Talk to Me
Buffy pushed open the door to Spike's crypt and walked in, confident of
a welcome. "Knock, knock," she called out chirpily.
"Be nice if you ever did, yes," retorted Spike from the depths of his
favourite, or more accurately, only armchair. "Suppose vampires aren't
entitled to any privacy, or consideration or - "
"Spike. Shut up," interrupted Buffy. "I don't imagine for one minute
that you knocked when you used to break in to my house to steal stuff
and sniff sweaters - yes, Riley did tell me about that so don't
and deny it."
Spike's attempt at the moral high ground having failed miserably he
gestured at the fridge and said, "Help yourself to a drink. Mind you
lay off the red stuff though; supply's running low and it's not like I
can just pop out and pick myself a likely looking donor any more." He
sighed heavily and took a long drink from a bottle of beer.
Buffy stopped herself from automatically chiding him for referring to
his former eating habits and frowned instead. Walking over to his chair
she perched on the arm and stared at Spike for a second. When he
refused to turn his head or even acknowledge her she felt a mixture of
chagrin and curiosity. "So, what's up with you tonight?" she ventured.
"You're usually -"
Her voice trailed off as she thought about what she had been about to
say, which was, 'happy to see me'. What she really meant was that Spike
was usually just simply happy with life. Unlike her friends he had an
uncomplicated attitude towards it, a zest for living despite leaving
that state some time back.
In the 'reasons to be melancholy' column though, Spike was restrained
from normal behaviour for a vampire, cut off from his own kind because
killing them was the only outlet for his violence, living in conditions
that were a far cry from luxurious and once, now, and forever more,
love's bitch with the scars to prove it. Not to mention still
recovering from a summer of mourning her.
Buffy looked closely at Spike and realised the truth. He was a mess.
"Poor Spike!" she thought, feeling quite sorry for him and enjoying the
Thinking about someone else's problems came hard to Buffy at the best
of times. Her own always seemed to dwarf theirs into insignificance and
since she'd come back from the dead, wrenched out of heaven, well, it
was going to be hard for anyone to top that in the sympathy
But Spike had been there for her so many times since then. She'd come
to rely on him, to trust him and, to be honest, to use him. Guilt and
pity struggled to overcome Buffy's self-absorption and were given a
boost when she glanced down at the hand that held the beer bottle. The
knuckles were bruised and bloody, the wounds still fresh and open.
"Spike - your hand! What happened?"
Spike didn't even glance down, simply continued to stare at the wall.
"Did someone attack you? Are you hurt? Because if they did anything,
Buffy stopped again, surprised at the flood of protective anger that
had swept over her.
Spike finally turned his head to look up at her with a faint spark of
curiosity and wistfulness in his eyes.
"Did it myself, Slayer. No need to go looking for someone to hurt.
Unless you're in that kind of mood, in which case, on your merry way.
Wouldn't want to stand in between you and a good punch up."
"You don't do that kind of damage by accident, Spike. What happened,
did the wall say something you didn't like?"
"Buffy, I'm really not in the mood, OK? Just push off and leave me be."
"Isn't that my line?" said Buffy, needling him partly out of habit,
partly to stop him slipping back into an apathy which bothered her for
Spike growled in his throat, making Buffy jump. She had to make a
conscious effort to stay sitting so close to him and fear, no matter
how fleeting or mild is something that a vampire picks up on instantly.
Spike leaned forward casually, placed his empty bottle on the floor,
sat back and in a swift move, swept Buffy from the arm of his chair
onto his knee. Holding her steady with an arm around her shoulders, he
gripped her face and turned it towards his.
"Are you scared, Buffy?" he whispered. "Can you tell that chip or not,
tonight the demon is awake?"
He triggered the internal change into game face and waited for Buffy to
flinch, struggle or try to stake him. She was the Slayer, she would
have a stake on her somewhere, he was sure of that. Counting on it,
even. Instead she reached up and pushed his hand away but remained
close and continued to look at him.
"I know what you are, Spike,” she said softly. "I've seen your other
face this close, when you wanted to kill me. I didn't back off then and
now... you saved my life not so long ago. How can you think I'd be
scared of you? Put the demon back to sleep and talk to me."
As she had once done with Angel, she reached to stroke his vampire
face, wanting to show him that it really didn't bother her.
Spike's face changed back just as Buffy's hand was about to touch his
"Don't touch me when I'm like that," he said. "That's not how I want
you to see me. You really should go. Tonight I can't deal with you, the
way I feel, the way you don't feel - not tonight."
"Nope, not going anywhere when you're like this. And stop being so
melodramatic. Tell me what's wrong; I've bitched to you often enough
when I've been down; it's your turn."
Spike stared at her in silence, waiting for the other shoe to drop, a
punch, a cutting quip as she headed for the door but instead she
wriggled off his knee, stood, gripped his hand and hauled him upright.
"Let's go and sit down somewhere a bit more comfortable," she
suggested, glancing round the crypt and taking in the lack of options.
Still slightly puzzled by her mood Spike tested the waters by gesturing
towards his bedroom downstairs. "We can go down there; the bed's a lot
softer than the tombs. To sit on, I mean, don't go getting all
aggressive and assuming I meant what I didn't mean and hitting me."
"I won't and I didn't. OK, after you."
