By Your Side by pixiecorn
1. Chapter 1 by pixiecorn
2. Chapter 2 by pixiecorn
A fic that I wrote years ago, but recently went through and touched up. Only two chapters in total.
And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
-Tenth Anvenue North
There was nothing that could stop the utter emptiness that she felt. It surrounded her in a cloud of darkness, leaving her hollow to the core. At first it only consumed her during sleeping hours, plaguing her dreams with nothing but nightmares and terrors. Now though, in her waking hours it left her void of all emotion. A constant dull ache, an ever persistent reminder that she had survived and he had not.
There was a part of herself that had been torn away when he had been taken from her, never to be found again.
It hurt to breathe.
She was angry at the world. Angry at herself. How was a person supposed to go on after being torn apart, split down the middle and left broken and empty?
She feared for his soul. Lost forever in darkness or light she did not know, but knew for certain that it was in a place that she would never be able to reach. Never again would she hear his voice in teasing or joy, mocking her or laughing with her. His voice would never again be heard by her ears, what once had been a saving grace to any terrible day.
Tears slipped freely down her cheeks as the pain of her loss consumed her.
She stood still, arms dangling listlessly from her sides as her tears fell. Leaving this spot made it harder, made the hurt ache even further. She couldn't go home and be surrounded by his things, constant reminders that he was never again going to walk through the front door and pick them up.
He was gone and she wasn't ready to face what that really meant.
“It's getting really dark, pet.”
Buffy was a shadow of her former self, looking nothing like the girl he had come to know and love over the last few years. It was evident that she had been crying non-stop since the ceremony four weeks ago. Her eyes were swollen red and puffy and her skin pale. Although she wore an oversized football jersey that looked a lot like her brothers, it did little to hide her body and he could see she was gaunt and very thin. Joyce had been right to send him, the poor girl hadn't eaten in weeks. Her once shining shampoo commercial blonde hair was tied back into a messy bun, not caring for all the stray oily hairs that clung to the sides of her face, a sure indicator that she hadn't brushed it in a while.
Spike let out a sigh and stepped closer. She looked so tiny standing alone in the dark, fragile and broken.
“Your mom called me again, luv.” He slipped his hand into hers, just like he had the day her brother had been lowered into the ground and spoke softly. “You can't keep running off in the middle of the nigh' like this.”
Hearing her tear filled voice had his stomach turning in knots; his heart breaking, knowing all too well the pain and suffering that loss brought.
“I know, luv.” He gave her hand a gentle squeeze and followed her unwavering gaze to the tombstone she was staring at blankly.
Liam Angel Summers
Beloved Son, Brother & Friend
“Who gets to decide?” Buffy couldn't rein in the tears that slipped down her cheeks or the small hiccup of a sob that she let out.
Spike didn't know how to respond, lost for words and not holding the answers to the questions she sought.
“Who makes the decision of who stays and who goes? He was young and he was happy.” Her shoulders were shaking with the force of her tears. “Why didn't they take me instead?”
Buffy dropped to her knees, her hand slipping from his as she fell. Her shaky fingers reached forward to trace the delicate lettering of his name that her mother had picked out.
“It should have been me.”
“Buffy, no.” Spike knelt down beside her, reaching for her hand.
“Is there something wrong with me?”
“That I should w-want it to be me in there instead of him?" She still hadn't looked at him once, her hand stopping on the word brother. "I was supposed to pick Mom up at the gallery that night. It should have been me."
“You can't keep doing this to yourself, pet.” Spike gathered her into his arms as she openly cried, her sobs echoing into the empty graveyard.
It was the third night that week that Joyce had called him to help find Buffy. The third night that he had found her standing in front of her brother's eternal resting place, staring blankly at his tombstone, unmoving. He wasn't surprised that Joyce had turned to him for help; after all he was her deceased son's best friend. Spike had spent enough time at the Summers' residence over the last few years that he had practically been adopted in as family.
For as long as he could remember he had spent every other afternoon with Angel at his house, whether it was to train for their soccer matches after school or to just hang out watching movies and reading comics. They were inseparable and the closest of friends. Over the years Spike had grown quite attached to if not completely besotted with Angels sister, Buffy. Not that she ever knew of his affections towards her of course.
Angel, his fellow team-mate and best friend had died in a terrible car accident a little over a month ago, leaving his nineteen year old sister and devoted mother behind. Buffy had been absolutely devastated and crushed by the incident. She had completely withdrawn into herself and now spent days on end not leaving the house at all.
