Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, UPN, Mutant Enemy,
etc. Except Mrs. C, Eddie, Zevra, Grak, Garg, and the rest of the
Summary: Sequel to Grandpa; A soul takes Spike places no one
expected him to go.
Setting: The Samaritan-verse branched off from the end of BtVS season 6 and AtS season 3.
A/N: The End.
SAMARITAN Pt. 25 Outlets of the Sky
- - - - - - - -
When the bell rang, Buffy flung the door open, smiling broadly. "Hey! Come on in! We're so glad you're here!"
Wobbling into the hall, Giles was amazed to see two ruby-eyed, astonishingly wrinkled demons standing in the doorway, accompanied by a curly haired, rather timid looking human girl. And instead of hanging back, Buffy, Dawn, Anya, Spike, and Xander crowded around the visitors uttering cries of welcome. To Giles' surprise, the shorter of the two, who wore sensible shoes, a lavender twinset, and big hoop earrings, enfolded first Buffy and then Xander in an embrace. The taller one, in a rather handsome glen plaid suit, gave Giles an affable smile, revealing a fang or two.
Buffy darted to Giles' side and tugged on his arm. "Come on, I want you to meet our friend Clem…"
The demon extended a taloned hand, his red eyes friendly. "Clement. Hi, Mr. Giles! Gosh, this is really an honor."
Giles took his hand and shook it firmly. There was such a thing as good manners. "How do you do?"
"And that's my mom, and this is Sophie—c'mere, sweetie..."
Sliding her arm through his, the dark girl nodded shyly. A couple, apparently. Giles suppressed a smile as he imagined Quentin Travers' head exploding.
"How was your trip over from England?" Clem asked, interrupting this pleasant reverie.
"Long, but uneventful," Giles replied.
"Isn't that parched air on planes just the worst? It dries my skin right out," Clem confided. "I always take plenty of water bottles, but it's never enough."
Eying the sociable demon's remarkable display of flaps and wrinkles, Giles took himself firmly in hand. "I can imagine that might be a problem," he said with sincerity.
"Hey, what an enticing aroma!" Xander exclaimed as Clem's mother handed him a large, foil-covered dish. "Is this chow I smell before me, Mrs. C?"
"Plenty for everybody!" she promised, in strongly accented English. "Take to kitchen, Xander; Buffy, dear, I knew you'd be too busy to cook, so I bring little something for dinner…"
"Wow, thanks!" Buffy said. "It does smell good …um, I'm sorry; I don't have any wine, or anything. I hope it goes with tropical fruit punch!"
"Doesn't everything?" Xander said simply.
- - - -
Feeling oddly disoriented—that would be the jet lag, probably—Giles bobbed along behind like a cork on the tide as the others swept into the kitchen. He watched dumbly as they all stood chatting in inconveniently placed groups, sipping brightly-colored beverages, Willow-Clem-Spike, Anya-Xander-Dawn, as Buffy, Sophie, and the motherly demon (whose name he hadn't caught) bustled about, putting the casserole in the oven to reheat and setting the table for an impromptu meal.
By the time they all moved to the dining room, Giles found the scene quite surreal. This room had been the scene of innumerable councils of war, each more desperate than the last, as well as the comfortable, restorative meals over which Joyce had presided in earlier days. Now, somehow, the arrival of these friendly demons had produced a rather more "normal" atmosphere than he was used to finding in Buffy's chaotic twenty-something household. In fact, it was quite familial. Xander teased the girls without bias just like an older brother, including Sophie, who giggled helplessly, and traded sports yarns with Clem. Even Spike, bizarrely helpful, busied himself with arranging the seating in what seemed almost a parody of Victorian etiquette (though he seemed perfectly serious).
"Here, Rupes, you be dad, then, and sit at the head of the table, with our hostess (and Domestic Goddess) — " (here he blew a kiss to Buffy, who actually appeared to blush) "—on your right, and Magda, the guest of honor, sits at the foot…"
When all the food and drink was set out, and everyone took their seats, Spike, settled between Buffy and Dawn, raised his glass (which was not, in fact, filled with fruit punch, but something amber-colored) in a toast.
"To our formerly absent friends," he said, with a wink at Willow. "Wasn't the same without you!"
"Yeah, we sure could have used your witchy ways, Will," Xander added.
"And we learned one thing—we SO suck at research, Giles; I bet you would have spotted that thrall thingy right away," Buffy put in.
"Not to mention the chimera," Spike added.
"My dear, you've all done splendidly; I'm very proud indeed." He found himself meeting the eyes of Clem's mother, who gave him a smile he found strangely encouraging.
"I am absolutely starving to death," Xander announced. "So what's for dinner, Mrs. C?"
"Is everybody's favorite," the lady demon said, smiling. "Tuna casserole!"
"With the crunchy crushed potato crisps on top? Lovely!" Spike said.
"And peas! And cream of mushroom soup! It's a Caprescu specialty!" Clem declared happily, passing his plate.
Suddenly Giles was wide-awake and stone cold sober.
THE Magda Caprescu?
