Aftershocks - Part Three|
LadyStarlight - November 19, 2002
Author's Note: Yes, I stole a line from Days of Our Unlives. Chocolate covered Spikes to whoever finds it (ha ha, now you have to feedback), and Jess and Donna (Kita?) (not that they'll ever read this), remember: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The poem is titled 'Weep You No More, Sad Fountains' and was attributed to Anonymous in the book I found it in. Thanks to Spikes Pet for the beta, Dead Soul for the beta and technical consult, and Rahael for the English to Canadian translation.
I fumble for the bottle and just manage to pour the last of it into my glass. If I drink enough, perhaps I can forget the sight of her body. She didn't look dead. We all knew, though. I swallow the liquor, trying to drown out the sound of his mourning echoing in my ears with the clink of glass on teeth. I realize now that I did him a disservice. He really loved her. I think back to my conversation with Angel. A vampire in love with the Slayer. That's rather poetic.
Which of course, leads me to think of Jenny. Or Janna, as I suppose her true name was. My head drops back against the chair and I remember her. Her attitude. Soon you will join us in the twentieth century -- with three whole years to spare. The way her hair curved around her cheeks, the way I longed to caress her. The way she gave herself, whole-heartedly, in anything she did. The way Angelus....no. No. I will not think of that night. Think of something else.
Like where I stashed that damned bottle of red ink. I set my glass down on the table and scan the shelves. Ah, yes. Beside Laerdahl's Demonica Vobiscum, bloody useless thing. Not worth the paper and cardboard it's printed on, if you ask me. But every baby Watcher has to buy it. Just like every Watcher is given a bottle of red ink, with the Council seal on the top, when we set out to join our Slayer.
After all, it's not like we couldn't pop out to the nearest Staples and buy red ink, or a red pen, or a red cartridge for a printer nowadays. No, we have to accept the Council ink, because someone's umpty great-grandfather sold a bottle to someone else's umpty great-grandfather and now it's Tradition. I wanted to break the bottle when I broke my other Council ties, but something held me back. Superstition, I suppose. Like the natives used to be about photographs, when the sun never set on the British Empire.
Bottle breaks, so does she.
And yet, the seal is unbroken, the glass uncracked, the ink unused, and her broken body is lying in a winding shroud on my living room couch. If a rose-patterned sheet could properly be called a winding shroud.
The tears come, finally. Spilling down my face as my traitorous mind moves from Jenny's death to Buffy's. And at this penultimate moment of being a Watcher, I cringe at the task that still lies in front of me. Recording the bare facts on fragile paper, in ink the colour of blood. My hand jerks as I reach for the glass beside me. The amber liquid sloshes in the glass, but does not spill. I wipe the tears from my cheeks and break the seal on the bottle. After finishing the scotch, I carefully set the glass down and pull the book towards me. I dip my pen into the ink, lower the pen to the paper and watch the words form.
We engaged Glory and her minions in battle ....
I didn't expect to love her. Oh, I had hopes for a friendly partnership, but to be honest, most Watchers have learned by the time they finish their training that there just isn't time for love. Our pairing, while not the longest, was inching up on the record day by day.
And one can be a perfectly effective Watcher even if one cordially detests one's Slayer. Thornton certainly proved that. Every other sentence in his Diary is a diatribe about his Slayer. Stupid sod.
Of course, the other Watchers never had to plan a funeral in secret. No, they carried their Slayers back to England; nicely forged bits of paper and large sums of money changing hands making everything legal. Shark attack, they would claim. Fall from a cliff -- that was always a good one. Murder - that covered a lot of sins, that one.
I have been searching through my books for something, anything to say at her burial. Not that a summoning spell would be appropriate, but there are volumes of poetry interspersed with the 'fun' books, as Xander would say. The Christian burial service just does not seem to fit, somehow. Horatio at the Bridge strikes the right tone, but I doubt any of us could take eighty-odd stanzas. Emily Dickinson, while speaking volumes about death (and having the added bonuses of being short and American) doesn't fit either.
