Coming Back to Haunt Me

A/N Many thanks to Mahaliem for kindly beta reading this for me.



As Buffy’s face scraped against the rough stone of the tomb, she had time for just one thought before the darkness took her. “Next time Spike looks depressed, I should just punch him and go home.”

It had been such a simple errand; go to Spike’s crypt and ask him for help with an upcoming fight. When she got there, pushing open the door rather than kicking it, in a rare moment of consideration, she found him pacing the floor, a bottle in his hand. His face was hollowed and sharp, almost skeletal in the flickering light of a dozen candles, and the air was heavy, as though a storm was about to break.

“What do you want, Slayer?” His voice had a harsh edge to it, cloaking a weariness that made his words drag. His tone caused a shiver that prickled the back of her neck and she chose her words with more care than usual.

“Giles heard about a nest of Bregnath demons outside town. They’ll go into their killing stage very soon. I can’t take them on alone and I wondered if you wanted to come with. You know; hack and slash, have some fun.”

He nodded but she got the feeling that he wasn’t listening and that piqued her. Since when did she not get his full attention?

“Sorry, did I fade out there?” she asked, letting sarcasm drip from her voice like honeyed acid as she abandoned caution in favour of goading.

His eyes were grey in the soft light, as grey as a sky heavy with rain and his pale hair was like silvery wood ash, feathered over his head in soft curls instead of sleeked back as it normally was. With the colour leached from him, he seemed ghostlike and insubstantial. His eyes were flickering restlessly and when he finally looked in her direction she had the feeling that he was looking through her, not at her, still searching the room for something.

“I’ll help you,” he said abruptly. “When? Can’t do it tonight.

“That’s not a problem. Giles and Willow found a spell, some potion we can soak our weapons in overnight. Those demons have skin like armour plating. This should let the knives slide right in. So while they marinade, we wait.”

“Tomorrow, then,” he said. “I’ll call by the shop at sunset. Now push off, there’s a good girl.”

Buffy stood still as one of the foundations of her world began to crumble. Spike was telling her to go? No, it just didn’t work like that. He stuck close, stalked her and bothered her. That was normal. He didn’t try to get rid of her, especially when he could have got in a few good digs about a Slayer who needed help fighting. She felt cheated out of an argument she hadn’t known she was anticipating. Who said he could change the rules?

“What’s the deal with you?” she demanded. “You’re like –” Her brain cast about for inspiration and the dull greyness in front of her combined with a childhood memory to produce the perfect analogy. “Eeyore. But with fangs.”  

His face darkened. “Oh, for God’s sake! Save it and get out. I’ve said I’ll help you, so why are you still here? Oh, wait. I know. You haven’t hit me. So get on with it.”

He slammed the bottle down on the table and took two strides towards her, thrusting his face at her, waiting for a blow. She stepped back and he followed her, his eyes impatient and angry. Buffy raised a hand and then let it drop. “This is too weird, even for you,” she said. “Spike, are you in trouble?”

She had a full hand of grudges against Spike but mixed in with the distaste, distrust and derision that he evoked in her was an element of possessiveness. He had declared himself in love with her. She didn’t want that love and her rejection of it had been as comprehensive as she could make it, but still... if anyone were to make Spike unhappy, it was going to be her.

Her mild sympathy seemed to disconcert him and he floundered for a moment before shaking his head. “I’m fine.” He saw her eyebrows rise at this blatant lie and gave in. “I’m not fine. I’m waiting for something bad to happen but it’ll be over soon. There’s nothing you can do, so for the last time, will you go away.” He paused, and added quietly, “Please.”

“You have never, ever said ‘please’ to me,” Buffy said flatly, arms folded across her chest. “Whatever it is that’s bugging you, I want to know. Now.”

“You don’t give a rat’s arse if I’m feeling miserable. You’re just nosy.”

Feeling slightly guilty, Buffy backed down. “Maybe you’re right,” she said softly. “Forget it, then. But, Spike? Snap out of it before tomorrow. I don’t want you fighting by me with an attitude like this. It could get you killed.”

“Like you’d care,” he said, a sneer twisting his lips.

She considered this for a moment and then turned away. “No, I wouldn’t.” She took a step and said without looking back, “Dawn might miss you though.”

“Slayer –” His voice was defeated and she smiled fleetingly. “Oh, fine, I’ll tell you.”

Giving him a perky grin, she walked back to him. “Spill it, then and don’t expect me to provide a shoulder to cry on. And I’m fresh out of Kleenex too.”

He went to sit on the tomb in the centre of the room, giving her a sardonic smile in reply to her needling. Buffy leaned against the rough stone, looking up at him curiously.

