Setting: BtVS S5, S6, S7; AtS S5
Word count: 995
Prompt: Ghosts R Us
A/N: Series of vignettes.
His crypt was filled with the stench of alcohol. Eyes bleary, heart heavy, he lay on his side, trying to decide which had more truth: that her ghost still hung all around (their memories, the bot), or that she was well and truly gone. He had long exhausted his supply of tears, and had very nearly finished his supply of alcohol. The blood in his fridge was packed to the brim, hardly touched.
The door opened with a creak. Dawn’s scent barely registered through the stink of alcohol.
“It’s after school. And you’re still lying here. I told you… I told you I’d be back, and you’d have to be up by then.”
He rolled over to look at her. Guilt. “Was just tryin’ to finish up,” he said semi-coherently, flinging a hand out to gesture at the empty bottles. The alcohol was fast wearing off.
She marched over to him, shiny brown hair swishing from side to side as she did, and a half-full bottle against the wall. He flinched when it shattered. She glared at him. “It’s been a week. Get up. You promised.”
He squeezed his eyes close. Didn’t protect her. Couldn’t protect her. “I know.”
“You can’t go on like this.”
“You’re like a ghost. You just stay here in your crypt drinking and sleeping and you—you never come round, and yeah, she—B-Buffy’s gone.” Her voice trembled. “But I didn’t think that meant you didn’t…”
He opened his eyes and looked at her. She was looking away from him now, eyes trained on the left wall of his crypt. “Dawn.” He waited till she looked at him. “Niblet, you know I care ‘bout you, yeah?”
“Yeah? Well, you haven’t done a real good job of showing it.” Her voice was thick.
Shame filled him, shoving the guilt down. He pushed himself up. He spoke in apologies, promises, and comforts. The sky turned dark. “The others will be waitin’ for you.”
Her face was still buried in the leather of his coat. She mumbled something into it.
“Doesn’t matter, they’ll be swingin’ by any time now.” He gently pried her from his coat, and looked at her straight in the eye. He stroked her hair with one hand. “Listen. Got just one more thing to say: I get it. We have to go on livin’.”
She wasn’t really there. She was a shell. She was a bot. She smiled and laughed and stared into space, and she had been wrenched from another dimension. She didn’t affect what she touched; things and friends would go on as they expected to.
But he could touch her. She craved it—his honesty and feeling, his life; that she didn’t feel dead around him; that she wasn’t a ghost. But paradoxically, the more she was around him, the more she faded from the real world. The more she wanted the dark, and why was there life in the dark? The more she was a ghost to them, but felt more real to herself.
He whispered to her all nights, and she tried not to listen, but his words were hypnotic and addictive. She heard how he saw her, how she felt, and every word seemed to cement her in the world, if not with the living.
Everything is dark and bright, too bright sometimes and so dark it hurts his eyes when he should be used to it. There’s something in his body now, something that he is, some foreign funny bit of something inside him and maybe around him and maybe they’re the same thing. It talks to him as a girl and as a sire and as many other dead, and he can’t stop, can’t think, must try.
No yes he has one, yes, a ghost inside of him and there’s a ghost outside of him, many many ghosts all around, and he is a ghost himself, better off dead properly dead and passing through things. But everything is so solid all around, dark and dank like he is consigned to, too effulgent sometimes comes down to speak but he never knows when it is really and not.
“I just can’t figure them—ghosts can’t touch you and zombies can’t disappear, so I don’t know what we’ve—”
“Not ghosts…” Tells the girl what happened, mind shattered but can still think, can still help, must help. We’re all ghosts here, so she goes back up.
He focused his will and carefully picked up the mug. Felt the cool plastic between his fingers, the feeling of solidity, of touching something.
“Spike! Get out of my chair.”
The voice shattered his concentration and the mug slipped through his once again incorporeal fingers, landing on the carpet. Spike wasn’t in the mood anyway, and, swallowing down a ‘Sod off’, he slipped off the chair and sulkily exited the room. Angel stared after him incredulously.
Things looked much brighter now. He could affect the physical world. Even if there weren’t a more permanent solution, he could train himself up to get corporeal enough, maybe even fight right and better.
He settled himself down on Harm’s abandoned desk. The phone stared back at him. He retrieved a slip of paper from his pocket, something he’d nabbed from Angel’s desk.
Slowly, he extended his arm and rested his hand on the phone. Then he picked it up and pressed the first number. And the next. And the next. Ten digits later, he hesitated, finger hovering over the ‘5’.
Did this make it more real, or less? Finish dialling and he wouldn’t be that hero, the one who burned up all noble in the Hellmouth. Finish dialling and he would be the vampire who never called, the one who was barely there in the world to begin with, now second fiddle to Angel (and wasn’t he always?).
She thought he was dead, but if he called now, he’d be even more of a ghost.