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Crazy Eights - Chapter 19

Well, here it is, folks - the conclusion of Crazy Eights.
It's been a long time coming, but it's done, at last and
ready for your perusal.

It's been a pleasure to share my little tale with you. Hopefully
you've enjoyed the journey.

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“I can’t believe he did that,” Buffy murmured, low enough for Spike’s hearing only. “Giles had always preached ‘human laws were for human criminals;’ it’s not for us to dictate their fate.”

“For you, kitten.” Spike stroked her hair and cuddled her close to his chest. “He didn’t want you to bear the weight of the decision; to make you responsible for taking a human life.”

“But – but – he did it!” she said, tears threatening. “And he’ll have to carry the stain of murder around on his soul for the rest of his life.”

“He knew that when he acted. He also knew, better than anyone what that Rayne bloke was capable of; knew there was no alternative.” Spike took her face in his hands, looking deeply into her wet, hazel eyes. “From the look of things, the git went peacefully. They looked like any old couple at a bar, discussin’ the ways of things. I’m sure Giles took it all into consideration before he acted.”

The way he looked at her, Buffy was sure Spike had more to say.

Sure enough, moment later, he added, “Besides, I don’t think it’s the first time he’s gone down that road. He’s a pragmatic sort – does what needs to be done. And if his tales of demon summoning are to be believed…”

Buffy sighed, knowing he was probably right. Spike was always good at reading people, too good at times.

Xander spoke up from his seat across the room. “Wanna fill the rest of us in? You look like someone’s best friend died.”

Spike looked at Xander, his eyebrow raised in an eloquent statement.

“Oh god,” he muttered. “I guess I put my big old foot in my mouth once again.”

Willow connected some of the dots. “So, congratulations are in order, then – you two took out the Big Bad, and now we’re all good? Sunnydale is safe for children and puppies?”

“They didn’t do it,” Anya commented, looking at the couple in question. “Spike’s not crowing and Buffy looks completely miserable. Those are not the recognizable expressions of victory.”

“So, who did?” Xander asked, looking totally perplexed.

“I did,” Giles announced as he entered the living room. “The man was my responsibility, and I knew what had to be done.”

Willow stared in disbelief. “So you took the life of your friend?”

“Ethan Rayne – the friend of my youth – has been gone for a long time,” Giles murmured, slumping into the couch. “What was left wasn’t fit for man or demon; he was totally out of control. He had no care nor remorse for his actions, and I couldn’t let that stand. The acts he could still have committed in the future were too grim to consider.”

“But you said–”

“That’s enough, Willow!” Giles raised his voice. “What’s done cannot be undone. Please have the decency to respect my decision.”

Willow sank back into the cushions, cowed by his harsh tone.

“W-we’re sorry for your loss, Mr. Giles,” Tara said, softly. “If there’s anything we can do to make things easier…”

“Thank you, Tara,” Giles said, his temper back under control. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing to be done. Ethan… Ethan would have flamed out eventually on his own. At least now, he can no longer take anyone else with him.”

Buffy walked over to beleaguered man and hugged him as gently as she could. “You didn’t have to do it, Giles. At the very least, Spike would have had no qualms doing the job. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to… to… to an old friend.”

“Ah, my Buffy,” Giles sighed, returning her hug. “Believe it or not, the decision wasn’t as difficult as one might think. This had been coming for a long time. I knew it, years ago, when he was just a callow youth… and I ran from him. This was, finally, my mistakes coming home to roost.”

~*~

Patrolling the warehouse district, Spike and Buffy arrived at The Crazy Eights.

“Well, will you look at that,” Spike said, staring intently at his old factory building.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, pet. Absolutely nothing, as in the glamour used to disguise the club is completely gone.”

“Do you think they’ve abandoned the place?” Buffy asked, hopeful hazel eyes meeting Spike’s.

“Let’s find out,” he said, heading to the door. It opened easily – no remnants of the lock system in place.

“It’s empty!” Buffy exclaimed. “It’s just as run-down and filthy as it was when you and…”

“Dru and Angelus,” Spike completed for her.

“Right… when you all camped here for the first time.”

“I’d say this is good news. I’m sure your Watcher will be thrilled; he literally brought down the house.”

“It might perk up his spirits a teensy bit to know his sacrifice wasn’t in vain,” Buffy added. “No matter what he says, he’s mourning the man he used to know.”

“How could he not?” Spike agreed. “Just ‘cause someone goes off the rails, doesn’t mean you forget the good times. One day after another is how he’ll get by, and eventually the pain he carries will be relegated to a back shelf.”

They walked along in silence for a bit, and somehow managed to end up in Restfield Cemetery.

“Looks like home,” Spike said, his head tilting in the direction of his crypt. “Smells like home, too.”

Buffy pouted. It had only been less than a handful of days, but she’d begun to think of her home as Spike’s, as well. And it bothered her that he didn’t feel the same.

“What’s wrong, kitten?” he asked.

“I was just sorta hoping you were getting comfortable at my home… maybe enough to want to stay?”

“Wouldn’t want to inconvenience your mum, love. She didn’t offer her home up to me for the duration, just a few days.”

“But Mom likes you,” Buffy pressed. “I know she wouldn’t mind. Why don’t we go and ask her?”

Spike sighed, and shook his head. “It isn’t fair putting your mum into a corner. She’ll take one look at your face and not be able to deny you anything.”

“Oh, please!” Buffy laughed. “She’s been able to deny me lots of things. No trouble with deny-age. I promise! But if we don’t ask…”

“Why don’t we let a few days go by and see what she has to say, hmm?”

Buffy frowned. “Why do I get the feeling that you’re not coming back home to stay tonight?”

“Was plannin’ to walk you home, as I would do any night,” he said softly, “but I was gonna come back here for the night – give you a little space.”

“I don’t want space!” Buffy was adamant, stomping her foot like a child. “The Big Bad is dead, Giles needs time to come to terms with his actions, and I want to explore our closeness. Separation and Spike are unmixy things.”

“I’m not goin’ anywhere, love.” He smiled at her, fondly. “I’m sure you can feel that.”

She nodded, keeping silent and feeling unaccountably miserable.

“Oh, look at that lip,” he said, hands guiding her face to his. “Gonna get it,” were his last words before his lips met hers in a soft kiss.

Buffy couldn’t help herself. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, deepening the kiss – her tongue breaking the seal of his lips, to tangle with his.

He couldn’t resist her aggressive moves, matching her beat for beat, his tongue tangoing with hers, hugging her tightly to his body.

“All right, you’ve won,” he conceded when he pulled back. “Leaving you now is the last thing on my mind. Want to christen the crypt before we head back to Revello?”

“I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful–”

Whatever she was about to say was swallowed up in another soul satisfying kiss, as Spike scooped her up and carried her into the crypt. Going home would have to wait.