“You know what today is?” he asked, continuing before she had chance to chime in with the details. “It’s the anniversary of my first kill.” Buffy’s lip curled at this admission and she wondered if she should have just left Spike to wallow in what she assumed was nostalgia for the good old days. “Dru had turned me, I’d pulled my way out of my grave and I was hungry. You can’t imagine how that felt.”

“I’d rather not,” she interrupted. “If this is going to get gruesome, I’m off.”

Ignoring her words, he carried on, choosing his words carefully, savouring them. “Hungry for something I’d died tasting. Blood. If I ran my tongue over my teeth, I could still taste Dru’s blood in my mouth, a hundred different flavours from a hundred severed lives. I could almost hear their voices.”

“You are seriously disturbing me, you know,” Buffy said, watching his eyes grow distant as the memories dragged him back.

“So we went hunting. Didn’t take long to find someone. London was busy in the evenings and this was perfect timing. The respectable people were all at home and the streets were full of the lost, the lonely, the ones who wouldn’t be missed. We do care about that, you know. Mobs aren’t a pretty sight. Dru spotted a mark and went into her act, distracting her, pulling her away from the crowd, luring her somewhere quiet.

“And there I was. Waiting like a good dog, my tongue hanging out. I could smell it all on her, the worry, the fear, the curiosity. I wanted to taste it too.”

“Enough!” said Buffy, her voice tight. She knew what was coming; she’d seen the whole play and what happened after the curtain call too many times to hope for a happy ending.

“It’s never enough, pet,” said Spike. “I’m sorry; I quite thought you were keen to hear this story? My apologies for boring you.”

Buffy turned and started to walk to the door.

“Lady’s impatient?” he asked, his voice silky and low. “And I can see she’s not the only one.”

Buffy paused, frowning. “What do you –?”

“Shush. Mustn’t speak out of turn. Where was I?”

“Half way past insanity,” Buffy muttered peevishly, her hand fingering the stake in her pocket as she debated leaving.

“Well, I killed her. There; quick enough for you? It’s not a surprise ending, I’ll give you that, but it was a revelation to me. Should I tell you that I loved her even as I drained her? Would you believe that in those few moments, I knew her as no one else ever had or ever would? I wonder.”

“Spike, is there a point to this, or I swear I’ll put us both out of our misery and stake you.”

He raised his eyebrows and gestured at the shadows behind her. “Ask her that. Maybe she’ll tell you. She’s never told me.”

Buffy felt every hair on the back of her neck stand up. It wasn’t a cliché, she thought with a detached part of her mind, a part that wasn’t screaming silently in atavistic terror. It really does stand on end.

It was the Slayer who spun, stake at the ready, to face the threat that she knew, beyond all hope, was standing behind her. It was Buffy whose face crumpled with pity as she saw what that threat was.

A young woman, pale and pretty, formed from candlelight and darkness, her neck bearing the marks of the vampire, her hands full of the flowers she had been selling, limp and decayed. Buffy knew the smell of dead flowers, breathed it in as she patrolled the graveyards of Sunnydale. It washed over her now and she gagged, feeling her throat close up with sudden nausea.

“’Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds,’” Spike quoted unexpectedly. “But I think you were selling bunches of violets, weren’t you, sweetheart?”

Buffy turned away from the pitiful ghost and looked at Spike with such a depth of hatred in her eyes that he flinched. “Why is she here?”

His lips thinned. “Ask her.”

“I’m asking you, not Eliza Doolittle, and I want an answer.”

He rolled his eyes and said impatiently, “She’s a bloody ghost, Slayer. She’s haunting me. Should have thought that was obvious. She was twenty whatever when I killed her and in the spirit of dramatic irony, every twenty odd years, she gets to come and make my life miserable for the night. Her name’s Marie by the way.” He got down from the tomb and walked to the table, picking up the whisky bottle again and taking a long drink before returning to his perch.

The ghost was drifting towards them, slowly, remorselessly, and Buffy found herself edging away towards the door. To her dismay, she found that it was locked. After tugging at it in vain, she went back to stand by Spike. This night just couldn’t get weirder. She was going to Spike for comfort as the lesser of two evils. His hand dropped to her shoulder and squeezed it. He seemed resigned to whatever was going to happen, as if he knew that there was nowhere to hide.

“It’s all right, Slayer. When she takes me, try and sneak out. The door should unlock then.”

She twisted her head to look up at him, shrugging off his hand. “Takes you where?”

“She takes me back to that night to live it over. Just my mind goes, I think. Can’t be sure; I’ve never had company before.”

