Title: Redemption

Author: Katjen

Rating: PG13

Summary: Post Grave - Spike's got soul(Slightly AU I suppose since Cecily isn't dead on the seriesbut whatever:))

Disclaimer: Me no own. You no sue, okay?

*~*~*

He doesn't know how many nights have passed since he fell. His flesh still smokes, his wounds still bleed. His mind spider-webs like broken glass. The facets are tinged red and they cut, they bleed, they smoke. They reflect shadows shaped like people pointing their fingers, halos of sound surrounding each one. He can see their screams getting louder and louder, a lion's roar in red pulsing waves blurring into white noise until it's a dim glow. It flares and then it fades again and again, burning him like fire, searing into his eardrums one long continuous howl of pain.

He wonders if this was how Angelus had felt when it happened to him, the truth of who he was and what he'd done crashing in all at once, battering his brain with images of the dead.

Angelus would have seen their faces so clearly. He'd have seen the lines and curves of them. He'd have remembered the way their bodies moved and the materials that clothed them. He'd have recalled every scent, every texture, every sound.

Death had been an art, every detail to be savored and remembered. He had loved them as he drank because he had loved himself loving them. It made him holy, a god bestowing the ultimate gift of release. Angelus's victims had probably been laid out before him like a collection of baseball cards, the final moment of their lives captured forever in freeze frame and the statistics printed out clearly in his aristocratic hand.

He doesn't know which is worse. That or his own dead, his own shadows, demanding that he acknowledge them and see them as individuals when he can't. All they are are rows upon rows of little glowing flames, altars upon altars of candles snuffed out too soon. When the demon set up shop inside him he hadn't sweated the details. They had all been the same. Humans hadn't been individuals, tiny portraits of miraculous life, they had been cattle, slow and stupid and weak. And so he hunted, he felled, he drank deeply. He had never found any kind of religion in their deaths, any kind of poetry, art. Those things had died a pathetic whimpering death inside of him not long before he had followed, and he had never had an urge to romanticize. He had never gazed into their eyes, had never memorized that look of fear. Their deaths hadn't meant enough to him to notice. All that had mattered was that rich dark taste and the thrilling sensation of his blood mingling with theirs.

It fills him now as the shadows writhe and scratch and howl, metallic and dirty on his tongue because it is unclean, and always has been. He spits it out but the taste is still there, and it will always be there. He is a monster and the demon is no longer inside him to celebrate it. There is nothing left but his soul, raw from being ripped from wherever it was ripped from, and it trembles inside this rotting shell haunted with roiling faceless victims that cut and bleed and smoke.

He longs for those first few moments of disorientation and confusion after the mind numbing pain of the restoration. It had almost been blissful for a moment, like falling through space, until he remembered he was William and then suddenly was afraid of hitting the ground. Because William was a bloody coward and a-

"bloody awful poet"

It still stings after all this time, and he realizes now that William had never let the hurt go. He had fondled it carefully like a wounded bird while Spike had rolled pages and pages of his poxy poetry into cigarettes. The pain is still there and it flutters around in his chest, beating its wings, stirring the shadows into frenzy.

Yes Feel it, feel it

Her face comes to him; her shadow slips off her skin like a chrysalis and he can finally see. His first love, his first poem. His first kill.

Cecily.

She had gone to the opera that night and had stood unattended while her father spoke to a gentleman inside. He had watched her for awhile, stalking her from the shadows. The wind had blown her program from her hand into the street. It had skittered across the cobblestones and slid to a slow stop at his feet. He had looked down at her a moment as she bent to retrieve it before stepping out of the shadows and into the sallow lamplight. He saw her pulse leap in surprise as he revealed himself, one gentle palpitation that momentarily shifted the rubies at her throat. She had said his name and he had glanced up from the crimson droplets encircling her white neck long enough to see the frustration and pity in her eyes. Her face had not changed since he last saw her, but the beauty he had treasured, the grace he had sought to express in clumsy couplets did not touch him. That pity that had once cut him so deeply did nothing to his heart because it no longer beat out the rhythm of her name. It was silent and still and he was very very hungry. She began to scold him, to tell him that she had made herself perfectly clear earlier and why did he insist on embarrassing himself like this? The light from the street lamp had been reflected in the facets of the jewels and he had watched them flicker until she stopped talking and he saw that palpitation again. She had known she was in danger. He had taken her by her silk clad shoulders and pulled her into the darkness overcome with the scent of blood tumbling beneath skin like dark secret rivers. Liquid rubies. He sank his fangs into them before she ever had a chance to scream. He had left her empty, lying in the dirt. He had taken her necklace and given it to Dru.

He had placed it around his lover's neck and she had gazed down at it, fingering one of the rubies and then slipping it into her mouth, sucking for a moment as she played with the others hanging down against her cheek. She had released it suddenly from her lips and it fell into the hollow of her throat where he had had his first taste the night before.

