DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Sting’s, “Whenever I Say
Your Name.” Spike’s dialogue comes from,
in the order in which he speaks it, “There Be None of Beauty’s Daughters” by
Lord Byron, “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman, “The Beloved: Reflections on the
Path of the Heart” by Kahlil Gibran,
“A Golden Day” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, “The Lure of Little Voices” by Robert
W. Service, “Listen…” by Ogden Nash, “Here I Love You” by Pablo Neruda, “i carry your heart with
me,” by e.e. cummings, “When
I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats, “Hope Is a Thing with
Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, “Sonnet CXVI” by William Shakespeare, “The Thread
of Life,” by Christina Rossetti, and “In a Disused
Graveyard” by Robert Frost.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy has gotten some answers regarding Spike’s humanity, but they’re still unsure as to why he is sleepwalking; after a day out with Dawn, Xander came back to the Council to get asked by Willow to help them getting the story from Spike while he sleepwalks that night…
There was one part of Willow and Giles’ plan that Buffy hated.
“That’s ridiculous,” she argued. “What difference is it going to make?”
“Potentially, a very dangerous one,” Giles said. “Think of it as a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will. If we tell Spike what our intentions are, in his current state, it’s very conceivable his subconscious will do everything it can to make it come true. His desire for answers is almost as great as yours.”
“It wouldn’t be real,” Willow added. “He’d likely make up the answers we wanted to hear, and we could end up chasing down dead ends while the truth manages to slip out of our grasp. You don’t want that, do you?”
Buffy begrudgingly conceded that point. It would be stupid to do all this and not get what they were looking for.
“But I still don’t like keeping him in the dark,” she groused. “He deserves better than that now.”
“I know.” Willow’s smile was soft, her eyes understanding. “But it’s just temporary. Hopefully, when this is all over, Spike will be able to take what we find out and go on to lead a happy, normal life.”
It was all Buffy could do not to scream out loud at that word. Normal. She hated it. Somehow or other, it always managed to come back to haunt her.
So, she waited.
When the phone rang, Buffy was the one who leapt from her seat to answer it before the first ring could die out.
“He’s moving,” Xander said evenly.
She exhaled. Showtime. “You have your cell phone in case he doesn’t come straight to the Council offices?” she asked.
“Always. But…he’s coming. Trust me.”
They’d freed every impediment they could think of to clear Spike’s path. The front door was unlocked, and Buffy waited in the front study, saving the need for him to wander throughout the house. She wasn’t alone in waiting for him to arrive, but Giles, Willow and Dawn hovered along the far wall, obscured from easy sight in order to make the confrontation as easy as possible for Spike. If his Buffy beacon worked correctly, it would take very little time to get to the Council offices and find her. Then, they could start trying to get some real answers from Spike, with everybody who wasn’t her in the background ready to translate.
Xander was right.
He came. It only took Spike five minutes from the moment he stepped out of the hotel to the moment he opened the study door.
They kept the room dimly lit, the overhead lights off, the primary source of illumination the glow from the fireplace. Even without being able to see him as clearly as she could during the day, Buffy recognized that she would’ve noticed the differences between waking Spike and sleeping Spike regardless. William was gone. This was the vampire who’d swaggered with his false bravado around the edges of her life, barely restrained power in every move, eyes almost feral as they ate her up.
This was the man who looked at her now as if she was his last lifeline in a sinking world.
“’There be none of Beauty’s daughters with a magic like Thee,’” he murmured, crossing the threshold of the study door to saunter to a standstill in front of her. His gaze swept over her, seemingly not noticing the nervous twisting of her hands behind her back, before returning to her face, and the corner of his mouth lifted in a soft smile. “’And like music on the waters is thy sweet voice to me.’”
Her heart pounded inside her chest. She could get used to this poetry thing.
“But I haven’t said anything to you,” Buffy said. Beyond Spike’s shoulder, she saw Xander slip into the room and take a place near the couch, separate from the others but ready should translation be necessary. “What is it you think I’ve said?”
