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11 June 2009 @ 09:09 pm
All Goes Onward and Outward (1/7)  
Title: All Goes Onward and Outward
Chapter: 1. I Have Only What I Remember
Author: whichclothes
Fandom: BtVS/AtS
Pairing (if any): Spike/Angel
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: This fic has 7 chapters, which I'll be posting over the next few days. It was based on the following prompt from maharet83, a lyric from Leonard Cohen's song, The Law:
Now the deal has been dirty
Since dirty began
I'm not asking for mercy
Not from the man
You just don't ask for mercy
While you're still on the stand
There's a Law, there's an Arm, there's a Hand
I don't claim to be guilty
Guilty's too grand

 

Thank you to faketoysoldierfor the wonderful banners!
I always really appreciate feedback. :-)



Onward and Outward banner by faketoysoldier


 
All goes onward and outward...and nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposes, and luckier --Walt Whitman, A child said, What is the grass?


Chapter One

I Have Only What I Remember

 

I have only what I remember.

---W.S. Merwin, A Likeness

 

 

Trailing warm hands slowly over his skin, his lovers called him flawless, and he knew it was a lie.

Nearly thirty years of living had marked him: a small burn on his left forearm from when his nurse let him wander too close to the fire, a whitish spot on one knee after he ignored his mum’s warnings not to pick at a scab, a straight line on a thigh from a careless moment with a penknife.

Even death had left its scars: two tiny points on his neck, a V on one brow from a Slayer long gone, two parallel tracks across his chest from the dragon that killed his grandsire.

The inner flaws were even worse. Thousands of screams, each one as unique in its terror as a fingerprint. The faces of those he had loved, dead or dusted. Knowledge of the many times he could have been faster or stronger or smarter.

He didn’t mind the scars, though. They were all he had; them, and his memories. And memories are fragile, inconstant things, prone to fading and revision even in human lifespans.

So much more so, after three centuries.

He shifted slightly on the cold, smooth floor, pulling his legs closer against his chest. Today—or was it tonight? No way to tell—he would think of Dru. He touched his sensitive fingertips against the minute bumps on his neck and remembered her, dark and lovely, naming the stars.

 

The soldiers came again, and they were like soldiers always were, no matter the time or place. Young and brash and hiding their fear under a thick layer of bravado and aggression. They tossed him some loose, colorless trousers and watched as he wearily pulled them on. He wasn’t permitted clothing in the cell; they didn’t bother to tell him why. The trousers were a little long on him and the cuffs dragged slightly on the floor.

He stood compliantly as they locked a chain around his waist and then, slightly roughly, cuffed his wrists to it. He didn’t move as they attached a second set of irons around his ankles. And when they pushed him down the hallway he shuffled wordlessly, his head bowed, his face a blank.

They kept the chains on him, even as they locked him in a cage like an animal. The courtroom had buzzed noisily as he was ushered in, but now there was an expectant hush, and a hundred pairs of eyes and the lenses of the several hovering cameras stared at him blankly. Perhaps they expected him to growl and roar, to shift to his other face and drip blood from his fangs. Likely they hoped he would. He didn’t. Mostly, he looked at his own feet, which were filthy, and wished he were allowed to bathe. His head itched, but he couldn’t reach up his hands to scratch it.

A door opened and a thin man in uniform came through. “All rise for the Honorable Judge Delgadillo!” he called, and everybody did. The judge entered in his black robe, his salt-and-pepper hair cropped short, his face solemn. He was slightly stout and looked to be in his mid-50’s. In an era in which only poor people had to show their age, this man had chosen to appear wise and authoritarian.

The judge sat, and so did the audience. He nodded at the clerk, a dark-skinned woman in a suit, who read from an electronic assistant. Her voice was deep and clear, like a trained singer’s. “Criminal action 4-63-008, People of the State of California versus William Pratt, vampire.” The judge nodded again and the clerk sat as well.

Judge Delgadillo pressed at the screen before him. “All right,” he said. “Is counsel for the state present?”

“Yes, sir,” said a thin, pretty blonde. “I’m Assistant State Attorney Paula Paquette.”

“And counsel for the defense?”