Once settled on the bed, a safe distance apart, Buffy gave Spike an
expectant look. "Talk to me?" she said gently.
Spike gazed at her quizzically. "Want all the dirt, huh? Going to go
back and have a good laugh about me with your friends? Tell 'em how
Spike's lost his edge?"
"I wouldn't do that Spike," she protested, hurt at his mistrust.
Spike sighed again, resigned to the fact that Buffy wasn't going
anywhere until he'd spilled his emotional guts out for her to prod.
Women. They always wanted to talk. Not that he minded a bit of
sympathy for once but it was unbearably tantalising to have Buffy
within arms reach, on a bed, on his bed and for her to be all
feely but in the wrong way entirely.
"It's my birthday,” he said abruptly.
"And you're upset because everyone forgot? Spike, I'm sorry but we're
not mind readers; you have to drop a hint or something."
"Not exactly my birthday as much as the day I died and the demon was
born. Tonight is the anniversary of Dru turning me. Never bothered me
before, in fact, way back when, the four of us used to have quite a
celebration on our turning days. Never our real birthdays; they didn't
matter anymore. But now, it hurts to remember. Without the demon, I
would have died long before you were born, Buffy. I would never have
met you. But with the demon in me, you can never love me as I love you
and it's killing me all over again."
Silence fell. Spike had spoken looking down at his hands, locked
tightly together to stop them trembling. Now he raised his eyes,
prepared to see embarrassment, pity or anger in Buffy's face. Instead
he saw a look of fierce determination, a blazing resolve that only a
woman who had stopped the worst that Hell had to offer could muster.
"Spike," she said. "Supposing there was a way you could get your soul
back. You interested? Or are you just all talk?"
Time froze as her words echoed in Spike's head, setting off a chain
reaction of jumbled thoughts; "A soul? Me? Be all broody like Angel.
Would it change the way she sees me? Or would it still not make a
difference? Not to be a vampire, to be human, does she mean that? No! I
want to live forever, I want this sodding chip out, I want to be free
to kill or to choose not to by myself, I want...I want...just Buffy.
"If it meant I had a chance of getting you to love me, I would do
anything, Buffy" he said finally, his voice subtly different, more like
Giles, less of the assumed accent he'd chosen to use once he'd become a
Buffy studied his face. "Supposing I said I didn't think I could ever
love you; would you still want a soul?"
"Trick questions, huh?" said Spike with a return to his normal manner.
"Buffy, I'm evil. I have a demon in me who's fighting the very idea of
a soul moving in and taking his place. That I can even consider it is
amazing. Cut me some slack here. Your precious Angel never got given
the choice - well, he did second time round and you know what his
answer was; he killed the person offering it."
"There's no need to bring Angel into this!' snapped Buffy.
"There is if this is your way of getting a vampire lover who won't turn
into a killer once he gets inside your frilly knickers! I'm not a stand
in for anyone, Buffy. I won't be second best. I deserve more than
Buffy twisted round, slammed her feet to the floor and stood up.
"Second best? You're not even on the list! And what do you deserve
apart from a stake? You're a killer, that's all. A soulless killer
who...and I let you kiss me. I must have been mad. I feel sick."
Bitterness and regret flooded Spike as he looked up at her angry face,
all sympathy and friendship gone as if it had never existed.
Back to normal. Bloody Angel. Even when he wasn't around he spoiled
"Every time you kissed Angel, you kissed a killer, love," he said
quietly. "Not my fault if that spoils your memories of him as a gallant
hero. A soul doesn't make any of you good or evil. It just gives you
the chance to choose. Me, I don't get a chance. No vampire would go
after a soul willingly but I'm not a vampire anymore. Not exactly. I
can't kill my prey; I can't feed on their life, their blood. I eat dead
things. I'm a freak. And I'm in love with you. But if you want me with
a soul, fine. I’ll get one. Just for you.”
Spike's voice trailed off. Ever since he'd called Angel a killer, he'd
been talking to himself. Buffy had given him one look of pure rage and
stalked off, the crypt door slamming as he finished speaking. But it
didn't matter. Now he knew what he had to do, even if he didn't know
how to do it. But he knew a demon who did.
A smile flickered over his face. Life had just got a bit more
interesting and that was always a good thing.
Buffy reached the cemetery gates and stopped. Ahead were the lights of
Sunnydale; people living their lives blissfully unaware, or in some
cases deliberately blind to, the fact that they lived on a Hellmouth.
Behind her lay a place that was as familiar as her own garden and home
to a person who disturbed, confused, annoyed and excited her more than
anyone she'd ever met. Yet he only had to mention Angel to get her
close to hysterical. And Buffy knew why that was. Guilt. That word was
just tied up with Angel and now it had her in its grasp too. She was
guilty because the love she felt for Angel had faded to friendship and
their meeting after she had returned from death had done nothing to
rekindle the spark. She would always love the memory of loving him,
always cherish the time they spent together but it was gone and she was
sick of looking back at it.
