Let in the Light
Disclaimer: These characters don’t belong to me. If they did, they’d all have survived and lived happily ever after.
Summary: A sequel to my story Dimming of the Day, but you don’t necessarily need to read that one to get this one. Spike is in L.A. after the events of Destiny in Ats S5, trying to decide whether or not to go back to Buffy. His questions are answered by an unlikely source.
“Darling I'm lost/Adrift in the dark/I'm clutching your words/To my vampire heart once more/So let in the light/Turn me to dust/If it don't end in bloodshed, dear/It's probably not love./Here we are/In the darkest place/My reflection/Shows only your face…And the people in our lives/We all leave behind…Here we are/In the darkest place/To keep from forgetting/I picture your face/And I wonder/While we count the cost/Which is sweeter/Love or its loss/So I curse you/My vampire heart/For letting me love you/From the start.” ~Tom McRae, “My Vampire Heart”
Part I: Remembering
“Spike, don’t do this.”
“If I don’t, more are gonna die, luv. Now go on, get out of here.”
“I won’t leave you!”
“Don’t do this, Buffy.” He could see the anguish in her eyes. She didn’t want him to go, even after everything that had happened, even after it had all gone to hell. She blamed herself for it, too, but it was as much his fault as hers.
Her hand found his, and she interlaced her fingers as flames sprung up between their joined hands. Spike could feel her in a way he’d never experienced before.
“I love you.”
She said the words out of desperation, he knew—a last ditch effort to save him. He knew she meant them, even though this was the first time they had passed her lips, but he didn’t dare acknowledge it. If he did, she’d never let him finish what he’d started.
And Spike had never been a quitter.
“No, you don’t, but thanks anyway. Now go, Buffy!”
She left him then, his soul blazing, burning him up from the inside out. It was both bloody painful and glorious, all at the same time. He could feel it—for the first time, he could feel his soul, and he knew he’d changed.
Everything had changed; Spike just couldn’t have said when.
Spike awoke with a start, passing a hand over his face as he realized that he was still in his rented room in the flophouse he’d found. It wasn’t exactly savory, but then he didn’t have to worry about being accosted by man or demon these days. All he needed was a little time, a little space to clear his head.
It wasn’t like he’d ever believed Angel before, so he didn’t see why he needed to start listening to him now.
Still, the words Angel had spat at him during their battle echoed in his ears: “No, you’re less. That’s why Buffy never really loved you. Because you’re not me.”
Less than—that was why he’d left Sunnydale to get his soul in the first place. Riley had come back into town, and he hadn’t looked good in comparison. Granted, he had been babysitting the demon eggs, but they weren’t nearly as dangerous as Captain Cardboard had made them out to be. Spike had never expected her to break things off, even though she’d been angry, not after how things had been going up to that point.
Closing his eyes, Spike remembered the expression on her face when she’d broken things off with him.
“I can’t do this, Spike. I can’t believe I thought it was going to work with another vampire.”
He could feel the anger rising. First, Buffy had helped the soldier destroy his home without even making sure that the demon offspring were dangerous, and now she was comparing him to Angel? “You actually bought that git’s story?”
“Riley wouldn’t lie to me,” Buffy said stolidly. “He said those eggs were dangerous. I saw the grownup demon; I believe him.”
“Looks can be deceiving,” Spike snapped. “Besides, you’d be pissed off if you had a bunch of soldiers huntin’ you down, too. The eggs—”
“Don’t.” Buffy looked infinitely tired. “I’m sure you thought you were doing the right thing, Spike, but you put Dawn’s life in danger by keeping those here.”
Spike could taste his rage. “You think I’d let her get hurt?” he demanded. “I think you’re forgettin’ what I spent last summer doin’.”
“I think that you made a bad call this time, and the next one might get someone killed,” Buffy continued, as though she hadn’t heard him.
She probably hadn’t, not really. She might have been listening, but she wasn’t hearing him. “Like you haven’t made bad calls, an’ I seem to recall you walking in on one of Cap’n Cardboard’s spectacular cock-ups..”
“Why? Because I don’t have a soul?”
“That’s one reason.”
