“What have I done?” was the litany that had tormented him since that terrible moment in Buffy’s bathroom; when he realized the woman he loved was hurting, and he was the one who had caused it. “What have I done?” floated above all the years of power and freedom, the joy of knowing his place in life, connected to a great and all-consuming evil that would one day suck the world into a fiery oblivion. “What have I done?” ran like a discordant note through the sweet song of violence and bloodshed that had been his meat and milk for the last century and a quarter.
It was to clear up that discordant note that he’d gone to the demon. To quell that damning memory, the images that would have been so sweet once upon a time – a young woman beneath him, suffering under his power, begging him, by name no less, “Please, please, Spike, please!” Her sobs and terror should have been sweeter than raspberry cordial. Instead, they were only pain.
He had to end that feeling of anguish and shame, one way or another. If the demon destroyed him, then fine, it was over. If he won the trials... he actually had no idea what would happen. There was a hopeless optimist inside him that told him that she’d forgive him. Buffy would have to forgive him. He’d been trying to be good for her, and he’d have done this, earned this gift for her, and he would be like Angel, whom she had loved without a single hesitation. “You don’t have a soul,” she had pounded into him, over and over again, sometimes with her fists. “You can’t feel anything real. I could never be your girl.”
He’d be real. He’d be complete. He’d be enough for her – finally, enough for her.
But most of him didn’t even believe it.
Most of him was angry. He didn’t want her forgiveness – he wanted her shame. He wanted her guilt, he wanted her to finally feel sorry for all the pain she had caused him. The pain which he had – What have I done?– ultimately earned in the end. Bitch is gonna see a change!
And he won. He had survived. The universe was rent open, his soul was fetched from whatever nether-space it had been stashed in, and seared into his being like a brand.
And then it began. The discord wasn’t eased. It wasn’t brought into key to make a sensible harmony. No. The strident cacophony of what have I done? roared inside of him to epic proportions.
His first victim – what have I done?– the grieving widow weeping at the grave of his neighbor in the pauper’s field, whose blood had smelled so sweet to his newly born senses. He’d opened his eyes in terror, in close and suffocating darkness. He had battled his way through the wooden coffin, clawed his way out of the earth, into the heavy damp air of a London night. He nearly wept when he found the fog-cloaked night, knowing that everything was not the grave. The world truly existed, and he existed in it. Then he caught her scent – it caught him. It drew him, and he found her almost instantly, even in the fog. Yes! He hadn’t needed anyone to teach him how to kill. It was inside him, a perfect poem of death, and he’d bitten her throat out before he even knew what he was doing.
He had no finesse, no grace, no control. He’d grabbed her and relished her screams as he dragged her to the earth, gnawing at her flesh, the blood pouring into him as he ground his body over her, pushing her down, her arms breaking under his new strength, her screams causing her blood to bubble around his mouth as he gashed his way through her throat. The question, What am I doing? had never occurred to him then. What am I doing, why am I killing, why do I want this? These had never even glimmered into his head. There was no question. Only a joyous song of perfection and blood.
Then he heard a sweet and vicious laugh. William Pratt, the shy and sensitive poet, who preferred to think on beauty rather than those dreadful goings on of crime and poverty, looked up from his first victim with blood drenching his face, still sweet in his mouth, his hands sticky with blood and bone marrow. He looked upon the dark angel of his damnation, and never once asked himself, What have I done?
Drusilla gazed through him with her eyes three universes away. “Sweet William,” she called him. (He had never said his name.) “Why, look at you! I meant to teach you scuppers and backgammon, but you already forgot the rules!” She’d come drifting out of the darkness like a sylph, delighted with him, holding out her arms.
He remembered the pain she’d caused him; the floating agony of death within her arms, her lilting cockney lullaby as he was dying beneath her breath, “You will be my dolly. Tuck me in at night, my own, my watchdog, love me in the darkness, and pull me from the flames. Lookie, lookie what I’m making, Daddy! A new toy for you, a new boy for me. So you don’t have to watch me any longer. You’ll give me what I want, my effulgent baby doll, whatever I want. Mine. You are my own. All that love, that devotion, devotee on me.” He remembered the dying impulse as she ripped open her breast, made him suckle on her blood like a child, completely disgusted with her, with himself. But the moment the blood had touched his tongue, he’d been as unable to fight the instinct as a newborn. “That’s right, my daisy. Wither and die, so I can tear you open over and over and over, taste you like honey.” She scratched her nails along his tattered throat, compounding the pain, writhing her hips beneath him as if in the throes of passion. “I’ll make you right. My own dashing stranger.” The horror of it lay in how out of control it was. He was still human then. It was all disgust and pain and abhorrence. But he was past all choice the moment she’d sunk her teeth in.