Giles felt as though someone had tossed a bucket of cold water over his head. His fingers trembled slightly as he set down his glass. Could it be the same Magda Caprescu? But it must be.
Really, this was intolerable. Nobody told him anything anymore. He'd revered this particular white sorceress for years, since the earliest days of his training—her scholarship and originality were legendary. And here were these children talking to the great lady as if she were a favorite aunt. He only hoped they'd shown her proper respect. What would she think if they hadn't? After all, he was responsible for their behavior in a sense.
He looked across the table and her ruby eyes met his.
Giles' heart sank. She knew. She knew he'd recognized her, that he was what one could only call a 'fan,' and that he'd been foolishly and rather meanly worrying about social niceties. She knew everything.
And she smiled at Giles again.
A knot of tension just behind his diaphragm, a knot he'd been doing his best to ignore for countless years, suddenly loosened. Giles caught his breath.
How long had he been living his life stretched to the limits of endurance? How many years had he spent knowing that, each day, he would inevitably step into the lair of the enemy?
But now—Giles was almost afraid to think of the difference an ally like Magda Caprescu might make in the great fight he'd been born to.
Now they might win.
- - - - - - - -
Spike had to admit he was a bit knackered, though the evening had gone off well, all things considered. He let his head fall back against the slats of the Adirondack chair set out in Buffy's back garden and stretched his legs out before him. Extending his senses, he detected both Dawn's shallow, sleep-slow breathing and Giles's weary snores inside the dark house. A mild breeze rustled the leaves of Joyce's rosebushes, wafting a faint, sweet scent in his direction. Silent stars glittered overhead as an owl wheeled and banked, intent on its nightly search for unwary rodents, air whuffling through its soft feathers.
Spike sighed, and tried not to think about just how good a ciggie would taste right now. Not that he was backsliding. He didn't want to disappoint his girls, Buffy, and Dawn, and Mrs. C. Anyway, he had to set an example for poor Wills, didn't he? Show her it could be done, resisting things.
But still, he was fondly imagining dragon-like plumes of smoke streaming from his nostrils, when he felt rather than heard Buffy come up behind him in the darkness. Without a word, she climbed onto his lap and slid an arm around his neck, and he automatically drew her slender frame close.
"Now it's my turn," she murmured, her lips against his ear. "Alone at last!"
She settled her head in the hollow of his shoulder, and relaxed against his chest. The warmth of her body seemed to wash through him.
"Tired, love?" he murmured.
She shook her head. "I was just wishing I could see what Willow sees," she said. "But at least I can feel it…"
For a few moments they sat quietly together, letting the pressures of the past few weeks (or was it months—or years?) drain away.
Then, all of a sudden, Spike felt Buffy's back muscles tense beneath his fingers, just as a faint sound met his super-sensitive ear. In silence, she raised her head and looked at him enquiringly. He gave a brief nod, and then they both heard it again—a crackling of underbrush toward the back of the garden.
"Why do they always go for Mom's rosebushes?" Buffy whispered.
Spike rolled to the right and Buffy to the left, and they shot toward the bushes. The snapping of branches and twigs was louder now, and Spike heard harsh panting. He made a dive into the shrubbery and emerged clutching a skinny neck that was all too familiar.
"Chalky!" he snapped, hurling his catch to the ground. "What the bloody hell d'you think you're playing at, lurking about in this neighborhood?"
"Don't kill me, Spike! Please don't kill me!" Chalky literally groveled at their feet.
"Who would bother to kill you?" Spike said, eyeing him with distaste.
"You know him?" Arms folded, Buffy contemplated Chalky, who looked even more unsavory than usual. His white hair clung damply to his cheeks, and grime smeared his face and pale tattooed arms. His black eyes darted back and forth between them. "What's he, some kind of squirmy white maggot demon?"
"Not exactly a 'he,'" Spike replied. "More like an 'it.'"
"Hey!" Chalky protested. "There's no need for that kind of talk, okay?"
"You traitorous, lying weasel, you ratted us out to the Doctor, didn't you?" Spike snarled. "I'll do more than talk; I am going to kick your scrawny, albino arse from here to the sewer you came from!"
Chalky scrabbled backward. "I couldn't help it, Spike, honest! They made me tell 'em!"
Spike advanced. "You made a cozy little deal for yourself, you mean. Too bad we took her down before you got your payoff. How much was it?"
"Well, that's sorta why I'm here…" Chalky jumped as another, much louder, crash sounded from the next back yard.
"What the bloody hell is that?" Spike seized Chalky by one bony shoulder. "Who followed you here?"
"You gotta help me, Spike! It's Roger!"
Buffy quirked an eyebrow.
"Roger the Troll," Spike explained, dropping Chalky ungently. "Bookie, usurer, and general miscreant. Large-ish bloke, violent, on the rough-trade side. None too clean, either."
"See, I owed him the money, and I was gonna get it from the Doc, right? So he gave me an extra 24 hours. But my time's up and the Doc's dead and now he's gonna tear my head off and stuff it down my windpipe. And that's a direct quote."
