Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, past Xander/Anya, past Spike/Drusilla, mentions several other pairings as well, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: faerie_wish13 November 2018 Challenge: Thanksgiving, nekid_spike Mod's Choice: Black and White, and sunnydalescribe MC 4: Family
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death, Spoilers, Future Fic, Slight AU
Word Count: 2,578
Date Written: 20 November 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“It’s never black and white, is it, pet?” Spike asked, watching Anya gazing in through the window at the happy, familial celebration. He sniffed to himself. He rather felt like Tiny Tim watching a family have a warm, festive celebration where his own kind wasn’t invited -- except that, miracle of miracles, he actually was. Oddly enough, though, that made him feel even worse for the woman beside whom he now stood.
“I thought I would be able to let him go by now,” Anya whispered on the night wind. Tears already filled her eyes; one escaped her control and slipped quietly down her face. She sniffled and wiped at the tear. “I didn’t know you could still cry when you were dead,” she admitted. “Kinda wish I couldn’t.”
“I know, luv,” Spike agreed. He wanted to reach out to her, to perhaps pat her on her back, but he knew that if he tried, his hand would simply pass right through her. “Can’t be easy,” he continued knowingly. “Watching him move on, acting like he doesn’t even remember you.”
“Oh, he remembers me all right.”
Spike’s eyes flicked to the reflection of Anya’s sorrowful eyes in the window. “Oh?” he asked, quirking a brow in question.
“He still calls for me,” she explained, “some nights. Of course he’s dreaming, and when he wakes up, he doesn’t remember having done so.”
“You were a fine woman, Anya. You treated him better’n anybody else did his whole life.”
“Yet he still stood me up at the altar.”
“The boy wasn’t a man then. He had cold feet.”
“Are you making excuses for him?”
“For Harris?” Spike’s eyes flicked back to hers again. “Never.” He almost snarled the word. “But I know he loved you. In his own way, he loved you, and he never stopped. And you’re right: he still misses you. I can see it in his eyes whenever your name is mentioned -- “
“Not that that happens very often.” She snorted.
“More often than you think. Dawnie’s trying to help ol’ Ripper balance his books and stuff. I’ve heard her more than once say, and him too, that they wish you were still here.”
“I never would have thought he would have reopened the magic shop here in England,” she whispered.
“He did it partially to honor you. He knew how much you enjoyed it. Plus it gives him a way to keep better tabs on the Supernatural underground.”
“He did it for me?” Anya asked in surprise.
“Yes. He keeps a picture of you on the counter. You haven’t seen it?”
“I . . . haven’t really been in there,” she admitted, “much. I’ve just heard them talking about it.”
“How’d you get here any way?” he asked curiously. “I know that old thing they say about ghosts not being able to cross running water.”
“It depends on who, or what, you’re tethered to,” she explained, staring once more at Xander as he laughed with his friends, who were really more of a family than he’d ever had back in Sunnydale with his own blood kin. She knew he didn’t even know where his parents were now, nor did he care. She also couldn’t blame him, not with all the suffering both his father and mother had put him through first as a child and then later as a teen. She’d always sworn that they would never do that to their children if they had had any, but of course, that hadn’t happened and never would, now that she was dead. She could watch over Xander for the rest of his life without him knowing she was still there with him, but she could never touch him, never have children with him, never actually wed him despite all the promises they’d made to each other, never make love to him again . . . Her face fell, tears streaking down her cheeks, and she turned away from the window.
Spike felt the night air drop considerably. Winters in London were already cold enough, but the sorrow of the dead could make any temperatures drop. Snow began to drift from the darkened heavens. He turned to her and wished again that he could take her in his arms and comfort her. “Hmph.”
“What?” she asked, looking up at him as she dashed the tears from her face.
“That was nothing, William the Bloody -- “
“I was just thinking how strange it is,” he admitted, “how we’ve changed and all. He hurt you, Anya. He hurt you bad yet you don’t want to hurt him in return. You’ve been looking over him ever since Sunnydale. You’re tethered to the boy, and you’ll do anything to protect him.”
