Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-
POV: Shifts Perspective
Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.
Notes: Tenth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Hospital Visits”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.
People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.
The Risks of Glory
Ch 4- Spike’s Fallout
Giles smiled warmly as he followed the last customer to the front door. It had been an incredibly profitable day, according to Anya. She hadn’t let him near the money all day, which was alright, since it was better that he actually assist customers than leave that to her. Now he was just happy and relieved to give the sign hanging on the front door a twist to the ‘Closed, Please Come Again’ side. Doing this, he glanced above the doorway and uttered a silent curse at the bell. He wasn’t sure why he’d thought the annoying thing would be ‘quaint’ but it had nearly gotten on his last nerve at least half a dozen times during the day.
Crossing back toward the rear of the shop on aching feet, he was grateful as Xander used a foot to kick a chair out from the table for him. He sank onto the hard wood, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes.
“That was incredible; perhaps, too much of a good thing.”
“I am very happy with the amount of business we’ve done today,” Anya enthused. “We should have that many customers everyday! Oh, and by the way, here is the bill for Dawn and Buffy for the jar they broke and the Newt’s Eyes we couldn’t save.”
“Anya! You can’t charge your friends over an accident,” Xander said.
“I don’t see why not. Business is business, after all.”
“And Buffy is the Slayer. If she decided to start charging us every time she has to rush to our rescue, we’d be bankrupt.”
“Xander has a point,” Giles said, “I’m afraid we’ll simply have to write off the loss.”
“Thank you for letting me set up a table in the back Mr. Giles,”
“I don’t think we charged you enough,” Anya said. She pouted, “If I had known anyone would be so interested in Tarot, I would have insisted on a portion of your haul.”
“Yes, well,” Giles interrupted, “As much as this is all so stimulating, we do have a few problems to deal with here. For instance, what have we found out about our table decoration, here? And also, uh, w-what are we going to do w-with Spike?”
All eyes instinctively turned to Xander. He had the closest relationship with the vampire and had been the most upset earlier in the afternoon when Buffy had spilled about how close Riley had come to not making his surgery.
He felt like such an idiot. He was the one going around defending Spike’s new attitude to everyone, only to find out that he was being played… again. Even Hyena and Commando were feeling chagrined and remaining silent on the matter.
“What’s there to do,” Xander said. “He’s betrayed us again. As much as it hurts me to say so, Buffy has a duty.”
“W-well, yes,” Giles said, “But she’s reluctant to harm him while he isn’t capable of feeding on humanity.”
“And I kind of still like him,”
“That’s the thing though, baby. What if it had worked? Can Spike still not feed on people without the inhibitor? Would he even bother trying not to? And what about us?”
“Willow’s right,” Anya said. “And, boy, does it suck to have to agree with her. But Spike is a current demon still. It’s not like me. He doesn’t have a human soul to try to keep him in check. I mean, not that a soul helps everyone, but with a demon there’s no… consciousness of what’s wrong with preying on people.”
“Well, there’s also the matter of Spike’s usefulness to consider,” Giles added to the discussion. “There may come a time when Buffy will need to beat some information out of him.”
“Do you think he’ll really know anything useful now,” Xander questioned. “He’s not exactly plugged into the demon underground anymore. And anything he knows, Anya will know or we can find through research. Not that I want him dead, I don’t. I just don’t want the rest of us dead more. Sooner or later that chip is going to come out or stop working. Maybe we should be proactive, here. A vampire has already taken enough of our friends and family.”
There was a long moment of uncomfortable silence. Anytime Xander’s father entered a conversation, even only peripherally, things tended to get quiet. Inside, Xander’s heart was breaking: he was talking about killing a man he thought he was falling for; thank God he hadn’t broken up with Anya yet or come out. On the other hand after Jesse and Jenny and his dad and Blayne, how could he not consider it? Spike had been gunning for them all not that long ago. There was no way of knowing if anything they’d gone through with him since the chip would have any value at all once it wasn’t in his way. In fact, if he was like Angel at all, being able to hunt them down would give him even more pleasure than before.
“So, about the orb…,”
“How did you rule out the
“Well, according to the Voluminous Scrolls of Rek-Sha-Shee, as soon as Buffy or any semi-mystical being touched it they should have exploded.”
