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Songs of Pain and Comfort, chapter 1

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. WARNING ALERT: While I usually don’t feel the need to include warnings, this story contains disturbing images of injuries sustained during torture. There will also be guy on guy romance (which should be obvious by the Spanderverse moniker), if you find that squicksome. I don’t intend to include such a warning on every story from now on so just assume Gay Content applies.

Notes: Story number eighteen in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Coming Together”. 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.

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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Songs of Pain and Comfort

Ch 1 – Normality, or the Attempt

 

The two weeks after Joyce’s funeral was, in some ways, even worse for Buffy than the one before. Perhaps she just needed the time to grasp what had happened or process it or something. She didn’t know; she wasn’t taking any more psychology courses after the last debacle. What she did know is that not being with Dawn in the house all day, focused on comforting her or keeping her busy, was more difficult than she had expected. She’d thought that with both of them getting back to classes it would distract her from the gaping hole in her middle, but that wasn’t the way it worked out.

 

She missed her mother too much. She worried about what Glory was going to do next too much.

 

The only way she knew how to deal was to try not to feel anything, but that was easier planned than actually done.  She found herself having to take a deep breath before anything she said to keep from snapping at people, especially Giles. She needed the Council to come up with something and she knew they were working hard at it. She knew it, but it didn’t help; she was still fighting against a god and trying to keep the Knights from getting wind of Dawn’s nature or making things worse by getting in the way. They had certainly gone low profile since Travers arranged with the government to deport the ones they’d taken into custody. But they were out there, she knew. Sniffing around with their magic and watching her from a distance. They might be sneaky, but she was the Slayer and could feel their eyes on her when she patrolled.

 

Tara wasn’t helping her mood any, either. It wasn’t on purpose, of course. And she understood everything the Wicca said when it came to her proclamations that they couldn’t try teleporting Glory again or delving into dark magicks to fight her. But Buffy was desperate and found herself siding with Willow; they may need to risk a little evil hoodoo to fight the greater danger. Tara was pretty adamant in her views though and she’d seen Willow glare daggers at her when the blonde’s back was turned. It was added stress that no one in the Scooby gang needed right now.

 

At least Anya and Xander seemed to have accommodated themselves to their break up. No one was more surprised than she when it had come out that they’d been ‘just friends’ for the past month or so. They still seemed to be getting along just as well as when they’d been a couple, maybe even better. She wondered why her relationships with her exes couldn’t be so easy and comfortable.

 

At least, she mused, I got my own hair back. After the hospital incident, she didn’t feel any need to continue with her black locks and although she did consider another color, she just wanted her own look back.

 

Buffy snapped back to where she was when her Folklore and Modern Myths teacher dismissed the course for the day. She hoped she hadn’t missed anything too important. As she gathered up her books, she felt the wound in her shoulder tug a bit. It had completely healed for the most part, but some of the muscle had been torn pretty badly. It remained a reminder that for all her strength, Buffy was completely outclassed.

 

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Dawn recited the paragraph from her history book as requested, but it was done with no enthusiasm and even less energy. American History was boring to begin with. After all, our nation wasn’t exactly exotic. More to the point though, she had better things to deal with: her mother, Glory, her being some mystic Key… who cared about this stuff when there was such bigger issues.

 

Finally it was over and she was allowed to resume her seat. The teacher, probably just to be a pain in the rump, asked a follow up question which Dawn answered dutifully. When Todd was called to read the next page, Dawn was finally allowed to get lost back inside her head.

 

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Ben had pulled a double shift again at the hospital. The past weeks he’d heard several differing accounts of the recent excitement on the fifth floor and he was wracked with guilt. Glory, being the bitch she was, had murdered Doctor Waitefield in Internal Medicine. He’d known the doctor by reputation mostly; a sour man with a god complex, he’d never-the-less had been a brilliant doctor and now the people who could have benefited from his expertise were denied that talent.

 

He stripped out of his light blue scrubs and made his way to the shower room off of the doctor’s lounge on the fourth floor. The fifth’s remained blocked off with police tape as they investigated what had happened. They weren’t going to find anything, but they kept sending technicians back and had interviewed everyone at least three times.

 

As he turned the water on and adjusted the temperature, his thoughts were on the big secret he’d learned. He leaned his head against the wall and wished Buffy’s sister had never come here.

 

Dawn Summers, somehow, was the mysterious and powerful Key that his twin wanted so badly. Ben had little doubt that if any of Glory’s scabs had even an inkling that the Key could be human now, they’d tear apart everyone in their vicinity looking for it. He wished Buffy would get her sister out of town; just run far away, but that must have occurred to her already. There must be some reason that she remained, even being aware of the danger they were in. Ben sighed and worried as he set to scrubbing two days worth of perspiration away.

 

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Rupert Giles read through the priority letter again, shaking his head in disbelief. It was from Quentin and basically lay out that the monk who’d shown up at the Council had remembered another detail; one which Giles would have rather he’d forgotten permanently. Apparently, he’d caught but a glimpse of the Key as it was transported away and only now recalled its strange elongated shape just before vanishing. A shape that might have been ‘human-sized’ and, perhaps, ‘generally humanoid shaped’. The Council wished Giles to look for any strangers in the town of Sunnydale which may be acting oddly… the Key could, possibly, be humanoid.

 

Dawn’s identity felt closer to being revealed and he felt a shiver race up his spine. If the Council of Watchers figured it out, they’d send a special operations team in to eliminate her. They probably wouldn’t even inform him that they were on their way.

