Cross posted to sickchicks and my regular journal.
Hell Is In the Details – Chapter 17 – Thereby Hangs A Tale
Anya had granted Buffy’s wish of Justice for Spike. Fine. The problem was going to be… the execution of the wish. This particular vampire was a unique case and it was going to be a royal pain in the ass to arrange. The hoops she’d have to jump through to set this up… and the dangers.
And as for the dangers it presented to Spike… Hoo Boy, Buffy was not going to be a happy camper when she found out about the risk to Spike.
It was the specific wording of her wish that was the source of all the trouble. Buffy had said:
“I wish one day you’d understand how wrong your actions were, Angel.”
The problem? Everything Angel had done was proper according to demon laws. It’s where he sold him and for what end that was the subjective sticky part – the reason she was called.
So the question became how to reconcile both the legality and the morality – well, such as could be considered moral in the eyes of both Slayers and squabbling familial vampires.
Angel would be judged and punished according to the whims of the Tribunal judges.
The part Buffy was going to go ballistic over was that Spike would be judged, first. And, being Orderless – with nobody to speak on his behalf, or guarantee his future behavior – he could be summarily executed at the discretion of the Tribunal if found to be unworthy in the eyes of the Court.
Which didn’t exactly satisfy the Justice wish she’d made in the first place, and would probably entitle her to a second wish, which couldn’t bring back a yet again dusted Spike, which would equal a highly pissed off Slayer.
Oh poo! Some days it really didn’t pay to get out of bed.
There had to be something she could do to help the Slayer. For her to lose Spike at this stage of the game went against Anya’s romantic nature. Besides, between the two of them, Buffy and Spike had already died four times. Living happily ever after would be the best form of revenge against Angel.
The trick would be getting Spike through the Tribunal in one undusty piece.
Anya shook her head. Only a fucked up demonic legal system would have the victim on trial for his life, while the perpetrator would be let off the hook with a simple punishment. Determined to make things right, she teleported to the Tribunal’s home dimension, in the hopes of pleading clemency for Spike in advance.
Her arrival at Arashm’har left her shaken. She had tried to explain the extraordinary circumstances of William the Bloody. That he had been the wronged party and was not in need of judgement, but the Tribunal would not be swayed.
They had informed her that their system had been in place for millennia, and it would take more than a pretty little vengeance demon to shake things up. Spike would stand trial first, to be deemed worthy or not of seeking judgement against his erstwhile Sire. His execution would be swift and relatively painless if it came to that conclusion.
At least they called her pretty.
Doomed. Anya knew she should have ignored that cry for Justice from Buffy. Anything, anything relating to the Scoobies was bound to cause grief and heartache and was certainly going to ruin her standing with D’Hoffryn.
And her record had been really spotless since her return to the vengeance game.
As humble as her nature would allow, Anya approached the throne.
“Ahhhh, my lovely Anyanka.” The elder demon was in a good mood, even though he already knew the reasons for his girl’s appearance. “Tell me, my dear… to what do I owe this honor?”
“Can it, D’Hoffryn. That coy act hasn’t worked with me in centuries. I know that you know just why I’m here, so let’s get down to brass tacks already. You know there isn’t much time.”
He smiled – which did nothing to dispel the “no matter which way you go with this, you’re so fucked” vibe he gave off. “Good enough. You’re here to seek dispensation from granting this latest wish.” He sighed, shaking his head. “What is it with that lot of humanity that keeps you so tied to them? It never works out well for you in the end.”
Anya thought long and hard before she answered. “It’s true. They never really accepted me into their group. Ex-demon and all with my history, I suppose I should be grateful Buffy never attempted to slay me while I was human.” ~And so totally glossing right over that whole frat-boy incident~
“It’s just… well, the only one who ever showed me real kindness, was Spike. Always on the periphery – never allowed in… and his body count was way less than mine. But as a soulless vampire, he held me when I was hurting, and made me feel like things weren’t all my fault. And the sex? Hell, you can’t beat a vampire when it comes to zero refractory time.”
She waved her hand in the air, dismissing that particular line of conversation. “Oh, c’mon, Hoffy! I’m not trying to wiggle out of anything. I owe Spike. A lot, if I can help it. And if Buffy’s actually going to champion his cause – I don’t want her wish for justice to leave her without the man she’s fighting for!”
This time D’Hoffryn’s smile was genuine, soft for his favorite vengeance demon. “You’re a remarkable girl, Anyanka. To care enough for a vampire and his erstwhile nemesis to risk my wrath again. I’ll tell you what, you go set up the vampires’ trial. The Cahair Binse is not known for their patience and I’m sure the Slayer needs to be forewarned. She has an annoying little tendency of slaying first, asking questions later and I believe she’s rather on edge at the moment.”
It had been a beautiful day. Blue sky, white fluffy clouds, green grass and yellow sun. Almost like living in a young child’s crayon drawing. Buffy was putting away the remnants of their picnic lunch, when she frowned. It wasn’t like him not to be there with her. He always stayed to do the cleanup.
Buffy looked up as a shadow fell across the blanket. “Hey, Anya. I guess that death thing didn't work out real well for you, either. Come sit with me,” she said, patting the pink blanket. “He’s not here for some reason. He’ll be sorry he missed you.”
“Death is overrated, you know.” Anya looked up at the gathering clouds. “And he needs tending to. Things go all willy-nilly without proper attention.”