So - should she go back to Spike and make up? An anticipatory shiver
went through her as she pictured where that could go. Sitting on that
bed with him and not reaching out to touch him had made her feel so
edgy that screaming at him and running out was a welcome release of
tension. Was she ready to start something with Spike? Was it fair when
he loved her and she just wanted to rip his clothes off and drag them
both into the hot darkness that was waiting for them every time they
The Powers That Be, ever interested in the Slayer's love life (Angel
having been their first gambit; darn that pesky curse!) might have
intervened if she had turned and gone back to Spike's crypt but there
was no need. Buffy put her hand up to her face and realised that she
was crying steadily as her body washed out the stress and tension the
best way it could. That settled it. Go and see Spike with panda bear
eyes from streaked mascara? Let Spike see that he'd made her cry? No
Buffy swiped a hand across her eyes, pulled out a stake from her
jacket, reached sideways, yanked a vampire out of the bushes, staked
him as he stumbled towards her and went home to shower off the dust
feeling much better. Spike could wait till tomorrow. He was good at
Spike was good at waiting - if he absolutely had to -, every
was, but that wasn't exactly what he had planned for the rest of the
night. With a cool determination that rapidly degenerated into
infuriated temper, he was searching his crypt for a small piece of
paper. When it eventually surfaced, the crypt was trashed but his
satisfied smile lit up the ruins.
He left without a backward glance, which was unfortunate, as he might
have noticed the tendrils of smoke curling from the cracks around the
door. His smile wasn't the only source of light in the crypt and one
floating piece of discarded paper had gently settled on top of a
Spike walked quickly towards the Magic Box, his coat swirling around
him, his face grimly determined. In his coat pocket was a piece of
paper with the directions for a summoning spell, one that would call
forth a Powers That Be wannabe who might be able to help him.
Especially if she'd been promoted since the last time he saw her.
Gradually though, his raking strides became a slow saunter and
eventually he stopped, took out a cigarette and lit up, leaning back
against a wall. The last hour or so, he had been on an emotional high,
racing towards a destination that Buffy had dangled in front of him
like the proverbial carrot in front of a donkey. Did he really want to
make an ass of himself?
There was also something nagging at his memory, something significant
that Buffy had said...yes, that was it. Spike mentally replayed that
moment when Buffy had leaned closer, her eyes glowing and said, "Spike.
Supposing there was a way you could get your soul back. You interested?
Or are you just all talk?"
So the question he should have asked was, "What way?" followed
closely by, "and just why do you care anyway?"
But, no, he'd had to annoy her by bringing up Angel and she'd stormed
off into the night. Not that that was anything unusual. Spike toyed
with a vision of Buffy coming close, kissing him gently but
passionately, then turning to leave, casting a sweetly roguish smile
over her shoulder and giving him a tiny finger wave as she went through
Giggling helplessly and feeling better than he had done for days, he
got a few yards closer to the Magic Box before stopping again,
wondering whether to go and find Buffy and ask for more details about
her plan to find him a soul. No point in him going to a lot of trouble
if she'd already done the hard work.
He might have remained mired in indecision until the sun came up and
made him the perfect accessory for his crypt (from the outside at
least, still standing but inside blazing away nicely) but higher powers
are not known for excessive patience when it comes to the lower orders.
"William!" a voice said imperiously. "Have you quite finished
dithering or am I to wait in this grubby little street forever?"
Spike did a swift spin and scan of surroundings but saw nothing. An
impatient sigh whispered past his ear and a figure materialised in
front of him. "Sally! I was just about to summon you," said Spike. "How
did you know? Did you lose weight by the way? You look smashing, love."
"Make that 'Saladril' or I start in with the 'Sweet William's'," she
replied, referring to a nickname he'd always hated. "And yes, I suppose
I did drop a few pounds, as I pined away, waiting for you to call me."
Her voice lost its edge and became plaintive but Spike simply quirked
an eyebrow and grinned. He and Saladril went back a long way but it had
never been a romantic liaison. A demon had imprisoned Saladril in a
stasis zone, the perfect way to stop her calling out for help, or using
her own powers to free herself. He planned to release her when it was
too late for her to stop him slaughtering a family under her
protection. Luckily for both her and the family, Spike, an unlikely
hero, had casually beheaded the demon in the course of a rather heated
discussion over the merits of soccer over baseball. When the demon
died, his spells shattered and Saladril, once free, lost no time in
tracking down her saviour.
When she discovered that it was a vampire, a creature of pure,
unsullied evil, she was disconcerted. For evil to do good, even
inadvertently, was not unheard of but it was rare enough for her to
delve a little deeper into Spike's past and (potential) future. She
never mentioned her findings to Spike, who was deeply concerned over
Drusilla's health and couldn't have cared less what the future held as
long as it was violent, amusing and he had Dru by his side to share in
it. Instead, she gave him the summoning spell as a thank you gift and
added a layer of protection to the piece of paper. It could not get
mislaid or damaged but Spike would forget about it until he approached
the events that would change his life - or destroy it.
She saw Spike now and then over the years. The demon world is
relatively small and Spike was a flamboyant if not universally popular
figure, but he never showed any signs of reaching the point that would
trigger the memory of the spell. Once he did, that was sufficient to
alert her. She would have made him go through all the rigmarole of the
spell with its esoteric ingredients and complicated chanting (the bit
about doing the spell skyclad wasn't strictly necessary but she figured
she deserved some fun) but he was just taking too long.
"So," said Spike shrewdly, "if you know enough to be here before I even
start to raid the Magic Box for supplies, then I suppose you know why I
wanted to see you, too."