 

For Giles, already wrestling with the possibility that he would have to kill Dawn despite knowing what it would mean for Buffy, the walls were beginning to feel like they were pressing inward. If Dawn had to die to keep Glory from bringing chaos to all reality, then he would do what he had to. But he’d be damned if it wasn’t the very last resort they’d turn to and he sure as hell wouldn’t allow some anonymous hit-man to make the choice for him.

 

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“Knock it off,” Spike said harshly. He was lying on the bed and trying to enter the vampire rejuvenation sleep he needed. Next to him, plugged into the smelly generator was the Buffybot. Apparently, however, she could still function just fine while recharging.

 

“I don’t understand, Spike. You’re my lover, am I not supposed to see to your needs?”

 

He sighed. “Look, ‘Bot. I understand what you were programmed for, okay? I bloody well was the one who insisted on your… features. But that was when I was stupid. Things have changed.”

 

“Define this ‘change’,” Buffybot responded, smiling.

 

Always that damned smile, Spike thought. I don’t know why I don’t just destroy the damned thing. But, damn it, she… or it… does fill up the lonely days. If only I knew how to get rid of the sexual stuff.

 

“It’s like this; I just don’t feel the need for sex. Got it? I’m not interested in gettin’ off like that anymore. Why don’t you just… shut down, or go into stand by or whatever it is you usually do when you’re recharging?”

 

Buffybot briefly frowned as her head tilted in thought. “My programming doesn’t indicate what I should do when my boyfriend won’t engage my programs, Spike. I believe I may need to upgrade my software.”

 

Spike rolled his eyes and turned on his side away from his robot. Over his shoulder he said, “Just go to sleep. I sure as hell need to.”

 

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Ben stretched out a crick in his neck before getting in behind the wheel of his second rate car. Before he had time to install the key and engage the ignition, a wheedling voice called from the back seat, startling him.

 

“Sir, if you please,” Granier simpered, “I have a message from her Mighty Wonderousness. She wishes to inform you of her displeasure with your refusal to assist Grono. She wishes me to ask why you are being so obstinate?”

 

“Get out,” Ben scowled as he left the vehicle. A moment later and he had the back door opened and was hauling out the brown robed Halfling by his collar.

 

“P-please, sir… if you could have seen how close Grono came to being torn apart…. Her Gracious Delightfulness can be quite impatient. Surely you can see that it is inevitable that the Key will be obtained. There would be far less pain and death for the mortals you so care about if you would assist.”

 

“I will never help her hurt an inn… uh, hurt anyone by opening that gate.”

 

“An… innocent? What an odd thing to almost say, sir.”

 

“It was a slip of the tongue,” Ben said quickly. Perspiration began dotting his head and above his lip. He was too tired and it was making him clumsy. “W-What I meant, was that a lot of innocents would die if the Key is found by her!”

 

“O-oh, yes… yes, I understand. Well, I must run along.”

 

Granier tried to rush off, but Ben grabbed hold of him. He was shaken in the human’s clenched fists around the front of his robe.

 

“I-I didn’t mean that the Key was an innocent,” he insisted.

 

“No! No, sir, of course not. That would be silly. Excuse me,” the minion said as he tried to pry Ben’s grip from the front of his robe.

 

“You’re going to tell her, aren’t you? You know what she’ll do! How many people will be hurt!”

 

“I-I wouldn’t sir! P-please, let go!”

 

“I’m sorry… I can’t let you,” Ben said as he grabbed the dagger carried by all of Glory’s ‘helpers’. Before Granier had the chance to respond, Ben was sinking the blade deep into the creature’s gut.

 

Granier gasped with the awful pain, feeling the chilled metal sinking deep into his intestines. He groaned and whined wordlessly, clutching at Ben’s shoulders. He tried to beg Glory’s keeper to stop, but no words would form.

 

Ben again pushed the dagger, causing it to travel even deeper into Granier’s mid-section. The dwarf’s feeble grip on his shoulders failed and he fell to the tarmac, his eyes shutting with a last grimace. Ben stared down at his handiwork before looking around for any witnesses to what he’d done. Seeing no one nearby, he yanked on the feet of Glory’s minion and tucked the corpse into some thick bushes. Once done, he heaved his empty stomach onto the parking lot blacktop before getting shakily into his car again. A few deep breaths later and he was peeling out of the lot, trying desperately to forget the look in the creature’s eyes.

 

I had no choice, he thought in misery. He’d never wanted to hurt anyone; not really. And he never thought he’d kill another living, thinking being, no matter how obnoxious. But Dawn’s safety, the world’s safety depended on keeping the secret that the Key was now human. I had no choice. I had no choice, at all.

 

Ben drove aimlessly around Sunnydale, unable to force himself to return to Glory’s penthouse and the bedroom she’d set up for him. He wasn’t sure he could look into the other little demon’s eyes and not blurt out what he’d done. He still couldn’t believe he’d done it; he’d betrayed his oath as a doctor to ‘do no harm’ and he felt bereft and a sense of disgust with what he’d become.

 

Behind Ben, in the thick bushes, Granier gasped in pain. The wound was deep and bleeding thick black blood, but it wasn’t as fatal as it appeared. Fortunately for his kind, the intestines weren’t a killing zone and he would heal as long as he didn’t bleed out. Perhaps if Ben had gutted him, things would have been different, but he hadn’t.

 

He grunted to his feet with difficulty and began the trek to his God’s penthouse. Glory needed the information that Ben had let slip and only Granier knew of it. He had to survive long enough to impart this knowledge to Her Most Silkiest of Skin before he could rest.

 

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End Chapter 1

 

Tags: btvs, buffy, fanfiction, harsens-rob, songs of pain and comfort, spander, spanderverse
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