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Upon A Stick

Title: Upon A Stick
Creator: baudown
Rating: G
Setting: Season 7, Spike in the school basement
Prompt: Hearing: Out of tune
Word count: 717
Note:  First time posting here -- I hope this is fits the parameters!

Upon A Stick

In the basement, there was scrabble-scrabble in his head.  Rats' claws sounds.  Rats were for eating -- it didn't frighten him, the scrabble-scrabble of their claws.  Or it did, or it had.  Scrabble in the walls, and a different school, and missing mother, but you couldn't cry out, no, it just wasn't done.  He'd worn boots then, too, but with buttons, not laces.  You closed them up tight, with a curved metal hook.  That was him, once.  That must have been him.  He remembers.

Now, he remembers everything.  That was the point, if there was one.

In the basement, there was singing -- nursery rhymes, and all out of tune.  Cats down the well, and ashes, and lemons.  Worms crawling in, and bells at St. Clement's.  Madmen in bags -- or the shadows of men.  For when your heart begins to bleed, you're dead, and dead, and dead indeed.

It drove you mad, but not mad enough.  That was the point, if there was one.  A mouth that opened, then closed again.  Promising death, only death wouldn't come.  Turn about's fair play, as Dru used to say.  To everything, turn, turn, turn.  That was a psalm, and a song.  He remembers.

A temple, a train, a cold tiled floor -- you scrubbed and you scrubbed, but it wouldn't wash out.  It never would stop, and you couldn't make it go, and he knew this because he had tried.  A length of rusted pipe, and broken glass, and fingers.  He kept up the digging, though he saw it was for naught.  Had to try, didn't you?  As he said one night to a man in a crypt.

In the basement, there was talk.  It was all the same talk, just the voices that changed.  The boy in Cardiff, the one in Grenoble.  A woman whose necklace had caught in his teeth.  In pubs and in parks, in cars and on ships, in kitchens, and convents, and concert halls.  A cellist, once, still clutching her bow.  The girl who had thanked him, and cradled his head.  And farmers, and lawyers, and singers, and sailors, and pastors, and children, and husbands, and whores.  The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.  And all put out to sea.

Angelus was there, or perhaps it was Angel -- no difference, not really, where he was concerned.  Dressed in a suit and a cleric's collar, and in his right hand, he carried a whip.  And he prayed to a man in an ink-stained green visor, bent over a desk, keeping careful accounts.  Telling himself that the books could be balanced -- very clever, was Angel, but not about this.

He'd got it by choice, so he knows, he remembers.  It swallowed your sacrifice, then spit it back out.  That was the point.  That was the point.  That was the point, if there was one.

In the basement, there were soldiers, fighting the fight though the battle was done.  They fell without weeping, and rose up in glory.  They haunted the places where he used to dance.  The first one was sorry, the second was angry.  One pushed him away, saying, now ask me why.

He'd sat in the dock, so he knows, he remembers.  A verdict was rendered, the sentence pronounced.  Thus spake the roses, culled from the garden: forsaken, forsaken, in sorrow to remain.

In the basement, ghosts would gather.  Ghosts of the living, as well as the dead.  She came to him, another ghost.  So dark down there, but still, he could see.  Dark as the coal shed, dark as coal.  Coal fed the fire, but he never got warm.

If only the touch of a small, warm hand.  There'd been music once, and light all around her.

She came, and she came, and one night she came, but in flesh, and bone, and blood.  She called him by name, and held a bridle before him, and he bowed his head to it, grateful.  He was better, then -- loved the bit in his mouth, and the tug of the reins.  She led him up, and out, and down a road.  The horizon was distant, and full of fire, but when he tried to run, she pulled him up short.

Time, there was time.   They would get there, together.  She hadn't said no, just not yet.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. Gorgeous use of language, the monotony and senselessness of "insane in the basement" Spike's thoughts are just perfect.

What I mean to say is, it's brilliant.

Welcome to the comm!
Nov. 11th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! "Insane in the basement" Spike really breaks my heart, so I tried to do him justice.
Nov. 11th, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
This is awesomesauce - welcome!! I'm so struck by the swinging back and forth between fairy tale narratives and individual ones, from the Everyman to the individual, almost like Spike's head keeps trying to bring the sheer number of people dying into a generalised narrative he can understand, but then he can't quite manage it. It's so cool.

But then there was also a function this evening where I work/study, so I am a little inebriated. I'm so sorry to welcome you like this. I'm a terrible mod. Please stay!
Nov. 11th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
I really love the insane!Spike dialogue in the show, and trying to parse out what he means and what associations he's making. I'm so glad you liked it -- inebriated or not!
Nov. 11th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
And now you return the favour by taking me right out of my comfort zone re pairings. *g*

This was gorgeous. The rhythm of some sentences are almost like the nursery rhymes he half remembers and the madness and memories just dance together in his head and on the page.

