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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.
Battling with a God
Ch 8 – Vision
Buffy was being disturbed by something licking at her face. She reached out and pushed the offending (puppy, kitten) thing away and tried to roll over, but the (pet?) animal wouldn’t leave her be. Opening her eyes with a groan, she issued a shriek when she found herself confronted by the large-toothed mouth of a sleek black panther. It growled softly at her and sat back on its haunches.
“Whoa, kitty-kitty,” she said as she went to stand. “Where the heck am I?”
A moment later and her sleep fogged brain got with the program. Oh, right… vision quest, Glory, answers… so this must be my guide to my uh… other guide.
“So, uh… you’re going to take me to see a Guardian, is that right?”
The panther only panted at her for a moment. When it deigned to move again, it turned its back to her. With a flick of its tail, it began to walk further away from the direction she thought Giles was waiting.
Unless, of course, he got bored… or hungry… or worried about his stupid penis-mobile. With a shrug she started following after the big cat, so clearly out of its natural element.
Giles blew on his cold hands and wondered if he’d upset anything if he were to add a little more wood to the inadequate fire burning. Of course, the only wood lying around was what he’d used to outline his sacred circle, so that might not be a good idea.
He hunched down with a sigh and tried not to think of how freezing he was or how tired he was getting. He’d already walked back twice just to make sure his car hadn’t been disturbed. It hadn’t. He’d felt silly even as he walked back; it was highly unlikely that there would be any hooligans this far out in the middle of nowhere.
Buffy had already been gone for a little over two hours now, according to his watch. The moon was high in the sky, though it didn’t shed much light. Above him, stars twinkled in the millions and he thought it might be breathtakingly beautiful if it was later in the season and warm. He rubbed his hands together and whispered out into the dark, “Take care of her. And, uh, if you could rush things along just a little… before I freeze to death.”
Out on the terrace, Xander took a deep breath of the night air. He could hear the distant sounds of traffic from
Tara will rescue her, Hyena thought at him.
Hey! Where you been? I thought I was alone in my skull there for a minute.
I’ve been here. I just haven’t had anything useful to say. Now that Spike is here and safe, anyway. I don’t know what to do about a God.
Yeah. Yeah, I hear you, he thought with worry. Don’t suppose you have access to a nuke, eh Commando?
The soldier-persona remained silent. He hadn’t been heard from in a while either, now that Xander thought about it.
Behind him the door opened and Spike joined him on the balcony. He lit up a cigarette. He’s probably been fiending all day, Xander realized.
“I’m going to need more of these, soon. Or I’m going to be rather unpleasant to be around,” Spike said, taking a drag.
“I’ll take care of it,” Xan told him. He blew out a sigh of air as he sank down onto one of the deck chairs. Spike took a quick scan out into the darkness of the city street and then joined him in the opposite seat.
“You look tired, Xan.”
“It ain’t just show. But I’ll be okay. How’s Dawnie?”
“She and the witch are talking to Willow. Sounds like she’s threatening to throw some spells around if they don’t let her out of there tomorrow.”
They sat comfortably for several moments. Spike drew on his cigarette and blew smoke out into the air. Xander rested his eyes and tried not to plan on tomorrow. Hyena had grown quiet again, but he could feel her moving around under his skin. He wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or worried that Commando guy seemed to be so incommunicado.
Well, there’s too much else to worry about right now.
“So,” Spike intruded on his quiet, “It’s not the best time, I guess….”
“What? You want to get back to the crypt?”
“Not what I was thinking about, but yeah, sooner the better. I gotta get back before I lose the place. There are always demonic squatters too lazy to put their own little pad together. Not to mention it took forever to gather more than a few pairs of jeans that fit just right.”
Xander snorted in amusement. “I can see that cemetery space would be at a premium.”
The vampire just nodded his head, only half listening. “So, uh….”
“It’s not like you to hesitate, Spike. If there’s something on your mind, just spit it out already.”
He instead took another deep, last drag off of his smoke. He ground the butt out against his boot and flicked it over the balcony wall.
“You kissed me,” he finally said.
Xander swallowed over the sudden lump in his throat. His heart was thundering in his chest and that made it worse because he just knew that Spike was picking up every tell tale sign his body could broadcast. When he thought he could speak without his voice cracking like he was going through puberty again, he nodded.