"So let me get this straight." Spike rubbed the bridge of his nose and then stared down at Chalky, fists on his hips. "You want US to help YOU because your scheme to double-cross us didn't come off—that your argument, Sunny Jim?"
"Yeah!" Chalky exclaimed, pleased at his rapid comprehension. "See, if you guys hadn't, like, slain the Doc, ol' Rog wouldn't want to kill me now, see what I mean?"
"Right," Spike agreed with dangerous affability. "Of course, if we hadn't slain the Doc, we'd be FRELLING DEAD!"
"Actually, as I understand it, I'd be legs," Buffy put in.
Chalky's face fell. "Well, if you want to get technical…" Then he brightened. "But anyways, you ain't dead—or legs! An' Spike's all good and stuff now, and s'posed to fight the forces of evil, okay? And Roger is evil—you gotta admit that! An' I brought him right to you!"
"Doing us a bloody favor, in fact!" Spike paused to glare at Buffy, who was fighting a losing battle with giggles. "Oh, very humorous, I'm sure, Slayer! Thing is, you haven't met Roger…"
"She will in a minute," Chalky interjected helpfully.
"Shut up, you!" Spike aimed a half-hearted kick in Chalky's direction.
"Oh, lighten up, Spike!" Buffy was openly grinning now. "How bad can he—
A guttural roar struck their eardrums, shaking the ground beneath their feet, and Roger the Troll hove into view, crashing through Buffy's neighbor's frequently repaired fence. He was certainly huge, with a mane of rough hair reminiscent of nothing so much as buffalo hide, blunt features, and small, piggy eyes. A waft of air from his direction suggested that he smelled like a buffalo, too. Or possibly a yak. Spike had always wondered how a creature so dim made a living as a bookie, but maybe he was an idiot savant, or something. Still, constantly slaughtering your clients couldn't be that good for business.
"Hey! Let's keep it down, big guy! People are trying to sleep!" Buffy snapped, hands on hips.
Roger's great head swung in her direction; he growled, and sniffed the air. Then he spotted Chalky.
"You!" he snarled. "Now I crush you! Now you die!"
Squealing, Chalky fell to the ground and covered his head with skinny, pallid arms. "Spike, Spike!" he moaned, "Don't let him get me!"
Spike felt a tingle of anticipation. Maybe he wasn't quite as knackered as he first thought. Besides, seeing even a jackass like Chalky forced to beg made his hands close involuntarily into fists.
"Hold it right there, buster!" Buffy's eyes flashed. "Nobody crushes anybody in my yard!"
Roger's smile was unpleasant, not least because this sudden expressiveness revealed yellow incisors, broken tooth stumps, and what looked very much like misshapen tusks sprouting from his lower jaw.
"Okay," he rumbled, a gleam in his eye revealing a certain amount of brutish cunning. "Roger make deal with Slayer—Slayer says no crush here, Roger no crush."
One hopeful black eye peeped out from between Chalky's quivering fingers.
Then Roger's great, hairy arm shot downward, and Chalky's throat was seized in a pulverizing grip.
"Roger take loser away—crush later!" Laughing, he shook the terror-paralyzed Chalky like a terrier shakes a rat.
Spike glanced at Buffy. She stood coolly surveying the spectacle, arms folded. Well, it wasn't fair to involve her, was it? Not her fight, really. The slayer's job was protecting humans, not random guttersnipe demons. Hell, it wasn't even HIS fight, when he thought about it; it wasn't as though Chalky was worth saving. Roger might be evil, but his offer was fair enough, by his lights. If Spike had any brains, he'd wash his hands of the whole thing, and he and Buffy could pick up where they'd left off, which was far more interesting, anyway.
Trouble was, he just couldn't do it.
"Tell you what, Rog," he drawled casually, "why don't we take this back to Demontown, and discuss it like gentlemen? No need to involve ladies…"
All at once, he was pulled aside by a sharp tug that nearly knocked him off his feet.
"Spike! What are you doing?" Buffy hissed in his ear. "Aren't you going to teach him a lesson?"
"Well, yeah," he whispered uncertainly, "but that doesn't mean you need to…"
"Listen, Spike." Her warm fingers curled around his arm. "From now on, we're in this together, remember?"
Spike looked at Roger, chortling with cruel glee at the thought of tearing his victim limb from limb; he looked at Chalky's tallow-white face, twisted in agony. He felt Buffy's eyes on him, green-gold and glowing like starlight. He would happily drown in those eyes, and the wonder of what he saw there. Commitment, love, and…faith. Fireworks exploded in his heart.
But there was no time for that. They had an evil (and, by now, puzzled and rather bored) troll to defeat. Together.
"Ready, Spike?" Smiling, Buffy held out her hand.
For a few moments, everything seemed suspended. Was he ready?
Spike took the slayer's hand in his. This was it, then; he was one of the good guys now.
- - - -
all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the Muse—
a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
But it is a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
It was never for the
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Such 'twill reward;—
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.
Ralph Waldo Emerson