“Frederick Manion here,” replied a mousy-looking man with a harried look on his face. Spike was startled. He hadn’t realized he’d been given an attorney. Certainly hadn’t spoken with the bloke.

The jury was sworn in, a dozen men and women who stared at him with curiosity and loathing. At least they looked at him, though. Neither the judge nor the lawyers had even glanced his way.

Everyone waited impatiently while the lawyers approached the bench and, out of the hearing of the jury, took care of some preliminary matters. A vampire could hear them, though, and he did, but he paid little attention, instead leaning against the bars of the cage and looking out of the corner of his eye at a young man in the front row. The man reminded him of someone, and he was trying to put his finger on whom it was when the prosecutor began to address the jury.

“Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen. That looks like a person in there, a small, not very threatening man.” She waved her arm theatrically at him. “That is an illusion. What you see before you is an abomination, a ruthless, savage killer. That demon has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”

She paced a bit closer to the jury box, dropping her voice. She was good, he thought. Very dramatic. “If we were to present all the evidence against this monster, we would all die of old age before this trial ever ended. So we will focus on only a few cases, ladies and gentlemen. But I assure you that the evidence we will present to you will be more than sufficient to demonstrate this creature’s depravity, the enormity of its crimes against humanity.”

He bristled a bit at the pronoun she chose. Almost all of what she had said had been accurate, but he wasn’t a thing. He didn’t bother arguing, though. Wouldn’t have done any good, and besides, his keepers had warned him that if he spoke out of turn he’d be gagged again, as he had been during his arraignment.

“The first case we will present to you today is the brutal killing of this girl.” An image appeared on screens over the judge’s head and on the wall opposite the jury. It was two dimensional; three dimensional imaging wasn’t yet in wide use when this photo was taken. It appeared to be a school photo, like the type that appeared in yearbooks. A headshot in front of a blank background. The girl was fresh-faced and pretty, her brown hair carefully curled in a style popular in the late 1970’s, her grin revealing shining braces on her teeth. He didn’t recognize her.

“This is Jennifer Marie Page. On the evening of May 2, 1979, she left her house in Sacramento to walk to her friend Stephanie’s house, only three blocks away. The girls planned to work on a history project together. Jennifer never arrived at Stephanie’s house. Instead, she was found the next morning. This is what she looked like when she was found.”

A new photo appeared next to the first one, and everyone gasped. The girl in this picture was sprawled in an alley, bits of rubbish under and around her. She was on her back and her eyes were staring sightlessly upward. Her skin was almost the same bluish-grey as her jeans. Her t-shirt had been pushed up, and there were several small holes visible in her midriff. Her neck was a raw and macerated mess.

It was a sloppy job. Looked like something a desperate fledge would do. But it wasn’t impossible that he had been responsible. Perhaps he had been especially hungry that night, or in the mood to play with his food. He couldn’t recall. It was so long ago.

“Jennifer was fifteen years old. She had a B-plus average, she played the flute in the school band, and she wanted to be a veterinarian. She had a younger brother.” All of this was accompanied by more snapshots of the girl in a red and white uniform, her instrument clutched in her hand; on a lawn, playing with a shaggy black dog; at an amusement park, holding the hand of a small boy.

Then a series of gruesome photos flashed slowly across the screen. Autopsy pictures. “The coroner concluded that Jennifer was stabbed several times with a barbeque fork, and that her throat was ripped out by some kind of animal. Ladies and gentlemen, we all know what that means.”

The jurors nodded.

“On May 2, 1979, several credible sources placed the defendant in Sacramento. Its lair was less than half a mile from Jennifer’s house.”

He remembered staying briefly in Sacramento then, en route to San Francisco, where he and Dru planned to hop a freighter bound for China. Their “lair” had actually been quite a nice house, with a thick shag carpet that Dru had liked to roll about in. Dru had managed to get an invite into the place, allowing the bloke who lived there to pick her up at a bar, and then agreeing to go home with him. Spike had watched from the shadows, seething, as the man had pawed her while they walked up the drive. And then Dru had followed the man inside, and had drained him almost at once. The moment his heart beat its last, Spike was able to join her inside, reveling in the way the stolen blood pinked up his Princess’s cheeks.

