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Could Be You - Chapter 14

Title: Could Be You
Chapter: Fourteen
Previous Chapters Here
Rating: NC-17
Summary:  You know you wanna dance.  Spike knew it, the fans knew it, and this time, Buffy knew it, too.  Begins in the alley scene outside the Bronze during Fool for Love and moves swiftly off-canon.

Beta:dampersnspoons , who rocks my socks!
Banner: xtanitx



 

*~*

Morning arrived sunny and warm with just the tiniest hint of a breeze cooling the air.  Buffy watched the sky lighten from the roof outside her window where she spent most of yet another sleepless night.  It must’ve meant something that this day, which should be dreary and cold and verging on stormy, started out so bright and welcoming.  That was odd for November, even in California, and Buffy decided it had to be a good omen.

Time moved strangely.  The night she spent on the rooftop waiting for tomorrow seemed to stretch on for days.  The few hours of morning, between her mother’s first whispered word and the final sips of coffee, passed by in a blur of mere seconds.  Now here they were, pulling up in front of Sunnydale Memorial, where every little memory, all those forgotten moments of life as  Joyce Summers’ daughter crashed over Buffy like a tidal wave.

Walking through the halls was like walking through fragments of time.  Every little thing and every little nothing reflected back at her with some tiny piece of significance.  The flowers on the counter were like the ones Buffy picked for Joyce on a long-ago birthday, and didn’t that clock sound just like the one they used to have in Los Angeles? 

Buffy’s gaze drifted to her mother, who wore her scarf like a fashion statement instead of a way to hide the biopsy scar, who was walking toward the surgical ward on her own two feet, thank you very much. She looked so strong this morning.  Determined, as though it was somebody else about to undergo brain surgery, and all Joyce had to do was offer up a hug and a few kind words and spend an hour or two as a shoulder to cry on.  Buffy wondered if the memories in her mother’s head were the same as the ones in hers.

The nurse who met them at the station had kind eyes and a tired smile.  She spoke many words but Buffy heard none of them, just held her mother’s hand as the IV went in and fought the fear and dread and the thousand other things churning in her gut. All the while, Joyce revealed what she knew about Dawn and made Buffy promise to look after her.  And then Dawn burst in, teary-eyed, but still trying to smile her way through it, ending the conversation and reducing another block of time to a few hazy seconds.  The three of them clung to each other in silence before the nurses came and wheeled Joyce away.

Her friends waited behind her.  Giles, who had spent the night on her couch so he could drive them in the morning, along with Xander, and Anya, and Willow, and Tara.  She hadn’t asked them to come, but they came anyway.  Buffy followed them into the bleak, sterile landscape of the waiting room, still holding onto Dawn as though she might slip away like the figment she was.

*~*

One of these days, Spike figured, he would remember that blitzing himself on alcohol never actually solved his problems, just numbed them for long enough to make them burn like hell when the booze ran out and the buzz wore off.  He threw the empty bottle across the room and didn’t care that the sound of it shattering ricocheted around inside his head like a bullet.  The headache took his mind off things better than the Jack Daniels ever could.  Maybe he ought to go smack around some humans and give himself a migraine. 

If nothing else, that would be a hell of a lot better than this.

Fuck, his chest hurt.  Rather be hurting than dust, though Spike didn’t particularly enjoy the reminder that he now owed his continued existence to Harris and his unexpected but timely arrival.

The sun was up.  Spike’s skin itched in that way it did when the universe tried to remind him that good vampires should be safely tucked away in their coffins by now, but he couldn’t sleep.  Too many things running rampant in his brain for that.  He knew what day it was, knew where she’d be right this minute and how exhausted she’d look while trying to hold everything together.  She wouldn’t have slept either, he reckoned. 

He wondered if Finn even bothered to tell her what he’d gotten himself into.  Part of him hoped she didn’t know yet, but mostly he hoped the fucking fool had told her every last detail.  Let her hear for herself just how far Finn would go to walk on the dark side.  The irony of it was enough to kill him all over again, and nearly did considering how much it hurt to laugh.  Stormed off to avenge her honour, or whatever excuse he dreamt up to account for his late-night mission of un-mercy, yet he’d gone there first for another fix.

Finn had fresh marks on his neck and the scent of vampire clinging to him like cheap cologne when he burst into the crypt.  Spike missed it at the house, with the stink of the demon still heavy in the air, but there was no disguising the truth the moment Riley broke down the door.

Later, if Spike ever got the chance, he might let Buffy think he’d torched the whorehouse so she wouldn’t have to.  He was sure she was hovering somewhere in his brain when he lit the wick and tossed the flaming bottle into the side of the building, though that idea came later, in the dizzy hours after he’d run out of Bourbon.  Been a long time since he’d caused a blaze like that and he’d forgotten how much fun fire could be.  The place had gone up like nothing, causing a car crash out front and few deliciously chaotic minutes where body-shaped objects flung themselves out of flaming windows.  Finn managed to get out—and wasn’t that a bleeding shame—but watching it burn and listening to the screams was well worth the scorch marks on his fingers and the scratch of ash in his throat.

Spike might be a fool.  Likely was, for all he knew.  Maybe he didn’t deserve Buffy after all, but to hell with the world if Riley Finn did, either.

Not that it mattered much.  Finn could still be hanging round or not—and it wasn’t a pleasant thing to consider just how much he would give for the answer to be not—but Spike wasn’t going to make things worse for her by showing up now.  He shouldn’t have left in the first place, no matter what Finn had to say about it.  Wouldn’t do Buffy a lick of good for him to show up now, a day late and no excuse to account for it.  Probably just make everything worse.