Buffy frowned. “I can see how that would bother Angel,” she said, “and I suppose it’s going to be a taste of what you can’t have now you’ve got the chip, but other than that, what’s the big deal?”

Spike smiled slowly. “Didn’t say I got to see it through my eyes, did I?”

Buffy worked this out and then said bluntly, “Well, if you get to feel what she did, serves you right. But you’re still evil, right? Still no conscience, no regret, so what’s the point of it all?”

“Maybe there doesn’t need to be a point,” he said. “You seem to think she’s still the innocent victim. Look at her again; is that someone you’d want to meet in a dark alley?”

Buffy turned and cried out, the sound torn from her throat. The ghost was inches away, peering curiously at her. Spike’s arm wrapped around her, pulling her up beside him, holding her protectively. The ghost’s eyes widened at this and a malevolent look contorted her features, stripping away the superficial prettiness. Buffy had seen demons with more humanity in their eyes.

“She wants revenge,” she whispered. The ghost didn’t answer but her eyes seemed to widen with agreement as she reached out for Buffy. Spike cried out and lunged in front of the Slayer, trying to shield her.
Marie laid her hand against his face and his body jerked once before slumping down on the stone tomb, his eyes wide and empty.

“What have you done to him?” Buffy said, anger lending her strength. “Why do you keep on doing this; what, four, five times has it been? Move on! I know what he did was terrible but he can’t do it anymore, I promise. I can see how tormenting him seems right but it isn’t. Not really.”

The sight of Spike’s body, still twitching slightly, had made her allegiance shift. Spike was a killer but this staged, scheduled punishment revolted her.

“How long will this take?” she demanded. The ghost regarded her silently. Buffy swallowed. “What will it take for you to stop this?”

Marie’s lips peeled back in a hideous grin, exposing rotting teeth. Before Buffy could scramble away, the ghost’s hand whipped out and brushed her cheek with a touch that stung like nettles. Buffy fell forward, grazing her face on the stone of the tomb. Her arm came to rest across Spike’s back and the darkness engulfed her.

*****


All that was Buffy was peeled free of her body. She clung desperately to the known, the familiar, but it was taken from her as inexorably as a mother removes a stolen toy from a child’s fingers. When the last link was broken there was a jarring sensation, like stepping off a moving stairway. The entity that had Buffy’s memories and sense of self was flung towards three sparks of light, burning harshly in the darkness.

Three sparks. Spike, Drusilla and Marie? She had no opportunity to choose and no way of distinguishing between the lights. One engulfed her and she was instantly clothed in skin and bone, flesh burdened once more.

Her first thought was to find out who she was. She bent her head to see what she was wearing. A gown of deep plum coloured velvet swirled around her, sweeping the ground. The unfamiliar weight of a bonnet pressed against her head and she felt a hairpin dig into her as her head moved. Reaching up, she tried to adjust the cumbersome hat and only succeeded in driving the pin deeper.

“Can I help you, Miss?” asked a soft voice.

Buffy looked into Marie’s light blue eyes and sighed. Drusilla. She was inside the mind of a madwoman. But where had Drusilla’s spirit gone? And why hadn’t she been brought back over the years as Spike was? She was just as responsible for Marie’s death. Too many questions and no one here who could answer them.

Buffy glanced around. She was on a city street, standing outside a darkened shop window. Carriages went past on the cobbled streets but they were taking people home to bed she sensed. It felt late. The air was cool and slightly damp, rich with unfamiliar smells, lacking others that Buffy had come to expect. It struck her that in olden times, the earth was younger which seemed wrong somehow. She was in the world that her great great grandmother would have known and it wasn’t sepia coloured or faded. In fact – Buffy looked around her with a sense of panic. The street was lit by gaslights but it wasn’t light enough to let her see as well as she was doing. She was in a vampire’s body and the night wasn’t dark to her any more.

It was too much to deal with. Flashing an apologetic smile at Marie, Buffy turned away. She had to find somewhere to sit, to think, just for a minute. Every passing moment brought a new discovery and the cumulative effect was making her feel breathless. Breathless. Oh, God. She wasn’t breathing. She still could and it felt natural to try, but she didn’t need to. Her heart lay dead within her and at a time when it should have been hammering, sending the blood racing around her body in a panicked flood, it was silent. She glided along, outwardly serene and calm.

She was taller in this body and the ground was too far away. Drusilla was strong but it wasn’t an earned strength. Buffy was used to a trained, honed body and she was inside one that was all feminine grace and soft curves. How shocked were her victims when Drusilla bent them like twigs, snapping bones into splinters with those long white fingers?