He realized Paquette had been speaking for some time, showing the jury excerpts from Watchers’ Diaries that placed him near the scene of the crime. Then she paused, and, for the first time, actually looked at him.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Look at it. It shows no remorse for these hideous acts.”

That was true, as well. How could he have remorse for an act a century and a half past, an act he didn’t recollect at all now? Not that he didn’t regret his atrocities in a general sense, because he did. They still haunted his dreams. But he didn’t wear that regret on his face like a branding mark, and brooding had never been his style.

The jurors scowled at him and he merely looked blandly back at them.

There was more after that. Some of the faces were familiar, and some were not. Paquette showed only attractive victims, not the homeless people and drifters and whores who’d made up most of Spike’s diet. More juror sympathy that way, plus, after all these years it would have been difficult to find photos of the nameless forgotten who’d haunted the back streets and seedy motels where he once hunted.

After a while he grew tired and he folded gracefully onto the floor, his legs bent awkwardly beneath him. The judge frowned and the prosecutor made some comment about the fiend lounging about, but he ignored them and picked at the fraying threads of his trousers.

It was nearly noon when the judge adjourned for lunch. Everyone filed out of the courtroom except two of the soldiers. They sat near him, chatting quietly to each other, their hands hovering near the butts of their weapons every time he shifted slightly.

His stomach clenched angrily at him. They’d been underfeeding him and he didn’t know when he’d last eaten.

“Oi,” he called. “You planning to starve me? Thought you’d at least wait till the show’s over to do away with me.” His voice was raspy from disuse, and the soldiers looked shocked, as if they’d forgotten he could speak at all.

One of the soldiers, a short woman, made as if to draw her weapon, but the other put his hand out and stopped her. When he looked at Spike, his homely face was tinged with sympathy. “Sorry,” he said. “We’re not allowed to feed you now. Maybe after court adjourns this afternoon.”

“You shouldn’t talk to it!” the woman spat.

But her companion only shrugged. “Doesn’t hurt to be civil,” he said.

Spike smiled at the boy. “Thanks, mate.” He tipped his head back against the bars, closed his eyes, and allowed himself to slip into a light doze.

He woke when people began filing back into the room. The bailiff came over and demanded that he stand, and then the whole audience rose as well as Judge Delgadillo re-entered.

The afternoon was much like the morning, and the jurors seemed to wilt a bit under the monotony of death and mayhem. Not for the first time, Spike wondered why they bothered with the whole charade. It made good theater, perhaps, or perhaps the prosecutor was looking for publicity. It was better than sitting in his empty cell, at least, so he rather welcomed it.

He gazed surreptitiously at the humans, and suddenly he realized whom the one bloke reminded him of. Harris. Xander Harris. One of the Scoobies. Spike smiled to himself as he remembered the boy with the loud, baggy clothing and the runaway mouth. This man had the same floppy brown hair, the same slightly downturned lips. Spike remembered the time he and Harris had stolen a magic jacket from a football player, and he nearly laughed out loud.

He’d seen Harris one last time after Sunnydale. At Buffy’s funeral. Harris had been graying at the temples by then. He’d had a pretty woman at his side—a Slayer, Spike had sensed—and a couple of kiddies who looked just like him. Harris had looked shocked to see him, and then nodded stiffly. When the service was over, just before Spike slipped away, Harris had stalked up to him. A redhead was at his side. The witch, all grown up, the corners of her eyes beginning to wrinkle.

“Why are you here, Spike?” Harris demanded.

“Just paying my respects. I’ll go.”

He started to turn away, but Willow placed a hand on his forearm. “It’s okay. You can stay if you want.”

“No. I just…. I’ll go.”

She shifted her hand to his and squeezed. “Are you all right, Spike? Are you doing okay?”

“’M fine.” He let her kindness sink into him like sunshine.

“How did you….?” She waved her hand around vaguely.

“Sometimes I do some work for a Watcher in Barcelona. Decent sort. He rang and told me.”

She nodded. “I’m glad you could come, Spike.”

He inclined his head toward a blonde teenager with an eerily familiar look to her. The girl was teary-eyed, but her jaw was clenched determinedly. She was holding the hand of a dark-haired man in his late forties. “Hers?”

