Senka poked at his food, pushing the cooked veggies and thin strips of beef around on his plate with a fork. He’d made the meal himself, insisting on it when Tara had tried to be the one to cook. It was more Rehva’s thing than his, but he wasn’t exactly terrible at it and it had helped him feel closer to her while she was off doing… whatever it was she was doing right now. Which wasn’t killing. Senka knew that much, at least, and wasn’t really worried about his girlfriend now that she was both conscious and able to defend herself. He just missed her.
It’s only been a couple of hours, he reminded himself. A couple of hours since Rehva had run off to get her head together while Senka calmed everyone down. Willow had been freaking out about Rehva killing people, and Dawn had been freaking out because she thought Rehva was gone for good. But she wasn’t. She’d probably be out for the entire night, but then she’d either come to the house or go to the crypt for the day. They’d meet up and snuggle while trying to figure out their future together in this dimension. And maybe figure what to do about Mom.
Mom wanted to come home, but…. Well, talking about gutting the nurse with a trout and stuffing her with cornbread and cranberries wasn’t exactly the sanest thing ever. But it would be okay. Rehva had been with a crazy person before, so she’d know what to do. Once she was back and they’d had snuggle time, they’d get Mom and take care of her and –
“I, uh, I got all of your assignments while you were gone,” Willow suddenly said into the silence, smiling brightly. “And, and I took notes for you, in the classes we share.”
Classes? Notes? What? Senka stared blankly for a moment, trying to figure out what she was talking about. That apparently wasn’t the right response. Willow’s smile faltered while Dawn and Tara just sort of sat there looking awkward.
“I can help you study. Get you right back into the swing of things, it’ll be eas–”
“Sweetie,” Tara interrupted gently, “I don’t think… Senka is up to dealing with classes right now.”
Oh. Right. He’d been a student at the local college before…. He didn’t like thinking about before. He’d been a slave and now he wasn’t and…. He stood up abruptly, food barely touched.
“Where are you going?” Dawn asked, her voice a little shrill.
He forced himself to offer her a smile. “Not hungry anymore, and, um, I’m kind of tired. Could you wash up?”
Dawn swallowed and nodded jerkily. She was kind of pale and her eyes looked a little too large for her face. Poor kid. She’d been through a lot. It had only been a few days for her since they’d found out what was wrong with Mom, and then there was all the key stuff. He should try to comfort her. He knew that, but he couldn’t seem to make himself do it. Everything was strange here. All of his routines had been disrupted and right now was about when he and Rehva would usually go to bed. He needed to….
He murmured a thanks to Dawn, then fled up the stairs.
Dawn fought back tears as she rinsed and dried the dishes. Tara was washing them and silently fuming over the argument she’d had with Willow after Buffy had gone to bed. There had been a lot of weirdly quiet yelling about magic, and then Willow had stormed off to do some kind of research. Her parents had done stuff like that. The whispered, hissing yells as they tore into each other while trying to not be overheard. But she and Buffy had heard most of it anyway….
Except they hadn’t. Or, well, she hadn’t. There hadn’t been a they, because she wasn’t real. She wasn’t real, but she felt real. She felt like a real girl with a sick mother and a sister who was all weird from some kind of serious trauma. A real girl who had been told she wasn’t. She wanted to scream and cry and insist it was all a horrible dream, that she was real and always had been. She was real. She was real and she had to be strong for Mom and Buffy. Because she was real and she….
A plate fell from her hand and shattered against the floor. It was too much. It was all just too much, and she started to cry, heaving, wracking sobs that felt like they were going to rip her apart.
Then warm arms, the hands still soapy, suddenly wrapped around her, drawing her into a hug.
Dawn gave up any attempt at being strong and just let herself cry as Tara murmured soft words of comfort.
He stared down into his drink as if the secrets of the universe would be revealed if he just watched long enough. He’d fall into the depths and become one with the music of the spheres, everything opened up for him in a cosmic orgy of understanding….
Spike shook his head with a snort and downed his drink. Bugger all that rot. Seemed right boring, it did, having all the answers. Would be nice to have some sort of understanding of himself, though, wouldn’t it? He’d gone through six years as a bloody slave and it was getting back home that had him the most unsure of himself.
Hadn’t got around to bleaching it just yet, but he’d cut his hair, and he was back into usual tight, black jeans. He should have felt more himself, but instead, everything just seemed… off.
God, he felt almost as adrift as when he’d got the bloody chip stuffed into his noggin. The sodding thing was out now! He ought to have been seducing some sweet little honey off into a dark corner so he could drain her dry. If he was careful, Senka would never know. Assuming Senka would even still want him now they were back home. Eventually, he’d go back to being Buffy. And yeah, Buffy had fallen for him, but that had been in another world, far from the judging eyes of her mates. She’d heal here, and that was a bloody good thing, but would she want him after?
