Dinner for Two
This was written for the 2021 Mystery-Fic-Along Event. That being said, the summary is subject to change. Spike decides that Drusilla needs a good dose of romance and remembering happier times to shake her out of her melancholia. As Halloween looms and evil gets the night off, he decides it’s the perfect night for a romantic evening for two, complete with a nod to the holiday. Buffy’s thinking the same thing, only she’d like to catch a distant Angel’s eye. Spike and the Slayer happen to be at the same “chaotic” costume shop at the same time, but neither has quite the evening they expect once the costumes are donned.
Of course, it couldn’t be simple, could it? If she’d been in her normal un-coiffed, Slaying attire, she would have left a lot of pipsqueak monsters in the dust. In this gown? The first time a horde of zombies cut her off, she screamed like a banshee and ran away like a terrified toddler, thoroughly separating herself from the rest of the pack. She could hear Spike’s horrified cries of “Lady Buffy! Lady Buffy, wait!”
He was going to come find her. And rescue her. That was damn irritating and reassuring at the same time.
I do not need to be rescued!
Only, I sort of do!
But Spike should not be my rescuer!
Although, William is okay…
Running blindly led to getting thoroughly turned around and finding herself down a dark alley.
“Fear not. Surely, one of the gentlemen will find me. Soon.”
As it turned out, she was right. Angel came around the corner purposefully. When he saw her, he gave her a slow smile that made her heart flutter. “Angel!”
“There you are. You shouldn’t run off on your own like that.”
“I was so frightened!”
“Mm. I can smell that.”
Ewww. “We must get back to the others.”
“I was thinking we could meet them there. It’s a small town. This place will be easy to find. I wanted to talk to you. Alone.”
Her fluttering heart sped up to hummingbird speeds as Angel walked over to her. He never wanted to cozy up to her. Their dating life was pretty much secrets, slaying, and feeling like she was dragging him to teenager things. He was over two hundred. Age gaps were seriously a drag. Perhaps this costume and her wish to see Angel as he was when he was younger would help them meet in the middle.
His sauntering stopped when they were standing chest to chest. Her dress-influenced instincts were screaming that she should back away. Such close contact with her suitor was scandalous. Those instincts quieted down slightly when he ran his hand tenderly over her cheek. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you. I hoped you would like it,” she flushed and dipped her head shyly.
“I do. I like… I like you like this. You remind me of the good old days.”
Buffy tilted her head up to look into his eyes. They were alive and sparkling like she’d never seen them. For a moment, she considered telling him about her wish, but what if his endearing (and sometimes frustrating) sense of nobility made him pull away, thinking his actions were influenced somehow? “Happier times we could share?” she whispered hopefully.
“At least for a little bit,” he chuckled, his voice lilting, again showcasing traces of the accent she’d never heard before tonight.
“Right. Before the enchantment of this dress ends.”
“I love it. You know,” his hand was suddenly tight on her shoulder, “back when I was a lad, women acted like you. They could beg or scream. Or both. They had no fight in ‘em, not physical fight. Some had strong spirits. You’ve got both.”
Mother of all backhanded compliments? “Thank you,” she finally replied.
The lilting voice was becoming darker. Almost sinister? “I've been wanting to get you alone since I saw you tonight. I don’t know why I’ve never done this before.”
Suddenly, he swooped her up, laughing softly. Buffy wondered if this was how he’d rescued countless other damsels in distress? Was this how he’d carried Darla up to bed every night?
He kissed her roughly, a searing sensation that short-circuited her brain and body. When he pulled his lips away, she was pinned to the wall of the alley, his hardness pushed against her as they both panted.
“Oh, Angel!” She fairly swooned, eyelids drooping with and chest heaving. We can’t make out now. Not now. Remember, city to save? Also— “Oh, Angel!”? Maybe I dropped my vocabulary while I was running.
He kissed her again, laughing again. “I thought I would start with the nun. She looks more my type.”
Buffy bit back a heartbroken noise of surprise. “What?” What? Even as a nun, Drusilla is still his type??
“I know you play the prim and proper girl, but I see through you. You couldn't wait for me to get up into your bedroom could you, lass? Doubtless hoping that I'd be the one to part those sweet nethers for the first time.”
