Spike stood in a stable, listening to the clip clop of horses’ hooves from the street, a sound he had not heard in years. He was dreaming of the night he was turned again. He looked down and was unsurprised to see he was wearing the light grey suit with the buttercup yellow cravat. He felt his face for the glasses, throwing them to the ground and stood on them. Fuckin’ ponce. Spike often found himself dreaming of his bloody past, especially since he had fought and won his soul. His soul liked to remind him of his mistakes and the people he had murdered when he was painting the world red with Drusilla. There was a snapping sound from behind a stack of hay and he whirled around.
“Who’s there?” he called out, searching the darkness even though he knew who it would be.
A voice answered him from the shadows. “I’m here to find my prince again. He’s been out in the sunshine getting all burnt up.”
“Drusilla,” he said. He got to his feet and attempted to go into game face. When this didn’t work he tried once more only for it to fail again.
Drusilla walked closer to him. “My poor prince is without his weapons. You needn’t fear, my William. Let your princess set you to rights.”
She held out her hand to beckon him to her, however, he shook his head and remained where he was standing. She tutted, “Naughty boys are supposed to do what they are told.”
Unlike the last time he had been here, this time his instincts told him to run. Dream or no, he was not about to let Dru turn him.
He narrowly avoided her out stretched arms and ducked before making it out the door into the street. “I’ve never been good at that, pet,” he called over his shoulder as he ran.
Sure enough, there were horses and carriages on the streets and the people were dressed in old fashioned attire. He ignored the dirty looks he was getting and continued to run. For one brief moment, Spike thought Dru hadn’t followed him, but he soon heard her voice.
“Oh it’s a game,” she cooed from behind. “I do love hide and seek. I’m so very good at unwrapping presents.”
As he ran through the narrow street, scattering passers-by and startling horses, Dru was like a shadow behind him. He was trapped in a game of cat and mouse. He knew how this went as he had watched her play this game many times over during their century together. She would let the mouse get so far, then close the distance and pounce. This dream was so vivid he could hear the pounding of his heart and he could feel the sweat dripping off him. His hair was longer than he was accustomed to and he shoved it from his face. Spike came to a crossroads and with Dru in pursuit he had only a moment to choose which of the paths to take. He took the right one but only to curse immediately when he turned the corner. He could see the street led to dead end and there was no way out except the way he came in. He turned around and saw Drusilla standing at the entrance to the street with a twisted smile. “Run and catch,” she sang. “run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch.”
She was at his neck in a moment before he even had time to react. She nibbled at his neck but didn’t break the skin.
“I’ve been called many things, but I never thought of myself as a lamb,” Spike said.
“You still don’t know,” she said, with a shake of head. One arm was clamped tight around him preventing him from moving and she had a hand to his throat. She applied pressure to his windpipe and he struggled against her until everything went black.
It was dark when Spike came to. He wondered where he was and more importantly where his sire was. He tried to get up only for his head to meet a hard surface and used his hands to feel around. He could feel wood on all sides of him; the mad bint had put him in a coffin. He heard Drusilla’s melodic voice once again. “Calm yourself, William. You must be born again, my love.”
The lid was lifted from over him and Drusilla’s grinning face loomed over him. She reached out to shake him and he closed his eyes. When he opened them, he realized he was sitting upright on his bed breathing heavily and Buffy was looking at him, her eyes wide.
“Sleeping beauty awakes,” she joked. He sat up on the bed, then leaned back on the pillow and left out a loud groan.
“Bad dream?” she asked. “You were thrashing about.”
Her small hand rested on his shoulder.
“It’s just a dream, Spike. You’re home now,” she said.
He began to smile at her, but froze when he recognized the feeling of his heart beating. His breaths were coming out harshly and he put his hand up to his face, which was warm and sticky. He tried to get his vampire features to show, but like in the dream he wasn’t a vampire anymore.
“I’m still dreaming,” he mumbled. He had to be as the reality was unimaginable.
“You’re not dreaming, Spike,” Buffy reassured him.
He turned his eyes away from her penetrating gaze.
“No,” he insisted. “This isn’t real at all.”
He closed his eyes, hoping when he opened them things would be different. It worked earlier after all. He felt a sharp pain across his cheekbone and opened his eyes in shock only to see Buffy glaring at him.
“Was that real enough for you?” she asked.
He opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t find any words. His stinging cheek was proof enough this was no dream. He felt nauseous as the reality of the situation started to sink in. Buffy was looking at him with soft eyes and a contrite smile.
“I’m sorry,” she told him. “I just needed to make sure you knew you weren’t dreaming. I’m worried about you.”
“How long have I been sleeping?” he asked.
Buffy looked at her watch. “It’s noon now. I brought you back here after it happened.”
He shook his head and looked her in the eye. “I was dusting. Did you do something?”
He knew he was wrong the moment the words escaped his lips. He could see the anger and hurt in her eyes at the implication.
“I didn’t do anything,” she retorted. She paused a moment, before she continued, “I know what it’s like to be dead and done only to get resurrected. I wouldn’t do that to you.”
He took a deep breath. “I didn’t mean to accuse you of anything. I’m in new territory here, love. Bloody hell, I wake up one morning and I’m a real boy!”
Buffy nodded and she took his hand in hers and squeezed it. He was so grateful to have his girl here; her presence still providing an anchor in his shifting world.
He was still amazed by the sensations he had taken for granted over a century ago. Breathing was never a habit he had truly broken, but feeling his heart beat was alien to him. Buffy released her hold on his hand and embraced him tightly, causing him to wince in pain. She weakened her hold immediately and sat at the edge of the bed. “Whoops,” she said. “I’m just so relieved you’re okay.”
There was his first reminder of how things were going to change; he was very human and fragile. “Can I have something to drink?” he asked, licking his dry, cracked lips.
Buffy walked out of the room and returned a moment later with a jug of water and a glass. He took the glass and swallowed the contents gratefully. When he was finished, she filled it once more and she put a glass down on the bedside table. Spike swung his legs out of the bed onto the floor but didn’t stand up. He could sense Buffy watching him, waiting for him to do or say something, and he was grateful she was giving him the time to get his head together. They sat there in silence until Spike could bear it no longer. “What happened to me, Buffy? I remember that wanker driving a stake right toward my heart.”
Buffy sighed. “I don’t know exactly. One minute you’re getting a stake in the heart and the next you’re sparkling and all human.”
He choked at that. “I sparkled? Like that poof Edward Cullen?”
She laughed and he felt his heart speed up at the sound. “I’m kidding. It was more glowy than sparkly.”
“Glowy?” he asked.
“I was all colour-me-surprised too,” she replied.
“Am I a real boy for good now?” he wondered aloud. His voice was barely more than a whisper.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe, but I don’t really know anything for sure,” she admitted. “If I had to hazard a guess then I think it’s got to be that Shoo Shan Prophecy.”
“You mean the Shanshu,” he corrected her. “I don’t get it, love. I always thought this was Angel’s gig. He’s the one that wanted to be human so badly.”
“I know it’s a shock,” Buffy said. “We’ll deal, like we deal with everything that comes our way. That’s what we do.”
If only it was that simple? He ran his fingers through his hair. As far as he was concerned the whole thing didn’t make a lick of sense.
“Why the fuck would the Powers that Be give me the prophecy?” he asked.
“You’re a champion too,” she insisted. “Why wouldn’t you deserve it?”
He had a lot of answers to that, but he didn’t want to hurt her. Who says this is a reward? I’m weak and I can’t have your back anymore.
Instead, he settled for saying, “The soddin’ Powers don’t do things for a reward unless they’re getting something out of it.”
She bit her lip and he wondered if she drew blood. He would have known if he was still a vampire. “You’re right,” she confessed. “I just want to be optimistic for once. Is that so wrong?”
He snorted. “That doesn’t sound like you, love. You’ve seen the best and the worst of the world. You know what sort of wankers the Powers are.”
“Shut up!” He looked up at her. Her eyes were blazing with anger and her hands were on her hips. “You asshole! I have been worried sick about you. A few hours ago, I thought I was watching you dust before me and then I spent all night worried I was going to lose you anyway. I think I have earned the chance to be happy my boyfriend isn’t a big pile of dust.”
He felt a pang of guilt, realizing that if he had been through the ringer, then Buffy must be an emotional mess, worrying her pretty little head about him. He looked at the wooden floor not knowing what to say. He could feel her sidle closer to him on the bed.
“Look at me,” she commanded. He turned his gaze from the floor to her face.