Cecily, Dru, Buffy. No one ever wanted to keep him. He just wanted to be kept. Was that too much to sodding ask?
“Hey there, hot stuff,” a woman said, cutting into his maudlin thoughts.
Spike glanced up at her. She was a pretty thing, long chestnut locks, dark eyes a fella could lose himself in, and face made up just right to enhance her delicate features. She was a hungry thing. He could feel it coming off of her in waves. The need for attention. Just a look and he could have her eating out his hand like a little bird. So easy, and the temptation was there….
“Sod off,” he said shortly before signaling to the bartender for a refill.
“I said sod off,” he repeated.
Maybe Senka would never know, but he would. Spike would know that he’d betrayed the person he loved, and that wasn’t part of who he was. He felt something settle inside of him at that thought. Everything was strange and confusing, but no matter how he reinvented himself, one thing remained the same. He was, ever and always, love’s bitch.
The garden is sleeping. The thought whispered through Senka’s mind as he stood beside one of Lady Sasszan’s fallow vegetable gardens.
“Spring will come soon, though, won’t it?” Rehva said, coming to stand beside him.
Her body was different now, showing the curve of hips and the swell of breasts that her body had lacked for whatever reason. A quick look showed that Senka’s own body was different, too. He was a man in form as well as spirit. It should have been strange, but it just felt right and natural. This was who he was. This was who Rehva was.
“It will, but the potatoes will never grow here,” he said. The words spilled out on their own, without any input from him, but he had a vague idea of what they meant. So many potatoes, but all part of the same plant. There was something there. Something….
“Then let’s go elsewhere, shall we, pet?”
They walked together, and the world changed after a few steps, becoming one of the Sunnydale cemeteries. There was another him there, this one with a female body. He… she?… was surrounded by dozens of vampires, including a vamped out male Rehva. They ran at each other, coming together in a clash of fist and fang and stake, moving in a primal dance of death. It was terrible and beautiful. Repellent and enticing. Senka found himself licking his lips and shivering with sudden desire while putting himself between it all and Rehva, trying to keep her safe.
Finally, after a moment that lasted eons, it ended with the stake pressed to that Rehva’s (Spike. She… he’s Spike. And that’s Buffy) chest while his fangs were centimeters from piercing Buffy’s throat. They stood there, still as statues, before suddenly bursting into motion again. They fought together then against the other vampires, moving as two parts of a beautiful, savagely graceful whole.
Senka swallowed hard and turned away from the violence, Rehva following by his side. They were still in the cemetery, but the steps and front of her old high school, Hemery, were there, too. A young Buffy sat on the steps in a cheerleader outfit, innocent and contemplating a lollipop. There was a Spike there, too, sitting beside her while reading out loud from a book of poetry. A pair of stuffed piggies sat comfortably in his lap.
Senka took a step towards them, but the feral vampire Spike rushed past and attacked the one of the stairs, piercing him and drawing him inside, flesh and bone and muscle along with blood. The innocent girl Buffy just watched the entire thing, eyes wide with curiosity instead of horror.
When he was done, the vampire stood up and wiped his mouth before regarding Senka with bright blue eyes looking out of a human face. Danger and violence married to sensitivity and gentleness. He slowly held out his hand, but not to Senka.
“No,” Senka whispered, voice tight with fear as Rehva moved towards Spike. “No, you can’t. Please! I… I don’t want to be alone.”
Rehva stopped and tilted her head slightly before reaching out to stroke his cheek. “Never happen, love. For every part of you, there’s a part of me. Don’t really matter if it’s all or one, does it?”
Then she moved away and into Spike’s embrace. He was almost tender as his fangs sank into the soft skin of her throat and they merged into one. Spike changed again, a slight change of his stance that added a hint of femininity without really making him any less masculine. His eyes changed too, the intensity subtly enhanced by just the right amount of makeup.
All or one. Rehva or Spike, it didn’t matter, there would always be someone for….
Cheerleader Buffy stood, leaving the safety of the high school steps to be in the graveyard, Slayer Buffy suddenly right there beside her. They held hands before reaching their free ones out towards Senka. All he had to do was take them in his own. Just take a step towards them and….
Her eyes slowly drifted open. She was in her bedroom and for the first time in years, she felt… whole. It wasn’t perfect. In fact, it felt like she was only held together with tape and chewing gum, but it was a type of wholeness, and she was taking it.
Buffy dragged herself out of bed and started getting dressed. She felt confused and fragile and couldn’t think too closely about any of it. That was okay, though. It was fine. She was fine. Right now, the only thing that mattered was that Spike was out there somewhere. And she had to hunt him down.
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January 16, 2021 00:05