April 21st, 2008

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Chapter 27

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. 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.

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Battling with a God

Ch 27 – The Fallen

 

“You cannot inform anyone of what has happened until we can clean up,” Giles stated to the police detective with utter authority. “Xander… go and get your car from the shop. Hurry! Willow, find a large tarp and bring it here. Anya, if you’re up to it after your ordeal, please find something… perhaps another tarp… for Spike to hide under.”

 

“N-now, wait a minute,” Detective Stein tried to interrupt.

 

“Detective, Dawn needs medical assistance. Please take her out onto the street away from here and get her an ambulance. Tara, go with them and accompany Dawn to the hospital. We’ll pick you both up later.”

 

“I can’t just… ignore that there’s a dead girl here,” Detective Stein said. He noted the flinches and was sorry to be so blunt, but he didn’t understand what they thought they were doing.

 

“Detective, I’ll explain everything later: the shop arson, why Buffy always seemed to have strange goings-on around her, who she was and why we need to take special actions now, everything you have questions on. But there’s no time now. All I can tell you is that if everyone out there knows that Buffy is dead, there will be massive death following closely in the wake of that knowledge!” Giles gazed unwaveringly at the detective, willing him to accede.

 

“I-I-,” the detective stuttered, sounding unsure of what to do. “Is this a ‘Sunnydale thing’,” he asked quietly. Whenever he told Carole about some bizarre fact cropping up in a case, things that the lab couldn’t make sense of for instance, they had come to name such things as a ‘Sunnydale Thing’ between them.

 

“Yes,” Giles said, looking surprised. “Yes, it is. Buffy was highly unusual. This needs to be handled delicately.”

 

“O-okay. But I’m holding you to what you said. I need to know what the hell is going on in this town.”

 

“I keep my word,” Giles said. “I’m British, you know.”

 

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When the lot was emptied except for Willow and Anya, who’d taken off to scrounge for what he’d asked for, Giles turned his attention to his Slayer. He allowed himself to cry for several minutes, but repressed the need to openly and loudly sob. There was no time for such things right now, and besides, it would upset the children who needed him to be in control of himself until they could do the unpleasant task at hand.

 

He looked over the lot, not that he could see much from where he was. He wasn’t able to stand, but on one foot with his other ankle being broken. Other than that, his legs also had minor cuts and severe bruising. He could scarcely feel most of the physical pain, as his emotional turmoil drowned everything else out.

 

After his allotted several minutes, he bit back the rest of his grief. He locked it away in a box in his mind through the advanced meditative techniques he’d studied at the Academy. He gazed over Buffy’s body and noted that she didn’t appear injured except for the grotesque angle at which she was bent. There was some bruising from her fight with Glory, but surprisingly little blood. Her head hadn’t busted open, as could have been expected from the fall, he thought clinically. He didn’t want to think about the internal injuries or about what would happen to her next without proper embalming. The coming day, the coming days ahead, were going to be very rough on the others. They would be rough on him as well, he supposed, but he’d been training his whole life for this awful moment. The moment when a Watcher lost his charge to her duty; amazing how no one mentioned in all of the lectures he’d attended back at the Council how nearly incapacitating the pain would be for him. Of course, the Council had always expressly encouraged no emotional attachments to the girls, so perhaps they weren’t completely ignorant of the debilitating grief that would follow.

 

They’d just chosen to do what they always did when messy human emotions became involved. They had tried to educate them right out of him. It didn’t quite succeed and now he wondered if that was as good a thing as he had always thought it was.

 

He reached out and stroked Buffy’s hair until he heard one of the girls returning. Looking up and quickly swiping at his eyes, he found Willow looking like she only barely had control of herself as well.

 

“Here, Giles. I-I don’t understand why we need this.”

 

“I think you do, Willow. I think you’re very clever. You just don’t want to know.”

 

Willow sadly nodded, “We have to… to wrap her. To take her home.”

