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 8- The Reveal
The monk and Buffy fell against a fence surrounding the warehouse. She attempting to pull him up and get him moving, while he kept telling her to put him down. After several moments when it was obvious he wasn’t going to cooperate, she lowered them both to the ground and took several deep breaths. Behind her a deep rumbling was sounding in the building they’d just left and dust and debris was flying through the exploding windows.
“Listen, I need you to get up. We can’t stay here. I’m working on a body-wide bruise over here,” Buffy said.
“My days of running, I think, are over,” Benes replied gravely in a heavy accent she couldn’t place. It sounded European, maybe. His eyes were cast downward and Buffy followed his gaze to the ruin of his feet. She could make out the icky insides of his heels.
“My God; what did she do?” Buffy was horrified as she recognized his Achilles Tendons, cleanly cut by a knife or dagger.
“Is no important, now. You must listen to me; my time is short, I think.”
“No, I can get you to help. Then we’ll have nice, long conversations about anything you want. Just someplace that’s not here. Try to relax, I can carry you.”
“There is no more time. I’m done. Listen, please….”
Buffy recognized the wheeze in his voice and knew at least one of his lungs was punctured. His mouth was full of blood and she grew teary-eyed as she sat with him.
“We sent you the Orb. We knew the Beast would find you, the way she found us. It will not be enough to stop her. I’m sorry I cannot do more.”
“What does she want? Why is she here?”
“To open the portal,” he coughed.
“No. Her own. She seeks the Key.”
“Key? I don’t understand….”
He nodded weakly to her and she saw his strength waning. “The Key was energy. It is all that keeps Glorificus here. She seeks to return home. If she opens the portal, all of us will suffer. She found us after centuries of seeking. We had…,” he was interrupted by another coughing fit.
Once finished, Buffy took a hold of his hand and gave him a reassuring squeeze. She tried to instill in him her strength, willing him to finish telling her what she needed to know.
“We had to send the Key to where we knew someone would guard it. We formed the Key and made it into flesh. A young girl to hide the secret.”
Buffy held her breath as chills wracked her spine and sent goose-bumps over her flesh. She was already shaking her head in ‘no’ as the monk told her what she dreaded was coming.
“We sent her to the Slayer to protect. In the form of a sister….”
“You… you put a thing in my house, in my mother’s house? Is it dangerous? Is it causing my mother to be sick?”
“I don’t know what you mean. It is human. Only a human girl. Innocent and dependent.”
Buffy stared at him, stunned. “But my memories? I remember my mom being pregnant, Dawn coming home from the hospital….”
“…All created,” Benes said. Again he was interrupted by a long coughing fit. When he had himself under control again, he tried to reason with her. It was so important that she protect the Key. It was important for the world.
“I don’t care from the world! You can’t just do this to people. This is my life!”
“Please,” Benes insisted, “please….”
Buffy shook her head, but it was a gesture of helpless shock, not denial of his request. She just couldn’t wrap her head around the notion that all of her memories were fabricated. That Dawn hadn’t been here when she broke Buffy’s favorite watch in Los Angeles- Hell, she may not have even had a favorite watch! The carousel party for Dawn when they’d first come to Sunnydale. Her abject fear when Angelus left a drawing of Dawnie hanging on the refrigerator.., everything with her; one huge, elaborate illusion?
“She’s not my sister?”
“She doesn’t know that and her love is a real thing,” Benes whispered with the last of his strength.
As Buffy watched, the light left his eyes.
As Buffy fought Glory and made her heroic dive out of a fourth floor window, Joyce drove up in her jeep. The damned headache was back, but she still had time to down another horse pill before it started to feel like her head was blowing up. She was practically to the porch before she realized that Spike was sitting on the steps, smoking one of his ubiquitous cigarettes.
“William? What are you doing here?”
“Just keepin’ an eye out for you, Joyce. Buffy had to run off on some errand or another. She asked I make sure you get in alright.”
“Well, it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but I thought you were on the outs with the gang. Especially with my daughter.”
“We haven’t kissed and made up if that’s what you mean. She knows that I wouldn’t lay a single digit on you or the Pint, though. And there’s always nasties in this ‘burg.”
“Yes, well, thank you. I’d stay and chat, but I’m quickly getting a headache and have to take something for it. I’m sorry Will, but I can’t invite you in after that stunt with Riley and his doctor.”
“I know. I ain’t asking. I’ll just sit here on the stoop till the Slayer gets back, yeah?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s awfully cold, tonight.”
“No problem there, Joyce. We don’t much feel the cold, so long as it stays above freezing. Good night.”
Spike was nearing the end of his pack and was thinking about beginning to panic when he finally saw Buffy making her way across the front lawn. She was limping and his supernatural eyesight caught the tell tale signs of pre-bruising around her throat.