"You want a soul," replied Saladril. "You think it's the one thing that
will bring the Slayer into your arms for more than a kiss or two. You
think without it she will never love you, never trust you, no matter
what you do that proves otherwise. You love her and that love is
affecting you profoundly, in ways you hardly realise."
"Well, yeah, sounds about right," said Spike a little taken aback by
the calm certainty with which she had commented on what he had fondly
thought were his private thoughts. "And I have this bleeding chip in my
head too... that has to go."
"Hmm. Spike, we have a lot to discuss," she said. "We need to find
somewhere else to do it though."
"Welcome to come back to my place," offered Spike. "Fixed it up pretty
good, considering and -"
A pensive look passed over Saladril's face as she gazed into the
distance for a moment. "I think my home might be coo... more
comfortable, dear. Come now, we don't have much time."
"We don't? Why don't we?" asked Spike suspiciously.
"Because you keep asking questions!" With an impatient flick of her
waist length hair, Saladril grabbed both Spike's hands, murmured a
swift incantation and they both vanished, leaving behind a faint smell
of roses and a few wisps of smoke.
Going through the cemetery where Spike lived was a short cut between
the cinema and their apartment building and, unlike most people in
Sunnydale, Xander and Anya had few qualms about graveyards at night.
They might not be confidently certain that they were the scariest
people there, as Buffy was, but they'd slain enough vampires to be ever
so slightly blasé about it. In fact, meeting Spike would have
been more of a pain than bumping into a 'normal' vampire as he couldn't
be dispatched with an accurately applied stake and had more ability to
annoy than a dozen mosquitoes at a beach party.
Their path took them close by his crypt and Xander automatically
glanced at it, subconsciously fretting about the fact that Buffy spent
more and more time with Spike since she came back from the dead. He
found it difficult to accept Buffy with any man but this thing she had
for vampires was just silly in his opinion. She was supposed to kill
them, not canoodle with them. Not that Spike was anything but a joke to
Buffy, he hastily reassured himself. Stalker Spike and his Sexbot. Big
laugh, right? Not canoodle material at all. Spike had saved Buffy from
Sweet's spell of course but there was no way she would ever –
"I smell smoke," said Anya. "Are people allowed to build funeral pyres
nowadays? I remember one really funny wish involving a - hey, the
smoke's coming from Spike's crypt!"
Xander shook himself out of his reverie and after a split second of
shock, began to run towards the crypt, followed at a close distance by
Anya. As they reached the crypt, the choking smoke and intense
heat were enough to make them realise that whoever or whatever was in
there was beyond saving. Xander shouted out Spike's name a few times
but common sense told him that a vampire in that situation would be
dust long before a human was overcome by smoke. They stood there
helplessly for a minute or two. The fire showed no signs of spreading
and trying to force open the door would only feed the fire.
Xander turned to Anya. "We should check on the others, see if they know
where Spike is, make sure -"
"That Buffy didn't get consumed by the flames as well?" asked Anya.
"God, Anya, of course she didn't! Why would she be in there
anyway? She patrols with Spike, she doesn't socialise with
"Yes, she does actually. If kissing is socialising. And if you don't
think there's a chance she was in there, why are you going to check on
Anya's logic was both irritating and correct but Xander focused in on
only one part of her reply. "Kissing? Buffy and Spike – kissing? No
"I saw them... in the shop basement. Spike had got in through those
tunnels of his and was probably trying to steal something. I sent Buffy
down there to keep an eye on him and when I went after her to get some
orris root for a customer they were kissing. Passionately. With tongues
and there was some groping. But all their clothes were still on,” she
finished brightly, giving Xander a sidelong glance to see how he was
taking the news.
Xander stared at her in disbelief. "I don't get this, but it doesn't
matter. I know Buffy and Spike are fine, though when I get through with
Mr. Blonds Have More Fun, he'll fit in a matchbox, but I have to be
sure. And Anya - "
"Spike is not moving in with us. Don't even let him try. Been
done that, he stole my black T-shirt"
"If he's homeless, he might prefer to move in with Buffy," Anya
suggested. "Especially if they want to move their relationship on a
little further to the getting naked part."
"He can sleep in the spare room. I'll move out my chisel collection."
Spike was perfectly safe but getting very confused. Leaning forward in
his chair, he topped up his glass with blood from a discreetly opaque
pitcher on the table in front of him - human blood, fresh and exactly
the right temperature - and said bluntly, "Saladril, pet, cut the
cackle. You want to take out the chip and put in a soul instead and I
still stay a vampire. Sounds fine to me - so what's the catch?"
"Well," began Saladril, "it involves a tiny bit of meddling with your
memory, but not painful at all, I promise you. And we'll put it back
the way it was afterwards."
"I can't begin to tell you how much of that makes me feel suspicious.
Well, OK, I will. All of it."
Saladril smiled slowly. Spike might be suspicious but he was also
hooked, she could tell.
Xander and Anya rushed over to Buffy's house but their speed deserted
them as they walked up to the door. Tentatively, Xander raised a hand
to knock, then unable to wait another moment, pushed the door open and
went into the house. Relief flooded him as he saw four of the people he
loved most in the world, safe, sound and, oh, in nightclothes, and
showing a lot of bare skin and, OK, looking away now.