Willow smiled. “That’s Joy. She’ll be sixteen next month.”

“Slayer?”

“No.”

“Good.”

All three of them looked at Joy for a minute, remembering.

“Where’s the bit?” he’d finally asked.

“Oh, Dawnie’s in Peru, at a dig. She couldn’t get a flight out in time. Xan and I are going to go down there in a couple days, spend some time together. Um….” She paused and bit her lip. “Want to join us?”

To his surprise, Harris didn’t protest. His single eye was glittery with unshed tears.

“Nah. I have…a thing I have to do. But ta, love.”

They’d exchanged a few more words then, and then Willow had hugged him. He’d clutched tightly at her for a brief moment, enjoying the soft, warm feel of her, the scent of herbs and shampoo and cinnamon toast. Then Harris had stuck out his hand, and they shook, and Harris even grinned a bit at him.

And then Spike left.

He heard their news now and then over the years. He’d been in Mumbai when Xander died of a heart attack, his grandchildren at his side. He was in Lodz when breast cancer felled Willow. And he was back in LA when Dawn died in a car crash. He’d sobbed for hours over that, even though he hadn’t seen her in decades, even though his eyes had been dry since the battle at Wolfram and Hart.

Now, as Paquette droned on, he wondered if this young man might be a descendant of Harris’s.

At last, the judge slammed his gavel and adjourned for the day. Nobody looked at him as they left the courtroom, not even his own attorney. The jurors stretched and yawned and went home, no doubt to ignore the judge’s orders not to discuss the case. He expected quite a few family dinners would be enlivened tonight with tales of his exploits.

When the room had cleared, several soldiers came in. The woman who’d been with him all day unlocked the cage, and Spike stood and stretched a bit himself, hoping they planned to unlock the cuffs soon. As he was handed off to this new group of keepers, the one bloke said, “Hey. Can you guys make sure he gets fed? He hasn’t eaten all day.”

“It doesn’t eat, dope,” one of the new ones replied. “It drinks.”

“Whatever.”

Spike shot the man a thankful look as he was led away.

The soldiers didn’t talk as they walked down the long hallways, and waited in the lift, and then walked some more. When they came to his cell, they removed the cuffs and shackles and belly chain, then ordered him to take off his trousers. He did, and one of them snatched the clothing out of his hand. Another pushed some buttons on an electronic device, and Spike heard the small whoosh as the barrier to the cell disappeared. He was pushed roughly inside. Another whoosh and the barrier was replaced.

The soldiers went away.

Spike paced for a while because he felt slightly warmer that way, and because it felt good to have a few feet of freedom to move. The cell was three meters square, and he touched the smooth metal walls as he completed each circuit.

He wanted to scream and kick and snarl. He’d done plenty of all of those things when he was first brought here. But it did no good. Even when he’d split his skin and broken his bones pounding against the solidity that held him, there had been no satisfaction, no sense of relief. Just pain.

Finally, a lone soldier appeared. He pressed a few buttons, and the thin panel beside the barrier clicked open. The soldier fed a packet through the slot, and Spike was there to catch it before it hit the ground. He groaned in relief, vamped out, and ripped into the bag. The soldier watched through narrowed eyes as Spike guzzled the blood—cold and pig, but it was food, at least. When every drop was drained, Spike dutifully poked the empty container back through. The soldier took it, shut the slot, and marched away.

Spike cursed under his breath at himself as he walked to the far corner of the cell. He wished he could refuse the shite they fed him. He hated being a slave to his hunger in a way no human could ever understand. All these many years hadn’t much dulled the ache. His bloody soul didn’t stop the craving, and he wondered sometimes if he became ravenous enough, and the opportunity to sink his fangs into a living human arose, whether he would be able to withstand the terrible urge.

He sank to his side on the floor, curling tightly into himself. He closed his eyes. There was nothing to look at here, that he knew well. Three plain metal walls, and an invisible shield that shocked him to unconsciousness if he touched it. On the other side of it, a narrow corridor and another blank, shiny wall. Beneath him, a slick floor, as devoid as the walls of markings. And, three meters above, a plain ceiling, inset with a light of some kind that burned day and night.