Anya’s quietness was her admission of the truth, but he kept his own truth to himself. He had also changed, all because of love. He cared about the people inside that house more than he’d ever cared for anybody before except for his own, dear mum, and there were still two of them in there for whom he cared even more deeply than for her. Further complicating matters was the fact that he now hated to see a woman cry. He wished fervently for a way to comfort the person beside him now, even though he’d once thought of her as nothing more than a strumpet.
“You could go in,” he reminded her quietly.
“I don’t want to,” she said, shaking her head. Somehow her curls still managed to bounce against her head, making her look far younger than the centuries-old former Vengeance Demon she was. She waved a hand toward the festive scene inside the warm kitchen. “I don’t want to try to pretend to be a part of that when I’m not.”
“But you are. You were. You should be.” He stumbled in trying to explain how she was still a part of the clan, after all this time. It had been years since her death, but she was still holding on. It wasn’t just on Thanksgiving night that she watched over Xander; she had never left him for long after her spirit had processed being dead. She had been with him through so much even if Harris didn’t know she was there. She watched over him every day, and Spike knew she’d saved his life more than once since being killed while defending people she never would have cared for if it hadn’t been for the man she loved.
Nothing was ever black and white, he thought again to himself. Here she was desperately in love with this boy turned, at times, a man and still remaining a boy at other times, including and especially the time he’d fled the altar after giving her his word to wed her and spending months joyously making plans for the ceremony that had never happened. Her love for him had changed her in so many ways, so much so that she never wanted to hurt him despite having been a Vengeance Demon and still watched over him now like a Guardian Angel. Spike chuckled. She was no Angel, but she certainly a Guardian Ghost.
“What?” Anya demanded, her eyes turning back up to his. Anger burned through her tears. “Are you laughing at me?”
“No, pet. Never. Least not any more.” He reached out to touch her shoulder, but as he’d known it would, his hand passed right through her. “You’re a fine woman, Ayanka Jenkins. Harris was a fool to leave you.”
She sniffled again. “I know that,” she said, dashing away more tears. She smiled up at him. “But it’s nice to hear someone finally admit the truth.”
“That’s me,” he said with a wink. “The truth sayer.” Which was yet another way he had changed because of the love of his own life. Just as Xander had changed Anya, so, too, had Buffy changed him in ways, back when he’d been the Big Bad especially, he never could have imagined. He played on the side of the heroes now, even if he still didn’t really consider himself to be one -- he couldn’t, what with all the deaths he’d caused over the centuries. But he genuinely tried to do what was right. He truthfully cared, and not just about the people inside Giles’ old family home but about every caring, compassionate human he met these days who’d been harmed -- or former Demons, as the case may be. He cared far more than was wise, he knew, and far more even than he had as a human being before.
She laughed suddenly, and he looked at her in surprise. “We have changed so much, haven’t we?” she said, shaking her head. She waved a hand at her own self. “I never would’ve thought I’d become -- become this doting creature so entirely hung up on one man again, especially who hurt me but who I . . . I . . . “
“Forgave is the word you’re looking for,” he spoke gently.
“Yeah. It is.” She almost seemed humble in that moment.
“Life is more than vengeance, violence, and sex,” he remarked.
She snorted and laughed again. “Yeah. Yeah, it is.” Her eyes turned back to Xander. She was surprised to see that he was staring at the window. “Do you really think he still loved me?”
“Not loved, pet. That’s past tense. He still loves you. He always will. Even when he moves on,” he told her, having noticed that Xander had began to make the same sort of eyes at Dawn that the Nibblet had been making at him for years, “a part of him will always love you.”
“You really believe that?” she asked in surprise.
He nodded. “Take it from someone who fought love with everything he had. We are love’s bitches, and when we really love somebody, things and circumstances may change. Feelings may waver. But a part of us will always love that person.”
Anya wiped once more at her tears, but he noticed that she’d stopped crying. “Thanks, Spike -- “ she started to say but paused as the door open.
“Spike?” Buffy called, stepping out into the night. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. “Whoa. It must’ve dropped twenty degrees since we went inside!”