 

“Exactly. I would do this myself, ordinarily, but I cannot stand up and move freely. I’m afraid that you and Anya will have to do this. For that I am sorry.”

 

“I’ll do it,” Willow said. She grabbed Buffy by the shoulders first and began to yank her toward the spread tarp.

 

“You should allow Anya to help….”

 

“…No! No, I have it. I have her,” Willow said, beginning to heavily cry again.

 

She was fine until Giles instructed her to place Buffy at one end and roll her into it so that she wouldn’t fall out when Xander lifted her into the car. She laid her out as Giles’ had requested, but she couldn’t force herself to roll her up.

 

“It’s like… it’s like a murderer wrapping his victim up in an old carpet or something,” she objected, her voice full of confusion and revulsion.

 

He’d tried to explain, but Willow didn’t want to think about it. She walked away from him and he had to wait for Anya to return and have her do it. Anya had also brought a large, though dirty and with holes, drop cloth. It was all that she could find.

 

“It will do. We only need to keep him out of the direct sunlight until we get him to the house.”

 

“And then what? What are we going to do next, Giles?”

 

“We will do what we need to do.”

 

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When Xander returned there was more emotionally wrenching arguing when he balked at picking up Buffy’s broken body. Actually, it wasn’t picking her up that he had the problem with, but putting her into the trunk of his car, like she’d been a piece of inanimate refuse.

 

Practicality won the day, however, as it often did. He had ended up admitting there was little else to do. He needed the back seat for Spike to crouch down in.

 

In the meantime, Giles had been thinking ahead on how they were going to keep the city safe without the Slayer. The Hellmouth continued to be a chronic problem and with Faith holding the Slayer-line, there wouldn’t be a new one to simply have sent here.

 

The police detective that, somehow, Giles had drafted into their service returned.

 

“The girl is loaded. It looks like she’ll need a few stitches and bandaging, but she should be okay.”

 

“Good,” Giles nodded. “Now, I need you to help Willow and Xander. We need to retrieve April and the Buffy robot. We’ll need them.”

 

“Robots,” Detective Stein replied with wide eyes.

 

“I’ll explain,” Willow said dully through her tears.

 

“There’s a lot to get you caught up on,” Xander said. “I sure hope we can trust you.”

 

“Detective, if you could please take me to the hospital for my ankle,” Giles grimaced through his pain as he hopped with one arm around Xander’s shoulders. They’d just loaded the robots into his automobile’s trunk. “Xander, you and Willow retrieve Spike. All of you go to Buffy’s house. Tara, Dawn and I will meet you there, or call when we’re all released.”

 

“I’m technically off-duty,” the detective said. “And I really want to know what’s going on; what went on here this morning and why you won’t let me report Ms. Summers’ death. I’ll wait for you at the hospital and drive all of you back.”

 

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This is pretty much the way that things happened. Rick, the detective, also stopped by his own home, picking up his wife before arriving back at Buffy’s home.

 

“Buffy,” Giles asked as soon as he hobbled in on his crutches.

 

“We have her in the basement for right now,” Xander said.

 

She can’t stay there long. What is Giles planning, Hyena wanted to know.

 

Carole, the detective’s wife, seemed very kind. She was more interested in making sure they were all doing okay, while her husband had immediately began pressing for answers.

 

“Rick, give them a few minutes. I noticed a dining table, why don’t you go sit down? Is there a coffee pot? I can start some coffee and I’ve brought a package of coffee cake. I know you’re probably not thinking of food right now, but it will help if you have something in your stomachs,” she said.

 

Tara immediately took a liking to her and led her into the kitchen while the others made their way to the dining room.

 

“Are you alright, Bit,” Spike asked as he put his arm around her shoulders.

 

“I’m… numb,” Dawn met his eyes. “I’m just… exhausted… and… I’m numb.”

 

“Sounds like a nice place to be right now,” he told her.