Spike growled into the empty crypt.  “Keep tellin’ yourself that, you bloody coward.”

He picked up another bottle and hurled it at the wall, smashing it and splattering the remaining ounce or two of liquid across the wall.  Fuck it, and while he was at it, fuck Riley and brain tumours and bloody daylight, too.  Spike was known for a lot of things but doing ‘the right thing’ wasn’t one of them.

No way in hell was he going to start now.

*~*

Somebody—Willow, maybe, or it could’ve been Xander—said something about the time.  Buffy tried not to pay attention but it was difficult with the second hand of the wall clock tick, tick, ticking away above her head.  Time was a funny thing.  She could deal with it when it was running out and she had a world to save.  It was an enemy then, something she could beat, if not physically, then by doing something physical.  Give her something to hit, something she could sink her fists into and pound to oblivion.  This, these seconds of life left behind with the motion of a little plastic stick, miniscule pieces of existence she had to sit by and watch slip away, was something she didn’t know and really didn’t like.

Dawn, using Buffy’s leg as a pillow, muttered something in her sleep but didn’t wake.  What Buffy wouldn’t give to be able to sleep away the gnawing fear inside that the longer this took, the worse it would be.

No.  She couldn’t think like that.  She couldn’t let herself forget the hope she felt at sunrise this morning any more than she could deny how much it meant to her to have everyone here waiting with her.  They helped her save the world.  That had to mean they could save the most important person in it.

“Such a delicate procedure surely requires time,” Giles said.

Buffy didn’t remember speaking, but he looked directly at her as he spoke.  She swallowed.  “Do you—do you really think so?”

“I do,” Giles said.

Buffy decided to believe him.

Chatter continued on around her, but she let her mind wander away from the conversation.  Their voices were more comfort than any words could be, anyway.

It took Xander clearing his throat hard and repeating her name for Buffy’s distracted brain to realize he was trying to get her attention.  When she finally looked up, he wasn’t looking at her at all, but staring over her shoulder, his mouth set in a thin line.  Buffy’s heart was already pounding when she turned to follow his gaze, and belatedly she recognized the tingle at the back of her neck for what it was.

Standing just down the back hallway, only halfway through a doorway marked ‘Restricted’, Spike stood, looking paler than usual under the bright hospital lights, his face a mess of purple bruises.  The sight of that made her shudder, because even if she hadn’t physically struck him, she knew she’d been the one responsible. He stood frozen by the door, alternating between staring at her with those penetrating eyes and watching his hands fiddling with his lighter. 

Buffy slipped out from under Dawn, ignoring whatever Giles and Willow  had said when  her feet moved on autopilot, carrying her toward Spike.  His answering footsteps were loud and uneven on the hard hospital floor.  A million words all fought for voice, tangling on her tongue until she thought all she could manage was an unintelligible gurgle. 

“You—you came,” she said instead, which wasn’t saying much, except that it was everything when she thought about all that had happened until now.

“Buffy,” he said, breathing her name more than speaking it. 

She leaned into his trembling palm when he reached out to touch her face, and went unresisting into his arms when he pulled her to him.  He smelled of blood and booze and a forest fire’s worth of smoke, and was shaking harder than her.  The feel of him, his chest beneath her face, his arms around her like a safety net she hadn’t wanted to admit she needed, was just so unbelievably good she had to force herself to pull away before she melted there permanently.

 “Thank you,” she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.  “Just—thank you.”

There were more words, but they could wait.  This wasn’t the time for that, anyway.

Buffy tugged on Spike’s sleeve and he followed her back to the waiting room, where wide eyes and unreadable stares greeted them from all but Xander and Dawn. 

Giles cleared his throat.  “Buffy—”

“No,” Xander said, before anyone else could speak.  “Not now.”

Buffy sat back down beside Dawn, Spike sinking stiffly onto the chair on the other side.  The eyes of her friends followed them, and Buffy looked at Xander and nodded, as grateful for his intervention as she was for the others’ silence.

“Excuse me, Miss Summers?”

When she looked up, Dr. Kriegel was standing a few paces away, hands clasped in front of him.

Buffy got to her feet, reaching for Dawn’s hand and clutching it tightly in her shaking fingers.   Her friends stood, too, Spike a solid presence at her back, the others gathered all around her in a circle of strength.

Buffy took a deep breath.  “W-what happened?  Is she all right?”

Dr. Kriegel said a lot of words, most of which made no sense.  All she could hear, before everyone sighed in relief, were the most beautiful words ever spoken in the history of speech.

“Your mother’s going to be fine.”

After that, she didn’t have to worry about what anyone else had to say, because those six little words were the only ones that mattered.

*~*


 

>>To be Concluded in Chapter 15

 

Comments

( 5 have spoken — take the speaking stick )
(Deleted comment)
abelina
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm very glad that you are enjoying this. How are you feeling today?
sarian71
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
The theme of this chapter? Definitely 'Waiting'. I could feel how time moved slowly, so slowly.

I loved the moment when Spike showed up in the hospital, and everyone could see the two of them openly showing their feelings.
abelina
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
The theme of this chapter? Definitely 'Waiting'

Yes, exactly. I'm so glad the feeling was tangible for you -- I was hoping it would be. Thank you, very much.
treadingthedark
Jul. 16th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Just read this whole story at once, it's beautiful.
abelina
Jul. 16th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 5 have spoken — take the speaking stick )

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