“Ah, yes. Quite right… so, let’s research, shall we?”
Tara and Anya both sighed at once and then looked at each other.
Tara spoke first, “I-I don’t want to make things more complicated, but my grandmother once told me about a coppery sphere called the Orb of the Bayou used to summon Wraiths. This could be it; we should check the Cajun myth volumes while we’re at it.”
“And I know at least three other orbs that look like this,” Anya added, “One from
“Looks like a long and not so fun evening of reading then.” Xander stood up and started for Giles’ office. “I’ll start the hot water for tea and a pot of fresh coffee. Just pick me out some books and pile them in front of my chair.”
Spike stood outside in the blustery, cold wind peeking in at the Scoobies. It appeared there was another meeting afoot to which he hadn’t been invited. Not that this was a shock. Buffy had undoubtedly told everyone about his little faux pas by now and sent them into a tizzy. Well, she’d get over it. Once she was lonely enough, she’d beg him to talk to her and then he’d seduce her and show her that she didn’t need Commando-drip anyway. He wondered where she was right now. He didn’t see her around the meeting table.
Please tell me that bitch isn’t off making up with Finn. That would really be a kick in the head, he thought.
His eyes lingered on Xander as he got up and headed back toward where Giles kept an office. He wondered how angry Xander would be at him. He knew there’d be disappointment and recriminations, but he’d listen to Spike when he tried to explain. He’d understand how hard it was to live under the constant threat of being shocked through the brain, of wanting to be free from the fear of a misfire every time he walked by a microwave.
Harmony, of course, was thrilled. For her this finally had meant that she didn’t have to share her ‘Blondie-bear’ with the Scoobies. She’d been convinced that he was truly back on the road to being a mindless, vacuous blood-rat, like her. He wasn’t going to let that happen. Not like he’d never wanted to go back to being the predator, but now he’d learned over the past several months that he could still be himself and be part of a greater whole. And if there was anything that most vampires secretly wanted it was community. Well, he’d found that, and he wasn’t about to let it be pissed away just because of one little, not-very-important misstep. Surely, they’d all see that his intentions weren’t completely bad.
He reached into the deep pocket of his long leather jacket. Past the cigarettes that Harmony had bought lay the item his hand sought. Pulling out the dingy, white square of cotton fabric, he readied himself to eat some crow and strolled into the Magic Box.
As Giles approached him looking right mad, Spike internalized a bit of shiver. Not that he would admit such to himself, but there was a violence in the Watcher’s eyes that bothered him. He waved the handkerchief in the air, and slid an easy smile onto his face.
“So, then, mates? How much trouble am I in?”
“Get out, Spike.”
“Oh, come on Rupert. The soldier is fine and the chip is still in place. It wasn’t like I was really hurting anyone. Let’s let bygones be bygones, yeah?”
Rupert Giles grabbed fistfuls of Spike’s T-shirt and manhandled him to the door. Not that he could have moved him if Spike had decided he didn’t want to go. But the vampire was currently in a state of shock at just how deep the hatred in the man’s eyes went. He hadn’t seen the Watcher this worked up since he’d come after Angelus after his girlfriend’s death.
“I’m saying this once. We are not your friends. We are not your ‘mates’. You’re no longer welcomed here, you soulless filth. Leave town, Spike, or that chip in your defective noggin is going to be the only thing left of you.”
So saying, Giles literally pushed Spike out of the door and to the ground.
Just before the door was unceremoniously slammed in his face, Spike saw Xander looking sick. But when he had met the human’s eyes, he'd simply looked away.
In the Magic Box, Xander sat down heavily and tried to focus on the book he’d been assigned. He didn’t want to talk about Spike or the hint of old Ripper that Giles had unleashed. He didn’t have to;
“That was a bit harsh, wasn’t it?”
“Maybe,” Giles admitted. “But I don’t want him to hang around here thinking what he almost cost Riley wasn't important to us. The only way to teach an old vampire new tricks are to force him to understand that actions have consequences. H-he’s been cut off from his fellow demon community at large. I can’t believe that Harmony is going to provide enough stimulation… err… let me rephrase: I don’t think she’ll be enough of a social network for him. By completely cutting him off from us, he’ll be forced to either learn what we expect and to conform, or perhaps he won’t be able to take the isolation and will leave Sunnydale. Either way, it was necessary to speak his language.”
