Remember Me - Chapter 8.
You sometimes have to wonder, just who is running the military these days. I've seen so many soldiers in the last few days it's a wonder anyone's left to defend the good ole US of A. Yet another anonymous green clad figure comes into the room, this time accompanying a middle- aged, bland looking woman.
'Tell it to sit down please.'
I cock a questioning eyebrow at her. Okay…not talking directly to the doggy. I'll go along with this for a while.
'What sort is it?'
The soldier boy consults his clipboard, 'Vampire, Ma'am.'
'Ahh. They're expensive. What is the reserve price on this one?'
'I can find out for you, Ma'am.'
'Please do. How old is it?'
'Nearly one hundred and fifty we believe, Ma'am.'
'Wonderful. Imagine. Think what things it's done. It's got the full chip in I suppose.'
'Yep. Can't hurt a fly.'
'Better and better. Have its…attributes, been tested yet?'
'It comes with a full recommendation.'
Okay, losing patience with the way this is going. 'Err…excuse me, Luv, but what the fuck are you talking about?'
'You. Shut up. Don't address the customers.'
'Fuck off, Mate. I ain't for bleeding sale and I'll talk to who I fucking like. Ow! Do that again and I'll…ow! Fuck off…ow!' He's far too handy with that damn cattle prod.
Oh and I really don’t like the look on that bitch's face. Nice middle-aged lady suddenly turns into a bunny boiler.
'Isn't it…interesting, when it's aroused?'
'Shut up, psycho-lady!'
'Put me down for the bidding. This one will make a lovely little addition to my stable. Check that reserve price for me…'
'Yes, Ma'am. You. Sit down.'
Oh bloody hell. Where's an obliging demon to stake you when you've changed your mind?
Ten minutes later and same soldier boy returns with another…customer. Bring back bunny boiler, I say. This one is really creepy. He's youngish…but that's hard to tell, really, given he's dressed in fucking tweeds. I don't even want to think about what he's buying me for.
'Err, what is the bidding likely to go up to, do you think?' Oh, English.
'Never know with these pretty ones, Sir, depends who's in for the night. They always fetch a high price though.'
'Can I speak to him, err…inspect him alone?'
'Sorry, Sir. Against the rules.'
'He can't hurt me though, I believe.'
'No, but they're sneaky…demons. I've strict orders, not to leave the room. Sorry Sir.'
'Oh. Well. In that case…' bloody hell! Nerdy English bloke turns into…Hong Kong Phooey and knocks the unsuspecting guard out cold with one uppercut to the jaw.
'Hello, Spike. I'm Wesley Wyndham-Price. Angel sent me. He couldn’t come because of the…oh, I say…no need for that old man…stiff upper lip and all that…err…Spike!'
I'd apologize for this unseemly public display of affection, 'cept I can't, cus I've got him in a tight hug and I'm kissing him all over his nerdy, English face. Angel sent him. Angel sent him. Angel.
'What's the plan then, Mate?'
'Err…well this is rather it, Spike.'
'Err…I come in, posing as a customer and…rescue you.'
'That's the plan! That's the fucking plan! We're in the middle of a military, top-secret compound and that's your plan? Did that come from the Rupert-bloody-Giles book of plans, Mate? I've had better plans than that!'
'Spike, I do think a smidgen of gratitude would be more applicable, under the circumstances. We have risked life and limb to get you, you know.'
Don't make me ask this. Someone stake me, sell me, anything me…but don't make me have to ask this.
'Oh. Yes, of course, you didn't think I'd come without excellent reinforcements. Err…Xander, Cordelia, I've dealt with our military friend. You can come in now. Spike! Spike, is something wrong? Is it your head? Spike, talk to me.'
Harris and the Prom Queen. Could have been the Slayer and the Witch, but no. Spike gets bleeding Harris and the fucking Prom Queen.
'Hello, Spike. Oh…what's wrong with you? You look awful. Jees, bruised much! And those cuts…bandages needed maybe! But hey, love the outfit, really suits you…what? What? It's important…clothes…you could learn a lot Xander, if you took more time…what? Why is everyone looking at me?'