"Xander!" squeaked Dawn. "Don't you knock nowadays?" She was sitting on
the floor, painting her toenails and hastily tried to push her nightie
down to cover her thighs without getting bits of carpet fluff stuck to
her tacky nails.
Willow and Tara disentangled themselves from their cuddle on the sofa,
where they'd been watching a movie with most of their attention
elsewhere and stared at the couple who had interrupted a rare, quiet
evening in. Buffy who had been half heartedly (hypocrisy can only go so
far) lecturing Dawn about wearing too much make up to school stood up
swiftly and walked over to Xander and Anya.
"What's up?" she asked. "Are you two OK?"
"We are now we know you're all safe," replied Xander.
Buffy and Willow exchanged puzzled glances.
"Why wouldn't we be?" said Willow. "Maybe that's a stupid question,
considering how often we're in this house and we're not all
it seems pretty quiet tonight. Is it a bad quiet? A spooky, menacing
sort of a quiet? They can be so scary."
Xander floundered for a second then blurted it out; unable to look at
Buffy's face as he said it. "Spike's crypt. It's on fire. Pretty much
gutted and the door is tight shut. If he was in there, he's gone. I was
worried in case any of you were there too. Of course, he might not have
been inside but in that case how did the fire start?"
"But I was there!" said Buffy. "I left about an hour ago and
Spike was downstairs in the bedroom. We had a row and I left in a
hurry. I shut the door behind me and as far as I know Spike didn't come
"You were in Spike's bedroom?" demanded Xander. "More kissing
on? Or is that something you were going to share with us all when we
really needed something to laugh about?"
There was a deadly hush and Xander's bitter words seemed to echo in the
silence. Buffy gave him a long, level stare, and then turned away.
“Willow, Tara, can you stay with Dawn? I have to get changed and go
find Spike. He's not dead, he can't be but I need to find him."
Before they had finished stammering out reassurances, she had brushed
past Xander as if he wasn't there and run lightly up the stairs. In
less than five minutes she was fully dressed again and heading out of
the house, her face pale and expressionless. Willow turned to Xander,
still standing, rooted to the spot.
"Sit down, Xander," she said gently. "You can make it up with Buffy
later. She's just upset."
"Why is she upset, Will? If Spike is dead, and he's probably just out
at a bar somewhere or in a fight, still, why should it bother her? How
many times has he tried to kill us or betray us? He's better off -"
Dawn stood up and glared at Xander, "Shut up! Spike looked after me and
Mom when Glory was trying to find me. He was my sitter all summer while
you lot were off playing Pseudo Slayer. He nearly died trying to save
me. He's my friend and, and Buffy likes him too."
Tara put a consoling arm around Dawn and turned to face Xander but
whatever she was going to say was drowned out by Anya who had been
fumbling in her purse for a few seconds. "Look everyone!" she said
brightly. "Xander, who is not still obsessed with Buffy, and I
getting married!" Triumphantly waving a ring bedecked hand, she
effectively stopped all conversation in the room for a second time.
Xander saw the identical looks of shocked amazement that passed over
the faces of his friends and felt sick. Turning, he bolted out of the
door, leaving Anya with a hurt look replacing her confident smile.
As Anya began to cry, Tara and Willow exchanged glances. "Ice cream?"
Tara whispered. "With butterscotch sauce," replied Willow glumly. "It's
going to be a long night."
Spike had never been known for his patience and he was close to losing
what little of it he possessed. "So," he said through gritted teeth,
tempted to make it gritted fangs but restraining himself, “is there a
test I have to go through? An ordeal or something? I have to kill a
Saladril looked puzzled. "What good would that do? We know you can
fight and kill already."
"An ordeal of pain then? Touch of the holy water?"
"If you really insist on being tortured, I'm sure that could be
arranged but no, why should we hurt you when you're voluntarily trying
to become good? Shouldn't we be encouraging you?"
Spike gaped at her, totally thrown by this idea. "I won't necessarily
be good with a soul," he said slowly. "Plenty of humans do worse than I
ever did and with less excuse and they all have souls."
"True, but you were never one of those humans, William and you know it.
You were weak and insecure, but gentle and loving too."
"Here, hang about!" protested Spike. "Got an image to consider, you
"Spike, did you ever think about how unprecedented it is for a vampire
to want to be given a soul? Do you know why you're the only one who's
ever asked for one? I'll tell you. The chip."
"The sodding chip did nothing but screw me up!" Spike replied angrily.
"It’s obscene, a terrible thing to do to someone, messing with their
brain. Those Initiative wankers want prosecuting."
"Spike, you're a vampire who feeds off humans. Lots of humans in your
case. You're lucky they let you live. But you're right; the Initiative
was seriously flawed. Not a problem though; carried the seeds of their
destruction within them sort of thing. They would never have succeeded
even without the Adam disaster."
Spike glared at her. "So what's so good about the chip then? Thought
you said you would take it out."
"The chip gave you a breathing space, Spike. It gave whatever was left
of William within you a small chance to fight back against the demon.
The demon needs blood, but more than that, it thrives on, is addicted
to, the blood that flows from a still living victim. Tainted blood,
filled with fear, spiced with violence. It hasn't had that for a long
time, Spike. It's weak. This is your best chance to throw it off, to
bury it so deeply that it will never resurface. To be Spike still, yes.
