A/N: Wow, this is really going well so far! I didn't expect to be able to update again so soon, but I sat down today to begin writing chapter two and went on to finish it with no problems within two hours.
I'm especially proud of the second part of this chapter, which is in Spike's POV. It turned out incredibly angsty (and while I was going for hurt/comfort, I didn't mean to get so dark and delve so deeply into his psyche) and I can honestly say that I love it. Some stuff just writes itself and I'm glad I randomly decided to do this flashback from his POV and not Buffy's as a normal narration.
Please drop me a line after reading - reviews are like delicious lasagna. :)
Vertigo - Part II
It had been three days now and she was still there.
Her funeral had been a quiet affair, no one there but the Scoobies, Dawn and Spike. They hadn't reached her dad, the number having been out of order for some time now, but they were still trying to locate him, if only for Dawn's sake.
Buffy was mighty pissed at Hank Summers. He didn't even know his ex-wife was dead, let alone one of his daughters! Wasn't it bad enough that he had abandoned them completely and wasn't remotely helping to pay the bills? Dawnie would need a new legal guardian – and that might prove to be a wee bit difficult, seeing as her death was not information privy to the authorities.
The reason for that was simple: The Sunnydale underworld could absolutely not be made aware of her demise until a new Slayer had stepped forth to keep them in line. But the sinking feeling was going around that the Slayer line might very well be going through Faith since Buffy's first death. Surely, she couldn't be the only Chosen One to die twice, right? Giles was investigating.
Buffy wondered what would happen if that was indeed the case. If Faith was all there was left, shouldn't someone be giving the girl a serious crash-course in morals right about now? (Or try to kill her, seeing as that was very much something the Council would consider.)
Angel might be fit for the job. He and Faith had bonded before. If there was anyone equipped to pull her back to the good side, it was probably him.
He hadn't come to the funeral. Buffy couldn't hold it against him. She knew it wasn't because he didn't care but because he was the kind of person who needed to grieve on his own. She was relieved they had called him at all – what with the major Angel-hating the Scoobies and even Dawn and Spike had going on – but it had been Xander of all people to pick up the phone.
Buffy had tried going to LA to check up on how her ex-love was doing, but had found that she was confined to the people who had been there when she died. Between them, she could go wherever she wanted, but if she tried moving past them in any way, she got pulled back.
So she had to be there for her funeral, too. She approved of the clothing choice Willow and Tara had picked out for her together, felt touched when Dawn had insisted to do her hair herself, liked the coffin Giles had bought well enough, though the thought of lying in it gave her the creeps. Even the headstone was to her taste.
"She saved the world a lot."
Only Xander could have chosen that (and he had). It was perfect, sassy instead of sappy, just what she would have wanted. Plus, recognition for her work was awesome. She had, after all, died doing exactly that.
Now as to someone continuing it… Willow was working on the Buffybot. Not the perfect choice, seeing as the thing was supposed to be a sex toy for a deranged vampire, but it did pack a decent punch and if she managed to program it right, that insufferably bright smile might actually soften into proper facial expressions.
Giles had voiced his concern the day after the battle, how it might create a lot more danger than they could deal with if the vampires and demons resident to the Hellmouth heard the Slayer was gone. She had been able to tell how hard it was for him to even say anything at all, because it meant acknowledging Buffy's death, but though out of a job, he was a watcher still and he had to play his part in protecting the innocent. He'd notified the Council and started working on whether Faith was it or if there was a new Slayer out and about, but for now, they had to find a solution real quick.
It had been Anya – a bandage around her head and still a bit shaky, but mostly back to her old form personality-wise – who had suggested using the robot. There had been half-hearted protest, but in the end, everyone had quickly understood that even though it was a slightly gross and definitely painful idea, it was the best chance they had to stall.
Xander had insisted Spike go get it – the Buffybot had been left headless on the foot of the tower – and quiet as he was these days, he had gone without complaint.
She had followed him, a silent presence haunting a silent presence. She did that a lot. Follow Spike. It was less painful and more intriguing to watch him, now that she was over the initial shock.
He wasn't as vocal about his grief as she would have expected – it had been so hard to shut him up at all before. If you didn't count one fit of drunken aggression in which he had basically smashed his crypt, he wasn't acting like Spike at all. Even then, he had cleaned up immediately after, because Dawn was coming over the next morning.
He didn't watch his beloved 'Passions' anymore, only if Dawn was there and made him do it - a heartbreaking attempt to take care of him as he did of her – didn't seem to care much about anything. He drank himself to sleep if he didn't have anything useful to do around the house or was exhausted from demon-hunting and woke up in tears with her name on his lips. Every once in a while, he would write something in a small blood-red notebook and scratch it out again. He didn't eat (or in his case, drink) more than absolutely necessary and even the violence of patrols amused him a lot less than it would have before.
