Lady Starlight - June 15 2002
With thanks to Humanitas for the history bit.
I reach for his hand as we stand in a rough semi-circle around the coffin. Tara has one arm around Dawn and the other around Willow. Spike is standing off to one side, away from all of us. We would have had the funeral in the daytime, but Dawn threw a tantrum worthy of a baby Tulpas demon, so it’s dark. She wanted him here, but she can’t look at him yet.
But then, he can’t look at her either. He came to see me in the hospital. I think he thought I was asleep, I mean, it was 2 in the morning. The painkillers hadn’t quite kicked in yet, although the pain was really far away. I wouldn’t have even known he was there, except that his coat made a funny sound on the chair seat.
When I opened my eyes, he looked embarrassed. I managed to croak out a hello and asked him what he was doing here.
“Creature of the night, remember? It’s night, I’m a creature,” he pulled out a cigarette and looked at it. He mumbled the rest of the sentence, “’sides, can’t sleep.”
I hitched myself a little higher on the pillows and said, “You can’t smoke in here. The nurses will catch you and besides, it’s gross.”
“You alright, then?” He kept his eyes on the cigarette, rolling it back and forth between his fingers.
“I think so. They say I can probably go home tomorrow, they just want to soak my HMO for the cost of the bed.” He snorted at that. “Well, they didn’t come out and say that last part, but I watch the news, I know these things.”
“Yeah. Well, then.” He just kept on rolling the cigarette between his fingers. “Er, how’s Dawn?”
“She’s home. Doc didn’t cut her too deeply so we thought she could just…” I noticed how his face screwed up when I mention Doc. “I mean, she’s fine.”
“Good.” He stood up, and I saw that he was still all weird from falling off the tower. The nurse left some of my painkillers beside my bed. I thought it was an accident, or maybe she was one of those ‘angels of mercy’ you can read about in the newspapers. Well, Xander says they’re not really newspapers if they’re sold at the checkout counter of the supermarket, but I don’t see a big difference. Paper, ink and news make a newspaper, as far as I’m concerned. I reached over to the paper cup and handed it to Spike. “Here. I can get more. I made Giles pay for full drug coverage.”
He took the cup from me and swallowed the pills before I could hand him the plastic glass of water on the table. “Ta, luv.”
As he limped out the door, I said, “Don’t mix them with alcohol.”
He looked back over his shoulder and said, “Too late,” just before the door closed.
The smell of the flowers we bought for Buffy's grave brings me back to the present. I glance over at Spike quickly. He's standing a little straighter now, but he's still not normal. I can see he's been crying. He looks like Xander does, all manly and 'no crying allowed' here. I never noticed how white he was before now. I don't think he's eaten since before we all went to the tower.
Giles says a poem in a trembly voice that starts most of us crying. Willow falls to her knees halfway through the poem and Tara sinks down beside her. Dawn is just staring straight ahead, like she’s willing herself somewhere else. Xander’s hand tightens on my arm until I’m not sure if I’m crying because Buffy’s dead or because it hurts where he’s holding me.
Giles finishes reading and there is silence for a minute. I fumble in my purse for a Kleenex to stop the tears from dripping off my nose and Spike is beside Dawn. He doesn’t touch her, or even look at her, but he’s there, just the same.
There are only two shovels sticking up out of the dirt from the grave and I wonder who’s going to shovel the dirt on top of her coffin. I don’t want Giles to have a heart attack or anything; he’s pretty old, after all. He makes a move towards the pile of dirt and Willow looks up and mumbles something I think might be Etruscan. Anyways, the dirt just flows back into the hole like a waterfall. It’s really kind of pretty, in an odd way.
Her eyes go all black and spooky and she makes a gesture that makes grass appear on top of the dirt. Maybe if this demon-slaying thing doesn’t work out, she can hire herself out to the undertakers.
I think it’s the grass that does Dawn in. She takes one sobby breath and then another. Spike puts a tentative hand on her shoulder and she leans against him and starts crying. He puts his arm around her and they just stand there. I’ve never been in a cemetery at night before where we weren’t trying to kill something. It’s really kind of peaceful here.
Until Spike disentangles himself from Dawn and passes her over to Giles. I can just hear him say “Get them out of here. I’ll take care of this,” before he limps off into the darkness, grabbing an axe from behind a tree. I start to tug Xander towards the cars, so we can go home and not have to be brave tonight. I don’t want to be brave anymore, I want to go home and be safe behind a closed door with Xander.
He touches me for the first time since, well, since our world tilted off its axis. His hands are rough, desperate. He drags his mouth across my skin and I try to keep up with him. He is ready much, much sooner than I am, and it hurts a little when he enters me. But I don’t mind. This is not making love, this is ‘someone I loved is dead, and I need to feel again’. I saw a lot of this when I was a vengeance demon.
Sometimes I even caused it.
So I don’t mind if he doesn’t see me when he looks at me. I don’t mind if, for the first time, he forgets about my pleasure. His body convulses in pleasure, even as his face is contorted in grief. Tears are leaking out from his closed eyes, trickling down his cheeks and falling on my upturned face.
They don’t really taste like salt.
They don’t really taste like anything at all.
Willow’s eyes are desperate; her voice pleads with us. “What if…what if she’s trapped in a hell dimension? Like Angel? We have to get her out.”
I look from Tara back to Xander. They aren’t saying anything. “But, but, we’re handling the Slaying, right? And you fixed the sexbot so the bad guys won’t know about Buffy…”
Xander stands up so abruptly his chair falls over. I wince and eye it for potential damages. “Anya!” His voice is still rough with grief.
