Title - Turn Again To Life
Warnings - Angst
Word Count - 2397
Time line - Set immediately post "Chosen"
Banner was made for me by edgehead73
Turn Again To Life
Was it quiet? Was it noisy?
Was it night? Was it day?
Was she travelling? Was she stationary?
At this point Buffy didn’t know. She didn’t need to know. She was back in The Hellmouth holding the hand of her true love.
The bus was slowly making its way around the country, dropping off some of the new slayers as it progressed towards Cleveland, but how ever many times people tried to speak to Buffy they received no response. She was only vaguely aware of those around her and dimly recalled the reason that they were on the bus. Dawn had literally pulled her out of her seat a couple of times each day and pointed her towards the bathroom. When she emerged Dawn placed a sandwich in her hand and handed her a Coke. Left to her own devices, even these basic needs were too much for Buffy to handle.
At one of these stops, Giles and Dawn discussed the situation, as Buffy sat opposite them, staring out of the window. Their conversation flowed around without really registering.
“What can we do?” asked Giles. He had been doing much of the driving as
“I really don’t know. I tried talking to her, about anything, everything … nothing. I even asked her about Spike. At least I got a response from that.” Dawn muttered.
“What did she say?”
“She didn’t. She just looked at me as if I was insane.”
”She hasn’t said a word since Sunnydale?”
“That’s right. So now it’s my turn to ask – What can we do?”
The conversation didn’t register with Buffy, even though she was sitting right there. She was lost in her memories, in a permanent loop of those last 5 minutes in The Hellmouth- the worst moments of her life.
Dawn slowly moved closer to her sister and stroked through her hair. She wished that she could find a way to let Buffy know that she had friends and family who would help her, if only she would let them.
With no answers available they propelled the girl in question back on the bus and so headed on.
That night they pulled into yet another motel and again dragged Buffy via the shower to the restaurant in the knowledge that she was still not really with them. The conversation flowed around her. As the days had passed the tension within the group had lessoned. They were beginning to sort through their own thoughts and emotions. Conversation was certainly easier than it had been. No one ever mentioned Spike, even when Buffy wasn’t around. Those few who still attempted to talk to the girl directly weren’t even acknowledged. Those who persisted in their attempts were met with the same blank stare that left them backing down from the confrontation.
After their meal, during which Buffy had made crumbs out of her sandwich, the group slowly made their way to their various rooms. Dawn got her sister settled in their room. She asked Jan, one of the young slayers to keep an eye on Buffy, then gathered up the pile of washing that had accumulated, before making her way to the basement laundry. There was something very soothing about sitting with these machines. Dawn could let her mind travel away from her constant anxiety over her sister and relive her own memories.
However, unlike her sister, the one person she tried to keep out of her thoughts was Spike. True he had been her surrogate big brother during “that” summer, but last year, Xander had let slip an awful story about Spike. She had never actually confirmed the story with Spike or Buffy, so the doubts and mistrusts were still there. So she sat and remembered the battle, Anya, those who had been wounded and those who had died, but as soon as that vampire entered her thoughts she immediately thought of something different.
One load of washing finished and the next was ready to start. At least with this, her mind could focus on the mundane things of life. It is amazing how jobs that sometimes seem so boring, suddenly seem to be the best thing to do! Dawn methodically removed clothes from the washer and put them in the drier, before turning to the final heap of clothes and placing them in the now empty machine. As she did she thoroughly checked the pockets, always hoping to find that unexpected 50 dollar bill, but usually all she found was an old Kleenex! This time however, she found a tatty envelope in the back pocket of a pair of jeans. They were Buffy’s jeans. As she pondered over the significance of that, she took a better look at the envelope and realised two things: first that it was sealed and second, that it was addressed to Buffy in a familiar hand.
As the next set of washing started, Dawn’s thoughts turned to the handwriting on the envelope. Although it just had one word, she felt that she should be able to recognise the writing. At the back of her mind she knew who had written it but in admitting that to herself she began to question her perception of Buffy’s life.
At long last the cycles were finished and she slowly made her way back up towards the bedrooms.
When she entered their room it was to find that Buffy was sleeping, or at least pretending to and her “bodyguard” quietly reading. Jan stood up and walked quietly to the door. After a murmured thanks from Dawn she headed back to her room that she shared with one of the other slayers. Dawn got ready for bed. Before she was settled down for the night she laid the envelope on the pile of clothes that she had already laid out for Buffy for the following morning.
Morning came round rapidly and Dawn set about getting ready for the day. She looked across at her sister, lying in the other bed, who she knew was awake, but pretending to still be resting. Dawn knew that it was no good trying to speak to her tightly hunched sister, so she decided to leave her for the moment and rush through her morning routine. She planned to bring back some fruit to try to tempt her to eat breakfast.
“I know that you are awake, Buffy … Fine … Suit yourself. Pretend all you want, but nothing is going to bring him back.” Dawn loved her sister and therefore couldn’t keep pretending that everything would be OK. As there was still no response she quietly left the room and proceeded down to breakfast.
