Title: Thought You Should Know - Chapter 6
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. What happens when Buffy finally discovers Spike is back from the great beyond?
Characters/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, Connor
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 to Shapinglight and Aisalynn for being wonderful betas.
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.
En Route to Los Angeles
Buffy had always loved flying. The exhilaration of takeoff as her body raced forward within the metal bullet, the struggle to defy gravity in the first few seconds off the ground, the way her ears popped as she was carried up into the sky. The otherworldly excitement as she chased her heart which had already flown high above her.
She swelled with emotion and feeling in those first few moments only to settle into a quiet, surreal wonder as the plane leveled at its high altitude. She loved the journey as she passed over the world from on high, enshrined in the fragile safety of metal and mechanics, watching cities and towns in their newly miniature scope.
During the day, she loved passing through the clouds and imagining she could reach through the thick Plexiglas to let the streams of white gossamer float through her fingertips. When night fell, she marveled at the stars that had fallen to Earth to light up the ground below, rivaling the sky in their brilliance.
Buffy loved the way her heart raced as the plane began its descent, how her stomach jumped and her body instinctively leaned forward in anticipation of the landing. How for a few moments she was between worlds, land and sky, and she reveled in the powerful sensation of being pushed forward while the brakes grappled with the force of the plane’s forward momentum.
She felt giddy after every landing as she returned to solid ground. With each step forward the sensation of flying faded away till her land legs were firmly rooted and her heart settled back into her chest. But the true wonder of sensation – it stayed with her long after her fall from the sky. In her memory and imagination she could still feel the clouds whipping past her and see the stars blazing within the black canvas of terra firma.
Buffy loved flying. Or at least she usually did. But this time the race to the sky made her body clench in anxiety and fear.
What if Spike was dead?
The sun breaking through the clouds on the horizon didn’t inspire wonder but made her flinch as she imagined his ashes scattered on the cavernous stone of the Hellmouth floor. The high altitude didn’t lead to pleasant musings about the world below, but made her feel alone and set apart.
What if Spike hadn’t written her again because he’d found someone else?
She imagined him kissing Drusilla, kissing Harmony, kissing an unknown woman in shadow who clutched at his shoulders as he ravished her mouth.
What if Spike no longer loved her?
She imagined him sneering at her, telling her it wasn’t even all that good while it lasted and that he’d already died for her once and wasn’t that enough?
Everything Buffy loved about flying had abruptly shifted until the experience was foreign and terrifying. The only constant that remained was her heart. Her heart that had flown up into the sky as it always did as the plane took off. Her heart that she continued to chase in choked desperation. Yet she feared this one time it was forever lost to her. She would chase her heart across the world but never find it again.
She imagined Spike dead. She imagined him in love with someone else. She imagined him hating her and blaming her for leaving him to die inside the Hellmouth. She imagined so many nightmare scenarios waiting for her at the end of her flight.
Everything she imagined was wrong.
Spike’s head smashed into the pavement from the hard fists bashing him in the face. He growled through his fangs and caught the other vampire by the wrists, flipping him over his head as he whipped his shoulders back against the ground. Using that momentum, he swung his legs back down as he kipped up into a standing position, spinning around on the balls of his feet. His snarl fell when he looked at the cloud of dust where his opponent should have lain. He glared at his hunting companion who was supposed to have stayed on the sidelines for the fight.
Connor shrugged. “Sorry. You were just taking your sweet time. I figured I'd finish him off for you.”
Spike looked up at the sky in disbelief before turning his narrowed gaze on Angel’s son. “You know, next time you decide to come a-visitin’ Uncle Spike, you might wanna think about giving me some incentive to actually issue the invite. Here’s a hint – don’t bogart my kill. I’ve been hunting that lowlife wanker for the better part of a week and when I finally get him out in the open, you…” Spike growled again.
Connor raised his hands up. “Hey! Sorry. Won’t happen again. It just looked like you were getting your face pummeled, is all.”
“Pfft. I had him right where I wanted ‘im.”
“You’re right. I see that now. I was wrong. So very wrong.” Connor face twitched as he struggled to keep from smirking.
Spike glared at Connor before bending down to pick up his forgotten stake, shoving it angrily into his jacket pocket. “Didn’t ask when you showed up on my doorstep all pathetic looking, but why are you here anyway? Shouldn’t Papa Bear be shitting his proverbial brick right about now what with you subjecting yourself to my bad influence?”
“Nah, Dad’s cool with me taking a vacation. Or he would be if I’d told him about it.” The smile faded from Connor’s face. “I just needed to get away for a little bit.”