Now here's a title I vaguely remember from boozy Elizabethan poetry tutorials at University. In fact, I think we argued over this particular one for at least an hour; trying to nail down a reason for the line layout and whether or not it was about anyone in particular. I crack open the dusty binding a little more, tilting it towards the lamp so I can read it without squinting.
Weep you no more, sad fountains; What need you flow so fast? Look how the snowy mountains Heaven's sun doth gently waste. But my sun's heavenly eyes View not your weeping, That now lies sleeping Softly, now softly lies Sleeping.
Sleep is a reconciling, A rest that peace begets. Doth not the sun rise smiling When fair at ev'n he sets? Rest you then, rest, sad eyes, Melt not in weeping, While she lies sleeping Softly, now softly lies Sleeping.
I brush away the stray tear that has gathered and close the book gently, first setting a marker on the page. I start to hope that Joyce and Buffy have found each other by now and are together and at peace.
Black-leather, blond-haired blur heading straight towards my liquor cabinet. Tosser. I knew I should have secreted the good stuff elsewhere.
"So nice to see you, Spike. Would you like a drink?" Ooh, look. Sarcasm back in full force. Why does he bring out the worst in everyone, I wonder.
"Cheers, then, Rupes." With that, the cap of a brand new bottle of scotch hits the floor.
I glance over at the bottle in his hands and have to stifle an expletive. "You are not drinking my Glenfiddich. Find something else. Now."
"Picky, picky. I thought we were mates now."
Why me? When did he become, lord save us, part of the gang? Was it when Xander and I carried his broken, bleeding body into his crypt after Glory? When he pulled up in that horrible motor carriage? When Tara opened the curtains and he simply ... accepted the pain? When Willow said 'frog' and he was in the air before he could say 'how high?'? All that aside, he is still not drinking my Glenfiddich. "Put it back, Spike. And don't forget the cap, either."
"Saved your life tonight, I did." He's pouting. Lord save me, he's pouting.
"Oh, let's see. You show up late for patrol, wander off into the bushes while we're trying to encircle the creature, show up just in time to deal the final blow and that's saving my life? I don't think so. Now put the cap on and put it back!"
He's screwing the cap back on, thankfully. Maybe if I abuse him enough he'll go away and leave me alone for a while.
"Well, could I have a cup of tea, then?" The request is so reasonable I'm automatically moving into the kitchen and filling the kettle before I remember that I want him to go away. I open my mouth to tell him just that when I see the look on his face. He's ... lonely. The rest of them have no compunctions about leaving him with Dawn, or Dawn with him, but he's never included in any other activities other than killing things. We use him when it's convenient; like a sword or a crossbow, then attempt to stuff him back in his box when we're finished.
An unaccustomed stab of ... something hits me and I plug the kettle in. I walk around the kitchen counter and lean back on my telephone table.
"What do you do all day?" Somehow I really want to know this.
He looks down at his hands before he answers. "Sleep some. Watch telly. Read some. Been keeping up with Passions lately?" His eyes are hopeful as he throws out the conversational gambit. Small talk with a vampire. Good Lord, preserve me.
"You'll love this part, really. I'm sitting in this grotty little club in New York, Dru's off somewhere doing something for BatFace with Darla." He leans forward, dangling his glass carelessly between his legs.
"Will you get on with it? Please? I have a business to open in the morning." And yet, I'm pouring another drink.
"Oh, let Little Miss Shopkeeper do it. Prolly keeps her knickers wet all day. So, I'm in this club, right? And this tall fucker stumbles into my table, spills my drink all over me. Naturally, I'm pissed, right? So I stand up, grab him around the throat, put on my game face and I'm just about to ... go for the gusto, when someone says from behind him 'Hey, Joey, c'mon man. Stop fucking around. We got a show to do.' I look around and see this poster on the wall says The Ramones." He finishes his drink and sets the glass down on the table.
"You almost ate Joey Ramone?"
"Yeah, I did. Anyways, he looks at me, and says 'Whoa, your face is really fucked up, man. Have a hit on me --' and hands me some primo acid. Spent the whole rest of the night watching little green men crawl out of the walls."