His visits had become less frequent over the past weeks; the Summers' weren't the only ones who had lost someone close to them and he too had buried himself in his pain. For a while numbness was all he felt, a brief solace and escape offered to him by the amber liquid out of a bottle. Joyce still rang him often, making sure that he was doing ok and to give him updates on Buffy and her ever-decreasing status of well-being. After every phone call, his heart seemed to sink just that little bit further.
“C'mon luv, le's get you home.” Every so slowly he slipped a hand around her waist, helping her to her feet.
His shirt was wet where the tears she had shed soaked through as she clung to him, sobbing her heart out. A sound that pained him to hear as her shoulders shook with the force. She didn't utter a word as he led her from the graveyard or spare a backward glance to the tombstone that she had spent hours tracing.
She was a ghost of her former self. A young girl who was lost too deep within her grief and despair to notice anything else around her.
Forcing back the tears that threatened to fall Spike sucked in a deep breath and sent a look heavenward, vowing to bring an end to the pain and suffering that had been surrounding them all for weeks. Long ago he made a promise to his best friend that he would always be there for him and his family if ever called upon. He had been called upon so often in this last week, taking on others pain with his own and feared that it too would soon overwhelm him to the point of no return.
This needed to stop.
Chapter End Notes:
Only one more chapter to go
Here at my side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
- Tenth Avenue North
“Is that Buffy?”
Spike turned toward the muffled voices of surprise, following their dumbfounded gazes and couldn't believe what his eyes were seeing. He had finished soccer training after college classes had let out with the rest of his team earlier that day. Over the last six months the team had become a well-oiled unit, playing as one and often winning games against their opponents. It had become a habit to visit Sunnydales small nightclub after a win and ever since the passing of their captain; his best friend, they had all agreed to spend one night a week at the Bronze in his memory. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to simply be in their company without the memory of Angel in his mind and for a few fleeting moments he allowed himself to feel again.
He hadn't known what to expect when coming tonight, but it certainly wasn't what he was watching now.
He was stunned into silence at the sight before him, mouth hanging open in shock. This was the last thing he had expected to see.
But, there she was, Buffy Summers, finally out of her house and at the Bronze of all places. She was dancing without a care in the world, arms up in the air as she twirled and spun. Was that a smile?
“She hasn't left her house since it happened.” Xander, forever Mr. Obvious and the teams goalie spoke. "I hear she's been missing most of her classes too." He too had been close friends with Angel and had been in Buffy's life for years.
Spike acknowledged his friend's statement with a grunt and stood. Buffy had followed in her brothers footsteps and continued her education at Sunnydale University, but to hear that she was skipping classes and find her here of all places had him worried. Joyce hadn't called him in nearly a week and after two days he had stopped waiting by the phone for it to ring.
“She got here before us!” Willow, Buffy's red-headed best friend, practically shouted out at the questioning glare he sent her way as soon as he came to stop at the small table her friends were sitting around. “She was making with the laughing and being overly giddy.”
“That's the dance of one brave little soldier.” Xander noted, having followed Spike and nodding in Buffy's direction as she giggled and swayed to the beat of the music.
“Are you kidding me?” Cordelia, Xander's girlfriend, snorted as she took a sip of her drink shaking her head at their stupidity.
“She looks like she's doing better.” Willow insisted, glancing from Cordy who rolled her eyes and back towards Buffy who was laughing and stumbling towards them.
“She's holding on by a thread.” Cordelia pointed at Buffy's stumbling form.
“Hey guys. Spike!” Buffy squealed, tumbling into him for a tight hug. He stumbled back against her onslaught and in the process knocked over a chair that her jacket was lying across onto the floor. “When did you get here?”
“Any ninny can see that.” Cordelia raised one eyebrow in point, sipping her drink.
Spike bent down to pick up the chair along with the two empty bottles of beer that had fallen from Buffy's stool, a frown forming on his face.
“Are you drunk?”
“That's a very strong word." Buffy's demeanor became very serious. "Drunk.” She stumbled backwards a few steps away from him and out of his reach at his quizzical and accusing gaze. “Tipsy maybe, but drunk? No.” She dragged out her 'no' and finished with a giggle.
“Buffy.” He held up the empty bear bottles as evidence to his question.
“So what!” She snapped, snatching the empty bottles from his hands. “So what if I am, huh? I'm allowed!”
“You're nineteen for Christ-sake!”