“’What gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my highest name as I approach?’”
He looked at her with such expectation that Buffy cringed at the thought of telling him she had no idea what he’d just said. Part of her wanted to tell him to go back to the other words, the ones that likened her to magic and all things beautiful. It probably made her a little shallow, but at least she understood him then.
Her confusion must’ve shown in her face. “I believe he thinks you’re calling to him,” Giles said softly, his disembodied voice somehow soothing as it echoed from the shadows.
“That’s how Spike always said the dreams were,” Xander chimed in.
“But, what’s this highest name stuff?” she asked, though she didn’t tear her eyes away from the man who stood before her.
“It could be something on a metaphysical level,” Willow offered. “Your soul calling out to his, maybe? Actually, that’s kind of romantic.”
With the discussion of his meaning occurring around him, Spike became aware of the others in the room, and slowly, turned his head to sweep his gaze over the darkness. He settled on Xander, and Spike’s eyes bored into him. “’Who among you would not cross the seas, traverse deserts, go over mountains and valleys to reach the woman whom his spirit has chosen?’” he said.
Even in the murk, Buffy could see Xander blanch.
“Yeah, I think soul to soul is probably a good guess,” Dawn commented wryly.
“Spike…” Buffy said, reaching out to touch his arm.
His head swiveled back, his skin glowing from the reflection of the fire. “’I found you and I lost you, all on a golden day. But when I dream of you, dear, it is always brimming May.’”
Her eyes burned when he reached to run a single finger along the line of her jaw. “Sometimes I dream about you, too,” she murmured.
For some reason, that made him recoil, surprise widening his eyes. “’Do you hear the Little Voices all a-begging me to go?’” he asked, desperation leaking into his tone.
“Voices?” Buffy shook her head. “No. I just meant---.”
“Wait,” Willow interrupted. There was a soft rustle of fabric, and, out of the corner of her eye, Buffy saw her friend lean toward the others. “Do you think he might mean that one literally?” she asked them, quieter, as if she didn’t want to disturb the scene playing out in front of the fireplace. “He deliberately chose a quote that said ‘voices.’ Plural. Maybe it’s not just Buffy he’s hearing.”
“He mentioned something like that back in Cairo,” Xander said. “And that first night I saw him, he got all worked up and was shouting at someone before he passed out. I don’t think it was Buffy.”
“Is that it?” Buffy’s eyes searched Spike’s, wanting to find something---anything---that would help her understand. “Is someone else trying to talk to you, too?”
He paused, tilting his head as he pondered his next words, his gaze shifting to focus on something beyond her. “’There is a…knocking in the skull,’” he murmured. “’An endless shout of something…beating on a wall and crying, ‘Let me out!’” His eyes squeezed shut, trying to block out something only he could hear. “’No heart can share the terror that haunts his monstrous dark.’” Blindly, Spike reached up, wove his fingers into his unruly curls as if to try and hold in some escaping thought. “’When flesh is linked with eager flesh, and words run warm and full, I think that he is loneliest then, the captive in the skull.’”
She might not understand completely the words he chose to utter, but Buffy could understand pain and terror when she heard it. Stepping forward, she stretched to loosen the grip he had on his head, meeting his eyes when they shot open to stare at her in stark disquiet.
“You don’t have to be lonely any more,” she said firmly. “I’m here now. That’s why you were looking for me, right?”
Slowly, Spike shook his head.
Buffy was about to ask him to try and explain it for her, why he was looking for her then, when she heard…
“He’s trapped.” Dawn’s voice was barely a whisper, but even that muted hush made Spike twitch. “Wherever it is, he can’t get out. What he’s hearing…it’s someone screaming for help.”
This time, he nodded. “’I see myself forgotten like those old anchors,’” Spike whispered.
Then…she knew. She saw the naked fear in his eyes, and Buffy knew.
“It’s you,” she breathed. “Oh, my god. All of this…what did I do to you?”