 

And the next several hours were spent explaining everything to the Steins. The gang left nothing out and answered all of the detective’s questions honestly, even about things that he’d been investigating. Xander had hesitated when they’d reached the arson of the abandoned apartment building that Buffy had committed, but there was no reason to hide things now. It wasn’t like she could be arrested.

 

“I knew there had to be a reason, when Rick told me about it,” Carole nodded. Xander had just explained about the vampire whorehouse contained within it. “I mean… even being a Sunnydale resident all my life, I’m still having a lot of trouble accepting vampires, but….”

 

“This all sounds insane,” Rick Stein complained. “I think I might have been insane in helping you.”

 

“Rick….”

 

“What, Carole? I’m sorry, but this is… I mean… this is movie stuff. This is all… insane.”

 

“My dad being killed by Dracula pretty much proves that some fiction is based on real life stuff,” Xander pointed out.

 

“I… I’m not sure I can buy that, either. Okay, maybe a killer who thought he was Dracula, but… really? And vampires? Okay, I always knew the ‘rampaging LSD gang’ story was ridiculous, but….” Rick sighed. “I don’t know how much of this I can accept. And you say that Buffy was this ‘Slayer’? And she’s… she died in the line of duty?”

 

“Spike, if you would,” Giles asked.

 

As all eyes turned on the vampire, he ‘vamped out’. Rick nearly fell backward as he jumped back into his seat. Carole gasped audibly, one hand flying to her chest and her eyes wide. She fumbled for the cross she wore under her dress.

 

“It’s okay. Spike is a special circumstance,” Xander assured them. “He’s one of the good guys.”

 

“Let’s not over sell it, love,” Spike smirked next to him.

 

On his other side, Dawn grabbed one of his hands. “Then let’s just say that you’re someone we can trust,” she smiled sadly at him. She gave his hand a small squeeze.

 

“Always, Dawn,” he acknowledged.

 

His other hand was resting lightly on Xander’s inner thigh and he gave this a brief squeeze of affection before meeting his beautiful brown eyes. “You can always trust me.”

 

“Spike can’t hurt people,” Dawn turned her attention back across the table to their guest. “You don’t have to be afraid of him.”

 

“This is currently true,” Giles confirmed, almost reluctantly it sounded like. “He was one of the subjects of the Initiative program we mentioned.”

 

“Yes, poor little puppy as been neutered,” Spike said without any rancor. “Of course, it turned out to have unexpected benefits.”

 

“I-I hope it’s not considered rude, but…,” Carole said, eyes still wide with surprise, “Uh, could you not look like that anymore.”

 

Spike returned to looking like William and gave the silly bint what he hoped would be a comforting smile. “No worries,” he told her.

 

The detective managed to recover some color after turning white as the proverbial ghost and sat staring at Spike with a mixture of shock and fascination. “I bet you could help me solve a lot of ‘deaths by mysterious blood loss’ cases. I could be police commissioner by my next birthday. Hell, I could be mayor and town hero.”

 

“Which obviously, you can’t attempt to do,” Giles warned. “It’s vital that we be allowed to work freely without the public’s panic.”

 

“I understand,” Rick nodded. “And I’ll help in any way I can. Now that I know, I can be a source of information for you when we run into a weird occurrence.”

 

“I’m definitely beefing up my folklore and myth lessons in my student’s English course work,” Carole said. “Maybe they’ll grow up a little more prepared to deal with all of this than the rest of us have been. I just don’t understand how I could never have put all the obvious pieces together?”

 

“Just as there are demons and evil creatures, Mrs. Stein, there are also angels and beings of good. The balancing act between them is part of what allows the world to continue. If it were openly known how much supernatural activity there truly is in the world, those beings would be far more likely to act openly. The planet would be nothing but an open battle ground. At least this way, it’s more of a cold war mentality. Neither side is breaking out their nuclear weapons and decimating us in their crossfire,” Giles explained.