“And the other?”
“I can’t be with someone I can’t trust.”
“Funny, but you trusted me with your sister.”
“And clearly I was wrong.”
After that—well, things had pretty much gone to hell. He’d left town to get his soul, thinking that such a gesture would finally make Buffy understand the lengths he’d go for her. He thought that with the soul, he’d finally know what lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Instead, when he’d returned, both Buffy and Dawn had been pissed at him for leaving without a word. By the time Buffy had finally warmed up to him, he’d been fully under the influence of the First Evil, and it just got worse from there.
And then he’d died to save the world, and she’d finally said the words he’d longed to hear, but somehow, they’d rung hollow.
Spike knew that he should head to Rome, that he should find Buffy, wherever she might be, but something was holding him back.
Groaning, he rose from the ratty bedspread, deciding that one way or another this would be the last night he spent in this hole. Spike would make a decision and stick with it.
Buffy hadn’t been able to sleep. The fall days were growing cooler, particularly once the sun went down, although the climate wasn’t that much different than southern California. Leaning against the railing on her balcony, she looked out over the city, the lights shining brightly against the velvety darkness.
She missed Spike—a lot, particularly in moments such as this one. If she closed her eyes and thought about it, Buffy could almost feel his arms around her, could hear him whispering in her ear.
In the months that had passed since his death, Buffy hadn’t been able to stop her self-recrimination. If only she hadn’t broken up with him when she had, if only she hadn’t wasted so much time. At night, when she closed her eyes, all she could think about were missed opportunities.
When she’d touched him while he wore the amulet, while cleansing light was pouring out of him, she had touched his soul, and she had known: he had always loved her, she had always been able to trust him. She’d just been too afraid to risk it.
“Not sleeping, huh?”
Buffy turned to see her sister slipping out the door to the balcony. “No. You, too?”
“Yeah. You missing Spike?”
“I should have trusted him.” Buffy knew that Dawn would understand what she was talking about; they had discussed the events of the last year a number of times since Sunnydale had disappeared, including what had precipitated Spike’s hunt for his soul. “I knew how good things could be, and I let it go.”
Dawn was quick to absolve her sister. “You couldn’t know, Buffy. He had the eggs like Riley said, so you couldn’t know that he wasn’t the Doctor.”
“No, I knew. Deep down, I knew.” Buffy closed her eyes tightly, pressing the back of her hand against her forehead. “I’d seen the future, and I knew.”
“What do you mean?”
This was the only thing that Buffy hadn’t told her sister; she’d never told Dawn about Casamir and the possible futures he’d shown her. In a way, Buffy had been afraid to do so, because she thought that Dawn might blame her for Spike leaving.
“Do you remember just before I started dating Spike, when I was gone for a day?” Buffy asked.
The younger girl frowned. “Yeah. You never really said why.”
Slowly, haltingly, Buffy explained what she’d seen, although she fudged the details on the first two. It had been scary enough for her, and she still had a need to protect Dawn.
“So, you really did know.”
“Not about the eggs,” Buffy said defensively. “If I had—”
They were quiet for a long period of time. “I say we blame Riley,” Dawn finally said. “I mean, he had to know that Spike wasn’t really the Doctor, right? There’s no way that he was an international arms dealer.”
“Yeah.” Buffy glanced over at her. “I loved him.”
“He said I didn’t.”
“You know that he can be really stupid.”
“He really can.”
“You still love him.”
Buffy sighed. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”
She just wished that Spike had known that before he died.
Spike had thought about stealing one of Angel’s cars, but had decided against it just in case he decided to go to Italy. After all, he couldn’t take the car with him.
He walked out of the flop house, down the street, past dilapidated buildings and rundown stores, none of which held his interest. Loneliness sat heavily on his shoulders; Spike remembered the way that Angel’s friends had welcomed the older vampire back, whereas they looked at him with suspicion.
Spike still had no idea why everybody seemed to think that Angel’s soul was somehow better than his. Not only was his anchored, but he’d asked for it, suffered for it. Angel had just whinged about it for a hundred years. If Angel was right, and Buffy thought the same, if she’d rethought her words on the Hellmouth…
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered, still undecided. “Wish I knew…”
He trailed off, but apparently someone had heard him. “What is it that you wish?”