“Don’t say such things!” Buffy tried to push him away, but his grip was much stronger than she remembered. Maybe her muscles were weak with shock. Angel wouldn’t say that. He doesn't say stuff like that. My fantasies never included the word “nethers”, that’s for damn sure. They also left out the suddenly creepy, mocking voice and the hands leaving bruises on my wrists.
“I think you're a good bit more experienced than the good sister is. I'd rather have both of you at once, to tell the truth, one watching the other, seeing what you’re about to endure.”
Buffy’s stomach flipped sickeningly. Endure? Both? Something was mega wrong. “Unhand me at once!”
“Oh? What's wrong, sweet young thing? Did you finally figure it out? I'm a modern man, but I'm suddenly feeling my youthful self again. I don't know why I've been living like a monk, especially not in a town where there's plenty of tasty morsels like you and those high school trollops with their bare legs and blouses undone.” His smile twisted, something predatory in his eyes.
“Unhand me now, or I shall scream!” Buffy wriggled in his grasp.
He let her go for a second— then slammed her back into the wall, hard enough to make her dizzy, laughing fondly as if sharing a favorite memory. “Back when I was a human, I loved to hear them screaming in pleasure. But now that I’ve had a bit of a change of heart,” his fangs suddenly slipped down and brown eyes turned yellow, “I just love to hear them scream. Any kind of scream will do. In fact, I like a variety.”
Buffy desperately shook her aching head. “But this isn't who you are! You have a kind and noble soul. I may have spoken unwisely when I made a wish, but you—”
He shushed her with a hard finger to her lips. “I had a soul the first twenty or so women I was with, lass. I used to promise them all kinds of things, finery and money… Used to take them out in back of the tavern or even in the stables.When I was done, I’d walk on home by sunup. What were they going to say?”
That’s who he was? When he was alive? The sleazy, scummy, one-night-stand guy? There was nothing kind or noble about him. “I’ll talk! I’ll tell them exactly what you did,” Buffy warned, swallowing hard.
“You won’t. Dead women tell no tales. Shame we have to rush though, ‘Lady Buffy’,” he mocked William’s precise tones. “Giles and Harris know I went after you. Of course, since they know you've been acting like an empty-headed little tart, I’ll explain how you let yourself get cornered by some other vamps. I’ll make sure I do the silent, anguished stare, maybe a few tears from my ‘soulful’ eyes before I tell them how those ‘other vamps’ sank their fangs into your throat and abused your tender little body.”
Buffy squirmed and let out a scream, but Angel easily choked her, hand forearm across her throat and hand over her mouth. “Shhh. Maybe if you are a good girl, I'll take you with me.”
Buffy was too overwhelmed with horror and disappointment to speak, even if her throat wasn’t aching and pinched. This was the man she loved? “Angel, you and I —”
“—Could get the nun together? You know, I already had a chance with the good sister once, not that she remembers it. Oh, I recall every detail, every scream, every tear… But she’s like a blank canvas. Doesn’t know what I did to her. She still thinks she can be saved, maybe even go past those pearly gates and meet up with her sisters again. Mary and Edith. Three Catholic virgins. Well… not at the end of the night—” He leaned forward, fangs moving toward her throat.
Buffy let out a razor-sharp scream as he took the pressure off of her windpipe. As he drew back, clutching his ear, she bit the hand at her throat. “You are a depraved fiend!”
Angel didn’t release her, just snarled in her face. “You deserve a lot more time than I can give you, especially after that. But Dru… Drusilla is my masterpiece. It's not often a masterpiece gets to be painted twice. And things have changed so much in a century! We didn’t have so many fun little inventions back then.”
“You won’t get away with this! One word from me and I could make it so you never existed!” Buffy warned, her voice a pitiful squeak instead of the fierce challenge she wanted to throw out.
“Funny. I don’t see the genie around this little bottle.” His hands indented her waist.
Buffy willed herself to be silent, despite the jumble of half-formed wishes in her brain. She had a feeling that Genie Willow would hear her no matter where she was, but what wish should she make? Or that he’d never existed. But that might mean they wouldn’t have known about the Master. There would be no Dru, which meant no William. She wasn’t sure what his disappearance would do, and she wasn’t willing to risk it yet. She could wish that Angel was dead. The thought caused her disappointed heart considerable pain, but the idea persisted. But, if she wished him dead right now, would that matter? He was technically already dead, and pretty damn hostile with it.