 

“It’s all so incredible,” Carole said, again not able to take her eyes off of the vampire in the room. “And no insult intended, but I still don’t think I’d like to meet you in a dark alley.”

 

“None taken,” Spike smiled. “And a few years ago, anyone at this table would have told you that you’d have been completely right.”

 

“So… what now,” Rick said.

 

“Now, we reassemble the robots,” Giles said. “And we take care of our friend. We have one more thing to do for Buffy and that’s to let her go.”

 

“We can’t bury her, can we,” Dawn said with tears in her eyes.

 

“We can,” Giles said gently. “But we can’t tell your father, or anyone else. We’ll have to choose a place carefully, where she’ll be hidden out of the way. The Buffy robot will have to be prepared to act full time as her, I’m afraid.”

 

“I can do it,” Willow said. She’d been awfully quiet. “I think. I mean, this is a big job and, yeah, computer geek, but I haven’t done a lot of programming like this. It would help if we could have Warren on board; if we knew where to find him.”

 

“I can make some enquiries through my job,” Rick said. “Write down his full name for me and as much of a description as you can provide.”

 

“I’ll take care of Buffy,” Tara said quietly. “I mean… wash her hair and uh, bathe her. There are some things that I can provide to help protect her resting place when we know where.”

 

“I guess I have to find a dress for her,” Dawn whispered, heart breaking all over again. “I wish mom were here.”

 

“I’ll help you, Dawn,” Anya nodded to her. “We’ll find something appropriate.”

 

Giles decided at that point that the Steins knew everything they needed to know to keep their mouths closed. He called an ending to the meeting, explaining to them that what came next to prepare Buffy for her final rest was a family affair.

 

“Of course,” Carole shook his hand warmly. “And please don’t be worried. Rick and I understand why we have to keep things quiet.”

 

Next, Detective Stein shook hands around the table. “Now that I know the truth, about what’s happening around here, you can depend on me for any help you need. I mean, anything I can do, I want to do to help.”

 

“Thank you,” Giles said. “Without an active Slayer, I’m afraid help is exactly what we’ll need.”

 

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End Chapter 27

 

space2

End Chapter of Battling with a God

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Emails are welcome as are honest reviews. I respond to all correspondence.

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and especially the Spanderverse series.

Notes: Story number Nineteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Songs of Pain and Comfort”. 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.

More Notes: BIG thanks to Joss, the ME creative team and the crew of one of the best shows on television. WE MISS YOU!  And THANK YOU JOSS and DH COMICS for Buffy: Season 8 and Angel: After the Fall.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

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Battling with a God

Ch 28 – Burial Rites

 

Tara hummed softly to herself as she went about her task. She tried not to think about what she was doing and who she had under her hands. She wasn’t sure she could continue, otherwise. She was brushing out Buffy’s long hair, placing a portion into a bowl of water then washing with shampoo, placing the hair into another bowl to rinse and brushing it out again, before moving on to the next small handful. She had to dump and replace the rinse water after each portion, slowing things down a bit.

 

She’d just finished another bit. She had dipped the comb into a small dish of vanilla-scented oil and was now combing out the wet hair. When it dried, it would be nice and straight and the scent would cling to it. It was a ritual they’d performed in Petit Crique to her Great Grandmother on her father’s side when she’d passed at age 118. And they’d performed the same ritual to her dad’s mother when she’d passed at 92; two years after that.

 

Behind her, she heard the basement door open and close. The scent of coffee drifted to her as the footsteps came closer.

 

Willow placed the cup next to her on a makeshift stand. She then took one of Buffy’s hands and began to clean under her nails.

 

“You don’t have to do that, Willow. I can handle it,” Tara said low. It seemed disrespectful somehow to break the silence with words.

 

“I know. But Buffy did so much for me,” she said, her eyes already filled with tears again. “Including saving my life from the Master’s flunkies before I even knew what was going on here. I want to do this for her,” she gave Tara the milder and softer version of the ‘resolve face’.