Your decades of life as him have changed you. William is truly dead in
that sense, but you can be Spike with all your humour, your drive, your
loyalty to those you love - your ability to love - but no urge to kill
wantonly, no evil at your heart."
Saladril's voice had become urgent, impassioned. Now she fell silent
and gave Spike time to assimilate all she had said. She watched his
handsome face, seeing the emotions pass over it like clouds before the
sun, saw his brilliant blue eyes gleam and sparkle as if new life were
already flowing through his veins. She waited and watched.
Spike finally looked at her and said, his voice a husky drawl, "Fine,
Saladril. I'll take it. And a certificate or something, please, so I
can show Buffy I really went through with it."
There was silence. A sneer distorted Spike's face as he stood. "But
it's not going to be that easy, is it pet?" he whispered, moving over
to her chair. Bending over her, his hands on the arms of the chair, he
trapped her with his body and she felt the force of his personality
wrap round her. "The truth. The details. The catch. Now."
Saladril was not easily intimidated. Glaring back at the arrogant
vampire she put a hand on his chest and pushed. Spike allowed her to
move him away but remained standing. Speaking in a low voice,
emotionless and cool, Saladril told him the test and as uneasy doubt
passed over his face, she took away the chip, took away his memory of
his time with her and put him back on the streets of Sunnydale - a
killer unleashed. A moment later, she sent out the adversary who stood
between Spike, a soul and a chance at love with Buffy.
Buffy stood before Spike's crypt, breathless from running, her eyes
filled with dread. The crypt, as Xander had said, was gutted. Unless
Spike had escaped through the tunnels, he was gone. Buffy refused to
contemplate that possibility until she had to. So many deaths, so many
people she loved had left her but Spike had been constant. His love for
her had been embarrassing at first; in fact, she still didn't think he
really had loved her back then. It was his fixation on killing Slayers,
turned upside down, and ultimately, when he and Drusilla had kidnapped
her, it had almost made her his third Slayer trophy.
But that had changed gradually, culminating in his rescue of her from
the despairing, suicidal dance that Sweet's spell had forced on her.
His song, the look on his face as he had knelt and told her that he
would be her 'willing slave' - raw desire had ripped through her then,
a desire for his body, a need to return his love, but she was still too
fresh from death to want to embrace a vampire, a living corpse. She
needed life. Odd that no matter how much she looked elsewhere, Spike
was the only one who seemed to have it in abundance.
Enough, she decided. She was going to find Spike, right now, drag him
to the nearest place with a bed - or a flat surface, horizontal or
vertical, either would do and she was going to take everything his eyes
had promised her in that song. Tonight.
Turning away from the ruins, she headed for town.
Xander had been walking around aimlessly after leaving Buffy's house.
He was working himself into a rage, justifying his actions and words
but with a growing sense of guilt building up that no amount of
self-righteous fury could crush. Eventually he stopped dead and smacked
his fist hard against a wall, hoping that the dull ache in his heart
would be masked by the blazing pain in his hand. It didn't work. It
never did but he kept on trying.
Glancing far down the street, he saw a familiar figure slouching along,
black coat billowing out behind him. A feeling of relief was swamped by
a resurgence of the jealous rage. Xander hurried towards the vampire,
filled with a need to punch something that was a little more deserving
of it than a wall. And maybe a bit softer.
Spike wandered down the street, feeling strange. He wasn't quite sure
what had happened. He was going to the Magic Box, to break in. Fair
enough, but why? As he walked past an alleyway, he heard a moan of pain
and turned his head automatically. Slumped near the entrance to the
alley, her back against the wall, was a young girl in her early
twenties. Spike went towards her and leaning over saw that she was
bleeding from a deep cut across her face, probably caused by knuckles
with a sadistic fool attached to them.
"You OK, love?" he asked gently. The scent of her blood was strong
enough to make him shudder with need but he made an effort to stay out
of game face. No point anyway, he couldn't hurt her with the chip
embedded in his brain.
"Get away from her, Spike!" said a voice behind him. Turning, Spike was
confronted by Xander, his face contorted with anger and hate.
"I didn't do anything you prat, I just found her like this," Spike
Xander was past caring. All the tensions that had plagued his life
recently; the secret engagement with Anya, his growing suspicions about
Buffy and Spike, the feeling that his life was narrowing down to leave
him only one path to follow; the one that led to the place his father
lurked - all this suddenly became too much. He dealt with it in
time-honoured fashion by lashing out at Spike and punching him in the
face. Spike roared in pain and anger but didn't retaliate. Needing to
do more, confident that Spike was a safe target, Xander grabbed him by
his collar and hauled him out into the street.
As he threw punch after punch, Spike, still bemused from the memory
spell, still affected by the smell of fresh blood finally cracked.
Deciding to get in at least one good hit before the chip kicked in, he
blocked an incoming fist by crushing Xander's hand in his own and used
his free hand to smash Xander's nose flat against his face. The blow
landed on target, Xander's head snapped back, blood gushing from his
nose and Spike remained standing, no crippling pain surging through his
head, not even a twinge.
Spike couldn't quite believe it. Almost hesitantly he threw another
punch, this time to Xander's ribs. Again, no pain. Xander, holding onto
his aching side, stared in disbelief at Spike as his punching bag
morphed into a vampire in full game face, with a most unpleasant
expression in his eyes.