All of these thoughts raced through her mind within a split second. Still figuring it out as she went, Buffy said, “I wish—”
“You blackguard! You cad! You rapacious scoundrel!”
Buffy saw a whirl of steel and neat tailoring. “Mr. Pratt!” Her heart filled with relief and unaccustomed warmth.
“Fear not, Lady Buffy, I—”
“You!” Angel turned from her, roaring in pain as the cutlass caught his arm.
William stifled a scream at the vampiric features snarling at him. “How dare you treat a lady like that?”
“Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same, Willy. I watched you.”
“Never! I never would have done such a thing!”
Angel grabbed Spike’s wrist with one hand, twisting it with a sickening crunch. “Actually, you’re right. I tried to teach you, boy, but you were too busy playing nursemaid.”
“Let him go!” Buffy pounded her fists on Angel’s shoulder. It was completely ineffectual and only irritated him.
“Lady Buffy, run!” Spike ordered.
“I… I…” Buffy looked frantically around. Every Slayer instinct screamed to fight, but her costume outweighed them. “Use the stake!”
At those words, Angel shook the other man like a terrier with a rat, knocking his glasses off and sending the stake rolling to the grimy pavement.
“Run, I tell you!”
Buffy ford herself to stay, to walk toward danger while her costume tugged her senses in the opposite direction. She grabbed the cutlass from where it had landed, knocked free by Angel’s fearsome grip on Spike’s wrist. Closing her eyes and praying to the deities who looked out for victims of epic fashion disasters, she swung the heavy pommel with all of her might at the back of Angel’s head. It connected with the base of his skull.
He fell with a grunt.
Buffy stooped and retrieved the glasses and stake, scrambling toward her fallen— friend. “William! William, are you injured?”
“The brute broke my wrist, I fear.” His face was blotchy and gray with pain.
“Well, he was about to do much worse to me. Mr. Pratt…Oh, William. You saved my life.” She squeezed his uninjured hand tightly.
He blushed and bowed, wincing as he moved. “It was my honor, dear lady. Come, the others have found the shop. I believe we can find our way there. Oh. Oh, dear. I seem to have lost my—”
Buffy smiled as she slid his glasses tenderly onto his face. “Better?”
“Yes. I’m most dreadfully nearsighted.” Spike offered her his good arm. “We must make haste.”
“Indeed, we must.” Buffy gave Angel a backward glance. In a few minutes, he’d be back to normal, right? The problematic costumes would lose their power. But Angel wasn’t wearing a costume.
My wish did this. I have one wish left.
How the hell do I fix this? Not just fix Angel… but fix what he did to Drusilla? When she remembers what he did to her sisters, what he did to her…
The phrase “Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy” sprang to mind and lodged there.
When they arrived, Giles was sporting a bloody nose and had the plaster bust in his hands. An unconscious Ethan Rayne was on the floor.
“Buffy! Thank God. I wanted to make sure you were safe before I smashed this statue of Janus, the chaos deity that Ethan worships. I believe if it is broken, it should undo the enchantment. Where’s Angel?”
“He accosted Lady Buffy!” Spike said indignantly. He waited for gasps of shock. None came. He squared his shoulders and continued, “I would have had the constabulary after him if it were not for this urgent matter. What are you waiting for, Mr. Giles? End this torment.”
“I…” Giles hesitated, looking between the earnest, eager face of William Pratt and the curiously resigned nun. “When I do that— you two will become our enemies once again. Spike, that is, Mr. Pratt, I know you do not realize it, but you are known as Spike, William the Bloody. And you kill Vampire Slayers, which is what Buffy is. For everyone’s safety, perhaps we should part company first.”
William looked stricken. “I… I have killed?”
“I’m a demon?” Drusilla clawed suddenly at her throat, hand searching again for the absent crucifix. “No. Please, don’t say that.” Her whole body began to shake, eyes rolling up.
“Sister Mary Edith!” Spike, even with one arm cradled to his chest, ran forward, trying to catch the swooning girl.
“Who made me that way? Who?” she howled.
“It’s not true, it can’t be!” William hissed, trying to grip her convulsing arm.
“It’s him! It’s him, I know it’s him!” Drusilla turned frantic eyes to the front of the shop.
