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TITLE: Bloody Epic
AUTHOR: Sarah Ellen Parsons
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, just keep my name attached.
SPOILER WARNING: Everything through Season 5 "Tough Love".
CLASSIFICATION: Vignette, Spike-philosophy.
SUMMARY: Spike thinks he might go back to writing.
FEEDBACK: If you like.
THANK YOU: To Kelly Keil and Jennifer Oksana for beta and David Hearne for suggesting I put in bits of the poem. To Cofax and Magdelena for stalking. To Jonquil and LJC for telling me where to put it. Bonus points to anyone who identifies the poets I riffed on from such small fragments.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of it. In Joss We Trust. I'm making no money.

...I know it's a source of pride for you
To trace the background of it all
And tell me all the different poets
I ripped off today...
        Cold Hands, Warm Heart - Evil Genius

Bloody Epic
By Sarah Ellen Parsons

It makes me want to bloody write poetry again, is what it does. Or write bloody poetry. Something like that.

But this time it wouldn't be the love-struck mooning of a parlour-sitting dilettante. No, this time it would be epic. Because no soggy sonnet or finely-crafted hymn to Venus or carpe diem plea to drop your knickers and shag could even scratch the surface of what it feels like to be part of this. And I am part of it, even though that makes no rational sense.

I'd better get a call in to the muse Calliope. Not my usual girl. But maybe, if she exists, she'll smile on me this once. Get me started in the right direction. Get the jumble sorted out. I haven't set my hand to it for a while now, but that might only mean I've gotten better. Lord knows, I've learned a lot since then--read more--lived more, too. Lived more than any mortal poet, for damned sure. And this needs to be a very different kind of poem.

There hasn't been one like this since Homer, or maybe Ovid. Ovid was Roman, so he's later.

But this one won't be about the wine-dark sea, not unless you're talking about a sea of blood. My poem will have buckets of it, at least, maybe a sea by the time it's done. I just hope it won't be mine.

I know an epic poem when I see one unfolding in front of me. But I wonder what Homer or Ovid or Virgil would have made of us. Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, Anya, Tara, Spike-- hardly have the ring of heroes in the names. Nothing so grand as Odysseus or Achilles, Paris or Cassandra, are they? Dawn's the only one, though we'd have to call her Aurora to make it sound impressive enough for an epic.

And yet it is us. And we've got to fight just like those old-fashioned buggers, and just like some of them we've got to take on a god. Not a great god like Zeus or Odin, but a little goddess who likes wearing trashy slip-dresses and tarty high-heeled shoes. But even a little god is more than ordinary mortals should have to face, or even ordinary vampires. I knew that when she was crushing my bones.

Bone crushing's dramatic all right. And dramatic's what you need for a rip-snorting epic poem. I mean, there I was, quite done in, barking back in the goddess' face like... like a pathetic little terrier, actually. But it won't go in the poem like that. It will be more... epic. Like a hero. 'Cause I'm the one that's writing it, and I can be a hero if I want. A vampire hero facing down a god.

...The vampire, O Muse, inform, that many a blow Did suffer which Glory the Bitch-Goddess did throw But did he break before her great assault And tell her of the Key, and cry up to the vault Of Heaven, high above, deaf to his pleas As Glory and minions brought him to his knees Not so, the vampire stalwart stood Though more than a century removed from the good He did not break, but against them held his ground Despite receiving many a grievous wound...

Damn, it IS dramatic.

And I escaped, too, quite on my own. The Slayer and the Scoobies distracted her, of course, but I was already on my way out. And not the way that she'd intended. It would make a great first book for the epic.

Except it really needs to start with Dawn.

Dawn's the Key.

And she's the reason Glory's after us at all.

Dawn's our Helen, I think. The reason all the wheels are set in motion, but innocent enough for all that. She can't help being what she is any more than I... She's a good kid. And she's real enough for me. Real enough to die for, anyway.

That should be part of the poem as well. It's something that the epic writers nearly all forget. Except for Spenser and for Byron. Or maybe Tennyson. They're all so concerned about recounting deeds of derring-do or naming down the casualty list of such and such a battle, that they forget the thing that makes men fight in the first place. Or makes most men fight, at any rate.

What is that thing? It's the worst reason anybody's ever had for anything, yet it's the one thing we all seem to have in common, even when we're dead. Love.

...The Slayer and companions fight Wicked forces of the night And face the evil Glory's might So the world she may not blight Or fill with slimy demon spawn; So the brave companions go Facing down their mighty foe To shield the innocent below The Key, who is our Dawn.

Madness, Glory's weapon dread She sticks her fingers in their head And then we tie them to their bed Upon their brains the goddess fed How easily are mortals led; To their destruction. They cannot stand 'Gainst Goddess Glory and her band Who wish at last to take in hand The Key, who is our Dawn...