“I still think he should just be slain,” Anya said. It was almost a relief that she didn’t have to abide by her truce with Spike anymore. She didn’t like the way he gazed at her Xander.
“Are you alright, Xander,”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Giles was right. Spike only gets violence and threats. Like any demon….”
It was when the gang decided to wrap things up for the night. There were so many references to be cross-examined and they weren’t anywhere near to pinning down which Orb they held. There’d also been no word or visit from Buffy that evening. Several times, one or another of them considered phoning her, but the thought of interrupting if she was spending time with Joyce was too daunting. They were all more worried than ever after Buffy had shared what the doctor’s had found. The worst part was that they all had to watch what they said around Dawn until Joyce owned up to the truth with her.
So, the gang went their separate ways. Xander and Anya drove back to their apartment. Walking up the stairwell and coming around the corner of their hallway, they were greeted with the sight of Spike. Slouching against a wall, he had a cigarette lit and had obviously been waiting for them to return.
Waiting for Xander to return you mean, Anya thought bitterly at the vampire. Aloud she said, “Just ignore him, Xander. He’ll only try to give you some lame excuse for his behavior. It’s past time you brushed him out of your life.”
But Xander being Xander waved her off. Pissed, she strode into the apartment. From within he and Spike heard her slam the bedroom door shut.
“I can’t believe you’d show up here.”
“Don’t Spike! I don’t want to hear any more of your lies. We weren’t friends. I get that now. We were never friends. You were just playing your usual games until you could set us up for the kill.”
Spike launched himself off of the wall. Before Xander could fully comprehend that he had moved, he was standing toe to toe with the blond with his blue eyes drilling into Xander’s far more boring brown ones.
“I never set you up for anything! Not since last spring, anyway. We are friends, and I won’t listen to you insult that. What I did was about being free of this blasted chip so that I didn’t have to be afraid of the humans around me at every turn. Can’t you understand that?”
“Can’t you understand,” Xander yelled, his voice echoing in the otherwise empty hallway. “God damn it, Spike! What if Riley had died because of you? What if when that chip gets removed I turn into just another Buffy-friend to murder? Huh? Can you say with certainty that your demon is going to give a damn about us when he’s free?!”
Xander heaved a heavy sigh and walked to his apartment door. Stepping through the threshold, he turned back to the vampire in the hallway. “You just don’t get it, Spike. And I don’t know how to get through to you. You nearly caused the death of someone I consider a friend, too. I like Riley. I liked you. But he’s not running around behind our backs with a vampire who hurt Anya, who tried to hurt Dawn. And he’s not lying to our faces while he tries to get turned back into a people-killing monster.”
“Just go. You should leave town, Spike. Maybe you can find your answers and your freedom somewhere else.”
“I know you’re angry with me right now….”
“…no, I’m not Spike. I’m not angry with you at all. I’m just bitterly disappointed. If I’m angry at anyone, it’s at myself. Because after everything I’ve been through… after Angelus, after Dracula,” Spike could see tears begin to shine in Xander’s eyes, but they did not fall, “I believed. I believed in you. I forgot what you were behind the laughs and our movie nights and the beer and pool games. What do I feel toward you now, Spike? Disgust.”
He began to close the door on him when Spike lunged forward. He couldn’t let things sit like this. He had to fix it. He just had to. But when he attempted to cross over the threshold of the doorway, he found himself repelled across the expanse of the narrow hallway and into the wall he’d just leaned against.
Looking shocked, he heard Xander say with just a hint of malice, “You can’t come in, remember? No invite.”
“I-I was in before. Remember… Toth…,” Spike stopped as he realized that maybe Xander didn’t want a reminder of his animal persona groping him on the living room floor.
“Funny thing, that. When Anya complained about it to Giles he suggested it was because only Commando-Xander actually signed the lease. Since there was three of me, technically, there wasn’t a true ownership clause over the space. Mystically speaking, I mean. Now that I’m whole again…?”
“But look on the bright side, Spike,” Xander continued just before closing the door tight against him, “Maybe you can convince Anya to invite you in for coffee sometime.”
As Spike was left to wander out into the suddenly very lonely night, he refused to acknowledge that his eyesight was unusually blurred.
End Ch 4