Spike whirled to see an elderly man looking at him. He smelled like a human, but Spike wasn’t willing to take anyone or anything at face value these days. “Who are you?”
“A friend. My name is Casamir.”
His eyes narrowed. “You.”
“I see you’ve heard of me.”
Spike nodded. “Yeah, from Buffy. Thanks, but no thanks.”
“Do you really not have any questions?”
Casamir’s gentle voice stopped him. As much as Spike wanted to make up his own mind, he had a few questions that he’d like to have answered, too. “Yeah, I’ve got questions. Don’t know that your answers helped the Slayer all that much, though.”
The man’s gentle smile was also a rebuke. “I can only offer a vision of what might be, or what might have been. What a person does with that information is up to them.”
“Right.” Spike still hesitated. It wasn’t precisely fear that held him back; he just wasn’t sure he wanted help making this choice. He’d sworn that he was going to be his own man.
As though reading his mind, Casamir shook his head. “Do you not think that more information would help you make the best decision?”
Spike snorted and looked away, torn. Did he dare to ask the questions? He’d never been a coward, and now he hesitated. “Yeah, alright.” Casamir led the way into a small shop that Spike hadn’t noticed as he passed. The lettering on the front was too faded to be read easily. “Looks like you’ve fallen on hard times,” he observed.
Casamir didn’t turn around as he busied himself with an electric kettle. “I go where I’m needed, whatever the scenery.”
Spike wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that; it made him feel as though he was being watched, as though Casamir had seen the last year of his life. “An’ you were needed here?”
“You needed direction, yes? And I can give you an answer to three questions.”
“Don’t know that I need the answer to more than one,” Spike replied, a challenge in his voice.
Casamir glanced at him over his shoulder. “If that is true, and there is only one answer that you need, perhaps there are others you might want.”
Spike took a seat in the padded chair at the table, having already decided to give it a try. He wouldn’t have followed the old man inside the shop otherwise. Casamir was right about that much; he could use a little more information—info he couldn’t get any other way.
“Yeah, s’pose I could think of a couple more questions.” Spike leaned back in his seat. “So, how are we doin’ this?”
Casamir took the seat across from him, placing a steaming mug on the table. “Didn’t Buffy tell you about her experience?”
He shrugged. “A bit. Doesn’t tell me what we’re goin’ to be doin’.”
“Eat first,” Casamir suggested. “This may take some time.”
Spike realized that the mug held blood, not the tea he’d been expecting. “Uh, thanks.”
“It is my pleasure. You have a journey ahead of you.”
He felt a tremor of fear, something he hadn’t experienced for a very long time; the sensation was unwelcome. “I haven’t decided where I’m goin’ yet.”
“I wasn’t talking about overseas travel,” Casamir corrected gently. He pushed three strips of paper much the same size as fortunes from the cookies so prevalent in Chinatown. “Write down the questions you’d like to ask.”
Spike hesitated before taking the pen Casamir held out. He had no idea what the results would be, but he remembered how drained Buffy had been, and how she’d changed—at least for a time.
“Yeah, alright,” he said hoarsely, beginning to write. When he was finished, he picked up his mug and drained it. “Now what?”
“I’ll get the necessary supplies,” the man replied.
Spike gave brief thought to leaving, but rejected it and settled back in his chair. He was committed now; might as well go through with it. Casamir came back to the table, setting a small brazier in the center. Spike watched as he carefully lit the small fire, the aromatic smoke almost instantly filling the air.
“Place your first question in the fire and breathe deeply,” Casamir directed.
Spike raised an eyebrow. “You sure this is goin’ to work on me? I am a vampire.”
“I know my business, William Pratt,” Casamir replied, his voice showing the first hint of impatience. “If you are not afraid of the answers, place your first question in the fire.”
Spike lifted his chin defiantly at the suggestion that he might be afraid and put the first slip of paper in the flames, then took a deep breath.
“What if I’d never gone to Sunnydale?”
Part II: The Only Constant