[identity profile] eee1313.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dancing_lessons_archive
Rage, Rage...

By adjrun
Summary: Immediately following Lesson the First: Stages of Grief. Left alone in the cemetery, Spike reacts to the news of Joyce's death.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.


*
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

--Dylan Thomas

***
The moonlight reflected in Spike’s eyes as they subtly shifted focus, watching two figures fade into the shadows of the trees that edged the graveyard. But for this, Spike was motionless. No minute redistributions of weight from one foot to the other, no slight adjustments of posture, no blinking. No breath. It was a preternatural stillness, wrong in a creature as capable of violent, chaotic motion as was Spike.

Something in his nature seemed to recognize this. His hands spasmed into fists, then relaxed somewhat. Still, Spike continued to stare off into the distance, to where he could now only imagine the forms of Willow and Xander to be.

Joyce…

Spike erupted into motion. He pivoted sharply on one foot, his duster flaring out in an arc behind him. Now embodying movement as flawlessly as he had previously embodied stillness, Spike paced off into the night. He moved with a swift, predatory grace, the fluidity of his gait belying its speed. He had no destination in mind, just an urgent need to get away from the spot where Xander told him --

Joyce was dead.

Other women had screamed at his presence, had whimpered in abject terror, had offered their children’s necks in exchange for a few more moments of existence. But Joyce, like Buffy, had never shown any fear of him. Fear for her children, yes; rage, and bewilderment, as well. But for some inexplicable reason, she had no fear of him. Even pre-chip, when she was little more to him than a talking juice box, she treated him as a rascal. As a rascally boy for whom she felt amusement, forbearance, perhaps even something maternal.

Spike’s thoughts were drawn uncontrollably to a memory of Joyce. It was a precious thing, this memory - he liked to ponder it, experiencing each moment anew, savoring each passing second. The setting was banal: the Summers’ kitchen. Joyce was making dinner, cutting up salad fixings; Dawn was leaning against the island, telling her mom about her day at school. Spike could’ve waited outside for Buffy, or he could’ve sauntered into the house as he usually did. But this time, he knocked at the kitchen door. Joyce opened the door and immediately welcomed him in, not even asking what he wanted. Dawn looked up. At the sight of Spike, her eyes widened and she ducked her head, as though even looking at him was something illicit. Spike smirked, and added a little extra swagger to his step as he asked Buffy’s whereabouts.

“Well, Spike, I don’t know.” Joyce went back to her cutting board. “But she said she’d be home before dinner.”

“I’ll wait then, shall I?” Spike hopped up to sit on the counter, fully expecting Joyce to shoo him off to a regular chair.

She just looked at him, head cocked a little to the right, eyebrow raised, a hint of a smile playing along the corners of her mouth. He could tell exactly what she was thinking:

“All right, Spike, just this once I’ll let you sit on the counter. But don’t think you’re getting away with anything.”

And when he banged his heels against the front of the cabinets, Joyce instantly called him on it.

“Spike! Unless you want to spend the time cleaning black scuff marks off my cabinets, knock it off!”

Spike grinned wickedly at her in response, but he stopped. And he had to bite back an instinctive “Yes, ma’am”, which would’ve wreaked havoc with the image.

So he sat there, on the Summers’ counter, watching. Dawn played down the good grade on a recent test, but couldn’t hide her delight in the victory. Joyce nattered on about some work nonsense: vases or statues, or some such. The content wasn’t important, was actually rather boring. It was the atmosphere itself that was intoxicating. He reveled in the normalcy of the moment. It was the closest he had come to the comfortable intimacy of real family since that night in the alley. It was the closest he would ever come. And now, with Joyce gone, it was forever lost to him. The sweetness of that encounter, never again attainable.

Spike suddenly noticed that he had no idea where he was going, and was paying no attention to his surroundings. In the instant before he broke his stride, something slammed hard into his legs, as though he’d been tackled at the knees. Before he could get his hands up to block his fall, his face smacked into the turf. Dazed, Spike slowly pushed himself up on all fours. Then came the abrupt realization that he had been attacked. In a flash, he leapt to his feet. Game face. Fists clenched. Ready for battle. Snarling, Spike scanned the area for his attacker.

Great. He’d gone ass-over-teakettle colliding with a sodding tombstone.

Spike shook his head, and ruefully chuckled. Good one, that. At least he’d made a complete boob of himself without any spectators. He shook off his vamp face and grimaced, sitting back down on the grass. He could taste dirt in his mouth, so he spit quickly, twice. Then he stuck out his tongue, and pulled off a few errant blades of grass. Leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees, he took a second look at his adversary.

“Well, Catherine Oliver, nice to meet you. Born 1926, were you? Good year, that. Made an appearance at some real blowouts, people who really knew how to throw a party. Died 1987, not bad. Though that year was particularly unexciting, save a massacre or two in Scandinavia. Blessed, so on and so forth, beloved, wife and -“

Mother.

With a howl of frustration, he punched the granite slab. The force of the impact shuddered up his arm. Spike waited a moment for his knuckles to begin throbbing. When the pain started, he grinned. He liked pain. It was logical, quantifiable. The reaction to an action. He understood physical pain. It was this emotional stuff that was the killer.

He lashed out again, his fist slamming into the tombstone a mere inch from its edge. A flake of stone broke off and flew a few feet away. Spike’s eyes followed the piece of stone until it landed in the grass, and then focused once more on the tombstone. He ran his thumb over the newly rough spot, and grinned. It was his feral grin, the one he wore when engaged in senseless, orgiastic violence.

Slowly, he pushed himself to his feet. He set his feet far apart, his weight on the back foot. Then he swung forward and kicked the tombstone with all his might, using all his weight, his momentum, his anger. Then again, and again, he furiously kicked the granite until finally, it cracked. The top half of the stone toppled over, leaving a rough trapezoid of stone jutting out of the ground.

Spike threw his head back and screamed. Then he really got to work, losing himself in the clarity of rage. He kicked at the stump of tombstone, and pounded it with his fists. He slammed the heel of his boot down into cracks. He lifted the top half of the broken slab high above his head, and then smashed it over another tombstone. He broke pieces of rock into chunks, and chunks into rubble.

Gradually, Spike regained control. He was covered in dust, and standing in a pile of rubble. A few jagged pieces of stone stuck out of the ground, all that remained to mark the passing of a loved one. The tombstone itself was in hundreds of pieces, none larger than Spike’s fist. The debris was concentrated around the tombstone, but some had been flung off into the distance, out of sight.

Looking at the wreckage he created, Spike let out a sound equal parts laugh and sob.

“Pretty bleedin’ obvious symbolism there.”

Spike’s hands were bloody and raw. He’d split the knuckle on his middle finger down to the bone, and a rivulet of blood was tracing its way down the back of his hand. He couldn’t close his right hand all the way, and had very probably smashed one of the small bones in his wrist.

He felt much better.

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