"Spike? Your chip?" he stammered.
"Oh, not as much fun when they can hit back is it? Seems my chip's not
working anymore, carpenter boy. Pity. For you that is. I always thought
if I got myself back together, you're the first one I'd bite and now
you've just made it ever so easy."
Fangs glinting in the streetlight, he grabbed Xander and roughly tilted
his head over, exposing the vulnerable neck. Xander struggled weakly,
gasping out some incoherent pleas but Spike just whispered softly. "Get
Buffy had tried several bars looking for Spike and was on her way to
the shop she knew he got his cigarettes from when she saw the fight
begin. Running down the street, her thoughts were tangled between
relief that Spike was obviously alive and worry that he seemed to be
fighting - was that Xander? How could Spike be fighting a human?
She skidded to a halt just in time to see Spike lift his head up before
swooping down to bite. "No!" she screamed. "Spike, don't!"
Spike turned his face towards her, yellow demon eyes instead of
dizzying blue, twisted vampire face instead of the smooth contours of
his human face. In his eyes were no love, no tenderness, and no
passion. He looked deadly, determined and dangerous.
Buffy’s lips firmed. If Spike was able to kill again, she had to slay
him. No question. Her lips parted as she thought about seeing Spike
disintegrate in front of her. She couldn’t do it. Torn apart, she clung
to one thought; save Xander, stop Spike. “But don’t make me have to
slay him,” she thought helplessly.
For a moment, it all hung in the balance. Unnoticed by the three
figures in the street, the girl in the alleyway shimmered and vanished,
to be replaced by a watchful Saladril. This was Spike's final and only
test before he got a soul. If he failed he would die. Saladril would
see to that. The girl was supposed to be his test but Xander had
provided a twist. Was the trial still valid? Saladril decided that it
was even harder. Buffy's presence was foreordained of course; she had
to see the outcome, had to see Spike get his soul or see him die. Which
would it be?
Buffy's eyes were fixed on Spike’s face as her lips shaped his name and
tears began to form in her eyes. She blinked them away impatiently but
remained frozen, unable to begin a fight that might end with death for
one of two men she loved in different ways.
A look of concern flashed over Spike's face as he saw her distress.
Suddenly, he started to laugh, a raucous, shocking sound in the
stillness of the street. Releasing his hold on Xander's head for a
second he allowed the man to stand upright then leaned forward, gave
Xander a mischievous kiss full on his lips and took an impudent lick at
the blood on his face.
"I'm not going to bite you, Harris,” he said half contemptuously.
"You'd give me heartburn." His demon face melted away and he turned to
Buffy. “Sorry, love," he said. “For some reason the chip's stopped
working and he was being such a wanker about this girl he thought I'd
hurt that I couldn't resist scaring him."
Saladril stepped out of the alleyway. "Well done, Spike," she said,
applauding him with an ironic smile on her face. "You pass the test.
You discovered the chip wasn't working and without remembering that
your soul was at stake, if I may use that expression, you didn’t kill."
“Sal? What are you doing here?” asked Spike, giving her a puzzled look.
“And what test? Am I getting a medal for not killing Xander? Reckon I
Flicking her fingers and murmuring a few words, she restored his
memory. Spike stood still for a second, catching up with all that had
just happened and then nodded his head. “So, no chip anymore. You don’t
feel an overpowering urge to stake me, do you, love?”
Buffy hesitated. “No,” she said uncertainly, “you know I don’t. But if
you’re going to start to kill again, I might not have any choice. I
can’t let you do that.”
Spike took her shoulders, ignoring the other two and gave her a steady
look. “I won’t. I can manage on the animal blood if I have to; I’m not
wasting away, am I? Question is, do you trust me? I’m still that evil,
soulless demon Harris over there loathes and detests.” Xander had the
grace to look a little uncomfortable.
Saladril opened her mouth and then paused, curious as to what Buffy
Buffy reached up her hand and cupped Spike’s face, studying him
intently. “I trust you,” she said in a low voice, “but it’s going to be
so hard for you.”
“Not with a soul,” said Saladril, noticing the time and remembering a
rather amusing party she was missing. “Weren’t any of you listening to
me? Spike’s was asking for a soul. He’s got one.”
“I do?” said Spike. “Don’t feel any different.”
Saladril sighed impatiently and threw an arm in the air dramatically.
White fire shot from her fingers and enveloped Spike who sank to his
knees, roaring in pain. Buffy turned on Saladril and demanded, “What
are you doing? You’re hurting him!”
Saladril shrugged. “No pain, no gain. He’ll be fine.” The fire died
away and Spike collapsed forward, his chest heaving, his eyes wide and
Buffy moved to him but Xander beat her to it. He held out a hand to
Spike and when Spike gripped it, he hauled him up to his feet. It was
as close as Xander would ever get to an apology. Spike gave him a small
nod and turned to Buffy. She stared at him, shaking her head in wonder.
“I can’t believe you did that,” she murmured. Then she hugged him so
hard that he winced.
“I’m going now,” said Saladril. "Sorry about your crypt, Spike
“Huh?” said Spike, who had just been about to kiss Buffy to see if
she’d let him get away with it in front of Xander. “What about my
“Burned down,” said Xander, a little too cheerfully. “Tragic really. I
actually thought you were making progress with the decorating, too.
