Summary: Spike wrote a letter to Buffy before the final battle in Not Fade Away. What happens when Buffy finally discovers Spike is back from the great beyond?
Genre: Romance, Angst
Chapter Rating: R for Violence, Blood and Adult Situations
Warnings: Spoilers for the end of Angel Season 5, After the Fall and up through Issue #23 of Buffy Season 8.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Just playing for fun.
A/N: Special thanks to sueworld2003 for the beautiful banner. Still flying unbeta'd so all mistakes are mine - anyone interested in giving it a go would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to message me.
Comics Background Info: This story loosely follows the comics canon but reading the comics is not necessary to understanding the emotional heart of the story. A few points to note:
1) Buffy was never in Rome as shown in The Girl in Question, but rather leading a new Slayer organization of over 500 members in the fight against evil. The "Buffy" that Angel and Spike tried to visit in Rome was actually a decoy set-up by Andrew to protect the real Buffy and keep her true location a secret.
2) Out of the 1800 Slayers that were activated during Chosen and the 500 Slayers that have chosen to work with Buffy, a group of Slayers led by one Slayer named Simone have gone rogue and have been abusing their power a la Faith in Season 3. Want. Take. Have. In Issue #23, Buffy and Andrew go to Rome to try to gain intel on Simone and her gang, only to be forced into a standoff on the island Simone has taken over off the coast of Italy. Andrew's squad of Slayers ("Italy squad" as he calls them) come to their rescue, but Buffy fails to rein in Simone or remove her from power. Simone's violent acts have brought intense scrutiny on the Slayers from the world's media coverage.
3) Angel survived the battle in Not Fade Away and the events of After the Fall, but now everyone in LA knows Angel exists and is a vampire just as they know about the demons that walk the streets. He's become a citywide legend.
4) Vampires are the cool new thing thanks to a reality TV show starring Harmony in LA (Buffy Season 8 #21). A Slayer saw Harmony and how she would feed off her adoring, sychophantic entourage and decided she needed to be stopped. She attacked Harmony while they were filming, failed and was killed by her own stake. The attack was used to make Slayers into the enemy and show vampires as sympathetic victims.
Careful hands rifled through his pockets and woke him. His shoulders ached, his wrists sore as they pulled against cold iron. The clink of metal opened his eyes and he saw his lighter, switchblade and lock pick dropped onto a tray in the corner of the room. Spike blinked at the assortment of blades laid out on the tray next to his confiscated possessions. His head lolled forward to get a closer look, squinting at the back of the short, balding man dressed in a dark suit and black leather shoes.
The room was square with three walls of stone and the fourth wall made of iron bars and a cell door. The man in the suit picked up a scalpel and tested the sharpness of the tip with his index finger before returning it to the tray. Spike watched him reach for the small mallet next and swing it in the air, testing its balance and weight before setting it down. The man continued to methodically test each instrument before picking up the leather case sitting at his feet. He left the room without a backwards glance, carefully locking the cell door behind him.
Spike looked up at the shackles around his wrists that led to chains bolted into the ceiling. He tightened the muscles in his arms and shoulders and jerked violently. The chains rattled and he began to swing forward only to be pulled back as metal bit into his ankles. He looked down past his bare chest to find matching shackles bolted to the stone floor. He raised his eyes towards the ceiling. “Oh, balls.”
“Mmmphm,” Connor grunted to his left, hanging from his own pair of chains in an identical pose.
Spike set himself swinging in Connor’s direction, banging into the boy’s shoulder. “Oi! Wake up, Junior. No time for a little shut eye.”
Connor moaned. Spike gripped the chains with his hands, rocking back and forth til he gathered enough momentum to forcefully crash into Connor and send him spinning as far as the chains would allow.
“Ah!” Connor’s bloodshot eyes wrenched open and he glared at Spike as he continued to spin in the air. “What the hell? Where are we?”
Connor looked around the room before staring at Spike in confusion. “Why?”