“Rough night, cutie,” he said.
Naturally he was wearing that smirk, just as naturally he didn’t realize he was the only one who thought it was even remotely cute.
“It’s nothing,” Buffy replied quietly.
Spike was disappointed. He’d expected a ‘none of your business’ or a ‘screw you’.
“Of course. That’s why you’re limping like an American footballer who’d gotten the whole team piled on him without all that namby-pamby protective gear.”
“Spike, could you just give me a break this one night, please?”
Spike took in Buffy’s entire demeanor for the first time and saw sadness and worry and, wait, was that fear? She looked small and vulnerable and lonely. She looked like she really needed to talk.
“What is it, ducks? Believe me, I know I’m not the one you’re looking to confide in, but it’s obvious that things ain’t right in Slayerland tonight.”
And Spike was shocked when Buffy collapsed onto the stairs. Her whole body shook as sobs broke from her. Tears fell down her face as she bit the arm of her coat, trying to stay quiet; trying to stop herself.
“Hey… hey…,” he sat next to her and patted her shoulder awkwardly.
“Spike… m-mom is really sick. And… and I th-thought it was magic and we could just wave it all away, but its not. It’s just a stupid tumor and I can’t fight that. I don’t know what to do.”
His hand settled above Buffy’s head for just a moment as she leaned forward and ran her fingers through her hair. As she returned her arms to her legs and kept looking at the dark steps, Spike’s hand settled on the top of her head. Pulling her to him, she settled her face against his chest and a fresh wave of tears began to flow freely.
He was rattled. No, it was more. He was shaken to his core. He thought of Joyce and hot chocolate and the way she’d listen as he prattled on. He thought of what it would be like to see her as just an empty corpse, to know that her sympathetic ear and uncommon decency would be lost from the world.
“No,” he told Buffy. Raising her head gently with a hand under her chin, he looked into her red-rimmed eyes. “No, our Joyce is going to be fine. The doctors will fix her up good as new and I’ll be charming her into inviting me in for tea in no time flat.”
He grinned at her and was relieved to see a small smile break through. “Joyce will be fine because nothing else is acceptable.”
Buffy rose with a silent nod. He watched as she walked to the front door of the Summers’ household. Before entering the house, he saw and heard her take a deep, steadying breath.
When Joyce came home, she was greeted by her youngest holding out a cup of nice hot tea. She was grateful for having such great daughters.
“Hey mom. I heard you driving up and microwaved you some water for tea.”
“Thank you, sweetie. That was very considerate. Would you mind taking it up to my room while I put my coat and shoes away? I’m afraid there’s another headache on its way.”
Dawn sighed. She was getting sick of seeing her mother in pain. “Sure, mom. I’ll get you a pill… do you want the yellow or the pink?”
“I was thinking yellow, tonight,” Joyce joked, trying hard to keep things non-dire.
When she did make it upstairs, she found Dawn waiting for her patiently. In one hand she held the dreaded pill, in the other, her cup of still hot tea. She took both gratefully and went into the bathroom. It was an undetermined number of minutes later when she came out wearing a cotton nightgown.
“What are you still doing here,” Joyce asked.
“I wanted to make sure you got into bed okay.”
“But… but I specifically told the deliverymen to come and pick you up!”
“What? Mom… it’s me, it’s Dawn. Are you okay?”
“You’re not Dawn. You’re nothing! You’re just a shadow!”
“Mom, please,” Dawn pleaded, already bursting into tears. Despite Buffy’s warnings, this was way worse than she pictured. Especially, since she’d been so well all night.
“No! Oh, no, there is no way I’m getting billed for this. I’ll call the headquarters, if I have to. Now you get out! You get out and wait by the curb until the delivery people come and get you!”
“Get out! Get out! Get out!”
And Dawn did. She ran down the hallway to her room and threw herself on her bed. Burying her face in her pillows she sobbed until she thought her throat would bleed, until she felt Buffy sit down on her bed and pull her into her arms.
“It’ll be okay, Dawnie. Just remember, whatever she said to upset you; it wasn’t real. She’s going to be okay on Friday. We-we just have to stay strong till then, okay?”
“I hate this, Buffy! I hate it that she says things like I’m not real. I hate that this stupid spot on her brain can make her into a totally different person!”
“I know, Dawn. I hate it, too.” Buffy rocked Dawn while they both continued to cry.
In her room, Joyce was muttering at the ceiling in between yawns. “I told them. I told them I didn’t order shadows. This is my house and I’ll decide which lights are in my house and I want yellow, not green. I’ll complain to the headquarters….”
End Ch 8
BTVS seasons 1-4
Spanderverse: After 314
BTVS: Real Me
Spanderverse: Confusion of Three
The Risks of Glory