'Come on Xander, help me with the guard's uniform. Looks like it will fit you well enough.' English guy bends over the still prone guard and starts to pull off his sweater.
Oh. Do I actually see the glimmering of a real plan here?
'Hey…military man is back in action! Love the stun gun. Hey, Spike, come over here, I need to practice with this!'
'Fuck off Harris. And what are you doing here? Why are you helping to rescue me?'
'Well…guess I wanted to watch that wide-screen, surround-sound, digital TV! Besides, who am I gonna insult with you gone?'
'Who said I'd invite you over to watch me new TV. Hey, do you like Passions?'
'Err, do you two think we could concentrate a bit here? We have to negotiate this complex, fool numerous real military types that…Xander, here, is our escort, you, Spike have to look like a Vampire recently sold to a perverted Englishman and his…wife…and all you two can do is discuss American soap operas. Yes, very helpful.'
'So you're a pervert are you then…what did you say your name was?'
'It's Wesley and he's not really perverted…well, no more than most men…that's my part of the plan. If we get stopped. That's our cover story. It's a bit like acting really. I'm his wife and he can't…you know…do the business…in bed, with a woman, so he's bought you as an…incentive! So look suitably impressed blondie…you've never been so lucky.'
Oh God. I'm seriously thinking about disappearing again at this moment. I'm in the middle of a fucking French farce.
'Come on then. Let's get this charade over with then. Sooner we get stopped, you three get shot, I get staked, the happier I'm gonna be! Come on. And stop pointing that bleeding cattle prod at me, Mate or you'll be discovering a whole, new and interesting sexual practice.'
To my intense disappointment we actually make it to the exit unharmed. We even pick up a real military man escort half way. On being challenged, Prom Queen goes into her ridiculous story: nerd does a passable impression of sexually perverted Englishman - and I'm not so sure he's acting – and Harris actually comes out with some useful military expressions. Real soldier boy offers to escort us to the exit! I'm almost beginning to feel that dangerous and deceitful thing called…hope, when it all comes crashing around me. Leaning against a truck, parked near the entrance is…Riley. He's looking directly at me and…Harris.
I've managed to pass an entire day lying on this bed. Thinking of Spike. Doing…stuff, thinking of Spike. Doing it again…thinking of Spike. So the day's not been entirely wasted. But I am incredibly anxious now the sun is going down. I want to be back in action. I want to be doing something more than just thinking about Spike. I want to be saving Spike, holding Spike, loving Spike. And lying here is not going to achieve any of those things. I start pacing. It usually helps. Not this time though. Only so much you can achieve with pacing in a small motel room. I'm about to risk the last rays of day and make a dash for the ice machine – anything to pass the time – when I hear a car pulling into the car park outside the window. I look out, not expecting it to be them: hoping it will be. In my mind, I see Wesley and Cordelia in the front seat, Spike and Xander in the back. All safe.
Unfortunately, it's not quite like that. Wesley and Cordelia are there, no Spike and no Xander. They look serious and in deep conversation about something. Wesley seems to agree with something Cordelia is saying and they both stop for a moment, taking deep breaths before climbing out of the car.
Oh God. Spike is…gone: dust. That's what the look on their faces says. No Spike in the car, no reunion, no eternity together.
I sit back down on the bed and look up at my little canine friend. He looks sad, the hat pulled low over his eyes. They knock on the door and Wesley comes in first.
'Don't tell me. I don't want to hear it, Wesley. I can't hear it. Not now. Maybe sometime in the future you can tell it all to me. Let's just get going. I need to be out of here now. Please.'
'Oh. Well…all right. Are you sure, Angel? It's a rather thrilling story if I do say so myself. We had an excellent plan too. Cordelia, tell Angel about your cover story. It's really rather amusing.'
I push past him and climb into the car. 'Are you two coming or not?'
'Jees, Angel! Ungrateful or what? We risk life and limb and, I might add, this new pair of extremely expensive shoes, to rescue your bizarre friend and all we get is grumpy brood boy! That's the very last time I rescue, Spike. He, I might add, again, was a lot more grateful. As well he might be given…Angel! Ow! Let go! What?'