“’Cause they’re gonna torture us.”
Connor managed to glare and roll his eyes at the same time. “But why us? And who?”
“The Immortal. Who else?” Spike shook his head in disgust. “I hate Rome. This always happens to me here.” He shrugged his head dismissively. “Except that one time in the 50’s.”
“Oh god, kill me now.”
“Not gonna be that bad, kid. I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes than this. Just keep your head about you and we’ll be fine.”
“No, really. Kill me now. I can’t take this.”
Spike gripped the chains and pulled himself closer to Connor. “None of that, you hear. We’re gonna make it through this. And then I’m gonna rip out that rat bastard Immortal’s spine and beat him with it til he begs for mercy. Not that he’ll get any mercy. Just want to hear him beg.”
Connor moaned in pain, eyes closed. His face began to turn green and before Spike could even think to lean back Connor wretched all over the floor in front of him. “Oh god, kill me now. My head.” Connor moaned again.
“Ah, right. Guess I forgot to warn you about the morning after, eh? Got a bad hangover, I expect.”
Connor glared at him through one squinted eye. “You forgot to warn me?”
Spike shrugged. “Nothing to be done about it. Just gotta man up and soldier through. It’ll pass in no time…well, maybe a few hours. Though could be longer considering how much you drank. Too bad you didn’t inherit your dad’s vampire constitution. I feel just fine.”
“I can’t decide what I want more – them to kill me first or you. I think you. Yeah, definitely you.” Connor gulped heavily apparently resisting the urge to vomit again. “No, me. Me first. Oh god.”
“If wishes were horses…” Spike murmured. He tested the chains again, closing his eyes to concentrate before giving one great heave. The chains shook violently against the bolts in the ceiling that failed to acknowledge the pressure. Spike tried again and again without success, pulling so hard that the shackles cut into the flesh of his wrists and began to bleed. “Damn.”
“This trip sucks.”
Spike remembered the look in Buffy’s eyes as she told him to leave last night. “Yeah,” he answered, glancing at Connor hanging limply from the chains, face green, skinny chest bare and sweating.
“It pains me to hear you find my hospitality wanting, gentlemen.” The Immortal stood at the cell door, waiting as his servant-torturer in the black suit opened it for him. Spike sneered as he looked at the bastard’s red silk shirt and designer black trousers, his black hair perfectly coiffed and pulled back by a leather thong. Poofter.
“Knew you were evil, you rotten bastard.”
The Immortal raised an eyebrow. “Good and evil. They are just words to show a different perspective. Opposite sides of a coin. I am above this. I see all sides. This epic battle for supremacy over the world – good and evil will destroy each other in the end and who will be left to rule? Me. The only one still standing.”
Spike clenched his jaw. “What’d you do to her? Buffy. She’s under a spell, isn’t she? There’s no way she’d be with you if she knew the truth. No way she could be near you and not know the truth. What the hell did you do to her?”
The Immortal chuckled. “No, no spell. At least, not of my own design. I do not abide magicks. I need no dirty tricks to have my will done. I’ve done nothing to her but offer my company.” He raised a hand to rest across his heart. “And that is all that is needed.” He then touched his temple. “That and a little persuasion. A little romance. I gave her what she most desired, the belief that she is desired and needed. That she is special to one such as me. And that is a great gift.”
“Is making us listen to your douchebaggery part of the torture routine? Or is this just a bonus?” Connor snarked, his head hanging off to the side as he shakily lifted himself up by his chains.
Spike grinned, pressing his tongue up against the back of his teeth. His grin fell into a snarl when Mr. Powersuit stepped forward and punched Connor in the temple. “Leave him!” Spike looked at the Immortal. “You want me, not him. So have at it,” he challenged, eyes sparking insolence.
