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Cold Welcome

A beautiful girl standing by a gravestone. Wonder how many times this very scene had played out because of him over the centuries? Spike had never thought about it before. Thanks to the soul, it was consuming him now. She was saying something softly, but even with his hearing, he couldn’t make out the words. Maybe he didn’t want to. Who knew?

Was that a rock she was putting on the headstone? Why… Oh, yeah. Jewish thing. He’d forgotten about that, what with all the Wiccan stuff she and the girl in the ground had always spouted. Guess some things never stopped mattering. Would the old hymns from his youth mean anything to him now?

He waited for her to turn. “Hey.” Meaningless and paltry sort of greeting, but he was surprised that she wasn’t startled to see him.

“I felt you there…you… you have a soul now.” Now that seemed to surprise her, which made sense.

“Yeah. Picked it up in Africa. Beats dysentery or any of those tacky dolls you get in the airport gift shops, I suppose.” It didn’t, really, but what the hell was he supposed to say?

“Did it hurt?”

“Yeah, but likely not as bad as you’re hurting.” Funny thing. He meant that.

“Guess you heard… about…”

“I heard.” No sense going into how Buffy had told him, the way she’d been so sure it wouldn’t matter to him at all. Truth was, he’d rather liked the chit and he was damn sorry she was dead. “Warren shot her.”

“He did.” There were tears in her eyes now and Spike went to her, pulling her into an awkward embrace.

Words seemed to fail him, but he supposed that was just as well. What was he supposed to say? ‘There, there now’? ‘It’ll be all right’? Because it wouldn’t be all right and no one knew that better than Spike. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, and he could feel her acceptance in the way she leaned into him, becoming soft and sad and pliant, giving him her grief.

After a while, her tears subsided and she let go of him, staring up at the sky. “We should go. I… I have to get up early tomorrow. I have to be at… it’s one of those pre-trial hearings.”

“I’ll walk you.”

“I’m… I’m back at the dorms now.”

“S’okay,” Spike answered. He took Tara’s hand and led her away.

The End.
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