Tenderly, he fingered the scar on his eyebrow. Tonight he would think about Slayers.

 

The next day was a close repeat of the first. As was the next. All told, the prosecutor droned on for the better part of two weeks, leaving the jurors weary and drawn. His own lawyer never said a word, either to Spike or to the judge. He just sat there, typing into his electronic assistant, peering at the photos with beady eyes.

One day, Paquette mentioned Drusilla, and the judge stopped her. “Wait a minute, counsel. This Drusilla you mentioned. Who was that?”

“Drusilla Bonham, Your Honor. A vampire. The one that made the defendant. Born, er….” She looked at her e.a. “Born 1840. Died 1860. They traveled together for years, inflicting horror on untold thousands, before it finally left the defendant in, umm, 2001.” Spike flinched. It was still painful. “Drusilla was with the defendant as it perpetrated most of these crimes, Your Honor.”

“Then why isn’t this Drusilla being prosecuted as a codefendant?”

If Spike could have lifted his hands to his ears, he would have, trying to block out the answer he knew was coming. “Drusilla was destroyed, sir, in 2048, by a Slayer in Cairo.”

“Very well. Continue, please, counsel.”

She’d been the last to go and, although he hadn’t seen her in nearly 50 years by then—had purposely avoided her, in fact—it had still felt like being seared by fire. A feeling he knew personally, and remembered well.

At last, Paquette turned off the projector for the final time. She put on a serious face, glared at Spike in his sodding cage, and then faced the judge. “Your Honor, the state rests.”

Judge Delgadillo allowed the jury to leave, informing them that they would begin again Monday morning.

The other attorney stood then, and, for the first time, spoke. “Your Honor, the defense moves to dismiss all charges.”

“On what basis, counsel?”

“Insufficient evidence, Your Honor.”

The spectators actually laughed at this, and even Manion seemed to have a smile quirking the corner of his lips. But the judge simply shook his head. “Motion denied. Court adjourned.”

The soldiers led him silently to his cell, as always. But this time, when they got there, they didn’t remove his chains. Instead, they tore the trousers from his body and then kicked and stomped viciously at the lower half of his body. When he vamped out and tried to fight back, he was hit with several electric jolts that sent paralyzing pain through him, not so different from what the chip used to do. They rolled him on his back and brought their heavy boots down on his shins and his thighs and his groin, until his throat was sore from yelling and he was retching in pain. Then, finally, they unfettered him and dragged him into the cell, and went away.

He wrapped himself in a miserable ball, waiting and waiting for healing blood.

When a soldier finally did arrive with a packet of red fluid, he had to drag himself across the floor, moaning quietly, to retrieve his meal. He drank it all, the soldier’s eyes aimed flatly at him.

Slowly, his battered flesh recovered. He’d still be bruised come Monday, he expected, but the marks would be covered by his trousers. Which was likely why the soldiers had kept their attack below the waist to begin with.

He crawled back to his corner, wishing that his body would warm the metal around him. Tonight he stroked the two gouges on his chest and he thought of Angel.

 

The defense’s case was shorter.

Manion had no photos to show the jury, but he did have a witness, an expert of some kind who spoke of demons and free will and irresistible impulses.

Spike could see the jury wasn’t buying it, and neither was he. Even without the soul, he could have withstood the urge to hunt and kill people. He could have preyed on animals instead, or even could have dined more carefully, taking just enough precious fluid from humans to keep them alive, and him undead. But he hadn’t. He’d wanted to murder and he’d enjoyed it. True, he would not have been nearly as deadly without the influence of Angelus, but still, he would have killed.

Spike shifted uncomfortably on the floor, wincing at the pressure on the contusions on his arse. He’d nearly sell his soul for some soft cushions.

The second day was more interesting. Now Manion spoke of redemption. It made Spike uncomfortable at first, too much of a reminder of his grandsire. But the lawyer didn’t notice or didn’t care. He still hadn’t actually spoken to Spike.

Manion presented Watcher’s diaries as evidence of the first time Spike had allied himself with Buffy, when he’d double-crossed Angelus and helped stop Acathla. Looking up at the slightly crabbed handwriting on the screen, Spike realized with a start that it must have been Giles’s.