“I get that you’re wigged.” She raised her hand to his chin and looked into his eyes. “I do. Still we’re together. I love you, and that’s what is important. I fell in love with the man and the monster. With or without the monster you’re still you.”
He wished he could feel as confident as she did. Still, he felt all warm inside at her declaration of love and he vowed he would learn to cope with this for her.
He kissed her forehead. “I love you too, Buffy.”
“I know,” she said, smiling. “We’ll get through this. We’ve fought skanky hell gods and the First Evil. This is nothing compared to that.”
She leaned her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her. Even the darkest times holding Buffy could anchor him in a way no other woman ever could. Not that there were many women he had been in love with. Only Dru really, and she was too bonkers to be much comfort. Buffy was his home and knowing that she loved him gave him strength to take on the world. Maybe they could come through this unscathed after all? The grumbling of his stomach interrupted their tender moment.
Buffy got up from the bed. “I’ll get you some soup and toast.”
She left the room before he could say a word. He got to his feet about to follow her when he heard the Nibblet’s loud laugh. He didn’t think he could deal with anybody else right now, even if it was the Bit. He could barely cope with this bombshell himself never mind face the Spanish Inquisition. He looked down at his hands and noticed they were trembling. He had been a poor excuse for a man the first time. Now, he had a second chance to be a man and he wondered if he would make the same mistakes.
Buffy walked back into the room, the delicious aroma of vegetable soup wafting in with her. Spike’s mouth watered in anticipation as she sat a tray on his lap. He picked up his spoon and started to eat the mixture like a starving man. He could feel Buffy’s eyes on him and he looked up.
“Thanks,” he said, between mouthfuls.
“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I have to head out for a while. I need to go grocery shopping. Will you be okay?”
He managed to refrain from rolling his eyes. “I’m a big boy. I don’t need babysitting. Just go do your shopping and you can fuss over me when you get back. I’m sure I can think of plenty of things you can do.”
She smiled, the smile not meeting her eyes. “Sure. I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
He watched as she left the room and the let the tension leave his body. He was trying to pretend he was coping with the bombshell, but the truth was he was a mess. He didn’t know who he was anymore for starters. He wondered if he could get to terms with it by doing things he hadn’t been able to do since he picked up his sun allergy. Everything looked the same, even though the whole world had turned on its axis. He walked towards the window and pulled the curtain open a smidge. He could feel his heart thudding against his rib cage, as he put his hand into the path of the light. He half expected his hand to start to smoulder but it didn’t of course. He pulled back the curtains fully and looked outside at their backyard. He opened the window and he stuck his head out breathing in the fresh air. Despite his demon, he had always missed the sun on his skin and he had dreamed many times of seeing Buffy in the sun once again, though he believed it would be impossible. Was this really the Shanshu or something more sinister? he wondered. His heart dropped as he realised that he would have to contact his grandsire and try to get whatever information he had on the prophecy. That was going to be a fun conversation. What could he say? Hey Peaches! You haven’t managed to lose that pesky soul again have you, because it looks like I’m the Powers new favourite pet. There was one thing the Powers had not bargained on though; Spike had never been one to follow blindly and do as he was told. He smirked as he thought about how he would show those soddin’ Powers that he wasn’t going to be their bitch. He moved away from the window and he walked into the bathroom. He looked at his face in the large mirror over the sink and he looked in wonder at his reflection as it mimicked his movements. He noted with disgust that his eyes were blood shot and he examined the stubble on his chin. His face was going to change and he was going to age like a dried up prune. His sense of smell was not as pronounced, his hearing was not as strong and he felt like some part of him was missing. The truth was that part of him was: his demon. He sighed, but he resolved not to let himself brood. He may not have wanted this, but he was damned if he was going to turn into Angel. Besides, he knew Buffy would kick his ass if he didn’t stop behaving like such a prat.
Spike was in the kitchen, sitting at the table with a mug of tea in his hands, when Buffy returned from her grocery shopping. His lips quirked, seeing her laden down with lots of bags.
He tilted his head. “Bought the shop out, did you, love?”
She walked over to the table and dropped the bags in front of him. “We needed more food especially now as blood is off the menu for you.”
She started to load the groceries away and he got up to help. He grabbed the milk and butter.
“I was thinking,” he said, opening the fridge. He turned to look at Buffy, whose head peaked around the cupboard she was stacking away the food in.
“Did it hurt?” she asked, with a mischievous grin.