“So,” Buffy sighed, “who brought you back? Was it Xander? I know he missed you.”
“I heard you had a bit of a vampire problem." Anya’s vengeance demon mask was firmly in place when she looked down.
“Not so much – it’s all right now. Saved the guy – dumped the dream.”
Anya looked dismayed. “But you have no flowers. You got the guy without the flowers… just thorns. Everything pricks at you.”
“What? Pricks? No.. no.. nuh uh. No pricks. Nothing pricks.”
“Now, now, Buffy,” the vengeance demon gentled, patting the Slayer on her knee. “Don’t be crude. I just meant there’s no peace. You saved the guy but the villain went free.”
Both women looked towards the darkening sky, which was now a roiling mass of blackened storm clouds as the rain began to fall.
Buffy’s lip quivered. Storms frightened her, and they were targets for lightning sitting out in the middle of nowhere. “Can you stop the rain, Anya? I mean… the parade’s gonna be canceled.”
“Sorry, no can do.” She smiled, sadly. “Into each life… blah, blah, blahdy, blah, blah – you know the drill.
“I do know someone who can build you a shelter. It’s small, but it's dangerous. It can burn you instead of protecting you. But once you're safe inside... the rain will stop, and the flowers will bloom - without thorns.”
Buffy looked down at her hands. “But I'm all brown thumbs! Gardening and me are non-mixy things.”
“You have to try, Buffy - every garden needs a little rain - and you don't get blooms without hard work. Trust in yourself. Risk the danger.” Anya clasped the Slayer’s shaking hands in her own. “Gather other gardeners - they'll help you weed out the danger.”
“But I don't know anyone else who likes the flowers I do.”
“It doesn't matter. With their experience, anything will bloom.”
“I really don't know how to take care of a garden,” Buffy cried, tears mixing with the falling rain. “I'll kill all the flowers.”
Taking pity on the sobbing girl, Anya handed over a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and twine. “Here, I'll give you the book - it'll be up to you to read it.”
A loud clap of thunder made Buffy jump, and she woke up screaming in her bed, sweat pouring from her body... a talisman clutched tightly in her hands.
“What was that? I don’t know if it’s the hour, or the long distance – but proper enunciation would go a long way in helping me understand you.”
Buffy gave Giles time to clean his glasses and put them back on his face. “I said – Angel is evil and all my plans have changed.”
“Yes, Buffy, I’m fairly sure I got that part… but I’m not senile, and I distinctly recall you saying something about Spike. Did your Slayer dream involve his death in any way?”
“I hope you’re sitting down, Giles,” she mumbled, “and have all the sharp and pointy things in another room. I said Spike is back. He popped back into Angel’s office a week after we left the country.”
“So, Spike’s back, you say? And he’s been back for a year, and Angel knew all about it?”
Buffy was amazed. He was being so calm about the revelation. “Yup, in unliving black and white.”
“Right, dear. And I’m the bloody Queen of England.”
Now that’s more like the reaction I expected. “Giles, I swear it. Spike’s been back for a year and that bastard never saw fit to tell anyone.”
Giles practically snorted his derision. “Look, Buffy – if what you say is true, and I do mean if it’s true… what makes you think he’d come flocking to you? He’s unchipped and free for the first time in nearly eight years… I’m sure he’d be off… “
“Oh, no! Don’t you dare go there again, Giles.” Gone was the nervous girl; Slayer to the fore. “Spike would have called me the moment he was back if he knew where I was. If he was capable of making a call. Don’t you dare belittle what he did for the world or for me.
“I thought you understood! We held a fucking memorial service for both Spike and Anya in England. You comforted me, told me at least he was at rest now.” Buffy was fuming. How dare he? “You really don’t have a bloody clue as to who or what Spike had become, or how much we relied on each other. You would have killed him and we all would be living in hell. Or dead!”
Lorne peeked his head into the room, the volume of Buffy’s yelling had reached Spike’s room, and both vampire and demon were concerned for the young woman.
“Hey, strudel. Everything all right? The walls upstairs were shaking in their supports, and we were getting worried you’d blow out your vocal chords.”
“You tell Spike I’m talking to Giles. I’ve had a Slayer dream, and if he ever gets his head out of his very British ass, there’s a whole lot of actual discussion that needs to take place. Spike’ll understand the reason for the yelling.” Before Lorne closed the door, Buffy said, “And I’m sorry for the Banshee level screams. I’ll try not to disturb anyone else.”
“No problem, sweet girl. Should I have Spike pick up the phone?”
Buffy’s eyes widened in horror, as she imagined the conversation between the two Brits. “God, no. I don’t think I could stand it right now.”
“It’s your call, bubbelah! Just bellow if you need me. I’m gonna go calm down cave vamp upstairs. I swear he’d fly down here to your rescue if he could.”
As soon as she was alone, Buffy lifted the receiver to her ear. “Giles, are you still there?”
“Well, either whoever else is in the house with you is delusional, or you were being truthful about Spike returning from the ashes. I-I’m sorry, Buffy. I know our opinions on Spike will never come to an accord, but the fact that he’s risen from the grave once again might have it’s bearings in prophesy.” Giles’ inherent Watcher had finally awakened. “Now that I am more fully alert, why don’t you tell me the full story of your visit to Los Angeles, William the Bloody’s return and your Slayer dream. Something tells me everything is tied up in one big Gordian knot.”