tennyo_elf: (Toothbrush)
[personal profile] tennyo_elf
Title: One Half, Hidden Whole
Beta: Puddin (The wonderful awesomely awesome Puddin!)
Rating: FRT
Genre: Late Season 9, comics land
Summary: Buffy is trying to fix things. She makes one step froward in her life, but two steps back in her slaying. There is still no magic in the world, which is turning out to be a bigger problem than Buffy ever wanted. And Buffy's still doesn't want to even think about that issue about that person that has been gone for too long. Unless, of course, he has information that might be pivotal to saving the day once again.

---------


1874, University of Cambridge

The small drops of rain didn’t quite make it to the lush ground. Instead they floated around like creatures looking for purchase. The morning mist was calming and a friend to William. From indoors he could only watch the weather, envious of the bushes and greeny. William wanted to stand outside and let the drops rest on his shoulders. He wouldn’t mind getting wet.

But it wasn’t proper. And he shouldn’t wish for frivolous things such as standing out in the rain when he could catch cold or worse. He’d look a fool. What would mother think if she heard reports of him standing out in the wet outdoors as if his mind was taken?

Plus, William’s studies called to his attention. He had a slew of classes in which required his full concentration. Any more poor marks and he’d fear he would terribly disappoint mother. At the very least Henry would be joining him this afternoon for Philosophy lessons.

Realization struck and William quickly gathered his materials. Thinking of Henry reminded him that breakfast was about to be served. He promised to meet Henry in the morning to share their meal together and discuss On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History by Thomas Carlyle. They always shared their opinions freely and William largely relied on Henry to help him through his lessons. Though more often William simply enjoyed Henry’s companionship.

Rushing as fast as it was proper William made it to the dining hall with enough time to spare. With keen and hopeful eyes William looked around for his friend. He found Henry surrounded by fellow classmen at the end of a long dining table. Careful and maybe a bit awkwardly, William slowly passed other students on his way to meet his friend.

Henry’s loud voice filtered through the room and the words his longtime friend spoke caused William to slow his approach even further.

“Poor William, trying to make a poem about every little silly topic. He even thought the Norse Valkyrie has lights shining from their tits.”

“Breasts.” William’s throat was dry and weak as he spoke, trying to be heard over Henry’s ridicule and the laughter from those listening.

Henry turned to William with a wide, fake smile. “Oh William, there you are. I am telling everyone about your latest poetic endeavor. Shining tits is not something you don’t share.”

“It was breasts. As in from the heart. Shining from the heart.”

Henry’s fake smile didn’t leave his face. As William tried to explain, the smile only expanded in its mockery. “Breasts, tits, it’s the same thing. And not something you keep to yourself.”

The stone walls, the high ceiling, only allowed the vulgar laughter to echo and bounce around to attack William fiercely.

“Yes, well.” William bowed his head and wanted to make his escape as fast as possible. “If you’ll excuse me.”

He didn’t meet Henry’s eyes as he walked away, nor join him for class that afternoon. William refused to look at anyone that day, trying best not to react to what happened. Proper men didn’t mourn betrayal. Proper men didn’t shed tears. They gather their wits and go on with strength. Henry’s words were nothing to him. Absolutely nothing.

William ate alone that morning and every morning thereafter during his studies. Occasionally William would glance at Henry and his group of colleges, envious of their laughter, but always remembering that what little he had of himself would be sacrificed if he went and joined them.

So he never did.

----

2 hours ago, San Francisco

William stared at the young police officer who had entered the room, watching as the lad stood frozen before him. Thoughts and feelings were flowing through William, surrounded in a foggy haze. Not sure if they were memories trying to surface or old etiquette, he stepped forward, making the first move.

“They told me you would be coming to facilitate my release.”

Somehow William’s voice, as proper as he could make it, startled the young man. “I’m-Sp...your voice...yes.”

“Say again? Bit splurry on your greetings, mate. ” That lower class accent passed his lips naturally and William nearly winced. William had no control over his voice and at times he would rudely speak his mind. He was constantly battling himself.

It was probably better he concentrate on his error then to think on what the young police officer spoke of. William was terrified that he had met this person before...when he was a creature of the darkness. What could he have possibly done to this poor soul?