She could see into the deepest shadows and she realised that there was no hiding place for a vampire’s victim in the friendly dark. She wondered how many people had thought themselves safe as they huddled, eyes wide, frozen into terrified immobility, their breath whispering through dry lips? And the vampire would pretend not to see them, playing the game, spinning it out as long as possible until boredom – not mercy, never that – brought the fun to an end.

Victorian London had probably smelled ripe for all sorts of unpleasant reasons, but somehow Buffy knew that she was getting the deluxe scent package. She had taken twenty, thirty steps and she could still smell the violets that Marie was selling from a tray hung around her neck.

Buffy stopped dead. The smell of the violets was getting stronger, not fading. She turned to see Marie following her, ducking in between the thinning crowd of pedestrians.

Buffy frowned. Marie might be just going home; the flowers she had left were dying and few people would want flowers at this time of night, but Drusilla’s instincts, combined with her own, made this seem unlikely.

An opening on her right led to an alley way and Buffy turned into it, wrinkling her nose with disgust as she slipped on something slimy and foul smelling. She walked until the light from the street failed to make any difference and stood, facing back the way she had come, waiting.

Arms slid around her waist and a cool cheek was pressed against hers. “Is she coming? Did you bring her?” asked Spike.

Shock rippled through her and she reacted as she would have done any time Spike did something so intimate. Her elbow thrust back into his stomach and as he doubled over, his arms dropping away, she stepped forward, spun round and punched him. He fell over, more because he was still not at home in his newly risen body than because of the blow. Buffy looked down at him and marveled at the difference. This younger Spike had soft curls; light brown and clustered over a face that was still strangely innocent and vulnerable despite the demon within. She reached out to help him up, seeing him cringe away from her and feeling a pang of regret. She was looking at a Spike who – so far- hadn’t killed and it changed her perception of him.

“Why did you do that?” he said.

“You startled me,” she answered honestly.

The sulky fear vanished and he jumped up, babbling apologies, patting her arm gingerly. “I say, I never thought! Coming up behind you like that; of course you were frightened! So sorry.”

Buffy felt that she had enough to deal with without this inane chatter. “Spike, shut up.”

He frowned. “Why are you calling me that? And you sound different. Your voice is - ”

Buffy waved an impatient hand. “Just stay still, uh, William. I’m thinking.” Murmuring out loud she continued, “Three of us. Me, Spike, Marie. I’m in Dru, this is William, not Spike... it’s not working out. Someone’s missing.”

“Drusilla, I don’t understand. I thought you were going to – oh, right. You did bring her.”

He beamed happily and Buffy turned to see Marie walking towards them, still carrying the flowers. William was vibrating with the urge to feed; she could feel it coming off him in scarlet waves, the hunger, the terrible anticipation, and knew without looking that his face had changed in preparation for his first kill. Her hand went out to grip his sleeve. “Wait,” she said softly.

Marie paused, looking at them both, peering into the darkness. “The lady went without her flowers. I’m an honest girl, nobody can’t say different. You paid for two bunches; don’t you want them?”

Buffy pulled William behind her, hissing, “Change back!” into his ear as she did so. Smiling reassuringly, she walked towards Marie. “Thank you,” she said. “I was in a hurry. It’s fine; you can keep the money.”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that, Miss!” Marie protested. “Please come and choose some flowers. They’ll look so pretty against your coat.”

Buffy sighed and went to her, glancing down at the neatly tied bunches of flowers. She reached out to pick up two and when her hands were full of damp greenery, Marie swung the tray aside and plunged a knife into her stomach, pulling it out with a vicious twist.

The world exploded into pain and anger and Buffy felt Drusilla roar to life inside her head as the thick, new penny scent of fresh blood soaked the air. Drusilla hadn’t gone anywhere after all. She had just been waiting.

The body remembers, if the mind forgets, and now Drusilla was in control. Buffy felt her features shift and realign and choked as her mouth was suddenly full of sharp fangs. William was beside her, drawn by the blood and the instinctive drive to protect his lady. Marie staggered back, the knife clattering to the ground, eyes wide, mouth gaping open, gathering herself to scream as a hurt baby will, with a heart stopping moment of silence before the crying begins.

Marie’s silence never ended. They took her together, Drusilla baring the grubby neck for William to pierce and then moving behind Marie to bite the other side of her neck. Marie swayed between them, her mouth working as the screams rose and died in her ravaged throat. Her fear hastened her end, sending the blood spurting into the eager mouths of her killers. They drained her and released her to fall amongst the filth that carpeted the alley, stepping over her as they embraced, arms clawing eagerly, lips greedy for kisses.