'Spike! Spike's not dead…I mean…gone, dust. Spike is alright?'
'Duh! Angel. I've just said that, Wesley just said that. What's up with you?' But I saw the look she exchanged with Wesley. Just like the one in the car before they came in to face me.
'Cordelia, Wes, I want the truth about Spike. Now. Do not lie to me. I will know if you do.'
'Angel, Spike is fine. He's gone back to Sunnydale with Xander. He…he was a little…he wasn't looking too good…oh god, all right, he got shot, Angel. Don't look like that…he's okay. He was shot several times during our escape, but he's okay. He didn't want you to worry and see him like that. One of the bullets caught him in the face, but he'll be okay, given time and good feeding. And he'll get both in Sunnydale. He's going to stay with Giles. He'll be looked after.'
'We're going to Sunnydale. Now.'
'No!' The dominance in his tone shocks me. 'I'm sorry, Angel. Spike made me: us, promise that. That we wouldn’t let you follow him. Angel. He was very badly injured. One bullet caught him in his left eye, another in his cheek: it went through his mouth and caused a very large exit wound. We both believe the injuries will heal fully, given time. But with the injuries he already had…Angel, stop gripping my arm like that, you're hurting me. Thank you. He has had a ghastly time, Angel, there's no doubt about that, but he was quite rational and very determined not to see you until he was fully recovered. I respect that wish, and I think you should too. He was most insistent about this, Angel. Very agitated that I wouldn't put his case strongly enough. Cordelia, please tell him.'
'Sorry, Angel. It's what he wanted.'
'What happened? Tell me everything. As we drive back to LA. I'll go along with this long enough to hear what happened. But I'm warning you: I want the full story. No lies, no concocted, 'don't tell Angel that part,' pieces to the story.'
I can't believe what they tell me, on that long, sad drive back to LA. It was all going so well. Even Cordelia's acting hadn't let them down: which was a miracle in itself, I suppose. But Buffy's new love, the one I could smell so keenly in her…God, was it only two weeks ago?…her new boyfriend seems to have been a devil in disguise. Bit like her previous one then. Poor Buffy. He saw them trying to leave. He recognized Xander, of course, and realized they were rescuing Spike. He tried to stop them and when they wouldn’t stop, he shot Xander. Standing over him, he was going to fire again when Spike launched himself at the prick. His chip went off and left him in agony on the ground, when Riley…I can hardly say his name…when Riley put the gun to Spike's head and fired point-blank into his face. I can imagine, only too well, what damage must have been done to my beautiful, Spike. I wonder if Riley had some reason to fire into his face like that. Wesley was not very specific in describing all of Spike's previously earned injuries, perhaps to spare Cordelia's embarrassment, but I have a very distinct feeling that Riley was making some sort of final statement by shooting Spike in the face. I shall have to ask him one day. When all of this is long behind us. But the story makes me ache to be with Spike. I want to cradle him in my arms and make him well with the power of my need for him. I want to tear this, Riley's, soul from his body with torture so exquisitely painful he would die from the wish for it to stop.
I want anything but what I actually get, which is a long drive back to LA through the cold, wet night with my human companions. Every mile taking me further away from Spike. Every mile seeming to make it less and less likely that we will ever be together.
I long to see him. I wonder if he is thinking of me.
Four weeks. Has it really been only four weeks? It seems longer but then, sometimes, it seems as though he is standing over me again and I am back in that place with the cold, steel barrel of his 9mm pistol against my face. Sometimes it seems as though it can't possibly be only four weeks that I have suffered this agony that makes me cry out: unable to stop myself or prevent the tears that come. But sometimes I am still there, forever held in that moment when he whispered, 'No more Angel face now, Buffy.'
One month of care so intensive you would think I were someone important: someone that mattered. Guilt makes humans predictable. But I'm not going to question their motives for this devotion to my welfare. I'm just going to enjoy it. As much as I can enjoy anything at the moment.