He’d encountered Rupert several times over the years, in various places. One of those encounters took place in Chicago two or three years after Angel dusted and, much to their mutual surprise, ended in a rather spectacular shag in room 1036 of the Ritz-Carlton. They’d tumbled into bed together a few times after that as well, always after many ounces of Scotch, but never with any real regrets. Spike had sincerely mourned when a demon finally got the better of Ripper, somewhere not so far from his home in Bath.

Spike’s lawyer went on to discuss how Spike had fought at the Scoobies’ side. The prosecutor objected.

“Your Honor, this is immaterial. The defendant worked with the Slayer because it had no choice, because it was under the influence of a control chip that prohibited it from harming humans.”

He wanted to argue with the twat. Of course he had a choice. Yeah, at first he’d been pathetic and desperate, but once he’d adjusted, he could have managed without them. Of course, by then he was stuck on Buffy, but that was another issue altogether.

The judge overruled the motion.

The defense attorney then talked about how Spike had—quite willingly—fought for a soul. That brought a gasp from both the jurors and the audience, and for the first time they looked at him with something other than disgust and hatred. Spike sat up a bit straighter. The decision to go to Africa had been hasty and foolhardy, fueled by shame and love and anger in equal measures. Still, he’d battled hard, and won his prize, and weathered the storm of insanity that had followed. And he hadn’t become a brooding hulk, feeding off of rats.

Manion finally had some visual aids when he spoke of the final year of Sunnydale. There was more from Rupert’s diaries. Of how Spike had willingly allowed himself to be chained in Buffy’s basement to avoid being co-opted by The First. When that cramped squiggle revealed that the Watcher had plotted to eliminate Spike, and that Spike had nonetheless remained in Sunnydale, a few people even showed flashes of sympathy and perhaps even respect.

And then Manion brought up some photos of Sunnydale, and then of the crater that used to be Sunnydale, and told the jury that Spike had worn the necklace of a champion and allowed himself to burn to save the world. Spike recalled the agony again, but it had been a good pain in a way, pure and cleansing.

Spike tried not to listen when his attorney spoke of Wolfram and Hart. He tried not to picture the deaths of his comrades—of Charlie-boy, bleeding to death from a belly wound. Of Blue, screaming ancient obscenities as she was overcome by legions of demons. And especially not of Angel, still swinging away even as the dragon tore into him, even as Spike, badly hurt himself, tried to raise his own weapon in aid, even as the beast ripped off the vampire’s head and he exploded in a shower of dust. Spike could swear that even now, some of that dust coated his own lungs.

The courtroom was hushed now, and Manion turned out to be a captivating storyteller. Even after the devastating battle, he told the jury, Spike hadn’t given up. He’d contacted the Watchers Council and gathered allies, and, within a few years, was able to spearhead the campaign that dealt Wolfram and Hart a blow that still had them reeling. He didn’t say, because he didn’t know, that Spike had not done this willingly, but rather to keep his own personal demons at bay. As long as the law firm went unchecked, every dream was plagued with images of Fred and Angel and the others suffering, dying for nothing. He continued the fight mostly to shut those ghosts up. It hadn’t worked—the ghosts were still there—but at least they harangued him more gently.

For an entire additional day, Manion continued, relaying the highlights of Spike’s adventures over the last 150 years. The truth was, he had done much good. Was doing good, even, the night he was captured. He’d returned to California after a long absence, lured by reports of a nasty something that was creeping out of sewers and into people’s houses, gobbling their children, leaving only scraps of bones and hair behind. And he’d found the something, or rather, somethings, a nest of Lkarthont, and he’d wiped them out. But he’d been hurt in the process, his leg badly shattered. As he crawled out of the sewer, battered and filthy, he’d hoped to make it to shelter before dawn. He had a small flat nearby, actually.