“I did. If this is the part where you want to yell at me for being a ‘knob polisher’ or whatever the really nasty Brit version is, and storm out, go ahead,” Xan said. “I’m pretty sure you can come up with something a little harsher than ‘poof’ and it looks like you can take care of yourself again, as long as you stay away from Hellgods.”
“That wasn’t what was on my mind. I’m just trying to figure out what it meant. Thought you were all boobies all the time; last I checked, I hadn’t grown any yet.”
Xander’s reply was aborted when the door opened again and Dawn came out onto the balcony carrying two cups of coffee. “I thought you guys could use these. Or at least the human one of you,” she smiled.
“Thanks, ‘Bit. How’s the red head?”
“Very snotty. I feel sorry for her nurses.”
“Just as long as she doesn’t really mojo them,” Xan smiled.
“I think Tara put the kibosh on that. Unless they try to make her stay past tomorrow night, then all bets are off. So…, I guess I’ll just, uh, go back inside and let you two… talk,” Dawn said with a sly smile and flounced back indoors. When she closed the apartment door between the terrace and inside, she pushed it extra firmly.
“Obviously, I’m not the only one who knows there’s something about, huh,” Spike said with a sideways glance.
“I might have had a very slight meltdown when I found out that Glory had you. Some things were said… embarrassing secrets came rushing out... little girls may have squealed.”
“Uh-huh. So, what exactly is going on between us? And why does it suddenly make sense that Buffy was so eager for me to talk to you?”
“Look, Spike, I shouldn’t have kissed you, okay? I’m sorry I crossed your personal space. You want to forget it, we can. You want to hurl insults, nothing’s stopping you.”
“You’re regrettin’ it then,” Spike said. His tone of voice clearly stated that he had expected as much.
“I don’t regret anything. I don’t know what you want me to say here. Give me a hint.”
“I want you to tell me what that kiss was for. I’m trying not to take it as more than it was meant to be, you wanker.”
“It’s not that complicated. I like you; really like you. I love the way you move, the color of your eyes, the way you can go from killer demon protecting us to stroking Dawn’s hair like she was brittle as a porcelain doll in two breaths. I like the way we can laugh together and how I know you have my back on patrol. I like that you’ve shocked the hell out of me and somehow despite everything that should be between a vampire and a mortal, somehow we’ve made things work, anyway. I like watching you become someone completely new and I want to be a part of it. I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you.”
Spike sat back and lit up another cigarette while Xander re-closed his eyes. He was so tired, he wasn’t even afraid that Spike knew anymore.
Finally Spike spoke again very quietly as if he wasn’t sure he wanted Xander to hear him. “I like you, too. It’s been… awhile… since I’ve trusted someone. I trust you. You don’t mince words when I’ve crossed a line, and the devil knows you shouldn’t have anything to do with me after… everything. I find you… interesting.”
“So… you’re not angry about the lips touching thing, then?”
“Not angry… might want you to do it again. Now that my mouth is in better shape to return it. I just don’t know why you’d think I’d be pissed or that I’d berate you… thought friendship was supposed to cover that sort of thing.”
Xander sighed, “I don’t know. I just realized after I did it that if you were a person, and hey…, not attracted to any other guys, this is totally about you. But if you were another guy, I wouldn’t have done that. Another guy would’ve been free to punch my lights out; the only reason I kissed you is ‘cause the worse you could do was yell a bit and storm out as soon as the leg was better. And I didn’t even have the courage to let you do that much; ran out of the room as fast as I could before you could wind up and let me have it.”
“I thought… maybe you were ashamed. I remember our talk after Drac….”
“…Not ashamed, Spike,” he cut that sentiment off midstream. “Never ashamed… but I’m not ready to…. Uh, there’s stuff I’m not ready for. Yet. I’m getting there, but, not yet.”
“I ain’t getting any older. We’ll take it at your pace. But Xan, the gang? Giles?”
Xander nodded. “That might be a little rough for awhile. The gang likes you; they appreciate you, but they’re worried. And I think Giles has raced past worried and right into angry.”
“They don’t trust me.”
“Not completely. Not the way I do. The important thing though, is Buffy is on board.”
“And if that ain’t a miracle….”
“So,” Xan gave him a tired grin, “Guess this would sort of make us ‘boyfriends’, then?”
“Don’t be a geek,” Spike smirked back.
Buffy came over the rise of yet another hill. By this time, she was sure she’d have met the ocean but instead there was only more sand and scrub. And a fire. A roaring bonfire that should have lit up the whole sky with light, but somehow didn’t.
“I know this place,” she whispered.