The first shot was aimed into my eye. If I hadn't have started to curl myself into a protective ball, I think it would have gone in. It went lower, directly though my cheekbone and out through my lower jaw. There was so much blood he missed entirely with his second shot, aiming for the center of my face; the bullet glanced off only taking out half the other side and an ear. Well, that's what Xander told me in the truck we stole, on the long drive back to Sunnydale. I was blown into unconsciousness by the first bullet, so had no fucking idea what had happened after that.
Oh…and I totally deny I was diving in to save Xander Harris from being killed. I mean: is that likely? No, I saw an opportunity to give farm boy some grief and I just…lost it. Forgot about the chip and…dived in. Incidentally, Xander was saved from further harm. But I repeat; that was not my intention. Hasn't stopped him being my most devoted nurse this week though. And he's had some competition too. Watcher's been like an old woman, fussing over me doing all the messy stuff, stuff with bandages, blood, stitching and bloody painful anti-something stuff. Red's been here with her…what do you call it? Friend? I like them: they've been doing healing spells that have been incredibly unhelpful. But they make me laugh and that's something. Fucking hurts like hell to laugh too. But Xander? He's done the good stuff like bringing chocolate I can't eat cus of all the bandages; so he eats it for me. He's rigged up the Watcher's TV in here and brought his own video and we've watched our way though the local store's supply of films. Helped by copious amounts of alcohol also supplied by the guilt-ridden lad. Yeah, guilt makes humans do funny things. Cus the fucking bastard wasn’t actually shot at all when I dived in…when I saw him fall. He'd seen the gun, stepped back and tripped over his bleeding military boots. Shot fired uselessly above his head. So I'm not gonna lessen his guilt by pretending to be braver than I am. If I happen to scream out when the Watcher takes off the bandages and Xander's in the next room? Well good.
One thing's good though. At least I can't see myself. Don't think I'd enjoy that experience too much. Course, I didn't know what I looked like before, but I'm thinking it's got to have been better than I probably look now. But I have seen bad injuries on Vampires heal before. Dru was practically torn limb from limb by that mob in Prague and she recovered. Physically, anyway. So we're all being incredibly cheerful and optimistic. It's bleeding sickening.
But you know who's been the best of them all, who's done the most useful thing? Well, I guess it's that old guilt thing again. Cus the Slayer's been doing something we don't even talk about and certainly don' t tell the others. She started by bringing me blood, replacing the pig's blood that the Watcher had given me. It was human. I didn't tell anyone, neither did she. I felt the healing process accelerate quite noticeably after that first bag became a regular supply. Hey, if I could speak, I'd have thanked her. But I think she got the message from the way I sucked a bit harder through that straw. Healed so well in fact that this week, when the Watcher took the bandage off my lower jaw, he left it off. Still can't speak, but I can drink properly. And that's when she…did it. Late last night. After Xander left. She came in and sat with me. She only looked at me at first. Then she came over and knelt on the bed beside me. For one bizarre minute I thought of the farm boy and his ardent assertion that the Slayer wanted me. I almost laughed, 'cept she didn't try to kiss me or touch me, she bared her neck, took a small knife out of her sleeve and opened a substantial wound in her neck. Just over the mark Angel gave her. She lay gently on top of me, pressing the flowing, potent fluid to my mouth. Nothing she could have done – if she had lain down and offered her body to me – nothing could have been more erotic, generous, loving and totally, bloody shocking. But the best bit? Not that healing, magic elixir sliding down my throat, not the feeling of life and power returning to my body, not the feel of her warm body, pressed against mine, no the best bit was picturing that fucking farm boy seeing this. Oh yeah, I really got off on that.
Oh, and that's another thing we don’t talk about.
Didn't stop her coming back and feeding me again tonight though.
Slayer's blood, more potent than even Sire's blood. It's the holy grail of power for a demon. It's the third taste I've had of it and…the best. Cus it was freely given.
