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TITLE: One Hundred Forty Seven Ways
AUTHOR: Shrift
E-MAIL: darth_shrift@yahoo.com
SPOILERS: Buffy Season 6, "Bargaining" and "After Life"
RATING: PG. Gen.
SUMMARY: He misses Giles, although he will never vocalize it.
NOTES: Beta by the DRV girls. Thank you, ladies.
DISTRIBUTION: Yes to list archives. Otherwise, please ask.
DISCLAIMER: Joss is Evil. I am not him. But don't you just love the guy?


One Hundred Forty Seven Ways
by Shrift
October 2001

He misses Giles, although he will never vocalize it.

Misses the humid scent of hot tea, misses the accent, misses the odd touch of merry old England to remind him of home.

And he bloody well misses having Rupert about as the resident authority figure.

Spike isn't cut out to be a father.

He tries, for Dawn. For the memory of Buffy, beautiful and crumpled like one of Drusilla's caged birds. Blood smeared on her cheek, and for the first time in his unlife, he hadn't thought about drinking it. For the memory of the one hundred forty seven ways he's saved her in his dreams. He tries for the memory of Joyce, who never should have trusted him, but whom he never killed simply because she did.

Joyce had such a lovely, elegant neck, too.

But he tries, and grits his teeth when he remembers Giles is gone and none of the children ken his references. Rupert's the only one who ever laughed with him.

He is too old and they are too young and Buffy's no longer there to remind him of who she makes him want to be.

They should have told him. They should have told him that Giles was leaving, that Willow was bringing Buffy back.

Not, of course, that Willow would have listened to his opinion. None of them do.

They trust him to watch Dawn, Willow and Xander, but Spike's not real to them. He's the monster who thought he loved Buffy.

If they would bother to ask his opinion these days, he would tell them Giles isn't coming back. It's too much to ask.

Spike wouldn't come back, either, only he's still here.

He's still here because Buffy needs him.

She needs him because he knows.


She sits with him, almost every night. She perches on one of his chairs like it's not quite solid, hands twisted, knuckles healing.

The telly flickers some black and white neither of them are watching. Cary Grant smiles charmingly on the screen.

"I was suffocating," she says suddenly. Her hair is pulled back from her face. His Chinese lanterns are dim, but he could still see her. He just doesn't want to look.

It hurts to know her eyes will never be the same.

"In the coffin?" he asks.

He remembers it, too, thinking he needed air, clawing, scratching, wild. Tight spaces, ever since...

"No."

Spike waits for it.

"All the time now," Buffy says.

She stands up abruptly, doesn't look him him. "I didn't have to breathe there."

She climbs up the ladder. He hears her leave the crypt. And he wonders if she knows what she's doing to him.

Buffy's in hell, and Spike is the only one keeping her company.


"I'm worried about Buffy," Willow says. The frown looks wrong on her face. "I wish she would talk about it."

Tara pets her arm. "Maybe she's not ready?"

"I still think she's permanently traumatized," Anya says. "But as long as she can slay -"

"Anya," Xander says.

"She talks to me," he says, stepping out from the shadows of the shop. Red's eyes flicker down to his hand, but she doesn't tell him to put out his fag.

"She talks to *you*?" Xander demands. He rises from the table, hands clenched.

The sole, sodding male left, and more child than man.

Spike takes a drag. "Who else has been dead in this room? Raise your hand. Don't be shy."

"What's that got to do with anything?" Xander says.

Spike sneers. "Everything. It's got everything to do with it, git." He backs away from the singed table. "Anyone here wants to volunteer to get dead or undead so Buffy can have a new bloody confidante, please, be my guest."

Buffy's standing behind him when he turns to leave.


Dawn's hair is soft and fragrant under his fingers. She smells like chemical flowers and fabric softener, her breath heavy with sleep. Her hand twitches and she rolls over, burying her nose in his thigh.

"I'm sorry," he says.

Buffy steps into Dawn's room. "It's not like you to apologize."

Spike pulls away from Dawn and follows Buffy into the hall. "Sorry for not knocking. Got used to coming and going as I pleased, sitting for Niblet, here."

Her voice is strange when she answers. "You babysat Dawn?"

"Almost every night."

She looks at him then, almost smiling, and it's the first genuine expression on her face he's seen since she died, other than misery.

"I didn't mean it," he blurts.

"Yes you did." Her face is in shadow again. She walks down the stairs.

"Buffy."

She tilts her head. Her shoulder blades are sharper than ever under her Oxford.

If it were any bigger, he'd think it was Riley's. Angel doesn't wear white.

"They kept it from me. I didn't know."

"Would it have made a difference?"

He can't find her an answer before she walks out the front door.


Spike's in the booth for twenty minutes before he realizes he won't be calling Angel.

Chewed gum is stuck to the receiver. It's pink and smells like fake strawberries.

He hangs up the phone and pockets the change he found on the sidewalk.

It's either his latest, best, "Fuck you," to Peaches, or he's beginning to forgive the souled bastard for leaving.

Spike doesn't want to see the expression on Angel's face when someone finally tells him.

He's never been more grateful that he has no reflection.


He wakes to the scent of her blood.

Spike rolls out of bed, Docs hitting the ground with a slap.

Her hand is still clinging to the ladder. A scratch runs across the back, slightly swollen, the edges scarlet.

He rises from his crouch. She flinches when he touches her forearm. "You're cold," she says.

"Yeah."

"Everything's cold."

She stares at a crag in the wall that's stained darker than the rest from his blood. She never brings up the fact that his hand isn't healing. He's absurdly grateful.

He doesn't dream of saving her, anymore.

THE END


Smoking the fannish crack since 1998:
http://bifictionalbedlam.slashcity.tv/


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