 

“How are you doing,” Tara asked after she’d kissed her forehead.

 

“Exhausted. We’ve had so little sleep, running from Glory and dealing with everything. But I’m okay. I mean, I’m sad… really sad. But, this is almost easier than Joyce’s death in a weird way. Maybe it’s because that just happened and I’m on overload right now, or maybe it’s ‘cause in the back of my brain I knew that Buffy would die being the Slayer. I’m more worried about Dawnie. Her mom and sister right next to each other,” Willow sniffled and took a moment to grab the box of tissues that Tara had made sure she brought down. It was already half emptied and it’d been a new box when she had started.

 

“Yeah. But she has us. And, Spike. I hope that Xander wasn’t planning on having him to himself anytime soon,” Tara gave a small smile. “I don’t think Spike is going to let Dawn out of his sight for awhile.”

 

“Weird, isn’t it? I mean, Spike tried to kill us a few times. He even threatened to bite me in my dorm room when Buffy and I were rooming together. Good thing he had the chip at that point. Now, I’m hoping he and my best friend are going to make it as a couple.”

 

“It is strange. But it’s a good strange. I like Spike. And I think he’ll be good for Dawn. He has a lot of inner strength she can rely on.”

 

Willow had finished under Buffy’s nails. She took a file and began to scrape against them.

 

“Buffy hated what Slaying did to her fingernails,” she gave a small, but sad laugh. “She wanted so badly for us to go to a spa or something and get our nails done, but she didn’t want them to be ruined before she got her money’s worth of enjoyment out of it.”

 

“I’m almost done with her hair. I haven’t really given any thought to what to do with it. Do you think leaving it straight would be okay? I could run to the dorm for a curler?”

 

“No… it’s fine. I think Dawn is taking a nap. When she wakes up, we’ll talk to her about a dress and shoes.”

 

“We should probably hold off on makeup until then. I was just going to apply a little bit, something really understated around her eyes and on her lips,” Tara said.

 

“Okay,” Willow said. “I finished the scrying with Giles and Anya and we found the spot.” She looked up and saw Tara give her a nod indicating she’d heard. They continued working in silence.

 

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“How’re you doing, Spike,” Xander said, cupping the side of his face briefly before dropping his hand back to the table.

 

“Breathing still hurts,” he said. “Rib injuries are always a bit of a bitch.”

 

“We’ll get you some blood later.”

 

“No worries. Think we should leave Dawn alone upstairs?”

 

“I’m sure she’ll be alright,” Giles interjected. “I believe we should do the burial late tonight. Without properly preparing the body, it should be buried as quickly as possible.”

 

“What about a casket,” Xander asked.

 

“That has been arranged already. The Council has a pre-arrangement with a black market dealer in town. It’s standard operating procedure when they know the area a Slayer will be calling ‘home base’. I will call and pick it up as soon as darkness falls,” he said.

 

“Won’t that blow the secret we mean to keep quiet,” Spike said.

 

“It’s a demon. The one we’ll be procuring the coffin from? It’s a demon.”

 

“Doesn’t that make it more risky,” Xander questioned.

 

But Giles was meeting Spike’s gaze. An understanding seemed to pass between them.

 

“I’ll go with the Watcher to pick it up. We can… work something out.”

 

“But… the risk? If he doesn’t stay quiet?”

 

“Xan,” Spike gave him an icy grin, “It won’t be an issue. We’ll deal with it. Dawn wants a headstone,” he said, purposely changing the topic.

 

“I’m not sure that’s wise,” Giles said, but didn’t exactly object.

 

“It’s not. But it’s what she wants,” Spike conceded. “And it’s what the Slayer deserves.”

 

“Yes,” Giles said.

 

Neither of the others was sure if he was agreeing to the headstone, or just that Buffy deserved one.