Willow washed his clothes, Tara was a quiet rock of support for him, Anya forced him to go get black market artifacts to sell at the magic shop, he occasionally drank a cup of tea with Giles and even Xander never objected to his slaying plans and suggestions or the mere fact that he was deemed trustworthy enough to look after Dawn. Her little sister made sure he ate regularly and spent every moment she could with him. If he wasn't so distant, she would have started referring to him as a Scoobie.
It was fascinating how he was more of a walking zombie than a vampire the last few days, so she followed him.
Like when he had retrieved the Buffybot. His steps had been firm, his pace fast, but not hurrying, a picture of force and determination, but not quite there mentally. She was becoming obsessed with his eyes, always varying between dead and dull and brighter and more expressive than any others she had ever seen. They were a wealth of pain deeper than a vamp should be able to feel. She realized she really hadn't known much about Spike at all.
When he had reached the former parking lot that still housed that horrible tower for the first time since her death, she could tell his first instinct was to grab a steel pipe and start smashing the place to ruins. He even went as far as grabbing one. But then his gaze – angry flames in icy blue – fell on the plank she had thrown herself down from and the fire died. He stood there, frozen, for a long, long time. Then he carefully set down the pipe exactly where he had found it and went to find the Buffybot.
What happened then astounded her. It didn't take him long to locate its body and then its head, but while she would have expected him to be as careful with it than he had been with the pipe, he simply threw its body over his shoulder and grabbed its head by the hair.
It was a gruesome sight, even though she knew it was just a robot. But why he hadn't acted emotional at all would take her a few more days to figure out.
He had carried her, back then.
It takes a lot out of you to mourn the woman you love.
A lot more energy than you have left after the battle that cost her life. A lot more time than you have when sunrise is creeping nearer and nearer.
You consider staying, not saying anything and just dusting at her side. But then you look at Dawn, at the brave, brave girl you promised you'd protect until the end of the world and beyond it and you know you have no right to die for good, because if you had done your job, she wouldn't have gotten hurt.
Buffy wouldn't have jumped.
You want to say something when Dawn suddenly looks at you and says:
"We should get out of here. The sun will rise soon."
You appreciate it, almost. You love the little bit. You need to be there for her, even if you'll just be a walking shell of a man.
Harris says emotionlessly:
And the Niblet answers:
"I don't want Spike to get hurt."
Harris actually looks guilty.
"I should go check on Anya anyway."
He brought her to the hospital, soon after we all found Buffy and came back as soon as he found out she was going to be alright. Might have told him as much. Let him take care of his girl. You like Anya.
The old man moves for the first time since he sat down next to the body. His voice sounds strange.
"We should take her with us."
Red's face scrunches up again with tears and she buries it in Glinda's neck.
Harris's tone wobbles.
"I'll carry her."
You look up.
Try to find a reason, any reason why you should be the one to carry her.
"You can hardly walk."
He snorts. Something that would have been a snort anywhere else, but even that git seems kinder here.
"Says the guy who's actually limping."
Just make him let you carry her.
"'m a vampire. Doesn't bloody matter if I'm hurt, does it?"
"Of course it does."
You haven't heard Glinda speak at all since before, but it almost touches you that she cares.
"I can do it. Heal faster than you lot. Probably all fixed by now."
You can feel that your leg is still pretty broken, but you know you can carry her without dropping her and that's all that matters. You know you need to. It needs to be you.
You will forever be thankful that Rupert says:
And that he means you.
Harris doesn't object anymore. You can tell he's as tired and worn out and grieved out as the rest of them. He would gladly carry her, but he doesn't look like he could do a single step with her without breaking down from the weight of her death.
You can bear it.
You will bear it.
You will bear her.
You see how Rupert slowly makes his way over to Dawn and helps her up. Lets her lean on him. She's had Buffy's head on her lap up until then, caressing her eyes, stroking a halo of hair out of them. Now she lets it carefully back to the ground.
You look back down at Buffy. You've crawled closer over the course of the past few hours. You're almost touching her now, but you need this excuse to do it. You know you don't get to, you have no right to, but you need it. Feel her soft skin, her tiny frame one last time and more intimately than she had ever allowed it in life.
You're very careful. You've never been as careful with anything or anyone else, not even Dru. You scoop her up softly, sliding your hands under her fragile little body until you can hold her. You don't want her head to hang towards the ground, so you lay it on your neck and make sure it can't slip.
She is still warm, not as warm as before, but warmer than you and her motions are still fluid, even if they aren't her own anymore. You're grateful for that.
She is even smaller when you hold her like this. Her eyes are closed, as they have been since we found her, her eyelashes flutter in the soft breeze. Her hair tickles your skin.
There is no heartbeat, no blood pounding through her veins. She is completely silent.
She looks peaceful.
You slowly stand up. Your leg hurts. You can't support your weight fully with it, but you have to.
So you do.
It will heal. It will all heal.
Buffy won't heal.
You won't heal.
To be continued...