“Me?” Harris pointed to his chest. “Hey, I’ve done plenty of things I’m not proud of, but I never hurt a nun.”
“I think she means me.”
Angel stood in the doorway, swaying slightly. “Looks like I get my wish. Buffy and the nun. Together. Nun for dinner, fluffy little virgin for dessert.”
There was the sharp sound of gunfire. Angel went down with a roar, a bullet in his leg. The enraged sound of pain quickly turned to a more murderous laugh. “Sorry, Soldier boy. Bullets don’t work.”
“But they slow you down.” Harris tossed a pointed look at Buffy. “I can keep shooting, Lady. This is your ‘friend’, right?”
“Buffy!” Giles hissed, unsure of the next step.
“Do not make that wish!” Giles yelped.
“Why ever not?” Spike yelped back, herding Drusilla and Buffy toward a back corner, standing between them and the advancing Angel.
“Because the djinn extract horrible prices! Let’s just smash the statue!”
“Sounds good to me!” Harris let off another volley, this time in the creature’s chest.
“Angel isn’t in costume! That isn’t going to help!” Buffy protested as Angel fell to his knees again, still laughing at them, sinister knowledge that he was going to get his prize shining in his lamplight eyes.
“What is the price of my wishes?”
“A life. A human life.”
“If you smash the statue, she won’t be a genie, anymore.” Harris pointed out.
“But Angel will stay like this! Souled but evil. God, what a nightmare.”
“A nightmare. A nightmare, torture, endless torture, first the body, then the soul, finally the mind, never ending! Not again. I can see it. I can see it all…” Dru wailed and fell forward, clutching at Spike’s leg and Buffy's skirt. “Please, not again. Please!”
“What is she talking about?” Spike hissed, bleeding fingers resting soothingly on Dru’s forehead.
Buffy didn’t answer. Drusilla still had her visions. She was seeing what had happened in her past, and in seconds she’d either be forced to relive it or live with it.
“Mr. Giles, I’m going to make my wish. The second it passes my lips and it takes effect, you must smash that idol!”
He nodded. Buffy looked at Drusilla and William. She looked at Angel. This might be the last thing she ever said, but somehow, it felt right, almost ike putting it back into the hands of the cosmos. “I wish that you give fitting justice and peace to Sister Mary Edith, also called Drusilla.”
Willow’s smoky form seemed to waver. “As you wish.”
“Now!” Xander shouted and Giles hurled the statue down. Angel lunged. Xander fired.
Buffy’s dress sagged, no longer magically clinging. Xander fell from the recoil of his last shot, but only a toy rifle was in his hand.
“Dru! Dru!” Spike dropped to his knees.
Angel wasn’t anywhere to be found.
“What’s happening?” Willow demanded woozily, right before she fainted into Giles’ arms.
Spike blinked, tears seeping out. Dru was lying on the floor, pale as death. She took his hand, the one that wasn’t attached to a broken wrist. “What’s happening?”
“Justice and peace, sweet William. My human life… for his.” Her tired eyes turned toward something on the floor.
It was Buffy’s turn to sink to the ground, her heart hammering. Where Angel had been kneeling, there was blood. And ash.
“Dru, please. Sweetheart, you’re not going anywhere. I’ll get you back on your feet in no time., I promise.”
“No. No, Spike, please. Let me go now? Like this? Listen.”
Spike laid his head down against the folds of black fabric and sat up with a gasp. His lover had a heartbeat. It was thready and weak, but there. “Don’t fret, Luv. I can fix that. I’ll make it all better.” He tugged at the high white collar under her chin, fangs sliding down.
“I love you, William. But I don’t want to live like that again. Without my soul… I missed it, Spike. I missed it.”
“But… Baby, I can’t live without you.” Sod the people listening. Sod them all, kill them all later. They saw him weak and soft. Now they saw him begging.
“You’ll have your memories of me and new adventures with new friends. Buffy. Lady Buffy?”
“I’m- I’m here. I’m sorry about the wish… I was trying to help, I swear,” Buffy whispered, her eyes looking between the thunderous face of the vampire beside her and the human one below her.
“You helped. Spike will tell you. Years and years, he’s been hurting me, the Angel-beast. Never at peace. Stole my soul, he did. You put it back. Clever girl. Sweet girl. Now, I want you to promise me something. Will you?”