He narrowed his eyes. “You cheeky bint!”
She was unrepentant. “It’s a good job I prefer brawn to brain.”
He feigned hurt putting his hand on his heart. “Talk about kicking a man when he is down.”
She put her hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle.
“So, what were you really thinking about?” she asked.
He paused for a moment, trying to choose his words carefully.
“You don’t think Angel’s off the wagon do you?” he asked.
Buffy froze at his words and went pale.
“No,” she protested. “We would know.”
He raised a brow. “Would we?”
“Faith would have called looking for back up,” Buffy pointed out.
“Would they have told you when you have been busy playing Florence Nightingale?” Spike asked.
She opened her mouth to protest, before quickly closing it.
“I’m going to phone Faith,” she announced.
Spike sat down on the edge of table as Buffy picked up the phone. At her look of disapproval he reluctantly sat on a chair instead. He put his hands behind his head and stretched, leaning back on the chair. His mouth quirked into a smile as he watched Buffy tapping her fingers on the phone. She was just as impatient as he was. She straightened up with a sudden jerk and he could just about make out the sound of a voice coming from the phone, but he couldn’t hear what was being said. He felt a pang of loss at another reminder of newly human situation, before shaking off the feeling and turning back to the conversation.
Buffy sighed. “That’s what I was wondering, Faith. I’m just calling to make sure Angel’s not come around all soul free.”
He watched her smile at Faith’s response. “Are you sure? Have you seen him in last couple of days?”
“Good,” she said, replacing the receiver. She plopped down on the chair next to him and beamed at him.
Spike raised a brow. “I take it that’s good news.”
“Peachy,” she replied. “Faith says he’s not been acting all homicidal. Besides, Angel’s been too busy watching ballet to do anything evil.”
Spike chuckled. “And you think Angelus didn’t enjoy the ballet? You’re wrong about that, love. Darla and Angelus loved to think they were refined, mixing with the toffs.”
Buffy scrunched her forehead in confusion. “Toffees? Mix what with toffee?”
He chuckled. “Toffs. Posh, stuck up people.”
She scrunched her nose. “Can’t you just speak English?”
“You colonials are the ones who butchered my mother tongue,” he argued. “Anyway, the point I was making is ballet can be evil.”
“Yeah?” She asked. “Been on the wrong side of a ballet shoe before?”
Spike shook his head at her quip. He was glad there wasn’t an emergency in Los Angeles, but he was back to square one. He still didn’t believe it made sense for the Powers to make him human. He wasn’t looking for redemption. He was a formerly bad man trying to make a difference and not some soddin’ hero type. What if this humanity was someone’s way of pulling his strings? The last time someone had him playing the hero it was some big ploy to get at Angel and wasn’t there a certain evil law firm that would get a kick out of messing with his own head.
“Wolfram and Hart,” he blurted out.
Buffy frowned in confusion. “Huh?”
“I was just thinking out loud,” he explained. “The evil law firm Angel used to run could have done this to me. When we were sent to the Hell dimension they made Captain Forehead human.”
“It’s not possible,” Buffy said. “A friend of Willow did all kinds of magic tests on you to check if there was a spell or any sort of hex, but she found nothing. It has to be the Shoe thing.”
“Oh,” he said. “I guess that answers my question then.”
Buffy shook her head. “Is it so bad, Spike? Is it so bad that you’re human again?”
“No,” he lied.
“Don’t lie to me,” she snapped. “I know you, William. I’m trying so hard here to be the supportive girlfriend.”
“You don’t understand, love. It’s not your fault, but you could never understand and I don’t want ever to have to.”
“Am I not enough for you?” she asked softly. “Is spending the rest of your life with me such a bad thing? Sure, you’re not going to live forever and you’ll age, but you have me.”
His heart ached at her words and he cursed his thoughtlessness. He tried to put his arms around her but she turned her back to him.
“I’m fine” she said. “I didn’t mean that.”
The hitch in her voice betrayed her. Spike put his hand on her shoulder and turned her around. He bent down slightly so she was looking directly at him. He could see tears in her eyes.
“Listen to me carefully, you silly bint,” he told her. “This is about you, yeah, but not in the way you think. Being immortal doesn’t mean anything to me and I couldn’t give a toss about ageing. In fact I reckon I’ll look very distinguished with some silver in my hair.” He saw her smile at that and his heart lifted. “Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. The thing is I’ve always had your back, been strong enough to fight at your side, and now I’ve woken up after a long nap to find things have changed. I’m useless, some cannon fodder some Big Bad going to try and use against you.”