“What? It’s true. Oh, it’s not really fixed, I mean, it still thinks Spike is its boyfriend, but Willow can work on that lat—” I stop and look around at everyone’s face. Why is everyone always so mad at me? It’s been two months, shouldn’t it start to pass by now? I mean, I’m sad she’s dead and all, but life goes on, doesn’t it? We could announce our engagement, give everyone something happy to think about.
He walks over to the bookcase and runs a finger along the spines for a minute. “But she’s dead, Willow.” His voice is so soft; I can barely hear it.
“I was looking through one of the new spell books that Giles got in and there’s a chapter about mystical deaths. Buffy died because of magical energy. We could bring her back and it would be fine.” Her voice has a thin edge of hysteria to it that I wonder if anyone else notices.
Tara speaks up. “We’ve talked about this, sweetie. Resurrecting the dead is a big no-no.” She reaches out for Willow’s hand. Willow turns toward Xander then. “So why was the spell written? Why was the Urn of Osiris made?” No one really has an answer for that one.
“We could do it.” She looks at each of us in turn. “We could get her out of the torments she’s suffering. I looked it up. Awful things could be happening to her and we could stop that.”
“Giles won’t be back from talking to the Watc—“
“NO!” She shrieks it. We all cover our ears. “We can’t tell Giles. Or Dawn. Or Spike. They wouldn’t understand. They can’t know. Just us.”
I nod my head in agreement. Anything you say, Willow, just don’t yell like that again. Xander has a slightly poleaxed look on his face, but he agrees too. Tara is not looking happy, but finally she nods once.
Willow pulls out a piece of paper from her pocket and starts listing off the ingredients. From force of habit, I start adding the prices in my head. When I get over four hundred dollars, I stop her. “Who’s going to pay for this?”
“Money? How can you think of money at a time like this?” Willow’s voice is filled with scorn. “But then, that’s all you think about, isn’t it?” She gets up from her chair and walks over to the cash register. “Oh, look at me. I used to be a Vengeance Demon, but now I just want money.” She hits the button that makes the drawer pop open. “Look at all my money.” She grabs a fistful of bills and rubs them across her face. Her eyes look wild over the dusty green of the bills. “Money isn’t everything, Anya.” She drops them on the floor and steps on them on her way back to her chair.
I wait for a second, just to see if Xander’s going to step in, try and defuse whatever-it-is that happens between Willow and me more and more often these days. I think he’s tired of it, and we’ve talked about it more than once, but it just keeps happening. I don’t know what to do. Nobody will tell me anything. It’s worse than when Joyce died, at least other people understood. This we have to keep a secret.
He doesn’t say anything, just turns back to the books. I resist the urge to throw the duster at him. If he’s going to stand there, might as well do something useful. Because, goodness knows, Slaying? He’s not so good at it. We’d all be dead a hundred times over if it wasn’t for Spike. Between slaying and Dawn- sitting, I think he’s busier now that when he was plotting with Adam. I don’t know why Spike doesn’t get any credit for what he does. He’s very good at fighting, and sometimes he’s the only one who can get Dawn to come out of her room.
I think Giles is starting to see him differently. There’s been some nights when the level on the bottle of Scotch he keeps hidden in his desk drawer has dropped considerably, and there’s been two glasses in the sink. So unless Giles has started setting out a glass for the leprechauns, I think they’ve been acting like one of those cop movies.
Willow’s back to listing off the ingredients for the spell. When she gets to the Urn of Osiris, I can’t help snorting. Back to the glares. God, at least Buffy would listen before she shot you down. Willow just thinks that everything she says is gospel. One of these days, I’m going to have to have a talk with Xander about how his brain turns off when Willow opens her mouth.
“You have something to add?”
“The last Urn of Osiris was broken by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in 1291, the last Crusade.” I shrug my shoulders. “Sorry, but that’s the way it is. I was there to curse a Knight with eternal leprosy.” I stop and think for a minute. “Mostly of the penis, if I remember correctly. That was a hard one, it’s not easy to curse a penis with leprosy and not have it spread…”
“Anya, if I wanted to know this, I’d pick up a copy of Vengeance Demons for Dummies, I’m sure your picture would be on the cover.” She turns away from me and pulls a book from her bag.
I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be an insult or not, but I decide to just let it go. Besides, it made Xander and Tara smile. Xander comes back over and sits down beside me and takes my hand, so it can’t be that bad. Willow’s flipping through the book, looking for something, probably to prove me wrong. I guess everyone needs a hobby, right?
She finally finds it on the last page and reads it out. “Inscribed by my hand, this 20th day of May, Year of Our Lord 1657.” She slams the book shut, shedding a bunch of little bits of parchment. I start to give her the lecture on “Care and Handling of Really, Really, Really Old Books” that Giles gave me when I started, but decide that it would just start another fight, and I’m getting tired.
Tara speaks up. “Anya, are you sure that 1291 was when the last Urn was broken?”
“That’s what the knight said. And excruciating pain tends to bring out the truthfulness in people.”
“Well, if what’s-his-face wrote the book almost 400 years later, it probably wasn’t. We can find it and bring Buffy back.” Willow is resting her hand on the book, rubbing her fingers over the cover. “We can do it. I can do it.”
I still think it’s a major mistake, but I’m outvoted. I’m starting to realize why dictatorships are attractive, if not conducive to capitalism. Willow hands me the sheet of paper and I start checking off the items I know we’ve got, or are going to get in.
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Two
I clap my hands over my mouth to stifle my squeals of shock. Contacts for magickal objects on all seven continents, a Rolodex filled with addresses, and where is the Urn of Osiris found? Ebay. I love America.
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