Maybe Calliope isn't my only muse this time, either. Though I don't believe that any romance that might be happening here is epic, at least not in the classical sense. And it's not romance, exactly, anyway. It's all kinds of love that this is about. Even if the love is all in our heads and we've only known Dawn half a year.

Where else would love be, anyway? It's surely in our heads. My heart stopped beating more than a hundred years ago, but my decisions are as bad as ever. You'd think I'd have learned by now. I'm a soulless vampire, ain't I?

But that's the thing that none of them explained, not Angel, not Darla, not Dru. How is it that we can have no souls but still feel all the things we felt when we were still alive? It turns that whole notion of good and bad right 'round on its head. If Love is good, then how can I still feel it? If Friendship is good, then why do I still want it? If I'm a soulless thing, then why am I still me?

That part doesn't go in the poem. It's nobody's business.

But Love will surely be a theme. It deserves a theme there, right along with Death.

And maybe Madness as well. Glory's surely a mad god. She's turned a few others mad as well, maybe all of us in some ways. I'm immortal and I still can't see the whole picture.

But then, who can? I can only tell my part of the story. Show my snapshot of the whole picture.

I wish I'd brought some paper with me. Or maybe that Dawn had. She's supposed to be in school, isn't she?

That kid spends more of her time in crypts than any kid should, and that's the truth of it. But it doesn't seem to have scarred her or anything. I mean, you don't see her headin' off to the school yard with her mum's revolver or a handy pipe bomb in her book bag. Of course, if she really needed one, I could show her how to make it. But only if she really needed it.

I wish I had a fag, but I'm out and I'm stuck here with the kid until Buffy says it's ok. Feel like a damned mole or a rat maybe -- trapped.

I never get used to it. No matter how nice I fix 'em up. Living underground just isn't the same. It's always damp and clammy, even in summer. Or California.

But the Underworld is epic, isn't it? I could put it in my poem, too. Spike, like Hades from the Underworld takes on Glory, goddess of... of... Bad Fashion Sense. Well that, and stark staring lunacy.

Her fists were hard enough, though. Glad my cheekbone popped back into place. Really a lucky thing, that. Can't imagine where I'd have been able to have it fixed. Not too many doctors that'll work on vampires.

But I, Spike, Lord of the Underworld, Undead Champion of... of what, really? Keeping my damned mouth shut? It's not like I kicked her arse, is it? Got in a few good remarks and that was about the best of it, not really epic material.

...From out the crypt the vampire rose A soulless slave of need so dark Condemned eternal to the night With demons, he served the mortals ill. 'Till Love his soul did sore beset And make him act like one possessed He faced the Goddess all alone And kept the Truth that he did know All buried deep within his heart While she did crack his bones...

But Buffy was epic, rushing in to save the day with the Scoobies running behind. Just like always.

Not that it worked.

And how do I explain the other one, the robot? If you try to talk about it, it seems rather sordid.

I wish I had her back.

But I can leave that out of the epic. It's mine, after all. And that's just complicated and a digression. It pays to stick to the point when you're writing something.

But the kiss stays in. Oh yes. She wants me.

She pretends she doesn't. But I had her number a long time ago. It wasn't anything to do with Angel. He's a bit of an arsehole, after all. Even she knows that. Can't know the bastard more than five minutes without seeing the glaring self-absorption and the wanna-be-the-hero-of-a-Bronte-novel wounded tragic bullshit. As though gettin' cursed wasn't his own damned fault for being a sadistic evil bastard. And he still spends most of his time jerkin' everyone around for his own ego-gratification. If the Powers That Be have some redemption plan in mind, it's going to take him a mighty long time since he can't seem to learn the simple fact that it's not All About Him.

Me, I'm more of a team player.

So that makes me better, and a damned sight better for her. No, it really does. I realize there are other entities in the world. That makes me a damned sight more fit than Angel ever was.

And Buffy's got a thing for vampires. Not just Angel, but vampires. And it isn't so much that she just wants to kill us, not those of us who are good at it, anyway. We fascinate her. We draw her. And we don't have to do anythin' special in order to do that, either.

Maybe she just has a penchant for guys who wear black, but I think it's more than that. A lot more. I think she secretly wants to be one of us and not in a Goth poser sort of way like most of the others in her generation. I think she's drawn to something primal in the vampire soulless soul. I think she wants to join. I can tell it when she looks at me sometimes. It's something so much more than bloodlust. It's a kind of covetousness that only the greatest lovers show for the ones that they adore. Maybe it's why I've gone so mad for her.