Spike sighed and started walking through the charred remains of the casino lobby. Halfway to the door, he turned to look at Connor who stood frozen in place. Spike raised his eyebrows and jerked his head towards the exit, waiting for Connor to start walking forward before he continued on.
“So how’d you know he’d be here? The vamp.” Connor ducked under a fallen ceiling beam as he waited for Spike’s explanation.
“Place burned down about a year ago.” Spike looked around at the blackened walls. “Perfect hideout for our kind.”
“But how’d you figure he was here? I’ve been helping you track him for the past day and his scent was nowhere in the area. No trail to follow.”
“Wasn’t him I was following.” Spike breathed in deeply through his nostrils. “You smell that?”
Connor closed his eyes and inhaled. After a few moments, he opened his eyes to look at Spike questioningly. “What? What is it?”
“That scent. Destruction. Despair. Fear. Death. It’s all burned into the walls here. It’s irresistible to a demon.” Spike’s eyes hardened. “Bastard couldn’t stay away.”
They walked in silence to Spike’s Viper parked a few blocks away from the abandoned remains of the casino. Connor stared at the massive dent above the front passenger tire. He absently kicked the tire as he waited for Spike to unlock the door. Slipping inside, he turned to look at Spike and nodded in the direction of the dent. “What happened?”
Spike glanced at Connor while he turned the ignition and started driving back towards home. “Vänrak demon.”
“I had no idea Vänraks were so evil. Going around denting expensive sports cars.” Connor shook his head in mock disillusionment. “Petty vandalism. It’s just so…petty. Did he at least leave a note with all his insurance info?”
Annoyed, Spike turned to look at Connor. “It wasn’t vand – don’t make me pull this car over.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it. Who knows what else this Vänrak did to your car? I’m just praying it’ll get us back to your place before it dies on us.” Connor settled back into his seat with his arms crossed over his chest, smiling as he looked out the window.
Spike kept his mouth shut, driving in silence. He stroked the steering wheel with his thumbs, occasionally patting it in a placating manner. Connor looked at Spike out of the corner of his eye, certain he’d heard Spike murmuring ‘sorry, sweetheart’ under his breath. He decided that would be taking the weird to all new heights and pretended he didn’t have superhuman hearing that could discern a pin dropping from 100 feet away.
Connor turned to stare out the window, hunching down into his seat. He sighed and looked back at Spike. Staring ahead at a scratch in the dashboard, he broke the silence. “Gwen and I broke up. Again.”
Spike turned his head slightly without losing sight of the road. “Sorry to hear that,” he said softly after a prolonged silence.
Connor exhaled loudly. “Yeah well, I should’ve known it wasn’t gonna work. After what she did. We tried, but I guess…” Connor stared down at the floorboard of the car. “I guess once you lose the trust, you can’t get it back. I kept waiting for her to stab me in the back like before. To turn on me.” Connor squeezed his eyes shut, holding them closed for a few seconds before blinking rapidly. He pushed back hard against the headrest, bracing himself with the reassuring pressure. “The worst part is that I still love her. I just can’t stand to be around her. Because of the person I become, the things I think and feel. I don’t want to be the guy who’s always wondering when his girlfriend is going to betray him again.”
Spike grunted. “’ve been there. A few hundred times with Dru. She’d always wander off, playing around with other demons till she got bored and decided to come home. And I’d always take her back. Always. Managed to convince myself she really loved me and that it was just her being…Dru. But there was always a part of me that knew she’d do it again. Took a long time before I finally learned to stop making excuses for her.”
Connor squinted. “How’d you do that?”
Spike chuckled painfully. “Fell in love with someone else. As far as easy solutions go, I don’t recommend it. The cure was just as painful as the disease. Maybe more.” Spike’s voice became solemn. “Most definitely more.”
“So you wish you’d never fell in love with this other girl?”
Spike scowled at Connor. “Don’t be an idiot.”
Connor shook his head, his brow furrowed. “Then I don’t get it. You said falling for this other girl was worse than being with Dru. Worse than being with a woman that cheated on you, that you couldn’t trust.”
“Never said it was worse. Said it was painful.” Spike stared straight ahead at the horizon. He continued in a soft voice, musing. “Pain isn’t always a bad thing, you know. Pain lets you know you’re still alive inside. Pain shows you how deep the feeling goes. You’ll never truly know love till you’ve gotten your heart ripped out of your chest. Heartbreak is part of the way love works its will. Love brings the highest highs and the lowest lows. Love takes you to an all new dimension of pain. Nothing can compare to the ecstasy of a bleeding heart.”
Connor shook his head again, confused. “I think I’ll pass. I’ve had enough pain to last a dozen lifetimes.”
Spike blinked, his eyes refocusing on the road ahead. “Yeah. Guess so.”