanket back to reveal the face of Xander Harris, tense and strained in sleep. I creep away.

"Why?" The question springs from my lips before I'm aware of its even forming there.

Spike shrugs as only Spike can.

"Cause he did the same for me, after you…after Glory. Whelp parked himself in that doorway over there so I wouldn't take a morning stroll into the light. I'm keepin' him from takin' a nighttime stroll into the dark. He might never come back, state he's in." Spike looks far away for a moment. "Found 'im in a roach motel downtown, drunk and yellin' at the manager about the air conditionin'."

I don't know what to say. We've never been good with words, the two of us. I speak with my body instead, folding myself onto his lap and resting my head on his shoulder. This is…different. He tenses for a moment before slowly stroking his hand up and down my arm. This is...good. Very good. Almost as intimate as that first time, and not a stitch has come off. I remember how the plaster rained down on the flexing muscles of his back that night, and how it seemed to go on forever. I wonder now if we weren't both trying to kick start his heart.

We watch Xander.

It occurs to me that we have many Watchers in our lifetime. Our parents watch when we're young, then our teachers and mentors as we move into the teenage years. But they can only teach so much, and watch for so long. Our friends and…lovers…assume the role as we gain adulthood, and these are the ones who stay, if we're good to them, and even when we're not. When we're old our children become the Watchers, brushing our hair and washing our faces like we did for them when they were helpless. For all my missing him, maybe this was what Giles was trying to tell me with his leaving. I'll have many Watchers in my lifetime, as will Xander, and Willow, and Dawn, Tara, and even Spike. Angel has his own band of Watchers in the city that bears his name.

I watch Spike out of the corner of my eye. I think about his words, about walking out into the dark and never coming back. There's a story there, I'm sure. I lean a little closer and sniff delicately. I'm relieved to say he didn't bed skanky ho-girl. I'd smell her on him. He leans his head against mine and begins to speak.

"In my day, women were groomed for one role in life--wife and mother. By the time she got hitched, a girl could sing, play piano, dance and discuss literature. She learned French, the rules of etiquette and conversation, and the art of silence--"

We both snicker at that.

He tells me stories late into the night. We watch Xander.

I hope somebody's watching Anya tonight.