One day I think we'll have our dance, but it won't end like it did with the others, no. I'll drink from her and then she'll drink from me. She'll look right in my eyes and she'll know what it means and I bet she licks up every drop until we're truly one. I wonder what that would do. Make the Slayer a vampire? How will the Powers That Be react to that little turn of events, eh? What would that make her to them then? Would she still be their chosen, or would she lose it when she died? Whatever happened, that would be one hell of a good day, probably my best one ever, my greatest challenge and best reward.

There's somethin' elegant about killing when you're a vampire. The stalk, the introduction, the dance-I just don't see the fun in it if the person on the other end is merely a victim. There's got to be something in it for them, too, or it's like eatin' at McDonalds, a whole lot of unsatisfying crap that might fill you up but doesn't do you any good. The screaming and begging and crying is just annoying. I like the ones that fight. Angel and Darla never understood that. Maybe that's why the Slayers always came to me instead.

This one'll come in time. I just have to wait.

But I won't kill this one. This one's a keeper. And that's an epic quality, indeed.

I'm not certain how I'll capture the Slayer in the poem. She's a jumbled ball of contradictions. Probably why she's so fascinating.

...She is the Slayer: not just a pretty girl, Like any you might see upon the street, Chosen vessel of the power unfurled A greater champion never could you meet, My heart, she's set it in a whirl, Her flying blows do set my mind to yearning, And one day soon to me she will be turning.

Her name is Buffy, blessed with hair like gold, With eyes so blue and skin so fair and fine, She's very dishy, if truth is to be told, And soon I think that she will be all mine, I'll woo her and she'll see that I'm so bold, We'll start our dance so lethal and sublime We'll make it last forever, we have time....

Here she is with this title and this huge, epic job and yet, she's just some former cheerleader from California, just a kid with too much responsibility. Well, a woman, now, I suppose. She'd better be with Joyce gone and a little sis to watch over.

I miss Joyce. She'll be in the poem, too, I think. Maybe some benevolent spirit to watch over us all. We could certainly use one. At least she'll be a motivating force. She is a motivating force. It's interesting how people keep affecting your life, even when they're gone, isn't it?

So the Slayer fresh from the tragic death of her mother, faces down the mighty goddess to protect her only family--the pseudo-sister Dawn.

Except Dawn's not a pseudo anything, she's as real as me, poor kid. Might be better off if she was less real, actually. At least she wouldn't be sitting there all mopey-like on that rock and staring into space. Makes her look a bit like Dru, and I wouldn't wish that insanity on anybody. I could barely handle it, myself. And I can handle more'n most. I've worked damned hard at that.

So I've got some of the themes for this thing, Love and Death and War and Blood. I suppose I should throw in Honor there, too, just to make a stab at convention. But I don't know what honor has to do with this.

Glory's not anybody's gig. The Slayer slays vampires, not gods. Vampires kill humans to live. Humans kill one another for fun and profit. Watchers watch Slayers. And ex-demons, apparently, grub for cash. Where would honor possibly come in?

...A tale of bravery, my Muse will now begin, Of vaunted heroes, companions theye so bolde, Their Honor, t'was pledged to war and win, 'Gainst Goddess Glory, they their grounde would holde, From a dimension fell and blacke and colde, A mad diety like nothing in the bookes, Kept by the Watchers never to be solde, She was obsessed with her immortal lookes, Though fashion-sense and sanity she forsooke.

The Heroes did conceale from her the Key, In mortal form entrapped, a sweet younge thing, The Goddess did refuse to let them be, And to their doore the warre did Glory bring, And with their cries the air did ringe, As Dawn was quickely carried out the doore The Goddess, she was madde as anything Thus thwarted, she came after them once more To take the Key now was her only chore...

We won't get notches on our belts or bedposts for this one. We won't go down in history because no one will ever know. And epic poems are written off as fiction.

Yet, we'll still do it. Whatever it takes. We'll all show up and face Glory down in some truly epic display of hubris and hope that other, bigger gods choose to smile on our display and give us a hand up so we don't all go down in flames. Hand up so we don't go down, I like that bit. It definitely goes in.

And what will bring us all to face her? It won't be Honor. I haven't had that in forever, and while I like a fight, I generally pick the ones I have a hope of winning. No. What will take us all, Scoobies, Watcher, Little Girls, Demons, Vampires, Lesbians and Slayer to the brink of our own destruction is the most epic thing of all.

I don't think I'll spell it out for 'em. Makes it more interestin' that way. I'll let the readers draw their own conclusions, like Robert Browning or Poe. I can do that. It's just finding things that rhyme. That's always my problem.

Kid's up and wandrin' and I'm supposed to watch her. Lucky my eyes aren't swollen shut any more. I'll have to think about this later, when I can find a pencil or somethin'.

Or maybe a proper pen, seein' it's an epic.

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