The disappointment in his voice had her face crumbling and she spared a glance at the friends sitting at the table behind them.
“Maybe we should just leave you two for a moment." Willow offered her friend a small smile of support, standing while motioning for Xander and Cordelia to move. The seemed content to sit and watch the confrontation that was about to unfold. With a frown she pulled them both up by the arms and pushed them towards the dance floor.
“It numbs the pain, ok?”
Spike closed his eyes at her words, knowing all to well the numbing sensations that alcohol brought, his mind flashing to the number of bottles he had consumed after his friend's death.
“You can't turn to alcohol to solve your problems, luv.”
Before she could utter a word in response, a dark haired man walked over to them and handed Buffy another beer. He was oblivious to the daggers Spike was shooting at him, simply wrapping his arm around Buffy's waist and sipping his own beer.
“Here you go, babe.”
“Who the fuck are you?” Spike couldn't stop the profanities from escaping, eyes narrowing in on the weaselly looking man.
“Parker. Who the fuck you are?”
Spike growled low, his hands tightening into fists at the utter disdain and disrespect that Parker spoke to him with.
“So going to kick your ass! Did you know that she's only nineteen?” Spike snatched the beer from Buffy's hand just as she was about to take another sip.
“Nineteen! You told me you were twenty-one!” Parker's hold on her waist was instantly gone, his hands throwing themselves up into the air as if he'd been burned.
“Oh for fuck's sake!” Buffy growled, grabbing her jacket from the recently upturned chair and stormed past the two men, but not before snatching her beer from Spike's hands again.
She took a few more large gulps before discarding her beverage on a nearby table and walking out the exit and into the night. She didn't get far before Spike caught up with her, slightly out of breath indicating that he had run. He didn't look happy.
“What are you playing at?” He grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him, halting her movements.
“Excuse me?” She pulled her arm from his grip and glared back.
“How did you even get him to buy you alcohol? Scratch tha', I don't even want to know. I'm driving you home.” Spike slipped his arm around her elbow and walked across the lot, helping her climb into his DeSoto. "Angel would be ashamed of you if he could see how you're acting. You're better than this." If she vomited on his baby he was not going to be happy.
Buffy hiccuped and struggled to force the tears that were welling in her eyes not to spill over. Spike cursed himself for what he'd said, not wanting to hurt her feelings even further.
"I'm sorry luv, that was uncalled for." He sighed. "I just don't understand why you're doing this to yourself? He's gone, luv and he's not coming back." His words were whispered in such a way that he was almost trying to tell it to himself. Angel was gone, but they still needed to live. Spike watched Buffy's shoulders sag and knew that Cordelia had been right. She was still as broken as ever. “You need to move on with your life. Pick yourself back up, gather the pieces together and carry on. Angel would have never wanted to see you like this, pet.”
"I don't know how to do that."
Her admission had him in tears, grasping her hand and giving it a tight squeeze before turning the ignition and pulling from his parking space. She didn't speak a single word the whole drive back to her house, just stared silently out at the night sky as it zoomed passed.
The jeep that normally took residence in the Summers driveway was gone and for a brief moment he sat in panic thinking that Buffy hadn't told her mother she was leaving and she was now out searching the streets for her.
“L.A.” Buffy wiped the tears from her cheeks and stared up at her dark and empty house.
Joyce was the owner of Sunnydale's finest art gallery and was constantly driving back and forth between L.A and Sunnydale, brokering with art dealers to sell their limited pieces. She had made quite a name for herself over the last few years and had recently been contracted by a large international company to sell their pieces exclusively.
“Just because he's gone doesn't mean that her workload stops.” Buffy spoke, a slight bitterness to her voice.
Before Spike could reply, she had exited the car and was halfway up the driveway. There were no lights on and she stopped halfway to stare at the dark house. Angel always kept the lights on for her when she came home from a night out. Even in high school when her cheer-leading practice had run late and she'd come home after dinner, he had always left the lights on.
Now though, the house was encased in darkness. Another bitter reminder that he wasn't there to welcome her home.
“Buffy-" Spike switched the ignition off and rushed after her. “Are you going to be ok?” She had made it onto the front porch and as she placed the key in the front door he tentatively reached out to touch her arm. “If you need anyone to talk to, if you're still in pain, you know I'm here, luv. Whenever you call-"
“He's been there my whole life.” Her bottom lip was trembling as she met his eyes, hands dropping from her keys that remained in the lock. “I've always had a big brother, Spike and I don't know how to live without one.” Her hands were shaking as she brought them up to run through her tussled blonde locks. “It hurts to talk most days.” She brushed away her tears and stared down at her feet, not once looking at him. “It hurts to breathe.” Her hands were folded across her body, one hand over her heart. “So unless you know how to make all of this better, then I really don't want to talk right now.”