Once the room was quiet Buffy made a move. She had been planning that, as soon as she could, she would just disappear. So she jumped out of bed and moved rapidly towards her clothes.
As she reached for her clean top she realised that there was something lying on it – the battered envelope. She glanced at it and gasped. Buffy recognised the writing immediately, although she had only ever seen it a couple of times, when she had spotted “his” notebook.
It was Spike’s handwriting.
Where was he? How had he written to her? Why couldn’t he just speak to her? Was it just an old shopping list? Why couldn’t it have been him sitting there, not just an envelope?
She collapsed to the floor clutching the envelope to her body as the tears at long last began to flow. Her cries were quiet at first. Then they grew to huge sobs that seemed as if they would never stop. She didn’t really know what was happening to her for some time until she realised that someone’s arms were around her – Dawn was accepting her tears, which made her want to continue to weep. However as she became more aware of where she was she realised that she really needed to read her letter and find out what his words to her were from beyond the grave.
Dawn fumbled in her pocket for a tissue to mop her sister’s face. Gradually she got them both more settled, still sitting on the floor, but at least they were leaning against the bed.
Before Dawn could speak, Buffy rasped out a word “Spike”.
“What about him, Buffy? I know that he didn’t make it. Do you want to talk about what happened?” Dawn didn’t know what had caused this meltdown, but was more than happy to try to get her sister talking again.
“No. This letter … it’s from him”
“Oh!” Dawn then realised why she had thought she recognised the handwriting when she discovered the envelope in the first place. She had seen shopping lists and to-do lists in his beautiful flowing script when he was caring for her.
They both sat and stared at the envelope until Dawn asked “How did Spike put that in your pocket? I know it is a silly question, but maybe it will give us somewhere to start.”
“When I left the basement on that morning …” Buffy began hesitantly “he gave me a hug. He must have slipped it in while I was in his arms.” At that memory she broke down again.
Dawn waited for her to compose herself and tried to decide what to do next. Should she give her sister privacy? Should she stay and lend her support? She decided to wait to see what would happen next.
After a few minutes Buffy composed herself and started to carefully open the envelope.
“Wait.” Dawn stopped her. “Look I don’t want you to think that I’m not here for you, but would you like to read this privately?”
“Thanks, Dawnie,” came the answer. “But I need you to be here so that it feels real. OK?”
“OK. Just take your time, I’m here for you.” Dawn settled herself more comfortably and held Buffy, carefully, so she couldn’t read Buffy’s letter without being invited.
Buffy pulled the card out of the envelope. It looked like the type of card that you would buy in a Church bookshop. For a minute she wondered where Spike would have found it. However as her thoughts began to focus more clearly she realised there was nothing that he wouldn’t have done for her. Nowhere he wouldn’t have gone!
The wording on the front was written in beautiful gothic script, surrounded by scrolls and swirls. As she read what the card company had printed she started to cry again :
If I should die and leave you here awhile, be not undone like others sore undone, who keep silent vigils by the silent dust and weep.
For my sake turn again to life and smile, nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine, and I, perchance may therein comfort you.
“Spike, Spike, Spike” Buffy quietly whispered his name as the tears fell. Then with the strength of her calling she straightened up and opened the card to read what he had written for her.
My Dearest Slayer,
If you are reading this then I know that it is because the amulet and I have both done our jobs. The Hellmouth is closed, the world is saved and this time you are alive.
Always remember what I said to you last night. You are THE ONE, Buffy. It’s nothing that can be changed. I know that I have always said that I would go down fighting, so for me to be fighting so that you can live is the best reason.
I hope that you will never get to read this card, but I guess that it is probably time for me to leave this world. Not that I want to leave you, but to make this world safe for you to live in, I would give my own life.
Keep living, my darling. Dawn said that you told her it was the hardest thing to do – so follow your own advice and LIVE. Tell the Niblet I still love her and I understand why this last year has been hard for her.
All my love and hopes for a bright future go with this card, to you. Take hold of that life and make the most of it.
The tears started again and it was with a feeling that they would never stop however they were healing tears this time. Buffy knew she had a long road to travel but wherever that road led in the future, this card would always be with her. Spike’s memory would never fade.
As she continued to cry she turned further into Dawn’s arms. She didn’t want to show her what Spike had written, but knew that Dawn understood and accepted that loss was something that would take time.
Dawn just hugged her and quietly wept her own tears. Mostly at realising that Spike had, as ever, reached Buffy. He had always known what to say to her when she was missing Buffy so much. Now she began to realise that she should have made her peace with him. As her sister’s tears began to abate she also knew that Buffy would have a long way to go, but this was at least her first step along the path.
As Buffy began to collect her thoughts she became aware of a tingling in the hand that was holding her precious gift. She looked at it and for the first time realised the extent of the burns. During her isolation on the bus she had instinctively relied on her Slayer healing to repair her wounds.
Her hand was permanently scarred.
As she looked at the scars she thought that she could still feel Spike’s hand in hers. She realised the truth of the card. She could go on, because he would always be with her.
The gift card does actually exist – no copyright on it. I have it in a frame with a picture of my much loved horse, Jaykub, who died suddenly, on