Buffy was in hell. Drusilla was controlling the body they shared but Buffy was still experiencing everything as if it were happening to her. It was her teeth that had torn Marie’s throat, her stomach that had been slashed by the knife. She could taste Marie’s blood, thick and rich – no, disgusting and vile – and she felt her senses sharpen as the world around her seemed to brighten and her body flushed with stolen warmth. Her own reactions were being swamped by Drusilla’s and she was confused and scared.

William’s kisses added to her confusion. She had kissed Spike before, under the thrall of Willow’s spell. She knew his lips, had punched them many times since that day, trying to wipe away the memory of the kisses with every blow that landed on that sinfully skilled, arrogant mouth. Now he was kissing Drusilla eagerly, clumsily and with a wrench of pity, she realised how inexperienced he was. Drusilla didn’t seem to mind. Murmuring encouragement, she was guiding William’s hands and lips, touching him with soft, fluttering caresses of her own, drawing gasps of pleasure from those no longer innocent, blood stained lips.

As Drusilla’s arousal grew, Buffy was torn between revulsion and desire and wasn’t sure how much of the desire was Drusilla’s. The clothing Drusilla wore wasn’t designed to be easily removed. Many layers of petticoats and a tightly buttoned bodice hampered William’s efforts to reach her flesh. Drusilla pushed away his frantic hands and laid one gloved finger against his lips to quiet him.

As she sank to her knees and began to unbutton William’s trousers, Buffy’s control snapped and she began to fight to get free. Too much. Just too much. Drusilla hesitated for a moment as though she could sense Buffy struggling, before her fingers continued their work, finding William’s eager flesh, expertly squeezing and stroking as he threw his head back, his hands gripping her shoulders, his hips thrusting forward. She leaned in to take him in her mouth and Buffy gathered all her will to strike out and regain control.

Drusilla pulled her mouth, sticky with blood, away from William’s body and hissed, her hands flying to her head. “Someone in here,” she said, swaying back and forth and she got to her feet. “Someone talking to me. Someone who doesn’t belong.”

Buffy knew that Drusilla was mad and she knew who had made her that way. She also knew that insanity had only strengthened her natural psychic gifts. After Kendra’s death, Giles had done research and uncovered a chilling list of Drusilla’s powers and how she had used them. Buffy didn’t think the vampire would have much difficulty in dealing with an unwelcome mental visitor. As William watched, frustration warring with concern as he refastened his trousers, Dru paced around, the heels of her hands digging into her temples. “Get out, get out,” she chanted. “Not meant to be in here. No room. You’re crowding me!” Her voice rose to a scream and Buffy felt herself being thrust out of her temporary home, expelled by an enraged Drusilla.

Drusilla raised her head, looking around her with a smile, eyes glittering. “All gone,” she announced. “Nasty little thing.”

William smiled back doubtfully and then doubled over in pain.

Buffy had found a new home.

Buffy hadn’t wanted to merge with William but she had no choice. She had felt herself begin to fade and fray as she hung bodiless and had realised that she could not survive without a body. Drusilla’s was closed to her; Marie’s repelled her and that just left one. Now she was getting angry. This wasn’t making any sense. Where was Spike? Wasn’t this whole scenario for his benefit? The taste and smell of William’s flesh abruptly left her mouth as she switched bodies, but it was burned into her memory making it difficult to concentrate.

She couldn’t sense William but then she hadn’t been able to tell that Drusilla was lurking either. She didn’t look forward to explaining to Drusilla that a Slayer from the future was inside her newly sired toy’s head but she had to try.

Drusilla was coming towards her and Buffy stepped back, distantly aware and grateful that William’s arousal was receding rapidly. She couldn’t bear the thought of Drusilla touching her. A movement caught her eye and she automatically glanced around. Marie’s body was getting up, with jerky, awkward movements. The tray was pulled off and thrown aside and the corpse stood, resting a hand on the alley wall for support.

William had found a new home too, Buffy thought. Then words were forced out of the stiffening lips and she changed her mind.

“Slayer, where the hell are you?”

Spike had finally arrived.

*****



Drusilla frowned, her lips pouting angrily. “Don’t understand! What’s the matter with everyone tonight? I don’t like it.”

Spike swung around to look at her. “Oh, God, Dru. It’s me, Spike.”

Buffy sighed and raised a hand. “Spike, I’m here. I was in Drusilla, now I’m in you. It’s not a happy feeling. Mind telling me how these adventures usually end?”

Drusilla looked between them and began to keen in confusion. Buffy winced and considered hitting her as a way of stopping the irritating noise. Only the knowledge that knocking a vampire out was difficult stopped her from trying. She settled for reasoning with her.

“Drusilla, can you calm down and listen? There’s something we have to tell you.”

