Summary: Spike wrote a letter to Buffy before the final battle in Not Fade Away. Little did he know it was sent to the wrong person at the wrong place.
Characters/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, OC
Genre: Romance, Angst
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: This story loosely follows the comics canon. 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. 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.
Nearly One Year after Not Fade Away
Buffy fumbled with the key as she worked to open her hotel room’s door. As the lock clicked, she pushed her shoulder against the door and slipped inside. The snick of metal as it automatically closed behind her made her blink tiredly as she examined the sparse room in the fading light of the setting sun. Andrew was busy catching up with the Italy squad of Slayers and wouldn’t be ready to leave for Scotland till morning. She’d overheard some of the girls talking excitedly about a night out on the town.
Night out on the town. How long had it been since she’d went out to party? Her dancing shoes probably had molded over from disuse. Actually, last time she’d danced her shoes were charred Cajun-style from Sweet’s spell. Figures. She couldn’t even dance on her own time – it always had to be to someone else’s tune. Her shoulders shook as they reflexively hunched forward and she crossed her arms to hug her chest. Her trip to Rome had been all about business gone bad. She’d figured that things wouldn’t play out peachy and keen, but she hadn’t expected this. This feeling of failure. Again.
She trudged forward across the room to look out the window, the fading light casting warm orange and reddish tints on the shingled rooftops and stone encasements. The city felt old. It practically breathed, sighing with each wave of light that passed across its surface. She leaned against the window sill, staring aimlessly out as she watched the yellows and oranges give way to deeper reds and purples, soon to be enveloped by the creeping bluish blacks at the very edges of the sky. Darkness falling. Except it didn’t fall. It greedily ate away at all the bright colors till they retreated beneath the horizon. Running away.
Buffy turned to push her forehead against the window casing, squeezing her eyes shut as she listened to the transitioning silence of day giving way to night. People were hurrying home to rest only to go out again once the dusk-hour passed. Her eyes flew open to the jarring sound of a woman shrieking from the street below, her battle-ready reflexes relaxing as she saw a tall man with wavy, dark hair release the shrieking woman from his arms to twirl her in a circle with a firm grasp on her hand. The woman laughed as she spun back into him and he bent forward to kiss her.
Buffy’s mouth opened unconsciously as she watched the lovers’ feverish embrace in the middle of the strata. She leaned forward, unable to look away as the man tilted the woman back, cradling her head in his arms as he deepened his kiss. A ruckus of catcalls forced the lovers apart, laughing as they smiled up at each other. Buffy blinked and looked down, suddenly too embarrassed to watch anymore.
She swallowed tightly and blindly reached for the shutters, pulling them closed and blocking out the last bits of light in her room. Feeling her way, she bumped into the nightstand by her bedside before letting her knees give way and falling down on the mattress. She rolled to the side and pulled a pillow from beneath the headboard to hug against her chest. It was too early to go to sleep but that’s all she wanted to do now. Just close her eyes and forget. Forget about Simone and her rogue gang of slayers. Forget about the little girl who’d lost her home. The little girl who Buffy had promised to help. And failed. Sure, they’d all made it out alive. But that wasn’t enough. It was never enough these days.
An entire island full of people had been forced to abandon their homes. All because of a Slayer with a major jones for power. Taking the island was only the most recent transgression in the eyes of the world. Everyone was watching and judging. Slayers were evil. They were dangerous. They attacked innocent people and forced them to run in fear instead of protecting them. The world didn’t know about the Slayers who bled for them every night, who died in battle against the forces of darkness. They didn’t know about the silent heroes. All they saw was the abuse of power from the misguided few. She didn’t know where to begin or how to fix this mess. Andrew had suggested releasing footage of the slayers in action fighting evil, but Buffy had rejected the idea.
What I do is too important to show the world.
She still thought that was true. She knew it deep down inside. She wasn’t going to beg the public for a PR pardon when she was needed on the front lines, teaching the girls how to fight, showing them how to lead. There was so much they still hadn’t learned. She had to be there to make sure they –
A knock on the door cut off her train of thought. Buffy considered ignoring it. Andrew and the Italian squad were the only ones who knew where she was and she so didn’t want to deal with more Slayer business right now. Not when she was so tired. A minute passed and just as she began to hope that her visitor had left, a staccato of raps against the door forced her eyes open.
She sighed as she leaned across the bed to turn on the bedside lamp, rolling off the mattress to stand upright. Buffy shrugged her shoulders stiffly as she walked forward to answer the door, pausing by the vanity mirror to brush the hair back from her face. She absently touched the shadows beneath her eyes. Oh well, can’t make those disappear without some magic concealer. Where’s Will when you really need her? Turning back to face the door, she stopped with her hand on the doorknob. Breathing deeply as she composed her face into a neutral expression, Buffy straightened her shoulders. Game face on - check.
Buffy pulled the door open and blinked at the bright light pouring in from the hallway. A woman stood on the other side of the doorway, looking intent and nervous. She stepped back in surprise as if she hadn’t expected anyone to answer her knock. Buffy stared at the young woman quizzically, trying to remember a blond slayer with green eyes from Andrew’s squad. Her face looked strangely familiar but she couldn’t place her. Buffy waited for the woman to speak, but she just stood there staring right back at her.
Suddenly frustrated and too weary to try figuring out how she knew this girl, Buffy broke the awkward silence. “Yes? Can I help you?” Buffy’s eyebrows rose expectantly, inching even further up as the girl blinked and nervously licked her lips. Rolling her eyes, Buffy waved her hand in front of the girl’s face. “Hello? Did you want something?”
“Are you –" The girl hesitated, staring at Buffy’s face with eyes wide like she couldn’t look away. "…are you Buffy?”
“That depends. Who’s asking?” Buffy narrowed her eyes as she took the girl’s measure. Something about this whole set-up just felt off. Her shoulders tensed as she watched the Slayer suspiciously, wondering if Simone had followed her to Rome for round two. The hallway behind the girl appeared empty, but that didn't mean much when you were dealing with a bunch of preternatural Slayers trained in stealth. Except this Slayer didn't look like she was dressed for an ambush, but a night out clubbing. Not that Buffy was judging her stylish fashion choices. She'd gone patrolling in skimpier gear in years past, back when she wasn't in charge of a Slayer army and actually had a social life.
The blonde girl laughed as she pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m …” She shook her head before continuing quietly. “I’m Buffy.” She grinned suddenly, her voice gaining strength. “The Vampire Slayer. “
Buffy’s head tilted to the side as her eyes lost focus on the girl’s face. Did she just say…? “Did you just say…huh?”