Giles coughed and shook his head warningly.
Spike gave him such an anguished glare that the Watcher reconsidered and bowed his head in agreement. “It wouldn’t hurt to hear.”
“Look after William.”
Spike protested faintly, “Dru, you can’t ask her to do that.”
“You promised you’d write to her. Promise me. Promise me you’ll be… kind to one another.”
Spike and Buffy looked at each other as discreetly as they could. “Dru,” he finally hissed. “You know I couldn’t break a deathbed promise to you.” Deathbed? His shoulders started to shake.
“So do it. Buffy’s willing, aren’t you, dear?”
“Y-yes,” her answer was shaking, but honest. “I’ll be kind if he will. Mr. Pratt saved my life. I owe him.”
“This is lunacy,” Giles muttered.
“It’s a Hellmouth,” Xander hissed, his own eyes inexplicably damp.
“Please, Spike. I can hear our mothers’ voices. They are singing so sweetly, and Edith and Mary have already laid the table.” Drusilla’s eyes fell shut.
“She says you’re such a good son. She’s glad you have a new friend. Much better friend to her boy than I’ve been. Promise, William.”
“I promise.” He squeezed her hand hard. For the first time in decades, she didn’t squeeze back.
Willow sat up slowly. “Xander?” she whispered.
“Willow?” He abandoned the heart wrenching tableau in the back corner.
“Oh my God, I’m me again!” Willow patted her purple gauzy harm top and threw off the veil. “Are you— you again?” she asked carefully.
“I think so. I still feel like I know how to load an M48 Patton Tank.” He rubbed his head.
“Say something only the real Xander and I know.” She snapped her fingers suddenly. “The first line of the play I wrote in third grade! “
“Indy Rosenberg, Galactic Anthropologist? How am I supposed to remember—”
Willow cut him off, sporting her resolve face and arching one eyebrow. “Fine, I’ll start! Mr. President, aliens have invaded Zimbabwe.”
Xander’s voice became firm, “There’s not time for rational solutions! Send for Indy Rosenberg.”
“It’s me! It’s you!” Willow launched herself at her best friend.
“It’s us!” He laughed in relief.
Joyful hugging commenced.
But not everyone in the dark little shop was so happy.
“Come,” Giles whispered. “Give them a moment. Help me haul out this rubbish.” He kicked the unconscious Rayne in the ribs.
Giles, Xander, and Willow hauled Ethan’s body out and put it in the back of a police car while the puzzled officers were rounding up a few dozen hysterical trick-or-treaters. There was plenty of commotion outside, but inside the shop, the rest of the world seemed to have vanished.
Buffy stayed on her side of the floor, sobbing over Angel’s ashes.
Spike stayed with Dru’s body, holding it to his chest and weeping.
Spike’s tears were coming in all different flavors. He had to admit that they were overwhelmingly heartbroken at first. As time went on—how long did they sit there?— he had to admit something was loosening and lightening in his chest.
Free. Peace. The bastard who tortured her and broke her was dead. She could hear her mother’s voice. See her sisters. Had a human soul back. Not one that truly remembered all the horrors she’d witnessed, nor the ones she’d achieved. “You went happy, didn’t you, Princess?” he whispered to the still face, looking at its tiny smile.
Buffy turned, for a moment thinking he was speaking to her, thrown off by a night of being addressed as royalty. “Spike?” she rasped out.
Spike turned his head slightly. He waited for the surge of hatred to well up. It didn’t raise more than a half-hearted shrug. “What?” he asked in a hollow voice.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to help, how to end it my stupid wish. In the alley, before you saved me— before William Pratt saved me,” her voice softened for a moment when she thought of the man who had become her friend, “Angel told me that he wanted to get Drusilla again and remake his masterpiece. We both know what that means.”
Even in death, he protectively grabbed the cooling body and held it closer. “Over my dead body.”
“And it nearly was. He wanted us both. Ruin us both. I… I wondered what he was like in his younger days, Spike. I just thought I could… I don’t know. We’d have fun.” Flirt, dance, wine, dine, date! Talk! Buffy rubbed her eyes angrily. Fifty percent of tonight was on Ethan Rayne and the other half was on her. No, the whole thing was on Ethan Rayne. If he hadn’t made Willow a real genie, wish-y words would be just words.
