Rating: R for language
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money, et cetera ad nauseum.
Spoilers: This goes AU after the 1st comic of S8; all the Scoobies are in Scotland but I didn't want to have to deal with any of the new issues or the upcoming Angel S6.
Notes: My first multi-chapter Spander. Beta'd by both wildannuette and vinniebatman, because I was really nervous about my characterizations this chapter and wanted another pair of eyes. Feedback is life.
Previous chapters here.
Spike launched himself out of the chair and began to pace, desperately craving a fag. He could feel Xander's eyes – no, his eye, and who's fault was that? – on him, and for a moment he wanted to be somewhere, anywhere, else. Thinking about Dru hurt in a way that it hadn't for years, since back in Sunnyhell before he had finally convinced himself she was never coming back to him. But at least then he'd known she was still out there somewhere, listening to the stars and wreaking havoc. Now she was gone for good, and it was this boy that had last seen her, last touched her. Last bled for her.
"What happened next?" he demanded abruptly. He just wanted this done.
Xander drank down the rest of the bourbon in his glass. "I think I went into shock, 'cause it's all kind of a blur after that…"
Xander managed to get to his feet and stumbled over to Rayna, who was huddled weeping over Amanda's body. Any hope she might still be alive was crushed when he saw the gaping hole where her throat had been; he collapsed beside them, knees scraping on the cobblestones. He fumbled around in his pocket until he found his cell, dialing the private emergency number to Giles' office that only the Scoobies had.
"Xander, what's wrong?" Giles said immediately.
He coughed. "We need help. Amanda –" He took a deep breath, still tasting dust. "Amanda's dead. We're on the corner of Grassmarket and King's Stable's Road. Giles…"
"Hush, Xander, we'll take care of it. Just stay there and we'll be there as soon as we can."
"Giles," Xander said in a firmer voice. "It was Drusilla."
"Dear Lord." He heard a crash, then muffled swearing. "How did you escape?"
Another deep breath. "I dusted her."
"You – bloody hell." There was the sound of a car starting in the background. "Never mind, son, just hold on. We'll be there in a hour."
Xander slipped the phone back in his pocket, then wrapped his arms around the sobbing Rayna and closed his eyes.
"The last thing I remember thinking before we got picked up is, 'thank god poor Spike didn't live to see this.'" Xander chuckled tiredly. "Irony much?"
"I really could care less about your existential ponderings, dammit, now get to why you hit the Watcher already!" Spike growled impatiently.
Xander slammed the glass down on the table. "Well I'm so sorry I'm not baring my soul fast enough for you, Fangless! But this is how I'm telling the damn story, so shut up and listen, okay?"
Spike plopped back down into the chair and crossed his arms sullenly. "Just…do it faster," he muttered, studiously ignoring the subsequent eye roll.
Xander slumped in the chair next to the fire with a glass of scotch that Giles had shoved into his hand. He sipped at it, but the taste of dust in his mouth refused to go away. He could hear the others talking around him; it didn't seem quite as important as staring at his feet right at that moment but he listened with half an ear anyway.
"We need to call Angel," Willow was saying unhappily. "Don't you think we should call him?"
"I suppose so," Giles replied reluctantly. "Though it's very possible Angel and Spike already know, the Sire/Childe bonds would have informed them almost immediately…"
Giles froze as he realized what he had given away; there was a tense silence as Xander slowly got to his feet, the glass slipping unnoticed to the floor.
"You mean Spike would have known, except he's dead. So he doesn't. Right, Giles?" Buffy's voice held a razor-sharp edge.
Giles sighed as took off his glasses and slowly set them on the table. "It may be that I haven't been entirely honest about what happened in Los Angeles."
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Xander snapped. "That better not mean what it sounds like it means."
Giles' mouth tightened, but he refused to meet anyone's gaze. "Spike has been alive – well, undead – in LA for almost two years. He was brought back by the amulet approximately three months after Sunnydale fell."
"Oh my god." Buffy swayed and grabbed the back of a chair. "You knew. All this time."
"Why, Giles? Why would you lie to us?" Willow whispered tearfully.
"I felt at the time that Angel was not to be trusted. He was at the head of a company known to be a stronghold of evil, and I did not want us involved. Also," now he looked uncomfortable, "Spike asked that you not be informed of his survival. I agreed, and I thought that it was better for everyone – for you especially, Buffy – if he remained out of our lives."
"You sanctimonious bastard!" Gripped by an unfamiliar white-hot rage, Xander caught Giles in the face with a strong right hook that knocked him to the floor, ignoring Willow's frightened squeak behind him. Buffy, however, didn't flinch. "You know what I told Drusilla? I told her that she had no right to talk about Spike because she abandoned him. That's what made her attack me. And now we find out that thanks to you, we did exactly the same thing?"
Giles rose unsteadily to his feet. "It was not a case of abandonment, Xander…"
"Like hell it wasn't!" he yelled again, making Willow jump. "He put on that fucking amulet and he died. He died and we just left him there in that hole? How could you do that?"
Giles visibly got a grip on his temper, watching Buffy as she turned away from them. "He didn't just die, Xander, he was dusted. Even if we had managed to crawl back down there, there was nothing to retrieve, do you understand? No one knew he could come back until the amulet was delivered to Angel at his office at Wolfram & Hart. And even then, Spike was incorporeal for several months – he had no body, only an image that couldn't touch anything, and no one knows to this day what was done to give him his body back. That is not an existence I would wish on my worst enemy, let alone a former ally." He sat down heavily in his chair, looking older and more tired than they'd ever seen him. "I freely admit that I am not Spike's greatest fan, but in the end he proved himself to my satisfaction."
"Proved himself?" Willow asked indignantly. "So what, now that he's been dead a few times he's good enough to be seen with us or something? I don't believe you!"
Giles slammed his palm down on the desk. "What do you want me to say, children? Spike was – is – a vampire. Whether he has a chip or a soul, he is and will always be a demon. A killer. And that is not something we can ever allow ourselves to forget."
"Fucking hypocrite." Xander put his hands flat on the desk and leaned down, getting into Giles' face. "Aren't you forgetting a few things? He isn't the only killer in the Scoobies, he just happens to have a higher body count. And as far as I'm concerned, that slate got wiped clean the second he put on that ugly damn necklace and walked down into the school basement knowing he was gonna die."
"Giles," Buffy said hoarsely from her spot by the fire, arms wrapped around her torso. "He went and fought to get his soul back. For me." She turned back toward them, brushing a tear off her cheek. "He knew I couldn't love him like he needed me to, but he did it anyway. He took care of Dawnie. He saved Xander from that priest-guy. And as much as I loved Angel, Spike did more for us than Angel ever did. It took me a long time to see it, but I get that now." She went to Xander's side, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders as she leaned into him.
"How are we going to tell him? We can't just do it over the phone," Willow said to Xander.
Xander released Buffy and picked up a notepad from the desk. "I'm gonna write him a letter, and you're gonna tell Faith to take it to LA," he said heavily. "And then I'm dragging my tired ass off to sleep for a week. Maybe two."
"And that's it," Xander said, leaning back into the couch. "Wills sent the package to Faith and you flew out here. The end, finito, amen."
Spike gulped down the last of the JD out of the bottle. "Feels to me like there's a lot you're leavin' out, mate."
Xander chuckled mirthlessly. "And you'd be right, but it's five in the morning and I'm fucking exhausted." He stood up. "So go sleep the day away, and maybe tomorrow night I'll tell you the rest."