I've rung every day. Every day for four weeks, sometimes a couple of times a day, but always the same answer. He's as well as can be expected, no he can't talk to you – he can't talk at all yet – no he doesn’t want to see you, yes I'll tell him you phoned. I've written, I've sent stuff, stuff I'd though he'd like, but I haven't spoken to him and I haven’t been able to see him. But I have faith in Spike's strength and in his ability to overcome this. And as I don't care what he looks like anyway, I suppose…oh, God…who am I fooling? All I can think about is those incredible cheekbones, that sensuous mouth, that perfect skin, those intense, blue eyes. What if it's all lost? What if he is not the beautiful creature I turned? I know I have always told myself I turned him for Dru. That I had no interest in him. Well, if that were true, why did I turn, him? Why not one of the thousand other pets she fawned on for a few days and then discarded. Why did I turn, him?
I wanted him, even then.
I saw the potential in that face, for a companion I would never tire of looking at, even for eternity. Perhaps as Darla did, with me. Forever is a very long time to look at the same face. I knew his was the one. And ironically, even I could not foresee the…improvements time has made on that face. Although I make fun of it, his hair is a perfect accompaniment to those cheekbones. The black clothes, set off the flawless skin. His face has become lean and hard over the years, all adding to the original perfection.
So, yes, I do care what he looks like. I do want to see him. And I'm…I'm…alright, I'll say it…I'm fucking sick of being kept away from him. I give him one week more. One week and I going to Sunnydale, and I will see him.
I have no idea why she is doing this. It seems…exceptional. To feed a demon…an enemy, your own precious blood! But I won't question why, not yet. I'll just take every drop she offers and ask questions later. Cus I can talk now. After four days, the Watcher left all the bandages off. The next day, I started talking. Xander says I haven't shut up since. Everyone is shocked at the rate of my recovery. Everyone 'cept Buffy that is, Buffy who now wears high-necked jumpers when she comes around.
I tried a test tonight. I went into game face when she came in. I wanted to save her from cutting herself again, I wanted to test my recovery on demon features, and I wanted to test her reaction to feeding a demon. All too easy to forget that's what we are when we wear our human masks. She didn’t even flinch, only smiled and put the knife away and lay down with me anyway. It became so sensuous I almost lost it. I almost pulled away from her, unable to feed. But she held the back of my head to her neck and forced me to continue. She must know. She's not an innocent. She must know the reaction she is causing by doing this every night. I am, after all, naked in this bed. She must know.
But if she does, she doesn't react, she just comes in, feeds me her power and leaves. We don’t talk.
Tonight, I want answers; I want to know why she is doing this. Is it for memories of Angel? Is it because she trusted Riley? So when she thinks I've had enough and pulls away, I catch her arm and keep her lying on me, her face, inches from my face.
She looks at me a long time, as if considering her answer, then she lowers her eyes and starts fidgeting with the sheet that's between my naked chest and her sweater.
'I know, Spike. I know what he thought. I know why he shot you in your…face. And…'
Oh, bloody hell, she's started to cry, large, glistening tears form at the corner of her eyes. I let her go and push her up till she is sitting, pulling myself up too.
She looks me directly in the eye. 'I know what he was doing to you, before, and this time…the starving…the feeding…the…other…oh God…the other one told me…so I wanted to…I don’t know…even the score? Does it, Spike? Does it even the score?'
'Hey, Luv! There was no score to even. None of this was your fault. Okay, you have shit taste in men…but hey! He wasn't all bad…he was a lousy shot!'
She puts her head back onto my chest and I lie slowly back down, and that's where the Watcher finds her in the morning, asleep on me, in the bed. And I'm not saying that her presence with me that night was as good for me as her blood. I'm not saying that it actually helped the healing process, but something happened that night.
For somewhere in those long hours, not wanting to move for fear of waking her, not wanting to break that deep, blood-loss sleep…in those hours, I think I kind of found myself at last. The last little bit of what was missing clicked back into place. Because, if I closed my eyes: she was Dru. If I put my hand to her face: her tears were Dru's tears. If I let myself drift into light dreams: I was back again, caring for Dru, living for her.
Perhaps I am a loathsome, evil creature. I don't know. I try to be. But I seem to be…best, when I have someone else to look after. Slayer…Baby…Vampire Queen, don’t really matter in the end…it's all need. It's all love.
So no bodily healing went on that night, but something happened.
Cus the next day, I got up.