Spike laughed, a short, bitter bark. “His idea of fun was sticking it to barmaids, Slayer. And back in those days, sticking it to a girl before she was your wife meant you ruined her. She wasn’t likely to marry a respectable bloke after that, or marry at all. If he got one up the duff—”
“Up the what?” Buffy’s eyes widened.
“If he got a girl pregnant, that would be the end of her respectability and chance at an easy, uncomplicated life. In his young days, he was a mean, careless, lout who liked to ruin women and laugh at the pain he caused, as long as he got his rocks off. Throw in a demon, and he started to ruin ‘em more creatively.”
“But he still had his soul tonight, didn’t he?” Buffy looked so troubled. “I didn’t wish that away. Why was he so—?”
“You think a bloke can’t hurt someone with a soul?” He lay back, Dru still against him, his broken wrist throbbing. He didn’t need his glasses anymore. He considered flinging them off, but something of tonight’s William lingered. He put them carefully in his breast pocket. His suit was just cheap, thin cloth again.
“But—but he didn’t act like that until I made that wish.” Her tears were turning the ashes into paste.
His head turned again, a derisive taunt on his lips. It died at the sight of her tear-stained face. “Yes, he did, Luv. He hurt plenty of people. He especially hurt Dru, even with his soul. She was evil, y’see, so it didn’t matter to him.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to point out that she deserved it.
Hard to say that to him, to the guy who looked so much like William Pratt, who had been William Pratt.
Who was still Mr. Pratt? Buffy couldn’t take her eyes off the way his face reflected so much grief and how soulful his eyes were.
“I’m so sorry, William.”
He blinked, surprised. “I am, too. But in a way… I’m glad she could go like this. D’you know, only last night, she was having one of her spells where she asked if she could be forgiven? Clean again. Before he turned into a murdering demon.”
Buffy bit her lip. Dru wondered that? She felt remorse? But how, without her soul?
Souls are tricky and should come with a manual. Not that I’d read it….
Spike pressed his lips tenderly to the still forehead. “There, my dove. Forgiven and free.”
“Where are you going?” Buffy watched him rise and scrambled to her feet as well.
“I think she ought to have a proper burial. Proper as I can give her, in real hallowed ground.”
Without thinking, she sprang forward and helped him lift the fallen figure. “I’ll help. We—we could find a place in a cemetery. Sunnydale has lots of them.”
He nodded jerkily. “Thank you, Lady Buffy,” he finally murmured.
“You’re most welcome, Mr. Pratt.”
It was a small group that gathered by a crypt in the Restfield Cemetery the next night.
“I didn’t expect all of your lot to turn up.” Spike wore his costume suit again. It wasn’t well-made but he thought it was more along the lines of what the good sister would have wanted. He could wear his leathers and smoke and drink tomorrow.
If he made it past sunrise.
“Sister Mary Edith was a charming woman. Drusilla… Drusilla should not be held entirely responsible for her actions.” Giles nodded stiffly. He didn’t dare ask where the coffin had come from.
“It’s not stolen,” Spike growled as the Watcher’s eyes lingered on it. “Wouldn’t be right for her. It’s… borrowed. I’ll pay for it.”
“H-here.” Willow shakily thrust a bunch of mums at Spike.
“Ah. Ta, Red.”
Willow grinned crookedly. No one had ever called her “Red” before. It was kinda cool.
Silence fell. “Um. Want a hand? How is yours?” Xander asked awkwardly, not quite meeting Spike’s eyes.
“It’s better. Still broken. On three?” Spike croaked, bending to close the lid of the coffin.
“William, wait!” Buffy groaned internally. She had to stop thinking of Spike and William Pratt as the same person. Right?
“What, La— Slayer?”
“Here. I know you can’t put it on her, but I can. She kept… she kept looking for her cross. I have lots of them.” Buffy hurriedly stepped forward, pulling something from the pocket of her jacket.
Spike watched her dangle a simple silver cross on a long chain. He remembered Dru trying to put on the cross that came with the costume, how he’d snatched it away before it could burn her, and the lost, hopeless look in her eyes. “Thanks, Pet. She’d love it.”