Drusilla was rocking back and forth, her hands covering her eyes. Now she paused and peeked out from behind her fingers. “A story? I like stories. Will there be singing?”

“No, there bloody well won’t be!” said Spike.

It took a while to tell Drusilla what had happened but once she had been reassured that she was still alive in the future and that Spike still loved her – there had been a mutual censoring of certain facts by Buffy and Spike – she began to smile again and wandered off to sit on a door step and sing softly to herself.

Buffy and Spike were left alone. She looked at him, trapped in the dead body of the flower seller, and shook her head. “How are you managing to move?” she asked.

“It’s not like it’s a new sensation, being dead,” he pointed out, “but it’s not easy. I don’t think I can pull the strings much longer. I’m losing the feeling in my hands.”

Buffy frowned. “It’s been like musical chairs,” she complained. “William must still be in here with me but I can’t feel him at all.”

Spike cocked his head to one side and Buffy shivered. She was used to seeing him do that and if she were honest, he could look quite appealing when he did it. Watching Marie’s head flop stiffly gave her chills.

“He’s with me,” Spike discovered, his eyes half shut. “Can’t tell you how I know but I can feel him. Poor bugger’s terrified. It didn’t happen like this before, you know. He and Dru were in their own bodies and they stayed there. Never knew I was involved at all and something stopped me telling them.”

“I was wondering about that,” said Buffy. “So how did it go down the first time?”

“First time and all the times, it’s been the same,” he said, his words slurring slightly. “Dru took her into this alley, shoved her towards me and I bit her. I got to live it from her point of view after that, from the moment she walked into the alley, but I couldn’t change anything. I tried to run, tried to fight back but I couldn’t. It was painful but if I’m honest, it wasn’t that bad.” His lips curled in a grin. “Though my technique could use some work. Still, for a first time, I didn’t do badly. Got a kick out of it feeling it from both ends, if you know what I mean.”

Buffy pulled a face. “Just when I think you can’t get any worse, you prove me wrong.”

“Don’t give me that. You’ve been bitten yourself. You know what it feels like. We both do. When Dru turned me it was the most fun I’d ever had.” He looked at Buffy and sighed. “God, I need a hair cut. Seeing me do a Bubbles impersonation is the real torture.”

Buffy glared at him, refusing to let her mind dwell on the truth behind his words. Sometimes she dreamed of the time Angel had fed from her, his body hard against hers, the pain of the wound forgotten as waves of pleasure, primal and darkly pure, ripped through her body, leaving her craving more of a joining that made their night as lovers seem tame. When she woke it was with a restless yearning that stayed with her for hours as her body sought a release that her fingers couldn’t provide.

Now, thanks to Marie, she knew how it felt to be doing the biting as well. Drusilla had been ecstatic, drunk on the power the blood gave her, the snuffing out of a life. Buffy would have distanced herself from the emotions her host was experiencing but they resonated within her, sparking memories of the exultation she sometimes felt when she was slaying. Dru’s thoughts were like a kaleidoscope, composed of scattered fragments, coalescing briefly into coherence before falling back into random shards. When Buffy killed it was different; there was a sense of a completed pattern, the last piece of a puzzle, a line drawn neatly. The Slayer restored order from the chaos. Finding out that her reward was the same buzz the vampires felt was disconcerting. Forcing aside her disquiet she returned to the attack.

“So you were getting drunk to dull the pain of seeing yourself having a bad hair day? I don’t think so. Keep talking. You get bitten, you die and you wake up back wherever you were?”

“Eventually.”

“Huh? You’re dead; what else can happen?”

He laughed, or tried to. “If you haven’t grasped by now that death isn’t the end of the line, maybe Giles should give you a refresher course.”

Buffy flushed. “Fine, but Marie didn’t get turned.”

Spike slid down the wall as if his legs couldn’t support him any longer, leaning back against it wearily. “I get to be dead, I get to be buried. I go home after the burial’s over. Something to look forward to that; the sound of the earth hitting the coffin lid.”

Buffy gasped. “You stay awake; I mean you know what’s happening the whole time?”

He nodded, not meeting her eye. “Three days. She’s put in an open coffin in her house, lots of visitors and the like. I get to hear her mum and assorted aunties weeping and wailing. Then a nice ride in a posh carriage, black plumes on the horses, the lot. That means the family eats bread and drinks water for a week to pay for it, but appearances are everything. Then it’s off to the churchyard.” He shivered. “That’s the worst, if you really want to know. Being trapped inside dead flesh, wondering if this time I’ll stay in that grave, no release until the skin rots away and the bones crumble. It’s long enough between times that I forget – then she comes for me again and -” His voice trailed off and he looked away, as if ashamed of revealing his fears.