The young man shook himself and relaxed his features, smiling for the first time.
He extended his hand and William took it. “No, I’m sorry. I’m Robert Dowling. I’m here to ask you some things and sign a few forms.”

“William Pratt.” William again struggled to speak properly. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Robert swallowed loudly and sat down at the table, making a horrible screeching noise with the chair. William followed his lead and sat down, careful not to make the same noise.

“You’ve, uh, met my colleague, George?”

“The big fellow with a metaphorical horn sticking from his forehead and a pointed stick up his bum? Yeah, I met him. Answered a few of his not so subtle questions.” William sighed, yet again he simply answered without thought and filth came forth. “I mean, yes. Only a few days after I had risen from my coma I spoke with the straightforward officer.”

Robert’s wide eyed and stoic expression were the only things that William received as a response. William shifted in his seat and felt the first beads of sweat on his forehead. Robert stared at William silently for a few beats before finally speaking. “Have you remembered anything more regarding the same questions George asked you?”

“I-” William wasn’t sure he should speak freely to this person, though William really had nothing to lose at this point. He had no one, he was no one. He was out of place and out of time. “I remember things. Cellphones. Cars. The television show Passions.” William looked down at his hands on the table. “I remember the bloody takeover of Manchester United in 1998 and the twit who thought it was funny.”

William looked up, horrified. He could feel the tears hiding behind his eyes. “Did I off the lad? That I don’t remember.” Closing his eyes, William bowed his head. “Can’t remember much else. Sorry Dick, I won’t be any help to your big case.”

William heard Robert fidget, but didn’t look back up. Instead he decided to carefully pull out the one connection he had to his former self from his pocket. It was a letter to someone, sealed in such a meticulous manner that William knew it was important. It had only a name on the front: Buffy Summers. Whoever that person was, however they were connected to him, it was probably the only thing that could be of any use to the police. William hadn’t opened the letter and honestly, he feared it. What would it contain? What would it say about him and who he was? He placed it gingerly on the table and finally meet Robert’s eyes.

“There’s this. Don’t know what’s in it, don’t care to find out.” At this point William stopped caring about his accent or his manner of speech.

“You think this could help?” Robert slide his hand towards the envelope and plucked it from William’s side of the table.

“Could be a treasure map or a bleeding receipt. Keep it, if that helps with the case, all the better. If not, toss it.”

Robert looked at the envelope and then looked back to William. The expression on Robert’s face caused a torrent of emotions to claw away at William’s heart. A fury of memories seemed to be causing a riot within him but he couldn’t get any clear picture. Thoroughly disturbed, William looked towards the window, then down to his feet, then thought the door was terribly interesting before abruptly standing, this time causing the chair to wail loudly.

Robert stood as well. “Thank you for the..the, um, letter. I’ll track down this person and see if it’ll give us any leads. I’ll sign your release forms. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you are treated fairly.”

That reminded William of his situation more vibrantly than ever before. All prior uncomfortable thoughts and feelings were replaced by new, even more uncomfortable ones. “I was a creature of the dark, a vampire. Surely I hur...killed people. I should be locked away for my crimes, not given a home and employment.” He made sure his accent and manner of speech were proper this time.

Robert paused, turning back from his stride to the door. With the softest voice he had ever heard come from another human, Robert answered. “It wasn’t you.”

Once William was alone, he could only whisper. “Then who am I?”

----

Present Time

Buffy stared at the letter in her hands, tracing her name that Spike penned, memorized by each curve and loop. She forgot that Robert was still in her apartment or that she was even on planet Earth.

She made no move to open the letter.

Robert remained silent after telling her the news and handing her the envelope that was slowly screwing tiny spikes in to her skin or maybe her heart, she wasn’t sure which. She didn’t know how to process this information. She didn’t know if she should be elated or utterly devastated. Buffy had never, not in her wildest dreams, pictured Spike human. It was inconceivable to her.

“So you’re telling me Spike’s human?” She had to hear it again.

“He’s human Buffy.”

She finally looked at Robert for the first time since he entered her apartment, but she couldn’t see him. All Buffy could see was Spike. “How?”