She reached for her keys, turning them and was stopped from walking through her front door by Spike who grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him in a tight hug. All the emotions that she had been trying to bottle up all evening broke like a dam and she crumbled against his chest. She could feel his own tears as they fell onto her shoulder, silently crying.
“I can't handle anything right now." She pushed back and finally met his eyes, red and puffy to match her own. "I feel so lost all the time. I'm not me without him here.” Spike nodded in understanding, pulling her in for another hug. His arms felt safe, strong and warm and for a brief moment she found solace in the darkness. “Is there something wrong with me?” She choked out the words, pulling back again.
Spike tucked the stray hairs that had fallen across her face behind her ears and motioned for them to go inside. There were better and more comfortable places to have this conversation then on her front porch.
“There's nothing wrong with you, luv.” Spike took the small bag from her hands that she held and placed it on the hutch near the door after closing it. He stepped closer to her, lifting her chin so that her eyes locked with his. “You don't need to change a thing. This pain you're feeling right now; be it all consuming, will pass. It is a part of the grieving process, but I can assure you luv,” He stroked her cheek and smiled sadly. “For sure as winter turns to spring, the bitter seasons of your life will not endure. You will learn to smile and laugh again.”
Buffy couldn't take the intensity of his eyes and the conviction of his words, a few tears slipping from her eyes as she turned away.
"How am I supposed to go on without him?”
“Please don't turn away, Buffy.” He stepped forward again and reached for her hand.
“It scares me,” she turned around to face him. “you scare me. You've always known just what to say and there are times when just being near you makes everything better. We don't even need to talk sometimes and I feel that just for a little while that numb feeling goes away. You make me want to feel again, but I don't know if I can.”
“Do you know?" For a bewildered moment his inner William shone through with nerves at the thought of Buffy having known of his affections towards her all along. Was their friendship ever anything more than just being her brother's best friend?
“You were his best friend and I feel like I'm betraying his memory. You-”
"How can you say that? How long have you known?"
"I need to hear you say it." Her face was a mess with tears streaking down her face, makeup running. "Please." It was a tear-filled plea of desperation.
Spike took a step closer, cupping her cheek as she stared at him with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
“It's always been you.”
"Please." Her tiny hand clutched onto the material of his shirt, silently wishing for him to take all her pain away.
“Don't you know I've always loved you?” He lowered his head to kiss her gently on the lips. "It's always been you." Another kiss was laid, but this one on her wet cheek. “Whenever you need me.” He kissed the other cheek. “Whenever you call. I'm here, pet.” He pulled back and wiped the tears from her face.
Buffy was openly crying as he bent to kissed her one more time.
“I'll always be by your side." This kiss was longer, lingering on her lips for a few moments before pulling away.
Buffy couldn’t fight off her feelings anymore and hesitantly brought her head up to meet Spike’s lips in a tender kiss. This time, when he came to wrap his arms around her waist she didn’t step back or evade his arm, but rather welcomed it, stepping closer and not wanting the comfort and warmth that he offered to leave.
“Please,” she met his eyes. “Will you just hold me tonight?”
Spike took a few moments to nod his response, silently following Buffy up the stairs and down a hallway he had walked a million times into her room. They didn't need to speak, both content to be in the moment and knowing that they were there for one another. The weeks ahead would be trialing ones. Where did they go from here? He slipped his boots off and laid down on her bed opening his arms and smiling when she laid down and snuggled into his side. He had finally confessed to Buffy Summers that he was in love with her and she had known. A part of him wasn't surprised, Angel and Buffy seldom had any secrets between them.
Her eyes closed when he began idly running his fingers through her hair, a soft peaceful look forming on her face as her breathing evened out and she drifted off to sleep. For the first time in weeks Buffy felt solace. Here, in the dark of her room, wrapped in the arms of her brothers best friend, she found comfort. Safe and protected within his embrace and knowing that he would be there when she woke up.
She was not alone in her grief anymore and as if to confirm her thoughts Spike kissed her forehead gently, wrapping his arms tightly around her before closing his own eyes and drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
She was loved.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.