“What makes you think I have to choose? Are you not both here?” The Immortal glanced at his servant who was examining the torture instruments behind him. “My servants have little tolerance for disrespect. They demand the proper respect be given me as their lord. But I can see you are eager for the torture to begin. This is why you have forgotten all pleasantries, no?” The Immortal stepped back to stare at Spike and Connor measuringly, arms crossed over his chest. “Start with the boy,” he ordered, black eyes cool and unmoved.
Spike caught the faintest smile on the torturer’s face as he stepped forward, a pair of pliers gripped in his right hand. “No! Start with me. Leave the boy out of this, you sodding bastard!”
The Immortal smiled and nodded at his servant. “No, I think not. Besides, this way I can torture you both at once.”
A low growl began to rumble deep in Spike’s chest and he gripped the chains so tightly that his bones began to ache. As the silent torturer walked past Spike, Spike vamped out and leapt forward to snap his jaws, neatly missing the man’s neck by an inch. The torturer barely flinched, pausing only to look at Spike before coldly continuing forward and forcing Connor’s mouth open.
“Get off me!” Connor struggled and bit the man’s hand, pulling his head back defiantly as the torturer gripped his jaw firmly and forced it open.
“He likes to start with the molars and work his way forward.” The Immortal shrugged. “Personally, I find it all a bit gruesome, but the old ways are often best if a bit archaic.”
“What do you want?” Spike snarled. “It’s not enough to kill us, is it? Just get it over wi- pflah,” Spike spat out the piece of paper that magically appeared in his mouth and looked down to see an envelope fall and land at his feet. “What the…?”
The Immortal snapped his fingers and the torturer released Connor immediately, stepping forward to pick up the envelope and deliver it into the Immortal’s outstretched hand. Spike returned the Immortal’s curious gaze then watched, riveted, as the envelope was opened and a letter pulled out. The Immortal began to smile as he read, the small curve of lips growing into a delighted grin. Finished, he refolded the letter and stepped forward to stand a few feet from Spike, holding the letter out in front of Spike’s face. “It’s for you,” he taunted. “Don’t you want to know who it’s from?”
Spike swallowed roughly, eyes unable to look away from the folded piece of paper. A strange ringing began to buzz in his ears and shoot down his spine as he looked at the letter. “Give it to me,” he demanded, his voice low and shaking. Give it to me give it to me give it to me.
“Hmm.” The Immortal waved the letter in front Spike’s face, making Spike’s eyes jerk back and forth as he followed its progress like a cat watching the birds fly outside through a window. “Oh my, this is quite a surprise,” he laughed. The Immortal lifted the letter high above his head then down below his waist, Spike’s gaze obediently following every turn. “Haha, normally I eschew magic. But sometimes it turns out to be very amusing. Do you want this, William?”
“Yes,” Spike said hoarsely, his entire body straining forward as he stared unblinkingly at the letter.
The Immortal tapped the letter against his chin for a minute before turning and picking up Spike’s lighter off the tray behind him. He lit the flame and held the letter above it. “It would be shame for you to never read this. I imagine not knowing what it says would make the last moments of your pathetic existence truly excruciating.” Spike groaned as the letter was slowly lowered, the flames licking at the bottom corner and turning the paper black. The Immortal quickly closed the lighter shut and blew at the letter, shaking away the charred bits. “No, that would be too quick.” He tapped the letter against Spike’s cheek and Spike leaned towards the letter, mouth open. “Vampires have good vision, no? I’ve always wondered just how good it really is.” The Immortal stepped back a few paces and laid the letter down on the ground, open and facing Spike. “Can you read that?”
Spike strained his body forward, stretching his neck as he tried to read the words on the page. “Move it closer. Closer, please.”
The Immortal smiled. “I think that’s close enough. Alphonse?” The torturer placed the pliers back on the tray and moved quickly to open the door, stepping aside as the Immortal walked through it. “I would stay and watch you suffer, but I have a very busy schedule. You understand and will accept my apologies, won’t you?”
