Title: Thought You Should Know - Chapter 4
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: Special thanks to sueworld2003 for the beautiful banner and aisalynn for being an amazing beta.
Comics Background Info: 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.
“Huh? Who are you?” Buffy repeated herself dazedly, shaking her head in confusion.
“I’m Buffy the –”
“Yeah, you said that already. But who the hell are you?” Buffy’s voice shook with anger as she clenched her jaw. Her hands tightened into fists as she leaned forward to force the girl to answer. And suddenly it clicked. Rome. Andrew. A girl that looked familiar because she looked a bit like Buffy herself. Even down to the stylish clothes Buffy had been coveting a few moments ago. It was the sort of outfit Buffy would wear if she had a choice, if she’d been living a different life. This girl was the decoy set up by Andrew to provide a cover for Buffy’s secret location. “You’re her. The girl Andrew – ”
The other Buffy was already nodding. “Yeah, I’m her. And you’re…you. Wow.” The girl spoke in quiet awe, eyes wide with amazement. Buffy recognized that look. She’d seen it on hundreds of newly called Slayers’ faces. Like she was Gandhi, Rambo and Barack Obama all rolled up into a cute, blond Slayer package. She was a legend and very uncomfortable with the star status. Even Simone held a wealth of respect for Buffy, though apparently not enough to stop wreaking havoc.
Buffy’s rigid stance loosened when she realized the girl in front of her wasn’t a threat. As the tension drained away, all the exhaustion held off by the rush of adrenaline and anger came flooding back. She shook her head, trying to find focus. “So what are you doing here?”
The girl broke eye contact to look down both sides of the empty hallway. “Can I come in?” she asked hesitantly.
Buffy nodded absently, stepping back to let the girl enter her room. She closed the door and turned to look again at her visitor, taking closer note of her appearance. Superficially, they could have been confused for sisters or even twins. But there were some marked differences. This girl’s eyes were a bright, clear green compared to Buffy’s hazel color. She was a few inches taller than Buffy and not as petite in build.
The general resemblance was striking and from a distance Buffy imagined that anyone who knew her would initially be fooled by this doppelganger. Even the girl’s hair was styled to perfectly match Buffy’s in cut and color, though her twin actually took the time to style it so it flowed and curled softly against her shoulders. Buffy found herself throwing her own hair up into a ponytail nine times out of ten. No time to style it in between training sessions, nightly slayage, trips to the future and massive attacks on downtown Tokyo.
The most noticeable difference in the girl’s face was her nose, straight and rounded at the tip. Buffy resisted the urge to rub her own nose in response. Not that she was still self-conscious about it - she’d gotten over that in high school. She’d totally gotten over it. Buffy bit her lip and looked down, noticing for the first time how pale her skin had become. Her twin boasted a radiant tan, the kind of tan Buffy could only get from a tanning bed nowadays as she spent most of her time in Scotland where sunshine was a rare commodity. Buffy rubbed her arms self-consciously. It felt like looking at a more attractive version of herself.
Buffy remembered Giles telling her a story about a cave where people were chained and forced to watch the world through the shadows projected on the walls. That there was a place where perfect forms existed, the pure versions of the distorted forms found in the real world. This girl who was pretending to be Buffy had somehow upstaged the real one. It made her feel like she was a broken copy, inferior. Buffy crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. Her stare met the other girl’s eyes expectantly. “So?”
“I shouldn’t be here, ya know? Us being seen in the same place at the same time? Badness.” The other Buffy started pacing from the window back to the center of the room, skirting around the corner of the bed each time she passed it.
Buffy watched her twin working up the nerve to answer her question. The girl seemed torn, wanting to speak but holding back. Watching her move around the room with so much nervous energy made Buffy feel her exhaustion even more acutely. She gazed longingly at the bed then back at her energetic guest. Exasperated, Buffy cleared her throat loudly. “Look, whatever-your-name-is. You came here for a reason, right? Not to just do a few hundred laps around my room?”
The girl stopped mid-walk to look back at Buffy over her shoulder. She sighed dejectedly and sat down on the bed, shaking her head worriedly. “I just don’t know where to start. It’s not like I’ve ever done this before.”
Buffy’s eyes twitched slightly as she watched the girl cross her arms defensively to hug herself as she sat on the corner of the bed. Her bed. Her jaw tightened reflexively and she started to grind her teeth. Be nice, be patient, don’t snap at her. “Why don’t you start with why you’re here?” Buffy said slowly through gritted teeth and a stiff smile.
The girl looked up to stare into Buffy’s eyes, a solemn expression on her face. “I have something of yours. Something that belongs to you.”
Buffy jerked back in surprise at those words, laughing slightly. “It’s not a weapon stuck in block of stone, is it? ‘Cause I already have one of those.”
The girl laughed. “No, it’s definitely not a weapon. It’s a – ” Her smile faded slowly and her eyes became a bit sad. “It’s a letter.”
