Genre: Action, Romance, Drama
Rating: Overall NC-17, this chapter G
Warnings: None in this chapter
Beta: All around amazing ssddgr
Thank you ever so much!!
Disclaimer: Most of the characters belong to Joss and Co, not me. This is fanfiction, written just for the fun of it, no money made
A/N: This is the second part of the chapter, since it became way too long. Also, the banner is by framedinlove
Spike could tell he had her undivided attention, so he finally delivered the news. "He knows clan leaders are very suspicious about everything. That's why he has kept his plans very much in secret. I´ve still managed to gather bits here and there, and the bottom line says that he tries to do what I suspected."
Buffy tried to keep the fear off her voice, but didn't quite succeed. "So he wants all clans to unite. Great, just great..." She took a deep breath to calm herself before getting more involved into the matter. "How would that work, in reality? I need details."
Of course he had picked up on the fear, but could hear there was also strong determination and courage in her tone. She was obviously the right girl to stop Angelus. "If they unite it will stop clan wars, since all areas will be divided in advance."
"What about people? Just what would that mean for everyone?" Buffy kept telling herself to concentrate on the details, think about it all clinically to keep the panic away.
Spike stood and walked a few steps further away, to look out of the window. What he was about to say wouldn't make her any friendlier towards vampires, including him, no matter that he was helping her. "They plan to turn enough people to form a whole new society where humans will be slaves. They won't be more than sources of blood, servants, some sort of amusement maybe..."
When Buffy didn't say anything, he turned back and found her staring into nothing. Spike wasn't sure what she was thinking, but she didn't look all that well. He had something positive to say, though, and thought that maybe that would help. "The plan is now only in its early stage. That´s why the leaders are coming here: to discuss about it together, figure out how to pull it off. We still have plenty of time to stop it. There's no need to... fall into depression."
That seemed to sink in, and Buffy pressed her face into her palms, her elbows on her thighs. "I thought about this after you told me what you suspected, but to hear he really wants to enslave all people is chilling." Her words were a bit mumbled, but Spike had no trouble hearing them. There was a pause and what sounded a lot like a sniffle. "I can´t believe I loved him just a while ago... I kissed him, made love with him, and now this." Another sniffle, strangely followed by a hiccupped laugh. "Bad breakup doesn't even begin to describe this mess." Finally, she lifted her head, but her eyes stayed down-casted and her voice was sad. "And to think that if it weren´t for me all this wouldn´t be happening."
The amount of guilt in her voice stabbed him through the heart. She was obviously blaming herself for everything Angelus had done or meant to do. Spike knew better, however. He knew Angelus, how his mind worked, what he was capable of doing and why. Buffy wasn't the one to blame, and it was time to tell her just that. "Yes it would! Maybe not at the exact same time, but it would. He would've found someone else to have his happy moment with, and personally I think he would've thought some sort of world domination scheme even with the soul."
Buffy listened to him, amazed. Everyone had pretty much told her it was her fault. They hadn't said it out loud, directly, except for Xander, but it had been written on their faces, in their eyes. Every single one of them had somehow expressed the opinion that she had acted the wrong way by hooking up with Angel. She had caused Jenny's death and the deaths of many others; Angelus had been very active with the killing, after all. Now, Spike of all beings, was telling her it wasn't her fault. "I can't—it was me. I'm the reason Angelus is back. It's no use trying to think otherwise."
Spike crouched down in front of her and held her gaze. "Listen to me, and listen to me good. I know Angelus, and Darla told me and Dru what kind of bloke Liam was. He was a drunk, used women as he liked, got into fights nearly every day, and spent all the money he could get out of his parents and friends."
Buffy looked like she didn't believe him. "He wasn't anything like that when he was still Angel."
He should've guessed she wouldn’t be able to picture it. "Becoming a vampire changes you, but some personality traits never disappear. Liam is still there, and he and the demon are too strong. There's no way that borrowed soul could've kept him in line forever."
The guilt had been a huge part of her life for a long time. First she had been feeling guilty when her parents had started to fight, when her being the Slayer had landed her in trouble time and time again. She always carried with her the suspicion that their divorce was her fault. Later, it had been Willow, and Xander, and—heavens—even Cordy she’d felt guilty about. Helping Buffy had put their lives at risk so many times, and that shouldn´t have been so.
And then there was Angel. She had known from the get-go that it wasn´t right to get involved with him. Not only because he was a vampire, but he had been so secretive and cryptic and stalkery that everything about him should have screamed "don´t go there" right away. If she were to be honest with herself, everything had, but she’d been sixteen and truly in love for the first time, and that had made her ignore that scream. Now Spike was kind of lifting part of her guilt off her shoulders. She wanted to believe him. Badly. "It isn't easy, letting go of the remorse. They all—my friends, they blame me on some level. These things don´t just go away, you know."
"Maybe they don´t, but they stay or go regardless of how responsible you feel."
There was truth in Spike's words and an understanding in his gaze, and both caused a warm feeling inside her, easing her pain. "Is it really that simple?"
He smiled then, a thoughtful smile, gentle almost. "You can´t concentrate on fulfilling your part in this play we call life if you don´t let the guilt go. You have to see the big picture and where you fit in it, not dwell on things you couldn´t possibly have prevented. Can you do that?"
Well that was the question! Spike was right, though. She couldn´t give her undivided attention to things that needed it while pondering whether she was the one to be blamed. Her parents had assured her time after time that she hadn’t been the reason for their divorce. She tried to make Willow and Xander stay away when she went slaying, but they came along anyway. And if what Spike had said about Angelus with or without soul was true, this whole current mess was not on her shoulders, either. So she decided to at least give a go at not blaming herself. Who knew? Maybe it would work… eventually.
"I can try. What you said about Angel... Thank you. It helps. You are very insightful, you know. Where do you get that? Did some of Dru´s mind-reading get into your system at your turning?" Her words had a teasing tone; riling Spike up was proving to be quite fun.
"I can be insightful on my own just fine, missy!" Wriggling his forefinger in front of her, Spike made a show of being angry, though in reality he was anything but. "When you live over a hundred and twenty years, you learn a lot about reading people. That is, if you put your mind into it. I´ve always found it interesting, watching others, so I´ve become pretty good at knowing how their minds work."
Buffy laughed at his mock anger. "I bet that can be useful. Is that how you managed to find out this tiny little diabolical surprise my ex has come up with?" There she went again, joking about things that were scary, dangerous! Buffy decided she should give it some good, long thought when she got back home.
Spike was pleased that she laughed and joked. It was a good sign. He didn't want the Slayer to be depressed; that would only make her a lousy ally. Then there was the small part of him that just liked to hear her laughter—a part that Spike ignored. That way lay badness of the worst kind. "Partly. And speaking of coming up with surprises, I’ve thought of one that’s my own."
She knew Spike and plans were not so mixy, but she didn't want to say it and make him really angry, so she smiled instead. Her tone was interested when she asked, "You have? Are you gonna tell me?" Of course she really wanted to know what he had in mind, so it came easily.
Spike gave her a that-was-a-stupid-question look. "Yes. That´s the whole point of our working together, isn´t it? Now listen. We are taking out the clan leaders. Every single one, including Angelus and Dru. That's not all, however. We also need to eliminate some of the ones who're next in line to be a leader, so they won't have the same uniting idea again."
Buffy seemed to think that Spike had just gone crazy. "Are you serious? Seriously insane? We´ll never be able to do that."
A big, sly grin spread on Spike's face. It was obvious he was about to share something juicy. "That´s why we need the help of those other five Warriors of Light."