 

“I tried to talk to her about it,” Xander said. “But she did that thing; the one where she looks at you and it’s like she’s not fifteen anymore. For just a second there was something in her eyes, like she was as old as the universe. I couldn’t argue with her after that. Especially, since I agree with her.”

 

“We’ll get one. To avoid suspicion, we may need to order a rough tablet of granite and do the carving ourselves. Is that something that you can do,” Giles asked of Xander.

 

“Yeah… yeah, I can do it. Uh, I may need some smaller practice stones to carve on first. I don’t think I could stand having to cross out a mistake on Buff’s stone. God,” Xander closed his eyes and turned his face up toward the ceiling. He shook his head, “I can’t believe we have to talk about this. I can believe that she’s….” he stopped, being unable to finish.

 

“I know,” Giles said. He was dying for a drink.

 

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It was hours after dark and Giles stood waiting in an abandoned warehouse for their contact. Spike stood nearby, smoking a cigarette and sipping from a Styrofoam cup of rapidly cooling cow’s blood.

 

“You sure you’re ready for this,” the vampire asked.

 

“Killing demons doesn’t bother me. As I’m sure you’re aware. It’s what the Council does, after all.”

 

“The shits you work for don’t care. But you don’t fool me Rupert,” Giles looked at him with surprise at the almost gentle tone in his voice. “I think you feel every single death. I think if you could make demons stop killing people overnight, nothing would make you happier. Not to save them, though that’s a part of it, but because you’d like to not kill ever again.”

 

“I am fine with tonight’s plan,” Giles said. “After all a murderer hardly grieves for those he kills, now does he?”

 

“’Murderer’ is a funny term to use for your line of work.” He stubbed out his cigarette on the concrete floor and reached for his pack. His hand froze when he heard Giles’ whisper, voice filled with self-loathing and guilt.

 

“I killed Ben, the mortal that was hosting Glory.”

 

Spike cleared his throat, but Giles refused to look at him. “Glory had to be killed. Sad thing that Ben bloke also had to die in the process, but the important thing was killing Glory.”

 

Giles did meet his eyes then, “Glory was submerged again. Ben was present. He was hurt and helpless and I smothered him. I-I felt I had to… that it was necessary.”

 

“You don’t have to explain to me. You did the right thing, Giles. We both know the god wouldn’t have stayed gone. She would have been back for revenge and she’d have killed them all. Even Dawn just for the spite of it; a big ‘fuck you’ to Buffy for winning.”

 

“Then why don’t I feel ‘right’,” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t wish the others to know. It would be better if they believe that Glory died when Buffy closed the gate.”

 

“I always suspected you could be as dangerous to Dru and me as the Slayer, herself. Thought I judged it wrong when Angelus had you tied to that chair. But I see my first instinct was the true one, you’ll do whatever it takes.”

 

“It would be wise that you remember that,” Giles said, glancing at him to meet his eyes again. “Because, if you hurt Xander or Dawn- either through inaction, maliciousness or accident, I will kill you.”

 

There were no further chances at more words when they heard a car pull up to the warehouse. Both tensed. They knew that these things could quickly turn sour, even in the most innocuous of times.

 

There was the sound of a shutting car door and then a Brachen demon entered the warehouse. He appeared a bit skittish at first, hesitating at the entrance when he saw the human and vampire waiting for him.

 

“I have the object,” he said. “I will help you load it.”

 

“Thank you,” Giles said, even managing a small smile. He waved to Spike to follow as they went outside.

 

There idled an old pick up truck. In the back of this was a long pine box, expertly glazed and polished. It had handles of dark maple, also highly polished. On the top of the lid, fastened, was a simple brass placard waiting to be engraved.

 

“With more time, I could have made it far more elaborate and beautiful,” the Brachen said. “But you did state it was needed immediately.”

 

“Yes, and I appreciate your rushing it,” Giles said. The Brachen kept glancing nervously at Spike.

 

“Spike, if you would place it into the back seat and tie it down, please,” he said.