She smacked his chest hard. “You big jerk! You’re not useless and you’re very important to me. Don’t you see how much? I’ve ruined my make up over you and I probably look like a racoon.”
“A beautiful racoon,” he said with a smirk.
She grabbed him and she pressed her lips to his.
Buffy and Spike spent the rest of the day alone and Spike enjoyed the privacy as he knew it wasn’t going to last long. He knew the time would come when he would have to face the hurricane that was the Scooby Gang. They sat on their sofa, their limbs entwined.
“Thanks for sparing me the ministrations of the Scoobies,” he said.
She smiled at him. “I figured you needed that space. Although, I think we have to bring in the big guns tomorrow, Spike. We’ve never been good for the whole researchy thing, and I promised I would get you all checked out when you got over the shock. ”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he moaned. “I don’t fancy getting prodded and pricked.”
“I’ll make it worth your while,” she replied with a wink.
He smiled. “You know how to manipulate me, you saucy bint.”
“You like me bossy,” she retorted.
“Maybe,” he conceded. “Does this mean I’ve got to call Gramps?”
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Buffy admitted. “Would it be better if I did the ringing? I know you Spike, and you’ll probably try and wind him up.”
Spike shook his head. “I think it would be better coming from me. That way he can accuse me of all sorts without you having to listen.”
She looked far from convinced. “I get that it’s your story to tell. Try not to be too much of a jerk about it.”
“You might have noticed I’m not exactly singing and dancing, love. I’m not about to pretend that I am for Peaches’ benefit either.”
“Fine,” she allowed. “Point taken and hammered home. I’ll just go and make the other arrangements on my cell. You can use the house phone.”
He could see the pain in her expression as she got up and walked out of the room. He sighed knowing that things were probably going to get harder before they would get better. He knew Angel was going to be upset that Spike had ruined his plans once more, but even Angel would have to admit that his time he fucked things up completely by accident. He actually felt sorry for the blighter and that was saying something coming from him. There was no point in procrastinating any further, so he decided to bite the bullet and dialled the Ponce’s telephone number.
“Hello,” came Angel’s voice on the other end.
Spike decided he might as well start out all confrontational. There was nothing like a conversation with Peaches to get the juices flowing. “About time. I don’t have all day to wait around.”
“Spike,” Angel acknowledged. The poofter didn’t sound too happy to hear from him.
He decided there was no point dancing around the issue and got straight to the nub of the matter. “I’m looking for some information on that Shanshu prophecy Percy discovered years ago.”
Spike fancied he could hear the cogs turn in Angel’s brain.
“And why would you be looking for that?” Angel asked.
Spike took a deep breath and told Angel an abbreviated version of what happened. There was silence on the other end of the phone. Spike could picture the look of confusion on Angel’s face as he tried to process what he just heard.
“Is this some sort of joke?” Angel finally asked.
“No, it’s not,” Spike said. “Given recent events I reckon that prophecy was about me.”
“I guess having Buffy wasn’t enough for you,” Angel sneered.
“Feeling bitter, are we?” Spike asked. “I was soddin’ well happy being a vampire. If I had my way I still would be, and you would have your bloody Shanshu.”
“Oh this is priceless,” Angel spat. “You have everything I wanted and still you’re not happy. You’re all poor me, instead of being happy you’ve got a chance at giving Buffy a normal life. Well do you know what? Fuck you Spike!”
“No thanks. Buffy might get jealous.”
“I hated you from the moment Dru saw fit to make you a vampire,” Angel sneered. “I thought she was subconsciously trying to repay me for siring her. However, I came to the conclusion when I was a souled that you were my punishment for all my evil deeds.”
“Get over it,” Spike snapped. “It could be that this is something else. That is why I need all you have or know about the Shanshu.”
“I don’t know much, but I will send you what I have. By the way, I’m not doing this for you.”
“I know you’re doing this for Buffy,” Spike said.
“Don’t be an ass, Spike,” Angel warned him. “Buffy is the best thing that ever happened you. Don’t fuck it up.”
Spike was speechless at Angel’s words of advice. Angel slammed down the phone and Spike ran his fingers through his hair. I guess that could have gone worse, he thought.
to be continued....