“Sshhhh,” Spike said, and it was just like it had been that last year in Sunnydale, when her distress and her pain had been more important to him than his own. For the first time since arriving at the Council offices, he instigated an embrace, taking her into his arms, holding her warm and tight as her cheek pressed into his chest.
“’Here is the deepest secret nobody knows,’” he said, his lips brushing against the top of her head. “’Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life---.’”
“Spike read e.e. cummings?” Buffy heard Giles whisper.
“Spike loved e.e. cummings,” Dawn whispered back.
“’---and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart…’”
She’d missed some of what he’d said in the middle, but Buffy had a feeling that wasn’t the important part anyway. She swallowed down the lump in her throat as his mouth pressed a kiss against her temple.
“’I carry your heart,’” he murmured. “’I carry it in my heart.’”
I love you.
No, you don’t, but thanks for saying it.
That couldn’t be what he was referring to, could it?
“You didn’t believe me,” she managed to say. She didn’t pull back. She didn’t want to see his face when he answered her next question. “I told you, and…why didn’t you believe me?”
“’When I feel, fair creature of an hour, that I shall never look upon thee more, never have relish in the faery power of unreflecting love,’” Spike said quietly, “’then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone, and think ‘til love and fame to nothingness do sink.’”
But the meaning of it was beyond her grasp, and she was shaking her head before he’d even finished.
“No,” she said. “No, no, no. See, the way it works is---.”
Though Xander’s voice was low and calm, it pricked her rising feelings effectively enough to divert her attention long enough to pull away from Spike and look at her friend in the shadows.
“I think I get it now,” he said. “It’s not that he didn’t believe you. It’s that he couldn’t believe you.”
“What?” Buffy shook her head. In spite of the fact that she knew Xander was the only one in the room other than her who knew exactly what had happened in the Hellmouth before its collapse, she didn’t know how he could say what he did. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“He was dying, Buffy. And he knew it. He couldn’t believe you because then…” For a moment, Xander’s voice grew rough with unspoken emotion, and she saw him turn away from her unrelenting stare. “…because then it would mean knowing what he could’ve had and never would.”
“’Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul,’” Spike said, drawing her attention back to him.
Hope. She’d offered him hope, fragile and tender and so ephemeral for him in that last year, and she’d offered it to him at the last possible moment, when it was too late for…for anything, really.
And hadn’t she been the one to teach him that it was pointless to hope when it came to her? Wasn’t that what she’d spent that entire year after she came back proving?
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said. “I didn’t mean---.”
His fingers on her lips silenced her. “’Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds,’” he said.
A log fell in the hearth behind her, the heat licking up the back of Buffy’s legs as the fire crackled and sparked. She couldn’t move.
“Not that I’m not loving the reunion here,” Xander said, breaking the spell that had wrapped around her, “but can we get back to the voices, please? Big ol’ jail o’Spike ringing any bells?”
“’Thus, am I mine own prison,’” Spike said.
“That’s what I said. Big ol’ jail o’---.”
“No,” Giles interrupted. “I think he might mean that literally.”
“What?” Buffy’s eyes jumped from the Watcher, to Xander, and back to Spike. Only then did the last of the pieces fall into place for her.
“Last night,” she said to him. “You were trying to get me to go with you before Xander showed up. But…you stopped when I said I didn’t want to. And you’re still sleepwalking because…you haven’t gotten to where you need to be yet. That’s it, isn’t it? You’re trapped, and you just want to be…free again. And you need me to take you there.”
“Take him?” Xander asked. His temporary joviality was gone. The adult Xander who had taken care of the lost Spike for the past week was back. “Take him where?”
Spike sighed and combed his fingers through her hair, coiling the ends around the tips as he fought to meet her gaze. “’The living come with grassy tread to read the gravestones on the hill.’” Finally, his lashes lifted enough so that she could see the dark blue, and understanding passed between them as he fell silent.
“OK, that one, I didn’t understand,” Willow said. “Where is he trying to go again?”
Buffy’s mouth was dry. “His grave,” she murmured. “We have to go back to the Hellmouth.”
To be continued in Chapter 14: Inside the Folding of the Land…