Buffy shivered with him, trying not to think about the images his words created in her head, feeling reluctant sympathy. No wonder he’d been in such a state when she arrived. “But this time was different. She followed me and she tried to kill me. That’s new. It wasn’t you doing it?”

Spike shook his head. “Why would I try to off Dru?” he asked.

“Because she’s an insane mass murderer who’d just ruined your life?” said Buffy, unable to help herself.

“That’s one way of looking at it,” Spike said dryly. “Course, I’d say she saved me from a life of mediocrity and made a man out of me.”

Buffy opened her mouth to argue and then changed her mind. “Enough. We have to work this out. Do you think Marie really was a murderer? She can’t have made much money selling flowers. Maybe this was a set up, maybe she’s done it before.”

“Could explain why she’s a ghost,” Spike said, considering this idea. “Huh. If she was, I don’t see how she’s got the nerve to come and bother me. I never killed anyone on purpose when I was a human.”

“Made up for it since, though.”

Drusilla left her seat, moved over to join them and looked down at Spike, contempt on her face. When she spoke it was without her usual rambling. In fact, it was admirably concise, but Buffy wasn’t glad of the cause. Lost in her dreams, Drusilla had allowed Marie to slip inside her head.

“This time, you’ll die for good. Both of you,” said Marie. Lashing out, she kicked Spike viciously in the face. The head jerked back and the body lay still.

Marie turned to Buffy. “Thank you,” she said mockingly. “Couldn’t have done it without you. I needed someone else to change the balance, confuse things a bit, and he was always alone when I came for him. He suffered a little but I wanted more.” She smiled, her fingers stroking the soft velvet of Drusilla’s gown lovingly. “I never managed to get both of them in the same body at the same time and so he kept escaping back to where he belonged. But he can’t do that now. The one you call William is holding him here, doesn’t want to move away from his own body. They’re linked. Now they’re trapped inside the corpse they made. I’d call that justice wouldn’t you?”

Buffy looked at her and rolled her eyes, unimpressed by Marie’s reasoning. “No. I’d call that revenge and I’d call it evil. You’re not doing this to save the people he’s going to kill in the future. I don’t get the impression that means much to you. You’re doing it out of malice because he killed you and hey, I can see that. But it’s not that long ago you were sticking a knife into me. Going to tell me it was self defence?”

“Hardly. Girl’s got to live, don’t she? Few rich toffs lose their purse or their wallet; they can spare it. The knife isn’t meant to kill them, just scare them.”

Buffy shook her head. “That doesn’t make any sense. You leave them alive, they go to the police and you’d have been dangling on the end of a rope pretty fast. Rich people don’t like being threatened no matter what time we’re in. You’re a killer too but you have less excuse than he does. You’re human.”

Marie laughed. “No fooling you, is there? And I’m not human now. I’m dead, remember. I’m going to hell, no doubt about it. But I’m not going until I pay him back.”

“So what about me? How do I get back?” Buffy tried to sound casual as she asked but her voice quivered a little. She was suddenly very aware of how far she was from home. Sunnydale had never looked so good.

Marie looked unconcerned. “Oh, I don’t think you do. Be a lesson to you to be choosier about your friends.”

“He’s not my -!”

Marie wasn’t listening. “I can get back though and as your body’s there with no one in it, well, it’s a shame to waste it. Maybe I’ll stay around a bit longer.”

Outrage swept through Buffy, dousing fear and kindling anger. “You know, I’ve had just about enough of this,” she said. “Drusilla, get your skinny ass out front and boot this bitch out of your head. She’s trying to kill William and you really don’t want that to happen. You’re going to have a lot of fun together. In your own kinky way.”

Marie’s eyes widened at this and her head turned sharply as though a voice was whispering in her ear. “What are you doing?” she asked, her voice uncertain now. “No, don’t! You’re hurting me!”

Buffy stepped back and watched the figure in front of her begin to shake as Drusilla and Marie fought for control of the vampire’s body. “My money’s on Dru,” she muttered, and knelt down beside Spike. He was unconscious and she began to shake him, calling out his name – both of them – and slapping his face gently.

A hand fell on her shoulder. “That’s not the way,” said Drusilla. “Naughty girl’s all quiet now but she’s trying to get out and make mischief. We need to wake my William quickly. We have to go in and get him out, put him back where he belongs.”

“For possibly the only time in my life, I agree with you,” said Buffy. Dru’s cool hand slid into hers and she tilted Buffy’s face up so that their eyes met. “Now,” said Drusilla. There was a pause and she added, “Stop struggling.”