He told someone once that becoming a vampire was a profound and powerful experience. The truth was he didn't remember much of it. He remembered the strange beautiful woman approaching him in the alley, he remembered the pain in his heart and how it had disappeared when he looked into the woman's eyes. She had understood him, she spoke the same language, she made him believe she was someone who could understand his heart, listen to his words and not laugh if they didn't come out quite right. And then she bit him. And it had hurt so bad he had blacked out. When he awoke his veins were on fire, his mind a red riot of jumbled memories that didn't feel as though they belonged to him. He tried to push them away, but there was one that kept coming back again and again and it touched something inside of him, made him burn even more.

He knows now that when his soul was taken, the demon that came had not been completely alien to him. It had recognized some part of him, the darkest part, and it fed on it. Vampires are the worst of their human selves. Some are sadistic, snobby and in love with their demon selves as much as they were with their human selves. Some are masters and some are minions. Some are eternally fragile despite all their strength. What it boils down to is this: If you're insane when you got bit, you're ten times as nuts and bolts when you're the one doing the biting. And if your love is strong enough to rip you apart from the insidejust imagine what it could do to someone else when you have power

His darker self, the part of him that the demon had fed and grew from was that love. That obsessive love, that maddening desire for Cecily.

That was why she had to be his first.

She stares at him now, her eyes blank and lifeless as her fingers tangle with the necklace and the jewels begin to bleed, drip down her waxy skin and stain the lace at her breast, soaking the front of her silk dress.

The shadows converge upon her, demons sucking at the blood. And they all look like him.

He watches as she struggles, as her hands claw and tear and he helps her rip them away. His hands connect with flesh beneath the silk of the darkness and he pulls away each shroud. They swirl at his feet, the shadows dissipating like a great fog lifted.

And now he sees.

There's a little girl. She couldn't have been more than six when she died. She carries a doll. He remembers that doll. He stole that treasure for Dru as well. The little girl's wrist is bleeding into the flaxen hair, trickling down the porcelain face and settling in the pink well of the painted lips. She holds it out to him, making him look at the gaping wound stretching across her wrist so deep her hand looks as if it's about to fall off.

William retches and Spike remembers her neck had been too small to get a proper meal from.

Next his mother comes forward, then his brother, and then stranger after stranger and every detail is there, every rip, every tear. He remembers every color until they are smothered by red.

He sees them, all of them. They stare at him with those dull, lifeless eyes, and they hurl their pain at him, the feeling of razorblades tearing into soft vulnerable skin, last thoughts of loved ones left behind, unfulfilled dreams and desires. And then they show him himself killing them one by one by one by one.

He moans, he cries out to them to please please go away, to sink back into shadows again and leave him be because he is sorry, he is so so sorry

Only two victims stand before him now.

Two slayers.

The first steps forward - an Asian woman dressed in black from head to toe, a long braid hanging like rope over her shoulder. She's young, only sixteen. She had been called three years earlier and he remembers looking over his shoulder for her whenever they had traveled to a new city, hoping to catch a glimpse, hoping to get his chance. Angelus had been afraid of the slayer and Spike had found that positively delicious.

It had been the thrill of an evenly matched fight that had called to him at first and even curiosity that a mere human girl could send some of the most powerful vamps into hiding, but mostly he had sought out the slayer to piss off Angelus, to secure his place in their ranks and to have it be known that William The Bloody had done what Angelus their leader had not. He had tasted the blood of a slayer.

And it had been a thrilling fight. And he hadn't won because of his skill, his speed. It had been pure blind luck. The blood had been good, the best he'd ever tasted. But that hadn't been the point. For the first time he understood what Angelus meant by a good kill. It had nothing to do with blood.

She twirls a stake with an intricately carved handle in her hand. She stops suddenly and points it at him, right between his eyes. She curves her wrist and traces the scar over his eyebrow. She doesn't touch him.

She frowns as the stake falls from her hand and then stares at it lying at her feet, confused. How did that happen? Her mouth opens in a silent gasp and her hands fly to her throat. They come away red and dripping. She's startled because that wasn't supposed to happen. She's the slayer. She isn't supposed to die. She falls anyway.

The second slayer, Nikki had been her name. She steps over the body and stops a breath away from touching him, her dead eyes boring into his. Joan had been tuff. He had liked her. He had followed her for two days before cornering her in that subway car. Or maybe she had cornered him. Either way she had known what he was, what he had wanted. It had been different with her. He had faced her after soaking in Angelus's endless diatribes about finesse and artistry. Although he had scoffed and taunted his "teacher" for decades, he had listened and had begun to believe. Everything he had told Buffy that night had been Angelus's words, but they had become his religion by then. And when he faced that second slayer there was no luck involved. She had been good. The best he had ever faced. He had been better.

He didn't even drink from her then. It hadn't been about that.

Nikki blinks and a split second later her head snaps to the side and she crumples to the ground. He sees himself pulling the leather trench coat off of her lifeless body, remembers her strong limbs flopping loosely like a rag doll's.

Two slayers at his feet.

He remembers the feeling of seeing each of them lying there, beneath him. He remembers the exhilaration of it, the pride, the smugness. Now he just feels sick.

The slayers disappear, swirling into the mist at his feet and his other victims watch him from the shadows before slowly melting back into them, whispering in hisses that they'll always be inside him and he'll never be allowed to forget, never be forgiven for what he's done.

Spike hangs his head, William holds it in his hands. He passes out, hits the ground hard.