He didn’t know when he’d died, when his soul had fled. But she had left him there, abandoned in a livery stable. Unknown, unnamed, so the parish had no choice to but bury him in this pauper’s field in an unmarked grave, unrecognized, unmourned, and forced to battle death alone, from inside a coffin. She expected him to come to her arms when she appeared. He should have hated her. He should have run from her. Whether he himself was evil now or not, she should have become his nemesis for what she’d done to him.
He fell into her arms as if she were salvation itself. Still drenched in blood he’d lifted her skirts and taken her against a gravestone without a second thought, poured his pleasure into her as she kissed the blood from his mouth. It was an immoral act as depraved and monstrous as the murder he had just committed, so far as his Victorian ideals demanded, but Drusilla was right – he had already forgotten all the rules. He had, just as she’d told him to, fallen desperately in love with his killer. And he never once asked himself, What have I done?
The killing came fierce and fast, then. He knew no more rules. The two of them ravished their way through town, and he quickly forgot the faces of his victims. What have I done? They’d slaughtered whole families, and carried off the babies for a before-bed snack, relishing their cries of hunger and terror for hours, beautiful songs of death. What have I done? He’d let himself play blood games, play the willing victim for Drusilla and her ‘daddy’ Angelus, no shame or guilt or self-respect left beneath his blood-drenched unlife. What have I done? He tracked down his old friends and socialites, and tortured them with railroad spikes, to see if they really would prefer that to his poetry. What have I done? He’d started killing for the sake of the kill, no hunger, no blood, just the rush and the crunch and the crack, pulling bodies apart just to listen to the sounds they made. What have I done? He’d killed other vampires, thrown himself into riots just to listen to the sound of bones breaking. He’d stalked and slaughtered a slayer, finally a worthy opponent, and made himself a legend and a thing of fear to other monsters just as bad as he was. What have I done? He’d raped women and girls before their half-dead families, draining their blood as he filled them with his lust, enjoying the songs of their cries. What have I done? And never once did the question even enter into his head. What am I? Why am I doing this? What have I done?
It was all just part of the dance, part of the symphony, part of the all-encompassing rhythm of evil with which he was joined. With which he was still joined.
That was the part Angel had never told him. The part he had never considered. Now, he had a soul. He had a conscience. He had a question. What have I done?
But the bloodlust was still there. The evil still rooted in him. The impulse was still to hunt, to kill, to feed, and every pulse of it was racked with the discord of What have I done? The crimes, the death, the blood, the pain, all of it was real now. All of it had consequences. All of it had been his, his body, his hands, his teeth, his cock, his crimes, his evil, and all of it was on his soul. His soul, once innocent and charming and devoted, now drowning beneath death-sticky old blood, that he could never again abide, but still longed to taste.
Every crime. Every victim. Every act of evil. They all tasted just as sweet in his memory. They all still made him sing with longing and pride. And every note was jarred with shamed disgusted dissonance – How could I do that? How could I want that? What have I done?
He staggered out of the cave, listening to the demon laugh behind him, as Spike underwent a torture a thousand times worse than any he had endured to earn the soul in the first place. He had a large trunk awaiting him at the docks, an address slapped on it to have it shipped to Sunnydale Municipal School District. All he had to do when he got to the coast was crawl inside and wait to be dropped off, back to Sunnydale and Buffy. The plan had been so firmly written in his head that he had no other idea of what to do. As if it were his saving grace, he staggered off through the desert, back to the coast, back to his trunk, back to his love.
It wasn’t until he was fully curled up in the dark, the trunk sealed above him, that he realized he should never have headed back. He loved her – he couldn’t taint her with this, with his crimes and his pain and his discordant longings. He’d gotten the soul as a gift, for her. Now that he had it, he knew it for the black and hideous thing it was, as disgusting as offering her the eviscerated corpses of his century of evil.
Once more, out of the darkness of his being, the question rang out again.
What have I done?