Police officers had spied him, police officers who, like all of them today, had been briefed on the existence of monsters and demons. They’d recognized him for what he was, and zapped him with the bloody shock-sticks until they had him trussed like a turkey. They took him into custody, locked him in a special, vamp-proof cell, and asked him his name. When they looked it up on their e.a.s they’d whistled and whooped, convinced they’d nabbed a good bit of evil. Hadn’t listened to his protestations. Hadn’t even allowed him to contact the sodding Watchers Council, which might possibly have been willing to intercede on his behalf.

Instead, they’d chained him up again and brought him here, and taken his freedom and his clothes and his dignity, and then dragged him before the crowds and cameras like a hunting trophy, like a bleeding circus freak.

He was tired. So very tired.

 

Finally, the defense rested.

A day-long volley of motions and countermotions followed, with more evidence here and there, but Spike paid it no mind. He rested against the bars and watched the dust motes sparkle in the air, and he thought of nothing at all.

There were closing arguments.

Manion quietly, passionately, told the jury that, while Spike had indeed committed many wrongs, those wrongs were the result of his unwilling possession. That he couldn’t be blamed for them any more than you could blame a lion for killing an antelope. Moreover, the lawyer argued, those crimes were far in Spike’s past. For the past century and a half he had saved many more lives than he’d ever taken, had saved the world, at the expense of his own safety and even his own existence.

“This is no monster,” Manion concluded. “This is a man. A man victimized himself, forced to behave like a beast, and then a man who chose the right path. A man who has atoned for his wrongs and who deserves, if not our admiration and gratitude, at least our respect and forgiveness.” And for the first and only time, he met Spike’s eyes and he smiled warmly.

Paquette stalked in front of the jury box. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she said, “this creature may have done some good deeds. But not one of those good deeds brought a single victim back to life. It destroyed mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers. None of us will ever know the potential of those human lives it ended. Maybe one of these people would have created the vaccine that would have stopped the flu epidemic of ’75. Maybe one of them would have brokered a peace between Brazil and Argentina, avoiding the war that cost so many souls. Maybe one of them would have created masterpieces of art to rival daVinci’s, or literature to surpass Shakespeare.

“We’ll never know.

“And ladies and gentlemen, the defendant may have given up its violent ways, may even have felt bad for some of the inestimable harm it has caused. But if I rob a bank, will I get off the hook if I regret it the next day?

“And one more thing to keep in mind as you deliberate. The defendant has chosen to stop committing atrocities. Chosen of its own free will, the defense would have you believe. Fine. How do we know it won’t choose someday to start again?”

“Ladies and gentlemen, look long and hard at this creature, this demon in a human skin. Remember Jennifer Page, and the hundreds and hundreds of others, calling out from beyond the grave for justice. Only you have it in your power to ensure that justice is served.”

Judge Delgadillo had instructions for the jury then, and the bailiff escorted them away to deliberate. Court was adjourned. The judge left, and then the lawyers, without a backward glance at Spike. The soldiers came and took him back to his cell, took away the trousers, and left him there to wait.

There was no way to measure time in the cell. Spike wished for a cigarette. They’d been banned sixty years ago, but on the day he was captured, he was still carrying a battered silver lighter in his coat pocket. He wished for a bottle of JD. Several bottles, in fact. He wished for a soft, warm blanket to wrap around his chilled shoulders, to spread underneath him on the frigid floor. He wished for a hand to hold, a word of support, a small smile on the lips of someone who cared. He wished—

Oh, bloody hell.

What did it matter what he wished?

 

He was fed several times while he waited for the verdict. He wondered if it was a good sign that it was taking so long. He tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep nonstop, or to distract himself humming old songs, or to sit like a Buddhist monk and think of nothing.

When a clutch of soldiers appeared, their faces flushed and eager, he leapt to his feet. He pulled the trousers on eagerly, and nearly shoved himself into the usual shackles. He cursed the long corridors and the ankle chain that kept his steps short and slow.

At last they were in the courtroom again, and everybody was assembled save the jury. The perhaps-Harris-spawn was there, and the soldier who’d been almost courteous to him, and the prosecutor and the defense attorney. The judge banged his gavel, and a moment later, the bailiff escorted the jurors in. They appeared tired. Most of them barely glanced at Spike, and his dead heart clenched. It’s not that he feared the final death—not really—but he had hoped to go out in a blaze of glory (again!), perhaps with someone he loved at his side.