In front of the fire, backlit by it was a tall, black woman. She was regal and proud, despite being wrapped in the horrible fashion faux pas of gauzy bandages that the First Slayer had worn.
Buffy frowned briefly. “You’re not her; the one that attacked us in our dreams. Sineya’s daughter?”
“We’ve taken this form from your heart. This one dwells there.”
Buffy remembered the morning after she’d convinced the Slayer spirit to relinquish her friends. She’d felt sad for the woman; all alone… no family, no friends, not even her own name. She accepted the form this Guardian chose with a nod.
“You seek an answer. A battle which a Slayer was not meant to wage.”
“And yet. It’s not that I’m afraid to fight Glory, but so far I’ve been less than effective. She’s threatening the people I… she is threatening my friends.”
“And the sister who is more.” Dawn’s smiling face appeared in the flames behind the Guardian. “Why do you avoid saying ‘those I love’?”
“I-I’m not sure. I… I feel like maybe I should keep those things bottled up? Like maybe, it helps if I stay closed off a little. I think… sometimes I think, maybe I’ve closed up too much. Xander says I have. My boyfriend left because I was. Dawn needed me and Cordelia, of all people, was the one that had to be there for her. Ever since my mom got sick or maybe before…, I don’t know.”
Dracula stood in the flames, now, replacing Dawn. Buffy could hear his voice telling her about the darkness he felt in her.
“You fear what you are. You fear letting it get close to others.”
“Yeah, maybe. There’s a lot of violence in here,” she said pointing to her breastbone. In the fire behind the guardian, she saw herself deliberately slay the sad creature that
“Violence is a part of your heritage.”
“But I don’t want it to be all that there is, you know? Maybe that’s why I can’t beat Glory… maybe I’m not willing to unleash it? Maybe I’m afraid it’s going to swallow me.”
“You worried needlessly. Violence is only part of your heritage. The other, greater part is Love.”
In the bonfire, images flashed by faster than she could keep up with and yet she knew each even with so fleeting a glimpse. Willow sipping water from the fountain, Xander stroking her forehead, Angel holding her in the cemetery, her holding Giles…. Buffy felt tears welling up. It was like the love was a physical thing and it was always cushioning her; she just hadn’t noticed in too long.
“Love? Love is part of being a Slayer?”
“If it was not for Love, you could not do what you do every night. You could not win against the darkness, for they know no Love; only destruction. Your foe will be beaten by this Love.”
“Really?” For some reason, Buffy felt relieved. Stopping someone with love was way better than always having to use force. Of course, that isn’t answering the big question….
“Uh… how exactly will love stop her?”
“Love will bring you to your gift.”
“A gift? I’m not sure I understand, does someone I love have a gift to give me, or will I give a gift that someone else can use?”
“Death will be your gift.”
“Death,” Buffy’s heart plummeted. She felt chills break out on her skin, gooseflesh rippling down her arms and legs. Mostly though, she felt disappointed. More violence, more killing….
“Death is your gift,” the enigmatic woman stated firmly.
“Okay, I don’t know where you usually live or whatever,” she said angrily, “But death is no gift. I’ve lost… I’ve had so many friends die and my mom, too. I may need to do what I do to protect people, but killing is never a gift.”
“Love, death, your gift,” the woman’s voice echoed as she faded away. Buffy found herself staring into empty night; the bonfire had departed along with the Guardian. From behind her came the loud mewl of the panther. As she turned she saw it looking over its shoulder at her and begin to pad away. She followed unhappily, not having found the answer she was hoping for.
After an even longer time, she was sure, than it had taken her to locate the Guardian in the first place she raised over a desert hill she recognized. Looking past her guide, she found her body lying curled in the sand, huddled against the chill. A brief gasp of surprise came from her and she looked at the panther for some sort of clue as to what to do now.
It gazed at her placidly with large yellow eyes. Actually, it kind of looked bored with her.
After a few moments of indecision, she crept up on her own prone figure. The entire sequence was surreal and she found herself almost afraid to touch herself, worried that she’d feel the cold flesh of a corpse. Finally, steeling herself, she reached out a hand to touch the still figure’s face.
And woke up, lying in the sand. She sat up quickly and gazed around herself. There was no other Buffy, no panther guide and no footsteps but the track she’d originally taken when Giles had sent her out here.
“Wow. That was weird,” she said in a hushed tone. And then she shrieked, “Damn, but it is flippin’ freezing out here!”
End Chapter 8, post one