Buffy hastily stooped and draped the necklace at her throat. Spike had kept her in the nun costume. It seemed… not like a costume at all. “She does look peaceful, Spike.”
“That’s the only reason I can do this. If you really love someone… sometimes you let ‘em go to a better place. Come on, let’s do this. I don’t want to —” he broke off in a mumble.
“Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,” Giles murmured, arm around Buffy. He felt her shoulders starting to tremble. “I—hrm. I did bring a Bible. Well, you know. I thought she would have wanted that, as a nun. Would you like me to read out anything?”
“The twenty-third psalm, yeah. ‘I will fear no evil’. No evil can touch her now….”
It was surreal. Xander thumped Spike on the shoulder and tried to say something appropriate. In the end, he just pulled Willow back to Giles’ car. She was sobbing into his shoulder, which wasn’t weird. Seeing her suddenly burst into tears and hug Spike? Now, that was strange.
Giles got behind the wheel, looking genuinely, deeply puzzled. It was never a good look for him, the smartest guy in the room.
“This has been a crazy couple of days, huh?” Xander finally voiced.
“I… It’s my fault she died, isn’t it? That’s the human life the genie wanted?”
“Or was it simply peace and justice?” Giles mused. “We won’t ever be entirely sure.” He put the car in gear.
“Wait! Buffy!” Willow yelped.
“She wanted to walk home.”
“You left her alone with Spike?” Xander tried to feel more worried. It was hard to do, especially since he still remembered Spike constantly acting as a human shield to both Drusilla and Buffy.
“Sometimes people find solace in shared grief,” Giles murmured softly. “Curiously enough, I don’t think she’s in any danger.”
Spike looked up from his place on his knees, still kneeling in the grass beside the mound of fresh earth topped with Willow’s mums. He wasn’t alone. The others had left, but one persistent thorn in his side remained. “Slayer?”
“All right. Buffy, what are you doing here? The rest of your little pack has left.”
“I… I don’t feel like leaving yet. Oh! Unless you want to be alone. Sorry. I’m sorry.” Buffy scurried to her feet, which prompted him to rise as well.
“No. No. Not especially,” he answered slowly.
Buffy stared at him for a moment in silence. “What is it?” What’s wrong? would have been a ludicrous question and she already knew the answer. Everything. Everything about this is wrong. Drusilla is dead. Angel is dead. I don’t think I feel like I should.
Spike shrugged restlessly. “Ever think your heart is doing a half-assed job, Buffy?”
“Yep. Right now, actually.”
“Well… I just… I loved Angel. He was my boyfriend. I think. I thought he loved me, too. I miss him. I’m sad that he’s gone and yet…”
“You feel like you’re not as bloody miserable as you should be?” Spike reached for cigarettes out of habit, but instead he came up with his poncy wire-rims again.
“Yes. That.” Buffy let out a deep sigh. “Hearing him act like that… I didn’t take away his soul. I didn’t say I wished him evil. I said I wanted to see him like he was in his younger days. Human or vampire— he was a jerk! No! He was more than a jerk. He was terrible. Violent. He laughed at me. He wanted to hurt people because that made him happy. How could I ever love someone like that?”
Spike shrugged. No good telling the girl lies. “I dunno. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fight. I love a good kill, ‘specially if I have to work for it. I never understood why Angelus did what he did. What the bloody hell is the purpose of taking the weakest, softest, most beautiful—” his voice broke abruptly, “most wonderful things and breaking them? Doesn’t mean you’re strong, does it?” he spat. “Means you’re weak!” He hollered at the heavens. “Weak!”
Buffy scooted next to him instinctively when he crashed back down, sobs shaking his shoulders. “Spike! William, listen to me. That’s why you’re not as sad as you think you should be.”
“Shut up, what would you know about it?” Spike thought about shaking her off, but her strong arm around his back felt good. Like something in this world was still holding him together.
“I know you’re being brave for her. Just like you were brave for both of us last night. You know he hurt her. You know he hurt her inside, where you can’t fix it.” Buffy winced. What if he’d hurt her like that? Thank God they were only together for a few months, not a few years. “You’re not as sad because you loved Drusilla so much, William Pratt. You would do anything to help her— to help her get home. You said you would take her home. A lady shouldn’t travel unescorted.” Her breathing went out of time, suddenly too fast as the stupid, unreasonable sobs caught up to her. “Look. You made sure she got home safe. Back to her family.”