Buffy made an effort and relaxed, grimacing as she felt softly clinging tendrils embrace her spirit, tugging insistently. Drusilla was like dark honey made from funeral flowers, sticky and sweet, with a cloying aftertaste. Buffy was sickened by the contact with a mind so devoid of humanity. Drusilla was alien in a way that Spike was not, lacking any capacity to see humans – any humans- as more than prey. Spike’s list of exceptions might have been short but Buffy was fairly sure that he had one. Until the chip stopped working, at least.

The bonds that held self to body were weakened by Marie’s interference. Buffy felt herself slide free of William’s body quite easily. This time she didn’t begin to fade and she realised that Drusilla was anchoring her in some way, protecting her. The vampire’s dark eyes were blazing as she reached out to touch the corpse, murmuring softly. The body jerked once and then began to crumble into dust, as a vampire’s would. Puzzled, Buffy looked at William’s body and saw it move and sit up. Drusilla turned to him, cradling him in her arms. Buffy sensed another presence and guessed that Spike was nearby.

Drusilla spoke, her voice tired and cross. “I put naughty girl back where she belonged. She’s gone now. I took it all, all her power. She didn’t deserve it. You two should go to where you belong. This isn’t right. The earth is crying out. It doesn’t like silly tricks. It’s going to get angry with you.”

She glared at them. “Go.”

*****


Buffy opened her eyes. She was lying across the tomb, her face sore, her arm flung over Spike. He stirred and she hastily moved her arm and sat up. He rolled over and lay on his back, looking up at the roof of the crypt. There was a reflective moment of silence and then Spike said, “Don’t happen to notice a bottle anywhere within reach do you?”

Buffy turned her head and saw it on the table. Moving stiffly, she got down from the tomb, walked over to it and raised it to her lips without bothering to wipe the neck clean.

“Hey!” said Spike. “You could ask first.”

Buffy slammed the bottle down and stalked over to him. “I have just spent the most hellish hour of my life, getting to see life through the eyes of two vampires and getting threatened by a vindictive ghost. I’ve tasted blood and I’ve been in your body when you had a hard on for Dru and in hers when she – never mind. I plan to go home, throw up, shower and brush my teeth and I’ll probably keep on repeating those steps all night. Then I’ll give up and get Willow to do a spell to wipe this from my mind because I swear to God, I will never feel clean again.”

“Fine, keep the bloody bottle!”

Buffy picked it up and raised her arm, preparing to throw it as hard as she could against the wall. Spike watched her silently. She paused, lowered the bottle to her side, took one more swallow and then walked to Spike. “Here,” she said, not looking at him, forcing away the memories that surged up as she got close to him. “It can’t have been much fun for you either, I suppose.”

He looked at her in surprise and ducked his head. “No. I was dying in there. It felt – I was scared. Both of me was. I know you only let Dru in because you had no other way of getting home, but thanks. I owe you one.”

Buffy shook her head, meeting his eyes for the first time, her gaze dropping to his mouth, remembering, wondering... “It wasn’t just that. What that ghost was doing was wrong. I don’t know why she was allowed to, either. Why did she have the power to do that?”

Spike took a long drink before answering. “Probably appealed to someone’s sense of humour,” he said.

“And what happens now? Has the past been changed? Dru didn’t remember all that did she? Do you? Did you? God, this is confusing!”

“I don’t think it happened,” Spike said. “I think it was all in our heads. The past is as it always was. Nothing’s changed. I know my first kill was a murderer, not a sweet little flower seller, but so what? I’d have still killed her no matter what she was. Makes no difference.” He looked at her, his face unreadable. “Evil, see?”

Buffy looked at him. I saw you as you were, she wanted to say. I felt the hunger, I tasted the blood. I watched you truly die and become what you are and I couldn’t stop it. Everything’s changed. Everything. And I can’t forget any of it.

“No. It makes no difference. See you tomorrow.” She paused, her hand on the door and looked back at him. “Spike –”

“Yes, Slayer?”

“I still taste of her.” Her voice was desolate, lost.

He stood up and began to walk to her but she raised a hand, warding him off. Helpless, he watched the tears fill her eyes and spill down her cheeks until his control snapped. He was at her side in one blur of movement, his hand cupping her chin as his mouth took hers, his tongue forcing its way past her lips. Shock kept her still but even as she began to push him away, he straightened, smiling down into eyes that were alive with anger.

“Trust me, you don’t.”

He expected her to hit him but she didn’t. Instead she whispered in a voice so low he had to lean close to catch the words. “You don’t kill just for the food, do you?”

He was slow to answer but the words were dragged out of him. “No. We kill for pleasure. You know that.”

“You miss it.”

“Always. You know that too.”

She nodded slowly. “Now I do.”


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