“A letter?” Buffy smiled suddenly. “That’s it? So why the dire? Unless you think the postal service has been infiltrated by evil and needs to be slayed? Which I’m not saying isn’t possible. Just that we kinda have more urgent priorities right now.” Chuckling, Buffy walked over to sit in the chair facing the bed. Her eyes sparkled with restored good humor as she held out her hand.
The other Buffy looked away and reached into her bag to pull out an envelope. She started to hand it over only to stop and hold it between both hands in her lap, head hanging down. “It’s not the original one. I don’t have that anymore. But it’s a scanned version I uploaded onto my computer.” She looked up at Buffy, then down at the envelope. "I thought I should give it to you in person."
“Okay. Fine.” Buffy stretched her arm out further, palm upwards to accept the letter. The girl handed it over reluctantly and looked down. Buffy shook her head and pulled the folded letter out.
Buffy - I’ve tried so many times to think of the perfect words to say to you. To let you know I was back from the great beyond.
Back? No. How? Buffy’s eyes widened in shocked disbelief as she read on, her head shaking from side to side in denial. She began to feel dizzy as she forgot to breathe out, finally gasping when her body forced her to exhale. The words bled together as her eyes watered with suppressed emotion. Her chest burned. A tear slipped down her cheek unnoticed until it dropped onto the sheet of paper Buffy gripped with taut fingers. She blotted at the moisture, frowning as the ink smeared.
Spike was alive. Or at least he was when he wrote this letter. The way he wrote, he made it sound like his being “back” might not last past the night he mailed this to her. The bed creaked as her forgotten guest fidgeted awkwardly. Buffy’s head shot up.
“When did you get this?” she interrogated, eyes fierce.
“It was…” the girl trailed off nervously in the face of Buffy’s intense stare.
“When?” Buffy demanded.
“A year ago. Almost. It was back in May. Or maybe June. Around then.” The girl’s voice wavered uncertainly.
“And were there any other letters after this? Did he write again?”
The girl shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry.” She looked at Buffy sympathetically.
Buffy’s eyes widened as she tried to blink back her tears. She struggled to swallow over the knot in her throat. Her body seemed to fold in on itself. She let her head fall forward, her lower lip quivering as she leaned her head slightly to rest on her upraised shoulder.
The girl’s eyes filled with emotion as she watched Buffy, not knowing what to say. “I’m sorry. I just…I thought you should know.” She finished softly.
Buffy raised her head woodenly at those last words, nodding slowly as she stared through the girl in front of her. Her expression went blank as she swallowed and blinked
involuntarily every few seconds.
The girl stood up slowly and moved to leave. As she passed the vanity mirror halfway to the door, she turned to look at Buffy one last time. Buffy hadn’t moved. She sat frozen, staring off into space, no expression on her face. The girl turned back towards the door and took a step forward, gasping in surprise as a hand on her arm jerked her to a stop and whipped her around to face Buffy again.
The girl panted slightly, looking into Buffy’s stormy eyes still wet with unshed tears. Buffy’s gaze traveled over the girl’s face as her grasp on the girl’s arm remained firm. It would have broken a normal human’s arm, but even for a Slayer her grip felt unbearably tight. Buffy opened her mouth, her lips moving as if to speak yet no sound came out.
“You said… “ Buffy’s voice trailed off as she noticed the mirror on the wall behind them. Her eyes narrowed as she pulled the girl around like a doll so they both stood facing the mirror. With her free hand, Buffy reached out to touch her own reflection then that of the girl standing next to her. They were identical. All the minor differences Buffy had noticed earlier had disappeared. The girl’s reflection looked exactly like Buffy. Buffy looked away from the reflection to look at the girl’s face, turning back to the mirror with eyes wide in amazement.
“Magic.” The girl whispered softly. She nodded at her reflection. “That’s how everyone sees me now. You’re the only one who doesn’t see the illusion. Except when…” She nodded at the mirror again.
“Who are you?” Buffy shook her head from side to side, hoping to clear her vision.
The girl smiled sadly. “I’m Buffy.”
Buffy continued to shake her head. “No, that’s not your real name.”
The girl looked away from Buffy to gaze at her reflection. “That’s who I am now. If I forget, if I think for a second that I’m anyone else, I put lives in danger. I am Buffy. That’s who I have to be.”
Buffy let go of the girl’s arm, letting her hand drop limply to her side. She stood in silence, too stunned to respond. The girl turned to leave again and Buffy suddenly remembered.
“Wait! You said…you said that you didn’t have the original copy anymore.” The girl turned to look at Buffy, her eyes wary. Buffy swallowed tightly before continuing. “What happened to it?”
The girl looked down and licked her lips. “It’s gone. I don’t have it anymore.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You don’t have it?” The girl shook her head guiltily. “Who does have it?” Buffy asked slowly, eyes intent.
The girl’s head hung even lower, her head shaking slightly as she turned to pull open the door. She paused in the doorway and finally raised her eyes to look at Buffy directly. “I gave it away. I don’t know what happened to it after that.”
“Who did you give it to?” Buffy spoke in a low tone, holding the girl’s gaze without blinking.
The girl sighed. “Mr. Giles. I gave it to Mr. Giles.”