I catch his eye and suddenly the whole story is incredibly funny. I start laughing so hard I choke on my drink and spray him with Scotch. I hiccup my way to a stop and watch him wipe his face. I can see how angry he is and the only thing I can think to say is, "I don't have any acid."
He looks up at me and just stares for a second.
"Didn't think you did. But I think you can break out the good stuff now." He's grinning even as he wipes his hand off on my couch.
I find myself working with Spike more and more these days. We plan out patrols, map out strategies for dispatching the larger beasts that turn up and sometimes swap tales of our mis-spent youths over a pint.
Willow likes to take command when she comes out with us. Standing up on top of a crypt and yammering on in our heads until we feel like bashing ourselves in the head with a rock to make her shut up.
It was much easier when Buffy was here. Everyone was matched then; Xander and Anya, Willow and Tara, Buffy and myself. Between the two of us, we overruled everyone. More and more, the only one who listens to me is Spike. Which in itself is just about to drive me to drink.
Once Buffy was gone, all my antagonism towards him just ... went away. He's trying to help and I can't bring myself to turn him away when he shows up for patrol. I know and he knows and he knows that I know that more times than I can count, he's saved us. His strength, his speed. Which doesn't sit well with Xander, but until he grows his own superpowers, he'll have to cope.
I've been thinking about going home. Home to England and fish and chips, good lager, and rain. There's too much sun here. Too many petite blondes walking down the street. I'm starting to feel like Humbert Humbert, staring after so many young females. But I can't stop myself. Every time I see a flash of blond hair, I look. I have to. Hope springs eternal and all that rot.
Anya would have no problem with taking over. In fact, she's probably got a file of Reasons Why Giles Should Go Away and Let Me Run the Store. Alphabetized and subdivided by importance.
Day One Hundred and Eight
Ow. I don't want to be the one who gets knocked out anymore.
It wasn't Spike's fault. I was the one who told him to circle behind the crypt. I honestly didn't think that such a small demon could hit so hard. And I had the dagger that Willow and Tara enchanted; the whole thing should have been a cakewalk.
Instead, the bloody little thing hit me from behind. In the knees, which of course pitched me forward into a gravestone, hence, the knocking out.
When I came to, Spike was half-carrying me back to my place, muttering imprecations about over the hill shopkeepers in my ear.
"'M not over the hill."
"Right, that's why I'm carrying you home. You think you've got a concussion?"
I took an inventory of where and how much things hurt. "No, don't think so."
"Good. Too far to carry you to the hospital anyways."
"What happened to your car?"
"You try leaving a car in a graveyard in this bloody town. Goddamn little Harshik demons stole it then tried to sell it back to me. Didn't have any money for gas anyways."
I suddenly wonder just how Spike is paying for things. I think he feels me tense up, because he pauses for just a second, then starts ranting about how I'm too old to be out patrolling and should be back at the house taking care of Dawn and so forth and so on.
I dig in my heels and make him stop. "Spike, do you need money? How are you paying for things?" I take a rather unsteady step backwards so I can watch his face.
He steps back and looks at the ground. "Grvbbing." He looks up, his face half defiant, just begging me to find something wrong with this, and half ashamed. Like he didn't want to admit it.
"What? Maybe I do need to go to the hospital. I thought you said 'grave-robbing'."
"Did. But just enough to get by."
For some reason, I am extremely disappointed by this for a minute. However, it is a practical way for a vampire to survive and a non-violent solution, which does impress me a little.
"Well. I suppose that's marginally better than running around town trying to scare people out of their money."
He still looks ashamed, which is something I never thought I'd see. "Come on. If you say you're sorry, I'll let you carry me the rest of the way home."
He rolls his eyes at that, but ducks under my arm once again and we make our halting progression towards home.
Day One Hundred and Forty-Six
I can't help feeling that Willow is planning something. Something that she shouldn't. Too many whispered conversations, breaking off when I come into view.
Too many 'special orders' that Anya snatches out of my hands before I can pull the wrapping away.
Too many hours spent on the computer, heads moving to block the screen when I walk by.
Too many secrets.
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