“Stop talking,” he demanded hoarsely. “You don’t know anything about me, about us.”
“I know I like Mr. Pratt. I wish… I wish I could see him again.”
Silence. Long minutes of it while the moon kept rising, relentless, forcing his hand. Stay out until sunrise, dust beside his princess. Or go inside this little crypt beside Dru’s resting place, and come out another night, with every tie to his old life severed. Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla, gone. His mother, gone. The world suddenly looked lonely.
Except for ths chit who was still leaning against him, crying with him. “Sun will rise in a few,” he whispered.
“Oh. Oh. Are you— leaving?” Buffy’s throat tightened. The thought of Spike, the closest thing she could get to Mr. Pratt, vanishing in the sun made her already heavy heart sink further.
Spike chewed words for a minute, jaw flexing. “You said Pratt was brave?”
“Yes! Hell yeah, Spike! He was incredible. He was brave, kind, and sweet.” Her voice drifted.
“What? Really? That little milksop?”
“Don’t talk about him like that!”
“He is me, Slayer! Just like you’re Lady Buffy, the beautiful woman in a poofy skirt under the stakes and boots and divine burden, I’m still that boy. Still William Pratt. And I still lost the girl.” God, he was tired.
“You saved her soul and my life, geez. What more do you want? You’re really hard on Will—yourself. You’re hard on yourself,” Buffy grumbled.
“Yeah, an’ that’s your job. When d’you stake me, Slayer? You could save me the waiting and the burning sensation.”
“I wasn’t planning to. We promised Drusilla. Mary Edith. Whatever, we promised. Don’t you remember?”
“We promised to be kind to one another. It’d be a kindness, you putting me out of this pain.”
Buffy bit her lip. Maybe. “Couldn’t I try something else, first?”
She wracked her brain. “Being there for you, like a friend. Don’t laugh! Or curse. Just listen.” Listen to what? You can’t be friends with Spike!
But I was becoming friends with William Pratt. No, we were friends, that fast.
William is Spike. I’m going insane.
Spike looked at her. “Well?”
“William and I were going to have dinner when this was all over. Write to each other. I mean, it’s silly for us to write, we live in the same town, but… dinner? We could still have dinner?”
Spike opened his mouth to protest that it was completely ludicrous for a brokenhearted Slayer and vampire to have dinner unless her blood was on the menu. But he couldn’t say that. Not in front of Dru, not when he’d promised her.
Buffy read the flash of annoyance under the grief. “I promised her, too. We both did. I… I know it’s weird but I’m going to miss her, too. I wish I could have saved her. Gotten to know her better.”
Something happened to his face. His eyes were wet, but one side of his grim mouth was ticking upward. Sweet Drusilla. Sweet Slayer. Lady Buffy. They could have been friends. He would have been friends with them, the luckiest man in all of England to be seen in the company of two such women.
“I did promise, didn’t I?” he finally murmured.
She nodded. Why do I care if he keeps a promise to her? He’s still evil.
“I always keep the promises I make to a lady. All right, Slayer. Dinner for two, you and me. Tonight?”
“Sure. Should I come to the warehouse or…?”
“It’s got a bloody great hole in it. Not secure anymore. Not light proof, either.” He looked behind him, studying the mausoleum. “This place might do. For now. I can still be near her.”
Buffy nodded. “I get it.” She slowly rose, feeling an odd sense of loss at leaving his side. “Wh-what does dinner consist of? Like, do I go to the slaughterhouse on the way over?”
His damn cheek twitched again, corner hitching up until he had a half-smile. “Drinks are on me, Lady Buffy.”
“I could pick up a pizza?”
Unbidden, the mouth-watering scent of the Watcher’s interrupted dinner came back to him. “Chinese?”
“Sure. Chinese. In a crypt.” Buffy abruptly sat back down.
“What’s wrong?” Spike demanded.
“Oh, nothing. Just my whole life. It’s turned upside down.” Buffy flopped back.
After a minute, he slowly sank back next to her, watching the silent sky.
“Go in before the sun comes up?” she finally asked.
“Come on, William.”
He winced. “This is all buggered up. Slayer trying to keep a vamp alive one more day?”
To be concluded…