Judge Delgadillo turned slightly to address the jury. “Madame Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?”

A woman stood. She was short and her front teeth were prominent. Looked like she might teach Sunday School. Her voice quavered a bit as she said, “Yes, Your Honor.”

She handed a folded paper to the bailiff, who took it to the judge. The judge read it, poker-faced.

“In the matter of The People of the State of California versus William Pratt, vampire, number 4-63-008, the jury finds the defendant guilty on all counts.”

There was a muted roar in the courtroom. Spike was…completely unsurprised.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is this your true verdict?”

Twelve human voices said yes, it was.

Manion turned and looked at Spike, sorrow and regret clouding his face.

“Under the authority of Penal Code section 392.05, we will now proceed directly to sentencing, unless the defense objects.”

Manion raised an eyebrow at Spike, who shook his head. No use delaying the inevitable.

Manion turned to the judge. “No objection, Your Honor.”

Judge Delgadillo spent a few minutes frowning and fiddling with his e.a. Then he looked up. “The law grants me few options in this case. I could sentence the defendant to final death, and order that it be staked immediately.”

Spike caught the judge’s use of pronoun, and steeled himself. He was suddenly sure that something much worse than dusting awaited him.

“In view of the defendant’s extremely long and atrocious history, and the extreme heinousness of its offenses, however, final death is too kind a fate. While this court may be merciful, it is not foolish.”

Spike couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. What more could they do to him now? “I never asked for your mercy,” he said, his voice loud and steady. The audience collectively gasped. “Don’t want it. Never gave it to the people I killed, did I?”

He expected the bailiff or the soldiers to move forward, to try to silence him, but nobody did.

“I did all the things this bint said, and worse. I’ve seen horrors none of you can imagine. I’ve seen hell. But I’ve also done good, and nothing you said here can discount that. I’ve lost…everything.” Unconsciously, he fingered the scars on his chest. “Everything I ever had, gone and dust. I’m not a thing. I feel. I love, and I cry, and I ache deep inside. I was a man once. I reckon I’m a man still.”

There was dead silence in the courtroom. The judge regarded him for a long time, and then, slowly, nodded.

“All right,” Judge Delgadillo said. “It doesn’t change my decision, but all right. I will not sentence the defendant to final death, because I think that is less than he deserves.”

At the pronoun change, Spike stood a little straighter. At least he would face this as a person.

“Under the authority vested in me by Penal Code section 392.08, the defendant is sentenced to permanent solitary confinement. He will spend the remainder of his existence alone, pondering what he has done.”

The judge banged his gavel.

Spike’s knees felt weak and his stomach queasy. But he kept his head up and his eyes dry as the soldiers came and led him away.


Chapter Two





 
 
 
brutti_ma_buonibrutti_ma_buoni on June 12th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Ouch. I like the setup - especially the idea that someday long-lived vampires will have to pay for their crimes. Why would there be a statute of limitations on draining humans, after all? And the flashbacks to the Scoobies were sweetly sad.

Hate to think how Spike will cope with what comes next...
whichclotheswhichclothes on June 12th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
There is no statute of limitations for murder in many places, which would be bad for vamps! And subsequent good deeds wouldn't rid them of criminal responsibility, either.

Spike's going to have a rough time of it.

And I was reading your fic as you were commenting on mine. Nicely done!
(Deleted comment)
whichclotheswhichclothes on June 22nd, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!! I hope you enjoy the rest of the fic.
riccadonnariccadonna on June 24th, 2009 06:52 am (UTC)
This is terrible! So dire that I was almost relieved when I saw that it was ending...but I see now that there's more chapters to this story. I don't know if I'm glad about it, or scared.
whichclotheswhichclothes on June 24th, 2009 07:05 am (UTC)
Yes, there are 7 chapters, and most of them are pretty angsty. Here's my secret, though: I like happy endings .
Butterflysnogged on September 23rd, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
Wow...

I'm hooked on your every word.

It's a rare fic that does that for me anymore :)

Also...way to lawyer speak!
whichclotheswhichclothes on September 23rd, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so very glad you like this one.

And hee--see, those years of law school did me well. *g*