“He survived Severin’s attack--”

Abruptly, Buffy turned her back to Robert and walked away, her emotions rising too close to the surface. “No, you told me that. How could he possibly be human and alive? Severin kills vampires, zompires, whatever, by turning them into dead humans. He doesn’t do his sucking trick and, boom, make them walk and talk and breathe.”

Robert tried to follow Buffy’s rapid movement as she began to pace back and forth, but he was too unsure, too nervous to properly approach Buffy. “I’m not...I don’t know how it could be possible. Spike doesn’t even know. He doesn’t even remember the event.” Robert stopped trying to get close and desperately tried to catch Buffy’s eyes. “Actually he doesn’t remember anything at all.”

Buffy stopped her pacing and again looked right through Robert. Her eyes began to fill with tears, but her body felt hollowed out. Her empty insides filled with betrayal. It was a pathetic, selfish betrayal that felt like hot, murky water.

“He doesn’t remember...anything?”

“Spike never said anything other than knowing his past human life and small details of his vampire life. I don’t think he even knew who the letter...”

Robert trailed off, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to hear more. Closing her eyes, Buffy turned on her coping mechanism, pushing everything into a small closet in her heart. She didn’t want to deal with the knowledge that human Spike had forgotten her. “Where is he now?”

“Saint Mary’s Hospital.” Robert licked his lips and cautiously took out a note from his pocket, all the while keeping his eyes on Buffy. He held out his hand, with the note folded in two.

“What’s this?” Her voice felt as hostile as it sounded. Buffy didn’t mean to scare Robert, nor get snippy with him, but she barely felt in control. She grabbed the note and handled it as if it were on fire.

“An address. He’s been given an apartment and been put to work at the local college. This is where he’ll be living from now on.”

“You’re not sending him back to England?”

Robert scratched the back of his neck, looking unsure and just as on edge as Buffy. “No, there would have been more paperwork and he is still connected with Severin. For now, he has to stay here in the States.”

Buffy glanced down at the letter in her hand, which she had squeezed into a folded mess, then to the note in her other. Both felt heavy and yet barely there. Would they float away after they drowned her in their black tarish ink?

He’d forgotten her. Somehow Buffy always thought Spike would never forget her, even if he stopped loving her, he couldn’t possibly forget her. It was a given, Spike loved Buffy, so she was imprinted on his heart and mind. He was home, he was here.

And he wasn’t here, not really. He’d forgotten her.

Spike now had a new life. Buffy should be happy for him, that he was human and that he forgotten his awful past. This was a wonderful second chance at being normal, something she always wanted, but now knew she could never have. This new life was a gift. Of course she should be so happy for him.

Yet she wasn’t. She couldn’t shake it. It felt like misery had crawled inside and made a home within her.

Robert's voice struck her like thunder. “He seems to be recovering some of his memory. He may end up remembering everything.”

“Maybe. But maybe he shouldn’t.” The guilt of how she really felt was making her feel two feet tall. He shouldn’t remember anything of his vampire life. That would be a curse to him.

Even if it meant sacrificing them.

“But--”

“No buts. It would be better for him never to remember anything...anything.”

In a moment of rash decision making, Buffy stormed up to Robert and shoved the letter and note into his hands. “I’m not going to be the one to trigger his memory.”

What Spike could have known about restoring magic and the south, none of that mattered. Buffy would find a way to get that information without Spike. She had to. She needed to. This would be her goodbye to him. She would let him rest, finally.

---

1 Week Later

What was she doing here of all places on Earth? Maybe it was what Dawn said about seeing newly human Spike on her campus, maybe it was a dangerous curiosity that finally yanked her out here. Maybe it was her sense of protecting students and newly made humans on campus? Or nostalgia of UC Sunnydale and patrolling there?

Whatever it was, Buffy found herself wandering about San Francisco State University. The sun had just set, so obviously she could tell herself she was here to patrol. She was going to slay evil because evil is always lurking about making life overtly complicated. Maybe she could pick up a brochure too, she was thinking about going back to school.

The fading orange light of the sun told Buffy that she probably missed the opportunity to get the brochure.

A gurgling yelp silenced her reminiscing and brought into sharp focus Buffy’s slayer instincts. Buffy pulled out her stake and rushed into the darkening shadows of the school. It barely took any time to find the zompire cornering a young student, with its fangs posed to pierce the skin of his victim.