He moved forward, leaving Anya behind in the shadows of the night, not that even the Slayer would have been able to see her at that time. “Yeah. Kinda cold, ain’t it?” He threw his cigarette, which he’d almost forgotten about while conversing with Anya, onto the ground and stomped it out underneath his boot. He no longer smoked around her or Dawnie, yet another change that she had brought out in him and another small thing that he did because he loved them both so much. His lungs taking the smoke was something else, but he wasn’t about to darken their lungs any more than he would their hearts.
“Kinda.” She grinned up at him. “What are you doing out here?” she asked, reaching for his hand.
He took her hand and threaded his fingers through hers. “Nothing.” She gave him the look that told him she didn’t believe him, but he only elaborated so far as to say, “Just . . . pondering.”
“Well, why don’t you ponder inside,” she asked with a grin, “where it’s warm and we’ve got onion blossoms just for you?”
“Really?” he asked in surprise, following after her. “You made onion blossoms for me?”
“Not me,” Buffy said, making a face. “You know my cooking isn’t that good. But I did buy them for you.”
He laughed as she moved to close the door. His chuckle died in his throat, however, as he caught one last look at Anya’s sad spirit. He was quiet as he walked with his lady love, hand in hand, back to the kitchen. Buffy was babbling beside him. “Xander actually told me you were out there. We wondered why you hadn’t come in -- “
“Just having a quick smoke,” he said as they emerged into the warm kitchen. He took off his duster and draped it over the lone, empty chair. “And thinking. You Yanks got us into this holiday more than we ever were before,” he said, glancing over at Giles, “but like most special days, it seems to have lost its meaning.”
“Really?” Buffy asked, her eyebrows slightly raised, as she looked up at him.
“Yeah.” He surprised her by doing something he hadn’t done in years but had often done for his own mum back when he’d been human. He pulled out her chair. She sat down but continued to stare up at him.
“I know what he’s saying,” Dawn spoke up, laying her fork down beside her plate. “He’s saying we all need to remember that today is a day we’re supposed to show thanks.”
“Precisely, Nibblet,” he agreed even with a honorable tilt of his blonde head in her direction. “And I want to start it off by saying how thankful I am for all our friends -- for all our family, really, not just in this room but those who are no longer with us.”
Silence fell. Dawn was the one to break it as she said quietly, her eyes turning toward Buffy who was still staring at Spike, “Mom.” Her sister nodded mutely.
“Tara,” Willow breathed and clutched Kennedy’s hand harder beneath the table. Kenn squeezed her, never one to be jealous of her own love’s first love. It didn’t matter what had happened before; what mattered was that Willow loved her now and chose to be with her.
“Anya,” Xander spoke, almost choking on her name and the bitter emotions that rose within him. Spike nodded. His gaze turned toward the boy who was now definitely feeling as a man, but he looked pass Xander’s sorrowful expression to the happy face on the other side of the window. Smiling, Anya stepped through the wall and glass and moved up to stand just behind her man.
Spike nodded again and then looked to Giles as he whispered, “Jenny.”
“Cordelia,” Angel spoke, and several heads nodded.
“Way to be a party pooper,” Faith commented, stabbing her turkey with her fork.
Spike shook his head. “Wasn’t trying to be,” he said. “We just need to remember all those for whom we have to be thankful. Rather they’re here or not, they helped us get here, and they’re still important to us.”
“Yeah,” Xander whispered, still struggling to get words pass the ball in his throat.
Wordlessly Giles picked up his glass of tea. Around the table, everyone else lifted their cup of drink. Spike was surprised to find a glass of blood by his plate, and as he lifted his glass, he tilted it and his head in Anya’s direction. “Forever,” he murmured.
“We will never forget them,” Giles agreed and took a sip. As everyone else followed his lead, Spike watched Anya. She beamed behind the man she loved, and his own heart filled with warmth and love. Xander would always love her, and one day, she’d learn for herself how true that was. He himself would always love Buffy, but that didn’t mean he didn’t sometimes think of Dru and regret how things had ended behind them.
But the woman who leaned toward him now was where his heart was and would remain forever. “And you said you no longer have a poet in you,” she whispered in his ear and then, beaming proudly at him, kissed his cheek, showing her love and her gratitude for him to all.