This was quite special, hon.
Nov. 12th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
Ha! Turn about really *is* fair play!

And thanks. I was aiming for that singsongy sort of feel -- guilty rumination colored by childhood memory. I'm happy it came across for you.
Nov. 11th, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC)
Wow. Real Crazy!Spike - very powerful and very much in character and voice. Poor boy.
Nov. 12th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! And you have a Crazy!Spike icon!
Nov. 12th, 2013 01:14 am (UTC)
Yes - one I made earlier - feel free to snag it if you like!
Nov. 12th, 2013 01:35 am (UTC)
Ooh, thanks, because I love it!
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 12th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Insane!Spike was so enjoyable to write -- a little upsetting, but interesting. And yes, he loves a firm hand, doesn't he?

Thank you!
Nov. 11th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
This is so great! I love the flow and how it reads inside my mind like this for instance:

"The girl who had thanked him, and cradled his head. And farmers, and lawyers, and singers, and sailors, and pastors, and children, and husbands, and whores. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. And all put out to sea."

It's poetic and lovely and sad and true. Wonderful job!
Nov. 12th, 2013 12:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for this wonderful comment -- I'm always worried that the way something reads in my head isn't going to translate to how it reads in someone else's head. Especially in this little piece, where the flow is kind of the whole point.

Really pleased you enjoyed it.
Nov. 11th, 2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written! It felt very authentic, just how Spike would be thinking. Thanks!
Nov. 12th, 2013 12:16 am (UTC)
There's a line in the show, when we first see Spike in the school basement, where he says, "I dropped my board in the water, and the chalk all ran. Sure to be caned." I've always loved that, because it conveyed so perfectly where his head was, and the associations he was making. That's where this came from, so I'm happy it felt authentically Spike to you.
Nov. 12th, 2013 01:02 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. Gorgeously written; feels as though it could've come right out of an episode. ♥
Nov. 12th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Best feedback I could wish for. Thank you!
Nov. 12th, 2013 02:02 am (UTC)
A powerful and poignant look at crazy Spike. Love it.
Nov. 12th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm so glad that you did. Thank you!
Nov. 12th, 2013 03:55 am (UTC)
Very evocative!
Nov. 12th, 2013 10:44 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Edited at 2013-11-12 10:45 am (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, wonderful! Crazy Spike stream of consciousness that works just perfectly.

Welcome to the comm. Please stick around.
Nov. 12th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
S/B was my first ship ever, and I shipped them big time, before crossing over to the slash side. But I've never written them (though I'm not sure this really counts, being that it's pretty light on Buffy), so I'm happy you liked it.

Nov. 12th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Ah, classic Baudown. You have such a lovely intimacy with the words you write and this piece takes me back to that Sunday when i stumbled across your LJ and you made me love Spander, just a little bit.
I love S7 Spike and you've written him so very well here.
Nov. 12th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this lovely comment. I appreciate it so much, as always.

I love S7 Spike, too. Oh, who am I kidding -- I love every iteration of Spike.
Nov. 17th, 2013 07:58 am (UTC)
Wowsers! Very musical and loved the nursery rhyme references and how it flowed. You are very clever and I look forward to your next one :)
Nov. 17th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Really happy you liked it, and I really appreciate the feedback.

Edited to add: our icons fit together!

Edited at 2013-11-17 04:56 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)
How did I not read this earlier? Thank heavens for Sparrow and her post at buffyversetop5, because this is crackerjack writing! Wow!

Jan. 20th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I do love me some Crazy!Spike.
May. 3rd, 2015 06:18 am (UTC)
I like this a lot. Your word choice is so fantastic and fitting for Spike during his basement period, I definitely feel like I'm in his head. I love it.

Your sentences have this almost-poetry feel to them, like a fairtytale or something. Very beautiful.
May. 4th, 2015 10:57 am (UTC)
It felt a bit like a prose-poem to me, too, so I'm glad to hear it came off that way to you. Thanks so much for the feedback!
Jun. 3rd, 2015 12:01 am (UTC)
Found this through the SunnyD Memorial Awards. I completely agree with whoever nominated you -- this is just perfect crazy!Spike.

Favourite bit:

She called him by name, and held a bridle before him, and he bowed his head to it, grateful. He was better, then -- loved the bit in his mouth, and the tug of the reins.

Also loved the necklace caught in his teeth -- wonderful detail and just the thing that would have stuck in his memory.

Jun. 3rd, 2015 11:28 am (UTC)
I'm so glad that you found it, and enjoyed it. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know!
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )


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