As Buffy readied her weapon, just as she was about to charge in, a school police cadet ran around the corner, yelling at the top of his lungs, holding a stake high.

“Wait! You’re going to--” Buffy’s yelling dwindled into hot air as she watched the clumsy cadet stake the zompire.

Buffy watched in amazement as the cadet consoled the terrified student, feeling suddenly out of place and unneeded.

“What’s all the commotion?”

Buffy raised a corner of her mouth, resigned to the event. “Just me being replaced.”

Once she realized who asked the question she turned with sudden abruptness. Spike was standing behind her, looking at the cadet and the student with narrowing eyes.

“Sp-uh, Speaking of, um. I mean, someone is replacing me in the school production and there was a fight...but the cadet came and smoothed things over, so everything is smooth. Smooth as a baby's butt, not that I know what a baby’s butt feels like. I’m not a pervert or anything. Or a mom, I’m not a mom. Or married. Definitely not married.”

Spike grinned at Buffy, finally taking his eyes off the crime scene. She could only stare. He stood close and she could feel every inch of him. She could imagine the scar on his right shoulder, she could hear him grinding the dirt beneath his feet, and felt the warm tingle of his breath.

He pointed to her stake, that was still in her hand, with his chin. “You’re a Slayer, luv. No need to hide. I heard about them.”

Buffy looked at her stake and shrugged. “Yeah. I guess I am. Who knew?”

“And it does look it, you being replaced. The average folk can protect themselves now.” Spike gestured to the now vacant space behind her, letting his hand and arm snake just past her neck, close enough to feel the air shift.

“Hey, Slayers are needed. Just because some people learned to be smart about things that go bump, doesn’t mean we’re outdated.”

“No need to get jumpy. Nothing wrong with Slayers. It’s just good the little people know how to keep themselves safe.”

“I suppose.” Buffy grumbled, she was unhappy that she wasn’t able to slay something, though a small part of her was jumping for joy. Taking in a deep breath, she inched herself slightly closer to Spike and kept her full attention on him.

“You, uh, want to keep me safe, pet?” The way his voice deepened caused a heated thrill to blanket over Buffy.

“I can keep you safe. I’m the Slayer, you’re just a human. I can keep you safe in all sorts of ways.”

She stepped even closer to Spike, pressing her palms to his chest, feeling his heart’s steady beat. He wrapped his hand around the base of her head, caressing her hair through his fingers. He pulled her in for a kiss, sweet, hot, and messy. Full of passion and fire. Buffy pressed herself to his body and allowed herself to devour him. She felt as if she was burning, turning to ash, and it was everything she ever wanted.

“You a student here?”

Reality slapped Buffy hard in the face and the kiss evaporated in her mind. There was still a solid space of emptiness between them. “I’m sorry? I’m a student?”

“You seem familiar. My noggin’s a bit on the messy side, are you one of Professor Sturnbert’s students?”

The way his accent changed for a moment and his questions caused a strong and foreign panic to gut her in ways Buffy never thought possible. She shouldn’t be here! What was she thinking? Why did she even come here? She was being cruel.

“Oh, no. I’m just out, you know, trying to keep people safe. Students included!” Buffy backed away from Spike, who was looking more confused by the second. “I should, uh, I should go. You know, more ground to cover. That cadet can’t be everywhere.”

As fast as she could, Buffy turned on her heel and began to walk away. After a few moments she heard someone running behind her. She closed her eyes in painful regret. Why couldn’t she have just stayed away?

“Wait.”

Buffy stopped and slowly turned to Spike once again. He looked nervous. And was he blushing?

“I’m, uh, I’m new in town. Wouldn’t mind a drop of coffee with a pretty lady. Care to join?”

Buffy wouldn’t do this to Spike. She had to say no. Her being close to him could trigger his vampire memories and it would explode in messy disappointment for them both. Anything else was selfish, self-centered, mean, and completely wrong of her.

“I’d love to.” Buffy was kicking herself on the inside.

“Wonderful.” His shyful grin played with Buffy’s insides. “I’m William. You?”

“Bu--um, Brianne. I’m Brianne.” How deep was she digging her grave?

“Know of a good stop for that coffee?”

What had she done? And why was she so happy about it?

----
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tennyo_elf

July 2012

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