 

“I believe the amount we agreed upon was… $650 dollars?”

 

“Yes, it was. Here,” Giles began to count out fifty dollar bills and then placing them into the demons hand one by one. He purposely allowed the breeze to catch the eighth one.

 

As expected the demon immediately lunged to keep the bill from fluttering away. Giles took the opportunity to drop his remaining money to the ground and replace them with a small black dagger from within his inside jacket pocket. The ebony blade dripped with a red liquid, which he was very careful not to allow to come into contact with his skin.

 

The demon must have sensed something was wrong, because its head whipped around to look at Giles. He didn’t have time to straighten his stooped posture and defend himself as the Watcher plunged the short blade into the demon’s back, following this with another strike of the blade to the back of the neck.

 

The red liquid took affect nearly instantaneously, poisoning the creature and stopping all brain activity. It fell heavily to the ground without making a single sound.

 

Giles slipped the knife back into its special holding sheath within his jacket pocket. He would get rid of both as well as any left over poison in the morning. Even if the demon had partners and they came looking to see what had happened to him, there would be no evidence for them to find. Giles already knew certain incantations that would allow any lies related to the incident tonight to be accepted as truth. And he’d made sure to stress to this demon how much of a secret his needing the casket was; it was unlikely he would have risked his relationship with the Council by sharing the news with anyone else. Now, they could be sure that the temptation to gossip would not become too much.

 

He’d done what he needed to do. Again.

 

“I will drive the car back. You get rid of the body and this truck,” he eyed Spike coldly. “Need I tell you how displeased I would be if you botch this, or try to blackmail me later?”

 

“Who are you, Giles,” Spike asked. He’d never seen the Watcher like this before. He’d never even sensed such… darkness in him. He thought of the magic he’d wielded just… yesterday? And wondered just how badly it had touched him.

 

“I’m… an ex-Watcher,” Giles said, deflated. He suddenly looked like an old, broken man to Spike, but he’d never believe the illusion again.

 

“I’ll take care of this mess. You talk to Tara and Willow about a purification ritual. I think that dark magic might have done more damage than you think.”

 

“I’ll consider your words. After we’ve buried my Slayer and I know the other children are alright.”

 

After Giles had left, Spike with a sigh, loaded the corpse of the demon into the flatbed. He’d ditch it where no one would ever find either the body or the truck, but first he had a stop to make. He’d made a promise to a girl and he needed to see if their wreck was still out on the lonely road from Sunnydale.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

When he arrived back at Buffy’s house, only the kitchen light was burning. He’d had to walk nearly eight miles from the abandoned mine where he’d driven the truck. Some careful levering and the thing had caved in nicely.

 

As he wandered toward the dim light, he could see Anya and Xander sleeping on opposite sides of the sofa. His hearing picked up Tara humming from the basement. There was the slightest scent of tea that told him he’d find Giles in the kitchen.

 

When he walked in, he found what he’d expected.

 

“Tara, Willow and Dawn are downstairs,” Giles said. He appeared to have aged another ten years since Spike saw him last just shortly before. “They’re getting her dressed in something... appropriate.”

 

“The casket?”

 

“It’s in the alley, still hanging out of the car.”

 

Spike gave Giles a look. They were supposed to be keeping this secret and a coffin hanging out of a vehicle wasn’t exactly low-key.

 

“I didn’t want to wake Xander,” he shrugged. “At least not until you got back. Can you two bring it in and take it down the stairs? Will we be able to get it back up… after? We’ll probably need a glamour to hide it on the drive to the woods,” he said thoughtfully.

 

“We’ll deal,” Spike said. He headed back into the living room to wake Xander.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

The girls were sitting with Buffy when the boys noisily came down the stairs. They were grunting under the burden of the coffin they’d procured from somewhere. Except Spike, of course, who seemed to have no problems with the heavy box at all.

