Buffy – Test Subject – Chapter 9

Chapter 8

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Xander said, staring open mouthed at his friend. “I knew Spike was living in your house. I am *sort* of okay with that. I even knew that you had some sort of feelings for him, which I am most definitely *not* okay with. But now you tell us that you’re DATING SPIKE!”

Buffy bit her lip and nodded. “Yeah…”

“Buffy.. how.. why… What are you thinking!? It’s just that stupid chip that keeps him from killing all of us! You KNOW that!” Crossed his arms over his chest. “Or at least, you *used* to know it.” He looked to Willow. “Will, please tell me that Buffy’s in a thrall, or something?”

Willow’s mouth was hanging open, which effectively prevented her from answering. She fish-mouthed for a moment. Then, caring best friend mode turned on. “Is he.. Nice to you, Buffy?”

Xander couldn’t contain his shock. “Will, you are not going along with this-”

“Gimme a minute, Xander, okay?”

Reluctantly, the boy nodded. Willow turned back to Buffy. “Is Spike nice to you? He doesn’t try to hurt you, or anything?”

Buffy nodded, latching onto the line of hope that her friend had just thrown her. “Oh yeah. He’s great. And he plays with Dawn, and helps Mom around the house. And he’s sweet, and romantic, and he even wrote me a poem.” She sighed. “He’s perfect.”

“If you can get past that whole ‘evil, bloodsucking demon’ thing,” Xander muttered. The girls ignored him.

Willow smiled. “Last time I saw him, you two were on the verge of killing each other. What happened in the last three and a half months?”

Buffy wrinkled her nose. “I don’t really know. It’s like… Once I got to know him better, he wasn’t so bad, you know? Once he relaxed, and really started being himself, and not trying to be the Big Bad all the time, I just couldn’t help but like him, you know?”

Xander butted in again. “You’re telling me that he’s not the same Spike we all know and despise? Gee. Now why do I find that so hard to believe?”

Buffy sighed, and stood up. They’d been sitting around a secluded table at the Bronze, but right now, outside would be a much better place. “Guys, let’s talk and walk, okay? And I’ll try to explain better.”

Fifteen minutes later, the three friends were heading home, still discussing the Spike issue, but Xander’d lost a little of his venom. There hadn’t been any argument that he’d put up that Buffy hadn’t been able to counter. Not a single one. So he was back to the main problem. “He doesn’t have a soul, Buffy.”

To his surprise, it was Willow who countered that argument. “Xander, think about it. There are horrible human beings. Hitler comes to mind. They have souls. They can feel guilt, and remorse. It doesn’t make them any less evil. So maybe it’s possible for a being without one to be no less good than a normal person. And who are we to talk about normal!? Look at you, Xander. Your most recent relationships include a giant preying mantis, a life sucking Incan mummy girl, and Cordelia Chase! You can’t talk. And me. I dated a Werewolf through most of High School! I don’t think we have the right to criticize Buffy’s relationships anymore.”

As she went through this speech, Xander’s head had dropped lower, and Buffy’s grin had gotten wider. Willow turned to Buffy. “I’m happy if you’re happy, Buffy.”

Xander sighed, and shrugged, giving in. “Yeah.. Okay. Fair enough. But if he so much as lays a fang anywhere near you, I am personally going to stake him.”

Buffy grinned again, and hugged both of her best friends in turn. “Thanks, guys. And don’t worry, Xander. Spike not only doesn’t want to hurt me, he can’t. Chip, remember? So it’s all for the best.”

By then, they’d reached the Summers home, and Buffy said goodnight to her friends, then headed inside. She needed to find Spike. Looked in the basement. No Spike. In the kitchen. No Spike. Upstairs, still no Spike. And no Mom or Dawn, either. She was starting to get nervous, when she saw the note taped to the fridge.

“Dear Buffy,
Dawn and I have gone out to pick up a few things, be back soon.
PS: I think something’s wrong with Spike. He seemed depressed earlier. Check on him for me?”

Okay. So, Mom and sister accounted for. Now, where was Spike, and why was he depressed? She was about to get her jacket, and go out patrolling, hoping to run into him, when she noticed a figure sitting on her back porch. She opened the door slowly, and saw that it was indeed Spike. Sitting on the back porch steps with his head in his hands. “Spike?”

He turned to her. There were no tears on his cheeks, but it was obvious that he’d been crying not too long ago. “Oh.. Spike,” she whispered. “What’s wrong?”

He shrugged. “Stupid. Don’t wanna bother you.” Turned back around.

“Is there anything I can do?”

“No.” Barely hidden sniff. She moved, sat next to him on the steps, and gently patted his back. He glanced over at her. “Really want to know?”

She gave him an encouraging smile. “Yeah.”

“My.. This dog, I’d been feeding for the last couple of weeks… He’s- It’s dead. Car hit it. I found ‘im earlier this evenin’. When you were out with your pals. I figured I’d do a little patrol, and there he was. Just… Flattened..” His voice cracked.

“Oh..” She didn’t have words for this. The closest thing she could remember was when she was seven and her parakeet died. “Spike.. I’m sorry..”

He leaned toward her, and she took his cue, slipping an arm around his back and letting him lean his head on her shoulder. “…was probably fast, ya know?”, he whispered. “St- He probably didn’t suffer, from the looks of-” Swallow. “-what was left of him..”

She bit her lip, and held him to her, rubbing comforting circles on his back. Said quietly, “What was his name?”

He gave a watery chuckle. “Star. He was black. White star spot on his head.”

“Do you.. Do you want to bury him?”

“Already did, luv. Thanks for offering.”

She looked around. “Where?”

He pointed at the tree in the far end of the yard. “O’er there. He liked big trees..”

She looked at where he’d pointed. Sure enough, there was a small patch of freshly turned earth, but it was so well hidden between the fence and the tree that she probably never would’ve noticed it without him pointing it out to her. Chewed her lip. It was very unnoticeable… “I’ll be right back. Stay here, okay?”

He looked a little lost when she pulled away, so she leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead. “I’m coming right back, Spike. I promise. Just gonna get something.”

She went into the house, and Spike just sat there, staring at the little mound. He hadn’t even told anyone that he was sneaking food for the little dog. Not even Joyce. He’d been hoping to warm her up to the idea, and then maybe she’d let him keep the dog. He knew that convincing Nibblet and Buffy would be easy, but he’d been working on Joyce for about a week now, without being obvious about it. And then this happened. Why couldn’t he have just asked her? Just come right out and said that he was feeding a dog, and wanted to bring it inside? It was only a small dog. Which was why the driver of the car hadn’t even seen him. Poor Star…

Buffy came back, with her hands behind her back, chewing her lip a little. She hoped he’d like what she’d done. “Spike. I’m back. I.. uh.. brought something. For Star’s grave..” Held out the brick, into which she’d carved the name STAR in capital letters. He took the brick, and looked at her, obviously confused. She shrugged. “Just thought… He deserves a proper headstone, s’all.”

Spike stood up, and pulled the Slayer into a tight hug, which she returned. “Thank you, luv. It’s wonderful.” He walked over, with Buffy right behind him, and gently pushed the brick, writing side up, into the soft ground. “Bye, Star,” he whispered. “I won’t forget you…”

Buffy pulled him to her when he started to sniffle again, was surprised to find that she was crying as well. She glanced down at the brick. She’d dulled down her favorite dagger to carve that, and was not the least bit sorry about it. A new dagger, she could get. Helping her boyfriend get through this loss was more important. Infinitely more important. She held him, rubbing his back gently. “Shh, Spike… I’m here. It’s gonna be okay… I love you. I love you..”

Chapter 10