The sound of feet climbing stairs echoed into the torture room, but Spike barely noticed. His vamped yellow eyes squinted as he tried to read the letter on the ground, his entire body fighting to get closer.
“Spike? What’s wrong with you? Spike?” Connor’s raised voice barely pierced the resounding drumming in his head. Read it read it read it now now now now now NOW.
Spike began to growl like a wild animal, fighting against the shackles holding his arms prisoner. He gripped the chains, pulling himself up as his teeth began to gnaw at the metal. Finding no purchase, he began to bite his own wrists like a wolf caught in a trap, desperate to free himself even if it meant losing an arm or a leg. His fangs met the bone of his right wrist and he braced himself for the final crunch, only to notice that his hands began to slip in the shackles from the blood now covering his wrists. Removing his teeth, he began to pull down hard, trying to slip his hands through the shackles’ opening. He squeezed his thumbs into his palms and gave one violent pull, grunting at the flash of pain as bones fractured and he fell to the stone floor.
“Jesus, Spike. You okay? Spike?” Connor’s concern buzzed in his ears, but he couldn’t answer.
Spike lay on the ground panting for a moment before he crawled forward as far as the shackles on his ankles would allow, stretching to reach the letter, metal biting into his Achilles tendons. A desperate finger touched the nearest corner of paper and he pulled the letter to him, careful not to smear his blood over the words as he lifted the page with his broken hands. His eyes pored over the lines, barely registering their meaning as he consumed the letter. After finishing the last line, he slumped to the ground, shaking. The strange compulsion passed and he looked at the letter again, reading it slowly.
We always do this. Why do we always do this? How is it possible for us to understand each other with a look and then talk right past each other? Words. I hate words sometimes. Because words lie in ways eyes don’t. Eyes can’t. Or touch. Feeling doesn’t lie. Hearts don’t lie. Deep down. I wish – no, scratch that. No wishing. But I want so badly to be able to tell you how I feel. Because I think somehow you don’t understand. Well, obviously you don’t. It’s probably my fault. I’m not exactly an open book, am I? I guess I forgot how to show how I feel. But I thought you knew how to read me. Maybe you forgot, too. So I’m going to try to tell you. Here we go -
I love knowing you’re standing right beside me even without looking. I love the way you smile at me before you say hello. I love the way you say my name like it’s beautiful and not silly. I love the way you look at me. I love the way you roll your eyes when you find something stupid (even when it’s at me). I love your left hook – sometimes when I’m training I even try to move like you. I love it when you’re being annoying. When did I start to love you being annoying?
I love arguing with you (because it’s not really arguing). I love when you understand what I need without me saying anything. I love how you’re always willing to give me what I need. I love your hands and how they fit mine. I love how my skin tingles when I’m around you. I love how I’m never bored when I’m with you. I love how alive I feel when I’m with you. I love how much I feel when I’m with you. I love your lips. I love kissing you. I love how you make me ramble like right now.
I love how I know you, how you let me know you inside. I love how you know me, how you understand me and still love me. All of me. Somehow you always find me, the parts I don’t want anyone to see. How do you see me?
I love how it’s okay to cry in front of you. That you’ll still believe in me if I cry. That I can still be strong with you while being weak. I love how when I’m with you, I’m not alone anymore. God, I think I love everything about you. Everything except that right now you don’t believe in me. In us. But it’s my turn to fix this, right? To fix us.
I love you.
P.S. How did I do? Do you believe me now?
Spike read the letter a third time, imagining Buffy’s forehead crinkled in concentration as she wrote to him. On the fourth read he counted how many times she’d written the word ‘love’. Twenty-five times. No, wait, twenty-six times.
“Spike? Spike? Spike!” Connor’s yell finally caught his attention and he looked up. “You okay? Your hands. Damn, man. Your hands are busted.”
Spike looked down at the mangled flesh of his wrists and the broken digits of his thumbs, grimacing before looking at the letter in his hand. He smiled through the pain as he tightly gripped the paper. “Was worth it.”