Could have sworn there were three less cobwebs last time I dropped by.”
Spike stood, mouth hanging open and then moaned in anguish. “Sal,” he
said, turning to her pleadingly. ‘Everything I own after over a century
of pillaging was in that crypt. Can’t you do something? For me?”
“Or we could make a trip to the dump tomorrow and it’ll be like it
never happened,” said Xander brightly.
Saladril was slightly annoyed by Spike’s request - had he even said
‘thank you’ for his soul yet? – but she wasn’t going to allow a mortal
to make fun of him. “Young man,” she said in her most regal tone, "have
you forgotten that you left dear Anyanka distraught? Unless you want me
to grant her a wish for old times sake, I’d suggest you go
back and make things right with her.”
“You know Anya?” gasped Xander.
“Of course. A lovely young woman. You don’t deserve her.” Saladril
turned to Spike. “I’ll certainly be glad to restore your home, my dear.
Suppose I make a few improvements while I’m at it?”
Spike missed the glint in her eyes and nodded eagerly. “Like a
bathroom? You’d like a bathroom, wouldn’t you, Buffy?”
Buffy nodded agreeably. “Would come in handy,” she said, her
imagination dwelling fondly on a soap-slick Spike needing help to get
those hard to reach spots.
“Fine,” cooed Saladril. “I’ll be off then. No, don’t bother to thank
me, Spike.” Her voice turned form sugar to acid but she vanished as
Spike opened his mouth to answer her.
“What’s the matter?” said Buffy, seeing how worried Spike looked.
Spike rubbed the back of his neck and gazed at the spot where Saladril
had stood. “Nothing, just, she’s got a weird sense of humour, is all.
Especially if she’s in a mood.”
Xander interrupted. “What say we go home, break the news and – ”
“And you can start groveling,” Buffy said unkindly.
“Oh, yes,” breathed Xander. “There’s going to be wear and tear on my
knees, I can tell you.”
The aftermath of an event is always a little awkward. Buffy, Spike and
Xander wandered back to Buffy's house in virtual silence, though Buffy
walked between them, her hands linked in their arms. When they reached
the house they separated and entered in single file.
The others were still in the sitting room, sticky with ice cream and
well into a slightly censored, 'all men are pigs' conversation to
Dawn was the first to react. “Spike!" she cried, running over to hug
him. "You're not dead!"
"Well, technically - hey easy there, Little Bit, you've got as much
muscle as your sis."
Dawn pulled back, puzzled and looked at Spike closely. "There's
something different about you, Spike," she said.
Tara and Willow came over to join her, leaving Anya and Xander to
exchange glances and slowly drift away to the kitchen together.
”It’s a long story, well, I don’t know what the story is exactly, but
I’m guessing it’s long,” said Buffy, "but Spike has a soul. Like Angel.
But not quite,” she added hurriedly, as Spike glared at her.
Excited babbling filled the next few minutes interrupted by the return
of Anya and Xander, holding hands and with an air of settled happiness
that they had never shown before. "Everyone," said Xander. “I should
have told you all a long time ago. I love Anya, and for some strange
reason she loves me too, and we’re getting married.”
“We sort of got that,” said Willow wryly. ‘I hope you’ll both be very
happy.” Tara slipped a consoling arm around Willow’s shoulders, knowing
that Willow wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of Anya and
Xander being together.
"I do love you," Anya said, beaming at Xander. "Can we go home
and make up?"
Instead of cringing or trying to cover up Anya's frankness, Xander
grinned and said, "You bet. Night everyone. Oh and Spike?"
"No hard feelings?"
"Good. Get yourself a tux; you're best man."
A slow smile from Spike, a giggle from Dawn, and Xander swept Anya out
of the house.
Buffy had been quiet but now she stood, walked over to Spike and
wrapped her arms around him. Turning her head she said, “Since your
jaws are all on the ground anyway, I’ll just tell you that –”
“You and Spike are in lurve,” Dawn interrupted with a cheeky grin. “We
know. It’s so cute!”
“’Cute’? " said Spike. “I don’t do cute.”
“Course you do,” said Dawn. “Especially when you’re drinking cocoa and
you get a chocolate moustache.”
Spike howled with rage and began to chase a giggling Dawn around the
room, intent on seeing how much tickling torment he could inflict
before the others rescued her. It turned out to be quite a lot.
Later that night, Spike and Buffy approached Spike's crypt. There may
have been a faint hint of smoke in the air but it was overwhelmed by
the scent of roses. Buffy gave Spike a questioning glance. He shrugged.
"Sal likes roses."
Pushing open the door they stood still on the threshold. Saladril had
not stinted on the renovations. The air was warm, the floor covered in
thick carpet and comfortable yet sturdy sofas and chairs were scattered
around. Exploring further they found an en suite bathroom was now
attached to the bedroom and it really was a little ungrateful of Spike
to swear continuously for an entire ten minutes.
Of course, pink never had been his favourite colour and now everything
in the crypt was pink or white. With ruffles here and there.
Buffy shut him up eventually by pushing him over to the bed, tripping
him up and landing on top of him.
"Tomorrow you can redecorate," she said firmly. "Tonight, you've got
better things to do."
Spike grinned up at her and started to do them.
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