 

Once laid down, Dawn helped to lift its lid. She seemed to be okay until Giles lifted Buffy by her shoulders, while Spike lifted her ankles. She was stiff and Dawn turned away to bury her head in Tara’s shoulder. Willow also cried a little while she stroked her hair.

 

Once Buffy was settled, Dawn pulled herself together again. She wanted to help nail the coffin lid closed.

 

“The plaque,” she asked in a subdued voice. It was the first thing anyone had said since the coffin had made its macabre appearance.

 

“There’s no time,” Xander apologized. “But I’ll make it up with the tombstone, okay?”

 

She only nodded her head and returned to hammering in her nail.

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

The night bugs buzzed and chirped as the mourners panted from effort. They’d had to wrestle the coffin all the way through a thick thicket of woods and thorns before arriving at a clearing. The sky was overcast and the only one who could see a thing was Spike, who had to lead the way. The others all acted as pallbearers for the woman they all had loved in different ways.

 

Finally when they arrived, Spike began to shovel. He used his superior strength and stamina to dig through the earth far faster than the humans surrounding them, though Xander and Giles both worked to do their share.

 

In under an hour, they’d dug down just shy of five feet and Giles proclaimed it adequate. While they dug, two more figures came crashing and swearing through the underbrush, led by a small glimmering pinch of light. Xander had called them at home when they were ready to leave, though he didn’t really know why. It just seemed… right.

 

Rick and Carole Stein entered the circle and stood off quietly as the three other men lowered the casket. The weird one, the monster, Spike had just started to grab a shovel to fill in the hole when one of the women, Tara, told him to wait a moment.

 

She closed her eyes and said something. The only words known to the Stein’s were ‘Gaia’.

 

The dirt seemed to come alive and began to flow, like water, into the hole. Tara remained with her eyes closed, one hand with its palm flat down over the ground until the entire thing was filled.

 

“You couldn’t of whisked up a hole in the first place,” the vampire said.

 

“Sorry, Spike. I can’t do everything,” Tara smiled.

 

“Thank you for allowing us to be here,” Carole said. “Though I never knew her personally, I feel like she’s saved my life countless times. Like a guardian angel hidden in the shadows, watching over the town.”

 

“My sister was a hero,” Dawn said. “I’ll miss her, so much. But she died a hero.”

 

She clung to Willow’s side until Xander and Spike joined them. She transferred her hold to the vampire, making Rick uneasy. This whole thing made him uneasy.

 

Next, Willow began to chant something that sounded like a song. A sad song, like a dirge, but it was again in a language the Stein’s didn’t get. At the same time, the Tara woman was pouring what appeared to be water over the freshly turned earth.

 

“It’s holy water,” she said to them. “To bless her resting place and keep things from disturbing it.”

 

Spike had backed away noticeably during its application, dragging Dawn and Xander with him. He and Xander were holding hands and again Rick felt uneasy with knowing these people.

 

Carole, of course, seemed to take everything in stride. He envied her unflappability.

 

When this ritual was finished, they all stood in silence and looked down at the grave of Buffy Summers.

 

“It feels wrong, just leaving her here,” Rick said. He met disapproving looks from everyone, even his wife. “I-I meant, I mean, I know why we have to, but she saved us. She deserves… more. A monument and uh, lying in state. It feels like we’re hiding her away when she should be celebrated.”

 

“Yes, she should be,” Giles said, tears in his eyes. “She deserves more than this.”

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

End Story

 

Spanderverse Series:

BTVS seasons 1-4.

Spanderverse: After 314

Spanderverse: Spike

Spanderverse: Dracula

Spanderverse: Burial

BTVS: Real Me

Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Preludes

Tensions

Old Friends

Hospital Visits

The Risks of Glory

Hunting Our Needs

The Family We Choose

Falling Apart

Sunnydale Antics

Feints and Counter-Feints

Pathways

BTVS: The Body

Coming Together

Songs of Pain and Comfort

Battling with a God